Carmina’s Cantata #18

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.

Freelance Reflections #62

Although there are some days where the schedule goes awry, I have been really pleased with how my day are going when I am able to do things the way I want to. I’m awaiting details of a new daytime student, and it looks like there will be some flexibility. So, generally, my days will start with a morning of Duo Lingo with breakfast, exercise, content writing, and lesson planning. I’ll do some language learning before lunch, then practise the ukulele. Then I’ll have time to work on funded creative projects (currently music and event production) and unfunded creative projects, before then tutoring most of my students. After dinner, and on Sundays, my aim is to only do relaxing, fun things! Although, I have also started learning Turkish on Thursdays! Last night, I ended up getting this takeaway that was basically just a ready meal you had to heat up yourself! It was good, but… strange!

I did also take part in an Arvon online workshop about Performance in Communities, which involved taking these close-up images in my kitchen. On Instagram, I recently shared some books from Burning Eye Books, who unbelievably didn’t get funding and so really need people to buy books and donate! At the last check, they had about 10 copies of each of the books below, so if lots of people bought those books that’s £100 a pop between the poet and publisher.

Last week, I was very thankful to find out that my ACE application for the She Grrrowls Festival on Saturday 5th March this year has been successful! So, each day I’m working on this project a little, as well as my music project. I’ve not announced it officially yet, so this is a bit of an exclusive! Now, I just need my application to do an MA in Art Psychotherapy to go through! I don’t know whether it’s a build up of anxiety, but my skin is super itchy again, like in October. So, it’s good to be busy in the day, but by night it can be more of a struggle to stay asleep with the constant urge to scratch, even with medication! Hopefully it’ll kick in soon.

Freelance Reflections #56

I’m going on holiday soon, and seeing this as a time to refresh my habits and routines on my return, in order to be more fulfilled and working towards my creative goals, rather than meet deadlines for some financial gain, when I could try a save a little better instead.

So, a quick overview of what I’ve been up to, aside from the usual… I’ve been in the recording studio for Camina’s Cantata. I saw my nan whilst up north, and made us a Turkish dish that my partner had previously attempted (I have to say mine was better… but mostly as I had 90% of the correct ingredients).

I saw Overflow written by Travis Alabanza, performed by Reece Lyons, at Bush Theatre. It was incredible and all my friends loved it too. I also saw my friend in a play called Living Together at Bromley Little Theatre, which was hilarious.

I’ve also managed to get on top of a task that has piled up, and hope to not keep this from happening! This involves saving all the bits from books I’ve read and organising them into albums. I have also been realising how even just 10-minute bursts of reading can do wonders for my mental health. I’ve felt overwhelmed and anxious a lot, but I’m pleased to be growing and believe things are getting better, rather than worse. So, that’s something, isn’t it?

Freelance Reflections #53

Tomorrow I’m back at Between the Bridges for a special LGBT+ events, representing the bisexuals, with books including poetry about relationships with women (Circles) and men (the others). I hope I do better than last time with sales! I’ve also invested in some table clips and different display units. The weather over the weekend looks pretty average, but hopefully some sunny intervals will bring the footfall.

This week I have been thinking about what I can do to create more balance and be more fulfilled in what I do with my time. I feel like I could be close to burnout or become ill if I don’t do something different to protect my free time. After dinner, I’m going to have wind down time, meaning my language learning will be earlier in the day and alternate between Spanish and Turkish. I am also going to cut down on content writing, as it is the least fulfilling work I do, and this will allow me to actually work on the creative projects that are also work (i.e. based on funding, they are equal priority), and I even might find some time then to do the many creative things I want to do that aren’t linked to money! This will also mean I will have less time over weekends that I have to do, so I can do what I really want to do… chill out, read books and magazines, watch films, or just generally do whatever I want to re-energise!

In other news, recently I also got a bike for commutes to students, and I went out to build up my confidence. Typically and ironically, I think I did something to the gears that made the chain loose, and just after having built up the confidence to go on the road, in the pouring rain, thinking back to when I did the same whilst travelling in Laos, and as soon as I turned in towards the pavement, I skidding off the bike, and landed on my thigh and elbow. I tried to fix the chain, but I fell off again. No nobody stopped to see if I was okay, but some guy did shout out from a van, ‘What a hand?’ I saw them smirk as they drove off…

In more cheery news, this week has been very eventful in terms of social stuff too. I was in the live audience for Life & Rhymes, hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring Lemn Sissay, Salena Godden, AP Staunton, and two young poets I didn’t know about, Y.A. Poet and Simply Sayo, who were all great in their own unique ways. I also went to Crystal Palace International Film Festival on Thursday and one of my favourite films was ‘A Piece of Cake’, so I bought these silver balls as a reference when I went to see my boyfriend last night after watching ‘The Guilty Feminist Live’ at Southbank. Lastly, keep an eye out for events in Hastings, as I’ll be at the film screening on 24th and this Poetics event on 25th September.

Freelance Reflections #52

I received my funding to explore music and poetry next week, so I should be starting my new blog series next week. I’ll also try to put some stuff on Instagram of me practicing the ukulele, which will be extremely bad, but hopefully I’ll be able to learn and show some progress!

Last week was the SoLo Craft Fair at Between the Bridges. I only sold two books and got some emails, which I haven’t yet put on my mailing lists even from the last stall, so I need to get on that. I also need some better displays. It looks a bit better than before, but I had a look around and will try to buy some things to better display the books. It cost a lot to get a table, not to mention the insurance, and as I still have plenty of stock, it would be much appreciated if you’re reading this, if you’d like to buy a signed copy of any of my books from my Big Cartel.

This week I’ve also had a couple of meetings about a festival day I’m producing for International Women’s Day 2022! It’s been really positive, and the amazing people at Spread the Word are happy to be a partner on the project, and I have another meeting with the venue I want to use next week, so hopefully that will go well and we can fix a date.

I went to Crystal Palace Park’s South Facing festival (Sundown Sessions) after work on Thursday and it was really incredible to see the work being done with young people. I especially enjoyed ‘Spirit of the Estate Jam’, which worked with young people from local estates to showcase their rap, spoken word, and dancing. Coming up, I have another SoLo Craft fair, exclusively for LGBT+ creators and I’ll also be heading to Hastings at the end of this month, taking part in their poetry film showcase.

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 #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 #23

Since my grandad passed away just over a week ago now, I’ve found how difficult it is to experience such close familial loss and try to work at the same time. This week has been a struggle, but when you’re self-employed, there is so much uncertainty about your finances and I didn’t find out about the funeral date until the end of the week, and which days of work would be impacted. It’s hard to even allow for time off, even when it’s so needed. Then again, my cousin has also been in the same position, unable to take time off from her job, despite 3-5 days being the standard, from what I know. It has meant welling up with tears whilst walking to work for 45 minutes, finding more time to talk to family without being able to see them, and writing poems of grief in the early hours of the morning.

I feel like I’m just about staying afloat, whilst wanting to carve time that allows me to realign my schedule the way that is more fulfilling each day. I’m also ordering 25 copies of my book ‘Circles’ from my publisher, Burning Eye Books, ahead of the digital ‘Living Record Festival’, which will be taking place from 17th January until 22nd February, where listeners can buy a copy of my physical book, along with the audio and creative activity. You can now buy £15 tickets for the festival, remembering that this includes a copy of the book, which is worth £10.

I am also waiting to hear the results tomorrow having been shortlisted for the Anthology Magazine prize, so fingers crossed! It would be something positive to hold onto for my poetry career, for sure, but even making the shortlist is still an achievement worth celebrating, something that I forget to do all too often.