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?

Spring Time Delights

The sun has got his (her?) hat on and I’m coming out to play! I had the past couple of weeks off work, and as much as I like my job… it’s pretty cool not to be working. I went to the Schwitters exhibition at Tate Britain – I’m going to review this for a submission, so more on that later. I graduated from my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship (with Distinction) and my poetry collection was even mentioned before making my way across the podium. I had a lovely meal at Tramshed afterwards and then went on to a meeting for She Grrrowls, my new Feminist group that I’m running with Emily Prichard. We’re going to be doing arts events alongside it. This is probably a good time to mention that we’re looking for female spoken word artists to perform in Kingston on 22nd July. Head to the contact page to express your interest! You need to be 26 or under as it is part of IYAF.

photo (7)I have lots of exciting news (some of which I still can’t share at the moment). Firstly, I have been invited to hold a stall at the Saboteur Awards on 29th May. I shall be bringing lots of lovely books (I have over 30 copies – eeek!) as well as t-shirts, badges, stickers and audio CDs. I’m excited about attending the awards as I will get to see if Shake the Dust wins an award, woop woop!

Also, in case you haven’t heard, it’s NaPoWriMo aka National Poetry Writing Month. You’re meant to write 30 poems, so one poem per day. I’ve had a couple of catch-up days but I’d say I’d doing pretty well. I’ll probably post the best ones when I’m done. Anyway, I’m doing much better than when I tried to do a novel… though I have started reading a book about novel writing – one day! *shakes fist*

I’ve also been asked to be the resident poet for Bang Said the Gun, in May. I’m really excited as I’ve been wanted to go there more and this means that I will have to be there every night and I get to perform. I have a plus one each night, so I’m hoping some of my poetic, and perhaps non-poetic friends will come with me.

I’ve also got a plus one for tomorrow’s scratch performance of (part of) my piece ‘Circles’ that I created from the ‘Word’s a Stage’ project by Apples & Snakes, where I was mentored by Malika Booker. It takes place at Hackney’s Picturehouse Cinema, and is called ‘Scratch That Hackney!’

 

What’s Wrong with the Youth of Today?

Nothing. There’s no more “wrong” about the youth of today than anyone else. Although people can draw evidence from the likes of last summer’s riots, it depends what you pay attention to… and hey, guess what, there were older adults involved in the riots too. Just under half of rioters were aged 18-24 according to The Guardian, and although that age group (which I am within) is considered “youth” this is a key stage in everyone’s life where you after effectively a young adult. It’s just way too generalised to tarnish everyone with the same brush – which was shown by the aftermath of the riots. Now, moving on to more positive things… I’m going to be writing about the great talent and activity of the youth of today and why we, as society, should nurture and develop those under 25, in order for them/us to progress into successful adults.

Yesterday I was part of the International Youth Art’s Festival (IYAF) in Kingston. It was the opening night at the Rose Theatre. As I got there, it was like walking into a madhouse/maze and I didn’t know where I was meant to go and wasn’t given a wristband so was dashing about a bit before the start, but I trusted the staff would come to get me when I was needed and just relaxed to enjoy the first half.

I am part of this massive festival!!!

I was truly blown away at how talented everyone who performed was and felt so privileged to be a part of the opening night, and the festival as a whole. The stage opened to multi-coloured neon footsteps and hands dancing in pitch black. This was ‘The Celtic Colleens’ and instantly I knew I was in for an amazing night. Snow White gave a funny twist to the traditional tale, aimed at children from 5+ but fun for all. The Tiffinians were suited up and gave a range of songs, including a rendition of ‘Postman Pat’ – though my favourite was the first be-bop style song.

Forest Gate performed an extract from the play ‘No Exit’ and I’d say this was for an older audience as I had to engage my brain a bit for this one! ‘The Dreaming’ delivered Shakespeare with a really amusing and musical take on it. Definitely one to see the whole of, ‘The Big Wheel’ had a selection of people from the mass of 300 people doing drag runs and cartwheels in a circle – sure to be quite a sight, especially from an aerial view!

‘The Gods Are Not To Blame’ saw a group coming from all the way in Nigeria! I loved the drumming in this, as well as the amazing dancing and traditional costumes. ‘Robyn Mae & The Impressionists’ made a smashing closing of the first half. I was wowed by the front-woman’s (or front-girl?) confidence and her voice had a great quality. It was really powerful, but I especially liked the softer tones as the vocals were so silky-smooth at those points. She covered Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag’ and exceeded the original. The only critique I would have of it was that her voice sounded best when you could hear her good ol’ English accent and if she hadn’t done what Jessie does and use a faux-American accent for words such as ‘dance’ she would have stepped it an another notch. And secondly, it niggled me that she stated her cover of ‘Valerie’ was by Amy Winehouse, when it’s by The Zutons. However, her rapping along to JJ’s track and her incredible stage presence more than made up for that.

I was first up in the second half and I was so nervous I was shaking… and I’m not usually like that. However, I think I came across confidently and I was very pleased with my performance – hopefully Tuesday at The Cricketers will go just as well x6. The Kingston Youth Big Band were next and I caught a bit of it and it made me very jealous that I can’t play an instrument but sounded fantastic that these young people have had the opportunity to learn how to play and then dedicate such time and effort to it.

‘Little Cauliflower’ gave a great show which took me back to my days of the Little Angel Puppet Theatre I went to a lot when I was younger. IYAF has also put an album together by lots of talented young people, and one of them was featured at this night. I can’t remember the name of the guy, but he was just 19 and beat-boxed so well he rivaled Intensi-T. He was so confident and his performance was so skilled, entertaining and witty.

‘Eddance’, I believe, did a really intriguing dance routine that seemed to merge genres. I loved the expression and the narrative style to the dances. Jaz Delorean then took to the piano and amazed me. He brought so much emotional intensity that I laughed, I cried and quite frankly, went a bit crazy. Lastly, there was ‘Circus Suburbia’ which was an incredible mix of puppetry, dance and acrobatics, and just magical.

To see any of these acts, just go to the IYAF website and check out the programme. Afterwards I got a couple of compliments but wanted to get home so gave a few flyers out before leaving the rest with the Rose Theatre. I even got a husband and wife who weren’t into poetry saying they enjoyed my set, commenting on the performance piece ‘Cinderella’ which I noticed I got a few laughs from in the audience, yay!

This post is getting rather long and I’m tired and have work tomorrow, so… moving on! Shake the Dust Final!!! Another incredible day with so much talent.

So, Jacab Sam-La Rose did a fantastic job as host and the Peer Mentors (including Catherine Woodward who’s featuring at my event on August 22nd) gave a great opening to the show. I’m just going to summarise because my head was filled to the brim with poetry. The only photo I took was of the opening slammers, representing Yorkshire. I guess you could say, I knew they were the winners! Everyone was amazing but I totally agreed with the judges decisions for the awards. London got the best performances and Sheringham got best line (brap brap for the East).

Speech DeBelle gave a great performance, and I really enjoyed the combination of music with her rapping. She actually went to Harris Academy, a school where my Dad used to teach. I’ve been reading a lot of poetry as inspiration but it made me want to listen more too.

xxx

Shake the Dust: East Regional Finals

Friday saw the East Regional Finals for Shake the Dust. I was working with the Netherhall School in Cambridge as a Poet Shadow with Ross Sutherland. I had never done anything like this before so was quite nervous but very excited too! For my first workshop, it was going well as I was over an hour early. However, I got the bus from the wrong stop and ended up being 10 or 15 minutes late. Typical.

As soon as I entered the classroom I had to introduce myself and perform a poem. I hadn’t brought any material, but thankfully my memory didn’t fail me and I did Cinderella (which you can preview here from my book/eBook). It feels like a long time ago now but at the same time it went so quickly. It was great hearing the poetry the students generated and as the first workshop was based around autobiography it was nice to feel like I was getting to know what they were like already.

Although it doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was their age, I am nearly 10 years older than them! At the same time, I did feel a lot older than them, especially when I encountered some rudeness from a couple of girls from the non-competing team. All a learning experience anyway! I also didn’t expect how easily distracted they were, especially as the two hour sessions went so fast. That said, they produced their final poems with great timing.

After celebrating turning 23 I was back at the school and the students had mostly memorised their poems, and by the final session were all performing their pieces really well. Ross and I had swapped the groups we’d been working with and so it was amazing to see the transformation of them both from the mish-mashed bits of texts they had started out with when they were forming the poems. I learnt so much from shadowing Ross, and was also given lots of opportunities to share my ideas and work independently with some of the group. One girl had to join the group for the last session and she picked up the poems fantastically, and ended up being given the “Most Changed” award.

The day of the final was a long one, but an amazing experience. the excitement started at 10.30am when we picked up our t-shirts. The schools started to arrive and it wasn’t long before we headed into a studio for the first workshop with half of the students. The workshop I was in was lead by Tim Clare and consisted of different drama games. It was quite nerve wracking due to the fact that being in a position of authority it was vital I showed that I was experienced and confident through the games. It was really fun and useful in terms of my own pre-performance preparations.

At lunch time I lost Ross and didn’t realise I was to stick with the school, who had already headed off to Chapelfield Gardens with their lunch. I managed to find them but Ross wasn’t with them. Still, I sat down and began to eat. However, mid-meal, there was a big ‘SPLAT!’ sound and we all wondered what it was. I looked down at my leg and I had been POOED ON BY A PIGEON! They all freaked out and one girl was sent into a panic that it had landed on her. No. It had landed on me. Yuck. I sat there in shock for a while, then scraped it off with a twig. Still in shock, I stood there whilst the others moved themselves further from the tree. Luckily, it didn’t land in my hair or anywhere else so I just went back to The Garage to take off my tights and wash my hands. Then it was onwards and upwards as I tried to tell myself that it was good luck…

We did the same workshop again but with different people and it was good feeling more prepared about what was to come and hearing what different people came up with on the spot. I spent our dinner time mostly with Catherine Woodward, who I knew from university, who had taken my place as Peer Mentor and was doing a great job. I’d met quite a few great people that day, including Lara who was from the Writers Centre Norwich, and sounded like she had a most enviable job! We had a quick warm-up with Drew Taylor and then took our seats.

The show itself ended up being fantastic. All the pre-show nerves were turned into adrenaline and everyone gave amazing performances. Although The Garage team were not included in the competition, their pieces throughout were inspiring and moving. As were Drew and Tom’s joint piece about the friendship they formed through the project. My team ‘Can Everyone Get Up And Leave?’ did a great job. Though one of the guys berated himself for forgetting a line, he pulled it off so smoothly that nobody else in the audience would have noticed. They went away with the ‘Best Line in Poem’ though the judges (Luke Wright, Charlotte Higgins and Francesca Beard) asserted there were so many great lines they couldn’t really pick just one! We also got inside info from Luke that he was rooting for us to win the competition overall, but didn’t quite make it to first place.

The National Shake the Dust Slam Final is held at Southbank between July 5-7th.

The Party’s Over

Hannah and I at Mystery Jets
Scroobius Pip at Dragon Hall
Birthday bowling 🙂
cards and pressies
Singing and miming along to I’m Just a Girl by No Doubt. I’ve had it up to here [with the patriarchy] ladies.
“You are not the victim of your life, you are the creator of your life” – wise words on the cubicle door at The Mill
fajitas and bean chilli
family reunion (dad’s side)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

xxx

May the Birthweek Commence

Yesterday I handed in my latest four pieces of coursework, including my interview piece with Benjamin Zephaniah. I met with my Gran at the Tate Modern, where we started our day with the Yayoi Kusama exhibition.



I first came across Kusama whilst studying my art foundation at Central Saint Martins and I became fascinated by her use of polka-dots and her use bright colours, and her poetry. I bought a book of hers which I sadly lost in a photocopier (or so I suspect). I did write down this quote:

“A polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm Round, soft, colourful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots can’t stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka-dots become a movement.”

I was also inspired by use of cherry blossom depicted in the poem below, which I used in my paintings in order to symbolise the conflict between childhood and adulthood.

I want to eat cherry blossoms.
I want to kiss their pink colors.
Their scent that would have reached the universe dissipated in my youth.
Remembering that, now tears roll down my eyes.
Scattering cherry blossom petals on the path of my faint love, I will be facing death someday.
When that day arrives, all the love that I have had in my past, I will enwrap life.
On that moment, the flower path of cherry blossoms will envelop the whole of me without fail.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms.
They explore my life and death.
Dear Cherry blossoms, I thank you


I first saw her exhibition at White Cube, and so this exhibition was interesting in terms of exploring the variety of her work, of which I loved every bit.

We went for a quick meal at Mon Plaisir which was nice. The main meal was quite small, but the desert was lovely – a rich chocolate mouse with a passion-fruit ice cream. Then, it was time for my birthday treat – Matilda the Musical! I thought it was good that it was faithful to the story-line but also was not restricted by it, making adaptions, and infusing more magical threads to the narrative. It did feel really magical and I loved the songs, as well as some of the messages they conveyed about being the writer of the story of your life, and although the main star, Matilda, is generally a good girl, that ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’ when you feel like something is not right to you.

In other news, I’ve had a couple of rejections – the Charles Pick Fellowship and my first application for Arts Council funding. I was disappointed that I’d had to email to ask about the Fellowship and that I would have not been contacted otherwise. I’d had a nightmare about not being accepted for it so it was really gutting that I’d not even made the short-list. Next year I think I’ll reapply with my novel idea, as maybe proposing to write a series of children’s short stories was not good enough, especially as a faculty member at UEA had told of the polarised views of children’s literature by the other staff.

I didn’t expect to be successful for my first arts council application. As I have the money to put my event on from being a Poet Shadow in Shake the Dust, I don’t have to worry about actually not being able to afford it. Though, making a profit will be unlikely. And although you can’t make a profit with Arts Council funding, it does mean the money isn’t coming out of your own pocket, resulting in a loss. Anyway, I emailed for further feedback and got a great response and so have lots to learn for any future applications. Particularly the idea of whether I actually do want to do any more events – do I want to be a writer or a producer? I’d say 100% a writer, first and foremost, but that I would like involvements in events and sometimes enjoy putting on my own events. Also, this pilot project is more about just putting myself out there and learning from the experience, so we’ll have to wait and see!

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