FEATURE: Scott Tyrrell – A Look Back At 2018 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The last twelve months have had the NARC Magazine pages filled with the best creative talent, so we asked a few of them to be kind enough to share some words on the year coming to a close. Next up, it’s poet Scott Tyrrell.

So, how was your 2018?
Busy in different areas than usual. I was commissioned to illustrate a Pagan kid’s book at the start of the year. Although the poetry and comedy are the stuff I do that generally get the press, my day job is still creative direction and illustration. Illustrating an expansive story was something I’ve never tried before and was great to get stuck into. In the Spring I flew out to Hong Kong with work to pitch new education ideas and ended up doing an impromptu poetry gig to clients in a Hong Kong Sky Bar. The fools didn’t stop me. I also plunged my feet into the weird world of corporate after-dinner speaking (harder than it looks) and it was this year my poetry career became old enough to buy me a pint, so we celebrated by releasing a new collection of poems called Honest published by Bristol-based spoken word publishers, Burning Eye. I’ve been doing a little tour round the country over the last few months when work will allow trying to shift copies of the book and practice performing the pieces in preparation for my proper book launch at Northern Stage next month.
I also hatched a mad plan in the Summer to illustrate a Spoken Word map of the UK and Ireland, an idea which quickly went viral in the poetry community to the point I was getting about 5 requests a day from poets wanting to be drawn. The map took 4 months to create in my spare time and features over three hundred spoken word artists. It was a wonderful thing to illustrate and an absolute administrative, bureaucratic and diplomatic nightmare to get everyone’s permission and to be as fair as I could about who made it on. Both the Scottish Poetry Library and the Forward Arts Foundation bought copies of the map – which are now available to buy on Etsy (as well as a tea towel by popular demand). Both items have sold like hot cakes – the first print run sold out in 4 days! One of those crazy ideas that for once turned out better than I expected.
As for what little remains of the year, I’ve still got a few portrait commissions still to do, an interactive Christmas game to finish for work and then I’m availing myself to the mercy of my family over Christmas.

What was your best moment?
Personally, having the likes of former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, Phill Jupitus, Kate Tempest, Lemn Sissay and Benjamin Zephaniah all giving me their permission and support to create my spoken word map. Just wonderfully surreal.
Politically – seeing the kids who survived the Parkland, Florida shooting launch the #NeverAgain campaign. After all those kids had seen and been through, they summoned age-inappropriate stillness and courage to stand in front of the world to fend off the bigotry and logical fallacies of the gun-toting far-right with superhuman calm, measured articulation and inner steel. Despite the big money of the lucrative American weapons industry silencing them once again, I’m deeply heartened that these kids ploughed further through the bullshit than anyone else before them. Please let this be the generation who stop this American money-fuelled, weapon-crazy addiction.

And your worst moment?
The continued embarrassment of Brexit. It’s like being on the Titanic with half the passengers believing we can breathe underwater. Profound ongoing stupidity.

Favourite TV of the year?
Without the likes of Game of Thrones or Stranger Things to block its way, Westworld Season 2 emerged triumphant for me. Clever, subtle, existentially written, impressively designed and beautifully performed.

Your favourite film?
I really wanted it to be Solo, as Donald Glover became this year’s man crush, but it just didn’t hit home for me. The film I unabashedly adored for its pick and mix bag of eighties pop culture and effortlessly marshalled jaw-dropping visuals was Spielberg’s version of Ernest Cline’s classic, Ready Player One. A book custom-made for Spielberg. The result was pure Spielbergian Spielbergness. Like all the Spielbergs there ever were got together to make the most Spielbergy, Spielbergesque Spielburger they could Spielberg together. And even a wee pitch-perfect Kubrickian recreation of the Shining in the middle of the film. Made me beam like I’d just been given a BMX for Christmas. With mushroom grips.

Local Legend of the year?
Undoubtedly, Lost Voice Guy winning BGT. I know from comedian mates that Lee works damn hard and plies his stuff tirelessly when and where he can. Amazing to see him pip it in front of the nation.

Favourite venue of the year?
I got invited to perform at Outspoken at 100 Club in Oxford Street, London. There are photos of previous gigs featuring the Sex Pistols, the Stones, the Clash and Paul McCartney plastered all over the venue walls, as well signatures and drawings of previous artists all over the green room, so the pressure of history is on you not to suck in that place. My suckage was small enough that I shifted a few books that night (and I cheekily scribbled my name on the wall).

What was your favourite gig of the year?
My favourite gig to play this year was Speak in Jimmy’s Bar, Manchester. Speak started early 2018 and is a monthly gig showcasing local and countrywide Spoken Word talent. It’s put together by Manchester-based theatre producer/performers Rosie Fleeshman and Alex Slater and they do an amazing job getting punters in and making the talent feel special. The place was rammed the night I headlined and was one of those gigs that felt effortless and over in a minute. Couldn’t put a foot wrong. Left on a cloud. They’ve probably named a cocktail after me now.
My favourite gig I wasn’t performing at was Clear White Light at the Live Theatre. It’s a gothic play inspired by Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull and his time working at a psychiatric hospital. The play featured some of Lindisfarne’s best known songs and was performed by their drummer Ray Laidlaw, singer Billy Mitchell and local legends Charlie Hardwick and Joe Caffrey. I have to be honest and say I missed most of the first half as all the tickets had sold out but the actor Stephen Tompkinson and my old poetry mucker Jess Johnson snuck me in to the theatre. (Sorry about that, Live. Blame the thesps). However, the play I did see (after I caught up with Stephen and Jess about what I’d missed) was a wonderful, expertly performed sincere love letter to the survival of the NHS by performers at the top of their game. Ace stuff from sublime local talent.

And finally, what has 2019 got in store for you?
My big, proper, official Newcastle Book Launch of Honest is at the Northern Stage on the 18th January. All welcome, it’s free but please book to avoid disappointment. I’ve got the superbly talented Zoe Murtagh and the world’s first door-to-door poet Rowan McCabe supporting me. Should be a great night. In February I’m performing at the Verve poetry festival in Birmingham as a showcase for my publisher Burning Eye, alongside spoken word legends Vanessa Kisuule, Toby Campion and Nora Gomringer. In the spring I’m doing my first gig for the Women’s Institute. No pressure there. And based on the drawings of poets I’ve been doing for my spoken word map I’ve been asked to design the poster for the Glastonbury poetry Line up this year. So, looking alright so far.
You can find more information on the Spoken word mapBook Launch and Verve Poetry Festival with these clickable links.

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