I interviewed President Obonjo, who is a well-known, larger-than-life performer in alternative stand-up. As The President, he comes on stage in full uniform, requiring his audience to stand in his presence and listen to absurd tales of his iron rule over the ‘Lafta Republic’. Behind The President is a very different persona, Benjamin Bankole Bello, a quiet man whose identity has been stolen by The President and whose wife is in love with the other man.
Obonjo reached the finals of the New Act of the Year 2016 and received a five-star rating at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. He is currently through to the semi-final of the English Comedian of the Year. In the past he’s been Luton Comedian of the Year and winner of Beat the Gong, Beat the Frog, Bath Comedy Gladiators & Hastings Comedian of the month. He often plays to audiences of 150+ up and down the country.
It’s about 2pm in small-town southern France, what feels to me like early spring (although it’s mid-May), and I’m sitting with my back against a picnic table, facing the Garonne, growing frustrated. I’m cold because I only brought one pair of jeans and nothing warmer than a wind-breaker to Europe, but that’s not why I’m irritated. I briefly consider that I’ll never find in Knoxville a rosé better than the one I had with lunch, but that’s not it, either. I try hearing the river flow in this present moment. Just water. I shift forward, crane my neck, and swear. The reason I’m annoyed is that the damn river won’t say anything to me.
The audiences attending the Something RhymedLiterary Salons about the problem of gender inequality in the literary world have experienced something special.
Held at New York University in London, a beautiful, high-ceilinged 18th century mansion in Central London, the discussions have been warm, thoughtful and full of insights into gender bias in society as well as in publishing. But they’ve also celebrated women’s successes as writers and their vital role as readers in supporting the industry.
Leslie: Do you use or record dreams to help your writing? Are there other forms of recording you use? How do you turn your records/sketches into finished poetry?
Andrew: I don’t exactly record my dreams. I don’t keep a dream journal; although, I do have a notepad and pen on my nightstand. Actually, I have notepads and pens everywhere: my nightstand, my car, my office, every bag or backpack I might carry – each has its own pad and pen. Continue reading ON DREAMS & WRITING POETRY→
I interviewed two talented and original acoustic folk musicians who write and perform their own material: Julie Williams of Hidden Julesand Kelly Oliver.
HIDDEN JULES are Julie Williams, who sings, writes songs and plays guitar, and Jon Horlick who plays lead guitar and ebow.
Their first album ‘Into The Light’ was released in June 2015 and they are currently working on a second album ‘Spirits In My Wine’. Their song ‘Twisted Town’ featured on the album ‘Blues From The Herts’ in 2015 to raise money for SANE.
Their lyrics deal with emotive subjects such as adventure, love, betrayal, sexuality, taking risks and astral projection.
In part two of Mark Statman’s interview about Religion and Poetry he goes deeper into his own practices and beliefs as a poet.
Leslie:Joseph Brodsky said: ‘Poetry amounts to the arranging of words with the greatest specific gravity in the most effective and externally inevitable sequence’. How do you, as a writer, aim to achieve additional, symbolic or multi-layered meaning when writing? Is there a kind of deliberate ‘transcendentalism’ or artifice involved in selecting significant detail when you write? Or is the random/chaotic or the post-modern manipulation of sign/symbol a more accurate reflection of life?
Mark: As a poet, I’m not sure, at the moment of first writing, what I’m aiming for in any given poem. While I’m writing, at least in the first or second draft of any poem, I don’t think, oh this will be a good place for an image or this will be a good place for a metaphor, or here it would be interesting to bring in the universe. So, no, I don’t think there is anything deliberate. Continue reading Poetry & Religion, part 2→
Excerpt from ‘Purple’, Matthew Lavender’s coming-of-age tale about courtship, free love and the generation gap. In this reading from chapter three Matthew’s gran, Mary, begins her story. Filmed/edited by Cynthia Nolan and Rory Gardner. You can read more about/buy Purple here.