After a busy 2015 (the birth of my first child, Ruby ‘the marvellous’ Rose, publication of book, and tour with Shruti Chauhan and Jean Binta Breeze) 2016 has begun fairly sedately. As my partial maternity leave continues and in the wake of Christmas and visitors, the house has never been so wiped to its factory settings clean…all things relative, of course. It is my firm belief that the only thing standing between me and really clean grouting is full time employment, Netflix, and of course a child. Tomorrow, the plumber arrives to swap all the taps in the bathroom with shiny ones I have purchased on ebay – low, do internet shopping and the pipe-dreamt spirits of Find-a-Plumber pages combine to cheat at domesticity.

Ebay shopping, baby-rearing and Netflix aside I have nonetheless been starting to plan and look forward to some specially selected and enjoyable bits of work for 2016, the first of these being a new course for Writing East Midlands’ Writing School, kicking off this month on January 28th. Sort of  dusting the bookshelves, I’ve begun to assemble a reading list, or at least set of titles for me to refer to, enthusiastically photocopy and build copious handouts and exercises in the light of…

books

The course, Writing Poetry for Performance – will build on one I led for WEM in 2015, to explore poetry as performance across a range of genres, styles and forms. Across a series of eight, two hour weekly sessions we’ll be exploring the history of performance poetry; debating the differences and similarities between writing for page and stage and drawing on a wide range of resources (ahem, see above) both written and recorded. From the live performances of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean Binta Breeze and Hollie Poetry (AKA Mcnish) to the poetry, letters and prose of Warsan Shire, Elizabeth Bishop and Margaret Atwood. From Gilgamesh to Ginsberg to Tempest – and via the philosophical lyricism of Gaston Bachelard (my new fav dead writer crush). We’ll be aiming to look afresh and explore familiar subjects in unfamiliar ways. How is writing a journey? How is the poem a house? From places lived, to the structure of reverie and the building blocks of form, the course will explore the practical applications of different approaches; how the music of language can move from intimate to public and how both voices can work in performance.

All in all I’m quite excited by it – not least as the process of teaching and writing often go hand in pen for me, and with the latter potentially suffering when weighed against dusting, Netflix and babying – don’t even get me started on cat-keeping…

jones with toy

Kitsch Cat

Anyway, updates on other stuff to follow as grouting allows – including Venus Papers book touring – and plans for WORD! (our new season launches in February with some VERY exciting acts).

Meanwhile should you live EM locally and fancy joining me on said course, it would be lovely to meet you – or see you again – more details HERE.

 

 

 

November

November 1, 2015

We have a chainsaw in the garage
for the trimming of the hedges
and just in case the zombies
should suddenly arrive.

Halloween

October 31, 2015

Staring down the chasm
of the space between the garage
and the side of the house,
a skull shaped meteorite
flashes past the planet;
fireworks screech
like seagulls flying
in the night.

For the last month I’ve been UK touring, Three the Hard Way – Part 2: a brand new show featuring Jean Binta Breeze, Shruti Chauhan and I, 3 women of 3 continents and 3 generations.

Part 2 is of course the second part of a show that Jean and I first embarked on in 2014, with Shruti joining us this time around; it’s hard to overstate the progress we’ve all made together, in terms of both the show’s increased experimentation and the conversation our different backgrounds have allowed us to have.

One of the joys of the 3 The Hard Way format is the way in which it has allowed us to adapt and develop our approach and material in response to each others’, the space and ongoing contemporary events as we’ve toured. In this way, no two shows have been the same and the process of listening to each other and audiences have allowed the work to shift and develop in some very interesting directions. From round table rehearsals, where we’ve sat over tea and pakora answering poetry with poetry…to long distance car journeys coming back from shows, reflecting and unfolding new ideas stimulated by each others’ experience and the evening and audience met.

One personal outcome has been the creation of a new piece, on the subject of Englishness – a tricky subject I feel I’ve been building up to approach for a number of years but which the Three the Hard Way process has finally helped me write. Beginning to read around the subject, starting with Simon Featherstone’s excellent, ‘Englishness’ – recommended to me by Ms Breeze, I’m looking forward to deepening my research and thinking, in the context of my broader experience and in ongoing, lucky conversation with Jean and Shruti. The work unpacked by both throughout our tour has been inspiring to say the least.

This latest piece, produced as a result of all the above, debuted in Birmingham at the excellent Drum a couple of nights ago. It had it’s second outing last night in Northampton and I’ll be doing it for the last time – as part of this particular tour – this Monday in Loughborough at our finale tour date.

Meanwhile here’s our third trailer, with thanks to Andrew Lee. Featuring a different piece, taken from my full length collection, The Venus Papers (Burning Eye Books, 2015) – this nonetheless connects, in being sort of on the subject of Englishness – and sort of not…

Having recently discovered the ‘reblog’ button on wordpress I am pressing it again. See below for an interview with Hollie Poetry and I, chatting poetry and gender with Burning Eye Books…

Source: Of Gender and Poetry: Lydia Towsey & Hollie Poetry

On the Road

October 14, 2015

Two weeks on and four shows in and Three the Hard Way – Part Two is well and truly now on tour, which in part explains my turn for the quiet on here. Jean Binta Breeze, Shruti Chauhan and I have several more shows this week kicking off with one at Free Word tomorrow, then in Brighton on Saturday and Manchester on Tuesday – so we’ll do a proper update with pictures and thoughts and stuff after that – probably over on http://www.3thehardwaypoets.wordpress.com and before heading on to the rest – but meanwhile, here are a couple of trailers. More to follow from Shruti and I. It would be super unicorn cool to see you at one of this week’s show – come and say hello if you can make it. Thanks to filmmaker, Andrew Lee for these lovely things…

Thanks to Emma Lee for this lovely review of The Venus Papers’ launch event. Power and blessings to her elbows.

Emma Lee's Blog

Lydia Towsey The Venus PapersAttenborough Centre, Leicester University, Lancaster Road Leicester 29 September 2015.

Lydia Towsey is already well-known in Leicester as a spoken word artist, coordinator for Word!, Leicester’s spoken word evening, for being one of Three The Hard Way, lead of workshops in the NHS and tutor for Writing East Midlands. So it seemed an anomaly that a first collection seemed to be a long time coming. “The Venus Papers” falls into two sections, her poetry sequence “The Venus Papers”, looking at modern life through the eyes of a 15th century goddess who moves from innocence to experience, and the non-Venus poems which explore similar themes, looking at families, relationships and friendships with a wry wit and compassion. In picking poems to read at her launch, Lydia was spoilt for choice.

Jonathan Taylor, novelist, poetic, publisher and lecturer at Leicester University’s Centre for Creative Writing, introduced Lydia Towsey’s work emphasising how her…

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Secret Agent to Planet Venus

September 11, 2015

Over the last few months I’ve been gadding about the ether, playing away on two other websites – The Venus Papers and Three the Hard Way – in chattering aid of each. I’d like to present such absenteeism as entirely deliberate; a kind of undercover operation appropriate to the secret-agent-artist alter-ego, fashionably cultivated here…  in the spirit of my whiskey drinking, chain-smoking, scrabble playing Great-Aunt Peggy, who did in fact work for MI6 but could never breathe a word on the subject or suffer secret-agent Coventry and instant scrabble death (triple word x, to her opponent)…Yes. That is how I will present it…

Anyway, whilst absent I’ve been busily working away on part two of a national ‘Three the Hard Way’ tour  – and my full length collection ‘The Venus Papers’ – happily just published by the wonderful, Burning Eye Books. Three the Hard Way will be kicking off a run of ten dates, starting in Leicester on October 1st, Upstairs at the Western as part of the mighty Everybody’s Reading festival. The Venus Papers will be launching (as part of the same fest) on September 29th at Attenborough Arts Centre. See below for a groovy poster…

In just one of my covert operations I ran up a (deceptively) simple Venus Papers press release, with quotes and notes and everything. I put it out on the VP website and forwarded it to a few partners, then hey presto, the other day The Leicester Mercury called me up asking for an interview and saying they’d like to run an article all about the project. Ah ha, I said – did you see the press release on my VP website? No they said, your dad rang us. This should not in anyway undermine my secret agent skills (MI6, if you’re reading this, the answer’s yes, definitely, I’m interested – and in addition to scrabble I’m also brilliant at Trivial Pursuits.) (That should do it.)

Thevenusflyerposter

To Palindrome and Back Again.

February 17, 2015

Back from this morning’s Palindrome laboratory and reminded what a mutually beneficial experience facilitating can be.  The stuff everyone wrote was so good, genuinely exciting to be in the room. One of the group members, a particularly talented individual, made the excellent suggestion that I centre my own first draft – ala, vase and hourglass. Such a great idea, considering the content of the piece, with it’s mention made of vases and touching and the passage of time. Here it is in it’s latest get-up.

*

*

The chair stands in an empty room, lit by the light of a lampshade
the shape of a tree, one of those conical conifers, apple green
throwing it’s light like a potter. Meanwhile the chair,
bone white and with the grace of an egg – replies,
a philosophy of shadows. The room is empty
and would have that drama that in certain moods
might stimulate fear – were it not for the flowers,
in the vase, thick and velvety and touching
the glass of the window. It is dark outside –
but here, the light touches everything,
everything touches; the chair…
the vase, the window – the shade
and the can, placed like a statement
on top of a cupboard –
that rests in the corner,
like a sigh, a suitcase
packed for a long journey,
the first page
of a new chapter;
the contents
could be
anything

anything
could be
the contents
of a new chapter;
the first page
packed for a long journey
like a sigh, a suitcase
that rests in the corner
on top of a cupboard –
and the can, placed like a statement
the vase, the window – the shade
everything touches, the chair…
but here, the light touches everything,
the glass of the window. It is dark outside –
in the vase, thick and velvety and touching
might stimulate fear – were it not for the flowers
and would have that drama that in certain moods,
a philosophy of shadows. The room is empty
bone white and with the grace of an egg – replies
throwing it’s light like a potter. Meanwhile the chair,
the shape of a tree, one of those conical conifers, apple green
The chair stands in an empty room, lit by the light of a lampshade.

Unexpected Palindromes

February 17, 2015

Goodness me, it’s been ages again hasn’t it? and especially since I’ve used this blog as the ‘virtual workspace’ of it’s initial (and sometimes still) purpose. This evening I’ve been scratching out a new session on an old theme, abstract concretes – in advance of a workshop I’ll be facilitating tomorrow morning with the wonderful Bradgate Writers. One of the exercises I’ll be using was initially just around creating a new piece of writing with a list of words, generated by each participant – two parts noun to one part abstract. Working it out I did it myself, as I often try to do in the sessions themselves – in this pre-session instance to check how it worked. In the process the arising piece morphed into a palindrome and so happily we’ll be exploring these tomorrow too. To return to my opening sentence…here’s the poem, just written, still untitled (though in it’s way, after Roger McGough’s ‘Everything Touches’- here italicised) and thick with it’s ink and brash, rash bolshiness…

*
*
*

The chair stands in an empty room, lit by the light of a lampshade
the shape of a tree, one of those conical conifers, apple green
throwing it’s light like a potter. Meanwhile the chair,
bone white and with the grace of an egg – replies,
a philosophy of shadows. The room is empty
and would have that drama that in certain moods
might stimulate fear – were it not for the flowers
in the vase, thick and velvety and touching
the glass of the window. It is dark outside –
but here, the light touches everything
and everything touches; the chair…
the vase, the window, the shade
and the can, placed like a statement
on top of a cupboard –
that rests in the corner,
like a sigh, a suitcase
packed for a long journey,
the first page
of a new chapter;
the contents
could be
anything.

Anything
could be
the contents
of a new chapter;
the first page
packed for a long journey
like a sigh, a suitcase
that rests in the corner
on top of a cupboard –
and the can, placed like a statement,
the vase, the window – the shade
that everything touches, the chair…
but here, the light touches everything,
the glass of the window. It is dark outside –
in the vase, thick and velvety and touching
might stimulate fear – were it not for the flowers
and would have that drama that in certain moods,
a philosophy of shadows. The room is empty
bone white and with the grace of an egg – replies
throwing it’s light like a potter. Meanwhile the chair
the shape of a tree, one of those conical conifers, apple green
the chair stands in an empty room, lit by the light of a lampshade.