The 2019 Glastonbury Poetry Slam!

Hosted by Brian McMahon Gallagher and Thunderclap Murphy,  the Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam kicks off as the final event of the weekend. And it’s clear from the get-go that we’re in experienced hands with the hosts.

They divide those who’ve signed up (and turned up) into two groups of six.

Group 1

Lisa Goodwin (“Runner up last time. Bard of Glastonbury”) lambasts those who leave plenties of trace at Glastonbury, gets straight into it: “someone will pick up the bits”. It’s feisty and crafted – I can see why she got so far last time. The crowd love it.

Liam Young (“I’m speechless”) – Liam Young of the Deviated Septums, never intended to do it, but some Glastonbury magic happened. It’s put out to all the people who never believed in him, hip-hop inflected but slower than that implies. Crowd more subdued, but still enthused

Sunny Jim (@_SunnyJim) (“Environmental Spoken Word”) reads from his phone – something he wrote specially for the occasion. Like Lisa’s, it’s an ode to the magic (and possibly the hypocrisy) of the Glastonbury culture and the possibility – not always picked up – to let go of the frantic nature of everyday life.

Amy Rainbow (“Very happy to be at Glastonbury”) – sharing a poem about one woman’s search for love. It’s clever, gentle, and manages to have an -ate rhyme at the end of every line – well, except the last one. I’m still chuckling (as are the rest of the crowd)… 🙂

Andria Walton (@AndrianaWalton1) (“Lergy (seriously?! poets have interesting writing!) sharing poetry and diversity”) – there’s always a war, and she talks about the history of man’s greed and pillaging, and a call to renew, regenerate, revive, and become sustainable (there’s a theme developing in this slam!)

While the judges are totting up scores, Brian reminds us that, “when great British institutions need hosts, they go Irish – Graham Norton, Terry Wogan, Dara O’Briain,” then gives us a poem about Dublin and toxic masculine culture, homophobia (internalised as well as more broadly cultural).

Aidan “Thunderclap” Murphy comes to the stage with “the all important scores from Group 1”: Liam Young in 2nd place and Lisa Goodwin in 1st place go through to the next round. The audience can vote for the audience prize for someone who should have gone further, in their opinion…

Martin Grey (@martin_grey_poet) (“Nottingham’s best poet from Guildford”) – gives us Dancefloor, an terpsichorean ode to the magic of a favourite nightclub and music and friends and how memories stay etched in sweat and chord progressions.

Torrey Shineman (@TorreyShine) (“Witty wordsmith from across the pond.”) – launches into “If you can’t be comfortable doing naked handstands in front of me, I don’t think this is going to work…” and it talks about body shame and pride and makes the most of gestures and body language (heh). The crowd very much dig it!

Sophie Shepherd (@sophherdpoem) – The A5204 – a tale of being run over by a commuter on a scooter in London, imagining that the commuter has worked hard and worked out that she’s a poet and his bitterness at not being able to get his drama out of his system with, you know, actual drama, leads him to only being able to express himself with rage.

Jason Butler (“Lyrical [indecipherable] lurid” – poets, please learn a wee bit penmanship!) – “Excuse the voice, I’ve been having it quite large this weekend!” and then sets into a poem about his dog chasing a bird. This seemingly innocuous tale (“know your limitations, dog, you can’t fly!”), turns out to be him talking to himself, stifling his own dreams. Metaphor, kids! Ooh, the crowd love that!

Carl Burkitt (@carlburkitt) – “This is, er, this is a breakup poem…” and it starts exactly like a classic “my heart is a brick made of pain” (that’s me, not him, by the way) poem, both in words and delivery and then it turns out it’s an ode of farewell for… his foreskin… I literally shriek with laughter, then continue to lose it (like the crowd) as he then takes us through his pain and then his happiness at discovering that foreskins aren’t all that. I couldn’t tell you any of the allusions as I was too busy losing any shred of cool I once possessed, a mess of sniggers.

Bertram: That Geezabird (“70% Skittles”) launches into their dancey rap Confusion, concluding that not only are they confused, but so is everyone they know and so are we. Fair point. Magically, the bass beat outside synchronises briefly with them. People start bopping to their driving rhythm, and send them off with cheer.

Now Brian gives us a poem about the Marriage Equality referendum in Ireland. It’s heartfelt and important, and – luckily – reflected in the reality of the good decision that Ireland made.

Aidan brings us the scores from Group 2 – 2nd place Carl Burkitt and 1st place Torrey Shineman go through to the final.

Oooooooh…! It’s all to play for! They now hand out sheets of paper so that the audience can write down who they liked who didn’t get through and why they should be given a special mention. It’s genial chaos and very Glastonbury. Paper there is aplenty, but few scribbling sticks. Brian has my pen; I’m keeping an eye on it…

Torrey Shineman kicks off the final with a dismissal of the dismissal of #MeToo conflating “serious and childish” events. She makes sure we know it’s all part of the same spectrum. It’s visceral and terrifying and “If you can’t feel the heat, maybe you’ve been in the kitchen too long and you think this warmth is normal” it grabs you in the chest and every inner part. The crowd love it.

Liam Young is next with an introduction that tells us that his parents encouraged him to join the RAF, and his dallying with student (drugs) culture, the poem is called Dropping Bombs Is Not The Answer. It’s about refugees, empathy, hypocrisy, and institutional lies – “Dropping bombs is not the answer, it’s like curing AIDS by spreading cancer.” The crowd love this too!

Carl Burkitt is next with a tribute to line in a Paul Simon song “he sees angels in the architecture” It’s called Forty-Nine Rubbish Lines I Would Probably Have Written Without Ever Getting To That Line If I’d Tried to Write You Can Call Me Al – I mean, probably; I lost it by then. It’s a litany of dreadful puns and alliteration combined. I’m weak again, as are the hosts and audience.

Lisa Goodwin finishes us off with a true story about a educational seminar talking about the trouble with children, lambasting the idea that we can ram people into boxes, cut off the bits that don’t fit from early on off “those opting out of the prospectus of correctness”. The crowd shriek for the joy of identifying with “children in chaos” and all the potential they bring.

Brian now takes to the stage to read out the reasons people listed as to why they wanted to hear more from/ particularly liked the performers. It turns out lots of people have terrible writing – not just poets. I’m going to see how many of them I can grab and post on here (on a later post – I’m keen to get on with my Festival!).

We’re running under time. Somehow. Again. So Brian draws some names of the people who didn’t get through to the final to read a second poem. We get Bertram: That Geezabird (a track about being a starving artist: Art), Amy Rainbow (a piece about being vegan, despite her clearly massive love for cheese: Intolerance), Jason Butler (a piece about love at first sight: The Penny Dropped), Martin Grey (a found poem from the website sponsorthisroundabout.com), Sophie Shepherd (a poem about her hairy legs: Your Beautiful Legs). Then they invite Scott to the stage to give a poem about his son, Toby (the lovely one about the doll: Snapping Back).

Talking of Toby, the hosts ask him to announce the prizes (which he does with extraordinary aplomb!) while Helen hands them over.

Joint 3rd are Carl Burkitt and Liam Young, which gets awkward, as the prize is a rosette, which is pinned to the pair of them…

2nd is Torrey Shineman

And the 2019 Glastonbury Poetry&Words Slam Champion, returning to the Festival next year, and taking away a gorgeous trophy, is Lisa Goodwin, who gives us a victory lap in the form of a piece outlining the transformation from a poet to a bard with the story of Gwion Bach (and, of course, Taliesin).

And that’s it! We’re done and dusted for the year, with a new Slam Champion, new friends, new memories, and some new life skills…!

Introducing: Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam, hosted by Brian McMahon Gallagher and Thunderclap Murphy


And to finish everything off is the famous Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam, 17:00-19:00 Sunday. If it’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

Important points the organisers would like you to note:

  • Sign ups are once the tent opens on site (11:30 Friday 28th). No early sign ups. Nope, not even for you!
  • Booked poets can’t perform in either this or the open mic, so this is a chance to air/ hear new voices.
  • 12 poets for sign up plus 3 reserves.
  • Poets don’t have to memorise poems, but memorisation will be credited.
  • If you’ve signed up for the competition, you must present yourself at the side stage by 16:50 on the day or you will lose your spot.
  • The five judges will be a cross section of poets/ musicians/ performance artists, with the weighting being on poets. i.e. 3 poets, 1 musician, 1 other performance type person.
  • The slam prizes are: a spot in next year’s programme, and an awesome unique trophy designed by Pete Hunter of Apples & Snakes (see photos above).

Brian MacMahon Gallagher and Thunderclap Murphy will be your hosts, and their decisions re: any of the above administrative points will be final.

Fay’s words:

I love me a slam. My first introduction to performance poetry that wasn’t in Welsh/ someone else’s words/ both was watching my brother, and other competitors, slam in what turned out to be one of the earliest UK slams in Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre in the mid-90s. Of course, competitive poetry recitation is something we Welsh had been doing for centuries (see Chairing of the Bard, and the modern Welsh Eisteddfodau tradition for examples – yes, 200 years old is the modern version…), but this was dynamic, and sharp, and immediate and – more importantly – democratic; each event’s bard chosen by the acclaim of the people.

Almost exactly three years after I moved to England to the day, I entered a slam for the first time, mostly as a favour to a friend. It was a bit of a turning point. Say what you like about slams (and I have), but they’re an amazing way into poetry for a lot of people – performers and punters. I’ve been running slams for {checks memory; whoa!} twelve years now, and am showing no signs of stopping. People bring something unique and adrenaline-fuelled to slams, and the audience gets very invested in the outcome. This year’s Glastonbury Poetry&Words Slam will be no exception, with a pretty amazing prize plus epic bragging rights. I’m looking forward more than I can say to the finale of this year’s Glastonbury Poetry&Words!

Introducing: Jackie Juno, 2017 Slam Winner

Jackie Juno
Back to perform with us is Jackie Juno, 16:35-17:00 Sunday. If she’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In her own words:

“Jackie Juno is primarily a comedic poet, known for her dynamic stage presence and outspoken views on matters political, environmental and social, somehow managing to make such subjects hilarious; but her material can also be tender, sensuous and confessional.

“She is the current Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam champion, and a multiple slam winner, including the Plymouth Literary Festival slam (2017) and the Green Gathering slam (2016). She was a contender in the National Poetry Slam Finals at the Albert Hall, 2018.

“She hosts ‘Outspoken!’ monthly Poetry Open Mic night in Chagford, Devon, and HOOT! Cabarets in various venues in Devon.

“She has performed her poetry at two TEDx Talks.

“She was chaired Bard of Exeter 2011-12 and Grand Bard 2012-19.

“She has been a finalist in many international poetry competitions, including Arvon, Writing Magazine and the Ledbury prize.”

Reviews:

‘Jackie Juno is the arts school, leopard skin wearing rock chick. Her poetry hits you like a slap in the face from a pink handbag. There is plenty to laugh out loud at here but underneath the swagger is a gentler sensibility that gives the performance a soft heart. Her observations of life are witty, poignant and full of social message.’
Lucy English, Performance poet and novelist

‘Jackie Juno’s voice will boogie, shimmy and sashay its way into your head – her words are hellbent and irresistible: listen up!’
Chris Waters, Poet, Through a Glass, Lately, (Mudlark 2014)

‘Jackie is warm and witty, frank and feisty, but above all, very very funny.’
Matt Harvey, Poet (Radio 4)

Fay’s words:

I’ve only seen Jackie perform once, to my memory – at the Hammer & Tongue National Final about 18 months ago. Since I’m usually locked into scoring and timing (and updating the presentation), poetry details tend to slide, but she made an impression that’s stuck with me. I remember properly laughing for possibly the first time that day, and feeling somewhat refreshed by her unique presence. Surfing YouTube serves to remind me why: Jackie occupies a different mould from the standard (London, under 25s) “slam voice”, and she manages that difficult task of hiding important things to say in comedy rhyming verse. (Don’t get me wrong: the London slam scene is vibrant, exciting, and important, and some of my favourite poets – and people – are part of it, but poetry’s a broad church, and it always feels to me like gaining an important nutritional element when I see and hear something different at a slam!) She also has a deceptively light voice that is actually a rich and confident alto. Her stage presence is commanding and assured, and she is very easy to listen to (in the best way!). Looking forward to seeing her make a triumphant return to Glastonbury Poetry&Words as a result of winning the GP&W 2017 slam.

Sneak preview:

Today is Sunday, today is like creamy mud

 

Satisfyingly exhausting.

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

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

– Embrace the mud – Jesus was born in it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scott Tyrrell

 

The full line up

Full line up

 

Deanna.xx.

So close I can smell the leaves – Headlines and Hosts

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

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

Michael Rosen

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

Sunday 14.00

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

 

John Hegley

John Hegley

Saturday 18.05

Mr Hegley was born in Newington Green, North London, and was educated in Luton, Bristol and Bradford University.  His first public performance monies came from busking his songs, initially outside a shoeshop in Hull, in the late Seventies. He performed on the streets of London in the early Eighties, fronting the Popticians, with whom he also recorded two sessions for John Peel, and has since been a frequent performer of his words, sung and spoken, on both local and national radio.

He has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces, two CDs and one mug, but his largest source of income is from stages on his native island. An Edinburgh Festival regular, he is noted for his exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and the misery of human existence.  He is an occasional DJ, dancer and workshop leader, using drawing, poetry and gesture. He has been awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts from what is now the University of Bedfordshire, and once performed in a women’s prison in Columbia.

The Fugitives

Fugitives1

Friday 18.00

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

www.fugitives.ca

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

www.brendanmcleod.ca / www.fugitives.ca

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

 

 More about the hosts

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

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

dreadlockalienBirmingham Poet Laureate 2005, Dreadlockalien wanders the world saying poems to people, living a project called Poet Without Residence.  He co-hosts Glastonbury’s Poetry&Words stage and Shambala’s Wandering Word. Dreadlockalien is a trustee of the Green Gathering Charity, fighting for our planet.

Featured Artist: Hollie McNish

Hm_trophy

 

We’ve decided to interview some of our past performers to find out what they’re up to now, hear about their enduring memories of the festival and whet your appetite for the new Poetry&Words  line up in 2013.  Here’s an interview with the first of our featured artists – Hollie McNish.  (Photo by Gary Death.)

 

What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
I have been invited to perform once at Poetry and Words. I entered and won the Glastonbury Slam during that time. The prize was to perform at the next year’s festival, so I got to go again. Was pretty damn chuffed. On the way to the festival that year I found out I was pregnant and spent three days with morning sickness in a single tent wandering around in a haze and trying not to be ill on stage. I didn’t want to tell my partner over the phone so had three very strange, surreal and amazing days! But I definitely have a special relationship to the festival now!

 

Ed: Hollie also contributed to the BBC Radio 4 show, Glastonbury Poetry Diaries, while she was on site with us in 2010.

 

If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
A Poetry Pocket

 

How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
It is not what you expect – unless you only stay in the main areas. Glastonbury is one of the most diverse festivals there is. You can spend 3 days getting massages and healings in the Green fields or completely mashed in the dance arenas. I reckon a balance is good. There is so much more to the festival than you can ever imagine and instead of sticking to the areas you know, you should explore it all. Take a two hour break to just walk around and find stuff. Like the Poetry and Words Stage. It’s right at the end. Next to the most amazing areas, like Green Fields and Arcadia. Arcadia. Arcadia. I’ll say it once more. Go to Arcadia! Fire bass monsters.

 

Can you name two other poets who you admire?
My current favorite poets to watch are Keith Jarrett and Dan Cockrill (of Bang Said the Gun). I like them because they talk to you. They don’t shout at you. I like poets that shout too but right now, I’m leaning on the side of talking with quiet passion. I’m trying to stop shouting so much myself. I don’t shout off stage at all so not sure why I always seem to start on stage!

 

What kinds of things inspire you to write?

I think, honestly, mainly, newspaper articles, adverts, magazines, studies, my daughter and food. I’m not so deep! I’m quite easily inspired to write, generally when I don’t have enough space inside me to fit the aggravation some things cause me, or, on the other side, the love and amazement. I like to get them both off my chest or I feel overwhelmed by things a lot of the time. The world is so messed up and so amazing all at once.

 

Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?

On a public bus in Paris banlieue at rush hour. I had to do it for a festival to ‘include the town’, which is good in theory, except I think some people genuinely do not want poetry on their bus to work and that perhaps sometimes poets forget that! I finished one poem and an old man tapped me on the back and said, “merci, je n’ai rien compris, mais merci. (Thanks, I didn’t understand a word but thanks). That made up for it a bit!

 

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on how to balance an amazing toddler, sleepless nights, relationship, day job and a growing amount of poetry work! But in terms of poetry, a few things at the mo. I’m developing a set of poems into a show called ‘Something we don’t talk about’ with Battersea Arts Centre, being shown on November 23rd and 24th for the first time. I’m also working on putting together a lot of my poems into another set about immigration, emigration and scones. I’m project managing a Walking Tour of Cambridge, looking at the history of women through poetry, photography, art and architecture. That’s with my day job. I work at an Architecture Centre. Apart from that, I’m still writing a lot, some for kids now, and just wondering what to do with it all other than save it on my computer and leave it there!

 

What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
Je mange. Can we use other languages cos that works well? Je mange // une orange!

 

Can we have a poem please?

Here is one I wrote at Glastonbury, which might be most relevant. The video also shows the greener side of the festival which some might miss. Hope you enjoy it x

 

Where can we find out more about your work?

I have finally set up a website, here… www.holliemcnish.com.