March 24, 2022 Rhiannon Ingle

Q&A: Luke Wright

Welcome to this Q&A series where we ask the weirdest, wildest, and most wonderful questions to the brilliant people behind some of the fabulous shows going on here at The Edge.

Coming to The Edge this spring season is Luke Wright, winner of the 2021 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Performer. With an all-new show with deliciously funny poems set against a backdrop of pandemic politics, ageing parents, and the endless, droning culture war – this poet is pretty adept at taking poetry places it doesn’t normally go.

What was your introduction to spoken word?

I saw Ross Sutherland stand on the Colchester Arts Centre stage and perform his poetry on 12 December 1998 and he just looked so goddam cool. It was like watching the singer of a band but without the band. After him came Martin Newell and John Cooper Clarke, who were as much a stand-ups as poets. They made me laugh, they made me think, they made me feel. I just knew I wanted to do that, it seemed like an impossible dream and every inch of the journey appealed to me: filling notebooks with terrible first drafts, travelling around the country in the dead of night, kipping in dingy hotels, on sofas and in tents, meeting my heroes; the whole bruising, sad, joyous wonderful adventure.

How did you balance the humour of your poetry against the backdrop of more serious themes?

My work is part political, part confessional. The songwriter and novelist (and frontman of the excellent Mountain Goats) John Darnielle said recently that he thinks that all writing is in some confessional – that you always reveal something of yourself, even if you write about political issues and characters. I agree with that. Doing poems on stage there is always a balance of the two – the way you frame a poem, how you introduce it, on stage can greatly change the way the audience receives it. I use a lot of humour when framing even serious poems. Why not be funny I always think, but it also keeps the show fun and light so you can afford yourself more serious moments. 

What is special about the recurring motifs of your poems and why are they so relevant today?

I write a lot about England. I’m still trying to get under the fingernails of this country. Trying to to understand what it means to be English. I also write a lot about myself, my own personal journey (I dont like that phrase, but you know what I mean). 

How do you feel you’ve personally added to or changed the current poetry scene? 

You can’t deny I’ve been part of it. I look around my so many wonderful colleagues I’ve had to the pleasure of working with these past 23 years and it’s brilliant to see so many of them doing well, breaking new ground. Joelle Taylor just won the TS Eliot, Kae Tempest is a top recording artist, Salena Godden’s everywhere with her new novel, Caroline Bird is putting out her selected poems. I’m just struck at how long its been and what a privilege it is to be a part of it. I’ve been lucky enough to be at the helm of some of the best gigs at last twenty years, at Latitude, Port Eliot, Festival No.6, Edinburgh Book Festival. I’m glad I was able to bring people together.

What has been your funniest moment of the pandemic thus far?

I’m laughing more now I’m back on the road. My stage manager, Mark, is a tonic, we spend the journeys laughing;

So, with Patti Smith calling Luke’s work “Cool poems”, John Cooper Clarke speculating that “He must be on some kind of dope” and The Guardian reporting that “His performances rumble with rage, passion and humour” – what are you waiting for?

Luke’s spoken word will come to The Edge Thursday 21st April 2022 starting at 7:30 pm so make a note of it, gather up a group of mates and strap yourself in for an excellent evening of laughs.


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