I can’t pretend that I am a shy, retiring writer. From an early age I loved getting on stage at school, in local Amateur Dramatics and in the female chorus of various Gilbert and Sullivan societies.
Of course I ditched Pirates of Penzance for poetry gigs in North East pubs and then forgot about performing when I went to Hull University. I’d go and see bands play in the town’s venues but I wasn’t thinking of reading poetry in front of an audience or of being in a band.
I moved to London after uni and 1994 I met musician and my prospective guitar teacher, David O’Connell. The lessons were abandoned after a month ‘cos I was rubbish but the connection was established. For the next decade we lived, loved and wrote songs together and tried out our songs with various line ups. We managed to succeed with Micklewhite, a four piece founded on a shared love of The Beatles, Hendrix and the film Get Carter. From 1999 to 2004 bassist Robert Bassett and drummer John Jones joined us for Monday evening rehearsals in Royal Oak, just off London’s Westway.
We recorded in studios, gigged around London and enjoyed drinking and scheming together most weekends. I declared we were “The Four Keith Moons of the Rock Apocalypse” and no one challenged me. I was living my teenage dream of being in a band.
I’ll admit I was nae Beyoncé when it came to performing and usually needed a half or so of Dutch Courage to clamber on stage to shimmy, air guitar and bash my tambourine along to the music.
Fast forward to 2012 and I was living back in the North East. Poet and then North East Co-ordinator for Apples and Snakes, Kirsten Luckins encouraged me to get involved in the local spoken word scene. I wound up applying for and winning a place on a unique spoken word performance training scheme run by Stockton’s ARC and Apples and Snakes alongside poets Andrew Sclater and Rowan McCabe. Our Amuse Bouche show was performed in ARC and Newcastle’s Live Theatre in 2012/13.
The experience blew my poetic mind and changed my performance style forever. Working with Kirsten and co forced me out of comfort zone and off page. From then on I accepted offers to perform at events including Jibba Jabba, The Stanza and the Black Light Engine Room. I also hosted and performed at regular evenings including Free as a Bard, Pot Luck Club and Seven Bells with friends and fellow performers including Ken Creen and Sandy Chadwin.
The publication of my last book The Princess of Felling in 2019 was an excuse to host quirky events in cafes, pubs and a social club and perform mini-musical, The Princess and the Piano with musician Mike Waller. Click for Princess page
I’ve missed performing during the pandemic and look forward to a time when I can share my work with a live audience. My favourite poetry performance space is Steve Urwin’s Poetry Jam which is held once a month at the Waddington Street Centre in Durham city. I hope it’s not too long before Poetry Jam plus other regular spoken word events resume around the UK.