Category Archives: Books

A Quick Flashback to April and May

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APRIL

As anyone who follows the blog will know, April is mainly a space for NaPoWriMo, half of which falls during Easter break, the other 15 days are snatched between work and life. This April we also had lots of family needs and it was necessary to step back from work as much as possible to support and survive.

I realise it is now almost the end of June and I have not posted, so here is a little flashback beyond NaPoWriMo.

I had two wonderful events in April, Peter Sutton’s Book Launch, where I was a Guest Reader and Country Voices in Ironbridge, where I performed alongside Nick Pearson & Cherry Doyle. It was a brilliant afternoon of poetry.

Both of these gigs saw my return to LIVE events (after an attempt last September). There is something very strange about the act of leaving your home to perform nowadays, it all feels so new and different. Both events were well attended, so it shows not everyone was as nervous as me.

I have read Cherry’s and Nick’s work but never met them, that was a pleasure. I saw Nick perform again this month at Welshpool Festival. I have also worked with and been aware of Sara-Jane Arbury for years but had never met face to face, that was lovely after knowing her online for a few years.

In Elmslie House the gallery also had a few pieces on display which were created by another of Sara- Jane’s Ledbury Poetry workshop participants. We had fun finding them. Peter’s book launch was an incredible event, a packed audience and so much rich poetry. Black Pear Press know how to throw a party/launch!

I also took part in the Mindful Poetry gathering run by The Well in partnership with the On Being Project. I have attended since 2020 lockdown year, it is a wonderful group of creative Americans and is always a lovely hour of soulfulness attended by people from all around the world. I have really missed these events and was looking forward to them coming back for National Poetry Month.

The Well is nourished by the non-profit organization A Mindful Moment. Our mission is to improve the mental and emotional well-beingconnectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integrationmindfulnessmusicmovement, and healing-centered practices.

The Well © 2022

I went to lots of events and watched some stunning sets. I was lucky enough to see Jason Allen-Paisant, who I came across just two years ago during Lockdown. His poetry is amazing and my bookshelves now house him.

Jason Allen-Paisant reads ‘Walking With the Word Tree’

MAY

May was full of medical appointments, work and family. We celebrated some of our American relatives arriving in our part of the UK after time in London and before a trip across to Dublin. I was also busy developing the program for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, along with the rest of the team. I missed several events due to complete exhaustion. Later in the month there were some family needs which very much took over everything.

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I did manage some much needed time at the ocean (my first time away from home in 4 years), it was a long trip to Wales for a short amount of time there but worth every hour of the journey.

I received a beautiful copy of a pamphlet a group of Stanza members worked on in 2018 as part of a Forest of Dean project. It is beautiful and a privilege to read all our words from that day. Thank you to Andrew Hoaen for my copy of SILVA – it brings that incredible day with the trees back to me!

I went to the Nine Arches Press Book Launch of Julia Webb and Tom Sastry, a wonderful event and two stunning collections! They were joined by Daniel Sluman, who’s latest collection ‘Single Window’ is also on my shelf!

Another great Book Launch with Bloodaxe poets Jo Clement, Sarah Wimbush & Clare Shaw.

I admire the work of all these poets. It is also lovely knowing (most of) them!

I also had the gift of a Verve Poetry Launch which included Sarah James and her latest collection Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic. I have heard Kathy Pimlott read before, I have read some of Kayleigh Campbell’s work and it was fascinating hearing Georgina Wilding.

Kayleigh Campbell, Sarah James, Kathy Pimlott & Georgina Wilding.

I finally finished work on a project I have been sitting on for the best part of two years. And by the end of the May WLFF Festival was ready and we were all busy with promotion.

I had some poems accepted for publication, which was fabulous as I have been unable to submit much since March and there have been lots of rejections stacking up the inbox! I have had all three of my poems accepted for a project which will entail an anthology both hardcopy and digital. I had some of my manuscript poems accepted by an anthology too and have managed to get some work into the Mindful Poetry Anthology (USA) for the second year running.

Now we are in June and I have been working full time and trying to balance the rest of life on plates with small circumferences. I have to get back to the desk at some point, but I am not quite there yet.

Having said that – I am off to Reading in a fortnight to headline Poet’s Cafe. So I am very much still working and writing but also whirling and spinning through each day!

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NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 19

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Read the full post here.

Our featured participant today is Ute Kelly, who brings us a lyrical and mysterious response to Day 18’s “five answers” prompt.

Today’s featured online journal is The Cortland Review, I’ll point you to Justin Janisse’s “Missing You, Expensively” and Grace Q. Song’s “Birthday.”

Today’s challenge is to write a poem that starts with a command. It could be as uncomplicated as “Look,” as plaintive as “Come back,” or as silly as “Don’t you even think about putting that hot sauce in your hair.”

I found the link takes you back to Day 18. I found the poem by Ute Kelly here.

I read/listened to the suggested poems from The Cortland Review:

Justin Jannise

Missing You, Expensively

This poem really touched me.

Grace Q. Song

Birthday

There is something very compelling about hearing a poet read their own work. This one nearly had me in tears. Both of today’s poems have spoken to me deeply.

Our separate lives bookmarked 

my grandmother, her hair
blown and bed-white, 

We want her to thaw,
but who can return again and again
without consequences. 

and we begin to sing, our voices like ravens,
trying to find each other in the dark.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

I started with collecting imperative verbs whilst thinking of commands and life’s instructions. I thought about small children learning (possibly because I saw Billy Connelly Does… Fatherhood last night), computer coding and instruction manuals. My brain fired off in multiple directions and stuck like silly string on several ideas. So I decided to carry them for a bit longer before sitting down to write, knowing that the initial few ideas aren’t always the best subjects.


I went to visit family this morning and inherited a manual, perhaps that’s a sign for this prompt!

I also like the idea of misusing instructions. Or substituting the wrong verb. Both methods I have played with before. It’s exciting going to the page and not really having any idea what will come out (which is basically my NaPoWriMo experience in a nutshell! I also liked – “Don’t you even think about putting that hot sauce in your hair.” from today’s prompt.

I opened the almanac at a random page and LOST IN THE WILDS appeared first in my line of sight!

Obviously published before mobile technology, but signal doesn’t always work in rural areas and these are the sorts of skills which died out with the last generation. The archaic nature is the appeal and this advice would definitely aid survival (especially if you have packed a mirror/knife/whistle and a flare/smoke signal and are wearing a watch. Which until the arrival of Fitbits (other brands are available), people weren’t wearing watches, instead relied on their phones to let them know and stopped wearing watches. After years of this – working where the phone is not allowed to be switched on, your internal cavewoman clock ticks in!

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Wow, a history and poetry prompt! Thinking about this also made me remember a news story earlier this month about snowboarder Tim Blakey, who survived after falling 15ft into a crevasse. And then I glanced at the time on my laptop and realised this rabbit hole has taken an hour! Time to go and write the poem!

PROCESS NOTES:

I ended up having an hour of great fun with this prompt, producing a Found Poem which starts with a command. And today – you get an entire poem!

Reflective

Whistle to this usual day,
give mirror smoke,
keep moving.

Blast impulse wild –
find a way to stay put
in a pause.


And here are some progress shots!

What really shocked me was this book is from 1994! I was convinced I was looking at something from the 80s… I don’t remember the mid 90s being this outdated! Off to feel old! Happy Writing!

Book Launch ~ Elgar Country by Peter Sutton

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Published by Black Pear Press

Since 2016 I have been fortunate enough to have written endorsements for new collections. It is always an honour to be asked and to be trusted with the m/s, to read it before it’s published and to ultimately string words together which will encourage other’s to buy it from the blurb.

When Peter Sutton approached me in 2021 I was delighted to be one of the poets writing an endorsement for his latest collection. I have known Peter for many years and know what an expert he is on Elgar, I knew this collection would be a m/s I would enjoy. I wasn’t wrong! I read it many times.

Fast forward the publishing process and Peter is ready to launch. I am invited as one of his Guest Readers and all LIVE tickets have SOLD OUT! It will be my first live event since January and I am looking forward to seeing real people, (I still only leave home for work/medical/family visits).

Elmslie House, Malvern – 4pm Sunday 3rd April

You can join the fun online – instructions will appear here tomorrow.

The Facebook event page can be found here. Peter will be joined by guests Sara-Jane Arbury, Nina Lewis and Michael W. Thomas who will also be reading.

Elgar Country is an exploration of the landscapes, lanes, towns and cities that formed the backdrop to Elgar’s life and inspired so much of his music. Sutton’s own love for this part of the country is manifest in these poems as he urges us to ‘come to the Malvern Hills, to the counties of Hereford and Worcester, and hear the marvellous words of poets, the sounds of the earth, and the magical music of Elgar’. © Black Pear Press

Click the link below to find out more and hear recordings of Peter reading some of the poems from his latest collection.

Black Pear Press

BPP

Maureen Thorson ~ Share The Wealth

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Maureen Thorson is both humble and selfless in her annual encouragement of poetry. One thing which struck me when I discovered NaPoWriMo (2014) was how generous Maureen was with her time and Napo prompts. She wasn’t after any awards or even a mailing list, she was just giving.

So I am delighted this year to be able to give something back. I feel Maureen truly deserves it!

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National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April.

This website (napowrimo.net) is owned and operated by Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC. Inspired by NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month), she started writing a poem a day for the month of April back in 2003, posting the poems on her blog. When other people started writing poems for April, and posting them on their own blogs, Maureen linked to them. After a few years, so many people were doing NaPoWriMo that Maureen decided to launch an independent website for the project.

This site was designed by the very nice people at 2the9design, who know waaaaayyyyy more about back-end coding stuff than Maureen does. But this site isn’t meant to be “official,” or to indicate ownership or authority over the idea of writing 30 poems in April. There is no corporate sponsorship of this project. No money is intended to change hands anywhere. Maureen just likes poems and wants to encourage people to write them. The site doesn’t ask for your email address, or any other personal information. Heck, you don’t even have to give your name.

© 2011-2022 NaPoWriMo

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The first official post of 2022 shares this information, https://www.napowrimo.net/coming-soon-na-glopowrimo-2022/ but I wanted to share it over here in AWF. I know there are some people who love to read poetry over here and thought you might like this.

Maureen has a new poetry collection out, sadly I missed the Book Launch but found a reading from the new book from earlier in the year.

https://www.maureenthorson.com/share-the-wealth

Share the Wealth is my third full-length collection of poetry, published by Veliz Books on March 1, 2022.

Previously Maureen Thorson published two collections of poetry, My Resignation (Shearsman Books 2014) and Applies to Oranges (Ugly Duckling Press 2011).

Some poems from her NEW book can be found here.

And from the blurb…

Maureen Thorson’s collection Share the Wealth combines playful persona poems and satires with beautiful lyrics about life in the woods. One can’t move to Maine without channeling the ghost of James Schuyler, so it’s not surprising that his careful and sly observational style informs Thorson’s most grounded lyrics. “Bliss is relative,” says a frog in one of her poems, and I’m grateful to these poems for reminding us to look for bliss, however relative it may be.

— Joanna Fuhrman, author of To a New Era

And here you can find a reading from February 2022 – Boog City festival.

Congratulations Maureen!

Maureen Thorson is the author of Share the Wealth (Veliz Books, 2022), On Dreams (Bloof Books 2021), My Resignation (Shearsman 2014), and Applies to Oranges (Ugly Duckling Presse 2011), as well as the chapbook Mayport, which won the Poetry Society of America’s national chapbook fellowship for 2006. She lives in Falmouth, Maine.

Projects in the Poetry World which keep longevity are to be praised, heartfelt gratitude to Maureen for keeping NaPoWriMo part of our lives every April!

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World Book Day 2022

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World Book Day 2022
This year’s theme and message for all children:
You are a reader!

There are some great resources and ideas all over the internet. Schools up and down the country are joining in the fun.

These photo elements are taken from a FREE PDF available here – https://literacytrust.org.uk/about-us/world-book-day-national-literacy-trust/

There are also book lists, information on the Young Readers Programme and an online event you can sign up for (it’s during the school day) and lots more.

  • Promote reading to pupils in a fun and interactive way
  • Engage your pupils in reading activities
  • Showcase reading role models – giving pupils ‘permission’ to read
  • Give your class the chance to submit questions to the presenters and ask for shout-outs
  • Give you the chance to win great prizes for you and your class

You can find ideas on what to do at home with younger children here – https://wordsforlife.org.uk/ the site includes ideas for promoting reading & language development with fun activities for children up to the age of 12.

© Words for Life 2020

The annual £1.00 books can be found here – https://www.worldbookday.com/books/

Thanks to National Book Tokens and lots of lovely book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools and nurseries all over the country, distribute over 15 million £1/€1.50 World Book Day book tokens to children and young people (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland) every year on World Book Day.

We also have exclusive titles for Wales and Ireland. 

World Book Day book tokens will be valid from Thursday 17 February – Sunday 27 March 2022.

© World Book Day 2022


Many schools promote World Book Day with a whole day of activities, often including dressing up as a book character. This can be a challenge for families for all sorts of reasons. The sites below offer some easy solutions.

Pinterest

mumsnet – this article includes 75 easy costume ideas!

Closer – DIY costume ideas (£), but also lots of video ideas and characters you can adapt (at no cost) plus some celebrity children dressed for World Book Day.

MadeforMums Last Minute costumes – 102 easy ideas!

© Schoolrun


RELATED LINKS:

literacytrust.org.uk/programmes/young-readers-programme/

WBD 2021

‘What a Book Cover Can Do’

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One of the unenviable tasks of 2022 is to clear out my inbox! Rather like shoes and poems I’ve written, I am not sure of the exact number of emails, (I could do the maths, but the total would terrify me)! Many are circulars, reminders, tickets for past events or JUNK, which can all be swept quickly, some though are little gems, shining out to be re-read or shared.

This article appeared on LitHub back in 2020 (I told you there was a lot of clearing up to be done).

It is an extract from The Look of the Book: Jackets, Covers and Art at the Edges of Literature by Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth, © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House

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What a Book Cover Can Do

Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth Consider Information As Art

By Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Peter Mendelsund is the former art director at Alfred A. Knopf, the creative director of The Atlantic, and the author of a design monograph called Cover, as well as What We See When We Read, which has been translated into fourteen languages, and the novel Same Same. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Paris Review, and other magazines.

David J. Alworth is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He teaches and writes about modern and contemporary literature, media, art, and design. He is the author of Site Reading: Fiction, Art, Social Form and his essays have appeared in Public Books and the Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as in various scholarly journals.

© LITHUB

From: The Look of the Book: Jackets, Covers and Art at the Edges of Literature 

by Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth, © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Happy New (halfway through the 1st month) Year!

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Happy New year!

We made it to 2022, in this exhausting world where everyday we’re grateful to be alive! I hope your start to 2022 has been a quality one.

Since my health issues at the end of 2018, I haven’t really been an active creative. During my treatment I couldn’t write at all. After 6 months I stopped needing morphine, I gradually worked on editing the book which was delayed due to my medical needs. The editing process takes months and by the end of that I had little energy to invest. At this time I was still on over 20 pills a day. 


I struggled with myself, feelings of failing and frustrations of inability all through 2019. It took a further year after I was free from the stick walking and consultants to tackle this. By this point we were tackling the pandemic.


Many creatives suffered. I read an article which explained the area of the brain we use to process/ manage the emotional fallout of a pandemic is where the creativity comes from, so it was no surprise we all suddenly felt empty. I had been staring at my wall/garden in isolation for a year already so I didn’t have to tackle that feeling of having nothing to write about, but survival mode doesn’t lend itself to play and I lost any potential of artistic bliss. 


I desperately needed to escape into words and place focus away from what was happening globally and at home. Thanks to many generous poets I was able to stay creatively buoyant throughout Lockdown, despite a gauntlet of life’s challenges. And I was finally able to write about my annus horribilis

By 2021 my m/s was ready but I’ve sat on it for so long that it has become changed. Which was its destiny, but I know it needs to become a priority if it is ever to be completed. 


That’s what I am working on as well as taking on almost full time real life work by way of compensating the devastation to the bottom line over the past three years! I am grateful to have work in these times and to be able to do it. 


I was diagnosed with a chronic disease at the end of 2019 and another chronic condition in the summer of 2020, obviously the NHS was already in crisis before the pandemic, so people with other issues (1/5th of the population, I believe) are waiting for appointments connected to other conditions. The backlog is not something which can be worked through.

I was lucky to see the consultant for all allocated appointments last year. But news like this also takes some adjusting. So in addition to working offline on the manuscript, I am also giving myself time to focus on health and future. 

I am involved in projects which take place over the next two weekends and WLFF (Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe) are planning the 2022 Festival.


I am still here and I am delighted that you are too. I wish you every success and happiness in 2022. Fingers crossed! 

https://vpresspoetry.blogspot.com/p/patience.html

2020 Writing from Inlandia Book Launch

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During the 1st UK Lockdown, (which for me lasted 6 months before I was back to face to face work), I signed up to many workshops and writing classes. It was not just a way of navigating the pandemic, coping with mental health or a way to travel when grounded, it helped me find community.

The pandemic came after 15 months of ill health, in which I barely worked or lived and was, aside from hospital appointments and the occasional tea out with friends, pretty much locked down. I had been back at work for a few weeks and was trying to find my writing mojo again. I managed to edit my collection on morphine (not recommended) and through the kindness of friends was able to attend Stanza meetings and the join the Worcester Poetry Film Collective, I even made one event at the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe in 2019. But I struggled to be at the desk and it was a long journey back to creating. The realisation of the global pandemic hit and … those of us lucky to have story, have story.

Poets in Motion was a great class with US/NZ/UK participants, a real international mix and a range of lives and stories. CelenaDiana Bumpus was a joy, there is no other word to describe her. Sadly, Celena passed away in 2020, before she had chance to make many of her plans realities. She is missed dearly and I am so grateful that we were able to write a class poem in her honour, which appears in the anthology too.

The day I received my book in the post I was so excited, I knew Inlandia Institute had planned a LIVE USA launch event and I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to read, then they announced an online launch event.

I am a panelist this evening AND so are some of my much loved and missed class members. It will be a great event, it is a splendid Anthology and I am blessed to have some words on the pages.

It’s free to come and watch – 9PM GMT.

Register HERE

Join Inlandia Institute for a special online reading of selected works from 2020 Writing from Inlandia! This yearly anthology has been published since 2011 and is an Inlandia tradition, with contributors from sixteen of Inlandia’s creative writing workshops in the 2020 edition. Packed with over 300 pages of stories, poems, and essays, 2020 Writing from Inlandia explores the experience of being alive through memoir, food writing, reflections on the COVID pandemic, and more. Participants will read their work aloud in reflection of the myriad challenges – and rewards – of being human. Don’t miss it!

In memory of Candace Shields, Morris Mendoza, and CelenaDiana Bumpus.

ORDER your copy here.

The Writing from Inlandia series was created to celebrate the participants in our creative writing workshops program and to serve as a record of who we are at the present moment. May these writings pay tribute to a year unlike any other.

© 2021 Inlandia Institute

National Poetry Day 7th Oct 2021

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I love NPD, or as I like to call it – Christmas for poets!

HAPPY BELATED NATIONAL POETRY DAY!

Over my morning coffee, I took great pleasure reading social media feeds and seeing all the poems people were sharing. I was lucky enough to be busy on NPD (and working from home, which is rare these days). I had hoped to post here, especially as there have been several blank months – but like most things in 2021 it was delayed.

You will recall I dived into a year of online poetry/learning in 2020 during the 1st Lockdown, there were a multitude of reasons, including my mental health. I was back face to face work in November (after 3 months of zero income, our Furlough set for only 4 months and for me was 80% of nothing as I had been off sick for a year)! So work was a battle, navigating my way through the 10 day self isolation rules and the possibility of Covid. After 9 months I was exhausted and spent most of the summer offline and away from the desk. This term work has picked up (thank goodness) after several non-existent/fallow years!

I had decided to cut back the amount of online activity but it naturally happened when the laptop was out of reach. I also tried a LIVE event and discovered I have a huge amount of anxiety about any indoor gathering other than family and work (which makes no sense but is one of those things we have little control over). Work IS the biggest risk of all, but is one I have to take/make.

So I paced down the events… however, this was NPD… so I was back to full throttle.

My day started with a workshop. I have been fortunate enough to facilitate Poetry Workshops 2020/21 to a group of Higher Ed students. As it was NPD we invited other departments to join us on Thursday and had a very active, fun workshop. Choice was such a great theme to work with. This group is creative and they generate amazing work. Plans are in motion for publishing it soon.

I loved catching up online with everything poets were doing to mark NPD and catching up with friends and not having to wear work trousers!

Just like Christmas (NPD for me/poets) a special meal is created… for me it was my mentoring session – when I booked it I had no idea it was NPD. A very brilliant way to spend an hour!

Prose poetry is something I write infrequently (I think I have managed 3 or 4), there is only one I am proud of. I do love Jennifer Wong, both her poetry and workshops. It was a last minute spot and a gift from Pen to Print! I absolutely loved spending time with Jenny and an international group (as most are) of writers & poets and I ended up with some decent material to work with!

Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Ade Couper was on FB Live for NPD, I managed to catch the video after the Livestream. There are always multiple events happening and NPD that ramps up!

Malika’s Kitchen were celebrating NPD with a special online event featuring Malika’s Poetry Kitchen contributors to the recently published Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different anthology. The event was hosted by the Director of the MPK writers’ collective, Jill Abram, and featured poets Dean Atta, Be Manzini, Soul Patel and Joolz Sparkes. And Nine Arches /celebrated in partnership with Birmingham Literature Festival with a Planetary Poetics event featuring Gregory Leadbetter, Khairani Barokka, Caleb Parkin and Cynthia Miller.  I managed to catch all streams at leisure a little later on. Nine Arches had an enlightening Q&A and I loved Dean Atta talking age… he’s still YOUNG! Both events were a joy and I glad I managed to get to them, all be it in a different time-zone!

Hoping I wouldn’t have work the next day (I DID)! I stayed up late to attend a workshop in US for Ohio Poetry Day with the Riffe Gallery. A Creative Writing Workshop with Kari Gunter-Seymour (SHIFT). Another fantastic workshop, but after the first hour (bedtime) the brain fog started to get to me. I wrote some of the prompts down to try another day.

I don’t know how Santa manages to get to all those houses, it’s impossible to get to every poet or do all your social media posting on the day! CHOICEs had to be made… but I had a FEAST of a day. Huge gratitude to everyone involved.

June Review of the Month (Part 2)

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Read Part 1 here.

Week 3

After the Worcestershire LitFest I really needed a rest, but I couldn’t resist attending a few readings. Cafe Writers and Cheltenham Poetry Festival events started my week – I was looking for a few post-festival days off and I did manage to have a quieter – away from desk weekend followed by a WHOLE day off work. I didn’t want to miss Jill Abram or Rishi Dastidar at Cafe Writers – so even though I felt like I needed to be propped up like a scarecrow I went and had a brilliant night! A real feast of poetry.

However, I was really exhausted by the time I was home on Tuesday, after a great distance travelling for work. and could have gone to bed at 7 PM instead of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival. I didn’t know Christine Whittemore‘s work and I admire Angela France and Penelope Shuttle‘s work, so I knew it would be worth it! And it was. Felt like an age ago when I booked the ticket!

I received my copy of The Brown Envelope Book, I will be posting more about this important and necessary book edited by Alan Morrison and Kate Jay-R.

I had one of the worst medical appointments so far this year and worked the rest of the week. When I wasn’t in pain I was in online readings.

I went to a Verve reading which was brilliant – I had been looking forward to it. Sadly Annie Fan couldn’t make it but Cynthia Miller stepped in and gave us a sneak preview of her new collection Honorifics (Nine Arches), which I was looking forward to the launch of.

Verve Poetry Press presents Meryl Pugh, Anne Fan, Geraldine Clarkson with special guest Victoria Kennefick – Reading & chat.

Reading from and answering questions about their VERVE pamphlets with very special guest poet Victoria Kennefick. A short reading from each poet will be followed by a short chat.

Hosted by Verve publisher Stuart Bartholomew.

It was a great event and was the first zoom experience for on e of the poets – not that we would have known that. I managed to stay up late enough to be at the Summer Issue Launch for Paris Review.

I had a twisty day which started with a rejection (one I had been holding on for) and also an offer to facilitate more poetry workshops.

I finished the week with a special workshop provided by Ledbury Poetry Festival based on the Ghazal with Maryam Hessavi. Which was intense and wonderful – although I still have to polish my effort!

I had another poem accepted for an anthology which launches this summer, I am making a video performance to be shared on the night.

I spent an entire day asleep and one chasing my tail through to do lists. I managed to do most of a Walking Tour at the WWBPA with Andrew Rimby. It was the William Cullen Bryant Tour and we actually got to go inside the house!

Week 4:

I had an entire week of work booked in, which started well and then I got the call. The call used to mean OFSTED but nowadays it means Track & Trace or COVID. I am still waiting for all the admin to be tied up but it was a call from the agency. My mobile chose this day to freeze and stop working (later had to restore factory settings, losing all the numbers and all my photos).

Despite testing negative I completed my no-pay 10 day quarantine – losing all my potential wages. I am not only trying to keep head above water but never have an income for a few months over the summer, I try to earn/bank enough to stretch. We only have 3 weeks (more like 2 for us) left of the term so I am not going to make future pay for the summer. I just hope this is the last quarantine for me. It is proof that PPE and double vacs can protect you though. Thank goodness all the tests were negative. I missed 2 important family birthdays during these 10 days too! I may have something secured for the autumn though – which is a relief. And it meant I could attend a few workshops.

I went to a York Libraries event – Finding the Words, a reading from Rachel Bower, Hannah Hodgson and Maggie Mackay.

Rachel Bower is an award-winning writer based in Sheffield. She is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018) and a non-fiction book on literary letters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Her poems and stories have been widely published, including in Anthropocene, The London Magazine, Magma, New Welsh Reader and Stand. Rachel won The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2019/20 and the W&A Short Story Competition. She edited the Verse Matters anthology (Valley Press, 2017) with Helen Mort and she is currently editing an anthology with Simon Armitage (Faber & Faber). Her new poetry collection, These Mothers of Gods, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in July 2021.

Hannah Hodgson is a poet living with life limiting illness. Her work has been published by BBC Arts, The Poetry Society and Ambit, amongst other outlets. She is a recipient of a 2020 Northern Writers Award for Poetry. Her first poetry pamphlet ‘Dear Body’ was published by Wayleave Press in 2018; and her second, centred around life with serious illness was published by Verve Poetry Press in Feb 2021. Her first full length poetry collection ‘163 Days’ is due to be published by Seren in 2022.

Maggie Mackay is an MA Poetry graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University with work in a number of online and print journals and anthologies. Several pieces have been shortlisted, commended in competitions, or nominated for the Forward Prize, Single Poem and the Pushcart Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’, 2018 was published by Picaroon Poetry and her full collection ‘A West Coast Psalter’, Kelsay Books, is available now. In 2020 she was awarded a place in the Poetry Archive’s WordView permanent collection.

© 2021 Explore York Libraries and Archives

I know Hannah and Maggie and have admired Rachel’s poetry since I first heard her read at the start of Lockdown. So I had been counting down the days to this event! I knew the readings would be incredibly powerful – and they were.

I did a Ledbury Poetry Festival workshop with Sara-Jane Arbury.

I caught up with family members on the phone – and attended Cynthia Miller’s wonderful book launch. I was truly excited when she shared the success of this first collection in the spring.

Cynthia Miller plus guest writers Khairani Barokka and Jenna Clake celebrate the publication of Honorifics.

Cynthia Miller‘s Honorifics is an astonishing, adventurous, and innovative exploration of family, Malaysian-Chinese cultural identity, and immigration. Poetry is interwoven with the words for all the things we honour; our loved ones and our ancestors, home and homecomings. From jellyfish blooms to glitch art and distant stars, Miller’s mesmerizing approach is experimental and expansive with longing: “My skin hunger could fill a galaxy”.

Cynthia Miller is a Malaysian-American poet, festival producer and innovation consultant living in Edinburgh. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AmbitThe RialtoButcher’s DogPoetry Birmingham Literary Journalharana poetryThe Best New British and Irish Poets and Primers Volume Two. She is also co-founder of the Verve Poetry Festival.

Khairani Barokka is a writer and artist from Jakarta, based in London. Her work has been presented widely, in more than 15 countries. Among Okka’s honours, she was Modern Poetry in Translation’s Inaugural Poet-in-Residence, and is currently Associate Artist at the National Centre for Writing and Research Fellow at UAL’s Decolonising Arts Institute. Okka’s books include Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis; Vietnamese translation, AJAR Press) and Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (as co-editor; Nine Arches), Rope, and most recently Ultimatum Orangutan (Nine Arches).

Jenna Clake‘s debut collection of poetry, Fortune Cookie, won the Melita Hume Prize, received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, and was shortlisted for a Somerset Maugham Award. Her second full collection, Museum of Ice Cream, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2021.

© 2021 Nine Arches Press

I know Jenna, Romalyn and Cynthia and I am delighted they are spreading their poetry wings as fully as they are. It was unfortunate that Romalyn couldn’t make it but Jane read a tender message from her. I always enjoy discovering a poet I have not yet seen/read so it was a treat to listen to the incredible work of Khairani Barokka.

I attended Food for Thought as I do every Friday , enjoyed a Sheffield Libraries Poetry session on Saturday and a poetry group on Sunday. I had a lazy recovery day, cleaned the house, facetimed for the missing birthdays (one was my mum)! Did a workshop with Sarah L. Dixon, organised book promotion had the Post Festival Committee meeting and enjoyed a night at Worcester, 42. I finished the month with a LPF Workshop, listened in to a panel at the Tamworth Literature Festival and FINALLY sent some submissions!