Luke Wright is briefly introduced by Babble On (the spoken word strand of the Edinburgh International Book Festival) programmer Becky Fincham as “the hardest working man in poetry”, then the poet takes to the stage and unleashes his poetry on the crowd. The show is marking 20 years since Wright first performed his work in front of an audience and in all this time, he has lost none of his enthusiasm and fervour. The set also marks 15 years since he has been performing in Edinburgh. The poet notes that he has performed in some of the smallest rooms of the city to very few people and he is evidently delighted that the Book Festival Spiegeltent is close to capacity this evening.
Wright performs in front of a bright red backdrop that has his name scrawled on it in big bold white letters. It is quite a striking image and fully conveys the bold veracity of his poetry. We hear poems that look at Brexit, family and life in Britain today and in the past. The Ballad of Edward Dando, William Hague in a Baseball Cap and One Trick Bishop all use comedy and storytelling to draw the listener in, where a more important message lies beneath the laughs and humour. Taking the audience on a journey is also something the performer does with poem Pub Gig in the Middle of Nowhere. Wright begins by describing the smell, feel, taste and sensory nature of pubs. He then develops the piece to present a passionate and considered poem about childhood and family. The poem The Lay-Bys and Bypasses underlines the themes of British identity and nostalgia and draws the event to a close in a triumphant and glorious manner.
To mark Wright’s 20 years as a poet, spoken word record label Nymphs and Thugs has released a vinyl record simply titled Twenty and this accompanies his recent pamphlet on Rough Trade Books After Engine Trouble. Both releases showcase the range of Wright’s work, however he is undoubtedly best experienced live, as showcased this evening.