I started the year with a gig I’ll remember for a long time joining poets Leanne Moden, Russell J Turner, Fay Roberts, Daisy TG, Nikki Marrone and Hollie McNish in a night of poetry accompanied live by Wooden Arms which was hosted by Shindig and Allographic. You can read about and listen to audio from the night here.
The centre of Cambridge was beautifully lit for the E-Luminate Festival which was a great event for photographers. I was pleased to make the shortlist of the festival’s photography competition with the picture of the Senate House railings below.
My poetry was also introduced to Macedonian audiences thanks to Afrodita Nikolova who published a couple of my poems in translation in the magazine Sh.
I also set up a website for students of Teeline shorthand with songs for them to practise with. The site was well received by students and tutors: musicalteeline.blogspot.co.uk.
A feature I wrote on poets Tim Clare, Mark Grist and Mixy graced the pages of Poetry News – the newsletter of The Poetry Society.
I was also on stage a lot of the time at Hammer and Tongue and Allographic and got to collaborate with musician Tom Adams. We decided to apply to perform at a showcase night for local artists at The Junction but it wasn’t until a day or two before the deadline that we decided what to perform. We hit on the idea of creating a musical, spoken word journey through Cambridge. The pitch was accepted giving us a couple of weeks to write and rehearse the material. Working with Tom whose reputation continues to go from strength to strength was an inspiration and I think we were both pleased with the end performance.
I caught several interesting performances at the Cambridge Literature Festival including poet Luke Wright and mathematician Simon Singh both entertaining and educational in their own unique ways. I also had the honour of doing a support slot for John Osbourne at Hammer and Tongue Cambridge.
I interviewed some interesting people including magician Alexis Arts who was the star of E-luminate earlier in the year and Melt-banana who made a ballistic return playing at The Portland Cambridge. I also got to catch up with Mark Grist who was doing his show at The Junction after appearing in Channel 4 show Mr Drew’s School For Boys.
I performed and watched other entertainment at Strawberry Fair which had good weather for its 40th anniversary.
I went to many gigs and festivals over the year but none more full on than Night Watch – an ambitious non-stop 24-hour arts festival at The Junction. I managed to stay awake most of the time and write about it all for Local Secrets.
I also took over FE Week’s publication On Campus as guest editor writing and researching an interesting variety of education news stories including this feature on a group of nursing students’ trip to India.
I was lucky enough to once again cover Cambridge Folk Festival for Drunken Werewolf and Local Secrets. I had my camera to snap the acts including Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison and Richard Thompson playing at the festival’s 50th anniversary.
I also had some success with my poetry when I was selected as a winner in a Waitrose poetry Competition judged by Roger Mcgough.
The Romsey Art Festival set the neighbourhood buzzing with shows, workshops and exhibitions. I had a busy day on the first Saturday as I did a pop-up poetry event at The Black Cat Cafe – writing poems for members of the public on whatever topics they chose. The poems can be read here. Then in the evening I performed at an event at CB2 which was covered on Local Secrets and Slate the Disco.
I also brought my radio show Headstand to a close after nearly seven years as I prepared to move Newport in Wales for a new job. I had a studio full of guests for the last show which you can listen to along with all the other shows on Mixcloud.
By 1st September I was living in Newport having uprooted myself from Cambridge to start a new job as copy editor. It was an exciting month for a number of reasons. I learnt that a letter I had written for the Letter to the Unknown Soldier memorial project was to be included in a book featuring a small selection of the 24,000 letters submitted to the website. I then heard that my poem in the Waitrose competition had come second overall earning me a stash of goodies and letter from Roger McGough.
I started to explore my new country including a trip to North Wales and the lovely coastal town of Conwy.
I also had the honour of competing in the national finals of the Hammer and Tongue Poetry slam representing Brighton. It was a fantastic day of non-stop poetry from performers from around the country including old friends such as Leanne Moden, Justina Kehinde, Fay Roberts and the founder Steve Larkin. There was also a captivating set from Kate Tempest who released one of my favourite albums of this or any other year, Everybody Down.
I was shortlisted for the NCTJ Awards for Excellence for the Musical Teeline site. Although I didn’t win this was a huge accomplishment especially as I only started the site because I failed my shorthand exam at the end of my journalism course.
I got to discover more of the delights that Newport has to offer. It gets overshadowed by Cardiff but I wouldn't hear anyone put it down. You can hear great live music at Le Pub, see Roman remains at Caerleon and there is the giant Meccano model which is the Transporter Bridge. Most breathtaking of all is the Wetlands nature reserve – 5 miles from my home along an attractive cycle route.
I spent the month writing a poem a day, following the prompts on Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog. I have attempted such challenges before but have always fallen behind after a few weeks. While I wouldn’t say everything I wrote was a masterpiece I did produce something every day and have enough poems I’m happy with to produce a chapbook.
I also attended a launch party for the Letters to the Unknown Soldier book and had a chance to meet the organisers and many other contributors including Andrew Motion.
I spent a few days visiting places in the surrounding region including Bristol where I made some connections on the spoken word scene, attending a couple of open mic events.
From Bristol I made an excursion to Wells which offered some striking photo opportunities.