Thursday, 29 December 2011

2012 Noticeboard Resolutions/2011 Accomplishments

NYE Noticeboard Resolutions 2012

1. Think about this - Maybe I shouldn't eat meat every day?

2. Walk how you walk. Find your pace - There is such thing as success coming too early.

3. Deal with my "I left school at sixteen and have no higher education" insecurity.

4. Remember this - Indecisiveness has lost me more opportunities than its gained.

5. You can learn more from people who do things/think differently to you than those that do.

6. Improve smell. I smell ok for a guy who is allergic to antiperspirant but I could be better.

7. Be involved in more collaboration projects. (another reason for improving my smell)

8. I now know there is such thing as reading too much poetry. Read more prose/novels/theatre.

9. Complete & publish the Shapes & Disfigurements journal (Will be sold at gigs/online)

10. Complete at least two poetry tours (National/International)


2011 accomplishments
1.     Chill Pill consecutively selling out Soho Theatre & becoming official associates of The Albany Theatre, Soho Theatre & The Arcola Theatre. 


2.     Touring Chicago & meeting Dan Sullivan, Tim Stafford, Robbie Q Telfer, Rodger Bonaire-Agard, Laura Yes Yes, Emily Rose, JW Baz and other great minds/people/poets. 



3. Working as co-creative director of the Keats House Poets Forum project. Working with the great poets in the forum & Simon Mole & Paul Shez from City Of London.




4.     Completing a youth theatre project with Half Moon & Apples & Snakes.


5.     Releasing Speed Camera Shy (with Jim Whelan) via a US based record label - Audio Gradient. (We're mentioned in The Guardian) - http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2011/dec/30/rise-of-poetronica?fb=optOut


6.     Spending three months working/travelling in South Africa. (on going)

7.     getting these videos made.

Have You Heard? from Adam Docker on Vimeo.

8.     Performing nationwide & alongside many inspirational names such as Margrat Atwood, Benjamin Zephaniah, Derrick Brown, Polarbear, Dizraeli etc.

9.     Getting even better at being myself.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

From The Travel Journal (14th Dec Entry & Brazilian Girls)


Travel Journal Entry 14th Dec 2011

I sat in an ice cream parlor on a high street in Cape Town watching an old couple (about seventy plus) order ice cream. It was a four pm heat outside, (a perfect orange heat maintained by a cool breeze). The old woman wore a yellow sunhat and a white summer dress; the old man wore a light blue nylon suit. They ordered one scoop of strawberry ice cream in a sugar cone. They stood by the counter pinching each other’s cheeks and smiling like they couldn’t believe they were alive at the same time. Its one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and I wish you saw it; it would have burst your heart wide open.

The Garden Route & Brazilian Girls

On the 16th – 21st December I left Cape Town and took a tour bus along the Garden Route. The scenery was every bit as gorgeous as the name suggests; bridges over water, pebble paths through mountains, white houses on hill sides, S-Roads by forests, rivers, rock cliffs, white sand beaches all along side the warm Indian Ocean. 






It is perfect for the backpacker crews, lots of young European and North American twenty-something’s looking for a safe little African experience. 

It was a direct contrast to my time spent in Athlone Townships, Primary Schools and Nursing Homes (which, to be honest I needed time away from).  

On the bus I met five Brazilian girls (no, I didn’t sleep with them, I’m just not that smooth) I did however learn some things from being around them and had fun laughing at all the advances from European guys trying to get their fantasies played out. 


Here is a short guide to European men who want to handle themselves properly around Brazilian women.

1.                 Do not ask for sex.

The Brazilian term for douche bag is “mala sem alca” and to them you will be just another dick chasing pussy if you have conversations like this…

Hey where are you from?

Brazil.

Really!? Do you want to have sex with me and my friends?

That is an actual word for word quote. Come on buddy, what would your grandma say?

2.     Do not start a conversation by talking about how much Brazilian pornography you watch. Your taste in porn says more about you than it does about them.

3.     Brazil is a deeply superstitious country so you may meet people who do not believe in sex before marriage.

4.     They speak Portuguese not Spanish. Come correct.

5.     If you become a buddy you will be expected to greet like this (see below)

High Five/ Fist Bump


6. No one wants to be a novelty so only wanting to be with a Brazilian because they're Brazilian will earn you no Brazil Nuts.


7. apparently in Brazil it's not polite to walk around in your underwear when sharing a dorm with five girls. 

Interesting Facts

In Brazil, Sponge Bob is called Bob Sponge.

Brazil has become the sixth largest economy in the world over-taking the UK.

Lots of racism in Brazil ("you have black Brazilians then you have Brazilians")

A Brazilian poet & writer called Machado De Assis is apparently the shit.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Conversation With An 8 Year Old/ What A Cave Can Teach You


Girl - Do you have a wife?


Me – No


Girl – So you sleep on your own?


Me – Yes.


Girl – I don’t like to sleep on my own, it makes me think of snakes.


Me – Why?


Girl – Because I’m scared of them.


Me – … So are you scared of snakes or loneliness?


Girl – Snakes because loneliness doesn’t have a head with those big teeth in it.


Me – hmm… I’m going to write that down.


Girl – Why?


Me – Because I like what you said.


Girl – Why?


Me – (Ignores question and gets notebook out of bag)


Girl – You know what I like?


Me – What?


Girl – Balloons.


Me – OK, what else do you like?


Girl – Dogs, dogs that can dance. I want Balloons, a dog that can dance and a gun.


Me – What? Why a gun?


Her – in case I see snakes... snakes that can dance.


What A Cave Can Teach You


It’s a one hour hike up the mountain at Kalk Bay. I went with an international hiking group (mainly Germans). I’d made new friends and got invited along, not quite knowing what I’d agreed to. The mountains got steep near the top so we were literally rock climbing. 

Looking outward from the mountain you see all the ocean beyond you, all the yellow, the green and earth, its an incredibly overwhelming display of beauty.

When I got near the top there was a cave. I’m told the cave was discovered by the Dutch when they arrived in the 1600’s. We took out torches and crawled on our stomachs through the black miniature corridors. They get narrower the further you go in. 

After an hour of worming through the tunnels, my shoulders were too wide to fit into the holes ahead of me. There were five of us that made it this far, a Dutch guy, an American and two German girls. I turned back alone as they tried to push deeper into the caves.


Now is when my mind turned against me...


It was so beautiful outside, why are you doing this? Why would anyone do this? You’ve buried yourself alive. You’re an idiot. Didn’t you hear something about Scorpions on the way here? Big shiny black scorpions, fuckers with venom shots loaded in their tail? You’ll be dead, killed, alone in this cave. Why? Why? Why?


My knees got sore and I’d cut my elbow on some sharp rocks. I started to feel a slight panic. It started in my intestines, I thought of them as electric eels, voltage increasing by the minute, opening sparks and then fire trails though the central wires of my nervous system.


Its ok, its ok, I’m fine I’m fine I’m going to get out, yes. Oh’ why? Don’t black stand up comedians joke about stupid situations white people put themselves in? This is one of them right? Suffocating to death in a cave I willingly crawled into? No its fine, Mustafa and Trevor are black… no wait, they didn’t come this far! Fuck! 

When I saw my hope, the streaming light through a tiny crack, my stomach turned on a different kind of electricity – one that heats Jacuzzis.


Yes, yes, yes. Oh’ the light, the relief.. yes.



There were ten other hikers outside. One man was sitting on a rock smiling to himself. I caught his eye as I stumbled towards him. “howzit?” (He’s South African) he waves me over, “sit here and watch the faces as they come out the cave”. I sit with him and after a few minutes one of the German girls appears from the cave, her face installing new colour, her head in the sky, her heavy breath winding down. The man I was next to turns to me and says “That’s exactly what relief looks like”

I then made sense of this cave crawling insanity as a kind of 'appreciation for life' exercise.
 
Last week I took a Grade six class (11-12 year olds) at the Primary School. I asked the class (thirty five boys and girls) to write about their nightmares, I wanted to see how ugly their minds can get. I asked for details, the breathing under the bed, the blood on the walls, the funeral in the rain. 


I noticed after ten minutes there was a boy (let’s call him Nathan) who hadn’t written anything. I approached him and tried to help but he sat there silent. Suddenly he scrunched up the paper on his desk and threw it on the floor, storming out the classroom. I was stunned, unsure if I should leave the rest of the class to go after him. Later I told the Principal about Nathan, I could tell by the pause before she spoke she was about to tell me something heavy.



“Nathan lives in a home” she said “his parents drank themselves to death. You’ve asked a twelve year old to write about a nightmare he is essentially living"


See, I can crawl into some cave and be lost and full of panic, I can think about my intestines as electric eels, I can cut my elbows on rocks and bleed a little but what do I really know about caves and how to survive in them?


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Some Things Are Just Beautiful

Extract from the Travel Journal.

It’s hot, very hot. It’s called South Africa in December. I’m walking down the street, past houses that look like giant shoe boxes. They are painted colours that glow in the sun – cream white, peach yellow, red toffee. I am on my own, imagining how she would look beside me, what she’d wear on a day like this, how we would look to the rest of the world. (Brazilian supermodels maybe? You know, nudist beach material). I would be walking closer to the road, I would sound like royalty as I tell her “the gentleman always walks closer to the road”, she would laugh but I would laugh harder (yes, I’m one of those laugh at your own joke types). She would point out my farmers tan; she would tell me my body has nothing to hide. It is a beautiful body, it belongs in the sun. I would not pretend I’m not thinking about sex, she is not telling me her father has Alzheimer’s and she has a younger brother who is afraid of loneliness. No, we would not talk, would not need to as our mouths open on each other… now I don’t know why I’m thinking this… why I feel so happy right now but feel the happiness enhanced by the imaginary presence of her. Isn’t this freedom? Complete freedom? Walking alone, down the street under an African summer? I could be thinking about swimming with penguins, hiking into caves, diving into the sky but here I am, holding strings and trying to attach them to things that have already disappeared.

Some Things Are Just Beautiful.


 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

No Pictures (Journal Entry on Cape Town Trains)

Everyone has told me the stories about the tourists being robbed on the trains. The robbers and the knives. The robbers are kids or young African men. They are desperate wolves, street savages, city junkies, they eat without forks, just knives and knives. Tendon cutting, wound gushing knives! I should not take my camera. If I had a hunger pain, one so deep it stuck its jagged malnourished fingernails into me and I saw a camera as a cure, a meal or something that picks me up and takes me somewhere with brighter colour and happier settings, what would I do? There’s no telling.

Should I take my Camera? I picture a knife at the warmest vein on my neck. A man, clothes ripped, shredded, he must fight lions, the kings of jungles. No, he is a lion.  I am an antelope, a curious deer, a trained dog on the wild city trains. Should I take my camera?

But Ray, the stories of these robberies, they are not yours. You are not a twenty one year old white woman from Germany, or a white teethed American student with blonde surfer hair and a backpack full of prized goods. You don’t wear black tinted sunglasses that are too big for your face. No Ray, until you open your mouth people think you are from here, South Africa, beautiful South Africa. Take your camera.

Now I picture being asked a question by the man with shredded, ripped clothes. I don’t want to respond but I have to... in some way. I shrug my shoulders, he takes it as a sign of a challenge. He will not be brushed off, shooed away. He is not a fly I can swat, he is a king!  I say something.. something short, in one quick breath but I sound too unsure of myself. He smells a weakness; he sees a worried goat, a wounded bird. The claws in his eyes reach for me, or should I say knife, yeah, his knife, his rusty life-ending knife. My blood is sauce, hot sauce from Europe, it will be on his knife.. I will bleed to death, right there.. on the train... and on my birthday...

I will not take my camera.

Friday, 25 November 2011

South Africa - Lunchtime Prose/ Apartheid / For Miss Able & Township Shots.

Lunchtime prose in the staff room

Looking out the window I see a man sweeping the street. He has made a pile of bright yellow and green leaves, fallen from the trees. Another man, dressed in all black looks like a shadow with clothes on. He is scooping the leaves into a black bin bag. There are two bags already filled and sealed with a knot. The bags are in the shade of an almost naked tree. The tree looks sad having lost the colours that made it happy.

Conversation about Apartheid

I am having a discussion about Apartheid with a (coloured) man in the street. He is in his late fifties and tells me things are worse now.

The black government is more corrupt than the white one. They steal most the money that goes into our economy and apartheid is now reversed by giving all the jobs to the blacks even though in general they aren't as skilled. The black South African’s don’t even want to work.

He points across the road at two men sitting on the pavement. One of them is holding a beer bottle; his body looks thirty years younger than his face. The other man is barefoot; the skin on his feet is flaky and dry. I thought at first he was wearing grey socks.

Look at them!  Lazing around drunk at this time (it’s about 2pm).

I ask the (coloured) man what he thinks those men would say if we asked them why they’re sitting around in the street drunk early in the day? He suggests we go and ask them.

We walk over and ask if they mind being asked a question. Only the man I thought was wearing grey socks responds. He doesn’t look at me, he just shrugs his shoulders.

This is his response.

Where you from? England? … and you want to understand me? Your mind cannot be anything like mine. I am African. No European mind can be like an African. Now I don’t want to talk. Talking English makes me want to get drunk.

For Miss Able (The School Principal) -

To know the weight of your sky is to know the clouds are heavier than they look.

                                In The Township (Unedited Pictures)





Monday, 21 November 2011

Grade 6 (Notebook Version)


Imagine, you're in an African country you've never been in before and you've just walked into your first classroom as a teacher. 
The Principal introduces you to the wild eyes of thirty five children as "a young man from England".

A boy, sitting at the back of the room, eyes like a lion cub throws his voice at you. 

He tells you he supports Man United. You try to find common ground by telling the class you are an Arsenal fan.

The whole class jeers and secretly, you congratulate yourself for turning them against you already.

When the class settles you are pulled aside by the Principal who has this to say...

See that girl sitting with her head on her desk?
Her mother died of Aids when she was born.
She has it too. Some of the children know.
Every day those children ask her why isn’t she bleeding.
They don’t understand how she has Aids and still looks like them.

Matthew, the boy who sits two rows from the back,
he broke two of the seventeen windows
that were smashed here last week.
His mother came to school with a bat that day.

This is a Primary School, Malik is fourteen years old,
repeated the sixth grade three times.
 his father had three wives at the same time before he had a stroke.
Now Malik's in a Home, the boy can’t sit still. 
He feels his whole life in his stomach,
we all have to pretend he isn’t ill.

You’ve got to talk to David. He’s the boy by the window,
he’s from the Congo. You’ll see him climbing trees in the playground.
His mother said he takes all the blankets at home and sleeps on the roof.
His world has its own sky.

The girl with the pink hair band, that’s Kim.
She never does her work, she just wants to draw.
See drew all the mountains on the wall,
She won’t get that far if it’s all she can do.

A cartoon is not a career path.

This week the children have been drawing diagrams of our solar system
Show them, show them how to colour in their planet.


Here is the Spoken Word Version of this piece.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Conversation With A South African Taxi Driver


Traffic Lights? My friend, you are in Africa. They are called Robots. When they turn green, still you cannot trust. No road wants you to get too comfortable. There are drunk drivers and many deaths, mostly pedestrians. Life eh? Cross one road badly and your whole life knocked away. Look out on your left. See how the waves rise out the sea like white horses and crash to the yellow rocks? That says Africa is a woman, only women have that much colour in their fury. You know I'm Muslim, a good Muslim. I do not drink. Many Muslims learn Islam through other idealistic Muslims instead of Islam itself. Like the women who are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, I do not know where that comes from but it's not from Islam. Islam is not strict, it offers many choices. You’re an atheist? Is that the name of your God? OK, we're here. Great to meet you today Ray, take my number. I can come when the morning gets up tomorrow. Call it nine fifteen, Africa time, you might call it 11. OK Ray? See you at nine fifteen.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

South Africa/ NHS/ Autumn Photography

I was packing for my trip to South Africa and decided not to pack any music, just basic clothes, camera and books. I realised a lot of my memories abroad involve me walking around strange places with headphones. I can’t tell you the sound of these places but it definitely isn’t soft rock or indie rap.


South Africa – Where, What & Why?
From November fifth I’ll be living and working in the outskirts of Cape Town in a place called Belthom. I’m going to be assisting teachers in a Primary School, using poetry to help teach English. I’ll also be working at The Woodside Special Care Centre working with orphans and children with disabilities.
One of the best things I’ve done with my life so far has been working with children in special needs camps in Ohio, USA, followed by road tripping across North America on my own. I met many people in different cities and suburbs, I felt how different states are like different countries, I understood how so many great people have come out of a country that represents freedom to its people and imperialism, slavery or Hollywood to the rest of the world.
I’ve been eager to experience something like this again and chose South Africa because of my own curiosities of the culture and political history. I’ve read and heard about the Dutch and British colonization, the Zulu wars, the spice trade, the Boer Wars, Apartheid and Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom. I’ve met many white South Africans in London and listened to their rants about the inequity of blacks against whites and how the political transition from Apartheid processed too hastily. They’ve told me this has created new tensions between “black, white and coloured people”.
In many ways we should all change the way we think about Africa, its history began thousands of years before European invasion yet it seems to be where we all start with our understanding. Myself included. Why is this important you may ask? Well, we all came from Africa so we’d be more in touch with our origins as human beings. The exploitation of Africa has made many European Empires and has now helped make China perhaps the most powerful country in the new century.
On Race
I’m curious to see how people will respond to me in a country with such high (on-going) racial tensions. As someone of mixed heritage (Caribbean/British if you want the box) I feel I represent the togetherness of two very different cultures. The identity crises/confusion that comes with the mixed race experience is something inflicted by a culture that can’t get rid of its colour lines. People all over the world give you different labels (white, black, mixed race, bi-racial, coloured etc) so the confusion of other people is inflicted onto you.
I struggled with this throughout my school years but meeting other mixed race people and discussing the experience with them helped me to make sense of it. I now celebrate the ambiguity of my appearance and I want to invite the whole world to the party!

Conversation With A Doctor

I went to the travel Clinic after the NHS told me I had to book six weeks in advance for free treatment. At the clinic I paid £75 for three injections to keep me protected in Africa (Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever & Polio).

The doctor who gave me the jabs ranted to me about the NHS cuts and the new procedures that are being phased in.

I’ve been a doctor thirty years, so I’m glad I’m coming to the end of my career. It’s terrible now. The new doctors and GPs are being trained to prescribe the lowest costing medicine as opposed to the most effective, it’s a disgrace. You’re my eleventh patient today, you see more people travelling from the UK are getting Malaria and Yellow Fever because the dangers aren’t emphasised enough and people are inconvenienced in getting treated…

Five minutes after he’d injected my upper left arm I passed out in the middle of this conversation. My vision went a fuzzy pale grey then completely black. I came though and I was on the floor with the doctor’s panic stricken face over me. I had no idea what happened. It was like when you skip a scene on a DVD and you know you’ve missed something so you ask someone to fill you in.

Me - Woah. What happened?

Doctor - You passed out buddy; I can feel you’re burning up! I’ll get you water. NURSE!

I found out later that because I have low blood pressure I should always be laying down when receiving injections.

Autumn Photography (Shadow Experiments)

In the UK the season is changing from Autumn into Winter. South Africa is coming into its summer so that's another reason for me to to jet pack. For you people staying put there is beauty in the cold seasons. The first picture below was taken by myself in London Fields on a late monday afternoon and the picture below that was taken on Tottenham Court Road one cold November night.



Farewell London.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Performance at Brizzlemania (On Loneliness)

This is a poem I wrote one night while on tour in Chicago. I was trying to figure out if I was feeling lonely or if I was feeling sorry for myself. After a conversation about this I realised how reluctant I was to allow myself to feel lonely so I just let it be and wrote this.

(Excuse the sound of the waitress walking around the room collecting empty glasses off the tables)


Do not ask me if I'm lonely,

I will not know how to answer.

Mum says I came out her womb,
screaming like I was wounded
until I was put in her arms.

Do not ask me if I'm lonely.

Writers talk about owning their own loneliness,
but I think its just something they say to the walls.

I get mad at time, at times
because it can't give me any more of my childhood.

At times,
all I can taste are the spaces
sore between my broken teeth,

at times,
I see old lovers under falling snow
in yellow summer dresses,
looking like a warm place to escape to.

Grandma says
its amazing what we keep in our brains,
some we want, some we don't want.

This is the darkest place inside me,
I walk in, turn on the night and watch what disappears,
do not ask me if I'm lonely.

I do not know if loneliness is an injury.

I was afraid to learn this poem by heart
because of what it might do to my heart.

I sit with my loneliness and we both agree,
we like each others company,
but only when we know what to do,
with each other.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Breaking Silence by Jacob Sam La Rose & Strange Light by Derrick Brown



This is Jacob Sam La Rose's first full collection believe it or not but it's worth the wait as its published by the leading publisher of poetry, 'Blood Axe'. Jacob is a key figure in the UK poetry world as a performer and writer. I caught up with him for a chat about his thoughts on Slam Poetry and why there is a divide between poetry on the page and poetry on the stage.

Listen Here



This is the forth collection of poetry from US poet Derrick Brown. Derrick Brown is an ex-weatherman, failed magician and paratrooper turned poet. He runs his own publishing house (Write Bloody) and is a key figure in bringing some of the biggest names in performance poetry (such as Buddy Wakefield, Anis Mojgani, Andrea Gibson etc) to the page. I caught up with him in Boardway Market, Hackney for a Boar Burger and a chat about travelling, performing and getting older.

Listen Here

These interviews are episodes from 'The Punch & Gumption Podcast', run by myself and William Stopha.

Subscribe to hear more from UK poets such as Polarbear, Hollie Mcnish, Inua Ellams, US poets such as Emily Rose, Robb Q Telfer and German poets such as Sebastian 23 & Lars Rupple etc.

Here's a video of Derrick at last months Keats House Forum run by myself and Simon Mole.