Norwich Love – from Art in My Mouth to the Waterfront

I have spent a few days with my boyfriend in Norwich. I read and wrote, and memorised and recorded poems. On our day off we went for a Chinese buffet, and went to an art gallery and to see a band. Here are some photographs from Moosey Art’s exhibition at Stew Gallery, Art in my Mouth. I really recommend checking out all the artists and the work is really affordable, so I really hope some people get behind these guys.

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Funnily enough I saw someone post something on Facebook about the coins above. Check out the Tales You Lose page to find out more and see some of the other designs.

These pineapples are only £30 each! I really want one… but then, you can’t really just get one can you? They look so scrumptious, I’d love them to go up in my house, if I ever move out of my parents’ house! The wall below was completed as part of the live art they had at the opening night. IMG_2563 IMG_2566

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That evening I had booked tickets for Annie Eve the day before. I felt like we were a bit of a rubbish audience, as everyone seems too shy to come forward and lingered at the edges the whole night. Matt’s house is quite a walk from the city centre, so we were quite happy to follow suit and sat on the floor for the gig. Matt spoke to the support act that we saw, and so we think this was Norwich lad, George Cheetham (and not Harry Edwards, whose name was also on the line-up). He was a great support act, with loop pedals and tricks up his sleeve in the form of a harmonica and melodica. He was a bit too self-deprecating at times, but he mostly appeared confident and friendly.
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Whilst Cheetham had fully enunciated his words, my only criticism of Annie Eve would be for her to open her mouth wider so we could hear her beautiful lyrics more clearly. Cheetham’s words were very clear, but with lyrics such as ‘she’s as drunk as a skunk’, they didn’t have the emotional depth of Annie’s. Still, I think it’s great that he played both old and new material, and with tales of working in shops and taking five years to make his album, he seemed like a pretty inspirational guy. So, with that in mind, I felt like my ears were straining to make out the words Annie Eve was singing, which hindered my enjoyment a bit. However, I was really glad to see her live, and she can only grow as a performer, which her change between acoustic and electric shows. Maybe with time and more confidence and experience she will sing more clearly, as I really think her lyricism is a big part of her appeal. I’ve given a few hints to Matt to get me her album, so hopefully he will take note – and hopefully it will contain lyric sheets (my main reason for still wanting to buy CD albums). Click below to view her song ‘Ropes’ on YouTube.

Ben Howard: How Not to be an Audience

I wrote this review on my way home, feeling disappointed at Ben Howard’s performance at the iTunes festival, after moaning with my friend, as well as other vocal fans on the way out of the building. We hesitated leaving as he played just 55 minutes of a contracted 70 minute set, which a commenter told me was meant to include two old songs we had been craving.

However, amongst the commenters who agreed, there were a few that disagreed, and some that we very angry over this post. Although I think the swearing and shouty capital letters were unnecessary, I think it is important to admit where you’re wrong. I watched back at I had been wrong about the trace of narcissism I had initially detected. In fact, this had been a projection of my own frustration at not knowing the songs, expecting to be hearing old classics mixed in with the new, and my height meaning I was unable to see most of the time. When I watched back, I saw that the comments I had thought were rude, were actually bordering on the modesty I thought was missing: Howard’s face looked down as he laughed, as if unable to comprehend the crowd. The importance of body language, eh?

I was also wrong about interpreting him sitting down as lazy. I hadn’t seen him perform and was simply ignorant to his musical technique. In fact, the sitting down was to do with the pedals he needed to press. Other than that, my opinion still stands that the gig would have been better with a mixture of music, and with better audience interaction. So, point number (3) is out, but (1) and (2) still stand for me. Nevertheless, the feeling that I and many others got from Howard could well be to do with what another commenter mentioned: ” If you watch some of his interviews he has tough time dealing with fame and expectations, and that definitely showed last night.” I feel very passionate about mental health issues, and I would hate for my negative words to not be sympathetic to that. Perhaps what we saw on Wednesday was a man who was trying to put his all into it, but was simply struggling, having a bad day.

So, all this got me thinking about the audience, and how reactionary lots of people, myself included, had been after the gig. Some of these points were what other commenters brought up, and others were things that are linked to what I had been saying. During the gig, the audience were standing their like zombies, to the point where I was zapped of energy and was infected with the zombie bug too (plus, with the frustration with my expectations not being met). People nearer the front simply stood there, whilst other areas meant that people talked too loudly, seemingly uninterested with the gig. I think would have enjoyed the gig more had I been sat down in a quiet field with the music blowing through the wind, rather than stood up in building full of bright flashing lights. This happened when I saw Laura Marling at In The Woods festival recently (where I was also performing – yay!) I would have liked to sing along (which I approve of), but people were either silent or talking way too loudly. Music with beautiful lyrics like Marling’s or Howard’s deserve attention. Especially hearing songs for the first time, I want to really listen and take them in.

On this point is the constant need to capture every moment with a camera. I like to have a memento too, but I think after a couple of shots and maybe one recording of a song you love, enough is enough. Put the camera away and enjoy just being there. The most fun I’ve had at gigs is when you immerse yourself in the experience rather than trying to get a photograph that isn’t a big old blur of colours.

So, all in all, I have just three pointers for performers, and four for audience members, because, hey, I can admit when I’m not 100% right, and a gig is, as I said, a mutual relationship between performer and audience. My tips for the audience are as follows:

1.Talking through performances of singers whose music is lyrical and soft. (More so for poetry too!)
2. Constant filming and photography. Remember when you enjoyed just being at gigs?
3. Come without expectations. Or, as I have learnt, you will be disappointed.
4. Remember that performers are human beings, with all their imperfections and complexities.

Ben Howard: How not to do a gig.

So, I’m thinking of creating some tips for artists after seeing Ben Howard at the Roundhouse, where I was on the guest list after being part of the Poetry Collective there. Sadly I had this idea from a ‘what not to do’ perspective as I was utterly disappointed in Howard’s performance, as were many other audience members. Our only solace was a good old British moan afterwards.

A British lad, one might expect that typical dose of modesty. Actually, it looked more like this Venn diagram:

At times he was overly self-critical, saying ‘you know when you wake up and sometimes you’re not funny and sometimes you are, well today I’m not funny.’ Ensue sparse polite laughter (what this meant to be irony?) Yet, as he whisked through songs from his new album, he told fans ‘Is this how it works? You get free tickets, you get what you’re given.’ This felt deeply insulting to the audience; was our time worth nothing? I would have happily had a night at home instead of this gig, and goodness knows I needed one.

There would surely be people who travelled further than my hour-ish journey to see him. I had been waiting to see him for years and never been able to, and I had been listening to his old album in excitement. Yet, there was a woman in front of me who knew all the words to the only song he’s released from the new album, suggesting there were bigger fans than me out there. How do you think they felt?

Howard also spent a lot of the set sitting down whilst most of the audience were standing, unable to see. Some would have come straight from work, some spending money, no Ben, not on tickets, but on food and drink, and whatever else, to go to the gig. And he’s sitting down. I’m sorry, genuinely, do you have ME? Do you have an actual reason why you needed to sit down? The audience, whoever they are, came to see you. YOU! And you owe them respect if it really was such a privilege to be performing at the Roundhouse after being at The Enterprise a few years ago.

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My friend, Hannah, and I bought lovely beef chilli burritos and sweet potato fries for dinner from The Enterprise – that was the best part of the night. This sentimental comment from Howard just seemed contradictory and his point was made clear as he left the stage without an encore and no old album tracks. Do you think we want to buy the album now? Do you think we’re dying to see him live again? I’m afraid not. It may be fun for the artist to play all new material, but it’s about the relationship between the audience too, and whilst we would have been happy to listen to some new material, it would have been best to also play songs we know and love. Instead, the performance was alienating and underwhelming.

So, some lessons to learn from Ben Howard:
1. Give a mixture of what you would like to do and what you know the audience wants.
2. Put your all into it no matter how big or small.
3. Don’t be a dick: appreciate and respect your audience.

Larmer Tree Festival 2013 & She Grrrowls

Before I get to the juicy stuff, I’d like to point a couple of things. Firstly, check out my profile of the Spread the Word website as part of the ‘Spoke’ project to find the first Young Poet Laureate for London, for which I was shortlisted. Yep, I made the final twenty ‘Podium Poets’ but sadly didn’t make the cut to the final six. Secondly, I found a link to the Guardian website where there is a picture of me! Gillian Wearing picked my picture as one of her favourites and said ‘I relate to this, having done various jobs myself when I left college’ at my photo, taken in Sainsbury’s uniform with the statement ‘the artist shouldn’t be stacking shelves.’

The major news is that I’ve performed at my first proper festival, you know, with fields and camping and stuff. The festival was Larmer Tree in Salisbury. I went with my friend Natalie and we had an amazing time! The weather was perfect and made me so very happy. I hope to come back the next year and for the weather to be as good! I saw such a range of music, including the lovely Saturday Sun, and a boy playing a pop-up gig who was around 10 and incredible (who was later gutted to miss my performance of ‘Circles’ which was nice to hear). We also made things like insect brooches, necklaces and mosaics. We learnt some hula hoop tricks and now I really want to take it up! I also hope to take up the ukulele, re-inspired by the band there.

I saw some great poets, including Angie Belcher, Edson Burton, Nichol Keene and Toby de Angeli, Joelle Taylor, Poeticat, Scott Tyrrell and The Antipoet. My first performance had been extended to half an hour, which meant that I ran out of material (oops) and had to read from my book. It actually felt good to take my time and read like that, and people got to listen to pieces which I don’t do as much. I probably should have taken my time earlier. My second set was ‘Circles’ the epic-poem I produced with Apples & Snakes as part of the ‘Word’s a Stage’ project. I had memorised it but didn’t quite know it well enough to avoid looking at the paper stuck in my prop (the Metro). I also ran a workshop which I thought went well as most of the participants were lovely and one told me that I should be confident in what I do. Honey, if I knew how to do that, I’d be a more successful poet by now.

Just kidding, I know I come across as a bit shy and softly spoken… but well, I am. I’m growing to accept myself this way and believe I can still be successful being who I am. I lack confidence now and again (don’t we all?) but some people can see my inner-confidence. I’ve been having a bad week so far. I’m not sure where it stemmed from, but I’ve been in a bad mood and felt like I work so hard and don’t have much to show for it. Typing away at a laptop all the time when it’s sunny outside can be a tad depressing. Especially when videos won’t upload. This video by Jodi Ann Bickley helped a bit and it is inspiring to see her work with one million lovely letters. And here I am, still writing this and not knowing if anyone is reading it and if any of this will amount to anything.

So, we had our pilot event for She Grrrowls at Kingston’s Ram Jam Club at the Grey Horse as part of IYAF. How did it go? It was a bit of a disaster but I think we pulled it off. On Thursday night the headline act pulled out, on my return from Larmer Tree on Monday, another act was forced to pull out, and whilst the event had started, another act pulled out. Only two out of our five acts actually was able to make it. Luckily, we had Sam Neele replace our headliner for the music, who gave a lovely other-worldly set, and I filled in with some poetry. Bisha Ali gave us some hilarious comedy, and I’m gutted I can’t show you a video or tell you some of the jokes but we will definitely have her at She Grrrowls again. Andi Michael gave us extracts from her novel, proving her not only to be an amazing writer but one with a unique style that makes use of poetic language. In addition to the line-up we had on the spot performances from Hannah Rose Tristram, Becky Dennis and Cherry Godiva, who were all amazing. We hope to see everyone again at future She Grrrowls events.

Which brings me to the next point on the agenda. Dates.

Number 1: Wednesday 11th September. The She Grrrowls Spoken Word Launch at The Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green. Future events every first Wednesday of the month.

Number 2: My next gig will be August 8th at Red Door Studios, 120 Masterman Road East Ham E6 3RW. I will also be delivering an all-day workshop there on Saturday 14th September.

Number 3: August 13th at RichMix in Shoreditch I will be performing a show as part of a writing group through Apples & Snakes.

I think that’s about all anyone’s brain can take in this heat.

xxx

Frightened Robot Gun

Time is short and I have wasted a lot of the day after celebrating a friend’s birthday until the early hours. I’m going swimming soon but I’m already ready for bed. It’s been eventful so without further ado, I’ll let you know what’s been going on.

Firtsly, I went to see Frightened Rabbit back in September. Aside from annoying crowd members and post-work tiredness, it was a great gig. They didn’t play all the songs I would have liked but ‘Poke’ was amazing to see live and the highlight of the gig.

The week after I took a surreal trip to Norwich after work to perform at the launch of internet poetry – Bad Robot, an event organised by Catherine Woodward. Ross Sutherland was performing but sadly I didn’t get to speak to him. I spoke to Russell J Turner who was the surprise guest of the evening and had me itching to do his Googleseed poems. James Sykes was also reading and having not seen him before, I was really impressed, with his deadpan humour, he reminded me a bit of Tao Lin’s poetry. Thom James was seen, rather appropriately, in digital form. Unfortunately, not quite a hologram, but a really cool video flickering poetry across a screen.

I stayed in a hotel, *cough* B&B *cough*, nearby the station as I had to get up at like 5.30am or something ridiculous. They didn’t even have any tea:

Skip ahead to the following week and I finally went to Bang Said the Gun. It was all very exciting, entering the room to the likes of Billy Bragg pumping out of the speakers, monochrome scribbles of the event name all over the walls, and an animation reel for the stage backdrop. Not to mention the cool shakers used for applause. Although, after a day at work, shaking it to more than one song as a build up to the start was a bit like giving a never-ending hand-job. Some white stuff came out and got on my bag. But it has to be said, these guys know what they’re doing and put on a cracking poetry (or anti-poetry) night.

Also, Peter Hayhoe kind of remembered my surname, and having not officially met, this made me happy. He also performed a set himself, of which I particularly enjoyed a collaboration with a female guitarist about pulling girls in 1998, dressing up in the actual shirt of his heyday. Dan Cockrill was a great host, and I particularly like the way he step-touched to the music in between acts. Martin Galton also read some funny poems from a book of hate, along with a heart-warming poem of love about his son.

I didn’t get on the open mic as this event is so popular, the next space wasn’t until 25th October, so I’ll be back then. To be honest, I enjoyed the event so much, I would happily be there every week if I could. One of the main reasons for this was the performance from resident poet, Maria Ferguson (and she references Sarah Kane in this video!). She delivered a narrative poem, that really got me gripped and so I’d probably have to say she was my favourite of the evening.Though it’s hard picking favourites with such an array of talent, and diverse talent at that.

The Roundhouse Slam Champions performed and although I can’t remember their names, I wish I could because they were amazing. In turn, I felt wholly inadequate and old. One guy, who described himself as looking a bit like Sideshow Bob, gave a performance that mixed the comedic and the tragic, with some very poignant lines. Another guy gave a highly performative piece that incorporated subtle physical movements and voice control, giving the effect of cut-up text.

The female of the group had me welling up with  her poetry about mental illness, along with her sweet, soft voice, she came across as an emblem of strength and fragility. I hope I didn’t miss anyone from the group as I didn’t make any notes on the night!

The Ruby Kid was the last before the open mic (where I had to dash off). Back in the day he had complimented my poetry over MySpace, and I even performed alongside him at Speech Motion. I knew I would enjoy his set, but he was even better than I remembered. My favourite was ‘205 Panorama’ which had some really clicky lines – you know what I mean – lines that give you goosebumps and make your ears prick up. Sadly, I can’t find this one online so you’re going to have to see him live. It looks like he’s going to be running a night called ‘Howl’ in Shoreditch so I’ll have to check that out in the future.

The event also had some rather desultory activities such as throwing a balloon across the room to win a drink, and having a massive ‘bang’ hat. I wish I lived in Zone 2 and was like a full-time poet and writer, then I would be able to go to Bang every time.

In other news, my poem The Movement of Hands will be published in Issue 9 of Artemis Poetry Magazine. I’ve been sending out lots of submissions and I said to myself that I would be happy if even just one was accepted so I am very pleased! I’ve also got an exciting project in the pipeline for Novemeber 21st, with Apples & Snakes. Keep the date in your diary!

xxx

 

Poetry in Music: Part 2

Bon Iver

The Wolves (Act I and II)

“And the story’s all over you
In the morning i’ll call you
Can’t you find a clue when your eyes are all painted Sinatra blue”

Skinny Love

“And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And now all your love is wasted?
And then who the hell was I?
And now I’m breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines”

Frightened Rabbit

Keep Yourself Warm

“Oh, you won’t find love in a,
Won’t find love in a hole.
It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm.”

Quiet Company

How Many Times do you Want to be in Love? (no video but here’s the full lyrics)

“Your heartstrings all came undone
When she left you out in the sun

Well, what did you think it would feel like to be in love?

And your heartaches have served you well
And if you’re anxious, I just can’t tell

Well, how many times did you want to be in love?”

Laura Marling

My Manic and I

“I can’t control you, I don’t know you well
These are the reasons I think that you’re ill
And since last that we parted
Last that I saw him down by a river
Silent and hardened
Morning was mocking us, blood hit the sky
I was just happy, my manic and I
He couldn’t see me, the sun was in his eyes
And birds were singing to calm us down”

Jeff Buckley

Morning Theft

“I had to send it away to bring us back again.
Morning theft. Unpretender left, ungraceful.
True Self is what brought you here, to me.”

Damien Rice

Coconut Skins

“You can sit on chimneys
With some fire up your ass
No need to know what you’re doing or waiting for
But if ever anyone should ask

Tell them, I’ve been licking coconut skins,
And we’ve been hanging out.
Tell them, God just dropped by to forgive our sins,
And relieve us our doubt.”

Daughter

Medicine

“You could still be,
What you want to,
What you said you were
When I met you.
You’ve got a warm heart,
You’ve got a beautiful brain”

Kate Nash

Merry Happy

“I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone, yeah
I can watch a sunset on my own
I can be alone
I can watch a sunset on my own”

Regina Spektor

How

“I guess you know by now
That we will meet again somehow”

Poetry in Music: Part 1

A poem and a song are not one and the same, but I believe you can find poetry in music. I’m starting with a poet I’m seeing on Wednesday but I will be focusing on music, and in particular songs to do with relationships. I’ll be picking out key lyrics that have spoken to me recently. I’m not going to explain their personal significant to myself, but hope you enjoy the poetry of the lyrics.

Buddy Wakefield

Giant Saint Everything

“I should have told you before talking in terms of forever that any given day wears me out, works me sour; that there are nights when the sky is so clear, I stand obnoxious underneath it, begging for stars to shoot me just so I can feel at home”

Emmy the Great

24

“Man on the screen he has done more in a minute
Than you have achieved in your whole entire life
When you finally realise i was the best thing you had in it
We’ll be closing up your eyelids on the bed on which you die”

Bright eyes & Neva Dinova

I Know You

“We made quite a pair in the morning
We both tend to traffic in dreams
Seeing it now from the outside
You kept all your dark ones for me”

Scroobius Pip

Broken promise

“From anyone who ever let you down and went missing
Lovers, parents, best friends, and siblings
Sometimes life conspires to make liars of good men”

Noah and the Whale

First Day of Spring

“But I’ll come back to you in a year or so
And I’ll rebuild, be ready to become
Oh the person, you believed in
Oh the person, that you used to love”

Destiny’s Child

Emotion

“But if you don’t come back
Come home to me, darling
Dont you know there’s nobody left in this world
to hold me tight”

Mumford and Sons

Little Lion Man

“Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems
That you made in your own head

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn’t I, my dear?”

White Blank Page

“But tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart”

Slow Club

Giving up on Love

“We’ve been over and over,
this thing we call love.
And I’ve been thinking about what my friends would say,
if I were to give it up.

Cause I’ve been tired and hopeful (I’ve been hurting inside)
For far too long now (too long now).
So I’m giving it up, giving up, giving up on love.
Giving up on love.”