Tuesday, 30 September 2014

'Springfield Road' Launch Party October 1st 2014

Dear pledgers and followers and friends,

This past week, as the books arrived, I have been bowled over by your reactions, beautiful messages and pictures. Thank you. I made a tumblr of some of the photos I have been sent here  - Please send yours, I love them!

By now you should all have your invites to tomorrows massive booklaunchparty!
Its tomorrow, Wednesday October 1st, 6.30pm 'til midnight at Vout-O-Reenees!
Guest list is filling up fast, please RSVP to caitlin@unbound.co.uk

I'm delighted to announce that the wonderful Maggie Gee will be speaking and introducing the book alongside me. Maggie has championed this book since I sent her the final draft of 'Springfield Road' and it is a huge honour she'll be there.

There is a loose theme for the party 'Come As You Were 1972-1984'  - just interpret this as you please! Unbound's lovely Caitlin texted that she might come as a 'twinkle in her dads eye' - Maybe I will be there on rollar skates, with an afro, national health glasses, playing kiss chase with you all...haha! The fabulous Book Club Boutique DJ's will be there, playing ska, reggae and smash hits from the seventies and eighties.

Radio gigs and dates:

My music doc 'Little Miss Cornshucks' is on BBC World Service, BBC iplayer here!
Oct 2nd - Hastings fundraiser celebrating  Robert Tressell
Oct 3rd - BBC Radio Theatre  / live studio audience for Radio 4's 'Loose Ends'
Oct 8th - Bookslam, Clapham Grand, check out the website, tickets and line up here

There's lots of good stuff going on throughout Autumn, gigs, radio, parties and drinkys...

All details at: www.salenagodden.com

WOW! THANK YOU! We did it!

I thank each and everyone of you, for your faith, for every kindness and for all your help!


With much love and many thanks,

Salena Godden

press details:

Publication date September 30th 2014

Original Paperback £8.99 ISBN 978-1-78352-055-8
Available in all good bookshops

Hardback ISBN 978-1-78352-054-1
E-book ISBN 978-1-78352—56-5
Available from unbound.co.uk

‘Honest, grippingly readable, funny and uplifting’ Maggie Gee, OBE

As long ago as 2006, it was suggested to Salena Godden that she should write a memoir. The details of Salena’s life – a mixed-race child brought up in England in the seventies and eighties, whose Irish jazz-musician father leaves home when she is three and kills himself when she is nine, her Jamaican mother’s second marriage to a violent stepfather – had all the potential for the making of a ‘misery memoir’, the kind that were riding high in the bestseller lists at the time.

But Salena Godden is incapable of that kind of misery.  Joy and humour and love and tenderness just kept breaking through, and what resulted was Springfield Road – one of the most life-enhancing memoirs you will ever read.  Make no mistake, Salena does not shy away from the painful and the difficult episodes of her life, but she just can’t help herself also celebrating the ridiculous, the beautiful, the thousands of tiny unremembered acts of kindness and of love that are at once both personal and universal.

Salena Godden has been described as ‘the doyenne of the spoken word scene’ (Ian McMillan); ‘the Mae West madam of the Salon’ (The Sunday Times) and ‘everything the Daily Mail is terrified of’ (Kerrang! Magazine). She is known as The General of the Book Club Boutique, Soho’s louchest literary salon.

Earlier this summer Salena published Fishing In The Aftermath / Poems 1994-2014, marking twenty years of poetry and performance (Burning Eye Books). Her illustrious career as a spoken word performer is legendary. In Springfield Road there is a glimpse of what drove her to become the brilliantly, exuberantly self-made artist that she is.

As well as her writing and performing, Salena currently works with award-winning radio producer Rebecca Maxted. 'Try A Little Tenderness – The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks' was aired on BBC Radio 4 in May to great acclaim. In June, she read an extract from Springfield Road and contributed a poem to the much-lauded documentary ‘The History of the N-Word’ broadcast on BBC Radio 4.  Salena has been appearing at festivals throughout the summer including Latitude, Port Eliot, The Green Gathering, Wilderness, Festival No.6 and the ‘Dylan Weekend’ at Laugharne 26-28th September.

Press statement written by Rachael Kerr at Unbound.
For further information and press queries please email: rachael@unbound.co.uk    
Check out Salena’s website: 'Waiting For Godden' -  http://www.salenagodden.com 

PS: This morning I woke up to this, it is very beautiful, thank you Oliva Spleen
"I am currently immersed in Salena Godden’s newly published memoir Springfield Road. Though I am not by birth a girl or a person of Jamaican / Irish descent; she retells her memories with such clarity that, when I have a nap after reading a chapter; in my dreams I am her and I wake confused that her story is not mine as it seems even more vivid and real than my own youthful reflections and memories." Read more: http://olispleen.tumblr.com

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Writer Outside: The Rise of The Uncatergorisable


The Writer Outside:
 The Rise of The Uncatergorisable
Edit of an original commission from The Society Of Authors
By Salena Godden

 I begin writing this in a beige hotel room in downtown Chicago. I came here to make a BBC radio programme about the lost legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks, an obscure blues singer and performer from the 1940s. It is an uncanny coincidence, and worth noting, that Richard Wright, author of one of my all-time-favourite American novels, The Outsider, lived here in Chicago too. And, as I sit at this hotel room desk, working on the script for my programme and mulling over this commission, the title and theme, both pieces seem somehow connected. What is an outsider? What is it that outsiders have in common? Is it that they are vulnerable, undiscovered or simply misunderstood? Like Cross Damon, the hero of Richard Wright’s novel, or like Little Miss Cornshucks, and come to think of it, like all the writers and poets that make the work I love.

Let me briefly take you back to 1940's Chicago and tell you just a little bit about Little Miss Cornshucks - She’s the greatest blues singer you never heard of and she put the teardrop in Try A Little Tenderness. In the days when black American jazz and blues singers bore elegance and grace – think of Dinah Washington or Billie Holiday in satin gloves and evening dress – there was Mildred Cummings from Ohio, aka Little Miss Cornshucks, standing on stage in bloomers with bare feet, dressed like a deep-south country girl, with a ripped straw hat. During her heyday she was top of the bill at notorious speakeasies like The Delisa Club and The Rhumboogie. She performed to integrated ‘black and tan’ audiences, a mix of rich and poor, from Hollywood stars like Mickey Rooney and Frank Sinatra to factory workers. Even if it wasn’t intentional, her evocative costume and cute and comical act must have reminded some in the audience of their own humble beginnings, while also provoking some white members of the crowd to check their prejudice and privilege. This would have the audience enraptured and in peels of laughter. And it was then, just as she had the audience in the palm of her hand, she’d sing her heart out. She’d walk to the edge of the stage, sit and swing her bare feet, and sing the opening lines of her inimitable version of Try A Little Tenderness. Her voice silenced the room – some girls they do get teary – as she boldly shared her pain and vulnerability, and as she sat there wearing that same old shabby dress. Now here we are in 2014. Dinah Washington is on a postage stamp but who remembers Little Miss Cornshucks? By all accounts Mildred Cummings was unique and sassy but she wasn’t lucky. She wasn’t savvy, nor successful in protecting herself from sharks and other pitfalls of life and show business. She died penniless and practically forgotten – in other words like a true outsider.

Little Miss Cornshucks
It occurs to me, and not for the first time, that the outsider is who we all want to be, that the outside is the cool place. Outsiders document our times and narrate our present from a clear perspective that is unsullied by fashion and ahead of the zeitgeist. As I write this I can conjure a romantic image of an outsider writer in a dusty garret, she guzzles cheap red wine with blue stained lips and bad teeth, writing with the last nub of pencil by candlelight. There is no money on the outside. There is very little applause. There are no lists or prizes.
Yet, I always believed that the outside is where the good work lives, with its hunger and raw truth, bold heart and brave soul. Writers that have some spice and kick, that find a voice of their own and walk in a path they carve for themselves – in the footprints they got big enough to fill with their own perseverance and sass. Yes, these writers, artists and musicians, the ones that fit in no category, the trailblazers. They are out there to be discovered - they are not stocked at the airport bookshops. And in my experience, those people write the books that stay in your heart, the poetry and lyrics that tattoo your memories.

Portrait, 1994 by Olivia Rutherford
From my first gig in 1994 I understood that I would have to work hard, that I would probably starve and have holes in my shoes. I was just twenty years old and I was prepared for isolation, that I would have very little interest or time for children or marriage, for my own health or safety, and I signed up for a lifetime of hustling and hard knocks. I have worked in schools for many years, mainly for the First Story charity who champion creative writing and literary talent in disadvantaged secondary schools. There in the classrooms I meet teenagers and the next generation. I observe the difference between the young writer who wants to know how to 'make money like J. K. Rowling' and the student who writes because she has to and wants to, for herself and for the joy of the process. Here then, is where the writer begins life as an outsider. Not writing for an audience, not reading books for homework, not aiming for prizes, but coming to life inside the discovery of books and finding your own voice and forging your own path.
I was delighted to discover that Kate Tempest has been nominated for the Mercury prize. I love Kate, she is a great voice and huge talent, she has put the graft in and worked hard. I hope she gets all the credit she deserves, as a woman, as a poet and as a beautiful old soul. Every time I hear her new album played on BBC 6Music I feel like I can hear poets up and down the country shouting at the wireless "We told you poetry was good! For fucks sake! We told you poetry wasn't for pussies!" I just hope we hear more diversity on the radio now, more women, more guts and more colour. I am amused when I read journalists confused with finding the correct wording, the right category and a neat box for the likes of Kate Tempest. One journalist wrote the headline the rise of the uncatergorisable. And I love that and I say Bravo! Viva! Bring on The rise of the diverse! The rise of the mighty uncatergorisable! To begin with there's Chimene Sulyman's outstanding debut poetry collection 'Outside Looking On' which arrived with Influx Press this month. I'm looking forward to Joelle Taylor's debut poetry collection launching with Burning Eye Books in October. Most mornings I'm here at 4am, starting work, making lists, writing. And I am inspired and excited by new diverse work emerging from my personal favourites like Nikesh Shukla, MC Angel and the Lyrically Challenged Collective, Anthony Anaxagorou, Niven Govinden, Oli Spleen,  Lail Arad and Sabrina Mahfouz to name just a few off the top of my head. Click on their names, follow them on twitter, just trust me you will not be disappointed or bothering yourself with wasting time finding category, its about the work, the writing and the voice.
Poetry will always be the great outsider. For some it is something to be avoided because it can be a bit of work, a bit difficult and inaccessible. I think audiences get put off by the elitism that attaches itself to the form. Personally I cannot do cats or cupcakes, but that's just me, I like poetry that burns the throat and hits me hard. Poetry is confused by its many guises: performance poetry, spoken word, punk poetry, rant poetry, slam poetry, hip hop and rap. I am often frustrated by the names and labels used to identify me and my work – I don’t really feel I really fit into any of these boxes, ‘black poet’ or ‘feminist poet’ or even ‘performance poet’ - These boxes are limiting. So what do I call myself? I’m Jamish – that’s my own name for a mix of Jamaican and Irish and British. When I was at school my classmates debated my blackness right to my face. They argued over the shade of me, whether I was black-black like a Nigger or brown-black like a Paki – it was important for them to get the insult right. I was made to feel I wasn’t black enough to be black or white enough to be white. I remember I used to stick up for myself:  I am not half-caste, I am not half anything, I am a whole me

All of these labels we use just take me back to that school playground, creating gangs and alliances so that everyone knows whether you have been elected to fit in or not and then lists appear to cement these boxes. Writing this I am reminded of the mantra of the Jamaican Maroons (some of my Jamaican ancestors were Maroon, the rebels that fought the British and began the uprising and the beginning of the end of slavery, but that's a whole other blog...) I have read that the Maroon people believed they should never bow head or knee, to hear only their own voice, to stand in the shadow of none and to be masters of their own destiny. And so what else could this writer ever be but a bit of a rebel with a sense of living on the outside. I look forward to a day we can publish and read books and poetry without  labels and boxes. I think they distract from the actual work, from the discipline and the guts required to live the writing life. Truth is wherever you come from, writing hurts, if you are doing it right. And as writers we all know there is a great beauty in the solitude of creativity, the being alone is where the good work blossoms. 
 The Outsider - I can picture you now, you are sitting and swinging your legs on the edge of the stage just like Little Miss Cornshucks, singing your heart out, sharing your stories, writing those wonderful words, giving everybody a glimpse of your world from the outside.

(c) Salena Godden 
New edit from an original commission by The Society Of Authors 
Published in 'The Author' Summer Edition 2014

 Salena Godden's 'Fishing in The Aftermath / Poems 1994  -2014' is a collection of over 80 poems to celebrate 20 years of poetry and performance, it was published in July 2014 with Burning Eye, it is available in all good bookshops or you can order it online HERE.  My literary memoir 'Springfield Road' has arrived! I have been so overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of my subscribers, I posted some of fantastic first reactions and photos on my tumblr HERE. 'Springfield Road' officially hits the shops on September 30th 2014 with Unbound. The 'Springfield Road' ebook is available HERE and the London book launch is on October 1st - Please scroll down for all my wicked Autumn gig dates and parties. Lastly 'Try A Little Tenderness – The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks' was originally aired throughout May 2014 on BBC Radio 4. It will be broadcast globally on the BBC World Service four times this week: Wednesday September 24th at 03.32 / 14.32am / 23.32am  and Saturday September 28th at 11.32 GMT. When you tune in please follow the programme with this brilliant storify HERE
Thank you for subscribing to 'Waiting for Godden' we've had over 100, 000 visitors now. Wow!
Happy scrumping and conkering! sgxx

Happy 80th Birthday Leonard Cohen

Autumn 2014: Radio & Gigs & Festivals & Parties

September 22nd:

September 24th:
various times / BBC World Service

September 26/28th:
with Kevin Eldon, Robin Ince, Francesca Martinez and more...

September 28th:
19.30 / BBC World Service

September 30th:

October 1st:

October 2nd:
Robertson Street and The Carlisle, Hastings.

October 3rd:
with Clive Anderson, Arthur Smith and Benjamin Zephaniah 

October 8th:
with Shami Chakrabarti, Chimene Sulyman, Laura Bates...
October 10th:

October 11th: 

October 22nd: 
with Tim Wells, Laura Bolger, Keith Jarrett and Emily Berry

October 28th: 

November 5th:
The Book Club Boutique / Bonfire night Burning Eye party

November 22/23rd:
Cosmic Trigger with Daisy Campbell, Liverpool


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Smashing conkers and juicy Septemberries!

Suddenly its saffron and golden and it is September, but what a wonderful summer it was... 

In June there was the mighty Hammer and Tongue tour then onwards to The Stoke Newington Literary Festival with the one and only Linton Kwesi Johnson. Colin Grant's 'The N-Word' documentary was aired on Radio 4. Hollie McNish, Viv Albertine and I talked memoir and poetry on 'The Verb' with Ian McMilan on BBC Radio 3, listen again here. Then there was the Highbury and Islington First Story anthology book launch, the magnificent Speaky Spokey in Brighton was rocking and The Mary Millington launch with Karen Hayley, Phil Jupitus and Tim Wells and Tangerine Press was smoking hot too. Later in July the Book Club Boutique launched the publication of 'Fishing In The Aftermath' at Vout O Reenee's. So far, so good, it is the fastest selling title to date for my poetry publisher Burning Eye. We have been receiving some great reviews from Now Then and Opus Independents to Dan Carrier in The Camden New Journal and Tim Wells in Rising Magazine. There is also an interview with Alan Bett in The Skinny which came out in August too. 

What else? Well, it feels to me like one minute I was in London on Chris Redmond's The Dojo on Soho Radio and the next thing I know I am in wellington boots, drinking cider in hay stacks and raving in woods, backstage at the mighty Latitude Festival with John Cooper Clarke and Roger McGough, then weird and wonderful was Ways with Weirds in Port Eliot, then I was anti-fracking with Jamie Kelsey Frye at The Green Gathering and then drinking cocktails with Irvine Welsh and Bill Hillman at Bookslam in Wilderness Festival with Gavin Turk and then I was partying with the Nasty Little Press crew and Luke Wright and Daniel Cockrill and the Bang Said The Gun gang and I sae Jock Scot and Neu! Reekie! at Edinburgh Book Festival and then Ali Smith was lovely and Jacky Kay was lovely and Simon Munnery and Stewart Lee too... and then... I met so many new friends... and I met so many old friends... and this summer was nothing but highlights. Thank you to all comrades who were there in the bars and in the pubs and in the trenches, I love festivals and there is more to come...

The Green Gathering

Edinburgh Book Festival with Hollie Mc Nish and Iona Lee

Edinburgh Book Festival
Ways with Weirds at Port Eliot
Gavin Turk and Dickie at Wilderness

With John Mitchinson and Dickie at Port Eliot

It is September 2014, and this is happening now...

This is the month we see the publication of 'Springfield Road'  

There are no words how this makes me feel. Ok there are three words: Anxious. Nervous. Excited. I am a mash-up of Anxnervcited. 'My butterflies have teeth'. It has been a magnificent mountain to climb from my first unsteady steps and early drafts back in 2006, to rewriting the entire book alone up a mountain in Andalucia in 2010 to here, crowd funded and a finished book in my hand and in print. This is happening with thanks to people power, friends and family and the kindness of strangers who pledged and tweeted and facebooked and helped spread the word. Thank you. I believe these beautiful books arrive at Unbound HQ next week, so look out for the postman delivering your gorgeous first editions. I reckon the official publication date is to be September 30th but please follow the Unbound page to find out more a bit closer to the time!

In April earlier this year, I was with the BBC in snowy Chicago making 'Try A Little Tenderness: The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks' I'm delighted to hear that it will be broadcast three times this September on the BBC World Service. So for those of you that are abroad and missed it when it was aired in the UK springtime on BBC Radio 4, here's your chance to hear it aired globally on the World Service this autumn.

Autumn 2014  / Gigs and Festivals coming up:

September 5/7th 

September 22nd 

September 23rd
Broadcast 23.30 / BBC World Service

September 24th 
Broadcast 03.30 / BBC World Service
'Try A Little Tenderness: The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks'

September 26th

September 27/28th

September 28th
Broadcast 19.30 / BBC World Service
'Try A Little Tenderness: The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks'

October 1st tbc.

October 3rd
Clive Anderson, Arthur Smith and Benjamin Zephaniah 

October 10th

October 22nd

November 22/23rd

"Salena Godden has acquired many strings to her bow over the years, spoken word trailblazer, posh establishment broadcaster and literary shindig hostess par excellence to name but a few, but as Fishing In the Aftermath ably illustrates, she is first and foremost a poet. Spanning the first twenty years of her career, the poems included in the collection are multi-layered, darkly comic, brutally real and endlessly imaginative. Godden lives in the same world as the rest of us, but she sees it slightly differently, and her Fishing In the Aftermath is a stunning and timely collection from one of our most original and talented poets." Loud and Quiet Magazine

"Anyone who has ever felt frustrated that literature does not speak to them, or that politicians do not represent them, or that to have a relationship with another human being is incredible, cannot help but have their spirits lifted by this collection. It is joyous to read, at times angry, at times tender, always driven by the most compelling of personalities. And for anyone aspiring as a writer, may Godden’s sign-off in ‘A Letter to a Young Poet’ ring true – “keep the ink wet and keep it burning.” Opus Indie

“Poetry is not for the fame hungry or lightweight. Back then there was some method in my madness and a fierce discipline through the booze and the chaos” she says "It takes guts to stand by your convictions and my advice to any young writer is taken from Churchill: Never, never give up. My only other advice is: Don’t ask for advice listen to yourself." full feature Camden New Journal. 

"I could never understand how she got so much writing done. It was heroic, really… there was ‘Salena Saliva’ in Bukowski mode, a fictional character she developed on the hoof, and performed on the city’s stage. Then there was the fiercely disciplined Salena Godden who locked herself away for days and laboured at her poems, turning her experiences into art."  Unofficialbritain

Chris Redmond of Tongue Fu presents The Dojo, the home of spoken word and poetry on Soho Radio. In this show he interviews British poet, performer and writer Salena Godden about her past and present, including her newly published collection of work ‘Fishing In The Aftermath Poems 1994-2014’ available from Burning Eye Books. Features live readings and music from her archives, from Coldcut and SaltPeter  LISTEN AGAIN HERE

If you visit the new on Charing Cross Rd, 
you'll find Godden's  
in the poetry section nestled alongside Ginsberg & Goethe