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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

5 things for the Spring/Summer Season... in brief

I've been a busy bunny.

Sadly, a lot of what I'm doing now won't bear any fruit till a couple of months (or more) down the line. But here's some of what I'm working on, which you'll hear more of as summer arrives:

I Spoken Word Educator project

The Summer term has well and truly begun! Our next Spoken Word Showcase will be on 19th June (details on request) and then the project will be moving on to phase two, expanding into five more schools and taking on six more trainee educators.

Here are poems from two of my fellow educators, which I've enjoyed watching/listening to over the Easter break:

Keep posted for more!

II Spoken word pieces

I've also put together my first pamphlet set of poems (sorry, I don't like that word). I've got stuff in the pipeline and should have a fuller, proper collection out at the beginning of 2014; during the space in between now and then, I thought I'd put some of my Spoken Word pieces out there, in an easy format.

I just had a proof come in the post this morning; I'm too scared to look it over... But you'll hear more about it next week.

III Edinburgh

It's official! From 18-24th August, my first solo show, Utter! Presents: Identity Mix-Up, will be on in Edinburgh. I've spent a few days talking with friends and building up ideas; I've had to re-write something that I planned for the beginning (the data was wiped from my old phone, so I've lost all the notes and poems I've written on the bus/tube over the last few months... technology, eh?); I've had to think about the show having a beginning, middle and end and why I described it in the listings as "tragi-comic" (what does that even mean?); we (that's me and three fellow fringe poets) have even started planning a "scratch" performance in May (details soon). All that's left is for me to finish writing the show!

Updates to follow in a separate blog, also starting next week. Also will be updating you on the other poets travelling to Endinburgh under the Utter! umberella (ella-ella-eh-eh-eh).

IV Poetry/Prose/Proposals

Just one or two gigs this month as I'm using the time I'm not performing to recharge, reconnect with friends/ fam and write some more. By the summer, I'll have more poetry out there, with another small self-pub'd collection, before the big one comes out early 2014.

I'm finding the novel hard to fit in; despite that, I've had some incredibly positive feedback from people who have read or heard extracts recently. I'm in this for the long-term so not going to rush things, but any advice more than welcome :) I'm not setting a deadline for this, but hoping to share parts of a final draft by August.

V And the rest... 

Apart from writing, teaching and twiddling my thumbs, I'm having more of a social-emotional life. Easter break's been good for nurturing that and I hope to see more of my friends over the next couple of months (that is, outside of poetry gigs and chance encounters.)

I'm also considering where to take this blog. Feedback would be helpful - should I share more poetry, more about the stuff I'm writing, more comments/rants or photos? Any thing else? Or should I take this to another format ie Tumblr or Wordpress? In any case, I'll be bearing that in mind.    

Thatcher and other anomalies

Also on my mind is the Ironess; I've seen Thatcher's death reported with extra-tactful ambivalence, while a few sway more strongly one way or the other. But my favourite phrase at the moment has to be: "Whatever you feel about her..." (usually followed by, "she changed the shape of British society/the economy/blah blah blah". Or "she had a human side"). And I tend to agree with this article.

It's easy to talk about showing "respect for the dead" and it's easy to criticise people for a song choice, and to censor it; it's less easy to accept people's right to express strong feelings either way. I've always had reservations about calling anyone a "witch" or "wicked", or any other such epithet; I didn't know her personally and I'm usually polite. But I do know that the effect of her actions on individuals and the nation alike have been profound. And whilst I think that most of these effects were profoundly damaging, I also know it's the shape of my politics which make me feel the way I do. I know and respect (sometimes at a cost) people who think she's the best thing that happened to Britain, and the world. I would appreciate if this respect (for the living, and for those who live with the consequences of her actions) was a two-way thing.

On a lighter note, she did teach me something the first time I thought she died. I must have been six years old. Towards the end of the day, some of the dinner ladies at school were whispering to each other: "Thatcher's resigned". They seemed shocked in a way I'd only previously seen when someone at our school "passed away". So I assumed "resigned" was yet another euphemism for death, until a very patient teacher explained the word to me.

I hope I can learn something the second time around... perhaps by random acts of kindness or perhaps by learning to appreciate huge differences of opinion and take them on the chin.

pic from the "random acts..." facebook page
Ok, I don't want to end here. There's so much more going on in the world. And the world can be a frightening place.

Instead, I'll mention that I'm off to see Concha Buika on Thursday. YES!

(P.S. "...Todo en la vida se paga..." Good motto.)

Monday, 15 April 2013


...coming up. Check back later this eve

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Upcoming Gig... Bus Driver's Prayer TONIGHT!!

Info below and more to come a little later!

This month's night of music, spoken and buses features two fabulous acts: the smooth and sultry spoken word sound of Keith Jarrett; and to complement him, the hotly-tipped indie songsmith, Soulmates Never Die.

It is all at Kahaila Cafe, the bring your own booze venue on BrickLane (top end, near the beigel shop), which also has some gigantic cakes on offer.

Entry is a fiver, with an extra pound for those bringing booze - which guarantees a cheap, quality night out.

With your hosts:

Bus Conductor: Jamie Smart
Bus Driver: Andrew Brown
Bus-spotter: Richard Purnell

Friday, 5 April 2013

Before You Leave/ Parting Words

Here's one I wrote a while ago which I meant to post up before...

Before you leave
Remember that these streets don’t owe you
Remember that these paving slabs are just stepping stones
For you to find a path back home
But don’t let the railings keep you boxed in
Forge your own way
And don’t be led astray
By the sway of thick hips
Or by lips with quick-talk
Or by eyes wide with promises
That can never be fulfilled
Be strong-willed
But softly-spoken
And keep your mind open
Even if it gets filled with junk
Because ideas are for recycling

Before you leave
Remember that these streets don’t own you
And you don’t own them
For your time on Earth is on loan
And you walk it alone
Even though you share the pavement
With those that you love
But don’t be chained to these streets
Don’t let them claim you
For you may think you're “on road”
But you are not your postcode
So don’t let signposts contain you
Just let them guide you to the destination you choose
And don’t let your shoes get bogged down
With the talk of this town
And don’t wear your sole out
By treading the same ground

Before you leave
Remember that these streets don’t know you
Like you know them
For their routes are mapped out
But yours are fresh with every breath
And your thoughts are more complex than any city
And only you can navigate your way through
So use your heart as a compass
And your spirit as an atlas
And you will lose yourself
And find yourself again
And learn that the race
Is not just about winning
But getting back on track

Before you leave
Remember not to pack
All of my pedestrian advice into your emotional baggage
Lest it be heavy on your back
For you will find your own space
Discover your own place
And when you do
I hope you do not lock the gate to your heart
Even if you aren’t awaiting guests
For many a good thing comes from what we don’t expect

Just remember that you are loved

That you are more perfect
Than the neighbourhoods that raised you
That there are avenues
Waiting for you to walk through
But you must search for them
They will not come to you
For these streets do not owe you their promises
Nor do you own their secrets
Nor do they know your depths
As you negotiate your steps

Before you leave
Just remember to stand tall
For you are loved
Remember that others may follow your footprints
So walk good
And step true
As you wind your way through
To whatever destination you have in your mind
I hope you find that these parting words serve you well