Interview with Joe Sellman-Leava (Monster)

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:

Joe Sellman-Leava by Scott Tyrrell

Joe Sellman-Leava by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Joe Sellman-Leava

Name of Act



Twitter handle


Instagram handle



Facebook Page

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

Most of my work has been in theatre, though I’ve always written poetry too, and performed at events like Apples & Snakes. I brought my show ‘Labels’ to Glastonbury in 2017, and – although it’s technically a play – the use of storytelling, poetry and other textual forms like news headlines and political soundbites meant that it felt right at home in the Poetry and Words tent.

Who are your influences/ idols?

Spalding Gray, Julie Taymor, Bryony Kimmings, Holly Hughes, Tim Miller, Sarah Kaye, Bobby Baker.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

The piece I’m bringing this year, ‘Monster,’ is a shortened version of a play by the same name. It’s a narrative about masculinity and choice, layered with multiple voices: including Mike Tyson, Patrick Stewart and Shakespeare.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Set aside time to make work. Set deadlines for your work, especially ones in front of an audience! And read/watch/experience other work, including in other disciplines.

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

So many! I’ll see as much as I can at Poetry and Words, but outside of that the people that spring to mind are Janelle Monae; The Cure; Aurora; Stormzy; Bastille; Kate Tempest.

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?


What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

Watching the Foo Fighters in 2017 – I was completely blown away! Dave Grohl had everyone in the palm of his hand, and they all had such an amazing rapport with each other.

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

Ginger nuts and apples – best festival breakfast you could eat!

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

Take time to wander around, as well as to stop and take it all in now and again.

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?


What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?

Some friends from the office I used to work at were watching, and one of the bosses was in tears by the end. That felt really special.

What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?

Enjoy it! The noise from other tents, plus the fact that people may wander in and out, might feel a little distracting at times, but focus on connecting with whoever’s there at the time, and the work you’re performing, and the rest will take care of itself.

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

spoken word, theatre

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

Connecting with people.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I can’t wait to be there, in such wonderful company!

You can see Monster at 15:15-16:00 Sunday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about him here.


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