The final episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have now been published, marking the end of this project, though hopefully not the end of my journey with music, although the end of the funding. I still would love to work more on my poem-songs, collaborate with musicians and producers, and keep up with the ukulele. Meanwhile, please share this time capsule of poetry and music in 2021-2022 far and wide.
The penultimate episode features an interview with my maternal nan and grandad (I actually remember my grandad actually taught me the meaning of the word ‘penultimate’. The one with my nan came about naturally at first, then I asked if we could try to recapture what she had been talking about, with her dad having been a theatre musician. The part with my grandad was actually in response to my mum, who studied theatre at university.
The bonus episode is just me talking about music and emotions – another aspect of what drove me to pick this topic. So, if you fancy listening to me chatting about music and emotions, butchering names and technical terms from the research I’ve done, and summarising my findings and best bits, then set aside 50 minutes and enjoy!
The final poet interview is out in the world, and it ends on a bang with Brigitte Aphrodite! As a lover of a good chinwag, this is also the longest episode in the series. Still to come in a special episode where we hear from my maternal nan and grandad, as well as one of me discussing the research I’m doing over the next month or so!
I’m picking up the uke when I can, and have been having a go at Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’. I quite like it, though I’m still struggling with getting my fingers to and from the G-chord! I’m going to have a busy summer, and hope for more days where I can spend any rest time between the busyness in parks researching with my little pile of books.
Another three episodes have been released of Carmina’s Cantata, featuring Caz Smiling, Jemima Foxtrot and Antosh Wojcik. I got to visit Brighton to record with Caz, and we even had a drink afterwards at The Poets Ale and Smokehouse… it had to be done really. I caught up with Jemima in SE London, during her trip back to the UK as she is currently living abroad, and returned to the area of Camden, where Antosh and I first met as part of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective.
Just one more interview to go, I’m currently reading some books about music, making a few notes and collecting my thoughts. I’m really interested in music and emotions, so this is the focus. I’ve just finished a book by Malcolm Budd, and I’m now onto Oliver Sacks. Watch this space for upcoming podcasts – there’s still one more interview to go before a special episode, and then this bonus one where I will share my thoughts on the research I’m currently doing.
It’s been a few weeks since I posted, so three more episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have been released – featuring Belinda Zhawi aka MA.MOYO, Tongue Fu’s Chris Redmond and the multi-faceted Joshua Idehen. It was great to catch up with Belinda, who I know from BARPo days, in Chris’ episode we are treated to a live ukulele track, and Joshua’s episode is the perfect blend of humour and vulnerability.
I’ll be having my last in-person ukulele lesson today. Perhaps I will continue in future, but for now I’ll make do with what I’ve learnt so far and dedicate the time to practice. I’m finding it hard to get to the G7 chord, and my little finger keeps sticking out, but I’ve found it really helps to play songs I know and love like Hallelujah. Ooh, I’ve also started reading my music books, so I can do a bonus episode at the end about my findings!
I’m back into playing the uke and the podcast is in full swing! This week you can hear me have a chat with Genevieve Carver up North, where we imagine being musicians in another life. I’m currently updating the whole list of episodes, so I’ll be scheduling everything and then putting the word out there about each weekly episode. It’s interesting how I ended up up North and visited my nan for the first two interviews, when the reason that the project felt right at the time was that my grandad had recently passed away, who was a joiner and a trumpeter.
I’ll be ending the podcast series with an episode featuring my grandparents, but before that there are ten episodes to listen to from today all featuring a diverse range of voice in poetry and music, partly in London, where I am, and a few trips around England at various Pirate Studios. If you have some time today, you should also check out ‘A Beautiful Way to be Crazy’ on Scene Saver.
After hours and hours, days upon days of editing transcripts and wondering why I decided to do transcripts for the podcast, I have finally released the first episode using the platform Anchor, so it is now available on Spotify! For some reason, the link to the transcript isn’t a link, and I’ve tried to fix that, but maybe it takes time to update. It’s also in the process of being added to other listening platforms.
The first episode features Kayo Chingonyi, who I interviewed first back in October 2021 in Leeds, when I was also able to catch-up with the wonderful Sarah Perry. I felt like Kayo really articulated a relationship between poetry and music in a way that really resonated with me. I’ve been a bit delayed with putting it out, with the She Grrrowls festival and Covid (which I’m currently having a kind of relapse from), so I’m planning to release an episode a week every Friday.
I haven’t written an update on Carmina’s Cantata in a while, and as I’m back to it after a bit of a break, I thought I’d write a little on what I’m doing, as well as some more general stuff. So, after the festival, I didn’t listen to my body. I had an amazing massage should have gone home to rest, but I went to the Taking Back Sunday, Alkaline Trio and Destroy Boys gig… which I’m pretty sure if where I then got Covid! Made worse by going to see Funeral For A Friend the following week! I’d gone so long without it, I even thought maybe I’d had it but been asymptomatic. It was rough. It’s the second-worst illness I’ve had (the other being a kind of relative of Glandular Fever). I’m still struggling with the fatigue and my lungs don’t feel 100% when exercising. At one point I even got mixed messages about going to A&E, but I waited until Monday to see a doctor and it turned out that I just rushed into exercise. I’m feeling super tired right now and hoping I’m getting the balance right, as it’s something I struggle with.
I’d had to cancel my poetry gigs at SHEreos of Lewisham and R.A.P. Party, but I was at least able to watch The Albany stream, where an audio of my poem I’d recorded in the day was played, and a couple of people told me that my poem was one of their favourites. It was a joy to see people dancing to my chosen tracks as well. I was able to see the SHEReos of Lewisham exhibition with my poem in it the following weekend at Crofton Park Community Library. I have also been accepted onto the MA in Art Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths. As I’m not eligible for a government loan and getting a loan to cover the full tuition is proving to be impossible, I’m trying to crowd fund as much as possible. Read about and share my journey here.
As I was trying to work out what I could do whilst still resting… I did some drawings inspired by the themes of Grayson Perry’s Art Club. I just felt weirdly guilty for watching and listening to things… though I wish I knew you could get audiobooks from the library on your phone then! It’s just so hard to manage fatigue. So, this week, I have started to work on the podcast interviews. I have finished editing the one I used for the production course I did, and after a panic that I have forgotten everything, I now know what I’m doing again.
I interviewed poet and theatre maker Hannah Jane Walker about her book on sensitivity… and just had to cut it down from over 13,000 words to nearly 5,000 words! I may have to cut it down even more, but it is taking a lot longer than anticipated. Although off-putting in some ways, I have made a note on my to-do list to use the same platform (Otterly) to write transcripts. It won’t take quite as long as I won’t have to edit it down to an article length thankfully!
Just one more podcast episode to record next month and then I can focus on actually putting it out there! I have another project I’ll update about soon that requires a lot of my time at the moment, and I’m still waiting on some elements of the first episode to come together, so it may be out a little later that I hoped. If I manage by February to put them out every fortnight, that’ll still be enough time until the project ends in August.
Meanwhile, I’m still making time for my little red uke. I’ve been tired, I’ve been happy, I’ve been cold. I spent a lot of time doing ‘Ring of Fire’, which was good for some chord changes, and I’ve even learnt a bit about sharps and flats… I don’t know if my bed is the best place to do it, but that’s clearly where I tend to be!
I’ve recorded my penultimate podcast episode! Soon all that will need doing is the editing, and then working out Spotify and putting it out there! This has been my favourite part of this project as I’ve got to have some really interesting conversations and also caught up with poet friends that I haven’t seen in a while!
I’ve been dedicating more focussed time to playing the uke, and doing some tricky stuff in terms of both chord transitions and trying to play along to a metronome. On days where I have been able to have balance and do this, I have been feeling much more fulfilled and happier in what has felt like and up-and-down time. And apparently, only now mercury’s in retrograde.
I did take my ukulele with my on my travels to see family, but alas, I still have not perfected ‘Jingle Bells’. I’m looking forward to starting my routines again, as I ease into the New Year. I’ll be booking a monthly in-person lesson to add to my Fender Play practice. With my goals being about rest, balance, healing and joy, I hope to dedicate more focussed time to playing, which will give me fulfilment as I learn more and more.
I’m also going to record the penultimate podcast episode and begin to edit all the episodes to start putting them out by the end of the month, on a fortnightly basis. I’ll also need to figure out how to get them on Spotify. After listening to lots of podcasts on dating and sex, and grief and mental health, I’ve now been enjoying more poetry podcasts, including those from Apples & Snakes, Faber, and Dead Darlings.