We've had another explorer join the Bournemouth Scene team! We're very excited to introduce James Kramer. So James, start off by telling us a bit about yourself!
My name is James Kramer, and for the past six years I’ve been living in Beijing. I’m a fiction writer, poet and of late, sort of general journalistic hack. My work can be found at Jameskramerfiction.com
Well, we are very pleased you chose Bournemouth after Beijing! What do you get up to here in Bournemouth?
I don’t seem to be out as much as I once was. I’m still very much a stranger in a strange land, having lived here for only two months. I find exploring places via writing about them as a way in to understanding them better. I guess that’s why I wanted to be involved with Bournemouth Scene, as a sort of way to hold a conversation between myself and the city.
Brilliant! What are your top three hidden gems that you’ve found so far?
The Firkin Shed feels somewhat like an ancestral home. The combination of Tom Waits, Anarchist ideals and a ban on mobile phones pretty much makes it the perfect place for me. The Platform at The Mad Cucumber is another one I’ve started going to, trying to recall my own days of spoken poetry way back when. The other spoken word nights, such as those at Chaplins are next on the list for me. Apart from that, I just write and read and bother the owners of Jiajia Chinese supermarket nearby my room. Every day since leaving China I’ve felt more of my Mandarin slipping away, so try to seek out every opportunity to irritate native speakers with my terrible pronunciation.
What inspired you to become a Bournemouth Explorer with the Bournemouth Scene?
When I arrived here, I started searching for the alternative side to the city. I knew that there was one here, but beyond a few vegan cafes I found little in the way of a scene. There is of course, an incredible cornucopia of people here, all doing very unique and creative things. But it was through my getting involved with the website that I came to find paths to all of these groups. What I’m hoping to do is help provide the kind of information, or suggestions at least, that I was looking for when I first arrived. There’s a lot to sing about here, in terms of what is (constantly) going on. And though I’ve a poor tone, I’m also unashamedly comfortable hearing my own voice.
So, we want to know... How is living in Bournemouth different to life in Beijing?
Smaller, though with hills. Everything in Beijing comes in extremes. Life can be chaotic and intolerable one day and then euphoric and unparalleled the next. Life here is less frenzied, and there seems to be a greater emphasis on enjoying oneself, rather than rushing onto the next opportunity. That said I left behind a much beloved group of friends, as well as an incredible music scene. I do miss the punk/post-rock scene of Beijing a little bit, so I’m still searching out for some good live music (and am open to suggestions). Beijing is not a place in China I that would return to, six years was enough. There are other cities there which hold a far greater connection with me; though living there allowed my writing to expand exponentially. I’m glad that I did it, but need now to move onto other things.
Talking of other things, where can we find you?
As I mentioned, the website (Jameskramerfiction.com) contains most of what I’ve been writing for the past few years. There’s a novel currently being worked on that’s not on there, but there’s an abundance of poetry and short stories. Besides that, I’ll be getting back into spoken word performances hopefully. Beijing doesn’t have much of a live poetry scene, and barring the few times I accosted locals just looking for a drink, I’m somewhat out of practice. Beyond that, I’m still searching for new places to include on the Bournemouth Scene website, so if anyone knows of anyone/anything that they think we should include, then they should definitely reach out, either via Bournemouth Scene or my own site.