Nathan Penlington

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Nathan Penlington
Occupation Poet,
Nationality British

Nathan Penlington (born in Rhyl, North Wales), is a writer, poet, live literature producer and magician. His work has appeared on stage, in print and on the radio.


Nathan Penlington currently performs at venues and festivals across the UK, Europe and the US, and has shared stages with performers such as John Cooper Clarke, Ricky Gervais and Phill Jupitus. His performances fuse comedy, storytelling and magic with writing that led Robert Newman to describe him as "a natural performer, witty, inventive, stylish and original", and Time Out to comment that "Nathan Penlington's fusion of wit, storytelling and visuals are garnering critics’ plaudits and attention".[1]

Penlington was co-organiser and resident host of London's weekly spoken word venue Shortfuse, from April 2000 to September 2007. Shortfuse attained a reputation for presenting an eclectic fusion of stand-up poetry, performance comedy and music, and regularly presenting up-and-coming performers alongside established names such as John Hegley, Stewart Lee, Kevin Eldon and Simon Munnery, as well as forging working links with performers across the US, Canada and Europe. Shortfuse became renowned for creating new formats including Bards in their Eyes, Speed Cabaret, and Poetry Idol. Poetry Idol's tongue in cheek competition format helped to bring wider attention to many up and coming poets and performers including Scroobius Pip, Stephen Howarth, Suzanne Andrade, Joshua Idehen and Musa Okwanga.

He has been employed to produce and host events for a wide variety of festivals including the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Brick Lane Festival, Stoke Newington Festival and Whitstable Arts Biennale. He was Festival Director for Write to Ignite – Hackney Word Festival,[2] which took place throughout September 2007.

In 2005, Penlington performed his début full length solo spoken word show If My Life Hadn't Turned Out Differently at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the Pleasance, after previewing the show at Chicago’s Drinking & Writing Festival, and in a variety of venues in New York including the renowned Bowery Poetry Club. In the following year, he made his 5th consecutive appearance at the festival, teaming up with two other spoken word artists, Rhian Edwards and Suzanne Andrade, to produce a show called Invisible Ink which fused magic, music, poetry and animation to critical acclaim.

Penlington’s next show – Uri & Me – an obsessive deconstruction of the spoon bending cultural icon Uri Geller was described as “a thoughtfully constructed, funny, yet litigation avoiding look at the life and work of a global celebrity phenomenon” by the Londonist.[3] A combination of stand-up, magic and spoken word – the show premièred as a commission piece at the award-winning London Word Festival in March 2010. The show was also performed at the Camden Fringe, The Roundhouse, the Brighton Comedy Festival, the Oxford Literary Festival, Bristol Old Vic and Edinburgh Fringe 2011 at The Underbelly. The show gained good reviews along the way including a four star review in The Scotsman by Kate Copstick who said “The best shows are driven by a personal passion”.[4] The show was even attended by Uri Geller,[5] twice.[6]

In 2013 Penlington started work on Choose Your Own Documentary[7] which is inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure phenomenon of the 1980s [8] combining film, stand-up, and storytelling the show allows the audience to interact with the performance by using wireless remote controls to decide what happens next. With over 1500 permutations each performance is unique.[9] The show was co-commissioned by the Southbank Centre, and supported by Arts Council England.

His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3's The Verb, performing a work of 'predictive text poetry – a new creative form using the mobile phone'.[10] He has also appeared on BBC Radio 4's 28 Acts in 28 Minutes, and he has hosted three series of the surreal spoken word show Parlour Games on Resonance FM.

Published works

April 2008 saw the publication of Almost Nearly, a full-length collection of graphic poems in a limited signed and numbered edition. It features some of the poems included in Roadkill on the Digital Highway, which was short-listed for the Eric Gregory Award 2005, of which previous winners include Seamus Heaney and Andrew Motion.

Penlington’s written work has been featured in publications as diverse as Peaches Geldof’s magazine 'Disappear Here’,[11] 'The Journal of Experimental Fiction',[12] and it has also been translated into Serbian for 'Treci Trg'.[13] He has recently been published in the Penned in the Margins anthology of experimental poetry ‘Adventures in Form’,[14] as well as appearing in publications such as Rising, The Fix, Quiet Feather, Litmus, The Delinquent, Aesthetica magazine, The Rebel magazine, and X-Magazine. Penlington was Poetry Editor for The Fix Magazine – the UK's only monthly comedy magazine, which was distributed free at comedy venues across the country.


  1. "Secret Scenes: Spoken word". 2006-09-12. Retrieved 2012-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Write To Ignite Festival". 2004-02-27. Retrieved 2012-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Londonist: London Word Festival".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Scotsman: Uri & Me Review".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Camden New Journal: Uri Geller to Attend Fringe".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The Argus: Uri Geller reviews Brighton show".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Choose Your Own Documentary".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Scout London: A documentary where you choose the ending".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Time Out London: A different life story every night".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Radio 3 – The Verb – 13 April 2007". BBC. 2007-04-13. Retrieved 2012-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Rhyme Watch. Disappear Here, Spring/Summer 2009, p62-67
  12. Gerdes, Eckhard, Ed. Journal of Experimental Fiction. Depth Charge, 2009. Volume 35, p191-198.
  13. Treci Trg. 2006, Issue 11. "Treci Trg, Issue 11" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Chivers, Tom, Ed. Adventures in Form: A compendium of poetic forms, rules and constraints. Penned in the Margins, 2012.

External links