Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room -July 7th

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Nadia Kingsley & Keith Chandler at The Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin, Ludlow – 7th July

Still catching up with blog posts for events in time past – so a couple of weeks ago (7th July) I went to Ludlow to see Nadia Kingsley and Keith Chandler headline at The Poetry Lounge – with Jean Atkin, in the new home – still in the Sitting Room – it was quite funny imagining the venue with legs trundling across town.

poetry lounge july

A lovely new venue it is too and as we have the upstairs room we have less ambient noise to contend with than before. The Blue Boar was fairly easy to find, central and is a lovely pub.

blue boar© 2015 Shropshire Star

Nadia Kingsley was headlining back in January and sadly wasn’t well enough back then. She was on top form on Tuesday night though. I was invited to headline in her place, back in January (my first headline slot) with Bert Flitcroft, so I was doubly glad I managed to catch Nadia’s performance.

It was also great to discover Keith Chandler, I am almost certain I have come across him on this Poetry Odyssey at some point. I bought his pamphlet, ‘The Grandpa Years’, published by Fair Acre, a gorgeous little publication that Nadia said reminded her of the sort of pocket size books some granddad’s carry around with them. I had a brief conversation about Poetry with Keith and I was grateful because there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to him.

Bootie july I bought the latest copy of Robert Harper’s brilliant magazine BARE FICTION too.

It was a great night! Shropshire oozes talent and I hadn’t been able to get back up to see people for so long that on a social level alone it was a phenomenal night and the following evening Jean and I were both going to Ledbury Poetry Festival too. I always get that ‘Christmas Eve’ feeling when there are back to back events with the same poetry friends, almost like the pre- sleep-over excitement of a child. Guess I am still a child!

Here’s what Jean Atkin said about the Guest Poets;

We’re so pleased that Nadia Kingsley will be reading for us as a Guest Poet. Nadia has performed at Wenlock Poetry Festival in 2011, 2012, and 2014 – and is published in the anthologies of each of these years. Her poetry has been published in Orbis magazine, Poetry Cornwall, the environmental anthology We’re all in this together (Offa’s Press), and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She managed and wrote poems for the fabulous show ‘Expanding the Universe’ which has been touring the West Midlands this spring.

She’s won prizes for her flash fiction and short stories and her photography, textile art and brick sculpture have been exhibited in the Cotswolds, Birmingham, Brighton and London.

Nadia also runs the very successful Fair Acre Press.

© 2015 Jean Atkin

Nadia is a gem of the poetry world and I always enjoy hearing and reading her work. This set took us through the seasons and plants which play an important role at throughout the year. Segments from a bigger artistic collaboration she has been working on.

Our other Guest Poet for July will be Keith Chandler, who has many awards, accolades and publications to his name, not least being 4th in the National Poetry Competition a couple of years ago. His most recent book is the very well received ‘The Grandpa Years’ from Fair Acre Press. Keith is a very modest poet, so if you haven’t heard him, you’re really in for a treat. It’s fine work, brimming with humanity. And then there is that bone-dry, self-deprecating humour.

© 2015 Jean Atkin

It was a wonderful reading and there was not a person in the room really who couldn’t associate with the resonating emotion and family connections he explored in his pamphlet.

As always there was also abundant talent from the open mic slots shared by;

 graham rob

Graham Attenborough

Adrian Perks adrian rob

Gaia-Rose Harper Gaia-Rose Harper

Nina Lewis (me)me rob 

We managed to convince Jean Atkin to share one with us too.

jean robJean Atkin

Steve Harrisonsteve h rob

rob1

Photography © 2015 Robert Harper

Steve Griffithsjean steve G

jean  Miriam Crane Obrey

Miriam Crane Obrey

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

Robert Harper Robert adrian

Photography © 2015 Adrian Perks

 plus a short slot for Helen Barratt, read by John Barratt,

jean audience keith rob

Keith Chandler Photography © 2015 Robert Harper Nadia Adrian Perks

Nadia Kingsley Photography © 2015 Adrian Perksnadia robert

Photography © 2015 Robert Harper

jean keith

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

jean Nadia

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

jean PL

A superb evening – and of course now I have time to look forward to the next one – where I will (once again) be seeing John Hegley – who I believe has transformed into some sort of bus – having not seen him for 18 years and then 3 times in 4 months!

Birmingham’s Growing Poetry & Rhyme With Reason

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GROWING POETRY SCENE IN AN ALREADY VIBRANT CITY

In the past quarter there has been an influx of new talent in the city, young, talented and ambitious poets have taken a bite of the poetry scene, chewed it and decided they can also provide a delicious event for the rest of the city to chow down on… and they are not frightened to get everyone involved either, driven by spirit and desire over three new events have practically popped up overnight (of course, this isn’t true, beneath the tip of the iceberg (success) lies all the hard work and decision making)!

This post started out as a review of the Launch of Rhyme With Reason – Nicole Murphy’s new night of Spoken Word, in composing the opening paragraph I realised how much new poetry (events and performers) have sprung up in 2015 and how many of us get the opportunity to share with a new audience because of it.

So in case you are not from this wonderful middleland let me share with you the new gems and masters!

HOWL – Leon Priestnall – The Sun at The Station – Kingsheath

I met Leon in 2014 at Word Up, where he came and supported the acts and shared waffles and drinks with the poets. I remember talking to him about writing the first and second times our paths crossed. For a while he was a poet who didn’t perform (at least not at the events I saw him attend) and he was even existing without social media because I remember one of his first poetry videos doing the rounds in an experiment of exposure over social networking.

Anyway long story short he is a fine performance poet who has filled many Guest Spots this year all over the city and has also started his very own eclectically brilliant, beat inspired, spoken word night. The Sun at The Station first made it onto my radar with there UNPLUGGED nights every Sunday and although I saw lots of the Birmingham poets performing I thought it was primarily a music event and I am never sure how well my poetry stands on those stages, I have in the past – but I feel this time my writing has changed.

It wasn’t long before Leon had the venue pegged and created his own night HOWL Feat – which (due to other commitments) I wasn’t able to make in the early days. I have made it to two events, both superb and am Headlining along with others in August.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/3-in-a-row-mouth-music-howl-speakeasy-a-week-of-events/

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysVRsytlFpo

Leon Priestnall is a poet, writer and performer based in the West Midlands. Leon’s work battles back and forth between the personal and the observational, the angsty and the humorous but is always accessible. Leon has performed at various venues around the Midlands ranging from music events to burlesque. He was a runner up in the 2007 Spiel Unlimited Solihull Poetry Slam and has released two spoken word EPs in collaboration with musician Dan Hartland. He now runs spoken word night Howl at the Sun at the Station, Kings Heath.

STIRCHLEY SPEAKS – Jess Davies at the P Café, Stirchley.

SS Jess Davies

©Murdock Ramone Media

Jess Davies, who I first met through the 52 Project 2014 kicked new life off by discovering a pocket of Birmingham starved of words and brought Stirchley Speaks to the P Café. I was delighted to be at the launch night in May, missed June as I was away on holiday and am performing there in August.

http://www.pcafe.co.uk/poetry/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/poetry-wrap-5-a-brief-introduction-on-exhaustion/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCePHIIkNtY

http://jessmaydavies.tumblr.com/

Jess Davies is a Midlands based artist who dabbles in both the contemporary arts Scene and the Poetry scene. She was recently commissioned to write a poem for the museums at night tour at the local pen museum. Her writing is personal, heart wrenching, observational, heart wrenching, surreal and humorous. She currently runs Stirchley Speaks at the P Cafe in Stirchley.

LOUD MOUTH – Frankie Ryan, The Bond Co. Digbeth

SS Ryan

Frankie Ryan (a.k.a Ryan Murray)

©Murdock Ramone Media

I was on holiday and missed the launch of this event, I have heard good things and it is one for the future diary!

Loud Mouth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfHbUmoPYic
Frankie Ryan is a poet, photographer and spoken word artist. He has performed regularly around the Birmingham scene. His first published piece ‘freedom lament’ launched the Birmingham book club section in Nubi Magazine back in may. July 3rd will see the launch of his own spoken word night ‘loud mouth’ and his first poetry collection ‘beyond your line of sight’ will be available later this year.

RHYME WITH REASON – Nicole Murphy, Alfie Birds, Digbeth

Nicole Murphy’s new night was my initial reason for this post, the launch night was phenomenally well attended and the performers came from as far as Bristol, the audience was a great mix – so many new faces to us all, which is what we hope with poetry events really – that Spoken Word filters out and gets reborn. It certainly did on Monday 6th July!

rhyme with reason It was a fantastic night including free cake and raffle tickets (for a Waterstones gift card), great performers and a brilliant venue. It was the start of a busy run of events for me and it was a great start, I left pumped full of adrenaline and was pleased to have met and watched Hannah Teasdale in action, as she headlined Word Up the same night I was performing for the first time in London – I am back there this summer, at the Poetry Café no less!

RWR started on the back foot, I had a particularly tiring day at work, arrived flustered and late in the city, had to park further away than I wanted to – but within minutes of the night kicking off I was there, back in my body and mind and enjoying life. A great first night!

Pangaea

Pangaea

Nicole Murphy

Up and coming poet from Walsall. Her poetry combines humour and powerful emotion. She has been a regular on the Birmingham scene for a while now but has recently started her own night ‘Rhyme with Reason’.

http://livebrum.co.uk/the-oobleck/2015/07/06/rhyme-with-reason

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/event/rhyme-with-reason/

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

I have been lucky enough to have seen ALL these wonderful fresh blood poets perform around the city and I have tried to make it to the opening night to support them. I missed one launch (sorry Frankie Ryan) as I was on holiday. I hope to make it to more of these events n the future!

Creative Poets on fire!

The Magnetic Diaries Poetry Play – Including Micro-interview with Author

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The Courtyard Theatre – 4th July

I first heard of the Write On Festival when I studied Writing for Theatre with Alan Harris at The Courtyard Theatre Spring 2013. This year Sarah James made an application with her poetry collection ‘The Magnetic Diaries’ mag diary sarah and what happened next was a sequence of events which created a wonderful piece of theatre.

I know theatre, it is what I trained in and worked in until I pulled back my ego and found out writing was something I enjoyed better than the lights and action in front of the camera and there is no doubt about it this was theatre.

Sarah made the decision to use a professional actress Vey Straker and Director, Tiffany Hosking.

The set was  a multi-use masterpiece and the SFX (Special Effects/Lighting) was used to change the whole focus and feel of the piece throughout. Very clever elements of physical theatre sprinkled throughout the performance kept up the belief of place.

I am certain it was a golden egg for The Courtyard and the Write On Festival. We knew we were watching something special. I always like to read the book before there is a film adaptation, so I was thoroughly delighted that I had managed to do so and was looking forward to making sense through theatre, excited at how it would be approached.

Sarah’s face as it was about to start looked like pure nerves, she didn’t need to be nervous of course, but that’s theatre for you!

What was to unfold on the stage had the entire audience captivated. With a foundation of a strong, emotive tale and the unusual concept of a poetry manuscript, combined in a heart wrenching piece of theatre. One that I believe (from suffering depression) could actually help promote mental health, it is possible that people may be able to learn what it is like for the sufferer. I certainly did, that didn’t surprise me… the book moved me and I have been dancing with the Black Dog since before 2011. Other people in the audience had not come with the same insight to the illness and were still affected by the performance. A strong piece. So how did it all come together?

Micro-interview with Sarah James

The-Magnetic-Diaries-full-cover

  1. What were your initial thoughts behind sending a poetry entry to the Write On Festival?

I was simultaneously thinking it’s unlikely they will take something so different while absolutely believing it could be something amazingly different and intense to put on stage. I was delighted, yet almost couldn’t quite believe it, when they accepted it!

  1. At what point was the decision made to use an actress and director?
    As with so many arts project, funding was the biggest block to not using an actress and director – because there was no money except the potential of the box-office split. The script I initially submitted was very much based on the notion of an enhanced poetry-reading, a poetry-show if you like, in which I would therefore play the main character, Emma. This meant the amount of acting possible was limited; I was using a lot of props and some stagey movements with elements of physical theatre. This was what was accepted in January and I tentatively started rehearsing the lines.

Meanwhile in February, the festival organiser had put me in touch with actress Vey Straker who played Emma. Through Vey, Tiffany Hosking from Reaction Theatre Makers agreed to take on directing. I think it was around May when it firmly became a poetry-play with actress and director. Throughout this period, I did quite a bit of rewriting and there was some re-ordering to make it more of a poetry-play, to fit with Vey’s excellent portrayal of Emma’s character, the greater scope Vey’s taking on the role allowed and how Tiff envisaged it working best on stage.

  1. What was the most challenging part of this project?

Probably the ‘producer’ aspects and having to juggle those jobs alongside the creative aspects. I love the creative side, the re-writing, the seeing it through Vey and Tiff’s eyes was fantastic. But in effect, I was also producer as the contract with The Courtyard was in my name. So that was dealing with things like the financial constraints, the marketing, liaising with the theatre. Also the whole finding the line between being involved with the play as writer but not trespassing too far into the director’s realm, which I think is harder if the writer is also part-producer. I was very lucky to be working with an experienced director and actress, so that this was much easier than it might otherwise have been.

But, as we’d still like to tour with The Magnetic Diaries, it could be that I’ve not yet reached the most challenging part of the project!

4) How long did the whole project take?

Well, the original poetry collection that the production is based on was mostly written in the second half of 2013 into the first half of 2014, when I submitted it to my publisher Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. Towards the latter end of this period, I had the idea of also doing a poetry-show version, potentially for poetry festivals and did some recordings in advance with my publisher Alec Newman. But I didn’t start work on the actual script until the latter half of 2014, in case any of the collection poems were omitted or drastically edited. In my head, I already knew how I wanted to link the poems and which poems from the collection I wanted to use, so I created the script as soon as the collection contents was fixed. Then I submitted it to the Write On Festival over the Christmas period 2014-2015.

med sarah james

Thanks for taking time to be interviewed and I really hope you secure funding to tour this work, which would work at Poetry Festivals but could stand as a piece of theatre too.

 EXTRA BITS

From the theatre website and Sarah’s blog.

Summary

A narrative of love, lust, betrayal and depression, The Magnetic Diaries re-envisages the characters and storyline of Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece Madame Bovary in a modern twenty-first century English, poetry setting. The contemporary heroine, Emma Bailey, battles with romantic idealism, illusions about love, a stifling middle-class lifestyle, boredom and depression.

Moving lyrical fragments and crafted poems reconstructed by fictional researchers from Emma’s diary and treatment notes are set alongside the voices of her doctors and emails from her husband Carl. But will modern medicine save Emma and her marriage in the wake of two affairs?

Written by Sarah James

 © 2015 The Courtyard – Herefordshire’s Centre for the Arts | Reg. Charity No 1067869

http://www.courtyard.org.uk/events/the-magnetic-diaries-write-on-festival/

Oh, what a night…last night’s performance of my poetry-play at The Courtyard in Hereford was one of those memorable nights. Actress Vey Straker was amazing as Emma, and with Tiffany Hosking from Reaction Thaetre Makers as director, they really brought The Magnetic Diariesto life on stage. It was a truly exciting evening,enjoying the production, listening to people’s comments and feeling the buzz afterwards.

© 2015 Sarah James

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=6306

A Quick Update

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Since getting back from my holiday it has been a whirlwind of poetry events and work, today I have time to finally make some submissions, in the meantime here is the list that I hope to blog. Some have links for you to check out about the events I have attended or been part of. More to come when I have unchained myself from the offline folder!

Theatre – Poetry Play – The Magnetic Diaries Courtyard Theatre Hereford, 4th July

READ IT HERE: https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/the-magnetic-diaries-poetry-play-including-micro-interview-with-author/

Rhyme with Reason Nicole Murphy at Alfie Birds, Birmingham – 6th July

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/birminghams-growing-poetry-rhyme-with-reason/

Nadia Kingsley & Keith Chandler at The Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin, Ludlow – 7th July

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/poetry-lounge-in-the-sitting-room-july-7th/

also blogging about Ledbury Poetry Festival, Quiet Compere Stop 6 Worcester, missing Stratford 52 meet, Ten Letters, Writing the Tools Workshop, Mouth & Music and the Pangaea Poetry Slam.

More to come later.

INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

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INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

I am delighted to share this interview with Sarah Dixon, The Quiet Compere. Ever since I caught the Birmingham leg of the tour last year I have wanted to post an interview with her on the blog – and wishes DO come true, you have known that since my first jump, right?

I asked her all about  The QC – her Arts Council funded project, now in its 2nd year with a possible 3rd year ahead.

It is an inspiring interview and I always feel we can all learn a lot from people who are already out there doing it (Art/ Creativity/ Poetry) – so here is the gold-dust!

ENJOY!

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The Quiet Compere National Tour 2015 – Stop 6

@ The Hive, Worcester

Featuring: The Quiet Compere, Mike Alma, Catherine Crosswell, Myfanwy Fox, Hayley Frances, Jasmine Gardosi, Neil Laurenson, Nina Lewis, Adrian Mealing, Carl Sealeaf, Claire Walker

TICKETS FOR THE WORCESTER TOUR (FRI 10th July) ARE NEARLY ALL SOLD OUT -£5 Book here;

https://www.ents24.com/worcester-events/the-hive/the-quiet-compere-national-tour-2015-stop-6/4324372

Or you can book directly with the venue;

https://e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk/LibraryEvents/EventDetails.aspx?id=75

Fri 10th July at 7:00pm

thehiveworcsorg© 2014 thehiveworcsorg

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QC tour

1) How did you come up with the Quiet Compere (TQC) concept?
My local night in Manchester started life as Lead Poets (in 2008) started off as a night where whoever turned up did a spot if they wanted. Slowly a regular audience developed and numbers were usually between 30 and 40. At this point I limited the number of readers to ten and adopted a 10 poets x 10 mins format (I have since been informed that there was a night called Take Ten in Newcastle about the same time – I was not aware of this at the time).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
2) How did you approach/research grants from the Arts Council?
I thought the format and the chance to invest in poets in so many regions would appeal, but that it would also need enough planning in advance for any funding body to invest in it. I had a small track record of running events around Manchester, at local festivals and in Cheltenham and Leeds. Having no funding track record it was difficult to obtain match funding from councils and other bodies. I booked all the venues and half the poets before I pressed the SUBMIT button on the bid. This took around 35-40 hours and any work carried out before acceptance on the bid cannot be deemed payable.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
3) How long was the process, what was the toughest/ easiest part?
35 hours advance planning. Submit button. Then the wait – six weeks for a decision. The hardest bit is the waiting. Easiest bit: Deciding to put together a bid.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
4) How long have you been creating the QC tours?
This is the second year. Last years was a tour of the North, though weirdly Birmingham sneaked in (as it feels close – I never realise how south of the north Manchester is :) The National tour is happening in 2015 and the Worcester event on 10th July will be the half-way point of this tour.
QC
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
5) What aspects of QC Tours do you find most rewarding?
Smooth-running events and I find if you keep venues and performers fully-informed and have the right people and venue the event should feel like it runs itself (but this is because of all the background admin work beforehand).
Bringing together poets from different groups who may not have met/or heard each other perform before. I make a concerted effort NOT to pick the same ten people who perform alongside each other at every local night in the area. I want to find the open miccers who are brilliant but haven’t had a chance to prove this in a ten minute spot, the members of groups who are the ones overlooked and a good dose of regulars on the scene. I attempt to mix performance and page (but this sometimes depends on the poetry dynamic in the area – in Cumbria performance poetry seems to be less of a thing, whereas in Manchester a high number of poets seem to straddle the line between page and performance and their is an audience for both poetry styles).

Bringing people back together. I have overheard conversations that start “I haven’t seen you for years, loved hearing your new stuff…” hoping this might rebuild some poetry bonds and new friendships and connections might be forged and old ones rekindled. This adds a bit of romance to the tour :)

Low advance sales are nerve-wracking, but after the Blackpool event I panic less about this. We had sold 1 until the day before, then 5. We sold out a 50 seater venue on the night. The buzz of that relief and the elation that there was a full-house.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
6) How were/ are poets selected?
The tour was in the North of England last year. I find a high number of poets in the North, especially the North West happily travel 1-2 hours to see a line-up they are excited by or to support quality nights. This meant I already knew a vast number of poets in the areas I was going to. I asked my contacts in the areas to recommend poets in the area, with a mix of age ranges, styles and themes in mind. I also searched ‘York – Poets’ online and checked out videos and links to poems by poets from the areas. Having been a part of the poetry scene for thirteen years I have built many contacts I know I can trust. Social Media plays a big part in promoting the tour and keeping everyone updated. I book poets who are not on social media, but it is more difficult to find ways to contact them, so is likely that I have been given an email address by someone I do know (in reality or virtually).
Since I have been planning the 2015 tour I have been part of a number of online communities (where I can get a feel for a poets style over several weeks or months of poems). I am thinking mainly of Jo Bell’s 52 poetry sharing and critique group (which numbered 650) and last year the tour included 30 or so poets from this group, all booked before the group existed. This year around half of the poets booked are from this group. Having access to several examples of the material of the poets makes it easier for me to balance themes, styles and other factors across each event. Also through workshops I have attended at Sheffield Poetry Business Writing Days, two Arvon weeks and Manchester Cathedral Poetry Business days among others.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
7) What are the future plans for QC?

I am presently pulling threads together in an attempt to get a bid in for next year – the final and third Quiet Compere tour – 2016 – the places she missed.

Possibly to set up a quarterly Manchester poetry writing day as I feel there is a demand for this.

For Sarah L Dixon: Getting a pamphlet published and recognition in reputable and/or popular poetry magazines.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
8) What has been challenging/ spectacular about expanding QC beyond Northern regions?
Challenging;
Less knowledge about the area and the audience and the poets/performers and local press outlets.
I have solved this in some cases by teaming up with a local co-host or performer who already knows the area and venues and can suggest some places to search for poets online from the area. 
Spectacular;

The sells-out gigs. The more unusual venues this year – The Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham, The Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford. The venues provide a different backdrop and a more intimate and cosy feel to them than a pub room or a featurelss arts centre space. The venue in Ulverston a week ago had striking curtains. I enjoy anything that links the photos to a place rather than the ‘could be anywhere’ feel.

The chance to meet and bring together some people I feel I know/know each other well from virtual groups and share each others pieces and time
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
9) Why 10 poets?

Why 10 minutes? I found the leap between 2-4 minute open mic to full 15-30 minute guest spots was massive and the longer slots terrified me. At open mic nights I often wanted to hear more pieces by each poet (and found that as I was settling into someone’s style the night shifted and another poet took to the stage. My local night now has 3 guest spots and 5 support poet spots (6 mins each). I changed the format because I wanted to be able to charge a door fee and pay guests with a drink and a 6 minute spot for one guest if they want. None of the performers pay an entrance fee.

Why 10 poets? I think the attention span of a poetry audience starts to wane around two hours in (with a short break) and 10 x 10 had a ring to it.

QC
10) How has facilitating tours developed/supported your own life as a performing poet?
It has meant I have been offered guest spots I may not otherwise have been offered – because I am more visible. 
I have learnt a lot about Press releases, interviews and how to use Twitter.
I have learnt the value of a colour-coded spreadsheet can also be applied to poetry tours – not romantic, but true. Running the tour has meant I have had more time to write, submit, polish and run workshops and attend workshops as I can carry out the tour admin in my own time.

I have been able to do school drop off and pick ups of my son, Frank, 4. This means we often get 7 hours together each day and a high number of my poems are not about him, but from a phrase he says or a way he views the world that I might have missed had I been working and commuting and not had the opportunity to be with hi, so much :)

I have become strict with myself about time-keeping and not spending too much time woffling on Facebook. 

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
11) Can you tell us a little about the rest of the tour this year?
  • Worcester 10th Julynext Friday – Almost on us. Advance ticket sales going well.
  • Hull 4th Sept and Exeter 12th Sept are both at the point of sending flyer details to designer and printer.
  • Camden, Hackney and Norwich – I will be confirming the poets for these events in the next 6 weeks.
  • Cheltenham is the final gig of this year and is the night before the stunning Medicine Unboxed Conference curated by Samiir Guglani. This year’s theme is Mortality. QC HIVE
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
12) Being away from home is….?
…refreshing, different and exciting, 
    Being away from home is… lonely, strange and scary.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
13) Where do you stay on tour?
Last year I felt cheeky asking acquaintances for somewhere to stay, but after a few nights sharing the poetry buzz with a mini bottle of Sainsburys Prosecco (£3 for 20cl), the cast of Eastenders and a cheap B and B room I decided to be cheeky and ask poets if they would be willing to put me up and sharing poetry buzz is lovely, though still for half the dates on the tour this year I feel I don’t know people well enough in area to ask for a room/floor/bed.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
14) What advice would you give to poets who yearn to complete a project?
a) Plan a lot in advance of appoaching any funding body. Prove that you will run the project efficiently and have thought it through (I did at least 35 hours on each bid before submitting).
b) Approach local councils for match-funding. possibly easier after first project when you have a track record.
c) Detail is important. Keeping poets/venues/funding bodies informed at all times.
d) Thank the people who are part of your project as cohosts, venue teams, performers, poets who help promote and thank them personally not in an impersonal message. Let them know you listen and take notes so you can thank them with a few lines of poetry you enjoyed or a particular touch that made the venue unique and memorable.
e) Detail is key to building reputation and brand.
quiet compere 2015 T
15) What are the biggest lessons you have learnt?
a) Don’t cut corners – I am sometimes tempted not to thank poets individually. Thanking ten poets takes between an hour and half and two hours to do this they way I do it. I could cut corners and send a generic message, but it is not my style and detracts from the everyone being treated equally and valued ethos of the tour.
b) I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of press releases and interviews to the get the tour info out there.
c) I find typing up the blogs boring, but necessary.
d) You can’t thank people too much. Thank them on the night. Follow this up with email or message.
e) Remind poets to stick to time at the point you send running order out (7-10 days before).
f)  PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
16) Is the 2015 tour different to the 2014 tour? How? Why?
I suppose, because some of the dates are further afield. In tour of the North I had often met at least half of the line-up, if not more. I know a lot of poets virtually, some through 52, but not their performance style. I have found that now people have heard of The Quiet Compere and it has become a bit of brand I find people approach me to get on board (often at the point when I have already confirmed the line-up and sent flyers to print).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
17) Who do you read – which poets do you admire/ read?
Magical realists – and this is relevant to my poetry. It is where the weird and dark sneak in and unsettle both me and the audience. Magnus Mills, Tom Holt, Jasper Fforde.

I am presently reading books on an 18th century cholera epidemic and The Black Death and epidemiology and real life murder books fascinate me. Yes, the weird and the dark again.

Poets: My favourite performers at the moment are Clare Shaw (I love her delivery style, her themes and the words she chooses) and Rose Condo (who I saw win a Manchester Poetry Slam final in 2014 by taking us with her into a story and weaving words around us rather than firing them at us – this was my first slam (as audience member) and I didn’t know what to expect).  The list changes every week. I discovered Brian Patten in the last year and love his stuff.

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
18) How did you get into writing poetry?
I wrote as a teenager to make sense of the world. Then thought I had the world figured out. After six years of working full-time and studying for an OU degree part-time in Social Science and Economics I returned to poetry via an NHS-subsidised Arts and Health Creative Writing Course for Staff run by Phlip Davenport in 2002.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
19) What do you miss the most when your touring schedule is over?
I miss the structure and the fact that I am always in three different stages for three different events.

At present I need to thank four more poets from last week’s Ulverston gig and I put the piece of paper with notes of their lines down when distracted by a thunderstorm last week. One of my jobs this week is to find this and thank these poets.

I am in the middle of a last promotion push for Worcester in 5 days time and going to send out the running order either tonight or tomorrow.

I am trying to confirm a last couple of poets for Exeter and Hull and getting the flyers to printer hopefully in time to take them to a 52 poetry picnic on Saturday 11th July, as a lot of the Exeter crew will be there. :)

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
20) If you weren’t the Quiet Compere, who would you be?
If I wasn’t Quiet Compere would still be Frank’s Mum, zumba enthusiast (not necessarily good or rhythmical ;)). I told Frank my super power would be not being clumsy – had a clatter on Thursday on cobbles – classic scuffed knees and elbows.  Frank said I can’t have that power as then he would be clumsy all by himself. 
© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

MANY THANKS TO YOU Sarah for taking the time for this interview, I cannot wait to see you and the other 9 QC poets on Friday and GOOD LUCK with the rest of the tour!

COMING SOON – Quiet Compere Interview with Sarah Dixon

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QCSarah Dixon has been touring with this concept for two years now. I was lucky enough to be in the audience of the 2014 Tour at the MAC, Birmingham March 21st.

The Quiet Compere (21/3/14)

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Later in 2014 I was booked onto the current 2015 tour, the Worcester stop. This is the longest I have had to wait for an event and the excitement of it being this week, cannot be described! Not even by a writer!

 

 

 

 

When I saw the HIVE brochure last month it brought it all home, literally!

QC HIVE

After the 2014 Tour I wanted to interview Sarah,  with us both being involved in many projects  it has taken a while for this interview to exist.

I am looking forward to sharing this insightful interview with you all. CHECK BACK LATER – and all will be revealed!

QC QC tour

Life of Poeting

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The beginning of July is a heavy touring schedule which I am delighting in after a week off!

eastbourne

I went on holiday at the end of June and missed several events, I had (I thought) found an open mic night in a pub around the corner from the hotel. After several emails I discovered the internet was wrong! Shock! Horror!

I had a great break by the sea (as prescribed by The Emergency Poet), had a break from technology too, apart from emails organising the Courtyard trip.

I needed that break because the beginning of July is a 10 day run, 10 events, 1 day off, 2 Poetry Festivals, 5 performances;

4th Hereford – Courtyard Theatre to watch The Magnetic Diaries Poetry Play

6th Birmingham – Alfie Birds – Launch night Rhyme with Reason

7th Ludlow – Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room

8th Ledbury – Poetry Festival

9th Worcester – SpeakEasy – this may have to be missed due to energy levels

10th Worcester – The Quiet Compere Tour (booked 15 months ago)

11th Stratford-Upon-Avon – Poetry Festival: 52 meet/picnic & performance at Shakespeare’s Birthplace

then a mini break in which to write, breathe & teach

13th Birmingham – Ten Letters, MAC – if I can make it

14th Walsall – postponed (from today) workshop Caldmore Gardens

14th Kidderminster – Mouth & Music

 

I will blog when I can about these events, many of which deserve an individual post.

Have a great week,

Keep Writing x

 

June – Review of the Month

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June – what a busy month,  brimming with challenges, competition, festivals and longer term projects, as well as taking stock half way through the year.

My MOOC course How Writers Write Poetry with the University of Iowa finished and I enjoyed an incredibly busy month of performing, writing and getting published. The sparkly, golden bits most people get to see instead of being aware of all the hard work and ground work that caused the success in the first place! CN-1780-logo-uofiowa

WEEK 1

  • Voting closed for Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate poems. I reached the final along with 5 other talented poets.
  • I did a workshop with David Calcutt and the Caldmore Garden Poets, they were scheduled to perform a group poem at the carnival day on the 13th, which I couldn’t attend as I was working the final Writing Group for Writing West Midlands. Due to the weather this performance has been rescheduled and I can now take part on the 21st July!
  • A recent poem of mine from the workshop where e.e. cummings was our starting point – ‘Late Spring’ has been published on David’s blog you can read other poems there too. http://naturalhistoriesblog.com/others-writing/
  • My term ‘poeting’ coined last year is becoming widely used by many poets! Hoping to get it into OED next year!
  • Jess Davies had her opening night of a new spoken word event in Stirchley at the P Café, it was packed and well attended. Stirchley Speaks – and it certainly did!
  • Scary Canary hosted another Permission to Speak, Rob Francis’s fantastic night – NOW FREE!! This month saw Brenda Read-Brown and PTR Williams headline.
  • I went to Debbie Aldous’s Spoken Word at The Ort and shared a lovely meal and some Tennis with Tessa Lowe beforehand.
  • I spent a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon at Cannon Hill Park, The Mac (Birmingham) with a collective of poets – we took over the storytelling tent whilst they all went for lunch and performed to some greatly enthusiastic children. We are also hoping to get some of our poems hung on trees down by the lake, later this year. We had a special guided tour to this secret location. MAC With Frankie Ryan, Tony Fox, Syrac Citam, Timothy Scotson, Callum Bate and Nina Lewis at Cannon Hill Park.

© Jasmine Gardosi 2015

All of these events can be read in further detail in my Poetry Wrap post. Enjoy!

Poetry Wrap 5 (A Brief Introduction on Exhaustion)

 

WEEK 2

  • The 2nd week of June saw a performance at HOWL and a great packed night of poetry, hosted by Leon Priestnall. Fantastic headliners and I met two poets who I have only seen around and never spoken to before, Luci Hammans and Sipho Eric Dubepart, A.K.A ‘Unhindered Reign’ – one of three headliners, the others being Glyn Phillips and Jess Davies. I met with Sipho a week later at workshop with Candy Royalle.

I spent most of this week on tender hooks and full of nerves and butterflies as it was the WPL final and the Launch of this year’s Worcester Lit Fest. I spent most of the week preparing for it and missed some previous diary entries for open mics due to energy levels, it was a full on week of work, work for me too.

  • Friday 12th June was the Poet Laureate Finals, the winner this year was Heather Wastie.

WLF Heather WPL

Heather receiving her engraved award with Maggie Doyle at Worcester’s SpeakEasy Lit Fest Special.

© WLF Team 2015

Suz Winspear was the runner up and I came in 3rd position.  WPL

© Betti Moretti 2015

Read all about the experience here WLF 2015 The Launch & Poet Laureate Final even typing this has my heart set on edge again!

  • The WLF took over my life for the next 10 days, this week I saw Ben Parker, Todd Swift and Chloe Clarke (Young Poet Laureate) performing at the Royal Porcelain Museum, where Ben has just finished his residency and Todd is taking over.

BP Chloe Chloe

BP Dr Todd Swift Todd

BP Ben Ben

© WLF Team 2015

It was a super night of poetry. I treated myself to Ben’s collection, I love his work. Ben Parker From Porcelein

  • I had my final session at The Hive as Assistant Writer to Ian MacLeod, from September I take over the senior writing group as Lead Writer for Writing West Midlands. We invited the parents to come and take part with the end of the session, it was great fun!

 

WEEK 3  

  • The week started well with news that my poem ‘Beyond Gas Street Basin’ is to be published in an upcoming anthology of city poems called ‘Birmingham Bound’. It was a poem I was commissioned to write last year by Naked Lungs for Birmingham Literature Festival. I am delighted to be in a book all about Birmingham as it is a city that has opened it’s poetry doors for me since the tail end of 2013.
  • WLF continued and I had the delight of watching John Hegley at Confab Cabaret, Malvern. A SELL OUT Fringe event.
  • WLF I performed at the 42 WLF Special and met Adam Millard for the first time.
  • WLF I performed at WLF SpeakEasy Special and thoroughly enjoyed Brenda Read-Brown‘s set.
  • WLF I watched the Offa Press Poets, Bert Flitcroft & David Bingham at the Institute before seeing Jonny Fluffypunk return from his Austerity March experience in London to perform for us again. A highlight for me.
  • WLF Bert and Jonny joined us on the Summer Solstice Walk up the River Severn, where we all performed poetry at locations along the walk. A super, magical experience.
  • I was asked to perform at a fundraiser next month for Arts All Over the Place.
  • I attended a workshop with Candy Royalle, the international act at this month’s HTO (Hit the Ode) – which I missed as I was performing at the WLF Special SpeakEasy. It was amazing, she is a forceful spirit, driven and dazzling in her buoyant enthusiasm. Great to meet her, gutted I missed her set. I created 3 poems, in the 3 hours as well as picking up some great performance tips. Mainly driving home some things I already know. It was lovely to work alongside friends too!
  • I was invited to be a featured poet, but was unable to accept as I will be at Ledbury Poetry Festival, I am hoping this booking may happen later this year instead. Something else to look forward to!

Read about these events on fine detail here Poetry Wrap 6 & WLF – Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe 2015 – A Wrap! which includes links to individual WLF posts I created throughout the festival.

 

Week 4

  • I had 2 writing days at the beginning of the week, it has been a while since I have been able to dedicate time to actually writing. I did a lot of market research too and drew up a list of submissions to hit before the end of the month – as I realise I have hardly sent any work out there this year.
  • I took part in an open mic as part of my town’s current Festival.
  • I went to the Two Towers Brewery to perform as part of Debbie Aldous’s new night Spoken Word and More.
  • Droitwich Summer Festival invited 9 performers to entertain with poetry and music at a magical Live Lit event hosted at Park’s Café and organised by Malcolm Wakeman and MC-ed by Fergus McGonigal (everything he touches, turns to gold)! Performers included;

Fergus McGonnigall (previous Worcestershire’s poet laureate) & MC

Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate )

Jenny Hope

Math Jones

Mike Alma

Bridget & Malcolm Wakeman

John & Pauline Franks

Nina Lewis

Polly Robinson

Ruth Stacey

Holly Magill

Sarah James (runs the Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza) & Val.

It was lovely to go for a meal with people afterwards too and chat away the night. I finally got to bed at 2:30 a.m after I had worked off the adrenalin! I have been looking forward to this event since Sarah James launched her new book The Magnetic Diaries, KFS Press. Since then she has had Hearth published, a collaborative book (Mother Milk Books) and is about to have PlentyFish – her new collection published with Nine Arches Press.

  • New opportunities for training presented themselves and I was fortunate to be online at the time. Looking forward to telling you all about this latest venture in September.
  • I also continued work on my own collection.
  • I had a poem published on Visual Verse – ‘Shame in the City’.
  • News of the 52 ANTHOLOGY published by Nine Arches Press – Out soon!
  • I performed at Sunday Xpress just before coming home to pack my suitcase! They have found a new home at The edge Artspace, Foundation Arts, a great venue in Digbeth. The room was as crowded as outside (it was a hot day – the beginning of this heat-wave, just in time for my holiday! Loved performing this afternoon, it is the first time I have felt this great after Sunday Xpress, fabulous venue, great people, new faces, abundant talent – just a marvellous mix. Unfortunately I missed the bands this time as I have to make some submissions and pack a suitcase. I will be back over there over the summer though. Fabulous success, deserved after years in the pubs of Digbeth. (There are some gems of bars in Digbeth, just noisy and full of local life that is great for a pint but not so accommodating for a poem!)

All this and more can be found in Poetry Wrap 7

inkspill holidayAnd now I am going on holiday for a much deserved rest!

 

THE WRITE YEAR WILL BE UPDATED ON MY RETURN

Poetry Wrap 7

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This week I have mainly been researching markets, which takes so long – but is a habit I need to get back into.

I also logged my writing days and have discovered that I have had less than a month so far this year and that 40% of that time was dedicated to workshops, everything I have managed has been across just over 2 weeks, so instead of feeling frustrated and beating myself up over delaying schedules and losing out on opportunities, I am now proud of everything I have managed to accomplish in such a small window of time.

This year has been strange, I have worked more and Mr G was working away for 3 months so weekends were our only time together, there have been patches of no writing at all and certainly a lack of submissions. I am still pushing, working hard and succeeding though and do not wish to moan over lost time knowing that plenty of writers out there still work full time and have to squeeze time at the keys into evenings and early morning sessions.

I needed to see it – track the data – to find out what was happening as these feelings are new to me. Having spent the best part of 2 years on an ultimate high! Now I have seen what has gone on I can plan to turn it around in the next 6 months. Nothing like a Midsummer to take stock! writing space 2 mote carlo This is not my writing space or view, it is the view of someone I completed the University of Iowa poetry course I did last month. Lucky, hey? It captures how I feel post-analysis.

This week I had just one gig in the week and a whole weekend of performing;

There is a month long festival in my hometown which tends to lean towards classical and choral music more than anything else, but there was one open mic/ acoustic event on Wednesday (also my eldest nephew’s birthday… he reaches double figures)! I went down to check it out and perform.

Friday night was Debbie Aldous’s new night in Birmingham at the Two Towers Brewery, where everyone performs in  open mic spots.

two towers

Spoken Word and More… and there was plenty of ‘more‘. Lots of stand up, singing, musicians – including a medieval harpist and a Polish Violinist – who was the exceptional opener for the night. As well as storytelling and poetry. It was a challenging gig, not an audience who particularly focussed on poetry.

The micro brewery, warehouse setting was interesting and so was my re-calculated sat nav journey. It took about twice the time it should have to get there. An entertaining night that was worth the late night and all performers received beer tokens and a chocolate roll!

Zuzana Klementova harp Zuzana Klementova me Zuzana Klementova tom Zuzana Klementova1 Jo © Zuzana Klementova 2015

It was also Rage Against Racism this weekend down at the Custard Factory – mainly musical acts, with chosen poets performing on Saturday night. I had already been booked for Droitwich Festival so didn’t apply. I wasn’t able to go and support the gig as I was at my own, but Rangzeb took some amazing photos and Ddotti Bluebell has commented on how great the night was. I think it is an important cause – so even though I wasn’t there – here is a flavour of the evening;

Thank you to all the poets who came last night to support such a great cause & the poetry was truly thought provoking & emotional. As Rangzeb Rango said it diluted the poison of racism & expressed a special unity of people through art…. Big Up the Word Up! Crew . © Ddotti Bluebell 2015

All excellent poets and performers.

RAVE

Left to Right: Ddotti, Jasmine, Kamil, Antony, Carys, Sammy, Kurly

RAVE 8 Kamil

RAVE 1

rave 6 Kurly

Rave 4 Ddotti

Rave 3 Stephen

RAVE 2 Carys

Rave 7 Jasmine

Rave 5 Sammy

Live Lit at Park’s Café as of Droitwich Festival Arts Week was a fantastic event and I felt privileged to be a part of it.

Live Lit, featured 9 poets and we each had 10 minute performance slots – a great way to practise for the QC Compere Tour on the 10th July (ever closer)! It was a great night of poetry and fun with friends. Performers included;

• Fergus McGonnigall (previous Worcestershire’s poet laureate) & MC
• Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate )
• Jenny Hope
• Math Jones
• Mike Alma
• Bridget & Malcolm Wakeman
• John & Pauline Franks
• Nina Lewis
• Polly Robinson
• Ruth Stacey
• Sarah James (runs the Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza)

A great night organised by Malcolm Wakeman.

Snippets of reviews for the night;

A Fantastic success – well done Fergus, Malcolm and all of the performers. Angela says it was the best so far! – Peter Hawkins
A big thank you to everyone who took part. A most enjoyable evening. Malcolm Wakeman
Lovely evening — will look forward to doing it all again with good friends. Polly Robinson
Start to finish – poetry, music and prose – a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening, in the company of some very special people. Thanks everyone for another Droitwich ‘Special’. Mike Alma
I think we are all looking forward to next year’s already!

Followed by a great meal at a local restaurant where we had plenty of time to chat and laugh – and eat! I love a Poet Social – we don’t organise them nearly enough! I will plan an after party for my future book launch!

Today I am headed out to Digbeth to check out the new venue for Sunday Xpress, at The Edge – Foundation Arts space – which was a magical venue and for the first time performers who are not musicians were really listened to! I much prefer it at this new venue, I tried to support them as much as I was able in the past, usually Sunday is an allocated home/rest day… now though – being at Sunday Xpress makes me feel on top of the world, so I hope to be back soon to share in everyone’s artistic talent! Lots of new faces too, so that’s a bonus for them.

Now we have had a take-away tea (Mr G isn’t coming away with me on the 1st holiday I have in 2 years, so we wanted to do something special. I had hoped to spend the evening together, it is already 9pm and I still have to submit poetry and pack my suitcase. I am very excited about going away – especially during term time – it’s the first time in 17 years I am able to do that!

My week off from blogging will give you time to catch up with all the posts.

But before I go… in other news…

PUBLISHED

Talking of submissions and projects there are two more exciting pieces of news I need to share in this week’s wrap. After my research at the beginning of the week I found a new creative outlet in Visual Verse, they post an artists work and you have an hour to write about it and post your poetry. I love creating this way and can often be found musing over some image waiting for visual verse of my own to appear, the wait is never long. They published my poem, it is a pleasure to have poetry displayed alongside such great company, the chapter is a great read, treat yourself to some coffee time!

http://visualverse.org/submissions/shame-in-the-city/

Here is the link to read the chapter of verse for yourselves, I performed ‘Shame in the City’ last night for the first time, good reactions. We have all been there on one side of the line or the other, I think!

http://visualverse.org/

52 – THE BOOK!

The second exciting piece of news is that the 52 Anthology has made it to press, cannot wait to pick my copy up in Stratford in July. It is £7.99 and will be a great read, guarantee it. This is the result of Jo Bell’s 52 project in 2014. Published by Nine Arches Press, a labour of love which should sell really well. On the back of the hundreds, thousands of people who have been touched by 52, Jo Bell’s recently launched ‘Kith’ is already on it’s 2nd publication run! I have a feeling her last collection ‘Navigation’ had a second run of copies pre-52 as well. It could just be the magic of Jo Bell and the weight in her words of course! Poetry Goddess to many people.

52 the book

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20very%20best%20of%2052.html

Various Authors

Chosen by Jonathan Davidson, with foreword by Jo Bell and Norman Hadley

ISBN: 978-0-9931201-7-6

Price £7.99

Date: 14th July 2015

Format: Paperback

Jo Bell’s 52 project started with a simple idea: Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going. In the 52 weeks that followed, this global workshop group became a phenomenon. Hundreds of poets took up the challenge and their poems swept the board of poetry prizes, publications and personal successes. Thousands of poems were written and shared. This selection by poet Jonathan Davidson offers a taster from the poetry banquet of 52.

“Poetry changes lives, both in the reading and the writing. The 52 project brought together well-established poets with rising names, and generated world-class work. We wrote a poem a week – enjoy reading them, one week at a time.” – Jo Bell, founder of 52.

notebooks

Have a good week everyone and

keep writing x

WLF – Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe 2015 – A Wrap!

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WLF&F logo concepts

Worcester Lit Fest 2015 has been an awesome 10 day festival! I loved it even more than last year, as last year was my first WLF I was boundless in energy and enthusiasm – so to say I have enjoyed this year even more is a BIG thing!

The programme had a great combination of events, some of which I was lucky enough to attend, others I participated in and a few I missed completely due to work and the fact that I live away from the city and don’t have unlimited funds!

 

DAY 1

As you know, as I was a finalist, the launch night was also a night of awards and celebration, for young writers, students of the university, Flash Fiction Competitors and the six poets brave enough to compete for the Poet Laureate position 2015/16.

This link takes you to my post:

WLF 2015 The Launch & Poet Laureate Final

WLF PL

The Launch Of The Festival – Poet Laureate Competition
And Young Writers’ Awards
The Guildhall, High Street, Worcester WR1 2EY
Friday 12 June – 18:30 for a 19:00 start
Join us for the launch of the Festival and watch 6 poets go head to head as
they compete for the title of Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015.
Judges include: current Worcestershire Poet Laureate Fergus McGonigal,
Poet Laureate Emeritus Maggie Doyle, County Arts Officer Steve Wilson,
Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke and the Secretary of LitFest.
To open the event, we will present the prizes for the Young Writer
competition and the winners of the Flash Fiction competition will be
announced.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 2

There was lots of activity on Day 2, most of which I missed as I was working for Writing West Midlands.

A wonderful workshop by Alison May – who has a new book out – details COMING SOON. We weren’t in the same library or I would have attempted to pop in.

Writing Workshop With Alison May
From Idea To Draft–
–Developing Character And Plot To Make Your Novel Work
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Saturday 13 June 13:45-15:45

Award-winning writer, Alison May, is a Worcester-based novelist and short
story writer. She ran a popular series of workshops for LitFest last year and returns this year for a workshop on Using Character and Plot to develop
your novel. The workshop is aimed at anyone who is working on a novel, or
has a strong idea for a novel they would like to write.
Alison’s debut novel, ‘Sweet Nothing’ was published by Choc Lit in
November 2013, followed by her first novella, ‘Holly’s Christmas Kiss’, in
December 2013 and a second novella ‘Cora’s Christmas Kiss’ in 2014. Her
short stories have appeared in Romantic Novelists’ Association, Harlequin,
Choc Lit and Black Pear Press anthologies, and she is former winner of the
RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. Her fourth book, ‘Midsummer Dreams’,
was released this spring.  www.alison-may.co.uk

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I was fortunate enough to attend the evening event at Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum. Here is the link to my blogpost Poetry Wrap 6 scroll to the end of the wrap to find out about my night at the museum.BP Royal Worc

‘A Night At The Museum’
Ben Parker & Todd Swift – Poetry Book Launch
The Museum of Royal Worcester, Severn Street, Worcester WR1 2ND
Saturday 13 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
 Ben Parker From Porcelein
This book launch marks the conclusion of Ben Parker’s tenure as poet-in
residence at The Museum of Royal Worcester. Ben Parker will be reading
from a collection of poems produced during his residency, which will be
available for purchase for the first time. This event also marks the beginning
of Todd Swift’s residency at The Museum, and Todd will be reading from
his highly acclaimed poetry.
Ben’s poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White
Review, Under the Radar and Oxford Poetry, as well as Lung Jazz: Young
British Poets for Oxfam. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, was
published by tall-lighthouse in October 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013
Michael Marks Award.

Todd is a British-Canadian poet, publisher, critic and editor. He is the editor
of numerous anthologies; and has published eight full poetry collections. His
poems have appeared widely, including in Poetry Review, and Poetry
(Chicago). In 2004 Todd was the Oxfam Poet-in-residence. He blogs at
Eyewear and runs the indie press Eyewear Publishing. Todd’s PhD in Creative
and Critical Writing is from The University of East Anglia (UEA). He was
born in Montreal, Quebec.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 3

Our Illustrious Crime Panel
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Sunday 14 June 18:00-20:00

Cally Taylor
“I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes…” (‘The Lie’ C.L. Taylor)
Cally Taylor loves a dark, twisted tale. She lives in Bristol with her partner
and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at
the University of Northumbria then moved to London to work in medical
publishing.

Cally worked as a graphic designer, web developer and
instructional designer over the course of 13 years and now writes full time.
Her first psychological thriller ‘The Accident’ has sold over 150,000 copies
in the UK alone and was one of the top 10 debut bestsellers of 2014
according to The Bookseller. She credits Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the
Unexpected’ for her love of dark tales.
“Claustrophobic, tense and thrilling, a thrill-ride of a novel that keeps
you guessing.”
Elizabeth Haynes
“An enjoyable rollercoaster of a suspense novel with multiple twists.”

Daily  Mail
“This dark and creepy book is a must read.”
The Sun
Sarah Hilary
Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her
debut novel, ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ was the Observer’s Book of the Month
(“superbly disturbing”), a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, and has
been published worldwide. ‘No Other Darkness’, the second in the Marnie
Rome series, is out in 2015. The series is being developed for television by
the BBC.
“Impressive”
Times

“Stunning”
Mark Billingham

“An extraordinarily good debut”
Observer

Alex Marwood
Alex Marwood is the pseudonym of Serena Mackesy, a journalist who has
worked extensively across the British press. Her first book, ‘The Wicked
Girls’, was a word-of-mouth sensation, won the prestigious Edgar Award
for Best Paperback Original in 2014, and was nominated for an
International Thriller Writers Award in 2013. Alex lives in south London.

“A modern-day ‘Rebecca’, mixed with a suspense-filled Gothic novel and
served up with generous helping of wit – a real treat.”
Associated Press
“Fresh, sparky, funny and sadly poignant.”
The Big Issue

“Brilliantly observed … a gripping read.”
The Times

Clare Mackintosh
Clare Mackintosh is an author, feature writer and columnist. She has
written for The Guardian, Sainsbury’s Magazine, and many other
national publications, and is a columnist for Cotswold Life and Writing
Magazine.

Clare spent 12 years in the police, including time on CID, in custody and as a public order commander. Her debut novel ‘I Let You Go’ is a tense, emotionally compelling psychological thriller perfect for readers of ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’.
“A terrific, compelling read with an astonishing twist that floored me. I
loved it and did not want it to end” ‘
Peter James
“A hugely assured and gripping debut and a twist that made me green
with envy”
Mark Billingham
“Absorbing, authentic and deeply unsettling: a stellar achievement, and
so deliciously clever”
Elizabeth Haynes
Following the Romantic Novelists’ Panel last year, this year we go into a
world of darkness and psychological chills and thrills from four crime
writers who look like butter wouldn’t melt…

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

This event was well attended and received lots of rave reviews. It is one I would have liked to attend and a real bargain for a whole panel of experts. Shame I am human and had to pace myself!

Day 4

‘Sport and Spice’
Chris & Teresa Green    Anita Sharma-James
Bindles upper room, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Monday 15 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
Get sporty and spice up your life! Award-winning author and broadcaster
Chris Green accompanies his wife and business partner Teresa – one of the
first women sports editors in the UK. Teresa’s roles have included sports
editor at the Bromsgrove Advertiser, assistant editor at the Kidderminster
Shuttle and sports reporter/sub editor at the Sunday Mercury. Chris is the
author of five highly acclaimed sports books, including ‘Every Boy’s Dream
– England’s Football Future on the Line’, which was nominated for the
2010 British Sports Book of the Year.
Anita will give a live Indian cookery demonstration. Our fabulous local
expert will invite you to enjoy a mouth-watering Indian finger buffet made
to her authentic recipes from her wonderful cookery book ‘A Life of Spice:
Raksha’s Story’.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I saw Anita Sharma-James at an event in my hometown a few years ago and only have interest in tennis and world cup football! This was a SELL OUT event though, they had to turn people away.

Meanwhile I was over the hills at another SELL OUT event with John Hegley and the Confab Cabaret team, who provided the FRINGE part of the Festival (Geographically) – definitely not with the billing or event – it was one of my festival highlights. CONFAB j2 Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley at Confab Cabaret – WLF & Fringe

Festival Fringe Events with ‘ConFab Cabaret’
John Hegley
John Hegley – ConFab Cabaret Special
Monday 15th June 20.00-22.30 (Doors Open 19.30)
Tickets £10 online (address below) or £12 on the door
A fun packed variety night with lashings of Spoken Word.
John Hegley will be headlining an extra-special ConFab
Cabaret. John performed on the streets of London in the early eighties,
fronting the Popticians, with whom he also recorded two sessions for John
Peel, and has since been a frequent performer of his words, sung and
spoken, on both local and national radio and television.
Tip top support will be provided by luscious lovely local Malvern muses –
Adrian Mealing, Amy Rainbow, Catherine Crosswell, Clive Dee, Myfanwy
Fox and Sue Thompson. With a fabulous audience poem and
added merriment from international circus performer Steve Kaos!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 5

John Hegley did a workshop – which I missed because I was working and also because I am seeing him again in Ludlow and have booked the workshop there as it is on the same day as the event.

It would have been great fun – what I heard was all fabulous but I had asked people NOT TO TELL ME ANYTHING about it as he may repeat the same ideas in Ludlow.

I had Tuesday off from the festival, I was working and trying to write some new material and work on my editing too.

CONFAB J Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley – Workshop
Tuesday 16th June 10:00-12:00 (Doors Open 09:45)
Tickets £12.50 in advance online (address below)
After a night of ConFab Cabaret jollity, John will be up bright and early
delivering a 2 hour workshop.
This will be an opportunity to work closely with Mr Hegley using drawing,
poetry and gesture. John has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces,
two CD’s and one mug. An Edinburgh Festival regular, he is noted for his
exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and
the misery of human existence.
Places are limited. Please book now to avoid disappointment.
Both John Hegley events to be held at: The Harcourt Room, The Mount
Pleasant Hotel, Belle Vue Terrace, Great Malvern WR14 4PZ

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

In the evening – Worcester Writers’ Circle took over with a Rubber Swordplay Event – where Mogs was awarded the Rubber Sword for his performance.

Worcester Writers’ Circle And Friends Present: ‘Rubber Swordplay’
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Tuesday 16 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
The gifted and humble members of Worcester Writers’ Circle and Friends
present a selection of their humorous stories and poems in an evening that
is sure to leave your sides aching. Mein host, Tony Judge, has once more
successfully brought together performers who are out to give you a laugh.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Another event happening Tuesday evening was at The Commandery.

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Anita Seymour – Civil War Novelist
Anita Seymour
Tuesday 16 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
Anita’s first novels are ‘The Woulfes of Loxsbeare’, a 17th Century historical
family saga, the first two titles of which are, ‘The Rebel’s Daughter’ and ‘The
Goldsmith’s Wife’. Followed by ‘Royalist Rebel’, a biographical novel based
on the early life of Elizabeth Murray, Countess Dysart. Her latest release due in June 2015 is Murder On The Minneapolis, a Cozy Mystery set on an
Atlantic Steamship in 1900.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 6

I was back in it, to see Adam Millard at 42 WLF Special – read all about it here

WLF 42 Special with Adam Millard

WLF 42 me1WLF 42 Adam

WLF © 2015

42 Worcester Festival Special
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Wednesday 17 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
42 Worcester’s Festival Special this year sees the welcome return of Adam
Millard. A writer, mainly fantasy and horror, Adam’s whole life consists of
movies, books, and writing. He’s 31 and lives with his beautiful wife Zoe,
and son, Phoenix Justice. Adam has over fifty tattoos and smells of rich
Mahogany.
Who can resist?

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Wednesday night also saw another event at The Commandery.

‘The Crimson Ribbon’
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
‘The Crimson Ribbon’ is a tale set during the English Civil War, exploring
the developing roles of women in an era of turmoil and change. The novel
deals with superstitious fear, injustice and persecution. Her central character,
Ruth Flowers, is torn between her desire for liberty and the need for utter
secrecy, for if people find out about the events of her past she is in mortal
danger.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 7 – One week in!

What better way to mark it than a performance at SpeakEasy.

Read all about it here WLF – SpeakEasy with SPOZ & Brenda-Read Brown

SpeakEasy Festival Special
Thursday 18 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start at The Old Rectifying House,
North Parade, Worcester WR1 3NN
Here’s your chance to read your short stories, poems, prose, try out your
performance poetry or music that tells a story. This evening is for you!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

WLF Brenda2 WLF © 2015

There were other events again at The Commandery

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Chris Bryant MP – The Biography of Parliament

Following his election as Rhondda’s MP in June 2001 Chris Bryant has
served on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the House of
Commons, as well as the Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons on
Reform of the House of Lords. From November 2002 to May 2007 he was
Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe. He is an Associate of the
National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and a member of the Coop Party,
Amnesty International, Amicus and the Fabians. Chris speaks fluent Spanish
and good French, lives in Porth in the Rhondda Fach, and famously
corresponded with James Blunt. His book ‘Parliament: The Biography
(Volume 1 – Ancestral Voices)’ was published in December 2014.
Thursday 18 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 8

On Friday I took a day off from work and WLF to go to a workshop with Candy Royalle in Birmingham, which was magic! Meanwhile back in WLF the events continued.
ThreezAcrowd
Bindles, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Friday 19 June 14:00-16:00
Jan and Campbell Perry and Mike Thomas’s band will entertain in the upper
room at Bindles…don’t miss it, or you won’t be there!!

WLF Programme © 2015

Another exciting event on offer, that received lots of positive feedback was this talk and Q& A

Covert Operations! Cameron Addicott
Friday 19 June 19:30 at St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s,
Worcester WR2 5AX

An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott
An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott is a former undercover officer with H.M. Customs and
the Serious Organised Crime Agency. In 2008 he left SOCA to travel the
world and write the first part of his memoirs. The Interceptor was published
by Penguin in July 2010 and went straight to number 1 in the Amazon True
Crime Bestseller list. The BBC purchased the rights to the book and has
been turned into a BBC1 crime drama series. Directed by BAFTA award
winning director Farren Blackburn. Starring OT Fagbenle, Robert Lonsdale,
Charlie de Melo and Anna Skellern star, with Trevor Eve playing the leading
‘Villain’. It is due to be broadcast on BBC1 in April 2015.
Cameron’s media work includes appearing as technical expert on Chris
Atkins’ C4 Dispatches documentary about the sale of personal data and
playing the ‘Spymaster’ who taught Jared Murillo on Strictly Come Dancing’s
‘It Takes Two’. His radio work includes Radio 4’s Midweek with Libby
Purves and Five Live with Richard Bacon. In addition Cameron has advised
on numerous other TV docs and has been interviewed on many local and
European Radio shows.
Fighting on the frontline of the war against crime, ‘Cammo’  was one of the
very few hard-boiled and highly-experienced surveillance operatives to get
called up to the secretive and elite Alpha Projects unit – a group of
dedicated undercover Customs officers who hunted the UK’s most
dangerous criminals by extraordinary means – starting with the interception
and decoding of their phone calls.
This talk will give an entertaining and informative insight into working
against organised crime. Topics covered include criminal motivation,
methods of intelligence gathering, cocaine production, plus smuggling and
money-laundering.
The talk will be followed by a lively Q&A session and a book signing.

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 9

Was my final day in the WLF and one I had been looking forward to – nothing to do with Jonny Fluffypunk! Oh, no! WLF – Jonny Fluffypunk & Offa Press Poets

Offa’s Poets And Jonny Fluffypunk
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Saturday 20 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start

‘Thought-Apples’ is a collection of 25 poems by Staffordshire poet Bert
Flitcroft. They are philosophical, occasionally piquant, always accessible and
pleasing to the ear. Bert was born in 1946 and grew up in Lancashire.
Nowadays he lives near Lichfield, a retired English teacher.
David Bingham’s debut collection from Offa’s Press, ‘The Chatter of
Crows’, includes impressive Japanese-influenced haibun and haiku, which
amuse and intrigue in equal measure. David lives in Ironbridge, Telford, is a
retired Humanities teacher and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from
Birmingham University. He’s currently editor of Blithe Spirit magazine.
‘Good on the page and good on stage’ are Offa’s Poets’ watchwords.
Jonny Fluffypunk
And…the unforgettable ‘economic refugee’ from the Home Counties
returns to LitFest. Stand-up poet, sit-up storyteller and give-up musician

Jonny Fluffypunk has been dragging his art around the poetry, comedy and
alternative cabaret circuits for over 10 years. A multiple slam champion who
hates competition in the arts and an outspoken voice for anarchy, peace and
bicycles, Jonny’s a favourite with LitFest audiences. His ‘Sustainable
Nihilists’ Handbook’ is published by Burning Eye, and he is currently
touring his no-fi stand-up spoken word show ‘Man Up, Jonny Fluffypunk –
One Man’s Struggle with Late-Onset Responsibility’ to rousing acclaim.
An evening not to be missed!

WLF Programme © 2015

WLF jonny WLF © 2015

My final event was to celebrate Summer Solstice/ Midsummer’s Eve – with poets, bugs and torchlight! WLF – Summer Solstice Walk

LitFest Solstice Walk – a fabulous freebie
Starting around 10:30pm Saturday 20 June
Join us for a spookily fun walk around Worcester’s famous waterside for the
Summer Solstice – this year we’re keeping it local – the walk will be along
the banks of the River Severn. Starting outside Cripplegate Park gates on the
St John’s side of Worcester Bridge at 10:30(ish) Saturday 20 June, following
the Jonny Fluffypunk / Offa’s Poet gig. We’ll bear health and safety in mind
and ask everyone to bring a torch and wear stout shoes / boots and warm
clothing.
The route will be along the riverside to Diglis Lock and encompass the
Diglis basin marina area. There will be poetry and prose performances along
the route to entertain you.
Start time 10.30pm – finish anticipated just after midnight.

WLF Programme © 2015

This was a fabulous, magical event, unique.

Day 10

The end of the Festival – marked with the traditional (now in it’s 5th year) Double Whammy Slammy

LitFest ‘Double Whammy Slammy’! and end of fest party
PLUS The BIG FAT RAFFLE Draw!
Sunday 21 June
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Flash Fiction Slam: 18:00-18:30
Poetry Slam: 19:00-21:30     
Come, watch and vote for flash fiction aficionados who will perform their
short, short stories. Last year’s winner Rod Griffiths may be competing
again! You could be the second Worcestershire Flash Fiction Slam
Champion. To take part in the flash fiction slam write your flash fiction (a
short, short story, up to 300 words) and turn up on the night to read it!
And…the grand finale! Come, watch and vote for competing poets in the
final event of the 2015 Worcestershire Literary Festival in the legendary
poetry slam championship.  Participants will vie for the chance to become
the fifth Worcestershire Poetry Slam Champion. Previous champions:
Fergus McGonigal, James Dolton, Alison Absolute and, last year Brenda
Read-Brown.

WLF Programme © 2015

The Poetry Slam winner this year is Peter Wyton, who will perform at next year’s Worcester Lit Fest SpeakEasy as a headliner, Math Jones came 2nd (for the 3rd year) and congratulations to Suz Winspear (runner up Poet Laureate) and 3rd in the Poetry Slam and Leena Bachelor who was trying out slamming for the first time!

Andrew Owens won the Flash Fiction Slam. Well done to everyone who was brave enough to take part and for those strong performers who did BOTH slams.

WLF Heather WPL WLF © 2015

Last but not least congratulations to the small and mighty WLF team! Superb festival WLF 2015 – thank you!