Sunday, 1 September 2019

Visual Verse - When you told me about pigs

 Hello! Oink!


 Just letting you know that my flash fiction piece "When you told me about pigs" has been published in Visual Verse. For August's issue we were challenged to respond to the above image by Jacob Owens.

 I hope you enjoy my story.

 Liz x

Starring on AndWhatTV!

 Hello!



 I am very happy that my poem "Blood ghazal", which previously appeared in GASP, is this week's featured spoken-word piece at AndWhatTV! You can see me perform it here.


 We drove all around Manchester one cold, sunny morning, finding the perfect spot to film. I hope you enjoy the result. I am always surprised by how Northern I sound!

 Thank you to Nicole May for organising, and to everyone who has supported my spoken-word work.

 Liz x

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Speak Easy, Stretford - A summer adventure

 Hello!


 Having performed at a number of the central Manchester spoken-word nights, such as One Mic Stand, Speak!, Bad Language, the Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op and Stirred, I started venturing further out. I recently read at Verbose in Levenshulme, which was lovely, and this week I tried out Speak Easy in Stretford.

 I had never been to Stretford, and as it was a sunny evening, I decided to walk there from the centre of Manchester after work. The journey took me around an hour and a half, and I stopped from time to time to talk photos in the lovely summer light.



 I arrived at Stretford Sip Club and enjoyed a fun and genuinely varied night of performance, with a mix of humour, seriousness, and some singing, which was quite different and refreshing. It was really nice when everyone got the chorus and joined in.

 I enjoyed performing my poetry to a new crowd, and was really happy to be invited back to do a longer set. I hope to return - watch this space! I caught a tram back to Manchester, as walking all the way back might have been a bit much! But I am glad I walked there.

 Thanks to Speak Easy for having me, and to the warm and welcoming audience, and thank you for reading my blog and sharing my adventures.

 Liz x

Thursday, 4 July 2019

News - Spring 2019

 Hello!


 Happy July! I am settled in my new job and greatly enjoying life in Manchester. I have been taking part in a number of creative events, from meeting the recent US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, to being a member of the newly-formed International Foundation of Us, and having my jumper and scarf become archive items.

 In May I took part in my second film-making weekend in Sheffield with the Writing Squad, and this time I had a starring role! I hope you enjoy Five New Messages and my acting debut as Catherine, the hotel cleaner.


 I reviewed The Space Between by Meg Grehan for North West Libraries' Time to Read blog - I hope you enjoy reading about one of my favourite books.

 I received a free ticket to see Siri Hustvedt at Manchester Literature Festival, as a member of the Festival's YA Steering Group. On a gorgeous spring evening, I headed to Deansgate Waterstones to hear Siri read from her new book, Memories of the Future, and then discuss it with Katie Popperwell. Siri is clearly incredibly intelligent, with her own way of seeing the world and fascinating ideas about time and memory. It was a thought-provoking event.

 I then attended the launch of Manchester Metropolitan University's journal aAh!, at which my friend Laura Potts performed her poetry. It was lovely to hear her, and we enjoyed a meal out afterwards.


 The next day was the Northern Publishers' Fair at Manchester Central Library. I learnt about so many presses and publications, and met some cool people. I had a nice chat with Jo Clement, Editor of Butcher's Dog Magazine, and bought Issue 11, which I read in one sitting and really enjoyed.

 I took part in two spoken-word nights in three days, with Verbose on Monday and Bad Language on Wednesday. It was intense, but fulfilling and fun. May's Verbose had the theme of Zodiac, and I shared my poem "Dogteeth", among others. My set at Bad Language included "Blood ghazal" and "Arrival". At both events I chatted to some new people and had a good time. I also discovered Levenshulme and its colourful bee!


 Again through the Manchester Literature Festival Steering Group, I was offered the chance to see Tracy K. Smith in conversation with Jackie Kay at the Central Library. It was an incredibly rainy June night, but for a couple of hours my world was lit up by incredible poetry and a great chat between two amazing women. I met both afterwards and got my books signed. They were so sweet and really uplifted me.

 I attended a Writing Squad workshop at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, at which we decided to start the International Foundation of Us. We reviewed books we love - guess which is mine! - catalogued our possessions and made podcasts in which we discussed our creative inspirations and work. We also ate a lot of chocolate and grapes. It was a gentle and memorable day.

 The poem I wrote during the Writing Squad Lunch Poems workshop in Leeds earlier this year is also now online - I hope you enjoy "Sweet".


 So, that was my spring, writing-wise. I'm hoping to keep the energy going for a positive, creative summer. I already have some new and exciting things lined up, from mentoring to festivals to radio to poetic film, so watch this space!

 Thanks for reading.

 Liz x

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Writing Squad - Lunch Poems in Leeds

 Hello!


 As a graduate of The Writing Squad, I was delighted to get the chance to visit Leeds to take part in a workshop with poet Andrew McMillan and photographer Lizzie Coombes.

 At Yorkshire Dance, our base, Andrew shared some poems capturing place and city life, and we discussed them. Lizzie gave a presentation on the history of street photography, from which I learnt a lot. She gave us some tips, and then we headed out into Leeds to take some photos.

 It was great to be reunited with my friend and fellow writer Laura Potts. We ate lunch together, and it was lovely to catch up.


 Some of the things I spotted and try to capture on our travels were a brolly in a bin, a lone baby boot sitting on a post, a rainbow mosaic, fruit sellers at the market, multicoloured rolls of carpet, many pigeons, and a man working in a sweetshop, who inspired a poem I wrote on our return to the group.

 I hope to do something more with these photos, so for now I will abstain from posting them, except for the rainbow above. I performed the first draft of my sweetshop poem to the group, and it received really nice feedback. It may well be appearing online soon, so I look forward to sharing it with you.

 I returned to Manchester feeling happy and accomplished, having drunk three hot chocolates, taken lots of photographs, written a few poems including one I really liked, and spent the day with cool people.

 Thanks to Steve, Andrew, Lizzie, Laura, Lydia and the rest of the crew for creating such an encouraging and relaxed atmosphere. I hope to be able to take part in many more workshops.

 Liz x

Queers of Manchester, and "Arrival"

 Hello!

Photograph by Tom Quaye

 I felt incredibly proud to be featured by Queers of Manchester on their Facebook and Instagram pages. 

 Tom Quaye took the above photo of me, which I love, and you can also read my poem "Arrival". This sonnet describes my growing sense of belonging in Manchester, having previously lived in a number of different places.

 Many thanks to Queers of Manchester for choosing me and showcasing my writing, and to everybody who has responded so positively and kindly to the posts - it feels amazing.

 Liz x

Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op #3

 Hello!


 I was very happy to be invited to perform at the third edition of the Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op. This is a spoken-word night with a difference - each of the five guests reads their own work, a piece by another writer, and some song lyrics that they admire or which have a personal meaning for them.

 It was a beautiful evening, with spring just arriving. I made my way to Gullivers, a venue I really like and where I performed last year, at Bad Language.


 I would be reading first, which was slightly daunting, but I embraced the challenge. I was very moved when my friends Hayley and Andy arrived to support me - it was lovely to be able to share my passion for poetry and performance with them.

 I read four of my poems which, although I chose them primarily because I liked them, happened to be a good taster of my work, touching on some of my key themes.

 These included bodies and identity in "Blood ghazal", travel, nature and memory in "Peaches", destiny and chance in "17th February", and Manchester and belonging in "Arrival".

 For the poem by somebody else, I chose "Venus" by Carol Ann Duffy, as I love its simplicity, and how it combines very intimate moments with a moment watched by people all over the world - a lover's body with the transit of Venus.

 For my song lyrics, I recited "Point Hope", by Indigo Girls, written by Amy Ray. Amy is a big inspiration to me as a writer, and I chose "Point Hope" because its message is so important, and because for me it is a remarkable example of how to write respectfully and well about something that seems so awful as to be unwritable.

 I enjoyed hearing the other four performers, including Jane Bradley, with whom I got talking after the gig, and who had some remarkable stories to share involving togas and babies. She hosts the spoken-word night That's What She Said, which I hope to visit soon and maybe even perform at.

 I hadn't known exactly what to expect from the Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op, but it turned out to be a wonderful night out, and I certainly intend to return for more poems and song lyrics, and the great sense of camaraderie and support.

 If you would like to invite me to perform at an event, please do get in touch.

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

Sunday, 17 March 2019

News - January and February 2019

 Hello!


 Since my last news update, Spring has been slowly making its way to Manchester. I am enjoying my job and flat, and exploring parts of the city I didn't really know as a student. I have been very busy, but have made time for hobbies such as baking and singing and, of course, my creative writing.

 I have been attending Young Identity regularly, and learning so much. It really is like a family, and one of the highlights of my week. Through Young Identity I took part in my first poetry slam, One Mic Stand, which was an important experience for me, and a quietly empowering one.


 I shared my poem "Campfire", about health and body image. Through it I discuss some painful moments, but the tone is of comfort and hope.

 I also represented Young Identity at Big Words, a cosy and fun spoken-word night in Chorlton. I read four poems, which all mentioned blood - it wasn't intentional but ended up being quite a nice link! You can read one of them, my "Blood ghazal", online in the Poetry School's anthology GASP.

 I took the train to Liverpool to attend the launch event for both Coast to Coast to Coast, and pamphlets by Jane Lovell and Rebecca Gethin - the latter of whom I have had the pleasure of publishing in Foxglove Journal.


 I heard some beautiful and unusual poetry, and watched the sun set over the docks. It was a memorable evening.

 I enjoyed a writing workshop by Malika Booker here in Manchester, with The Writing Squad. I learnt some new writing exercises and took fellow participant and poet Laura Potts on a magical mystery tour of Manchester in search of inspiration.

 We visited Emmeline Pankhurst and ended up in Chinatown. 



 We also wrote a poem about lemons. It was a strange and lovely day.

 I have been continuing my year as a Digital Reporter at HOME, learning new skills and polishing old ones. So far in 2019, we have had masterclasses in filming and editing video, and working with audio. I am really enjoying getting to know the group and creating little projects I can be proud of.

 Issue 62 of Now Then Manchester's Word Life had the theme of "Magic" and was a really nice one to curate - I hope you enjoy it. We have also had some powerful poetry and fiction in Foxglove Journal.

 I received an exciting piece of news: I have been announced as a winner of Hedgehog Poetry Press' Tree Poets Competition and will be published in the pamphlet Tree Poets: Flames of Ice later this year. There will hopefully be a launch event - watch this space! 

 I look forward to sharing this set of poems, which are inspired by my time living in France and explore nature, body and mind, and identity.



 Finally, my short story, "On earth, looking up" has been published by Visual Verse and is free to read online - I hope you enjoy this tale of fish, stargazing and wondering whether it is ever too late to take a chance.

 Thanks for taking the time to read my news and share my writing journey. You can also keep up with me on Twitter and Instagram.

 Have a lovely couple of months!

 Liz x

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Young Identity at Big Words, Chorlton

 Hello!


 I was invited as a member of Young Identity to perform at spoken word night Big Words at Vinyl Fiction in Chorlton. 

 I hadn't been to Chorlton in five years, and had a mini-adventure hopping on a tram and heading off into the sunset. It was a relief to see the familiar shape of the big Morrisons, as well as some blossomy trees and Brewski, where I stopped to enjoy a halloumi burger and sticky toffee pudding.


 I arrived at Vinyl Fiction and settled in for a really nice night. I heard some amazing work, both from my Young Identity friends, and from writers who were new to me, and who I am happy to have discovered. 

 I shared my "Blood ghazal" from the anthology GASP, as well as some of my newer poems, to a great reception - the audience was attentive and warm, and having my friends there, smiling at me and finger-clicking at their favourite lines, was extra-lovely.

 With enthusiastic hosts, a game of Vinyl Fictionary (nothing at all like Pictionary...) in which I correctly guessed an answer (Van Morrison), and little touches such as our names being written up nicely on a board behind us, it was fun, and cosy, and I will definitely be attending Big Words again.

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

One Mic Stand - February 2019

 Hello!

Photo by Alex Morgan

 Having been a regular member of Young Identity for around six months now (having previously attended on and off as university life allowed), I was overjoyed to be able to take part in my first One Mic Stand, the collective's showcase poetry slam at Band on the Wall.

 I was one of ten poets competing for a prize of £50, although winning was far from my mind as I performed - just standing on the stage and sharing my poem, "Campfire", which is quite personal and very close to my heart, was an empowering and memorable experience.

 I scored 51/60 overall, including a 10/10 from one judge for my content, which was wonderful. The winner was Saf, whose performance was intense and powerful. I loved hearing all of my friends from Young Identity sharing their work, and overall it was an amazing night.

 Thank you to Young Identity and Shirley May for making this happen, to Nicole May and Reece Williams for hosting, and to the lovely, supportive audience.

 Liz x

Now Then - Word Life 62

 Hello!


 Issue 62 of Now Then Manchester's Word Life was fun to curate as it  was all about "Magic". I hope you enjoy this selection of creative writing, whose authors interpreted the theme in many ways, from fantastical to humorous to poignant. 

 We have work from Kersten Christianson, Joan McNerney, Linda Imbler, Joyce Graham, Ann Christine Tabaka, Sarah Hulme, Roy Moller, Kayleigh Jayshree Hicks and Ken Allan Dronsfield. There are also the usual listings for literary events in and around Manchester.

 I hope you enjoy Word Life 62.

 Liz x

Hedgehog Poetry Press - The Tree Poets Competition

 Hello!


 I am delighted to have been chosen as a winner of Hedgehog Poetry Press' Tree Poets Competition!I will be one of three poets to have their work showcased in the pamphlet Tree Poets: Flames of Ice

 I am very happy that I will be sharing this space with the lovely Kate Garrett, who I met at a Stirred night and whose writing I deeply admire. The third poet, Kay Channon, I have chatted to on Twitter, and I am really looking forward to getting to know her work.

 My set of poems is from my time living in the south of France, and includes imagery connected to travel, nature, the body and mind, and memory. 

 The Tree Poets: Flames of Ice is due out in spring/summer 2019, and there will be a launch at which I hope to perform - watch this space!

 Liz x

Friday, 18 January 2019

Visual Verse - On earth, looking up

 Hello!


 My short fiction piece "On earth, looking up" has been published at Visual Verse! This month's prompt was the above image by Matt Boyce.

 I hope you enjoy my story about space, fish, and whether it is ever really too late to try something new.

 Liz x

News - November and December 2018

 Hello!

Edinburgh Christmas Market

 So much has happened in the last couple of months - I started my new job and moved into my flat, which has been really exciting. Living in Manchester has allowed me to get to creative events here much more easily, and my life has been very full and fun.

 I was so happy to be chosen by HOME to be a Digital Reporter, taking part in a year-long series of workshops and opportunities. So far we have studied blogging, photography and film, and I undertook my first assignment: to review John Walter's exhibition CAPSID for HOME's website.

 I have also had some poetry published: perhaps ironically, the month I moved back to Manchester, my poem "Leaving Manchester" appeared in Visual Verse! Despite the title, however, the poem describes how I always do end up coming back. It was also a joy to see my poem "Oyster" in beautiful print journal Confingo.

 I was honoured to have two poems, "A cave" and "Finding the fish", in the last-ever issue of Far Off Places, and was invited to attend the launch in Edinburgh. I enjoyed a very special and memorable trip, exploring, performing my work and getting to know some really nice people.

 I also travelled to York, to read at the Northern Poetry Showcase and Roadshow as a winner of the Northern Writers' Awards. Although I only got to spend one evening in the city, it was great to get a taster, and I would really like to return in the future. 

 Another performance highlight was the launch of Young Identity's anthology No Disclaimers, in which I have two poems. The event was incredibly lovely, with a chance to share my work, hear my amazingly talented fellow YI members read their poems, and then chill, chat and celebrate.

 I performed at two Mancunian spoken-word nights for the first time, sharing my poems at Flim Nite (on the theme of one of my favourite films, Pan's Labyrinth) and Speak. They were very different experiences, and I learnt a lot from both. 

 Around Christmas I received the news that I had been long-listed in the Writers' HQ From LGBTQ+ With Love flash fiction competition. It kind of caught me off-guard, and was just a really nice thing to happen.

 I am still curating Word Life, and enjoying the huge range of poems and stories I am sent. November's issue had the theme of "Gifts", and December's was a Young Identity showcase, which made it extra-special for me to edit.

 I also had the chance to interview spoken-word stars Keisha Thompson, Shirley May and Frankie Blaus, and review Keisha's show Man on the Moon, for Now Then Manchester. I am still wrapping my head around Man on the Moon - Keisha moved and inspired me so much.

 2018 was certainly the year I embraced my own passion for spoken-word poetry and found the courage to perform far more often - I shared my work at least seventeen times over the year, at launches, festivals, fundraisers and spoken-word nights.

 Considering I performed maybe twice in 2017, this feels like a huge step forward for me. I am proud of myself, and thankful to those who have supported me - being part of Young Identity and The Writing Squad has certainly contributed towards my confidence.

 Overall, I had a very busy end to the year - but a productive, enjoyable and empowering one. I resolved to write more poetry in the New Year, and so far have managed a little every day. Here's to a creative and hopeful 2019.

 Thank you so much for following my writing adventures.

 Liz x

Monday, 31 December 2018

Young Identity - 2018 highlights

 Hello!

Keisha Thompson and Reece Williams presenting One Mic Stand

 I was a member of Mancunian spoken-word collective Young Identity for the final few months of 2017, but it was in 2018 that I really got stuck in and attended regularly (before that it had been difficult due to me living in a catered university residence, with meal times clashing with workshops). 

 I now take part in the group every week that I can, and it has become like a family to me. Everybody has been incredibly supportive and has made me feel comfortable sharing my writing, even when I have only just written it and it still feels very raw. 

 Having a space to practise performing has been invaluable to me in a year when I have hugely increased the amount of spoken-word work that I do. It is also humbling hearing the wonderful work of the other writers - we are all so different, and I get to learn about the world in so many ways, through so many voices.

 Special highlights have included attending One Mic Stand, Young Identity's own poetry slam, and being awed by the talent of the performance teams, and reading at the launch of our anthology No Disclaimers - such a lovely night of friendship and creativity.

 I enjoyed curating a special Young Identity edition of Word Life, and putting together a feature on the group, interviewing CEO Shirley May, and poet and editor Frankie Blaus.

 I was also delighted to review Keisha Thompson's show Man on the Moon, and interview her - Keisha was a core member of Young Identity, and her talent for spoken word, music and storytelling really inspires me.

 Thank you to Shirley, who has been so encouraging to me, and to everyone at the group, with shout-outs to Toreh O'Garro, Nicole May, Nasima Begum and Roma Havers for making me feel so welcome.

 I'm very much looking forward to seeing what is next for Young Identity in 2019.

 Liz x

The Writing Squad - 2018 highlights

 Hello!

Leeds

 This year I officially graduated from The Writing Squad, after two years of workshops and events. However, the great thing about the Squad is that even as a graduate you stay a part of the community and can be very much involved.

 This year, one Squad moment really stands out, and is one of my proudest achievements as a writer. I was commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival to write an original piece about what reading means to me, to encourage young people - and older ones - to read for enjoyment.

 I was incredibly proud to share "On stories and snow" at the Take Ten event at Manchester Central Library, and it felt like a major milestone for me as a spoken-word performer.

 I also attended two Writing Squad workshops, which both happened to be in Leeds. The first was with Hannah Silva, who taught as about performance techniques and technologies, such as using a looping pedal. 

 She also performed for us, and her work blew my mind in how different and brave it is, and how precise her timings have to be for the pieces to work. I was really inspired to try new things and grow as a performer.

 The second workshop was led by Stevie Ronnie, who shared his passion for making books and pamphlets. We learnt how to make precise cuts and folds in paper, and basic book-binding stitches. This workshop included a number of Squad members I hadn't met before, so I made some new friends.

 It was interesting to be so hands-on in a publishing process, making these precious, limited-edition items, and it made me much more aware of the possibilities in putting my work out there. I would definitely consider creating a small run of handmade zines or pamphlets.

 I discussed with Stevie how I wanted to work on the structure and presentation of my poetry on the page, and he was really helpful. Hopefully we can talk more about this in the future.

 I also met with Steve Dearden, the Squad Director, to generally discuss my writing and what will come next. I'm really looking forward to 2019 and moving forward as a creative.

 Thanks for reading, and thank you to everyone who has followed my writing career so far.

 Liz x

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Northern Poetry Showcase and Roadshow

 Hello!


 I had an enjoyable night performing at the Northern Poetry Showcase and Roadshow at York St John University. I was invited as one of the five 2017-18 New North Poets, and read three of my poems to an attentive audience. 

 It has been a whirlwind year since I won my Northern Writers' Award. I have been mentored by Clare Pollard, attended two writing retreats , been published in GASP, and felt my poems strengthen. The Showcase was a cosy and fun way to celebrate the journey we New North Poets have been on.

 Thank you to the Poetry School, New Writing North, and everyone else who has supported my writing.

 Liz x

HOME Digital Reporters and CAPSID

 Hello!

From CAPSID by John Walter

 I am very happy to have been chosen as a Digital Reporter this year by HOME, Manchester, a really cool venue where I have previously been involved in projects such as Young Identity, Young Curators and Creative Stars.

 Being a Digital Reporter means having monthly masterclasses, and so far we have studied blogging and photography. In the New Year we will be looking at film. I am enjoying the project so far, and looking forward to what is to come.


 My first assignment as a Digital Reporter was to review John Walter's CAPSID for HOME's website. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on this fascinating and different art exhibition.

 Liz x

Now Then - Young Identity

 Hello!


 Issue 61 of Now Then Manchester includes a feature I put together on Young Identity. I was very happy to be able to interview the spoken-word collective's co-founder and CEO Shirley May, and Frankie Blaus, a member of the group and one of the Editors of new anthology No Disclaimers.

 The pair discuss what makes Young Identity so special, and the journey to creating No Disclaimers. There is also a beautiful poem by Joel Cordingley, "Nervous Disposition", as a taster of the anthology.

 I hope you enjoy learning more about Young Identity - the group has been so supportive and encouraging to me as a writer and has really helped me grow.

 Liz x

Now Then - Word Life 61

 Hello!


 December's issue of Now Then Manchester's Word Life page is a special showcase of writing by Mancunian spoken-word collective Young Identity. As a proud member of the group, I really enjoyed curating this month's issue.

 I hope you enjoy these poems by Toreh O'Garro, Shirley May, Ayomide Abolaji, Will Spence, Rabia Tanweer, Yorusalem Okbamichael and Tallulah Howarth.

 There is also the usual information about literary events in and around Manchester.

 I hope you enjoy Word Life 61!

 Liz x