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John Hegley ‘Peace, Love & Potatoes’

Writer and performer John Hegley has been described as the Spike Milligan for our time, and as ‘awesomely mundane’ by The Independent. His live shows perfectly convey his chaotic comedy, his rapport with an audience, and his hilarious struggle with words as they threaten to twist and turn out of his grasp.

His surreal poetry is often heard on BBC radio and widely performed ‘live’, often set to music that is played by the poet himself. He has published ten books and other titles of verse, prose and drama, several of which are illustrated with his drawings. He has also published a collection of photographs of potatoes.

Hegley frequently visits classrooms to help teach children – who love his delight in language and offbeat clowning. And in his public performances he often retains a sort of mock-teacherly authority. Audiences are told off (‘No excuse for talking’) and are solemnly invited to participate in wonderfully stupid activities (as in ‘Blancmange’) or to speak French, or to draw pictures.

Hegley’s three short poems about his mother perhaps best illustrate his unique tone of voice, his delight in rhythm, and his celebration of the ordinary things of life. His appeal to children arises from his directness, his being easy to understand, and his jokes – about smelly dogs, glasses, Luton bungalows, handkerchiefs and the misery of human existence.

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