Francesca Beard

My main motivators are wonder, rage and money, in no particular order.

Describe yourself in 3 words…
Poet, parent, improviser
What inspires you?
I’m constantly curious and questioning about everything but also mega lazy so it takes a lot to galvanise me into writing about anything – my main motivators are wonder, rage and money, in no particular order.

I opened my mouth. No words came out. After a while, I left.

Tell us about your worst ever gig?
It was either in Reading or Luton, circa 1999 and I think I was on with Tim Wells and Tim Turnbull. It was one of my first gigs, perhaps the first gig I did out of London. There was an actual stage. I went out onto it and my mind went blank. I opened my mouth. No words came out. After a while, I left.  I have blanked the name of the venue from my memory.
And your best ever gig?
I recently wrote and toured a new solo show, ‘How to Survive A Post-Truth Apocalypse’, the first long form piece I’ve written since having children. I feel that to make a solo show, it has to be about something knotty and complex, a question that you can’t answer by yourself and want to talk about with other people, a challenge that, if resolved, could change your life. I didn’t think it was fair to go through the process when my children were small. When the show came to London, my kids, who are now 12 and 14, came to see it. Afterwards they wanted to talk about it and I could see they genuinely loved it and honestly, I felt utter and total completion, like, nothing could give me a such a sense of validation, not even winning the Nobel prize for peace AND literature in the same year (my previous ambition).
What’s your number one poetry pet peeve?
Spoken word which doesn’t factor in the audience that’s listening – or not listening.
Whose words do you love at the moment?
I’ve been reading Raymond Antrobus and Caroline Bird with a group of students and loving those words on the page. And I just saw Chris Thorpe’s Status at BAC which was lyrical and lush.

Stop writing, stop trying to be a writer, live.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop writing, stop trying to be a writer, live. I always wanted to be a writer, but now I believe that in order to write, you need to have something to write about and someone to write it for.
What’s your signature dish?
I am an improvisational cook, my signature dish is going into any fridge and making a bunch of random ingredients sing a glorious choral symphony. Or perhaps a simple, breath-taking folk song.

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