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Luke Wright, Poet Laureate review at Bar Bados, Edinburgh – ‘fierce, wistful and witty poetry’

Luke Wright, Poet Laureate. Photo: Idil Sukan
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Luke Wright has written two cracking, politically-charged verse plays in recent years – What I Learned from Johnny Bevan and Frankie Vah – but this new show sees him return to his roots in performance poetry. And he’s so bloody good at it.

The title of this new hour – Poet Laureate – is both an echo of his debut show 12 years ago and a cheeky tilt at the prestigious position. It’s stuffed with stellar material, delivered, as ever, with galvanising passion.

Part of it is political. Wright wants to show off his ability to analyse and satirise modern culture, so we get a savage attack on Good Morning Britain and a beady-eyed ballad about the fall of Damian McBride – Gordon Brown’s spin doctor.

But Wright deftly weaves in the personal, too. The show’s final poem, currently untitled, is a tear-jerking and remarkably insightful hymn to Britain, and Wright’s relationship with it. Touchingly, he also playfully mocks former Laureate Andrew Motion, then warmly recites Motion’s The Mower.

Fierce, wistful, romantic and witty by turns, this is a sensational hour of poetry. Carol Ann Duffy retires as poet laureate next year, and we’ll get a new one. It probably won’t be Luke Wright. But it would be so brilliant if he were.

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Fierce, wistful and witty hour of partly political, partly personal poetry from master wordsmith Luke Wright