Photo by Bohdan Piasecki
Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
I applied to be considered as a performer at Poetry & Words in 2011 and was lucky enough to be accepted. It was my first time performing poetry at Glastonbury in an official capacity (I once drunkenly performed a hastily written poem called ‘Inflatable Love’ during a friend’s ‘wedding’ in the Chapel of Love in 2002).
Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
Expect the best
Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
A sleep-deprived, trudging, gruelling ordeal you’ll remember as the best ascension into the part of yourself you hitherto never suspected could feel so connected. And I recommend the square pies. And constipation.
Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?
It’s too unfair to single out just two, but I’ll pick one from the South and one from North with the understanding that they are in a pool of lovelies I respect hugely. Firstly Anna Freeman from Bristol – Warmth and honesty are always the first things I connect with in poetry, closely followed by intelligence and the ability to make me laugh out loud. This lass has the quadrilogy, combined with a fierce power and open vulnerability as a performer which puts you – as the audience – in safe hands and in great company. Secondly Ann Porro from Northumberland. Ann is relatively new to the scene but eminently watchable. Her unassuming demeanour as a performer belies a huge intellect and a knack for nailing that acute sideways perspective that makes you go “Damn, I’d wish I’d written that!”
Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
Sounds lazy, but whatever happens to be going on from the world at war to the anal minutiae of deciphering the ambiguity in any given conversation. I write a lot about parenthood at the moment – the way my son and stepdaughter have forged a version of me I never believed could be so organised. Or furious.
Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?
It’s a long list of the strange. Promoters think poets are up for the weird. I’m generally quite shy but historically so impressionable that I do wonder whether I’m a schizophrenic exhibitionist. I’ve screamed a poem about the Angel of the North in an open top bus whilst trundling down Gateshead High Street. I’ve performed an ‘Ode to EasyJet’ with Kate Fox over an aircraft tannoy, thirty three thousand feet up for the programme ‘Airline’. And myself, Kate and Mike Garry got cajoled by Kat Francois into performing (without permission or amplification or artificial stimulation) in Stratford East Tube Station during rush hour. It is my belief that given the right amount of persuasion, any one of us is capable of soberly shouting rubbish in the street.
Q7) What are you working on at the moment?
Juggling the day job (I’m a web designer and illustrator) with family, running and writing. I took a break from performing earlier in the year to build up some new stuff. I’d been performing the same old same old for ages and I was losing the meaning of it. I’m just starting to book the gigs again, so stay tuned for more Tyrrellian stupidity.
Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
Blancmange. Which my stepdad used to pronounce (in all seriousness) ‘blank-manj’. We didn’t get on.
Q9) Can we have a poem please?
This is ‘If You go Down to the Woods’, Written over 10 years ago and performed at Pink Lane Poetry, Newcastle in November 2010. It’s a cheeky little love letter to the Brothers’ Grimm:
Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?
YES, I’m a web designer and NO, I don’t have a website. Crazy and lazy I know, but I will rectify that as soon as I’ve decided which font to write my name in (these things are important). However, there’s a selection of my stuff on YouTube. And anyone with access to Sky Atlantic can see me perform a poem about Newcastle to the actor Alan Cumming in the repeat of ‘Urban Secrets,’ which will be shown on the evening of Thursday 6th December at 8pm, and again on Sunday 9th at the same time.
You can also become my friend on Facebook provided you’re a nice, friendly soul who won’t weird me out. I put new poems in the ‘notes’ section.