Tuesday 25 October 2016

Podcasts and reviews and news: Autumn 2016

Salena Godden Portrait for The Poetry Society by Hayley Madden,
National Poetry Day, The Southbank

I'm finally back at my desk after weeks and weeks of festivals and gigs and making radio and film and lots of trains and travel and having fun and laughs and boozy times and seeing lots of my friends, my favourite poets and book people ... Today feels like the first quiet day in a very long time. I'm flicking through my phone and finding photographs and evidence of this hurricane, this whirlwind I've been spinning in. Today I want to drink tea and read in my pyjamas. My high heels are at the cobblers, stage dresses at the dry cleaners, the glitter is washed away and for today the gig-monster is back in her box. 

I have a lot of people to thank and if you are reading this I thank you! 
Lately I've been meeting the kindest and most inspiring people. Poetry legends, new friends and my heroes. This past few weeks I have loved your faces and the chats and poems and songs, the hugs and heart filling times, highlights include gigs and laughs with Kathryn Williams and the Durham Festival gang, PJ Harvey, Ian Mcmillan, Lemn Sissay, Joelle Taylor, Vanessa Kisuule, Sabrina Mahfouz, Inua Ellams, Hollie McNish, Tim Wells, Laurie Bolger and all The Good Immigrants, to name just a few...That's what I love about festivals, the people.

Fantastic news to discover that The Good Immigrant's editor Nikesh Shukla has been shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights award 'for challenging common misapprehensions of why people come to the UK and what it means to be an immigrant here today' and this is the best and most brilliant news of all. Well done to Nikesh, he has worked tirelessly to move this forwards. Good Luck! Well done to Unbounders, the supporters, writers and contributors and everyone involved. Don't forget this was an independently published crowdfunded book, that the people united and paid for this book to be in print, this is people power... 

Lately I have been having a blast. It has been a most busy and industrious time, summer  festivals melded into autumn festivals without taking any break at all. I have been up and down this England reading new work published in four beautiful anthologies right now, with thanks to Neu Reekie Untitled Two, Influx Press An Unreliable Guide to London, Unbound The Good Immigrant and the Word Life anthology too. And I have been meeting and performing with my favourite comrades thanks to parties and events with Word Life, The Southbank, Cheltenham Festival, Durham Book Festival, Bookslam, Manchester Lit Festival and Archway with Words. Thank you to all who are here and there! - Thank you to Tony who came to my Manchester Hollie McNish double bill gig at Gorilla with a carrier bag laden with everything I ever made, CD's, 7inch vinyl, zines and books. Your collection of black British poetry must be a sight to behold and I was excited to meet you and to be part of the archives!

Now ... I can safely assume that my latest new work is rattling some cages and hitting a nerve, that the combination of Shade my piece in The Good Immigrant, my Citizen Of Nowhere poem about Theresa May, my poem for the refugees in Titanic and my calling out the racist homophobes in my poem Joe, all performed in one set is one pretty fiery mix. The other day a woman came and told me off to my face. She told me I offended her, she said that we didn't need "to be hearing about breasts and vaginas and women's bodies, and..." she continued "why are you talking about the gays? We don't need to be hearing about the gays!" She glared at me and told me she nearly walked out. Nearly. 

Looking back and thinking about it now, I wish I'd told her that I was offended that she should tell me what to write and speak about and therefore what to feel and be angry about. More to the point I get offended by apathy, by people who live in an I'm alright Jack bubble. I was offended that she felt that she had no need to hear and therefore say or do anything, to speak up for the rights of women, for the rights of refugees and immigrants, and for all human rights. I know one shouldn't dwell on negative feedback, but I'm mentioning this episode here so you can see that its not plain sailing, it's hard work doing poetry sometimes, it can be raw and vulnerable, like sticking your neck out, being in the trenches and in the line of fire. Outside of our twitter and facebook echo chamber there are people that haven't heard of The Good Immigrant yet, I mean, you might think we've retweeted the tag #thegoodimmigrant to death, but we still have a long way to go and a lot of people to reach. Keep tweeting, keep spreading the word, keep fighting the good fight! Last week I recorded a podcast with Joelle Taylor for the Poetry Society and we talk about this very thing...the importance of making writing that reaches people that don't usually read, poetry for people that don't usually like poetry, that's the real battle, have a listen here: Joelle Taylor in conversation with Salena Godden / Poetry Society Podcast 

The golden rule is DON'T READ THE COMMENTS when you get something published, but this is impossible if the commentators come up to you after the gig and give you their negative critique or tell you off ... very much like a condescending school mistress. Well, needless to say I won't stop talking about 'the gays' or 'the tits' or 'the blacks' Check out my new album LIVEwire  - This poetry is coming from a place of passion, fury and outrage. If you aren't furious every day you read the news, you must be sleeping. The world is on fire, Calais is being burned to the ground, Brexit is insane, we have a Prime Minister nobody voted for, hate crimes are at an all time high and food banks are a real necessity, the rich get richer, the poor get even poorer ... I'm not going to stand on stage and do poems about pink roses and sunsets. Not now. Not ever. Seriously. I watched Hypernormalisation last night, the Adam Curtis Documentary, very gloomy, bottom line is we're all fucked, oops, spoiler alert, but its worth a watch, you'll find it on BBC i-player.

Now for cheerier things. The Durham Book Festival Songwriting retreat with Kathryn Williams blew my tiny mind and filled my heart and nourished my soul. I was sent to live in a house in Durham with seven strangers to make music and then perform the work in progress as part of the festival. The housemates were so inspiring and super talented, I was working alongside musicians Kathryn Williams, Tom McCrae, Polly Paulusma and James Yorkston and authors Laura Barnett and Kirsty Logan. It was a magical autumnal time and I'll never forget it. Writing can be such a lonely and solitudal activity and working together as a group we got creative and made some beautiful songs and had a wonderful and memorable time, wine and laughter and tears and music. I hear our songs now as I write this... I must share these songs once I have loaded them up. 

We made a performance piece from an excerpt of my essay 'Shade' from The Good ImmigrantI remember during this performance I could see there was just one woman of colour in the whole audience and that tears were streaming down her face as I read. It made the words catch in my throat. I meant to go and talk to her after the show but she disappeared into the crowds. This performance of these words performed live and set to music, guitars and chorus was a moment I won't ever forget, listen to it now and it will make your heart swell, it felt like a rumble and a rallying cry... 

Coming up tomorrow I'm supporting Sabrina Mahfouz to launch her fantastic new book How You Might Know Me at Outspoken, The Forge in Camden. I've made a catch up scrapbook of things for your eyes and ears, scroll down this page, for my latest things to read, reviews, podcasts, things to listen to and some photos I found on my phone. Thank you for following this blog and supporting and encouraging this sort of behaviour. 

My album LIVEwire can be purchased either digital download and CD from Nymphs and Thugs or from Salena's Bookshoppe - it will be available on i-tunes from this Friday. The LIVEwire album features new work, poems from my live set, glorious archives and also pieces from my books. Vinyl is being pressed. We are throwing a gorgeous party soon, the official vinyl launch party, but I will keep shtum now and tell you all about that in my next update! Thank you! 

Keep fighting the good fight!

ps: for this blog my spirit animal is Jennifer Beals in Flashdance 'She's a maniac!" 


Oct 26th OutSpoken Sabrina Mahfouz Book Launch, Camden

Nov 23rd Cadogan Hall with Hollie McNish 

November 29th Lancaster University

Durham songwriters retreat ... dinner in the pub

Durham songwriters retreat

Durham Songwriters Retreat

Durham Cathedral with Kathryn Williams

WE BELONG HERE on BBC IPLAYER: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p048s2y6

The Good Immigrant BBC Radio 4 'Book of the week' BBC Iplayer here


Signing books in Cheltenham Book Festival
Robyn Travis and Salena Godden 

Joelle Taylor in conversation with Salena Godden
Poetry Society Podcast 

Hollie Mcnish and Salena Godden,  Manchester Lit Fest

LIVEwire review /  Empathy Library

LIVEwire review: 'truly electric'  The IPaper: https://inews.co.uk

Man Booker Bookslam - Paul Beatty, Salena Godden, Elliott Jack

Latest things to read and listen to:

Raymond Antrobus reviews The Good Immigrant for Media Diversified

Meet Nikesh Shukla interview in Platform

Darren Chetty and Wei Ming Kam on The Book Club on Soho Radio

Joelle Taylor and Salena Godden on Poetry Society Podcast

'Shade' from 'The Good Immigrant' performed live at Durham Book Festival

The Good Immigrant / BBC Radio 4 'Book Of The Week' 

'Who grumbles if  white people win prizes?'  Salena Godden in The Guardian

LIVEwire review The Empathy Library

LIVEwire review: 'truly electric'  The IPaper: https://inews.co.uk

LIVEwire review - PROWL HOUSE

'WE BELONG HERE'  - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p048s2y6

No comments:

Post a Comment