CTC & Friends Earth Day reading

I was invited to take part in a Crested Tit Collective Earth Day reading of Unnamed Dragonfly Species by Juliana Spahr.

From the video description:

To mark Earth Day, the CTC and friends present a community recording of Unnamed Dragonfly Species by Juliana Spahr. We read as a reminder of two crucial things at this moment in our history: – That more and more of the Earth’s vibrant species are becoming extinct or endangered all the time. – That we humans DO CARE, that we all feel hopeless and helpless at times, but that we are capable of doing more.

In different times I would have gone around the Fens filming different sections of river and perhaps some fields to voiceover. I did try to use an orchid as a prop to reintroduce some of the nature aspect but it was not to be, though I did end up using a candle in the short version (“melting”) after weighing it up against an ice lolly shaped like a watermelon slice. Not pictured: the number of times I stumbled over the phrase “plants in containers” and said “plants icotainers” instead.

It was lovely to be included in the reading, an international one at that, especially in current times where it’s so easy to feel distant from others, and also to mark something so timely.

CTC also held a live poetry reading on the day, which I unfortunately missed but is able to be watched here.

inflection points

My poem inflection points has been published by Permeable Barrier.

it prequelled it ~ tearing red thread
; a void calls at train tracks
the station drawn out as a circle

Written after Noriko’s Dinner Table (紀子の食卓) with a focus on Tokyo Ueno Station, also incorporating my own experiences.

Not featured: on my last day in Tokyo, I walked around every set of coin lockers in the entire station looking for somewhere to store my suitcases for a few hours before I got the overnight bus back to Osaka. They were all full, so I ended up going to a manned luggage drop-off instead. The following day I checked the news for whatever reason and found out that a few hours after I’d left, a body had been found in a large suitcase that had been left in one of the coin lockers. Exactly the size of locker I was seeking out.

The poem is able to read in full here.

Poetry under self-isolation: virtual readings

I’ve been self-isolating since March 17th as that is when I found out that I was classed as high-risk. I was aware of it prior but it hadn’t been official before then, at least as far as I was concerned, and after it was I did a final shop before not setting foot outside for five days straight out of concern for my wellbeing. By the end I felt like I was going a bit mad, leading me to realise that it was important to find a balance, and that balance involved taking walks down side streets – which would sound ominous if they weren’t so painfully quaint. Though there is also much to be done indoors, and while it may be more difficult to poet (v.) in these times, poeting has continued and adapted nonetheless, and wonderfully so.

I recently contributed to the International Poetry Circle, started on Twitter by Tana Skurtu, in which I read a poem from Mouth: Eats Color by Sawako Nakayasu and Chika Sagawa, as well as my own dogwalkslowly from the streetcake experimental writing anthology. Featuring subtitles/CC, a builder’s laugh, and an unmade bed (apologies, it’s comfier that way):

The collective of works is really wonderful, with readers sharing both their own writing and the writing of others. I actually found it quite refreshing to read someone else’s work aloud. You can find a lot more readings under the hashtag on Twitter.

I also experienced my first virtual poetry reading as part of Stay At Home Fest, reading for streetcake magazine. My observations of virtual readings, at least via Zoom, are as follows:

  1. Normally during a reading you only feel like people are looking at you when you’re reading, because people are looking at you when you’re reading, as you would presumably hope. But in Zoom, even when you’re not reading you’re in a small box above the person who is, and as such may feel like you have to be more of a person than you would usually in these settings.
  2. While you’re reading, everyone else’s mics are muted. This means that if you’re like me and tend to talk around your poems a bit and make moderately terrible jokes, rather than polite to sincere laughter you will be met with silence. Unless you happen to catch a glimpse of a fellow reader smiling from their tiny video feed, you will have no idea whether it went down well or if people are hoping that your WiFi connection fails. The first time I realised this I did take a moment to process that silence was not (necessarily) disapproving, and I was able to carry on as I normally would, but it is something that might be helpful to know ahead of time.
  3. Before readings started, there was this guy who came in twice to shout things. It was a very uninteresting performance.

But overall I genuinely enjoyed reading and being present for the readings of others, even though I did feel a little impolite sipping my cup of tea in my tiny segment of the screen.

I’ve got two more performances scheduled in May, but at the moment it’s uncertain as to whether they’ll be able to be carried out in person or not. One of them definitely has a virtual option, and honestly I’d be more than happy to do many more online readings.

I actually feel a lot more connected to the poetry community since the pandemic than I did prior. It feels a lot more inclusive at the moment. I really hope this feeling will be maintained even after we’re able to interact in person again.

forthcoming 2021: Broken Sleep Books Immigration Anthology

I received an email that three of my poems will be featured in the Broken Sleep Books Immigration Anthology, to be published in January 2021.

“The poetry anthology will feature poetry by immigrant poets, poets born to immigrants, grandchildren of immigrants, or people living in a country that is not their own. BSB editor Aaron Kent’s grandad was a war refugee from Hungary and the greatest man he’s ever known. We want to do our bit to help immigrant voices be heard, especially under a government that champions xenophobia.”
(pieced together from several Twitter statuses)

I sent a messsage beforehand asking if I was eligible to submit as the granddaughter of a prisoner of war. Aaron (I presume) replied confirming that I was able to submit and told me a bit more about his intentions with the anthology – though I’ll leave it to him to share as and when, but I really look forward to seeing how it turns out.

My grandfather was Romanian and came to England as a PoW following the Second World War. I honestly don’t know that much about his life when he was younger, particularly before and during the war, and what he did tell he would sometimes change after the telling. There’s a lot to say of him and also not nearly enough. I’ve always found national identity to be complicated and I think he felt the same.

The poems of mine which have been accepted, historical inaccuracy and veer, discuss place and location, while We do not discuss the origin of foxes is about language or lack thereof.

The anthology isn’t out for a while but I’m really interested to see the final product.



two poems: fallout and coalescence

Two of my poems have been published in Issue 5 of Homology Lit.

From fallout

[…]   the acrobatics of feathers
dangling soft into eyelashes, masks are a
kind of rorschach test for unwearers.
how foolish   […]

From coalescence

the wellbeing of childhood insects
as though they didn’t pull the legs off you
& how does it feel to disrecall
waitlisted for internality

The poems are available to read in full here.