This weekend, I’ll be here with Keith Jarrett, as part of the Oval House’s Fun Palace weekend. The idea of a Fun Palace was conceived by Joan Osborne, a way of opening up spaces and allowing people to engage with art and science, in a playful way. 
For that reason, it’s completely FREE to take part, so come along and walk around. The Oval House are calling it: 
"a glorious mix of FREE hands-on fun and theatrical encounters for both big and little people. There’ll be crafts, music, fun and games, theatre, art events, workshops, eating, discussions, chance encounters, dancing, science, improvising, cycling…" 
We will be creating BEASTLY BATTLES, an interactive spoken word corner, with beastly bars and monstrous metre…
(Illustration by Emily Medley). 

This weekend, I’ll be here with Keith Jarrett, as part of the Oval House’s Fun Palace weekend. The idea of a Fun Palace was conceived by Joan Osborne, a way of opening up spaces and allowing people to engage with art and science, in a playful way. 

For that reason, it’s completely FREE to take part, so come along and walk around. The Oval House are calling it: 

"a glorious mix of FREE hands-on fun and theatrical encounters for both big and little people. There’ll be crafts, music, fun and games, theatre, art events, workshops, eating, discussions, chance encounters, dancing, science, improvising, cycling…" 

We will be creating BEASTLY BATTLES, an interactive spoken word corner, with beastly bars and monstrous metre…

(Illustration by Emily Medley). 

“When did we become so small and so apologetic? Why do we apologize for our humanity? Love what you love, and make no apologies. This is your identity. The most horrendous suspensions of freedom are self-imposed. We imprison ourselves daily, hourly.
We have one life, one shot at all the glorious things of life, and we walk about constricted, apologetic, afraid. We have so little time; we have so little space upon which to spread our love and our talents and our kindness. Run toward life fulsomely and freely.
It runs from us so quickly, like a frightened dog or youth or daylight. Chase it and care for it.
Of course art should be about something big. Something terribly big must be at stake. I don’t see this anymore. Our art is becoming terribly polite and apologetic, much like us. It slinks away like a sagging breast, empty of milk or promise or comfort.
We need to get very fervent again. We need to get jacked up.”
Tennessee Williams, ‘We Have one Life’ 

When did we become so small and so apologetic? Why do we apologize for our humanity? Love what you love, and make no apologies. This is your identity. The most horrendous suspensions of freedom are self-imposed. We imprison ourselves daily, hourly.

We have one life, one shot at all the glorious things of life, and we walk about constricted, apologetic, afraid. We have so little time; we have so little space upon which to spread our love and our talents and our kindness. Run toward life fulsomely and freely.

It runs from us so quickly, like a frightened dog or youth or daylight. Chase it and care for it.

Of course art should be about something big. Something terribly big must be at stake. I don’t see this anymore. Our art is becoming terribly polite and apologetic, much like us. It slinks away like a sagging breast, empty of milk or promise or comfort.

We need to get very fervent again. We need to get jacked up.”

Tennessee Williams, ‘We Have one Life’ 

  • At #WiseWordsFestival, Canterbury, on Saturday 13th, with Dan Simpson, Paula Varjack, Peter Hayhoe, and joined by Becci Louise and Helen Seymour. 
  • At #WiseWordsFestival, Canterbury, on Saturday 13th, with Dan Simpson, Paula Varjack, Peter Hayhoe, and joined by Becci Louise and Helen Seymour. 
  • At #WiseWordsFestival, Canterbury, on Saturday 13th, with Dan Simpson, Paula Varjack, Peter Hayhoe, and joined by Becci Louise and Helen Seymour. 

At #WiseWordsFestival, Canterbury, on Saturday 13th, with Dan Simpson, Paula Varjack, Peter Hayhoe, and joined by Becci Louise and Helen Seymour. 

Spaceships

When the spaceships first appeared 
The sky was dark shapes looming
And the streets were people standing still, 
Blinking, 
Little 
Screens
Winking
 
And when the first buildings exploded
We were still there 
Trying to get the best shot
Capturing panic 
On Panoramic
 
But as the rubble fell around us 
We let our phablets drop
Into the dust
And held each other
And looked deep 

Into the eyes of strangers.

Spaceships

When the spaceships first appeared

The sky was dark shapes looming

And the streets were people standing still,

Blinking,

Little

Screens

Winking

 

And when the first buildings exploded

We were still there

Trying to get the best shot

Capturing panic

On Panoramic

 

But as the rubble fell around us

We let our phablets drop

Into the dust

And held each other

And looked deep

Into the eyes of strangers.

Front Door
 
When you left
You left the front door
Wide open
 
That night
An arctic wind
Blew icy gusts all through the house
Rattled every window pane
 
And in the morning
The sun came up
And the door swung slightly shut
Til it was no more than a rippling breeze
Tipping the cards off the mantelpiece 
 
And the next day I cam downstairs
To find the door was closed.
The house was still, and warm.
That’s that then, I thought. 
That’s what they mean by “closure’. 
It’s over. 
 
But even now from time to time
I feel a draft on the back of my neck
And a shiver makes me hunch
And I turn 
Around

 

Front Door

 

When you left

You left the front door

Wide open

 

That night

An arctic wind

Blew icy gusts all through the house

Rattled every window pane

 

And in the morning

The sun came up

And the door swung slightly shut

Til it was no more than a rippling breeze

Tipping the cards off the mantelpiece

 

And the next day I cam downstairs

To find the door was closed.

The house was still, and warm.

That’s that then, I thought.

That’s what they mean by “closure’.

It’s over.

 

But even now from time to time

I feel a draft on the back of my neck

And a shiver makes me hunch

And I turn

Around

 

I just saw some tired people struggling with rucksacks, the last vestiges of glitter and neon paint still visible at the edges of their weary faces. Ah, back from Bestival, I thought. Which marks the end of the season, really, so please feel free to reminisce whilst listening to this poem. 

I’ve been putting some of my poems on Soundcloud, so you can hear them! They’re not the greatest recordings, but I hope you enjoy them anyway. Here’s a poem about regional dialects (First performed with Hollie McNish at Page Match, the Roundhouse). 

My favourite passage from Beloved. 

My favourite passage from Beloved. 

Divorced Dad
McDonalds was a safe bet
Now Dad’s asking questions
Though a plastic toy’s distracting
The youngest
His elder sister shuffles in the pleather seat
It squeaks
She rolls her eyes a little 
Picks at the last few chips.

Divorced Dad

McDonalds was a safe bet

Now Dad’s asking questions

Though a plastic toy’s distracting

The youngest

His elder sister shuffles in the pleather seat

It squeaks

She rolls her eyes a little 

Picks at the last few chips.

And the other VERY EXCITING thing coming up is that I am going to Leicester (Yes Sir!) to perform at the lovely Jess Green's night, Find The Right Words. I’m performing with Hannah Silva, who I’m excited about seeing as she does all sorts of clever things with loop pedals. 17th September, The Western, Leicester. 

And the other VERY EXCITING thing coming up is that I am going to Leicester (Yes Sir!) to perform at the lovely Jess Green's night, Find The Right Words. I’m performing with Hannah Silva, who I’m excited about seeing as she does all sorts of clever things with loop pedals. 17th September, The Western, Leicester. 

The sky has been decidedly stormier of late, and the evenings are a little bit darker, and a little bit colder. Rather than getting all depressed about the end of summer, I’m going to get very excited about Autumn, and all the brilliant things coming up. The first of which is Never Mind The Full Stops, at Hackney Attic. A sort of poetry-comedy-panel-show-thingy, with Superbard at the helm, and Dan Simpson and Paula Varjack as opposing team captains, it should be an excellent way to spend a Tuesday night. It’ll be worth coming for the unbelievably hilarious Amy McAllister alone. You’ll also get Sam Berkson, Gary from Leeds, and me! Bargain! 

The sky has been decidedly stormier of late, and the evenings are a little bit darker, and a little bit colder. Rather than getting all depressed about the end of summer, I’m going to get very excited about Autumn, and all the brilliant things coming up. The first of which is Never Mind The Full Stops, at Hackney Attic. A sort of poetry-comedy-panel-show-thingy, with Superbard at the helm, and Dan Simpson and Paula Varjack as opposing team captains, it should be an excellent way to spend a Tuesday night. It’ll be worth coming for the unbelievably hilarious Amy McAllister alone. You’ll also get Sam Berkson, Gary from Leeds, and me! Bargain! 

  • Some photos of Nozstock 2014. Lovingly curated by Rik “The Most” Livermore and Matt Cummins, the “Tent of Temporary Thought” consisted of a brilliant group of poets, who popped up at various destinations around the festival site. It was lovely to hang out with old poet-friends and meet new ones. Nozstock is a great little festival, and was a fitting end to our “three in a row” triple decker. 

    On the Garden Stage, Friday

  • Some photos of Nozstock 2014. Lovingly curated by Rik “The Most” Livermore and Matt Cummins, the “Tent of Temporary Thought” consisted of a brilliant group of poets, who popped up at various destinations around the festival site. It was lovely to hang out with old poet-friends and meet new ones. Nozstock is a great little festival, and was a fitting end to our “three in a row” triple decker. 

    Tired but excited en route to our third festival in a row!

  • Some photos of Nozstock 2014. Lovingly curated by Rik “The Most” Livermore and Matt Cummins, the “Tent of Temporary Thought” consisted of a brilliant group of poets, who popped up at various destinations around the festival site. It was lovely to hang out with old poet-friends and meet new ones. Nozstock is a great little festival, and was a fitting end to our “three in a row” triple decker. 

    Anna and Keith dancing in the rain

  • Some photos of Nozstock 2014. Lovingly curated by Rik “The Most” Livermore and Matt Cummins, the “Tent of Temporary Thought” consisted of a brilliant group of poets, who popped up at various destinations around the festival site. It was lovely to hang out with old poet-friends and meet new ones. Nozstock is a great little festival, and was a fitting end to our “three in a row” triple decker. 

    Hmmm...

  • Some photos of Nozstock 2014. Lovingly curated by Rik “The Most” Livermore and Matt Cummins, the “Tent of Temporary Thought” consisted of a brilliant group of poets, who popped up at various destinations around the festival site. It was lovely to hang out with old poet-friends and meet new ones. Nozstock is a great little festival, and was a fitting end to our “three in a row” triple decker. 

    Anna, Sara, Ben and myself

  • Some photos of Nozstock 2014. Lovingly curated by Rik “The Most” Livermore and Matt Cummins, the “Tent of Temporary Thought” consisted of a brilliant group of poets, who popped up at various destinations around the festival site. It was lovely to hang out with old poet-friends and meet new ones. Nozstock is a great little festival, and was a fitting end to our “three in a row” triple decker. 

    In the Comedy Tent

Some photos of Nozstock 2014. Lovingly curated by Rik “The Most” Livermore and Matt Cummins, the “Tent of Temporary Thought” consisted of a brilliant group of poets, who popped up at various destinations around the festival site. It was lovely to hang out with old poet-friends and meet new ones. Nozstock is a great little festival, and was a fitting end to our “three in a row” triple decker. 

  • The magic of this year’s Secret Garden Party included a portaloo that led through to a field of sunflowers; a fireworks display where a plane dropped LED figures in a glittering raincloud on the night air; and all the usual madness and wonderment. I was thrilled to be back with the Son & Sons theatre crew, this time at the Never Never Land Amphitheatre. 
  • The magic of this year’s Secret Garden Party included a portaloo that led through to a field of sunflowers; a fireworks display where a plane dropped LED figures in a glittering raincloud on the night air; and all the usual madness and wonderment. I was thrilled to be back with the Son & Sons theatre crew, this time at the Never Never Land Amphitheatre. 
  • The magic of this year’s Secret Garden Party included a portaloo that led through to a field of sunflowers; a fireworks display where a plane dropped LED figures in a glittering raincloud on the night air; and all the usual madness and wonderment. I was thrilled to be back with the Son & Sons theatre crew, this time at the Never Never Land Amphitheatre. 
  • The magic of this year’s Secret Garden Party included a portaloo that led through to a field of sunflowers; a fireworks display where a plane dropped LED figures in a glittering raincloud on the night air; and all the usual madness and wonderment. I was thrilled to be back with the Son & Sons theatre crew, this time at the Never Never Land Amphitheatre. 
  • The magic of this year’s Secret Garden Party included a portaloo that led through to a field of sunflowers; a fireworks display where a plane dropped LED figures in a glittering raincloud on the night air; and all the usual madness and wonderment. I was thrilled to be back with the Son & Sons theatre crew, this time at the Never Never Land Amphitheatre. 
  • The magic of this year’s Secret Garden Party included a portaloo that led through to a field of sunflowers; a fireworks display where a plane dropped LED figures in a glittering raincloud on the night air; and all the usual madness and wonderment. I was thrilled to be back with the Son & Sons theatre crew, this time at the Never Never Land Amphitheatre. 

The magic of this year’s Secret Garden Party included a portaloo that led through to a field of sunflowers; a fireworks display where a plane dropped LED figures in a glittering raincloud on the night air; and all the usual madness and wonderment. I was thrilled to be back with the Son & Sons theatre crew, this time at the Never Never Land Amphitheatre. 

So, a friend posted this article on facebook, about a speech given by an amazing woman named Chavka Folman Raban. She was a survivor of the Warsaw ghettos and Auschwitz, and an advocate for peace. 
Her speech was so poetic and inspiring, I quickly wrote this poem. I hope I can do her voice justice. The poem is called Rebellion. 
1942
Through the window of this small station
I can see them
Through the damp woods
And the trampled carpet
Of broken bluebells
I see them in the meadows
 
All around them
The Germans come thundering 
Horses’ hooves bludgeoning, they’re
Kettled and corralled like cattle. 
I wait.
 
I see four boys, watched over by soldiers
Digging a hole
Their faces are slippery 
With mud and tears
Then the soldiers shoot each one with a snap
And they tumble in roughly 
Limbs suddenly flung
This is it
I whisper, heart thumping
And my mouth barely breathes it: Shoah
 
I hold this terrible truth to me
All the way back
Back home to the ghetto
Though this had not always been our home
This densely packed and fenced-in place
This cramped and crowded rat-hole
Filled with sickness and panic 
But now we called it home; our ghetto
And now I knew the time had come 
To fight
Resist
Be brave
 
We write pamphlets, papers
For those with no food or medicine
To them we gave words and ideas
 
We smuggled what weapons we could
We fought, and they took me to Auschwitz
I still did not state my true name
As they branded me 
We’re corralled and kettled like cattle
In this densely packed and fenced in place
And back
In Warsaw
 
The rebellion was raging
And the SS, brazen in uniform, 
Stood and watched as the ghettos burnt
The fire danced in their brass buttons
 
So many died that day
So many brave, bold, and young
So many lives cut short
When they should have known love
And beauty
And laughter
 
And now how are we to be brave? 
Bravery does not wear a uniform
How are we to fight our rebellion?
To stand in the blazing face of hatred 
To show that love is stronger?
 
2014
Through the windows of this army base
I can see them
Though thick dust grimes the glass 
And fills the air between us
They’re walled in 
Kettled and corralled like cattle
I wait.
Four boys
Throw stones.
Swiftly, they’re 
Lined up in rifle sights
And dropped 
Onto piles of rubble
Limbs suddenly flung
I hear the wail of their mothers
They should have lived
Should have known love 
And beauty
And laughter
 
And now how are we to be brave? 
This densely packed and fenced in place
Leaves no room for peace 
We write pamphlets, papers
For those with no food or medicine
To them we gave words and ideas
We give prayers in the darkness
 
All around them the bombs come thundering
Heavy fire bludgeoning
They’re kettled and corralled like cattle
In this densely packed and fenced in place
This cramped and crowded rat-hole
Filled with sickness and panic 
And the IDF, brazen in uniform
Stand and watch as Gaza burns
The flames dancing in their insignia badges
 

Hate is a white hot flame

So, a friend posted this article on facebook, about a speech given by an amazing woman named Chavka Folman Raban. She was a survivor of the Warsaw ghettos and Auschwitz, and an advocate for peace. 

Her speech was so poetic and inspiring, I quickly wrote this poem. I hope I can do her voice justice. The poem is called Rebellion. 

1942

Through the window of this small station

I can see them

Through the damp woods

And the trampled carpet

Of broken bluebells

I see them in the meadows

 

All around them

The Germans come thundering

Horses’ hooves bludgeoning, they’re

Kettled and corralled like cattle.

I wait.

 

I see four boys, watched over by soldiers

Digging a hole

Their faces are slippery

With mud and tears

Then the soldiers shoot each one with a snap

And they tumble in roughly

Limbs suddenly flung

This is it

I whisper, heart thumping

And my mouth barely breathes it: Shoah

 

I hold this terrible truth to me

All the way back

Back home to the ghetto

Though this had not always been our home

This densely packed and fenced-in place

This cramped and crowded rat-hole

Filled with sickness and panic

But now we called it home; our ghetto

And now I knew the time had come

To fight

Resist

Be brave

 

We write pamphlets, papers

For those with no food or medicine

To them we gave words and ideas

 

We smuggled what weapons we could

We fought, and they took me to Auschwitz

I still did not state my true name

As they branded me

We’re corralled and kettled like cattle

In this densely packed and fenced in place

And back

In Warsaw

 

The rebellion was raging

And the SS, brazen in uniform,

Stood and watched as the ghettos burnt

The fire danced in their brass buttons

 

So many died that day

So many brave, bold, and young

So many lives cut short

When they should have known love

And beauty

And laughter

 

And now how are we to be brave?

Bravery does not wear a uniform

How are we to fight our rebellion?

To stand in the blazing face of hatred

To show that love is stronger?

 

2014

Through the windows of this army base

I can see them

Though thick dust grimes the glass

And fills the air between us

They’re walled in

Kettled and corralled like cattle

I wait.

Four boys

Throw stones.

Swiftly, they’re

Lined up in rifle sights

And dropped

Onto piles of rubble

Limbs suddenly flung

I hear the wail of their mothers

They should have lived

Should have known love

And beauty

And laughter

 

And now how are we to be brave?

This densely packed and fenced in place

Leaves no room for peace

We write pamphlets, papers

For those with no food or medicine

To them we gave words and ideas

We give prayers in the darkness

 

All around them the bombs come thundering

Heavy fire bludgeoning

They’re kettled and corralled like cattle

In this densely packed and fenced in place

This cramped and crowded rat-hole

Filled with sickness and panic

And the IDF, brazen in uniform

Stand and watch as Gaza burns

The flames dancing in their insignia badges

 

Hate is a white hot flame

  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)

Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)