Sunday, 30 March 2014

Goodbye Blogger

It is with a mixture of sadness and excitement that I say goodbye to Blogger as the host for my poetry posts and word-y meanderings. I now have a new blog over at Wordpress, you can find it by clicking the link below. The reasons for moving are many, but mostly it is because Wordpress is the blog of the moment, and I am a poet who moves with the times.

Goodbye Blogger! This Blogspot has grown greatly over the past 5 years - but now, bubble-like, it has burst and it is time for this poet to find pastures new. I blow you a bloggy kiss, Blogger! Au revoir!!! x

Saturday, 22 March 2014

It's a Spring Thing!

Here's a little interview that's in the Western Mail today, talking about spring and what it means to me, as well as a poem written for the piece. It's about daffodils - a supremely spring-like, and prominent poetic topic! - and is also kind of inspired by the fact that the National Botanic Garden of Wales (where I'm Resident Poet) has 30,000 of the things, 50 species in all. That's amazing! And well worth a visit to see. More on the Garden's daffodil trail HERE, while HERE is the link the the article in the Western Mail.

Plus, here is my poem, which is actually (really) about not just about daffs but about the human spirit and how it overcomes obstacles in order to, quite literally, wake up, rise, and shine! It's the first time the three, very different types of poem that I write - funny ones, nature poems, and more mystically-inclined things - have all come together in a single piece. This pleases me! There is only a little touch of humour in this, but, for me, it feels like the beginning of a new way of writing, too. All three of my poet-y selves together for the first time... I'm pretty happy with it. Do let me know what you think, though, and happy reading/joyous spring to you all! x


From inside unlit bulbs they climb,
Feeling through the crumbling dark;
Fearless spears, insistent shoots,
Certain even in the dirt that there's
Another world, up there.

Eating earth with hungry roots,
Finding paths through stone and rock,
Endlessly rising, eventually emerging,
Green tongues poking from the ground
As if to say I told you so.

Advancing upwards, ever further,
Reaching for their unknown goal;
Finally unfurling, bursting into flower.
Star-like, sun-cast, their golden glory
Sings out: even in the dark, we knew,

That this is what we were.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Day to Go

I am interested in story and place - how they intertwine, combine, mesh and meld together, to form fascinating faction, myth, and metafiction... My little prose-y snippets written for the Lent Project blog are all about that, really. I'm therefore very intrigued to see (experience, engage with) Day to Go, an NTW and Arts Council Wales-supported production from Papertrail, in which the audience travel together on a bus through Barry, seeing, hearing, and discovering fantastic and remarkable stories inspired by local people and places. 

Directed by Bridget Keehan, and co-written by Keehan and Annamarie Murphy, I am very lucky to have been allowed a sample of writing from the piece for you to enjoy ahead of the performances/tours on Saturdays 5th and 12th of April. Lucky readers!! This passage is below.......

Here is the sea that people other than Pat choose to swim in, some take flasks of tea and sandwiches in brown paper and sit in their cars and look out to Weston Super Mare. At night the lights from Weston’s pier twinkle at them, enticing them to leave behind their sandwiches, take their clothes off and swim naked.

Naked as fish. Dive deep down and wash the coal-dust from your lungs old boys. Maybe you’ll be kissed by Cariad Mer-woman, and she’ll show you her world where hardened lungs can loosen. She’ll feed you rock oyster and shrimp from the keels of mighty ships. But be warned, once you’ve tasted her salty lips, you’ll never come back to shore. You’ll float out to Flat Holm and live with the gulls like all the gullible men before you… 

There’s only her left now, Cariad Mer, the last remaining mermaid of Barry. It can be lonely out there in the depths between here and Weston so Cariad Mer hugs the beaches and listens to the sound of families on their holidays. How she longs to sit with them and build a sandcastle. You can see her sometimes, the sun glinting of her seaweedy hair on the horizon waving to you, calling you in, and on Saturday nights before the sun has set you can glimpse her bobbing up and down and rolling with the waves to the big band sounds booming out to sea across the water from where Bindles Ballroom used to be.

Join me and some jolly others on this unusual and excitingly original tour - details on how to book your tickets are HERE. I will be on the bus on the 5th April, as I'll be writing something on it for Wales Arts Review. I think it's going to be great! Places are limited, so get clicking and reserving as soon as you can, and I will see you on the Barry bus for a lovely Day to Go....!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

City Stories

I'm currently taking part in the Lent Project, a group blog in which the various members document whatever-they-like over 40 days and nights. "Raw creativity" is what it's all about. I've decided to write short fictions inspired by some of the 'things' of the city (Cardiff) - statues, doorways, signposts, landmarks, ceilings, and more. The stories will be accompanied by my own photos, some of which are already shared via my Instagram account.

Anyway, please take a moment to follow the blog, which also features work by Lia Moutselou, Dan Green, John Abell, Susie Wild, Beth Greenhalgh, Sara Rees, and more. My pieces will all be titled 'City Stories' so you can find them easily. Here's the two I've written so far. Happy reading!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Face Made for Radio

Ha ha ha.... *Sad face* That's how it feels, sometimes - face made for radio... Beauty is only a light switch away... Etc, and so on. My voice is my work! But my face, my face... Always been a source of some dissatisfaction to me. Anyway, even despite not looking as lovely as someone called 'Angela' (like an angel!) or Heather (as pretty as a flower!) or June (as lovely as a summer's day!), I (Maaaaaab) do have an alright-ish voice, tones not dulcit but not dull either, and I do enjoy putting these tubes/chords to work, so I do.

And so, I am pleased to re-post/blog some recent vocal endeavours... I was Poet in Residence last week for Round at Laurie's, a radio show hosted by the fine and feisty Laurie Bolger, which is featured on Roundhouse Radio, linked in turn to the well-known Roundhouse venue in London. For this, I wrote a new poem, inspired by the Metro newspaper headline 'I Had Sex with Goat Ten Times, But I Did Ask First'. It's a sorta St David's Day piece, too. Many thanks for the spot(s), Laurie! Here is the link to that:

Secondly, did you know I have a SoundCloud? I do, y'know. I've started to use it a bit more recently, with a new-ish poem about my poet-love Johnny Giles on there. It's called Millionaire. Will you please have a listen/follow?

I was on Radio Cardiff's Pitch show again last week, hosted by the super-amiable and non-tweed-wearing chap Richard Huw Morgan. I read the above poem on there, if you want to do a bogof on yer listening:

Aaaand! Finally. I am pleased to announce that I will be doing a podcast for Apples & Snakes. It will be one of their monthly shows on Basic FM. It will be aired in May. It will be about poet-y goings on in Wales as related to the Dylan Thomas centenary. It will feature various (performance) poets, and will be mostly recorded at the Dylan Weekend in Laugharne. It will be called - Spoken Bard. More details to follow on that shortly. Happy listening in the meantime!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Work + Shops = Funtimes!

I don't like that traditional concept of work (slavery; slog), and I don't particularly enjoy shops, either (unless they are the cake-filled kind), but put these individual words together and whathaveyougot? Something that can be very good fun (laugh; hoot) while at the same time very informative. My personal equation is: Fun + Learning = Workshop and, this weekend, there is plenty in the way of workshoppy goodness, see here:

Saturday 8th March
XX Women's Writing Festival
'Performance Poetry: Tips, Tricks, and Getting Ahead'
11.30-12.30am in Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Allow me to take you gently by the pen and lead you into the wonderful world of performance poetry! I will be giving tips on how to read, where to read, when to read, who to read with, what to read, and how to put your poetry forth into the world so that it might be heard by the greatest number of ears! Book here! :

Sunday 9th March
WOW Festival
'Poetree Drop-In'
2-3.30-pm in the Sony Room, Wales Millennium Centre (in association with the Southbank Centre, London)
Drop in, pick up a pen, write a poem, hang it from the 'poetree', admire your words, read others, chat, laugh, leave! Or, don't leave, but they might kick you out in the end ;-) A very relaxed little drop-in for anyone who likes writing, or even not.

No need to book, just pop along!

All genders and even species welcome to both of these!

I look forward to seeing you there x

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Book! Me! Book - Who?

So. I am having a book out. I think I can say that? It will be out later this year. I'll let you know the publisher if they say I can! I'm only just putting a draft together now. I was sort of waiting to get a 'first thing' out there because I've been doing this for 6 years now, and knew almost from the beginning that I wasn't the poet I wanted to be yet. I wanted to wait until my poetry voice matched my internal voice a bit more - or, one of them - the one that I feel is more from my heart than any other place. I started out Doing Funny, but nearly everything I wrote back then to amuse, now I am re-reading, is also very Dark and Angry. I do sometimes make a joke onstage about 'poetry as therapy' - for plenty of us, it is! - but this is reeeeally apparent in these pieces. I mean, I *was* having actual therapy and doing a lot of work on myself at the time... The poems also seem a lot darker/angrier because they are on a page, all black and white and stark as anything, rather than me performing them with my soft voice and jokes inbetween. What to do? 

I don't think I can wait for my first book to be ready in any other voice/style I use, 'Mab' is too well-known now, she has written hundreds of poems, and performed nearly 700 times, and could have sold hundreds of books too, instead of flimsy self-made chapbooks or anthologies where people often didn't buy because they didn't know the other writers... I need a product. I need somewhere for these poems to 'go'. I think - I also need to make a distinction between what Mab writes and what my other (real?) self writes. I feel like 'Mab Jones' came about at a very particular point in my life, and as a character really helped me overcome lots of personal challenges. I still want to continue with her. I won't kill her off and become all serious! It's too much fun, and Mab just loves making people laugh toooo damn much.....!

However, after a fair bit of mucking about, persona-wise, in the past couple of years, it seems I have found the self I wish to use when it comes to writing these 'other poems'. I will continue to write comic verse through Mab, but I will use my real name, Michelle Anastasia Oliver, for these. What difference does this make in practical terms? Actually, none at all. Not at this point, anyway. It just seems like, some of my newer poems are so different to these older ones, that they need to be marketed under a different name. This will be it. I already have a secret blog which this persona writes in any case... *don't bother looking, you will not find it!!*

That's all for now, anyway. Thanks for reading. And, back to the book!!

M xxx

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Sandwich of Spoken Word!

This weekend, friends, I offer you a sumptuous sandwich of spoken word, made with two slices of delicious London bread and a sumptuous sliver of Welsh meat in the middle!!

Bread slice #1: on Saturday, I will be performing poems at Green Man Festival's special one-off St David's Day event in Camden. It's called Hwyl, and I will be on at just after 4pm. Also performing are Rachel Trezise, Joe Dunthorne, and the Gentle Good. It looks like a top day out, with the Beeb, beer, a booth for taking fun photos, and Welsh morris dancing too! :-)

Meat: then, on Sunday, I will be at Literature Wales's Poetry Cafe at the WMC from 12-4pm, along with poet Rufus Mufasa, writing poems specially to order. Drop in for a dollop of doggerel, a slice of sonnet, a salt 'n' pepper sprinkling of alliteration! (My pal Clare Ferguson-Walker is hosting the cafe on Saturday if you'd prefer to come along then.)

Bread slice #2: Sunday evening, then, it's London again topping it all off as I feature on Roundhouse Radio's poetry show, Round at Laurie's. Hosted by the lovely Laurie Bolger, it features live tracks from Bang Said the Gun and Tonuge Fu, as well as yours truly sharing a new poem about something topical in the news. You can listen in live at 7pm.

Hope you manage to take a bite out of this sandwich, dearest blog readers. I promise it will be very fresh and juicy!!!!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Many Lives of Mrs Mackworth

This is the year of important centenaries: 100 years since the start of the First World War; 100 years since the birth of one of Wales's greatest poets, Dylan Thomas; and, 100 years since, at the outbreak of the war, Margaret Mackworth, later known as 'Lady Rhondda', became something of a sensational suffragette, throwing herself on the car of then-Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, attempting to blow up a post box with a chemical bomb, hanging out with the Pankhurts, and generally causing a bit of femme-mayhem in the name of equal rights.

Winding Snake are organising some interesting workshops and events around this (some of which I am involved with), beginning with a free talk on Monday about 'the many lives' of Mrs Mackworth - because this remarkable woman did loads of other things, and lived a very full and extraordinary life - and you are all warmly invited to attend. It's at Newport University's Caerleon campus and is given by Angela V John, whose book 'The Life of Lady Rhondda' was published by Parthian last year. I'll be going... Click on the Winding Snake logo below to book your complimentary ticket, and the other image (of a postbox, thankfully un-bombed!) to see an ITV news video about the lady. 


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A Blog for World Poetry Writing Month

Here is a blog I wrote for WoPoWriMo, which I was invited to do by the lovely Sarah Snell-Pym. It's entitled 'Poetry and Me'... and it's about me and poetry! Click on the pic below to read it...