I’ve never been very good at sharing. I’ll be polite to your face during tapas but when you take the last olive I will abandon you quicker than I dropped my plan to wax at home on a weekly basis (pretty much immediately).
University Camarade performers and their lecturers
With this in mind, I applied to be part of University Camarade. This show is part of a wider event called The Enemies Project, that is being curated by SJ Fowler (www.stevenjfowler.com). The project is about ‘Contemporary poetry in collaboration, Innovative live literature and Performance Art’ (www.theenemiesproject.com). It’s basically poets sharing; their experiences, knowledge and performance space.
I was accepted onto the project and together with Tom Young, David Yeomans and Joe Shaw, we were paired with a student from another University and asked to create a five-minute experimental poem to perform in London.
What the Chuff is Experimental Poetry?
Good question. Apparently, a lot of things could be classed as experimental poetry: lists or streams of consciousness or shouting a nursery rhyme while sitting on a melon thinking about George Osborne.
The lovely thing about this genre is that you get to throw the ‘traditional’ rule books out the window. You can chuck your stanzas and your enunciation and your commas. Experimental poetry, for me, is all about the experience of the performance and the process reading of a non
The Weekend in London Town
‘Kimberly Campanello’s love of books is more contagious than impetigo’, is a well-known phrase in the Creative Writing department (made up by me, just now).
As part of the weekend, Joe, Tom, David and I were accompanied to London with Kimberly and shown some of her favourite sights around the city. We visited the British Library, The Poetry Library, had half a pint at The French House (they only serve halves so it takes longer for all the writers to get pissed) and went to the alley where Dryden was stabbed to smile for a selfie.
This may sound strange for a Creative Writing student, but before I applied for this course I didn’t read a lot. I used to read when I was at school: I was avid and would write quotes on my bedroom walls in silver pen and I could spend hours in a book shop or library. When I read I felt clever, worthwhile and bloody marvellous.
Little by little I stopped reading. I worked. Ate. Had a baby, turned on the tv. I stopped being curious.
But then I went to London at the weekend with some writers and an engaging tutor. That young, intelligent girl I’ve kept stuffed full of reality tv and Maltesers got to peep out. I was spoken to as a writer and I felt encouraged and valued and really fucking happy.
I ended the trip in a bookshop. I bought myself something random just because the cover looked interesting and I bought my daughter a book about amazing women to read to her bedtime. I’ve hardly watched any tv since.
The University Camarade Process
Tom (partnered with Michael Sutton from Edge Hill University): “We had the balance of getting on with our own things but we came back and wrote in response to each other.”
David (partnered with Kieran Wyatt from Edge Hill University): “We emailed our poems back and forth with increasing frequency. I found I was looking forward to each new draft.”
Joe (partnered with Jennah Fletcher from Kingston University): “It was a challenge with distance and communication, but it’s made me learn about my own writing process and style.”
Me (partnered with Vilde-Valerie Torset from Kingston University): “I worried we wouldn’t have any common ground but once we started talking the process became easy.”
The subject matter for our poems varied: David and Kieran wrote about entrapment and enclosure, an intelligent piece conveying characters in contrast to one another.
Tom and Michael focused on their train journeys home (this is a basic description for what was an ELECTRIFYING performance – put your tea down and watch it now, right now).
Joe wrote about Sophia the Robot and how it has got Citizenship when a lot of humans don’t have that basic right. Jennah’s subject matter was different but their performance together was cleverly timed and delivered so that the poems became one entity.
Vilde-Valarie and I wrote about the performances we do as women, she from a young person’s point of view, me from a married mother’s point of view.
Was fucking terrifying. The microphone looked enormous and I could hardly look up from my piece of paper.
Having said that, there was nothing but encouragement and support from the audience and fellow poets. Looking back at the performance, you can’t even tell I’m shaking and now I can’t wait to get back on stage and do some more poetry.
I will know for next time that microphones aren’t that intimidating and that five minutes is not a long time once you’re up there. If you get the chance to be part of this project you really should (even if it’s just to visit a library with Kimberly – that was worth it in itself).
As Tom so succinctly put it: ‘can we do that all over again?’
To view all our trip photos on Twitter click here.