Thursday 12 March 2015

blog / Springtime on Springfield

There was something extraordinary about last Saturday. There was something spiritual and ritualistic about taking the book back to the street where it was written, the street that it was written about. Taking Springfield Road to Springfield Road in spring time. I guess it was a gig and a party, it was a ceremony, it also felt a bit like visiting a place of birth, all of this and more, all at the same time, together we were returning to the scene of the crime, it was a christening, a reunion, an exorcism, a crowd gathered and we drank and we laughed, and some cried, we squared a circle, marked the spot, like pirates and a treasure map. The book and the content, the blood and the ink, the black and the white, the dark and the light, the compass and the clock, the page turning and the time passing, the salt water against the rocks and sand, the salt water in our eyes, the drum and the heart beat, the history and the future, the past and the present, my ghosts and all the ghosts, all our collected memories with the making of new memories, old and new, all dancing about the room at once and with so much love, sea air and old moonlight. It was huge and it felt momentous to me. Thank you to everyone that came. I’d especially like to thank Paul Burgess and Louise Colbourne for letting us use their beautiful space, the halls of the Nat West Bank, number one Springfield Road. It was so kind and generous of them to let a rabble of poets in to play in the old bank house. Thank you! And also thank you to Harry K for DJ’ing. These photos taken at the Bankhouse by Paul Burgess:

Throughout the evening we heard from an exceptional line up of London and Hastings writers and poets – heart filled thanks to Colin Grant, Gareth Rees, Amy Acre, Oli Spleen, Robert Denard, Dave Pepper and my brilliant cohort and co-host Michelle Madsen  - all reading poems and sharing memories of childhood and the psychogeography of the here and there and the past and present, to an eclectic and mixed crowd of family and friends, young and old. People I went to school with, ace faces and top buddies from my college years, Julian Humphries, Olivia Wells, Amanda Pegman, Jacky Ellis and Emily Booth, stunning to see you's... Such nostalgic revelry was shared, and there I was, reading on Springfield Road from Springfield Road, recalling the taste of Thunderbirds, the Hastings Pier disco, break-dancing, bubble-gum lip gloss and Rocky’s amusement arcade. There was a massive show of hands for people that were born opposite, at the Buchanan Hospital, over the road. I signed quite a few books and was delighted to meet many of the new and current residents of my road, Springfield Road. 

There was a lot of love in the room. Oli Spleen was so nice I had to heckle and shout: I’m not dead! Because his speech was too lovely, lovely as the things you hope someone will say at your funeral, which you are not supposed to get to hear, of course. And once the talk was all done and the music over, the evening continued at various pubs and around kitchen tables late into the night, with much booze and laughter and catching up and well … I didn’t get to bed until dawn. But, waking up in time for Sunday lunch, I can recall a Sunday afternoon that was a delicious blur of Hastings debauchery and wine. I love proper pubs. I love Hastings Old Town. I love lost afternoons. Fantastic old friends, live blues music, seagulls and cider and the familiarity of home … Oh I do like to be beside the seaside. Sploosh!

Back in London's Kings Cross, Monday night’s Speaky Spokey at Kings Place was elegantly hosted by Colin Grant. It was a fantastic evening of poetry and memoir: Writing The Immigrant Story and I was honoured and excited to be on this line-up with two star favourites - Colin Grant was narrating a dramatised version of his memoir Bageye At The Wheel with actors, Burt Caeser, Harley Silvester, Mikil Pane. And Gabriel Gbadamosi presented his beautiful memoir Vauxhall. In my head and heart, Bageye At The Wheel and Vauxhall and Springfield Road are siblings. I have felt a great connection with Colin Grant and Gabriel Gbadamosi and their memoirs of childhood, of 1970’s Britain, their tales of racial tension, the rise of Thatcher, living below the breadline and seeking identity. I was so delighted and proud to see us side-by-side on stage together. If you haven’t read their books I highly recommend both of them. It was a beautiful night and Pete Fij provided a stunning soundtrack, he talked about being immigrant Polish, which was a perfect accompaniment to the readings and the panel discussion. And DJ Harry K was phenomenal as ever on the decks. These photos below by Ben and from my phone...

Yesterday I was on Resonance FM as a guest on the highly popular book show LittleAtoms hosted by Neil Denny. I was talking about Springfield Road and I also read an excerpt I have not read before on air too. You will find the podcast here. Neil Denny is a fantastic interviewer. We talked about a memoir being a living and breathing muscle, that our story is changing as we change, as we grow and learn, so does our remembering and writing of the past. And as I write all of this, I can feel a shift, it is the seasonal shift of the beginning of spring and something other and incredible too. 

Last Saturday I remember standing on the corner of Springfield Road holding a box of Springfield Road books to take inside. I stopped and looked up at the stars, a certain constellation I recall well, a pattern I remember from gazing up at night from my attic bedroom window. I could feel the ground beneath my feet was all Hastings and home, a place I identify with as home. My peripheral vision a familiar clutter of shop lights, the church spire, the curve of the hill. The sound of seagulls crying above, beer cans being popped open, anticipation, gorgeous music and laughter  –  all of this, every second, meant so much to me. As a girl all I wanted to do was fill my time with stories, music, writing poems and to fill my head with books and adventures. There is no way I could have imagined how big this feeling, this gratitude, this magic, this strength and this love. Thank you

Keep fighting the good fight, lovesgxx

latest press // Springfield Road reviews:

Indie Berlin Review:  "The tale is rich with reflections on memory and tradition, presence and absence, relatives and the past... I don’t know why, but I sometimes felt like I was prying on Salena, but it’s a book, a published book, and I was offered it." Polly Trope

Opus Independents Review: "One aspect of the book that I feel worked really well was the juxtaposition of chapters written from adult Salena’s perspective, bringing the reader out of the past and into the modern day, and hearing her thoughts on the process of writing the very pages we have been reading. The beauty of her writing makes it easy to forget that we are not reading a novel, but someone’s true life story..." Amy Crofts



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