Hollie McNish signals the triumphant return of Luke Wright’s Poetry evenings

Luke Wright’s poetry evening at the Corn Hall returned with a genuine star turn, as Hollie McNish read from her latest collection. As ever, though, Wright kicked things off with work of his own, and was as entertaining and insightful as ever.

Opening with the brilliant, yet grotesque, portrait of Monster, this was performance poetry at its best. It was followed by the party piece of Ron’s Knock Off Shop, Wright’s dalliance with univocalic poetry. How cool to only opt for “O” words. For the most part, however, his set turned on familial reflection, be that his son, collecting cash for his books or reading for pleasure, or this Dad, constructing clocks without realising his own artfulness. Only in the closing, extraordinary outburst did the full force of Wright’s powerful stage presence take over, with a hilarious celebratory embrace of pretention.

Hollie McNish is due to play the cavernous St Andrews Hall in November, which tells you what a real treat it was to see her in the relatively intimate setting of the Corn Hall. Deceptively unassuming, I spied her wandering about untroubled by recognition before the gig, but on stage she proved a commanding and charismatic presence. Settling her audience in gently, we got the lowdown on stealing teabags from hotel rooms and what her grandmother thought about that, before delivering a moving account of her on-line funeral during lockdown. “I’m not a grandchild anymore,” she explained, with a raw simplicity. She had much to say about parenting as well, and did so with a fearless honestly that was both touching and daring. She was also very funny, and a tad saucy, but if you want to know how she put her finger on it, (or the dead pig) you really have to go see her.