Massive Attack Reinterpreted for BBC Introducing (video poem).

Last year I was comissioned to write something for BBC Introducing In The West, as they ran a project to celebrate Massive Attack’s return to Bristol for their big show on the downs. We were invited to write a re-interpretation of a song from Blue Lines, and I went for ‘Five Man Army’ which always felt to me like a celebration of being young and excited and skint and creative and having a crew that you love making stuff with.

I worked in Cosies (a bar in St Pauls in Bristol) for more than six years in my twenties. Its a place that has held such a significant place in the music scene in Bristol over the years, but is also a litte tiny underground dive that you could walk past without noticing, surrounded by grand georgian buildings most likely built with merchant money from the slave trade. Bristol is a complex and confronting place comprehend when you start thinking about its history, and how much of its current vibe it owns to the immigrant communties that have made it the incredible and multi-layered and beautiful place it is today. The battle continues. Gentrification continues. I am gentrification.

But I was also a skint artist trying to get by working in a bar, and was so grateful for the traces of beauty left behind by all the skint artists that had started their fires in St Pauls before me. Massive Attack being an obvious example. So this piece is an attempt to distill at this, plus my adoration of St Pauls, plus all the passion and heartbreak of my early twenties, plus my ongoing (unsuccessful) attempts to learn Somali, plus an homage to the Bristol poetry and music scenes (past and present) all in one piece. Simple eh?

Its not perfect, at all. But it was a rewarding and thought provoking experience to write. And I did an OK job of reading it out in the end. And I only just found out they’d made a video of it! So, here it is:

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On zines, poetry, and making things – Happy National Poetry Day!

Hello! Its National Poetry Day tomorrow, and to mark the day I’ve made a new zine of poems.

If the divide is in you, then the divine is in all of us

As you can see, its called ‘If the divine is in you, then the divine is in all of us’ (a title I borrowed from something I heard a brilliant woman say in a yoga class), and although it is scrappy and scruffy and wonky, I’m really really pleased with how it came out.

 

In June 2017 I was lucky enough to go on a trip to New York (upstate and city) for a month. I looked after their super cool kid while they made a record. It was a great adventure. A lot of the poems are not actually about that trip, but what links them all together is that I wrote them or started writing them while we were away. Travelling is a good time to write, I think, because you’re existing in a kind of alternate reality from your usual life.

I made the poems into a zine because:

  • They are collected thoughts and fragments for the most part, rather than fully realised poems, so I wanted them to live all together in one time capsule (and that’s ok).
  • I applied for A LOT of courses and grants and fellowships and publications this year, and didn’t get any of them! Which did start to make me feel a bit negative about writing, but then I remembered ‘Hey! Writing isn’t about getting prizes! It’s about trying to work things out, hooray!’ So, I made this zine so I could enjoy every aspect of the making process again, pressure free. I enjoyed to scribbling and writing and editing the poems, but I also enjoyed the cutting and sticking and photocopying and stapling. Touching the paper. My hands touched every one of the pages. It was fun! The library in my little town lent me a long-armed stapler when I went in to use the photocopier. Making a zine is a good conversation starter.
  • Before the world of everythingisontheinternet, I got a lot of my music and arts news, and insights into the thoughts and opinions of my artistic peers, from zines. They were bought, sold, swapped and handed around, and I loved the practice and reading something made directly by someone else, of feeling part of a community of makers, and more broadly – the warmth and relief of hearing someone else’s thoughts, worries, ideas communicated so openly and honestly, and not feeling alone.

A Different ForestIt was a great way to bond with my own writing process again. I was blissfully removed from any worries about where I would submit the poems, who might read them, where and why they might be judged. It felt really magical to sit at my kitchen table with the radio on and write and cut and stick my observations and passions and worries about the world into a little homemade booklet. It made the disappointments of being turned down for courses and grants and residencies etc feel small by comparison, because it was a tangible reminder that what I really want to do is write and create art, and say things that I think are important. Whilst I will always strive to improve myself and my career as a writer and artist by applying to be part of things, to be funded and expand my possibilities, it isn’t everything. Writing is everything, making is everything. Translating the love and turmoil and panic and hope of your insides into something tangible and readable for anyone who wants and needs to share in it with you – that’s the alchemy.

Extracts

Hey, you should make a zine too! And if you do, send a copy to me please.

If you want a copy of my zine ‘If the divine is in you, then the divine is in all of us’, then please send me an email with your name and address, and perhaps be so kind as to paypal me £3 to cover the photocopying and paper costs, and I’ll post one right to your door! I’m on sallyjenkinsonpoetry@gmail.com

Loads of love, and happy National Poetry Day to everyone for tomorrow! xx

Tour dates for October readings

I’m doing seven lovely readings around the country in October, detail below. Come along if there’s one in your area (and if you like poems!).

Tuesday 3rd October – Hackney Hammer & Tongue @ The Book Club, 100 Leonard Street, EC2A 4RH London
https://www.facebook.com/HammerTongueHackney/

Wednesday 4th October – Bristol Hammer & Tongue @ Smoke & Mirrors, 8 Denmark Street, BS1 5DQ Bristol
https://www.facebook.com/events/115817759102255

Thursday 5th October – Brighton Hammer & Tongue @ Komedia, Gardener Street, Brighton
https://www.facebook.com/groups/32704030308/

Friday 6th October – Cambridge Hammer & Tongue @ Cambridge Junction, Clifton Way, CB1 7GX Cambridge
https://www.facebook.com/events/171712973378182/

Saturday 7th October – Cheltenham Lit Crawl 5pm @ Waterstones Cheltenham
http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature/festival-village/cheltenham-literature-festival-…around-town-2/lit-crawl

Tuesday 10th October – Oxford Hammer & Tongue @ The Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ
https://www.facebook.com/hammerandtongueoxford

Wednesday 11th October – Southampton Hammer &Tongue @ The Arts House, 178 Above Bar Street, SO14 7DW, Southampton
https://www.facebook.com/htsoton/

 

Sally Jenkinson 2015 photo credit Tilly May

Full set at Rhyme & Reason (Bath) October 2016

Last October I did a featured set at the very jolly Rhyme & Reason in Bath. I mostly read quite sad poems so its not exactly a lively reading, but hey, my hair looks great – which as we know it the most important thing!

Seriously though, I’m very grateful to R&R gang for filming and editing this together, its nice to have a video of a whole set! Have a look if you’re interested.

Our first year at Shambala Festival with new venue Phantom Laundry

August bank holiday weekend was our first year at Shambala Festival with our new poetry and music venue Phantom Laundry. We were missing some vital and beloved crew members from our family this year, so it was really sad in lots of ways. But we worked really hard to create a new venue which showcased the best poetry, spoken word and live music from around the scene this year, and we were proud of the result.

Thank you from the bottom of our (still very tired) hearts to every poet, musician, DJ, artist, crew member, watcher, listeners, applauder, gasp-in-awe-er and dancer who graced our venue for its first ever outing at Shambala Festival. We are proud to have poetry and spoken word at the forefront of the progamming in such a big, beautiful space at a festival (and of course proud to showcase such brilliant live music too!). If you were there, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
Love, Phantom Laundry X

(Most of) the Phantom Laundry 2017 stage crew

(Most of) the Phantom Laundry 2017 stage crew Photo credit: Tilly May Photography

Photo credit: Tilly May Photography

Bespoke poems for sale! Raising funds for flood relief.

Hi poetry lovers,

I’d like to get some money together to aid flood relief in Bangladesh as soon as possible. Among other things, to raise some cash I’m offering to create bespoke poems to order for any occassion. Is your Mum about to have a milestone birthday? Is your kid off to university soon? Do you just really really really want someone to write a poem about that time you walked along Hadrian’s Wall? This, and / or any other conceivable reason you might want a bespoke poem creating for you, now is the time to order them and also make an important donation to help fellow humans who really need it.

All you need to do is email me on sallyjenkinsonpoetry@gmail.com to discuss the details, idiosycracies and finer points of what you want to your poem to contain, and when you need it, and also pay me £20!

ALL money raised will go directly to the Friendship NGO, which has been doing important outreach work in poor and inaccessible communities in Bangladesh for more that 20 years. More info about their fundraising here…

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/stand-up-for-the-flood-victims-in-bangladesh/

The floods in Bangladesh are thought to be the most severe in 100 years. More than a third of the country has been submerged. At least 115 people have died and more than 5.7 million are affected. The government and NGOs are struggling to cope with the extent of the disaster and warn of risk of disease as well as shortages of crucial supplies including food, medication and clean drinking water. More than half a million homes have been damaged.

If you need a poem, and would like your money to go towards a good cause, get in touch! Look forward to hearing from you. Best, Sal xx

EARTH DAY BLOG: A Lazy, Skint Person’s Guide To Ditching Single Use Plastics.

Plastic is a material made to last forever, yet 33 percent of all plastic – water bottles, bags and straws – are used just once and thrown away. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. By 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. (Source: http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/)

Today is Earth Day, which means something and nothing I suppose – but I’ve been meaning to write down all the VERY EXCITING single-use-plastic-reducing tips that I’ve been gathering up over the last year or so. I’ve been working hard to cut down the things I buy regularly that are packaged in plastic, and find viable alternatives that are more ecologically safe, but also not shit and weird.

The opening paragraph aside, I’m not going to bang on about WHY we should all be trying to cut down our plastic use (and putting pressure on our goods producers to do the same) because whilst that kind of chat is important, it often leaves me feeling a little hopeless and helpless. Because it’s really fucking sad. But, instead of WHY, let’s take five minutes to talk about HOW, and more specifically how if you’re skint and tired and don’t where to start.

SHAMPOO
I’ve got a shit tonne of hair, so this was tricky. I’ve tried the old baking soda and cider vinegar trick and while I know loads of people who it works fine for (so it’s definitely worth a go https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8953/diy-this-baking-soda-shampoo-saved-my-hair.html) it has never been great for me. I tried a lot of ‘multi-purpose’ hair and body wash bars but they left my hair a bit dry and crispy. Finally I tried Lush’s shampoo bars and they’re great – really conditioning and detangling and they smell lovely and lather well. They just come in a paper bag so much less waste than a plastic bottle! They’re £6.25, which is more than I would spend on a bottle of shampoo, but one bar lasts me about 4 months (I was my hair 2 – 3 times a week) so its equivalent to a few bottles of shampoo! I use the seaweed one, but they’ve got a good selection: (https://uk.lush.com/products/seanik).

SHOWER GEL
Simple enough, but I just switched to soap. Seems hardly worth mentioning, except that I’ve quite enjoyed trying out different cool soaps, different flavours, ones that are good to your skin and that your face likes – there’s loads of natural soap makers out there, as well as plenty of cheap simple unperfumed ones available in shops and supermarkets. And no plastic bottle to chuck out when it’s done!

MOISTURIZER
I used to get through a bottle of cocoa butter moisturizer every few weeks, I’m pretty flaky. Of all my plastic habits, this was the one I had least confidence in breaking. I tried buying bars of  cocoa butter and shea butter – they’re lovely and they smell amazing, but they’re a bit expensive for me, and they can be quite hard to find. Then I spotted a massive glass jar of unscented coconut oil in a health food shop – and that was me sorted. There’s a bit of a hippy cliché about coconut oil being good for everything at the moment. I don’t know if it will cure your cold or save you from wrinkles or make you immortal or whatever, but it’s a really good cheap moisturizer, and if the smell isn’t your thing just go for the mild or unscented one. You can buy a 600ml jar for about a fiver and they last me for at least 6 months. That’s less that a quid a month, and it’s in a big glass jar which can be re-used in about a million different ways afterwards.

WASHING UP LIQUID
I’ve had the same washing up liquid bottle for about five years. Getting it re-filled from a green supermarket was a piece of piss when I lived in Bristol and Brighton, but now I live in the middle of The Forest of Dean, it’s a bit trickier. I buy it in bulk and decant it into the smaller bottle as I need it (Bio-D sell 15L for £20 ish). Fronting up £20 is not always easy when you’re skint, as I well know, and also you’re still having to get rid of one plastic bottle every 15 litres, so it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best I’ve come up with so far. Anyone got any hot tips on more eco-sound approached to washing up liquid? If I were the queen, all supermarkets would have re-fill facilities, but until then…!

TOOTHPASTE / BRUSHES
I’ll be honest, this toothpaste isn’t for everyone, but I really love it. I can imagine people being freaked out because it isn’t white or blue with fake crystal bits in it! But it tastes good and has been really helpful when I’ve had toothache. It’s in a glass jar and lasts for months. It’s also free from weird chemicals and stuff, if you’re bothered about that kind of thing. It’s made in Brighton, but you can order online and they deliver. https://www.truthpaste.co.uk/

There’s loads of varieties of alternative toothbrushes out there, but if you’re after an affordable and sustainable toothbrush, you can’t really do better that this imaginatively named ‘environmental toothbrush’ for £2.85! You can get them in most health food type shops or online. My husband bought me one when I was in hospital last year and it cheered me right up! https://www.soapnuts.co.uk/products/the-perfect-environmental-toothbrush

IMG_1592

Posing-with-toothpaste action = DEDICATION!

BUYING IN BULK / LARGE SIZE / SUPPORTING GOOD ALTERNATIVES:
Obviously, the bigger the tub you buy the less smaller tubs are being thrown away.  Buying in bulk is expensive so it’s just not possible for everyone – but worth thinking about doing it when you can. I also try to support good alternatives when I see them, and obviously carrying re-usable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee cups makes a massive difference! I also love mouthing off,  so if you feel brave enough you can always let the owners of the shops that you use that you think excess packaging is bullshit and that you’re hoping they’ll move toward better alternatives! I find that fruit and veg shops use less packaging than supermarkets, and are sometimes literally more than half the price, so worth supporting them where you can too.

PROBLEMS I CAN’T SOLVE:
Margerine. Fucking margarine.

I’m allergic to butter, which obviously you can buy wrapped in a bit of paper. I buy margarine in the biggest tubs I can find, but it ain’t easy. Does anyone have a plastic-free margarine solution??

ALRIGHT, there’s all my viable plastic -free alternatives in one place. I would absolutely love to hear other people’s hints and tips. Knowledge is power!

Peas, love, and plastic-free alternatives, Sal x