Burn After Reading / Kid Glove / Podium Poets. Writer for The Norwich Radical. Published by Nasty Little Press.
Carmina Masoliver is a poet from south London, and founder of She Grrrowls feminist arts nights. She has been sharing her poetry on both the page and the stage for over a decade, and her small chapbook was published by Nasty Little Press in 2014. Her latest book ‘Circles’ is published by Burning Eye Books (2019) and is an illustrated epic poem, andshe recently self-published ‘Selected Poems: 2007 – 2012’, a mixed media pamphlet of poems.. Carmina was long-listed for the Young Poet Laureate for London award in 2013, and the inaugural Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships in 2017, the Out-Spoken Prize in Performance Poetry in 2018 and the Grindstone International Poetry Prize in 2020. Alumni of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, she has featured at nights such as Bang Said the Gun, and festivals including Latitude, Bestival and Lovebox both as a collective and individually. She performed internationally whilst living abroad, in Singapore, and in Spain.
This week has been very up and down with work. I’ve still had cancellations, which has made me worry about payment. At times, I’ve also felt stressed, which has impacted on how productive I’ve been able to be, or how productive I’ve felt. It’s not been possible to make up any lost hours financially this week, and yet I also can’t schedule anything in the time I’m committing to the students I have. Given the change to PAYE with one of the agencies I work with, there also seems to have been complications with getting paid for the hours I’ve actually worked, and last night I found I was taxed around half of my earnings, so was straight on the phone to HMRC this morning, who picked up just as I finished my washing up, so at least I’m getting things sorted!
Last Saturday, I spent the morning lesson planning, and after a fun visit to Specsavers, I finished my course reading and a Safeguarding workbook (and 3.5 hours of safeguarding training the day before!) Sunday afternoon, after stocking up on some food, I went through emails and sorted out the work admin for some of the other new casual PAYE work I’m taking on. Art making was sadly left until the end, so it wasn’t until nearly midnight that I finished.
As well as tutoring and waiting for students who didn’t turn up, I was back at university this week. Of course, one particular day of cancellations, I thought I’d take a walk and call a friend, only to become overwhelmed later that day. I got prepared for an upcoming debate by researching materials, but still need to do the much-needed reading and note-taking! I also had a lot of meetings, following on from my dyspraxia diagnosis, where I’m hoping to qualify for some support! I also had two intense interviews! One for a tutoring agency and one for a poetry opportunity! Now I’m going to walk to Crystal Palace and make use of my free tickets with the cinema membership I got for Christmas!
Once again, if you’re able to support me on my journey to becoming an Art Therapist, please consider buying my books or sharing stuff on social media, likewise with my crowdfunding campaign.
Sure enough, the work is coming in, so I am trying to schedule it so I can also not burnout, creating balance whilst making some necessary sacrifices. This means I’m absolutely not doing any work on Tuesday evenings as I’m at uni on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I need this time to recover, have some down time with fellow students, and reflect. So my schedule of students is currently 2 hours on Mondays, 6 hours on Wednesdays, 2 hours on Thursdays (with 3 more pending) and 3 hours on Fridays. Plus some LEGO parties on weekends, and I’ve just signed up for a Living Wage events staff role!
Despite the positive turn of events, I’ve also have lost out on a big chunk of my income this week as one of a student I’m now seeing 6 hours a week has not been able to attend for the week, and unfortunately the agency won’t pay me anything for this time… which I could also do with using as preparation time as I will need to re-read the novel being studied (Purple Hibiscus, which I have read before at least!) I was able to make a little more money to compensate for this loss of income by doing some last-minute EFL cover!
I got to host an Apples & Snakes Work From Home workshop, and I had some positive feedback from people who attended (between 40-50 people joined I think!) and although I proved to be a little rebellious with my form samples, I absolutely loved it! Hopefully you can see I’m working hard (and also trying to rest hard… rather than party hard)! If you would like to help me on my journey to become an Art Therapist, please donate to my crowdfunding campaign, and/or buy some books, and/or share my links!
Do you want the good news or bad news first? Well, the good news is that I feel reassured about my work situation. After I had found out that I didn’t get the scholarship for university, it didn’t quite hit me until I had a meeting with my personal tutor, where I started crying. However, I managed to get myself into a place mentally where I wasn’t worried, and could reassure myself that the work would pick up. Either that, or the escitalopram kicking in.
Sure enough, I’m on my way to getting enough work that will mean that I should be able to live and pay my tuition fees – I’ve got more tuition work, which is mainly alternative education provision at the moment, and I’ve even got some casual work doing Lego parties for children! I’m also doing a workshop online for Apples & Snakes next week, which I’m really excited about!
However, the work is still expected to be up and down, especially given holidays, and I will still need to be on a strict cabbage budget in order to make this work. I’ll still be asking for donations to my crowdfund campaign, which recently got two big ones that will help me pay off my January fees, and I’ll still be plugging my books. Speaking of books, here’s what I read last year!
So, I’ve had four/five days off for Christmas. I developed a sore throat on Christmas Day, which was the best time to get it in terms of work, as aside from travelling to Kent and back, then around Nottingham and Barnsley before heading back to London yesterday afternoon, it meant I could rest and also binge The Traitors. I didn’t think a reality show would captivate me so much, but it was really psychologically interesting, especially in terms of group influence. I was back to official paid-for work today as I’ve had a student.
Aside from this, I’m looking forward to a New Year as I enjoy intention-setting and the freshness of the occasion gives permission to indulge in a celebratory Chinese takeaway before a future of experimenting with various spices on lentil, chickpea, pulses, and vegetable dishes for the foreseeable future. I have an abundance of washing products, a few experiences to entertain me, and a bit of cash to get some groceries to help me with my cabbage budget now I need to save over £500 a month.
Things are winding down, which means I’ve been catching up with the pile of emails that had built up, and applying for more work for the new year. I’m happy that I’ve pretty much managed to save my first two instalments of tuition fees, but I will have to save £515 a month to be able to pay May’s… and then I have no idea how I will do the same for the next two years after that. I’m trying to trust the process, but the uncertainty is not ideal! I’m applying for everything I can, from poetry jobs to perfume shops… I would have liked to have things already lined up for next year, but these ups and downs are typical. The main difficulty is not having savings I can use as a safety net now and not being eligible for a loan, and so having tuition fees to pay on top of living costs.
Last Sunday one of my fellow Art Therapist trainees offered me to join them and do a stall. It was indoors, thankfully, as it was chucking it down outside. It was only a little chilly from the doors, with lots of people coming and going, but Emily helped keep us keep warm with some delicious chai. I had recently finished my butterfly, and added text: ‘nature is not perfect’ to it. I didn’t make any sales, which is always disappointing, but the organisers only charged £10 a table and Emily let me join her for free, so I’ve made bigger losses in the past!
After an intense few weeks, things are slowly starting to wind down. The bad news is that I could really do with more work next week! Still, it will give me time to address certain things that have piled up, apply for new opportunities for next year, and even perhaps start a video tutorial series I’ve been putting off until I have the time.
On my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship we learn about having a champagne budget and a cabbage budget, so it seems like the next few years will be on a cabbage budget. It’s not so bad, I like cabbage. I make a mean bokkeumbap.
As long as I can keep a roof over my head, keep warm, and feed myself, then I’m quite happy to focus on training to be an Art Psychotherapist, and keep socialising to minimum, visiting friends and family in their homes and vice versa.
I’m due to pay my first set of fees, but need to raise double the amount by the end of January in order to catch up with the payments. I’ll need around £2000 more, then I’ll have 3-4 months to save for the final payment of this academic years Please donate to and share my crowdfunder to help me meet the next invoice date.
The previous post didn’t publish last week, so I’m now writing in advance as I’m on the train and having just written my diary, and having scheduled this, I’m feeling reflective, so going to go with it.
I’m reflecting on my use of social media, and drawing a comparison between Twitter and Diaryland. I don’t think either platform encourages the healthiest behaviour from me. It’s too exposing in some ways. I post spontaneously, rather than the more thoughtful posts on Instagram and TikTok. Facebook seems to be going the way of MySpace and I struggle with the temporality of it all, but I also can’t keep up.
I’m wondering whether it would be possible to change my name when doing Art Therapy, but it looks like I can’t officially. Whilst I can use a “nickname”, and perhaps use a different name on referrals when working with the NHS or different organisations, I need to register with my official name, which then will make it more difficult for me to be found on the register, as that will need to state my official name.
Anyway, aside from this, I’ve had some devastating news. I didn’t get the scholarship for my training, and as I’m ineligible for a student loan, I’m going to try to appeal in some way for an exemption. I’m going to have to work as much as possible, taking away time from the course where I need to study as much as possible, and anything else in my life will have to be kept to the minimum and as cheap as possible. I had dreams of buying books to share with my course-mates, and volunteering at the local hospice… the latter will be difficult now as I need to prioritise paid work.
Due to my work, I haven’t been able to connect with my fellow Trainee Art Therapist colleagues outside the university times. However, last Friday a group of 10-20 of us went to see the Koestler Arts exhibition at the Southbank Centre. I couldn’t believe that it’s been running there for fifteen years and I had never been!
Curated by Ai Weiwei, the Koestler Awards is an annual programme encouraging people from the UK’s criminal justice system to change their lives through the arts. I’ve posted just a selection of the artwork here, as there were nearly 2000 pieces exhibited. You can find out more about Koestler Arts here.
The guides were also people who had been in prison or another kind of secure facility. You could also write to the artists, who would receive you comments. I picked the one with the Deliveroo takeaway. I went to Topolski for the first time, and they had enough space for twelve of us on a Friday night, which was great!
Otherwise, I’m in a period of intensity now, after having time socialising, I have been staying up reading until 1/2am some nights, working 10-12 hour days some days, doing additional EFL lessons at a school during the day and still doing evening tuition. In two weeks’ time, things will be less intense and I can gradually wind down for some holiday at the end of next month!
One of the catchphrases from my Art Therapy course is to “trust the process”. Whilst I often say such things tongue-in-check, there’s always some truth there too. I’ve accepted some EFL work which looks like it’ll be fun – apparently one of my students has pink hair and likes to wear pink (there I am in the meeting today, head-to-toe in pink!) So, now I’ve gone from being scared about not having enough work, to having too much work. I’m hopeful for another alternative education placement after the next three weeks, but I’ve also been offered an interview for EFL work for Lewisham Council.
I dedicated some time to art making the other day (see above) and I’ve still got some more works-in-progress, but it felt so good to do. It’s all very responsive to the present moment and things that have come up through the course, rather than the ideas I have for specific pieces connected to my poetry, but I trust that will come with time.
The last week has whizzed by, and yet my work schedule is still up in the air. It looks like I may be securing some work for next year, which is positive and I’m looking to do more alternative education in the daytime. However, balancing these placements with other work and university work… it’s looking like my relaxing Sundays will be when I catch up on course reading and art making (also a requirement for the course as well as the profession of being an Art Therapist).
Yesterday, I went to see the Soheila Sokhanvari ‘Rebel Rebel’ exhibition at The Barbican. An Iranian artist, it feels like a really important exhibition, especially poignant in these times with the femicides and protests in Iran. The exhibition is on until 26th February 2023. Featuring female actors and singers from Iran, each portrait is accompanied by a snapshot of their life story, which you can read about on the gallery website, often filled with details of exile, imprisonment, violence and mistreatment.