VAULT FESTIVAL: MADAME OVARY

By Carmina Masoliver

tw: mentions of terminal illness

It’s that time of year again, and we’re now coming towards the end of it. VAULT Festival, now in its eight year, has opened up the tunnels of Leake Street and surrounding areas to bring even more shows than ever before.

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THE REVIVAL OF ’90S ASIAN UNDERGROUND CLUB SCENE: DJ ISURU ON “MISHTI DANCE”

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

The alternative British Asian pop genre, Asian Underground, held a significant place back in the early-mid ‘90s as a uniquely transgressive genre combining Indian classical instrumentation, jazz, the contemporary sounds of dub, drum ‘n’ bass and jungle, interspersed with crooning Bollywood-style vocals. The genre blew up and enjoyed mainstream popularity in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, exerting significant influence on Western hip hop, R&B and urban music at the time. DJ Isuru Perera, better known simply as DJ Isuru, is one of the leading figures in today’s Asian Underground revival, having collaborated with a range of DJs and performers aspiring to reintroduce this strand of ‘90s Dance music to a younger generation. He is also a regular presenter on SOAS radio, where he hosts various (mainly British Asian) musicians from different eras, playing their music with accompanying track-by-track analysis. 

I caught up with Isuru to discuss Asian Underground history and his latest initiative, ‘Mishti Dance’, a series of evening events held in East London. Isuru neatly articulates its ethos as ‘a return to the experimentation of the Asian Underground in the face of commercial clubbing’. The format of Mishti Dance comprises a community-based arts and performance space featuring both poets and DJs, in a radical defiance of the rigid, distinct cultural categorisation of arts events as either high arts- or club music-based.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019 – PART 2

by Carmina Masoliver

trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault, mentions of transphobia

My second week at Edinburgh Fringe Festival offered a selection of shows more overtly dealing with Feminist themes. This selection ranged from the role that gender has to play in our experience of the dating world in the digital age, an exploration of the ‘pretty privilege’ set against trans experiences, to an examination of celebrities as female role models.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019 – PT 1

edinburgh fringe 2019

by Carmina Masoliver

Edinburgh Fringe festival seems to get bigger and bigger each year; there are hundreds of shows to choose from and the densely-packed programme can be difficult to decipher. Here we have briefly reviewed three distinct shows from the 2019 edition, dealing with the mind, the body, sexuality, relationships and gender.

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KILL THE PRINCESS, BY BAIT THEATRE

kill the princess review bait

by Sunetra Senior

A tall hill of turquoise, gendered cooing and guffawing, chainmail crop tops, and dance-fights with mops, performed to the sound of nineties nostalgia: Lizzy Shakespeare and Michelle Madsen, together known as Bait Theatre, effectively wield experimental drama to tear through the fanciful tropes of traditional fairy-tale femininity.Continue Reading

THE LAST WORD FESTIVAL 2019 REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

The Last Word Festival at The Roundhouse, Camden, merges various art forms that all centre on the spoken word – in some cases fusing with music, circus and cabaret. Established artists feature in the festival alongside younger, emerging artists; The Roundhouse supports 18 to 25-year-olds starting out in spoken word poetry (amongst other things) through the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, of which I was a member. Each show I see, I bump into fellow poets, for example, chatting to Toby Campion, we realise we both came through the Roundhouse programme.

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THE RICH NOTHING AT UGLY DUCK

by Carmina Masoliver

On a rainy Friday, people in-the-know gathered to listen to poetry in Ugly Duck for the launch of Sophie Fenella’s debut poetry collection The Rich Nothing. Ugly Duck is actually a series of different event spaces, with this particular one being located at 47/49 Tanner Street in Bermondsey. Inside this old Victorian tannery (where leather skins are processed), therein lies ‘The Garage’. On the ground floor, the space is described as having ‘a grungy urban warehouse feel’, and without much natural light at the back, it has an underground vibe in more than one sense of the word. With genuine caution signs for wet floors from leaks, it feels like an abandoned building that has been turned into an exhibition space – but in a cool way.

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BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES REVIEW

by Liv Barnett

Barbershop Chronicles is a ride which buzzes with energy from the first shaves to the final fades. It is written by Inua Ellams, UK-based poet, playwright and performer, and is an exhilarating play that identifies various aspects of black men’s experience through snippets of stories and interactions in barbershops that Ellams overheard as he travelled throughout Africa. Like hairdressers or taxi rides, barbershops can be intimate spaces for banter, storytelling and confession. With generosity and patience, this play does a good job of allowing audience members to step momentarily into the world of men’s chats. We become part of the warmth and banter between sensitive characters and appreciate the feelings and analyses that come with post-colonial politics, experiences of cultural change, complex family dynamics and making a living amongst love and friendship.

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SENSE ME – ANNUM SALMAN REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

Sense Me, by Annum Salman, arrives in a beautiful box filled with paper hearts, shredded tissue paper and a plastic blue quill-style pen. I received it after seeing her feature at That’s What She Said, a spoken word night in London.  The book and the box are perfect for Instagram, yet I didn’t expect to see a ‘social media etiquette’ flyer inside, which strikes me as a clever touch necessary for a self-published text.

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TO BE A FEMALE PERFORMER – ABUSE AND HARASSMENT IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

by Tom McGhie

Content warning: sexual harassment, sexual abuse, misogyny

There are few greater feelings than when an artist connects with their audience at a gig, something more than just applause and guitar chords. Most people have, at some point in their lives, attended a gig which has stuck in their memory because of that very exchange between performer and public. This visceral communication is what propels music as one of the most important art forms; it brings people together in an ever-dividing societal sphere.

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NEIL HILBORN, SABRINA BENAIM AND RUDY FRANCISCO AT EPIC STUDIOS – VIRAL SLAM POETICS – 6TH NOVEMBER, 7PM

By Eli Lambe

There are individual, form-based and contextual reasons the performance of Slam Poetry often goes viral – as a form it is rooted not in the appearance of words on a page, but in the exchange between poet and audience, the intense and intentional circulation of emotion between the two. Originally conceived as a way of getting out from stuffy academic interactions with poetry, the form has grown since the first slams in the 1980’s and has, over the last decade, been reaching wider and wider audiences through YouTube and social media.

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REVIEW: SCRATCH IT! AT THE NORWICH ARTS CENTRE

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by Lewis Martin

On Sunday 6th May I attended Scratch It! hosted by Hack Theatre at the Norwich Arts Centre. Aimed at attracting new writers and ongoing projects, the evening looks to give a platform to work that is happening in the area so it can be developed and flourish. The arts varied across the evening, ranging from comedy to drama and using different styles and formats.Continue Reading

REVIEW – THE HAIR WRAP DIARIES

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by Carmina Masoliver

Piles of colourful patterned fabrics line the stage, and three women dressed in black Lycra leotards select a fabric and wrap it around their head. The fabrics are drawn across the stage as the performers’ bodies undulate in a backwards crawl, before the scene is set as a hair salon with the colours swept away in a swirl around a chair.

As the title The Hair Wrap Diaries suggests, during this Uchenna Dance production written by Bola Agaje in partnership with director and choreographer Vicki Igbokwe, we hear different stories from each performer. Yet the show is also interspersed  with dance, giving it a strong sense of poetics as the words are broken up and repeated with the movements. The stories themselves are carefully selected, offering a rainbow of different generations of black women, exploring their relationship with hair.Continue Reading

BAD FAITH

by Carmina Masoliver

I was invited to the premiere of Bad Faith, a collaborative piece by by English poet, Jemima Foxtrot, Belgian choreographer, Tara D’Arquian and Icelandic designer Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson. They worked with poetry, lighting design and dance to explore Sartre’s concept of bad faith through themes of womanhood and loss.

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TRUTH, SYSTEMS, GOVERNMENT AND HIERARCHIES – THE AUDIT

by Hannah Rose

It’s now ten years since the global financial crisis, the most significant economic meltdown since The Great Depression in the 1930s. What better way to mark the event than by going to see  The Audit (or Iceland, a modern myth) at Norwich Arts Centre on 21st March? Taking on the voice of a nation which spoke out against the accepted narratives succeeding the 2008 financial crash, Proto-Type theatre’s latest work speaks to the powerless about the powerful.

A medley of performance, text, animation, music and myth-busting promises shine a light on new perspectives of the systems, government and hierarchies that have shaped recent global politics. Be warned: this is theatre that will turn the truth inside out.

This is the second piece of political work by Proto-Type, following A Machine They’re Secretly Building about surveillance in our modern times. Rachel Baynton, Gillian Lees, and Andrew Westerside are multi-disciplinary artists who lead the group, and also support young artists across the globe in making and performing original works.

Come and support this movement of myth-busting and truth telling…

Featured image via NAC, by Adam York Gregory

 


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POLITICS AND POWERSLAMS – REACTIONARY NARRATIVES IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING

by Chris Jarvis

CW: sexual assault, racism, ableism, violence, sexism, suicide, murder, mental health

Professional wrestling is big business, and there’s none bigger than the monolithic World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In 2015, its revenue totalled over $650 million dollars, whereas the second largest promotion in the world – New Japan Pro Wrestling – saw a comparatively paltry $30 million. WWE is a cultural and economic behemoth, with profound power and influence wrapped into its carefully crafted and tightly managed brand. Its most successful exports go on to become major cultural icons – film stars, stand up comedians, talk show favourites. WWE alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the world’s second highest paid actor with a barrage of accolades to boot. Dave Bautista has followed in the footsteps of the ‘People’s Champion’, with a major role in the third highest grossing film in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy. In 1999, Mick Foley published the first instalment of his autobiography – Have a Nice Day – which shot to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation. John Cena has granted more ‘wishes’ for the Make a Wish Foundation than anyone else. In 2015, WWE heirs apparent Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor’s Cure, a charity dedicated to researching pediatric cancer, after 8 year old WWE fan Connor ‘The Crusher’ Michalek tragically passed away in 2014. Most recently, programming of Raw and Smackdown were interspersed with fundraising vignettes for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation.

Beneath the shimmering veneer WWE have created, though, lies a murky and unpleasant history. Continue Reading

FEMINIST TOP PICKS – EDINBURGH FRINGE 2017: PART 3

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by Carmina Masoliver

Read part one of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

Read part two of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

 CW: rape, sexual assault, islamophobia, homophobia

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REVIEW: TWO LITTLE DUCKS EDINBURGH FRINGE PREVIEW

by Laura Potts

CW: Mentions violence against children

More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.

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REVIEW: A VERY QUEER NAZI FAUST AT NORWICH PRIDE 2017

by Eli Lambe

CW; ableism, suicide, sanctions

Vince Laws’ protest-play, ‘A Very Queer Nazi Faust’ is the stunning result of ongoing development, lack of funding and an “angry depression diary”. It has been performed in a host of untraditional venues including: the streets of Birmingham during the Conservative Party Conference; outside the Houses of Parliament (whilst Ian Duncan-Smith was being interviewed); and, most recently, the Community Tent at Norwich’s ninth Pride celebration. Cast through social media, the performance was anarchically unpolished and filled with righteous, infectious anger. The roles of the  “thirteen local legends” brought together in art and solidarity against “state sanctioned torture” were all filled by local queer and disabled activists. Although the title of the show was excluded from the official Norwich Pride 2017 programme, The Community Tent was still filled with an enthusiastic and engaged audience.

The roles of the  “thirteen local legends” brought together in art and solidarity against “state sanctioned torture” were all filled by local queer and disabled activists

‘A Very Queer Nazi Faust’ began life as a “depression diary”, which would have been too expensive to publish (another example of barriers faced by disabled or otherwise marginalised authors and this kind of protest art) and developed into a play protesting against the press and government’s ongoing violence towards disabled people in the UK. After receiving some funding and support from Disability Arts Online and The Literary Consultancy, Laws gained “the confidence to build it into something” – and that something is truly incredible.

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REVIEW: THE POETRY COLLECTIVE

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by Eli Lambe

The Poetry Collective’s bi-monthly poetry open-mic has been running for three years, hosted in a variety of venues across Norwich. Yet it’s the trendy hub, The Birdcage that has become a favourite platform for both new and established performers.  Described by one of the performers (Johnny Raspin) as “The best poetry night in Norwich”, it’s easy to see how this endorsement was earned. The hosts, Freddie and Jodie, are enthusiastic and lovely, the venue filled up very quickly, despite the weirdly autumnal weather, and the casual back and forth between host, performers and audience created an atmosphere of community and support.


The night began with an endearingly honest set by one of the hosts, Jodie Santer, who moved through topics including politics, coming-of age and love. She shared a poem written for her younger sister, bringing together fears about growing up with social expectations and misogyny; a powerful and relatable piece. Eoghan Lavery followed with a vividly Shakespearean monologue about ageing, technology and remorse entitled “Winter”, which was masterfully and dynamically delivered. He performed the poem as its narrator, bringing the audience through the reflections of an old man viewing his childhood on a projector.  

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BRAINSTUCK ARGUMENTS

by Eli Lambe

How can you have anxiety and whatever
and read aloud to rooms.
How do you flinch at loud noises and not stares?
Speaker, the mind is unintelligible
and this unwell mind doubly so.
I do not hyperventilate this performance,
or rarely,
is this performing the cause.Continue Reading

CÓRDOBA FERIA: A CELEBRATION OF EXTRAVAGANCE

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by Carmina Masoliver

In Córdoba, for two weeks at the end of May and spanning across two weekends, there is a massive fair that is so big you really have to experience it for yourself. We were even given two days off work to enjoy the festivities. I went for a total of five days.

The festival is rooted in honour of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health), and started as an old livestock market. In 2017, it included over a hundred casetas, where everyone comes to eat, drink, and dance. It attracts all ages, and also has a fairground with an impressive selection of rides and roller-coasters, plus sticks of candy floss nearly as big as me.Continue Reading

REVIEW: TRUE STORIES LIVE – NO REGRETS

by Hannah Rose

CW: mentions of sexual assault

Think of your best friend, I bet they spin a good yarn. No doubt they think the same about you. The exchange of life stories is how the finest, most novel human bonds are made. It’s within these intimate, warm spaces where the stories of our lives unfold; cementing who we are, rooting memory, making kaleidoscopes of our imaginations.

This is the essence of True Stories Live—the invention of Norfolk producer Lucy Farrant and writer and host Molly Naylor. Continue Reading

REVIEW: BETTER WATCH YOUR MOUTH, BY JENN HART

by Carmina Masoliver

The cover of Better Watch Your Mouth displays a set of lips and teeth pulling the kind of expression you would make after being told such a thing. It suggests an unapologetic rejection of censorship, which is later reflected in the poem ‘Ugh, Men’ with the statement ‘we will not censor ourselves (x3)’.

This is a collection that mixes everyday language with profound metaphor, and beautiful imagery with emotive stories. It begins with the telling of others’ stories and gradually becomes more personal, yet in a way that is also relatable, as time skips back and forth like the mind floating back to memories, some singed with pain and others with nostalgia.

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REVIEW: LETTERS TO WINDSOR HOUSE, BY SH!T THEATRE

by Hannah Rose

Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit—aka Sh!t Theatre—are Generation Renters living in Windsor House on the Woodberry Down housing estate in Hackney. Their digs are dirty, cramped, noisy and downright dangerous—thankfully, the pigeon netting saved one of them from a fall off  the balcony (which, incidentally, is covered in pigeon shit).

The kitchen is “fucking disgusting,” not to mention expensive at £1200 a month. This however, is the standard experience for thousands of London dwellers who have no hope in securing affordable, safe housing in England’s capital city. In Letters to Windsor House, Louise and Rebecca crack open a window and shine a light on the London housing bubble via this renegade piece of political theatre—a stimulating medley of storytelling, reportage, video, and Oliver inspired songs.Continue Reading

TRUE STORIES LIVE: NO REGRETS

by Hannah Rose

True Stories Live is a beautifully simple idea which has blossomed since its inception a year ago. Each night promises to be engaging and entertaining, offering a storytelling space where the unexpected nearly always happens. The premise is straightforward, inviting members of the public to share their unscripted stories with an audience.

A theme is set for each night and storytellers are invited to workshops to help prepare for their performance. To date, themes have included: ‘There’s No Place Like Home’, ‘Forgive And Forget’, and ‘In Another Life’. A rich experience often including the intimate, the bittersweet and the darkly funny, drawing large audiences each time round.Continue Reading

REVIEW: ENMUJECER FESTIVAL / IWD 2017

by Carmina Masoliver

CW: sexual assault, gender violence, abuse

Initially lamenting that I wouldn’t be in London for International Women’s Day, missing the annual WoW festival at the Southbank Centre, I was pleased to find out that Córdoba has a whole month of activities to mark the occasion. Whilst the practicalities of striking weren’t feasible – for example, I cannot afford to take a day unpaid and no unions exist for the work I do. I was informed that there would be a walk-out between 12-12.30pm, and this happened to be when my break between two classes fell. I used it to do some grocery shopping, so not particularly radical.Continue Reading

MEANWHILE, BACKSTAGE IN SONIC BOOM SIX’S WORLD

Content Warning: Racial slurs, homophobia

by Chris Jarvis

A few minutes’ walk from the dreaming spires for which the city is famed lies East Oxford’s Cowley Road – the hub where ‘kids of the multiculture’ grow up. An area undergoing rapid gentrification, it still retains its working class heritage, ethnic diversity, and unique character under the strains of the expansionist middle classes settling, with students and university professors increasingly filling the nearby terraces.

Cowley Road is home to the O2 Academy. Previously the Zodiac, the venue is emblematic of other changes in the area – a corporate takeover of a formerly independent music venue. Across the road sit branches of Subway and Costa, but a little further down is the Truck Store – the pivot of the local independent music scene. Here, at Oxford’s O2 Academy, Manchester-born Sonic Boom Six get set to tear up the stage on a Friday evening. Continue Reading

REVIEW: GRITO DE MUJER FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT

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by Carmina Masoliver

Whilst living in Spain – though I have missed my loved ones – what I have missed most is the abundance of poetry and arts nights you can find in London. It wasn’t long before I arrived in Córdoba that I went in search of events. I saw an old poster for a “Poetry Slam” at the Jazz Café, but it didn’t appear to exist any more. I then stumbled upon Mujeres Poetas Internacional. I contacted founder Jael Uribe, from the Dominican Republic, and she soon responded and contacted the organisers in Córdoba, and even translated four of my own poems into Spanish.

I corresponded with Sergio Perez Rodrigeuz and Maria Pizarro, organisers of the Grito de Mujer at which I was booked to read. I emailed in Spanish, which perhaps led them to believe I could speak Spanish, which is certainly not the case (writing =/=speaking). There were awkward moments, such as me not realising a group photograph included me and having it retaken, and me staring blankly when trying to discuss the proceedings (thankfully an audience member with some English skills stepped in). But for a night of poetry where I could only pick out a few words, it showed that poetry was well and truly alive in Spain.Continue Reading

RESISTANCE VOICES: THOSE WHO MARCHED FOR WOMEN

In the aftermath of the Women’s March — a worldwide protest in resistance to Donald Trump on Saturday January 21st 2017 that saw an estimated 4.6million people take to the streets in the US alone — The Norwich Radical’s Tara Debra G and Cadi Cliff put a call out.  This article is the product of that call out, which asked for thoughts from those who identified as women and who attended one of the many Women’s Marches on why they marched. These are just some voices, but they speak from across the UK and the US in an act of collaboration, solidarity, and resistance. Continue Reading

REVIEW: LUKE WRIGHT’S THE TOLL AT NORWICH ARTS CENTRE

by Hannah Rose

Luke Wright’s eighth solo show The Toll is a razor dipped in sugar: Ian Duncan Smith is a “jiggling tit” and rumour has it that a lion stalks the good people of Essex. It’s an hour of truth or dare, but not without the candid insight that self-reflection demands of performance poetry. Wright connects with his audience through just the right amount of personal anecdote tinged with good times and bad, and a generous scattering of cultural and political satire.

Brexit, Question Time and John Betjeman. It’s all in there. This line is hard to walk when it’s just you on the stage—too much waxing-lyrical about good times with your mates and you’ll bore your audience. Equally, too much of the dark stuff and the lights go out. People don’t generally pay £12 to be brought down by bad news.Continue Reading

REVIEW: KATE TEMPEST, LET THEM EAT CHAOS – LIVE

By Rowan Gavin

And they will run to the highest hill, consult their old books
Ask the dead mystics for wisdom they don’t trust

– Kate Tempest, Don’t Fall In

Kate Tempest’s latest album Let Them Eat Chaos is probably the most insightful and important work to be produced on this small island this year. On Monday night, Tempest and her band performed it in full, without interruption, to an enraptured crowd of strangers at the Waterfront in Norwich. Witnessing this storm of synths, bass, drums and words – words fleeting and clear as raindrops in a monsoon downpour – was an incredible experience.

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A WOMAN ON HER KNEES – REVIEW OF LOUISE ORWIN’S A GIRL AND A GUN

by Hannah Rose

He is driving, she is hanging on his arm. Behind them a vista depicting a wide road disappears into desert upon a large screen. The cherry red of her lipstick matches her low-slung red dress, punctuated by a pair of cowgirl boots. Her dreamy expression says she’s completely at ease, hanging off her man; pleased as punch, because he is in control. But he has never seen the script before; he will be reading off an autocue. She is the one driving the show.

Performer-playwright, Louise Orwin, is touring the UK with her new theatre piece, A Girl and A Gun which was performed at Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Jean-Luc Godard’s adage “All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl,” is the springboard from which Orwin’s performance dives headfirst into a chilling reality which is anything but surface deep.

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TRIGGER WARNING: LOUISE ORWIN’S A GIRL AND A GUN

by Hannah Rose

“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl,” quipped Jean-Luc Godard. Images of scantily clad women waving weapons around are commonplace in the media. It’s troubling to think how often we consume this image: Charlie’s Angels with their high-heeled kicks and sniper rifles; Bond women emerging from the sea with a pistol stowed away in a pair of knickers, and even pop music’s favourite feminists — Beyoncé and Lady Gaga — wear matching white bodysuits and brandish plastic-looking revolvers whilst singing something about a telephone. Watch out, those gals are gyrating and dangerous.Continue Reading

REVIEW – EMILY HARRISON’S ‘I CAN’T SLEEP ‘CAUSE MY BED’S ON FIRE’

by Carmina Masoliver

I have seen Emily Harrison share her work countless times at Burn After Reading events, and at my own night, She Grrrowls. She never fails to amaze me in the way she is able to articulate herself, speaking out about mental health issues – amongst other subjects – interwoven with links to gender and class. When I read lines about imaging someone loves you ‘when you simply asked/during a routine blood test, ‘Emily, how are you doing today?’ I sort of imagine she’s what I would be like if I were an extrovert.

The first couple of poems are familiar to me, and it’s hard not to picture Harrison on stage delivering these words, because as much as it’s incredible to be able to read the pieces, seeing them live is an important part of the way the text works, as it tends to be with Burning Eye Books – the go-to publisher for writers who refuse to remain on one side of the page/stage divide.Continue Reading

NORFOLK AND NORWICH FESTIVAL: PEDAL-POWERED CAR CHASE

by Paige Selby-Green

Saturday. 9:30pm. I’m sitting cross-legged on the grass of Chapelfield Gardens, and all around me the Garden Party is still going strong. The Adnams Spiegeltent is a roar of chatter and noise, and beside it a large mechanical dragon — rather charmingly named Elsie — turns the air orange with the glow from her flamethrower-covered body. I’m not here for either of those events, great though they were. I’m here for Pedal-Powered Car Chase, a fifteen-minute performance involving inventive live music, a handful of plucky volunteers, and some exercise in the name of making us think.Continue Reading

DEBRIS STEVENSON — PIGEON PARTY

by Carmina Masoliver

Deborah ‘Debris’ Stevenson is founder of The Mouthy Poets, based in Nottingham, who are a collective of 50 young poets. A poet herself, with a blurb of incredible achievements, I can’t help but envy her success as someone so near my age (she’s actually younger). Watching from the outside, I can see how much she has grafted to get where she is today, and her enthusiasm for what she does shines through at workshops, performance events, and is inside every well-chosen word on the pages of the Pigeon Party (2014) collection with flipped eye publishing.

Poems are enclosed in two-part poem After The Blackstone Rangers, which sets the scene for the collection. They describe a childhood growing up in cities, where “everyone was learning”, whether rolling cigarettes, or dancing. The words are both familiar and unexpected; a place where love and friendships are based on fun that is “still disposable and warm” — referring to the “can of Scrumpy Jacks”— but also holding a wider resonance, like most of Stevenson’s work.Continue Reading

VAGINAL KNITTING, GIRL ON GIRL CRIME?

by Jess Howard

Content warning: the article mentions menstruation and physical discomfort.

In 2013, performance artist Casey Jenkins from Melbourne, Australia, caused a storm on the internet by knitting for 28 days in a gallery space using wool she had inserted into her vagina. The piece was titled Casting Off My Womb, but was christened Vaginal Knitting by the press. Almost 3 years later, Jenkins is knitting from her vagina once more, producing a commentary on the abuse she received when her original piece went viral.Continue Reading

REVIEW: HANNAH SILVA’S ‘SHLOCK!’

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by Carmina Masoliver

Hannah Silva’s work can be difficult to penetrate; there is not necessarily a fixed meaning, and in the notes given prior to ‘Schlock!‘ she quotes Kathy Acker by saying to ‘get rid of meaning. Your mind is a nightmare that has been eating you. Now eat your mind.’ This in itself requires interpretation: we place so much emphasis on meaning in our lives, this can destroy our minds, and so perhaps the best way to remove the self-doubt that I’m going to be “wrong” in my view of the work is to eat my mind, take control of the way the dots connect, and the ways they don’t.Continue Reading

HOMEWORK REVIEW: MOLLY NAYLOR AND KATIE BONNA

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by Carmina Masoliver

Homework nights used to be a bit of a boys’ club, being a product of the all-male poetry collective Aisle 16. I’d been to an event where they shared that in their youth they had the rule that no girls were allowed. They became somewhat of a poetry boyband, and original members – Luke Wright, Joel Stickley, Chris Hicks, Ross Sutherland, John Osborne, Joe Dunthone and Tim Clare – have gone on to achieve great things. Most of these poets also have a Norwich connection, having attended UEA.

They’re also very much still involved in Homework, with Sutherland hosting this particular one. The premise of this night, based in Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, is that each poet has a month to create a new piece of work and the show itself is a presentation of their homework in the form of a literary cabaret. Each month is themed and features a special guest. It’s very popular, so arriving early for a good seat is a must. Honorary female members, Molly Naylor and Katie Bonna, have been making their mark here for some time, and I thought it would be worthy of a feature to shine the spotlight on them.Continue Reading

FEMINIST PICKS: EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL

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by Carmina Masoliver

After five days at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I’ve taken a pick of five Feminist pieces to review. Known for the extensive comedy programme, three of these are comedy acts, and then I’ve thrown in some poetry and theatre for good measure.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX: THE INSTITUTE OF SEXOLOGY AND SEX IN THE AFTERNOON

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by Carmina Masoliver

I didn’t know what to expect from The Institute of Sexology, exhibited at the Wellcome Collection, but it was probably not the mass of phallic and explicit penis-shaped trinkets, supposedly associated with power. What would have been nice is the inclusion of similar vagina-inspired adornments. Nevertheless, it was bound to be that an exhibition about sex would highlight patriarchal power and women’s submissive role throughout history.

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WOMAN VERSUS WORLD

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by Carmina Masoliver

Hollie McNish: Versus tour —  Open Banking Hall, Norwich. Hollie McNish has been on this particular tour for a long time now, having had it extended from the first set of dates. In the format that one would expect a music gig to be in, this proves — if nothing else — that poetry can work in this setting.  As a poet, part of what I loved was McNish’s refusal to write something more theatrical with lots of movement, or to strive for a narrative arc. A poet who likes to keep things simple — this stripped down approach was refreshing and inspiring.

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