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.
Last weekend I took part in the Festival of Ideas as part of Open Generation, a project which saw spoken word artists, photographers and film makers come together to having our say on migration, in partnership with the Migrants’ Rights Network. I’d been mentored by Joelle Taylor, who has helped push me to practice and memorise my poems more, as well as help with confidence and performance preparation techniques. The day started with an early morning meeting, which meant I was able to stay for the two hours of TEDx Salon about free movement and saw some great talks with discussion at the end.
I went to one of the talks during the rest of the day called ‘Redefining Britishness’, I went to a workshop by Adam Kammerling, and got a bit of rehearsal time with fellow poet Melissa McDonald (who’s only done six performances and is already making waves!) There was so much inspiring stuff going on – too much to regurgitate here, but hopefully some videos will go up and I can share them another time.
We all got a plaque for taking part; there were prizes for each category, and I was lucky enough to win one. I was very pleased to purchase a tripod and some other bits from The Flash Centre, with some very generous vouchers. I will also be headed to The Dorchester’s China Tang for a birthday meal with my boyfriend, thanks to this. I admit, I initially felt uneasy about it being a competition, but it is nice to get this kind of recognition. I put the tripod to use this week at She Grrrowls and it made it so much easier… once I’d figured out with a couple of others how to put it up! Plus, having a luxury dim sum meal on my birthday makes up for all the soups and sandwiches you end up eating to find something cheap as a poet.
My poem itself was based on a Congolese woman who was raped, used as a sex slave, and then came to the UK to be detained at Yarl’s Wood. It was inspired by this Guardian article by Natasha Walter. I have known about these atrocities for a while and it was hard to write a poem without acknowledging the frustration that I too have a part to play in them, but thankfully more is being done to source conflict-free minerals (see Intel), yet we must still raise awareness. Poetry Meets Art is an event that does this, hosted by a wonderful woman called Emma Ako. I asked Emma for some places to share with people around this topic, so here’s where she suggested: