May 28, 2007

This morning, an email from PSAvalon Press – they will be publishing my How the Cyberman Lost his Heart poem in their 2008 issue of The Synthesist !

Apart from the occasional journal, PSAvalon mainly publish books and focus on the 2 areas of: self development and poetry. They say they ‘like it a lot’.


Later this year they’ve got a book coming out by Feminist writer, Caeia March. Think I might check it out.

It’s my birthday tomorrow šŸ™‚

Canal Sounds

May 23, 2007

Like a plane taking off, or the
white water rushing crash
of open waves at sea.

Like standing on the
top deck of an open liner.

Like hearing the sound of silence
amplified – or the static on a TV.

This is what it sounds like-
but it is spelt differently…

It is spelt as a 3 stepped weir-
or a mini waterfall
in several regular parts-

gushing and humming and
singing to itself like a
washer woman-
scrubbing and rasping
at the surface of rocks.

This sound-
like a ship or a plane or a
poltegeist, dominates all others-
but there are others
stirring beneath it.

There is birdsong-
whistling and whooping and chiruping –
sounds swimming all together,
like birds going mad,
like birds against the world,
birds against the water – birds
fighting it out – and yet
there is still more-

there is the barely there breath
of the air, languid in summer
and only just heard by the
unstirred grass
and there are cars-

There are cars
roaring in the distance
and almost sounding like the water
with their loud crashing silence –
with their low down moan
that is almost the sound
of a hurricane- but these
are spelt differently.

Heard and not seen
these are just for once
far from here.

They are like turtles in the city-
turtles cannot fly
and cars cannot swim.

Oh god. Sometimes, I’m just such a walking stereotype. My cycle’s been thinking about turning for what seems like weeks now. Stressed and habitually neurotic, rather thanĀ  pregnant, I’m not overly concerned about this. I am however, slightly perturbed by the rabid monster the PMT seems to have turned me into. Is this inappropriate information to be sharing with a large and apparently expanding number of blog visitors?…many of whom will almost certainly be people unknown to me….Yes, probably. Do I care? No. Because I have been turned into a rabid cliche of a PMT monster, who apparently enjoys shouting into the wind about her every bodily function and force feeding readers with far too much information.

A few months ago I attended a workshop being run by Jean Binta Breeze. A women only session, she kicked it off by encouraging us to write about political subjects…”we don’t all want to write about our periods do we!?” she said. Oh dear…

Actually though, I’m not really talking about my period. Hell, it hasn’t even started-remember PRE-M.T.Ā  No, I don’t think my new found monstrous mood is purely about that. I’m off work. That’s what I think this is about…. A whole week of annual leave. Loads of time to do whatever I want to do. Hmmm. Should be great, except…I don’t think I’m very good at leisure. I spent much of this afternoon doing emails and writing project plans for various types of poetry malarkey’s. Not much leisure there. Then, I had a monster craving for cake. On the way back home from Ice Mango (what I fondly think of as my office) IĀ  almost held the woman at Sam Wichs up at gun point. Poor woman was packing up for the afternoon, but was clearly so perturbed by the wild look in my eyes, she felt compelled to serve me carrot cake. Now back at home, I have just had two mugs of coffee and the huge slab of said cake.

Hmm, maybe, there might be a little bit of PMT in there….

Anyway, I have all the same been giving this leisure business a fair go – since Monday. Only yesterday (Monday) I took myself off to the foot doctor. I spent a whole 25 minutes having my feet massaged by a lovely man called Rakesh. Obviously I paid him. Nothing funny, y’know. Well, it was a bit funny. Apparently I have exceptionally flat feet. Also, longer than average little toes. These two fascinating facts combine to mean my poor little toes have an inbuilt 45 degree turn, causing them to be at risk of developingĀ  ‘problems’. I have problem toes. I am so proud. Lovely Rakesh sold me special arch lifting supports. These are apparently ‘corrective’ – but there is nothing else to be done for my poor little pinkys. I am look forward to wiggling said toes at the TV later. First I should probably take them for a run. Apparently, running’s good for PMT…and monster slabs of cake…

Here is Jo Swift’s take on that freestyling exercise…

Sparkplugs Exercise

May 18, 2007

Should you be interested, here are the intriguing results of this weeks final (until further notice) Sparkpugs Poetry Group. After many requests, we spent half the nearly final session (next week we’re ending ending with river walk) playing a consequences game. Click here

Essentially an exercise that is all about relationships, I found it interesting to see how the characters often talked with no reference to what each other had actually said before…;)

Remember Cardiff? I remember Cardiff
with its open fields of cows, cows
that were spread across their
open fields of grassy pasture
like the ordered buttons on a
tweed suit. I remember Cardiff.
Remember how you caught your death
that day in Cardiff? That day when
all of the order in world
spiraled out like so much
mottled cow disease,
yes, like so much
mad death cow disease.
You caught your death
standing in that open field of
endless rain in Cardiff.
There in front of all the cows.
I remember Cardiff. Cardiff
was very near
the death of you.

Following on from the big fun freestyling at Mondays Fifth Quarter, I decided to use the writing around random words idea to start some exercises at my SparkPlugs Group (workshops I facilitate in Leicester). I’m going to put some of the group members work up on the Brightsparks Blog, but here’s one of mine – using the following…CARDIFF, REMEMBER, OPEN, ORDERED, COW, DEATH….

The Vegetarian’s Nightmare

I ordered up a side of cow. A cow
that had caught its death like flu
inside an abatoir, one day in June.
It never saw it coming.

I remember feeling
the open handed slap of guilt
when I took my first bite
and thought about its last-

dieing sigh,
that was probably more of a scream.
The restaurant
was in Cardiff.

I remember wondering
if the cow had traveled far
to reach it. Yes,

Jesus’ Girlfriend

May 15, 2007

One more thing about last night. As I said in the post below, I freestyled for the first time! Was very buzzy. It’s a high risk thing to do – if it goes well that’s great-but if not…there is the dying in front of your peers to consider! Saying that, at a night like yesterdays every knows that – so no one would take the piss anyway. Below is my attempt to remember what my freestyled poem was. It’s quite a bit different as I can’t remember the exact words, but it was kind of like this…

Words: Enchiladas, Donkey, Traveling, Energy, Food.

Jesus’ Girlfriend.

I like food
but I don’t like enchiladas.
They’re too spicy for me.
They drain all my energy
and I don’t travel well
when I eat them.

Donkeys hate me
and horses too
they always have
I have to take the bus,
’cause when it comes to donkeys
I just can’t trust-

I think it’s their Sombreros.
You should never trust a creature
that looks like it could eat a
spicy enchilada.
No – I don’t like donkeys
and donkey’s don’t like me-

if I was with Jesus…
I don’t think it would work.

So, if you’ve read the previous post, you may be wondering where it came from. This is where ….

Last night I went to what was best poetry night I’ve been to in ages. A brand new night, run by the lovely Sureshot and Mr Finn, it was like going back to the roots of boheamian poetry. It was many of the new wave poets on the scene at the moment, gathering together to read poetry to each other – and to anyone else who was around to listen. It was set to happen every Monday.

Called the 5th Quarter (a great name don’t you think?) this wasn’t like your average open mic night. No names were taken and the floor was completely open, leaving people to just get up and speak when they were ready. The atmosphere was so gentle and supportive, that it was easy to feel relaxed and encouraged.

The very talented poets who’d turned out, set about with a poem at a turn. There were no rules but that’s how it panned out. However, after a few of us had done our thing, Mr Finn got up and gently coaxed those who had performed, to freestyle on the mic. The challenge was to use words thrown up by the audiance. Though sometimes a nerve racking experience, again the atmosphere was so supportive it was made easy.

So, lets backtrack a moment….this post isn’t sounding very much like its title is it? Lets include a bit more detail…

I did my tit’s poem. Then I freestyled. The word ‘fucked’ and then ‘fuck’ might have popped out. It’s hard to censor yourself mid flow…especially when you’re having such a fab night of boho loveliness, as to make censoring seem like a ludicrous concept. However….

After my tits poem and after my ‘fuck’ freestyling (though there were MANY other words in this piece!) I went back to the bar to get myself and another poet a drink. The words Stella and Gin had barely escaped my lips when the bar manger started laying into me.

‘We don’t want that sort of thing!…you were TOLD not to!…people don’t want to hear it!…I’ve had complaints!…people have left!…people are EATING!’

Standing in the middle of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, fresh from the warm acceptance and creativity of the poets, I obviously assumed she was joking. Only…she didn’t appear to be smiling. I waited a moment. Still no smiling. Oh dear.

So, it felt quite personal (probably because it was) and I’m afraid I lost my temper. For one thing, I’d never met the woman in my life, so the concept of having been “told” was hardly fair and the aggressiveness from nowhere was just rude. Customer Service. Whatever happened to Customer Service? or even basic people skills? So, yes, I’m afraid after my initial polite response met with the same bile, I’m afraid I lost my temper.

She was VERY horrible, but I probably shouldn’t have told her that to be perfectly frank I couldn’t give a FUCK what she thought. It was at that point she decided to change her mind about serving me. Shortly after I left….before I did something (like talk to her again) that would get me thrown out. other poets had been free-styling with the words condom and cannabis. As I left, Sureshot was being ranted at.

What really rankled was the bigoted lack of understanding. Poetry does not have to contain expletives. Or talk sex, violence, drugs etc…but it’s worth remembering that such material has a rich history going back to the early 16th century and encompassing everyone from Shakespeare to Larkin. Early spoken word literature was often about really engaging people in taverns and market places. People clustered around poets and playwrights who were spitting lyrics, that really reflected the society people saw around them. Of course, much of Shakespeare’s work WAS censored in it’s day-by the elite classes-and there are countless other examples of the same happening to other writers through history…Lady Chatterly’s Lover was hardly a million years ago and we all know how that turned out.

So, perhaps Miss Bar Manager does understand her poetry. Perhaps she does get how it’s worked before and has simply alligned herself on the opressives side. What’s sad though, is that the space between what she wanted – and what live literature is about – is fairly insummoutable.

Fresh from a previous week of Jazz entertainment, she (it appears) wanted something unobtrusive, less content, more background noise. Something her diners didn’t have to listen to. Kind of like the poetry equivalent to muzak. Nothing challenging. Of course, poetry isn’t like muzak. It’s made to be listened to and concentrated on. It’s not made to be talked over. Seeing as the diners were a long way off down the bar, I was thinking – if they don’t want to come closer and actually listen, far enough, live and let live. Obviously not.

Initially, this was actually a very distressing experience. No one likes to have their work rejected as puerile and thoughtless-especially when alot of work has been put into its crafting. This morning though, I’m feeling a bit better about it all. I can now introduce Get Your Tits Out as the poem that cleared a bar, got me refused service and nearly thrown out for disruptive behaviour. Rock n Roll. It can only help my rep as angry young woman šŸ˜‰

One last thought though. I can only hope that the 5th Quarter somehow lives on. Maybe with a different name-but somehow it must. It’s too wonderful a night to lose. If you live locally and want to come down to it, watch this space…I’ll let you know when I do…

I like a bit of poetry.
In its place. I like a bit of Blake-
Songs of Innocence,
though I’ve never read them,
just like the idea.

No dirty words.
No muck. No filth.
No nothing that I
don’t want to hear
I like a bit of poetry-

but if it’s got
swearing, if it’s got sex,
if it’s dirty with life
and what it’s really like
you better take it elsewhere

I don’t read poetry to challenge me.
I don’t read poetry at all.
But I like the idea of it.
In an ideal world
It’d be about-

and animals and weather,
it’ll be about nothing
much in particular-
and it wouldn’t swear.

We don’t want to hear
fuck and cunt or condom
make it- very
don’t talk about – down there
and you shouldn’t be having sex-

at all
If you need the occasional expletive
to capture the horror of war,
talk about –
sunshine instead

or love that isn’t messy,
that doesn’t pull you inside out,
that doesn’t leave you bloody
and gutted and bleeding
on the floor.

and if that’s what it’s actually like,
make up something –
nicer. Inoffensive.
Make up something-

that can be played over dinner,
that people can easily ignore
make up something
you’re a poet aren’t you?

Shakespeare leaves.