Your England performance in Roundabout

Press Release

From King Arthur’s Round Table in Eden to Winston Churchill at Dover Castle, and from Brixton Market to the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral, our national story can be found in the buildings all around us.

Travelling from one end of the country to the other, before and after the 2016 referendum, artist and writer Dan Thompson has become interested in how the stories told about England’s historic buildings reflect our sense of identity. In a new project, taking place over the next year, he plans to write 100 poems about 100 places, which together will form a history of England.

In this special.performance in pop up theatre Roundabout, Thompson will read some of the first poems written. In this free show he tells the story of the first black trader in Brixton Market, Basil Spence rebuilding Coventry Cathedral after the Blitz, the architect who created an Egyptian temple in Leeds, and the man who discovered Margate’s Shell Grotto.

“The show will appeal to people interested in local history, printing presses, historic buildings, lost rivers, poetry, or the split in society brought about by Brexit,” he says.

Thompson has worked as an artist across the UK, often working with local people to explore the place they live. He made a set of signal flags for Estuary Festival, which subsequently toured as a backdrop with The Libertines, and in 2017 programmed the Estuary Festival in Swansea. He has won Coast’s Unsung Hero Award, been included on The Independent’s Happy List, and listed by Time Out as one of the hundred most influential people in the UK’s creative industries.

He has previously performed a one man show in Roundabout in Stoke and Margate. This one-off performance, titled Your England, takes place at 2.30pm on Friday 21st September. It lasts around 45 minutes and is free. Your England is supported by Marine Studios and is part of the Margate Festival. For more information visit http://www.danthompson.co.uk.

Download Your England – Press Release (pdf)

Your England final web.jpg

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An old poem for a long-past Poetry Day

This was commissioned by the Worthing Herald for National Poetry Day; I’d marked the previous National Poetry Day by being poet in residence, writing poems about the week’s news. This poem was supposed to celebrate the way that the paper was part of the fabric of life in the town, from the hills to the beach; thoroughly there at every moment in everyday life. The editor thought it was just encouraging people to burn the paper so he didn’t print it.

We rose early and
made paper aeroplanes
from pages of last week’s paper;
we threw them from the highest point
of tattered Teville Gate,
and watched them drift over
the empty, old Norfolk Hotel;
further south towards the Town Hall tower;
and west towards the Creative Quarter.

We made banners from the sports pages
and waved them high as we marched for Fair Trade
and against Tetra masts.

We wrapped morning-caught fish
in the small ads,
ate our local catch with chips for lunch.

Later we made an armada of paper boats
and launched them from the landing stage
of the Art Deco pier;
watched them drift in the lazy late afternoon sun,
west to Littlehampton and out
to the distant, just-visible Isle of Wight.

And as the sun set we stood on Highdown hill
and lit the fire under a hot air balloon
(a two foot wide ball of twisted withy sticks
and pages from the business section and glue)
and watched it float high over Worthing
before it was lost in the fading light
and caught by its own flames.

Prize-winning poetry

I haven’t been out and about much as a poet in the last year, as I’d lost the ability to write. But in the last couple of months I have felt inspired again and produced a few sketches, thoughts and ideas that might shape up into something altogether epic. I road-tested a couple at a poetry night in a cramped room upstairs at the Lewes Arms last night, performing alongside Russ Bravo (pictured).

They got a good response.

However, there was a limerick competition in the interval, with a theme of John Terry, his team mates and their assorted girlfriends, wives and mistresses. And the crowd chose my effort as the winner – so I’m now officially a prize-winning poet thanks to this:

Our new national sport is wife swapping
We’re all busy changing and chopping
and our wives don’t complain
cos they do the same
when they’re not too busy with shopping