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…
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)
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!
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
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
Attila the Stockbroker
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…