Category Archives: Critique

WLF – Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe 2015 – A Wrap!

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WLF&F logo concepts

Worcester Lit Fest 2015 has been an awesome 10 day festival! I loved it even more than last year, as last year was my first WLF I was boundless in energy and enthusiasm – so to say I have enjoyed this year even more is a BIG thing!

The programme had a great combination of events, some of which I was lucky enough to attend, others I participated in and a few I missed completely due to work and the fact that I live away from the city and don’t have unlimited funds!

 

DAY 1

As you know, as I was a finalist, the launch night was also a night of awards and celebration, for young writers, students of the university, Flash Fiction Competitors and the six poets brave enough to compete for the Poet Laureate position 2015/16.

This link takes you to my post:

WLF 2015 The Launch & Poet Laureate Final

WLF PL

The Launch Of The Festival – Poet Laureate Competition
And Young Writers’ Awards
The Guildhall, High Street, Worcester WR1 2EY
Friday 12 June – 18:30 for a 19:00 start
Join us for the launch of the Festival and watch 6 poets go head to head as
they compete for the title of Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015.
Judges include: current Worcestershire Poet Laureate Fergus McGonigal,
Poet Laureate Emeritus Maggie Doyle, County Arts Officer Steve Wilson,
Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke and the Secretary of LitFest.
To open the event, we will present the prizes for the Young Writer
competition and the winners of the Flash Fiction competition will be
announced.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 2

There was lots of activity on Day 2, most of which I missed as I was working for Writing West Midlands.

A wonderful workshop by Alison May – who has a new book out – details COMING SOON. We weren’t in the same library or I would have attempted to pop in.

Writing Workshop With Alison May
From Idea To Draft–
–Developing Character And Plot To Make Your Novel Work
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Saturday 13 June 13:45-15:45

Award-winning writer, Alison May, is a Worcester-based novelist and short
story writer. She ran a popular series of workshops for LitFest last year and returns this year for a workshop on Using Character and Plot to develop
your novel. The workshop is aimed at anyone who is working on a novel, or
has a strong idea for a novel they would like to write.
Alison’s debut novel, ‘Sweet Nothing’ was published by Choc Lit in
November 2013, followed by her first novella, ‘Holly’s Christmas Kiss’, in
December 2013 and a second novella ‘Cora’s Christmas Kiss’ in 2014. Her
short stories have appeared in Romantic Novelists’ Association, Harlequin,
Choc Lit and Black Pear Press anthologies, and she is former winner of the
RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. Her fourth book, ‘Midsummer Dreams’,
was released this spring.  www.alison-may.co.uk

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I was fortunate enough to attend the evening event at Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum. Here is the link to my blogpost Poetry Wrap 6 scroll to the end of the wrap to find out about my night at the museum.BP Royal Worc

‘A Night At The Museum’
Ben Parker & Todd Swift – Poetry Book Launch
The Museum of Royal Worcester, Severn Street, Worcester WR1 2ND
Saturday 13 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
 Ben Parker From Porcelein
This book launch marks the conclusion of Ben Parker’s tenure as poet-in
residence at The Museum of Royal Worcester. Ben Parker will be reading
from a collection of poems produced during his residency, which will be
available for purchase for the first time. This event also marks the beginning
of Todd Swift’s residency at The Museum, and Todd will be reading from
his highly acclaimed poetry.
Ben’s poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White
Review, Under the Radar and Oxford Poetry, as well as Lung Jazz: Young
British Poets for Oxfam. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, was
published by tall-lighthouse in October 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013
Michael Marks Award.

Todd is a British-Canadian poet, publisher, critic and editor. He is the editor
of numerous anthologies; and has published eight full poetry collections. His
poems have appeared widely, including in Poetry Review, and Poetry
(Chicago). In 2004 Todd was the Oxfam Poet-in-residence. He blogs at
Eyewear and runs the indie press Eyewear Publishing. Todd’s PhD in Creative
and Critical Writing is from The University of East Anglia (UEA). He was
born in Montreal, Quebec.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 3

Our Illustrious Crime Panel
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Sunday 14 June 18:00-20:00

Cally Taylor
“I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes…” (‘The Lie’ C.L. Taylor)
Cally Taylor loves a dark, twisted tale. She lives in Bristol with her partner
and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at
the University of Northumbria then moved to London to work in medical
publishing.

Cally worked as a graphic designer, web developer and
instructional designer over the course of 13 years and now writes full time.
Her first psychological thriller ‘The Accident’ has sold over 150,000 copies
in the UK alone and was one of the top 10 debut bestsellers of 2014
according to The Bookseller. She credits Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the
Unexpected’ for her love of dark tales.
“Claustrophobic, tense and thrilling, a thrill-ride of a novel that keeps
you guessing.”
Elizabeth Haynes
“An enjoyable rollercoaster of a suspense novel with multiple twists.”

Daily  Mail
“This dark and creepy book is a must read.”
The Sun
Sarah Hilary
Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her
debut novel, ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ was the Observer’s Book of the Month
(“superbly disturbing”), a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, and has
been published worldwide. ‘No Other Darkness’, the second in the Marnie
Rome series, is out in 2015. The series is being developed for television by
the BBC.
“Impressive”
Times

“Stunning”
Mark Billingham

“An extraordinarily good debut”
Observer

Alex Marwood
Alex Marwood is the pseudonym of Serena Mackesy, a journalist who has
worked extensively across the British press. Her first book, ‘The Wicked
Girls’, was a word-of-mouth sensation, won the prestigious Edgar Award
for Best Paperback Original in 2014, and was nominated for an
International Thriller Writers Award in 2013. Alex lives in south London.

“A modern-day ‘Rebecca’, mixed with a suspense-filled Gothic novel and
served up with generous helping of wit – a real treat.”
Associated Press
“Fresh, sparky, funny and sadly poignant.”
The Big Issue

“Brilliantly observed … a gripping read.”
The Times

Clare Mackintosh
Clare Mackintosh is an author, feature writer and columnist. She has
written for The Guardian, Sainsbury’s Magazine, and many other
national publications, and is a columnist for Cotswold Life and Writing
Magazine.

Clare spent 12 years in the police, including time on CID, in custody and as a public order commander. Her debut novel ‘I Let You Go’ is a tense, emotionally compelling psychological thriller perfect for readers of ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’.
“A terrific, compelling read with an astonishing twist that floored me. I
loved it and did not want it to end” ‘
Peter James
“A hugely assured and gripping debut and a twist that made me green
with envy”
Mark Billingham
“Absorbing, authentic and deeply unsettling: a stellar achievement, and
so deliciously clever”
Elizabeth Haynes
Following the Romantic Novelists’ Panel last year, this year we go into a
world of darkness and psychological chills and thrills from four crime
writers who look like butter wouldn’t melt…

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

This event was well attended and received lots of rave reviews. It is one I would have liked to attend and a real bargain for a whole panel of experts. Shame I am human and had to pace myself!

Day 4

‘Sport and Spice’
Chris & Teresa Green    Anita Sharma-James
Bindles upper room, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Monday 15 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
Get sporty and spice up your life! Award-winning author and broadcaster
Chris Green accompanies his wife and business partner Teresa – one of the
first women sports editors in the UK. Teresa’s roles have included sports
editor at the Bromsgrove Advertiser, assistant editor at the Kidderminster
Shuttle and sports reporter/sub editor at the Sunday Mercury. Chris is the
author of five highly acclaimed sports books, including ‘Every Boy’s Dream
– England’s Football Future on the Line’, which was nominated for the
2010 British Sports Book of the Year.
Anita will give a live Indian cookery demonstration. Our fabulous local
expert will invite you to enjoy a mouth-watering Indian finger buffet made
to her authentic recipes from her wonderful cookery book ‘A Life of Spice:
Raksha’s Story’.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I saw Anita Sharma-James at an event in my hometown a few years ago and only have interest in tennis and world cup football! This was a SELL OUT event though, they had to turn people away.

Meanwhile I was over the hills at another SELL OUT event with John Hegley and the Confab Cabaret team, who provided the FRINGE part of the Festival (Geographically) – definitely not with the billing or event – it was one of my festival highlights. CONFAB j2 Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley at Confab Cabaret – WLF & Fringe

Festival Fringe Events with ‘ConFab Cabaret’
John Hegley
John Hegley – ConFab Cabaret Special
Monday 15th June 20.00-22.30 (Doors Open 19.30)
Tickets £10 online (address below) or £12 on the door
A fun packed variety night with lashings of Spoken Word.
John Hegley will be headlining an extra-special ConFab
Cabaret. John performed on the streets of London in the early eighties,
fronting the Popticians, with whom he also recorded two sessions for John
Peel, and has since been a frequent performer of his words, sung and
spoken, on both local and national radio and television.
Tip top support will be provided by luscious lovely local Malvern muses –
Adrian Mealing, Amy Rainbow, Catherine Crosswell, Clive Dee, Myfanwy
Fox and Sue Thompson. With a fabulous audience poem and
added merriment from international circus performer Steve Kaos!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 5

John Hegley did a workshop – which I missed because I was working and also because I am seeing him again in Ludlow and have booked the workshop there as it is on the same day as the event.

It would have been great fun – what I heard was all fabulous but I had asked people NOT TO TELL ME ANYTHING about it as he may repeat the same ideas in Ludlow.

I had Tuesday off from the festival, I was working and trying to write some new material and work on my editing too.

CONFAB J Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley – Workshop
Tuesday 16th June 10:00-12:00 (Doors Open 09:45)
Tickets £12.50 in advance online (address below)
After a night of ConFab Cabaret jollity, John will be up bright and early
delivering a 2 hour workshop.
This will be an opportunity to work closely with Mr Hegley using drawing,
poetry and gesture. John has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces,
two CD’s and one mug. An Edinburgh Festival regular, he is noted for his
exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and
the misery of human existence.
Places are limited. Please book now to avoid disappointment.
Both John Hegley events to be held at: The Harcourt Room, The Mount
Pleasant Hotel, Belle Vue Terrace, Great Malvern WR14 4PZ

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

In the evening – Worcester Writers’ Circle took over with a Rubber Swordplay Event – where Mogs was awarded the Rubber Sword for his performance.

Worcester Writers’ Circle And Friends Present: ‘Rubber Swordplay’
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Tuesday 16 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
The gifted and humble members of Worcester Writers’ Circle and Friends
present a selection of their humorous stories and poems in an evening that
is sure to leave your sides aching. Mein host, Tony Judge, has once more
successfully brought together performers who are out to give you a laugh.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Another event happening Tuesday evening was at The Commandery.

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Anita Seymour – Civil War Novelist
Anita Seymour
Tuesday 16 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
Anita’s first novels are ‘The Woulfes of Loxsbeare’, a 17th Century historical
family saga, the first two titles of which are, ‘The Rebel’s Daughter’ and ‘The
Goldsmith’s Wife’. Followed by ‘Royalist Rebel’, a biographical novel based
on the early life of Elizabeth Murray, Countess Dysart. Her latest release due in June 2015 is Murder On The Minneapolis, a Cozy Mystery set on an
Atlantic Steamship in 1900.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 6

I was back in it, to see Adam Millard at 42 WLF Special – read all about it here

WLF 42 Special with Adam Millard

WLF 42 me1WLF 42 Adam

WLF © 2015

42 Worcester Festival Special
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Wednesday 17 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
42 Worcester’s Festival Special this year sees the welcome return of Adam
Millard. A writer, mainly fantasy and horror, Adam’s whole life consists of
movies, books, and writing. He’s 31 and lives with his beautiful wife Zoe,
and son, Phoenix Justice. Adam has over fifty tattoos and smells of rich
Mahogany.
Who can resist?

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Wednesday night also saw another event at The Commandery.

‘The Crimson Ribbon’
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
‘The Crimson Ribbon’ is a tale set during the English Civil War, exploring
the developing roles of women in an era of turmoil and change. The novel
deals with superstitious fear, injustice and persecution. Her central character,
Ruth Flowers, is torn between her desire for liberty and the need for utter
secrecy, for if people find out about the events of her past she is in mortal
danger.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 7 – One week in!

What better way to mark it than a performance at SpeakEasy.

Read all about it here WLF – SpeakEasy with SPOZ & Brenda-Read Brown

SpeakEasy Festival Special
Thursday 18 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start at The Old Rectifying House,
North Parade, Worcester WR1 3NN
Here’s your chance to read your short stories, poems, prose, try out your
performance poetry or music that tells a story. This evening is for you!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

WLF Brenda2 WLF © 2015

There were other events again at The Commandery

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Chris Bryant MP – The Biography of Parliament

Following his election as Rhondda’s MP in June 2001 Chris Bryant has
served on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the House of
Commons, as well as the Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons on
Reform of the House of Lords. From November 2002 to May 2007 he was
Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe. He is an Associate of the
National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and a member of the Coop Party,
Amnesty International, Amicus and the Fabians. Chris speaks fluent Spanish
and good French, lives in Porth in the Rhondda Fach, and famously
corresponded with James Blunt. His book ‘Parliament: The Biography
(Volume 1 – Ancestral Voices)’ was published in December 2014.
Thursday 18 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 8

On Friday I took a day off from work and WLF to go to a workshop with Candy Royalle in Birmingham, which was magic! Meanwhile back in WLF the events continued.
ThreezAcrowd
Bindles, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Friday 19 June 14:00-16:00
Jan and Campbell Perry and Mike Thomas’s band will entertain in the upper
room at Bindles…don’t miss it, or you won’t be there!!

WLF Programme © 2015

Another exciting event on offer, that received lots of positive feedback was this talk and Q& A

Covert Operations! Cameron Addicott
Friday 19 June 19:30 at St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s,
Worcester WR2 5AX

An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott
An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott is a former undercover officer with H.M. Customs and
the Serious Organised Crime Agency. In 2008 he left SOCA to travel the
world and write the first part of his memoirs. The Interceptor was published
by Penguin in July 2010 and went straight to number 1 in the Amazon True
Crime Bestseller list. The BBC purchased the rights to the book and has
been turned into a BBC1 crime drama series. Directed by BAFTA award
winning director Farren Blackburn. Starring OT Fagbenle, Robert Lonsdale,
Charlie de Melo and Anna Skellern star, with Trevor Eve playing the leading
‘Villain’. It is due to be broadcast on BBC1 in April 2015.
Cameron’s media work includes appearing as technical expert on Chris
Atkins’ C4 Dispatches documentary about the sale of personal data and
playing the ‘Spymaster’ who taught Jared Murillo on Strictly Come Dancing’s
‘It Takes Two’. His radio work includes Radio 4’s Midweek with Libby
Purves and Five Live with Richard Bacon. In addition Cameron has advised
on numerous other TV docs and has been interviewed on many local and
European Radio shows.
Fighting on the frontline of the war against crime, ‘Cammo’  was one of the
very few hard-boiled and highly-experienced surveillance operatives to get
called up to the secretive and elite Alpha Projects unit – a group of
dedicated undercover Customs officers who hunted the UK’s most
dangerous criminals by extraordinary means – starting with the interception
and decoding of their phone calls.
This talk will give an entertaining and informative insight into working
against organised crime. Topics covered include criminal motivation,
methods of intelligence gathering, cocaine production, plus smuggling and
money-laundering.
The talk will be followed by a lively Q&A session and a book signing.

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 9

Was my final day in the WLF and one I had been looking forward to – nothing to do with Jonny Fluffypunk! Oh, no! WLF – Jonny Fluffypunk & Offa Press Poets

Offa’s Poets And Jonny Fluffypunk
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Saturday 20 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start

‘Thought-Apples’ is a collection of 25 poems by Staffordshire poet Bert
Flitcroft. They are philosophical, occasionally piquant, always accessible and
pleasing to the ear. Bert was born in 1946 and grew up in Lancashire.
Nowadays he lives near Lichfield, a retired English teacher.
David Bingham’s debut collection from Offa’s Press, ‘The Chatter of
Crows’, includes impressive Japanese-influenced haibun and haiku, which
amuse and intrigue in equal measure. David lives in Ironbridge, Telford, is a
retired Humanities teacher and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from
Birmingham University. He’s currently editor of Blithe Spirit magazine.
‘Good on the page and good on stage’ are Offa’s Poets’ watchwords.
Jonny Fluffypunk
And…the unforgettable ‘economic refugee’ from the Home Counties
returns to LitFest. Stand-up poet, sit-up storyteller and give-up musician

Jonny Fluffypunk has been dragging his art around the poetry, comedy and
alternative cabaret circuits for over 10 years. A multiple slam champion who
hates competition in the arts and an outspoken voice for anarchy, peace and
bicycles, Jonny’s a favourite with LitFest audiences. His ‘Sustainable
Nihilists’ Handbook’ is published by Burning Eye, and he is currently
touring his no-fi stand-up spoken word show ‘Man Up, Jonny Fluffypunk –
One Man’s Struggle with Late-Onset Responsibility’ to rousing acclaim.
An evening not to be missed!

WLF Programme © 2015

WLF jonny WLF © 2015

My final event was to celebrate Summer Solstice/ Midsummer’s Eve – with poets, bugs and torchlight! WLF – Summer Solstice Walk

LitFest Solstice Walk – a fabulous freebie
Starting around 10:30pm Saturday 20 June
Join us for a spookily fun walk around Worcester’s famous waterside for the
Summer Solstice – this year we’re keeping it local – the walk will be along
the banks of the River Severn. Starting outside Cripplegate Park gates on the
St John’s side of Worcester Bridge at 10:30(ish) Saturday 20 June, following
the Jonny Fluffypunk / Offa’s Poet gig. We’ll bear health and safety in mind
and ask everyone to bring a torch and wear stout shoes / boots and warm
clothing.
The route will be along the riverside to Diglis Lock and encompass the
Diglis basin marina area. There will be poetry and prose performances along
the route to entertain you.
Start time 10.30pm – finish anticipated just after midnight.

WLF Programme © 2015

This was a fabulous, magical event, unique.

Day 10

The end of the Festival – marked with the traditional (now in it’s 5th year) Double Whammy Slammy

LitFest ‘Double Whammy Slammy’! and end of fest party
PLUS The BIG FAT RAFFLE Draw!
Sunday 21 June
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Flash Fiction Slam: 18:00-18:30
Poetry Slam: 19:00-21:30     
Come, watch and vote for flash fiction aficionados who will perform their
short, short stories. Last year’s winner Rod Griffiths may be competing
again! You could be the second Worcestershire Flash Fiction Slam
Champion. To take part in the flash fiction slam write your flash fiction (a
short, short story, up to 300 words) and turn up on the night to read it!
And…the grand finale! Come, watch and vote for competing poets in the
final event of the 2015 Worcestershire Literary Festival in the legendary
poetry slam championship.  Participants will vie for the chance to become
the fifth Worcestershire Poetry Slam Champion. Previous champions:
Fergus McGonigal, James Dolton, Alison Absolute and, last year Brenda
Read-Brown.

WLF Programme © 2015

The Poetry Slam winner this year is Peter Wyton, who will perform at next year’s Worcester Lit Fest SpeakEasy as a headliner, Math Jones came 2nd (for the 3rd year) and congratulations to Suz Winspear (runner up Poet Laureate) and 3rd in the Poetry Slam and Leena Bachelor who was trying out slamming for the first time!

Andrew Owens won the Flash Fiction Slam. Well done to everyone who was brave enough to take part and for those strong performers who did BOTH slams.

WLF Heather WPL WLF © 2015

Last but not least congratulations to the small and mighty WLF team! Superb festival WLF 2015 – thank you!

Two Events, One Meeting and The Shuttle – Review of a Week in Poetryland

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The past week has certainly been a busy one, I need to find more time for writing (tomorrow I have ONE glorious day off) AND if the weather (snow) is anything to go by, I will need it! I am hoping to catch up on writing as well as sleep.

Last Thursday was the first SpeakEasy of 2015, I was asked to perform and delighted to go (missed a few months at end of 2014) and love this event. Always warm, always wonderful, organised by Worcester Litfest, hosted by Fergus McGonigal and featuring Maggie Doyle. Both Poet Laureates work hard for WLF in organising this monthly night of spoken word, poetry and fun.WLF&F logo concepts

“Worcester SpeakEasy” is a monthly event of poetry and prose from the page and the stage (and a little music now and then), which takes place on the second Thursday of each month. The event promotes, showcases and encourages writers from the whole of Worcestershire and further afield; there is an invited headline poet each month.

The event is brought to you by your very own Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, via Poet Laureate Emeritus Maggie Doyle and the Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2014-15 Fergus McGonigal, SpeakEasy’s host and MC. –

© 2015 Events Page

This month we had a change of venue and it was a small and intimate event, packed full and over-brimming with talent and entertaining and thought provoking performances. Open mic-ers joined in with booked acts and we had not one but TWO headline acts.

Peter Sutton – Poet – who I first came across during Worcester LitFest last summer, stunned us with his word weaving and incredibly intricate poetry and later on at the end of the night Kate Wragg treated us to a magic set, just her, her guitar and some handmade teddy bears! We all wait with baited breath for Kidderminster – The Musical.

speakeasy

Do you remember (perhaps as a child) feeling really excited the day/night before you went away on holiday? That’s how I feel when there are back to back poetry events (which will not happen as often in 2015 as I have no plans to dominate the circuit with another 100+ gigs), I left SpeakEasy, knowing that the very next evening I would see many poets again for our monthly Stanza meetings.

stanza scrabble I have promised myself that the next Stanza meeting I will take a poem that is more than a few hours old! I always take something in need of tweaking or helping, as that is the whole point. The more you hone in on editing, the less stringy pieces become and so sometimes writing something completely new seems the only option. This feels like turning up to a party with a brewing kit instead of an armful of drinks…

I (as always) enjoyed our meeting and it was lovely to see everyone after the New Year break. There are lots of exciting things happening at the moment for all of us in our poetry bubble, one opportunity is resulting in a poet’s day out later this month, unfortunately I shall not be with them to share the luncheon and laughter, only in spirit. (My own fault for taking a fortnight offline over Christmas!)

mm

The next event to take place happened just this evening – a 3rd Birthday party/Anniversary for Mouth and Music and Heather Wastie and Sarah Tamar kicked off in true hardworking, inspirational style with an event called ‘Spark Off’!

I have written an entire post about this evening – find it HERE https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/mouth-music-3rd-birthday-spark-off-special/

Heather sends press releases to the local paper to promote what’s on in the local area I was flattered by the coverage (it seemed only fair after this to let Peter’s team win)!

kiddi shuttle

Photo credit © 2014 PhotoGiraffe

 It has been an incredible second week back on the circuit and I still have lots more to look forward to this month! To make tonight even more magical (despite not winning), we walked out to falling snow. It made the journey home for everyone slightly hazardous but SPARKED my childlike glee ignition and I happily danced out of BHG venue and twirled in the snow as I ran for the car and tried to zip my poetry collection up dry!

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

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Guest Writer ticket 2014

Charlie Jordan – charlie jordan

Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)

 

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

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

notepad-pencil

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

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

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

© Sarah Bryson 2014

© Sarah Bryson 2014

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

BL RH jACQUIKathy MaggieQC Matt Windle Gary Longden

Angela francebohdan-piasecki Hollie

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

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

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

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

 

On Editing

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

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

So Good luck, go write and enjoy.

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

 

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Mslexia Survey & Writing Tips

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Found this in amongst my emails, thought the questions might be of interest to you even if you decided against doing the survey.

I would recommend you do this, often:

When you read something that excites you, analyse why it works so well, include these strengths in your own writing. When you read something that you believe is below par (and yet it has been published) analyse the weaknesses and avoid them in your own writing.

IF YOU FEEL YOU NEED HELP/SUPPORT/ENCOURAGEMENT be sure to sign up for the FREE Writing Retreat (final weekend of October) ‘INKSPILL’ on this very blog! Look out for tasters and teasers coming soon! Inkspill tinyinkspill pink

And now the survey…

How does your reading affect your writing?

The latest Mslexia Survey

Hello, it’s me again…

With another wee survey to distract you from your writing for a few minutes. (Though people have told us that our questions are actually quite helpful in clarifying their thoughts about their creative process and their writing lives).

Our Guest Editor Bernardine Evaristo wanted us to investigate how what we read feeds into our writing. We thought that sounded interesting too.

There are ten multiple choice questions, so it should only take ten minutes to complete. The survey closes at midnight on Saturday 16 August.

As ever, your responses are anonymous and it’s impossible to match them with your contact details. If you’d like to respond more personally, or at greater length, or contribute to the Letters pages in the magazine, please email your comments directly to editor@mslexia.co.uk. (If you do respond in this way, please let me know if you’d prefer your contribution to remain anonymous.)

The link to the survey is below.

Very many thanks.


Debbie T
Editorial Director, Mslexia

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Weather, birdsong, exposing yourself: Jo Bell on the 52 project’s runaway success | Write Out Loud

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Weather, birdsong, exposing yourself: Jo Bell on the 52 project’s runaway success | Write Out Loud.

I have to share this great article by Jo Bell on Write Out Loud because 52 has been a worthy project to be involved in this year and I have created poetry beyond boundaries. The best thing about the community is the level of critique and the fact that professionals and novices meet alongside each other and I think, half a year in, due to the constant reminders from Jo, people have FINALLY stopped apologising for their poetry!

The Emotional Spectrum of Writing

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The Emotional Spectrum of Writing: Highs and Lows

People often comment about my energy, how I am able to attend and perform at so many events a month, how I write often, they see the shine, the sparkle, the bits you take out to share.

This blog is a writing blog, it is truth, it is highs and lows, rejection and success. Recently I have hit the kind of low with mental mirages, the times when the gremlins get in and you start to believe you are no good. Confidence sky dives and you begin to question whether anything you are doing has any value or worth.

I am not posting this to gain sympathy or to accept kindly a barrage of it will get better messages, feel free to respond, my intention is just this –

to SHARE THE TRUTH.

Part of the writing journey is to accept these lows and ride the waves through them, back into days when you are your own best friend and not your own worst enemy, when you believe in your full potential and recognise your talent and gifts. You will find higher ground again – so don’t give up.

Take a break but don’t give up.

journey This is a photo of traffic from our bank holiday weekend in Somerset. We did get there, it took 5 hours, much longer than it should have, we got there – because we just kept going.

Just keep going.

grayson_perry_vanity_spread1 This is a photograph of the Grayson Perry book I bought earlier this year, his tapestries took a long time to complete – they are incredible works of art for the content but also the act of creating the content.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

I had this quote on a tin as a child and I never really understood what it meant. I do now. It took many authors we know 15 or more attempts before successful publishing deals. The best tool is persistence, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Allow yourself time to feel down, then get back up and carry on. Keep doing what you do best and learn from it. Acknowledge the possibility that improvement can be made, if not send it elsewhere, you need to find a fitting home for your work. If it is rejected more than three times then it may be an idea to submit some different work.

Plan it – Map it – See it – Be it 

Make a new plan.

What will you do next?

Work out your writing schedule.

Do it!

Enjoy the results and if they weren’t the right results and you can’t enjoy it – repeat the above list, until you can!

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

MONDAY! Monday! On Writing and Time Management.

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Monday rolls around all too quickly, HALLOWEEN 2011 081 you know I made the assumption that connecting back into a much missed creative life would take away the Sunday Slump of the rat race and the Manic out of Monday… how wrong I was. A lot of the internal struggle is created by the fact that the writing isn’t paying (yet) and so to keep my house, car, life (like many writers) I still have an evolving career/ day job.

If the tax man is reading this – YOU OWE ME MONEY – lots £100’s on a tax rebate….. would be helpful to receive that soon – believe me I doubt they read the blog (big brother paranoia) but when I tried to contact them through the website and calling I just got an automated message telling me if I was owed money they would know and would be dealing with it — then it automatically HUNG UP! Now this may be true but I tend to be a little unlucky with bureaucratic red tape and things that may take a few months usually roll on for years if my names and codes are attached to it! imagesCAEEZNXM

Anyway back to the post. I have had a productive morning, waking early on my writing day, doing some laundry (despite the rain which is supposedly clearing by dinner time!), starting my diet and exercise regime ready to not be uncomfortable in my skin at my brother’s wedding this Autumn and in the hope I fit back into some of my dresses this summer. By the time I logged on it was 10:30, I felt guilty and then I THREW AWAY that negative feeling, I could have slept in until 10! alarm-clock

So I made a start (as I always do) at the beginning of a writing day, by making a list. A set of goals, jobs to do, things to research, write, read.

paper-notesI am well disciplined and stay off social media until there is a break point or after the list has been completed is better. Breaks tend to elongate without you realising once you are trapped in the social media bubble. The way I see it is I wouldn’t have access if I was at work. I am at work (writing) – I have no access. My brain is so easy to kid!

Sometimes (depending what is on the list) time gets rolling fast and it will be time to pack up before I have ticked off the 1st two items. I do NOT worry. The post-it list is stuck in my writing diary, ready with the starting point if my next writing session.

Today’s list consists of research and writing. Plus I had a few business emails to read/ respond to. That’s the biggest surprise I think in writing, the fact that ADMIN takes up so much time. It took ages to flag up the emails, despite using designated email addresses for different areas.

to do I have currently applied for a pop-up performance arranged by Naked Lungs for this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival, have 2 – 4 short stories to complete (2 this week if I can) and several poems to write, some to follow up the workshop at Acton Scott Farm with Jean Atkin, some for a performance tomorrow night (1st one in 13 days, took a bit of a break!), some for this weekend and others to catch up on other projects I have only had time to dip in and out of. I also have my first official book review to write (for which I was paid, a complimentary copy of the poetry pamphlet)!

I have 14 websites to looks at/research, a character to create from a world I know very little about (eek!), I have a scratch night I probably won’t make pencilled in* and a book launch. This weekend is the Writing West Midlands Creative Writing Group and a deadline for some written submissions.

* Conserving energy (and petrol) WLF – Worcester LitFest in a fortnight and lots going on before then too. Plus I now have to fit EXERCISE into the schedule – and don’t suggest parking and striding to the gigs – I get red faced after about 3 minutes and would need a shower when I arrived and most venues have no dressing rooms or facilities!

So I had best get on with my list! imagesCAISM7Z5

 

Time Management:

  • Split chunks of time, I find not being to prescriptive works well (in my day job, things have to fit in allocated slots of time) and it feels good to break free! I started at 10:30 and said I could have a break in an hour, that kind of thing.

 

  • Know what you need to do, get your head down and try to do it.

 

  • I say try because creativity cannot be forced or pushed, some days it comes easier than others. So the true TIME management falls in making sure there is time to complete your projects when you have those duff days. This is usually a 4 day buffer at least, depending on length of editing/ proofing time.

 

  • I always try to get things written in time to give it some rest and a look over/ edit before submission – this is usually a period of a week if you have enough time to do this it can be beneficial.

 

  • Keep your unfinished list to know where your starting point is next time.

 

  • If you can that starting point should be part way through something -or the start of a task based on researching or something you can get into straight away. The problem with starting with your next writing job is the possibility you will be staring at a blank screen for some of the time.

 

  • Try not to lose focus. I often set alarms on my phone, that way I don’t even have to glance at the onscreen clock anyway.

 

  • Try to ease the pressure off. You are your Boss, it is always beneficial to get on with the Boss right?

 

  • And just like real work (unless you work in Health or Education/ Public Sector) take some breaks and give yourself treats and incentives for reaching target! Not food though – you don’t want a writer’s (saggy) bottom!

 

Good Luck! Green-Clovers-Vector-Illustration

PS I used part of my break to write this – I am now walking away from the screen!

Taking a Stroll Down Rejection Avenue

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I have recently received another rejection for the Journey poems I submitted for Popshots Magazine, just 6 days ago.

Rejections are fine, they are part of everyone’s lives, especially artists. I started this blog last year to track my life as a writer, that includes ups and downs. We hear so much about writing successes without knowing about the years of trying or failures that came before. It is tempting to keep my rejection slips secret, but I don’t need to … I know that the material is rejected on all sorts of criteria and just because the work was wrong for publication this time, doesn’t mean it will always be wrong for somewhere else or that you can’t write new material for a publication who have already rejected you.

I have realised over the past few months that these journals do tend to publish already established artists, their names will help sell issue. I do believe that at some point success will be mine, I would love to work on my own pamphlet soon and will need some recent publication success to entice publishers to risk it! I may produce my own small collection towards the end of the year anyway. (Even if it is just for myself.)

So I am taking in the air down on Rejection Avenue and it smells as if there is possibility there.

  • Being afraid of rejection is as daft as being scared of your own reflection.
  • Bitterly vowing to never submit again, is a waste of energy. (And a downright lie!)

NEXT STEPS;

  • Read the email. Take on board any advice given, let the poems rest a while and return to them later to detect whether it was you or them…

‘It’s not you, it’s me’ actually might work on your mind-set…. it’s not your poetry it’s our publishing house!

You have not fallen down, so just blow the dust off your pen and try again. 6483e9d67caad0f203f569497e0b3c7e

Stanza #5 17.1.14

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What a fabulous night! The biggest turn out to a Poetry Society Meeting our Stanza has had. 14 of us, it was a good job Ian’s sitting room was large enough to accommodate us all. It was lovely wishing everyone new year and working on our latest offerings.

And two members Kathy Gee and Jenna had received Highly Commended for poetry pamphlets they had submitted. As this is my next step it was great to hear how close they both came.

I had my happy news to share too about the Writing Assistant job.

A great night of poeting!

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INKSPILL – Edit – Time to work on your own projects and HAVE LUNCH!

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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

AWF Edit Time to work on your own writing projects.

 

As we draw closer to lunchtime the morning sessions are over for today. (If you have done them, if not – read them and treat yourself!) I will be posting later to answer questions about Freewriting and to leave some resources, links to other websites.

I hope you are enjoying your experience so far.

 

Take some time now to write on your own projects and don’t forget to leave a comment, let us know what writing projects you are working on.

 

Later this afternoon we have our first Inkspill Session (as requested by you) – these are fairly information heavy, I originally postponed yesterdays to today, however I think it may be best to extend INKSPILL instead and see you off after a late breakfast, final session and feedback on Monday.

I don’t want to post an unrealistic amount of material to the blog for those of you attempting the full INKSPILL experience in real time (or world -clock near enough) ….

So grab lunch, work on your own projects and I will see you back here later this afternoon.

 

Many thanks and happy writing!

 

 

Edit Spend any writing time on your own projects – let us know how you get on.