I hope you are well. I have been enjoying spring - it has been lovely to see friends for the first time in a year, have picnics, and go for walks. There has been blossom, fluffy goslings and cygnets, bees and bluebells, and I have been feeling hopeful and positive.
Grants and commissions
Amazing news - I have been awarded a DYCP grant from Arts Council England, to develop my poetry and performance skills. My focus will be on really embracing and owning my queerness in my work, and I will be mentored by some fantastic poets. I cannot wait to get started.
At the end of March, I delivered my "The Little Things" commission for Beetfreaks, and we had a lovely presentation evening. I performed my spoken-word piece, "Rockpools", which looks back over the first year of the pandemic, and how different communities supported me. I am currently working on putting together a film version to share on here, so watch this space!
The First Dibs theatre-writing course is going well, and I am building up my spoken-word show. We have had guest workshops from Leo Skilbeck, Louise Wallwein, Cheryl Martin, and Scottee & Friends. I am enjoying the course literature - Temi Wilkey's The High Table and Philip Ridley's Vincent River were especially moving.
I work as a languages tutor, and I had been hoping to start tutoring poetry as well. So, it was brilliant to deliver my first solo poetry workshop, to Durham Poetry Society. Entitled "The magic in the mundane", I crafted the workshop around finding moments of magic in our daily lives, at a time when travel, adventures and excitement can be limited.
I also led a segment of the Writing Squad's "Workshop workshop", which was a series of mini-workshops led by different writers. My section looked at mythical creatures, exploring them in new ways, and using humour. The writers came up with many different characters, with drafts involving centaurs, gnomes, mermaids, flower fairies, and more.
Publications and collaborations
My favourite thing as a writer is working with other people to create something amazing, and there has been so much of that recently to creatively fulfil me. I hope that this continues.
Firstly, my poem "Whale baby" has been published in the Growth Issue of Popshot, and illustrated by Simona de Leo. Her artwork is perfect for the poem, and makes me happy whenever I look at it.
My poem explores different options that I have considered for having a child as a queer woman, as well as the equally-valid option of not choosing that path at all. That this poem has found a place in such a widely-read magazine feels really empowering, and I hope that it will reach and comfort people.
Secondly, Unheard Poetry have made a gorgeous film from my poem "The frog pool" - you can watch it by clicking the orange title. The poem is also below.
"The frog pool" is part of the Dreams for Green series, which is a celebration of our planet and a call to protect it. I feel incredibly strongly about this, and write about it often. So, I was really happy to be part of Earth Zine from Coin-Operated Press, with my eco-poem "How to draw a fish".
The poem was then also featured in the Press' 2020-2021 Annual, which was really cool.
More excitement came when my poem "Winter blazer" was chosen for the first-ever issue of Skirting Around, a magazine exploring clothes and identity.
My poem tells the story of the first time I bought and wore a "men's" suit blazer, and the range of emotions that it made me feel. I filmed myself reading the poem for the website (wearing the very blazer!), and also read live at the launch, which was a really fun evening.
Three of my poems were published in the Amy Ray Zine. Songwriter Amy Ray is one of my biggest inspirations, in my writing, activism, and being comfortable with my identity. It was an honour to be part of the zine, which was created to celebrate Amy on her birthday in April.
It is also lovely to have two of my queer poems in Issue Three of Queerlings - I had hoped to be part of this journal for a while. I hope you enjoy "My other half" and "Indigo nights".
I am also pleased to have three poems - "Imperfect days", "The player", and "Why you should exist" in the She Speaks anthology from Tipping the Scales. You can read it online here, or buy the paperback here.
In May, my poem "Risen" was published in Visual Verse. We were challenged to respond to this intriguing image by an Unknown Artist.
I also have poems coming up in Lighthouse, The Adriatic, and Under the Radar, and my queer coming-of-age short story "Siren" is going to be published in York Literary Review. I can't wait to share them all with you.
Finally, as always, Foxglove Journal publishes a poem or fiction piece every week - I love editing and taking the photos for Foxglove, and am proud of how the site has grown. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Spoken-word, events and workshops
I was a featured act at Open Dyke Night, run by LQW, and performed five of my most passionate and rallying poems, addressing queerness, self-love, belonging, and the environment. The audience were warm and supportive, all the acts were brilliant, and it was a very special evening.
My poem "Pilot" was showcased by Young Identity for Earth Day, with a film of me performing it. It is so important to me to keep sharing this message - we need to reduce waste, stop polluting the oceans, and protect whales and other animals.
I shared a film of my poem "What I always wanted poetry to tell me", to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. You can also read the poem at Popshot, here.
I took part in two editing workshops, one with The Writing Squad and Charlotte Wetton, and one with Fly on the Wall and Nikki Dudley. They were quite different, and it was interesting to get new perspectives. I certainly feel that I have more tools now for editing my poems.
I have also enjoyed workshops with Andrew McMillan and Sarah Fletcher through the Poetry Business, and with Rachel Long, Steve Dearden, Sian Meades-Williams, Jamal Gerald and Keisha Thompson through The Writing Squad. Having access to these organisations has been so helpful to me throughout the pandemic.
Baking, languages and other fun
It was lovely seeing many of my friends from Village Bakers in person for the first time in over a year, when we met for our socially-distanced Spring Picnic in Heaton Park. I enjoyed discovering a rainbow ice-cream cone!
You can read all about the Picnic, and much more, in our Spring Newsletter, which I curated as Head of Media and PR. It features delicious bakes by our members, an interview with lovely baker Sakander, and my poem "Apple crumble", which talks about baking and mental health.
I am very proud to have completed the Irish course on Duolingo, and I am now continuing my work on Mandarin Chinese, as well as starting Finnish. I will let you know how it goes.
That's all for now! Many thanks for reading, and for sharing my writing journey. I hope you have a lovely summer - or winter, depending on where in the world you are!