Wintery

At some point I did more doing than blogging and stopped.

But of course blogging is doing. And a layer or so of insights might be buried under the snow and slush of weather.

In microcosm the last couple of days may say something about the Cultural Leadership process and where it’s taken me. First off, a meeting with the MD of the newly forming Community Interest Company of which I will be Creative Director. Radikal Words will undertake spoken word projects in education, community and public sector settings. I started off this CLP becoming interested in social enterprise, and began to think my own company would be the way forward. I wanted it to help fulfil some of my aims for spoken word, and beliefs about how spoken word artists can be developed. I’m on the board of the national performance poetry organisation Apples and Snakes and had been hearing about a “cold spot” in spoken word provision in the North East. I knew this was the case, but had lots of ideas about how to plug the gap, mentor more artist/facilitators and be able to spread some of the work that I get offered. Brilliantly, many things came together at once, and, with a long time performance poet colleague, we’re being able to help a national spoken word project pilot in the region.

I have lots of ideas now about mentoring, volunteers, professionalisation, facilitating projects and ownership of projects that have come about through my pondering about leadership, through my connection with New Writing North and the experiences I’ve had this year with the young people’s writing group and other projects. At the moment, one of the things that may not be built into this spoken word project at proposal stage is artist development (or artist as facilitator development) to the degree that my research in the last year has indicated that it is important. But part of this process means I’m going to be strongly advocating for it.

I also had a meeting with Claire and Anna from NWN about the draft script of a show I’ll be touring later this year. They’ve encouraged and solicited this, and it’ s feeling like it could be a real step forward for me as an artist. But it’s quite odd suddenly having people also becoming invested in the words that come from inside my head. It’s as if they’re becoming real, long before the stage they would usually become real at, when I speak them in front of an audience. They’d paid for me to go away for a week in a cottage on Lindisfarne to write at the end of December, which was such a wonderful luxury. Getting up each morning thinking about what to write, rather than “Which emails shall I reply to?”, “Which project shall I move forward with”, “Which workshop will I be delivering next?”, “Why is Borders closing, David Tennant leaving, Wogan off air, our box set of Boston Legal all watched and a really good Arts Council Literature Officer not being re employed?”. The show, Fox News, will look at my life in relation to news events that were going on. I skewed the first draft more towards news, but Claire and Anna preferred the life story bits and think it could work as a comedy/poetry show. Which is good, but as ever, scary. Doing poems on Saturday Live has taken me away from the personal stuff I’d been writing in the last few years and now I’ll be returning there. Older, maybe not wiser.

Today I also had a meeting about a fantastic festival which funding being well, will take place in the autumn. All CLP-d up, I owned and proposed ideas which-rather than being good ideas coming from and going into the ether, were clear projects I (or Radikal Words) could take on and deliver. Again, Words coming from me but being shared and then realised.

Thoughts continue about different models of leadership. Not top down,, authoritative. Tending to be collaborative, fluid, about influence rather than intervention.

But less abstractly, I took some of those thoughts to;

A Chief Nursing Officers conference where I was poet in residence. These, mostly women, seemed to be balancing the same high wire between leadership and their experience as practitioners as me. How to be a nurse and a leader some of them mused? It’s a different model . One informs the other and neither should be sacrificed in decision making. There was much talk of making all nurses leaders- critical, creative thinkers, taking the initiative on decisions over patient care.  In other news there, I said the word “love” to describe some of what they did since it seemed to be taboo, and reflected that seems to be the case in writing projects too.

Part Two to follow…

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