John Hegley

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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John Hegley (born 1 October 1953) is a popular English performance poet, musician and songwriter whose poems and songs have appeared both in print and on the radio.

He was born in the Newington Green area of Islington, London, England, into a Roman Catholic household. He was brought up in Luton and Bristol. He has a B.Sc. from the University of Bradford in social sciences, concentrating on European literature and the history of ideas. Hegley has French ancestry (his father's name is René), and his family is believed to be related to the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. Prior to his career as a poet he was leader of the comedy group The Popticians, who received national exposure when they recorded two sessions for John Peel in 1984, and who still occasionally joins Hegley on tour.

Hegley has written a number of collections of poetry, ranging from the surreal through the humorous to the personal and emotional.

His first television appearance was on Carrott's Lib in 1983. He was presenter of the television series Word of Mouth in 1990 and the BBC radio series Hearing with Hegley from 1996 to 1999. The University of Luton awarded him an honorary LL.D. in 2000.

Hegley's stage act includes elements of poetry, music (he plays the mandolin and is often accompanied by a double bassist), comedy and Luton Town Football Club. He also likes to utilise audience participation in his shows, perhaps by having a dog drawing competition during the interval, or by asking his audience to think up new 'leaf poems'. A leaf poem is a four-word poem in which the letters of the word LEAF are the first four letters of the words involved. Examples include:

  • Luton Excel At Football
  • Look Everybody A Fish
  • Let's Eat A Fridge


  • Glad to Wear Glasses (1990)
  • Can I come down now Dad? (1992)
  • Five Sugars, Please (1993)
  • Love Cuts (1995)
  • The Family Pack (1997)
  • Beyond our Kennel (1998)
  • These were your Father's (1999) (not mentioned in his Who's Who entry)
  • Dog (2000)
  • My Dog is a Carrot (2002)
  • The Sound of Paint Drying (2003)
  • Uncut Confetti (2006)


  • Spare Pear [sic]/Mobile Home (1984) Double A-sided single of Peel session recordings, with the Popticians
  • I Saw My Dinner On TV (1986) Single with the Popticians
  • Saint and Blurry (1993) Poems and music
  • Hearing with Hegley (1996) BBC audio-cassette taken from the radio series of the same name
  • Family Favourites (2006) Poems and music
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