When I was at university, there were no social events - or at least I didn't know about them. I had been waiting to go away to university to maybe, just maybe, open my horizon a little bit: so far, I had been stuck in a small provincial town in the middle of France dreaming of another kind of life. Then I got stuck in a bigger provincial town STILL in the middle of France. Well done me.
If I genuinely adored my studies and worked like crazy for five years, the content of the lectures and the structure of the courses were very French: very dry, academic, deprived of any kind of joy, creativity or imagination-stimulating opportunities. I studied English and American literature and civilisations and NOT ONCE were we shown a movie, a documentary, or were we taken to the theatre (Shakespeare only existed on the page...). As to having writers and other speakers come and talk to us... I'm not even going there...
I had to look for them myself, as I had always done... But in the 90s in France, it was not exactly that easy. Boohoo.
At the time, I had wanted to be a writer for years and years; I would have cried of joy if I had been offered the chance to attend a talk about self-publishing - which admittedly was probably still pretty rare at the time.
Anyhow, the students who attended Ignite Books' publishing talk should be incredibly grateful to have been given such an opportunity.
They were also lucky to have Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby on hand to explain self-publishing to them: two genuinely passionate and driven people just telling you how it is, why and how and when they set up their own small publishing company, Ignite Books.
It was also important, I think, that Steve and Joolz were not your average "publishing" individuals (and believe me, I work in publishing, thankfully freelance now, and there IS a "publishing type", and, well, hum, what can I say... It is good for young people to know that you don't need to fit a certain profile (i.e Oxbridge, a publishing degree/internship, nicely ticking boxes and obeying the rules, being and looking awfully nice, etc.) and generally please others all the time to be published. That if you believe in what you are doing and work hard at it, then you too can become who you want to be: a writer, a publisher with as little compromising as possible.
But you won't be doing it for fame and fortune, that's for sure. It's all a matter of CHOICE.
I am no longer a student, but I was there and walked away with my belief boosted and punching the air: yes, that's the way I've always wanted to do it, and that's the way I'll be doing it.
Ignite Books has been an inspiration to me, and will continue to be so.
Let's hope the young people in the room will treasure those ideas and build on them.
This was QMU's very first Spoken word and live poetry night and they were very brave indeed to invite Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby as their first guests of honour. They could have gone for a blander and safer option from London, but no, they chose two talented and abrasive poets from the North - maybe Joolz could have done one of her new poems, Barbarians, just to make a point "We are the barbarians from the North", it goes...
Certainly, they brought a very northerly weather with them on the day!
The audience was small - entrance was free for students, and there were a lot around outside in the bar... Let's hope that the word will go around and that more students will come and enjoy those evenings in the future.
Five brave young people opened the proceedings, and I was in quiet awe, to be perfectly honest. As a student, I would rather have DIED than stand in front of a small (or medium, or large) audience and read my writings.
It is only in October 2012, years and years after having left university, that I did my first two readings in front of an audience, a strange sensation at the pit of my stomach the whole time. Oh yes, you would have thought that having spent several years as a teacher, standing in front of classes of 30-odd semi-feral teenagers would have cured the shyness, but when you are reading your own words, your very own creation... It's quite something else.
Therefore, well done to the five students below who did their bit in front of an attentive audience that included two veteran poets and artists and a rock star. Beat that!
There was some quite brilliant stuff there, actually.
Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby were fascinating, as usual. The - apparent -ease with which they come up with those emotionally charged poems of theirs is quite beyond me, a non-poet.
Steve Pottinger has a new collection of poems, Island Songs, out now.
Watch Steve read his rather fabulous poem: No-one likes an angry poet HERE
Joolz Denby has a new CD out - a collaboration with Mik Davis from the dreamy outfit Utopian Love Revival - The Black Dahlia (which will be reviewed before the end of this month on this very website.)
I think therefore I write.
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