What a performance…

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for some time about me branching out into performance poetry, but never quite got round to it… largely because I’m losing what little free time I have due to… you know… being out, performing!

I reached a point with blogging my poems where I wanted to test them in front of live audiences. There is a vibrant open mic/performance poetry scene in my home town of Nottingham, and I decided during the Nottingham Poetry Festival back in April that I would use an opportunity at a library reading to take the plunge myself.

I’m not an extrovert.

I’m not a naturally confident performer.

I’m not someone who seeks the limelight, in any shape or form.

But you have to test yourself to know yourself, right… So I tested myself. In my local library, in front of thirty or so mostly elderly people, I read a poem, “Memory”, that I had written especially for performing. It didn’t even rhyme, which is a big thing for me! The reading went well. Really well. The host, Henry Normal, complimented me (I’m a huge Henry Normal fan… this was dream territory for me…) Old ladies came up to me afterwards congratulating me on my poem, saying that they connected with it…

Well, I was hooked!

I pressganged a Babbity friend into attending an open mic with me, for some much-needed moral support… (In fairness, he had suggested, probably a year ago, that we give performing a go… but you know that thing with your kids where you have to plant the seed of an idea, then let them go away and think it’s their own?… yeah, that!)

Next, there was an opportunity to head across to Walsall for the launch of Diverse Verse 2 (reminder – submissions for DV3 are still very much sought ), and for me to meet up in person with a poet blogger – Richard Archer – whose work I’d always enjoyed. For me, it allowed me to build up my confidence on “foreign soil”, where no one could report back to Nottingham how nervous or awful I was! Well, maybe not awful, but definitely nervous. But again, it went well, and everyone was so welcoming and warm it helped set me at ease.

This Walsall reading was a little different. The open mics tend to be a two-poem affair. The Walsall reading gave five minutes per performer… for someone who writes mostly short poems, this gave me some extra opportunity. Five minutes… that’s all...

…any guesses how long I spent preparing for that 5-minute slot?

It was easily an hour… seriously!

I picked a batch of poems I thought would work well together, then practised them in my bedroom, recording myself on my cameraphone, to see how it worked, and to check it went to time.

Yeah, I have problems…

But I was nervous, and needed to go through this to have the confidence that when I got there I knew what I was doing, and could relax a little and maybe even enjoy it.

(I don’t need to do this any more, not to this extent anyway, but I do still like to be prepared…)

I joined an amazing local poetry collective, called DIY Poets. To do them justice, I’d need to write a separate post, but suffice to say it is a group who have been bitten by the same performing bug, and encourage others to join in to share their words. I’m no longer a lone wolf…

There is a monthly open mic night in Nottingham called Cross Words, run by the lovely Leanne Moden (she’s written better poems, but I – predictably – love this one! ). Now, this open mic is truly something special. Moulded around Moden’s personality, this is as warm and kind and talented a crowd as you will ever get. Everyone gets the same opportunity, with a featured headline poet to top the night off, and best of all, it takes place in a freaking cave! An honest to goodness cave, with performers standing beside the well… Well, I’m in love. This is the open mic of choice for me. There are others that I have yet to check out in Nottingham – and I will do in good time – but unless any of those are also set inside a freaking cave, then I know which will remain my favourite!

After attending a couple of these, getting a feel for things, and enjoying some amazing poetry and performances, I realised that I wanted to truly test myself. All of these crowds will give any poet a warm welcome, and a congratulatory round of applause… I could play it safe, and read some emotional, or descriptive, or romantic, poetry, and be guaranteed the same reaction.

Clap clap clap, thanks for coming. This isn’t to diminish anyone who performs, not at all, but the nature and quality of the audience ensures a polite reaction…

But I didn’t want a polite reaction.

I wanted to make them laugh.

to be continued… tune in next time for actual footage of me performing!

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Man In A Cave… a freaking cave!

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Are you a poet looking to get published?

My friend in poetry, Richard Archer, is compiling a collection of poetry for charity – Diverse Verse 3. I contributed to the book 2, and will be rustling up something for book 3 too – it would be great if you could join me!

Here’s how you can get involved and see your poem in print

All you need to do to be involved is to email a poem to the email address below and it will be considered for the book based on the following rules. Please note entry is free.

  • All poems must be the authors own work, please don’t submit something that isn’t yours.
  • Poems are welcome from anyone, anywhere in the world.
  • Please submit no more than one poem.
  • A submitted poem must be in arial font in a format free word document. If you are unable to do such then just paste your poem into the body of your email.
  • Poems on any subject and theme are welcome, however sexually explicit poetry and poems with extreme bad language will not be considered.
  • Poems should be no longer than 400 words approx.
  • Previously published poems can be submitted as long as the writer holds the copyright.
  • When submitting poems please include your full name for inclusion in the book’s contents, an alias is acceptable.
  • Email your poems to Diverseverse@aol.co.uk
  • The book will be published via Lulu the online publishers.
  • Closing date for submissions is 31st December 2017.
  • Anyone who is in the book will be notified after submissions close.
  • Poems that do not conform to the guidelines will be rejected automatically.
  • The copyright of any poem selected remains with the author.
  • Richard hopes to have the book out in 2018 by the spring at the latest; money raised from sales of the collection will go to Cancer Research UK.

Further details and links to the previous books can be found here

Happy writing!

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This was me reading at the launch of Diverse Verse 2… just realised how often I wear this t-shirt to open mics!

 

Halloween HORROR!

Happy Halloween everyone! The poem below carries a huge health warning…once read, it cannot be unread. The images it will leave you with cannot be wiped (a score of witnesses will testify to this)… If you are easily offended, or have any ounce of self-respect, taste or decency, DO NOT READ ON! You have been warned!

It started as a joke
Then grew into a dare
It *may* have been the alcohol
When I agreed to wear
the mankini

Now, for those who do not know,
A mankini’s quite the thing
(Picture me in a posing pouch
Pulled up tight with bright green string)

My abs are long since absent
The six pack’s more a barrel
And without getting into fat shaming
There’s too much padding in this saddle

the mankini
…It barely hides my wedding tackle
But bares the rest for all
All this hairy flesh, all this…
And an unmanly spread of balls

You see, I’ll never be a swordsman
No Don Juan legendary lover.
If your body’s a lethal weapon,
I’m more like Danny Glover.

But a dare’s a dare and that’s that
You’ve got to live by a code.
Well, you’ve got to tell yourself something
When your ass cheeks are on show…

So, a distinctive Halloween outfit…
But it’s not easy trick or treating
On a cold, dark night in autumn
With cock and balls retreating!

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I Met Her In A Graveyard

This is the second in what will inevitably form a Halloween trilogy, concluding tomorrow… I am going to perform these poems, with others, at my first ever poetry performance (excluding open mics) this weekend. Wish me luck!

I met her in a graveyard
On a dark and stormy night.
Wrapped in blackest midnight
She was something of a sight.

Her skin was pale as moonlight.
She’d dark circles round her eyes.
Her countenance was serious :
Quite incapable of surprise.

Her long black skirt hid her feet,
She seemed to glide across the ground.
Made no mark upon the floor,
Moved without a sound.

She made a beeline for me,
As I was drawn to her.
Mesmerised by each other,
Quite forgetting who we were.

Neither dared to touch the other,
To break this moonlit spell.
This eeriest enchantment
That makes two hearts compel.

Standing, still not touching,
We danced upon the mist,
The tangled trail of eddies,
The only evidence of our tryst.

Our bodies now moved closer,
I moved in for a kiss…

But I fell and passed right through her
Denied that mortal bliss.

For though I was but the ghost
In a delicious irony
I fell so hard in love with her
It’s her that haunted
Me

So if you’re sat there lonely now
Sad, and praying for a date
Remember well this poem’s words:
It’s never too late
It’s never too late

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ZombieLife

I was born a bonny zombie baby
It’s the only life I’ve known
But years and moons have passed since then
How I’ve zombie-grown!

Growing up sure ain’t easy
Juicy brains don’t come for free
And there’s no chance those screaming humans
Will ever let me be!

See, I’ve never craved attention
I just want an axe-free life
Somewhere peaceful in the country
Where I can find a loving, kind, decaying wife

I never knew my zombie father
Spent no childhood catching ball
No mother there to catch me
When rotting limbs would fall

And I don’t know if you’ve noticed
But zombie role models are lacking
We’re just used in films to show off
The hero’s muscles as they’re hacking

And don’t you see the irony
In claiming we love brains
Then trying to bash our heads in.
It’s prejudice ingrained!

I don’t wanna fight you.
Set aside your sword.
Quit swinging that bloody baseball bat.
Let’s sit, and have a word.

I know my tongue’s necrotic
But there’s a message ‘neath my growling
If only you would listen, really listen,
We could end this midnight prowling

Our demands are very few:
Just leave us all alone,
In basements, malls or graveyards,
Where we can rot and roam.

We’re the next step in evolution:
These are Darwinian growing pains.
We don’t want to harm you

We just want to eat your brains!

 

Z

 

The Wheel Moves On…

Hi, it’s been a while… everyone good? … The last time I was on here, I was encouraging you to submit poems for a charity anthology, Diverse Verse, organised by Richard aka https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/ . Well, I took my own advice, and am now officially a published poet!

Richard invited me along to the launch on Saturday, so I caught the train over to Walsall to join him and a number of friendly, local poets for only my third ever open mic poetry reading… you wouldn’t believe how much preparation I put into a six-minute open mic slot! I’m planning a post on this in the near future. For now, check out Richard’s report on the launch here, and please support the book if you are able: diverse-verse-2-is-launched It was wonderful to finally meet Richard in person – he was exactly as I expected, although taller! He is the first blogger I’ve had the pleasure of meeting offline. Hopefully not the last 🙂

For those kind enough to have asked, I haven’t gone away completely, although it’s fair to say I’ve lost my love for blogging for a host of reasons, not all of which I want to share. I’m still writing, now performing too (!), and intend to be back here with the odd tidbit now and again. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find the “moderation in all things” approach that everyone keeps talking about!

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The poet in full-on “action mode”

Banish the Blues – Get Yourself Published!

My friend Richard is putting together a poetry book to raise money for charity, and is putting out a last call for contributions! Entry is completely free. So #banishtheblues , dust off a couple of poems, contribute to a good cause, AND be able to state that you are now published. You can’t go wrong!

(I’ve also submitted a couple of mine, so we could be book-buddies! 🙂 )

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/new-poetry-collection-seeks-poets/

I’ve copied below the key rules:

1. All poems must be the author’s own work, please don’t submit something that isn’t yours.

2. Poems are welcome from anyone, anywhere in the world.

3. Please submit no more than two poems

4. Submitted poems must be in arial font in a format free word document. If you are unable to do such then just paste the poems into the body of your email.

5. Poems on any subject and theme are welcome, however sexually explicit poetry and poems with extreme bad language will not be considered.

6. Poems should be no longer than 400 words approx.

7. Previously published poems can be submitted as long as the writer holds the copyright.

8. When submitting poems please include your full name for inclusion in the book’s contents.

9. Email your poems to Diverseverse@aol.co.uk

10. If I receive more poems than I can fit in a reasonably sized book then I shall do one of two things. Firstly I shall endeavour to put at least one of each contributors poems in the book, failing that if there are too many poems I will select my favourites and publish those.

11. The book will be published via Lulu the online publishers.

12. Closing date for submissions is 31 January 2017

alistairlanewrites

A gratuitous bribe

One way to win people over is with the power of your words… another way is bribery… another bit of January fun to #banishtheblues !

Oopsy me, how careless
I don’t know what to say
You said there was no charge…
But I thought I had to pay

So here’s some rhyming chocolate
A piece of poem pie
Left down on a table
With a winking of my eye

And just in case you do not love
Those words what I have wrote
You’ll find beneath this poem
A crisp new ten pound note

 

🙂

 

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Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/dysanovic/197527093

 

 

alistairlanewrites

Sleep In Beauty

One way to #banishtheblues is through humour. There are other ways…

My beauty, my love, my heart’s desire,
Curls up beside me, in front of the fire
Sleeping so soundly, peaceful, serene,
Enjoying the deepest and softest of dreams.

I snuggle in behind her, cuddle her tight,
Whisper so gently, what I’d do tonight,
If only she’d wake and kiss me right here
Imagine the sounds those ears would hear…

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Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/cuppini/622856689

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