‘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”

10 Best Songs of 2010

10.CMYK’ – James Blake 

9. No Need To Run’ – Kwes

\’No Need to Run\’ – Kwes

8. ‘Morning’ – Ghostpoet ft. Micachu

\’Morning\’ – Ghostpoet

7. ‘Heavy’ – Chase ‘n’ Status ft. Dizzee Rascal

6. ‘Oranges’ – Elan Tamara 

5. ‘Completely Exposed’ – Jamie Lidell 

4.’Flying In To Tokyo’ – Magnetic Man

3.’Hard’ – Breakage ft. Newham Generals & David Rodigan (came out in 2009, but still) 

2. ‘Shutterbug’ – Big Boi

1. ‘Limit To Your Love’ – James Blake

‘A Book of Water’

Wandering around the interwebs I stumbled on this. A new poem from one of my favourite contemporary poets:\’Book of Water\’ – Jacob Polley. What I particularly like about the best of Polley’s poems is that they live as well on the page as they do in the ear. I think this poem is a good example of this.

If you want to read the poem you’ve only to go here and check out the Guardian piece on the events that inspired it.

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.

Beyond Words

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):

\’Solid State\’ – Joker

Continue reading “Lately…”

City Lighthouse, ‘Conversations’, ’09 Runnings…

Wow, has it really been that long?

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.