Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tiny Touring

It’s been a while since I blogged, but there’s plenty been going on!

I’ve been on something of a mini-tour, with SLAMalgamate in Newcastle, Outspoken Slam at Manchester’s Contact and Forget What You heard About Spoken Word in London.  I’ve also done a handful of York dates, an event for One Billion Rising and a local acoustic gig alongside Robin from Random Hand at the Black Swan.

Though I didn’t win either slams, it just goes to show the wealth of talent in the spoken word network, with artists in both Newcastle and Manchester proving their skills at dynamic performance.  Hat’s off to Zach Roddis with his fantastic celebration of LGBT rights activists.  I also got to see Dominic Berry and Dean Atta, two great professional poets.

Every so often, I am reminded I must raise my game.  This night at London proved just that, a wealth of talents at the open mic hosted by Steph Dogfoot and Matt Cummins.


But the event in York organised by VENT rally excited me.  In the small basement of Sontanos, I saw something I’ve been searching for a long time in York, energetic performance poetry delivered to an audience eager for energetic performance poetry.  It really makes me think we can build a strong scene of performance poetry in York.  My DIY sense is tingling.

So, coming up I’m just doing more writing, more little gigs and planning for the summer.  I’m looking for any chance to perform, so let me know if there are any slots of festival opportunities coming up.  We filmed the set at the Black Swan, with special collaboration with Travels By Telephone, so watch out for that soon!

Finally, here’s a poem I’ve submitted to Fit To Work:  Poets Against ATOS

I see my Grandson look drained and hard
Dragging weighted school books like worlds.
I ask him about lessons, he wearily replies
“We have been learning about modern history.”
I see shame in my Grandson's eyes
Despite him being registered blind
And I wish I had seen back then
Weary anger rising.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


This poem was written for a VENT event in York raising awareness of women’s rights and rape across the world.  I wrote it when I was angry, and inspired by female activists over the past 100 years.



In York, 100 years ago in 1913

The suffragettes committed what some might call terrorism

They used explosive chemicals to blow up post boxes

In envelopes labelled to the PM, Lord Asquith

Based in their HQ, now Blue Fly bar

They made women’s right their hometurf war

They were radicals, the militant faction

Not making petitions but taking direct action

Here’s another blast from the past

When Dr King said:  “One day, free at last”

Some Black Americans screamed back loud

“Fuck one day, freedom NOW”

Rosa Parks, who would be 100 this year

Sat on a bus and refused to stir

Not because she just felt like it out of the blue

But because we was part of an existing activist doing what they had to do

Female Anarchist Assata Shakur said:  “Nobody in history has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who oppress them”

Here’s the Emma Goldman, who tied dancing to revolution

No Gods, No Masters, No Borders, No Nations

Here’s to Florence Reece, who in 1931

Penned the great picketline song ‘Which Side Are You On?’

There’s the bosses in their towers, we’re picking at the crumbs

When they chip away our rights, join or build a Union

Here’s to Pussy Riot, could it ever happen here?

Where music and activism get you locked up for 6 years

Here’s to Kate Tempest, Poly Styrene and Eve Libertine

Here’s to Patti Smith, Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear

In 2010 in York streets we cried with schoolchildren “march strike occupy”

Now those kids are off to Uni, or not, so is activism about compromise?

I’ve stood before riot police but their visors masked their eyes

I get annoyed with partisan politics and Trade Union hierarchies

And the reason I’m so angry is I probably listen to too much punk music

All my Facebook friends and twitter follows are socialists and anarchists

Is this hot air and youthful romanticising

Have I watched too many Ken Loach films or read too many Guardian articles?

Check my privilege, white, male, heterosexual and cisgender

The only thing I cling to is at least I’m still bloody northern

And even then, it’s York!

Let’s cut beyond the rhetoric and revolutionary talk

The cuts they made to the arts are tokenistic and sadistic

Education is a right not a fucking privilege

ATOS declares disabled people fit for work

As a result, 73 people die every single week

The NHS is getting privatised, where’s parliament democracy?

Maybe we forgot about it when we waved our flags for the monarchy

They get tax breaks on second homes

Whilst the bedroom tax traps people with nowhere else to go

This isn’t just Tory-bashing, they may vote against equal marriage, refuse the existence of poverty

But under a Labour council, we still have food banks and a reliance on charity in the city

What’s on the rise in the UK:  here’s a quick list of troubles

Deportations, evicts, house repossessions, homelessness, the far right and the suicide levels

So why do Tory and Labour cuts only affect young people, disabled people, ethnic minorities and, well, essentially the poor?

So, is it time to believe they’re waging a class war?

If you don’t agree with this, fine, I’m venting, getting stuff off my chest

But I promise you one thing, never mind your privilege

If you tolerate this, then you’ll be next