November Review


November has been a strange month. I have experienced a writing dip and a lack of energy. This meant that I didn’t make all the events I had planned to this month and instead took the option of sleep.



I tend to spend the winter months pre-Christmas winding down, so after October I am more of a hermit poet than a public one. This month however, I have missed many events that I was looking forward to experiencing. Deep down I know I made the right choice though as driving in winter when tired is not a promising decision.

lanegan 009

Sadly I missed;

Jonathan Edwards at Buzzwords in Cheltenham,

Claire Walker headlining at Permission to Speak as we had a bonfire party on the 5th November.

Spoken Word at the Ort

Poets for Passion at The Ort for Remembrance Sunday

Heather Wastie’s ‘Weaving Yarns’ book launch. Heather was a guest poet for us during INKSPILL 2014.

The last 42 of the year and many other events.

This month I have spent the writing time I have, writing rather than travelling around performing. It costs a lot of money to attend all these events and on the run up to Christmas I need to save my pennies. I haven’t submitted any work for a while and I thought I needed to address this and also my writing days have disappeared since half term as I have been working split day patterns and using all my free time on the day job and chores.



The flipside is that once I pulled myself out of the doldrums I was actually more productive than I have been in a while. I have been writing lots and editing for the past few months but not really submitting anything. I also stopped challenging myself (for an easy life) and I felt parts of my creative mind shut down. NaNoWriMo has helped on the quest for knowledge. I didn’t have time to create 50,000 words this month (or the ideas), so I took part in a FLASH NANO project instead, over on Nancy’s blog.

Since writing NANO flash fiction, I have stumbled upon a great idea that haNaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-Squares potential and I plan (depending on the rest of my schedule) to sign up for the camps in April and the Summer and see if I can knock this idea into shape.



Being happier about my writing life resulted in rejuvenated energy and I was able to carry on achieving goals for the rest of the month.

BLIPS happen – they are frustrating but part of the process, so ride them like a wild wave and make sure you’re attached to the board!


I decided to participate in FLASH NANO – writing flash fiction from a daily prompt. It has given me an opportunity to write new material and trying out new ideas.

nano rabbit

I learnt how to make poetry film videos which I plan to use next year on my You Tube channel.

I enjoyed Stirchley Speaks this month. I was able to just sit back and enjoy it, it was lovely to hear Kathy Gee’s headline set and I am excited that her collection will be out next year too.


The week started with an exciting editorial meeting, finally the manuscript is coming together. Editorial meetings are hard work but when you love what you’re doing they are a pleasure. The hours flew by.

I managed to get to Mouth & Music for the ‘Over the Edge’ theme and discovered a new poet who headlined.

Sadly, I missed Swingerella as I was in need of an early night with a full week of work to get through. My Wednesday was the toughest day of work this half term and I am glad that I had the energy to face it.

Public Address at the MAC was incredible and worth missing Stanza for.



I finally made some submissions, one flash fiction and a couple of poems and I wrote an action plan, neglected to do one for a few months and as my writing days have dwindled to just 2 a month at the moment it is essential I have a through line that I can just pick up when I am next in writer mode.

There were events this week which I decided to miss, due to the fact that I had a full work week.



Again there were events that I have decided not to attend (due to the beginning of December) being so busy.

I did manage to make the final celebration of Restless Bones.



I was unable to take part in the Charity Fundraiser I was approached to do in October in Birmingham as it clashed with a friend’s birthday.

Restless Bones



Mouth & Music



Stirchley Speaks



More details to follow.

FLASH NANO – NaNoWriMo Reaches the Halfway Point


WOW – Pitstop… NaNoWriMo reaches the half-way point, which I could hardly believe when I logged on to update my word count… YES I have been writing, well catch up writing (but that’s okay, especially with NaNoWriMo).

nano rabbit

As I am following Nancy’s blog prompts and attempting to spend the month writing flash fiction, I am not planning on reaching 50,000 but what I can tell you is with all the catch up writing I have smashed through 10,000 – which I celebrated. I remember from 2013 that once you smash that barrier the word count tends to follow and for a while (despite only adding 100 words or so) the number increases drastically across the 100 boundaries. Until your brain leaks the thought of 20,000 words – you feel good for a while.


Last week I thought I might have to cheat further by writing poems not prose, but I am enjoying the Flash challenge and am creating stories that wouldn’t have existed. I am also making these challenges work for me a bit and finding time to research and build up my post NaNo resources – you have to have something to get on with straight afterwards. Keep busy.

nano_15_mug_back_detail Week 2 of NaNoWriMo – Flash Nano

Day 7 – was finally written, an interesting futuristic tale that I think has legs and might become a longer work of fiction some day. It surprised me, even after I had the basic concept of a society that needed more focus on rest and health (and let’s face it our world is mad for busy) – there is a great growing entity behind this story that I would like to explore further. I can feel a Christmas Holiday writing project coming on.

Day 8 – my story was fairly short, but again re-reading it I found some magic moments that I may be able to copy and paste into a story at some point in the future. I wrote this story behind the schedule and it made me glad that I had such an interesting day at work.

Wow, Nancy – you made me happy to be at work!?

Day 9 – This was a great prompt and it could have gone anywhere, in fact at one point I thought it might. I have written all the ideas down for future reference. It also inspired me to create an activity for my writing class and the resulting letter has some dark humour in it. It pleases me when I manage to write something funny, a good change from the serious.

Day 10 – was another prompt that nearly flew to thinking outside the box and again I have a stream of ideas to tackle another time. In the end I based this on a miraculously true story and had fun researching meanings for Italian names. I included bright nobility, which sums up the protagonist well, strength and keeper of time. The ending was left open, but I know what happens.

Day 11 – Again I think this story may need more work, I think it would appeal to the YA market, a market I haven’t considered before. Again, there are touches of humour found in the relationship between the father and his daughter.

Day 12 – has left most of with our jaws on the floor and I have only had time to scaffold my effort. Very 80s and worth being part of Flash Nano for this prompt alone.

Day 13 – was one I enjoyed (although it hasn’t helped the Nano count at just 13 words) but it was fun to edit and re-edit. I changed the story idea twice too, I am happy with the final result.

I also played catch up with the Day 6 challenge – the 100 word story. I wanted to write 150 words so I could submit it and I did just that (well 149). I will keep you posted on this one.


I look forward to the next week of prompts.


I collected a few more award buttons and have 13 stories and 11,548 words so far

10000 word_count_earned

Nancy Stohlman FLASH NANO

What’s the Point? Keeping Motivation ALIVE

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

This morning I decided to watch a TEDx talk whilst eating breakfast. I have spent a couple of weeks in a dip and am lacking motivation and belief. In under three years I am already uttering those vile, monstrous, self-destructive words, ‘what’s the point?’ Not only has the question entered my mind, it has been playing on a slow loop and worse still I have started to take it as fact that the answer is – ‘there isn’t any.’ writing block

All of this is completely ridiculous, however, in the short time I have been back in my writing life I have discovered not only do all writers feel this way from time to time but even really famous authors and successful writers fall prey to these self-sabotaging words.

The point is;

your unique voice, out there for people to read.

this is your chosen career.

you have to stay highly motivated as you have no boss to answer to and some days probably don’t even get dressed before lunchtime (if at all).

you write, but no-one writes 24/7.

this was a choice, still is, but don’t let one bad week/month/year dissuade you.

z st chads barry patterson

So here I am in the doldrums (despite several ongoing exciting projects), this lingering feeling has been unsettling me for over two weeks. Today, I thought this is ridiculous, I need to spur myself on.

Hence the breakfast with a side order of TEDx. breakfast-waffles

It was the 2012 Olympics which reignited my ambition to become a writer. I am basically taking 4 years at a time as an over-arching period as a writer and allowing myself four Olympics to get to GOLD. I am hoping in the light of my writing life after 3 years that it won’t take the whole 16 years to achieve my ambition.

The Universe Steps In

You know how the universe conspires in putting exactly what you need at that given moment in front of you – well the talk suggested something about the Olympians which I vaguely remembered hearing before, indeed a quick search gave me the data and a BBC report on the medal response.

The concept is that Bronze medal winners feel better than Silver medal holders.

Gold is great – you won – on top of the world.

Bronze is – yippee I was placed, I have a medal, so close. 

Silver is – shucks I haven’t won.


Research has shown that silver medallists feel worse, on average, than bronze medallists. (Gold medallists, obviously, feel best of all.) The effect is written all over their faces, as psychologists led by Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University found out when they collected footage of the medallists at the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. Gilovich’s team looked at images of medal winners either at the end of events – that is, when they had just discovered their medal position – or as they collected their medals on the podium. They then asked volunteers who were ignorant of the athlete’s medal position to rate their facial expressions. Sure enough, the volunteers rated bronze medallists as consistently and significantly happier than silver medallists, both immediately after competing, and on the podium.

By Tom Stafford

Copyright © 2015 BBC

Read the full article here


Just with this in mind (because I was obviously aiming for Gold and actually feeling bad that I hadn’t even made Silver and the people on the podium weren’t even in the race when I started), my mind shifted. I realised I need to appreciate what I do have – and I have pages of it in The Write Year to look back on.

I am learning and I think that’s what it’s all about. The writing process takes an incredibly long and frustrating time is a new lesson. It is an important one. I have learnt how the polishing is important, how not to jump the gun (sending work out too early with ragged edges). I will train harder and seek support. Being a part of a team is much more comfortable than the solitude of your garret where you are out on a limb.

Of course, ‘I am Bronze’ – is in itself a winning mindset – my Olympic year falls next year and I will see how much ground I have covered and how 2016 pans out, I am hoping it ends with a medal around my neck. (Just maybe not silver!)


So my best advice for an attack of the writing doldrums – is claw yourself back out, make a list of all your highest achievements, stick it somewhere you will see it everyday and keep up the good fight. Today may not have been yours – but who’s to say what tomorrow holds? You get a new chance daily, send your darlings out and keep smiling!

One day victory will be yours! Cue manical laughter.


FLASH NANO – 1 week in


FLASH NANO has been going well, it makes a change for me to write prose and Nancy’s prompts have been inspiring, these tales would never exist without this challenge. I have started to think about how these prompts can be used, rather than just collecting stories that will just gather dust in my hard-drive.NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-Square


So here’s what has been happening since Day 2.

Day 3 Monologue.

I created a character who was fighting the setting in of age (we had to write a monologue), this flash had feet and I think I can rework it and use it in the future. The central character not only bears witness to something but suspects she knows the culprit.

Day 4 Fire.

I read an Australian traditional tale about a crocodile and reshaped it into something a little different. The crocodile needed help with his drilling of sticks to make fire and the clever lizard invents fire sticks. It takes a while before the crocodile can make a fire that stays alight and the animal who helps him is one he has never eaten to this day.

It was fun writing this tale and may work well as a story for children.

Day 5 A childhood toy.

I knew instantly which toy I was going to write about and parts of this Flash were based on a real-life experience. The ending took me by surprise (I love it when writing does that) and it works well as a story for a variety of markets.

Day 6 A 100 word story.

This is still to be written (see my TOP TIPS) but I have researched where I may be able to place a short flash and have decided to make it 150 words so I can potentially submit it.

Day 7 Writing about the seventh day, the day of rest.

I still need to tackle this. I haven’t thought about it yet.


I do not panic about falling behind because these challenges are under 1000 words and the average recommended daily allowance is 1667 words a day for the 50K challenge, which is not something I am trying to achieve this year. I have extended some of the original flashes into short stories and so far have written 8242 words.

So how is Nanowrimo going for you? Do share your updates with us. Here are some tips to keep you in the write frame of mind now that you are a week in.

TOP TIPSnano rabbit

  • Forgive yourself if you haven’t written daily, some days are busy. I haven’t managed to write daily, but I do check the prompts daily and scribble some rough outline notes. This means that when I get time to sit and catch up I am not trying to create the story from scratch.
  • Check prompts daily (even if you don’t write)
  • Make some notes of plot/ideas (for another time)
  • Sit down and make up the word count as soon as you possibly can. Even if you haven’t time to finish the whole piece.


  • Research – I use google to search keywords and generate ideas, or to make sure there is historical/ factual accuracy in my stories.
  • Purpose – Rather than just writing try to give your NANO writing purpose, research possible markets for submission, mark the best ideas and don’t forget to make note of any ideas that come out of the writing.

Good luck and keep writing!nano_15_mug_back_detail


PS today is the day for Double donations and a double writing challenge. Double up your word count, a great idea if you are doing Nanowrimo because all extra words under your belt count.

It is also the first official Nano write in for my regional group, I attended back in 2013 when doing Nano for the first time. Check out your regional groups, a write in is fun and motivating, not to mention sociable.



Halloween Poetry Brothel with Caged Arts


hallo4 This is the part of the year where I start to wind down the amount of performances and events I attend. I was hoping to go to Spoken Word at The Ort this evening (Fri 6th), but last night (5th Nov) we had a Bonfire and a few fireworks, although we saved some money on fireworks this year, they weren’t as spectacular as last year and the god-children couldn’t make it, so we are having a Guy Fawkes/Bonfire again Saturday night. I have just started back to work after a fortnight off too. Next week is a heavy schedule so I have started to listen to how I feel and if I am too tired to make a journey, there is a high probability that I won’t enjoy it as much as I should. Mr G and I ordered a take away instead, after I woke up from my two hour catnap! lanegan 009

On Saturday the 31st I was at the P Café, Stirchley to perform alongside 5 other chosen poets at a special Halloween event. p cafe brothel

Charley Barnes

Charley is a Worcestershire based poet who enjoys crime fiction, gender studies, and tea (but struggles to get all of these things into her poetry). She is a regular fixture at spoken word nights in the West Midlands and her work is renowned for its personal and soul touching nature.

Tom Crossland
Tom is a Birmingham based poet, and a regular fixture in many of Brum’s spoken word nights. He enjoys apiology, horology*, and physics. He even writes the occasional poem. Some of which he has even performed at the Roundhouse Slam final, and used to win the Pangaea Poetry Slam.
*These are subjects at Hogwarts**
** They’re not, they’re the study of time and bees. Think Dr. Who played by Alan Titchmarsh.

Tarik Ross Cameron
Tarik is a spoken word poet born and living in Birmingham. He has been performing since December 2014. He aims to take listeners on a journey through themes he cares about, whether with music-influenced rhyming, or reflective pieces in which he tells stories in more detail.

Luci Hammans
Luci does poetry. Sometimes. The other times she’s over analysing things and try hard not to crumple into anxiety but always she is wearin boots. Because boots are as close as she’s ever gonna get to stilts and stability.

Casey Bailey
Casey has performed at events like Birmingham REP’s Level UP and staple of the Birmingham calendar, Hit The Ode. His work fuses poetry and rap and blends personal pieces with social discussion. He was the first featured artist at the first ever Stirchley Speaks.

Nina Lewis
Nina is a published poet and freelance writer. On her writing she says that she is ‘in a more settled place, with patience and an understanding of ‘temporary setbacks’, this time I will not change path! I am just going to keep going.’

CAGED ARTS BALLOON Murdock Ramone © 2015

It was my first Poetry Brothel experience. The full immersive concept of these places – (popular in Europe) is that the poets take on a role/character too, we didn’t – we literally had masks in the form of Halloween fancy dress and masks. We also didn’t have 1 to 1 clients in private sections, instead we invited 3 – 5 participants at a time to come and find us in the decorated back room of the café, where they chose 3 poets to go and listen to for 15 minutes.

There have been poetry brothels around the world, from the USA to New Zealand via Columbia, and now the award winning movement is coming to Birmingham for the first time.

For one night only CAGED Arts presents The Poetry Brothel, a night of intimate poetry readings. On Halloween, as the veil between this world and the next begins to wane enter our gateway at The P Café. Enjoy your time in limbo with a variety of workshops and stalls, including lost soul making, caricatures and temporary tattoos fitting for such a spooky night. Peruse the menu for poets and book your own personal experience with them in the world beyond the veil.

Heidi Murphy (Caged Arts) CAGED ARTS HEIDI had spent the day working hard on decorating the venue. It looked amazing. The café has two main rooms and there were lots of activities happening in these areas including; CAGED ARTS HAIKU HUT Rory McGhie  Rory McGhie Haiku Hut, variety of workshops, stalls and poetry.


Photography by Murdock Ramone Media © 2015

The backroom (which has been allocated as a space for Guest Artists) was our brothel space which had been decorated with fairy lights, candles, pumpkins and the walls caged arts 2 had been painted with quotations sent in by the commissioned poets. caged arts 3 CAGED ARTS ROOM I was delighted when I discovered ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ – as my poem was written about the hotel from The Shining. CAGED ARTS JACK

CAGED ARTS CASEY 2 Casey Bailey – All photos by Murdock Ramone © 2015

Nina Lewis CAGED ARTS ME caged arts nina



CAGED ARTS TOM Tom Crossland

Charley Barnes caged arts 4

caged arts 1

Each poet chose a performance area and then we had groups of 3 to 5 people visit us. There were drinks on a table for them to help themselves too and each poet had tips glasses which the public could use if they wished.

The room was distractingly noisy to start and I was aware that my voice may have been soft for my audience to hear, once I was used to this I started to enjoy it. It was energy zapping, but also entertaining and highly fun and I was glad my application for this event had been successful.

Murdock Ramone took photographs of the evening.

Photos by Murdock Ramone Media Murdock Ramone © 2015


NaNoWriMo: Update on Flash NANO


nano_15_poster_image_0 This year I am working on writing projects already and know I haven’t time to write 50,000 words, so I was delighted when I discovered Nancy Stohlmn was posting daily prompts for 30 Flash Nano pieces, flash fiction being prose under 1000 words and a genre I have a better time with than short story writing.

As far as NaNo rules go this unplanned approach means I am a pantsher_badge– but being a panster when you’re not planning to reach 50,000 words is fine by me. Plus with Nancy’s prompts I am not a total panster, there is at least a daily starting point.


Day 1

Nancy’s first prompt was a hard write for me, it was based on a real-life story (not my own), maybe that was one of the reasons it was difficult, or maybe it was the challenge of setting a story in just one setting. There was no dialogue to move the story forward.

I managed a complete flash fiction of 969 words. One of the character’s talked about was called Nancy and I have only just realised the connection in writing this blogpost.


Day 2

This story was much easier to write, maybe because I sat down with a cup of coffee. nano_15_mug_back_detail

I did some micro research to manage the technical vocabulary I needed and this flash actually turned into a short story of 1414 words, which I am not going to worry about. In order to use the flash fiction stories in the future they may have to be extended into short stories.

I have also noted 3 fresh ideas that have spawned from writing the flashes.

nano 15

How’s it going for you? Let us know.

NANO: No Time for NaNoWriMo? Try FLASH NANO instead


I did NaNoWriMo in 2013, the year I started writing again, the year I started blogging. I completed the Spring and Summer Camps as well as the main event. 2013-Winner-Vertical-Banner

This year I thought about dipping my toes in again, but I am working on several poetry projects and know that I don’t have time to complete 50,000 words. Tonight I decided to spend some time browsing my reader as it has been 10 months since I looked at blogs out here. I discovered a post and a challenge that might match my schedule and give me more to work with in the future.1 nb

Nancy Stohlman is posting prompts for flash fiction, which I do have time for.

Imagination Rain.eps I headed over to and signed back in. I headed to the Pep Talk page which has a lot of good advice and encouragement for a positive mental attitude, which believe me all NaNo-ers need! See what Gene Luen Yang has to say here

I am unlikely to reach the 50,000 word count by writing incredibly short, short stories but I will hopefully end the month with 30 new pieces and if I can I might mix it up with some poetry too.

So let’s get started!

Good luck to everyone making NaNo part of their November.


October Review


OCTOBER 2015 Review – Another great and busy month. We held our 3rd annual writing retreat INKSPILL, I worked on new poetry and current projects and performed all over the place. I even had a week off from performing and writing, to plan and prepare INKSPILL. It was also a month of Festivals, Swindon and Birmingham and I headlined in Cheltenham too. I also worked on two commissioned performances, one for National Poetry Day and the other for this evening, a Halloween Poetry Brothel!


The month started in Swindon at Poetry Swindon Festival, tickets for which were only booked last minute a few weeks before.

It was a brilliant weekend, I performed as part of the 52 event, wrote new poetry in Jo Bell’s X-ray Spex workshop, met some great poets and writers and enjoyed performances from many poets including Kei Miller & David Clarke.

I also made it to Stirchley Speak, which, as always was a great night of poetry at the P Café, hosted  by Jess Davies.


Then it was NATIONAL POETRY DAY on the 8th October, which is like a massive party day for any poet! NPD LIVE This year I celebrated by taking part in Heather Wastie’s Light and Shade event at the carpet museum in Kidderminster.

light shade NPD

Suz Winspear and I were the touch of theatre, working on a commission from Heather to write poems about the carpet industry and incorporating Light and Shade into the proposed work. We then met with Heather and created our performance for the night – which took place in a narrow corridor, looking over the museum and the looms. An area that is not usually open to the public.

It was also Birmingham Literature Festival 8th – 17th October, I wasn’t able to get to as much as I wanted to this year, but what I managed was fantastic. BLFest  I felt blessed to see Rita Dove and it was great to see so many writing world friends too. I had tickets for other events on the last weekend of the festival, but a Writing group for WWM needed my assistance, so I missed those.

Short and Sweet: Short Fiction Salon

This was an event hosted by fiction writer and Heart Breakfast presenter Rachel New, Short & Sweet allows you to dip your toe into the water of live literature, and enjoy readings we select for you – including a story from Rachel herself written especially for this event.

Rachel New is a veteran of short fiction challenges – having survived two unusual residencies at Birmingham Literature Festivals past – Ten Day Sentence in 2013 and One Page Wonders in 2014. Both these experiences saw Rachel writing against the clock, responding to prompts from the wider festival audience and producing huge volumes of creative fiction. Rachel brings this expertise, as well as her ongoing PhD studies in creative writing, to the Short & Sweet arena for performances and discussion.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

Rita Dove and Guests

We are delighted to welcome Rita Dove, the former U.S. Poet Laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner, to give a rare poetry reading in the UK. A mesmerising performer, Rita Dove’s work covers a range of subjects, each of them addressed with wit and verve.

Her most recent poetry collections are Sonata Mulattica and American Smooth. She is editor of the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry and is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Among her honours are the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, making her the only poet to ever receive both medals.

As a prelude to Rita Dove’s reading, we present three short poetry performances. Jo Bell, Canal Laureate, will be reading from her eagerly awaited new collection, Kith. She will be joined by Birmingham Young Poet Laureate 2014-15, Serena Arthur and by Oliver Sullivan, a young performer from the region who was runner up in this year’s Poetry by Heart Competition. 

Sponsored by the University of Birmingham.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

On 10th October it was also Claire walker’s book launch for the much awaited poetry pamphlet THE GIRL WHO GREW INTO A CROCODILE. It was a lovely evening celebrating the poetry of my talented friend! I would recommend this pamphlet published by V Press, highly indeed.

claire w croc


Was filled with open mics, headlines, book festivals, talks and workshops.

Leon Priestnall and the The Blue Dive headlined Mouth & Music, on the 13th October. mmoct It was a great night and I enjoyed myself immensely. There were some fab open mic-ers and great musicians and it was good to catch up with folk I have not seen in a while.

mmoct leon mmoct blue dive mmoct me PHOTO CREDIT © Peter Williams 2015

The next evening I took a trip out to Cheltenham where I was headlining for Sharon Larkin at The Poetry Café Refreshed. It was a lovely event at the interesting American Diner venue of Smokey Joe’s. I was able to promote the Restless Bones Anthology. I enjoyed hearing poetry from other performers including; Roger Turner, David Clarke, Gill Garrett, Miki Byrne, Michael Newman, Michael Skaife d’Ingerthorpe, Angel Whitehorse & Sharon Larkin.

poetry cafe refreshed

This week also saw another festival. The Book to the Future Festival, UoB, University of Birmingham has always been scheduled for after the Birmingham Literature Festival, this year they over lapped. The following evening I performed at Phenomenal Women, in the Costa Café on site at Birmingham University. This event was organised by Jan Watts and was my 3rd year taking part and I think it was the best one yet. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

book to the future b2tf group b2tf jan

The region’s top female poets, including University of Birmingham alumna Jan Watts (Birmingham Poet Laureate 2011/12), Nina Lewis, Jackie Smallridge (Scrubber Jack) & Andrea Smith.

I went back to University and the Book to the Future Festival the next day (Friday 16th October) for a talk and a workshop.

Making a living from writing narinder

Narinder Dhami is best known for her books Bollywood Babes, Bend it Like Beckham and young adult reads such as Bang Bang You’re Dead.

It was a good talk that confirmed lots I knew already, I made copious notes and it sounds like I am on the right track. Always good to find this out.

Then I went to Jacqui Rowe’s workshop at the Barber Institute. I have wanted to take one of Jacqui’s workshops for over a year now, I was never available, until now. It was great and inspiring and has given me lots of poetry to work on.

Self and others – art and writing workshop

Inspired by the Barber Institute’s Terms of Engagement exhibition, showcasing portraits from the University of Birmingham collection, join Jacqui Rowe to explore how we write about character.

After this I went to a Stanza meeting, taking with me a poem I only had 30 minutes to write. It was a hectic week because I was also working my day job pretty much full time this week too.

On Saturday I had tickets for Birmingham Literature Festival, it was also the 2nd Session for WWM Young Writers. I had planned to manage the 30 mile trip after and it would have been a rush. I was asked to help assist the Junior group in the morning, so I had a whole day at The Hive Library. WWM PINK

thehiveworcsorg thehiveworcsorg

Our group has grown by a few as well, nearly in double figures which is great. I don’t think it was any wonder I needed a week off after this.


I didn’t quite have a week off – I took a week off performing and writing poetry. I was working the day job and preparing for INKSPILL.

It was our 3rd Annual Online Writing Retreat and it was a great success and worth every minute of hard work. Thanks to our Guests Writers; Playwright – David Calcutt, Author/ Romance Novelist – Alison May and Poet -Daniel Sluman.

The links are still active to the weekend workshop that happened on 24th/25th October and you can take part at any point, let us know you are doing so with a like or a comment.


Wednesday saw the first Halloween Spoken Word night at Drummonds 42 – where I was able to perform a freshly penned poem and another I had written a few hours before the event. Claire Walker also had a headline slot and it was great to hear her again. I love the pamphlet (I may have already mentioned this) but it is always superbly satisfying to hear a poet share their words in their own voice.

It was optional fancy dress, I used a spider theme. 42 42

Thursday I wrote some new poetry in a workshop and missed a launch of the Poetry Review Magazine as I was too tired to drive again after spending a couple of hours on the road already. This was a shame as one of the poets was Helen Mort, another Poet I am yet to meet and hear.

Last night I had a non-poetry belated birthday night outthink floyd
 with Mr G seeing a Pink Floyd tribute band.


TONIGHT I am taking part in the Poetry Brothel at the P Café, it is a SELL OUT.p cafe brothel
 There are 6 poets taking part – we applied earlier in the year, Poetry Brothels are big in Europe and despite my nerves I am looking forward to it. I will post in early November about tonight.



Jo Bell

Jacqui Rowe

Angela France

Narinder Dhami – Talk


Swindon Poetry Festival Performed at 52 Event

The Poetry Café Refreshed Headlined Cheltenham

Phenomenal Women – with Jan watts Book to the Future Festival

Poetry Brothel – Caged Arts P Café

NPD Light & Shade Commission – Performed with Suz Winspear


Stirchley Speaks

Mouth & Music




Book Launch The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile Claire Walker – V Press Pamphlet, performed.

Birmingham Literature Festival

Book to the Future Festival

WWM assistant writer cover & Lead Writer for Senior Group, Worcester.


INKSPILL – the 3rd FREE Online writing Retreat


Marvellous Book Launch – The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile By Claire Walker


On Saturday 10th October I was lucky enough to celebrate Claire Walker’s success at her Book Launch. I have always admired Claire’s poetry, it touches you deeply and makes you think, it lingers after you have read it and stays with you. Her new pamphlet The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile (great title) is available from V Press and if I were you, I would order a copy so you can read the poems over and over again.

“Claire Walker’s debut pamphlet The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile is a riveting meditation on motherhood and transformation that crackles with drama. There are moments of lyrical delicacy and oceanic longings, and Walker’s perceptual acuity pitches the reader into a world where nothing is taken at face value – a girl might be a crocodile, a mermaid could become captor, and seeds are studied for their mnemonic potential. This is a work to be savoured.” Carolyn Jess Cooke

“A confident and impressive debut by Claire Walker. The alluring qualities in this collection are the sense of mystique in many of her poems which at first glance appear elucidating. The stylistic fusion of narrative and illustrative poetry see-saws from the adult experience of life to a fabling account of the innocence and fragility of childhood and adolescence. Claire Walker is a writer who clearly cares about her craft and some of the dreamlike qualities of this collection are reminiscent of Joy Davidman’s work.” Antony Owen

claire w

It was a fabulous night of poetry and Claire reading from the collection. I have wanted to get my hands on this pamphlet since I saw the first photographs in the summer. It has been very hard not to buy one before the event.

I was delighted to be asked to read at the launch, it gave me a chance to choose a set of poems that I know Claire has enjoyed hearing before. me

The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, by Claire Walker, is published by V. Press. In addition to readings from the pamphlet, Claire will also be joined by guest poets Kevin Brooke, Kathy Gee, Jenny Hope, Neil Laurenson, John Lawrence, Nina Lewis and Ruth Stacey.

Claire Walker’s poetry has appeared in magazines, websites and anthologies including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears, Nutshells and Nuggets, And Other Poems, Snakeskin, Crystal Voices and three drops from a cauldron. She was runner up in the 2014/2015 Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition. The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile is her first pamphlet.

Kevin Brooke writes poetry and stories. His second book called ‘Jimmy Cricket’, and aimed at young adults, was published by Black Pear Press in 2014. He’s also had a number of short stories published in various anthologies and was amazed to have won the Erewash Writers’ national short story competition in 2014 with ‘Running Away’.

Kathy Gee lives in Worcestershire and mentors museum and heritage organisations. In 2011 she was an unexpected finalist for the Worcestershire Laureate and has since had some fifty poems published in online and print magazines including The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Ink, Sweat and Tears, ‘And Other Poems’, Antiphon, Acumen, and in three anthologies. She is a member of the Worcestershire stanza and regularly reads at spoken word events. Her first collection will be published in 2016.

Jenny Hope is a writer, poet, workshop facilitator, Woman with a Tree Thing. Her collection, Petrolhead was published in 2010 by Oversteps Books. She is currently working on her second collection. Her websites are and

Neil Laurenson has read at poetry events across the region, including the Wenlock Poetry Festival and the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Guaranteed lashings of puns and piles of wit.

John Lawrence is a sometimes writer, sometimes performer of his sometimes poetry, who always lives in Redditch. And always wants to write more than he sometimes does.

Nina Lewis has poetry published in a range of anthologies and magazines. Her poetry has appeared in an art installation and on the Wenlock Poetry trail. In 2014 she was commissioned to write and perform at Birmingham Literature Festival. She is currently working on her first collection.

Ruth Stacey’s debut poetry collection Queen, Jewel, Mistress was published by Eyewear, July 2015. Her pamphlet Fox Boy was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2014. Most recently her poems have appeared in the anthology Advice on Proposals by Like This Press, Brittle Star magazine, Abridged issues 0-29 and 0-34, and online at Ink, Sweat and Tears. She lives in Worcestershire.

croc Cover design Ruth Stacey

claire 1 jenny john kevin1

Kathy                                                     Jenny                                              John                                          Kevin

me 2 neil 1  ruth

Nina                                                         Neil                                           Ruth



Photographs – credit Richard Hodgetts