Publicity photo of Lewis Buxton

Poetry isn’t known for being one of the more gruelling art forms. But performance poet Lewis Buxton has brought his trainers and exercise mat, and he’s not afraid to break into a sweat in his compelling show about a youth spent trying to outrun obsessive thoughts.

As he paces the floor, Lewis’s visceral, physical delivery recreates the white-tiled dread of the school swimming pool and the inadequacies of the changing room for an awkward adolescent crippled by health anxiety.

Attempts to get self-worth via a six-pack lead to a love of working out; but no matter how much he exercises the demons, he can’t run away from the fear that’s left when the endorphins have drained away.

There are no easy cliches here about body positivity or physical exercise as a cure for pain.

But in exposing his fears to the light, Lewis offers a way forward where you might find ways to get through the days; like running, he says, just to feel the blood pumping.

Perhaps, after all, you might end up not running away, but running towards something.

  • The Norfolk & Norwich Festival runs from 13-29 May 2022. For more information visit