Seven Stories/Late Shows followup

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Its been such a busy few weeks that I’ve barely had time to take stock, but I’m very happy with how the event went. It was a real evening of discovery, with pop-up performances from the wonderful Doug Garry, Jayne Dent, Rowan McCabe, Rosie Calvert & Will Finn.

I still can’t quite process how great it was they were also keen to get on-board and delivered such killer performances. And nothing went wrong! No angry parents who heard their children being exposed to metaphors, and no keyboards dropped in the Ouseburn river. I’m so relieved, and so grateful to Seven Stories and the Culture Lab for making it possible.

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For a more detailed behind-the-scenes look, check out my course blog posts here and here, or watch some video clips from the event itself here! I wish I more time to write (i.e. enthuse endlessly) about this, but for now life is still coursework mayhem. Really interesting coursework mayhem – Creative Arts Practice is a wonderful course that has given me the chance to get stuck into a lot of cool things – but still. Maybe soon (-:

 

Seven Stories & the Late Shows!

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Finally found a good time to write about what could be the most exciting opportunity Creative Arts Practice has thrown my way – getting commissioned by Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books! The whole cohort was invited to send proposals for Seven Stories’ night at the Late Shows, and mine was one of the ones that got accepted!

I’m putting together a programme of pop-up performances throughout the evening, which will be Friday the 19th of May. They’ll be many talented poets and musicians spread throughout the building, spinning stories in one form or another. I might even get to do a set myself, if I’m not run off my feet. If you’re in Newcastle or that neck of the woods, come down the Ouseburn Valley and check it out! The whole city will be full of cultural events and people wandering around with beer and/or glowsticks.

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No doubt I’ll be plugging this more actively at the week progresses. Keep an eye out for updates on specific performers as well – I’m really exciting about some of the people I’ve managed to get on-board.

For those interested in finding out how this came about, along with other Creative Arts Practice things I’ve been up to this year, check out my course blog (it’ll be up there once various technical difficulties are resolved).

CAP Catchup

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It’s been a while, eh? But I’ve not been idle. Creative Arts Practice has been keeping me good and busy, with some interesting results. You can find my course blog here. More importantly, though, you should take a look at what some of the other students have been up to here – there’s lots to see in terms of music, art, film and other interesting stuff I couldn’t begin to do justice to here.

For now, here are some pictures from various CAP-related workshops and adventures (including our trip to Transmediale in Berlin!), plus sundry other bits and bobs. Enjoy!

 

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Spoken Word Adventures – Hammer and Tongue

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Been a bit snowed under this last week, what with one of my deadlines being quietly moved forward by three days without anyone telling me (hahahahahaha I survived), but something awesome happened this weekend – Team Edinburgh won another slam! Me, Catherine, Joe and Doug (those talented bastards) went to down to London to compete in the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Final, having qualified at Unislam. We went up against some incredible teams from the various different branches of Hammer and Tongue in two rounds of group pieces, and we won!

It was a great weekend. It was also exhausting – it ran for around 8 hours on the Saturday and 4 on the Sunday – but it was jam-packed with some incredible talent: Theresa Lola (who won the singles competition) and Kat Francois, to name just two. There were some familiar faces from the Edinburgh scene – Matthew Macdonald and Iona Lee – and a whole host of incredible performers. It was kickass.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to sleep forever.

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I’m off to sleep forever.

 

Uprooted

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I uprooted a shrub at my grandmother’s today
and it really didn’t want to go.

It had the resilience of wood, yes
and the tenacity of a planted heart
(fibrous veins pump more slowly)
but it was also more resourceful
fighting back more coarse and forceful
than I ever expected from a vegetable.

It rallied every trick of nature.
Fought against me root and claw
old branch, new shoot, prickle-leaf and more.
Attacked me with its nettle neighbours,
trip-slip-stung me to the floor
aching
and knowing absolutely what the mud must think of me.

Its defences ran deep, see
but I was determined too.
Siege-ready they were, my forces
well-trained in the art of undermining.

I planted foot on trunk and pushed it
I planted foot on spade and shunted
down
I planted foot on spade and hand on trunk
and pushed and heaved and grunting, sunk
until I rip-tore it with a cracking;
pebbles, worms from the soil a-bleeding
crumbling
a knotted trophy in my workshop glove.

A prize
ripe for re-planting.

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My Nan’s Book Group Could Beat Up Your Nan’s Book Group

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Something’s up in Little Dudley
where the local book group meets
there’s a tension at the bowling green
there are whispers in the streets.

See, this has always been the Woolf Pack’s town
since a time before my birth
when my Nan and Mrs Dalloway
drove the Grandmothers Grimm off their turf.

But there’s a new threat on the scene these days
at the lakehouse in the park
where, with graffiti cans in wrinkled hands,
the Milton’s Angels left their mark.

So Nan’s going round to Josephine’s
and calling up Brigid as well
so they can gather up the posse
and send those basic biddies back to hell.

“Bring To the Lighthouse and Orlando
and A Room of One’s Own will be critical,”
she says to make sure that those crotchety crones
are gonna choke on their Werther’s Originals.

So its handbags at dawn
for a literary war
they’ve got their hatpins
got their letter-openers drawn
spitting vitriol
and witty quotations
spun cleverly into threatening prognostications
not lost on their brimstony foes
(they’re pulling hair, they’re stomping toes)
a hellish host of demon dames
with a hundred late fees to their nefarious names.

But at last the Woolf Pack wins the day
and may all OAP book groups know
that my Nan is better than your Nan
and your Nan can come have a go.

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Photo credit: Monty Python

 

Celebrant

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When the whale
– it was a flying fish in life –
dies, crabs and gulls will flock to it
hollowing out a temple on the beach
for you to live in for a while.

There will be a salt-gash.
It will tear
from your stinging eyes
to your churning guts
to the pit of your stomach
where the harpoon is still
firmly
lodged.

You will be visited by a wise woman
to discuss the gash and the service,
tailor your drowning to the one who threw you ice-cold into it.

She will invite you to dig deep
to find the ambergris
used in the balm of another person’s sleeping
wearing concrete slippers.
She knows how to make useful things
from the corsetbone and baleen
and blubbering.
Call it ballast
to keep you stable through the ceremony
call it a life raft
to keep you afloat in the turbulent wake of

passing.

 

 

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Art by Elena Purlyte.