Sunday, 15 February 2015

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Performing at Cambridge University

This week I received an invitation (via Twitter - how modern!) to perform as part of an event hosted by the Cambridge Literature Society, in conjunction with the Brainchild Festival and Gigiti.

Aside: In case you don't know yet, Gigiti are this awesome new company who aim to connect venues, musicians and music fans across the UK, ensuring that musicians can find venues and develop their networks, while helping venues improve the quality and quantity artists booked.

I'd never been to any of the colleges before (despite working in the city for the past six years) and it was quite exciting to be allowed into the place 'out of hours'.

Trinity is one of the older colleges at Cambridge University, and the architecture is so beautiful that it does feel a bit like you've wandered onto the set of film. It's two parts Hogwarts, one part cathedral - with a dash of Mallory Towers thrown in for good measure!

It's like a castle!

Once I'd wandered around for about half an hour, I finally found the venue, which was this gorgeous, intimate space in one of the newer blocks. The room itself had a slightly spooky glass floor and you could look down past your feet to see the students coming and going three storeys down.

Needless to say, it was a little unnerving. 

But it was ok, because the show was excellent!

First up was Charlotte Higgins, a Cambridge post-graduate student from Northern Ireland, who has such a talent for words and such a captivating presence that I'm sure I could watch her perform for hours. Her mermaid poem is a firm favourite of mine and 'Autocomplete' is witty and moving and utterly compelling.

Next came our first touring musician, Nick Wallis. Nick is incredible on the acoustic guitar, and it sometimes sounds as though an entire band is playing, not just one guy. He makes the guitar sing like a harp, resonate like a bass drum, and he filled the entire room with his beautiful music! 

We also enjoyed poetry from Tim Knight, another great young student poet (originally from Yorkshire). Tim's poems are always fun and funny, with a wonderful pace and beat to them. He writes about the everyday hum of life, yet somehow manages to make it sound exciting and engaging. Plus his poem in tribute to his grandma was just superb!

There was also a set from Blanco White, whose blend of lyrical delicacy and warm acoustic rhythms were a pleasure to hear. And he did an acoustic arrangement of a Yeats poem, which is always a good idea in my book!

Finally, we had some poetry from the very lovely Fay Roberts, who read some new poems and astounded us all with a piece she had written during the evening, incorporating our words and lyrics. It was bloody good too!   

I did a few of my own poems, including my 'cover' of Kubla Khan - because I figured, if anyone is going to get the jokes in that one, it's the folks at the Cambridge University Lit Soc. And they did, so I was relieved! 

A massive thanks to Gigiti, Brainchild Festival and the Cambridge Lit Soc for hosting, and to Isabel Adomakoh Young for inviting me along! 

Other than that, this week has been taken up with sonnet writing. We're now over half-way through this year's 28 Sonnets Later challenge, and the guys are really pulling out all the tops, with some fantastic poems from Andy Bennett, Adam Warne and Russell J Turner. 

 The Sunday omnibus is linked below. Do have a little look and let us know what you think! 
#10 Tastes Like Chicken - by Leanne Moden
#11 Carnival of Dreams by Russell J Turner
#12 The Nimbyist Manifesto by Adam Warne 
#13 Dr Godfrey (Mr Faust) by Leanne Moden
#14 February by Andy Bennett  
#15 Rochester's Anonymous Massive (aka RAM) by Russell J Turner  

(Also, if you don't know what 'swive' means, best look it up before reading sonnet fifteen. I plan to use it in my every day speech now. Swive swive swive.) 

Love is my sin and thy braaaaaains

Next week, Elaine and I are going to meet with a representative of the Arts Council to have a chat about funding for the Fenland Poet Laureate Competition, plus I'll be judging this year's competition entries with Poppy Kleiser and Cardinal Cox. We had over 130 entries this year, and I can't wait to the read the entries and pick my favourites! I'll let you know how we get on! 

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