Dysfunctional

Having returned from a much-needed break in Corrèze, France, visiting my Gran, I have now found the time to write a about my latest poetic adventure (though not the time to go through emails just yet). Over the last few months I’ve been taking part in a series of workshops with different mentors, through The Writing Room with Apples & Snakes. This culminated in a group performance on 13th August.

The Writing Room Showcase sort of felt like the coming together of a dysfunctional family, including some family members you never knew existed. Some pieces were created through workshops with the mentors, some throughout the last few months leading up to the show, and some just days before the event, but through the process we learnt a lot and came together as a group – the room filled with support for those that take on the risky path of the art world…

Ben Jacobs – for the ups and downs of the process, sharing in the strangeness of not making the cut for Young Poet Laureate for London, and the hope for the future.
Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson – for her words of wisdom and loosening us up for the performance, making me laugh and taking me out of myself when all I could think of was trying to remember my poetry. Reminding us that we need to “own” our words.
Kes Gill-Martin – for a piece that spoke volumes about what we’re all trying to do, which I need as my mantra when I’m struggling with the ideas of ever having kids and a mortgage.
Rachel Long – for writing so many beautiful and varied poems I want to hear them all again, including a really witty piece about the Megabus that I could really identify with. For her warm smile and hugs.
Sarah Ball -for the way her voice and beautiful words resounded through my mind throughout the weeks we were preparing our poems for the showcase.
Temi Lateef – for letting his guard down and speaking of love and its complexities in a way we all know, standing out for what he believes to be good and true.
Ruban Nathan – for expanding our horizons, telling untold stories from his travels, and for making me feel better for my splurge in Beyond Retro after seeing his bag at Roger’s session.
Lucy Jackson – for writing and performing a great piece, and then acknowledging that a writer’s work is never done – the struggle and enjoyment are one. And for, like me, eating a proper dinner from Thai and Lao at Boxpark (yum!)
Kareem Parkins-Brown – for his amazing imagery and figurative language, making my jaw-drop from the first session we were together in, with Joelle Taylor.

Daisy Dockrill – for doing her job so incredibly well and for her never-ending positive energy!

Sabrina Mahfouz – for getting the crowd going with an amazing poem and inspiring us that if we get out there, we can be a success.

Roger Robinson – for the workshop that shook me up and meant that I memorised my pieces, and for coming along and supporting the show, making me feel good about my writing.

Joelle Taylor, Mark Grist and Mixy – for some wonderful mentoring sessions that have produced pieces I’ve wanted to write but haven’t, and for all the mentors involved for showing us the importance of editing and re-working – Ben and I hope to record a version of our joint piece in the future, when we’ve got it to a place we’re both happy with.

Mary Akinsulire – for sending me a kind message when I really needed it, because despite all this positivity, sometimes you can just feel down.

Our theme began with my idea for the unspoken stories of the many people on public transport, and it became a tale of our personal journeys, with a connection between us encapsulated by five lines I ended with:

During the delay I derailed myself,
escaped onto the tracks.
My emergency was a red light;
the signal failure told me to run,
reminded me of fields and trees and dreams.

My offering for the showcase can be read below:

You know me as the wallflower

Pressed up against glass,
bodies and newspapers.
Glass without transparency,
bodies without intimacy,
newspapers with blurred words.

I peer over your shoulder
like a warm breath,
trying to work out
who you are,
where you’re going.

You know me as the wallflower,
but, I don’t smile for you. Sometimes,
you may witness a sorrow you cannot place.
You want to ask if I’m okay,
as you wonder why my eyes well, my body swells
with a habit I just can’t shake,
as damaging as an earthquake,
but soft as a petal,

you know me as the strange one, quiet one,
the one who you can’t quite put your finger on,
you linger on me just for a second, move on
like a passing thought, a panic
– did you leave the iron on?

Mostly, I blend like a colour palette,
but my shoulders are a little too bent forward,
my cheeks flushed, I sometimes sweat,
eyes glance down but speak when met.
I am unknown, and that’s as good as it gets

stuffed up inside here like sausage meat.
Tired eyes are made up with mascara,
hidden with sunglasses.
Heads bend down,
eyes closed, just resting,
or fixed on a game of Tetris,
or not even there, but stretching
out of the window,
out of at patch of sky
through a slit of space.

I create characters out of your tattoos,
your scuffed shoes, your bead of sweat,
your lazy eye, your pink silk tie.
Imagine people I haven’t met
out of your plum-red lips,
your bitten-bleeding fingertips,
your eye-brow piercing,
piercing blue eyes, piercing voice
carried through phone lines,
train lines, blood lines

and much as we crane our necks,
we wouldn’t see a helicopter crash, so close,
shrapnel flying like a wedding bouquet,
the carriages rolling like a divorce,
eventually leaving Vauxhall for Waterloo,
where the beat of footsteps
cries out for the river,
but is carried underground instead.

13.08.13 – The Writing Room Showcase

Writing Room banner[2] 

The Writing Room – showcase at Rich Mix 13th August 2013, 7pm Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA Come hear talented young poets as they take Rich Mix by storm! They’ve worked with some of the biggest names in spoken word. They’ve written. They’ve rehearsed. Now, members of The Writing Room are ready to take to the big stage – and own it.

Sex Haikus and Other News

Writing Room banner[2]Coming up is a showcase of the work I’ve been doing with a group of writers at Rich Mix in Shoreditch. I’m determined to learn my lines for it today as we have a meeting coming up when I’m back in London. Fellow writer Ben Jacobs (also a Podium Poet) posted a series of poems by Benedict Smith on Facebook: A Haiku for Every Girl I’ve Slept With. I thought it was a great series of well-executed poems and would love to see the whole series as an illustrated chapbook. Amongst the poems was this one:

8. Tried your fantasy

And pretended to rape you.

It felt a bit forced.

Initially, I felt uncomfortable with the comic intent of the last line: an awkward double entendre. I felt that it undermined real rape by making a joke of it. My opinion on a ‘rape fantasy’ is that it is nonsensical – the very act of rape is something unwanted. Therefore ‘rape fantasy’ is an oxymoron. I thought about a better way to address this issue, assuming that these poems are based on real-life experiences. I came up with this:

A girl says ‘rape me’.

She doesn’t know the meaning.

Singing Nirvana.

However, then I thought that actually, my version is far too obvious. How can I say that this is a better version just because the point is clearer? Is it too didactic? Perhaps, Smith’s poem is actually more successful because of its subtleties. Perhaps his humour points out the ridiculousness of such a request from a girl. It got me thinking about the meaning of the poem, which is surely a sign of success. I’d be interested to know what readers think of this.

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Another couple of things in the pipeline for September include the She Grrrowls launch party at The Gallery Cafe on Wednesday 11th. There are so many talented women out there that we want to feature at future events, so we really hope it takes off! On Saturday 14th I’ll be leading an all-day workshop on the theme of ‘Loss’ at Red Door Studios. It ties into the next issue of Poetry&Paint, so come along to the workshop and get the chance to have your work in the September/October issue of Poetry&Paint.

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I’ll also be getting down to as many open mic nights as possible and hopefully get some gigs, preferably paid! I’m excited about the next year (working at a school, I still work in academic years!) I’ll be super busy as I’m also wanting to take up the ukulele! Wish me luck!533626_564521246927232_1283506101_n

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been staying in Norwich the last week or so and don’t want to come back! I’m going home tomorrow and it’s all gone so quickly. I’ve had a great time and even managed to do an open mic over my time here (as a city so famous for literature, there’s surprisingly few events compared with London). I went to the launch for the Lighthouse anthology, which I’ve now submitted some poems to for the next issue! I got a chance to catch up with poets Chris Ogden and Russell J Turner. Chris told me about this project to do with made-up words, so I wrote a poem on the word ‘Elagon’ – have a go yourself!
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I’ve done a bit of work most days I’ve been in Norwich, but I’ve also managed to have a bit of fun and relaxation. One of my favourite days was the trip to Cromer with my boyfriend and his family at a family friend’s caravan. I had seen the forecast of showers so I didn’t expect we would be able to go. The others went by car whilst my boyfriend and I rushed to the station to make the train to Cromer. The sun was shining through the clouds and I thought I’d dip a toe in the sea. I ended up walking further in and we swam all afternoon. It felt amazing. After we dried off, we had some chips and headed to the fun fair. I’ve also done a bit of shopping, had some drinks at the Rumsey Wells, got an Indian takeaway, saw my boyfriend’s grandparents and tonight we’re having a nice romantic meal.

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Now it’s goodbye Norwich and hello London. I’ve got a performance at Red Door Studios (also where the workshop on Loss is) on 8th August, a trip to visit my friend Hannah in York, then I’m back to the home of Alan Partridge the following week. Maybe another trip to the beach, if I’m lucky.

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