Bentfest talks

Next week, Bentfest will host a series of talks on their Instagram Live if you want to tune in. The queer punk London festival will host a few of us at 6pm BST:

Images: Bentfest.

Monday, 18th May, Kirsty Fife zine reading and discussion of class, DIY politics, academia and more.

Tuesday, 19th May, Sop will talk about embodiment, chronic illness, sound experiments and more art.

Thursday, 21st May, I’ll be reading a few poems from my upcoming collection Meanwhile, and discuss writing from the in-between.

So yeah, all these days, 6pm BST, go to Bentfest’s Instagram account, look at their live stream on stories, and join the conversation. 👁‍🗨

Alone Together. Ep 2: Arboretum

Adrian B. Earle (ThinkWriteFly) is one of the most active creators and promoters of poetry in the Midlands. VerseFirst is his multimedia portal in which through podcasts and videos he showcases voices from fellow poets across the region.

His latest podcast, Alone Together, is a very interesting project merging words and sounds in small, reflective moments, following a prompt that unites them from a distance.

I am fortunate enough to be featured on its second episode, Arboretum. The poem is called “East Midlands is for Lovers”, and it features Arboretum Park in Nottingham. The episode, less than 15 minutes long, also features work by Lerah Mae Barcenilla and Leila Khanem, threaded through a path of music and ambience by Earle himself. It does feel like a late night walk around an arboretum.

If you want to be part of further episodes, select a prompt that attracts you and follow the instructions on the website.

Update on date

With the whole pandemic going on, this year’s Burning Eye Books releases are staggered. A lot of release parties postponed, cancelled or moved to online (again, gotta love an online event).

So, it looks like Meanwhile will be released in October instead of September. Will add more updates as time goes by, including book release party, tour, or whatever comes next. Smoke signal book tour? Message pigeon delivery service? We’ll see how this match of Civ VI our society is stuck in continues.

Take lots of care. Stay safe, wherever you are. Love you.

Leicester Poetry from home

One of the things I miss from the outside world is spoken word open mic nights. Fortunately, some of my fave nights in Leicester have found a way for us to keep talking, keep listening and keep connecting from quarantine and self-isolation.

Jess Green’s Find the Right Words is now available as a poetry podcast with the usual features of their evenings Upstairs at the Western: speed poet, headline acts, open mic and the raffle. You can access it for $5 USD per month on Patreon. Cheaper than a ticket at the pub. Gutted I couldn’t see Maria Ferguson and Dan Simpson in person this month (as well as whole lovely FTRW tribe), but at least we can hear them.

WORD! hosted by Lydia Towsey, is doing this daily thing on social media called “Poetry to Wash Your Hands to”, where some of us shared a snippet of our work in 20 seconds, the recommended time you should spend washing your hands to get clean and prevent illnesses. This is my video, an adaptation of my NaPoWriMo poem “Taking Back Sunday”, called “Taking Back the Quarantine”.

You can hot desk on your laptop
from your kitchen or your living room.
Don’t be ashamed if your job or vocation’s a labour of love.
Look at art. Make some art.
Read some books. Write some lines.
Listen to some new music. Make even newer sounds.
Lying down on your bed,
know that the quarantine is yours and that you’ve done your best.
Have some rest.

Cynthia Rodríguez – Taking Back the Quarantine

A lot of the time I’ve been feeling useless as someone at risk who can’t just go outside and help, so this is kind of a self-reminder in a way.

WORD! is also releasing an online video of this month’s headline and support act on their Facebook page: Francesca Beard and WORD! Slam bichampion Rosa Fernandez. TONIGHT. 7:30pm.

Next week, you can still perform for Some Antics, regularly hosted by Sammy Nour at Bean Gaming Cafe. Their 15th episode will be released online, headlined by Jemima Hughes, on the weekend of the 3rd of April. If you fancy being on the open mic or exercise your competitive bone at the slam, send Sammy your video by Wednesday 1st April. Donations are more than welcome, to keep Bean Gaming afloat waiting for us in all our nerdom once this mess is all over.

Finally, in the not-so-distant future, Soulful Group are holding their Soulful Sunday relaxed-fit gathering online on 13th April, 3pm. If you want the link to join, email Shobana: hello@soulfulgroup.com

If you’re from Leicester (or the rest of the world because THE INTERNET) and you are holding open mic and poetry events online, let us know.

A title and a date

Burning Eye Books has released its official 2020 programme, featuring all the poetry books they will publish this year. Including mine.

My debut poetry collection is included on that list. Its title is Meanwhile.

Image: David Wilson Clarke.

This is a book about being trapped in the Meanwhile. Walking through seemingly perpetual journeys between borders, genders, nationalities and social status. As a product of mixing races, yet not mixed race. Inhabiting a large body of before with no clear sense of an after. Set to a time of one’s own, decades lost and found in the way, at the mercy of socio-political circumstances, legal procedures and test results. Cyclically prone to fail and start again.

Meanwhile is out on 7th of September, to be available on Big Cartel and all your usual platforms.

More info coming soon.

Play a Dirge at the Punk Gig

I walk into a room and it feels like a funeral.
Pale faces, cold breath, blocked chimneys. Victorian
indoors. Pouts. Sleepy glass see through what
takes up the soil. Once beloved, forbidden now.
Imposter syndrome for actual imposters.
Those who’d dial trebble-nine,
toss my name on the deadpool.
Golden ticket in hand,
numbers match. My demise,
after all, been confirmed. I’ve turned up
to my wake,
uninvited.

Been struggling to articulate what’s happened and felt like whenever I’ve dared to go social these past few months. This is the best I could do.

Branding

Why give away business cards when you can give away stickers?

Trying to change my online presence to my name to be a bit more “serious” and easier to find as a performer. So heads up, the Facebook page will (hopefully) soon change its name from Synth and the Void to Cynthia Rodríguez, with the URL kind of matching this URL now — cynthiarodriguezdotorg.

Twitter is @cynthiadotorg because lemgth is weird, but it’s the same concept.

So yeah, if you see me around, ask for a sticker to make your stuff look spiffy. ✨

National Poetry Day 2019 #SpeakYourTruthPoem “Dark Truths/White Lies”

Today is National Poetry Day, and everyone from living poetry legends like Joelle Taylor to… Brian?! are celebrating with their favourite poems or with pieces created for the occassion.

The theme this year is “truth”, and the National Poetry Day organisers have requested poets to write, perform and video record their work on the subject.

Here is mine. It’s called “Dark Truths/White Lies”. It has captions and it’s included on the video description, but I include the written poem here too anyway.

Dark Truths/White Lies

When I speak the truth,
the truth gets stolen.
As it comes out
and flows,
it’s grabbed
ahold
by stranger hands
from stranger friends
and loves
and relatives
and those
I’d put my trust
in those same hands.
Those hands around
my throat,
they clasp
and choke
– still say it was my fault.
Ignore the marks.
Their fingerprints
100% match.
In the autopsy,
found DNA
as signatures
of those
who chose to bury dark truths
in favour of white lies.
What lies
beneath
the pebbles in their path
is grim but real.
To dance with the devil,
you have to push some people down the stairs.
To replace your dark truths with white lies,
you have to chop some heads off.
But speakers of the truth,
like chicken,
run around for a while
after you think you’re done with them.