Sunday, 21 February 2016

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Leicester, Sonnets and Poetry is Dead Good

Hello there. Me again. How are things? This week I have managed not to injure myself with flying cutlery (see last week's post for further details of that little mishap) so I think that means that I am Winning At Life. I also did some other stuff this week:

The 28 Sonnets Later project is still going strong, and we’ve just passed the half-way mark with only two weeks left to go before the end. This is one project that always seems to go really quickly, and I’m really enjoying it this year so I don’t want it to end! Writing about pieces of visual art is proving to be both inspiring and interesting, plus I’m getting to know lots of artworks that I’d never even heard of, so my mind is certainly being broadened! Which is good. (I think.)

If you live a busy life, you might not have had the time to read every single sonnet we wrote last week. So here’s a list of links for you to feast your eyes upon:
#15 – Release (or The Volta) by Andy Bennett
#16 – She flips (her future) by Russell J Turner
#17 – Falling through the cracks by Leanne Moden
#18 – Hiding by Adam Warne
#19 – - end - stop by Andy Bennett
#20 – Shoot the Girls and Fuck the Boys by Russell J Turner
#21 – Self-Portrait by Leanne Moden

Sonnet #17 was a bit of a tricky one for me because the piece of art in question – Movement in Squares 1961 by Bridget Riley – is one of those optical illusions that seems to move and undulate as you look at it. And I’ll be honest, the whole painting left me feeling a little bit motion-sick.

Movement in Squares 1961 by Bridget Riley

My first attempt at writing this sonnet focused on that motion-sickness, and the resulting poem was quite angry, and just not very ‘me’. I also felt bad for Andy, who chose this painting, and I didn’t want to upset him by writing a wanky sonnet, so I decided to write a completely new poem, twelve hours before the deadline.

Andy likes Riley painting because it made him think of a really difficult chess board, and I borrowed this idea to write a poem that’s partly about chess, but really about social inequality. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

As well as all that sonnet writing, I also had a real-life gig on Tuesday night, as part of Poetry is Dead Good at the Jam Cafe.

I absolutely LOVE Poetry is Dead Good (PIDG), so I was really excited to get a small supporting slot at this month’s event. PIDG is both really cool, and amazingly relaxed and supportive, and the events are very much tailored to the young/student contingent of Nottingham. This is AWESOME, because it means you get a lot of really great enthusiastic poets on the open mic, but it is also ever so slightly intimidating, because there are all these very cool university students there, and my comparative uncoolness is very very noticeable in these kinds of situations.

I needn’t have worried though, because the audience were really friendly and supportive, and lots of people bought my pamphlet and said nice things about my poems. I even managed to say the word ‘cock’ just as a small blonde child entered the building with its parents (before it was hurriedly ushered away by those same parents). I am officially a corrupting influence. Ooops.


I really enjoyed Andy Szpuk’s set, which featured material from his Austerity Cafe Rhyme Opera, and Future Shinjuku played a great selection of experimental yet accessible tunes, which the crowd really loved. headliner R A Villanueva gave an absolutely mesmerising performance, with precisely-observed writing that made the audience do those noises that you always hear at the end of really really beautiful poems. This is the sign of a particularly attentive (and spellbound) audience.

I managed to procure a copy of R A Villanueva’s book at the end of the night, and I’m really enjoying reading it so far! You should definitely get hold of it too, if you haven’t already.

Next week, I’m doing poetry with the University of Leicester’s Mental Health Awareness and Support Society at Firebug in Leicester, performing alongside some other poets from the House of Verse team. The event will be raising money for the B-eat eating disorders charity, which is bloody good cause, and I’m really looking forward to reading a couple of new poems based on the theme of ‘self-esteem’.

As well as poetry and a ‘body diversity’ fashion show, there’ll also be a performance from the University of Leicester Burlesque Society. So that’ll be good fun, I reckon.

Doors open at 7:30pm and tickets are £10 on the door. See you there!

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