Daily Archives: February 19, 2014

Desk Day – Writing Poetry, Learning Poems and Calming Butterflies!


I have spent time today learning my set for tomorrow night. No new material being written for my first set at Hit The Ode, but all of it to be performed by heart. Watching the YouTube videos I see a range of styles and some people taking printed word onto the stage (as is the norm for most spoken word/ open mic nights) – they are all poems I have performed before in Cheltenham and Worcester. I have in the past 5 months of performing attempted different material at each event, aware that the poetry world is a small one and the audience is often shared.

However, if I am going to hone and polish my performance this would be a very tall order every time. Besides I have come to realise that some people like to hear material being repeated.

I have learnt half my set, the other half I am a little shaky on – sounds impressive in a morning – but it is only 3 poems long!

I am spending a lot of time addressing the butterflies in my tummy and working through household chores by way of avoiding the reality of my day before the big one.

Hit the Ode is a major event, international acts are booked each month and Julie Boden is one of the big names on stage tomorrow. Which is great because she inspires me, but I also know she is watching…. it was her night in Leamington, last October when I picked up the mic again after 15 years away from spoken word events. 17 weeks later she will hear how I have been getting on as well as tales of unconditional commitment, cakes and the Tube!

In addition to all this preparation, I am also attempting to write new material for the Poetry for Lunch event which (being half term) need to be child friendly or child centred!

I am leaving Friday poetry until Friday – a little risky but Najma now has 15 performers so we only get a 5 minute slot, that’s 2 poems possibly 3 and I already have The Fourth Wall to perform.

hit 1 Hit the Ode is a night many ‘proper poets’ (published, successful, no ‘day job’ poets) have been loudly encouraging me to go and do! I am hoping that the audience is a kind one and that I have prepared a wide enough range of poems to suit the tastes of many….




Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Join us! We have poems. Poems which vibrate when they have a message for you. Poems with cheese and gravy. Poems which may be slightly uncomfortable, but make you look great. Good poems. Come and get them!
Featuring Julie Boden.
A former teacher, and Creative Advisor, Julie Boden has for the last ten years worked full time as a poet. She is Midlands based and travels nationally and internationally delivering workshops, conducting readings, performing, lecturing and judging poetry competitions. Julie is a Birmingham Poet Laureate (2002-2003), Director of Poetry Central, Poet in Residence at Symphony Hall, a Director of Warwick Words festival.
Based in the Midlands, Julie travels nationally and internationally delivering workshops, conducting readings, performing, lecturing, mentoring and judging poetry competitions.
Ann Porro
Ann Porro writes deadly serious comic poetry, blues monologues and oblique observations on the outlandish nature of ordinary existence. She is Tyneside Cinema’s Open Slam Champion 2011, SLAMalgamate 2014 winner, and regularly performs at venues all over the North-East. Her first collection, ‘Letter From an Unknown Dog’, was released by Zebra Publishing in May 2013. “From the real to the surreal in the turn of a page!” Live Theatre Newcastle “Her poetry, like the public performances of her work is energising, sometimes humorous and always entertaining.” Jeff Price, Editor, Zebra Publishing
Paula Varjack
With her Berlin postcode, Ghanaian mother, British Father and dual nationality (British/American), it’s probably easiest to say Paula is from a lot of places, but particularly London, Washington Dc and Berlin. Trained as a filmmaker in London, she ran away from her career in television, to pursue documentary filmmaking in Berlin. Within months she emerged as a performance poet (she’s not quite sure how it happened either) She is as likely to perform at a gallery or cabaret night, as at a poetry slam. 

and… me! 🙂



Poetry Alight – A Missed Opportunity


As you will know if you read my blog posts this week starts to get busy tomorrow and doesn’t really stop much until the end of the month, so over the past few days I have been attempting to reserve some energy.

Last month I discovered the wonderfully talented Michelle Crosbie had her debut headlining performance alongside Jo Bell and Matt Merritt.

Michelle Crosbie is an emerging Midlands poet whose stage presence and rehearsed reading has delighted audiences from Worcester to Wolverhampton, engaging and compelling, Michelle is an irresistible live performer.

It was originally booked for a different night and in my confusion I suddenly found out yesterday it was that evening. I sadly, didn’t make it. Sounds like it was a great night and may be my 2nd big regret of the year…. nights like this take a lot out of me though and with 4 other gigs lined up this week, I know I made the SENSIBLE decision.

Would have been great to go and support Michelle… I am sure there will be more opportunities to.

Gary Longden hosts Poetry Alight, a quarterly spoken word event in Staffordshire. One I hope to attend at some point.

1 scottish poet

Jo Bell is one of the UK’s leading poets, and the winner of the Charles Causley Poetry Prize 2013, a past Director of National Poetry Day, incumbent National Canal Poet Laureate, a doyenne of the festival circuit when performing, and a stalwart supporter of festivals, not least in her capacity as trustee of the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Jo’s poetry is accessible but never dumbed down, challenging but always within reach. 

Matt Merritt is a journalist, historian, ornithologist and poet. He lives near Leicester, England, and writes (and reads lots of) poetry. His  new collection, The Elephant Tests, is out now from Nine Arches Press. Pithy and  rounded his writing is a delight.