WINCHESTERFEST 20/20: Nina Telegina – Hercules

For those of you who have never seen Nina perform, you’re missing out. She is one of the most enrapturing poets I’ve had the pleasure to watch. She holds a stage (or in this case, a camera) with an ease and comfort that most poets can only aspire to. In the past, I’ve watched Nina perform at a few events, including headlining at Your Bard in February, a slam-poetry event based in Canterbury. Her event on the 27th, however, was very different from what I’ve seen before…

As part of WinchesterFest, Nina performed her story-poem Hercules. Story-poetry is an exciting form that entwines (you guessed it) storytelling with poetic style; think a medieval bard reading off scrolls in the monarch’s court. Given the stories title, I tuned-in to the livestream ready for some fun Greek mythology references; BOY did I get more than I’d bargained for.

Most of the story takes place in a Starbucks where our protagonist, the strong and mighty Hercules, struggles valiantly with the ‘sputtering mechanised beast’ that is the espresso machine. If, somehow, this hasn’t already… stirred your interest then maybe you’d like to meet some of our other characters, including Sampson, the bald-headed manager; Arthur, the chain-mailed customer who can’t stand airport security; or Gilgamesh, the giant figure seeking refuge in London. 

If you do anything today, I urge you to go and check this out. Nina flawlessly blends together metaphor and mythology to create a fresh take on an ancient tale. Which succeeds in providing a relatable and hopeful commentary on this world of ours: ‘So, maybe the reason / we’ve all of these hands / is that is how many it’s going to take.’ The story lasts about 15 minutes but, for that, you’ll get an artfully crafted concoction of Greek, Arthurian, Mesopotamian and biblical mythology in a modern-day setting; performed by an expressive and captivating poet.

– Sam Tate

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