Those of you who keep your ears to the ground about literary events and the like will, no doubt, have heard about a tour of four South African poets across the UK during November.
For those who haven’t the gist is this: this month The South African Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile (alongside Lebo Mashile, Don Mattera and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers) will be performing in venues across the UK with the support of Apples & Snakes, The British Council and Sustained Theatre.
I am lucky enough to be featuring at one such event tomorrow night @ The Albany Theatre, London. Here’s a link to the facebook event page. I will be one of five poets from the UK working with the poets from South Africa on new work to be shared on the night. Would be lovely to see you there.
One of the poets from the UK featuring at the Albany tomorrow is Jay Bernard with whom I was recently in Stratford Upon Avon for a planning weekend at the RSC (we were there as representatives of the Poetry Society). Have a shufty at the link attached to Jay’s name for a run down of the weekend.
It’s been a pretty bard-heavy week, all told. Whilst in Stratford we were treated to a performance of ‘Twelth Night’ and on Friday I went along and saw the Northern Broadside’s ‘Othello’ at Trafalgar Studios (the one with Lenny Henry as Othello in an impressive Theatre debut). The latter is well worth getting along to if you’re in London as is the former if you’re in the vicinity of Stratford or willing to travel (there is west end transfer planned, though).
In homage to Billy the Bard I’ll leave you with this:
It strikes me that an update is long overdue. My time away from the blogosphere has been pretty hectic with work ranging from literature-in-education projects, in London and Bristol, to performances in Sheffield, Bradford and at The London Literature Festival as well as a whole heap of other stuff.
The pinnacle of these past few months was working on a project with Youth in Action, a performing arts collective from South Africa, who were formed to help provide home based care in the community as well as raise awareness in order to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These young people (he’s says like he’s an old man) were truly an inspiration and reminded me that performance can have another purpose other than merely ego play. Youth in Action were invited to spend a month in Portishead, Bristol going into schools to share their experiences with the students and participate in lessons and creative workshops (enter myself and fellow poet, Joe Kriss). During the four or so weeks, the group gave a number of concerts in which they sang traditional South African songs interspersed with dramatic pieces exploring the reality of life in their community.
My involvement in the project culminated in the performance of a number of poems, generated in workshops we led, alongside songs, dance and drama at St. Georges Hall (a gorgeous converted church which is now a music and arts venue). The poems were written and performed by both students from Bristol schools and young people from Youth in Action. I was very proud to have been some part of the project and particularly enjoyed the way in which a number of people from disparate backgrounds came together in friendship. The finale was a particular sight to behold as the 200 or so students took to the stage and proceeded to create what can only be described as a mini carnival on stage.
This week I am assiting on a project where 14 british poets will be filmed reading their work. These videos will then be uploaded to the net and shown by Lit Up at the Singapore Young Writer’s Festival in September. Watch this space for further news on that.
Oh and be sure to swing by Pomegranate (a literary web zine created to showcase the work of poets under 30) and check out their latest issue which features a new poem of mine entitled ‘Gnosis’.
I’ll leave you with this (which I am quite taken with, currently):
I’ll begin with some heartening news. Back in September I contributed three poems to City Lighthouse, an anthology put together by London publisher tall-lighthouse, and am pleased to say it is out now after a blistering launch. The anthology is broad in its scope including work from well known poets (Roddy Lumsden, Hugo Williams, Helen Mort, Catherine Smith & Luke Kennard, among others) as well as those lesser known or new to publication. You can get your hands on a copy here.
In other news I will be returning to the Betsey Trotwood to host the second of my ‘Conversations’ poetry events on the 24th Feb. Here is a gorgeous poster with all the deets:
Had a very busy January performing from Millbank Tower (for the Obama Inauguration) to The Soho Theatre (for the lovely folks at Apples & Snakes) and there looks to be a steady stream of readings in the coming months so keep ’em peeled to the events section.
February has been a blast thus far, went to the Albert Hall to see Quidam with Hana today. Mini review – good but lacking the sort of narrative thrust that might have grounded the exhibitionism…that said as a flight of imagination and a spectacle in itself: wonderful.
It’s been a minute since I last posted but I’m back with some excellent news…
My new poetry event series starts up on the 7th Jan, 7:30 pm, upstairs at the Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell. Here are the details:
Poets on the night:
Renowned for finely crafted and mesmeric magic realism this poet has been known to leave audiences in stitches, tears and, most often, awe struck with their mouths gaping open. His first collection, Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales is published by Flipped Eye.
As I write: Dizzee Rascal speaks to me from the little documented past–before the album, the mercury and the notoriety–through the tinny speakers of our living room stereo. I say little documented because for a great many people, raskit’s ascendancy happened ‘almost over night’ and was ignited by the critical faculties of the mercury prize panel. I take issue with this sort of thinking. Whilst the notion of overnight celebrity is publicly lauded and discredited the fact remains that we buy into these overnight, get-rich-quick stories. The reason for this is that this makes such fame, or better still recognition, accessible but the actuality is that such recognition eludes many who graft beneath the radar for years. Imagining Dizzee in those days of garage raves and late night pirate radio sessions I’m reminded of the importance of graft and vision.
Whilst there was a certain degree of luck and maybe even tokenism in Dizzee’s eventual success there can be no doubt that he did work hard on his music. How much the luck outweighs the graft is a discussion for another day. Given that the luck presented him only with opportunities there was a need for Dylan Mills to capitalise on the choices open to him. For some time I have been trying to do this myself; attempting to follow Michael Donaghy’s entreaty ‘always carry a spoon in case it rains soup’. I’ve been thinking a lot about those words since I first came across them trawling the net for interviews with writers. Inherent in them there seems to be an acute awareness of timeliness and luck in the achievement of goals wished for and stumbled upon. However I don’t think these words encourage opportunism but instead preparation. There is a lot to be said for it.
Having just returned from Sheffield and the 2nd birthday of an event series I co-founded, my thoughts on ambition have been brought into sharp focus by the work being done by Opus. This arts collective is in its 3rd year and specializes in the provision of quality community driven arts events and publications. The Opus brand has expanded by some margin since I first came across an open mic night they hosted on Sunday evenings back in 2006. In the time I have worked with them I have come to learn a lot about the importance of building a community. In my haste to achieve the next goal to bring me closer to recognition my notion of community has become increasingly blurred. As the youthful desire to prove myself falls away I hope I am prepared for the graft that comes with striving for something broader than my own personal goals.
Well…I want to say I was at the edge of my seat waiting for the the pivotal 270 but alas I was passed out after travelling back from Operation Black Vote’s ‘Moment in History’ Celebration (A celebration of Obama’s candidacy in the tentative evening and a victory party in the early hours) @ Paper Nightclub in the west end.
I had been asked along to perform some poems at the proceedings and was very impressed by the sheer ‘swankiness’ of the place. There were a number of MP’s in attendance as well a various public figures ranging from actors to journalists. No surprise, then, that I felt slightly overwhelmed.
The event was a huge success all told and the reading was good fun but waking up at 7am to the news of Obama’s victory trumped it by some way. Let’s hope this optimism lasts eh?
I am a big fan of comic books and have been for some years now. I am currently working my way through some of the ‘seminal’ works of the medium. So far I have explored the work of Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes and have just started on Alan Moore.
After reading Moore’s ‘The Watchmen’ I became interested in his thinking and was guided, through some late night googling, to a documentary entitled ‘The Mindscape of Alan Moore’. I cannot recommend it enough. His commentary on literature as magic is particularly interesting to me but there is plenty in there to fulfill the philosopher in me as well. Superlatives dispensed with, here is said documentary (it is just over an hour long).
My name is Kayo Chingonyi and I am a poet, writer, events promoter, workshop facilitator, music fanatic and all manner of other things. This is my first foray into the blogosphere and I must say it has been a lot more painless than I thought it would be. I have started this blog ‘Conversations With the Future’ as a place to write about what I am up to and what I’m interested in. I aim to add at least one post a week and hope that, in time, you will find something here worth reading. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a video I have been enjoying a lot of late: