Interview with Erin Fornoff

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:

Erin Fornoff by Scott Tyrrell

Erin Fornoff by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Erin Fornoff

Website

https://www.erinfornoff.com

Twitter handle

@jarsofshine

Instagram handle

@erinfornoff

Video

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ErinFornoffWriter

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

I moved to Ireland from the US and had the loneliest year of my life — starting writing almost as a way to talk to myself, and then my first friends were writers and performers. Being far away allowed me to try something new.

Who are your influences/ idols?

Saul Williams, George Saunders, Kate Tempest, Colm Keegan, Cee-Lo Green

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

I use poetry as a way to figure stuff out.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Memorize stuff and don’t ever read off your phone in front of an audience.

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

Kate Tempest, Hozier, Lauryn Hill, going into the underground speakeasy place in the woods, performing in a gang with the other poets.

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

Roving around the festival with the poets, performing in teepees and tree houses, caves and lean-tos, fields and bars all weekend-the absolute best bit. Also I made friends with Hollie McNish within the first 5 minutes of arriving and we’ve been pals for 6 years now. Also, as I was heading to the shower, Debris Stevenson and Koko Brown telling me that someone with hair as curly as mine should wash it with conditioner instead of shampoo, a piece of advice which changed my (hair) life forever.

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

Costumes and outfits

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

Good lord, bring an air mattress.

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

Yes

What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?

Saying ’Hellooooooo Glastonbury’ then making myself laugh more than was really called for.

What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?

Work on your pre- and post-poem banter

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

poetry, performance poetry, spoken word, live literature

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

Telling stories

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

My book is called Hymn to the Reckless and pamphlet is Folk Heroes!


You can see Erin Fornoff at 16:35-17:00 Friday; 17:10-17:35 Saturday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about her here.

Interview with Joe Sellman-Leava (Monster)

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:

Joe Sellman-Leava by Scott Tyrrell

Joe Sellman-Leava by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Joe Sellman-Leava

Name of Act

Monster

Website

https://www.worklighttheatre.co.uk/

Twitter handle

@joesellmanleava

Instagram handle

@joesellmanleava

Video

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/WorklightTheatre/

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

Most of my work has been in theatre, though I’ve always written poetry too, and performed at events like Apples & Snakes. I brought my show ‘Labels’ to Glastonbury in 2017, and – although it’s technically a play – the use of storytelling, poetry and other textual forms like news headlines and political soundbites meant that it felt right at home in the Poetry and Words tent.

Who are your influences/ idols?

Spalding Gray, Julie Taymor, Bryony Kimmings, Holly Hughes, Tim Miller, Sarah Kaye, Bobby Baker.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

The piece I’m bringing this year, ‘Monster,’ is a shortened version of a play by the same name. It’s a narrative about masculinity and choice, layered with multiple voices: including Mike Tyson, Patrick Stewart and Shakespeare.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Set aside time to make work. Set deadlines for your work, especially ones in front of an audience! And read/watch/experience other work, including in other disciplines.

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

So many! I’ll see as much as I can at Poetry and Words, but outside of that the people that spring to mind are Janelle Monae; The Cure; Aurora; Stormzy; Bastille; Kate Tempest.

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

Watching the Foo Fighters in 2017 – I was completely blown away! Dave Grohl had everyone in the palm of his hand, and they all had such an amazing rapport with each other.

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

Ginger nuts and apples – best festival breakfast you could eat!

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

Take time to wander around, as well as to stop and take it all in now and again.

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

Yes

What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?

Some friends from the office I used to work at were watching, and one of the bosses was in tears by the end. That felt really special.

What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?

Enjoy it! The noise from other tents, plus the fact that people may wander in and out, might feel a little distracting at times, but focus on connecting with whoever’s there at the time, and the work you’re performing, and the rest will take care of itself.

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

spoken word, theatre

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

Connecting with people.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I can’t wait to be there, in such wonderful company!


You can see Monster at 15:15-16:00 Sunday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about him here.

Interview with Demi Anter

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:

DemiAnter by Scott Tyrrell

DemiAnter by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Demi Anter

Website

http://www.demianter.com

Twitter handle

@demianter

Instagram handle

@anterdemi

Video

Half – at Words With Friends from Demi Anter on Vimeo.

Audio

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

I became aware of spoken word in high school, when someone showed me a video of Anis Mojgani’s “Shake the Dust.” I wrote poetry but was extremely shy, and thought there was no way I would ever dare to perform. Fast forward to my first week of college at University of California, Santa Barbara, where I saw Prof. Kip Fulbeck give a talk. Despite a huge amount of fear, I enrolled in his legendary spoken word class (and I do mean LEGENDARY! It’s a class that people routinely refer to as “life-changing”). I found I had a knack for it and the rest is history!

Who are your influences/ idols?

I do still love Anis Mojgani. Saul Williams is untouchable. I have learned so much from listening to Beau Sia, and only hope to reach his level of profundity and skill one day. No one has influenced me more than Kip Fulbeck, my steadfast mentor and friend for nearly ten years.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

It means a lot to me to be personal, and vulnerable, and to take risks. I try to write pieces that are scary for me to perform. I want someone in the audience to feel seen, and less alone in the frequently uphill battle that is being a person in this world.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

I think I would have been terrified to start without the framework of a class, so I would advise to find whatever support system or push that you need to get going! Even one other friend who agrees to read or watch your performing in the beginning can be an immense help. Most of all — don’t be afraid to write down the ideas that make you say, “I could never say this on a stage.” Maybe you won’t say it today, but you’ll get there — and for me, this is the work I most want to see!

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

I encountered Erin Fornoff’s work pretty recently and I’m excited to see more of it. (Plus, she understands the American expat struggle!) In general, most of the U.K./European scene is new to me, so it will be a thrill to get to know so many poets in one weekend! At the rest of the festival, I’m probably most excited to see Lizzo (if you need a confidence boost, go listen to “Betcha” and “Truth Hurts” right now).

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

No

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

poetry, performance poetry, spoken word

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

The performance itself can be quite cathartic, but what I like most is what comes after, when I get to talk to viewers and hear their interpretations, insights, responses, and so on. It’s so cool to hear “Something like that happened to me,” and “I can so relate.” Everybody has a story, but not everyone is in a position to share them. I consider is a great honor to share my stories and to get to connect with others through them.


You can see Demi Anter at 13:35-14:00 Friday; 14:35-15:00 Saturday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about her here.

Interview with Desree

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:

Desree by Scott Tyrrell

Desree by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Desree

Website

https://www.iamdesree.co.uk

Twitter handle

@dezziiee_

Instagram handle

@dezziiee_

Video

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/desreepoetry

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

Long story short – I was not a good rapper but really liked writing

Who are your influences/ idols?

I take a lot of my influences from the early Grime scene and Neo-Soul music. But am in love with poets like Shange and Walker and Angelou.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

That it is honest and all I can do is speak my truth

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Go to as many nights as you possibly can. And then keep going and going. Yes you will be exhausted but you’re working on your performance as well as keeping your name in people’s mouths.

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

Stormzy and the unfairground

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

No

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

poetry, performance poetry, spoken word, live literature, random words in a random order, no idea

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

Connecting with people and having interactions with other humans, that might be feeling the same or give them a different perspective

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

MUM, I AM PERFORMING AT GLASTONBURY!


You can see Desree at 13:05-13:30 Friday; 16:05-16:30 Saturday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about her here.

Interview with Dominic Berry

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

Dominic Berry by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Dominic Berry

Website

https://dominicberry.net/

Twitter handle

@thepoetdominic

Instagram handle

@thepoetdominic

Video

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?

Yes

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?

Love

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?

Yes

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.

Interview with Jackie Juno

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:

Jackie Juno by Scott Tyrrell

Jackie Juno by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Jackie Juno

Website

https://jackiejuno.com/

Twitter handle

@JackieJuno

Video

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/Jackie-Juno-204884346199582/

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

Via stand-up comedy and cabaret

Who are your influences/ idols?

Bill Bailey, Benjamin Zephaniah, Julie Mullen, Matt Harvey, Jo Brand

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

I have won awards for my page poetry as well as my performance work

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Remain true to yourself. Go to as many live performances as you can

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

Neneh Cherry, Lauryn Hill, Hozier, Jo Brand, John Hegley

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

Winning the Poetry Slam 2017, dancing naked on stage c1993, surviving the muddy years

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

Earplugs

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

Try and stay grounded in all the madness

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

In the slam

What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?

Winning the slam 2017

What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?

Be 100% yourself

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

performance poetry, stand-up poetry

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

I love to make people laugh, and cry

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I am very excited about being part of the Poetry and Words stage, I have found it such a haven of truth and safety in recent years when it all gets a bit mad, and the lineup this year is pretty stellar! I will be bringing copies of my four poetry collections for folks to take home with them, and chocolate to share 🙂


You can see Jackie Juno at 16:35-17:00 Sunday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about her here.

Interview with Will Sanderson-Thwaite/ Gecko

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up:

Gecko by Scott Tyrrell

Gecko by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Will Sanderson-Thwaite

Name of Act

Gecko

Website

http://geckoofficial.com

Twitter handle

@geckoofficial

Instagram handle

@geckoofficial

Video

http://youtube.com/geckoofficial

Audio

Spotify

Facebook Page

http://facebook.com/geckoband

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

The Apples & Snakes open mic Jawdance at the rich mix in Hackney was my entry point into this wonderful world. I come from a music background where open mic has very different connotations and I was absolutely blown away by the warmth and energy of the place.

Who are your influences/ idols?

Randy Newman

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

There might be some audience participation!

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

I’m ridiculously excited to see Stormzy headline.

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

Playing after Billy Bragg in the Green Fields. Not only that playing after Billy Bragg closing with a Bob Dylan song. No pressure!

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

Vocalzones

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

Explore off the beaten track, try not to have too much planned so you can be free!

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

No

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

poetry, spoken word, music, multidisciplinary entertainment

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

Building up trust with an audience so that you can become more playful with them as the show goes on.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I will have some CDs of my album Volcano with me if anyone would like to support that dying medium.


You can see Gecko at 15:35-16:00 Saturday; 14:45-15:10 Sunday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about him here.

Interview with Luke Wright

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. First up:

Luke Wright by Scott Tyrrell

Luke Wright by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Luke Wright

Website

http://www.lukewright.co.uk

Twitter handle

@lukewrightpoet

Instagram handle

@lukewrightpoet

Video

Audio

Facebook Page

http://www.facebook.com/mrlukewright

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

I saw Ross Sutherland, Martin Newell and John Cooper Clarke do a gig in Colchester and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life performing poems on stage.

Who are your influences/ idols?

This year I’ve been mostly listening to Aldous Harding.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

I did it all myself without any help from my mum.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Read widely, watch widely.

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

Mik Artistik

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

Aged 17, Performing poems down a megaphone at the stone circle. It sound unlikely but people cheered.

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

A good quality pair of rubber boots

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

You’ll never see all of it so relax and play it by ear. It’s not about the bands.

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

Yes

What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?

Not that I’m advocating such behaviour but one year I was very very drunk. But I remembered all the words to a 9 minute ballad and then had a great game of football with some kids backstage before passing out in the sun.

What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?

They’re not leaving because they hate you, it’s that the Foo Fighters are on.

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

poetry

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

My life is my job.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

It’s my 20th anniversary this month. 20 years since my first gig. Almost to the day!


You can see Luke Wright at 16:35-17:00; Saturday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about him here.

Introducing: Helen and Benita Johnson, Organisers of Glastonbury Poetry&Words

The Johnsons, by Scott Tyrrell

The Johnsons, by Scott Tyrrell

Time to tell you something about the history of the stage, and thereby Helen Johnson, who’ll be there with partner Benita every day, barring a natural disaster! If they’re new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In Helen’s own words:

“The Poetry&Words stage was set up in 1992 by Pat V T West. It started off in a yurt and then moved quickly to a small stage in the corner of the Green Fields. Just before her untimely death in 2008 Pat called me to her flat in Clifton to ask me if I would take over the stage. To say I was taken aback would be a massive under-statement. I had absolutely no idea that was coming! At the time, I was in the midst of my PhD, juggling that with a full-time teaching job. I had no idea how I could possibly run a festival stage too, but you just can’t say no to that!

“So I said yes – on condition that the infrastructure was sorted out for me. (No arriving two weeks’ before to a bare patch of grass for me; I needed the tent up already!) So it was that the Poetry&Words stage moved to Theatre and Circus, who had a tent they would house us in for a few hours a day; a tent, as it turned out, that was several times the size of Poetry&Words Mark I.

“That first year, before I headed off to a conference in Saskatoon, Canada, I packed two bags – one for Canada and one for Glastonbury. After the conference, I got back to my house, had a shower, switched bags and caught the train to the festival! I had a skeleton crew that first year and ran much of it myself – compering, performing, organising etc, alongside a few helpers and poets. By the Sunday, I was so exhausted by jet lag and festival fever that I literally fell asleep on my feet (to quite a lively band, as it happens!)

“Anyway, fast forward to 2010. The stage now ran all day and I had a full crew to help me with it (having discovered the wonders of delegation). At the time, I was performing my poetry as part of the duo, Yaffle, with musician, Benita Johnson. I invited Benita along to perform with me at the festival. Two years later we were married (not something, I can assure you, that happens with everyone I book, though we did get engaged at the festival in 2011).

“When we had our son, Jake, in 2015, Benita stood in for me as stage manager, and I had the pleasure of attending as a punter for only the third time ever, along with our 6 week old boy. Benita proved to be so adept at running the stage, that we’ve worked together on it ever since. I suspect that Jake won’t be far behind. He helped me laminate Scott Tyrrell’s bunting this year, talking to each of the poets as they went through the laminator. (Some were told off for being naughty, but most, you’ll be pleased to hear, behaved well and made friends with him on their journey.)”

Reviews:

“Her sparkling witty poetry is continuing to wow audiences on the performance poetry circuit.” ~ Three Tuns Poetry

“…poignant yet sultry and stirring, complex and sweet.” ~ Everton Hartley

“She glides and canters over hills and vales of words leaving a landscape of language hanging on the wall of your mind.” ~ Mal Travers, Acoustic Night

“Like Ani DiFranco on steroids.” ~ Bob (happy audience member at a Yaffle performance)

Fay Other people’s words:

I really wanted to highlight the folk who make this all possible. It turns out we haven’t heard explicitly from Helen since Scott’s interview in 2015, so it felt like time! In a total cop-out, I canvassed those poets who I know who’ve worked with Helen (and Benita) in the past. They have this to say:

“These two create, curate, and nurture one of the most unique stages at Glasto – a true space for listeners to open themselves or take a quiet breath among the chaos. The two of them create life changing experiences for poets – I can genuinely say going to Glasto, my first ever gig in the U.K., was transformative – and it was thanks to them.” – Erin Fornoff

“How hard Helen and Benita work for make P&W happen is indescribable by even a billion villanelles!

“Loadsa folks believe these things ‘just happen’, they don’t consider how much organisation it takes to make it happen. That attitude is the greatest sign the event is well managed, cos most people only notice when stuff goes wrong. P&W is a Glastonbury Festival staple any poet worth their sonnets is proud to shout about being on the team.

“Helen has deeply studied the art of performance poetry, she knows what makes a solid stanza, and her love for our art is evident in all she achieves.

“Long may P&W’s flags triumphantly fly!” – Dominic Berry

“I met Helen around 2003, when we were both part of the Bristol poetry scene, and when Pat West was still the P&W boss. The stage has grown and diversified so dramatically in the years since Helen’s been at the helm and I’m so glad to still be a part of it now, and to see her and her growing family (and amazing thigh-bum-bag thing) pottering gloriously around the site!” – Rosy Carrick

“We met Helen and Benita at Larmer Tree festival in 2011. I had submitted The Antipoet for Glastonbury, along with a couple of thousand other people that year. I had never seen so much negativity on social media before! Many people that realised they hadn’t been chosen were angry and expressed themselves accordingly. I felt I needed to address the balance and simply wrote on line, that even though they hadn’t been selected, that they would happily step in if anyone had a problem at the last minute and thanked them for all their hard work and wished them good luck with it all. A few similar responses appeared after mine and the ‘angries’ petered out. I received a response a couple of days later stating that yes, I was correct in thinking that they hadn’t got Glastonbury but would they be interested in Larmer Tree, another poetry Stage that Helen ran? Yes please! They did it, had a ball and found a great fan base that saw them being asked to play there every year since. I didn’t give up submitting to Glastonbury and the next year when they were given the second opportunity to play Larmer Tree, they were pleased but Ian simply acknowledged my text notifying them with a, ‘lovely, I guess that means no Glastonbury’. I said, ‘never say never’ and a few weeks afterwards we were told they had been successful in applying for Poetry and Words as well that year! I cannot put into words how happy they both were as I’m the manager and they’re the creatives but I can still remember the look on Paul’s face when I read out the email over breakfast. He never did finish that boiled egg.

“Having done that I realise it’s more how they all got together than about Helen and Benita themselves 😮 It just all came flooding back. The fact that they’re lovely people, who have a stupidly hard job sorting through submissions every year and juggling poets that can really handle festivals and create a good mix across the board in all areas whilst looking for performers they know that can trust to turn up and do the job should be forgotten either.” – Donna Ray, Manager of The Antipoet

“Both Helen and Benita have thrown themselves into the gargantuan task of getting a world class lineup together every single year. A lineup that flows and wows seamlessly and effortlessly over 3 days. They’ve worked hard to get a first class backstage team to grease the wheels, and they have an unerring eye for spotting talent and giving them a platform at the world’s greatest outdoor festival. The likes of Luke Wright, Kate Tempest and Hollie McNish all started out being picked for Poetry&Words when they were bright, young, hungry things. And I personally have huge gratitude for being allowed to have plied both my love of illustration and spoken word at such an amazing place regularly over the years. I am truly in their debt.” – Scott Tyrrell


I’m really looking forward to finally meeting Helen and Benita in person later this month and telling them in person what an amazing job they do! ♥

Sneak preview:

Introducing: Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam, hosted by Brian McMahon Gallagher and Thunderclap Murphy


And to finish everything off is the famous Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam, 17:00-19:00 Sunday. If it’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

Important points the organisers would like you to note:

  • Sign ups are once the tent opens on site (11:30 Friday 28th). No early sign ups. Nope, not even for you!
  • Booked poets can’t perform in either this or the open mic, so this is a chance to air/ hear new voices.
  • 12 poets for sign up plus 3 reserves.
  • Poets don’t have to memorise poems, but memorisation will be credited.
  • If you’ve signed up for the competition, you must present yourself at the side stage by 16:50 on the day or you will lose your spot.
  • The five judges will be a cross section of poets/ musicians/ performance artists, with the weighting being on poets. i.e. 3 poets, 1 musician, 1 other performance type person.
  • The slam prizes are: a spot in next year’s programme, and an awesome unique trophy designed by Pete Hunter of Apples & Snakes (see photos above).

Brian MacMahon Gallagher and Thunderclap Murphy will be your hosts, and their decisions re: any of the above administrative points will be final.

Fay’s words:

I love me a slam. My first introduction to performance poetry that wasn’t in Welsh/ someone else’s words/ both was watching my brother, and other competitors, slam in what turned out to be one of the earliest UK slams in Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre in the mid-90s. Of course, competitive poetry recitation is something we Welsh had been doing for centuries (see Chairing of the Bard, and the modern Welsh Eisteddfodau tradition for examples – yes, 200 years old is the modern version…), but this was dynamic, and sharp, and immediate and – more importantly – democratic; each event’s bard chosen by the acclaim of the people.

Almost exactly three years after I moved to England to the day, I entered a slam for the first time, mostly as a favour to a friend. It was a bit of a turning point. Say what you like about slams (and I have), but they’re an amazing way into poetry for a lot of people – performers and punters. I’ve been running slams for {checks memory; whoa!} twelve years now, and am showing no signs of stopping. People bring something unique and adrenaline-fuelled to slams, and the audience gets very invested in the outcome. This year’s Glastonbury Poetry&Words Slam will be no exception, with a pretty amazing prize plus epic bragging rights. I’m looking forward more than I can say to the finale of this year’s Glastonbury Poetry&Words!