By way of a twenty-first century introduction/disclaimer, let me say, "Technology is not your friend, girlfriend!" I now know that mobile phones will not need medicinal cannabis because they die swiftly. Usually, I'm an analogue guy and I take handwritten notes while doing a review, but my excuse is that it was Mother's Day and, in dashing from engagement to engagement, I forgot my pen and paper. No worries, thought I, I'll just take notes on my phone. My phone had been using charge quickly in the preceding couple of days, but it went from a sniffle on a Sunday to full-blown terminal pneumonia on Monday.
Dear reader, I hear you say:" What has this all got to do with me?" But bear with me as I recreate Luke Wright's performance from that dark and lonely place I call my mind.
Wright opened his performance by explaining that he was interested in history, but all he had been taught at school was about the Tudor era and the Nazis. So he knew all about "Hitler's six wives", but, in adulthood, he had become fascinated with the Georgian period of English history. Wright posited his theory that the Georgian era, so named because of a succession of four kings called George in that period, laid the foundations of the modern English empire. Wright told the audience about broadsides which were cheaply-produced printed sheets, affordable to the masses. These often conveyed news and gossip in a ballad form. He said that he often liked to create and write his poetry within forms. He claimed this was because he didn't have a great imagination, but this was not in evidence throughout his performance.
Wright opened his show with a rollicking performance of a modernised broadside The Ballad of Edward Dando, which told the true tale of an aspirational hatter's apprentice who, fed up with being working class, lusted after the finer things of life and became an oyster gourmandiser. Alas, poor Edward's strategy was to eat massive amounts of oysters and then tell the shop owner he could not pay. This led to many savage beatings and a number of stints in jail.
Along with some superb and very funny poetry, Wright regaled us with plenty of poetry history and factoids. He talked about a French poetry movement who set themselves up in opposition to the Surrealist poets who were prominent at the time. To rail against the Surrealists' flights of poetic fancy, they advocated form, form and more form. One of the forms they favoured which was extremely restrictive was the Univocal, a poem that could only use one vowel and no "y" as it could double as a vowel sound. He read one of his Univocal poems called Ron's Knockoff Shop, a tale of two hipsters from London who visit Bolton and go crazy buying what is sometimes termed "tat" (think $2 Shop). In this poem, Wright only used the vowel "o".
Wright, who originally hailed from Essex, then read his poem, Essex Lion. This was a tale, written in the Essex vernacular, about a news story in the English summer "silly season" about some campers in Clacton-on-Sea who claimed they saw a lion roaming about.
Luke regaled us with some excellent monologues as well as poems. Having attended an all-boys school, he told us his nickname there had been "The Big Gayface". He objected to "the" in his nickname because he thought just "Gayface" sounded vaguely cool. Anyone uncool at his school was often referred to as a "Benny". A military friend told him this name was also used by the English soldiers as a nickname for Falklands islanders during the Falklands War.
He also read The Other Poet, about a poet who had won an important prize and who listed his occupation as a "professional forager". Hailing a Cab was a fond reminiscence of his Dad who worked in London. To balance the familial scales, Wright read a poem about his Mum called Mother Tongue. Other personal poems included I Need a Piece of Quiet written about his 10-year-old son, Aidan, who has autism and had misheard a phrase his parents often used. He followed with a poem about his divorce. Monster was about the person he became when he drank.
The last segment of his show addressed topical issues facing Britain. Houses that used to be Boozers bemoaned the disappearance of many local pubs. He related an amusing story of how Roger Eno, composer and brother of avant-garde musician, Brian Eno, introduced him to Brian one evening in a curry restaurant in Bungay, the town in Suffolk where Wright currently resides. He was disappointed to observe that Brian Eno ordered a korma curry since he thought Brian would eat something far more "out there".
He followed up his earlier Univocal poem effort with a Univocal employing only the much more difficult vowel to use, "u". He gave an R18 warning for this poem, Up Pub Burt, which was about a bogan/chav breakup in a pub which culminates in Burt having anal sex with the mother of Burt's ex, Ruth.
Wright concluded his show with two impassioned poems about English society and identity called Embrace the Wank which railed against UK anti-intellectualism. and then Laybys and Bypasses which was about searching for the "real" England.
- You can buy Luke's spoken word album Twenty on Bandcamp.
WORD Christchurch Autumn Season
Read more about the WORD Christchurch Autumn Season. There are still sessions to come:
The Allusionist - Wednesday 22 May 7pm to 8pm (2nd show 8.30pm to 9.30pm)
Graeme Simsion: The Rosie Trilogy - Friday 24 May 7.30pm to 8.30pm
- More about Graeme Simsion: The Rosie Trilogy event.
- Read Fee's post: 3 Ticks: The Rosie Trilogy with Graeme Simsion.
Shayne Carter: Dead people I have known - Saturday 25 May 6pm to 7pm
- More about Shayne Carter: Dead people I have known event.