So although I promised myself at the New Year that I’d have a quiet year in terms of performing, it seems I’ve managed to get myself signed up for all manner of interesting literary shenanigans in the coming weeks. If you fancy coming to see me read poems, talk about poems and generally Witter About Stuff, here are the places to be…
10-RED, Wednesday 15th February, 19.00, The Persevere Function Room, Edinburgh. £3.00 entry.
10 RED is an evening of poetry in the beautiful Victorian Lounge of the Persevere Bar, Easter Road, Edinburgh. All the poets performing are published by Red Squirrel Press, who kindly published my pamphlet, The Mermaid and the Sailors, early last year. I’m hoping to try out some new material on a friendly crowd! Some great folk on the bill, too — worth coming along for McGuire alone! You can see a trailer for the event right here:
. “Making Poems, Writing Histories, Excavating Myths”: a lecture by Claire Askew for the Melrose Literary Society, Tuesday 21st February, 19.30, The Ormiston Institute, Melrose. £3.00 entry, non-members welcome.
The truly lovely people at the Melrose Literary Society have asked me to come and talk about my current research, and I am incredibly flattered, very excited and utterly terrified all at once. Come and hear me grapple with the question of Why We Write Poems, and investigate the ways in which poetry informs history, history informs myth and the two inform all kinds of creative writing. You’ll also get chance to ask me probing questions!
. Edinburgh Literary Death Match: March, Tuesday 27th March, 19.00, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh. £5.00/£8.00 ticketed — get tickets here!
You’ve probably heard of the massive worldwide phenomenon that is Literary Death Match…? If not, get on it, because it’s a big deal! I’m super flattered to have been nominated (by the fabby @LynseyMay) and invited to perform at Edinburgh’s hippest literary outpost. The Voodoo Rooms is a gorgeous venue and I’m up against some serious talent… Gavin Inglis = legend! Grab your tickets, quick!
. Three Red Squirrel Poets at Trashed Organ’s “Belonging Fest” Opening Night, Monday 30th April, venue and time TBC, Newcastle
Details of this one are still TBC, but let’s just say it’s going to be good. Watch this space!
. Got an event you’d like me to read at? Talk about? Attend? Email me via claire @ onenightstanzas.com and tell me about it!
So yep — terrifyingly, I have managed to procrastinate my way to 100 whole posts of weird and wonderful blog links, Youtube videos and other internet flotsam over the course of my three-and-a-half years at the helm of One Night Stanzas. In recognition of this epic event, I decided to trawl through all 100 previous procrastination station posts, and bring you my pick of the best lovely links so far. Let the wwilfing commence!
“Few who believe in the potential of the Web deny the value of books. But they argue that it is unrealistic to expect all children to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Pride and Prejudice” for fun. And those who prefer staring at a television or mashing buttons on a game console, they say, can still benefit from reading on the Internet. In fact, some literacy experts say that online reading skills will help children fare better when they begin looking for digital-age jobs.”
Want a web/phone app that FORCES you to write? You got it!
“Although we all have stories to tell very few of us have a book worth writing in us. I am with John Milton when he argues in Areopagitica that “a good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life”. Very few of us are great poets.”
The old adage, “everyone has a book in them?” Not true.
“Well, I like poetry that is amusing, that maybe makes me chuckle a little. I’d rather read something reassuring and light than something complicated or gloomy. Is that bad? Does that mean I am a jerk?”
Smart answers to some of the common, and really stupid, questions people ask about poetry.
“The cash registers were idle much of the time, but the [book]store was full, seemingly peopled by freeloaders sitting in chairs with stacks of books piled at their feet. What was appearent was that very few of those books would be purchased and the books in turn would be dog eared, bent , battered and otherwise made less than pristine. The staff, in turn, seemed as though they could give a flat fuck about the state of the store; sections were out of order. Vain as I am, I wanted to yell at someone.”
“Certainly you may buck the conventions of the query letter if your work is too amazing/revolutionary/brilliant to be summarized. Why don’t you also try applying for jobs without a résumé, using only your psychic powers. Let us know how that works out for you.”
DIY Pirateship Armada: PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIVE HERE. (I am jealous of them.)
“Inside my sheltering head: the sound of rustling green. Husband,
you are the riddle beneath which I dream blossoms and birds, but
when I wake, icicles hang from the eaves, the size of a man and twice as lethal.”
“We’re all practitioners of an art that doesn’t generally interest or impress the vast majority of people, and most of us will struggle to be heard, read, enjoyed and make a living out of our art. It is therefore quite darkly hilarious that many poets do not read other poets work, and nor do many performance poets attend performance poetry events.”
“Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you. Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favourite food is, and treat you to a movie. Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.”
“You think I’m stupid. You think I’m immature. You think I’m a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well think again, nerdhole, because I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.”
“Some blind date has persuaded you to go to a poetry slam. On the stage you see people shouting horrifying personal and global traumas with lines like “And I wonder / if George Bush was a woman / would he still let his Dick / do most of his thinking?” A valid question, but it is not the type of ambience that leads to a second date.”
“”Oh, yes. That. Well, the sperm comes out of the man’s penis and it goes into the woman’s vagina. This happens when the two do what’s called, ‘have sex’. And that’s where the egg – there’s usually only one in the woman’s pond at a time – gets fertilised.” Only after the fact did I realise that I had said the words penis and vagina and sex in a strained, sotto voce tone. This was also something my own mother would have done.” When The Birds and The Bees Talk gets out of control…
“A student said to me yesterday, “I didn’t know professors could have long hair.” I said, “They can. If you do something well, people won’t bother you. That’s true in all professions. If you are the one guy who can fix the computers, you can keep a boa constrictor in your office. No one will say a thing.” His eyes flashed. Possibly he “went over to the dark side”… or something. I felt happy for 11 seconds.” I still think about this article a lot: on teaching creative writing.
“If a customer tells me she’s looking for a book by a man and there’s a girl in it but she can’t remember the author or the title, I give her Lolita. If she’s looking for “that popular book about the animals”: Animal Farm. “That controversial book my book club is reading”: The Autobiography of Malcolm X. “The book with a red cover and the word ‘the’ in the title”: The Joy of Sex. I’m a bookseller, not a magician. My dark-framed glasses and skinny jeans possess only so much magic. If you read nothing else from this post, read Bookseller I Would Like To F***.
“I’m going to write smart things about Death in Literature.”
Shakespeare vs Dr Seuss (OMG Watsky <3)
Phew! Here’s to the next 100. Have a great weekend!
One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via firstname.lastname@example.org. NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!