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).

communing-cover

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.

ben we are all lucky

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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© Nina Lewis

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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© Nina Lewis

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

claire walker

Claire Walker

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Rod Griffiths

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© Nina Lewis

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.

dark nights © Daniel Burton

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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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© Kathy Gee

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

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