Francesca Beard interview *

Could you describe your work?
I work in live literature, spoken word so I perform poetry. A lot of people don’t like the distinction between poetry for the page and for performance. Its very much geared to a live audience so I try to make the work funny, dramatic, involving the audience in some way sometimes quite directly so I might ask the audience questions. A lot of the stuff I do is in blank verse so although it comes across like normal speak there are rhythms, a lot of internal rhymes. So hopefully there is an interesting pattern that the words form that hold an audience to attention.

How did you get into it?
I’ve always really enjoyed writing. I always used to write even as a child. I was in my mid 20’s kind of writing poetry for myself and not thinking I would ever show anyone and I got dumped really horribly the guy said to me oh you’ll never be anything your a coward and your just doing something you hate. That night I looked in Time out for listing Magazines for open mics, which are nights were you just put your name down and you sign up and read out whatever you’ve got and I just read out my poetry and it was so terrifying it was like a bunjee jump but for that moment it made me forget that terrible angst of being royally dumped and I got slightly addicted to it, it was like a pain killer.

What’s your background?
I am of mixed origin my mother is Chinese Malay, and I was born in Malaysia and my dad’s largely Celtic but UK passport. When I first started I thought I am just me I am not going to write as a women or as a women of mixed race but actually performance poetry is so much about voice and that means quite a lot about identity of course you can invent fictional characters but very soon I was connecting to an audience, if you show an audience who you are you they are much more likely to be open and in fact my solo show Chinese whispers is about identity. It’s not just mine but everyone’s

Where do you perform the majority of my work?
It really depends it varies that’s one of the great things about this job is that it really varies all the venues are completely different. Like a festival a book festival or it could be a pub, theatre space, in the middle of a field, I’ve performed on buses, supermarkets pretty much anywhere.

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*Interview conducted during the 2006 Edinburgh International Book Festival, (3/5).