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Interview with John Hegley

We asked John about his inspirations, poetry and of course … potatoes…

What came first for you, music or poetry and how did you get started in both?

First I was a singer, doing carols around the Luton dwellings, on my own, all the verses, with guts-oh : a performer.

A show boy. Writing came later. Songs alongside poems. Both given that same early show-them-off treatment of the carroling.

Describe your poetry. Where do you take inspiration from?

Wordplayfulnes with gaps to let in the audience.

For the wording, inspirations are wide. Betjamin and Belloc were two early influences.But playground rhyming too: ‘Do you like toast?.. Go upstairs and kiss the ghost.’ For the audience interplay, the first company to employ me, ‘Interaction’ are much to blame.

You’ve been described as the ‘Spike Milligan’ of our time, who inspires you?

..and of course, Spike Milligan was and is an inspiration.

Your poetry has your own unique twist – do you feel that you can bring poetry to a wider audience in this way? How important is this to you?

Poetry’s audience has always been and always will be wide as wide can be so. It is at best, the best, the sweetest, the bitter-sweetest best of lingo.

What do you hope an audience takes from one of your shows?

I hope for joy, delight. We must aim high.

Tell me what ‘A Potato Show ‘ is all about?

An attempt at joying, through the conduit of verse centred on family, John Keats, fig rolls and SOME potatoes.

Why potato?

Versatile. Basic. Earthy. Capable of putting on a variety show. With lovely flowers.

What are you looking forward to most about your performance at the Dulwich Festival?

The surprises.

John Hegley: A Potato Show
7.30pm Friday 18th May
The George Farha Auditorium, The Laboratory
Dulwich College,
SE21 7LD
Tickets £12/£10 (concessions)