Saturday, 21 September 2013

Poetry Time, come on and bring your friends, we're going to very distant lands

This has been a busy week.  This has been a busy month.  I was chatting with Katie Bonna via the medium of Twitter…when do we freelance poets give ourselves days off?  Do we need to timetable into our schedules?  Do we need to schedule time off into our timetables?

I spent a lot of time last week making a website

But on Thursday I reluctantly boarded a train to Manchester to take part in its Superheroes of Slam round.  I was tired, knackered and needed a night off.  As it happened, the standard was phenomenal and really woke me up.  Seeing some nice Manchester friends again picked up my spirits, and I actually had a lot of fun.  I came second, beaten by the very confident and staunch Kieren King.  Manchester, like Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle, is producing fantastic poets.

A slam which really made me think about raising my game, and good contacts to chase up.  So well worth going to, even if my body feels like it’s gone a few rounds with a bulldozer.  The bulldozer knows karate.

New website:

I’ve been finding ways to have some chillout time, and not feel guilty.  Cooking veggie grub is a good time to give yourself space.  I also try not to feel guilty when I don’t use time on trains to read books or write or learn poems.  I use it to sew patches or play Plants Vs Zombies 2.  You’ve got to be kind to yourself.  I watch cartoons.  How good is Adventure Time?  It pays tribute to 80s D&D whilst still having that post-Spongebob knowing oddness.  It, Chowder and Flapjack have really impressed me.  Who says cartoons are no good anymore?

So I’ve been doing a lot of gig and events and writing.  Lots of new stuff, really exciting stuff.  Today is meant to be my day off; just I’m jetting off to Derby to see Kes, directed by my old Youth Theatre Director, Sarah Brigham, starring my old chum John Holt Roberts.

Currently listening to High Dive.  Bloomington is the golden land of queer-pop-punk and folk-punk.  Thanks to the Queer Punx Podcast for the tip!

I also made a new website.  Did I mention that?

In love, anger, in solidarity, in Gengar we trust

Henry xxx

Monday, 2 September 2013

There Goes The Summer


This has been the busiest, most-fun on summer of Doings I’ve ever done.  It’s featured gigs across the country, putting on events, catching up with lots of mates, making new friends and generally being a busy (hopefully non-dying out) bee.

Let’s start in July, where I took my solo show, Letter To The Man (from the boy) to The Berry Theatre in Eastleigh and got a nice little write-up in The Portsmouth Times which you can read here.  This was programmed by my old Youth Theatre Director Sarah Brigham…

Sarah is now Artistic Director of Derby Theatre.  There is no one in the universe more committed to supporting emerging theatre-makers and artists.  I talk a lot about how if you make art, you should care.  You need to give a shit.  It should be in your heart and soul and spit and sweat.  You should read poems, sing songs and write plays with a passion and a fire.  I dislike it when artists apologise all the time.  Who shrug and put themselves down.  The world needs confidence.  I always thought Joe Strummer taught me that, but it was probably helped along by The Brigham.

At Derby Theatre, Milk Presents held a night of work-in-progress material, and I did a scratch of a new idea for a new show I want to make.  It’s gonna be angry.  And about protest.  But we’ll see what the future holds for it. 

Speaking of protest I went to see Hannah Nicklin’s A Conversation With My Father in Leeds…only to find I’d got the times wrong.  D’oh.

Got the timings wrong for my flyer too when I took my Letter To The Man (from the boy) to the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston.  Played to friendly audiences though, got some really nice faces and feedback and great to be part of the great expansive festival.  I also spent a vast amount  of money in Banquet Records.  But I did get hold of The Filaments new album, which I believe to be the best album of 2013 so far.  Check it out.

Next stop:  EDINBURGH FRINGE!  This year as a civilian, or at least without a show.  Seemingly the only poet without a show or a event to run, I really enjoyed doing slots of new poems at the odd open mic, Forget What You Heard About Spoken Word, the Word House and Monkey Poet’s Spoke N Heard.  I also caught Daniel Bye’s How To Occupy An Oil Rig, The PaperBirds and Chris Thorpe’s new play.  Thank goodness for Northern Stage.

Last year my good friend Conor helped out with LTTM(FTB) at Edinburgh, this year he asked me to come perform it at Venturer Camp, run by Woodcraft Folk.  I’d never heard of them before, but reminded me a lot of the old Big Youth Theatre Festival days.  I had immense fun getting 700 young people to join in with a poem about a dinosaur before performing the most madcap version of Letter yet!  I also managed to finally see Grace Petrie perform, someone I’ve wanted to see and sing-a-long too for a long long long time.


Something else I’ve wanted to do for a long long time was go to Rebellion Festival, the biggest celebration of punk rock in the UK.  I did 2 sets on the Poetry Stage, then skanked and moshed to a good few fun bands, to many to mention here.  But Jello Biafra was a surprising highlight, as were The Adicts, New Town Kings and Molly Tov.

Then it was my BIRTHDAY!  I turned 25 and to celebrate got all my chums to do poems and songs in the best restaurant in York, El Piano, before hitting the town.  Cheers Jonny, Chris, Jamie and John.  Thanks to all my lovely friends who came out, I love you all and it meant so much.  It’s pretty slushy and soppy territory now, but it sure was the highlight of the summer, if not the year, if not the life.  We recorded some poems too, so videos coming soon!

Beacons Fest was next, which was a great place to visit, pity I couldn’t stay!  But the set was good fun.  Then back to Edinburgh to perform the new show called Practise Patience I’m working on with Travels By Telephone, which went down really well on the Free Fringe, good feedback, good future.  Also saw Ross Sutherland’s show Stand-By For Tape Back Up.  Very good fun, moving, engaging, experimental… everything the Forest Fringe should provide.

Back for Play In A week with Pilot Theatre & York Theatre Royal, first one since 2009 so lovely to be back in a rehearsal room with young people.  Reinforced how much I really want to write work for young people as performers and plays for youth theatre.

Did a quick gig with Boss Caine, where I compared and wrote some poems for each of the acts, see previous blog post.  Then Galtres Festival where I did a nice intimate set in a tiny tent, all of us huddled and surviving against the wind and the rain.  And got people to do a Poetry Human Pyramid!  I spent the Sunday day and night with some amazing mates and even though we almost died, I would have died happy…crushed between your sniffling and shuddering frames.

A very good friend of mine, Anna Wilcox, became Anna Lewis and her wedding was a very fun day of old faces, old friends, drinking, photos and a little spot of dancing with an excuse to wear my mod suit again.

FINALLY I hit London to perform at the Anarcho-Folk Fest for Freedom Press.  It was a sunny day, lots of angry politics, lots of niceness, free vegan cake and saw some great acts, highlight was (as always) Pog and also Ren Spits At Magpies, who I’ve never seen before but she totally blew me away!

What does the future hold?  Doing loads of new stuff at On Our Turf’s Little Festivals across September.  Working on Practise Patience with Travels By Telephone.  And Matt Baker’s Down In Albion event should be fantastic in November, get in touch if you want to perform work on the theme ‘England’.  At Release The Hounds Festival this month too!  And, of course, Generation 6 of Pok√©mon comes out in October…

A million thanks to everyone who saw me perform, supported me, programmed me, booked me, clicked Like, RT’d etc etc. Thanks to my ace girlfriend Lizzie for her support, thanks to my friends, thanks to being thankful.

But generally speaking…. rethink and refresh.  Keep rehearsing, rewriting and resisting.

In love, in anger, in solidarity, in Gengar We Trust.


(P.S. Any gigs, slams, workshops, commissions or whatevers…do let me know at