So, the gig in Bedford was a strange one for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was brilliant to meet such a nice (And talented!) group of people in a new place, and the venue had a really warm atmosphere, thanks in part down to the consummate professionalism of our host, Ian McEwen.
Plus, it was absolutely marvellous to see Jonathan Totman and Mary Livingstone performing, and hear about all the wonderful things they’re doing for Poetry in the Fens.
But, if I’m honest, I was a bit disappointed in my own performance.
Listen, I’m not a big fan of the ‘torture yourself after a gig if the slightest thing went wrong’ school of performance. But on this occasion, I feel like a bit of self-reflection is in order.
|Hashtag Poetry Navel-Gazing (Photo by Greg Tavares)|
See, what happened was this: I’d been planning to do a few new poems but I bottled it at the last minute, and switched out my set for the Tried and Tested material (that I’ve read a thousand times before). And that was fine, and people seemed to enjoy it, but a little part of me felt as though I’d let myself down. The whole point of spoken word for me is the process of creating something new and testing it out on an audience, to refine it and improve it.
So what is it that I’m so scared of?
I dunno. Failure, mostly.
But creativity and experimentation are ALL ABOUT making mistakes, aren’t they? You can’t expect to get better at poetry without breaking a few eggs. (That’s how that idiom goes, right?)
So, maybe it’s time for me to pledge to be a little braver; to jump-start my creativity by trying things I’ve never done before, and add new, untested poems into my set lists from now on. Maybe I’ll find a few hidden gems, and maybe I won’t. Maybe it will spur me on to create some great magnum opus, and maybe it won’t.
But, it’ll be interesting to see what happens, right?
Either way, it looks like I’m going to have to make myself an omelette, and get a bit messy. Because there are eggs that need breaking and I am the woman to do it!
|(The eggs are the creativity, but I’m not quite sure what the omelette represents…)|
Anyway, this week I’m going to put my promises into practice at the DIY Poets gig on Thursday 30th June at Rough Trade!
There’ll be poetry from the ‘Over Land Over Sea' anthology of poems for refugees, and music from Stacey McMullen, as well as loads of great performances from the DIY Poets, and some new stuff from me. The show starts at 7:30pm and it’s just £3 to get in. What a bargain! You can check out the facebook event here.
Then, on Monday 4th July, I’ll be facilitating a poetry workshop in Nottingham for the Words For Walls project, which is a really cool poetry competition and exhibition, organised by the University of Nottingham.
The project aims to celebrate the Nottingham by bringing poems by local people into public spaces across the city. So, if you have a connection to Nottingham, you can submit a poem, and selected pieces will be displayed in the Autumn, in cinemas, galleries, bus stations and the like.
My workshop is happening at the Broadway cinema from 2pm to 4pm. It’s open to budding poets of all ages. (The website says 16-21 year olds, but this has now been changed to include older people too!) It’s free to attend and we’re going to be doing loads of fun exercises and games to get your creative juices flowing so that, by the end of the session, you’ll have lots of ideas for things to submit to the project.
You can read all the details about the project and register for my workshop on the website, where you can also find out how to submit your own poems to the competition!