‘I’m a travelling man…’ pt. 3

My final, full, day in Abu Dhabi (June 6th) started early with me leading workshops for three school groups. It was great fun to work with students with such a highly developed sensibility for poetry. I particularly enjoyed hearing some poems the students had written in the local Nabati style which is so much a part of Emirati culture that the reality TV show celebrating it has been called ‘one of the most successful Arab television shows ever’ . The evening brought a trip to Saadiyat Island for my performance at Artscape of World Cultures. Manarat Al Saadiyat is a beautiful place and it was wonderful to be able to share the stage with so many talented artists and performers. Here is a picture of the entrance to give you a sense of the place:

‘I’m a travelling man…’ pt. 2

Tuesday was a slightly shorter day with just one engagement: a drama/playwriting workshop at Zayed University.

Zayed University

I had a great time leading this session as we spent the session creating a play from scratch starting with some improv, deciding on a location, deciding on the characters and so on. The play that emerged (a transgressive story concerning an unmarried Yemeni woman attempting to escape a controlling father) was a genuine surprise.Continue reading “‘I’m a travelling man…’ pt. 2”

‘I’m a travelling man…’ pt. 1


I am writing this from a hotel room in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The British Council invited me here to take part in an event at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island on Wednesday called Artscape of World Cultures. I snapped the pic above on the way to the arrivals gate at the airport where I was met by staff from The Beach Rotana hotel. On arrival I was struck by the scale of the place and the architectural flare at work in the buildings…and the heat. It is not yet summer here but that still means high 30s/low 40s and 50% humidity.Continue reading “‘I’m a travelling man…’ pt. 1”

Out Now from Salt Publishing

Wow…it’s been some time. Part of the reason for my absence from the blogosphere is that I’ve been busy with the usual teaching and gigging and keeping the wolf from the door but I’ve also been working on a pamphlet of poems which is now available from those purveyors of beautifully designed books, Salt Publishing.Continue reading “Out Now from Salt Publishing”

Verbalized, Tongue Fu and The Swan

Since my last update the UK leg of Verbalized (the tour I went on earlier in the year w/British Council) has been and gone. Starting in early October we toured to audiences in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Bradford, Sheffield and Manchester. I’m pleased with how it went and am looking forward to what comes next.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the UK leg of the tour was that the show itself was more collaborative. Poetry events can get a little stuck in the poet follows poet follows poet way of doing things. In our show we were all on stage throughout and poems flowed into each other interspersed with song or movement. Since the tour I’ve been approaching all my readings with a clearer sense of my comfort zones and am hoping to push against them into new ground. More on that story later.

In other news, the winner of my personal poll as to the best accommodation we stayed in goes to the idiosyncratic Palace Hotel in Manchester in which the Lower Ground floor is higher than the Mezzanine and finding my room was always an adventure. The Campanile Bradford is a close second and Jury’s Inn Sheffield receives an honourable mention for the decor in its lifts.

For footage from the South Africa leg of the tour check out my videos section for the poem ‘Denouement’ (labelled as ‘I am afraid it will be too easy). I’ll post up tour footage from the UK leg when it surfaces.

In the meantime why not come along to one of my gigs? I have two left in 2010 one on the 25th of Nov at Tongue Fu, a night that runs at Rich Mix, London and one at the newly re-opened Swan Theatre in Stratford on December 3rd. Check out the events section for all relevant details.

I’ll leave you with this, a video of Jackie Kay at a recent event to celebrate the life and work of Edwin Morgan:


On The Road

*Edit* – Tour has been postponed till later in the year due to volcanic ash.

This isn’t a post about that staple of every self respecting indie kid’s book-shelf but rather a note to say that, following on from my last post, I was invited on tour to South Africa in the first half of March. As befits an infrequent blogger I’ll cover that process in scant detail and move on to telling you that the same tour is coming to the UK as of the 21st of April.

Here is some blurb about the whole shenanigan:

‘Supported by Sustained Theatre, the British Council & South African State Theatre, the Verbalized tour is a unique collaboration between ten inspirational & exciting poets, part of a long term cultural exchange linking artists & arts companies in Britain & South Africa.’

You can keep updated with the tour as it unfolds here where I will be blogging once the tour is underway. In the meantime you can follow my escapades (gig listings, musings and so on) here, should you feel so inclined. Still not sure about the whole twitter thing but I’m trying it out so as not to be closed minded.

I have been attending a fair few poetry events lately. Here are few that I enjoyed:

  • ‘A Pint for the Ghost’ @ London Word Festival – Helen Mort’s one woman show which fuses poems and stories to explore South Yorkshire’s oral tradition. If I’ve time I might just write it up properly. In short: if she tours the show near you buy a ticket. Failing that purchase the pamphlet of the same name, it is a corker. Click on her name in my links to find out more and remain informed.
  • ‘Wordplay’ @ The Good Ship – A nice mix of readers and a good atmosphere at this Kilburn poetry and music night.
  • ‘Identity Parade’ launch @ Foyles – Was pleased to see a good few poets reading at this event to celebrate the publication of this doorstop anthology from Bloodaxe. Look out for a launch event near you. I gather they will be up and down the country in the coming months. Click the link to see footage from the Foyles event.