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