We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:
Dominic Berry by Scott Tyrrell
How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?
Seeing spoken word poetry being performed! Gerry Potter, Rosie Garland, Lemn Sissay … when I first moved to Manchester seeing these artists on stage.
Who are your influences/ idols?
The poets I previously mentioned, plus so many more…. The AntiPoet, Jackie Hagan, Louise Fazackerley, Thick Richard, Rosie Fleeshman, Matt Goodfellow, Matt Panesh, Keisha Thompson, Dave Viney, Avaes Mohammad, Rose Condo, Rob Auton, Scroobius Pip…. ahhhh too many to name! I’m gonna leave the list there, in the knowledge I will later kick myself at all the dozens of names I forgot to add!
What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?
I write about how I believe it is horrible to be horrible, and lovely to be lovely. All of my poems are about that.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?
Experience loads of performance poetry. Go to loads of events. See what other artists are doing. Its OK to dislike some stuff. Its OK to dislike stuff it seems like everyone else likes! Gain an awareness of the scene, and then be different. Influenced is cool, but different. Be true to your own voice. Don’t try to copy. Speak your truth. Write the poem that you would like to read because a poem like that would be of help to you and no one else has yet written it.
Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?
All the poets on the Poetry&Words stage! I know that is an answer that sounds like what I am supposed to say, but in all sincerity, I have gained so much from sat quietly listening to the artists in that tent. It’s fantastic. How I first discovered The AntiPoet. I am a performance poet because I love performance poetry.
Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?
What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?
First time seeing The AntiPoet, sharing a poem I wrote about how much I loved Glastonbury Festival despite fears that big crowds wouldn’t be for me with my history of anxiety issues, dancing to Fatboy Slim, performing my vegan poem on BBC2, dancing in the mud with Sara Hirsh (a fantastic poet I want to add to my list of inspirations!), all those wonderful sculptures and the circus performers…. like the list of inspirations, I know I will read over this later and kick myself for obvious things I forgot to add!
What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?
What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?
Share all the fun you want, but also get all the rest you need – it’s all so amazing, but don’t burn yourself out!
Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?
What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?
I think I mentioned before my poem ‘Glastonbury Mud’, my poem about how loving I found it all when I was scared it’d trigger my panic being somewhere so massive and busy.
What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?
Surround yourself with people who are lovely and share the fun. There is so much here from which to benefit, this is a festival unlike any other I have experienced. Enjoy!
What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?
poetry, performance poetry, spoken word, live literature, performance art, theatre
What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?
Seeing on people’s faces that a meaningful connection has been made, and hearing people chat to me afterwards about how the work has affected them.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I would love it if more poets wrote for younger children. I tour poetry to children from terribly disadvantaged starts in life, and I share inclusive, interactive poems about kindness and understanding. The political conflicts we are currently experiencing are not helped by issues in the education system. Encouraging children to express their creativity and share stuff that unites us as opposed to nurturing tribal division is hugely important. Loads of poets work with teenagers, but go into junior schools, go into infant schools, there are children eager to learn and play and think, and there are children whose capacity for compassion is not being nurtured. It is not easy writing and performing for younger people, but I believe it can be an excellent and effective tool for societal growth. I was at Glastonbury Festival when Jeremy Corbyn spoke on the Pyramid Stage about the importance of poetry for children. I’ll get off my political pedestal now, and make myself a nice cuppa – and continue to be giddy in anticipation of this year’s festival!
You can see Dominic Berry at 15:30-19:00 Friday; 11:50-15:30 Saturday; 14:30-17:00 Sunday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about him here.