Author:Cameron Holleran - Poet, Facilitator and Performer
I only started to get into poetry in Sixth Form where I had some wonderful teachers who put me onto Tony Harrison and John Agard – they were two poets that just stuck in my head as people using the language that they spoke to create poetry. With Harrison, we'd looked at V and it wasn't the swearing that resonated with me, it was the fact he'd used the word 'mam'.
Between that a lifelong love of music, I just really loved using words in different ways and having fun with language. I felt brave enough after a few months of writing to try giving performing ago, so started doing open mics around Manchester (I'm from Salford) in 2009 and won some local slams.
When I moved to London in 2011, my mental health took a bit of a dive and I couldn't deal with performing again. In 2014, I'd got talking to a friend on my degree course (who was and remains an amazing and accomplished poet) and showed her some of my writing – she encouraged me to apply for the Barbican Young Poets and I got on and was part of the programme from 2014 to 2016. BYP was an incredible experience and remains one of the happiest periods of my life and I made lots of new friends and came on a lot as a poet, thanks to the support and mentoring of Jacob Sam-La Rose, Kayo Chinonyi, Jasmine Cooray, and Rachel Long
In that time, I performed at a lot of venues in addition to the Barbican Centre, including the Southbank Centre, People's Palace, Rich Mix and Tate Modern, as well as a number of festivals such as Curious Festival (where I wrote a poem in Anglo-Saxon which was backed by a jazz quartet), the Barbican Weekender, Walthamstow Garden Party. I was part of the team responsible for curating National Poetry Day 2014 at the Southbank Centre, performed at Inua Ellams RAP Party, and worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on a commission which formed part of the the BBC's Centenary commemorations.
I've been published in a few places such as the Barbican anthologies, Watermarks anthology and Marble Poetry, longlisted for the erbacce prize, and nominated for the first Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship.
I am the current poet-in-residence for the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL. My work here is used to highlight and complement the research that is being done by the institute, providing a different way for people to interact with their work.
Other things that are important to know about me are that I'm non-binary (they/them/their pronouns), I love cats and Pepsi, and I like to box.
I’ll be going on a bit of a hiatus. Mainly because most of the poetry stuff in London tends to die down around the summer time (for a bunch of reclusive shut-ins, poets sure seem to enjoy the sun) but also because I will be working with Hoxton Hall over the Summer, helping to facilitate their amazing Summer School programme!
I am super excited for that and also my first trip to Portugal 🙂
Another set done w/o paper. Slowly building up my confidence with regards to learning my set and also being able to do the inbetweeny banter bits that are sort of scripted but rehearsed enough so that they don’t feel like they are.
The Rhythm and Poetry (RaP Party) is a poetry night like no other – poets perform a set based around Hip Hop and then provide the DJ with two tracks to play. Everybody dances and has a good time and then the next poet gets up. It was so much fun and made for a relaxed and joyous atmosphere to perform in. If you get the chance to go to the regular night, I highly advise it.
I performed a poem called The Preacher Is A Worshipper As Well. I will put it into its own post as, since it is a performance piece, I’m unlikely to want to submit it for publication.
The two songs that I chose were Ice Cube’s It Was A Good Day
Unfortunately, due to the ill health of the host, tomorrow’s gig has been cancelled. Apologies for the last minute update (though I’m reasonably sure it will impact 0 people). I’m a little annoyed at the late notice but it sounds like the host tried to push through the illness and just couldn’t so I hope you will join me in wishing her a speedy recovery. This was to be the last event before summer and I’ve been told I will be rebooked when the next slots open up – watch this space!
Luckily, I signed and sent off the contract with them last week which guarantees me the full fee as there was less than 24 hours notice, as well as reimbursing my train tickets, which they weren’t originally covering! So I get to be a paid poet with actually doing any poetry. A bittersweet moment.
So, in case you missed it, I am being published in an anthology. There are going to be two launch nights, one in Hebden Bridge and one in my native Manchester. I might be attending (along with my mum) and reading at the Manchester one but it will depend what my schedule is like.
The Hebden Bridge event is going to be held on Wednesday 29th June at The Book Case in Hebden Bridge. People can arrive from 6.30pm for a 7pm start.
The second launch takes place on Tuesday 6 July at the Portico Library in Manchester. The event will start at 6.30, with the reading beginning at 7pm. tickets will cost £5 and includes a glass of wine. Ticket money raised will go to Flood Relief and can be bought here.
This is so unreal. I got an email today saying that, while I didn’t place in the competition, my poem ‘Advice for the Patient’ made the ‘Highly Commended’ longlist so will be included in the anthology! Considering that they had over 500 entries and only 10 have made it into the book, I feel very chuffed.
I submitted a poem for the Watermark competition – there was prize money but the competition was to be put into an anthology that would be sold to raise money for the Watermark Flood Fund. Part of the reason I submitted was because my home area of Salford was badly affected by the Christmas flooding. Now I’ll be a part of a fund relief effort!
As soon as I have a link/further details, I will update this.
I only went and did my poem lying on the floor, didn’t I! It surprised everyone and had people getting up out of their seat to get a better look at me. The poem itself went down really well and had people laughing and feeling engaged. The night itself was extraordinary with every poet bringing their A game. It was truly a night of titans. We were all pushing each other to perform our best and it really showed in the variety of form, content, delivery and energy.
I’m thinking that I won’t do BYP again, having taken the programme as far as I think it will take me but there’s an alumni program looming in the horizon, so it’s not the end, just the start of a new chapter.
ARGGGGH! It’s tonight! I’m going on stage without paper and I’m going to try something experimental. ARRRRRRRRGH!
I’ll be wearing lipstick and a cat jumper and being all together too comfortable in my skin which I am not used to but BYP has made me feel like I can be myself and be accepted for who I am.
My poem is about not making sense. Another scary thought as my biggest fear as a poet is that no one will ‘get’ the poem – not that it will go over their head because I’m so dense and clever and whatnot but because I’ll have tried to be those things and just end up sounding stupid.