Glastonbury is so much more than just another music festival. In fact, its full title is the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Perfoming Arts. The perimeter fence (excluding the car parks) is an incredible eight miles around and the truly huge site becomes one of the biggest cities in the South West of England during the festival, only to be dismantled a week later! There are dozens of programmed stages in the official programme which incorporate all type of rock and dance music but also comedy, theatre, film, circus opera, ballet and all kinds of madness. Even poetry! But beyond that there are literally hundreds of tented bars and restaurants all offering the most incredible entertainment around the clock. There are nightclubs, fairgrounds, hot tubs, burlesque dancers, 30 foot robots spitting fire, casinos, ballrooms and things that are just beyond description. You can even get married there!
But the festival’s roots were in the counter culture and the environmental movement and it’s heart still remains there with all profits donated to causes including Greenpeace, Oxfam and Wateraid. There are also many acres devoted to political and environmental causes and traditional crafts and, for many people, it’s in here - as well in the historic and spiritual aspects of the location - that the festival’s unique spirit is best encapsulated.
So my first poem for my residency tries to encapsulate all of that diversity and asks why we don’t bring the communal, loved up vibe and the lessons of a culture based on sustainability, co-operation and creativity back to the real world. Here’s an audio recording of my poem, “Why Glastonbury” accompanied by the fantastic photography of Rohan Van Twest. http://www.rohanvantwest.com/page2/page10/page10.html
Tony Walsh, Poet in Residence at the Glastonbury Festival 2011, reads his poem "Why Glastonbury" with photographs by Rohan Van Twest
Rohan Van Twest Location Photography
So I’ll spend my days soaking up the atmosphere and incredible experiences across the 1000 acre site and turning them into several poems each day for the website along with photos, videos, blogs and tweets. I have a wristband which gets me behind the Pyramid stage so I’m looking forward to taking a peek back there. Maybe I’ll catch Morrissey and Beyonce doing the okey cokey together!
You can follow my exploits on Twitter at @LongfellaPoet and join in the conversation using the hashtag #glastopoet. Why not suggest ideas for what I should write about or offer lines to prompts that I’ll be generating. You never know, you may be able to say that your words were performed at the Glastonbury Festival!
LONGFELLA AT THE BBC
I’ll be performing live from the Glastonbury Festival on the evening of Saturday 25th June on BBC6Music. The show will be hosted by Sean Keaveny and Cerys Matthews (ex of Catatonia) who, I’m advised, may strum along to my poem on her guitar! I hope so, but I promise not to sing! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00llg30
After the festival, I’ll be on the Jo Whiley show on BBC Radio 2 on the evening of Thursday 30th June by which time I hope to have scrubbed off the mud/recovered from sunstroke (delete as applicable). http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/presenters/jo-whiley/
Following my recent appearance on BBC Radio Manchester , BBC North West Tonight have been in touch, our regional evening tv news programme, and they’re also talking about featuring my Glastonbury exploits, possibly in the form of my personal video diary. Watch this space!
LONGFELLA MAKING HEADLINES IN MANCHESTER
My role as this year’s website poet in residence at Glastonbury Festival is attracting quite a bit of media coverage, and nowhere more so than on my doorstep here in Manchester. My story also attracts attention because, whilst I’m one of the growing ranks of former public sector workers, not many are trying to make it in the murky world of poetry!
There was a half page spread in the Manchester Evening News recently.
But I am ” a-verse” to punning headlines!
And then it was a little bit surreal when the local free newspaper came through the door with my severed head on the front page!
Hold the front page!
There was also a nice little piece on the InsideTheM60 website.
As well as coverage from my former day job world.
It’s nice to see poetry in the news for a change and I do try and give the whole scene a plug whenever I get the chance. I always tell the many budding poets out there, and those who want to checkout their local poetry scene, to start with the excellent Write Out Loud website at http://writeoutloud.net/public/index.php