Archive for the category “Poetry”

The Hammer and Tongue Oxford Poetry Slam Final

What a FANTASTIC time at the Oxford poetry slam final at the Old Fire Station last night. Stewart Taylor’s magnificent performance of the very, very funny ‘Do Not Mock The Clog’ deserved to win, especially with the energy and talent he put into the delivery. With the energy filled, hilariously entertaining set from from the genius who is Tim Clare (in particular his Noah’s Ark Bar and Grill poem which just got better and better and funnier and funnier as it went on) and everybody else with their thought provoking, funny, moving poems … what a night!
It was wonderful to meet the very talented 2012 slam winner Davy Mac, whose poems are clever, witty and topical and delivered with panache (I loved it when he made his hat announce ‘Hufflepuff’ as an icebreaker).
I was very impressed with Micah Isser’s clever, surprising perspectives and beautiful imagery, Eric Coffin Gould’s heart stopping, deeply moving love poems, Dan Holloway’s soaring tale of the dark side of London, Kate Walton’s lyrical, flowing and magical dances of remembrance and finally Anna Percy’s raw, powerful poems, challenging our perceptions of body image and female identity.
I performed as Jen Russell (my maiden name) and nerves did get the better of me, especially in the second performance (I was that woman who was literally shaking) but I still really enjoyed the opportunity and personal challenge of getting up and ‘facing the fear’. Hammer and Tongue, I salute you. Well done for everything and thank you.

I’m in a Poetry Slam final!

It’s being held on 14th May in Oxford at the Old Fire Station. Competing under my maiden name, Jen Russell. Have to memorise three of my poems. Terrified, but looking forward to it as the Slam in Chipping Norton was so adrenalin-fuelled and exciting. Come along! The link is here:


My favourite event at this year’s ChipLitFest: ‘Evie and the Perfect Cupcake’

My favourite event at the ChipLitFest was in a little room at The Chequers, where Tina Sederholm performed her show: ‘Evie and the Perfect Cupcake’.

‘Evie and the Perfect Cupcake’ is about a girl called Evie who lives in a benign parallel universe, called ‘the Calorie Galaxy’ where calories are plentiful but weight is policed. The one hour monologue is performed with wit, sparkle and fun and is all about the tyranny of being thin, and the usually self-imposed (fuelled by peer pressure and media images) desire for physical perfection which entraps so many women.

Tina Sederholm takes us on Evie’s journey, where she emulates her successful sister and loses weight, despite the advice of her wonderful Aunt Gloria. Towards the end of the performance, it all gets serious, and at this point I found that my eyes were (quite literally) welling up with tears for all the Evies in the world who think that they have to be ‘good’, who deny themselves and torture themselves in a quest for perfection, forgetting who they really are in the process.

Every woman who has ever had an issue with image, weight or self esteem (that’s probably all of us then) should see this show. I will be thinking about it, and it’s impact on me, for a long time.

Look out for Tina Sederholm at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, I highly recommend the show.

Tina Sederholm

Tina Sederholm

Poetry Slam at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival

Went to the Poetry Slam (run by Hammer and Tongue) at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival.

People got up and had three minutes to read their work. Five random audience members held up scores, and the middle three scores were added up for the final score.

On the spur of the moment, egged on by Paddington Clare, and very terrified, I entered the slam under my maiden name (which is my poetry name) Jen Russell. I got Russ to text my poems and read one of them, called ‘The Western Arcade’, off the screen of my mobile phone. They had to tell me to talk into the microphone, my legs were shaking and I was sure I was going to throw up.

The round of applause and decent scores was great validation and even though it took an hour for my heartbeat to get back to normal, I’m glad I did it.

Now here’s the surprise… I came joint first! So I’m through to the regionals in Oxford on 14th May. I have to have three poems ready in case I get through all the rounds, so am having a think about which would work best in performance. I might also have to memorise them which would work better than reading off my phone.

Thanks to Hammer and Tongue for organising such a fun, adrenalin rush of an event in celebration of participation and poetry.

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