Love The Words on ELFM

I went along to ELFM Towers yesterday for a chat with the ever-gracious Peter Spafford on his monthly extravaganza of all things wordy, Love The Words.

You can hear our conversation and my poems (on topics ranging from red kites to exam invigilating and pirate-spiders) by clicking on this link. I hope you enjoy it, or some of it, or even just click on it to find out…

You can also hear an interview on the same programme with excellent Leeds writer Rommi Smith about her residency at the NHS, which is well worth a listen.

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LS13 Anthology and Upcoming Gigs

A quick update also that – GOOD NEWS – I’m going to be one of the poets featured in the LS13 Leeds Writers anthology, about which more information here. It’ll be launched next Friday June 7th as part of the Leeds Big Book End weekend.

Also, I’ll be performing at a couple of upcoming nights:

Firstly at Spoken Weird in Halifax on Thursday June 13th at the Sportsman Pub – full details here. The May event was a real pleasure – a room full of attentive poetry-lovers, sharing their joy in words. Looking forward to doing a fifteen-minute set for the occasion…

And on June 26th I’ll be doing another fifteen-minuter at the Poetry by HEART event at the Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre – hopefully you can click through to more information here.

Looking forward to all of the above and would be lovely to see anyone who fancies it there 🙂

NaPoWriMo 24: Dust Across the Beam

Hyde Park Picture House: 100 in 2014!

As you may have noticed, things have been a bit cinematic on my blog during NaPoWriMo.

I’m reading a few poems (including my poem about the Invisible Cinema walking tour, from earlier in the month) on Sunday morning at an event to mark the centenary of Hyde Park Picture House. And here is a piece I wrote based on an earlier prompt from Canal Laureate Jo Bell, which was to write a poem of Welcome.

So, to celebrate the Picture House’s centenary, I wrote a welcome for its next 100 years – and here it is:

 

Twenty-One Thirteen

or, Dust Across the Beam

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may your bright skies usher in

the twenty-first century’s pigeons –

their future-coos upon the roof’s tiles

(not nesting in seats, feathering aisles).

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

the elaborate plaster flowers which grow

from the walls are the germinating magic bean

of all the cinemas to which we can no longer go.

A furrow of many bulbs (and most no longer glow).

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may the red curtains of each romance

open and close, close and open

on the clumsy ill-fated dance

of faltering fake yawns

and thousands of missed chances.

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may never the popcorn of cinema dreams

be trodden under giant flat-screen feet

confining chorus gasp, behind-you screams

to closed-curtain houses on sparse streets.

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen

and all the seconds in between:

may the 26-flicker of each second’s cell

combine with the terabytes of files, to tell

stories as many as dust across the beam.

For stories are light and light is the spell.

 

So welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may all your future screens,

even in desperate certificate eighteens

times contain only some scenes

of the mildest peril.

NaPoWriMo 22: Generic Blessings

Temple Newsam House, with its blessing around the roof-line

Temple Newsam House, with its blessing around the roof-line

Catching up with some NaPoWriMo prompts: determined to have at least 30 by the end of the month – TOMORROW!

So here’s one from earlier in the month – there might be more of it to come, but thought I’d put it up as work in progress.

This one’s based on the blessing which runs around the top of Temple Newsam House, just outside Leeds. The idea was to create some ‘Genre Blessings’ (hence the title) for the Hyde Park Picture House event on Sunday – as an alternative blessing – but I couldn’t come up with more than two!

So the poem is the original blessing from the top of the house, with two other genres represented: horror and period drama. Perhaps I’ll add a sci-fi and western at some point…Perhaps…

 

ALL GLORY

or, Generic Blessings

 

ALL GLORY BE GIVEN

TO GOD, THE FATHER, HIS SON

AND THE HOLY GHOST ON HIGH.

PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN.

HONOUR TRUE ALLEGIENCE TO OUR GRACIOUS KING.

LOVING AFFECTION AMONGST HIS SUBJECTS.

HEALTH AND PLENTY WITHIN THIS HOUSE.

 

ALL GORY BE RIVEN

BY GHOULS, THE FANGED, ROSEMARY’S BABY

AND THE GHOSTS IN THE CORNER OF YOUR EYE.

FEAR ON EARTH AND GOOD KILLS AMONG MEN.

HONOUR GRIM ALLEGIENCE TO STEPHEN KING.

ROVING STARVATION AMONGST ZOMBIES.

STEALTHY DEPRAVITY IN EACH DESERTED SHACK.

 

ALL CORSETS BE FASTENED

BY GIRLS, STRICT FATHERS, THEIR SONS

AND THE GHOST OF THE ONES THEY SHOULD MARRY.

GENTLE MIRTH AND GOOD SUITS UPON MEN.

HONOUR THE NOVEL BUT ADD SOME THINGS IN.

STIFLED AFFECTION: AS LEWD AS IT GETS.

EMBROIDERY AND MOANING, IN EACH STATELY HOME.

NaPoWriMo 3: A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development

Prompt no. 3 of NaPoWriMo was to write a sea shanty. This pleased me greatly as I’m a part of (when I can make it!) the Ocean Loiners – a sea shanty singing group in Leeds (hence the name: Leeds folk are known as ‘Loiners’)…

Here’s a video of us belting out ‘Three Jolly Fishermen’ at the Theatre By the Lake in Bradford in October last year. (I am the lanky one in the blue t-shirt in case you’re wondering!)

I’ve turned my attention to the place where I live as the subject for my shanty – as I live on a floating home (a narrowboat), so shanties feel like (spuriously) part of my sailor heritage. This is a song about how places like the one on which I live don’t always pan out as hoped for! Technically, I suppose this should be an Inland Waterway Shanty…

And, as an experiment, I made up an extremely derivative tune and then SANG it, into my phone via SoundCloud – shanties are meant to be sung! Hopefully you can listen to the whole thing above and not be turned deaf / mad / made to unsubscribe from the blog in disgust…

So you can sing along, if you like:

 

A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development

 

In the Early Noughties, ‘pon the booming swell,

It was BUY BUY BUY, it was SELL SELL SELL:

So they built above the water of Clarence Dock

Luxury apartments and fancy shops.

 

(CHORUS)

Oh the Dock, she be in a right old mess,

With her Pizza Express and her Tesco Express

And her – yes – her Holiday-Inn Express:

They’re the only things fast enough to float,

Except for curry houses and narrow boats.

 

And they built a special section with its own jetty

Where the fancy floating restaurants would be:

Now the only thing a-moored around the butts of fags

Are the blue-striped plastic carrier bags.

 

Sometimes in the night you can hear the hullaballoo

Of some merry-making drunks (who are only passing through).

But the only voices bouncing off the moored ships’ hulls

Are the quacking ducks’ and the screeching gulls’.

 

Now in an empty window of an old high-fashion store

There’s a hopeful artist’s image of what could have come before.

And like the ocean’s waves, there’s one thing that you can trust:

Is that after there’s a boom, there will always be a bust.

 

 

BCFM – Vermin, Part Two

Just to say that part two of the Vermin Cycle, which I recorded for lovely Dave’s BCFM programme ‘A Cup of Tea and a Piece of Cake’, will be broadcast on Monday.

The link to the programme is here :

http://bcfm.org.uk/2011/06/06/15/a-cup-of-tea-33/5236

For anyone who’s coming to Green Man – this is a preview of the pieces I’ll be performing there. I believe this week will be Vermin(s) V – VII: bedbug/gluttony (one of my favourites); cockroach/envy (the costume for this is exciting); and finally, the slothful fox…

Also on the programme is Nuala Honan, who I’ve seen perform before and is a very accomplished and powerful musician/performer. Her MySpace is here – have a listen, she’s really very talented:

http://www.myspace.com/nualalive

BioBlitz, Tyntesfield, and Stokes Croft Street Fest

Performing 'Cull (After Hitchcock)' at BioBlitz (c) BioBlitz


Performing 'To His Coy Hen' at BioBlitz (c) BioBlitz

I was lucky enough to be part of the BioBlitz event at Tyntesfield yesterday (dubbed the ‘BioBlitz Bard’) – the event logged record 779 species on the site!

As part of the afternoon, I performed some Vermin poetry for the assembled biodiversity-hunters. There are some pictures and loads more information about the event here:

http://bioblitzbristol.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/an-afternoon-of-verminous-verse/

I joined in on one of the bug walks – in my Vermin ‘biohazard’ Tyvek suit – with the excellent Pete the Bug Man. He loves bugs and is amazing at extolling their fascinating lives to the public. His website is here – if you want someone to come and inspire kids about biodiversity, bugs and ecology – book him!:

http://www.bigbugbag.com/

Performing 'Let Us Bite' gluttonous bedbug at BioBlitz (c) BioBlitz

Being a glutton for Verminous punishment,  later I performed the pieces in their entirety at the PRSC courtyard as part of Stokes Croft Street Fest 2011 . The MC/Compere was the most amazing and engrossing juggler and performer Ben – whose full details I shall post later as he is worthy of a grand mention! He kept a big crowd very entertained – in lieu of some other performers turning up – for a very long time, with admirable wit and good-hunour. Bravo Ben!

Despite the efforts of a vocal (and doubtless narcotically-amplified in the extreme) heckler minority (!) Vermin went down well with the folks who listened, as well as those who drifted by the courtyard entrance. Hopefully the newly-completed costume acts as something of an invitation to those who might not otherwise stop and listen…And if I can perform them at Street Fest, I’m looking forward to Green Man / Einstein’s Garden – which will no doubt be equally energetic, if a little less rowdy…