John Hegley, one of the country's most creative contemporary poets returns to Stoke Newington Music Festival showcasing his versatility in poetry and performance

Hegley began his performing career at London's Comedy Store in 1980, and toured as one half of The Brown Paper Bag Brothers with Otiz Cannelloni. He received national exposure when he appeared with his backing band the Popticians on Carrott's Lib in 1983, and recorded two sessions for John Peel in 1983 and 1984. Hegley published his first poetry collection, Visions of the Bone Idol (Poems about Dogs and Glasses), pieces from which were later incorporated into Glad to Wear Glasses, in 1984. Hegley has written a number of collections of poetry, ranging from the surreal through the humorous to the personal and emotional. There are a number of recurring themes in his poems, notably glasses, dogs and reminiscences of his childhood in Luton.

He was presenter of the Border Television series Word of Mouth – in which numerous contemporary poets performed their work – in 1990, and the BBC radio series Hearing with Hegley from 1996 to 1999. His other television appearances include Wogan and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. In 1998, Hegley's poem "Malcolm" came second in a BBC survey to find Britain's most popular comic poem. In 1999 he starred in a Simon Callow-directed revival of the musical The Pajama Game in London's West End.

In September 1999 together with Simon Munnery he wrote and performed in a comedy series for BBC Radio 4 called The Adventures of John and Tony.

Hegley frequently performs live and is a regular at the Edinburgh Festival. His stage act includes elements of poetry, music (he plays the mandolin and is often accompanied by a double bassist), comedy and Luton Town Football Club. He also likes to utilise audience participation in his shows, for example by having a dog drawing competition during the interval, or by asking his audience to try writing poetry themselves.

Hegley launched "Warning: May Contain Nuts", a project using comedy to increase awareness of mental illness. He performed these shows in 2010 with other performers, including comic Mackenzie Taylor, talking about mental illness. 

Stoke Newington Music Festival appearances

Sunday 22 October 13:00 at St Paul's Church West Hackney

One of the country's most creative contemporary poets returns to Stoke Newington Music Festival showcasing his versatility in poetry and performance