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.

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.

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.

Writin from Between the Lines workshop – Everybody’s Reading

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.

The workshop will take place at the Sharing Space in Portland Building. Click here for more information on how to get to the building.

It’s a very nice place. It also has tea and coffee making facilities.

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.

MPF review and upcoming opening for Hannah Swings

(featured image by Tee)

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!

Pic by Gaylord Pazuzu.

Highlights of the weekend as copypasted from twitter:

  • Friday: heartbreaking uprising lines by @SpeakingKit‘s RAYNE OF BLOOD and @genwalshpoet (best goth in all Yorkshire). Shredding pop gayness from @suggestedfronds, glow-in-the-dark transcontinental cuties @charmpitband and post-punk minimal perfection from @Big_Joanie. 💯
  • 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. 👍
Big Joanie on Friday.

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.

Look at this landscape, tho.

ANYWAY. Back in Leicester.

Hannah Swings. Pic and tickets: Upstairs at The Western.

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.

Manchester Punk Festival

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.

Source: Manchester Punk Festival.

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.

Returns

Coming back to this blog after many many months of neglecting this lovely space.

I might just copy/paste Facebook rants and reflections in case they get Zucc’d.

Things in my life have changed a lot. I found out I was not a woman. Nor a man. Nor anything, really. Try using “they” pronouns for me.

I moved out from Clarry Park into the West End and I love it. Currently typing this at the local library, basking on sunshine for the first time in ages. Damn global warming.

If you could vote for a few faves on the Saboteur Awards, it’ll be good:

Shruti Chauhan for Best Spoken Word performance. Totally adore her work on family, language, friendships and the sky.

Find the Right Words for Best Spoken Word Regular Night. Such a patient and open-minded venue for all levels of performance.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta and Ben Connors for Best Collaborative Work. A fabulous zine about the intersections between queerness and race and much more.

This zine, btw, features my poem “Spidergirls”. So yay.

See you around. Expect more updates and changes around here.