I hope you are doing okay. A lot has been happening, and the world can seem so tiring and frustrating - and yet there are so many beautiful things in it. I have found comfort in community: the groups of women, queer people, writers and/or artists I know, who are doing amazing things to help others. I am very thankful for their friendship, support and inspiration.
This has been a time of change in my life, as I have been making the transition from working full-time in marketing, to being self-employed as a tutor and writer. It is a less steady and predictable life, but I know that it has been the right decision for me. Working more flexibly has really helped my wellbeing, and some positive things have already begun to happen.
On my birthday in early March, I received some amazing news - I have been selected by Dibby Theatre for the First Dibs programme for LGBTQ+ writers. I will receive training and financial support to develop my spoken-word show-in-progress. My show will bring together my poems based around water - from a queer mermaid, to sea otters, to pilot whales.
It has been lovely to meet my four fellow First-Dibbers, and the team at Dibby Theatre. I am really looking forward to continuing this journey together.
I have also been commissioned by Beatfreeks for their The Little Things project, and I have created a spoken-word project thanking the people and groups who have helped get me through this difficult, different year. I am excited to debut my piece next week.
I will also be leading a workshop "The magic in the mundane" for Durham University Poetry Society on 3rd April. I am very excited to create and share this workshop, and would love to see you there.
I have recently had a number of poems published that are very personal to me. "The golden hare", inspired by my long-distance birthday surprise for my Mam, was published by Ink, Sweat & Tears.
"The Mint Lounge, Manchester, December 2018", celebrating a pivotal night out for me in embracing my identity, was published by Severine.
My poem "Lost in a jumper", about body image and self-love, was published by Selcouth Station in their Winter 2020 issue.
My poems "Release", "What I have to say", and "Creation" have been published by Visual Verse, inspired by the project's monthly image prompts, as well as by themes such as mental health, queerness, fertility, finding my voice, and coming of age.
I love working with indie zines, and have been part of two recently. My copies of both zines arrived in the same post, which was pretty cool. My poem "One day" appears in Butch, curated by Carson Wolfe, and "Honey Clove and Sea Jasmine" was chosen for Relationships from Coin-Operated Press.
One of my main aims at this point in my career is to collaborate in new ways; trying to be as innovative as possible, and making my work accessible to new audiences. A great example was to be able to share my poem "Pilot" for A Tale of Cork for St Patrick's Day.
You can also read "Pilot" in the GASP anthology here.
I was thrilled to be part of the International Women's Day show from Open Collab. I performed my poem "You are warm", about accepting my queer identity, and musicians Charlie and Jake transformed my words into a rich, magical soundscape.
They added in words from poet Mary Olive who, like me, shared her experiences of queerness and the importance of role models. Hearing the two together, with the music, was so, so special. The gig is below, and you find our part here.
I attended the GM4Women conference, and learnt about some of the issues and inequalities that women are currently facing in Greater Manchester, and the work that is being done to improve things.
I shared my poem "Célines at Cannes", which was inspired by queer female filmmaker Céline Sciamma, and the ten-minute standing ovation she received at Cannes for Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a film with an entirely-female main cast. Whenever I watch that moment - below - I feel so empowered.
I was showcased by Young Identity for World Poetry Day last weekend, with a film of me performing my poem "Arrival".
I love attending open-mic nights: I perform at Sale Out Loud every month and, in March, I paid my first virtual visit to Testify, which was a cosy, supportive evening.
The Writing Squad and Louise Essex hosted The Home Concert, and I felt so honoured perform alongside some incredibly talented people.
I also love workshops, and attended one celebrating long, sprawling poems with Laura Scott and The Poetry Business. I have also enjoyed a wide range of workshops from The Writing Squad: Malika Booker on poem sequences, Andy Owen Cook on experimenting with media, Gregory Kearns on the use of number in poems, and Stevie Ronnie on ekphrastic writing.
I guest-hosted the Writing Squad's Poetry Goals group, and enjoyed getting to know my lovely fellow poets even better.
As part of an LGBT Foundation workshop led by Seleena Laverne Daye, I created this zine, inspired by my sense of fluidity in my gender, body and identity:
Foxglove Journal had a recent open submissions period, and I am currently reading some really exciting writing, which I can't wait to share. We showcase a new poem or story every week.
I was overjoyed to be re-elected as Head of Media and PR for the Village Bakers, and I look forward to bringing you more newsletters - you can see our last one here. This group have been brilliant for me, bringing me confidence in my baking and my queerness.
I am also enjoying being a Young Ambassador for AKT, and have been doing some leadership training through them.
I took part in a really useful and fun theatre course with Oldham Coliseum, and have now joined one of their social groups for writers and creatives.
I have also completed a cooking course with Cracking Good Food, and am proud of what I have created.
This feels like a time of learning and exploring for me, and I am living day by day, appreciating where I am and who I have in my life. The future is uncertain, but there are some bright, hopeful things ahead.
Thank you so much for reading, and sharing my journey.