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Weekend Showcase : Anna Angell (Poet, Singer-Songwriter)

15 Aug


Every Friday, 1 creative, letting their work speak for itself.


Anna Angell







Anna started off life in the beautiful Peak District and now resides in beautiful North Wales – jammy.  She qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, then working mainly in Chester and Ellesmere Port.  She now spends most of her time laughing, crying and getting loco with her two delightful pre-school children.   She wrote a lot of poetry as a child but has only recently got back into it, thanks to the consistent nagging of her persistent husband.  This has also extended into song-writing with her beloved ukulele.  She tries to write honestly about the normal stuff in her life and is convinced that the things of the everyday are the porthole to eternity.  She hopes that by making the most of the short chances for creativity in between nappy changes and swimming lessons she can encourage other busy people to try this as well – and reap the benefits to mind body and soul.


Twitter             @a_a_angell

…………………….debut EP ‘Love’s Life’





*If you would like to have a ‘Weekend Showcase’ or take part in one of our collaborations do get in touch via the contact form on the What’s On page, or via the comments section. You would be welcome.

Weekend Showcase: Lucy Quin (Poet)

16 Aug


Every Friday, 1 artist/painter/poet/writer, letting their work speak for itself.


Lucy Quin





Once upon a time
I was struck by lightning,
all of my veins were pulled
one by one through my skin
and out of my body
through the base of my skull.
They were used for jump ropes
to occupy those who could not stand
to watch the human body be dismantled
without the proper occasional distraction.
My teeth formed an orchestra,
chattering in beat to some minor chord.
My hands became fish
and swam soundlessly off of my wrists.
Not to be outdone,
my feet ran away from my body,
chasing after my fish hands.
They raced off into another dimension.
It was impossible to see who won,
just then my eyes rolled down
the silhouette of my body
like a gumball in one of those machines
where they spiral for a few moments
before reaching the bottom.
I went to scream but
my lips were on fire
and my tongue thrashed helplessly about
trying to put out the flames.
And that’s when I began to fall apart.
Every single part of my body
abandoned me.
My brain fashioned a shank
out of my skull and cut itself to freedom.
My temporal lobe stuck its tongue out
as they abandoned ship.
Only my heart stuck around,
beating louder and louder
to remind me it’s the only thing
to ever have complete faith in.


You can find more of Lucy’s work here:

or follow Lucy on Twitter here:

Weekend Showcase: Lauren Coulson (Poet/Performance Poet)

9 Aug


Every Friday, 1 artist/painter/poet/writer, letting their work speak for itself.


Lauren Coulson


This week we are choosing to put out two pieces of  our featured writer’s work, as opposed to the usual one. We do this when the creative feels that they have differing styles within their one creative intent.  As Lauren says:

 ‘My work is clearly segregated into “for page” and “for stage”. My work for page tends to be device heavy and inspired by pastoral poets whereas stage work focuses of the musicality of language.’

Part 1

Rainy Sunday

by Lauren Coulson

She pads, silent, through the Sunday,
in the space where she carved out a home.
Wraps awkward limbs around herself;
dressed in a faded shirt and wonkily stitched slippers.
Notes that: out in the cold that bites at ear lobes,
squirrels scurry with their secrets, as they so often do.
The kettle rouses. It paints mist onto windowpanes,
as she drags idle fingers into clumsy pictures.

Educate This!

by Lauren Coulson



When I was fourteen
one of the many teachers –
who still didn’t know my name
after five years of compulsory schooling
(that chipped away at any free thinking) –
asked me what I wanted to do when I finished.

I said I wanted to be a tattooist.
Revelled in the idea of painting
a part of myself onto other people’s skin;
creating the illusion of permanence
in a world of constant flux.

He said that wasn’t a good career move.
Why don’t you try and think of a back -up plan?
You seem creative,
why don’t you go to Art College?

So I enrolled at Art College.
When one of the many tutors-
who I argued with on a daily basis
over what it really means to be experimental-
asked me what I wanted to do when I left

I said I wanted to be an artist.
Wanted to live day to day,
unpicking my brain.
Stitching my story onto canvas
and sending it half way across the world
to be understood by strangers.

She said there’s no money in it.
What about going into advertising
or at least buffer and carry on studying?

So now I’m a graduate of a subject
that pumps through my veins
yet will never equate to security.
And when the inevitable question is asked of me
I shrug.

Mutter something about
the freezing economic climate,
say how unlikely it is to be able to live off poetry,
say maybe I’ll write a book,
say maybe I’ll paint a bit,
say maybe I’ll get a full time job for a company I hate,
rent a white clone shoebox apartment
and just forget any trace of myself.

But maybe I’ll go into teaching.
So that when a pair of mascara-laden,
fourteen year old eyes look up at me asking,
I will tell them
not to let anybody get in their way.


Poet’s Biography:


Lauren Coulson was awarded a first class degree in Creative Writing in 2013 and her poetry has won several competitions. She regularly explores themes such as nature and its interplay with our personal lives, as well as anecdotal and reflective performance poetry. At present she is working on non-fiction essays and articles, as well as merging her spoken word to music.


Across the Proscenium Arch

28 Jan

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Got It Wrong

‘I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be human’ (Oscar Wilde).

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a hand on heart theatre fan. Wholeheartedly. It’s what I write, how I connect with the world; a play is my chosen form but to call it ‘the greatest of all art forms’, ‘the most immediate way in which a human being can share’, I’m not so sure…

I will never forget being in the audience of the first professional performance of ‘Topology of Tears’, a play I wrote in 2002 on the theme of fathers and daughters (something I was dealing with a lot at the time). I can remember what it felt like when I saw my characters embodied and magicked into life by the actors chosen to portray my characters. It’s forever etched in my mind and heart. The feeling of seeing my words transformed through breath, tongue and movement into a full blown person/character was extraordinary. I stood bedazzled in awe of how theatre and the directed, rehearsed performance of that work could transmogrify something that had been previously static on the page; to all intents and purposes ‘dead in my head’. The wonder I felt is the same sort of wonder an audience feels when they watch a play for themselves and see all the performance elements coalesce.

Proscenium ArchIndeed, theatre has a very specific power. Across the proscenium arch, reaching out to you in real time, to you sitting in your seat, is not only the hand of the actor, but also the intention of the playwright and the interpretation of the director. It’s not just one person’s mind your engaging with; not just one person’s intention but a a fine structure of individual, lithe intents. A whole ball of signifiers for you to interpret. With theatre you have to be up to the challenge, to pay attention. There’s work to be done. You can’t skim a line or turn a page. Words created by a playwright are mystically communicated, physicalised and interpreted immediately in real-time right before your eyes. Physicalised, unlike no other form other than maybe sculpture. In order to accept what we see, the artifice, we have to suspend our disbelief, become alienated from the reality of our surroundings and immerse ourselves in that moment of performance, of all those intents. And if we don’t pay attention it’s gone. In real time. There’s no going back.

So up until this point Oscar and I agree. There’s nothing like theatre for living, breathing, audible, moving immediate communication. Nothing. But where we part ways is in his belief that it’s ‘the most immediate way a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be human’. I think Oscar’s wrong here. Totally. Other forms do that too in an equally challenging manner. It’s just a different working through of the same sensibility. Theatre just happens to re-enact it for you. That’s the difference. I happen to love that enactment. It’s a personal taste matter; what ‘floats your boat’. Shared, communicated humanity exists in all forms. No better. No worse.

But it is the enactment that draws me back each time to drama. Somebody breathing words and interpreting what you’ve created; doing so mystically under the glow of the spotlight, from down-stage-upped.

SpotlightSo why haven’t I been to the theatre for years? Literally years when writing plays, rehearsing and directing plays was what I did best in the world, what I absolutely loved the most and how I communicated what it was like for me to be a human being. My ‘share with another’. Why did I stop going? Is it the fact that it costs so much to go? (Maybe) Is it because I’m denying myself something I love deliberately? (I actually think not..but..) or is it because I can’t be bothered? (..too much to do..excuse, excuse, excuse.)

In real terms there is actually no excuse because it would thrill me to go, because it always reminds me of why I started writing plays in the first place, and it might well seed the idea whereby I ‘share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being’ again. I could write a play right now. (Maybe) There’s really no defence if it matters. It all can be scheduled in, if I want to tap right back into what matters to me; my unique individual expressive way.

A play is different from novel writing or poetry because the form becomes physically alive before you. It moves out into the light and doesn’t just move from page to mind to imagination. It’s there, POW, right before your eyes. Amazing performances. Crap performances. But a huge, great big living beast of a creation before your eyes. And theatre’s potency is also that it is a shared experience; an individual connection shared. It’s not like the cinema where you sit, isolated, munching; engaged, but actually passive never-the-less. Only really ever viewing because nothing is alive before you, a beautiful piece of pixelated artifice. Not ALIVE.

Bird in FlightJohn Lahr, the New Yorker theatre critic says ‘Plays are metaphors and metaphors are meant to be interpreted’. He says ‘the actors and playwrights don’t necessarily know what they’ve made’ and it’s the audience that is the missing link within the interpretive process. This speaks to Oscar’s call to ‘share’. It’s the audience’s engagement with what they see before them and the event itself, that makes the connection, that creates a space for interpretation. It was only when I sat as a member of the audience watching my work embodied before me that I actually realised what I’d made. That it worked; that it was a part of humanity, a humane structure. Is that what a performance poet feels when they orate their own work? I don’t know? In that moment, shared, I could see the whole thing, fleshed out, the depth and the surface. A shared, human experience.

And as I review what I’ve written I feel a little writerly fluttering within me; a subtle writerly wing-beat that wants to be released, that wants to breathe life into characters again and heart into substance- the plot. Maybe today I’ll cross the Proscenium Arch sit in front of my computer and words will form and a play might begin to shape itself out.

The stage is a magic circle where only the most real things happen, a neutral territory outside the jurisdiction of Fate where stars may be crossed with impunity. A truer and more real place does not exist in all the universe.”
P.S. Baber, Cassie Draws the Universe

If You only had 3 More Days To See

7 Jan

How would you use your senses?

‘Use your eyes as if you were stricken blind. Hear the song of a bird, as if you were stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail…Make the most of every sense..’ (Helen Keller, Three Days To See)

In this post I am going to take you through an exploration touching on the senses, music and poetry, and their relationship one to the other. I’m going to delve into the tumultuous world of Beethoven and his contentious feelings about poetry, art, music and silence;  explore how the poet Matthea Harvey used her poetry to complement and innovate a piece of Beethoven’s music;  immerse you in the world of the senses through Helen Keller; and finally let you rest in the ‘resonating chamber’ of percussionist Evelyn Glennie‘s feelings about ‘the art of listening’. And to do so in the hope that  this  combination of differing forms can create a new form; or at least have changed our perceptions on the relationship of the differing art disciplines, one to the other. That’s my hope.

It is the function of creative men to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different and be able to combine them into some new form’ William Plomer (B. Britten’s War Requiem Notes, p4).

Whilst researching into Beethoven for this blog I stumbled upon a very odd letter from Beethoven to Wilhelm Gerhard (1780-1858), a dramaturg based In Lepzig in 1817.  The letter raises all sorts of debates around the nature and quality of the art-forms in relation to the senses. In the letter  Beethoven turns down a request by Gerhard to put his poetry/songs to music by firstly saying that his poems did not ‘lend themselves’ to music,  and secondly and curiously,  that ‘Pictorial descriptions belong to painting’ [so by implication not to music or poetry which seems an extremely odd statement to make and to be quite frank to my mind doesn’t quite make sense. For do not not poems also create pictures? But this is a debate for another blog, I feel (it’s too big a minefield).]

Beethoven goes on to say that although poetry’s ‘kingdom’ is less ‘limited’ than Beethoven’s musical world  poetry ‘ cannot reach to the other regions’  that music can.  It is harder for a composer, Beethoven seems to intimate, to find that ‘kingdom’ of sound, but when a composer does they find places and spaces that other forms and artists cannot reach.   Highly contentious, but particularly potent when you think Beethoven was going deaf.

You can find the full letter here:

Music,Art,PoetryHowever, if you take away the contentious element to Beethoven’s statement  his emphasis on the difference between music, poetry and art is interesting, and it’s a view with which I heartily disagree. Yes, painting, music poetry are different in form and texture but they all can coalesce. We don’t have to isolate them off, one from the other. They can inform each other. But maybe what Beethoven was getting at is that each form taps into our emotions and senses slightly differently. With pictures and words, there’s always a filter- we have to interpret and sift and analyse and create stories; read between the lines and brush-strokes and dabs. With music  the impact is immediate – it vibrates and goes straight to your core. It’s a body thing. There’s nothing much you can do about it.

The fact that Beethoven created a good deal of his work from within a world of silence is probably a great reason as to why he responds to the ‘noisiness’ of the forms the way he does. For him silence speaks; for him, perhaps,  silence  created a space where sound could exist freely, in movement and tone in his imagination and manifested through composition.  Silence and sound. One can reach out to the other. As Sri Chinmoy, a mystic states, ‘ Silence is the nest, and music is the bird’.  We need space and emptiness in which to create real beauty.

Maybe if we lose one of our senses creating other connections become  much more important and maybe easier. Beethoven didn’t take what he couldn’t hear for granted; he created something powerful from it. He seized it and connected. Maybe, we have to open ourselves up into the spaces that each form creates for us and that movement is totally individual to us.

As part of an ongoing Poetry Radio Project a a multi-form concert was given  in collaboration with American Public Media and the Poetry Foundation.  Poet Matthea Harvey chose a sequence of her poems to read in between the movements of Beethoven’s Quartet No 16. Matthea’s  poems were not directly written for the piece but in preparation for the concert she began a process of listening to the music again and again, and as she listened to the music more and more, certain poems from her oeuvre sprang to her mind. The two forms seemed to parallel and then fuse.

You can listen here and judge whether it was successful or not:

As the quartet moves from movement to movement if  you listen quietly and listen hard you can feel the words and the music connecting. The spaces between both the notes and the poems give you room to make different connections for yourself, to use your imagination to create your meaning, your interpretation and your world. This is what the juxtaposition does.

Putting the two forms together almost create a third form which goes beyond both forms- which is totally yours because it is you that is creating the connections; making the sounds and words yours. Undirected. It’s personal freedom in its best sense. 

Helen Keller, both deaf and blind, renowned political activist and author famous for her essay Three Days To See  intimates in her piece that  it is crucial we live to our full potential, push edges, use all our senses as if there  is no other option, no other way. A sensory version of  ‘carpe punctum’: seize the moment.

‘those who have eyes apparently see little. The panorama of colour and action which fills the world is taken for granted’.

Keller and Beethoven have one up on us. They have had to draw on their other senses in order to create. They have had to live by their senses and for their senses. We tend to need stimuli to do so, artistic or otherwise. A stretch of a note that takes us into the past, or connects us to an image; or a a piece of verse that uses language in such away as to open our eyes to a state or idea.  As adults we don’t tend to think in a panoramic way. We worry about what is in front of us or beyond us, and really looking or really listening, is secondary to us just getting by or managing or stretching towards something that’s out there before it is too late. Art, music and poetry are panoramic. They connect us in the now. We shouldn’t ever take that for granted.

Evelyn Glennie, the well known deaf percussionist calls human beings ‘resonating chambers’. She believes we don’t ‘truly listen’. In an amazing TED speech  she gave entitled ‘How to Truly Listen‘ she makes a distinction between ‘translation’ and ‘interpretation’:  between just taking things in, perceiving them and stopping there {translation} and REALLY taking things in, feeling them with our whole bodies and selves, exploring them creatively by every sense possible like a child {interpretation}.

As adults we’re too fast to take information in and process it without really entering the experience. She says we all have our own ‘sound colours’ (the thought of which I love). What we hear and how we interpret it is affected by our own experience, physical factors in the room, whether we are concentrating or not. ‘Sound’, she says, ‘is not dependent on the ear’. Just like Beethoven was intimating earlier in his letter above. Sound has to exist in a chamber of silence so that it can be filled with our interpretation.

If you think of human beings as ‘sound colours’ and ‘resonating chambers’, and as people who make connections with their bodies as well as their minds, the world can suddenly open up to you and become multi-faceted and vibrant.  It’s a bit like I was suggesting in my ‘playfulness’ blog: we  have to open up and expose ourselves. As Glennie says ‘If we can’t allow ourselves to try and interpret things differently how can we create differently?’. We have, she says to ‘listen to each other’.

And within the context of music, particularly classical music we have to let the meaning seep inside us and fill our ‘resonating chamber’. It’s important to let it rest inside and fill us. We can’t really do otherwise, it often gets to our hearts too quickly; and, indeed, our senses. Music combined with other forms works as Matthea Harvey has shown; nuance can be created and meanings that go beyond each form. But we have to be willing to let the sound, word and feeling into ours being. We have to feel creativity/artistic endeavour with all our senses otherwise we can miss out on what is really there. We can miss out on the silence and the space where we exist, where our interpretation exists, and miss out on the chance of a meaningful journey and connection towards what we are listening to or reading, or feeling. We miss out on what our personal interpretation can bring us ‘a new form’, that is ours alone. My experience and not yours. Your ‘utterly different’ sensory experience.


As always, thank you for your interest and feedback is welcome.

All the very best.




  • ‘Flash Fortnightly’ is back on Wednesday 9th January with Laura Besley, your first helping of great flash fiction for the new year
  • ‘Frenzy’s Flash Feature’, your photo-poetry combination with Greg Mackie will return next Thursday 17th January
  • Artist, Chad Swanson will be guest blogger for us on Monday 14th January
  • ‘Classic Friday’ will be back on Friday 18th January with Nisha Moodley, our classic fiction and author feature
  • And from the Monday 21st Lili Morgan will be our Artist-In-Residence for a month. See ‘Visitor Peep’.
  • Metamorphoses Book 1 Post for our Poetry Project will go out on Monday the 21st January too…See our Transformations Page’ for details. And do let me know if you’d like to join.
  • I’m also hoping to have the Arts Pages sorted by the end of the month with a variety of new features…Bear with me….


Should you want some more poetry here’s some more Matthea Harvey for you :

One of her poems, ‘Implications of Modern Life’: ‘The ham flowers have veins and are rimmed in rind, each petal a little meat sunset.’

Matthea on the nature of language.

Page v Stage- Performance Poetry in Sheffield

17 Dec

Me, reading sonnets and villanelles at a Word Life event in Sheffield, February 2012. I did not obtain permission from other people to use their likenesses for this post, so I’ve had to submit my own! [Photo copyright © 2012 Sara Hill]

Hello readers of ArtiPeeps! My name is Kate, and welcome to my guest post for December. I am a poet. I’ve also performed on stage as a singer and an actress in the past. So I’ve always been a poet, and I’ve always been a performer, but I haven’t always been a performance poet; that is, I have not always been a poet who reads work out loud in front of an audience, with attention focused on vocal inflection and how the words will get across to the audience. That all changed in the last 18 months or so, thanks to some encouraging established artists and my location – Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

My first public poetry reading was part of a community event at a local secondary school, and I was terrified. Reading in front of the Lord Mayor, local MPs, and not least of all everyone I knew within my local community, was daunting. But I was hooked. Following that experience, I participated in the first Nuneaton Summer Poetry Day in July 2011. After getting to know more poets in the Midlands, I wondered if there was anything going on in my local area for hearing and sharing work. That’s when I discovered Word Life, a local literary organisation founded in 2006. My first Sheffield open mic performance was at one of their regular open mic nights. From there I discovered that Sheffield has no less than six regular spoken word nights, and that nearby towns Chesterfield and Rotherham put on poetry nights as well. This went beyond what I’d  expected when I started looking for like-minded folks in my own city. Who knew it was so popular?

Sheffield Speak Easy

I’ve attended events that were sold out and standing room only, some featuring headlining poets all the way from the USA, or from other parts of the UK. Currently I’m part of the Speak Easy team, helping to organise monthly open mic nights at the Sheffield Hallam University student union. Speak Easy was established by Hallam lecturer John Turner following the demise of an older open mic organisation, Words Aloud, in 2009. It’s seen a lot of new faces over the years, and had a lot of helpers, but Speak Easy remains one of the most welcoming ways to get involved in the spoken word scene. This is especially useful for those who are a bit frightened of the bigger open mic nights, or various competitive poetry slam events. Everyone needs to start somewhere!

Whilst I’m on a related topic, I can’t ignore that performance (stage) poetry is often dragged  into debates, pitting it against printed (page) poetry. Not everyone does it, but it happens. In my honest opinion this is self-defeating from either side of the debate. The argument usually runs something like this: poetry isn’t real poetry without strong emotion; or poetry isn’t poetry without formal technique; or page poetry that doesn’t carry over well to the stage (or vice versa) and isn’t as good as poetry written for performance (or vice versa).

Poetry Books

It’s a bit extreme, really, and I always wonder, are people arguing for the sake of it? Or are some simply out to protect their own ego by saying they’re right and others aren’t? Some individuals are going to be moved by certain things, and other people aren’t going to care about the exact same things. Art is subjective. I don’t argue on this topic because I enjoy page and stage equally. Page poetry is my solitary comfort blanket. I sometimes curl up with stacks of poetry books and let the emotions and images fall over me like rain, savouring the sounds of words rolling around in my head. Stage poetry is an electric, social adventure. There’s a crowd, and the words are formed out loud in varying accents and unique voices, and there is opportunity for instantaneous discussion. As a poet myself, I feel satisfied when the words are down on paper, and energised when I’ve read them out to an audience. But in my view neither stage nor page is categorically “better” than the other. It really is that simple.

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Before I outstay my welcome here at ArtiPeeps, I will leave you with a few sites of Sheffield literary loveliness below. But it doesn’t stop there: if you’re interested, search on Facebook for Slam Bam Thank You Ma’am, The Shipping Forecast, Spire Writes, and ROMP. Come to Sheffield – whatever you’re looking for, we’re a poetry city. And keep an eye out in your own town or city, you never know what’s going on locally in the way of interesting wordage!

See the links below:

 21 Poets for Sheffield (This was a digital poetry slam put on by Word Life in October- November 2012 for the Off the Shelf Festival of Reading and Writing):

Gorilla Events



  • Your 4th helping of ‘Flash Fortnightly’ with LAURA BESLEY …on Wednesday 19th December ….a pre Christmas dose of Flash Fiction
  • Watch out this Friday 21stfor our Festive Xmas Blog featuring 3 poets: TIFFANY COFFMAN, NAT COLE & JOHN MANSELL and 3 artists: AMANDA BECK MAUCK, JAMES MACKENZIE & HUGO SMITH
  • ArtiPeeps is so pleased to say that the Visitor Peep Page has now been borrowed by LILI MORGAN who’ll be featuring her new work there from mid January 2013.
  • The details of our first large Collaborative Poetry Project ‘TRANSFORMATIONS’ were posted last Wednesday. You can find them here. Please do get in touch if you’d like to get involved.
  • There will also be a special ArtiPeeps blog on Thursday 20thoutlining the opportunities and plans for the ArtiPeeps year ahead.  

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