Helen East: The Twists and Turns of Apples and Snakes

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For want of a horse the rider was lost
For want of a rider the message was lost
For want of a message the battle was lost

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail…

One tiny spark starts everything off. One Apple and Snake caused a new working life. 2,000 years plus of a new religion. More than one spark–what happens then? Well – what happened when Apples and Snakes began? 1982. Thirty years ago.
Almost single handed, ten, maybe twenty finger nails tapping on typewriters, dialing phones, pushing buttons wherever they could, to further a fresh belief. In the need for live poetry. Not just books written and read, but the words heard, out and spread, in every town, in every tongue, dancing off pages and down the street, poets leaping to their feet, rapping and sparring and slamming until audiences everywhere joined in as well.

Memories.. Beginning with Gerry phoning me at the National Folktale Centre, 1990, wanting to get poets and storytellers working together…The most moving example of this for me was the glorious joint benefit for Ahmadabad after the earthquake, Words to Rebuild at Battersea Arts Centre, with Scorpio like a live wire weaving in and out Happy Birthday Apples and Snakes. It’s been a long, twisting road, but the fast track misses everything and everyone along the way, where as you have embraced us all.


Helen East