Category Archives: Creative Practice

Reflections on Publishing Homing

Last night I had the pleasure of performing at Vineyard Arts, which is a lovely biweekly arts group taking place in a church space in Partick. That evening—a very rainy one, even for Glasgow—the attendance was fairly low, and the folks who showed up were mostly fellow spoken word artists. I realised that most of the pieces in the spoken word set I’d prepared would be familiar to most of the folks in the room, so I decided to scrap it and instead read from my collection, Homing. It was a surprisingly lovely experience: I almost never read publicly from Homing, since most of the time I’m booked as a spoken word artist and expected to perform off-book.

Th experience of sharing poems from the book reminded me of the experience of putting Homing together last spring—it’s hard to believe it’s been out for nearly a year! The whole process, from the initial idea to drafting to printing to selling the books, was such a whirlwind journey in which I learned a huge deal about the process of funding, compiling, publishing, and marketing a poetry collection. So, here I reflect on that process and on some of the realisations it gave me about my own work and creative practice.

Cover photography & design: Perry Jonsson Art.

Cover photography & design: Perry Jonsson Art.

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Guest Post: Freddie Alexander on Crowdfunding

Hello all! This week I’m delighted to feature a guest piece by my dear friend Freddie Alexander on this site. I met Freddie the first time I moved to Edinburgh, in 2012, and was blown away by his tight writing and his energetic, intense performance style. Freddie currently organises the monthly Edinburgh Open Mic Inky Fingers, and has previously been an organiser for the University of Edinburgh’s Soapbox and the 2014 National University Poetry Slam. He has been a live performer at several nights in Edinburgh, and will be featured in the Loud Poets 2016 Prague Fringe Festival tour.

Photo credit: Perry Jonsson

Photo credit: Perry Jonsson

Previously on this site I’ve shared my own experiences with crowdfunding and offered some tips for artists who are considering crowdfunding projects. However, I’ve never posted on the controversy that surrounds crowdfunding in the arts—and boy is it a big one. The concept of asking for money for art (or to support an art-making life) has ignited massive debates particularly in the past five or ten years. The publication of texts like Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking (which I highly recommend) advocating crowdfunding, and the production of massive-scale projects such as Zach Braff’s film “Wish I Was Here” have brought attention to the use of this tool by major artists. In his post below, Freddie teases out some of the controversies associated with crowdfunding, offering a balanced consideration of crowdfunding’s potential benefits and pitfalls. This can be a tricky subject to navigate, and I admire the thought and attention Freddie brings to it. Hope you enjoy! – K  Continue reading

Writing Collaborative Performance Poems

One of my hopes for the new year was to try out new ways of writing and performing, and the start of 2016 has happily involved just that: I’ve been composing and performing lots of collaborative poems! Before this year I’d never written collaboratively before. Writing poetry had always been an intensely solitary event for me, involving plenty of quiet and months over which to edit, but never other people, at least not until I had a draft I was happy enough with to show friends. Writing team poems doesn’t allow for that kind of solitary reflection or leisurely time frame: it means composing, editing, and rehearsing in real time with a group of other poets who may have radically different composition techniques from your own. For me it’s been a rewarding challenge and has yielded some of the most exciting work I’ve done in a while. Here I discuss some of the unique challenges and joys of collaborative writing I’ve discovered, as well as some tips I’ve found for working well in a group and creating innovative work.

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Crowdfunding: Tips & Tricks

Hi everyone! Last spring I ran a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the publication of my first poetry collection and the production of my first poetry video. It was successful beyond my expectations, and now both the collection and the video have been finished and released (you can purchase Homing here and view “Polos” here). The production of both of these projects would not have been possible without the start-up capital I raised through Kickstarter, so I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who supported my campaign and made this work possible. Although the funding period is closed, my campaign page is still up if you’d like to check it out, here.

I was lucky enough to do my Kickstarter campaign right after fellow Loud Poet Kevin Mclean had successfully run his. Yesterday he and I discussed our campaigns for the Loud Poets vlog series on our new YouTube channel. That video contains some of the tips and tricks I list here; I’m publishing this post to have a handy written guide and to add a couple tips not included in the video. Here’s the video if you’d not seen it yet:

Check out more suggestions after the jump!

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Dance & Spoken Word: Making Polos

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to announce that today we’re publicly releasing the new video for my poem “Polos”! The poem is linked at the bottom of this post, but rather than just posting the video up here I thought I’d also share the creative process that went into conceiving and producing this work. It’s the product of a lot of experimentation, inter-medium translation, and collaboration. For the story and the video, read more after the jump!

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Mid-Fringe: Brief Reflections

Hi folks! We’re halfway through the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and I’m writing with some brief reflections.

This month I’ve been working with the spoken word collective Loud Poets on our Fringe show at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It’s a dynamic slam poetry show with a live band improvising onstage, with ten poets swapping out each night so we always present the audience with a different show.  Continue reading

Guest Post: What is a “Proper Poet”?

Ed note: This week we’re featuring a guest post from writer Derek White. Derek’s post considers something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: how do we determine whether a poet is a “proper poet” or “professional poet”? What differentiates those “formal” poets from the “amateurs”: money, talent, publications, experience, how they market themselves? Derek’s post explores these questions through personal experience and reference to American literature. Enjoy! Continue reading

Touring with Loud Poets: Reflections

This site has been rather quiet for the past couple weeks, but for a good reason: I’ve been touring with the Loud Poets in London and at the Brighton Fringe Festival! They had me along as a guest poet on their show, a techie, flyerer, and social media manager, among other roles everyone played as part of a small touring artistic collective. I couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated, talented, and fun group of folks to tour with: the Loud Poets are wonderful people as well as brilliant artists. The tour was thrilling and highly successful, with crowds highly engaged and audiences swelling as buzz spread about Loud Poets throughout the tour. Continue reading

Guest Post: Online Poetry Communities

This week we have a guest post from poet Georgia Bartlett-McNeil. Georgia is an Edinburgh-based poet who maintains a strong online presence for her creative writing through Tumblr (her blog, A Poet’s World, is here). In this post she shares her experience of gaining confidence to share her writing publicly with the support of her online community, as well as how developing an online platform for her writing has been a fundamental part of her creative practice. Enjoy!  Continue reading

Trigger Warnings for Poems?

Ed. note: This post has sparked discussion on Facebook and Twitter since being published, with feedback from a wide range of perspectives and opinions (some Facebook comments here, Twitter Storify here, some comments on the blog below). I’m delighted that a public conversation is occurring on the importance of trigger warnings, since for some they are essential components to live arts events. As I stated in my post, this is a discussion I think poets and promoters need to be having to ensure that poetry events are safe spaces for both performers and audience members, without censoring the poets’ freedom of expression. My original post is below, unaltered. Let’s keep the discussion going; please comment if you disagree/agree/want to talk. As this space is intended to be a forum for discussion, I’m also happy to have folks write guest posts sharing their thoughts on this issue. Thanks to all who’ve shared their perspectives!

 

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of hosting the April Edinburgh University Literature Society Slam, which was won by the fantastic poet Doug Garry of Loud Poets. Before the scores were announced, I was asked to perform a poem in my role as host and chose to perform a new piece. The poem, entitled “Brightest,” chronicles my relationship with a dear childhood friend, my desire to support her through seriously bad times, and my guilt at moving away and feeling distant from her. It contains mentions of mental illness, sexual assault, and suicide attempts. After the slam, I received positive feedback on the poem from poets and audience members indicating that they had felt moved by it  and thanking me for sharing it. However, one young woman approached me and said that the poem had seriously affected her friend who had accompanied her to the slam, bringing back memories of that woman’s friend who had committed suicide, and that she was now crying in the bathroom. She praised the poem and thanked me for sharing it, but I was concerned about her friend and felt awful that something I had written had caused her pain by triggering bad memories. Continue reading