Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
Some of the facts may be distorted by memory – this is Glastonbury we’re talking about after all. I think I first went to the festival in the early 90’s and connected with the Poetry&Words Tent in 1997’ish’. I’m just not sure. I was still cutting teeth as a naïve performer when I first enrolled into the community that Pat V T West had created there as a performer, doing a 15 minute set at first.
Back in Bristol, I co-hosted and coordinated the Verscity Slam for 3 or so years, with my wife Christine E Ramsey-Wade, and on the back of that we were invited to host the Glastonbury Poetry Slam at least a couple of times. That was a real privilege; we got to give away guest performer tickets for the following year to the winners. We were, quite literally, invited to a place we love to do a thing we love which resulted in us giving artists we loved a prize they loved.
Speaking of love, there is a real soul connection too; Glastonbury Festival is one of my favourite places on earth, I love it, and I love the essence of the artists, performers and poets that the environment tends to attract. I’ve been back a few times since, most recently as host of the open mic. in 2010; that too was a real privilege, sharing in the creation of the magic.
Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry & Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
Artistic, routes, extravagstanza.
Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
In three more words? Get a ticket.
Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?
Yes. I could name 20 before pausing to draw breath for thought; but if we are sticking at just two, I must choose wisely… Wait… I actually can’t do this, so instead I will tell you that these aren’t my “favourite poets” per se, but… Soul Thomas Williams’ performance of “Ohm” in the 1996 US national finals from the film Slam Nation is one of the single most inspiring performances of Hip Hop / Slam / Poetry fusion that I’ve ever seen:
You can’t write lines like, “I burn seven day candles that melt into twelve inch circles on my mantle and spin funk like myrrh” without someone pointing out how awesome that is. He won the individual prize that year. Rudyard Kipling’s “If” (voted the nation’s favourite poem) is another of my all time ever things, in and out of the world of poetry:
Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
Ha, don’t get me started! Contradictions. When apparently good people have polarized views, either they have something to learn, or I do.
Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?
The Galleries shopping centre in Bristol was unusual; people don’t come to a shopping centre to listen to poetry, do they? It was a very rewarding feeling when people did stop. At one point we had people peering over the balconies from the two floors above us. But, hands down, a rock bar in Den Heldar, Holland, was definitely the most challenging. It was a place where Friday night drinkers came to listen to loud music. It was rowdy and I didn’t think they could even understand what we were saying; I actually thought we were going to get lynched at one point but it turns out they loved us. As the barman put it, “Things would have been a lot worse if they didn’t like you!”
Q7) What are you working on at the moment?
A table. Da dum dum ching! My wife, kids and the daze job keep me busy, but I do find time for my bi-weekly outlet, Acoustic Night Bristol. Also, I have been looking back through about 5 years of unfinished ideas with a view to completing them as works. After reading an article on Facebook that I found shared by the troubadour that is known as Jo Bell, “20 top tips for writers,” I came to realize how much I needed to be reminded that writing and editing are two separate processes. This has really re-opened the channels for the juices to flow through. Amazing how much more you can achieve when you switch your self-critical gene off. This doesn’t mean that I’ll have a load more performable pieces but it does mean I’ll have more pieces and I reckon that one, two or a few of them will be performable by the time I’m done.
Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
Purple. Let’s put this in a sentence, shall we? “I watched her pull her purple cart up to the line that marked the start of the shooting gallery, or range.” “Pint” is another tough one.
Q9) Can we have a poem please?
OK. This is from the Skype overload slam, the world’s first, and currently last, Skype video link poetry slam. Bristol VS Melbourne from opposite sides of the world! I think this is the only available video there is of any of my work so, oh well:
Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?
I don’t do self-promotion. Come to Acoustic Night in Bristol, so that we can learn more about your work: