We were invited to join Tongue Fu at The Ancient Futures stage in the Tipi Field tonight. Fronted and formed into gloriously chaotic improvisational poetry goodness by Chris Redmond, a band makes magic out of already magnificent poetry. It’s never sounded like this, and it will never be the same again.First up of our poets: Paula Varjack, with typically cabaret-vibe élan, two pieces about the dangers of dating artists, and the perilous duality of bisexual, femme identity.Next up: our illustrator Scott Tyrrell with a cautionary tale about intimacy in the context of family life (the piece that, incidentally, got him into the final round of the BBC EdFringe Slam final (which he the won, obviously). Brace yourselves.Then, after an anecdote-song by the host about cannibalistic children (don’t ask), I got up to do my bilingual poem Stroke, but I have no evidence, so you’ll have to take my word for it.Next up the pugilistic compassion of our Poet-in-Residence Vanessa Kisuule, giving us her Malleable Manifesto – a way to live, or not, recognising your own divinity.The band expands, shimmying from Vanessa’s instruction to emulate James Brown looking out of the window into an extended riff as as a trumpet joins the line-up, beckoning our current slam champion Jackie Juno to the stage with a poem about how the universe birthed the world with a word – fitting the particular décor of the yurt and elevating it into magic.Chris then summons long-time co-creative-conspirator Liv Torc to deliver that extraordinary piece about three generations and the impact of truth and hope (as if accompanied by the band on the Titanic).Chris exhorts the crowd to our feet so we can join in the chorus to his song about us all rowing the same boat, along a similar theme of environmental responsibility, dedicated to Liv, then keeping us there for one more song, decrying the spying capabilities of social media (we all chant “Who’s telling me what?!”). A banging evening, a chance to get to know – and watch live finally – some of the other poets, and a great warm-up for the rest of the weekend!
We’re now on site. And in less than an hour The Antipoet will take the stage and Glastonbury Poetry&Words 2015 will have begun. And there’s a hell of a lineup today…
So grab your tea/coffee/fruit smoothie and your bacon sarnie/full english/tofu compote and head into the Big Grey Tent with ‘Poetry&Words’ written on it for some world class Spoken Word.
And on a different note…
One of the Glastonbury cows drawn for the blog was featured in the Glastonbury Press. Go us! The Press is printed on a massive still-working Heidelberg Press. This may not sound interesting to anyone else, but it’s Graphic Design porn to me. Anyway, here’s Lemmy the cow from Motorherd (pun courtesy of Dan Simpson)
So Poets Ready? Sound on? Lets play ball…
Want to perform?
Come into the tent to put your name down for the open mic (Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) or the poetry slam (Sunday 28th at 5pm)
As the sunrise of Glastonbury week breaks, we the poets, the troubadours of the 21st century raise a wordspun glass to those sentient beings whose home we are borrowing for the week. Those bovine refugees whose transient presence paint this green and pleasant land with bold splashes of black and white now pootle off to their respective B&B’s in Bournemouth (we think). Ladies and gentlemen, a toast to the cows of Worthy Farm…
I raise my sadly super market bought
Pint of semi skimmed to you
The true headliners of Glastonbury
You take centre stage
All other days of the year
And then one fateful week in June
You let us ticking glitter bombs
Piss our hedonism into your soil
We are sorry in advance
We almost definitely
Won’t leave it as we found it
It will take you some time
To strip away the shrapnel
Of our four day decadent dance
But we shall leave echoes
Of the choruses we sang along to
The festival friendships formed
Fast as a sailors knot
Then faded to phantom grey
We will bend down on our knees
And baptise ourselves in the mud
You will christen us crazy
In your field of dreams and whimsy
And on Monday as we trundle back
To the gunmetal of day to day
We will turn our heads back
To the post-apocalypse scene
And nod sagely
In silent respect to you
The cows of Glastonbury
Howard lived in cow woods,
living how a cow would live,
chewing grass and making pats
were the main things Howard did.
They said Howard was a coward,
feeling how a coward feels,
fear would overtake excitement
looking at the outward fields.
It wasn’t easy living in the woods,
there wasn’t that much space,
but it was all he’d ever known
and that made him feel safe.
He’d heard about
this herd and how
they roamed completely free,
he hoped if he was brave enough
one day that’s where he’d be.
how would Howard leave
as a cow so cowardly?
He scoured cow wood’s trees
and caught a glimpse of the outside.
an hour now or three
he’d been about to bow and see,
but he’d allowed the doubts to breathe
and now he wants to run and hide.
But then one foot at a time
to set his fears aside,
and then he steps outside
his hiding place.
No longer sheltered by the trees
he feels a breeze,
he cannot breathe,
suddenly weak at the knees
his cagey heart begins to race.
So he retreated to the woods
where he knew that it was safe,
and told himself another day
he’d try again.
A Poem for the Cows
Cows do not like poetry.
This fact is sad but true.
They do like painting and ballet
and even music too.
But try to get a cow to read
one line of a haiku?
They’ll roll their great big dopey eyes
and run away from you.
Cows cringe at bawdy limericks.
They scoff at tawdry verse.
And rhyming ballads, for a cow,
those simply are the worst.
That’s why the cows are happy now
to be away from here.
These pesky poets in one place
is what the bovines fear.
So while we poets stamp and jeer
and slam and speak and riot.
The cows all slumber dreamlessly
and wait for peace and quiet.
In six months I move to the city
I keep a tube map in an app and in my pocket
But lately I don’t always have to look at it to get to where I want to go
In a year or so, will I recognise London street names
The way I used to know the horse and two donkeys at the end of our road,
Or the cows I could see from my window
The half-conscious rhythm of that field
That I’d look out on, ploughed, then left fallow,
Then – always of a sudden –
Filled right up with cows
As if they’d been there from the get-go.
Air bnb: customer reviews.
Host: Worthy farm cows
Guest: Brenda, Cross Gates.
We had a great stay on worthy farm
Full of worthy charm.
We must have picked a popular week!
It was sort of like playing hide and seek
With everyone you’ve ever met.
The garden was extensive,
Local restaurants seemed expensive
Given chairs were sparse,
For most of the time we sat on our… bottoms.
The bathrooms had a minimalist vibe
(i.e. pretty much just a hole inside)
But we found this liberating,
But be prepared for a little waiting
And hanging around.
And we also suggest that you don’t look down.
The decor was bang on trend:
Like the apocalypse meets the West End,
Like a collage from your favourite friend,
A hipster version of make do and mend.
The neighbour’s music was pretty loud,
And seemed to pull a hefty crowd!
We didn’t realise this was allowed
Until we saw a copper in kaftan
Telling people to “have a laugh man”.
So we embraced the eccentricity
And got hooked on spicy tea.
So thank you cows for an enjoyable stay!
We hope to maybe meet one day
And say thanks for all the fun and larks,
It was a lovely alternative to our usual Centre Parcs.
Glastondairy Moosic Festival
The cows are going away for a week
they’re having their very own festival
a massive affair, but chic and boutique
it’s going to be unforgettable.
The bands are all booked, the tickets all sold
Daisy canters her way to the main gate
hoof-band put on, she’s brought into the fold
so excited she really just can’t wait.
Crowds of cows arrive and brave the bull run
the sound of a thousand hooves stamping
they go to pitch tents in space where there’s none
jealous of those cows who are glamping.
Don’t have a cow, Daisy – there’s room for you
in these fields where no humans will come
relax and chill out, just don’t give a moo
try to enjoy this long weekend of sun.
At least, they hope – are they grey clouds up there?
they don’t want ’97 again
but cows always know – a change in the air
they start to lie down as it starts to rain.
Daisy forgot wellies – waterproofs too
just stays there, watching, chewing the cud
till she needs to go to the portaloo –
how now brown cow? Daisy’s stuck in the mud.
Daisy loses her friends – all of her herd
starts to wander, lonely as a cow
enters a tent called ‘Poetry & Words’:
thinks: “not for me – that’s far too high-brow.”
Daisy’s exhausted, she sits for a while
listens to acts who perform poetry
and gradually her frown becomes a smile
she forgets all her worries totally.
So on Worthy Farm, the cows are all gone
off and away to explore pastures new
we raise our voices to those who belong
to this land that we’re just passing through.
As you enjoy your time at Glastonbury
look down, remember, these fields that we roam:
our ownership is just temporary
we’re only here until the cows come home.
And now, some of Dan’s Cow-based Band puns…
…Ok so that was a terrible pun. Meet one half of this year’s Poetry&Words compering duo. Along with the inimitable Dreadlockalien, she’ll be bigging up poets, baying for whoops and hollers and bringing audiences to the boil. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the bold, brazen, brilliant Brighton-based MC, Rosy Carrick…
You have a reputation for being hard-hitting, underpinned with a playfulness and a penchant for the rude. You host Hammer & Tongue Brighton and cult movie-themed club extravaganza, ‘Trailer Trash!’, not to mention hosting at Latitude. The job of co-compering the Glastonbury Poetry stage seems perfect for you. Looking forward to it?
Yes! It’s a great stage to compere, a great team of people involved and, of course, an awesome festival, I can’t wait!
Compering is easily the hardest and most thankless job amongst all us poets at the festival. (It would scare the sh*t out of me). Do you prefer MCing, or given the choice would you do longer sets?
Actually I’m looking forward to compering the Glastonbury stage much more than I would be if I were performing a regular set. There’s so much going on at that festival all the time, so audiences are transient and sometimes impatient for something immediately grabbing, and my poetry doesn’t really work that way — I’ve performed at Glastonbury a couple of times in the past, but I always find myself avoiding the poems I like best in favour of dependable audience faves… WHEREAS I am a grade A expert at ordering people around and getting them to shut the hell up/be noisy/dance for my amusement etc… so this is really the perfect context for me to be there in! I do a lot of compering in all manner of places, and I really love it!
The P&W tent can be veritable hive of hippies, festy lovers and the literary batty, but on the occasions when the tent is a tad sparse, do have anything up your sleeve for pulling in the punters?
The poet Derrick Brown did a cool thing there a few years ago when things were sparse – he plugged his iPod into the speakers, played some BANGING TUNES for about 20 seconds and then got what audience there was to scream, yell, applaud and whatnot as loud as they could for as long as they could. It worked a treat! Lure them in with false enthusiam, and then retain them with death threats (or the magnetic power of poetry. I guess it’ll depend on who’s onstage at the time).
To digress ever so slightly, please tell us about your menstrual blood beauty tips videos. What was the idea behind those?
Aha. Well I have a 13 year-old daughter and last year she and her buddies went through this phase of watching online beauty tips videos, and they were all EXACTLY the same — super American, super ridiculous and super demoralising. And I was like: oh my god, what’s happening to my child?! What will this do to her?! Why is she watching this?! How can these even exist in all earnestness in the real world?! I needed to to take the power out of them pronto, and what better way to (literally) illustrate my point than with period blood. Given that half the population of the whole world bleed out of their vaginas for a quarter of their adult lives, I find the perpetual widespread disgust for menstruation completely bewildering.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love being on the blob, but it’s powerful, and the way that women are made to feel ashamed and embarrassed about it is significant in the wider context of gender inequality. So: unnecessary beauty instructions which play into mainstream cultural female degradation + reviled yet inescapable bodily female experience = blood on your lips, blood in your hair, blood everywhere! (And bee tea double-ewe Olive thought they were funny too — and she no longer watches beauty tips videos!) Maybe I’ll do a bloody make-over stall at the poetry stage actually, it could be very lucrative.
What or who are you most looking forward to seeing at Glastonbury?
Eek. I can’t wait to see ex-Pussy Rioters Masha and Nadya talking about their political work. I spend nearly every day writing about early Soviet Russian politics for my PhD, and there are some very interesting parallels going on at the moment. OH NO! I’ve just realised I’ll be compering the poetry whilst they’re on! That’s it, I quit! I was also really looking forward to seeing the Foo Fighters, but now of course leg-gate has scuppered that. So I guess I’m just going to be sitting in my tent crying all weekend. And dancing to DJ Dad’s awesome Djing at the night-time. There’s no one I’m super duper excited about this year to be honest, although I’m well looking forward to seeing Patti Smith. Who else is performing? I haven’t had a proper look yet. I can’t believe about the Pussy Riot thing, thanks for bringing it up, man!
And now a test for you, Rosy. I give you……
‘The Hypothetical Heckler’ – as a seasoned MC, tell us what you’d do in the following hypothetical situations…
A man tries to stage dive inappropriately during a tender poem by Charlotte Higgins.
Get him offstage, wait till the poem is over and, if he’s still there, invite Charlotte and the whole audience to dive on him in return as a fun interlude. Then tie him up so he can’t do it again.
A streaker does a lap round the tent.
I’m cool with that, as long as it’s just the one lap.
Somebody shouts “Poems are supposed to rhyme”
“You were supposed to be the contents of a condom, but sometimes we all have to accept that not everything happens as we’d hope.”
A couple refuse to join in on one of John Hegley’s songs.
Totally fine with that. One of my biggest fears is being forced into audience participation (pantomimes make me cry, it’s a terrible phobia!) Having said that, John Hegley’s songs instill such pure joy into my heart that I always join in with full vigour, so if I do see people not joining in I will probably just think quietly to myself that although I am fine with it, they are probably dead inside.
A member of the audience tries to get up on stage and grab the mic, claiming their poem about their recently deceased gerbil is better than anything they’ve heard so far from the professionals.
If they were clearly wasted/ a trouble-making dickwad, I’d take them out of the tent and make sure there were some crew members around to stop them from returning. If not… I would say something like: “To be honest, I suspect you are merely blinded by your own grief, but nevertheless I would love to hear your memorial poem…. but only AT THE OPEN SLAM on Sunday (which you can sign up for in the P&W tent any time over the weekend), at which time *I* shall be the judge of this alleged greatness… but in the meantime please bugger off because you’re f***ing up the programme, and your big-headedness might sully people’s impressions of your potentially fine poetry, not to mention the memory of poor innocent Mr. Dead.”
Kanye West gets up when the slam champion has been announced, grabs the trophy and insists it should go to Beyonce.
I like the idea that I would say something about how, unfortch, for me his misogynistic lyrics preclude his opinions about how much Beyonce should win the trophy in this case (particularly if she hadn’t entered the slam!)… but to be honest I would probably be like: OH-MY-GOD-I-CAN’T-BELIEVE-IT—SURE-BEYONCE-CAN-HAVE-IT-BUT-CAN-SHE-COME-TO-THE-STAGE-TO-PICK-IT-UP-SO-I-CAN-MEET-HER-AND-WILL-SHE-BE-MY-FRIEND-WILL-SHE-REALLY-THOUGH???, before chucking the real winner a packet of polos as a replacement prize and sailing off into the sunset in the glorious ship of Beyonce’s massive and beautiful-smelling hair.
Wonderful. Along with Dreadlockalien, Rosy will be whip-cracking the programme on all weekend from Friday 26th.
If you wish to sign up for the Open Mic (Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) or the Poetry Slam (Sunday 28th at 5pm), come to the Poetry&Words tent in Bella’s Field and ask either Rosy or Dreadlockalien to put your name down. Dreadlock will be the guy with the big hat and the dreadlocks (weirdly enough).
Only 6 days to go till the gates open!!!
Vanessa is naturally gifted poet and performer, and along with Anna Freeman managed to twist my arm into drawing her as an owl in exchange for an interview (these Bristolians can be quite pushy 😉 ). I asked the hugely talented Vanessa Kisuule about what started her on her literary road, her experience performing for the BBC and the spectacle of Glastonbury…
What or who first made you want to write poetry?
My cousin introduced to me it, actually – I’d enjoyed the page stuff for a while but didn’t know anything about spoken word. He talked about how much he loved it and I wasn’t particularly convinced. I thought it sounded pretentious – but he showed me a Def Jam poetry video and it blew the top of my skull off. I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen and I was enthralled by it for months. Ironically, that contrived American slam style of poetry really grinds my gears now. My taste has changed a lot since I first started out and I now prefer less didactic poetry. But I will always be grateful for that initial spark of inspiration that those videos lit – you can never underestimate how incendiary a thing it is for someone to be stood up on stage telling their story in their own voice. So simple and yet so beautiful.
What was the first thing you wrote which made you feel like a poet?
I wrote a poem called ‘Strawberry Laces’ when I was fourteen about asking for the number of a guy that worked behind the counter at a record shop and getting rejected. In hindsight, that makes sense because I was fourteen and he was at least in his early twenties and him saying yes would have been many shades of gross. But anyway, it was the first time that an experience compelled me to write my feelings down in poetry form. I don’t even know if that made me feel like a poet then, or even if I feel like a poet now. Pah. What a wonderfully meandering and pointless answer to the question….
You were recently chosen along with Megan Beech (another of our Glastonbury poets this year) to be one of five poets performing for the BBC’s ‘Women Who Spit’ series of short films. Your poem ‘Take Up Space’ is a powerful call to arms for women to take their share of society without fear or apology. Tell us about the impetus behind the films and how you became involved. Did you write the piece specifically for the project?
The BBC contacted me having seen my stuff on YouTube and were interested in getting me involved with a project involving a group of young female spoken word artists writing poems around feminism. What’s really great is that that manifested in very different ways for each poet – whilst it’s great that women are now getting more platforms to talk about feminism, I think we can end up shoehorned into a limited space in which we are deemed unequipped to talk about anything else which is almost as bad as being completely silenced. So there’s a variety of topics addressed by all five of the commissioned poets – I wanted to write something positive and affirmative around the topic of feminism as it can be quite wearying constantly reminding ourselves of the oppression that we live with daily. It was important to me that the piece celebrated rather than lamented the experience of being a woman. It’s a love letter of sorts to the many, many women I know and love who are so brilliant, intelligent and uninhibited – being surrounded by them as an example means I have never felt like I had any limits on who or what I should be as a woman.
You seem really comfortable in front of the camera. Do you have any theatre training or are you just a naturally relaxed performer? Would you pursue other film projects?
This is hilarious, because I chronically hate being in front of the camera and there aren’t many other contexts in which I feel less comfortable. I actually had to drink a bit of wine to loosen up enough to get through shooting the BBC video – I’m glad that my nerves didn’t come across in the finished product! I am super comfortable being on stage – that, to me, is like being in my living room. I feel at home with the audience and in my body and it’s just lovely. But there’s something about the artifice of performing for this dead, unblinking camera lens that just makes me go cold. I did do theatre stuff when I was in school, but again I loved the stage and didn’t really do anything film related. I do respect and enjoy film and the power of visuals, just as long as it doesn’t involve me in front of the camera! I worked with an incredible production company last year on a few videos, one had a cast of actors and another was a gorgeous sand animation. I think there’s so much to explore as far as the medium of spoken word video is concerned so I’m looking to do more creative things than just say my poem into my webcam (which is absolutely fine and valid but just not for me!).
Any current or future projects you can share with us?
I’m actually just taking a bit of a breather from what’s been quite a mental few months. I only made the plunge into full time poet-ing a few months ago and I’ve been lucky beyond belief in just about staying afloat. So right now I’m writing new stuff, reading a lot and hatching a plan of where I want to go next. I’m keen to do some weird and uncomfortable things and push myself away from the template of what I’ve been doing over the past few years as a writer and performer. It’s the only way to grow and evolve – so hopefully by next year I’ll be doing things I can’t even conceive of now!
This will be your second Glastonbury performing for Poetry&Words. What are your memories of the first time?
I didn’t actually enjoy Glastonbury very much my first time round, if I’m honest. It was my first ever festival and I think I’d created far too high expectations in my head. I hadn’t even slept in a tent before then so the vastness of it all was too much for me to take in. There are lots of things I know about festival-ing now that I didn’t then. I pitched my tent in some random area away from the other poets so I was really isolated. I’d bought a cheap one man tent that I couldn’t even sit up in – it was like a polythene coffin. I also put way too much emphasis on seeing everything and I now know that the most fun happens when you chuck the programme over your shoulder and go with the flow. I did have two wonderful moments though: 1) Beyonce and 2) raving in a cage in Shangri La with Adam Kammerling at silly o clock on the last night. I have done many more festival perfomances now so I consider myself ‘seasoned’, so my experience will hopefully be ten thousand times better – and I will be pitching my THREE MAN tent backstage with all the other lovely Poetry and Words crew and I am certain I’ll have a whale of a time!
Who in the Poetry&Words tent (other than your good self) would you recommend this year as unmissable?
Harry Baker is a dear friend and absolutely blinding poet whose pun credentials remain unrivalled. I’ve not seen Antosh Wodjck live yet but I’ve seen his pieces on YouTube and his writing makes me want to eat my own fist with envy. Anna Freeman consistently brings the funnies and Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson are a dynamite hosting duo. It’s gonna be fab!
Which acts on the bigger stages are you most looking forward to seeing at Glastonbury?
I cannot WAIT to see Kanye. No matter what, it’s going to be a talking point! Will hopefully be checking out Mary J Blige, Pharrell Williams, Lianne La Havas, Florence and The Machine, Patti Smith, Funkadelic and The Family Stone and Flying Lotus. But like I said, I’m going to try and go with the flow, so if I see even three of these I’ll be happy. It’s all about the random gems anyway – the little performances on tiny stages that you stumble across on your way to somewhere else…..
Will you be bringing your book ‘Joyriding the Storm’ with you? I’ll swap you for one of mine. Mine’s got pictures in it and everything.
I will bring a fat stack of my books to sell – and one has got your name on it Tyrrell! (YES to the pictures)
Finally, can I put in a request for ‘A Personal Malleable Manifesto’ when you play the P&W tent?
You most certainly can :). I almost always end my sets with it so you’re in luck.
Wicked! Looking forward to that. You can catch Vanessa Kisuule in the Poetry&Words tent on:
Friday 26th at 1.40pm and Saturday 27th at 12.25pm
It’s getting so close now, but still more to come!
She kept her nerve, she fought off stunning competition, she broke through the judges’ (I was one of them) icy forensic gaze and even held in a wee to become 2014’s Slam champ, joining the ranks of hugley respected poets like Toby Thompson, Hollie McNish and Luke Wright. I asked the thoroughly charming “but not so confident you want to punch her” Erin Bolens about her win, her work and her tips for this year’s slammers.
First off, an extremely belated congratulations for winning last year’s slam. You did brilliantly (obviously) and looked so relaxed despite the intensity of the setting. Can you tell us about the experience?
Thank you! I remember being really nervous actually and dithering a lot about when to run to the loo.
It was all very surreal. Dolly Parton was playing in the background, my friends were sat covered in mud and eating ice cream. It was one of those experiences that even as a dream would seem bizarre. I very nearly didn’t enter – mostly I just the wanted the experience of performing a few poems. When you’re starting out you rarely get more than two minutes anywhere so it’s really hard to get that experience. That’s what drew me in. It’s something the festival and Poetry & Words should be so proud of. It opened a lot of doors for me and made me feel able to pursue it with more vigour.
Where sits your fabulous trophy now?
Until recently I was living in very mouldy quarters so I protected it fiercely and locked it away. It survived and is now on my bookcase. I couldn’t believe the level of care and detail that had gone in to it – it’s so spectacular!
As a consequence of you winning you are faced with your first official Glastonbury Poetry&Words booking. A full twenty minute spot to engage with a crowd who have thousands of other performers outside the tent clamouring for their attention. Looking forward to it? 😉
So much! I hadn’t really thought about all that. I guess I naturally assume that I will be performing to my mum and a couple of twitching sleeping bags, but maybe I’ll be lucky and it’ll rain (sorry!) and there will be loads of people just grateful not to be drenched.
I’m also doing a set in the Greenpeace field at 00.50 on Wednesday night – I’m not sure that’s the most natural time for poetry and also not a time I often see so I think that one will be interesting too!
Will you come prepared with an unshakable set in mind, or do you plan to wing it when you arrive? (I have no problem with either approach).
Last year I got a bit confused. I didn’t really know the rules of a slam as I had never done anything like it. For some reason I was convinced that you had to write pieces specifically for the competition. I didn’t manage three on the spot as I didn’t think I’d get that far but I wrote my first, about the festival, a day or two before. I realise you don’t have to do that now – I’ll be a little bit more rehearsed!
You have a very relaxed, punchy and distinctly Northern style (I can say that, I’m a Geordie) in your gentle mockery of pretence and celebrating the absurd. Does your observation tend to always lean to the comic, or would you consider doing a hyper-serious 24 stanza epic about the futility of existence?
Really? I’ll take that. Um, it probably does at the moment but it’s not an intentional style. I think it’s different for everyone. I feel that you need a massive amount of confidence in your own views and opinions to write very hard hitting stuff; I find that difficult to muster and feel it has to be earned a bit by age and experience. However, I’ve heard other poets speak similarly about writing comically so I guess it’s just horses for courses.
As I gain experience I’m beginning to become more comfortable writing more personally. For me that comes with getting more airtime – I was getting into a habit of doing two minute slots and performing the same couple of poems. I don’t like becoming bored of pieces because I’m wheeling them out too often! It’s great to be trying out more new poems at the moment.
As for being Northern – that has definitely intensified since I moved to London. Its probably something very deep about identity.
The futility of existence? I’d be up for that – perhaps it could be a group piece we all write over the course of the festival?
You recently came runner-up in the prestigious Roundhouse Slam. Tell us about that.
It was amazing! I think 700 people were watching 12 young poets – that’s incredible. I was really naive about it; I had no idea how popular it is or how big the Roundhouse main space is – from above it looked like this huge sacrificial pit. I started to think maybe one of us would get burned at the mic. It was a real celebration of words; the standard was very high and the styles very different so I was so chuffed to come second.
Quickfire camping questions
Airbed or Roll-out mat?
I upgraded to an airbed a couple of years ago. Do it.
Lager or cider?
Gin til I die.
PieMinster or Goan Fish Curries?
As much as I love a pun based meal I don’t think I’ve had either – I tend to take advantage of all amazing vegetarian feasts. I also spend about a month’s wages on chai. At least.
Wellies or docs?
Trapped in a tent with – Lionel Ritchie or Roger Daltry?
Probably have to be Roger. I don’t think I’d have a lot to say to Lionel after establishing it wasn’t him I was looking for. That in itself would probably take longer than it should.
Finally, what advice would you give potential Glastonbury Slammers this year?
Do it! It’s such a great atmosphere. I’m often a little put off by the competitive element of slams but as long as you remember that it’s all subjective and there’s a big dash of luck in the first rounds particularly, then it’s really good fun. I really can’t wait to watch.
P.S. Really enjoying these posts Scott, cheers!
Shucks, aint she sweet? You can see why Erin Bolens is such a formidable performer in the Poetry&Words tent on Friday 26th at 4.55pm
The 2015 Glastonbury Poetry Slam will take place on Sunday 28th at 5pm at the Poetry&Words tent. If you wish to sign up for either the Poetry Slam or an Open Mic spot (which takes place Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) come as early as possible to the Poetry&Words tent and approach one of the MC’s to put your name down.
More fab folk on the way…
…is an artist hoping the slammer won’t drop it before they get off stage.
Behold, this year’s Glastonbury Poetry Slam trophy and she’s a beauty. This proud, rearing mare awaits she or he who holds their nerve and delivers the most powerful poetry performance at this year’s Poetry Slam.
This wonderful work of unsubtlety was created, as always by the poet and visual artist, Peter Hunter. I asked Pete recently about his involvement with Poetry&Words over the years and his inspiration for this year’s piece.
Peter Hunter – artist & P&W unsung hero
You’ve had a long history of creating the prestigious Glastonbury Slam trophy. How did you get involved in the first place?
I met Helen Johnson (then Gregory) when she started performing at an open mic I was running in Bristol many moons ago. We became friends and were involved in several projects with other poets over the years. When Helen inherited the Poetry&Words stage, she invited me to help out. As part of this I volunteered what skills I had, other than poetry and hosting, in trying to find a revamped identity for Poetry&Words, this included the stage props and backdrop, various sorts of signage, redesigning the Poetry&Words poster each year, the introduction of the mini-programme and of course a glamorous trophy for the slam winners to receive in recognition of their poetic derring-do.
Tell us about your background as a sculptor and visual artist.
I have always had an aptitude for visual arts, it was the thing I most liked doing at school, and I was fortunate enough to study (study being a loose term) Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art back in the days when going to college didn’t leave you with crippling debt afterwards.
After that, for some reason, I became a ceramicist (making things out of clay, rather than sitting at a potter’s wheel making ‘pots’ and being a potter) and had a studio in central Bristol where I didn’t quite scrape enough money together to earn a proper living. I also did a short stint at an animation company making plasticine puppets for TV shows (to this day you can find some of my work on Youtube – I made the mouths for the animated Elton John in the Stars in Their Eyes titles from the 90’s). I had some of my work featured on TV as an April Fools – fossils of fairies found on the banks of the river Severn – and at one point a woman came to my studio claiming to be the aunt of Robert Downey Jnr and bought him some chop-stick holders that I’d made that looked like little reclining people. (‘He’ll just love them!’)
In 2007 I managed to combine both my sculpting and poeting skills for Bristol Poetry Festival by creating a faux contemporary art exhibition at Arnolfini (Bristol’s main contemporary art gallery) which I then critiqued in rhyme. It was a controversial piece that didn’t go down very well with contemporay fine artists but apparently the volunteer staff liked it. Also the Arnolfini had to call me in because one of my ‘exhibits’ was starting to rot and the smell was getting into the air conditioning and begining to stink out the whole building, which I thought was a nice, if unplanned, touch. There’s a (poor quality) vid of the piece here if you’re interested:
This year’s effort is quite special, having departed from your usual convention of a mic with embellishments to the radical creation of a rearing unicorn with a logo on its butt. Can you tell us your inspiration for this?
I try and make something unique and relatively different each year. It’s an opportunity for me to try out ideas within a loose theme. Usually the ideas are a reflection of what I’m generally interested in, or whatever pops into my head when I’m soaking in the bath.
Last year’s 3D pop-up book trophy was because I was wandering around charity shops and there seemed to be a lot of pop-up books and I thought I’d give it a go – it also meant that the trophy was relatively safe to transport when the book was closed.
Previously I’ve got hold of a microphone and, as you say, embellished it – once as a space ship, once as a towering sculpture over a festival site diarama. There is always an element of tongue-in-cheek about the trophy and this year I thought I’d push it a little further by creating this grand rampant golden unicorn with the microphone carried in it’s mouth, as if the unicorn represented the poets’ magical transformation from slam hopeful to slam champion! Or something.
I also like the trophy’s to have some sort of interactive element if possible. The spaceship one was also a bedside light, the book was pop-up and this years unicorn is a pencil sharpener. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Which of the trophies you’ve created do you have the most fondness for?
Obviously the latest one is the best one, but I do have a fondness for the spaceship trophy – I think that was for the 2010 slam – it seemed to tick many fun design boxes for me.
I used the mic for the spaceship body with the rounded head of the mic being the ‘front end’ with the jack-plug attached for a point. Then I added 3 tail-fins like a 1950’s style rocket – the sort you might see on the cover of an old sci-fi comic – but what I was most pleased with, was that I found a ceiling light that was slightly domed, and when it was turned upside down (so the dome faced up) it was curved like the surface of a planet and I stuck the mic-rocket onto that, as if it had landed – and the best thing was,
if you pushed the rocket down, the planet lit up! It was brilliant!
I still have a love for the trophy I won from the Bristol Slam of 2002 which you made (which was kind of a gold brick with an etching of the UK on it) How far back does your slam trophy creation go?
I think you have the first slam trophy I made (nice one for getting your City of Culture Slam win into the interview, Scott)*. That didn’t quite turn out as planned. I had intended it to be all sharp edged and geometic and professional-looking, it even has a real gold-leaf coating. But I left it late and the material I made it out of didn’t set properly, so it’s a bit rough around the edges and the varnish I used took the glister off the gold. I seem to remember you refering to it at the time as ‘a golden brick’. Still, I’m glad it has a homely charm. 😉
*Well, why not? it’s not like I brought up the Ant-Slam ceramic fish I won recently, Or the Great Northern Slam microphone, Or the Apples&Snakes Poetry Boxing belt, Or the Belfast Intercity Slam glass bowl… 😉
What are you working on at the moment?
I don’t have a studio at the moment – haven’t for a few years now – so everyhting I do sculpture-wise is restricted to being small enough to fit on my desk.
I’ve been making some props for the local youth theatre production of His Dark Materials and I amuse myself by gluing stuff together to see what happens (the neighbours cat will never be the same again) I’ve also been working on some small lino-prints and then there’s a bigger project in the pipeline that I can’t say too much about, but it’s working with a local arts group and I’m hoping they’ll allow me to make a full-sized mock-up space cargo transporter. All being well…
What advice would you give the winner of this year’s trophy regarding a) taking care of it b) the best room/setting to display it?
Having won the trophy, the next problem is getting it home in one piece (it’s not that delicate, but it may not withstand being worn as a hat in the dance tent untill 4am) If possible, hire a couple of security guards to stand over it for the Sunday evening and then order a helicopter to airlift it off site and back home.
Once there I’d suggest, if they don’t already have a trophy room, maybe try the traditional pride-of-place on the mantlepiece – somewhere that’s in full view to everyone who comes into the house, so they can marvel at it. Or, for a fee, I can build a wall-mounted, climate controlled, plexi-glass fronted, fully alarmed, trophy cabinet. Get in touch with me via Glastonbury Poetry…
If you wish to be in with a chance to be the owner a beautiful gold unicorn chewing a microphone, the Glastonbury Poetry Slam will take place on Sunday 28th at 5pm at the Poetry&Words tent.
If you wish to sign up for either the Poetry Slam or an Open Mic spot (which takes place Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) come as early as possible to the Poetry&Words tent and approach one of the MC’s to put your name down.
Coming up next…an interview with last year’s Slam winner, Erin Bolens.
I caught up with Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson in London last week at the Anti-Slam Apocalypse to ask them about their partnership, their quirky projects and their plans for the hallowed Glastonbury Slam…
The two of you have becoming quite a formidable creative partnership. How did poets of such wildly different styles end up working together?
Paula: I first met Dan at a gig where he was performing and I was hosting. I won’t give any details about the event other than it was a very strange format and all a bit awkward. At the break Dan and I bonded over how weird a gig it was, and how much we liked what the other was doing. It was then we realised he had performed at the second London Anti-Slam, the only one I had missed. I was excited about his enthusiasm for it and approached him after to co-produce it.
Dan: So then Paula asked me to help organise and co-host one year, and we got on really well on- and off-stage and it went from there. Our working styles and what we like making are quite similar – stuff that’s super fun for audiences to watch and, challenges performers in an interesting way.
One of your best known endeavours as a team has been the Anti-Slam. Whose idea was that, and how did it come about?
Paula: In 2009 I was living in Berlin and very much a part of the Slam scene there, and had links to the English language comedy scene that had begun to develop. I wanted to create an event where all of the performers from these artform and language divisions could participate. I was getting tired of the competition element of poetry slam. Not long after thinking all this, I went on a trip to Chicago & New York (a kind of pilgrimage to the early homes of poetry slam) and saw this performance by Jamie De Wolf at the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe that blew me away:
When I returned to Berlin I was inspired to create an “anti-slam” – a piss-take of a poetry slam, where I would programme those poets and comedians. By challenging everyone to do their worst, no one cared about the competition element. Because it was all so ridiculous, and it kept to the 3 minute time limit, it meant that audiences could enjoy performances despite the language differences.
European friends heard about it, so events ended up happening in Warsaw, Cologne, Turin, Sardenia – and even Sydney. I then went on to co-host it in Berlin with the Godfather of the Berlin slam scene Wolf Hogekamp for four years. Ray Antrobus visited me and helped me bring the first one to London, then Dan came on board! We now have events happening in 8 cities in the UK. It has become a brilliant Valentines event that sells out every year, and we have our Apocalypse – a national Anti-Slam final – and we’re keen to keep adding cities every year. I think one of my favourite things about it is how each city brings its own energy and helps revise the format.
Having had the privilege of participating in the Anti-Slam this year I found it hugely liberating to purposefully write bad poetry, particularly having had to sit through quite a few gigs over the last 15 years that have been strewn liberally with it. Have your other participants felt similarly liberated by the Anti-Slam format?
Dan: we get that response a lot! It’s a nice combination of challenge and liberation for excellent and established performers to engage with their bad side – but to do that entertainingly! As a gig organiser and host, as well as a performer, you do see a lot of genuinely “bad” writing and performers on the circuit – so The Anti-Slam certainly serves to perhaps relieve a bit of tension about that!
Paula: Yeah – I think there is so much that can be cathartic and liberating about it. It allows you to get one back at all the awful pieces and people you have contended with on the open mic and slam circuit. More importantly it enables you to harness the inner critic that respond directly to it. Something about this opens the floodgates of all kinds of shades of creativity. I think its about taking your fears of everything you try to avoid and going into it willingly, rather than being blocked by it.
You’ve been charged with running the revered Glastonbury Poetry Slam this year and the quality is always pretty damn high. Winners in the past have included now-massive poets like Hollie McNish and Luke Wright. Nervous?
Dan: I love hosting regular, non-Anti slams too! It’s an honour to be asked, and always interesting to see who does well at these things. Not too many nerves – hosting is supposed to be the invisible foundations that the slammers can build their 3 minutes of stage time on!
Paula: I think the Slam is one of the nicest things that happen over the weekend. It always draws a nice mix of emerging poets and poets very very new to performance. I think the fact that the winner gets a set next year and a ticket to the festival really adds to the energy of it. It’s such a great way to get new voices on board so I am super excited about hosting it. I have hosted the Poetry and Words stage at Glastonbury before, many Anti-Slams with Dan, and also monthly host at Hammer & Tongue Hackney – so no nerves, I am only looking forward to it.
Tell us about your other projects like the Fail Better Podcast and Poetry Goes Pop!
Paula: In Fail Better we chat to two artists about their most interesting failures – usually something like messing up a gig in an epic way! We also look at fails of the month, and a current pop song that has terrible lyrics. It follows on from The Anti-Slam a bit – we both like the idea of failure and what we can do with it. I think embracing failure, rather than being ashamed of it, is fantastic for creativity. As much as I want my work to be polished, I am constantly reminding myself that I connect to other artists when they show their vulnerability. I also love interviewing people, and am obsessed with artists’ process, so the show is this great excuse to have conversations with artists I love and respect. I like them especially as they come on the show because they are as interested in the theme as Dan and I are and tell the most engaging stories. We get lovely guests on the show every time.
Dan: Poetry Goes Pop! is a spoken word comedy panel show where we mash up pop culture and poetry. We play silly games like Poetry Karaoke – singing a poem to the tune of a popular song and Pop to Poem – turning bad pop lyrics into a serious performance of poetry. Like this!
Both of you have performed before at Glastonbury, independently. Can you share your weirdest moment(s)?
Dan: The giant mechanical spider. Every festival should have a giant mechanical spider.
Paula: Oh this is hard, I’ve had so many! My top 3 in no particular order are
1. Walking in and out of the Miniscule of Sound.
2. Finding the secret room behind the room down the rabbit hole.
3. A live art piece of a group of pregnant woman walking in a hazy daze through the fields. At least I think it was live art…
Finally, what advice would you give to potential Glastonbury slammers this year?
Dan: Don’t be intimidated by the setting – Paula and I will make it really fun and friendly! And don’t worry too much about the competition element – winning is awesome, but the best thing a slam can do is make you simply want to perform your work as well as possible.
Paula: Yeah what Dan said. I think my advice generally to anyone who is performing in any slam, regardless of whether they want to win or not is the same: Be the most you that you can possibly be. Perform with your own unique energy – the piece that is most distinctly the way you write and about what you are interested in. That more than anything is what audiences respond to. You can’t compete with anything else. Also remember scoring poems with numbers is always going to be at least a little bit arbitrary. Personal or Fantastical, Political or Silly, Lyrical or Monologue – just be super you.
The Glastonbury Poetry Slam will take place on Sunday 28th at 5pm at the Poetry&Words tent. If you wish to sign up for either the Poetry Slam or an Open Mic spot (which takes place Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) come as early as possible to the Poetry&Words tent and approach one of the MC’s to put your name down.
More interviews on the way…
And we’ve got doozies…
Murray Lachlan Young
The legendary Million Pound Poet – and an absolute don’t miss.
Poet, screenwriter-writer and broadcaster. Murray Lachlan Young is one of the UK’s most prolific and best-known poetry voices. He came to international notoriety through signing a million pound record deal with EMI records in 1997.
Subsequently he has become known for his numerous appearances and residencies on BBC Radio 2,4 and as resident poet of BBC6music.
Murray has performed commissioned work everywhere from: Shakespeare’s globe theatre to the main stage at Glastonbury to Ronnie Scots to Test match special and even the Cheltenham gold cup.
Over the last five years he has branched out to become a successful screen-writer and broadcaster. Co adapting the new movie version of the Dylan Thomas Classic: Under Milkwood – Directed by Kevin Allen and Starring Rhys Ifans.
He is currently co writing Waterfall – a new Kevin Allen movie set to shoot in the Autumn 2015 and working on an anthology with Unbound books.
Sony Gold winner and resident poet with BBC6 music
Sony Gold winner and resident poet with BBC Saturday live
The Union Club: Soho.
Co writer Film: The waterfall Feature produced Fatti films shooting Autumn 015
Writer The Incomers: Dir Rhys Ifans Fattie Films (Development) 015
Co format and presenter BBC Radio 4 series The Flexigon. 015
New play: Running stag. (Development) Windswept productions 015
Taste: Dance play for C scape dance co 2015
Rehab. Musical Directed by Craig Revel-Horewood. Book: Derren Litten
MLY Grant Black. Libretto G Black and MLY.
Murray Lachlan Young verse Anthology due for release and tour Autumn
2015 Unbound books.
Recent work :
Co Adaptation – Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas for Fatti films. Dir
Kevin Allen. Allen 1st voice Rhys Ifans. release June 015
Film: God’s work. Feature produced Fatti films. Acclaimed BBC Radio 4
series The Alien balladeer (Jan)
Writer and participant Laphroig writers challenge 015
BBC Test match special for the Ashes 2013
Poem for 2013 Magners cider commercial The instigator.
The Incomers. Directed by Paul Jepson. National tour: From April 2013.
BBC radio Scotland. Child of the union. Half hour documentary tx 2014
Murray has written many poems on hugely diverse subject matter.
Mick Jagger recently presented Keith Richards with a CD copy of an MLY
poem to mark the anniversary of Keith Richards falling out of a
Porky the Poet (aka Phill Jupitus)
I had the gargantuantly unfortunate task of following this man at Glastonbury last year. He brought the house down and I’ll never forgive him for that 😉 The tent is highly likely to be packed when he’s on so come early for a good spot.
Porky The Poet emerged as part of the ranting poetry scene in 1983. Inspired by performers like John Cooper-Clarke and Linton Kwesi Johnson, he followed their example and started gigging with bands. It was here he met Billy Bragg, who took him on tour as a support act in 1985. This led to a fruitful period opening for The Housemartins, The Style Council, The Pogues, Gil Scott-Heron and many others. On the poetry scene, Porky became a London circuit regular for Apples & Snakes and Cast New Variety. Around about this time he lost all his poems in Newcastle, decided to quit, changed his name back to Phill Jupitus and did other stuff. In 2007, Phill was cajoled by fellow ranting luminary Tim Wells to start writing again and return to the performance poetry scene. In 2012 at The Edinburgh Fringe he did his first full-length show Twenty Seven Years On, followed that up with Zeitgeist Limbo, Juplicity and this year debuts the all-new Apologist Now as part of the PBH Free Fringe.
“Surprisingly beautiful…” N.M.E.
“Punchy, chippy, funny…” The Guardian
“Hugely entertaining…” The Scotsman
Rachel Rose Reid
Rachel Rose Reid was raised on a hybrid of immigrant tradition, English folk clubs and concrete jungle, and all three of these worlds combine in her mesmerising stories and poetry. She has been Artist in Residence for Dickens Museum, the Saison Poetry Library, the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and has written and performed commissions for Billy Bragg, BBC Radio 3, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
RRR loves collaborations and has created work with a diverse range of artistic partners including the Roundhouse Experimental Choir, Dizraeli & the Small Gods and the London Symphony Orchestra. She has performed her work at the Barbican (UK), Nuyorican Poets Café (USA), the Soho Theatre (UK); ACT Theatre (Australia); Latitude Festival; Camp Bestival; Pleasance, Edinburgh; Words Festival (Denmark), Contos de Liberdade (Portugal); Storytelling Time (Italy), Alden Biesen (Belgium); and the British Council (Malta.) RRR is the founder of the Willesden Green Wassail, a community festival that unites a diverse urban community through the re-appropriation of ancient English tradition.
“Immense skill and breathless conviction. There’s no faulting Reid’s command of her craft”. The Times
“Polished and compelling. A consummate performer…Definitely one to watch”. The Independent
Winston Plowes – Spoke-n-Word Walkabout Show
The legendary walkabout poet. Winston is a Glastonbury treasure.
Based near Hebden Bridge in Calderdale Winston Plowes lives aboard his floating home with his cat ‘Fatty’. In the past year he has collaborated with The Arvon Foundation, the BBC, Glastonbury Festival, UCLAN and Manchester Museum and has recently tutored on courses and workshops for The Square Chapel, The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts and West Yorkshire Playhouse. As Poet in Residence for the Rochdale Canal Festival in 2012 and The Hebden Bridge Arts Festival for the past three years he has being lucky enough to share his community orientated poetry with a wider audience. As Judge for the Found Poetry Review and author of experimental work published in over 50 journals worldwide he gets the chance to play with our precious language and by providing workshops for schools hopes to continue to inspire through mutual creativity for many years to come. The jointly self-published Misery Begins at Home, 2010 and Micro Chap-book Extras, Origami Press, 2014 will soon be followed by his first collection of ghazals First of all I Wrote Your Name, Stairwell Books. Winston is also inventor of the worlds first (and possibly last) Random Poetry Generating Bicycle, the ‘Spoke-n-Word’.
Annabel Other – The Bristol Art Library
Our other Walkabout poet this year.
The Bristol Art Library is a fully functioning public library housed in a wooden cabinet the size of a small suitcase. Annabel Other, the artist, created the library in 1998 and is the Head Librarian. The library’s volumes cover a wide range of subjects, from palaeontology to astronomy, with 250 books (all 5 in x 4 in) made by artists and practitioners from all areas of the arts and sciences.
Membership of Bristol Art Library is free, and once you have joined and received your manilla reader’s ticket you may visit the library and peruse its volumes anywhere in the world. The library now has 9000 members, a gift shop and a friends’ organisation FOTBAL (Friends of The Bristol Art Library).
So that’s our full line up and it is an absolute cracker. Full times and dates of all our performances will be going up soon.
And we’ve still got jewels to flash. Here’s another 5 ways to fuel your festival…
For my birthday 16 years ago I was given a slim volume by a friend titled ‘Can I come down now, Dad?’ by John Hegley. I’d never heard of the author. I was amused and intrigued instantly by the squiggly charming drawing of a slight man with glasses nailed to a cross on the cover. The bounty within the pages met and surpassed my expectations formed by that hastily and wonderfully penned image. Tiny perfect vignettes of absurd human frailty, loss and regret waltzed with comic grace across the pages partnered with a quiet underlying optimism that surged through it like a stick of Luton Rock.
The same friend who bought me that book then took me to a gig of John’s at Newcastle University that same year. I was amazed at a performance that waltzed as sure-footed as the words on the page, but with more pathos, more melancholy and more silliness. It was pure joy and I wanted to write poetry instantly. And I wanted it to be funny and silly and mean something. So that’s what I’ve tried to do ever since, and 16 years later I’m proud to have performed on the same stage as John Hegley several times and he is still the undisputed master and superstar of comic poetry. DO. NOT. MISS. HIM.
Mr Hegley was born in Newington Green, North London, and was educated in Luton, Bristol and Bradford University. His first public performance monies came from busking his songs, initially outside a shoeshop in Hull, in the late Seventies. He performed on the streets of London in the early Eighties, fronting the Popticians, with whom he also recorded two sessions for John Peel, and has since been a frequent performer of his words, sung and spoken, on both local and national radio.
He has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces, two CDs and one mug, but his largest source of income is from stages on his native island. An Edinburgh Festival regular, he is noted for his exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and the misery of human existence. He is an occasional DJ, dancer and workshop leader, using drawing, poetry and gesture. He has been awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts from what is now the University of Bedfordshire, and once performed in a women’s prison in Columbia.
I await to see this young man perform with great anticipation. Watch him perform at TED here. I dare you not to be moved by him.
Harry Baker has just graduated from studying Maths and German at the University of Bristol. In this time there he became the youngest ever World Poetry Slam Champion, has had his work shared on the homepage of TED.com and viewed over a million times online, and accidentally become an international rap battler. This year following two successful 5-star runs he is taking a third show up to the Edinburgh Fringe festival based on his debut Anthology ‘The Sunshine Kid’, published by Burning Eye in December. Having performed all around the globe he is excited to take to the Glastonbury stage for the first time, before taking off on a lifetime of adventures now his studies are finished. Whether it’s Gangsta Maths raps, Dinosaur love poems, or bilingual falafel-based tongue twisters, Harry’s playful way with words and interwoven honest narratives have made him a festival favourite across the country and continent in the past, so let’s hope this year is no different. “Simply put – the greatest performer on Earth.” – Scott Mills Show, Radio 1.
I could listen to this girl all damn day, but alas I’ve only got two 20 minute slots to do that, and so have you, so make sure you catch her. Check her out here.
Charlotte Higgins is a poet, and a postgraduate student at Cambridge University. A previous winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award (2010) and SLAMbassadors UK (2012), she is the Young Poet in Residence at the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.
Charlotte has performed at Latitude Festival, at the Proms, at the Royal Festival Hall, and at the Nuyorican Poetry Café in New York. She competed in the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Final (2014), and was a finalist in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam (2013), as well as winning the Strawberry Slam in Cambridge (2013). Charlotte has recently performed at TEDxCambridge, where she gave a talk and performance about poetry, and at the Women of the World Festival (2015) in the Southbank Centre. Later in 2015, she’s looking forward to supporting Hollie McNish on the Cambridge leg of her UK tour.
Charlotte is an active member of Burn After Reading poetry collective, led by Jacob Sam-La Rose. She runs and hosts Speakeasy, a successful Cambridge poetry night.
A beautiful man with true and beautiful words that cut clean and sharp. See here.
Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, moving to the UK in 1993. He holds a BA in English Literature from The University of Sheffield and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and works as a writer, events producer, and creative writing tutor.
His poems have been published in a range of magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Magma, Wasafiri, The Best British Poetry 2011 and 2013 (Salt Publishing, 2011 and 2013), The Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt Publishing, 2011), Out Of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012), The World Record (Bloodaxe, 2012), and in his first book entitled Some Bright Elegance (Salt Publishing, 2012).
Kayo has also been invited to read from his work at venues and events across the UK and internationally in Mexico, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi. In 2012 he represented Zambia at Poetry Parnassus, a festival of world poets staged by The Southbank Centre as part of the London 2012 Festival. He was recently awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and shortlisted for the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize.
Here to lighten your festival and add liberally to the bonkers of Glastonbury, give it up for Mr. Greenway…
Wil Greenway is a London-based storytelling comedian from Melbourne. He’s a survivor of the Australian festival circuit, a regular at The Bus Driver’s Prayer, an occassional face on Australian TV and a fairly average barista. Since 2010 Wil has been writing and performing critically acclaimed festival shows. He is co-creator of The Lounge Room Confabulators (Winner of The Underbelly Edinburgh Award and The Adelaide Fringe Award), and the lonely idiot behind A Night to Dismember (runners up Best Comedy and Best Comedy Performer at Auckland Fringe) and Vincent Goes Splat (“an absurd and yet utterly human story” – Daniel Kitson). Wil has recently sold out shows in Ediburgh, Melbourne, Oslo and London, and quit his awful coffee job to act in a film in Australia. Currently he’s working on For the Ground that Grew Me, which will premiere at Underbelly for the Edinburgh Fringe this August.
And after all this lot, we’re still not done rolling out the legends. More poets to come, and some very special interviews…