Never close the door on your past. Celebrate teenage achievements.
Simon Mckay was 15 years old when he started his punk fanzine Eccentric Sleevenotes with his mate, Stephen. It was Tyneside’s answer to Sniffing Glue.
Simon stopped interviewing bands and started his own, Said Liquidator. I first met him when I interviewed him for Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle back in 1989.
We became friends and Said Liquidator came to visit me when I lived and studied in Hull. In fact here’s a photo taken on that visit back in spring 1991.
Can you spot the poet?
Now Simon presents a weekly post punk radio show, has produced an online archive of Eccentric Sleevenotes and he hangs out with Fenella Fielding. They also present radio shows together and have an on air chemistry that is a delight to hear.
Check out Simon’s website http://www.eccentricsleevenotes.com/ and Fenella’s http://www.fenellafielding.com/
A few years ago Peter “Iron Press” Mortimer used to host a regular spoken word and music evening called Free as a Bard at the Trojan Rooms in Whitley Bay. I started attending soon after moving to the coast. I liked the fact it was on a Sunday evening and that there was free fruit on every table. I also liked Pete’s choice of poets and musicians. They always seemed to fit well together: Sheree Mack, The Creels and more.
The final workshop for Pieces from Eight took place in Pete’s amazing home in Cullercoats last Spring. I suggested Pete revive Free as a Bard ( or FAAB) and one of the Pieces from Eight poets suggested I help him. So I did. Artist Karen Mitchell who used to run The Ballarat in North Shields also got involved. The result was tonight’s Free as a Bard event at Whitley Bay’s Jam Jar Cinema.
Poets Eileen Jones and W N Herbert performed alongside singer songwriter Ditte Elly. What a night! Tickets sold out yesterday so it was standing room only for those that turned up tonight. Here’s my handwritten note I stuck on the door
For more info on FAAB check out Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FreeAsABard and the wonderful Jam Jar Cinema here http://www.jamjarcinema.com/
It was Paula Rego’s birthday yesterday. I love her work but Anne’s not a fan. Who is Anne and why should it matter what she thinks?
Well Anne is Anne Proctor, printmaker and my artistic collaborator. What she thinks about art, politics and the price of fish (or fuel) concerns and interests me.
We were discussing our latest collaboration yesterday at Tynemouth market and the conversation turned to Durham cathedral. I mentioned my love of Rego’s painting in the cathedral and she disagreed with me. That’s great. It’s important to disagree with one’s collaborator. We agree on the important things like where our latest project is heading.
And where is it heading? Ah well that would be telling…
Why not check out Anne’s blog for clues http://anneproctor.wordpress.com/
How lovely to have been involved in photographer Simone Rudolphi’s first Sunday Salon.
Simone brought a small group of like-minded folk together in her home on Sunday evening. Attendees were offered drinks, delicious homemade avocado soup and divine chocolates from a local chocolatier.
They joined me in Simone’s front room and listened as I performed some of my poems including Swifts Screech and Circle in the Afternoon Sun and my Hartley Pit Disaster poem, History Lesson. I performed it ahead of the disaster’s 152nd anniversary tomorrow.
I also read some of my longer autobiographical pieces published in a variety of local publications including Michael Chaplin’s Come and See The Beguiling Story of the Tyneside Cinema.
I arrived in Durham on Sunday afternoon. It was wonderful to wander through a dark and gloomy city to the cathedral and touch base with St Cuthbert, Fenwick Lawson’s Pieta plus this wonderful painting by Paula Rego.
I talked with one of the cathedral’s senior steward about his life as a miner and mining engineer. He also told me about Midge, the Domino playing dog from Teesdale. True story.
The next Sunday Salon takes place in February. For more information follow her on Twitter @SimonesSalon
When faced with existential crisis I ask myself the following two questions:
“What would Jimi Hendrix do?”
and “What would PJ Harvey do?”
These are the only questions I need to steer me to the Right Decision.
I love Jimi and thank him for the musical legacy he left behind. As for Polly Jean, well I jump on any interviews she allows, recordings she puts out and try to see her perform live when I can.
I turned on last Thursday’s Today programme and was immediately drawn in by John Pilger talking about the media. I wasn’t surprised to learn that PJ Harvey was the guest editor of that day’s show.
I listened to about half an hour before I had to leave the house but I’ve listened to more of the programme on i player. What an amazing programme. The theme is censorship and Polly has recruited an impressive range of guests.
The show is available on I player for the next year. I urge you to listen, particularly John Pilger’s piece 1 hour and 45 mins in.
In 2013 I started collaborating with artist Anne Proctor http://anneproctor.wordpress.com/ Through Anne I met the good folk at Willy Nillie in Chester le Street http://willynillie.org.uk/
In 2013 I got to meet and work with Karen Mitchell at The Ballarat Studios and was involved in the 40th anniversary of Iron Press organised by Peter Mortimer http://www.ironpress.co.uk/index.html
In 2014 Karen, Pete Mortimer and I present Free as a Bard, an evening of spoken word and music at Whitley Bay’s Jam Jar Cinema on Sunday February 2nd http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/search/searchPerformance.asp?performance_id=88111&sid=
The evening features poets W N Herbert, Eileen Jones and singer/songwriter Ditte Elly.
In 2014 I strongly suspect I will be working with Anne and Willy Nillie again.
Oh yes and what is happening in a Durham semi on Sunday January 12th? Follow Simone on Twitter @SimonesSalon and find out…
Happy New Year
I am now an Apples and Snakes poet. Cut and paste and ponder the significance of Hawaii 5 0 to my life
and why am I so far up a crooked road?
My poetry pal Andrew Sclater featured in this year’s awards with two poems: A Veteran of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) gives the Boys ice-cream and The Scotswoman who Married into the Home Counties. I love these poems so went to support him in the Queen’s Hall, Hexham.
I enjoyed listening to and watching poets of all ages from adolescence to adulthood. I particularly liked Isla Anderson’s performance of Sobriety. She was the only poet to go off page.
I entered the pre-performance drinks and nibbles looking for Andrew. I’d like to say I gate-crashed but in fact was welcomed by organiser John Halliday and his wife Clare. I was told to eat and drink so I did. I also sneaked back in at half-time for more juice.
John has run the awards since 2009. Next year Newcastle Uni’s Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (NCLA) will oversee the competition
Here’s my favourite Bail Bunting photo: Beware Bull
Newcastle’s mini book festival, Books on Tyne runs from 28th November to 1st December. The festival is run by Newcastle Libraries in conjunction with the Lit and Phil and events take place at both the L&P and City Library.
Featured authors include David Almond, Michael Chaplin and Ann Cleeves. I will perform with my Pieces from Eight chums on the final day, Sunday 1st December. The ticket price includes tea and cake!!
For more info and to book visit http://www.booksontyne.co.uk/
My new book, Swifts Screech & Circle in the Afternoon Sun has just come out. It’s my second collaboration with artist and printmaker, Anne Proctor. The book features a poem by me plus hand drawn, hand printed and hand embossed images plus pages of scanned original art by Anne. The book celebrates the rediscovery of lost and much-missed creativity on the Costa Blanca.
Swifts Screech can be purchased at our Tynemouth Market Stalls (I’m there most Saturdays and Anne is there every Sunday) or via Anne’s Moonkwayk Studio shop on Etsy
Anne’s work also features in Northern Footprints, Northern Print’s annual exhibition in Ouseburn which celebrates the studio’s talented artists. The exhibition runs from 14th November to the 21st December. http://www.northernprint.org.uk
My next poetry reading is in central Newcastle on Sunday December 1st as part of the Books on Tyne Festival. I’m performing alongside poets featuring in Pieces from Eight, the pamphlet published to mark the 40th anniversary of Iron Press. The event takes place from 1.30pm in the City Library’s Bewick Hall and also features female acapella group Henwen. The £3 ticket price includes tea and cake! http://www.booksontyne.co.uk