Wednesday, 21 December 2016

WEDNESDAY NIGHT NEWS – London Interviews, Poetic Snowfalls, and Christmas Gigs

All right there, everyone? Ready for Christmas? Got your New Year’s eve plans all sorted out? Me neither. But honestly, this winter break can’t come soon enough for me – I’ve been rushed off my feet these last two months. Time for a bit of Xmas relaxation, I say! (You can tell I don’t do the cooking on Christmas Day, can’t you?)

Hashtag Christmas Cheer 'n' shit

Anyway, it’s been such a busy few weeks that I had to write myself a little list in order to remember everything. Here’s the round-up; I hope I don’t miss anybody out!

On Wednesday 7th Dec, we found ourselves back in the Malt Cross for a very festive Crosswords Spoken Word Open Mic. Our November event was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances (the caves were under water due to some kind of burst pipe affair) so it was lovely to be back in December! We had some fab talent on the open mic, and a totally brilliant headline set from one of my favourite poets of the moment, the superlative Dan Clark.

Dan’s stuff is funny, and philosophical and thought-provoking, and he delivers it in this brilliantly engaging and slightly dishevelled style that feels really inclusive and welcoming, while still having this razor-sharp wit that I absolutely love. The Crosswords audience seemed to really enjoy his performance too, and it was a great way to end our first year at Crosswords!

Dan Clark looking majestic in the Ipswich Star

Now, I’m busily booking guests for next year’s events, and I have to say that booking poets is actually one of my favourite things to do! I feel properly privileged to be able to showcase great talent at Crosswords, supporting emerging artists and taking poets that I love and presenting them to the audience like “Ta-Da! Look how great these people are!”

It makes me feel all tingly inside!

And speaking of awesome poets, our featured act in January is the very lovely Hazel Monaghan, who was our winner of the 2016 Southwell Slam. Hazel is an actor, director, performer and spoken word artist, and her poetry is just superb. It really is worth catching her when she performs on 11th January! Check out our Facebook events page for more details on that one.

That's a good looking press shot, Hazel Monaghan!

Then, on the 8th December I snuck down to that London for a cheeky job interview with Apples and Snakes, at the Albany in Deptford.

Apples and Snakes are one of the top spoken word organisations in the UK, and I was interviewing for an emerging writer in residence position at the SPINE Festival 2017. SPINE is this incredible free poetry, storytelling and live lit festival that the Apples and Snakes team organise in London Libraries, and I was SO NERVOUS about the interview that I very nearly didn’t go!

Luckily, I didn’t give in to the urge to hide under the duvet at home all day, and the interview itself actually went really well. I think I did the best job that I could, and although I didn’t get the role in the end (Boo!) it was really exciting to even be considered. It really boosted my confidence to know that I’d actually built up a lot skills in these last few years of messing about with words, and it was also pretty lovely to be at an interview related to something that I’m passionate about (Not that I’m not deeply passionate about University administration, you understand…)

The feedback from the Apples and Snakes team was also really encouraging, and I think the main thing that let me down was a lack of practice in doing creative interviews, so hopefully this is just the start for me…


Then, on Thursday 15th December I took two very crowded trains down to Bury St Edmunds to take part in the Poetic Snowfalls event, hosted by Dray Zera and Geneviève L. Walsh.

It was a total mission to get down to deepest darkest Suffolk (Especially considering I had exploded my car the week before!) but I was so glad to be there because the line-up was shit-hot! There were some brilliant performances from the likes of Robin Lamboll, Nikki Marrone, Nathan Smith, Dan Clark, Charley Genever, Piers Harrison-Reid, Geneviève L. Walsh, Christine York, Matt Annis, Thomas Ford, and Jayd Amber Green – and all for a fiver entry fee. Now that is poetic value for money!

I also did my second ever AirBnB that night, staying with a lovely lady called Sylvana in Bury town centre. And even though I was only in the house for about six hours in total (what with all the travel-based chaos and all) it was another really nice experience. Sylvana was incredibly kind and welcoming, and her house was pretty beautiful too! We also had a really good chinwag about her undergraduate thesis, and I would’ve loved to have stayed around and chatted longer if I had the time.

This week, I’ve been drumming up Fenland Poet Laureate publicity on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire (Check me out here – we’re 2.5 hours into the programme!) and performing at the fantastic Too Deep for a Monday Christmas Party, where I shared the stage with a veritable pride of incredible women including Sarah Crutwell, Sophie Sparham, Bridie Squires, That Welsh Woman, and Midnight Shelley!

My most serious face (or it could just be wind...)

Finally, my last gig of the year was the Poetry is Dead Good Christmas Party, during which time Chris McLoughlin, Joshua Judson, Bridie Squires and I dressed in our finest sportswear to battle it out for glory in Poetercize – the Poetry Gameshow!

Poetercize is kind of like a cross between Poetry Please and the Krypton Factor, with physical and mental challenges galore, lots of exotic wordplay, and even a bit of dancing thrown into the mix! The game’s hosted and devised by the mighty Stephen Thomas, who basically tortures poets for a living – making us wear our most outlandish trackie bees while sweating it out in front of an audience to win nothing but book tokens and bucket-loads of glory!

But not this type of Glory

This particular event was a rematch – Chris and I were reigning champions, having won our last battle in October at Hockley Hustle, while Bridie and Joshua were took on the role of plucky underdogs in round two.

Well, it was a close-run thing: Chris and I won the French poem round (with an educated guess that turned out to be right on the money), while Bridie and Josh excelled in the interpretive dance and ‘boobs or balls’ segments of the show.

In the end, there was just one point between us, and it all came down to the final – a frenetic word-hunt obstacle course and poetry slam! We each gave 110% and really made it our own, but couldn’t quite match the lyrical dexterity of our worthy adversaries!

Stretching our Poetry Muscles at Hockley Hustle in October

Joshua and Bridie emerged victorious, and although I am totally magnanimous in defeat, I reckon we was robbed! Nah, it was a brilliant event though, and really good fun too. But, we definitely need to do best two out of three to determine the ultimate winner in 2017!

Next week, I am mostly going to be eating turkey sandwiches, smelly cheeses, those weird little shrivel cocktail sausages, and all the other marvellous left-over Christmas food. I’ll also be doing a few Christmassy posts, and hopefully writing a few new poems (Chance would be a fine thing!)

Also, there will be Christmas Dinner

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas and blumming wonderful New Year, and I’ll see you on the other side!

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