Sunday, 1 March 2015

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - All these things that I've done

Has it really been two weeks since my last blog? I guess we've got a bit of catching up to do, haven't we. Are you sure you're ready for a big ol' blogpost? Ok, let's go:

On Wednesday 18th Feb, we hosted another excellent Fen Speak open mic night at the Babylon Gallery in Ely. We were treated to a story about polite armed robbers in India, a spooky tale about Black Shuck (the demon dog of the Fens) and even a bit of creative non-fiction from our co-founder Elaine Ewart, who read to us from her Masters Thesis about the German Island of Heligoland.

In fact, Elaine's piece, 'Heligoland: An Ecology of Exile'  recently won second prize in the New Welsh Writing Awards, and she thoroughly deserved the accolade! Go check out the video she and the other finalists made here! Do it!

Anyway, on Saturday 21st Feb, I snuck down to Changing Spaces - a beautiful art space in Cambridge - for a night of poetry and storytelling to compliment the We Make Monsters exhibition.

Monster by Alan Rogerson

As the name suggests, We Make Monsters is a collection of illustrations depicting weird and wonderful imaginary creatures. The art was created by local illustrators Alan Rogerson and Abi Stevens, and the week-long installation was included monster masking making workshops, drawing classes, and story writing.

The event that I went along to, Beasts and Bards, happened on the very last evening of the exhibition, when a gaggle of writers descended on the venue to share their most monstrous work!

Contributions on the night came courtesy of Patrick Widdess, Fay Roberts, Gytha Lodge, JS Watts and Lindum Greene, and the whole thing was fantastic! I especially enjoyed Fay's story about the Inuit princess Sedna, and how she become Goddess of the Sea. (Spoiler alert: it was pretty grim!)

I also really loved Patrick's Icelandic ghost story, and the wonderful werewolf poem from JS Watts. Gytha's epic coming of age fantasy story was completely compelling, and the chilling warnings in Lindum's poetry sent shivers down my spine. Or maybe it was just the rabbit head mask that was creeping me out?

Either way, it was a brilliant evening, and a chance to hear new material from some of my favourite local writers!

On Sunday 22nd Feb, I nipped across to Peterborough to meet Pete 'Cardinal' Cox and Poppy Kleiser, and to read through the 131 entries for this year's Fenland Poet Laureate Competition!

The standard of poetry was really high this year and it was a total pleasure to read through them all.

The entries were anonymised, so we only received the printed poems, without any names or identifying marks on them. Instead, each poem was given a serial number, which corresponded to a spreadsheet with all the details of the entrants. And not knowing who had written each poem made the whole thing seem even more exciting!

Anyway, the shortlisted poets will be formally announced this week, and I'll definitely let you lot know as soon as I can! It's all so exciting! Can you tell I'm excited?

The winners will be announced at the special Fenland Poet Laureate Awards Ceremony on Friday 27th March 2015.

On Monday 23rd Feb I shuffled down to the Big Smoke to take part in Listen Softly London, a brilliant monthly poetry show, which takes place in the upstairs room at the Crown in Southwark. I was a little nervous beforehand (I don't think I'll ever lose those pre-performance nerves!) but our host, the very lovely Mr Dominic Stevenson, was incredibly welcoming, and the audience was really warm and friendly.

Steve Pottinger took to the stage first, lamenting the poor research in certain recent reports from Fox News and warning of the perils of climbing onto the property ladder. Steve's poems were witty and sharply observed, and his performance was an excellent start to the show!

Next up, Alice Furse read to us from her debut novel 'Everybody Knows This is Nowhere'. It's a tale of post-university malaise and the existential dread that comes from being in your mid-twenties. If art is meant to hold up a mirror to life, then this novel definitely reflects how I felt at twenty four. It's bleak and brilliant, with loads of laugh out loud moments. Definitely worth seeking out to read.

Anthony Hett, the third poet on the bill, brought a whole new energy to the room when he took to the stage. His poetry was quiet, intense and beautiful, and the strong narrative thread that ran through all his work made his performance utterly compelling.

I read a few poems from my latest pamphlet - and freaked out a few people with 'Shaving Grace' - but the performance actually went down pretty well. I managed to sell eight copies of my pamphlet (enough to buy myself a cheeky cheeseburger on the way home) and added a few more new friends to my twitter feed - which is lovely!

In fact, I'd say that Listen Softly London was probably one of my favourite gigs that I've done for a long time. So, if you're ever in Southwark, make sure you check them out! Next month's gig is on Monday 23rd March, and tickets are available for We Got Tickets.

(Sorry for the long blog! Don't worry, we're nearly at the end!)

On Saturday 28th Feb, I went along to the Espresso Library in Cambridge to do a few poems in support of David Allen, a performance poet who is doing ten gigs in ten cities in ten days, and cycling between each destination - at combined distance of over 700 miles!!! It's all for charity, and Dave is raising money for eleven organisations. You can find out more about his journey here.

On the night, we heard poems from Fay Roberts, Abi Palmer, Tim Knight, Emma Ormond and Daisy T-G, as well as a full set from the man himself - having just left the saddle not thirty minutes before he was due on stage! What a star! And what a great gig too!

UPDATE: The event in Cambridge raised £108.80 for Centre 33. If you didn't make it down and fancy giving a worthy cause a little of your cash, please visit:

I pulled a lot of weird faces in my performance:

Photo Courtesy of Daisy T-G

And, I think that's it for the last fortnight. If you've managed to read all the way to the end of this long and rambling blog post, then you have my eternal gratitude. Also, here is a picture of a Komodo Dragon wearing a party hat. Don't say I never give you anything!


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