Friday, 2 December 2016

The LIVEwire launch party and fundraiser

Salena Godden's LIVEwire album launch and RCK fundraiser in Soho
Join us on 7th December at Carnesky’s Finishing School Soho, in the basement of the old Foyles, for an electric night of celebration, poetry and music. Salena Godden's #LIVEwire album has already received 5* in The i Paper, and we're launching it with a bang - so click here to grab your tickets!
The LIVEwire album was released with independent spoken word label Nymphs & Thugs. Written, performed and produced by Salena Godden, this new album features live and studio recordings, archives and brand new unpublished work. LIVEwire also includes performances from books ‘Springfield Road’ published by Unbound and ‘Fishing in The Aftermath poems 1994-2014’ published by Burning Eye Books. LIVEwire is currently available on CD and download, go to Nymphs & Thugs for details. The eagerly awaited double vinyl release will be in 2017.
At the LIVEwire launch we're excited to announce, we'll have live spoken word from Salena, as well as Unbound poet Iona Lee and Nymphs & Thugs very own Matt Abbott. We'll hear live music from Gemma Rogers and The Bundy Brothers and guest DJ sets. We're honoured to announce that we'll also hear live readings from some of the fantastic contributors from award-winning Unbound crowd funded book 'The Good Immigrant' - Huge congratulations to Nikesh Shukla on his recent success, The Good Immigrant is the 2016 winner of The Readers Choice Book Of The Year!
We're using this LIVEwire launch as an excuse to gather excellent people together for a party to raise money for Refugee Community Kitchen, in order to aid their vital work in the Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps as well as here in the UK. They have served millions of hot meals to the homeless and the refugees and they need our help to continue this work. We hope to raise money with a raffle and give proceeds from our ticket sales too. The RCK has just been awarded the Community Project of the year by the European Diversity Awards. They're doing phenomenal work and this is only possible through the hard work of the volunteers and your generous donations,  Please check out RCK here
2016 has been a tumultuous year (to put it mildly) and so for fun we've decided to stage the first ever #LIVEwire awards, which sees us handing out shiny trophies to folk that've blown our socks off in 2016. This feels like a good time to highlight the people that have been true LIVEwires! There will also be brand new #LIVEwire merchandise on sale. 
This is a celebration; a coming together, a poetry party, a meeting of minds and a chance to dance and share some love and positivity. So don't miss out! 
The event starts at 7:30pm and the bar is open 'til late.
See you there...
Thank you!

"A spoken word album that truly is electric." 5* The i Paper
"Everybody needs to hear #LIVEwire." Prowl House
"Godden is at the vanguard of this particular publishing moment." The Empathy Library
"Go see this girl - she's an angel in boxing gloves." Mike Garry


Dec 8th: 'The Good Immigrant'  The Big Green Bookshop, London

Dec 17th: Stroud Valley Artspace with Elvis McGonagall & Johnny Fluffypunk

Monday, 21 November 2016

Hey, that's no way to say goodbye...

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm, 
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm, 
yes many loved before us, I know that we are not new, 
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you, 
but let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie, 

your eyes are soft with sorrow, 
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

Rest in power, rest in beauty, rest in peace, 
Beautiful poet, Leonard Cohen

Hey, you super moon super stars, how are you all doing?

I hope you are ok. I mean really, are you ok? It is all crap. I know. We all feel it. The news is dreadful. Abysmal. Catastrophic. There is so much to process. I don't know about you but this month I have been doing some crying, bursting into tears over tiny and beautiful things, crying when people are nice and good and kind, the smallest kind word or song and there I go welling up with tears again. Thank you to all the strong and inspiring people who are trying to make a difference, get back to work, fight the good fight and share some positivity. Everything is going to be alright in the end, and if it isn't alright then it isn't the end. Is that a cliche' or is it just a bit true? 

This month I have been glued to the internet, reading your tweets and messages, seeing some hand wringing, some negativity, reading some truly beautiful posts too .. mostly I'm seeing people being positive. Bottom line is we have a lot of work to do. The latest news has me building a war bunker and getting ready to stock up on tinned food and batteries, preparing for the apocalypse. Today I'm not so despondent, but we do need to fight harder, for the vulnerable,  for the outsiders and minorities, for the sick and elderly, for the disabled, for the homeless, the poor and hungry, for the refugees, for things that might not touch our cosy lives today, our safe Hygge, but that that will affect us all soon enough.

Last week my mum, a pensioner in her seventies, was on a train with my sister. My youngest sister Jo-ann was born with Williams Syndrome and has learning difficulties. They were together on the train home from a day trip to Hastings when a young couple, mid-thirties, boarded the train at St Leonards. As the train bumbled along through Sussex countryside, they began intimidating and frightening my mother and sister. They started talking loud and rough and being intentionally racist. My mother ignored them as best she could. Then the man said directly to my mother 'What are you looking at you black bitch?' 

My mum goes on to describe the scene to me. I would have placed in another time and era and another country. She tells me how she had to bite her tongue and keep her eyes down on her book, squeezing my sisters hand, telling her to look out of the window. She said how she remembers from experience how to react to this sort of thing from the sixties. She recalled how to be passive and shrink. And this telling hurts - I don't want to picture my powerful and beautiful mother re-learning how to cower for fear of things escalating. My mum says she hasn't been spoken to like that since 1968. 

So are you with me? Can you picture this - this is a grown man and his girlfriend in their thirties, being volatile, getting a kick out of bullying and intimidating two women, a pensioner and her daughter with disabilities. He was rambling loudly to his girlfriend, who encouraged him along, interjecting with "and what else do you think?..." As he brazenly continued ranting loudly about how "America has the right idea..." and Trump this and black that, emboldened by recent events and made brave by The Daily Hate and Farage and all their delightful friends. Nobody in the train carriage interrupted him. No-one said anything or spoke up or stepped in. Mum says there was a 13 or 14 year old school boy across from them and that she felt bad for him. My mum was concerned about this boy, the school child, the example this was setting, she saw the boy shrinking down lower and lower into his winter coat. Making himself invisible, this is how people learn to be invisible, this is where we learn to be silent. And for the record the couple were well dressed. They weren't what we regard as thugs or criminals, there was no knife or gun. This wasn't a TV show. This wasn't 1930's or America either, but here in our own green garden, 4pm teatime, on a train in leafy Sussex.  

It could have been worse, I know that, but I share this episode as an example of ignorance and intolerance. I share it here to say this is not usual nor acceptable. Thank you to all the people that sent messages and tweets on my twitter when I blurted this out in frustration and outrage. It has been dealt with now, thank you. However I share this for all the times people on programmes like BBC Question Time deny that these incidents are becoming commonplace again. It is like the rise of the ghost of Alf Garnett without the canned laughter. 

Advice: If you see something like this, verbal abuse, race and hate crime, if you can please say something or do something. You could just go and sit with the victim. Or maybe ask them if they want to switch seats or walk with them to another train carriage. If you are frightened yourself, please just quietly get up and go and get the train guardSomeone tweeted me this number, make a note of it should you witness anything like this. Please don't be frozen into staying silent. This is not acceptable language and this is not acceptable behaviour. Please text transport police on 61016.

Basically I want us to learn from our shared history, we must listen to people who know the signs. I mean if a person with life experience of bad weather tells you "There is a storm coming..." the response should not be that its "not newsworthy" or that "all lives matter". When you see a person run out into the street yelling "Help! My head is on fire!" you don't shout and wave back "My head is potentially quite flammable too! All heads matter!" 

As usual I urge you to follow your poets and artists, to support people working for the spirit of our communities. Love is the answer. Don't promote these wealthy politicians by sharing every shit article and crap inhumane thing they said, share the work of volunteers and charities and the good people trying to make the world a better place instead. Stop giving them free press and free reign all over your social media. They are eating up all the airtime, sucking up all the oxygen, so nothing good can breathe. Read books and avoid reading click bait articles that feed the fear. Don't be so afraid you are frozen by fear. People keep saying its getting like the 1930's but it isn't. It is here and now, this is 2016, there is a fundamental difference, we have pizza delivery and we have disco, and don't you forget it, baby...

Hate crime is rising, then so must the love, make the love rise higher and louder and brighter. Lets turn on the light. Turn up the heat. Lets turn the volume way up and then rip the knob off. We all want a better world and so we're gonna have to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in and work for it. Now is the time to march, to gather and to sing louder. We have no time to waste, the time is now o'clock. Hold the line. Hold your own. Live life alive. Tune in. Live and wired in. I AM A LIVEwire. Offline. Over and out. 

Please scroll down for my news, links to books, LIVEwire gigs and parties and all the good stuff. Thank you for being brilliant and thanks for sharing my stuff, looking forward to seeing you soon, you beautiful people! sgxx


London Launch Party 
Wednesday December 7th 2016
7pm 'til late

Nymphs & Thugs

with special guests
rebels & renegades 
DJ's & live music & raffle

Carnesky's Finishing School Soho
Basement of the old Foyles 
6 - 12 Manette Street

50% of proceeds to go to 



Dec 8th 'The Good Immigrant'  The Big Green Bookshop, London

Dec 17th Stroud Valley Artspace with Elvis McGonagall & Johnny Fluffypunk

Winning gongs and prizes and awards galore, at Lorcano Film Festival and Dok Film Festival! Winner of the Silver Dove! Winner of the German Human Rights Film Award! Director Heidi Specogna has also just been given the Pearl Award for women in film! Bravo! This is great news, the film is breath taking, heart breaking, hopeful and inspiring. The German narration is by Eva Mattes and the English is by Salena Godden. You must check it out, its being broadcast in Germany right now ... I look forward to the UK premiere!

'Jock Scot Services to Rock and Roll' the movie

Please can I draw your attention to this #crowdfund for the notorious poet and raconteur Jock Scot and the feature film documentary JOCK SCOT SERVICES TO ROCK AND ROLL 

The documentary is directed by Robert Rubbish and it features archives and exclusive interviews with Shane Macgowan, Peter Doherty, Anna Chancellor, Keith Allen, Salena Godden, Baxter Dury, Humphrey Ocean, Suggs, British Sea Power, John Cooper Clarke, Murray Lachlan Young, Neneh Cherry, Kosmo Vinyl and more...  - Lets all get together and make this happen! Thank you! 

things to check out, read or listen to

LIVEwire review: 'truly electric'  The IPaper:

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Podcasts and reviews and news: Autumn 2016

Salena Godden Portrait for The Poetry Society by Hayley Madden,
National Poetry Day, The Southbank

I'm finally back at my desk after weeks and weeks of festivals and gigs and making radio and film and lots of trains and travel and having fun and laughs and boozy times and seeing lots of my friends, my favourite poets and book people ... Today feels like the first quiet day in a very long time. I'm flicking through my phone and finding photographs and evidence of this hurricane, this whirlwind I've been spinning in. Today I want to drink tea and read in my pyjamas. My high heels are at the cobblers, stage dresses at the dry cleaners, the glitter is washed away and for today the gig-monster is back in her box. 

I have a lot of people to thank and if you are reading this I thank you! 
Lately I've been meeting the kindest and most inspiring people. Poetry legends, new friends and my heroes. This past few weeks I have loved your faces and the chats and poems and songs, the hugs and heart filling times, highlights include gigs and laughs with Kathryn Williams and the Durham Festival gang, PJ Harvey, Ian Mcmillan, Lemn Sissay, Joelle Taylor, Vanessa Kisuule, Sabrina Mahfouz, Inua Ellams, Hollie McNish, Tim Wells, Laurie Bolger and all The Good Immigrants, to name just a few...That's what I love about festivals, the people.

Fantastic news to discover that The Good Immigrant's editor Nikesh Shukla has been shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights award 'for challenging common misapprehensions of why people come to the UK and what it means to be an immigrant here today' and this is the best and most brilliant news of all. Well done to Nikesh, he has worked tirelessly to move this forwards. Good Luck! Well done to Unbounders, the supporters, writers and contributors and everyone involved. Don't forget this was an independently published crowdfunded book, that the people united and paid for this book to be in print, this is people power... 

Lately I have been having a blast. It has been a most busy and industrious time, summer  festivals melded into autumn festivals without taking any break at all. I have been up and down this England reading new work published in four beautiful anthologies right now, with thanks to Neu Reekie Untitled Two, Influx Press An Unreliable Guide to London, Unbound The Good Immigrant and the Word Life anthology too. And I have been meeting and performing with my favourite comrades thanks to parties and events with Word Life, The Southbank, Cheltenham Festival, Durham Book Festival, Bookslam, Manchester Lit Festival and Archway with Words. Thank you to all who are here and there! - Thank you to Tony who came to my Manchester Hollie McNish double bill gig at Gorilla with a carrier bag laden with everything I ever made, CD's, 7inch vinyl, zines and books. Your collection of black British poetry must be a sight to behold and I was excited to meet you and to be part of the archives!

Now ... I can safely assume that my latest new work is rattling some cages and hitting a nerve, that the combination of Shade my piece in The Good Immigrant, my Citizen Of Nowhere poem about Theresa May, my poem for the refugees in Titanic and my calling out the racist homophobes in my poem Joe, all performed in one set is one pretty fiery mix. The other day a woman came and told me off to my face. She told me I offended her, she said that we didn't need "to be hearing about breasts and vaginas and women's bodies, and..." she continued "why are you talking about the gays? We don't need to be hearing about the gays!" She glared at me and told me she nearly walked out. Nearly. 

Looking back and thinking about it now, I wish I'd told her that I was offended that she should tell me what to write and speak about and therefore what to feel and be angry about. More to the point I get offended by apathy, by people who live in an I'm alright Jack bubble. I was offended that she felt that she had no need to hear and therefore say or do anything, to speak up for the rights of women, for the rights of refugees and immigrants, and for all human rights. I know one shouldn't dwell on negative feedback, but I'm mentioning this episode here so you can see that its not plain sailing, it's hard work doing poetry sometimes, it can be raw and vulnerable, like sticking your neck out, being in the trenches and in the line of fire. Outside of our twitter and facebook echo chamber there are people that haven't heard of The Good Immigrant yet, I mean, you might think we've retweeted the tag #thegoodimmigrant to death, but we still have a long way to go and a lot of people to reach. Keep tweeting, keep spreading the word, keep fighting the good fight! Last week I recorded a podcast with Joelle Taylor for the Poetry Society and we talk about this very thing...the importance of making writing that reaches people that don't usually read, poetry for people that don't usually like poetry, that's the real battle, have a listen here: Joelle Taylor in conversation with Salena Godden / Poetry Society Podcast 

The golden rule is DON'T READ THE COMMENTS when you get something published, but this is impossible if the commentators come up to you after the gig and give you their negative critique or tell you off ... very much like a condescending school mistress. Well, needless to say I won't stop talking about 'the gays' or 'the tits' or 'the blacks' Check out my new album LIVEwire  - This poetry is coming from a place of passion, fury and outrage. If you aren't furious every day you read the news, you must be sleeping. The world is on fire, Calais is being burned to the ground, Brexit is insane, we have a Prime Minister nobody voted for, hate crimes are at an all time high and food banks are a real necessity, the rich get richer, the poor get even poorer ... I'm not going to stand on stage and do poems about pink roses and sunsets. Not now. Not ever. Seriously. I watched Hypernormalisation last night, the Adam Curtis Documentary, very gloomy, bottom line is we're all fucked, oops, spoiler alert, but its worth a watch, you'll find it on BBC i-player.

Now for cheerier things. The Durham Book Festival Songwriting retreat with Kathryn Williams blew my tiny mind and filled my heart and nourished my soul. I was sent to live in a house in Durham with seven strangers to make music and then perform the work in progress as part of the festival. The housemates were so inspiring and super talented, I was working alongside musicians Kathryn Williams, Tom McCrae, Polly Paulusma and James Yorkston and authors Laura Barnett and Kirsty Logan. It was a magical autumnal time and I'll never forget it. Writing can be such a lonely and solitudal activity and working together as a group we got creative and made some beautiful songs and had a wonderful and memorable time, wine and laughter and tears and music. I hear our songs now as I write this... I must share these songs once I have loaded them up. 

We made a performance piece from an excerpt of my essay 'Shade' from The Good ImmigrantI remember during this performance I could see there was just one woman of colour in the whole audience and that tears were streaming down her face as I read. It made the words catch in my throat. I meant to go and talk to her after the show but she disappeared into the crowds. This performance of these words performed live and set to music, guitars and chorus was a moment I won't ever forget, listen to it now and it will make your heart swell, it felt like a rumble and a rallying cry... 

Coming up tomorrow I'm supporting Sabrina Mahfouz to launch her fantastic new book How You Might Know Me at Outspoken, The Forge in Camden. I've made a catch up scrapbook of things for your eyes and ears, scroll down this page, for my latest things to read, reviews, podcasts, things to listen to and some photos I found on my phone. Thank you for following this blog and supporting and encouraging this sort of behaviour. 

My album LIVEwire can be purchased either digital download and CD from Nymphs and Thugs or from Salena's Bookshoppe - it will be available on i-tunes from this Friday. The LIVEwire album features new work, poems from my live set, glorious archives and also pieces from my books. Vinyl is being pressed. We are throwing a gorgeous party soon, the official vinyl launch party, but I will keep shtum now and tell you all about that in my next update! Thank you! 

Keep fighting the good fight!

ps: for this blog my spirit animal is Jennifer Beals in Flashdance 'She's a maniac!" 


Oct 26th OutSpoken Sabrina Mahfouz Book Launch, Camden

Nov 23rd Cadogan Hall with Hollie McNish 

November 29th Lancaster University

Durham songwriters retreat ... dinner in the pub

Durham songwriters retreat

Durham Songwriters Retreat

Durham Cathedral with Kathryn Williams


The Good Immigrant BBC Radio 4 'Book of the week' BBC Iplayer here


Signing books in Cheltenham Book Festival
Robyn Travis and Salena Godden 

Joelle Taylor in conversation with Salena Godden
Poetry Society Podcast 

Hollie Mcnish and Salena Godden,  Manchester Lit Fest

LIVEwire review /  Empathy Library

LIVEwire review: 'truly electric'  The IPaper:

Man Booker Bookslam - Paul Beatty, Salena Godden, Elliott Jack

Latest things to read and listen to:

Raymond Antrobus reviews The Good Immigrant for Media Diversified

Meet Nikesh Shukla interview in Platform

Darren Chetty and Wei Ming Kam on The Book Club on Soho Radio

Joelle Taylor and Salena Godden on Poetry Society Podcast

'Shade' from 'The Good Immigrant' performed live at Durham Book Festival

The Good Immigrant / BBC Radio 4 'Book Of The Week' 

'Who grumbles if  white people win prizes?'  Salena Godden in The Guardian

LIVEwire review The Empathy Library

LIVEwire review: 'truly electric'  The IPaper:

LIVEwire review - PROWL HOUSE