Watch: The Norwich street performer who can recite any poem from memory

11:23 03 February 2016

Street poet Gary Dexter, who asks people what their favourite poem is, and he tries to recite it from memory. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Street poet Gary Dexter, who asks people what their favourite poem is, and he tries to recite it from memory. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


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.

Street poet Gary Dexter, who asks people what their favourite poem is, and he tries to recite it from memory. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYStreet poet Gary Dexter, who asks people what their favourite poem is, and he tries to recite it from memory. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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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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


  • how about this poem written by me a local lad Norwich born and bred? The Beast Of Mousehold Heath Mousehold Heath in Norwich was a quiet city forest Where everyday folk would stroll butchers, builders, dentists, florists Courting couples hand in hand would walk amongst the trees With a prison in the middle you’d see 1 or 2 escapees And most of these escapees were never to be found It’s rumoured they were killed and eaten by a fearsome hound This forest held a legend inside there hid a fearsome beast The legend known to locals as The Beast Of Mousehold Heath Over many years many prisoners escaped And most did not return they vanished without trace Norfolk’s top detective was put onto the case Sherlock Moans of Bethel Street would soon come face to face With a beast so cold and cunning and ruthless in it’s wake Just it’s mention to his colleagues in their boots these men would quake Then news came through 4 cons had fled Her Majesty’s Knox Road So Sherlock Moans and colleagues with Alsatians now would go Deep into the heath under darkness of the night Fear gripped these hardened Police as a full moon shined so bright A terrifying scream could be heard off in the distance Then Moans and Co were on the scene in what seemed like an instant 3 cons came rushing through the trees their faces filled with fright These 3 scared escapees had seen a terrifying sight “It’s illuminated white but don’t be fooled this dog is evil!” Then Moans and Co were met by what seemed like a harmless poodle “What’s the bloody fuss?” said Moans “are you pulling my leg?” Then the killer poodle pounced biting off a Policemen’s head In a killing frenzy this evil beast did strike Only Sherlock Moans was to survive that night He never made no sense again his black hair turned to white Moans had gone insane never again would he see light Of day for he was locked away in a psychiatric ward With his imaginary friends he never did get bored Talking incoherently his moods were always manic Screaming “keep that dog away!” he’d break into a panic So if you go out walking up on Mousehold Heath Don’t be fooled by a white poodle for that creature is the beast © Dean Cooper Elston Friday 11th April 2008

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    Dean Cooper Elston

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016

  • I applaud Mr Dexter and his performances. I do not applaud your headline writer who claims that Mr Dexter can recite 'ANY' poem from memory! (But I guess we are getting used to this lazy attitude to facts and truth from the EDP, arent we?)

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    Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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