The Olympic Year – The Story so Far

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2016 my first Olympic year milestone. I know generally people have a ‘5 year plan’, but I decided in 2013, when I gave up a full-time career (at a current loss of about £60K – what is money…) and embarked on my creative life instead that I would use the Olympic model. I was inspired by London 2012 and listened to many successful athletes talking about life before the Gold medal. For many this was their 4th (and last) games and winning has an almost entirely invisible to the public trail behind it.

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Part of the ethos of the blog is honesty, to share the rejection as well as success, expose the hidden underbelly creatives face daily. The theory behind the Olympics was my imagining but I have learnt in the past 3 years of networking that many of the poets and artists I admire are about 16+ years in. It is entirely possible. I believed it and now I know it is true.

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2013 – Learning

In the first year I built a steady foundation. I used to write, was published in anthologies as a young writer and performed into my early 20s. I trained in Creative Writing on a modular writing course facilitated by (famous) professionals, in Leicester and lived a creative life (until I couldn’t afford to eat).

It has been over a decade since I last wrote and the writing world had changed, I was out of practise and out of touch. Workshops and writing classes were an important initial investment. It took me 10 months before I wound my way back to poetry, which although one of the smaller writing markets, has always been my natural home. I can write, but I am a poet.

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, Spring and Summer and the official NaNoWriMo in November. I spent the words on a Non-Fiction manuscript I have been writing (mainly in my head) on and off for the past 13 years. It was the last thing I worked on in 2002, the year my writing stopped. I blew the dust off and picked it up again this year in Nano. I also worked on some short stories.

My main focus was to establish this blog and I spent hours typing away thinking ‘what if I actually used this time to write?’ I have no regrets though, this is an award winning, well established blog with lots of traffic and steadily increasing statistics.

My first public performance was in Leamington at Julie Boden’s Spoken Word night, where I met Dave Reeves. Within 2 weeks of finding myself back in the heart of poetry I met the local poetry scene and volunteered to work for Writing West Midlands. I performed at Birmingham Book to the Future Festival, in Stratford-Upon-Avon at an Emma Press Book Launch and Worcester.

I submitted some prose work and had a poem published.

I established INKSPILL – an annual virtual writing retreat. It was important to keep it FREE, catering for all those people who want and need it, but cannot afford it. In future years this may change, but now in its 4th year it is still FREE and accessible to anyone, although I do encourage a FOLLOW to the blog as a thank you. The initial idea came from an email I received about Iyanla_Vanzant’s Wonder Woman Weekend, which I couldn’t attend as I couldn’t afford to get to America.

I went to the Birmingham Literature Festival and Book to the Future Festival.

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2014Performing

After returning to performing poetry at the tail-end of 2013, 2014 became my touring year. Whatever I earn from writing will just about cover my 2014 fuel bill!

I became an Assistant Writer for Writing West Midlands and performed in over 107 places, I started taking bookings as a Headline performer. I also worked on commissioned projects, some for established festivals. I realised that as an artist, I enjoy doing unusual things with my writing and sought opportunities to do more than perform and write words.

I sent a pamphlet out and got rejected. Unlike 2013, where my focus was learning, this year was performing. I was writing lots and submitted a lot more work, with a clearer recording system. I had many individual poems placed and published and enjoyed celebrating the successful year in an event called ‘One Year a Poet’. 6 poems appeared in 3 anthologies, 2 poems were published in magazines, 4 poems published online. I had a poem on the Poetry Fence at Acton Scott Farm, another on the Wenlock Poetry Trail, Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014, 21 Haikus were used in an installation at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), another was displayed in a local library by an Arts Network. That’s 36 poems out there in the real world. In August I decided, incredibly last minute to submit my pamphlet to V. Press. My hesitation was having to deal with rejection again.

Performance highlights include; performing in Worcester LitFest alongside Adrian Mealing for the first part of Jonny FluffyPunk’s show. My moustache poem had been written with him in mind, so it was great to perform it in front of him.

The moustache poem was part of a set with other work being collaborative between myself and Tim Scarborough. This duo experience was sadly short lived, as he fell in love and focussed on his drumming business. But if we have time in the future, it is not a closed door.

I opened the Arts All Over the Place Festival, in support of Mental Health. A cause close to my heart as it was through suffering depression that I made my life changes and found myself picking up my pen again.

I performed at Worcester Music Festival.

I did some 1 to 1 Mentoring for Writing West Midlands and promoted Daniel Sluman’s second collection ‘the terrible’ (Nine Arches Press). I reviewed this poetry book, loving hand made and  a joy to read,  Sarah Hymas In Good Weather 1 for Sarah Hymas.

INKSPILL included Guest Writers; William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan & Heather Wastie.

I went to Wenlock Poetry Festival, Worcester LitFest, Birmingham Literature Festival, Stratford Literature Festival, Arts All Over the Place, Book to the Future, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Worcester Music Festival.

Who could forget this was the year of 52. A poetry year created by Jo Bell, with weekly prompts and over 500 people taking part. An incredible project to be part of. I am so glad that Jo Bell invited me to take part. I also told several local poets about it and they have since had great success from work produced during this time, as well as forming friendships with many poets across the UK and beyond.

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©Murdock Ramone Media

2015 – Submitting & Performing

My poetry pamphlet was accepted by V. Press, which has to be my biggest achievement so far. 14 months after embarking back on my poetry path, I had the opportunity to publish my first book.

V. Press have worked hard in creating a strong debut pamphlet and I had my first experience of professional editing, lots of changes were made to the content before the editing process could begin. I dreamed that my pamphlet would be published in 2015 alongside, Jacqui Rowe, David O’Hanlon and Claire Walker. This was not to be and although I found this difficult and even harder to see each book since, I know that my own pamphlet needed time to germinate.

11 poems were published online, 4 poems were published in anthologies and 3 poems were published in poetry magazines. I mainly worked on my manuscript poetry. I had one short prose piece published too. 18 pieces of work flying around in the real world and a pamphlet in the pipeline.

I continued to get bookings as a Headline/Guest Poet, including Cheltenham and Shrewsbury, performed in London for the first time at HARK Magazine launch, performed at Charity Fundraisers, entered Worcestershire Poet Laureate and was a runner up, became a Lead Writer for Writing West Midlands, took part in Caldmore Community Garden Poetry workshops with David Calcutt (Poet in Residence), was booked as one of ten poets for the Quiet Compere Tour, Midlands leg (Sarah Dixon),  went back to London to perform at The Poetry Café for the Paper Swans Press launch of Schooldays anthology, commissioned for National Poetry Day Light and Shade event and took part in my first Poetry Brothel event, organised by Caged Arts for Halloween and performed at Waterstones.

INKSPILL had guest writers; Daniel Sluman, David Calcutt and Alison May.

I went to Wenlock Poetry Festival, Worcester LitFest, Birmingham Literature Festival, Stratford Literature Festival, Walsall Festival, Arts All Over the Place, Poetry Festival Swindon, Book to the Future, Ledbury Poetry Festival.

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2016 – The 1st Games – Writing & Editing

This year’s story cannot be written yet, but I am still Headlining and have finally finished the pamphlet. It is to be published by V. Press, date yet to be announced.

I am delighted to mark the Olympic year with something so massive!

I am currently organising INKSPILL, guest writers will be announced in the Autumn and I am incredibly excited.

Festivals have taken a backseat this year, so have performances as I tied myself to the desk to finish writing and editing.

Submissions started well – since April I have not submitted anything as I have been attached to the manuscript and at times attempting to detach myself enough to see what is for the best. I am neglecting the end of July’s submission window as I want to focus on the current project. ‘Operation pamphlet’. Contracts have been signed and it is beginning to become real.

4 poems published online, 5 published in poetry magazines, 3 poems published in 2 e-books, 1 poem in a chapbook and 5 poems in 2 anthologies and the pamphlet soon. 20 – 40 poems flying around in the world. A grand total of 95 poems. I know I can smash 100 before the end of this 4 year marker. I don’t hold a number as a target. I just write and keep my eye out and when something takes my fancy I aim and fire. I have a long list of rejections as well. Learning what publications, journals and editors want and like is an ongoing process and involves reading and subscribing and supporting the poetry market. It is fun and I look forward to more training and success.

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Saffron Toms © 2014

OLYMPIC YEAR

Pamphlet to be published by V. Press

Lead Writer Writing West Midlands

Facilitator/ Creator of INKSPILL (4th Year)

Poet – 95 poems published

BL me Universe poem

Rangzeb ©2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book of Bones – Kathy Gee

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In May, Kathy Gee celebrated her debut collection ‘Book of Bones’ (published by V. Press), with a launch in the Long Room at Avoncroft Museum (historic buildings).

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Avoncroft Museum © 2016

A perfect venue for Kathy, who is an archaeologist by training. Kathy has had a long career in museums and heritage and is a Trustee at the museum.

book of bones

It was a wonderful evening filled with poetry and guest readings from many local poets; Claire Walker, John Lawrence, Maggie Doyle, Ruth Stacey, Ian Glass and Heather Wastie.

I always enjoy Kathy’s work and now I can read my copy with her voice firmly in my head.

BUY your copy here http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/book-of-bones.html this link also includes a couple of Soundcloud poems.

kathy G rosie Miles

Rosie Miles © 2016

 

RELATED LINKS

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/chez-nous-recommendations-for-book-of.html

 

Vanguard Readings – Birmingham

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2016 has been a busy year, which is why the blog posts are fewer. My pamphlet has reached final proof stages after 17 months of hard work. The editing process is a new experience for me and due to the nature of the subject (core of which is family/growing up) it has taken time to cross that gauntlet between autobiographical recount and something interesting enough for people to read, feel, attach themselves to.

I am in final proof stages with my pamphlet now and it is a great  feeling.

There are gaps I want to fill on the blog and now I have started to work on INKSPILL, I want to fill the gaps before the next big project takes over.

VANGUARD READINGS

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Back in March I attended Vanguard Readings, in Birmingham. Richard Skinner is the man behind Vanguard. Vanguard Readings are hosted monthly in London from October to July, they feature new writers and established authors, 6 writers each read for 10 minutes.

Richard realised the need for expanding out and touring Vanguard Readings regionally.

vanguardI am glad he did. A whole evening being carried away by poetry. Readers; David Calcutt, Helen Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane, Emma Purshouse and Richard Skinner.

With plenty of time in the interval to mingle, chat and catch up. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came away feeling inspired and rekindled.

Vanguard Readings take place at The Peckham Pelican, SE London.

Writing Places – My Kingdom for a Desk

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I love to read about other people’s  space and I often imagine my own dream space… but the truth is, I don’t even have a writing desk. For a poet I think they are less essential equipment than for the novelist, but it is good to have an organised surface. I am under no illusion that whilst I make do the rest of the world has gold cast desks in ivory towers to sit down behind. Like I said, a fascinating topic.

I mainly use laptops and notebooks (old school, the ones with paper and bindings, usually ribbon markers and well designed, appealing covers) – so I can manage with a lap tray, curled up legs, my own knees, a coffee table, side table, TV dinner table… someone else’s back… the list goes on.

In the past (before Mr G and I moved), I have had desks and since we have been living together I have often caught sight of a dream desk. Sometimes in stores I would have to go back into full-time employment to afford, other times the furniture is just too big for the dimension of the rooms bound for a desk one day.

I fell in love with an old fashioned, green leather covered desk, you know the sort. It was in a charity shop (now closed down) and I even think I know who donated it. But it was BIG and I know I am not ready.

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Stock image AntiqueAtlas.com

Not being ready isn’t a case of denying myself until a standard of life is obtained, it is simply a question of space needs to come first and guess who is STILL unpacking boxes this summer?

Sometime last year or the beginning of this one, Mr G and I bought a miniature dining table (a copy of the one I grew up with) with the intention of varnishing and using it outside to replace one which was severely warped (although that made it interesting enough to appear in a poem).

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Did the table make it outside? Did it get varnished? Of course not, it got placed in the middle of the room and had stuff dumped all over it – until Christmas when we used it as a dining table for a very small family gathering. This means it was 2015 we bought it! After this I decided that if it was going to spend the winter/spring inside – I may as well use it.

pc The ‘desk bed’ 2014

Use it I did. A tablecloth to hide the imperfections yet to be tackled, a bar to rest my foot against as I sit in quite possibly the worst cross-legged position at the laptop. Month on month the post and magazines, diaries, notes, receipts, books etc. grew at a magical rate. In amongst this writing stew – car keys, hairbrushes, money, cards, hair bobbles, pens would all go astray.

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The first task of my summer holiday was to strip it all back (a design term for tidy up) to make me feel I was being creative and using my time purposefully! Most of it was binned, re-shelved, stacked elsewhere neatly in piles. Then I went and rescued an oilcloth basket I bought last summer on my London expedition (which was still in the bag with receipt of purchase) and tidied everything I needed into that. The scrap paper notes pad, diaries, pencil case, pens etc.

I have spent the past 4 nights tidying up after myself. Everyday I have used this space well. Although a clearer mind implies less ideas, it is a more comfortable place to write now. Or edit, which has been my main task this month.

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What about the space you write in?

Worcester LitFest 2016

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Here is a round up of this year’s WLF (Worcester LitFest) 10th – 19th June. I was not able to make as many events as I had hoped and heard lots of good things about those events I missed.

WLF&F logo conceptsThe festival was five days in before I made it to the city this year.

42 Worcester LitFest Special – 15th June

Many of us wrote pieces to perform at this event based on the theme of the ‘Last Stop on the Worcester Night Train’. It was a pleasure to perform and the atmosphere was brilliant.

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SpeakEasy LitFest Special – 16th June

The following evening saw Angela France feature at SpeakEasy.

Angela France

Featured artist Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals and has been anthologised a number of times. Her publications include ‘Occupation’ (Ragged Raven Press, 2009), Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press, 2011) and Hide (Nine Arches Press 2013). Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in various community settings as well as working for a local charity. She runs a reading series in Cheltenham, ‘Buzzwords’. © 2016 WLF

My set included a Fox poem, as Myfanwy Fox was the guest MC and ‘Awumbuk’, a poem I wrote in response to workshop writing with Angela.

It was a great night and good to be back at the original venue opposite the river.

speakeasy

The Quiet Compere

After the success of the Quiet Compere Tour last year, Sarah Dixon was back with us at The Hive for a full on night of poetry.

Sarah L Dixon runs regular Quiet Compere events in Chorlton, Manchester. She hosted a medical-themed poetry event at Cheltenham Poetry Festival in 2014. Sarah has toured The Quiet Compere format (ten poets x ten minutes each) nationally in 2015 and in the North of England in 2014. Quiet Compere events enlist great, established poets and emerging voices. The Quiet Compere introduces them with little fanfare so the poems (and not the poet’s track record) tell you all you need to know. © 2016 WLF

QC tour

I was looking forward to seeing Adam Horovitz, as I missed him at Swindon and am currently missing him at Ledbury too. I must book the week off next year!

The QC event was a night of powerhouse poetry. Featured poets included;

Adam Horovitz, Jess Davies, Jasmine Gardosi, Leon Priestnall, Ken Evans and Holly Magill. Pre-booked open mic slots myself, Polly Stretton, Leena Batchelor and Neil Laurenson. Other open mic spots were Kathy Gee, Anne Milton (reading publically for the first time) and Kieran Davis.

Who better to tell you all about it but the Quiet Compere herself. Read Sarah’s review here. http://thequietcompere.co.uk/robin-williams-apple-sorrow-and-elephants-in-every-corner-the-blog-of-quiet-compere-at-worcs-litfest-2016/

This was my final dip into WLF 2016 and what a way to go out with the QC!

 

Congratulations to Suz Winspear – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2016-2017 AND the new Poet in Residence at the Museum of Royal Worcester.

Follow these links to delve into the magically gothic world of Suz Winspear.

 

Buy her poetry here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/not-need-new-Obsession/dp/1291592547

Read about her residency here

Poet Laureate

For the full festival listing of all events follow this link https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Review of June

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So why was there only one blog post this month? Mainly because I have been training myself to learn to love the editing process as much as the writing one… although, I am certain this will never happen.

I have taken a real backseat with performing too. We are entering the summer festival season and despite looking through brochures and deciding I would like to attend many events, I have been held back from doing so as I am time poor and poor at the moment.

I haven’t submitted anything other than edited manuscripts for ages and writing new material has been a no go zone too. Due to the long summer break I have been taking on as much work as possible and I am also busy trying (and failing) to arrange birthday parties and mini breaks. June is also a ‘real life’ busy month with birthdays, celebrations and events, not to mention the hours consumed watching programmes about Britain leaving the EU. The REMAIN/LEAVE campaigns were something not many of us understood prior to June and I needed to be sure of my stance and understand the impact before voting.

The world knows the story since… seems strange that when David Cameron resigned as Britain’s Prime Minister it was only the 3rd most important story of the day.

And of course when the future is in the head of a poet, it guarantees that there isn’t much room left for poetry.

Here is a review of what I managed and sometimes what I missed in the world of poetry this month.


Cheltenham

I totally missed Cheltenham Poetry Festival, but the month started with a personal invite to a workshop. Unfortunately there was a tragic accident on the motorway in the morning and the only other route to Cheltenham was blocked by overflow traffic, so I didn’t make the workshop. I felt guilty feeling sad about it when there were some poor people who hadn’t survived the day.

Editing

I spent my break editing and haven’t managed a writing day since.

Book Launches

Jenna Plewes had a book launch at the local library on the 6th June. Her latest collection ‘Pull on the Earth’ includes lots of poems about her travels. It was an enjoyable launch.

Pull of the Earth is published by Indigo Dreams and is available for £8.99 + P&P BUY your copy here

See blog post for more details https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/book-launch-pull-of-the-earth-by-jenna-plewes/

Pull of Earth

Open Mics

June saw Jess Davis hosting her final Stirchley Speaks. The monthly poetry night held at the P Café will be hosted by Callum and Jessica Bates from July. This is a full circle for them as they were one of the three headline acts appearing at the first Stirchley Speaks one year ago.

I was lucky enough to perform, it was a great night.

Unfortunately it clashed with David Hart appearing at The Works’ Canteen. I had hoped to make it back to this night held at the Black Country Museum, hosted by Dave Reeves. David Hart meantime, waits on my list of must see.

I also missed HOWL as I was still editing.

I performed at the 42 Festival Special as part of WLF (Worcester LitFest), an enjoyable night themed around the Last Stop on the Worcester Night Tra.

I also had a slot at WLF SpeakEasy which was hosted by the ever delightful Myfanwy Fox and headlined by Angela France. It was great to catch up with both of them and Angela gave me a good Ledbury tip off.

 

Lit Fests & Workshops

Worcester LitFest kicked off on the 10th June with the Poet Laureate Final (I remember the nerves from this time last year), not good memories as far as emotions go. Traumatic in actual fact. This year saw a new venue at Worcester Race Course and instead of 3 finalists being picked from 6 performers, they had 3 finalists striving for the accolade. A wise decision was also made with regard to the amount of other ceremonial achievements celebrated beforehand, making it a shorter event and allowing the poets to suffer less palpitations. I didn’t manage to support in person this year but I am delighted to announce that this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate is Suz Winspear!

Positive Images Festival

On June 12th I headed over to Coventry for a ‘The Atomic Sun’ workshop with Antony Owen, Patron of CND Peace Education UK and Award Winning Poet. Antony and I have poems in an anthology due out later this year published by Shabda Press entitled ‘Nuclear Impact Broken Atoms in our Hands’. It was a deeply moving experience which I will post about separately.

http://www.positiveimagesfestival.co.uk/

https://antonyowenpoetry.wordpress.com/

http://www.cnduk.org/information/peace-education/item/2254-peace-education-patrons-antony-owen

Workshop

Gary Crew is an Australian Author of YA Fiction. His picture books for KS2+ are brilliant and ‘The WaterTower'(1994) formed part of the mantle learning at one of the schools I work at. The Watertower

As part of his time here in the UK (mainly London and Oxford) he was also able to catch a train up to the Midlands and workshop with some very eager children. As part of his contract he had to deliver something to academics (funding), so I was one of about 40 teachers treated to a session with him after work.

I will add a post of information about his writing. It was inspiring for me and I bought a book of his I have not read as poetry instantly sprang to mind, we will see where that leads (after I have finished this first manuscript maybe)!

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/c/gary-crew/

 

Performances

Quiet Compere Worcester LitFest

Friday 17th June I was lucky enough to be part of the QC Event at Worcester LitFest, Sarah Dixon returned for another wonderful night of poetry at The Hive. A different format this time she had featured poets, guest poets and some open mics, pre-booked (like mine) or signed up on the night. Link to follow.

Midsummer Poetry Brothel Caged Arts

Heidi Murphy hosted her 2nd Poetry Brothel at P Café on the 22nd June to celebrate the solstice. I had missed the Solstice Walk (Festival Fringe event), due to family celebrations clashing so it was useful to be able to blow the dust off last year’s solstice poems. No time to pen anything new, but I did have time to raid my wardrobe for florals; trousers, flower in the hair… it was my 3rd Poetry Brothel (am I forming a habit?).

Writing West Midlands

From September the Junior and Senior groups are amalgamating, so I spent an entire Saturday at the library being Jenny Hope’s assistant and then taking my own final session for this term/year in the afternoon. I had hoped to attend A Night at the Museum, WLF event in the evening but after working two groups and with a few hours of limbo, I decided I was too tired and left the city for home.

So there is June in rather a big nutshell – and of course, I am still writing NaPoWriMo poems (from April prompts)…

pen sarah wilko anderson Happy writing! x

Book Launch – Pull of the Earth by Jenna Plewes

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On June 6th I attended Jenna’s Book Launch for her latest collection ‘Pull of the Earth’, published by Indigo Dreams. I bought my copy before the launch and resisted the temptation to delve right in. I wanted to hear the selected poems first hand.

Pull of Earth ‘Pull on the Earth’ includes lots of poems about her travels, I only hope I see some parts of her world one day. It was an enjoyable launch. Her main launch took place in St. John’s Church at the weekend, but clashed with me working for WWM.

Pull of the Earth is published by Indigo Dreams and is available for £8.99 + P&P

BUY your copy here

This collection is a celebration of the natural world. It falls into two sections, a series of poems that explore the poet’s reactions to travelling to ‘places where your spirit soars’ and a second section that examines the small and unremarkable things around her and illuminates them.

In the first section she gives the reader binoculars and takes them across the world and in the second half she gives them a magnifying glass to look at the world under their feet.  

  © 2016 Indigo Dreams

You can read a selection of Jenna’s poetry on the Indigo Dreams website (link above), or by exploring Jenna’s webpage http://jennaplewes.com/

Jenna Plewes

RELATED LINKS:

In the Booklight Sarah James

Review of May

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May Review

May (like April) was a funny month of missing events I had planned to attend. My main focus returned to writing, more precisely editing which I find harder and less fun than creating, it is a bit like cleaning (which I also despise) but the end result of fresh and better is rewarding. I enjoy re-reading a tighter collection, but the editing time is like moving rocks with bare hands! I have to force myself into editing mode. It isn’t about being precious over my darlings, I learnt to kill them in my first year (2013), it is just the effort of crafting, the exhausted mind, the energy needed – and time.

Week 1

May started with a Bank Holiday weekend and Mr G and I went to see Mark Lanegan perform (our 3rd time), the next day at work was hard and followed by an evening at Stirchley Speaks, where Mike Alma was one of the featured poets. I was glad I managed to make it over to support him, it was (as always) a great night, filled with warmth and energy.

Next month is Jess Davies’ last month hosting before she moves on to her new exciting plan of events and workshops. She has had an exceptional year at the P Café, I am sure Callum Bate and his sister, Melissa, will do well hosting this established spoken word night when they take over in the summer and I wish them luck. They are dynamic performers themselves and featured as ‘Prime Poetry’ at the first Stirchley Speaks back in 2015.

An exciting Friday Night (6th May) saw Kathy Gee’s Book Launch, her first collection, published by V Press. It was at Avoncroft Museum , I hadn’t been there for  years and it was the PERFECT venue. Buy a copy here Book of Bones It was a wonderful evening of poetry in the Long Room. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/book-of-bones-kathy-gee/

I missed several writing events over the weekend as Mr G and I went to a Kate Bush Tribute, which was amazing. ‘Cloudbusting‘ are the UKs longest running Kate Bush tribute. Mr G is a total fan of Bush, she never hit my radar (being slightly younger), of course I knew of her – who doesn’t! As an adult I appreciate the poetry of her music and her wildly free artistry.

The singer of Cloudbusting was amazing, what she could do with her voice! Incredible. We loved every minute, they were down a guitarist and still it was exceptional. I can only imagine how good the full band would have been. What was lovely was her references to Kate and seeing what big fans of her music they all were.

Week 2

I finally made it back to SpeakEasy (12th May) in there new home, Café Bliss, a venue I love so much I am currently trying to organise a party there! It was great to hear everyone again, Spoz was the featured poet and he brought lots of his Calais Refugee poetry with him for a hard hitting set. It was good to catch up with him, as he is having a busy year including touring TEN LETTERS, which I was lucky enough to catch in Birmingham. Link to follow.

We have also been in our lovely home for 3 years now (still with lots to do), this made me appreciate that I have been living the creative dream for a while. This will always be my Poetry house. I feel grateful, although due to getting the house straightened out and working on my manuscript I have only managed to carve writing time out recently and long for the weeks to find structure again, where I can manage a writing day/ days.

Week 3

Mum and I experienced the World Premiere of Liam Scarlett’s amazing new ballet ‘Frankenstein’, performed by the Royal Opera House in association with San Francisco Ballet (I stayed just up the road from the dance school on one of my US trips)! I felt like I was watching the next BIG thing, this ballet steps into the shoes of a 21st Century The Rite of Spring, with regard to the importance of what Scarlett has achieved. I only hope it is studied in years to come. Bravo to the ROH for taking the risk, Scarlett is an immensely talented 30 year old (jealous). I was part of something special that night and it bore a new ambition. One day I hope my writing may become a ballet (I danced until my 20s).

http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/frankenstein-by-liam-scarlett

On the 19th I took part in Worcester’s first WLF Poetry Salon, based on the European Poetry Brothel concept. This was the brainchild of Charley Barnes and was an exciting night at the Rectifying House. I shared my booth with Maggie Doyle and a great time was had by performers and listeners alike. Link to follow.

May 20th saw the end of Mental Health week, something which is close to my heart as it was own demise which brought me back to writing from a depression diary to the world of poetry. Leisa Taylor/ Woo Feminista took over Café Bliss with a night of Spoken Word, where brave poets shared more than words and stories. It was incredibly moving.

The evening after (21st May) I performed a set for Arts Week in Parks Café, as part of the Poetry Extravaganza.

Week 4

I finally made it to a Stanza meeting after missing several months. It was great to reconnect although I had been busy with work and my editing brain was fairly useless. I took a poem which was inspired by a Nano poem prompt in a roundabout way.

I didn’t get a chance to submit anything this month, I didn’t even finish my action plan for May. My main focus was editing my manuscript and I put enough time into that to let it have some rest time before coming back to it for further reading.

I missed Cheltenham Poetry Festival completely (Wenlock & Stratford too) and as I write this I have so far missed all earmarked events at my local festival, Worcester LitFest – look out for some posts on this too.

The past 18months of work on my pamphlet has taught me lots on the process, I am also becoming aware that the focus and energy needed to achieve such things means sacrifices, including festival tickets. Still I will focus on the petrol I have saved and how much smaller my carbon footprint will be this year – silver linings!

I missed a photo shoot for the poetry E-book with Shakti Women, as my car was failing its MOT at the time! I have a photographer willing to take head shots now though, all is not lost. If only I could lose my double chin(s)!

I had two personal invites to workshops in June from poets I respect and was very touched to have been thought of. I signed a poetry contract for Shabda Press, three poems in the up and coming Nuclear Impact Anthology, Broken Atoms in Our Hands. There is nothing like signing contracts to make you feel like a real writer.

I performed at 42 – where fairly hilariously most of us worked the theme of the evening into lines in our poems or stories ‘Blacker than the Night’- by the time I performed in the 2nd half people were listening for the theme punchline I think.

It was also a platform for me to perform one of my Nuclear poems, the message is important and the places you can share such material is limited.

It was a great night. Thoroughly enjoyed.

I am certainly back in my poetry skin after a few wobbly months and look forward to the upcoming festivals and booked performances of the summer.

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May Disappears Down the Rabbit Hole

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I feel a little like a falling Alice. Life has been busy, work has been busy, my mind has been busy, there have been days I have conquered massive challenges and others where I have felt tiny.

It is festival season and although I am gearing up for several performances, I wanted to carve out time for blog updates. I have a seriously long list of events and experiences to share, many will have wait in line. I am still getting over the fact that I haven’t posted anything in a while.

I will gather the month of May and wrap it up in Maypole ribbons as a review and then add links if anything gets a blog post of it own. At least it is another rainy day and I can tie myself to the desk without looking longing at blue skies!

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© Debbie Aldous 2015

 

NaPoWriMo Day 11 Abstract Observation

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Our poet in translation for today is Afghanistan’s Shakila Azizzada. She’s known for her delicate and at the same time passionate love poems – check out the not-exactly-racy-but-still-sizzling poem “Cat Lying in Wait,” along with several others, at the link above.

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Today’s prompt encouraged close description of a place or an object with a surprise endline that seemingly doesn’t connect or fit to the object/place description. I’m hoping you’ll achieve. An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details. 

Let’s have a go!

I found this challenging, although using my empty coffee cup was perhaps not the most inspiring object on the desk.

I have chosen to share part of the middle of the poem and the endline – I guess this challenge doesn’t translate without reading the full poem. I am not perfectly happy with it at this stage though.

The base of the glass contains

puddles of condensation

residue of hot waking liquid.

A shallow circle of tan brown moves

when disturbed.

 

 

the day patches duller than swirling bulb.