I still feel like I’m just keeping afloat of things, and my dream for the next couple of days is to do some work today so I can have an extra-long lunch in the sun! This is definitely one of the perks of being freelance, and an example of when it can be worth scarifying some of Sunday to work.
This morning has been slow, I’ve just submitted some poetry to competitions/magazines, and I’m currently roasting some sweet potato for a Caribbean soup for lunch. I’ll try to do some content writing afterwards, but also thinking of going outside for a breather and maybe play some ping pong.
This week, I’ve attended some workshops, though the second one started whilst I was on my way back from a job, and in Sainsbury’s picking up some essentials. It’s a reminder to not do too much both in and out of lockdown. The main workshop was one by Cecilia Knapp, who I love as both a poet and facilitator.
I also watched a Zoom with Burning Eye Books (my publisher), featuring Agnes Török, Jonathan Kinsman, Laurie Eaves and a poetry film from Malaika Kegode. I thought the whole thing was fantastic, and want to re-watch the film, Wide as the Sea, which you can do online.
Aside from the usual work, I’ve been trying to memorise a poem I’m going to record, I hosted another Stanza feedback workshop for Forest Hill poets on Friday, and I’m really excited to edit the work, which I wrote during Cecilia Knapp’s workshop. So, creative moments are still sporadic, but by the first Monday April, I really have to change that! I can’t believe it’s spring!
Yesterday, I went on my skateboard for a few hours, had a great meal of tofu crispy bites, Korean beef wraps, courgette fritters, and bao pork buns, before watching Hamilton, which was amazing! Now my stomach is rumbling, so it’s time for me to finish the soup for lunch!
So, it’s been an eventful week for me. Since handing in my MA coursework and having my last day of work at Sainsbury’s last Sunday, I have started my new job as an English Mentor at a secondary school in Bethnal Green.
It’s been such an overwhelming experience so far but most of the staff are friendly and the students seem okay, though I won’t start teaching them for a week or so more. My role is a fairly new initiative to improve literacy and GCSE grades, so I’m basically like a tutor for C/D borderline students. Time goes a lot quicker than working at Sainsbury’s and even though I’ve mostly been doing admin stuff, it’s been great to get used to just being there. My week is now over and I’m off to visit my friend Hannah, who has moved to York.
I’ve been glad to have had quite a busy week after school as well! I’ve had a few trips to the post office for eBay, where I’m still selling lots of things at great prices! Other than that, on Tuesday, I went to see my course-mate Lydia Martin’s photography exhibition at Spitalfields. It was called Another Voice That Speaks and was really interesting, so I nabbed some free postcards! I may even use them for inspiration for students to work from, as I think my job is pretty independent – I even have to make my own time table!
On Wednesday I sat in the gardens next to the Museum of Childhood (which I really need to check out!) and finished the Year 7’s text ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ in the sunshine. I thought it was a great book and would like to watch the film. I went to Nando’s and really enjoyed it. I thought I had a bit of time so I had a mini dessert, and I must say, I really recommend the custard tart, yum! I then went along to The Gallery Cafe for some spoken word.
I went on my own, but got to meet Sophia Blackwell, who was lovely. I found out that not only is she an amazing poet, but she works at Bloomsbury Publishing! It got my thinking about my career path and that maybe I’d like to get back on that track at some point, since doing an internship during uni at Penned in the Margins.
Deanna Rodger started off as the support for the event, ran by Apples & Snakes. I think I recognised some poems, but I hadn’t seen her in… it must be years. I was pretty surprised when she said she had been doing this for about 6 years, as that means she started out at the same time as me! I need to up my game! I really enjoyed her set and thought the whole even had a great range of poets. I love her rawness and emotional expression. I know she has connections with the theatre, and I have seen a lot of people over-act poetry, but Deanna makes none of those mistakes and is so natural and holds a lot of truth in the words she delivers.
The next was Ronnie McGrath, who I’d never seen before. I loved the way he transported me to the ’60s, the way he played with sound and the strength of meaning. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it, and I also thought it was cool that he read from the page, because it just shows you that you can still give an amazing performance without knowing it all off by heart!!
The headliner was Buddy Wakefield. I had only just heard of him and listened to some recordings on Spotify and since he was performing near my new work, I thought it would be unmissable. And it was. I’m so glad I went. His performance had both strength and vulnerability. Tragedy and comedy. Ramblings and retelling. And glitter. Plus, an ad-lib finale with a beatboxer from the crowd, and McGrath on vocals. There was a reference to giving a pencil to a man in prison, and him putting it in his pocket. Some people laughed and I just didn’t get it, so that’s been niggling me because I feel a bit stupid! There was just so much in the performance, and yeah, it was ‘heavy’ but I like that. I wished others could have experienced it. I wish I could fill up a bottle of it and send it over seas to share it. I wish the recordings were enough. But they’re not. So, if you ever get the opportunity again, go see him! And it only cost £4!
He hadn’t toured in a while, and it was all rather emotional. It felt so good to be there. So, fantastic things like this happening provide yet another reason to live in Bethnal Green, or round abouts that area. Sorry, Worcester Park, you are not culturally stimulating and I don’t know if you ever will be.
A picture paints 1000 words today. For my birthday weekend I had a family BBQ, followed by friends and fajitas. We went to Bacchus in Kingston after a few drinks at The Mill. Matt and I got home around 3.30am. I went hungover for an eye appointment and was rewarded with a roast dinner. On my actual birthday I opened present and cards, and the sunshine stopped so Matt and I went bowling. We won one game each and played arcade games, pool and ate candyfloss.
He went back to Norwich for his job seekers appointment (but he has a job[s] now – yay!) I had a Chinese take-away with my parents and watched Towie, 56 Up and Desperate Housewives. I joined Matt in Norwich the next day.
We forego-ed a party sadly, but watched Eagle Vs. Shark. We saw Scroobius Pip at the Dragon Hall in Norwich, with great support including one of my favourite poets, Russell J Turner. I was working for Shake the Dust in Cambridge on Thursday and Friday. After the second workshop I dashed off, Cornish pasty in hand, to see the Mystery Jets in Brixton, with support from Theme Park and Slow Club.
Saturday night I went to my friend’s house, got more pressies and watched Two Lovers, stayed up until 3am and then was back at Sainsbury’s on Sunday, where I sprained my wrist.
Since I’m saving for my MA whilst on little more than minimum wage, and, I’m pretty sure this recession stuff is still rolling, I thought it would be useful to think of little ways to save money. One tool I should point out is the Drink Aware website, as it promotes healthier drinking habits too. Out of interest, this month I kept track of how I’ve spent my fivers. Although I have at times given into the urge to splurge on sale items I can’t afford, it is often the little things that add up and make all the difference between a a healthy balance and, well, overdrawn. As my mum always says, ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’
So I looked at ways that I have been frittering my fivers! This way I can see what my spending habits are and whether I am spending it on necessities or luxuries. It went a little something like this…
– 04/01/12: £1.50 – Basmati Rice from Iceland.
– 07/01/12: £3.26 – Chocolate Crêpes, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and 5 Aero Xmas Trees, from Sainsbury’s.
– Chocolates and a present: £4.50, from Sainsbury’s.
– 10/01/12: £1.52 for postage of poetry submissions.
So, looking over my spending, I spend a lot on chocolate, which tends to be when I’m visiting my boyfriend. I had a feeling I was doing this and told him maybe we should try not to do it so much. The only necessities were the rice and travel for work. The postage was also a wise spend. And the present could be argued as unnecessary but I think it was worthwhile!
Okay, I’m partial to a bit of chocolate in the evening but I think I can go for a couple of days without (as I write, there’s a strip of chocolate in the cupboard which I am foregoing to get some things ticked off my to-do list. So, if I stopped buying as much chocolate, I could save approximately £10-15 a month. That’s £120-180 a year! That could practically get me a festival ticket or a cheap holiday! That could buy me more poetry books – even though I have around 10 to read, my Gran got me a membership for the Poetry Society which I want to use. And I think supporting poetry is probably more important than chocolate (although that arguably helps with serotonin levels and increases happiness – yay!)
So, if you fancy not frittering your fiver, you could use it to buy some poetry… perhaps even help me out and get a copy of my book/eBook, as I could do with the feedback (and the chocolate money – okay, what if I promise I won’t fritter?) So, I’m not doing anything silly like giving up chocolate, but I am thinking more wisely about spending so much on it, so maybe I’ll only get some if it’s like a really good deal! 😉
I’ll end this post with a new poem that Matt and I are going to use for a project we’re working on.
New year, same you; but with added shine,
a slicker rhyme, I’m feeling fine,
each day is mine – and I’m on fire.
I am climbing, I am always getting higher,
as I shoot and grow,
my roots, I know, are firmly on the ground.
I am free to feel, myself, so real,
I am finally unbound.
The last couple of weeks has been great. My lovely boyfriend greeted me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. This may not seem like a big deal to you but I’m not used to such romantic gestures and it is, in fact, the first bouquet I have ever been given by a boy! Well, at 22, he is a man. But this had me all overwhelmed and girly. Although I always say my favourite flowers are Antirrhinums, I don’t think they do bouquets haha! These pretty Roses are a such a classic and it had me smiling for days to receive them.
Last Tuesday I saw Billy Bragg for the first time. I wasn’t familiar with his music but I knew Sound of Rum, having supported Kate Tempest, and was recently familiar with Akala from the programme Life of Rhyme. I listened to some Billy on spotify and decided it was unmissable! I tried to get some friends interested but had no luck, so I went on my own. I went to Nando’s first and annoyingly the girl who served me got the table number wrong so I basically ended up missing most of Sound of Rum which sucked, but what I saw was amazing, as ever. Both Kate Tempest and Billy Bragg’s words were so inspirational that I welled up.
The whole event was really empowering and there was a great sense of solidarity. I would have loved to be in the standing section but I had my laptop with me and that wouldn’t have been sensible. I met a nice Billy Bragg fan though and so that was cool as well!
I have been working hard at Sainsbury’s and have done about 11 hours overtime, woop! It’s pretty good working there, I’m an even bigger fan of the company now, especially finding out they do a lot of funding for the arts. Also, can you believe it’s been about 11 years since Jamie Oliver started his partnership with Sainsbury’s?! That’s like, half of my life, argh! The only thing I’d like to change is to work two days and not three, and not to work Saturdays! I’m probably going to miss Million Women Rise because of it! Plus, I was late for Reclaim the Night because I finished work at the meeting time. I attempted to take the tube part of the way but ended up walking to the Camden Centre and being around half-an-hour early. I contacted the other UEA Feminist Society committee members and eventually, I heard a roar from around the corner and saw some people looking. I had found the march! I ran past two guys making gestures and spouting something nonsensical.
Adrenaline rushed through my body as I heard the chants clearer “Whatever we wear, wherever we go yes means yes and no means no!” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Sexual Violence has got to go!” I managed to meet up with the group pretty quickly and was so happy to be able to join for the last five or ten minutes of the march.
We gathered in the hall of the Camden Centre and before I even had time for the toilet, the speakers started…
Women against the cuts – Eve Featherstone
Abortion rights – Kate Smurthwaite
NUS National Women’s Officer – Estelle Hart
Million Women Rise – Femi Otitoju
Although the reality of things like the cuts, particularly in relation to violence against women, were daunting, it was another inspiring evening. Cutting billions of pounds of funding for organisations that help victims of violence, stopping free contraception and abortions… it is all making steps backwards. This was illustrated shockingly by Kate, pulling out a wire coat-hanger. The fact is that forced pregnancy will also bring the country down economically, and will be extremely harmful for those from low-income backgrounds because they will not be able to afford unwanted pregnancies, financially, let alone emotionally!
I ended the night with some jerk chicken and a cheeky bit of rice from the nice man serving me, for £2. And with that, I’ll wrap it up. xxx
So, this week I went to Jawdance. I had to go after Chris Syrus, and his poetry band. He was delivering a great message for some school children, and it sounded great combined with the musician, and the female singer had an amazing voice! I thought I bet I’m next. And I was. Still, it went okay and there were a couple of people who said they enjoyed my poem. I had been to Nando’s (again) with Hannah, but she had gone. I had got a sore throat after talking to my friend Natalie on Skype the day before (I’m not sure how big a part the conversation played) and I was starting to feel even worse. Although I couldn’t find any online material on her, Subi Shah was another highlight.
On Thursday, my boyfriend Matt (who isn’t picking up his phone grrr… hence I’m making use of the time by writing this and watching Stephen Fry on BBC Iplayer.) … where was I? Okay, so we went to Wetherspoons for some dinner and made it just in time to the Donald Hope Library, which I had never been to before. I’m not going to lie… I could have really done with the £25 prize, but the winner gave a great speech. Gutted that I didn’t even make the top 5, but there were some kind comments, and I’m happy to try again next time!
Kathryn Corrick was guest speaker for my MA course this week and we were set a task to create a story from one of two photos from her Feet on the Overground project. I attempted at a Twitter/Facebook story but it didn’t work, so as a back-up, I did a YouTube video. As I’m so busy, genius that I am, I dried my hair whilst filming the still photograph and created a kind of train movement/sound image, which I annotated on the website itself, with speech bubbles.
I got offered background work in a film, but being realistic about money, time, MA work, and wanting to see my boyfriend this week… I had to pull out. But it seems like MSFT is a great place to look out for opportunities like that. With this cold not getting any better, I am in deep need of a rest… and going up to Norwich for a few days is the closest I’ll get to a rest these days! Funnily enough, the next event I’m going to is a Speech Motion one! I’m hoping to feel better by then, but at the moment I’m powering through my last shift of the week at Sainsbury’s. I just hope UEA London have sorted the bloody heating system out, because if that room gets any colder I’m going to shrink away into a giant wooly scarf.
Also! Russell, who puts together Apples & Snakes London events, says I’m overdue for a guest spot at Jawdance! Watch this space!
Had a busy week! Tuesday I went out with my friend Laura and my ex-housemate Kirstie (who is travelling around India as of today!) Me and Laura had Nando’s (standard) before meeting Kirstie to go to the Camden Barfly for a gig. For only a fiver we got to see Supercute and the inspiring Miss Kate Nash in her side project The Receeders. It was definitely worth seeing and an interesting path for Kate Nash. Also spotted her boyf Ryan Jarman at the bar.
Last night, after a really stressful day trying to work out PDFs, trying to deal with too many DM boot bids on Ebay and a shift at Sainsbury’s (oh, and after walking in the wrong direction to the venue – typical) I found myself a haven at The Gallery Cafe for The Word House poetry event. I saw a friendly face in Captain of the Rant, (check out his event, there’s one this Friday I plan to go along to!) and after a quick chat and a rather unimportant embarrassing incident I found myself in, Christian Watson took to the stage. He was incredible! I don’t really know what else to say. It started on a high and that high just did not stop.
The open mic included the likes of Emma Jones who performed her winning set from this year’s Glam Slam (and myself, performing my winning poem from the ‘Loss’ category). John Berkavitch continued the features and was also amazing, and played with the audiences emotions with a poem that began with a cliché, went forward with comedy and ended with words to send shivers across your skin. He then told us to read The Empty Space, which is so cheap on Amazon I may have to add it to my huge pile of books to read. I’m currently reading Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. It’s massive.
Last up before a dash for the tube (both him and me) was Inua Ellams. I have said before how lovely he comes across and he is so genuine. Not only that, but he has an amazing way with words, and also an amazing Graphic Artist. Jealous much. All in all, a wonderful evening, raising money for Oxfam, yay! And I even made it home for a late-night viewing of X-factor.
I’ve been working as usual, doing lots of useful and interesting MA stuff (including a gruelling day about accounting) and spent a couple of days with my boyfriend in Norwich, forcing him to come with me to a Feminist Society discussion group, and coming back to his only to watch a rom-com. Sorry love. Oh yeah! And we did Yoga. About 2 hours of it! It was really hardcore, seriously, my legs hurt a couple of days later and everything. Oh yeah, he’s starting up this Sketch Club – if you’re creative in any way, get involved! I also saw my Gran for dinner with my parents which was a welcome return from the coach journey from Norwich.
Matt made me these cool timetables that you can draw and wipe off. It’s really good because it gets your mind focused and you feel good ticking things off. I’ve missed a few things off but I think I’m doing pretty well! I wonder if I can count my Sainsbury’s work as exercise since it’s manual? Hmmm!