Art & Events Interview Caro Meets Spoken Word Interview

Luke Wright: Your Daily Poet

By | Published on Friday 1 May 2020

Early in lockdown we alerted you to the fact that a long term favourite of ours, poet Luke Wright, was broadcasting a show every night via Twitter. I wasn’t sure when we first mentioned it just how long that would continue, but he’s still doing it every day and reaching sizeable audiences in the process.

I arranged a quick chat with Luke, to find out more about his shows, how he is keeping his creativity going in our current circumstances, and what his hopes are for the post-lockdown period.

CM: Can you start by telling us about the daily online broadcasts you are staging: what can people who tune in expect from them?
LW: I perform about six poems at each gig, it generally lasts about thirty minutes starting at 8pm. I’m debuting new stuff – I’ve written four new poems in lockdown, two of them are very long ballads; dipping into my collections – ‘The Toll’ from 2017 and ‘Mondeo Man’ from 2013; and then delving into parts of my back catalogue I’ve not looked at for years.

The moods and tones of the sets vary depending on my mood, but they’re always approachable and welcoming. I’ve also started doing a requests night on Saturdays, and every other Wednesday I perform a full show from my back catalogue, the next one of those is my most recent show ‘The Remains Of Logan Dankworth’ on 6 May.

CM: Who are they aimed at? Who are they suitable for?
LW: I don’t think I had any idea of who would tune in when I started them, I just knew I had to have something to do with myself, something to look forward to, otherwise I’d wallow in the misery of having all my work cancelled and my income totally disappear. There is some swearing, so maybe not ideal for young years, otherwise, I’d just suggest dropping by to see if it’s your bag or not.

CM: When you first decided to do the live streams, were you confident that it could work?
LW: I wasn’t sure it would work at all! But I did a test broadcast one afternoon and people confirmed they could hear me and that they’d want to watch a full gig, so then I went for it. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I’d just talk to myself for a bit and then never do it again!

CM: What made you decide to do it every day? It’s a big commitment!
LW: I ask myself that everyday! But I liked the idea of giving myself a challenge. I thought as time wore on the masochism of it would maybe be another reason to watch. It also gives me a bit of structure to my day!

CM: How do you go about deciding on the content for each show? What process do you go through? Is everything prepared in advance or are you improvising too?
LW: I sit down at about 7.00pm and check my mood against which poems I haven’t read for a while and compile a set list. All the chat between is improvised. That hour before going live is very important to switch into some kind of performance mode.

CM: What would you have been doing right now if COVID hadn’t got in the way?
LW: I’d have been touring my new verse play ‘The Remains Of Logan Dankworth’. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever written and I was so pleased to finally have it finished and on the road after a long hard year of development. I have no idea if we’ll even be able to perform it again at this rate. Hope so! Already I’m thinking about next year’s show.

CM: You are a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe, which now won’t be happening – how much of an impact will that have on your year?
LW: I’ll be better off financially for not going, probably! But poorer in spirit. It might be that we return to some kind of normal life by August, only with venues still closed – so maybe I’ll actually have a summer off to relax and rethink, which would be a blessing. There’ll be other Fringes.

CM: How much impact in general do you think this period will have on your life and career?
LW: It’s hard to say really, certainly it’ll give me time to write and I think my new show will be better for it, but I don’t think it’ll change the way I work in future, providing there are still venues to go back to. Live performance will never be replaced by streamed performance, not for me at any rate.

CM: But do you think that the growth we have seen of artists conveying their work via ‘virtual’ means might continue after lockdown? Is there a future, do you think, for it to become a more normalised way of accessing culture?
LW: Perhaps, and perhaps I’ll be less shy about doing the odd streamed gig every now and then. I do enjoy the direct link with the people who like my work. So I think I’ll probably do a bit more of that, but I really hope live performance bounces back.

CM: What are your hopes for the future, post lockdown? Are you making plans? Are you hoping still to stage the work you would have been doing now?
LW: Yes, hopefully we can get ‘The Remains Of Logan Dankworth’ back on the road in the Autumn. I’ve also been writing a new show, it’s a series of ballads written for popular entertainment in Georgian times rewritten for the modern era. It’s loads of fun and I can’t wait to perform it in venues, so I don’t think I’ll be pushing everything back a year, I’ll just forge on with the next thing.

Luke performs nightly from 8.00pm, tune in via his Twitter profile here. |