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Luke Wright is an obvious poet. This is not to say he’s a bad poet – quite the contrary. What his poetry is is uncomplicated, easy to follow, and enjoyable. His poetry is not the sort that asks you to please bash-your-head-against-the-wall-and-then-have-an-identity/social political-crisis-so-that-this-poem-makes-sense. He gives you an idea, and follows that straightforward principle throughout his show, and as a listener, you follow along happily, probably mostly glad that you don’t have to try all that hard, that you can relax and listen and come away saying that you enjoyed some poetry.
In his Edinburgh Fringe show, Luke Wright: Essex Lion, Wright follows the premise that we all have some thing, some idea that we pin our hopes on. It’s a basic principle, but one that Luke’s poetry has thought out well. The name of his show lends itself to this premise. If you haven’t heard about the Essex lion, the story goes something like – some people thought they saw a lion in Essex. The “lion” was later discovered to be a house cat named Teddy Bear, but no matter, says Wright, it is something to believe in. Wright runs away with this idea, first through a poem dedicated to the Essex lion bunch, who, in his poem, refuse to admit that what they saw was indeed anything less than a lion, and then throughout his show. He creates a show that caters to the idea that we all need something to believe in, be it a lion in the middle of England, a god, or a poem.
Throughout the hour, Wright slipped from poem to poem, inserting anecdotes and self-effacing poetry from his 16-year-old self (I couldn’t stop laughing at this bit and it brought me straight back to my own deeply disastrous teenage poetry). He moved from a nostalgic piece full of his childhood to one about the loss of fame, the loss of that tack holding our hopes together. His work entered into a political realm and moved on to a lament entitled “Houses that used to be Boozers”, accompanied by singer Jenny Bead.
Wright’s show ended with a poem that encouraged his audience not to dash those metaphorical lions, to keep hold of those things that make us unquestionably feel and believe because, as Wright puts it, “Can a thing that makes you feel be anything but real”?