Saturday, 13 August 2016

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS - Publications, Crosswords and a New Job

Hello! Apologies for neglecting my blogging duties, but I have been ridiculously busy over the last weeks. And it doesn't look like things are going to slow down as we head into August and September! Here's just a little taste of what I've been up to:

A couple of weeks ago, I had my *first ever* poetry interview!

It was for writer in residence role with Writing East Midlands, working on a project called Write Here: Sanctuary. It's an amazing piece of work in collaboration with a charitable organisation called City of Sanctuary, which runs services for refugees and asylum seekers in the East Midlands. The project itself involved facilitating creative writing workshops for refugee groups in three cities, Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, and the team at Writing East Midlands were looking for three Writers in Residence, as well as three Shadow Writers in Residence, in order to facilitate the project.

I applied for the shadow role for Nottingham, and I was completely surprised when I got the call for the interview. The Writing East Midlands office is massively hard to find, but luckily I arrived in Hockley thirty minutes before the interview, and after much anxious traipsing up and down the street, I finally found the right building.

The interview itself went pretty well; I answered all the questions the best that I could and I only said one embarrassing thing during the whole interview - which is pretty good going for me!

Then, while I was waiting to hear back from that interview, I had another poetry interview! (Because, as we all know, poetry jobs are very much like buses.)

Or even a bendy buses!

The second interview was also for a writer in residence position, this time at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. There were two projects available: one working in a local Cheltenham secondary school in conjunction with First Story, and the other working with young people who are unable to attend mainstream education for health reasons. Both of the projects sounded fantastic, and both were year-long commitments, which was really exciting!

I must confess, when I applied for the Cheltenham one, I wasn't quite aware of just how far away Cheltenham was, but nothing ventured nothing gained, am I right?

Cheltenham (source)

Again, I think I gave a pretty good interview (It's easier to do interviews when you actually care about the job that you're being interviewed for - who knew?!) and the interviewers were really interested in my writing, and so passionate about creative writing and public engagement too. They'd also looked me up on the internet and found my youtube channel - filled with rude poems about genitalia - so I wasn't sure if that was going to count in my favour or not!

In the end, I was completely delighted to be chosen for the Write Here: Sanctuary project, working with Nottingham writer Rich Goodson, who will be leading the workshops in Nottingham. We'll be having a training session soon and I'm really looking forward to meeting the writers from Derby and Leicester too!

I didn't get either of the positions in Cheltenham, but they did say they wanted to keep in touch with me, in case any other opportunities turn up, so fingers crossed that something else happens as a result of that meeting as well.

Then, a few days after that, I got an email to say that one of my poems, Liaison, had been chosen for publication on the Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis website.

I love Spilling Cocoa because they're one of the few poetry publishers that actively encourages the submission of funny poems. They cater to all senses of humour: the silly and the raucous, the satirical and the surreal, the puerile and the highbrow, and I think there's a real gap in the market for this kind of writing, particularly on the poetry side of things.

Anyway, enough of my proselytising! Go and visit their website and see for yourself! (Or check out my poem here.)

Also this week, we had an incredible turn out for Crosswords, the spoken word open mic night that I run in the caves of the Malt Cross in Nottingham. The venue was full to bursting, with an audience of over forty people, including eighteen excellent open mic performers and a really brilliant featured set from Jodie Hannis.

Ridiculously blurry photo, but you get the idea...

Thanks to everyone who came along to perform and to support great quality spoken word! We'll be back in the caves on Wednesday 14th September, when our special guest performer will be Hazel Monaghan, the winner of the Southwell Slam and reigning Bard of Southwell!

Upcoming gigs:
This Wednesday, I'm doing a drop in family poetry workshop at the Museum of Cambridge as part of the Summer at the Museums series with the University of Cambridge. We'll have loads of great games and activities suitable for all ages, and I'm really looking forward to it! If you're free on Wednesday, and you're in the Cambridge area, you should definitely come along. It's £2.50 per child and we'll be at the Museum from 11am to 3pm. Hope to see some of you there!

Packaging display at the Museum of Cambridge

Then, on Saturday 20th August, I'm heading down to Folk East in Suffolk to perform some poems as part of the Soapbox stage at the festival. Hosted by Amy Wragg, the Soapbox stage is one of the most eclectic and inventive stages I've ever performed on, and it's filled to the brim with amazing poets, musicians and bands! I'll be performing during the Words and Verses segment on Saturday evening, sharing the stage with the very wonderful Christine York, Yanny Mac, Nikki Marrone and Tom the Zengineer

The Soapbox Stage at Folk East!

It's going to be a lot of fun and I can't wait to see some of my favourite poets and performers from across East Anglia! If you fancy a bit of Suffolk-based folk (with lashing of spoken word thrown in) tickets are still available for Folk East - check out their website for more detail!

Then, we'll be getting into September, when I have some very exciting bookings in places like Newcastle and Hackney Downs. But I'm going to save those for another day...


  1. thanks for the link to Spilling Cocoa, I do love a funny poem!

    1. You're welcome, Theresa! It's a brilliant website with some really great poems on it. I've been reading it a lot lately!