New poetry from our 2017 website poet Dominic Berry


June 25, 2017

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This year’s Glastonbury website poet in residence is the wonderful Dominic Berry. Dominic is an internationally renowned, award-winning performance poet who has taken his verse across USA, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

He is currently touring two shows: his adult verse ‘No Tigers’, and a family retelling of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, in collaboration with Big Imaginations, Action Transport Theatre and Arts Council England.

Recently named as Saboteurs Best Spoken Word Artist of 2017, Dominic’s other accolades include winning New York’s Nuyorican Poetry Cafe Slam, UK Superheroes of Slam and, as of 2017, seven Arts Council England Grants for the Arts awards. For more info, check out dominicberry.net.

When Jeremy Spoke about Poetry

When Jez said
poetry is powerful
and peace is possible
on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage,
I felt my skin prickle
like lion claws.

For so long,
our kind
have been hunted.
Kids
who could have grown
into big cats
have had their chances
shot down
whilst they were only kittens
by our greedy leaders,
keeping the poor in their place.
We’ve seen
public service cuts kill,
poverty kill,
greed kill,
like money gained
through lives lost
is fair game,
trophies on some political safari.

While so many strive
just to survive
penning poems may seem a privilege
the poor cannot afford,
but without nurturing ability
for skilful expression
how can our cubs even attempt to remove their targets?

Do not presume
this generation easy prey.
Let them rise
out of range.
How?

Tax the rich,
an action which
will give the opportunity
for every child’s voice to have
the poetic power
and vibrant volume
of a lion’s roar.

No longer
may the poorest child
be denied.
We are many.
Let this be
our pride.

KALE JUICE

Brassica Oleracea.
You’re like spinach, but tastier.
You make my heart beat racier.
I am celebratin’ ya!

Kale juice.
Kale juice.
Kale juice!

Through winter, you grow ceaselessly.
I’ll document detailed use
of kale juice.
Since 4BC you’ve easily
found freshness for our stale youths.
Kale juice.
Don’t need cow milk for calcium.
Together, lets unveil truths.
Kale juice.

Before you, I ate junk food.
It gave my arteries grief.
With you, I’ve left all that behind.
Turned over a new…. leaf.

Kale juice.
Kale juice.
Kale juice!

You make my bowels go brilliantly.
You really help me nail poops,
kale juice.
and if you bring on flatulence,
well, I’ll just let those gales loose,
kale juice.
You make me mighty as a stag,
I’ll never be a frail moose.
Kale juice.

Brassica Oleracea.
I’m very highly ratin’ ya.
These seeds are liberatin’ ya,
so let’s start germinatin’ ya!

Kale juice.
Kale juice.
Kale juice!

Leftfield Stage

Sour sorrows curdle loss in lands of milk and honey.
The people out on cracked up streets will beg for meds and money
while we are free, so far from them, we’re somewhere safe and sunny.
A joke from Jo has cracked us up.
It’s side splittingly funny.

The air is cracked by Jo’s loud laugh. Jo’s always been a boomer.
A thunderous voice. Jo’s lightening quick. The sickest sense of humour.
In time, our punchlines turn to talk of drugs, mistrust and rumour.
We’re told the sick will sap the well,
infect us like a tumour.

The homeless, sat on cracked up streets, are called a liability
and then they’re labelled lazy, so we’ll feel no culpability.
The rich are getting richer, fund their own upward mobility.
It’s claimed the sick will drain our nations ‘strength’, our state’s ‘stability’.

Beneath this heat, we read these words, and shiver at their chillness.
The sounds of blame and labelled names have sickened with their shrillness.
Where there were jokes, the mood is broken. Laughter turns to stillness.
Who thinks we are so privileged, we’d never know such illness?

We know when Jo was ill. The father’s fist that cracked Jo’s bone.
Jo never chose to sleep on streets.
The family disowned
a child they called a liar. They left Jo without a home.
This child who begged for meds and money wasn’t long alone

for public funded services put Jo beneath a ceiling.
The nurses of the NHS repaired with caring healing
so here’s a cheer for Jo’s new health,
but also for believing
the worth of aid should not be weighed by what the state’s receiving.

We need to save the NHS. Expose the consequences
of life under austerity. Repair the drained defences
of those who have no bed, who sleep on streets, with cracked up senses,
beneath the rich who claim their second homes on their expenses.

We’ll fight to save the NHS. United, we’ll attack.
We’ll show the sick are not to blame for all the things they lack.
Relentless with our pressure, we can make the media crack,
and where compassion’s taken,
We can fight to bring it back.

Glastonbury Mud (Memories of 2016)

I do not know your name.
In Glastonbury, we are all defined by
the mud.
Through rain, we dance,
our names sliding off into mud
waltzing wellies
leave imprints of laughter
across druid drenched earth.

When Bjork sang
‘it takes courage to enjoy it’,
I’m sure she was singing about Glastonbury mud.
It took courage for me to enjoy these
thousands of
voices cheering
when all I’d ever known
from loud crowds
was anxiety and beatings.

I had learned to fear
voices shouting.
My blood on their fists.
Would hide at home,
inside my headphones,
break beats, not war,
Mars as a girl,
red-faced and scared of the world,
scared of names hurled,
stuck to me.
mucky.
Men calling me dirty.
Filthy queer.
Unclean names.

You do not know my names.
In Glastonbury, we are all defined by
the mud.
Through rain, we dance,
our names sliding off into mud
and now, my voice joins
this applauding chorus,
thousands
in rain-coated androgyny’s
ecstatic and grounded harmony
because we are courage.
We are joy.
We are
mud.

Sizzling

Last night, we were lunatics,
bare skin dripping glitter.
Our demonic dancing woke the stars.

Today,
the sun is flirting with us
‘cos the sun thinks we are fit.
Wants us to strip.
Well. Let it tease.
We’re happy to please.
Celebrate our sublime, sweaty skin.

Some stomachs are washboards.
Some bellies beachball.
All are beautiful,
dirty clean,
under this naughty sun.
Cheeky sun,
smacking our cheeks.
Doesn’t peak.
Stares!
Smouldering gaze,

for we are smooth
hairy
fat
skinny
scarred
healing
stripping
sexy.

Don’t think that you’re the only one.
This sun is flirting with us all.
It’s not that you’re not special.
You are special.
We are all special
here.
Devilishly delicious.
Taste it.
We are all
sizzling.

Glastonbury Triolet

Awash with cheer, my flood of friends,
whose words are wet with wit and glee
share juice and beer. Your laughter mends.
Awash with cheer. My flood of friends,
I’ll join you here, for this time sends
my sorrow somewhere far from me.
Awash with cheer, my flood of friends,
whose words are wet with wit and glee.

Glastonbury Mosh-Pit

It is five in the morning,
two people
feel neck skin prickles
under soft summer solstice sunrise,
deep
in a Glastonbury mosh-pit.
As bass-lines boom
through thousands of bouncing feet
searching for a place to stand,
two people
find love
and peace.

Keisha shares water with Kaz.
Spilling laughter.
It is Keisha’s first festival,
so she carries enough smiles
to inspire a nation.
Can repeat line-up times
like children recite times tables.
Has drawn routes to stages
on backs of hands
like maps on pages
of folklore fables.

Grin soaked,
Kaz drinks this water and decides:
Forget the office.
Being with Keisha
means more to Kaz
than team building workmates
who knock down dreams.
Kaz and Keisha met five minutes ago
and now
their friendship is deeper than time.

Here.
They’ve found exactly where they’ll stand.
From pitching tents to their first band,
from raves to campaigns of good will,
from folks who’ll chill to jokes that thrill,
from protest art of paint and steel
to juggled flames and healing fields,
from Pilton Palais to The Glade:
Oxfam.
Greenpeace.
Water Aid.

Imagine
if Kaz and Keisha’s feelings
could be bottled and shared.
Make our thirsty nations
drunk on love.
Cheers refuelled
at the mosh pit stop.
Hope charging
under shared sun beams.
Excited minds,
dripping with dreams.

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