The final episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have now been published, marking the end of this project, though hopefully not the end of my journey with music, although the end of the funding. I still would love to work more on my poem-songs, collaborate with musicians and producers, and keep up with the ukulele. Meanwhile, please share this time capsule of poetry and music in 2021-2022 far and wide.
The penultimate episode features an interview with my maternal nan and grandad (I actually remember my grandad actually taught me the meaning of the word ‘penultimate’. The one with my nan came about naturally at first, then I asked if we could try to recapture what she had been talking about, with her dad having been a theatre musician. The part with my grandad was actually in response to my mum, who studied theatre at university.
The bonus episode is just me talking about music and emotions – another aspect of what drove me to pick this topic. So, if you fancy listening to me chatting about music and emotions, butchering names and technical terms from the research I’ve done, and summarising my findings and best bits, then set aside 50 minutes and enjoy!
So, the first EFL school has started! The day before, I was so nervous, I didn’t want to do the job anymore! However, the first day wasn’t even over before I began to feel completely fine. Would I have been able to feel okay without the escitalopram? Who knows… but I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, with another teacher reaching for their CBD oil at one point! I love my line manager, the other teachers, the students, and I am so glad I am in a place where I feel comfortable and confident.
I’m unsure if I’ll still have to do more planning on top of what I’ve done as there are more changes than I expected. However, it meant that I ended up creating a poetry slam project, which I’m excited to do! I had some lessons cancelled, so today, I’m going to catch up on some of my reading for my music project, which will be coming to an end next month (but, if music be the food of love… it will play on!) I’m tired, yet energised at the same time, excited about what I’m doing now, and what’s to come! Still nervous about having a formal observation though…
The final poet interview is out in the world, and it ends on a bang with Brigitte Aphrodite! As a lover of a good chinwag, this is also the longest episode in the series. Still to come in a special episode where we hear from my maternal nan and grandad, as well as one of me discussing the research I’m doing over the next month or so!
I’m picking up the uke when I can, and have been having a go at Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’. I quite like it, though I’m still struggling with getting my fingers to and from the G-chord! I’m going to have a busy summer, and hope for more days where I can spend any rest time between the busyness in parks researching with my little pile of books.
So, having reached a bit of a breather with work, I’m still tutoring in the afternoons, but have more time to read. As I’m still doing my music project, I’m reading various books about music and emotions. I hope to complete my research phase by the end of July to then record and put out a bonus episode reflecting on this. I’ve finished with my Macbeth students, and after one complained other teachers would be boring, I felt very flattered!
I have tried every year to perform poetry at Glastonbury, and I am kicking myself at having missed the opportunity this year. That said, on Friday I’m seeing Green Day with Weezer, Fall Out Boy, and Amyl & The Sniffers, and then Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Sunday, so I will certainly get my music fix this weekend.
Now I’ll have this extra time next week, I may even have time to start back on a creative project… I’m not sure whether to turn my attention to my show until August, so I might see if I can work on my collection some more, which was “finished” in 2019, but I’ve written more poems for it, and want to really organise my poems better and see whether I can create multiple potential collections by organising them more thematically, in a way that will help manage submissions better too.
Another three episodes have been released of Carmina’s Cantata, featuring Caz Smiling, Jemima Foxtrot and Antosh Wojcik. I got to visit Brighton to record with Caz, and we even had a drink afterwards at The Poets Ale and Smokehouse… it had to be done really. I caught up with Jemima in SE London, during her trip back to the UK as she is currently living abroad, and returned to the area of Camden, where Antosh and I first met as part of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective.
Just one more interview to go, I’m currently reading some books about music, making a few notes and collecting my thoughts. I’m really interested in music and emotions, so this is the focus. I’ve just finished a book by Malcolm Budd, and I’m now onto Oliver Sacks. Watch this space for upcoming podcasts – there’s still one more interview to go before a special episode, and then this bonus one where I will share my thoughts on the research I’m currently doing.
I’m fully feeling the anticipation of the nine weeks of TEFL work I’m doing in July (despite having started anxiety medication). Changing schools after the first six weeks, I’m hoping I’ll be less phased about going straight into a new school without a break. I feel more confident in some ways, but I can’t stand being observed and haven’t taught in this way for so long for years now! I’m doing a lot of teaching Macbeth at the moment, which is all good, but it’s also for 8 hours a week, so for the sake of my mental health, I’m giving myself a break from that before I plunge into teaching for 20 hours a week (this is all plus my regular 7-8 hours of usual tuition). So, I’m thinking about how I can balance things to make my summer as stress-free as possible. I’m thinking as much reading in the sun as possible! That’s my happy place, and where I fortunately spent part of my birthday – along with the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, eating pan-Asian food, and dancing at The Shard’s silent disco.
I’m slowly getting on top of things, but I feel sad that I’ve not been able to dedicate time to creative work. I feel inspired by so many things – I’ve seen loads of bands, including Dry Cleaning supporting Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who do spoken word over drums and guitars, which I love, and I’ve loved watching Jake Rooke’s Big Boys on Channel 4. Another peer, Bisha Ali, has also got Ms Marvel on Disney! I’m hoping I’ll be able to find balance and prioritise creativity in September… when I’m also going to be starting my MA to become an Art Therapist. Anyway, I’m hoping at least that I’ll be able to save well to pay my first year in instalments, but if I have more donations, I’ll also be able to create more… which is also a part of what the MA is about, becoming a therapist, whilst continuing your art practice.
It’s been a few weeks since I posted, so three more episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have been released – featuring Belinda Zhawi aka MA.MOYO, Tongue Fu’s Chris Redmond and the multi-faceted Joshua Idehen. It was great to catch up with Belinda, who I know from BARPo days, in Chris’ episode we are treated to a live ukulele track, and Joshua’s episode is the perfect blend of humour and vulnerability.
I’ll be having my last in-person ukulele lesson today. Perhaps I will continue in future, but for now I’ll make do with what I’ve learnt so far and dedicate the time to practice. I’m finding it hard to get to the G7 chord, and my little finger keeps sticking out, but I’ve found it really helps to play songs I know and love like Hallelujah. Ooh, I’ve also started reading my music books, so I can do a bonus episode at the end about my findings!
The past week, I’ve felt like my energy is properly back to pre-Covid standard. I’ve had the energy to go to all my gym classes and have taken on some extra work. I still need to get to bed earlier, but I’m setting my alarms less. I’m trying to remember that I’m in control!
I’ve got some extra work over the summer, which will not only help me live day-to-day, but it should help me save for funding my MA in Art Therapy! I’ve been getting back on the ukulele and had another in-person lesson and have realised what a difference it makes learning songs you know and like and can sing along to! I’ve released another couple of episodes of Carmina’s Cantata as well – Malaika Kegode and Dizraeli, from when I was in Bristol.
This week, my gran sent a translated poem by Anna Akhmatova. I happened to have just picked up a load of my old books from my parents’, and had the book she’d got me at hand. I found the poem, but it was a different translation, and I preferred this one my gran sent.
In other news, I’ve also been starting a few things I’ve been putting off or not got round to for a while. I’m going through notes on my notes app from 2018! It’s very long, but there’s lots of poems. I’d love to be able to get organised and make a nice spreadsheet of poems. Many are unfinished! I’ve also started doing a series of videos on mental health stuff connected with neurodiversity, BPD and being a HSP.
I went out to the park with my laptop and its tent, but it was a bit premature as it clouded over and got a bit chilly, when I had visions of being out there until sunset! Next week, I’ll have 8 hours of online tuition as well a my regular lessons, so I’ll try to make the most of any sun when I can, looking forward to my birthday next weekend!
After hours and hours, days upon days of editing transcripts and wondering why I decided to do transcripts for the podcast, I have finally released the first episode using the platform Anchor, so it is now available on Spotify! For some reason, the link to the transcript isn’t a link, and I’ve tried to fix that, but maybe it takes time to update. It’s also in the process of being added to other listening platforms.
The first episode features Kayo Chingonyi, who I interviewed first back in October 2021 in Leeds, when I was also able to catch-up with the wonderful Sarah Perry. I felt like Kayo really articulated a relationship between poetry and music in a way that really resonated with me. I’ve been a bit delayed with putting it out, with the She Grrrowls festival and Covid (which I’m currently having a kind of relapse from), so I’m planning to release an episode a week every Friday.
I haven’t written an update on Carmina’s Cantata in a while, and as I’m back to it after a bit of a break, I thought I’d write a little on what I’m doing, as well as some more general stuff. So, after the festival, I didn’t listen to my body. I had an amazing massage should have gone home to rest, but I went to the Taking Back Sunday, Alkaline Trio and Destroy Boys gig… which I’m pretty sure if where I then got Covid! Made worse by going to see Funeral For A Friend the following week! I’d gone so long without it, I even thought maybe I’d had it but been asymptomatic. It was rough. It’s the second-worst illness I’ve had (the other being a kind of relative of Glandular Fever). I’m still struggling with the fatigue and my lungs don’t feel 100% when exercising. At one point I even got mixed messages about going to A&E, but I waited until Monday to see a doctor and it turned out that I just rushed into exercise. I’m feeling super tired right now and hoping I’m getting the balance right, as it’s something I struggle with.
I’d had to cancel my poetry gigs at SHEreos of Lewisham and R.A.P. Party, but I was at least able to watch The Albany stream, where an audio of my poem I’d recorded in the day was played, and a couple of people told me that my poem was one of their favourites. It was a joy to see people dancing to my chosen tracks as well. I was able to see the SHEReos of Lewisham exhibition with my poem in it the following weekend at Crofton Park Community Library. I have also been accepted onto the MA in Art Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths. As I’m not eligible for a government loan and getting a loan to cover the full tuition is proving to be impossible, I’m trying to crowd fund as much as possible. Read about and share my journey here.
As I was trying to work out what I could do whilst still resting… I did some drawings inspired by the themes of Grayson Perry’s Art Club. I just felt weirdly guilty for watching and listening to things… though I wish I knew you could get audiobooks from the library on your phone then! It’s just so hard to manage fatigue. So, this week, I have started to work on the podcast interviews. I have finished editing the one I used for the production course I did, and after a panic that I have forgotten everything, I now know what I’m doing again.
I interviewed poet and theatre maker Hannah Jane Walker about her book on sensitivity… and just had to cut it down from over 13,000 words to nearly 5,000 words! I may have to cut it down even more, but it is taking a lot longer than anticipated. Although off-putting in some ways, I have made a note on my to-do list to use the same platform (Otterly) to write transcripts. It won’t take quite as long as I won’t have to edit it down to an article length thankfully!