Freelance Reflections #90

Living amongst boxes and furniture everywhere is making things difficult at the moment. On paper, I thought I could cope, but in reality, passing the month-mark soon, it does put a strain on your mental health, not to mention struggling with issues to do with being neurodivergent, where it’s coming to light that I find certain social conventions difficult to understand, and particular situations overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. Still, we move. All I can do is try to offer what I feel I can to those in my life, and try to be more present, knowing that this too shall pass. I’ve been using films a lot to escape, using my Everyman membership, attending free film previews, and the CPIFF (Crystal Palace International Film Festival).

A fellow Art Therapist Trainee has organised the above exhibition, so I thought I would share the private view information. With a slight change of running, we will have Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson and Marianella Lopez both sharing new work at She Grrrowls at Catford Mews on Thursday 16th March, plus the short film screening. Buy tickets to the Catford Mews She Grrrowls here. To sign up for the open mic (there’s just two spots left), email with your name, pronouns, and short bio / sentence to introduce you with. In other news, I’ve been long/short listed for a couple of competitions, so I’m excited about the potential of that!

Again, if you’re able to share or donate to my crowdfund as I train to become an Art Psychotherapist, or buy some books, please do!

Freelance Reflections #89

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve written a reflection, which indicates how busy it has been! However, it feels like I’m losing students I’ve only just gained, and I’m mindful of having to take on extra work to account for the unexpected loss of income. I didn’t get an interview for a casual role I thought I would get and I’m awaiting feedback. In other news, I have now had my training and I’m officially holding Lego Parties as part of the Dynamic Play team!

Last night was the first in-person meeting of the Poetry Society Forest Hill Stanza group. We had an open mic of around twelve poets, including both members and non-members. Taking place in the hidden gem of Mozart London, a cafe-bar in between Anerley and Crystal Palace, we had a full house! Hopefully we will be able to make a monthly event of it. Coming up next is the first She Grrrowls event at Catford Mews on Thursday 16th March at 8pm, and I’m pleased to be showcasing Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson with film and poetry from Marianella Lopez and Mad Pirvan.

Again, if you’re able to share or donate to my crowdfund as I train to become an Art Psychotherapist, or buy some books, please do!

Freelance Reflections #88

Last weekend I got to see the Tate Modern’s Yayoi Kusama exhibition. Although the exhibition itself was a smaller scale than I imagined, consisting of only two rooms, I was gifted the experience for Christmas and it was combined with a lunch. The food of her namesake was Japanese-inspired and it all felt so special. Amongst the chaos of everyday life, I felt I could be present.

With the news of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, it’s been a personally challenging week, with my partner being Turkish. The destruction is unimaginable and the death toll is currently over 22,765 across both countries. It has been a massive shock to process, yet with gratitude that his immediate family were not more so impacted.

Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos

Yayoi Kusama

Work this week has been disjointed; lots of cancellations for various reasons, tuition taking place in an exclusion centre rather than school, days moved, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of students in need of alternative education placements.

After a young girl told me in an emotional and dramatic state that she would never draw flowers again, it seemed poignant that she incorporated them into her work as we made a colour-coded key to label different parts of speech in a sentence. Education is hugely important to me, but a lot of the time I feel more drawn to working with children in a therapeutic way, because otherwise there are so many barriers that many face in their learning.

In other news, I’ve got two events in March – the Forest Hill Poetry Stanza at Mozart London in Anerley on Friday 3rd March, and She Grrrrowls is back for International Women’s Day with a spoken word event at Catford Mews on Thursday 16th March. Watch this space for news on acts and tickets! The Stanza open mic is available to book for free on Eventbrite.

Lastly, if you’re able to share or donate to my crowdfund as I train to become an Art Psychotherapist, or buy some books, please do!

Freelance Reflections #86

This week has been full on, with more work on, as well as preparing for debates at university. I’ve honestly put too much work into the debate preparation, and it’s been hard to focus my argument on one particular area. It’s all be really interesting though! But I still need to do the reading for the week ahead. I’ve planned loads of notes and quotes, created a PPT that can be viewed with a QR code, and made both physical and digital art.

I found out that I didn’t get the artist role at SPINE festival with Apples & Snakes. There really needs to be more transparency in the arts, which is why I will have no shame is sharing that I cried my eyes out for at least half an hour on reading the news. Yes, this was coloured by my financial situation, but I also felt embarrassed. It was the second time that I had interviewed for this position, and not only had I not been successful, I also felt really alone because I didn’t know who was in the same boat. After having done a workshop for Apples & Snakes, I went back to feeling like I don’t get picked. I consoled myself with my course, and the new direction I’m taking, but after swearing I wouldn’t do it again, I’ve signed up to do exam invigilation work, so when I could have been getting paid £200 a day in a April and May for something I love, I’ll now be getting barely over minimum wage for something that’s really mentally challenging (I try to think of it as meditation). And then it turns to self-blame, because who else is there to blame? My 5-minute workshop wasn’t as strong as others, and my answers weren’t good enough. It’s actually so demoralising. I know I’m capable of the work, but what now – try again next year?

In other news, I’ve also had two meetings about two different events in March. The first is the first Forest Hill Poetry Stanza at a cute cafe-bar ‘Mozart’ in Anerley on Friday 3rd March. The second is She Grrrowls, back for International Women’s Day on Thursday 16th March at the Catford Mews cinema. Aside from this, which is a fair bit of work for little to no pay, I’ve also got another minimum wage role for humble warrior drinks, offering product samples in store.

So, all this has been doing on whilst I’ve had my regular students, applying for more jobs, hosting the online Stanza group, and getting ready for my flatmate moving out! Thankfully I also had time for some exercise – Pilates, Yoga, Boxing and Zoca! I’m also trying to walk more again, but it’s not always possible, so I’ve only gone beyond 10,000 steps twice this week!

Once again, if you’re able to support me on my journey to becoming an Art Therapist, please consider buying my books or sharing stuff on social media, likewise with my crowdfunding campaign.

Freelance Reflections #53

Tomorrow I’m back at Between the Bridges for a special LGBT+ events, representing the bisexuals, with books including poetry about relationships with women (Circles) and men (the others). I hope I do better than last time with sales! I’ve also invested in some table clips and different display units. The weather over the weekend looks pretty average, but hopefully some sunny intervals will bring the footfall.

This week I have been thinking about what I can do to create more balance and be more fulfilled in what I do with my time. I feel like I could be close to burnout or become ill if I don’t do something different to protect my free time. After dinner, I’m going to have wind down time, meaning my language learning will be earlier in the day and alternate between Spanish and Turkish. I am also going to cut down on content writing, as it is the least fulfilling work I do, and this will allow me to actually work on the creative projects that are also work (i.e. based on funding, they are equal priority), and I even might find some time then to do the many creative things I want to do that aren’t linked to money! This will also mean I will have less time over weekends that I have to do, so I can do what I really want to do… chill out, read books and magazines, watch films, or just generally do whatever I want to re-energise!

In other news, recently I also got a bike for commutes to students, and I went out to build up my confidence. Typically and ironically, I think I did something to the gears that made the chain loose, and just after having built up the confidence to go on the road, in the pouring rain, thinking back to when I did the same whilst travelling in Laos, and as soon as I turned in towards the pavement, I skidding off the bike, and landed on my thigh and elbow. I tried to fix the chain, but I fell off again. No nobody stopped to see if I was okay, but some guy did shout out from a van, ‘What a hand?’ I saw them smirk as they drove off…

In more cheery news, this week has been very eventful in terms of social stuff too. I was in the live audience for Life & Rhymes, hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring Lemn Sissay, Salena Godden, AP Staunton, and two young poets I didn’t know about, Y.A. Poet and Simply Sayo, who were all great in their own unique ways. I also went to Crystal Palace International Film Festival on Thursday and one of my favourite films was ‘A Piece of Cake’, so I bought these silver balls as a reference when I went to see my boyfriend last night after watching ‘The Guilty Feminist Live’ at Southbank. Lastly, keep an eye out for events in Hastings, as I’ll be at the film screening on 24th and this Poetics event on 25th September.

Freelance Reflections #9

It’s nearly a year on from becoming self-employed, and I’m finally getting a routine together. I have six students across Monday to Wednesday, which takes up about six hours on each day because most of this is travelling. It’s a constant battle in my mind between money and travel. I live at home, so I am able to save, but the sacrifice is time.

It begs the question: what is my time worth?

I figure I’ll stay put for now, and embrace the time travelling by reading, doing any admin I can on-the-go, and sometimes just daydreaming out of windows, listening to music. I’ll be turning 30 next May, so maybe I’ll freak out then and feel the urge to uproot. But at least by then I’ll have saved some more.

My mornings are spent planning lessons and marking. This takes up a lot of time as well, but it’s okay. If I stick at it, the work will get easier with time. The type of subjects the students are studying often means I have to go over each paper to make sure that I not only know the answers, but know how to teach the students how to get those answers.

The students themselves are lovely and a pleasure to work with. The other day, I was doing a creative warm-up game with Rory’s Story Cubes, and we made a story that was so funny that we both got the giggles. It was about dice that wouldn’t stop rolling. It relied on an implicit communication as we each continued the story, the dice still rolling in the story, and whilst it was seemingly unprofessional to laugh quite to the extent I did (barely being able to speak), we bonded in that moment, and it is those moments that will make it hard when the tuition stops.

The last couple of weeks, I have been focusing on trying to get into the routines that I want to continue. Sometimes I question whether I’m doing enough paid work. I have this mentality that I should be trying to make as much as I would need to survive if I didn’t live with my parents. But, how am I going to progress with my writing career if I don’t give it the time it deserves? When talking to fellow creative Daisy Dockrill a few months back, she said to do exactly this, for the reason that I would be able to give myself that time to write more.

As well as planning and marking in the mornings, I do content writing, and I said I wouldn’t do this past Wednesday, but this slipped into Thursday the last couple of weeks. Today I’m going to aim to do at least four hours of writing, but I also have a book tour to organise and there’s still (always) a lot to do for that! I’ve been trying to do bits and pieces to do with it, but as always, it never feels like there’s enough time. I’ve been socialising a fair bit too, but this week has been all work really. I’m looking forward to a couple of social things over the weekend, including Common Ground – a free festival I found out about. Hopefully the weather will be nice!


Last week also saw the first instalment of She Grrrowls at The Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. It was really lovely, with the most audience we’ve had in a long time. I didn’t make quite enough to cover costs now I have to pay for the venue as well as the acts, not to mention paid advertising. The features were Annie Hayter, who is a Barbican Young Poet; Anvi, who is on an ACE-funded stay from India; and Good Canary, who is a musician!

I’ve been exercising every day until today. I was really itching to, but I just got a new tattoo, so I can’t wear a tight sports bra over it. I’ve been doing a bit of Spanish, including some reading, but could push myself more with this to get up to scratch. I’ll be starting intermediate conversation classes soon, which is scary! Next week I’ll be in Leicester for the second date in the She Grrrowls Autumn 2018 Book Tour, and the first outside of London!


She Grrrowls & Politics

She Grrrowls Logo

With She Grrrowls just finding its feet and me just about recovering from a post-launch cold, I think it’s about time I wrote about its first instalment. I arrived at The Gallery Café over 3 hours before the event’s start time. As I can’t afford to fork out £50 on a sound technician, I decided to bring a pad of paper and pen to note down the basics. It seemed easier enough and despite some initial problems, it was working. That was when things started to take a turn for the worst. There was a party of 30 people due an hour before the event for a buffet, which did no good for my pre-show anxiety. Then, my comedy act got in contact to say she was too ill to do the show. I was further sent into a panic when part of the She Grrrowls team was taken down by a kidney infection. I was on the edge of a meltdown. Still, guest host Joelle Taylor turned up and got her hands dirty moving tables with me, providing a welcome relief.

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Twenty minutes before the start, I tested the music again. No sound came out. No sound. We had no sound. What was I going to do? The events manager was off sick, and I hadn’t a clue how to work out what the problem was, let alone fix it. The café never closed its doors, so people were coming in and I was running round like a headless chicken. Joelle kindly jumped on stage to tell people to pay and I ran back and forth to collect money and check on the sound. Time was a blur, and somehow, with the help of the café staff and the band, the sound began to work through one speaker – not the ones above, but one sat on the stage. Booking a six-piece band for the first event was probably a bit ambitious, but through working together, it all turned out okay and we were able to start the show before 8pm.

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My head was a whirlwind, but I was thankful I didn’t have to worry about the audience and the artists. The open mic’ (themed ‘politics’) was a great success… from a rather unusual but expected ‘alternative view’ to established poets like Pete the Temp and Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson, as well as emerging artists I was glad to see take to the stage, including a lovely lady called Imogen who rhymes under ‘Average White Female’. The audience looked packed – we ran out of seats (mostly because I didn’t have time to remove all the tables) and I counted around 40-50 people. The best part of this means that each act took away around £30 payment (although the ever-supportive Joelle tried to give the money back to She Grrrowls) and I would love to increase that amount by getting bigger audiences. What’s more is that the event had positive feedback – one couple who had come in for food (the guy had just arrived back from Canada) were convinced to stay for the show and left telling Joelle that this was just the kind of event they had been looking for: good quality poetry without the pretence.

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I managed to relax enough to talk to a couple of friends who came to watch, and to be able to enjoy the rest of the show. Momina Mela offered us beautiful poetry with words that melt your soul, each word spoken slowly, carefully, as if each word was a jewel offered as a gift to the audience. Momina has an uncanny way with words and amazes with each line of poetry. Aisling Fahey then wowed the audience with her raw honesty; lines like ‘how to hold their frame without wishing there were less of it’, although about eating disorders, was both horribly relatable and undenyably tragic. A poem that goes beyond the experience of eating disorders and makes you wonder why you would ever want to be less of yourself, like you’d be destroying a part of yourself.

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Sunshine in Mae finished the night and left everyone with a smile on their face. Fronted by Sula Mae, this six piece band also had some guys in it (see – showcasing female talent, not completely banning men). I knew Sula Mae from university as a solo artists so it was incredible to see her songs grow to such a level, hearing new tracks and old favourites like ‘Wake up Mr. Billy’. People hung around after and chatted, before Joelle helped me pack all the equipment away (what a star!) I was left exhausted, but elated, and so so thankful to everyone who was involved in making She Grrrowls a success.

Watch some of the poetry from the launch on the She Grrrowls Youtube Channel.

Since then, I encountered yet another hurdle! The booking system at The Gallery Cafe hadn’t registered future She Grrrrowls events. After waves of panic via email and feeling sick all day, I was able to sort it out and have spent the last week re-arranging bookings. The next event will be on Saturday 5th October – I had to change a couple of acts but you can see the confirmed line-up below… the change of theme to ‘sex’ seemed appropriate (well, we couldn’t do ‘space’ without Helen Keen)! I’m excited as I won’t be tired from work and my boyfriend will be there to enjoy the show (and help me out) – poetry on a Saturday night, what a treat! The rest will be every THIRD MONDAY of each month.

She Grrrowls Oct 2013 NEW


Hold Your Beliefs Lightly

Last week I saw my friend Siobhan Belingy for her birthday and she gave me this cool pink ring – it’s eyes move!  I also saw Grayson Perry’s exhibition at The British Museum and loved it!  My Gran and Siobhan had both said it was unmissable so I’m really glad I got to see it.  I loved the mix of old and new, Perry’s unique style (with the use of some of my favourite colours) and the use of text and poetry.  It also dealt with really interesting subject matters, and I’d really recommend it.  There’s a picture of the bike outside with my boyfriend Matt.  We also went to the East London Design Show (good but we had to pay to get in?!) and Winter Wonderland which was lovely but neither me or my boyfriend could afford even a bag of candy floss!

Lastly, on Tuesday I went to my last open mic night for some time at Herne Hill’s Half Moon pub for Needle & Thread.  I did some new material but stumbled quite a lot so wasn’t the best gig.

I’m now going into hiatus for a bit to concentrate on my MA work as the essays have been stressing me out.  I’ve got a few things in the pipe-line (I met up with another poet this night to discuss future event plans) but I’m not going to hit the open mic nights regularly until at least around May.  Also, Angel from Big Brother was performing at this open mic!  I don’t know if anyone else knew who she was but I’ve watched every year of Big Brother so I found it rather exciting! Me and Matt have been flyering and getting organised with that but him mum reckons we should be charging for them.  We’ve actually learnt a lot from doing it but it would be great if anyone knew how to get different shops selling them!  We could have made about £90-390 from them!

I’ll keep an update on what I’m up to other than not going to open mic events 🙂


Verbal Detox CWS Open Mic

Monday I did the open mic and my friend Laura came along with me which was nice.  The theme was ‘detox’ and we were encouraged to show the “new you” so I did all new material, including one about my new haircut, whilst wearing a new dress, just £2 from primark! However I didn’t get any of the prize potatoes, so had to ask for some at the end as I do love potatoes!

A couple of girls came up to me and said how much they liked my set and said how they felt the words I spoke, which was great to hear because of it being new material, and that’s kind of the aim of what I do.  I want people to understand and feel what I feel, like when you hear songs that just speak to you.

There were all the usual performers really, apart from one girl at the start who was good but brought one REALLY irritating and, quite frankly, rude friend.  She was constantly texting, eating, talking, laughing and had her back to the performers all night.  I thought maybe she was going out after and just there for pre-drinks because her friends were there, but I noticed her change from heels to flats.  It was just weird, I couldn’t help thinking WHY IS SHE HERE?!

John Simpson Wedge was doing a ‘feature’ set and it was the best he’d ever performed.  There was a lot of variety, as he ventured away from the comedy and did an amazing serious prose piece, and then a Coolio parody which was funny.

Me and Laura ended up accidentally going out and went to Havana’s.  It was fun but I didn’t want to drink as much as I did.  It was good to meet some guys from The Birdcage but on the dance floor I was astounded at the disgusting behaviour from men in there.  There was a big group of guys that just dominated an area and it just felt really unpleasant and predatory.  At one point two of them came up to me and started to try to “dance” with me from in front and behind and I was creeped out and got them to move away, or rather, I just moved away.  There were a group of scary guys that kept asking for a dance and then when we said no, they asked if we spoke English, and also asked if we would dance with their uncle, who was an elderly, short man.  They followed us when we moved away, another guy even tried to keep one away from us.  They attempted to touch Laura from behind and I told them to back off.  Later, we saw they were leaving and glad, they walked past as and one pinched my bum so I pushed him away and felt incredibly angry.  He turned to me in a threatening manner and I shouted not to touch me.  They left but it ruined the night a bit and we decided to leave and got chips.  We talked whilst waiting for the bus but didn’t get home until 4.30am.  So I was pretty tired the next day!

Anyway, that’s about it.  DJ set at The Birdcage tomorrow with Kristy and our laptops haha.


Mistletoe and Whine

Just came back from the last UEA CWS open mic of the year.  I’m on a certain antibiotic at the moment which is supposed to give you an insane headache if you drink alcohol on it so I spent 60p on two pints of blackcurrant squash.  Seeing as I’ve already spent nearly all my money on Christmas presents, this no drinking thing is probably for the best.  I’ve been going to alcohol counselling in an attempt to stop binge drinking and develop a healthier relationship with alcohol so it was interesting when I went to the last LitSoc social sober.  The pub crawl part was actually really fun, and I think I made the most effort of anyone with the two members (who weren’t the committee or friends of the committee) that showed up.  The club was where it went downhill.  I hadn’t heard good things about the change from Po Na Na’s to Lola Lo’s but I went in with an open mind.  Sadly, I couldn’t take advantage of the free vodka, and the mince pies never turned up.  From then on, I felt like I was waiting for people to get drunk, and couldn’t really talk as the music was so loud.  Eventually some of us danced for a bit, but then the others got fed up and I left early with a few people.  It was around 1am so I felt that was an okay time, considering I still had lots of coursework to do!

Anyway, back to tonight.  I felt more nervous as I don’t think I have done a gig without a little dutch courage for over a year at Starbucks (they don’t do alcohol).   Anyway, I felt like it went well and got a couple of compliments, not only on my poetry but also my outfit – Reko dress, white tights, vintage shoes and a Father Christmas hat.  I got to speak to Leo Hunt who I remember liking the last time, and he’s a nice chap.  I also remembered how much I adore Greta Healey’s voice; again, I think my Words & Music lecturer would like it.  Anyway, I read a new poem called I Am No Better which was inspired by events at Hop Farm Festival last year, including a drunken vision of Kaya Scodelario (Effie from Skins), so it has been a long time coming, but hopefully that means it’s a gooden.  I then dedicated my poem Passing Time, to a guy I’ve been acquainted with for a couple of weeks who said he’d never go to see poetry.  I then did Drama as I was reminded of it whilst doing research for my Children’s Literature module.  I finished on Tick the Box, which another performer told me they liked best.

So, I was happy.  On top of that, I won a chocolate prize for my attempt at the fancy dress! As the only effort was the hat, I’m pretty pleased… though am not sure I should be as the rest was just a normal outfit!  Oh well, chocolate, can’t complain!  I really enjoyed Christopher Ogden’s prose piece and think I prefer it to his poetry, which is unusual as it is more difficult to keep the audience’s attention with prose.  Angela Robinson was really enjoyable again, and I find her work very cinematic, in an American way, but in a positive way that makes you want to take a trip! Chris Gray was next and his set was really funny, and delivered with confidence.  Catherine Woodward is someone who impresses me more and more each time I see her, and is published so hopefully would be able to get her for a pure LitSoc event if we end up doing that. 

Robyn Comfort did a nice mix of poetry and song to acoustic guitar, including one about her boyfriend which was sweet; it reminded me of when I read at the Poetry Cafe and dedicated a poem to my boyfriend at the time, and how in that moment I made his heart feel more for me than he ever has since.  Amy Wragg didn’t turn up, which I was disappointed about as I was looking forward to hearing her read.  Laurie Eaves was as good as ever, and even worked a reference to one of Angela’s poems in his.  Josephine Lister was headliner, and I’m still working out what I think about her poetry, as she’s quite loud and so maybe she should have more variation or something, I can’t put my finger on it, that said, I loved her poem The Way You Look Tonight.  I also think I might fancy her just a bit.

I’m really wanting to break open my chocolate snowman, but I’ve already had a massive Homemade Quorn Cottage Pie that should really serve two, and a strip of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.  I should also go to bed now as I still have essays to edit and expand upon (UNDER the word limit!)  I also need to draw and scan in illustrations for my creative project for Children’s Literature.  Then once that’s over, time to start on my Creative Entrepreneurship MA application and reading for my dissertation.


I also realised I didn’t do any Christmas-themed poems, so here’s one from last year:



You were Father Christmas in the nativity.

I was a snow flake.

If we met in reception I wonder

what we would be now,

and whether we would have been friends

back then.

Would you have pulled my hair?

Would you have known my name?

In the playground playing games

would you have been my aim in kiss chase?

Or would you be kicking a football

while I was tangled up I skipping ropes

and standing on one leg in hopscotch?

Would you save me if I was stuck in the mud?

Find a plaster for my grazed knees?

Or be the cause for my bruises

for pushing me too hard?

You, eating Christmas dinner in the hall.

Would I be on pack lunch at this time?

‘Cause I always changed my mind.

Would you watch my cartwheels

or comment on my hairy legs?

Would we keep in contact?

Grow older as friends.

Or more.

Would we be shy?

Would we camp together at music festivals?

Would I fall in love with you,

and your family,

would they call me their baby?

Get pissed together?

Bite nails and smoke cigarettes?

And experience what went on behind bike sheds?

Because in reality I stopped riding bikes at secondary school.

Would we comfort eat?

Or have someone to share the cakes with?

Would we swap presents every year?

Would we write pain into our history books

or just play hangman at the back of the classroom?

Would I go away?

And you come visit me,

hug goodbye

but always say see you soon.

Would you ride off with reindeer to the moon?

And dust me off your shoulder.

Would you see life without me is colder?

Share a bed with a hot water bottle, one duvet

and two pillows.