Friday Part 2

Compere Dominic Berry kicks us off with one of my favourite poems of his (I Will Not Treat My Friend Like An iPod), roaring us into excited appreciation of poetry (Bowie on the Pyramid Stage makes another appearance as an inducement to whoops)

Paula Varjack makes the best entrance through the saloon doors, glorious in gold lame and attitude, and she launches into the dark, burlesque rant of Commodity, following it up with My Country, and then her piece about strip clubs, covering race, international culture, shame, sexuality, self-definition, identity, the masks of intimacy and expression acroas her pieces. Paula blends confession and storytelling, summoning the audience closer for something new and even more visceral about her first experience of London queer culture, written for seminal London club Heaven. It’s wonderfully, horribly reminiscent of my own first 90s gay club experience (except that I had a straight mate who insisted on dragging me out for my birthday, and I didn’t get off with anyone, and this was the only gay club in Cardiff and… you know what? never mind…), with a fantastic soundtrack I want to dance to as though I’m in my 20s again (don’t worry – I still dance like that; it doesn’t take much; I probably will later). She checks that the parent of the one child in the audience is fine with hedonistic sex and drugs references to finish us off. This is Glastonbury. They’re fine. We’re all fine. And I’m never going to look at coffee the same way again…

Dominic gives us The Beleaguered Vegan, a barnstormer of a poem which talks of uncomfortable facts about meat and dairy production.

Brian McMahon Gallagher takes to the stage (again through the batwings to induced roars from the audience) to launch into a piece about how Shakespeare is shite, and how true love isn’t proved by “topping yourself after your first shag.” It meanders via toxic masculinity and gender roles, and concludes that maybe true love isn’t depicted that often is because true love might be boring. Then he suggests he gets his panic attack poem out of the way (apparently all poets have a panic attack poem; wish I’d known – that might have made my own a little easier to bear – maybe Irish poets are more forthcoming), followed by getting his Irish poem out of the way (his term!), written for the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Republic – Was It For This? Toxic masculinity and homophobia (internalised and externalised) thread through the next few poems as well.

Dominic Berry brings us his poems about video games and social anxiety next, then encourages us to scream for Erin, as though Bowie, Prince, and Keith Flint had formed a supergroup.

Erin Fornoff takes to the stage, shimmying through the batwings to the twirl of harp music, and launches into that poem of hers that I love immoderately – Home – followed up by a classic #MeToo/ #TimesUp poem about the kind of subtextual casting couch abuse that successful men love to sow as ways to get into less powerful people’s heads and pants (don’t go to lunch with Peter Sheridan, is the advice – and yes, I have permission to blog that!). She excels in word portraits in a few spare words, vignette after vignette scrolling by like you’re meeting people in her life, limned with her love. She talks about loss in such a fluid, beautiful way that it eases it, somehow. I’d love to bring her poetry with me, and apparently, I’ll have a chance to buy her book (Hymn To The Reckless, named after a gorgeous poem that’s love and fire and the glory of the memorably ephemeral). Guess I know where my cash is going (unless she’s up for a book swap). How about you?

(My phone is being peculiar about media uploads, but there should be a video of Erin at this point – hopefully I can get it in tomorrow!)

Dominic tells us that he finds lots of hope at Glastonbury Festival, tries to bottle it and bring it with him in the rest of his life. This informs the next two poems.

Eve Piper takes to the stage after Dominic asks us to give the same amount of applause as if Donald Trump stepped down from politics. She asks who of us are single (or keeping our options open), segues into her property-marking poem about love bites. It’s fascinating to hear a poem that’s very reminiscent of the Bristol poetry sound in a Mancunian accent. The next piece is one of those letters to someone who’s done something that’s “punishable by poem”. It’s that poem that hooked me when I was researching her for the preview article – Taxi Driver. Articulate rage used in the best way and for reasons that no-one should have to celebrate escape. She reveals that the mental health is so poor for Bristol University that it’s measured, at its worst, in a suicide rate (which she landmarks as a trigger warning) that sounds to me closer to that of the armed forces. The anger here is quieter, close to despair, again the voice of someone who’s escaped, painting a visceral picture that drowns out the Latin beats outside thumping under her words. Class war, gender disparity, and the violence of silence rings through her work. And a love for rave. Lush!

(Again with the video upload fail – apologies!)

Tony Walsh takes to the stage after a heartfelt and passionate intro from Dominic, and gets us happy and cheering with a cheerful celebration of festival life (adapted from a Kendal Calling poem) and moves onto a rousing ode to John Peel, Keeping It Peel (I think it might have a longer title…). (And then I have to run out, because the glamour of this job is picking between watching one of your favourite poets or having a wee. I did get to tell John Hegley backstage that his shorts suited him (he was debating with his friend about changing for the stage); I don’t think he heard me.) When I’m back, he’s giving a typically wordplay-rich, rhymetastic ode to the joy of movies… no, it’s about the British arts scene. It’s an anthem to the joy and work and connection that art brings – entertainment, wealth, occupation, culture, representation from the stadium-fillers to the tiniest local open mic or art exhibition. We want to roar along with him: “Witness the richness, we’re poorer without this!” and stand together, as he urges, all artforms together against austerity, not talking about how funding is dividing up between art, health, and education, but we should be taking our rage back to “whoever stole the cake in the first place”. Now it’s a ranting, frantic, magic tribute to glam rock, and how any music can represent and lift up everyone from everywhere, of any background or demographic. And for his mate Dennis from the Strummerville Stage (and for Joe Strummer of course) it’s a Shakespearean sonnet using Clash lyrics! I’ve don’t think I’ve ever heard a more dynamic sonnet; I’d honestly forgotten it was that form until the final couplet. His final poem is quieter, and yet as anthemic as anything that’s gone before, reminding us that we’re all love, all connected, all divine. We can make it better, we can make it better, we can make it better… And after that set (hell, after even one of those poems), we can believe it!

(Another video missing here – ah, Glastonbury!)

Headliner John Hegley takes to the stage with typical diffidence, a ukelele with a smiling face built in, and what looks like a knitted potato with an orange bobble hat. On second glance it might be a hamster. We are instructed to sing “Dancing!” at the right point. We are then further instructed to sing it correctly (rising note on the second syllable). “Enough of the fun – now for some poetry.” Riddles (some with rhyming clues, others without) are shared with us. It’s hard to say whether he looks more disappointed when we get it right or wrong (the final one – depression – is guessed at by one wit as “Boris Johnson”, to a wry dismissal). Every single one of these pieces demands audience participation of some kind, and it’s picked up with increasing enthusiasm and deftness, just in time for Martin to join him with a guitar and a tale of how we should all be helpful, like Martin.

When he says snail instead of slug and we pitch in with the salute to the snail he namechecks a delighted Tony Walsh and tells us that “we must fail with aplomb”. There’s plenty more chances to fail in the many (including new) gestures to accompany Guillemot, and in picking a translator to turn his short story into English. Nicky steps up to the plate gloriously, and we see Mr. Hegley smile for the first time, frankly flirtatiously. In the course of finding an interpreter, I spot Baden (namechecked by Mr. Hegley) from my first days of poetry in Northampton. The world of poetry is ridiculously small. After a couple of lovely, deceptive wee poems where we’re invited to fill in the rhyme (except sometimes it’s not a rhyme, or it is, against expectation – I’ve never enjoyed being persistently wrongfooted so much!

Finally, for crowd favourite Luton Bungalow, we join in happily in our sections – it’s such a lovely, warm time, and… wait, it’s only the final piece if we don’t ask them back for a spontaneously prepared encore! Martin and John leave, returning to a rapturous standing ovation (from those of us easily able to rise!) to give an actually spontaneous rendition of Spectacles as requested by an audience member, and then one which name I missed in all the fun of a five section chorus about different types of birds. The words of the verses form a sober, loving meditation on death and the meaning of life, family, legacy, and connection, and a wonderful end to a gorgeous set that fled by too fast.

(For some reason, my phone won’t let me upload photos and videos of Mr. Hegley. I’ll try again tomorrow!)

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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:

The FULL Glastonbury Poetry&Words 2015 Line up

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

PW Poster Final

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

Scott 🙂

Less than one month to go!

And we’ve still got jewels to flash. Here’s another 5 ways to fuel your festival…

John Hegley

John Hegley

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.

www.johnhegley.co.uk

 

Harry Baker

Harry Baker

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.

Charlotte Higgins 

Charlotte Higgins

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.

 

Kayo Chingonyi

Kayo Chingonyi copyright Naomi Woddis

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.

Wil Greenway

Wil Greenway

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.

www.facebook.com/heywilgreenway

@willgreenway

And after all this lot, we’re still not done rolling out the legends. More poets to come, and some very special interviews…

Scott 🙂

 

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.