Monday, 25 August 2014

POEM - another pop sonnet

As I mentioned in my last post, I've spent the last few days turning famous pop songs into sonnets as a homage to my new favourite blog Pop Sonnets.

This time, I've chosen a one of the best songs of the eighties - a tune that was Christmas Number 1 on its original release in 1981, before finally makig it into an episode of Glee in 2011. (What a pedigree!)

I think the sonnet itself turned out pretty well, so see if you can guess the song, and let me know what you think too!

Pop Sonnet #2
We met when you were to a bar employed -
in servitude, you sought your daily wage.
A beauty trapp'd inside a gilded cage;
I chose you, and your confidence was buoyed.

Half a decade have you thus enjoyed
the trappings of my love, yet still you rage!
But will you now dismiss me and assuage
your half-formed doubts, and call this courtship void?

We met when I was to a bar employed -
that much, at least, is grounded in the facts.
I love you, but that love has been destroyed.
Alas, I must take flight and not look back.

And, though you might implore me to review,
I cannot live another day with you.

                                            - Don't You Want Me by The Human League

Thursday, 21 August 2014

POEM - Musical Sonnets

Pop Sonnets is one of my favourite blogs on tumblr at the moment. The idea is to take famous pop songs and TV theme tunes and transmogrifies them into sonnets, written in Shakespearian-style language. My favourite one so far is the theme from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Seriously, you should check it out!

Anyway, the whole thing looked like a fun exercise, so I thought I'd have a go myself. Here’s my first attempt. I've chosen a classic nineties tune, so hopefully you'll recognise it. See if you can guess the song before you reach the concluding couplet, and let me know what you think!

If my gentle bosom you require,
You must impress my kin and intimates.
For many gentlemen have been inspir'd
And many have been judged to be unfit.

So, if you seek the wisdom of my skirts
Then you must, with your heart, reciprocate.
I’ll show no haste to tell you bitter words,
Though, if you vex me, I will remonstrate.

Do you wish to learn my heart's desire?
(I'll ask you several times, for emphasis.)
Permit me to reveal what I require,
Indulge me now, and I will tell you this:

I want from you, a Zig, and a Zigah,
And baby you were close, but no cigar.

                                                - Spice Girls 'Wannabe'

Friday, 8 August 2014

POEM - The long and short of it

A poem for Naino

The Long and Short of it
I'm five foot three
And that's fine by me.
I'm a short-arse, with all that implies.

Why wish to be tall?
It won't help. After all
I'm not tiny, I'm just travel-sized.

Sure, I'm slightly compressed
But I'm never depressed;
Being little is no plague or plight.

I won't have a tantrum
About being bantam
Because I love being this height!

I'm knee-high to flea
I wear kids clothes (tax-free)
And borrow stilettos from Barbie.

And, though I'm reduced,
I can still hold my juice!
I'm the last one to leave every party.

I'm a squirt and a smidge,
I'm a person abridged
But I've long since stopped wanting to grow.

I take up less space
And I do it with grace.
When it rains I'm the last one to know.

You may think it unwise
To be minimum size
And have self-esteem so inflated

But, in my defence,
I'm just highly condensed,
So my ego is more concentrated.

Monday, 4 August 2014


This weekend, I was invited down to the south coast to take part in the festivities at Camp Bestival, at Lulworth in Dorset.

In case you've never heard of it before, let me tell you that Camp Bestival is a multi-disciplinary arts and entertainment festival, set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle, about ten miles north west of Poole. It's a fairly new festival, with a very family-orientated feel and an incredible range of stalls, shows and events going on throughout the weekend. The full line-up includes musicians, theatre acts, storytellers, bands, poets, circus acts, lectures, a pop-up cinema, a Bollywood tent, fairground rides, a skate park, and an inflatable church, so there really is something for everyone!

Lulworth Castle - small but perfectly formed

This year, I was really pleased to be asked to perform as part of the Soapbox poetry collective, alongside fellow East Anglian poets Andy Bennett and Rowan James, with Tom Butterworth as our excellent compère. This was a very exciting (and nerve-racking) opportunity, and I'm supremely grateful to Amy Wragg from Get on the Soapbox Events for inviting us to be part of the show!

We had a really good time slot - Sunday afternoon sandwiched in between a Q&A with Kate Tempest and a performance by London Based collective Chill Pill Poets - so there were plenty of people in the tent for our show. And I think it went pretty well too. The audience weren't sure what to expect, and there was a bit of stunned silence at the beginning, but once we all relaxed into it, the whole thing went very smoothly indeed.

Name in lights
After Tom had warmed up crowd with some jokes and games, I performed a few old favourites, and the audience responded well to Self-Service Seduction, Shaving Grace, and Bad Kisser. Rowan was next on stage, and gave a fantastic, engaging performance complete with excellent renditions of Norwich Road and Bordom and Me.

Photo courtesy of Carmina Masoliver
After Rowan, we had guest performances from Jack Rooke and Laurie Bolger, the hosts of London's Bang Said the Gun poetry nights. They were both brilliant, performing poems that satirised the London poetry scene to great effect. We ended the Soapbox Poets hour with some poems from Andy Bennett, who had the audience in stitches with his version of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. (Andy's version of the poem involves drinking fabric softener and hallucinating about badgers. You can listen to it here.)

As soon as our show was over, we charged across the festival site for our second gig of the afternoon: performing poetry to kids at the teen section of the festival.

To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect with this show. It can be hard to get young people to engage with poetry at the best of times, so I didn't think we'd get many of them interested in our performance. Sure enough, most of the teenagers made their excuses to leave when they heard that we would be doing poems. However, our small audience seemed pleasantly surprised by the quality of our material, and we actually ended up having a really good time with the two or three who stayed. I'm really hopeful that we might have converted one or two of them into the poets of the future - but we'll see.

Festival weather!

All in all, I had a really great time at Camp Bestival, and I really enjoyed working with the Soapbox poets too! Luckily, we don't have to wait until next year as we'll all be performing again later this summer at Bestival on the Isle of Wight. See you there!