Tag Archives: mab jones

Poor Queen by Mab Jones

Writer Mab Jones stops by to tell us about her new book, Poor Queen! Mab will be launching Poor Queen at Waterloo Tea Rooms in Roath, Cardiff on 21 October 2014, from 6-7.30pm. Why not go along and support her! More information about Mab’s Book Tour here

Poor Queen cover FINAL

Poor Queen is my first collection, an accumulation of satirical, scurrilous, and sometimes even scatological verse, mostly written in the first few years after I began writing poetry, from 2007-2010.

Really, this is a book that should have been published back then, but the right publisher for it simply did not exist. Now, they do: they are called Burning Eye Books, they are based in Bristol, and they are run by a guy called Clive Birnie who loves performance poetry, is a fine poet himself, and is now the publisher of many well-known modern perf poets such as Salena Godden, Rob Auton, Monkey Poet, Anna Freeman, Lucy Lepchani – and myself.

It’s great to be amongst such luminaries of the spoken word scene, and we all owe a lot to Clive’s passion, hard work, and vision. I’m also indebted to ‘outsider artist’ Norris Nuvo who designed the amazing cover image – a punk-ish meld of me and the queen set as a sort of postage stamp. I think Norris is a true talent and some limited edition postcards, prints and poems are also available and will be up for sale soon on my website.

The poems in this are similarly punk in style… Mostly rhyming, funny, political, angry, raw, and rude. There are lots of pieces about love going wrong, about need and greed, about social injustice. It is very un-PC. My style is a lot different now – especially since becoming Resident Poet in the National Botanic Garden of Wales in 2012 – but these are the poems which ‘made my name’, as it were, and it’s great to have them all collected together in one place.

They are, indeed, “witty verse telling of lively working-class scenarios”, and they are a fun, rollicking read (even if I do say so myself!). You can buy the book signed, from me, with a limited edition postcard, for £10; or from Burning Eye Books for £8.99.

As far as Cardiff goes, I am of course an Ely girl, and the humour is very definitely of our city. Some of the poems are written in a Keeerdiff dialect. I hope my fellow Diffians enjoy it.

Mab Jones Press Photo

Mab Jones is a ‘daring wordsmith’ from Cardiff. Find out more at http://www.mabjones.com




The We Are Cardiff stage at Swn Festival 2012: presenting Mab Jones

Not sure if we mentioned it or not, but we’re curating a stage at this year’s Cardiff-based musical cornucopia – SWN FESTIVAL! In the run up to the festival, we’re going to be running short profiles on each of the lovely people performing on our stage. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Madame Mab Jones. Mab has been involved with We Are Cardiff before – you can read her story here.

Q. You’re performing on the WAC stage at Swn this year! Can you describe yourself as a performer? What can people expect?
A. I’m a modern-day Pam Ayres with a penchant for the political; a naughty-but-nice Welsh ‘lady’ who enjoysentertaining with raw, rude, ribald rhyme. I’ve performed at the Comedy Store, Leicester Comedy Festival, in the USA, Japan, on BBC Radio 4, at Latitude, Green Man, and many, many more. People can expect “delightful comic verse, articulate and imaginative” (Three Weeks, Edinburgh Fringe review).

Q. Describe the spoken word scene in Cardiff for us
A. It’s pretty good, with regular nights at Tommy’s Bar and National Theatre Wales’s Word 4 Word. There are some cool events at Gremlin Alley, the squat on City Road. And I also organise the odd event through my spoken word collective Jam Bones.

Q. Any local spoken word artists you’d tip for people to see?
A. My favourite Cardiff spoken word artists are Jack Pascoe, Liam Johnson, Nicholas Whitehead, Will Ford, and Steven Kenward.

Q. What’s your favourite thing to do in Cardiff?
A. My favourite thing is trying different types of world food – there are lots of good eateries in the Diff these days.

Q. Give us your lowdown on Swn Festival
A. I’ve been to bits of the festival before, and seen lots of great bands. I think this time I’m mostly looking forward to seeing The Lovely Eggs, who I missed in Cardiff earlier in the year.

Q. If people want to check out your stuff online, where can they do that?
A. They can look at my website, www.mabjones.com. Or else they can google me and see a lot of things I never approved and don’t like come up *sigh* **wink**.

“An Ely Tale” – Mab


I am from Ely. A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them this. They listen to my polite, merely Diff-tinged accent, and think – she can’t be an Elyite! Elyopian? No way! They think I am telling fibs. I would like to drag them by their slender wrists to the house I grew up in, a tiny dwelling the size of a tooth. It’s not a fairy tale, I’d like to say; this is the garden in which my father used to shoot cats; this is the kitchen with women instead of appliances…

I didn’t like Ely. Some people seem to have a Grand Avenue of a time but, as fairy tales go, I found it a bit Grimm. I escaped into books at an early age, then I escaped to private school – Howell’s, in Llandaff. I had an assisted place. Getting on the crowded bus in my Harry Potter-esque uniform, with its crest-chested blazer, pinstripe blouse, and straw boater in summer, attracted some attention. But I was glad to get away. As soon as I was over the bridge, I began feeling better. When I think back, now, I realise it isn’t Ely I dislike – it’s poverty. Ely is a large council estate, and the stain-glass windows and red-carpeted entrance of Howell’s School were a luxurious balm to the cracked glass and bare stairs of Home.

Ely had such a powerfully negative effect on me that, by extension, I also disliked Cardiff. Caroline Street, with its porn shops, chippies, and army surplus stores seemed to summarise life as far as I could see it. Sex, food, and death; the gutters full of misery and fag ends. My mother came from a long line of housewives, a slave to her husband, her ovaries, and the kitchen sink. She got pregnant with me when she was 17, and that was considered a late start. I wanted more, but Cardiff didn’t seem to have the thing I was looking for.

I was the first in my family not to have a kid in her teens, and the first to finish school. I even went so far as to do an MA. However, I was also very overweight, and very withdrawn. For a period of about 8 years, I hardly spoke, a condition that was only later diagnosed as Selective Mutism. Then, aged 23, I escaped to Japan… The rich pink cherry blossoms and deep red maple leaves were an even greater balm than the décor of high school. I lived in an artist house next to a mountain, and began speaking again. But by the end of three years, I felt like returning…

I went to London, with the intention of moving there, but came back to Wales after one day. Cardiff was as grey and dull as I remembered – but things were beginning to change. I remember the Arms Park being taken down, and I didn’t feel sorry. I took pictures of the Millennium Stadium being built up, and I was glad. This new building was bigger and brighter – it had ambition. I saw the Bay transform itself from grey sludge into sparkly shops, eateries, boat tours, and buildings. To me, it felt like the dingy city of my childhood was suddenly sparking into colour; as if the dowdy, drab-haired housewife was finally putting on her glad-rags, painting her nails, getting a perm… Monotomy and monogamy were set aside, as Cardiff became – well, a bit of a tart.

Cardiff began selling herself. The stadium drew in the visitors, more than ever before; the Bay was a draw, St David’s 2 was built… The people of the city have cashed in, with Cardifferent T-shirts, I Loves the Diff badges, those fab place name cards that were launched just the other day. I bloody love it. There’s more going on here, it seems: less of the boring Male Voice Choir stuff; more of the South Wales Gay Male Choir stuff. There’s spoken word, comedy, and burlesque. Cardiff Identity Festival. Cardiff Design Festival. The Cardiff Story. Cardiff has become the Diff – that long, moany ‘keaar’ sound dropped. Good riddance, say I.

The only problem with the flirty bird the city has become is the possibility of over-sell. Prostitution, instead of promotion. Casinos, strip bars, Hooters. Sometimes I worry the city is going to turn into a massive Caroline Street…

Not that much of this has spread into Ely. It’s still as poor as it ever was. My sister lives on Snowden Road, where the Ely Riots took place. The price of bread is what caused it. Now there is a Greggs. My nephews tuck into ring doughnuts as they walk home from school, mattresses springing from front gardens. The brightest thing in the grey suburb is, as it ever was, the orange bus – bendy instead of double decker, but still there, to take you – fortunately in my case, unfortunately for others – away.

Mab Jones is an award-winning comic and performance poet. She often uses the Diff dialect in her work, and is member of B.A.D. (British Accent & Dialect) Poets, who translate famous poems into their native tongue. She performs all over the UK, and has two anthologies forthcoming with Parthian Books. Please check out her website for details: http://www.mabjones.com/

Mab was photographed in Splott by Adam Chard