I’m gearing up to lead a series of poetry and creative writing workshops in Highbridge and Burnham-on-Sea for super brilliant Somerset-based arts charity Take Art (http://www.takeart.org/) who I have had the pleasure to work for before. The workshop are running through July and August and are going to be going on in Schools, Youth Groups and Community Centres around the two towns. Some workshops are open access so anyone in the area should contact Take Art for further info!
I’m performing at Glastonbury this weekend on the Poetry & Words stage. I’m very nervous and super excited. This beautiful write-up from fellow poet and official Glastonbury blogger Deanna Rodger has made me feel a bit less nervous though!..
‘Sally Jenkinson –
Oh yes! This post may just be my favourite to write!!! I LOVE this woman, I love her face her hugs her chatter her laugh and most importantly her words. Subtle and gentle, she lifts you through her poems of complicated feeling as if you are silk in a late summer breeze, and as if that wasn’t enough she has the most endearing stage chatter. Get your hugs ready! See her on stage on Friday at 13.40 and Saturday at 12.25′
I called this blog post ‘Home and Away’ because I’m home, techinically, home, as in, back in Bristol, but I’m away a lot with gigs and stuff at the moment. So I’m home and away. Also, I’ve just got back from Australia, where the TV show Home and Away was set. It’s funny, see?
I was in Australia for three months, touring our show ‘Folly’ at The Adelaide Fringe with my co-conspirator, troubadour and original South Australian babe Nuala Honan. We had a little home scattered with props-in-the-making and promotional paper aeroplanes and flyers and avocadoes and an army of ants and, I’ll be honest, makeup and dirty dresses and rinsed-out swimwear and bobby pins. We sweated, toiled, chatted-up, blagged and drove for miles to makes gigs happen in Adelaide and Melbourne. We nearly melted. We dipped in and out of the sea like it ain’t no thing. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the skills, kindness, hard work and generosity of Iggy, Marg and Liam Honan, Mark Fitzgerald, Chris May, Sim and George and The Grace Emily Hotel staff, Leigh and The Deli staff, the choas and delight and welcoming that is the Melbourne poetry scene, the brilliant and hardworking and SO friendly Adelaide Fringe, and Arts Council England and The British Council who gave us an Artist’s International Development Grant. Then we were home in England and it was rainy mid-March, and it felt like we might have dreamt the whole thing. But we DIDN’T, we DID IT, and we are better and braver and more consumate performers and artist for the experience. What a wonderful experience.
I wasn’t sure what projects would present themselves once I poked my head out of the jet-lag duvet, but there are exciting things afoot for the summer… The programme for the Wandering Word stage which I help to programme at Boomtown and Shambala festival is shaping up to be as beautiful, original and treat-spangled line-up of poetry and music as you could wish to see on one stage. We can’t wait for August!
I’m booked to perform at WOMAD and Glastonbury festival which I’m SO excited about. I’m also going to be working with a brilliant and innovative project in MEXBOROUGH (an ex-mining town in South Yorkshire, really near where I grew up) which is going to combine Mexborough’s history as a centre for potteries with some amazing contemporary potters / clay scupltures who live and work there now, and the stories and tales that we can pursuade the good people of Mexborough to tell us about their lives and history! I am going to be a sort of poet-in-residence, producing work based on all of these things. Its going to be so wonderful to write about somewhere so close to my childhood and learn all these new (but old, but new) stories and mould some fresh new work out of them all. I’m so proud and pleased to be involved. More on that soon! There’s a little info about it here http://rightupourstreet.org.uk/blogs/blog/mexpac-making-unpacking-potted-history
The month of May is going to be really full, which feels like I’m officially back to real life and work. I’ve been working really hard to set up TWO May editions of the variety / cabaret-type mixed arts night that I run with some friends at The Attic in Bristol, Phantom Laundry.
The first edition is on thurs May 15th and features a brilliant, multi-genre, collaborative bunch of wonderful bands and musician called High Cross Society. Their stuff is truly joyful and original, and they will be supported by beautiful poets Rebecca Tantony and Toby Thompson, with DJ Dad leading us all to the dancefloor afterwards like some kind of silver-haired, killer-records-wielding Pied Piper.
The second edition of Phantom Laundry is on May 29th and features (oh my goodness) living legend Ian McMillan (BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, Coast, You & Yours, Pick of the Week), who is obviously a bit famous because of his TV and Radio appearances, but is more importantly a brilliant and original poet and a wonderful performer and raconteur. I grew up with his poems (he is from Barnsley, just down the road from Doncaster) and he is a hero of mine, so I’m so proud and excited to be hosting him at Phantom Laundry.
And even before those two events which I’m curating, I’m going on a little mini-tour for Hammer & Tongue next week. Hammer & Tongue have events country-wide, and they also are great because they have an open slam system which feeds into a bigger national slam in London once a year, so its a really great way of uncovering new, brilliant poets and sharing them with the nation! I did a set at Hammer & Tongue Bristol this evening, and the depth and contrast of the slammers was sooooo brilliant. I love hearing new poets and poems, its so exciting! Next week I’ll be in Camden at The Green Note Cafe on Monday, in Oxford at The Old Fire Station on tuesday, and Cambridge at The Fountain on wednesday, then thursday back to Bristol for Phantom Laundry at The Attic! Woah, busy week!
So that’s it, unfortunately no longer basking in the South Australian sun, no longer gallavanting around being an international artist on the other side of the world. But one adventure finished to make room for more to begin and, perhaps if I approach May as an ‘adventure’ rather than thebusiestmonthever, then I’ll be less frazzled by the end of it! Adventures. Planes, trains and megabuses. Exciting.
I’ve done some of these already cos I forgot to finish this list earlier. Still…
-16th March. Poetry Puplit @ The Left Bank, Bristol. FREE
-27th March. Hatfield Open Mic @ Hatfields Pub, Doncaster. FREE. (I’m doing a featured slot and its the town I grew up in and I’m very excited about it)
-30th March. Sunday Circus @ All Hallows Hall, Easton, Bristol. FREE. 12noon with Alice Phelps and Katy Storer.
-10th April. Pen:chant @ 3 Minute Theatre, Manchester. £5. With Ben Mellor, Leonie Higgins, Liz Greenfield and Alabaster DePlume (who are all BRILLIANT)
-12th April. Davefest @ The Lower Lode Inn, near Tewksbury
-Saturday 19th April @ The Alma Tavern Theatre, Bristol. Supporting Raphael Attar’s ‘World’s Greatest Everything’ Details here
-Sunday 27th April. Vanessa Kissuule’s Book Launch (exciting!) @ Lashings Coffee House, Gloucester Road, Bristol. Details here
-Monday 5th May. Still Jam extravaganza @ All Hallow’s Hall, Easton, Bristol. Details TBC but its gonna be beautiful.
-Wednesday 7th May. Hammer & Tongue Bristol @ The Bird Cage, Bristol
-Monday 12th May. Hammer & Tongue Camden @ The Green Note Cafe, London
-Tuesday 13th May. Hammer & Tongue Oxford @ The Old Fire Station, Oxford
-Wedneday 14th May. Hammer & Tongue Cambridge @ The Fountain, 12 Regent Street, Cambridge
-Thursday 15th May. Phantom Laundry presents… High Cross Society, Toby Thompson, Rebecca Tantony and Silver Tortoise, DJ Dad. (I’m hosting). Details here.
-Thurday 29th May. Phantom Laundry presents… Ian McMillan (yes you read that right, IAN MCMILLAN), Anna Freeman and Lori Campbell. I’m hosting. And maybe saying some poems. Tickets HERE (get ‘em quick).
-Friday / Saturday 27th / 28th June. Glastonbury Festival (meep!), Poetry & Words Stage.
-Saturday/Sunday 26th / 27th July. Womad Festival.
I’m gathering these reviews all in one place, place partly for posterity and partly so I can link to them all at once. We’re half way through our fringe run, so if you’re an Adelaidian make sure to catch Folly at one of the following dates, before we have to fly back to rainy old England!
Wed 26th February – Grace Emily Hotel (8pm)
Thurs 27th February – The Deli (9pm)
Sat 1st March – The Deli (9pm)
Sun 2nd March – The Deli (9pm)
Tues 4th March – Grace Emily Hotel (8pm)
Here’s what the rags said…
RIP IT UP MAGAZINE
‘In this hour-long prose poem set to music, English poet Sally Jenkinson and Australian guitarist Nuala Honan combine their considerable talents to take the audience on a trip of escape and self-discovery to the first world.
As the great adventure unfolds, this true-life recounting of a sometimes chaotic search for greener grass provides contemplative, funny and stirring moments.
Jenkinson’s words offer many lyrical highlights, painting some appealing and vivid images along the way. It would probably work in isolation as a spoken word piece but the addition of the musical score augments the poetry and makes this a performance that audiences of all types will enjoy. Honan’s inspired playing ranges from the lightest of touches to driving rhythms that match the vocals for power. It’s also quite lovely to look at; inexplicably visually lush.
All up, Folly provides a delightful night out for the eyes, ears and mind.’
ON DIT MAGAZINE
Review: Folly – A Miserable Yorkshire Poetry Musical
Words: Daisy Freeburn
‘In the little back room in the Grace Emily, in the corner of a small stage, stood a bare tree lit with warm light. It was a small show – only about 20 seats. When the two performers, Sally Jenkinson and Nuala Honan, got up on stage, they could see every single one of our faces. I love this, the feeling of knowing the performers somehow.
Nuala’s gentle acoustic guitar set the mood of the play as a down-to-earth experience, with just the soft strumming of the guitar and Sally’s poetry being the only sounds. With each new part of the story, a token of sorts would be hung on the tree, gathering in the end to be a symbol of the show as a whole.
Toy aeroplanes, beer bottles, ferns, wooden beads accumulated as Sally told tales of travels throughout South-East Asia. At times, I was befuddled by whether she was mocking the typical white travellers who go overseas to poorer countries to make themselves feel good, or whether she was in the same boat as them. Nevertheless, her gorgeous prose and storytelling, paired with Nuala’s music, moved me. Especially the bit about aeroplanes. I, like Sally, hate aeroplanes.
I was confused about what they were trying to say to us in certain parts of the story. However, the overwhelming sense of homesickness and cyclone-in-your-mind feelings while travelling, conveyed so strongly through the show, is what I felt as I watched. With that, I could empathise.
See it for the beauty of words and the feeling of music. You might get something completely different out of it than I did. But that’s what’s so good about poetry and music.’
FRINGE – Folly – 4K
by rupert hogan turner
‘Folly is a forlorn tale of travel, lucid poetry describing the trials and tribulations of being a first world traveller in the second and third worlds. The show has the feel of picking up a travel journal half way through and peering deeply into another travellers mind. The performance was warm and cosy, the performers genuine and enthralling. There is a visceral sense of authenticity which draws the listeners further into the world being described to them.
The show is a culmination of the spoken word poetry of Sally Jenkinson and the soft blues guitar of Nuala Honan. Emotions run wild as the audience follows Jenkinson’s tale of traversing foreign shores. Jenkinson’s soft voice and beautiful accent heightened the audience’s attentions. Jenkinson speaks with emotion but at points seems erratic and anxious. The anxiety was clearly a portion of the role but at times seemed overdone.
Honan’s exemplary voice and melodies coupled Jenkinson’s emotive phrases. Her adroit strumming and resonant voice captured the emotions of Jenkinson’s spoken words. Honan’s tunes harmonised with Jenkinson’s poetry to create a moving atmosphere.
The soothing guitar and soft spoken words inspired a diverse range of poignant emotions; from the erratic unease of boarding the initial flight to the light-hearted humour and intense affection of a holiday romance.
The show accurately portrays the diverse array of emotions one is subject to when travelling, particularly when travelling alone. The language is eloquent and the delivery is affecting. The show leaves you feeling calm, almost meditative, but also with a prominent desire to travel. Anyone who has travelled the world can relate to the apprehension and uncertainty; to be home among the places you recognise and the people you love.’
Kryztoff Rating 4K
Tags: 2014, Fringe, Homesick Productions, Music, Poetry
TALK FRINGE REVIEWS
‘A terrific show with a perhaps misleading by-line. This is miserableness in the tradition of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo). It is a funny and moving show the expertly mixes musical and poetic storytelling. The poetry, from Sally Jenkinson, a Yorkshire wordsmith with an endearingly idiosyncratic style, riffs on the impulse to flee and find ourselves and adventure in exotic locals, and our confused and bemused attempts to explain why we did it and what we learnt. Behind and around it is an impressive and powerful soundscape from Nuala Honan, a dynamo solo artist in her own right. With all the taught energy of a caged musical lioness her harmonies, rhythms and percussions provide an atmospheric backing that conveys all the barely contained emotions of the jilted lover, the lost soul, the wondrous traveller, the jaded backpacker’s despair and the explosive joy of a new resolution. Check it out.’
Melbourne is a beautiful city. It reminded me a little of Bristol in so much as there are multiple small suburbs or areas just outside the city centre which seem to have their own personalities and stories to tell. As a by-product of finding my way to various poetry events and places to stay while I’ve been here, I’ve had the chance to explore around the city. I also heard a poem read by Melbourne-based poet Ian McBride… I can’t find it anywhere online, but it describes Melbourne (I’m paraphrasing) as a girl sleeping, curled around the bay. The poem describes the city as many other things besides. It does a much better job of describing Melbourne than I could, so I will keep trying to find it.
I’ve seen some brilliant poets. I bought a collection called ‘This Skin, A Net’ by Andy Jackson, who I saw read at Passionate Tongues in Brunswick. It’s uncommonly beautiful and unusual, whilst also being really communicative and easy to dive into. Andy has a website- amongtheregulars.wordpress.com. Have a peek at it, he’s great.
I also can’t recommend highly enough that you look up poet Randall Stephens. Happily, he’s just released a spoken word album which you can download NOW, and I suggest you do. He’s a robust, alarming, funny and sharp performer. See hear… https://randallstephens.bandcamp.com/
In all the poetry events I went to, unfortunately I didn’t see any female featured poets (apart from myself). This isn’t to say that this is common in Melbourne, I wasn’t there long enough to judge, but I would have like to have heard more from some of the amazing female poets that I heard in the open mics, especially from Loran Steinberg, who’s poem about being bothered by aggressive Neanderthals of public transport was articulate, scary, relatable and also funny. Having said that, there was an all-female poetry night called Mother Tongue, which I couldn’t make it to. So this is not to say that women are not represented in the Melbourne Poetry Scene or anything, just that I would have liked to have seen more.
I have found the Melbourne poetry scene to be friendly, welcoming and supportive. Thanks to Passionate Tongues, The Dan Poets, and Muses, Musos (despite venue troubles!) for having us. It was a real pleasure.
I’ve got to say, it was Australia Day while I was in Melbourne. The day which marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British Ships on Australian soil. It was really interesting and eye opening to hear and witness the various reactions and responses to the occasion. With people re-dubbing the day such things as ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day, and celebrating in every way from Aboriginal Hip-Hop nights, to strong and active opposition of the day existing at all, to drinking all day, wrapped in an Australian flag , and subsequently vomiting all over the last train home. To a certain extent, people in any metropolitan city will choose to celebrate public holidays differently, no surprise there. But it was more than that. Australia is Going Through Some Shit with regards to its attitudes towards its history, and treatment of its native people. Not one person, whether they were celebrating gently with friends, going wild, or purposefully not marking the day, didn’t have something to say about the whys and wherefores of if / when / how Australia Day should be marked.
The ins and outs of this delicate and complicated issue are not mine to pass comment on really. But I just found it really eye opening, interesting and affecting to see a city so deep in discussion with itself. The issue and the history are still recent enough that the end result is still being shaped, attitudes are still changing and the debate is still in full force.
Incidentally, we spent the first part of Australia Day at a BBQ with friends, and the second part at Muses, Musos- a poetry and music event which was supposed to be in a pub, but due to venue issues ended up being held on the pitch at Victoria Park (a well kept, but disused football stadium). In the end, we couldn’t have asked for a better venue, it was beautiful to hear and share poems in the open air and the hush of the stadium. And for my part in Australia / Invasion / Survival Day, I read Robert Burns’ ‘My Bonnie Mary’ with a glass raised to the sunset and the empty bleachers (it was also Burns’ birthday the day before). A final note on that event; what a pleasure to share the bill with this very talented woman, check her out. http://www.philemonmusic.com/
Whilst in Melbourne we stayed with old friends, new friends, friends with beautiful new babies, and our respective families, and made super welcome everywhere. I’m really grateful to everyone for looking after us, especially since while I was in MeIbourne, I got the sad news from home that another of my wonderful Grandads, Sid, had passed away. To lose two men who you loved so very much only six weeks apart is really hard, especially being so far away from home and not being able to support my parents and family properly in their grief. But both Jack and Sid were great adventurers in their time, and hard workers too. So the only thing I can do is determine to be a bold adventurer and a hard worker myself, while I am here.
We’ve got a Great Ocean Road to drive down, and when we get back to Adelaide, a beautiful fringe show to produce and perform. There’s nothing like bereavement to remind you not to waste your time on this earth, so I’d better do it properly.