Poetry by Paul Lyalls


‘Very, very, very, funny and very very feel-good’
NUS magazine

‘Extremely good poetry but smiles too much’
John Hegley

‘Words of wit, wisdom and intelligence’
Apples and Snakes

Paul Lyalls has  performed at 10 Edinburgh festivals, 1 Eton College, 5 Glastonbury’s and on a 73 Bus, which made the ‘and finally…’ bit of the 6pm national news. He is also one of the stars of BBC2’s ‘Big Slam Poetry House’ and  in 2008 he was Poet for the London borough of Brent (‘London’s 5th coolest borough’) and performed at the new Wembley stadium. In addition to which, for the last 12 years he has  hosted Express Excess, London’s outstanding spoken word night. Whilst he also runs exciting poetry workshops in primary and secondary schools.

This year he has contributed two poems to Penguin’s A-Z of Children’s Poetry and has just published his first full collection of  poems,  Catching the Cascade ( Flipped Eye), from which the following poems are taken.

The Value Of Wales

Its chief contribution to the UK
must be as a unit of measurement,
night after night
a news desk declares
‘An area of Rainforest,
the size of Wales disappears every year’
‘The amount of water
London loses through its creaking Victorian pipes
would fill a swimming pool
the size of Wales’.
Every part of the world has a similar unit of measurement:
in the United States it’s an area the size of New Jersey;
on mainland Europe the reference more often than not
is Slovenia – which appropriately happens to be
98.4 percent the size of Wales.
But just how accurate is Wales
as a unit of measurement?
Just how constant is that land-mass?
It’s worth remembering that at low tide
Wales measures 20,761 SQ KM.
Whereas at high tide, it’s only 20,449 SQ KM
and to really put it into context,
each year coastal erosion erodes an area of Wales
the size of Central Swansea.
For those of you in Europe trying to visualise this,
that’s the equivalent of an area the size of down-town Ljubianna.


Our hotelier pointed out that
all the clocks in all the hotel rooms
all said different times.
So, in some rooms you were late
and in other rooms you were early.
“It’s not a problem”, said the Nuclear Physicist
breakfasting on the next table
“Time actually happens four times slower than
we think”?
“Not round here it doesn’t!” rejoined our hotelier,
“Round here, time happens really fast.”
At which, I gazed out of the window
and surveyed the lifeless two street
regional-coastal town –
which had about as much going
on as a letter that never arrives.
If ever there was an
argument for there not being a God,
this place was it.
“In fact,” continued our hotelier, “you can tell
how much is going on around here
by the all the things that are happening:
in September there’s a Wicker Doll fair,
in October a Poetry Festival and a Science Convention,
in November there’s Bonfire Night
and before you know it,
it’s Christmas.
Right, who’s got time for another cup of tea?”

The Anatomy Of A Bookshop

English Literature
was beside the drinking fountain.
American literature
was over near the vending machine.
next to the fire escape.
was between the first and second floors.
could be found next to the tills.
was below ethics.
by the mirror.
Making The World A Better Place
was next to books on children’s names.
was next to Fantasy.
Was down in the basement
with Wines, Beers and Spirits.

Hard Fast And Beautiful

In John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939),
(which raised the Western genre
to artistic status )
she was the ‘saloon girl’ Dallas
who had been forced out of town
by puritanical women.
When ‘The Ringo Kid’ (John Wayne)
proposes to her, she says
“But you don’t know me,
you don’t know who I am.”
“I know all I want to know.”
he says.
Seeing a glimmer of hope
she asks the drunken doctor
(Thomas Mitchell)
“Is that wrong for a girl like me?
If a man and a woman
love each other?
it’s all right,
ain’t it Doc?”

All poems ©Paul Lyalls 2009

Catching Cascades  is available from all bookshops and Amazon priced  £5.99

Paul Lyalls

Express Excess, every other Wednesday, The Enterprise, 2 Haverstock Hill, London NW3
Doors 8.30pm Performances 9pm
Tickets £5/£3 (concs)
Express Excess Facebook page

Plectrum’s profile of Express Excess from issue one:  READ MORE

Paul Lyalls will also be performing poems from Catching Cascades and hosting the Plectrum Live Edition at Express Excess on Wednesday 3rd February MORE DETAILS

And also:

Monday 25th January: Brighton Komedia club with Will Self & Elvis McGonigal
44 – 47 Gardiner St, 7.30pm, all tickets £12.
Sunday 14th February: RONNIE SCOTTS Jazz verse Jukebox, with Fran Landesman, Dorothea Smartt, Winston Clifford
47 Frith St doors 6.30 show 8pm, tickets£6/5
Fri 26th February: Finsbury Arts Festival with Adam Bloom
St Lukes Central St EC1 8pm, all tickets £5
Sat 27th February: Hawth Theatre with JOHN HEGLEY & Niall O’ Sullivan
Crawley, East Sussex. 8pm,  all tickets £12
Thurs 4th March: Haringey Literature Festival
Wood Green Library. Check with library for full details.
Thursday 18th March: Bang Said the Gun
The Roebuck, 50 Great Dover ST, SE1 London, 8PM, tickets £3

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