Monthly Archives: September 2018

Being a Poet Laureate

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Heather Wastie’s Book Launch for ‘Don’t Oil The Hinges’ is this Saturday.

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Ever since the seventeenth century, the UK has had a Poet Laureate, and until 2009 the position was always held by a man. Although women had been considered, none were chosen. In the late nineteenth century, Christina Rossetti missed out when it was decided that, rather than appoint a woman, there would be no laureate at all. In 2009, (now Dame) Carol Ann Duffy was appointed. She said at the outset that her main reason for accepting the role was because they hadn’t had a woman. (1)

Some UK cities have their own Poet Laureate – Birmingham currently has Matt Windle – and some counties do too. Gloucestershire has one (Brenda Read-Brown), Staffordshire does (Emily Rose Galvin) and Worcestershire has had one since 2011. The current Worcestershire PL, appointed in June, is Betti Moretti. There are also several Young PLs:  Worcestershire’s is Rachel Evans and Birmingham’s is Nyanda Foday. So…

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INKSPILL 2018

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I have just updated the INKSPILL page.

INKSPILL 2018 

COMING SOON

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Now in our 6th year, this annual Writing Retreat offers you time and space to get motivated and get writing.

We have our Guest Writers lined up, there will be interviews and workshops with them as well as features on their work.

The full programme will incorporate writing activities and motivation to keep your pen moving. As with previous years the INKSPILL Archive will be open and so too will our virtual Book Shop.

The story behind INKSPILL (2013)

The initial idea came when I found out about Iyanla_Vanzant’s Wonder Woman Weekend.

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I couldn’t afford to go, although it would have been a great event to attend, I decided I could facilitate my own special weekend in place of this.

And Inkspill was born. A FREE, Non-Profit venture.

 

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Guest Writers to be announced soon.

Spread the word, share this banner across your social media networks and join us from the 27th October.

Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop at the Jinney Ring

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It is time for the Annual Sculpture Trail at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre in Hanbury. This is the 13th Trail and my 2nd year of offering a writing workshop linked to the sculptures.

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One of my first jobs when I got back from Australia was to arrange a meeting, having secured the repeat workshop back in April.

It was also my first chance to visit this year’s trail and I spent a good hour taking photos and scribbling notes. There is always a preview of the Trail and I would have liked to have been available to attend but I was some 40,000 feet in the clouds at the time.

This year they have an added area, The Secret Garden and the work in there will take your breath away!

As with every year a range of Local and National Sculptors are exhibiting on the trail and the work is for sale. There are several pieces which would look great in our garden!

So come and join us and get creative.

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There will be cake!

Last year was great fun and we had an exhibition in the Restaurant for 3 months which was read by a LOT of people.

The writing activities/workshop content is different from last year – as are the sculptures, so if this was something you enjoyed last year I would encourage you to come again. The workshop is suitable for writers of all abilities.

There will be no pressure to read your work during the workshop and you will have a while to edit and redraft poems before they are displayed. The exhibiting of the work this year will be at no cost to the poets (it wasn’t last year either) and it is a chance for people to access and read your work who may otherwise not do so.

As with last year, a reading of our Sculpture Trail poems will be organised in the Spring.

Contact me for details ninalewisnal[at]gmailDOTcom

Here are some photos from the Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop 2017.

Enjoying the Guided Tour of the Trail with some time to write whilst outside with the sculptures.

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Getting creative, responding to activities in the workshop.  WP_20180427_001

Our Poetry Exhibition in the Jinney Ring Restaurant.

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Our Bank Holiday Reading in 2018 at the Church in Hanbury.

Flashback May: How to Grow Matches Book Launch

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from May – July. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Saturday, 19 May – Park’s Cafe, Droitwich. How to Grow Matches – A Live Lit Celebration.

Back in the Spring I was asked to be a poetry judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Launch for How to Grow Matches, published by Against the Grain Poetry Press. Following her Launch in London in March at the Poetry Cafe, Sarah had a local launch in May.

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This is Sarah’s 7th poetry book and she made sure that this was a Launch with a difference. She used her Launch as an opportunity to raise money for St. Paul’s Hostel who help people through homelessness. The evening was filled with Poetry and Fiction, as Sarah was also launching her latest novella Always Another Twist.

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Sarah’s Guest Poets/Writers were Jenny Hope, Liz Kershaw and Holly Magill, the evening was MCed by Charley Barnes, there was an Open Mic with prizes (hence the poetry judging). The prizes were amazing – bags of poetry books and poetry pictures.

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Sarah launch  The evening started with a translated reading by Sylv Coultier of ‘Matryoshka Portrait’, the opening poem in How to Grow Matches. Followed by Guest readings, open mic poets and readings from Sarah.

It was a lovely evening and thoroughly enjoyed. Appreciation and generosity were the feelings I took away from the evening.

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How to Grow Matches was SHORTLISTED in the poetry category of the INTERNATIONAL RUBERY BOOK AWARDS 2018 and ‘His Secret Daughter’ from How to Grow Matches is Carol Rumens’s Guardian Poem of the Week

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‘What immediately strikes me in Leavesley’s poetry is that sense of being spoken to directly, forcefully. The anger – at impossible advice, at the hidden and neglected work, at mere survival against the odds – is always balanced with craft and an impeccable sense of timing, and a vision which ranges from the orchestra pit to the research laboratory, via geopolitics, extinction and the recurring nested image of the matryoshka doll. An essential pamphlet.’
– Luke Kennard

‘Uncomfortable, powerful, and compelling, these poems demand to be read. And to read them is to ride a discomfiting turbulent current expressed in images of clocks with disparate rhythms, clouds that dissolve into “dark angels of rain”, piles of spent matches that might make a bonfire. And burning is what these poems do: searing through skilfully controlled anger at the invisibility of women, their lack of a powerful role model to follow, they are ready to burst into flame, urging women to “reclaim their share”.’
– Gill McEvoy

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You can buy your own copy here againstthegrainpoetrypress.wordpress.com/shop/

Reviews of HOW TO GROW MATCHES.

Flashback May: ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’ Book Launch

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from May – July. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Friday 18 May, 6pm in the Studio at The Hive

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Back in May I was fortunate enough to attend Katy Wareham Morris’s Book Launch for her debut collection ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’. The collection is published by experimental, Bristol-based publisher, Hesterglock.

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Katy is a writer and lecturer in Media and Culture, based in the West Midlands, UK. She has a particular interest in gender and queer studies, identity politics and digital humanities. Her debut pamphlet was a poetry duet entitled, Inheritance published by Mother’s Milk Books and was launched at Ledbury Poetry Festival (2017). It went on to win ‘Best Collaborative Work’ at this year’s Saboteur Awards.

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Her poems have also featured in the webzines I am not a silent poet and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Katy is also the Birmingham, UK Branch Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, of which she was a founding member.

cutting 2Hesterglock specifically asked for feminist poetry in the submission call and Katy gave them that and more. Here is what she says about the ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’.

This collection is a collage of womxn’s voices, attempting to call time on the ‘female’ identities attributed to women by patriarchal  culture. The poetry is personal, political and provocative.

I am incredibly proud of this collection, which I have been working on for some years now. It is informed by my own love of poetry, which began with the Romantics -Wordsworth, Keats and Blake – when I was a child, to the Modernists, particularly HD, and the Beats, namely Diane di Prima whom I discovered as part of my Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree courses. It also reflects my appreciation of pop culture and the research I have undertaken in gender studies and identity politics. There were many times when I thought this poetry was too controversial or risky to ever be published. I persevered to prove to myself, if no one else, that womxn can fight for an equal place in this society, and that we have many different, equally valuable stories to share. © https://katywarehammorris.com/

Katy was joined by Guest Poets Kathy Gee, Holly Magill & Claire Walker.

WP_20180518_002It was a terrific, uplifting evening and a warmly received launch. There are striking poems in this collection. See for yourselves – order a copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes We Cant -PPP, Rob Barratt and Me Somewhere in the Middle of it All as the Half-ender!

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Yes We Cant was back after a summer break. It marks my final booking this side of National Poetry Day – I guess I have to get proactive. I have never gone in search of gigs before, but after 4 years I may have to.

There were new t-shirts, bags of cooking apples, bottles of Rhubarb and Custard cider and lots of poems!

It was a brilliant night and worth every minute of motorway nightmare (roadworks). The night was MCed by Steve Pottinger & Dave Pitt, there were lots of open mic and a good mix of poets, one first timer who nervously took to the stage. She was fab and also won the Poetry Competition.

Yes We Cant is always a fantastic night. It takes place upstairs at The Pretty Bricks Pub in a room which is always hot with energy & words.

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PPP – Steve Pottinger, Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse (reading the winning poem).

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The exceptional performers on the Open Mic.

Yes We Cant always have a Headliner and a Half-ender. I was delighted when Emma asked me to be the September Half-ender and it also guaranteed I used my return ticket from Australia. I did a set from Fragile Houses, a couple of new ones (including one I wrote during Aaron Lee’s Workshop in Perth) and an old, old one.

It was lovely to chat to people in the interval and I think the mix of poems I chose from humorous to heart-tugging went down well.

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Rob Barratt finished the night with an incredible set. He was entertaining and even got the room singing a selection of popular songs, no easy feat… but of course Walsall was up for it! I love watching performers I have not have the pleasure of meeting before and this was no exception.

I now have Rob’s book to re-read the poems he performed at a powerful pace, at leisure and he really hit the nail on the head with his poem about Education and ‘Distressed’.

Here’s an interview with Dave & Rob.

Rob Barratt who was a bag of awesome wrapped in a bow of wonder. – Dave Pitt

http://www.robbarratt.co.uk/

I also received received a PPP lotto ticket and won! £1.00 – but as Emma pointed out I could buy another ticket!

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Walsall, you were wonderful – thanks for having me!

And just to put the scratchcards in context… here’s the 1st Birthday Party clip!

Cheltenham & Big White Shed Brum

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So I spent 4 days trying to get my feet back on the ground after flying back from a short hop to Australia (no Kangaroo pun intended)… just an attempt to explain why the jet lag hit as it did.

Thursday was the first time I started to feel my body had caught up with me back on home-soil. The first day it didn’t feel as if I was wading through treacle and the first morning I woke up on GMT after a full night’s sleep. Which was a stroke of luck as I had arranged to meet up with Jennie Farley in Cheltenham!

I spent 3 hours at the desk completing much awaited admin tasks. The whole time I felt apprehensive about the big drive, (having not driven for the best part of 4 weeks I was a little nervous), but I made it.

We had a wonderful catch up, a divine Italian lunch out and put in some desk time on her new website as well as discussing Bohemian Voices (which I missed due to Stanza) and her Book Launch in December for her latest collection Hex. Which is already available.

If you wish to read some sample poems from the collection or order your own copy, you can do so here http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/jennie-farley-hex/4594369593

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“Jennie Farley’s poems take the familiar as a point of departure, mixing the real with the surreal, the everyday with the imaginary. In ‘Hex’ Farley encounters new truths by seeking out fresh perspectives. This is a thought-provoking and engaging collection that invites the reader to accompany the poet on her journey.”

Matthew Stewart

“In ‘Hex’ Jennie Farley skilfully stitches, unstitches and re-attaches mythology, folklore and her own experiences. These tales are barbaric and bewitching in equal measure, constantly asking the reader to question our own identities and the masks we wear.”

Stephen Daniels 

“These poems tread a high wire between magic and fantasy. Jennie Farley’s exploration of myth and biblical references focus on undercurrent and subtext in unexpected and glorious ways with a storytelling quality of a world in slant. A place you will enter and never want to leave. There is more than a sprinkling of magic in this collection.”

Nina Lewis


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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

In the evening there was an event in The Victoria, Birmingham (the old home of Hit the Ode), which I really wanted to get to. I was running on empty by the time I got home (all our local motorway networks are undergoing major works and some speed restrictions drop as low as 30 mph, which is causing tailbacks and queues and adding at least half an hour to otherwise straightforward journeys). I kept juggling with going and staying in and so by the time I felt decisive I had already missed several trains into the city. The roads I had to take to the outer city line were closed and after following diversions I missed another train. I eventually made it to the venue just in time for the start which meant whizzing around hugging everyone at double speed!

Big White Shed Brum featured Poets from the West & East Midlands – Birmingham, Nottingham & Derby.big white shed

Casey Bailey is a poet, author, writer, spoken word performer, rapper, song writer and a secondary school senior leader from Birmingham. He runs Bailey’s Rap and Poetry (BRAP), and through this initiative has performed and spoken at events in the UK, as well as run workshops in rap, poetry, music and song writing.

Having performed at multiple TEDx Events, his first short collection of poetry ‘Waiting at Bloomsbury Park’ was published in July 2017, Casey has been described as a ‘lyrical and literal poet, a conscious Hip Hop artist and a thoughtful and reflective writer’. He provides social commentary and analysis through his poetry, lyrics and articles. Casey is most comfortable when he is consciously expressing his thoughts and feelings, with the hope that they will go on to have an impact on the thoughts and feelings of others.

And he made the list for 30 Under 30 and was a finalist in the BBC Slam this summer.

https://baileysrapandpoetry.com/

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Anne Holloway is a writer and performer from Nottingham. Her poetry collection There Are No Photographs has been described as ‘beautiful, ugly and important,’ and ‘a book that contains the growth and grit of life with great beauty’. She started her career as co-director of Mouthy Poets and is founder and editor at Big White Shed – an enabling organisation and independent press which supports the growth and development of artistic talent. She hosts and curates poetry events and manages That Welsh Woman of Slam Cabaret fame.
www.anneholloway.co.uk ​www.bigwhiteshed.co.uk​ fb: @bigwhiteshed

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Leanne Moden is a poet from Nottingham. She performs at events across the UK and around Europe, including recent sets at Prima Vista Festival in Estonia, Día Mundial de la Poesía in Spain and the BBC Slam at Edinburgh Fringe. Leanne has also performed at WOMAD, TEDx UCL, the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and Bestival on the Isle of Wight. She is currently Poet in Residence at the National Justice Museum, and she is working on her first full-length poetry show, which she hopes to take to on tour in 2019. Check out https://www.leannemoden.com/ for more details.

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Jamie Thrasivoulou is a writer, poet, and educator from Derby. His collection ‘The Best Of A Bad Situation’ was published by Silhouette Press in 2017. In the past he’s been commissioned by: Apples and Snakes, the Heritage lottery, and the award-winning social photographer Jim Mortram. His music project ‘Bloque Capitals’ were one of the winners of the Culture Matters Bread & Roses 2018 award for Spoken Word & Musical collaboration, the work also appeared on BBC Introducing. He is also the joint-host of Word Wise and The Derby Poetry Festival. Jamie’s live show is both engaging and energetic, and has seen him perform all over the UK including: Outspoken @The 100 Club, The London Poetry Book Fair, Verve Poetry Festival, The Everyman Theatre, and The Other Place, Royal Shakespeare venue. His next pamphlet will be published in 2019 through Burning Eye Books.
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^ Photo Credit: Jenny Harper Photography
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In addition to the main acts there were open mics and the night was split into 3 sections. I always like a double interval because one is never enough time to get to see everyone and grab drinks etc.

Big White Shed 1The open mic was hot, featuring poets who are Headliners and newcomers to writing and the mic. Always love this combination.

Big W Shed 2The night was MCed by Casey Bailey, fresh from Edinburgh Fringe and the BBC Slam Finals (which this year was won by Jess Green). He was the perfect host, lively, fully charged and charming.

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There was a great community spirit surging through the venue. It was a cracking evening and I was happy ‘GO’ had won my mental tennis rally!

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I even managed to grab a reserve slot (despite my adventurous travel), I shared two of my Australian Workshop poems – one from Maddie Godfrey’s workshop and the other from Sanna Peden’s. Both of which are raw with passion and rather sensual pieces.

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This was my first UK event and conversations (and my heart) were still very much Australia focused. Even the hand driers in the Ladies sang that tune!

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It was a fabulous night and I look forward to future events like these.

On a personal note it was great to be back in Birmingham. Last year was very Worcestershire focused and with some full-time work as well as working with over 200 poets on about 20 projects my time was limited. I hope to travel more widely (again) in future. Since visiting WA the UK feels small enough for me to be able to manage this.