Monthly Archives: March 2021

Monthly Review March 2021

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March, our month of hope… some lockdown restrictions lifted in the UK, schools to reopen, vaccination roll out continues and spring gifts us sunshine and new flowers. We couldn’t help but fear the budget slightly, many of us have not saved in this crisis many of us face financial hardship, so the thought of rising taxes is a scary one. All of us are grateful to still be here.

I saw my mum for the first time in a month, with PPE and distancing of course, we also celebrated Mother’s Day in the UK this month, I was able to order my mum a very practical present from the internet (all shops shut during Lockdown) so I was grateful to be able to offer more than supermarket flowers in return of the love she gives us and the life she gave me.

I needed a month to finish my work contract and concentrate on some desk time. I created a new platform/website for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe after we ran into major difficulties with our old server (after several full days of work on it). I also started flexing my notebook muscles as a warm up to next month’s crazy NaPoWriMo.

Week 1:

I spent most of this week rebuilding and launching a new website for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. Go and check out the latest news and competitions.

The University of Glasgow have a fantastic series called Creative Conversations, they are free to join, well attended webinars on Zoom. Interview/Reading followed by Q&A. This month I had the pleasure of listening in to Don Paterson‘s session with Carolyn Jess-Cooke.

Classes continue with Tawnya Renelle in Creative Experimental and I started ‘Hearts & Minds’ with Zelda Chappel. I continued to workshop poems with Rakaya Fetuga‘s Spoken Word group although, sadly this is the final month the CARAF centre can offer. They have done an amazing job throughout all three lockdowns offering free workshops. I continue to heal with Redwing and the team in the states. This month they released their Winter edition which included the poems I shared at the Reimagine Festival event last Autumn.

The Poets in Motion class have sent all parts of the unity poem in for editing, three members of the team have collated them into a poem for an anthology later in the year. I still can’t believe we lost Celena.

The Hive – Worcestershire Libraries have continued to provide the Poetry Bubble with Amanda Bonnick, Polly Stretton and Caz…. It is a lovely event, very laid back and a great number of audience as well as readers. I was really tired by the middle of the week, but glad I made it, as it made me feel much better.

By Thursday I was drained and slept for 4 hours when I got home from work, which meant I missed everything I had noted in the diary, but if 2019 taught me anything, it was to/ how to listen to my body. I had a hospital appointment the day before with the consultant so was not surprised by my fatigue, even that journey to and in the hospital is tough enough. Fortunately I woke in time for Arrival at Elsewhere, a Cheltenham Poetry Festival event. Read the write up here.

I finished the week with a weekend of poetry readings, workshops and groups. Love in Polyvocal Times with Judy Grahn was a great reading. Valuable. Generous.

Judy Grahn is one of the most significant poets and activists of our times, an author whose work makes an extraordinary contribution to queer studies, poetics and feminism. Grahn’s publications include Hanging on Our Bones (Arktoi Books, 2017), Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling (Red Hen Press, 2008), The Judy Grahn Reader (Aunt Lute, 2014), The Queen of Swords (Beacon Press, 1990), The Queen of Wands (Crossing Press, 1982), A Simple Revolution (Aunt Lute, 2012), Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World (Beacon Press, 1994), Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds (Triangle Classics, 2016), Mundane’s World (Crossing Press, 1988).

Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender and Erotic Power (Nightboat, 2021) is forthcoming this year.

“All the poets I know look upon Judy Grahn with admiration and awe, convinced that she’s leagues ahead of us, superhuman in her power and insight. But the poet of these chants of grief and frustration–and hope–is human for sure, torn by the same powerlessness and disgust at prevalent social conditions as the rest of us–it’s only that she has lightning at her command–a magic of writing that illuminates, shreds darkness like confetti, and lets us see past the end of each page, past all our histories, a magic that lets us glimpse a previously unimagined future.” – Kevin Killian

I went to the poetry event for Fairtrade Connections – Community Arts Festival for Fairtrade Fortnight 2021 Clare Shaw read from her volume Flood about the devastating floods in Hebden Bridge in 2016 and Zoe Brigley Thompson and Kristian Evans read from their upcoming anthology 100 Poems to Save the Earth. It was a pleasure to watch and listen.

I finished building the website for WLF and started putting some work in on my own manuscript. I did a Haiku workshop with Anna Yin, enjoyed readings from Jill Abram, Fahad Al-Amoudi & Malika Booker at Live from The Butchery, incredible as always.

I finished the night off with readings from the Poetry Book Society 2020 Competition winners. The winners of the 2020 International Book & Pamphlet Competition as chosen by Imtiaz Dharker and Ian McMillan were:

Rosalind Easton

for her collection, Black Mascara (Waterproof)

Jill Penny

for her collection, In Your Absence

Wendy Pratt

for her collection, When I Think of My Body as a Horse

Sarah Wimbush

for her collection, The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster

It was an incredible launch, plenty of emotive poems and a great Q&A. It is a shame for the winners that it had to be virtual, but with 140 people in attendance from all over the world, their words had a far reach this evening and will linger in both heads and hearts for some time to come, I am sure.

Week 2

I managed to catch most of Kirstin Innes Creative Conversations, from the University of Glasgow. A good start to International Women’s Day. After an eye test I celebrated my eyesight not worsening (for the second year running), by watching 4 fantastic Cardiff poets, two whom I know and two who were new to me, love my ear discovering new-to-me poets. I managed to catch Jinny Fisher and Katrina Naomi at Cafe Writers, before calling it a night.

Sadly, we lost another writer and great teacher last month, Celena Diana Bumpus. I started her Poets in Motion course back in Spring 2020 -Lockdown 1. I was due to be a guest in her new writing series rolled out 2021 alongside the plethora of classes this superwoman fuelled writer offered! She was always busy helping others. A memorial has been organised for April where we will gather to celebrate the blessing of knowing her. The poets on my course have all managed to reunite and are sharing messages and updates. Especially those who are based in the Riverside area, USA. This week there was news of an article published Sunday 7th. The headline of which was taken from one of her social media feeds as a message to us all; ‘Live long enough to become a metaphor.’

I received a couple of invites to guest read, one of which is an international reading. Last year I did a lot with the Walt Whitman Birthplace. In the summer I submitted several of coronavirus poems for an anthology, Corona, which was being produced in collaboration with Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, edited by Gayl Teller (Nassau County Poet Laureate 2009-11 & Walt Whitman Birthplace 2016 Poet of the Year.) I was delighted when I heard that they were publishing a couple of my poems and in April I shall share one at the launch.

I did three wonderful workshops this week, the first was postponed from February – Lines in the Sand workshop, which was great fun. A poetry workshop with James Davies as part of the New Words Festival and a workshop with Rebecca Morgan Frank which was fantastic.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Robert Seatter’s reading at Poets Cafe on Friday night and managed to wake up early enough to make it back to Perth Poetry Club (all practise for early morning Recoil 12 anthology launch on the 27th).

And I was able to see mum (socially distanced) for Mother’s Day too.

Week 3

This was a week filled with tutorials to put the finishing touches to the competition pages for the Worcestershire LitFest website, readings and writing. I am still busy working on a couple of projects and look forward to April/May when I can commit more time to these.

I missed some events noted in the diary due to sleep. My body is currently suffering a lot and I am hoping next week will bring a slower pace (a couple of weeks off for Easter will help and heal). I haven’t been on a walk this year at all! I have walked but only to get somewhere. Appointments at the Drs, opticians, pharmacy collections or across car parks and forecourts – all great lockdown (not locked down/working) highlights. I cannot wait to get back to nature and see how busy it has been for the past 3.5 months!

Over the next fortnight I managed to miss Kim Addonizio three times, thank goodness I caught her at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Highlights include Goldsmiths with Michael Rosen (who suffered badly from Covid) and has written a book called ‘Many Different Kinds of Love’. I went to the Resilience as a Poet Panel, postponed from February. It was a valuable hour. I finally made it back to Sheffield Libraries and a creative writing workshop on Home. And watched the PBS book launch for Michael Schmidt and saw Joy Harjo as part of the Emory Libraries programme.

Week 4

It was our final week with Zelda Chappel and her wonderful, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED classes/workshops. I thoroughly enjoyed this group and now need to put the work in to mould the scaffolded poems from March.

Mass Poetry has been a joy, the main festival happens in May (13th-16th) but this month they ran a series of 3 workshops around water. This week I attended What the Waters Have Made Us with Eleni Sikelianos and Lucía Hinojosa. It was fantastic, fun and worth staying up late for.

Tamworth Literature Festival and Manchester Literature Festival started this week. Tamworth runs for a few days and Manchester for a couple of weeks. I really enjoyed Mancs. Lit Fest in 2020 and have booked onto a couple of my favourite poets. This week was Roger Robinson, a generous and insightful event. This man is incredible. If you have not discovered him, please do.

Manchester Literature Festival 2021

I performed at the Open Mic Night at the Tamworth Poetry Festival.

The weekend saw the launch of Recoil 12 Anthology. Coral Carter (Mulla Mulla Press) has been producing these anthologies featuring a selection of head liners from Perth Poetry Club for 12 years. The 10th anniversary edition was a huge collection but generally the year denotes the number of poets. It was an honour to be selected for this 12th edition anthology and I am in LOVE with the cover.

The back of The Moon is decorated throughout the year and at one point featured this Zebra print – I remember it. Another joy was the poem came from my 2018 Perth writing (which after bad health/other projects) I am only just getting around to writing. I haven’t submitted many poems from it yet, but all sent have found homes. Which bodes well for this body of work.

It was an early start 5:50 A.M but worth every minute to be part of this celebratory event.

Saturday night saw the last of the CARAF centre Spoken Word Workshops with Rakaya Fetuga too. The group is a mix of experienced and new writers and it has been a real joy. We have decided to continue meeting and workshopping together even though the project – which ran for a year, throughout all 3 UK Lockdowns has come to an end.

The month was finished off with a Book Launch, Worcester 42 and some readings. Chaucer Cameron & Cheryl Moskowitz launched their new pamphlets on Sunday afternoon. A wonderful event attended by over 125 people. It was lovely to see many poets I know.

Against the Grain Press present In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered by Chaucer Cameron and Maternal Impression by Cheryl Moskowitz

In addition to readings from Chaucer and Cheryl we have guest readers Lucy English and Isabelle Baafi. Read my write up of this remarkable event here.

NaPoWriMo Warming Up

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It’s that time of year again, AWF is signed up to the main website and I will be participating in NaPoWriMo for the (I have lost count) maybe my 8th year. Since I discovered it in 2014. I often join in with groups and more than one daily prompt but after the year I have had so far and still wrestling deadlines, I will just be logging into the main website for prompts. At least this is my intention – but who knows. April can get crazy!

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know I rarely post an entire poem, rather I post daily posts about my NaPo process and motivation/tips to get you through your 30 days of Poetry. Every year I have had some successful publication with Napo poems (after a little work). Editing is not part of the NaPo process. Just write for now.

The other bonus of Napo* is I always finish the month with a ton of new poetry resources and often discover some-new-to-me poets.

*Nowadays it’s known as GloPoWriMo and rightly so as it is a global event, I’m old school and prefer to call it NaPo.


NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April (USA). The founder of is Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC

Inspired by NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month), she started writing a poem a day for the month of April back in 2003, posting the poems on her blog. When other people started writing poems for April, and posting them on their own blogs, Maureen linked to them. After a few years, so many people were doing NaPoWriMo that Maureen decided to launch an independent website for the project. ©


How does it work? Simple — just write a poem every day from April 1 to April 30… If you fall behind, you can catch up. If you feel like writing two poems a day, go for it! The idea is just to get your creative juices flowing. As always, we’ll be featuring a new, optional prompt every day during the month, as well as a bonus “early-bird” prompt that will be posted on March 31. Each day we’ll also feature a participant’s work. And one positive of the pandemic has been that poetry reading series have moved online, so it’s easier than ever to see and hear your favorite poets read their work. We’ll feature a reading every day, alternating between recorded videos of past readings that you can peruse at your leisure, and scheduled readings that you can watch live. ©

So, grab yourself a brand new notebook, save a document/folder for NaPo Prompts and Poems on your tech and get some rest before April begins. Are you ready for a month of writing poetry? Of course you are!

ATG Book Launch Chaucer Cameron and Cheryl Moskowitz


Against the Grain Press present In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered by Chaucer Cameron and Maternal Impression by Cheryl Moskowitz

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of being one of many (126 attendees), at this book launch. It was lovely to see people I know and spend a few hours listening to and celebrating poetry.

I have known about Chaucer’s pamphlet for a while and was able to celebrate the publishing contract with her (virtually, of course) in 2020, I saw her International Guest Reading and have heard many poems from this pamphlet. It is a difficult and necessary subject and I am delighted for her that ATG picked it for one of the 2021 Pamphlets.

This was such an amazing event, I am struggling to put my feelings into words. It will take a while for my mind (and heart) to settle. It was remarkable, a phenomenal reading of poems from four skilful poets. The subject matter of much of the work had my emotions staggering, I was prepared for In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered but I hadn’t readied myself for what I have just experienced. I don’t think I could have.

As far as Book Launches go, we all witnessed something so much more. I felt we had been churned by a rough sea voyage and sprinkled with the relief of a shower after a long, muddy trek. We were taken to some incredibly dark places and also bound to cherished, unconditional love.

I feel like I spent the afternoon in some sort of immersive performance piece. These books carry stories which are difficult to read. As humans it is always hard for us to be open to the truth of what we do to each other, our potential to harm and destroy. They are also mighty pamphlets brimming with monumental poems.

Abegail Morley introduced the event and Cheryl Moskowitz. Cheryl introduced us to her Guest Poet, Isabelle Baafi, who gave us an incredible reading from her pamphlet, Ripe which was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice: Spring 2021 Selections. I can see why it was selected.

“Ripe is a pamphlet which draws on the mundane to forge beauty, using sensual tones to deal with and address harsh subject matter. Baafi’s poems are great inventions in terms of their use of form. Throughout this book, her use of language is never laboured in its endeavour to draw the reader’s attention. […] Overall, Baafi’s poems often step outside the rational and waking consciousness in order to investigate other realms, be that paranoia, dream states etc. […] Through her lyric poems, prose poetry, erasures and much besides, Baafi offers us a complex world worth savouring, as she revels in language both sacred and profane. This is a pamphlet to enjoy and a poet to watch.”
— Nick Makoha and Mary Jean Chan, PBS Pamphlet Selectors

Her work is wonderful, powerful and honest. Stunning poems. Something special. Isabelle’s work spoke to Cheryl’s work well. And was a perfect set.


Cheryl Moskowitz shared work from Maternal Impression. Cheryl’s work was both enthralling and epic. She talked generously about the inspiration behind the poems and some of the places, narratives and people featured throughout her work. Cheryl also shared an astonishing film poem produced by her filmmaker son for ‘A Son Awake’.

“Every time I have heard Cheryl Moskowitz read “The Donner Party”, strange things have happened – a bell has rung with no-one at the door, candles have guttered in a church setting, and shivers always run down my spine. Moskowitz’s poetry summons spirits and spills beyond the words on the page into a mystical space where we are all connected in body and mind. These are poems that once read or heard, leave their mark. Mesmeric, soul-feeding, uneasy, I come back to them again and again for reassurance, admonishment, and recognition of what it is to hang onto the maternal in our collective journey. Maternal Impression is a call to arms – maternal arms – and all that implies in the Anthropocene. It has a beating heart that needs to be heard, felt, and heeded.” – Lisa Kelly

“Reading Maternal Impression is to have the feeling of walking on nails with bare feet, with the assurance of trust. I go tenderly where these fine poems take me, knowing they will advance my pleasure, my empowerment.” – Daljit Nagra 

Jessica Mookherjee introduced Chaucer Cameron, both poets spoke highly of their editing experience with ATG. Chaucer talked about an interview with Jeffrey Sugarman ‘Voicing our Silences‘ about the impact of prostitution and trauma on the body. Chaucer introduced Lucy English as her Guest Reader.

The Book of Hours

Burning Eye Books

This book has recently become a filmmaking project with 27 filmmakers involved. Lucy wanted to create it in three-dimensional form. You can discover more and watch here.

Lucy shared some of her Lockdown writing, after expressing how difficult creativity has been at this time. Her poetry was brilliant, cinematic, microscopic, the specific and this new work captured the feeling of being trapped well.

Chaucer Cameron read an epic set, strong, brave, vulnerable poems which hinge around characters in the industry, including Crystal. It is an incredible body of work and like nothing I’ve ever read. As Chaucer says ‘the characters have their own reasons for being in the industry and only they know where they stand at any given time‘.

In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered is part memoir/part fiction and is Chaucer’s debut pamphlet. The poems explore the impact of prostitution.  

“These poems ring out like gunshots in the night; they will wake you from your sleep. Yet despite its distilled directness, this book is lifted by both mystery and surprise. Listen for the songs emerging from the dark centre of this transformative work of experience and survival.’  Jacqueline Saphra.  

Chaucer also shared a film poem made by Helen Dewbery ‘Hooked (with internal song)‘. Another amazing work.

Both poets spoke of their connections to each other having never met they discovered amongst other things, giving birth to their children in the same hospital.

Every reading was outstanding! I love being introduced to new-to-me poets and Isabelle Baafi and Cheryl Moskowitz are now both on my reading list. It was a joy to watch two new poetry films. ATG asked for our questions and plan to produce blog content with the Q&A. It was such a rich and full afternoon of content I am glad they didn’t add a Q&A on. As audience we were stunned and needed time to sit in the sensations we felt. I look forward to reading the Q&A from the ATG poets soon. Instead we heard extra poems from Cheryl and Chaucer.

There really are no words to express this Book Launch, those lucky enough to have been there, know.

BUY the books here.

World Poetry Day 2021


World Poetry Day is like Christmas Day for poets, usually lots of events on offer. I am usually involved in organising something special but with the plates I am spinning it crept up on me this year, so I spent Friday night panning for gold.

This is what I came up with:

Apples & Snakes organised 3 international workshops which have been productive and I even have a poem I am fairly happy with to work on.

Jean Atkin has collaborated with artist Katy Alston and they have their Fair Acre Press Book Launch today with John Sewell, Carl Tomlinson and Steve Griffiths.

Later, the wonderful Rose Condo has organised 21 poets from all over the world to perform for a special event to mark World Poetry Day.

The poems I have read today come from my current read, The Mizzy by Paul Farley.

Happy World Poetry Day 2021


Happy World Poetry Day 2021!

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

WPD 2021

There are many ways to celebrate World Poetry Day (especially this year, as the world has moved online)! WLF have compiled some family friendly ideas and website resources. Enjoy!


The story behindWorld Poetry Day.

The Poetry Station an Arts Council funded project for the English and Media Centre. The aim was to create a freely accessible web-based video channel and portal for poetry. Bringing together the diverse worlds of poetry from the Classics to Slam.

Poetry Society

A link to a multitude of resources and poetry.

Article – Creative Cities Network

Read how the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature are joining forces to celebrate WPD.

Recognizing the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirits of people around the globe, this year’s celebration echoes the objectives of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and fosters synergies between literature and other artistic fields…

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Arrival at Elsewhere – Cheltenham Poetry Festival


I was lucky enough to be at this Reading, hosted by Cheltenham Poetry Festival at the beginning of March (4th). It was incredibly moving and the whole time I was thinking what a powerhouse of a project it was, what an undertaking. Although, in the Q&A Carl Griffin (curator) brushed it off as not being overly complicated. Many of us feel we wouldn’t have known where to begin. He started with a kitchen table and some cut up pieces. Carl looked for pattern and he was certainly able to orchestrate that. It was interesting to hear about the process of the book coming together from the initial idea to the finished product. I am still amazed at the seaming of 100 voices into one book length poem.

Carl Griffin talks more about the process here.

This book is more than a chronical of our times.

Money raised from book sales goes to NHS Charities Together. The link below the book cover will take you to the ordering page. £11.99 incl P&P to UK/ £13.99 to the rest of the world.

You can watch an extract/ film poem by Karen Dennison.

This was originally posted on

You can read an excerpt from the book here.

As well as sharing work from Arrival at Elsewhere the poets shared some of their own work. George Szirtes treated us, revealing some new poems from his next book.

Abegail Morley

Julian Stannard

John Glenday

Graham Clifford

George Szirtes

Here is the information from Cheltenham Poetry Festival about the event and the Publisher (Against the Grain Poetry Press) promotion.

A reading from the epic, pandemic-inspired book – Arrival at Elsewhere( Against the Grain Press).

Arrival at Elsewhere is a ground-breaking, book-length poem, curated by Carl Griffin, in which poets from across the world speak in one voice in response to 2020’s life-changing pandemic.

Arrival at Elsewhere symbolises the fact that all people, no matter our differences, are equally vulnerable, and this rich and eclectic joint voice is a made up of a multitude of individual experiences.

This book-length poem contains lines from T.S. Eliot Prize winners (Philip Gross, Sean O’Brien, George Szirtes), National Poetry Competition winners (Linda France, Beatrice Garland), and a Pulitzer Prize winner (Yusef Komunyakaa), alongside several newcomers and overlooked veteran poets, and seeks to raise money for NHS.

The book is edited by Carl Griffin. Carl Griffin lives in Swansea, in South Wales. He has written extensively on Welsh poetry and poets, in the form of reviews and essays. Though born in Stockton-on-Tees, in 1984, he has spent most of his life living in each of the Welsh cities, and these are the places that inspire many of his poems.  His poetry collection, Throat of Hawthorn, was a winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize and was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Readers at the event include  Abegail Morley, George Szirtes, John Glenday, Julian Stannard and Graham Clifford.

© Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2021

In this book-length poem, curated by Carl Griffin, poets from across the world speak in one voice in response to 2020’s life-changing pandemic. Not a definitive voice, nor an authoritative one. But a contrasting, contradicting, confused voice, set both in the UK and everywhere else, represented by one narrator who, just like the rest of us, is made up of a hundred different people. A narrator cohesive only in his/her/their contemplation of Elsewhere.

Elsewhere has arrived…

to everyone affected by the Covid-19 pandemic – in aid of NHS Charities Together


When the idea for this book was pitched to us it was still fairly early in the global Covid-19 pandemic. We were all still probably in a state of shock. All locked down, uncertain what was happening – we certainly felt we had landed in a new place. All three of us, like many poets, were unsure how to creatively assess this new situation. That’s why we wanted to support this book. A collaboration of sorts, a creation of a road through all the work of poets who contributed to its making and a maker who has sensitively crafted this winding path of a poem from all our tongues. We are happy to support this work and its intention to support the NHS.

Abegail Morley, Karen Dennison and Jessica Mookherjee
Against the Grain Poetry Press

© Against the Grain Poetry Press 2021

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2021


A brand new website for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. Find out about all the 2021 competitions, join in with virtual open mics at SpeakEasy (9th April) and coming soon announcements for Worcestershire LitFest 2021.


7-17 years old/ FREE entry/ International


300 words £4 or £10 for 3 entries/ International

And if you are a resident of Worcestershire, for £5 you can enter the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition.

Happy International Women’s Day 2021 #IWD


#HappyInternationalWomensDay We can choose to challenge & call out gender bias & inequality. We can choose to seek out & celebrate women’s achievements. From challenge comes change, so let’s all #ChooseToChallenge

IWD 2021 in AWF – Challenge with Spoken Word

International Women’s Day 2021


There are many online events marking IWD – there are always Spoken Word and Poetry events that mark this day, the joy of this year was discovering the Creative Profiles on the main IWD site include poets.

Almost too many choices happening this evening, but you will find there are events throughout the week for IWD. I booked a ticket for an event tonight a long time ago, so haven’t even explored other events as I know I won’t be able to make them and then that just makes me feel frustrated.

All information and images below are ©International Women’s Day/IWD2021 (unless otherwise stated) and the text is from the official website.

IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

#IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge

For full information on Women Creatives click here.

Firstly, a poet I was lucky enough to meet and hear during the first Lockdown, Sharena Lee Satti. She has been snapped up by Verve Poetry Press.

Sharena Lee Satti is an independent spoken word artist, author and workshop facilitator who writes with her emotions to the fore, her heart at the centre, and a power that can leave peopple breathless. 

“My poems are real, raw and honest – addressing issues like survival, cultural-identity, life’s battles, self-love, body dysmorphia and many subjects people struggle to speak out about,” says Sharena.

Writing has never been optional for Sharena Lee Satti. Like eating and breathing, it’s something integral to her existence. Everyday she is thankful to be able to make a small difference to society, sharing something she is deeply passionate about.


When you choose to challenge… through spoken word poetry

Anisa Nandaula is a very talented spoken word poet, play writer, educator and published author

Spoken word is one of the most powerful forms of poetry because it passionately expresses the poet’s deepest thoughts while simultaneously engaging and inspiring listeners. So, spoken word poetry seems a perfect medium to reinforce and amplify this year’s International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge theme. Spoken word poets from around the world are stepping forward in solidarity to choose to challenge. 

Anisa was born in Kampala, Uganda and later moved to Australia at the age of 8. Growing up in Australia, Anisa observed the vast distinctions between these two countries and the fundamental difference in living standards sparked her passion to use her voice to articulate her thoughts on social justice. Her poetry explores issues of race, feminism and politics – while employing her talent and wisdom to educate and engage people to have difficult and challenging conversations. Her often controversial work explores the complexities of being a child of diaspora, history and the importance of philosophical questioning. Anisa’s soulful and passionate performance style is incredibly moving.

Some of Anisa’s most influential poems see her confrontationally and powerfully explore concepts of identity, violence and worth.

Anisa has received a multitude of accolades, appeared at numerous high-profile events, and performed upon many prestigious stages including at the Sydney Opera house.

Anisa discusses her passion, struggles and inspiration

“I guarantee there are going to be moments where you want to give up – where you don’t think that you’re good enough or your ideas are good enough – but you have to be resilient enough to keep going…There are going to be days when no one believes in your idea but you, but you have to have belief in what you can see and what you can be in yourself,” says a young Anisa.

Aminah Rahman is an award-winning British-Bangladeshi poet and spoken word artist

Aminah Rahman is a 17-year-old award-winning published poet and spoken word artist born and raised in Cambridge, UK. She is a third-generation British-Bangladeshi with over 60 years of family history in Cambridge. She has been writing poetry since she was eight years old. Most of her poetry focuses on fighting racism and celebrating who we are as individuals. 

To support the International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge​ theme and to call upon further spoken word poets to step forward and use their voice to influence positive change, Aminah crafted an inspiring poem “Changing the Future”.

Aminah Rahman

Aminah’s mission is to break down any barriers that could stop people from reaching their potential, and she hopes to connect to the souls of many people who draw comfort from her words.

“I believe that it is important to be there for one another. I remember when I wrote my first rap ‘Accept Me Please’, after hearing stories about tackling racism. I ran up the stairs, taking two steps at a time as so many ideas came flooding in to me, and then I put pen to paper,” she explains. “I had never written so quickly! It was an incredible feeling knowing that I had my first rap right in front of my eyes. Poetry has enabled me to learn about the world around me and most importantly who I am as an individual.”

Winner of prestigious awards and accolades

Aminah wrote her first poetry collection Poems by Aminah in 2016. She then wrote Soul Change, her next collection of poems about social issues that affect humanity today. Five of Aminah’s poems have been published in Young Writers UK anthologies. Aminah is featured in the June 2020 edition of Writing Magazine, the UK’s biggest and bestselling magazine for writers, where she talks about her passion for poetry. Aminah was also recognised as one of the ‘Top 6 Most Influential Muslim Youth’ in Hayati Magazine, Nigeria’s #1 Muslimah fashion and lifestyle magazine.

She was the winner of the Young Muslim Writers Awards Key Stage 2 Poetry category in 2015. In 2017, she was the joint winner of the Cambridge News and Media Education Awards: Pupil of the Year award. She also took part in the BBC Upload Festival 2020, a festival that showcases talent from across England and the Channel Islands. Aminah represented Cambridgeshire with her poem ‘Please’. She has spoken at numerous events, actively promoting inclusion and diversity.

Using poetry to understand the people and the world

Aminah Rahman

Poetry can be a powerful mechanism for change. For Aminah, it is the heartbeat for change.

It helps her to understand and appreciate the way the world is today. Poetry is a form of expression that helps her to process her thoughts and feelings. Writing and reading poetry helps her to see things from a different perspective.

For Aminah, words are the best reflections. “Poetry helps me to empathise with others and it leads us to love. It also helps me to understand my own identity. My journey has helped me to discover my own voice. Poetry is a powerful gift because it addresses feelings which can be hard to describe. Poetry brings us together,” she adds.

©International Women’s Day/IWD2021

I will be celebrating with some women I know this evening.

And I couldn’t post IWD without a link back to one of the many anthology collections I edited/curated as Worcestershire Poet Laureate in 2018. This one came from a Mini Workshop I facilitated in The Hive, based on the wonderful exhibition they displayed to mark 100 years of votes for women/ the Suffragette Movement. Those women certainly chose to challenge! #ChooseToChallenge.

Suffragettes Anthology – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2018

I was the 7th WPL and the 4th woman to take the role, my plate was very full 3 years ago, so for IWD I created this call out IWD which resulted in this brilliant post all about female poets and inspirational & influential women. Many listed are friends of mine and poets I know, I have now (in the past 3 years read all of them), maybe you will find a new read somewhere in there and they are all STRONG women!

I couldn’t quite leave it there – I created this post with the former female Worcestershire Poets Laureate – Maggie Doyle (2012-13), Heather Wastie (2015-16) & Suz Winspear (2016-17) celebrating their work and influential women in their lives.

It’s IWD – it can’t pass without another watch of Amanda Gorman!

And, from the power of performance through words of wisdom, we reflect on that moment when our spirits were ignited across the world by the stirring call from Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman who delivered her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. An American poet and activist, Amanda Gorman’s work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization. © International Women’s Day 2021

#IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge

I have always been a letter writer, at 13 I had 33 International pen-pals and many of us wrote well into our 20s and have since found each other via social media! Lifelong friendships. I used to love receiving post… nowadays it is mainly business and bills but occasionally someone sends me gold. I was overjoyed to see this… although (typically) it is a no-post day for me. A wonderful gesture from the Royal Mail.

Millions observe Royal Mail’s significant #ChooseToChallenge awareness raising efforts

Thank you to the UK’s Royal Mail for celebrating International Women’s Day, raising community awareness, and amplifying the call-to-action to #ChooseToChallenge. ⁠

Royal Mail’s special #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge postmark is being applied to millions of stamped mail items over three days of the International Women’s Day period. 

Important support for women’s empowerment

Royal Mail’s special moment-related postmarking provides an important opportunity to amplify key messsages, mobilize positive action, and engage communities.

Not only will women appreciate the organization’s support in reinforcing equality, but the #IWD2021 #ChoooseToChallenge postmarking is relevant to all genders inviting people to courageously step forward and call out stereotyping, bias and discrimination. 

© The Guardian 2014

An iconic organization where women choose to work, Royal Mail is one of the oldest organizations in the world, and can trace its origins back over 500 years to 1516.

They are also one of the UK’s largest employers and mantain a solid focus on diversity and equal opportunity within its workforce.

Royal Mail Group has a strong community engagement focus which provides an important opportunity for its people to interact and build relationships with the communities they serve – and this is of benefit to both parties. The organization’s ongoing commitment to community engagement is significant.

© Alison Evans @artsyalisondesigns

Typography From the Creatives IWD.

Alison Evans is from Sacramento in California, USA and her design focuses on challenging and calling out gender bias and inequity. ” I love the empowerment in the message and knew I had to create something that not only celebrates the day, but shows solidarity with the mission,” she says.

“I like to serve up positive, uplifting art with a side of feminism and pop culture. The main focus of my work is based on my own personal experiences with mental health, feminism and being raised by the television screen. While most of my work is focused on illustration, my main inspiration and motivation is typography, lettering and calligraphy.” 

“My concept behind my IWD design is that I really wanted to embody the celebration of women’s achievements and promote a sense of inclusion and togetherness. Hands are something I gravitate towards illustrating, so I thought that holding hands would be a perfect depiction of that idea. I also wanted to incorporate the international symbol for women, and decided to include that with the background pattern.”

“For the process, the program I use for all of my lettering/typography/illustration is Procreate. I started with the message: ‘Happy International Women’s Day’ and decided I wanted to have that as the biggest element in the design. I sketched the lettering out first and realized that I had a blank spot underneath the lettering portion. As mentioned, I enjoy drawing hands so I thought this would be a perfect addition to the design at the bottom. I sketched those until they fit how I wanted them to, then went back and lettered the writing, and designed the ribbon-like texture to it. After that, I finalized the hands and colored them in. I always have a problem selecting colors, so that part took a long time, but I finally settled on a darker background so that the messaging popped.”

“When it comes to IWD, I believe that as a society we need to celebrate women’s successes and stand up for gender parity in every aspect of life. Although I would love if everyday could be International Women’s Day, it is nice that we can set aside one day where we can focus our efforts on raising awareness about equality and come together for a common cause to celebrate the achievements the world has made in the goal of gender equity and inclusion.”

© International Women’s Day 2021

And finally pop over to this post to read some inspirational quotations from more authors.

World Book Day – A Delve into my Childhood Bookcase

Photo by cottonbro on

To celebrate World Book Day I decided to share books I loved as a child, where possible with the (now vintage) covers!

These are the stories that I have carried with me all my life, vividly remembered and still entice pure love when I think about them.

Stories have always carried my world.

I haven’t included links so the search can be part activity.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the first book I remember loving and playing with, those perfect holes. It is a book I have shared with hundreds of children since and is my top present choice for new borns, as well as something squidgy and soft of course.

I used to love flip flap books, pop up books and this wonderful one with a finger puppet that turned into a butterfly.

My father is a bibliophile too and I was brought up on Book Fairs, not like the modern ones that come to schools with perfect displays, these were dusty, ancient, preloved, rare… an antique fair for book lovers. He also used to stuff his study cupboards with 10p -£1 library resales, books we would grow into, books written so far in the past even the library had no use for them. He’d read me books with very male themes, possibly because I was more receptive to stories than my brothers at the time. He showed me the wonders of a 2nd hand bookshop.

No amount of search engine can track down two books from my first fair.
One about a cow who made jelly not milk with black and white line illustrations and then swirly muted inky rainbow colour doodles (like you used to do as a child when you held several crayons together at the same time to draw). This was a picture book horizontal layout.
The other book had a vertical layout, a bright red cover and a dot, in fact I think have been called Dot and the whole book was dots and sticks and incredible things happened.

I also loved the Spot books, the little flaps to lift.

I had Annuals every year for Christmas (those were the days), I remember one of my early favourites was my Andy Pandy‘s annual. A favourite TV programme of my mum’s. I also love spots (not just Spot the dog), so I loved my early books by the covers too. In searching, I discovered the one I had was published in my birth year.

Obviously it isn’t as original as I thought to buy books for new-borns that aren’t age appropriate soft ones!

I discovered Beatrix Potter and loved how small the books were. I discovered a 70s staple (it wasn’t the 70s) in Shirley Hughes and Dogger, I think I mainly liked it because my little brother was called David and also had blonde hair like the boy in the illustrations.

Shortly afterwards I found Victoria Plum and later the Flower Fairies. I believe it may have been my Great Aunty who first introduced me to the pictures and when I discovered there were books my world exploded with stars! They had a deep impact on the 5-6 year old me.

Just as my baby book was not a book for babies around this time when I was still fairy tale bound, I was bought my first grown up book, my first novel. My copy is well thumbed was read by me for years of my childhood and is one of the few books I still have from back then. The Railway Children.

Enid Blyton became a favourite too and I read all the various series of books, some have stayed with me and some of my childhood copies (kept until I left for Uni and then donated to charity or sent to orphans) are so old I couldn’t find pictures of them.

I loved the Moomins books and the Worst Witch trilogy, I carried the, everywhere. There are now 8 in the set.

© Jill Murphy

I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. I found Ballet Shoes and other dance school books. 

I loved The Water Babies and remember having that read to me over and over. My Great Aunty was in the Reader’s Digest Club, so I demolished all the classics. Then we all discovered Judy Blume, Super Fudge was my first, I remember Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing taught me about the American school system, we were still in classes and soon to be Year 1. I remember  Tiger Eyes.

A few more favourite pre-11 book choices are The Size Spies which is the first book I bought from a School Book Fair – independently and without adult approval, I loved it – the first bump with Crime Fiction at the tender age of 9. And I remember having The House that Sailed Away read to us in the last class of First School before we all moved up to Middle School and went to Book Fairs and started spreading our book cover wings!

Of course there are 100s of other books I could mention but these are the ones which immediately sprung to mind when I asked myself the question… what was I reading when…?

A note on Copyright:

The cover and merchandise images have been collected from Marketplace websites

and photos shared on social media platforms unless otherwise cited.