I devoted my last entry to the novel written by Hugh Lupton, ‘The Ballad of John Clare.’ The novel brought alive for me John Clare and the world in which he lived and made me want to know more about him, his poetry and of the author of ‘The Ballad of John Clare’, Hugh Lupton, an oral storyteller. I had not been aware that oral storytelling continues in the UK and that there are performers like Hugh Lupton who do this for a living.
A few words first about Hugh Lupton’s interest in John Clare and his work. In the author’s note for ‘The Ballad of John Clare’ it was the need to depict the emotions which permeated Clare’s early years as well as the language which the poet knew that were the most important elements for Lupton. On Hugh Lupton’s website one can listen to his reading of one of Clare’s poems as well as to Lupton’s own poem about the poet.They capture the reader’s imagination. Hugh Lupton deserves great credit for his efforts to popularise the poetry of John Clare and have him seen as one of the major poets of his time.
What I have found particularly interesting about Hugh Lupton are his performances of classic stories which we all recognise. For example, he has been performing The Iliad, The Odyssey, as well as stories based on the legends of Robin Hood and the Rood. I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Hugh Lupton’s perform live but having listened to the recordings on his website I recommend everyone to do the same. Hugh Lupton’s voice grabs your attention, before his imagination engages you in the narrative and let you share the excitement of an enthralling world. It seems as if the story you are being told is the only thing that you need to hear, as if it was the latest news which will will keep you safe, inform you and give you comfort.
Many of the stories Hugh Lupton performs end up as books for children, ‘The Ballad of John Clare’ is his only adult novel.
It seems to me that the oral storytelling may be a form which a lot of us have forgotten about but which speaks to everyone because it expands one’s imagination and reminds us of the first stories we have heard as children before we could read. Oral storytelling transports us into a different world and leaves us mesmerised. All it takes is a poem, a story, one’s imagination and an audience which is eager to listen.