Poetry at Repton LitFest 2019

Poetry of Promises in the Theatre Atrium - Gary Carr


It isn’t easy approaching total strangers, even in the context of a literary festival, to ask them to make you a promise. Nor is it easy, when asked, to come up with a pithy – 8 word – promise or wish.


The challenge was met, with varying degrees of humour, sincerity and prompting. This is astonishing and wonderful and has made the challenge of creating poetry from a diverse collection of post-its even more difficult for Mal Dewhirst, Margaret Torr and Gary Carr, the three poets involved in the event.


To give some idea of the diversity there were three Brexit related promises, nine promises of things that the writer wanted to do anyway, fifteen specific and practical ones, nineteen non-specific “I will do better”, several based on scout/guide movement promises, two clearly written by parents for their children, three that more than doubled the eight-word guideline, four pieces of advice about making promises, five wishes and four promises which were so surreal that they might need interpreting first. There were also several about the weather.



I promise to brush my teeth and overthrow capitalism

I promise to keep throwing the starfish back into the sea


When will the poems from this be produced? 

No promises...

Spoken Word Open Mic Featuring Fergus McGonigal


The audience was very appreciative and generous for this event and the level of entertainment, particularly from headliner Fergus McGonigal, was high.


As is traditional for Spoken Word events run by Gary Carr, it was split into three “halves”. The breaks gave performers and audience an opportunity to mix and chat, also allowing open mic performers the chance to offer two sets of differing styles.


Local poet and storyteller, Margaret Torr, took advantage of this to deliver clever contemporary poetry in her first session and a traditional Inuit story in her second. Her poem comprised of only words with four letters is a tour-de-force and was used to good effect in finishing the poetry set.


Staffordshire’s first poet laureate Mal Dewhirst delivered two sets comprised of the poetry of place that is his speciality and Phil Binding’s writing and delivery of poetry about people and relationships ranged from poignant to brilliantly funny


MC Gary Carr also took to the stage delivering poetry based around music and the music industry. 


And for the final thirty minutes, headliner Fergus McGonigal, established his mastery of the audience from the start and working through to finish the set with crowd-pleaser Other People’s Kids and the verbal dexterity of Conversations.

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