Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Lobster


I've written a poem! 

I know, I know, it's been a while. I haven't uploaded any poems here for absolutely ages! I need to get back into the habit of doing it really - even if my only audience is my Dad. (Hi Dad!) 

Anyway, I'm performing in Cambridge on Friday night, and I'm a bit worried that the whole of Cambridge is sick of hearing my usual set list! With that in mind, I wanted to have some new material for the occasion. This one turned out to be a lovely poem. It is dedicated to my lobster. 


Lobster
This man treats monogamy like a palace, not a prison
This man doesn't run from every small romantic schism
This man keeps you grounded when the storms inside are raging
This man does the washing up (with only light persuasion)
This man shares his secrets, his worries and his thoughts
This man builds your self-esteem (and first-class pillow forts)
This man treats all those he meets with patience and with kindness
This man held your hair back when you had that nasty virus
This man likes discussions but, if wrong, backs down with grace
This man points (discreetly) when you've something on your face
This man lets you be yourself and doesn’t judge you for it
This man liked your article the first time that he saw it
This man views all of your faults with puzzling affection
This man never mentions your My Little Pony collection
This man keeps your hopes alive for all humanity
This man makes a decent cup of milky builders' tea
This man is your lobster* (if that doesn't sound too twisted)
This man is your soul mate, if such a thing existed.

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*This poem comes from the idea that lobsters mate for life. Sadly, this turns out not to be true at all. So, in the interest of biological correctness, please feel free to substitute in any of the following animals: Albatross, Pigeon, Swan, Gibbon, Vulture, or Beaver. Personally, I'm quite fond of the Gibbon.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Women's Work and Poetry at Sedgwick

This week, myself and consultant artist Karen Harvey have been busy working on Glass Cases and Curios, our booklet of collected poetry and artwork inspired by museums. The anthology will include work produced by twenty-two fantastically talented creative people, and we're really looking forward to seeing the final product!

And we'll be launching the booklet on Thursday 5th December, from 6pm until 8pm, at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge!

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It's a beautiful museum, filled with glass cases and curios, so it's the perfect setting for our event, and we're so grateful to the Sedgwick for their support and interest in the project!

On the launch night, there'll be selected poetry readings, wine and refreshments, plus the chance to explore this fantastic museum after hours. There'll also be copies of the Glass Cases and Curios booklet, available to purchase for the special price of £4.00.

Bargain!

It's going to be a great night, and further details will be available nearer the time of the show. Iggy and his dinosaur friends are looking forward to it too!

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Also this week, I visited the Chatteris Museum to take a look at the Nineteenth Century Fen Cottage display, which now features my poem (imaginatively titled Fen Cottage). It's a fantastic display and the museum really is well worth a visit.

You can read the full poem here. 

Next week
On Friday 1st November, I'll be performing as part of Women's Work, celebration of female performers, in aid of the Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC).

Fay Roberts of Allographic has compiled a wonderful booklet of writing and artwork to be sold at the event, with proceeds going toward the CRCC. The books are packed full of poetry, prose, photography, and art by local creative women, and also feature quotes from famous feminists, as well as soundbites from historic and contemporary opponents of women's rights.

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It's a cracking read, and you can pick up your copy from merch stall at the Women's Work event! The show kicks off at 8pm, on the top floor of the Fountain, on Regent's Street, Cambridge. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Fen Speak, Oxjam, and Poetry & Paint

This week Elaine Ewart and I hosted the first ever Fen Speak Poetry Open Mic Night - and it was fantastic!

Fifteen minutes before show time, and already pretty full!

Around thirty five people attended the event, and the venue was so full that we almost ran out of chairs! There was also a lot of interest in the open mic slots, and in the end we hosted twenty three performers of all ages and abilities. It was great to hear that several of the speakers were reading their work out for the first time, and I have to say, the quality of writing was astounding!

The audience were warm and receptive, and it was wonderful to see people chatting and making friends during the intervals. The whole thing was exactly what Elaine and I had envisaged were we first came up with the idea for a performance poetry evening, and it was fantastic to see such enthusiasm for a regular event in the city.

In short, we were completely blown away by the strength of the positive response!

Me telling a rude poem to the assembled crowd

Thanks must go to Jane Wilson and all at ADeC for their support in making Fen Speak happen! For a fantastic review of the night, check out Rosemary Westwell's excellent local review blog, and for more pictures of the show, have a look at our Fen Speak facebook page.

This week I also got my grubby mitts on a copy of the latest issue of Poetry & Paint, an anthology edited by Carmina Masoliver, a very talented poet and performance maker from London. Poetry & Paint allows writers and artists to work collaboratively on a given theme, and for the third issue of the publication, the theme was 'lost'.

I am totally chuffed to have my poem Brixton, 2013 in the collection, and I really love the accompanying illustration, by Norwich-based illustrator Matthew Dickerson.

If you fancy getting hold of a copy of Poetry & Paint: Lost, then you can buy one here. If you fancy submitting to the next issue of the anthology, you can find out more here.

On Saturday I was invited to perform as part of the cabaret event at the Oxjam Cambridge takeover! The festival is great because it's a chance for bands and performers to celebrate the local music scene, while also raising money to support Oxfam, a charity that supports poor and vulnerable people all around the world.

Our part of the show was at the Great Northern on Hills Road, but there were five other pubs involved in the event across the city. I really hope the Oxjam initiative raises load of money for this worthy cause, and I'm already looking forward to next year's show!

Next week is a quiet week for me (Thank goodness!) but there are lots of interesting projects bubbling away in my poetry cauldron, and we should be ready to unveil some exciting new stuff for you very very soon!

But for now, happy Halloween!



Photograph #1 courtesy Elaine Ewart at flightfeather.wordpress.com
Photograph #2 courtesy Fay Roberts at Allographic Press 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS: Radio Interviews, Oxjam and Spunky Magazine

This week, I went on Sue Dougan's radio show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, to talk about Fen Speak.
This was my third time on local radio, and I didn't feel quite as nervous as the last time! Maybe I'm finally getting the hang of this 'talking in public' lark! That being said, I still stumbled over my words and went bright red. Baby steps, baby steps

Anyway, it was great to chat to Sue again and it was lovely to meet Lee Searle, a local session musician and Christian leader, who was on the show to talk about being a victim of an internet scam. The three of us talked about almost everything and the hour-long show flew by, but I did manage to fit in a few cheeky plugs for the Fen Speak open mic nights!

If you missed the radio show last Thursday, you can listen again here. (But be quick! It's only available until 17th October.)



Also this week one of my poems was published in a brand new arts magazine! Spunky is an online photography and visual arts publication that features work from creative women who make art. The first issue includes incredible photography from Dee Elegia, Jen Brook, Erin Elizabeth Kelly, Sarah Kathleen Page, and Lisa Leverseidge, with a great interview with musician Alice Walker.

Seriously, this photography is amazing! You should definitely check it out. 

It was a real privilege to be asked to contribute to the first issue of the magazine, and I'm really looking forward to working with the editors again in the future! You can read issue one of Spunky Magazine here.

***

This Week:

After a lot of hard work, and a pretty steep learning curve, Fen Speak is finally here!

We've already had six people sign up for open mic slots, and there's been lots of interest on the facebook group, so it's shaping up to be a pretty good night! Huge thanks must go to ADeC and Atelier East for all their support, and to Elaine Ewart for all her super-efficient organisation!

If you're in Ely on Wednesday 16th October, and you fancy catching some spoken word poetry and storytelling, we'll be at the Babylon Gallery, Waterside CB7 4AU from 7:30pm. It's free entry, and there's no obligation to perform, so don't worry about losing your nerve and being forced on to the stage - we definitely won't do that!

The open mic starts at 8pm and all ages and abilities are welcome, so pull on your poetry boots, and we'll see you there! 


Next weekend, I'll be taking to the stage again, to perform for charity as part of Oxjam Cambridge takeover!

In case you're not familiar with Oxjam, let me explain: Oxjam is Oxfam's month long music festival, which runs throughout October in cities and towns across the UK. It's a chance for bands and performers to celebrate the local music scene, while also raising money to help support poor and vulnerable people all around the world with Oxfam's many charitable projects.

It's a great cause, and I'm really pleased to be involved.


Oxjam Cambridge is taking place on Saturday 19th October, with shows at six venues across the city. I don't know about you, but I'll be taking the opportunity to see as much live music as possible on the day. It's only £8 for a wrist band to get into all the venues, and you can buy yours in advance here.

I'll be telling some poems on the cabaret stage at The Great Northern Pub on Hills Road from 5:30pm, so do come and catch me if you can!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Workshops, Words and Water: National Poetry Day

Last Thursday was National Poetry Day, and I was really pleasantly surprised by the amount of media interest in the occasion. It's nice to hear people talking about poetry on the radio and on TV, and it was great to see people sharing their favourite poems on Twitter and over Facebook.

I spent the day at the Wisbech Library, running my Watery Words Workshop. The library staff had done an excellent job preparing for the day, with a lovely display board and some great after school activities for kids, as well as tea and biscuits for my workshop!


We had eight participants in the end, and it was lovely to have such an enthusiastic and diverse bunch of people, ranging in age from mid twenties all the way up to ninety eight!

Everyone was really keen to engage with all the writing exercises and it was wonderful to hear the work they created at the end of the session. Even though it was a mixed ability group, all the writing was of an incredibly high standard and I really enjoyed the session, all things considered.

Thank you to everyone who attended the workshop, and thank you to the Wisbech Library for hosting us! (And providing the tea and biscuits!

Meanwhile, one of my poems was on display in Bedford this week, as part of the Bedford Poetry Trail!

The trail was organised as part of Bedford's celebrations for National Poetry Day, and saw thirty poems placed in shop windows around the town to improve the visibility of poetry in the local area. My poem, Bargain Hunt, went in the window of the Salvation Army shop in the town centre, and it was a real privilege to be part of the event!

Bedford has a thriving poetry community, and it's well worth a visit to the Ouse Muse open mic nights, if ever you're in the area.

On Saturday, I spent the morning at the Waterlees Literary Festival in Wisbech. It was a family fun day, with art workshops, storytelling from Marion Leeper, and talks by local children's author and illustrator Jenni Desmond.

I had a really great time at the event, though I don't know if my poems were particularly suited to such a young audience.

That being said, the whole thing has made me think about writing poetry for children. It was a real challenge to keep the attention of the younger audience members (and I'm afraid to said I didn't manage it with my Fenland poems!) and it would be interesting to see if I could write some stuff specifically for kids. Watch this space!

Then, on Saturday afternoon I received a lovely parcel from Dead Beat Press: the latest 28 Sonnets Later booklet! 

 

Filled to bursting with twenty eight sonnets, written by four poets over the course of February 2013, this is the second 28 Sonnets Later publication - and I think it's even better than last year!

I have seven sonnets in the collection, alongside some fantastic poetry from Norwich-based poets Adam Warne, Andy Bennett, and Russell J. Turner.

I'm really proud of how this collection has turned out, and I'm really looking forward to performing some of the work at upcoming gigs!

If you fancy a copy of 28 Sonnets Later II: The Crown, let me know and I can send you one in the post!

***

Next week, I'll be on Sue Dougan's afternoon show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, talking about our first Fen Speak event, which is now less than two weeks away! There's still lots to do to prepare for the open mic night, but we're really excited that the time is almost here!

If you want to listen to me on the radio, you can catch the show on Thursday 10th October from 2pm. And for further info on Fen Speak, check out our facebook page!