Cotswold Life - - EDITOR’S COMMENT -

Your ul­ti­mate guide to where to go and what to do in April

Cotswold Life poet-in-res­i­dence and au­thor of eight po­etry col­lec­tions, Peter Wy­ton, has won count­less slams and po­etry com­pe­ti­tions, had his work per­formed on Ra­dio 4’s Po­etry Please and Some­thing Un­der­stood, and ap­pears in the lat­est edi­tion of the Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity Press An­thol­ogy Of War Po­etry.

Later this month he’s join­ing forces with Winch­combe poet Peter Firth to bring their un­de­ni­able wit and glam­our to Chel­tenham’s Play­house The­atre as part of the town’s Po­etry Fes­ti­val.

We caught up with the re­bel­liously ram­bunc­tious rhymer to find out more about what’s in store (see what I did there?)… Disas­tro­naut mag­a­zine de­scribed you as be­ing ‘to po­etry what Evel Knievel is to mo­tor­cy­cles’, Peter. Do you ap­prove? All very fine, com­ing from an in­di­vid­ual who is only vis­it­ing this planet un­til the Court Or­der on his own as­ter­oid lapses. Nev­er­the­less, I can­not but ad­mire the sen­ti­ments ex­pressed by his six heads and the seven wifelets who en­ter­tained me so re­mark­ably when I was ad­mit­ted to the ‘Es­teemed Or­der of Brum­mies Who Rhyme At The Drop Of A Peaked Cap’. Oh, and he’s a proper gent! How do you gauge which of your poems will work with a par­tic­u­lar au­di­ence? Mostly I judge it by what I call ‘Stroud Stan­dard On A Satur­day Night even now The Pel­i­can is no more’. Tell­tale signs in­clude the metal­lic con­tent of the ob­jects be­ing hurled from the cheap seats, the

‘The Two Pe­ters are a rel­a­tively new com­bi­na­tion, but he’s a smash­ing chap, and we have an am­bi­tious pro­gramme in prepa­ra­tion’

vin­tage of the Château d’yquem handed down to me by the Chal­ford glit­terati in the up­per stalls, and the oc­ca­sional in­va­sion of the stage by the en­raged ghost of John Dry­den, who claims that my pre­ferred clos­ing lim­er­ick is a par­ody of one he penned for Charles the Se­cond’s stag-do.

When did you start writ­ing poems?

Can’t say for cer­tain, but by the age of 11 or 12 I notched up sev­eral ap­pear­ances on BBC Ra­dio Chil­dren’s Hour, which, be­ing re­gion­alised, meant Belfast for me. You got a seven-shillings-and-six­penny book to­ken for each ap­pear­ance, which largely went to fi­nanc­ing my Arthur Ran­some col­lec­tion.

What do you make of the young up­starts en­ter­ing the po­etry fray?

Re­sist­ing the oc­ca­sional urge to smack ’em in the knack­ers on ac­count of their pre­co­cious tal­ent, I wel­come them with open and un­abated re­lief. I mean, just think if it was wall-to-wall me and Carol Ann un­til the end of time?

Do you still get a buzz out of hear­ing your po­etry read on Ra­dio 4?

I get a faint stir­ring of plea­sure when Ra­dio Rut­land uses me as light re­lief be­tween

How im­por­tant is per­for­mance to you?

Leav­ing aside some of the re­ac­tions de­tailed in Ques­tion Two, I find au­di­ences an un­remit­ting plea­sure, in general. If there is an art to au­di­ence re­sponse, I’d say that it lies with the per­former ac­knowl­edg­ing that the peo­ple fac­ing him are do­ing him a con­sid­er­able favour, just by be­ing there rather than the other way about!

You’re be­ing joined by Peter Firth at the Chel­tenham Po­etry Fes­ti­val gig. Have you teamed up be­fore?

‘The Two Pe­ters’ are a rel­a­tively new com­bi­na­tion, but he’s a smash­ing chap, we have an am­bi­tious pro­gramme in prepa­ra­tion, which we would be hon­oured to per­form be­fore as many of the pop­u­la­tion as can be squeezed into the Play­house The­atre lounge in Chel­tenham, be­tween 5-6.30pm on April 25!

What can we ex­pect on the evening?

Po­etry, sur­pris­ingly enough… po­etry to make you laugh, po­etry to make you pon­der, po­etry to cap­ture your at­ten­tion and give you some­thing to talk about in the bar af­ter­wards, or in the car on the way home. We’ll be deeply ap­pre­cia­tive if you favour us with your pres­ence!

se­vere weather warn­ings, but yes, Ra­dio 4 has still the power to draw from me a small tit­ter of con­tent.

Peter Firth and Peter Wy­ton

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