Wednesday 25 May 2016

April showers, May flies and jumping June...

This month my spirit animal is Helen McCory as Polly Shelby in Peaky Blinders

Hello! How are you all?

And how is your springtime madness?

Looking back this past few weeks have been quite helter-skelter, a tricky ride of highs and lows, and not much calm inbetween. A beautiful flow of creativity punctuated by trains and travelling and gigs, funerals and heartbreak, losing heroes and finding heroes and crying every time I hear Purple Rain. My world is a packed suitcase, I am having to sit on it to make sure I can close it and keep it safe.

Recently I was up in Edinburgh performing at the legendary Rally & Broad. I'm sad to hear that this regular event will be no more now. It was always such a delight to be invited to go and read for Jenny and Rachel. I hear there are some exciting brand new projects brewing and so I wish them superstars both the best of luck with everything in the shiny future. 

I recorded that special Rally & Broad gig and it is on my Soundcloud. It was the day after Prince died. I wore my old 1980's Prince T-shirt, it was a very powerful night, something in the air, we united under a cherry moon, the blossom snowing in April, you can hear that gig hereThe theme for this Rally & Broad event was 'WE COULD BE HEROES'

Talking of heroes... 
Sharmila Chauhan has edited and published 'The Morning Papers' an astonishing selection of #Prince tributes, read them here, at Media Diversified.

"In April, Music lost a singer and musician, but we writers also lost a poet. Whether it was his characters, or his line by line precision and intimacy; Prince was every bit the alchemist of words as well as music. In this space writers were invited to talk about the artist, in whatever context they desired. Curated by Sharmila Chauhan. Featuring work by: Leone Ross, Rosamond S. King, Gemma Weekes, Nikesh Shukla, Salena Godden, Sunil Chauhan, Rajeev Balasubramanyan and Tanuja Desai Hidier. The collection is being hosted by MediaDiversified"

And then we said goodbye to Jock.
I was honoured to be invited to be a pallbearer at the funeral for my friend and poetry hero Jock Scot. I still find it hard to  believe I won't see him again. It was an amazing send off, loads of beautiful friends were there. I won't go into one here, to be honest, I still cannot really find the words. I'll just say that it was an honour, particularly as a woman, to be asked to carry his coffin alongside comrades Davy Henderson and Baxter Dury. And as I type this I recall the feel of that morning - it was a bright grey day and it was cold. I can feel the weight of the coffin in my hands and on my shoulder and the weight in my heart. I told myself it was like putting a friend to bed, to rest. Such a legend! Viva Jock! Jock Scot! Forever! 

The day before Jock's funeral, when I was in Edinburgh, we went and visited the grave of my great-great grandfather, General James Robertson, he is buried at Greyfriars. You will find the dome shaped Robertson Mausoleum there, that's the site of all of my Scottish great-greats on my Jamaican side. If you have my memoir Springfield Road I talk about this rogue Scottish character on page 242. 

Funny thing. After Jocks funeral I got talking with Jocks nephew and his great-greats are also buried there, exactly there, in Greyfriars, the same graveyard... Now what are the chances of that? I raise a glass to these spirits. That we were there before, that we are here and now and that I have no doubt we will be there, in the future too. Time is a mirror. Time is an illusion. Time and space and the invisible gold threads that connect us all, like roots of a tree but we only see the branches.

I'm pleased as punch to see my poem MY TITS ARE MORE FEMINST THAN YOUR TITS in print. A rant poem written for stage and for boozy festival crowds is now in a book and on the page. This amuses me. A huge thank you to Edinburgh's Neu Reekieand Polygon Books. It is a cracking read from cover to cover. I have been carrying my copy everywhere I go and reading it and re-reading it, so many great poets in there, Luke Wright, Jackie Kay, Caroline Bird, Liz Lochhead, Ross Sutherland and many, many more... If you don't have a copy of this anthology I suggest you get yours here

Earlier in this month of May, we went to the Calais Jungle. We took a van load of supplies and helped out in the Refugee Community Kitchen. We peeled sacks of potatoes and were side by side with so many wonderful and generous people volunteering there.  The people at the RCK kitchen are real super heroes. It is immense the work they are doing there. If you are thinking of Volunteering now is a good time, all the info is at

Away from the camaraderie of the kitchens and down in the Calais Jungle I saw a glimpse of the futility of war. It was a Mad Max film set, a dystopian fiction in real time. But there I also saw the best of people, the humanity, the resourcefulness and generosity of others. The good in people. Truth is there are more good people than bad people in this world and we mustn't give up hope or lose the faith. It is escalating, this humanitarian crisis isn't going to go away. This past few weeks there has been a sharp increase in the numbers of refugees, they urgently need our help, please send donations and share this info on all your social media, thank you!

War is .. 

Brakes will premier at Edinburgh Film Festival next month on June 17th. This is a dark indie comedy written and directed by Mercedes Grower and starring Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Julia Davis and Roland Gift and many others, I play a part in this film too! Woo hoo!

Here is the link to the preview in The Skinny 


On June 15th, I will be performing some work in progress in Soho's salubrious L'Escargot. The tickets have been selling fast. Thank you so much to all early birds. I think there might be a handful left, if you are very lucky, so please go to the link HERE and book yourself a space and be the first to hear some of my new things... I'm very excited about this special one-off solo gig. 

Thank you to all in Liverpool at the awesome Wow Festival. It was brilliant fun performing alongside Tim Wells for Stand Up and Spit! 

Tomorrow, Thursday May 26th, I'm up in Manchester at Bang Said The Gun at the Dancehouse Theatre. I think it its gonna go off with a BANG! Also in June you will find me at Stoke Newington Literary Festival and then Amsterdam's Spoken Beat Night. Please scroll down for all gig listings and info, I am contributing to some amazing book events and festivals this summer...

And truth be told... When I am not doing all of the above, all that reading and gigging and poetry business, I am either in the garden talking lovingly to my tomatoes or curled up on the sofa engrossed in the sexy, smoky, whisky soaked world of Peaky Blinders! I love it! Helen McCory! What a broad! Thank you for reading this far down the page! Scroll down for this summers hot dates! See you out and about! Keep fighting the good fight,

gigs, parties, festivals, coming up...

May 26th: Bang Said The Gun, The Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester

June 15th: An Evening With Salena Godden L'Escargot, Soho

June 23rd: Spoken Beat Night, Bimhuis, Amsterdam

June 29th: Soapbox Poetry, The John Peel Centre, Stowmarket

July 9th: The Roundhouse, Camden, London

July 23rd: Festival 23  

August 4th: William Morris Gallery, London

August 18th: Neu Reekie, Edinburgh International Book Festival

September 2-4th: Churchtown, Cornwall

October tbc: Cheltenham Literary Festival

October 12-15: Durham Literary Festival

October 19th: Manchester Literary Festival

NewBookNews, Summer 2016
Three exciting and diverse new anthologies!

'My Tits Are More Feminist Than Your Tits' by Salena Godden 
'Untitled Two' anthology published by Polygon Books and Neu Reeki

'The Camden Blood Thieves' by Salena Godden 
 'An Unreliable Guide to London' anthology  
Published with Influx Press, launched July 18th 2016 

'Shade' by Salena Godden 
'The Good Immigrant' anthology  
Edited by Nikesh Shukla, published by Unbound Books 

'Fishing In The Aftermath poems 1994-2014'  published by Burning Eye Books

'Springfield Road'  literary childhood memoir published by Unbound Books 

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