Despite the apparent online radio silence, the poetry year has, so far, been packed! Here’s a quick summary of the year’s achievements so far. Imagine them as a panorama unfolding to the tune of ‘eye of the tiger’, interjected with a few greyscale close up shots of me looking windswept and determined.
- Starting the new Open Mic night in Reading, SPEAKBEATS!
- Writing and performing a work-in-progress of my new show, 6 Ways to Break a Bird!
- A second round of funding for A City of Foxes!
- Writing ‘Octopus Medicine’ and sourcing a publisher!
So, here we go! SpeakBeats is Reading’s newest open mic night. It is one of three poetry night’s in Reading that I know of and has been gradually growing, which is lovely to see. Although the audience is still small, we are building up a core of performers, which is lovely. As well as open micers, we also have feature poets come from various different places to share their writing. The emphasis here is on artist development. I was really keen to provide a platform for poets of all abilities, who could share their own writing and also experience the work of poets and performers who have more experience. So far, our performers have said the atmosphere is extremely relaxed, friendly, supportive and enthusiastic, which is lovely. We get together and perform once a month on a Saturday evening. We have an event TONIGHT and the next event will be in a month’s time in June!
On top of SpeakBeats, I’ve also been working on my second spoken word show. It is called ‘6 Ways to Break a Bird’ and is an autobiographical story of two things: struggling with body image and making friends with a parrot. Now, you might be thinking ‘but those two things are totally unrelated!’ Well, you’d be wrong, my friend! The story is peppered throughout with that typical metaphor of ‘bird’ to mean ‘woman’, but the whole point is to break down the idea of bird (and therefore woman) as something delicate, fleeting and containable, and rebuild ‘bird’ (and therefore, ‘woman’) as something loud, shameless, intelligent and demanding. My lovely little bird, Maya, has been a huge inspiration for this show (I introduced her as ‘Byron’ in my last blog post, but a DNA test revealed her to be a girl! So I changed her name to Maya, after the wonderful Maya Angelou). She is nearly a year old now and is a really friendly, loving and affectionate little bird. She is just about to hit teenage, so we are bound to experience some mood changes and stroppiness in the coming month, but that’s all part of the adventure! So far, she has travelled with me to Canterbury and sat on my head while I performed the show. She loved the travel and the attention, though was very tired when we get home! The show has already appeared at Canterbury’s Wise Words Festival and at Theatre Utopia in Croydon. It will also be travelling to Brainchild festival and Reading Fringe Festival in July, so keep an eye out!
A City of Foxes is back for a second year, having secured a second round of Arts Council Funding, which is hugely exciting! I am back, working with my director, having just finished rewriting the whole script. Felicity (my director) and I, spent twelve hours over the course of two days completely reworking and redrafting the script. We are both really proud of what we have come up with and are looking forward to beginning rehearsals in earnest this Monday. We are planning to involve baking and tea within the show, particularly as tea is a really strong motif. The show is touring around Reading and will be accompanied by workshops where I plan to gather the poetry of the Reading community, showcasing our ideas of what we believe identity and nationality to mean. The show goes on at RISC on Saturday 18th July, at Rising Sun Arts Centre on Saturday 25th July and at ACRE during one of the first three Wednesday evenings in July, date TBC. All three shows will be immediately followed by an hour long workshop and we are really looking forward to hearing the stories of Reading’s residents and communities!
Lastly, but by no means least, I have been working on a collection of poems, both longer and (comparatively) shorter pieces, using the octopus as a motif. The octopus in these poems is used to represent the human condition, self acceptance, the natural world, isolation and displacement and mental illness. I have been working on this collection since January and am pleased that I have finally completed a first draft! I have been, and still am, working on it until the end of May, when I am hoping to find a publisher to print it for me. I have been in contact with one publisher but will not mention the name as nothing has yet been agreed. Two poems from this collection are also going to be used for future projects in and around the Reading area, provided the collaborating artists and I can find funding, so to get this printed would be a wonderful addition to the projects themselves! I am really proud of this collection and would be very happy for it to be my debut, so here’s to hoping we can find a willing publisher by the end of the year!
So, as you can see, the year has been hectic and action packed so far. On top of nearly completing the first year of my MA in Spoken Word Education, of teaching for three days a week and all of the above, I have also had four poems accepted into literary magazines! Please keep your eyes peeled for poems in:
Cannon’s Mouth Magazine (June or July – two poems)
The Dawn Treader Magazine (July – one poem)
The Dream Catcher Magazine (July – one poem)
That’s all for now, but please look out for further updates regarding shows and performances soon, and enoy the image below of Maya and I performing at the Wise Words festival! Adios!