Author Archives: Nina Lewis

Carving Time Not Pumpkins

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A writer’s life is all about carving out time. We have to learn to be organised. We have to prioritise and we have to work hard.

I have blogposts I am desperate to write about all the wonderful things which fill my diary: poetry festivals, literature festivals, performances, events, projects… but I also need to invest time in the plates spinning precariously above my head.

It’s all about hats really… (this is definitely where I should mention Swindon Poetry Festival, but the reference will not make sense until I blog about it).

The Poet Laureate hat is a tall hat and possesses magical powers!hat-2844056_1920

It can elongate time and gift me extra pairs of hands! I am currently pulling together the Hanbury Hall Poetry Project where a group of 18 poets are writing ekphrastic poetry based on a DAN Art Exhibition.

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© Hanbury Hall

Many of the poets are busy creating poetry and I am delighted that I managed to get to the Exhibition, talked to some of the artists, met up with some of the National poets and got poetry written too.

The Vice Chair is organising a competitive element by choosing one poem/poet to also perform at the Celebratory event in the Long Gallery at Hanbury Hall (a National Trust property) on the 30th October. I am organising a reading with some of the poets for November 14th.

Hanbury Hall Poets

This hat is also working on a commission for an event organised by Peter Sutton to raise funds for the Elgar Festival 2018. I am writing poetry for a complete set and also researching the work of Elgar’s contemporaries. I was delighted to be asked to be a part of this project, back in September but a week at the Swindon Poetry Festival followed by another ill under a blanket as well as going back to the day job has halted the flow on creating work somewhat. Peter needs the work for programming so I will be inside the PL Top Hat this weekend for sure.

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I told you this was a top hat! I am also working on an exhibition of our Sculpture Trail Poetry for the Jinney Ring, which will be on show in the restaurant throughout November.

Also working on a poetry reading event for this body of work.  final design

I have also been planning my next WPL workshop, this time with children, for Halloween, there are lots of activities planned and it should be a really great afternoon in the library next weekend.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

So if you know any little people – send them our way (come with them, obviously), now that WOULD be scary!

world mental health The World Mental Health Day Poetry Collection was such a necessary anthology that I scrapped the deadline and opened the submissions to last the term of my Laureateship. I was delighted after performing at the Mental Health & Wellbeing Awareness Event on the 14th to receive a submission from someone who was there. mental health awareness day bliss

I am also compiling the first issue of CONTOUR – my digital WPL magazine. Copy of Food Magazine Flyer Template (2)

 

Now my Poet hat looks like this… hat-2406035_1920

if it truly was mine it would have a coffee in the background! It has been a busy time under this hat, mostly the end of September and beginning of October, before the dreaded Swindon Lurgy caught up with me post-festival. I missed lots of events such as Howl, PTS and a workshop. I had hoped to go to many events at the Birmingham Literature Festival, but missed everything apart from the final day.

I went to see Hollie McNish perform from Plum at the Town Hall in Birmingham, it was great to watch Joe Cook supporting her. I missed all of Cheltenham Literature Festival, I missed Wellington Festival as my car needed attention. I did get to Stablemates (finally) – although they came up from London to Birmingham Waterstones. The trains were a nightmare and the total travel time verged on 3 hours… but I think I was lucky that my trains ran at all.

I have planned my next Spark Young Writers for this weekend – getting a little early spooky in.

I am busy preparing INKSPILL for the final weekend in October, especially as I will be workshopping for part of it. The first year, I knew nothing of scheduling and spent the whole time LIVE on the laptop. Since 2014, I have mastered the dark art of WordPress, although I like to be present and LIVE when I can be.

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I am also hoping to make it to a few Book Launches before the end of the month!

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This is the hat of West Midlands Reader Network Reader in Residence.

For a title that long you need a feather or two. Since our meetings in September I have been working on some reading challenge ideas for Rugby Library and planning my first workshop – to be delivered at the end of November. I am also planning to write a Guest Blog by way of introduction before the real work begins next month.

So although I would love to carve a pumpkin or two, my hands are going to be fairly busy typing for the next week or so!

I owe this blog posts on: Credo, Free Verse Poetry Book Fair, Swindon Poetry Festival, Hollie McNish, Stablemates and more!

 

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5th Annual Writing Retreat INKSPILL

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INKSPILL 2017 Coming Soon Celebrate Our 5th Year

Book yourself some time off and treat yourself to a FREE online writing retreat this Autumn. Join us in real time, or wander around the posts at your leisure.
Easy links to previous years will also be available.

SPECIAL GUESTS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!

World Mental Health Day in Poetry

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World Mental Health Day in Poetry.

With added artwork by Sow Ay.

My story is to follow…

Poet Laureate

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© mind.org.uk 2017

Back in late September I put an open call for poetry submissions out across social media. I am grateful to all the poets for submitting their work. 

Mental Health is an issue close to my heart, something I have battled myself. I know many creative people suffer mental health issues. The theme this year was Mental Health in the workplace and in my case this is where/how the slippery slope began. I have added a link to my own story as it involves POETRY in a major way. (Link to follow.)

There are an increasing number of poetry books available which deal with these issues and those you can read to help ease the strain of difficult times in your life. I have added links at the bottom of the post for websites of interest connected to these issues. 

I hope you share this post across social…

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INKSPILL 2017 COMING SOON

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INKSPILL is an annual writing retreat right here on AWF. This year marks the 5th year and as with previous years we have some Special Guest Writers for you.

Behind the scenes there is a lot of preparation going on, so take advantage of this FREE writing weekend at the end of October. Book yourself some time off online now!

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September Review

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This month seems to have disappeared in a flash, looking at events listings it is no wonder. The thing I have been coming to terms with this month is missing events either because of clashing dates or lack of energy/needing some gaps in my schedule. It is something every artist has to overcome at some point, just wishing there was a fast cure. If I am really busy I tend not to look at the events calendars on social media as I know they will show places I want to be. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

Writing diary My 2014 Poetry Diary

The desk In Tray is filled with admin tasks I need to take a firm hold over, the house needs sorting out (still), the diary is filling up and my weekly schedule is brimming. The mortgage payments are coming from savings as there is no paid work this early in the term, I have been lucky in recent years to have had work by now. My agent is on secondment, so I keep calling the office in vague hope… it will come but probably when I am at Swindon Poetry Festival. Perhaps it is a godsend as there is no way I could manage the poetry workload and a day job!

I have decided not to worry, repeat the mantra every freelancer knows, ‘money will come’ and just get stuck into my projects and plans.

creative commons park Howell Storytelling1Creative Commons © 2015

This month planning meetings were initiated in Warwick & Rugby for my work with Warwickshire Libraries – Reader in Residence through WMRN. I was so excited when Roz Goddard approached me to apply in the summer. I spent a long time on the application and just kept my fingers crossed for a successful bid. I follow in some mighty footsteps created by Readers in Residence: Jean Atkin, Andy Killeen (2014) and Deborah Alma (2015).

Since August I have completed hours of research and two planning meetings with library staff in Warwick and Rugby. Now I have the schedule and an idea of what is required for my residency which will officially start in November and run until March.

 

A New Design (5)

I also facilitated my first adult workshops in over 12 years. Workshops are something I have wanted to get back into for a long time. I just needed the springboard and it takes years to construct a new one! It was an absolute delight and feedback has been positive. I started planning my WPL workshops back in June and met up with the venues Event Manager back in July. The Sculpture Trail (which was the base stimuli for my Poetry Workshop) arrived on site late August and was open to the public on the 25th August. I went to the grand opening at the Jinney Ring and took plenty of notes and some photos. I then busily planned the workshop and tested the material out on myself.

This month I was contacted by several people for commissioned work and booked performances.

Week 1:

There were only 3 days in this week. I had hoped to make it across to Birmingham for Case Bailey’s Book Launch (he crowd funded this venture earlier in the year) and also to get back to Walsall for ‘Yes We Cant’* to see Gerry Potter who I discovered for the first time in January at Wolverhampton Arts Festival. Neither plan worked as an eventful life weekend meant I couldn’t manage the travel.

yes we cant gerry potter

*as in brick.

Week 2:

Term started back (without me) but I started back the same day. I added a second date to the Jinney Ring Poetry Workshops, tickets for the first one SOLD OUT by the end of August.

I started to organise INKSPILL (my online writing retreat) hosted on this blog for FREE in October.

I had my first WMRN Reader in Residence meeting in Warwick with a team of Librarians to plan what it might look like.

I went back across to Coventry in the evening for a night at the Inspire Cafe and Antony Owen’s book launch of The Nagasaki Elder.

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The following morning I did my first talk as a Poet. This was part of the Second Friday Story Series facilitated by Sue Johnson at Evesham Library. This opportunity was booked back in July and it was a good morning. There are now more plans afoot for a Evesham Festival of Words Fringe Event. The other speakers were Tom Bryson, a local Crime Writer and Ashleigh Jayes.

I spent the past few weeks organising a Poetry Event for the Salt Festival. A group of poets joined me at Canal Side Studios in the Square to perform poems. This year the festival moved location to Vine’s Park, the rain was torrential and there was even a thunderstorm, the whole event was set up with foot passers in mind and there weren’t many there – however, some stayed for a while and a few poets came to watch/support us. We all had fun.

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Week 3:

Started with food poisoning! I am not used to feeling ill now I no longer work a stressful 80 hour week. Staying under a blanket and feeling sorry for myself, watching trashy TV and not reaching my desk was quite hard. I also missed Licensed to Rhyme and a plethora of poets I hadn’t seen in ages.

I was approached to be part of a new commission. A current collaboration between a composer and a visual artist. how could I resist? It may also lead to more workshop work, which would be superb.

Credo Liz Johnson © 2017

I met with the Chair of the International Twin Town Committee to discuss my European Poetry Project. It is wonderful to have these WPL ideas met with so much enthusiasm.

I had my third radio slot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding and read my new hometown poem ‘Not on the High Street’.

In the evening, I headlined a split set at Permission to Speak, back in it’s home venue with shiny new owners and a gorgeous new stage. Claptrap is a perfect venue for all us performers. It was lovely to be reunited with everyone.

SpeakEasy

Three things in one day meant I was certainly ready to sleep. The following day I took more bookings and in the evening I headlined as WPL at SpeakEasy. It truly was a night of passion, emotion and brilliant performers. It was noted that all four Flash Fiction Slam Champions were in the same room at the same time! It was great to see Andrew Owens again. I have missed him loads, as has everybody else. Kieran Davis gifted me a belated congratulations present – a book I cannot wait to get stuck into!

I spent Friday missing submission deadlines, planning and writing.

WWM

The weekend saw the start of a new term and a new group for Spark Young Writers – Writing West Midlands in Worcester at The Hive. Emails sent to workshop participants and last minute flapping (packing) for the Sculpture Trail Workshop.

Week 4: 

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I facilitated my first adult workshop in 12 years at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre – Sculpture & Poetry Workshop, it was a great success and now I wait in anticipation of finished poems which we plan to exhibit on site at the restaurant in November.

I researched and wrote some WW1 poetry for a commission, I have been working away on these since August, mainly reading and research. Finally the words presented themselves and I managed to write three poems for this project.

I spent time with the Contour submission pile. Contour is an online digital magazine for my tenure as Worcestershire Poet Laureate. The first issue (out next month) deals with PLACE as a theme, Worcestershire to be exact.

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I had my 2nd WMRN Reader-in-Residence meeting and the first one on site at Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library. It was a productive meeting and now I have my schedule and remit finalised for this role. I am currently spending hours at the desk researching and preparing, I will write a Guest Blog soon and reblog it here on AWF and then I start officially at the Library in November. This residency runs until March 2018 and is something I am very much looking forward to.

I finished writing poetry for Credo – Creative Synergy – the project/performance I was asked to contribute poetry to at the end of the month.

The ‘Adam Speaks’ NT project (which completes on the 25th November) took another twist and I am busy writing for that.

We had a fabulous Poetry Society Stanza meeting and I finished the week with a Room 204 Performance event at Edmunds Brewhouse, Birmingham. A catch up with family and a reunion with college friends.

Week 5:

Mr G and I went to see the Black Angels. A much anticipated gig, the tickets have been pinned to the fridge for months. It has been years since we last saw them.

Lit Allsorts BLF

I performed as part of a pre-event for Birmingham Literature Festival at Waterstones. Literary Allsorts – A Room 204 showcase.

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Then it was Christmas… I mean National Poetry Day. I blogged a lot, wrote some poems in the local library and went to support Voices of 1919.

I performed in Credo-Creative Synergy, an event Liz Johnson asked me to be part of earlier this month.

I travelled down to London for Free Verse the Poetry Book Fair where I performed alongside Stephen Daniels in a V. Press Reading.

 

 

 

 

Happy National Poetry Day!

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Happy National Poetry Day!

Poet Laureate

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Celebrate Poetry Today (and every day)!

The official Worcestershire NPD event this year, as I listed on the website is Voices of 1919 tickets are £8.00 and available from Malvern Theatres. 

Ten Cottages – Malvern Festival: Voices of 1919

front-cover-voices-of-1919As Worcestershire Poet Laureate I did not feel I could let this day pass without marking it in some way. Submissions opened for National Poetry Day poems on the theme of Freedom earlier this month. Huge gratitude for sending your poems this way. 

YOUR FREEDOM POEMS

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SABAH -EL KHEIR, SABAH EL-NOOR

A street in the oldest city,
spices, sellotape, shovel handles,
St Paul apparently, light streaming in;

a boy leans from a car,
English? he asks,
shakes my hand;

on an ancient terrace
a man serves tea
with razor-sharp humour;

a young lad recites in Aramaic,
– his tourist trick – but
two thousand years shrink;

a jeweller mentions Didsbury,
a church, Armenian restaurant,
I know them well;

a shopkeeper selling blankets,
prints and plates speaks
fluent Polish;

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World Mental Health Day

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Send your poems for World Mental Health Day.

Poet Laureate

world mental health

Opportunities for You

World Mental Health Day 10th October

Poems about or in support of Mental Health 

Stamp-out-stigma-time-to-change-bannerOpen submissions for poetry either about mental health issues or in support of those suffering from them. Max 40 lines, 1-3 poems, in the body of an email sent to worcspl@gmail.com

Entries are open to anyone, anywhere in the world. 

Deadline 8th October. 

Selected poems will appear on the website in support of World Mental Health Day on the 10th October. 

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CREDO – Creative Synergy – Credo by Liz Johnson

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I am currently working on an exciting project. Earlier this month Liz Johnson, a composer, contacted me regarding a collaborative project taking place on the 29th September, Elmslie House, Malvern. elmslie-final-logo-large-darkblue-outlined_1_large

I felt it was meant to be as I am performing in London (at Free Verse) at the end of the month and originally travel plans meant I would not have been available on the 29th, they changed and I am.

You know how I love poetry beyond the page, I eagerly agreed and waited to discover more.


Creative Synergy – Credo

It started with Dora Williams (Artist) inviting Liz to three collaborative sessions, at the time they had no idea what the outcome would be.

Credo liz johnson co uk Liz Johnson © 2017

Liz’s award-winning Colwall Requiem for Aleppo became the central focus of the collaboration, with Dora creating new artworks inspired by Liz’s music. Now Liz has responded by composing a new work for solo viola Credo in which music from the Requiem is reworked and added to, inspired by Dora’s series of abstract paintings.

The violist Adam Römer, who performed at the premiere of the Requiem, has been working closely with Liz and Dora to create a major new work for solo viola

The performance will include discussions with Dora, Liz and Adam about the creation of the piece and the whole Creative Synergy project, and there will be opportunities for the audience to ask questions of the performer, composer and artist as part of the evening.

Source: http://www.elmsliehouse.co.uk/2017/08/31/creative-synergy-credo-by-liz-johnson/

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Elmslie House © 2017

The collaborative works of artist Dora Williams and composer Liz Johnson explore themes of migration and displacement, through art, film and music with Credo performed by Adam Römer (viola leader of CBSO) on the opening night.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 30th (10 – 4 pm) and runs until the 8th October. Details (Free admission 2.30-4.30pm). 

This piece explores what we believe, with music from ‘Colwall Requiem for Aleppo’ inspired by the art work of Dora Williams, the plight of refugees, the Grenfell Tower disaster and what we consider to be ‘Home’. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis will read her own poetry and Liz, Dora and Adam will also discuss the creation of ‘Credo’, which centres around ideas of seeking/finding refuge. Artist Dora Williams has created a stunning new series of abstract works on this theme, on display at the venue. 
To reserve your seat for the evening recital (29th September), please call Anna on 07789 470780

Tickets £10 on the door including a free interval drink


typewriter-801921_1280 I have spent the past week filled with excitement in anticipation of creating writing for this opening event. I have a busy schedule at the moment and was still working on a WW1 commission (which entailed a lot of research and redrafting), now completed as well as Poetry Workshops when I agreed to this new work. I knew I had to shift my brain for Credo and needed a clear mind.

I like head space, the days spent thinking about a project before you dive in – it helps gather thoughts and those which manifest the deepest will stay and become part of the work.

The themes of migration and displacement are areas I have written about before. I could use a body of existing work, but felt this was not in keeping with the spirit of the collaborative project. I promised new work and set about creating it.

The performance itself is split into three sections, three themes. I have completed writing on two of them. Time wise I have perhaps one or two more poems to write before my set is complete.

I asked Liz to send information about the background of the piece, how it has been created and then I used a mixture of audio clips (mainly Requiem music) and images, including an original abstract by Dora Williams. I also used news articles and mirrored some of the instructions given to the musician, writing for the first time improvised poetry. Although, you could argue all poetry is improvised. Intentionally improvised, let’s say. It has been a rewarding process and I am thankful that I managed to find a block of time (in the middle of the night) to complete this work.

Credo

Liz Johnson © 2017

Voices of 1919

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Our Worcestershire Event for NPD.
Voices of 1919.

Poet Laureate

mike alma voicesCelebrate National Poetry Day in Worcestershire.

Voices of 1919

Autumn in Malvern Festival 

Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Malvern, WR14 3AG

Tickets £8.00 available from Malvern Theatres 

The Box Office, Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern WR14 3HB – telephone 01684 892 277

http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/whats-on/voices-of-1919/

VOICES OF 1919
 
The Great War is over. In the Spring of 1919 the village of Oakby awaits the return of survivors. Each household has its own story. Through the words of 20 contemporary poets, we hear the voices of villagers struggling to recall their past, to understand the present and to imagine the future.

The Armistice, signed on 11th November 1918, signalled the end of The Great War, but most involved in the fighting would not be returning for months.

This poetry is not about the trenches and battles but is, in the main, the thoughts of those who didn’t go to war –…

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National Poetry Day – The Lowdown

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