Luke Wright's bid to be the next Poet Laureate, and his struggle with the duality of the post. On one hand being able to work with poetry in society, be the uniting factor, on the other hand serving at the pleasure of the crown and being part of the establishment.
The show has a fine arc, and the shape of an essay. First there's a brief history lesson, what the laureate is and has been through the ages. Peculiarities. Previous holders and what they did, with samples. Posing the question — "Luke Wright, the poet laureate?" Wright in his own words, some new shit, and select repertoire pieces. Broadening it up, and finally concluding with a subversive answer, a message.
It's all a reference to his cheeky first bid for the laureate laurels, some ten odd years ago. And how he made it all the way to local radio shows that didn't know better.
Wright's stuff, all told with great energy and fervour, works wonderfully in the space. The audience was purring. From the corner of a decrepit Bar Bados Free Fringe room with a loose door, bad light, and a flimsy window letting in the bad troubadour on the street, Wright delivers.
Great spoken word. I am so glad I wasn't disappointed.
Wright is a powerful voice, and knows how to play his instrument. Equally he isn't afraid of a bit of sentiment. This time the audience was, in a word, mature. Grey, even. Family men and women. All laughing at the references I'm a little too young and a little too foreign for. I got a good deal of it, still, I think, the more contemporary stuff anyway.
A brilliant lipogram, with only the "o" vowel allowed. Reflections in a hotel room, written with the blood of the heart. On football, which Wright set himself up for as a challenge. A fervent defence of pretentiousness and geeks, and those who read.
A general trend to identify. Wright is looking at bigger challenges now, his rare success seems to make it harder and harder for him to level up as a poet. Where do talents go after highly rated sell-out Fringe shows? Poets don't quite fit in the standard TV panel show trajectory of the industry.
All this, and yet Wright isn't quite my poet. He is the first one to point out that he wasn't the right person to poet about some of these things happening in the world recently — Grenfell, Manchester, Windrush — but that some poets were there, with their words. We reach out to the poets, to the poems, when we need something of weight to be said.
Wright truly believes in poetry and could certainly be an ambassador for it. But he does have ten years on me, and seems to reach best those with ten on him. And yet, great poetry stands on its own. Poets, while deserving of support, are only the conduit.
Wright isn't deeply keen on getting the job, and would perhaps rather have it scrapped altogether. Many voices over one on a pedestal. A true agitator, he'll shun the parlours of society for the dim back-corners of a bar any day. Wright will speak his truth to ordinary people — and they will listen.