Applications to perform on the Poetry&Words stage for 2020 will open in the new year. Keen an eye on this site for further updates!
Performing for the first time with us is Liv Torc, 14:05-14:30 Friday; hosting open mic 13:00-14:00 Saturday . If she’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:
In her own words:
“Liv Torc is a razor blade skating performance poet, who plunges the vast caverns and dormant volcanoes of the human condition, armed with a box of matches and a sense of lyrical wonder. A Radio 4 Slam Winner, a former Bard of Exeter and current co-host of The Hip Yak Poetry Shack. Liv also runs the mental health and poetry night The Rainbow Fish Speak Easy in Yeovil and produces and hosts the hugely successful Hip Yak Poetry Stage at WOMAD festival. She is also the brains and brawn behind the Hip Yak Poetry School, an ACE funded project aimed at supporting the South West spoken word poetry scene.
“Over her career in spoken word Liv has appeared all over the UK and a bit in Europe, performing at the Roundhouse in London, Cheltenham Literary Festival, WOMAD and the Edinburgh Fringe.
“She has delivered workshops and long running poetry projects in schools, colleges, libraries, art centres, doctor’s surgeries and theatres, culminated in performances at, among others, the House of Commons and the 2012 Paralympics.
“Liv is currently Lead Artist for the Somerset wide mental health project Word/Play (recently featured on Apples and Snakes 30th anniversary podcast series), which places performance poets within GP surgeries to help adults re-discover their self worth and learn to communicate their feelings.
“Her first published book ‘Show Me Life’ was released by Burning Eye in 2015.”
Liv is another poet who’s new to me, so I’ve gone YouTube surfing again. What I’ve discovered so far is that she’s passionate and articulate, particularly brilliant at building a tangible picture involving multiple senses within a handful of lines. I feel myself immersed in each scene immediately. She then leads you by the hand through that earth-rooted corporeality into more liminal places and shows you the grace of humanity and what we could be. (She’s also ridiculously witty and slips a gorgeous vocabulary into some hysterically funny stanzas.)
She’ll also be the host of the open mic, no mean task, and we’ll be telling you all about that in a few days’ time.
Performing for the first time with us is Demi Anter, 13:35-14:00 Friday; 14:35-15:00 Saturday . If she’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:
In her own words:
“Demi Anter is a multidisciplinary artist from California’s Coachella Valley. She has produced poetry showcases and workshops throughout the U.S., and opened for artists such as Beau Sia, Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye, Kip Fulbeck, Mayda del Valle and Anis Mojgani. Her work has been published internationally by Spectrum, Almost Real Things, ROPES and Hedgehog Press, and was featured on Belfast’s Poetry Jukebox this spring. She lives in Berlin.”
Demi Anter is new to me but, from what I’ve gleaned so far from the sparse, slightly out-of-date footage I’ve managed to track down so far, I’m really looking forward to seeing her. She has that fresh, fast-talking style I’ve come to admire in quite a few poets from the current Glaswegian scene – mixing the personal with the political, blending what looks like acute nervousness with an underlying frustration/ anger at the way life isn’t (though it should be). Demi’s words come machine-gun fast, precise, and mesmerising; it could be easy to mistake her style for the much-derided (in certain parts of the UK scene) Generic American Slam-style, but, if it is American Slam Poetry, it showcases the best of that, as far as I’m concerned. I want to know more about this wide-eyed cynic, and I’m dying to see what she’s written in the years since the most recent clips I’ve found…
Performing for the first time with us is Desree, 13:05-13:30 Friday; 16:05-16:30 Saturday . If she’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:
In her own words:
“Desree is a spoken word artist, writer and facilitator based in both London and Slough.
“Having graduated with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Drama Studies from De Montfort University, Desree is no stranger to the stage. An advocate for community arts and youth projects, Desree began a night called #OMN in 2014 in her home town of Slough. It was started with the aim of giving individuals of all ages and skills, opportunities and essentially encouragement. It was at #OMN that Desree performed spoken word on stage for the first time.
“Currently Artist in Residence for poetry collective EMPOWORD, and an Ambassador for MQ; Mental Health Research Charity, Desree explores intersectionality, justice and social commentary, occasionally throwing in a f*ckboy poem.
“In January 2018, Desree earned the honour of competing at the prestigious Hammer and Tongue National Finals at the one and only Royal Albert Hall. Having missed out on first place with a 9.6 compared to the winner’s 9.7, Desree is proud to have represented women of colour as one of the only two in the competition, with her poems highlighting the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Black Girl Magic.
“Desree has featured at events all over the UK and internationally, including Bowery Poetry Club, Bestival, WOMAD, Heaux Noire, Word On The Street, Sofar Sounds, Folked Up, Sunday Assembly and Greenbelt Festival alongside World Poetry Slam Champion Harry Baker, Young People’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi, award winning British poet and playwright Toby Campion and habitual slam winner Vanessa Kissuule, and supported rapper, poet, and political activist Akala at It’s In Your Head in September 2017, to name a few.
“Desree has regularly appeared as a guest alongside Bridgitte Tetteh on BBC Radio Berkshire to discuss current affairs and had her work published in Spoken Word London Anti-Hate Anthology, Mindful Seasoning Magazine and broadcasted on the television channel London Live.
“Desree has delivered a TEDx talk at Bath University titled Poetry and Self-Esteem; Finding Truth with Words, and is also, a spoken word educator and facilitator. She uses her art to engage with young people and adults in schools, youth groups, offices and organisations – anywhere with people who have a story.
“Having been commissioned alongside two other spoken word artists, to develop and write a new show with Apples & Snakes, Desree, Laura Rae and The Slam Poet, will be touring the show CROWDED, across London as part of the SPINE Festival 2019.
Following a max-capacity launch night, Desree’s self-published collection, titled I Find My Strength In Simple Things, was released in 2017 and she has her sights set on a second collection to be released in 2019 alongside a few music based projects.”
As with Toby, the first time I saw Desree perform was at Edinburgh Fringe, where she qualified (in the exact same dingy, rowdy, haunted space as where I first saw him!) in 2017 for the 2018 Hammer & Tongue National Final, much to her surprise (I got the strong impression that her triumphantly grinning friend prodded her into it!). She was streets ahead of the rest of the competitors that night, and it was really exciting to watch her rise rapidly through the two day competition of the National Final to be beaten in the very final round by only 0.1 by the eventual National Slam Champion. Every time I’ve seen her perform – either as a slammer or a featured artist at Hammer & Tongue Cambridge, she’s devastated me with her words and stage presence. She combines accessibility and gorgeous language with a strong political voice about some very important topics, and manages also to be hilariously funny when necessary. I’m really looking forward to seeing her and the blast of energy she’ll bring with her to the Festival this year.
Back to keep things moving is the first of our two comperes, Rosy Carrick, 11:50-15:30 Friday; 15:30-19:00 Saturday; 11:50-14:30 Sunday. If you’ve never had the pleasure (or even if you have), read on to find out a little more:
In her words:
“Rosy Carrick is a writer, performer and translator based in Brighton. For seven years (until Dec 2015), she ran and compered Brighton’s Hammer & Tongue poetry events and, alongside Luke Wright, she is co-curator of the Port Eliot festival poetry stage.
“Rosy has a PhD on the poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky, and has released two books of his work in translation: Volodya (Enitharmon, 2015) and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (Smokestack, 2017). Her debut play Passionate Machine won Best New Play at Brighton Fringe 2018 and The Infallibles Award for Theatrical Excellence at Edinburgh Fringe 2018. It is touring the UK throughout 2019 before it transfers to New York for an off-Broadway run at the Soho Playhouse.
“Rosy’s first poetry collection Chokey was published in June 2018 by Burning Eye Books. She is currently developing MuscleBound, a new documentary film on the wonderful world of bodybuilders, beefcake and BDSM.”
“Clever, funny, quarrelsome, astonishing!” Sabotage
“Playful, engaging, refreshing – ★★★★” The List
“Surprising, audacious, original. Superb – ★★★★” Edinburghfestival.org
The first time I saw Rosy on stage was, from memory, about seven years ago at the Hammer & Tongue National Final in Wilton’s Music Hall, a fitting space for her sometimes very burlesque presence. For the most part, I knew her as one of the organisers of the phenomenally popular Hammer & Tongue Brighton, as fiercely uncompromising in her proudly feminist programming as she was in her poetry. It’s only recently that I’ve actually had the pleasure of watching her in action doing an actual set as a poet (as opposed to hosting and doing the occasional sacrificial poem), on the Cambridge leg of her national Hammer & Tongue tour in December 2018. Her work is astonishing and almost brutally direct, and I’m hoping she’ll take an opportunity to share some of it with us at the Festival.
2019 is awaiting your assault on the bastion of beastly wordsmithery in the freakish fields of Worthy…
Lo! We at Poetry&Words are once again opening the floodgates to all you wizardly wonderful poetry fiends. So, if YOU want to perform your work on Glastonbury Festival’s poetry stage, then this is your chance! We’re looking for applications from experienced writers and performers, with something quite excellent to offer the audience of the world’s biggest greenfield arts festival.
If you think that could be you, then please e-mail email@example.com with a short Bio and 1-3 video and/or audio files of you performing your work, preferably to a live audience. We’d prefer web links, but attachments (of manageable size!) will also be accepted. We will only view one application per person, so send us your best stuff first time around! Please don’t send Word files of your poems or links to your books. However good they are, it’s the performanceelement we need to be able to judge as well.
We do pay a fee, but this is only small, and overseas poets in particular should note that we are unable to provide travel expenses. Guest tickets are also beyond our power, but booked poets will receive a ticket for themselves as well as a camping pitch backstage of the Poetry&Words tent.
This year’s festival runs from June 26th– 30th2019. To find out more, go to: http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/
The deadline for applications is, strictly, 5pm on Friday 1stMarch 2019. We regret that we cannot view any applications received after this time, so please make a note of the deadline and make sure you submit as much in advance as possible. Don’t miss your chance!
We hope that you’ll understand that, given the positively elephantine volume of applications we receive every year, we are not physically able to respond to requests for feedback or advice, or to let every applicant know how they’ve done. Successful artists should hear back from us by two months after the deadline at the latest.
You can also find us at:
We will be opening the floodgates to poets seeking to perform on Glastonbury Festival’s poetry stage early in the new year. Watch this space for further updates!
We’re trickling out some more summaries of Glastonbury Poetry&Words, in a kind of slow drip, water torture sort of way. What can we say? I still have a rucksack full of glitter on my sitting room floor. Let’s get to some more bits of that magic festival.
Andy Craven-Griffiths brings out the big guns right off the bat, a strategy that works for him in a real way: he doesn’t shy away from family, and love, and kindness, and those things that sit in the back of the throat, unsaid. Except, as you’re swept up in it, he goes ahead and says them. He talks about his family, unique (like all families, in their ways), on a trip to Spain, drinking with his older brother for the first time, in the sun: “Our pupils shrink in sync….huddling over the table practically cuddling – first time on the lash.” On his family, his dad, a gesture of affection, hiding behind a curtain, ‘reveling in rebellion.’ He puts the family poems into a certain smaller set then moves to other themes, but the focus on kindness, on those most authentic and genuine interactions, remains a thread through all of it: “We know kindness like a horse knows running…” “Our frozen breaths speech bubbles for the unsayable..” ” Utopia is not a low fat yogurt.” (I’m remixing these lines here). He tells the story of a childhood friend he envied until he realized the jagged facets of his life behind the public face. He says of a girl he loved: “Her skin sings to me. I can’t believe how warm she is/how warm she keeps me.” And in a way that first seems unassuming and then builds until it hums into something profound, he does the same to the audience.
Koko comes on stage and steps into her presence, unapologetic, self-possessed. She’s another poet who seems utterly at ease in front of an audience, a performer who reflects the light from a crowd and makes her own back at them. Poets who have a knack for blending music and poetry bring a special level of energy and complexity to the stage — it brings a kind of multiplying alchemy. Koko is a master at the loops and layers of sound which expand to fill the the space she makes for the audience. In a searing piece on sexism and systems of oppression she leads through lists of #notallmen, asking people to look at themselves and their own roles with honesty, for once. The women in the audience are the choir she’s preaching to – it’s the men she asks for a true reckoning. She intersperses spoken pieces with those layered with sung choruses, tones and percussion, describing ‘A wound that exists even if you don’t believe it.” In a stunner on race and all the societal shaming around colour and darkness in a skin she asks, ‘Why did I feel the need to hide from the sun all those times? Searching for shade is not fun.” And to end, and to blow the faces off the assembled crowd, she lets the loops soar as she ends in a whirlwind: “I thought I was a tree: I was the whole fucking garden.” Damn.
Maddie, Australian via London, doesn’t need to shout to compel a crowd to silence. She has a manner on stage that seems both endearingly calm, a tiny bit shy, and and the same time, completely unfazed. She meets the audience’s eye. “If my body was a poem,’ she begins as a refrain, “My body is an express train…”If my body was a poem it would not have any point…” and as though she’s commanding the crowd in real time she continues, ‘If my body was a poem the audience would not be still, it would writhe and jive and shake…” She has a way about her. She talks about planes, and fear of flying, drawing a laugh with the very useful advice of, ‘If you close the lid before flushing less of your soul gets sucked out.” She’s fearless in her choice of topic and the frank approach: she walks towards them with her words unadorned. “How hard it is to forget a language when your mouth knows the shape of the words.” As though it was a theme for her fearsome set altogether she says ‘I am sorry for refusing to exist quietly.’
Debris does nothing less than storm the stage. A prophetess of grime, she brings a mixture of song, beats, and spoken pieces in a heated seat that pulls in a whopper crowd. A dancer and professional raver she dances even in her spoken pieces – it’s as though she’s pushing the words from her mouth with her muscles, like an engine. The charisma in it: it takes balls to sing a song acapella on stage, particularly on a poetry stage, but she sits into it. She sings a song to those who with different intelligences: “A creative breach learn how you lear, test score low, educate high. Learn how you learn. Ask why.” Her work is a continuing call for better – within the broken structures of society, on the dance floor, within ourselves and the perceptions which rule us: “My hair is big but my brain is bigger.” And in a scorcher of a piece set to a layered beat she has a kind of opposite call to arms, inspired by her love of solo raving and the men who hound her on the dance floor. It’s a cry for space and respect, and it sticks in the head for days, and she pulls the audience into it full-fleshed: “Nah, don’t question question question me.” Brilliant.
Anna Freeman mixes deeply personal, genuine moments with a perfectly timed sense of humour that makes a mix which always surprises the crowd. She pulls in small details of everyday life and somehow, like a sorcerer with an undercut, makes them profound. She describes her progressive childhood with the knock-off My Little Ponies, hauls a mighty laugh from the crowd with her mother’s plan to throw a party with beetroot hummus to celebrate her period.” She creates a rare and compelling intimacy with a crowd. Everyone in the tent feels as though they know her — or more importantly, that she knows them. In a breakup poem she calls a partner her right hand, then says ‘how hard it is to cut off a right hand.” She offers her hopes for gone partners, mixing the heartbreaking and the hilarious: ‘I hope your poo slides out of you like butter.” She offers a love letter to a friend’s baby, who ‘smells like ham,’ and their future relationship ‘for all of my life.’ In a cutting and fierce retort to a sexist comment, a howl against mansplaining, she describes the true ‘conversations worth having.” In another cry for (and against) love she asks, “Where is this going? A binding verbal contract – isn’t that romantic?”
Toria hates being called a ‘punk poet,’ so we won’t, but there is an element of the underground rock star about her. It’s the same kind of fearlessness and poetic upheaval. Her poems are half-songs, she uses repetition to bring the audience into some kind of new space. She talks about heartbreak, of a mosaic of broken dreams in the towns she knows: “I dumped you, liked you.” “Smack my ass so I know we’re all right.” She delves into those difficult topics without flinching, without looking away, without allowing the audience to look away — the things you can’t talk about, when ‘The only thing you’ve got is to look forward to some smoke.’ In her piece on Scotch Maggie she reaped death threats, saying, ‘the moral of the story is, don’t out drug dealers on YouTube.” Her voice has a lilt that builds almost like a tune until the audience is trance-like- crying, compelled, refusing to believe her when she says ‘Nothing matters now.”
A blues singer from the forties has a baby with a modern spoken word poet and that baby grew up to have a baby with campfire druid in an 80s windsuit with the confidence of a lead singer, that baby would be Jemima Foxtrot. She has an oldness about her, and a freshness, and she knows her way around a loop pedal. She sings and her voice seems to come from another era – some of her poems are set to melody, and it sends them to some other level, as the fine language itself rides on top of the tunes: of a day in the forest, ‘We deck its dumb trees with our laughter….muzzled by sickly tradition….In this sweet smudge of wood I love you again.” Over and over the audience is struck by her skill with language, quietly virtuosic : “My soul is dragging audibly..I hope the next man I ramble with is a habit that’s cleaner to kick.” In the title poem to her book All Damn Day, she leaves the audience in tears with a love letter to the small humming of every day ordinary interaction, singing with strangers at a bus stop and when it arrives, ‘we poured onto it like sugar….a heavy bottomed joy…’ ending with the soaring line: “I am too grateful for it. It’s too good.” Us too.
Our headliner, and a legend, John Hegley packs the tent to close out the day. Though he reads from his pieces they have the compelling pull which keeps the audience rapt. His poems are songs too, backed by a multi-instrumentalist for a kind of two-man variety show. He has the kind of attitude of another rocker who has hung up his vinyl pants for a calmer raging. He describes a Luton bungalow, coyly reads the political scene, the ‘assist in the managing of their genius.” He takes aim at past politicos, singing an almost medieval court song about Henry 8th: ‘Can I have a divorce?’ said Henry the 8th, ‘Of course you can’t, said the Pope.’ He whips the audience into a gesticulating frenzy, enlisting them as actors in his piece with hand motions and divers and animals, ‘I am a gillimot, I am a diver, an ocean arriver.” He was called for an encore – -the first of the Poetry&Words stage, ending on a piece on George Best, his ‘twinkle twinkle little toes….I can see George best’s feet dribbling with my scribbling” and the au
OH MY HOLY GOD, YOU GUYS. We’re all in withdrawal from Glasto so let’s relive it together, day by day, shall we?
The poetry at this stage Friday was face-melting, honest, and compelling as hell. Let’s hear about the first few hours, take a wee, then come back for more.
We opened with Antipoet, the two-man, kilt-adorned, madcap bunch of poetic punks who have possibly the hardest job of the weekend, opening each stage from scratch at the start of the day. The two mix music and poems, a double bass and high heeled patent leather boots. They introduce the audience to the martial artist physiotherapist, where ‘the only thing that lets him down is his bedside manner…” they go on to describe the ‘light saber in mummy’s special drawer…little baby you know bullshit when you smell it cause you’ve so much to endure.” Somehow they manage to create a magic energy from scratch at the start of each day, and offer a kind of solace and call to arms: “There’s no money in performance poetry,’ they sing. “We’ll play for sex! We’ll play for food!”
‘Did they just say they’d play for sex?’ asked an audience member at the edge of tent behind me. ‘Who wouldn’t?’ his companion replied.
Emily Harrison begins the day and has a kind of unapologetic confidence as she leads us down a path of fearless honesty on love, mental health, and a frank openness buoyed by a subtle comic timing and detail. On posh boys, she says ‘I want you to take me to the kind of restaurants where you order bread for the table.’ On revenge, she says it’s best served by the one who prepped it.’ Her serious subject matter is interlaid with comic gems: on a date at a fair she says, ‘Fairgrounds are where children get abducted.’ She did a poem about a mistress showing up at her lover’s funeral against his wife’s wishes, wearing ‘Tantrum’ red lipstick: ‘her holding the bible, me with dirty knees,’ which also went down a storm in a teepee next to a nudist colony the night before, backed by a live band. There’s a deep current beneath these pieces, and an empathy, and a wicked sense of how to title them. She leaves the audience shook and filled with a kind of power with her refrain: ‘I am worth the trouble to keep.’ What a legend.
Roy Hutchins Reads Heathcote Williams
In a unique concoction of a music collaboration Roy Hutchins honors the work of Heathcote Williams accompanied by a musician on guitar. ‘The world began when we got tired of nothing,’ he begins, covering topics of establishment intrusion and the state of the nation. Fierce and eloquent, full of fire, he talks about electronic surveillance and in an accusation and rallying cry says ‘real terrorists hide behind banks and governments.’
Down from (near) Manchester, Kieran brought his own unique sensibility to the Glasto stage, offering an ode and lament to punk rock with the refrain ‘no more heroes…I’ve got my own mind I don’t need anyone to follow – I want a Shaun Ryder but I’m stuck with Bono.’ He is one of those poets who seems completely comfortable in front of an audience, as though he’s using his finely-tuned poems to offer them a tour of his house. This is a remarkable gift. He gives a love letter to Solford, his home town, too often a victim of Manchester claiming it during its victories and blaming it during its failures, painting his city as a ‘broadway musical.’ His poems touch on family and class and the fairytale of ordinary life, and he delves into it with love, and into love with all of its stumblings: The ‘Man who drives you mild…can’t make you cry like I can.’ In his poem on the note to self he entreats, ‘you don’t have to hide who you are…hauling the very breath from the audience as he finishes with life-charged cry: ‘Shadows fall behind you when you turn to face the sun. Don’t look back.’
Jasmine has a kind of unadorned confidence that becomes astonishingly compelling on stage. She is one of those poets who seems to grow a foot (a decilitre? A kilogram? I’m American. Anyway, a lot.) when she opens her mouth on stage. And the language: it’s gorgeous. “Why does she write in nightclubs? She’s got blueprints all over her left limb and she ignores the men sticky as the floor.” Jasmine has this mad skill in creating new, unexpected structures for poems — in the midst of her nightclub poem her voice falls silent with an imagined beat, the inevitable staccato, chopped conversation of someone shouting in a bar. She tells a story of coming out, inhaling and exhaling homophobic terms as they rise in her life, and in her mind, as air does. Also a teacher/activist for sexual education, she ends on an extraordinary piece that pulls the audience into a kind of choreographed witness, confession, and listening. She puts a new spin on the facilitator’s tool of asking an audience to raise their hands for a series of scenarios, with a cleverness that just gets more clever the more times you hear the piece: “If anyone has ever pressured you, you don’t have to do a thing for me.” Wherever she says to go, the audience follows.
Michael James Parker
Michael James Parker joined us last minute and the audience was luckier for it. He arrives on a kind of tide of poetic rage, looking with unabashed honesty at the state of the nation, at regret and nostalgia and a vision of wildness. On the UK and the Tories he looks at trickle down economics and the great grinding of the poor: ‘if the dregs of my wine dribble down my legs, lick it up. ‘ With a outraged political howl he asks ‘if you tax me do I not bleed?’ in Primal Scream he moved on to the uses and elements of art: “I want to write poems that sound like a look when I’m dancing.” A compelling presence on stage, he left us with a kind of call to arms, a cathartic push for something better.
Laurie Bolger is another poet who seems fantastically comfortable on stage. Her voice has a kind of lilt that gives an audience the sense they are being confided in, that some sort of reality they never had a voice for was being recounted as an anecdote. And she’s funny — ‘Snoring so loud you could be sucking the paint off the walls.’ In her anti-hipster ode to the old man pub, ‘I’m drinking beer in a bar with no atmosphere…in some tarted up boozer in Shoreditch.’ She offers elegies for old London and a kind of lost authenticity. There are lines in her set which arrest: on a breakup, she talks about ‘a look that fastens us.’ In ‘Ode to Your New Girlfriend’ which spans internet stalking, love and melancholy, watching as a distant witness to a person you used to know: ‘She’s a pop song, you’re a song people want played at their funeral…one of those songs that’s difficult to cover because there’s so much going on.” She tells stories that are relatable in their common honesty, “I’ve lost it in the veg aisle” and the entire audience is charmed, charmed utterly.
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT BATCH!!
Make Art Not War
Spangles for spirit
Walnut Whips for style
and Opal Fruits for when the night is bright
I was feeling crazy when the party arrived
don’t take my singing costume away from me
Unique and chic
Glastonbury is a dancing circus
where the big top is the world
everyone going berserk and the flags unfurled
in every child there’s a poem
in the fragile innocence of trees
something different to sinners.
Make Art not war
List of contributors – Caitlin O’Keeffe, London / Winston Plowes / Robyn + Nicky, Yorkshire / Katie, Brighton / Lisa Godwin / Glastonbury / Tula, Falmouth / Des + Neil, Laddingford / Ian, Barnsley