Saturday, 17 October 2020

Loaded words 25.11.20

Enjoy a class p&g spoken word and poetry virtual event with Joolz Denby and - from The Honey Farm - Bee Asha Singh and Gael Curran, and curator Gregory McCartney editor of Abridged (one of p&g's best-loved publications) and HU.

Do we think of and react to spoken word differently to poems in books? This event celebrates both, looks at differences to access to spoken word and publishing and how that affects poets from less well-represented groups. This virtual event has readings, performances and a chance to discuss why and how we sometimes judge.



This event is free. We are on Zoom. And don't forget that we are still looking for one more performer/poet - send us your links the usual way.

Learn more about the event and find out how to register here.

*****

More on Joolz Denby - if you need it - here.

More on The Honey Farm -"potentially the first and only and by default greatest Scottish female rap group of all time" - here and insta here.

More on Abridged here and HU here.





Sunday, 11 October 2020

Seeking you?

We would like to invite you to be part of a unique virtual event on the 25th November. p&g are seeking a stunning new or emerging #poet or #spokenword performer to open the evening.



Paid opportunity. Send us your links through the usual contact details - we look forward to seeing your work.

Deadline 31.10.20

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Coming soon

 All been quiet while p&g have been working behind the scenes planning something for you next month - watch this space for some exciting news and more details coming soon.




Thursday, 10 September 2020

Plums etc

 A time to harvest. Plums and a few other juicy morsels.




Check out some stuff from p&g collaborator Bridget Khursheed online:

  • Dead Loss a poem as part of the Vision 2020 project from the Scottish Poetry Library
  • Stowed Out Locked In set 




Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Making spoken word videos

Over the past few months due to Covid-19 I have been asked for a few spoken word videos. The results can be seen on Hugh Macmillan's Poems from the backroom #plagueopoets, as part of the upcoming Scottish Poetry Library's Vision 2020 project and Stowed Out 2020 [Locked In].

It is a very different thing making a video of yourself, as opposed to being filmed performing live. 

First and foremost for someone who has been living in the Borders (with for a considerable part of that time only access to local opportunities due to caring responsibilities), it is a liberation to do it yourself. Breathtaking. And share it yourself too! And the feel of a lot of doors opening. The viewing of other people's work has been astonishing also at events I never would have been able to get to like the Poetry Wales lockdown edition launch and Nine Arches Press Peter Kahn Little Kings launch: these events allowed me to effectively meet in person writers that I had only read before; private to well not exactly to the public but better as an online reading is intimate and powerful and feels personal.

Technically however my first thoughts on how to do this were quite basic. This was after all not going to be a multishot feature film  but quick and dirty engineering. So sitting in one place to read with a single static shot seemed wisest. I used Microsoft Teams and set up a meeting and recorded myself that way. The result was ok but felt a bit clunky requiring some tweaking in a video editor to remove the meeting name at the beginning. It also felt like I was speaking at a meeting which in my case was ok but might be a downer for some people. Subsequently I have converted to using my phone - still with me sitting at my desk to record so far - and I think I get a better result. Easy to move the phone around to get some simple effects but try them to see what they look like first. But also easy to knock the phone though if you wave your hands around a lot as I do and have it propped up against the laptop screen. You can sneak a cheatsheat on your screen too with nobody the wiser. Quality overall was better in my opinion and easy to stop and start. If you have no access to editing software don't start recording until you are ready (ideally with everything you need close by) and maybe even plan what you are going to say, read and how you will finish - to avoid long pauses. I just write some keywords on a bit of paper if I want to remind myself - the same kind of notes I would make for a live reading in person. One more tip is make sure to video landscape. You can see the dangers of filming portrait in the screenshot showing short films in my channel screengrab below. For those particular videos of water, it wasn't much of an issue but if your film is being spliced in with a lot of others - landscape may be a requirement.

For the Vision 2020 project I was tasked to make a video to accompany my commissioned poem. This one I wanted to be more experimental. I decided almost immediately to absent my person entirely from proceedings which works well with the poem but also usefully opened up a few more possibilities as to how it could be shot. For this project I used a full on video editing piece of software Adobe Premier Pro. It's not cheap so find someone or an organisation, school or college who can let you use their copy or use a free video editing utility and face the fact you may have to show their logo (not the end of the world). I wanted to weave together several short video source films I had made locally to where I lived - this stage of making the films on my phone was step one and involved an image walk around the settings of the poem. My poem has several times in it all in the same place - so I had to use diffferent nearby landscape to recreate the before and after. It ended up getting a bit drizzly once I reached the site itself (where the trees were cut down) but I think that added to the end product atmosphere - in fact I added some scratches and dust to grain the image further using effects. So make the most of unexpected changes in conditions and don't chuck stuff away just because it isn't exactly as you planned. I then made a voice recording - separately using the voice recorder again free on my phone. Once added, the video elements were quick to put together but there was quite a lot of sound tweaking to be done. This was because my source videos had sound which I liked; so it was kept in places and subdued in others. The voice track needed to be enhanced too. I really enjoyed experimenting with the editing software. 

My latest experiment has been with a video export of a Microsoft PowerPoint animation - you can watch it here. So no tool is too simple to integrate into your video.  You'll have this piece of software if you have Microsoft Office and you can export a ppt file as video - simple as that. Students can get Office for free btw!


Work in progress using this technique though: timings are the key issue for experimentation at this point - e.g. the first shot of titles lingers! Next time I will also record a voice track and add it using Premiere Pro again. 

There's plenty to include and explore - video, art, animation, voice, sound poems, editing all of which I pursue in my practice - along with what is effectively publishing to voice mechanism via YouTube. Not least the ability to quickly get poems out (not to mention building a bit of an archive). Experimenting with video certainly fills the performance gap enforced by lockdown and more. Try it! Let me know about your experiments with video in the usual way - happy to review and link to my favourites.

***

My channel is here: perhaps of most interest to trainspotters and lovers of the very short unitheme film. If you have already checked out my insta @poetandgeek you will know the stuff I like.




Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Stowed Out 2020 [Locked In]

Holiday feeling here at p&q hq. But plenty in the pipeline including performing at the splendid Stowed Out 2020 [Locked In] on the 15th August online. 



Enjoy - you can find full details here and it is free. But do think about donating via JustGiving here. All money raised goes to Tiny Changes. A community of tiny change makers working together to help young minds feel better- it is a great charity. More here.


Tuesday, 7 July 2020

A little vision of what is to come

There are still more reviews on their way from p&g but for the moment working on a commissioned piece. More details in due course but the preparation has been fun. Spent a rainy day on a roundabout in the borders...





Other new work can be found in the tasty new Banana Bread issue of Cake Magazine available from here.



One of the beautiful illustrations from Diana Steve

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Review: Of memory and furniture by Bron Bateman

Before we go any further, this is one of the best titles that I have seen for a while: it resonates right through to the end. A killer blow.

Australian poet Bron Bateman's latest collection develops through 4 parts and is described as exploring "experiences of female embodiment, sexuality, and relationships with family, lovers and institutions...concerned with expressions of female sexuality in its myriad forms – heterosexual, lesbian, and experiences of non-normative sexuality – as well as issues of maternal subjectivity, mental health and abuse and, throughout, the role of memory in enabling healing."



This is a collection that has a whole ecosystem of vividly realised friends, encounters and locations that ground and validate its often intense bodily and sexual language from the dedications to many of the poems in Part 1 to its lovers, family and transactions through to demeaning medical interventions. The poems' sequence is knitted together with motifs especially blood and piercings to the body. For adornment for example in the poem bars-

you could hang chandeliers from
these he says eyes half-closed
taking my right nipple between
his thumb...[]
I watch him redesign my body in his head.
we can pierce you here...

And pleasure - the intense Needle Play - to the painful self blame transfixing the sense of self in one of the brutal and self-healing concluding poems of part 4 Talisman:

be less serious not think I was a cut above use big words be so sensitive if I were special he would not have dared."

Everything that life throws at the poet in the end can be spoken and makes her voice and sense of self stronger. This is a collection that doesn't shrink from naming the casual diminishing sexism of institutions but also the power of healing available in situations that the poet's sensibility controls - even against what might appear to be the odds. For example in the poem Language

Either my blood, or my baby's.
Never mind, he'll say, his back to me, they're a dime a dozen.
Meaning miscarriages.
This is my first.

Later in the same poem:
I tell him. Tie me up all you like. I'm still a feminist.

The cuts are balanced by a lush sensuality of language and experience which are at times breath-taking; from the opening lines of the same poem,

At twenty, I have: my first child,
bruising, soft and black as summer plums...

to the loving "loll and sway of her thighs" in Catching up and hungry joy for example in PDAs

...I've searched and failed to find a word that adequately
describes the texture of your thighs,
or that my mouth against you
reminded of the peach I ate yesterday, its
tender fuzz against my lips...

The poems build to an understanding of sexual, body image and physical control and naming in the context of past life experience for the reader; glimpsed in poems such as shape of a girl that transforms a submissive sexual role into the powerful place inhabited by subs:

the longing to open your lips
feel the shape and weight
of that word
in your mouth

A visceral recasting of life experience of immense strength, this collection reclaims a body space long overlooked. A gift that repays study. You can find out more about Bron Bateman here @BronBateman and order the book here from @FremantlePress.

************

Cover is also very pleasing but no credit discoverable.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Review: This is virus by Joe Williams

This timely pamphlet from the poet and performer Joe Williams is described as a "sequence of erasure poems made from Boris Johnson’s letter to the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic". The poems reimagines the coronavirus communication from the prime minister sent to the public in April 2020 by redacting information to create a new commentary on the relationship between those "leading" the response to the crisis and the rest of us living the lockdown (with, as we now know, more strength, consistency and conscience).



Redaction as a technique is very effective - the story of the source material's underlying meaning is glimpsed in a faceted retelling. Its appearance as a key component in tales of political scandal and message manipulation is turned on its ahead to reveal truth.



The poet questions the official tone and message pulling back the underlying assumptions - for example on herd immunity - as we have journeyed through lockdown and its aftermath. Verbal repetition, contradictions and and an underlying simple visual beauty as words get less and less to the final poem. The full effect is gained from a reading rather than quotes or snippets which we are keeping to a minimum in this review.

Like pyschobilly for John Peel, p&g feels the lure of visual techniques like cut up, distortion and erasure very strongly; and applauds the latter's use here to place strong focus on the message while simultaneously presenting the reader with shape and structure that goes beyond the poetic. In this case asking the deceptively simple question what is missing? What are we missing? What void lies within our so-called leaders?




You can find out more from @JoeWilliamsPoet and purchase the pamphlet from Joe's website here https://joewilliams.co.uk/ - an investment of £4 p&g would recommend.





Sunday, 7 June 2020

Review: Sacrifice Zones by Samuel Tongue

I was rereading Kathleen Jamie's book of essays Sightlines while I was reviewing Samuel Tongue's ambitious and gratifying first collection Sacrifice Zones. In Jamie's well-known essay The Hvalsalen she visits the whale hall at the Bergen Natural History Museum in Norway and works some of her magic to reset the whale skeletons - even as they are being restored by museum staff - and our view, our way of seeing ourselves in relations to the whales, in this world we share.



We work through something of the same process in Sacrifice Zones. The book is described as an exploration of "the meshwork and mess of living lives dependent on 'sacrifice zones'; places, peoples and animals that become expendable in the maintenance of civilised society." A view of the small isles with electricity pylons captures a pivotal debate:

Everything can change direction: the bee at the salvia
are newly political and the swallow swerves
into the gnat like a current jumping its cable

The collection looks closely and challenges our perception of animal and environment. Like the viewer's stance in the whale hall, we are implicated. Indeed human is so very close to animal that convict transforms into kangaroo in Not Government Issue:

A long tongue slides between his teeth, licks
his blue tattoos, tasting ink. There was a woman,
once, a child too - their names smudge under his hot rasp.

It is a recurring theme; we see gulls who "laugh down the chimneypots" until street is seashore in the full-throated What is it like to be a herring gull; and in the retelling of a Cheyenne/Navajo legend of Coyote It's long been on trend to turn your eyes into an I... the poet tries many forms of new eye/I while joyfully riffing through animal viewpoints; and transmigrates the very shape of things human, vegetable and animals in Mountain Hare

today, i catch a mountain hare in its form under frozen fists of bracken, eating the last of the snow. as if eating the snow will keep it white.

This poem also features one of the many lovely shifts throughout the collection between form and free verse which echo the sense of perceptive dislocation. And there is much to savour from the austere animal trials sequence to the pleasing inclusion of machine, technology and data. In Carhenge commodity is a already returning to earth

New car smell rammed into the roadbed until it stinks
of the earth's gut: muddy leaves,wet dog, plum-cake.

Its final lines "there are ugly gods - bitter in stomach, black in the lung" might describe the collections dogged questioning of the creed we have defaulted to - in an apparent absence of formal religion - connecting our faultlines spiritual and liminal by looking beyond.

Sacrifice Zones is available from Red Squirrel Press here and learn more @SamuelTongue. Enjoy!

*

Cover is superb - amazing work from Gerry Cambridge. And one small gripe - I don't like ALL CAPS headings for poems as used in this collection as I find them hard to read but trivial and maybe just me!

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Seeking Lez Reid

Leslie Trevor Reid (1964 - 1991) - known as Lez - was a poet, singer, filmmaker and artist from Oxford. He lived most of his life in Oxford but spent several months in Columbus, Ohio and briefly took classes at Ohio State University.



When Lez died suddenly in 1991 he had just joined a band and music was his focus. But he was a gifted poet who had been active in Oxford scene and Bloomin'Arts for a number of years.



From 1987 until his tragic death in 1991 Lez had collaborated on several projects with Bridget Khursheed of p&g including performance poetry, video and crunch band PPP. His last unpublished collection was called Poems from the Housebuilder making reference to Lez' years as a bricklayer often working with his father.



p&g has been trying to locate his two sons Joseph and Duncan for several years to share a poetry collection and artwork - you can see our previous calls in http://www.poetandgeek.net/2014/08/poetic-inheritance-in-marks-and-spencer.html and http://www.poetandgeek.net/2014/08/searching-for-sons-of-poet-leslie-reid.html

What we have previously not revealed is that Lez and Bridget also made a film Celtic Pagans in Columbus. This has previously only ever been launched at a curated event in Columbus itself in 1990. We are seeking some help to get this restored and made available. After 30 years, it's time.



Please help in any way you can.

not really missed at all
I am a million fragments of light
and yet, I have only perceived a fragment of myself

Review: PASSION, PAIN and DEMON SLAYIN by Nick Igbokwe

The collection trilogy PASSION, PAIN and DEMON SLAYIN describes itself as written "through the heart, from the heart and for the heart". But it operates through the senses too in a visceral TikTok vision: anything can be resampled and welded together to create the new.

I N T E R T E X T U A L I T Y

My dish is made of a recipe
of sugar, spice and everything nice;
heartbreak,
pain
passion.
Play.


This is a lengthy collection of three often overlapping sections each themed with a nod to Kid Cudi's 2016 release of the same name. In the original Kid Cudi collaborates on tracks with artists ranging from Andre 3000 through Travis Scott to Willow Smith. And in the book, poems bounce off each other in what the author describes as a “plethora of contributions”. Lines are samples, song themes riffed and artists walk though as characters; a mashup of singers, thinkers, film dialogue, quotes from poems, texts, tweets, jazz, lyrics; there's even a shout out to Danielle Steele.

Reimagining is key. A Mike Posner sample highlights this with its self-referential echoes of the meetup with Avicii that led to I took a pill in Ibiza: itself a remade encounter put into words and then remixed before the track found success. Intertextual hints question versional reality: who owns the truth here? The lyricist, the singer, the remixer, the fan? The reporter?

[Interlude: Mike Posner]
Avicii died, and little homie calls me up, and he's crying. (Drip) I told him, "I'ma be honest
with you, if you don't get your shit together, you're next." And the truth is, by the time you
hear this song, I don't fuckin' know if he's gon' be alive or not. This is all compounded by
the fact that she and I do not speak anymore. I mean, am I the only one here who doesn't
know what the fuck is going on?

Earlier extract from WHAT ARE WE

...Took a long long walk
down a street in Ibiza.
Thoughts of flashing lights,
you on my arm
The other arm in a sling and cast.

Plaster o. Plaster of Paris.
Everything was rosy
till you took a trip
and I thought it was a bright idea
to sneak my side piece into our night stand....

The reader needs to work at times - has to be surefooted - to see where the poet and the sample connect (as direct quotes although usually attributed are often given different presentation as shown in the Molasses sample below). The text sample is a different beast to its music counterpart; the poet has to be vigilant on the reader's behalf to avoid confusion.


p&g can envision this book filtered into 45 minutes of live music, spoken word and video but in its present state this collection is a whole performance in a book. We look forward to seeing what comes next from Nick Igbokwe and the Mans Way Of Seeing Things collective. PASSION, PAIN and DEMON SLAYIN is published by The Blueprint Ng and you can find out more here @_nothingnobody @thoughtsbyman