Home and Away

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.

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.