Category Archives: Bardic

Wherefore- a new project

Wherefore is a new project I have under way. It’s contemporary set, speculative fiction and I’m posting it as youtube videos – aiming for three times a week. The videos are about ten minutes a piece – because lots of people have very poor concentration right now. The story is being approached in a soap opera style so I don’t have to worry about the overall shape or structure of it too much. Let’s see what I learned in my years of listening to The Archers! This will be paranormal Archers with more romance, polyamoury, queer characters, and complicated relationships. I’m aiming for suitable for over 12s as a broad indicator – it’s not especially sweary and when anyone shags they won’t do so in graphic detail! There’s not going to be much violence, if any.

The best way to follow it will be to subscribe to my youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2iAnLZ1JJzOfltGrnS0P8Q

I think there’s some comfort to be had in faces and voices, which is why I’m doing it this way. BUT if you can’t do audio and want to have some daft speculative fiction in your life, just comment and I’ll send it to you by email as I go along.

Here’s episode 1

And episode 2

Like most creative people, we’re seeing a drop in household income right now. There’s a great deal of uncertainty in the publishing industry – which is where most of our work has come from. If you’d like to help fund us I have a ko-fi page –  Ko-fi.com/O4O3AI4T

And I’m also on Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/NimueB

Not all self employed people can re-purpose for an online economy, so please watch out for friends who are in difficulty right now. Beauty industry folk, taxi drivers, gig economy workers, people who worked events but not as performers and many others… Please look after whoever you can.


Singing my brokenness

This is, without a doubt, one of the grimmest things I’ve ever written for the Hopeless Maine project. Mostly what I do is twisted whimsy, lacing anything difficult with comedy or charm. However, when I wrote this song, I was in a serious mess. It came from a place of pain and wounding, and while it sounds like a song about a fictional island lost in the fog, it was in many ways a song about how I was feeling. I genuinely had very little hope in my life.

I needed to record a version of it ahead of a Hopeless Maine performance project. It’s been on my mind to do so for a while, but I hadn’t got there. In the end, I picked a very bad day to do it. I picked a day when I’d done a lot of crying, and my heart was breaking. It meant I was able to sing this song in something approaching the way it was written. I don’t live in those emotional spaces anymore and it was interesting to see how much has changed for me and how unusual a day it took to put me in the headspace where I could properly relate to what I’d written.


Latest news from Hopeless Maine

Those of you who have been with me for a while will know that aside from writing about Druidry, I also write fiction and graphic novels. At time of writing, there are three Hopeless Maine graphic novels out there, two prose books, an array of videos from our live performance stuff, a great deal of art, and copious amounts of contributions from other people. This is the project that brought my husband and I together and it remains a big part of our lives.

The latest development is a film project, which we’ve only gone public about in recent weeks. We’re going to make a Hopeless Maine silent film on a period camera, with a soundtrack, and a mix of actors and puppets. We have most of the team to do this in place.

I’ve started charting the journey over on the Hopeless Maine blog, so if you’re curious, there’s going to be posts every Friday, and two are up already as this post goes live. https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/category/hopeless-film/

If you’re super keen and you follow me at any level aside from Moon over on Patreon, you’ll get a monthly update about what’s actually happening right now with the project, not just the back history. https://www.patreon.com/NimueB Sign up as a dustcat and you can read one of the aforementioned Hopeless prose novels as a series. There is also Druid stuff over there – the level called Bards and Dreamers, or combine fiction and non-fiction streams by becoming a Steampunk Druid.

To avoid duplicating too much, I won’t put much film content on this blog, but I may be going to talk about the creative and collaborative processes here as that content won’t be going anywhere else. I’m really excited about the people I’m working with and the creative possibilities in all of this.

And yes, that post I did a bit back about Gregg McNeil is part of all this – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/the-glorious-work-of-gregg-mcneil/


Messing with Sonnets

There is an elegance to the sonnet form that has always appealed to me. However, the origin of the sonnet has other things going on besides the structure and rhyme on the page. The Petrarchan sonnet is about the unobtainable, idealised beloved. It’s something Shakespeare both works with and pushes back against. It’s very much part of the poetic tradition of man as poet and woman as muse – something that has long frustrated me about older writing, and that drove me round the bend with Graves’ The White Goddess.

Most of us first encounter sonnet form through Shakespeare, and I think there’s a pull to that kind of language while writing sonnets. Part of the way through writing the one below, it struck me that I really want to work with the kind of language that seems out of place in a poem of this shape. I’ll be exploring that in the future.

I’ve already got a bit of a thing going around deliberately unromantic poetry, and this is certainly one of those…

 

A Challenge

Give me the lust that dares to speak its name

Bring me the joy of confident desire

The longing that refuses to know shame

The lips that gasp, the skin that seems on fire.

I have no time for guilt or reluctance

If wanting proves submissive unto fear

There’s more to this than getting in your pants,

Informed consent is something I hold dear.

Seduction holds no temptation for me

I shall not be your reason for betrayal

A willing gift of self would be the key

To love on other terms would be to fail.

I am not here to bring about your fall,

Come willingly, or do not come at all.


Performance magic

Sometimes, when you take a piece out and perform it, it does not go as planned. Sometimes, there is magic in the moment and the whole nature of the piece and your relationship with it can change. I’m not talking here about things that go wrong, or things that come up when you are under-prepared, but the way in which a space, an audience or an atmosphere can radically change a piece.

When you learn and practice a piece – be that a song, story, tune or poem – you’ll bring certain emotional tones to it. Much of what you bring will be about your feelings for the piece itself and what it evokes in you. Context can shift that – the mood of an audience, the impact of the performance space and so forth. I’ve done a little bit of singing in churches and those are massively unpredictable spaces for me, and I’m never sure how that kind of setting will shift how I perform.

The acoustics of a place can have considerable impact on performance. The differences between singing in a cave, and in a windy field are enormous. Some places invite you to slow down, to linger, while others encourage livelier performances. Some places you can use your voice quietly and still be heard. Some performance spaces can only be shouted into. This can mean you are working against the vibe of your piece, but sometimes it’s a magical shift that brings the material alive in new ways.

Sometimes it’s all about the audience. It’s effective to dig in with whatever suits the collective mood. Some audiences don’t respond well to certain tones and feelings. The feminist fury that gets you a ‘hell yes’ in one place may fall in awkward silence in another. Some audiences respond well to bawdy humour, others less so. The presence of a child in a room can encourage you to skip hastily over some kinds of detail.

One of my best audience moments was in a poem where I made a joke about bestiality, and the one dog in the room picked that moment to emit one loud bark!

I find it’s best not to fight these things. Going with what happens in a space, in a moment, with an audience gets powerful results, while fighting it seldom works.


The New Clothes – a poem

We nod and agree that the Emperor

Is wearing exquisite clothes.

The best clothes.

He’s the most fashionable Emperor

We’ve ever been blessed with.

We love him.

We nod, and agree that if we are poor

It is our fault for not trying harder.

The Emperor says we would all be wealthy

If we weren’t so lazy.

When we die on waiting lists

Die on trolleys outside A&E

Die because the drugs are too expensive

For the likes of us, we nod, and agree

That the Emperor is not to blame.

We should have chosen healthier lifestyles.

When our children are driven to suicide

By the Emperor’s new exam strategy

And those who survive can’t find work enough

To live on and will never own homes

We nod, and agree when the Emperor says

It is because of foreign people.

The Emperor’s new Brexit is going well

These are the sunny uplands and if

We aren’t living the dream, we have

Only ourselves to blame – that and the Remoaners

Who ruin it all with their negativity.

We nod, and agree that it is their fault, and our fault.

The Emperor cannot be blamed if we refuse

To fulfil our true potential.

Where is our heroic urge to die trying?

Why do we not sacrifice ourselves

For the greater good? It is such a small thing to ask.

The Emperor stands before us in his

Staggeringly expensive and truly impressive new clothes

And tells us to try harder. We nod and agree.

What do we know?

No one wants to admit they can’t see his remarkable suit

Can see his sagging Y fronts while everyone else

Sees what they are told to see.

We dare not, must not say we have wondered

If the Emperor knows full well he stands before us

In just his pants while his propaganda squad

Fawn over the elegant cut of his fictional suit.

We’ve all seen him smiling.

What if the Emperor knows full well

He has no clothes on

But if we nod and agree with this

We’ll nod and agree with anything

We don’t want to look like fools or failures.

Nod and agree, suffer willingly

Work harder for our most beloved Emperor

In his oh so beautiful new clothes.


All hands to the decks

This song is a collaboration with Penny Blake, who you can find on Patreon –  https://www.patreon.com/blakeandwight or over here – https://blakeandwight.com/ 

The song lyrics come from  Penny’s fabulous novel – The Curious Adventures of Smith and Skarry, Book 1, which you can find on Amazon.  I reviewed it here – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/the-curious-adventures-of-smith-and-skarry-a-review/  

The whole thing is rather steampunk, with tea, pirates, and so forth so we decided to dress up for the occasion. Tom is frequently a tea pirate.

Tune by me, with singing in by Tom Brown and James Weaselgrease.

I don’t do much cosplay, but this is also me having a go at being Max – a gender complicated being from the same book. I need to buy a wig.


The glorious work of Gregg McNeil

Below is a film about Gregg McNeil and Dark Box Images. I first met Gregg at a steampunk event (Timequake in Manchester) nearly 2 years ago. He takes photos of people using an old camera, and develops images in the way that early photographers did – onto glass or tin plate. It is a wonderful thing to watch, and the results have an unpredictable quality that profoundly adds to their charm.

I’ve been plotting with Gregg in earnest for some time now. He’s fed me ideas, and helped me develop as I move towards an area of creative working that is entirely new to me. That light-touch mentoring has already proved invaluable and I am really excited about where we are going with all of this. And no, I am not talking details at this stage except to say that it is a Hopeless Maine project, the first draft is written, and one of the members of the team working on this does awesome things with old cameras. I shall be drip-feeding more as we go along.

For now, I can say that I am so inspired by the people I am working with, and more excited about this project than I’ve been about anything creative in years. It’s been a long time since I’ve run into something new that I wanted this much. I like how that feels.

Find out more about Dark Box Images here – https://www.darkboximages.com/ 


Something festive from Hopeless Maine

One from the other side… a festive song from the fictional island of Hopeless Maine. if you’re not familiar with this project, you can find out more at http://www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com

 

That’s me in the veil, glowing ominously. My son is wearing the octopus on his head, and the chap in the back hat is Tom Brown.


If it is not too much to ask – a poem

Bring me your excess and your unreason.

Bring me your broken hearted devastation

At the state of the world, your passionate desire

For something better, your idealism,

Your most irrational hope and wildest optimism.

Show me the places where you are

Almost unbearably tender, already shattered,

Wounded and healing, dripping sweat and tears

Show me your scars. The ones the world inflicted

The ones you made in your own skin

Out of grim necessity, the need for art,

The quest for some kind of meaning.

Tell me the outlandish stories of how

You came to be here, tell me the preposterous

Dreams that define the path you mean to take.

Share with me the warmth of your hands

On my hands, the warmth of you leaning against me

The sacred, magic circles of arms and holding.

Share the rites of passage, the rituals of meaning.

Give me the parts of yourself you are most afraid of.

Give me the weight of your shame, your loneliness.

I am hungry for these things in ways almost no one

Understands but perhaps you are one of the few

Who can cough up jagged truth like owl pellets

And breathe the flames of your most unacceptable self

Into my life. Bring me your unspeakable longing

And your existential fear, tell me what is

Worth dying for, and harder still,

What is worth living for.

And perhaps I can kiss the part of your soul

That was always unkissable and perhaps

I can bring my too raw, bloody and dangerous

Tenderness to the parts of you that you fear

And perhaps there are enough of us we can

Devise new ways of being in the world

With our tendencies to bleed to death when wounded

And scream in pain and ecstasy

And set fire to ourselves

And love everything too fiercely

And ourselves not sufficiently.

Perhaps we can talk about it all night.

We can make sense of it a little,

Make welcome what we keep hidden in the dark

On the inside.

Bring me your excess and unreason

That I may promise fantastical things

And weave life out of that dreaming.