Posts Tagged ‘poetry’


Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Last week, poet Lemn Sissay was inducted as Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He has become a hot topic (appearing on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs means you’re really made it in the world) as word gets about town about how inspirational this guy really is.

Adopted out as a baby and raised by a family in Bolton who later disowned him, he has had a rough life and yet brings a refreshingly positive and pragmatic outlook to life. Through his poetry and his work, he pushes the ideas of equality and belonging.

On Friday night, I went with my cousin, Les and housemate, Alice to see him perform as part of the Rochdale Literature Festival. I fell in love with him (how could you not with a smile like that) and his ideas, beliefs and his words. I don’t normally go for poetry, but the passion with which he spoke resonated with the entire audience. It was sad, beautiful and uplifting all at the same time.

I recommend listening to his inauguration speech which I think I will bookmark to listen to whenever I am doubting my decision to do this Masters degree.

Also check out his poem Inspire and Be Inspired. 

Bad Language at the Castle

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Fear not – this blog entry does not include excessive amounts of swearing. You’re safe with me, kids. Bad Language is a monthly spoken word and poetry open mic night held at the Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter. I had been wanting to go to a spoken word event since discovering them in Paris and two years later I finally achieved this goal.

Last Wednesday I went to Bad Language with Hannah and Damion, two friends who work in The Classroom with me. After purchasing reasonably priced beer from the bar, we made our way past the regular Castle residents and managed to squeeze our way to some seats in the very packed room. An usually large turn out meant that there weren’t enough seats and lots of people were standing at the back or perched on the stage with the performers. The vibe of the room was relaxed and welcoming and a bit of squishing, bumping and finding a seat on the floor didn’t worry anyone.

The performers read with varied degrees of success but everyone who got on stage was supported and appreciated. Getting on stage and reading your words aloud isn’t an easy thing to do. Poetry was the main focus of the night and as I have previously mentioned it is not my preferred style of text. Some of it was good, some just passed over my head and left me pondering what it was all about. It was great to see the passion that some of the writers had for their work. I wish I was currently feeling the same level of passion for my own words.

I want to set myself the challenge of performing something at one of the Bad Language shows but need to write a piece that is worth performing. Any topic suggestions are most welcome.

A Touch of Poetry

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

I have never been a huge reader of poetry, mostly due to the overbearing nature in which poems were forced upon me at High School. Plus I often find the use of language in poetry to be over the top and trying too be more impressive than it really is. I feel I should read more poetry because that’s what literary people do but every time I try I give up quickly. Unless they are Spike Milligan nonsense poems which I can devour en masse.

So imagine my surprise and pleasure at the fact that I have just spent part of my evening curled up on my couch reading poems written by young West Australian poet, Zoe Taylor. I met Zoe at Curtin University when, as a graduate, I agreed to be her ‘mentor’ as she was studying the degree that I had completed. I wasn’t much of a mentor and mostly encouraged Zoe to just have fun and consider travelling. But I do like to feel somewhat responsible for the fact that she is now a far more accomplished writer than me and that her name is on a published book.

Stroke by Zoe Taylor

Stroke by Zoe Taylor

Ok it isn’t me at all – Zoe has a natural talent for writing and her poems are short bursts of youthful insight into life, love and death. The overall maturity of her writing solidifies her punchy and engaging voice, each poem drawing you into the story. I felt my skin react to the horrifying outcome of a son finding his father dead in Stroke, fell in love with the lustful romance between Abel and Ruth, and felt a strong connection with the failed affair of Y = X. What amazed me most was how engaged I felt with each of Zoe’s poems and my desire to read on further. I was always going to read them, but I was overwhelmingly impressed at how beautiful Zoe’s writing is.

Zoe was selected to be part of the New Voices mentorship program and you can purchase her book, Stroke, from Express Media and I believe some bookshops.

A Load of Nonsense

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I love nonsense verse and to be honest it is one of the only forms of poetry that I am willing to read. I’m sure that there are people who would like to tell me that I should relish the wonders of poetry – metaphors, similes, rhyming thirds. I quite enjoy a good onomatopoeia because who can’t like words such as squish, plop, and quack? I would really like to write nonsense verse and join the ranks of Tim Burton, Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash and of course Roald Dahl. But I don’t think it is as simple as jumping straight to it. Just like any creative form you need to work at it and develop your style over time. As a small aside, I was overjoyed to hear Philippe Starck say that he didn’t create a salable product until he was in his forties. PHEW! I still have 15 years to go.

A wonderful piece of nonsense rhyme by Ogden Nash is his ode to llamas.

The one-L lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-L llama,
He’s a beast.
And I would bet
A silk pyjama
There isn’t any
Three-L lllama.

How you gain this skill I’m not sure. Perhaps it is a natural instinct that you are born with. Perhaps I just need to sit down and write something for a change rather than simply thinking about it. I would love to find writing courses with people who write nonsense verse to see how they function. So many writing courses focus on ‘serious writing’ and don’t cater for those of us who just want to go a bit silly. I have recently seen a lot more ‘alternative’ styles of writing in zines and small print run publications. It appears to be seen as an ‘arty’ concept rather than literary. For some reason it is more impressive to  be seen reading the latest Bryce Courtney or Dan Brown book, rather than nonsense rhymes. I’d be happy to argue that while Ogden Nash wrote nonsense, Dan Brown writes rubbish. I know which I’d prefer to read.