Today on Ujima: Feminism, Black Queerness & TV Careers

Today was my first day back at work that involved leaving home. I was back in the Ujima studios for another Women’s Outlook. It had been a bit of a challenge pulling this one together because no one was answering email before Monday, so I had two days. Nevertheless, we had some guests.

The first slot was empty so I played some music to talk about the unpleasant prospect of at least 5 years of the UK being ruled by Blue Meanies. I then played a few songs to send a message to a certain orange-faced person over in the USA.

My first guest was Carolyn from Bristol Women’s Voice. There was a time when people like me were distinctly unwelcome at that organisation, but I’m pleased to report that they have turned a corner and are happy to include all women again. Carolyn was particularly there to promote their Volunteer Network Event later this month, but we also discussed current campaigns, and of course the International Women’s Day event in March.

Next up was Helen from Royal West of England Academy. She was on the show to talk about the amazing Celebrating Black Queerness event coming up in February, and the associated Africa State of Mind exhibition. Celebrating Black Queerness is a joint event with Kiki, Bristol’s QTIPOC organisation, and will feature luminaries such as Lady Phyll and Travis Alabanza.

My final guest should have been Jo from Diverse Insights, but she suffered a transport malfunction on the way to the studio so I had to fill in for her as best I could. The event she was due to talk about is Screen Futures 2020, which is an amazing day of workshops for people interested in pursuing a career in television and radio.

You can listen to the show for the next few weeks via the Ujima Listen Again service.

Here’s the playlist:

  • Ike & Tina Turner – A Little Help from My Friends
  • Aretha Franklin – Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Angelique Kidjo – Once in a Lifetime
  • The Temptations – War
  • Culture Club – The War Song
  • Eddy Grant – War Party
  • Alicia Keys – Superwoman
  • Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman
  • Little Richard – Good Golly Miss Molly
  • Bessie Smith – A Good Man is Hard to Find
  • Bow Wow Wow – TV Savage
  • Andy Allo – If I was King
  • Janelle Monáe – We Were Rock ‘n’ Roll

Today on Ujima: The Deep, Interculture & Trans Women in Sport

That was my final Women’s Outlook show for 2019. This is what we talked about.

First up I re-ran my interview with Rivers Solomon from last year. We talked mainly about The Deep, and it is published in the UK tomrrow. I’m sure there are a lot of listeners who might buy it but who have forgotten about the interview by now. If anyone wants to see my review of the book, you can find it here.

My first studio guest was Lisa Whitehouse from Interculture. She’s currently crowdfunding for money to run three series of courses that are aimed at bringing various cultural groups in Bristol together so that they can get to understand each other better. Lisa and I spent quite a bit of time talking about whiteness and how we, as white people who work a lot with BME communities, can avoid making everything all about us.

Next in the studio was Sammy Walker, a young trans woman who has been a key part of this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign. She’s a very good soccer player, but is currently playing for Bristol Panthers, an inclusive LGBT team with mainly male players, because she doesn’t want to have to deal with all the politics around trans women in sport. The conversation expanded from football to trans women in sport in general.

I had a really bad coughing fit at the start of the interview with Sammy. I’ve just listed back to it and it isn’t too bad, but my apologies again to everyone for that, and thanks to Ben the engineer for his bottle of water.

The conversation with Sammy went on for about 45 minutes and I filled the rest of the time with a bit of Christmas music because it is that time of year. Here’s the full playlist:

  • The Deep – clipping
  • Americans – Janelle Monáe
  • Money – Jackie Shane
  • Unstoppable – Lianne la Havas
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • My Feet Keep Dancing – Chic
  • Run, Rudolph, Run – Chuck Berry
  • All I Want for Christmas is You – Maria Carey
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen & Sleigh Ride – The Ramsey Lewis Trio

You can listen to the whole show here.

Today on Ujima – Books, Theatre, Trans Pride & Tobias Buckell

My first guest on today’s radio show was Kate MacDonald of Handheld Press, a wonderful local publisher based in Bath. Kate will be familiar to people on the UK SF&F circuit as she was at FantasyCon and BristolCon. She doesn’t just publish SF&F, but when she does it is pretty spectacular. You will have heard me enthusing about her Vonda McIntyre reissue, and she has had great success with a Nicola Griffith book. On the show we talked about a book by Rose Maculey which inspired Brave New World. John Clute gets a starring role in the story of how Kate got to publish that one. And if we’d had more time we’d have talked about the new Sylvia Townsend Warner book, Of Cats and Elfins, which has a Greer Gilman introduction and a Neil Gaiman front cover blurb.

That was hard to top, but for the second section of the show I welcomed Nick Young from Creative Youth Network and two wonderful young actors who will be performing in The Edge, a play about the dangers of reality TV. The play is written by my friend Edson Burton, and will be staged at Colston Hall later this month. As the advertising says, it will be an immersive live performance. You’ll have to listen to the interview to find out just how clever they have been.

In part three I welcome Lowie Trevena, the new LGBT+ Affairs correspondent of Bristol 24/7 to talk about the upcoming Trans Pride South West. Lowie did a preview of the event for the paper yesterday, and we went a lot more into detail on that. We also talked about what it means to be a non-binary person, and how non-binary does not mean androgynous.

Finally I re-ran parts of my 2014 interview with Tobias Buckell to celebrate his win (along with Paulo Bacigalupi) in the World Fantasy Awards last weekend. Their book, The Tangled Lands, won the Best Collection catageory. In the 2014 piece Tobias and I talk about hurricanes in the Caribbean, climate change, and some interesting regional politics that allowed Tobias to create a unified Caribbean state for some of his work.

You can listen to the show here.

The playlist is as follows:

  • Pipe – Christina Aguilera & Lewis Hamilton
  • World in Union – Ladysmith Black Mambazo (feat. PJ Powers)
  • Screen Kiss – Thomas Dolby
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott Heron
  • History – Shea Freedom
  • Sticks and Stones – Jackie Shane
  • Hurricane Season – Trombone Shorty
  • 007 – A Fantasy Bond Theme – Barry Adamson

Happy Samhain

The holiday that we call Hallowe’en is something of a mash-up between the Celtic Samhain, the Catholic All Souls Eve, and the Aztec festival in honour of their goddess of death, Mictēcacihuātl. Being a Celt (whatever that means), I tend to stick to our version of things, and therefore it is my duty to warn you that tonight the walls between the world of mortals and the world of the sídhe are thinner than at any time of the year. If you wish to avoid being abducted, you should take care not to accept any mysterious invitations.

Here’s a little music to help you out. First up, Steeleye Span with “Thomas the Rhymer” (and I’m pleased to see that whoever put this on YouTube used the original Thomas Canty cover art from Ellen Kushner’s brilliant novel).

And secondly, here’s Horslips from The Book of Invasions with something a little more scary, “Ride to Hell”.

Stay safe, people.

An Ideal Prince

Charlotte Bond, who is part of the fabulous team that does the Breaking the Glass Slipper podcast, and also the fearless copyeditor for Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion II, has been doing a series of blog posts about princes. What do people want in a fairytale prince these days? Several people have offered their opinions. Here, for example, is Anna Smith Spark, whom I’m pleased to see has something sharp and deadly in her photo. And here is David Tallerman whose favourite prince is Utena Tenjou. I mean, who can argue with that?

Well, I can, obviously. As far as I am concerned there is only one prince in it. I think you can probably guess who it is.

Today on Ujima – PapayaFest, Discrimination at Work, Fungi & Ellen Datlow

I did a radio show today. Here’s what went down.

I started out with a visit from my good friend Tamsin Clarke. We kept our clothes on this time. As you may recall, Tamsin is from Venezuela. She has been putting together a festival of Latinx culture called PapayaFest. It will feature Tamsin’s theatre productions and a great line-up of bands and DJs. Because Tamsin has such great topics for her plays we ended up talking about Simón Bolívar, matriarchal families and the current state of feminism in Latin America.

Next up I was joined by Karen and Erin from Bristol Law Centre. They have come up with an interesting new way of funding employment discrimination cases and they wanted to get the word out there. I was pleased to be able to point out what good work they do, and how necessary they have become because of the current government’s actions designed to make recourse to the law something that is only available to the very rich.

Guest three was my friend Esme who has got involved with mushrooms. They really are fascinating life forms, and most people have no idea how many types of fungi there are, or how crucial they are both to the ecosystem and to many modern industries. There will be a Fungus Day at Arnos Vale Cemetery on Saturday, which I’d be very tempeted to go along to if I wasn’t booked elsewhere.

And finally I ran part of the interview I did with Ellen Datlow at TitanCon. This extract includes how she got her job at Omni, what “best of the year” means, who is the only writer ever to have scared her, and why she once turned down a story by Margaret Atwood. The full interview will run in Salon Futura at the end of the month.

You can hear the whole show via Ujima’s Listen Again service here.

The playlist for this month’s show is as follows:

  • Simón Díaz – Caballo Viejo
  • WARA – Leave to Remain
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela – Hanuman
  • Elsa J – 9 to 5
  • Carlos Santana – Flor d’Luna
  • Janelle Monáe – Mushrooms & Roses
  • Sade – Nothing can come between us
  • Michael Jackson – Thriller

Tourism in Dublin

Some of you are in Ireland already, and many more are on the way. Obviously there is Worldcon to look forward to, and a fair amount of Irish history (particularly if you count yourself as part of the diaspora), but many of you will be interested in that thing that Ireland is justifiably famous for: alcohol.

I don’t know what the convention centre bars are like, but if they are rubbish I suspect that a lot of us will end up in the Porterhouse on Temple Bar. It happens to be just a short walk from my apartment, and as I recall it is the traditional Dead Dog location for Octocon. Anyway, they will have a good selection of microbrews.

Then there is the matter of whiskey. Are there distilleries? Yes, there are. Can you visit them? Of course. Here’s a quick guide.

First up, don’t bother with Jamesons. I understand that they don’t actualy make whiskey in Dublin any more, and in any case what’s the point in looking for whiskey that you can buy at home. Also Bushmills is in Ulster. Wait until you get to Belfast before asking for that. Thankfully Dublin has seen an explosion of craft distilleries in recent years.

The Tourist Information lady I talked to in Dublin back in February recommended Pearse Lyons and Teeling. My local whiskey shop in Bath added Liberties and Dingle. And there’s also Roe & Co, which I know nothing about. All of these places are right in the centre of Dublin in and around the Liberties district, so south of the river and west of the castle.

If visiting all of those places seems like a bit much, you should be able to get an overview of the field at the Irish Whiskey Museum. You can sample what’s available at the Dingle Whiskey Bar (at least I hope you can, they do have a connection to the Dingle distillery so they may be a teeny bit biased). And you can buy bottles to take home from the Celtic Whiskey Shop.

Most of these distilleries are quite young. I think they all have product available now, but it won’t have had much ageing.

That should keep you all busy during your trip. However, there’s one more place that I’d like to visit if I have the time. That is the Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum. I don’t suppose it is entirely devoted to Horslips, and Thin Lizzy do deserve a place. I gather that there’s another Irish rock band that is quite famous too. Anyway, it seems like fun.

Today on Ujima – Mexican Food, Poetry, Fiction & Renewables

Today I was in the studio at Ujima with lots of studio guests.

First up I welcomed Graham from My Burrito, a fabulous Mexican eatery in Bristol. We had a great chat about the glories of Mexican food. I was hungry by the end of it, as were Ben, my engineer, and Keziah, the studio manager. You probably will be too.

Next in the hot seat was Tom Denbigh, Bristol’s first LGBT+ Poet Laureate. I met Tom at an event that was part of Bristol Pride and loved the poem he read so I knew I had to get him on the radio. Sadly Ofcom rules about swearing on air rather limited what he could read. It’s about time the regulations caught up with everyday speech.

Guest three was Heather Child, who was no problem to interview as I had already done it last week at her book launch. We talked again about The Undoing of Arlo Knott and the various places where you can find out more about the book.

Finally I was joined by Jon Turney from Zero West to talk about local renewable energy projects.

Much of the music I played was inspired by my time doing the live coverage of Bristol Pride. The full playlist was:

  • Boney M – By the Rivers of Babylon
  • Pointer Sisters – Fire
  • Shea Freedom – Woman’s World
  • Nina – Calm Before the Storm
  • Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
  • Eddy Grant – Baby Come Back
  • Chi-Lites – Give More Power to the People
  • Boney M – Brown Girl in the Ring

You can listen to the whole show for the next few weeks via the Ujima Listen Again service.

Today on Ujima – HIV, Time Wars & Art

Today’s Women’s Outlook show was one of those where it seemed mostly calm on the surface, but it was all frantic paddling underneath. Yesterday I had one of my guests drop out, so I had a half hour to fill. Thankfully the pre-recorded interview I had would stretch to three segments, and I had enough to talk about to fill the final one I needed. Also Ben, my usual engineer, was unavailable, and the replacement we had arranged was unable to come in, so I ended up with an emergency holographic engineer. Huge thanks to Mikey who did a great job for me.

We began the show with Aled and Acomo from Brigstowe, a local charity that specialises in HIV/AIDS issues. They are one of two charities in England who are running pilots with PrEP, the drug which can protect you from HIV if you take it before having sex. PrEP is already widely available in Scotland and Wales, but as Aled explains the English authorities have fought tooth and nail to prevent it being made available. Now that the courts have forced the NHS to do some trials, Brigstowe needs help getting them done.

They are looking in particular for women from marginalized communities who are willing to get trained on the use of PrEP and can then go out into their communities to srpread the word. They’ll be working closely with my pals at One25 to make sure the drug gets to sex workers, who are some of the people who need it most. They are also very interested in recruiting trans women.

The pre-recorded interview with was Amal El-Mohtar and was made while we were at Åcon. We talked about a range of issues, but obviously there was particular focus on the forthcoming book, This is How You Lose the Time War. I loved this book. There will be a review coming soon.

As I had a bit of time to fill I played a couple of songs with Nordic connections. I have probably enthused about the Swedish electrojazz duo, Koop, before, but I should mention that the particular song I played had guest vocals from Ane Brun who is Norwegian and Sami. She has also worked with Peter Gabriel, taking Kate Bush’s part on “Don’t Give Up” when he was touring.

I also played the Miike Snow song that Amal mentions during the interview. The core of that band is Swedish too. If you are intersted in the very gay video for the song, you can find it here.

Finally on the show I was joined by Cai and Amie from Paper Arts who are a wonderful organisation that helps young people start a career in the arts.

You can listen to today’s show via the Listen Again function on the Ujima website.

The playlist for today’s show is:

  • Salt ‘n’ Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex
  • Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing
  • The Human League – The Lebanon
  • Fairuz – Li Beirut
  • Afro-Celt Sound System – Further In Time
  • Koop – Koop Islands
  • Miike Snow – Genghis Khan
  • Janelle Monáe – Crazy, Classic Life
  • Prince – Purple Rain

Today on Ujima – Cervical Screening, Interculture, Mental Health Awareness & San Francisco

It was a busy show on Women’s Outlook today, and I didn’t cope as well as I might have done. Apologies again to Ben the Engineer for the various screw-ups which, hopefully, we managed to cover up during the show.

Anyway, we had guests, starting with Lynne from the NHS talking about their ongoing cervical screening campaign. As she explained, testing is very effective and the majority of cervical cancer cases can be cured before they get serious. Screening can help with other issues too. Of course there are all sorts of reasons why people might be nervous about the screening, but hopefully Lynne will have set people’s minds at rest, including those of trans guys. If you still have concerns or questions, Jo’s Trust are the people to talk to.

Next up we had Lisa Whtehouse from Interculture along with a lovely lady from the Ivory Coast whose name I think is Anamita, but I’ve not seen it written down (Lisa, please correct me if I’m wrong). Interculture is doing great work bringing cultures together. They are helping an empowering immigrant women, and I’m delighted that they want to do an event in Pride Week.

My third guest was Amran from CASS, a local mental health charity. She wanted to promote their campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week. The My Body Can campaign encourages people to think of positive things that your body can do, even if it is ony giving your friends a hug. The idea is to get people thinking positively about themselves, and to share that positivity on social media.

Thinking of which, my body can grow breasts naturally, given sufficient estrogen. I’m amazed at the number of people who think that trans women all have breast implants.

And finally, I ran an an interview with the fabulous Ardel Haefele-Thomas from San Francisco who is the editor of Introduction to Trandgender Studies, in which I have an essay. We talked about Ardel’s work as a lecturer at a community college, about the gentrification of San Francisco, and about the Orange Monster.

During the show I also did some plugs for events:

The latter includes Gareth L Powell and Virginia Bergin as well as myself; and Dr Sam Rogers from UWE who is a lecturer in English – my how the world has changed.

I also talked about a fundraising campaign I am doing for the lovely people at One25. I’ll be writing separately that very shortly. And I had a bit of a rant about the nonsense meted out to poor Caster Semenya today.

You can listen to the show via the Listen Again system here.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Pynk – Janelle Monáe
  • Sugar Walls – Sheena Easton
  • Lei Lei – Maryam Mursal
  • No Borders – Jama
  • Body & Soul – Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett
  • Everybody Dance – Chic
  • I Left My Heart in San Francisco – Julie London
  • Dance With Me – Destiny’s Child

Today on Ujima: Section 28, Masculinity, Hugos & Silence

It was a radio day for me today. I barely got the show together in time having been away over the weekend and had much of yesterday hijacked by the Hugos, but I got there in the end.

In the first half hour I played an interview I did over the weekend with Sue Sanders, the founder of Schools Out and LGBT History Month. There has been a lot of talk here in the media about the need for a return to something called Section 28, which attempted to ban the mention of anything to do with LGBT people in schools. Thankfully Parliament has refused to turn the clock back, but lots of the people I get in training courses have never heard of Section 28 so I figured that having Sue, who was in the forefront of the fight against it, explain what went down, would be useful.

Next up I had a studio guest, Elias Williams of ManDem, an arts organisation for young black men. Last week I had been on a panel on the future of feminism at UWE (along with the brilliant Finn McKay). Elias had been on it too, and having heard him speak I knew I wanted him on the radio. Young black men are routinely demonised in the media, and it is wonderful to have someone so articulate and sensible standing up for them.

In the third slot I rambled about the Hugos. There are loads of black writers on the ballot this year, and people of colour in general. In particular 3 of the 6 Lodestar finalists are written by black women, and the Campbell finalists are mostly women of color, and one non-binary person of color. This is very promising for the future.

And finally I played part of my interview with Rachel Rose Reid from the LGBT History Month event in Bristol. This was about the Arthuian legend, Le Roman de Silence, which is basically 13th Century French feminist fantasy. It really is remarkable how modern the themes of that book are. I note that Rachel will be in Bristol again with the show on April 28th. Sadly I’m teaching one of Cat Rambo’s writing courses that evening. She’s also in Frome on the 12th, but that’s sold out. Phooey.

You can listen to the whole show via the Ujima Listen Again service here.

The playlist for the show is as follows:

  • School Day – Chuck Berry
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • It’s a Man’s World – James Brown
  • Word Up – Cameo
  • Pynk – Janelle Monáe
  • Crazy, Classic Life – Janelle Monáe
  • Mirror in the Bathroom – The Beat
  • Ali Baba – Dreadzone

My thanks as always to Ben, my engineer, and to all of my guests.

Introducing Modern Fairies

Many of my academic friends will know about this project already, but the rest of you will want to catch up too.

Modern Fairies is a collaboration between artists and academics to bring fairy tales into the 21st Century. That’s not re-writing and updating as you might get in a novel, but rather bringing back the stories and performances. The academics are providing the tales, and where necessary the translations from Old English and context. The artists are looking at narrating and performing these stories for a modern audience.

Phase 1 of the project has been a series of podcasts that introduce us to the major themes and stories. It addresses tales of people being kidnapped by amorous fairies, and fairies being kidnapped by humans; of changelings; of helpful fairies who assist the poor; and of loathly ladies who torment handsome knights. One of the presenters is Professor Carolyne Larrington who, in addition to being an expert on mediaeval literature, also wrote this fine book on the myth and history behind A Song of Ice & Fire.

Phase 2 is over to the artists, who will be putting on Fairy Gatherings around the country throughout the summer. There will be music and performance. One of the writers involved is Terri Windling.

And finally it will be back to the academics at the end of the year for a second series of podcasts looking back on what was done, and how it was received.

Look out, Britain. Fairies are coming to a town near you. And, dear Goddess, we could surely do with some right now.

Today on Ujima – Marlon, Periods, Queer Film & IWD

I began today’s show with some extracts from Marlon James’ Tolkien Lecture. You can listen to the whole thing here.

The second segment was an interview with Chloe Tingle of No More Taboo, the period poverty charity. We talked about how Bristol is leading the way in tackling period poverty, about a course that Chloe will be running in Bristol next week, and about how a film about periods won an Oscar. If you want to go on the course, booking details are here.

In segment 3 I was joined in the studio by Harry Silverlock of the Palace International Film Festival, queer film festival which originated in Poland (in an actual mediaeval palace) and is coming to Bristol next week. It sounds like a really great event. I’m particuarly pleased with how diverse the selection of films is.

Finally I was joined by Lisa Whitehouse who has an International Women’s Day event on Saturday to promote. It is going to be at Hannah Moore Infants School on Saturday but there’s an issue with the Facebook presence right now so I can’t link to it. The most important think is that Lisa assures me it is trans-inclusive, unlike certain other IWD events I could mention.

You can listen to the whole show here.

The music today was largely devoted to remembering the great Jackie Shane who died peacefully in her sleep last month aged 78. It is good to know that some trans women of color can live long lives. Here’s the full playlist:

  • Jackie Shane – You Are My Sunshine
  • Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower
  • Liane la Havas – Midnight
  • Santana – Flor D’Luna
  • Andy Allo – Angels Make Love
  • Jackie Shane – Money
  • Jackie Shane – I’ve Really Got the Blues
  • Jackie Shane – Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
  • Jackie Shane – Any Other Way

Today on Ujima – #LGBTHM Special

The whole of today’s show on Ujima was devoted to LGBT History Month.

I began with some interviews I made at the event in Taunton on Saturday. These were with Steven from the Taunton Gay Group Alex from Somerset Libraries, who organised the event; and finally with Caroline Paige, an absolutely amazing lady who transitioned while serving as a pilot in the RAF and continued on active service after her transition. Anyone who flies helicopters in a war zone has my utmost admiration.

For the second half of the show I was joined in the studio by two guests. Firstly there was former Bristol MP, Stephen Williams. We talked about his time as one of the few openly gay MPs, and also about our shared love of LGBT History. The blog post on LGBT+ heritage sites that he talked about is here.

Stephen will be the headline guest at our LGBT History Month Event at M Shed on Saturday Feb. 16th. The full line-up of speakers is available here.

My second guest was author Alan Robert Clark who has written a novel about Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Eddy, who was involved in a gay sex scandal. There’s a bit more about the book, Prince of Mirrors, on the OutStories Bristol website.

You can listen to the show for the next month via the Ujima Listen Again service here.

All of the music for the show was by black LGBT artists, except for the new Saara Aalto single which I played because it is a charity fundraiser for Mermaids. Here’s the playlist:

  • Titica – Ablua
  • Andy Allo – If I Was King
  • Prince – I Would Die 4 U
  • Jackie Shane – Walking the Dog
  • Tracy Chapman – Baby Can I Hold You?
  • Saara Aalto – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
  • Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel
  • Labi Siffre – Sparrow in the Storm

Dirty Computer & The Hugos

Yes, it is that time of year again: Hugo neepery time. Over the past few days I have seen several people talking about nominating Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer. There has been much confusion over categories, so I’m here to explain.

As with the clipping material that was on the final ballot for the past two years, Monáe’s music belongs in the Dramatic Presentation categories.

The dividing line between Long Form and Short Form in these categories is 90 minutes (as stated here). So Dirty Computer is definitely Short Form, no matter which version you nominate.

Which version? Ah yes, here is the difficulty. “Dirty Computer” is the title of two different things. There is Dirty Computer the album, which is composed entirely of music, and there is Dirty Computer the Emotion Picture, which is a short film about an android called Jane 57821, and which features most of the songs from the album.

One of the things about the Hugos is that Hugo Administrators very rarely make public pronouncements about eligibility. That means we have to second guess them. I’m not privy to the inside of Nicholas Whyte’s brain, but I am fairly sure that he will view these two versions as separate works. One is solely a piece of music, the other is a film with a script and actors. They are both eligible in the same category.

Now of course you could always nominate both of them. You have six slots, after all. But if you are also filling your ballot up with episodes of Supergirl and a whole lot of lesser TV series (me, biased, surely not?) then you might not have space for both.

I’m going to ask you, if you only have space for one, to nominate Dirty Computer the Emotion Picture. Why? Because I think it has wider appeal than just the album. Fans of the music will love it regardless, and those who want something more substantial than a concept album will have the movie (starring Monáe and Tessa Thompson) to consider as well.

Your ballot entry should therefore be for: Dirty Computer the Emotion Picture; Janelle Monáe, Andrew Donoho & Chuck Lightning; Wondaland.

Donoho and Lightning are the directors, Monáe wrote all of the music and, as far as I know, the script as well.

On, and if you want to watch the film before making up your mind, you can find it on YouTube. It isn’t embeddable so you’ll need to click through. And you’ll need to log in to see it because it contains naughty words and sexy stuff.

This Week on Ujima – It’s All Books

It is ridiculously hard to get people into the studio in the first week of January, because most of them won’t even look at their email until that Monday. So I was happy to have a bunch of interviews pre-recorded that I could run for this week’s radio show. It was good for Ben too because we have moved studios. While the new desk has all of the same controls, they are in different places, and that takes a bit of getting used to. It is like switching from a left-hand-drive to a right-hand-drive car.

The first hour of the show had an interview with Tade Thompson that I recorded at FantasyCon, and one with Joy Francis from an organisation called Words of Colour, which was recorded when she was in Bristol to give a talk in December.

In the second hour I have the interview I did with Maria Dahvana Headley when she was in Oxford. This is pretty much solid feminist ranting from both of us. And finally there is an interview with Joanne Harris that I recorded at FantasyCon.

The show is available through the Ujima Listen Again service here. The raw interviews were all longer than I had time for in the show, particularly the one with Maria. I’m planning to post longer versions on Salon Futura once the Listen Again links have expired.

The play list for this week’s show was:

  • Janelle Monáe – I’m Afraid
  • Angélique Kidjo – Once in a Lifetime
  • Des’ree – You gotta be
  • The O Jays – Love Train
  • Janelle Monáe – Heroes
  • Bruce Springsteen – Badlands
  • Bat for Lashes – Seal Jubilee
  • Camel – La Princess Perdue

The February show will, of course, be an LGBT History Month special.

Up on the Aqueduct

More of the “that time of year” thing. This time it is the review of the year posts on the Aqueduct Press blog. The lovely folks at Aqueduct keep asking me to write these things, so I keep doing them. This year I was a bit late due to the Austria trip, but my contribution is up at last. You can find it here.

Yesterday on Ujima – Maternity, Careers and Mental Health

Yesterday’s show was supposed to start with my interviewing fellow Ujima presenter, Sandra Gordon, about a maternity rights event taking place in Bristol soon. Unfortunately circumstances intervened and I had to spend half an hour talking about maternity all by myself. It isn’t a subject I know a huge amount about, having never been pregnant myself. Fortunately I was saved by my friend Laura Wood because I could talk about her amazing book on the mental health issues that can arise from childbirth.

Sandra did arrive in time to get on the show briefly, but I had to hurry her up as it was time to talk to Ben Shorrock of TechSpark who is trying to get a grant to help diversify the tech start-ups being created in Bristol. The article we discussed can be found here, and if you want to vote for Ben’s project you can do so here (but you only have until Noon tomorrow, UK time). Inevitably Ben and I ended up talking about women in tech, and why women make better programmers than men.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Next up I welcomed Jenny Stringer, a local journalist who has been doing a project to highlight opportunities for women in the construction trade. That doesn’t just men being a brickie. Women can also be electricians, or plumbers (like mine, hi Penney!). Anything men can do, women can do too. And more importantly you can earn twice as much as an electrician than as a beautician. Get to it, girls!

Finally I ran a pre-recorded interview with La JohnJoseph who was coming to Bristol to run a workshop on queer mental health. I went along to the event in the evening and it was a lot of fun. Huge thanks to JJ for doing this, and to the Wellcome Foundation for funding the project.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The playlist for the show was as follows:

  • The Intruders – I’ll Always Love My Mama
  • The Supremes – Baby Love
  • Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
  • Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Starting Something
  • The Housemartins – Build
  • Angelique Kidjo – Houses in Motion
  • Patti Labelle – Messin’ with my Mind
  • Jamiroquai – Music of the Mind

Ujima Black History Month Special


I was in the studio today for a very special edition of Women’s Outlook. The entire show was co-presented by, and produced by, my good friend Olivette Otele.

If you have been following my tweetage you will know that Olivette has recently been appointed Professor of History at Bath Spa University. For non-UK readers, that’s a big deal, because here only the most senior academics can call themselves Professor. Olivette is the first black woman to become a professor of history in the UK.

Most of her work to date has centered on colonialism and slavery, but for today we chose to look further back in time to showcase some of the people of colour from Africa who interacted with Europe in the past.

The chap in the picture at the top is Joseph Boulogne, the Chevalier Saint Georges. He was a military man, an accomplished fencer, and also a brilliant musician. He was so good at music that he became Marie Antoinette’s music teacher, and we played one of his compositions during the show. I was delighted to discover that he once fought an exhibition duel in London against the famous French trans woman, the Chevalier d’Eon. Olivette also informed me that during the French Revolution he fought alongside the father of Alexander Dumas (hands up everyone who didn’t know that the creator of the Three Musketeers was black).

Also featured on the show were Saint Maurice, Jacobus Capitein, and my personal favourite, Queen Amanirenas, the one-eyed warrior who gave Augustus a bloody nose. Plus a whole lot more interesting people.

The Listen Again feature appears to be working OK again at the moment. You can listen to the first hour here, and the second hour here.

Olivette also selected all of the music for the show. I have to say that she has great taste. Here is the playlist:

  • Steel Pulse – Shining
  • Bob Marley – Get Up, Stand Up
  • Chevalier St. Georges – Overture to L’Amant Anonyme
  • Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches
  • Lady Nade – Waiting for You
  • Sade – Soldier of Love
  • Hamilton Cast – Immigrants
  • Eddy Grant – African Kings

I hope you enjoy the show. I’ll be back with a more regular slot on November 7th.