Daily Archives: June 14, 2014

My Weekly Jaunt to (Virtual) College: Writing 101 #Week 2 Day 6: Character

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I knew when I signed up for this month’s daily post challenge that I would inevitably fall behind the deadlines, this means that I can’t share my links as the threads have closed on the mothersite! However, bear with me, I am posting the challenges in this evening before the football!

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Day 6: A Character Building Experience

Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalizations!

– Anton Chekhov, Letter to Alexander Chekhov; May 10, 1886

Describing people — whether real or fictional — in a way that channels their true essence is an invaluable skill for any writer. Through the careful accumulation of details, great authors morph their words into vivid, flesh-and-bones creations in our minds. How can you go about shaping your portrait of a person? Some ideas to explore:

Don’t just list their features. Tell us something about how their physical appearance shapes the way they act and engage with others. For example, see how the author of this moving photo essay, which documents the final weeks of a woman dying of cancer, captures the kernel of the woman’s spirit with a short, masterful statement:

Her eyes told stories that her voice didn’t have the power to articulate and she had a kindness that immediately made me feel like we had been friends for years.

Give us a glimpse of what makes this person unique. We all have our own quirks, mannerisms, and individual gestures, both physical and linguistic. If you’re looking for inspiration, read this blogger’s portrait of her French host family — after reading the first two paragraphs, you already have intimate knowledge of who these people are and what drives them.

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There are so many people to choose from, I would write about my solicitor who opened up conversation about my writing and has since recommended some writing sites to me. He seemed genuinely interested in the work I do as a writer even after I told him there is no money in it. I could write about countless headliners and writers I have met this year at events and festivals. I could write about my friend’s son who is now suddenly two and so when meeting him again was like a stranger to me, a wonderfully articulate, playful one! The endless stream of new people I meet through work…. and to think I questioned whether I had met anybody new this year when I first saw this prompt!

I have chosen.

Our paths crossed through poetry, back in the year. She was new to the whole idea and yet confident enough to come and talk to us after the show, it reminded me of theatre and how people would come to the Stage Door, because her questions were in awe and yet a few short months later she had become a master.

Tutored those less confident and created a character all of her own. A character whose wardrobe has taken over an entire room at home.

The first thing I ever noticed was her blonde hair and leather, next how tiny she was, not short but incredibly slender, she has one of those bodies that God just gives out occasionally I thought when I first met her, I have since found out about her ice-cream diet and zumba habit! I think what most people noticed in the early days was her blonde hair and figure, male and female. Now (in character) I think they will notice the hairpiece first, the tall pantomime/Regency style wig that provides a platform for all manor of props, adds several feet to her stature and seems to have a life of its own. The body now is scantily clad, I admire the confidence to perform in less than a poetry dress… then I think if God had given me that body I would dress it with love too.

In those early days she learnt a lot, collected contacts like china figures, knew what she was doing, or maybe she didn’t and it all just evolved and happened. She came far fast, in the super highway lane, doing even more gigs than me. Her act crossed the lines between performance art and poetry and later comedy, the character has taken on a life of its own.

I wonder about the people who have only met the character – what they must think. I know the girl underneath, some of her backstory. The edges are hidden well and with reason, but I am proud that she trusts me with the truth and she can.

She came to mind as the most interesting and unique person I have met this year, although parts of my own past run parallel and I know there is a whole world of identical stories out there, I had never known someone with such strength. Many of us build it back up over time, she seemed to be armed with it. Boudicca. I already know she will be okay and from all of the darkness has come this new, new lease of life. She had never performed or written poetry before and here she is doing both amazingly well!

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Photograph Tara Buckley – The Tea Project

Whenever we talk her eyes are wide and listening, she is someone who can (despite the odds) grab hold of life’s lighter moments and sails away on calm waters when all around her lies noise and carnage, she seems to rise above and come out shining. This is probably not how she feels or sees her own life.

She has an exciting energy and there is always a frantic sharing of tales as we catch up with each others lives beyond the social media updates and gig lists. She is fun. A fun-loving person who has brought lots of light into my world!

Vlad Mackevic’s Open Mic; Frightening, Funny, Foolish – Friday 13th

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Last night I went to York’s Bakery, it has been ages since I performed in Birmingham and I was looking forward to reuniting with my friends, Vlad Mackevic (who I met at Mouth & Music a few months ago) decided to host a Friday 13th evening of Spoken Word and Music. I only found out about it a few days ago and eagerly watched the list of who was joining and it was lovely to see that I knew many of them.

The bakery was busy with the post-evening rush when we started, despite the ‘atmospheric noise of coffee machines’ it was a good evening and I look forward to the next one, in the Coffee Lounge – which I think has a separate space for performing if it is the one I am thinking about.

Lots of poets took to the stage and the evening was finished off with music from Superlicious Ms T.

I enjoyed looking through my file for the darker pieces, chose something dark, something weird (and a bit yukky) and something scary. My Zombie Poem (written for theme for 42) had an outing again – I hadn’t imagined it would fit into a reading more than once a year! Femi, asked how many poems I was reading and begged for a 4th one – Vlad took my plea from the stage to do 4 – I read my poem about Martha Graham (her depression) written for last week’s 52. It is quite long to read and difficult when competing over noise.

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I enjoyed the evening! Others did too.

Tessa Lowe wrote a poem about the full moon – which won’t fall on Friday the 13th again until 2049 and by then she will be 103! Glyn Phillips wrote about Friday the 13th in a very humorous poem, the performers were;

Neth Brown,

Olufemi Abidogun,

Tessa Lowe,

Sabina Luciana Tcaciuc,

Chris Akers,

Nina Lewis,

CabdiQani Osman Hassann

Jasmine Gardosi,

Ines McDonald,

Andrea Smith as Swingerella,

Martin Spruce,

Glyn Phillips

The Supercilious Ms T and her Band of Pleasure Dandies.

I don’t have photos of every performance awaiting some professional shots, here’s a flavour from my phone!

 Vlad Femi Femi Vlad Chris  Chris

vlad Jasmine Jasmine Vlad Tessa Tessa

                                                                                                                                               Vlad Swing    Swingerella

 Vlad Glyn Glyn Vlad Super Ms T Supercilious Ms T

     Vlad1 and Vlad himself!

Poet Laureate Book Launch – Barred

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Thursday night was the book launch of Tim Cranmore’s volume of poetry, he is coming to the end of his Laureateship, the new Poet Laureate of Worcester will be announced on the 20th June at the Guildhall, I am attending this ceremony, I have 4 friends in the final. I have turned down the opportunity to perform in Birmingham to go and support the finalists and also to have a different experience.

Tim Cranmore is a poet with a sense of humour (read his write up for this event*) and also a talented musician/ vegetable player – he can make a carrot sound like a piccolo!

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Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Tim Cranmore, launches his book of poetry ‘Barred’ at the Old Rec with support from members of Worcester Writers’ Circle who perform ‘Chatterton’ a series of poems based on Henry Wallis’s painting ‘The Death of Lord Chatterton’ by Polly Robinson.

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His new book is called Barred (play on words, Bard and all that) he performed many of the poems you will find in this book, it was a great night. Tim’s book is published by Black Pear Press and he was kind enough to invite Polly Robinson to promote her latest pamphlet, ‘Chatterton’. I missed her performing it at 42 as I was in Birmingham at Saints and Sinners the same evening.

She had asked members of Worcester Writers’ Circle to read the different parts, it was a grand reading.

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Award winning novelist, Carrie Rubin said, ‘Chatterton – A Series of Poems explores loved ones’ possible reactions to young Thomas Chatterton’s death, using Henry Wallis’s painting Death of Lord Thomas Chatterton as a launching point. The verses are wonderfully visceral, and I enjoyed learning about this tragic young lad. The poem by “The Mother” about broke my heart. Only Ms. Robinson could get me to read a collection of themed poems. And I’m so glad I did!’

Chris Moran wrote to say, ‘Just to let you know your books arrived and I have totally devoured mine! I shall read it again and again. I’m looking forward to sending it to my friend in America…’

Poet Alex Carr-Malcolm said, ‘If you haven’t already ordered a copy, I can thoroughly recommend this collection. What a unique idea to look at many viewpoints. Each with their own take on the life and death of Chatterton. Beautiful poetry, an anthology that you will delve into again and again. Thought provoking and profound – a must for every collection.’

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imagesCAJBX1JQ(not actual price)

 

Both books are available here;

Barred

 

Chatterton

A limited first edition of 50 copies of this pamphlet signed by the author.

UK postage: Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Non-UK postage:

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Tim Cranmore

 

 

WLF – Worcester LitFest kicks off on the 20th June and I can’t wait to get involved!

Mouth & Music Tuesday 10th: New Material – Great Night!

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Another wonderful evening of spoken word and music. The theme this week was ‘adjectives’, I wrote my poems late on Monday night, using lists of adjectives for the initial stimuli.

They went down well, one serious one about mental health and a humorous one about form filling.

MM june I had seen Peter Wyton at Confab Cabaret earlier this year, a funny Gloucester poet, he has published a number of books and is a prize-winning poet who has appeared at Cheltenham Literature Festival, Glastonbury and Ledbury. He also reached the final of Radio 4’s first Poetry Slam.

Bethany Weimers was great, she is doing a tour of the area at the moment, Merlin her partner is a painter and Tim Scarborough and Suz Winspear are now the proud owners of personalised artwork, them performing. Sadly I was on before he picked up his paintbrush! I would have loved to buy one, that would have made my night.

This month we even had a write up on the Mouth and Music page, traditionally it has just been the headliners who feature in the review. Chuffed with this mention, so am pasting the review here;

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Every M&M has its own character because each one is a unique combination of people. Last night had a really special quality to it. At least half of the 14 open mic-ers performed something brand new and there was some cracking humorous stuff from Nina Lewis, Mike Alma and Fergus McGonigal in particular. Billy Spakemon drew us into his dark Black Country tale and Tim Scarborough brought his own recorded backing for a very moving, personal piece. Thanks to all open mic performers for adding to the mix and apologies to Suz who hadn’t been warned about the Cinderella chimes ….

Featured poet Peter Wyton gave us a splendid set which was hilarious throughout. He had us hanging on every word. Bethany Weimers drew us into her delicate guitar playing and expressive singing. Her songs are intensely powerful and intimate. Both she and Peter stood near the audience, foregoing stage and mic and this enhanced a feeling of ‘sharing’ rather than ‘performing’.

Bethany’s partner Merlin was busy secretly sketching throughout the evening. Suz and Tim are now proud owners of brilliantly evocative drawings of themselves in action on stage. Merlin also gave us the drawing below. Thanks Merlin! (Merlin Porter Arts)

As an experiment, we put Bethany on midway through the second half. It seemed to work. This meant that Peter Williams’ beautiful song somehow echoed the mood created by Bethany. Peter will be our featured musician in October. Sarah finished with a poem heralding next month’s theme – Summer! Thanks to everyone who was there last night. See you in July!

© Mouth & Music (Wastie/Tamar) June 2014

 

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Bethany Weimer

© Peter Williams June 2014