This Thursday coming, the 3rd March, is the next installment of Pen:Chant at Contact theatre – featuring the triumphant triumvirate of legendary beatboxer and vocal sculptor Jason Singh, UK Anti-Slam and BBC National Slam Champion 2015 Scott Tyrell, and indefatigably prolific author of erotic fiction, including the ‘best-selling’ Sticky Digits, Pamela DeMenthe! It will of course, be an absolute corker, with a typically high-quality open mic section and the usual arsing about from me, but as it happens to be World Book Day on the 3rd as well, we thought we’d chuck in some celebrations of a book-related nature as well. So we are asking anyone coming along to bring a book they’d like to give away and in the interval we will host a book-swap stall. We’ll also be putting on a raffle to raise money for Book Aid International, featuring prizes from local bookshops and other assorted goodies. Most exciting of all we are giving away two tickets for the show to the person who writes the best fictional review of one of Pamela DeMenthe’s incredible portfolio of erotic novels – featuring titles such as Moist January, Scared Stiff and Panties Inferno! You can find a list of Pamela’s prolific output on her website or Facebook page. Reviews can be of any length, up to a maximum of 200 words, and sent to penchantevents[at]gmail[dot]com by 5pm on Wed 2nd March. If you’re not the lucky winner you can of course buy tickets for the night from Contact, though [...]
I’ve been commissioned to write a new monologue as part of Z-Arts’ Family Matters project. If you don’t know, Z-Arts, formerly the Zion Arts Centre is Manchester’s only venue dedicated to inspiring and providing creative opportunities for children and families across Manchester and the Northwest. Here’s the blurb about the project from Z-Arts website: A series of 5 monologues from spoken word artists on the theme of family. Each piece is a real life portrayal of one person’s family, what it means to them, what family life is like growing up, the challenges, the love and ultimately how it has shaped them as an individual. Including a gay Muslim who grew up in a loving Bengali family in a small Essex town, now living as a practising Muslim with a non-Muslim partner who want to start their own family, or a Somali woman who is cohabiting with her partner and now has her own young family, but has estranged from her parental family for seven years, as a consequence. Or a simple story of a teenager and the dependent /independent struggle of family ties and releases that represents. This project doesn’t just focus on families, it puts families into focus. Each monologue would be a piece of beautifully crafted writing, drawing on emotions and creating a window on the multiplicities of human existence in the modern world. Followed by Q&A on the state of the ‘family’ in 21st century Britain, and what it means to be part of a family in this day and [...]
At long last, having performed at two Edinburgh Fringes and a two month schlep around Australia, we are bringing Anthropoetry to the fair cities of the UK (well, England). This will be the last ever outing of this show as it’s really time we got on and made a new one, so do catch it if you can as it’s your last chance, and you wouldn’t want to miss out now, would you?
So, the other day I was invited to perform at a benefit for the charity Freedom from Torture. We were asked to read a poem of ours, and one from someone else, that fitted the theme of torture, or freedom from it. I thought the evening would be fairly sombre in tone so I wanted to write something amusing, but found the subject matter difficult to squeeze a laugh out of, as you may imagine. So I wrote this instead. (apologies for the lack of stanza breaks, I still haven’t got to grips with html) I wanted to write A funny poem About torture. But laughter Stuck In my throat Like splints Under fingernails; I opened my mouth To let it out But Torture Water-boarded its flight, And downed it With simulated drowning. Torture would not allow itself To be trivialised by Privileged Western woes, To be bathetically compared To ‘people talking on their phones In the quiet zone’ or ‘Being forced to watch The dancing worm of death While Iplayer buffers’ Torture remained mute In the face Of my attempts at humour, As silent as a secret cell In a private prison On the soil of a compliant, Client state. Even our universal suffering The Dharma seeks to end Seems trite when compared To the horror Of Barney the Dinosaur And Sesame Street Punch-fisting ear-drums For hours on end At volumes that blank out The strobe-etched screams ‘Some are calling it A cruel and unusual tool – And many [...]
Apparently it’s bad form on blogs, newsletters etc to apologise for how long it is since you last sent out a missive to your adoring public, as this would imply that you were egotistical enough to assume you had any sort of public at all, let alone a public stupid enough to adore someone who uses words like ‘missive’. So I won’t even mention how long it’s been since my last post, let alone apologise for it, and just get on with writing about what I’ve got coming up. Phrased & Confused This weekend I and my fellow Geddes Loom band mates, Léonie Higgins and Dan Steele, will be performing a new music and spoken word commission at Summer Sundae Weekender in Leicester, brought to you by the lovely people at Phrased & Confused. The piece is themed on protest, and we’ve tried to imagine what Poetry and Music would protest about if they were characters, with what I hope are quite amusing results. I’ll also be performing in a Gil Scott Heron tribute slot and Geddes Loom will be performing a set of our other material on the Rising Stage on the Sunday. If you’re not around in Leicester we’ll be performing the protest piece at Interrogate Festival in Dartington on 23rd Sept, and at Contact, Manchester on 23rd Nov. A Game Of Consequence Over the last couple of months I’ve been busy working with Contact’s Young Actor’s Company on A Game of Consequence – a new piece of [...]
Just about slipping this one in before the day’s out because I need to have posted something on the first of this month, as I’ll be attempting to throw up something vaguely poetic every day for the whole of April. This is part of NaPoWriMo, an initiative which has so far attracted around 170 websites to publicly commit to posting a new poem every day for thirty days. It’s a bit of a daunting task, especially considering everything else I have going on this month, but I’m hoping the threat of a daily deadline will be a healthy thing that will push me to write what needs writing. Also I’m doing a stint on Something Every Day for a week in June so I figure this will be good training. My first post is a bit of a cheat as I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but still it’s not been seen or heard by anyone but the editors of Inc zine who are publishing some of my work this month. I’ve submitted a few short poems, plus they asked me to write something in response to an illustration (below) by Barnie Page who will also feature in the zine. I had two attempts at this as I didn’t like the first one I wrote, but in the spirit of ‘resisting the urge not to leave traces’ I’m including them both and letting you be the judge. The Girl In The Picture or Blue Period – Version 1 [...]
In the housing co-op I live in, there is an internal email system for members to communicate with each other about domestic goings on, and sometimes people post things they think might interest others. Today someone posted a call-out from Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition, and directly beneath it they had posted the summary from the bird-watching course they are doing. I wondered what the two posts might look like if they were spliced together. This is my ‘found’ poem: On the Cusp of Spring The sun shone and to herald spring Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Coal tit, Blue tit and Goldfinch sang to our gathering With the bloody and failing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan still in place, the USA, Britain and France are now committed to an escalating armed intervention in Libya. Sheep grazed on improved grassland which usually means that there is little to be noted on such bland landscapes but we managed to note Woodpigeon, Stock Dove and Mistle Thrush before we moved along the road in our search for more bird friendly habitat The decision to attack Libya and impose regime change – for that is what the UN resolution means – may have been authorised by the Security Council. But it was instigated by the despots of the Arab League, desperate to secure deeper western involvement in the region to save them from their own peoples. And it will be implemented by the same powers which have wreaked such mayhem throughout the Arab and Muslim [...]
This is also to say (after William Carlos Williams) I have eaten the tofu and broccoli in black bean sauce that was in the fridge (After the chinese takeaway delivered one without tofu and then had to rectify their mistake) and which you were probably saving for dinner. Forgive me. It was delicious. So greasy And full of MSG.
I’m writing this from Unit Studios in Letchworth where I’m putting what are hopefully the finishing touches to my first spoken word CD, Light Made Solid, which will accompany my first published collection of the same title. It’s taking a bit longer than I’d expected as we’re making original music and soundscapes for each poem and I’m reliant on finding time to come down south when my friend and producer, Adam Menczykowski (Mench) is about. He tours the world engineering monitors for a band called Phoenix the rest of the time so it’s a bit tricky. I’m also working with Dan Steele, my technician/designer for Voices of Dissent, who is also stupidly talented and busy and is in London designing sound for a theatre production at the moment. Anyway, best to take the time in getting it right I suppose, it just means the launch is going to be put back a bit. When we know the date and venue I will announce it from the rooftops though, so don’t fret. Of course I’ve been pretty busy myself this summer, with gigs at Sunrise, Secret Garden Party and Shambala Festivals, as well as two dates in Wales with The Absurd. We also had our first official gig outside of Manchester with Pen-ultimate’s street theatre adaptation of A Night On The Tiles, imaginatively titled A Day On The Tiles, at Stockton International Riverside Festival. Then of course there was the Edinburgh Fringe, where I was performing in a show called Three [...]
I’m kicking off this site by doing something for which it was set up to avoid: letting people know about gigs on the day they’re going to happen. Fortunately this time it’s the start of a 10-day run, so you still have time to get along, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Edinburgh. The show is called 3 Slam Champs and is a ‘high octane, satirical, spoken-word comedy showcase’ featuring me, Pete The Temp and Steve Larkin, for free! Bargain. I’ll also be doing a guest slot at the Hammer & Tongue Open Slam too, and appearing at Tim Clare’s Poetry Takeaway at some point this week, serving up ballad kebabs… or something. Being up in Edinburgh I should probably have some merchandise to sell, but unfortunately my book and CD won’t be out until September 13th, so maybe I’ll have to ask people to sign direct debit forms. The book is a collection of my poetic scribblings from the last few years, and the CD is some of those poems read out and set to some of that modern music that all the kids like these days. Both the book and the CD are called Light Made Solid and when they’re ready you’ll be able to buy them from Flapjack Press, and other outlets, such as my gigs. There will be a launch in mid September too, date and venue to follow. And special guest announcements of course. I’ll be posting free MP3s of some of [...]