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May 7

“OCR and the English Media Centre say of their new syllabus: “It ranges from classics such as the…”

“OCR and the English Media Centre say of their new syllabus: “It ranges from classics such as the poems of Emily Dickinson and William Blake to memoirs like Twelve Years A Slave and contemporary works including the poetry of Jacob Sam-La Rose, Jez Butterworth’s stage play Jerusalem, fiction by Jhumpa Lahiri and Russell Brand’s evidence on drugs policy presented to the House of Commons.””

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Russell Brand and Dizzee Rascal to feature in new English language and literature A-level - People - News - The Independent

Woke up this morning to find Mention1 buzzing with notifications, all pointing towards a new A/AS level English Literature and Language syllabus, and the fact that my work has been included. Happy joy.2

This, at 6.30am, followed shortly after by an invitation to speak on a BBC London breakfast show just after 8. The interview was brief, and to be frank, I misread it. I was hoping I’d get an opportunity to mention some of the work that’s happening in the UK with poetry where it meets young people at the moment— I wanted to mention the Spoken Word Educators project at least. If I had time, I may have referenced the Barbican Young Poets, Burn After Reading, the Roundhouse Poets, Stratford East Young Poets (Kat Francois), the Spoke Word Cup (via Apples & Snakes), the Spoke Young Poet Laureate programme, the Upward Bound SLAM initiative, the Ark Academy SLAM programme; and further afield— Young Identity (Manchester), the Wordsmith Awards (Manchester), Leeds Young Authors, Write Down Speak Up (Birmingham), Mouthy Poets (Nottingham), BeatRoots (Birmingham) and all the other transformative youth-facing work that’s happening in Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Southampton and across the country. I’d have celebrated how, while poetry seems to escape its niches and confines to enjoy a cyclical boost of appreciation and popularity in mainstream consciousness (every 5-7 years or so), it really does feel as if there’s some fantastic sustained work happening “on the ground” to ensure that a wider body of people will have a broader appreciation of the value and relevance of poetry in the future, and that while that’s not without it’s dangers (poetry vs spoken word: discuss), it’s largely a good thing. I would have probably referenced the work that’s happening in the US through programmes like Brave New Voices and how, while that kind of national youth poetry movement serves as an inspiration, we have a distinctly contemporary British voice (with all its constituent facets and identities rolled in) that we can claim as our own.

As it happened, I got to say a few words about how chuffed I am about being selected, and was asked to read a short poem, which I managed to get just over halfway through before it was time to move on to the next item. Hm.

Regardless, it was nice to be asked to say a few words, however short the time may have been. I’m still unsure as to exactly how I’m represented in the selected texts, whether it’s a poem, selection of poems or collection, and it appears that at the moment, the syllabus that’s being spoken of is still awaiting OFQUAL accreditation, due to be considered next month. Suffice to say, fingers crossed…


  1. I’ve got the Mention iPhone app, and it’s working better than Google Alerts. Highly recommended. 

  2. Yep. Checks iPhone first thing upon waking. Guilty as charged. 

May 7

Poet: Caroline Bird @ BARPo, Gallery Cafe 2014-05-02



Poet: Caroline Bird @ BARPo, Gallery Cafe 2014-05-02

May 6

Poet: Katie Byford



Poet: Katie Byford

May 5

(via Play ‘Minecraft’ creator Notch’s tiny…



(via Play ‘Minecraft’ creator Notch’s tiny despair simulator | The Verge)

"You will be born. You will grow up. You will love. You will lose. You will die. You won’t even really enjoy the process very much."

And I’m thinking of how this could be a poem in action… wherein the emotional freight is delivered through the interaction with the mechanisms of the experience…

May 5

Poet: Cameron Brady-Turner



Poet: Cameron Brady-Turner

May 4

“Putting out something that’s new in the world requires temporary removal from it.”

“Putting out something that’s new in the world requires temporary removal from it.”

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Sarah Lewis, author of the indispensable The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, on the importance of our private domains and inner worlds, speaking at the 2014 99U conference.

Complement with philosopher Martha Nussbaum on honoring your inner world.

(via explore-blog)
May 4

Will Tyas, prepping audio equipment for BAR @ Gallery Cafe,…



Will Tyas, prepping audio equipment for BAR @ Gallery Cafe, 2014-05-02

May 3

“Poetry is the place where language in its silence is most beautifully articulated. Poetry is the…”

“Poetry is the place where language in its silence is most beautifully articulated. Poetry is the language of silence. If you look at a page of prose, it is crowded with words. If you look at a page of poetry, the slim word shapes are couched in the empty whiteness of the page. The page is a place of silence where the contours of the word is edged and the expression is heightened in an intimate way.”

- From Anam Cara by John O’Donohue via Toni Stuart 
May 3

Further to yesterday’s post about Pocket: I actually made…



Further to yesterday’s post about Pocket: I actually made peace with the number of items in my archive years ago. There will always be more books on my “to read” shelf than I’ll ever have time to read, and I know I will never “win” the internet. That tally of 6444 bits of web based writing waiting to be read isn’t the problem; the important thing is how I relate to that number. Worrying about consuming all of that tasty information would be foolish (even for an avid reader). Knowing that it’s there, and that I can dip into it at random and pull out something that I’ve already deemed interesting— that’s where the beauty lies. My Pocket archive is a piece of infinity on my iPad/iPhone, and it just happens to be an infinity I already know I have a taste for.

Pocket has a rather nice “trending items” view, so particularly hot items float to the surface of my attention. REALLY important items get tagged (++) and read relatively quickly. I only just recently turned the badge on— it’s not particularly important to know how many items are there, but it’s a useful reminder to be mindful in archiving and not stockpile indiscriminately.

Funny: Pocket on my iPhone reports 6710 items, possibly because I recently adjusted the sort order to show older items first…

May 2

“There’s a time for professional jargon: when you know you’re speaking to an audience that…”

“There’s a time for professional jargon: when you know you’re speaking to an audience that understands you, and you need the extra specificity and precision that jargon can provide. If you’re using it outside of that situation, you’re probably not communicating clearly, honestly, or effectively”

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Writing Content that Works for a Living · An A List Apart Article

I have 6000+ pieces of reading archived in my Pocket account. Closer to 7000, in fact. The blog post the above quote is drawn from was written in 2008. Pocket was probably called something else back in those days (remember Readitlater?) and I had a serious (naive?) belief that I’d eventually get round to reading everything I squirrelled away.

If I ever manage to actually digest all of the reading I’ve stockpiled in my archive of things to be read later, I’ll probably grow a third eye, develop the ability to levitate and possibly the ability to time travel on impulse. With this in mind, I’m making a slow ascent to the top of this mountain.

Just because your archive isn’t physical, doesn’t mean it isn’t weighing on you.

New rule: one in, one out. Let’s see how long that lasts.

May 1

Today’s list of provocations for working with students on…



Today’s list of provocations for working with students on group poems for the teachers and poets of the Spoke Word Cup 2014 programme (another day, another youth slam project…;)

Apr 24

Workshop planning with @foldingtext – timings in blue are…



Workshop planning with @foldingtext - timings in blue are auto-generated, calculated from the text based lengths of time I’ve entered at the end of each line/paragraph (see italics, auto-formatted). “Start :” line is automagically generated, and can be edited, meaning plans can be reused and refreshed simply by changing the start time. And the beauty of all of this is that it actually serves as a step by step timer. The current step is highlighted at the appropriate time, and a notification pops up on each next step. Way to stay on time during a workshop plan! At the end of the list, which you can’t see here, an end time also dynamically generated, so if you change timings on the fly, you can see the ramifications instantly.

I wouldn’t use this during every workshop— much of my facilitation is responsive, and by the time I’m in the space, I’ve already got the plan in my head. Any changes that need to be made are implemented organically, and we roll with what comes. That said, as a planning tool, this is beautiful. And it’s just one mode of a pretty stellar text editor, with todo lists, outlining, node folding, text tagging and more. So you can write poems, plan workshops and manage projects all in the same app, using plain text files that you can open on any platform in any other text editor. This just jumped to the top of my toolkit.

Apr 22

For today’s #morningreading I’m still with the Kevin…



For today’s #morningreading I’m still with the Kevin Stein (Sufficiency of the Actual). Most, if not all, of these captures have been the beginnings of longer poems. This starts as any “definition poem” might, but sustains a bold trajectory moving forward, testament to Stein’s vision and linguistic verve. If you haven’t yet been moved to investigate his work further, do yourself a favour…

Apr 21

“There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Consider this…”

There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically he slows down. Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable
incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.

In existential mathematics, that experience takes the form of two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportion to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.



- Milan Kundera, from Slowness (HarperCollins, 1996)
Apr 18

“It takes a lot of sometimes painful self-realization to figure out what that message is in the first…”

“It takes a lot of sometimes painful self-realization to figure out what that message is in the first place. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life, figuring out who I was in order to figure out who my artist-self was.”

- What I Have to Say: Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai | The Define School
Apr 17

“Our business is to see what we can do with the English language as it is. How can we combine the old…”

Our business is to see what we can do with the English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? That is the question.

And the person who could answer that question would deserve whatever crown of glory the world has to offer. Think what it would mean if you could teach, if you could learn, the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper would tell the truth, would create beauty.



- Virginia Woolf, who drowned on March 28, 1941, on the art of language and the beauty of words in the only surviving recording of her voice. (via explore-blog)
Apr 14

Poet: Raymond Antrobus; BAR Poetry @ Gallery Cafe, April 4th…



Poet: Raymond Antrobus; BAR Poetry @ Gallery Cafe, April 4th 2014

Apr 9

“For language to have meaning there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word…”

“For language to have meaning there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him.”

- Thomas Merton, “Disputed Questions” (via litverve)
Apr 9

Poet: Tyrone Lewis; BAR @ Gallery Cafe, April 4th 2014



Poet: Tyrone Lewis; BAR @ Gallery Cafe, April 4th 2014

Apr 8