Category Archives: Books

Writing Book Reviews – WMRN Reader in Residence

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This summer I had the exciting opportunity to apply to be a Reader in Residence, my application was successful and Warwickshire Libraries now have me in role at Rugby Library. The position started in September and runs until March 2018.

Following meetings on site, emails and team meetings I spent a month planning and promoting the first workshop ‘Writing A Book Review’.

wmrn review writing workshop

My group comprised of talented, experienced writers. It was lovely to watch the enthusiasm during the session as people relaxed and got to know each other. One of the great spin offs from this event was the networking opportunities. I am certain some of the participants will keep in contact with each other and explore what the county has to offer.

I was happy with how the workshop went, after spending several days tweaking plans and making sure the massive amount of input could be covered in the time we had available. We did just fit it all in, the most important elements were given as a handout at the end.

I opted for a very informal evaluation, but was too anxious to read people’s feedback straight away.

It was very positive and useful. We plan to repeat the workshop next year with some members from the various Reading Groups associated with Rugby Library – and the general public, so if you missed it and you fancy learning some Top Tips and insights, look out for further promotion in the Library and on Eventbrite.

https://librariesblog.warwickshire.gov.uk/2017/11/24/meet-our-reader-in-residence/

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Feedback: 

An amazing amount of interesting information in an hour and a half. 

An inspiring afternoon.

I found this afternoon encouraging for my writing in the future.

I love getting together with people who love to read!

Enjoyed the workshop, you have a calm, free-spirited air about you. 

Overall, extremely enjoyable and more importantly, informative.

The ideas mentioned are going to be really helpful.

Lovely atmosphere.

Informative and useful.

Great to meet like-minded people.

It inspired me to write and read more. 

Really well structured session with great tips.

Relaxed atmosphere, I really enjoyed it. 

rugby Lib.png© Rugby Library 2017

It was a relief to know everyone had enjoyed it and the information helped and inspired them. I can now pass all the good news onto the team at Rugby Library.

The team were very supportive today, huge thanks to those involved in ensuring this event ran smoothly, for taking photos, bringing us more hot water for a 2nd round of caffeine -much needed as we were whizzing through at a great pace! For the biscuits/refreshments & setting up the space.

Thanks to Ann Brine (Manager Rugby Library) for coming to evaluate and debrief. The session went really well and I am now ready for my next Reader in Residence mission, watch this space!

Thanks also to Roz Goddard at WMRN.

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Meet our Reader in Residence

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Meet our Reader in Residence

My next exciting adventure! I was invited to apply for the position of Reader in Residence through West Midlands Readers’ Network in July. The application and bid were successful and in August I was allocated Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library as my base. September and October involved meetings and emails and this month preparation for my first event.

I am delighted to have this opportunity. I watched Jean Atkin & Deborah Alma have fun with their residencies and have wished for this for a while.

Warwickshire Libraries

Hello!  I’m Nina Lewis, a writer and current Poet Laureate of Worcestershire. I’m very excited to be the brand new Reader In Residence at Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library. My position has been appointed through Roz Goddard of West Midlands Readers’ Network and Warwickshire Libraries.

So far I met some of the team in Warwickshire to make initial plans and introductions. I came to visit Rugby Library, spent a good while looking at a heritage display, dipping into local history books and admiring historical photographs and maps of the area, before meeting the lovely Library staff and the rest of the team.

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I was delighted to find out more about the Poetry Voices work happening in Warwickshire with Brenda Read-Brown and Poetry on Loan. There have been so many great events for you to attend locally. As my residency runs at the same time we decided not to focus…

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Universal Children’s Day

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Universal Children’s Day – books and poetry to share.

Poet Laureate

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I was curious about the acorns in the tree… weren’t you? This date has been significant for well over 60 years. 

November 20th Universal Children’s Day. 

The Background 

The United Nations’ (UN) Universal Children’s Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, promotes and coordinates this special day, which also works towards improving children’s welfare.

Many countries, including Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, hold Universal Children’s Day events on November 20 to mark the anniversaries of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

© Time and Date AS 1995–2017

book-2752587_1920.jpgThere is a whole menu page with books on understanding Human Rights, freedom, Children’s Rights, justice and solidarity all aimed at children/ Young Adults on the

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October Review (better late than never)

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Just before we reach the halfway point of November I thought I would get my head down and tell you about last month!

October was such a whirlwind month. An abundant welcome into the winter and came with the realisation that I have not submitted anything for 5 months (I have organised enough WPL events to fill 100 pages of my notebook) and written more commissioned poems than I can count on all my fingers and toes… but this is something I want to get back to before the end of the year. So now I will find some extra time to carve out, December is looking good!

WEEK 1: 

I wanted to go to Kim Moore’s workshop at Buzzwords, but I didn’t get back from my stint in London at the Poetry Book Fair/Free Verse in time. Well technically, I could have detoured to Cheltenham in time but energy levels were so long I didn’t think I would manage the late drive home or even stay awake for writing and my brain was as tired as my body. It was amazing according to everyone who was there and having taken her workshop at the Verve Festival in February, I don’t doubt it!

I had my Adam Speaks Treehouse poem accepted for the NT project at Croome Court. With NPD, Credo and then hot-footing down South I had forgotten the deadline on this writing, which was already tight. This was the first poem I was forced to send on my phone, thank goodness it was a submission in the body of an email. I had to send it from Free Verse and it was a definite last minute submission. Fortunately, I didn’t look too rude doing so as the hall was packed with poets live tweeting.

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© Croome Court/Adam Speaks

I had a school workshop planned which sadly had to be postponed, I look forward to this in 2018 although I expect to change my plans to fit the curriculum topics in the Spring Term.

Then I went down to Swindon for the Poetry Festival, now in it’s 5th year (and my 3rd). I cannot express how much I love this festival. This was my first year of stewarding, generally I buy festival passes or lots of events tickets and arrive as a punter, network, drink and absorb poetry into my very core. I knew working on the team would make this experience completely different but I also knew it was a solid team to be part of and saw volunteering as the biggest thank you I could give.

I was also booked to perform V Formation with fellow V. Press Poets Stephen Daniels and Gram Joel Davies (also notably on the team).

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Some of the team and performers at the opening event POEMS ALOUD Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon

V FORMATION – POETS of V. PRESS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
A celebration of three new and exciting voices in British poetry: Stephen Daniels, Gram Joel Davies and Nina Lewis.
Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. His debut pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them was published in 2017 by V. Press. Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon and his pamphlet, Bolt Down This Earth was V. Press’ Forward Prize nominee for 2017. Nina Lewis is Worcestershire Poet Laureate and her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016.

Our readings were on the 1st night and the event went well, was well attended and people were still talking about it a few days later.

Swindon Poetry Festival needs a blog post and I will write a full review as soon as I can find time to do so. Another case of better late than never!

 

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Highlights in brief:

WORKSHOP: The Dynamic Poem Holiday Inn  With Daljit Nagra
Poems can sometimes seem flat and lack vigour, they can drift along in a dreamy mood without any conviction. Daljit will explore with examples from contemporary poetry how to put the fizz back into a poem. Participants should expect to have attempted at least one new lively poem!

READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Poke into the poetry box! Treasures of the heart, inca-named stardust, and various severed body parts! An hour of humour and water with Sue Rose, Emma Simon and Simon Williams.
Emma Simon won the Prole Laureate poetry competition in 2013 and loss, love & severed body parts scatter through her first collection Dragonish (The Emma Press). Simon Williams latest collection, Inti, was published in July. Sue Rose is the author of three poetry collections. Heart Archives was published by Hercules Editions in 2014.

POETS & PUBLISHERS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Discussions led by poet Carrie Etter with two prominent poetry editors, Amy Wack and Mary Jean Chan. Come and join a discussion about what it takes to get published.
Carrie Etter is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her most recent collection, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society.
Since 1990, American expatriate Amy Wack has edited Seren Books’ multi-prizewinning poetry list. Her own poems have appeared in various journals, most recently a 12-part poem inspired by feral cats in Spain in Long Poem Magazine.
Mary Jean Chan, from Hong Kong, is shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and is Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Ambit, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Callaloo Journal.

WORKSHOP: Call and Response Sun Inn With Rishi Dastidar
We’ve all been to workshops where we’ve been inspired by other poems, maybe visual art too, and then written in response to them. So what happens when we use pop songs instead? That’s the simple premise behind ‘Call and Response’, where some great music will hopefully provide great inspiration for writing poems. Just bring some paper, pencils – and your ears.
Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. His debut collection, Ticker-tape, is published by Nine Arches Press.

and more…

During the festival I missed the beginning of Birmingham Literature Festival and a meeting with the poets involved in the Elgar Poetry Project.

Week 2: 

Swindon Poetry Festival and the highlights of the weekend. An amazing end to the festival was Monday morning, breakfast with Daljit and then Breakfast and Poetry over at the Tent Palace as our festival finale.

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I got back on Monday afternoon and Monday evening was straight out to open mic at Licensed to Rhyme in the new venue Cafe Morso, Barnt Green.

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Fergus McGonigal was headlining, so good to see him again and to see him back on the circuit with his new book, now one of my new shiny books too!

Everyone is now unhappy© Burning Eye 

As WPL I was busy gathering submissions for World Mental Health Day – as Mental Health Week started when I was in Swindon and I had been hit by the dreaded Swindon Lurgy! Which meant I missed most of the events at Birmingham Literature Festival that I planned to go to!

I was also organising the Hanbury Hall Project for poets to go and write about artwork displayed in the Long Gallery by DAN. The Gallery opened on the 10th and the exhibition ran until the 29th and they had over 3300 visitors, only 15 of which were poets!

Not as WPL but as a poet I was also busy preparing INKSPILL – our online writing retreat.

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I missed tons of events being ill (proper ill with blankets).

Week 3: 

I made it back to the edge of health in time to perform as WPL at the SpeakEasy event for Mental Health Day at Cafe Bliss, this is a wonderful annual event which brings together speakers from a variety of Mental Health and Wellbeing backgrounds, agencies such as The Samaritans and this year The Shaw Trust and of course local poets.

It was a very moving experience and a good afternoon. I also received submissions for the World Mental Health Day Anthology from participants. I love it when the WPL projects reach local people through events and radio broadcasts. I made the decision to keep the submission open on the Mental Health collection for the duration of my tenure. We raise awareness of it a few times a year through these calendar events, but actually it is everyday living for 1 in 4 (official statistics were 1 in 5 but recent NHS figures show 1 in 4).

The following day after dragging myself around a D.I.Y store with Mr G. I diagnosed myself healthy enough to venture into Birmingham to catch Joe Cook and Hollie McNish at the Town Hall. This is the 2nd time this year I have seen Hollie and she was as wonderful as ever. It was also the 2nd time this year I gave up on queuing to meet her. I met her several times in 2015 and I know I will get my new books signed one day!

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© Birmingham Mail

I had planned to get to Wellington Festival, but I still wasn’t 100% well and also my car was slightly damaged over the weekend.

I made it to Hanbury Hall and was able to meet up with the Cheltenham contingency of poets (well, some of them). I took plenty of photos and notes and ended up writing 8 poems – 6 of which will make it public.

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On the 18th I was back in Birmingham for Stablemates at Waterstones. Jill Abram always sends me an invite to these London events, so I could hardly refuse when she brought it to the Midlands. It was a fantastic night. I really felt uplifted by the end of it. It was also a chance to finally meet and watch Rosie Garland who I have heard so much about. I got to see Jackie Hagan again (last time I saw her was at Hit the Ode) and listening to Henry Normal was a pleasure, I love the fact his is Oscar nominated and a BAFTA winner and has yet returned to his first love of poetry.

I started to promote my first WPL event for children, which had been in the pipeline for a while. The WLF team produce a Halloween Event for LITtleFest at St.John’s library which along with the usual storytelling, pumpkin carving and treats I included a Writing Workshop for 5 – 9+ years old.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

I also had a call out for Halloween Poem Submissions which needed a push.

I spent the tail end of the week working on the Elgar Poetry commission (WPL).

 

Week 4 

I had my 2nd writing meeting with Spark Young Writers at The Hive, we had a go at our own spooky theme and also had the new WWM Operations Assistant, Heddwen Creaney come to visit our group.

I spent 4 days busily researching Elgar and completing 14 new poems for the event in November.

I spent some admin time organising festival events for 2018.

I worked on my WMRN role as Reader in Residence for Rugby Library organising next month’s Review Writing Workshop.

I had my WPL spot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding, talked about the Elgar Project and Mental Health. I shared my poem ‘First Steps’ from Fragile Houses.

In the evening I enjoyed dressing up for Halloween (I looked like a Gothic Librarian – but what I wanted was Suz Winspear our first Goth Poet Laureate) and went to 42. It was rather cramped as we were in the Lunar Bar upstairs and it was a great turn out for the night. It also gave me a chance to promote the Halloween submission call too.

I missed Jenna Clake’s Book Launch of ‘Fortune Cookie’ in Birmingham, which I was gutted about but I also asleep by the time it started. So the right call was made!

We had a Stanza meeting and then it was Week 5!

 

Week 5 

INKSPILL of course, which needs no introduction around here… our 5th annual online writing retreat – it is mad to think we have been going for as long as Swindon Poetry Festival! This year’s Guest Poets were Antony Owen & Stephen Daniels, both fellow V. Press poets, although I hadn’t realised that until after the booking.

It was a massively successful and fun weekend. Take a look at the programme page if you missed it and you should be able to navigate through from there using the menu tools on screen.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/inkspill-2017-programme/

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It was also the Halloween Event at the library – where my workshop was attended by children aged 4 to 12, all enjoyed themselves and watched me, dressed as a witch attempting to fly around the room. They did ask why my face wasn’t green and I told them all about the family tea party I was going to afterwards.

It was fun and the most exhausting WPL event yet!

On Sunday I spent a long time creating the first issue of the WPL Magazine Contour – submissions all about Place/Worcestershire closed at the end of August and since then I have been sifting through work. Fortunately during some local research I discovered Philip Halling and we were able to use his images throughout the magazine with a few additions from local poets.

 

The end of the DAN Exhibition at Hanbury Hall was marked with a closing celebration on the 30th which Polly Stretton was invited to read her poem ‘Curves’ at. Polly won a competition created by Peter Hawkins (Chair) to find a poem for the closing of the exhibition. I sneaked one of mine in as WPL/Organiser of the poetry part of the project.

The artist for my piece was there, Stephen Evans and I am delighted that he will be using my work alongside his painting in his next exhibition in December.

I successfully completed a WPL Productions Poetry Film to show off the Halloween Poetry Submissions and added some prose as a one off Poet Laureate special to the blog.

 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

More on the Adam Speaks Launch day next month.

Adam Speaks National Trust Launch Event

Buy your copy of Fergus McGonigal’s new book here

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/everyone-is-now-unhappy

INKSPILL An Afternoon With Guest Writer Stephen Daniels

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Our second Guest Writer and Editor is Stephen Daniels.

Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry  and the Secretary for Poetry Swindon. His poetry has been published in various magazines and websites, including: The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, The Lake, Clear Poetry, Picaroon Poetry, The Fat Damsel, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Eunoia Review, Algebra of Owls, The Open Mouse, I am not a silent poet and Nutshells and Nuggets, Good Dadhood, The Poetry Shed, Obsessed With Pipework, The Curly Mind and Down in the Dirt.

Stephen’s poetry appeared in several anthologies including Richard Jefferies Writers – ’78 Anthology, Domestic Cherry, Ink Sweat & Tears ’12 Days of Christmas’ 2016 and my poem ‘Light’ was runner-up in the Candlestick Press micropoem competition 2015.

His debut pamphlet ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them‘ was published by V. Press this year.

You can find out more at www.stephenkirkdaniels.com and @stephendaniels

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© swindontheatres.co.uk

INKSPILL Introduces Guest Poet Antony Owen

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BIOGRAPHY: ANTONY OWEN 

Antony Owen was born in Coventry and was raised by working class parents. His poetry subjects are diverse with a general focus on forgotten people and the consequences of international and domestic conflicts.

He is the author of five poetry collections by Pighog / Heaventree / Hesterglock /  and most recently V  Press .

His work has appeared in several literary journals worldwide including Magma, International Times plus translated works in both Dutch and Japanese war poetry anthologies by Poetry International Europe and Coal Sack Press (Japan).

In 2015 Owen self-funded a trip to Hiroshima to interview A-bomb survivors and meet various schools who have been taught some of his poems. His work has been exhibited at various peace centres including the International Convention Centre, Hiroshima.

In recognition of his work, CND Peace Education UK selected Owen as a patron in 2015 alongside award winning writer AL Kennedy.

Other past recognitions include being selected to meet Irish President Michael D. Higgins in 2014 on the first state visit to the UK by an Irish President. This was to acknowledge Owen’s voluntary work on co-organising the Coventry / Cork twin city poetry exchange.

SOURCE: https://antonyowenpoetry.wordpress.com/vitae-2/

His latest collection  The Nagasaki Elder was launched with V. Press this year. It is the result of years of work. It is a powerful collection (understatement) and is much needed in this world. Launched in September and currently on the 2nd print run.

You can buy a copy from the INKSPILL Bookshop.INKSPILL BOOKSHOP

https://antonyowenpoetry.wordpress.com/

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Bridges Over the Wall – Antony reading at the Peace Poetry Vigil – Coventry Cathedral.

Antony arranged a voluntary peace poetry vigil for victims of conflict at the Chapel of Unity (Coventry Cathedral) on Sat February 4th.

This poignant remembrance project titled ‘Bridges over the wall” will consist of bridging poetry and spoken word for those without a voice from places of conflict across the world. The event will also bridge conflicts past and present eulogising those affected from the bombings of places like Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki to recent conflicts in Syria and Yemen. During the course of the vigil hundreds of dedicated poems will be read by Owen and selected poets throughout Warwickshire and beyond. Owen also plans to engage a local school and refugees to take part. For each poem read a candle will be lit in the Chapel of Unity creating a universal candle for world peace made up from places of conflict and peace poems.

Owen said “I wanted to show the social conscience of poetry and how important the role of art is in these difficult times. It is vital in these hard times that we build bridges to bring each other together and not walls to keep us apart. War poetry historically has always shed a light from the darkness of war and evoked some sense of the senseless”

Owen also acknowledged how Coventry was the first city in the world to twin with another (Stalingrad in 1944) and wanted to keep that spirit of reciprocal remembrance alive, Owen said

“In 1944 it was 900 of our women from Coventry who demonstrated human empathy to civilians caught up in the battle of Stalingrad, they embroidered their names on a tablecloth and sent messages of sympathy to the women of Stalingrad for the huge losses they suffered in World War II and their message was this: “From our city of Coventry, scarred and ravaged by the arch enemy of civilisation, our hearts go out to you, who now face slaughter and suffering even more fearful”.

About the Event

Coventry now has 27 twin cities and Owen plans to contact as many of them as possible to share news of this event. The Chapel of Unity is a consistent beacon of remembrance and for decades has been a centre point of remembrance including the annual remembrance event for Hiroshima & Nagasaki where civilians of those cities also remember victims of the Coventry blitz. The vigil will be further enhanced by a separate event in the main Cathedral taking place in the afternoon which will bring Coventry Cathedral boy choristers together with those of Derby Cathedral, Leicester Cathedral and Southwell Minster for a combined service to take place separately from the vigil. They will be rehearsing in the Nave during the afternoon from about 2 pm and so providing a gentle backdrop to the Peace Vigil as it continues in the Chapel of Unity. Antony Owen hopes as many people will come to support this peace vigil by asking for a poem to be read for a place they want to be remembered. Optional donations to the Chapel of Unity and/or Cathedral can be made directly in the allocated boxes for any poems read and/or the other event in the main Cathedral. Please note that whilst entry to the Chapel of Unity is free of charge there is a separate fee to visit the Cathedral. 

About Antony Owen

Antony Owen is an acclaimed and prolific author with four poetry collections. Some of his poems have been translated in Mandarin, Dutch, and Japanese in notable anthologies by Poetry international (Europe) and Coal Sack Press (Japan). Following a self-funded trip to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview A-bomb survivors amongst other work Owen was awarded the winner of Coventry’s 2016 Peace & reconciliation award at the Coventry Community Cohesion Awards. In recognition of his work, CND Peace Education UK selected Owen as their first male UK patron in 2015 alongside award winning writer AL Kennedy.

©2017 – Coventry City of Peace

INKSPILL 10 Inspiring Women Writers

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Copy of Event Flyer (1)

10 Inspiring Women Writers

Every writer is encouraged to read, to read widely and to read often. Sometimes despite the library, internet and our own over burdened bookshelves we wonder what to read next.

I love it when someone points me in a new direction – this is why reading groups are such a good idea. Since starting my WMRN Reader in Residence role I have reignited my fascination for a reading list.

Here is a link to The Culture Trip website where Lani Seelinger focuses on 10 inspiring women writers (in case the title didn’t give you enough ‘in’). You may not agree, you may have read some of the titles. Let us know what you think in the comment box and if a title jumps out at you send a note to yourself (or write it down), read it and let us know what you think after.

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Originally posted November 2016

 

INKSPILL Taster or Teaser

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The full programme including this year’s Guest Writers will be revealed on the 27th. We have a new feature for 2017 – The INKSPILL Library where you will have instant access to selected archives from 2013 -2016 Writing Retreats.

INKSPILL Library

The Library will be open on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday when it features additional archived material. 

We are featuring 2 Guest Writers this year.

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They will be revealed on the 27th. 

There will be short writing tasks, exercises and workshop activities, creative tests, exclusive interviews with our Guest Writers, book promotion (the INKSPILL Bookshop will be open all weekend), monologues, Inspiring Women Writers, a look at Thomas Hardy, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen & Siegfried Sassoon, Goal Setting, an interview with Zadie Smith, writing advice from Novelist Jill Dawson, an interview with Lee Child, editors discussing modern writing and the Launch of Contour WPL Magazine. As well as rich pickings from the archive featuring previous guests: Charlie Jordan, William Gallagher, Heather Wastie, David Calcutt, Alison May, Deanne Gist, Daniel Sluman, Gaia Harper & Roy McFarlane and more. 

 

 

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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