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WRITELondon Reviewed in The Londonist! September 3, 2008

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Lovely Lindsey Clarke on The Londonist has written a great piece on WRITELondon, my new workshop series. Loads of hits on the WRITELondon blogsite, so am very pleased…

Check out the article here!

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A New Era for Jascribble September 3, 2008

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Hey all,

You might have noticed a certain….stagnancy on this site since last year. What happened was, much of life exploded, and little writing was done on this blog, but this means that everything is now a little more under control, with some expansion to report!

 

Jascribble in BigTown will remain as a blog, but specifically explore issues around race, class, gender and politics that come up through events, discussions, news items and contemporary cultural phenomena. Jascribble will also feature pages that work like the bulletins I send out to my mailing list, documenting teaching work, gigs, and other creative projects.

 

There is also now a separate blog for my new workshop range, WRITELondon, at www.writelondon.wordpress.com, feel free to check it out!

 

Stay tuned for a new and improved, sharper Jascribble!

 

Jasmine Ann Cooray

Jascribble’s Autumnal Flourish November 2, 2007

Posted by jasmingle in Poetry, Literature, and Performance.
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Well! A lot has been going on. I’m changing the format of this blog to a monthly catchup and then add anything interesting inbetween on a weekly basis. Think of this as the November Edition of the Jascribble Journey. So what’s going on?

WRITING

FLIGHT, the mentorship that I am on, run by Spread The Word (www.spreadtheword.com) is halfway through it’s course. My mentor, Saradha Soobrayen, and I, have met a few times and had an online session to review my progress in poetry and to approach the ironing out of a variety of creases. Later on in November, all of FLIGHT’s mentees will be spending a week at Arvon, a writers’ retreat in Devon. It will be a great opportunity to really concentrate on my (and our) writing without the extraneous distractions that are continually thrown at us by the tedium of every day life. How I managed to wangle that week off work without a major hissyfit from management I don’t know, except that arse kissing was required, and arse kissing I did. Spread the Word have also been running a series of events and workshops concerning writing and literature, some of which featured FLIGHT mentees reading their creative work. The ten young writers (bracket-18-24) involved are working towards separate goals but with the common eventuality of publication in an anthology in which we all get A WHOLE CHAPTER! My God! We shall see where the journey takes us….

SPOKELAB

SpokeLab is a small group of writers facilitated by Roger Robinson

http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=auth519CDC8B0eb2d18F4BYmL186BFCA

and Dawn Reid www.liftfest.org.uk/newparliament/seekers/dawn_reid/ , working on developing poetic writing into performance pieces that challenge that line between spoken word and theatrical performance. The first of these sessions, held at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, http://www.stratfordeast.com has already passed, but the next is at the beginning of November. Over the course of a three-four hour session, we play with pieces that we have written to develop the characters’ voices within the writing and extract the elements of engagable drama that can be used to maximum advantage by the performer for the audience. It’s made me think a lot about the kind of dramatic writing I used to do with Theatre Royal Haymarket, and the writing I did during my Drama degree. I tend to get into genres of writing one at a time and abandon one in favour of one which I decide is more suited to me, but SpokeLab looks like it’s going to blur the lines between poetry and drama. I’m looking forward to exploring where it goes.

 THE VINEYARD 

I was invited to join online writers’ forum The Vineyard by Jacob Sam-La Rose www.jsamlarose.com  a while back and have been contributing fairly regularly on the website. The Vineyard is a feedback forum alongside discussions surrounding literature, performance, writing and any other related conversations the members feel relevant to each other, or indeed in any way interesting. I’ve been finding The Vineyard a really exciting space to develop my poetry because you have access to the perception and objective analysis of a) other writers and b) people who, while they may also be your friends, are able to comment constructively. I also feel lucky that much more experienced writers are taking the time to look through my work and offer help- it’s a very supportive environment. There are some plans for a publication of Vineyard contributors’ work, which is very exciting. If that goes ahead, I’ll be looking at potentially having work published sooner than I thought. Hooray!

  

PERFORMANCE

I’ve had a really encouraging month in terms of Performances and Gigs. After winning the Farrago Autumn Slam in September, I did a slot at their next slam, and then gigs at various events, including Poetry and Poppadoms, Brighton Freshmeat Festival and Life is Music, the launch of the chapbook of fellow writer and blogger Naomi Woddis. I also did a forty minute radio interview on TalentMix at Colourful Radio, (http://www.colourfulradio.com/talentmix) which was a lot of fun. I feel like I am growing in confidence rapidly and accepting the different reactions to my work- some of which have been mildly confrontational and some deeply moved. It’s good to stay aware of the potential effect writing can have on audiences because it reminds you of one of the reasons why you do it in the first place- why you ever show your work to anyone else. I feel as if I am finding my place in the scheme of things, whether or not that is always changing.

  

DEVELOPMENT

ENVISION

Since September I have been working with an organisation called Envision, a voluntary organisation that recruit facilitators for socio-environmental based issues in schools and colleges across the UK. My role is to meet with a group of college students once a week to help them organise a project that will have a positive impact on their local environment and community. I am working with another volunteer and a co-ordinator to guide the students and allow them to work out what they wish to pursue rather than choosing something for them. You can look at the kind of projects that Envision have created at http://www.envision.org.uk.

 

Currently, the group that we have at St Charles RC Sixth Form College is enthusiastic but nervous. We have been drawing the group into focusing on one issue and working out what to do about it. The most passion, anger and opinions has arisen from the issue of parents who are also smokers, but the group also expresses interest in environmental issues and creating awareness about them. The main challenge at the moment is getting the group to pinpoint a project that they really care about rather than one that they think they should care about. Stay tuned for developments!

FLOETICS

Floetics is the night that I co-run with my friend Luska Mengham (insert myspace).

It is a monthly poetry, spoken word, drama, storytelling and performance night at the Redroaster Coffee House in Brighton, where I used to live. Floetics aims to combine more experienced writers and performers with a relaxed open mic to promote confidence in creativity and a feeling of achievement regardless of experience. Currently, Floetics is surfing a steady wave of consistently packed out nights, and as the student term gets under way, we’ll be able to create a stable event that writers and performers can rely on to enter and be themselves. I host the night every month and am thinking of inviting a London-based performer to come down with me every other month just to stir it up a bit. Myspace for Floetics coming very soon!

The Next FLOETICS is next week: Wednesday 7th November, Doors 8pm, 8.30 start, The Redroaster Coffee House, St James’ St, Brighton.

  Reading/ Already Devoured: 

Female Chauvinist Pigs: The Rise of Raunch Culture; Ariel Levy

On Beauty: Zadie Smith

The Caged Virgin: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

 Watching/ Already Slurped: 

Vincent River by Philip Ridley


 
Coming Up: 

Freedom and Culture at The Southbank

http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/festivals-series/freedom-and-culture-weekend

Stark at Tall Lighthouse

http://www.tall-lighthouse.co.uk/events.html

Tate Take Over at the Tate Modern

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/eventseducation/rawcanvas/9984.htm

Flight Final Meetup

Jascribble’s Bestival Adventure September 11, 2007

Posted by jasmingle in Poetry, Literature, and Performance.
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We got to go to Bestival for free. Oh yes. I know that this is well jammy considering that performance status was mostly awarded for three poems each in a mini poetry slam in a yurt, but I’m not complaining.

So Yem and I drag ourselves into Waterloo at the ungodly hour of 7.30 and keep dragging ourselves from vehicle to vehicle until we reach the campsite on the small the beautiful Isle of Wight. Everyone is clad in costume, scrappy haired, beer doused, bubble blowing, and deliriously happy. It isn’t long before we join them- at least, in turning slowly porous to the atmosphere which is so thickly airborn it is infectious even to us, exhausted, lost, and slightly apprehensive. Both camping virgins, we set up our tent without too much confusion (oh yes! as a city dweller I do see this as a major acheivement) and go wandering.

It was an entirely different world. From the moment we arrived in Portsmouth Harbour and wandered around buying sweets and taking pictures of the poster for Blackface circus, I kid you not, it was clear that you definitely don’t need to leave the country to feel totally outside a situation. I don’t mean that in an alienative sense, more that London is cushioning in it’s nature when you are brought up here, and many things you take for granted, such as ethnic diversity. Around the campsite (which was absolutely HUGE, massive areas sprawling around the valley, loads of different stuff going on) we saw a few more people blacked up and blinged up, which was bizarre. They stopped for a picture for us. I wonder what they were thinking. It’s worth clarifying that Bestival holds a tradition of dress-up, so most people were pirates or wizards or fairies or squid (yes, squid) so it wasn’t that these guys were dressed up as brown people out of the context, but that that was their chosen facade..

 We meet Charlie and Sarah and find our way to the Restival area where the slam is taking place. As mentioned above, it turns out to be a smallish chilled affair, with sleepy hippies and plates of fruit being passed around, and I think, this is bizarre, but lovely. The slam moseyed through with little tension, and was generally chilled and lovely. Adriel was spectacular- Sanfrancisco Slam Champion, performing later this week at the Farrago Autumn Slam, where I will see him again because I will be featuring. Hooray Cooray! Anyway, after some eating and chat we all diverge slightly and Yem and I go and grab some (very dodgy) food (I won’t go into what it did to my digestive system, you can probably hazard a guess, but let’s not) and see Nathan FluteBox, who Yem knows from The Aftershock Project with Nitin Sawhney, and who has a 20 minute set on stage with another beatboxer and a double bassists. He is fantastic, but depressingly short lived in his set. That happened a lot, actually- the next day, Beardyman was only on in his glory for 2o minutes before Kate of the Nash came and staccatoed her way through the air waves. I was not pleased! Why do these fantastic people not get more airtime?! Yem plants the thought-seed of a collaboration and I wonder what it would be like to hear Beardyman and Nathan together. for an hour. mmmm.

The rest of the weekend passed in a sort of chilled haze, lots of waiting for showers and people watching and walking about and, sadly, tent collapsing. As we condensed our belongings into nylon in nylon in plastic, I felt a tug, not wanting to leave, or at least wishing to come back next year, and to see other festivals, and be part of more summer havens in years to come.

 

Jascribble’s Cultural Catchup Pt 2 September 11, 2007

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Then there was the Regent Street Amazing India Festival.

I was largely underwhelmed. They basically filled Regent Street, central London with a few stalls selling handicrafts, a few troups of dancers, some rather crude fabric backdrops of the Taj Mahal against which people could take photographs, some shiny overpriced (again) ‘Street Food’ and a main stage with DJs etc etc. An entire street! If I or any of my creative compadres were given a street to ourselves to make the most of, I have no doubt at all that it would be much better than this. I imagine though the festival may have been intended as a cultural celebration of sorts, what transposed was instead the equivalent of a snapshot of someone’s Madventure gap year, laminated for the British public, and tied in all across the street with the shops along the way, discounts coming out of your ears and ‘themed’ windows. Themed windows are a such a fucking useless idea anyway because they are a) limited in their potential, and b) are too close to the viewer to suspend any kind of illusion. When you have real moving Indian dancers shaking past you jangling away, are you really going to be that enamoured with a brown mannequin in a sari-jewel bikini/sarong/matching flip flops/whatever? Ah, the delicious delicious appropriation.

DJ Kayper, on the other hand, was stunning. I caught her on the main stage on the afternoon, after fighting my way through loads of people who seem to have jammed in the middle of the street, like a chunk of dinner swallowed too quickly and stuck in your oesophagus. I looked up, and saw this black curtain of hair rocking over a massive table, laptop mixers and decks all like a mini fort against all these people NOT dancing.  I don’t really get why people weren’t dancing. I reckon it’s because they didn’t really know what they were celebrating, if that makes any sense. I stood and watched her and thought about how long it has been since I saw a female DJ or felt like a 13 year old boy with the urge to go up and say something stupid and ineffectual like ‘er, here’s my myspace, you’re like, wicked innit. yeh’. She was the highlight in a street of too little, and dredged up the designs I have, currently silting at the bottom of my brain, about learning to DJ. After drinking up as much fusion-mix (should be a cocktail, or perhaps baby formula for mixed race children) as I could stomach before my belly rumbled, I ambled off to buy an icecream and chill in the park.

Jascribble’s Cultural Catchup. September 11, 2007

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So I need to catch up on a few things. Having been caught between writing anxiety, isolation and also joy at events and opportunities, it hasn’t exactly been consistant. So I’ll have to break it down:

Film: I for India, the ICA

I never know what to expect from films like this, but conceptually it was great, cinematically unpretentious, and warming. Shot by one of the daughters, it is the story of a families’ migration to England from India, their correspondance with their family back home, re-integration and displacement, I really felt like I had one foot in either place and was slowly being pulled apart like a chicken wishbone. The efforts to stay in contact between Yash and his family come across as remarkable- acknowledging the two dimensionality of letters and scratchy phone conversations and accepting nothing less than better quality voices on a tape, real moving pictures of growing family, changing seasons. Yash buys two sets of filming equipment, one for his family, and one to send home so that every few months, news arrives, buffetted by mail, but still there.

Present day interview footage of England, India, and the family intercut with the crackly tape correspondance, forcing you to remember that the people in the old footage are alive, continuing to exist in their lives. It was slightly bizarre and jolting to watch their journey: itching to leave India, awkward in openly racist England, and then, later, too Anglicised to fit properly in India again, like a shoe worn so long by someone else it doesn’t fit your feet anymore.  Their desire to love India again was difficult- I could see, especially with the daughters, that they connected with their family but had become so accustomed to social British convention that it was difficult to assimilate comfortably beyond curiosity.

The director made some odd decisons in terms of intimacy and her presence in the story, insisting on always being behind the camera even in moments of complete heartwrenching sadness. As one of the sisters, now adult, boards a plane to live in Australia, the family breaks down after a short period of barely- maintained composure. I didn’t want to be there, in that moment, but I think it was important to document it to provide a tangible, present day impression of how hard it can be to leave your family- as the old footage was piecemeal and, having been made for family and not for the public, could not show us that moment. All in all though, in retrospect it was brilliant and refreshing in comparison to the next event………………..

Jascribble and the Jerking Chicken August 25, 2007

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So today, was UK Black Pride, or at least one UK Black Pride event. Apparently the organisers of last years Black Pride (Black as in all encompassing non-white ethnicity, at least ideally, but mostly beautiful afro-caribbean gay men and a sprinkling of gay women) fell out between last year’s event and now, so there were two separate events. This resulted in a half-dancing malais of people fanning themselves in the heat of the dark club (rennaissance rooms, vauxhall) or eating craftily overpriced jerkchicken-an-rice-an-peeeeeeeeeeeas, all the while clocking ex-partners, making connections, or just having a laugh with mates. Myself and Kuch sought solace regularly outside to grab snatches of catch-up and form the beginnings of theories about societal issues and erm, gossip.

 I don’t think any kind of Pride is something to approach on little sleep. What with one thing or another, I haven’t had very much this week so am now ready to drop at any moment, but the enthusiasm and general joyous yawping that is a prerequisite at LGBTQ events just could not be summoned. Otherwise, the event was largely anticlimatic. After last summer’s richly inspiring UK Black Pride and Fire This Time events, this year felt like a nod to the kind of celebration that should have been built on, straightened up and polished til gleaming in the rare August sunshine. The entertainments, while not terrible, came across as very last minute and the crowd was too dispersed among the different rooms to form one mass of cheerers in the centre, rendering the singers, models and poets devoid of any smiling faces to bounce off, feed from, respond to. As pioneers of an anti-nucleic identity that stands up to eurocentrism to be recognised as people, not as novelties, tokens or outsiders, is it not necessary to run these kinds of events with a certain…gusto? The whole point is not necessarily a parading of sexual identity or even the definition of oneself by other-ness but to nurture the development of a community in which people feel they can belong- to promote fluidity of identity and especially that which transgresses between conventions of race, gender and sexuality. I felt especially a rift between the reality and circle of friends that I know who are multicultural and of various sexual orientations and interests and the feel of Black Pride. However- perhaps there was an unspoken agenda that aimed to focus or target in particular, specifically Black British people, and that I am projecting my own desire to appreciate the diversity of people within my life onto the event. Also, it is easy to feel like an outsider if you are one of the few mixed race people in a venue.

However, if you are going to celebrate something, celebrate it properly, not three hours late, with a lack of enthusiasm and bad organisation.There is enough problematic representation of queer people and brown people in society without even our own community seeming not to care. On a more positive note, the fact that the events did happen at all is a thumbs up, and it did happen in London, which is thumbs up even more. The organisers have proved that there is a substantial audience for events such as that in the Renaissance Rooms, but now the challenge will be to expand and make full use of the potential we have in the UK to openly diversify.

Jascribble and the Abandoned Poems August 22, 2007

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So tonight: Room of Abandon. Myself and CKB fight our way through the spit-in-ya-face rain to the pub, recharge with guiness, observe. It felt like a comfortably ramshackle evening- full of character as usual, devoid of pretension, peppered with eccentrics. I recognised a girl from Sussex university but she was gone before I had the chance to fabricate a shred of conversation. Kayo was sensational- my attention when I’m tired is about as hard to pin down as those floundering crazy moths that turn up in student flats, but I was held, warm, still, for the whole set. For some reason, even if you’ve heard work before, it doesn’t matter- you become immersed, alive. I always feel with good poetry like I’m reaching the surface, flooded with oxygen, reawoken and switched with a deft fat finger ON. It’s the same feeling that makes you picky, or discerning, maybe- choosy about what you will go and see or whose work. It also kicks me up the bum with my own writing.

On the tube, my thoughts churned to a curdle, sifting mentally through recent poems and ideas, working out which I felt the best about for upcoming gigs and Bestival, and realised with a jolt that with each new poem on which I work hard, a new standard against which I measure all my work arises, like a blue peter fundraising target. I can’t do old poems with the same sense of achievement now, when I now can say the same thing in a better way. I feel like some of the most recent stuff is just a re-write of old ideas or poems but tackled with a different sensibility. But tonight: I’m pulsing with a desire to be braver with my writing, while staying true to how I want to say it. Surrounded by such spectacular writers, it’s easy to become a sponge. I’m pretty impressionable as it is, and greedy, gluttonous for the glow exuded by other people, as if i’m licking their faces as they read, slurping down their good bits but bringing them up again to find a crude mishmash, a cheap imitation. I decided this evening that if I attempt to mirror the styles of others, I will never really be myself.

Jascribble and the Station Saxophonist August 20, 2007

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Watched a saxophonist next to Charing Cross Station: look into

www.myspace.com/raggyfarmer.

Next to the station, the people flowed into position like cogs in a pre-set clock, or- no- more like rivulets of water down a hillside: occassionally straying from the pre-determined route but always returning with a splash to the water below.

Watching Raggyfarmer was like stopping to breathe, zoom vision taking me up close and inside the barrel of his saxaphone, so I felt like I was part of the swell of his cheeks, the rise of his chest.

I don’t think he looked up at me, but amongst the suits and briefcases running, cutting through the stillness between musician and listener, I felt that, as two people standing still, we were rooted, we were safe- for want of a less cheesy comparison, I couldn’t help but think of the end of Titanic, the full brass band playing into the rising water, playing, still playing, until the barrels of the tuba and french horn filled like metal lungs, and everything was silent. There was that same determination to carry on, like noone else noticed that we are all drowning. Perhaps we are…?

Though he probably has socks that are older than me, and neither of us, still in the moment of the longest note, could rearrange the world’s pyramic scheme, it was like we were both rocks on a clifface, surrounded by catapulting lemmings with bluetooth over it’s edge- us beyond the point of plea or persuasion, letting them run into the sea. We know that eventually we will drown.

He looked like the saxaphone was a filter, sucking the clammy shreds of goodness from our coal-dust air, our chemical respiratory romance. I have no such tool, but instead imagine that every smoggy inhalation seeps, osmosic, into my pens’ ink, slowly cleaning me out.

New Chapter August 20, 2007

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I am starting this blog to create a window into thoughts, ideas and societal discussion that needs to be here! I am living in London, I’ve just moved back here- and the sheer amount of stuff going on that passes unnoticed, undocumented- unblogges, boggles me. It ranges from the downright scary to fucking hilarious and sometimes both at once, butI love the freeze-frame moments, too- the ones that restore your faith in humanity.

 This blog will be an amalgamation of all these things: links, observations, experiences, and analysis, plus information on my projects and gigs, any interesting pictures that come up, and links to podcasts of interest.

 Happy reading!

 Jasmine