DOMINIC BERRY: GLASTONBURY POET IN RESIDENCE

A few words with the unparalleled ball of artistic energy Dominick Berry.
How did you get into spoken word? What has kept you writing?

IMG_7898 (2015_08_02 16_41_51 UTC) (2016_02_08 09_08_46 UTC)I got into poetry through experiencing live poetry performances.

I was 19. Seeing people doing something so emotional, intellectual and accessible was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
YouTube exists now, but live performance always has been and always will be in a different league to any telly; terrestrial, online or whatever. See the people doing their thing for real. For some that can a trek, but it’s incomparable to see the artist actually on stage in front of you. I see people in rural communities strive to bring artists out to them, and that is amazing.
Gerry Potter, Jackie Hagan, Avaes Mohammad, Thick Richard, Rosie Garland, Lemn Sissay – these were among the first to inspire me, back in my early twenties. And how it has all grown. For me, for the poetry communities, for the whole world.

Many people across the planet are currently getting a great deal from the work of a previous Glastonbury poet-in-residence Tony Walsh. Following the devastating Manchester tragedy, Tony’s poem ‘this is the place’, has gone viral. A great number of folks are connecting to it, and it is helping those people through this impossibly difficult time. This is getting a lot of people realising the potential of spoken word to heal and unify. Let’s see this transfer into even higher attendance at gigs.
I got into poetry from seeing and listening to poets perform, not through writing workshops. I don’t attend a great deal of writing workshops and, although I am asked near-daily to do them, I run few writing workshops. When I do, I give them my all, but that’s not my preference. If you like workshops, they are ace. Good for you. They are one approach. There are other approaches. We often hear people say workshops is the only way to get folks into poetry, and the only way to make a living from it. This is not true. It is possible to be a performer. It is possible to do gigs. It is possible, if you have the skill and desire, for this to be a job. Teachers are amazing, I have the highest of respect for teachers, but you do not have to be a conventional educator to be a poet, nor should you have to be.
People who want to be in music bands rarely do so from attending music band workshops. They experience excellent live music and then try it themselves. They can learn from doing bad gigs, maybe asking those they respect for their thoughts, but mostly just getting immersed in the best work they can find. Go to gigs! Support poets being poets! Don’t just study them in a class – go see them on stage!
My goal is to continue to do the best I can to use this art as a vehicle to attempt to inspire and unite in difficult times, to make folks laugh, and to generate discussion and understanding. Through doing, not describing how to do it.
I am angry about arts funding cuts. Time and time again we are shown examples, tony walsh’s being one of the more recent, of what experiencing art can do. Art is not some airy-fairy, extra curricular activity. Art is up there with the best ways many people can find their voice, develop self confidence and the ability to speak their minds in front of others. It needs to be funded. Poets cannot produce work without the time away from other employment to create and often those who would benefit most from the work are not in a position to pay for a ticket. Art is invaluable and without it, our voice is reduced to a whisper. Support the arts! Gigs gigs gigs gigs gigs!
Give us your Desert Island Discs – Poem Version:

This list would change every day, no, several times a day, but given my current mood and what I have experienced lately, here’s where I’m at right at this moment:

I am proud to be an adopted northerner. Kieren’s celebration of a city so maligned and neglected is awe inspiring. Sublime. A fantastic performer with words of steel.
As the right wing so successfully turn poor people against poor people, blame the vulnerable for every ill happening under the sun, and achieve a seemingly ever growing culture of mistrust and hate, Gerry’s empathic, no-punches-pulled work is more vital than ever. A battle cry. Every teenager should see this poem.
Words with great strength so gently recited, Keisha understands the subtleties of theatre and tiniest nuances of language. An incredible stage presence from a person who speaks with well informed clarity and arty spark whose every atom seems to burst with poetry. A highlight of 2016 Glasto.
I was saying all northern UK poets, so here is one from Canada – they write about trans life and subjects I have no personal experience of in a way which touches and educates. This poem is about the simultaneous glamorisation and demonising of prostitution, and has provided me with a response to many well meant but ill informed comments I’ve heard made on this topic.
 
I first saw AntiPoet at Edinburgh fringe and was overjoyed when they were on at last year’s Glastonbury – life affirming, awesome, fantastically entertaining wordplay, humour and courage – undiluted love. That’s what we all need, right, undiluted love.
Hopes for Glasto? 

To have the best time! To experience lots of gigs! To be good at being poet-in-residence!

Last year was my first Glastonbury festival and I spend a great amount of my time sat watching poets on the Poetry and Words stage in the circus area. The circus performers were also magic. I’m excited by the headline acts, I mean, Chic? Wow. The community. The awesome people being at Glastonbury gives us the chance to meet and spend time with. Unforgettable time. Lots of dancing, singing, listening and cheering. All the cheering!
I am going to see what is happening from left wing political speakers, to listen to what they have to say. In this time of terrifying vilifying of the already oppressed, to listen to the opinions of others on how best I can do my part to positively react to growing money and power lust, racist attacks, the persecution of the underclass – I hope to engage with lefty gatherings, and think about how I can contribute to nurturing a kinder, fairer society.
I will eat lots of falafel.
Yeah, that’s it, my hope is to go, enjoy every moment of it, do the most and the best that I can. I am so excited about it all, as always, it’s going to be fantastic!
Yeah, that’s it, my hope is to go, enjoy every moment of it, do the most and the best that I can. I am so excited about it all, as always, it’s going to be fantastic!

ANNOUNCEMENT KLAXON!

Talkers and listeners, writers and readers, illiterate inanimate objects,

we have reached out to all the performers and will shortly be announcing our FULL LINE-UP!  In the meantime, here is a small amuse bouche as we prepare for lift off.

COMPERES FOR POETRY&WORDS 2017…..

ROSY CARRICK AND DREADLOCKALIEN!!! 

2017 brings these two poetic firebrands back to the happy fields of Glastonbury to [wo]manhandle you through yet another spectacular Poetry & Words line-up, so come out, sit down and shut up, cos this is one charming motherf**ker not to be missed!

Experienced hosts who keep tent dwellers and poetry lovers in the palm of their lyrical hands…we welcome the first of the cracking line-up for this year’s Glasto.

 

ROSY CARRICK

Quick-witted and charismatic, Rosy Carrick has got a PhD in Russian literature and a WTF in 80s beefcake movie obsession. Co-curator of the poetry stage at Port Eliot festival, she also co-hosts the Latitude poetry stage and has been at the helm of the Brighton spoken word scene for the last decade. 2017 brings her back to the happy fields of Glastonbury to [wo]manhandle you through yet another spectacular Poetry & Words line-up, so come out, sit down and shut up, cos this is one charming motherf**ker not to be missed! www.rosycarrick.com
“Clever, funny, quarrelsome, querulous, astonishing!” Sabotage Reviews

“Sardonically witty and often surreal […] Carrick is the person you wanted to hang around with at school – wry, cool, erudite and a bit ribald” – Speaker’s Corner

DREADLOCKALIEN

Dreadlockalien is one of the hardest working artists in the West Midlands. Touring UK venues with his performance poetry and slam sets as well as three plays, Amalgam Jam, Soundclash and Chocolate Wars, Dreadlockalien continues to push the boundaries of live literature. The former Birmingham poet laureate as well as a host of BBC Radio 4 Slam Poetry. Dreadlockalien is also Co-Director of Colour Free Visions Theatre, a founding member of the New October Poets, curator of the ‘Art 4 Social Change’ collection of ethnic art and Co-Director of the UK Schools’ Poetry Slam Championships.

His urban hip-hop dub flow verse delivery of words and concepts address social issues such as citizenship, identity, immigration and Black British experiences. No steel pan and samosa tokenism here; strictly education before entertainment.

CALLING ALL POETS, spoken word artists, raconteurs, stand-up poets and slam champs…

Once again, Poetry&Words are opening our floodgates to a delicious deluge of poets from far and wide.  Every year we take applications to perform on Glastonbury Festival’s poetry stage, and every year we are awestruck by the hundreds of amazing wordsmiths out there.  Last year we hosted an abundance of talent from international stars Buddy Wakefield and Tanya Evanson, to home grown greats John Hegley and Murray Lachlan Young.  If you’d like to walk in their footsteps, 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 want to apply, please e-mail poetryandwords@hotmail.co.uk 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. Further applications will be ignored, so send us your best stuff first time around! Don’t send Word files of your poems or links to your books, however good they are, as we need to be able to judge the performance element 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.

The deadline for applications is, strictly, 5pm on Friday 3rd March 2017.  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 humongous number of applications we receive every year, we are unable 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.

This year’s festival runs from June 22nd-26th, 2017. To find out more, go to: http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/

You can also find us at:

http://www.facebook.com/GlastonburyFestivalPoetry
http://www.youtube.com/user/PoetryandWords
https://poetryandwordsblog.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/GlastonburyPoet

And the winner is…

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The contestants were muddy, the weather was muggy, the standard was ruddy marvellous but after a hard fought battle the winner of the Glastonbury Poetry&Words slam 2016 (and the winner of a slot on our stage at next year’s festival) was the raucous, brilliant, moving Emily Hammond winning with a rousing poem on rape culture!

Here she is with her trophy

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What a way to round off the festival, we’re thrilled to have our first poet on the lineup for next year and we can’t wait to be back.

We’ve had humour and feminism and EU fury and worry and panic and pleasure, lost loves, new friends, old stories, heritage, home, Jo Cox, demi Gods, beards, books, bands, banks, lyrics, lust and profoundly found love sung out from our stage to the hundreds that have sat and soaked up our poetry. It’s been an absolute pleasure to bring all the sounds of P&W 2016 to your ears and my profound thanks go to all the poets who have graced our luscious stage, all the crew who have built it and made it possible and most of all to Helen and Benita Johnson, the divine mercurial forces (stage managers) who keep it all running, keep us all happy and keep on keeping on! Thanks Glastonbury, even in your mud, even (or especially) in Brexit you’re my favourite place on this Earth.

See you next year

Love,

Megan

xxx

Hope you like slamming too!

Our last poets have hit the stage for this year. Our wonderful and tireless Scott Tyrrell who has been behind the easel all festival bringing us live sketches of our beautiful poets as they share their words with our crowds, hit the stage again and gave a beautiful set. Replete with his character, Malcolm Odour and he ended with ‘that’ poem about interrupted coitus.

Then Rory Jones, last year’s winner of the Glastonbury Poetry Slam took the stage. 13521128_10209736544674963_1953731918_n

He was witty and brilliant as he told us his best friend was his beard and gave us the sounds of a late night Scottish street when you’re trying to get to bed. It was a pleasure to have him back after his well-deserved win last year and he and his ‘beige trousers’ did themselves good!

 

Now the slam, hosted by Michelle Madsen and Iona Lee clad in sweatbands and sparkly leggings, is under way in a tent packed to the rafters. The rain cannot dampen our soul-shaking festival spirit. We’re ready for festival fun, a Glastonbury ‘moment’ in a damp tent, a slam winnnnnnnerrrrr!

More coming soon

xx

 

Everything is yours if you want it to be – Jodi Ann Bickley

As the rain descends, we’ve just had a gorgeous storm of a set from Glastonbury Poet in Residence 2016, the incomparable Jodi Ann Bickley.

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She talked love old and new, she talked about motherhood – from the gorgeous tribute to the lushness her mum instilled in her from youth to the joys of raising her 8 month old daughter. I can’t really put into words the brilliance of Jodi’s work so instead I’ll just give you some of my favourite lines:

 

‘We are kids in our parents clothing’

‘No Instagram filters can fix the level of dickhead both of us can be’

‘Exhausted but in love, always in love’

‘Everything is yours if you want it to be’

‘Don’t let them burn your spark out’

‘I am in absolute awe of you’

‘Thanks for crying on the kitchen floor with me’

‘Tears and scars are reminders of how hard we fought’

 

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Gosh that was lovely! Thanks Jodi – you’ve summed up our festival better than you could know, all of us here are ‘exhausted but in love, always in love’! Thanks Jodi, thanks Glastonbury!

 

’99 percent gay’ – Sunday Funday at Glastonbury

We kicked off today once more with the brilliant openers Poetry Can F**k Off and the ever amusing Antipoet. J J Bola was back with his searing analysis of the refugee crisis,the crisis of modern masculinity and the power of love to transform us positively.

Keisha Thompson gave us another set full of heart and warmth and she taught us what it means if you dream of fish in Caribbean superstition!

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Murray Lachlan Young was up next and he gave us an energizing set full of song and warmth and humour. Hot on his heels was the fabulous Sophia Blackwell, our last minute wonderwomen who stepped in and saved the day – her set was joyfully  diverse and great fun. Clad in a pink tutu and festival face paint she spoke of being ’99 percent gay’ but regaled us with her tales of her brief adventures in ‘boyland’. Lush.

Following Sophia was our showcase Sunday poet, Tanya Evanson over from the US. She gave us a soft and gorgeous set, asking us to close our eyes, to find some calm, quiet reflection in the chaos of the busy. Here is Scott in the process of sketching her:

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Next up we had the legendary Attila the Stockbroker sharing from his most recent work, his Autobiography, Argument’s Yard. He talks powerfully about politics and people, he shares an important poem about getting yourself checked regularly with the GP or as he puts it ‘getting your knob out for the doc’. Three Cheers for the NHS! He also shares a moving one about reconciling with his stepfather in later life: ‘look at me I’m 58, imagine what a stroppy bastard I was when I was 14 and a half! Then he cracks out the mandolin and sends us off with a song.

 

Next up is Jodi Ann Bickley, a firm favourite of mine, Poet in Residence for Glastonbury 2016 whose EU poem has been met with cheers and photos and solidarity as it is posted all across the site. We can’t wait to welcome her to our stage.

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Poetry is words made joyful.

Today’s group poem from Winston Plowes’ walkabout bicycle is one that reminds us again to shed of our skins, forget who we are and what we worry about and just dance, dance, dance!

 

Dance, dance, dance

 

Sharing the good times

the care free play times

in our watery love tent.

 

The sun is out so come outside.

Dance in the mud with the young blood.

Dance to the rhythms of the music.

Dance to the work of an artist.

 

Then wander the fields

in the dead of night

with a rainbow warrior’s colourful spirit.

Poetry is words made joyful.

 

Contributors – Rod, Myia & Dave, Ciaron John Rees, Mike ‘Dr Blue’, James Paul and Chris, Rachel, Luke and Kumbi, Aidan & Eileen, Dan & Nicole, Sarah, Nadia & Meher

Hegley and Tyrrell and Luke Wright, oh my!

Our showcase spot this afternoon was Luke Wright and he blew the roof off the tent, funny and sincere in equal measure he peformed pieces with only the vowel ‘i’ and then with only ‘u’ in them leading to lots of chat about ‘Ruth’s mum’. He told us that ‘life is often brighten, life is more good than bad’ – something all of us need to remind ourselves daily at the moment! He ended with a gorgeous little hymnal to his ‘missus’, after ten years he’s still ‘moonstruck for [his] missus’! 13510479_10209729335694743_1812432698_n

Luke’s lovely set was followed by equally beautiful performances from the stellar Zohab Khan, Kevin P Gilday and Brenda Ray. Lush words to soak up on a sunny afternoon.

Then followed perhaps our hardest working poet this year – Scott Tyrrell, resident artist, sketcher and owl-poet creator. Scott has been at the side of the stage all day sketching away, and he delivered a beautiful set full of politics and humour and heart. He acted out his anti-slam character, Malcolm Odour – officially the worst poet in Britain!  He is hilarious but also heartfelt, he talks about his wife’s disability ‘a true hero with a blue badge’. Scott has contributed so much to the stage this year and we’re very lucky to have him, he’s been ‘forever destroying the myth that men can’t multi-task’!

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Lastly, we were blessed with a rammed tent for a wonderful, funny, musical, mirthful set from John Hegley. He gets the audience to cheer and woop and holler and feel good. They choose the page numbers to decide his setlist. He whacks out his ukulele and transforms the whole tent into the Luton bungalow he grew up in. Our flowers become his dad’s garden, the bunting his mum’s washing on the line , his parents themselves are the stage monitors nestling at the front. As we sing along in three part harmony ‘lalalala Luton bungalow’, we feel wonderful content and full of worth and full of words.

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Thanks for another gorgeous day in our corner of this beautiful, unified, wonderstruck field – more from us tomorrow! xx