Well, I knew it was at least a couple of weeks since I'd last (and first) posted on this blog, but said post is dated 2nd of July! Surely it's not been over a month since I wrote something here? No, fortunately it's just a technical glitch, which I don't know how to rectify, making me look slacker than I am. As if I need any help. But yes, it has been a few weeks since I wrote, well, anything really.
I've been away a lot since performing at Blue and then Camp Bestival (where I was introduced as 'the bluest eyes in poetry' by Salena Godden - thanks Salena. You female chauvinist pig you.) and though sometimes I enjoy stealing moments to scribble secretively on train carriages and in budget student accomodation (the life of an artist is nothing if not glamourous) the events I've been attending have been so crammed full of things to do my moments have all been stolen before I could get my sticky inky fingers on them.
First up was Contacting the World in Liverpool. This is Contact theatre's flagship international youth theatre project where companies from the UK and Europe are twinned with international companies who each create a new piece of work partly inspired by their exchange, and then descend on a city (usually Manchester but this time Liverpool, because of all the culture of capitalism frivolities this year) to perform them, as part of a programme bursting with workshops, discussions, street performances, screenings and the odd party. I was part of the International Forum attached to the week; a daily meeting of practitioners from around the world sharing their practice and discussing the issues around making theatre with, by and for young people. It was a deeply inspiring, moving, entertaining and informative week, and on one of the last nights there was an open mic. I wanted to write a poem dedicated to all the amazing performances and experiences I'd had, centred around a simple phrase translated into the languages of each of the companies represented (about nine once you've eliminated Manchester, Liverpool and New York who all, roughly, speak English). The phrase was 'we make theatre, we make change'. On the day of the performance however, I spent so long getting it translated I didn't actually have time to write the poem, bar what was going to be the chorus:
We make theatre, we make change,
We make the strange familiar and the familiar strange,
We make keys to our locks from our broken chains,
We make theatre, we make change.
Good enough start I suppose, but don't know if I'll ever finish it. At least the other companies enjoyed my amateur attempts at speaking their languages (I think) and Manchester, Liverpool and New York enjoyed my amateur attempts at mimicking their accents.
After returning from Liverpool I had barely time to catch my breath and wash my clothes before heading to Climate Camp for a couple of days, and then another festival performance at the Summer Sundae Weekender in Leicester. I won't talk much about Climate Camp, as you can read more about it on my other blog, http://www.changingcycles.blogspot.com/ which is about environmental arts/activism stuff. But suffice to say, I didn't get much writing done there either due to a similarly full programme of workshops, discussions etc. with the added tasks of helping with the running of the camp (cooking, emptying compost toilets, defending the site from baton-wielding riot cops concerned about the presence of offensive weapons...). I did manage to do an impromptu gig there though, which has to be on of the best I've ever done. I'd met up with some of the people I cycled to the G8 protests with in 2005, who have now formed a collective called Bicycology and were there with a small marquee and a range of weird and wonderful cycle contraptions, pedal powered generators and a mobile soundsystem. They asked me to do a few poems that evening outside the tent, which I reluctantly agreed to, thinking no one would be bothered to sit and watch. But the more I went on the more people stopped and listened and I ended up spitting for about 45 minutes to over 100 people lit by pedal powered lights, amplified by a bike mounted PA, and with Mother Nature providing the pyrotechnics in the shape of forks of lightning from the impending storm behind me... Electric! I hope I'll be able to post some photos or video links when I get them.
Finally then, and I really need to wrap this up before it gets interminable, I performed on the Phrased & Confused stage at the Summer Sundae Weekender in Leicester last weekend to a small but enthusiastic crowd of musos and poetry fans, one of whom told me my work is 'right on'. Excellent. I'm all up for reviving superlative phrases from decades long past... On the saturday I was asked to take part in a panel quiz on the same stage, which I was glad I agreed to after I found out my team-mate would be the excellent Excentral Tempest, one of my favourite poets on the scene at the moment. The quiz was predictably silly, with tasks including singing 'baa baa black sheep' in the style of Westlife, and having to write a poem with words given by the audience - I got 'ocelot' and 'defenestration':
Searching for inspiration, I have to admit I haven't got a lot,
My words have lost their bite, my bark's no louder than an ocelot,
I'm desperate for a way to end this humiliation,
If this tent had windows I'd commit self-defenestration!
Ok, that's it for now. This week I've been putting in a proposal to the Arts Council for some research and development on our first show with spoken word/hip hop theatre collective Pen-ultimate, and started writing a new piece for a track with a new live music project, provisionally called Juggernaut (due to the sheer number of musicians in the band - upwards of 15!). More on all that next week... and hopefully the post won't be this long again!

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