Out on a dike

Out on a dike phr. [mid 19-C] (US) going out in one's best clothes. [DIKED DOWN] I'm out as a dyke, occasionally out with a dyke. What I do when I'm out on a dike can become your business once I write about it here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nottingham is a Festival of Words

Pippa Hennessy has given me a hefty nudge to get on with something. It's about time too! Could there be any better way to begin afresh all over again at this old blog than in celebration of Nottingham's second Festival of Words?

I've been tagged! And there's not even a curfew. Just a licence to write.

I'm blogging for Nottingham in support of Nottingham Festival of Words which takes place in October this year. Once I've said a few words I'm delighted to be passing the baton to Vic Oldham and Amy Dunne, and you know you're in for a treat because they even have 'writer' and 'author' in their blog titles.

What’s your connection with Nottingham and its spoken and written words?
I arrived in Nottingham in 1995 to work at Nottingham Women's Centre, after giving up a PhD about the marketing of fiction and how lesbians may operate as a community of readers. Let me get three things clear: I never gave up on lesbians; I never gave up on reading; and I never gave up on the promise of words to assist in building community. I brought all of that with me and discovered a new community to share this with.

Nottingham immediately excited me with its thriving voluntary and community sector. The Women's Centre housed a wonderful library of fiction, non-fiction, theory and grassroots activism. In fact, the library is undergoing a rejuvenation as I write and the Women's Centre asks you to watch this space on their site.

I wanted to call myself a writer from as early as I can remember. I only joined the Brownies so I could gain the writer's badge, and poetry became my preferred way to express myself, so I was already keen to mix with other creative people. Nottingham has been the base where I can embrace local grassroots activity as well as explore the wider world. I got involved with the trAce Online Writing Centre at Nottingham Trent University in 2000 and collaborated with writers across the globe. trAce is a piece of Nottingham (and world) writing history that shouldn't be forgotten, and fortunately the trAce Archive is preserved and searchable.

Nottingham continues to nurture my identity as a lesbian who writes. I've been able to get involved with Sapphist Writers and currently the Rainbow Writers' (LGBTQ) group which  meets on the third Thursday of the month at Nottingham Writers' Studio. We're so lucky that Nottingham is also home to the Bold Strokes Book Festival in the UK. The next tagged bloggers, Vic and Amy, will be able to tell you more about that.

What do you love about Nottingham and its creative scene right now?
What's not to love? Nottingham represents opportunity for a writer or spoken word performer. It's friendly and compact, so it's easy to find your way around, but also large enough to have such variety on offer, including being able to develop fresh ideas and community projects.

For instance, I'm part of the Living with Depression Community of Interest in Nottinghamshire and creativity forms a large part of our awareness-raising and campaigns. We promote ourselves as Depression Expression and we're encouraging personal storytelling in order to improve local depression services. There's still a chance to get involved in the storytelling project and we're keeping our call for contributions open.

Being involved last year in the first Nottingham Festival of Words was really motivating for me: having a goal to work towards with the promise of a supportive audience. There was a whole LGBTQ literature strand, and I was able to perform new material written especially for the Festival.

It's the diversity on my doorstep which I enjoy, and I'm really proud to be a member of Nottingham Writers' Studio which is doing a great job of expanding the city's literary reputation and heritage.

How would you describe Nottingham to a visitor coming for the Festival of Words?
Nottingham has helped me to learn what it is to be part of a vibrant community of writers. You can be sure of a warm welcome and get yourself introduced to diverse, talented voices. There's something for everyone here. Don't miss out.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Starting all over again

I know I said I was back in my last post. Clearly, I wasn't. That's ok, because I'm learning I don't have to be perfect and this also involves teaching other people that they should learn to trust I will get things wrong. A real world example of this is: don't rely on me to get all the steps absolutely correct in every line dance. Believe in yourself. Rely on yourself. Then we can all have fun and laugh when we go wrong. It's powerful to realise you're not responsible for other people's bodies. Even more powerful to realise you're responsible for your own.

Sometimes I'll be a leader; other times I'll be a follower; and then there are all those times I'll just prefer to stride alone.

I've travelled a long way throughout 2012. It hasn't been at all easy. Do I know where I've been? Not at the time, perhaps. But the view looks good from here. Even looking back on the year it now kind of falls into place. It was necessary to disappear from the world in order to reappear for myself and to understand that I can have a future built on my terms. What other terms are there, you might ask? There are plenty of other terms when you're lost. In fact, only terms decided by anyone but yourself will seem like they'll do.

I finally discovered some self-compassion. I'll be writing more about this, I expect. For today, I'm going to direct you over to a friend's blog. She said it well there.

My first significant action for 2013 has been to launch my redesigned website at www.nickihastie.demon.co.uk. This feels like a new beginning, a new representation of myself - perhaps a truer one - and it's an appropriate date to take this step. I don't need new year resolutions; I just need to remember that I can act in each moment. If I get it wrong, the next moment is waiting.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When opportunity knocks it's time to be out, open and occupied

I've been away. I don't know where I've been so it's probably best not to ask me. There aren't any photos to restore the memories. I've been in rather than out. Closed rather than open. Vacant instead of occupied.

But that's all about to change. Last Saturday I was in Bewdley for a slice of 'Poetry, Performance and Pizazz' with two rather wonderful performance poets - Emma Purshouse and Heather Wastie of Brewers' Troupe - and other talented workshop participants. And I realised the poet, performer, and perhaps more importantly, the person in me could be reawakened.

So tomorrow I'll be in Bewdley again, having been given the opportunity to read a couple of poems to folks in the streets alongside Emma. This is through the relationship Brewers' Troupe has formed with Bewdley Open Studios. More details on this weekend's readings can be found here.

So I'm back. And next time I'm away I may actually know where I am. Perhaps even where I'm going. First destination: Bewdley.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What happens when I'm not here?

My website is down. So yes, even though I just provided a link to it, it's probably best if you check back another day. If you do/did happen to check the link while the site is/was still down, there's a strange ego-enhancing message awaiting you. Ok, it may not enhance your ego! But for me - to see the words - "This site is unavailable because it is too busy" - well - that gives me a sense of pride, and yes, also a goodly amount of basic annoyance.

There are times when several days would pass without me realising that my site was down. It's not like I update it every day, so why would I look at it every day? I might never have known there was a problem. But today - yes today - I'm aware of it. And it's damned annoying! Just the fact that you can't see my profile photo while the site is down is annoying. This probably means I should upload a new photo. Let Blogger host it. One day I'll get round to that. Perhaps surprise you with a new photo.

There's not much to worry about. It's an ISP problem. It will be fixed soon, I'm sure. The engineers are "looking in to it". The site really isn't "too busy" (partly because no-one can get to it currently); although it does get its fair share of visitors, wondering what I have to say about my shaved head and lesbians on TV. I do monitor. I know what's popular.

So - in lieu of my site returning, here's a little download from my brain.

  • Where does a website go when it's temporarily unavailable?

  • Am I less me without my homepage?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008: New Possibilities

Isn't that the great thing about January 1st? If we're inclined to think positively it can make us think even more positively. A new year, a new beginning. I'm pretty sure I need a new beginning with my blog because I seem to have neglected it for ages. I've never been that far away, although sometimes minds can travel extensively. Still, with all the talk of health consciousness which always follows possible excesses of the holiday season, I think it's important to remember that the mind also deserves a workout.

Here's a workout for the eye that I enjoyed over at AfterEllen.com: women who wear glasses are apparently getting hotter by the day. I'm happy to learn that lesbians have always known this. I updated my glasses in 2007. You can judge if they make me cool, hot, intelligent, sexy, accessible, geeky, or all of the above. None of these adjectives are mutually exclusive after all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Find me at Womb Poetry

The summer/fall 2007 "Equinox" issue of Womb went live yesterday, and my multimedia visual, voice, and textual poem sequence Postcard Stream is published there.

Check out all the contributors and view my work by clicking on my name at Womb Poetry.

Postcards ... the first of many ...

I'd love to hear your thoughts, impressions, comments. It's an interactive piece, so turn up your computer speakers and be prepared to move that mouse.

I say more about Postcard Stream here.


Stirring up the airwaves

An American adventure can quite change things. How do you like this outlook?

Gazing out to sea in Provincetown, Massachusetts:

On the beach

Or this one?

In the WGDR studio

That's right! You can now hear me in conversation with Merry Gangemi each week on Woman-Stirred Radio, offering commentaries on all things queer-shaped - mostly lesbian-shaped, I have to say - and mostly with a British spin. I'll also often be considering how our British and American cultures spin in and out of influencing each other.

Listen in each Thursday. Stream the whole show live 9pm-11pm in the UK (4pm-6pm Eastern US Time) from WGDR. There are always fantastic guests and great musical choices.

Actually, listen in next on 4th October. We're taking a break this week, but we'll be back!

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My not-so-hidden adventures

Did I forget to tell you more about my American adventures? I think I did. Well, there are plenty of photos over at the Woman-Stirred August 2007 archives.

You can also find videos of Julie R. Enszer and Merry Gangemi reading at Tea & Poetry in the September 2007 archives. I have to say that because here we are in the final week of September already, and soon September will slip away because the nights are drawing in, and ... ok, ok, enough of that!

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Poetry Pleasures

Here is some of what I got up to on my recent visit to the US: reading at the Tea & Poetry event in East Hardwick, Vermont. That's Merry Gangemi giving me a warm welcome. We were to read in the garden at Perennial Pleasures, but it was cold outside that particular afternoon.

The whole trip was fantastic.

I'm treating this piece of video as a test. I hope more will follow, as well as more detail of my adventures.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Travels of a Queer Poet

Yes - that's me! I'm here, I'm queer, and I'm travelling to the States to read poetry and meet two of my Woman-Stirred friends in person for the very first time. I'm sure you've heard me talk about them before! So that really means I'm not here at all. In fact I'm over there - being queer, and friendly, and a poet. Or at least I will be very soon. If you see what I mean.

Here's what's going on. If you're in the Vermont vicinity, please come along and support us. I'm the one with the English accent.


Three Queer Poets:
Readings by Julie R. Enszer, Merry Gangemi, and Nicki Hastie

Tuesday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m.
at 4 Langdon Street, Montpelier, VT

Julie R. Enszer, a Maryland-based writer and lesbian activist, is published in "Iris: A Journal about Women," "Room of One's Own," "Long Shot," the "Jewish Women's Literary Annual," and the "Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly." Her book, "Homesteading: Essays on Life, Death, Sex, and Liberation," is forthcoming in winter 2008. For more on Julie, see http://www.JulieREnszer.com.

Merry Gangemi lives in Woodbury, VT, and is the host of Woman-Stirred Radio, a weekly queer cultural journal on WGDR 91.1 fm. Her work is published in the "Paterson Literary Review," "Journal of NJ Poets," "Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly," the "Harrington Lesbian Literary Review," "Vermont Woman," and the "Hardwick Gazette." She produces the annual Tea & Poetry series, a Vermont literary festival now in its sixth year. For more on Merry, see http://www.merrygangemi.org.

Nicki Hastie lives in Nottingham, England. She is a founding member of the Woman-Stirred blog. Her work is published in "Chroma," "Diva," "Trouble & Strife," and also in critical anthologies relating to women's health, coming out stories, lesbian fiction, and representations of lesbians in popular culture. For more on Nicki, see http://www.nickihastie.demon.co.uk.

* * *

Black Sheep Books, a community space and bookstore in Montpelier, Vermont, offers affordable radical and scholarly books, and hosts educational events on cultural and political topics. As an all-volunteer project, we are operated by a five-member collective hand in hand with a group of dedicated volunteers. Our principle focus is to provide access to anti-authoritarian Left ideas in a way that promotes intellectual debate and challenges today’s hegemonic culture. Together with horizontalist social movements and political projects, bookstores, infoshops, and publishers, Black Sheep Books works toward an egalitarian, ecological, and nonhierarchical society.

Black Sheep Books
4 Langdon Street, Montpelier, Vermont
www.blacksheepbooks.org / 802-225-8906
Hours: Tues-Sat 11-6, Sun 11-5, Mon closed

And then, on Saturday 18 August, what better than Tea and Poetry?

You really won't want to miss us in the gardens of Perennial Pleasures for this Vermont literary festival, now in its sixth year thanks to the organisational skills and poetic-mindedness of Merry Gangemi. Voluntary donations benefit the AFSC VT office youth outreach and education program.

Readings are at 1pm and 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Julie, Merry, and I will be reading on Saturday at 3pm. Don't forget to bring a lawn chair!

Tea & Poetry poster

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