From the start Richard Purnell (the short one) and Gary From Leeds (the horribly tall one) insist that their teaming up as ‘360 degree poetry consultants’ is not a gimmick. The pair believe that their ‘clients’ are best served by delivering snappy, humorous yet seriously thoughtful spoken word. The main thing in question is their work. Their serious height difference has nothing to do with it, even if it does look good on the flyers.
From warnings of heavy assonance to the willful quoting of Sylvia Plath in a public area, Richard and Gary are a well matched pair; Richard does the beauty while Gary focuses more on the main ethical issues of the day (from Gary Lineker’s tan to Sigmund Freud’s only ‘Knock Knock’ joke). Yet, in a BBC-inspired attempt to inform, educate and entertain their audience, they together make effective use of charts and Venn diagrams to point out how a love of poetry can make us all winners in the game of life.
They also explain how poets acquire a sensitivity to death (mourning the death of celebrities is a speciality), an understanding of the vagaries of public transport (which poets are forced to use because they can’t afford to own a car) and an awareness of the numerous allergies/maladies which inflict us all. Add to these three circles the spheres of lust and resentment, and you have a surprisingly familiar-looking Venn diagram defining where the true poetic sweet spot lies.
Quickly establishing a good rapport with their audience — at one point developing a rather peculiar limerick from their suggestions — it’s fair to say that Richard and Gary are very good at showing by example the genuine virtues of poetry. Whether we will ever see, as they hope, ‘a future free of the fear of poetry’, is another matter — but if all poets were like Richard and Gary, it could well happen.