Sunday, 29 December 2013

My Writing Year 2013 and Plans for 2014

It' been an overwhelming year in many ways. Not least because I'm mainly writing in Swedish again. And I happen to live in Sweden. I haven't quite accepted it yet. I keep telling myself that nothing is forever and that I'm a citizen of the world and all that ...

I still have three main projects going on:


The project is finished and I've written the book. It's just the whole publishing business left to deal with.


Same, same but different. This novel has been finished forever and I haven't given up on the UK market, but at the moment I'm finishing the translation into Swedish and will start to approach Swedish publishers again.


And then there's poetry. Performance poetry. If it wasn't for the poetry I would tear my hair and slit my wrists. Poetry keeps me on track. Poetry gets me out of the house. Poetry makes me friends. This year I took part in the National Slam Championship in Malmö and since then I've been performing regularly at festivals, slams, open mics and other random events. I also tried my luck as a "metaphor wrestler". (Pictured).

The reason I love performance poetry so much is that it's immediate and democratic. Anyone can do anything; you can write a poem today and throw it on the world tomorrow. The novel writing can be soul destroying in comparison as it involves a lot of waiting.

So. The future. In 2014 I will do everything I can to get SWENGLISH published and I will try equally hard to get REPLACING ANGEL out there. And I will step up on every stage and fill every page. Am working on some promising collaborations. Watch out!

I also got a an author page on Facebook now. Please like if you haven't already!

Happy new year all readers!


Monday, 23 September 2013

I Won the Hat - Gothenburg Poetry Slam!

Perhaps you've already read this piece of news in Swedish with the help of Google translate, but as I don't trust translation programmes, I thought I'd better say in in my own words:

I won the first Poetry Slam for the season at Café Hängmattan in Gothenburg!

And the prize was a hat.

Or rather what was in the hat. The audience were asked to contribute with money, love and other items. Apart from some notes and coins I also got two condoms, a box of throat pastilles, matches, a piece of a keyring, a business card, a poetry book, a flowery pin and blister plasters. Very useful. Thank you!

In Sweden the slam scene is very much focused on the National Championships that takes place in May every year. But if you live in a big or biggish city it's not enough to win a single Poetry Slam to reach the Nationals. Winning last night means that I've qualified for the autumn final and if I do well in the autumn final I'll get through to the annual final and if I'm lucky then, I'll secure a place at the Nationals.

I thought that living in Sweden for a while would mean the end of performance poetry for me as I was so used to my English poetry persona Lou Ice and her material in English. But writing in Swedish and doing something different has been good for me, even though I miss the UK scene and all my poetry pals in Brighton. I can only take my off to you for keeping up the love and the words through cyberspace.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Rattle Tales Anthology 1 & 2 - Now as Kindle Edition

Rainy day and I'm re-reading the Rattle Tales Anthology 1, marveling at how good it is. Apart from my story Playing Horse about forbidden love, there's a funny story inspired by the Royal Wedding by Erinna Mettler, a sweet monster story by Joe Evans and a fantastic piece by Lonny Pop called Fake Plastic Flowers that makes you feel sick - in a good way. And there are 21 more stories just waiting to be read!

The good news is that Rattle Tales Anthology 2 has been out for a while and both anthologies are available as a Kindle Edition!

Rattle Tales is just growing and growing and I hope they'll do an event in Sweden one day!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

I've become a Metaphor Wrestler!

It's not the muscles that count in this new art form and sport ... Metaphor wrestlers battle with words.

This weekend I took part in an exclusive workshop in Gothenburg that resulted in a show where eight wrestlers improvised metaphors on stage to the beat of a live band in a dark room.

More scary than taking part in a Poetry Slam, that's for sure. But what helps is that you create a wrestling character and I am Backpackia! And Backpackia is the thumb that was on its way to Thailand but ended up at the local supermarket ...

However Metaphor Wrestling itself is going to take over the world, you can look at some cool pictures of the wrestlers on the Metaphor Wrestling website.


Monday, 3 June 2013

Nowhere To Go

Before I started my Swenglish project and hit the road, I had a massive clear out, getting rid of clothes, books and CDs, but I just couldn't give away books that were signed by the author. One of those books were Ben Graham's Nowhere To Go.

When I unpacked my few belongings in my new home in Gothenburg, the title Nowhere To Go leapt out at me, making me a bit sad. For the first time in my life I live on my own, but am far from settled. Instead of dealing with stuff like a blocked drain and a dead basil plant, I'm escaping into the world of fiction. Nowhere To Go is fiction but I suspect it is close to the author's own experience of being a bit of a drop-out from society.

Reading Nowhere to Go made me think of Kerouac's On the Road with the romantic notion of travelling and taking drugs and just hanging around, trying to get by. But this book feels closer to home. The road trip takes place in Eastern Europe and all the characters are English working class with fantastic Yorkshire accents. Vic, the narrator, is more of an observer than a participant and I especially love his walk through Prague one hung-over morning.

It's a short book, more of a novella but I think that's a strength. Instead of focusing on life back in "boring Britain" the story is basically the trip to Prague and back. Vic's reflections are thoughtful and poetic, showing the gap between the beatniks and "the neatniks". The book is worth reading alone for the brilliant description of a night out playing with national stereotypes  "France glowers over, sipping a cognac at the bar, an elegant femme on his arm, while Britain sulks on the sidelines."

I can't get enough of road trip romanticising, but perhaps it isn't the kind of book I should be reading right now. I should appreciate that I'm in a clean, comfortable and warm flat instead of "being transported in a metal ice box through a bleak inhospitable landscape on a road trip to nowhere". However I will finish with another quote from the book that kind of describe my life in general: "this temporary resting place on the outskirts of adventure". To read more about what I'm up to check out my Swenglish blog.

Nowhere To Go was originally written in 1998, but published in 2010. To read more about the book and the author visit his blog:

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

At the Library of Memories: Glow Worms and Bumble Bees

Normally when I read poetry, I dip in and out of a collection, but for some reason Maria Jaztrzebska’s book At the Library of Memories, inspired me to read the poems in chronological order from front to back. And then I started to dip in and out, re-reading my favourites.

Perhaps it was the subtitles (starting with Foyer followed by Children’s Area) that seemed like different chapters to me, and made me think of a novel. And even though each poem can be read on its own, the poems become stronger when you have the full picture. A bit like looking in a photo album and connecting up memories. The collection can also be seen as a meditation on memory itself. ”By night children’s memories flicker like glow worms”.

Maria was born in Poland, but has lived most of her life in the UK and I love it how she jumps back and forth in time between her first memories of England and also thinking about her heritage. Now and again Polish words sneak their way into the poems, enhancing them. Overall I find it effortless to read the poems, the author manages to keep the poetic flow without complicating things.

There are also some very sensual poems about love as well as sexual experiences. My all time favourite is The Room of Smells, an interior garden, where the narrator is high on post sex feelings at a bus stop: ”she hates you comparing her scent to food or plants. You can’t help the way your mind runs, bumping into one fragrance after another like a great bumble bee”.

So, If you’re longing to read poetry, don’t wait. Go and find a copy of At the Library of Memories now.

Maria also has a blog.

Monday, 20 May 2013

National Poetry Slam Championship in Malmö, Sweden

The Teams in the Final: Göteborg, Malmö, Gotland & Huddinge
Amazing performances! Brilliant lyrics! Extraordinary people! No, I’m not talking about Eurovision Song Contest. I’m talking about what happened in Malmö in Sweden the weekend before Eurovision. I’m talking about the National Poetry Slam Championship. (SM = Svenska Mästerskapen = Swedish Championship)

I was happy to be one of 48 poets competing for 3 days and that I didn’t go through to the final 8 didn’t upset me too much. The point is not the point – the point is the poetry as the US poet Allan Wolf once pointed out. I had fun on stage and people found me entertaining. Just to be at the Nationals was a great honour as you had to win or come second at a local slam to be able to compete nationally. Above I’m performing a poem about shyness and the fear of saying hello.

Jamila Woods & Robbie Q Telfer
What I enjoyed most was to perform and watch the team pieces – there were 12 teams consisting of at least 3 people that were up on stage together. (I was part of the Växjö team.) You get it all: drama, a bit of singing, comedy, tragedy – and above all poetry. On top of that there were guest poets from Chicago: Jamila Woods & Robbie Q. Telfer, and for the brave ones there was an improv slam, a speed slam and a “Eurovision” slam where you were allowed background dancers and producers. Other highlights included the release of Oskar Hanska's poetry video and "the metaphor wrestling show".

"Metaphor Wrestling" 
If only media would focus half as much on the National Poetry Slam Championship as they do on Eurovision, I believe the world would be a better place. In Eurovision you’re not allowed to sing any political messages – when you’re poetry slamming no subject is too big or too small. It’s hard to write a good political poem, but some people are “naturally” political, like the National Slam Winner, Nino Mick, who is transgender and often writes about LGBTQ topics.

I find the Swedish Poetry Scene very open-minded and am truly impressed by the quality of the poems. I feared that I would stop performing poetry if I decided to stay in Sweden for a while, that it wouldn’t be possible without the support from the Brighton crowd that I’ve been part of for so many years, but now I feel inspired to write poems in both Swedish and English. And on a national level, I believe the Swedish Poetry Slam scene is better established than the English scene. As far as I know the National competitions aren’t as big in the UK. Next year the European Slam Championship is coming to Malmö!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Dress Rehearsal before the Swedish National Championships in Poetry Slam

Today I'm travelling to Malmö for the Swedish National Poetry Slam Championships. Last night my team (Jens Börjesson, Ann Dahlström & Erica Engdahl) did a dress rehearsal at Acoustic Stage in Växjö and it was all good fun trying out our team piece!

Photo: Marie Nilsson


Monday, 29 April 2013

The Swenglish Project is going to be a Documentary

For a whole week I've been followed by a film maker from Brighton & Hove Community TV that is making a documentary about my Swenglish project.  
Read more here.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Poetic Hairdresser

Most writers and poets can't make a full time living from their writing. I know poets who work at schools and I know poets who work for the police. And last time I was in Gothenburg I met a poetic hairdresser. Apart from writing poems he also cuts hair.

Thanks to the Swenglish-project, a tax return and support from family and friends I've been able to be a full time writer for over a year, but now it's time for me to get a job that pays the bills.

Is someone tempted to employ me as their hairdresser? If not - just give me another job, any job. This is my CV in alphabetical order (everything I've ever been paid for):

after school club assistant, author, babysitter, barmaid, blogger, café staff, camping host, columnist, compere, dinner lady, dishwasher, editor, events coordinator, flyerer, lecturer, library assistant, library officer, photographer, poet, poetry coach, postal worker, receptionist, reviewer, shop assistant, Swedish teacher, translator writer, workshop leader


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Towards the National Poetry Slam Championship in Sweden!

Today I took part in a poetry slam in Växjö, Sweden. I came second which means I'll be one of four people representing my county in the National Poetry Slam Championship in Malmö in May!

I'm super happy as I haven't been on stage in Sweden for years. Almost all my material is in English, but I wrote three poems in Swedish especially for this competition. You can watch some of my poems on YouTube.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Punk industrial hard rocker with attitude is still alive!

My debut novel "Punk industrial hard rocker with attitude" (Punkindustriell hårdrockare med attityd) is still very much alive.

Today I visited a college in Sweden and talked about the background of the book, why and how I wrote it.

It all started with a short story I'd written when I did a writing course. It was about a girl called Amanda who wanted to have a piercing done by her older punk friend Sid, but he refused to do it, said it was too close to the eye. In the opening chapter of "Punk industrial hard rocker with attitude", Amanda the main character wants her nose pierced by her older female friend Kim (Sid had to change both name and sex!), but Kim says no and helps her to colour her hair instead.

I also revealed that the novel has no plot. But I let Amanda overcome some traumas that pushed the story forward. The trauma of experiencing the first piss-up, the first kiss, the first sex, the first boyfriend. I thought those things were very traumatic when I went to school and I still feel very uncomfortable walking into a school building. Even the teachers could relate to what I was talking about, confirming the unwritten laws about who's popular and who's not.

I didn't have much time to talk about my current book project, Swenglish, but you can read all about it here.