November 2023

Hello again! It’s been a while, and I have been very busy, so it's definitely time for a little update. I had a great summer, jam-packed with all thing’s poetry, so here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to.

Ledbury Poetry Festival is a fantastic local poetry event, bringing some of the most amazing names in contemporary poetry right to the Midlands. I was so excited to see some of my all-time favourite poets performing and discussing poetry. Seeing Joelle Taylor at Diversion and Anthony Anaxagorou, Will Harris and Omar Bin Musa at the Refashioning Masculinities event was phenomenal. Then I was invited to read some of my own on the final celebration day, which was wonderful! I met some fantastic people and had such a brilliant time. There really is no replacement for these sorts of events, and I can’t wait for next year’s festival! Then in little old Malvern, I took part in a meeting of the Malvern Hills Creative Network, where I had the opportunity to talk about how essential engagement with the arts is and the huge impact the Young Poet Laureate programme had had on my life, work and wellbeing.

One of my favourite performances of the summer was in Northfield, Birmingham at an absolutely brilliant event. I think art is essential to how we communicate. Talking about disability can be challenging - at least I certainly struggle with it - but bringing art into these conversations can make things much easier. At this event, I was able to perform some poetry both directly related and somewhat unrelated to how I move through the world as an autistic person. Talking to the other poets and listening to their poetry gave me the confidence to write much more heartfelt pieces that dissect my own identity (and even send them out in some submissions). I think that one of the powers of poetry is to find a place for yourself and to give you the tools to process and understand.

Swiftly following that was another fantastic performance - Malvern Pride! I adore Malvern Pride so so much! Seeing our small town decked out in rainbows is so reassuring, and I never feel more at home than sitting under the trees in the Winter Gardens listening to the spoken word at Pride. So, when I was invited to ‘headline’ the afternoon, I was overjoyed! Seeing so many fantastic queer poets was just amazing, and being able to share in that joy with all of them is like nothing else!

Another event full of poets I love and admire was the opening of Worcester’s newest independent bookshop and cafe – ‘Script Haven’. The weather was miserable, and by the end, we were all drenched, but the opening was so much fun! It's a wonderful space, and if you haven’t made your way in there yet, you really should! At the opening, we all performed a poem out in Cathedral Square in a flash-mob style. It reinforced for me that poetry is an accessible and exciting medium - and also that the poets of Worcester are, of course, absolutely fabulous!

My most recent commission was a piece with Public Health - this one was a challenge. I was asked to collaborate with the folks over at Public Health to create a poem for Youth Mental Health Day. I have had my own struggles with mental health, so creating a piece that was accessible and uplifting but that also still felt true to me was difficult - I think I managed, though! It's out, and you can go 
watch it on video (and be the judge of whether I succeeded in that goal).

I hope you have a wonderful day, and maybe seek me out on social media at @asimonstuff where you can find all the various things I’m working on at any one time.

June 2023 

Hello! I’m back on this little blog to tell you about my first few months as Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate! I’m in the midst of sitting my final A-level exams so I’ll blame any weird grammar or wonky spelling on my diet of Lucozade and Ben and Jerry’s (and that
all I can see when I close my eyes is differential equations and skeletal formula).

Life on the academic end of things is pretty hectic but I’ve still found time to go out ‘poeting’. The biggest of those commitments was my coronation performance at the Hive! I was commissioned by Worcestershire Libraries to write and perform a poem to mark the King’s coronation. I found this pretty challenging as it was very different thematically to what I usually read and write and my own personal interests - however I always enjoy an evening spent with Wikipedia and a cup of hot chocolate so that was where I started! I spent some time reading about the history of parts of the coronation, from the buildings to the parades to the strange rituals like the anointing. I ended up settling on the crown itself and wrote my poem (not so creatively titled) St Edward's Crown (1660-2023), recounting each time changes were made to it. Including, my personal favourite discovery during this research, the time it was stolen from the Tower of London and (by some accounts) only recovered because of the completely coincidental visit by the son of the keeper of the jewels. I then performed this at the Hive on the day of the coronation which was briefly featured on BBC Midlands today! I found this to be a very strange and slightly surreal experience but certainly an interesting one!

I also helped out at a new project at the Cube Malvern, bringing a few of my favourite poetry collections in the hopes of inspiring a few young people to try their hand at writing their own - it was wonderful to see them engaging with ideas, in creative and out of the box ways.

Then a little while back, I performed at the awesome Dear Listener open mic held at Boston Tea Party in Worcester. As usual the Worcester poets are just incredible, so skilled and welcoming, always a delight! There is no better place to be than an open mic, just absorbing the fantastic poetry of everyone there.

Finally, I’ve got some poems upcoming in the ‘One of the Heard’ anthology which will be out with the always wonderful Word Association in local libraries. It’ll be an awesome showcase of poetic talent across the county so keep an eye out for it! I’ve got five poems in there: an on brand soppy train poem, a soppy villanelle, a soppy space poem, a soppy sonnet and a soppy echo verse. Soppy appreciation for the world and people in any form I could muster!

I thought I’d end with the collections I’ve been reading recently, just a few recommendations of what I’ve enjoyed while in the final push to pass my exams and get to uni. Kae Tempest’s most recent collection ‘Divisible by itself and one’ is incredible, I adore their use of rhythm. Harry Baker’s collection ‘Unashamed’ is a gloriously fun book - a delightfully funny collection of usually rhyming poems from a world slam champion with a maths degree. I also really enjoyed Arji Manuelpillai’s extraordinary collection ‘Improvised Explosive Device’ - a heavy but fascinating and artful exploration of extremism and hate crime.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day, enjoying the sun slowly starting to creep out and having a very happy pride month - you can find what I’m doing on twitter (@asimonstuff) where I am trying to remember to do the social media thing.