Daily Archives: July 29, 2014

52 Meet and Perform for the Stratford Poetry Festival

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52 The Event

52 by bernie briggs  © Bernie Briggs 2014

 

Jo Bell – creator of 52 and all round people’s goddess of poetry was this year’s resident poet for the Stratford Festival. She organised the virtual poets of 52 to meet up for a picnic at Hall’s Croft (the house of her residency) on Sunday 20th July, I cannot believe it was just 9 short days ago. Writing this blog post (which won’t look like it), has taken hours and brought all the excitement back to the surface again! Julie Gardener likened it to that strange state when you wake up from an anesthetic, relieved you are alive and a little out of your body and mind.

It was a superb day. The word of 52 has spread across the Midlands well, I had a small part to play in that – and so many local known poets were there – it was great to meet all the other 52ers, although I felt a bit anxious on the day (find me a poet who didn’t!) and didn’t mix as well as I wish I had. There were people I didn’t even get to talk to and some of them regularly comment on the poetry I post. Shame on me. All in the same boat a bit by the time we got to the pub at the end of the day hot, sweaty, sun burnt and thriving on adrenalin  there were 3 different parts of the pub people sat in so mixing with everyone was somewhat challenging – even saying goodbye to Jo at the end of the day was no mean feat as she was wedged between balcony and table – perhaps she was fed up of hugging people by then!

Shall I start at the beginning?

52 raffle  52 Jess Davies Halls croft© Jess Davies 2014

We all met in the gardens at Hall’s Croft for a picnic, Jo had moving speeches to make and treated us all to a poem. Then there was a free raffle, with bountiful journals and poetry/ writing books being gifted and some silly prizes too. I won the little felt penguin who is now sitting quite happily on the book shelves surrounded by all the books I have bought this past 10 months back in my poetry skin (helping the poetry ecology as Jo would say)! 52 picnic 3

Jo had some very special socks made by Liz Williamson, to go with her sock poem 52 photo by Bernie Briggs and during the speeches at certain points Jo sported a colander on her head in honour of Trish Traynor who sports one on her profile picture. Trish couldn’t make the event. Glasses were raised in a toast to absent friends (not dearly departed) just those who couldn’t get to Stratford for this event.52 Liz's magic socks Williamson 52 jo by rachael clyne

Then the mingling began. Excitement grew as our names were put into the colander (there were 54 poets in attendance I think) room to hear 20 of us at The Shakespeare Centre, for the ‘Poetry from 52’ event. Open to the public and many attended who weren’t 52 picnickers. The biggest audience at the centre for the poetry festival apparently.

52 picnic52 picnic452 picnic Hilary52 picnic A52 picnic 5 jess davies52 picnic 3

52 Polly and I52 Jess davies152 Holly Magill, Elizabeth Williamson, Ruth Stacey, Tessa Lowe, Carly Etherington, Julie Gardner, Polly Robinson and Nina Simon

Most of us didn’t even see the names coming out but later on Jo announced them. I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t lucky enough to win the beautiful journal but I did win a spot for the 52 event.

52 colander of joy52 tess and i The Lucky Dance Tessa Lowe and I performed around it might have helped!

I had only taken 2 short poems to choose from – some 52ers had taken many and there was a flurry of paper and gadgets as people decided what to read. There was also a reserve list of poets. As poets are lovely creatures, we all kept our turns short, avoided hefty introductions and left the stage with enough space for all the reserve list and more – some on the spot (brave) poets performed.

The Shakespeare Centre – 52 Do Stratford

© Sarah Bryson 2014

© Sarah Bryson 2014

It was an amazing hour listening to entertaining and touching poetry, we have spent the year reading it and critiquing it from the safety of a screen but watching the poet’s perform their own words was beyond a powerful experience.

The Poet’s who performed were;

Carly Etherington, Natalie Baron,  John Mícheál Alwyine-Mosely, Sally Evans, Julie Gardner, Ruth Stacey, Nina Lewis, Rachael Clyne, Janice Windle, Carole Bromley, Nicky Phillips, Sue Simms, Simon Williams, Donell Dempsy, Nina Simon, Norman Hadley, Kathy Gee, Bernie Briggs, Tom Sastry and John Lanyon.

52 Carly Etherington 52 Natalie Baron 52 John Mícheál Alwyine-Mosely 52 sally Evans 52 Julie Gardner 52 Ruth Stacey 52 me

52 Rachael Clyne 52 Janice Windle 52 carole bromley 52 nicky phillips 52 sue simms 52 Simon Williams 52 Donall Dempsey

52 Nina Simon 52 Norman Hadley 52 Kathy Gee 52 Bernie Briggs flatpack furniture 52 Tom Sastry 52 John Lanyon

Then we had time for the Poets in Reserve;

Clive Dee, Sarah Watkins, Sarah Bryson, Hilary Robinson,

52 clive dee 52 sarah watkinson 52 sarah Bryson 52 Hilary Robinson

And finally due to no one taking too much time or limelight (egos left melting on picnic rugs), we even had time for some wonderful on the spot poets and I think you can tell they enjoyed a surprise chance of sharing their 52 poetry.

Myfanwy Fox, Susan Taylor,& Tessa Lowe

52 Myfanwy Fox 52 Susan Taylor 52 Tessa Lowe

52 shakespeare centre252 Shakespeare centre52 shakespeare centre 352 shakespeare centre 552 shakespeare centre 4

And the only way to follow that…. a Flash Mob Shakespeare style!

After the event at the centre we all met outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace (next door) for a Flash mob!

52 Hilary Robinson Flash mob

This flash mob was rather Stratford in style, in as far as it was announced and rehearsed! We read Sonnet 18 – another wonderful experience.

And to round off the event we all headed for the Dirty Duck pub down by the river,52 a crocodile of poets by myfanwy for more food, drinks and conversation. I didn’t really want to leave but Mr G had promised to cook a roast dinner and I had visions of mine being eaten too! So, eventually I had to tear myself away.

52 river pubJulie-Boden, Mary-Norton-Gilonne, Bernie-Howley, Roz-Goddard-and-Julie-Gardner

52 hardcore party goers

The 52 website – formerly ONLY for poetry and DEFINITELY not for conversation threads was inundated with euphoric poets singing everyone’s praises and raving about the spectacular day and hardly mentioning sunburn at all!

A joy and honour to be part of such a talented group of poets!

52 Jo bell Many thanks, Jo Bell.

I must mention Jonathan Davidson from Writing West Midlands as he organised the Poetry Festival and made sure events ran smoothly! Great job, Sir and Mary Norton Gilonne, who came across from France to celebrate this special day! WOW! 52ers travelled from all the UK, I was lucky to live so close!

Here for your viewing pleasure is one of the performances.

 

52 Donall Dempsey

 

Donal

Donal Dempsey performing his Proverb poem to the delight of the audience in The Shakespeare Centre.

 

Submissions, Picnics (Poetry ones!), Missed Events and New Ventures

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The Week Off

Mr G took last week off work so we could do some work on the house and garden together and spend some time enjoying ourselves, I don’t think we will be going away on a proper summer holiday, fortunately the weather has been amazing and I won’t moan when it turns overcast as I have a ton of things INSIDE to be getting on with over the summer break.

 

New Work

The good news this week is I have already secured 1 job for the new term, it doesn’t offer many hours but will cover my part of the mortgage payment at least, as far as bills, food shopping, car expenses and spending money go, I will have to pick up a few more days work every week. But having that 1st contract means I won’t end up with a month of no work. September is not a particularly busy month for us.

 

4 Day Run of Events – Picnics (Poetry ones)

At the tail end of the week before I went to Coventry for Antony Owen’s book launch, then Birmingham to promote Restless Bones Poetry Anthology (published and launching in 3 weeks!), then took a drive up to Shropshire to go to Poetry on The Farm – an event organised by Jean Atkin to celebrate the end of her 3 month residency at Acton Scott Farm. Then on the Sunday I had an EPIC day – I have not had time to blog post it yet and I cannot wait to do so. Jo Bell was poet in residence at Hall’s Croft for Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Literature Festival, she also started ’52’, you will remember me posting about it in the New Year, we all met up for a picnic – over 52 of us, she has over 500 members in 52 now. It was an amazing day that involved picnics, raffle prizes, poets, reading 52 poems at The Shakespeare Centre to a festival audience, flash mobbing outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace (a sonnet of course!) and then not getting drunk in The Dirty Duck pub, by the river.

 

Watch Out for the 52 Post

I WILL write about it in a separate post, the Acton Scott post has just taken a couple of hours to write and put together, it is now getting late (past midnight) and I have some ACTUAL writing to do. Look out for the 52 post.

During the next week mainly because I was exhausted from the adrenalin of a 4 day run and also because Mr G had booked time off to be together, I didn’t go to any poetry events.

 

Missed Events

On Monday I missed Shindig in Leicester, I was invited and originally began performance poetry in Leicester in the 90s. I will go another time when I haven’t already covered 100s of miles the previous few days.

Tuesday (and I am still gutted about this) I was very tired and had actually fallen asleep when I should have been hitting the road. I missed Poetry Bites in Birmingham, always a great night, organised and hosted by Jacqui Rowe. Anthony and Joseph were there headlining and promoting ‘The Year I Loved England’, (I had already seen them in Coventry), Matt Windle  was the other headliner, always a pleasure (I am seeing him in Kidderminster in a few weeks) and Sammy Joe, who I have seen before, but it would have been good to see her again, plus all the floor spots, it was a cracking night by all accounts and I missed it.

Friday there was a night write event hosted by Jo Bell as part of the Stratford festival that I would have loved to have parted money for, my concern was staying awake 10pm to 6 am – I have spent months attempting to regulate my sleep, to make sure I am awake during the day and the knock on situation after breaking this pattern would be equivalent to jet lag. The decision was made for me when we went up to the garden in the afternoon and enjoyed some cold, crisp wine. Another year maybe.

Saturday there was a performance in the Stratford that I wanted to see.

Sunday there was Sunday Xpress in Birmingham and Al Barz facilitated a one off Poetry in the Park in Walsall. There was also a showing of ‘Tales of the Tat Man’ David Calcutt’s latest venture in Birmingham at tea time.

Phew! A week of activities and I didn’t manage any of them.

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A week of Work- Gardens – Sun – Gas Men, Shopping, Theatre, Reading & Writing

I was still working at the beginning of the week, we spent some time running errands and whilst I was at work Mr G bravely tackled the back garden, completely transformed by the time I came home. We had a fire that evening and the neighbour sat out with us in the garden, although he went in about 3 hours before we did.

On Tuesday after I had tutored we spent time sunbathing on our new sun loungers in the garden and then watched a box set that we haven’t seen for ages, we managed to get onto the next season.

Midweek, we had the excitement of a house full of Gas Men changing meters and discovering holes we shouldn’t have had! The oven works better and poor Mr G spent the whole time out in the baking sun tidying up the front garden – which now looks amazing! A warm welcome. Again once the house was empty we went to sit outside.

© National Theatre 2014

© National Theatre 2014

In the evening my mum and I went to the Arts Centre to see the National Theatre production of Skylight. I have never watched a theatrical performance on a screen before (wonders of the digital world) but with the cuts to Arts funding this allows people who don’t live in London to see the shows. It was more like watching it live on stage than a cinematic experience would be. I loved it. (And the Arts Centre has Air con.- most places, including our home, don’t – because it is rarely this hot or dry for this length of time in the UK. So that was a real treat!)

I also took a couple of shopping trips for summer clothes and caught up reading my writing magazine, I have been an issue behind pretty much the whole of 2014, one day I read the July issue and then over the weekend read the August issue, freeing my time up to write now for a couple of weeks before the next issue arrives!

I also had submissions to make – one for a project very close to me, I wrote three pieces for that in the end and the other was 3 poems, 1 written especially and the other 2 heavily rewritten to a publication I have previously been rejected from, fingers crossed – we will see.

We discovered a new garden centre and spent an afternoon choosing plants for the garden display. We will be going back there soon.

We have frogs in our pond and the plants are establishing themselves well around it.

We have eaten lovely home-grown salad potatoes and beans, we are waiting on the tomatoes – they won’t be long. We have had strawberries & pak choi already, the cucumbers are growing and we have decided we need to give the allotment up. We have done it for 5 years and it was good when we had no garden of our own, but now we have the house project and a garden that needs constant TLC and I am gallivanting off into the world of words all the time, we just cannot find regular time to go and tend the plot. We never had the right tools, as we were very ‘natural’ harvesters, this meant jobs done in no time with machinery were taking forever with tools not fit for purpose. It has been a big decision, but there is room to grow some stuff in the garden and at least this way there will be less waste.

I had a brilliant time with Mr G, lovely to have the company, much missed today when he went back to work… (although my mum popped in for a catch up), Mr G is off again soon, although the poetry schedule won’t be abandoned next time, we are hoping to make a start on the house.

 

Current Submissions

I am currently working on submissions that have a tight deadline (of a few days) – a one act play/ monologue and a short story. Fingers crossed I planned and mapped out plot/action and characters today. I am hoping to write them tomorrow, edit and redraft/ proof and submit on Wednesday! Not ideal, but having been so far behind on magazine issues, have only just discovered the opportunities.

work

This week I have a Poetry Party tomorrow, Drummonds 42 event on Wednesday (performing), a possible road-trip to Wales, hoping to finish the week off with a workshop.

If the road-trip works out – I will miss OXJAM Slam which is a charity fundraiser (OXFAM) and a night celebrating the life and words of Maya Angelou.

Hope you will understand now why my posts have been infrequent this month – will try harder to regularly post in August as my writing life will be getting very exciting!

 

Happy writing x