I love hearing the written word come to life through the art of storytelling. It takes what is a solitary activity into the realms of the shared experience – from reading to performance. I really enjoy reading my stories to an audience and I’ve realised how important it is to read out loud what we’ve written, in a similar way as we would edit our work. Taking the words off the page and releasing them into the ether can often show up inconsistencies of how we’ve weighted our words, particularly with dialogue.

‘Recycle Yourself’ live at Alain Rouveure Gallery.

Being given the opportunity to read my stories aloud, led to working with friend and guitarist, Keith Thompson, in Moses Wiggins. One of the first pieces I worked on for live performance was the short story, ‘Undertow’, which was based around the wonderful song of the same name, written by Steve Knightley and performed by Show Of Hands. I loved the narrative contained in Steve’s lyrics and my story was a way of looking at Steve’s two central characters and seeing how they had got together, what happened to them in the song, and then where they might have ended up. A little presumptuous perhaps, but the final story seemed to hang together well and, when I sent Steve a draft, he was gracious, supportive and encouraging in allowing me to “cut and paste” the original Show Of Hands’ recorded version to create this new version. Thank you Steve.

Undertow written by Steve Knightley (MCPS/PRS). Taken from the album Witness, performed by Show of Hands (Steve Knightley, Phil Beer with Miranda Sykes).

WordSong and Writers’ Block shows give me the opportunity to perform stories and songs in a live setting. As Moses Wiggins, Keith and I have taken our WordSong show out on the road (not exactly in the rock ‘n ‘ roll sense, but certainly in that it requires considerable loading and unloading of my trusty old jeep!) and we’ve now been performing it live for a few years, at many different venues. The show adapts constantly and it is always fun to write and develop new material, adding music and film elements wherever it works creatively. As Writers’ Block, Derek Healy and I combine poetry with short stories, a blend that seems to suit both our individual styles and gives us the opportunity to perform together. Look on the EVENTS page for details of up-coming shows.