The Gem in the Wordpile
Tuesday 18 May, 18:00-19:00 BST, Online
This is a term I use when working with children who might be intimidated by a hard poem.
I ask them to find something that shines out in the lines. A happier hardness. A handle, A door.
I have been writing pieces about John Keats recently and somebody asked me a poem of his that I would recommend. I instinctively suggested A Song of Myself. Asked why, I replied that it was a doorway into the rest of the work. A light. A tool. In my own time at Bradford University, a tool I was given by lecturer Jack Morrell was the idea that science does not always need to operate on a true description of the world An adequate one, will sometimes do. I aim to speak about gems, tools, doors, handles, lights, education, and Bradford. Here is a poem relating to the last two.
A FATHER’S PROTEST
My father played the banjo
but it’s more guitar for me
and I came from Bradford, Yorkshire
with a rather poor degree.
I only received a Lower Second
but, without it I should add -
there would not be
you try telling my dad!
I had a dream the other night,
I was playing my guitar
when I was kicked quite forcefully
by Monsieur Cantona.
I said, ‘hey, Eric,
now why do that to me?’
He said, ‘that is from your father,
for your rather poor degree.’
John will reflect on his time before, during and after Bradford including life, work and play. It will be delivered in his own unique and engaging style which never fails to entertain, inspire and uplift viewers and readers alike.
Image credit: Polly Hancock
John Hegley (BSc Social Sciences 1976), Performance Poet and Author
Performance poet John Hegley was born in 1953 in the London Borough of Islington.
He grew up in Luton and was educated at Bradford University, where he studied European Literature and the History of ideas with Sociology. He has worked as a bus conductor in Bristol, and in children's theatre in London.
In 2008 he coedited an anthology of poetry for young people, The Ropes: Poems To Hold On To, with Sophie Hannah. His most recent collections are Peace, Love and Potatoes (2012), New & Selected Potatoes (2013) and I am a Poetato (2013).
John Hegley has also released his own CD of songs and poetry, 'Saint and Blurry', and collaborated with Robyn Hitchcock as John Hegley and The Popticians.
John has published 12 books of verse, narrative, and drawings for adults and children and had 4 series of music, poetry, and drama on BBC Radio 4 alongside extensive tutoring in schools, prisons and with the Arvon Foundation. In 2020 the Arts Council funded a workshop programme titled 'Putting you in the Picture' devised by John for upper Primary students working with local art gallery exhibits.
He has been a poet in residence at BBC Online and at Keats House, London, and is currently working on a series of workshops and readings to celebrate a bicentenary of the poet in 2021.
In 2000 he received an honorary Arts Doctorate from the University of Bedfordshire, where he has also let creative writing classes. John also helped launch"Warning: May Contain Nuts", a project using comedy to increase awareness of mental illnesses. He performed these shows in 2010 with other performers, including comic Mackenzie Taylor, talking about mental illness. For an analysis of John's work please visit the British Council website.