Tag Archives: Bohdan Piasecki

Verve Day 2 Friday 16th

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

Another incredible evening in Waterstones. I am as excited as ever seeing National poetry friends making their way to the city. It is going to be a great weekend! Although the flip-side of that is being invited to go and socialise when you were intending on staying for the whole night of Verve. I needed to be able to split myself into 4 versions of me this evening.

There will be time for food come Monday, for the next few days poetry is my breakfast, dinner and tea!

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I will share the link to the official blog once it is live, in the meantime here are some soundbites from me and harvested material from those in possession of better phones!

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Verve Team © 2018

Tonight started with Karen McCarthy Woolf, Sasha Dugdale and Mir Mahfuz Ali talking to Jo Bell and sharing poetry from their collections. A moving experience.

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

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Louise Palfreyman © 2018
louise palfreyman1Louise Palfreyman © 2018

hannah swings

Hannah Swings © 2018

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Louise Palfreyman © 2018

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Book signings.

sweet shop miller Verve Team © 2018

Tonight’s addition was a sweet shop! This is Nellie setting up.


Then after a short break/book signing came the Dead or Alive Slam produced by Bohdan Piasecki and hosted by Amerah Saleh.

Two poetic worlds will collide at Dead or Alive Slam at Verve, only the second time this format has ever been done. Witness a battle of words and wit as three of the UK’s leading contemporary slam poets challenge three dead poets in three epic slam rounds, judged by a panel of audience members. Who will be the victor?

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A preposterous, reason defying spoken word competition, pitting living poets against their dead predecessors, re-animated for this one night just for your entertainment. Watch Team Life, comprised of Genevieve Carver, Isiah Hull and Caroline Teague, take on Team Death, featuring Christina Rossetti, Forough Farrokhzad, and Djuna Barnes (brought to life by Tembi Xena, Lorna Nickson Brown, and Zeddie Lawal). Judges from the audience will determine who wins, assigning numerical values to poems in an entirely meaningless attempt to instill reason into an event challenging the order of things. 

In other words, this is your chance to hear poetry from six incredible poets, interpreted by brilliant performers, all in an exciting and accessible format, as part of the altogether brilliant Verve poetry festival. Do yourself a favour and do not miss this. 

The night will be hosted by the all-powerful Amerah Saleh.

– Events Page

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

DA cynthia Miller

Cynthia Miller © 2018

It was a fabulous concept and a great night… I cannot reveal who won yet, but I can tell you there was dancing.

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Verve Day 1 Thursday 15th Feb.

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WOW! What an amazing night that was. I was up until the early hours writing my first Verve Festival Blog posts, high on post-event adrenalin. I will share the links as soon as the posts go live. Until then enjoy these harvested clips and shots!

Poetry Parlour with Imtiaz Dharker and Hit the Ode Technology Special were superb< understatement!

Poetry Parlour with Imtiaz Dharker

Cynthia Miller Pat Edwards Cynthia Miller © Pat Edwards 2018

Imitiaz Dharker Jane Commane Pat EdwardsPat Edwards © 2018

Imtiaz Dharker in conversation with Jane Commane

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

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Hannah Swings © 2018


Hit the Ode Verve Technology Special

Our three featured poets for the Hit the Ode Tech Special – Tomomi Adachi, Yomi Sode & Hannah Silva – all use technology in their performances. These poets bend technology to their will, using it to inform, enhance and warp their words. They achieve what Tomomi Adachi describes as ‘an intermediary between poetry and music, and it doesn’t mean poetry plus music, its something in between.’ 

Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival © 2018

HTO Gaia Harper

Bohdan Piasecki Hosting HTO – Gaia Harper © 2018

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Tomomi Adachi pre-wearable tech. Verve Team © 2018

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Tomomi Adachi – Hannah Swings © 2018

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Hannah Silva & Tomomi Adachi -Bringing the magic. Hannah Swings © 2018

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Yomi Sode – Hannah Swings © 2018

And for those who missed it all, snippets from the amazing HTO! Enjoy!

I went home after nearly 5 hours at Waterstones with this ringing in my ears…

Verve Official Blogger Links to be shared soon.

#verve2018

 

Chapel Lates Cheltenham

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Chapel arts

I thoroughly enjoyed this event organised by Anna Saunders as part of Cheltenham Music Festival. I liked the idea of starting late, it certainly makes arriving on time easier!

Chapel Arts is an amazing renovated Baptist Chapel. The gallery space has been organised flexibly to allow for various events. chapel-arts-cheltenham-logo

Arriving early gave me a chance to have a good look around.

The space was set up perfectly for Poetry and complete with pews. The tables had fairy lights in vases, there was a bar and plenty of seating.

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There was a good number of people who turned up for this FREE night of poetic entertainment and I daresay for the Headliners: Tyler Keevil and Bohdan Piasecki. I know that Bohdan does not perform as often as anyone would like him too (although he performs internationally & at Festivals), when there is a rare chance to enjoy the man in action it causes quite a stir. Having missed his final Hit the Ode as MC for Apples & Snakes, it was good to catch up.

 

Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1Tyler Keevil started the evening. Tyler Keevil is a novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer from Vancouver, Canada.  He is the author of three award-winning books: FireballThe Drive, and Burrard Inlet.

I know that performing at Spoken Word events falls slightly outside of his comfort zone, but anyone not privy to this would never have guessed. It is hard reading lengthy extracts and flash fiction, I have tried it! It was a captivating set and I could have listened for longer. Check out his website in related links.

There were lots of booked Open Mic-ers, the standard was high (which did not surprise me having attended the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and other events in the town), I know this to be a place of talent. We all missed the memo about it being a music themed evening, had I been on later I may have changed my set. There is one poem in Fragile Houses that I rarely perform which is really about something other than music but is all about music above the sub-text.

However, I had timed my set and knowing there were a number of readers was hesitant to make changes. My final poem fitted the theme and once I realised that none of us had realised there was a theme, I felt better.

Other performers included: Annie Ellis, Belinda Rimmer, John G., Dan Cooper, Neil Richards, Peter McDade, James Cornish in the first half.

I took the photos on my camera until the batteries let me down and will add these when I have uploaded them.

Poems which have stayed with me include Annie’s Young Deer poem, Belinda’s poem about the news story teenage boys protest about No Shorts policy by wearing skirts*, John performed an incredibly moving poem about carers, ‘Bricks’, Dan was unique with a mix between song lyrics and styles ‘I Hate Sunday Nights’ was amusing and entertaining, Neil performed his Grenfell poem and delivered a powerful set, Peter’s translated vocabulary super model poem hit all the funny buttons – he likes playing with language and dialect/ accents, I also enjoyed his ‘Everything is a Festival in Cheltenham’ – made more amusing by the fact that we were part of the Music Festival organised by Anna who is the founder and Leader of the Poetry Festival. James

James Cornish

James completed the first half opening with the confession he had consumed an espresso, red wine and gin to calm his pre-performance nerves AND he still managed to get all the words out! I remember the lines… ‘It’s all gone a bit Spike Milligan… what are you going to do now? Aerobics?’ his work was suitably dark.

After the interval we heard a set from Willis the Poet (a.k.a Rick Sanders) followed by the next Headliner, Bohdan Piasecki.

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Rick Sanders/ Willis the Poet

I always enjoy Rick’s sets and delight in a new audience discovering the humour bound in his collection of notebooks. Especially his fake commissions, an idea I like to remember as being conceived at Wolverhampton Arts Festival in my very presence! His Cheltenham SPAR poem deserves a mention too.

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Bohdan’s set was incredibly moving and sparked lots of ideas that I needed to scribble into my notebook. He is a dynamic performer who plays with language and manages to stretch emotions. Nursing our hearts with his gentle humour between poems. Grounding us once more.

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Bohdan Piasecki

Bohdan Piasecki is a poet from Poland based in Birmingham. A committed performer, he has taken his poems to venues ranging from the upstairs room in an Eastbourne pub to the main stage of the Birmingham Rep, from an underground Tokyo club to a tramway in Paris, from a bookshop in Beijing to an airfield in Germany, from niche podcasts to BBC Radio 3 and 4. In the UK, he regularly features at the country’s most exciting spoken word nights, festivals, and readings. He enjoys the creative chaos of big field festivals just as much as the composed concentration of literary events.

He’s completed three international tours (with stops in over twenty countries and counting); working with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project to engage people living with dementia; devising and delivering Palimpsest City, an ACE-funded live/digital spoken word show; and writing for the Spalding Suite dance/theatre/basketball crossover show produced by Fuel.

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Bohdan founded the first poetry slam in Poland before moving to the UK to get a doctorate in poetry translation theory. He works as a Lead Tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective in London and Bellows Poetry Collective in Birmingham. Bohdan worked as Director of Education on the Spoken Word in Education MA course at Goldsmiths University, and since 2012 has been a regular Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. He also holds the post of Midlands Producer for Apples and Snakes, England’s leading spoken word organisation.

A busy man who has a lot of time for performers.

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Chris Hemmingway

The evening was concluded with a few more open mic-ers: Chris Hemmingway, Fran Smith, Jonny Precious, Rod Griffiths and finished with Chloe the Storyteller outside the chapel in the graveyard.

Fran Smith

Fran Smith

Chris performed his political Gove Cam poem, Fran is a healer and she treated us to some poetry spiritual in nature, Jonny performed a moving poem about a letter sent home from a soldier

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Jonny Precious

and Rod performed an amusing story about a serial killer. The punchline of which recently resurfaced in my head.

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Rod Griffiths

Chloe the Storyteller was dramatic, her story was spooky… chilling in fact, which set me up for the drive home alone!

Thanks, Anna for such a fantastic evening!

x anna

Anna Saunders


RELATED LINKS:

http://www.tylerkeevil.com/

http://www.thechapelarts.com/

* https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jun/22/teenage-boys-wear-skirts-to-school-protest-no-shorts-uniform-policy

More Poetry Events September Poets with Passion, PFL and Hit the Ode

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On Sunday 13th, I was back again at Café  1 birm ortin Birmingham, this time with Tessa Lowe and Poets With Passion. Once again it was lovely to reconnect with poets I hadn’t seen in a while and meet new people who love poetry. Tessa’s events are always relaxed and it was a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon.

Before I left she asked Chris Fewings and I if we would be interested in leading the group as one off sessions. Depending on the weather, I have agreed for 2016.

I cannot wait to pick a theme and find poems.

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Poetry for Lunch with Jan Watts at the P Café, Stirchley 17th

Last year you may remember that Jan Watts, former Birmingham Laureate, ran a series of weekly poetry events in the ‘bear pit’ at the Library of Birmingham. Due to funding cuts the library was unable to repeat this successful programme in 2015.

I was delighted when Jan decided to re-launch PFL at the P Café and gutted that I had work booked and couldn’t attend the first event a week before.

It was a great event, lots of poetry was shared and they are creating a Smorgasbord of poetry on the wall at P Café from PFL.

The P Café is an amazingly creative place with a fantastic menu of delicious food, drinks and treats. The truffles are to die for and the atmosphere of the place breeds instant relaxation and happy vibes. I only wish I lived a little nearer!

The best moment at PFL has to go to Elaine Christie –

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What are the chances of this happening – A fly landing on the page of my poem, when the next line I was about to read was – “Or lost in the flurry of flashing fireflies”

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Photography Elaine Christie © 2015

Hit the Ode with Bohdan Piasecki (Apples & Snakes), Birmingham 17th

It was a busy old day for poetry. In the evening Myfanwy Fox (thanks for the lift) and I were in Birmingham for Hit the Ode. They have 3 headliners – a local, national and international poet.

Leon Priestnall (who hosts HOWL) was headlining in the local slot and he was on fire for his set.

The National Poet was Jackie Hagan from Manchester and the International poet was Toni Stuart from South Africa.

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Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham.

Join us! We have poems. Poems you can spread on toast in the morning. Poems which sing embarrassing songs under the shower. Poems which will heal if you apply steady pressure. Good poems, Come and get them.

Featuring:

From Birmingham, Leon Priestnall
A stalwart of the Birmingham poetry Scene, Leon is a poet with a passionate performance style, betraying influecnes ranging from hip-hop artists to the Beats. Leon runs the popular Howl event series in Kings Heath, and has been a Hit the Ode supporter for years – we’re delighted to finally be able to offer him a full slot. He will be joined on stage by a special musical guest.

From Manchester, Jackie Hagan
Jackie Hagan was raised on broken biscuits, by hecklers, in a little town that’s now studied on the GCSE syllabus as a ‘failed social experiment’. She performs poetry and comedy, is a playwright for Graeae Theatre and runs Seymour Poets, a creativity project for isolated adults based at blueSCI Arts and Wellbeing centre in Manchester. Jackie is the winner of the 2015 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show for Some People Have Too Many Legs.

From South Africa, Toni Stuart
Toni Stuart is a poetry writer, performer and developer from Cape Town, South Africa. Her work uses poetry to interrogate a range of social issues such as the stories of place and displacement, HIV/Aids, and gender-based violence. She was named in the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 Inspiring Young South Africans for her work in co-founding I Am Somebody! – an NGO that uses storytelling and youth development to build integrated communities.

Bohdan Piasecki © 2015

The whole night was electrifying as always and I thoroughly enjoyed being back at HTO – (they take the summer off).

J. H © 2015

Hit the Ode – Jasmine Gardosi, Rose Condo, MiKo Berry & Spoz

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Last week I went to Hit The Ode, it was amazing! I promised you a blog post about it and here it is.

Thursday 19th February – Birmingham hit

It was an incredible night. This event is hosted by Bohdan Piasecki, but he was in Poland, so Spoz (a.k.a Giovanni Esposito) took over as the compere. He was a superb host and entertained us to a frenzy, Bohdan left us all in very capable hands. Spoz is a pro!

I love the fact that every guest they book is always (without exception) mindblowingly brilliant and you know you will always have a great night! I have discovered so many talented performers through this Apple & Snakes event.

The evening was superb! I wanted to support Jasmine Gardosi, a great talent and main feature, what made it more special was this had been her dream from the start, booked to headline Hit the Ode. A rare opportunity to see another headlining set from Jasmine, twice in a month – spoilt!

Although, I have to confess that I contacted them for an open mic slot too. I was looking forward to ranting out ‘Taxing’ – I did realise that I lost many of the younger audience, who perhaps not yet owning vehicles have not experienced the joy of updating paperwork and paying vast sums of money annually to be allowed to use the pot-holed roads of this fine Island! Fortunately the audience can range from pre-18 up to 60 (possibly +) so I was understood by a few and the end of the poem should raise a smile or laugh or too, it did, I even got my first click!

It was an amazing night, the open mic-ers rocked the stage with stonkingly good performances and the headliners… well… WOW – it has been months since I managed to get to Hit the Ode and every headliner drummed in how much I had missed it. hit 1

Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Join us! We have poems. Poems which scratch that one spot you can never reach on your own; poems whose volume knob was broken off last time you had a party; poems you had better not leave unattended, or they will be taken away and disposed off. Good poems. Come and get them!

jasmine Rose Condo

Featuring: From Birmingham, Jasmine Gardosi Jasmine Gardosi is a spoken word poet, Poets’ Place coordinator, part of the team behind Opus Club, and Birmingham Poet Laureate 2014/15 finalist. In other words, a pillar of the Brummie poetry community. Come and discover her complex, entertaining, often surreal poetry.

From Yorkshire, Rose Condo A Canadian based in West Yorkshire, Rose Condo is a prolific performance poet and the winner of Newcastle’s Slamalgamate (pictured)  – coming to Birmingham for the first time to claim the prize, a featured slot at our own Hit the Ode. rose condo1

From Edinburgh, MiKo Berry All the way from exotic Scotland comes MiKo Berry – the Scottish Poetry Slam Champion, European poetry slam finalist, founder of the renowned Loud Poets, his flair for combining the finest literary technique with stage savvy distinguish him as a poet and a performer.

Miko The Thin Book of Poems launch party at Woodland Creatures in Leith.

MiKo Berry The Thin Book of Poems-launch party- Woodland Creatures in Leith

I was lucky enough to talk to Rose Condo during the interval, we had a great chat about performing and writing poetry. Now I will think of her every time I look at my bathmat. Go and see her and you will see why, it has nothing to do with bathing, bathrooms or personal hygiene and more to do with place.

MiKo Berry blew everyone’s socks off (almost literally), one of the most exciting performers I have seen… and you know how many I have seen. Get yourself up to Scotland, Edinburgh and go and see him.

Jasmine Gardosi performed a touching set, performing material that was brand new and fresh and deeper than deep, alongside crowd pleasing favourites and clever poetry that played with metaphor, reality and rhythm!

Great – all highly recommended!

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And in the words of the headline poets, hot from social media press, (well lukewarm, as I am a week and a day late posting)!

Had a cracking night at Hit The Ode. Spoz was the host with the most! Open mic was ace. The place pumped with energy and what a thrill to share the mic with the amazing Jasmine Gardosi  and MiKo Berry. Holy high on poetry batman!

Rose Condo

So many awesome poems and lovely people. On the train home now but still smiling 🙂 Thanks everyone for a brilliant night!

Miko Berry

Still picking up brainy pieces of my mind which was blown from two ridiculous sets from Rose Condo and MiKo Berry  and a splurge of quality open mics from Brum’s finest. Great job Spoz and Bohdan.

Jasmine Gardosi

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Rose Condo, MiKo Berry, Spoz & Jasmine Gardosi at Hit The Ode, Birmingham 19.2.15

A whole week later and I am STILL buzzing, was a splendid night of poetry!

Poetry for Tea – Hit The Ode – Thursday 17th April

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Hit the Ode

The guest list this week was phenomenal – the event is run by Bodhan Piasecki, who works as the west Midlands Programme Co-ordinator for Apples & Snakes and is a lively. energetic and entertaining host. The formula is 6 open mic spots (usually pre-booked) and then 3 headliners – guest poets, a local, national and international act.

This month; hit 1

Hit the Ode is a spoken word poetry night which brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country, and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Each edition features three guest acts: one from the North West, one from elsewhere in the UK, and one international guest. 

We have poems. Poems which crunch when you bite into them; poems you’ve been meaning to call for ages; poems buzzing like wires strung between pylons.

Good poems. Come and get them.

FEATURING:

SHANE KOYCZAN
Winner of the US Slam Poetry Championship and the Canadian Spoken Word Olympics, Koyczan is truly an extraordinary talent that has blown the dust off of the designation “poet”. Engaging and authentic in attitude, Koyczan emerges in a new wave of 21st century poetry that dares to belong to the people and speak directly to them in their own voice.

JASMINE COORAY
Jasmine Ann Cooray is a poet and spoken word artist and workshop facilitator from London, of British and Sri Lankan heritage. She is known for vivid imagery, attention to detail and storytelling through personal experience. Jasmine has just returned from her stint as International Writer in Residence at The National University of Singapore.

JODI ANN BICKLEY
One of Brum’s best loved authors, poet and best-selling author of One Million Lovely Letters Jodi Ann Bickley returns to Hit the Ode for her very first full set. It’s high time: since her victory at the 2009 Roundhouse slam, Jodi has performed all over the UK, including festivals such as Bestival and Glastonbury. She was a speaker at TEDxBrum in 2013.

 

Many people wanted the open mic slots for the honour of performing in front of Shane. I asked back in March but was already too late. I was put on the reserve list. I hadn’t given this a thought all day. I got there in time to mingle and chat to poets I haven’t seen in a while and some that were at PFL as well, then took my seat (which was a bit of luck) I think there were 80 people there it was standing room only!

 

A Surprise Performance!

do415com open mic Bohdan came up and told me there had been a no-show and that he was giving the slot to me. I accepted eagerly and then went into shock! The event was about to start and I hadn’t prepared anything, fortunately in my hurry to leave for the train I had grabbed some extra poems, sorted my PFL poems out on the train, then resorted them at the library – when I arrived I had forgotten what it was I was going to perform!

I frantically looked through and chose 3 suitable poems.

All the open mics were brilliant and I think I was the only one with words on the stage – it made me feel better when all 3 headline acts (including Shane) used screens, books and prompt notes to read some of their sets from. They like me didn’t just stand there and read – it is a glance down for feeder lines performance.

I still like to take a new set to every show – 20+% of the audience has usually been to other events – there are some poems – much as I love them – that I have heard every month so far this year more or less, although this is the done thing professionally – of course it is – who wants to learn 100 poems! I go to so many events that on occasion I have already seen the main act elsewhere, they usually throw in 1 or 2 different poems but the rest of their 20 minutes is the same show. I like to mix it up and because of this still only know a couple by heart!

Despite having the paper (which if you remember I REALLY needed) inkspill open mind last time I was lucky enough to perform at Hit the Ode (back in Feb) I lost my focus and the already rehearsed and perfected poems slipped out of my head and I died on stage, had to jump off, empty my bag (literally tipped it upside down) and then jump back on the mic and perform from the page!

This time I performed well and lots of people spoke to me about my poems. One of which I wrote when I was 17. (It was published – I didn’t tell many people that!)

 

Main Acts

JODI ANN BICKLEY – was brilliant! I hadn’t realised it was her 1st long performance – it was fabulous, funny, heart wrenchingly truthful and we all wanted at least another 20 minutes, she informed us that we wouldn’t want to see her turn, which usually happens around the 4th poem, one to watch out for, she was great!

JASMINE COORAY – Owned the stage, composed and full of life’s experiences she wrote about her life, memories, people and brought them all to life on the stage in front of us. A stunning set and someone I could also have spent the whole night listening to. She was selling some hand-made pamphlets (between publications) and I regret that I didn’t have enough spare cash after the afternoon in Birmingham to buy one.

SHANE KOYCZAN – A M A Z I N G! And lacks ego – the crowd went wild and his 1st words were ‘I didn’t save anyone!’ A true heroes welcome, a true hero, but a humble man. He made me feel like we were right there alongside him, all equal – despite the standing ovation at the end and ENCORE, 2 things I have NEVER witnessed at a poetry night – including Hit the Ode! WOW! EVERYONE! Even the people lucky enough to have chairs! It was a powerful, energetic performance, full of raw emotion, life stories and some jokes about numbers that we will never forget! If there were any men preparing best man speeches in the room then Shane set would be a dream! It is beyond words really! Incredible. Loved it! Go on, go…. You Tube!

 

Post Gig

After the gig I was able to talk to people again and I went to meet Shane who performed an amazingly, open, emotive, energetic set, how he remembers all his words I don’t know. He signed my every-writer-should-have-one-handbag-notebook, which is currently fairly empty as I have just finished the one I used when this poetry mission started, last October. I have a lovely message now to inspire me every time I open the book.  beach

After an adrenalin packed day I headed home by train and car and resisted the temptation to stay up all night and dance around in happy circles! (Although my performance photos are not something I enjoy looking at or sharing at the moment, I think ZUMBA might be the best post-gig adrenaline plan!)

 

LINKS

Shane Koyczan  (language content)

Jasmine Cooray

Jodi Ann Bickley

Hit The Ode (20/3/14)

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hit 1 Hit the Ode – was a superb night, as always. We were treated to a night of BSL – British Sign Language and it added something special to everyone’s performances.
The women who did the spontaneous signing were incredible.
I went to support Andrea Shorrick or Swingerella as she has become known. Her set was a real treat – very rude and almost at the end of the end of the night, she was the final open mic slot with a very special Sat Nav!
The rest I leave to the words of Bohdan Piasecki, as he says it best;

Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham.

Featuring From Wolverhampton Martin Glynn has gained a national and international reputation for his commissioned work in theatre, radio drama, live performance and poetry, as well as pursuing an active career as a screenplay writer. Martin has worked with Education and Arts establishments in North America, The Caribbean, Europe, and extensively in the UK, developing literature initiatives, producing and directing performances. His most recent poetry collections include Ancestral Whispers (Triangle Press – 1993) and Griot Excursion (Shomari Productions – 1995), and poems published in anthologies including Unzip your lips (Macmillan – 1998) and Dear Future (Macmillan – 1999).

 

From Bristol Donna Williams is a British Sign Language poet based near Bristol, keen on exploring the interplay between spoken / BSL poetry in search of a ‘perfect balance’ where sign language poems are understood and enjoyed by all, irrespective of previous knowledge of sign language. Her ambition is to create beautiful poetry that everyone can access. Donna is a contributing editor for the Limping Chicken, a successful deaf webzine; she has written short plays for Deafinitely Theatre; and her poetry has appeared in anthologies, notably ‘When The Dead Are Cured’ for Deaf Lit Extravaganza, edited by John Lee Clark.

 

From Scotland Rachel McCrum is an award winning poet and performer who has been living and performing in Edinburgh since 2010. She is a poet, performer and promoter of spoken word, a member of Inky Fingers collective and one half of the Rally & Broad literary cabaret. She was a finalist in the 2012 BBC Edinburgh Festival Slam and winner of the International Woman’s Day Slam. In the past year, she has shared stages with Liz Lochead, Phil Jupitus, Carol Ann Duffy, Josie Long and Caroline Bird. Her first pamphlet ‘The Glassblower Dances’ won the 2013 Callum MacDonald Award from the National Library of Scotland. She has recently spent two weeks as the Michael Marks Poet in Residence at the Harvard Centre for Hellenic Studies in Greece.

 

© 2014 Hit the Ode

 
The open mic slots were all incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed the headliners. It was amazing to watch Donna Williams perform both spoken word with BSL and BSL poems that her interpreter spoke, very moving performance. Captivating.
hit 3Hit donna
Martin Glynn was thought provoking – I loved his jazz poems and his Mature Cheddar Cheese poem! He has been off the circuit for a while and we made him feel right at home!
Good to see him back – I was a baby the first time and missed his career completely!
© 2014 Hit the Ode © 2014 Hit the Ode
Hit Martin
© 2014 Hit the Ode © 2014 Hit the Ode
Rachel McCrum – I love her surname was a real treat! And she managed to follow Swingerella! I bought her poetry pamphlet ‘The Glassblower Dances’ with the last of my money and she was sweet enough to check I had enough money to get home!
A great set. Hit Rachael

My Poetry Day Thursday 20th February

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Today started with Poetry for Lunch, the wonderful lunchtime feast of words, organised by Jan Watts every week. I was at the first few, including the launch on January 9th and now I have to work Thursdays and can only make the school holiday dates… so my next Poetry For Lunch won’t be until Easter – at least it may have stopped raining by then! lit7

Today was ‘suitable for children’ as we hoped lots would be around the library – I took public transport into the city and wrote my poem on the way in!

A lovely children’s poem about Baby Owls.

It was sunny all morning and still blue skies as I walked to the library in my winter coat…. no sooner had I got ready to perform than the heavens opened and I had to put my coat back on – I was worried about my hair going frizzy before the evening performance.

It was lovely to see Jan again and I had fun, even though there was only time to perform one poem this week.

William Gallagher has also been trying to make one of these performances and today he had a meeting at the library and was able to stay and watch the performances. great to speak to him after and catch up briefly.

imagesCA11997Y I was then lucky enough to spend the entire afternoon with new(ish) poetry friends. I feel a little bad, as I was mostly a bag of nerves (as I had attempted to learn my poems off by heart and was thinking about the performance, not drinking, attached to the time, fanatical about checking the time, panicking about being late etc. etc.)

It was good to sit and chat – so often all that is confined to the interval!

This evening I took the biggest leap in performance terms and learnt a lot at my first ever Hit the Ode event! hit 1

My attempt to perform from memory went wrong and the words I had practised and managed for the past 24 hours, fell out of my head, flustered I came off stage to grab my paper and read the poems…. I completely messed up, I was mortified and have never felt so bad about a performance, not since I was a child… but I was able to save the set – and got positive feedback on the poems and my recovery.

Fortunately (for me) it is no longer the vogue to perform from heart and many headline acts still read – or at least have the text in front of them somewhere to use. I knew I should have used my hands as prompts… a few ink reminders.

It was also lovely to see Julie Boden again and meet Ann Porro and Paula Varjack, they each lit up the night with fabulous headline sets!

I bought Ann Porro’s book, with free doggy! Mingled and chatted after the great night and then headed home – or to the bus stop at least – having bought my return ticket.

I had 15 minutes, I got to the stop – double checked timetable I had already checked earlier and there in the FAINTEST print it had a little 1 and the footnote FRIDAY only *(in reference to the last bus home 11:20pm which I guess has been cut because there is never anyone on it until the weekend!)

I had to run to the train station and make a snap decision on the platform – the train went to 2 different stations near (a taxi) home…. I chose the 1st one, thinking there was more likelihood of taxis or a rank. There were neither. I walked to a local hotel and asked them to phone me a taxi – by now the battery in my phone is dead – because I have also spent some time on the phone with estate agents and they may have sold my house. (A week after we went in and kicked up a fuss, funnily enough!)

The taxi was called – someone else jumped into it – the firm was called again – eventually half an hour after we called – the place I was is small enough to drive end to end in 10 minutes my taxi appeared, then I was charged more than the suggested fee as it was after midnight – I wanted to argue against this but I was too tired and just wanted to get in at the time! And it wasn’t a massive amount compared to the total expense of the day – it is NOT cheaper than driving and parking and tomorrow’s gig I will be driving to. Tomorrow is actually later on today and I still have to write the poems for the event!

Lessons I learnt today; imagesCAH8TZHF
1) Drive to ALL gigs
2) Read my poetry – I am not yet ready to perform from heart
3) DON’T tell taxi drivers you have had a drink they will charge more!!
4) I am overweight but when a wonderful poet performs a set about Nutella – I will inevitably end up eating it on toast
5) Nutella is a bit messy for typing!
6) Read …the small print on bus timetables that state in a tiny faded 1 – only on Fridays!
7) Buy single tickets – the likelihood is you will not return (at least not the same way)
8) I need help!
9) The journey is part of the adventure…
10) That none of the above matters when you have had a fantastic day out with great people! inkspill gal at desk

Desk Day – Writing Poetry, Learning Poems and Calming Butterflies!

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I have spent time today learning my set for tomorrow night. No new material being written for my first set at Hit The Ode, but all of it to be performed by heart. Watching the YouTube videos I see a range of styles and some people taking printed word onto the stage (as is the norm for most spoken word/ open mic nights) – they are all poems I have performed before in Cheltenham and Worcester. I have in the past 5 months of performing attempted different material at each event, aware that the poetry world is a small one and the audience is often shared.

However, if I am going to hone and polish my performance this would be a very tall order every time. Besides I have come to realise that some people like to hear material being repeated.

I have learnt half my set, the other half I am a little shaky on – sounds impressive in a morning – but it is only 3 poems long!

I am spending a lot of time addressing the butterflies in my tummy and working through household chores by way of avoiding the reality of my day before the big one.

Hit the Ode is a major event, international acts are booked each month and Julie Boden is one of the big names on stage tomorrow. Which is great because she inspires me, but I also know she is watching…. it was her night in Leamington, last October when I picked up the mic again after 15 years away from spoken word events. 17 weeks later she will hear how I have been getting on as well as tales of unconditional commitment, cakes and the Tube!

In addition to all this preparation, I am also attempting to write new material for the Poetry for Lunch event which (being half term) need to be child friendly or child centred!

I am leaving Friday poetry until Friday – a little risky but Najma now has 15 performers so we only get a 5 minute slot, that’s 2 poems possibly 3 and I already have The Fourth Wall to perform.

hit 1 Hit the Ode is a night many ‘proper poets’ (published, successful, no ‘day job’ poets) have been loudly encouraging me to go and do! I am hoping that the audience is a kind one and that I have prepared a wide enough range of poems to suit the tastes of many….

 

 

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Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Join us! We have poems. Poems which vibrate when they have a message for you. Poems with cheese and gravy. Poems which may be slightly uncomfortable, but make you look great. Good poems. Come and get them!
Featuring Julie Boden.
A former teacher, and Creative Advisor, Julie Boden has for the last ten years worked full time as a poet. She is Midlands based and travels nationally and internationally delivering workshops, conducting readings, performing, lecturing and judging poetry competitions. Julie is a Birmingham Poet Laureate (2002-2003), Director of Poetry Central, Poet in Residence at Symphony Hall, a Director of Warwick Words festival.
Based in the Midlands, Julie travels nationally and internationally delivering workshops, conducting readings, performing, lecturing, mentoring and judging poetry competitions.
Ann Porro
Ann Porro writes deadly serious comic poetry, blues monologues and oblique observations on the outlandish nature of ordinary existence. She is Tyneside Cinema’s Open Slam Champion 2011, SLAMalgamate 2014 winner, and regularly performs at venues all over the North-East. Her first collection, ‘Letter From an Unknown Dog’, was released by Zebra Publishing in May 2013. “From the real to the surreal in the turn of a page!” Live Theatre Newcastle “Her poetry, like the public performances of her work is energising, sometimes humorous and always entertaining.” Jeff Price, Editor, Zebra Publishing
Paula Varjack
With her Berlin postcode, Ghanaian mother, British Father and dual nationality (British/American), it’s probably easiest to say Paula is from a lot of places, but particularly London, Washington Dc and Berlin. Trained as a filmmaker in London, she ran away from her career in television, to pursue documentary filmmaking in Berlin. Within months she emerged as a performance poet (she’s not quite sure how it happened either) She is as likely to perform at a gallery or cabaret night, as at a poetry slam. 

and… me! 🙂