Catching up with HEADSTAND poetry podcasts featuring new interviews with MARK CURTIS, DES MANNAY and JOHN ELIOT!!!

 

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A little while back I had the pleasure of being featured in a podcast by HEADSTAND, CLICK HERE to hear, if you wish.

Since then I have been keen to keep anyone who happens upon my blogs up to speed with HEADSTAND, a semi-regular series of podcasts, some music based, others focusing on interviews with poets who perform their work.

Christmas meant I fell behind a little, so am now catching up with the three most recent HEADSTAND poet interviews, which as always, feature readings by the guest and the presenter, and prompts for the listener to contribute to future podcasts…

HEADSTAND

Every poet has their what they write, how they write and why they write and on this blog you will find links to podcasts about those very things, produced and presented by…

Patrick Widdess, the man behind HEADSTAND

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Patrick (author of Feeding The Spacemen) is a performance poet himself and has a keen interest in  the what, how and why, when it comes to the work of  his fellow poets.

Click on the links below to be taken on  journeys with Patrick to find out what poets have to say for themselves…

MARK CURTIS

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A prolific writer on themes both intensely personal and universal, Mark is an enthusiastic and regular performer at open mics. Questioning assumptions about us as people and often exploring the effects of traumatic experience, Mark uses writing to find balance within himself, and, indeed, balances out his more serious writing with other more imaginative and humorous writing, sometimes with a tinge of comic horror.

CLICK HERE to listen to the interview, during which Mark offers the prompt ‘Balance’ and listeners are invited to write whatever feels appropriate to them on this theme. Patrick will select contributions to read out in the next poetry related HEADSTAND. Indeed, this podcast features responses to the prompt of  ‘You Have Three Minutes Left To Live, What Is Your Final Message To The World’ offered in the previous HEADSTAND poetry podcast featuring…

DES MANNAY

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Driven by the desire to contribute to the cause of Social Justice, Des storms into open mic nights and competitions as a ‘Hooligan Poet’ shaking his fist at the causes of injustice as he perceives them, principally the grasping greed fed, but never satisfied, by the empty calories of Capitalism.

Unashamedly left leaning, with his political heart worn proudly on his sleeve, Des is not immune to the stirrings of the more romantic heart style, rarely more so than via the words of Remote Console, with its tale of unrequited love. CLICK HERE to listen and find out more about Des’s achievements during a hectic last twelve months. During the podcast you will hear responses to the prompt ‘Baby Shoes’ offered during the previous HEADSTAND podcast featuring…

JOHN ELIOT

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John Eliot (author of SSH) waxes lyrical about poetry and how it can help people connect with each other. CLICK HERE to listen. Serious and subtle in performance compared to some of the more outlandish performance poets but it isn’t compulsory to be loud, and like most of us, John enjoys more than one type of writing and his attendance and readings at spoken word events demonstrates he is certainly a supporter of all kinds of self expression. The podcast includes responses to the prompt from the previous interview featuring Christina Thatcher, for words on looking at the aspects of life that are, on the surface, mundane, yet hold their own entire world of meaning…

CLICK ON THE NAMES BELOW TO JUMP TO FURTHER HEADSTAND POETRY PODCASTS

CHRISTINA THATCHER

REUBEN WOOLLEY

FRAN SMITH

COSTA PRIZE WINNING POET JONATHAN EDWARDS

MAB JONES

WILL FORD 

JULIE PRITCHARD

find out more about the author of this blog on the following website…

www.willdeanford.com

 

 

MEGAVERSE NO.6 AT OXJAM TAKEOVER FESTIVAL, WOMANBY STREET 29/11/15

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Spot lit microphone and stand on an empty stage

With many thanks to Danusia Kuczys, Martine Whelan, Oxjam and all Oxjam volunteers and performers who made the event possible…

November 29th 2015…a bleak and stormy day in Cardiff for the OXJAM TAKEOVER Festival but hardy and brave souls fought the elements and made it to Womanby street, for music, burlesque and MEGAVERSE…Thanks to Paula Hughes (and where indicated, Bridget Leggy Tanner) for the pics below…

Thanks to all who came to perform and listen, and to Julie Pritchard, Lisa Megraw and Gemma June Howell who couldn’t be there in person but had their work shared with the audience.

CLICK HERE for further info on MEGAVERSE…

CLICK HERE  for further details on many of the poets featured in these pics of the two sessions of MEGAVERSE NO.6

MEGAVERSE NO.6 at URBAN TAP HOUSE 3pm-5pm(ish)

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Introductions, verse, song and cheer leading and shaking of the charity bucket from the MEGAVERSE organiser, and host Will Ford…

The poets….up first…

John Eliot…

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The Back and Front of Neil Davies…check out the T-shirt…

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Terri Hoskings…

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Mario Umberto Fiorillo…

Bernard Pearson…

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Johnny Giles…

Bel Blue…

Clive Oseman…

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Christina Thatcher…

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Fritz O’Skennick…pic by BLT

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Steven Kenward…Pic by BLT

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Des Mannay…Pic by BLT

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Mark Montinaro…Pic by BLT

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MEGAVERSE NO.6 at URBAN TAP HOUSE PART TWO 7pm-9pm(ish)

Part two kicked off with…

Mark Curtis…

Bridget Leggy Tanner…

Bryan Marshall…

Fran Smith…

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Patrick Widdess…

Will Ford Reading The Words of Lisa Megraw and Julie Pritchard…

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Farah Allibhai…

Paula Hughes…

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Dave Daggers…

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Ceri Sian…

Beth…

Laz Lazarus, reading on behalf of Gemma June Howell, before launching into his own box of tricks…

 

Thank you Lisa Megraw, Julie Pritchard And Gemma June Hall, who couldn’t make it in person but had their words shared in absentia!

Thanks again Paula Hughes and Bridget Leggy Tanner for the photos, Mostly by Paula above, more from BLT below…

Thanks everyone for your efforts to make it the best day it could possibly be for us all xx

willdeanford.com

Spot lit microphone and stand on an empty stage

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HEADSTAND RADIO POETRY PODCAST: CHRISTINA THATCHER ON CREATIVITY, CATHARSIS AND CARDIFF

Patrick Widdess, poet, performer and podcaster, in his usual warm and welcoming way, interviews Christina Thatcher, the latest guest on Headstand to freely talk of how and why they write and the value of the creative process…listen here 
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Creativity as a light in the darkness for processing troubling personal experiences is a prominent driving force for American-born Christina, both in her own writing and in the many inspiring poetry workshops she leads and groups she facilitates. In self exploration, strength can be found. The very heart of her work can be expressed in three simple words: write to empower.

However, all kinds of creativity with words, from the sublime to the ridiculous, stories, monologues, experiments of the most surreal kind and more are experienced by Christina with the delighted smile of someone truly thankful for her own creativity and desire to draw the very best out everyone who wishes to pick up a pen (and also those who have never even considered doing so yet).

Whether as a writer, event organiser, performer, tutor, workshop facilitator or simply as a reader or listener, Christina Thatcher seeks to engage with people and creativity on all levels and her sheer enthusiasm for embracing all aspects of light and dark in creativity makes others feel brave enough to believe they could follow her example!

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Tune in, and enjoy! And then why not take a look at the rest of what you will find in the series of blogs produced and presented for Headstand by Patrick Widdess?

My Website

RHYME, TREASON, SINGING, RATHER PLEASING

The evening of Thursday September 24th 2015 at the Andrew Buchan pub, Roath, Cardiff looked a little something like this pic taken by the organiser and host…

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Lots to enjoy at Rhyme and Treason, organised and hosted by Dave Daggers, featuring perfomances by Dave, Will Ford (me!), Christina Thatcher, Special Guest author and comic gentleman Mark Blayney and Special Musical Guest Bel Blue (accompanied by Andy Constable). Sadly, a much anticipated contribution by the brill Karen Sherrard was not to be, due to a pesky back related situation, but keep your eyes open for her, and catch her if you can, because she is a rather funny lady, in all the best ways that could be meant!

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A pictorial record of the Rhyme and Treason, courtesy of the keen eyed camera of Paula Hughes will now begin (ending with ‘a slightly alternative reaction to Rhyme and Treason starring a dog’)

Dave Daggers, serenading the ears and funny bones with French Love Songs and Cannibals On Cannabis

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Dave, Poetry For Dummies on the music stand, shooting out a verse about a trip to the Moon and The Best Poem Ever Written…

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Dave, reflected in the ceiling mirror…

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Having got the night of to a warm and funny start, Mr Daggers introduced Will Ford…

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Offering mostly silly verse, featuring the love-bot T.O.B.E.V.O.L, Batman doing open mic poetry, five little piggies and including a more seriously tinged verse on the subject of depression, Snowflakes From Your Eyes…For the sake of voice protection, the Christian Bale style Bat-Voice was shouty-growled at the audience at the end of the set…

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Will on the ceiling…Two heads are better than one, add both together for the amount of hair he used to have…

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After the first break, Dave called up Christina Thatcher, who as always, brought dignity and authority to her delivery of very personal work about her love for her husband to be, which followed equally personal work about the loss of her father from a collection of poems about that experience and more…

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Ever enthusiastic about one thing above all others in her work and teaching, Christina embodies the idea of the transformative power of writing about experiences and feelings which would otherwise get stored up inside and do nothing but hurt us…

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Spell check just tried to tell me ‘transformative’ is not actually a word. But it is the best non-word to use for the ethos Christina both espouses and practices…And since it has become a motif for this blog: Christina, reflected in the Andrew Buchan ceiling mirror…

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Next up came a very welcome special guest…As well as being a truly gifted comic performer, Mark Blayney is an award-winning author, whose new collection Doppelgangers can be found (and bought if you wish) if you click on this link to his website

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Mark raised the profanity bar comedically high as he addressed the audience as though everyone present was part of the mythical group he was standing before, a gathering of the members of the society for saying the first thing that comes into your head, with Prince Philip as the patron of the unfiltered, unguarded remark (who else could it be? And who will the society find to succeed him, given his age and proximity to the grave?)

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Mark, reflected by the ceiling mirror as he portrayed a character certainly not taking the time to reflect before speaking…

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After the second break, the last act of the evening came in the soulful-folk form of Bel Blue and her percussionist, husband, surfer and creator of BongaBoard, Andy Constable…

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Whether playing solo, with Andy, or additional musicians, Bel’s songs encapsulate both frailty and strength and this thirty minute set certainly had heart…

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It also had a Wild Dog Rose, a River of Dreams and more…

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2016 will see the release of an E.P of songs from Bel Blue…

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And you can find out more about Bel here

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After an emotional set, Dave Daggers demands an encore, and joins in on ukulele for a harder, rockier closing song that revealed the steel under the soul of the music offered by Bel and Andy..

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Cue much applause and warm thanks offered by Dave for all who came to share their work and the audience who came to listen and watch and enjoy…

But…

Not everyone loves poetry, and here is the view of the occasion from our canine correspondent…a silly experiment in caption writing by the bloke behind this blog…Hey, dog, do you like poetry!!!

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Did someone say ‘poetry’?
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Save me from poetry, Mummy

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Poetry…AAAAAAHHH!!!
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Will there be walkies in Heaven? Poetry, you killed me…

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Thank you Paula Hughes for the pics and these smiles from you and Christina!

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Cheers Dave Daggers, for Rhyme And Treason!

MY WEBSITE

RHYME AND TREASON

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For a variety of spoken and sung, serious and comic words, come to RHYME AND TREASON, Thursday, September 24, 8pm, Andrew Buchan Bar, Roath, Cardiff

Featuring…Dave Daggers…Christina Thatcher…me (poetry/spoken word) Karen Sherrard (professional humour maker and character comedian) Mark Blayney (word wrangler of extraordinary skill in aiming for the heart and the funny bone)

PLUS SPECIAL MUSICAL GUEST…BEL BLUE

I may, or may not, include this slight antidote to my sillier stuff such as Do Not Go Gentle Into That Dark Knight.

A song. To be sung without accompaniment. Very Depeche Mode-esque, in tone and tune, but words and tune by me…

THE BITTEREST PILL
Now, I am only human
And I’m not infallible
And the race to save face from disgrace
Causes most of our trouble
Denial’s wall will be torn down
Reduced to rubble
Ego helps you out at first
Then bursts your bubble

LMSSTART

Chorus
The bitterest pill, the bitterest pill
Forms on the inside
The bitterest pill, the bitterest will
Never swallow their pride
The bitterest pill, the bitterest pill
The bitterest pill…

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Lies, evasions, excuses
To cover our mistakes
Only ends up making things worse
For the Human Race
The mirror will frown back at you
If you avert your gaze
But you’ll have to look yourself
Right in the eye one of these days

REPEAT CHORUS

Now, I am only human
And I’m not infallible
And the race to save face from disgrace
Causes most of our trouble
Denial’s wall will be torn down
Reduced to rubble
Ego helps you out at first
Then bursts your bubble

REPEAT CHORUS

LMSFINISH

MY WEBSITE

Busy and Breathless Times continue…take 2

My second attempt at The Lost Blog referred to in my last blog…

Whether new to wordsmithery or a more experienced hand (ooer) it is always a sweet feeling to be featured in a publication and many writers from Cardiff, Newport and other places (including Swindon) have felt the sweetness in the last couple of weeks…

September 8th, Rhyme and Real Ale. Julie Pritchard’s second Monday of every month free to all open mic night launched a first volume of diverse musings from the diverse minds diving through the doors of RARA during a first very successful year. Words to reach out to your heart and mind and every now and again, to tickle your funny bone.

This compact compendium of compositions was constructed for Julie and the rest of us nestling between the covers by the awesome Nick Lovell, Swindon based and therefore the RARA regular with the most miles on the clock! The above and below pics taken by Nick of his handiwork feature a front cover image by Bex Marriot and a back cover ‘optical illusion’ I came up with from two photos from previous RARA nights taken by Dave Daggers. Scroll to the end of this blog to see where to come to share your words and lend your ears!

The evening at RARA was kicked off by the launch of the second Anthology of work by members of the very welcoming Roath Writers group

(cover image by Simon L Read)

Hosted with smiles of humble pride by Roath Writers founder (and editor of the anthology) Christina Thatcher, the first half of the RARA night featured confident readings from some but not all those listed below

After the hosting mic was handed back to Julie for the second section of the night  many  (but not all, sadly) RARA anthology contributors shared their words

And there was still time to squeeze in some open mic performances on a night when the already popular event heard from many readers for the first time. More please!

Speaking of more…

In this blog  I linked to my contribution to the Letter to an Unknown Soldier project that attracted over twenty thousand contributions. A lovely email from the project folk told me that around 150 of the letters are going to be published as a book in November by a historical imprint of Harper Collins! The typos in my original online submission will not feature in the book 🙂

 

During the Bristol Poetry Festival I will be among many others reading some words at The Hydrazine Launch. The event will take place from 7pm at the Hydra Bookshop, 34 Old Market Street, Bristol, September 29th. The Hydrazine is published by Hesterglock Press and features work by readers at Matt Duggan’s regular event An Evening of Spoken Indulgence, including one by me. There will also be some poetic films, including one I directed for DOJO that just about qualifies, if we can sort out the file in time…

MEGAVERSE was the name I came up with for the spoken word event  I curated for the 2014 HUB festival in Cardiff. Overwhelmingly a music based festival it might have been but performers including some from Roath Writers and Rhyme and Real Ale and readers from as far afield as Laugharne and Camarthen brought a multitude of perspectives on the world and life, giving poetry sparky and spunky attitudes many people would never expect and others would call ‘not poetry’ but stuff the stuffy, it was a spoken form long before books were invented and the tradition lives on!

Before I mention the next MEGAVERSE related event I must thank Mab Jones for suggesting me as organiser/host for spoken word to Owen Bowley, organiser of HUB. She was asked if she would take on the task, but she was unable to due to being in Edinburgh with her poetic partner Johnny Giles doing (I think) 35 shows in total, including supporting Phil Jupitus (in his guise as Porky the Poet). She was also promoting her then forthcoming and now published book…see promo details below

 

MEGAVERSE will be back at the 

Running from 11-14 October 2014, this festival will be helping to promote various kinds of artistic expression, including poetry and spoken word from the over thirty readers name checked here We will be performing at the Cardiff Millennium Centre where you will find us by the Dylan Thomas Travelling Writing Shed during the day of Sunday October 12th 2014. Megaverse alone will be providing two 90 minutes slots of local and not so local poets and spoken word performers!

First Slot 12.15-1.45

Second slot 2.30-4.00

With additional feature performers (including Rufus Mufasa and Ffion Wyn) delivering their words between and after the Megaverse slots, much to hear, and

I’ll thank Mab again, because organising and hosting the first Megaverse led to me being asked to organise and host some Megaverse Poetry Sessions for this festival. And the momentum has also led to me being asked to organise and host a comedy event for

This annual and growing Cardiff Arts Festival will feature practically any art form you can name, including stand up comedy in the form of  GUFFAWESOME at A Shot in the Dark in Roath Saturday 7.30-10.30pm, Saturday October 18th. There will be stand up comedians from Cardiff and Bridgend (and elsewhere). The evening will include an open mic section for anyone who wants to make others laugh with stand up, verse, or song and try to anger the featured performers by being funnier than them 😉 Still in the planning stages right now, but I will be hosting and throwing some comic verse at you during the night. more details coming soon…

That’s still not all, folks…

September 24th at the North Star Restaurant/Bar Making Minds, Giving Voices will be presenting their second evening of verse and song and more, exploring mental health related issues. Sounds like serious stuff but there will be fun among the provocation of thought. I will be opening the open mic section (after having been a featured reader at the first one of these events  on September 6th) and the featured readers for the 24th will include Sophie Chei. But why am I telling you that when you can click the links and find out for yourself, eh? 😉 (Update, one of the feature performers had to cancel, so I was drafted in and in addition to serious minded pieces, opted to get shouty a little on the night in the quite talky pub, so included 73.836776% Bullshit and The Booty Song)

Almost finally, National Theatre Wales Team Word4Word will be heading for Pontypridd, Saturday October 4th at the social club just minutes from the train station. Patrick Jones is the headline poet and I will be among those competing for two prizes, one to be decided by NTW TEAM, the other to be voted for by the audience. So if you are nearby, why not come? 7-ish pm is what is in my mind but will be more precise on a day when I haven’t been doing a long blog for the second time and my mind is less mashed. Meanwhile here is a link to some photos from the previous Word4Word that took place at the Porters bar in Cardiff.

Finally, here are some more photos… 

(above pic by Bridget Leggy Tanner)

(below pic by some poor soul minding their own business in Cardiff pub The George suddenly being asked to take a pic, on the night of the delivery of the Anthology to Roath Writers by Christina Thatcher, one week before the RARA night readings).

Where’s Will(y)? Reverse photobomber, right there at the back 😉

 

My stop on The Writing Process Blog Tour

Firstly, thank you to the wonderfully incisive, insightful, humane creator of multilayered poetry, Ivy Alvarez, for asking me if I wanted to take part in The Writing Process Blog Tour. You can see her blog for the Tour here. I had the honour of reviewing Disturbance (Ivy’s most recent book of verse) for New Welsh Review, and you can see my thoughts here.

Secondly, you can see the Tour blog by novelist and short story writer, Carol Burns (who invited Ivy to contribute) here.

Thirdly, next Monday, April 28th, you will be able to see what the lovely and inspiring poet, educator and literary event event organiser, Christina Thatcher has to say about her writing process and more here. See after my blog for her bio 🙂

Fourthly, my answers to the four questions you will find answered at each stop on the tour…
1) What am I working on?

—Prepping for Oxslam 2014, May 1st, the fourth annual poetry slam between Cardiff and Swansea, facing off in a good cause. I will be the Cardiff Team Captain. Facebook event Page here.

—Simultaneously prepping for the Dylan Thomas Festival in Laugharne the following evening when I will be among other (mainly Cardiff based) performers at the Dylan Thomas Festival in Laugharne as part of the Back of the Pub Poetry Club.

—Working on a parody performance piece The Priestly Boys, (w)rapping up Catholicism in a Beastie Boys flavoured package for an open mic event I will probably also be the guest host for around mid-May (will blog nearer the time).

—Working on promoting my booklet of my story in verse and prose Human Beings (Dickensian Twist) launched at the monthly Cardiff Rhyme and Real Ale poetry event last Monday night (see my website for artwork, willdeanford.com). Next up booklet-wise is likely to be one of my other longer form verse/story pieces, Cupid’s Evil Twin.
—Working on collecting together the comedic and more serious aspects of my performance verse and longer story verse pieces for submission to a publisher actually inviting such things.

—Going on then coming off the back burner as time allows, a collection of short stories provisionally titled The In and Out of Control Freaks of Fordham City. A series of individual stories, all set in Fordham City, in part a parody of the idea that everybody in a city has their own story while they can be blissfully unaware of the stories of others. The characters are mainly linked by wishing to be more in control of their own situation, but facing something that conflicts with that. The theme of hunger (literal/emotional/metaphorical) features regularly as does the idea of the Alpha Male (eviscerated/parodied/exposed as illusory and temporary). The power struggles of sex mad ducks; the sexual politics of one night stands; addiction as a psychological duel between the addict and his Helldog; a mysterious condition called Somnia; a man answers his front door to a woman who throws a kitten at him then scarpers; an Infernal direct sales letter; Jesus escaping from an asylum; many more oddities offer a kaleidoscopic approach to the recurring themes writ small, large, and every other size things may be writ. The name of the city came from The Dudemen, my knowing, but affectionate parody of the comic book genre, with Fordham City being my proxy for other cities like Gotham. And once I had that setting, Fordham ‘adopted’ my other tales and became a city where literally anything might happen.

2)How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t consider myself to be following a particular genre. If I do anything at all as a ‘motif’ it is to cast the ordinary frustrations of life into as realistic or fantastical a setting as best suits a particular piece. My writing has been described as semi-noir or B-Movie style, casting a quizzical eye at the quotidian, like a moving version of a painting by Edward Hopper. But that is just one approach I use, and rather than seeking to fit into a genre I seek to ask a reader to trust me to have a reason for the choice of genre or setting and the comedic or otherwise tone I have struck with any particular piece. Which in marketing terms no doubt makes me an awkward bugger.

3)Why do I write what I do?

I wonder about things. I wonder about the world, its past, its present, its future and I wonder about human beings, the things that are expected of them, the desires they have within and how they reconcile any distance between these things. I want to make people laugh, I want to make people think and sometimes I want people to be doing these things simultaneously. I write what I write as reflection of self, upon individuals, upon society, upon how people really feel inside and the pressures to follow the flock on the outside. I wish to reflect on my own contradictions and complexities and credit other people with the intelligence to read into what I do whatever they happen to perceive. In simplistic terms, I would rather be the sudden curveballs, gut-punching blindsidings and merciful sudden comic relief of Breaking Bad than the ‘We will tell you what you should feel because we know best’ approach to drama.

I use a television reference here because even people who love to read watch films and TV. The snobby type would have it that one form of writing is inherently superior to another, but that kind of attitude keeps people small and denies them many rich experiences, in my opinion. People do want shorthand in trying to decide what to make of a writer, however, so I have just given the simplest explanation I can in the previous paragraph. To me it is all about knowing what response you are going for, nudging people towards that specific response via the best available technique, and wanting the kind of audience that is willing to pay attention to small details and reach their own conclusions as part of the fun. Whatever the form, it is all about trying to engage the imagination of other human beings. As a ‘consumer’ of the writing of others, I know what I am willing to give, I know how patient I am willing to be. I know how willing to wait for a payoff I am and I want to have that kind of relationship with anyone ‘consuming’ what I do. My writing is a formalised version of my relationship with the world. And on any given day, depending on the mood of the time, or the context of events, the way we see things changes. There is doubt. There is frustration. There is random humour. There is tragedy, but there is brilliance and hope. All human life is out there and the individual imagination is infinite. So in writing terms, whether it be dark or light, serious or silly, I write with the hope that something unexpected will happen. I write to know myself and the world better.

4)How does my writing process work?

Sometimes strict parameters can be set in advance, sometimes an idea can be followed to see where it leads, without fear, because nobody ever has to see the results unless it has led somewhere. And how can anybody ever become the unique individual wordsmith they have the capacity to be if (allowing for the pressure of deadlines and expectations of editors), they have never roamed the inside of their own head and discovered that there are no frontiers there but those they select or have imposed upon them?

For me the process is secondary to the initial spark of the idea. Something sets the process in motion and the process used should serve that something. I wrote Cupid’s Evil Twin after wondering if there was an anti-Cupid, causing all the heartbreak in the world. The words “Cupid’s Evil Twin Fires poison tipped arrows, into the hearts of the lonely, on every cold night” came quickly. I decided to write whatever came next and worry about structure later. Similarly with Dickensian Twist (the title/theme of a poetry slam), the words “It was a dark, dark night. Dark, dark things were happening…” came from somewhere at the back of my mind and I wrote what came next, than what came next, and didn’t know where it was going until it got there, then came the work of making things flow inexorably until it appeared that it was inevitably going to take the form it did (a late brief appearance in the tale of ‘The Elephant Man’ seems to indicate that was always going to be the point of my use of the words ‘Human Beings’ as a recurring phrase, but, hand on heart, this perfect little moment didn’t come until the writing process was very nearly over). Trusting in the process of writing a piece to prompt the subconscious to provide what you need can bring great dividends. You don’t always need to know precisely where you are going to get where it was always heading! I was writing for a one off poetry slam yet ended up with something people have been willing to pay for, to read in their own time. A definite process for approaching the former might never have led to the latter.

Conversely, another story/verse piece of mine arose from the thought of how it might feel to to be a First World War deserter, waiting to be shot the next day. Then, with a stricter verse structure set in advance than I normally impose on myself, I imposed an absolute time limit on the writing of the piece. I set an alarm for 7.00am, began writing at midnight and gave myself that time for my narrator to tell his story, a story of a life running out of time. And the more time ticked away, the more angry and questioning the narrator became. King and Country were condemned. God and Christ were disavowed, as the capacity for man to be cruel to his fellow man drained the narrator of all his hope. I wrote as if my life was the one being snuffed out when daybreak came and there would be no time to say anything else, ever. And the reaction to the piece when I have read it has been wonderful.

Also, shorter time limits, writing to prompts given in a class, can also draw pieces of work, practically fully formed, from the ever active subconscious that would never have occurred to a writer operating in their usual way, employing their tried and tested processes.

To sum up, the process I would use would be as formal or as experimental as seems appropriate. Sometimes the goals are completely consciously pursued, sometimes it is a wander into the woods of the mind to see what is discovered. Whatever works best for the project is best. If there was a magic formula or infallible approach, we would all already know what it is!
I look forward to exploring the thoughts of other writers on this tour, including, next Monday (April 28 2014) the ever encouraging Christina Thatcher 🙂

Christina Thatcher is an American graduate of the Creative Writing MA program at Cardiff University. While studying, she fell in love with Wales and now runs creative writing workshops for at-risk youth and community members across the valleys. Christina keeps busy in Cardiff too where she facilitates the local ‘Roath Writers’ group, hosts open mic events, and tries to keep on top of her PhD. Her poetry has recently been published in The London Magazine, Neon Literary Magazine, and the Lampeter Review, among others, and her first pamphlet is forthcoming from Stairwell Books. To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website/blog, or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.