Who is Jude?

Poet. Wordsmith. Writer. Performer.

I mess around with words.  Joyfully, nerdily, committedly. I collect and choreograph them into poems and rhymes, which I speak, shout, sing and sometimes write down.  I seem to be able to express scenarios, feelings and observations that other people recognise and relate to.  I create songs – or alternative lyrics to other people’s songs – and I sing them out loud.  My writing is characterised by a light-hearted, quirky approach and a warm, positive outlook.  I like people to feel good and smile, and I love making people laugh.  Oh I love it.  It’s an extraordinary privilege.  A nerve-wracking privilege.  A wonder-making, ‘where-did-that-come-from’ moment that always fills me with adrenalin and joy (and sometimes relief). 

I have four children.  Which is a full-time job (well, four full-time jobs).  I haven’t been on the performing circuit since being pregnant with number 2, because it was all too much, and I wanted to devote myself to their early years.  But I also love writing and performing, and that expresses so much of me that I am missing it more and more.  Also, my children love to see me write and perform, so I want to do it for them too – if possible, before they’re too old not to be embarrassed by me…  In some ways, I can’t wait to be on stage and performing again, but how to make the logistics of that lifestyle work with Primary School children’s schedules?  And once I start again, I want to do it wholeheartedly, not dabble.  So here I am, trying to square the dodecahedron that is motherhood, and all the different types of work it involves.

“Jude Simpson is a unique writer and entertainer, combining insightful observational comedy with poetry, rap and song to create a unique act which leaves audiences smiling, laughing and occasionally hungry.

Her writing is lighthearted and upbeat, though with a linguistic craftsmanship which has had her compared to Victoria Wood and Joyce Grenfell.”

I am Poet In Residence at Homestart Royston and South Cambs.  A fantastic bunch of people, who do tremendously valuable work supporting families in times of crisis.  I am so proud of what they do, and thrilled to be able to contribute my little bit to support them.  I have presented quite a few events for Homestart, including Literary Lunches (back on post-lockdown, hopefully) where I’ve met and interviewed artist Ophelia Redpath, crime writer Alison Bruce and novelist Madeleine Reiss among others.  I’ve also hosted a concert of local choirs.  I write an occasional blog for Homestart’s website, and have produced a range of poems reflecting their work.  Later in 2021 Homestart will be publishing a small book of thank-you poems I’ve written, beautifully illustrated and put together.  I look forward to more events and performances to come, all in the Royston / South Cambs area – do join my mailing list (see home page) if you would like to have notice of these when such things are finally possible again… 

Quick-fire humour, fast pace and punchy rhymes
Arts Hub

It’s been a while since I was on the road – but here’s a flavour of how it used to be!!!!….

TV AND RADIO

Jude has spoken and performed on various radio programmes, and very occasionally on telly!  She appeared with Matt Harvey on his Radio 4 show “Wondermentalist Cabaret” some years ago.  She has also performed on BBC Radio 4′s “Saturday Live” show when it was presented by Fi Glover, and guested on the BBC World Service’s “Everywoman” (alongside author Carol Clewlow in a discussion on the nature of singleness, and whether the word “spinster” should be consigned to history…).

Jude appeared for BBC Radio 2 in March 2005 in “Eddie Izzard’s Late Night Cabaret”, performing alongside the likes of Guy Barker, Beverley Knight, Jerry hall and Pete Townsend… And she was one of just 8 poets from across the UK to appear on BBC3′s slam show “Slam Poets”, hosted by Lemn Sissay and produced by Baby Cow in October 2004.

“rhythm, rhyme and the quirkiness of life”
British Theatre Guide

Jude performed her Andrew Marr poem on the Today Programme for BBC Radio 4 during the 2005 election campaign. The performance was subsequently featured on Pick of the Week and the Election Round-up. She was one of 15 poets selected for BBC Radio 7′s “Stand Up Poetry” series hosted by Matt Harvey in February 2005.

Jude has also appeared on Word for Word with Dotun Adebayo for BBC Radio London and on a regular news-review slot on BBC Radio Solent. She has worked as a presenter on community radio Riverside FM in association with Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, and on Riverside Radio in Charing Cross Hospital. She has been a regular contributor to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire where she has taken part in news reviews and presented a series of meditations for advent.

SHOWS AND SLAMS

Jude has completed four successful runs at the Edinburgh Festival with a solo show of stand-up poetry, song and comedy. These shows have been toured around the UK at arts festivals, theatres and other venues. “Making Happy” toured in 2009-10. “Growing Up Games” was in 2007-08, with “More, More!” and “Tut, Tut”, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004 and 2003 respectively. Phew, that’s a long time ago!

Jude was part of the original cast for the two runs of the acclaimed “ten poet jam” at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London, where she performed poetry alongside other performance poets and rappers including Crisis, Gemma Weekes, Nikesh Shukla and Kat Francois.

A charismatic and skilful performer
The Stage

In May 2006, Jude won the Swindon Festival of Literature Poetry Slam. In August 2004 Jude won the Edinburgh International Book Festival slam organised by Big Word. In October 2003, Jude won the UK Allcomers Slam at the Cheltenham Literature Festival – the biggest slam poetry competition in Europe.

Jude performs her own brand of poetic and musical cabaret comedy at literature festivals, cabaret clubs, music events, acoustic clubs, charity events, private functions, comedy clubs. She is also available for compering/hosting poetry or cabaret events.

(this is a very old picture now, but I still love it!)
  • “Eddie Izzard’s Late Night Cabaret” – BBC Radio 2
  • “Poetry Stand Up” – BBC Radio 7
  • “Slam Poets” – BBC3 TV (Baby Cow productions)
  • “10 Poet Jam” – Theatre Royal, Stratford East
  • Apples and Snakes (Battersea Arts Centre)
  • BBC Radio 4 “Saturday Live”
  • Wolsey Theatre Club, Ipswich
  • Bristol Poetry Festival
  • Market Theatre, Ledbury
  • Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead
  • Horsebridge Arts Centre, Whitstable, Kent
  • Maltings Theatre, St Albans
  • Canal Cafe Theatre, London
  • Colchester Arts Centre
  • “Taking the Mic” – Merton (Project Adorno)
  • Cabaret Lounge – at the Zetter – with Millionth Muse productions
  • The Junction, Cambridge
  • New Wolsey Studio, Ipswich
  • Cheltenham Festival of Literature
  • Cambridge Wordfest
  • “Tip of the Tongue Festival, Penzance
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival (slam winner with Big Word)
  • Poetry Live, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Greenbelt Arts Festival
  • Bristol Poetry Festival
  • Ealing Arts Festival (with Apples and Snakes)
  • New Wine Festival
  • Eclectic Cabaret, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Leamington Peace Festival
  • Henley Festival of Music and the Arts
  • Swindon Festival of Literature
  • Express Excess
  • Luke Wright’s Poetry Party
  • Phil’s Acoustic night, Trent Park
  • Latitude Festival, Suffolk
  • Komedia, Brighton
  • Rhythms of the World Festival, Hitchin
  • Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (sellout!)
  • Lydney Festival, Gloucestershire
  • Richmond-on-Thames
  • The Hat Factory, Luton
  • Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead
  • Letchworth Arts Centre ///Glastonbury Festival
  • Birmingham Rep
  • Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans ///The Carriageworks, Leeds (sellout!)
  • The Lowry, Salford
  • Brampton Festival, Cumbria
  • New Wine Summer Conference, Newark
  • “Rhythm and Muse” at the Wallace theatre, Twickenham
  • “You Must be Stoking”, Guildford
  • “Utter!”: Spoken Word at the Edinburgh Festival
  • The Camden Fringe, London
  • Aeon Festival, Devon
  • The Rhodes Arts Centre, Bishops Stortford
  • Canal Cafe, London
  • Less Miserable Comedy Club
  • Pure Poetry, Hackney
  • Poetry Cafe, Betterton Street, Covent Garden
  • Jazz Cafe, University of East Anglia
  • Hammer and Tongue, Oxford
  • Strawberry Fair, Cambridge
  • Guildford Book Festival
  • www.myspace.com/behindthemic06
  • Pure and Good and Right, Leamington Spa
  • Eclectic Cabaret, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge
  • Leominster Festival
  • Twickenham Library
  • Future Radio
  • Shortfuse
  • Royston Arts Festival
  • Greenbelt Festival
  • Bristol New Jazz Festival
  • Arts Theatre, Cambridge (Mouthful Cabaret)
  • Cambridge Wordfest
  • Schools and Libraries in Hillingdon
  • The Phoenix School, Shepherds Bush
  • Bassingbourn Library
  • The Red Lion, Kneesworth
  • Nick’s Sitting Room
“What a star you are! You were definitely the hit of the Festival in the poetry department… you were brilliant.”
lit. festival organiser
“you were the perfect person to start our evening… On your behalf I received heaps of praise. You were loved by all.”
charity auction host