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.

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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.

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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!!!

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& 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.

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Overall

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…

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Dysfunctional

Having returned from a much-needed break in Corrèze, France, visiting my Gran, I have now found the time to write a about my latest poetic adventure (though not the time to go through emails just yet). Over the last few months I’ve been taking part in a series of workshops with different mentors, through The Writing Room with Apples & Snakes. This culminated in a group performance on 13th August.

The Writing Room Showcase sort of felt like the coming together of a dysfunctional family, including some family members you never knew existed. Some pieces were created through workshops with the mentors, some throughout the last few months leading up to the show, and some just days before the event, but through the process we learnt a lot and came together as a group – the room filled with support for those that take on the risky path of the art world…

Ben Jacobs – for the ups and downs of the process, sharing in the strangeness of not making the cut for Young Poet Laureate for London, and the hope for the future.
Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson – for her words of wisdom and loosening us up for the performance, making me laugh and taking me out of myself when all I could think of was trying to remember my poetry. Reminding us that we need to “own” our words.
Kes Gill-Martin – for a piece that spoke volumes about what we’re all trying to do, which I need as my mantra when I’m struggling with the ideas of ever having kids and a mortgage.
Rachel Long – for writing so many beautiful and varied poems I want to hear them all again, including a really witty piece about the Megabus that I could really identify with. For her warm smile and hugs.
Sarah Ball -for the way her voice and beautiful words resounded through my mind throughout the weeks we were preparing our poems for the showcase.
Temi Lateef – for letting his guard down and speaking of love and its complexities in a way we all know, standing out for what he believes to be good and true.
Ruban Nathan – for expanding our horizons, telling untold stories from his travels, and for making me feel better for my splurge in Beyond Retro after seeing his bag at Roger’s session.
Lucy Jackson – for writing and performing a great piece, and then acknowledging that a writer’s work is never done – the struggle and enjoyment are one. And for, like me, eating a proper dinner from Thai and Lao at Boxpark (yum!)
Kareem Parkins-Brown – for his amazing imagery and figurative language, making my jaw-drop from the first session we were together in, with Joelle Taylor.

Daisy Dockrill – for doing her job so incredibly well and for her never-ending positive energy!

Sabrina Mahfouz – for getting the crowd going with an amazing poem and inspiring us that if we get out there, we can be a success.

Roger Robinson – for the workshop that shook me up and meant that I memorised my pieces, and for coming along and supporting the show, making me feel good about my writing.

Joelle Taylor, Mark Grist and Mixy – for some wonderful mentoring sessions that have produced pieces I’ve wanted to write but haven’t, and for all the mentors involved for showing us the importance of editing and re-working – Ben and I hope to record a version of our joint piece in the future, when we’ve got it to a place we’re both happy with.

Mary Akinsulire – for sending me a kind message when I really needed it, because despite all this positivity, sometimes you can just feel down.

Our theme began with my idea for the unspoken stories of the many people on public transport, and it became a tale of our personal journeys, with a connection between us encapsulated by five lines I ended with:

During the delay I derailed myself,
escaped onto the tracks.
My emergency was a red light;
the signal failure told me to run,
reminded me of fields and trees and dreams.

My offering for the showcase can be read below:

You know me as the wallflower

Pressed up against glass,
bodies and newspapers.
Glass without transparency,
bodies without intimacy,
newspapers with blurred words.

I peer over your shoulder
like a warm breath,
trying to work out
who you are,
where you’re going.

You know me as the wallflower,
but, I don’t smile for you. Sometimes,
you may witness a sorrow you cannot place.
You want to ask if I’m okay,
as you wonder why my eyes well, my body swells
with a habit I just can’t shake,
as damaging as an earthquake,
but soft as a petal,

you know me as the strange one, quiet one,
the one who you can’t quite put your finger on,
you linger on me just for a second, move on
like a passing thought, a panic
– did you leave the iron on?

Mostly, I blend like a colour palette,
but my shoulders are a little too bent forward,
my cheeks flushed, I sometimes sweat,
eyes glance down but speak when met.
I am unknown, and that’s as good as it gets

stuffed up inside here like sausage meat.
Tired eyes are made up with mascara,
hidden with sunglasses.
Heads bend down,
eyes closed, just resting,
or fixed on a game of Tetris,
or not even there, but stretching
out of the window,
out of at patch of sky
through a slit of space.

I create characters out of your tattoos,
your scuffed shoes, your bead of sweat,
your lazy eye, your pink silk tie.
Imagine people I haven’t met
out of your plum-red lips,
your bitten-bleeding fingertips,
your eye-brow piercing,
piercing blue eyes, piercing voice
carried through phone lines,
train lines, blood lines

and much as we crane our necks,
we wouldn’t see a helicopter crash, so close,
shrapnel flying like a wedding bouquet,
the carriages rolling like a divorce,
eventually leaving Vauxhall for Waterloo,
where the beat of footsteps
cries out for the river,
but is carried underground instead.

Blooming June

First for some exciting news that I’ve been bursting to post about… I’m performing and giving a workshop at Larmer Tree Festival! I’m pleased to be just one of former MACE students (that’s the MA in Creative Entrepreneurship dontchaknow) as Andi Michael will also be there talking about her new book, Wine Dark, Sea Blue, which I am itching to read after/during my Proust mission.

I’m also happy to be involved with Kingston’s International Youth Arts Festival. This time, I’m giving a workshop ‘From Page to Stage’ on the theme of Loss, at Studio 22 on Saturday 6th July. The hour-long workshop is just £10 – with a half price option for students/JSA/OAP. Members of the group will also get the opportunity to perform their work with some food at Las Iguanas. I’m also managing the spoken word event this year, which will be an off-shoot from the She Grrrowls Feminist group, featuring a lineup of female talent, and an open mic’ section for everyone! Entry for the event is just £5 and it will take place at the Ram Jam Club at The Grey Horse pub on 22nd July from 6pm.

she grrrowls flyer juneShe Grrrowls Spoken Word will feature Tabby Farrar, Nikki Marrone, A.L.Michael, Bisha Ali and Robyn-Astrid. There will be poetry, prose, comedy and music a it’s going to be amazing! Book your tickets now either online or by phone: 020 8549 2120. The She Grrrowls team are currently looking for venues and artists for future events, so please come along to support female talent in the arts and make this first night increible for everyone! All ticket sales will be divided by IYAF, the producers and directly paying the artists performing for you.

For those that missed out, I did a set at the new arts night S.W.A.M&P – a night featuring spoken word, acoustic music and poetry (geddit?) I had the pleasure of getting to see some amazing performers intimately, had the chance to chat to them as well and some clever lady shared a bottle of wine with us. Taking us from darkness towards the light of the stars was poet Paloma Heindorff, and there was some beautiful music from Tonia Thorne and friends. Closing the night was Chalie Dupre who gave us a solo rap battle history lesson about Shakespeare and Marlowe, plus a retelling of Macbeth through the three witches.

I’m also taking part in Apples & Snakes’ Writing Room, where I’m workshopping a piece in a pair and performing it after being put through my paces by a series of mentors. The piece came out of my first session with Dead Poets: Mark Grist and Mixy. I’m thrilled I can make the dates it will run for and excited to be able to work on the piece I’ve developed with Ben all those weeks ago. I also got to sit in and help out at workshops with Kayo Chingonyi at the school where I work, which was a pretty cool perk! The last thing I need to mention is that my poem ‘Ladybird’ is in ‘Words for Wide Skies’ which is being launched on 21st June. All profits will go towards the conservation work at WWT Welney.

To wrap things up, here are some events I’m hoping to get down to over the next couple of months:

Friday 28th June – Come Rhyme with Me

Friday 5th July – The Tea Box, Poetry Jam

Monday 8th July – Kid, I wrote back

Tuesday 16th July – Poetry Unplugged

Oh, and one more thing. The second issue of Poetry&Paint is out now! You can buy your copy of the ‘weather’ issue as ahardcopy or in PDF format. It is recommended to buy the full-colour version, but for those wanting to save some pennies, you can now buy Poetry&Paint in black and white. All copies of Poetry&Paint are available through the Lulu website.

Dead Poets and HEADcrash

Dead Poets were at Word of Mouth on Monday.  I’d never heard them before and they were great, such a good show! It over-ran by half an hour and I didn’t even notice the time.  So, the After Hours open mic didn’t happen til near to 11pm I think, and I didn’t read until around an hour or so later.  I didn’t know I was going until I saw that it was on about five mins before I had to leave so I grab three poems.  I regretted the poems I picked but still it went okay, and Mixy from Dead Poets said he liked it so can’t complain!

A couple of days later I did a gig at HEADcrash at The Birdcage.  I noticed me and my housemate’s face were on flyers for the DJing we’re doing next week which was pretty funny/cool.  I was on just before Tim Clare, so was the penultimate act.  I felt okay as I had a lot of familiar faces and I know the venue well and I enjoyed my performance.

As I’ve seen most of the acts before I thought I’d just mention a couple of names.  Bethan Williams was my favourite poet of the night; I thought her set was very well thought-out and whatever she says, she is pretty and intelligent!  Dan McKee was really funny as well, though he did comedy rather than poetry, it’s always nice to have a laugh.  Tim Clare obviously did a great set… a massive contrast to my own, and he did the one about crazzzzyyyy yeah! Errrm…

Another performer, Andy Bennett came up and gave me some advice, in a really nice way.  I’ll have to take it on board because it was actually the second time I’d got both pieces of advice in a fortnight!  He said that I knew my poems too well to use the paper security blanket, and to speak slower at times.  At The Tea Box gig, Vanessa said I should do my poems by heart, and Anna said she wished she could hear Roots slowed down, so yes, I will take these things on board, they’re kind of things I want to progress too, I guess it’s just more clear now that it’s actually possible.  However, I will probably read some new stuff on next Monday’s open mic so that’s my excuse!

xxx