Author Archives: Nina Lewis

The Royal Wedding

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The Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding – The Tone is Set, a new poem as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

Poet Laureate

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It is not every Laureate who gets a Royal Wedding during their tenure. As this website has a huge International reach and this is a momentous occasion, I decided it was only fitting to gift a poem. 

The Tone is Set

In one smile
she shows the world
her dreams have come true.

Gentle songs meander
towards strong speeches –
Fire and Love.

The Prince and nearly Princess
absorb their connection,
fingers entwined.

A mother sits alone,
closes her eyes in prayer
as the choir trills the space.

Bishop Michael invites
the congregation to think
of the shape of love.

‘Think about the time
you first fell in love
in any form.’

The smile widens
as tears are wiped from cheeks,
hats bowed in thought.

‘We were made
by the power of love.’

A moment of almost silent
sign language is shared,
as lovers do. Before ‘I do.’

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Ash Dickinson Workshop & Licensed to Rhyme

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The perfect way to start any week is a Poetry Workshop and when that workshop is with Ash Dickinson, you know you have backed a winner!

I first met Ash back in April 2014 (I had to look that up), we were talking on Monday night about a particular gig in the Autumn of that year and I knew that was the 2nd time I caught his act but couldn’t remember when I actually first discovered his work. I have been a fan ever since of his surreal and sincere voice.

Having missed the opportunity to do a workshop in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme and because I had been at work all day, it was literally just down the road in the next village!

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So my poetry week started on a high! It was a fantastic workshop, a great group of poets (all of whom I knew) and what’s more – all of us managed to write poems, including Ash!

We worked from many lists of prompts (which leaves us with plenty to get stuck into post-workshop). Ash used various forms, including one new to all of us. I wrote my 2nd, 3rd and 4th ever Clerihew! I still feel wary of the poetry produced  but the genre falls into nonsensical as a technique so those question marks or perhaps exclamation marks appearing from my ears are allowed.

It was great to hear everyone’s responses to the prompts and some were even brave enough to share their raw work (including Ash) in their L2R sets later in the evening.

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Licensed to Rhyme, is always a great night, the brainchild of Maggie Doyle & Spoz. I haven’t been available to get to one for a while so I was looking forward to spending a sunny evening in Cafe Morso enjoying words.

Charley Barnes had the Guest Spot, Brenda Read-Brown tested new material, the workshop poets all had open mics and Ash Headlined.

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It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week. If people could just pop round to my lounge every Monday and recreate this I could start every Tuesday on a high! (A new idea awakens.)

Thanks Ash, for poems that definitely wouldn’t now be existence if it wasn’t for your workshop.

Discover his world for yourself here.

https://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/slinky-espadrilles-by-ash-dickinson

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https://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/strange-keys

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RELATED LINKS:

http://ashdickinson.com/

https://burningeyebooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/guest-blog-ash-dickinson-from-slinky-to-strange/

Diverse Verse 3 Charity Anthology Book Launch

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DIVERSE 3

Richard Archer produced the first Diverse Verse (2016) before I happened upon his charitable project, I made sure that I was on board when he did it again in 2017 and after creating Diverse Verse 2, he has done it again!

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I am proud to have a rather strange poem written during NaPoWriMo 2017 included in this publication. Proceeds go to Cancer Research UK.

Richard Archer commented on how the collection affords an opportunity for first time publication, which I think is great – you never forget the feeling of the first poem published.

The books are certainly diverse with a mix of known, novice and up and coming poets from all over the world, bound together in a perfectly formed paperback!

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Scott and Amy – owners of Walsall and the Black Country’s only independent bookshop. 

The Launch took place in Walsall at SouthCart Books on 28th April and was great fun. There may even be a write up in a Midland Arts Magazine soon. I will keep you posted. Rick Sanders, myself and Richard Archer were interviewed and offered insights into the project and the writing process/life of a poet.

There was a relaxed atmosphere throughout the launch and as ever Scott and Amy put on a generous spread and served hot drinks to keep us caffeinated, wine was available but I was driving.

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Richard Archer

The event ran from 11 – 3 PM and was divided into 3 readings with plenty of time to catch up, socialise and browse the Bookshop between each set. It was great to catch up with poets I have not seen for ages and to promote the last Laureate opportunities to them.

I also love the fact Southcart Books is open, so sometimes customers come and have a listen or just come to browse the shelves above your head as one guy did in the 3rd Reading.

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In the first section we heard 5 minute sets from these poets;

John mills
Liz mills
Mogs
Alison Reed
Mike Alma
Ian Henery
Matthew Cash
Martha Cash

Many performed the poem they had in the anthology alongside other work. Some sets were deeply moving and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back for a listen.

Then we had an interval, food, mingling – lots of love in the Bookshop.

There is a poetry chair people to read from (a tradition in the Bookshop).

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So I settled down (cake on shelf) to open the 2nd section;

Nina Lewis
Jan Wilkes
Pauline Faulkner
Claire Sutton
Kristina Griffiths
David Wilkinson
Al Barz
Paul Elwell
Amy Carter

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Then another break, more coffee and a final readings from;

Richard Archer
Rik Sanders
Leanne Cooper
Jerry Peterson
Matt Humphries
Rachel Oram
Dale Parnell
Grace Dore

A really superb launch and a great anthology. You can buy a copy here

Diverse verse 3 is a poetry collection full of the finest poems from across the globe.

Within its covers are words that will send hearts soaring with joy or just as easily bring them crashing back to earth. Turn a page and find yourself on the wrong side of an argument, lost in a fantastical city or battling with malevolent inner demons. Read on and live vicariously through the words within.

Diverse Verse 3 is sold to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

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© 2018 MNA Express & Star (photo taken in the first shop premises) – Scott Carter

RELATED LINKS:

http://southcart.weebly.com/southcart

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/diverse-verse-2-sells-out-again-at-southcart-books/

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – School Poetry Project

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Back in early Spring I attended a workshop where we were offered the opportunity to get involved with a project between Young Writers in Local Schools & the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

I registered my interest in March with Elizabeth Dollimore the Informal Learning and Programmes Manager and by April had received my two letters from local school children, in which they set a poetry challenge. My real challenge was the fast turn around with just 6 days to write two poems and get them posted back to the team at the Birthplace. As you know, April was busy – the week I was writing for this I was also organising the Poetry Exhibition at the Jinney Ring, facilitating 1 workshop for The Basement Project, attending another one (ironically in Stratford – but my poems were not ready to drop in) and had tickets to Idle Women.

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I knew I had to get the writing done before the weekend and here I faced a new set of challenges. Mainly everything had to be handwritten – nowadays I type almost everything. Still I thought it would be good for the children to see how great their handwriting was in comparison!

The poems were about peace, one pupil asked for humour and the other asked for nature to be included. The resulting poem ‘A Need for Peace’ was written using a rhyming scheme (rare in my work) and took a few drafts before it scanned properly, I think it was funny – hopefully my pupil did too. The second poem ‘Ground Control’ was brimming with nature and used terms to describe aspects of nature like ‘Komorebi’. They were both fun to write.

Along with the poems sent back we had to give the pupil a new poetry challenge which they then used in a workshop.

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This month I received an email from Julie Harris-Grant to say;

The local primary school has been in touch to say that the children were absolutely thrilled with their replies!  Your letters have really inspired them to engage with and enjoy a variety of poetry.

A second workshop was held at MENCAP and this has produced yet more exciting work for us to share.

 

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I enjoy any poetry projects which focus on Peace & Reconciliation, I love to collaborate and try something new.

It has been a pleasure to help connect young people to poetry and I am looking forward to the final event on the 23rd June as part of the

Poetry Festival 2018

Inspired by a theme of Peace and Reconciliation

where we get to meet the school teams and hear some of the work they have produced.

Black Box Poetry
Saturday 23 June, 2.00 -3.00 pm

Local school children, community groups and poetry enthusiasts have all been working with In-Public to create poetry about peace. Join us to hear the poems they created and be inspired by the talent and creativity on show.

This will take place at The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford Upon Avon, CV37 6QW

 

A word from Nina…

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The end of a 6 month commission, my longest yet.
Thanks to the team at Rugby Library for ensuring it was an amazing experience.

Thanks also to Roz Goddard for approaching me for an application and the WMRN for making it possible!

I was on a beach in Devon when I found out my bid had been successful and I will always remember how wonderful that news felt.

Warwickshire Libraries

I was delighted to have the opportunity of being a Reader in Residence for WMRN and was excited by the prospect of my 6 month residency at Rugby Library.

Over the residency I ran workshops, wrote blog posts, devised a reading challenge and was invited to close the residency as a Pop-up Poet for Mother’s Day, writing bespoke poems for Library users.

I managed to get an article in the local paper as a way of encouraging non-library users to take advantage of this free Mother’s Day card with unique poem and it was very busy. Demand was so high- I extended my time, ending only when the Library had to close. I was able to offer staff cards and poems as well.

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My links with the library and the team were always positive. It has been a pleasure to work with such enthusiastic, supportive staff.

As Reader in Residence…

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2018 Perth Poetry Festival Guest Biographies

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via 2018 Perth Poetry Festival Guest Biographies

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Australia just got real! The Biographies for International/National & Local poets appearing in the Festival line up for 2018.

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2018 Perth Poetry Festival

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WA Poets Inc

Internationla-Nepali-Poetry-Festival.jpg11- 19th August

Various venues

Festival launch – 16th August at Queens Building, 97 William St, Perth.

Check out the guests and their biographies at https://wapoets.wordpress.com/perth-poetry-festival/2018-perth-poetry-festival-guest-biographies/

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In Conversation – BMI Poetry Project

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Last night I had the pleasure of a reading in Birmingham at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, a booking which was taken last year.

We were competing with an event at Waterstones (Cinnamon Press Showcase which was postponed from earlier in the year and an event I would have attended myself), final assignment deadlines for Birmingham Universities and the sunshine which made an appearance around 4 PM and again at 8 and probably had most people running for their gardens!

Still we had a good time and it was great meeting new poetry lovers. I was surprised and delighted by the support of Roy McFarlane who is the current Poet in Residence at BMI and fast approaching the launch of his next collection (Nine Arches Press).

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I was a little nervous, I have 3 Guest Speaker events under my belt and a string of radio interviews but had never had a live Q&A in front of a theatre audience and I am always mindful of what people probably want to hear and the art of gentle disclosure.

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Photo credits Paul Stringer (Room 204) and PhotoGiraffe

Talking to people during the interval, the insights that came up were from points where I relaxed and answered honestly hiding behind the 4th wall (forgetting we were being watched). It was fun talking about writing and all things poetry.

The event was held in the John Lee theatre, acoustics were great. I had woken up without a voice and used it all day at work.

John Lee Theatre

I enjoyed the reading – the first half was Fragile Houses and the second part a mixture of poems from the book and some newer material. Again, lots of positive feedback and although the audience was not as large as hoped my work has found new ears.

The evening finished with an Open Mic and this was a chance for new performers. The poetry was good, some of it deeply moving and we even managed to convince Roy to treat us to a poem.

The sun was just setting as we made our way back to New Street (now Grand Central).

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Fragile Houses is now housed in the Library at BMI.

Huge thanks to Jo, who stepped into Serena Trowbridge’s shoes, I wish Serena a speedy recovery and look forward to more events the BMI has to offer.

Images © 2017 Birmingham & Midland Institute https://bmi.org.uk/

 

 

 

Against the Pull of Time Book Launch

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20th April

Back in April I had the pleasure of attending a book launch in my local Library, Against the Pull of Time is the latest pamphlet by Jenna Plewes, published by V. Press. It was a lovely way to spend a sunny Friday evening.

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The poems in this book were written on retreat on the island of Iona. Although some people in the audience had been there it is not a place I know. Or at least it wasn’t. By the end of the Launch, I felt I knew the geography of Iona and the feeling of the island well.

Jenna’s poems are brimming with a sense of place and left many of us longing to go and explore Iona for ourselves.

During the Q&A following the reading, it was interesting to hear what people thought and to listen to how different poems touched us. This demonstrates the eclectic coverage Jenna’s poems have.

Some people arrived part way through so we were lucky enough to hear some poems twice and listen to some Jenna had not planned to read at the launch.

A relaxed event. If the sun hadn’t been glowing, Jenna’s words alone would have filled the evening with warmth.

Jenna Plewes

Find a sample poem and buy a copy here.

“Against the Pull of Time is a spiritual and physical journey. On the island of Iona Jenna Plewes travels far into herself to come to terms with loss, ageing and mortality. The outer landscape is wonderfully realized. Sea, shore, shells, birds and buildings play a central role in her inner exploration. The immediacy of the pared writing in this sequence, its telling details and the sharing of a deeply-felt experience, draw the reader into Plewes’ journey.” Myra Schneider

“In tender, beautiful and unsentimental language Jenna Plewes takes us on a journey, walking barefoot on wet sand, sitting in a ruined nunnery, musing on the shoreline ‘handcuffed to the sea’. it is a long time since I have read a collection that moved me so. One line somehow says it all: ‘so many things are precious in the leaving and the letting go’. This is a collection I want to read over and over – also rare these days.” Roselle Angwin

Against the Pull of Time is very very deep-rooted and seamlessly woven.

© 2018 V. Press

 

 

Mighty Force – Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists!

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I have had the pleasure of knowing this lot since 2014/15. Back in 2016 Emma Purshouse, Steve Pottinger and Dave Pitt banded together to form Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists, a year later their show was created.

It premiered at the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton in April 2017 before they toured around the country and completed a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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“This isn’t just poetry, it’s storytelling, and most importantly it’s theatre. Glorious theatre, framed in a manner which gives space for the work to shine but keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout.” – Neil Reading, Director of Arena Theatre.

“Excellently framed, excellently delivered. The right amount of peaks, troughs, and misty-eyed bits.” – Matt Panesh, Artistic Director, Edinburgh Free Fringe.
“Chaucer with scratchcards.” – Jimmy Andrex, poet.

Now these three poets are industrious so alongside their show they created Yes We Cant a night of Spoken Word at Pretty Bricks in Walsall,  a pub that does indeed have pretty bricks. 34b10f6f8294900e524a14bf8ffdc85c

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I was fortunate enough to make their opening night back in June, Jonny Fluffypunk and Paul Francis headlined and it was fabulous!

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Fast forward almost a year and this monthly event is still going strong.

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And earlier this year the Wolverhampton Poetry collective announced a new project to raise the profile of poetry in and of the Black Country. They managed to obtain an Arts Council grant which enabled them to roll out a whole programme and get other local artists involved. The Black Country Broadsheet was produced which includes commissioned poems, videos have been made and professional photo shoots have been enjoyed.


CASEY BAILEY • BONES • JEREMY GRANT • R.M. FRANCIS
MOGS • RICK SANDERS • MARIANNE BURGESS

are the other poets commissioned for the project (see Rick, you got your commission, no more writing about fake ones).

 

Poet Steve Pottinger said: ‘This project is all about taking poetry to people who don’t think they like it, who don’t know it’s being written and performed in pubs and clubs around them, and who may never have attended or enjoyed a live event.

So, if you’ve got friends who you think might be interested, please tell them about it. We’re doing everything we can to show them the best local, contemporary performance poetry.’

Black Country Artsfoundry © 2018

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The project showcases the poets across 5 free events and has done just what they hoped it would. New poets have been found, some bravely taking to the mic for the first time (and blowing us out of the water!) and new to poetry people have decided it is not a bad night out after all.

  • Dudley: 9 April, Cafe Grande, 7pm – Jeremy Grant, Rick Sanders aka Willis the Poet, Marianne Burgess, Dave Pitt
  • Walsall: 16 April, The Pretty Bricks, 7pm – Emma Purshouse, R.M. Francis, Mogs, Bones
  • Great Bridge: 19 April, Great Bridge Library, 7pm – Steve Pottinger, Emma Purshouse, Jeremy Grant, Rick Sanders aka Willis the Poet
  • Stourbridge: 9 May, Claptrap, 7pm – R.M. Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger, Casey Bailey
  • Wolverhampton: 15 May, The Lighthouse, 7pm – Bones, Casey Bailey, Marianne Burgess, Dave Pitt

Due to a hectic work schedule, editing, writing and NaPoWriMo (I can hear Dave Pitt chuckling), I was not able to make the earlier dates. But watched as the internet steamed away on adrenaline filled reviews and knew that I had to catch this wave.

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So Stourbridge was penned in the diary and despite being truly creamed by work, I went! They were all in a similar state having lived the highlights of Swindon the night before at Oooh Beehive.

beehive Despite this, energy was not lacking as Dave MCed us through an incredible night of words.

I have not made a PTS for some months and it was great to be back in this wonderful venue, sitting next to Rob who was enjoying a night off from jumping up and down on stage and instead was able to enjoy the evening.

Everyone performed phenomenally well and it was great to see/hear new talent too.

Mogs performed a brilliantly funny set as always, treating us to some of the best from his book of children’s poetry. pypwl-front-cover

It was great to catch a whole set from R.M. Francis, thoroughly enjoyed and I realised it had been a while since I experienced Rob’s poetry back to back, good to hear him in full flow again.

Steve Pottinger performed some of my favourite recent poems of his, I love his train journey to Mars, no spoilers… okay, they terminate in Wolves…

Casey Bailey was his usual, incredible self. Playing his adopted by Wednesbury card to pacify the Brummie in the room situation and celebrated his latest collection ‘Adjusted’.

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https://caseybailey.bigcartel.com/

It was an incredible night and I am so glad Claire Walker sent a message saying she was going because it has been ages (or at least feels that way) since we caught up and was lovely sharing such a special night with friends. Plus Claire and I are booking some special work of our own in, we hope before the summer. I shared 3 of my 30 NaPo poems and a t-shirt quip. Shame I wasn’t wearing a poetry t-shirt, that would have won battle of the bands for sure!

Great to catch up with a room full of poetry friends and to be back in the Black Country, to see first hand one of the 5 events in this programme and to be able to tell them what an epic group of poets they are on feedback forms (well, if you do go and get Arts Council funding). I may not have written the word epic but I said some very pleasant things that I know someone else magpied (stole) for their feedback form.

If you can, catch the next one on the 15th May, you will NOT be disappointed!

And if you want to catch their original show head over to Stoke-on-Trent.

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