Hello, Poetry Lovers, welcome to the show! Today we have the unique, wonderful, innovative Celine Hispiche!!
Now settle down, PL’s.
(gives them a stern look, audience sit down meekly)
Excellent. Face the front!
Because here she is! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Celine Hispiche!
Hello and welcome to the show, Celine! A greeting from Dobby there, with a secret message to Belu
Thank you for having me, Heather
(rubs her shoulder)
And may I say I love that crochet mini dress, and wet look boots! So cool eh, poetry lovers?! (cheering brings the house down)
Thank you. Sat up several night crocheting this! Still catching up on sleep, and I hope to God I’ve cast it off properly!!
It’s so wild, my sweet! I’m gonna get a crochet hook during the break!
Now, Celine, I’m desperate for you to fill us in on your rich musical and writing background……
I have always been drawn to music, my dad used to manage punk bands when I was a kid. I loved getting into his Morris Minor and driving to different recording and rehearsal rooms. I did my first stand-up gig at 14 at the Frog and Nightgown on The Old Kent Road and I knew then that the stage was for me.
Growing up with the sounds of Edith Piaf and Poly Styrene really inspired me to write in yer face material. I joined the Royal Young People’s writing group when I was 19 and was lucky to work with some talented writers ie April D’Angelis and Hanif Kureishi. I was a featured writer and had my work put on at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill and upstairs at The Royal Court.
I then honed in on my comedy act and performed on the main stage at Glastonbury.
Next port of call was Manhattan where I toured all along the East Coast, including the famous Catskills where Lenny Bruce graced the stage.
Another great honour was performing for Louise Bourgeois at her private salon in NYC. I have had four consecutive years at the Edinburgh Festival. Music and comedy has seen me writing my first musical, five one woman shows and working with Marc Almond and Dave Ball from the legendary Soft Cell.
Lumme, Celine! What a great background and learning curve! There are least four names that that made me swoon. And growing up with the Punk movement there – what a childhood! You’re solid gold! The real thing!
(very emotional applause)
Who were your greatest influences?
My Irish nan as she was a fantastic mimic and storyteller. My Dad Mo, he’s so rock n’ roll. The famous Caberet album and film. Soft Cell, Music Hall, Weimar and Parisian Cabaret. History. People in general and their life stories.
Amazing influences, Celine. Adored Cabaret, played that record thin. Still know the words. And yes, it’s amazing who are under our noses and the things they can tell us.
Now, you’re a big part of Soho, and you have opened doors for a great array of talent. Tell us about Celine’s Salon and how it started.
Celine’s Salon was born in 2015 at The Society Club in Soho. I’m a huge fan of Gertrude Stein and wanted to create my own unique salon.
With my love for cabaret I coined the term Literary Cabaret to bring life and rhythm to the evening. Featuring writers from all genres is our main purpose. Encouraging and supporting and giving writers an appreciative platform to share their work. We now have a monthly residency at Gerry’s Club on Dean Street which we hope to be back in the early new year.
And what about the innovative and cultural Soho Radio show?
Ahhh, I love the radio show. It was always on my wish list to have my own show and ironically Soho Radio was my first choice.
As a Soho boho resident I like being part of the community. Soho is a very tight community and filled with all walks of life. The Salon is a major feature of the show where I invite salon performers to come on as my guests. We also like artists and musicians to come on so we can support their work and spread the word.
Do you want to share your next project with us?
I will be running a series of monthly one woman shows in Soho from late November. The venue is super secret at the moment as we have to wait and see what the current situation will be as the winter comes in. I am really hoping all performers will be back in venues in the not to distant future.
My shows are based on left field women through history from Nell Gwyn to the Marchesa Casati to name but a few.
I will also be working in the new year on a very flamboyant cabaret show and the return of Celine’s Salon, fingers crossed, will be heading up to Glasgow as soon as we get the green light!
Celine! This is so impressive! What a year you’ve got ahead of you! I really want to get my mitts on those one-woman shows! You’ll be dynamite!
Isn’t she prolific and talented, Poetry Lovers?!
Thank you so much for coming on the show, my sweet. It’s been fascinating and wonderful!
(a standing ovation with remaining security standing by)
Now my dear, shall I meet you in The French House with that handsome Ken Thomson ? Or the John Snow with that good-looking Welsh man, Iain Richards?
Umm…. afraid they’re both closed for a private booking, Heather. Iain, Ken, Gary, Pinky and I are invited but er……
I’ll get on that guest list someday! Mark my words! Meanwhile, it’s watching the telly with Dobby.
(Celine coughs awkwardly)
Oh, I see! Dobby’s been invited…. say no more…
Thank you so much for coming on the show, Celine, such an inspiring interview.
(applause, standing ovation, the lot)
Celine gracefully ascends the lighted stairs before being smuggled out in a van.
Celine has left the building!
Wasn’t that a wonderful interview?! Thanks for watching, tune in same time, same channel………
Gosh September, where have you gone?! Has lockdown made you fly away so quickly? And why are you hot now?!
I always think of September as the start of the new year. I suppose this was because we always went back to school then.
Somehow I expect it to turn colder on the very first day. I suppose the prospect of going back to school immediately put a chill on things. The most boring of summers was still preferable to actually doing that.
Anyway, I’ve penned an acrostic poem as a tribute to September 2020.
Shed looks a bit of a state – but have you seen the price of them?!
Embracing the autumn air – as much as you can in 29 degrees!
Packing away summer bedding and clothes – only to get them back out again quickly!
There used to be proper autumns! Russet skies and leaves falling.
Embers of summer memories – holidays cancelled and overspending in Tesco!
Muted sounds as children go back to school – good bloody riddance!
Bollocks to this! I’ve got to wash out my face mask again!
Evening time and the sky darkens swiftly – an end to another day of being stuck indoors.
Remember when there were proper autumns?
What’s on Netflix?
Now, PL’s, if you have any less foul-mouthed recollections of September 2020, do send them in. My contact form is now working.
Thank you for watching, Poetry Lovers, and let’s hope October cools down a bit……. Tune in same time, same channel…..
Welcome back to the Poetry Basket Reviews. We’re blowing off the dust, and evicting Dobby from there! We’re also rehoming PB to this page.
Out of there at once, Dobby!
Most honoured today to have Jenny Mitchell’s wonderful debut collection Her Lost Language, in the review basket. A joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, Jenny has written work of raw emotion and poignancy.
The debut pamphlet, Her Lost Language, by the vibrant poet Jenny Mitchell, is a powerful read and unleashes voices that previously couldn’t be heard. Legacies of British transatlantic enslavement, and the Windrush generation are candidly voiced.
A joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, this welcome collection is neatly placed into two sections. There are vivid homages to enslaved ancestors and others previously unacknowledged. Yet, it’s real power is the moving voices and strong human emotions.. With good use of tenses and verse that work well.
My Five Times Great Grandmother was Enslaved is a very personal piece in a collection of personal pieces, drawing us in deeper, until we feel we’re at the point of no return.
Song for A Former Slave, Someone Thank the Tailor, Black Men Should Wear Colour and Blood the Seamstress – with the incredible first line ‘I’ll be the dress she never owned’, are raw emotions and memories and tributes told through clothes, and other things next to our skin. A simple concept that opens doors to the very different life that ancestors have had. Vivid and detailed, yet the emotions are all ours.
Emancipating Ancestors is a tribute to those who died on slave plantations and opens a whole new and poignant chapter of suffering and inhumane history. We are confronted with how human beings could be so cruel to each other.
A personal favourite is Missing Grandmother, who worked so hard but never appeared in a photograph, nor any foreground, unlike the men of the family. This says so very much for the women who worked so thanklessly to get them there. Becoming Queen, opens another window of a hard life not documented.
My Family Shares its Voices jumps out at the reader, the brutal grandfather and the secret burden women still have to carry.
Before the Silence tells us of a young girl, against a strict upbringing, who really had no choice nor opportunity. Plus the father’s cruel punishment. The tenses work very well in this piece.
The collection turns about with the account of immigrants coming to Britain and their encounter with a cold and hostile new land. This is reflected in the incredibly detailed Strange Land. We get closer to the poet with The Bride and a Veil, and the loss of a father, and the mother’s reflections. The air of loss and mourning are tangible.
One stanza tells so much, two are powerful.
The Mess They Made and Monica Darling expresses the decline and sheer pain of a loved one with dementia, and how a mother can deny their children.
Retreat Jamaica (1939), is a candid account in two stanza sections of a difficult birth, and an account of how men would walk away from the woman’s agony. Here, the poet really excels and we are taken on this road. Taking His Leave gives us insight into an upbringing in sheer hardship, and a Mother’s suffering. We are reminded of what once had to be hidden, and we wouldn’t dream of not sharing this journey.
In Eve’s Lost Daughter, the images genuinely shock and disturb us, and as we cross to English Fields there are other tales from the outside that bring us the painful realisation that women were truly helpless.
Incident and Her Lost Language are a fitting and sad climax. Uncomfortable and very true, yet such compulsive reading.
This collection will stay with you, and touch things that we in so many ways ignore, but you’d still read it again. A triumphant debut.
And today we are going to feature that ultra-talented musician, writer and poet, Lucy Lyrical.
(pandemonium. Several members of security write out their resignations)
Now settle down, PL’s, we don’t want to put off our lovely guest because here she is……….
( standing ovation as Lucy descends the lighted stairs)
Welcome to the show, Lucy! Take a seat……
Hello, good to be here (I think!)
Welcome, Lucy. May I say, I love that leather catsuit and matching boots. I can see my face in them!
Thank you. I do like to shine them up. I’ve brought some polishing kit with me, in fact.
Isn’t she the coolest chick in Carnaby Street, PL’s?!
(Whoops and cheers of agreement)
Such an honour to have you here, Lucy. Please fill us in on your varied and creative background
One of my first professional jobs was as a magician’s assistant but I soon got bored of being levitated. I’m a terrible show-off so always took what chances I could to step on stage. Singing, acting, comedy – although I admit my stand-up ‘career’ only lasted two performances. Stand-up is like extreme sport for performers, I think. It all became easier when I got a ukulele to hide behind.
I’ve always been a writer – you know the type. I put on plays as a kid, wrote poetry after a heartbreak, always carried a little note book to capture ideas. I wrote loads of short stories and some poetry and then everything changed for me when I met the magnificent Chip Martin of Starhaven Books who published my first novel Three Women
Ha ha! I was a magician’s assistant too! All I can remember was having to chase this bloke with a soft hammer! Must have been for kids! I didn’t get any levitation action! And Chip’s wonderful, isn’t he?! That’s such a great background and learning curve.
Now, Lucy, we all swooned over you at Soho Poets, when did music and poetry become a part of your life?
You’re too kind. The feeling’s mutual, Heather (blush )
My parents were actors and my grandmother and great-uncle had a music hall act so you could say it’s in the blood. I started writing songs as I was learning the ukulele and used to try and make people laugh by playing at parties.
Then I met Maggie Swampwino. A friend, Audrey, introduced us and suggested I go to Maggie’s studio – aka The Swamp – to record something. After the first tune was down, Maggie suggested we start a band. It was such a beautifully unlikely duo. Me thumping out the few chords I knew on a ukulele and Maggie, who in her own words ‘could get a tune out of a lawn mower’, doing all the clever stuff on a bouzouki. We did over 100 gigs together, mostly in London, Northampton and Glasgow.
After Maggie’s death I did question performing again, but it’s hard to stop. And I’ve had so much fun playing with other musicians, like George Simmonds, Ian Beetlestone, Matt King Smith and Lucy Gaster – although I haven’t heard any of them play a lawnmower yet!
Fascinating. And I’m very glad you didn’t stop!
So very bitter- sweet. I’m sorry to hear about Maggie, I would loved to have met her. These talented people just leave us sometimes.
I’ve loved your playing with the gorgeous Matt and the charming Lucy. You have a great rapport. Who have been your greatest influences?
I suppose here I should list the writers, songwriters and poets whose work I most admire. But that would be a long list and truthfully, when I read or hear something exceptional, it usually makes me question why I try when there’s no way I could be as good. However, the people who really have influenced me have been those who are making it happen and are the type to hold the ladder as you climb up too.
Celine Hispiche is one of those people. I’d still be playing in my bathroom if she hadn’t been so encouraging and given me so many opportunities.
Barnie from The Carlton Jugband has such an inspiring attitude – getting on stage with that band last year was something of a career highlight for me. Frankie Rafferty is another one whose own work is so good you want to be better. In all honesty, my writing is influenced and improved enormously by having worked with Chip Martin and by having a writing partner as good as Polly Bull.
Oh, Polly’s wonderful, isn’t she. And Chip Martin is an enigma. Then there’s the incredible Celine – so many supportive and talented people about.
Now, I love your novel Three Women, and it was very well received. Is there a second one on the horizon?
Now, that would be telling, wouldn’t it. Writers are notorious for talking about things before they’re finished…sometimes before they’re even started. So, I’ve decided to keep quiet on that front. But I promise you this, you’ll be the first to know when I’m ready to spill the beans.
Well, I’m at the edge of my seat here, my sweet! We can’t wait, can we, PL’s?! (rapturous agreement – whoops and hoots etc)
Do you want to tell us about your next project?
I’ve loved hearing my writing in other people’s mouths – I call Gary Dunnington my muse (not sure if he likes that!) and it’s been such a treat for me to hear a talented actor performing my work. Brings out a different side to the character and allows me to (almost) enjoy it as if I’m hearing it for the first time. So, I’ve created an experiment in short-attention span radio theatre called MINILOGUES.
Each short monologue is exactly 100 words long and I gave them to actors I admire, without direction, to see how they would approach the material. 10 actors, 100 words each, the Minilogues are available on http://spotifyhttp://anchor and and http://applypodcasts and many other places that you can find podcasts.
I’m planning a season two so if any writer wants to collaborate on this by a drafting a 100 word monologue, or any actor wants to tackle the challenge, they should get in touch. I intend to be one of those people who hold the ladder too.
And you are, Lucy! That’s a wonderful project, and a great opportunity for actors and writers. We need people like you. I can’t wait to get tuning in!! Fantastic!!
Now, you’ve got to come up Soho tonight. I think Steed is coming!
I’m afraid I’m barred from all Soho pubs….Coach & Horses, French House…I think it was Steed’s umbrella, and – er drinking Soho dry…..
I may go home and polish my boots again.
(audience give a standing ovation)
I might give it a miss too, and watch The Avengers
Thank you so much for coming in, Lucy, a fascinating interview.
Hasn’t she been a wonderful guest?!
(Crowd go mad, have to be restrained)
(Lucy is smuggled out the building)
Lucy Lyrical has left the building!
Wasn’t that just wonderful, PL’s?! Thank you for tuning in. See you soon, same time, same channel……
Welome to part II of our cinema homage… Today, we feature the detailed memories from the lovely poet Trisha Broomfield, of a medium that we all grew up with. So many of us have experienced these things and feelings….
The large sound of the wide screen,
Pearl and Dean,
Kia-Ora, small-stick straws,
ashtrays like eye sockets
on the backs of red-plush seats,
Revels or Treats,
and a man with a raincoat over his knees
putting his hand
Wasn’t that amazing?! I love the description of the ashtrays and those tiny impractical straws for Kia-Ora! Thank you so much, Trisha!
I’ll be back Monday with an interview with the fabulous and amazing Lucy Lyrical!
Hello Poetry Lovers, how do you like my new look? Pretty glam, eh?
Now don’t faint but I’m actually going to share one of my own poems with you today. About an institution that shaped most of our lives, the cinema, or to some of us, the fleapit.
All the magic and wonder of celluloid unfolded for us in these rathole buildings. I remember the trailers were wonderous for me. I recall those better than the films! Anyway, this is The Fleapit – I hope you enjoy it.
Oh you fleapit, you!
I was under your spell,
especially when you showed Jack
And Ryan’s Daughter
And Carry On Henry
And Ring of Bright Water.
I loved your lack of balcony seats,
no airs and graces for you,
unlike the posh Embassy over the road.
Mind you, you didn’t half
show some crap –
The Magnificent Seven
Deadly Sins, wasn’t it?
You knew your time was up;
your rivals showing premium films,
being divided up into three cinemas.
You couldn’t compete, with your
lethargic lettering, wonkily displaying
But like John Wayne, your star
Along with your torn posters and cheap lollies.
No Kiora drink could save you now.
Goodbye and thanks.
I’m off to the multiplex.
Good luck with the Bingo,
then later on as a Turkish grocers.
Wasn’t that a hoot?! This is part one about our past cinemas, keep your eyes peeled for part two. Same time, same channel.