Freelance Reflections #36

Last week’s She Grrrowls wasn’t as smooth as usual, but it was nice to see both the poets involved sharing poems, as well as audience members. I made a point of not bringing my laptop away when visiting family in Hastings for a picnic, but ended up writing a draft of a book review for The Norwich Radical on the journey on my phone!

I still worked on Bank Holiday Monday, but on Tuesday I got to use my wetsuit and booties for the first time in the 9-10 degree pool in Brockwell Park. It was so freezing, and strangely difficult to swim more than two lengths at a time. I’d never been in such cold water to my mind.

With less of some work, I’ve been trying to get on top of boring admin tasks, but also been writing a lot more and catching up with NaPoWriMo prompts, as well as attending the amazing Apples and Snakes’ Red Sky Sessions with Bohdan Piasecki, which have so far included Malika Booker and Jacob Sam-La Rose, two absolute poetry heroes.

I found out today that after being longlisted for Butcher’s Dog, I didn’t make the cut, which I’m gutted about. I never expect to be accepted when submitting poems, so to get so close makes it extra disappointing somehow. Then again, it is also all the more reason to try again in future.

To end on a positive note, successfully recorded two poems with Muddy Feet Poetry on Thursday outdoors in Deptford. I had learnt one by heart, and was super nervous, but Pete and Stanley were so lovely and supportive throughout, I felt really happy afterwards.

The main poem we recorded is also part of Free Spirits: Loss in Lockdown, by Jo Sharpe and poet Rachel Sambrooks. There will be a free exhibition at Studio 9 Oaks Park Studios in Carshalton on the 17th and 24th April, which you can register for online on Eventbrite.

It’s a strange experience writing about something like grief and putting it out into the world; sometimes I feel like artists get it because we all do it, but maybe it’s a bit odd to other people, but it is all part of how we process the world and how we connect.

Frightened Robot Gun

Time is short and I have wasted a lot of the day after celebrating a friend’s birthday until the early hours. I’m going swimming soon but I’m already ready for bed. It’s been eventful so without further ado, I’ll let you know what’s been going on.

Firtsly, I went to see Frightened Rabbit back in September. Aside from annoying crowd members and post-work tiredness, it was a great gig. They didn’t play all the songs I would have liked but ‘Poke’ was amazing to see live and the highlight of the gig.

The week after I took a surreal trip to Norwich after work to perform at the launch of internet poetry – Bad Robot, an event organised by Catherine Woodward. Ross Sutherland was performing but sadly I didn’t get to speak to him. I spoke to Russell J Turner who was the surprise guest of the evening and had me itching to do his Googleseed poems. James Sykes was also reading and having not seen him before, I was really impressed, with his deadpan humour, he reminded me a bit of Tao Lin’s poetry. Thom James was seen, rather appropriately, in digital form. Unfortunately, not quite a hologram, but a really cool video flickering poetry across a screen.

I stayed in a hotel, *cough* B&B *cough*, nearby the station as I had to get up at like 5.30am or something ridiculous. They didn’t even have any tea:

Skip ahead to the following week and I finally went to Bang Said the Gun. It was all very exciting, entering the room to the likes of Billy Bragg pumping out of the speakers, monochrome scribbles of the event name all over the walls, and an animation reel for the stage backdrop. Not to mention the cool shakers used for applause. Although, after a day at work, shaking it to more than one song as a build up to the start was a bit like giving a never-ending hand-job. Some white stuff came out and got on my bag. But it has to be said, these guys know what they’re doing and put on a cracking poetry (or anti-poetry) night.

Also, Peter Hayhoe kind of remembered my surname, and having not officially met, this made me happy. He also performed a set himself, of which I particularly enjoyed a collaboration with a female guitarist about pulling girls in 1998, dressing up in the actual shirt of his heyday. Dan Cockrill was a great host, and I particularly like the way he step-touched to the music in between acts. Martin Galton also read some funny poems from a book of hate, along with a heart-warming poem of love about his son.

I didn’t get on the open mic as this event is so popular, the next space wasn’t until 25th October, so I’ll be back then. To be honest, I enjoyed the event so much, I would happily be there every week if I could. One of the main reasons for this was the performance from resident poet, Maria Ferguson (and she references Sarah Kane in this video!). She delivered a narrative poem, that really got me gripped and so I’d probably have to say she was my favourite of the evening.Though it’s hard picking favourites with such an array of talent, and diverse talent at that.

The Roundhouse Slam Champions performed and although I can’t remember their names, I wish I could because they were amazing. In turn, I felt wholly inadequate and old. One guy, who described himself as looking a bit like Sideshow Bob, gave a performance that mixed the comedic and the tragic, with some very poignant lines. Another guy gave a highly performative piece that incorporated subtle physical movements and voice control, giving the effect of cut-up text.

The female of the group had me welling up with  her poetry about mental illness, along with her sweet, soft voice, she came across as an emblem of strength and fragility. I hope I didn’t miss anyone from the group as I didn’t make any notes on the night!

The Ruby Kid was the last before the open mic (where I had to dash off). Back in the day he had complimented my poetry over MySpace, and I even performed alongside him at Speech Motion. I knew I would enjoy his set, but he was even better than I remembered. My favourite was ‘205 Panorama’ which had some really clicky lines – you know what I mean – lines that give you goosebumps and make your ears prick up. Sadly, I can’t find this one online so you’re going to have to see him live. It looks like he’s going to be running a night called ‘Howl’ in Shoreditch so I’ll have to check that out in the future.

The event also had some rather desultory activities such as throwing a balloon across the room to win a drink, and having a massive ‘bang’ hat. I wish I lived in Zone 2 and was like a full-time poet and writer, then I would be able to go to Bang every time.

In other news, my poem The Movement of Hands will be published in Issue 9 of Artemis Poetry Magazine. I’ve been sending out lots of submissions and I said to myself that I would be happy if even just one was accepted so I am very pleased! I’ve also got an exciting project in the pipeline for Novemeber 21st, with Apples & Snakes. Keep the date in your diary!



The Month Flew By Like A Bird

I can’t believe a month has gone arrghhhh! I’ve been really busy with these things:

– Graduating

– Celebrating

– Going to New York

– The Boyfriend

Whilst in New York, I went to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.  I wanted to perform in the open mic but my parents wanted to leave before midnight and the slam didn’t start until after then and the whole thing ended at 2am!!  Another thing that was different to a lot of the UK events is its popularity – I have never seen a poetry event so packed.  It’s a lot louder as well, with people clicking and making noises like ‘umm hmm!’ at certain lines as the audience show their appreciation.  The host killed time as one of the feature acts was late by asking where people were from, my mum shouting ‘England’ with a hilarious amount of pride in her voice, and also made everyone dance 80’s style to flashing lights and music, which was so bizarre you couldn’t help but laugh along, attempting to move slightly in the crush of the crowd.

The performers were enjoyable, typically American, humourous, intelligent and passionate.  Although we left early, I got a feel for the night, along with books and a t-shirt.

me in my NPC t-shirt... just washed my hair

While away, I did a lot of reading and finished Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (long post response to follow). I recommend them all.  I’m now reading Laura Dockrill’s Echoes.  It’s like Roald Dahl for adults… or kids who swear.

Last night I went to The Tea Box and did the open mic, apologising for anyone who may have wanted to see me the last time (when I had to pull out ON THE DAY because of my stupid eye ulcer).  Sadly, the owners weren’t there for me to apologise to in person.  I went on quite early and was glad to be able to relax and enjoy the likes of Anna Le, Amy Acre, and Harriet Cramer (and also Peter Hayhoe earlier on) plus many other acts I didn’t know the name of.  Donall Dempsey and Janice Windle did a great job hosting as well.  Harrie got very drunk which amused most people.  She said stuff such as wanting tits, but the link says she has the same size as me but skinnier, but then I sometimes say the same thing about myself, especially when drink, and especially when my friend Helen is there.  I’m shocked to see my waist is the same… I guess that’s the difference being 6 inches taller affords.  Anyway, she is a beautiful, talented, lovely lady with hilarious and we should both get published.  Ideally by Harper Collins.  I missed being like that, as in, drunk… which reminds me, I read a poem inspired by a programme I watched on Amy Winehouse, written about 3 years ago, and, as I didn’t record the gig, here it is:


I want to build
myself up to the highest height,

Just to look down
at the fall and be filled with fright.

I want to be, the
best I can be,

Prove them wrong
about my poetry.

Yeah, I want that
pretty face, with the tear stains on show,

Mascara up my eyes,
just so that they all know.

I want to be
perfect, to be a success,

I want to be one of
the best.

I want them all to
read my lips, read my mind,

Then drink myself
to destruction at the end of the night.

I want to fall in
love again with a good boy,

Just so he can
break my heart.

Because if I’m in a
mess, feel my life is destroyed

Then it at least
provides more material for my art.

And I can just pick
up my needle and thread,

Scrub with soap,
the sheets on my bed.

Try stitching my
life up to resemble what was,

Continue the search
for the Wizard of Oz,

Pray for a change
to a non-existent God,

Click my heels

Come home.

That copied kinda weird.  Anyway, I read a poems from actual book things that are published and shit!  To look all profesh.  One was called Flowers and was in issue 13 of The Delinquent.  The next was I Am No Better from the Workshop UEA Undergraduate Anthology which you can buy from places like The Hive, The Workshop and WATERSTONES in Norwich.  Hell yeah!  I have a poem in a book in the biggest book shop in the UK; the one that is still alive!  Although, I couldn’t see it there, but I saw it in The Hive, and The Hive is one of the best book shops ever, Stephen Fry agrees.  I also did Cinderella by heart, just to, you know, show that I can sometimes memorize stuff.

I think I shall end there.  Oh, also, i’m working at Bestival and need to know ideas for what I can go as on different days, the fancy dress theme is ‘Rockstars, Popstars and Divas’.  I just wanna  my own clothes but have things like a black messy wig with white streaks… think I may use it for Amy Winehouse, if that’s not in bad taste… which it shouldn’t because it’s like a tribute to her, because I like her music and she will be a legend, a legend ending in tragedy, but a ledge nevertheless.


Hammer & Tongue

Before I get onto my first experience of Hammer & Tongue, I have some exciting neeeewss!!  Me and Matty D are offishhh, like Facebook official, you get meee?!!  We had an amazing weekend, and after posting this picture, I’ll try to remain focused and professional and just write about poetry and shizzle like that.

Pouting Competition at Pride, London

I’ve been applying for loads of jobs and funding and stuff today, so am going to try to be as quick as possible about this and see if I can finish in under half an hour!  Friday, me and Matt when to Future Vintage, with a jazz band and poet, Tiffany Anne Tondut.  Matt had a bit of trouble working his way from Victoria to Waterloo, so we missed a bit, but it was good.  Bumped into Tim Wells, who told me about this event, it’s gonna be snazzy. My Gran’s visiting from France for her birthday, so I can’t make it.

We went to the Tate Modern for a bit and chilled on the grass near Udderbelly, before going to Poejazzi’s Festival Tonic.  Joshua Idehen was hosting and four amazing acts took the stage.  First, Harry Baker, who I am hoping will be hosting my gig at The Tea Box this Friday (8th July).  Next was Fiona Bevan, a singer who was probably my favourite performer of the day – a bit like Regina Spektor meets Shingai Shoniwa (The Noisettes) with a pinch of Ellie Golding.  Next was Ray Antrobus, who I’ve now probably mentioned a few times – Matt could particularly relate to the sober-guy-at-the-party poem after his sober months.  Lastly, another musical act Belle Moore-Benham with an incredibly powerful voice.

Oh yeah, and we saw this fox. Urban Fox. Pretty cool… if slightly scary.

Saturday, we went to see Sexing The Cherry, again, around Southbank.  It sounded cool, as it combined spoken word, animation and music.  At first I felt pretty tired and unimpressed, but towards the middle it picked up and there were some really good lines and ideas expressed, a great musical section, and beautiful acrobatics.

We went to Soho to check out Pride festivities… I was a terrible Londoner and couldn’t find Trafalgar Square so we missed some reality TV stars, but it was fun just walking around and I’m cracked open a couple of cans and we had a little dance and listened to some live music where we could find it.  We didn’t see the parade so I defos wanna check it out next year.  I saw Romy from The XX passing by in the opposite direction but it was pretty packed and we’re both pretty shy people, I guess, so we just moved with the crowd.  I think it was the first time I’ve seen her since the band got all big as well, so it’s pretty weird after seeing loads of pictures everywhere and music everywhere.

Anyway, Monday, Matt went back to Norwich (long distance gaaah) and I went to Hammer & Tongue with my mate Elliot Snook… he’s putting on a clubnight, which I hope to go to, so YOU should defos go as well.

Angry Sam was hosting but he didn’t seem to remember me from Glam Slam – I guess he’s a busy man.  Chester P and Mungo were the feature and they were on for about an hour.  It was really interesting and very different form when I saw CP support Jamie T in Norwich.  Some of it went a bit over my head, and then some of it made me unsure if it was bullshit or genius… there were probably a few too many drug references but ah well, do what you know and all that.  The Slam was afterwards and I was on penultimatly which had my nerves going a bit, but I was pleased with how it went and I came third place, which I didn’t expect and it’s pretty  cool to get a position even without winning.  I can always try again.  What was amazing was that, amongst a couple of compliments, one guy said I was his favourite of the night, and said the rhythm and delivery were particularly good.  In hindsight, I should have given him my business card, but I feel a bit cringe doing it without actually being asked… a bit too pushy? Or am I being silly?

Peter Hayhoe won, who I saw at Tooting Market, and he was cool. Ahhh. Gonna have to wrap up, I’ve gone way overboard.