Buddy Wakefield

I saw Buddy perform a few years ago at the Old Picture House in Sheffield, he was supporting Roger McGough and he totally blew me away. I’ve never witnessed a physical embodiment of the reading of a poem quite like it. His words combined with his physique to enhance every word and utterance which left me mesmerised.

I spoke with him afterwards, took home his book, but was left missing his words visuallised. You can find out more about him on his Website

He did inspire me to write the following piece though, which is about the performance I saw. I sent it to him once, hopefully one day he will read it and reply.


Within the confines of an engine shed in LA, a loco-motive was born,

Stamped on every inch of its body, its maker’s name plate, borne with PRIDE.

Each length of its brazed and burnished carapace

A reflection of the panel beating it took to fashion its shape.

A panel that became a board, that became a crowd, that became two worlds –

But deaf worlds…

Who, if they’d listen carefully, could hear its heart beating,

Pulsing, throbbing, straining at the brakes.

Begging to be free to run the rails at full speed, it’s whistle blowing in the wind,

Calling people to stations it will stop at and some they will never see.

Somewhere its name is on a schedule, with destinations, times and a terminus –

But till then…

It will run, and run and run some more, from sea to shining sea,

Stoked by the love of a good woman, fuelled by bigots and hypocrisy.

Like two silk sheets caressing themselves as they pass the other way,

Its twin gears, cast in pain, grind out a tension against themselves.

Here, a battery powerpack of polarised opinions, there, a foot on its brake –

But it broke…

Free of the strangling constraints of dysfunctional fake embraces,

Engines hissing, unfettered, the shed left behind, the twin tracks ahead.

Past Boulder, Seattle and Baytown on to Sanborn and Shreveport,

Bypassing New Hatred and Narrow-Minded Junction, it steamed on.

To new stages with new pages, and words, so many words –

But in time…

With rhythm, and sometimes with rhyme the loco-motive channelled its drive,

Its aim became a mission, and its mission made it thrive.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, not the sun but the engineer’s beam,

This unstoppable force is amazing, when it gets up a head of steam.

The loquacious loco-motive engages you with its dream –

But for now…

With its pistons pumping, wheels covering ground old and new,

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