Tuesday, 31 May 2016

POEMS - We're Going on a Hen Do


I am a massive fan on Michael Rosen. He's a brilliant poet, and a fantastic activist for primary and secondary education (see his twitter page). One of my favourite poems of his is the children's classic 'We're going on a bear hunt'. It's a great poem, and it's also been parodied about a million times. So here's my lovingly-rendered version. It's about a Hen Party...

We're Going on a Hen Do

We're going on a Hen Do.
We're going to have a great night.
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Prosecco!
Bubbly, lovely Prosecco.
And it's complimentary.
We can't just leave it.
We're going to have to drink it!
Sip sip! Sip sip! Sip sip!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Gin!
Lethal bathtub gin.
And it's complimentary.
We can't just leave it.
We're going to have to drink it!
Gulp gulp! Gulp gulp! Gulp gulp!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Cocktails!
Radioactive-green cocktails.
And they're complimentary.
We can't just leave them.
We're going to have to drink them!
Gurgle gurgle! Gurgle gurgle! Gurgle gurgle!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Pitchers!
Chemical-flavoured pitchers.
And they're complimentary.
We can't just leave them.
We're going to have to drink them!
Swig swig! Swig swig! Swig swig!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Whiskey!
Cheap supermarket Whiskey.
And it's complimentary.
We can't just leave it.
We're going to have to drink it!
Glug glug! Glug glug! Glug glug!!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Tequila Shots!
Ridiculous amounts of tequila shots.
And they're complimentary.
We can't just leave them.
We're going to have to drink them!
Slurp slurp! Slurp slurp! Slurp slurp!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Donner kebabs!
Sweaty, stringy donner kebabs.
And they're complimentary.
We can't just leave them.
We're going to have to eat them!
Chomp chomp! Chomp chomp! Chomp chomp!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
A taxi!
A darkened, piss-stained taxi.
It isn't complimentary.
But we can't just leave it.
We're going to have to go home.
Whoosh whoosh! Whoosh whoosh! Whoosh whoosh!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
Our front door!
Our locked and bolted front door.
This isn't complimentary.
But we can't just leave it.
We're going to wake the neighbours.
Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!

We're going on a Hen Do
We're going to get quite tipsy
I'm not drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh-oh!
A police cell!
We woken up in a police cell.
The breakfasts aren't complimentary.
But we can't just leave it.
We're going to have to wait.
Shuffle shuffle! Shuffle shuffle! Shuffle shuffle!

We've all been on a Hen Do
We did get really tipsy.
I'm still drunk!
What a beautiful bride-to-be!

Uh oh! Cocktails!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Going Back Down South

So this week I was mostly stressing about doing a supporting slot for Harry Baker, who is a massive star on the spoken word scene. He’s only 24, but he’s already won both the European and World Slam championships, and he makes a full-time living performing his work across the UK and around the world.

Harry Baker doing a TED Talk

It’s enough to make you sick, isn’t it?

At least it would be, if I wasn’t so stoked for him!

See, it’s actually pretty amazing to watch people succeed within the poetry community, and it’s even more amazing to see that writing and performing can become a career, if you work hard enough and have the talent.

(Fingers crossed maybe I’ll get there one day too!)

It goes without saying, but I really enjoyed the performance on Wednesday night. Harry has an incredibly engaging performance style, and his poetry is filled with wit and warmth, and is brilliantly funny without ever being mean-spirited. I particularly enjoyed his Dinosaur Love poem (complete with all the growls of a T-Rex) and the German/English poem Falafel Löffel was like a master class in creative word play – and pretty hilarious to boot!

Plus, I got the chance to see some pretty awesome local performers too. Dan Clark is a particularly favourite of mine. I absolutely love the way his mind works, and his rhymes are effortlessly tight and lyrical, without being pretentious in the least. I particularly loved hearing ‘April Fool’, but the whole set was fantastic.

And, I finally got the chance to see Lee Turner (aka Nature Culture) who played an incredible set, with a lyrics full of whimsy and a funky bass guitar. My favourite songs were Little Mardi Gras and Gramophone Cactus, but the whole set was so joyful and full of energy that I just couldn’t keep still! Amy Wragg, who organised the event, did a bloody brilliant job, and I'm really looking forward to working with her again at Folk East in August!

Terrible photo (of an awesome night)

While I was back in East Anglia, I took a wander round my old stomping ground, the lovely city of Cambridge. I was there to visit the Museum of Cambridge, because I’m working on putting together a Poetry Trail for them based on the objects and artefacts displayed in the museum. And, given that I hadn't actually been there for ages, I thought it was about time that I refreshed my memory and checked out the permanent exhibitions.

The museum is one of those great little treasures in the town, and it’s filled to the brim with all sorts of weird and wonderful treasures. They have a bit of everything, from historical objects relating to the Colleges of Cambridge University, to working artefacts from Cambridgeshire’s agricultural past, and some fantastic gadgets and gismos which tell the story of industrial progress in the home.

This may look like a torture device, but it's actually an apple corer. Poor apples!

There are some brilliant objects in the museum, and I’ve now got a load of notes and photos from which to write my poems. So, if you want to know what I’ll be doing this weekend, I will be writing about eel traps and Victorian toys and sugar loaves.

And you know what? I’m pretty happy about that!

How could you not love a museum with this sort of thing in it?!

This week, I also got the chance to see three performances from local poets as part of the Nottingham FONT Festival.

 I saw 'Cutting Edge' by Michelle Mother Hubbard, 'God Save the Teen ' by Mulletproof Poet, and an extended poetry set from Ben Norris, and all three of them were brilliant in very different ways:

Cutting Edge was first, a piece that spoke about Female Genital Mutilation and similar cultural practices that harm women and girls around the world. Michelle's vivid and graphic depictions of these practises were very hard to stomach at times, and I was shocked by some of the things she described. It was a really eye-opening performance, and I would definitely recommend it as a bold and unflinching piece of social commentary.

Ben Norris was up next, with a fantastic collection of poems that illuminated the age-old themes of family and growing up with a wonderful mix of sober reflection and laugh-out-loud wittiness. One of my favourite pieces was a list poem about moving to London and trying not to become a wanker. Ben candidly revealed that the poem did not play well with audiences in the capital, although it was very well received outside of London. Funny, that...

Finally, Andrew Graves aka Mulletproof Poet gave us a tour around his old estate, taking in school yard bullies and slightly creepy PE Teachers, before moving through to his first job staking shelves, his dreams of being a rock star, and his eventual career as a youth worker.

Photo Courtesy of FONTfest
Throughout the piece, Andrew describes the often fraught relationship he had with his father, culminating in an incredible reveal that most teenagers will never believe - that their parents loved them all along. It's a deeply personal show, which combines poetry and storytelling to give us an insight into the mind of that most derided and misunderstood of human beings, the teenager.

I really loved all three performances, despite their very different styles and tones, and I think I also learned quite a lot about the structure and narrative of long-form performances pieces. Seeing these shows has definitely inspired me to pick up my old notes and go back to working on my ideas for an hour-length show of my own. So watch this space, I guess! 

Upcoming gigs:
I haven’t got any gigs next week, but I am going to the Restless Pens and Foreign Tongues workshop at the Nonsuch Theatre on Bank Holiday Monday. The workshop is being run by the Mouthy Poets in collaboration with their German sister collective Loewenmaul, and it’s going to be a lot of fun! I really like the idea of using foreign languages as inspiration for creative writing, and I’m really looking forward to trying something a bit different as well.

There’ll also be a performance in the evening, where participants can show off their work-in-progress, and also watch performances from members of Mouthy and Loewenmaul (who’ll be joining the show courtesy of skype).

It’s going to be a really cool event, so if you have a bit of time to kill on the Bank Holiday, why not come along. You can find all the details here.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

POEM - Throwback Thursday

Yesterday, I got an email from the Lookout Gallery in Aldeburgh about some of the poems I wrote when I did a residency there back in 2014. I was there as part of the Museum of Beyond project, a whimsical installation curated by Suffolk artist Fran Crowe.

Fran spends a lot of her time beach combing along the Suffolk coast, using the thousands of eroded plastic objects that she finds as a basis for her thought-provoking artwork. With the Museum of Beyond, she imagines how a future society might see our twenty-first century waste - mislabelling artefacts in a futuristic museum as a way to highlight the levels of pollution in ours oceans and encourage people to rethink the way they currently use and dispose of plastics.

While I was in Suffolk, I wrote a lot about the exhibition, and one of my Museum of Beyond poems has been chosen by the Lookout Gallery for their first ever poetry anthology!

So that's exciting.

And, because I am so very fond of you lot, I thought I'd give you a sneak preview of the poem that's going into the anthology. It's a short one called 'Lighter' and it goes like this:

Flick the flint, ignite the spark,
Illuminate the deepest dark.
Illuminate all shades of grey
Until the shadows fade away.
Vanquish every beast and foe,
And light the way you'd wish to go.
Tame the fire and tame yourself,
Search for beauty, not for wealth,
And never compromise your health.
Signal to each passing ship,
Fan the flames and lick your lips.
Turn the wheels and grind the gears
And cauterise your wildest fears.
Take photographs, not souvenirs,
And measure time in days, not years.

Found artwork by Fran Crowe

Inspiration for 'Lighters'

I wrote loads of poems during my stay at the Museum of Beyond. This one is called 'Change':

Change.
That's what the sign said.
Change now. Change for good.
Because a change is as good as a rest
And the rest can take care of itself.
Change
Not for the sake of changing
But for the experience of being changed.
Make a change. Change your mind.
Know that adaptability breeds creativity
And inertia is a choice born from fear.
Choose to change.
Change.
Change your ways. Change your mind.
Have a change of heart.
Because only then can you start to become
Who you are.
Some things never change
Don't be one of them.
Some things never change.
That's what the sign said.
Change.

Change, Angel or Danger? No one knows

There's *so* much plastic in the seas, you guys

The amount of plastic in the world's oceans is a massive problem - with some studies estimating that there's over 245,000 tons of rubbish in the seas at any one time. For more information on this issue, check out this National Geographic article, or have a look at the Plastic Oceans website.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Watching Other People Perform


One of the really great things about doing this whole Performance Poetry shiz is that you get to see *so* many fantastic people doing their thing on stage.

But sometimes - because I'm so focused on my own performance - I'm not really fully 'present' to enjoy other people's poetry.

So this year I've been trying to go to more gigs as a civilian rather than a performer. And, let me tell you, it's *so* much easier to relax when you're not busy worrying about your own silly poems!

This is what google thinks 'relaxing' means...

Plus, I always find it really inspiring to watch other poets perform, especially those people who have a perspective that's different from my own.It's amazing to watch someone on stage who has complete confidence in themselves and their poetry, and I always find myself coming away from really great gigs bursting with new ideas.

For example, last week I went along to the Quarterly DIY Poets gig in Nottingham, and we had a guest set from four of the Mouthy Poets: Bridie Squires, Neal Pike, Chris McLoughlin and Robbert van Dongen. Their poetry collectively blew me away, and even though all four of them had very different styles and perspectives, I found that I could relate to each of their poems in a really visceral way.

The gig also featured some incredible poetry from the DIY Poets, and I was particularly struck by the coincidental overlappings between the work of different poets. That's something that I don't think I would have noticed if I was busy angsting over my own performance.

Anyway, I came away with a notebook full of half-formed ideas and hurried scribblings, and I got the chance to see some of my favourite Nottingham poets, so all in all it was a pretty productive night for me!


I'm going to continue my winner's streak by heading down to FONT Festival next Saturday night for a poetry triple-feature at the Lofthouse in the Lacemarket.

The first one, God Save the Teen by Mulletproof poet (aka Andrew Graves), is one I've been wanting to catch for a long while. It's a show that recounts Graves' past life as a council youth worker, and speaks about the tragedies and triumphs of adolescence in what the reviewers have termed is an accessible and often humorous way.

Then, there's 'Cutting Edge' a hard-hitting piece of performance poetry by Michelle Mother Hubbard, which deals with the traditional, cultural and historical practices that dehumanise and damage women throughout the world, with particular focus on female genital mutilation. Michelle is a powerhouse of creative energy, so this is definitely going to be an incredibly thought-provoking and powerful show.

Finally, I'm really looking forward to seeing Ben Norris perform. I first saw Ben at Rough Trade back in November, and his unique mix of wit, wisdom, and wonderful wordsmithery had me sold from the very beginning. I'm not quite sure what his new show will be about (the festival website leaves the whole thing delightfully vague) but I reckon it's gunna be a good 'un!

Gigs coming up...
Did I mention that I've got with the very excellent Soapbox Presents… at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket on Wednesday? I’ll be performing alongside some brilliant local talent, including Dan Clark and Lee Turner, plus the headliner is the one and only Harry Baker – who is a huge deal on the international poetry slam scene. a completely massive star on the Spoken Word scene. Harry’s won tonnes of poetry slams, including the London Slam, the European Slam and he was World Slam Champion in 2012!

Harry Baker doing a TED Talk

I wish I could tell you that I'm not massively nervous, but I am! So that's good news for my blood sugar levels! Still, Amy Wragg at Soapbox has put together a bloody amazing lineup, and I'm honoured to be allowed on stage with them all! Tickets are £6 in advance (£4 for concessions) and £8 on the door. Maybe I'll see you there?

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

POEM - Trolling

This poem draws its inspiration from the kind of people who feel the need to insult, berate or generally be odious to others online.

It started out as a straight-forward critique of trolling but, once I’d written the first draft, I realised the tone was a bit too preachy, which felt weirdly hypocritical. After all, I’m no saint myself (although I do my best to exercise empathy where I can).

So, I decided to flip the perspectives a little bit, and write the poem from the point of view of a so-called internet troll. I feel like a lot of people who indulge in these behaviours don’t actually realise how unpleasant they are being to other web-users, so that’s the main thrust of the poem. In this case, the two antagonists are just as bad as each other – but that’s definitely not always the case!

Anyway, I hope you like it. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Trolling (or how not to win an online argument)

I'm not that argumentative, I promise you I'm not
But people on the internet are WRONG and must be stopped!
I'd never pick a fight you see, but if they come to me?
I'll type them out a world of pain (while drinking raspberry tea).

There's one discussion that I'm in that's going on right now
It's more like rational debate than full blown twitter row:
Is she goading me to call her evil, just to prove a point?
Her arguments are circular, and wonky at the joints

But is it all on purpose, to expose my fatal flaws?
And if I turn the other cheek, will she retract her claws?
Is she hoping to provoke me into making a mistake?
Each time I try to block her, she just raises all the stakes.

Her views are so repugnant, and she's aired them more than twice.
I'm poised to invoke Godwin's Law – she left me with no choice.
But, it's got me second-guessing, am I giving her raw data?
Is she capturing my words to do analysis on later?

Does every rash expletive give her cause to write a note?
Am I speaking for humanity and do I want my quotes
Immortalised on paper or in dusty reference books?
If you go back through my twitter feed, you'll see how bad it looks.

I've dismissed all of her arguments because I don't agree
Ignored her issues of debate just like she ignored me
It's the internet equivalent of shouting at a wall
We're talking past each other in this shitty twitter brawl.

It soon devolves to insults, which is proof of the decline:
You wouldn't say it to your nan, so don't put it online.
And finally, I see the light and realise my wrongs
The evidence was mounting up; it's been there all along:

This troll is a philosopher, and I'm her a priori –
I'm falling into every trap, confirming all the stories.
That part with a priori in will cause controversy
I don't know what it means because I failed philosophy

But never let your ignorance detract from your opinions
If what you say is shocking, then they'll flock to you in millions.
And though I didn't start this war, I'll be the one to finish it
Coz losing to a troll is an embarrassing diminish-ment.

And now there's nothing out of bounds, appearance, age, or weight
If you wanted to play fair, my dear, you left it much too late.
I have no time for people who aren't willing to agree;
These battles take my soul from me and all my empathy.

Shit! Maybe I'm the troller, as oppose to the trollee?
Have I ruined everything, and all society?
Am I the culmination of 'What's Wrong With Kids Today'?
Should I pack up my Wifi and then head off far away?

Or am I over-thinking this? I'm fairly sure I am;
That woman's views are awful and she doesn't give a damn!
The only way to stop her is with razor sharp derision
And mockery unleashed with an incredible precision.

She'll never ever listen, but that's not the point you see:
I'll keep on monologuing, with a Caps Lock on the keys.
Laughing at her arguments, and scoffing at her views –
Enjoying every moment, and igniting every fuse.

And while the righteous anger might be fuelling both of us
It's hard to take her at her word, with all this bitterness.
Perhaps she's just an arsehole, but then, I'm an arsehole too.
And there's nothing more that we can say, and nothing else to do.

So maybe Twitter battles aren't the way to raise debate –
I've added her on Snap Chat; let's hope she takes the bait.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

NEWS - Reasons to be cheerful


I had a really bad week last week. Everything I did went wrong and my To Do list was as tangled as a badly-coiled slinky. Then, this week happened, and suddenly everything feels like it’s back on track again.

I had an awesome time at Crosswords on Wednesday, and I’ve booked some tickets to go see some poetry shows as well. Plus, I’ve got a couple of cool gigs coming up, and a positive response for a new project too. So my mood, like the weather, is sunny again. It’s funny how life works sometimes, isn’t it?

This is the wildly unstable life of a poet. And I’m very fond of it.

Recent Gigs:
On Wednesday night, I popped down to the caves underneath the Malt Cross pub in Nottingham for another night of spoken word at Crosswords. This time – perhaps because we didn't have to contend with Kate Tempest performing just down the road – we ended up with a full house, and I had enormous fun hosting the show! The audience was a really good mix of new faces and more established open mic-ers, and they shared some great quality poetry and prose.

We also had a completely breath-taking performance from Leicester-based poet Shruti Chauhan, who mesmerised our audience with her beautiful words. Plus I got the chance to air my fairy lights too! (And that is not a euphemism!)

Photo Courtesy of Cullen Marshall. Thanks Cullen!

Thanks to TC, Phil, Andrew, Cullen, Ashley, David, Gwen, Martin, Jack, Hazel, Grace, Orla, Stephen, Frank, Jacob, Martin and Sam for stepping up to the metaphorical microphone and sharing their stuff. I’m really grateful that so many people are coming along to these events, because open mic nights are nothing without the creativity of the audience, and it feels like the poets of Nottingham have welcomed me with a generosity that it makes me want to do a little cry sometimes. A happy cry, obviously!

Anyway, the next Crosswords spoken word open mic will be happening on Wednesday 8th June, and our featured poet will be the marvellous Michelle Mother Hubbard. You can find all the details on our facebook events page here.

Upcoming Gigs:
Next Thursday, I’m going to be co-hosting the quarterly DIY Poets gig at the Maze on Mansfield Road. It’s going to be fantastic show, with lots of great poetry from the DIY Crew, plus performances from the Mouthy Poets, and a headline set from our very own Hazel Warren. Hazel is one of my favourite poets on the Nottingham scene at the moment, and I’m really excited about seeing her perform an extended set.

The show will also include music from Paul Carbuncle, and it’s going to be a pretty epic night. Doors open at 7:30pm for a 7:45pm start and it’s only £3 per person on the door. You can’t say fairer than that, can you? 

Then, on Wednesday 25th May, I’m venturing back down into deepest, darkest East Anglia to take part in Soapbox Presents… at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket. I’ll be performing alongside some fantastic local talent, in the shape of Dan Clark and Lee Turner, and the headline act for the show is Harry Baker – a completely massive star on the Spoken Word scene. Harry’s won tonnes of poetry slams, including the London Slam, the European Slam and he was World Slam Champion in 2012!

Harry Baker doing a TED Talk

So, that’s a bit nerve-racking! But I know it’s going to be a brilliant show, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of it! Tickets are £6 in advance (£4 for concessions) and £8 on the door.

Upcoming Projects:
I’m really pleased to be working with the Museum of Cambridge on a Summer Poetry Trail project. I’ll be writing a number of poems based on the artefacts in the museum, and these will be fashioned into a trail for younger visitors (And visitors who are young at heart!) to follow, with worksheets available to help identify the objects in the poems.

It’s a really cool idea, and a great way to look at the collection from a new perspective too. The Museum of Cambridge has a huge selection of artefacts relating to Cambridgeshire’s rural history of superstition and folklore, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in!

Source

I’ll also be running a ‘drop in’ creative writing workshop on Wednesday 17th August, with plenty of games and activities for budding poets and writers of all ages. It’s going to be a lot of fun, so if you’re in the area, please do come and say hello! I’ll also pop up more details on to the blog as and when I receive them.

Also this week, I’ve also been organising meetings with all sorts of different agencies, looking for a little pot of money to help fund my poetical endeavours. It’s hard work trying to get paid in the arts, but luckily there are lots of great organisations about, and loads of people who are thoroughly committed to helping to support new ventures. So fingers crossed that we can get something sorted. I’ll certainly keep you posted!

As well as all that, I've also got a new poem on the go! I got the inspiration for it late last night, and I've just been trying to decipher my own notes and get it down on paper this morning. It's weird because it's the first time I've had some inspiration since the end of the #NaPoWriMo stuff, and to be honest, I wanted to give myself a bit of a rest in May. But my brain obviously didn't agree with that train of thought. Ho Hum.

Anyway, I've written the middle and the ending, but I've not quite finished the beginning. Give it a couple more days, and I might just be ready to pop it up on the blog! Exciting times!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

NEWS - Twisted Tongues, Bang! Said the Gun and the Derby Comedy Festival


So, #NaPoWriMo is officially over for another year, and I'm really glad I did it this time around. In the end, I managed to write thirty-seven poems throughout April, so I feel super productive right now! It really was the kick up the arse I needed to get writing, and I suspect that few of the poems that I wrote during the month might even find their way onto my performance rota - after a massive editing session of course!

I even wrote a few free verse poems that I like, which is really rare for me. I love a ballad form, and rhyming is my bread and butter, so I really had to force myself out of that comfort zone with some of these poems. I think it's all good exercise, though I never did manage to write a sestina. Maybe that's a challenge for next year!

I'm trying to, believe me!

Also, I was really proud to have one of my poems showcased as part of this month's Write Lion podcast on the Left Lion website. Left Lion is this awesome arts and culture magazine that's written and produced in Nottingham, and covers everything from visual arts and theatre, to literature, music and even sport! The Left Lion team are great at supporting new and emerging talent, so I'm really pleased to have been featured on one of their podcasts!

The poem I'm reading in the recording is called The Cartographer, and it was published as part of the Write Minds Madder than we Look anthology earlier this year. You can hear Write Minds founder Hayley Green talking about the charity in this podcast too, so check it out on the website here. My part kicks in at around 21:18.

Source

Events:
Last week, I trundled across to Derby for the Twisted Tongues Spoken Word Open Mic at the Old Bell in the Cathedral Quarter, and it was excellent fun! The room was packed to the rafters with poetry lovers, and the open mic performers were really high quality too!

I particularly enjoyed the laid-back, upbeat vibes of Cullen Marshall, and the fantastic comedy of Vincent Saxby, whose story about Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty had me in stitches. Twisted Tongues host, Nafeesa Hamid, gave an incredibly moving performance of a new poem, and there was also a chap who did some really bizarre and brilliant fake horoscopes, which the crowd absolutely loved.

Source

The atmosphere was one of giddy enthusiasm, but the audience were also really warm and welcoming, which is often a difficult balance to strike. I did a couple of poems on stage, and met loads of really cool people. In fact, I liked it so much that I went again the following week, to take part in the Twisted Tongues event at the Derby Comedy Festival. Both nights were really good fun, and I'm definitely going to be going back again next month!

Then, on Thursday night, I sauntered up the motorway to Manchester for Bang! Said the Gun at the Dancehouse theatre.

It was a bit of nightmare driving across the Peaks in the snow, but it was worth it, because the featured poets were both on top form. Ian McMillan went on first, and regaled the audience with hilarious tales of meeting school children and being famous in his home town, while Luke Wright impressed with a series of excellent lipograms.

It's Luke Wright!

Although I was hoping to get on the 'Fresh Meat Open Slam', but my name wasn't pulled from the hat this time around, so instead I watched the slam from the front row, and it was great to see such a huge variety of talent on stage. My favourite was performer Jackie Hagan's brilliant and funny poem about disability, which culminated in her removing her prosthetic leg and drinking a can of lager from it. It was ridiculous and fantastic, and it's definitely made me want to see more of her stuff. The winner of the slam, Sky, also performed a great poem, and her gentle demeanour belied the strong sense of political struggle in her poetry. I think she'll be one to watch in the future!

I really enjoyed the show, and I'm already planning my next sojourn to the Dancehouse!

Next week:
On Wednesday 11th May, we're back in the caves under the Malt Cross pub for another Crosswords open mic. This month, our special guest poet is the very wonderful Shruti Chauhan! Shruti is a poet, writer and spoken word artist based in Leicester. She's performed at festivals and events across the globe, including events at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and the US Embassy’s American Centre in New Delhi, as well as festival and events across the UK. In 2015 she toured Three the Hard Way – Part 2 nationally with Jean Binta Breeze MBE and Lydia Towsey. Shruti is a Breakthrough Artist at Curve Theatre, Leicester, and is currently writing her first solo show.

Shruti - Our Featured Poet for May 2016!

It's going to be a really excellent night, in a massively atmospheric venue, so if you can make, you definitely should! Open Mic slots are available on the night, and it's £2 per person. Doors open at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8pm. For more details, check out the events page.