Wednesday, 26 October 2016

WEDNESDAY NIGHT NEWS - Newcastle, Weddings Poems and Tiny Hannah

In the interests of ‘getting back into the swing of things’ I’m back with another update – only a few days after my last one! How very efficient!

Anyway, I’ve spent the last few days Up North, and it was marvellous!

On Thursday, I toddled up the motorway to Newcastle, to perform at The Stanza in North Shields.

This is what Newcastle looked like in 1832 - it doesn't look like that now tho...

I’d been invited along by Harry Shearer, one of the organisers, who I met in Nottingham when we both performed at the launch of the Write Minds Madder Than We Look anthology back in February.

What with one thing and another, I hadn’t been able to make it to any of the summer sessions, so Harry and his partner in crime Mandy very kindly invited me along to their Hallowe’en special performance instead.

And I really enjoyed myself!

The variety of performances on the open mic was really brilliant, and it was great to see that so many of the poets had written spooky pieces, in keeping with the theme. I also really enjoyed the prose courtesy of the Elementary Writers, who performed some of the spooky tales from their latest collection, ‘Blood from the Quill’ which sent shivers down my spine!

Edgar Allan Poe was upset that he wasn't invited tbh

There was also some music from the fabulous Renata & Trev, and an incredible performance from local poet Jane Burn, who absolutely blew me away with her words!

I was really pleased with my set in the end as well, and I managed to sell a few of my books and made back enough money to pay for my accommodation on the night, with a little bit extra to spend on motorway service station food on the way home too! (I really know how to live you see!)

AND I also stayed in one of those spare room renting dealies (rhymes with 'Fair Deity') for the first time, and it was actually really lovely!

I’d been wanting to try it out for a while, but I was always put off by the fact that you’re literally staying in someone’s house, which always seemed a little weird to me. That being said, the price difference between a room in someone’s house vs a room in a B and B was just too big this time around, so I thought I’d chance it, and luckily for me Akanksha and her husband were the nicest couple, and their spare room was clean and cosy – perfect for a one-night stop-over! I'd definitely recommend them!

Then, on Saturday I went back up north to Yorkshire for my friends’ wedding. It was wonderful and they even let me do a poem at the ceremony (you can read all about that here.)

I love a good wedding, and this one was a cracker, with all the good wedding bits: frocks, cake, and disco!

Shiny disco balls

Plus it was one of those weddings where I didn’t know too many people so it was nice to have a chat with various friends and relations of the bride and groom – people are always so interesting! It’s my favourite part of going to new places!

I also had a very important role at the wedding ceremony: I was in charge of looking after Tiny Hannah!

Pictured: Tiny Hannah, ready for Hog Roast!

Tiny Hannah is the creation of my lovely friend, the marvellous artist and illustrator Hannah Radenkova. Tiny Hannah is a little doll-sized version of Hannah who’s is able to attend events in Hannah’s place. See, Hannah has a horrible illness called ME, which means that she’s unable to travel long distances or get out much at all. So Hannah made Tiny Hannah as a way to stay involved in her friends’ lives. I think it’s an awesome idea, and as is characteristic of Hannah, her creation is beautifully-made with incredible attention to detail!

Disco dancin'!

I really enjoyed hanging out with TH on the day!

If you’d like to know more about what it’s like to live with ME/CFS, you can check out Hannah’s blog here. It’s a really enlightening read, and I love how she manages to make her posts funny as well as informative.

Upcoming gigs:
This Friday (28th October) I’m going to be doing a few poems at Word Wise, a new spoken word night in Derby. Jess Green, Miggy Angel and Toby Campion will be heading (What a line-up!!) and I’ll be doing a mid-tier feature slot alongside the very excellent Dan Webber.

It’s going to be a fantastic event, so if you’re anywhere near Derby on Friday, get down to the Maypole for 7pm, and I’ll see you there!

Then, on Saturday 29th Oct, I’m heading down to London to take part in the TEDxUCLwomen event Intersect.

TEDxUCLwomen celebrates the achievements of women and girls, and showcases work that breaks down barriers caused by gender. This year's speakers include Jacob V Joyce, Nicole Crentstil, Funda Ustek, Bethany Koby, Deb Roach, Katie Ghose, Tschan Andrews, Olivia Head and Sneh Jani, and they'll also be loads of brilliant workshops, entertainment, stalls and food!

I'm going to be performing in the evening and I'm really looking forward to it! You can get tickets for the event here.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

POEM - Starstruck

About six months ago, a lovely friend of mine called Catie asked me a favour. And, when I found out what the favour was about, I was both delighted and terrified. See, Catie was getting married in October and she wanted me to write a poem for the ceremony.

Now, if you're aware of some of my poems, you might think that a sentimental, heartfelt wedding poem might be a little bit beyond my capabilities. Don't worry, I thought that too! But Catie and her partner Ben had every faith in me. So, armed with some ideas (and this poem by Wendy Cope, should I fail to come up with anything myself) I promptly dossed about for six months and did virtually nothing.

Then, just when I thought I would let everyone down, a new idea came to me. And so, I wrote a poem.

I hurriedly wrote it up and I sent it through to Catie and she played it to Ben and they both liked it. Hooray! Excellent happy ending; well done everyone!

And, I'm pleased to say that, when I performed the poem at the ceremony, it worked really well! It was nerve-wracking and wonderful and I even made a few people cry! (In a good way, I hope!)

So congratulations to Catie and Ben! And here's the poem.You can also listen to it on my soundcloud page here.

Sometimes I get the feeling maybe we first met in space
coz we’re both stars, our constellations shifting into place.
The patterns in this cosmos match the freckles on your face
but it’s your generosity that helps me keep my faith.

See, infinity’s indelible and that’s intimidating
but I would wait forever if you chose to keep me waiting.
We’re star-struck, star-crossed, starry-eyed, you’ll get my 5 star rating
but you’re not a mass of heat and gas – that’s not what I’ve been saying!!

Instead, I think you’re awesome; you’re a blazing super nova
and, like a NASA scientist, I’ve tried to get to know you.
Now gravity and love have got us spinning even closer.
This voyage has been wonderful and it’s still far from over.

I’ve navigated oceans on the strength of your advice
and called you unbelievable maybe once or twice…
But, though I know astrology’s a little imprecise,
our fate feels universal like a starry winter’s night.

You're celestial perfection and to me you're luminous.
(If van Gough was alive, he'd want to paint the two of us.)
So I'm afraid you're stuck with me, for better or for worse
but I'll be your observatory if you'll be my universe.

Photo Credit: ESA/Hubble Telescope

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

WEDNESDAY NIGHT NEWS – Newcastle, Weddings and A Really Big Catch Up

Goodness me! It’s been over a calendar month since my last post – a new record!

Apologies for my prolonged absence; I promise I haven’t been neglecting the writing side of things. In fact, part of the reason I’ve been so quiet is that I’ve been massively busy doing all sorts of new and exciting things. What things, you ask? Well…
  • I did a set at Green Fest in the Nottingham Arboretum (one of my favourite outdoor spaces in the city)
  • I performed at Speech Therapy and had a wonderful time giving some of my more seldom-read poems a good airing
  • I had a supremely terrible gig in a Derby pub theatre, completely dying on my arse – so much so that I could hear the tumbleweed rolling across the stage 
  • I had a marvellous adventure to the Peak District to film some of my poems, alongside a band of DIY Poets, who were doing the same (Plus, there was ice cream!)
  • I went down to the Fens to start the scheming for next year’s Fenland Poet Laureate Awards, which are shaping up to be really exciting indeed
  • I started working with the Nottingham Women’s Cultural Exchange as part of the Write Here: Sanctuary project, which is just such a fantastic project, I could talk about it all day and I promise I'll write a full post about it soon, because it deserves its own one!
  • I recited a few rhymes at House of Verse for the Oxjam takeover in Leicester
  • And I was teamed with the very wonderful Chris McLoughlin at Poetercize (the Poetry Gameshow) at Hockley Hustle AND we managed to win the game and everything!!

This post would be far too long if I spoke about all these things in detail, so instead here are a couple of photos that I hope give you an idea of what I've been up to:

Making a very earnest face at Green Fest 

Getting ready for epic cobblestone-based filming in the Peak District

My Poetercize outfit (what a plonker!)

Spinning some tales at House of Verse

Massive Ice Cream!! (and I ate all of it!)

Upcoming gigs:
This Thursday (20th October) I’m going to be doing a few poems at Stanza at The Exchange in South Shields, and I’m really looking forward to it! It'll be great to experience the spoken word scene up in Newcastle, as it's a city I've never been to before! I can't wait to check it out!

Stanza starts around 7:30pm, and I’ll be the nervous one at the back of the room with no friends – please come and say ‘hi’ if you can!

Then, on Saturday I’ll be up in Richmond in Yorkshire for the wedding of my beautiful friends Catie and Ben. The two of them very kindly asked me to write them a poem for the event, and I’m massively excited/terrified about reading it out during the ceremony!

So. Much. Pressure!

That being said, I’m actually surprised at how much I like the poem that I ended up writing, so hopefully that will come through when I read it out. It’s about stars and space and I’m hoping to record a video version of it soon – keep your eyes peeled for that!