Summerfest Week 1: Arthur Greenleaf Holmes

The Wildly Inappropriate Poetry

of Arthur Greenleaf Holmes

June 11-14

by Gordy Boudreau

Gordy Bourdreau. Credit Carr Hagerman Photography


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Lyrical. Lewd. Bawdy.

An evening with fictional 19th century English libertine poet Arthur Greenleaf Holmes’s monstrously entertaining verse in a spirited celebration of the unscrupulous English language. This show is not for children, the dull-witted nor the morally indignant.




Production Credits:

Created and Performed by Gordon Boudreau

About the Artist:

Gordon Boudreau has made his living as an actor, writer, street performer, and comedian for the past twenty-five years. As a member of Theater In The Ground he appeared at outdoor festivals around the country presenting comedic adaptations of such classics as Beowulf, Dante’s Inferno, and Gilgamesh—all performed in a pit of mud.  He lived in New York for ten years, performing standup comedy at The Comic Strip, Caroline’s Comedy Club, and other venues. He currently lives in Portland with his wife and children.

Note from the Artist:

The Wildly Inappropriate Poetry Of Arthur Greenleaf Holmes began in central New York at the Sterling Renaissance Festival in 2007, when I was hired to play a 16th century walk-about poet in a village where Queen Elizabeth I was visiting on her progress. At first, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew what I did not want to do: I did not want to be a purveyor of limericks, or a poet who wrote silly roses-are-red poems, nor did I want to read other people’s poems. The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder what might happen if I really devoted myself to writing poetry. Funny poetry, perhaps, and maybe even inadvisable poetry.  But poetry first and foremost, with imagery, language and styles evoked by the poets that I had grown up hearing as the son of a liberal arts English professor who quoted Melville, Thoreau and Whitman.  What might that look like?

Since this wasn’t yet a stage show, I faced the challenge of asking passers-by if they wanted to hear a poem. And they did not. I couldn’t blame them; would I have stopped if an employee in pumpkin pants at a renaissance festival asked me if I wanted to hear his poetry?  I doubted it. Then one day, a phrase popped out of my mouth. I asked a group strolling by, “Excuse me, would you like to hear something wildly inappropriate?” To my astonishment, they stopped dead in their tracks, and from that moment on, I knew my course. What began as a street act eventually assembled itself into a stage show that I took to festivals in New York, Minnesota, Texas, and Florida.

This show has no director in the traditional sense. Like much of stand-up comedy, it has been directed by my audience, over several years of presenting this horrid material to them.  This is not to say that I owe no debt to those who guided this show. Chief among them is my good friend in Minneapolis, Carr Hagerman, Entertainment Director of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, who encouraged me when my audiences were scant and my path was unclear. He gave me a stage show at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, produced my first cd, and has been this show’s constant mentor. Jim Cunningham, also from the twin cities, deserves my thanks for his encouragement as well. So does Anna Sawyer, who designed my first costume. And, of course, Gary Izzo, Artistic Director of the Sterling Renaissance Festival, who first challenged me to play this poet character. In New York, my show has greatly benefited from the input of Barbara Geary, Michael Reilley, and the college professor most responsible for turning me on to John Keats and the romantic poets, Patrick J. Keane.  And to my father, Gordon V. Boudreau—well, you may feel chagrined to know that you had no small hand in this endeavor. Above all, I would like to thank my wife, Sara, who has crisscrossed the country countless times in order that I may pursue this thing that I love.  Her patience, wisdom, and emotional equilibrium have kept me from giving up on this long ago.  Thanks to all, now…would you like to hear something wildly inappropriate?

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