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.
I’ll be reading a couple of pieces from Meanwhile, some old/new stuff and finally present my NaPoWriMo 2020 poem (this year I’ve been writing a couple of lines a day instead of a poem a day, resulting in a poem a week). So let’s see how it goes.
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.
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: email@example.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.
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.
10 October 2019 6pm to 8pm Sharing Space, Portland Building De Montfort University
Based on the concept of liminality, this poetry and performance workshop aims to motivate those who feel stuck between nationalities, races, genders, bodies, legal and educational status. Open to everyone, particularly refugees, migrants, survivors of domestic abuse and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Here we can create and share work in a safe environment, following prompts and inspiration from other liminal poets and give performance and confidence advice to those who want to speak their truth but don’t know how.
The workshop will be provided by Cynthia Rodriguez, a Mexican-British writer and performer who writes from between the lines based on their life as a non-binary migrant whose ethnicity and background cannot be found in the regular British census.
This event is organised as part of Everybody’s Reading, a month-long festival aiming to inspire Leicester to read, write, listen and speak. The rest of the programme is also really good and highly recommended.
While the event takes place at De Montfort University, attendants don’t have to be students or staff members of the institution to attend. Just be excellent to each other.
The event is +18 only since difficult and upsetting topics might be discussed. We have a safer spaces policy and assistance in case anyone needs it.
To those who came to see my set at Manchester Punk Festival: thank you so much! It was a wonderful weekend of music, poetry and pals. It was great that y’all managed to get to The Thirsty Scholar on time to see me share some old and new stuff. I was staying in a cosy attic in Hebden Bridge, and while the place was so lovely and cuddled up amongst green hills and cute dogs, I underestimated how far it would be and how difficult public transportation could get, so I barely made it on time to my own show. But I made it!
Highlights of the weekend as copypasted from twitter:
Saturday: yer da getting through their word set, @beehartyeah being unashamedly pop (which is punk af tbh fire me), coffee pilgrimage and records with @onsind, and @CrywankBand bringing on the doot doots 🎺🎺🎺🎺
Honorific discovery mentions to @BeffernieBlack for living The Real L Word life with tenant girlfriend, fixing her dad’s laptop in France and Actually Looking Good with a Bieber haircut; @munciegirls because fuck Jeremy Clarkson; and @TheHardAches with good ol’ school OZ emo. 👍
I missed Sunday because of the trains, so I chilled at the Hebden market before coming back straight to Leicester. It was lovely except for that old dyke who wouldn’t eat anything from the Greek stall because it wasn’t English. So I had a chickpea curry pasty on the train. Someone’s gotta eat that delicious foreign food, so I volunteered as tribute.
ANYWAY. Back in Leicester.
This Wednesday, 1st of May, I am opening for Hannah Swings at Upstairs at The Western. She has a book called This Dress Has Pockets. Best kind of dress. She also coached Birmingham Uni for UniSLAM last year and not only helped the team win, but won at CoachesSLAM. Great stuff. Come and watch her. And me. And Rubies & Duels. £8, £6 concessions. Gonna do a more or less similar set to MPF with oldies and newbies, so if you missed that, this is your time for redemption I guess. Wink wink.
Punk is not just three chords, spiky hair and badly sewn black patches. Punk, above all, is ethos. Out and loud, no middle men, making it work with what you’ve got against a mainstream current that gives advantage to oppressors. Honesty, no fucks given, actual free speech, in unity and solidarity with those who get the short end of the stick. Breaking the law that needs to be broken.
So you can be punk in music. In comedy. In art. In poetry and performance. And I’ve been invited to do the latter at Manchester Punk Festival 2019 in a couple of weeks. The festival takes place on Easter Weekend (19-21 April ) through different venues across the Deansgate/Oxford Road area.
The poetry people will be at The Thirsty Scholar every day during the early afternoon. On Friday, you will get to see and hear the words of Geneviève L. Walsh, the best goth in Halifax. Before her, you can see Martin Appleby from Paper and Ink Zine, and Kit Rayne from Umbrella Poetry.
I will be performing on Saturday 1:30pm sandwiched between the open mic (come and read your stuff) and the fantastic Bridget Hart. So if you like bespectacled heartbroken fem/mes in their 30’s who love Sleater-Kinney and their friends, we are your people.
On Sunday, you can see the colourful Suky Goodfellow all the way from Scotland, writer and facilitator Simon Widdop, and stage organiser Henry Raby from Say Owt. Great stuff.
Of course you can still go for the lols and for the music. And the atmosphere, food, and so on and so on. Some band queens got together and are releasing a special edition beer if you want to try.
Besides performing and being a spoken word dork, I will be seeing a few acts and bands. Looking forward to see Martha, Rachel Fairburn, Suggested Friends, Charmpit (been meaning to catch them for aaaaages), Big Joanie, The Winter Passing, Fresh, Cheerbleederz, Perkie and Crywank. Plus whatever I get to discover in between.
The full lineup, plus some tips about enjoying both the festival and the city, are available now on the Manchester Punk Festival website.