Less than one month to go!

And we’ve still got jewels to flash. Here’s another 5 ways to fuel your festival…

John Hegley

John Hegley

For my birthday 16 years ago I was given a slim volume by a friend titled ‘Can I come down now, Dad?’ by John Hegley. I’d never heard of the author. I was amused and intrigued instantly by the squiggly charming drawing of a slight man with glasses nailed to a cross on the cover. The bounty within the pages met and surpassed my expectations formed by that hastily and wonderfully penned image. Tiny perfect vignettes of absurd human frailty, loss and regret waltzed with comic grace across the pages partnered with a quiet underlying optimism that surged through it like a stick of Luton Rock.

The same friend who bought me that book then took me to a gig of John’s at Newcastle University that same year. I was amazed at a performance that waltzed as sure-footed as the words on the page, but with more pathos, more melancholy and more silliness. It was pure joy and I wanted to write poetry instantly. And I wanted it to be funny and silly and mean something. So that’s what I’ve tried to do ever since, and 16 years later I’m proud to have performed on the same stage as John Hegley several times and he is still the undisputed master and superstar of comic poetry. DO. NOT. MISS. HIM.

Mr Hegley was born in Newington Green, North London, and was educated in Luton, Bristol and Bradford University.  His first public performance monies came from busking his songs, initially outside a shoeshop in Hull, in the late Seventies. He performed on the streets of London in the early Eighties, fronting the Popticians, with whom he also recorded two sessions for John Peel, and has since been a frequent performer of his words, sung and spoken, on both local and national radio.

He has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces, two CDs and one mug, but his largest source of income is from stages on his native island. An Edinburgh Festival regular, he is noted for his exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and the misery of human existence.  He is an occasional DJ, dancer and workshop leader, using drawing, poetry and gesture. He has been awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts from what is now the University of Bedfordshire, and once performed in a women’s prison in Columbia.

www.johnhegley.co.uk

 

Harry Baker

Harry Baker

I await to see this young man perform with great anticipation. Watch him perform at TED here. I dare you not to be moved by him.

Harry Baker has just graduated from studying Maths and German at the University of Bristol. In this time there he became the youngest ever World Poetry Slam Champion, has had his work shared on the homepage of TED.com and viewed over a million times online, and accidentally become an international rap battler. This year following two successful 5-star runs he is taking a third show up to the Edinburgh Fringe festival based on his debut Anthology ‘The Sunshine Kid’, published by Burning Eye in December. Having performed all around the globe he is excited to take to the Glastonbury stage for the first time, before taking off on a lifetime of adventures now his studies are finished. Whether it’s Gangsta Maths raps, Dinosaur love poems, or bilingual falafel-based tongue twisters, Harry’s playful way with words and interwoven honest narratives have made him a festival favourite across the country and continent in the past, so let’s hope this year is no different. “Simply put – the greatest performer on Earth.” – Scott Mills Show, Radio 1.

Charlotte Higgins 

Charlotte Higgins

I could listen to this girl all damn day, but alas I’ve only got two 20 minute slots to do that, and so have you, so make sure you catch her. Check her out here.

Charlotte Higgins is a poet, and a postgraduate student at Cambridge University. A previous winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award (2010) and SLAMbassadors UK (2012), she is the Young Poet in Residence at the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.

Charlotte has performed at Latitude Festival, at the Proms, at the Royal Festival Hall, and at the Nuyorican Poetry Café in New York. She competed in the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Final (2014), and was a finalist in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam (2013), as well as winning the Strawberry Slam in Cambridge (2013). Charlotte has recently performed at TEDxCambridge, where she gave a talk and performance about poetry, and at the Women of the World Festival (2015) in the Southbank Centre. Later in 2015, she’s looking forward to supporting Hollie McNish on the Cambridge leg of her UK tour.

Charlotte is an active member of Burn After Reading poetry collective, led by Jacob Sam-La Rose. She runs and hosts Speakeasy, a successful Cambridge poetry night.

 

Kayo Chingonyi

Kayo Chingonyi copyright Naomi Woddis

A beautiful man with true and beautiful words that cut clean and sharp. See here.

Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, moving to the UK in 1993. He holds a BA in English Literature from The University of Sheffield and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and works as a writer, events producer, and creative writing tutor.

His poems have been published in a range of magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Magma, Wasafiri, The Best British Poetry 2011 and 2013 (Salt Publishing, 2011 and 2013), The Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt Publishing, 2011), Out Of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012), The World Record (Bloodaxe, 2012), and in his first book entitled Some Bright Elegance (Salt Publishing, 2012).

Kayo has also been invited to read from his work at venues and events across the UK and internationally in Mexico, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi. In 2012 he represented Zambia at Poetry Parnassus, a festival of world poets staged by The Southbank Centre as part of the London 2012 Festival. He was recently awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and shortlisted for the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize.

Wil Greenway

Wil Greenway

Here to lighten your festival and add liberally to the bonkers of Glastonbury, give it up for Mr. Greenway…

Wil Greenway is a London-based storytelling comedian from Melbourne.  He’s a survivor of the Australian festival circuit, a regular at The Bus Driver’s Prayer, an occassional face on Australian TV and a fairly average barista.  Since 2010 Wil has been writing and performing critically acclaimed festival shows.  He is co-creator of The Lounge Room Confabulators (Winner of The Underbelly Edinburgh Award and The Adelaide Fringe Award), and the lonely idiot behind A Night to Dismember (runners up Best Comedy and Best Comedy Performer at Auckland Fringe) and Vincent Goes Splat (“an absurd and yet utterly human story” – Daniel Kitson).  Wil has recently sold out shows in Ediburgh, Melbourne, Oslo and London, and quit his awful coffee job to act in a film in Australia.  Currently he’s working on For the Ground that Grew Me, which will premiere at Underbelly for the Edinburgh Fringe this August.

www.facebook.com/heywilgreenway

@willgreenway

And after all this lot, we’re still not done rolling out the legends. More poets to come, and some very special interviews…

Scott 🙂

 

More festival folk flowing with florilegia

Some more of those wordy weavers of stonking stanzas. And me at the end 🙂

Antosh Wojcik

Antosh Wojcik

A true rising star. I saw Antosh perform at Glastonbury last year. An annoyingly talented young man, so crisp in his thought and realization for one so young and very good looking too. He’s quite charming as well. And self-effacing. He’s probably nice to children and animals as well. Your relatives would no doubt end up loving him more than you. Tell you what, I’ll give you his official biog before I weep with bitterness 😉

Antosh Wojcik is a poet, writer, performer. He was joint winner of The Roundhouse Poetry Slam 2013 and is a member of the poetry collectives, Kid Glove and Burn After Reading. He  writes for The Flashnificents blog. He is a resident artist at The Roundhouse and was part of Poejazzi’s cross-art collaboration, Howl 2.0. He has performed poetry around the UK at festivals such as Poetry&Words at Glastonbury, Bestival, In The Woods and at leading events such as TEDx EastEnd, Tongue Fu, Bang Said The Gun, Outspoken and various Apples and Snakes gigs. He was a poet-coach shadow as part of Spoke’s inter-school slam project, WORDCUP 2014, and leads poetry and writing workshops in schools. He writes to see and learn about people.

Carly BrownCarly Brown

Very excited about seeing this poet, having watched her winning poem at the Scottish National slam championships. Which you can see here.

Carly Brown is an American writer based in Scotland. In 2013, she won the Scottish National Championships of Slam Poetry and placed fourth at the World Series of Slam Poetry in Paris. She performs regularly in the UK and the US. In Edinburgh, she has been featured by The Scottish Storytelling Centre, Rally and Broad, Loud Poets and the National Library of Scotland. In St Andrews, she has performed at two TedX Conferences, a St Andrews University graduation dinner and at StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival. Her first chapbook, Grown Up Poetry Needs to Leave Me Alone, was released in 2014 from Knockingdoor Press. Her first children’s book, I Love St Andrews, will be published in Spring 2015 from Cartographie Press. She is currently completing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

 

Luke Wright

Luke Wright by Steve Ullathorne

One of performance poetry’s major voices. I first met Luke at a poetry slam in Bristol 13 years ago and in that time his career has gone stratospheric and as gravity-defying as his hair. A real professional and a must see.

Luke Wright writes bawdy bar room ballads about small town tragedies and Westminster rogues. His fast paced, witty poems are crammed full of yummy mummies, debauched Tory grandees, maudlin commuters and leering tabloid paps. His live shows are enjoyed by thousands of people across the world every year, where he mixes the wistful with the downright comic to take audiences on an incredible emotional journey.

Since 2006 he has written and performed eight one man shows, touring them to top literary and arts festivals from Australia to Scotland via Hong Kong and Bruges. His current show Stay-at-Home Dandy tours March – June 2015. In August 2015 he’ll be taking Stay-at-Home Dandy and What I Learned From Johnny Bevan to the Edinburgh Fringe. What I Learned From Johnny Bevan is Wright’s theatre debut and features a score by Ian Catskilken from Art Brut.

Luke’s debut collection – Mondeo Man – was published in 2013 by hip London imprint Penned in the Margins. George Szirtes said it was:
“Not only verbally substantial, skilful and very funny but also complex in its feeling.”

Ian McMillan described it as
“an excellent book.”

 

Sara Hirsch

Sara Hirsch

I haven’t had the privilege to see Sarah live yet, but if this poem is anything to go by, I can’t bloody wait. Witty, honest and impeccably performed.

Sara Hirsch is a London based performance poet known for her witty, accessible and heartfelt poetry which challenges the world around her, tells a story or simply entertains. A multiple Slam Winner (including Hammer and Tongue, Genesis and Nozslam) Sara was the 2013/14 UK Slam Champion, recently came third in the World Slam Championships in Paris and was a semi-finalist in the European Slam Championships 2014. She was also awarded the Farrago award for Best Slam Performance 2013 and was voted runner up in the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Finals last year.

Sara has performed across the Country including features at Richmix (Apples & Snakes), Hammer and Tongue, Pleasance Edinburgh, Southbank Centre, Larmer Tree Festival, MAC Birmingham, Brighton Dome and Nozstock, was the April poet in residence at Bang Said The Gun, recently appeared on BBC Radio 2 and performed live on the BBC At The Edinburgh Fringe with Anneka Rice. Sara also regularly hosts Hammer and Tongue Camden and since September proudly produces the Genesis Slam, London’s only regular 3 round slam.  She has also been known to write the odd Haiku, normally including a terrible pun.

Sara will be performing her debut solo show “How Was it For You?” at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer and will be featuring at a number of festivals including Nozstock and Larmer Tree. This is Sara’s first Glastonbury and she can’t wait to be knee deep in mud alongside some of her favourite performers and peers.

“A  master of brevity, fluidity and building tension.” Unpublishables

“Sara has the unique ability to flip the atmosphere in the room. Her work is sharply observant and her storytelling fluent and accessible.” Slate The Disco.

 

Scott Tyrrell

Scott Tyrrell by James Sebright

So this is me. Look at that serious fierce-looking face, completely belying the fact that I’m about as scary as a bag of Haribo.

So, I used to do standup comedy over 10 years ago when I lived in Manchester before getting married and becoming a dad. I live and work back home in Newcastle now as a graphic designer, poet and occasional illustrator of owls that look like famous authors. I’ve won 13 poetry slams around the UK and recently, the Great Northern Slam at Northern Stage and The Anti-Slam Apocalypse at the Roundhouse. I’ve also been a twice regional winner of BBC Radio 4’s poetry slam.

I’ve performed at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh fringe, the Prague Fringe, the Big Chill, Kendal Calling, the Larmer Tree festival and various literature festivals including Cheltenham. I’ll also be performing at Womad and the Lindisfarne festival later this year.

My first full collection ‘Grown Up’ was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2014 and is already well into its second print run. (I’m told this is pleasantly unusual for poetry books, but my publisher may be humouring me about that.) It’s also available on Kindle.

Nice review about me:
“I have been fortunate to perform alongside Scott on a few occasions at both Glastonbury and Larmer Tree festivals, and each time he has astounded the audience and left them simultaneously creased with laughter and wiping their eyes. Poignant, powerful and undoubtedly poetic” – Joelle Taylor

Nice review about ‘Grown Up’
“With ‘Grown Up’ Scott Tyrrell has shown himself to be both Big and Clever. It is every bit as accessible as you’d expect from a writer who has honed his craft in performance” – Matt Harvey

And this is a bit of me, and another bit of me.

 

Stay tuned. Some real legends on the way very soon…

 

5 more Wunderwordsmiths

I’m not done dishing out the quality, because this is Glastonbury Poetry and the Big G doesn’t do mediocre.

Anna Freeman

Anna Freeman

Allow me to gush unbidden about this woman. I love her dearly. I met Anna at Glasto in 2011 and instantly wanted to be her best friend. A joyful presence on stage – genuinely funny, sincere, utterly likeable, warm, passionate, giving, yet simultaneously someone you would never want to f*** with. On top of being a top performer and poet, she’s also a best-selling critically-acclaimed novelist. She’d be unbearable if she wasn’t so frickin’ affable. Anna will be doing her first Sunday Showcase spot at Glastonbury, and she’s also agreed to give me an interview on the condition that I draw her as an owl. More about that soon 🙂

Anna Freeman is a novelist, a multiple poetry slam champion, a creative writing lecturer at Bath Spa University and a producer for Bristol Old Vic. Anna has performed her mostly funny, slightly twisted poetry all over the place, including events in Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Vancouver and Seattle. Her first poetry collection, Gingering the World from the Inside, is published by Burning Eye Books.  Her first novel, The Fair Fight, is a pulsating historical adventure set within the world of female prize-fighters and their patrons in 18th century Bristol. The Fair Fight won The Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize 2013, is published by W&N in the UK and by Riverhead in the USA, and has been optioned for TV drama by the BBC.  Her spoken-word-poetry-music show, Animal, with Chris Redmond and the Tongue Fu band, begins a UK tour in autumn 2015.

More info at www.annafreemanwriter.com

Cracking… packs a punch’ – Sunday Express
‘A hearty recommendation for Anna Freeman’ – Guardian Books
‘Wonderfully imagined… a brilliant debut’ – The Times

 

Jess Green and the Mischief Thieves

Jess Green and The Mischief Thieves

Looking forward to this very much indeed. I met Jess last year at Glastonbury just after her Michael Gove poem had gone spectacularly viral. She’s a fantastic encapsulator of the zeitgeist and can’t wait to see what her mischief thieves bring to the party.

Jess Green and the Mischief Thieves are a Midlands-based three piece music and spoken word band telling stories of every day underdogs to the soundtrack of blues, folk, jazz and hip hop. Supported by musicians, Dave Morris and Scott Cadenhead, Jess Green tells the stories of the people who are often unacknowledged in society with themes of politics, education and inequality.  Their full length show, Burning Books was a big success at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 and described as “grippingly inventive and at times immensely touching” by Broadway Baby. After the success of Jess Green’s poem Dear Mr Gove,  the band have been performing at NUT conferences and education rallies up and down the country and are about to take Burning Books on a nationwide tour.

 

MC Gramski

MC Gramski

I hear great things about this guy. A rapper, freestyler and writer of impressive magnitude who’s held his own amongst real greats.

Gramski is an MC from Brighton who’s been freestyle rapping since he was fourteen. At the age of nineteen he went to live in Vietnam where he performed regularly with DJs as well as international artists such as Killa Kela and Goldie. He also had the pleasure of explaining what ‘freestyle rapping’ is to one of the members of the Vietnamese ministry of culture. He not only rapped on stage but in his classroom as an English teacher in Hanoi where he regularly helped students with their pronunciation and grammar through hip hop.

Once he returned to the UK he won freestyle competitions and also began performing at poetry nights with written material. Gramski’s poem ‘British Girls in Bangkok’ received a tremendous response and landed him alongside Scroobius Pip and Hollie McNish at the Brighton Fringe Festival 2014. Gramski is also an MC for The Spoken Herd, a 10 piece hip hop band who focus on the art of improvisation.

Although Gramski has a plethora of written material he is a freestyle rapper at heart. Audiences often give him challenging subjects or just plain absurd ridiculousness to rap about. A freestyler and poet of lanky proportions, Gramski is not to be missed.

 

Rosy Carrick

Rosy Carrick - copyright George Dallimore

Another poet I’ve been hearing a lot about (particularly for being fantastically rude!). Rosy is one half of our compering team this year.

Fantastically scathing and full to the brim with wild and disgusting imagination, Rosy Carrick is an eccentric wit-tastic queen of poetry and MC skillzzz. Unfazed by the fame and fortune afforded her since playing the life-changing role of “child by lake” in Patrick Swayze’s 1987 classic film Dirty Dancing, Rosy now lives in Brighton, where she runs and hosts Hammer & Tongue, one of the UK’s largest spoken word & slam events, amongst many other projects including the cult movie-themed cabaret club night Trailer Trash!, and Brighton’s infamous annual Poets vs. MCs. Co-host of the poetry stage at Latitude festival since 2011, she also performs her own poetry at events and festivals around the country, leaving a trail of bewildered lovestruck fools in her wake.

Rosy is admired worldwide for her inspirational menstrual blood beauty tips videos, and is also currently writing a PhD thesis on the Russian revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky at Sussex University. This year she has edited and contributed to a new Selected Works of Mayakovsky’s poetry, due for publication by Enitharmon Press in November.

“Clever, funny, quarrelsome, querulous, astonishing!” – Sabotage Reviews

 

Dreadlockalien

dreadlockalien

A legend. A compere extraordinaire. Dreadlock can hold and ignite any audience, anywhere. A truly gifted poet, entertainer and a damn good bloke with a very cool hat. Mr. Alien is the other half of the compering team this year.

Birmingham Poet Laureate 2005, Dreadlockalien wanders the world saying poems to people, living a project called Poet Without Residence.  He co-hosts Glastonbury’s Poetry&Words stage and Shambala’s Wandering Word. Dreadlockalien is a trustee of the Green Gathering Charity, fighting for our planet.  Has poems, will travel.

More poets coming thick and fast real soon…

Scott 🙂

 

I trust I can rely on your poets?

It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? Huge elation for some and crushing bewilderment for others, but Poetry&Words is standing on its soap box to welcome the next five eminently electable and delectable poets appearing in a big top in Somerset in late June. Be you left, right, ecstatic or sitting in a darkened room picturing imminent armageddon, this batch will show you manifestos that every poetry lover can get behind…

Dan Simpson

Dan Simpson

A top poet. A top bloke. I had the pleasure of performing with Dan at the Larmer Tree festival a few years ago. His warm, affable, utterly likeable delivery perfectly compliments his razor sharp writing and observation.

As well being a poet he’s also a regular compere. His poetry deals with love and literature, science and stars, people and Pac-Man: all that good geeky stuff. He was Canterbury Laureate 2013-14, and has worked on literature projects for Southbank Centre, Royal Academy of Arts, and National Museum of Scotland. His first collection of poetry is Applied Mathematics, published by Burning Eye Books, and his poems have featured on the BBC and London Underground. As an educator, Dan delivers poetry workshops in schools and for adults, most recently as a Poet Coach for Apples and Snakes’ youth slam project Spoke ‘n’ Word. Dan has performed at major festivals, events, and venues around the UK, including: The National Theatre, Roundhouse, and BBC Radio. He also performed (poetry) at both a hen party and a death metal gig, and is unharmed.

“charmingly geeky” (The Scotsman)
@dansimpsonpoet

 

Paula Varjack

Paula Varjack

A powerful, subversive, unstoppable, sassy poet I’ve had the pleasure of performing with several times.

Paula Varjack is an artist and creative producer.  Trained in filmmaking and performance, she works across theatre, documentary and spoken word. Her work explores identity, our desire for connection, and our relationship with cities.  She is currently developing “Show Me The Money” a solo performance on the relationships artists have with fees and funding. She has performed at numerous arts festivals and cultural spaces including: The V&A, Richmix, Wilton’s Music Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, Glastonbury Festival, Berlin International Literature Festival,  and The Photographer’s Gallery.

I’ll be interviewing both Paula and Dan Simpson about their creative partnership (including the hosting the Glastonbury Poetry Slam) in a future blog!

 

Erin Bolens

Erin Bolens

Meet last year’s Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champ. Bubbling with wit, energy, great writing and a flawless performance. And I should know, I was one of the judges last year.

Erin had only been performing for several months when she won The Glastonbury Poetry Slam in 2014. Originally from Leeds, Erin currently lives in London where she has been performing and writing regularly over the last year. She is also the co-founder of Culture Cake, a new event that promotes emerging performers of poetry, comedy and music. She says that Glastonbury was definitely a tipping point that allowed her to dive into a world of words and she is very appreciative of such a glorious and rare opportunity. Erin has attended the festival since she was seven so is particularly excited to be performing somewhere that has been such a big part of her life.

“Fun, rhythmical and welcoming. Extremely comfortable but not so confident you want to punch her.” – Char March, poet

 

The Antipoet

Antipoet1

I love these guys – funny, ranty, anarchic, silly and tight as the proverbial gnat’s derrière. One of their more dodgier songs I couldn’t get out of my head for days last year. They’ll be doing the warm-up shows at Poetry& Words in June, and I can’t think of anyone better for pulling a crowd into a tent.

The Antipoet, Paul Eccentric and Ian Newman, are together the world’s finest exponents of beatrantin’ rhythm ‘n views!  A delicious mixture of comedy and spoken word. They have tirelessly toured the poetry, comedy and music circuits, and have appeared at countless festivals including, Glastonbury, Edinburgh, Brighton, Ledbury, Camden, Wenlock, Larmer Tree, Nostock, Blyth Power Ashes and Buxton.

“Really, really ace! I like what you do” -Ray Peacock, comedian, FUBAR Radio February 2015
“I might not agree with the sentiment, but you said it well” -The Mayor of Milton Keynes, January 2015
“The Antipoet: Funny-arse Fuckers!” -Mama Tokus, Apples and Snakes, December 2014
“It was lovely to corrupt the festival with you” –Helen Gregory, Poetry&Words, Glastonbury June 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF2FOTKarpc 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQgDWzbwo3o

 

Attila the Stockbroker

Attila

Let’s face it, Glastonbury wouldn’t be Glastonbury without Attila. A stalwart of Poetry&Words for many years. A massive force for aggressive good and guaranteed to pack out the tent. So get a patch of hessian mat early if you want to feel angry, elated and fired up to change the world.

Attila the Stockbroker: ‘Arguments Yard’ is the autobiography of Attila the Stockbroker. Published Sept 8 2015 – the 35th anniversary of Attila’s first gig…

Launched into public consciousness by legendary Radio One DJ John Peel in 1982/83, Attila the Stockbroker has spent 35 years touring the world as a self sustaining  DIY one man cottage industry, performing well over 3000 gigs in 24 countries and releasing about 20 LPs/CDs, 10 EPs and 7 books of poetry.

He toured East Germany 4 times before the Wall came down and twice more immediately afterwards, was involved in the first ever punk performance in Stalinist Albania and had to turn down playing in North Korea because he was already booked to tour sensible old Canada. He once stood in for Donny Osmond at a gig. He was targeted by fascists during the early Eighties and as well as the physical stuff once had a 10 minute stand up political argument with notorious Nazi band Skrewdriver singer Ian Stuart in the middle of a Black Flag gig at the 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street.

Having got an encore as the support act, he was thrown out of his own gig by the bouncers on the orders of the main act John Cale, one of his all time musical heroes. His support acts? They’ve included Manic Street Preachers, Julian Clary, New Model Army and Billy Bragg.  And in the early 80s the incredibly influential Radio One DJ Steve Lamacq was his roadie for a while.

He has led his ‘medieval punk’ band Barnstormer for 20 years as well as the solo stuff – but he did his first ever punk gig as bass player in Brighton Riot Squad in 1977 in Brighton’s legendary Vault, where coffins and skeletons from nineteenth century Huguenot plague victims kept coming through the walls.
Reviewing his first album in the NME, Don Watson said that he would rather gnaw through his own arm than listen to it again! Didn’t deter Attila though: that was 32 years ago. Didn’t deter New Zealand either: when he arrived for his first tour in 1991 both national TV channels were waiting to greet him at the airport.  And when Attila argues with a journalist he knows the score because he is one too, having written for NME, Sounds, Time Out, The Guardian and The Independent among others. He currently does a regular column in the Morning Star.

This book is social history and personal story combined: a cultural activist’s eyewitness journey through the great political battles and movements of recent times. Rock Against Racism/Anti Nazi League, Miners’ Strike, Wapping dispute, Red Wedge, Poll Tax, campaigns against two Gulf Wars. There are memoirs from all over the UK and mainland Europe and his many tours of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, and the centrepiece of the book is the story of his time performing all over East Germany as the campaign for democratic socialist change grew: history observed at first hand.

Back home he had done every Glastonbury Festival since 1983 and organizes his own beer/music extravaganza. Glastonwick, in his native West Sussex. He was at the heart of a 15 year campaign to save his beloved Brighton & Hove Albion FC from oblivion. And he tells of a happy childhood ripped apart by his father’s death  and, forty years later, of  how he and his wife nursed his mother through a 6 year battle with Alzheimer’s.

Above all, though, his message is a simple one:  you don’t need to be ‘a celebrity’ to have a wonderful life earning your living doing what you love. You just have to have a way with words, the self-confidence and organizational ability of Napoleon and a skin thicker than the armour of a Chieftain tank.

The next batch of wunderwordsmiths are coming soon…

Scott 🙂

 

Meet the first 5 poets for Glastonbury Poetry&Words 2015

I promised you a hell of a line up and I wasn’t kidding. Feast your eyes, and come June, your ears on these talented word-workers. I’ve personally had the privilege of performing with 3 of this bunch and they can all deliver lines that will have you involuntary shouting “Yes! Yes!” And then privately, “Damn why didn’t I think of writing that?”

Vanessa Kisuule 

Vanessa Kisuule

Vanessa Kisuule is becoming an incredible force to be reckoned with on the poetry scene. When I performed with her back in 2011 at Glastonbury I was blown away by her power, honesty and effortless skill at making her point stand stronger than the sum of her words.

She has won several slam titles including the Farrago Schools Out Slam Championship 2010, the Bang Said The Gun Award, Poetry Rivals 2011, the Next Generation Slam 2012, Slambassadors 2010,  the South West Hammer and Tongue Slam Champion 2012 and most recently The Roundhouse Slam 2014 and the Hammer and Tongue National Slam 2014. She has worked with the Southbank Centre, The Bristol City Council and the BBC and represented the UK in two European Slam Championships in Sweden and Belgium.  She has performed at an array of festivals, including Glastonbury, Lounge on the Farm, Secret Garden Party, Wise Words, Wilderness and Shambala Festival and renowned poetry events such as Blahblahblah at the Bristol Old Vic, Chill Pill in London, Hit the Ode in Birmingham and Shake the Dust in Plymouth.

She has also recently been involved in the BBC project, “Women Who Spit”. Check out her poem “Take up Space” on BBC iplayer.

Pete the Temp

Pete The Temp

Pete the Temp aka Pete Bearder has got the busiest job of all us poets during the festival. He’s the official ‘Glastonbury Website Poet in Residence’. Oh yeah. Which means he’s going to be gallivanting around the site and seeking inspiration for poetry which he’ll be regularly uploading to the official Glastonbury site. As well as giving radio and TV interviews and meeting celebs, he’ll be finding the time to come and perform in our tent. But he’s a professional. He can take it.

He’s not only a singularly gifted poet, but also an educator, beatboxer and loop pedal artist. His work has been featured on BBC Newsnight, Radio 4 and the World Service. In 2009 he became the Hammer & Tongue National Poetry Slam Champion and last year he did a national tour of his one man stage show ‘Pete (the Temp) vs Climate Change’ in which he single handedly defeated climate change using only his mouth. He has performed poetry to audiences of over 3000 people while touring with the pyro- circus rave band, Slamboree and has workshops and performances in Scandinavia, the Baltic states, and Central and Eastern Europe through Goldsmiths University and The British Council.  In his free time he draw pictures of monkeys.

Megan Beech

Megan Beech

Another incredibly gifted young poet I’ve had the pleasure of performing with at festivals. Effortless delivery with a real point to make that doesn’t shout but pervades through you with passion and persuasiveness.

Megan Beech was the winner of the Poetry Society’s SLAMbassadors national youth slam 2011, and the Poetry Rivals UK under 18 slam 2011. She has performed at venues including Parliament, the Southbank Centre, Latitude, Larmer Tree and Glastonbury Festivals, as well as for institutions including The British Museum, Keats House and the University of Cambridge. Her debut collection ‘When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard’ was published by Burning Eye Books in December 2013 chronicling her experience as a young feminist and the fight for female voices and role-models to be presented in mainstream media. She was featured in The Guardian lists of ‘inspiring young feminists in 2014’ and ‘Must Read Books of the Year 2014’.

Founder of the Everyday Sexism Project and Guardian journalist, Laura Bates states:

‘‘Megan Beech is one of the powerful voices of young feminism today – giving a voice to a new generation of women growing up, examining the status quo and finding it wanting.”

Megan has also been involved with the BBC’s ‘Women Who Spit’ project. This is her poem “you can’t be it, if you can’t see it”. On BBC iplayer.

As well as performing she’ll be hosting the Open Mic at Poetry&Words this year, where the talented, poetic festival-goer can have a go on the hallowed stage.

MiKo Berry

MiKo Berry1

Check out this guy’s credentials: He is the current European Slam Champion and a finalist at last year’s World Slam in Paris. Based in Edinburgh, he is also the founder of the renowned Loud Poets and has performed regularly around the UK, where his flair for combining the finest literary technique with consumate stage savvy has ensured his reputation as a poet and a performer.

“Just unreal” – Hollie McNish

He also professes to be an untalented but enthusiastic dancer. I hope we’ll both get drunk enough to put that to the test at the Stone Circle.

Joaquín Zihuatanejo

Joaquin Zihuatanejo2

Joaquín Zihuatanejo is our Friday night Headliner. He is a poet, spoken word artist, and award-winning teacher. Joaquín has been called by critics:

“one of the most dynamic and passionate performance poets in the country, melding equal parts comedy, poetry, and dramatic monologue into a crowd-pleasing display of verbal fireworks…always thrilling, Joaquín’s hilariously manic presentation is full of compassion and nuance, never sacrificing substance for style, leading many to call him poetry slam’s answer to John Leguizamo.” 

Joaquín was the winner of the 2008 Individual World Poetry Slam Championship besting 77 poets representing cities all over North America, France, Japan, and Australia.  Due to this victory Joaquín was the poet chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2009 European World Cup of Poetry Slam in Paris, France, a competition that he won besting 15 poets from 15 different nations making him the number one ranked slam poet in the world on both sides of the Atlantic. In recent years he has given performances in Mexico, Canada, Spain, Germany, Austria and the Island of Reunion off the coast of South Africa.  Joaquin has shared a stage with Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Billy Collins, and the late Maya Angelou among others.  Joaquín was recently invited by NPR to be interviewed for two upcoming series, Historias and The National Teacher’s Initiative.  Joaquin is the author of four collections of poetry, Barrio Songs, Of Fire and Rain, Family Tree, and Like & Share.  His fifth book, Fight or Flight, is due out late summer of 2015. from CoolSpeak Book Publishing.  Support Joaquin at www.artspeakspoet.com.  Follow him on Twitter @thepoetjz.  Like him on Facebook or Instagram at Joaquin Zihuatanejo.  Joaquín has two passions in his life, his wife Aida, and poetry…always in that order.

So, excited yet? And that’s only the first 5. Stay tuned for more wonderfully talented people in the next few days.

Scott 🙂