Promise Me The Journey Back – Debut Poetry Collection

Available on Amazon

Promise Me The Journey Back is the debut full-length collection of Whisky & Beards Publishing’s editor Connor Sansby.

Travel the way back to normal, as Connor explores the fictional final night of a break-up and all the drink, sex with strangers and heartache that entails. Blending sparse and delicate verbiage with blunt edges and a viscerality, Promise Me The Journey Back is a voyage on public transport to unravel the concepts of masculinity, vulnerability and love, while trying to uncover the person the author used to be, and have been all along.

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HIM.HER.US.I – A digital chapbook of InstaPoetry

Download here for free

HimHerUsIHIM.HER.US.I is a digital chapbook by Connor Sansby, reflecting on a hostile relationship, the break-up and the ensuing confusion. It is a personal work approached in a sarcastic manner, or maybe it’s a sarcastic work approached in a personal manner.

Released April 2018, it was read over 300 times in its first month. Originally intended as a companion piece/promotional release for Connor’s debut full-length collection “Promise Me The Journey Back“, it has since been performed in its entirety as a 20 minute set.

How To Ask For Poetry Gigs

Poets are hungry folks. We’re constantly looking for new audiences and venues to perform in. We’re a little like sharks: if we stop, we’re done.

Having said this, trying to find those gigs we want can require a more delicate touch than simply firing off a public comment. “Fancy booking me for a feature set?” isn’t the way to go.

Firstly, I’d like to state that a promoter’s private social media profile is usually their private space. If you wouldn’t be comfortable knocking on their front door, you shouldn’t message their private page unless they’re using that to host the gig. Most poetry promoters will have a public page or event for their night or themselves, which you can message. Some even ask you to send an email, especially if you’re asking for feature or headline work. Don’t think you’re being smart or jumping the queue by sending someone a direct message, you just look arrogant. Just like submitting written poetry to a magazine, you need to check the process and follow it.

If you’ve used the proper channel and haven’t heard back after a while, it’s okay to send a follow-up message. However, consider how long it’s been since you sent your first enquiry. Most promoters are busy mid-career poets who are dealing with their own bookings, their current feature acts, and promoting a night, alongside side jobs and family life.

If they don’t want to book you, don’t take it to heart. They might have specific criteria they are basing booking decisions on (such as gender representation) or your work might not be the right fit for their night. Be polite and thank them for their consideration. No one has ever changed their minds when seeing an ego flare up.

Now, onto the actual asking…

Don’t be too upfront and name drop/strut your accomplishments. This is especially off-putting to newer promoters, and in their eyes, you can actually disqualify yourself by sounding too good. It’s also really arrogant to assume they want to know; they may have an entire year of features booked up and here you are, rubbing what you’ve done in their face. Promoters are also almost always poets and sometimes, a little jealousy can creep in.

The best way to start your enquiry is to show that you have actually considered their event instead of sending the same email to a hundred different poetry nights. Most importantly, have you been to one of their events before? If not, have you looked at their work online? Do you follow them or have you heard great things from people? Let them know that! It’s softly appealing to their ego before you’ve even thought about asking for something from them. You are trying to start a dialogue rather than holding them hostage until they agree to book you.

So when is the right time to ask about booking? Once you’ve let the promoter know that they are being personally contacted, you can ask to be considered. Lay out why you’re asking for a gig; are you going to be in the area, or do you have a new book or show you’d like to promote?

The tone of your message should balance between humility and with a confidence befitting your work. If you genuinely feel you deserve the opportunity, it’s easy to make that case, but if you know you’re fishing, it’s easy to go on the offensive and scare promoters away.

I like to include a separate attachment that functions as a kind of CV or résumé, covering my bio and other achievements. It’s important that you don’t exaggerate yourself. Paint an honest picture of the work you’ve done. As an example, if you have won a monthly Hammer & Tongue slam, don’t tell people you’re THE Hammer & Tongue Champion, just say you won a monthly Hammer & Tongue slam.

Another particular bugbear of mine is this: don’t tell people you’ve supported major names if that’s not the truest case. If you’ve performed on the same stage, as part of the same event as a particular poet, and been booked to appear, then you have supported them. But if you were on a different stage during the weekend that that poet performed at, you haven’t supported that act. If you were part of an open mic or slam that a performer headlined, you haven’t supported them. If you cannot suitably fill in your accomplishments, perhaps you shouldn’t be looking at applying for feature sets just yet.

Finally, thank the promoter for their time. They’re busy people and even if they don’t want to book you for that night, a good impression can lead to other opportunities down the line. Some promoters will program festivals or work on fundraisers, or even run separate nights. You may be perfect for those future opportunities but if you don’t come across well, you can miss those chances.

Even if the opportunities don’t come, keep at it. Sooner or later, you will find yourself in a better position, professionally speaking, and you’ll be the right person for a slot in the future. Getting to those moments through hard work and growth feels so much better than trying to force your way into these things.

No Apologies – How to introduce a poem

I’ve seen it a hundred times. A newer poet takes the mic, prepares themselves to read their work and utters the fateful words “This probably isn’t any good.”

At this moment a handful of things happen. Firstly, the audience switch off and begin talking with their friends or checking their Facebook. Secondly, the host gets a little irritable, wondering why you’re taking mic time if your material isn’t good, and lastly, I, in the back of the room, wince.

People think they’re being humble when they say “this isn’t very good” or self deprecating when they say “this is really depressing” but the truth is by building these low expectations into your set, you give the audience the right to ignore you. Why would people want to listen to bad poetry?

To be a performance poet, you need to have a little bit of an ego. Nothing too crass but enough to justify standing on a stage and saying “these are my feelings and you should listen.” Even if you don’t feel like a rockstar, you have been given that time behind the microphone to wow a room. It’s okay to not rush into performance, to hold back work while you edit and make it better or to only perform when you have new work ready but you should never apologise. There is a validity in everyone’s poetry, including yours.

Another negative point about telling the audience your poem will be bad, you are telling them what to think. The poem, upon leaving the mouth of the poet, becomes that of the audiences. It is there’s to make of it what they wish, to find the notes that resonate with their own lives and the particular wordplay that appeal to them. Not every poem will be for everyone and that’s okay. Even if you connect with one person in the room, you have accomplished something wonderful.

We apologise before a poem because that’s when we are at our most nervous. Some go the other way and deliver long monologues before their pieces exploring the themes and inspirations behind everything. Once this has been done, is there really any reason to hear the poem?

This is done so one can acclimatise to the stage and the audience but it robs a performance of it’s power. Introducing poetry is hard, you don’t want to give too much away but you’re also compelled to show people what you’ve done and why.

Before beginning a poetry performance, I take a second to look out at the audience. I will adjust the microphone properly and then I will say hello. Nothing grand, just a simple hello. The audience is here to share an intimate moment with you and should be treated like a friend. This is all you need, those few moment of comfortable stillness.

Your introduction should be planned before hand. No more than two or three sentences. You are here to perform poetry, not to monologue. The simplest introduction is “This is a poem called…” and it works. The poem should speak for itself. You can say “this is about…” and give away the broad theme. The important thing is to not dwell on specifics and to have a clear idea of what you’re about to say before you say. This is where planning your set is absolutely vital. As you become more confident as a performer, you can start improvising but only once you’ve built that back catalogue of pre-amble and developed your confidence as a performer.

I often tell people the performance poet should be 1/5th a standup comedian. This doesn’t mean you need to be a wacky madman behind the mike, it just means as poets we can draw up the same confidence, story-telling and presence you see in comedians. We’re not given as many performances inspirations as poets outside of those we see live and on the internet. Stand-up comedy, provided you fully analyse the differences between the genre and poetry, is the closest we will usually see in our everyday lives.

Once you have taken the time to intro your piece, clear your throat. Step away from the microphone, give a little cough or sip of your drink and have another micropause. You’re about to switch from one gear to another, and like a car, you can get the engine jammed. Taking that time to refocus your headspace can make the difference between a flawless set and one with a coughing fit in the middle.

Step back to the microphone, take your final breath and begin. You’ve set them up, now knock them dead.

Thanet Poetry Journal Voume 3: Thanet Writers Takeover Edition – October 2017

Thanet-Poetry-Journal-Volume-3

We’re back for another spectacular showcasing of Thanet’s writing talent. For this issue we at Neanderthal Beard reached out to Thanet Writers, a local CIC that we work with on various projects. They’re great people who put a lot of time and effort into building and maintaining our local writing community, not just for poets but writers of all disciplines.

Fittingly, as we’ve just celebrated Hallowe’en, this volume dwells on the macabre and ethereal, almost casting Margate as a land of the dead. The name Thanet, it is sometimes said, comes from the “Ynys Thanatos” in Ancient Greek myths. Though there are many tales on how this Island got its name, that’s always been my favourite. On the foggy nights recently, you can almost see the boats, rowing the dead to their final resting place.

Though this may sound dark and gloomy, I think ultimately this is a collection of love, as many things are.

Thanet Writers have been, and continue to be, a blast to work with and I sincerely hope you enjoy this volume of the Thanet Poetry Journal, edited by The Thanet Writers Editorial Team. I hope many of you will find your way to their website and submit content, whether story, poem or even articles on the subject of writing. It’s all part of Thanet Writers mission to build, promote and educate the writer’s of Thanet.

For the next volume, we are proud to welcome Setareh Ebrahimi to the editors chair. Until then, curl up by a fire with this collection and look out over the water and try to find the pale oarsman bringing the dead home on the shores of Thanet.

 

Quantum Love Notes From A Typewriter Attached to a Phone

Sometimes I think I am writing messages in a bottle
made of ones and zeroes
like there is and isn’t meaning
behind the words I’m using
and I’m throwing them in an ocean
waiting to see if anyone gets back to me

Just because our social media
says we are in sync
doesn’t mean we can feel each other
across this distance
but when we stay up all night,
sharing pictures via wifi
of our pyjamas
it seems like the whole wide world
is just another, big round zero
and we are two ones
on different points of its curve
When I was at school
I was told than an infinite line with a slight bend
would eventually come all the way back round
and touch itself
but the phone lines between us
have been broken by satellites,
so each time we say “I miss you”
it is literally a voice from heaven
made up of ones and zeroes
like there both is and isn’t meaning in it

 

My girlfriend doesn’t live that far away but it’s far enough that sometimes I can miss her. Recently I went on holiday, away from the internet. It was only a few days but I missed her still and I thought of those people in long distance relationships with people on the otherside of the planey and the role the internet plays in their lives. This made me think of all the people who might be in a relationships if only they were a little closer, for whom that distance is the only thing keep them apart but it still seems so great that neither one will admit they want more than whatever they share with this person.

Another lost rockstar…

With so many deaths

I am starting to grow bored.

I remember when rock stars did heroin

And died gracefully, in their sleep.

 

Now everyone has to make a noise

To cut through to the evening news

Where stiff white men in ties

Will remember what the music meant to them

When they wore ripped jeans

And stayed up all night.

 

There is one I follow,

Without a shelf of Grammys

And amidst the stream of

Repeated memories, he writes

“All my friends are dying”

And for him,

I worry.

 

Perhaps it’s the curse of a twenty-four hour news cycle and exposure to all stories via social media but in the wake of Chester Bennington’s suicide, I don’t feel sad. I feel empty. I know there is lose but I think it’s one I knew would come.

With Chris Cornell, he seemed like he had defeated his demons and so, that shook me. With Chester, I never thought he was finished fighting, so when the news broke that he had committed suicide, all I could feel was a sense of bitterness.

In the wake of Chris Cornell’s death, I read the feed from Richard Patrick of Filter as he shared Chris’s impact on his journey to sobriety. In that, I knew the humanity and I was saddened. Again, Richard loses another friend and he shares five words that cut deep: “all my friends are dying.”

Maybe right now, all I can do is repost the same message about how Hybrid Theory was one of the first albums I owned. Maybe I could be angry. Maybe I could be sad. Maybe I don’t care anymore, as I watch another teenage hero of mine pass away at their own hand. Maybe I’m angry at the legions of people who have nothing to say except that they owned an album of his and that grants them a ticket to take part in the grieving.

I know people are entitled to their own sadness. I won’t chase them down to tell them they own no part of this. I just wish people did more. I hate the statues of “my door is always open” or the same old suicide hotlines that are shared in the wake of these tragedies. Suicidal people don’t need open doors, they need long-term support, not drama hungry platitudes. One day, I may call these out but for now, I suppose I am angry and this is my grieving.