Posts Tagged ‘hooray’

Things I Love Thursday #91

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

In the past week or so, I…

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14
…met a friendly pig!

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…spied on a kitty surveying his lands!

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…appreciated public transport!

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…welcomed spring to my street!

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…appreciated smartassery!

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…breakfasted like a queen!

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…had my first cook-out of 2014!

& perhaps most importantly, this happened:

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What are YOU loving this week?

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

30 before 30 / Things I Love Thursday #90: adventures in Wordsworth Country

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Point 6 in my 30 by 30 post was “get out more,” and I thought I’d start right away. So I went on a writing holiday, to the countryside that’s inspired some of the real greats. Here’s some stuff I got inspired by:

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

What are YOU loving this week?

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #84: Autumnal adventures

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Goldenacre Path.  My new neighbourhood!

Pinterest-y photo of my sister on the Goldenacre Path

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This isn’t the first time that “autumn” has appeared on my Things I Love list… and I doubt it will be the last. It is my favouritest season for many, many reasons, and even more so now that I’ve moved house. I now live really close to the beautiful Goldenacre Path, and only a stone’s throw from Stockbridge. Both providing some beautiful autumnal foliage and last-ditch Scottish sunshine right about now!

Foraging! Brambles & elderberries

Autumn veggie stew, made by Lovely Boyfriend.

The best thing about living on Edinburgh’s “path network”? The foraging opportunities! So far, I’ve scored elderberries, raspberries and tubs and tubs of brambles, which has made for some pretty delicious pies and scones, I can tell you. I’m hoping to learn more about wild greens next, so that in the spring I can get out there and gather myself a salad, too!
(Not foraged, but also delicious, is all the autumnal food Lovely Boyfriend — aka Lovely Personal Chef! — is cooking up now that it’s getting colder. His veggie stews are to die for.)

My sister, usually known as Mole, left, & me.

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One of my autumn rituals is hanging out with my sister for Halloween. We always get together to talk costumes, watch Hocus Pocus and carve pumpkins (here are last year’s rather paltry efforts!). This year, we also found a massive spoon in a thrift store, and decided we needed it (for cauldron stirring, yeah?), and played a very scary game of Fiasco: the Halloween special!

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Lovely Boyfriend cauldron-stirring...

This year, we really upped our pumpkin game. My delightful new workplace is running a pumpkin carving contest, no less, so I needed to really bring it. Like the owl? One of the fiddliest things I’ve ever done! I don’t know how these mad geniuses do it.
(And when I spotted Lovely Boyfriend stirring a big pot of soup with our pumpkin creations sitting right next to him, I couldn’t resist running to get my witch hat and taking a photo. Cruel, I know, but you’d have done the same, right?)

What have YOU been loving this week?

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Budding writer? Creative person in need of a fun job? Check out the various resources and services at Bookworm Tutors. Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #82

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Getting ideas for my new garden...

What are these?  They're about the size of my head.  I would like some.

Peonies!

Peonies!
Dreaming my new garden
So, along with our new, slowly-emerging-from-a-wreck house, Lovely Boyfriend and I have also obtained two small patches of garden. Right now, they’re basically scruffy little lawns with some weedy borders around them. But I plan to turn these two little spaces into a garden of edible delights (plus a few pretty flowers here and there). I’ve never understood why anyone would have a lawn when they could have a veggie patch. Anyway, I’m pawing through books and beginning to learn a bit about plants… and in the process, I’ve suddenly become excited about garden centres.

Grumpy gargoyle

Slightly scared-looking lion,

The Toucans & Maccaws Fountain at Larch Cottage, Melkinthorpe
…but not all garden centres are the same.
Larch Cottage, at Melkinthorpe (WHAT A NAME) in Cumbria, is no ordinary garden centre. It’s basically like a magical secret garden inhabited by thousands of weird and wonderful statues, all of which come to life at night and grow huge and amazing plants. If that sounds a tad creepy then yeah, I guess it’s a tad creepy. But it’s also amazing. I mean… grumpy gargoyles everywhere, a life-size bronze lion, and a fountain covered in cheeky toucans? If ever you’re in Cumbria, seek it out (it’s hidden down a series of narrow, high-hedged roads) and see what I mean. (There’s also a cool restaurant, an art gallery and a shop full of jewellery, furniture and strange nick-nacks. Woo!)

DREAM CAR RIGHT THERE.

Pretty.
Spotting my dream car(s) EVERYWHERE
I’ve had this silly daydream for years: one day I will own a vintage Land Rover Defender. It’ll have a crappy tape-deck and bench seats in the back and rattle like a bean can. On the other hand, I also dream (well, who doesn’t?) of cruising around in a beautiful vintage Ford Mustang, preferably wearing a very, very long scarf that billows in the wind…
(But until I win the lottery, and/or get a massive concussion that causes me to forget how much I care about carbon footprints, I guess I’ll stick with the bus!)

Moomins!

The Uselessness of Everything

Pretty pretty poetry book, up soon at Edinburgh Vintage!
Cute books
I’ve been lucky enough to become the proud owner of a series of late 1960s and early 1970s Penguin paperback editions of the Moomin books. I loved the Moomins as a child and have had so many flashbacks, flicking through these super cute books and being jolted about 15 years back in time by so many of the illustrations! As I’m moving house, I’ll be parting with the series (with a tiny tear in my eye) over at Edinburgh Vintage very soon.
Meanwhile, already for sale at EV is the beautiful, minature, leather-bound collection of Burns’ Songs pictured above. My favourite part about it is the gorgeous cover with its tooled image of Calton Hill. Amazing!

The Vogrie Park Greyhound Meet!
The Vogrie Park Greyhound Meet!
Basically about 50 greyhounds all together in one place being SUPER CUTE. Lovely Boyfriend and I each got to befriend and walk one of them — his was Sam, mine was Neville. (Neville’s at the front left of the pic, wearing a blue cape!)

Found poetry on the streets of Edinburgh

At the Canny Mans

Brush your teeth, say no to drugs, say yes to marker pen graffiti

Super cool old door, Newington

I love long Edinburgh evenings
Edinburgh…
Edinburgh on a warm sunny day is basically THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD BAR NONE. This past week I have seen so many of its millions of moods, as evidenced by the photos above! Found poetry, flickering neon, juvenile graffiti (but with a social conscience!), crumbling elegance, amazing long evenings full of swifts. THANK YOU, MAGIC CITY.

I want this dog.

Snooty tall giraffe made the small fat giraffe sad.
…and Edinburgh window displays. Giving me ALL THE FEELS.
I love the grumpy, sassy-looking dogs at Pink on Castle Street. I really, really want one. Just, yaknow, to sit in my living room. They make me super happy whenever I walk by.
But oh… then there’s this INCREDIBLY SAD window display in a Morningside toy shop. The tall snooty giraffe being sniffy about his friend! And the small, fat giraffe looking so ashamed of himself! Call me infantile if you like, guys, but it’s enough to make me want to run in there, buy both of them, take them home with me and talk them into being friends again.

What are YOU loving this week?

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Budding writer? Creative person in need of a fun job? Check out the various resources and services at Bookworm Tutors. Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #80

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

ONS was gone for a while, you may have noticed. It was the end of term, my camera broke, I went to London for a while, I’m about to move house and am packing box after box after box. It’s also Refugee Week, which means I have been on the road with the Making It Home posse, attending screenings of our films, speaking on panels and reading poems. All extremely exciting! I’ve also been blogging elsewhere — I’m the F Word’s guest blogger for June, so I’ve been kinda cheating on ONS a little. But I have finally had chance to sit down for two seconds and share with you some of the sweet sights from the past couple of weeks.

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The Making It Home gang visited our partners media co-op in their lovely offices at Templeton in Glasgow — yep, they’re based in that building up there (fanciest former carpet factory I’ve ever seen)! Our lovely filmmaking co-ordinators Vilte and Catherine handed out flowers for everyone after we watched the rough cuts of our films.

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On a visit home I helped (well OK, watched) my sister, the craftiest of craftmistresses, make a rainbow-tastic button-covered waistcoat for a fancy dress day at Hobbycraft, where she works her magic. She also made me a fancy bonnet out of yellow cellophane.

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As always, Edinburgh was being totally fabulous, and being away in London only made me appreciate it more. Moody skies, cherry trees like candyfloss, punctuation marks on the sides of buildings.

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The Making It Home tour did a gig in Glasgow, though it was too dark in the venue for me to take any decent photos. However, I did see pink flamingos, hang out under fairylights, and take a silly public bathroom self portrait.

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And yeah, of course, I ate some tasty food. Vegan sweet potato pancakes, made by Lovely Boyfriend of course; and courgette and mint soup with a tofu wurst sandwich, courtesy of Saramago. (That bright orange typewriter, by the way? It’s a resoration/upcycle project I’m working on. When it’s done, there’ll be a post.)

What are YOU loving this week?

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Budding writer? Creative person in need of a fun job? Check out the various resources and services at Bookworm Tutors. Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Making it Home: we’ve (nearly) made it!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

An update on the Making It Home Project, which I blogged about a few days ago: YOU ARE ALL WONDERFUL PEOPLE.

On Sunday, we reached our funding target of £1,000, which means we can make our magical book a reality. Thank you so much to anyone who read about the project, shared the link, sent folk in our general direction or best of all, donated a tiny little bit or a whole great big lot to help us make our book a reality. YOU ALL ROCK.

However, we’re not done!

There is still time before the funding deadline passes. There is still time for you to give us some money.

But why? I hear you cry! You’ve already got what you need! And yep, you’re right. We have the money we need to create our book and print a few copies and distribute them about the place, hopefully for free. BUT! There are various ways that, with your help, we can make our magical book even more magical. They are as follows:

- Right now, we’re only able to budget a very small amount for graphic design, which means we’re having to call in favours from our pro graphic design friends. We’d love to be able to afford more, so a) the book can look fancier and b) we can pay the people involved a proper rate.

- More money means a larger print run, which means more folk can get their hands on free books. FREE BOOKS are what make the world go around, amirite?

- While the fundraising’s been going on, we’ve been busily collecting quotes from printers and other book-creation folks. If we raise more money, we’ll be able to go for the option that’s best for us and our book, rather than just the cheapest options.

- Fancy binding! Fancy papers! END PAPERS! Basically a much more fancy, pretty, lovely book for all of YOU to read!

Convinced? Click on the title in the widget below (or click here) to head to the donation page! Not convinced? Click it anyway — it’ll take you to a video that shows you some of the amazing work our two groups of women have been doing. You can also read more about what we hope to achieve with this project, and that might help you to make up your mind about donating. Can’t afford to donate? Please don’t worry. You should still click on the link, because there are other ways you can help. Below the video are a series of tabs that will allow you to tweet or Facebook details about the project, or share them via email. Spreading the word is just as important as giving money… really!

Here’s the link:

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Budding writer? Creative person in need of a fun job? Check out the various resources and services at Bookworm Tutors. Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #75

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Vegan cupcakes

Isa Chandra Moskowitz

So, I’ve waxed lyrical about this lady a good few times already, but I am going to do it again, because she so totally rocks my world. For Christmas, Lovely Boyfriend bought me her Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World (co-authored with Terry Hope Romero), along with a bunch of cupcake-baking equipment, and I have been cupcaking like a mad person ever since. Those starry babies in the photo above were my first effort: they’re the most basic chocolate cupcake in the book, but they came out beautifully, so I thought I’d get more ambitious. Next, I made the maple and candied walnut variety you see below, as a ‘birthday cake’ for Lovely Boyfriend’s brother. They were so good that he requested a second batch! So, for a family gathering (pressure!) I moved onto pistachio and rosewater (second photo down). These are super cool, because the cake is green and the icing is pink (excuse the weird orangey photo — it’s my kitchen light, not an Instagram filter)! I was kinda flu-filled on the day, so I couldn’t really taste my creations, sadly… but I’m told they were delicious. My most recent offerings were the double chocolate truffle cupcakes you see in the bottom photo. These are a variation on the basic chocolate, but with gooey ganache on the top and a Booja Booja truffle for decoration. FREAKING LUSH. What next, I wonder…? I am officially a cupcake addict!

Vegan cupcakes

Vegan pistachio and rosewater cupcakes

Vegan double chocolate truffle cupcakes

(PS: I made a Flickr set for all my vegan baking — and some of the vegan food regularly rustled up for me by the Lovely Boyfriend — so if you fancy following my spoon-lickin’ exploits, check back here!)

'Heritage Without Borders' Project

The Making it Home Project

I’m really excited that I’m finally able to talk publicly about my involvement with this amazing project! I keep mentioning this mysterious women’s community project I’ve been working for, but I’ve been unable to go into much detail until now. I’m happy to announce that we’ve been able to go public, thanks to an injection of much-needed funds from Creative Scotland. So, what’s it all about?

Poetry is an extremely powerful educational and social tool. It has all sorts of amazing uses — I’m sure that if you follow this blog, I don’t need to convince you of that. Making It Home was born when, a little while ago, the Refugee Survival Trust decided to harness the awesome power of poetry and use it to do cool stuff in some of Scotland’s local communities. They got in touch with Glasgow’s Maryhill Integration Network, Edinburgh’s Women Supporting Women (part of the Pilton Community Health Project), and the wonderful folks at the Scottish Poetry Library, with the aim of creating two poetry-reading groups for women. Through the poems read, discussed and shared in these groups, the women present would explore ideas about home: belonging, nationhood, community, family and everything else the word ‘home’ conjures up.

I feel incredibly lucky and blessed, because I was approached to be the creative facilitator at Women Supporting Women. My group of incredible women have given me a whole new understanding of what poetry is, and what it can do. They’ve discussed poems I’ve read probably hundreds of times, and made me see them in totally new ways. They’ve learned tons about poems and their ever-so-slightly magical powers — and so have I!

Oasis Women's Group Textiles Project

Even better: thanks to the funding injection, the project has grown a new arm. As of early January, the Making It Home groups teamed up with Media Co-Op, a brilliant independent film-making co-operative based in Glasgow. These guys are now working with the groups of women, teaching them how to translate their many, many great responses to the poems into short films detailing their personal journeys. It’s early days yet, but already it feels like a whirlwind of brilliant ideas and inspiration. I’m so happy to be part of the ongoing project, and feel really lucky to be able to witness the creative process behind what will, eventually — we hope! — become a full-scale film installation that all of YOU can come and see and support!

(Both these photos are from the Maryhill Integration Network’s amazing Flickrstream.)

What are YOU loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

In 2012, I…

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

2012 journal... nearly done!

You may remember my admission here, in January, that 2011 had not been a very good year. I wrote here — and in my paper journal — that I wanted to reclaim my life from work-related stress and insomnia. I also wrote in my paper journal that I wanted to extricate myself from the politics and cliques of the poetry community (locally and online), and just write. It took a while — nearly all year, with the latter — but I feel like I can now say I managed to do those things. 2012 was a good year, all told. Here’s some of the stuff that happened.

In 2012, I…

* worked as a reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the fourth year running.

* won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, and am about to begin — quite belatedly, which was my choice — my programme of creative mentoring.

* spent two great weekends in York early in the year, and remembered how much I loved it. Going back soon!

* moved from a 0.7PTE contract at work to a 0.5PTE contract, as part of my “reclaim my life!” challenge. Less teaching hours, less office politics, more free time, less stress (also less money, obv, but that’s OK).

* moved into the third year of studying for my PhD in Creative Writing. Switched to a brand new thesis topic for the third time. Probably drove my supervisor crazy.

* delivered a lecture, “Making Poems, Writing Histories, Excavating Myths”, to the Melrose Literary Society.

* went vegan, and I love it.

* scored an amazing haul of SEVENTEEN antique typewriters on Freegle! (Still haven’t got round to starting restoration/reclamation work on most of them…)

* organised an all-female poetry slam to celebrate International Women’s Day 2012. It went really well!

* celebrated my 26th birthday with not one but TWO birthday parties: one a nom-tastic vegan dinner at Zeffirelli’s with my family, the other a fabulous few rounds of cocktails at The Dome with friends. Yay!

* attended the Scottish Women’s Aid Feminist Day School at the University of Edinburgh, and was inspired.

* was shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award for a second time (first time was 2010. I forgot to enter in 2011).

* competed in Literary Death Match (Edinburgh, ep 4) AND FREAKING WELL WON!

* spent a week in beautiful Barcelona, and totally fell in love with the place.

* spent a weekend training to become a Scottish Women’s Aid Community Champion. Possibly the most empowering weekend of my life so far!

* performed in “Dear Glasgow,” directed by David Grieg, at the Traverse Theatre.

* read poems in a magical launderette in Durham!

* spent a long weekend in gorgeous Whitby — surely the most literary seaside resort there is? — with Lovely Boyfriend.

* was introduced to The West Wing, fell in love, and watched all seven series in the space of a few weeks.

* spent ten days in Greece while One Night Stanzas was on hiatus. Visited Athens, and spent a week in a one-room cold-water whitewashed cottage on the tiny island of Hydra. Here’s the view from our room! We went swimming at daybreak, befriended donkeys, made lots of delicious vegan food, and spent tons of time writing, writing, writing. It was great.

* taught Creative Writing at the Scottish Universities International Summer School for the third consecutive year. My wonderful students were Dan, Linda, Sarah, Joanna, Daniel and Jill. You guys were fab!

* had a poem shortlisted in the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Contest.

* went to see George Watsky on the London leg of his Nothing Like The First Time tour. Also spent a fabby weekend hanging out in London!

* organised and hosted One Night Stanzas presents Watskyx2 — definitely my biggest and scariest moment as a poetry promoter! But it went SO WELL, yay!

* went to a ton of great stuff at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, including Louise Welsh, Andrew Keen, Alice Oswald’s Memorial event (OMG!), Daniel Franklin launching Megachange, Billy Letford & Sean Borodale and Marina Warner (who I also saw at the International Festival, ’cause I’m a fangirl).

* read poems at Blackwells: Writers at the Fringe.

* attended a discussion that included the amazing Jean Kilbourne, personal superheroine of mine, and met her afterwards! Swoon!

* was employed as a creative facilitator with a local women’s community support group (details redacted!), and I am loving working with these amazing women as they read poems, share stories and unlock their creativity!

* joined the Shore Poets committee and became their blogging/tweeting/Facebooking person, among other things!

* survived root canal surgery!

* got tattooed (again).

* went to beautiful Paris for the weekend with Lovely Boyfriend to celebrate our two-year anniversary!

* helped run Scottish Women’s Aid’s I GET IT campaign, spreading positive messages about healthy relationships to young people aged between 16 and 25.

* wrote articles and reviews for The Skinny, xoJane (two, in fact), the Edinburgh Review (again, two! One’s online here) and The Scottish Review of Books.

* had three poems included in Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poetry from the UK

* spent an amazing day at the Maryhill Integration Network in Glasgow, meeting incredible, inspiring women, and being treated to a crash-course in filmmaking, a fashion show, a dance recital and a ton of delicious food!

Favourite photos from this year:

Vegan Noms (1)
Just one of the many millions of photos I took of delicious vegan breakfast/brunch food. I obtained this book upon becoming vegan and it changed my world!

Lovely Boyfriend
Lovely Boyfriend being lovely.

Hooping in the Meadows
I will remember summer 2012 as the summer of hooping in the park with my sister!

Rainbows over Tollcross
I love living in Tollcross — and my top floor, bay-window view! — so, so much.

My SUISS class of 2012
My fantabulous SUISS Class of 2012!

Watsky x2 performers
All the lovely performers from One Night Stanzas presents Watskyx2! Such talent!

Lit 101 students' work
Just when I’m feeling down and crap, along come my amazing students to make me feel inspired again.

Parisian adventures
♡ ♡ ♡

Insane family portrait...
A loopy family portrait.

Poetree
Visiting the jaw-droppingly gorgeous GiftED sculptures.

Glitterowl
& Christmas comes to ONS Towers!

It’s been a great year. I feel I am a million miles away from the place I was in this time last year — phew! I am also extremely excited about 2013 and all that it holds for me. I plan to finish my PhD, put together my first full-length poetry collection (at last!), get more tattoos (yeah!), and start work on a ton of exciting new projects. Wish me luck!

If you want to see what I got up to in 2008, 2009, 2010 or 2011, just click on each year!

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You can also visit Read This Press for poetry and typewriter paraphernalia! Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #59

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

child nightmare

A bit of a heavy post this week, perhaps. But what I’m loving right now is activism.

If you’ve been paying attention to the links in my Procrastination Station posts, you might have got the general gist that I’m a bit of a feminist. You’ll certainly have got that gist if you follow my Twitter. If you’ve been my Facebook friend for a while, you might also have seen one or two angry feminist rants up there, too. Maybe — if you’re a real die-hard fan of mine — you’ve even spotted out my little-used feminist/political blog, Girl Poems. And yes, it’s true — I am a feminist, and more than just a little bit.

It’s happened quickly. Had you asked me two years ago, I’d have said HELL YES I AM A FEMINIST, but I wouldn’t really have been able to tell you all that much about why. At that point, I hadn’t really woken up to the massive discrimination that still comes with identifying as female. Then I had my “click” moment: I watched Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly 3.”

As the women on my training weekend this past weekend (which I’ll talk about in a moment) pointed out, when you get your “click” moment, it’s like coming out of the Matrix. You start seeing misogyny and discrimination everywhere. You start realising that things you say and do — things you’ve always said and done — are really not cool. You see that you have friends — really good friends — who are part of the problem. You get really, really, really angry. And other people get really, really, really angry with you.

Over the past two years, since watching Jean Kilbourne, I’ve kind of done a DIY women’s studies degree in my spare bedroom. As well as teaching and reading for my PhD, I’ve also amalgamated a pretty huge collection of academic feminism textbooks, pop feminist polemics, women’s anthologies and women’s studies tomes, and read them hungrily. I follow more feminist/political blogs than I do poetry and writing ones. I’m no longer lazy about this stuff — as well as identifying as feminist I am also trying really hard to be a good trans ally, to rid my students’ (and, sometimes, my colleagues’) vocabulary of homophobic language like “that’s so gay”, and I’m also trying extremely hard to stop being ableist (I’ve only recently realised how gross my use of the word “lame” to mean “rubbish” really is). In terms of the kind of feminist I am? I want intersectionality so badly. I try as hard as I can to check my white, cis, able-bodied privilege, though I’ll admit, sometimes fail. And I am way, way pro-sex (ask me some time about my plan to kick the shit out of the sex industry’s status quo. Seriously).

Twitter has become my safe space. I post anything I like there, and I’m generous with my use of the ‘block’ button. I’ve also built up a sweet network of feminist Twit-buddies of all genders, which is really nice. But I’ve still felt bad about not doing enough. Not talking about this stuff enough. Not trying hard enough to exercise change. Not explaining myself properly. Not really making a difference.

So this past weekend, I went along to Scottish Women’s Aid’s all-weekend “Stop” training. The “Stop” campaign, or Together We Can Stop It, is about recognising that domestic abuse affects everyone, but that — as one of my training-mates put it — we can all affect it right back. It is designed to spread the message that domestic abuse is disturbingly prevalent, and that it’s so not OK, as well as aiming to provide everyone everywhere with workable ways to tackle the problem. The training weekend took me and seven other smart, angry young feminists and taught us how to become Community Champions: we’re now qualified to go out into the local community and help SWA and the “Stop” campaign to spread the message.

The training was a truly amazing, eye-opening and inspiring experience for me. Because I’ve taught myself all this women’s studies stuff, I’ve never been in a space before where everyone just ‘got’ it. There was no mansplaining, no ‘explain yourself to me!’, no ‘what about the men?!’, no arguments about how you can’t be feminist if you’re white and Western, or if you like sex, or if you’re straight, or if you’re a trans woman, or blah blah blah blah. There was no ’stop being hysterical!’, or ‘nobody really cares about this!’, or ‘it’s just a joke, lighten up!’ No one in the room said anything was ’so gay’ or referred to another person as ‘a total retard’ or suggested that ‘girls who dress slutty ask for it.’ There were no rape jokes; no one wanted to whine that Julian Assange or Roman Polanski are awesome, stand-up guys and so great at what they do and therefore everyone should forget about the fact that they raped women and hey who says they even did it I mean these stupid women make shit up all the time. I’m wary of using this word because I know it makes some people queasy (feminists included), but it felt like sisterhood.

There were a lot of opposing views in the room. We talked about tons of issues around and outside domestic abuse including intersectionality, classism and general feminist stuff. We had heated discussions. We disagreed about things. But we all got it, we were all working towards a common goal: to make women’s lives, which are so often hard and frightening and downright depressing, better. In two days I learned so much about women, about feminism, about society, about activism and about myself. It was utterly fantastic.

Now, come to my comment thread and ask ‘what about the men?!’ I dare you.

Honourable mentions: Bare Hands Poetry. Thanks a million for taking one of my poems, loves! // Working on editing together Creatrix. So many great submissions, so many difficult decisions. Watch this space for a post about it. // Being in a play! OMG! Come and see me at the Traverse, in “Dear Glasgow.” // The second printing of my book has landed — let me know if you want to buy one! // Real Foods. Greatest grocery store ever // The lovely Lovely Boyfriend. Better than all the other boyfriends combined.

What are you loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

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Things I Love Thursday #56

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

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Stuff I love this week…

More gifts from the Universe.
I’ve had a pretty awesometastic week or so, I must say. Firstly, there was the really warm, loving and supportive response to my International Women’s Day all-female slam. It garnered tweets, Facebook mentions and other wee compliments from all over the place. Everyone who’d attended, it seemed — along with plenty who’d been unable to — wanted to tell me what a valuable event it had been. Harry Giles gave the slam a great write-up over at Sabotage Reviews, and Gayle Smith wrote a poem inspired by the event at her brand new blog, Tartan Tights. Thanks so much to all those of you who took a moment to tell me you enjoyed yourselves, or who made it known that you thought the event was doing something important. This is only the start of things!

Three weeks ago, it was my birthday. As it’s my Dad’s birthday the day after mine, I spent the day itself with my parents, sister and Lovely Boyfriend, having a spiffing time in the lovely Spring Lake District. We spotted lambs in fields, went for scenic drives and had amazing vegan food at Zeffirellis, which I’d advise anyone, no matter where you live, to go to, as soon as you possibly can! I had a great time, but missed the involvement of friends and fellow nutters, so the following weekend, Lovely Boyfriend helped me organise a “second birthday”, so I could include everyone (I know — how spoiled am I?!). I had no real idea what I wanted to do, other than “eat nice food and go out somewhere posh.” So, we returned yet again to my all-time favourite restaurant, David Bann, before heading to The Dome. I’ve never been to The Dome before — it was LB’s suggestion — but it is utterly lush, and I see now why folk go on about it so much! I drank several delicious French martinis and hobnobbed with a huge crowd of lovely folk who turned up to help me celebrate. I hadn’t seen some of the folk who turned up for over two years, so it was great to catch up. I had a really brilliant night, and want to say thank you so much to all those who came along, brought me gifts and bought me cocktails. You guys rock!

This week I’ve also received the very exciting news that my essay ‘”Hapless straight ladies”: pop feminism’s exclusionist tendencies‘ (click and scroll to read an excerpt) made the final shortlist of five in the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association’s 2011/12 essay prize. The piece will eventually be published in the Journal of International Women’s Studies. This is the first piece of feminist criticism I’ve put out there, and also the first time I’ve entered an essay prize, so it’s a great omen!

Finally, on the same day as I heard about the essay, I also had two poems accepted for publication at the brilliant Words Dance e-zine, run by creative powerhouse Amanda Oaks (look out for a Featured Magazines post on Amanda’s work very soon!). One poem, The typist, is already online, with another, Sadness, going up in a couple of weeks.

The Universe is continuing to be extremely kind to me right now… and I am grateful!

Literary Death Match Edinburgh, Episode 4

On Tuesday night this week I went along — in serious trepidation, I must say — to Literary Death Match Edinburgh Episode 4. I had been put forward for this terrifying ordeal by the lovely Lynsey May, and then talked into definitely doing it by the equally lovely Vikki Reilly. LDM is a kind of slam-meets-cabaret night — four writers perform, they are judged by a panel of celebs, and then two finalists go head-to-head in a truly silly, funny, totally-not-competitive-at-all final. Needless to say, I was freakin’ out…
Anyway, my fellow readers were a green and glittery Sara Sheridan, wordsmith extraordinaire Michael Pedersen, and the always-bloody-excellent short fic wizard Gavin Inglis. In the draw (decided by shooting the audience with Nerf darts), I ended up being paired to go head-to-head with Gavin, and I have to say, at that point a lot of my nerves left me, because I figured I had no chance of getting into the final after that! The Pedersen v Sheridan round was tight, but Pedersen came through victorious after judges Hannah McGill, Alan Bissett and Christopher Brookmyre had deliberated. I did what I never, ever do and changed my set in the break between rounds — terrified because Todd (Zuniga, LDM creator and total legend) had threatened to Nerf-dart anyone who ran over their alloted 7 minutes…

Anyway, my turn finally came around. Gavin read spectacularly as always, while I sat on a shiny chair on the stage behind and tried not to giggle too raucously at his brilliant short fic/short play mashup which envisioned two prim Morningside ladies discussing strap-on sex (utter genius). I’ll be honest: it sucked hard to have to follow that with my pretty poems, but I somehow got my butt to the mic and read a short set that included Typewriter and the now-infamous If You Don’t Want To Be In A Poem. Gobsmackingly, the judges picked me over Gavin (seriously, I think my jaw was actually on the floor), and I went into the final with the inimitable Mr Pedersen.

Our final was a ‘literary spelling bee.’ When Todd announced this, my heart sank — not least because I was under the influence of a heady cocktail of Innes and Gunn mixed with nerves, adrenaline and sweat (tasty), but also because I AM AN ENGLISH TEACHER and if I were to publicly fail at spelling, and the spelling of famous authors’ names, no less, I’d officially be unable to face any of my students ever, ever again. Among the names we were required to correctly spell were Chinua Achebe, Chuck Palahniuk, Jeffrey Eugenides and Alexsander Solzhenitsyn. It was DAMN CLOSE, I tell you — and at one point I had to drag poor old Lovely Boyfriend up to the stage as my “phone-a-friend”, to spell Thoreau for me (which he did, perfectly). I actually think it was LB who won me the darned thing… although I was also pretty proud of myself for correctly spelling Ondaatje in spite of my nervous funk.

So yes, the short version is: I WON LITERARY DEATH MATCH EDINBURGH! But perhaps more importantly, I had a bloody great night once I got over my terror. And my highlight, rather than winning, was actually Alan Bissett — who’s freaking awesome, by the way: do your brain a favour and go read Death of a Ladies Man — telling me that If You Don’t Want To Be In A Poem was the best poem he’d seen performed in Scotland in the past five years. I don’t know if that was just the drink talking, but holy crap… it made my night.

Some photos of the night, by the brilliant Chris Scott, Literary Paparazzo, are here. I particularly like this one of Gavin and I looking frightened out of our wits…! Thanks a million to Chris, and to Lynsey, Vikki and of course, Todd. This is what literary nights should all be like (and I don’t just mean me getting a medal). Keep up all your excellent work, folks!

What are YOU loving this week?

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One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. 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!