Saturday Part 2

Gecko is ushered onto the stage by Rosy Carrick, technicians, and Portishead. He kicks off with I Can’t Know All The Songs (we chorus – in harmony! – until the end), a perfectly formed intro song, followed by the piece that I probably know best of his: Rapunzel. It’s incredibly catchy, and unashamedly feminist, basically doing what fanfic writers call a fix-it of the original tale. More mythology follows as he turns out a rap/ recitative adapting The Tooth Fairy into modern job parlance. I miss the next song (with singing accompaniment by Maya(?)) as I have lost the will to be in the swelter any longer, so stand in the shade outside the tent, catching as much breeze as will make a difference. We’re all glad that there’s no rain, and mud is minimal, but it’s as stuffy and sticky as the third circle of Hell in the tent. He ends with a sweet tribute to the magic of childhood. We’ve seen so many styles in this short span of time, and this is elegiac, joyful paean which fast-forwards to a bleak-looking old age, leavened by mythical memories. The technician gives him the perfect level of reverb – enough to lift it into legend, without drowning us in soft-focus glurge – and he punctuates the different moods with whole-body movement, gleefully bestriding and then slumping at the microphone. And he takes us with him. Bravo! The crowd agrees!

Desree takes to the stage again in a swelter, her first poem lauded by the audience who look to be unconscious with heat, but absolutely there with her. I am distracted with a bunch of admin (people, hydration, and data charges – yeah, no WiFi, mate), sadly, but I love the fragments of these new poems I hear, tackling body image, race, abuse, and toxic relationships (with others and ourselves). She ends with that anthemic piece about privilege with aplomb. It’s from her teeny chapbook, and she takes cards as well as cash – GET ONE. I’m definitely doing so.

Luke Wright takes to the stage to The Fratellis. It’s a perfect young punk, chanty, ranty, loud and clever intro to a striding length of man with deliberately messy hair and a DIY-style “PUTA MADRE” teeshirt (Google it – I’m not telling you). After a typical rhyming rant about Good Morning Britain and all it means (“Piers Morgan says: ’You can’t say anything these days! You can’t say anything these days! You can’t say anything these days! You can’t say anything these days!’ And yet you seem to, Piers!”) which slides into something deliberately quieter and slower, he confirms the fact slipped into Rosy’s introduction that they kissed earlier. He tells us that there’s a sliver of shade behind the Cabaret tent that’s sheltered him through the toxic, omnipresent heat, gives us quiet ode to his children. A pier-end-style marching band outside underlines the outro, a bigger contrast unimaginable, flourishes of music fanfaring Luke’s disquiet (confusing since he’s been performing here for actual decades – he’s been doing this since his teens). His children feature strongly – the love is glowing, palpable, quiet and beautiful (even when he’s voicing his seven-year-old as an East End villain). The other love (apart from Rosy – Tank Girled and cast as a PVC goddess) that gets immortalised is of Bungay, where he lives, in anecdote form, describing how uncool it is in the way that you complain about your favourite ancient anything (cardigan, uncle, cat, car, movie). As well as being the first person to drop the c-word (to my knowledge) on the Poetry stage this year (Mavericks after dark is another story), he dissects British culture – social anxiety, snobbishness, inferiority complexes and all. Embrace The Wank is in defence of pretentiousness, telling the audience that, were he in charge they’d be locked in, unable to wander – “it’s not about entertainment, it’s about bettering yourselves!” and he shouts himself hoarse with a series of epithets, the one that creases me into a spasm of mirth being something like “Let me bathe in a pool of expert jism!” The final track is a slow, sad ode to knowing Britain by its motorways – the life of a touring poet revisited, appropriately. The massed audience are rapturous.

Erin Fornoff takes to the stage to a track I know but have no idea of the name. She frugs and twirls with extraordinary verve, scarlet fabric flitting to the renewed breeze, tells us that we’re entering the Feelings Zone. Home proves her words. Her esprit d’escalier poem about her horrific mentor (see yesterday’s revelation). Her style is more mobile this time. I’m finding it fascinating who moves more or less today, who’s louder, who’s quieter, who has the same set, and who different. I’m losing focus – I’m not designed for the heat (likewise not from the desert, I am all about dim, wet, windy, cool places – thanks, genetics), but, like Eve before her, I’m enjoying different elements from this near-identical set as I continue to brush spiders from my keyboard and bless the breeze that’s finally caressing us. Erin (who got me an ice cream earlier, carried safely across the length of a baking Bella’s Field and beyond, like the bottomlessly kind soul that she is) spots Lemn Sissay standing at the back, who’s turned up early to hang out (and be mobbed in short order by organisers, technicians, artists, and other fans)

Toby Campion takes to the stage, still summery as hell in dungarees and white teeshirt (what is it with me noticing clothes today?!), giving us, as promised, the same set as last night (and, as promised, The Antipoet are doing their best to drown him out from the other stage across the field), and again – despite having seen it yesterday (and a similar set a couple of other times), I enjoy not only the craft and the words, but the warmth he bestows on the audience, friendly and engaged despite the audience being a fraction of yesterdays, holding them seemingly effortlessly. (And I got another nosebleed during this, which somewhat impeded my typing ability.) His finishing, crescendoing rant about a homophobic attack at Glastonbury 2016 is given a beautiful underlay of building bass to add ominousness to the message he’s giving us.

Headliner Lemn Sissay takes to the stage to glorious music and rapturous applause, comments on the music, throws himself off, and asks if he can come on again as he’s put himself off. It’s oddly comforting to see someone so very experienced, so very lauded, wanting to perfect their entrance, their presence. His first piece, Let Go, is advice to be yourself, despite what people tell you. It is preacherly, a story, a parable, a song of mythological proportions. And, in perfect, unchanging rhythm, a wheelchair user with a vocal tic barks a counterpoint to his words (sometimes echoing a word he uses, but mostly “hey!” or single-syllable epithets) that a) oddly enhances his performance, b) does not seem to throw him in any way whatsoever. He then points out that this is an unusual kick-off poem – it’s long, and thinky, and difficult (and uneasy), lambasting slam poetry – you shouldn’t be doing this to get people to like you, say what you really want to say, not what you think the audience want to hear. He then deconstructs his own performance, and his own thought process, with a breakdown of the voices in his head, with in-jokes about arts funding and what the arts means, and how the industry separates artists from community, with a series of terrible insults and jokes, with the person with the tic echoes back. (“Nobcheese!” is my favourite.)

Invisible Kisses is next, which apparently gets used in weddings a lot (“If you used this for your wedding and you didn’t pay me, I just want you to know that you’ve robbed a black man!” – the almost entirely white audience laughs knowingly). At this point he acknowledges the involuntary heckler with a comic stare. The vocal tic doesn’t work with the rhythm of this particular poem, I have to say…

(I don’t have to say, obviously, but I’m trying to place you here. This might also be the point to tell you that I raced outside after his set to track her down, and it turns out that it was none other than Jess Thom, otherwise known as Tourettes Hero, and you can see her at Astrolane, apparently!)

The passion of his delivery, against all the background noises makes it more powerful than any version I’ve so far seen online.

The next poem is old, addressing a social worker who bullied him when he was a child. He is one of the most parenthetical poets I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot of Jonny Fluffypunk), the chaotic, nesting statements of his between-poem anecdotes and explanations are a glorious contrast to the crafted structure of the poems. He tells us he’ll cut out the swearing, at which point Jess Thom shouts a beautifully timed f-word, and Mr. Sissay decides to address her explicitly (“I suppose I’d better talk to you…”). The poem itself turns out to be shorter than the explanation by whole minutes. He slaloms between anecdotes, explanation, lies, and poems, and the distinction between them starts to break down. The crowd loves everything he offers them, and I’m enthralled and all – this is different from the poetry films readily available online, more like a TED Talk or a lecture from the most rock ’n’ roll poetry lecturer EVER. Disfunctional stops a few bars in because he can’t find it in his book. It’s impossible to tell whether this is deliberate craft or a beautiful insight into a very human performer. Poe’s Law in action?

It’s nothing like what I was expecting, including the gaffes, the fourth-wall breaking, the deconstruction, losing his place, forgetting his way. After an exchange about cats with the person with the inadvertent heckler, he forgets what he’s doing next, and someone suggests one he approves of, even though he wasn’t going to do it. So Flock of Sound roars, sings, and stamps unplanned into the space, and the tic is in perfect syncopation with it, and we holler for it, and he follows it up with something similarly rhythmic and anthemic, a powerful ode to Martin Luther King. He bounces with renewed energy in its wake: “Thank you! Sometimes I forget myself!” And now he’s flying, chanting, gathering us with him to rise in his glorious slipstream in his namechecking goddesses and heroines as he calls out praise to womanhood.

His last is Architecture, for his friend Vikas, who’s in the audience. He thanks us for attending, despite the huge number of other things we could be doing in this massive festival. The imagery is deliberately huge, stamping its way into our consciousness. And, of course, we roar for an encore, and he gives us an intro about trust and forgiveness (you can stay angry, but forgiveness helps us to let go – and it’s not about the people you’re forgiving, but for you to put the burden down, and helps you be stronger, change things, and being an activist). Open Up talks about the heritage of migration in industrial Britain, about what “belonging” means, a rallying cry to open all boundaries.

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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.

Introducing: Joe Sellman-Leava, Sunday showcase: Monster

Joe Sellman-Leava
Back to perform with us is Joe Sellman-Leava, 15:15-16:00 Sunday. If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In his own words:

‘This is a story about a boy. And a girl. Some of it’s true. Some of it isn’t. But I’m not going to tell you which is which.’

“Following the success of the multi award-winning Labels (Winner: Scotsman Fringe First), internationally acclaimed Worklight Theatre present a startling new play about the conflicting masculinities we perform. Writer-performer Joe Sellman-Leava blends together vastly different voices (including Mike Tyson, Patrick Stewart and Shakespeare!) into a one-man epic where heroes clash with villains, men become monsters, and truth and fiction collide.

“Joe Sellman-Leava is an actor and writer from Devon, based in London. His plays Labels and Monster have toured the UK and internationally since 2015. He is currently writing a new play, Mosley & Me, about British Fascism, and recently finished touring with Rain Man (Bill Kenwright). Joe is also Worklight Theatre’s artistic director, with whom he has co-written several plays including How to Start a Riot and Fix.”

Reviews:

★★★★ “Brimming with earnest, intelligent energy and jumping between threads seamlessly, deftly reconstructing scenes, arguments and interviews with nothing but a pair of red steel chairs for a set” The Stage
★★★★★ “Beautifully written… a stellar performance” West End Wilma
★★★★★ “a powerful and timely exploration of masculinity in crisis” Theatre Bubble

Fay’s words:

Setting myself this challenge to write something about each of the artists performing at Glastonbury Poetry&Words from my own perspective has got me questioning a few of my assumptions: 1. That everyone on the stage would be a performance poet/ spoken word artist of some kind. 2. Everyone would have a few videos lying around the internet that I could have a look at – and, more pertinently, listen to – so I could gain a solid impression of them and their work. 3. Okay, audio, then. Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Bandcamp, BBC, podcasts…?

Darn. Well, we live and learn. Or vice versa…

Anyway, most of Joe Sellman-Leava’s videos on YouTube are in relation to his show Labels (well-crafted trailers and crowd-funding updates for the most part), and suddenly all my assumptions fall under the heading: ironically meta. Amused chagrin aside, this is what I’ve learned: JSL has a voice and a directness of presence that had me doing a double-take during the first part of a 20 minute excerpt of Labels when he tells the audience that he’s 25. That seems far too young for the assured performance I’m witnessing (despite the ages of many of the recent Hammer & Tongue finalists, for example, let alone a fair number of our artists this year, it seems that my age is showing… more meta-irony?). It turns out that his voice (in various senses of the word) is also incredibly fluid, switching up accents, tone, and straight-up impersonations with an eerie speed. His main performance is earnest and deceptively straightforward, a well-crafted likeable nervousness slowly revealing well-honed anger, compassion, and determination leading to a meticulous, nuanced interrogation of the underlying factors leading to society’s labelling, compartmentalising, and assumptions, particularly with regard to race. I didn’t finish watching the excerpt of Labels for the slightly complex reason that I was enjoying it far too much and abruptly realised that I didn’t want to find I’d committed to something I was doomed in the ambition to experience in its entirety. As it was, nearly fifteen minutes had passed by and it felt like five at most. He speaks and writes with a regard for the rhythm and texture of language that demonstrates his spoken word influences, which is bound to make this piece of theatre another excellent fit for P&W, and I, for one, am very much looking forward to watching Monster later this month.

Sneak preview:

Introducing: Lemn Sissay, headliner

Lemn_Sissay_copywright_Hamish_Brown_2017_small(6)
Performing for the first time with us is Lemn Sissay, 18:10-18:55 Saturday. If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In his own words:

“Lemn Sissay is an award winning writer. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature by The Queen of England. He is chancellor of The University of Manchester and an honorary Doctor from The University of Huddersfield, The University of Manchester and The University of Kent. Amongst other awards are a NESTA new radical award, in 2017, he won a point of light award from The Prime Minister. His poetry and 2019 Memoir My Name Is Why are published by Canongate Books.

Lemn_Sissay_copywright_Hamish_Brown_2017_small(10) copy
He was the first poet commissioned to write for the London Olympics and wrote the official poem for the FA Cup. He is poet Laureate of Canterbury. If you Google the name “Lemn Sissay” all the returning hits will be about him because there is only one person in the entire world named Lemn Sissay.

Lemn is a poet, playwright, artist performer and broadcaster. He has read on stage throughout the world: from The Library of Congress in The United States to The University of Addis Ababa, from the Botanic Gardens of Singapore to literature festivals in Sri Lanka, from Wembley Football stadium to Maryland Football stadium, from the theatres of Bangalore to the theatres of Dubai, from a literature festival in Bali to a stage in Greenland AND Wigan library. He read poetry at Sir Paul McCartney’s book launch at The Queens Theatre in The West End.

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As an artist his Landmark poems can be found on walls in public spaces around the world from The Royal Festival Hall in London to The British Council Offices in Addis Ababa and throughout his home city of Manchester. His Landmark poem “Gilt of Cain” was unveiled by Bishop Desmond Tutu in The City of London: Sissay’s installation poem ‘what if’ exhibited at The Royal Academy and toured the world in Galleries from from Tokyo to New York.

In Music Lemn is featured on the Left field album, Leftism which sold millions. In 2017 he featured on the album “Traveller” by Baaba maal. A violin concerto performed at The BBC Proms by Viktoria Mullova was inspired by and named after his poem ‘Advice For The Living’. Another poem ‘Spark Catchers’ featured in the 2017 proms as the self-titled inspiration for a concerto written by Hannah Kendal, performed by Chineke! Orchestra. and a Bikila award with the Ethiopian music legend Teddy Afro.

In theatre Lemn has written various plays. ‘Something Dark’ (Battersea Arts Centre and Contact Theatre) is on The National Curriculum as a choice text published by Oberon Books. He adapted Benjamin Zephaniah’s hit Novel, Refugee Boy (West Yorkshire Playhouse) which toured to rave reviews with his play “Why I don’t hate white people” (Lyric Hammersmith). As an actor In 2017 he played Scully in Jim Cartwright’s ROAD directed by John Tiffany at Royal Court Theatre. A reading of his psychologists report was an extraordinary moment in British Theatre. The audience heard his report read by Julie Hesmondhalgh at the same time he did, on stage. “Report at The Royal Court” sold out in 24 hours and became national news.

In radio and TV: A BBC TV documentary, Internal Flight, and radio documentary, Child of the State, were both broadcast about his life. Lemn’s TED talks in The Houses of Parliament have been viewed by over a million people and his Desert Island Discs on BBC radio four was chosen as Pick of the Year. He co-presented BAFTA award-winning Ten Pieces for BBC Television which was described by BBC Director general Tony Hall as “the biggest commitment the BBC has ever made to music education in our country”. He has made BBC radio documentaries on WH Auden, JB Priestley, Bob Marley, The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron to name a few. His 2017 radio two-parter “Lemn Sissay’s Homecoming” was nominated for a Palm D’Or.

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Philanthropy: Lemn started The Christmas Dinners for care leavers in Manchester in 2012. Now they take place throughout England. In December 2017 the prime minister wrote to him “By founding ‘The Christmas Dinner’ project, you have created a successful and sustainable model which is making a real difference for hundreds of young care leavers who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. In total seventeen Christmas dinners took place in the UK in 2018. Lemn is Trustee of The Foundling Museum and Patron of Twenty Stories High Theatre Company. In 2017 he launched The Equity and Merit Scholarship scheme in Ethiopia with University of Manchester. University of Huddersfield hold the Lemn Sissay Scholarship for Care Leavers.

His photograph is exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery. He has been shot by many photographers including Don Mcullin, Rankin, Greg Williams, Aida Muluneh, and Steve McCurry. His painting was in the National Portrait Gallery as part of The BP Awards.

He has judged many literary competitions including The National Poetry Competition, Forward Prize, The Ted Hughes Poetry Prize, The Golden Man Booker Awards, Cardiff international poetry competition, The Creative Future Literary Awards and the Bridport Prize.

In 2018 he brought a legal case against the government for ‘stealing me and my childhood”. The government settled the case out of court for a six figure sum. Lemn Sissay is a writer and a winner. Lemn lives in London, Manchester and Ethiopia.”

Fay’s words:

To my epic shame, Lemn Sissay is one of those poets whose names have been everywhere, and yet I haven’t seen him live or even looked out his work. It’s a bit of an oversight in my poetry education, to say the least. Luckily for me, there’s no shortage of his poems out there online to help me catch up, and in case some of you are as inexcusably behind as I am, hopefully my précis will help point you in the right direction.

I once had a baffling conversation with a friend, somewhat younger than me, who was studying music, and had only recently, somehow, heard the Beatles for the first time. What did you think? They screwed their face up, indicating a general lack of Being Impressed. I’m not sure what the fuss was all about – they just sounded like Oasis… I still don’t know if they were joking or not (though they had plenty of opportunity to clue me in during the ensuing discussion), but I had the strongest flashback to that when listening to the first video: I dunno, he sounds a bit… familiar… until it dawned on me: Yeah, like the first time you saw Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze perform and you’d no idea who she was then either… (long story, I’ll tell you some other time). Like the first time I read James Joyce or Chaucer. Like the first time I heard Muddy Waters or Janis Joplin. Basically, chances are really good I’ve been hearing Lemn Sissay’s voice in a lot of other poets for, well, pretty much as long as I’ve been listening to British performance poetry.

I’m struggling to describe what he does, because it feels somewhere between drama and music, both in the delivery and the words. There are plenty of recent examples of soaring, elegiac stuff to inspire the students of Manchester University, that – even with the swaying music beneath it – manages the gorgeous balancing act that lands it this side of cheese (I honestly found myself wanting to go back to study science again!), but there’s the close-up-and-personal intimacy of love poems (no, your eyes are damp!), the tricky intricacies of work that makes you think about the world and your place in it, and the genuinely grin-inducing whimsy that flips your feelings once again. I’ve been through an emotional rollercoaster just listening to a handful of stuff! And it’s even better in the recordings of him performing live; he’s charismatic, witty, and dynamic – almost doesn’t seem fair, somehow… 😉

I’m really looking forward to what is bound to be a masterclass headline set next month in a rammed tent.

Sneak preview:

Introducing: John Hegley, headliner

John Hegley
Back to perform with us is headliner John Hegley, 18:10-18:55 Friday . If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In his own words:

“Songs and poems about fig rolls, potatoes (new and old), much singing joining in and a little bit of communal choreography.

“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.”

Fay’s words:

It’s hard to know where to start with Mr. Hegley. He’s one of the first poets I ever came across after nursery rhymes and Roald Dahl. He was almost certainly the first poet I witnessed mixing it with music as well. And he was near-revered in my family household of mostly purblind geeks as being someone who wrote excellent verse about being a glasses wearer. Like, I suspect, many of us, he was the person (those of us who didn’t witness John Cooper Clarke until much later) looked up to as the image of Famous Living Poet Who Is Relevant To Me, alongside Michael Rosen and Roger McGough*.

It’s going to be difficult to do him proper service but let’s assume you’ve never heard of John Hegley, that he was never read out to you in school or turned up in nearly every anthology you read as a child. Imagine an expression veering between worried and diffident around a set of heavy spectacles. Imagine a ukelele grasped familiarly and made to do things you didn’t know they could do – made to sound serious, made to sing with deceptive simplicity. Imagine a drawl over the top of the cunning plink-plunk that, again, uses words that seem simple, bordering on foolish, until you listen harder, look a bit deeper. Then you hear the virtuosity in the playing, the experimenting in the combinations, the subversion in the words. Then you notice that the diffidence is anger or sorrow or amusement at the inevitable unfairness of the world, or joy in the things that make us happy, and that he’s inviting you to join in. Often literally.

(And then imagine you’ve been invited to perform on the same stage, in the poet’s hometown, and you’re bricking it in front of a packed-out audience, and afterwards he just wanders up to talk to you, offering sincere and interested compliments on your performance, buys a CD with you and one of the other poets on it, and strolls off, and how that doesn’t quite leave you, and certainly never leaves your CV. Imagine that you see him a few years later, backstage while one of your mates’ bands play, and he starts harmonising effortlessly and beautifully, leant up against the tent, strumming and humming quietly, and you realise that this is someone who just likes good stuff, loves music, celebrates words, and just, well, does that. An articulate and generous human. Imagine that…)

The tent is going to be rammed while he’s on, I expect, but I’ll be right there, singing along.

(*Brief, political sidebar: I love these poets, but I also love how Successful Poet no longer means Middle-Aged, White Man these days.)

Sneak preview:

Today is Sunday, today is like creamy mud

 

Satisfyingly exhausting.

This morning I awoke before my alarm, which is always an achievement. It’s hard to sleep with so much to take in. My bedtime has averaged at 5 and I am looking forward to one more night before returning to curtains and walls. I have discovered that Berrocca is in fact the best thing straight away even if you don’t want to drink it, and that a shower doesn’t have to be long just cool enough to take the heat of the hangover away.

As I listen to Scott Tyrell, the tent slowly fills. He reviews Bethlehem Inn which I’m guessing from his review is like sleeping over at Glastonbury (Yes, in my mind we are all at one big giant sleepover!) He cautions our anger and tries to persuade Dave (id Cameron), that we, like humans, do care about stuff! From what I garner, Scotts festival tips are:

– Embrace the mud – Jesus was born in it

– Say no to anger – its victim may want to save you

– Buy a spare t-shirt with poets as owls on it – Save the owls, take them home, care about them.

Later today, we welcome the fantastically great, Michael Rosen at 14.00. This is a real treat and a perfect Sunday afternoon must see.

We also have the SLAM at 17.00, last years slam winner, Torrey Shineman, will be taking to the stage at 15.45 for a full set, This full set can be won today at the slam.

But before then, we have some more feature sets including: Rob Auton – Glastonbury Poet in Residence (14.50), Raymond Antrobus (15.20), and Helen Gregory (16.45).

So come see there’s loads to see, it’s chilled there is a mat to lay on and we are a deaf friendly tent!

Ill be staring at you all from stage at 16.15!.Deanna.xx.

 

Scott Tyrrell

 

The full line up

Full line up

 

Deanna.xx.

So close I can smell the leaves – Headlines and Hosts

You, my friends who I haven’t yet met, you are in for a super lovely treat as your hosts for this years Poetry&Words tent are Dreadlockalien & Paula Varjack. I have met these two awesome people many times before and each time I think of them a smile comes to my face, they are warm and generous people and will make you feel like there is no more perfect place to be, come along, wave at them, cheer, applaude and maybe even give some flowers/notebooks/pencils (gifts of a positively useful manner will be appreciated I am certain!)

These two super humans will be introducing our brilliant, brilliant headliners…Deanna.xx.

Michael Rosen

Rosen, Photo by Goldsmiths, University of LondonPhoto courtesy of Goldsmiths, University of London

Sunday 14.00

Michael Rosen is one of Britain’s best known writers and performers for children. The book that he and Helen Oxenbury made –  ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ – has sold over 8 million copies and if coaxed, he will perform it,  with arm movements as an optional extra. He is a former children’s laureate, a university professor (Goldsmiths, University of London) and a regular visitor to schools, libraries, theatres and colleges where he does various versions of his spoken word show. His latest books are ‘Alphabetical, how every letter tells a story’ (publ. John Murray) (for adults) and for children:  ‘Send for a Superhero’, ‘Aesop’s Fables’, ‘Choosing Crumble’ and ‘Fluff the Farting Fish’.

 

John Hegley

John Hegley

Saturday 18.05

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.

The Fugitives

Fugitives1

Friday 18.00

The Fugitives are an indie folk-poetry collective based out of Vancouver, Canada. They have released three full-length LPs and toured multiple times through Canada, Europe, and the UK. They have been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award for Pushing the Boundaries, and have toured as a supporting act for folk legends Dan Bern and Buffy Sainte-Marie. They are signed to Light Organ Records.

www.fugitives.ca

“Whether you go for the poetry, the music, or both, this show is simply brilliant” – CBC  “The missing link between Leonard Cohen and the Pogues” – Georgia Straight

www.brendanmcleod.ca / www.fugitives.ca

Pre-order the new Fugitives album Everything Will Happen now from Light Organ Records

 

 More about the hosts

Paula VarjackPaula Varjack (U.K./U.S) is a writer and performance maker. She has been making and touring her work since 2008. She is particularly drawn to true stories, and is often intrigued by the unspoken subtext that lingers underneath what we say. Her work has taken shape in a variety of forms; spoken word, devised performance, documentaries, audio pieces, stories and poems. She was one of  nine artists in residence for the E.U. funded Poetry Slam Days project, creating a multilingual show: Smoke and Mirrors, that toured to twenty European cities. In 2009 she represented the U.K. in the Berlin International Literature Festival. She is also the creator and co-producer of the Anti-Slam, a satirical take on poetry slams where the worst poet wins. This event, a comedy-poetry hybrid, launched in Berlin and has since happened in Warsaw, Cologne, London, Turin, Sydney, Sheffield, Oxford and Newcastle, with a national event in London planned late this summer.

She was one of the thirty-six storytellers in the critically acclaimed London Stories Festival, at the Battersea Arts Centre last autumn. Her first solo show, Kiss and Tell, premiered at the Berlin 100 Degrees Theatre festival. Her second solo show The antiSocial Network, made in collaboration with director/dramaturge/designer Lesley Ewen, was performed at the Notes From The Upstream Festival, The PBH Free Fringe Festival, and The Vault Festival. Her third solo show: How I became myself (by becoming someone else) premiered at Chelsea Theatre, as part of Fresh Blood, a programme of emerging artists,  last February. This is her third time at Glastonbury ,and her second time as a compere in the poetry tent.  Get varjacked at www.paulavarjack.com

dreadlockalienBirmingham 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.