An interesting article to share, especially after watching a documentary last night on a global company who say they are all about the customer!
An interesting article to share, especially after watching a documentary last night on a global company who say they are all about the customer!
Today is my first full writing day after the long Easter weekend. Last week – the first week in my writing skin, Mr G. took some half days and we celebrated the glorious weather together sitting in the garden and planting some more tubs up. Towards the end of the week I was performing at events and then came the Easter Weekend which ended with a marathon jungle/allotment expedition to get the next lot of crops in. All this activity resulted in a lack of writing.
I miraculously managed an early start today and was working away on To DO List tasks before 9a.m! My first mission this morning was to track back through my writing diary and drag up any websites I have neglected to take a look at. I had to make sure social media was OFF so I could get on with catching up with NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo challenges.
I also wanted to write and submit some farm poems to be displayed along the fence at Acton Scott Farm, Jean Atkin has recently taken up Poet in Residence there. A role she seems to be really enjoying.
This morning I have found a new collaborative art performance opportunity for November in Walsall (UK) and I have received news from Jean Atkin that she has accepted the poem about the pig I sent this morning for the Poetry Fence at Acton Scott Farm. I saw her post on social media yesterday showing a cute half and half hybrid pig. Jean links the fence poetry on her blog so I will post a link for you all soon.
I have also been looking at the Wenlock Poetry Festival site and trying to organise myself for next weekend. My poem is one of the ‘croft originals’ mentioned, displayed in Croft Design and published on the website.
Opportunity – for stage poets.
I have finally managed to get the blog up to date! I have another busy week coming up.
There are a couple of events in Birmingham this week which I may attend, depending on energy levels. On Friday I am performing at Word Up at York’s Bakery. It is also my final week off work and I need to catch up with NaPoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, there are some future submissions I need to work towards. I also need to prepare for my 1st ever slam.
Happy Easter Everyone!
Hit the Ode
The guest list this week was phenomenal - the event is run by Bodhan Piasecki, who works as the west Midlands Programme Co-ordinator for Apples & Snakes and is a lively. energetic and entertaining host. The formula is 6 open mic spots (usually pre-booked) and then 3 headliners – guest poets, a local, national and international act.
We have poems. Poems which crunch when you bite into them; poems you’ve been meaning to call for ages; poems buzzing like wires strung between pylons.
Good poems. Come and get them.
Winner of the US Slam Poetry Championship and the Canadian Spoken Word Olympics, Koyczan is truly an extraordinary talent that has blown the dust off of the designation “poet”. Engaging and authentic in attitude, Koyczan emerges in a new wave of 21st century poetry that dares to belong to the people and speak directly to them in their own voice.
Jasmine Ann Cooray is a poet and spoken word artist and workshop facilitator from London, of British and Sri Lankan heritage. She is known for vivid imagery, attention to detail and storytelling through personal experience. Jasmine has just returned from her stint as International Writer in Residence at The National University of Singapore.
JODI ANN BICKLEY
One of Brum’s best loved authors, poet and best-selling author of One Million Lovely Letters Jodi Ann Bickley returns to Hit the Ode for her very first full set. It’s high time: since her victory at the 2009 Roundhouse slam, Jodi has performed all over the UK, including festivals such as Bestival and Glastonbury. She was a speaker at TEDxBrum in 2013.
Many people wanted the open mic slots for the honour of performing in front of Shane. I asked back in March but was already too late. I was put on the reserve list. I hadn’t given this a thought all day. I got there in time to mingle and chat to poets I haven’t seen in a while and some that were at PFL as well, then took my seat (which was a bit of luck) I think there were 80 people there it was standing room only!
A Surprise Performance!
Bohdan came up and told me there had been a no-show and that he was giving the slot to me. I accepted eagerly and then went into shock! The event was about to start and I hadn’t prepared anything, fortunately in my hurry to leave for the train I had grabbed some extra poems, sorted my PFL poems out on the train, then resorted them at the library – when I arrived I had forgotten what it was I was going to perform!
I frantically looked through and chose 3 suitable poems.
All the open mics were brilliant and I think I was the only one with words on the stage – it made me feel better when all 3 headline acts (including Shane) used screens, books and prompt notes to read some of their sets from. They like me didn’t just stand there and read – it is a glance down for feeder lines performance.
I still like to take a new set to every show – 20+% of the audience has usually been to other events - there are some poems – much as I love them – that I have heard every month so far this year more or less, although this is the done thing professionally – of course it is – who wants to learn 100 poems! I go to so many events that on occasion I have already seen the main act elsewhere, they usually throw in 1 or 2 different poems but the rest of their 20 minutes is the same show. I like to mix it up and because of this still only know a couple by heart!
Despite having the paper (which if you remember I REALLY needed) last time I was lucky enough to perform at Hit the Ode (back in Feb) I lost my focus and the already rehearsed and perfected poems slipped out of my head and I died on stage, had to jump off, empty my bag (literally tipped it upside down) and then jump back on the mic and perform from the page!
This time I performed well and lots of people spoke to me about my poems. One of which I wrote when I was 17. (It was published – I didn’t tell many people that!)
JODI ANN BICKLEY – was brilliant! I hadn’t realised it was her 1st long performance – it was fabulous, funny, heart wrenchingly truthful and we all wanted at least another 20 minutes, she informed us that we wouldn’t want to see her turn, which usually happens around the 4th poem, one to watch out for, she was great!
JASMINE COORAY – Owned the stage, composed and full of life’s experiences she wrote about her life, memories, people and brought them all to life on the stage in front of us. A stunning set and someone I could also have spent the whole night listening to. She was selling some hand-made pamphlets (between publications) and I regret that I didn’t have enough spare cash after the afternoon in Birmingham to buy one.
SHANE KOYCZAN – A M A Z I N G! And lacks ego – the crowd went wild and his 1st words were ‘I didn’t save anyone!’ A true heroes welcome, a true hero, but a humble man. He made me feel like we were right there alongside him, all equal – despite the standing ovation at the end and ENCORE, 2 things I have NEVER witnessed at a poetry night – including Hit the Ode! WOW! EVERYONE! Even the people lucky enough to have chairs! It was a powerful, energetic performance, full of raw emotion, life stories and some jokes about numbers that we will never forget! If there were any men preparing best man speeches in the room then Shane set would be a dream! It is beyond words really! Incredible. Loved it! Go on, go…. You Tube!
After the gig I was able to talk to people again and I went to meet Shane who performed an amazingly, open, emotive, energetic set, how he remembers all his words I don’t know. He signed my every-writer-should-have-one-handbag-notebook, which is currently fairly empty as I have just finished the one I used when this poetry mission started, last October. I have a lovely message now to inspire me every time I open the book.
After an adrenalin packed day I headed home by train and car and resisted the temptation to stay up all night and dance around in happy circles! (Although my performance photos are not something I enjoy looking at or sharing at the moment, I think ZUMBA might be the best post-gig adrenaline plan!)
Shane Koyczan (language content)
I have been going to Spoken Word at The Ort since the tail end of last year, it was always on a Thursday and the first 3 months of 2014 the dates clashed with one or two other events in the city, numbers dropped.
This month was the first FRIDAY (now a regular slot) and it was PACKED! Only half the audience had chairs. I haven’t seen it that busy for a long time. It was great! There were probably an equal amount of audience to performers, which is fantastic.
As I walked in I was actually recognised by somebody who had seen me perform in Worcester, it was good chatting to them. There were lots of familiar faces and some from other events who I have never seen go to The Ort.
There has always been a mix of acts; musicians, comedians, poets, storytellers.
This evening we were treated to 3 bands – who Debbie, has quite rightly invited back to do a whole evening sometime soon. There were Burlesque/ Band singing, Swingerella (a friend of mine, Andrea Shorrick) has a persona and performs her love torn poetry through Swingerella and a case of props, she has branched out into comedy and performs regularly at a Burlesque night herself. She told me on Thursday that she has created other characters, the Steve Coogan of the Poetry/Comedy world! A female version of course, there were some great spoken word/ poets and a couple who had never performed live before!
The atmosphere as always was electrifying and yet relaxed, I love performing at the Ort. I tried to perform using my new mobile phone tech. it let me down half way through the set and I reverted to page copy. I had some positive feedback and really enjoyed the set.
All photography copyright Bernard Davis
I have enjoyed my first week off work, I love life in my writing skin. I spent the first 3 days writing, reading and making submissions, well one submission, the rest weren’t ready for the deadline and there is no point submitting any below par writing. The weather we had at the beginning of the week was gorgeous. I spent every afternoon in the garden and Mr G took a couple of half days to enjoy the sun with me.
By Thursday I was ready to go out and about, after a 3 day rest, (I had been out on small errands, to post the submission the old fashioned way and to pick up a take-away tea).
Poetry For Lunch and Tea
I had a double booking in the city. Poetry for Lunch (now POETRY FOR LUNCH) with Jan Watts and then in the evening I was going to watch poetry performances at HIT THE ODE, which included such big headliners this month that tickets (usually bought on the door) were pre-booked online. The room was also full of headliners just watching from the audience. It was such a great day!
Poetry For Lunch – Library of Birmingham
I got into the city from the suburbs by train and rushed to the Library of Birmingham for POETRY FOR LUNCH, it was great to be back (since I started my contract I work Thursdays) and lovely to see Jan again – and as it is Easter, she had bought mini eggs for us to share. Mmmmmm. There were some people I had not seen perform before and a few people I didn’t know. I shared a couple of poems – it is the first time I haven’t needed to wear a coat!
Part way through I noticed my friend, Tracy watching from the steps. She smiled and took some photos. Lovely to see her. Then later on towards the end of the event who should I spot in the audience, but….. a celebrity! :)
Frank Skinner (who had attempted to hide behind his hands), it didn’t work, Frank – you will have to come and meet us all next week if your show is still in town, he is performing at The Hippodrome.
Poets Eat and Drink – An Afternoon in the City
After PFL a group of us went for drinks together and spent a few hours chatting – there is never time at events to really socialise and a couple of us were staying in town for the hours between these gigs. It was great to catch up with people I have not seen for a few months. Later on I went to a buffet place for tea (lovely) before hitting Hit The Ode.
I loved last Saturday – I have been too busy to update the blog regularly this last week, now I have some time and am trying to get posting so that as of tomorrow we fall back into real time, otherwise we will still be ‘in April’ by May!
Saturday 12th April, was such a busy day that I ended up suffering hot flushes and had to have a powernap to make it through!
My day started early (which is a miracle in itself – as many weekends I am not awake until the afternoon) but it was the start of my Easter holidays and the pressure of work has disappeared. I have been awake most days between 7-8. It was closer to 9.30 when I woke up which didn’t give me long to make a decision and drive to the train station. Especially as I had to pack a bag for an overnight weekend too!
I took a train into Birmingham, reading through my set on the 20minute journey. Making it in good time to the Urban Coffee House and Najma’s Exhibition. Read all about it here. Female Force
Female Force was the opening exhibition launch event for Najma Hush a.k.a Photogiraffe.
I told Ian about the event at the WWM Meeting on Thursday, I knew the travel time would be tight, had I stayed on the train I may have made it in time, but we went to a party in the evening and I needed my car.
I just made it in time for the Writing Group, it was fun to tell the kids where I had been, especially as this week Ian asked me to share my poetry with them. We were looking at role-play and dialogue, I had intended to write a poem especially for the group. Clearly there was no time. They seemed to enjoy the two I shared.
We had a great meeting, they really enjoyed the role play and drama, Ian is great about me having more input – he knows my intention to become a lead writer (even though I have just agreed to do another full year (academic year) as an assistant writer with Ian), it will be great experience. Next month we have a change of venue into the studio and there was mention of a murder mystery, I hope to help Ian with some practical activities/ideas for our next session.
After the meeting I raced around the shops to buy Claire cards and a present – as we were going to her 40th – a buffet and band at a local pub. I couldn’t find a suitable card in time, so I tried to pick one up in town when I had driven back there. I ended up with the PERFECT one! She is as close to 40 as a 30 year old and all the cards seemed more appropriate for people over 70 – I found one that perfectly matched our birthday wishes for her – which were basically fulfilled that night. It was a great party and the band ‘Happy Accident’ were absolutely amazing, all covers, lots of Kings of Leon and it was great fun – especially all of us dancing together.
The sad thing was they bought a tray of mini desserts out that we didn’t know about – having moved around to the dance floor and Stewart had made a custom peanut cake that none of the staff could find the next day – when we all really needed the sugar!
It was a late night 1.30 am and in the morning we got up early, just after 8, as that was the original plan. We ended up staying until teatime. I had a great morning in the garden, in the sun, with Mr G and 4 of our close friends. Eventually there was talk of pubs and all day breakfasts, several trips to the shops to stock up on fridge drinks. We did all make it to the pub by 3 – they were serving carvery by then, a Sunday Roast would have been PERFECT – but we were a little cash negative after the bar bill from the birthday party the night before.
Eventually we made it home, close to 6pm to share a lovely evening together after a fabulous (tiring) weekend!
Saturday 12th April was a day of events. There was the Independent Book Fair at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. This event was organised by Writing West Midlands, who I was working for in Worcester the same day. I toyed with the idea of getting into the city early for an hour and leaving to journey across the county. I decided I would only have an hour and it wasn’t worth the early start and extra journey. I have read reviews and I know I wouldn’t have managed much in just an hour.
Then I found out that Najma Hush’s event was also in the morning. It was touch and go and I really appreciate her squeezing me in on the line up as I couldn’t confirm until the morning of her opening event. Now an hour of poetry was something that I was willing to make a journey for!
The Diverse Dancers exhibition was such a great event to be part of. I knew I would have a great morning and was sad that I couldn’t stay for the whole event as I had to travel back for my Assistant Writers job.
I met new poets and had the chance to see some of them perform, it seemed like ages since I had made it into the city to see my Birmingham based poetry friends and reconnecting at this event was lovely! And I had a cupcake for breakfast! Well it would have been rude not to, I was in the Urban Coffee House, ‘where magic happens’ and it is filled with sweet treats.
I read some very personal material. The theme ‘Female Force’ gave us a platform that was safe to share such things and I wasn’t the only performing exposing the edge of realities. Strength and vulnerability meet somewhere on that circle.
It was really hard having to leave in the interval, I am glad I managed to catch Charlie Jordan and Julie Boden before I left.
I missed the second half and it sounds like it was a great day. I am linking Photo Giraffe’s review for you all to enjoy the full scale of this event.
Friday night (11th April) saw the first of 3 events hosted at The Hive (Worcester Library) organised as a joint venture between the Ledbury Poetry Festival and WLF – Worcester LitFest & Fringe.
These events are organised and promoted by Ruth Stacey.
Unfortunately both Fiona Sampson and David Caddy were unable to make the event. Fiona Sampson arranged another poet from London to take her place. Alan Brownjohn.
The theme was Landscape and Place and we were treated to a wide range of poetry around this theme.
Martin Malone kicked the night off and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his poems. Alan Brownjohn delighted us with his humour, his funny and enjoyable poetry often had serious tales behind it. I loved hearing more from Angela France again, she shared some brilliant poems and told us stories about how some of them were inspired.
It was a great night with poetry friends, very inspiring. I had completely forgotten to take book money though, at the end I said that I hoped to find secret money- and I did! (Often put a handbag away with money still inside it, good trick!) I found £20 of secret money in the pocket of my bag, felt rich for a moment and then spent it on poetry books! At least I didn’t have to decide between Martin’s and Angela’s. I already had a copy of Hide from the Launch in Birmingham last year.
“It was a really lovely night and I appreciate all the people who came out to listen to poetry at the Hive.” © 2014 Ruth Stacey
Poetry and Pollination & Carol Ann Duffy can be found here