Poet to visit Wigan as part of epic charity trek for homeless shelter

A poet will prove his boots are made for walking when an impressive charity trek across the Pennines calls in at Wigan.

Monday, 22nd April 2019, 10:03 am
Updated Monday, 22nd April 2019, 10:09 am
Benjamin Guilfoyle will visit The Old Courts

Benjamin Guilfoyle will visit The Old Courts as part of an arduous hike from his hometown of Lancaster to Brighouse in West Yorkshire where he was born.

Along the way Benjamin will live off his way with words as he will rely on the goodwill of audience members to put him up for the night or else have to stay on the streets with his sleeping bag.

He is calling at the Crawford Street arts hub during the 12-day walk and is putting on a night celebrating local literary talent, sharing the bill with Wigan poets George Melling and Louise Fazackerley.

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Performance poet Benjamin is raising money for a local homeless shelter and children’s library and says he was partially inspired when looking for a way to raise cash by another walk undertaken by a Yorkshire writer.

Benjamin said: “I’ve been to The Old Courts once before and I also came to Wigan as a child. I’ve got local artists supporting me in every town I pass through.

“I’m also encouraging the audience to bring along a piece of their own poetry if they like. It’s quite informal, there’s no narrative or show, it’s an evening of a poetry for a good cause.

“The other thing about it is that I don’t have anywhere to stay. I will be relying on the kindness of my audiences, if there is any kindness left, to put me up for the night.

“I hope Wiganers are feeling generous or I will be sleeping outside with a sleeping bag and am going to be cold.

“In 2015 one of my favourite poets Simon Armitage, who’s also from Yorkshire, did a coast to coast walk across England where he called in at places and asked to be put up in exchange for a poetry night.

“I thought I could do something similar but rather than just doing it I wanted to walk for a couple of charities which are very close to me.”

Benjamin’s trek is around 112 miles as the crow flies but he reckons in the end he will be tramping around 125 miles across Lancashire and Yorkshire.

As well as the Wigan night at the culture hub created from the town’s former seat of justice he is performing in towns including Garstang, Preston, Bolton, Salford and Oldham.

Benjamin has been juggling his day job as a primary school teacher with taking to the stage as a performance poet for several years, with his work taking a largely-humorous look at everyday life.

He said: “I’ve done poems about those minor victories you get, like filling the car up with petrol and the cost coming to exactly £20 because you squeeze the nozzle at the right time. I also write about things which annoy me.

“My work tends to be quite comedic. I don’t like doing dour or sad poems, that’s not me.”

Benjamin sets off on his poetry walk on May 22, with the Wigan gig at The Old Courts falling on May 24.

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