Oxjam at Rough Trade/Handjob Zine Launch at The Chameleon Cafe by way of Speech Therapy at Guitar Bar

This past week has been one of the busiest I’ve had performing-wise since I pared-back my reading activities to a minimum a couple of years ago after having burned out. I must say it’s been an absolutely exhilerating week and I have loved every one of the events I’ve been fortunate to have performed at.

The week began with the Oxjam event at Rough Trade record shop here in Nottingham – organised by Claire and Rosa from the Oxfam bookshop in town. I had a nice long set-time and was able to really appreciate the receptive crowd that assembled for the night. It’s always great to be amongst poetry lovers and I met some lovely people after the gig – got rid of some books too. The night was a mix of musicians, DJs and myself and the poet Alice Short providing the live lit element. Thanks again to Claire and Rosa for organising the night and booking me to perform – look forward to collaborating with the bookshop on events in the future.

Mid-week saw the return of Speech Therapy down at Bar Deux/Guitar Bar. If you’ve ever attended Speech Therapy then you know that I have a certain way of negotiating the task of hosting the night, let’s say. The event is quite anarchic, energetic, irreverent, but always extremely supportive, nurturing and encouraging of any one and every one who steps up to the mic to deliver their words. Something I’m most proud of is the fact that so many first-time poetry performers find the courage to perform their poems for the very first time down at Speech Therapy. This is no accident as I work hard to cultivate and preserve this atmosphere of encouragement – but I also like the fact that Speech Therapy has an edge to it. Hope to see you there next time! (fourth thurs of every month – see here for details)

Then on to Friday night – and the launch event for Handjob Zine – which I was scheduled to perform at and also host (just so you know, Handjob, the zine’s title, refers to the fact that the zine is Hand Made – I’m reliably informed by Jim and Sophie, the mag’s editors). Now, let me tell you, come seven o’clock on Friday evening, after a full week of day-job drugs work and also gigging in the evening, I was completely knackered. But Jim and Sophie are two of the nicest people going and for them, I will go the extra mile. I first met Jim because he had kopped a copy of Grime from a local bookshop, read it, loved it, and contacted me to tell me so. Jim is a genuine, humble lover of literature who set up a lit zine with his girlfriend, Sophie. They have a wonderfully working-class sensibility, a feel for the communal reach of the word, and a belief in the underbelly of the boar. The night was fantastic, with amazing words from amazing writers, (go view Handjob’s write-up of the event here and also check out some of the photos…) writers who read were: Louise Hart, Luke Humphries, Raif Mansell, Ben Williams, Holly Watson, Dean Lilleyman, and Joseph Ridgwell. It was great to see/hear Dean read from his novel again, after having met him recently when we booked him to perform at the Do Or Die Poets night down at Sobar. Also, I had the opportunity to meet Joseph Ridgwell – having read his work online for many years – and Joe turned out to be an absolutley top fella. We London-ed it up chin-wagging at the bar for an hour or so, which was another highlight of the night for me. And I met Martin Appleby the editor of Paper and Ink zine, who I’ve promised to send some poems to for the upcoming ‘Hangover’ issue. Go submit yourselves, it’s a great lil publication. Cheers for the free copy, Martin!

Local band White Finger – complete with my good friend Jess the drummer girl! – rounded off the night with a high voltage blast of Notts punk. A fitting end to a great night….

Gigs to put in your diary – Dean Lilleyman will be performing at the November Speech Therapy – and I will be hosting another Do Or Die Poets night at Sobar at the end of November. If you made it to the last Do Or Die night then you know that’s an event not to be missed.

Anyways, I’ll leave you with some pictures of my performance down at Rough Trade, taken by my friend Donna – thanks Donna. I look nuts. What can I say? I put everything into it when I read/perform my poems, or compere an event. I don’t like to leave anything unspent. Feels counterfeit to do any thing but give every thing you’ve got. As I like to say, I crawled for eternity on my hands and knees over broken glass and molten tarmac just to read you a poem. Where I come from, it’s the height of bad manners to tell a poem without your head on fire.

See you at the next seance my friends! xx

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