Saturday, 22 August 2015

NEWS - Poetry is Dead Good and Folk East

Hello stranger. Long time, no speak. This is entirely my fault and I can only apologise.

The thing is, I've been in the process of moving house, starting a new job, and doing all kinds of exploring in our new city.

It's been hectic, but I think we're getting things settled now.

Nottingham is a lovely city, and I'm really impressed by the relaxed and friendly atmosphere here. Everyone seems keen for a chat, and the Nottingham accent has a subtle northern burr that I really love.

And there are so many cafés that run open mic nights, and nice pubs, and independent records shops, and interesting museums. I'm just really looking forward to exploring them all!

I've started checking out the local poetry scene too. (Of course I have!) I've joined the Nottingham Writers' Studio and signed up to be part of the DIY Poets Collective, plus I've also applied to join Mouthy Poets - which might be a bit of a long shot, because they're demographic is 16-30 year olds, and I'm very much at the upper end of that spectrum! Still, nothing ventured nothing gained, as they say!

So last week, I went down to The Maze in Nottingham city centre, for my first experience of East Midlands poetry, at the DIY Poets summer showcase.
I was completely blown away by the range and variety of the poetry on display, and the writing talent on show was just incredible!

There were funny poems, sad poems, thoughtful poems, poems about relationships, poems about politics, poems inspired by literature and poems inspired by hip-hop. And they were all absolutely brilliant!

Rather than feeling intimidated, the show was very welcoming and inclusive, and I was itching to get involved! Hopefully, I can take one of the slots at their next event in November - Fingers crossed!

Then, on Tuesday of last week, I popped along to the Jamcafé to take part in the open mic at Poetry is Dead Good


The show is a mix of featured performers and open mic slots, and the featured acts were superb. 

Michelle Mother Hubbard's poetry was fun and funny, while Chris Page's stuff was more dark and introspective. Chris McLoughlin took us on a roller coaster of emotion with a selection of autobiographical poems, and Nafeesa Hamid entertained - and shocked - the audience with her frank portrayals of race and family dysfunction.  

The music, provided by local musician Billie, was ethereal and beautiful, and I really didn't want it to end! 

When the open mic rolled around, I performed this poem, and I think the audience really liked it. Hopefully, that's a sign of things to come. Fingers crossed for more positive poetry experiences in the East Midlands!

Finally this week, I trundled down the A1(M) to Suffolk to perform at the Soapbox Stage at Folk East.  


I performed alongside two of my three 28 Sonnets Later colleagues, Adam Warne and Russell J Turner with Andy Bennett absent but not forgotten. (He's up in Edinburgh doing this show as part of the Fringe. Go see him if you're up there!)

Adam, Russell and I performed our latest sonnet cycle, a collection of narrative poems about the fictional town of Buckley Oak, and it was fantastic to hear all the poems performed as a single piece.

Although Folk East is a family festival, some of the 28 Sonnets Later poems contained some pretty adult themes (for example, this is Russell's poem, The Vulgar Boatman) but I think we got away with it in the end. 

We ended our hour on stage with a short set from each of us, and Adam and Russell both gave fantastic performances. 

I also managed to sell a couple of pamphlets, so I'm pretty pleased with that! 

I really love coming to Folk East, and the Soapbox stage is particularly excellent. I arrived early on Friday morning, and spent most of the day hanging out and watching the other performers, and Amy Wragg and her team put on another epic show!

I also got the chance to actually have a look round the site this year, and I was particularly impressed by all the sculptures on display. I bought *far too many* postcards at the craft stalls, and even had a go at weaving in one of the workshop tents! I also got the chance to see a couple of great bands on the main stage, all while sitting in the sunshine and eating artisan ice cream. 

Ignore my fat, white ankles in this shot...

All in all, a very lovely festival!

Next Saturday, I'm off to Essex to take part in the Colchester Free Festival, which looks like it'll be really good fun. I'll be in the poetry tent from 12 noon,  and I think I'm performing at about 12:30pm. If you're in the area, come along and say hi!