Award-winning poet Dominic Berry releases a digital album covering two decades of his work.
By Alexander Rhodes at Joined Up Think/Fiftypointfour Recordings
Album title: Selected Poems 1998 to 2018
Label: Fiftypointfour Recordings
I first met Dominic Berry at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016. As a new arrival on the poetry and spoken word scene, I had decided to go and spend a month flyering for other shows, and watching performances of all kinds. I had started my own journey into spoken word eighteen months earlier using the nom de plume; Alexander Rhodes. I had an idea for a show and thought it would be a good idea to go and learn some things. By a strange twist of fate, I ended up staying in “Poets House”. For an entire month, I flyered and watched shows, and hung out with some of the best spoken word artists in the scene. Dominic Berry was one of them.
The first thing that struck me about Dominic, and indeed everyone in that house, was the absolute dedication and professionalism that they put into their craft. Dominic’s focus and discipline extended far beyond his performances. His approach to his work was evident in his approach to the entire month that the fringe ran. He even organised runs up to Arthur’s Seat. (I never made it to any of them). Within a few days of being at poets house, and after sneaking in at 5am again, desperate not to wake anyone, I began evaluating whether I had the right attitude. A month in that house was a valuable education for someone who was coming off the back of two decades of drug abuse, and who was carrying a great deal of emotional baggage. Suffice to say, that Dominic Berry was one of several positive influences on me that year. I am forever grateful to the residents of Poetry House, and Tongue Fu.
Dominic and I stayed in touch. In 2018, I booked Dominic to headline the Pucker Poets stage on the Saturday night of the Denbury music and arts festival, (Glasdenbury). As a group of us, poets and performers sat under the stars at the rear of the Pucker Poets tent, we shared stories. I told everyone how I had run a record label while working as a DJ and music producer in the 90s and 00s. Fiftypointfour Records (50.4 is the latitude of Plymouth), was one of the first in Devon to switch to digital downloads. It was during this conversation that the idea to relaunch a spoken word side to the label was born. It seemed fitting that Dominic should be the first poet featured on the label. His dedication, professionalism, and focus are admirable. If you have ever been to see Dominic perform, you will know what I mean. I love his performances, and I wanted to be a part of making a digital album happen.
Selected Poems 1998-2018 is a solid collection of Dominic “greatest hits” from his adult shows. Although this album features his 16+ poetry, Dominic is also a significant voice in the kid’s poetry scene.
Whether you are a long time fan of his work or are extending your knowledge of whose who in spoken word, then this album is a perfect choice. Recorded in Devon in late 2018, the initial run was produced on pen drives to give Dominic merchandise for his live performances. In true Dominic style, he delivered the entire album in one take the moment the light went red in the booth. We had always planned to release the album digitally. This month Dominic has been shortlisted for the Saboteur Award in the category poet of the year, an honour he was awarded back in 2017. What a perfect way to celebrate that occasion.
You can find Dominic Berry: Selected Poems on Spotify if you like to stream, or on iTunes store if you prefer to own your content. However you want to listen, I am confident that you will enjoy this collection of from one of the nations most respected spoken word performers.
2017 Glastonbury Festival Poet in Residence
2017 winner of Saboteur’s ‘Best Spoken Word Artist’ award
2020 Saboteur’s ‘Best Spoken Word Artist’