Category: Music

Hats For Headway (by )

So this is a thing, I didn't know it was a thing - I probably did but then forgot :/ But get your fancy head gear out!

knitted brain hat

Today is #HatsforHeadway to raise awareness and cash for an absolutely brilliant charity who have helped so much with people like me who have sustained head injuries. This is the hat I knitted for the Science Showoff on Neurology and brainy things special that they did. It was a wonderful evening with Dr Carina Fearnley a fellow head injury sufferer and friend from my Geology undergraduate days. She has made a fantastic video about her experience:

The event was at the Star of Kings in London but I believe was raising money for the Bristol Headway and I made a paper mache brain and got gummy brain sweets. The hat has since appeared at various British Science Week Events, Cheltenham Science Festival and BBC Country File Live show/festival. It was an amazing night were I learnt about all sorts of things including the medical skeletons etc... lurking beneath London and what their skulls can tell us!

What I didn't say at the time was that I was struggling with knitting due to the damage to my left hand side so this whole thing was create out of loom knitting (French knitting or knitting nancy/spool knitting are all mini looms). Also for me to actually make it to the gig my dad had to come and meet me at the station - which in your 30's is pretty embarrassing, but I have only recently been able to attempt travel on my own on that sort of scale and I was still unable to cook anything other than a microwave meal safely on my own (I've set fire to pans and tried to pick up boiling pots with my bare hands...).

There is currently an Art Exhibit and series of talks etc... at Kings College about head injury including a pice on Identity after the fact. I myself had to basically learn to draw again - I always drew with both hands but now... the pictures come out distorted - I have a blind spot in my left eye, and hand coordination was hard. Add in the crisis of everyone else knowing more about me than I myself did and I ended up producing Love: A Stranger Dream. It started as distinct pictures which people asked for as colouring sheets so I put them up for free download here. Then I realised there was a kind of non-linear narrative or themes running through the works and it became a book of visual poetry. I took refuge in art - something that is quiet important in developing coping mechanisms and reducing the amount of depression that head injury victims feel - it is like having everything that is you stripped away.

I even made audio.

And video of it.

Art that started as a way to just express myself when speech and writing where hard graft ended up as something that has helped friends, it explores lots of different aspects of identity and so has ended up at GLBT+ events, dis/different-ability events, music and art installations, two different events for International Women's Day, comic book conventions, poetry events, story telling and maze festivals. I've even made a dress from the art work 0.o - ok yeah I got carried away!

(can't find the photo - if I came across it I'll add it later! but it got compared to the stuff worn by the Welsh Eisteddfod singer/bardic peeps)

As I've probably bored everyone with - I have not long been discharged from the head injury unit including physio at Gloucester Royal - still under neurology but the main chunk of it is done. Charities like Headway - the brain injury association are an absolute life line and they have local branches but head injury sufferers often struggle to get the help that's needed especially as most of the time they still look "normal". I was being mistaken for being drunk and struggling with lots of things. So yeah - hats for headway 🙂

May Events 2018 (by )

Bit late to be adding this now considering I have already performed at a few including the Swindon Literature Festival's 25th anniversary extravaganza of a poetry slam (Joy-Amy won!!!) which included people like Tina Sedaholm and other previous winners. I have been to London, Bristol, and Stroud also - but that is the what has been and there is still a lot to come!

Sat 19th May 3-7 pm Food For Thoughts Heroes event in Worcester - poetry, music, spoken word, comedy and story telling - free with charity collection

Tues 22nd May 6-8 pm Gloucester's second Pecha Kucha Night - fast fun Japanese style presentations on various creative and community aspects or the creatives tales themselves - my presentations is From Rocks To Puppets and Back Again - Gloucester - free

Sun 27th May 2-4 pm - Sea Special Villanelles at Waterstones Cafe - I am co-hosting this event with poetry games and open mic, come and share your own work or poems that have inspired you - Gloucester - free and family friendly

Wed 30th May 7:30 pm start - History Showoff Women's Special at the Bishopsgate Institute - a night of comedy and cabaret - come and meet Aethelflaed the Puppet and learn about the Warrior Queen of the Mercians! (psst she's much better than her old dad who only went and burnt the cakes!) - ticketed event £9

And June isn't looking too shabby either - but more on that later!

Lyra the Lyre (by )

Lyra and the Lyre

Lyra the Lyre would by lying if she said she was Anglo-Saxon but she knows how she is different and is very similar - so she will do.

Basically she is 10 strings and modern built "Celtic" style and the Saxon era ones were 5-8 strings. However culturally the music and things would be close to the Danes/viking stuff were they range from 2 strings (or t least this is my understanding form all the readingI've been doing). The style of harp/lyre used is basically the same as that used in Israel and the Middle East - stretching way back in time. Anglo-Saxon harps are rare finds though and we are lucky to have found the fragments at Sutton Hoo. Gaps in our knowledge are filled in from other parts of Europe - ie places in and around Germany where the Angles and other associated tribes came from.

Finding myself falling down a lovely rabbit whole of music history - and finding myself trying to understand music theory when I can't read music!

So... pentatonic scales are kinds of an ancient thing hidden in British music especially the folk stuff - this is not the 8 note thingy we are taught at school and kind of explains why folk stuff from other places sounds so hauntingly familiar to me. I struggle a bit with the restrictions of conventional music that tries to tell me sounds I can hear don't exist or can't sound good. These I've found are called Demi-tones - but that is another tale and arches back to the end of the nineties and my choir master being awesome in explaining stuff and encouraging people to experiment with music.

Anyway obv. Lyra has the wrong number and type of strings and has a key for turning the pegs for tuning but she is still really really similar to the harps the anglo-saxons used.

I have a book on Lyre history, making and tuning coming - for now I just sort of tightened the strings until they sounded ok to me. At some point I will be making a Sutton Hoo replica but not before the summer festival for Queen Aethelflaed!

Here are some fun links!

Viking Guitar

Guide To Playing a Six String Lyre

This one is an absolutely beautiful blog on The Saxon Hearpe - here is the lady in a vid about it too 🙂

International Mens Day (by )

Alaric and sick kitten snuggles

It is International Mens Day today - this popped up in my memories on Facebook - Alaric curled up with kitten Lithium after her op. Alaric as he says is not shy about his emotions like most male people but he does still have extreme self reliance which causes him much misery and is part of the bundle that makes men more likely to commit suicide - my friends that have killed themselves to escape the dark places have so far all been men - here is the tribute song/poem that I made for them:

And also Al's write up of the miscarriage from the father point of view. Something which often gets over looked.

And guys - if you are in that dark place please please seek help - I know it's the hardest thing to do.

Spoogy Woogy Oooogy! (by )

Monday night I inflicted my childrens poetry on an audience in the Waterstones Cheltenham as part of the Villanelles series run by The Gloucester Poetry Society.

Sarah reading The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry at Waterstones Cheltenham

This beautiful photo of the reading was taken by Kurt Schroeder Photography which is a challenge as I can't really do flash photography and the light levels were poor!

The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry

The The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry has been getting out and about again - Last weekend saw me take the baby yeti (Alaric) to Cheltenham Library along with El Nosy Rat for the Fun Palaces Event.

Sarah Snell-Pym reading from The Little Book of Spoogy Poetry at Cheltenham Library

It's interesting to note that the outfit Alaric is wearing is the reason there is a poem with the line "One Daddy dressed as a Yeti" in it and now he puts the outfit on for the poetry readings! It was originally made for a Yeti Hunt when we first started up the Cranham Scouting sections 🙂

A Hiding Baby Yeti at the Cheltenham Library Fun Palace Event 2017

At the poetry readings he is a naughty baby yeti who is also very shy and has a habit of hiding until the children call him to come out! This time the baby yeti stole Jean's shoes! When I took him to the climbing wall he kept hanging upside down! That baby YETI!

El Nosy Rat entertaining small child at the Cheltenham Libraries Fun Palace 2017

El Nosy Rat also features in one of the poems which he is a bit disgruntled about as it feels it gives rats a bad name! He is a relatively new member of the performance team and is also known as Ratty The Plague Rat/Black Death Rat when he comes out on Cuddly Science outings 🙂

El Nosy Rat and Mummy Eating Cherry Pie Cloth Patch

He is a big hit with the kids and talks with a bit of an Eastend twang. In the photo above he his holding on of the lovely cloth patches of the Mummy Eating Cherry Pie (one of the poems and illustrations from the book). I had these made last year and they are in some of my surprise pouches! These were made by White Wizard Purple Elf who also made Jean's beautiful dark fairy hoody. Talking of surprise pouches I did kind of forget I they were also glitter bombs so covered the Children's Library in glitter 0.o

Halloween and Autumn Colouring In sheets by Sarah Snell-Pym

Last year I also spent ages tracing some of the pictures from the book so that I could turn them into black and white colouring sheets. The idea is that eventually all the illustrations will be up for free down load and maybe even as an actual colouring book. I tend to be a bit slow going with this as I do a little bit every September and October. But it did mean that this year I had lots of pictures ready for digital clean up and conversion to colouring in sheets 🙂

I am steadily popping them all on WigglyPets Press - including the older ones I made which have some colour traits like the pumpkin outlines being orange 🙂

There are still quiet a few to be traced and scanned still but that along with new audio files will have to await my new computer!

And talking of audio files don't forget you can listen to the poems on my bandcamp though it is still missing it's story and song to be a proper collection 🙂

Or you can watch a much younger Jeany reading the poems and a baby Mary trying to join in 🙂

I only have about 20 of my original print run left, after they have gone the book will be a more expensive print on demand thing on Amazon. And a second volume is also wending it's way to completion 🙂

But that will be a tale for another year!

But before I leave you I shall explain why it is the Spoogy book and not a Spooky book - when she was 4 yrs old Jean asked me if we could make a poetry book for halloween and so we did about topics she picked... that book was all hand drawn and written and did not contain all ten poems that later appeared in The Little Book it also got a cup of water knocked over on it shortly after it's creation as Jean has it in her tray table next to her bed - the tray table where she was allowed her night time water as if it was spilt it would all stay in the tray!

The 4 yr old Jean could not say Spooky - 4 yr old Jean said Spoogy and the book was for her, I've been asked to change it for "proper" publication but the poems are what they are - first and for most for my kids and the Spoogy bit is an essential part of that. If you are interested here is the blog post from when I made the book back in 2009.

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