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Wordlife: Creative Writing: Genevieve Carver / Mark Greene / Akeem Balogun

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Genevieve Carver & The Unsung

We're happy to bring you a preview of Genevieve Carver & The Unsung's new show this month. We were lucky enough to catch its first outing in Sheffield earlier this year and it's a great combination of poetry and music, well worth checking out if you're heading up to Edinburgh Festival in August.

We also have a poem from Mark Greene and a short prose piece from Akeem Balogun inspired by the climate crisis.

Joe

Champagne, Cocaine and Sausages

This is an extract from A Beautiful Way to be Crazy, a new poetry, music and theatre show from Genevieve Carver & The Unsung (Ruth Nicholson, Brian Bestall and Tim Knowles). The show explores female experiences in the music industry.

I am Nina Simone's anger

I am Etta James's veins

I am Ani DiFranco's middle finger

I am your little sister's bedroom door

I am the ripple in the pond

I am the rip in your jeans

I am wild and unwashed and broken

I am not taking it lying down

I am shit at lots of things

I am difficult

I am wrong

I am tied in knots, I'm free

I am simply trying to be me

I am frightened

I am flawed

but I am here

and I'm not going anywhere

I am Kate Bush's treble

I am Jacqueline du Pres' tremble

I am Polly Harvey's pedals

I am Kathleen Hanna's rebel

I am Clara Schuman's manuscript

I am Stevie Nicks's sleeves

I am Alanis Morisette's misunderstanding of irony

I am Bjork's clenched fist

I'm just a girl

I wear my hair in curls

I wear my dungarees down to my sexy knees

I am sugar and spice and all things deep and lost and painful and real

I am fighting to be heard and not only seen

I am a woman, phenomenally

I am Tori Amos's cornflakes

I am Sinead O'Connor's skull

I am Taylor Swift's reputation

I am Madonna's youth

I want champagne, cocaine and sausages

I want it all and I want it now

I want what I cannot have

I am hungry

I am greedy

I will bite off more than I can vomit back into the void

It's a new dawn

it's a new day

it's a new life

and I'm feeling ready for it

I am the reason the caged bird sings

I am the thorn in the side of the boy

I am the fat lady telling you it's over

I am spinning

I am floating

I am so close to the edge

I am busting at the seams

I am everything you ever hoped you'd be

so take a piece, just try it

there's too much here for you to even make a dent in me.

Genevieve Carver

The Unsung will be performing at Buxton Fringe (16-19 July) and Edinburgh Fringe (19-26 August). For more info head to genevievecarver.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Plastic Poison

Be inside of me, my sick love,

make me last forever like

those hot seas filled

with you. Be inside of me

until my stomach bursts and boils

and bleeds. You are so many colours

your blues and reds corrupt me, you

shouldn't shine so much. Be inside

of me. Be the air trapped in every breath.

Haven't you already taken enough

from the others? Haven't you already

left your mark? Be inside of me whilst

I build a nest of you. I need you

on my skin, in my lungs. I want you

to prove the essence of your worth.

Mark Greene

Thirteen Days

Carrying out company inspections, fitting smoke alarms and telling children why it was important not to call us about pets stuck in trees had become the bulk of our responsibilities. Most of us couldn't remember the last time we'd seen a fire, other than using a lighter to spark a cigarette or ignite a stubborn cooker hob.

When the public finally began to wonder why there were so few of our symbolic red trucks on the road, it arrived: The Constant Storm, The Tempest, The Thirteen Days of Hell, or whatever they wanted to call it.

Overnight, calls for inspections, smoke alarm installations and school presentations stopped as nature began playing a cruel game of tumbling towers with city skyscrapers and apartment blocks, using the increasing death toll as its score card. Retained firefighters were made whole-time, the song of the fire truck returned and our iconic siren which neither the police nor the ambulance service could match, in melody or in decibel cut through the bellow of the storm. People gathered and filmed whenever we arrived, and each drop of sweat that fell from our faces was recorded, documented and praised.

Thirteen days later, the public were told that there was no end predicted to the storm. People covered their mouths in shock as they watched their screens; children looked up at their parents, trying to understand what was wrong; assistants walked out of shops; and commuters who were unwilling to risk waiting any longer for transport in the already dangerous weather ran home; while supposed friends of our nation recited in rich detail how we were being torn apart, but how it was "too dangerous" for them to lend a hand.

The same people who had progressively made us useless now reiterated how important we were.

We listened, and we worked every extra hour we were given.

Now, while the country tries to cope with life during the storm, we cross towns and cities fighting fire, saddened by the endless destruction of homes, jobs and lives, but never refusing the opportunity to bathe in media praise, to earn more and to experience the kind of security we had become unfamiliar with. Yet, all of this occurs alongside the pain of having to wake every morning unsure as to whether the blessing of the storm has come to an end.

Akeem Balogun

Next article in issue 136

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