Back to perform with us is Luke Wright, 16:35-17:00; Saturday . If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:
In his own words:
“Flamboyant, political and riotously funny, Luke Wright creates inventive poems with loads of heart. Part Essex wide boy, part dandy fop, he writes from the sidelines about small-town tragedies and national farce, then performs his work with snarl and spit.
“As well as his own tours Luke can be seen warming up for Peter Doherty and John Cooper Clarke. This year he celebrates twenty years in the business with a new double vinyl album called ’Twenty’ and a new pamphlet of poems from Rough Trade Books.”
“He must be on some kind of dope.” John Cooper Clarke
“Fierce, wistful, romantic and witty by turns, this is a sensational hour of poetry.” ★★★★★ The Stage
“One of the funniest and most brilliant poets of his generation” The Independent
“Cool poems.” Patti Smith
The first time I saw Luke perform was at a book launch for Ross Sutherland’s book (this would have been autumn 2009, so I’ve no recollection of what it was called) at Heffer’s Bookstore. I’d not long moved to Cambridge, knew approximately two people (neither of whom were there), and a friend from out of town wanted to network at the event, so I went along. Of the original “Aisle 16” group, I only knew Tim Clare, and then only slightly. I suck at networking, so managed to find another shy person who proclaimed themself “bad at networking” and we jabbered quietly to each other about what we might say if we knew what to say. When Luke Wright moved into the performance space, it was clear that this wasn’t something he had an issue with. Slickly blonde in what my memory insists was a three-piece, double-breasted suit, he outright gleamed, stood taller (literally and figuratively) than anyone else there, while the softness of the rhyming love story he told seemed almost at odds with this image. Two years later, I met him at the inevitable darkened bar at EdFringe while introducing my girlfriend to Tim. Tim introduced us to Luke, and that crushed and hurried handshake was the extent of our connection for the next while.
I interviewed him a few years later before reviewing his event at Cambridge Literary Festival (sadly I was too ill to write it up subsequently), discovering that the clipped, gleaming Luke I’d originally witnessed was a phase – he had since resurrected a more tenebrous vibe, all eyeliner and enormous hair, complete with rockstar entrance, dripping anecdotes, connections, and extensive gestures. He expanded to fit the space available, in short, whether it was in the green room or in the 100-seater space that was rammed to capacity with adoring audience, the Essex Lion personified.
Luke’s energy, on- or off-stage, seems relentless, whether you see him holding court in an auditorium, or run into him on the street. He is forever picking up nuances, spinning them into story, riccocheting onto the next topic like a raconteurish bagatelle of rhyme and cultural reference. Like Tony Walsh, his pieces often follow ballad patterns of rhythm and end-rhyme, and – again like Tony – it would be easy to dismiss their accessibility and overlook the sheer craft involved, and in Luke’s case the undisputable rage, the idealism masked by what looks like cynicism, the almost desperate longing for a world where he doesn’t have to rant about inequities large and small. He also has a gift for mining cultural memory, flinging his listeners into a particular place and time. Come see this grandiloquent dandy and immerse yourself in his world at the Poetry&Words stage!