My debut poetry collection ‘Please Mind the Gap is finally out! I’ve got to say a massive thank you for everyone who has helped me to create the collection. I shall be having a night to celebrate the release of the book in London on December 2nd. Find more details are here and discover more about the collection below!
Please Mind the Gap is Sophie Sparham’s debut poetry collection.
The collection features a foreword from Professor Benjamin Zephaniah: “I am delighted to introduce Sophie Sparham to the wider world through this debut collection. She has a unique and distinctive voice, and has some very important things to say. I am sure she will shine in the years to come and her talent will carry her far. I hope that you, the reader, connect with her messages, feel her flow, and find meaning in her intelligent and creative verse.”
Please Mind the Gap can be purchased via Amazon or via Paypal by sending £6, plus £1.50 postage to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m really excited to say that after 10 years of creating audio, my first radio documentary aired on BBC Radio 4. The documentary is an half an hour piece on St Pancras’s street pianos in London. It was a pleasure working with Overtone to create this and I’m excited for people to take a listen.
For those wanting to hear it, the link is here.
A lyrical improvisation captures the music and the stories of those who stop to play the street pianos at St Pancras Station in London, exploring the communities the music creates in this transient urban setting.
Around 45 million people pass through the station each year, travelling not only to the North of England or Kent, but also to Paris, Brussels and Lille. Visitors who stop unexpectedly – and regulars who come frequently – play the station’s unusual street pianos with a wide range of musical styles and ability. Their personal stories reinforce ideas about the universal language of music and its ability to cut across class, nationality, creed and colour.
Over the years, top performers from Sir Elton John to Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum to John Legend, have all played here – with Sir Elton signing and donating a piano.
But this programme tells the story of the ordinary people and the tunes they play. It provides intimate access into strangers’ lives and to this London station at both its busiest and its quietest moments.
Wow, so the past few months have flown by and I have to say it’s great to be able to get my workshops business off the ground.
In 2017 alone I’ve worked with the Padley Centre, various schools, Nottingham Poetry Festival and even Leicester City Football Club delivering workshops to people all shapes and sizes. There’s a lot more to come and definitely a lot more to build on, but all in all it’s been a good start to the year.
Some dismiss it, but to me creative writing is probably one of the most powerful tools in existence. It allows us to express ourselves and builds new things such as confidence, friendship and determination, all through the power of words.
Words are pretty cool right?
Anyway, in June I shall be taking a six weeks course at the Quad for those six weeks we shall develop different aspects of form, content, editing and performance.
Details are here: http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/course/poetry-from-start-to-finish.aspx
So how’s it all going guys? Last week was a busy one for many reason, but the most important result was that my workshop business passed panel at the Prince’s Trust! To most of you reading this, that phrase will probably mean nothing. And why would it? When I first heard about the Prince’s Trust I thought it was about going on long hikes in the countryside with two stone backpacks on. I was very wrong- that was in fact the Duke of Edinburgh!
In fact, The Prince’s Trust Charity runs an enterprise course for people aged 18- 30 who want to start up a business. Basically you go on a four-day course to learn about business, an adviser helps you plan your business plan and then you go through a panel of experts to get it confirmed. Once your plan has been approved, you get a business mentor for two years.
And you know what the best thing is? It’s FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE.
I know, I couldn’t believe it either. I’ve attached the link below for more info, but if you’re from Derbyshire and reading this, then drop me a line and I’ll send you the Derbyshire organiser’s info.
I have two people to thank for referring me to the program; photographer Alex Cantrill-Jones and magician Luca Gallone. Good lads they are. Also massive thanks to Gen and Helen, who helped me through the course. I really had no idea about anything to do with business beforehand and if I can do it then anyone can!
So the good news is that all the writing workshops I deliver for you lovely people, around poetry and fiction, will be Prince’s Trust certified. There’s a lot in the pipeline and something that I can’t yet speak about, but the main plan for me is to deliver creative writing workshops through the means of schools, charities and hopefully prisons in the future.
Everything shall be tailored to what the customer requires and more details can be found on the Workshops page of the website. If you want examples of my work, please follow the ‘Written Word’ tab.
I measure life in years. I used to measure it in weeks, even days, but that only lead to me worrying myself to death if I didn’t meet my goals quick enough. When my friends are feeling sad I tell them; ‘Think of all that you’ve done this year and put it into perspective with the bigger picture that you’re trying to create’. I think this more important now than ever before, as everyone seems to fixated on the present they forget all the brilliant things already they’ve done.
I’ve never been a fan of new year, new me, nor any bandwagon trends for that matter. However, I think before we move forward, it’s important to take a look back at our achievements of 2016. I’ve listed my belong, alongside a series of goals for this year. Why not do the same and we look how far we’ve come in December?
In 2016 I….
Left my job, to pursue my writing career.
This one was the biggie. I was working full time as a journalist for my local paper, but something just didn’t feel right. I had a half finish novel at my desk and the urge to help vulnerable people through poetry. So in the end I took the jump and although I’m not where I want to be, I’m definitely on the way.
Finished my novel.
Surprise, surprise after I left my job, I was freed up in between my part-time shifts and could actually finish my book. It felt good to write: ‘The End’.
Got an agent.
This was extremely difficult but so worth it when I found someone that understood what I was trying to do. I’m really looking forward to working with the lovely Tom Ashton this year.
Performed at Rebellion Festival in the Opera House
Rebellion is a huge festival, the biggest punk festival in the UK to be precise and The Opera House was the biggest stage that I’ve ever performed on. Going on before Steve Ignorant was amazing.
Played my first roller derby game.
This was extremely scary, it was against North Cheshire Roller Victory Rollers and about half of our team dropped out last minute. I’ll blog more about roller derby, but for now I’ll just say it was an amazing rush.
Went on a road trip to Berlin.
Yes, me, my best friend, boyfriend and brother all went on a road trip to Berlin and back again. I’ve always wanted to go on a road trip, so I was thrilled when we actually managed to achieve it. I was even more amazed when me and Emily managed to plan it. I really wanted to go again, but it’ll be a little while now!
In 2017 I want to…
Get a publishing deal.
Yes it’s the dream, but it’s not going to slip away from me this year. With Tom at my side, we’ll see if I can finally achieve my number one goal!
Running a successful workshop business.
I have always wanted to use writing to help other people. That’s why this year I aim to use what I know about poetry and writing to help people develop their creativity.
Put together my first poetry collection.
Yeah, I’ve been waiting a longgggggg time to do this and there’s some exciting news around it. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Produce more radio documentaries.
As well as writing, I also love making audio documentaries. We shall see what’s in store…
Who inspires you?
So it’s been a busy few weeks and before I run away on tour with a punk band I shall be taking part in UKYA 2016.
I truly believe that words can change the world so for my latest poetry project I have written a collection called ‘Dead Air: If they won’t put us in the history books, we’ll write our own stories’ , which shall be showcased at the festival.
This collection showcases revolutionary figures that have been forgotten throughout history such as LGBT+ activists, black revolutionary figures, powerful women and people who have just genuinely made life as we know it better.
People are amazing and some of the things I have learnt have truly truly moved me.
I shall be performing these around Derby this weekend, but thought it would be ace if maybe this could be an idea to develop and expand in future.
Visit http://www.ukyoungartists.co.uk/ for more info about the festival and to find out what’s going on.
However, if you do wanna catch me and Addictive Philosophy on the road, tour dates are as follows:
I’m really excited to announce that my poem dedicated to John Cooper Clarke will feature in the beautiful zine ‘STEPZ II: Between the Rollerama and the Junk Yard’, which has been created by Dr Tina Richardson and Ally Standing.
This will be displayed as part of the exhibition ‘Loitering with Intent’ at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. John Cooper Clarke has always been a massive influence on me and was one of the first people to make me realise that poetry is for everyone, not just those with good educations.
The exhibition opens July 23rd and will remain open until October.
You can find out more details here: http://www.phm.org.uk/whats-on/ and here: http://particulations.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/between-rollerama-and-junk-yard.html
I’ll be posting a proper update soon, but for now, here’s one of my columns that I write for the paper. TW: Suicide.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to write this column, but I feel these words must be said.
Hours after the first day of spring was announced, I discovered that an old friend had taken his own life.
Although I knew him from years ago in a time of innocence that has now been forgotten, the news struck a raw chord with me.
And the same questions flooded my head that have flooded many a person’s mind when faced with the same news.
Why? Why? Why? Could I have helped? Could anything have been done differently?
These thoughts seem rather useless now. Nothing can change what has happened.
Another young soul has left the world. My old friend had a future and now he is dead.
My heart goes out to his family, friends and others who have been shocked and hurt by the news.
However, I also grieve for all the young people who have taken their lives far too soon.
I think of the other needless losses this year and, through the heartache for today’s younger generation, I feel a sense of anger.
I also feel a sense of duty to speak out. This must stop happening. There are too many young tragedies. There are too many parents left to mourn by gravesides. And there are too many people who still aren’t open to talking about mental health.
However, I also acknowledge that we have progressed. Over the years, through campaigns such as Time To Talk and TV programmes like Stephen Fry’s The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, mental health issues are slowly progressing to the forefront of people’s minds.
It is great that this subject is now more out in the open, but there is still a long way to go in terms of dealing with the black dog.
I can’t help shake the feeling that, despite living through a time where everyone is so connected, I’ve never known people to feel so cut off. There seems to be a loneliness that has fallen over the modern world.
It’s great how we can speak to one another so easily now, especially if we have loved ones who live far away. But I also wonder if it has created too much small talk and not enough longer dialogues.
It seems as though every time I have a proper conversation with somebody these days, they tell me they feel as though they have no friends, no social life, no time to see family and too much work.
I’m not sure if this has always been the case, but I don’t ever remember my generation being so sad.
It seems like there is more pressure on teenagers and young adults than ever before.
For years, teenage and young adult sadness has not been taken seriously by a lot of people. Maybe this is something that needs to change.
What an older adult may see as trivial and easy, a younger adult may see as difficult and hard to cope with.
This is not just limited to age. Different things affect different people in different ways.
We often make jokes about the moody teenager. I often hear the phrase: “You have nothing to worry about at your age.”
Maybe it’s time we start realising that there is actually a lot to worry about, no matter what your age.
Dealing with depression is no easy ride. It is dark and terrifying and sometimes it seems like the light at the end of the tunnel is a complete myth.
But I promise those suffering that things can get better over time. There is always hope and there is always another option.
Now it is spring, the flowers are beginning to bloom and the sign of new life is in the air – 2016 could be a really beautiful year if we give it chance to grow.
Young hearts, don’t burn out too soon. There is so much that is still left to do.
Take care of yourselves and one another.
Read the original article here: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Young-hearts-don-t-burn-soon/story-29007595-detail/story.html#ixzz44vtypSYr
This week I feel I’ve discovered the true power of spoken word.
I knew it was always there, but I’ve never felt this strongly about it before.
I’ve been luckily enough to meet two people who have moved the nation with just their voices. Firstly, John Lydon, secondly, Benjamin Zephaniah.
Some may say that these two couldn’t be further apart, but I believe them both to be extremely similar. They’ve both changed the world for the better and they’ve both resonated with millions of people.
Firstly, we’ll start with John. I rung him in LA the other evening as he’s performing at Bearded Theory, a Derby festival (some of you may know my main job is working for the local paper in Derby.)
I was extremely nervous about speaking to him due to past interviews he’s done, but he was lovely, a real pleasure to talk to. Obviously John is famous for being in The Sex Pistols and generally being ‘rotten’, but there’s a lot more to the man than that.
He says that his music joins people together and I believe he’s right. John said PiL was all about inclusion and the fact that any race, sexuality, creed, colour whatever could come to his gig and feel part of it. That’s such an important thing to me.
Secondly, Benjamin Zephaniah heard my poetry and thought it was alright, which is kinda mad in itself! However, I then took a trip down to Brunel uni to meet him. I can honestly say, despite all the amazing poets out there, he’s the one who’s inspired me the most. I could listen to that man talk all day.
Benjamin is a prime example of social change through spoken word. He spoke about his first ‘hit’ ‘Dis police man keeps kicking me to death’, which is actually a ground breaking track. Here’s the remix below:
He was one of the first people to give black people in Britain a proper voice in today’s society and he did it all through the power of words.
This track also breaks my heart a lot because he told me that it’s about him getting left in a cell by the police and getting beaten for a week straight- which is ILLEGAL, in case you didn’t already know.
Benjamin didn’t come from a family that were particularly passionate about words, he was a black working class young man with a criminal record, now he’s one of the most respected names in spoken word across the globe.
Although I have no experience of black oppression and never will do for obvious reasons, I have experienced homophobia and hate crimes in my youth. Originally, I didn’t think a ‘nobody’ such as myself would be able to make a difference in society, but I don’t believe that now.
The truth is people like you and me aren’t nobodies at all, we’re the true voices of the nation. Our everyday words represent the real stories of the world. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re just as important as anyone else and your experience and words adds to informing others about the many different aspect of the human experience.
Sometimes I feel like I want to give up, like my voice doesn’t matter and my message will do no good, but when I think of inspirational men, women and others such as these people, I feel that there is hope
It is so easily to feel powerless. People, businesses, countries and more want you to feel like it doesn’t matter what you do or say nothing will change. However, you must remember that the most powerful people in history, the ones that we learn about at school, the ones that moved the world, were just ordinary people. They were nobodies too.
On Friday night I performed at my friend’s even for refugees at Ort Café in Birmingham. We raised £500 just through getting behind a mic and performing spoken word. If that’s not powerful then I don’t know what it.
You don’t have to climb a mountain, you can keep climbing hills and soon notice the benefits. So in summary, here’s why your words, written or spoken, can make a positive social change:
1. They can change minds – You may feel your preaching to the converted, but your words could educate and change someone’s opinion about a story.
2. Your words can raise money/ inform people about great causes – speaking, writing or performing at charity gigs can bring real important subjects to a head.
3. They can give people an emotional outlet – When I’ve done poems about rape or sexual abuse, the amount of women that have come up to me afterwards and have said ‘I’ve been through that’ is both astounding and horrific. People can have a release by relating to your words, they can feel as though they’re not alone. Your words can also be a good release for you, I get very low points in my life and poetry is one way that I’m able to deal with them.
Basically, it’s helpful for both parties!
Never stop discussing important issues.
If it’s worth saying, say it.
Peace and love,
Right, so this year I’ve made a promise to myself that I’m going to blog properly and not just talk about media things, writing things and work things, but proper life things.
I wasn’t quite sure how to start it all off, but I’m basing it on my favourite writer’s blog, Neil Gaiman, and he’s pretty successful, so hopefully this will also be acceptable! I think as well as showcasing what I’m doing it’s also important to showcase the struggle of everyday life, because it’s not all cool people. You don’t just so stuff without struggle! So here we go….
2016 happened, David Bowie died and the world stopped momentarily.
Yeah, it sucked really bad. I loved Bowie, he was a massive inspiration on my new novel, but his memory will always live on.
My friend said: “ David Jones is dead. David Bowie will live on forever.”
So true and awesome! Read my own words on Bowie here: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/RIP-8203-David-Bowie-world-lost-rock-roll-legend/story-28499194-detail/story.html
2016 has been a massive year of loss so far in the celebrity world and in my personal life, which I’ll speak about at a later date. However, it’s also been a January of new beginnings and a lot of radio work!
At the start of the year a lovely retired science teacher called Fred asked me to edit his radio drama. I agreed, then found out it was about old people who killed youths causing problems on their council estates! Madness!
It took me a full on 12 hour day to get it done but it was worth it and the results sounded great.
However, I forgot how many different sound effects there are for things. Seriously, there are like 12 different cup chinking sound effects and don’t even get me started on how many different opening and closing of door sounds you can get.
As well as this I got commissioned to present 19 radio shows for the National Careers Service for National Prison Radio. The shows are about helping get prisoners work when they leave prison which is a subject I’m extremely passionate about!
Those who know me will know that I’ve worked with the PRA before and it’s honestly an honor to be invited back to do more work. I’m currently recording in London once a week with a lovely producer called Adam Fowler, whose work is seriously amazing.
I’ve even been asked to speak to a group of documentary students at BCU tomorrow! My old tutor must be mad if he wants me to give them some of my twisted wisdom!
So basically, it’s all go at the moment, but I’m hoping all the work is going to pay off.
I’ll leave you with my picture of me and my best friend dressed up at The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Brum.
January wasn’t so bad after all.