Olly Watson is a thatcher not a poet so has absolutely no clue how he has managed to convince loads of people to put him on stage. He has gigged all over the country including four solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, often to crowds in the tens of people, runs his own poetry night in Norwich and was a 2017 National poetry slam finalist. It is true that he’s a much better thatcher than he is a poet, but he is a damn fine thatcher.
Olly Watson introduces himself in typically modest fashion but his poetry is worth hearing along with his philosophy on being creative and happy, and praise for the various people who have influenced him.
Olly’s writing exercise is to write a new version of an existing poem. He gives Philip Larkin’s poem Sad Steps a twist and Patrick rewrites Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art from a different angle. Please share your own efforts by email or in the comments.
Olly Watson is a firm favourite on the Norwich spoken word scene and has performed all over the country including the National Poetry Slam finals in London and four solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Tune in to the forthcoming podcast to hear more of his poetry and what inspires him. Here’s a taste of his poetry and you can see his Edinburgh show, A Thatcher’s Guide to Dogging in Bungay, below.
His jumper was to big for him, but it looked warm. I sat alone because no-one I knew liked poetry and I hadn’t asked. “You want to come to see a poet with me? So I don’t have to play on my phone, look busy, look wanted.” he read and all I could think about was his jumper where it would fall on my thighs, how it would be great to sleep in. I used to have a similar jumper, which you used to steal. It had a hood, but his was yellow and sailorish so they were probably equal. I think I left it on a beach in North Norfolk on that last holiday we had, when the kids were little and we could barely stand each other, and we hoped they wouldn’t notice that one of us was always, “Popping for ice cream,” or, “Just having a nap.” One night it rained and we were all trapped in the tent. One last night to be sure, then, whatever came next.
Bristol-based poet David Hanlon began writing poetry after recovering from depression. He was inspired by previous podcast guest Christina Thatcher to explore past experiences through poetry. Christina became his mentor and he has been widely published.
On this podcast he discusses his debut publication The Spectrum of Flight. In it he explores themes such as sexuality, homophobia, bullying, toxic masculinity, depression, love, resilience and, ultimately, recovery. Delving into deeply personal terrain, Hanlon exhumes an adolescence pummelled by name-calling that grew a beast of shame inside him and rendered him silent. In revisiting these painful experiences, and a resulting adulthood charred by the fluctuating and precarious nature of his mental health, he battles to reclaim his voice and grasp self-acceptance; to prize open the metal bars of his caged body: ‘a moulting of the internalised’, to spread his wings and soar: unleashing, and finally embracing, the spectrum of his identity.
David’s writing exercise
As David’s collection is all about flight as a metaphor for rising above and overcoming hardship write a poem about flight. Try using personal experiences as inspiration. The flight could be literal or metaphorical. It may dominate the poem or be one detail. Try free writing until your imagination grows wings, then see where it takes you.
As always we’d love to hear what you come up with. Please share via email or online using #poetrynonstop.
David Hanlon is a confessional poet from Cardiff, Wales, now living in Bristol, England. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 online magazines. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @DavidHanlon13