The Petty Concerns of Luke Wright – Norwich Arts Centre

Luke Wright is as close as you can get to a celebrity in the world of poetry, and when one sees him walk around, it can be easy to assume he is something of a moving statue of bravado and one-liners.  He introduces Tim Clare as warm-up act and tells the audience he fears he will be up-staged by the support.  Having seen Clare at Word of Mouth recently, he pretty much made the crowd fall in love with him; however this time he was noted as slightly less impressive so perhaps this was an attempt to place Wright on top.

After a break, Wright appeared again, heading over to a nearby laptop to fiddle with leads as his computerised introduction was soundless.  He went on to describe this show as an exploration of ‘ego, ambition and humility.’  The statue was about to show his cracks.  The show began with a familiar tale of his skinny jean days, number one of seven, kicking off the telling of his journey to success and wanting to be a ‘star.’

Mixing in comedic anecdotes with sympathetic story-telling and, of course, the poetry; he comments on MySpace fame culture with Thanx 4 the ad, the importance of Manchester mentor Mr. Blank, and his own failures and frustrations with self in Luke’s Got a Joke.  There are enough jokes to keep you laughing, yet still poignant moments of beauty and vulnerability, for example, as he tells the audience of fellow performance poet David J asking him ‘what you trying to forget?’

The evening progresses like a scrap book with photographs on the backdrop, alongside comments found Googling himself; he reveals ‘under the chipped nail varnish of my life, were the same bitten fingernails.’  In an attempt to grow-up, with a wife and baby on board, we get Mondeo Man and a recital of a section of Philip Larkin’s Dockery &Son.  Wright concludes that you can’t change who you are, but maybe you can dilute it, asking the audience to Raise a Glass with the final poem.

Perhaps the best way to judge a performance of poetry is whether, when lying in bed, about to close your eyes, you reach for the alarm-clock-cum-phone and type in lines of your own attempts at poetry.  Whether that happens, well, you’ll just have to see for yourself.

CWS Scream Poetry Night – UEA Grad Bar

I found out at the weekend that Luke Wright, John Osborne and Tim Clare were going to be performing at this Creative Writing Society event.   I’d recently been told An ex-boyfriend I still care (too much) about has a new girlfriend and was half wanting to read a whole set of poems about him and half wanting to read nothing to do with him, prior to finding out that these poetry celebrities were attending.  Oh hiya, curator of Latitude poetry stage… I think I might think a bit more about what I’m going to read now. So, I thought vaguely thematically and did a couple I read quite regularly; The Mirror and Space Station.  Plus, two I’d never read before; Ghosts on Stairways and 90s Kidz.  Okay, so two poems about the ex, but they were good choices, I think.

The Mirror has been published in the Poetry Rivals 2010 anthology, and as I was disappointed by the standard of the other poetry included, I’m hoping I’m in the top 100 that get to perform.  I’d read afterwards warnings not to enter the competition, but seeing as I know half of last year’s judges, I thought it can’t be that bad… apart from the paying for your own copy of the book instead of actually getting paid!

Anyway, acts that stood out that I hadn’t seen before to my knowledge, were Amanda Gosling and Leo Hunt.  Both prose acts, which is a more difficult task than reading poetry, and yet, they stood out the most.  The Aisle 16 members obviously stood out like a sore thumb and I felt stupidly starstruck, as I am shy at the best of times.  I was happy with my own performance, but obviously looking back at the video is never as good, plus I stumbled on a couple of lines (once in Space Station, which I know of my heart, but then again I had zero time to practice!)  I was comforted by the professionals’ own stumblings though.

So, the next event will probably be 22nd November at the UEA Hive, which is an event I’m putting on for LitSoc with poetry, comedy and music.  Also, Aisle 16 are doing a birthday gig for FREE at the York Tavern which is across the road from me, yay!