Q&A with John Hegley

  • Tue, Jan 24, 2023

  • John Hegley is a poet and comedian originally from North London. He has been a guest on BBC Radio 1, he was nominated for the Perrier Comedy Award and he was the Keats House poet in residence in 2012. His works to date include twelve books and one mug! Abi Willock caught up with him to talk all things poetry and spoken word.

    Abi: What is the proudest moment in your career so far?

    John: It was when we got to be on the John Peel show - and I was even more proud when he laughed out loud. At what though, he didn’t reveal. But I think it might have been something to do with the dog.

    Abi: What advice would you give to aspiring poets?

    John: try writing some limericks about everyday things. Add an extra line. Be nice. Read loads, and listen to loads and if you haven't already - try writing a villanelle and if you have already, try singing it and if you have done both of those try singing in a manner or accent you haven't tried.

    Abi: Do you have any tips for performing spoken word?

    John: Use your usual talking voice, but be clear, not too close to the mic and perhaps occasionally close to the edge

    Abi: Where do you gain inspiration for your work?

    John: I was inspired by playground rhymes, like ‘do you like toast? Go upstairs and kiss the ghost’ (you can try making up your own - do you like Leicester?) I was also inspired by litanies in church, and the poem read by Shakespeare's Prince of Morocco when he discovers it's all over between him and Portia.

    Abi: What are you reading at the moment?

    John: I am reading The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc, whose poem Tarantella was another childhood inspiration. I read out bits of his book at one of the informal read-out groups I belong to. These groups, and this process are very helpful. One of the groups is only three people. We are all trying to write a villanelle for next week.

    John Hegley will headline WORD!s first event of 2023, this Thursday 26th January at Attenborough Arts Centre. To find out more and/or book tickets head over here to Attenborough Arts' website.