Sunday, 26 December 2010

Time to Thaw Out

It's been a while since I blogged. There are many reasons for this, such as moving house and getting flu. When I say flu, I mean real flu, the one that pulls out a cricket bat. Knocked me right over and stayed in bed for a week, beginning to see daylight again. Actually the view is fairly snowy here.

So, due to moving have been living in a world of decorating, practical stuff and anaglyptic wallpaper. Now and then have been dipping into the real world of poetry. Went to quite a few events, two of which were in Beeston at the Flying Goose Cafe. Back in November it was Roy Fisher and a couple of weeks ago it was Alexander Hutchinson who entertained us with verse and song. Both events were very memorable and still make me rosy. I also managed to see Alice Oswald in Leicester and she was wonderful, I've been a fan of her work for quite a while so it was a real treat. There is nothing 'superfluous' about her, every word is there because it should be. David Morley at the Nine Arches Shindig in November was great too, as well as Matt Meritt's launch of Hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica which I've just spelt without checking. The sad thing was missing out on Word! a couple of times, due to this moving malarkey, which always gives me a rosy glow.

Not much of a glow in the snow though, twins not mad keen on sub zero temperatures and car refusing to budge at times. 'Look at the robin on the branches' I said to the girls in Beacon Hill and they just looked at me with that 'it's-freezing-let's-go-home-and-have-some-cake' glare which said so much. I love the snow but moving house over the ice has been a challenge I could have lived without. Anyhow, I digress, I'm waiting for the thaw. I'm waiting for my health to be tip-top again and renew some writing life. Next month, next year that is sees the launch of 'Hearing Voices' of which I edited the first issue.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Other Week...Nottingham Shindig

Our Poetry travels take us slightly north again in this blog entry. On Sunday 19th September popped up to the Jam cafe in Hockley to the Nine Arches Shindig to hear Wayne Burrows, Eireann Lorsung, Simon Turner and Matt Nunn as well as the very rich tapestry which is the Open Mic. There were some superb readings and all four main readers were very good and very varied in terms of style. I had wanted to hear Eireann's poetry for a long time and there's something rather spellbinding about her poetry, Wayne Burrows delved into the secret history of Nottingham in his poetry. I loved the poem about medlar fruit, yes, you really do eat them when they begin to rot.  I've got to know Simon Turner's poetry better over the months and one poem really grabbed me, The Ruined Chapel, which can be found here at Hand + Star:

I really admired the unsettling and fascinating imagery in this poem. Matt Nunn stepped in for Roz Goddard and gave us a wonderful perfomance. I noticed that many of the audience were popping over to the table of purchasable poetry delights to have a look at his collection afterwards.

So a good night was had by all - right better go, motherhood duties call. I've been multi-tasking whilst writing this you know!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Filmic and Versified Events

On the first Sunday of every month, 'Rhymes and Wine' organised by Deborah Tyler-Bennett, is held in 'The Swan in the Rushes' in Loughborough. Every first Sunday of the month I dutifully pop along and the one last Sunday was great.

On Tuesday I performed at WORD! in Leicester. It was a special event to promote the film issue of Staple and also featured, as ever, the mighty Open Mic. I was fortunate enough to have a poem selected by the organisers which I performed with a film backdrop. The poem was called 'The Carnival of Souls' and was based on the early sixties horror film of the same name. The film itself is something of a cult amongst film fans; a low budget horror which had lain virtually ignored until it was revived in the late 80s. I watched it years ago as a teenager, one unfestive Christmas Eve, a late night BBC 2 thing, and it stuck in my memory. I performed alongside Lydia Towsey, Jayne Stanton and Pam Thompson. Everyone worked really well together and the whole event had a very sparky atmosphere. During a moment of 'technical difficulty' Lydia was a consummate professional who did one of the funniest and entertaining fill-ins. The films had been produced by Keith Allot and it took place at the Phoenix Cinema in Leicester. The poems will be appearing in Staple.

The open mic was wonderful and is always the highlight as much as the headline act - eclectic and democratic - with a very supportive audience. There are normally 40 or 50 people at WORD! and the other night I think there were even more. Need I say this is a very impressive turnout.

OK, that's two whole nights out! Crikey, after two weeks hol time to back to the writing itself.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The weather and work

Well I'm very chuffed to have six followers! This has renewed my passion for blogging. Honestly, thanks! Currently I'm all askew; have just returned from my travels abroad. When I say 'travels' I also mean a fair amount of time trying to lie still and catch some relief from an air-conditioned breeze.  It was over 40 degrees in Cyprus, last night at 3am on the way to the airport the car read 25.5, which is actually the coolest it had been. A lot of conversation with relatives also hinged on weather details and warnings about heat.

I was determined to try a bit of writing and dutifully pulled out a biro whenever I could, but I couldn't - I was too hot. I managed to keep up with my diary, but that's different, it was between me and the page, but the stuff which needed thought and care, not easy. Plus the twins weren't having any of it, the heat had made them a little feral and rather than napping they were whooping and screaming around my parents' house at the 'siesta' time of the day. The only suitable time turned out to be late night which meant managing a line and then collapising into lots of zzzzs. In such heat you are only made for diving into water. So the only conclusion I could draw was life in colder climate might be more conducive to any form of writing, so the next time you feel hard done by the rain, be grateful.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Having a Joke

Comedy is, of course, a serious business. Ted Hughes once said that all poems are like animals with their own peculiar characters and habits, the one I'm working on now has decided to become a comic creature and this is displeasing its owner. It's on its hind legs in the corner, cocking-a-snook. The comedic poem is not an easy one, you could fall into the danger of foghorn rhyming couplets or just plain naffness. Then there's the type of reaction you want, do you what a listener to smile, say a wry smile because of your deftness of wit or do you want people to really laugh? (Laugh with, obviously...) Plus, who tries to be funny? The magazines are full of earnest things, well mostly. I don't care, let's try it out, it doesn't hurt.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

At the Altar of Shod

Monday night was Shodfest at the Looking Glass in Leicester; an event to celebrate the launch of Shod by Mark Goodwin, published by Nine Arches. The collection 'follows the trail 'of Sidney Realer, the new Shoe Messiah of the modern age. Mark had chosen an array of local poets to read from the book of Shod; Simon Perrill, Steve Carroll, Pam Thompson, Lydia Towsey, George Ttouli, Stevie Blue, Katie Daniels and Matt Merritt, with the man himself shoeing in here and there to read the odd poem. The methodology was ritualistic with the chosen ones being assigned a number from the holy rock shoe and having to read in a Kabbalaesque numerological style. (You following?)
What I really liked about this was the mix of different voices and reading styles, not unlike a church ceremony. I think praise had to go to Simon Perrill who read out the long list of 'begats' which frame the collection in a near trance like fashion - try reading them out. My favourite poem from the collection is 'The Barn of the Sinking Moon' which on the night I think was read by Pam, who was wearing a lovely pair of gold shoes.
Open mic was good and we were treated by the first ever reading on the open mic by Kathy Bell, who read two very strong poems.
May Shod be with you and to quote the Shoe Shine Psalm and so and so.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

July 2010

As this blog progresses I hope to write more about events I've been attending. I should really write about events in July, because a fair amount happened. At the beginning of the month I went to WORD!, well-known for being the longest running spoken word event in Leicester. It's always very lively and eventful and has a fabulous open mike. The guest reader was Steve Warnes Carroll, who was very entertaining. I was fortunate enough to get the Word poem of the month for 'Jack of the Mirrors.' Charles Lauder also received this for his very memorable poem 'Ring of Fire.' This is the link if you want to know more:

Thanks very much to Pam Thompson for sorting out all the details.

I also attended the Southwell poetry festival where I read with Nottingham Writer's Studio. I met some fabulous people and heard some great poetry. The event was (mostly I think?) organised by Sheelagh Gallagher who worked tirelessly to make everything run as smoothly as possible. My slot also included the fabulous Andrew MulletProofPoet Graves, the self-labelled 'poet laureate of drunkards and peasants.' Reminded me a little of John Cooper Clarke, who I loved as a teenager. The list also included Rowland Nelken, John Micallef, and Roberta Dewa who read an very poignant piece called 'Shackleton's Ghost,' I'd like to hear this again. Thanks very much to Wayne Burrows for putting the event together.

Afterwards, Siobhan Logan performed her poetry in a wonderfully constructed event called 'Firebridge to Skyshore;' a presentation of sound, light, images and inspiring poetry about the curious Northern Lights of the Arctic circle. She fused myth, science, folklore and imagery seamlessly. I felt like I was on an incredible journey throughout and felt the chill in the July humidity.

Also went to the Nine Arches Shindig in Leamington where I read alongside three wonderful readers: Roz Goddard, Julie Boden and Deborah Tyler-Bennett. There were also some great open mic performances too. Julie's performance cut deep and Roz's poetic take on the Sopranos made me want to hear more. Deborah never disappoints at her readings and recent work on English dandies, aristos and eccentrics really stands out.

Oh this entry is long, ok memo to self: learn economy (and see Northern Lights at some point).

Friday, 6 August 2010

Picador Poetry Prize

A very lucky emerging poet is going to win a fabulous prize:

deadline: 1st September

Lyric Lounge Leicester - July 30th

Last Friday managed to get down to the Lyric Lounge,  in Leicester's New Walk Museum. In the morning went to a reading by Fatima Al Mattar, who is a local poet I've admired for a while. She manages to weigh intellect and sensitivity in the right doses. Her readings are full of depth and sincerity, and she also has the most beautiful voice. After lunch it was Jean Binta Breeze who I think is currently writer in residence at New Walks, so her reading tended towards heritage and culture, delivered with her trademark energy and spirit. In the afternoon attended John Hegley's workshop and did some very intriguing things with pens and felt tips accompanied by the man himself on the mandolin.

Wished I could have got to more. Thank you to the organisers, especially Lydia Towsey who seemed very busy, (seeming to be everywhere at once I think), the energy of that woman!

Fierce Imaginings - spherical metaphors

Imagine a soap bubble brushing the side of your face. Nice, isn't it? Now imagine a cricket ball. Okay you can get up now. The soap bubble is the desire to write, the cricket ball is the thing that prevents you from writing. This could be anything; rejection; having to spend time on a 'proper job' which pays the bills etc. Now I won't include having children in this I'm afraid, because I found having children helped the writing process. It sped things up; look at those unspolit, faultless faces! Life is short, do the things you want to do etc. I certainly won't include tidying or shopping, because that's a rotten excuse. Having a clear 'mental space' helps and perhaps to achieve this you have to put aside your own feelings and emotions and just write. The writing itself is what counts.

Back to soap bubbles. They're beautiful aren't they? Fragile, fleeting, they burst at the merest touch. My toddlers are always trying to grab hold of them and look completely perplexed when they fade. The beauty is in creating in them, watching them float by, letting go eventually. Blowing about a dozen of them before you get the right one, the perfect one and even then there are more waiting.  You could spend your whole life creating and watching. Do you see what I'm getting at here?

Writing will find a way. I have spent many years of my adult life either avoiding or ignoring the writing urge and it's only caused a lot of grievance. I get sucked by into the body and memory of myself as a little girl who used to write, consider and dream. Knew there was a way of saying things differently, couldn't quite tease it out but was determined to get to the truth of it somehow.

I may be 80 years old and still be no closer; it's worth a try.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

I'm setting up a blog and here's why

Yesterday I had a moment of panic. It's the twenty-first century and people keep blogs. I had been planning to start one for a long while. So this is the intention: to use the blog as a public space to record thoughts and ideas, a scrapbook of experiences. I loved the idea of keeping an online commonplace book, which is a pleasant fusion of the old and new. In case you're wondering what a commonplace book is, here'a very handy definition from my friends at wikipaedia, so it must be true:

"Such books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and humanists as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator's particular interests."

My commonplace book is concerned with the practice of writing, of which I do copious amounts, mainly poetry and reviews. One day I'll write a novel, honest. In the meantime I'll keep a blog. Wish me luck.