Summer News

You find me on the very edge of the diving board, teetering if you like, about to dive into the busiest summer of my life. I’d like nothing more than to splash around in the River Waveney and drink warm flat beer, but I gone wrote two shows and if I don’t tout them around I’ll spend the Autumn in penury. And, yes, sure, I quite like performing too.

So, here goes, below be info about my new shows, a gig with BECK and a tour with JOHN COOPER CLARKE. Gulp …



I’m delighted to announce that I have Joe Murphy (nabokov) on board with me as a director. Joe is top-notch, having won Fringe Firsts and countless other accolades for his work with nabokov theatre company. I have a long standing association with nabokov as its first creative director James Grieve worked on my first three shows. Joe joins a creative team of Ian Catskilken (score), Tom Clutterbuck (lights and technical), Sam Ratcliffe (illustrations and design) and Paul Jellis (Producer). A shitload of cooks and the broth is getting better.

I’m also delighted to announce that Penned in the Margins will be publishing WHAT I LEARNED FROM JOHNNY BEVAN in February 2016. I look forward to working with Tom Chivers again after the splendid job he did with my collection Mondeo Man. This means that my second collection, which is pretty much done, will be delayed until 2017.


11 July – Hotbed Festival, The Junction, Cambridge | 6pm | Tickets:

18 July – Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Suffolk | 1pm | Tickets:

Edinburgh Fringe

7 – 30 August (not 18) – SUMMERHALL, 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh | 4.55pm | Tickets:



My current show of poems and assorted wit (arf arf) will also be at the Fringe after it completes its UK tour, which keeps getting added to. This show feels tried and tested, slick and on song. Because my focus has been so much on Johnny Bevan I’ve kind of forgotten about this one, but there’s no doubt it’s the best hour of poetry I’ve created, so it’s exciting. The fact that I only have 25 mins between shows is exciting, not terrifying, right?

UK Tour

2 July – Hull Central Library | 8pm | Tickets:

7 July – The Square & Compass, Worth Matravers, Dorset | 8pm | with Elvis McGonagall (hurrah!) | Tickets on door

8 July – Bridport Arts Centre, Bridport, Dorset | 8pm | Tickets:

9 July – Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis | 8pm | Tickets:

11 July – Hotbed Festival, The Junction, Cambridge | 6pm | Tickets:

Edinburgh Fringe

6 – 30 August (not 18) – THE UNDERBELLY, 56 Cowgate, Edinburgh | 6.20pm | Tickets



I’m back on tour with John Cooper Clarke in the next few weeks. I’ve missed that emaciated word-slinger. He’s like a kind old punk uncle to me. All tickets details can be found on

20 June – St Albans Arena
23 June – Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne Minster
24 June – Tiverton Community Arts Centre
25 June – The Watermark, Ivybridge
27 June – The Cabaret Tent, Glastonbury (I’m on stage at 8.35pm-9.05pm, just before John)
10 July – St Mary’s in the Castle, Hastings
12 July – The Ledbury Poetry Festival



As well as gigging with Johnny at Glasto I have my own headline slot (40 mins) in The Poetry & Words tent on Friday 26 June at 2.15pm.



Two years ago I took part in Beck’s Song Reader gig at The Barbican. It was a roaring success with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Jarvis Cocker and The guillemots interpreting songs from Beck’s scored (but never recorded album). As well as the musicians Kate Tempest, John Cooper Clarke, Simon Armitage and I did some poems in between on the theme of music and creativity. Beck apparently liked it so much he’s asked me (plus Armitage, Don Paterson, Sam Riviere, Jemima Foxtrot and more) to do a special one off gig with him at The Barbican this summer. The plan is we bring the words, he brings the music we have one day of rehearsal and then we do  BIG OLD GIG.

Exciting, right? The gig is MONDAY 29 JUNE at The Barbican. Tickets here:



I have, for a tenth year, co-curated the Latitude Poetry Arena. I’m delighted with our line-up, including the likes of SIMON ARMITAGE, DOCTOR JOHN COOPER CLARKE,MICHAEL ROSEN, BLAKE MORRISON



Johnny Bevan in London.

This FRIDAY 29 May is the last chance to catch What I Learned From Johnny Bevan in London before it heads to Edinburgh (and naturally takes over the world.)

The show is at THE ROUNDHOUSE as part of THE LAST WORD FESTIVAL. You can get tickets by clicking HERE. Or HERE. Or even HERE.


The Ballad of Edward Dando, the Celebrated Gormandizer

The Ballad of Edward Dando, the Celebrated Gormandiser!

Hurrah! It’s me, it’s ballad time.
Hang some bloody bunting!
Now shut your eyes, sit back, we’re off
to eighteen twenty-something.

The belching Georgian after-party,
age of gout and laudanum
where opulence and dropsy spread
to all that could afford them.

The spit-roast swine, Germanic wines
Beau Brummel’s ice-cold quips
the clash of Nash’s symmetry
with George’s wobbly bits.

Frayed pantaloons and powdered cheeks
and boo-sucks to you prigs
The Tories had the power but
it was all about the wigs.

And dandies dashed in Hackney cabs
from bar to drinking shop
a gin-soaked trail of a tabs until
their foppish waistcoats popped.

And just as in our stage-school age
the slack-jawed Shaznay’s dream
of being auto-tuned and airbrushed
into pop’s hareem

so young men walked the gas-lit streets
of London’s rotten heart
with grand ideas to take their lives
and spin them into art.

And so, our hero, Edward Dando
apprentice to a hatter
(we don’t know what his hats were like,
but they, dear friends, don’t matter.)

For days spent stitching hats for chaps
sent Dando mad with boredom
the line of dandruff decades stretched out
miserably before him.

A member of the lunar race
that history near forgot
he might, had he been born later,
lined-up with Marx’s lot

but short on ideology
or union or committee
Dando only had a hunch
that life was sort of shitty.

While some were blessed with tails and titles
others buffed their boots
and pickled, stewed and boiled the scraps
of labour’s rotten fruits.

O who will be pave my grave with jewels?
O who will sing of me?
The hatters, blacksmiths, cooks and fools
all piled up like scree.

And that, thought Dando, shouldn’t, couldn’t
be the way for him
so he resolved to live his life
with shellfish, beer and vim.

So off then to the oyster house
with sawdust on the floor
a pile of shells around his boots
our hero ordered more:

shuck-gulp-drop, shuck-gulp-drop,
and all washed down with porter
the swagger of a don juan
with his mitts on someone’s daughter.

And when he’d swallowed thirty dozen
Dando belched and sighed
performed a dance of pocket pats
“What rotten luck!” he lied

“I’m sorry Mr Oysterman,
I’ll have to see you clear
another day, alright old boy?
Next time I’m passing here.”

And had he been a gentleman
the trader would have bowed
and sent him on his merry way
contented with this vow.

But swagger isn’t breeding and
no sooner out the door
this whistling, cocksure hatter felt
the long arm of the law.

They banished our voluptuary
to Brixton for a month
where Dando’s raging hunger gave
the other lags the hump.

They flung him into solitary
for stealing beef and bread
where there the old screws pummelled him
and boxed his grisly head.

But when his month of gruel was up
he found the nearest stall
devoured ten dozen natives,
and then coughed up bugger all.

Alas! His choice of Oysterman!
This one was like a bull
and left our hero in the gutter,
sore but very full.

So Dando spent his life like this
from Oyster house to beating
from shellfish stall to court then gaol
and all for sake of eating

exactly what he wanted to
exactly when he wanted.
For every bristling oysterman
or judge that he affronted

he gained a hundred new admirers:
Can nothing can sate his appetite
for oysters, ale and pain?

Some eight long fishy years passed by
he dined on London’s best
till everybody recognised
his black eyes, gaol dress

and strange distinctive limp
for Dando’s foot was lame
(a wage of his depravity
a spoil of his game)

and he was forced to ply his trade
in estuary towns in Kent
though gutter scraps and rozzers followed
everywhere he went.

‘Till 1832 came round
the aged Sailor King
now on the throne: austerity
in place of George’s bling.

And Dando like his Royal exemplar
saw his fortunes fade.
One August night in Coldbath Fields
on prisoner parade

our man collapsed with cholera,
they carted him inside
where legend, that forgiving mistress,
claims, before he died

they brought a dozen oysters
to his licey prison bed
he rubbed his stomach, scoffed the lot
and then he fell back – dead.

They buried him in Clerkenwell
beneath St James’ bells
the balladeers sung songs of him
and paved his grave with shells.

Many thanks to Sarah Murden and Joanne Major for their research.

A gig with Molly Naylor

I’m doing a gig in lovely Cornwall with my best mate Molly. The venue is great, the town is great, the poets are great. Come one, come all.

Glam Dad's Lost His Rag

Glam Dad’s Lost His Rag

Those kids will never know the pain they bring
to Britain’s former foremost lie-in King.
Oh Sunday bloody Sunday, pig-shit head
his veins an ache and squirm, his tongue half-dead
and still they roar their push-me-pull-me blows
falsetto tuneless shrieks to Let It Go!
She kicks him in the shin, when will he learn?
A hard-faced three word gesture: It’s your turn!

Oh curse this house, this cul-de-sac, this life!
Oh curse my devilled off-spring! Curse my wife!
Oh curse the mirror! Curse the paunch and sag!
Oh curse my thirties!
Glam Dad’s lost his rag.

A streak of pitch-black temper! Havoc wreaks!
Mascara smear across his grizzly cheeks,
he stumbles down the landing, knotted back
a slurring threat of discipline and smacks.
A raging monster rank with last night’s gin
his unshod sole impaled on tank engine.
All dressing gown on inside out, he tolls
Just grow up, will you! to his three year old.

Last night! Last night! Won’t someone take me there!
Thighs bulging in his drainpipes, back-combed hair,
Shakira-hipped, the snarling ghost of Strummer
his band of teachers, architects and plumbers
fucking nailed it! Big-riffed indie dream.
At times he felt like he was seventeen.
And how the lyrics from that cover’s set
come back to him right now: What do I get?

O what went wrong, this was never the plan!
We came third in Battle of the Bands
in Manningtree in 1999.
“They rocked” said The Braintree & Witham Times.
We supported Cast in Colchester
I’ve met the bloody ginger one from Blur.
Island records gave us demo money
I could have made it… what now? What’s so funny?

Beneath him on the floor his kids are grins.
A nervous sideways glance then it begins:
the stuttered giggles then the gasping laughs,
he catches his reflection in the glass:
a sallow, red-faced, stubbled, panda-eyed,
sack-stomached tragi-clown with gaping fly
They thump the carpet. Daddy! You’re so silly!
Your face looks funny, I can see your …

And now he’s laughing too, his ego shelved
time halts and for that moment he’s himself.
He gathers up his brood, it feels sublime:
Come on then you two, it’s breakfast time.


You may already know that I co-curate and host the Poetry Arena at The Latitude Festival. 2015 is the 10th year of the festival so I wrote a little thing for them.



Everybody’s got a friend who fucked-up.

Mine was Darryl. Nasal, pessimistic.
His hope all backed up in his sinuses.
His thick cropped hair, a shade of cartoon ginger.
Above his monobrow a squishy mole
like a baked bean, which he called My Baked Bean.

We met aged six, he showed me round my new school.
The pegs, the cobbled floors, the smell of cabbage;
the caps and shorts they wore right through the Winter.
Darryl was a good boy. Fond of rules.
A prim refrain of Umm, I’m gonna tell.

Sometimes we’d share a fractious lift to school.
A bickered pinch of time through rural Essex,
strapped in the back of his Nan’s filthy Vauxhall.
His mum, he said, had died when he was small.
He trilled his truth, a goody-two-shoes boast.

That early awkward bond is crystallised:
our shoulders rubbing in our first school photo.
I slump and squint, he’s straight-backed, toothy, tame.
Why couldn’t you have sat-up straight like Darryl?
I took his good behaviour as a taunt.

And then one day they moved him. That was that.
Next time I saw him, we were in Year 8.
He moved into my street, but he had changed.
That boy is trouble. Nasty piece of work.
A diatribe of entertaining bullshit:

I glassed a swan. I felt my nan’s right tit.
All eyeballs in his Big Mac, we dared him.
Darryl keyed those cars in Tesco carpark
Darryl stole the vodka from his Grandad.
Darryl drank the lot and got run over.

That’s the phrase he used. He wasn’t hurt.
It’s just my luck to get run over.  - Darryl
you weren’t run over, mate. That car was parked.

The group all laughed – You twat – we slapped his back.
Oh yeah. That sheepish grin and backwards pride.

We weren’t the best of friends. He just lived close.
Darryl’s mostly hung out with Joe Gray.
whose voice broke over seven long, shrill years,
whose older brother shagged a girl I liked.
My brother pooned that Katy. Hah hah. Gutted.

Yes, Joe Gray was a cock. But Darryl wasn’t.
You see, aged 12 his mother just pitched up.
They told me you were dead. But they had lied.
She played mum for month then changed her mind.
That straight-backed boy was crushed down like beer can.

You need to understand we never knew this.
Our mothers let us know years down the line.
The tragedy now rendered into gossip:
an 18-rated cut of our own lives
that slowly sunk in as our twenties passed.

Of course, we all know now that no one really
wants to wash their hair in lighter fluid
then spend the party being chased by Clippers.
Did we then? Perhaps we didn’t think.
Mistook the cries of Wolf for harmless pranks.

We did our scant revision, scraped exams.
He went from mate to barely-seen acquaintance
to anecdote, a witty party piece.
This kid I went to school with … fucking hell.
I heard he was in prison. GBH.

Everybody’s got a friend who fucked-up.
So what to do with mine? Carve Darryl up
and offer him to you, a moral tale?
I can’t go back and tell that boy I’m sorry.
I just feel sad. And, yes, relieved as well.

Have a Gong!

It’s that time of year again ….

Have a Gong!

Hurrah! New Year! Let’s play Who’s Who
the list please George, let’s keep it blue…
Yes, yes, of course, about time too!
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Oui Oui a KBE for Arthur
and my sister’s husband’s father
better not forget my barber.
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

This fellow here, he sank a bank
and this one gave us cut-price tanks…
Is that for us? You should have, thanks.
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Famous people, bring your mug,
and with it stardom’s manic fug
come here, give us a tacit plug
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Angry artist? Full of bile?
we’ll dowse your fire in regal style
well done, you’re in, now hold and smile
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Elitist? No! why here’s a nurse,
long on hours, short on purse
so progressive, so diverse.
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!!

But just a little one …

Not a O.B.E, just a Meh.B.E.
Well done you, I see, I see.
Now move along now, yes yes, right, good
I need to give my pal a knighthood!
Good one Geoffrey, well I trust?
Golf next Tuesday? Let’s discuss
your next donation to our party
Thank-you ma’am, yes, let’s depart, eh?

Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong, gong, gong!
Scratch my back and sing along
we’ll croon our patriotic song
and dream of when we ruled Hong Kong
it’s tradition – can’t be wrong!
As sure as old Big Ben goes bong
it’s bound to cause a contretemps!
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong gong gong!

Hip-hip hurrah, yes Britain’s best!
Dulce et decorum est
Etc, I forget the rest
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Stay-at-Home Dandy (The Album)


I’m releasing my fourth spoken word album this month. Stay-at-Home Dandy was all written in the last year and features a mix of comic and quieter more personal pieces. It’s also got my best ballads to date on it – The Toll, Mr Hooper’s Half Term and The Night Before Christmas. It was recorded just up the road in Beccles, Suffolk. It’s a true locally sourced product being beamed across the world via the internet. I’m really pleased with it.

Hard copies coming in Feb 2015, in the meantime you can downloads from iTunesAmazonPlay.

Great Review in The East Anglian Daily Times

I have been favourably reviewed in the East Anglian Daily Times.

“Wright always excels when puncturing the gilded whoopee cushion of the Establishment … There is a physicality to Wright’s performance that seems to build in intensity with the lyrical density of his poems … A hard act to follow.”

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