‘The Dragon Who Hates Poetry’ with Dominic Berry: Review

Reading poetry is often described as a moving experience and listening to readings by the winners of Ilkley Festival’s Children’s Poetry Competition really did bring a lump to my throat. The children took to the stage before Dominic Berry’s poetry event and their poems included humorous odes to ‘My Brother Jack’ and ‘Getting Dirty’ and were delivered with spirit and excellent comic timing. On a more serious note, the young boy who contrasted the life of a nine year old child in the West –  greedy for his tenth birthday presents – with a similar aged child in a developing country, wondering if he’ll live to see his tenth birthday, was very touching, as was the young girl who spoke so eloquently about loss. Well done to all of the children involved.

For the main event, poet Dominic Berry then took to the stage for a one-person poetry show featuring a fire-breathing dragon, a host of poetry-loving villagers and a naked hero dressed only in a beer barrel. Dominic was a tour de force, holding the full attention of the audience whilst racing up and down the aisle as an angry dragon intent on punishing anyone caught reciting poetry. The audience were drawn into the event, cast as poetry-reciting villagers eager to show the dragon the error of his ways.

IMG_0281The tension mounted to a high-energy finale, in which the fearsome dragon met Rick, the young hero.  Dominic invited the children to suggest ideas for a poem about Blaze, the dragon, who, in true theatrical style, hated the written word only because he was afraid of being mocked for his own poetry-writing abilities. The power of poems triumphed and lo-and-behold, dragon and boy become a poetry-writing double act.

I loved the fact that Dominic encouraged children to come and chat to him after the event, without the pressure to buy a book. I overhead one girl (in the long queue) asking if she could send him the book she’d written and he promised to offer his advice. For my children, the icing on the cake was when Dominic sat with us in the café and drew them their very own fire-breathing dragon. Surely this is the very essence of what literary festivals offer children; the opportunity to meet, interact with and be inspired by real-life authors and poets. And I for one, would put money on some of the young poetry winners being up on that stage themselves one day.

This event was reviewed at Ilkley Literature Festival. For all the behind-the-scenes info about Ilkley Literature Festival, visit The Pickled Egg, the festival’s official blogger.

To find out more about Dominic Berry, visit his website  or follow him on Twitter (@thepoetdominic).

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