Glastonbury Poetry Sunday Showcase – Anna Freeman

Right. Sooooo…you may notice in place of the usual photo of the poet there is, instead, an owl. Short story is this – last year I designed the poster for Poetry&Words and went to town drawing a great number of the poets as owls. The overall response to this was one of general enthusiasm and a few of this year’s poets expressed disappointment at not being owl-ised this year – none more so than Anna Freeman who refused to give me an interview (that may or may not be an exaggeration) unless I draw her as one. Ergo, the resulting image below.

I spoke to Anna, a Glastonbury veteran, about her first Glastonbury Showcase spot, her novel, TV dramatisation, camping preferences and if she had a favourite illustrator. Hmmm…

anna_alone2How the hell are you?

I’m pretty good! I’ve got a mini bakewell tart so, you know, pretty good. Looking forward to seeing you.

Your novel, ‘The Fair Fight’ is doing quite well out in the world – critically acclaimed and selling very well. Has your expectation of being a successful novelist matched up to the reality?

I’m sorry, I’m just too important to think about that. I’ll have one of my people get back to you. Um. Really I don’t know. I don’t know if I’d definitely call it successful. The hardback has been doing well as hardbacks go, but the paperback comes out soon and that’s when you really know whether it sells. I don’t think about it much or I go weird. I’m much more comfortable being anxious about the second novel.

I understand the BBC have optioned the book for dramatization. In an ideal world, which actors would you want to play your fantasy cast? In particular the two main protagonists, Ruth and Charlotte?

I don’t know much about actors, tbh. But the woman who’s in charge of the development at the BBC definitely thinks like me about it – they can’t be too pretty. Nothing about the dramatisation should be prettied up.

It’s not an accident that my two female protagonists don’t look the way that women are told they ‘should’. One of them is covered in smallpox scars and the other has had half her teeth knocked out. The book is largely about their gradual empowerment, and part of that – though definitely not all of it – is about overcoming the pressures that women are under to look a certain way. The book is grimy and blood spattered. The cast have to be as well.

It’s quite a leap to take from writing poetry to a full blown novel. What were the writing challenges you encountered in making the transition?

You need loads more biscuits to do a novel than you do for a poem. Don’t underestimate that.

Can you tell us what you are currently working on?

I’m doing this Q&A for my friend Scott because he promised to draw me an owl. But after that I’m going to have another go at writing a bit more of my second novel. It’s a thriller set in the fifties. We’ll see if it turns out okay – I can’t tell. It’s either pure rubbish or a work of genius. One of those two.

I’m also going on tour with my show, Animal, starting in the spring and ending at Edinburgh Fringe 2016. It’s a show I’ve been writing for AGES (Really ages) with Chris Redmond and the Tongue Fu band. It’s a spoken word comedy about life choices and spirit animals, set to live music, and it’s one of the funnest things I get to do.

You’ve played the Big G a couple of times before, but this will be your first Showcase gig. What can we expect? Will there be book reading and poetry? Or just poetry? Or just book-reading? Will it be funny? Will you be wearing a hat?

No hats. And I don’t think novel either. I’ll just do my very best to be funny. And not too hungover. That’s the plan.

You’ve played your fair share of festivals. What makes Glastonbury different from the rest?

The size, to start with! But also it belongs to me in a weird way because I’ve been going to it since I was a kid.

What has been your favourite Glastonbury moment?

A couple of years ago, with Bohdan Piasecki, Deanna Rodger, Adam Kammerling, Erin Fornoff and Dan Simpson, dancing to The Destroyers. I was stone cold sober but I was so filled with pure joy that I thought, “Surely someone’s spiked me. I can’t be having this much fun sober. No way.” That’s the kind of thing my OCD brain thinks. But it was just a magic bit of dancing time.

Which acts are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

My sister’s band, The Jolenes. I love them. All-female bluegrass high energy dancing. I don’t care who else I see. Genuinely. I don’t like making a plan. I just let what happens, happen. I’ll end up watching a lot of the poets, because the line up is ace and it’s where I live in the day.

Quick fire Camping questions…

 Airbed or roll-out mat?

Airbed all the way. I’m not a HEATHEN.

Cider or lager?

Lager. I might be from Bristol but cider makes my stomach hurt.

Do you put your towel over the dome of your tent to dry?

Um. Probably. If I’ve bothered to wash enough for my towel to get wet.

Do you bother with Guy ropes?

Of course! There’s no point having a tent if people aren’t going to fall over it in the night.

What colour wellies can we expect from you?

Whatever’s cheapest…? Or my massive army boots.

If you were forced to ditch one of these two, which would you lose – loo roll or torch?

Oh god. Why are you messing with my head?

 Trapped in a tent with – Michael Eavis or Michael Palin?

TRAPPED IN A TENT! Why am I trapped in a tent? I’m going to be way more worried about how to get out than who else is in there. I’ll pick whichever of them has a pocket knife we can use to cut a new door. Or the sharpest teeth for gnawing.

And finally some quick but VERY IMPORTANT questions…

Do you have a favourite poetry blogger?

This is a blatant bid for flattery but I’ll let you get away with it because none of the other ones have drawn me an owl.

Objectively, who do you think the best illustrator of authors as owls is?

Haha! I hadn’t read this question when I anwered the one above. I can’t do it, Scott. It makes me feel grubby. Even if I do have one of your prints framed and hung up in my house.

Which poet are you going to give a signed copy of your poetry book ‘Gingering the World from the Inside’ to, upon your immediate arrival at Glastonbury?

Oh, oh, I know this. Is it Hegley? I’m pretty sure it’s Hegley. *emoticon of a face blowing a raspberry*

(I’ve owed Scott a copy of my book for a shamefully long time in exchange for one of his that he actually remembered to post.)

 

The extremely talented Anna Freeman will be performing her showcase spot in the Poetry&Words tent on Sunday 28th at 2pm. DO NOT MISS IT!!! Find out more about Anna here: http: www.annafreemanwriter.com

Still more to come!

Scott 🙂

 

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The FULL Glastonbury Poetry&Words 2015 Line up

Behold, the dates and times of all the stars of this year’s Poetry&Words tent at Glastonbury. Thanks to P&W’s very own behind-the-scenes veteran Jack Bird for designing this year’s poster. Is very pretty 🙂

PW Poster Final

The first of our special interviews will be going up soon. Keep watching.

Scott 🙂

5 more Wunderwordsmiths

I’m not done dishing out the quality, because this is Glastonbury Poetry and the Big G doesn’t do mediocre.

Anna Freeman

Anna Freeman

Allow me to gush unbidden about this woman. I love her dearly. I met Anna at Glasto in 2011 and instantly wanted to be her best friend. A joyful presence on stage – genuinely funny, sincere, utterly likeable, warm, passionate, giving, yet simultaneously someone you would never want to f*** with. On top of being a top performer and poet, she’s also a best-selling critically-acclaimed novelist. She’d be unbearable if she wasn’t so frickin’ affable. Anna will be doing her first Sunday Showcase spot at Glastonbury, and she’s also agreed to give me an interview on the condition that I draw her as an owl. More about that soon 🙂

Anna Freeman is a novelist, a multiple poetry slam champion, a creative writing lecturer at Bath Spa University and a producer for Bristol Old Vic. Anna has performed her mostly funny, slightly twisted poetry all over the place, including events in Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Vancouver and Seattle. Her first poetry collection, Gingering the World from the Inside, is published by Burning Eye Books.  Her first novel, The Fair Fight, is a pulsating historical adventure set within the world of female prize-fighters and their patrons in 18th century Bristol. The Fair Fight won The Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize 2013, is published by W&N in the UK and by Riverhead in the USA, and has been optioned for TV drama by the BBC.  Her spoken-word-poetry-music show, Animal, with Chris Redmond and the Tongue Fu band, begins a UK tour in autumn 2015.

More info at www.annafreemanwriter.com

Cracking… packs a punch’ – Sunday Express
‘A hearty recommendation for Anna Freeman’ – Guardian Books
‘Wonderfully imagined… a brilliant debut’ – The Times

 

Jess Green and the Mischief Thieves

Jess Green and The Mischief Thieves

Looking forward to this very much indeed. I met Jess last year at Glastonbury just after her Michael Gove poem had gone spectacularly viral. She’s a fantastic encapsulator of the zeitgeist and can’t wait to see what her mischief thieves bring to the party.

Jess Green and the Mischief Thieves are a Midlands-based three piece music and spoken word band telling stories of every day underdogs to the soundtrack of blues, folk, jazz and hip hop. Supported by musicians, Dave Morris and Scott Cadenhead, Jess Green tells the stories of the people who are often unacknowledged in society with themes of politics, education and inequality.  Their full length show, Burning Books was a big success at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 and described as “grippingly inventive and at times immensely touching” by Broadway Baby. After the success of Jess Green’s poem Dear Mr Gove,  the band have been performing at NUT conferences and education rallies up and down the country and are about to take Burning Books on a nationwide tour.

 

MC Gramski

MC Gramski

I hear great things about this guy. A rapper, freestyler and writer of impressive magnitude who’s held his own amongst real greats.

Gramski is an MC from Brighton who’s been freestyle rapping since he was fourteen. At the age of nineteen he went to live in Vietnam where he performed regularly with DJs as well as international artists such as Killa Kela and Goldie. He also had the pleasure of explaining what ‘freestyle rapping’ is to one of the members of the Vietnamese ministry of culture. He not only rapped on stage but in his classroom as an English teacher in Hanoi where he regularly helped students with their pronunciation and grammar through hip hop.

Once he returned to the UK he won freestyle competitions and also began performing at poetry nights with written material. Gramski’s poem ‘British Girls in Bangkok’ received a tremendous response and landed him alongside Scroobius Pip and Hollie McNish at the Brighton Fringe Festival 2014. Gramski is also an MC for The Spoken Herd, a 10 piece hip hop band who focus on the art of improvisation.

Although Gramski has a plethora of written material he is a freestyle rapper at heart. Audiences often give him challenging subjects or just plain absurd ridiculousness to rap about. A freestyler and poet of lanky proportions, Gramski is not to be missed.

 

Rosy Carrick

Rosy Carrick - copyright George Dallimore

Another poet I’ve been hearing a lot about (particularly for being fantastically rude!). Rosy is one half of our compering team this year.

Fantastically scathing and full to the brim with wild and disgusting imagination, Rosy Carrick is an eccentric wit-tastic queen of poetry and MC skillzzz. Unfazed by the fame and fortune afforded her since playing the life-changing role of “child by lake” in Patrick Swayze’s 1987 classic film Dirty Dancing, Rosy now lives in Brighton, where she runs and hosts Hammer & Tongue, one of the UK’s largest spoken word & slam events, amongst many other projects including the cult movie-themed cabaret club night Trailer Trash!, and Brighton’s infamous annual Poets vs. MCs. Co-host of the poetry stage at Latitude festival since 2011, she also performs her own poetry at events and festivals around the country, leaving a trail of bewildered lovestruck fools in her wake.

Rosy is admired worldwide for her inspirational menstrual blood beauty tips videos, and is also currently writing a PhD thesis on the Russian revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky at Sussex University. This year she has edited and contributed to a new Selected Works of Mayakovsky’s poetry, due for publication by Enitharmon Press in November.

“Clever, funny, quarrelsome, querulous, astonishing!” – Sabotage Reviews

 

Dreadlockalien

dreadlockalien

A legend. A compere extraordinaire. Dreadlock can hold and ignite any audience, anywhere. A truly gifted poet, entertainer and a damn good bloke with a very cool hat. Mr. Alien is the other half of the compering team this year.

Birmingham Poet Laureate 2005, Dreadlockalien wanders the world saying poems to people, living a project called Poet Without Residence.  He co-hosts Glastonbury’s Poetry&Words stage and Shambala’s Wandering Word. Dreadlockalien is a trustee of the Green Gathering Charity, fighting for our planet.  Has poems, will travel.

More poets coming thick and fast real soon…

Scott 🙂