Saturday, 20 September 2014

Pirate Limericks

Ahoy thar! Yesterday was International Talk Like a Pirate day!

I manage to miss it almost every year - but this time round, I was ready! I even wrote some piratical haiku especially for the occasion, then promptly forgot to post them on the right day! Curses! Never mind, here are a few pirate limericks just for you. (I'll save the rest for next year!)

A Change of Career
There once was a First Mate named Smee
Who was frightened of drowning at sea.
So he dumped his career
As a fierce buccaneer,
And he now runs a small HMV.

It's Better than Taking the Bus
There once was a Captain called Jack
Who sailed to Jamaica and back.
When asked why he did it
He slyly admitted,
“I'd swim, but I don't have the knack.”

You wouldn't Steal a Baby
There once was a pirate called Seb
Who robbed movies free from the web.
But his scam was uncovered
By a cop undercover,
And now he reads novels instead.

There once was a Captain named Hook
Who watched telly to learn how to cook.
And, after a fashion,
His muffins were smashing,
And now he's releasing a book.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Art Exhibitions, Funding Workshops and Recorded Poems

After all the excitement of the summer festival season, I was expecting September to be a more sedate affair. But I have incredibly busy this week. Bestival seems like ages ago, even though it's only been ten days since I was there!

Artwork from the Museum of Beyond
So, what have I been up to this week? Well, I finally finished recording the poems I wrote as part of the Museum of Beyond writer's residency back in July. There are eight poems all together, and each one is inspired by Fran Crowe's wonderful artwork.

This was such a cool project to work on, and I'm really pleased with how the collaboration went - but I'd love to be able to film a few of the poems too. Anyway you can read about the project here, and check out all eight of my poems on the Museum of Beyond website.

Then, on Wednesday, I was invited down to the High Tide Theatre offices in London to take part in a special workshop called 'How to Apply for Grants for the Arts'. The workshop was organised by Ideastap and Arts Council England to help emerging performers and theatre-makers to get their heads around the process of applying for Arts Council funding.

Most of the participants were directors and producers working in the theatre, but there were also some playwrights, a musician and a choreographer, so I didn't feel too much like a sore thumb! I sat next to a chap called Mark, an actor with who had just finished a stint on Holby City and was now working on a really interesting immersive theatre project.

In fact, it was amazing to be surrounded by a group of people who are carving successful careers for themselves in the arts, and I was really inspired by all their amazing project ideas! The workshop itself was really informative, and it was great to get the low-down on how the grants application system actually works. I've got a couple of ideas for projects for 2015, so it's really good to know that there is support out there!

Finally this week, I went along to the Greyfriars Art Space in King's Lynn to check out the All The Tea and China exhibition.

Ceramics: Margaret Gardiner

My poem, Tasseomancy, has been included in the showcase, which celebrates tea drinking ceremonies, culture and rituals through a range of 3D sculpture, artwork, and poetry. The exhibition continues until Saturday 20th September, and contains work by several of our very own Fen Speak performers!

And speaking of Fen Speak - it's that time again! On Wednesday 17th September, we'll be back at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum in Wisbech for another poetry and spoken word open mic!

Logo by Lizzy Doe
We'll be hosting another evening of stories and verse, with thought-provoking performances and laugh-out-loud moments from our fantastic regular contributors, as well as the opportunity for newcomers to take to the mic and share their work too!

It's going to be a great show, so please do join us if you can. Doors to the Wisbech and Fenland Museum open at 7:00pm and the show starts at 7:30pm. See you there!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

All The Tea and China Exhibition

Last week I was pleased to hear that one of my poems, Tasseomancy, has been included in an exhibition of art and literature at the Greyfriars Art Space in King's Lynn!

All The Tea and China is an exhibition of 3D sculpture and artwork, celebrating the British love affair with the humble cup of tea. The show is filled to the brim with beautiful and bizarre drinking vessels, elegant teapots and imaginative imagery, and it's a must-see for anyone interested in local contemporary art!

Conceived by local freelance curator and artist Christine Pike, the All The Tea and China exhibition features work by sixteen artists and craftspeople: Michael Wickwar, Louise Tiplady, Christine Pike, Ray Auker, Ann Froshaug, Zoe Elizabeth Norman, Deborah Bridgeman, Rob Bibby, Margaret Gardiner, John Masterton, Murray Cheesman, Colin Saunders, C Julie Witt, Katy Cossins, Tony Bellars and Andrew Schumann.

Twenty local writers also contributed to the project, with lines from their poems displayed prominently alongside the visual artwork in a really striking juxtaposition between words and images.

I was really pleased to see some familiar names in the collected anthology, with poems from regular Fen Speak performers Miriam Brown, Deb Curtis, Rosemary Westwell, and Chris Morgan! Other contributors to the exhibition included Cardinal Cox, Pete Irving, Roy South, Nikki Marrone, Anthea Maybury, Louise Smith, Henrietta Claxton, Alan Irving, Ghyslaine Clarke, Mark A Wright, Dorothy Carr, and Graham Ward.

But it was Peter Holt's poem, You know the Score, which really caught the eye of the judges. The prize? A specially-commissioned teacup, plus vouchers for a cream tea for two at the Florence Cafe, in St James Street, Kings Lynn. Congratulations Peter! 

The All The Tea and China exhibition runs until Saturday 20th September, at the Greyfriars Art Space in King's Lynn. Entry is free, and the gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 11am to 4pm.

Ceramics: Margaret Gardiner

Sunday, 7 September 2014


This weekend, I went on a little adventure across the sea to participate in my first gig abroad!

Well, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration, given that I actually went to the Isle of Wight (an island which is still very much part of the UK). But I did have to cross a tiny bit of sea so it still counts as an adventure! 

The sun always shines on the Isle of Wight!

The reason for this voyage across the Solent was to take advantage of an amazing opportunity to perform at  Bestival 2014!

In case you've never heard of it before, Bestival is an enormous music festival, set within the incredibly hilly grounds of the Robin Hill Country Park, right in the middle of the Isle of Wight. It's loud and exciting, and has a really different vibe to its sister festival, Camp Bestival, but the two events compliment each other perfectly. While Camp Bestival is gentle, sedate and family-orientated, Bestival is dynamic, wild, and filled to the brim with groups of teens and twenty-somethings, out to have a good time.

I've never see so many pairs of denim hotpants in one place! (And that was just the lads!)

Also, toucans...

Seriously though, it's a fab festival, and I'm really grateful to the lovely Amy Wragg from Get on the Soapbox Events for inviting us along to perform! It was fantastic to be reunited with the Soapbox Poetry Collective for another outdoor gig! Alongside the gang that played at Camp Bestival (poets Andy Bennett and Rowan James, and compère Tom Butterworth) we were joined by Peterborough rapper Michael Riccardi (Mixy), fresh from a run of gigs at the Edinburgh Fringe.

We had a slightly tricky time slot this time around - we were opening the Amphitheatre stage at 12 noon on Friday, a time of day when most people were still sleeping off their hangovers - but we ended up with a good crowd of around sixty people in the end. It was by no means a full-house, but the people who came really seemed to get into the spirit of it, so that was cool.

The menu for the Amphitheatre on Friday

And can I just tell you how beautiful the Amphitheatre is? It's buried deep in the woods, enclosed on all sides by greenery and sort of hidden away from the rest of the festival. There was a nice chilled out vibe there, and the audience were really relaxed and appreciative, which was wonderful to see. I popped out into the crowd after my set and it was really nice to see people enjoying the poetry.

What a beautiful stage!

All the Soapbox Poets gave excellent performances, and I felt really lucky be working with such a talented bunch of people! Performing on stage at Bestival was a brilliant experience, and I really hope we can all join forces for some more festival fun next year!

From left: Rowan James, Mixy, Andy Bennett & Tom Butterworth