Category Archives: Birmingham Literature Festival

Review April 2017

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As always NaPoWriMo takes over April and makes it challenging to keep other blog posts up to date. I have made an effort to keep the blog NaPo intentionally this month with a few posts breaking the thread. I have had some amazing experiences this month which deserve a dedicated blogging. I plan to pepper them in throughout May.

 

WEEK 1:

I was asked to co-ordinate an event for a Festival I am already involved with – this task took the best part of a fortnight. But I am happy that it is all now booked and in place for this summer. I spent further weeks this month planning and organising the events for an Arts Festival in July.

I went to an editing workshop. Taking with me a poem from 2014 that has never fully worked. I can safely say it has the treatment now and just in time because it formed part of the set I performed at The Poetry Ballroom.

Poetry Ballroom

I experienced the Poetry Ballroom. Suz Winspear (this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate) organised this event in partnership with DanceFest. It was an amazing night. I will be blogging a full write up in May, I was honoured to be an invited performer at the event and had great fun writing some dance poems especially for it. The evening was a sound success and the dancers appreciated the theme of our poetry – not realising that we would focus on dance. As an ex-dancer, it was a pleasure.

I was asked to endorse a book (my 2nd one). The first book I endorsed is due to launch in May, more on that next month too. I am currently reading this manuscript and am delighted that the publishers thought of me.

I was asked to read at a Book Launch next month. I have spent some time this month penning new poems for this occasion. To be honest the poems were also part of NaPoWriMo, but why not make your projects work hard for you. Lots of prompts leant themselves to current project pies I have my thumbs in, so given half a chance…napo2017button1

I went to a reading at The Hive with Sarah Leavesley & Melissa Lee-Houghton. I was really excited by this. Ruth Stacey had arranged it for her students at university and just gave a bit of a quiet shout out. thehiveworcsorg

Being part of an audience of students, listening to their woes made me glad this wasn’t my life anymore. It is all to easy to glamorize the undergraduate/post grad life… but really… as much pressure as the real world.

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I loved hearing Sarah read from Magnetic Diaries again after all this time and it was a real treat to hear Melissa Lee-Houghton, as she sadly couldn’t make Verve festival in the end. It was a great evening and I am glad I managed the post work rush to get there. Had to drive a hire car too – as my window decided to malfunction and I spent over an hour finding a garage willing to help me so late on in the day. The window was stuck in the down position. My lesson: using air con is cheaper in the long run!

I spent time writing the brief for a 2nd poetry festival event, involving the other two poets. It is amazing how many days it can take 3 poets to come up with less than 3 lines!

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Back in February (my month of applications), I applied for Room 204 Writer Development Programme run by WWM. They had over 130 applicants this year for 15 places. I am delighted to announce the embargo has lifted and I can share this news. We had our first cohort meeting – what a great year to be in, so much talent. We had a photo shoot (one I wanted a haircut and weight-loss for) – neither happened in the days beforehand, but Paul Stringer is a talented photographer. It was a fun morning, we were all so excited to be part of the 2017/18 cohort and already good things have happened as a result. There is a whole year of mentoring and career development ahead, over £1000 worth. Priceless if you ask me.

room 204

I am extremely excited to be part of Room 204, I discovered it back in 2013 and have been biding my time and developing my writing to the point I thought I was able to qualify for a place on the scheme. I am grateful my application was successful. That my writing stood up to the scrutiny and competition. Here’s the rest of this year’s cohort

https://www.writingwestmidlands.org/room-204-participants-201718/

I also reconnected with a good friend of mine afterwards and we plan to exchange books and do lunch next time I am back in the area. I used to spend more time in Birmingham than I do at the moment. I am spending less time on the road this year and more time at the desk, the natural pattern of a writer. It was good catching up.

WEEK 2

Went to an incredibly exciting meeting at the Custard Factory for this year’s Room 204 programme, which we were embargoed about. The news was finally released on the 11/12th. Rm-204-logo-final-solo-600x328

Started typing NaPo poems, I decided to write longhand this year, which gave me that workshop feeling as much of my writing is straight to screen nowadays. It meant I successfully completed the challenge with 97 poems by the end of the month, however I have typed about 10 to edit so far.

Made a promotional Easter video for Fragile Houses. I was reading advice on marketing and promotion and find it hard to detail what my pamphlet with give you beyond shared experience, memory and space to work through mirrored realities. Which all seems a high promise or at the worst an abstract manifesto. Then I thought about chocolate, the calories (personally delighted this year to have so many eggs and treats). easter Had another 3 eggs after this photo was taken!

I spent half a day making the video. Poetry – less calories than chocolate. Maybe I should have offered a free egg with every book sold.

I booked onto a Room 204 event for later in the month.

Started writing a book review and went to see Kate Bush tribute Cloudbusting with Mr G. katebush

I missed License to Rhyme again as the next day I was going to Swindon. Rick Saunders aka Willis the Poet was headlining and he was happy to take me on the road trip. It was a cracking night at Oooh Beehive – a night that Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell started a while ago. Swindon is quite a way on a school night and it was the early hours by the time I was home, but it was the Easter holidays and I am glad I managed it. Lovely to see Sam Loveless and Edward, who I met at the Poetry Festival last year.

I went to HOWL and watched amazing headline sets from Charley Barnes, Tom McCann and Rhythmical Mike. It was a great night and I was happy I made an open mic spot. It was fabulous to see everyone again. HOWL

I went to SpeakEasy where Gareth Owens was headlining. That was a good night too – rare these days that I manage 3 nights on the hoof like this. I spent the day beforehand making media for an upcoming festival shoe and dealing with programme copy.

It was nice to escape for a few hours and immerse myself in poetry.

The Beltane Anthology for 2017 was published by Three Drops from a Cauldron, which has my Rag Tree poem in it. I know you should never judge a book by the cover – but with this stunning design, who wouldn’t want to see their poetry inside!

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Featuring poetry and flash fiction by Jane Burn, Rhiannon Hooson, Alison Stone, Denise Blake, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt, Eleanor Penny, Tom Moody, Bee Smith, Rebecca Buchanan, Rebecca Gethin, Nina Lewis, Wendy Mannis Scher, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Sarah Hart, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Kitty Coles, Donald Illich, Dennis Trujillo, Lesley Burt, Cynthia June Long, Vivien Jones, Moyra Donaldson, Maggie Mackay, Bethany Rivers, Lewis Buxton, Carmina Masoliver, Nico Solheim-Davidson, R.M. Francis, Linda Goulden, Ilse Pedler, and Joanna Swan.

Edited by Kate Garrett, with the Three Drops from a Cauldron editorial team: Becca Goodin, Loma Jones, Amy Kinsman, Holly Magill, Penny Sharman, Grant Tarbard, and Claire Walker.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-garrett/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/paperback/product-23143262.html

It is now also available in digital copy.

https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2017/04/14/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/

Week 3

I had a free writing webinar with The Writers Academy & Penguin Random House, it was an interesting few hours, although I wrote copious notes not realising they were sending follow up information via email.

I had my first Room 204 1 to 1 session, we get 3 over the course of the year. It was useful and I have already started working on decisions.Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

I spent an entire day co-ordinating and planning for festival events.

Holly Daffurn has started a new venture – at Bottles Wine Bar, ‘Uncorked’ an evening of Spoken Word, there were over 50 tickets sold and the night was divided into 3 parts with 5 headliners and open mic. Ambitious scheduling, beautiful venue and a stellar line up made for a perfect evening. uncorked

I performed on the open mic. Brilliant Headliners: Jasmine Gardosi, Casey Bailey, Holly Daffurn, Leon Priestnall & Joe Cooke

The Spring edition of Birmingham Literature Festival happened and despite a fantastic programme (all well received), I was unable to make it across to the city for any events. I even missed Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch.

BLF Spring

I had my WWM group which meant I couldn’t attend some of the events/workshops on Saturday. The group went really well, we made our own magazines. I have since planned the final two session, so feel ahead of the game.

Week 4

I booked tickets to go and see Carol Ann Duffy in May, continued to organise festival events. The Stourbridge Literature Festival started. I went to see Emma Purshouse headline at Spoken Trend, saw Carla Rickets headline too. It was a great night, I even went home with 3 daffodils, now that is a good night.

I took a Napowrimo poem to Stanza and it was approved. I have written 97 in total this month as I have followed 2 main prompts, the main site napwrimo.net and joined Carrie Etter’s group where she provided us with 30 optional prompts. Beyond the poems, I have researched and stumbled into new project territory which is most exciting. Carrie’s group was amazing for comradery and support. Jo Bell spent the entire month posting poems for us to read as it is as important as writing and a sure way to learn/ learn about poetry. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems and discussions on her blog and will miss this daily ritual and ponder more than I will miss the onslaught of daily poetry writing.

imgID54935282.jpg.gallery I went to the first talk organised by Room 204 and now have a notebook full of information and ideas.

And the month finished with a flurry of PR for VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE at Stourbridge Literature Festival.

The first of 3 events I have been organising. A combined reading with: vpress sb I will blog about the festival/event over the coming days. Within 24 hours I will be promoting Cheltenham Poetry Festival and over the next 5 days working towards 30-40-60 the collaborative performance booked into this year’s Worcester Literature Festival.

I will not have time to be sad about the end of NaPoWriMo, but I hope to have time to type edit some of the work produced during April.

This was a GREAT month!

 

 

NaPoWriMo Catch Up – Day 20

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Right now I should be at Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch in Waterstones, (part of the Birmingham Literature Festival Spring Edition). I have a million things that need doing and a lack of time to squeeze them all into.

For the past few days I have managed to write my poems on time or in epic late-night catch ups. I am currently on Day 23, letting ideas settle in my mind. I have fallen behind with blog posts as I am currently organising 3 festivals and have been busy with research, work and real life.

Day 20 – Step Back in Time…

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http://www.napowrimo.net/day-twenty-4/

I really enjoyed the prompt today, had lots of fun and research points, became a half decent poem, edited into a decent poem and performed at Uncorked that same evening.

I cannot believe we are 2/3 through NaPoWriMo and I am feeling proud that this year I have managed it. Thanks to Carrie Etter’s group.

I get the feeling that most of my Napo writing is airy draft, I know I can go back to these poems and extract the gold dust and rebuild. So please do not be hard on yourself if you feel that most of your daily writes have been a bit naff.

I spent some time wandering around participants sites the other day and reading some incredibly strong poems (with a glint of envy), it is amazing what rolls out of people’s heads during this April challenge.

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Our featured participant today is this and other poems, where the creation myth for Day 19 is “tenuous,” but strikingly believable!

Our interview today is a two-fer: the poet Rickey Laurentiis being interviewed by the poet Carl Phillips. You can find examples of Laurentiis’ work here and Phillips’ work here.

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game. Your poem could invoke chess or baseball, hopscotch or canasta, Monopoly or jai alai. The choice is yours!

I chose Poker, as it is a game I do not play and I discovered lots of associated vocabulary that leant itself to poetry. It was a fun write although not so jolly for the character in my poem. It went down well with the audience at Uncorked, so it has been filed in the OKAY pile for now.

For the first time I used the computer rather than my notebook. This is how I usually write and I wonder if this has anything to do with creating a better poem. My brain understanding what I am trying to achieve as my hands dance across the keyboard.

For me, the difference of swimming safely in a pool or being out in the open sea, those blank pages scare me sometimes. Although I love the freedom of writing in notebooks, as I love the sea, but there is always danger lurking and scribbles have to be crossed out rather than deleted from existence!

She placed even money

on diamonds, lost it all.


Carrie Etter’s prompt involved using titles. Titles are not copyrighted but some poets felt that they couldn’t use work in this way. I liked the idea and wrote from a title as a springboard and then edited the title out.

Sandra Lim has some splendid titles in her first collection, Loveliest Grotesque.

I used ‘Curious This’.

Crossing roads between moving cars…

…like the aura of a Prophet…

I also revisited my poetry from Day 19 and wrote a poem I like ‘Crabsticks and Gin’.

White hair dyed Paprika,

Cherry Red applied over

shallow pink lips

that talked for England.


Jo Bell (whose Canoe writing workshop I am also missing today at BLF Spring Edition), posted Variation on a Theme by Rilke by Denise Levertov. I am really appreciating these daily reads and discussions.

The best thing – the very best thing – about reading poetry widely and deeply is that when you need it, it finds you… Yesterday, hearing news of the impending UK election I felt a mighty need for something to give me a sense of purpose and positivity in the coming weeks. – Jo Bell


The Poetry School offered us

Day 20: The One-Sentence Poem

Which for anyone taking part is light relief – well it would be, but a one sentence poem is harder than you imagine.

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Morning poets. Today, I’d like you to write a one-sentence poem. Draft it in prose, so you’re not worrying about line-breaks. They can come later. You’ll also find that you become more expansive and loquacious by drafting this way. If you reach a natural break, connectives (also known as conjunctions) are your friends: use ‘but’, ‘and’, ‘which’ and so on to carry on your sentence. Brackets and dashes are useful, but I’d like you to avoid colons and semi-colons as they stop you in your tracks when you’re supposed to be flowing.

Your example today is Steve Scafidi’s magnificent ‘To Whoever Set My Truck On Fire‘, but your poem doesn’t necessarily have to be this long!

 

March in Review

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March felt like a funny old month. The start of the month was rocky, the usual dips and peaks were replaced with a fairly big dip, which fortunately finished mid-March, the end of the month was full of highs and gathered rollercoaster speed, positively hyperactive.

I missed out on many events I wanted to attend due to lack of time, transport and energy. My writing schedule was full and I continued to work on organising festival events as well as time spent making exciting applications. Keeping my fingers crossed.

In addition to this – we have AN EMPTY ROOM, I managed (finally) to sort the smallest bedroom which is our first redecoration project in the house Mr G and I moved into the year I returned to writing (2013). If I wasn’t writing, I kid myself that we would have finished the entire house by now. But the thing I look forward to the most is nesting new writing spaces! The room has now been empty and awaiting action for three weeks, but in that time Mr G has transformed the front garden (much to the pleasure of the neighbours) and bought a sander in preparation for the next epic challenge- actually doing the room!

WEEK 1:

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V. Press collections: Career in Accompaniment by Alex Reed, Book of Bones by Kathy Gee, Fragile Houses by Nina Lewis and The Old Man in the House of Bone by David Calcutt, with illustrations from Peter Tinkler were reviewed by Sam Smith. You can read the full reviews here http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/

Sam Smith – Reviews in The Journal. http://thesamsmith.webs.com/

It was the final Permission to Speak on the 2nd, headlined by Pete the Temp (who I first saw at Verve).

Pete the Temp is a poet, educator and musician. His work has been featured on BBC radio and TV and in 2009 he became the National Poetry Slam Champion. Pete has toured theatres across England with his one man show ‘Pete (the Temp) vs Climate Change’. In 2015 he completed the MA Writer / Teacher Programme at Goldsmiths University. This led him to become one of the world’s first full-time spoken word educators to be embedded in a secondary school. He later went on to pilot the same work in a primary school. He was subsequently invited to do a TED Talk on the subject ‘Why Every School Should Have a Spoken Word Educator’. Pete has toured all over Europe with his art and now works as a poet and street performer. Rob Francis © 2017

We are all gutted that this event (of 2 years) has come to an end. The venue – which is one of the most amazing spaces I have had the pleasure to perform in, is closing. Rob Francis is extremely busy with writing and lecturing, maybe these things are sent by the universe as the timing seems right to free Rob up for other opportunities. He also got engaged recently, so I suspect there will be a busy non-poetry element going on in his life soon too. Fortunately I was tipped off just before the night kicked off, otherwise I would have been in floods when Rob announced it to the packed out room.

As always, it was a good night with an eclectic mix of open mics, poems, stories and extracts. It was fantastic to watch Pete in action again and I enjoyed his set immensely. Several lines have become ear-worms over the past month. I had an interesting conversation with him afterwards about poetry. You cannot help but be swept away on his passion-wave of enthusiasm.

Sadly I missed out on watching him perform again at the Artrix this week as I had a gig in Manchester the next day, work and lots of submission deadlines. If you get a chance to see him, you should grasp it for sure! ‘Keep it Lit!’

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.petethetemp.co.uk/

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/numbered-boxes-by-pete-the-temp-bearder

numbered boxes People who have read this collection rave about it – it is on my list to buy.

I spent the majority of writing time organising, I am currently organising three events for festivals which is keeping me busy.

I also had an opportunity to create work for Mental Health Awareness Week (May). Sarah Leavesley has, for several years posted poetry related to Mental Health during this week. ‘The Magnetic Diaries’ deals with these issues and last year you may remember I attended a workshop at the MAC which was part of the Magnetic Diaries Tour. Sarah mentioned back then that we could share our workshop poetry. As with lots of things at the moment it fell into the ‘to do’ pile. My main focus currently is the house, promoting Fragile Houses and organising festival events. Anyway, long story short, I did eventually manage to create a new poem from the workshop and another written especially for the blog project. More on this in May.

I had a request for a poem and spent the weekend working on editing and writing. I have found this month that I am very last minute. I discovered a submission opportunity the day before deadline (always a challenge) and more recently discovered an entire festival I had missed, a great shame as there was a workshop I would have loved to have attended.

WEEK 2:

The week I forgot to live… so many events missed. I felt the dip this week – my body/mind reacts by sleeping. I spent my writing time beavering away at schedules, organising festival events and generally needed sleep before bedtime. I did wish to be a busy poet and I guess I didn’t consider that I would need to be grown-up with scheduling or with reacting to the events I miss. Be careful what you wish for!

I missed Stirchley Speaks, Headlined by Tom McCann, Steve Pottinger was performing in Ludlow at The Poetry Lounge, I missed Howl – there was a new event in Cannock – Speaking Out Midlands, where all performers were open mic, allocated 10 minute slots. Charlotte had invited me some months ago and then word was spread on social media and it attracted a great crowd and I have read some rave reviews.

It clashed with SpeakEasy and when I discovered Adrian Mealing (who I have not seen for years) was headlining, I knew that I was going to save the car some miles. I do not regret this decision, SpeakEasy was a good night and it was lovely chatting and catching up with Adrian. CONFAB Adrian Confab Cabaret with John Hegley (the last time I saw Adrian).

Suffering the dip, being in a familiar environment with people I know was preferable. I was revitalised by the end of the evening. There were lots of new faces and audience, incredibly positive for the LitFest team. Suz performed the Squid Ballroom, part of her Laureate event – more on this next month, I am one of the invited performers.

I spent Friday tying up loose ends and trying to write. I sent my poems to Rick Saunders the brainchild behind Rob’s PTS thank you gift. We (the collective at PTS) have sent writing to Rick who has printed a pamphlet (more like a book at 80 odd pages) to present to Rob on the final night – Permission to Shut Up – at the end of March. I sent my poem about the stage ‘The Secret of Scary Canary’s Stage’ and one I wrote especially for Rob all about what he has achieved with PTS and what it means to the rest of us, originally titled ‘Permission to Speak’. He should be extremely proud of his achievements and hopefully this isn’t the last we have heard from him.

spark I spent an entire evening planning a non-fiction session for my Spark Young Writers group (Writing West Midlands). Inspired by the Royal Society of Photographers exhibition I walked around last month I decided to do Science Journalism. The group thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I am still wiping sweat from my brow – I was worried in case any of them chose to write about the bee’s anus. Which was an amazing piece of photography and incredibly fascinating to look at. I was amazed by the talented articles that came from this session. Some great writing.

It was also the DeMontfort Book Fair in Leicester – States of Independence, not something they hosted when I lived there for 5 years. Leicester is where I broke my performance poetry seal and will always have a little bit of a special place in my heart. Sarah Leavesley was there with her V. Press bookshop, she also launched her new book – a novella published by Mantle Lane Press.

http://www.mantlelanepress.co.uk/product/kaleidoscope available to buy for just £4.00

It always hurts to miss out on events, I dreamed of a busy writing life and I have one, but it means that sometimes I no longer have the freedom to march across the country to be a part of special evenings. There are also the inevitable date clashes where big decisions are made. Never have cloning and teleportation been so necessary in my life!

On Sunday I missed one of the best opportunities since the Verve Festival. Bang Said the Gun – which I have known about since 2014 and watched countless clips of online is touring and they kicked off in Stafford – relatively close (would be closer if the M6 ever flowed properly) with Jo Bell and Jonny Fluffypunk (two of my old time/all time favs) and I missed it! It was Sunday night, Week 3 and 4 are full in my diary, energy was low, as were funds and Mr G and I need to spend more time together and my car is the equivalent of an old broken pull along toy with some bits missing and broken/re-knotted string! I do not trust it on terribly long journeys or car park motorways where you hear it over heat within the first crawling 100 yards.

I missed an amazing night and an opportunity to see friends from that neck of the woods too. Gutted. I did go to check out tickets and look at the rest of the tour and this was the nearest and also had the featured artists I wanted to see. I would say there will be other times, but with something like this – there won’t be. Gutted with a capital G.

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Canterbury never had anything like this when I lived there either!

Week 3:

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I knew I would miss License to Rhyme at the Artrix, featuring Pete the Temp. I had to work and manage Manchester the following evening and I spent part of Monday choosing and rehearsing/timing my set. I also spent time with family, which I hadn’t planned much beforehand and this left me hours behind on writing time. Not that it would be any other way. Family comes first. It just meant the will I /won’t I… became a definite No I won’t!

Again I heard good things about the evening and am particularly disappointed that I missed Fergus McGonigal and Lorna Meehan performing.

I did receive some exciting emails which made a night in with my inbox particularly worthwhile. And have since taken action on these – fingers crossed once again!

On Tuesday I headlined alongside Becky Cheeriman and Mark Pajak in Manchester at Sarah L. Dixon’s Quiet, Quiet Loud. I have known about this booking at Quiet, Quiet Loud for months and the butterflies went tribal. Originally looking to headline in April or May, the gig was brought forward as Sarah L Dixon is on the move and this was to be her final event at The Llyod’s.

Rick Saunders had signed up for the open mic and kindly offered to chauffeur up the M6. Unfortunately, days before his car broke down and so we were left with some last minute arrangements. In the end we hired a car (scared that mine wouldn’t make a 200 mile round trip in a night). The journey there was fine, even passing a Willis milk tanker – Rick’s stage name is Willis the Poet…  we passed the time chatting about the spoken word scene and stopping just once for the most expensive bottle of service station water – I think it was made from diamonds or something! The journey back was horrendous, closed motorways, detours and a SATNAV that was convinced the motorway junction was still open.

The event itself was worth every mile of motorway network and it was a pleasure to headline at the final Quiet, Quiet Loud. You can read my full review here and Rick managed to post his the very next day. https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/quietly-does-it/

Huge thanks again to Rick for the lift.

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/manchester-quiet-quiet-loud-headline/

I spent Wednesday morning before work recovering, I found out about the Science and Arts Festival hosted by Birmingham University and a creative writing workshop that I would have loved to attend, although it would have been a lot before work to manage. I have pencilled it in for next year as there were lots of interesting events.

I spent Wednesday night working on submissions and on Thursday mum and I went to see Verve – Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Mr G bought us tickets for Christmas. Verve-web-8-crop-1876x1055

http://www.nscd.ac.uk/verve/

They made me want to dance again, to create dance poetry and to lose myself in costume and movement. The fact that my body could barely manage to sit through a 2 hour production tells me otherwise, but my soul is still very much committed!

I spent the weekend on things other than writing and chiselled out some time at the end of Sunday to write applications and work on my writing action plan. There are some intended submissions to create before the end of the month and three sets to plan for EarthHour (25th March), HerStory (31st March) and Poetry Ballroom (2nd April).

Week 4:

The week started with a flurry of activity organising poetry events and writing. February was a busy month for making applications and devising projects and this month sees more energy focused on these and some fruition.

I spent the first part of the week in rest (working, sleeping, living) and saving energy for a series of 3 days of poeting. Which was easy as only one of them involved performing. Although I left it somewhat late to arrange a set and fine tune the details.

I also agreed to hiding some GOLDEN TICKETS for Birmingham Literature Festival. It is the 20th Anniversary this year and the team have organised a Spring Festival to celebrate. They have sent out Golden Tickets to be found in local bookshops, Art cafes and libraries. I have taken two under my wing and let them fly (and hide).

https://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/2017/03/will-you-find-a-golden-ticket/

The lucky finder wins a free ticket (worth at least £10) to an event of their choice. I want to find one of these – but it may cost more petrol money than buying a ticket. Fun idea. Great one. One I may steal in the future! First time I have ever felt like Willy Wonka… it was a good feeling.

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On Thursday I saw Hollie McNish, I love Hollie…  it has been a while since I saw her perform and part of me knew that this book would be difficult for me for personal reasons, this is why I have not yet bought a copy – but watching her breathing magic into the tale and hearing such personal disclosure and truth was wonderful. hollie 2 The event had been organised at The Hive (Library) in partnership with Poetry On Loan – well done to Brenda Read-Brown!

I had been to the basement space once with my writing group and was amazed to find the event not in the studio – that was until I saw the size of the audience! Holly thought, it being a library gig in a small city there may be about 20 people! Multiply that by 10! A smashing night.

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/hollie-mcnish-nobody-told-me/

My review of the Verve Poetry Festival went live on Sabotage Reviews. http://sabotagereviews.com/

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Stanza happened on Friday – for the first time in months I thoroughly enjoyed it – and in a strange way all of our poems were love poems (but not the sort you imagine).

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Over the weekend I celebrated Earth Hour and Mother’s Day. Earth Hour was amazing, I went to the event organised by Worcester LitFest at Café Bliss. You can read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/earth-hour-with-wlf/

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Week 5

I spent the majority of my spare time writing and editing and planning how an earth I was going to manage this final week of performances and deadlines. The solution was an A4 checklist that I had very little leeway on.

I also had another poem published ‘Rag Tree’ which will be in the Beltane anthology by Three Drops. More news about festival events I am organising/performing in and events that I am just performing in. Future workshops to book and lots of potential festival tickets to be bought. I wrote new work and edited older poems.

Tuesday evening saw the final PTS – Permission to Speak become Permission to Shut Up – as it was a work night I was worried I may not last until the end, but scribbled a new poem especially for the last event (for now), the night before and got a short set ready. I was due to headline in May, potentially Rob may have a new venue by then, but I get the feeling that he needs/wants a mini-break and this would be the time to take it.

It was a great night, all in all and I will mark the occasion with a blog post as soon as I get some spare time. I took lots of pictures and stayed until the end to see Rick present Rob with his pamphlet.

42 in Worcester celebrated it’s 6th birthday and I took a newly scribed poem to celebrate. Rick Saunders headlined Spoken Trend on the same night, which I had to miss. Please someone clone me! Event clashes… every poet’s nemesis! 42 was fun and again, I will mark the occasion with a full blogpost when I have a little time. Polly made an amazing Black Forest Gateaux cake! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. All the performances were bang on and the celebratory air was sweet.

LINKS TO FOLLOW.

With two days left of March and Easter around the corner, you may think that was it… no, I am playing the game – How much can you pack into 48hours?

Thursday I gave myself a night off from performing/events – missing out on Caffe Grande Slam in Dudley again, I will get there. I spent the evening editing a new poem (my 3rd this week) and submitting work.

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I also received an exciting email from my publisher. Another review of Fragile Houses, this time on Sabotage Reviews. How wonderful to start and end the month with reviews. You can read Rachel Stirling’s incredibly intricate review here.

http://sabotagereviews.com/2017/03/30/fragile-houses-nina-lewis/

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I discovered Claire Walker and Holly Magill have embarked on editing a new Magazine ‘Atrium’, they have both edited for Kate Garrett at Three Drops recently and this new opportunity morphed from that experience. More on Atrium soon.

I saw Heather Wastie’s Nationwide advert – which was as equally exciting as watching Jo Bell’s and what made it special was seeing it first thing before work and in the final adverts before bed. Don’t ask me how I have time to watch TV and complete my mammoth writing tasks!

Holly McNish won the Ted Hughes award (one of the judges this year was Jo Bell – busy as always). Amazing news & recognition!

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/hollie-mcnishs-poetic-motherhood-memoir-wins-ted-hughes-award-518171

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/29/hollie-mcnishs-funny-and-serious-poetry-wins-ted-hughes-prize

I received news of another successful Festival bid for this summer. More on this soon.

I completed the month with a Woo Feminista event HerStory at Café Bliss. I will blog and link it up here as soon as I can.

And now I am ready for NaPoWriMo, Poetry Ballroom and a rather-already-regrettable booking of an almost full week of work! I booked Monday off as I have 3 consecutive events this weekend and will be typing until my fingers go numb finishing my writing tasks over the next 24 hours!

I hope you all had a good month too. Leave me some of your highlights in the comments, it would be great to hear from you.

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Keep Writing x

Setting the Sights

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all sorts 09 10 022 Today is a celebration – 3 years of this blog, I spotted the WP Trophy icon on the site! I went for a wander around the data and was happy to see the growth in traffic, visitors and followers year on year. This wander down memory lane landed me in the New Year posts from 2015. After I read them and recalled how I felt this time last year in my writing skin, I decided to write this post.

Last year in this post Truth & Rainbows I wrote about goals/resolutions and I know I have said this year is all about my house (which it is), I still have a growing poetry/writing skin to fill. This blog was primarily started to keep tabs on my writing life. It has become so much more than that to me and hopefully to you, but from time to time I want to take it back to the original detail. This is me, starting a new life, I am a writer. (2013) writing

I have often said that what the world sees is the tip of the iceberg and actually they never see the part under the surface. We all know too well those internet lists of incredibly successful people who started with a series of failures, some lasting decades. I always wanted to mix the downs and ups, tell you about rejections and so on, equally I want to mark the successes.

So I have lifted this list from the review post Truth & Rainbows. It isn’t just about blowing my own trumpet, it’s to get you to think about yours and realise that if you keep on, you will get there.

Reviewing Resolutions 2015 – Reflecting on 2014

ARCHIVED NEW YEAR / GOAL SETTING LINKS

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/new-year-new-you-writing-resolutions/

It seems last year I did make resolutions, the best thing about this post  ^ is knowing the results 12 months later;

Here are my resolutions –

I am working towards a collection of poems for a pamphlet. I sent 2 manuscripts, both were rejected but one showed promise and I continue to make this my personal project of 2015. The process has opened up a whole new world. I had the wardrobe, now I have to find my way around Narnia!

I am starting work as an Assistant Writer with hope of having a position as a Lead Writer in 2015. I am coming up to 12 months as an Assistant Writer for WWM and have also been 1 of 3 writers picked as mentors for a term.

I am going to have a big presence on the Performance Circuit in the hope of being booked for guest spots by the end of the year. I managed 107 events, some were open mics, other were gallery openings, art projects, festivals, commissions, collaborations, everyone of them was a delight! I performed alongside many amazing people and have just had my 2nd Headline/ Main guest booking!

I will submit poetry for publication. I did! Some was published, others rejected, all were new writing fresh from my pen.

I will write some short stories for competitions. I did, I have shelved this as I was not particularly successful in this field although I corresponded with some incredible people and had a few close misses. However, posts I wrote back in 2013 about writing short stories are still top of the stats several years later.

2016 – Reflecting on 2015

I am working towards a collection of poems for a pamphlet. In August 2014 I submitted a manuscript and in January 2015 this was accepted for publication. It has been a long, hard year and somewhat disappointingly my work is not yet out in print. I am in the final editing stages and have learnt a lot from this process. I know that the final pamphlet will be stronger for the additional work that has gone into it and will mean so much when I finally get to hold a copy!

As I didn’t enter the poetry world until October 2013 I mark this acceptance almost within the first year of writing, 14 months after starting my poetry was accepted. Even if it will take a while longer to be read.

I am starting work as an Assistant Writer with hope of having a position as a Lead Writer in 2015. I was given the Lead Writer position in September 2015. I happily continue and have just planned our first session for 2016. There is also a new project I am hoping to be involved with for our groups this year.

I am going to have a big presence on the Performance Circuit in the hope of being booked for guest spots by the end of the year. In my first year I performed poetry at over 107 events, some were poetry festivals and commissioned events and collaborations. My biggest achievement was a poetry commission to write and perform at Birmingham Literature Festival 2014. In 2015 my headline slots started at the beginning of January and I was booked throughout the year at various venues. I hope to keep this up and of course having a book to sell will help!  

I think I performed at about 92 events in 2015 (not much of a back seat was taken), including book launches in London, Poetry Festivals (a wider net was cast), commissioned performances and a finalist in Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition (3rd Place), my first ever Poetry Brothel Experience with Caged Arts and 5 other selected poets, I was also part of the Quiet Compere Tour 2015, Worcester – Stop 6, which was booked way back in April 2014 and had to be kept a secret!

I also completed some Poetry on Loan training and organised the best INKSPILL yet, our annual online writing retreat, this year marked 3 INKSPILL retreats and next year plans are afoot for some expansion.

I will submit poetry for publication. I did! Some was published, others rejected, all were new writing fresh from my pen. I got into publications that were on my ‘dream list’ too.

We have to put up with so much rejection in this field that I think it is essential for some positive reflection.

So have a think about your own writing desires, how far have you come? How close are you? What will be your next step?

© Copyright 2011 Leo Norrie

© Copyright 2011 Leo Norrie

Happy National Poetry Day!

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I love celebrating National Poetry Day and always enjoy reading how other people have spent theirs. Today is the first day of Birmingham Literature Festival, I booked my tickets when they were released in the summer, which means as I have already paid, it feels free.

BLFest

Tonight I will be at Kidderminster Carpet Museum to celebrate NPD with Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate), Suz Winspear, Chloe Clarke (Young Poet Laureate) and Maggie Doyle (Poet Laureate Emeritus) as well as the poetry competition finalists;

Winner competition shortlist public vote

Charley Barnes – Greener On The Other Square

Competition finalists in alphabetical order

Brian Comber – Sally-my-handsome

Jenny Shaw – The Colour Of The Wind

Claire Walker – Learning To Make A Rag Rug

It is going to be a great night of poetry.

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I also LOVE this posters for NPD 2015 – Save and share

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ENJOY and don’t forget to tell us how you are spending yours.

NPD LIVE

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2014 Review of the Year

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fs fireworks This is also the 1100 post rather excitingly!

It has been a roller coaster year and I have loved every minute. I am already busy working on projects for 2015 and plan to update you all early in January.

2014 has been an amazing year, my first full year in my poetry skin (returning to this form of writing after a 15 year gap), I performed at Literary Festivals (Wenlock, Worcester, Stratford & Birmingham), finally got to the Ledbury Festival, was published in poetry journals & print anthologies, entered a few poetry competitions, was part of a team of local writers who featured in the Restless Bones Anthology to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation. I continued to work for Writing West Midlands, was offered a one to one mentoring role from WWM and given the opportunity for some further training in Arts Mark awards, had my poetry display in the library, on the Wenlock Poetry Trail, at Acton Scott Farm, was commissioned to write poetry for a Festival performance, had several main sets (15mins+) performances, wrote lots and got as involved as much as time enabled in Jo Bell’s wonderful 52 project. What I also did in January was promote 52 to local poets, some of whom are now taking on major roles in the continuation of this project.

Here’s a summary of all the wondrous parts of my writing year;

PROJECTS

  • Participated in the Mindful Stones project for a month,
  • was invited to 52 by Jo Bell, a project lasting the whole of the year,
  • The Fourth Wall (one of my original Dance poems) was displayed by the Arts Network in a local Library for a month.
  • Nominated AWF as a blog following the NAPOWRIMO challenge and participated for my 2nd year running, although due to commitments performing on the road kept me away from managing the whole of National Poetry Writing Month.
  • What’s the Agenda – A weekend Arts Festival at the MAC – Midlands Arts Centre – submitted work to Hayley Frances. My Haiku poetry became part of her installation on Hikikomori. A very powerful piece.
  • I hoped to be involved in a Brainfruit production with Roy Hutchins as part of his Poetry Army, unfortunately due to a lack of sales this event was cancelled. I hope to work with Roy in the future.
  • I was asked to perform on The Quiet Compere Tour next year, funded by the Arts Council this is a paid gig.

PERFORMANCES & EVENTS

106 performances including in late Spring some collaboration with Tim Scarborough on a set of poetry and music, opening events for galleries, sets at Festivals, performing on a narrow boat, Worcester Music Festival, 100,000 Poets for Change and my first ever Poetry Slam.

AWF hosted INKSPILL, an online writing retreat for the 2nd time, this year it was supported by guest writers; Charlie Jordan, William Gallagher & Heather Wastie.

 

WATCH & LEARN – SHOWS AND WORKSHOPS

Cat Weatherill Hungry Hearts

The Quiet Compere Tour Birmingham – Sarah Dixon

The Hive joint venture between Worcester LitFest and Ledbury Poetry Festival;

Angela France, Martin Malone

Wenlock Poetry Festival

Poetry Workshop with Jean Atkin at Acton Scott Farm

Carol Ann Duffy – National Poet Laureate in a joint venture between Ledbury Poetry festival & WLF

The Tea Project – Tara and Lynsey – MAC Arts Centre

Antony Owens & Joseph Horgan- Book Launch at the Inspire Bar, Coventry

Jo Bell and 52 – Picnic/ Performance Event Stratford-Upon-Avon Poetry Festival

Poetry Party – my first one

Benches – Jan Watts Book Launch / Off the Page Event

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family – Ben Norris at the MAC.

Wolverley Village Tea Shop – Pop Up Poetry Event organised by Sue Wood and featuring Worcester Lit Fest poets and others.

Elvis McGonagall at The Hive, Worcester, an event organised by the Worcester Lit Fest.

Poetry Workshop – National Poetry Day – Remember – Jan Watts and Cathy Crossley

Birmingham Poet Laureate Announcement and other Birmingham Literature Festival events including; Radio 4 Poetry Please with Roger McGough, With Great Pleasure, also recorded for BBC Radio 4, Rich McMahon & Tell Me on a Sunday, with Cat Weatherill.

Writing West Midlands Writing Meeting

David Calcutt – Wild Fire – Writing Workshop in Community Gardens, 2nd workshop with a group poem that will become part of the Garden.

Angela France – Poetry Workshop

Workshop with Emma Purshouse, Bilston Art Gallery, Craft & Conflict

Book Launch – The Failed Idealist’s Guide to the Tatty Truth By Fergus McGonigal

Stanza meetings and writing for Hanbury Hall via the Arts Network

WWM – Writing West Midlands – Young Writing- where I started my first of three 1 to 1 Mentoring sessions.

 

WRITING LIFE

Joined the Arts Network and several online subscriptions.

Successful application for Assistant Writers Role with WWM Writing West Midlands, working with young writers and Ian MacLeod. I also covered as an assistant writer in Jean Atkin’s group.

Applied to be involved in a commission with Naked Lungs, I was later successfully picked for the final collaboration.

Celebrated ONE YEAR A POET a celebration of my first year back in the world of poetry

 

PUBLISHED

Kidderminster Creatives Website –

Poem on the Wenlock Poetry Trail (as part of the Poetry Festival) 1 of 23 poems displayed in local shops in the town.

Shops website published

Two poems accepted for Born Free Poetry Anthology – Restless Bones. Elaine Christie watched a performance f my 52 poems a few months later and asked for another two poems, I am delighted to have 4 poems in this wonderful collection.

Hayley Frances asked for Haikus for a new community project taking place as a weekend festival at the MAC (Midland Arts Centre) I sent quite a few and had them used in her Hikikomori installation at the end of the month, which I was lucky enough to see.

I sent some poetry to Acton Scott Farm, Jean Atkin was the poet in residence and had The Half and Half Pig chosen for the Poetry Fence.

Clench Published by Hark Magazine, July Issue.

I also worked on an epic submission for Offa’s Press, which was rejected, but I have the pleasure of knowing one of the new poets that was taken on.

Fallacy (a 52 poem) published in the GBWO – Great British Write Off.

The Cart – Published online – Poetry on The Farm Website

‘Falling into Line’, written especially for the Boy/Girl Issue Published by HCE

Picasso of Dance (a 52 poem) published in Remember Poetry Anthology by Paragram

 

LOOK OUT for exciting Daniel Sluman posts (he proposed over Christmas) so look forward to an excited Daniel Sluman too!

INKSPILL: Guest Writer – Charlie Jordan – Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)

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Guest Writer ticket 2014

Charlie Jordan – charlie jordan

Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)

 

Balance? No idea – just squish bits of writing in whenever you can, and accept that life sometimes gets so busy with work and family responsibilities, that you may not always have space…….that’s ok too – sometimes the only hour you get free needs to be spent walking in the park and clearing your head.

Don’t get too Ivory Tower about your writing, we all have images of sitting in a particular location, with elegant stationery or a Macbook and endless hours to focus on our craft – but the reality may be scribbling on a train in rush hour, or when waiting to collect the kids on the school run – hoping they’re running a few minutes late today, so you can finish a piece. 😉 Sometimes it’s just a few brief notes or thoughts for working on another time, and that’s ok.

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I love the books by Natalie Goldberg on writing, and she writes about Zen practise too – so as someone who’s dabbled with Buddhism for 30 yrs, I can re-read her books and still savour new nuances.

Others rave about Stephen King’s book on writing, or Julia Cameron – read widely and see what works for you, but don’t allow too much reading about writing equate to never actually doing any writing! It’s a fine balance…. I read Buddhist books, Pema Chodron & Thich Nhat Hanh are among my favourites, food books, authors like Elizabeth Gilbert – who have such a clear voice I can hear them speaking from the page, and of course – poetry……from early favourites like Maya Angelou – who wrote and spoke as a 6 foot woman, like me – and I didn’t know any other tall women then, so I felt like she understood!

Benjamin Zephaniah, as a Brummy and hugely charismatic poet and writer who is equally at home writing for children or engaging in more serious political poetry, sometimes combining both in his young adult novels, Sharon Olds – whose work Jo Bell introduced me to – which reminds me – you should look up Jo Bell.

© Sarah Bryson 2014

© Sarah Bryson 2014

Now! She’s a powerhouse of poetic life force, fiercely talented and a warm, friendly mischievous woman whose love of poetry and boating meets perfectly in her currently being our canal Laureate. She instigated 52 – a brilliant initiative online for weekly poetry prompts and sharing of new work – hopefully in a book for next year so we can all catch up on it. Lemn Sissay too – outstanding energy on the page and off the page and sometimes inscribed into walls – Google him now & look….. So many other names, too many to mention – but poets like Jaqui Rowe, Angela France, Helen Ivory are worth your time and generally dip into collections of poetry like a ‘pick & mix’ to stumble on new favourites. Performance poets to recommend include Hollie McNish, Bohdan Piasecki, Kate Tempest, Matt Windle, Spoz, Maggie Doyle – several of whom are friends, but of course I’m not biased – they’re outstanding poets too.

BL RH jACQUIKathy MaggieQC Matt Windle Gary Longden

Angela francebohdan-piasecki Hollie

Connect with other writers when you can, it’s such an isolating process – so writing groups, open mics, writing courses and literary festivals – go and find your tribe as it were! I’ve found the West Midlands to be full of some hugely talented writers, who are also encouraging and supportive people who welcome new poets and want to build up their confidence.

One thing that makes me sad is when a writer spends time and energy criticising another writer’s work. This may be amusing with the big name million selling, prize winning stars parry in the broad sheets to get the headlines for their new bestseller…..but for the rest of us in the real world – be kinder! Don’t waste your finite words, and energy in negativity and try to divide the already small community of writers and artists and claim some work is superior to others. Of course we’re not all going to love every word or genre written, but why denigrate someone’s hard work and sneer – instead why not tell us whose work you love?

Share what sets you alight with inspiration and we too may indulge in the excitement of discovering new favourite writers.

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Update things. This is as much for me as you……I’ve been presenting the Drivetime show at Smooth radio in the West Midlands since March, but haven’t updated my website this year….ooooops! My friend Dave does all the technical stuff for it, but I’ve not sent him any new copy for months – so, note to self – update it……… Nina’s much better at this

 

On Editing

Editing – try actually chopping a piece up. Literally with scissors and physically swap words or lines around in a poem…..sometimes it frees things up in a way you’d never discover on a computer screen. And you get to play with blue tack or sellotape – always fun!

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This is just a few rambling thoughts scribbled extremely quickly, so to wrap up I should say something really profound and meaningful and well thought out – like I was planning this destination all along…..erm…..oooopssssss…..oh wait, yes – that’s it….. Feel free to ignore/discard/forget every word of this or anything else……… different things will work for us all at different times. There is no one definitive answer, but by reading widely and dipping into and out of things, you’ll be likely to discover something you do like, that fits right now.

So Good luck, go write and enjoy.

Oh and one more thing, try writing with your friends – I did it with Divas, and we’ve had the best fun and once our diaries are all link up, we’ll be doing it again and having the best writing and performing fun ever, and tea, cake & mischievous giggles!

 

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Week 3 October Ghosts, Meetings & Phenomenal Women

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I decided at the beginning of the month that I would do less performance events this month and focus on my writing. I have found it hard, if not frustrating, especially as I feel I have missed out on some great events.

There is a certain amount of stress and pressure which comes from being under deadlines. I want this life, I want to have a full writing diary and lots of projects on the go, but I have to learn to find some balance. This life is tiring whilst I write alongside the day job (as many of us do) , I need to give myself enough time to rejuvenate and refuel. Energy is essential. Life_is_sweet_tea_party

This week sees the Book to the Future Festival at  Birmingham University, it finishes tomorrow. There was a great programme of events, which I missed out on as I have done lots of day job work this week too. I managed to contact a few writers who were lecturing to get seminar notes in return to being on their mailing lists. I also managed to get to Phenomenal Women on Wednesday night. I am missing Ben Norris this evening as I promised Mr G the weekend and am chained to my desk until deadlines pass. 1birm 7

This week I had planned to be out at events for 4 nights in a row, it has been a challenging week at work and I decided I do not have enough energy to deal with that many performances.

  • Tuesday I performed at Mouth & Music, Jasmine Gardosi headliner along with PTR Williams.
  • Wednesday I attended a writing meeting at Writing West Midlands
  • then hotfooted Birmingham University for Phenomenal Women with Jan Watts.
  • I was supposed to go to PFL Poetry for Lunch and Hit the Ode on Thursday, however I decided to take time off I missed Lorna Meehan perform at HTO!
  • On Friday I missed Spoken Word at The Ort, Birmingham and Spoken World’s at Burton.
  • I did go to a Stanza meeting, there were only 3 of us, last month there were 14. A small group were out in Malvern to see Carol Ann Duffy.
  • Today there are poetic happenings in the Library of Birmingham, Ben Norris performs at Birmingham University and tomorrow Maurice Riordan speaks at Notts Festival of Words – at Notttingham University.

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I now have a 5 day stretch to write and finish several projects I am working on and take on a new opportunity. Towards the end of the week I have some book promotion events, charity events and a book launch also next weekend sees our own VIRTUAL WRITING RETREAT – INKSPILL! Then it’s half term, Halloween and a bunch more events.

 

MOUTH & MUSIC Tues 14th mouth-music-poster-oct14

This month’s M&M was electrifying – we had 4 Birmingham Poets amongst us – Jasmine Gardosi was Head-lining, along with PTR Williams. Those factors were the only differences to the usual stellar line up of open mic-ers – but it was just one of those nights that caught an extra sprinkling of magic along the way. Funny really because it was Ghosts and Ancestors theme and those of you who know me, know I am a complete scaredy cat!

me I had written a 2 poems (especially for M&M) that I couldn’t wait to perform, I plan to use it them on the Halloween circuit in a fortnight (42, Halloweeny Night at the Ort, Word Up) – they went down well and from audience reaction had the right amount of spooky foreboding! Perfect. The other 2 poems I shared were written a while ago now, 2013.

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I really enjoyed all the sets and seeing people I haven’t seen for months. We also had several performers new to M&M and they were fabulous, hoping they will be back. The lovely Saffron Toms brought her kit and snapped amazing, arty photos of the night to catch the atmosphere. The venue is incredibly dark so just on light settings alone she deserves a lot of kudos. All photos are copyright Saffron Toms. Just a taste – think there are over 60 shots posted online.

© Saffron Toms 2014

Jasmine Gardosi

OCT Jasoct jas 2

 

vicartessaOCT Mogs Saffron Toms

Jan                                                                                                   Tessa Lowe                                                              Mogs

OCT Kate Wragg Saffron TomsOCT Caution Poet Saffron Tomsnajma

Katie Wragg                                                               Caution Poet                                                                      Najma Hush

Oct me saffron tomsOCT Saffron Tomsmm saffron toms Myself – Nina Lewis

Wednesday 15th October – Writing West Midlands Meeting for Writers with Young People

Annually WWM get all the Lead and Assistant writers from the Midlands groups together. It was a fun meeting and they were also selling off book overstock from the Birmingham Literature Festival… discounted books -yes, please!

I also signed up for the possibility of training to mentor Arts Awards later on this year.  leeallenphotographycom WWM

 

Wednesday 15th October – Book to the Future Festival – Jan Watts – Phenomenal Women Event

From The Custard Factory (WWM HQ),  I hot footed in torrential rain to the University to take part in the Book to the Future Festival for the 2nd year. Jan Watts organises an annual Phenomenal Women event, there were 12 poets booked to perform including;

Janet Smith

Swingerella

Jasmine Gardosi

Charley Barnes

ScrubberJack – Jackie Smallridge

Andrea Smith

Kathy Gee

Heather Wastie

Jan Watts

and myself, Nina Lewis

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It was a great night and secretly for me – it was also a celebration of meeting Jan Watts a year ago!

I performed my post office rant (written the day before) and a couple from the Maya Angelou collection – as it was phenomenal women….

 

Friday 17th October Stanza

I had had a terribly challenging day at work beforehand (emotionally drained) and unfortunately that blew my Thursday performance plan out of the water. I spent time writing some new poetry and on Friday night (after another long work day) I went to the Stanza Meeting armed with a poem about Migration. Big thanks to Mike Alma for the lift, I was far too tired to drive and wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise!

stanza scrabble

 

This weekend sees many Poets and bands in Birmingham for Oxjam, as well as all the other exciting things I have mentioned- I am happy writing – trying on the ‘reclusive writer’ for a while until deadlines pass!

Next week is already filling up – there is a Hanbury Hall Project I am involved with as well as other things, including lots of days of work (as it is half term the week after = no income) I am busy writing new poetry and have a job application to send off as well.

\ Happy Writing! /

Birmingham Literature Festival – Naked Lungs Urban Nature

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BLFest This year a call out for poets was announced by Naked Lungs (Joe Whitehouse & Christopher Baker) for a collaborative project and performance at Birmingham Literature Festival.

80 people applied to the initial advert and although Naked Lungs didn’t interview all applicants, it still feels special to be picked as one of the four poets. The brief was intentionally loose to give artists room to interpret and play, we met up and visited the Community Garden in Digbeth for some extra inspiration and to spend some time together.

I really enjoyed meeting new poets, Hannah Graham is a local poet performer and Amanda Hemmings works with young people writing at the MAC, Aysha Begum, is a poet I already knew, we have performed at the same events and I have enjoyed some of her projects, like Bridge the Gap. She recently won the Oxjam Slam in Birmingham.

The whole project was individuals working privately on the commission and then coming together to unite our words and ideas. I really liked the fact that we wrote in the dark and then discovered the elements of synchronicity.

Unfortunately due to demonstrations *that I am not going to give promotion to*, one of our performers was prevented from arriving safely at the library. This situation was fully understood by all of us and I think if it had been any of us in that position we would have done the same. But at one point we were potentially half the cast down Hannah and I thought we might have to fill the whole half hour together. A daunting prospect!

This would have been a challenge on timing alone. We had been asked to write for 7-8 minutes worth of material, due to differences in the way we all work and the poetry we produce, not every artist fulfilled the timings brief. This meant that we were already short of the specified performance slot.

Everyone wrote amazing poems and performed them brilliantly. We all work differently and I am sure everyone put their all into the work for this performance, certainly in the time spent learning their poems, which is something I didn’t have time to do – as they were only completed 4 days before the performance and I had 2 days of work and 2 events in that time.

We needn’t have panicked though as the extra time allowed us to introduce the project and the poems and contextualise some of our material. It was a worry but needn’t have been, we were just a few minutes short of the 30 and no-one seemed to mind.

It was a great project to be involved with and great fun performing in the foyer of the Library of Birmingham. We had quite a good crowd of people watching, along with our own supporters and everyone did really well. I still can’t believe that Amanda hadn’t performed for a year, what a brave way to get back into performing! Hannah Graham is amazingly talented and I look forward to watching her in the future.

I will continue to seek out future opportunities as amazing as this one.

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Meetings – The Good Sort!

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I am way behind on my blogging and need to catch up with myself before October.

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On the 12th of September I met the other 3 poets involved in the Naked Lunch commission for Birmingham Literature Festival. Meeting

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I had met Aysha Begum, a talented poet and winner of the OXJAM Slam earlier this summer in Birmingham, she also facilitated Bridge the Gap – the event on the canal boat so her name may be familiar to you too. Hannah J Graham (thank you for the photos) and Amanda Hemmings are the other poets contributing to this project.

Now we have started writing for the commission and have just a fortnight before we perform. Christopher Baker and Joe Whitehouse are the brains behind Naked Lunch, organising and promoting events for Spoken Word Artists. They claim not to be poets themselves, I am not convinced!

Our performance is on 11th OCTOBER in the Foyer at the Library of Birmingham as part of the final weekend of events for the Birmingham Literature Festival, which starts on this Thursday on the 2nd of October. blf ikon 4

They announce the new Poet Laureate in the evening, I know two of the finalists this year, Matt Man Windle and Jasmine Gardosi …. I wish them both all the luck in the world. One poet is a champion boxer, the other a Karate expert…. it could be the first fight between poets, who knows!

Poet Laureate (you can read the candidates poems here)

I should be in the library to hear them and the other shortlisted poems perform their city poems. Shortlisted candidates;

Adrian Blackledge, Andy Connor, Jasmine Gardosi, Pauline Morgan and Matt Man Windle

Digbeth Garden Hannah J Graham © HJ Graham 2014

Anyway back to the meeting, we explored the community garden in Digbeth and spent some time talking to each other, discussing the project and theme.

SATURDAY 11th OCT. 4 -4:30pm

FREE

Urban Nature – find out more about this project/ performance here

Birmingham Literature Festival

 

Before hot footing it back on a train to get to my Stanza Meeting. I had spent most of the day trying to write a new poem to take, but as time ran out I had a look through recent writing and picked a poem I was not altogether happy with.

Meeting 2

It was a packed and busy night at Stanza, hosted this month by Ian Glass, who had been at work at all day and like the rest of us couldn’t believe how many poets had turned up. Enough to give the ‘youth’, whose parents had gone out and left a crowd of noisy teens rampaging in their garden a run for their money! Despite this distraction the atmosphere inside was as special and electrifying as I always find stanza meetings to be.

stanza scrabble I also had lots of helpful advice from other people on editing and strengthening my poem. Which I have left brewing in a drawer for a few weeks, before culling and reworking starts.

I find these meetings helpful and sociable, we never stop learning and I love hearing people performing their material post edit somewhere public and feeling privileged that I heard it before it had its best clothes on.

And this month Claire Walker had baked an amazing cake for our meeting – with butter icing and foraged forest fruits – which gave me a great idea for One Year A Poet – my anniversary/ Birthday celebration of poetry.

Meeting 3

Was the very next day, where Ian MacLeod and I saw our WWM Writing West Midlands group come back together at the start of a new year/term. It was a fun session.

WWM

My one to one mentoring role starts next month, which I am looking forward to.

After the meeting I had to rush off into Birmingham to watch a live radio interview recording with Lenny Henry, followed by watching him in Ruddy’s Rare Records at The Rep. Big, BIG thanks to Andrea Smith for the tickets and beautiful company! Andrea bernard Davis