November 06, 2006

BBC Radio Norfolk Article

Reproduced courtesy of BBC Radio Norfolk

Exiled: Gareth Calway

Poet and teacher Gareth Calway plays truant from school to bring his Beatles-inspired performance poetry to the Westacre River Studios, near King's Lynn, on Friday, 3 November, 2006.

Gareth Calway turned 50 this year and wasn't afraid to shout about it. Most people would throw a party and feel a little worse for wear the morning after, but as a showman Gareth decided his birthday celebrations should be shared with most of the UK.

He chose to take his latest literary work Exile In His Own Country, the seventh collection of his poems, on tour.

"I was 50 this year and it was a bit of a landmark, so I thought let's mark it in some way. Celebrate it rather than worry about it," he said.

The tour started in South Wales, where Gareth spent his teenage years. After making his way around England, he brings the tour to a close in his new homeland - Norfolk.

"Some poets write brilliantly and don't read well, other people perform meaningless 'performance poetry' – with vim and gusto but it's hardly worth hearing," he said.

"What I'm trying to do is make both things happen at once. So you get literary quality work in a funny, moving, exciting way.

"The times that people have come up to me afterwards and said 'If I'd known it was like this I'd have come years ago'.

"If only I could get that message over and pack a few theatres - I could give up the day job," he added.

Bard or Beatles?
Gareth Calway is head of English at Smithdon High School in Hunstanton.

He admits his pupils are probably amused that his inspiration for poetry started not with Shakespeare, Wordsworth or Keats, but The Beatles.

"The Beatles lyrics are what got me started. They were about something, they were about things that I'd got going on in my world," he said.

"They were also incredibly talented and famous and got lots of girls so I thought that a good way to make a living," he laughed.

"It was the lyrics of Eleanor Rigby, that story that it tells, I thought it was amazing when I was a kid.

"That's what got me going in the first place and in a kind of homage to that, there's a section in the show called Beatles: A Prose Poem and I do The Beatles moment that was just so brilliant in my childhood, that Beatlemania period," he added.

Gareth Calway performs at the Westacre River Studios on Friday, 3 November, 2006 at 7.30pm. For more details call 01760 755800.

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