Category Archives: Commission

A word from Nina…

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

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

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

Warwickshire Libraries

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

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

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

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

As Reader in Residence…

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Mighty Force – Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

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

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

Black Country Artsfoundry © 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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https://caseybailey.bigcartel.com/

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

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

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

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

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Monsters With Year 8

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Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2018 – Power

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It is that beautiful time of the year again when Cheltenham Poetry Festival reveal the programme and tickets go on sale!

 

 

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Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2018

18 – 30 April, venues throughout the town

https://cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk/

Visitors to Cheltenham Poetry Festival will have the chance to fight the power, at least with a pen – this Spring.

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The Festival, which has been described as ‘ A poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’ by the Guardian offers a jam packed programme of readings, performances, cinema, music and socially conscious workshops all inspired by a theme of ‘power’.

On offer this year is a workshop with poet Peter Raynard called Fight the Power and plus David PunterProfessor of Poetry at the University of Bristol talks about anarchy, capitalism and political poetry.

The Eighth Cheltenham Poetry Festival celebrate the power of words in a programme of exciting live literature events, challenge the abuse of power in a series of outspoken readings, empower lives with inspiring and innovative community activities and powder keg your poetry with our potent workshops.

Highlights of 2018 include BBC Radio 6 Music’s Poet in Residence Murray Lachlan Young – ‘A rock ‘n’ roll poet of our time’ (Chrissie Hynde),‘Chap hop’s leading exponent’ (The Wall Street JournalProfessor Elemental, Salford rising star JB Barrington, hip hop artist TrueMendous,  ‘the missing link between Jarvis Cocker and Roger McGough’ (Irish TimesVinny Peculiar, internationally acclaimed writer Amir Darwish, ex judo champ turned poet Owen Lowery and TS Eliot Prize winner Jacob Polley.

As ever the Festival welcomes some of the UK’s most important contemporary poets to the Festival. They include Jonathan Davidson, Martyn CrucefixSam Willets, Costa- Prize winner Jonathan Edwards, Rishi Dastidar, Pat Borthwick, Gill McEvoy, Peter Raynard, Tom Sastry, Wayne Holloway Smith,  Cora GreenhillAdam Horovitz, Jane Commane, Chrys Salt, Nina Lewis, Rachael Allen, Patrick Mackie and Ben Wilkinson to name just a few!

Also on offer are poetry film showcases from Elephants Footprint, a screening the critically acclaimed film Love Somehow – a poetic re- telling of Caitlin’s Relationship with Dylan Thomas (staring Griff Rhys Jones as the voice of Dylan), Scarestories – a multi-media dystopian vision of the western word featuring poetry from David Clarke and the chance to explore local history with Angela France’s praised poetry show The Hill. 

Read more www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk

 

‘ A poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’ – the Guardian.

‘Talks, walks, workshops and lots of lovely poetry take the streets of Cheltenham to a higher plane for this yearly celebration of all things lyrical’. METRO UK

‘One of the foremost poetry festivals in the country’. Hamish Wilson

Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2018 (18 Apr 2018 – 30 Apr 2018)

The biggest and best yet!

Adam Speaks – Chris Alton

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I feel fortunate to have been a part of Adam Speaks this year. There is something incredible about embarking on a 5 month project. Our input was minute compared to the work Chris Alton did as the Lead Artist on the project. Chris won a bid to be Croome Court’s Artist on the Adam Speaks Project back in Spring.

He had no idea what it (Art) would be. I love this part of the commission process myself, even when I take a commission with a structured brief, I have no real idea of the end result. It is an exercise in creative trust.

After the Launch of the Tree House on Saturday (25th November), I became curious about the Art side of this project. The work Chris had done. As an artist I know all too well the length and depth of the unseen elements of our work.

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In February Chris Alton was named one of the outstanding young artists to look out for in 2017.

https://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/arts/exciting-young-british-artists-to-look-out-for-in-2017-a3457561.html

In April he shared the news that he had been selected as the Artist on Adam Speaks. He started planning the workshops in May.

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His first creative session was at Kimichi School (6th June) where they designed costumes.

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June 23rd Chris runs his workshop at St Barnabas School.

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July 1st and Chris came to see Room 204 at WWM in Birmingham for our Creative Session.

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Chatting ‘Adam Style’, Neoclassicism and ‘British values’ for at

What are the values inherent in our objects? From Robert Adam fireplaces to USB sticks

In July (28th) Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton met with Chris and Hew Locke at Hew’s studio.

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In August Chris meets with the Heads of Departments NT at Croome Court to find at how the property functions, what Croome’s priorities are and what goes into the day to day running of the park and court.

Chris researches Robert Adam.

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In September Chris is in the Studio working on the project.

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 He also visits Croome Court and works on site. On the 5th September he is at Croome picking a tree. This thought never even crossed my mind that he had to select where the Tree House was going to be created.
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September the 10th Chris visits Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts (BITA) as they start the new year for the final Creative Sessions.
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They discuss what it could be. 10 days later we get the call for writing. Poems that stand as the starting point for the BITA dancework.
By October Chris has started on the production of his Tree House.
In the workshop making the pre-fab modules for with Mewies Design.
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Walls are created.
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Prefab pillars.
By November more pieces of the Tree House puzzle are created.
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Chris now realises why he promised himself he would never create art bigger than he could carry, alternative storage methods for the larger parts.
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One of the most spectacular features of the Tree House are the Neoclassical columns, they went into production in November.
Custom CNC’d columns going together in the Mewies Design workshop.
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Ply skin was added.
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10 hand routed balusters.
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Then the logistics of packing up all the pieces and building his Tree House.
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Art Jenga. Or more accurately ‘Tree House Tetris’ as Chris states.
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Mid November and it arrives on site.
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The walls go up (Nov. 15th).
November 16th the build continues.
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It is amazing how bigger that tree looks now it is inside the house!
November 21st (just 4 days until the launch) sees the last parts of the artwork being created.
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And just in time for the Launch…
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Ta Da!
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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

Poetry Reading with Added Art

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The last official event I am organising as Poet Laureate for 2017.
Submission news is coming next month and I will be back hard at event management and organising more extravaganzas in the New Year.
I know many followers of this blog are not local enough – but if you are, it would be great to see you!

Poet Laureate

Parks Cafe Hanbury Poems.jpgI have a real treat for you today, this will be the last WPL event of the year, so don’t miss it! Our Hanbury Hall Art Exhibition poems read alongside a digital showing of the artwork.

If you missed the wonderful DAN exhibition in October here’s your chance to see a selection of the art.

It is FREE and in the wonderful venue of Parks Cafe, Droitwich. 

Readers: 

Nina Lewis,

Kathryn Alderman,

Leena Batchelor,

Maggie Doyle,

Kathy Gee,

Gill Garrett,

Nigel Hutchinson,

Polly Stretton,

Serena Trowbridge

with poems from Belinda Rimmer and Penny Ayers too.

The event will finish by 8:30 PM so it is not a late night and public transport links for buses are good with a stop just opposite the cafe. There is FREE street parking right outside the cafe. 

For more details: 

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/hanbury-hall-poetry-at-parks-cafe/

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November Update

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November is nearly halfway through. The diary is full and we are fast approaching the busy home season too. 

This week events run back to back and there are some that I will sadly have to forego to make sure I keep my head above water and sleep! 

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Tonight is Licensed to Rhyme with Ash Dickinson. I am delighted that a poem which was inspired by a conversation with him earlier this year, is finally ready to perform this evening. 

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Tomorrow is the almost-conclusion* of the WPL Hanbury Hall Poetry Project. 18 poets signed up to visit Hanbury Hall over 3 weeks in October during the DAN Art Exhibition in the Long Gallery. Poets used the artworks to inspire writing.

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© Malcolm Ross 2017

Since then Polly Stretton and I went along to the closing ceremony to share our poems. Polly’s poem ‘Curves’ won a competition to find a reader for the event judged by Peter Hawkins (Chair) and mine was slipped in as the organiser and Worcestershire Poet Laureate. 

 

This Tuesday Parks Cafe will host 9 of the poets, our reading is accompanied by the artwork on screen and I am very grateful to Rosie Philpott for coordinating that side of the event. It is FREE and I hope many of the artists will be able to attend. 

Parks Cafe Hanbury Poems

 

* Some of these poems may appear in the next issue of Contour the WPL Digital Magazine (Spring Issue – February)

I am organising an exhibition of the poetry along with photos of the artwork that inspired them in 2018 at Hanbury Hall in the Long Gallery – which will be the eventual conclusion of this project.

Wednesday is a poetry outing – a few Worcestershire poets are heading over to Smokey Joes in Cheltenham for Poetry Cafe Refreshed. I haven’t made it back since I headlined in 2015, so well overdue a visit! 

smokey joes

Thursday sees the 7th Anniversary of Hit The Ode – a special event taking place in Waterstones this month. I am keeping everything crossed that I have time after work to make it there. I love this event and haven’t been able to make one since they started back after the summer. They always feature National and International Headliners.

Featuring:
From London, Shadè Joseph
Shadè Joseph is a 23 year old Writer/Musician from East London.
She has been writing/performing poetry and producing, composing and accompanying musicians singer/songwriters and poets for the past four years and worked alongside the likes of London Symphony Orchestra, Ayanna Witter -Johnson
Caleb Femi, Tolu Agbelusi, Tshaka Campbell and Buddy Wakefield. When she’s not doing all of that good stuff she’s probably somewhere laughing or dancing or eating plantain chips or giving someone a hug.

From Northampton, Roger Robinson
Roger Robinson has performed worldwide and is an experienced workshop leader and lecturer on poetry. He was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon. He received commissions from The National Trust, London Open House, The National Portrait Gallery, The V&A, INIVA and Theatre Royal Stratford East where he also was an associate artist.

He was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize and highly commended by the Forward Poetry Prize 2013. He has toured extensively with the British Council and is a co-founder of both Spoke Lab and the international writing collective Malika’s Kitchen and is an alumni of The Complete Works. His New and Selected Poems is soon to be published on Peepal Tree Press.
He released two albums with Disrupt on every reggae lovers favourite label Jahtari in 2015 and is a founding member of King Midas Sound on Ninja Tune.

From New Zealand, Penny Ashton,
Penny Ashton is New Zealand’s own global comedienne who has been making a splash on the world stage since 2002. She has performed over 600 solo shows and has sold out from Edinburgh to Adelaide to Edmonton. She has represented both New Zealand in The World Cup of Theatresports in Germany, and Australasia in a Performance Poetry Slam Tournament Tour of the UK. She has also performed poetry by invitation at The Glastonbury Festival, her solo musical Promise and Promiscuity at The Jane Austen Festival in Bath and has reported from the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas.

hit 1

On Friday Jack Crowe has organised another extravaganza – I heard so many good things about the first event of this kind (February 2017) and I would like to think by Friday I may have grown wings to fly back into the city. However, looking at the schedule as I type I am having palpitations. 

funk

This event happens at The Edge in Digbeth 7:30 -10:30 PM

If you go on the back of seeing it here – let Jack know, especially if I don’t manage to get there myself, he will be happy that I sent you to the door. 

Funkenteleky, in which four poets and four musicians wake up together.

*they combine live on-stage at The Edge, in a unique, one time only, funky, verby spoken potion which makes y’all do a dance in your minds.

*it’s Birmingham’s most irregular Poetry and Music collaboration night, and it’s gonna be well fun.

Doing this this time shall be:

FERRIS / LEE / WEIR

are an organ trio of critically acclaimed musicians: Dave Ferris on organ, Ben Lee on guitar, and Billy Weir on drums. The name of the band is their surnames, we notice. Expect Latin grooves, New Orleans shuffles, mind-boggling improvisation, and a set of their own inspired tunes to close the night. Don’t expect acid-skiffle space thrash, but equally don’t be surprised if it happens. For Funkenteleky the band will be joined by a player of brass, who will remain mysterious, silhouetted in these pixels, an untapped funk spring.
“I love this kind of grooving, funky organ trio music, and last night Ferris/Lee/Weir took it to new heights of originality, creativity, imagination, feel and chops.”
We can’t wait. https://billyweir.com/ferris-lee-weir/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6shj9zpF1I

LEON PRIESTNALL

is one of Birmingham’s best poets. His work scatters back and forth between the observational and the vulnerable, humorous and raw. Bearing his heart in lines of tongue twisting insight, Leon tells us stories of love and betrayal, and stories of innocence and bliss. The host of Howl, the city’s hippest poetry knees up, we’re thrilled that he’ll be treating us to a unique performance of his own work. A headliner at events such as Hit the Ode, Level Up, Grizzly Pear and more, he is a consummate performer who lives and breathes spoken word. He’s awesome, basically.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQvLIcujRkI

BETHANY SLINN

loves the po. She combines political commentary with small moments, using sensory imagery s k i pping with movement to depict individual and collective urban experiences. She makes the truth vivid and the vividness true. She’s done so at Verve Poetry Fest, Level UP!, Howl, Stirchley Speaks and Shanty Town and is currently focusing on building Agora Poetry, a platform for spoken word and storytelling inviting underrepresented voices into the room. Never-stop-being-curious.
Bethany Slinn- Poet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qddLIvHI008&t

TARIK ROSS-CAMERON

crafts stories of his experiences in Birmingham, mixing warm humour with authentic social observation. He has honed his talents in headline slots at Howl and Stirchley Speaks. On the 25th of October he launches his new collection ‘Do What you Can’, commissioned by Punch Records, Arts Connect and the Gallery 37 Foundation. In 2016 he was part of the Hippodrome’s B-Side Hip Hop Festival, showcasing his poetic propensity for rhythm and rhyme. He’s a Brummie of whom the city is very proud, and we can’t wait for him to light up the Funkenteleky stage.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leyl2zLAfYQ&list=PLHtPk-aPh1AaNJIX37Kv47sq5ALe0UBXn

ANDY OWEN COOK

is a writer, theatre maker and friendly human from Sheffield. He has performed and made work for and in Theatre Deli, Arts Depot, Camden People’s Theatre, Wardrobe Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, Flim Nite, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Bradford Poetry City, and elsewhere. Currently he’s touring a performance called The Church of Jim, after a successful month of performing it in one place, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. State of the Arts gave it five stars, calling it “weird, wonderful and somewhat outrageous… from terrifying and bizarre, to beautiful and hypnotic.” Andy once said ‘rimming’ in a poem on BBC Radio Sheffield. Outside of poetry, Andy is a hysterical railway signalman, and you are a glistening moon. He is a wristwatch with no strap and you are a magnifying glass, kindling a fire purely from the thoughts of winged squid scudding to the cities of humans to warn us of ourselves.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3_Nm421q7w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEuRnEJbRNI&t=2s

 

Saturday I will spend the morning with my Spark Young Writers Group (another reason I may not make it to Funkenteleky). In the afternoon there is a Room 204 workshop that I hope to attend. 

And next week looks just as full! 

Happening this month:

Verve Poetry Festival V.I.P Launch, a WPL meeting for a new community project, WPL radio interview BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding, Burning Eye Books Event, A Night of Music and Poetry at the Jinney Ring, the conclusion of the Croome Court Adam Speaks Performance and 42.

My WMRN role at Rugby Library is also active with the public now. I shall be facilitating my first workshop at the end of the month. 

wmrn review writing workshop

In addition to all this I am trying to secure work and focus on my own writing and submissions after submerging myself in the Poet Laureate role for the past 5 months. 

There are patches of the blog which need updating. I will get to them as soon as I can. I am planning some time out from the circuit in December (fortunately it winds down a little anyway).

RELATED LINKS:

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/hanbury-hall-poetry-at-parks-cafe/

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/art-down-words-up/

 

Elgar Poetry Event

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poster elgar

In September Peter Sutton asked me to be a poet at his Elgar Poetry Event and I jumped at the chance. He then invited Lesley Ingram and Michael W. Thomas to complete the line up for the evening. 

lesley-ingram cinnamon press © Cinnamon Press

Lesley Ingram’s first poetry collection Scumbled was printed in 2015 and was highly commended in the Fledgling prize for first collections for poets over 40. She won first prize in the Ludlow Poetry Competition 2013 and has been published in print and on line for the last seven years. She has a Masters in Poetry and Poetics from Gloucestershire University, with a particular interest in ‘Ekphrasis as Translation’. She has been involved in the Ludlow Arts trail through an ekphrastic collaboration with photographer Suzanne Boak. Her background is in IT Business Systems Analysis, and she has lived and worked as an Analyst and Consultant in many places from Doncaster to York via Bristol, Bracknell, Long Island, London, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Scunthorpe – before moving to the Charente-Maritime in France to teach English and run a gite for 12 years. She is now settled in Ledbury and working on her second collection. She runs the Herefordshire Poetry Society Stanza and has initiated poetry projects on the Alleys and Yards of Ledbury, and on John Masefield. She is involved with the Ledbury Poetry Festival as a volunteer manager and steward. Her interests are poetry, archaeology, ‘whodunnits’ and language, and she loves flat lands and proper Pontefract liquorice.

michael-thomas oversteps books

© Oversteps Books

Michael W. Thomas’s novels include The Mercury Annual and Pilgrims at the White Horizon. His poetry collections include Port Winston Mulberry (Littlejohn and Bray, 2009), Batman’s Hill, South Staffs (Flipped Eye, 2013), The Girl From Midfoxfields (Black Pear, 2014) and Come to Pass (Oversteps, 2015). He has recorded two CDs of poetry and music, Seventeen Poems and a Bit of A Song and Angels in the Telegraph Room. His work has appeared in such magazines as The Antioch Review, Critical Survey, The Explicator, Irish Studies Review, The London Magazine, Magazine Six (US), Pennine Platform and Stand Magazine; and he reviews regularly for the Times Literary Supplement. In 2015, his novella, ‘Esp’, was shortlisted for the UK Novella Award. He is currently working on Nowherian, the memoir of a Grenadian traveller. His latest poetry collection, Early and Late, is appearing in 2018, along with a collection of short stories.
Twitter: @thomasmichaelw
Blog: ‘The Swan Village Reporter’, swansreport.blogspot.co.uk/ 

 

peter sutton 2 © Peter Sutton

Peter Sutton spent fifteen years working in adult education before becoming Head of Publications at the Unesco Institute for Education in Hamburg for seven years, In 1994 he returned to the UK and became a freelance translator and editor for cultural institutions, lawyers and international organisations. He also trained as a professional actor and started writing plays. Elgar and Alice was first produced in 2007 and has been revived twice since, and The Prebumptious Mr Punch was premiered in 2013. His modern verse translation of William Langland’s great medieval poem Piers Plowman was published by McFarland of North Carolina in 2014, and he has given readings from the work at conferences and festivals including Ilkley, Ledbury, South Downs, Stamford and Worcester. His own poetry has begun to appear in journals, and he is a regular reader at local poetry events. He has written textbooks and articles on languages and education, Elgar and Langland, and he has been a visiting lecturer on translation, English language and education at universities in Armenia, Germany, Russia and the UK.
Website: www.petersutton.eu

bio paul stringer

© Paul Stringer

Nina Lewis is a poet from Worcestershire. She returned to the world of poetry in 2013 after a 15 year break. She founded INKSPILL an annual online writing retreat with national and international guests. Her poetry is published in a range of anthologies including Paper Swans Press, Fair Acre Press, Three Drops From a Cauldron, Paragram and Shabda Press, in magazines including Abridged, Under the Radar and Here Comes Everyone and online. Nina’s poems appeared on the Poetry Trail at Wenlock Poetry Festival and BIG Lit Festival, and 21 Haiku were used in an Art Installation at the MAC. She is a headline poet and in 2014 was commissioned to perform at Birmingham Literature Festival. Since 2015, Nina has worked as a Lead Writer for Sparks Young Writers Group, Worcester for WWM. Her début pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016. This year Nina was accepted onto the Room 204 Writer Development programme run by Writing West Midlands and was appointed Worcestershire Poet Laureate. Nina is also a Reader in Residence at Rugby Library for West Midlands Readers’ Network.

Blogs: https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NinaWriter/

@Neens07

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/

 

In October we all worked on our sets and Peter masterfully pulled the entire script together. I thoroughly enjoyed researching Elgar and relating my memories of him in poetry. I wrote 14 new poems for this commission and the remaining poems were recently written for the Unremembered Collection published by Black Pear Press and produced by Polly Stretton for The Living Memory Project.

Peter added poems from Elgar’s contemporaries and tied the performance together with facts and insights. 

The event was held to raise funds for the Elgar Festival 2018 and took place at The Elgar School of Music in Worcester. 

geograph-4859707-by-Philip-Halling

It was an evening of incredibly powerful poetry. A delight to hear the work of others and to see a good turn out for the well organised event. It was a privilege to be part of such a project and great to work with Peter. 

RELATED LINKS:

http://petersutton.eu/author.html

Carving Time Not Pumpkins

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

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

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

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

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

NAT TRUST

© Hanbury Hall

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

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

Hanbury Hall Poets

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

Poetry Evening Poster 3 v3

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

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

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

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Copy of Event Flyer (1)

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

hat-2749176_1920

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

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

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

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