Zoreh is now available to pre-order! Head over to the Shop section to reserve your copy. It will be officially released on 24th March 2018.
To celebrate the run up to the release of Zoreh I accepted some questions from you and did a live Q and A. I've reproduced some of your question with my answers here.
Q: Many of you asked why did I call the book Zoreh?
It seemed like the most natural choice. Previously I had a longer name in mind, but Zoreh won. Zoreh is my middle name, and it means Venus, the book has some astrological, spiritual elements and it just felt right. My publishing company is also called Zoreh Publishing.
Q: Tina asked: which poem brought the most emotion when writing?
Q: I was asked by @sonic_dreamer: If you had magical powers and were able to depict your new poetry collection as a triptych in the style of three painters, which painters would you paint the poems in?
What a great question! I would choose Pablo Picasso, specifically Guernica. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Persephone. And one off Austin Osman Spare's self portraits.
Q: Clare asked: what is my favourite spot to write?
Any where warm. Preferably a sunny afternoon in the country side. Really i can write anywhere. I wrote a lot of my first collection Rocking Underground on the train, moving about London.
Q: Bobby and Savano asked: how long has this collection taken to complete?
Well consciously I've been working on this collection since August 2016. I wrote Fifth Circle of Hell on the 5th August 2016, I wrote Armistice DayNovember 2016. Sagittarius Rising the first poem in the collection I wrote on the 8th January 2015. I found it again and thought it appropriate to start this book with. Elegy I had been working on last year intermittently, but the majority of it was written in February 2018. This collection has been incubated for a while, but I'm so ready to share it now with you.
Q: Beth asked: how would you characterise the poems in this third collection compared to your first two?
I feel that they are a natural progression from each other, and i feel they are connected to a certain extent. For me each collection is a time capsule.
Q: E.M Lyng asked: How do you perceive the concept of God or a Higher Power throughout your work? Rod and Cayla also asked about the plural manifestations of spirituality and mysticism in my work.
My idea of God runs through my work, I suppose in this collection looking at the contents page it's particularly prominent, although that was not a conscious choice.
Q: Olivia asked: What is your main inspiration for writing poetry?
Love, being in love. Also the times we live in, I'm not untouched by what has been going on the past eighteen months, and the colours of recent events has added shade to this collection.
Q: Jeanie asked: What influence does film or photography have on your poetry?
Well in this collection there is a poem called Repulsion (All The Flesh) and last year I watched the Polanski film Repulsion for the first time. Earlier that day I had been talking to a beautiful French woman who reminded me of Catherine Deneuve (who plays the lead part in the film Repulsion). So these two things along with people I've seen and memories of the past coloured that poem. In general, we are all products of our environment. When I see a film that moves me or shocks me, or an intense photograph that speaks to me, I just marvel that people have captured such things, that that kind of excellence exists and is possible. It makes me want to work harder.
Q: Zoe asked: How does it feel to write words that touch people?
That's more of a compliment than a question! Thank you. There are pieces of writing, and records that have been my friends and constant companions, they've magnified the most beautiful points in life and helped me through darker periods. I believe art should be of service, so if my poetry has been of service and touched you then, thats wonderful.
I had the pleasure of being invited to perform in a spoken word evening at the Southwark Playhouse, on Monday night. It was the second half of a night of all-female performances - an apt ensemble in the week celebrating the centenary of women obtaining the right to vote in the UK.
I enjoyed performing Shackles from Rocking Underground; Possession, Ocean and Euphoric Kiss from The Lock And The Key; and Fifth Circle Of Hell from my forthcoming third collection.
I've been a fan of the gruff, gun toting photographer Jim Marshall's for a long time. Known more for his iconic rock and roll images: capturing a young Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village and the Rolling Stones backstage, he was Rolling Stone magazines main photographer. Therefore it was a revelation, years after his death to be introduced to his Peace photographs. Obsessively and secretly Marshall had documented over and over again the Peace symbol in various locations, scrawled on a bins, in the subways, and on placards protesting the Vietnam war.The exhibition is accompanied by a book, which long term friend of Marshall's Joan Baez wrote the foreword. The Peace and Light exhibition is being shown in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Troubadour was chosen as the London venue for the exhibition as the Ban The Bomb movement (which eventually became the CND: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) held their first meeting there. And it was in fact that movement that birthed the Peace symbol.
I was honoured that my poems on love and war and politics were chosen to accompany Marshall's striking images. The Troubadour and Reel Art Press, along with Jim Marshall's estate have done a fantastic job putting together an evocative exhibition. On Sunday at 7pm, we gathered in the gallery for an intimate poetry reading. I read some of my poems that were being exhibited, and some new work that will be released next year. It was such a special evening for me, and I truly feel so lucky and grateful. Afterwards a small group of us went downstairs and had dinner at The Troubadour, and heard wonderful, crazy stories about Marshall from people that had worked with him and grown to love him.
The exhibition is up until the end of December 2017, so check it out, and enjoy The Troubadour.
Photography by Dave Brolan
It was so lovely to be back at The Troubadour, it had been five months since my last reading there. I was one of 22 poets that read in the first half. I read my new poem Armistice Day. I always love to hear the variety and high quality of work by the other poets that read at The Troubadour.
At around 9pm there was an interval which allowed me to catch up and chat with some familiar faces. After the break the poetry resumed. In a new format, four poets, Paul Stephenson, Jane Yeh, A.F Harold, and Lorraine Mariner all sat on stage and for the next hour would take turns standing at the mic to deliver a poem before allowing another poet the chance. The random looseness of it was fresh and dynamic. Once again a really lovely evening at The Troubadour and I can't wait to return.
A bright, beautiful and chilly Sunday! We headed out to Oxford by train as I'd been invited to read some poems at Woodstock town hall at a reading organised by poet and professor Jenny Lewis. The headliner was exiled Iraqi poet Adnam Al-Sayegh, it was great to see him again. I read at the beginning of the second half, my poem Ocean and then Fifth Circle Hell. There were about 30 other poets that read and I really enjoyed the variety of different lines and phrases from each poet. The town hall was such a majestic setting for the, surrounded by the red autumn leaves. I look forward to returning to Oxford and Woodstock to do more readings, I'd definitely love to read with Jenny and Adnan again.
It was also the 4 year anniversary of my first ever poetry reading at Worlds End Bookshop, so it was special to mark it in this way.
I flew to New York specially to give my reading at the historic soviet themed KGB poetry series, on 85 E. 4th Street. Held on a Monday night it’s poetry series is in its 20th year now. KGB Bar is a New York City literary institution, named by The Village Voice and New Yorker magazine as the best literary venue in the city. I was on the bill with award winning poets Tadeusz Dabowski and Ariana Reines. Ariana Reines has been described by Michael Silberblatt of NPR's Bookworm as "one of the crucial voices of her generation."
KGB bar is a red velvet womb like room, with stained glass, and old Russian propaganda posters. I gave my reading first, opening with my poem Shackles, which received a round of applause. The audience were incredibly receptive and it was lovely to see some familiar faces again that had attended my poetry reading at Berl’s in Brooklyn in April. I read poems from both collections and a handful that will be in my third collection, which will be out in Spring 2018.
After my reading there was a break during which it was lovely to hear feedback from the audience, which poems they’d enjoyed most and how it’d affected them.
We resumed the reading to hear Tadeusz Dabowski’s witty and visceral poems, which generated much applause and laughter. And the grand finale was Ariana Reines. I really enjoyed her reading, I think my favourite of her poems was the last one she read with its complex imagery and truths that cut right through to you.
I’d like to give a very special thanks to Stephanie La Cava, Matthew Yeager, Dennis and everyone at KGB, and Ariana Reines and Tadeusz Dabowski.
I’m looking forward to returning to KGB soon.
My introduction from the evening
Welcome everyone to Week 7, Season 40, Year 20 of the KGB Monday Night Poetry Series. I’m happy to back, at least for an evening, and to stand up here as underprepared as I’ve been to introduce a poet in the five and a half years I’ve stood up here introducing poets. David Lehman used to be able to do this without notes, which to me always seeming like skiing a black diamond slope without poles, or driving a bus on a switch-backing mountain road at night without headlights.
Our first poet this evening comes to us from the city of London. She’s a poet and performer, the author of two volumes of verse “Rocking Underground” and “The Lock and the Key.” Her name reached my ears first from a poet for whom I (and basically everyone in poetry) have a tremendous amount of respect - Dan Chiasson; he suggested we have this young British poet at KGB and the adjective that he used to describe her work was “glam.” I don’t know what my definition of glam is - maybe I don’t have one - but I expected a patina of irony to coat the poems; one way to protect a poem is for a poet to…hmm…hold it by the ankles and dip it in irony, often to interesting effect; I expected a polyphony of speaking tones, not a darkly sonorous vowel music, not a poetry of singing, full of wildness, and reverence for the spiritual forces at play in the world; Scarlett’s poems, even when written in prose, are written with an imperative that they have to work when said aloud; the breath in them is the breath of a "singing" speaking voice; the speaker is on the balls of her feet, moving with a forward lean, and some speed....there’s a spiralling music that she generates in her poem THE FIFTH CIRCLE OF HELL by the irregular repetition of that phrase, the fifth circle of hell. For emerging from an island whose citizens are known for their stolid emotional control, her poems are startlingly emotional. What else to say? She wrote, directed and starred in her poetic short film “Burning” which was produced by BAFTA winning producer Charlie Hanson in 2012. In October 2016 GQ online released a video of Scarlett performing her poem Feathers at Leighton House to celebrate National Poetry Day. Sir Van Morrison commented on Scarlett's poetry: ""What strikes me about Scarlett's work it that it's very cutting edge and it's making poetry interesting again. I love both the intensity and the spiritual aspect she conveys." Scarlett is currently working on her third collection of poetry which will be released in Spring 2018.
John Paul Pryor invited me to read some of my poems and pick some of my favourite songs for his weekly radio show, that airs from 5.30pm-7.30pm on Boogaloo Radio.
Althought I've done radio interviews and readings before this was my first live one and it was great fun. My friend and fellow poet Greta Bellamacina also came along and read some of her poems and played some songs that were special to her.
I read Ocean, that I wrote on the 15th February 2016, at the kitchen table. I also read Fifth Circle Of Hell that will be in my third collection. And I spoke for the first time about what that poem means to me, and what inspired it.
My first song was Killing Floor by Howlin' Wolf, it was the first Howlin Wolf song I ever heard when I was 20 and partly for that reason it is one of my favourites. My second song was Francoise Hardy's Je N'Attend Plus Personne, elegant, wistful lyrics juxtaposed against the grinding fuzz box guitar effects.
My friend greta Bellamacina also came along to read some of her poems and played some songs that were special to her, one of which she dedicated to her husband. I loved chatting with John Paul and Greta about life, love, time, the blues and together we all had a good chemistry on air.
Tuppence Creative director Alexandra Dover organised an event by the lake in Battersea Park to celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show and raise awareness and aid for the important research of insect life. Tickets were available to the public and gifted free to Chelsea Pensioners. Alexandra asked me to come read a few poems. It's actually the first outdoors reading I've done and it was very atmospheric. A hazy, heady summer evening. I read Paper Tigers and Euphoric Kiss on the stage next to the boating lake in Battersea Park.
Opera singers Skye Vocal performed. The actor Matt Barber read Henry James. There was also a live beehive on display, to raise awareness of the importance bees in our environment and all money raised by ticket sales was donated to RHS Science.
Berl's Poetry is a fabulous independent Bookshop devoted solely to poetry. A family owned business its run by Jared White and Farrah Field.
Starting at 7.30pm the event was streamed live on Facebook which was a new one for me, but a lovely addition to our real living, breathing audience seated before us.
Lauren Hilger commenced reading with fascinating poems from her book 'Lady Be Good'. I really enjoyed listening to her work and was really interesting in hearing the context in which she'd written the poems.
After Chris Campanioni shared some brand new poems with us. They were pretty epic, humorous and poignant at the same time.
After I performed work from both my collections, and a lot of new poems to. I really enjoyed performing and it was great to see new faces, people from New York I was meeting for the first time and also familiar friendly faces I've connected with at other poetry readings.
A big thank you to Jared and our friends at Berl's for putting together a really special night, I look forward to the next one.
So much has happened since I wrote the poems in Rocking Underground. It's surreal and magical that it is now in its third edition. Thank you so much to everyone who had bought and enjoyed these poems. It's moving to hear your feedback. I'm very pleased to say the third edition is now available, so head to the Shop section to acquire a copy.
We arrived in New York in the afternoon, later than anticipated. After a restorative bath and meal we headed down to Bowery Poetry at 7:45pm. I signed to take part in the open mic and the show kicked off at 8.30pm. Everyone sits with everyone else it's a really friendly atmosphere. Mason Granger hosted the night beautifully, introducing each open mic poet. At the end of the first half, Mason introduced Safia Elhillo the featured poet of the night. Poised, still, strong, Sofia's first poem affected me the most. It was what I needed to hear and sometimes God puts you in front of what you need. In the interval I bought Safia's book The January Children. Then I was the first poet to perform in the second half, I read my poem The Fifth Circle Of Hell, which will be in my third collection.
That night I heard some amazing poetry. And in the car on my way home, the first song on the radio was Eddie Cochran C'mon Everbody started playing, which captured the evening perfectly.
Listening to Joni Mitchell's album Hejira in London, packing my suitcase, it still didn't feel real. But listening to Hejira in my hotel room in Massachusetts it made me smile, because then it felt real. It's a huge honour to be invited to read at Wellesley College, founded in 1870, it's a women's liberal arts college. The honour for me was all the more special because I'd been invited by Dr. Dan Chiasson, who I meet in Paris in July 2016, whilst I was there, launching my second collection The Lock And The Key.
I respect Dan deeply for his work, his ethics and the way he lives and embraces life. My reading was held at 4.30pm at the Zeta Alpha house on campus at Wellesley. Dan had encouraged me to read as many poems as I wanted. So I did a 40 minute set, reading extensively from my first two collections. I also read new poems like Fifth Circle of Hell and Armistice Day, and some poems so new I'd never read them.
Before my reading Dr.Chiasson gave me the following introduction:
I was deeply moved by Dan's introduction and the response from the women at the college. It was a pleasure to hear such positive, lovely, inspiring interpretations of my work from the students. It was great to be able to spend time with them after the reading, along with other professors and writers. A special thanks to Dan for this incredible honour, to Lisa Easley for her hard work, and all the amazing ladies at Wellesley College that I got to meet. And angels that emerged.
Whilst in Massachusetts I was able to go and pay my respects to one of my favourite writers in Lowell.