Saturday, 24 March 2018

A Spanish Poetry Adventure for World Poetry Day

¿Hola, cómo estás? ¡Y feliz Día Mundial de la Poesía!

I've just come back from a week in Spain as part of a UNESCO Cities of Literature exchange between Nottingham and Granada. It was my first ever work-related business trip - and my first time in Spain - and I was totally bowled over by how beautiful Granada was!

I mean, look at this! 

We spent three full days in the city, and it was glorious!

We'd been invited by the team at Granada City of Literature, who were really keen for Georgina Wilding to perform in the city in her capacity of Nottingham's Young Poet Laureate as part of Granada's celebrations for World Poetry Day.

The press conference at City Hall to celebrate World Poetry Day

While we were there, Georgina took part in a press conference with the Mayor of Granada, and performed her poems as part of the Granada Poetry Festival (with a Spanish translation, of course).

She also met the UN Goodwill Ambassador, filmed some interviews for the Granada City of Literature website, performed English poetry in children's bookshops in the city, and we both accidentally ate octopus tentacles!! (This is what happens when you can't read the menus!)

Serving suggestion...

I also did a short performance in Boops bookshop in the city, as part of our visit. The bookshop owners were so kind, and even asked me to recite one or two of my own poems as part of the show!

I didn't go quite so far as performing Shaving Grace because half the audience were under 5s, but I did a few of my less rude pieces, and the mums and dads in the crowd seemed to enjoy them, so that was good!

I recorded an interview at Granada City of Literature too, during which I managed to be half-way articulate (for once), and George and I recorded poems with a Nottingham connection in the splendid surroundings of the Federico Garcia Lorca Building in the city centre.

Getting a poetic grilling from Antonia and Jesús 

It was a whirlwind of a visit, but the folks at Granada City of Lit looked after us so well, and we even had time to check out the Alhambra, which is a beautiful palace built in the thirteenth century by Yusuf I, who was Sultan of Granada back when parts of Andalucía were under Muslim rule.

It was so sunny when we visited the Alhambra!

I loved taking an audio tour around Granada Cathedral as well. It's one of the largest Catholic buildings in Europe, and is huge and imposing and incredible and stuffed full of glorious Renaissance artwork!

In fact, the whole city has a completely fascinating history, with Islamic, Jewish and Catholic cultures all rubbing up against one another in the Mediterranean sunshine to create a place so steeped in history, I ended up feeling a little bit overwhelmed by it all!

Arty (aka poor-quality camera phone) photo of Granada Cathedral's interior

As you can probably tell from my gushing praise, I don't get to travel a lot, but if everywhere is as beautiful as Granada, then I can't wait to explore more of Europe in the near future!

Although, having said that, George and I were less than lucky with our flights...

Our first flight on Sunday was delayed by three hours due to the snow, then cancelled after we'd already spent an hour sitting on the plane on the runway! After getting up at 3am, we were back home by 10am and frantically trying to book alternative flights.

Then, our second flight was scheduled for Monday afternoon, so we took a train to Manchester, then flew across to Granada. Only, there was a big storm in Southern Spain that evening, which meant wicked-bad turbulence and an emergency landing in Malaga, two hours behind schedule. Then it was a two hour coach trip before we finally made it to our Airbnb.

It's a loooooong way down!

On the night before our return flight, I said to George "Well, at least it can't be as bad as the trip down here."


To be fair, we were only delayed by two hours this time - and that was due to French Air Traffic Control Strikes - but it was still a bit of a drag.

These are our 'delayed on the runway again' faces 

Still, it hasn't put me off, and hopefully I'll be going abroad again in a few months' time. Watch this space for more details about that soon!

In the meantime, April is Nottingham Poetry Festival month, so keep your eyes peeled for a blog about all the cool events we've got for you this year!

Moar Poetreeeeeeeeee!

Friday, 2 March 2018

A Very Busy February

Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry it’s been so long since I last updated you on my comings and goings. But February was just such a busy month!

In fact, here’s a list of all the things I’ve been in the last four weeks:

I took part in a listening party for the #HAUNTS theatre writing project with New Perspectives theatre, and listened to all the wonderful pieces devised by our writing group, which had been performed and recorded by the New Perspectives team. (I can’t wait to share my piece with you – it has a wizard in it! But for now, it’s still Top Secret!

I performed at Verse? Aye! a fantastic charity poetry event in Kidderminster, hosted by the brilliant Matthew Nicholson, with really funny and moving performances from Dominic Berry, Genevieve L Walsh, Fergus McGonigal, Spoz, Nick Lovell, Charley Barnes and Dwane Reads

I led a series of memory workshops with local people for the Enchanted Waters project, gathering stories about people’s experiences with the Nottingham canals and turning them into commissioned poetry that I then performed as part of a series of intimate shows on a narrow boat on the canals themselves.

Doing poems on a boat!
I hosted another cracking Crosswords Open Mic night downstairs in the Malt Cross, with our biggest ever audience, and a wonderful headline set from Lexia Tomlinson too!

I accidentally led four workshops with the University of Nottingham at the Festival of Science and Curiosity, helping kids aged 9-11 to create some top-notch science poetry, then mix up their writing using a cool new programme called Ada’s Poetry Engine (written by the academics at UoN and based on fantastic computing pioneer Ada Lovelace).

I got the chance to perform at Fen Speak in Ely, the spoken word night that I helped found when I was Fenland Poet Laureate back in 2013. It was so brilliant to be back in the Fens and see how much everyone’s writing has improved since I’d been away. It really made me miss the Fenland gang!

Ely Cathedral - I didn't perform there, just near there

Oh, and we had another successful 28 Sonnets Later project, writing a series of 28 sonnets over the 28 days in February. This year, Andy Bennett, Russell J Turner, Olly Watson and I were writing sonnets based on other people’s poems, and I was really pleased with how they turned out! (You can see a selection of them here.)

In March, I’m doing lots of wonderful performances in aid of International Women’s Day, and I’m also going to Spain to perform in Granada for World Poetry Day! It’ll be my first ever performance outside of the UK, and I can’t wait!

If anyone knows how to say “I am a poet” in Spanish, please do let me know! I’m going to need all the help I can get!