Sunday, 29 September 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Soundcloud and Wisbech Words

Hello there!

This week, I've finally caught up with the Twenty First Century and put together a page on Soundcloud!

I've uploaded a few poems from past performances - and although the sound quality isn't particularly great on all of them - I'm pretty pleased with the way they've turned out.

(Although I am a bit dismayed that my voice sounds quite that high and squeaky in real life. You see, in my head I sound exactly like the chick from Casablanca - all deep and sultry and easy with the wise-cracks.)

Anyway, if you want to check out the stuff that's up on the website so far, you can find my profile here.

Next week, I'll be at the Wisbech Library on Thursday, giving a poetry workshop to celebrate National Poetry Day. This year's theme is 'water' and I've got some great writing exercises to help get your creative juices flowing! If you're in the area, and you're free from 2pm - 3pm, we'd really love to see you there!

Then on Saturday I'll be performing at the Waterlees Literary Festival, also in Wisbech. The festival boasts performances from local storyteller Marion Leeper, children's illustrator and author Jenni Desmond, and the Book Start Bear! This is the first time I've done a show aimed squarely at kids under eleven, and I really don't know how it's going to turn out! Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

The Waterlees Literary Festival runs from 10am until 2pm on Saturday 5th October at Orchard's Primary School, Cherry Road, Wisbech. 

I promise not to do my pubic hair poem!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Away With Words and Regal Sonnets

In case you were in any doubt, it's definitely true: Hull is really really far away!

And when I agreed to do a feature slot at the Away with Words open mic night at the Union Mash Up in Hull, I really had no concept of just how far away it would be. (One hundred and thirty two miles, fact fans!) But I'm pretty glad that my sense of distance is so utterly crap, because, if I had known I would be on the road for almost four hours each way, I might not have agreed to make the trip.

And then I would have missed out on a fantastic evening of poetry and storytelling!

Everyone who performed at the open mic on Thursday night was absolutely fantastic, and it's clear that Hull is chock-full of very talented writers and performers! Unfortunately, I was only able to see the first half, so I missed out on seeing Paul Maxey, Michaela Higgins, Jon Collins, Mike Grainger, Gina Jenkinson and Catherine Scott. But it was really wonderful to catch performances from Ian Winter, Johanna Boal, Ray Ezra, Gav Cross, Mike Prior, Terry Ireland, and Julie Greenhill!

Highlights of the evening included an Irish tale about sub-par fiddlers, a *slightly* sarcastic letter to BT, and a beautiful piece about the nature of memory and childhood. The whole evening was held together by the very wonderful Jim Higo!

All in all, it was a brilliant evening, and I'm really looking forward to going back to Away with Words very soon!


Then, on Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the annual Peterborough Poet Laureate Competition. And what a competition it was!

The winner, Peter Irving, was fantastic, and truly deserving of the prize. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what he will do in his tenure as Laureate.

The competition itself was incredibly close, and all six of the finalist who performed were completely brilliant, so congratulations to Vivian Foster, Akex Tyler, Pearl Burdock, James Huddleston, and Mark Hibbert for their entertaining and inspiring performances.

And huge congratulations to Peter Irving, Peterborough's band new Poet Laureate!

Photo Source

Next week
On Sunday night, I'll be gigging at the Birdcage in Norwich, as one of the support acts at the launch of Anna Percy's new collection, Livid Among The Ghostings

Anna is an incredible poet, originally from Norfolk, but now living in Manchester. She's one half of Stirred Poetry, a feminist poetry workshop and event collective, and has been writing for performance and publication for nearly ten years.

The Birdcage event will also be the first time that Andy Bennett, Russell J Turner, Adam Warne, and I perform our latest Crown of Sonnets, written for the 28 Sonnets Later project last February. Copies of 28 Sonnets Later, and Livid Among The Ghostings will be available to purchase on the night, and there will also be some fantastic performances from Norwich-based poets John William Brown and Piers Harrison-Reid.

It's going to be a really great show! The fun starts at 8pm on Sunday 29th September, at the Birdcage, Pottersgate, Norwich. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 19 September 2013


Today is international Talk like a Pirate day, so I thought I'd write something piratical to mark the occasion! 

I'd really like to tell you that this poem is all about the evils of rampant consumerism and the trivialisation of Western culture through unnecessary spending - but really it's just about pirates in a shopping centre. I hope you like it! 

Help Wanted

Angela Smith worked in retail –
Not an inconsequential detail –
And given that she
Wasn't working at sea,
That day had turned odd on a grand scale.

See: Angie got kidnapped by pirates.
They seized the whole top floor of Primark!
An elaborate ruse
To get them new shoes:
The captain likes shopping in private.

They hoisted their Roger – quite jolly –
Tied to the stock taking trolley.
The vanguard advanced
Through piles of pants
And they fed all the make-up to Polly.

The parrot, once full, was then quite sick;
Seems the bird was allergic to lipstick
And Angie's not sweet
On peaky parakeets
She had to escape, had to think quick!

Unused to a pirate attack,
The Saturday girls all hung back.
These fair weather staff
Wanted time and a half
Coz invasions were not in their contracts.

And the pirates had keelhauled Diego!
And hung his corpse out of the window!
Sure, he was a pain
But this is insane!
I mean, who's going to man the front till now?

But Angela formed a great plan
To use the till’s barcoding scan.
It’d be a surprise
As she lasered their eyes!
If only she had a free hand!

Tied to a grey folding table,
Willing to help, but unable.
See, it's hard to take stock
When you're tied up with socks
To the leg of a grey folding table.

She imagined her death would be briny –
Hoped the pain would bearably tiny –
When the pirates encountered
The jewellery counter
(They’re suckers for anything shiny).

They piled the gold into their pockets,
Wooden legs and hollow eye sockets.
There sat Angie, relieved,
As she watched them all leave.
There’s no way that she could’ve stopped it.

Was she unjustly serene
After witnessing such a foul scene?
As Angie asserts,
They’ll get just desserts
When that ‘gold’ turns their skin a bright green!

More Pirates in Primark? There’s no risk
So no need to look quite so nervous.
Caught at the car boot
Flogging all of their loot
They all got community service.

So when shopping, there's no need to fear
Bloodthirsty and cruel buccaneers!
The shop's doing fine
Well, most of the time,
Though they need a replacement cashier.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS – Competitive Poetry, New Open Mic and Travelling the World

My goodness! This week has been ridiculous!

On Wednesday night I had the privilege of performing alongside five fantastic poets at the Regional Hammer and Tongue Poetry Slam final in Cambridge. I have never seen a poetry gig so well attended, and it was amazing to see so many people supporting local poetry and spoken word!

Hooray for poetry!

Performing to such a packed venue was incredibly nerve-racking, and I felt my voice trembling on more than one occasion. But it was completely worth it for the chance to watch performances from some of the best emerging spoken word talent in the East of England. From Riaz Moola’s fantastic narrative poems, Antosh Wojcik’s beautiful imagery, and Justina Kehinde’s incredible political poems, to Tess Gardener’s intense, arresting words, and Aryn Clark’s passionate lyrical tirades, it really was a fantastic night!

The final scores were incredibly close, with only two points between the top four performers. I was hoping to make third place, so it was a real shock to come first!

The whole evening was filled with inspiration, entertaining performances, and it really was one of the best poetry nights I’ve been to in a long while! Hammer and Tongue starts up again in October; check out their facebook page for more information. (You'll be very glad you did!)

This week I’ve also been busy organising our brand new spoken word open mic nights in Ely and Wisbech! Fen Speak will be running on the third Wednesday of each month, starting on Wednesday 16th October at 7:30pm at the Babylon Gallery, Waterside, Ely.

We’ll be alternating between venues in Ely and Wisbech, and encouraging local poets and writers to come along and share their poetry every month!

I’m hosting the events with Fenland Poet Laureate Emeritus Elaine Ewart, along with a huge dollop of support from local arts organisation ADeC.

So if you’re a Fenland poet, and you’d like to receive regular news and updates about Fen Speak, why not join our facebook group? We also have a lovely logo, designed by incredibly talented local artist Lizzy Doe.

Isn’t that fab?

Next week: OK, maybe I’m not travelling the world in the most international sense (as the title of this post might imply) but I am travelling all the way up North on Thursday to tell some poems at the Away with Words event in Hull.

We’ll be taking over the upstairs room at Union Mash Up, Prince’s Avenue, Hull HU5 3QA on Thursday 19th September. Doors open at 7:45pm, so if you’re in the area, we’ll see you there!



I remember that September. The end of summer just as
surprising as always. Boots reappeared in the hallways,
and we adjusted in small ways, as we hurtled, headlong,
falling right into Fall. Grazed patches on knees, and new
uniforms. A cat on my lunch box, when I wanted unicorns.
Misty darkened dawns; fighting to keep warm. Gloved hands
across hearts, forlorn in the dark, waiting for dad's car to start.

I remember that September. Sitting in gardens in fading
light, wrapped up tight, determined to catch every last
drop of summer. Try as we might. Cold nights drawing
in; goose flesh on my skin and the scent, from the gas
hob, of sloes soaked in gin. Harvest hymns croaked
through sore throats, cereal usurped by porridge oats
and runny noses wiped on the sleeves of coats.

I remember that September. Potatoes cooked on bonfires.
Kite fliers. Climbing over barbed wire in search of wild
mushrooms. Hot air balloons drifting overhead. The
smell of freshly baked bread. And instead of short skirts and
sunny days, we got new patterned scarves, overcoats and
driving rain. Excavated pockets, uncharted since last year,
divulged clear boiled sweets, a fifty pence piece, and feathers.

I remember that September. Tangled brambles wrapping trees,
the turning of the leaves, and my sister, unwilling to believe
that spring would bring the life back next year. Warm breath
rising in the air, and spiders webs stretched across branches
that caught in my hair. Those bobble hats you always made us
wear. Fun fairs in car parks, and fireworks bursting through
the dark,leaving star marks of smoke in the sky and trailing sparks.

I remember that September. Sweet sticky blackberries
plucked from hedgerows. Crusts cut from burnt toast
and fed to the sparrows. Hot water bottles and lavender-
scented pillows. Toffee apples licked and shared, and
we didn't care one bit that each one was slick with our
communal spit. Unsheathing conkers, damp and natal
in my fists. I remember autumn. I remember this.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Competitions, Festivals and Slams

This week, I put on my judges hat, to be part of the panel picking the winning entries for the Museum Booklet art and creative writing competition.

The brief was to write a poem, compose a short story or create a piece of artwork based on museums in the East of England, and we had a enormous response! The standard of submissions was incredibly high, and it was a really difficult task to decide on the winners. That being said, I am really pleased with the creative work we've chosen. As well as being a fantastic anthology of writing and visual art, it also reflects the wonderful range of museums and artefacts available to see throughout East Anglia.

So thank you to everyone who submitted a piece of work to the competition. I really enjoyed looking through them all, and it's lovely to know that the East of England is home to so many talented artists and writers! It's going to be a really great collection!

This weekend I was invited to perform in the Talkative Tent at the Peterborough Festival. I did two sets, one on the Saturday and one on the Sunday afternoon, and the crowd were warm and welcoming for both performances. I also had the chance to try out a few new poems, and they seemed to go down quite well.

I stuck around for as much of the poetry as possible, and saw some great sets from local poets Mark Grist and DJ Mixy, Keely Mills and Toby Wood, and the Peterborough Poet Laureate Simon Stabler. It was great to see some storming performances from out-of-towners too, including some beautiful nature poetry from Elaine Ewart, a fantastic performance from lyrical balladeer Catherine Woodward, and an intense and powerful set from Tess Gardener. The Pint of Poetry crew completed the weekend, and the whole thing was a fantastic, exhausting experience. I can't wait to slip back into the Talkative tent again for next year's show!

This week, the pressure is on! Wednesday night is the regional final of the Hammer and Tongue Poetry Slam in the city of Cambridge. I'll be competing against some truly incredible spoken word talent, and I am equal parts excited and utterly terrified! The seven finalists - Will Brown, Riaz Moola, Justina Kehinde, Tess Gardener, Aryn Clark, Antosh Wojci, and me - will be competing for the change to represent Cambridge at the National Hammer and Tongue Slam Championships in London in June. 

It's going to be *so* good!

Tickets are available now. The show starts at 8pm on Wednesday 11th September at the Fountain Inn on Regent Street, Cambridge. See you there!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Ink, Sweat, and Bedford Kumquats

Last week I was a bit bummed out because of a rejection letter. This week, the poetry fates have been smiling down on me like a gaggle of slightly gormless Cheshire Cats, and three of my poems have been accept for publication.  

The first acceptance email came from the lovely Helen Ivory at Ink, Sweat and Tears. My apocalyptic end-of-relationship poem, Miss Atomic Bomb, will be published on the site at some stage during the autumn.

I'm really excited about this because

A) Ink, Sweat and Tears is a fantastic online publication, showcasing poetry from some of the very best contemporary poets in the UK and

B) Helen Ivory is an amazing poet, whose opinion I hugely respect.

So to be accepted for publication on the site is an incredibly big deal!

Then I received an email from Bedford bard Ian McEwen. Ian is organising a poetry trail in Bedford, in the lead up to National Poetry day on Thursday 3rd October 2013, and is looking for original poems to display in shop windows in Bedford Town Centre. I submitted my charity shop poem, Bargain Hunt, and Ian was keen to use it as part of the poetry trail!

I'm really looking forward to seeing the trail up and running next month. It's a fantastic way to make poetry more accessible, and give people a chance to engage with poems in an everyday environment. I'll be taking a walk on the poetry trial as soon as I can - and hopefully taking lots of pictures for the blog too!

Finally, I got an email from Flo at Kumquat Poetry, to confirm that my poem, Astronauts, was going to be part of the Kumquat Birthday Book! Kumquat Poetry was set up just over a year ago, to celebrate innovative and exciting new writing. To mark their first anniversary, the team are putting together a book featuring all their favourite pieces from the previous year, along with some brand spanking new material. 

The Kumquat Birthday Book will be online in the autumn, and there's even talk of a limited print run too! I'll definitely update you with more details, as soon as I have them, so watch this space!

Next Week:
Next week, I'm going to be judging my first poetry competition! Throughout the month of August, we asked creative people to send us their art, poetry and prose on the theme of 'museums in the East of England'. We've had a fantastic response, and I can wait to read through all the entries and make my selections! I only wish we could publish every single one!

Then, on Saturday and Sunday, the 7th and 8th September, I'll be performing in the Talkative Live Literature Tent as part of the ARTS Fest! in Peterborough.

It's going to be a great weekend, with performances from a really talented bunch of poets, actors and spoken word artists, so if you're in the area, pop in and have a look. The whole afternoon is free, so there's really no excuse! See you there!

Artwork courtesy of and