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 Luke Wright

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. First up:

Luke Wright by Scott Tyrrell

Luke Wright by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Luke Wright

Website

http://www.lukewright.co.uk

Twitter handle

@lukewrightpoet

Instagram handle

@lukewrightpoet

Video

Audio

Facebook Page

http://www.facebook.com/mrlukewright

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

I saw Ross Sutherland, Martin Newell and John Cooper Clarke do a gig in Colchester and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life performing poems on stage.

Who are your influences/ idols?

This year I’ve been mostly listening to Aldous Harding.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

I did it all myself without any help from my mum.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Read widely, watch widely.

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

Mik Artistik

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

Aged 17, Performing poems down a megaphone at the stone circle. It sound unlikely but people cheered.

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

A good quality pair of rubber boots

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

You’ll never see all of it so relax and play it by ear. It’s not about the bands.

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

Yes

What’s your standout memory of performing at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage?

Not that I’m advocating such behaviour but one year I was very very drunk. But I remembered all the words to a 9 minute ballad and then had a great game of football with some kids backstage before passing out in the sun.

What advice would you give someone performing here for the first time?

They’re not leaving because they hate you, it’s that the Foo Fighters are on.

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

poetry

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

My life is my job.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

It’s my 20th anniversary this month. 20 years since my first gig. Almost to the day!


You can see Luke Wright at 16:35-17:00; Saturday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about him here.

Introducing: Luke Wright

LukeWright_photoby_IdilSukan_01_web
Back to perform with us is Luke Wright, 16:35-17:00; Saturday . If he’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In his own words:

“Flamboyant, political and riotously funny, Luke Wright creates inventive poems with loads of heart. Part Essex wide boy, part dandy fop, he writes from the sidelines about small-town tragedies and national farce, then performs his work with snarl and spit.

“As well as his own tours Luke can be seen warming up for Peter Doherty and John Cooper Clarke. This year he celebrates twenty years in the business with a new double vinyl album called ’Twenty’ and a new pamphlet of poems from Rough Trade Books.”

Reviews:

“He must be on some kind of dope.” John Cooper Clarke

“Fierce, wistful, romantic and witty by turns, this is a sensational hour of poetry.” ★★★★★ The Stage

“One of the funniest and most brilliant poets of his generation” The Independent

“Cool poems.” Patti Smith

Fay’s words:

The first time I saw Luke perform was at a book launch for Ross Sutherland’s book (this would have been autumn 2009, so I’ve no recollection of what it was called) at Heffer’s Bookstore. I’d not long moved to Cambridge, knew approximately two people (neither of whom were there), and a friend from out of town wanted to network at the event, so I went along. Of the original “Aisle 16” group, I only knew Tim Clare, and then only slightly. I suck at networking, so managed to find another shy person who proclaimed themself “bad at networking” and we jabbered quietly to each other about what we might say if we knew what to say. When Luke Wright moved into the performance space, it was clear that this wasn’t something he had an issue with. Slickly blonde in what my memory insists was a three-piece, double-breasted suit, he outright gleamed, stood taller (literally and figuratively) than anyone else there, while the softness of the rhyming love story he told seemed almost at odds with this image. Two years later, I met him at the inevitable darkened bar at EdFringe while introducing my girlfriend to Tim. Tim introduced us to Luke, and that crushed and hurried handshake was the extent of our connection for the next while.

I interviewed him a few years later before reviewing his event at Cambridge Literary Festival (sadly I was too ill to write it up subsequently), discovering that the clipped, gleaming Luke I’d originally witnessed was a phase – he had since resurrected a more tenebrous vibe, all eyeliner and enormous hair, complete with rockstar entrance, dripping anecdotes, connections, and extensive gestures. He expanded to fit the space available, in short, whether it was in the green room or in the 100-seater space that was rammed to capacity with adoring audience, the Essex Lion personified.

Luke’s energy, on- or off-stage, seems relentless, whether you see him holding court in an auditorium, or run into him on the street. He is forever picking up nuances, spinning them into story, riccocheting onto the next topic like a raconteurish bagatelle of rhyme and cultural reference. Like Tony Walsh, his pieces often follow ballad patterns of rhythm and end-rhyme, and – again like Tony – it would be easy to dismiss their accessibility and overlook the sheer craft involved, and in Luke’s case the undisputable rage, the idealism masked by what looks like cynicism, the almost desperate longing for a world where he doesn’t have to rant about inequities large and small. He also has a gift for mining cultural memory, flinging his listeners into a particular place and time. Come see this grandiloquent dandy and immerse yourself in his world at the Poetry&Words stage!

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 🙂

More festival folk flowing with florilegia

Some more of those wordy weavers of stonking stanzas. And me at the end 🙂

Antosh Wojcik

Antosh Wojcik

A true rising star. I saw Antosh perform at Glastonbury last year. An annoyingly talented young man, so crisp in his thought and realization for one so young and very good looking too. He’s quite charming as well. And self-effacing. He’s probably nice to children and animals as well. Your relatives would no doubt end up loving him more than you. Tell you what, I’ll give you his official biog before I weep with bitterness 😉

Antosh Wojcik is a poet, writer, performer. He was joint winner of The Roundhouse Poetry Slam 2013 and is a member of the poetry collectives, Kid Glove and Burn After Reading. He  writes for The Flashnificents blog. He is a resident artist at The Roundhouse and was part of Poejazzi’s cross-art collaboration, Howl 2.0. He has performed poetry around the UK at festivals such as Poetry&Words at Glastonbury, Bestival, In The Woods and at leading events such as TEDx EastEnd, Tongue Fu, Bang Said The Gun, Outspoken and various Apples and Snakes gigs. He was a poet-coach shadow as part of Spoke’s inter-school slam project, WORDCUP 2014, and leads poetry and writing workshops in schools. He writes to see and learn about people.

Carly BrownCarly Brown

Very excited about seeing this poet, having watched her winning poem at the Scottish National slam championships. Which you can see here.

Carly Brown is an American writer based in Scotland. In 2013, she won the Scottish National Championships of Slam Poetry and placed fourth at the World Series of Slam Poetry in Paris. She performs regularly in the UK and the US. In Edinburgh, she has been featured by The Scottish Storytelling Centre, Rally and Broad, Loud Poets and the National Library of Scotland. In St Andrews, she has performed at two TedX Conferences, a St Andrews University graduation dinner and at StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival. Her first chapbook, Grown Up Poetry Needs to Leave Me Alone, was released in 2014 from Knockingdoor Press. Her first children’s book, I Love St Andrews, will be published in Spring 2015 from Cartographie Press. She is currently completing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

 

Luke Wright

Luke Wright by Steve Ullathorne

One of performance poetry’s major voices. I first met Luke at a poetry slam in Bristol 13 years ago and in that time his career has gone stratospheric and as gravity-defying as his hair. A real professional and a must see.

Luke Wright writes bawdy bar room ballads about small town tragedies and Westminster rogues. His fast paced, witty poems are crammed full of yummy mummies, debauched Tory grandees, maudlin commuters and leering tabloid paps. His live shows are enjoyed by thousands of people across the world every year, where he mixes the wistful with the downright comic to take audiences on an incredible emotional journey.

Since 2006 he has written and performed eight one man shows, touring them to top literary and arts festivals from Australia to Scotland via Hong Kong and Bruges. His current show Stay-at-Home Dandy tours March – June 2015. In August 2015 he’ll be taking Stay-at-Home Dandy and What I Learned From Johnny Bevan to the Edinburgh Fringe. What I Learned From Johnny Bevan is Wright’s theatre debut and features a score by Ian Catskilken from Art Brut.

Luke’s debut collection – Mondeo Man – was published in 2013 by hip London imprint Penned in the Margins. George Szirtes said it was:
“Not only verbally substantial, skilful and very funny but also complex in its feeling.”

Ian McMillan described it as
“an excellent book.”

 

Sara Hirsch

Sara Hirsch

I haven’t had the privilege to see Sarah live yet, but if this poem is anything to go by, I can’t bloody wait. Witty, honest and impeccably performed.

Sara Hirsch is a London based performance poet known for her witty, accessible and heartfelt poetry which challenges the world around her, tells a story or simply entertains. A multiple Slam Winner (including Hammer and Tongue, Genesis and Nozslam) Sara was the 2013/14 UK Slam Champion, recently came third in the World Slam Championships in Paris and was a semi-finalist in the European Slam Championships 2014. She was also awarded the Farrago award for Best Slam Performance 2013 and was voted runner up in the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Finals last year.

Sara has performed across the Country including features at Richmix (Apples & Snakes), Hammer and Tongue, Pleasance Edinburgh, Southbank Centre, Larmer Tree Festival, MAC Birmingham, Brighton Dome and Nozstock, was the April poet in residence at Bang Said The Gun, recently appeared on BBC Radio 2 and performed live on the BBC At The Edinburgh Fringe with Anneka Rice. Sara also regularly hosts Hammer and Tongue Camden and since September proudly produces the Genesis Slam, London’s only regular 3 round slam.  She has also been known to write the odd Haiku, normally including a terrible pun.

Sara will be performing her debut solo show “How Was it For You?” at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer and will be featuring at a number of festivals including Nozstock and Larmer Tree. This is Sara’s first Glastonbury and she can’t wait to be knee deep in mud alongside some of her favourite performers and peers.

“A  master of brevity, fluidity and building tension.” Unpublishables

“Sara has the unique ability to flip the atmosphere in the room. Her work is sharply observant and her storytelling fluent and accessible.” Slate The Disco.

 

Scott Tyrrell

Scott Tyrrell by James Sebright

So this is me. Look at that serious fierce-looking face, completely belying the fact that I’m about as scary as a bag of Haribo.

So, I used to do standup comedy over 10 years ago when I lived in Manchester before getting married and becoming a dad. I live and work back home in Newcastle now as a graphic designer, poet and occasional illustrator of owls that look like famous authors. I’ve won 13 poetry slams around the UK and recently, the Great Northern Slam at Northern Stage and The Anti-Slam Apocalypse at the Roundhouse. I’ve also been a twice regional winner of BBC Radio 4’s poetry slam.

I’ve performed at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh fringe, the Prague Fringe, the Big Chill, Kendal Calling, the Larmer Tree festival and various literature festivals including Cheltenham. I’ll also be performing at Womad and the Lindisfarne festival later this year.

My first full collection ‘Grown Up’ was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2014 and is already well into its second print run. (I’m told this is pleasantly unusual for poetry books, but my publisher may be humouring me about that.) It’s also available on Kindle.

Nice review about me:
“I have been fortunate to perform alongside Scott on a few occasions at both Glastonbury and Larmer Tree festivals, and each time he has astounded the audience and left them simultaneously creased with laughter and wiping their eyes. Poignant, powerful and undoubtedly poetic” – Joelle Taylor

Nice review about ‘Grown Up’
“With ‘Grown Up’ Scott Tyrrell has shown himself to be both Big and Clever. It is every bit as accessible as you’d expect from a writer who has honed his craft in performance” – Matt Harvey

And this is a bit of me, and another bit of me.

 

Stay tuned. Some real legends on the way very soon…