Time to snuggle in

It’s definitely autumn. I say that with some conviction because today on woman’s hour there was a discussion about when we are in both meteorological and astrological winter – and both are around the 21st of December, ergo, we are in autumn still. The leaves are beautiful, though falling fast. The nights begin before you realise and hot chocolate has become the beverage of choice.

Time to think about cosy evenings in, and how we can fill the long dark days. Well, there is much to do! 13th – 22nd November sees Nottingham Poetry Festival‘s 5th event, and this year it is all on-line and free – so you can join us from wherever you are.

If you fancy a workshop, I am facilitating World Jam’s Kicking up leaves, and staring at fires on Sunday 22nd November. Join us online, details on the World Jam page.

Gigs to look out for during the NPF: Looking forward, with Hindsight by Poetry Aloud presents: and DIY Eclectic Showcase I can personally recommend. The fact that I hosted both is not at all relevant!

I’m also working behind the scenes with other artists on forthcoming projects that are very exciting, but about which I have to keep Mum for now…

This autumn and winter is going to be a tough one for many, so be kind to yourselves, and to others. Here’s a #DixieCatNottm image to keep you warm and fuzzy inside. (There are plenty more on her insta site!)

Autumn is virtually here

Well, there is a real nip in the air – but performance life has and is continuing virtually. Aside from whizzing around the country to listen to poets far and wide, and throwing in the odd poem to the open mic slots, via the ether I have also been dabbling with radio and working remotely in care homes.

The latter project was with Creative Paths and I have to confess I think I found the tech more challenging than the people living with dementia on the other side of the screen! They thought nothing of singing, chatting an creating poems with the person in the ipad. I find it really interesting how different people react to new technologies. For example small children are learning all the time and just figure out how to work things, and my recent workshop participants weren’t in the least bit phased with the use of the new technology. It’s just those of us somewhere in the middle that remember enough to have forgotten how to learn new things that have any issues!

October is always a busy month supporting We Shall Overcome to raise funds for those facing homelessness, especially as the weather draws in. This year the circumstances are different, but the need for support is ever greater so we are having a virtual event on Saturday 10th October – including the best raffle I have ever put together! There are commissions to be won – locally based, though nationally renown songwriters, musicians and poets are offering bespoke songs / poems / performances to the lucky raffle winners – and the tickets are only £1! You could also win a pair of tickets to Deerstock Festival for 2021. Make sure you log into the facebook group to join in the fun and get all the details. Get your tickets here. Be quick, the draw is Sunday 11th Oct at 6.30pm. Funds raised go to Emmanuel House in Nottingham.

So, wrap up cosily as I think this will be a bit of a one this year, remember to check in with your friends on the phone if not in person, and settle in with a good book. I can recommend some poetry…

Bloody Amazing by Dragon Yaffle press

The World Outside by Nottingham Writers Studio

Purl by Jo Dixon

The Pretty Boys of Gangster Town by Martin Grey

Get Over Yourself by Leanne Moden

Loves Burn by Kevin Queaver Jackson

That is your Rule of Six for now – plenty more when you are ready to swap bubbles….

June – July 2020 – Still virtually here …

It remains a very odd year. But, we are still (virtually) here and as bits of lockdown ease, are re-imposed, are too restrictive, aren’t stringent enough, time continues to march on as we do our best with it.

Poetically I have continued on-line and been privileged to be invited to contribute to a range of events. From the clever series of launch events for Purl, Jo Dixon‘s delightful first collection which I recommend you acquire and enjoy as soon as possible, to hosting workshops From the Corner of my Eye via Nottingham Writers Studio with participants from as far away as York and Texas, USA.

In my Poetry Aloud role I have produced events for the lockdown version of Exile Music festival, running and event called Exile Festival Poets Breakout with headliners Mark Gwynne-Jones and Lucy Peacock. I also produced WSO Wordsmith’s Summer Outing raising much needed funds for Emmanuel House.

Comin up soon is the launch of The World Outside on Tuesday the 4th of August from Nottingham Writers Studio. This is a collection of responses to the lockdown with contributions from many writers from the NWS, including one from me. Catch the performances via the link above

I’m also delighted to be working on a pilot project with Creative Paths, more on that in the future.

I hope you keep well, enjoy the year, albeit differently to as you may have anticipated doing so, and keep enjoying words.

Covid- 19 Part 2. The ‘new normal’

25th April to 1st June – 36 days in which time:

I’ve given five public performances – virtually – collaborating with five event hosts. This includes being the first artist ever to perform at two consecutive Kimberley Sessions, and Dixie being the first feline to star at any of the Kimberley Sessions!

I have now uploaded my performances to my YouTube page. I plan to be more proactive with it, so if you could give it a follow – that’d be most marvellous.

Delivered poetry workshops, and collaborated with Heart Art in Buxton.  There are more workshops coming up with Nottingham Writers Studio in July and September.

Remember Where’s Wally? Well I ran 10 rounds of Spot Dixie on my facebook page, which proved very popular. But that’s cat’s for you.

Finally sorted my Author Central page on Amazon. This one I could do with your help. If you have read any of my books and would like to leave a review – that would be marvellous.

I’ve been working with Ellis Guidford School and the University of Nottingham MEITS project to produce resources for EAL pupils, which is very exciting. I can’t wait to see the work they produce as a result of it.

Very excitingly, the results of the collaboration with Nottingham Trent University Graphic Design students and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature are here to see. I, alongside the fine poets:  Di Slaney, Greg Woods, Sue Dymoke, Hazel Warren and Trevor Wright shared poems with first year graphic design students.

They had a fairly open brief and this work was done during lockdown, when students had no access to the university facilities. I submitted a collection of Bloody Poems looking at perimenopause and the students did the rest. I am so impressed. Please do take a look around this site. You can look by poet name, or pupil via the home pages. There is a lot of amazing work to see.https://poetryofpublishing.cargo.site/LytishaTunbridge

Things I’ve been working on, to be shared in the future.

  • A major DIY Poets project which is still in the pipeline
  • Two anthologies – details to follow soon
  • A short collection of writings inspired by both a clearing-out find and the international Crossed Lines – Telepoetics Symposium hosted by Dr Sarah Jackson. https://crossedlines.co.uk/about/
  • Collaborations with other artists…

During this period I’ve also changed internet provider, got a new battery for my car, appreciated my neighbours for their friendship, jumps starts, back alley chats, clearance skills, and banana cake delivery. Also very grateful for plants, internet / film editing and boiler issue resolutions to friends.

And I’ve discovered that the clematis that never flowered, turns out to be a honeysuckle that is finally quietly blooming in the yard.

I am hoping the relaxation of lockdown will be effected wisely and that I might get a rest in the next month – this staying home is exhausting!

https://poetryofpublishing.cargo.site/LytishaTunbridge

 

Post C-19 Part 1, The Learning

Hello Lovelies. It is a strange time, and we are all learning allsorts, from tech, to baking, to our neighbours. There have been a lot of firsts for me in the past 6 weeks, and I want to share a couple with you. I, like a lot of people, have started to zoom, all over the place! I hosted my first couple of on-line music and poetry gigs, alongside – but 3 miles apart from – Martin Grey. First we had a DIY Poets readaround, then the first virtual World Jam with music and poetry from around the world to our sofa’s. That happened to co-incide with my birthday, so I had my first lockdown birthday with a screen full of talented friends. Dixie cat didn’t make me a cake, but luckily a friend did, and another delivered it on their daily exercise. Thanks Ness and Nancy!

Then, I read to the largest audience I have so far, the WSO Isolation Festival had 25,000 viewers! There was a huge talented and diverse group of performers and we raised a whopping £27 THOUSAND pounds to help those suffering from austerity. That was quite an event – sharing the experience with so many, even though I was sat alone with just the cat and a couple of bears. Amazing how these electronic connections are nurturing in these odd times.

Having a little more time to use as I choose, I had a go at making a film to go with my poem Babushka’s gift, The Matyroshka Doll, which began it’s evolution during an improv workshop with Activus 6 years ago. I was honoured to have Iryna Muha create the soundtrack and original music to accompany it. It had it’s debut at the WSO Fundraiser for Mesopotamia, a local Nottingham charity looking out for people in need, particularly at the moment.

Re-alignment

These are odd days, so I’m going to post the odd poem, short story or snippet here for you at odd times. Here’s your first. It is a short story, set circa 1989. I hope you enjoy it.

Re-alignment

You know how it is when you think you know where you are going but then the unexpected occurs? Not a complete derailment, more a realignment, a slight adjustment to your trajectory. That’s how it was with Simon and me.
We were part of the same crowd that hung out after school. We all went bowling, ice-skating, playing football together. At the end of 2nd Year people started pairing up, going out with one another, then breaking up and being a bit awkward in the group for a week before everything carried on as before. It was part of the normal teenage behaviours. Normal for here, anyway.
Except Shelly and Kevin. We all knew they would be together forever. Since we were 11 they had been going out, and never once broke up. Shelly and Kevin 4ever was carved into every tree, desk and porous surface around.
The rest of us just bumbled about, mostly just a pack, sometimes in smaller divisions, but a mixed group of friends. By the 4th year I had a huge, never voiced crush on James. We, and Simon and Jenny walked home the same way. We were a close group. I never told anyone how I felt about James, but one day during the last summer holidays ever, whilst Jenny and I were sat on the grass verge, watching the kickabout, she asked me out of the blue.
“So, are you going to do anything about James?”
I stammered a denial whilst I felt myself flush the reddest red ever. Jenny just looked at me.
“OK.”
That was all she said, and I thought I’d got away with it. I don’t really know now why I felt it was such a secret, why I never admitted it, but I didn’t.
Two years later, at the local, Jenny came and cornered me by the Ladies.
“I just want you to be prepared, in case you don’t want to be here. We have an announcement.”
Then she was gone. I stared over at the group I’d grown up with. They were all there; Tommy, Bill, Sharon, Sam, Simon, Billy T, Shelly, Kevin, Chris and Christine. And James. James, looking flushed and a bit scruffy with half his shirt hanging out, Converse laces undone. Suddenly he was calling me over and tapping the side of his pint with a spoon.
I was frozen. Then Jenny appeared at his side and flashed her hand around and everyone cheered. She glanced over at me, with a look I’ll never forget. It said so much; I gave you a chance, I warned you, I feel sorry for you, I won. Only, I had never realised the game was on. I wasn’t entirely sure when it began, or if I’d been playing. But, that I had lost was clear.
Still rooted by the loos, I suddenly became aware of Simon at my side, and his arm around my waist. I let him manoeuvre me to the end of the bar, away from the others. I wilted. That’s the only word for it. My legs buckled, and I felt like I had exhaled all the breath that had been holding me up for the past 20 years.
Simon caught me and edged the stool over to me. As he did I looked at him. He was quite good looking, in square, office type of way. Why was he here with me now? He was always nearby, now I thought about it. It was usually the two of us that brought up the rear when cycling, the slowest at skating, the worst team at bowling. This was something I would think about a lot more, over the next few weeks, and months.
“How did you know?” I stuttered. He smiled and ordered drinks for the group.
“I have been waiting. Waiting for you to realise. We’ve all seen the way you watch him, have always watched him. I never knew why you let him slip through your fingers. No-one was more surprised than Jenny that you never made a move. I think that’s why she waited all this time, she’s been so worried about how you’d react. “
At their wedding, Jenny found me, and whispered into my ear on the edge of the dancefloor. As she walked away I turned and pulled Simon up, dragging him into the middle of the crowded floor. She was right, again. Only this time I was going to do something about it.

Lft
3.4.20


2020: Part 1 Pre C-19

This was not the blog I thought I’d be writing. To be honest, I’ve put off updating you because I felt in a kind of suspended animation. But there have been so many good events I’ve been involved with this year it doesn’t feel fair to let the current situation to take anything away from them. So, here’s a round up of January to mid-March 2020.
So, the year began cheerfully enough on 8th January with a gig at The People’s Museum, Manchester. I read some poems at Meet We Shall Overcome event organised by Matt Hill, featuring the WSO work of Pauline Townsend, and celebrating all the WSO volunteers around the country.
Saturday 11th January saw poets from World Jam reading from their anthology at Five Leaves Bookshop. We had poems shared in several languages, and Sherry performed some verses from Rumi, the Persian poet.
January 31st Refugee Roots Take Over at Sobar. This great event featured the ever fabulous, and talented Jude Winwood playing her kora, soothing, energising and relaxing all in one set. This was followed by Two Seda performing a great set, if I do say so myself. The evening was rounded off by the enigmatic Obi Rudo who had us up on our feet dancing. Check out his music page, or you might catch him busking near the Market Square if you are lucky.
22nd Feb was a house gig collecting donations of food and clothing for WSO where we heard from Joe Solo, the motivating heart of WSO, Pixie Styx, Paul Carbuncle, and many others, including myself. Several boxes of goods and a wedge of money donated to local causes.
Then came scary Thursday! I joined Leanne Moden on the sofa at Ey Up Notts! Live magazine programme on Notts TV. It was my tv debut! Well, apart from crowd scenes and vox pops… Oh and that film.. Anyhow, we were there promoting Women Say Stuff 5, which was organised by some of the women of DIY Poets. The event itself, on International Women’s Day was fabulous. Three hours of women saying their stuff in poetic or short story format. Always great to hear new voices, and familiar ones. The featured acts were Maresa MacKeith, Sara Awayes, and myself.
I also attended and performed at two book launches, Genevieve Carver’s at Scarthins Bookshop and Kevin Jackson’s Loves Burn launch at City Arts. Both great books that I highly recommend.
From mid March my diary changed to a series of crossings out, cancelled events, and life became very home-based. Some of that has changed now with On-line events and festivals – lots of exciting news about them to come in the next blog. For upcoming events, don’t forget to check out my gig listings.

2020 – here we go!

I know it’s virtually February and I haven’t told you all about the marvellous things that occurred in the rest of December, but I’ve just got back from a week away in the sun, after the 5 week horrid cold & cough bug that left me voiceless for 17 days. I know! I bet you are speechless too.

So, January. Lots happened, happening, about to happen. I’ve updated my events page with all the future dates that are inked in, and there is much to look forward to. However, one of my resolutions was to spend more time crafting my poetry and less gadding about. So, if you see a bit less of me sharing my individual poems out there, it’s because I’m busy scribbling here. With #DixieCatNottm on my knee. Also, Mina and I will be looking to do more Two Seda gigs, so do look out for us, or better yet – book us!

So that’s the plan. Fewer gigs, less chocolate, more gigs, more excercise, and more writing. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, and Two Seda will be at Sobar on Friar Lane this Friday, 31st Jan for the Refugee Roots take over. Good cake, good entertainments, good times, good excse to catch up. See you there before you go funking with Fat Digester?

That flew by!

Where is November’s blog you ask? A very good question. I have few excuses that would stand up to a good Paddington Bear Stare, so let’s go with I got so totally absorbed in accounts for my tax return that 17 days of December slipped by before I realised.

That said, I have been fairly busy. Now let’s see. We had been Hockley Hustled last time, so I need to tell you how marvellous Poetry Cocktail was over in Junkyard, South of the River. Gail Webb hosts this bi-annual event, and this time it was headlined marvellously by Leanne Moden and Sue Allen, both great Nottingham poets. Gail managed to encourage lots of open mic, including a couple of first timers. It’s always great to see new people getting up on stage and how supportive and encouraging poetry audiences are.

The end of October saw the launch of the latest NTU Anthology And, What Do They Call You? A fabulous collection I had the privilege of reading before it went to print. The authors tales, poems, and scripts all examine different aspects of Self. Well worth the read, and available from Five Leaves Bookshop now.

Aside from my new boiler – which although I think is very exciting, possibly less so for you, reader, the next most exciting thing at the start of November was But, I Know This City, organised by Excavate as part of the Being Human festival. 112 readers were in venues around Nottingham playing the part of Bryan, and treating audiences to intimate readings of BS Johnson’s unbound novel. We even had visits from BS Johnson’s immediate family.

November ended for me, after watching some great poetry at Derby Poetry Festival, organised by the lovely Trevor Wright and Jamie Thrasivoulou, with a visit to the Our Past, Our present, Our Future symposium, organised by the Unesco City Of Literature. A really useful event hearing from and networking with ‘ professionals from heritage, culture, the arts and education to hold a conversation about the challenges of reach, engagement and innovation. ‘

I’ll just leave you with a reminder that you can catch Mina and I performing dual-language poetry as Two Seda, as well as reading some Hafez, at Shab el Yalda, Winter Solstice event at Peggy’s Skylight on Saturday 21st December. Doors at 12, entertainment begins at 1pm, all ages welcome.