Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A light hearted evening of poetry and comedy with A.F.Harrold

There's a few of us SCBWI's who could take a leaf out of this man's book when it comes to performing and school visits. It's about presence and engagement, both of which the poet and author A.F.Harrold has in spades. The hair (curly, once red), the beard (long, with a shade of red) all lend him a Hagrid-esque quality. Bouncing on stage to promise an intimate and fun evening with his gruff, no-nonsense humour, there's a twinkle behind the round glasses, a glint in the eye that the evening could take an anarchic turn. It doesn't, although the promise is there.

'Some of you have brought grown-ups' he growls, prowling across the theatre, 'hands up who has brought an embarrassing parent?' Immediately getting about a third of the audience on side, so begins an hour of performance, poetry and song. A.F. Harrold is playful with the audience, encouraging participation like a well behaved stand-up comedian. He reads comic poems with pathos, 'p.14 for anyone following in the text' and two audience members were, he quotes from Things You Find in a Poet's Beard, illustrated by Chris Riddle;
I wish I'd known then
what I now know now-
that it's eggs from the chickens
and milk from the cow.

You see, my first day was rainy,
but worse than that -
I drank chicken juice
with a soft-bolied pat.

(The New Farmer Learns)

The author is the writer of the Fizzelbert Stump series of novels for middle grade, about a boy who lives in a circus, longlisted Carnegie novel The Imaginary and poems for adults and children. He sings some poems in a soft baritone accompanied by a melancholy glockenspiel on a backing track, explains how he was involved in Guerilla (not gorilla) poet at Havant literary festival and was ejected from the local branch of Greggs before he could finish his performance about iced buns, 'I was just trying to bring art to the people.'
A.F.Harrold does bring us art, laughter, poetry and prose. It is a light hearted evening of poetry and comedy, a good example of how a performance should be. There are plenty queuing to buy books and have him sign them after.

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