Acts of Kindness

After writing this post, I redrafted a poem from a couple of years ago (something I’m meaning to do with a lot of poems). The act of kindness described in this post made me think of a workshop with Deanna Rodger, where the prompt “what’s the kindest thing you’ve done?” inspired an earlier draft of the poem below. Let me know what you think.

The last kind thing I did was spending
money on something I had no interest in.
I did that for someone else.

Thinking about kindness now,
it’s tied up to money somehow:
an exchange. A smart black suit,

food and bills. After a month
I wanted to raise money for charity,
wanted to run further than I’d been before.

Lately, I’ve felt tension in my back;
weekends and 9-5s do not line up.
Because we all need money, don’t we?

And so it seems, I want my own
gratification more than I want
to help move things forward from this pain.

The Last Word Festival

The Last Word Festival is a week-long annual festival of spoken word events at The Roundhouse. In addition to  the scratch show for ‘Dear Adventure’ with Kid Glove, I watched ten other shows. You can find five of them reviewed briefly here, and another five reviewed on The Norwich Radical website.

Sophie Rose

Quiet Violence

I hadn’t seen Sophie Rose perform, and this ending up being of of my favourite shows of the festival. Rose had a natural quality to her performance, as she moved from narrative story-telling to poetic details, successfully blending humour with more serious moments. The ‘quiet violence’ began with high heels, which made me think I should get rid of mine, dusty because they look so much better in my wardrobe that on my feet, where I’d eventually be stumbling and sporting some of the ankle-protection shown on Rose’s subtle costume. The concept of the show appeared to me as a unique one, yet it was so relatable that it was both hilarious (who knew bags could be so funny?) and, dare I say, life changing. By the end, it encouraged the audience to do what makes them happy, rather than what they feel obliged to do, to find the people who would make them soup when they’re ill, and to change what they don’t like rather than simply put up with it. Sophie Rose wants to know, what’s your quiet violence?

Producing Your Own Poetry Show

Throughout the festival there were a range of workshops offered. Having seen Sophie Rose’s show, I was curious as to how this would also work with a workshop about how others could produce shows. Rose made the room a comfortable space, where we worked individually and as a group to discuss different aspects of making a show. It was difficult to contain in the hour slot, and she generously offered extra time, as well as the space for collaborative discussion under her direction, and gave everyone detailed notes and the offer to contact her. One of the useful tips I picked up was about distilling your show idea down to one word; my word ended up being ‘self-acceptance’, which isn’t what I expected, but shows an idea of what the audience should get from it as well as the artist.

Luke Wright

What I Leaned From Johnny Bevan

Poetry veteran, Luke Wright, previewed his new show amongst many emerging artists. With many shows already under his belt, I was excited to see what this one would bring. Sitting in the audience, I was already excited by the music playing, and as the show began, we heard crafted guitar twangs (from Art Brut’s Ian Catskilken) to a backdrop of changing scene sketches. I was filled with nostalgia of my own early twenties, that were often filled with drinking in council estates with mates and days spent in my first years at UEA, locations both featured in the show. Yet this nostalgia also gave a sense of timelessness, a dystopian feel, which the tale of Johnny Bevan represented, that we remain to the social class we’re born in, and that just as previous governments reinforced these class divisions, so will the current one. With the election results still fresh, the poetic narrative of Johnny Bevan painted a bleak future, but perhaps, in this gritty reality, it is a reminder as to why it is important to keep fighting. Essentially, this is a story, but the poetry of the show is not merely due to the use of rhyme, but the depth of meaning behind the words.

Poetry Reincarnation

I didn’t know what I had let myself in for at the time – Poetry Reincarnation started at around 7pm, and it was stilling going past the scheduled end time of 11.15pm. I had also attended part of the earlier programme of events, with a panel discussion on poetry and, essentially, its importance in our lives creatively and politically. The evening event kicked off with Malika Booker, giving a somewhat unspoken progression this world has made beyond the Beat Poet generation of white men, and its unmentioned allegations of pedophilia, and support of the NAMBLA. Since finding this information out, I now always feel uneasy about this kind of worship of poets such as Allen Ginsberg. There were around twenty poets, so I’m going to focus on my favourites. Booker was one highlight, having recently read ‘Pepperseed’ and she was followed by Cecila Knapp, who represented the under-30s and did a stellar job all weekend. Libby Houston was a poet from the older generation of poets performing since the 60s who impressed with her poetics, humour and wide smile.

Kei Miller reminded me that I want to buy his collection, and poets such as John Hegley and Elvis McGonagall brought excitement to the event in the form of rhyme, rhythm and comedy. Music was used effectively throughout the show, breaking up the mass of spoken word, and including more experimental and psychedelic parts that were evocative of the 60s, yet Gwyneth Herbert was a powerhouse in this respect, with a voice that ranged from soft and subtle to loud and proud. Janaka Stucky was a poet I was unfamiliar with, and coming from Boston, it felt a privilege to see him perform his work. Salena Godden, recently mentioned by Hannah Silva at The Place for Poetry, was even more of a delight to watch after hearing this analysis. Francesca Beard was a poet I recently argued at She Grrrowls, and I saw her do some of the same, as well as new material, and again, she left me wanting more, with every word layered with meaning, yet also dishing out a dry, witty humour throughout her set. I sadly missed the end of Dr John Cooper Clarke’s set, and leaving after a couple of sexist, tired wife jokes, I was disappointed with what I did see, but hopefully I’ll be better impressed when I see him again in July. The way poets such as JCC are often held on a pedestal, it seems almost sacrilege to dare say his jokes were sexist, and as much as I want to suggest that perhaps I just couldn’t keep to the the speed of his speech, I can’t deny that these cliched wife jokes just don’t tickle me. And surely, if we want our poetry to be truly revolutionary, I can’t be too scared to say something is sexist. What this event did showcase, as well as the non-programmed event simultaneously taking place in the Made in Camden bar, of which I was meant to be a part, is the vibrancy and variety of contemporary poetry today, and the importance of learning about poets who came before us.

Cecilia Knapp

Finding Home

In case you’ve not noticed, Cecilia Knapp has been a regular feature in The Last Word Festival. This scratch was presented almost in full, stripped down against a backdrop of a blue moon sinking behind a horizon. We saw the first half, where Knapp delivered her usual poetic narrative, mostly in free verse, that lulled the sold-out audience into her world, painted so beautifully with her words. I felt there was a danger of romanticising things here, but this was possibly because cigarette references personally jar with me. I know this criticism is probably unfounded, and otherwise that I would struggle to find any room for improvement here, because however beautiful the language, this is her life. ‘Finding Home’ is a piece that manages to be both autobiographical, and I found that I could relate to the words, and I was taken on a journey, so that by the end – or the half-way point – I wasn’t ready for the lights to come up.

17.07.15 – 18.07.15 – Lovebox Festival

Apples & Snakes : The Writing Room

Legendary spoken word promoters Apples and Snakes present an epic line-up of raising stars, and new voices from the Writing Room programme share the stage with the most dynamic wordsmiths the capital has to offer. Poetry with bite.

Roundhouse – The Last Word, with Kid Glove

Spoken word, storytelling and live performance on the road…

The Roundhouse is a breeding ground of spoken word talent, producing some of the best poetry stars on the scene today. Join us for an afternoon of fresh emerging talent, featuring new voices and rising stars. Not to be missed!

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Poetry Rivals 2013/14 Winner: Paradise

It’s been a long time since I wrote my poem Paradise, and nearly a year since I won first place in the Poetry Rivals competition. The poem was inspired by the No More Page 3 campaign, placing judgement on society, the newspaper, and not on the models.

Thanks to all those involved with Poetry Rivals, including host and mentor Mark Grist, judges Hollie McNish, Mixy and Tim Clare. A massive thanks to those at Poetry Rivals HQ who have had to put up with my emails, drawing out the filming with ideas of parks, fish and chips shops and newsagents. There was a moment where my local newsagents from my childhood may have been involved, but to my relief, they stopped responding (more on that when I write my one woman show!) Thanks also then go to the Roundhouse for being able to film the poem there. Lastly, a big thanks to Guy Larsen for his fantastic filming.

If you liked this poem, please buy a copy of my poetry pamphlet from Nasty Little Press. There are other poems too, and you might like them. It’s signed, limited edition and just £2. Themes touch on topics such as multiculturalism, education, love, the pursuit of happiness and having a digitally native childhood. Or else come to a gig; my next performance is at the Festival of Ideas as part of Open Generation on Saturday 11th April. I’ll bring some books along so you don’t have to pay P&P.

Hello 2015

I’m currently typing up notes from BARcademy, a writing and professional development week with Burn After Reading that took place in August 2014. That was 6 months ago. There’s a little indication of how my life is going.

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So, I think it’s about time to have a look at the previous year and what I’m currently up to. One of my greatest achievements of 2014 (and my life) was being published by Nasty Little Press, and this was followed by an incredible summer of performing at a total of five festivals. I performed at Latitude, Secret Garden Party, Camp Bestival, In the Woods and Bestival. I also managed to fit in a sneaky four day holiday to Spain. I was ill for at least three weeks because of all this activity – just in time for the new term at work. I graduated from the Roundhouse Poetry Collective programme and formed Kid Glove. We now have a logo too – designed by Matthew Dickerson. We’re currently working a Twitter and a website… and on a show about adventure! This will be scratched at the Roundhouse’s Last Word Festival on Sunday 31st May at 1.30pm. Tickets are free, so book yourself a spot now. We’re resident artists at the Roundhouse this year, which is really cool.

KIDGLOVE_FINAL1-01This year has seen a bit of success so far (though I would like to be booked for more features, please). I am delighted to have had a poem accepted into Popshot Magazine! This will be available from 1st April and I’m thrilled to be in it after a lot of submissions in the past. I have also filmed my ‘Paradise’ poem with Guy Larsen, and I’m currently waiting to see it and show it to everyone, which should be by the end of the month – exciting! I will also be working with Joelle Taylor to produce a political poem in the run up to the election, which will be performed at the Festival of Ideas 2015 as part of Open Generation on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th April.

Lastly, make a note in your diaries for the next She Grrrowls event, taking place at Apples & Pears on Thursday 19th March. It will feature Maria Ferguson, Natacha Bryan, Kitten Killers and Cat Bear Tree. Join the event here. Please support these next two events – if we get a good turn out we will be able to confirm the next few months.

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Ben Howard: How not to do a gig.

So, I’m thinking of creating some tips for artists after seeing Ben Howard at the Roundhouse, where I was on the guest list after being part of the Poetry Collective there. Sadly I had this idea from a ‘what not to do’ perspective as I was utterly disappointed in Howard’s performance, as were many other audience members. Our only solace was a good old British moan afterwards.

A British lad, one might expect that typical dose of modesty. Actually, it looked more like this Venn diagram:

At times he was overly self-critical, saying ‘you know when you wake up and sometimes you’re not funny and sometimes you are, well today I’m not funny.’ Ensue sparse polite laughter (what this meant to be irony?) Yet, as he whisked through songs from his new album, he told fans ‘Is this how it works? You get free tickets, you get what you’re given.’ This felt deeply insulting to the audience; was our time worth nothing? I would have happily had a night at home instead of this gig, and goodness knows I needed one.

There would surely be people who travelled further than my hour-ish journey to see him. I had been waiting to see him for years and never been able to, and I had been listening to his old album in excitement. Yet, there was a woman in front of me who knew all the words to the only song he’s released from the new album, suggesting there were bigger fans than me out there. How do you think they felt?

Howard also spent a lot of the set sitting down whilst most of the audience were standing, unable to see. Some would have come straight from work, some spending money, no Ben, not on tickets, but on food and drink, and whatever else, to go to the gig. And he’s sitting down. I’m sorry, genuinely, do you have ME? Do you have an actual reason why you needed to sit down? The audience, whoever they are, came to see you. YOU! And you owe them respect if it really was such a privilege to be performing at the Roundhouse after being at The Enterprise a few years ago.

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My friend, Hannah, and I bought lovely beef chilli burritos and sweet potato fries for dinner from The Enterprise – that was the best part of the night. This sentimental comment from Howard just seemed contradictory and his point was made clear as he left the stage without an encore and no old album tracks. Do you think we want to buy the album now? Do you think we’re dying to see him live again? I’m afraid not. It may be fun for the artist to play all new material, but it’s about the relationship between the audience too, and whilst we would have been happy to listen to some new material, it would have been best to also play songs we know and love. Instead, the performance was alienating and underwhelming.

So, some lessons to learn from Ben Howard:
1. Give a mixture of what you would like to do and what you know the audience wants.
2. Put your all into it no matter how big or small.
3. Don’t be a dick: appreciate and respect your audience.

Nasty Little Press and Festival News

I’m thrilled to announce that this July I will be publishing a mini-book of work as an part of the ‘Intro’ series with Nasty Little Press. In 2011/12 I completed an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship (aka Survival Guide for Artists) and one of the goals I wrote done specified getting a pamphlet published by Nasty Little Press, so… two years later, life feels pretty unreal right now. The books have just come through for me to number and sign – they are a limited edition print of 200 and cost just £2 and will be available to by online and in person.

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Under the ‘Stage’ section of goals in my Arts Plan, after ‘organise my own series of poetry events’ was ‘perform at Latitude’. Through dreaming big and planning pragmatically, I am slowly making steps with my ambitions.

 

 

So, this summer I am extremely excited (and a bit terrified) to be performing at a total of four festivals. First up is Latitude, where I will be performing a mixture of old and new work as a New Voice at 2pm on the Saturday, and 8.30pm on the Sunday on the Poetry stage. Since winning the 16-25 category of Poetry Rivals, I will also be performing an hour long set at Secret Garden Party  at 5pm on the Sunday at the new Amphitheatre stage. Everyone is free to come and go within that hour (except my boyfriend).

Then I’ll be heading to Camp Bestival and Bestival as part of Roundhouse Poetry Collective of 2013-14. This was also listed in my Arts Plan as a goal. At Camp Bestival the collective will performing on Guardian Literary Institute stage (5-6pm) and The Den Stage (Saturday 11am-12pm), and at Bestival you will find us in the The Amphitheatre. Although only a couple of poets photographed on the websites are actually in the collective, we will soon be officially launching ourselves out there, equip with a new name, and hopefully some promotional photographs. We will be performing our final showcase at the Roundhouse on Wednesday 20th August.

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