‘The Secret History Of The World’ was published in 2007 and became a New York Times Bestseller. It’s author Mark Booth has attended several of my poetry readings and requested to use a line from my poem Euphoric Kiss (featured in my second collection The Lock And The Key) for the reissue anniversary edition ‘The Illustrated Secret History Of The World’.
It is available now and the line from Euphoric Kiss is ‘Surely Gods here at play...’ and it is featured on page 400 under a photograph of Aleister Crowley.
I was very proud to have two new pieces of work published in the latest issue of Violet Book magazine. Violet Book is a biannual British art and fashion magazine launched in 2014 by Leith Clark. Clark, who'd previously worked for British Vogue, and continues to work as a stylist, serves as both the founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine. She created the publication as a reaction to "the way youth is over-celebrated' and made it a part of the mandate of the magazine to commission work from female creatives feeling that the female gaze is lacking in creative fields.
For my first piece I sat down and interviewed the beautiful and brilliant Editor in Chief of Bloomsbury Publishing Alexandra Pringle. We spoke about the power of beauty, racism, travelling to Palestine, and flirting with Ted Hughes. It was such a pleasure to discover more about a woman I was already fascinated by. For the piece Alexandra was photographed by the wonderful Laura Bailey.
For my second piece I had the pleasure of interviewing poet Anne Waldman. I'd seen her perform at the Cooper Union in New York in 2017 with PEN, so it was a pleasure to have a one on one conversation. Speaking to me from her home in Colorado we had a very energising two hour conversation. We discussed political action and apathy, spirituality, her close friendships with Allen Ginsberg and how they came to found the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets, what it was like growing up on MacDougal Street, New York in the 50’s and 60’s, touring with Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue, singing Hare Krishner with Mick Jagger, and her brilliant new book ‘Trickster Feminist’. Anne was so engaging and vibrant.To accompany my interview with her Anne was photographed in Colorado by Siggi Kinski.
This is Violet Book's tenth issue and the cover features actress Rachel McAdams who is also interviewed by playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
It was such a pleasure to open up Beat Scene: After Hours exhibition at The Troubadour last week. I gave a a poetry reading, the set featured my new poem ‘For Jack’ ( Kerouac, obviously) . The exhibition is on at The Troubadour till November 30th and features unseen photographs by Magnum photographer Burt Glinn of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso. Peter Harringtons are exhibiting Beat ephemera: a copy of On The Road inscribed by Jack Kerouac in red crayon to a friend, a signed vinyl of Allen Ginsberg’s poem Kaddish to Robert Lowell... It's an incredible exhibition.
I’m always honoured to be asked to take part in Anne-Marie Fyfe's Coffee House Poetry readings at The Troubadour. I did an intense 10 minute set and loved every second. It’s always great to be back in the crowded basement of The Troubadour. It's always fascinating to hear work from the other poets Anne-Marie has invited and I particularly loved the poems read by Fiona Larkin and Lady Poe.
After my poetry reading at City Lights with Janaka Stucky in March to launch my latest collection Zoreh, we chatted with members of the audience and signed books for them.
One person who came up to talk to me, was Chris Porter and he said he was establishing a festival in Lowell, Massachusetts to honour Jack Kerouac. Lowell was Jack Kerouac's hometown, and the festivals name The Town And The City is the title of Kerouac's first novel.
Chris wanted me perform, so last Friday I found myself reunited with Janaka Stucky at Christ Church United in Lowell. Poet Andrea Gibson was also on the bill.
For the reading I performed a selection of work from Zoreh and The Lock And The Key. I also read a new poem in memory of Jack Kerouac, that I had written especially for the event. It will be in my next collection.
It was wonderful to be able to see Janaka Stucky perform again, he gave us some poems from his 2015 collection The Truth Is We Are Perfect published by Third Man Books. It was my first time seeing Andrea Gibson perform and it was interesting to see her in action and meet her prior to our show.
Earlier in the day, I had the great pleasure of going into the local WCAP Radio station Lowell. Chris Porter and I explained how we met, and Chris, who had grown up in Lowell, spoke about why he wanted to start the festival. I spoke of how inspiring I have found the Beat poets, particularly Kerouac.
As it happens, the Copper Kettle a bar next door to the radio station had been a regular haunt of Kerouac's in his day. It was surreal to be treading the same pavements he would've done. WCAP Radio was established in 1951 and their studio had photos of Lowell in the 50's and traditional recording equipment and records.
I felt so welcomed by them and all the people I met Lowell, it's an inspiring place, rich in history and I'm looking forward to being able to return soon.
It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Tony Moore for his Saturday morning program on Soho Radio. We chatted about inspiration and my new collection Zoreh, I read Fifth Circle of Hell from that collection. I also read my poem "Ocean" from The Lock And the Key.
On Monday night I returned to the historical Atlantis bookshop, to give a reading of my new work Zoreh. It had been a year and a half since my last reading at Atlantis in March 2017. So it was great to be able to share new poems with them such as Elegy, and Lilith in the Midheaven. It was packed with over 50 people present who gave me such a warm welcome, creating a lovely energy for the reading. Atlantis is an independent bookstore, family run. It is so valuable to the community and carries real history, with D.H Lawrence and W.B Yeats frequented the shop regularly.
Also that evening at Atlantis, artist Jeanie Laub's exhibition opened. I find her work very interesting, and it was very powerful to see a large collection of work hanging in Atlantis.
Byline Festival is an annual four day Festival, held in Sussex over the last weekend of August. The festivals aim is to promote independent journalism and free speech. Headline acts and talks this year were given by Pussy Riot, Bonnie Greer and Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.
Scarlett with poet Oakley after their performance
The wonderful Salena Godden was Poet Laureate for Byline Festival, she received a standing ovation for her headline performance at the festival on Saturday night. I was honoured to be one of her selected poets to perform in the poetry tent on Sunday night. I must confess this was the first festival I've ever been to. I gave a fifteen minute set, beneath a full moon and a very receptive crowd of people, creating a lovely atmosphere. I was so blown away by the other poets Salena had invited, particularly Oakley. It was a wonderful evening.
Salena Godden performing onstage at Byline Festival
Last year I had the honour of being nominated for a Jerwood Compton Poetry grant. It was a pleasure this year to be invited to speak at the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship Roundtable talks.
We spent a wonderful morning discussing the topic of "Professionalism or die". We chatted at length about life as a poet in the world today. Pictured here with the wonderful and lovely Joy Francis who is Project Manager.
I first met Benjamin Aleshire in Paris at Shakespeare and Company in 2016. I was there to give a reading to launch my second collection The Lock And The Key. I'd noticed him sitting outside Shakespeare and Co with a typewriter and a handmade sign that read: "Poet For Hire". Sylvia Whitman urged me to commission him, saying she's given him the topic of motherhood and he's given her the most profound poem in which he had expressed how she felt about motherhood. So i approached Ben and gave him a few sentences about the night of my first ever poetry reading on the 12th November 2013. The result is the poem "Worlds End" which is very dear to my heart. In addition to touring the world as a troubadour, Ben was recently featured in The Times and his broadsides and books are archived in the Special Collections of Yale University, the University of Vermont, and St. Lawrence University. He was awarded a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council, as well as the Chighizola Poetry Prize from the University of New Orleans.
So, when Ben contacted me and said he'd like to do a reading with me whilst he was in London I happily agreed. I was curious to hear how his words that worked so beautifully on the page would sound when he recited them. He gave a great reading and has a strong presence. He also shared a segment from his memoir. It was a pleasure to be in front of an audience at The Troubadour again, and share my new poems from my new collection Zoreh. It was truly a wonderful reading and I look forward to the next time I am reunited with Ben, whichever country it may be in.
The Handel&Hendrix Museum is located at 25 Brook Street, in Mayfair. It is dedicated to the lives and works of baroque composer George Frideric Handel and rock and roll guitar god Jimi Hendrix. The building was home to both men during particularly prolific points of their careers, during which they changed music forever. Their living spaces are separated by a wall and 200 years.
The Museum runs as a charity, and in addition to being open six days a week, and housing an intimate look at the lives of both men, they regularly host acoustic music gigs and sometimes photographic exhibitions. They had never held a poetry reading before, but i felt it would honour Hendrix in a dignified way, especially given his great love of Bob Dylan, who's records dominated Hendrix's collection. I was so happy curators Nicole and Sean agreed. They were wonderful to work with and so enthusiastic and felt that my poetry reading should be held in what had been Jimi Hendrix's bedroom from 1968-69.
The museum and myself invited a variety of artists, musicians and poetry lovers to attend the reading, and on Monday night we gathered in the vibrant bedroom of a young man who had changed the musical landscape and so many lives in such a short span of time.
I started with my poem Shackles and read a large portion of my new work from my third collection Zoreh. I shared my love poems and political poems for a beautifully receptive audience sitting at my feet. I also reflected on what it must have been like for Hendrix, a young man of colour, to rise to the heights of a stellar musical career, when Jim Crow laws had only just been brought to an end in 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Hendrix certainly found freedom and self expression in London. After my reading it was lovely to meet and speak with those who had attended. I was honoured to be the first poet to read there, and look forward to returning.
To celebrate Urban Outfitter stocking all female anthology Smear we gave a poetry reading at their Oxford Street branch. My poem Greta and Me is featured in Smear, it also appears in my new collection Zoreh under the title, Ode to a Woman. It was such a pleasure to hear the other ladies' poems, and get to talk to the other incredible women who had poems featured in this anthology, such as Lisa Luxx and Rosalind Jana.
Afterwards we retreated even further into our poems, our journeys, our dreams. The evening ended in Bloomsbury with fine food, conversation and company, before a full moon black cab ride home, bound for love.