And we have lift off! Heads Up Festival’s 12th season sets out on a four day mission to bring joy, excitement, pose questions and enthral audiences once more. Michelle Dee settles in her comfy seat at the front, pint of local ale in hand, to watch the highly anticipated premiere of Dean Wilson: East Coast Fever, a short film by Dave Lee. Dean is the fourth best poet in Hull.
We find Dean silhouetted against a grey sky, mic stand in hand, atop a crumbling cliff offering up his poem Mary to the wide expanse of the North Sea. It is the one that goes, ‘Even though she once got bitten by a monkey on the Rock of Gibralter, I couldn’t fault her…’
Immediately, you can hear what it is that draws his many fans to his verse; timing. Dean’s timing, his pauses, the steady rhythm like waves on a shale beach, the sheer unadorned brilliance of his delivery, a style and approach all of his own that relies on the audience’s anticipation and his unerring ability to sidestep them.
Later we catch up with Dean walking the beach at Withernsea (With) reminiscing about his life and loves. The short film East Coast Fever is entirely narrated by him with authenticity, honesty and characteristic humility. The unmistakably Hull voice describing the hours passed away with friends in his favourite pubs Oak Vaults and Whalebone, sharing his passion for nautical nick-nacks whilst bemoaning the cruel demise of chintz.
The northern seaside town location and monochrome tones lend the film a quiet romanticism rather like a Don McCullin photograph. The chequerboard dance floor around the empty bandstand echoing past lives, the concrete sound mirror set in the middle of nowhere, resonates with the ghosts of war and Dean’s ongoing passionate elegy to the East Yorkshire coastline.
In between live audio recordings there are insights into the life of being a fourth best poet. It seems fourth best poeting and now being the second-best poet in With involves a lot of bus travel. We join Dean sat on the top deck of the Withernsea bus enjoying the Holderness Coast… ‘Bus fond’ he announces, ‘The bus from Hull to With and With to Hull,’ he explains, as if somehow the return journey might be different.
Being a poet takes a lot of writing and Dean writes every day. He shares a poem he has just written that morning… there’s no ceremony or fanfare with Dean he just loves hearing an audience laugh.
He’s getting just that from the audience tonight as the penny drops during the last line in, perhaps his most well known poem, Hull Hath No Fury Like a Poet Scorned… taken from his debut Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Streets.
A quietly beautiful film that will surely find a welcome home at festival screenings as new audiences take Dean and his unique brand of poetry to their hearts.
Buy Dean Wilson’s Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Streets from Wrecking Ball Press here.
Buy Dean Wilson’s With from Wrecking Ball Press here.
Photo by Anete Sooda.