Saturday, 17 October 2015

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS - Workshops, Rhymes with Orange and the Fenland Reed

Blimey! It's been a good few weeks since I last posted! Sorry about that, but it's been a busy month.

I know I've said it before - and it's a massively boring and over-used simile - but I really do feel that poetry projects are a lot like buses: you wait for ages and then three come along in quick succession!

Whenever a load of lovely things happen all at once, it always reminds me of a positive version of that Alanis Morissette song 'Ironic'. Although, neither a busy month of poetry, nor the lyrics to that song are actually ironic - which is kind of ironic in itself, when you think about it...

Anyway, it *has* been a busy couple of weeks, and I've been traveling all over the place doing gigs, workshops and other stuff.

On Saturday 10th October, I trundled down the A1 to Sawtry to give a creative writing workshop as part of the Arts Alive in Libraries initiative. The project, funded by Arts Council England, gives rural libraries in Fenland and Breckland the chance to book a number of different creative workshops, in order to engage local communities with the arts in libraries.

The list of available courses is massive; from opera to manga drawing, and everything in between!

I'd already given a couple of workshops at the Sawtry Library, and both had been really well attended, so I was pleased to be invited back to do a few more sessions.

This time around, I had a small group of enthusiastic participants, and I was really impressed by their creative talent, and their willingness to get stuck into all the exercises!

I used the session to take the group through some writing games, including a few new exercises that I hadn't tried before. I was particularly pleased with how the "write a haiku about the person next to you" warm up game was received by the group. It's a great way to introduce participants to one another, and it really fires up their creativity too!

One of the things I like best about doing workshops is the sheer variety of the writing produced. Give a group of six people a writing prompt, and you can guarantee that each person will interpret the inspiration differently, and everyone will write in their own distinct style. It really reinforces my belief that writing is a fundamentally brilliant form of expression - but then, I might be a *little* bit biased.

What I'm trying to say is that I had a fab time facilitating this workshop, and I'm looking forward to my final visit to Sawtry library on Wednesday 4th November!

Last Thursday I braved the commuter train from Nottingham to London to take part in the Rhymes With Orange spoken word night at the Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch.

Waaaaaay back in April, at my last visit to RWO, I'd taken part in the Orange Crush Slam, and won a ten minute slot at a future gig. Unfortunately, the June RWO clashed with Andy and Allie's wedding, and the one after that was in Scotland, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, so it's taken me about six months to be able to grab my slot on stage!

I'd like to whinge and say that I wish people would stop getting married, but in reality I love Love and all that junk, and I'm a sucker for a good wedding! (Especially if there's cake and a disco, because I am secretly an eight year old child.)

Anyway, Rhymes With Orange are this awesome collective of poets, writers, comedians and performers, who run events, do workshops, organise retreats and generally champion new writing in London. Many of the performers have drama and comedy backgrounds, and much of their work focuses on the funny, the bizarre and the surreal. As you can imagine, going to their shows always fills me with a deep and powerful sense of belonging.

For Thursday's show, the theme was 'Pop', and most of the regular performers had written new material to fit in with that theme. From a brilliant, yet slightly melancholic look into Harry Style's future, to a truly bizarre and wonderful poem about Jurgen Klopp, via yogurt-stealing children, friendly stalkers, and the creepiest birthday party ever, the performances were fun, funny and engaging.

There was even a poem about copulating hedgehogs!*

The open mic was also really great this time too, including a really thought-provoking poem about racism, as well as a great anti-cheating poem containing the line "you lying cheating bastard", right through to a beautiful, heartfelt piece about the death of a parent.

But my favourite open mic-ee was a chap who did a poem that re-imagined St Paul's letters to the Corinthians, in the style of Eminem's hit song 'Stan'. The whole thing was pitch perfect, thick with puns and brilliant references to both the Bible and old school hip hop. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it was genius!

I did a couple of 'pop sonnets' during my set, and they seemed to go down pretty well with the crowd. I'm keen to go back to RWO as soon as possible, so fingers crossed that I can make it to their Christmas Extravaganza on Thursday 3rd December!

Also this week, I received my copy of the Fenland Reed. The magazine - created, curated and printed by Ely poets Jonathan Totman and Mary Livingstone - is a celebration of East Anglian landscapes, people and stories, and the first issue has some fantastic pieces of writing in it from a collection of really impressive poets.

I've also got a poem in the first issue, and I'm disgustingly honoured to see my writing in such an awesome publication.

If I've piqued your interest, then check out the Fenland Reed website for more details, subscribe to the magazine, or submit your own poem for Issue two! The theme is Lost & Found.

Next weekend, I'm heading off to Cambridge to take do some poetry tours as part of the University of Cambridge's Festival of Ideas, followed by a workshop and performance with Allographic: Other Voices. I am looking forward to all these shows SO MUCH and I will let you know how I get on in the usual delayed blogpost manner.

Happy Sunday everyone!

*It wasn't really about hedgehogs shagging, but that was the central metaphor, and it was inspired!

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