This year’s Glastonbury website poet in residence is Vanessa Kisuule, a writer and performer based in Bristol, UK. She has won more than ten slam titles and been featured on BBC iPlayer, Radio 1, and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, The Guardian, Blue Peter, Sky TV, Don’t Flop and TEDx.
Vanessa has performed internationally and has two poetry collections published by Burning Eye Books: Joyriding The Storm (2014) and A Recipe For Sorcery (2017). She is currently the Bristol City Poet for 2018 – 2020. For more info, head to her website.
We will be posting Vanessa’s work throughout this year’s Festival, and she’s kicked us off with the wonderful poem below. You can also see her perform in the Poetry&Words tent at 4.05pm on Sunday 30th June.
Love Letter to Lizzo #23
The stage is a galaxy,
shouts of joy orbiting
around your heat and light.
Big. Black. Blessing.
You are all of these things.
I look down at my thighs,
sigh at the years wasted in
the antithesis of worship.
The ground is shaking.
A ceaseless tide of jiggle,
coming home to our own
thrones stoned in onyx.
Exorcised of liquid ghosts,
We sweat and we wail,
skin sacred as a Prince song.
You reflect us reflecting you,
a kaleidoscope of mirrors
gifting us kind and undying joy.
That voice bends and dips,
spits game, soothes spirits.
The moon is a pretty fuckboy
but we eclipse him, regardless.
Here. Now. Yes. You are all of
those things. Your laugh
a love letter addressed to
all of us, envelope upended,
all tits and ass and tears and
faithful tremor. We’re good as hell.
Better, even. As close to heaven as
us glorious heathens could hope for.
The Portaloo Dance, 2.04am
A little trickle,
A tiny, little trickle,
A microscopic, incidental,
That’s all it is, really.
A tiny, teeny, harmless, trickle
Barely kissing the polyester
terrace of my taut gusset
Just an itsy, bitsy, subatomic trickle
Hardly tickling the lettuce, if I’m honest.
And this? This awkward shuffle,
is a dance craze that I’ve just created
to the syncopated rhythm of Portaloo doors
sw-swinging open and sl-slamming shut
And I can see it taking it off, really really taking off,
Those three glittered girls are copying me
as we speak
And this tiny, little trickle
is definitely not becoming a steady drip,
not a shy but tenacious geyser seeping
through my Marks and Sparks finest
to the famed freedom of Inner Thigh Valley
I’m just focused on the crash and shudder of
those doors, gifting the queue with ripe
wafts of what’s inside each time.
I’m not stressed, fussed or flustered
by this smell,
This treacherous trickle growing
to a brazen drip, threatening to be a
FURIOUS FLOOD OF
THE VERY LIQUID
THAT FLOWS FROM
SATAN’S EYES AND PORES,
BRIGHT AS IRN BRU
AND HOT AS MOLTEN
Nope. Not me.
I’m just stood here
Having a little dance
(that’s properly catching on)
That’s all it is, really
The Gospel According to Glastonbury
In mapping the width, breadth
and giddy sway, arrogant minds
are lost in Sisyphean tumbles,
fat tongues drown in tropes.
Such a muchness and just
Two soft eyes to drink it in.
The unbuckled truth is this:
it has never been about music,
though the open jaw of sound
sits wide as a whale’s and the
reverb swells like oceans and
we sing ourselves throatless
it is more: gospel guts untangled,
a pile of clock-hand kindling for
the ritual bonfire of time. All of us
a thick straggle of trapped noise
turned luminous. We ooze out
like the spilt milk of a sunrise,
stretched like yawning dough
drunk on Lazarus laughter.
In the gap between joy and
benevolent blades of grass,
there is a girl dressed as a naked
lightning strike, telling an old tale
of the future. But never mind all
that.The present is piping hot and
pulsing beneath this diligent,
Every anorak-ed disciple wears
a smile here – pan for them like
gold in a silty river. Now: weep
wordlessly at a song you’ve never
heard before, bleeding from a half
empty tent on Sunday afternoon.
Hold the intimate anecdotes of
shiny strangers like lucky pennies.
Tell yourself to yourself.
Stroke the knee of immortality.
Fill your wellies with this feeling.
Feel it and feel it and feel it and
Focus on one, pebble sized thing.
Christen it the god of all good things
on this fickle field of chance.
Then get on those tired knees
(mud and germs be damned).
Let that filthy awe make a feral
convert out of you.
Revenge of the Abandoned Tents
The khaki carcass
of an Argos tent belches.
A beer can sails from his mouth,
a mangled femur bone follows.
His slick, blue skinned friend
is still famished, surveying
the field for sun slack flesh.
She spots her next meal:
lain on a crumpled halo
of wet wipes and woe,
Complete with come-down curved shoulders,
and a falafel-crumb-studded beard stiff
with five day sweat and garnished with glitter.
Delicious. Delirious. Doomed.
She reels him in, mimicking
the rumble of a jungle bass line.
Bearded Boy answers her call,
reverent as a glow stick, mouth
stretched in a wobbly O of worship.
At first he thinks the gnawing sensation
in his toes is a sudden chill in the air,
an errant piece of glass piercing skin.
Too late, he sees the tent’s teeth settle
into his ankle, hears the wet crunch
of blood and bone made snack.
A cluster of crisp packets cheers
as the tent jiggles back and forth,
a frenzy of focused mastication.
The victims’ screams rang across
the field with no ears to catch them.
Thousands of lazy folk leave their
fleeting weekend homes behind,
now they’re nothing but gristle
in the guts of guerrilla retribution.
A grim scene indeed, with a simple moral to heed:
The only guarantee that you also won’t be eaten
is to take your tents away this festival season.