Wednesday, 2 September 2015

New poem "The Bird and the Bee" for BBC Click and BBC World Service

The Bird and the Bee

Johnson built himself a drone
Took the camera out of his phone
Attached it to a bee and drone
To watch the girl next door

Susie never knew the score
Or what that buzzing noise was for
She sunbathed topless, all galore
Took selfies by her pool

Johnson built himself a drone
A camera bee, hand-stitched and sewn
He wouldn’t leave that thing alone
To watch the girl next door

Susie sunbathes in midday heat
All oiled and tan and nude and neat
A friend is massaging her feet
As Susie sighs and moans

Johnson built himself a drone
A sticky surveillance of his own
He spends all summer in his shed alone
Watching the girl next door

Said Mrs Johnson one day at tea
I wish you’d spend some time with me
All you do all day is play with your bee
Johnson brushed her words away

When Susie has her friends to play
Some are straight but most are gay
Wild parties night and day
Mrs Johnson slips next door

Poor Johnson didn’t know the score
Or what that buzzing noise was for
Mrs Brenda Johnson, topless, all galore
With Susie by the pool

Johnson watching from his shed
By the pool, the newly weds
I do, said she, I do, she said
You may kiss the brides

Johnson could not believe his eyes
The happy couple, champagne, bow ties,
Through a hole in the fence he spies
His bee drone floating in their pool

Johnson builds himself a life
Whittles candle wax with a knife
Adds hair and DNA from his ex wife
Johnson builds himself a clone.

© Salena Godden. 2015

Poem written on theme of drones for “The Drones Are Coming”  on BBC Click Radio
broadcast live from BBC Radio Theatre on BBC World Service - September 1st 2015

This episode covered civilian uses for drones, positive, creative and imaginative uses for drones, featured John Cale's innovative musical drone orchestra and using drones to drop seeds to plant more trees ... find out more on BBC iplayer!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

courage is a muscle

The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a unique phenomenon. 
Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home.


Last week I was working in Berlin, I was asked to narrate a film. It was a two-hour feature documentary on the bravery and courage of the women in Central Africa Republic. The atrocities they endured, the sacrifices, the war crimes and rape as a weapon of war. The film is titled Cahier Africain and is directed by award-winning German director Heidi Specogna. It was a rich and inspiring experience for me and it was a wake up call. The narrative of this film follows the story of a group of women who collected all their testimonies in an ordinary school exercise book (pictured above) These women miraculously got this book into The Haig and now seek trial and justice. Heidi is amazing and I learned so much, it was an honour to meet her and to be part of this film. Heidi told me the women have a saying: Courage is a muscle and now I cannot get this phrase out of my head. How much braver we could all be, how circumstance forces a person to survive, to be bold, to speak out and stand up for protection, for peace, for justice, for this world and our home. I was in an audio booth reading the script whilst watching harrowing images, breath-taking, beautiful cinematography, devastating details of human survival and migration. The reality of war and corruption and displacement unfolding on the screen. The pictures telling the refugee stories inside this story were heart inspiring and heart breaking at once. The film will premiere at Sundance Film Festival. The German film narration is by actress Eva Mattes, you might know her name from films by Werner Herzog and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Heidi Specogna, Cahier Africain, Berlin 2015

Salena Godden, Cahier Africain, Berlin 2015
And so it is because of my time in Berlin, this work and this film, that when I returned to London I was wide awake. Suddenly this week these stories were not in some documentary, these war stories were banging on our doors and shores, not something happening far away and nothing to be done, nothing to be done, Estragon scratching his head in Waiting For Godot, but something to be done, something must be done. And there has to more we can all do than wait and share disturbing images of dead babies washed up on the beaches. The truth is, the more everybody shares these harrowing images, the more we must admit we can see this. We cannot un-see this, we all see everything, the world is watching... maybe we should make a rule that if you post a dead body on your social media, out of respect, you should also pay for it and donate to the refugees, here's one link: 

Posts comparing this refugee crisis with the second world war and Nazi concentration camps with illegal immigrant slash refugee camps resonate and are in my timeline daily now. But this isn't the 1930's - we are not permitted to ignore it, we cannot wring our hands and claim ignorance. Every single one of us has a device to world news in our pockets. We are living in the future, here and now, with all these sophisticated ways to share the truth and communicate now more than ever. I trust us, I trust we will somehow find peaceful solutions. We have to, we have to have hope, you have to believe you can help, that your voice matters. If we lose hope we lose everything. I know I am a ranting idealist, but I do have hope and I believe in the good in people, the power of people power. Only last night I was up in the middle of the night watching footage live from from Malaysia, aerial shots of the streets pouring with yellow, millions of people marching, unified, speaking out and standing up for truth and a right to a fair government.

If life was a movie, Meryl Streep would play a nun who goes to Calais and hides refugees in boxes of bibles to smuggle people to safety, and we'd give this movie a Oscar and weep at her bravery and courage. But it isn't a movie. It's happening now.

I am appalled at the news, the treatment of refugees, the exploitation of desperate people running from war to only meet death, drowning at the hands of traffickers happy to cash in on their vulnerability. Pregnant women and children....I've been listening to the news on the radio and hearing horrific accounts. I heard one refugee in a camp in Greece telling a BBC reporter "we are human beings, we are not animals, we are human beings..." As though we needed to see him as a man, as a human, not as a problem or burden.

Then this was followed by another report of refugees paying to breathe, they here hidden and locked up, suffocating, in transit, and only those refugees with money on them could share use of the breathing hole. Picture that. It's the worst of human nature, the vultures circle to make profit and take money from desperate people, they are escaping torture and murder to only be tortured and murdered. Meanwhile I see pictures of our prime minister surfing in Cornwall, that's our man there, in the same sea, the same water that people are drowning in at his hands.

I loathe the language that is used, the deserving and undeserving, the illegal immigrants, migrants v's refugees, debating which deserves more of our time and energy, our sympathy and charity. Many are children, all have been left with nothing because of war and corruption. You've got radios and televisions and Internet, I'm preaching to the converted, I have intelligent and kind friends and I know I am not the only one shaking my head in disgust, you must be hearing these horrible stories too, it's horrendous.

I know it is cause and effect, the root cause of the displacement is the big issue. The war and war crimes. The greed, the gold and the oil, the famine and poverty, climate change and the whole sorry bloody mess. Fuck all the wars. Fuck the governments for ignoring climate change too.

Writing this feels like putting a plaster on a bullet hole, putting your thumb over a leaking dam - but there has to be a way to ensure the refugees are safe and treated with dignity and there had to be some way we can unite and help. So, I am filling some bags and boxes with books, warm clothes and blankets to send off, it's getting cold at night and its gonna get colder. It feels trivial and small, but it is a start. 

Lots of my friends do all the festivals, you might have tents and camping stuff you don't need anymore, these could be shelters. When I was at Green Gathering I was told that tents that were left at Glastonbury were donated to the refugees in Calais. Lots of festival party people bought brand new tents just for Glastonbury weekend, and when volunteers cleared them up on Monday morning, they were left in the field, barely used, with the price tags still on, here's some links to aid, I'll add more as I find them...

 Please follow CalAid for information and collection points
Refugee crowd fund:

To find good people in your area, join this active group on Facebook: 

poetry, coming up next:

The Drones Are Coming: I'm poet-in-residence on BBC Click on BBC World Service this Tuesday, September 1st, on air, 7pm. The programme will be recorded live at BBC Radio Theatre.  THE DRONES ARE COMING! Hosted by the brilliant Gareth Mitchell-BBC and Bill Thompson. Get yourself a ticket and be part of the BBC audience! We can see you! Click here for a ticket. 

Festival No.6: September 4th-6th, I'm at Festival No.6 in Portmerion,Wales and then that's ALL my UK festival gigs for the summer done. Thank you for every cider and whiskey soaked wild time, for every hay bale bundle and sunshine filled joyous sunrise, what an epic summer 2015 has been.... Next stop...USA.

US road trip to New Orleans, stopping at...

October 13: Litquake, City Lights, San Francisco

October 24: Wisconsin Book Festival

October 31: Louisiana Book Festival


Kate Tempest, Iona Lee and me, Edinburgh 2015

LATEST youtube, my late night raucous set at Green Gathering

Monday, 10 August 2015

Poem: Funny Thing Being A Writer / August, dog days and whiskey...

'funny thing being a writer'


Funny thing being a writer

Most of the time you don’t get to do any writing

A lot of the time you wonder where the writing went

Oftentimes you miss the writing

And missing writing feels like nothing else

Sometimes its like an absence of a horse between your thighs

Or a wave crashing over your head

Or a sweet swallow, a taste in your throat

Or an ache in your chest that hurts

Missing writing is a bit like missing a person

But the person is the real you

And you pick up a pencil and your notebook

Looking for substance and worth

For some sort of healing balm

You know you only have an afternoon

Or less until you are required

Not to write anymore

And that writing is hot

That writing is like an affair

It’s a hard-motel-fuck of a write

You make that time mean something

And you don’t wash your hands after

So you can smell yourself on your fingers

Then its off back to the front of the shop

Dressing the windows, selling your wares

You are the head chef of your own restaurant

You’ve got hungry customers that need servicing

Got something in the oven waiting to rise

Got some good stuff ready to publish on ice

Your larder is full of writings you did years ago

Back when you were cold and poor and thin

When all you wanted to do was be a writer

When all you ever did was write all day and night

And nobody expected you to do anything else but write

Back when you thought writing was all that writers had to do.

(c) Salena Godden. 2015
'Funny Thing Being A Writer' 

Hastings with Luke Wright and John Cooper Clarke

Lovebox Festival with Daniel Cockrill and Gemma Rogers

Lovebox, class of 2015

Hello to you and hello these the dogs days of summer -
Here's some gig dates and news for August as the hay is spun gold, the world is all bronzed, the tomatoes blush red and the sunflowers blossom and bloom. 

Since my last update, I've been in Hastings with John Cooper Clarke and Luke Wright; I've been performing at Cornbury Festival where Tom Jones ruled the waves; we had it large at Lovebox Festival. I've also been in Brighton at Oli Spleen's Fag Machine paying tribute to our much missed friend Sam Culpeck. Then we were in picturesque Cornwall, reading with my phenomenal 'Ways With Weirds' comrades at Port Eliot Festival. I love Port Eliot and Way's With Wierds is like a pocket of wisdom and goodness I will carry for the rest of my year. The moon was whole and full, the music perfect and the sensational line-up was out of this world. Ways With Weirds, find them on twitter, find the others.

Ways with Weirds

Oil Spleen, Fag Machine

Sam Culpeck, Fag Machine

This week I have a new work published in The Pool - I wanted to write about suicide because I wanted to salute a friend of mine that we recently lost. I wanted to write about the curse of being seen as an 'extrovert' and express that it isn't always the quiet ones you have to watch. I wanted to talk about appearances and the way we measure success and failure with such cold, sharp brutality. The piece has garnered such a warm response, thank you so much for your messages and tweets. I think this piece resonated with people that have loved and lost and lived through this, survivors, and though it was a raw subject to tackle, I'm so glad it's out there. The piece also featured excerpts from Springfield Road which I haven't seen in print before. Amazing. Thank you. 

"When my father hung himself it was a pane of glass we carried between us for the rest of our lives. It took decades to talk and write about it. In the playground, some kid told me that people who kill themselves don’t go to heaven or hell, they go somewhere else. And, ever since then, I always pictured a party of extrovert ghosts ie my kind of people: beautiful characters, larger than life, creative, talented and funny spirits, and, as I write that, Robin Williams comes to mind, because it’s not always the quiet ones you have to watch.”  Read full article here

Kelly-Anne Davitt 'Beach Balls and Melons'

Back in London and on a bouncier note, here's some whopping great big fantastic tits! I was delighted to see Kelly-Anne Davitt's beautiful and bold new work ‘Beach Balls and Melons’ included in the 'Off Kilter, An Age Of Oil' show at Dadiani Fine Art on Cork Street  -  it's a fantastic collection, the exhibition will continue until September 7th. Please go to Cork Street and see these paintings for yourself and also click here to check out Kelly-Anne Davitt's NEW Beach Balls and Melons website


If you are in the states you'll find six poets poeticising the joys of whiskey in an advert for Laphroaig this month. Six poets, one whiskey, many opinions. It was a trap, I was lured into a room, with nothing but a typewriter and a bottle of whiskey and challenged to write a poem in just thirty minutes - here is a sneaky peek on youtube: 

This weekend I'm going to beautiful Wales to read at the lush Green Gathering. Then I will be in Scotland, doing a handful of shows at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. My gig was mentioned in the top five things to see in Edinburgh this month by The Skinny...

At the Edinburgh Fringe I'm looking forward to catching shows by Paula Varjack, Luke Wright, John Osborne, Dan Simpson and Nina Conti to name just a few, I'll tweet the good bits I manage to catch, follow me on twitter @salenagodden ... And then I'm in Berlin ... Only to zoom back and return to surreal Portmerion, just in time to gig with Luke Wright at the fabulous Festival No.6.  Phew! 

I am working on the logistics for this New Orleans road trip this October. I've been enjoying a daily to and fro of emails about possible gigs and book festivals and I'm in a lovely tangle of maps and time zones with seemingly limitless possibilities and routes. I am looking forward to the freedom of the open road with my Dickie. I'm excited about big skies and landscapes and truck stop diners. Absorbing myself in the roots of bluegrass and country and jazz and blues. And I know I'm gonna meet lots of new poetry friends, writers, musicians, book lovers and whiskey drinkers... please leave me a message below if any of my gigs are near your town, and maybe we'll hook up, share a poem and a shot of whiskey on the road ... See you here and there! 

Thank you for subscribing to 'Waiting For Godden'  (if you would like to subscribe put your email address in the box up there on the right underneath the instagram logo button!) 

Here's to raising a glass to these,
the glorious dog days of August, sgxx


For more words, pictures and audio archives:



Coming up:
August 14-16:  
Green Gathering, Wales

August 21:  

Edinburgh International Book Festival 

10am: Ten at Ten - Writers' Retreat

2pm: Salena Godden and William McLellan - Baillie Gifford Theatre


September 1: 
BBC World Service, Click Radio, BBC Theatre

September 4-6:  
Festival No.6, Portmerion, Wales

September 18 date tbc:  
Word Life, Sheffield

October US road trip: 
Heading to New Orleans, stopping at...

October 13: 
Litquake, City Lights, San Francisco 

October 24: 
Wisconsin Book Festival

October 31: 
Louisiana Book Festival 


Fishing In The Aftermath published by Burning Eye

Springfield Road published by Unbound Books