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Archive for the ‘other people’s things’ Category

Our friends at wordPLAY have done it again. As part of the Poetry Parnassus, a week of international rhyming goodness, wordPLAY will be hosting 7 of the most exciting and unique poets and spoken word artists from the Pacific islands (all 10,000 of them). The diverse line-up features artists from the Cook Islands, Guam, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga and I shall be giddly swinging my legs in the audience to hear them all.

The magnificent featured performers are:

Tusiata Avia

Audrey Brown-Pereira

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Selina Tusitala Marsh

Karlo Mila

Craig Santos Perez

Teresia Teaiwa

wordPLAY London presents Pacifica
White Room, Southbank Centre
London
Thurs 28th June, 7pm
Hosted by Ms wordPLAY
Free Entry

Royal Tenenbaum bought the house on Archer Avenue in the winter of his 35th year. Over the next decade he and his wife had three children and then they separated. They were never legally divorced.

Etheline Tenenbaum kept the house and raised the children and their education was her highest priority. She wrote a book on the subject.

Chas Tenenbaum had, since elementary school, taken most of his meals in his room standing up at his desk with a cup of coffee to save time. In the sixth grade, he went into business breeding Dalmatian mice which he sold to a pet shop in Little Tokyo. He started buying real estate in his early teens and seemed to have an almost preternatural understanding of international finance. He negotiated the purchase of his father’s summer house on Eagle’s Island. The BB was still lodged between two knuckles in Chas’ left hand.

Margot Tenenbaum was adopted at age two. Her father had always noted this when introducing her. She was a playwright, and won a Braverman Grant of fifty thousand dollars in the ninth grade. She and her brother Richie ran away from home one winter and camped out in the African wing of the public archives. They shared a sleeping bag and survived on crackers and root beer. Four years later Margot disappeared alone for two weeks and came back with half a finger missing.

Richie Tenenbaum had been a champion tennis player since the third grade. He turned pro at seventeen and won the U. S. Nationals three years in a row. He kept a studio in the corner of the ballroom but had failed to develop as a painter. On weekends Royal took him on outings around the city. These invitations were never extended to anyone else.

Richie’s best friend, Eli Cash, lived with his aunt in the building across the street. He was a regular fixture at family gatherings, holidays, mornings before school, and most afternoons.

The three Tenenbaum children performed Margot’s first play on the night of her eleventh birthday. They had agreed to invite their father to the party. He had not been invited to any of their parties since. In fact, virtually all memory of the brilliance of the young Tenenbaums had been erased by two decades of betrayal, failure, and disaster.

I can only aspire to write something as lovely as the opening narration from the Royal Tenenbaums.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
The great auk, like the one I just knitted for Ghosts Of Gone Birds, in aid of BirdLife International’s preventing extinctions programme.
– Margaret Atwood, Guardian Q&A, 29th October 2011

Despite my unofficial retirement from the world of spoken word, I have been coaxed from my sleepy cove of lethargy to participate in a really exciting event. The glorious, unkillable wordPLAY has risen like a phoenix from the flames to present a literary evening in association with the ‘Ghosts of Gone Birds’ initiative to raise funds and awareness for bird conservation causes worldwide, in conjunction with RSPB and BirdLife.

The central event is an exhibition of artwork at The Rochelle School Arts Centre in Shoreditch supplied by visual artists writers ranging from Margaret Atwood (who is honorary president of BirdLife and has crocheted a Great Auk to exhibit), Ralph Steadman, Jessica Albarn (sister Damon), Jamie Hewlett (the artist behind ‘Gorillaz’) and many more…

Doves and British Sea Power are also involved and will be staging a music night as part of the project.

I am giddy to be involved and have been beavering away at a pair of dystopian nightmares to read aloud in my funny accent for your aural pleasure (the nightmare is that they’re not finished yet). Do come on down to Shoreditch, where the beautiful people live, and do your part to save our feathered friends…

***

wordPLAY London and Ghosts of Gone Birds Present:
A Flock Of Poets
Thursday 17th November, 7.30pm

featuring
Anna Mae Selby
Liz Adams
Sarah Day
Bronagh Fegan
Nia Davies
and more

Performing works from their existing collections PLUS new works inspired by pieces in the ongoing Ghost of Gone Birds exhibition

£3 on the door
(with profits going to conservation charities such as RSPB and Bird Life)


image by Reena Makwana

This weekend sees the International Alternative Press Festival 2011 at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL, London Town, and Nest Gallery will be selling a number of zines and artworks tomorrow, Sunday 29th May, 10am-4pm.

I am very excited to be taking part with a sequel to my last zine (Wonderful Creatures And How To Kill Them) entitled More Amazing Creatures And Further Ways To Kill Them. The eagle-eyed amongst you will note that I forgot the name of my own zine when making the follow-up. Find out new ways to ensure the permanant annihilation of such critters as the Daddy Long Legs, the Hippopotamus and the Urban Fox. Get them before they get you.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE

The Nest table will also feature the beauteous work of some incredibly talented artists such as Anna Lincoln, Emily and Anne, Siobhan O’Brien, Rebecca Strickson, Bella Szyszkowska, Alice Marwick, Emily Howells and Reena Makwana.

Nest is an all-female collective of exciting artists (and the odd munchkin such as myself) and always has something unique and beautiful to share, so be a mensch and get yourselves down to see Nest and all the other exciting artists.

Two bits of excellent news:
Firstly, the wonderful team at Storm In A Teacup have released issue 2 of their titular zine, once again featuring alternative female artists and writers dealing with female-positive topics and creating delightful things. I am extremely pleased to say that I have a story featured amongst the illustrious company, and even moreso that Bex Massey has created an illustration to accompany my piece. One of the most wonderful things is to have done something that inspires another person to make art, so I’m very excited and humbled. The zine also has a cocktail recipe, so you know you want to get some of that. It’s available from all good zine fairs and by e-mailing storminateacupzine@gmail.com. Big thanks to Elizabeth Martin.

Secondly, wordPLAY is making its triumphant return to the Good Ship in Kilburn on 15th March in aid of Cancer Research UK. We have pulled together a splendiferous array of writers and performers to say words at you until your head explodes with joy and also hydrogen. It’s a line-up so deliriously awesometacular that we aren’t even having music this time around. And it’s hosted by me, and you know how you love to hear me say things in that silly accent of mine, as well as the much more capable and coherent Nancy Clarik with moral support and gentle guidence of the beauteous Becca. So do come and support our charity, and you will be rewarded with an evening of unequable literary lyricism from a group of massively talented peoples:

Booker-longlisted, pioneer of the New Puritans, and thoroughly excellent fellow MATT THORNE

Wickedly wonderful poetry from Carol Ohemaa

and our spectactular guest stars
Liz Adams

Sam Buchan-Watts

Sophie Buchan

Jack Kelly

Leslie Tetteh

then don’t forget to poke me in the face and tell me you love me for letting you know all about the art that’s running wild in the world.

Above is a thing of loveliness, a short film from the hitRECord collective entitled Morgan and Destiny’s Eleventeenth Date: The Zeppelin Zoo. A dreamy, steampunky fairy tale with a Joyce-esque nonsense narration that twists and teases language so perfectly that my head almost exploded. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is turning out to be one of these sickeningly productive polymaths (I’m looking at you, James Franco) who thrill and depress in equal measure, with their cool eye for creative wonderments and keen focus in actually getting shit done. Every weekend of this year I have resolved to get a short story started and finished, of any length, of any first-draft-questionable quality, and eight weeks in, I have a couple of stop/start sentences of blaarghable blathering. Meanwhile, JGL’s off Inceptioning and running creative collectives and wearing suits in public AND he got to kiss Zooey Deschenel. But rather than having a teary-eyed resent-filled moment of lust at his prodigious output, let us all learn something from this. I don’t know what that something is, but it’s good to have a soul-crushing realisation chaser to a thing of magnificent fabulosity. NOW LET’S WRITE A STORY.

I was never good with poetry, because, for all my fine qualities, I lack discipline. I always thought my attempts had their own rag-tag charm, but there’s something about a well-constructed poem that can be dazzling. And I know for a fact that I get five page views a day, so I am setting a challenge to anyone who dares make beautiful words.

A pantoum is a poetic form without set length, subject or rhyme scheme. It is comprised of quatrains. The second and fourth line of each stanza reappear (with some variations) as the first and third line of the next stanza. The first and third lines of the first stanza return as the last and second lines of the final stanza.

For example

Milltown Auspice by Ben Jahn

How to explain his death – with humour
The best jokes start serious:
He fell asleep on the beach with his pockets full of bread
Seagulls carried him away –

The best jokes start serious:
The Governor went north (the mills full of men) God knows
Seagulls carried him away –
It was a thick-fog day, and still

The Governor went north (the mills full of men) God knows
How to explain his death – with humour
It was a thick-fog day, and still
He fell asleep on the beach with his pockets full of bread*

God, it’s dreamy. Send attempts to bronaghfegan[at]hotmail[dot]com and I’ll write you something in return.

*from McSweeney’s 31


c. Kit Ryall 2010

One of the hardest things about being an aspiring writer is other writers. Specifically, the highly motivated, self-promoting kind, who know how they should be marketed and the sort of people who should know their name. Literary events are a breeding ground for it. They watch the crowd at literary events, scoping out the right people to crawl over on their way to the top. Facebook friends applaud as the promoters introduce their mates, or someone they went to uni with, or someone they high-fived after comparing identical opinions on late period David Foster Wallace (but they call him Dave). The audience then endures an evening of self-satisfied and mediocre performances because they have come to expect no better. I get it. It’s not how you write, it’s who you know. That’s how it works. That’s how everything works.

But as a reader who loves literature, I had given up on finding a literary evening of merit. I wanted emotion, I wanted art, I wanted to hear people who were passionate and fresh and TALENTED. I didn’t want the organiser’s mates, shared backgrounds and trite metaphors, yet this is the attitude permeating the spoken word scene. Familiarity over quality. “You can read your shitty poem at my event because you let me read at yours”. The snake eats its own tail.

Then, in happier times, I moved to Kilburn and discovered wordPLAY. wordPLAY wasn’t a forum for smug connections and insularity. wordPLAY wanted beautiful things. It attracted a wide range of writers, poets, musicians and spoken word artists to perform, who were talent spotted and had a diverse range of mediums, perspectives and attitudes. The atmosphere wasn’t one of wet-lipped schmoozing and behind-backed criticism but of enthusiasm and excitement for the written word carved and coiffed and spoken out loud. The organisers weren’t looking to promote themselves, the performers weren’t looking for an agent, and the audience weren’t looking to spot the next big thing. Everyone was there for the love of good writing, and that’s what they got.

When wordPLAY ended in May, everything looked a bit duller. Going out on a high, the team had attracted a varied and impressive range of headliners from Laura Dockrill, Kate Tempest, Bernadine Evaristo, Edinburgh award-winning comedian Tim Key, TS Eliot-winning Poet George Szirtes, author of ‘Return to The Hundred-Acre Wood’ David Benedictus, and an eclectic array of less established, unpublished and wonderful writers, from traditional poets to MCs, beatboxers and freestylers and prose writers and storytellers.

The good news is that wordPLAY returns on Tuesday 23rd November for a one off charity event in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. I am very happy to say that I’ve been asked to help organise this glorious return to the literary scene. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that organising an event is shitting hard work. I have great found respect for anyone who manages to run any kind of evening, even the dire ones, and I now see the appeal of getting your friends in to fill out the bill. But the trick is not to give up. Amazing writing is out there, waiting to be discovered by an audience who wants to listen. Working on the new wordPLAY event has taught me not to give up and resort to favours or settle for someone reliable but dull. Once a month for over a year, wordPLAY met the challenge, and sought out the exciting, unusual and interesting voices to perform. They crafted one of the most accessible, entertaining and unpretentious spoken word events in London.

Keep 23rd November free. It’s going to be amazing.

follow wordPLAY on faceBOOK

My friends Anne and Emily made this preposterously amazing short film (with Billy, Dayo and Tom’s help) and I think you should all go vote for it because it is so fantastic. And if you’ve never quite managed that whole toilet hygiene malarky, you might learn something also (not me, though. I’ve got that shit down):

http://www.virginmediashorts.co.uk/films/entry/332663/a-film-about-poo

And check their other shiz out here. They are well good: http://www.emilyandanne.co.uk/

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To calm her down, I asked her to recite what I knew to be her favourite American poem.

‘Okay, James Joyce-‘ I prompted.

‘James Joyce was stupid. He didn’t know as much as I know. I’d rather throw dead batteries at cows than read him. Everything was fine until he came along. He started the Civil War. He tried to get the French involved but they wouldn’t listen. They filled him up with pastries and desserts. They tried to get us to use the metric system and we said, No, go away, we like our rulers. Thomas Jefferson said, You always get the rulers you deserve.’

‘Do you know any other poems by heart?’

‘No.’

(An extract from “A Very Practical Joke” by Sheila Heti. This is my favourite collection of letters, words and phrases in lingual history, and has been a great comfort to me at times like these.)