Monthly Archives: October 2022

A Tale of Two Cities II


It gives me great pleasure to announce a project that has been underway since the summer.

We did it again! Poets from Worcester UK and Worcester USA paired up to write call-and-response poems.

In the original project there was a UK launch and a USA reading, but thanks to the wonders of technology we will all be united on Sunday 30th October, the start time will be 18:00 GMT (UK) and 14:00 EDT (USA) the link for the online event will appear here and on the BPP Facebook Event Page on the day. And yes, that’s definitely 18:00 start time UK, our clocks fall back this weekend!

Black Pear Press are delighted to be part of this project and will host the online event.

Background ~ Every tale starts somewhere.

The Original ATOTC

Back in 2017, when I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I embarked on a huge transatlantic project linking poets in Worcester UK with those in Worcester MA USA.

It was a massive undertaking on both sides of the pond and a wonderful, fulfilling project involving 47 poets. You can read all about it here:

Project Go Ahead

A Tale of Two Cities Begins

Poets Revealed

A Tale Nearly Ready to Tell

A Tale of Two Cities Anthology

And feast on the wonderful poetry which was written about our cities here.

Then there were launches and festival events for a while.

July 2018 Droitwich Arts Festival – Launch of ATOTC UK

Artsfest UK Launch A Tale of Two Cities

Then it was the turn for our partners in the USA.

A Tale of Two Cities Massachusetts

AT read promo

September 2018

I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.


I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.

US Reading ATOTC


The plans I had bore some fruition in 2019 when I produced a show with some of the UK poets, lots of film work and the helpful narration of an American relative, for the Evesham Festival of Words.

It had been booked for the festival in 2018, before the Perth Poetry Festival in Australia and before my stint in hospital and my Annus horribilis. It was not quite the year I thought it would be and neither was 2020.

As our lives moved online I caught up with WCPA crew at some events and thought about joining forces to celebrate the collection again.

Roll on a few years, many poets are still in contact with their partners and one of the UK poets, Polly Stretton, had a conversation about doing just that.

Photo by Sharefaith on

July 2022

After a few email exchanges with Rodger Martin and Bob Gill, an idea was floated to go beyond meeting online to read our original work… after some discussion we all agreed to repeat the Call & Response project. And ATOTC II was born.

Since then poets from the original team have been paired up to produce a new selection of poems, this time the theme was open and as before, there has been lots of fun! And this time after the reading, my future ideas for A Tale of Two Cities will bear fruit.

Photo by vectors icon on

A huge thanks to Polly Stretton for all her management skills, for compiling the programme and organising the tech and assisting with the promotion. It has been a blast. Thanks also to Black Pear Press.

And thank you to all the poets in Worcester UK and from WCPA Worcester Massachusetts, for your wonderful partnerships and poems. I cannot wait to celebrate with you all!

Photo by Vie Studio on

Come and join us

ATOTC II Event Page will include Zoom information on the day.


A Big Week for Some of my Poems


Back in the midst of Lockdown (2020) I was involved with several projects in Sheffield. One of which was Lab 4 Living Experiencing Ageing workshops with Joan Healey and Sheffield Libraries.

The outcome of which has been an exhibition in Sheffield Library, an anthology of selected poems from the project and more recently (Friday 21st October) The Poetics of Ageing as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words.

‘… one of the UK’s largest literary festivals. Every October we bring the biggest names in local, regional, and international literary talent, media and the arts to South Yorkshire.‘ – University of Sheffield.

It was an enjoyable project to be involved in, I love it when research turns to poets and it was my involvement in this project which led me to become a part of DNA: Our Stories for the Resonate Festival at Warwick University back in January.

Prior to the original 2020 project, I’d written about Dementia and experienced first hand the effects of this and Alzheimer’s disease. Lab 4 Living also enabled me the space to write more elder poems, which was always important to me but has been made doubly so since the loss of my Great Aunty and Grandma earlier this year.

I shared some of my poems from the anthology at a recent event for Droitwich Arts Network and the impact and conversations with audience over the conception of them and the Lab 4 Living project were rewarding and insightful.

An exploration of the wondrous process of growing older through poetry and prose.  The evening includes poetry from local writing groups about the felt experiences of ageing, readings of work by people living with dementia and provocative extracts from fiction.  We hope to create a space where we can share, play, gain new insights and perhaps re-imagine what it is to be older.  This event comes from a project  ‘Re-imagining ageing’ run by Joan Healey and Claire Craig as part of Lab 4 Living’s 100 Year Life research.

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright 

Curated by Sheffield Hallam University

I also received a commission to write for a special event. More news on that soon.

SpeakEasy Spectacular

SpeakEasy Spectacular

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

We had a magical night at our SpeakEasy Special with Decent Beings headlining the event, sharing words, art and humour.

Thanks to Leena Batchelor for these fantastic shots of the night and to Suz Winspear for hosting at the weekend.

Our Host Suz Winspear

Jay Rose Ana

Maria T

Freddie Barker

Leena Batchelor

Martin Driscoll

Nina Lewis

Skylar J Wynter – Decent Beings

Jeff Cottrill – Decent Beings

During the interval we had a raffle, lots of conversations and some delicious artwork to admire and buy, as well as books (and drinks, of course)!

Dragonfly Publishing

The 2nd half was filled by Decent Beings – a cracking fury of art and words!

Skylar J Wynter

Neshka Turner – Artist – Decent Beings

Artwork by Neshka Turner

Jeff Cottrill

Product placement by Jeff Cottrill

Tonight they are in Birmingham at a SOLD OUT event at Cherry…

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Decent Beings ~ Words & Art on Tour!

Decent Beings ~ Words & Art on Tour!

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

We are delighted to be the first stop on this tour, come and join us for an exciting night in Worcester!

Our SpeakEasy Special features the return of International Guest Poet, Jeff Cottrill and the he is not alone! He has teamed up with an incredible poet from Australia, Skylar J Wynter and talented artist, Neshka Turner who are collectively:

Decent Beings.

Open Mics are limited and going fast, you can book your 3 minutes by dropping us an email at the usual address: bookingsworcslit[at]gmail[dot]com


Jeff Cottrill (Canada), Skylar J. Wynter and Neshka Turner (Australia) are on a World Tour and their first stop is… WORCESTER!

Join us for a VERY special SpeakEasy.


Oct. 15: Worcester

Oct. 16: Birmingham

Oct. 18: Leeds

Oct. 20: Leicester

Oct. 21: Stamford

Oct. 22-23: Peterborough

Oct. 24: Paris

Oct. 27: Derry (NI)

Oct. 28: Letterkenny, Ireland


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