Thursday, 27 December 2012

Better Things - A New Year's Resolution Poem

This year
I will run the length of the country
I will run a marathon
I will run to the shops
I will try to stand up at least once a day

This year 
I will lose a stone
I will lose some weight
I will eat more sensibly
I will stop watching workout DVDs whilst eating takeaways

This year
I will abstain from all alcohol
I will cut down on my alcohol intake
I will only drink at weekends
I will try not to develop another chocolate liqueur addiction

This year
I will give up smoking
I will smoke fewer cigarettes
I will smoke lights
I will understand 'social smoker' is another term for 'scrounger'

This year 
I will learn to play the piano
I will learn to play the harmonica
I will learn to play the kazoo
I will learn that Guitar Hero is not a real instrument

This year
I will work my way out of debt
I will kerb my spending
I will only buy what I need
I will only buy new handbags if they are truly beautiful

This year 
I will progress to a management position
I will be best employee I can be
I will strive for better things
I will stop stealing stationary



*Disclaimer: This is a poem. In real life I do not smoke or steal stationary. I do, however, think Guitar Hero should be added to the standard classical orchestra set up.

Monday, 24 December 2012

RWA

In Northern Europe, the Robin has become a symbol of Christmas. But these aggressive little buggers don't quite represent the sentiment of the season for me.

Did you know that male robins are so protective of their territory, that they'll fight to the death, not just with other robins, but with any other little birds that try to muscle in on their turf? In fact, up to 10% of adult robin deaths are as a result of these battles! Hardly 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen', that.

Imagine what a robin could do to a person, if it thought it could get away with it?

RWA

The Robin Red Breast wears his colours on his chest
But it's no cummerbund or cravat.
It's the colours of his gang that, from his throat, do hang,
Signifying that he murdered next door's cat.

He downs cans of Special Brew and has a few obscene tattoos –
For fun, he drinks whole bottles of Night Nurse.
He may seem a sweet delight, but I once saw him start a fight
With a squirrel and the squirrel came off worse.

Watch the glint within his eye as he sees you walking by,
He wants to ambush and eviscerate you.
He sings a merry tune, but it's the soundtrack to your doom.
There's no limit to the bile with which he hates you.

As you're too big to take down, he simply hangs around,
Brooding on his blood lust and bad luck.
We've mistaken all of this, for avian friendliness
But be sure, if he could, he'd fuck you up.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

NEWS - A Year in Review

I know it's a horrible cliché to say it, but it really does feel like 2012 has gone far too quickly!

I hate to get all misty-eyed, but it really has been such an amazing year for me! I've been lucky enough to have so many fantastic opportunities and I'm always completely flabbergasted by the amount of love the spoken word community has to offer. So I'd like to take a minute (just sit right there) to thank everyone who invited me to perform at their shows, or accepted my poems for publication, or bought a copy of my pamphlet, or came along to see me tell some poems. It's all just been so incredible - so thank you!

If I had to sum it up in one word, I'd say that 2012 was a year of 'firsts':

I took part in my first Poetry Slam, as part of the National Poetry Rivals Competition and won second prize; the first time I've ever won money for my poetry (and hopefully not the last). I was runner-up in the first ever Fenland Poet Laureate Competition and I did my first ever paid gig as part of the Verbal Remedies poetry events in Peterborough.

I played my first gigs on the festival circuit, doing performances at Natural Rhythms, and Folk East, as well as taking part in the  Strawberry Fair Under 25s Slam. I even got my first heckle at the Natural Rhythms event - which is a pretty big deal!

I did my first performance as emcee, as part of the September Shindig Multimedia Show, introducing the bands and artists and (hopefully) entertaining the crowd with my poems in between sets. That gig led on to another show, supporting Jacqui & Geoff and their Band a the Cornerhouse in Cambridge.

I also did my first radio interview with the lovely Mr Patrick Widdess, and performed in front of one hundred and twenty people as a support act for Miriam Margolyes as part of the celebration of the works of Charles Dickens. 

Finally, I made my first poetry video with Blazej Mikula, about Zombies, and did a three minute set at the Camden Round House in that London, in front of proper poets! As well as all that, I also released my first poetry pamphlet through dead beat press. 'Inconceivable: Poems by Leanne Moden' is available now to buy for £4 plus p&p!

Phew! I think that's everything for this year.

I've been offered some fantastic gigs in 2013, so watch this space for details of New Years fun and frolics. Merry Christmas!

 ***

Incidentally, if you live in the Fenland area, the next call for submissions for Fenland Poet Laureate 2013 has just launched. Reigning champion, Elaine Ewart will be taking her rightful place on the judging panel and one lucky Fenland Poet will be crowned Laureate, with the chance to represent the Fens and literature throughout the year. Application forms can be found on the Atelier East Website. So what are you waiting for?




Friday, 21 December 2012

Tortured Artist

My life has been too comfortable
For the tortured artist tag.
I've never suffered a scary disease
(Apart from a little jet-lag.)

I've never been hurt in a break-up
I've never been hurt in a fight
I once stubbed my toe on a chaise-longe
I still twinges, but I think I'm all right.

I've got no great secret or scandal
(Though I'm socially awkward as hell)
No hobbies or interests to speak of,
I was never inclined to rebel.

I don't hold much faith in religion
And politics isn't for me.
I wear a frown though comfortably well-off
I'm beige to the core, can't you see?

To simulate angst I've been stabbing
My arm in the leg with a fork.
The truth is, I don't feel inspired
But I've gained a slight limp when I walk.

I've jabbed myself hard in the nipple;
My friends all looked on in concern.
'Don't worry you guys, I'm a poet.'
I protest as I self-Chinese Burn.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Essex Lion

 Because I have my finger on the pulse of current affairs, here is a poem about the lion spotted in Essex in August of this year...

The Essex Lion

He was sighted, first, in Clacton.
He was glimpsed at down in Greys.
The locals were beside themselves,
As the hours turned to days.

The bandwagon was leapt upon,
Local tourism was dying
Until, by chance, a new attraction:
The fabled Essex Lion.

It took little time to cash in,
Mugs and T-shirts made with ease,
And let's not forget the rubbish jokes
From a thousand twitter feeds.

Did he escape from a local zoo?
Had he nefarious intentions?
Was he here to get a spray tan
And some newer mane extensions?

Had he come to DJ at the clubs
and bars on Brentwood high street?
Was he nothing but a fat tom cat
Or a poetical conceit?

Had he met a girl from Essex
In Kenya, while on the booze,
Heard that her name was Savannah
And just got a little confused?

After several weeks of nothing
the reporters were restless and sighin'.
By now, if you said that you'd seen him,
we're pretty sure that you'd be lion.

It may have been a hoax,
but it wasn't all that funny.
Turns out, the Essex Lion
was just some moron in a onesie.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

NEWS - Folking, Filming & a Busy December

It's been a pretty exciting week for me this week! I've done some more Dickens-related work with the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, offended some people with my bawdy poetry at a local folk night and - best of all - filmed a few poetry videos!

Well, in reality, it was local photographer Blazej Mikula who did the actual filming, I just stood around spouting nonsense in front some lights. So you know, it was just a normal Saturday afternoon for me really...


Blazej was kind enough to ask me to be the subject of two of his videos for his upcoming website. And who am I to refuse the chance to be in front of the camera?

It was actually pretty nerve-racking, as I've never been filmed before, but Blazej was a consummate professional and the whole thing was a lot of fun! All in all, we spent about four hours shooting short videos for 'Zombie Love Song' and 'Shaving Grace'. 

In order to achieve a good mix of shots, we filmed the same sequence over and over - and the repetition was actually really beneficial for me. I now know both those poems backwards and inside out! Keeping the speed, rhythm and intonation the same for each shot was quite tricky, but I don't think I did too badly for a first-timer!

I was also filmed 'eating a watermelon slice like a ravenous zombie' - which was pretty bizarre!

The draft edit looks fantastic, and I'm really excited about the release. I'll let you know as soon as the videos are on youtube: watch this space!

The night before my celluloid début, I went along to my very first Folk Open Mic Night - and enjoyed it so much that I'll be going again in the New Year!

The folk nights are held at Denver Mills, just south of Downham Market, and you couldn't ask for a better venue! The room itself is in a converted hayloft, with views of the mill buildings. Out there, in the middle of the Fens, you do feel very cut off from everything, even though there's a Tesco and a 24 hour garage just round the corner. Still, with the mist rolling off the marshes and the Christmasy chill in the air, it was all very atmospheric.

We began the night with a slap-up pie and mash dinner in the Windmill café, followed by some delicious puddings! Then, once we were all sufficiently stuffed with food, we made our way to the loft.

It was a great night; one of those evenings where everyone in the audience seemed to have a hidden talent, and everyone was encouraged to share and participate. Small, supportive venues like that are often the most rewarding. I went along with Elaine Ewart, the Fenland Poet Laureate, who read some fantastic poems about eels and lamas. Elaine and I were both invited to a poetry open mic night in Downham Market too, so we'll definitely be checking that out in the New Year! 

Then, on Wednesday, I was one of several poets on stage at the Thomas Clarkson Community College in Wisbech, helping to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens. The local museum, the Wisbech and Fenland, is currently exhibiting the original manuscript of Great Expectations, and the event, funded by National Lottery money, was held to publicise the exhibition. I've probably talked about the manuscript before, but it's just so unfathomable to me to think that a document - in Charles Dickens' own handwriting - could be owned by such a small town museum. It's fantastic to think that such a piece of cultural history is available to see, so close to home!

Anyway, I read two of my Dickens themed poems (written for the Miriam Margolyes event which I hosted in Wisbech last month) and it was lovely to get such a good reaction from the crowd. I gave my details to a few of the audience members and the organiser, David Wright, said that people had been asking if I had any published work for them to buy. It's always lovely to hear that people like my stuff, so I'm really chuffed that I got the opportunity to go!

Next week is another busy week for me, with Hammer and Tongue on Wednesday night, the Christmas party at the Cornerhouse on Thursday night and some super special poetry stuff in that London on Saturday night! I can't wait!