Live | Candy Royalle

The Butch Priestess International Tour

Cellar Bards, Cardigan

Candy RoyalleThe Butch Priestess International Tour landed at the Cellar Bards in Cardigan on Friday night (29th of May). It was the second gig of a two month tour which takes Australia based Candy Royalle across Wales, England and Northern Ireland – the Scots are missing out.

In a fifty minute set of an energetic, assured, and startling performance, Royalle engaged and enthralled with poems such as ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ and ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ from her recent collection Heartbeats while also offering new poems – about a house, about friends, about betrayed love, and about meeting an ex at Central Station – we all have a Central Station somewhere.

As a performer she wants to understand the energy of her audience, a gig in London had left her feeling alone on the stage – here the empathy is evident from the start and the performance thrives. Her introductions to her work are succinct and revealing; there’s humour, context and pathos in her delivery and as with all the best performers she knows her lines.

She finishes with ‘Memories’, an exposition of what it means to her to be born in Australia, queer, a second generation immigrant with memories that are Palestinian of their baladi, their homeland. It opens with a quiet refrain, luring the listener in…


I am my grandfather’s memories
Of sunshine streaming through olive trees
Of women sitting around and clucking like hens
As they crush garlic with spices
To make the night’s meal
Whilst men tend gardens
Plough the fields
Of their baladi
Their homeland


I am my grandfather’s memories
Remembering that
He was raised as a Christian
In a land of Muslims
With Jewish friends


He played in the dirt
With his future enemies
Shared meals
And didn’t yet know
That history was in the making


It continues into a long poem, bristling with memory and feeling and things to say about hope and life and history building into a classic. This is the best live performance of a poem I’ve heard in years.

A five star performance. She’s in the UK for two months, you’d be daft not catch a gig.


Candy Royalle is appearing with Heartspoken the Kuku Club, Park Plaza Hotel, Cardiff on the 14th of June and in Swansea on the 26th of June at Mozart’s 768 Walter Road Uplands Swansea. Various other venues on the website.

Lewis Davies is currently playwright in residence at Rhosygilwen Hall.