Daily Archives: July 30, 2018

A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache by Charley Barnes – Book Launch

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Sometimes in the writing world you have to keep secrets, occasionally even official embargo’s are placed on you. I knew Charley Barnes was joining V. Press and I was delighted (but wasn’t allowed to announce my joy)!

So when Charley asked me to be one of her Guest Poets I felt doubly honoured. During the evening Claire Walker and I discovered just how influential we had been supporting Charley’s dive into the publication of poetry. It is wonderful when you realise the impact you have made on someone’s writing goals. I am in debt to those who have helped me realise mine and know how it feels. There were nearly tears!

So let’s backtrack a little. Charley has just published her debut collection with V. Press ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’ and it is a fabulous pamphlet, full of life, love, difficulties and lessons.

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It was released on the 11th July and the Book Launch took place on the 14th. Charley’s Guest Poets were myself, Holly Magill, Claire Walker and Sarah Leavesley.

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It was a fantastic celebration of life and poetry and all took place (as many V. Press launches do), at the wonderful Park’s Cafe in Droitwich. It was made extra special by falling into the Artsfest and being advertised as part of the Festival programme.

Which also meant Rhys Jones (Droitwich Arts Network) was in attendance with his camera to capture some spectacular moments throughout the evening.

All photographs © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network, unless otherwise stated.

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After an introduction which nearly made me blub I was the first Guest Reader. I had compiled a set which was my own A Z-hearted Guide through heartache and hoped that Charley enjoyed it. I did think (afterwards) that I should have done some of her favourite poems of mine. Hindsight…

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My set included a brand new poem and some I had not performed before.

Next was Holly Magill who treated us to a set from her own debut pamphlet, The Becoming of Lady Flambé’, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Another strong collection of Poetry.

the becoming holly magill More information here. The book was published in June and Holly’s official launch happens later this summer.

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Then Charley treated us to poems from her NEW book!

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Before an interval of book sales and signing! Although I had plenty of opportunities to buy the pamphlet, I made myself wait until the launch. It is a bit like waiting for Christmas and is something I tend to force myself to do whenever possible!

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You can buy a copy for yourselves here and can also read a sample poem from the collection.

“The poems in A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache will make you re-think your relationship with pizza, garlic bread and your mobile phone. These sharp, sad and wry observations – on the reality of living with mental illness and disability, the heartbreak of the everyday, and perseverance despite everything – capture what it is to be twenty-something, in love, and healing through food. This is an exciting debut pamphlet from a new and honest voice.” Jenna Clake

“In her debut pamphlet, Charley Barnes examines the reality of heartbreak and its different forms, highlighting how aspects of modern society can play – often brutally – on our insecurities: the wish to be prettier, more popular, more lovable. These poems deftly explore the bitter, lasting sting of loss and how it shapes us. Yet there is also the tenderness of possibility at play – a sweetness to offset the sharpness encountered by a young woman trying to navigate her way; a knowing, self-deprecating humour that shines through, even in dark experiences. There is a wisdom of the importance of nurturing here, accompanied by the will that, whatever happens, ‘you have to keep going, don’t you?’ (‘The lie my mum told me’).” Claire Walker

Then came the second half of the evening with Guest Poet, Claire Walker. I always enjoy listening to Claire’s work and those hindsight fairies made it to her door, as she delivered a set including some of Charley’s favourite poems.

Additional treasure came from her recount of the love her girls have for Charley… or Charley Barnes as they call her.

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It all starts with an acorn‘, a poem in Charley’s pamphlet will reveal a little more to you.

Sarah Leavesley a prolific poet in her own right and editor/publisher at V. Press was the final Guest Poet. It was good to hear some poems from her latest collection again, having recently enjoyed her own launch of How to Grow Matches – published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

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This collection was shortlisted for the  International Rubery Book Award 2018.

The evening concluded with another wonderful set from Charley, who had mainly shared her more lighthearted work in the first half and waited for the end to take our breath away with the more serious poems in her book.

A true gift of an evening. Thoroughly enjoyed by us all, as captured here in this group shot!

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© Harriet Barnes – whose direction made this photo what it is.

A fantastic night – five poets on a high for sometime after the Launch!

SpeakEasy Worcester With Ben Banyard

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Back in 2014 I was invited by Jo Bell to take part in her 52 project – a poem for a week, for a year. Aside from being a marvellous project to be involved in (my publishing record is about 50/50 rejection/acceptance… every 52 poem I have submitted carries a 100% success rate), it was a year where over 500 poets formed friendships and connections.

It gave many people the confidence to call themselves poets and saw established poets (and famous ones) working alongside emerging newbies and early career poets. It was a medley of talent and made us all READ a lot of good poetry, poetry that differed to the our tastes and both those factors are heavily recommended for any writer! It was also a great platform for learning how to edit and critique. I think we all improved over the 12 months. Certainly lots of collections followed.

Along the way I have made virtual friends with a lot of the poets involved in 52 and July’s SpeakEasy featured one of these poets. Ben Banyard – who says 52 was the turning point for him taking his writing seriously.

I was incredibly excited to meet him and hear his work.

Back in early 2016 Ben’s first pamphlet ‘Communing’ was published by Indigo Dreams Press (IDP).

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Find out more and buy a copy here.

Fast forward 2 years and Ben’s first full collection ‘We Are All Lucky’ is published by IDP.

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More information can be found here. This is the collection we enjoyed in his Headline set.

As if all that was not exciting enough – SpeakEasy was in a new venue – Wayland’s Yard – a lovely Coffee Shop (although it is really more than that), near the station, handy for visiting poets/audience.

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To top it off we also had the WLF Slam Winners for Poetry and Flash Fiction primed to perform.

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The first post-festival (WLF) SpeakEasy is always brilliant. Suz Winspear was our MC for the evening,  this was her first night back in that role, it has since been announced that Charley Barnes is stepping down from hosting.

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For the first time EVER we were outside and it was a warm summer evening, the outside of Wayland’s was dressed for summer (well actually, a wedding) and it was perfect! Pom poms, fairy lights and bunting!

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The Slam Winners were both presented with their awards and then I kicked off the evening with a 6 minute set.

Photographs © Charley Barnes WLF.

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Kevin Brooke Flash Fiction Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.

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Io Osborn Poetry Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.

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Kevin Brooke

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Claire Walker

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Rod Griffiths

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Charley Barnes performed from her new pamphlet ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’, published by V. Press.

 

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Daniel Burton – who launched his debut collection last Saturday in Worcester and is now taking it on a mini tour of Loughborough, Leicester & Coventry.

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After an interval Chloe Clarke kicked off the second half.

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Chloe Clarke (former Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate)

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Kathy Gee

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Io (Cass) Osborn – Slam Champ Poet

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SpeakEasy over the past few years has had lots of newcomers, which is great for an established Poetry Night, here’s Michael Wheatley.

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James Burr

Then Ben Banyard Headlined.

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Ben’s poetry was life-affirming and I loved a lot of his work. ‘Pineapple as a metaphor for life’ was a particular favourite of mine. It was a joy to hear his set.

‘What strikes me most about Banyard’s poems is his affection for humanity, grounded by his wry humour. His imagination allows him to empathise with people he encounters. He has the gift of finding pleasure in the everyday, in all its seediness and tawdry beauty. He has the true poet’s gift of noticing details others miss.’
Angela Topping

‘Ben Banyard writes accessible poems about the real world, with its triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies. I like them for their humanity and warmth, for their sense of humour, and for the way Banyard often pins down just the right details to bring a piece vividly to life. This is an enjoyable collection.’
Geoff Hattersley

‘There is an impressive range here and, whether writing about childhood memories, being a father, cataracts, spit hoods or Birmingham, this poet displays a sureness of touch and an ability to precisely capture a vanished world or the exact tone of a voice. Ben Banyard is a poet with a sharp-eyed yet affectionate view of the world. I very much enjoyed this confident and varied collection.’
Carole Bromley

SpeakEasy was a well attended event with plenty of audience members as well as performers and an enchanting one at that!

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© Nina Lewis

INKSPILL 2018 Heating Up! Get Your Diaries READY!

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I had the joy this week of approaching two writers to feature as this year’s Guest Writers at INKSPILL – our online writing retreat. They have both said YES!

As I am due to fly out to Australia as an International Guest at Perth Poetry Festival, I thought it would be fun to find a 3rd Guest Writer whilst I am out there and that will complete our set for 2018.

Here’s a promo film to whet your appetite!

 

If you have never been involved before (where have you been?), the retreat runs from 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM on both Saturday (27th October) and Sunday (28th), it involves a range of activities, workshops, interviews, motivational posts, tips and is a chance to give yourself some writing time.

If you are not around in real-time the posts remain on the blog and can be accessed after the event. It is always popular and many writers gain a lot from it AND it is FREE!

 

PoARTry Ledbury

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In 2017 Rick Sanders organised the first PoARTry Gallery event in Cradley Heath. Back in March 2018 he asked me to be part of his next PoARTry venture in Ledbury at the Artistree Gallery and I was only too happy to oblige.

I am a fan of Art and had I not pursued Drama, Art may have become my forte. I have always enjoyed working with artists, writing ekphrastic poetry and getting my work out there in installations and other creative means. The aspect of this project I found most exciting was how our words would inspire new artwork and new art would enable new poems to be created.

Read about the initial meeting & the Cradley Heath project here.

Leena Batchelor and myself took on the role of organising a Launch event with readings and talks by the Artists.

We launched on July 11th. It was a magical evening and a special night as the gallery is only open during the daytime usually. Not all artists and poets could make it and the exhibition showcased more artists than feature in this review.

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The following photographs are © Rick Sanders. More photos of mine will be added.

I was lucky enough to meet Ken Calvert at the Homend Poets event during Ledbury Poetry Festival and booked him to come and play to welcome people into the gallery, to lead into the interval and to round the night off at the end.

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Following a brief introduction from Rick and I we started our Gallery Tour/Launch.

 

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Poet Nicky Heatherington burns her work into wood. This creates Art on its own. Nicky collaborated with artist Val Randle.

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They also bravely went first.

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Artist Kate Culling partnered with poet Bill Thomas.

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Poet Bill Thomas explaining how the work of Kate Culling inspired his writing.

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Kate was kind enough to allow one of her artworks to be used on the event promotional material. I thoroughly enjoyed her dynamic explanation of the work.

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Artists from all disciplines worked on the project – a glassblower Ken Howell incorporates the poem into his artwork.

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Marion Steele was teamed with Leena Batchelor.

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Marion Steele kindly allowed us to use her artwork on promotional material.

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Alan Richardson partnered Rick Sanders. I think their humour complimented each other well.

 

More music from Ken before the interval.

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During the interval people had time to mingle and view the exhibition at their leisure. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other better and as poetry circles tend to be fairly tight knit/small it is always a pleasure to get to know new people.

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My partner was artist Molly Bythell and I enjoyed hearing all about her work and meeting up again as we based our collaboration online.

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Molly Bythell kindly let us use her artwork on promotional material.

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Molly and I used 1 existing work chosen from each other to create 1 new work each and then used those new works to create another new work. Three pieces each. I displayed 5 poems but wrote 20, including a sequence of 11 about Dementia. Here I read three of the poems, one not displayed.

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Angela Davis partnered Maggie Reed.

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Angela Davis kindly allowed her artwork to be used on promotional material.

 

Bill Denny partnered Brian Graham.

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Tim Stavert talked about his collaboration with Paddy Hannigan before sharing his poems.

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And finally Hilary Davies and Myfanwy Fox shared their work.

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The evening closed with a couple of songs by Ken Calvert.

Huge thanks to the Artistree Team for helping Leena and I make this Launch a success. Special thanks to Marion Steele, Bill Thomas and Kate Culling who helped with logistics enormously.

It was fascinating hearing from the artists and the poets about where the muse came from and how they collaborated together. Another aspect of the evening was some pairs meeting each other for the first time and a reunion for the March meeting group. Seeing what other collaborators had come up and listening to how the various pairings worked together was insightful and enjoyable.

The work was all exceptionally high quality and a number of artists sold their pieces.

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I think it was a successful mission for everyone and was definitely an exhibition enjoyed by many visitors to the gallery.

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Evesham Festival of Words

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Back at the beginning of July I was fortunate enough to be part of the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words.

The Festival runs from 29th June – 1st July and this event was on the final day of the Festival Weekend. The team behind Evesham Festival of Words run events throughout the year under the umbrella of the Festival and then the main programme covers the final weekend in June.

Check out the programme here.

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This was the final year for Polly Stretton who has organised the event for the past 3 years, she is stepping down and allowing the festival to either find someone else to take the mantle or to substitute with a new event from 2019.

The Poetry Walk is always a pleasant couple of hours, walking at a gentle pace around a route with many beautiful spots to stop and listen to a set of poems. In previous years we have attracted a few people who have joined us and listened alongside the group and there are always public listening in at points during the walk, especially if we happen to stop by an area where they have already settled on benches.

The one year I did it, we included parts of the town on the route (Evesham is a beautiful place). We have also had access inside the Bell Tower before.

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This year we took a pleasant tour around the Abbey Park before heading back to the garden at the Almonry to carry on our poetic feast.

There were several performances before this one from Suz Winspear, but getting sun lotion out was more important than my camera. I also have no photos of my own performance.

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In previous years I have been unable to stay for the final read around at the Almonry – so I was delighted to catch it this year.

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‘Poetry Walk’

Popular local poet, Polly Stretton, was back once again to lead the Poetry Walk through Evesham’s most scenic sites around Abbey Park.  With poems performed along the way, the Walk culminated in the beautiful garden of the Almonry.  Our wish for sunshine certainly came off! 

 

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Congratulations and gratitude to Polly Stretton who has organised the Poetry Walk event for the past three years and herded countless numbers of poets around Evesham and safely back to the gardens at the Almonry. A job well done and a thoroughly enjoyable poetry experience.

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