Submit by 11th May for Issue 3 of Oxford Is My Home

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The submission window for Oxford Is My Home: the Lockdown Edition closes on 11th May. So if you’d like to be a part of this zine, where we capture all the perspectives on living through corona, then here’s all the ways you can get work to us.

Email us at oxfordismyhomezine@gmail.com

Ring us on 0800 0096754 and leave a message and we’ll transcribe your story or poem

Post your creations to Oxford is My Home, Makespace Oxford, 1 Aristotle Lane, OX2 6TP

Need some more inspiration?

I’ve created some writing prompts to help get the creative sparks flying. Check them out on the Oxford Poetry Library website – https://oxfordpoetrylibrary.wordpress.com/news-events/ where you’ll also find all the details for how you can send your work.

Here’s my favourite:

A Strange Conversation

For strange times, why not try a nonsense poem. Imagine you were interviewing a stranger about what it is like to live in self-isolation. Write down all the questions you might like to ask them. Then answer them yourself!

  1. Write down a list of 8 questions which you could ask someone to understand their experience of lockdown (we have some ideas to start you off).
  2. Answer each questions using exactly 8 words. If you fancy more of a challenge, rhyme your answers with an A, B, A, B, C, D, C, D structure.
  3. Now mix up each question with a different answer from your list.
  4. You can also try a different version where you remove all of the questions, and shape your poem just from the answers.

If you are with someone else you can also try this version.

  1. Each person writes the 8 questions they would like to ask.
  2. Swap your pages and answer the other person’s question using exactly 8 words.
  3. Then mix all the questions and answers up to create two zany poems.

Fancy a Poem for Breakfast?

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Are you tired of waking up to headlines about coronavirus? Why not start your day off by reading a poem instead? Enter…..’Poems for Breakfast’!

One of the best things about moving to Oxford was discovering the wondrous pedal-powered ‘Oxford Poetry Library’. It’s run by powerhouse Phoebe Nicholson and a committed group of volunteers, of which I’m one. Our vision is that by bringing poetry into the local community, we want to introduce as many people as possible to the joys and benefits of reading poems, as well as nurture the existing community of writers and readers around the city.

I’ve been involved for the last couple of years delivering writing workshops to the Oxford community. As you can imagine, coronavirus has put a stop to many of the activities we had scheduled.

So we’re using our free time to bring poetry to the community in a virtual format.

One of these initiatives is super simple – you can sign up to receive a poem in your inbox every morning. We’ve had amazing feedback so far about how people have find this a bright and uplifting way to start their day, so necessary during this crisis. So, if you fancy a poem for breakfast….

Find out more here!

Poem ‘This Love’ published in Bath Magg’s April issue.

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I’ve been a fan of Bath Magg ever since its first issue in 2019. I love their thoughtful editorials and the vibrant collection of poetry, which is carefully arranged by editors Joe Carrick-Varty and Mariah Whelan.

So, what a delight to have a poem featured in their April edition! Please have a read of the whole magazine, including ‘This love’ here.

Poems as lives, skins you can slip on easy as a glove, until all of a sudden you’re not watching another episode of Tiger King but inhabiting a kind of love which is ‘not the first thing you remember’, a kind of love which ‘runs from bees’, which ‘wears a high viz jacket, waves semaphore flags’, a love which is ‘the first clap in a sustained standing ovation following an amateur production of Cats’ (of course it is!) as Rowena Cooper’s ‘This love’ so stunningly conjures and sings.

Joe Carrick-Varty, on behalf of the editorial team. Bath Magg April 2020.

The Covid-19 Quaranzine: Stories of ‘Home’ from Behind Closed Doors

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As a result of Covid-19, our homes have transformed. Bedrooms have become offices, living rooms have become classrooms, gardens have become gyms, and every house has become a cage of sorts.

Some people without a home have found one whilst others have been evicted, and many, many people live with the uncertainty of not being able to afford to keep theirs.

‘Oxford is My Home’ is a zine produced by Oxford Poetry Library and Open House which uses words and pictures to tell the hidden stories of housing and homelessness in Oxford and what it means to call this city ‘home’.

For our third issue, we want to know what #StayatHome looks like for you? How are you spending your days? Who are you with? Are you enjoying yourself? What are you worried about? What do you miss about being able to leave your home?

Submissions are now OPEN for contributions to the zine. You can submit poems, stories, pictures, comic strips, or any other creative reflection which you can figure out a way of getting to us.

You can:

– Email us at oxfordismyhomezine@gmail.com

–  Ring us on 0800 0096754 and leave a message and we’ll transcribe your story or poem

The deadline is 11 May.

Please keep written submissions within 500 words. For any questions contact oxfordismyhomezine@gmail.com

Stuck for inspiration? Why not try one of these easy exercises alone, or with others to get your creative juices flowing!

Writing a Poem

Start with the phrase ‘What happened today?’ and then keep writing non-stop for 3 minutes. Don’t think too hard about what you write because this is just to get started and see where your mind takes you. You don’t even need to try and make it like a poem. The only aim is to keep writing for the full 3 minutes.

Look back at what you wrote. Find one word, sentence or phrase that you particularly like. Could this be a start of a poem?

Explore your chosen words. Are there other words which mean something similar or the opposite? Does this word rhyme with anything else? This will lead you to the next line.

Try using all 5 senses – smell, touch, taste, sight and sound to bring your poem to life.

Remember: there are really no rules to what make a good poem. They might rhyme or they might not. They might be long or short. The most important thing is to enjoy writing!

Short Stories

Think about the experiences you have had when living in isolation – was there something funny, upsetting, uplifting or unexpected which happened to you?

Stories also allow us to explore alternative realities. Perhaps you would like to change what happened in real-life. Ask yourself ‘what else could have happened’ or ‘wouldn’t it be funny if’ and see if this changes where your story goes.

You can also try making up a character. What if your experience happened to someone completely different? Maybe they are a different age to you, a unique job, or have a personality flaw. What would they do differently in this situation?

A story only needs three things – a beginning, a middle, and an ending. What would be a good place to start and to end your story?

Life-Writing

This is where you simply write about what you are experiencing in your life now. These ideas might help to get started:

  • Write a letter to your future self – what would you like them to remember about what is happening right now?
  • Write a letter to an alien – imagine you are describing your situation to someone who has no knowledge of what is happening on Earth today

Interview Yourself. Imagine you were interviewing a stranger about what it is like to live in self-isolation. Write down all the questions you might like to ask them. Then answer them yourself!

Community Playmaker – I want to read your play!

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As Covid-19 closed the doors of Oxford Playhouse, they have opened their arms to the community.

I was fortunate enough to be one of six playwrights chosen for the 2020 ‘Playhouse Playmaker’ which is funded by the Oxford Playhouse. Our group meets once a month where we spend the day receiving tuition from playwright Clare Bayley, and then provide feedback on each other’s plays, which we’re each developing across the programme. Normally, we’d finish off by eating pizza, to fuel up before watching that night’s show at the Playhouse.

When Corona struck, things changed a bit. No more free pizza & theatre. Our sessions moved from the ‘Green Room’ to Skype. And, more importantly, we were able to give back to the Playhouse from the investment they’ve made in our careers.

The Community Playmaker is an opportunity for any budding playwright to send a script in & receive detailed feedback – some of which will be from me! I’m reading a script a week and loving being able to support other writers to develop their vision.

Alongside my fellow Playmakers, I’ve written a blog for anyone who is setting out to write their first play. You’ll find it on the Community Playmaker website here, where you can also learn about how you can get involved.

Happy writing folks!

Reading some poems at LIGHTBOX on 1st Feb

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I’ll be reading poems on 1st Feb at the ‘Lightbox’ event in East Oxford Community Centre.

Come along to the event hosted by Oxford Poetry Library and LIT Reading Group on February 1 2020 for an evening of creative writing and music on the subject of light in its many forms, from daylight and firelight to enlightenment and revelation, as well as some light relief. We will be escaping the midwinter dark with original poetry and prose from LIT Reading Group.

Tickets are available on the door or for advance purchase here.

Lightbox poster flyer.jpg

After Aulis wins a Fringie!

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We’re delighted to have been awarded Fringe Event of the Year!

2018 saw an array of exciting fringe theatre performed in Stratford. So to be pegged as the top event of the year feels blummin’ fantastic.

Thanks so much to The Attic theatre for hosting the premiere of the play (a well deserved win for them as Fringe Venue of the Year).

Now it’s full steam ahead as we prepare to take Nia to Brighton – and tickets are now on sale! Books yours here.