Trauma Genes

I’ve had the honour of being part of Sammy Brough’s ‘Trauma Genes’ Home Cooking Podcast, which you can listen to here. I was interested in the topic as it made me think of Dr Joy Leary’s research on Post Traumatic Slave Disorder, below.

My poem was based on research that I amalgamated in poetic form, using first person, and a ‘telephone’ sound to give a sense of distance to reinforce the idea of trauma being passed through history.

On 1st June, I performed a piece I wrote for You Press on a project called ‘Voices of Redemption’, where artists were paired with ex-offenders to tell their story. My particular story questioned the line between victim and perpetrator, and although I didn’t realise this would be a common theme, it was surprising to see the amount of injustice within the justice system. Yet, I also wanted the poem to recognise the crime committed, to move on from that, and other than impacting the audience, I wanted the person I was paired with to get something positive from the experience. It was a challenging project, simply because it is quite daunting to have someone else’s life and write a poem about it. There’s a recording of the previous project ‘One Story: Our Voice’ I was involved with, and I hope this will also be recorded as it was such a unique and important event.

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I have also performed at The Last Word Festival with Kid Glove at The Roundhouse. It has been a long and difficult few months building up to the show, and we’re yet to decided where we will take the show. Practically, it may be unrealistic to be able to perform it in the way we may have had in our mind at the start, but it has been a massive learning experience and I think we accomplished a great scratch show in the end, being such an ambitious project. I mean, one of us lives in Germany! I think everyone deserves a massive pat on the back for pulling it off and I’m sure we’ve all learnt a lot about ourselves from it.

I’m reading a few books at the moment – one that stands out is The Ice Cream Empire, by Kit Poulson, and it very much reminds me of the writing from ‘Dear Adventure’ and has made me think that we could do something with text, or even sound, as a way forward with the show idea. I’ve also been listening to a few things on the radio…

1. BBC Radio 1Xtra are doing special features on poetry/spoken word and some of my fellow poets have been involved so far. Hopefully more on this later!

2. The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock has been featured on BBC Radio 4 and features lovely people like Kayo Chingonyi and Emmy the Great.

My next performance is at The Chocolate Poetry Club. Thank you to the mystery person who recommended me. I’ve only had one other paid gig this year, so it really cheered me up to have this to look forward to!

Circus Fest

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My poem ‘Monkey Bars’ is currently being displayed at the Roundhouse, along with poetry from some of the other members of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. They will be displayed throughout April as part of Circus Fest. I took these pictures whilst going to see ‘She Would Walk the SKy’, which finishes tomorrow. I was amazed by all the tricks they could do – my favourite was probably the ones where performers let themselves fall after entangling themselves in rope, but there were so many amazing parts, it’s hard to say. There was so much skill and strength in each act.

My piece was inspired by the festival, as well as my own experience pole dancing at university, where I won 1st place in a double routine (see above video). To me, the few skills I learnt during my time at pole dancing lessons was similar to circus skills. The poem was meant to be extended to any circus act, but I was thinking of a move in pole dancing where you push against the floor and hook your leg around into an inversion. I remembered how thrilling it felt to let go of the fear of going up-side-down, because that’s what it felt like – letting go of any fear or inhibitions. A lot of people talk about pole dancing being empowering and people tend to think it’s connected to sexuality, but for me it wasn’t to do with sexuality at all. I wanted to capture what pole dancing meant to me, in a way that also connected with different circus acts.

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I have recently been to Portugal on a writing residency called ‘First Impressions’ where I got a heavily discounted rate to stay at the apartments to write. In turn, I wrote a short story based on the name of the residency, which I still need to edit. I met up with a fellow UEA student, Silvia Rose, who was also staying there, and I was so thankful to have her there – not only because I was nervous to be in a non-English speaking country alone, but we had some fun times together too. We had a day at the beach and were able to take frequent ferries trips to Lisbon too.

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Find out more about my time at the Poetry Potting Shed with Michael Rosen and Niall O’Sullivan, with my blog posts – this is day one. Look out for my upcoming performances on my events page. The first is on Friday 25th April and it is a project working with Anchor House and You Press, where artists have been paired together with homeless residents from the centre in Canning Town, and we have created pieces about each person’s story. Mine is around 8-9 minutes long, and the night features lots of great performers, so I’m really excited to see everyone else. The next event also connects with social change, as Spoken Word London are working together with ‘Survival Guides’, putting on the opening night on Thursday 1st May. There are some great poets that will be down for that, plus there’s an open mic’ section. Fellow Roundhouse Poet, Chris Lawrence is also performing that night, and some of the other members of the group are taking part in NaPoWriMo this month. I’m cheating with pseudo-haikus and pictures, but I recommend the other poets’ work. Lastly, I also had a poem published alongside Matthew Dickerson’s illustration here, in the ‘Blackout’ anthology from Keats House Poets.

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