Thursday, 24 November 2016

First They Tried to Silence the Artists

My alter-ego, the co-editor of all the sins, had a bit of a go at Donald Trump this week. He had a go at the cast of Hamilton: An American Musical last weekend and demanded that the theatre be a safe space. This seems rich coming from a man who encouraged violence at his campaign rallies and has failed to condemn the hate crimes being perpetrated in his name.

There is so much to speak out about, from the admission of illegal activities by the Trump Foundation to foreign leaders being hosted at Trump Tower to Trump's children and son-in-law being positioned for high-level roles in his administration despite being in control of his businesses. The conflicts of interest are numerous and serious and the president-elect needs to be held accountable for them all.

The concern I have now, is our ability to do that. In my article on all the sins, I warned that the silencing of artists would lead to the silencing of more voices. And now there are reports that he summonded the press to Trump Tower for a dressing down of their coverage of the campaign - this after he banned press from his campaign if he didn't like their coverage - and he was on Twitter berating The New York Times. Discrediting news sources, denying access and trying to control coverage are all serious warning signs.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Aftermath

I am an immigrant. I have spent almost my entire life as an immigrant. Interestingly, I am not always recognised as an immigrant. But I am declaring today that I am an immigrant.

Britain, where I live now as an EU citizen, has voted for Brexit and the USA, of which I am a naturalised citizen, has voted for Donald Trump. This is deeply saddening for me. I belive that these votes stem from a long-standing mistreatment of citizens. There are great numbers of people in these two vastly wealthy countries who are ignored by their elected officials and who correctly believe that they are not represented in their governments. We cannot blame these people for knowing this and for wanting change.

We can and we must hold accountable the politicians who drove these campaigns on rhetoric that attacked our most vulnerable community members. We must reject the fear, racism, sexism, islamophobia, homophobia and xenophobia that has been accepted as a part of politics today. These sentiments do not represent the Americans or British people that I know. They do not represent the multicultural and diverse students who sit in my classrooms. They do not represent my neighbours in London. They do not represent the people I grew up with.

This harmful rhetoric played on the fears and genuine needs of people, however, and we, as societies, cannot continue to ignore the voices of these people. We must reject bigotry and hatred but we must support one another, even those with whom we disagree. Even those who voted for walls and immigration moratoriums. We must stand together.

For me, that means insisting that I am an immigrant while recognising my enormous privilege. I am white and I speak English as my first language. These play so far in my favour that I am often told that I'm not 'really' an immigrant. No? Allow me to disillusion you.

Boston is filled with Irish Americans. People who wear green on St. Patrick's Day and eat corned beef and cabbage. They routinely tell me, 'I'm Irish too!' I love that they are proud of their heritage. I am proud to be part of an Irish diaspora that runs generations deep all around the world. But the fact remains that they have never held a resident alien card; never, as a teenager, have an interview with an immigration official, raised their hand and sworn an oath of allegiance to the United States of America; never been called an illegal alien by their friends; never been told that they talk funny; never been told to go home.

Imagine if I were a person of colour. Or from a country other than Ireland. Or spoke English as an additional language. Or were Muslim. If I feel vulnerable as a white, Irish, English-speaking woman, I can only imagine what a non-native English-speaking, Muslim, woman of colour must feel.

There are many things I cannot change today, although I might want to. What I can do is stand up and be counted. I can say clearly that when you speak out against immigrants, you speak out against me. You may say, and many people do say to me, 'Oh, but I don't mean you.' I say that you do mean me. If you object to Syrians fleeing war, then you object to me and my family who have immigrated twice, not because of war, but because the opportunities were better in another country. I am an economic migrant, twice over.

When you say that Donald Trump only speaks crudely, then you say that my experience as a woman in a world dominated by men has less value than the male experience. You say that when men have catcalled me, grabbed me, physically threatened me, stalked me and told me just what they would like to do to me that it was their right to do so and that I am in the wrong. You say this, even if you are a woman. Sadly, many women have internalised the misogyny so ingrained in our society. How could we not?

When you say that our countries are being overrun by immigrants who steal your jobs and only come for government benefits, you mean me. You mean me, who teaches your children, who has waited tables, who volunteers in your communities, who donates to charity, who supports the NHS and who pays taxes. More taxes than Donald Trump.

I am so lucky to have been born where I was, when I was, in my pale skin, and to my parents who lived the American dream. They went to the US as students, built a small business, bought a home and raised a family. This privilege is a responsibility. It requires me to listen and to work so that others can have the same opportunities that I have. It is not easy. It will require sacrifice.

So, no. I don't believe the world is ending. I am hopeful. I believe that now is the time for us all, as a friend of mine wrote recently, 'to shut up and listen.'

But before I listen, I declare: I am with you. I am here. I am an immigrant.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

All the sins Has Gone Live!

At the beginning of October, my co-editor Lisa Davison and I proudly launched the first edition of all the sins. We have some amazing visual, audio and written art in this issue and we hope it will be the start of a successful publication.

The bonus of waiting a few weeks to write this update is that I can tell you that the first edition has already generated some interest from some exciting areas! Both other publishing professionals and some fantastic artists have been in touch to say that they loved the work we published or to submit their own work. We even had a fantastic poet contact us to ask how they could be involved in the editorial board! Although we're not looking to expand our team at the moment, we are pretty chuffed that people like our publication enough to want to be a part of it. Thanks!

I hope you'll have a little look through issue 1. I think there is some wonderful poetry, fiction, visual and audio art up there. I'd love to hear what you think!

http://www.allthesins.co.uk

Thursday, 8 September 2016

National Poetry Day 2016

In more news that I hope (continues to) explain my absence from my dearly beloved blog, I will be working with the amazing Lucy Furlong over at Seethingography in exactly 4 weeks time to celebrate National Poetry Day (UK). We will be at the Museum of Futures in Surbiton throughout the day running all sorts of fun and challenging exercises and workshops in poetry for people of all ages and experience. There is no need to be a poet, just drop in and have some fun!

The theme is 'Messages' so come explore ways of sending, receiving, crafting, reflecting, refracting messages and much more. Think letters, bottles at sea, texts, subliminal messages, psychic messages, missed messages, mixed messages and whatever else comes to mind. Get the message?

What: National Poetry Day
Sounds scary: It's not! Fun activities that anyone can do. Plus enthusiatic writers to help you out!
Where: The Museum of Futures 117 Brighton Rd Surbiton
When: Thursday, 06 October 2016

Friday, 19 August 2016

all the sins

This summer is a very exciting time for me because I'm thrilled to be fulfilling my dream of starting a literary and arts magazine. The very talented editor and writer, Lisa Davison, agreed to embark on what can only be described as this bit of madness with me. And, after several months of preparation and more than one glass of wine, we launched all the sins on the 19th of July.

The mission of the magazine is to embrace the internet as a way to broaden artistic discourse between different forms and to connect artists with one another. We hope that people will submit exciting work that breaks all the rules to tell excellent stories in a variety of mediums. The magazine will be published quarterly with a theme centred on an extended feature which is published in advance and, in between editions, we will be running a series of short features about arts (interpret broadly) and about the magazine.


It's been hectic getting that off the ground so I hope you will forgive my absence from here - but I did promise you big news! Hopefully this is big enough. Be in touch with www.allthesins.co.uk if you have art or artsy ideas of all sorts. Think outside the page and be sinful!


"You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit" - Oscar Wilde 
(He was Irish, too!)

Shortlisted for Blog Awards Ireland!

I'm thrilled to announce that this little blog has, once again, made the shortlist for Blog Awards Ireland, this time for the Best of the Diaspora category.

Part of the judging this year is based on a public vote, so if you have a minute, please pop over to Blog Awards Ireland and vote for Finding Home! Voting ends Tuesday, 23 August, so vote early!


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Comedy much needed on referendum day

Looking for something to do after you cast your vote today? Why not come to SoutWestFest's Comedy night at the Marquis of Westminster? Many thank to SW1.London for having me as a contributor, writing about my dear SouthWestFest.

Fantastic comedy from Paul Revill, Luke Toulson, Jenny Collier and Olaf Falafal in a great, Pimlico pub and in support of SouthWestFest. All for the low price of £7.20 - you can't get that anywhere else!

Plus, we might all need a tipple tonight.

A note on the vote: If you're voting leave because you want to 'control Britain's border', or if you're thinking of voting for Trump because you want to protect America from all those hoards of immigrants taking your jobs, that's me you're talking about. Me.

I was an immigrant to the US and I'm an immigrant to the UK. I work. I pay taxes. I support the NHS. I teach your children. I teach you. And I put hours into SouthWestFest all year round. Volunteer hours to make my adopted community better and stronger. Unpaid hours to foster community spirit, to teach skills to people who live, work and study in South Westminster, to give people access to arts, education and one another that they might not otherwise have.

More Brits live abroad than immigrants live in the UK. So if we're talking about the strain on public services, I promise you, I'm easier on the NHS than the British pensioners on the Costa de Sol are on the Spanish healthcare system. I realise I'm white, have blue eyes and speak English as my native language, but don't let that fool you. I'm still *gasp!* an immigrant.

And I'm proud of it.

I'm proud to be the child of immigrants, too.

So if you're anti-immigrant, ask yourself why? Do you object to a university-educated, English-speaking, white immigrant? Is it actually the immigrant bit you object to? Because if it is, you ought to tell me to go home, too.

Interesting note: I wish I could say that people won't take me up on that, but I've been told 3 times that Irish people aren't welcome in England. Once was a very awkward taxi ride when the driver called all Irish people terrorists. Once I was told to get out of a shop, that my 'kind' wasn't welcome there. And once was just a few weeks ago when the checkout lady at Sainsbury's who knows me and knows I'm from Ireland told me that Irish people specifically were responsible for the breakdown of the NHS.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Blogging Workshop full

I'm excited to announce that the blogging masterclass sold out in a matter of days! You'll have to catch me next year. Or...you could try public speaking or creative writing! There are two creative writing sessions left. This Thursday, we'll be focussing on beginning cracking good short stories.

Last week's session was awesome. We wrote a collaborative poem without writing a word, dove into our memories to write poems about bees, university kitchens and birdseed and pushed one another to write better. It's a great group so join us!

Book your free place on this or next week's workshop at www.southwestfest.org.uk.

Can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

SouthWestFest 2016 Workshops!

This Thursday is the first of the annual series of 3 workshops that I run with SouthWestFest. They are a great time and suitable for writers of all levels. In the past we have had complete beginners through to competition winners. The atmosphere is relaxed and supportive, but the feedback is astute and pushes writers to improve, regardless of from where they are starting.

Best of all, these workshops are FREE! So much cheaper than doing a university degree to get into a class with me ;-).

I'm also running two additional workshops this year: an introduction to blogging and one on public speaking. If either of these intrigues or intimidates you, come on out for a friendly, practical introduction that will build your confidence and your skills.

http://southwestfest.org.uk/whats-on

Creative Writing:
Thursdays, 2nd, 9th and 16th of May 5:45-7:45pm in the Pimlico Library
      You don't have to come to all 3 sessions, but they will be different, so it would be great if you did!
      Please bring a pen and paper!

Public Speaking:
Monday, 20th June 5-6pm in the Pimlico Library

Introduction to Blogging:
Monday, 20th June 6:30-7:30pm in the Pimlico Library

Book your free place here.

Find out about the Stories of SW1 Annual Writing Competition here.

Check out all the great SouthWestFest activities, workshops and events on our website - it's going to be a great festival!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

2016 Stories of SW1 Writing Competition launches!

The 3rd Annual Stories of SW1 Writing Competition is running again this year - yay! Our theme this year is Heroes and Heroines so we're looking for all sorts of heroic tales.

Engage us, entertain us, tell us about heroic deeds attempted, achieved and failed. From superheroes with superpowers to everyday heroism - be creative!

Send your best flash fiction and/or poem to info@southwestfest.org.uk. Each writer can submit up to two (2) pieces of writing, e.g. 2 poems OR 2 flash fictions OR 1 poem and 1 flash fiction.

Flash fiction must be under 500 words, poetry must be 20 lines or fewer, scripts must be 10 minutes or fewer. The entry fee is £3 for the first submission, plus £2 for additional submissions (2 = £5, 3 = £7 etc.) and is payable through PayPal via the email address info@southwestfest.org.uk

You must include proof of payment with your submission. This payment is non-profit making and supports the prizes.

Writing must be sent in the body of an email because attachments will not be opened. Deadline is Midnight on Tuesday, 14th June 2016. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding that decision.

The first prize is £50.00. Depending on the quantity and quality of submissions, we may be able to offer more prizes so get writing! Further information can be found on our website: www.southwestfest.org.uk


** If you've always dreamed of writing but haven't done it because you're nervous you won't have anything to say, you're not sure how to start or maybe you write all the time but want to improve, check out the FREE writing workshops available through SouthWestFest!**

Our amazing judge this year is writer, performer, walker, blogger and poet, Lucy Furlong.


Lucy Furlong's writing has been widely published, and, in 2013, one of her poems was nominated for a Forward Prize and a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry map, Amniotic City, was featured in The Guardian and her pamphlet, clew, was published by Hesterglock Press in 2015. Her latest poetry map, Over the Fields, was published in September last year. She regularly reads and performs her work nationally, and recently took part in a literature festival in Berlin. She has an MFA in creative writing, and has lectured at Kingston University and at the Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames. www.lucyfurlong.comwww.lucyfurlong.com


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Seethingography

Today marks another publication. I'm very happy to have both a poem and two photos published today on Seethingography. It's an exciting new website that is looking for diverse ways to capture the spirit of Seething. 

Seethingography is: the writing and study of  the State of Seething.

Where is this magical land of summer ski competitions, gastropubs and shopping trolleys on sign posts? It's in and around Surbiton. So, come on you Kingston and KU writers (especially those of you who lived in Seething Wells!), I know you have things to say about the area. If you have anything Seething have a look at their submissions guidelines and get sending! The site is edited by the inimitable and formidable poet, Lucy Furlong, so send your best!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

New publication

Delighted to be able to announce that I have two new poems in the latest edition of The Lake, which is a great digital poetry magazine.

As has become woefully habitual, I am well behind in my posts here, but I will have some news coming up. Promise!