Firstly, let’s get the slightly embarrassing news out of the way… my poetry workshop had no bookings and got cancelled! It could have been promoted more, as I have been concentrating my efforts on the event (Ram Jam at The Grey horse, on 22nd July) but I spoke to one of the lovely organisers and we thought next year it could either be workshops held in schools (target market) or weekday evenings. Alas, it wasn’t a wasted trip. I dropped more flyers off at the Rose Theatre, I stumbled upon this great band called The Hype Theory playing at Banquet Records – a cool acoustic set with boys on guitars and a cajón, and amazing vocals from lead singer, Katy Jackson. After the no-show, I collected my festival wristband from the IYAF HQ, and had a free meal from Las Iguanas, with a fantastic service from the manager Jason. I felt like a celebrity, enjoying a Reggae Rumba cocktail, with fajitas, and a chocolate-orange fudge cake for dessert. Something I’m also loving is the emergence of ice-cream parlours in Kingston – Creams and Afters. Maybe my Mum was right after all, and I should set up a business with ice-cream and poetry!
My job is going well, and I’ve been accepted for next year! I’m actually really enjoying working with teenagers – who’d’ve thought?! I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Year 9 students with Kayo Chingonyi, and even got to go to the SLAMbassadors finals, which was the best work day ever! We had the leaving ceremony for Year 11 and I’m really going to miss a lot of them. I’m going to turn down an interview for a job in Norwich; it breaks my heart to but it is much lower paid, and I feel that I’ve got too many commitments in London for the moment.
One of these commitments, and another reason why my work can be so amazing and supportive, is my part in the search for London’s Young Poet Laureate, with Spread the Word. I have been allowed the day off to take part – I was really nervous about asking, because when you work in a school, you can only take time off during school holidays. Tomorrow, they will try to narrow down the competition from nineteen to just six! It should be a fun day and I’m really looking forward it, and would love to even get into the final six, and I think I’d only have one more year to try again. Becoming the first Young Poet Laureate would be a dream come true and an opportunity I would grab with both hands. It would definitely be my big break! Wish me luck!
So far on my journey towards publication has encountered one rejection from Bloodaxe, and a couple of requests for full manuscripts after shorter samples. I was surprised by the speedy response from Bloodaxe, but I shall take the underlining about the quality of the work as a message that it is still amazing. I should also have a piece published in the next issue of DreamCatcher magazine with my new twist on Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz, inspired by the image below, by Matthew Dickerson, as well as my love for Dorothy Parker.
In terms of poetry gigs and stuff, I’ve been to the open mic at Come Rhyme with Me. Kayo was performing alongside Peter Hayhoe and Mike Galsworthy. All the poets were fantastic, the food was delicious (£12.50 for food and poetry!) and the atmosphere was so warm and friendly. Even without Deanna there, Dean Atta produced a wonderful show with his infectious smile and delightful charm. I finished the evening of with a Rumble cocktail and spent the rest of that weekend flyering for the She Grrrowls event on 22nd July. I also got the chance to take part in a workshop with Joelle Taylor as part of the Writing Room – things are really coming together now! I’m gutted I can’t make the Sabrina Mahfouz workshop, but sometimes you have to create balance in your life and I miss my friend who’s up in York! I’m guessing, when I turn 26 I’ll have to stop going to the Writing Room, in which case I’ve got 1.5 years to become a success!
Other cool things I’ve done include seeing Laura Marling at the Grand Eagle Hotel as part of the new Secret Music events, and going to the East London Comic and Art Festival. I had fun dressing up in 1920s attire and exploring different rooms, finding Lindt chocolate and spending time with poet Selina Nwulu in a non-poetry setting. I also have discovered a love for indie comic books, especially Marc Ellerby whose Chloe Noonan comics have a great female protagonist, featuring great artwork and words.
Next up, tomorrow I’m going to eat at Bar Kick and stick around for ‘Kid I wrote back’ which seems like a cool event! I also need to update my events section – oopsie daisy!
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 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.
May is upon us, and not only is it my birthday on the 14th of the month, but I’m the poet in residence at Bang Said the Gun! I’m super excited and plan to do two halves of my epic poem ‘Circles’ and two poem-poem-poem sets. Standard. Make requests as you wish (haha). Don’t forget that the deadline for submissions to the next edition of Poetry&Paint is at the end of the month.
I want to get to more open mic events. So, I figure if I write it here, then I will actually do it. Check out the events page for more future features, which I’m sure to mention frequently at the lead up.
Monday 3rd June – More Poetry (open mic)
Tuesday 10th June – S.W.A.M&P (feature)
Tuesday 18th June –Poetry Cafe (open mic)
Wednesday 26th June – Jawdance (open mic)
Saturday 6th July – IYAF Workshop – Studio 22, Kingston, 6pm – £5/10 (hosting)
Monday 8th July – Kid, I wrote back (open mic)
Monday 22nd July – IYAF Event – Ram Jam/Grey Horse, Kingston – £5 (hosting)
[trigger warning: sexual abuse]
I’ve called this post rainbows because of the mix of sunshine and rain both literally and metaphorically. I’ve just come back from Latitude and have so much to get on with I don’t know where to start, so I thought I’d begin here. Here’s a summary of what went down, in the form of a list:
Things I saw:
lots of random comedians eg. Chortle Student Awards
Lianne Le Havas
cabaret dance routine
Bat For Lashes
Nick Helm & the Helmettes
London Community Gospel Choir
a few random things I can’t remember
[actually all the above were amazing too but either I’ve seen them before or not seen enough or want to see again to see properly at their own gig]
Tiny Dragons (hey, new fave band)
Don’t Flop (poets ftw!)
Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients
Katie Bonna & Richard Marsh
Sad to have missed:
Lana Del Rey
More I-Arena bands (such a trek there)
First Aid Kit
Sam Riviere, Hanna Silva, Gemma Seltzer & lots of poets I should have seen
John Peel’s Shed
John Cooper Clarke – too packed out 😦
a play about the Diggers
Sbtrkt & Zola Jesus (major clashes)
If you want to find out about it in more detail, you can read up on my article at the UEA Concrete website. In the article, I don’t mention that just before Latitude Rosy Carrick officially confirmed her performance at the event I’m organising. She’ll be representing the inspirational professional poet for the evening and I’m really excited to have her on board. I also had responses from a couple of other poets, so in order to thank them, here’s a little linkage to their websites: Hannah Silva and Sophia Blackwell. Hannah Silva is based in Devon at the moment therefore the gig payment would barely cover her costs (free travel for poets and musicians anyone?) When I got Sophia Blackwell’s email I had already accepted Rosy Carrick, but was tempted to put them both on… before I remembered I’m making quite a big loss on the event as it is. They’re all amazing poets anyway and I urge you to check them out.
Prior to Latitude I had a headline slot at the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston, at The Cricketers pub. I had taken on some of the promotion and think I blew things out of proportion in terms of how successful they would be. Let’s remember, marketing is a full time job! I felt I did the best I could and spent a lot of time and money flyering, as well as getting it advertised on various online avenures. However, it’s made me rather shaky about the event I’m doing in August because there was a complete lack of audience. I don’t even know if one person came that wasn’t either one of the poets, came with the poets or was a member of the IYAF staff. I brought about 7 people along myself but I’m unsure anyone paid to get in. Although a few of the acts had actually pulled out last minute, the guy that filled in as host did such a rushed job of it that it came across quite disrespectful, even asking if we really wanted an interval and giving the impression he couldn’t wait to leave. I was bitterly disappointed with the turn out but everyone still gave a good show. I feel I have to take some responsibility for the lack of audience, but don’t know how I come improve on this for next time. Other reasons that were suggested were the location of the pub being residential, rather than in the centre of Kingston, and just the bad luck that was the rainy weather.
Another eventful occurrence before Latitude involved self-proclaimed Strident Feminist, Caitlin Moran and a little social media website called Twitter. For those who don’t know, Moran is the author of the book How to be a Woman, which I have reviewed here previously (although disagreeing upon some issues, I was extremely enthusiastic and fanatic about the book). Anyway, I had been linked the following convo via Facebook:
quantick: Just mistook a woman walking slowly down the platform for a train. caitlinmoran: @quantick this is the worse rape alibi ever quantick: @caitlinmoran I had a platform ticket I and a lot of people (mostly in the UEA
Feminist Society) were confused about this dialogue from the onset. Admittedly, I then received a lot of mixed views about the intentions here. On one big hand there is the simple fact that the initial comment had nothing to do with rape at all. This begs the question, why would a comedian (and a Feminist comedian at that) make it about rape? With the continuation of the joke, it makes an obvious comment on the excuses some rapists can make, along the lines of a woman “asking for it” because she’s perhaps allowed things to go as far as kissing or foreplay. Still, I was confused about the intention of the initiation of this dialogue, and thought it was problematic that someone hailed as a modern Feminist icon in Britain should be making light of rape whatever the intention. Someone from the UEA FemSoc group stated that “Jokes about rape culture – any oppressive system – can be used to mock and destabilise rape culture. Jokes at the expense of victims undermine VICTIMS” and this struck a chord with me – if that was Moran’s intention. I also saw this Twitter convo:
caitlinmoran: SohoGuy: @melissa1992 @caitlinmoran It’s not a joke about rape itself. If anything, it’s a joke about the absurdity of excuses of men who are rapists …. @SohoGuy Bless you for being bright xx
Okay, I can admit that I have come round to thinking that Moran’s intention was to mock and destabilise rape culture, however, what I am unhappy about is how the lady herself dealt with the whole situation. She immediately blocked anyone (including me) who called her out on the joke on Twitter. The only comments I saw were things like “I’m going to have to sit on this chair for a while, and feel sad. about the world.” They came across as really sarcastic and like she didn’t really give two shits. All I wanted (along with a lot of her fans) was for her to explain her intentions and defend her actions. Although I’m still not sure that making a joke about rape whatever the intention is the best thing to do for someone that many girls now see as an authority figure on Feminism, but I am willing to debate it as I can definitely see how it can help dismantle rape culture. However, the way Moran dealt with it was rude and immature, and just really disappointing for a lot of fans, who were willing to listen to what she had to say and would have liked her to use the opportunity to open a discussion on the subject. At the moment this is a crucial issue since the release of this statement about Daniel Tosh. It would have been great to get Moran’s opinion on rape jokes in the comedy scene. For the record, this is what I wrote on Twitter that got me blocked:
I also sent Moran this message on Facebook but have had no response:
Hi, Sorry to message you like this but I’m really disappointed about how you handled the reaction to the rape joke on twitter. A lot of us at UEA in the FemSoc really loved your book and just wanted an explanation/apology. As someone who has spoken out against rape jokes a lot of us were just confused about the whole thing. You have just blocked me rather than done this which just makes things worse. I understand you may not want the incident to reflect badly on you, but by ignoring the debate rather than engaging it’s not helping. I don’t think anything I said was offensive but I’m sorry if you took anything personally. I was confused and disappointed because you are someone that has made a lot of girls/women be like “yeah, I am a feminist”. So as someone who the public kind of take as an authority figure on the subject I just think a certain amount of responsibility should be taken with that. Given your posts about UniLad, this kind of thing just says to guys ‘hey, if she’s saying it’s okay then you must just have no sense of humour’. Please, don’t go down the Germaine Greer route. Note paragraph 5:http://www.squeamishbikini.com/2/post/2011/11/caitlin-moran-is-on-the-shelf.html. Also, we have 2 mutual friends so I hope you can take that to mean that I am cool and just wanting the best outcome. Thank you, Carmina x
Well, that’s quite enough of all that. Today I had a job interview at a school in Bethnal Green – how cool would it be to work around there? Very cool. I thought it went quite well but that I wasn’t as experienced or deserving of the job as others so didn’t expect to get it. I got a few phone-calls whilst on the tube on my way back from picking up my coursework and giving flyers to the Free Word Centre. I haven’t got the job just yet, but I’ve been asked to attend a session where I’ll be observed with a group of students. Scary stuff! Then I’m off to Margate for my Gran’s 70th birthday. Hopefully I’ll have time to make some meringues. I’ll be posting this a little after writing it as I’m waiting for my Latitude article to go up!
Edit: I’ve now found out I got the job! As of September I’ll be working as an English Mentor! Just need to sign the contract and hand in my notice to Sainsbury’s.
Towards the end of May I did a spoken word set at headCRASH Cabaret and tried out some new material. Some of this is currently being edited and any feedback would be greatly appreciated as I am working towards a first collection.
In other news, there’s going to be a change of features for my event Carmina’s Poetry Tease as sadly Hannah Jane Walker has been forced to pull out. I’m currently emailing madly to try to find a suitable replacement. There’s so many people I would love to perform at the event but I’m also wanting to keep in mind the kind of event this is and the ethos of it. I’ve emailed a couple of people that are so famous it’s unlikely I’ll get them but it’s worth a shot. There are so many amazing poets but I don’t want to barrage everyone with messages just yet so I am nervously awaiting a handful of responses to see if anyone is able to do it yet! I really want to sort it out – ideally before Latitude as it would be a great time to try to talk to people about it, and potentially discuss it further with the poet that accepts the offer!
If any poets out there think they may be able to step in and think they are aligned with the ethos of the event, I’m looking for… ideally female poets, poets that bridge the gap between the page and the stage, poets that exist as established names in the scene, poets willing to share old material with some newer poems, and poets that value the arts. Just contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday 10th July (this coming Tuesday!) I will be headlining at Words, Words, Words as part of Kingston’s International Youth Arts Festival. I still have some free guest-list tickets if anyone would like to contact me about them. Otherwise, it’s only £5 and there’s an array of talented people joining the line-up – all under 25 years of age!