Verve Poetry Festival 2018

Well, readers (if you exist, it feels like writing into the abyss), I haven’t written properly her since Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Most of my reviews are written for The Norwich Radical, and I’ve now been writing for them for over three years as a volunteer. I felt the urge to write having recently come back from Verve Poetry Festival (alas, as an audience member, not a participant).

One of my cousins is at university in Birmingham, so I took the opportunity to get her a Saturday ticket and visit her whilst attending the festival. We had a lovely time, and I discovered new voices amongst old favourites. It was a bit overwhelming at times being surrounded by so many familiar names and faces, and by the end of the festival my brain kind of stopped working, but it was well worth it. I’ll go through some of my personal highlights.

Dead or Alive Slam

I’d never been to a Dead of Alive Slam, where actors read the work of past poets, and compete against the alive ones. I was very much in team ‘alive’, who were the overall winners, but I discovered poems by both I enjoyed. It featured Genevieve Carver, Isaiah Hull and Caroline Teague – the first two being new to me, and all of them brilliant.  Team Death consisted of poems by Christina Rossetti, Forough Farrokhzad, and Djuna Barnes (read by Tembi Xena, Lorna Nickson Brown, and Zeddie Lawal). Djuna Barnes really stood out to me, which might come in handy for the workshop I’m going to run with Spread the Word – The Femme Canon.

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City Poems

This section featured six commissioned poets, alongside competition winners, and was hosted by the judge Luke Kennard. What I liked about this section was that there were so many poets, and so much variety. It can be difficult to listen to poetry across three days (even for us poets) so this quick succession of poets was welcome for a morning event at the start of a long day. It featured local poets including Roy McFarlane, Bohdan Piasecki, Amerah Saleh, Jenna Clake, Casey Bailey, and Ahlaam Moledina. Having been tutored by Piasecki whilst in the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, and having met Saleh on a previous trip to Birmingham, it was particularly good to hear both their poetry. You can buy the book of poems here.

Stablemates: Bobby Parker

Chaired by Jill Abram, creator of Stablemates, there was discussion and poetry from Martha Sprackland, James Brookes, and Bobby Parker in celebration of new work from Offord Road Books. Although I wasn’t expecting it, Bobby Parker was my favourite poet in this section. He was open about the criticism he had received from his poem ‘THANK YOU FOR SWALLOWING MY CUM’, of which I wasn’t previously aware had provoked accusations of misogyny. I read the poem myself and although I think it’s horrible, I think it’s the intention, it being an exploration of this dark side of masculinity and the validation that men may place on such an act. It is simultaneously simple and complex, and I like it and Parker’s other word. I didn’t realise the connection between this poem and Thank You For Swallowing, which publishes incredible feminist writing.

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The Poetry Assembly: Romalyn Ante

Although a celebration of Jane Commane’s Bloodaxe collection, the event was also supported by Roz Goddard, Liz Berry, Romalyn Ante, and Matt Black. My favourite poet was Romalyn Ante, with her slow, rhythmic poetry, with vivid imagery, it was beautiful to hear her recite. My only issue with the programming of Verve Poetry Festival is the division of sections labelled ‘poetry’ and ‘spoken word’, when there were examples such as this where Ante knew her poems by heart and was in the ‘poetry’ section, yet others such as the Out-Spoken Press section were labelled ‘spoken word’ when both feature books.

Out-Spoken Press Showcase

In moving on to this ‘spoken word’ section, I believe one featured poet, Raymond Antrobus, has been quite vocal about claiming the title of ‘poet’ as his own rather than solely a ‘spoken word artist’. This showcase also featured Anthony Anaxagorou, Joelle Taylor, Sabrina Mahfouz, and Bridget Minamore. I’m very well versed on the latter three poets, all three featuring the the She Grrrowls anthology from Burning Eye Books and so it was great to hear them all together at Verve Poetry Festival.

Nymphs & Thugs: Maria Ferguson

The penultimate event I went to featured Salena Godden, Matt Abbott, Maria Ferguson, and Jamie Thrasivoulou. Whilst they were all great poets, Ferguson was my highlight here, and is always completing captivating. After her show ‘Fat Girls Don’t Dance’ (which I have seen and bought a copy of the book of the same title), she is now working on a show called ‘Essex Girls’. As well as her usual fantastic poetry, in the second half of the two hour slot she gave us a sneak peek into some of her writing from the show.

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Luke Wright & Ross Sutherland

Tom Chivers of Penned in the Margins presented the last section I could attend before hopping on my newly booked coach (otherwise I would have been on night buses from arriving by train 1am the next day in London). It think it was actually Tom Chivers who introduced me to the work of Luke Wright and Ross Sutherland just under a decade ago as an awkward undergrad on an internship at PITM whilst studying at UEA. I have since worked with Ross Sutherland during Shake the Dust, and Luke Wright kindly published my small selection of poems with Nasty Little Press and put me on at Latitude Festival, and I have kept following both their work. It was, as always, great to hear their stuff, especially having recently read and loved The Toll by Wright, and listened to some of the Imaginary Advice podcasts by Sutherland.

All in all, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my recommendations (I has taken me a couple of hours of writing after all). Hopefully next year I’ll be writing as a fellow participant! I’ve been officially freelance since October 2017, so stay tuned for when I find time to write about what that has meant for me thus far (clue: I’m still very much settling back into the UK since my return from Spain in July).

 

The Norwich Radical: My One Year Anniversary

The other week I wanted to show Bande de Filles aka Girlhood, to 6th Form students in order to get them to come along to the Feminist Club. They had been keen after having Feminista UK coming in to run a workshop with them. Sadly, my efforts at putting colour-posters up, guying popcorn and even buying the DVD specifically to show the film were wasted at this time. It was rather depressing to hear the music at the start repeat in an empty classroom. I guess they’re overworked. And as an English Mentor, I keep giving them extra reading to do as it is!

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I’ve been writing for The Norwich Radical for a year now, where I look at the arts through a feminist lens. Girlhood was a film I highlighted for its Feminist credentials. So, I thought this would be an opportune time to highlight the articles I’ve written thus far. You can get a whole list by clicking here.

In order of appearance:

I’m Sorry You’re Offended

Sirens at Soho Theatre

Soho Comedy: Women, ‘It’s Like They’re Real People’

Emmy the Great: Oslo, Hackney

The Bechdel Test Fest

Women of the World Festival 2015: Part 1 and Part 2

Three Women Poets

Women Fashion Power: Not a Multiple Choice Question

Woman Verses World

The Place for Poetry: Fragment and Process, Visual Culture and Performance

The Last Word

Soon Every House Will Have One

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To Kill a Mockingbird – Is it Just Me?

In Defence of Telling Girls They Can

Let’s Talk About Sex: The Institute of Sexology and Sex in the Afternoon

Feminist Picks: Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Homework: Molly Naylor and Katie Bonna

Arts Funding: Young People, Women and Intersectionality

Suffragette: The Fight is Not Over

The Hollow of The Hand

Hannah Silva’s ‘Shlock!’

The World Goes Pop

Warsan Shire’s Her Blue Body

Richard Yates: An Accidental Feminist?

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Last Night, She Said…

 

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Last month was my birthday – yay! I’m 24 now and I for the first time since I turned 19 I didn’t go clubbing. I went to the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition (loved it), had a meal at The Diner with about 10 close friends and had drinks around Hoxton before going to the comedy show at the Udderbelly (ok until they made jokes about domestic violence etc.) All in all, it was a great celebration, and my actual birthday was made amazing by people at work showering me with books and homemade cake. Two of my favourite things. I’ve been really busy… do I keep saying that?

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So, my time at Bang Said the Gun has come to an end. Here is a terribly unflattering photo of me performing, but I’m grateful to Cat Brogan for the evidence that ‘Carmina waz ere’ and all that. I really want to come back to do the raw meat stew… and hopefully a feature, in the future! Something that I feel I have to speak up about is the level of misogyny, not only at the Udderbelly, but (sadly) at Bang too. More so, the fact that it is so ingrained in society that most people don’t question it (or don’t seem to) and so I did my bit and scattering some Feminist glitter on my poetry sets.

The energy of the last one was the most inspiring as the raw meat stew had less of the sexism, Martin Figura gave his nod to Feminism in a polka dot shirt and Cat Brogan hula-hooped whilst singing about her clitoris. That’s exactly what needs to be done; don’t run away, but challenge it, perform something better and show that you don’t have to be offensive to be good. I thoroughly encourage females/feminists to come and have a go! Anyway, more about that darker side of the poetry scene later. I had a great time every week -even the two weeks when I was ill and my sniffle developed into a full-on fever, it had me in bed past midnight.

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I also had a stall at the Saboteur Awards, which was great (despite my fever) and I got to meet a few cool people.  I can now said I have been fortunate enough to have worked for an award winning company (Penned in the Margins), taken part in an award winning project (Shake the Dust) and performed at an award winning night (Bang Said the Gun). Check out  what you missed out on by Richard T Watson, and Dan Holloway (who said my stuff was like ‘Cath Kidson branded poetry’).

I didn’t sell as much as I wanted to, but Poetry&Paint was quite popular and I sold a t-shirt and some of the badges and stickers. I didn’t sell any of my own books/CDs as I guess nobody really knew who I was. People did say my stall was the prettiest though. Since Poetry&Paint is kicking off, I’ve extended the deadline for the next issue but only specifically because I’m looking for a response to Siobhan Belingy’s artwork. Deadline is the Friday 7th June. Don’t forget to buy your copy of the first issue.

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On Saturday I went to Chime for Change, which was particularly fun when J.Lo and Beyonce performed as they had such a range of material. It was amazing to hear speeches from the likes of Desmond Tutu on video and Madonna in person. There were so many amazing performers and speakers, but all I really need to say is to check out the different causes the event supported at Catapult. I wore my ‘this is what a Feminist looks like’ t-shirt and one of the bouncers called me ‘Mrs Feminist’… I suppose I should have said ‘Ms Feminist’ haha!

One of my friends asked me to break down feminism for them, and I spoken about equality, and acknowledging the subjugation of women over hundreds of years. I hope I did a good job to explain why. I find it annoying that my peers don’t know this stuff already, but if I’m honest, I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that as it is only recently that just a handful of my friends have turned to Feminism. I don’t want to force them to identify as such, but I just hope I have a positive influence in making them think it is a good thing to be! The slogan for the event couldn’t be more right: how can we move forward if half of us are held back?

broken machines/hearts & magpies

Recent news. I went to see Every Rendition on a Broken Machine, performed live by the writer Ross Sutherland at Toynbee Studios, organised by Penned in the Margins aka Tom Chivers. I can only assume it will be on Channel 4 soon because this documentary needs airing. I loved it. It was not only interesting, but told with Sutherland’s natural humour. Being live, your eyes darted from him to the screen, but I liked to look at the screen, so that the sound was like a voice-over. The film was about internet poetry, so a a poet (and internet addict), I obviously found this engaging. However, I think even non-poets would like to watch it. I mean, it features Clarissa Explains it All. Come on!

Yesterday I had the first workshop for Word’s a Stage. It was great meeting the other poets – Selina Nwulu, Anthony Hett, Errol McGlashan. We are being mentored by Malika Booker, who my Mum has banged on about since I first started reading my poetry to audiences 6 years ago (when Booker was involved in the education department at Apples & Snakes, since my Mum works at a school). She has been fantastic so far and I’m looking forward to the next session, once I’ve done my “homepleasure” in developing my character for the piece I’ve written more and re-draft it.

After a long but inspiring day (10am-5pm) I met with my parents, had some Nando’s (of course) and went to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’d read the book some years ago and enjoyed it but couldn’t remember the plot (I’m terrible). We were going to see On the Road, but it had got bad reviews and there are so many films I want to see, we decided not to chance it. It ended up being a bonus that I couldn’t remember it, and although it broke me, it was truly awesome – and not in the slang-way, in the real way.

The quote ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’ is in itself genius, but turned into film, you felt like you were inside it. Needless to say, I cried throughout it. It wasn’t perfect; I didn’t understand it when the character of Sam said “I’m not bulimic, I’m bulim-ist” and this idea wasn’t explored any deeper. If the characters are going to laugh along to lines like that, I just think there should be more to it than that, especially with the current growth of pro-ana people (Say what?! Google it). Other than that moment, it was tragic and beautiful and so moving. It just made you feel so vulnerable afterwards.

Anyway, read the book too. I feel like I need to read it again now.

The last thing I want to write about is the last issue of Poetry Review. Tom Philips’ work was shown on the cover, which I liked as both poetry and visual art. While we’re on that subject, submit to Poetry & Paint. I enjoyed Chrissy Williams’ piece ‘From Page to Stage’ as it’s on my wavelength. I also loved reading Katy Evans-Bush write about Adventures in Form, and On Poetry because I had actually read both books! And now for some quick summaries on why I liked certain poets:

Chris McCabe: the first poet in the collection that caught my attention, with a beautiful use of language and caesuras.

Michael Hofmann: I liked the juxtaposition of items in a broken list, from the idea of bar-coding people to the familiarity of the use of ‘maiden name’ and the general ‘GSOH’.

C.J. Driver: The use of rhythm and the subtleties of language gives it a musicality, and an ephemeral quality.

Carrie Etter: Raw emotion is sculptured into metaphor, with wonders such as “I wanted to sprinkle a little /into flour, egg and cocoa/and feed the cake of you to everyone.”

Karen McCarthy Woolf: I loved the uniqueness of this piece, with descriptions like modern relic, and it’s mixture of humour and tragedy.

Edward Mackay: Although I couldn’t relate to this poem, I admired the way it was crafted into the shape of Wales.

Declan Ryan: There was a tonal quality to the first stanza with which I couldn’t identify, but I enjoyed gems such as “This isn’t an answer or a letter -/it’s only a cup of coffee after lunch”. This is when the poem took off, for me, and I liked the use of simile and metaphor, contrasted with simple dialogue.

Robert Stein: I liked the voice of this poem, and the funny phrases such as “Before falling in love with you…” in its desire to make love logical.

Naomi Foyle: This is probably my favourite poem of this collection. I loved every part of it and would love to read more.

Hannah Lowe: I liked that I could relate to the environment of the dance class, and twist of the final line: “he’s the cab my mother sends for me.”

Amy Acre: This is my joint favourite poem. I know Acre from her live performances, and it was a joy to find this poem included. Really clever and well-written, and lines such as “gathering strength like the hems of skirts. You are a continent.”

xxx

Poetry Parnassus

On Tuesday 26th June I attended the first day of Poetry Parnassus. Having felt quite confident and happy about going on my way, once I got there I did feel quite overwhelmed. Simon Armitage – one of my first encounters into contemporary poetry at GCSE’s – was standing just a few metres away. There were poets from all over the world; the idea curated by Armitage saw poets flocking from all of the countries competing in the Olympics. This day was the World Poetry Summit. Poets, publishers and other important figures in the world of poetry gathered and I felt a little like I was watching from the margins. I was disappointed only in myself for not taking the opportunity to seek out like-minded people, but still, I did absorb my surroundings and scribbled away at my notepad.

Reflecting on my notes now, I shall summerise some of my thoughts in relation to the day as a whole. My notes are 2,317 words, so I hope to make this much shorter! The first point is one which has people divided. Jude Kelly, the Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, made a comment about how it is a positive thing that poetry remains uninfluenced by money. She expressed the view that we shouldn’t want to professionalize the arts. Those with more romantic or anarchistic views may agree. However, I think that you have to bear in mind that we live in a Capitalist country and therefore the rules apply that we need money to survive. It would be idealistic to think that we do not. This very statement is contradicted by the fact that the poets and other speakers at this conference are professionals. They have a right to earn money from dedicating their life to poetry.

Though it is just another fact that they must do other things alongside the actual writing of poetry, their work doing these other things (teaching, editing, speaking at events etc.) is informed by this dedication to one field of practice. I agree that accessibility is important, however, it is worth noting I had to pay the full price of £35 for the summit, as apparently I had missed the “limited concessions” price – something which I don’t quite understand as I’m pretty sure I was one of the youngest people there. However, this kind of balanced out when you take into account all the free events I went to today. It is important because I almost didn’t get a ticket because I had to pay full price. I also almost didn’t come to the free events because of travel and my MA work commitments, but I thought this was too significant an opportunity to miss.

I went to half of the talk about poetry and money, and half of the Tradition vs. Innovation talk. The fact that there was a debate about money suggests that the above statement from Jude is not quite a given; she states in this discussion that it is ‘the elephant in the room.’ What is clear is that to be a poet, you must take on other work and Ollie Dawson, the Director of the Poetry School, found that younger poets are more willing in this area. Representing Kenya, poet Shailja Patel spoke out from the audience and told us that in the USA, there is a National Writers’ Union. It helps with issues of copyright, healthcare and so on and seems like a fantastic idea.

Tradition vs. Innovation was good to listen to as I had just been reading Adventures in Form, which is the most interesting book I’ve read since Dorothy Parker’s collected works and has me itching to write more poems. Tom Chivers from Penned in the Margins was involved in the discussion and made the point that they are not actually opposites as they feed into one another and that there is a “spark” when such concepts meet. Hence why this new book from Penned in the Margins is so exciting.

In a discussion about literature in the digital age, Nikola Madzirov spoke about horizontal and vertical dialogues. Thinking the web is more of a… web, so more sporadic than those ideas present, I got a bit confused here. Can anyone shed light on the meaning of this? I thought the work that was being produced could be in danger of being a bit gimmicky, but that the thought of having poets from around the world performing digitally at StAnza also seemed like a unique kind of festival, opening us up to people we may not normally come across, other than on rare occasions such as Poetry Parnassus!

In a conversation about poets finding their way in the 21st Century, Kayo Chingonyi proved to be one of my favourite speakers. He had a clarity, knowledge and passion that was articulated exceptionally well. Though it has to be said that Dean Atta made a delightful statement about wanting to be made into a hologram which made us all smile and chuckle a bit. I also felt I connected to some of what Raymond Antrobus said about there being a difference in writing to yourself and from yourself. My poem, Drama, actually comments upon this dilemma that I have faced as my urge to write in the past has come from a cathartic impulse that seemed only natural to me, whilst I have been over the last few years to perfect it as a craft.

After the provided packed lunch listening to poetry from around the world upstairs, I went to the Poetry & Elitism discussion. Bas Kwakman begins with the statement that ‘political poetry is always bad poetry. Good poetry is always political.’ And so ensues a discussion that (like the Tradition vs. Innovation talk) deals with binary oppositions. In my dissertation for my BA I examined Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis and my distaste for binary oppositions began there. As Taja Kramberger asserted; it is a ‘false dilemma.’ The whole point of elitism is that there isn’t access for the so-called populist, and then the populist itself becomes a different kind of elite, creating yet another hierarchy.

Another one of my favourite speakers, mentioned earlier, Shailja Patel spoke about the fact that there is a common misconception that equates elitism with difficulty, and populist with the political. This was in response to a elite-defender, who, like Bas, seemed to assume that some sort of elite was needed to ensure quality. Oh, the commoners can have their populist/political shit and we can just carry on here with our poetry of superior quality. No. Patel made her points extremely well in the debate, but also actually recited a poem ‘For the Verbal Masturbaters.’ She told us that she never takes free speech for granted as she did not have the privledge growing up. So much of this discussion relies on privilege and, in my view, anyone that defends elitism is a privilege-denier, or just needs to think a bit more.

To end this section, a quote from Taja Kramberger – ‘Poetry: you are not made from words alone.’

 

 

 

 

 

That evening I met up with my old housemate, Kirstie, and we caught poetry that fell down from the sky with the Rain of Poems. It took some time before I got a couple of poems, pictured below. People went crazy and almost physically fought over it, with some people greedily giggling at their hand-fulls. I’ve never seen people so excited about poetry, I thought. Slightly cynical about it, I thought that a lot of people would not treasure the poems as they should. Still, it was very surreal and pretty as they fell and glittered down to us.

Today, Saturday 30th June, I went back to go to more free events. I thought I also may get the opportunity to speak to some others there but didn’t see anyone I knew and didn’t feel I could randomly strike up a conversation with someone else. I first went to WOW (Women Of the World) Breakfast. This was one of my favourite events, and it was FREE! I forgot my notebook today so made just a few pointers in my (non-smart) phone. The discussion about writing from the mind/body brought me back to the idea of binary oppositions and those false dilemmas again. Sadly, I can’t remember the names of anyone to write who said what, but it was disheartening to hear that one visiting poet from Africa has said she was ignored even at Poetry Parnassus. Upon her own success, she was called up and told ‘African women don’t write poetry, it’s for African men.’ There was a man that enthused about the amount of young women with desire to write, as a cry for some positivity. A young woman also made some comments about not feeling ‘hard done by’ and again at the end that she was ‘not fight, just enjoying every word.’ However, I think that by doing just that and nothing else, you are ignoring and placating the wider issues that are a reality that women are faced with all over the world.

I plucked up the courage to ask a question, which thankfully they squeezed in for me. I wanted to know, as a student, since the majority of people who study Literature and take writing courses are women, does this filter out? If so, why… and, do they have a chance at a  level playing field or are they at a disadvantage when it comes to publishing? Picking up on something they said earlier about a need for more female editors, judges and critics, I questioned whether a way forward may be for bloggers to review female books. Some interesting thoughts came out of this, but it still remains to be answered in the future. I got home and found a Facebook comment thread about female writers not submitting enough.

So, part of this may be to do with confidence, and a willingness to take risks and perhaps not possessing enough of the characteristics of being a creative entrepreneur! The career progression from university also needs to be more informative, useful and supportive. Although there are issues with blogging, in that they’re unpaid, I had recently thought that I would LOVE to receive free books if I could review them on my blog. I believe I have a fair amount of readers but it would also be something I could build upon. I have had some experience writing reviews but I would love to do more. Whilst I am still at the beginning of my career I wouldn’t mind sparing some time to read and write about what I love! I may take more of a Dorothy-Parker-esque way of writing about the events, exhibitions and books I experience, but at least I’m honest!

After a small break reading The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry, I went to the Clore Ballroom for some Salt readings. It was good to see Chris McCabe as Tom Chivers had told me about him when I did my internship at Penned in the Margins and I had read some of his work in the latest book I mentioned earlier. He read poems about a meat-book, explaining a Van Gogh painting to his son, and existential clubbing. Kayo Chingonyi has to be mentioned again because he was one of my favourite poets of this day as well! He read poems about how to create a mixtape on the out-dated cassette tape, as well as taking us through the rhythm of his dance. He also seems like a really nice, genuine guy, which always makes me like the poets even more.

Sadly, Death Poetry was full, so I found life outside and read a bit more before going back to the Level 5 Function Room for ‘They Won’t Take Me Alive – Women and Revolution.’ Namechecks to Alaide Foppa, read by Amanda Hopkinson, Gioconda Belli, Chiranan Pitpreecha and Farah Didi. Bidisha also did an amazing job as chair for this and the earlier WOW talk. I was so glad I stayed for it because I learnt a lot and it was wonderful to be able to hear their poetry. They spoke of the ideas of poetry and activism, comparisons to fruit and flowers and images of beauty, and showing the world what injustice there is and moving on to other subjects, how this political voice is at the core of you. I made out about 5 words of Gioconda Belli’s Spanish recital of ‘The Dream Bearers’ which makes me morn for the lost language of my hispanic roots. Still, I have uploaded some free Spanish tutorials on my iPod now.

Wow! So, over 2000 words means I better stop! Full from tapas, and looking forward to Sunday-Tuesday as I celebrate a year of being with my boyfriend 🙂

xxx

Shaking It, Like a Polaroid Picture Etc.


Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.

Well, it is Easter Sunday, if there was a time for a non-believing Catholic to post a biblical quote, this would be it. As my nearest and dearest have been contemplating their religion and the meaning of life, I have been getting involved in some actual dust-shaking in poetic form.

My past scrape with an increase in white blood cells has obviously not enforced the idea of resting enough. Prone to type A personality traits, I struggled into work at Sainsbury’s and kept up with my coursework until I couldn’t take it anymore. I eventually took a day off work and missed some of my classes for my MA, and it seems I am being punished for not taking work off earlier because apparently you need to take 5 shifts off and have a doctor’s note to be eligible for sick-pay. Long story short, I’ve done some overtime to make up the hours and eventually got some Amoxicillin which I’m hoping will mean I’m fully recovered by next week.

Anyway, back to the big news! As I mentioned previously, I was chosen as a Peer Mentor for Shake the Dust, the biggest youth poetry slam the UK has ever seen (organised by Apples & Snakes). However, now Sam Riviere had to pull out, I have been promoted to being a Poet Shadow! It’s a great surprise and honour to be selected as a replacement for someone so successful. I’ll be working with Poet Coach, Ross Sutherland at The Netherhall School in Cambridge, who I remember Tom Chivers of Penned in the Margins describing as one of the hardest working poets. I’ve seen him perform a few times and had the pleasure of reading the Twelve Nudes manuscript during my internship at PITM – and in the couple of years since Ross has managed to put out two more books!

Last Tuesday I went to a professional development day for the East region at The Garage and soon discovered I personally knew/had met about half of the people involved, and the rest I (mostly) knew of a poets anyway. I did feel a bit overwhelmed at first, being surrounded by so many admirable poets, but everyone was lovely and I soon got into it and ended up having a fantastic time. I’m feeling more confident about helping out at the workshops and think that it’ll be a really great experience! I feel so lucky to be able to participate as a Poet Shadow, and although I have applied for funding for my own event in August, I will now not have to worry about the financial side as the income from my role at Shake the Dust will cover my basic budget. So, everything’s pretty good right now, just need to be feeling healthy again and have a little bit of sunshine!

Also, my Gran got me a book about Angela Carter – someone I definitely think I should have read by now and want to do in the future. I’m now reading The Great Gatsby, which is also a long overdue read! Now, off to eat some egg-shaped chocolate!

xxx

Atelophobia

Imagine electrifying.

Imagine sequencing (semi-unconscious)

Go ‘smack’ in the middle.

Leave unprepared error.

Think: early on in the life my guess is precisely that. Later we learn 
it instinctively, our terror doubles.

I have been reading a couple of books on my coach travels. The first is Love / All That / & OK by Emily Critchley, from which the quote above is extracted. It is amazing to discover the never-ending quality of poetry that is being produced by Penned in the Margins. Since completing an internship with the company, I have found myself wanting to buy up all the books that have been published. Critchley’s collection was personally aspirational, with my own desire for creating quality poetry, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I can’t remember the last time I read something so perfect; the balance between the easy digestion of meaning, combined with an element of satisfying intellectual urges to work out new possibilities for meaning. It is witty, yet it is also veiled in a cloak of melancholic mystery, as well as being edgy and raw. Text is presented in an interesting way, cleverly placed and playful.

The second is Cold Calling for Chickens by Bob Etherington. It’s proving to be a good read, and affirms habits that I am currently developing. Although I’m not sure about how much cold calling I will be doing, there are many other important aspects of marketing that it deals with. I have been thinking about my fear of making mistakes. Although I am arguably unafraid of applying myself to different ventures and trying new things, I have a great sense of fear. I absolutely hate making mistakes. A type of perfectionism, I find it very emotional when I do something ‘wrong,’ possibly stemming from childhood punishment with ‘disappointment’ from my parents. I am quite self-critical and it was only when getting feedback from a bid proposal I had shown during my MA course last week that I realised how much my lack of confidence can be seen on the page. I am, somewhat ironically, learning the importance of learning from mistakes and becoming more comfortable with constructive criticism as a means of self-improvement.

I wanted to share a couple of other things I’ve forgotten about. A book-related recommendation first. If you are in Williamsberg, Brooklyn (New York) any time soon, do check out Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers. It is the kind of shop that I wish was on my door-step. It’s really unique and housed a lot of interesting books and magazines as it specialises in rare finds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something else that is right up my street is Anne Taintor designs, since I love vintage and faux-vintage. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her stuff around London shops but it’s pretty cool to have a browse of the website.

In other news, March is approaching and the Peer Mentor period for Shake the Dust is soon beginning! I’m also about to start blogging for Zukuri UnLtd. If you check out the website, you’ll see the fashion philosophy promoted is on par with my own attitudes towards fashion and personal development (I’ll be writing for the latter section) – I’m really exciting about this new project. Meanwhile, all areas of my life are bumping along quite pleasantly 🙂

xxx