Secret Garden Party

100_4112A run down of my time at Secret Garden Party…

The Good

1. So, I guess number one has to be my performance… even if I do say so myself, haha! But seriously, after Latitude my nerves had calmed and I actually managed not to spend the three days leading up to my performance stressing. I really enjoyed my time there and could definitely have gone on longer!

2. The lake – the first thing we did was go boating in the lake, and on Saturday we picked the perfect time to brave the water and take a dip. There was a funny moment when a dog jumped in, but it got annoying pretty fast – luckily the owner got it back eventually. It felt so good to swim around as the morning sun shone down on us.

3. More than music – my favourite parts of the festival were the randoms little things that went on. As well as the lake, we hula-hooped, joined the community choir, held snakes and chameleons, painted with watercolours, did some shiatsu and meditation, and watched an impromptu acrobatic show. There was also the “Dave Off”, which was silly and hilarious. We also had a bit of a dance to some African beats as our campsite neighbours got chatting to us and got us to come down to the Feast of Fools where they were playing.


4. Favourite performances – fellow poets Emma Jones, Amy Acre and Amy Blakemore performed in Poetry Period on the same stage as me. I didn’t know they were going to be there until the day (let alone any other poets other than ‘Dead Poets’ Mark Grist and Mixy who we saw a couple of times). The last night we shared a  second Roaming Rotisserie meal, plus some churros, and settled at The Amphitheatre where we saw a great range of acts including an open mic final with an incredible beatboxer and freestyle rapper (he managed to deal with the horrible audience-given topic of ‘Hitler’ perfectly), a hilarious comedy show from Le Pain (I think that was the name), and an energetic musical performance from Classy-Cool.

5. Music – I have to say a couple of my favourite music acts were ones I stumbled on – Swell on the first night, and Denai Moore who I hope to catch again at Camp Bestival. I also saw Kwabs, Kyla La Grange, Foxes and Public Enemy.


The Bad

1. The laid-back, chilled vibe of the festival meant that there was a slight issue with the organisation of everything. My set was cut in half, and it’s not that I would have minded having a half an hour set initially, but having prepared an hour of material, it resulted in me missing out all the more light-hearted poems and only realising the tone of my set afterwards. Still, two people who weren’t my boyfriend said they liked it. I had told someone earlier that there was a clash of the dance workshop and me on the board, which I’d also mentioned at the start of the festival as I wasn’t in the programme, and although the times on the board were changed, the fact of the matter wasn’t realised until just before I was due to go on, resulting in the cut of time. Although I thought they could have cut 5 minutes off everything and made up an hour of time, I didn’t want to appear The Diva – I was merely a competition winner after all.

2. Stage communication – in line with the organisation side of things, I felt like it would have been better to have poetry in one place. I didn’t realise there were a load of poets on the Forum Stage (I think) and that space would have probably been more better to host poetry, as it was very difficult to compete with the loud music from surrounding areas, children and drunk/drugged-up people running around and not knowing whether people further away would be able to hear. Those in the Poetry Period had a lot more to contend with in that respect.

3. I didn’t sell any books, therefore I don’t really know how much people liked me. I want to be liked. LIKE ME!!!


& The Ugly

1. The toilets. Having just come from Latitude, the SGP toilets were lacking in comparison. Mostly, there was a lack of toilet roll, but I also preferred Latitude’s type of port-a-loos with a lever-pull, but maybe they just needed to clean them up because they piled up way too high, and there were a couple of occasions where vomit and excrement were in places they shouldn’t be.

2. The drugs. I know that alcohol can be worse in many ways and I do drink a bit, but drugs still scare me a little; behind straw-bales and in the hidden sunflower field there were people lying on their own, near-dead to the world around them. This could also be to do with that the music went on until 6am and was really close to the campsite. I used to be pretty hardcore when it came to yearly trips to Reading Festival, but I just can’t hack that anymore.



Looks like the good is the winner here! As someone who usually goes to festivals for the music, the many adventures that were to be had at Secret Garden Party meant that I was more relaxed and happy to go-with-the-flow. The chilled out vibe must have had an effect on me as I was more calm about my performance and despite the distractions, I managed to get into my set and would have happily carried on and on and on…


Nasty Little Intro – Out Now!


Head over to the Nasty Little Press website to buy my Nasty Little Intro for just £2, or save on postage and packaging by catching me at a festival, gig or She Grrrowls event. There are just 200 copies and both Hannah Jane Walker and Sye Sanders have sold out, so snap them up fast! I highly recommend all the others on offer as I have read them all.

On Friday I’m off to Latitude Festival to perform as a New Voice on the Poetry Stage. I’m extremely excited, and rather overwhelmed at the surreal feeling that I was at Larmer Tree Festival last year and now I’m at lots of different festivals. Teenage Carmina would be proud. Being a strange concoction of introvert + shy girl + quiet one, all my joy is naturally bobbing along with a undercurrent of nervous anxiety. Poets are generally lovely though, so hopefully I’ll be okay and not have to rely too much on the magic fridge I’ve been told about.

On my return I will be collaborating with Not So Popular on the next She Grrrowls event at Blessings in Shoreditch on Wednesday 23rd July. We have Hannah ChutzpahSelina NwuluAmy AcreKemi Taiwo, Prudence Chamberlain, Eley Williams and more.


broken machines/hearts & magpies

Recent news. I went to see Every Rendition on a Broken Machine, performed live by the writer Ross Sutherland at Toynbee Studios, organised by Penned in the Margins aka Tom Chivers. I can only assume it will be on Channel 4 soon because this documentary needs airing. I loved it. It was not only interesting, but told with Sutherland’s natural humour. Being live, your eyes darted from him to the screen, but I liked to look at the screen, so that the sound was like a voice-over. The film was about internet poetry, so a a poet (and internet addict), I obviously found this engaging. However, I think even non-poets would like to watch it. I mean, it features Clarissa Explains it All. Come on!

Yesterday I had the first workshop for Word’s a Stage. It was great meeting the other poets – Selina Nwulu, Anthony Hett, Errol McGlashan. We are being mentored by Malika Booker, who my Mum has banged on about since I first started reading my poetry to audiences 6 years ago (when Booker was involved in the education department at Apples & Snakes, since my Mum works at a school). She has been fantastic so far and I’m looking forward to the next session, once I’ve done my “homepleasure” in developing my character for the piece I’ve written more and re-draft it.

After a long but inspiring day (10am-5pm) I met with my parents, had some Nando’s (of course) and went to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’d read the book some years ago and enjoyed it but couldn’t remember the plot (I’m terrible). We were going to see On the Road, but it had got bad reviews and there are so many films I want to see, we decided not to chance it. It ended up being a bonus that I couldn’t remember it, and although it broke me, it was truly awesome – and not in the slang-way, in the real way.

The quote ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’ is in itself genius, but turned into film, you felt like you were inside it. Needless to say, I cried throughout it. It wasn’t perfect; I didn’t understand it when the character of Sam said “I’m not bulimic, I’m bulim-ist” and this idea wasn’t explored any deeper. If the characters are going to laugh along to lines like that, I just think there should be more to it than that, especially with the current growth of pro-ana people (Say what?! Google it). Other than that moment, it was tragic and beautiful and so moving. It just made you feel so vulnerable afterwards.

Anyway, read the book too. I feel like I need to read it again now.

The last thing I want to write about is the last issue of Poetry Review. Tom Philips’ work was shown on the cover, which I liked as both poetry and visual art. While we’re on that subject, submit to Poetry & Paint. I enjoyed Chrissy Williams’ piece ‘From Page to Stage’ as it’s on my wavelength. I also loved reading Katy Evans-Bush write about Adventures in Form, and On Poetry because I had actually read both books! And now for some quick summaries on why I liked certain poets:

Chris McCabe: the first poet in the collection that caught my attention, with a beautiful use of language and caesuras.

Michael Hofmann: I liked the juxtaposition of items in a broken list, from the idea of bar-coding people to the familiarity of the use of ‘maiden name’ and the general ‘GSOH’.

C.J. Driver: The use of rhythm and the subtleties of language gives it a musicality, and an ephemeral quality.

Carrie Etter: Raw emotion is sculptured into metaphor, with wonders such as “I wanted to sprinkle a little /into flour, egg and cocoa/and feed the cake of you to everyone.”

Karen McCarthy Woolf: I loved the uniqueness of this piece, with descriptions like modern relic, and it’s mixture of humour and tragedy.

Edward Mackay: Although I couldn’t relate to this poem, I admired the way it was crafted into the shape of Wales.

Declan Ryan: There was a tonal quality to the first stanza with which I couldn’t identify, but I enjoyed gems such as “This isn’t an answer or a letter -/it’s only a cup of coffee after lunch”. This is when the poem took off, for me, and I liked the use of simile and metaphor, contrasted with simple dialogue.

Robert Stein: I liked the voice of this poem, and the funny phrases such as “Before falling in love with you…” in its desire to make love logical.

Naomi Foyle: This is probably my favourite poem of this collection. I loved every part of it and would love to read more.

Hannah Lowe: I liked that I could relate to the environment of the dance class, and twist of the final line: “he’s the cab my mother sends for me.”

Amy Acre: This is my joint favourite poem. I know Acre from her live performances, and it was a joy to find this poem included. Really clever and well-written, and lines such as “gathering strength like the hems of skirts. You are a continent.”


The Month Flew By Like A Bird

I can’t believe a month has gone arrghhhh! I’ve been really busy with these things:

– Graduating

– Celebrating

– Going to New York

– The Boyfriend

Whilst in New York, I went to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.  I wanted to perform in the open mic but my parents wanted to leave before midnight and the slam didn’t start until after then and the whole thing ended at 2am!!  Another thing that was different to a lot of the UK events is its popularity – I have never seen a poetry event so packed.  It’s a lot louder as well, with people clicking and making noises like ‘umm hmm!’ at certain lines as the audience show their appreciation.  The host killed time as one of the feature acts was late by asking where people were from, my mum shouting ‘England’ with a hilarious amount of pride in her voice, and also made everyone dance 80’s style to flashing lights and music, which was so bizarre you couldn’t help but laugh along, attempting to move slightly in the crush of the crowd.

The performers were enjoyable, typically American, humourous, intelligent and passionate.  Although we left early, I got a feel for the night, along with books and a t-shirt.

me in my NPC t-shirt... just washed my hair

While away, I did a lot of reading and finished Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (long post response to follow). I recommend them all.  I’m now reading Laura Dockrill’s Echoes.  It’s like Roald Dahl for adults… or kids who swear.

Last night I went to The Tea Box and did the open mic, apologising for anyone who may have wanted to see me the last time (when I had to pull out ON THE DAY because of my stupid eye ulcer).  Sadly, the owners weren’t there for me to apologise to in person.  I went on quite early and was glad to be able to relax and enjoy the likes of Anna Le, Amy Acre, and Harriet Cramer (and also Peter Hayhoe earlier on) plus many other acts I didn’t know the name of.  Donall Dempsey and Janice Windle did a great job hosting as well.  Harrie got very drunk which amused most people.  She said stuff such as wanting tits, but the link says she has the same size as me but skinnier, but then I sometimes say the same thing about myself, especially when drink, and especially when my friend Helen is there.  I’m shocked to see my waist is the same… I guess that’s the difference being 6 inches taller affords.  Anyway, she is a beautiful, talented, lovely lady with hilarious and we should both get published.  Ideally by Harper Collins.  I missed being like that, as in, drunk… which reminds me, I read a poem inspired by a programme I watched on Amy Winehouse, written about 3 years ago, and, as I didn’t record the gig, here it is:


I want to build
myself up to the highest height,

Just to look down
at the fall and be filled with fright.

I want to be, the
best I can be,

Prove them wrong
about my poetry.

Yeah, I want that
pretty face, with the tear stains on show,

Mascara up my eyes,
just so that they all know.

I want to be
perfect, to be a success,

I want to be one of
the best.

I want them all to
read my lips, read my mind,

Then drink myself
to destruction at the end of the night.

I want to fall in
love again with a good boy,

Just so he can
break my heart.

Because if I’m in a
mess, feel my life is destroyed

Then it at least
provides more material for my art.

And I can just pick
up my needle and thread,

Scrub with soap,
the sheets on my bed.

Try stitching my
life up to resemble what was,

Continue the search
for the Wizard of Oz,

Pray for a change
to a non-existent God,

Click my heels

Come home.

That copied kinda weird.  Anyway, I read a poems from actual book things that are published and shit!  To look all profesh.  One was called Flowers and was in issue 13 of The Delinquent.  The next was I Am No Better from the Workshop UEA Undergraduate Anthology which you can buy from places like The Hive, The Workshop and WATERSTONES in Norwich.  Hell yeah!  I have a poem in a book in the biggest book shop in the UK; the one that is still alive!  Although, I couldn’t see it there, but I saw it in The Hive, and The Hive is one of the best book shops ever, Stephen Fry agrees.  I also did Cinderella by heart, just to, you know, show that I can sometimes memorize stuff.

I think I shall end there.  Oh, also, i’m working at Bestival and need to know ideas for what I can go as on different days, the fancy dress theme is ‘Rockstars, Popstars and Divas’.  I just wanna  my own clothes but have things like a black messy wig with white streaks… think I may use it for Amy Winehouse, if that’s not in bad taste… which it shouldn’t because it’s like a tribute to her, because I like her music and she will be a legend, a legend ending in tragedy, but a ledge nevertheless.