Chris Redmond is definitely a pioneer of performance poetry. Emphasis on the performance. You may have seen Chris hosting the extremely successful musical poetry night Tongue Fu, or heard him live on BBC Radio 1 and 4 as well a recent programme for CBBC. Wherever you may have encountered Chris Redmond, you are about to discover a whole new side by turning the pages of his very first collection – Let the Pig Out.
Hi Chris! Your book ‘Let the Pig Out’ has been released! How does it feel to have a collection?
Great thanks! I’m really pleased.
‘Let the Pig Out’ is an interesting title and also the name of one of the poems – how did you discover this brilliant metaphor?
It came from a drummer friend of mine. He got it from a drummer friend of his. It equates to digging in, finding the toughness in the drums, channelling the wildness and the dirt. Since appropriating the name I have learned it’s an actual saying in Germany, which translates as being very similar to our ‘painting the town red.’ Brazilians have a similar saying ‘Soltar a franga’ meaning ‘let the hen out.’
Some of us at Burning Eye were lucky enough to see your scratch show of the same title with Anna Freeman in Bristol, is the show still something you’re working towards?
Yes. It’s got a new name. It’s called Animal now. It’s a comedy spoken word show with live music, exploring all kinds of Animals and where we get our power from (real and imaginary). It all kind of grew from Let The Pig Out. We’ve just received funding from Arts Council England to tour it and we’re taking it to Edinburgh this summer for the festival.
What is your favourite poem in the collection and why?
Hmmm. That’s a bit like asking which is your favourite child? If I pick one, the others are going to start snarking and getting resentful. I’m a peace-maker. Please don’t make me choose.
There is a lot of great imagery and characterisation in these poems perfect for performance, how was the process of transfering to the page?
Thank you. It was more of a challenge than I initially thought to be honest. I had all these pieces I’d written for performance and a load of poems that had just sat in notebooks without ever having been read or heard by anyone else. I had to cull quite a lot of material because even if I liked it, the two writing styles felt a bit incongruous. I had to stand back a bit to try to find a common tone in all of them. I hope they sit together to a reasonable degree. I think we at least got somewhere close.
Do you have any advice for spoken word artists looking to be published?
Having an awareness that what works on stage isn’t always going to transfer easily to the page might be helpful. Test work out as much as possible. Not just on stage, but get others to read it and criticise it. We probably don’t do enough of this for each other.
Finally, what’s next for you?
I’m going to be doing some gigs to promote the book. I’ve got a ton of Tongue Fu shows coming up too. We have our biggest show to date at the Roundhouse on June 3rd with Hollie McNish, Buddy Wakefield, Vanessa Kisuule and some top secret guests. We’re going to be touring Animal this year and next and also starting work on a new one in the Autumn, so there’s a fair bit to be getting on with. Exciting times and all great opportunities for a big of pig.