Peterborough Poet Laureate 2018 applications are now open!

After a good old stint by yours truly, we are recruiting a new Peterborough Poet Laureate.

About the competition
The competition, held annually since 1998, is to find a local poet to hold the honorary title for one year. Throughout the year the Poet Laureate will work with The John Clare Trust and Vivacity Culture Trust, The Library Service and the Community to identify opportunities to make creative writing and particularly poetry part of the life of the city, chronicling special events and celebrating the City of Peterborough. Although the role is unpaid there will be reasonable expenses available, and the title ‘Peterborough Poet Laureate’ is recognition of your talent and gives a unique role in the community.

This year the final is being generously supported by Vivacity and the Key Theatre, and the final will be held at The Key Theatre on National Poetry Day 2017.

 

How to apply

This year’s theme is - ‘Roots’. As with any theme chosen for the Laureate competition, this theme can be interpreted very broadly. It could be taken literally; gardening, un-dyed hair, landscape, the natural world. Or you could interpret the theme more figuratively; tunnels, cores, energy, ancestry, where do you come from? What does the theme conjure for you?

Peterborough’s poetry scene is thriving. We are looking for someone who is currently involved, or will be willing to get involved, in continuing to cultivate a brilliant poetry community. Previous laureates have set up new nights, secured funding for the arts, worked in schools, performed at non-poetry events, and supported the growth of new poets. We want someone who will wear the role on their sleeve, not lock it away in a trophy case.

Download the application form and complete before 31st August 2017 to peterboroughpoetsunited@gmail.com

 

SUPPORT SLOT ANNOUNCEMENT #2 - KEELY MILLS

I am so, so honoured to have this legendary lady on our line-up. If you're from Peterborough and you don't know who she is... where have you been? Please give it up, for KEELY MILLS!

Keely Mills is a poet who has performed across the UK and with some of the greats of the spoken word scene including Attila the Stockbroker and John Cooper Clarke, she was proud to be the Peterborough Poet laureate in 2009 and she produced the fantastic poetry night, ‘Speakeasy’ with the talented Mark Grist for four years working with some of the best poets in the UK, such as Kate Tempest and Ross Sutherland. Currently she is poet in residence in Epping forest for the Epping Forest district council.
And to add to that she is also the Peterborough Project manager for Eastern Angles Theatre co and has worked on many of their successful shows which have been about or have been produced in Peterborough over the last five years. Her personal hi-lights being ‘I heart Peterborough’ ‘Dark Earth’ and ‘Parkway Dreams’ a musical about Peterborough and the development corporation which returns to the Key Theatre in October.
Her main credential of note is that she is from the village of Eye, just outside of Peterborough and her work has been heavily influenced by this area, her childhood and her love for this fenland landscape and people.

Book your tickets here.

SUPPORT SLOT ANNOUNCEMENT #1 - URIAH

Be prepared to be wooed by wordplay and style. Say hello to our first February support slot, URIAH.

 

URIAH is a Filipino-American singer, songwriter, rapper, and spoken word artist. He was born in Angeles City, Philippines and grew up in between The Philippines, Texas, and Japan. In 2004 URIAH performed as the lead singer and writer for a band called Selah in his hometown of Olongapo City, Philippines. That same year Selah released a self-titled EP with two notable singles, "Consuming Fire", and "77 x 7". After the band parted ways, URIAH continued to write and performed at small spoken word venues. Later, in 2011, with the help of sound engineer Hiroshi "Oichang" Oyama, he began an artistic solo venture in Okinawa, Japan.

URIAH has released three (solo) albums; The Stars and Their Places (2011), and Sound of Light (2012), and Morals of a Mortal (2016). The follow up to Morals, tentatively titled WANDERLOVE is currently slated for a late 2017 release. Currently, URIAH resides in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England.

http://www.whoisuriah.com/

Let this video speak for itself:

That time we interviewed Benjamin Zephaniah

It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but at our October Freak Speak, here in Peterborough, Benjamin Zephaniah joined our little night as an audience member to watch a plethora of poets take to the stage. I know.

And as testament to his incredible character, he agreed to join Charley for a chat to share his experiences of the night, and his bountiful wisdom. Here's a compilation of our chat (it was really hard to cut any of the footage down, every word Benjamin utters is captivating). The next Freak Speak is on 10th Feb, so bear that in mind when you listen to why Benjamin thinks Freak Speak is important.

SUPPORT SLOT ANNOUNCEMENT #3 - JACK BATEMAN

So once again I've broken the rules and picked three supporting artists instead of two. Sorry ACE. Say hello to your third supporting act for October, Jack Bateman.

Jack Bateman loves creating poetry/performance and exploring identity, gender and sexuality. He has a habit of exploding over the stage – using the space, his body and his words to create an event out of each poem! His poems take on a life of their own on stage. Some are crazy and camp, others take a more serious tone and some mesh everything together… but guaranteed is the full force of energy with which he performs them!

SUPPORT SLOT ANNOUNCEMENT #2 - ALIYAH HASINAH

This woman. This freakin' woman. I was lucky enough to collaborate with this formidable poet on National Poetry Day Live 2015  when Freak Speak was still a foetus. Now I get to work with her all over again. Say hello to Aliyah Hasinah.

Aliyah Hasinah is a poetic artivist and wannabe historian whose poetry focuses on personal understandings of history, politics and social commentary. In 2015 she set up Herstory LIVE, a live performance event in Birmingham focusing on the histories often whitewashed out of history books. Some of her work is soon to be published in an anthology by Saqi Books. Aliyah is part of Bellows Collective and Ten Letters with work being commissioned by the National Trust, BRAP, Co-Ed Foundation and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

SUPPORT SLOT ANNOUNCEMENT #1 - THE REPEAT BEAT POET

So it's that time again - say hello to our emerging starlets who are taking to the stage with October's stellar line-up. First up, meet Peter deGraft-Johnson, aka the effortlessly cool, The Repeat Beat Poet.

The Repeat Beat Poet is a spoken word artist, student of Hip Hop, meticulous rhymer and an unashamed tea enthusiast who combines complex pieces with precise, passionate, and powerful delivery. 

“Poetry delivered with a preacher’s conviction and subtle eloquence of a master wordsmith” - Cypher League

Why let a bio do the talking when you can watch him yourself? Here's 'Swinging':

A response to 'When will you be doing a White History Month?'

I would like to address various comments made on our status seeking poets to apply for our paid support slot. We have been accused of segregation and division and we are not okay with this. Freak Speak is about championing and reclaiming the 'otherness' in the world; allowing those voices a platform, a mic and an audience who are supportive and inclusive. You can see the Facebook post in question here.

"Posting that your looking for coloured poets...... like ya have to be black or mixraced to support black history month or say black lives matter......
That is part of the problem division...."

As we responded in the Facebook stream, we apologise if our wording came across as reductive. But, at what point have we stated that 'writers of colour' excludes the white voice? We haven't. We have said that we accept applications from all backgrounds and styles. White people have the luxury of being able to, as they please, denounce and claim the binary of their skin because it doesn't bear that heavy history in its melanin. White history is simply institutionalised 'his story', and white people have the freedom of language to deconstruct 'white' to call themselves pink and freckled and all lives and individualised history. There is no such easy escape from language or discourse for black lives.

Furthermore, the retaliation 'what about the white voice' is the embodiment of privilege. The white voice feels it has a right to be heard in any scenario; to correct, to belittle, to shout from the rooftops 'I am here and I have language and you will listen'. It is apparent on this status:

"Wonders when you'll be doing ..a white history month and white lives matter ? .....see it stinks. You have by default segregated everyone. We are all coloured in our skin and all lives should matter".

To quote one of my poems, we are stuck believing in the dynasty of opposition. This person clearly finds the concept of elevating the see-saw of society to put someone non-white on the higher end threatening. It is possible to have a celebration of one culture/heritage/skin without that meaning the deficit of another. The premise of this scenario, this poetry night, wasn't made for that white voice, that white history. My god, something that wasn't made for you, what a barbaric concept!

However, a white voice is being heard, because I am a white woman producing this event. And as a white woman, I want to showcase and support emerging writers in Cambridgeshire and beyond whose voices aren't being heard in a local scene, whose skin and heritage and culture have been, and are still being erased. What is wrong with that?

We are supporting black history month and black lives matter because we believe in all lives matter. Just as we have supported our local food bank and refugee shelters because we believe all lives matter. If you don't understand and support this decision to actively seek writers of colour to celebrate a movement for non-white voices, then you aren't the kind of poet we'd want to book at any gig.

 

You want to see a White History Month, by all means go ahead an curate your own event. See where that gets you.

We're looking for some freakin' poets!

ARE YOU A POET? WANNA FREAK WITH US?

Part of what we do at Freak Speak is offer poets and spoken word artists who are looking to make some money from their poems an opportunity to do so, by freaking with us. Want to be on the same bill as Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, & Adam Kammerling?

At each Freak Speak, there are up to two 10 minute support slots for poets/spoken word artists to apply for. The successful applicants will receive £30, plus 10 tickets to sell (retailing at £6), for which they will receive a £3 commission per ticket sold. Sound good? No, you're right, it sounds great. To apply for the next Freak Speak on Friday 7th October, simply fill out the form below before Friday 16th September.

As we are supporting Black History Month and Black Lives Matter movements at this Freak Speak, we are especially looking for writers of colour based in Cambridgeshire to apply. But if you don't fit those categories, do't let that put you off applying. If we dig you on paper, doesn't matter about appearance.

If for some reason the form doesn't work/ you'd prefer to fill out a word doc, drop me an email on charleygenever@hotmail.co.uk.

Name *
Name

Freak Speak stage at PECT's Green Festival 2016

Freak Speak Presents:

Thought For Food

Freak Speak is super duper stoked to announce that we are hosting a tasty poetry stage for this year's Green Festival in Peterborough on Saturday 13th August.

Introducing - Thought For Food

Thought for Food is a collaboration between Freak Speak, Alex Tyler (who came up with the kickass idea), PECT, and you. We'll be using poetry to collect donations for Peterborough Food Bank. If you want to perform, bring a can. If you want to watch, bring a box.

Green Festival 2016 poetry

We'll be situated in the Green Square (in the beautiful new poetry benches outside Burger King/Queensgate entrance) and the day will be split into two sections.

12 - 2PM: THOUGHT FOR FOOD OPEN MIC

There are 12 slots up for grabs at our open mic. 10 minutes a piece. To keep it fair, we'll be filling up 6 slots in advance for you eager beavers that want to ensure you get on the bill, and the other 6 slots will only be available on the day. To grab one of the slots before they're gone, email Charley or contact us via Speak with Freak. All we ask is that at least one poem in your set deals with green themes associated with the Green Festival, and that you bring an item of food for the food bank. Oh, and that you're not a sweary fairy, as y'know, family audiences.

2:30 - 4PM: THOUGHT FOR FOOD SLAM

THAT'S RIGHT. Freak Speak are doing Peterborough's first ever slam and it's going to be outrageous. Up to 8 slammers will fight for the right to wear the title of Peterborough's FIRST SLAM CHAMPION, and all for a wicked cause. Entry costs 2 items of food, or a £3 donation to Peterborough Food Bank.

Again, we'd love poems that are about green themes, and they must be suitable for a family audience. Each slammer will have a 5 minute time limit, and will be judged by a team of local superheroes (to be announced). The winner will get free entry for them and two guests to BOTH upcoming Freak Speaks (7th October 2016 & 10th February 2017). To apply, send an example of your work and a brief bio (200 words max) to Charley or via Speak with Freak.

Freak Speak returned!

Boy, did we return? Freak Speak took Radius and Peterborough by storm last night, and I'm still amazed at how killer the night was. Radius is a big space to fill, but over 60 people came to watch poetry on a Friday night. How incredible is that?

We have some thanks to give, so here's our speech:

Thank you to everyone who made Freak Speak freaky and speaky. To our headline artists - Joelle Taylor, Inua Ellams, & Talia Randall. I am in complete awe of you all; your mastery of language and command of the stage are unparalleled, thank you for sharing yourselves with Peterborough. To our support artists - Fay Roberts, Ben Norris, Lauren Kendrick, and Alex Tyler. You were each full of fire, and showed exactly why I offer the paid support slot rather than do an open mic. You deserve to be up there alongside the headliners. To our kick-ass host Paul Point, you always kill it, and you are an absolute pleasure to work with.

To the behind the scenes crew. To my boyfriend Andy for helping move tables, work the door, and for keeping me from stressing out. To our sound man, Harry Carter (DJ Harry). You kept the poets from popping and kept us loud, which is exactly what we need. To our photographer/videographer Rosie Cooper. Your attention to detail is beautiful, you are totally on my wavelength, and I am so excited to see the final results, which I know will be stunning. To Radius, especially Dave, who made the lights cool as fuck and made the set-up so easy for us. To Mike the bar man for keeping everyone full of liquid.

Finally, to every last one of you who came to support something new and different in Peterborough. Especially those of you who filled in feedback forms.

Once I've come down from this insane high I'll crack on with planning the next edition of Freak Speak. It is looking like it'll be in October, so make sure you've liked our social media etc.

See you then?

Cx

Support slot announcement #3 - Alex Tyler

Introducing our final of our 3 support acts at May's edition of Freak Speak - our very own Peterborough poet, Alex Tyler.

This is Alex, say 'hi, Alex'

Alex is a Peterborough based spoken word artist, a bit of an exhibitionist and when he has time, is also a teacher and a wannabe actor. He has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a number of years and is in the process of creating a one man show which he swears, involves costume changes and everything! He performs whenever he can and hopes to one day get his act together and enter a proper slam competition.

I first saw Alex perform at The Hive live art day at The Green Backyard, and I'm so excited to see him again at Freak Speak. To book tickets, check Freak Gigs or head straight to Eventbrite.

Support slot announcement #2 - Fay Roberts

Say hello to our second human to fill our May support slots. And, my, what a human!

This is Fay, say 'hi, Fay!'

(c) Louise Frohock

(c) Louise Frohock

Fay Roberts is a peripatetic, percussive performance poet by night, and a professional projector by day. She runs the Cambridge branch of the Hammer & Tongue slam series, and her own poetry label Allographic (which functions as a small press and a platform for performers), along with directing the Spoken Word section of The Free Fringe in Edinburgh2013-14, returning again in 2016. She is a classically-trained singer, a self-taught drummer, a bit of a mumbler sometimes, and speaks with her hands. In 2014, she “won” the Edinburgh Fringe Anti-Slam (where the worst poem and performance with the lowest points wins a terrible prize).

“We need more poetry like this... funny, confident, modest and a really bloody good poet to listen to” (Hollie McNish).

“Her poetry combines lyrical flair with a solid emotional core… there is no one quite like her”(Tim Clare).

“Gorgeously sensuous” (SabotageReviews.com).

Having experienced some of the amazing things Fay produces and facilitates in Cambridge, we're so excited to see her solely wearing her poetry hat on Friday 13th May! To get your Freak Speak tickets, check out Freak Gigs or head straight to Eventbrite.

Support slot announcement #1 - Ben Norris

Say hello to the first of our THREE supporting slots at our May edition of Freak Speak. Yep, the calibre of applicants was so high I couldn't just have two.

This is Ben, say 'hi, Ben'.

Ben Norris is an actor, writer and spoken-word artist. He was 2013 UK All-Stars Poetry Slam Champion, his debut one-man show won the 2015 IdeasTap Underbelly Award, and in 1998 he finished a very close second in the Mapperley Plains Primary School Mini-Marathon. He's appeared on festival and concert hall stages across the country, and his work has been broadcast numerous times on BBC radio. Ben is originally from Nottingham but now, despite his best efforts, lives in London.

@BenNorris7 // bennorrispoet.com // youtube.com/BenNorris7

We're super excited to see Ben in action on Friday 13th May. To get your Freak Speak tickets, check out Freak Gigs or head straight to Eventbrite.

Here's a sneak peek at one of his poems. This one's called Punchline, and is taken from an initiative Ben is doing called PAW (Poem a Week):

Arty Party - showing Talia around Peterborough

Last night, we had an arty party. Freak Speak headliner Talia Randall has been an artist in residence at Peterborough arts organisation, Metal, for the past two weeks working on her spoken word theatre show, Bloodlines. To celebrate her time in the city, a few of us went out on the town. We talked poetry, pageantry, and tattoos, and there was a lot of wine on the table.

The feeling of being surrounded by a bunch of like-minded creatives is incomparable. It really reminded me of the core reality of why I do what I do, and why I've decided to stick it out in a city labelled a cultural cold spot. All I want is to make friends and build a community founded on positivity and passion who happen to all like words. That's what Freak Speak is about, bringing some fucking legends to Peterborough for an arty party and sharing powerful creative energy. If that sounds like something you want to be part of, then come along to the next Freak Speak in May. Check the details on Freak Gigs, or you can buy tickets here.

Here's a few more snaps from the night, featuring Miss Peterborough, Mark, in a toilet paper sash.

How's about a free workshop with your Freak Speak?

We're stoked to announce that Freak Speak headliner, Talia Randall, will be running a super exciting workshop before our first Freak Speak.

Friday 13th May, 5 - 6.30pm @ Radius, just before Freak Speak kicks off.

This is Talia, she's fire.

In the workshop you'll explore how you can make poetry, and more importantly, genre defying poetry, from your own life experiences. Talia will lead you through some inspiring exercises which span her own knowledge of spoken word, comedy, cabaret, music and theatre. All ages & abilities welcome.

AND WE'RE EVEN MORE EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE'RE OFFERING A LIMITED AMOUNT OF WORKSHOP PLACES FOR FREE. Kinda. The trouble with offering a free workshop is that people book on and then it gets to the evening of said workshop and they can't be bothered because they haven't spent any money on it and they've just seen a picture of a cat with a moustache and before they know it they've found a part of the internet they can never unsee.

SO to overcome this, but still keep the balance at free, we've done a clever thing. The workshop costs a mere £3 (of which we only get pennies anyway because of eventbrite's fees...) BUT we've given you an option to simultaneously book onto the workshop and get entry to Freak Speak for the cost of a Freak Speak ticket.

Yep, you heard me, workshop + Freak Speak = £6.

Freak Speak on its own = £6.

X=£?

We're poets, not mathematicians. So to take full advantage of this limited offer...

CLICK HERE.

Are you a poet? Wanna freak with us?

Part of what we do at Freak Speak is offer poets who are looking to make some money from their poems an opportunity to do so, by freaking with us.

At each Freak Speak, there are two 10 minute support slots for poets/spoken word artists to apply for. The successful applicants will receive £30, plus 10 tickets to sell (retailing at £6), for which they will receive a £3 commission per ticket sold. Sound good? No, you're right, it sounds great. To apply for the next Freak Speak on Friday 13th May, simply fill out the form below before Friday 8th April. If for some reason the form doesn't work/ you'd prefer to fill out a word doc, drop me an email on charleygenever@hotmail.co.uk.

Name *
Name

Introducing a Freak: Harry Carter

Our sound engineer for Freak Speak is Harry Carter of HJC sounds, and we thought we should introduce you to him, so you can say hello when you come to our next event in May.

Harry is a grade 8 classical guitarist and sound engineer - he has grown up and developed in the music. Having been in bands ranging from modern rock to classical quartets he knows exactly what the band want. Although only young he isn't all that new to the business having been working in in technical theatre for the last 5 years. His knowledge of the equipment and abilities to mix have been learnt, not taught though years of experimenting with sounds and effects to perfect the live and recorded music. Harry first learnt his trade through doing minor jobs in theatres such as micing up drums, amps and ensuring that wireless mics were correctly programmed. In more recent times Harry works in several theatres, with many organisations and having worked with a total of over 100 artists in the last 2 years alone, he must be doing something right!

Hjcsound.webs.com

 

Losing my Freak blog virginity

Well, it's been 4 months since I piloted Freak Speak, thanks to the Peterborough Presents Small Commissions fund. It still amazes me how many people came through the doors to support the first one. People I didn't know, people who 'aren't into poetry'; they came, they saw, they fucking loved it. I am so damn excited to announce details for the next one, but before I do that, let's remind us of how awesome poetry is by watching a video of Vanessa Kisuule performing 'The Incidental Sister' at Freak Speak.

God, Vanessa is good.

Okay, so the next instalment of Freak Speak is on Friday 13th May, 7.30pm, at Radius. Yep, actual Friday 13th. Fits in with the whole freak thing, and I won't turn anyone away who wants to dress in slasher-themed attire. Tickets are £6 and available on Eventbrite.

The headliners for this one are so, so mega. Joelle Taylor, Inua Ellams, and Talia Randall. It is the poetic equivalent to having Zapdos, Articuno, and Moltres in your team. I'll be posting more detail about each artist nearer the time, so I won't share much more than that. I'll leave you with this epic artwork, designed by Lee Mason.

Freak Speak Peterborough