Monday, 22 October 2012

Poets, prizes and plenty of puns

I had the delight of attending the prize ceremony of this year's Manchester Poetry Prize and blog about it for Manchester Literature Festival. You can read what I had to share here.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

On, and on, and on and Kevin's gone

Due to an overwhelming amount of fan mail, I feel I need to explain my current absence from blogging. By no means is it a lack of what to write. My B-box (that's 'B' for brain!) is a stream of thoughts, yet these are not ones mature enough to share. 

Second year at uni has started and the reading list, plus everything around the list, is extensive and daunting. Adam Bede has been the biggest challenge as of yet (no pun intended, he's fictional), though I'm sure he won't be the only one this year. 

Some projects I've been asked to work on include 'Postcards From The Past', an MMU and MLF collaboration, an archeological dig (though I won't be picking up a spade myself) with some local schools starting in the spring and hopefully a student press office something or other. Once they all kick-off there will no doubt be a post or another whining or praising the whole experience. 

I hope this will satisfy all of you out there and if you do want to continue sending your fan, hate and spam mail, well... do.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Manchester Children's Book Festival Volunteers!

Hello everyone. I didn't manage to squeeze in the announcement to everyone last Wednesday during Documentally's talk so I thought it is best to post something on here. 


Next Tuesday and Thursday in lecture room 5 of the Geoffrey Manton building, MMU, a meeting for the festival's volunteers will be taking place. If you're intersted in helping out in any way (blogging especially!) come along. It's at 5:15pm and you only need to come to one of the two dates. It's a good way to get into some pretty good events with authors as well as experimenting with some new apps and interactive tools as I'm trying to make the blog as fun as possible. 

Here is the festival website for more information and you can take a look at the programme as well as the festival's blog. 

Hope to see you there!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Poetry Master Class with Brian Turner @ MMU

In a room with a cosy number of people, Brian Turner took the stage (otherwise known as sitting on the desk top) with a welcoming natural ease. I have no idea why I ended up plonking myself on the deserted front row, making myself an easy target for this trained face-to-face combat officer, but there I sat. Having previously addressed impressive numbers of people (1600 soldiers!), this small gathering would be like recalibrating a AK47 (is that even a gun?) with his eyes closed.

Brian immediately launched into his signature poem, Here, Bullet, also title of his first book (his poetry readings can be heard in the audioboo playlist in the right sidebar). I just handed in my second poetry assignment on this poem two days ago, so to hear some backstory was a treat. One of the bonuses of poetry is that it is an easily transportable art. He tells us he had only one poem from the American Laureate, Philip Levine, called They Feed They Lion, which had embedded itself in him. When the first lines of Here, Bullet came about, the rhythm of that single poem came through in the beat of his. Finishing this poem (with a powerful voice much different to his talking one), he admits the meaning remains strange. I know every time I have read it a new image comes to mind, or a new thread of thought. I fail to see how he can consider himself a rookie with the ability to cause such abstract interpretation from his words.

Between the end of some of the behind-the-scenes elements to Here, Bullet and some 'release' sound effects (not that sound… an unscrewing of a coke bottle) being provided by a member of the audience, Brian reads a stunning poem, Thalia Fields. For me, this poem was all about the line, ‘The plane, like a shadow, guiding the rain, here…’. It’s an impressive way to see the mind of this poet/soldier through his memories and feelings. These are just tasters remember, for more you need to get your hands on his books!

I have to admit that there were many comments made on the subject of war, of course, but unfortunately I have no views politically, patriotically or morally when it comes to such matters. One fact mentioned however, which caused me to raise my eyebrows in surprise, was that on average, from the Iraq war alone, a number of 18 soldiers commit suicide per day. That’s all of his platoon (48) gone in a matter of days. Chilling.

The Hurt Locker, a powerful poem with a pensive ending line, ‘how rough men come hunting for souls’, allowed for Brian to provide us with another backstory to the origin of this now famous term. Although his poem came out several years prior to the award winning film, he remembers hearing it from his squad leader. When he asked this leader whether he had said it or not, the reply was a down-to-earth, ‘Yeah, shit just comes out of my mouth’. After further research, the term was found to have originated in a small Texas newspaper talking about a local football (that’s American football) game and the war in Vietnam. I mean, how else?

His poetry, usually found under the war genre, is for me, entirely different from how I perceived this genre to be. The words bring satisfying, albeit horrible in experience, images to the mind, many of which are formed in free verse. I never got to ask whether this style of writing came from his (sub)conscious gratification of freedom from the army and from war…

Many of us wanted to know what made him enter the army after having received his Masters in Poetry. Giving only a bit away, he shares that his family had a heavy military influence and despite not being forced over the threshold, it was the expected norm. Not giving much away though, Brian ‘lets slip’ that his book, My Life as a Foreign Country, will be coming out early 2014 as the deal is being inked with an unspeakable British publisher as I type.

Always concerned with our well being, Brian was worried whether he had been reading too much or talking too much. I would have preferred he did both to the extreme, as he seemed to have a lot of stories and anecdotes to tell, as well as recommendations and inspirations of other poets. He mentioned Carolyn Forche with admirable gusto, telling us how he has a signed copy of her poem, The Colonel, on his wall to which he looks at for inspiration, picturing the destination of where he wants to end up: ‘I’m at the foothills that lead to the mountains’. Another poet he mentions with personal fondness is Yehuda Amichai and gives us a reading of another thought-provoking poem, The Diameter of The Bomb.

With time to shoot questions at Brian, he is asked what kind of writer he is; everyday, sporadic, organised? Since writing from a young age, he tells us, it is easy for him to go with a poem when it comes to him instead of needing that discipline of daily scribblings. One day, when out looking for nails to complete some overdue odd jobs around the house, he found himself picking up a nail which resembled a bullet out of one of the weapons he used while in Iraq. Before he knew it, his notepad was in his palm and he was walking around the store retrieving images only a poet can. He recognised the rotating fan on the ceiling as the blades from a helicopter. I would have recognised them as blades on a fan. His experience and education have allowed his mind to look at things in ways my mind never would. Maybe from now on it could.

I didn’t know what to make of Brian when I first watched him reading his poems on a youtube video, as all I knew was that he was a soldier and went to war. Having now been within spitting distance of him, seeing and listening to how he talks about serious and trivial issues, in his soft-spoken voice, I’d say he’d be the top of my list if I was to go camping, not just for his army experience (major plus), but also for the stories I could listen to by the fire with either bubbling marshmallows or a blanket covering my eyes in terror. If you’re up for it Brian, this summer, Edale.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

6th Cultureword National Black Writers Conference

A round up of what went down at the 6th Cultureword National Black Writers Conference at the Zion Arts Centre can be seen on the MLF blog here. 

Yesterday's posts are from the Young Identity group who performed at the end of the day's events. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Young Identity

With the 3 min limit from audioboo the last recording was cut off just before, what I consider, the best verbal concoctionMedia_httpaudioboofmb_pgisb of the group. Listen below to this young cheeky chap.

Young Identity (mp3)

Young Identity

At the end of a very insightful day at the 2012 Black Writers Conference, the poets of Young Identity, based at Manchester's Contact Theatre, put together some words about the panel discussions led throughout the day. Some really good stuff. Media_httpaudioboofmb_sbufa

Young Identity (mp3)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Mother Tongue / Other Tongue Competition


Hello everyone!
This year’s Manchester Children’s Book Festival is doing a great deal of trailblazers before the event in June. We have author's tours and talks happening before the festival and a good few of our competitions will soon be rounding up. 
Here is one which I strongly encourage, being a bi-linguist myself (sorry, that sounded big-headed. FYI; I was born in Brasil and got dragged here to escape Carnaval). If you have children or have regular contact with a school or think this could be interesting for friends or family, spread the word. It's a great way for our multi-cultural city (and country) to expand our knowledge with works from other nations. 
This is the link with more information. The event is free and provides (wine) CPD for teachers.
Any questions, post a comment on the blog and I’ll be in touch.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Twitter Workshop @ Cornerhouse

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to blog about a twitter workshop at the Cornerhouse. I got some really good advice and tips on what other websites to use to optimise my tweeting. Click here to learn what I learnt. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

Arrugas (Wrinkles)

My blog for Ignacio Ferreras' new animation film Arrugas has been posted on the Cornerhouse website. Click here to find out why you should buy a ticket to see the film at this year's Viva Festival.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Short breakless break

Just to let all of you keen followers know that I will not be posting on here for a while. 

I will be working with this year's Manchester Children's Book Festival's blog so keep your eyes on / for news and this year's line-ups. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Curtis Jobling - Zion Arts Centre 27/01

Mancehster Children's Book Festival gives us an early taster as to what it has in store for us this year.
Best known for his work in TV and picture books, Curtis comes to the Zion Arts Centre to launch his third book in the Wereworld Series The Shadow of the Hawk. In this event he will talk about his love of films and books and his early work in picture books. He will talk of his horror and fantasy genres, with role-playing and a 'werewolves in cinema' pop quiz. You will find me at the front with a clipboard and my hand up. 
The event concludes with a lively question and answer session.