24th – 25th October


For the 3rd year running AWF is hosting INKSPILL, a free online writing retreat. Come and join us and our Guest Writers for a weekend of writing and motivation.

There is NO SIGN UP, NO FEE.

Just read the posts, share links to your work, comment and LIKE the posts.

AWF offers this retreat to you for FREE, in return all we ask is you LIKE, reblog or share our blog posts.


We have several Guest Writers this year – to be announced soon!


Spread the word! INKSPILL


Happy National Poetry Day!


I love celebrating National Poetry Day and always enjoy reading how other people have spent theirs. Today is the first day of Birmingham Literature Festival, I booked my tickets when they were released in the summer, which means as I have already paid, it feels free.


Tonight I will be at Kidderminster Carpet Museum to celebrate NPD with Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate), Suz Winspear, Chloe Clarke (Young Poet Laureate) and Maggie Doyle (Poet Laureate Emeritus) as well as the poetry competition finalists;

Winner competition shortlist public vote

Charley Barnes – Greener On The Other Square

Competition finalists in alphabetical order

Brian Comber – Sally-my-handsome

Jenny Shaw – The Colour Of The Wind

Claire Walker – Learning To Make A Rag Rug

It is going to be a great night of poetry.

light shade NPD

I also LOVE this posters for NPD 2015 – Save and share

01_THINK 03_DREAM_poster 04_ACT-poster 05_SPEAK_poster

ENJOY and don’t forget to tell us how you are spending yours.





Swindon Poetry Festival – blissful, amazing, supportive, friendly, fun, abundant opportunities, fabulous workshops, performances and readings, fantastic venue and lovely vegetarian food, what more could a poet wish for… well, the whole weekend for starters. I thought I was being very clever organising an action packed day and a bit of writing time, next year I plan on making the whole festival a 5 day stretch – Thursday to Monday morning.

I didn’t want to leave and if plans hadn’t already been made for the weekend I would have booked extra tickets for almost all of the events on offer in the programme.

The programmes themselves were works of Art, striking covers and clear festival listings sandwiched between poems from the performers booked for the weekend. Most of us will keep festival programmes so to have one as worthwhile as Swindon’s is a blessing. There were also Battered Moon pamphlets handed out over the weekend with winning poetry inside and the winner of the Buzzwords competition was announced too. The whole weekend was one massive celebration of words, poetry and poets and the whole community/ retreat feeling just added to the excitement of spending time together.

Everyone was friendly, I was trying to catch up with people I knew and get to meet new people too but my anxieties ran high and I wasn’t the best of company some of the time, watching others approaching strangers and not feeling confident enough to do the same. I did spend some of my free time writing as well, which makes talking to people a bit hard.

Hilda Sheehan

I first met Hilda Sheehan in January 2014 at Buzzwords, Cheltenham, an excellent evening organised by Angela France. Hilda is an amazing, generous person and an immensely talented poet. This year she had Jo Bell there as resident poet and she certainly worked hard in her role. Both these poets are a pleasure to be around. Their positivity is contagious and smiles have to be shared.

I met a lot of people who had never been to a Poetry Festival before and some who had only recently picked up the genre. The mix of residents and day trippers made for great conversational dynamics and as with everything in the world of poetry many of us knew each other.

I had hoped to make this festival in 2014 but work prevented it. I booked my tickets in the last few weeks of September believing it to be miles away and then realising Swindon Poetry Festival was just a week away!

It came at the end of a busy work week (unfortunately) I promise myself now I will plan better for 2016! I need FULL energy to appreciate this world fully!

Many of the events and the residential accommodation is at Lower Shaw Farm, an amazing place. Tickets are sold through Eventbrite and it couldn’t be easier book.


 Poetry Swindon Festival Programme 
“The friendliest and least pretentious; rich, diverse, and encompassing; pushing past conventional views of poetry in the twenty-first century; intimately global; startlingly fresh.” Robert Peake

We welcome you to Poetry Swindon Festival 2015. Our aim to offer up poetry on a pleasurable plate mixed with music, film, food, walking, boat trips, and some Dorothy Parker to ensure you have a good time during this one big creative programme over five days. 

This year, we are very fortunate to have the Canal Laureate Jo Bell with us all weekend. She brings with her great poetry fresh from her new collection Kithpublished earlier in the year by Nine Arches Press. Jo offers us readings, chats, workshops, a canal trip and one-one poetry surgeries. You can book for the entire weekend at Lower Shaw Farm and enjoy the whole caboodle.


We have an exciting programme from 1st October to 5th October this year with wonderful visiting poets and masterclasses. Don’t miss: Jo Bell, Kei Miller, Robert vas Dias, Angela France, Ellie Woollard, Tania Hershman, Myra Schneider, Andy Jackson, Richard Skinner, Pascale Petit, Ross Cogan, David Clarke, Anna Saunders, Jacqui Saphra, Lynette Thomas, Robert Stredder, Jackie Bardwell and Cherry Potts.

I booked Friday and had the pleasure of the X-ray Spex Workshop with Jo Bell, which has given me at least 3 or 4 poems to work on.

I was one of ten 52 Poets who performed our work and promoted the anthology over lunch.

I thoroughly enjoyed Andy Jackson and the Double Bill event, followed by Kei Miller and then an evening back at the ranch with all the resident poets.

The following day after a comfortable night’s sleep, I shared time with people and wrote away the morning on the farm before I had to return home to normality and a world where words are sometimes harder to find.

There will be more photographs shared – a taster of the weekend coming soon.





September Review


SEPTEMBER 2015 Review – What a month! The end of the month marked 2 years a poet, I had a celebration last year and plan to organise a belated one for this year too. September itself was busy for everyone and October doesn’t seem any emptier. November and December tend to become quieter. I will see when it best fits and hope to manage it before the end of the year.


I took a trip up to Shropshire to join in with John Hegley’s workshop in Ludlow, followed by the Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with headliners John Hegley and Ian McEwan.

john hegley appletree

john hegley guillemot

Jean Atkin © 2015

Jean Atkin © 2015

My application for the Poetry Brothel on 31st October at the P Café was accepted by Caged Arts.

I entered the WLF NPD Competition on the theme of light (and shade).

I worked on the Caldmore Garden writing project and continued to edit and redraft my pamphlet poetry.

Rehearsals for NPD Light & Shade were organised and I worked on the poem for this event. I performed at Spoken Word at The Ort.


WEEK 2 light shade NPD

I finalised my NPD poem for Light & Shade performance event on NPD (8th Oct)

I performed at Mouth & Music and SpeakEasy, attended Stanza.


I had had my first WWM Writing West Midlands group of the new academic year and now in the role of Lead Writer – it went really well and I was  very pleased. The Young Writers enjoyed it and my new Assistant Writer is amazing.

I went to the Plenty Fish Book Launch – By Sarah James, Nine Arches Press and celebrated her success by listening to her guest poets – Fergus McGonigal, Mike Alma, Kathy Gee, Ian Glass, Holly Magill & Maggie Doyle and enjoying an evening of Poetry and Curry.

plentyfish books

I completed the week in Birmingham with Tessa Lowe at Poets with Passion.


Started with Arts business meetings and Poetry on Loan training in Worcester, I was booked as a Guest Poet in Cheltenham in October, made the shortlist for WLF NPD Competition, the public were then allowed to vote on their favourite to join the other 3 finalists who are performing at the event on NPD.

I went to Poetry For Lunch – revival 2015 at the P café with Jan Watts and others, performed poetry and enjoyed iced coffee blends. Went to Hit the Ode with Myfanwy Fox to see Jackie Hagan, Toni Stuart and Leon Priestnall.


I went to Swingerella’s Wrecking Ball Tour at the Mockingbird Theatre and rehearsed for Caldmore Carnival event in the garden then spent Sunday working on Alice in Wonderland poetry for the AAOTP (Arts all Over the Place) fundraiser next week.


Heather Wastie, Suz Winspear and I had our first rehearsal for NPD, I am now trying to learn the poems off by heart as we have choreographed a dramatic showing and I want to be able to use my body accordingly. We even sorted costume. Very exciting.

I went to Poetry Bites to watch Liz Berry and Jane Commane headline. I performed as one of the open mic-ers, also had a good catch up with Jonathan Davidson (WWM). I performed my Alice/ Lewis Carroll poems at the Madhatter’s Fundraiser for AAOTP, booked tickets for Swindon Poetry Festival and organised Guest Writers for INKSPILL – our online writing retreat which takes place the 3rd weekend in October. We had wonderful weather for the Carnival Day in Caldmore (postponed from the summer due to bad weather) the choral poem worked really well and we performed some of our workshop poetry too with David Calcutt – Poet in Residence 2014/15.


I finished off the month writing Vampire poetry for 42 – the 50th event of 42. It was pure celebration on the 30th and lots of incredibly talented performers and writers took to the stage.



John Hegley



Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room, Ludlow, 1st September

Spoken Word at The Ort Café, Birmingham, 4th September

Mouth & Music, Kidderminster, 8th September

SpeakEasy, Worcester, 10th September

Poetry For Lunch, P Café Birmingham 17th

Poetry Bites, Birmingham 22nd

MADHATTER’S WONDERLAND OF LAUGHTER – Arts All Over the Place, Fundraiser, Birmingham 24th

Caldmore Carnival Open Day, Group Poem Performance, Walsall 26th

42, Worcester 30th September



WWM Lead Writer for Senior Group, Worcester, 12th September

Book Launch, Plenty Fish by Sarah James Published by Nine Arches 12th

Poets With Passion at The Ort, Birmingham 13th September

Poetry On Loan Training, Worcester 14th September

Hit The Ode, Birmingham 17th

Swingerella Wrecking Ball Tour, Mockingbird Theatre, Birmingham, 18th

Caldmore Garden – Rehearsals for Carnival event, Walsall 19th

NPD Light & Shade rehearsals, 21st


J. H © 2015

J. H © 2015

October has a busy start with Swindon Poetry Festival, Stirchley Speaks, National Poetry Day, Light & Shade NPD performance and a weekend Book Launch ‘The Girl who Grew into a Crocdile’ By Claire Walker.

I am busy organising our 3rd Online Retreat right here, INKSPILL… LOOK OUT FOR MORE DETAILS SOON!

Poeting, Training & Performing – September


I am currently working against end of month deadlines for a few projects as well as working the proper job to make up for lack of summer funds. I am really too busy to be blogging and in three days time will be reviewing September anyway… but I also believe my poeting needs a mention, after all that is why this blog was created and some of you are following the journey.


Business Meetings, Plans & Poetry On Loan Training

This month I have taken on board training – which is something I haven’t done for a while. I had a great business meeting, which was a spin off from the laureateship competition exposure and this guided me through the end of year ideals well. Including some possible job applications, which have now been openly shared across social media increasing my known competition, which is terrifying but hasn’t put me off going for it anyway. This meeting helped me come home and set some clear goals for myself rather than just wavering between writing the manuscript, performing poems and getting involved in projects (like Caldmore Gardens with David Calcutt’s residency, NPD with Heather Wastie, organising the next INKSPILL – AWF’s very own FREE online writing retreat, supporting and promoting Arts All Over the Place Festival in support of Mental Health).

I did ‘Poetry on Loan’ training with Brenda Read-Brown and Jon Seagrave (Jonny Fluffypunk). It was a great session with librarians and poets sharing experiences and evaluating from our roles. I hope one day soon I will be able to provide the service of Poet on Loan. Ready now. Sadly I missed this year’s competition, remembering the deadline as the end of the month rather than the beginning!



I have been rehearsing for Caldmore Carnival (26th)

Janet Jenkins © 2015

and NPD Light & Shade (on National Poetry Day – 8th October). Caldmore was brilliant, a group from the Calcutt/Caldmore workshops sent poems which David then edited into a   CHORAL poem to be performed by Andy Summers, Jimm Rennie, Janet Jenkins and myself, unfortunately after making the rehearsal Jimmie wasn’t well enough to perform this past Saturday and David took his place.

LIGHT and shade 

light shade NPD

Suz Winspear and I met with Heather Wastie for our first ‘Light and Shade’ rehearsal and ideas flowed extremely well. The whole spectacle is now blocked and there will just need to be a few run throughs before the night. We have sorted costume and now all we have to do is get to know the final performance draft of our poems, practise and enjoy! It is a great collaboration to be part of.


Caldmore Carnival – Choral Poetry Performance

It was a pleasure to see the garden caldmore being used in full summer (September) glory and I am glad we performed before they had all the talented dance and music groups on, the talent of local young people.

caldmore 3 caldmore2

Carnival Photography Nina Lewis © 2015

We had a great weather day too!


Swingerella – Wrecking Ball Tour – Birmingham

I really feel this show deserves a blog post of its own. I may have to do a feature of some sort as Andrea Smith/Shorrick is taking the world by storm as Swingerella and her show was amazingly powerful with messages that need to be exposed. I booked my tickets to see her show at the Mockingbird Theatre, Custard Factory, pre-Edinburgh – Swing did the fringe and went down a storm there and then came back to perform a swansong on home soil.

When I have some more time next month, I will blog about her fabulous journey and the show, which has reached the end of its run. She may even give us a sneak preview of her next venture.

Jimmy Riddle © 2015

Jimmy Riddle © 2015


Poetry Bites with Jacqui Rowe, Featuring Liz Berry & Jane Commane

It was a pleasure to be at this event, not only to watch the headliners Liz Berry and Jane Commane but also for so many reasons.

It has been ages since I have been able to get to Poetry Bites, there were so many poets I hadn’t seen for a while who also managed to attend and it was great catching up. I got to sit and chat with Jonathan Davidson and Jane Commane AND some poetry friends from elsewhere came to check it out and perform. I think I may have converted several new fans.

It was fantastic to hear Jane Commane’s poetry. She is a well established editor (Nine Arches Press) and so often my involvement with Jane (since 2013) has been when she is wearing her editing shoes. To hear her poetry was a delight.

Liz Berry, well like John Hegley, she is back in my world again, so soon. The upside of this is I remembered to take my book to be signed and as it hasn’t been that long since her KAF appearance, she remembered our conversation about the book.

Poetry Bites is un-mic-ed (without a mic) and Liz is softly spoken. It was a magical combination listening really hard and hanging onto the edge of the last sounds in words.


In Other Poeting News

I was asked to guest poet next month at an event in Cheltenham and started working on some new submissions.

Last month I was booked for the next AAOTP Arts All Over the Place Fundraiser and spent a morning writing poetry about Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll. Due to unforeseen circumstances I wasn’t able to attend this event until it was nearly over, I did manage to perform and the poems went down well and are also be suitable for the Festival display.


I booked tickets for Swindon Poetry Festival and am delighted to be one of ten readers at;

Lunch with a celebration of ’52’ group and Anthology Fri 12:30 – 2 2/10/15 – Lower Shaw Farm: Come along and enjoy lunch at Lower Shaw Farm, after which we will have readings from the 52 group brought together last year by Jo Bell. This will be a celebration of this wonderful project. There will be readings from the book and from 52ers present.

Lunch with a celebration of ’52’ group and Anthology is happening this Friday 2nd October. So I am now rehearsing National Poetry Day Poetry, a headline set and poetry for 52, hard because we will be reading poems on behalf

Hilary Robinson © 2015

Hilary Robinson © 2015 52 Flash Bomb Poetry outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace 2014

of people who cannot be there and we all read poetry differently. Fortunately I have just found communication about organising the reading of other people’s poetry. Some of my original selection have already been chosen. We are reading one poem each from the anthology

52 the book

and one of our own from the 52 Project. I can’t wait – particularly excited as I missed the Stratford meet earlier this summer.


Quite unbelievably it is the 50th 42 event this week – looking forward to a celebration and performance this Wednesday. Writing poetry for it over the next 48 hours, poetry that I am hoping will also work for a submission this month.


I have lots of great things to look forward to next month and then I think I will rest back a bit more and see the end of the year off behind a desk (that, I would like to believe… we will see)!



More Poetry Events September Poets with Passion, PFL and Hit the Ode


On Sunday 13th, I was back again at Café  1 birm ortin Birmingham, this time with Tessa Lowe and Poets With Passion. Once again it was lovely to reconnect with poets I hadn’t seen in a while and meet new people who love poetry. Tessa’s events are always relaxed and it was a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon.

Before I left she asked Chris Fewings and I if we would be interested in leading the group as one off sessions. Depending on the weather, I have agreed for 2016.

I cannot wait to pick a theme and find poems.

1 birm ort yelp

Poetry for Lunch with Jan Watts at the P Café, Stirchley 17th

Last year you may remember that Jan Watts, former Birmingham Laureate, ran a series of weekly poetry events in the ‘bear pit’ at the Library of Birmingham. Due to funding cuts the library was unable to repeat this successful programme in 2015.

I was delighted when Jan decided to re-launch PFL at the P Café and gutted that I had work booked and couldn’t attend the first event a week before.

It was a great event, lots of poetry was shared and they are creating a Smorgasbord of poetry on the wall at P Café from PFL.

The P Café is an amazingly creative place with a fantastic menu of delicious food, drinks and treats. The truffles are to die for and the atmosphere of the place breeds instant relaxation and happy vibes. I only wish I lived a little nearer!

The best moment at PFL has to go to Elaine Christie –

PFL ELaine

What are the chances of this happening – A fly landing on the page of my poem, when the next line I was about to read was – “Or lost in the flurry of flashing fireflies”

pfl dave pfl jan pfl me pfl mike pfl mogspfl 1

Photography Elaine Christie © 2015

Hit the Ode with Bohdan Piasecki (Apples & Snakes), Birmingham 17th

It was a busy old day for poetry. In the evening Myfanwy Fox (thanks for the lift) and I were in Birmingham for Hit the Ode. They have 3 headliners – a local, national and international poet.

Leon Priestnall (who hosts HOWL) was headlining in the local slot and he was on fire for his set.

The National Poet was Jackie Hagan from Manchester and the International poet was Toni Stuart from South Africa.


Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham.

Join us! We have poems. Poems you can spread on toast in the morning. Poems which sing embarrassing songs under the shower. Poems which will heal if you apply steady pressure. Good poems, Come and get them.


From Birmingham, Leon Priestnall
A stalwart of the Birmingham poetry Scene, Leon is a poet with a passionate performance style, betraying influecnes ranging from hip-hop artists to the Beats. Leon runs the popular Howl event series in Kings Heath, and has been a Hit the Ode supporter for years – we’re delighted to finally be able to offer him a full slot. He will be joined on stage by a special musical guest.

From Manchester, Jackie Hagan
Jackie Hagan was raised on broken biscuits, by hecklers, in a little town that’s now studied on the GCSE syllabus as a ‘failed social experiment’. She performs poetry and comedy, is a playwright for Graeae Theatre and runs Seymour Poets, a creativity project for isolated adults based at blueSCI Arts and Wellbeing centre in Manchester. Jackie is the winner of the 2015 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show for Some People Have Too Many Legs.

From South Africa, Toni Stuart
Toni Stuart is a poetry writer, performer and developer from Cape Town, South Africa. Her work uses poetry to interrogate a range of social issues such as the stories of place and displacement, HIV/Aids, and gender-based violence. She was named in the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 Inspiring Young South Africans for her work in co-founding I Am Somebody! – an NGO that uses storytelling and youth development to build integrated communities.

Bohdan Piasecki © 2015

The whole night was electrifying as always and I thoroughly enjoyed being back at HTO – (they take the summer off).

J. H © 2015

Plenty Fish By Sarah James Book Launch


I was delighted to make Sarah’s launch for her latest book, Plenty Fish – published by Nine Arches Press on the 12th September at Park’s Café. I was already on a high from leading my first WWM group in Worcester.

It was a great night hosted by Fergus McGonigal.


with Mike Alma, Kathy Gee, Ian Glass, Holly Magill performing their poetry too.


Lots of top class poetry and a wonderful set by Sarah.

plentyfish sarah

It was a great night, I can’t wait to read this collection.

plentyfish books

Photographs Justin Leavesley © 2015

Writing West Midlands


Back at the very beginning of my writing life in 2013 I attended a WWM (Writing West Midlands) network meeting in Hereford at the Courtyard Theatre, later in the year I went to another one in Oswestry to meet Simon Thirsk (Bloodaxe) & Ian Billings.


At this meeting I talked to Jonathan Davidson and by January 2014 I had confirmation of working in a voluntary capacity as an Assistant Writer for WWM in Worcester with Ian MacLeod – a Science Fiction writer.

I spent a year and half working in this role and this September I became as the Lead Writer for the Worcester Senior Group of Young Writers, 12-16 yr olds.

leeallenphotographycom WWM

On September 12th I led my first session with this group. It was incredible!

My new Assistant Writer is amazing and eager and we had a good number of participants. The next session I have planned is even better.


We are rallying for more members so if you are local to Worcester or know people who are, we are interested in having new members. Age 12 -16

Please contact Joanne Penn at Writing West Midlands

Apply through the website

or contact Joanne Penn (Learning and Participation Manager)

Writing West Midlands

Unit 204, Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham,  B9 4AA

T: 0121 246 2774


Sessions are held once a month, £6.00 per session and classes run inline with the academic year Sept – June – you can join at any point in the year.

We meet in the Oasis Room at The Hive (library) in Worcester.



Where it all began – WWM Network Meeting Oswestry – I cannot remember the shoes I was throwing away – but in 2015 my poetry shelves creak with the amount of support I have shown to others (which I course hope will be returned to me on the launch of my own pamphlet)!

Poetry Events – September Spoken Word @ The Ort, Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy


As I am so far behind with the blog, with over 3 weeks worth of activities to post about I have decided to bulk post about poetry events this month.

Spoken Word at The Ort with Debbie Aldous – Birmingham 4th

I was delighted to make it back to this event as the last few have clashed with other things. There was a pop up return of Naked Lungs in the city the same evening over in Digbeth and my original plan was to try to get to both. The days of dual gigs are behind me I think, especially at the end of a busy week. I was still recovering from John Hegley and my night in Shropshire.

It was a great evening packed with fabulous performances and new audience and open mic-ers too! Thoroughly enjoyed sharing poetry.


Mouth & Music – Heart, with Heather Wastie – Kidderminster 8th

Headlining this month were MM sepSarah James & Angela Topping, reading from their pamphlet Hearth and Elena Thomas with Dan Whitehouse.

MM elena dan

It was a lovely evening of words and music, some great open mic-ers, I especially enjoyed Jan performing with her husband, they were the opening act and got the night off to a great start. mm jan

I usually find that writing to theme takes place a few days before the event, this month though because of the KAF special – Slightly Circus M & M event there were only a few weeks between the events. This was fine as with a theme like ‘Heart’ I was able to find an abundant amount of poems I had already written. The tough part was choosing which made the cut for my set.

I am glad that Sarah and Angela were mindful that a small percentage of the audience had seen them in Worcester and they chose different poems to read. It was a smashing performance.

MM Angela and Sarah

Here’s what Heather Wastie had to say about the event;

September’s Mouth and Music was as pleasing to organise is it always is. Towards the end of the evening, Dave Sutherland sang a song he had composed using lyrics I wrote after hearing Elena Thomas (one of our features) sing her own songs at the launch of her art exhibition. Sorry for the slightly convoluted sentence but “Carrying the evening home”, the title of the song, refers to what we take away in our heads, and bodies, after an event. Last night, not only did I take away Elena’s beautiful songs and Dan Whitehouse’s gently intricate guitar accompaniment; I also took away the fact that someone from the pub, who I suspect wouldn’t normally go to an event like ours, came in and listened to Elena because she found it provocative that Elena was singing about “the life of a middle-aged woman”. I love Sarah James and Angela Topping’s pamphlet of poetry duets, Hearth, and their reading stirred my own memories of home and family.

The main thing I took away was a feeling of connectedness. I was delighted to see a harmonium on the stage when Jan, a regular and popular performer, was joined by her husband to enhance her poems with musical backing. I enjoyed being teased by Mike Alma’s poem in response to mine about the gherkin which I wrote after seeing one on Angela Topping’s plate! In complete contrast, Mouth and Music’s own Sarah Tamar made a powerful connection with the plight of refugees and Tim Cranmore covered both ends of the … er … spectrum with 2 poems which were uncomfortable to hear, for different reasons: “Inappropriate physical contact” was very thought-provoking, and his final poem ….. ask someone who was there if you want to know.

So many connections were made last night, thanks to featured artists, open mic performers, audience and the lovely staff at the Boars Head. Elena commented on Facebook today, “It’s a special place, Mouth and Music”. I take that as a huge compliment and look forward to seeing some of you on 13th October for some new connections!

Heather Wastie

MM PeteMM Sarah Tamar

Next month Birmingham Poet Leon Priestnall takes centre stage, this month he headlined Hit The Ode and stormed it!

mmoct The month after Swingerella takes the Headline spot.

Photographs Peter Williams © 2015


Speakeasy, with Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal – Worcester 10th

I have not been able to go to SpeakEasy since the Lit Fest and I was delighted to be back and to be able to take a 6 minute slot too. It was great performing poetry back in the glorious comfort of the Rectifying House. Despite not winning the raffle, I appreciated the new lamp, allowing more light to the page and it was great seeing it busy and catching up with poets I hadn’t seen for ages.

Ruth Stacey was headlining, reading from her latest book, ‘Queen, Jewel, Mistress’. I love the passion she has for this historical collection and that love came across in her set, full of enthusiasm and feeling. A very strong performance indeed. queen book

speakeasy sepIt was a superb evening of poetry and pleasure. FUN!






John Hegley Workshop & Performance


I love John Hegley, most poets do (sweeping generalisation with no statistical back-up!) and I was terribly excited earlier on in 2015 when Jean Atkin announced that he was coming to Ludlow. A few months later Amy Rainbow announced he was coming to Malvern and I managed to catch him first at Confab, back in June.

So it is the Year of Hegley for me, as on September the 1st I went to Ludlow for his fantastically amusing workshop at Appletree Studios.

john hegley appletree

Jean Atkin © 2015

It was great working with a small enthusiastic group – actually it was a fairly large group by workshop standards.

At one point (after I had read a particularly witty ‘Sign’ Poem) John told us not to try to be funny, just write. I hoped he realised that I had just written and that came out – with the one liner, admittedly after writing about 5 failing haikus!

It was great fun and I have a whole collection of poetry swirling around my head on the theme of biscuits!

blue boar

In the evening it was the Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room and John Hegley was headlining along with Ian McEwen.

It was a great night as always, the venue was packed and I was amongst the list of open mic-ers for the night. Ian McEwen’s poetry was new to me and something I will explore more (by buying his books) he did an experimental audience participation poem which was like nothing I have experienced before.

Jean Atkin © 2015

Jean Atkin © 2015

Mr Hegley, was Mr Hegley. I was delighted that the set was different to Malvern, although of course, we had the Guillemot join us! It has always been a delight to watch John perform. When I was first a poet at the age of 15 -21 I was a big fan of John Hegley and went to see him perform and met him when I was 19 and it had a big impact on me. Hero and Legends and all that stuff. Now as an adult and a writer/poet, I still love his work. It is good to have some heroes carried from teenhood to grownupsville… I will stop before I make John feel too old.

Incredibly talented. Massively entertaining. Balanced between side splitting – & wry smile humour, with a side order of  heart string tugs from serious autobiographical poetry, an endearing and loveable poet and just a jolly, warm chap!

I am glad the railway station gave you two biscuits, you deserved them!

john hegley guillemot

Jean Atkin © 2015