INTERVIEW: Kate Fox | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The North East’s spoken word DIY scene has changed a lot since the 2000’s, and stand-up poet Kate Fox knows all about it. Her new poetry collection and live show, Bigger On The Inside, is inspired by what a neurodivergent-friendly world would look like through the eyes of Doctor Who. Fox started her career as a radio journalist, continued giving workshops in schools, got spotted by the BBC, and was a poet in residence at the Great North Run, so she is more qualified than anyone to talk about the region’s evolving spoken word scene.

Kate’s book inspired the show, which she performs at The Lit & Phil on Thursday 6th and The Bound in Whitley Bay on Tuesday 11th June; yet the show has changed a lot since its birth. “It still builds on elements of neurodivergence told through the likes of Doctor Who,” Kate explains, but elements of the pandemic have inevitably crept in. “I wrote Bigger On The Inside as a stand-up lecture. It’s funny, nowadays I’m less bothered about there being enough laughs. Some of my poems are funny, but more and more they are not nowadays. People will usually come out saying that they didn’t expect that serious topics could also be funny. I no longer ever describe myself as a comedian, but I’m very funny for a poet, and I’m not that funny for a comedian.”

Some of the poems I have incorporated into the latest version of the show received the feedback that the experience was quite calming and healing. That’s not normally what my performances are!

Just speaking with Kate is giving me a clear idea of what the energy at her show will be like, although there is of course a big difference between the written, and the spoken word. Kate prefers performing her work: “You get that instant feedback. It’s not the same every time you do it, I love the randomness of being in the now. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been wanting to find a bit more stillness. Some of the poems I have incorporated into the latest version of the show received the feedback that the experience was quite calming and healing. That’s not normally what my performances are!”

They of course still are calming and healing on the scale of a bouncing and vibrant personality, so don’t expect her show to be a meditative experience! What you can expect of both book and show is what Kate imagines a neurodivergent-affirming world could look like: “For me, that world would allow us time to regulate our nervous system. And maybe, I’m not saying I’ve cracked it, that has seeped into my writing and into my performance, and it feels more holistic.”

Accessibility inevitably comes up alongside conversations around neurodiversity, and Kate mourns the loss of many online events after the pandemic. “During the pandemic suddenly gigs became accessible to neurodivergent and disabled people by being online, and as soon as the pandemic ended that just stopped. That’s a pity, so I am going to get a version of the show online, either recorded live, or do a special version that will be going online; that’s very important to me, that it’ll be accessible.”

Kate Fox performs Bigger On The Inside at The Lit & Phil, Newcastle on Thursday 6th and The Bound in Whitley Bay on Tuesday 11th June. The book is published on 1st June via Smokestack Books.

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