We continue our series of Q&As with the people behind Glastonbury’s venues and stages with Poetry&Words organiser Helen Gregory. Once you’ve finished reading, do click here to check out the tent’s terrific 2011 line-up (you’ll find them in Theatre & Circus).
1. How would you describe your area of the Festival to someone who hasn’t visited it before?
Poetry&Words is part of what makes Glastonbury special – more than just another music festival. We have poets to make you laugh, cry and ponder the meaning of life. Most importantly though, we show that poetry can be entertaining, consistently pulling in audiences from the bigger, more well known stages. Many’s the time we’ve heard festival goers around the tent saying ‘Wow. I didn’t think I liked poetry, but that was *fantastic!*’
2. Have you made any changes/additions for this year?
Our basic format will be the same (if it ain’t broke …), but we change the line-up round each year. This year we have the marvellous Matt Harvey, Spliff Richard, Anna Freeman and Alfred Lord Telecom (amongst others) all performing for us for the first time. Oh, and we’ve introduced a pre-show with the very talented musician Benita Johnson, to warm up the audience for our poetry spectacular.
3. Which of your acts are you most excited about in 2011?
Ooh, that’s not fair! I couldn’t possibly choose! All of the artists above are fantastic, plus we have John Hegley, Sound of Rum, Poeticat, John Osborne …
4. Do you have any good food recommendations in and around your area?
The Goan Fish Curry stall is fantastic. This year I may even manage to take time out to sample their kedgeree for breakfast.
5. How/when did you first get involved with the Festival?
I first worked with Poetry&Words in 2004, when it was under the stewardship of Pat VT West. I’ve been involved in it ever since, and took over running the stage after her sad death in 2008.
6. What’s the best thing about running an area at Glastonbury?
It really is just being able to work together with – and enjoy the company of – a team of very lovely people.
7. And what’s the worst?
The sheer volume of work! I start working on the stage in January and continue until September every year – herding poets for all that time is no mean feat.
8. Is there anything outside your area at this year’s Festival that you’re particularly looking forward to?
Wandering around the festival and seeing all the weird and wonderful installations and street acts on offer. It’s the unexpected pieces of spontaneous art that really make the festival for me.
9. What’s the best performance you’ve ever seen at Glastonbury?
It’s a toss up between Leonard Cohen singing Hallelujah and Richard and Teddy Thompson singing Persuasion.
10. Finally, what’s your top Glastonbury tip for people coming to the Festival for the first time?
Bring biodegradable wet wipes, sun tan lotion and ear plugs; and don’t forget there’s a lot more to Glastonbury than music!