Extremely Late Quarterly Creative Review: July-Sept 2021

November 9, 2021

I’m supposed to do these every three months. That’s a limit I set myself. Sounds manageable, right? Typing some words every three months? After all, the longer it gets after the deadline the harder it is to remember what exactly happened in which month. But that’s okay! You tell yourself you don’t need to remember, it’s all neatly stored on your Facebook page, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?

Anyway, where did I leave you? I was trying to choose between two universities, both based in England. I had some exciting news to impart but was making you wait. In early July I took part in my what-I’m-hoping-will-be-annual trip to London for the Hammer & Tongue UK Slam Championship. My first time on a plane, in a hotel, in a group since Covid. I got myself the loveliest hotel room I could, got myself some sushi and revised my poems and managed to place… Joint Third in the UK with my friend Kathryn O’Driscoll! I haven’t been sharing that on my bios or anything as I’m not terribly sure you can get a lot of mileage out of being joint third. It’s fab, but contains too many words and mathematical decimals for most people to see it as anything celebratory. I’m delighted though! I’m also delighted for the winner, Rick Dove who I feel I’m gradually getting to know via Zooms and status updates. I’m also delighted that someone I respect told me they considered me to be their winner that day. That’ll do for me. I’ve already qualified for the next one by winning the Hammer & Tongue Cambridge poetry slam final 2021 because apparently I’m obsessed with competitions? Okay then.

In July I was also able to reveal a sweet secret I had been keeping for a few months: that I had been contacted by Verve Poetry Press who offered me a contract for my first poetry collection, which had been called Cockroach ever since I thought of the idea at the Fringe 2019, told my Mum when I came home (to which she replied ‘All right then’), told the Arts Council who funded me to write it and could now tell everyone. Yes, I thought of the title before I’d written most of the poems. No, I don’t necessarily see a problem with this. It will be published in Summer 2022 and will accompany my first full spoken word show which traverses the same landscape of memoir, neurodivergence, magic and cinema. Do I plan on doing my show at the Fringe 2022? Yes. Have I trialled it anywhere? Funny you should ask…

So, PBH Free Fringe organises most of the shows I engage with at the Edinburgh Fringe. I know how they work, and I always planned my first show to be with them. But then everything…stopped. They decided that they would trial some online shows in 2021 because of the reluctance of lots of artists to travel to a small sweatbox in Scotland and shout words within spitting distance of an audience during a global pandemic. I decided to try my show online. Fay Roberts (who works with/for PBH) offered up support, advice and a paid Zoom account where I could host the show so I gathered together some gifs, sellotaped a black sheet to my wall and did my show. And…it went well? I felt good about it. The online audience was small and I didn’t record it, as I felt recording would put too much pressure on me but I liked it. I want to do it again. Watch this space. During the show I premiered my new poetry film ‘Witch’, filmed by Frontier Pictures which was my first attempt at thinking of visuals to match my words and bringing a more cinematic aspect to my practice. Also as part of the PBH Free Fringe I had a slot at Spoke & Bird based in Singapore (online), a slot with Candle Lit Sessions and an interview with Dead Darlings Podcast.

I’ve had some poems published between July-September. One in Kissing Dynamite, one in Pink Plastic House (which honestly, might cross a bit of a line from up-front into chaotically embarrassing), two poems for children in the Dirigible Balloon which should absolutely not be confused with the Pink Plastic House one. I got a poem accepted for issue 12 of Banshee Lit which is available to buy now.

I’ve had feature sets at events including Fire & Dust, Ó Bhéal, an in-person gig at Stendhal Festival and I’ve earned a little extra cash transcribing podcast episodes for Stephen Lightbown who released a six episode podcast to advertise the release of his second poetry collection The Last Custodian. Each episode includes Stephen reading a section from his book and an interview with an artist/creative about their creativity and accessibility in the arts. I was a bit overwhelmed by the process of transcribing at first but began to really enjoy it and find the process very meditative.

And I chose Birmingham. Was I right? I don’t hate it. I tentatively like the people and the course. I’m too shy to really launch myself into the class and I feel a bit strange as the majority of the people in the class are in their twenties (although I’m definitely not the oldest by any means). I’m just bumbling along a little awkwardly and trying to do social things and go for walks because honestly, I want to give this a shot. I won a scholarship to be here. I’m a little overwhelmed by the move and haven’t really been able to concentrate on reading for fun or writing for fun since I got here but I’m nowhere near quitting. But technically this post finishes on the last day of September so if I go back in time all I really knew on the last day in September is that the university has lots of clubs and societies and an amazing library and that’s definitely a promising start.

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