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.

(Re)Learning

Collage of a person with glasses, the lid of their head off, showing their brain and a lightbulb. There are roses, bridges, tentacles, gin bottles, ostriches, a river and hands holding tumblers and chalices.
Image: lisaleo via Morguefile.

Previously, I told you I would talk more about neurodivergency later, so here is that later.

As I’ve said before, I am doing a part-time Master’s Degree because I felt like doing a full-time one would be too much work, specially since I hadn’t been in Higher Education for ages and I needed some time to get used to learning again. Re-learning, one would say.

I have been through a lot since then, and I felt like I left a chunk of my brain rotting in a cupboard in a past life. Reading is now more difficult than when I was 18 gulping Sartre’s Nausea in five days while listening to ISIS (the band) on my discman, sitting on a comfy couch at the multicultural centre at seven in the morning. Now it takes me hours to get out of bed and if it wasn’t for my cat, I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. Or at all.

Digital abstract art of brain network in black, blue, green, purple and pink.
Image: lisaleo via Morguefile.

Words are confusing. Music is distracting. Senses overload. I soak up too much information at the same time while understanding, digesting and producing is slow and painful. Even writing this feels like dragging myself through the North Pole, snow up to the knees. Making things make sense to me is complex. Making my things make sense to you is a lot worse. It’s like chewing up, swallowing, chewing up, swallowing, spitting out, then having to chew it up again because it’s shite.

The disability department at DMU did some screenings at the start of first term. I went to take them to see what this was all about. If it was just good ol’ PTSD and shock doctrine regressing me into a toddler stage. I took a dyslexia group screening and an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder interview. I was already diagnosed with ADHD in Mexico around three years ago and had some extensive research done when I was four years old which showed that while I was bright, it would take me ages to reach that stage of brightness because I was away with the faeries and basically a fucking changeling jumping into a swimming pool wearing a pretty dress in October. But the NHS was taking none of this. They probably think I went to a witch doctor — I didn’t, but so what if I did.

After these initial tests at uni, I went through deeper tests. A lot of the exercises reminded me of the ones I took when I was a child. I could almost say they were fun. I loved the one where you look through the yellow pages while counting the beeps on a telephone. Maybe that’s why I love writing while listening to podcasts now? See, while it might take me a while to not be an executive dysfunctional tadpole, I like multitasking. Just don’t ask me to do it RIGHT NOW. Don’t ask me for perfection, because I already beat myself over achieving perfection in every way. Ask for things, but not too soon. “They’re not enchiladas”, we would say.

Black and white mirrored picture of telegraph poles, cables all connected to each other.
It’s all connected. Image: quicksandala via Morguefile.

Some other testing parameters, like questionnaires and therapy talk, were a lot more painful. I think I cried in a few of them. Sam, the ADHD therapist, poked so many sore points and put some TCP on the wounds. It stung like a bastard, but it helped to heal somehow. It made clumsiness, confusion and patterns make more sense.

Early this year I got the results confirming ADHD and dyslexia. Of course I wish circumstances were easier, but it is such a relief to know what is going on. Not only that, but to know that the school is on my side. They have Assistive Technology and tutors are a lot more lenient about deadlines and note-taking. I have been taking a lot of workshops and learning to use some software. I’m still waiting for news about this, but I might even be eligible for some extra studying assistance and devices.

I am also in the queue for counselling and therapy because of my regular dysthymia and emo drama. ADHD and dyslexia are more neurological and about the wiring of the brain. The dysthymia/mood issues are more psychological and psychiatric. They are not related to each other, but they certainly don’t help each other. We’ll see how it goes.

Picture of a child and a Saint Bernard in the snow, catching snowflakes with their tongues out.
Bork. Image: Roxanneh, via Morguefile.

I still need to be more lenient on myself and don’t be so self-judgmental. I have friends, family and people who love me no matter what. I have accomplished quite a lot. Going through these tests, for instance, knowing that I could have just called deuces and quit everything. I still went through and still go through. Walking through the snow, side by side with a Saint Bernard dog carrying a keg of brandy across their neck.

Back into The Habit of Journaling

Extreme close up to an open notebook, squared paper, with a series of words . handwritten in black ink. Some of these words include "Fitted", "PARALLEL", "ASSEMBLE", "Balance", "Workshop" and "HABIT".
Image: DMedina via Morguefile.

Gee, I haven’t been here in a g e s. Last time I wrote something was in October, which more or less happens to match with the time I started my Master’s Degree in Cultural Events Management at De Montfort University.

After my last adventure into Higher Education — a full-time Master’s in History of Art at Bristol University around eight years ago
— , I decided to take it “lightly” this time and do it on a part-time basis: two years instead of one, two subjects per term instead of four. However, while DMU is really good at practical and creative courses, it is also really, really, really strict. Assignments that have to follow certain parameters, high emphasis on primary research (e.g. interviews, surveys, observation) rather than secondary (e.g. books, journals, the Internet). I love it, but it kicks my arse, but I love it, but it kicks my arse.

A person in front of a large wooden table, with open books, notebooks, folders and printouts. The person holds a black and white pen on their right hand, and it looks as if they are revising a stapled printout consisting of several light blue sheets of paper.
Image: Sarahthecat via Morguefile.

The great news is that through constant one-on-one tutorials and library workshops, they basically take your hand and teach you how to go through each process. More efficient research, formatting, time management, and so on. And if you’re neurodivergent — I’ll talk more on this later —, they have brilliant Assistive Technology and can be a bit more lenient about deadlines and note-taking.

One of the loudest words of advice from my tutor was to get into the habit of reflective journaling. Writing a few words each day about lectures, interesting stuff I find out, life in general, to get used to spill letters quicker and stronger. This should be easy, considering the fact that I do a lot of poetry and songwriting in general, but I’m also an executive dysfunctional self-loathing machine who lets a lot of excuses get on the way. The biggest excuse of them all, asking myself “why bother, no one’s gonna read it”.

A person on a wooden table, under the light of a desk lamp. The person is about to write something with a red pen on a lined notebook. To their right, lies a mobile device (either a smartphone or a music player) and a tumbler full of markers, highlighters and pens.
Image: Sarahthecat via Morguefile.

So I’m going to try to fight that right now.

Seed Creativity Mingle with the Media

Traducción próximamente.Friday was a busy day in terms of networking and seeing familiar faces in Leicester. While the morning and afternoon belonged to Friendly Friday, the early evening was all about Seed Creativity‘s Mingle with the Media.

Dan Lamoon and Jon Prest have worked together as founders of Seed Creativity since 2008. As well as being a creative design agency, Seed offers training for younger people who are eager to enter the industry. They work closely with De Montfort University, and they facilitate a module for third-year students. As part of this module, Creative Media Entrepreneurship, Dan and Jon arranged an event at the mezzanine of the Curve theatre where undergraduates and graduates could meet influential groups and potential leads.

Mingle with the Media was organised in partnership with some of the boldest names in the local industry. One of them was Citizens’ Eye, community news consultancy that trains citizen journalists and supports neighbourhood-based publications and theme-specific agencies.

Art by a DMU student
Art by a DMU student.

Leicester is involved with somewhereto_, the national organisation that helps 16-25s to find a place where they can follow their hobbies and vocations for free. They have borrowed libraries, galleries, gardening spaces, screen rooms, hotdesks, magazines, websites, a shopping centre store and even stalls at the market; anything to push young people into achieving their dreams from an early stage in their lives.

LCB Depot, the creative hub just around the corner in the Culture Quarter, talked about their workrooms, gallery, meeting rooms and their sparkling new coffee shop and kitchen. It’s necessary to mention that they offer business development courses for entrepreneurs of all levels; including the Creative Enterprise Hub, a nine-month programme that includes constant mentoring and free access to office facilities either at LCB Depot or Phoenix Square.

The café at Phoenix Square has its healthy dose of networking every Wednesday: if one week you don’t find yourself ogling at illustration portfolios at Creative Coffee, then you’re comparing sizes and colours of Raspberry Pi boards at Leicester Tech Startups Open Coffee. Either way, you’re having fun, talking to people, and perhaps meeting your entrepreneurial soulmate!

Nope, I'm not a photographer. Maybe you are?
Nope, I’m not a photographer. Maybe you are?

Of course I wasn’t the only one who had the Friendly Friday  – Seed Media combo: Kate from Spring to Action teleported all the way from Just the Tonic and remained fresh as a daisy. Tobias Gould from WISE changed a few minds about the definition of a social enterprise: it’s NOT necessarily a charity shop. It can be a business of any nature as long as it gives back to the community. If you’re a student and you want to volunteer for a good cause using any of your skills and strengths, talk to him.

My discovery of the night was Creative Leicestershire. They had plenty of information about freelancing in the creative industry, but more inclined towards arts: their doors are open to visual artists, craft makers, printmakers and creative writers. You can access their directories if you are looking for courses and workshops, creative services or your next favourite artist.

No wonder the students looked so happy and fascinated. This was a brilliant opportunity to connect them with the outside world before coming out of their educational incubator. Not many organisations nor universities prepare their children for the big, brave world. Some of them were already quite involved with their soon-to-be alma mater, and thanks to the help of courses and events like the ones offered by Seed Creativity and friends, they will absolutely come out readier than their previous generations. I’m a bit jealous of them. 😛