I wanted to tell you about a tour I’m heading out on in October. It’s probably the most ambitious (and most terrifying) tour I’ve agreed to be a part of it. It’s three massive slabs of terror, really:
1. Imminent terror: It’s SOON. We’re going to head off on the 7th October and we’ve only just agreed the basic outline.
2. Unpredictable terror: By basic outline, we know which counties we’ll be in each day, but we’re leaving all gigs up to social media and you guys. We’ll perform anywhere and everywhere, and we really, really mean it.
3. Nagging self-reflective terror: Throughout the tour we’ll be thinking about, talking about and writing about death. A lot.
Yep, death. That clammy handed ending that we’re all heading towards. It’s probably the most universal and yet impossible theme to cover in writing. We all, without exception, experience death at one point in our lives, but those who do in full don’t get to write about it. Because…well… they’re dead.
It's just so big and so complicated a theme. And it's the source of a huge amount of really, really bad writing. As potentially really, really bad writers, it’s a theme that myself, Tim Clare and MC Mixy have been thinking about a lot (we’re great fun at parties). What happens to the poet, once dead? What can we learn from those who’ve already divebombed into the great unknown? Is it possible to raise an army of undead poets and take over the world, or will our ouija board get little more than a haiku?
All this and more will be explored, as we head off around the country in my battered VW Golf, trying to see as many poets’ graves as possible. We’re going to learn about each of their poets, their takes on the theme within their writing and see whether we can explore it ourselves, whilst hopefully not crashing the car and joining the party too early.
We’re also going to write and perform all over the country to anyone who'll listen to us. And it's the performance side of this tour that's the really, really tricky bit. So far, all we’ve done is agree the graves that we’re going to visit and the days that we’re going to visit them. We now need people to perform to/things to do/places to stay/the smiles of the living to keep us going on our journey. And we’re leaving all of it up to chance.
Or, more accurately we’re leaving it up to you guys.
So, how do you get involved in our Death-a-thon*?
As we travel round we’ll be letting you know where we are and we’ll be looking for bars/schools/homes/bus stops to be invited to perform at. If you have any ideas for gigs in any of the locations, please contact us and let us know. We REALLY need you to scratch your heads on this. No idea is too ridiculous (a belief fully endorsed by the concept of the tour itself). We can perform anywhere and we can write about anything if it keeps us fed, warm and pays for petrol in the tank.
Here's the dates - what would you like us to do?
7th Oct, Monday – CORNWALL/DEVON
Sir John Betjemen – St Enodoc Church, Trebetherick, North Cornwall
Charles Causley – St Thomas Churchyard, Launceston, Cornwall
Ted Hughes – ashes scattered by River Taw, Dartmoor
Robert Herrick – unmarked grave, Dean Prior Church, Devon
8th Oct, Tuesday – SOMERSET/DORSET
TS Eliot – Parish Church of St. Michael, East Coker, Somerset
Cecil Day-Lewis, Thomas Hardy – St. Michael’s Churchyard, Stinsford, Dorset
William Barnes – St. Peter’s Churchyard, Winterborne Came, Dorset
Percy Bysshe Shelley – (heart only) St Peter’s Churchyard, Bournemouth, Dorset
9th Oct, Wednesday – SOMERSET/WILTSHIRE/ISLE OF WIGHT
Siegfried Sassoon – St Andrew’s Churchyard, Mells, Somerset
George Crabbe – St. James’s Church, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
George Herbert – St Andrew’s Church, Bemerton, Wiltshire
Algernon Charles Swinburne – Bonchurch, Isle of Wight
10th Oct, Thursday – LONDON
Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Browning, John Dryden, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Johnson, John Masefield, Rudyard Kipling, Edmund Spenser, Alfred Tennyson… the motherlode, basically – Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – St. Michael’s Church, Highgate
William Blake – Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, City Road, Finsbury
Alexander Pope – St Mary’s Church, Twickenham
Christopher Marlowe – St. Nicholas’s Church, Deptford
11th Oct, Friday – SUFFOLK/NORFOLK/CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Edward Fitzgerald – St Michael & All Angels, Boulge, Suffolk
William Cowper – St. Nicholas Church, East Dereham, Norfolk
John Clare – St. Botolph’s churchyard, Helpston, Cambridgeshire
12th Oct, Saturday – NOTTINGHAMSHIRE/WARWICKSHIRE
Lord Byron – St. Mary Magdalene Church, Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire
William Shakespeare – Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire
13th Oct, Sunday – SHROPSHIRE/SOUTH WALES
A E Housman – St. Lawrence’s Church, Ludlow, Shropshire
Henry Vaughn – St Bridget’s Church, Llansantffraed, Powys
Dylan Thomas – St. Martin’s Church, Laugharne, Dyfed
14th Oct, Monday – YORKSHIRE/HULL
Sylvia Plath – St.Thomas’ Churchyard, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire
Emily Brontë – St. Michael and All Angels’ Church, Haworth, Yorkshire
Philip Larkin – Cottingham Municipal Cemetery, Eppleworth Road, Cottingham, Hull
15th Oct, Tuesday – CUMBRIA
Basil Bunting – Quaker graveyard at Brigflatts, Cumbria
William Wordsworth – St. Oswald’s Churchyard, Grasmere, Cumbria
Robert Southey – St Kentigern’s Churchyard, Crosthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria
Also, if you work in any area of media and fancy interviewing/writing/making a piece about our tour/mid life crises please get in contact. We can write to spec and we'd love to tell more people about our plan/mid life crisis.
You can find me on twitter - @montygristo
or via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.New Video