Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Energy and spirited delivery characterizes young poet
TIME was when poets reading their own work mumbled self-consciously into the microphone and shuffled off at the end, embarrassed by any applause.
Not with the new generation of performance poets whose energy and spirited delivery make them much closer to stand-up comics.
The latest of these is Luke Wright who presented his show at the Wharf Theatre on Sunday evening as part of Devizes Festival.
He is, undoubtedly, a genuine poet. His work scans, rhymes and contains many pervasive human truths.
But he grasps the microphone with all the zeal of a stand-up and his audience howls with laughter. His style is influenced more by Ben Elton and Harry Enfield than Dylan Thomas or even Roger McGough.
The 26-year-old from the Essex garrison town of Colchester started writing as a teenager and is appalled at his own arrogance at the time. Does this sound familiar?
His poems are successful because he uses himself and his life experience as his subject matter. The dreadfulness of motorway service stations, the appalling service offered by privatised rail companies struck a chord with the, albeit sparse, audience.
But as he says himself: "I'm much better qualified to write about Luke than anything else."
And his autobiographical poems, recited from memory, were truly revealing about growing up. The accident-prone friend who realises ultimately that he is a loser, the first girlfriend who is treated abominably and then cast aside were treated with both humour and regret.
As Mr Wright demonstrates, poetry works through ideas and language -theatre works through relationships and action. Completely different, see?
So there would have to be a very good reason to adapt a poem to be performed on stage. It would have to have lots of narrative and good characters.
Vita Sackville-West's astonishing journey through the agricultural year, The Land, published in 1926 is full of penetrating insights into farming, the land, the weather, the wildlife and so on.
But, unless you are a gardening enthusiast, it is not riveting stuff. One suspects Sonia Ritter's intention in adapting it for the stage, and performing at the Wharf Theatre as part of Devizes Festival last Friday, is to show what a good actress she is.
In this she fails, as no syllable is left unstressed, no change of mood heavily telegraphed. She emotes, mugs, gabbles and, at one point, dips her finger into a jar of honey to take a long, ecstatic mouthful.
It makes for a punishing two hours, especially on a Friday evening in June.
The evening is only saved by Tim Laycock's wonderfully revived country folk songs, some of which, To Be A Farmer's Boy, for example, were warmly received by the audience.