After hours and hours, days upon days of editing transcripts and wondering why I decided to do transcripts for the podcast, I have finally released the first episode using the platform Anchor, so it is now available on Spotify! For some reason, the link to the transcript isn’t a link, and I’ve tried to fix that, but maybe it takes time to update. It’s also in the process of being added to other listening platforms.
The first episode features Kayo Chingonyi, who I interviewed first back in October 2021 in Leeds, when I was also able to catch-up with the wonderful Sarah Perry. I felt like Kayo really articulated a relationship between poetry and music in a way that really resonated with me. I’ve been a bit delayed with putting it out, with the She Grrrowls festival and Covid (which I’m currently having a kind of relapse from), so I’m planning to release an episode a week every Friday.
I haven’t written an update on Carmina’s Cantata in a while, and as I’m back to it after a bit of a break, I thought I’d write a little on what I’m doing, as well as some more general stuff. So, after the festival, I didn’t listen to my body. I had an amazing massage should have gone home to rest, but I went to the Taking Back Sunday, Alkaline Trio and Destroy Boys gig… which I’m pretty sure if where I then got Covid! Made worse by going to see Funeral For A Friend the following week! I’d gone so long without it, I even thought maybe I’d had it but been asymptomatic. It was rough. It’s the second-worst illness I’ve had (the other being a kind of relative of Glandular Fever). I’m still struggling with the fatigue and my lungs don’t feel 100% when exercising. At one point I even got mixed messages about going to A&E, but I waited until Monday to see a doctor and it turned out that I just rushed into exercise. I’m feeling super tired right now and hoping I’m getting the balance right, as it’s something I struggle with.
I’d had to cancel my poetry gigs at SHEreos of Lewisham and R.A.P. Party, but I was at least able to watch The Albany stream, where an audio of my poem I’d recorded in the day was played, and a couple of people told me that my poem was one of their favourites. It was a joy to see people dancing to my chosen tracks as well. I was able to see the SHEReos of Lewisham exhibition with my poem in it the following weekend at Crofton Park Community Library. I have also been accepted onto the MA in Art Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths. As I’m not eligible for a government loan and getting a loan to cover the full tuition is proving to be impossible, I’m trying to crowd fund as much as possible. Read about and share my journey here.
As I was trying to work out what I could do whilst still resting… I did some drawings inspired by the themes of Grayson Perry’s Art Club. I just felt weirdly guilty for watching and listening to things… though I wish I knew you could get audiobooks from the library on your phone then! It’s just so hard to manage fatigue. So, this week, I have started to work on the podcast interviews. I have finished editing the one I used for the production course I did, and after a panic that I have forgotten everything, I now know what I’m doing again.
I interviewed poet and theatre maker Hannah Jane Walker about her book on sensitivity… and just had to cut it down from over 13,000 words to nearly 5,000 words! I may have to cut it down even more, but it is taking a lot longer than anticipated. Although off-putting in some ways, I have made a note on my to-do list to use the same platform (Otterly) to write transcripts. It won’t take quite as long as I won’t have to edit it down to an article length thankfully!
It’s Christmas eve, and I’m just waiting to be picked up to see family over the next few days. My partner is away, which can be difficult for me at times, so I’m trying to focus on the positives… which is thankfully not my last lateral flow test. I want to hold on to that gratitude, treasure the time with my family, and the time with myself.
I volunteered to steward at a local pharmacy in Lewisham to help the flow of people getting their vaccines. It was immensely rewarding, time went really quickly, and I recommend it to anyone who is able. I did the work I needed to do, and had the afternoon spare. I have been feeling a bit nauseated and tired, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to do a PCR to confirm the negative lateral flow. I really feel for people who are alone right now.
Last night, I cooked a roast for me and my flatmate, and spent the evening watching a Christmas film and wrapping presents… which took about double the time of the film. My therapist was kind enough to see me this morning, and I had a head massage, and I think I may even leave my laptop behind… I’ll be back working after a long journey home on 29th, so I want to make the most of this time and dedicated it to play and rest!
One thing I am learning to accept more is that as a creative freelancer, there is always more work to be done, and it’s really important to continually work on balance, which I know I keep banging on about. Whilst things just won’t be as balanced as I want them to be this side of the New Year, I am making sure I have at least some down time and make time for friends and family. I’ve been better at managing my priorities, even though it means my language-learning is taking a backseat, so that I can just keep moving forward with the tasks that need completing before the holidays. Included in this is making time for self-care, which this week involved me reading whilst getting my roots done. I very much enjoyed the scalp massage during the shampooing, which made my hair look super shiny too.
I had to cancel and postpone some work the other week and took a Covid test (even though I knew it was just a cold and didn’t have the main symptoms). I was just exhausted and needed a day to rest… and by “rest” I just mean “work from home and not go outside”, (reminder: freelancers don’t get sick pay or holiday pay). It was a cold and rainy day, so I think it was a wise move! I’m still trying o be more self-aware and kinder to myself in that way (a nickname has been “rapido”), even just walking less fast to my students. A lot of the work I’m doing at the moment isn’t directly related to any money now, but it needs to be done. But I need to remember when trying to save by transferring money away from my current account, that my rent does need to be paid for and makes a dent in that. Here’s hoping I get that funding for the She Grrrowls festival I’m planning!
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.
The start of the year will begin with the Living Record Festival, where I’ll be sharing ‘Circles’, as previously mentioned. I’ve been challenged as things have not gone as expected. My binaural experiment failed as it appeared the microphone was broken after spending an hour and a half setting it up, with lots of phone calls for support. I’d realised when I collected it that I could only test it out in the studio, and everything went perfectly in terms of set up, but it was just sod’s law that it didn’t work.
However, this has all been put into perspective and I’ve given myself more time to rest than ever. Yesterday, my maternal grandad died. It is still so raw and the shock is intense as he was in hospital only a week. As many others have experienced this year, it is the worst time to lose someone, as my parents and my nan are having to self-isolate after having seen him. But I am grateful they at least had that. He turned 80 just as we went into lockdown, and although we never got the celebration, we managed to see him in August.
I had 25th – 27th off to rest and relax, and likewise, I have given myself most of the time from the evening of New Year’s Eve until now to do the same, and just taking things slowly. Tomorrow is ‘Blue Monday’, but work may end up being a welcome distraction at the moment. Perhaps grief will allow me to work more in the way I want to, rather than with the stress and pressure I have been putting on myself on the lead up to and between these holiday breaks.
Anyway, I remember hearing Elliot’s first poem about “stealthing”, and it stood out and it was very rich in language, and I immediately wanted to hear it again. I felt like Ruth’s second poem was really joyous, and that is always refreshing to hear. Whilst Amani packed a punch with both poems, her second poem was really bold, a poem that seemed to be partly about white fragility, its ending open to interpretation, but perhaps there to provoke you into thinking about what the difference is between the list of insults given to white people to those of other races, as well as to feel the weight of hate speech, and what it actually means.
The thing about the Roundhouse Slam is that it has heats to go through, so everyone involved is a high-calibre poet. I remember being so upset at my final chance of being in the slam and I didn’t even make the heats. Roundhouse lovely, comedian and (ex)-spoken word artist (once a poet, always a poet…), Jack Rooke really cheered me up about it. I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to win if I couldn’t even get through the heats, was it? I did meet some amazing poets who I’m still in touch with today, such as Malaika Kegode and Ciarán Hodgers, who are doing great things in poetry still.
Meanwhile, this week has been hectic, and filled with admin and emotional upheaval after thinking I would have to self-isolate from the start of the week, to being told my contact’s positive Covid test was void.