Introducing: the open mic, hosted by Liv Torc

tent outside

Time to tell you about the open mic! 13:00-14:00 Saturday. If it’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

Stuff the organisers would like you to note:

  • Sign ups are once the tent opens on site (11:30 Friday 28th). No early sign ups. Nope, not even for you!
  • Booked poets can’t perform in either this or the slam, so this is a chance to air/ hear new voices.
  • Time limit is three minutes or one poem – whichever is shorter…
  • Please do bear in mind that this is a family-friendly event!

Fay’s words:

I am a sucker for an open mic, especially spoken word open mics. This is the place where the undiscovered treasures turn up. This is the place where people are performing for the first time, or the fortieth time. Where absolute beginners rub shoulders with those who’ve decided they fancy a bit of that open mic thrill, despite being veterans, because here there are no expectations. This is the place for new voices, new work, new relationships emerging. If I’m sentimental about open mic, it’s because – like at least 90% of the booked acts on our stage for the rest of the programme – that’s where I started getting to grips with performing, and with running shows, learning both what to do and not to do!

Luckily for us, we’ll be in the very capable hands of Liv Torc. If even the sliver of footage I’ve seen of her hosting is indicative of her style, it’ll be warm, friendly, efficient, and energising. Come on in and sign up!


I couldn’t find anything online which was footage of the open mic at Glastonbury Poetry&Words, but we really wanted to share this by Tony Walsh, so this seems like a good opportunity!


Introducing: Brian McMahon Gallagher

Brian McMahon Gallaher from

Photo courtesy of

Performing for the first time with us is Brian McMahon Gallagher, 16:05-16:30 Friday; hosting slam 17:00-19:00 Sunday . If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In his own words:

“Brian McMahon Gallagher is a Dublin Based poet and Slam Sunday co-host. As a poet, Brian has performed at the First Fortnight, Electric Picnic, Latitude, and Cuirt International Literary Festivals, and has performed with the Arts Group ‘Outstraight’ at festivals and shows throughout Britain and Ireland. He is also the host of LemmeTalk, a monthly open mic that takes place in ‘Poetry Ireland’.”

Fay’s words:

Another new poet to me, so back to the magic ot the internet to track down the sparse few examples of his wordcraft, YouTube doing me fewer favours than the Near FM Podcast. And it’s through this that I’ve discovered a gloriously sweary, young, Irish poet with pieces that take on some of the more egregious elements of Irish/ Dublin culture, from the personal to the political (and where that intersects, naturally). He rams a machine-gun clatter of words into short spaces, and none of them wasted. And he’s sweary as hell, which I loved (sometimes you only get to see/ hear the most sanitised, expurgated versions of people online); his passion is undeniable, and it’s wonderful to see it in service to some of the most important issues facing Ireland (and humanity), from the small to the crushingly broad. I’m really looking forward to see that febrile energy let loose in the Poetry&Words tent next month!

He’ll also be hosting the slam on Sunday with Thunderclap Murphy, about which more later.

Sneak preview:

Introducing: Dominic Berry, compere

Dominic Berry
Back to perform with us is Dominic Berry, compering 15:30-19:00 Friday; 11:50-15:30 Saturday; and 14:30-17:00 Sunday . If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In his own words:

“Dominic Berry is an internationally award-winning performance poet. He was 2017 Glastonbury Festival Poet in Residence, winner of 2017 Saboteur ‘Best Spoken Word Artist’ award and has toured his verse across USA, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia, South America and Europe.

“His other awards include winning New York’s Nuyorican Poetry Cafe Slam, UK Superheroes of Slam and, as of 2019, seven Arts Council England Grants for the Arts awards.”

Fay’s words:

Dom is one of my favourite people in the world. And for once I’m going to get the very rare treat of getting to see him outside Edinburgh, and in a different month from August! We met as flatmates in 2013, my second year doing a full run at Edinburgh Fringe, and (I think) his first. He was performing a kids’ show first thing in the morning, so we didn’t cross paths as much as I would have liked. He was a caring, generous, and energetic flatmate, and then I discovered that all of this comes out in his poetry too. He is witty, passionate, committed, and clever, and knows when to go slow and allow his audience to absorb the challenging moments. Outside the children’s shows he talks articulately and devastatingly honestly about mental health, class, the queer community, sex, veganism, gaming, and how all of those things and more can intersect. Every show of his I’ve witnessed I’ve ended up astonished that it took a full hour as I’ll be absolutely suspended in whatever world he’s chosen to take us to, whether dragons and trolls, or a complex weave of gaming, anxiety, and sexuality.

I have no doubt he’ll bring that energy and commitment to his compering of this wildly talented stage, and I hope he gets a chance to slip a few of his own poems our way as he goes!

Sneak preview:

Introducing: Thunderclap Murphy

Thunderclap Murphy
Performing for the first time with us is Thunderclap Murphy, 15:05-15:30 Friday; hosting the slam 17:00-19:00 Sunday. If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In his own words:

“Thunderclap Murphy is a spoken word performer, songwriter and live looping multi-instrumentalist.

“For five years, he was the host of Dublin’s monthly poetry slam, Slam Sunday. He has been the host and organiser of many spoken word and music events in his home town of Dublin. The weekly open mic show, The Monday Echo, was a first performance venue for many Irish based poets.

“His live performance combines poetry, songwriting, live looping and hip-hop. With influences as diverse as welsh poet Alun Lewis to 90s rap legend Skee-lo, Thunderclap combines covers and original material in a high energy show.

“2018 saw the release of self-penned single “The Party’s Over”. He occasionally performs arrangements of his songs live with a string quartet. His arrangements of other songwriters material for string quartet were showcased in a regular event called the Bamboo Sessions featuring live string players.”

Fay’s words:

Thunderclap Murphy is likewise new to me, but here we see where my plan to post in chronological order of appearance on the stage might have some issues. See, I may have to admit my first research defeat on this one, as I can find video and audio of Mr. Murphy’s music – either intricately looped, multi-instrumental covers or original music – but no written or recorded versions of any poetry in his name. (What hasn’t helped is that there is a (much older) Irish poet called Aidan Murphy who, conversely, I have been able to hear. He is not our Aidan Murphy, though…) I have found a recorded version of an interview with him on Irish spoken word podcast Boundless & Bare in May 2018 about setting up and running spoken word events. All I can tell you at the moment is that he has a really beautiful speaking voice – deep and resonant and expressive. And his music is catchy (I’m still humming one of them), deceptively complex and moving, delivered in a light baritone/ tenor, just to throw me into more confusion (man has an impressive vocal range!). If I discover any more before I see him in action in June, I’ll update this article! 🙂

In addition, he’s hosting the slam on Sunday along with Brian McMahon Gallagher, about which more later!

Sneak preview:

Introducing: Liv Torc

Liv Torc Pic 6 by Kieren Sibley (c)
Performing for the first time with us is Liv Torc, 14:05-14:30 Friday; hosting open mic 13:00-14:00 Saturday . If she’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In her own words:

“Liv Torc is a razor blade skating performance poet, who plunges the vast caverns and dormant volcanoes of the human condition, armed with a box of matches and a sense of lyrical wonder. A Radio 4 Slam Winner, a former Bard of Exeter and current co-host of The Hip Yak Poetry Shack. Liv also runs the mental health and poetry night The Rainbow Fish Speak Easy in Yeovil and produces and hosts the hugely successful Hip Yak Poetry Stage at WOMAD festival. She is also the brains and brawn behind the Hip Yak Poetry School, an ACE funded project aimed at supporting the South West spoken word poetry scene.

“Over her career in spoken word Liv has appeared all over the UK and a bit in Europe, performing at the Roundhouse in London, Cheltenham Literary Festival, WOMAD and the Edinburgh Fringe.

“She has delivered workshops and long running poetry projects in schools, colleges, libraries, art centres, doctor’s surgeries and theatres, culminated in performances at, among others, the House of Commons and the 2012 Paralympics.

“Liv is currently Lead Artist for the Somerset wide mental health project Word/Play (recently featured on Apples and Snakes 30th anniversary podcast series), which places performance poets within GP surgeries to help adults re-discover their self worth and learn to communicate their feelings.

“Her first published book ‘Show Me Life’ was released by Burning Eye in 2015.”

Fay’s words:

Liv is another poet who’s new to me, so I’ve gone YouTube surfing again. What I’ve discovered so far is that she’s passionate and articulate, particularly brilliant at building a tangible picture involving multiple senses within a handful of lines. I feel myself immersed in each scene immediately. She then leads you by the hand through that earth-rooted corporeality into more liminal places and shows you the grace of humanity and what we could be. (She’s also ridiculously witty and slips a gorgeous vocabulary into some hysterically funny stanzas.)

She’ll also be the host of the open mic, no mean task, and we’ll be telling you all about that in a few days’ time.

Sneak preview:

Rosy Carrick by Sharon Kilgannon

Introducing: Rosy Carrick, compere

Rosy Carrick by Sharon Kilgannon

Rosy Carrick by Sharon Kilgannon

Back to keep things moving is the first of our two comperes, Rosy Carrick, 11:50-15:30 Friday; 15:30-19:00 Saturday; 11:50-14:30 Sunday. If you’ve never had the pleasure (or even if you have), read on to find out a little more:

In her words:

“Rosy Carrick is a writer, performer and translator based in Brighton. For seven years (until Dec 2015), she ran and compered Brighton’s Hammer & Tongue poetry events and, alongside Luke Wright, she is co-curator of the Port Eliot festival poetry stage.

“Rosy has a PhD on the poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky, and has released two books of his work in translation: Volodya (Enitharmon, 2015) and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (Smokestack, 2017). Her debut play Passionate Machine won Best New Play at Brighton Fringe 2018 and The Infallibles Award for Theatrical Excellence at Edinburgh Fringe 2018. It is touring the UK throughout 2019 before it transfers to New York for an off-Broadway run at the Soho Playhouse.

“Rosy’s first poetry collection Chokey was published in June 2018 by Burning Eye Books. She is currently developing MuscleBound, a new documentary film on the wonderful world of bodybuilders, beefcake and BDSM.”


“Clever, funny, quarrelsome, astonishing!” Sabotage

“Playful, engaging, refreshing – ★★★★” The List

“Surprising, audacious, original. Superb – ★★★★”

Fay’s Words:

The first time I saw Rosy on stage was, from memory, about seven years ago at the Hammer & Tongue National Final in Wilton’s Music Hall, a fitting space for her sometimes very burlesque presence. For the most part, I knew her as one of the organisers of the phenomenally popular Hammer & Tongue Brighton, as fiercely uncompromising in her proudly feminist programming as she was in her poetry. It’s only recently that I’ve actually had the pleasure of watching her in action doing an actual set as a poet (as opposed to hosting and doing the occasional sacrificial poem), on the Cambridge leg of her national Hammer & Tongue tour in December 2018. Her work is astonishing and almost brutally direct, and I’m hoping she’ll take an opportunity to share some of it with us at the Festival.

Sneak Preview:

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


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.

“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 /

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

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.