I’m due again, to read at an open mic night. Thursday the 27th of July, next week, I will be part of the line up for Global Fusion’s Poetry and Spoken Word night at the Guardhouse Pub in Woolwich, London.
I have probably mentioned before that reading to an audience is not really my idea of fun. Although I don’t consider myself shy, I don’t really enjoy having the focus of attention drawn to me. I have on the other hand come to terms with that as a writer these events need to be attended, because if no one knows who you are then no one will follow your writing progress or buy what you publish. I would consider myself a successful writer if I have readers who like my stories and poetry, even if readers come in few numbers.
I tend to leave to the audience whether to like it or not. I think a lot of people feel self-conscious about their writing, that what they write is not good enough or that people won’t like it. There are so many writers out there though and I don’t feel that I’m either better or worse than any of them. Some will like what I write and some will not. If you try to please everyone, you’re in for a pitfall.
Tomorrow my business cards promoting my short-story “Let me tell you a story while you sleep” will arrive. Another promotional tool that may or may not work.
“Let me tell you a story while you sleep” is now available through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and other online stores in the Smashwords’ distribution chain.
At the end of last year I promised myself that this year, I wasn’t going to be so busy. There was hardly one evening in the week that I wasn’t booked up with something. Guess what, I’m right back to getting myself caught up in too many things – again.
Monday I joined a new writers group. I’m now part of three. Fair enough they are all different, which is why I find each of them interesting to participate in. The new one is poetry focused. I have never seen myself as a poet, although that is what I started out writing, but poetry for me has always been a way of venting what I feel at any specific moment. However, after 15 (or more) years of writing poetry, perhaps it’s time to take myself a little bit more seriously. Hence the new writers group.
Writers groups in general can be a very good way to improve as a writer. The first group I joined was Greenwich Writers. We submit our texts beforehand and everyone has read and is prepared to give feed-back when we meet. The feed-back is always very straight to the point and constructive although we can end up in the weirdes discussions sometimes. I’ve had enormous help perfecting texts with the help of this group.
The second group I joined was Global Fusion Music and Arts’ writers group. Global Fusion’s motto is to build confidence through arts, we therefore don’t give criticism in the sense of finding weaknesses in the texts. Instead we focus on what we appreciate. We pick a theme and write a text on that theme for the next meeting. Each person read their piece for the others to comment on afterwards. It’s a great creativity exercise. Often you hear the theme and think, “no way, I’ll be able to write something about that,” but somehow you do.
This last writers group, National Poetry Society’s Greenwich stanza group, worked in a similar way to Greenwich Writer’s with the exception that you bring your poem to the group to be read out load for the other’s to comment on. It works with poetry but I wouldn’t want use that format with longer pieces. The weird moment comes after reading when it goes quiet and you sit their waiting for the other’s to re-read your poem before they start commenting. I got some excellent comment though on a poem that I’ve considered finished for years.
I am continuing the trend of reviewing my friends’ artistic endeavours. This time, a poetry collection by Louisa Le Marchand. Louisa is one of the founders of Global Fusion Music and Arts as well as part of one of the writers groups I attend. I was therefore familiar with her writing even before I started reading Whispers in the Mists of Time. I love her short-stories – always with an unexpected twist at the very end – and you always wonder whether it is really fiction or if she’s writing from her own experience.
Whispers in the Mists of Time is a lovely collection of poems. Interestingly, the poems are arranged in alphabetical order. One would think that might create jarring themes and rhythms, but instead the book has a natural flow that makes it easy to read. What I especially like about the book is that it feels like a collection of one person’s life wisdom – one who has lived an extraordinary yet ordinary life. The book feels like a trusted friend whom I can turn to during my own life journey.
Many of the poems are existentialistic, dealing with themes of what it is to be human, to live life on your own terms and what we learn through the rougher parts of life. It also celebrates being alive, being part of this world and it has a few really witty, funny poems thrown inbetween.
Your birthday is special,
Though others may not always remember, you should never
A celebration of the day you were born,
The moment of your first breath,
Life may not have been easy, no one said that it would,
But you have lived in a world filled with wonder and morning
Those of you who have visited my About page might have noticed that I am a supporter of the local charity Global Fusion Music and Arts. At the moment they hold, among so many other things, open mic evenings once a month. Yesterday’s opens mic had Bards Without Borders as the special guest.
Bards Without Borders are a group of poets and writers who all have the experience of being refugees or immigrants. Currently, they are performing a set in respons to the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It was really special to experience this group of poets. There was much to take in; their experiences of fleeing their home countries, their amazing poems and what kind of influence Shakespeare has had within their native cultures.
The most enjoyable part was to hear them read favourite passages from Shakespeare’s complete works in their native languages. It really brought out the beauty of Shakespeare’s words. Even if I cannot understand Swahili or Spanish or any of the other languages, there is a beauty in the rhythm, the word flow and the articulation of the text that makes it wonderful to listen to even when you don’t understand.
The next Global Fusion open mic night will be the 29 of July. Anyone near or far from Greenwich, London is welcome to come by. The special guest will be Cheng Yu, a Chinese Pipa player.
If you wish to find out more about Bards Without Borders you can find them on Facebook.
Friday I did my first public reading in probably 10 years. In hindsight, I should’ve written about it before Friday so that anyone willing and able could have come…but you live and learn.
I was part of the line up when the Global Fusion writers group, of which I am a member, shared our writing at an event at the Charlton House. The event was organised by Global Fusion and included a live band playing jazz. Despite being shamelessly unprepared for the reading, it went quite well. At least I was told so by my friends and fellow writers.
Last time I did a public reading, I was still at college and the poetry writing class I was taking had a reading at a local restaurant. It was summer and we’d been given space in the courtyard. It was nerve-racking but a nice evening.
I feel a bit ambivalent about public readings. On the one hand it’s nice to get a chance to showcase your work. And I do enjoy being the audience when others do readings. I do however feel that I don’t read very well and therefor don’t do my pieces justice. Neither do I like being the center of attention.
So to conclude, thanks to my friends of Global Fusion, I enjoyed your readings far more than I enjoyed my own.