Freelance Reflections #2

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Another couple of weeks have passed, so I thought I’d write a bit about what I’ve been up to during this time. I’ve not been earning much the last few weeks for a number of reasons. Time has been taken up with family celebrations for both Easter and a cousin’s hen party. Secondly, the majority of my time has been taken up with planning workshops that won’t even nearly cover my costs in terms of the amount of research and planning that I’m doing. I’m also planning a book tour for She Grrrowls, which I will be attempting to get funding for so that it can go ahead.

I attended the Out-Spoken Press Prize and I really enjoyed all the incredible poetry there and avidly Tweeted about it. I was feeling pretty shy and anxious that night, but I said hello and/or well done to around five people, so I didn’t feel so bad. I’d been long-listed for the performance category, but I didn’t make the shortlist, so felt it was important for me to attend, resisting the urge to hibernate. She Grrrowls was a couple of days later and the turn out was much better than the last two (though still not enough to cover my costs) – it was a really lovely evening as always and I enjoyed it as much as a headless chicken can enjoy such a night.

So, this week I’ve been trying to work as much as possible, but I did manage to schedule a day with my friend and artist Natalie Cooper (she did the illustrations inside the She Grrrowls anthology). She introduced me to Salsa 98.1 (I like to listen to Spanish/Latin music when content writing), cooked me a Cuban-inspired dish with kidney beans, and provided me with tea. I wrote some of my spoken word show It’s Always the Quiet Ones without getting too distracted by the music, so felt really pleased with my production levels!

On Saturday I facilitated the first workshop as part of The Femme Canon monthly series with Spread the Word at The Albany. I really enjoyed it and the participants were not only insightful in their readings of the work we covered, their reading voices were delightful, and their poetry was incredibly powerful. I’m looking forward to the next one and although I have all my own materials at the ready, I have asked participants to send me a poem of their choice to make the workshops a little bit more collaborative. With that in mind, if you’re reading this, please feel free to comment with your own favourite writers who are women or non-binary.

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I’m really excited about my Saturdays, even though I’m working a lot of them! On 28th April I’m running a one-off workshop with The Poetry School aimed at writers wanting to develop work for the page who regularly perform their work. I’ve also got a few sessions where I’m covering someone as part of the tutoring agency I work at delivering creative writing workshops to kids. These sessions, along with the rest of The Femme Canon workshops – there’s one ticket left and at £30 for all sessions, it’s still a bargain for six hours of workshop time! The reason why I’ve been aiming to work Monday-Wednesdays with regular work is partly to be able to do one-off workshops across the rest of the week (as well as to try to give myself time to write!)

As for today, I’ve done a bit of admin, as well as person writing, NaPoWriMo writing, and a bit of writing for my show. I’m going to do a bit more admin, as well as revise my maths a bit to brush up whilst doing 11+ tuition. I’m actually enjoying the focus these exercises give my mind. Yesterday afternoon I met up with a friend called Ella Daniels (also a writer, I’m incredible excited for what she has planned!). We spoke about making time for doing the things we love, so I’m planning to get into better reading habits by slightly changing how I schedule my time.

 

Lastly, next week, Joel Auterson – fellow Kid Glove member and Roundhouse alumni – is having a book launch. I’ve already read his book Unremember from Bad Betty Press and it’s pretty special. There’s a great list of poets supporting on the night, including another Kid Glover, Antosh Wojcik, She Grrrowls poet Aisling Fahey, and another fave Laurie Ogden. Also, Poet in the City have a series of events at Wilton’s Music Hall on Women Poets Who Changed 1968, looking at some of the poets who we cover in The Femme Canon – Maya Angelou and Adrienne Rich.

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Circus Fest

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My poem ‘Monkey Bars’ is currently being displayed at the Roundhouse, along with poetry from some of the other members of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. They will be displayed throughout April as part of Circus Fest. I took these pictures whilst going to see ‘She Would Walk the SKy’, which finishes tomorrow. I was amazed by all the tricks they could do – my favourite was probably the ones where performers let themselves fall after entangling themselves in rope, but there were so many amazing parts, it’s hard to say. There was so much skill and strength in each act.

My piece was inspired by the festival, as well as my own experience pole dancing at university, where I won 1st place in a double routine (see above video). To me, the few skills I learnt during my time at pole dancing lessons was similar to circus skills. The poem was meant to be extended to any circus act, but I was thinking of a move in pole dancing where you push against the floor and hook your leg around into an inversion. I remembered how thrilling it felt to let go of the fear of going up-side-down, because that’s what it felt like – letting go of any fear or inhibitions. A lot of people talk about pole dancing being empowering and people tend to think it’s connected to sexuality, but for me it wasn’t to do with sexuality at all. I wanted to capture what pole dancing meant to me, in a way that also connected with different circus acts.

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I have recently been to Portugal on a writing residency called ‘First Impressions’ where I got a heavily discounted rate to stay at the apartments to write. In turn, I wrote a short story based on the name of the residency, which I still need to edit. I met up with a fellow UEA student, Silvia Rose, who was also staying there, and I was so thankful to have her there – not only because I was nervous to be in a non-English speaking country alone, but we had some fun times together too. We had a day at the beach and were able to take frequent ferries trips to Lisbon too.

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Find out more about my time at the Poetry Potting Shed with Michael Rosen and Niall O’Sullivan, with my blog posts – this is day one. Look out for my upcoming performances on my events page. The first is on Friday 25th April and it is a project working with Anchor House and You Press, where artists have been paired together with homeless residents from the centre in Canning Town, and we have created pieces about each person’s story. Mine is around 8-9 minutes long, and the night features lots of great performers, so I’m really excited to see everyone else. The next event also connects with social change, as Spoken Word London are working together with ‘Survival Guides’, putting on the opening night on Thursday 1st May. There are some great poets that will be down for that, plus there’s an open mic’ section. Fellow Roundhouse Poet, Chris Lawrence is also performing that night, and some of the other members of the group are taking part in NaPoWriMo this month. I’m cheating with pseudo-haikus and pictures, but I recommend the other poets’ work. Lastly, I also had a poem published alongside Matthew Dickerson’s illustration here, in the ‘Blackout’ anthology from Keats House Poets.

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