We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:
Tony Walsh by Scott Tyrrell
How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?
I’ve written poetry since the age of 6 and still have my poems from primary school. I wrote until my mid teens and nothing then for many years until I was in my late 30s with two small children. I read my first poem in public at the age of 39 (2004) and made it to my first Glastonbury Festival within a year.
Who are your influences/ idols?
Idols is the wrong word but big respect and thanks to all the pioneers of spoken word, too many to list, and to everyone who first inspired me and welcomed me onto the Manchester then national scenes. I list a couple of hundred poets for people to checkout in the back of my first book, SEX & LOVE & ROCK&ROLL (Burning Eye 2013)
What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?
I write for adults and children on a wide range of subjects and in lots of different styles/forms. It can be frustrating when people think that the one or two poems they may have heard is all that you’re about.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?
Read lots, get to as many events as you can, writeoutloud.net has a great gig guide, watch everything that you can on YouTube. I offer my own story and my thoughts on the seen in the Manifesto from the front of my book, a link to which I’ve included above.
Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?
Showing my wife around for her first ever Glaso and sharing the whole crazy experience with her. Seeing and hearing poetry friends old and new. I try not to march around with a timetable but I’d be chuffed if I could catch a few from a list including: Janelle Monae, Lizzo, Fontaines DC, Chemical Brothers, Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Slaves, Queen Zee, Pip Blom, Michael Kiwanuka, Neneh Cherry, Sharon Von Etten, She Drew The Gun, Kurt Vile, Dream Wife… blimey, getting excited now!
Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?
What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?
Being the official website Poet in Residence for the 2011 festival was pretty special. Thank you P&W!
What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?
An open mind.
What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?
Try and see all of the site at least once (day and night) but accept that it won’t all be to your taste. Find the “festivals within the festival” that work best for you. There are quieter places to be found if it all gets a bit overwhelming. Pace yourself, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t try and see everything, the best things might well be a random happening on the way to the loo at 3am.
Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?
Yes, several times since 2005. I was Poet in Residence in 2011, hosted the slam one year and helped crew the stage for a few years too.
What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?
The naked man, covered in mud and apparently on acid, who slithered in with a film crew as I performed in 2005.
What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?
The stage is very well run but, hey, it’s a festival and all sorts of random stuff could happen during your set. Be prepared, have a Plan B and go with the flow. Enjoy it and be sure to spend a lot of time in the poetry tent and backstage. How often can you meet/see so many other people who really get this cool, niche thing that we do? Help out if you can, help bark up a crowd etc.
What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?
What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?
It’s all about connection, innit. To move a space full of people, to make them laugh, cry, cheer, dance, think join in etc, is a privilege as well as being a real buzz that can sustain you over the many other hurdles of choosing the poet’s path in life.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Lots of exciting news to come soon across a range of genres and platforms – new book, tv work, music collaborations, opera, tour of UK and Ireland, kids stuff. Watch this space! Tx
You can see Tony Walsh at 17:35-18:05 Friday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about him here.