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Interview with John Hegley

What led you to become a poet?

Hearing the poem, Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc read by my teacher Mister Brennan, at 10 years old, made me want to swim in the sea of lingo.

You often combine poetry with comedy, drawing and music, how did this happen and what do you see yourself as foremost : Poet, Comedian or Musician?

Having all four together can give you the full swimming in language experience – the snorkel, the mask, the flippers – and the trunks.

Have you learnt or discovered anything new during Lockdown?

Like so many – bird song, I have found a great sweetener. And it has been good to have a concerted poke around corners of my neighbourhood. I have learned how to cut and paste on the computer, but have not given up on scissors and Pritt Stick.

What has been the most positive thing for you to come out of this past year?

Warming meetings and phonings with friends and family – placing much more value on these – and I have missed the swimming.

What advice would you give to a budding young poet?

As well as writing about what and who is important to you, perhaps write about folk and things important to others. Read other peoples’ poems, randomly discovered.

You explore such a range of topics within your work; where do you find your inspiration?

In any conversation or situation, there will be many things to spark creation. Take this questionnaire for instance – I have not written enough about scissors.

In particular what inspired your latest workshop ‘Fish and Ships’ that you will present at this year’s Festival?

It has come from the French tradition of sticking a paper fish on somebody’s back on the First of April.

Without giving too much away, what can workshop attendees look forward to?

The aim is to write, draw, shade, snip and listen.

And finally, Fish or Ships?

I have mentioned swimming a few times, so I will say, ships.

John Hegley is appearing at the Festival via live stream on Saturday 8th May at 11am.
Tickets and details here.