Watch: The Norwich street performer who can recite any poem from memory
PUBLISHED: 11:23 03 February 2016 | UPDATED: 18:27 03 February 2016
Whether you prefer Lewis Carroll or Kipling, Wordsworth or Keats, the chances are Norwich street performer Gary Dexter can recite the poetry of your favourite writer.
For Mr Dexter, 53, is somewhat of a human poetry jukebox with an impressive repertoire of over 150 poems that he has learnt by heart. On most Friday and Saturday nights he can be found out and about in Norwich entertaining people with verses of their choice, effortlessly switching from Shakespeare to Spike Milligan.
Mr Dexter, who has a masters degree in poetry and is the author of several novels and other books under the name Alex Quick, started his act to take a break from computers.
He said: “I stop people and say, ‘sorry to bother you but do you have a favourite poem or poet?’ We talk about poetry and if they have a favourite poem I will recite it, and if they enjoy it – and only if they enjoy it – I offer my hat for any change they may have.”
He has been doing his act for about six months, and has made a list of the most popular poems. Top of the list is If by Rudyard Kipling, followed by WH Auden’s Stop All the Clocks and Philip Larkin’s This Be the Verse. Currently his own favourite poem is William Wordsworth’s The Daffodils.
“The more I have recited it the more I like it. It is a very beautiful, sweet, innocent poem about the beauty of flowers,” he said.
Mr Dexter, who has also performed in Cambridge and London, has received all kinds of responses to his act and plans to write a book based on his experiences. In Norwich, he said he found many people to be “very receptive and educated about poetry”.
“I am always impressed by people’s love of poetry and it is quite striking how some people really do love and appreciate poetry,” he said. “Quite often people say to me, ‘this [his act] could only happen in Norwich.’ I think it’s quite interesting because people’s perception of Norwich is it’s a quirky city with hidden culture waiting to be found.”
Mr Dexter, who lives in Alexandra Road, is also now offering his act for parties, weddings and other occasions.
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TOP TEN POEMS GARY DEXTER IS ASKED FOR IN NORWICH
1: If, by Rudyard Kipling
2: Stop All the Clocks, by WH Auden
3: This Be the Verse, by Philip Larkin
4: Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen
5: The Daffodils, by William Wordsworth
6: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost
7: Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, by Dylan Thomas
8: The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
9: Anything by Spike Milligan
10: Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll