Is poetry actually any good?

Oi oi oi,

Here I am, Dominic Berry, back (not unlike Daft Punk) ONE MORE TIME, for my final blog for Glastonbury Festival 2022 Poetry&Words stage.

Here I am with an unashamedly click-bait title, to which, given who I am and what I do, you might think there is an obvious answer…..


I was chatting to some of the other poets in our little camping area backstage, and I am not the only one who has sat in the audience at poetry events (elsewhere) and thought……. ‘Is this poetry? Is this what it is? If this is what it is, do I like it? Is this good?’

Whilst allowing for tastes and other subjective factors, I’d say if a person aims to be an artist who attempts to communicate with an audience, and that audience are either bored or not understanding the art with which they are presented, I reckon that gives a strong argument for that poem (maybe that poet) being not good.

I have spent too much time at too many poetry events too full of what I have just described.


Helen Johnson is a super star. Helen, time after time, fills the Poetry&Words stage with immense talent. This year has been no different.


With every artist who I have seen perform this year, I have fully engaged. What a treat to be immersed in accessible, creative, surprising, political, personal, well-considered words.

I know this sounds gushy, but it make me feel mega humble to be considered worthy to say what I have made up as a part of this crew.

I know that there are a load of us backstage feeling that same way.

Thank you, Helen!

Helen, you are BRILL BRILL BRILL *BRILL!!*

So, the slam has happened.

Tori Shine won the slam!

It was a slam full of excellence from every slammer. I want to say a humongous WELL DONE to all who were brave enough to stand on that stage and say their words.

YES, poetry CAN be good, and this slam was epic ace.

Humans full of humanity sharing carefully crafted brilliance.

Personal favourites:

  • Jackie Juno’s tree poem,
  • Helen’s autism poem
  • Tori’s guns in school poems.

Helen Johnson (Poetry&Words’ Helen, a different Helen to the Helen in the slam) will post the trophy pic in a future blog.

Yay for trophies, and yay for Tori being invited to the next Glastonbury for a guest set upon the Poetry&Words stage!

Wooooooooooo hoo!



Glastonbury festival Poet in Residence.



If Desree’s stage presence could be bottled and shared worldwide, our planet would be a more intelligent, empathic and interesting place.

A poem completed but 4 seconds before being recited, (according to Desree herself) a celebration of the performance of rapper Mega Thee Stallion was chock full of fun and fantastic energy.

“We drop our arse in prayer”

“It is within us water is made holy”

Talk about powerful lines!

Alongside this, a poem about the actions of R Kelly, and our reactions as the general public to his offences, was everything a poem should be. It fairly questioned me, the listener, on my choices and the need to not silently observe the very real and painful horrors of injustice. An expertly realised piece of protest art – exactly what Glastonbury festival should be delivering – and has done, thanks to Desree, so thank you Desree for your urgent and excellent poetics.


And so…..

I have been (and continue to be) Dominic Berry, and I’d like to thank Helen and the team for trusting me with this blog.

I have loved writing it.

I’d like to sign off, not with my words, but with a new poem from Desree, written as part of her residency, about a small but massive moment at this year’s festival. I love this poem, and I have loved being part of this sensation.

Poetry IS good!

Super good.


Much love to all.

See you again, friends!




For Maddy.

One hand nursing a paper cup,
the other, an earthquake of a palm.
Trying to navigate the hoards of people,
that have sprung up, on this city of a farm.
But you do not let go,
as you guide me through the crowd.
You are armour close,
squeeze my hand to calm me down.

You know I hate this part,
feels like everyone is in the same place.
But when the crowd grinds to a halt,
you turn so we are face to face.
No scrubs comes on and you start singing,
a private rendition just for me.
We can’t even get close to the stage,
but I’ve got your version of TLC.

To all the partners and friends,
lifelong ones that started today.
Thank you for holding more than our hands,
when we find the festival a little difficult to navigate.
When my anxiety feels like drowning, in the sea of it all
Thanks for turning water into waterfalls


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s