‘Officer don’t be a Benny/the thing we saw was MGM-y.’ Last year, some campers in Clacton thought they saw a lion. In Essex. Obviously, they couldn’t have, but the incident and subsequent coverage–it was obviously a slow news day–inspired performance poet Luke Wright to look at the world afresh. Thus he does so, repeatedly, with a skill and depth that belies the at-times unforgivingly metronomic force of his rhyming couplets.
Cards on the table: I’m not, usually, one for poeticals - by which I mean those pallid, pretentious souls so far up their collective derrières that they can’t even speak their own work without those unexpected... pauses and... delays. Thankfully, Wright is not among their number; quite the opposite. His work is sharp, clear and unpretentious in its use of all kinds of language; if, on occasions, his writing verges towards the sentimental, it’s usually within an entirely stomachable context, such as ‘the vice of nostalgia’ felt when reappraising childhood memories of watching BBC’s Sunday drama ‘Lovejoy’, which was filmed near where he grew up.
Wright can come across as a cocky soul at times, but that self-assurance quickly relaxes even a slightly stressed audience; and, for all that bolshy swearing and those humorous introductions, Wright can be a tender soul at times. This remains true whether he’s discussing the memento mori of old rock ‘n’ roll bands reforming to exploit the nostalgia circuit, or dedicating one poem–‘These Books Aren’t Made For Walking’–to everyone who has cried in the dressing rooms of H&M because of cool, fashionable items of clothing they just can’t wear.
Individually, his poems are entertaining enough, but Wright works well at placing them in a sequence which flows naturally, taking in politics (not least his fear of being taken in by Nigel Farage when he’s least expecting it), family history and class expectations. When, at the close, he returns to the subject of that Essex Lion, it feels very like the end to a satisfying and entertaining time in his company.