Week Twenty-Three

This week I returned to Tequis after spending time in Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo and Mexico City and for part of that time one of my favourite people was my sidekick, my partner in crime and chief mischief-maker Chelley. I have known Chell since 2006, from the beginning of Scream Blue Murmur, back when we were known as The Belfast Poets Touring Group, (slightly clunky name, looking back on it). In fact she was one of the first BPTG crew that I met when she came squealing up to me at a poetry slam demanding that I must come on the tour to Australia ‘cos I couldn’t possibly leave her as the only female amongst that hoard of male poets! And quite right too!

Of course we haven’t always been as close as we are now. We’ve had six years of touring with Scream, across oceans and deserts, up huge rocks and across seemingly uncrossable lakes. In the beginning I think all of Scream drove each other slightly crazy. We were all cooped up, trying to produce a show and we were in each others pockets 24/7. Oftentimes two or three of us ended up sleeping a mattress on the floor after the gig, depending on the gig organisers’ skills. There have been tears and cross words and more often than not harsh outbursts said in the midst of a drunken stupor (that’s mostly me and I can admit that now cos I’m wile grown up).

But I value this friendship. We have now supported each other through personal and professional crises and too many Saturday afternoon shoe shopping and cocktail drinking sessions to count. I can rely on Chell to give me an honest opinion on the latest poem I’ve written or the bloke I’m dating. I can turn up at her house on a Sunday morning, still wearing clothes from the night before, face mascara tracked and know that there will be a hug, bacon bagel and huge mug of tea waiting for me. (Although this is a little hard given the fact I live in Mexico now!) We can be creatively supportive of each other. If one of us gets the thumbs up from a critic or audience member it’s a win for both. I can talk about my future plans, despite how ridiculous they sound and will be given the kick up the backside I need.

Thank god for friendships like these. Chell is only one of the strong, confident, fabulous ladies I’m blessed to call my friends.

We were meant to spend the week deep in rehearsals for The Plus One’s new show. https://www.facebook.com/ThePlus1s

We were meant to be hard at work, sharing poems, working on double voicers and being utterly creative. What we actually did was eat too much, drink too much, swim, sunbathe and laugh, laugh, laugh. Actually this is probably a fairly accurate description of how The Plus Ones show will go.

So even though we didn’t do any rehearsing or writing while we were together, we inspired each other to get involved in the April writing challenges. We are both taking part in NaPoWriMo, which is a challenge of writing a poem every day for the month of April. There are prompts on the NaPoWriMo site (http://www.napowrimo.net) which you can choose to follow or you can pretty much go your own way.

We are also doing the A-Z Blogger Challenge which is a challenge to write a topic a day (except Sundays) starting with a letter of the alphabet. I am thinking of these challenges in terms of just writing something, not having the pressure to produce a perfect final draft. I want to challenge myself to become more disciplined in my writing. At the minute I don’t have a proper writing schedule and that is something that I’d like to be more dedicated about. The pressure of posting two things everyday, even two short, snappy scriblings will hopefully help this. I hope you’ll join in the challenge too. I like to think of it as a collective, creative conversation and it’s always better if it’s more than me talking. So get involved. Read the poems, write one of your own or share an opinion with a poet or a blogger. Do something!

You can read postings from participants on the NaPoWriMo site and you can follow the hashtag on Twitter. Keep up with Chelley’s blog here: http://chelleythepoet.wordpress.com

Reading info this week:

Finish The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson

Start and finish The Bonesetters Daughter by Amy Tan

Start and finish Turntables of the Night by Terry Pratchett

Start The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler


I was asked to take part in the BlogHopper Experiment this week. So here is my two cents worth.


1) What is the title of your next /current work?

I’m working on spoken word/music pieces for The Plus Ones first show provisionally called “One Night Stand”. As always I’m also working on a collection of written poetry that may never see the light of day!



2) Where did the idea come for the project?

The members of The Plus Ones are Chelley McLear and I. This project originated from our time as members of Scream Blue Murmur and we left earlier this year to concentrate on developing our own flavourful spoken word style. As we both now live in different countries (she in Northern Ireland & me in Mexico) we thought we should do at least one gig on our holiday to Minneapolis this year. Details to follow…..



3) What genre did your last project fall under?

The last project was a Scream Blue Murmur show called “Something’s Gone Wrong in the Dreamhouse”. It was a mix of spoke word, music, song and general ruffhousin’. We performed it both in the USA and Canada and I think it was agreed by all that it fell under the genre of ‘Awesome Poetic Shenanigans’


4) What actor would you choose to play you in the movie of your life?

Someone really small …..like Danny Devito.



5) What is a one sentence synopsis of your work?

Fine, feisty, fiery, fun….with a side order of heels.



6) Will your book/project be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self published and performed.


7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Ummm, the first draft isn’t finished….I’m still working on the project. It’s been on going since August 2012. I try and write and redraft as often as possible so as when it comes to performance time I’m as sure as I can be that it is the best version of the piece that it possibly could be.



8) What other books/projects would you compare this project to in the genre?

Honestly, I’m not really into comparisons. I don’t really like the idea of pigeon holing people into one creative box or another. That said if you put The Plus Ones on the bill next to The Ditty Bops, (www.thedittybops.com) Shane Koyczan (www.shanekoyczan.com) or Freaky Meat  (www.freakymeat.co.nz) I’d be really happy.


9) Who or what inspired you for this project?

As always, everything is a source of inspiration. I tend to focus on interesting or unjust events in the world and try and bring a quirky splash to them, whether that is adding in a jarring backing track or video backdrop. I don’t like to write too much about personal stuff as I think that there is so much more you can be doing with your performance time. You have people’s attention for such a short space of time that you may as well use that time to speak about something worthwhile.



10) What else about the project might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s got amazing shoes in it, worn by two feisty poets with a badass attitude and a wicked sense of humour. What else could you ask for?!


Next Weeks blog hoppers are three of my favourite creative people from across the world. I have been lucky enough to collaborate and party with each of them. Enjoy:


Chelley McLear is a poet and performer with experience of performing all across the globe.  Chelley facilitates performance poetry workshops for participants across Northern Ireland and regularly hosts poetry slams.

Chelley co-ordinates the Poetry in Motion Schools and Community projects for Community Arts Partnership in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is a writer in residence for the Prison Arts Foundation at Inspire Women’s Centre and regularly facilitates workshops for the Schools Library Service. Chelley is a previous member of Scream Blue Murmur and a current member of The Plus Ones performance poetry experiment.



Courtney McLean is an actress, writer, storyteller, improviser, comedian, and musician. She is a proud original member and current co-managing director of Rockstar Storytellers. She is the bandleader of Courtney McClean & The Dirty Curls, pioneers of naughtybilly: sexually explicit comedy country music and creators of the 2012 Minnesota Fringe smash “The Love Show!” www.dirtycurls.net. In 2011, Courtney was named #52 of City Pages 100 Creatives.


Shane Hollands has been part of the spoken word/performance poetry scene in New Zealand for over a decade & has been instrumental in the poetry-music crossover renaissance in New Zealand. 
In 2001 Shane formed Freaky Meat. In 2010 they released their single ‘Monkey Shines’ & the follow-up EP: ‘Late Night Kebab’. 2011 saw the release of the single ‘Lament of Paris’ from their debut album ‘Delicatessen’ (2011)
2003 Shane & Paul Williams formed the unique Beautiful Losers which produce soundscape infused spoken word using CelloTronics.
2005 Shane instigated the poetry troupe The Literatti & was creative director for its initial year.
2005 Shane & Paul Bognuda developed The Kerouac Effect, an annual celebration of Music/Poetry on Jack Keroauc’s Birthday. 
Shane has been published in Live Lines, Side Stream, Tongue In Your Ear and De-Formed Paper.