Monday, 13 February 2017


A note from Joelle... 
  1. directed or moving backwards.
I can't wait for summer, but don't get it twisted - I'll still be wearing black.
Black on black on black on black.
I feel like I'm moving backwards into how I used to be - just wearing dark clothes, but is that actually such a bad thing?
Black goes with everything and it suits everyone. It's formal, it's casual and it never fades.
This winter, I've found mixing dark, casual dresses with dark shoes with a bit of detail makes the entire outfit a bit more special, without the cliche "pop of colour".
Check out my new lace-up midi heels (and ignore my ashy ankles)!
The dress is thin and slinky and the shoes are comfy - that's all I need in this weird weather.
Lace-up heels - ASOS

Make sure to check out for a great variety of clothes - especially the dresses! It's one of very few places that offer formal and casual clothes that are not only fashionable buy actually affordable.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

That's What She Said x For Book's Sake Open Mic Reading

A note from Joelle... 
♫♪'Carry On' - fun ♫♪
What happened to me?
If you had asked me a year ago to stand alone on stage and read out my most personal thoughts to a group of strangers, I would have politely declined and then sprinted away from you before you had a chance to convince me to try it.
It's not that I get really nervous (I mean I do about 5 minutes before I get on stage) about reading my deepest, darkest thoughts, it's more about stumbling over my own tongue and humiliating myself by stammering, squinting and hating the sound of my own voice.
But I did it anyway because I had a story to tell.
I was invited to read at a women's open mic event at The Book Club, hosted by For Book's Sake.
I had planned to read poems and mini-essays from my book 'Otherness', but at the last minute, I whipped out my Nasty Women essay that I'd printed out at work and read that instead.
I hadn't rehearsed it, forgot my glasses and I had also made the mistake of printing it out in size 9 font. Not forgetting to mention that the shadow of my microphone darkened the pages (yah, yah excuses...), so I basically had to improvise!

All these things did happen on the day, but I've learnt to carry on and laugh it off! The audience was with me even though I ended up speaking for almost half an hour (was meant to be 15 minutes, lololol).
My best mate was there cheering me on like the start that she is and it was honestly the best feeling. 
What's so lovely about these events are the other readers, some veterans and some total novices like myself all cheered each other on and I loved all their pieces. We had ghost stories, slam poetry and hilarious anecdotes and brave tales about sexual assault survival. 
I am in awe of all the other women who performed.

 - - -
If you haven't heard of the Nasty Women book by now, WHERE THE F**K HAVE YOU BEEN? It's a collection of essays written by women about what it's like to be a woman in the 21st Century. 
Our funding period ran from 1st January to the 30th January, and we managed to hit our goal in just 2 DAYS! - £6000. At the end of the month, our total was just over £22000 with 1336 supporters and none of us could quite believe it.
Laura and Heather, the founders of 404ink have done an incredible job with this project and I still can't believe I'm a part of it.

Our book has been backed by the likes of Marget Atwood (omg!!), Nikesh Shukla (The Good Immigrant) and Louise O'Neill. 

I had a story to tell.
I wrote it. I read it.
And now you can read it in Nasty Women at the beginning of March, just in time for International Women's Day.
In my chapter, I take you through the timeline of my life - from experiencing upfront racism for the first time, aged 7, to present day white feminism, which denies me (and women who look like me) a voice in the movement.

WARNING: It's not an easy read, with sunshine and rainbows - my life isn't like that and I don't think anyone's is. It's painfully honest from the start and since I published my diary, I have little fear because you never know who you might help with your words.

What's my next mission? I hear you ask...
Well, I'll be giving a solo lecture/Q&A at the Scottish Young Publisher's Conference in Edinburgh on the 3rd March. Come see me discuss 'The Good Immigrant' and Unbound's unique publishing model that got it into our hands.

Would you ever give a reading at an open mic? What would you read?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Convert, The Gate Theatre

A note from Joelle... 
The greatest love story of all time is between the theatre and I. My heart breaks, then mends and then soars. Every. Damn. time and I cannot get enough of that feeling from watching stories on stage.
 (© Iona Firouzabadi)
Apart from food, theatre tickets are the next biggest absorber of my money and I don’t really mind because I’m paying to feed my brain.
However, after I saw Scary Shit at The Pleasance on my birthday last year, I made a decision to break out of mainstream jazzhands-esque musicals and tap into experimental/smaller/powerful theatre this year.
My friend F sent me over a link to the show, The Convert at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill and I immediately asked her to book tickets for us to attend the Young Person’s Night (tickets were a steal at just £7.50). I’m glad we did it quickly because tickets for every single night sold out within a few days.
 (© Iona Firouzabadi)
After work (and a few glasses of prosecco), we headed to The Gate Theatre next door to the pub we were in. It’s quite easy to miss it, so I’m glad F knew where we were meant to go. Like the Pleasance, it’s super cosy with unallocated seats. This meant that we had the freedom to move around and find the perfect view of the stage. Speedy audience members who got into the theatre first were seated around the stage, allowing them to feel the stage lights and be as close to the seven actors as possible.
The staging of the play was rather simple in my view (F works in Theatre so she will know more about this than I ever will) and consisted of a cracked concrete floor and an old-fashioned sitting room. It was safe to say that I didn’t have a clue where the play was set or time period.

It’s a weird tradition of mine to book tickets to shows without reading a synopsis, reading reviews or even watching a trailer – I like new shows to be completely fresh in my eyes.
 (© Iona Firouzabadi)
The Convert is set in 1895 Rhodesia in the living room of Chilford (play brilliantly by Stefan Adebola) an African wannabe Catholic priest who has rejected his native, African upbringing full of pagan worship. He has changed his name, accent, religion and clothes in order to fit in with the more ‘civilised’ white settlers.
His house servant Mai Tamba is an unapologetically traditional woman who refuses to give up her spiritual beliefs in favour of Catholicism. Despite Chilford’s efforts to convert her, he turns his efforts to her niece (and his new servant girl), Jekesai.
Jekasai arrives with bare breasts and no understanding of the English language, which Chilford is quick to correct. By the next few scenes, Jekasai has changed her name to Ester, now wears dresses and speaks fluent English.
Ester finds herself in a tug-of-war between her new life as a promising missionary and her old life with her family.
The white characters in the play are not physically present in the play because the play isn't about them - more about how they have left an impression on the 'savage' natives and the 'civilised' Africans who follow their Western lifestyle. I found this really cleverly written by Gurira.

I could not stop thinking about the show for days afterwards and what surprised me the most was the playwright. It's extremely tense but broken up with pockets of hilarious dialogue and gestures.
The acting was sublime - honestly stunning. It has been a while since I've seen a show where I can't fault a single thing about it. It was an honour to be in the presence of those seven actors - they blew my mind!
Although it was the Young Person's Night, the audience was a melting pot of all races, genders and ages - I love when theatre brings us all together like this.
All this time, I just automatically assumed that the person who wrote The Convert was a middle-aged East African man – I was wrong.
It was written by American actress, Danai Gurira (Michonne on The Walking Dead), who also penned the award-winning Broadway play, Eclipsed, starring Lupita Nyong’o. 

View the trailer below:

The sold-out show ends today (weeps), but I recommend buying and reading the play - it's genius.
Oh and by the way… I GOT HAMILTON TICKETS… for summer 2018, when I’m back to all the happy-clappy musicals. I just couldn’t help myself.


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