Monthly Archives: June 2017

World Refugee Day June 20th – Submit Poems

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June 20th is World Refugee Day an international observance dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.

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Stock Photo  © David Snyder

As Worcestershire Poet Laureate I invite you to write poems about the refugee crisis or indeed experience. Selected poems will be published here  https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/

Send your submissions to worcspl[at]gmail[dot]com by 9pm (GMT) on Tuesday 20th June.

Include a short bio (50 words), in addition, let us know where you live.

Please send poems in body of email or as attached Word doc.

Max. of 3 poems

Previously published work will be considered, you must retain the rights and include full acknowledgement of the publication.

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If you are unlikely to submit work please sign a petition http://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/us/


To help (if you need it) I have gathered these websites and images on the webpages could be used as initial stimuli.

http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/20/world-refugee-day-which-images-make-you-stop-and-think/

http://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/

https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/world-refugee-day

 

Worcester LitFest Reaches the Final Weekend

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The 7th Worcester LitFest has reached the final weekend. If you haven’t managed to get to Worcester yet, you have 48 hours left! On your marks…

I have spent the past 3 days working on a new website/blog for all things Shire/Laureate based so from time to time I will be sharing links across social media, including this blog.

It would be lovely if you follow both even if you are an international reader/blogger.

The competitions run by the LitFest team (with the exception of the Poet Laureate) allow National/International entries, worth a follow just for that!

It has been an exceptionally busy week at the Festival and I look forward to updating you all on the week’s events soon.

For now – visit my new blog and discover what the team have in store for this final weekend.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/blog-post-title/

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Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18

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Yes, it is me!

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Pictured – Suz Winspear Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2016/17, Nina Lewis & Steve Wilson – County Arts Development Officer.

Kieran Davis © 2017

Worcestershire Poet Laureate Final

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Towards the end of May I received the news that I had made it to the final of the Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition. There were three finalists, myself, Damon Lord and Louise Reeder.

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I spent the first few hours twirling around with excitement at being a finalist. ‘That’s a win, right there!’ commented a poet I know. She was right. This alone is an achievement and one we should all be proud of.

I decided not to make it public when I sent my entry earlier on in the year, the poetry network being what it is some people who know how to read me, guessed. I still didn’t go public. Once the finalists had been officially announced  https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/05/30/and-the-worcestershire-poet-laureate-finalists-are/ I went public – but the Nation as a whole was understandably focused on the Election by then, which continues as the main social media topic now.

The week I discovered the news was a fully booked one with Stourbridge Library – Jo Bell & Roy McFarlane, Uncorked with Charley Barnes, Spoz and Hannah Teasdale, Stanza on Friday and a workshop in Cheltenham on Saturday – Stoke Newington Literature Festival and Shabda Press reading had to be cancelled as I did not have enough hours to make the journey in time and the Sunday night was Yes, We Cant in Walsall with Jonny Fluffypunk – poetry heroes aplenty. I thoroughly enjoyed myself but in the back of my mind my competition poems were stirring. I decided to give myself the 2nd week of June off from poetry events and other writing to concentrate on the poems.

I missed Stirchley Speaks – the 2nd birthday and a good night – but I did spend that particularly evening enjoying the summer house clear out Mr. G. had worked his socks off on, got drenched in the downpour and read my poems through a few times. I learnt them by heart. I spent Election day waiting in for a fridge and reciting lines. I voted on my way back from work – don’t you worry!

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Tonight after a haircut (much needed), I headed to the Racecourse for the final. I arrived about 40 mins early – the Friday night traffic I had predicted came later. I am never early and with a tummy full of butterflies this was not easy.

The evening itself was the LAUNCH of Worcester LitFest – all the finalists had an informal interview with the 5 judges and then we watched/heard the talented competition winners. The Young Writers read their entries, followed by the winning Flash Fiction entries.

There were quality performances by Matt Windle – Birmingham Poet Laureate – who MCed the event, Oakley Flanagan – Young Poet Laureate and Suz Winspear – who has just completed her tenure as Worcestershire Poet Laureate. Matt performed followed by the finalists and Oakley and Suz performed after the judging and before the winner was announced.

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Damon Lord, Louise Reeder and I had all entered the competition  before. This doesn’t prevent nerves or anxiety. Everyone performed their poems well. This year there was no public vote so we hadn’t seen or heard each other’s poems before. Another addition this year was to give a brief outline of what you hoped to achieve as Poet Laureate should you be the fortunate winner. I really wish I had typed mine because the ill-ordered scribble was hard to deliver cohesively! It was also difficult not to have every politicians mucked up manifesto in my mind as I delivered my hopes.

My happy news is that I am the Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2017/18!

My first official engagement is tomorrow night, The Night at The Museum III with Suz Winspear, Matt Windle and Chloe Clarke. It starts at 7:30 PM see the link for programme/ ticket information – £5 a festival fiver is what you pay.

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2017/

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Of course, I am off to National Writers Conference first, in about 7 hours! Matt Windle is performing there too.

 

 

Diverse Verse 2 The Book Launch

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When I discovered Diverse Verse it had already been produced, so when I saw a call for submissions for Diverse Verse 2, I jumped on it. Charity is a big thing for most people and I love giving art for good causes. I like to try to get involved when I can. So earlier this year, I submitted some work to Richard Archer and was delighted to find myself sharing pages with other great poets from the Midlands.

The proceeds raise money for Cancer Research U.K, a cause close to my heart.

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I was delighted when I found out the Book Launch was on 27th May, as I knew I could make it and if the motorways had allowed it – I would have… I was a little late but fortunately after the drag of a 30 m.p.h traffic quilt managed to miss none of the actual reading!

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It was great to see old friends there and put faces to names I knew. Scott and Amy hosted the Launch at Southcart Books and it was lovely to see them in their new shop.

Unfortunately, due to my delayed arrival and forgetting to reserve a copy, the anthology had sold out before I arrived. I have since ordered and received my copy and look forward to indulging a read (sometime in July, I think I am free)!

You can buy a copy here diverse verse 2

It was a fantastic afternoon of poetry, Scott and Amy had laid on a buffet and the interval was time enough to mingle AND buy books.

I never leave the place empty handed but the treat was on them really. I bought a Rupert Brooke collection and they gifted me a historical hardback that I already have ideas on and a canvas ‘Books are my bag’ bag! What a sweet deal that was.

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There were 20 poets reading and a good number of audience too, even some customers lingered.

Elaine Christie and Scott Carter snapped the photos, I have some of Elaine reading but need to get the mobile talking to the internet to upload them. I will add one of Elaine.

All these poets AND MORE are published in Diverse Verse 2, as I listened I noted poems from their sets I was inspired by – buy the book to discover them for yourselves amongst the pages.

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Richard Archer kicked off proceedings, seconds after I sat down. I met Richard at Permission to Speak but also know him from David Calcutt’s Arboretum Poetry events. His poetry is sometimes hard-hitting, powerful, social commentary and sometimes full out fun. He is the Chairman of Walsall Poetry Society and a truly supportive advocate of poetry in the Midlands.

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Paul Elwell runs a writing workshop group that I recently became involved with, it was good to meet him and put a face to the name. On the back of what he heard from short set and the fact that I had mentioned Worcester, he extended the invite – funny how the universe works like that, isn’t it? I particularly enjoyed his very clever Latin Poem.

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I know Carole Howard from David Calcutt’s Arboretum poetry events. I enjoyed hearing her poem about secrets, which she has performed before at the Arboretum.

 

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Rick Saunders delighted us with his brilliant poem, ‘Goldilocks’. I also enjoyed ‘Cannabis Anarchist’, which I had heard before. Rick is everywhere (I have passed on the ubiquitous mantle to him), but I will never tire of hearing his poems, they make me smile. Rick burst onto the scene late 2016 and I met him at Permission to Speak, where he cut his teeth on spoken word (well, it can be sharp), where he created Willis the Poet – and the story behind that is heartwarming!

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Ian Henery is a poet I have not seen for a while. I liked his poem ‘Walsall Bus Driver’s Prayer’.

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Al Lane, is a new poet to me. I thoroughly enjoyed his set. His nature poem was great and the Disappointment of Parenting was a real treat too.

sc dv9 Samatee read her poem about Mauritius and the Dodo. It was great to see her delight in having poems published. I met Samatee at Stirchley Speaks and have watched her become more confident with her writing and sharing of work. She is a regular at Spoken Trend now too.

sc dv7 Janet Jenkins gave us a wonderful set, I particularly liked her Umbrella poem. I first met Janet properly when I started the Caldmore Garden workshops with David Calcutt. Our paths had passed prior to this and our poetry can be found in the same collections.

 

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Scarlett Ward is a poet I do not know, her work is delicately laced but inside are iron fast ideas. Her poem ‘Wordless’ is incredible. Moving. She reminded me what it was to be young once. The concentrated force of emotions we carry.

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Jon Jack Neil was a poet I discovered just 5 days before in Lichfield, at Poetry Alight. I enjoyed hearing more from him. Particularly his poem ‘The World and His Wife’.

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Amanda Glover is another poet I know through Open Poetry at the Arboretum, her bus poem was great to listen to.

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Jan Hedger had travelled some distance to be at the launch with her sister, both of whom grew up around the area. Jan is a new to me poet and I enjoyed her set. She writes lots about animals (so I knew she would enjoy Elaine’s work). I enjoyed the poem exploring her Birmingham/West Midland roots.

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Ian Ward is someone I have known on the poetry circuit since 2014, we are often at the same events. He shared some poems he performed at Poetry Alight, it was good to hear them a second time. Poets should worry less about repeating their work. I particularly enjoyed his poem ‘What is a Map?’

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Steve Harrison is a poet I met in 2014 somewhere over Shropshire way, I am delighted that he ventures across to share his poems in Birmingham and it is always a pleasure to watch his performance. An entertaining and well written poem is guaranteed – although he does serious too. I enjoyed his Classified Ad poem, which I had heard but not for a while and I live in hope of a day when we can be found in the classified ads amongst the plumbers.

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Ian Davies is a poet I have seen in Walsall before, I enjoyed his poem ‘Gwyn Ap Nudd’. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him in the interval, next time.

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Pauline Faulkner had travelled up to support her sister (Jan) and is not a poet I know. She shared a poem about the Mason’s yard which I enjoyed.

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Calvin Allen is a poet I do not know, he had great delivery and his poem ‘Black Friday’ and his Newsreader poems were highlights of his set. I shall look out for him again in the future.

Elaine Christie wowed the audience with ‘The Lion King’ a brilliant poem of us concerning animal welfare and it packs punches. I met Elaine at the end of 2013 and her poetry speaks to the heart, she has a lot of love for the animal kingdom and it was simply a pleasure to see her again. I have been a little absent from the Birmingham scene recently.

18671007_10156279244119741_170669724986059691_n Well done, Richard for a great Book Launch.

RELATED LINKS:

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/diverse-verse-2-is-launched-and-ready-to-buy/

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/no-not-the-one-in-poland/

Cheltenham Poetry Festival

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This year’s programme was fantastic and I wish I had managed more events than I did. I however, managed a full dose of Hegley – which makes up for missing the rest of the long list of performances and events I wanted to attend.

John Hegley is one of the few poets that I discovered in my Young Writer years – back when he was touring with his band, Popticians. In fact one of the few university birthdays I remember was watching them at the Phoenix Arts Centre and meeting him.

There was a Hegley shaped hole for a while – he seemed to have disappeared – possibly into fatherhood – for the past few years he has been back on the radar. Or on my radar at least. Some of you will remember my posts from his performances and workshops back in 2015.

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I was delighted to see New and Selected Potatoes as an error in reading dates on a flyer meant I missed him at the MAC. It was an enjoyable show, thoroughly entertaining as one would expect – but the magic treat was bestowed on Cheltenham that night in the Playhouse. We were privy to a new poem, something he is working on for the Roundhouse. I always feel privileged when my ears get an inside like this.

I finally bought John’s book and had a lovely chat about the show, because he is a very kind man who always spends time with each person queuing for a signature. Someone in the line behind me nearly bought a book that wasn’t one of his – I am sure he would have signed it anyway, he has a big heart like that.

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I made a night of it by going for an Italian meal with friends who had been to see the show too.

The following day, (I know I should have booked a B&B) I was back in Cheltenham to enjoy my second Hegley workshop. It was great fun, a good group and lots of people I did not know, which is always exciting for me. We had taken a poem and some art and most of our activities were based around these.

John had us all write about Potatoes too (of course) and crowd sourced a fantastic poem for Anna Saunders *Director of the festival – I will have to go and see if she has had time to use it anywhere.

It was a fabulous morning and finishing slightly before time I headed down to Waterstones with John and Anna, chatting and narrowly missing lampposts along the way! Once at Waterstones, I mingled with the poets from the Open Mic event which had finished and caught up with friends. Then John started his impromptu take over of the floor. (Photos to follow.)

We all joined in with a choral poem and had a great time before he was whisked away to that place festival poets go and I was left to retrace steps and try to find my car before the ticket ran out!

Next year, I have to plan work better to be released for this poetry festival.

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Poetry Ballroom

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An exquisite event, the brainchild of the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear, who wanted to combine poetry with other agencies. She teamed up with DanceFest Worcester and a select group of poets to produce ‘Poetry Ballroom’.

In ancient times, the arts were as one – the words the bards created and recited merged with music, and the active expression of the human body gave them expression and physical form . . . .

As the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear wants to bring artists back together once again.

Dance and Poetry now seem like distant art forms, but both can speak to one another . . . .dancers and poets can interact . . . . word and dance can come together to create something new . . . .

Welcome to the Poetry Ballroom!

It was an incredible evening and I was delighted to be involved. As an ex-dancer it gave me so much joy to watch the choreography and to write on the theme of dance. I have a body of work associated with dance/dancers already but also set to write new poems for the event.

Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear, has brought together Dancefest and Worcestershire LitFest to create a very special evening of poetry and dance.

Local poets Polly Stretton, Kevin Brooke, Holly Magill, Nina Lewis, alongside London-based Math Jones, will be joined by over 30 dancers of all ages from Dancefest’s Chance to Dance Company, DFA (Dancefest Adults) and Elevate Junior Youth Dance Company, who have created new dances inspired by poems.

Suz will be compering the evening and sharing some of the poems she’s written during her time as the county’s Poet Laureate. DanceFest © 2017

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https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/02/25/welcome-to-the-poetry-ballroom/

It was the sort of evening which totally absorbs you. From start to finish.

Suz had the idea of poets performing from different parts of the venue, the dancers were delighted to discover that the poetry was dance related and talking to members of DanceFest afterwards, I know they enjoyed the show as much as we did.

The space inside the Angel Centre, is gorgeous, I can see why it is home to dance. The lighting was magical, fairy-lights and blackout curtains contained the large audience in an other worldly place for the night. A night, I for one, did not want to end. It was spectacular.

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Suz opened the event,

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before Elevate Junior Dance Company took to the floor to perform The Ballroom of Squid. The inspiration behind this dance, (choreographed by Janene Wyatt & Company), came from a poem written by Suz Winspear, which she performed alongside the dancers.

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Kevin Brooke was the next poet to perform, high up on the balcony. Followed by the most beautiful dance ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ performed by DFA (DanceFest Adults) who equalled professional companies in there execution of the awe inspiring choreography (Clare Wood). A dance based on a Maya Angelou poem is a sure fire winner in my book and I was mesmerised.

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It was incredibly moving, so much so I was not really emotionally ready to take to the floor for my spot.

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I performed The Fourth wall – a poem I wrote back in 2013, one of the first poems in my book when I started back along the poetry road. It explores the feelings of an ex-dancer watching dance, exactly how I felt after watching the DFA Company.

2/4, 3/4, 4/4 – a poem I wrote especially for the Ballroom event explores 8 different ballroom styles.

Underwater Gothic – a poem I had written a month or so before, before I heard Suz perform The Ballroom of Squid, at 42 to tease us prior to the Poetry Ballroom event. It was inspired by nature films and is based under the sea, much the same as Elevate’s dance.

I completed my set with Tango – a poem I have written for an upcoming poetry anthology as a tribute to Leonard Cohen.

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I thoroughly enjoyed performing, despite the nerves and cramp in my calf muscle, which was ironic as all I wanted to be able to do was dance once more.

After the interval we were treated to Math Jones’ dynamic, theatrical performance. He made almost as much use of the space as the dancers!

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Followed by Holly McGill who performed wonderfully. Then the final dance treat Ghost of Castle Street From Sonnet to Sestina. This was performed by the Chance to Dance Company (choreographed by Marie Oldaker with the dancers). It was inspired by a poem of the same title written by Stephen Murphy in 2004 about the then-deserted Worcester Royal Infirmary.

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This captivating dance incorporated sound and word as fragments of communication. Copies of the poem and definitions of the form were handed out along with the programme.

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Finally Suz completed this enchanting evening with a poem and farewell.

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With kind permission from DanceFest/ Worcester LitFest

Photography Clare Wood/DanceFest © 2017


The poets

Polly Stretton

Polly follows many writerly pursuits in her hometown of Worcester. Her poetry has been displayed at Croome Court and in many anthologies. She’s a coordinator and judge of various writing competitions and works with Black Pear Press, Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, and OU Poetry Society. Polly’s writing includes a collection of poetry, a series of poems about the tragic young poet Thomas Chatterton, and a pamphlet of children’s poetry. She’ll go into ecstasies about her puppy: Mabel.

Nina Lewis

Nina Lewis has poetry published in anthologies and magazines, her début pamphlet Fragile Houses is published by V. Press. Nina’s poetry has featured in an Art Installation, on Poetry Trails and at a Dance Festival. In 2014 she was commissioned to perform at Birmingham Literature Festival. She organises an annual writing retreat at https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com

Holly Magill

Holly Magill is from Worcestershire. She has a BA in Creative Writing from University Of Birmingham and has had poems in various publications, including Clear Poetry, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Emma Press’ anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse. She is fond of cats and strong tea above most things.

Kevin Brooke

Kevin writes a bit of poetry and is also known to try out a few steps of ballroom. Currently studying Creative Writing and English Literature at the University of Worcester, he is hoping to increase his repertoire in both. A writer of children’s fiction, his YA novel Jimmy Cricket was published by Black Pear Press in 2014 

Math Jones 

Math Jones has been sweet on his pins since childhood, He’s cut many a caper, promenaded and do-ci-do’ed, waltzed and polka’ed, stamped heels in traditional Indian, Galliarded, and Cell-block Tango’ed. Now, of course, he’s more likely to be dancing with his eyes.

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The dancers

Dancefest Elevate Junior Youth Dance Company

A company for Herefordshire-based creative dancers aged 10 to 13 to develop creative and technical skills, with performance opportunities throughout the year. Auditions to join the company take place on Monday 17 July at Hereford College of Arts.

Chance to Dance Company

Dancefest’s Chance to Dance Company is for experienced dancers aged 50 and over, who like to create, experiment and have a passion to perform.

DFA (Dancefest Adults)

DFA is for experienced dancers with a sense of adventure who enjoy the creative process and want to perform in outdoor and unusual spaces.

The choreographers

Janene Wyatt

Janene has been leading contemporary and creative dance classes across Herefordshire over the past 14 years, working extensively with children, young people and adults of all ages and abilities in community settings and in education. Janene’s main passion and focus is the development and teaching of dance for children and young people [more]

Marie Oldaker

Marie is a freelance choreographer, creative dance practitioner and arts project coordinator with over twenty five years’ experience working in community and education contexts. Her artistic focus is predominantly about working creatively with local communities and their histories, across generations, inclusively and to promote health [more]

Clare Wood

Clare has worked for Dancefest for 14 years devising and delivering dance projects and teaching regular classes. In her various roles at Dancefest Clare has led work for all ages and abilities including GCSE Dance, GP referred adults, Parents and Wobblers, visually impaired and learning disabled participants [more] 

DanceFest © 2017

The Poetry Ballroom took place on April 2nd, I wanted access to the photography before I posted and by then it was May and I was wrapped up in working on our show 30-40-60 for Worcester LitFest.

I wish I had had time to complete the review months ago when this wondrous night was crystal clear but hopefully I have captured the essence of this spellbinding evening of pleasure.