Poet of The Week: Alysia Harris

Poet of The Week: Alysia Harris

I love how all the constellations are named after Greek heroes. It reminds me that, even though immortal, they have vices too.” – Alysia Harris

I came across Alysia Harris years ago. Her poem “Cab Rides & The Morning After” was one of the first spoken word poetry videos I discovered that was cinematic in style. (as opposed to just filming someone performing spoken word, this was more like a music video. It was the exact type of film I wanted to create for my own work. Evocative, deeply sensual with a sometimes hard edge; Alysia manages to capture beautifully those elusive moments that usually slip through your fingers faster than you have time to hold onto them. I love how she blends her work with music, I find that style of collaboration the most entrancing when done well. I watch a lot, a lot, a lot of spoken word poetry; both online and in real life and I would say there is real power within this woman’s work, the way it grabs you by the belly and forces you to listen. I think there is something we can all learn from this level of honesty. I imagine myself sitting back and listening to all of this on a moody evening, wearing silk, with a glass of red in my hand. (I am currently sat in my pj’s during the day on a weekday as I write this but I so desperately don’t want to ruin the mood that this poetry evokes!) Enjoy the following selection of poems!

Which one was your favourite? I feel like I still have to say “Cab Rides & The Morning After” because it was the first one of hers I ever heard! But I also am a sucker for anything  Drake so Doing it Wrong is a close second. As I’m feeling inspired, I may take this opportunity to write something of my own. If this is the same for you, I’d love to see what you create!

Until the next time..

Lyndsay xo

Don’t forget you can check out Alysia’s site here.

My Current Favourite Music to Write to

My Current Favourite Music to Write to

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Instagram: @saltwaterpoetry

Do you ever feel like you just need the right music to help you zone out and create? Well I’ve put together a few of my fail-safe playlists that have helped me over the years! (Side note: you don’t just have to use these to write to). One of my favourite things to do is to discover new music. (See my Top 5 Female Artists posts a while back if you haven’t already.) I’m always curious as to what music people listen to in their rooms when they’re trying to create an atmosphere. Expect; moody, ambient tracks with a few movie soundtracks thrown in too! Use them for writing, painting, making art, cooking, cleaning, long walks, or simply lounging outside in the sun all day.

Tycho: Epoch

My ultimate favourite artist of this nature. (See also albums: Drive, Awake and their live set at Burning Man (available on SoundCloud) Tycho casts the perfect balance, taking you on an almost meditative journey through clean, modern and minimal beats.

Kiasmos: (Self Titled Album)

Following on from the same feel as Tycho, Kiasmos is floaty and uplifting. This album gets a little heavier towards the end but if you’re already in a flow by then you might not even notice!

James Blake

A little moody and darker, this I would say is perfect rainy-day listening. Got an art project that needs your attention? Throw on some James Blake! No one album in particular, I would recommend you to get familiar with a few of his songs.

London Grammar: If You Wait

This might be more of a random add in because I don’t usually like to listen to songs with words when I’m writing but for some reason, the first song on this album especially helps to get me into a flow. Especially good for journaling or creating work thats more emotional. Plus it’s a UK band which I just love supporting. They also have a new album out but for me If You Wait will always have a place in my music library.

American Beauty Score

It originally won awards for it’s creation and I can’t help but find it beautiful to write to! Off-beat, uplifting and full of personality; I bring to you something that is both classic and dynamic. Composed by Thomas Newman.

Her Soundtrack

Following on from the theme of soundtracks, this one is a little bit more experimental. But when you’re in the mood for it, you’re in the mood for it, you get me? Composed by Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett, this soundtrack is simply stunning. Within this playlist I have to say that I really like the first song Sleepwalker. Song On The Beach is beautiful too.

LowFi Hiphop Playlists

More so a genre than any set playlist or album. If you search for this on YouTube or SoundCloud, I guarentee you will find something that sits well with you. I would say these are my favourites right now.

I know that classical music or jazz can be a firm favourite with many people also. I could go on and on for movie soundtracks but I’ll save those for another day! I would also note that these albums are very different to the music I listen to when I’m just generally working. When I have a tonne of e-mails to bash out or I’m tinkering on the blog, I’m more likely to listen to something more upbeat (Cue many 90’s r’n’b playlist’s.) I like to have a variety of different styles available to me. What I want to listen to really depends on how I feel when I wake up in the morning but I love, love, love more than anything finding new, cool music to listen to! I feel like a good playlist just brightens up your life, so please if you have any songs that you just love listening to, I’d be happy to hear about them!

Creating For Its Own Sake

Creating For Its Own Sake

It’s no great secret that poets like having an audience. I remember once hearing at an open mic night that “poets live on alcohol and applause”. It’s a little flippant, but not entirely inaccurate. At least, it is for me. There’s a part of my soul that thrives on attention. It’s why I perform and, if I’m being brutally honest with myself, it’s not an insignificant part of why I write. I want an audience. I want people to look at my work and “Yes this is good art” or “This really speaks to me” or “Wow let’s give you lots of money to make more of this. Also a house. And a cat” (the latter hasn’t happened
yet, but I hold out hope).

I love the events I attend, I love my blog, I love my Twitter and my Facebook and my Patreon. Every time someone tells me they enjoyed my work, or clicks on a like button, when I get notified of a new patron, it’s a little magical. That these people, these real living people with lives and hobbies and limited time on earth want to spend some of that with my work seems almost too amazing to be true. But envy is a tricky thing. I envy the writers with thousands of Facebook followers, the ones giving guest lectures and appearing on TV. I see them and I want what they have. Measured against someone like Melissa Lozada-Oliva or Rudy Francisco or, of course, Rupi Kaur, I feel less like a small
fish in a big pond than an amoeba in an ocean. Compared to viral videos on Button Poetry and sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, the quiet constant support I get from loved ones, the slightly over-excited conversations in the back rooms of pubs, can often feel inadequate. It can feel exceedingly similar to being ignored. And that silence, when blog posts go unnoticed and YouTube videos unseen, is too often overwhelming. More than once I’ve had to actively stop myself from deleting my Twitter, Patreon, or poetry Dropbox because I’ve felt like I’m screaming into the void.

Perhaps one day I’ll have the kind of audience I want, the kind where total strangers message me to tell me how they found some kind of joy or solace in what I create, but I’m not there yet. I don’t have the time, energy or skills to build the kind of reach part of me craves. But what I do have is the knowledge that 8 year old Maz memorised poetry because it is beautiful, that 14 year old Maz made sense of her adolescence by scribbling in a notebook, that the first open mic 19 year old Maz attended felt like coming home. An audience is nice, but it isn’t why I started writing. I have words humming under my skin that are dying to get out. There are characters and places and stories I can only tell using almost excessive amounts of metaphor. There’s the way a new poem tastes when I can tell it is going to be beautiful. There’s the incredible high of committing something new to memory and having it bounce around my head for weeks.

In poetry I have found a diverse and welcoming community. I’ve been to nights that go from horror to anarchist manifesto, from confessional to fantasy epic. Within the wonderful creative spaces I am blessed enough to inhabit, I go beyond writing for my own ego or satisfaction; I add to a conversation. Every night I go to, every book I read, I am taught something new and it makes me a better poet. No, I don’t have adoring fans, but I have more peers, comrades and teachers than I thought possible. It is tempting to make all my poetry goals about reaching a bigger audience or getting a larger fee for performing. There’s nothing wrong with having those goals, but I’m learning to get better at centring my growth as a poet. Am I consistently trying new things? Am I stretching myself? Am I having fun? That is infinitely more important than how many strangers double tap on an Instagram post. I may never have a large audience. I may always be talking to a couple people on a tiny little blog in an obscure corner of the internet, or to a couple dozen people in the back room of a pub. I may never be entirely happy with that. But I am happy with creating, with learning and growing.

Poetry is my lifeblood. And that’s valuable for its own sake.

By Maz Hedgehog.

Connect with Maz further: PatreonBlogEtsyFacebook

 

My Rhymes & Records Goodbye Letter!

My Rhymes & Records Goodbye Letter!

 

I felt it was only right to dedicate this weeks post to saying goodbye to my beloved spoken word night! I don’t think I will really be able to convert all I have to say into a blog post but I will try. I have ran Rhymes & Records; a monthly spoken word night for the last two years, and boy, what a journey it has been! The night’s intention was to feature some of the most exciting artists in the northwest with a balance between emerging and established artist. I wanted people in Liverpool to have access to some incredible artists from further afield while providing a platform and paid opportunities for local artists at the same time.

For those who don’t know, Rhymes & Records was held in The Jacaranda, an iconic music venue in Liverpool. The first place that The Beatles ever played to be exact! It’s one of those venue’s that just has an air of coolness to it, without being pretentious. Young or old, everyone seems to have memories of The Jac and with many bars and restaurants seeming to be in flux in this city, it’s great to have this old listed building still around; well used and well loved. When it first began I remember feeling so nervous. I was convinced that despite there being some interest on Facebook, no-one would show up. I wasn’t sure that I was doing anything different enough to warrant interest and there were already so many poetry nights happening in the city. I triple messaged friends, deterrmind to fill the room somehow, so what if my friends weren’t into poetry? I needed to make sure it wasn’t me alone in a room, with a mic for two hours. It turns out that I didn’t actually need to emotionally blackmail my friends and family into attending because our first ever night was sold out to the point that we had to start turning people away! A few months later me and the venue decided to move from the quirky second floor record store into their bigger space; the basement downstairs. For the next two years, the basement of The Jac was our poetry home!

I would say the night was most known for it’s sense of community. There were many valuable insights and stories shared in that room; things that were important for the speaker to say and things that were important for the audience to hear. I know that many people considered this a safe space where they could open up and for that I am very grateful. The support people showed one-another, especially new performers was really heartwarming. Throughout the months, I’ve seen people grow in confidence with their performance and body language. I’ve seen young people too shy to hold eye contact have a room erupt into laughter from their on-stage banter, I’ve seen people use their words to get to grips with all the happenings in their lives and make sense of the challenges they face. I’ve seen poetry become a form of solace for many people. Without going on a tangent I see all of this as absolute proof of the transformational power of the arts and the importance of it especially in this current climate.

I want to say thank you firstly to everyone who’s headlined: Bradley Thompson, Mark Mace Smith, Matty “Delboy” Delaney, Joy France, Steven Duncan,  Miko Berry, Adam Baird, Ged Thomson, Ann Briggs, Rose Condo, Genevieve L Walsh, Lisa Bower, Callan Waldron-Hall, Helen Tookey, Victoria Sanchez, Christina Thatcher, Ciaran Hodgers, Maz Hedgehog, Kieran King, Jake Wildhall and Tryone Lewis! A huge thank you to everyone who open mic-ed, to The Jacaranda for supporting us and everyone who came along just to watch. A big thank you goes out to anyone who’s helped me: take money on the door, came early to help set up, featured us in an article, filmed, took photographs, live tweeted, brought their friends, written something for the theme, bought an artists book, advertised on Facebook, written press releases or jumped in to lend a hand in any other way. I appreciated and took note of everything you’ve all done. A big thank you to FACT Liverpool for the collaboration on the Unfold exhibition, to Liverpool Pride for letting us host an LGBTQ+ themed night and to Writing on The Wall for introducing some immensely talented young people to the night and for choosing us to host their book launch. Lastly, to the people who patiently listened to all my plans and helped me over the hurdles, thank you.

Not everyone knows this, but I never intended to set up a poetry night. I was originally online looking for a venue to hold a workshop in. I had a manager show some interest and during the phone call, I realised that there had been a miscommunication. I had wanted a room to host a one-off workshop, they wanted someone to host a monthly poetry night. In that moment I realised I had a choice. It would have been so easy to explain that we must have got our wires crossed, but something in me decided to grab the opportunity. I came off the phone a little shocked at myself to say the least “so I guess I run a poetry night now” – I remember thinking. I think I may have burst out laughing at that point. Sometimes the best opportunities come out of sheer fluke, or comprise of things you never even knew you wanted to do.

I have really enjoyed working on this night and I can honestly say it’s something I’m very proud of. Rhymes & Records helped me grow as a person and an artist. I have so many ideas for exciting events I want to create next and I know that the ethos and spirit of Rhymes & Records will be infused into all of them in some way! Here’s to celebrating a fantastic two years, and to all the new experiences that are just around the corner for all of us.

Lyndsay

On Name-Changes and Branding

On Name-Changes and Branding

 

I’ve previously been told that I’m very good at naming things; books, blog-posts, projects and hopefully this will be no exception.

Salt Water Poetry was the name I wrote under for a while when I first got into sharing my poetry online. I picked this name for a few reasons; one being that I was nervous about sharing my poetry with the world so I felt a name would be easier to hide behind and another reason being that I just really liked the sound of it! Salt Water Poetry just sounded like a thing and I was even getting requests from people if they could work for my “company” (I wasn’t even working for my “company” at this point. In reality all SWP consisted of then was a handle on Instagram.) After my spoken word started getting more popular within Liverpool’s poetry scene and I started getting booked for live events and running nights etc. I decided to drop the name and just work under my own. The logic behind this decision being that I didn’t want to form a company and hire people etc. I felt like surely if I was working as a singular person then I wouldn’t need any sort of name or branding? I now realise that that wasn’t technically correct. As far as personal branding is concerned there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Salt Water Poetry feels and has always felt like my brand. I now feel comfortable using this title now that I’m further on with this journey and a little clearer on how I want to show up in the world.

Aside from just liking the title there were a few other reasons why I had decided to use that name. I first started writing to get over heartbreak. At the time, I noticed that water seemed to be a recurring theme within my work. Aside from writing, I had just begun to notice how vital water water for healing; tears, sweat, baths, they all helped. I know a poet writing about water isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff but there was something in the correlation water had to healing that had caught my interest. Whenever I explain to people the reasons behind my choice of title, I feel a rush of excitement. Salt Water Poetry brings me back to the days where I was first discovering myself artistically, it reminds me of having to summon the bravery to quit my job and move cities in order to peruse poetry more seriously. The name reminds me of the way your voice shakes when you speak the truth and takes me back to a time when I first learned that words could be powerful.

Here’s to creating more power, more authenticity and more bravery this year.

What’s your take on individual branding? How do you market yourself as a singular person and how do you find the balance between showing yourself vs showing the product/service you offer? I find this topic really interesting and will most likely be writing more on the subject this year!

Fake News – A Poem

Fake News – A Poem

I hope you’ve had a great week! As a few of you may have noticed, I have spent the last few weeks/months giving a lot more attention to this blog and posting regular content. This week I thought it might be nice to throw it back to one of my earlier posts for the benefit of anyone new around here. I actually really enjoyed sharing my poetry in this way and am cooking up some ideas of how I can creatively share my work in the future! Hope you enjoy this throwback post. As always let me know what you think and share this post with your poetry-loving friends!

….

I don’t often share my poetry on social media, especially not my longer pieces of spoken word. I know that there are a few video’s of me performing live out there in the ether and I occasionally share smaller pieces of poetry online too, but those sharings are usually reserved for the pieces of work I don’t know what I’d do with otherwise! Saying this, I recently performed at The SAN (Social Auditing Network) Conference, where I was tasked with listening to the talks, then creating and performing some poetry in response. I found this so interesting and really think that pressure-filled assignments like this can produce the most surprising results! So please see below, my take on Fake News – a concept that came up within the conference that sparked my interest.

Fake News

I remember when I was 5 years old
it was a frosty Christmas Eve and I was
filled with excitement and curiosity
I asked my mum how Santa
was going to fit through our tiny chimney
Without even blinking she replied
“He’s got a magic key
he’ll open up the front door
and put your presents under the tree”
I remember when I was 13
my mum cut out the pages of a teen magazine
so that I would not read the article about rape

I’m not saying that what my mum did was bad
from a place of protection and love
my mum did what she could to keep me young
didn’t deny me of the facts
just simply waited till I was old enough

But from as early as I can remember
the truth around us has been twisted to fit an agenda
not necessarily in the name of peace or safety
but in the name of fulfilling someone else’s
unbalanced need

These days, news stories are resembling
whispers on the playground
because truth is a word full of puncture wounds
and is rapidly deflating
Truth has led us down a path with little more than
breadcrumbs in our pockets
Truth is a friend who neglects to text, then posts on Facebook
but says their phone was “broken for a bit”
The truth here is grown inside a petri dish
fed artificial food,
never sees the natural light of day,
instead lives under phosphorescent

I dream of a future where truth is sacred
and never watered down or tampered with

But in a world where truth holds a very hollow meaning
it might be wise to look inside
and see what fake news of our own
we may be perpetuating
I aspire to be a pillar of honesty
but I weave poems out of stories for a living,
turn pain into paper stars
and I sprinkle art all over everything
I would never be able to do that
without a touch of creative licensing

I’m not saying this makes me just as bad
or that we should tell our kids the real reason
why Santa can’t fit through the chimney,
I’m just saying that it’s important to recognise
that even white lies can contribute
to the problem we are having
You are instrumental in the fight for truth
But first, look in the mirror and be honest
because fake news starts with you

Lyndsay Price

….

I hope you’ve enjoyed giving my poem a read! Be sure to check out my goodbye letter last week on ending my poetry night! Stay tuned because in the upcoming weeks I will be sharing; my experience with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, the reasons why I switched from writing poetry to blogging, the usual monthly wrap-ups and some guest posts from people from all walks of life, living creatively in their own right! Don’t forget to say hi on social media. (Especially since my Instagram is so new and I also have in my humble opinion, the best Pinterest account ever.) Until then!

July: Monthly Write-Up!

July: Monthly Write-Up!

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful July, I know I certainly have! As I’ve been getting up to quite a lot this month, I thought I’d take the time to look back and fill you in on some of my favourite moments.

4th July: My Birthday

Starting the month off with a bang (literally I guess if you were living in America) was my 27th birthday! I usually am not the biggest fan of birthdays (long story) but this one was so lovely, I got inundated with cards/gifts/flowers (okay by inundated I mean slightly more than usual) and had some great life chats with friends over rose lemonade.

5th July: School’s Workshop

Okay this might not seem particularly life changing but this was one great session! I was asked by Ged Thompson, a fellow poet/friend to visit a class he has been working with. It was great seeing the students asking questions about poetry and I am wholeheartedly inspired by Ged’s attempt to sneak creativity back into the curriculum! (once a rebel, always a rebel)

Ongoing

I volunteered on a project that was delivered by Writing on the Wall and Liverpool Pride that worked with LGBT+ Liverpool residents and refugees. The project was called What’s Your World Pride Story. The team delivered 8 weeks of sessions that explored writing around identity. The pieces of fiction, non-fiction and poetry produced were published in an anthology. I loved watching the process unfold and was blown away by the work that was created.

22nd July: Alternative Fashion Fest: Rock Night

There’s going to be a lot about AFF in this post because it just so happened that they did a lot this month that I was involved in! This event saw the team take over The Tivoli in Buckley, Wales and put on a night full of fashion, fire & glass-eating (yup, you heard me) not to mention much more.

24th July: Photoshoot for Sean’s Birthday

A friend and fellow member of AFF decided that instead of a party, he wanted to run a huge photoshoot showcasing the personalities of his friends and family. I loved the concept Sean dreamt up for me. The original idea was to decorate my face and neck in lines from some of my poems. When I found out the Sean writes too; we decided to use his words for the majority, which I thought was a nice way to collaborate. In the spirit of not making this post ridiculously long: I’m going to post Sean’s results in a separate blog post where I can include the lines of poetry too.

29th July: Pride March

I marched in the parade amongst 8000 others representing Alternative Fashion Fest and their stance on anti-bullying, anti-hate crime, tolerance and body positivity. I also swung by the Where’s Your Pride Story book launch and ended the day taking shelter from the chaos in the VIP section.

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Photo by Sean Joseph Murray

30th July: Pride Performance

Alternative Fashion Fest took to the steps of St Georges Hall. The performance consisted of body positive catwalks, fire performances, dance, burlesque, speeches and what I call “think pieces” I performed some spoken word around acceptance and did some live streaming from behind the scenes which was really fun.

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I don’t love this of me but the other two look adorable! Photo by Faris Khalifa
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Me attempting to do a body positive catwalk and not trip in heels. Picture by Jacob Kazara.

This month I also slept a lot, ate way too many quorn burgers, got a bit of a tan and went through a phase of grumpiness/eventual acceptance as I realised that summer is nearly over. Oh and I went to a yoga class too! (I understand that one out of a month is not the best but just let me be happy about it okay)

Final Stats:

Reading: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel.

Watching: Scary stories on YouTube!

Listening: Ultralife by Oh Wonder and Green Light by Lorde

Drinking: Cacao, lots of cacao.

And there you have it!

What were your best bits from the last month? Let me know in the comments below. What are you looking forward to most about August?

Lyndsay xo

A Year of Poetry

A Year of Poetry

Since my poetry baby Rhymes & Records turned one in January, I thought it only appropriate to commemorate this wondrous occasion in a blog post, reflecting on the year we’ve had and thanking some of the people who have been involved along the way.

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For those of you who don’t know: Rhymes & Records is a spoken word night in Liverpool, held on the second Tuesday of every month at The Jacaranda, Liverpool featuring some of the most exciting artists from the North West.

Humble Beginnings

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Starting out in the Record store upstairs in The Jacaranda, we soon had to be ushered into a bigger space after the first event filling up to the point where we had to start turning people away (something we had a: not anticipated and b: never seen happen before at a poetry night!)

Stand out Moments

My favourite moments have to be the collaborations we did with FACT Liverpool and Liverpool Pride. (Although watching headliner Joy France do a live experiment with the audience involving Mira Berries, pickle juice and tequila is very high up on the list too) (Don’t worry if you’re confused by that last one, you kind of had to be there)

Lets start with FACT. On 11th March, 2016, 9 poets showed up at FACT Liverpool to view Japanese artist Ryoichi Kurokawa’s exhibition Unfold. We proceeded to walk out an hour later with our minds well and truly blown. We then had the task of turning our reaction to this mind-bending, multi-sensory, synaesthesia-inducing, art exhibition into a piece of poetry to perform (simple right? um, no not really)

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Artists at FACT’s Unfold exhibition

Liverpool Pride’s collaboration took place in our temporary home (for one month only) of Heebie Jeebies and turned out to be one of the most packed, vibrant, engaging nights we’ve had so far!

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Poets Mo and Victoria waiting for our Pride themed night to start

Which leads me to…

The Community

By far, the absolute best thing to have come out of this monthly night of poetry would be the sense of community that we have created.

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Some of the lovely messages this night has received throughout the year
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A stellar review from poet Paul Pyke!

The overwhelming volume of talent (that only seems to be growing), the support people show one another and the conversations that happen afterwards are the reason I keep turning up and forcing my shy self to get on a mic to host month after month.

To everyone who made the night what it is, no matter how big or small your role has been, I appreciate all of you and want to say a resounding THANK YOU for being part of this community.

To another year of chaos, mayhem, stories and poetry! *clinks imaginary champagne flute* You’ve all came a long way and I sincerely hope you celebrate that.

To join the party and attend our upcoming nights, click here

Rhymes & Records, 2nd Tuesday of every month

The Jacaranda, Slater Street

7:00pm £3 entry (free for performers)

Find Your Voice

Find Your Voice

A 10 week programme exploring poetry & spoken word

Have you always wanted to write poetry?

Together we will explore writing techniques, play around with performance styles, cover some of the more common mistakes made by artists and look at professional practise; giving you the tools needed to take your writing to the next level!

Suitable for people of all abilities, whether you’ve been writing for a while and would like to refresh your skills around like minded individuals, or you’re brand new to writing and would like to blossom in a supportive atmosphere; this course will be perfect for you.

What better way to begin the New Year than by stepping out of your comfort zone and getting your creative juices flowing.

Minimum age: 18

Pricing:

£7 per session when booking for whole course in advance

£10 drop in

£5 concessions

Please get in touch for information on how to make payment and to fill out an application form. If you need support in filling out your form or need it in a different format, please let me know.

Ran by Lyndsay Price

Lyndsay is a spoken word artist based in Liverpool. She runs a monthly spoken word night called Rhymes & Records and has previously performed at Liverpool Pride, Threshold Festival and Alternative Fashion Fest. A seasoned workshop facilitator, drama school graduate, National Youth Theatre of GB alumni and previously a creative resident at mac birmingham. Lyndsay tailor’s her workshops sensitively and gains great joy from supporting artists in carving out careers for themselves.

Contact: lyndsaywritespoems@gmail.com

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I wrote ONE HUNDRED love poems for STRANGERS: THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED

I wrote ONE HUNDRED love poems for STRANGERS: THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED

“This isn’t a collection of my best work, or a collection of poems I spent the most time on, or even a collection of poems dedicated to the people I love the most. This is a collection of work created for people I had just met. Each poem I wrote in 10 minutes, typed frantically onto a piece of recycled paper, using a vintage typewriter.”

-taken from the intro to my book Love Poems I Wrote for Strangers

I have spent the last 2 years of my life appearing at festivals and events around The UK creating custom poetry for strangers. It started with asking a series of questions in order to get to know a person better. I remember doing random google searches of “best questions to quickly get to know someone” or “best questions to know someone’s soul”. After a series of trial and error, the following were the questions I whittled it down to:

“Name?” “What’s up?” “Favourite smell?” “Favourite time of year?” “What are you afraid of?” “One thing you would change about the world?” “One thing you would change about yourself?” “What’s your superpower?”  “Love is…..” And finally “tell me a secret”

Why do it?

At first I treated it as nothing more than a great writing exercise. It can take me months to finish a poem in some cases. This was a perfect way to commit myself to creating multiple poems in a day (normally around 20/30) When you take down the answers of another person and give them a timeslot, you know that they are going to come back and expect a fully formed poem waiting for them.

It’s kind of liberating. Knowing that you have to make quick decisions can actually make you skip the b.s. and make some pretty bold and confident choices. Typing straight from brain to page without any sort of redraft and liking what you come up with is actually a pretty cool feeling.

It helps beat perfectionism. There’s something really beautiful in knowing that there is no way you can possibly create something perfect (well I wouldn’t say no way but there’s certainly no expectation). There is something really charming in reading something that was created in 10 minutes for a complete stranger!

It gives you a pretty good insight into peoples lives and the way that they perceive the world (more on that in a minute)

The Things I Learned 

Firstly that the quality of the poem really depends on how deep people go with their answers. For the most part, I do not know these people and I have to spend a lot of time reminding them that I can only go on their answers to my questions.”Give as much detail as possible” is what I used to say. Writing “Don’t have any, lol” in response to “tell me a secret” isn’t going to give me much to run with. That said sometimes the people who wrote the least ended up being my best poems because I had to go a little deeper with my imagination, had to think a little harder, had to use a little more intuition in order to create something that would stir them in even the smallest of ways. Sometimes those people were the ones who came back and hugged me after.

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Something I was not expecting however was to be so utterly blown away by the answers I got. I couldn’t get over just how much people were willing to trust a stranger with. I couldn’t believe by just putting a piece of paper and a pen in front of someone, they could so easily spill their soul, their insecurities, their worries, their heartbreak, their jokes, the colour of their bedroom walls, all of it. No details spared.

Who’d have thought that just by asking strangers to divulge intimate insights into their lives, they would! All people need sometimes is the right outlet.

Some of the things I read moved me to tears. Whether it was the breakdown of a relationship, the start of a family, feelings or displacement or those feelings that you can’t quite put your finger on; there were things I read within those answers that sparked a whole new respect for humanity within me. I wish everyone could read them and I understand that I have been extremely lucky to have had this opportunity, for people to trust me with so much and also to trust me to try and make art out of it.

Sometimes I would just type out direct quotes from people’s answers because I felt they were art, all on their own

The thing I want everyone to realise is just how delicate we can all be. What I learned from that is that given the right context, people are willing to talk about more than on the surface happenings of their lives. I think ultimately what we want is to talk about the things that mean more to us, to make sense of our experience here on this earth. It’s that age-old cliche of “everyone has a story to tell” however it is only through experience that you can begin to understand how powerful that sentiment can be in uniting us together.

I honestly think vulnerability can be one of the most strongest states of being.

I urge all of you to stay vulnerable, stay open and most importantly, be ready to listen. You have no idea what you might learn. One of the messages I wanted to convey to the people I worked with was that their words contain so much beauty and power. I wanted people to realise that they all have an experience or insight or story to share that can benefit other people around them. Everyone has a poem in them, my collection shows just a few of them.

My book Love Poems I Wrote for Strangers is out soon. For updates you can follow me on Instagram: @saltwaterpoetry

If you would like to order your own custom poem before the project ends, you can do so at: http://saltwaterpoetry.bigcartel.com/

Say hi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/saltwaterpoetry

Check out my monthly spoken word night! Rhymes & Records

If you have any questions about the project, you can leave a comment below.