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Freelance Reflections #45

So, first thing I have to mention is that tomorrow I’ll be at Camberwell Arts Market on Camberwell Green selling my poetry books, merchandise and artwork. I’ll be there from 9am-5pm, so please do drop by if you’re based in London! There will be 12 stalls in total and South East London is lovely if you’re exploring the area from further afield! I’ll be attempting to do some bespoke poetry at bargain prices throughout the day. I’ll also most likely be on my own… and I have no idea how busy it’ll be, or how in demand the bespoke poems will be, so wish me luck!

As the sun was so glorious on Wednesday, I treated myself to a four-hour holiday in Beckenham Palace Park, where I was also on Sunday doing pretty much the same thing – swimming, sunning, reading and eating ice-cream. I had to leave at 3pm, and I did not want to. As I’m working all day on Saturday, I wanted to take that time out for myself, and I’m so glad I did, especially as it’s been raining since then!

Aside from work, I’m also into keeping fit… although I also love food, so like many people, I’ve put on over a stone since last August when I was at my lowest weight (a healthy weight, I believe of 9 stone, 2 pounds)! My muscle mass has gone up to, but poor portion management and too much pick ‘n’ mix has meant my body fat is a bit too much at the moment health-wise. And with high blood pressure and high cholesterol in the family, I need to be aware of this. Don’t worry, I have just ordered a new pick ‘n’ mix 1kg bag for a trip to Catford Film Festival next Friday! I need to exercise to keep me mentally stable, but food is important too, as is sleep (which I don’t get enough of). For me, it’s about a lifestyle and enjoying moving my body as well as eating what I love, without too much restriction (I am very anti-diet).

Anyway, I had a taster PT session today with my gym, and we overran because we were having such interesting chats. His boxing classes are likely to be the only thing that gets me up for a 7am start… I’m also doing around 6 workouts a week, enjoying my mix of ‘legs, bums and tums’, spin (yet to start!), swimming, SOCA (my favourite), and the occasional yoga and Pilates class. What I love about being freelance is being able to do these things that are important to me, which I may not otherwise have the time or energy for.

Freelance Reflections #44

This week’s biggest news is that I’ve had work published in The Rialto, with issue 96 launching on the Thursday just gone. My poem ‘my name in an english accent’, is about my name. It deals with the experience of being ‘Othered’ because of it growing up in the UK, and my experience of then living in Spain, where my Englishness was more apparent than ever before, and talking to someone I met there, who I never became as good friends with as I would have liked, but felt an affinity to, perhaps as they were from Norwich, where I went to university, and perhaps also because our conversations were deeper than a lot of others when getting to know new people in a new city. 

I’ve tried many times to write about my cultural identity, and my Hispanic heritage, and with this poem I feel I’ve managed to capture what I wanted to say in a satisfying way of which I’m proud. It’s a complex piece that deals with other things aside from being just about me, but I also feel like it’s easy to understand the meaning. The issue features work chosen by Degna Stone, seeking to bridge the gap between the stage and the page. Most poets will know what an achievement it is to be published in The Rialto, but I hope many others will read it too. 

I’ve also recently been published internationally in Hong Kong’s Proverse Mingled Voices 5 (The Hungry Caterpillar as a Body Positivity Icon) and Untitled Voices: Issue 3 Volume 3 (Tattooing the Moon). I’m really proud of the poems in each of them. The first two can be purchased online in print form, and the latter can be read online for free. 

I read and reviewed Rosie Wilby’s ‘The Breakup Monologues’ just across one weekend, which is very fast for me (I’ve got several books on the go, some of which I’ve been reading for a year or two!) The temptation of sunshine has got me reading more! Keep your eyes peeled for a review in The Norwich Radical soon.

I also went to an Apples and Snakes workshop on first collections with Lewis Buxton, who I’ve not seen for years, but felt inclined to mock his “Yorkshire” accent; I remembered many things about him, including his love for Simon Armitage (hence the impression), his desire for neat stanzas, and the fact Roger Robinson once questioned why he didn’t read poetry books cover to cover (he does now). Now, I just need to get into gear to work more on my collection, which seems to be ever growing as time shrinks.

Next up, poetry-wise, this Saturday 19th June, I’ll be holding a stall at Camberwell Arts Market from 9am – 5pm. I’ll be selling books, paintings, and providing some bespoke poetry at bargain prices! I just have to get organised this week, and dust off my iZettle ready to sell out my stock!

Freelance Reflections #43

So, I smashed my 300,000 steps goals for May, raising money for Leading Lights. You can still sponsor me and donate here. I also missed some steps when I went to play basketball and left my phone, but I recorded 307,372 steps.

I took some time off for the interment of my grandad’s ashes, and spent time with family. It was sad, but it was nice to be together finally and look back at these old photographs. I hope to visit again in the summer and reminisce some more through more photo albums.

Having had the half term break, this usually means less students for me, and I only had two, so it would be a great time to buy some of my books from my Big Cartel. Also, if you’re based in South East London, I’ll be part of the Camberwell Arts Market on Saturday 19th June, 9am-5pm. I’ll also be doing some bespoke poems there; you give the ingredients, and I’ll create a short poem for you.

I’ll also be doing my first in-person live show on Sunday 4th July as part of Simon Mole’s Poetry Picnic at Arts Depot, where I’ll be sharing a new poem written especially for children, aimed at a slightly older age range, probably between 9-13. It’s just under a month away, so I’m sure it’ll come round soon enough!

Otherwise, I’ve been keeping up walking alright, not always keeping to the 10,000 goal, but enjoying some sunsets ping pong along the way. It’s also been nice being indoors again at board game cafes, and now the sun is peeking through the clouds now and again, I’ve taken a few breaks to sit in the sun and read. I’m currently reading comedian Rosie Wilby’s The Breakup Monologues, which I’m reviewing for The Norwich Radical, so technically it’s also working. I’m really enjoying it so far.

Freelance Reflections #42

This week has felt very busy and it still feels like I’m just trying to stay afloat. I’ve been suppressing a lot of emotions with the lead up to my grandad’s interment of ashes, along with the full moon. The walking challenge has been good, but it’s meant I’ve been walking past sunset and into the night. Head to my Instagram to find out more about the images below.

I love walking and listening to music, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Griefcast too. You can sponsor me here and leave a supportive message as I try to catch up, with one of my record days being 21,000 steps in attempt to make up for my week off sick. I read the word “Carmichael” and thought it was my name for a second. Cue violins.

A lot of people have been stressed about Grantium crashing, myself included, as I just needed to enter the details I’d prepared. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what things will look like over the summer and into the autumn, especially when waiting on funding and applications. It’s necessary to be flexible with any result.

Today or over this weekend I’m going to try to send some more books. Again, as I’ve had a week off sick, my income has gone down, so it would be the best time to buy books… though really the summer is a very uncertain time for a tutor as work tends to be term time! But as I have got a few copies of my latest book, and still some of ‘Circles’, now would be a great time and I can pop to the post office each week to send any more orders!

Freelance Reflections #41

This week I’ve had my energy back for content writing and tutoring, though I’ve got a horrible rash that is itchy and persistent. I’ve also been back at the gym, right in at the deep end with a 7am boxing class. I didn’t think I’d want to go back, but I do, and I’ve since been to a Soca dance class and Legs Bums and Tums. I’ve also started a low-cost therapy, and thought swimming would be good to do afterwards (though I did get stressed out being too slow for the medium lane and too fast for the slow lane!)

Aside from the usual work, I’ve also been applying for another round of funding, I’ve got a confirmed live poetry gig in July, and I’ve had a few poems accepted, with one in particular I’m really excited about coming out! This weekend I covered a creative writing workshop with a small group of children before more birthday celebrations. Sunday went super fast, so I completed a few things on my to-do list between 6pm-10:30pm after having been out in Brixton most of the day.

After a couple of orders for books, I still have plenty more stock available and have just ordered some pink envelopes especially for the ‘Circles’ book, so please do head to my Big Cartel and order a copy. If you’re feeling generous, my latest self-published pamphlet is also available, though probably won’t fit in the pink envelopes.

I’m also on 186,390 steps and need to complete 300,000 by the end of the month to raise money for Leading Lights. It’s a fantastic organisation I work for that provides social care and alternative education for those who aren’t in mainstream school. I still need to do 14-15,000 steps a day to meet the goal! If only I had been ill during the Easter holidays, this would have been far less challenging! Sunday was actually my best day so far, with 17,455 steps. We’re very close to the goal, and it would be lovely to get some messages of support on there for me too!

Freelance Reflections #40

After doing well with the updates, I’m very late with this one due to a horrible cold. I’m hoping that I’ll be recovered by my birthday this Friday – my final day of antibiotics! I’ll likely keep this one short as I’ve only managed to do about an hour a day of content writing until today, when I’ve done about 3-4 hours. I’ll do some more tomorrow as I’ve had some work cancel due to my colleagues being off for Eid. It’s nice to know that I might be in Allah’s good books, especially as my partner is from a Muslim background. Hopefully it’s also a sign that their parents will like me despite being a heathen.

As I’ve had to cancel so much tutoring work in order to recover, basically having been off a whole week, losing hundreds of pounds, I would greatly appreciate book purchases from my Big Cartel. I can make a dedication of your choice and sign it if you purchase through this way. You can even PayPal me at carminamasoliver@hotmail.com if you’re feeling generous! When I am feeling better, I would be happy to provide you with your very own bespoke poem for a donation of £10 or more. Remember, my latest published book ‘Circles’ from Burning Eye for £10, and I’ve also just put out a mixed media poetry pamphlet, ‘Selected Poems: 2007 – 2012’ (it’s $10, so the price is cheaper in pounds). My most recent painting, ‘Footsteps’ is also available for £200.

I’m meant to be walking 300,000 steps in the month of May to raise money for Leading Lights, so I’ll have a lot of catching up to do when I’m fully recovered! After a couple of days of celebrations, I hope to walk to Peckham for the vintage poster market and a hot chocolate at The Melange, and maybe check out some of the Dulwich Art Festival. I’ve found it very difficult being ill, and also feel I easily overwhelm myself with plans. If I’m not working, I’m doing SOMETHING. I need to learn that I really need my me-time, and the self-care on a regular basis. Rather than constantly going from work to busy activities, I need to listen to my body and my soul. I need to realise that I may need more down-time that over people, and not beat myself up about it.

There are many ways I am taking care of myself, but it’s just not good enough when you continue in bloody-minded stubbornness to pretend nothing’s wrong, and work through Sunday and most of the week thinking that honey and lemon and garlic will cure a cold without RESTING. I need to remember the time I was so badly ill with what started as a sore throat and cold that my blood cell count needed monitoring for leukemia. I get really anxious when sick because of this. Although the illness ended up being some kind of sickness related to glandular fever, it was never really diagnosed, but I know that if I don’t take more care, this is how people end up with ME. I need to give myself rest BEFORE I don’t have a choice and am sapped from energy.

Lastly (aware this has gone on longer than intended… my energy is coming back – wahey!) – poetry pal and ex-team member and co-host for She Grrrowls Ibizo Lami, is doing loads of stuff at the moment. As well as Self-Care Saturday Instagram Live sessions, a nf a forthcoming poetry publication, she’s also fundraising to bring a new show ‘Chosen Family’ as part of the Living Record’s Brighton Fringe digital programme. She’s nearly half-way and has until the end of the month to fund it, so go ahead and donate now.

Freelance Reflections #39

The best part of this week has been working with Simon Mole and a group of other poets on Zoom workshops to write and perform poetry for children. I wasn’t the only one feeling nervous, as the children joining were not only to be our audience, but also our “poetry bosses”.

The children were amazing and it was such an incredible experience, even being online. It was so lovely to hear positive feedback from them, but also how engaged they were in the topic, that my poem got them thinking and debating about it.

It was interesting to also hear what the other poets came up with, and next week will be the final workshop, where we’ll get so share some of the other work we produced. Hopefully we will get to perform our final poem in front of a live audience in the summer.

Otherwise, the week has been pretty normal. Emails are piling a little bit again. I’ve had applications rejected from ACE’s DYCP fund, The Museum of Banksy, and a content writing job. However, I’m also now thinking more long-term about the work I’m doing, and planning to apply for a part-time MA in Art Psychotherapy, for which I would get a loan out to pay the tuition fees.

Selected Poems 2007 - 2012

Most art therapists are employed on a part-time basis (I’ve seen jobs between 4-22 hours a week) and can work on a self-employed basis once on the HCPC register, and being an artist is an important aspect of the role. With this in mind, I’m excited to put out my book ‘Selected Poems: 2007 – 2012’, which is a selection of poetry and mixed media illustration from the first five years of when I started to get into poetry on the stage and page. I’m still awaiting for the final proof copy to approve, but I’ve added it to my Big Cartel and it will also be available on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Freelance Reflections #38

Last weekend was the ‘Free Spirits: Loss in Lockdown’ exhibition. I went with my parents, and my mum could especially relate to Rachel Sambrooks’ beautiful poetry, alongside the visual artwork, since also losing her dad at the start of the year. Two of my poems were on display: the first one I wrote after his death, and the other simply titled ‘Grandad’, which I had written about last week in relation to the Muddy Feet Poetry video.

This week, I have started with a few more students again, and I’m slowly getting on top of things and starting better habits, with writing at least. I’ve felt quite stressed out with work at times, still feeling overwhelmed, but I’m feeling a bit lighter now. I also have made a few tweaks to a new book I’m self-publishing, ‘Selected Poems: 2007-2012’.

With my Nasty Little Press having came out in 2014, I felt this period would be nice to have as a kind of time capsule. I previously published ‘Carmina’s Poetry Tease’, but this work combines poetry with a kind of visual mixed media. Initially produced during my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, it’s a third of the size of the original. I got the proof copy, and needed to make some adjustments, and once I’ve approved the next copy, it’ll be available for global distribution via Lulu.

‘Leopard print is my favourite colour’

I’ll also make some available on my Big Cartel, though as it’s print-on-demand, it’ll take a little longer to come through, but much better for the poet than buying on Amazon! In other news, I treated myself to this lovely rose and peony candle from Art Wow, which is a cool website with affordable artwork. The candle is in my favourite colour combo (also the colours of the pansexual flag) – blue, pink and yellow! As I write this, I’m also wearing my Biffy Clyro ‘There’s always space for the arts’ t-shirt*. I’m excited about seeing them live in November! I also got to eat this lovely lunch with my flatmate for her birthday, from The Guava Kitchen in Forest Hill (I recommend the guava balls!)

*100% of proceeds will go towards supporting Create (Arts) Limited to improve the lives of society’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people through creative arts. (Registered Charity No 1099733).

Freelance Reflections #37

This week I’ve only had one student, and I also did my tax for 2020-21. Let me tell you, ignorance is bliss! It looks like I’ll be paying a third of my income until the end of the year, with the other third on surviving (and hopefully the last third on saving for the next tax bill…) My head is buried deep still. Now would be a good time to buy a copy of ‘Circles’ off me from my Big Cartel: https://carminamasoliver.bigcartel.com.

The plus side, I’ve been sticking to having at least an hour of poetry writing each day, and have started workshops with Simon Mole to produce poems for children and families, alongside the ongoing Red Sky Sessions with Apples and Snakes. This week we had Adam Kammerling, and it was nice to see fellow Roundhouse Collective (Kid Glove) member, Antosh Wojcik get a name check. 

Muddy Feet Poetry also put out my video ‘Grandad’ out on Tuesday. As I said in my Instagram post, poetry has always been my way of processing difficult things. I am nowhere near processing this, but it felt good to honour my grandad in this way, in a poem that is sad, but also joyful in that it touches on fond memories. I hope others grieving in this time especially enjoy this piece and that it allows you time to grieve. 

I ventured out this week for a meal outdoors, trying to balance between the overwhelm of unfinished to-do lists and enforced relaxation. I’m a little worried that summer may still be bad work-wise, but even if it is, I can comfort myself that I’ll still have some savings and at least I’ll be able to focus on some creative projects. And hopefully sunshine. 

I’m actually writing this on my phone in a park in between my second vaccine appointment and a massage (to support the beauty industry y’know). Some kids just walked past and one asked where I got my “Jordon’s” from and I said I couldn’t remember, “some vintage shop”. One took the piss two steps away and I realised what a middle-class hipster wanker I must have sounded like, all the while they were probably from eBay.

Remember this Saturday is the free exhibition Free Spirits: Loss in Lockdown, by Jo Sharpe and poet Rachel Sambrooks at Studio 9 Oaks Park Studios in Carshalton on the 17th and 24th April, which you can register for online on Eventbrite.

Freelance Reflections #36

Last week’s She Grrrowls wasn’t as smooth as usual, but it was nice to see both the poets involved sharing poems, as well as audience members. I made a point of not bringing my laptop away when visiting family in Hastings for a picnic, but ended up writing a draft of a book review for The Norwich Radical on the journey on my phone!

I still worked on Bank Holiday Monday, but on Tuesday I got to use my wetsuit and booties for the first time in the 9-10 degree pool in Brockwell Park. It was so freezing, and strangely difficult to swim more than two lengths at a time. I’d never been in such cold water to my mind.

With less of some work, I’ve been trying to get on top of boring admin tasks, but also been writing a lot more and catching up with NaPoWriMo prompts, as well as attending the amazing Apples and Snakes’ Red Sky Sessions with Bohdan Piasecki, which have so far included Malika Booker and Jacob Sam-La Rose, two absolute poetry heroes.

I found out today that after being longlisted for Butcher’s Dog, I didn’t make the cut, which I’m gutted about. I never expect to be accepted when submitting poems, so to get so close makes it extra disappointing somehow. Then again, it is also all the more reason to try again in future.

To end on a positive note, successfully recorded two poems with Muddy Feet Poetry on Thursday outdoors in Deptford. I had learnt one by heart, and was super nervous, but Pete and Stanley were so lovely and supportive throughout, I felt really happy afterwards.

The main poem we recorded is also part of Free Spirits: Loss in Lockdown, by Jo Sharpe and poet Rachel Sambrooks. There will be a free exhibition at Studio 9 Oaks Park Studios in Carshalton on the 17th and 24th April, which you can register for online on Eventbrite.

It’s a strange experience writing about something like grief and putting it out into the world; sometimes I feel like artists get it because we all do it, but maybe it’s a bit odd to other people, but it is all part of how we process the world and how we connect.