Yesterday saw the launch of two apps featuring Leicestershire writers – resulting from writing commissioned for the Sole2Soul and Affective Digital Histories projects respectively. I was commissioned to contribute writing to both projects, so I made an effort to get to the launch of both events, as it was fantastic to see the culmination of alot of hard-work by alot of talented people: creative, academic, technical.
[Sole2Soul: ‘wise souls talk to teen souls about shoe soles’]
The first took place at Market Harborough Library. A good crowd of ‘Silver Champions’, (project participants aged over 55) commissioned writers, public, professionals, and well-wishers gathered. Dr Corinne Fowler, from the Centre for New Writing, introduced the event, alongside her University of Leicester colleagues, Dr Ming Lim, Dr Ruth Page, plus LCC library & museums staff and willing assistants. Sole2Soul encouraged writing inspired by Harborough’s Boot and Shoe Heritage, specifically Falkner’s – a long-running family firm in the town. An exhibition in the museum recreates the shoe-shop in loving detail. This fascinating display provided great inspiration for the writers, professional and non-professional alike. My mother worked for Churchs shoes in Northampton, and so I felt an affinity with the theme. I wrote a long poem called ‘Well Heeled’ (see Poetry page on this blog). The event was divided into three spaces – Commissions (performances), Narrate (examples of other writing and photographs), and Curate (where ipads were available to view the Falkners app). At 15 minute intervals a ‘bell’ sounded and we were ushered to the next space. This gave a good overview of the project (and a flavour of the umbrella LCC museums project, ‘Click, Connect, Curate’). It was good to connect with fellow writers, and to talk about what it meant to the Silver Champions and general public. A definite success.
Afterwards, I dashed back to Leicester, for the Affective Digital Histories launch at the LCB Depot. Although it was advertised to start at 6.30pm, I arrived there (at 6.35pm) just as local legend Carol Leeming finished the performance of her fabulous choreo-poem, ‘Love the Life you Live, Live the Life you Love’! For some reason everything had started alot earlier, which was a bit disappointing. Still, it was a great atmosphere, and I had some great chats with my fellow writers and the App team. A short film was premiered, providing an excellent introduction to the project. Then DJs picked up the vibe, and eventually got us dancing. It felt satisfying to celebrate the success o this fantastic project with those involved – it truly was a team effort. I was tickled pink to see my Marginalia piece viewable on the smartly-designed App. Afterwards, we repaired to Manhattans over the road to celebrate the project and Carol’s birthday – two great reasons for a drink!
On Wednesday (26th November) I performed a 30 minute set of poems and stories in Embrace Arts, on the University of Leicester campus, alongside by Romanian buddy, Adrian Cretu, and a Leicester poet, Liz Gray. This was part of the Twilight Sessions arrange by Caroline Rowlands – a series of fortnightly spoken word and music showcases. I started with a couple of old favourites (‘Ignition’ and ‘Wolf in the City’) before trying out some new material, inspired by my trip ‘North of the Wall’ this summer. I finished my set with a performance of the folk tale, ‘The Grey Lady of Delapre’. Adrian followed with a set of his translated poems evoking the dark soul of the city. Liz Gray concluded with her repertoire of memorized poems celebrating the local. The audience was small but appreciative – as this was only the second Twilight session no doubt it’ll take a while to build, but I wish Caroline and Embrace every success with the venture – a great platform for new work. And all free!