Friday 30 April 2021

Tyger Tyger!


"to see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour"

Hello spring bunnies, 
How are you? I had the most magical and moving experience yesterday. I have to write about it. I am truly honoured to be asked to contribute to John Higgs book launch at The British Library on May 27th. John has written such an incredible book 'William Blake V's The World' - He will be in conversation with Robin Ince about all things Blake.

I met John, Robin and Kae at the British Library and we had the extraordinary pleasure of viewing Blakes only surviving notebook. It was so well preserved, beautiful, filled with Blake's sketches and first drafts. In this photo I am reading the early drafts of the poem London. 

It was such a wonderful experience. We recorded some of Blakes poetry for this event alongside my great friend the poet Kae Tempest. Even though we wore masks, I could see our eyes all smiling. Kae is the president of The Blake Society and it was so lovely to spend some time in the library with Kae and John and Robin and William Blake. What a glorious way to gently ease myself out of lockdown and out of my cocoon! Like so many I haven't been out-out for a long time and have not seen my friends and peers, so this was an extra special day for me. 

After the recording was done, the light was good, the golden hour, so I took a walk and saw my city again. I felt like I was coming back from war, returning home from a great battle. I ached and I felt older walking through London yesterday. How London was vibrating with youth and life, all London, all coming out of her cocoon. Kae said of butterflies, how it is good it is hard to break out of a cocoon, it makes the butterfly build muscle so they can fly, Kae said, if there was no fight and it was easy to leave a cocoon the butterfly wings would be too weak to fly. I thought about this a lot as I walked. I thought about butterflies and cocoons and wing muscles and how we are all building up our muscles to fly again - the collective noun for butterflies is a kaleidoscope of butterflies and I really like that. I want us to be a beautiful, powerful kaleidoscope of butterflies in flight. 

I explored the streets I know so well: St Pancras, Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury and Soho. By the time I got deep into Soho I felt like I was in Amsterdam or Barcelona. I saw all the tables outside the pubs and all the happiness. I saw couples kiss and take selfies. I saw old men nursing red wines and watching the girls pass by. Whilst I was in winter in my cocoon, it appears spring has truly arrived, the world is turning slowly, I could smell it and I heard laughter and a clatter and chatter of people and birds and I felt it and it was one of the most splendid of all moments for me.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright! Coming up I have a very bright time. May is looking like an almost-nearly-kinda-normal month for me, I have a lovely selection of exciting gigs and events, radio shows and podcasts and secret things and lots to keep me busy. I won't list the whole lot but here's a handful of highlights and some lovely things I am permitted to share. Please scroll down, save dates, and book now to avoid missing things, I am really enjoying reading from the book and cannot wait to see your eyes and be on stage again for real! 

I'll leave you with a peek of Blakes notebook - we were told this is one of the first sketches of 'The Tyger' - And I'll also include the timeless poem 'London' by Blake. 

See you all out there, in here and inbetween too,
Hope is a group project! Courage is a muscle!
Pessimism is for Lightweights!
Viva Blake!
Thank you, 


I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow. 
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear 

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls, 
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls 

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear 
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse 

Mrs Death Misses Death
Spring 2021 Highlights 

Hosted by legendary singer songwriter Tom Brosseau 
Streamed live on Prairie Public, Fargo, Dakota, USA

With Jenni Faganauthor of Luckenbooth
 Become a friend of Shakespeare and Co. here
Listen to this amazing podcast episodes via apple or spotify 

Afternoon Tea now online
Royal Society Of Literature
The Society of Authors 
in conversation with poet Kadish Morris

Cambridge Lit Fest now online
With Monique Roffey
author of The Mermaid of Black Conch

Rough Trade Q & A 
A brand new podcast series from Rough Trade
Gemma Cairney X Salena Godden

NEW THIS WEEK: "WritersMosaic is an online platform for new writing from a mosaic of literary voices and cultures across the UK that aims to be surprising, magical and moving. The platform showcases writer profiles through authored talks, creative exchanges and interviews, using images and illustrations, commissioned by an editorial team of writers who bring their own blend of curiosity, excitement and deep cultural and critical engagement. The informal, multi-voiced, writer-to-writer recordings are complemented by themed Guest editions from leading publishers, writers, editors, thinkers and artists who reflect on their own thematic interests and insights across genres of literature..."

Read more:


May 6th May 8th May 14th May 21st May 22nd May 27th May 28th

LIVE with Paul Burston, Sophia Blackwell and Polis Loizou

LIVE from the Soho Radio studio, London

Hosted by Salena Godden, Amah-Rose Abrams and Matt Abbott

Death Positive Library Event - Libraries Connected, 
BBC Arts, Arts Council England, Redbridge, Kirklees 
and Newcastle Libraries bring you a book club with a difference. 
A series of online events on the theme of death and loss.

Immersive, poetic fiction 
with Courttia Newland
author of A River Called Time

Authors Salena Godden, Maaza Mengiste & Evie Wyld discuss their books

and how background characters can shape narratives in unpredictable ways


A celebration of the poet, artist, visionary and author of the unofficial English national anthem 'Jerusalem'. This is an online event hosted on the British Library platform. 

Salena Godden and Kae Tempest read from Blake. Neil Gaiman and special guests share appreciations of his work. Author of the new book William Blake vs the World John Higgs talks to comedian, writer and polymath Robin Ince about the bewildering eccentricities of this most singular artist. They take a journey of discovery from the times of riots, revolutions and radicals that Blake lived in; discuss movements from the Levellers of the 16th century to the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s, and explore the latest discoveries in neurobiology, quantum physics and comparative religion. His timeless work, we will find, has never been more relevant

In conversation 
with Jordan Stephens

May 29th - Queer Death Sessions 
A book club chat a brunch and a sundowner 
on zoom with my friends in California

More shows and news via linktree:

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