Wednesday 4th December
The Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green – 7pm
Poet on page and stage. Creator of She Grrrowls. Facilitator. Writer.
Burn After Reading / Kid Glove / Podium Poets. Writer for The Norwich Radical. Published by Nasty Little Press.
Wednesday 4th December
The Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green – 7pm
Spaghetti Bolognese, The Gallery Cafe
6th November 2013
It was the garlic bread that did it,
tempted me to take off my coat
and settle into some spaghetti Bolognese.
Now, it might seem that I don’t eat my greens,
but rocket’s just too bitter for me,
so I move it aside and dive right in.
And I confess, I tried just one tomato,
because I don’t like them raw
but the veggie meat-like pasta
has me begging for more.
I twirl it in tomato-y bliss,
taking bites of my bread;
garlic breath may make a smelly kiss
but my heart it found when I’m well fed.
7th November 2013
I’ve just eaten the most disappointing burrito.
I picked chicken, pepper, salsa verde – simple. Or so I thought.
I checked if it got heated up and they said that yes, it’s freshly made.
The foil wrapper felt toasty but it was mostly just the pepper, roasted
and quite tasty… But the rest was just disgraceful.
I’d spent nearly seven quid on something quite disgusting!
And I’m pretty sure it was gone-off pigeon and not chicken.
I’m really not sure where they plucked that meat from,
but I simply couldn’t finish it, or else I would vom!
13th November 2013
Table Four. How spicy do you like it?
Hand over loyalty card to get stamped.
A free half chicken built up over time:
A dedicated peri-peri fan.
Regular chips, corn on the cob, please.
So much food, but I’ll manage it just fine.
I’m sat on my own and I’m feeling fine.
It won’t be much longer – I just know it!
Cutlery, water, spicy sauce – yes please!
Back at the table, I count what’s been stamped
On my Nando’s card, showing I’m a fan.
Waiting for my food, looking at the time,
I need to make sure that I leave on time
And just when I think it will all be fine,
On the table next to me, a new fan
Sits down, away from his mum, I know it:
Trouble. Loudly he spoke, loudly he stamped
His feet and blew down his straw – oh please!
I wanted to ask could you move him please?
Back to his mother, I haven’t got time,
I’m writing a Nando’s poem. He stamped
Again, walked flailing his arms around. Fine,
I guess I will have to put up with it.
Guess I felt sorry for my fellow fan.
Clearly, his mum knew he was such a fan:
I got my food, he got his, seemed to please
Him, and yeah, he didn’t need to fight it,
A wave of silence fell over us this time,
Mouth filled with food and everything was fine.
Bet his mum didn’t miss the way he stamped,
But he had stamped for food, didn’t say please.
I’m a big Nando’s fan and it was fine
But next time – that boy should put a sock in it.
Pad Thai, Thai and Lao Street Food
14th November 2013
A regular favourite, I always get the same thing,
still plated up, I was excited to mix it in –
noodles, egg, buts and proper prawns,
the only niggle I’d say
less salt, extra spice,
but for £7, I can’t complain –
this Pad Thai is pretty damn nice.
Chicken Satay and Chips, Charter House Bar
20th November 2013
Reading Proust under the glow of red lights,
I forego the salad for chicken satay
and hand-cut chips. Leaving the bed of rocket,
I feel plump as a pillow. I remind myself
to get my blood tested for high cholesterol.
thinking about salad, ‘maybe next time’
becomes my mantra. Now, for some Sage & Time.
Bean Chilli and Naughty Natas,
The Gallery Cafe and Nando’s
27th November 2013
Not my favourite kind of beans…
pretty sure one was a carrot,
but it felt wholesome, fresh
vegetables and a perfect dome of rice.
I sat near the guy who only comes in for free Wi-Fi.
At 7pm, it closed. Fuck!
he exclaimed into his laptop.
and I wondered what to do
with my spare half an hour.
On route, I passed Nando’s,
turned in for a hot chocolate and
custard tart, a warm space
until another door opens.
30th November 2013
There we were, huddled by Camden Lock,
shovelling noodles down our necks
in case the wind cooled it too fast:
December just around the corner.
Everything deep fat fried
and crispy. I took a bite of broccoli.
That’s one of our five a day.
The containers could not stop the cold:
Your departure just around the corner.
I work in East London, which can mean over an hour of travelling to and from my home. If I want to go to poetry events, I have to eat out (if I want to eat, which I do). In order to make this more productive and worthwhile, I thought I would use it to aid my creativity. I’m going to post up a series of poems in the category ‘Food Goes In, Poetry Comes Out’ which will consist of poems that I write whilst eating my dinner before going to gigs. This will last as long as I’m still living with my parents, or until I run out of steam with it… whichever comes first. Here are the first three I finished last month.
9th October 2013
Beer House, you have redeemed yourself from our last meeting. Well done.
As I reached into the familiar cup-like bowl (again, surprisingly small)
I had a flashback to the frustration at finding, after pouring my favourite liquid
(gravy) over the mini steak and ale pie, the aforementioned pie was cold.
I had left the premises and bought a Cornish Pasty from the station instead.
As you can imagine, my stomach had a difficult decision in coming back
(today’s alternative was sushi).
So, when I reached for a tortilla chip
to scoop up some chilli con carne, I was pleasantly relieved. Surprised, also,
that such a small bowl could be so filling. That said, here I am, subtly
sneaking Skittles into my mouth with my glass of over-priced orange juice.
15th October 2013
I almost forgot to eat. Almost.
Quick crossing and up those familiar steps
for a chicken burger and chips
far superior to Maccy Ds. Charcoal
and BBQ sauce – my favourite condiment.
to have a pot
these oil drenched chips, so bad
and yet so good. Crispy on the outside
yet so soft once bitten. I wonder
how people can just miss meals like
oh tomorrow, we’ll cram for the exam,
or get sushi-to-go on the last train home.
I almost for go to eat. Almost.
I am not quite like them yet.
Vegetable Korma, The Gallery Cafe
17th October 2013
The night I got locked in the school
I had a vegetable korma.
I don’t know whether it was
the relief of getting out the building
but joy exuded it like steam;
I also got it with a voucher,
which was an added bonus
that made me feel
deserving of dessert.
I’m generally more of a
chicken bhuna girl,
been warming to massala,
but a vegetarian korma
seemed the best option;
jasmine rice in a perfect mound
with carrot and broccoli masquerading as meat,
a touch of spinach and sultanas in the mix,
sweet and coconut, delight in creamy sauce,
leave the salad to the side.
With She Grrrowls just finding its feet and me just about recovering from a post-launch cold, I think it’s about time I wrote about its first instalment. I arrived at The Gallery Café over 3 hours before the event’s start time. As I can’t afford to fork out £50 on a sound technician, I decided to bring a pad of paper and pen to note down the basics. It seemed easier enough and despite some initial problems, it was working. That was when things started to take a turn for the worst. There was a party of 30 people due an hour before the event for a buffet, which did no good for my pre-show anxiety. Then, my comedy act got in contact to say she was too ill to do the show. I was further sent into a panic when part of the She Grrrowls team was taken down by a kidney infection. I was on the edge of a meltdown. Still, guest host Joelle Taylor turned up and got her hands dirty moving tables with me, providing a welcome relief.
Twenty minutes before the start, I tested the music again. No sound came out. No sound. We had no sound. What was I going to do? The events manager was off sick, and I hadn’t a clue how to work out what the problem was, let alone fix it. The café never closed its doors, so people were coming in and I was running round like a headless chicken. Joelle kindly jumped on stage to tell people to pay and I ran back and forth to collect money and check on the sound. Time was a blur, and somehow, with the help of the café staff and the band, the sound began to work through one speaker – not the ones above, but one sat on the stage. Booking a six-piece band for the first event was probably a bit ambitious, but through working together, it all turned out okay and we were able to start the show before 8pm.
My head was a whirlwind, but I was thankful I didn’t have to worry about the audience and the artists. The open mic’ (themed ‘politics’) was a great success… from a rather unusual but expected ‘alternative view’ to established poets like Pete the Temp and Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson, as well as emerging artists I was glad to see take to the stage, including a lovely lady called Imogen who rhymes under ‘Average White Female’. The audience looked packed – we ran out of seats (mostly because I didn’t have time to remove all the tables) and I counted around 40-50 people. The best part of this means that each act took away around £30 payment (although the ever-supportive Joelle tried to give the money back to She Grrrowls) and I would love to increase that amount by getting bigger audiences. What’s more is that the event had positive feedback – one couple who had come in for food (the guy had just arrived back from Canada) were convinced to stay for the show and left telling Joelle that this was just the kind of event they had been looking for: good quality poetry without the pretence.
I managed to relax enough to talk to a couple of friends who came to watch, and to be able to enjoy the rest of the show. Momina Mela offered us beautiful poetry with words that melt your soul, each word spoken slowly, carefully, as if each word was a jewel offered as a gift to the audience. Momina has an uncanny way with words and amazes with each line of poetry. Aisling Fahey then wowed the audience with her raw honesty; lines like ‘how to hold their frame without wishing there were less of it’, although about eating disorders, was both horribly relatable and undenyably tragic. A poem that goes beyond the experience of eating disorders and makes you wonder why you would ever want to be less of yourself, like you’d be destroying a part of yourself.
Sunshine in Mae finished the night and left everyone with a smile on their face. Fronted by Sula Mae, this six piece band also had some guys in it (see – showcasing female talent, not completely banning men). I knew Sula Mae from university as a solo artists so it was incredible to see her songs grow to such a level, hearing new tracks and old favourites like ‘Wake up Mr. Billy’. People hung around after and chatted, before Joelle helped me pack all the equipment away (what a star!) I was left exhausted, but elated, and so so thankful to everyone who was involved in making She Grrrowls a success.
Watch some of the poetry from the launch on the She Grrrowls Youtube Channel.
Since then, I encountered yet another hurdle! The booking system at The Gallery Cafe hadn’t registered future She Grrrrowls events. After waves of panic via email and feeling sick all day, I was able to sort it out and have spent the last week re-arranging bookings. The next event will be on Saturday 5th October – I had to change a couple of acts but you can see the confirmed line-up below… the change of theme to ‘sex’ seemed appropriate (well, we couldn’t do ‘space’ without Helen Keen)! I’m excited as I won’t be tired from work and my boyfriend will be there to enjoy the show (and help me out) – poetry on a Saturday night, what a treat! The rest will be every THIRD MONDAY of each month.
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.