Edinburgh Fringe's favourite poet Luke Wright celebrates 20 years of verse at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre

Poet Luke Wright
Poet Luke Wright

There’s more to 2019 than Brexit. It’s also the year that a new Poet Laureate will be appointed, and in which poet Luke Wright celebrates the 20th anniversary of his first ever gigs with his first all-new poetry show in three years.

The poet, whose last visit to the Stephen Joseph was three years ago with his award-winning What I Learned from Johnny Bevan, will bring his new show Luke Wright, Poet Laureate to the venue in May.

Luke got around to thinking about combining these three momentous events (only two of which, let’s face it, are actual certainties).

So he’s chucked his hat into the ring for poetry’s top job and embarked on a mission to write poems to unite a nation divided by austerity and Brexit.

Can it be done? Can one poet ever really represent an entire nation? Luke delves into the murky world of Poets Laureate past: the heroes, the villains, and ones who didn’t even write poetry – just who are these previously laureled rogues?

He’s a dark horse for the job at best. He rejected his invite to the Palace in 2012 and he’s really got to stop penning all those one-vowelled invectives about Tory politicians if he’s to get a look in.

Luke said: “We turn to poetry at significant times in our lives: births, weddings, and funerals; when we are seeking solace; when we can’t find the right words ourselves. In the internet age we are pretty adept at seeking out the poetry we need. At times of national tragedy the right poet steps forward with the right words. So what need do we have of a national poet? How can just one poet represent our country? The laureateship is imperialistic and patriarchal. It imitates the monarchy it was created to prop up. Maybe it’s time to cut poetry free from the establishment.”

Luke Wright, Poet Laureate enjoyed a two-week sell-out run in Edinburgh, and now the show the critics are calling his best ever takes to the road, including Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre on Saturday May 4

The centrepiece of the show, as always, will be Luke’s blistering verse and impassioned delivery.

Big-hearted and quick-witted, his poems have been lauded by everyone from Patti Smith to The Libertines. Truly a wordsmith and raconteur at the top of his game, he’s a Fringe First winner, a Stage Award and he’s been the Fringe’s favourite poet for 15 years.

Luke performed his first gig aged 17 while still at 6th form college in Colchester in early 1999. His first paid gig followed a few months later at Norwich Arts Centre. Shortly afterwards he co-founded poetry collective Aisle16, going on to inspire a generation of young poets (and reinvigorate a few older ones). He has performed around the world and published a series of acclaimed books. The latest, After Engine Trouble, has just been published by Rough Trade.

Luke has written and performed 12 full-length shows, winning multiple awards for his debut ‘verse play’ What I Learned from Johnny Bevan.

He has been credited with making poetry relevant to a new generation and revitalising the spoken word touring circuit. He has performed in venues ranging from the back rooms of pubs to the London Palladium and a grand chamber in the Palace of Westminster.

He can often be seen opening for John Cooper Clarke, his verse documentaries on Channel 4 have been enjoyed by millions and his poems can be heard on BBC Radios 3 and 4, sometimes further afield. He curates the spoken word line-ups at Port Eliot Festival, Festival Number 6 and The Edinburgh International Book Festival and did so for eleven years for Latitude Festival.

Luke Wright, Poet Laureate can be seen in the McCarthy at 7.45pm on Saturday May 4.

Tickets are priced from £10, and can be booked at the box office on 01723 370541 or via the website: www.sjt.uk.com