Saturday, 23 February 2013

A couple of things before I go...

I made this myself!
Yes, I'm off on my travels again! But meanwhile, I want to flag up a couple of groovy things:

1.
The Wirral Festival of Firsts Open Poetry Competition is now accepting entries with yours truly administrating the process. Proceeds are in aid of Claire House children's hospice and  the deadline is 1st June.

2
In the course of publicising it I came across Morgen Bailey's blog which offers an extraordinary range of useful stuff for writers including her writing competition calendar, lists of publications looking for submissions, literary events, writing tips and forums - highly recommended.

3
If you like your fiction short and fast, check out Smokelong Quarterly's 40-word stories competition  which closes 28 February. I enjoyed reading the entries (which are posted as comments on their blog) and added my own a day or two ago.

So where am I off to? Africa!  I'll be gone by the time you read this.

Not, sadly, a high-end safari in the parks of Tanzania, nor communing with Gorillas in the Rift, but an entry level foray to a beach resort in The Gambia.  I shall almost certainly be incommunicado for the next few weeks, but not necessarily...

Hello?  Can I order a crocodile sandwich - and make it snappy!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A mysterious package

Romance and mystery are in the air at the library where I work. Last Thursday - Valentine's Day - a gift bag was found on the returned fiction trolley with my name on it. I only work Mondays and Tuesdays so I didn't get it until yesterday.

Inside was a box of choccies and a poem. No name, no clue.

I have no idea who it is from! I assume they wrote the poem, and it's rather good, so that narrows it down somewhat, but I do know a LOT of poets! But some of the Borrowers could be secret poets!

If they copied the poem from somewhere, that opens it right up again. I am eyeing everyone who comes in with suspicious eyes, looking for sign. I have considered going through all the membership forms comparing handwriting or getting forensics to brush the paper for prints...

But at the same time I am quite enjoying not knowing!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A foot in both camps

For years the only two poetry books I owned were my dad's old 'Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse' and Palgrave's Golden Treasury. I still have them - look!

I can't remember a time when I didn't want to write. We are an erudite family and I learned early the rewards (laughter, approval) of saying something clever or funny.  But I've always vacillated from one end of the poetry (and fiction) spectrum:  'Henry, Who Chewed Bits of String...' to 'On the Tombs of Westminster Abbey' at the other and often find myself uncomfortable straddling the two.

Perhaps this is where creativity is found... in the awkward middle ground between the comic and curious, between documented history and imagined future, between madness and sanity, knowledge and mystery, confusion and certainty, conscious thought and dream state?

When I perform a poetry set, I mix it up, offering - I hope - something for every taste, varying the pace, and this seems to go down well. I'm currently trying to put a poetry collection together and it's proving tricky to pull off that blend on paper. People ask me whether I have a collection, whether they prefer the comic or the serious and I don't want to disappoint, so I'm ploughing on because I think at the end you have to be yourself.

What do you think? Does anyone else have this problem - is it even a problem?

Friday, 8 February 2013

The 70's called - they want their Noddy back

Noddy Holder, the famous cow top and me
After a lengthy hiatus, I seem to be back in circulation. For the last few months (years?) I have talked myself out of various soirees, forays, sorties and shindigs, but this week I have raised my head over the parapet that is my own settee, not once but twice!

Last night I was invited to the opening of Tate Liverpool's new 'Glam' exhibition*. In my 'what will I wear?' frenzy I discovered that my white, gold-studded 'Elvis' pants now fit me (they never have before!) but, in a nod to middle age, eschewed them for something more demur... my cow top. The arty types of Merseyside had gathered to peruse Bowie memorabilia, stroke their chins at images of androgyny and generally mingle under the lights of the glitter ball. It was great to see some poetry chums of yore (oh alright, of mine) but the highlight was meeting the very personable Noddy Holder of Slade! Groovy!

This was hot on the heals of a return to the Dead Good Poets Society open floor the previous night. I was prompted by seeing the lovely mini-documentary in last week's Guardian travel section about Marcel Theroux writing and performing his first poem at the Dead Goods - it made me miss going there, and the people involved. Having said that, my new poem about dancing in the library (replete with tongue twisters and many actions required) was a DISAAAAAASTER darlings!




*Careful of that Tate link by the way - one of the three scrolling pictures on the front page is full frontal male nude! I didn't know where to put my face.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

I call it 'research'

Fran has been writing in Being Me about looking up how to pick a lock (for plotting purposes!).

For the book I've just written I had to research how to vandalise a building site (scary but interesting), spells for bringing back the dead (and one for making them be dead again - which fyi are much harder to find) and the de-composure rate of corpses.  I have been building myself up to approaching a local undertaker and planning officer - and I don't know which one is the scarier prospect!

And this doesn't include all the stuff that you click on by accident ("...officer"). A friend of mine was looking doing some research about land contaminated with heavy metals. She was quite surprised to be faced with Slipknot and Black Sabbath.

I suppose we must all be keeping 'the authorities' busy - they must have us under surveillance by now. *whistles innocently*.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever found yourself Googling?