Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Greetings Cards and Taking a Short Break

I spent a lot of time during my Poet Laureateship of the Forest Cafe Free Shop drawing dinosaurs for collages! I drew and cut out more dinosaurs than I needed for what I was making there so I brought them home and made some greetings cards

You can read about my time as Poet Laureate of the Free Shop here.

I'm now taking a blog and social media break for about two and a half weeks (this post on my Shapeshifting Green blog explains why) though my Etsy shops will remain open.

I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Brown Rabbit in the City by Natalie Russell



Brown Rabbit in the City

A copy of this book was sitting in the Forest Cafe Free Shop during the week while I was Poet Laureate there. I read this book a couple of times and it inspired me to write a story about rabbits exploring the free shop.

Brown Rabbit in the City is a beautifully illustrated book about a brown rabbit who goes to the city to see his friend Little Rabbit. Little Rabbit is very excited by the visit and rushes Brown Rabbit round her favourite cafes, museums, galleries and shops. Poor Brown Rabbit is overwhelmed and exhausted by all the rushing around, after all he's a country bunny and his only reason for visiting the city is to spend time with his friend! Will Little Rabbit ever slow down and spend time with him?

This is a lovely book about friendship and enjoying life at a slower pace.

Brown Rabbit in the City by Natalie Russell

Monday, 12 November 2018

Poet Laureateship at the Forest Cafe

So I've now come to the end of my time as poet laureate of the Forest Cafe Free Shop. Yesterday I held a creative writing workshop in the downstairs space of the cafe where 6 people joined me to write poetry and stories inspired by things in the free shop. There was a great variety of objects chosen to inspire a lovely selection of writings.

Today I wrote another story and then gave a presentation on my time as poet laureate and read out my stories and poetry and showed the collages I've made in my time in the cafe.

It's been a very enjoyable week, I've met some great people and spent lots of time writing, inspired by the amazing random things found in the free shop. I've written two poems about dinosaurs, made two dinosaur themed collages, written a story about a hat, a poem inspired by a photo album and a map, a poem about a broken doll and a story about two rabbits exploring the free shop. I've drunk lots of green tea, despite this cat's best attempts to try to get me to try other types of tea

I've also eaten naschos, falafel wraps and burritos, but the burritos are the best and even feature in one of my stories.

If you're in Edinburgh, you can always pop into the Forest to donate items to the free shop or to browse what's there already - they have a great selection of clothes, books, art materials, toys and raondom objects.

As for the poet laureateship, it will now be a quarterly position, held by a different poet every quarter and there will be an annual publication featuring everything produced by all the poet laureates. The publication will be available from the Forest Cafe.

You can read more about my time as poet laureate of the free shop here, here, here and here.

Friday, 9 November 2018

My Workspace in the Forest Cafe

I'm continuing to enjoy my week as Poet Laureate of the Forest Cafe Free Shop. Yesterday I spent some time in the cafe making a dinosaur themed collage to illustrate a poem and worked on a story about two rabbits who explore the free shop.

I had planned to read some poetry and a short story at the Open Mic last night and as the MC didn't turn up then I found myself taking on that role as well. We had some guitar music and singing from a guy called Ben and some beautiful haiku from Robert Alcock, who sells tiny pamphlets of his haiku but doesn't seem to have a web presence.

I was back in the cafe for a while today. I've managed to claim one of the tables nearest to the Free Shop as my own 

Today I spent more time on the rabbit story and also planned the creative writing workshop that will happen in the Cafe at 3pm on Sunday. I'm hoping people will come along and be inspired by items from the shop or by the shop itself. Anyone who attends the workshop will be invited to read (if they want!) at the poetry reading and presentation about the project in the cafe at 4pm on Monday.

You can read more about this project here, here and here.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Inspiration from the Forest Free Shop

I've got a very busy day today but did manage to spend some time in the Forest Cafe, where I am currently (for one week only) the 'Poet Laureate of the Free Shop'. You can read more about this project here and my blog post from my first day in post is here.

The free shop is full of weird and wonderful things. There are plenty of clothes, books and toys but also real oddities, it's a really inspiring place whether you're looking for a dress to borrow for a special occasion or materials for your next art project.

Here are some of the things from the shop that particularly inspire me

The book is a YA novel translated into Italian which looks like a relatively easy read! The jewellery is a broken necklace that I will make into something else and an odd earring that I will dismantle and use as a pendant. The dinosaurs I'm using as templates to make paper dinosaurs for collages and have inspired my first poem for the residency, which I will be reading at the end of project event at 4pm on Monday 12 November. I'm also running a writing workshop at 3pm on Sunday 11 November.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

First Day at the Forest

I had a great day today on the first day of my week as the Poet Laureate of the Forest Cafe Free Shop!

The Forest Cafe is an essential part of alternative Edinburgh and tends to be full of students and artists. It has a great menu, including brilliant vegan burritos and a wide range of teas

The free shop is an eclectic selection of clothing, music, films, books, toys, electric cables, art supplies and all kinds of things that you can browse and take away.

The cafe is decorated with art works including this lovely mobile

Over the next week I'll be spending a lot of time in the cafe, drinking tea (and eating burritos!), searching through the free shop for inspiration, chatting to other artists and writing poetry and making collages. I've also donated a couple of items to the Free Shop and managed to sneak some poetry into this one



The writing workshop will be at 3pm Sunday 11 November (the Facebook event is here) and the poetry reading will be at 4pm Monday 12 November (the Facebook event is here). Feel free to come along to either of those events if you can and if you're around Tollcross any time that week feel free to pop in and see if I'm around!



Monday, 5 November 2018

Watch out for Wildlife on Bonfire Night!

A big pile of logs, leaves and twigs is the base for a great bonfire, but it's  also a perfect hiding place for hedgehogs, toads, frogs and all sorts of other garden inhabitants who are looking for a cosy, frost free place to spend the winter.

Here are some ideas from the charity Frog Life to make help make your bonfire more wildlife-friendly:

  • Start by piling your bonfire materials in a separate place to where you’ll make the actual bonfire, and move them just before you light the fire. 
  • If you find any animals, move them carefully to a similar habitat in another part of the garden.
  • Just before lighting, have a final check through the bonfire with a torch and then light the fire from one side only so any living things left inside can find a way out and escape.
  • Try to burn only clean, untreated wood on your bonfire, with no nasty varnish, paint or plastics so you don’t release toxic chemicals in the smoke.
And here is advice from the Audobon Society about how to make your firework display more wildlife friendly: 

Choose noise-free ground fireworks. Loud explosions will frighten your pets and the local wildlife. 
Keep pets inside, even if you have noise free fireworks, someone else locally is sure to have bangers.
Check your surroundings before dark to make sure there are no birds' nests or other animal dwellings near your launch site.
Go to a public firework display rather than holding your own. The public disaplay is likely to be larger and have better safety controls. Also having fewer neighbourhood fireworks limits the potential wildlife damage.
Petition for the future. Ask your city or town to switch to eco-friendly fireworks products when they are available and/or more affordable. (There are such things as eco-friendly fireworks, but I can find little out about them other than what is on this page of the Audobon Society).


So, have fun this fireworks night but remember to look after your pets and local wildlife.