Friday, 5 July 2013

UPDATE: 5 things for June/July (part deux)


So, two days ago, the shortlist for the Melita Hume Prize was announced and I've been chosen as one of the thirteen shortlisted poets! The full list can be found here. The finalist will be announced in September, so I have a long, agonising wait over the summer, which should hopefully inspire some more poetry.

I haven't posted any new poems lately - mostly because they've been pretty personal, and they've come out in that intense way I haven't written since I was fifteen - but I will start to share more again. Just saw the image for the T.S. Eliot iPhone app and I'm glad to have survived my 25th year (and I'm fast approaching 30) and to still feel like I'm learning to write for the first time.

4. Edinburgh - Identity Mix-Up: where I'm from.

The countdown begins: 44 days until I take the stage at La Tasca with my new fifty-minute show on identity.

So, I've got a basic structure for how everything will work and I've had one main idea mooted. It just won't work without being really offensive and getting away from the point of what I want to talk about.*

Meanwhile, I've been collecting facts upon facts upon facts about identity and how we talk about it. "Identity" is one of those generalised terms that could fit into anything. Do I mean "identity" as a kind of comment on patriotism, or national or regional/"postcode" allegiances? Or do I mean it more loosely, as something that groups individuals into categories: football team supporters; dog owners; Guardian readers? Do I mean "identity" as a means to describe race/gender/religion... etc (the kind of things you put on a monitoring form when you start a new job or buy a new television)? Do I mean it as some kind of existential need to belong somewhere?

The short answer: yes, yes, yes and yes.

The more detailed answer: sort of. It's a big topic that could swallow my show alive. I have fifty minutes, not fifty years and it's a poetry show not an academic thesis so I'll leave much of that to the anthropology department and get more personal with what I mean. And on a personal level, I'm discovering more and more about the labels I hate to use and why I avoid them.

One of the series of questions I detest most is: "Where are you from?", followed by, "No. Where are you from?" I was going to write on this earlier; I get asked at least once every couple of weeks and I'm working out a formula for answering the question creatively. I saw a Facebook post discussing this yesterday and someone posted a pretty funny video that sums up my point. 

*I can explain another time, if anyone's interested.

5. Rest time (and random mattress placements...)

So, now the academic term's drawing to a close, I promised myself I'd get to see more of friends and family and get much more sleep (no alarms, just sleep until I wake up all naturally, like.) Just round the back of the flat where I live, there's an old mattress that's been there for months (yep, welcome to Camden*); I'm enjoying watching the fox and the cat who come at different times of day to curl up and rest there. I won't be joining them but, seeing as it's set to stay warm over the next few days, I may head to the park instead and leave them to it!

As I won't be working as much, I should have more time to write (that's the theory, anyway.) I'm looking forward to walking randomly around town, snapping what I see, chatting to old friends and writing a lot more. But that also means, after 14th July, I'm not going to be doing much in the way of structured activity, and certainly no gigs until August. It'll be hard to commit to doing little but I'm going to keep a freeish diary over the next couple of weeks.

All right, then, off to have my lunch outside!

*Ok, I was sure I'd posted this pic before, but a few months back, someone dumped a mattress on the pavement, under the bridge, a couple hundred yards from where I live. At least one guy decided to use it for its natural purpose (I checked he was ok but didn't want to disturb him, so, on an impulse, I snapped a photo instead.) The mattress saga continues...

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