Friday, 9 September 2016

FRIDAY NIGHT NEWS - Poetical, Verse Matters, and Hackney Downs

Hello there, stranger!

It seems like it’s been quite a long time since I last updated you on my wild and wonderful adventures. The reasons for this are two-fold: a) I’ve been quite busy and b) I forgot to do my blog last week. What a flighty poet, eh?

Anyway, since last we spoke, I have indulged in the following lyrical exploits:

1. I spent an evening in the company of a lovely group of musicians and spoken word performers at a new open mic event in Nottingham called Poetical. These monthly nights are hosted in this incredible little attic-top eatery called the Alley Cafe – a great intimate space way up in the rafters of one of the buildings just off the market square in the city centre. It’s a vegan and vegetarian cafe, and they do the best chocolate torte I have ever tasted in my life!

The show itself was really good too, with a nice balance between the music and the poetry. I was there under the auspices of DIY Poets, and it was brilliant to see some familiar faces performing in a totally new location. It was great to catch some excellent local musicians’ whose work was new to me too!

In fact, I had such a good night that I didn’t even mind falling in a puddle on the way home!

Angry sky tears

It was a pleasure to perform at Poetical, and I’m hoping to get back there again very soon.

2. Due to a last-minute drop-out, I managed to wangle a slot at Verse Matters, a wonderfully socially-conscious spoken word night in Sheffield. With a hugely diverse line-up, including talks from charities and social organisations, as well as a monthly collection for the local food bank, the whole event had a really positive community feel to it.

Many of the performers read pieces that related to the themes of injustice and social change, and there were great moments of humour, as well as some really searing pathos too.

Of course, my contribution to all this was a few silly poems about genitals. What can I say? At least I’m consistent!

Photo by Vicky at Hive South Yorkshire

 The next Verse Matters is on Thursday 6th October at Moor Theatre Deli, and you can check them out at their website here.

3. Then, last weekend, I went along to That London to take part in the second ever Fourth Wave Feminist Solidarity Festival in Hackney Downs – and it was such a brilliant day!

The event was hosted by an amazing group of fourth wave feminists, who had done some mega organising in order to create a festival that was full to busting with incredible speakers, workshops and activities. While I was there I saw a lecture on the problems faced by factory workers in developing countries; an inspiring talk by Saba Shiraz on the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK; a thought-provoking speech by Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party; and a great talk on menstrual health by Mandu Reid from The Cup Effect.

There were also talks by LGBT+ groups, abortion activists and feminist academics, as well as workshops facilitated by trans rights organisations, self-defence instructors, and gender equality organisations. There were performances from musicians and poets (including Bridget Minamore, who is one of my absolute favourites!) and there was even a feminist book swap shop as well!

Doing some poems at the festival

I was really impressed by the organisation and inclusivity of the event, and it was wonderful to be part of such a positive and enlightening experience too! If you're based in London, why not seek out the Fourth Wave group, and get involved in all the lovely stuff they do?

Also this week, I've had a couple of pieces of good news from writing competitions, which is both unexpected and lovely.

The first piece of good news was that one of my poems is going to be published the Great British Write Off anthology this year, which is really exciting!

#GBWO is quite an unusual competition, because gives poets of all ages and abilities the chance to compete for a prize fund that increases by 50p with each entry the publishing team receive. This means that it’s in everyone’s interest to encourage their friends and relatives to try their luck as well, which is quite a clever way to increase participation if you ask me!

The top one hundred poems will be published in an anthology which comes out next year, and the judges are currently deliberating over their first, second and third place decisions – so keep your fingers crossed for me! We’ll find out the winners in early 2017.

The second piece of good news was that the lovely people at Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis have published another one of my poems, gawd bless ‘em!

The poem they published was a bawdy little number about the Owl and The Pussy Cat getting a bit lairy in a down-market curry house, and I’m really pleased that they liked it enough to put it on their website! You can check out the poem here.

Upcoming gigs:
This Sunday (11th September) I’m going to be doing a few poems at the Nottingham Green Festival, which is taking place in one of my favourite green spaces in the city.

We’ll be on site at the Nottingham Arboretum from 12pm to 6pm, with loads of free live music, outdoor entertainment and activities plus community stalls filled to the brim with refreshments, ethical products and energy-saving technologies.

It’s a grassroots event, with a real community-based spirit, and this year they had a whole tent dedicated to spoken word! There’ll be oodles of poetry goodness, with over four hours of performances starting from 1pm.

I’m on at 1:40pm, and I’ll be hanging round all day to watch the poetry, so hopefully I’ll see some of you there!

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