Graves Tour Pic blog

In case you don’t know, Mark Grist, MC Mixy and I are setting off on a pilgrimage round the graves of some the UK’s most famous poets. We’re going to be learning about the lives and work of the wordsmiths who came before us, and writing new pieces inspired by them, our experiences on the tour, and, no doubt, death.

Along the way, we’re looking to get in as many performances as we can. To make it interesting, we’re asking people to offer us gigs near the various graves. We’re up for absolutely anything (er, in principle!) and we’re still accepting offers – please do email me via the ‘Contact Me’ link on the right if you live the region and have a suggestion. It might be something weird and small – dropping into someone’s work over lunch, a 10 minute set in a service elevator, a boat ride, whatever.

We still need to get some nights sorted out! Can you help? I’ll update this post as we lockdown more gigs, so check back here to see what we add, and please do link to this post, FB it and tweet it out and basically let the world know that we’re coming. We’d love to see you at one of these events. Do come and say hello. This tour has no funding, and most of the gigs we’re doing for free or for accommodation, so we’ll be flogging merch to cover our petrol money and hopefully leave us enough over for a couple of garage forecourt sausage rolls.

The order we visit the graves each day hasn’t been finalised yet. We need to sit down with an A-Z and plot our best route. But we’re also flexible, if you have any particular gig offers you want to put our way.

Below is a list of the graves we’re visiting each day, along with the shows we’ll be performing elsewhere.

6th Oct, Sunday – BRISTOL
Tour launch gig: 7:30pm doors for 8pm start – The Leftbank, 128 Cheltenham Rd, Stokes Croft, BS6 5RW. FREE. Come and wave us off as we prepare for our journey round the final resting places of dead wordsmiths. We’ll do a big, high-energy set and celebrate still being alive… for now.

7th Oct, Monday – CORNWALL/DEVON
Robert Herrick – unmarked grave, Dean Prior Church, Devon
Ted Hughes – ashes scattered by River Taw, Dartmoor
Sir John Betjemen – St Enodoc Church, Trebetherick, North Cornwall
Charles Causley – St Thomas Churchyard, Launceston, Cornwall

4pm – The Ram Bar, Exeter University; performance for Exeter Uni Theological Society

7:30pm – The White Horse, Launceston; FB event here – we’ll be doing an evening of writing and performing poems. The pub is right by Charles Causley’s grave, so a great way to start the tour. I suspect this will be a good ‘un, so all you Devon and Cornwall poetry folks, make the journey! Tweet us if you’re driving or if you need a lift and we can help arrange car-shares.

8th Oct, Tuesday – SOMERSET/DORSET
TS Eliot – Parish Church of St. Michael, East Coker, Somerset
Cecil Day-Lewis, Thomas Hardy – St. Michael’s Churchyard, Stinsford, Dorset
William Barnes – St. Peter’s Churchyard, Winterborne Came, Dorset
Percy Bysshe Shelley – (heart only) St Peter’s Churchyard, Bournemouth, Dorset

8pm – The Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth; we’ll be supported by some local poets – FB event here – come say hello!

Siegfried Sassoon – St Andrew’s Churchyard, Mells, Somerset
George Crabbe – St. James’s Church, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
George Herbert – St Andrew’s Church, Bemerton, Wiltshire
Algernon Charles Swinburne – Bonchurch, Isle of Wight

8.30pm – The Headless Drummer, in Herstmonceaux Castle, Wartling, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 1RN – FB event here

10th Oct, Thursday – LONDON
Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Browning, John Dryden, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Johnson, John Masefield, Rudyard Kipling, Edmund Spenser, Alfred Tennyson… the motherlode, basically – Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – St. Michael’s Church, Highgate
William Blake – Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, City Road, Finsbury
Alexander Pope – St Mary’s Church, Twickenham
Christopher Marlowe – St. Nicholas’s Church, Deptford

7:30pm – The Two Chairmen, Trafalgar Square; FB event here – join us for a night of poetry and socking Death on the jaw as we celebrate our most corpse-packed day yet! Appropriately, we will pack as many bodies as we can into the upstairs room of this pub, and we’ll have some special guest poets on the bill, and it will be loud and not at all morbid. Well, maybe just a bit.

Edward Fitzgerald – St Michael & All Angels, Boulge, Suffolk
William Cowper – St. Nicholas Church, East Dereham, Norfolk
John Clare – St. Botolph’s churchyard, Helpston, Cambridgeshire

9am – Pakefield High School, Lowestoft; we’re writing a bunch of death and ghost-themed poems with the students, and performing ourselves. Very excited!

7pm – Anglia Ruskin Society, Cambridge, private gig

Lord Byron – St. Mary Magdalene Church, Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire
William Shakespeare – Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire

3pm – Hall’s Croft Café, Stratford-on-Avon; a little afternoon reading near Shakespeare’s grave. Would love to see you for tea and cake, if you’re nearby.

8pm – Ruskin College, Ruskin Road, Dunstan Hall, Oxford

A E Housman – St. Lawrence’s Church, Ludlow, Shropshire
Henry Vaughn – St Bridget’s Church, Llansantffraed, Powys
Dylan Thomas – St. Martin’s Church, Laugharne, Dyfed

7:30pm – Poetry and a Pint @ The Salusbury Arms, Tremeirchion; FB event here – tickets are £10 and include a pint at the bar of this cracking pub. Really looking forward to our only performance in Wales. Maybe email or tweet us if you’d like to come – especially if you’re coming by car – and we can try to help people organise lift-shares. Come and join us for a fun gig and some beers.

14th Oct, Monday – YORKSHIRE/HULL
Sylvia Plath – St.Thomas’ Churchyard, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire
Emily Brontë – St. Michael and All Angels’ Church, Haworth, Yorkshire
Philip Larkin – Cottingham Municipal Cemetery, Eppleworth Road, Cottingham, Hull

8pm – Union Mash Up, Hull; FB event here. This one will be great! It’s free. Expect some Larkin tributes.

15th Oct, Tuesday – CUMBRIA
Basil Bunting – Quaker graveyard at Brigflatts, Cumbria
William Wordsworth – St. Oswald’s Churchyard, Grasmere, Cumbria
Robert Southey – St Kentigern’s Churchyard, Crosthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria

We’re in Lancaster this evening. Gig open to all. I’ll update this space with venue, or follow on Twitter for info!

16th Oct, Wednesday – DUMFRIES
Robert Burns – St. Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries

7:30pm – The Globe Inn, Dumfries; FB event here – our last grave of the tour – come and help us celebrate while remembering the work of one of the greatest poets of all time, Robert Burns.

17th Oct, Thursday – DURHAM
7pm – Empty Shop HQ, 36c Framwellgate Bridge, Durham; we’re doing a gig where we talk about our journey and perform some new material about the poets we’ve met – I expect we’ll have some stories!

18th Oct, Friday – LEEDS
9am – Morley Academy, Leeds; a day’s teaching poetry to round off the tour.

We’ve had such an incredible amount of help with this. Whole teams of retweeters and promoters sending kind emails, tip-offs and hints and phone conversations and encouragement. Those of you who have just shared the tour dates have done so much to boost our chances. I can’t say it without being cheesy but your support so far has been incredible. Thank you.

I know this is a bit mad, but I’ve been blown away by how excited other people are getting about this. It’s nice to know so many people are a bit nuts. We’ll try to reward your good faith by doing the best damn gigs we can.