In Other Words

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A major new event is scheduled to take place in Cambridge this midsummer. Across 17th and 19th June, the city will witness In Other Words: a literary fringe festival celebrating alternative voices, accessible art and the voice of the people. The festival also hosts the selection and inauguration of the Bard of Cambridge, the first ever such position for the city.

Cambridge already successfully plays host to the Cambridge Literary Festival and Cambridge University’s Festival of Ideas. These curate fantastic programmes, but often showcase the already famous and acclaimed.
In Other Words will be a festival of language based on the power of community and communication, showcasing and creating space for up-and-coming writers/ performers and amplifying the voice of the people, not the voice of established institutions. It will highlight both written and spoken word, and will take the form of publication, performance, and exhibition using generously donated free venues around the city. Where applicable, the Festival will ask for donations to cover running costs rather than charge audiences or artists.
The Fringe Festival aims to involve all local alternative artistic groups and individuals who wish to be involved – including the happily eccentric, the politically marginalised, and the voices that don’t have as big a platform as they need or deserve. It is a means to bring other voices and different perspectives to the forefront of Cambridge's cultural language within a well-supported framework, further raising the city's national profile as a rich and diverse centre for the arts.
The final event of the festival will be the trials of the would-be bards and the “chairing” of the winning Bard of Cambridge on Sunday 19th Jun, 7:30pm, Cambridge Junction.

I Published a Book....

23/2/2017

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Last week Sparkthewords officially launched its first publication: Haiku to F*ck to and I couldn't be more proud! As some of you may have seen, we opened up submissions for an anthology of haiku a couple of months ago and now the final product is ready. Thomas Dedola and I loved all of the submissions and it was challenging to choose who would be published in the collection so I want to start by saying a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to write and submit. Secondly, I want to express my gratitude in being able to showcase these talented poets. It is difficult trying to build any kind of career as a poet but whenever I go to events, slams or book launches, the sense of community always astounds me. To be able to provide and create a little of that has been an honour. 

So after months of reading and selecting submissions, illustrating and formatting, I happily present to you...Haiku to F*ck to!  

 

What is Haiku to F*ck to? 

Haiku to F*ck to is an anthology that celebrates sexuality and the human body which looks to explore the many facets of sex, sensuality and the imperfect. The anthology is a collection of Haiku that highlights aspects of intimacy, gender, romance and societal views.
In today’s society, sex is a taboo subject or used to sell a product. Sex is a broader topic that needs to be discussed as it is shaped by culture, history, education and experience; our sexuality influences our views of individuality, family, parenthood, and community.

To be silent about sex keeps us ignorant and it's vitally important that we talk openly; which is why Spark the Words hopes that this contributes to the discussion and that you enjoy reading it.

Featuring work from: Vishal Ajmera, Thomas Dedola, Garrett Flagg, Maddie Godfrey, Phillip Web Gregg, Ralph Lucas, Nikki Marrone, Mark McGivern, Leanne Moden, Uche Ogbuji, Fay Roberts, Karen Sylvia Rockwell, Uppahar Subba, Russell J Turner, J.S Watts, S.M.W.

If you are interested then you can grab yourself a copy here. 

 

 

 

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EP Launch Night!

30/1/2017

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This project started when a bunch of creative folk and I met up for a one-off mini-Shindig event at St. Paul's church in Cambridge. Shindig organiser Wesley Freeman-Smith was the mastermind behind the sessions, while photographer and all round genius Matt Widgery played the piano;  the poets were Tim Knight Uppahar Subba and myself. We spent the day recording poetry to improvised music and did a live stream on Facebook via an iPhone. Up and coming photographer Josh Murfitt recorded the whole thing. He took some beautiful photographs that really capture the beauty of working on a creative project.

 

This then led to us recording and producing an EP!

oetry comes to life with ‘Poems & Piano’, a new EP produced by live arts collective SHINDIG. Taking it’s cue from live sessions filmed in 2016, 'Poetry & Piano' collects 7 performances from poets Nikki Marrone, Tim Knight and Uppahar Subba with improvised accompaniment from Matt Widgery on piano.
The album collects snapshots of serendipity, those moments of unexpected inspiration that come from a live collision of creative mediums. With roots in blues, jazz and rock, Matt Widgery tracks the words as they're spoken. Nothing was pre-written, each take was unique. 

The record will be released as a limited edition package, coming with:

- Digital download codes
- USB key containing lossless FLAC
- 5 beautiful, limited run postcards of Photography by Josh Murfitt
- A small pamphlet with poetry from the featured artists, plus never before published work from Wesley Freeman-Smith and Matt Widgery

‘Poems & Piano’ was recorded in January 2016 and mixed by Theresa Elflein. Pre-order your copy and get bonus tracks free with your download -http://bit.ly/poetrypreorder.

This launch night will be your first time to hear the artists perform together in front of a live audience; a cabaret show of spoken word, blues, rock'n'roll and jazz. It marks the first live SHINDIG event since April 2016, making this a welcome return to the stage for one of Cambridge’s most pre-eminent events producers.

You can have a sneak preview of the poets performing on the SHINDIG Youtube Channel, where the 2016 Poetry & Piano Sessions will be released in full over the coming month - https://www.youtube.com/user/SHINDIGgig

Best of all it's free entry - come and join us!

31st January 2017 - 8:45pm @ La Raza Events
4 Rose Crescent, CB2 3LL Cambridge, United Kingdom

 

 

 

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Hammer & Tongue National Finals 2017

29/1/2017

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After an incredible season of Hammer & Tongue slams and an exciting Regional, it was time for Cambridge to journey to London for the Hammer & Tongue National finals held at the Royal Albert Hall! 

 

Hammer & Tongue was founded in 2004 in Oxford by Steve Larkin and is now a Community Interest Company that runs a year-round programme of touring guest artists and qualifying slams with regional finals in BrightonWaterlooHackneyCambridgeOxford, and Bristol, as well as one-off festival slams such as the nightly slam that takes place at The Edinburgh Fringe.  A poetry slam is a live democratic spoken word competition where random audience members judge three-minute scripted spoken word pieces from contestants. The winners from each slam compete in the regional finals and the winner of the regional goes onto compete in the two day national finals for the title of UK Slam Champion! 

 

In each regional, the top two winners go through to the Nationals. However, the second winner has to compete on the first day to be able to go through to the final round of the Nationals. It was a great way to kick off the competition and the sheer amount of talented poets competing on day one really set the tone for the final competition. You could tell already that it was going to be a tough competition!
We were proud to support Cambridge's own Jack Bateman, who went on to qualify for the final round on day two.

 

Day one was also for the team slams. Team slams are similar to a traditional slam except you must compete with a minimum of three people speaking on stage. Each team represented the different sects of Hammer & Tongue which meant that Cambridge was competing against Oxford, Hackney, Bristol, Brighton and new to the team slam - Edinburgh University. Writing and performing as part of a team was a brand new experience for me and I found it to be a fun challenge. I competed alongside Robin Lamboll, Uppahar Subba and Tim Knight. We decided to start with a comedic poem and follow with a more serious poem, which mirrored what most of the other teams did too. Cambridge came third losing to Hackney and the well deserved victors, Edinburgh University. You could tell that Edinburgh University were comfortable performing as a team and that they had put a lot of hard work into their poems. 

 

On day two, the competition started afresh with the previous days qualifiers competing against the winners of the regional finals. The range of topics and performance styles over the course of the day was incredible and showcased the incredible talent of poets around the country. Some poems were highly topical such as Alison Absolute's political poem or David Macpherson's facebook friend poem. Whilst others spoke of emotion and fear. Between Anna Beecher's grief-stricken tale of the death of a beekeeper, Theresa Lola's harrowing tale of demetia and Sez's Thomasin's heartbreaking poem about the loss of her child, the audience was left emotional and heartbroken in the best of ways. 

 

The deciding round of the competition found five poets competing for the title in a heated battle of spoken word. Cambridge's Robin Lamboll, performed a clever poem on science and religion whilst David Macpherson encouraged the audience to "stand bare" with him. Dave Allen told a narrative poem about a chance encounter and Tom Denbigh explained why "gay people are superheroes." However, the clear winner and 2017's UK slam champion is Theresa Lola! She took to the stage with a humbleness and brought the audience to tears with her devastating poem of sexual assault.  She was fantastic on the night and I am very excited to see what she does in the upcoming year. 

 

Hammer & Tongue is a big part of my life and it has always been an incredible honour to be part of such a community. The national final is always a lovely experience that brings together a community of like-minded creative people and it was fantastic to see so much support and love. 

Looking forward to a new season of Hammer & Tongue and if you would like to take part in one of our slams, head on down to your local Hammer & Tongue! 
                                                                     http://www.hammerandtongue.com/

 

 

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Cambridge Jazz Festival

15/12/2016

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The Festival 

The Cambridge Jazz Festival was founded in 2014, and was the first Jazz festival in Cambridge. The festival is a celebration of the huge variety of music that jazz encompasses, from gypsy jazz to funk, from jazz poetry and spoken word to hip-hop, from solo artists to big bands and to open jazz up to new audiences, particularly young people, and to give them the chance to get involved as well as listen.

The organisers had some specific goals in mind – bringing together the jazz communities from the town and the universities, showcasing local talent (and in some cases, inviting them back home again!), and bringing the best bands from around the country and internationally to perform in our city. They hope to break down some of the old preconceptions and stereotypes, and present jazz in Cambridge as what it truly is - a thrilling, varied, and compellingly creative art form.

 

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Anthology - Call for Submissions

14/11/2016

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Calling all local writers, poets, photographers and artists! SparkTheWords invites you to submit your work to the Haiku to F*ck To anthology.

What we are looking for:
Haiku: Haiku to F*ck To is an anthology of sexuality and a celebration of the human body which looks to explore the many facets of sex, sexuality, sensuality and the imperfect. We challenge you to write a haiku and encourage you to write something different! Poems can be in any form of haiku but the traditional 5-7-5 is preferred. The subject can be anything ranging from turn-ons to humorous anecdotes; but we are also looking to highlight aspects of asexuality, sexuality, intimacy, gender, romance and societal views.

Artwork/Photography: We are looking for photography and artwork that showcases the beauty of the human body, sex and intimacy. This can also include photographs of sculptures, paintings and murals if relevant to theme. Nudity is allowed but we will not accept graphic or offensive material.   

Please submit poems in plain text and double spaced to sparkthewords@gmail.com. Submissions are limited to 6 Haiku per entry and submission to the anthology is free. Remember to include your name and title of work (if applicable) – however if for some reason you wish to remain anonymous or write under a pseudonym please include this in the email alongside your name. Those selected for the anthology will receive a contributor’s copy of the anthology, alongside a payment of £15 and be invited to perform at the launch in February.

Please send submissions to sparkthewords@gmail.com by 12pm on the 2nd of January 2017.  Word documents attached to email preferred.
 
We look forward to hearing from you.
 

Thanks to everyone who backed our project and helped make this happen.

 

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Allographic Presents: Poetry Evening with Vanessa Kisuule & Dean Atta

3/11/2016

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As part of Black History Month Programme two brilliant, powerful, conscious poets entertained, educated and challenged Cambridge for an evening.

 

The event was held in the Unitarian Church in Cambridge which is a beautiful little space to perform in. Churches are often a strange place to perform as a poet - but the acoustics are stellar! 
I was incredibly excited to be able to chose the line up for this event and we had some wonderful performances from our locals support acts: 

Uppahar Subba is a poet of Nepalese and Indian origin. His writing mostly focuses on reminiscences, religion, race, and all of the pop culture he consumed while growing up. He has been performing in Cambridge for the last two years at various events such as Strawberry Fair, Hammer and Tongue, SHINDIG, Speakeasy. Uppahar is a co-runner of Allographic and told some beautiful pieces about family, home and religion. 

 

Caroline Teague is a London born and bred poet writing pieces on loss, identity and how she comes to terms with some harrowing realities of being human and being alive, in a style she calls 'tragic optimism' in hopes that the honesty through her writing could translate into something positive for someone else. Member of both "poetrip" and "typeface" poetry London based collectives, Caroline is a co runner of the Hammer &Tongue Waterloo poetry night, and creator of the musical project "Caroline Smiling" which blends music, spoken word and other forms of communication to cross platforms for mental health through creative means. A self proclaimed soft touch poet with some sharp edges."

 

Inja is an exceptional artist and host whose work spans a huge variety of genres including dubstep, drumstep, hiphop, grime, drum and bass and freestyle poetry. His talent, energy and exceptional lyricism, both live and recorded, have garnered him continuous praise. He is a true ‘lyrical wizard’ (IDj Magazine) who faultlessly crosses musical barriers - from the bass music mix of his latest mighty solo release BassMusicEscapism, to his renowned live shows which foray ‘into dancehall, electronica, vintage funk and contemporary folk (London Metro). He is one of the UK’s most current, energetic, crowd-pleasing and versatile bass music artists. Inja also did us a huge favour by hosting the event as Allographic is rather poorly at the moment :( 

 

Then in the second half; we had dream team Vanessa and Dean featuring! I saw Vanessa Kisuule perform back last year at Hammer & Tongue and was excited to be seeing her again. This woman just has a way with words!

Vanessa Kisuule has won numerous poetry slam titles in the U.K. and abroad including Next Generation Slam 2012, Slambassadors 2010 and South West Hammer and Tongue Slam Champion 2012 and The Roundhouse Slam 2014, Hammer and Tongue National Slam 2014 and the Nuoryican Poetry Slam in New York. She has worked with the London Southbank Centre and had her work featured on the BBC,The Guardian, Blue Peter, Sky TV and TEDx in Vienna. Her debut poetry collection ‘Joyriding The Storm’ was published in April 2014. 

 

I had never seen Dean perform before but I had heard so many good things about him and watched some of his videos online - he did not disappoint! Dean Atta has a soothing voice that allows him to address the hard things in life in a beautiful way. 

Dean Atta has been described by the Huffington Post as “one of the leading lights in London’s poetry scene” and by Apples and Snakes as “unafraid to tackle topics other poets turn a blind eye to”. His debut collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday Pink List and featured in Out News Global Pride Power List. He has been commissioned to write poems for high profile organisations.

 

Make sure that you check out all of these beautiful people and their wonderful words! 

Thank you to Ali Gordon for setting up this event, thank you Fay Roberts for front of house and thank you to all the performers and audience members for a wonderful night! 

 

 

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Hammer & Tongue Regional Finals 2015-2016

7/9/2016

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In September, I was lucky enough to compete against a bunch of talented poets in the Hammer & Tongue Regional finals. The winner and runner-up of the Regional Final goes through to the Hammer & Tongue National Final. The winner of the National Final gets crowned Hammer & Tongue Slam Champion for that year 

 

Contestants are a culmination of 8 months of competitive mayhem, each winner voted for by voluntary judges from the audience over the year’s preceding slams. This years finalists were: Joe Navarro (October 2015) , Jack Bateman (November 2015), Robin Lamboll (December 2015), George Maurice James (December 2015), Nathan Smith (January 2016), Maddie Godfrey - Poet (March 2016), Amanda Jervis Poetry Page (April 2016), Uppahar Subba (May 2016) and I won the Strawberry Slam in June 2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HaThe rules for the Hammer & Tongue Cambridge Regional Slam Final are as follows:
Slammers are chosen at random from the list to perform - spoken word only, no music, no props. Each competitor has 3 minutes from the time they start talking on the mic. After 10 seconds’ grace period, they start losing points (1 point for every 10 seconds!). At the end, they’re given points out of 10 by five judges chosen from the audience, while the top and bottom scores are removed to ensure fairness. The slammer gets a score out of 30, and the competition moves on.
Two preliminary rounds (the second in reverse order of the first) give us the combined scores of the poets which leads to an elimination, where four compete for the coveted crown and title!

Hammer & Tongue Cambridge is hosted by the wonderful Fay Roberts who kept the night on course and the audience entertained and informed throughout. The slam is always kicked off with a sacrificial slammer who gets the audience energised, calibrates the judges and sets a high bar for the contestants to reach. Traditionally, at the finals, the sacrificial poet will be the current reigning Slam Champion which was the talented Tim Knight.  

 

 

I unexpectedly placed in the top four with Maddie, Robin and Jack alongside. I had only practised two poems so I ran off to prepare my third one! Everybody did extremely well and scored high with the judges but it was the deserving Robin who took home the title and the trophy!  

 

The atmosphere at the Hammer & Tongue events in Cambridge is truly unique but at the regional finals, it is always special.  Our spoken word scene seems to be something different to the other cities as every person intercepts spoken word in their own way. This means that every style you can imagine is showcased and every topic is covered. Most importantly, the contestants are always so supportive of each other and there doesn't really seem to be a competitive element to the night. 

Congratulations to Robin and Jack who will be going through to the finals at the Royal Albert Hall!! 

 

Photos courtesy of the amazingly talented legend Matt Widgery

 

 

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Soapbox Stage @ FolkEast Festival

25/8/2016

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This weekend I had the honour of performing on the Soapbox stage and spending a lovely weekend at the FolkEast festival - which you can read more about here. The Soapbox stage is run by Amy Wragg from Get on the Soapbox and it is absolutely wonderful!
Nested in the forest, you follow a trail of homemade dreamcatchers, walk through the huge willow tunnel and into the tent which is made from recycled materials and sustainably sourced wood.

 

 

Amy fills her bill with a wonderful selection of local poets and musicians - some of who are veterans of spoken words and other up and coming. I particularly enjoyed watching Dan Clark host the event as I have seen him perform before but not host. Tom the Zengineer brought some hip-hop inspired Buddhist poetry to the stage and it was amazing. Bards Aloud dulcet tones soothed me as he told some lovely stories - watch out for his forest PoetWalks. Meg Burrows and Leanne Moden were wonderful to watch as always and Punk Rock Granny really stole the show. I recommend that you check them out and follow them on social media for updates!

 

Soapbox stage was one of the nicest gigs that I have done at a festival and everybody was incredibly talented. FolkEast was a great weekend and I really enjoyed spending some quality time with my poet friends. Thank you Amy for having me! 

 

 

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Peter's Day Out

28/7/2016

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On Saturday 23rd Carter Jonas and Method Creative worked together to create a lovely event at Hodson's Folly in Newnham. There was yoga for families, storytelling by Arianna who was dressed as Bellatrix Potter, poetry from us (Allographic Poets) and lots of yummy food from Steak & Honour and Jack's Gelato. There was even a visit from Peter Rabbit! The event was created to raise awareness for the ongoing restoration project which you can find more about here.

 

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In Other Words Is Tomorrow!!

16/6/2016

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A major new event is scheduled to take place in Cambridge this midsummer. Across 17th and 19th June, the city will witness In Other Words: a literary fringe festival celebrating alternative voices, accessible art and the voice of the people. The festival also hosts the selection and inauguration of the Bard of Cambridge, the first ever such position for the city.

Cambridge already successfully plays host to the Cambridge Literary Festival and Cambridge University’s Festival of Ideas. These curate fantastic programmes, but often showcase the already famous and acclaimed.
In Other Words will be a festival of language based on the power of community and communication, showcasing and creating space for up-and-coming writers/ performers and amplifying the voice of the people, not the voice of established institutions. It will highlight both written and spoken word, and will take the form of publication, performance, and exhibition using generously donated free venues around the city. Where applicable, the Festival will ask for donations to cover running costs rather than charge audiences or artists.
The Fringe Festival aims to involve all local alternative artistic groups and individuals who wish to be involved – including the happily eccentric, the politically marginalised, and the voices that don’t have as big a platform as they need or deserve. It is a means to bring other voices and different perspectives to the forefront of Cambridge's cultural language within a well-supported framework, further raising the city's national profile as a rich and diverse centre for the arts.
The final event of the festival will be the trials of the would-be bards and the “chairing” of the winning Bard of Cambridge on Sunday 19th Jun, 7:30pm, Cambridge Junction.

 

The Schedule: 

Friday, 17 June
6:00pm - Please, Just Watch Me! (Jack Bateman)
7:30pm - In Other Words Anthology Launch

Saturday, 18 June
12:30pm- Haragei (Myriam San Marco)
1:15pm - High Stakes - A Spooken Word Show (Cardinal Cox)
2:30pm - Dan Simpson: Nerdsmith
3:45pm - The Sleeping Princess (Hel Robin Gurney)
5:00pm -The Selkie - A Song of Many Waters (Fay Roberts)
7:30pm -The Anti-Slam (Part of In Other Words)

Sunday, 19 June
11:00am - Workshop - Writing for the Stage : Sally Jenkinson
2:00pm - Masterclass - Polish, Hone, Perform with Sally Jenkinson
7:30pm - Cambridge Bardic Trials 2016

 

Who will be the next Bard?


he team behind the festival include: Fay Roberts, Nikki Marrone (who has curated an anthology of Cambridgeshire voices in a brand new publication to match the philosophy of the festival), Rebecca Lindum Greene (who designed the festival’s logo), Uppahar Subba, J.S. Watts, Mark McGivern, Emma Ormond, and Wesley Freeman-Smith. Jill Eastland of Rebel Arts is creating the Bard’s unique chair for the ceremony.
Fay commented: “We already have local support for this concept. We are now looking to get further funding – via a mixture of crowdfunding and fund-raisers.
“We need to raise money to pay for: venues (rather than the artists having to pay); publicity; insurance; fees for workshop providers; nominal fees/ travel expenses for slightly larger-name artists to headline the evening events; props and prizes for the Bardic Chairing Ceremony, etc. We will be using volunteer help and free venues where possible, but there are inevitably some costs we will still need to cover.
“We believe this is a unique venture, and hope that – if this first year is successful – we can go on to raise the voices of the people of Cambridge for many years to come!”

ind us on social media: 

In Other Words website: http://bit.ly/caminotherwords
In Other Words Faceook Page: http://www.facebook.com/caminotherwords
Cambridge Bard website: http://bit.ly/voiceforcambridge
Cambridge Bard Twitter: http://twitter.com/cambridgebard
In Other Words Crowdfunder on IndieGoGo: https://igg.me/at/caminotherwords