Wednesday, 30 September 2015

New pencil case and new sensible school shoes...

Banksy - Dismaland

It's the end of September - the last of the tomatoes hang limply off the vine, gnawed and snotted with snails. You come home from the shops with conkers in your pockets. New boot heels click on wet pavements. You listen to the radio whilst making apple crumble. Blackberry ink stains your tongue. The shop windows are all already Halloween orange. The Harvest Moon is high. 

And as I write this the moon is still super. It was a magnificent luna eclipse two days ago, and out of my window the moon is huge, compelling and bright, like the last lunatic on the dance floor, the moon right now, you should see it, she is dancing like nobody is looking. 

Autumn is here and I'm swapping the microphone for a pen. Unfortunately I've had to postpone my US road trip to New Orleans until next year. I hate doing the sensible thing but it is the right decision for now, I am very keen to use this time to focus on making new work. The switch is never easy is it? The performer in me is still seeking applause, my sensitive writer soul has been drowned out by my self promoting social media mania. I feel myself coming down with a bump, from one-woman tsunami to librarian and hermit, from festivals, boozing and touring to books, soup and silence. To make things weirder still, two weeks ago my lap top died and so I've been forced to go even slower and write methodically by hand. I sit scribbling new poems in my notebook, writing by candle light at the kitchen table, it's all been rather 1994, reminding me of the good-bad old days when there was no electricity or food, warming myself by drinking cheap red wine with a head full of heart. 

Last week I was invited by the author Heidi James to give a lecture on poetry and performance at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington. I discussed the importance of poetry and the need for it. I talked about the differences between writers, the thin line or grey area between the work of a comedian, a journalist and a poet. I believe the performance poet or ranting poet can tackle the facts like a journalist, but will bring the tenderness. Also the poet can approach a difficult subject using humour as a tool like a comic, but not be a slave to the laughter. Earlier this month there was a furore over the comedian Nicole Arbour and her 'Dear Fat People' youtube rant. I didn't get it, it's not fat people that she needed a kick up the ass, but the apathetic, the people who do-nothing, regardless of peoples looks its people's inactivity that grates me, as you'll find in my anti-apathy poem 'Can't be Bovvered' - a fine example of poetry bringing wit, warmth and heart to a trending topic. As poets we narrate the times, that's partly why we are here and what we are here for. One student raised his hand and asked me if I ever watched Californication he told me my approach to poetry reminded him of Hank Moody. I am still finding his comment most amusing. Heidi James has a new novel coming soon and I'm very excited to to read it, it will be the first of my autumn reads.  

My comrades over at Tongue Fu are putting on an event at Rich Mix on October 15th to raise money for the #RefugeeCrisis. It is going to be a supreme event, all my favourites are performing, the line-up is superb and Chris Redmond is a legend. Please support this cause and get yourself a ticket! All details here - And while I'm on the subject of legends and the #RefugeeCrisis, three cheers to team Banksy for Dismaland, what a brilliant collection. And great news that although it is closed now, all the structures and timber are going to the Calais Jungle. I have emptied my house of items to contribute to the crisis now, blankets, sleeping bags, clothes and books, my library has never been more organised! Find out how you can help or contribute, here's six practical links and places to donate:

● Save the Children: distributing essentials such as diapers, hygiene kits and food
● Red Cross Europe: providing emergency health services at central train stations
● Migrant Offshore Aid Station: dedicated to preventing migrant deaths at sea
● International Rescue Committee:  improving living conditions by setting up camps
● The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR): providing water, mosquito nets, healthcare
● Refugee Action: advice about asylum, the asylum process, asylum support
● The Worldwide Tribe in Calais: Travel blog documenting the story of the people in the Calais 'jungle' is connected to justgiving: crowdfunding site

In poetry news, an exciting new TV documentary about spoken word and ranting poetry, from the Beats to the present  day, will be aired on BBC4 on October 11th at 9pm, so look out  for that. It will feature Michael Horovitz and a whole host of favourite poetry superstars and comrades plus footage from The Poetry Incarnation at The Roundhouse, one of my favourite gig highlights of 2015.

This week I was in town making radio with Garry Bushell. We had an ace time, we talked about poetry and books and music and my heroes like John Cooper Clarke, Little Miss Cornshucks and Mae West and  loads more, this will aired on his programme The Garry Bushell Hour, GBH, on Litopia here 

My book Springfield Road was launched this time last year, on October 1st 2014, and what a roller coaster crowd funding and publishing this book has been, since its first draft in 2006 to here. Plus Fishing In The Aftermath too, publishing two books in one year! Phew! I just found some lovely amazon mentions, thank you for those too. Please scroll down to find  links to reviews and radio, a colourful electronic Mexican wave of press highlights. Thank you for your time and support. And thank you for following these adventures and subscribing to Waiting For Godden. If it is your first time visiting here, you can still subscribe for free, please just scroll down the right hand margin and put your email in the box. Thank you!

Until we meet again, 
Shine on, shine on, Harvest Moon, 


BBC R4's  'Loose Ends' feat. Salena Godden is available Here

BBC R3 'The Verb' Viv Albertine, Hollie McNish, Salena Godden on Mixcloud

BBC Scotland in conversation with Janice Forsyth in the 'Culture Studio' Here

BBC R4 'The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks'  Mixcloud

BBC World Service / Click Radio BBC iplayer: The Bird and the Bee 

BBC World Service / Click Radio 'Space Poem' iplayer clip click here

Resonance FM: radio interview /  Little Atoms podcast here

"Be braver, be too brave.." Diversity in The Bookseller click here

Naomi Frisby: The Writes Of A Woman 
"What’s most compelling about Springfield Road 
is the warmth and love Godden infuses it with." 

"The tale is rich with reflections on memory and tradition, presence and absence, relatives and the past... I don’t know why, but I sometimes felt like I was prying on Salena, but it’s a book, a published book, and I was offered it.Polly Trope

"One aspect of the book that I feel worked really well was the juxtaposition of chapters written from adult Salena’s perspective, bringing the reader out of the past and into the modern day, and hearing her thoughts on the process of writing the very pages we have been reading. The beauty of her writing makes it easy to forget that we are not reading a novel, but someone’s true life story..." 

'Fishing In The Aftermath' Sabotage Reviews  
Reviewed by Nicole Capo 

3AM MAGAZINE: Sophie Parkin

"Ideally these books should be read together. These books are the two sides of Salena” Sophie Parkin "Salena can write you into a child’s heart and out of the mouth of a teenager’s inquisitive nature. She can wring the tears from jaded cynics and make you understand the unique and endless joy of roller-skates and bicycles as a pathway to freedom." 

"Where do we start with how incredibly awesome Salena Godden is… We want to go on a pub crawl with her pronto and be led astray! Described as a ’21st Century female Bukowski’ her poems grab your heart and soul and make you want to call you friends immediately and reminisce about the wild parties, biggest loves and bad-ass hangovers (The Last Big Drinky is a particular highlight). These poems span twenty years of Salena’s career and the collection has a wonderful introduction detailing her rock and roll poetry career. Sit up and take note: Salena is an artist in every sense of the word, her passion and personality are bigger than the pages themselves…” 

"Salena Godden follows up her recent poetry anthology with a lyrical and witty memoir painting a portrait of the artist as a young girl. Springfield Road tells the wide-eyed tale of Godden’s childhood as the daughter of a jazz musician and a go-go dancer set against the lovingly rendered backdrop of 1970s Hastings.  Springfield Road’s prose wavers effortlessly throughout, from tender poignancy to raw, gritty realism and this lovely book serves to remind us that however much the world has changed in the last forty years, in many ways it is still exactly the same." Lee Bullman

"Throughout, Godden writes about a past that is at once deeply personal yet also belongs to the everyman figure; her descriptions of childhood are simultaneously timeless and yet rooted in a particular period of British history…" Debjani Biswas-Hawkes   

Springfield Road: A Memoir by Salena Godden 

In his absence, first in life then in his death, Paul Godden became whatever his daughter Salena wanted him to be: so she made her Irish father from pieces of other men: poets Richard Brautigan and Laurie Lee, actors Oliver Reed and Dirk Bogarde, jazz musician Chet Baker. Anything but ordinary.  But this remembrance by poet and performance artist Salena Godden is also about reality: the daily, domestic heroism of her beautiful Jamaican mother, the competitive but comforting company of her older brother Gus, the scents of Lifebuoy soap, Earl Grey tea, mothballs and kippers in the house of her Godden grandparents in Springfield Road in Hastings in the 1970s, Such times and places, “now in the faraway”, are evoked through family letters and diaries, snatched conversations, the pains and pleasures of adolescence, the discovery of how to love. Her writing is urgent and detailed, colourful and clamorous. Like all love stories, her memoir is intense and intimate.
Iain Finlayson / The Times

For more words and pictures 

More radio and audio archives:

Thursday, 3 September 2015

'A Stronger Stiffly Worded Letter' Two years later: 2015

Two years ago, in September 2013, I wrote a piece titled "A Strong and Stiffly Worded Letter Should Do The Trick"  - it was a rant-poem-letter written as a strong reaction to images of dead children in bombed schools. Here is the first draft of the 2015 version, written as a reaction to images of their brothers and sisters now washed up on European beaches.

A Stronger Stiffly Worded Letter
Two years later: 2015

Dear war makers and war takers
Twitchy button pushers and mushroom cloud worshippers
Bomb botherers and gun polishers
Chemical weapon wielders and coup-cooers
Battle cry criers and army gatherers
Bullet loaders and knife sharpeners
Death collators, chief whips and spins and…

Dear Queen Elizabeth and family Windsor
Dear kings and dear lords and dear right honourables
To all the Dear Mr Presidents and Dear Mr Prime ministers –
Thank you for taking some time to read my letter,
I’m writing to make a small request
Please could you all take some fucking responsibility?

I find I am forced to write to you yet again.
In 2013 we saw bombed school children
Their bloody and ashy faces trapped under rubble,
I don’t know if you remember them? I do
I never forgot them or that you  sanctioned those bombings

I now believe some of these refugees are their survivors
That these are the class mates, the brothers and sisters
The families and neighbours that suffered those conflicts
Those schools and hospitals that you bombed
So please send some ships and save some lives
Shush with your “benefit scroungers” talk
Stop with your daily hate button pushy fingers
Quit being so pass-the-buck happy

I don’t care who started this trouble now.
You are all culpable
These people flee as a direct result of your wars and your bombs,
Your greed and your alliance with dictators.
You’re all as bad as each other
I want to send you to your rooms
To do your homework -
You all need to read the history books
And refresh your geography.

From space there are no walls or borders
Just land and sea and the have and the have nots
The people who can do and the people who can do nothing.
And Cameron, you embarrass us
You are conspicuous in your inactivity
We all have a duty to save human life at any cost

So, here’s the thing:
If you could stop making refugees. And if you could all just admit you contributed to making these people become refugees in the first place. And if you could take full responsibility that would be great. And if you could stop pretending you haven’t any money for any refugees. And if you could stop using the term illegal immigrant that would be great. And you, if you could stop pretending you haven’t made any refugees and if you could concentrate on saving some lives that would be brilliant. Hang on. Let me simplify things, if you could stop washing your hands of any blame and if you could stop making rules about the deserving and the undeserving, and stop pretending you didn’t make them refugees in the first place and if you could stop the murder of innocent people in transit and aid the plight of migrating people fleeing the wars that you all contributed to, the bombs that you sanctioned, that would be brilliant. One more time, let me put it another way, if you could just admit you are part of the reason these people became refugees and stop leaving them to die or be saved by the other side, by another European country, when you keep saying we are EU and all united on the same side, when it suits you, that would be great. And if you all could just stop spending money on war and the production of bombs, and while you are at it, if you could also stop the drilling in the fucking arctic, as this will create floods and food wars and an increase in refugees and emergency human migration in the first fucking place…that would be great.

Now go and do something good and ordinary with your time
Donate to the crisis. Save some lives.
Put all that war making money towards building schools and hospitals
Fill all of England’s empty buildings with the homeless … I mean all of the homeless
Stop building banks and offices and luxury housing no-one can afford
Stop ignoring climate change and stop all your wars

You use twentieth century solutions
To solve twenty-first century problems

There is not one person I know wants to see another human being killed
I certainly don’t want anyone to drown or suffocate in a lorry, how ludicrous

Stop passing the buck
Stop with your watered down UKIP slogans
It’s repetitive and it’s pissing us all off
Seriously, I think I can safely say
You are pissing everyone off
I just had to switch Radio 4 off, yet again
Dreadful and harrowing stories
Of disrupted summer holiday travel
I understand that must be annoying
But seriously, it is not really the news is it?

Obama, Cameron, Putin, Bashar, Letta
Whips and spins and government war stirrers
Every single one of you in every war bunker
Yes, you and you, all of you, you make refugees,
Exactly two years later and look at what you have done?

It is September 2015  and social media is again filled with children -
Children across the UK on their first day of school in crisp school uniforms
And dead refugee children washed up on European beaches.
Is this your legacy is it, Messers Bomby?

Please find attached a picture of one migrating monarch butterfly
This is a symbol of the natural beauty and wonder of migration
A human is not illegal, your fucking wars are

You bag of hopeless dicks.

With Kindest Regards,
Pretty much everyone

© 2015. Salena Godden.

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 from 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 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
and broadcast live from BBC Radio Theatre, BBC World Service, September 1st 2015. This episode covered civilian uses for drones, positive, creative and imaginative use of drones. I chose to write about voyeurism, but this programme also featured John Cale's innovative musical drone orchestra and using drones to drop seeds to plant more trees ... find out more on BBC iplayer!