She Grrrowls & Politics

She Grrrowls Logo

With She Grrrowls just finding its feet and me just about recovering from a post-launch cold, I think it’s about time I wrote about its first instalment. I arrived at The Gallery Café over 3 hours before the event’s start time. As I can’t afford to fork out £50 on a sound technician, I decided to bring a pad of paper and pen to note down the basics. It seemed easier enough and despite some initial problems, it was working. That was when things started to take a turn for the worst. There was a party of 30 people due an hour before the event for a buffet, which did no good for my pre-show anxiety. Then, my comedy act got in contact to say she was too ill to do the show. I was further sent into a panic when part of the She Grrrowls team was taken down by a kidney infection. I was on the edge of a meltdown. Still, guest host Joelle Taylor turned up and got her hands dirty moving tables with me, providing a welcome relief.

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Twenty minutes before the start, I tested the music again. No sound came out. No sound. We had no sound. What was I going to do? The events manager was off sick, and I hadn’t a clue how to work out what the problem was, let alone fix it. The café never closed its doors, so people were coming in and I was running round like a headless chicken. Joelle kindly jumped on stage to tell people to pay and I ran back and forth to collect money and check on the sound. Time was a blur, and somehow, with the help of the café staff and the band, the sound began to work through one speaker – not the ones above, but one sat on the stage. Booking a six-piece band for the first event was probably a bit ambitious, but through working together, it all turned out okay and we were able to start the show before 8pm.

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My head was a whirlwind, but I was thankful I didn’t have to worry about the audience and the artists. The open mic’ (themed ‘politics’) was a great success… from a rather unusual but expected ‘alternative view’ to established poets like Pete the Temp and Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson, as well as emerging artists I was glad to see take to the stage, including a lovely lady called Imogen who rhymes under ‘Average White Female’. The audience looked packed – we ran out of seats (mostly because I didn’t have time to remove all the tables) and I counted around 40-50 people. The best part of this means that each act took away around £30 payment (although the ever-supportive Joelle tried to give the money back to She Grrrowls) and I would love to increase that amount by getting bigger audiences. What’s more is that the event had positive feedback – one couple who had come in for food (the guy had just arrived back from Canada) were convinced to stay for the show and left telling Joelle that this was just the kind of event they had been looking for: good quality poetry without the pretence.

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I managed to relax enough to talk to a couple of friends who came to watch, and to be able to enjoy the rest of the show. Momina Mela offered us beautiful poetry with words that melt your soul, each word spoken slowly, carefully, as if each word was a jewel offered as a gift to the audience. Momina has an uncanny way with words and amazes with each line of poetry. Aisling Fahey then wowed the audience with her raw honesty; lines like ‘how to hold their frame without wishing there were less of it’, although about eating disorders, was both horribly relatable and undenyably tragic. A poem that goes beyond the experience of eating disorders and makes you wonder why you would ever want to be less of yourself, like you’d be destroying a part of yourself.

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Sunshine in Mae finished the night and left everyone with a smile on their face. Fronted by Sula Mae, this six piece band also had some guys in it (see – showcasing female talent, not completely banning men). I knew Sula Mae from university as a solo artists so it was incredible to see her songs grow to such a level, hearing new tracks and old favourites like ‘Wake up Mr. Billy’. People hung around after and chatted, before Joelle helped me pack all the equipment away (what a star!) I was left exhausted, but elated, and so so thankful to everyone who was involved in making She Grrrowls a success.

Watch some of the poetry from the launch on the She Grrrowls Youtube Channel.

Since then, I encountered yet another hurdle! The booking system at The Gallery Cafe hadn’t registered future She Grrrrowls events. After waves of panic via email and feeling sick all day, I was able to sort it out and have spent the last week re-arranging bookings. The next event will be on Saturday 5th October – I had to change a couple of acts but you can see the confirmed line-up below… the change of theme to ‘sex’ seemed appropriate (well, we couldn’t do ‘space’ without Helen Keen)! I’m excited as I won’t be tired from work and my boyfriend will be there to enjoy the show (and help me out) – poetry on a Saturday night, what a treat! The rest will be every THIRD MONDAY of each month.

She Grrrowls Oct 2013 NEW


Last Night, She Said…



Last month was my birthday – yay! I’m 24 now and I for the first time since I turned 19 I didn’t go clubbing. I went to the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition (loved it), had a meal at The Diner with about 10 close friends and had drinks around Hoxton before going to the comedy show at the Udderbelly (ok until they made jokes about domestic violence etc.) All in all, it was a great celebration, and my actual birthday was made amazing by people at work showering me with books and homemade cake. Two of my favourite things. I’ve been really busy… do I keep saying that?


So, my time at Bang Said the Gun has come to an end. Here is a terribly unflattering photo of me performing, but I’m grateful to Cat Brogan for the evidence that ‘Carmina waz ere’ and all that. I really want to come back to do the raw meat stew… and hopefully a feature, in the future! Something that I feel I have to speak up about is the level of misogyny, not only at the Udderbelly, but (sadly) at Bang too. More so, the fact that it is so ingrained in society that most people don’t question it (or don’t seem to) and so I did my bit and scattering some Feminist glitter on my poetry sets.

The energy of the last one was the most inspiring as the raw meat stew had less of the sexism, Martin Figura gave his nod to Feminism in a polka dot shirt and Cat Brogan hula-hooped whilst singing about her clitoris. That’s exactly what needs to be done; don’t run away, but challenge it, perform something better and show that you don’t have to be offensive to be good. I thoroughly encourage females/feminists to come and have a go! Anyway, more about that darker side of the poetry scene later. I had a great time every week -even the two weeks when I was ill and my sniffle developed into a full-on fever, it had me in bed past midnight.


I also had a stall at the Saboteur Awards, which was great (despite my fever) and I got to meet a few cool people.  I can now said I have been fortunate enough to have worked for an award winning company (Penned in the Margins), taken part in an award winning project (Shake the Dust) and performed at an award winning night (Bang Said the Gun). Check out  what you missed out on by Richard T Watson, and Dan Holloway (who said my stuff was like ‘Cath Kidson branded poetry’).

I didn’t sell as much as I wanted to, but Poetry&Paint was quite popular and I sold a t-shirt and some of the badges and stickers. I didn’t sell any of my own books/CDs as I guess nobody really knew who I was. People did say my stall was the prettiest though. Since Poetry&Paint is kicking off, I’ve extended the deadline for the next issue but only specifically because I’m looking for a response to Siobhan Belingy’s artwork. Deadline is the Friday 7th June. Don’t forget to buy your copy of the first issue.


On Saturday I went to Chime for Change, which was particularly fun when J.Lo and Beyonce performed as they had such a range of material. It was amazing to hear speeches from the likes of Desmond Tutu on video and Madonna in person. There were so many amazing performers and speakers, but all I really need to say is to check out the different causes the event supported at Catapult. I wore my ‘this is what a Feminist looks like’ t-shirt and one of the bouncers called me ‘Mrs Feminist’… I suppose I should have said ‘Ms Feminist’ haha!

One of my friends asked me to break down feminism for them, and I spoken about equality, and acknowledging the subjugation of women over hundreds of years. I hope I did a good job to explain why. I find it annoying that my peers don’t know this stuff already, but if I’m honest, I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that as it is only recently that just a handful of my friends have turned to Feminism. I don’t want to force them to identify as such, but I just hope I have a positive influence in making them think it is a good thing to be! The slogan for the event couldn’t be more right: how can we move forward if half of us are held back?

Glamour, Nudity and Melted Chocolate

So, last night was the third Glam Slam in a row I’ve been too. It’s only on once a year but it is always so fun and I’m always partial to a theme, plus the host, Ernesto Sarezale is super-organised like myself.  So, a good excuse to post pictures like the one below.  My theme was ‘loss’ and I had to wear blue.  I had a ‘San Francisco Loves You’ t-shirt that I got on holiday but I got make-up on it so had to change – gutted.

Scarf: East

Fan: gift

T-shirt: Jaguar Love

Skirt: H&M

Tights: Topshop

Shoes (seen in end picture): Vintage ‘Charles’ from Beyond Retro

Lipstick + Foundation: Estée Lauder

Mascara: Maybelline

Eyeliner: Collection 2000

Eye stars (can’t really see here): unknown

Nail Varnish: ‘Carrie’ SATC

Anyway, I met my friend Hannah after she finished work and went to Nando’s.  The loyalty card was confusing me (mainly, because the staff seem to be confused) so I ended up with two chicken breasts.  So much for loosing this weight I’ve put on).  It was delicious as ever though and I enjoyed my extra big portion, though felt a bit of a pig).  We went to The Book Club and I got a drink, before getting a seat downstairs early.  Cat Brogan was on first and fabulous as ever.  Marcus Reeves, on the timer, who was ‘challenging Annie Lennox’, remembered me from last time which was nice.  He has a collection out called ‘Sighs Ten’ haha. When he said he remembered me I said ‘thank you’, afterwards realising that’s probably a strange thing to say.

Chris Young, last year’s winner also performed, who I couldn’t remember before he started taking off his clothes and doing last year’s poem, but he was good, check him out here.  It just goes to show, it doesn’t matter about who you’re having sex with… anyone can understand the bliss of when someone likes your company and not just your cock/pussy.  Emanuel Xavier was down from New York and he was amazing.  At the time I was stressing about missing my train back and he was so good I forgot about it – and believe me, that says something!  I would have liked to talk to him, especially as between acts he congratulated me.  PLUS, I’m going to New York at the end of July so it would have been cool to know where to go.

Angry Sam was first to compete in the ‘Loss’ category and after he finished I thought there was no way I was going to get through. I think I performed with him at Limehouse Church and thought he was good, and tonight I was sure he was going to win it.  He did a poem about an ex from the point of view of her, and got the audience to join in with ‘you’re just a bastard’.  I did ‘Space Station’ off by heart and did an intro that lead on from Sam’s.  I felt it was the best I’d ever done (gutted my cam ran out of batt) it so it was really hurtful when the scores came… two 8s, one 7, and a 5.  It wasn’t so much the scores, but the group of girls that picked the ‘5’ seemed to be laughing about it, and I wanted to cry.  But I didn’t.  I ended up winning the category with 28 points.  Marcus said Sam’s name though (he got 27) and had to correct it, so when Sam came over with flyers it was a bit awkward.  I was texting at the time, and stressing out about my train, so was in a bit of a fluster and stupidly said ‘oh, well done, by the way’ when I realised it was him.  All he said was ‘so, you won it then?’ so I felt like I’d said the wrong thing.  I looked at the flyer and said I was meaning to go anyway; it was for seeing Chester P, who I saw support Jamie T when I had this weird illness that was like Glandular Fever but they never found out what it was exactly.  I thought it was a great gig so am hoping to go along with a friend I want to catch up with.

People came up to me in the break and both congratulated me and said how the girls that voted ‘5’ were dickheads and stuff.  I couldn’t really stay down after that… though I guess I went from happy to stressed because my dad said I needed to get the train before 11 and I knew I wouldn’t make it out that early.  I wish I’d checked the times myself now!  So, at the end of the first couple of rounds, me and Emma Jones went to collect our trophies.  I knew after seeing her that she would win the whole thing – she did an amazing costume change ‘Work’ poem which was literally 3mins on the dot: perfection.  Her second poem was done in the accent of a lot of the girls I went to school with, as she is a drama teacher in South London (brap brap… do the kids still say that?) where she came up with many witty things in place of GCSE including much of the typical activities for these kinds of girls, such as going to the chicken shops after school (yes, there is a previous photo of me posing with a chicken box… you can take the girl out of…etc).  She did a final poem on winning comically stating that if you see anyone from Clapham, the best thing to do it to ‘slap ’em’ haha!  I did ‘Drama’ for my second poem and thought I did okay, but wished I’d put more thought into which poem I did).

Nothing better than a man between the legs: me and my trophy for Best Loss Poem

Alison Brumfitt won the ‘Lust’ category with her amazing poem about how, despite popular opinion, sex is better than chocolate.  And she did it whilst throwing chocolate bars at the audience, and then dripping melted chocolate down her body.  Oh yes, for this category, you had to wear lingerie/underwear or less!  I was surprised to see Alain English bare all (both literally and metaphorically) in a poem about masturbation, and Keith Jarrett in nothing but a hat and Superman pants.  By the by, he has an Action Man body to match those gorgeous brown eyes.  And I mean that in a totally objective way.  There was also a guy that did a poem in some old Mickey Mouse PJs, and he mentioned something about mental illness, and I think he was referring to anti-psychiatry, which I’ve been interested in since my dissertation (which I will post after I’ve graduated).  However, his poem was about having sex with patients, which reminded me of David Cooper’s idea of ‘bed therapy’ which I believe to be possibly unethical due to the idea of consensus… though he claimed the person who the poem was based on would gain consent, this may not always be reliable in mental health patients.  That said, if I was locked up in an institution and could never have sex, it is likely I’d be driven further into insanity.

Ray Antrobus won the ‘Wig’ category (and taking third place in the final round, beat me by a couple of points) and he told a poem about being the sober guy at a party, as he doesn’t drink.  It made me of Matt and how I encourage him to drink, tsk tsk, bad Carmina.  In the second round he did one about how your voice changes depending on who you’re talking to, which, loyal readers will know, is a subject I have a love/hate relationship with… in the vein of ‘yeah, I am from South London, and yeah, this is a South London accent, I’m just middle class, bitch.’  Carmina: South London, but a bit posh too innit.

It ended a bit before midnight.  After congratulating Emma for winning I legged it to Liverpool Street, got the tube to Oxford Circus (shat myself cos I forgot I couldn’t change at bank as Waterloo & City line wouldn’t be running that late) and then got the tube to Vauxhall, where THANKFULLY I saw the train was coming.  Some guys ahead of me started running, so I joined in and followed them up the wrong platform.  Not only that, but I FELL FLAT ON MY FACE!  I was around the corner so the guys didn’t see, and I managed to stand up by the time they turned around (I overheard it was platform 3) but I had grazed near my elbow and wrist, bruised/cut my finger and chipped a bit of my trophy.  The train was delayed for 2 minutes, so I sat down for a bit and got my breath back.  I had needed some water (and the toilet) for ages and so my throat was as if I’d just done a proper 30min run!  I got the train safe and sound and was back home by 1am.

Things I hate:

  • Living in Worcester Park and not East London.
  • Saying I’ve been doing this poetry bizz for 5 years… can I lie and say a year?

Things I love (just to balance it up):

  • Finally winning a category.
  • My bedroom.