30th anniversary of Poetry&Words stage at Glastonbury Festival! Meet Ben Norris, Demi Anter and Elvis McGonagall

Happy Anniversary to us …. this year, the Poetry&Words stage at Glastonbury Festical is ….. *30 years old!!*

Wooooooooooooo hoo!

Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaappy birthday…. to great poets saying great poetry! BOOMMMMMMMMMM!

So let’s present the presence of particularly poweruful poets as our birthday presents!


Ben Norris’s second pamphlet of poems, Some Ending, was published by Verve Poetry Press in May 2019. He is a two-time UK national poetry slam champion, and has performed everywhere from major field festivals to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as across BBC Radio.  His debut solo show, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family’, won the 2015 IdeasTap Underbelly Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before touring the UK and Australia. He also plays Ben Archer in ‘The Archers’ on BBC Radio 4.


Demi Anter is a poet, actor and teacher originally from California. Her poetry and essays have been published by Magma, Ninth Letter, ROPES, The Selkie, Porter House Review, and The Times (UK) among others. Her poem “Eyelashes” was broadcast by BBC Radio London in 2020. Demi’s first full-length poetry collection, Small Machine, is forthcoming from Write Bloody UK in April 2022. Musa Okwonga (In The End, It Was All About Love.) called Small Machine, “Tender, visceral, beautifully vulnerable.”


Two series of the sitcom “Elvis McGonagall Takes A Look On The Bright Side” have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 where he appears regularly, most recently on “Radio 4’s “Loose Ends” and on “Stand-Up Specials: Full Tartan Jacket” which was the featured Radio 4 “Comedy of the Week” podcast as well as the documentary “My Name Is Elvis” which featured on Radio 4’s “Pick of the Week”. Elvis also pops up occasionally on the telly. Elvis is the 2006 World Slam Champion, the compere of the Blue Suede Sporran Club and performs at comedy, literary and music festivals, arts centres, cabaret clubs, pubs and dodgy dives up and down the country and abroad. 

“Righteous ire, directed at very deserving targets….McGonagall’s verses are shot through with a moral umbrage and rhetorical power” 

(Brian Logan, The Guardian)

“Funny, angry and tightly written….McGonagall combines anger, polish and carefully crafted verse in a way which recalls John Cooper Clarke….If the word ‘poetry’ is putting you off, get over it” 

(Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman)

“Rampaging through the vicissitudes of modern life with stanzas like Panzers”  

(Phill Jupitus)

What a wild party of wizardly words this year’s special anniversary Poetry&Words stage is going to be!

Keep reading this blog for further information about further artists who will be appearing this year, a photo of what will be this year’s *POETRY SLAM TROPHY*, and a whole load of giddy excitement in the run up between now and the festival commencing.


Woo hoo!


Poetry&Words stage poster! Meet Imelda May, Lauren McNamara and Joe Sellman-Leava

Check out awesome Scott Tyrrell’s sublime Poetry&Words stage poster! Isn’t it ace?! I love it. I always love Scott’s work.

Regular readers of this blog will have learned of my personal memories of hearing Scott say his poetry, and in today’s blog I am proud to give a bit more insight into the art and achievements of three more 2022 Glastonbury Festival Poetry&Words stage word-slingers: Imelda May, Lauren McNamara and Joe Sellman-Leava.

Imelda May

‘A Lick and a Promise’ is the debut poetry collection of Imelda May, one of Ireland’s most famed female musicians.

Following the release of her first poetry EP Slip Of The Tongue in 2020, this new collection contains 104 poems, including two each from both her father and young daughter. Using the themes of Breast, Below, Blood, Eyes, Tongue and Temple, the poems are written in May’s absorbing, visceral style and encapsulate heartbreak, sex, nature and womanhood. Included in the collection is ‘You Don’t Get to be Racist and Irish’, the powerful poem which was written in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and was recently used by Rethink Ireland campaign.

Lauren McNamara

Lauren McNamara has won numerous awards and writing residencies including the Poetry Ireland Yeats Tower Slam, the Munster Slam, the Galway Fringe Spoken Word Award and the Limerick Fringe Spirit of the Fringe Award.

Hello My Name is Single is Lauren’s comedic look at dating and being in a relationship. Lauren’s grandmother (who doesn’t want her to die alone) sets her up on a speed dating service where she goes on a slew of fast paced dates with some eclectic characters (including a socialite, a farmer and worst of all… an American). Lauren tries to find love and fun while still slightly longing for Sarah, the girl next door. With her granny breathing down her neck to settle down Lauren attempts and sometimes fails to deal with confidence, loneliness, love, friendship and the horrors of tinder to try and find some way to be happy.

Joe Sellman-Leava

Joe’s poetry theatre shows include How to Start a Riot, and Labels, which won five international theatre awards, including a Scotsman Fringe First, and toured across four continents from 2015 to 2020.

Fanboy is Joe’s love-hate letter to pop culture and nostalgia. Joe has started to sense something: a great disturbance in the fandom… When Joe finds himself alone, sorting through his old things, he finds an old video tape…and something incredible starts to happen!

Expect epic storytelling, razor-sharp impressions and a dose of theatrical magic.

Glastonbury Festival’s Poetry&Words stage is Fanboy’s first preview before the show premieres at Edinburgh Festival Fringe! ★★★★ (The Scotsman, on LABELS)

As you can see from the poster, there are still yet more amazing artists to tell you about in upcoming posts.


So watch this space, as we count down the days until Glastonbury Festival 2022!

Dominic’s memories of Poetry&Words poets Scott Tyrrell, Mark Gallie and Kevin Mclean

I love so very much being a part of the UK poetry scene. From my nervous beginnings stumbling onto the stage at Manchester open mic nights, to my early efforts at entering slams, to bringing a full set to Edinburgh Fringe, to touring my rhymes across the world, there’s not a day in which I’m not grateful for getting to do what I do, and my career is one in which I get to experience the art of supremely talented, charismatic and inspired folks across Great Britain.

Did you know that there is Glastonbury Festival Poetry&Words SLAM? A place where YOU could bring your own spoken word to perform…. with the chance to win a slot performing at next year’s Glastonbury?

If this interests you, keep reading until the end, where I will write more about how to take part.

This year’s slam is hosted by Mark Gallie and Kevin Mclean, two awesome artists from Scotland, who I had the huge pleasure of meeting at Loud Poets in Edinburgh Fringe.

Mark Gallie is one of the directors of I Am Loud Productions and has been writing poetry since 2015. He has performed across the UK and Internationally as a feature performer, organized & hosted multiple Fringe shows & monthly events, and supported Shane Koyczan during the Scottish leg of his 2019 tour.

Fellow I Am Loud Productions director Kevin Mclean is a multiple slam winner. His poem ‘Evelyn’ won StAnza Poetry Festival’s Poem of the Fringe in 2015. He has directed, produced, and performed work at the Brighton, Edinburgh, and Prague Fringe festivals, Wickerman Festival, StAnza Poetry Festival, Leicester’s Find The Right Words, STV’s The Late Show, and BBC Radio Scotland’s Culture Show.

My experience of taking a seat at The Scottish Storytelling Centre for my first time witnessing the depth, the joy, the word explosion of Loud Poets, was unforgettable. The attention to detail these two have as hosts, the energetic passion with which they carry a gathering of artists – it is wholly engaging, thrilling and laugh-out-loud fun.

There is no one better to host the Poetry&Words slam than these two living legends of the UK scene, and before we even get to the diverse and glorious quality of the slammers who every year wow the crowd with their wonderful words, Kevin and Mark will ensure the Poetry&Words slam is a must-attend event.

Equally, I am over-the-moon to get to hear both of them perform their own sets on this stage, as each wields accessible, excellent, enjoyable verse to remain in the memory and in the heart.

Yay for poems!

There is one more artist I am going to speak about today before writing more about the slam.

The inimmitable Scott Tyrrell!

I have seen Scott deliver his often hilarious and always marvellous recitals in his home town of Newcastle, at Edinburgh Fringe, at various features where he and I have been booked, in Manchester and Salford (near where I live), and many times at Glastonbury Festival. He is a one person tour de force!

Here is just one of his many mint performances….. I AM NAKED!

An award-winning comedian, illustrator and multiple slam-winning poet (including the BBC Slam and UK Anti- Slam), he has performed his work at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Prague Fringe, STAnza, WOMAD, Larmer Tree and the Cheltenham Literature Festival. He has written for TV, radio and performed for Radio 4, Radio 3’s the Verb, Sky Atlantic, ITV, BBC4 and BBC Arts.

Scott is also the artist who has made this year’s Poetry&Words poster….

… but more on that next blog!

For now, I’ll just say how at Glastonbury, I adore getting to know brand new artists alongside hearing the ‘greatest hits’ of those whose work I have held in a special part of my heart for years.

Having Kevin, Mark and Scott at this year’s Poetry&Words will be all shades of awesome!


Now, a quick word on the SLAM, for anyone interested in taking part….

Important points the organisers would like you to note about the SLAM:

  • Sign up times will be on site and exact time to be announced. No early sign ups. You cannot message us in advance. Nope, not even for you!
  • Booked poets can’t perform in either this or the open mic, so this is a chance to air/ hear new voices.
  • Poets don’t have to memorise poems, but memorisation will be credited.
  • If you’ve signed up for the competition, you must present yourself at the side stage at the time you are told when you sign up – if you don’t turn up in time, you won’t be on!
  • It will be EPIC GOOD!

Keep reading the Poetry&Words blog for more details on the slam, more details on the featured artists, and… next time… the sharing of this year’s Poetry&Words poster!


John Hegley, Bohdan Piasecki and Afrodita Nikolova are coming to the Poetry&Words stage!

Hey – hey – happy Tuesday….. to YOU!

I am Dominic Berry, poet and Glastonbury Festival Poetry&Words blogger, here to share some good stuff about three more of the glorious artists coming to perform with us this year!

John Hegley

Peace Love and Potatoes…. An entertainment for adults, the odd 9-yr old and all in between: a mandolin-accompanied in-tent experience. Expect verses, letters and songs and tales of Daleks, deckchairs, dignity, Scottish Country dancing and keeping an eye on your luggage during train journeys.

Bohdan Piasecki 

Bohdan Piasecki is a poet from Poland based in Birmingham. A committed performer, he has taken his poems from from underground Tokyo clubs to tramways in Paris, from niche podcasts to BBC Radio.

Back in 2003, Bohdan founded the first poetry slam in Poland. He moved to the UK a few years later to get a degree in poetry translation and now lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

Afrodita Nikolova

Afrodita was selected as part of the Versopolis platform for emerging European poets, and her publications include a trilingual poetry chapbook ‘Midnight Reading’ (2016) following an award-winning poetry collection ‘Bewitching’ (2010) in Macedonian language. In 2015 she won the “Enhalon” prize at the International festival “Struga Poetry Evenings”. After winning the poetry slams in the Balkans, she reached the finals of the European Poetry Slam Championship, Sweden, and semi-finals of the World Poetry Slam Championship.

….. What a feast of word-slingers, right?!

Stay tuned to our blog where next time, I will be writing about this year’s epic good poster, the super artist behind it, and the two totally tremendous Scottish poets who are not only performing themselves but hosting this year’s Poetry&Words Glastonbury Festival *POETRY SLAM*…..!

Goblin Market Music, Travis Alabanza and Arielle Cottingham

Here we go! Three more excellent announcements for Glastonbury 2022’s Poetry&Words stage!

Arielle Cottingham is a queer Afro-Latine poet, editor, performance artist, and educator. Arielle Cottingham toured four continents in five years, giving performances and teaching workshops across North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Their work explores the fluidity of intersectional identities, and it has appeared in multiple literary journals both in print and online. Notable performances have included 48H Neukölln, the Alley Theatre, the Museum of Old & New Art (MONA), and the Sydney Opera House, where they won the title of Australian National Poetry Slam Champion in 2016. They are currently based in Berlin.

Travis Alabanza is a writer, performer and theatre maker from Bristol. Their writing, performance and public discourse centres on trans and Black identities.

For stage, Travis wrote and performed in their debut show Burgerz which won the Total Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as selling out venues including Southbank Centre and Traverse Theatre. It was also voted one of The Guardian Readers Top Shows of The Year and is published by Oberon Books. Most recently, their play Overflow, which premiered at and streamed from The Bush, was met with critical acclaim including numerous four-star reviews and  4,000 streams worldwide. 

Goblin Market Music (Based on Christina Rossetti’s famous 19th Century poem ” Goblin Market” and author and Tarot expert John Matthews, who set out to adapt the themes in Rossetti’s poem to create a variation on the traditional tarot alongside a guide book). Julian Littman was intrigued with this new project and the idea of the Goblin poem and so wrote and produced a concept album with all members of Steeleye Span and Jane Milligan.

This concept album was produced and mostly written by Julian Littman and features all the current members of Steeleye Span. Spud Sinclair and Jessie May Smart wrote a song each whilst Maddy Prior sings lead on one track.  Jane Milligan is daughter of Spike Milligan comic genius and poet, with whom Julian worked with in the past, and Caitlin Mathews, wife of John Matthews the author of the Tarot guide book.

What a feast or words! Keep watching this space for more artists to be announced. Good times!

Rosy, Lisa and Jamal coming to Poetry&Words!

Oi oi oi!

Your Poetry&Words blogger, Dominic Berry, is back once again (not unlike the Fatboy Slim remixed Renegade Master) with three more artists who are coming to our Poetry&Words stage!

Jamal Hassan is a South London poet known for his work with Run Softly and the BAFTA award-winning series ‘Life & Rhymes’. He is great! When asked to describe his poetry in 5 words, he said, “Silliness, Seriousness, Evolving, Political, Black.” The queer spoken word event Build Love, Break Walls described him as ‘the poetic equivalent of finding out that the drinks machine in your local McDonalds has quietly replaced its Pepsi button with spiced rum’. We are thrilled that we will be experiencing his work this year on the Poetry&Words stage.

Lisa Goodwin won the Bardic trials in 2013 to become the 8th chaired bard of Glastonbury Town. A previous year’s festival poetry slam champion, she was “gutted to not be performing live on the 50th anniversary,” which was also her 50th. Her anthemic poem, ‘I Want To Go To Glastonbury’, is a stunning, hope-filled, joy-packed celebration of words, created in a world compromised by Coronovirus, but no less magnificent for the place in which it was created. I can’t wait to hear her set this year!

Finally for today, returning as a Poetry&Words compere, weilding a wildly wonderful load of exceptional expertise, the inimitable Rosy Carrick!

Rosy is a “writer, performer, translator, compere and bad-ass cut-throat b*tch”. For seven years she was a Hammer & Tongue host, has released two books of the work in translation of poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, and has toured the world with her playwriting, documentary making and exemplary verse. Sabotage reviews described her as “Clever, funny, quarrelsome, astonishing!” and we are bowled over to have her back (like Fatboy Slim’s Renegade Master) at Poetry&Words.

For today, that’s your lot!

More poets to be announced!

Innit good, right? I might be even more excited than when I first heard ‘The Rockafeller Skank’.

“Right about now!”


Glastonbury Festival Poetry&Words 2022 poets are ready to rhyme!


My name’s Dominic Berry. I am proud to introduce myself as the Poetry&Words blogger for 2022! Yes!

Leading up to the festival, I will be excitedly announcing artists hailing from all over the place, who we are incredibly thrilled to be seeing on this year’s Poetry&Words stage.

There are many amazing word-slingers to reveal to you. Today, as a Manchester poet myself, I am going to give an introduction to just three of them, one of which is me!

I was Glastonbury Festival Poet in Residence in 2017, and have toured my verse all over the world. Here are the poems I wrote for the Poetry&Words stage for my Glastonbury residency!


Next, coming from Manchester for his first ever performance at Glastonbury, we are over-the-moon to bring you Culain Wood!

Culain has become a firm feature of the north-west scene, delivering his excellent, passionate rhymes in guest sets across Greater Manchester. Here is an article about the impact of his art from Manchester Evening News


Third and finally for today, a living legend of our scene, it is with great pride to bring back Longfella himself Mr Tony Walsh. Another previous Glastonbury Festival Poet in Residence, famed for his heart-wrenching poem ‘This is the Place’ and his critically acclaimed debut collection ‘Sex & Love & Rock&Roll’, Tony brings skillfuly crafted words of great social consciousness with anthemic delivery, always generating a triumphant energy during his sets on the Poetry&Words stage.

Many of Tony’s pieces can be enjoyed on his soundcloud.

So, there are just three of the many artists you will be hearing about as I share glimpses into their creativity in the run up to this year’s festival. As a Manchester man, I’m chuffed to know ace voices from my city will be taking this awesome platform.

I look forward to saying more about more of our spectacular artists over the next few days and weeks.

Here’s to a happy festival season!

Here we go!