What a strange start to the year, so much change and loss. I do not feel that I can write a review of this month without a mention of Sammy Joe, who sadly passed away on the 5th January. Events that I attend weeks later are still making tributes to her and many of us still cannot believe that she has gone. Her funeral is early February and a donation page has been set up to raise money for Mental Health Charities.
Many of us (artists and non-artists) suffer mental health issues from time to time or all the time, it is the nature of using our minds, the depths a creative soul can rise and fall. Anyway instead of flowers some of us are pledging a donation in the hope that other people can experience a better kind of care and understanding.
I for one find it difficult to imagine not seeing Sammy at an event again, my thoughts are still very much with her family and close ones, her daughter and everyone who has known her. Whether you knew her for a few years or more, she will have touched your life in some way either through her brutally honest poetry or through conversation or her cuddly hugs. I wish I had known her for longer than I have, I feel good to have known her and thank her for all our heart to hearts.
Rest in Peace Sammy x © Rangzeb Hussain 2015
CHANGES ON THE CIRCUIT – EVENTS
This month also saw the end of Mouth & Music for a while, back in 6 months time hopefully.
SpeakEasy will still continue as it is part of the Worcester LitFest but after two years at the helm Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal are retiring from organising and MCing the event, the last chance to catch them hosting will be next month.
JANUARY – BACK TO WRITING
For me January was the month I learnt to swim again *not literally. The end of 2015 from November onwards saw a slow decline in productivity, I found I was unable to write, by December I was barely trying. I had the weight of other things crowding my mind and the ‘love of writing’ spell broke for a while. This deflated me, as it was the first dip I had felt since embarking back into a writing life. It usually makes me feel great, even during periods of editorial rejection or non-submission, but by the end of 2015 I had ground to a halt. I knew I would pass GO again, just wasn’t sure when. I tried not to worry, but wasn’t happy with the negative projection I was giving writing.
I knew I would still carry on with this dream, but was dreading January becoming another winter month of no writing.
Fortunately the month kicked off a few days in with a Claire Walker Workshop, in which I managed to write a poem and faith was restored. The action plan was drawn up and I organised 4 writing days this month as well as working evenings and weekends to get everything done. There has been a lot of editing too.
I wrote over 21 new poems and submitted work to 9 different places. See I told you I meant business. It still amazes me that organising submissions can still take 3-5 hours even when the material is ready. A few revision lessons in not leaving things to the last minute, have managed that well as everything to be sent by 31/1 was actually out by 3oth! Leaving me a whole day at the end of this month to get ready for February. Yes the Action Plan is already saved.
This is my year of WRITING (I keep telling myself).
2013 the year for (re)learning and finally finding poetry
2014 the year of the gig, festivals and commissioned work
2015 the year of headlining and writing my first chapbook
2016 the year of editing/writing
I have had poetry accepted by I Am Not A Silent Poet, Abridged, Maligned Species Fairacre Press. A total of 5+ poems out there for eyes to read. That’s smashing. I will write more about these publications next month.
Your Sentence of Non-Guilt
Poems for Ashraf Fayadh published in I Am Not a Silent Poet
Expectation – Abridged Floodland Issue
Quantum Wonderment – Fairacre Press, Maligned Species Project Spider E-book
I also discovered the poetry of Patience Agbabi. I went to watch her perform at The Hive. I enjoyed a night at the 52 Launch this evening and will blog about both events next month.
Workshop – with Claire Walker, new poetry written, performed at The Ort, booked Headline slot for February.
Booked tickets for Patience Agbabi & Liz Berry, performed at Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy, went to Poets by the Lake to watch Sarah James, Bert Flitcroft & Roy McFarlane – an event facilitated by David Calcutt, submitted poems, wrote new ones – including some I performed in my set at SpeakEasy, Daniel Sluman invited me to his book launch in February.
Wrote and submitted more poetry, published on I Am Not A Silent Poet, thanks Reuben Woolley, I read a lot about Ashraf Fayadh and watched other poets and politicians performing his work, there was an online event on the 22nd in support of his release but I was working my day job and unable to participate. I received a nice rejection email from Little Lantern Press, I had sent work for the next anthology on Loss back in 2015. I started to research modern love and wrote a poem about pearly presents which I took to Stanza.
I did a lot of research for the Maligned Species Project which was released by Fairacre Press back in the Autumn and naturally I left it until the last week to work on submissions. It is a really interesting project which again I will blog about in more detail, I have had 2 poems accepted for the spider e-book. I am delighted to have a poem published in the next issue of Abridged too, I was accepted 3x on Friday night – that was a buzz and shows what an activated action plan can achieve!
I am still working on my manuscript and have by-passed 2 self imposed deadlines. I know the editor would rather have a manuscript that is ready though, especially after all this time. It has been on the top of the desk this week and I am part way through.
I was sent an email which made my day/year – someone on twitter had tweeted that in the whole of Paper Swans Press ‘Schooldays’ Anthology the end line of my poem was their favourite line in the WHOLE book! I have read it (RECOMMEND) and know how good the poetry is!
I made more submissions and received another rejection from a magazine I have tried to break since 2015 – does one give up or keep going?
I watched Patience Agbabi perform at The Hive – wow – wowed!
I signed up for a Warwick University course Literature & Mental Health – which starts in February. I started using my Kindle Fire *Thank you Mr G – Christmas pressie!*
I have just come back from the launch of the 52 Prompt book at the MAC, more on this soon.
I wrote my ACTION PLAN for next month!
This week is one of those weeks that feels as if it is going on forever (in a good way, I think)! I have managed to work this week and get my nose to the writing grindstone too. Which is fortunate as I have just accepted a short-term contract for the next fortnight and will have precious time or energy left for writing. I haven’t worked full-time since my illness, but it isn’t for a long period of time and I have a week off after to recoup…well, after Mr G’s Birthday/Valentine weekend.
Next week I have writing deadlines, a headline slot at Stirchley Speaks along with Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. It is also Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch and Emma Purshouse is performing at Permission to Speak, which (depending on energy levels) I hope to make. On Saturday I am working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) and in the evening watching Liz Berry as part of National Library Day as well as working with small, terrifyingly energetic four year olds! I think the blog posts may have to wait.
Maybe next week will seem as endless as this one, it is good when time feels stretched this way.
This week I have been taking chunks out of the Action Plan. Writing around the day job, as many of us have to do. My main focus was on a project that needed lots of research, which I managed to write 5 new poems and have enough material and ideas to generate more when I get a moment to write again. I have submitted this poetry and now have my fingers crossed for a positive response.
I have also been editing the manuscript, which really needs to be emailed. You know that thing when something is as written as it can be for now but you keep chipping away at it. I heard an interview with David Calcutt this week, where a comment about editing struck me because I think not only is it true of my own poetry/writing progress, but is also part of my learning of 2015 about writing once you have had work accepted and it is part of an editorial process.
David on editing poetry: ( paraphrased) some people ‘polish the diamond’ – diamond poetry is strong, hard, well executed, beautiful but it is what it is and doesn’t leave room to be anything else. Poetry can be equally as good but not as polished, where there is still breath in the work, it has been overly re-written, it allows the reader space.
I guess it is that fine line between polishing something so it shines and polishing it so hard it becomes so hard to handle it slips right out of your hand to the floor. I am always aware of ‘authentic voice’ in poetry, this may or may not be a bad thing. I know we all work differently and that my manuscript is in exceptionally safe hands editorially. It is just me learning to let go more I think.
The things that we dream of are new realities and experiencing them in real-time is different to how they were imagined.
I also had the pleasure of a Poetry Event, so far this year (and I know we are only weeks in), I have managed to maintain my resolution of cutting back performances and events in order to create more writing time. This was my first performance in two weeks. It was the first 42 event of 2016 and as there is no December event it has been a good while since I had seen some people. It seemed a little strange wishing each other Happy New Year at the end of the month. These spoken word nights are themed – and as you know, I pride myself on writing to theme. This month’s theme was extremely challenging:
‘Around the Myths in 80 Words’ – I liked the play on title but researching and writing the poetry was a different matter. At the end of two days I was happy with all 4 poems and they were ALL just 80 words (sometimes editing is necessary to success). I wrote about Hercules and Achelous, The Rainbow Lady – A Goddess in Mayan Myth, Welsh myths from Cader Idris. Cader Idris is a mountain in Gwynedd, Wales, found at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. I also wrote a poem based on Urban Myths.
I really enjoyed the evening and there was some great writing born from this challenging prompt. It was a late night and there are currently night works on the main exit roads, making my journey home close to an hour, on a work night! I tried not to let this dampen my spirit last night as it was such an enjoyable evening.
Also Andrew Owens shared the exciting news that rather like my local roads, the bar where he hosts 42 is having a renovation. Hopefully this will leave us with a great new performance space for the rest of the year. The pub has bands playing on the stage weekly too and the room could use some TLC, I am sure the new owners of the pub will do themselves proud. I cannot wait for the unveiling.
Most of us are hoping the performance post disappears.
Today I heard that one of my submissions has been unsuccessful, you know when you really want to crack a publication and you submit time again to be rejected… well I have decided that since doing battle in 2014, 2015 and now this year to wait until I find a perfect match between the issue theme and work I have already written because creating to theme in a style that matches the publication doesn’t seem to be working. I will crack it.
I realised whilst playing with diary dates and deadlines that 2016 is in fact my Olympic year. I am in the 4th year of writing (technically 3rd year of poetry – two under the belt), so this will be the year I take stock and so far I think it is fair to say that I am not giving up on wordsmithing, nor will I ever. The 15 years I have taken off in the past was enough and the success and feelings I maintain writing show me that this is the right path. I know I won’t need 16 years to achieve what I am striving for – but still I look forward to taking stock over the next 4 Olympics nevertheless.
I have also taken some time to compile my set list for Headlining next week and have finally taken my new Kindle Fire out on the open (or not quite so open) road to 42, one of the reasons I wanted one was to use for performing. I look forward to setting it up over the weekend for next week’s readings.
This weekend I am going to watch Patience Agbabi at The Hive and go to the MAC for the 52 Launch Party before collapsing in a heap and getting some sleep before next week. I hope that the in a night-out a night pattern that fortunately fits the week will keep my head above water.
Last year David Calcutt was resident poet of Caldmore Community Garden, this year he is taking the Visitor Centre at Walsall’s Arboretum to a new level. Back in the summer, during Jimmie Rennie’s Walsall Festival workshop, David mentioned this idea during a conversation about how great the space is.
I was hoping to make his first event in December, but – well we know what the end of 2015 was like…
The first event was an open mic, the following month it is Poets by the Lake -pre-booked events and there will be some workshops too. I know the first one of these will happen on the 13th February, which is Mr G’s birthday, so I can’t make that either.
This is another reason I hoped to make the 16th January, but I had a very low energy day and I wasn’t convinced driving on motorways was a good idea. I was kindly given a lift by Mike Alma and we had an enjoyable evening of poetry and music. I saw lots of poetry friends there from Staffordshire and the Black Country.
Roy Mcfarlane, Bert Flitcroft (Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate) and Sarah James performed sets of poetry and the ‘Flaky Tarts’ a three piece played and sang and even made us sing! The atmosphere in the café was vibrant, we got to hear some poems from Roy’s new collection too, which will be published by Nine Arches Press later this year.
Over the past week I have been busy writing new poetry, making submissions, working through my action plan chronologically and editing my manuscript. I have managed just one full day of writing (my 1st this month) on the 18th and I filled it with working on poetry and research.
I have made three submissions this week, written over eight new poems. This is great because by the end of last year I felt creatively drained and found writing new poetry an impossible task. Now I am back in the game, I can feel the desire to write return and have already thrown away two pens when they ran out of ink! Fortunately I have started the house de-clutter, so I know I have hundreds of pens AND I know where they are. Despite the rush of this creative spell, I have just spent over 40 minutes this morning trying to create a title for a romantic poem I wrote for last night’s Stanza meeting. It now has a title, although I think it may be a temporary title.
I have taken this week off from performing to concentrate time and focus on my writing, I intend to repeat this monthly as 2016 is the year I have to focus on writing the words. Real work has been busy too, spending the majority of my week with three year olds has been an eye opening, now I am thoroughly exhausted and looking forward to a restful weekend.
Work – Pyjamas – Poetry, has generally been this week’s theme.
I had an exciting invite last week to Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch for his new collection ‘the terrible’, which we have been promoting here on the blog since 2015. Naturally the book launch clashes with another event that I had already committed to performing at, but with my new SatNav (thank you Mr G), I hope to manage both events before collapsing in a heap the next day.
I also discovered last week that Liz Berry is performing locally as part of the celebration for National Libraries Day. I grabbed some tickets and scribbled this February date straight into my writing diary. It will be a pleasure to watch her again in the new venue, doubly delightful as it is local and involves zero car miles.
Back to my desk now to write a few more romantic poems and then onto the next project.
My overall aim this week is to finish and resubmit my manuscript. I have finally (after two months of searching) decided on a new title for the collection and I cannot wait for my editor to read the strengthened version of poems. I look forward to posting updates about this soon.
Keep writing x
Mouth & Music
My most local venue for a night of spoken word and music, always fun and entertaining, has come to a temporary close.
On the 12th January we all went to the BHG to celebrate 4 years of Mouth & Music with hosts Heather Wastie and Sarah Tamar, it was also a goodbye to the current landlords. Mouth & Music itself is taking a six month break and then Sarah Tamar is hoping to start up again.
Heather Wastie (Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate) hosted the evening which was headlined by Humdrum Express (Ian Passey) and Sarah Tamar.
It was a lively evening of music and poetry celebrating the Boars Head and Mouth & Music.
Here are some photos taken by Peter Williams
Nina Lewis & an absent Tim Scarborough
Bert Flitcroft – Current Staffordshire Poet Laureate
Headliners ~ Ian Passey &
© Peter Williams 2016
As a tribute to the years of Mouth & Music (my first visit came at the end of 2014) I have gathered together my favourite bits. From Collaboration to Clog Dancing – thank you for the poetry, song & music!
- Dressing up as Aladdin for the Pantomime themed night and my first Mouth & Music.
Humdrum Express headlined alongside Tim Cranmore (who was then Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate 2013)
Read all about it here MM 23
Sarah Tamar as Mrs Claus Christmas Laureates Present and Future
- Mouth & Music March 2014 in which I discovered the wonderfully talented Adrian Mealing, Headlining as half of The Very Grimm Brothers.
- In April my first collaboration was born thanks to the Dualogue theme, Tim Scarborough and I worked together to enhance my poem Rainwatch – using a mood drum and wrote Social SatNav together. A turning point for me. A collaboration I would love to explore again sometime.
- MUSICAL COLLABORATION M&M (May 2014)
The amazing ‘Body Hair’ themed Mouth and Music and the Moustache poem was born, alongside a Hairy Toe poem.
After this Tim and I don’t perform together until 2015 and although we are both open to collaboration, haven’t managed anything since. One day…
- Captivating Clog Dancing accompanying Sirkel.
- October 2014 and Saffron Toms came and shot amazing photos. This was also the month my Birmingham Poets came to support Jasmine and I saw my two geographical poetry worlds combine.
- January Spark Off saw me captain a team and perform with Tim again. Which was all superb despite no rehearsals and was great fun even after I lost a laureate from my team (two, is too many) and generally lost to the other side, having not bribed the MC/Judge (who will remain nameless, ahem! Mr Passey) with pints of virtual alcohol.
- Mouth & Music KAF Special – Slightly Circus August 2015 – a definite highlight!
Maggie Doyle, Nina Lewis, Heather Wastie & Dave Reeves
After taking a three week break over Christmas I am determined to get back into my stride with writing and performing, the heavier proportion needs to be weighted to writing this year as I have a few projects underway.
I have succeeded (partly due to organising an Action Plan) – I can Life Coach myself after all! Another personal qualification of mine. I have this week managed to perform, write new poetry (the first since early December), I thought I’d lost the power! I have even managed a submission too and plan on spending this, my first full writing day of 2016 writing more poetry for submission.
Break your goal into smaller steps, make sure they are achievable.
Spoken Word at The Ort 8th
Last Friday I journeyed over to Birmingham to unite with other poets who were still in shock over the news of Sammy Joe, to welcome in the New Year with Debbie Aldous at her event and to share poetry on the open mic.
It was PACKED! To the point where I began to feel claustrophobic. It was a good night though with lots of poetry/ spoken word. It was mainly good to connect with others and see people that I needed to hug.
Writing West Midlands
I also spent part of the week finalising my plans for the first of the 2016 sessions for WWM working with young writers. We had some new joiners, I am doing my best to increase the numbers for our group this year. I planned a whole session on New Beginnings and it went down well. It was good to be back.
I missed several events this week, Stirchley Speaks, Permission to Speak and Poet’s with Passion.
Last year, I was fortunate to appear in lots of headline slots. This week I was asked to Headline next month at Stirchley Speaks alongside; Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. I can’t wait!
I discovered Patience Agbabi was coming to a local university and has a ticketed performance at The Hive on 29th January. I booked a ticket.
As I didn’t get a place on the Arvon City Retreat, I have filled that weekend (29th-31st) with POETRY. The Sunday will be filled with 52 – more on this later.
Mouth & Music 12th
I am dedicating a post to this separately as it was the last one for a while. I will add a link back here.
SpeakEasy was last night, I have not managed to get to one of these for a long time and enjoyed reconnecting. There was a healthy number of audience to performers and some of my favourite poets were performing. It was a lovely evening (if not a tad cold, we have had snow) hosted by Maggie Doyle, who eloquently announced each spot with an blush worthy introduction.
I finally (after a block of a month or so) managed to write three new poems this week and I performed them all last night.
Lindsay Stanberry Flynn was the Headline and she read from her latest novel – ‘The Broken Road’.
AVAILABLE TO BUY
A Writing Day
Today is my first official writing day of the month, sacred time. I have my list in front of me and I am busy working through it. I managed to write – edit and submit some work on Wednesday evening – in between going out for a belated New Year’s Meal with Mr G’s family. I was fairly proud of what I managed to accomplish in two hours, let’s hope the editors are too.
Loving the possibilities of the next four days, after a run of (hard) work, I get to tie myself to the desk and get on. I have a manuscript to finalise as well as new writing and of course the inevitable admin tasks (much further down on the list).
This is the good side of the apple.
Eat around the Bruise
I know people who are fussy (or perhaps normal) about food and would bin fruit as a punishment for being bruised. I know that there is still goodness in the remaining unbruised part and will carefully eat around the bruise.
2016 feels a little like this at the moment. I’d let go of negativity dragged from 2015 into this new year and was all ready and primed for a fresh start. Then things beyond my control happened – as they do, otherwise known as life.
When this happens there is no way to protect from bruising. Allow that time and then, get stuck in! Eat around that bruise.
Give what you have to give.
It has been over a week since my last blog post, I come to write this post on loss and find that the programming has been updated and content looks completely different for us on WordPress. I wish there was an option to use the old format, but alas, as with life things move on.
A lot has happened in the poetry world, my world and the world since I last posted and although I tend to steer clear of media stories, I cannot let the passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman go without a mention.
I discovered Bowie as a teen, music first, then ‘Labyrinth’ years later, even tried my hand at creating the jacket worn by the Goblin King and definitely copied the eye make-up! As for Alan Rickman, as I was training to be an actress, he was someone I felt even closer to. First discovered in ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ – what an actor, what a presence, what a voice.
It is a sad loss to the Arts that these two stars have been extinguished at just 69, both dying from Cancer. May they Rest In Peace.
Closer to home, the poetry community was rocked on the 5th January by the sad news that a wonderful poet, Sammy Joe, was no longer with us. The outpouring of love since has been amazing, I only wish she could read the heartfelt words. All the events I have attended in the past week have offered words in her memory and I know we will get to celebrate her life sometime in the future.
Lots of people are grieving and my thoughts are with her daughter, Rosie and the family. We (the poetry community) have shared compassion in grief. It has shaken all of us and it is almost impossible to imagine the world without her. It will be a long while before we realise we will not see her again, she isn’t going to turn up at events. It has also made us all wake up and appreciate what life is and how we need to let friends know they are in our hearts.
Which is where Sammy is now, Rest In Peace, my friend. x
Photo Credit Janet Jenkins
I struggle to write about how it feels. Helen Calcutt has written a blogpost, shared across social media http://helencalcutt.org/2016/01/06/words-will-safeguard-the-spirit-eternally/ so I am sure she won’t mind me posting it here.
All this loss so early in the year, not to mention tales of friends and families who have lost loved ones over the Festive Season. It has been hard to keep buoyant New Year hopes alive with all this bigger things happening. Sometimes I feel guilty for pushing on regardless. It is what those of us left on the planet have to do though.
Headstrong fragility is the state I wear this week. There are many of us walking in this daze.
Take care out there and tell people that you love them! x
The photographs were taken on a poetry day last summer. Walsall Arboretum/ Bakehouse Workshop – Walsall Arts Festival and in the evening Pre-launch event in Birmingham for Arts all Over the Place. Sammy Joe did a lot of work with 1 in 4 Drama Group, like myself she was a poet and dramaturge.
Today is a celebration – 3 years of this blog, I spotted the WP Trophy icon on the site! I went for a wander around the data and was happy to see the growth in traffic, visitors and followers year on year. This wander down memory lane landed me in the New Year posts from 2015. After I read them and recalled how I felt this time last year in my writing skin, I decided to write this post.
Last year in this post Truth & Rainbows I wrote about goals/resolutions and I know I have said this year is all about my house (which it is), I still have a growing poetry/writing skin to fill. This blog was primarily started to keep tabs on my writing life. It has become so much more than that to me and hopefully to you, but from time to time I want to take it back to the original detail. This is me, starting a new life, I am a writer. (2013)
I have often said that what the world sees is the tip of the iceberg and actually they never see the part under the surface. We all know too well those internet lists of incredibly successful people who started with a series of failures, some lasting decades. I always wanted to mix the downs and ups, tell you about rejections and so on, equally I want to mark the successes.
So I have lifted this list from the review post Truth & Rainbows. It isn’t just about blowing my own trumpet, it’s to get you to think about yours and realise that if you keep on, you will get there.
Reviewing Resolutions 2015 – Reflecting on 2014
ARCHIVED NEW YEAR / GOAL SETTING LINKS
It seems last year I did make resolutions, the best thing about this post ^ is knowing the results 12 months later;
Here are my resolutions –
I am working towards a collection of poems for a pamphlet. I sent 2 manuscripts, both were rejected but one showed promise and I continue to make this my personal project of 2015. The process has opened up a whole new world. I had the wardrobe, now I have to find my way around Narnia!
I am starting work as an Assistant Writer with hope of having a position as a Lead Writer in 2015. I am coming up to 12 months as an Assistant Writer for WWM and have also been 1 of 3 writers picked as mentors for a term.
I am going to have a big presence on the Performance Circuit in the hope of being booked for guest spots by the end of the year. I managed 107 events, some were open mics, other were gallery openings, art projects, festivals, commissions, collaborations, everyone of them was a delight! I performed alongside many amazing people and have just had my 2nd Headline/ Main guest booking!
I will submit poetry for publication. I did! Some was published, others rejected, all were new writing fresh from my pen.
I will write some short stories for competitions. I did, I have shelved this as I was not particularly successful in this field although I corresponded with some incredible people and had a few close misses. However, posts I wrote back in 2013 about writing short stories are still top of the stats several years later.
2016 – Reflecting on 2015
I am working towards a collection of poems for a pamphlet. In August 2014 I submitted a manuscript and in January 2015 this was accepted for publication. It has been a long, hard year and somewhat disappointingly my work is not yet out in print. I am in the final editing stages and have learnt a lot from this process. I know that the final pamphlet will be stronger for the additional work that has gone into it and will mean so much when I finally get to hold a copy!
As I didn’t enter the poetry world until October 2013 I mark this acceptance almost within the first year of writing, 14 months after starting my poetry was accepted. Even if it will take a while longer to be read.
I am starting work as an Assistant Writer with hope of having a position as a Lead Writer in 2015. I was given the Lead Writer position in September 2015. I happily continue and have just planned our first session for 2016. There is also a new project I am hoping to be involved with for our groups this year.
I am going to have a big presence on the Performance Circuit in the hope of being booked for guest spots by the end of the year. In my first year I performed poetry at over 107 events, some were poetry festivals and commissioned events and collaborations. My biggest achievement was a poetry commission to write and perform at Birmingham Literature Festival 2014. In 2015 my headline slots started at the beginning of January and I was booked throughout the year at various venues. I hope to keep this up and of course having a book to sell will help!
I think I performed at about 92 events in 2015 (not much of a back seat was taken), including book launches in London, Poetry Festivals (a wider net was cast), commissioned performances and a finalist in Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition (3rd Place), my first ever Poetry Brothel Experience with Caged Arts and 5 other selected poets, I was also part of the Quiet Compere Tour 2015, Worcester – Stop 6, which was booked way back in April 2014 and had to be kept a secret!
I also completed some Poetry on Loan training and organised the best INKSPILL yet, our annual online writing retreat, this year marked 3 INKSPILL retreats and next year plans are afoot for some expansion.
I will submit poetry for publication. I did! Some was published, others rejected, all were new writing fresh from my pen. I got into publications that were on my ‘dream list’ too.
We have to put up with so much rejection in this field that I think it is essential for some positive reflection.
So have a think about your own writing desires, how far have you come? How close are you? What will be your next step?
Hello – welcome to 2016, I hope it a great year for you, filled with good fortune, you know you can make it happen.
In 2015 my writing life kept me so busy that the blog had to take a bit of a backseat, which I am going to try to balance this year as it is pretty frustrating when you follow a blog and the blogger becomes inactive (inactive at least in Cybersville). Last year my main focus was headline gigs and the manuscript, this year I am now in the fortunate position of an almost fully edited m/s which with a little more work will be ready to bat back to the publishers and then I can concentrate on some new writing.
There are plenty events already filling up the January diary and I have yet to count the total for 2015, I know it wasn’t much below 2014 despite talking about a back seat. There are many mini projects on burners that I want to unleash in 2016. It is also my final prep year for my first Olympics. My focus and goals will reflect this.
In December (it had already sold out) I discovered an Arvon City course which would have benefitted me, unfortunately the grant application date past before I got to the online form filling and now in hindsight, I would rather save for next time. This isn’t strictly true – I am gutted, but having broken a pair of expensive glasses over Christmas, I don’t think I could have managed a 3 day writing retreat. Next time I AM ON IT!
52 – Oh, you remember, Jo Bell – 500+ poets yadee, yadee – are having a workshop and book launch for the 52 prompt book on the 31st January – and had I been on retreat I may not have made this event, which is in the diary and is a bright way of seeing out January – just as today was a bright day to see it in!
This morning I headed over to Avoncroft for a writing workshop with Claire Walker, which was every bit as good as the last one. I managed a whole poem that just needs a tweak and some other material that has bubbles of promise and it felt extremely good to be back in my writing skin. I took Christmas off – unintentionally didn’t write for 2-3 weeks, I have read and researched and made notes in the ‘carry me everywhere notebooks’, so I haven’t had a total shut down, still it felt amazing to have that pen moving again and in a fresh notebook too!
It was equally lovely to reconnect with poetry friends, I haven’t seen people in a while because I have been off the scene and when I have been at an event, they weren’t and Stanza was early to allow for Christmas so it feels like forever since we were altogether.
My resolutions are all to do with the house I live in and the writing plan will be transferred from scribbles to action plans and charts over the next few weeks.
So all that is left is for me to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
On November 13th I missed Stanza to catch the final leg of the Soapbox Tour at the MAC. I was delighted that Jasmine Gardosi had the opportunity to be one of the four core poets in this PUBLIC ADDRESS show. It was directed by Hannah Silva, award winning writer, performer and theatre maker. I was fortunate enough to catch Hannah performing at Opus, earlier this year and I knew this was a show not to miss.
From mythological women to reasons for love, from the quirky to the political, from gender to bees and everything in between – across the UK, performance poets are taking to their soapboxes and giving voice to the passions and stories within us all.
Lyrical ingenuity and heart-warming humour explode from this unique, theatrical spoken word show, directed by award winning writer, performer and theatre maker Hannah Silva, described by The Times as “one of the most ambitious and entertaining poets in the country”.
Public Address features an exciting ensemble of spoken word artists with voices hailing from all corners of the UK.
Apples and Snakes is England’s leading organisation for spoken word, with a national reputation for producing exciting, engaging and transformative work in performance and participation.
Public Address: The Soapbox Tour features an exciting ensemble of spoken word artists, whose unique voices hail from all corners of the UK. Justin Coe (Essex), Jasmine Gardosi (Birmingham), Shagufta K (Bristol), and AJ McKenna (Newcastle) explore topics of sexuality, death, mental health, love, gender, and violence, through lyrical ingenuity and heart-warming humour. This theatrical spoken word show is directed by award winning writer, performer and theatre maker Hannah Silva, “one of the most ambitious and entertaining poets in the country” The Times.
This diverse group of artists has been brought together by Apples and Snakes for a unique commission, and will be joined by guest artists throughout the tour, ensuring a special and exciting programme of events. The featured guest artists will include Henry Raby (York) and Keisha Thompson (Manchester), Ingrid McLaren (Nottingham) and Helen Seymour (Canterbury). In the South West, budding poets from Plymouth Young Writers Squad will also perform alongside the ensemble.
© Official Programming
The performance was exciting and moving. A combination of different voices and subjects, audience participation, serious and entertaining. A cocktail mix of spoken word. The least shouty, high impact soapbox I have ever heard. Relatable and real. I really felt like I’d seen something special. This show filled me with thoughts.
AJ asked the public to tweet and this material was used for the final performance of the show. Which in Birmingham I was fortunate enough to be part of. Although having to make split second judgements between love or not love was pressurising and difficulty.
Here are some shots from the official publicity and others taken by the Gardosi family.
Justin Coe (Essex), Jasmine Gardosi (Birmingham), AJ McKenna (Newcastle) and Shagufta K (Bristol).
Photos to Follow
PHOTO CREDIT © Gardosi
Apples and Snakes is England’s leading organisation for spoken word, with a national reputation for producing exciting, engaging and transformative work in performance and participation.