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!)

Magical, Musical Poetry Preview

We were invited to join Tongue Fu at The Ancient Futures stage in the Tipi Field tonight. Fronted and formed into gloriously chaotic improvisational poetry goodness by Chris Redmond, a band makes magic out of already magnificent poetry. It’s never sounded like this, and it will never be the same again.First up of our poets: Paula Varjack, with typically cabaret-vibe élan, two pieces about the dangers of dating artists, and the perilous duality of bisexual, femme identity.Next up: our illustrator Scott Tyrrell with a cautionary tale about intimacy in the context of family life (the piece that, incidentally, got him into the final round of the BBC EdFringe Slam final (which he the won, obviously). Brace yourselves.Then, after an anecdote-song by the host about cannibalistic children (don’t ask), I got up to do my bilingual poem Stroke, but I have no evidence, so you’ll have to take my word for it.Next up the pugilistic compassion of our Poet-in-Residence Vanessa Kisuule, giving us her Malleable Manifesto – a way to live, or not, recognising your own divinity.The band expands, shimmying from Vanessa’s instruction to emulate James Brown looking out of the window into an extended riff as as a trumpet joins the line-up, beckoning our current slam champion Jackie Juno to the stage with a poem about how the universe birthed the world with a word – fitting the particular décor of the yurt and elevating it into magic.Chris then summons long-time co-creative-conspirator Liv Torc to deliver that extraordinary piece about three generations and the impact of truth and hope (as if accompanied by the band on the Titanic).Chris exhorts the crowd to our feet so we can join in the chorus to his song about us all rowing the same boat, along a similar theme of environmental responsibility, dedicated to Liv, then keeping us there for one more song, decrying the spying capabilities of social media (we all chant “Who’s telling me what?!”). A banging evening, a chance to get to know – and watch live finally – some of the other poets, and a great warm-up for the rest of the weekend!

Interview with Paula Varjack

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

Paula Varjack by Scott Tyrrell

Paula Varjack by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Paula Varjack

Website

http://www.paulavarjack.com/

Twitter handle

@paulavarjack

Instagram handle

@paulavarjack

Video

Audio

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/paulavarjackartist/

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

I was booked to do a cabaret gig on my 30th birthday, and decided to create a spoken word set for it

Who are your influences/ idols?

Yoko Ono, Maggie Estep, Sophie Calle, Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley, Dorothy Parker

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

Prepare to be Varjacked…

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

Just dive in

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

Wu-Tang Klan, Janet Jackson, Janelle Monae, Stormzy, Kylie, Tame Impala (but not necessarily in that order

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

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

There are too many! Most of my favourite ever live music performances: Beyonce, Kanye, Radiohead, James Blake, Hot Chip, but maybe one of my fave memories was walking into the sisterhood in shangri-la for the first time. An oasis of a woman only space.

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

Glitter, lots of unitards, rubber boots for the rain

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

You will probably wish you packed something, and wonder why you packed something

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

Yes

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

I have no distinct performance memory really. Partly because I am lucky to have performed and hosted there 4 or 5 ? times and it’s all a bit of a beautiful blur!

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

Go in open with no expectation, and just enjoy it.

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

spoken word, live literature, performance art, theatre, multidisciplinary entertainment, random words in a random order

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

the liveness of it

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I can’t wait !


You can see Paula Varjack at 15:35-16:00 Friday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about her here.

Introducing: Paula Varjack

Paula Varjack by hannes frueh 02
Back to perform with us is Paula Varjack, 15:35-16:00 Friday . If she’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In her own words:

“Paula Varjack is an artist working in video, performance and participation. Her work explores identity, community, and making the invisible visible. Her latest show ‘The Cult of K*NZO’, a playful critique of consumer culture and high fashion is currently touring. She is also in early stages of developing #thebabyquestion with performers Luca Rutherford & Catriona James & dramaturg Maddy Costa, exploring the inevitability of ‘the baby question’ on women, regardless of age. Born in Washington D.C. to a Ghanaian mother and a British father, out of many cities she has lived she considers east London to be ‘home’.”

Fay’s words:

Like many of the artists I know, the first time I saw Paula perform was at Edinburgh Fringe, taking part in the BBC EdFringe Slam and competing with her now-classic “Dear Straight Girl” piece. Since then I’ve shared a few stages with her, from Other Voices, pretty much every year we’ve had it, to her glorious import from Germany – notorious competition/ showcase/ much-needed balm for the soul and uniter of spoken word scenes: The Anti-Slam, where the worst poet “wins”. Paula has a talent for bringing the cringe, the things people think but don’t want to say, the horrible anecdotes of microaggression, and leaning right into that discomfort. I’m probably not explaining this very well. Okay. She uses incredible delivery and stagecraft along with a wicked precision of language to simultaneously lampoon and decry power structures in our society. I’ve seen her take on racism, sexism, homophobia, the complex nuances of chosen and bestowed identity, and the way art is valued and devalued in one breath by those with the money. Everything that is wrong with our consumerist kyriarchy gets ruthlessly highlighted and deconstructed, and she’s still managing to make you laugh even as you have one profound revelation after another. And she’s one of the most burlesque poets I know, still, using costume and prop and music and pose with finesse to highlight all of this. Will this encapsulation suffice? For the moment, it will have to…

Sneak preview:

Meet your Glastonbury 2015 Poetry Slam hosts – Varjack & Simpson

I caught up with Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson in London last week at the Anti-Slam Apocalypse to ask them about their partnership, their quirky projects and their plans for the hallowed Glastonbury Slam…

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The two of you have becoming quite a formidable creative partnership. How did poets of such wildly different styles end up working together?

Paula: I first met Dan at a gig where he was performing and I was hosting. I won’t give any details about the event other than it was a very strange format and all a bit awkward. At the break Dan and I bonded over how weird a gig it was, and how much we liked what the other was doing. It was then we realised he had performed at the second London Anti-Slam, the only one I had missed. I was excited about his enthusiasm for it and approached him after to co-produce it.

Dan: So then Paula asked me to help organise and co-host one year, and we got on really well on- and off-stage and it went from there. Our working styles and what we like making are quite similar – stuff that’s super fun for audiences to watch and, challenges performers in an interesting way.

One of your best known endeavours as a team has been the Anti-Slam. Whose idea was that, and how did it come about?

Paula: In 2009 I was living in Berlin and very much a part of the Slam scene there, and had links to the English language comedy scene that had begun to develop. I wanted to create an event where all of the performers from these artform and language divisions could participate. I was getting tired of the competition element of poetry slam. Not long after thinking all this, I went on a trip to Chicago & New York (a kind of pilgrimage to the early homes of poetry slam) and saw this performance by Jamie De Wolf at the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe that blew me away:

When I returned to Berlin I was inspired to create an “anti-slam” – a piss-take of a poetry slam, where I would programme those poets and comedians. By challenging everyone to do their worst, no one cared about the competition element. Because it was all so ridiculous, and it kept to the 3 minute time limit, it meant that audiences could enjoy performances despite the language differences.

European friends heard about it, so events ended up happening in Warsaw, Cologne, Turin, Sardenia – and even Sydney. I then went on to co-host it in Berlin with the Godfather of the Berlin slam scene Wolf Hogekamp for four years. Ray Antrobus visited me and helped me bring the first one to London, then Dan came on board! We now have events happening in 8 cities in the UK. It has become a brilliant Valentines event that sells out every year, and we have our Apocalypse – a national Anti-Slam final – and we’re keen to keep adding cities every year. I think one of my favourite things about it is how each city brings its own energy and helps revise the format.

Having had the privilege of participating in the Anti-Slam this year I found it hugely liberating to purposefully write bad poetry, particularly having had to sit through quite a few gigs over the last 15 years that have been strewn liberally with it. Have your other participants felt similarly liberated by the Anti-Slam format?

Dan: we get that response a lot! It’s a nice combination of challenge and liberation for excellent and established performers to engage with their bad side – but to do that entertainingly! As a gig organiser and host, as well as a performer, you do see a lot of genuinely “bad” writing and performers on the circuit – so The Anti-Slam certainly serves to perhaps relieve a bit of tension about that!

Paula: Yeah – I think there is so much that can be cathartic and liberating about it. It allows you to get one back at all the awful pieces and people you have contended with on the open mic and slam circuit. More importantly it enables you to harness the inner critic that respond directly to it. Something about this opens the floodgates of all kinds of shades of creativity. I think its about taking your fears of everything you try to avoid and going into it willingly, rather than being blocked by it.

You’ve been charged with running the revered Glastonbury Poetry Slam this year and the quality is always pretty damn high. Winners in the past have included now-massive poets like Hollie McNish and Luke Wright. Nervous? 

Dan: I love hosting regular, non-Anti slams too! It’s an honour to be asked, and always interesting to see who does well at these things. Not too many nerves – hosting is supposed to be the invisible foundations that the slammers can build their 3 minutes of stage time on!

Paula: I think the Slam is one of the nicest things that happen over the weekend. It always draws a nice mix of emerging poets and poets very very new to performance. I think the fact that the winner gets a set next year and a ticket to the festival really adds to the energy of it. It’s such a great way to get new voices on board so I am super excited about hosting it. I have hosted the Poetry and Words stage at Glastonbury before, many Anti-Slams with Dan, and also monthly host at Hammer & Tongue Hackney – so no nerves, I am only looking forward to it.

Tell us about your other projects like the Fail Better Podcast and Poetry Goes Pop!

Paula: In Fail Better we chat to two artists about their most interesting failures – usually something like messing up a gig in an epic way! We also look at fails of the month, and a current pop song that has terrible lyrics. It follows on from The Anti-Slam a bit – we both like the idea of failure and what we can do with it. I think embracing failure, rather than being ashamed of it, is fantastic for creativity. As much as I want my work to be polished, I am constantly reminding myself that I connect to other artists when they show their vulnerability. I also love interviewing people, and am obsessed with artists’ process, so the show is this great excuse to have conversations with artists I love and respect. I like them especially as they come on the show because they are as interested in the theme as Dan and I are and tell the most engaging stories.  We get lovely guests on the show every time.

Dan: Poetry Goes Pop! is a spoken word comedy panel show where we mash up pop culture and poetry. We play silly games like Poetry Karaoke – singing a poem to the tune of a popular song and Pop to Poem – turning bad pop lyrics into a serious performance of poetry. Like this!

Both of you have performed before at Glastonbury, independently. Can you share your weirdest moment(s)?

Dan: The giant mechanical spider. Every festival should have a giant mechanical spider.

Paula: Oh this is hard, I’ve had so many! My top 3 in no particular order are

1. Walking in and out of the Miniscule of Sound.

2. Finding the secret room behind the room down the rabbit hole.

3. A live art piece of a group of pregnant woman walking in a hazy daze through the fields. At least I think it was live art…

Finally, what advice would you give to potential Glastonbury slammers this year?

Dan: Don’t be intimidated by the setting – Paula and I will make it really fun and friendly! And don’t worry too much about the competition element – winning is awesome, but the best thing a slam can do is make you simply want to perform your work as well as possible.

Paula: Yeah what Dan said. I think my advice generally to anyone who is performing in any slam, regardless of whether they want to win or not is the same: Be the most you that you can possibly be. Perform with your own unique energy – the piece that is most distinctly the way you write and about what you are interested in. That more than anything is what audiences respond to. You can’t compete with anything else. Also remember scoring poems with numbers is always going to be at least a little bit arbitrary. Personal or Fantastical, Political or Silly, Lyrical or Monologue – just be super you.

The Glastonbury Poetry Slam will take place on Sunday 28th at 5pm at the Poetry&Words tent. If you wish to sign up for either the Poetry Slam or an Open Mic spot (which takes place Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) come as early as possible to the Poetry&Words tent and approach one of the MC’s to put your name down.

More interviews on the way…

Scott 🙂

 

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 🙂

I trust I can rely on your poets?

It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? Huge elation for some and crushing bewilderment for others, but Poetry&Words is standing on its soap box to welcome the next five eminently electable and delectable poets appearing in a big top in Somerset in late June. Be you left, right, ecstatic or sitting in a darkened room picturing imminent armageddon, this batch will show you manifestos that every poetry lover can get behind…

Dan Simpson

Dan Simpson

A top poet. A top bloke. I had the pleasure of performing with Dan at the Larmer Tree festival a few years ago. His warm, affable, utterly likeable delivery perfectly compliments his razor sharp writing and observation.

As well being a poet he’s also a regular compere. His poetry deals with love and literature, science and stars, people and Pac-Man: all that good geeky stuff. He was Canterbury Laureate 2013-14, and has worked on literature projects for Southbank Centre, Royal Academy of Arts, and National Museum of Scotland. His first collection of poetry is Applied Mathematics, published by Burning Eye Books, and his poems have featured on the BBC and London Underground. As an educator, Dan delivers poetry workshops in schools and for adults, most recently as a Poet Coach for Apples and Snakes’ youth slam project Spoke ‘n’ Word. Dan has performed at major festivals, events, and venues around the UK, including: The National Theatre, Roundhouse, and BBC Radio. He also performed (poetry) at both a hen party and a death metal gig, and is unharmed.

“charmingly geeky” (The Scotsman)
@dansimpsonpoet

 

Paula Varjack

Paula Varjack

A powerful, subversive, unstoppable, sassy poet I’ve had the pleasure of performing with several times.

Paula Varjack is an artist and creative producer.  Trained in filmmaking and performance, she works across theatre, documentary and spoken word. Her work explores identity, our desire for connection, and our relationship with cities.  She is currently developing “Show Me The Money” a solo performance on the relationships artists have with fees and funding. She has performed at numerous arts festivals and cultural spaces including: The V&A, Richmix, Wilton’s Music Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, Glastonbury Festival, Berlin International Literature Festival,  and The Photographer’s Gallery.

I’ll be interviewing both Paula and Dan Simpson about their creative partnership (including the hosting the Glastonbury Poetry Slam) in a future blog!

 

Erin Bolens

Erin Bolens

Meet last year’s Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champ. Bubbling with wit, energy, great writing and a flawless performance. And I should know, I was one of the judges last year.

Erin had only been performing for several months when she won The Glastonbury Poetry Slam in 2014. Originally from Leeds, Erin currently lives in London where she has been performing and writing regularly over the last year. She is also the co-founder of Culture Cake, a new event that promotes emerging performers of poetry, comedy and music. She says that Glastonbury was definitely a tipping point that allowed her to dive into a world of words and she is very appreciative of such a glorious and rare opportunity. Erin has attended the festival since she was seven so is particularly excited to be performing somewhere that has been such a big part of her life.

“Fun, rhythmical and welcoming. Extremely comfortable but not so confident you want to punch her.” – Char March, poet

 

The Antipoet

Antipoet1

I love these guys – funny, ranty, anarchic, silly and tight as the proverbial gnat’s derrière. One of their more dodgier songs I couldn’t get out of my head for days last year. They’ll be doing the warm-up shows at Poetry& Words in June, and I can’t think of anyone better for pulling a crowd into a tent.

The Antipoet, Paul Eccentric and Ian Newman, are together the world’s finest exponents of beatrantin’ rhythm ‘n views!  A delicious mixture of comedy and spoken word. They have tirelessly toured the poetry, comedy and music circuits, and have appeared at countless festivals including, Glastonbury, Edinburgh, Brighton, Ledbury, Camden, Wenlock, Larmer Tree, Nostock, Blyth Power Ashes and Buxton.

“Really, really ace! I like what you do” -Ray Peacock, comedian, FUBAR Radio February 2015
“I might not agree with the sentiment, but you said it well” -The Mayor of Milton Keynes, January 2015
“The Antipoet: Funny-arse Fuckers!” -Mama Tokus, Apples and Snakes, December 2014
“It was lovely to corrupt the festival with you” –Helen Gregory, Poetry&Words, Glastonbury June 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF2FOTKarpc 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQgDWzbwo3o

 

Attila the Stockbroker

Attila

Let’s face it, Glastonbury wouldn’t be Glastonbury without Attila. A stalwart of Poetry&Words for many years. A massive force for aggressive good and guaranteed to pack out the tent. So get a patch of hessian mat early if you want to feel angry, elated and fired up to change the world.

Attila the Stockbroker: ‘Arguments Yard’ is the autobiography of Attila the Stockbroker. Published Sept 8 2015 – the 35th anniversary of Attila’s first gig…

Launched into public consciousness by legendary Radio One DJ John Peel in 1982/83, Attila the Stockbroker has spent 35 years touring the world as a self sustaining  DIY one man cottage industry, performing well over 3000 gigs in 24 countries and releasing about 20 LPs/CDs, 10 EPs and 7 books of poetry.

He toured East Germany 4 times before the Wall came down and twice more immediately afterwards, was involved in the first ever punk performance in Stalinist Albania and had to turn down playing in North Korea because he was already booked to tour sensible old Canada. He once stood in for Donny Osmond at a gig. He was targeted by fascists during the early Eighties and as well as the physical stuff once had a 10 minute stand up political argument with notorious Nazi band Skrewdriver singer Ian Stuart in the middle of a Black Flag gig at the 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street.

Having got an encore as the support act, he was thrown out of his own gig by the bouncers on the orders of the main act John Cale, one of his all time musical heroes. His support acts? They’ve included Manic Street Preachers, Julian Clary, New Model Army and Billy Bragg.  And in the early 80s the incredibly influential Radio One DJ Steve Lamacq was his roadie for a while.

He has led his ‘medieval punk’ band Barnstormer for 20 years as well as the solo stuff – but he did his first ever punk gig as bass player in Brighton Riot Squad in 1977 in Brighton’s legendary Vault, where coffins and skeletons from nineteenth century Huguenot plague victims kept coming through the walls.
Reviewing his first album in the NME, Don Watson said that he would rather gnaw through his own arm than listen to it again! Didn’t deter Attila though: that was 32 years ago. Didn’t deter New Zealand either: when he arrived for his first tour in 1991 both national TV channels were waiting to greet him at the airport.  And when Attila argues with a journalist he knows the score because he is one too, having written for NME, Sounds, Time Out, The Guardian and The Independent among others. He currently does a regular column in the Morning Star.

This book is social history and personal story combined: a cultural activist’s eyewitness journey through the great political battles and movements of recent times. Rock Against Racism/Anti Nazi League, Miners’ Strike, Wapping dispute, Red Wedge, Poll Tax, campaigns against two Gulf Wars. There are memoirs from all over the UK and mainland Europe and his many tours of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, and the centrepiece of the book is the story of his time performing all over East Germany as the campaign for democratic socialist change grew: history observed at first hand.

Back home he had done every Glastonbury Festival since 1983 and organizes his own beer/music extravaganza. Glastonwick, in his native West Sussex. He was at the heart of a 15 year campaign to save his beloved Brighton & Hove Albion FC from oblivion. And he tells of a happy childhood ripped apart by his father’s death  and, forty years later, of  how he and his wife nursed his mother through a 6 year battle with Alzheimer’s.

Above all, though, his message is a simple one:  you don’t need to be ‘a celebrity’ to have a wonderful life earning your living doing what you love. You just have to have a way with words, the self-confidence and organizational ability of Napoleon and a skin thicker than the armour of a Chieftain tank.

The next batch of wunderwordsmiths are coming soon…

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

 

“I like writing because writing is like talking” part 2

 

Jonny Fluffypunk

With his frank introduction, “stand up poet, give up guitarist I decided that whatever this man says, I am going to trust… heres a spell I think we should all memorise and deconstruct at Stone Circle at sun rise

 

Coffee let me smell you

Coffee let me spell you

 

Come alive with your hot kiss

Oh so much better than tea

F(th)ree cups before night

Fuck tea

Energy giver

Essence of space travel condensed into beverage form

Jonny Fluffypunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly Case

She stood naked in front of the Queen before she really met her, well that is certainly one way to get over nerves!

Here are some tips I garnered from her poetry set

 

Look up once in a while, take a look at the stars

Sit still ‘silent as an oak’

Nurse the nation, do more, be more it will be the hardest thing you would have done, financially, spiritually and physically but remember all the other arches you’ve walked under. Remember the  thunder that broke

Molly Case3

 

 

Stephen James Smith

As it was his first time here at Glastonbury, he decided to break his Glasto virginity with a  poem about losing his actual real V with Anya; the celtic goddess of love.

One of my favourites to listen to and watch. His eyes closed during his poem to his mother was what poetry is at its most precious form, words that release the valve of all the things we need to say.

What is left to say is that he also hosted a great open mic to a packed tent, while the sun was shining! Here are a few bits I heard and wrote down:

 

Louise Loudspeaker

Dove of peace

Higher laws of justice

Man kind should live kind

To buy ourselves back from the open prison of the nation state it doesn’t come cheap

 

The Don

Things we can get funding for

Want a revolution but can’t get the funding

But don’t fit the criteria

Find your natural way

 

Eric Dickson

On the other side of the door

Watch grass grow

Don’t say goodbye to your senses

Green fields to brown

Grey skies to sunsets

Strangers are no stranger than yourself

Naked ground is steady it will hold us

Roll in the mud and wash yourself clean

Love life, live it together

 

Jack Bridgwater

Diary of a Glastonbury tower watcher

6.41

Heard a rustle thought is was  a … Oh it’s a squirrel

Repeat every hour

 

Lord Trotsky

Traits of the Festival bastard: Certain people you will meet at festivals that you may not want to meet

1. Bash you out the way with their Novelty hat

2. Shout through all the things you want to listen to

3. Pass wind next to you at breakfast

4. Passed out asleep with trousers down

5. Play drums at three in the morning

6. Chill out it’s a festival I’m only pissing on your tent

IMG_20140626_202843

 

Slam on Sunday.

Sign up and be in so a chance of securing your very own slot at Glastonbury 2015

“I like writing because writing is like talking” part 1

A direct quote from the gorgeous Paula Varjack, compere of the poetry and words stage. If those words aren’t enough to tempt you away from your small, wet tent then read on cos these poets are where all your unanswered questions about why the ‘f’ we plonk ourselves in fields and roam the caged land, and what we should do with this no time we have brought/sold our performance for

Paula Varjack

Festival tips from their lips*

*And through my ears and down my pen

Chris Redmond

What a gent, delivered a most generous welcome to Glastonbury 2014, to the signers that translate our poetry with their bodies, gave a few festival tips you shouldn’t do:

–  Speed before breakfast*

–  Keep your eggs with your bacon and your poo in your eye

–  Shop in mountain warehouse for trousers

–  Get naked to take the bin out

And one that you, DEFINITELY SHOULD do:

–  Let the pig out = dancing like your body is telling the intricate story of each sound.

 See Chris again on Saturday 13.50

* Poem called Speed brilliantly kept up with by Catherine, the sign language interpreter.

Chris Redmond

 

Jess Green 

Took the reins from Chris and steered us in to an honest account of her school staff room. Seeing the system we put young people through from the other way here are some tips on how to not be a dick to young people, people in general.

–  If someone is clearly engrossed in a book, let them live in that world for a bit

–  If you are desperate for a revolution you probably should lay off the dugs so that you can not only imagine, but action that desire.

– Know the words you wish to say and save enough breath for them

and one specific and quite useful hustle to keep in mind for all festival glory:

– If you have run out of money and need a chai tea fast… Charge people 50p to look at your tattoos*

*if you don’t have tattoos fear not, a smiley face and friendly tone will get you many gifts, if not of chai then definitely of happiness

See Jess again on Sunday 12.50

Jess Green

Andy Craven-Griffiths

Tim whoever you are you are a great man. Thanks for helping Andy, he has transferred that energy into these superb ideas*

*He may have had them before but you gave them a great context.

3 ideas to have fun with this festival

1. Philosophise until you feel how good it feels to be good

–    Label every picture a song

–    Picture frog eyes on your wellies and stare into both of the eyes at once

 

2. Find the power in the context

–    See what you are in, how you treat it

–    Stay and face the world even if you are bricking it

 

3. Emotion is contagious

–    Send emotions like tweets

–    Use each other as our mirrors

 

Fourth overall/general rule/tip/suggestion/exploration:

Find your joyganaut

Watch Andy flaunt his Joyganaut on Saturday 14.15

 

Sally Jenkinson

However big you think you are don’t sell out the stars in your belly

Eating is to keep yourself going to have a nice life; not a reward or punishment

Forgive for yourself – your mates lose you you lose the who cares forgive choose to be happy, dance until you wobble arm in arm across drunken campsites

Come along shout Sally’s name, she will appear and you can take her home in a book (buy buy buy)

 

Raymond Antrobus

Stand stock still in the middle of a busy junction and wonder why normal equals perfection.

 

Collaborate spontaneously and with your heart.

Discover how to speak with your body, how sound is touch.

Watch this man on Sunday 15.20

 

Antosh Wojcik

This guy is brilliant, here is are several slithers of his wisdom, stitched together:

– Wave to people who wave to you too

– Check out the skies ammunition

– Dance like volcanoes as if your sleeping bag has insomnia

– Drink a dirt of strongbow and grow an arrow in your stomach

– Shake the piss off your penis

and even an exit strategy:

– When relocating from tent to home pray for a black hole then find one, a real one.. A bin

– Say goodbye to your ground, remember how your body moulded with the earth and say Thank You.

Come come come see him on Sunday at 12.00.

 

Aisling Farhey

Reminded us to return sentiments, if someone helps you out here in these fields then pass that good deed on

If you find that suddenly you can see the whole would dancing but can’t hear the music, don’t believe the person that tells you there is no more music left, here is where there can be no mirrors, no eyes, just hearts. Stomping (wading).

And if all else fails know the love, food and water won’t.

Come here more from this gifted poet’s mouth Saturday 17.15