HELEN MEISSNER: GIVING BACK & FOLKSTOCK RECORDS

Helen Meissner

I interviewed Helen Meissner, who runs Folkstock Records: ‘A joyous fusion of contemporary and traditional acoustic folk and roots music’. With her daughter Lauren, Helen has championed female musicians and self-funded many mainstream opportunities for emerging artists. Folkstock Records, which began as a result of Helen’s recovery from cancer, has featured in many national newspapers and radio shows. As a former Businesswoman of the Year for Herts, Helen ‘gives back’ energetically to all her remarkable acts. Continue reading HELEN MEISSNER: GIVING BACK & FOLKSTOCK RECORDS

BUSKING, RECORDING AND WINNING PRIZES… ZOE WREN

Zoe Wren playing at The Shard

I interviewed campaigning busker Zoe Wren, whose latest EP Gold and Smoke, released on Folkstock Records, retells traditional folk stories in a contemporary way. I asked Zoe, who was shortlisted for Best Female Solo at the NMG Awards, about the reality of licensed busking. I also asked Zoe about her musical career that includes winning the PRS Lynsey de Paul Award, being named Laurel Canyon UK‘s Favourite New Artist of 2018, and opening for acts such as Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention and Ralph McTell at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Continue reading BUSKING, RECORDING AND WINNING PRIZES… ZOE WREN

WATFORD WOMEN’S CENTRE – A SAFE SPACE FOR 30 YEARS!

Fiona Miller

I interviewed Fiona Miller, the new CEO of Watford Women’s Centre, about its history, what happens at the centre and the upcoming celebrations of the centre’s 30th anniversary.

Leslie: When did the centre start and what have been the main developments since then?

Fiona: Watford Women’s Centre (WWC) was set up in 1989 by a radical feminist consciousness-raising group who were part of the feminist peace movement at the time that had links to the longest feminist protest in British history: Greenham Common. Their political activity in the community was focused on women’s rights and particularly women who were victims of sexual and physical abuse as an outcome of patriarchal power relations. They set out to ensure that women’s concerns and voices were heard in local decision-making, and campaigned to establish the first ever Women’s Centre in Watford. Continue reading WATFORD WOMEN’S CENTRE – A SAFE SPACE FOR 30 YEARS!

ANNA HUGHES – CYCLING AND THE OUTDOOR LIFE

Anna Hughes

I interviewed long-distance cyclist, Anna Hughes, about her rides across the UK and Europe, her books, her veganism, living on a houseboat and her organising role in  ‘Flight Free UK‘. Anna is a passionate environmentalist who campaigns for climate change awareness, and promotes an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Leslie: Tell us about your books. What have been the difficulties and the rewards of cycling for you?

Anna: My first book, ‘Eat Sleep Cycle’, is about my ten-week bike ride around the coast of Britain. It was an adventure I did back in 2011, and it was my first big bike ride. Even though I’ve been a cyclist my whole life, that was the first time I packed up my bags and set off on a proper adventure. It was a life-changing experience and really opened lots of doors afterwards; I would never have become an author without it, and I am fortunate enough to be offered sponsorship and events from time to time as a result. The adventure had it all – the most amazing scenery I had ever had the pleasure of seeing; battles with terrain and weather of course; self-discovery; massively improved fitness; aches and pains and sores! Continue reading ANNA HUGHES – CYCLING AND THE OUTDOOR LIFE

KATY WHIM – RADICAL ART, MAGIC REALISM and M.E.

What she saw in water – photograph by Katy Whim

I interviewed author and art blogger Katy Whim about her distinctive personal world that includes M.E., art, surrealism, anthropology, Dada, magical realism, spirituality, politics, environmentalism and meditative musings.

Katy’s writings have appeared in Shooter, Tasting Notes & Other Short Stories, Magic Oxygen and To Hull And Back anthologies and Earlyworks Press.

Leslie: How did your early life foreshadow and develop the wide range of creative/political/social interests you have today? Continue reading KATY WHIM – RADICAL ART, MAGIC REALISM and M.E.

AKPA ARINZECHUKWU – GENDER QUEER POET

I interviewed Akpa Arinzechukwu, Nigerian writer photographer and social activist for queer rights. Akpa’s book of poems, City Dwellers, explores the intersections of religion, culture and sexuality in Nigeria. Akpa’s writing has appeared in Sou’wester, London Grip Poetry, Eastlit, ITCH, New Contrast. and reached the final of the Sophiamay Poetry Contest as well as the longlist of the Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction.

Leslie: Your twitter handle is called ‘the outsider formerly known as akpa arinzechukwu’. What’s the story behind this unusual title, please? Continue reading AKPA ARINZECHUKWU – GENDER QUEER POET

NANCY STEVENS – ARTS FM

Nancy interviewing John Suchet

I interviewed Nancy Stevens, finalist for Best Radio Presenter 2018 and winner of the 2017 Milton Keynes Inspirational Award for her outstanding contribution to the arts. Born in Zimbabwe and now living in Milton Keynes, Nancy is an arts activist. She hosts ‘Stevens on Sunday’, a radio arts show, as well as writing theatre reviews, a monthly magazine column, lifestyle articles and, for many years, a style agony aunt column where she answered readers’ fashion dilemmas.

Leslie: Would you like to tell the story of your community radio show – how it came about, who you interview and your most memorable studio moments? Continue reading NANCY STEVENS – ARTS FM

THE RISE AND RISE OF CLIMATE MUSEUM UK

I asked the founder of Climate Museum UK, Bridget McKenzie, about everything she has done to build up this new project, and how the museum aims to help people understand climate change.

Leslie: Can you update us, please, on what Climate Museum UK does, where the idea came from, and how it began? Continue reading THE RISE AND RISE OF CLIMATE MUSEUM UK

Author and Poet