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.

Carmina’s Cantata #17

Another three episodes have been released of Carmina’s Cantata, featuring Caz Smiling, Jemima Foxtrot and Antosh Wojcik. I got to visit Brighton to record with Caz, and we even had a drink afterwards at The Poets Ale and Smokehouse… it had to be done really. I caught up with Jemima in SE London, during her trip back to the UK as she is currently living abroad, and returned to the area of Camden, where Antosh and I first met as part of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective.

Just one more interview to go, I’m currently reading some books about music, making a few notes and collecting my thoughts. I’m really interested in music and emotions, so this is the focus. I’ve just finished a book by Malcolm Budd, and I’m now onto Oliver Sacks. Watch this space for upcoming podcasts – there’s still one more interview to go before a special episode, and then this bonus one where I will share my thoughts on the research I’m currently doing.

Carmina’s Cantata #16

It’s been a few weeks since I posted, so three more episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have been released – featuring Belinda Zhawi aka MA.MOYO, Tongue Fu’s Chris Redmond and the multi-faceted Joshua Idehen. It was great to catch up with Belinda, who I know from BARPo days, in Chris’ episode we are treated to a live ukulele track, and Joshua’s episode is the perfect blend of humour and vulnerability.

I’ll be having my last in-person ukulele lesson today. Perhaps I will continue in future, but for now I’ll make do with what I’ve learnt so far and dedicate the time to practice. I’m finding it hard to get to the G7 chord, and my little finger keeps sticking out, but I’ve found it really helps to play songs I know and love like Hallelujah. Ooh, I’ve also started reading my music books, so I can do a bonus episode at the end about my findings!

Freelance Reflection #66

The past week, I’ve felt like my energy is properly back to pre-Covid standard. I’ve had the energy to go to all my gym classes and have taken on some extra work. I still need to get to bed earlier, but I’m setting my alarms less. I’m trying to remember that I’m in control!

I’ve got some extra work over the summer, which will not only help me live day-to-day, but it should help me save for funding my MA in Art Therapy! I’ve been getting back on the ukulele and had another in-person lesson and have realised what a difference it makes learning songs you know and like and can sing along to! I’ve released another couple of episodes of Carmina’s Cantata as well – Malaika Kegode and Dizraeli, from when I was in Bristol.

This week, my gran sent a translated poem by Anna Akhmatova. I happened to have just picked up a load of my old books from my parents’, and had the book she’d got me at hand. I found the poem, but it was a different translation, and I preferred this one my gran sent.

In other news, I’ve also been starting a few things I’ve been putting off or not got round to for a while. I’m going through notes on my notes app from 2018! It’s very long, but there’s lots of poems. I’d love to be able to get organised and make a nice spreadsheet of poems. Many are unfinished! I’ve also started doing a series of videos on mental health stuff connected with neurodiversity, BPD and being a HSP.

I went out to the park with my laptop and its tent, but it was a bit premature as it clouded over and got a bit chilly, when I had visions of being out there until sunset! Next week, I’ll have 8 hours of online tuition as well a my regular lessons, so I’ll try to make the most of any sun when I can, looking forward to my birthday next weekend!

Carmina’s Cantata #12

Just one more podcast episode to record next month and then I can focus on actually putting it out there! I have another project I’ll update about soon that requires a lot of my time at the moment, and I’m still waiting on some elements of the first episode to come together, so it may be out a little later that I hoped. If I manage by February to put them out every fortnight, that’ll still be enough time until the project ends in August.

Meanwhile, I’m still making time for my little red uke. I’ve been tired, I’ve been happy, I’ve been cold. I spent a lot of time doing ‘Ring of Fire’, which was good for some chord changes, and I’ve even learnt a bit about sharps and flats… I don’t know if my bed is the best place to do it, but that’s clearly where I tend to be!

Carmina’s Cantata #11

I’ve recorded my penultimate podcast episode! Soon all that will need doing is the editing, and then working out Spotify and putting it out there! This has been my favourite part of this project as I’ve got to have some really interesting conversations and also caught up with poet friends that I haven’t seen in a while!

I’ve been dedicating more focussed time to playing the uke, and doing some tricky stuff in terms of both chord transitions and trying to play along to a metronome. On days where I have been able to have balance and do this, I have been feeling much more fulfilled and happier in what has felt like and up-and-down time. And apparently, only now mercury’s in retrograde.

Carmina’s Cantata #9

So, the ukulele has become more of a New Year’s Resolution, but I did my first online lesson in my local area and it went so quickly! It turns out when you focus, time flies! We looked at Jingle Bells, so I’m going to get my boyfriend to have a go with me, taking turns to do the chords and the “melody” (just learnt this term). I hope to do hourly lessons in-person and then keep up 30-minutes a day as part of my more balanced schedule come January!

Meanwhile, I have completed my City Lit Logic Pro course, and have a pretty decent first podcast episode. I also really wanted to steal these pink, orange and green headphones. One of the group knew that I’d like them as another said they looked like they were for kids… I do often find myself being attracted to the bright colours of the kid’s section! So, next year will bring more editing and more strumming!

Carmina’s Cantata #6

I can’t believe it’s now November! So, I’m about half way through recording the whole of the podcast series interviews! I’ve been to Leeds, Sheffield, and Bristol so far, with the last couple being in London (Dalston, and today in Greenwich). Pirate Studios is great as it has a lot of locations and it’s really affordable due to the way it’s staffed, but today I had to switch rooms in attempt to get away from a really noisy band, with sound bleeding through to the whole building!

We ended up in a rehearsal room, so at the end of the interview, I ended up playing on the drums. Sometimes I wish I went to the BRIT school or something as I would have loved to have been able to play more music. The arts are definitely my thing as I just love every art form and wish I could do more. When I retire – if artists every really retire – I hope I’d be able to just learn a bunch or random instruments I never got to!

Alas, I am sticking to the one instrument, which I picked up as it goes well with spoken word and I was told it was easy! As I enjoy learning the ukulele, it can be something I do in the evening when I don’t have time in the day. But then I have found, I’ve been so busy lately that I get tired, so carving out time in the day is the way forward. As is the repetition of the same things, which is a lot more fun when it’s songs that just doing different kinds of notes. I have trouble with focussing at times, so I can definitely dedicate more time if I don’t get distracted whilst doing it!

Carmina’s Cantata #5

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written update as I’ve been busy with the other aspects of the projects. I’m currently writing this in break between podcast recordings in Bristol. I’ve got one more to go, and despite some nerves at meeting certain poets, it’s a pretty cool way to spend the day. I’m looking forward to meeting a couple of other Bristol-based poets for dinner later too. Another poet friend has also recommended a gig, but I may be ready for bed by then!

The other week, I recorded the first two podcast episodes in Leeds and Sheffield, which means I’m almost half way through getting the interviews recorded, which is wild. The final interview is scheduled for February, so the rest are more spread out, but I’m hoping I can do one or two extra episodes as so many more poets spring to mind now, and so I think I will redistribute the funding that was meant to be for another music production course. Meanwhile, I have been doing a little ukulele practising, but would like to dedicate more time to it, valuing repetition more, rather than quickly going through the Fender programme, being on Level 2 already.

My next podcast interview recording is next week, and the first one in London, though this and another are with Berlin-based artists. It’s interesting that a lot aren’t taking place in London, though I wish I had more time to stay and explore… and part of me wished I did have an excuse to go back to Berlin for a weekend of recording! Though I am taking a much-needed holiday soon in sunny Spain.

Freelance Reflections #20

December always seems to be the time where people start to take stock of the year that’s coming to an end. It is also a time that seems to be extremely busy, making sure to meet deadlines and get everything prepared for the holidays, even though these holidays will be very strange. I don’t like to think about it much as it makes me sad, but I also know I have a lot to be grateful for this year.

I haven’t had time to do much reflection at the moment, so will save that for nearer to the close of the year. Meanwhile, the reflection I have been doing is for how fortunate I am for the work I do. I love working with children one-on-one, and I’ve just started working with a new agency for a 4-hour placement each week, giving tuition to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access it. I’ve also started tutoring someone in Spanish, which is great as I am only around B1 level, and they have just started learning.

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Today I finally finished Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I absolutely loved it, and having recently met with my old She Grrrowls co-host Ibizo Lami, who was listening to it on an audiobook for the second time, I really got the sense that it would be a good book to read again with the knowledge of having read it once. One of the things that I thought was so great about the book was that you would read something from one character’s perspective and agree with them, only to hear a counter-point from another character that made you think in a completely different way. It wasn’t so much about wrong and right, but it held multiple truths in coexistence.

I’ve been enjoying re-listening to all my top tracks on Spotify, and I’m slowly making my way through the ‘On Record’ playlist, which is incredible so far. I listened to Phil Taggart’s Slacker Podcast, interviewing Biffy Clyro, and it just really made me smile and laugh. ‘Switched on Pop’ was really interesting on ‘Unlocking the Rhythms of Rosalía’. A Zach Sang interview with Poppy was weird and wonderful, and I appreciated how she spoke about being softly spoken and commented ‘I like my volume’, when it was brought up. There were a couple of podcast episodes from Skullcandy, including one on Tommy Genesis, and so it was great to hear more about her. The podcast ‘Dissect’ came across as quite robotic in its delivery, but the dissection for Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ was really intriguing.

I watched ‘Prince Avalanche’, which was a really moving story of two brother-in-laws painting road lines, which was equal parts hilarious. I want to share more about the things like this that I come across. I feel like I haven’t really achieved the things I wanted to this year, but seeing as we’re in a pandemic, maybe I should give myself a break and appreciate the things I have done. Next year, I would like to focus less on productivity and more on carving out the time for my creative practice as well as my more regular, paid work, and to have more time on Sundays for reading and relaxing and maybe even watching more films.