Category Archives: Events

Laureates at Lakefest

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Looking forward to Lakefest tomorrow, getting sets ready!

Poet Laureate

Thanks to Ruth Inglis a bunch of Laureates and local poets will be performing tomorrow at this year’s Lakefest.

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1.15: A Load of Laureates – Compered by Charley Barnes with Nina Lewis, Chloe Clarke Suz Winspear, Maggie Doyle & Matt Windle

3.00: Poetry Brothel: Matt Windle, Joe Beau, Pete The Temp.

4.15: Speakeasy- Compered by Matt Windle with Maggie Doyle, Rick Sanders (Willis the Poet), Nina Lewis, Chloe Carke, Polly Stretton, Suz Winspear and Charley Barnes.

5.00: Poetry Slam

6.00: The Anti-Poet

As well as Poetry on Demand throughout the day. A fabulous line up and the forecast looks okay too.

https://lakefest.co.uk/Wave-footer-all

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Review of July

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Week 1: 

Workshop/National Trust Project

Room 204 is involved in the Croome Court project Adam Speaks. We met Chris Alton, the Lead Artist at a workshop at Writing West Midlands Headquarters in the Custard Factory on Saturday 1st July.

1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young  © 2017 Peter Young

This was an epic 6 hr workshop. Chris is working with 4 groups Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School. It was exciting to know that these workshops will feed Chris’s art.

Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© 2017 Rachel Hill

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. 

© National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

Literature Festival

Sunday saw my 3rd official WPL appearance on the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words. This event had a great turn out and beautiful Sunday morning sunshine for the poetry walk, a gentle stroll across the green park around the Bell Tower in Evesham.

I performed some Evesham poems written especially for the event and enjoyed listening to poetry and prose. It was good to see some people who happened upon our merry group, stay and listen.

It was good to reconnect with Sue Johnson and I booked another event later for this year.

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This festival always has a great programme. They are already booked up for next year.

Radio

On Monday I had my first Radio slot with Tammy Gooding BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester. This was something Maggie Doyle instigated during her WPL tenure (2013/14). It is a tradition picked up by other Laureates and I am happy to continue with it.

I read ‘Gander’ one of the poems written for Evesham Festival of Words. Tammy is amazing at putting you at ease. She was also impressed with an interview which needed no editing! It has been decades since I stepped foot inside a studio. I was nervous, but had such a great time! I am already booked in for August.

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Performances

During the evening I took a guest slot at Licensed to Rhyme, Maggie Doyle & Spoz’s monthly poetry event at the Artrix.

Headlining this month was former WPL Suz Winspear, Claire Walker was the other guest poet and there were a plethora of open mic-ers. It was a fabulous evening.

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And before I start sounding like the Hungry Caterpillar… on Tuesday I took a rest. There were events I would have liked to attend but I was attempting to conserve energy for my Headline slot at Uncorked.

Having pencilled in Ledbury Poetry Festival, Lichfield and Shropshire – we arrive at Thursday.

Headline

I was booked for Uncorked at Bottles a while ago (before WPL), originally scheduled for June, I swapped into July so Charley would have a chance to sell her recently published books. I on the other hand have had my final 5 copies of Fragile Houses for months… this is the way it goes sometimes. I didn’t sell any books but I had a great evening.

Sean Colletti created a masterpiece idea for the introductory sets so instead of the traditional 5 minute teaser from each of the Headline poets we worked together on Sean’s concept of a waiting room & the result was an interesting concoction , especially considering it was unrehearsed.

uncorked-july

Clive Oseman, Jake Scott & Sean Colletti were all wonderful headliners and we had a good range of open floor spots too. Holly has created something magic here, helped by a sensational venue Bottles Wine Bar in Worcester.

Workshop

Up early the next morning (hard to sleep on post-performance adrenaline), I drove to Shrewsbury for a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. I would have paid just to meet these two poets who have been on my radar for a long time. So having the bonus of a workshop was superb.

Unfortunately, I missed the performance the night before as I was at Uncorked. It wasn’t a prerequisite to the workshop though. The workshop was based on epistolary poetry. Which is something I have only tried to a few times. Strange because I used to love writing letters, I had 33 international penfriends by 12 years old. I also started writing to an old, re-united friend during my deepest depression. These letters are now even more special to me as she sadly passed away.

The workshop was brilliant and I got some ideas from it, as well as books. Love their work and cannot wait to spend time with the pages.

I recently (28th June) re-wrote one of my workshop poems and took it to stanza. I will do something with it in the future. I am pleased with the result and know I would never have written it without this workshop.

It was at the Severn Theatre in a huge room, necessary as it was a large group. It was lovely to reconnect with the Shropshire crew. I have been busy lately and it has cut me off from many out of county events. I cannot remember the last time I made it to perform in Birmingham beyond Waterstones events. I know how quickly the poetry scene moves there, so it will be full of people I don’t know – which is exciting.

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I was booked in for my first Cathedral Poets Workshop in Worcester the following morning and an action packed day in Ledbury on the Sunday. Reason and experience told me Mr. G and I needed some time and I needed to rest. So regrettably I cancelled the workshop and now have to wait until October. October is an incredibly busy month with Swindon Poetry Festival, Birmingham Literature Festival and school workshops, so I may not get to the Cathedral again.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 

I always want to attend the complete festival, I dream of pitching up a tent and staying. It is like a massive holiday for poets with a daily celebration of words. However, knowing I could only manage one day this year – I chose a day with an action packed programme.

It was amazing. Read the full 21 Years of Gold

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Week 2

After work I was too tired to get to watch Beyond the Water’s Edge at the Artrix and I am very disappointed to miss it. I also missed the WLF Committee meeting (as I was meant to be at the theatre). Where was I? Asleep! Although having read Week 1, I am not surprised. I was also working on an application and some poetry which I used most of my post-Ledbury adrenaline to fuel.

I booked in WPL work and wrote commissioned poetry for Buildings Talk Hospital Histories (a project I spent 3 weeks working on) and got my set for Chapel Lates organised and set some promo for an event in August.

I gave myself some downtime knowing the end of the week was another hectic schedule.

Performance/ Cheltenham Music Festival

Chapel arts

Chapel Lates in Cheltenham, an amazing night of poetry and prose as part of Cheltenham Music Festival curated by Anna Saunders (Founder Cheltenham Poetry Festival). Read all about it here  Chapel Lates Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1

 

This event clashed with HOWL and Outspoken. It is always the way. It has taken 4 years, but I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I cannot be everywhere at once.

Commission/Performance/Project 

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories

Charley Barnes asked me to participate in a Medical Museum Project at the end of June. We had access to historical archives (photographs) which are not on general display to the public and from these we created a 10 minute set of poetry.

Buildings Talk

It was a great project to be involved in, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Louise Price had the creative vision to intersperse the medical talks with poetry. We performed our poems with the images projected behind us.

The next stage of this project is displaying a selection of our poems alongside archived footage.

Read a full review here Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories


I took a poetry break for a couple of days to work and to reunite with college friends, our two yearly reunions, epic fun! Just imagine Drama students 20 years on!


Performance

I attended Open Poetry which this month was a charity event to raise funds for PIPKA – refugees in Lesvos, Greece.

I performed my refugee poem, now written 4 years ago, this world of ours remains in crisis. Read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/open-poetry-for-pipka/

EC This event was organised by Helen Calcutt and David Calcutt and featured Guest Spots from Christina Thatcher, she read from her recent collection ‘More Than You Were’.  more_than_you_were_large

Week 3

Writing

I needed some time at the desk to complete work from the Spring (another book endorsement) and read material that I am reviewing. I also needed lots of Admin time to complete arrangements for Artsfest (working on this since February), future bookings and promotion of other events.

I had as yet not re-awoken my creative muse – not to give a spoiler… but this was the month!

This was also the last week of work before the summer, my contract had finished and although I wasn’t expecting any work I had to remain on call. This meant several bleary-eyed mornings on the computer, just in case.

I had events and meetings to attend this week which did not involve me performing. A welcome treat/break from pressure and nerves. It also gave me some time to gather energy before the Artsfest Day (22nd).

Readings

Summer Party – Nine Arches Press

I thoroughly enjoyed this event with Jane Commane and…9 arches 3

The readings were superb and the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘PARTY’! Read all about it here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/nine-arches-press-summer-party/

Meetings

The following morning I had an early start and a meeting in Birmingham at the Custard Factory with Jonathan Davidson and the other writers involved in Spark Young Writers groups. As ever it was interesting sharing ideas and great to spend some time with other writers/poets.

Book Launch

In the evening I drove to Cheltenham to finally catch a Book Launch from Angela France. DFH4x-NVoAAzcZ2 I was excited to see the multi-media element that I had heard so much about and to listen to Angela read more from this collection I have been following for the past couple of years. Read the full review of this special evening https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-hill-angela-france-book-launch/

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The launch shook my muse awake and for the first time in months, I was writing. For about two hours straight!

Meetings

I had a meeting with the Events Manager at the Jinney Ring to put plans into action for my September workshop using the Sculpture Trail. It was exciting, my list of 8 pointers were all achieved and it is shaping up to be a great WPL project.

Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

The Sculpture Trail at The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcestershire.

The morning will start with a tour of the trail and some time to write using the sculptures for ekphrastic poetry or initial stimuli. Followed by a writing workshop in the marquee. 
Tea/Coffee and cake is provided as part of the ticket.

There will be opportunities to share writing and participants will be able to send polished work for at exhibition at the Jinney Ring in October.

In addition to all this, there will also be the opportunity to share your work at a reading in November.

For more information please contact me: worcspl[at]gmail.com

Official poster with all booking details out soon. Just awaiting the new trail photograph. 
10:15 meet at the marquee for a 10:30 Tour. 
Tickets £7.00

Festival Artsfest

droitwich artsfest

I need to write a complete blog post for Artsfest – which finishes on the 5th August. I will link back here afterwards.

It was a brilliant day with Poetry in the Square and an evening event Poetry Extravaganza at Park’s Cafe.

Watch Out Worcester! 

watch out worcs

I performed at St. Swithun’s Church at an event created by Suz Winspear. It was a great experience and I loved the building and atmosphere. I will write a blog about this event and link it back to here.

st swithins dancefest

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/NEWs/15437699.Dancing_in_the_streets_of_Worcester/

Week 4

Writing

I spent a few days chained to the desk with writing and admin. I missed Poetry Bites as I was too pushed for time to get to King’s Heath and extremely tired after the busy weekend.

I researched new material and wrote 3 new poems for 42.

Workshop

I attended a workshop led by Angela France in Stratford, I always enjoy these sessions and listening to the work that is created.

Performance

I performed at Drummonds, 42 in the evening. The theme was Curiosities and I had fun exploring this theme. I wrote about an underground library in Seattle, the hanging coffins of China and fossilised skeletons. I left the Cabinet of… for others.

It was a great night, very entertaining with a Guest Host – Kevin Brooke – who did a sterling job, he made it look easy and we all know, it isn’t!

I missed Caffe Grande Slam for another month, as I needed to conserve energy.

ArtsFest Poet in Residence

On 28th July I was at the library in Droitwich as one of the Artists in Residence for Artsfest. I had a smashing morning talking all things poetry and tested out my Poetry Kit idea. This is something I will make more of at another point.

I took this booking as a poet, but decided as I am WPL it was a good opportunity to raise awareness of this role and promote WLF at the same time as DAN – Network.

DAN Lib

It was a lot of fun and has given me ideas for future events. It was the first outing for my new WPL t-shirt and the tablecloth, bought after the workshop on Wednesday.

DAN Lib 2 Children making Poetry Kits – we were competing with the Summer Reading Challenge who had a sock puppet workshop, or as I saw it, we had a captive audience to come and make Poetry Kits for FREE after.

DAN Rhys  © 2017 Rhys Jones

Poetry

I dropped in two poems to be displayed on the table and wall at The Canal Side Studio. There are more events this summer from there. So watch this space.

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I finished the month with a Stanza meeting, which was a lovely evening and had some useful editing tips for my Dear Sky – Ivory/Figura workshop poem.

July has been exceptional!

 

Review of July as WPL

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For the next year I will divide my monthly reviews into Worcestershire Poet Laureate work and everything else.


Worcestershire Poet Laureate – A Month in Review

Week 1:

Media Coverage

An article about becoming Worcestershire Poet Laureate appeared in Worcester News.

Worcester News

I had my first slot with Tammy Gooding on BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio.

Hereford&Worcester

I read ‘Gander’ one of my Evesham Festival of Words poems.

Suz Winspear continues to write her column for SLAP magazine and this month the passing of the Laureateship was part of her feature.

SLAP issue 71

SLAP Suz

Performances

Evesham Festival of Words – Poetry Walk

Evesham-Festival-of-Words-Image-1 I performed a set of Evesham based poems written especially for the event. I performed under the Cloisters. It was a great turn out and an enjoyable poetry stroll around the green of Evesham.

Licensed to Rhyme

This month Suz Winspear (former WPL) headlined and I appeared in a Guest Slot at Licensed to Rhyme on Monday 3rd July. Licensed to Rhyme is run by Maggie Doyle & Spoz and takes place every month at the Artrix.

Licensed to Rhyme

I was asked to do a workshop in August, but unfortunately was not available on the day. I have taken several other bookings for performances and workshops over the next few months.

Week 2:

Much of my current work as WPL is planning for future events. This week I put together a Halloween Event, an Earth Day Event, continued to organise an international poetry project and made contact with several community groups across the County.

Week 3:

Media

The story went into press.

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Projects

Submissions Open

I opened submissions to Contour (a digital magazine for my tenure). Submissions remain open until 31st August.

Copy of TRIVIA (5)

Still open for poetry and artwork – so get submitting!

Young Poet Award

I also launched a new initiative to encourage Young Poets. This is open all year – so if you know any talented youngsters under 16, nominate them for this award.

Copy of Summer Children Kids event ccourse Poster Flyer Template (2)

I continued to work on the planning of a September workshop at the Jinney Ring. I met with the Events Manager and went through the finer details. I am very excited about this and bookings are now being taken.

Writing Workshop with Sculpture Trail – Jinney Ring Craft Centre

Writing Workshop with Sculptures and the Worcestershire Poet Laureate.
Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

The Sculpture Trail at The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcestershire.

The morning will start with a tour of the trail and some time to write using the sculptures for ekphrastic poetry or initial stimuli. Followed by a writing workshop in the marquee. 
Tea/Coffee and cake is provided as part of the ticket.

There will be opportunities to share writing and participants will be able to send polished work for at exhibition at the Jinney Ring in October.

In addition to all this, there will also be the opportunity to share your work at a reading in November.

For more information please contact me: worcspl[at]gmail.com

Official poster with all booking details out soon. Just awaiting the new trail photograph. 
10:15 meet at the marquee for a 10:30 Tour. 
Tickets £7.00


I am really excited to make a whole project for the poets, a performance/reading and an exhibition following the workshop. Poetry for Autumn, tick!

I continued connecting to local groups and the wider community and have made several offers to spread poetry buzz. I made some new connections.

We continued to make exciting festival plans for next month.

Performances

st swithins dancefest© 2017 Kathy Gee

St. Swithun’s Church as part of Watch Out Worcester, DanceFest. This event was organised by Suz Winspear and was incredible. I felt lucky to be part of it – even though it had to be a flying visit as I was already leading and performing in an event for Artfest.

I will blog a whole write up for this event and link back here.

I also performed in St. Andrew’s Square for Artsfest and promoted other festival events, this is something I have been involved in the planning of since February, now as WPL we tagged that element in.

This brought new opportunities which I will be announcing next month.

Poetry Extravaganza – Artsfest

I brought together 9 poets to perform at Park’s Cafe. It was a successful event which deserves a blog post of its own. Link to follow.

I was also presented with my now engraved WPL award.

award

© 2017 Leena Batchelor

 

Week 4:

I continued to communicate and plan the international project. Worked on marketing for the Jinney Ring Sculpture Writing Workshop, promoted WPL events. In addition organising other WPL appearances this Autumn.

Events

I was already an Artist in Residence for DAN/Artsfest, but decided now I am also WPL to be the WPL/Poet in Residence and promote both DAN & WLF.

I had an enjoyable morning at the Library (I will blog and link back). I also tested the Poetry Kit idea, which worked well and resulted in an even better idea/method for next time.

DAN peter Hawkins

© 2017 Peter Hawkins

I also loved one of the Poetry Kit children asking their Gran if they could use this as a party game at their Birthday Party this summer. Poetry GOLD!

DAN Lib 2   DAN Lib

I also dropped off poetry to display at Canal Side Studios.

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And that’s about it – a quick rest before heading into August.

DAN Rhys

© 2017 Rhys Jones

July a Month in Review (all the bits that aren’t WPL) link to follow.

The Hill – Angela France Book Launch

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I had the pleasure of going to Cheltenham for Angela France’s Book Launch last week. This was an amazing event. Set in the very place where villagers met to discuss the fate of the hill, there were riots and everything (historically, not on the 20th July).

In fact I spent an hour stuck on a road facing THE hill. So I felt I knew it by the time I arrived at the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The Launch was in the function space, decorated with ribbons and fairy lights and filled with a crowd of poets, locals, friends and family. It was an exceptionally good turn out and the evening shone beautiful sunshine into the space.

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Angela’s latest collection ‘The Hill’ ties together historical fact, modern day thought and the people and places of the hill, significant turning points and lives through the years. It is a project which has seen years of research and uses archive materials as well as creative thought.

I was excited to discover a few months ago whilst working on my own Poetry Collaboration show 30-40-60, that Angela was using multimedia as well. She had the wonderful backing of Elephant’s Footprint Poetry Film (more on them soon) and the added bonus of a remote control. We timed our footage and this left no room for error or pause.

I LOVED the multimedia element, sometimes photos of archives or archived photos, other times narrated letters, modern day film clips, lawful protests and letters to editors, a real blend. I don’t want to give too much detail as I know Angela France is touring this show and I would urge you to go and see it!

It worked really well and Angela’s poetry filled the room. I am really excited about reading this collection. My fascination for people and place is going to be quenched by these poems.

I have not set pen to paper for a while apart from commissioned work, listening to Angela set my mind racing and shook muse awake. I filled pages in my carry about notebook and once home spent 2 hours writing poetry!

Angela France

 © Photo Credit Nine Arches Press 2017

It gave me an opportunity to meet some of the Cheltenham poets whose work I published back in June for World Refugee Day. As well as spending time with poets I know and catching up with all their news.

Also an incredible fruitful discussion about Poetry Film with Chaucer Cameron & Helen Dewbery – Elephant’s Footprint. I recently discovered that several successful poets came to their submission decisions and found opportunities at my Book Launch, it looks like I may have just done the same.

A fabulous evening filled with words and community.


This is a book launch with a very special local and historical twist – it takes place in The Wheatsheaf pub where the ‘Leckhampton Stalwarts’, who feature prominently in The Hill, used to meet.

This launch event will also feature Angela France’s multimedia poetry show which accompanies the book and includes the images, maps and voices of the characters Angela found in the archives, as well as a selection of live poems from Angela France interwoven into a compelling story of trespass, place and memory. 

 © Interests Media Ltd 2014-2017

 

 

Nine Arches Press Summer Party

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Nine Arches Press know how to throw a party! I missed it last year as I was performing elsewhere but – having kept a do it next year section of my 2016 diary, I knew it was coming up and booked my tickets as soon as it was announced back in June!

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I had a busy day and went for a power nap before catching my train into Birmingham. Mr. G. came home and found me still asleep. I haven’t moved so fast in a long time. I managed to catch the train and arrive at Waterstones just in time.

It was lovely (and not a surprise) to see so many poets there. They had a good crowd and there were lots of people I didn’t know too.

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Jane Commane (Nine Arches Press) introducing the poets and welcoming us to a party complete with Flamingo straws. Image  © 2017 Cynthia Miller

I was really excited when I saw who was on the list this year and there readings were all captivating.

Gregory Leadbetter has had all of his launches/readings whilst I have been elsewhere, so even though his book was released last year this was my first opportunity to hear him read it. He also hosted the event, using the book sleeves of the new publications to introduce each Guest Poet.

Greg Leadbetter 9 Arches

© 2017 Nine Arches

I thoroughly enjoyed his reading, I had heard several of the poems before at events but listening to a full set was a real treat. I will be putting ‘The Fetch’ on my birthday list. For a first collection it is extremely strong.

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Gregory Leadbetter’s first full collection of poems, The Fetch, brings together poems that reach through language to the mystery of our being, giving voice to silence and darkness, illuminating the unseen. With their own rich alchemy, these poems combine the sensuous and the numinous, the lyric and the mythic. 

Ranging from invocation to elegy, from ghost poems to science fiction, Leadbetter conjures and quickens the wild and the weird. His poems bring to life a theatre of awakenings and apprehensions, of births and becoming, of the natural and the transnatural, where life and death meet. Powerful, imaginative, and precisely realised, The Fetch is also poignant and humane – animated by love, alive with the forces of renewal.

‘The Fetch is a terrific, precise and dazzling collection. The whole book exemplifies a poetry of being that shows what is possible when we allow ourselves to be fully human in our perception and poetry.’ – David Morley
© 2017 Nine Arches Press
The Fetch Cover web

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© 2017 Stuart Bartholomew

I am a big fan of Angela France’s work and what is special about her latest collection ‘The Hill’ is I have been privy to the inside of the work for the past two years. I have done workshops using Archive materials with Angela, who has just spent the past two years deep in records of the past. I also know that the places she writes about are places she knows well. I missed her Launch in Ledbury and have resisted buying a copy of her book until I heard her read.

I particularly enjoyed the use of Anglo Language found in a short sequence of work in this book. I think place and people are two subjects that grip me,  for anyone who feels the same this collection is for you!

DFHkYknXsAkOYw2 © 2017 Nine Arches

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Here, we encounter ghosts, foxes and ancient kings. We meet the protestors who, years before the Kinder Scout Trespassers, were standing up for their rambling rights and took the law into their own hands in 1902 when a landowner tried to enclose the hill they had walked for generations. And though history is never far from the surface, The Hill raises questions that are just as important today; who has the right to roam, whose land is it, anyway?

“these are words that make you ache for the place.” – Phil Smith, author of Mythogeography and On Walking

 © 2017 Nine Arches Press

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Rishi Dastidar’ Ticker Tape was released earlier this year. I have known of Rishi for a while but only met him in Ledbury Poetry Festival this year.

His set was fresh and different. His poetry is distinctive and the themes cover a lot we can recognise, modern poetry for the 21st Century. I enjoyed the wit of his work and the pleasure he takes in performing it.

From politics to pop, from the UK to California, wherever digital heartbeats flutter and stutter, Ticker-tape is a maximalist take on 21st century living. Rishi Dastidar’s first full collection showcases one of contemporary poetry’s most distinctive voices, delivering effervescence with equal servings of panache and whiplash-quick wit.

Here is sheer madcap ingenuity and also impressive breadth; ranging from odes of love to deconstructed diversity campaigns and detonations of banter’s worst excesses, plus appearances from ex-SugaBabes, a shark who comes to tea, to the matters of matchstick empires and national identity. Ticker-tape is bold, adventuresome and wry – an unmissable and irrepressible debut.

 © 2017 Nine Arches Press

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And finally –DFa0G2FXkAA8038

 © 2017 Nine Arches

Tania Hershman who claimed not to be a poet when I met her a few years ago. She is/was a published author who had started to cross to the poetry genre. It is a good idea to expand your repertoire and flex your writing muscles this way.

What is unusual is to have a first collection published by a well established publisher within a couple of years of starting out.

A huge achievement. A pleasure to listen to.

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 © 2017 Nine Arches

Tania Hershman’s debut poetry collection, Terms and Conditions, urges us to consider all the possibilities, and read life’s small print before signing on the dotted line. These beautifully measured poems bring their stoical approach to the uncertain business of our daily lives – and ask us to consider what could happen if we were to bend or break the rules, step outside the boundaries and challenge the narrative.
In feats of imagination and leaps of probability, falling simply becomes flying, a baby collects the data and scrolls through everything it sees, and there are daring acts of vanishing and recreation. Be wary, for even the evidence here often leads us astray. And in between this, Hershman’s precise poetry elegantly balances the known, unknown and unknowable matter of existence, love and happiness, weighing the atoms of each, finding just the exact words that will draw up the perfect contract of ideas.
Praise for Terms and Conditions:
‘This is a sophisticated debut collection by a writer already well known for her inventive short stories.’ – Kathryn Maris

‘There is a plenitude and a loss to Tania Hershman’s Terms & Conditions. A plenitude of tones and forms and linguistic playfulness, and a fine sense of loss that spins and passes through the poems.’ – Simon Barraclough 

‘In her debut collection of poetry, acclaimed writer Tania Hershman reveals the strange intricacies of science and our daily lives. Here, we find a cabinet of curiosities: Elvis and Marilyn, fire ants, cake and wind turbines. Hershman gifts the reader with collisions of grief and laughter, joy and curiosity. A wonder.’- Doireann Ní Ghríofa
‘Tania Hershman’s work is full of brilliant and passionate observations on dreams, falling, names and dancing, they are moving, loving meditations on how we move and love, what it feels like to be alive.’ – W.N. Herbert

It was a superb night and we all had time for mingling and chatting too. A delightful summer’s evening and the kind of party I really like nowadays… relaxed, with books and booze!

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 © 2017 Nine Arches

Open Poetry for PIPKA

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PIPKA is a self organised refugee camp set up to help Refugees in Greece.

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Performers included:

Set 1
Mike Alma
Mickey Ali
Romalyn Ante
Suzan Atasu
Richard Archer
Elaine Christie
Ann Clarson
Tina Cole
Leanne Cooper

Guest: Helen Calcutt

Set 2
PIPKA Aurelie Blondeau

Grace Dore
Emily Galvin
Amanda Glover
Penny Harper
Jane James
Janet Jenkins
Gerald Kells
Nina Lewis

Set 3
Liz Mills
John Mills
Neil Richards
Janet Smith
Mel Woodend
Sue Wood

Guest: Christina Thatcher

GDGrace Dore © 2017

It took Mike and I an epic amount of time to get to Walsall – 2 hours (!) as there were motorway closures and traffic queues at stand still throughout the route, we did make it in time for the 2nd and 3rd sets.

It was great to see everyone again at the Arboretum, it feels like a long time since I have been there. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see Helen and Christina in action either. They were performing at Waterstones, which I believe has been postponed/rescheduled but was on a date I couldn’t attend. I was not expecting a buffet but was very glad of it – Mike and I had not eaten and were planning to grab lunch in the cafe before the event as we set off plenty early enough to do so.

Also, the main focus was to raise money for charity, so giving a donation to perform was all part of it too. If I had a valid passport I would go and do something too. Especially after hearing Aurelie Blondeau Calcutt talk about her experience with Helen out there.

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Elaine Christie © 2017

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Helen Calcutt © 2017

Below: all photos by Elaine Christie, unless otherwise stated.

 

 

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Many people shared important poems about the refugee crisis.

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Janet Jenkins © 2017

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Christina Thatcher performed a couple of sets from her collection ‘More Than You Were’ a book about grief and losing her father. Emotive the exploration of a relationship that is far from perfect and no longer able to be reconciled. This is a hard and beautiful collection.

https://christinathatcher.com/

In July 2013, David Thatcher died of a drug overdose in America. More than you were was written by his daughter, to try to understand what came after. The result is a striking collection of poetry which explores addiction, family politics, childhood memories and grief. © 2017, Parthian Books.

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After the event Helen sent this message of gratitude.

Pikpa poetry was brilliant yesterday. Thank you everyone who came and performed for us. Listened to us. And donated. We have now raised £610 for Lesvos Solidarity – Pikpa. Nearly half-way there.

A special thanks to Christina Thatcher for travelling all the from sunny Cardiff to read from her new collection – stirring, compelling, brilliant. To Aurelie Blondeau Calcutt for the very positive, informative talk. And to Pop for putting it all on for us. Love to you all, it was a truly successful (and inspiring) afternoon.

Helen Calcutt © 2017

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If you would like to make a donation you can do so here.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/pikpa-medical-uk

In May 2017, my sister-in-law and I visited PIKPA, a self-organised refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, providing support to the most vulnerable individuals seeking refuge. We were both inspired and saddened by what we saw. After speaking with Dimitri Ippioti, one of the two nurses on PIKPA, we decided to focus on crowdfunding for healthcare.

Helen Calcutt © 2017

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Buildings Talk – Hospital Histories

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Buildings Talk

Back in June, Charley Barnes extended an invitation to be one of the poets for this project with the Medical Museum. I jumped at the chance as I enjoy writing ekphrastic poetry and working with archived photographs would be a pleasure.

The whole project happened over the space of just three weeks. The Medical Talk was for any interested parties and open to the public. It was attended by retired employees, medical staff, students and even some former patients. The conversations and interactions we had in the evening were wonderfully insightful and interesting. As was the information gained by the two main lectures.

Louise Price, Curator at the George Marshall Medical Museum, was the driving force behind the injection (excuse the pun), of creativity in this programme and I think it broke up the lectures well.

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Charles Hastings Education Centre

The project gave us time to spend with archived footage not available to the general public and consider the stories it connected for us. I spent time choosing my photos. Then I had to cull the selection back further as we had 8-10 minutes to produce and the number of photos I had selected would need at least twice that performance time!

The other poets were Mike Alma, Charley Barnes and Polly Stretton. We all did some research into the hospitals and people/situations depicted in our chosen photographs. We had a meeting with Louise Price before the event where we all talked about the images we had chosen and listened to her knowledge of the archived material. On the night we performed with the images projected behind us.

I spent time composing and editing a series of poems from 7 photos. Several of which pleased me.

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On the evening we had a chance to look around the Medical Museum displays. Some grizzly, some fascinating. I popped in alone initially and was glad of the company of Polly & Mike the second time. I am terribly squeamish!

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The Museum is open Monday to Friday 9-5pm and is free to enter

Louise is hoping to display a selection of our poems from this event soon.

 

RELATED LINK

https://medicalmuseum.org.uk/georgemarshallmuseum/

There are some summer holiday family activities available, starting with this one.

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Chapel Lates Cheltenham

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Chapel arts

I thoroughly enjoyed this event organised by Anna Saunders as part of Cheltenham Music Festival. I liked the idea of starting late, it certainly makes arriving on time easier!

Chapel Arts is an amazing renovated Baptist Chapel. The gallery space has been organised flexibly to allow for various events. chapel-arts-cheltenham-logo

Arriving early gave me a chance to have a good look around.

The space was set up perfectly for Poetry and complete with pews. The tables had fairy lights in vases, there was a bar and plenty of seating.

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There was a good number of people who turned up for this FREE night of poetic entertainment and I daresay for the Headliners: Tyler Keevil and Bohdan Piasecki. I know that Bohdan does not perform as often as anyone would like him too (although he performs internationally & at Festivals), when there is a rare chance to enjoy the man in action it causes quite a stir. Having missed his final Hit the Ode as MC for Apples & Snakes, it was good to catch up.

 

Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1Tyler Keevil started the evening. Tyler Keevil is a novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer from Vancouver, Canada.  He is the author of three award-winning books: FireballThe Drive, and Burrard Inlet.

I know that performing at Spoken Word events falls slightly outside of his comfort zone, but anyone not privy to this would never have guessed. It is hard reading lengthy extracts and flash fiction, I have tried it! It was a captivating set and I could have listened for longer. Check out his website in related links.

There were lots of booked Open Mic-ers, the standard was high (which did not surprise me having attended the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and other events in the town), I know this to be a place of talent. We all missed the memo about it being a music themed evening, had I been on later I may have changed my set. There is one poem in Fragile Houses that I rarely perform which is really about something other than music but is all about music above the sub-text.

However, I had timed my set and knowing there were a number of readers was hesitant to make changes. My final poem fitted the theme and once I realised that none of us had realised there was a theme, I felt better.

Other performers included: Annie Ellis, Belinda Rimmer, John G., Dan Cooper, Neil Richards, Peter McDade, James Cornish in the first half.

I took the photos on my camera until the batteries let me down and will add these when I have uploaded them.

Poems which have stayed with me include Annie’s Young Deer poem, Belinda’s poem about the news story teenage boys protest about No Shorts policy by wearing skirts*, John performed an incredibly moving poem about carers, ‘Bricks’, Dan was unique with a mix between song lyrics and styles ‘I Hate Sunday Nights’ was amusing and entertaining, Neil performed his Grenfell poem and delivered a powerful set, Peter’s translated vocabulary super model poem hit all the funny buttons – he likes playing with language and dialect/ accents, I also enjoyed his ‘Everything is a Festival in Cheltenham’ – made more amusing by the fact that we were part of the Music Festival organised by Anna who is the founder and Leader of the Poetry Festival. James

James Cornish

James completed the first half opening with the confession he had consumed an espresso, red wine and gin to calm his pre-performance nerves AND he still managed to get all the words out! I remember the lines… ‘It’s all gone a bit Spike Milligan… what are you going to do now? Aerobics?’ his work was suitably dark.

After the interval we heard a set from Willis the Poet (a.k.a Rick Sanders) followed by the next Headliner, Bohdan Piasecki.

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Rick Sanders/ Willis the Poet

I always enjoy Rick’s sets and delight in a new audience discovering the humour bound in his collection of notebooks. Especially his fake commissions, an idea I like to remember as being conceived at Wolverhampton Arts Festival in my very presence! His Cheltenham SPAR poem deserves a mention too.

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Bohdan’s set was incredibly moving and sparked lots of ideas that I needed to scribble into my notebook. He is a dynamic performer who plays with language and manages to stretch emotions. Nursing our hearts with his gentle humour between poems. Grounding us once more.

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Bohdan Piasecki

Bohdan Piasecki is a poet from Poland based in Birmingham. A committed performer, he has taken his poems to venues ranging from the upstairs room in an Eastbourne pub to the main stage of the Birmingham Rep, from an underground Tokyo club to a tramway in Paris, from a bookshop in Beijing to an airfield in Germany, from niche podcasts to BBC Radio 3 and 4. In the UK, he regularly features at the country’s most exciting spoken word nights, festivals, and readings. He enjoys the creative chaos of big field festivals just as much as the composed concentration of literary events.

He’s completed three international tours (with stops in over twenty countries and counting); working with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project to engage people living with dementia; devising and delivering Palimpsest City, an ACE-funded live/digital spoken word show; and writing for the Spalding Suite dance/theatre/basketball crossover show produced by Fuel.

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Bohdan founded the first poetry slam in Poland before moving to the UK to get a doctorate in poetry translation theory. He works as a Lead Tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective in London and Bellows Poetry Collective in Birmingham. Bohdan worked as Director of Education on the Spoken Word in Education MA course at Goldsmiths University, and since 2012 has been a regular Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. He also holds the post of Midlands Producer for Apples and Snakes, England’s leading spoken word organisation.

A busy man who has a lot of time for performers.

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Chris Hemmingway

The evening was concluded with a few more open mic-ers: Chris Hemmingway, Fran Smith, Jonny Precious, Rod Griffiths and finished with Chloe the Storyteller outside the chapel in the graveyard.

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Fran Smith

Chris performed his political Gove Cam poem, Fran is a healer and she treated us to some poetry spiritual in nature, Jonny performed a moving poem about a letter sent home from a soldier

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Jonny Precious

and Rod performed an amusing story about a serial killer. The punchline of which recently resurfaced in my head.

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Rod Griffiths

Chloe the Storyteller was dramatic, her story was spooky… chilling in fact, which set me up for the drive home alone!

Thanks, Anna for such a fantastic evening!

x anna

Anna Saunders


RELATED LINKS:

http://www.tylerkeevil.com/

http://www.thechapelarts.com/

* https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jun/22/teenage-boys-wear-skirts-to-school-protest-no-shorts-uniform-policy

Ledbury Poetry Festival – 21 Years of Gold!

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Ledbury Poetry Festival (30th June – 9th July)

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I long for a year where I can book time off work to do Ledbury properly but until I get a little more change in my pockets my approach is: spend time with the Programme, highlight everything of interest, check against diary schedule, re-check total cost, rethink the parts I really wouldn’t want to miss, check schedule again and invariably decide I can only manage 1 day – find the day with the maximum bounty and go!

This year, I kept up to date with events via Social Media and managed the last day. Last days at Poetry Festivals are full of tired people with passion in their hearts, glowing as brightly as it did on Day 1 and the celebratory atmosphere is impossible to miss.

SUNDAY 9th

I set out early and for the first time used the motorway networks (discovered this is a much quicker way of getting there)! I had my programme and itinerary scribbled out. My first stop was a new venue, Muse Cafe and what a gem, strong coffee and a tasty breakfast to boot. The breakfast filled me up all day, I had taken a picnic, not that it was needed as the streets were filled with Food Markets and plenty of choice. The smell was delicious.

Coffee Morning with Malika’s Kitchen – Fantastic Beasts

Malika’s Kitchen is an influential collective of London writers who performed at the Festival on the 8th July. Fantastic Beasts was the theme of this year’s festival. This was a relaxed open mic event hosted by Jill Abram.

I was still up at 1 A.M writing a poem for this event and as I sat there in glorious sunshine listening to a string of fascinating poems I realised that I have plenty of poems to suit the theme, several Mermaid (who hasn’t), one about Udine, The Frog Prince – I could go on. Unfortunately I did not have them with me, having only packed the one freshly inked piece.

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There was a pleasant mix of poetry from an anthology Peter Raynard provided as well. I love this idea, some writers never share their poetry publicly and there are a small percentage of poetry lovers who read it and never write it. Having a dip into book enables these people to take part. Jill encouraged people to use it. I enjoyed hearing Ted Hughes and Emily Dickinson amongst others.

I have not had a chance to upload my photos yet so have borrowed Myfanwy Fox’s instead.  Myfanwy Fox © 2017

20 Minutes with Jack Thacker

Jack is a PHD student who grew up in this rural area. He won the Charles Causeley Prize 2016 (the year after Jo Bell) and completed an incredible set in the Master’s House. I thoroughly enjoyed his reading and his teaching. The link between plough – to plough and verse.

Themetaphor is of plowing, of “turning” from one line to another ( vertere “to turn”) as a plowman does. Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

 

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University of Bristol © 2017

I then had a break – but Ledbury is a festival of poets and by the time I had walked a few metres I bumped into 7 people I knew. I also got to watch some of the events on the High Street – marking the 400th anniversary of the Market House and 21 years of Ledbury.

I got to see Samba Galez you could hear them from the Malika’s Kitchen event!

Before the next event I bumped into Antony & Jo Owen, which meant that I had company at The Master’s House for

20 minutes with Ellie Daghlian, Mel Pettitt, Catherine Choate.

Impressive undergraduate poetry from Bristol University Poetry Centre. It is always refreshing to hear from young voices with old heads and Mel Pettitte’s performance was particularly enthralling.

I then spent some time timing my walk between venues as I had a 10 minute gap between events later on. I caught some of Nick Lovell’s set in the High Street – Ledbury Slam Champion and caught up with Catherine Crosswell.

 

Book Art 17

Before heading off to the exhibitions at Weaver’s Gallery. I was particularly interested in Book Art 17 and hope that Helen Ivory managed to glimpse this when her and Martin made it to Ledbury on Friday. I wish I could have spent more time there immersing myself in this stunning work.

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https://johnnyr66.wordpress.com/exhibitions/

Ledbury used the following image in the festival programme.

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City of Eyes collage © JohnRose 2017

Found images, acrylic background, glue

View more artwork here

I also popped into ‘Fantasy’ the textile art exhibition upstairs in the Gallery. There were some striking pieces adorning the walls and as someone who struggles to sew a hemline, I am in awe of the craftsmanship involved in such endeavours.

 

Market Theatre

It was a particularly hot day in Ledbury and by the time I reached the Market Theatre I looked as if I could make use of a shower for sure!

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Jill Abram has been successfully running Stablemates in London for some time and one day I WILL get there to see it! But when I discovered they were coming to Ledbury this was a factor in making the decision on Sunday being the best day.

It has been great reading all of Jill’s updates from Ledbury and she has certainly been busy!

I bumped into poets in the Foyer, so another event I wasn’t on my own for.

Stablemates Poetry Salon Peepal Tree Press with Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha and Seni Seneviratne.

An incredible hour of poetry from new to me poets.

Roger Robinson, a dub-poet and founder of Malika’s Kitchen. His poetry empowers common man and he tackles extremely real subject matter. I enjoyed his set and the new work he is currently involved with.

Seni Seneviratne performed in the morning at Muse Cafe. Her work is carefully considered and doesn’t step gently around delicate issues of race and identity but rather spears straight into the heart of the matter.

© 2017 Seni Seneviratne. All Rights Reserved.

Nick Makoha is the Director of the Youth Poetry Network. Again a poet tackling hard subjects and inviting us to make better in the world.

It was insightful to have the Q&A with Jill and each poet before they performed. Love the format!

I thoroughly enjoyed my initiation to Stablemates but unfortunately the timings ran over (due to the heat of the venue) and I couldn’t make it to the main event I had planned to attend. I had no idea what the time was. It had already started before Stablemates finished & by the time I made it between venues, was halfway through!

20 Minutes with Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris

The launch of Inheritance the new collaborative pamphlet from Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris – Mother Milk Books. One of the main reasons I had chosen this day to go to Ledbury.

I attempted to listen from the window, (which those of you who know my navigational skills/ lack there of… can now amuse yourselves by imagining me clambering around the outside of the Master’s House trying to find the right window)! There was too much ambient noise. Next, (like Goldilocks), I tried the door, which was too thick to hear through, the wall was a little better.

I understand the policy not to let late comers enter, it is disruptive for the readers who perform right next to the door. But in the previous 20 Minutes with… events I went to people attempted to creep in (with the big old door and straight across a poem), I was upset that I couldn’t do the same. Especially as I had been to a previous event and that was the reason I wasn’t seated in time.

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I managed to get in at the end of the set and buy a copy of the book. Apologise and attempt to explain. I was saddened by this part of my day. I hope to catch other readings, I know they appear at Waterstones later this year and I have an idea in the melting pot too.

Fortunately Suz Winspear (former Worcestershire Poet Laureate) was performing on the High Street with DanceFest and once I realised there was no getting into the Launch I went and caught a moment or two amongst the crowds outside. My own fault perhaps for trying to be everywhere all at once!

I practically ran back to the Market Theatre for my final show of the day, which I not only made in time, but found the Stablemates were still in the foyer – so I got to chat to them briefly and tell them how touched I was by their performances and ideas.

Versopolis: A Celebration of Emerging European Poets

I had heard of this amazing project, 2 years ago, in the first year it ran. The project i a platform that unites 13 International festivals.

http://www.versopolis.com/about-us

I enjoy listening to translated poetry and poems written/read in a different language. This was an enjoyable show in which sometimes the poetry was translated, at other times it was read in the poet’s mother tongue or in English by the poet.

A warm eclectic range of voices and subjects and wonderful to watch Helen Mort in action and discover the writing of Nikolina Andova and Charlotte Van den Broeck, who blew the audience away with the poem about her and her mother. It was good to meet her afterwards – she seemed so unaware of what had happened the other side of the stage. I also got to hear more from Kayo Chingonyi, who I met at Verve Festival in February.

The whole show was amazing and I willed it not to finish. I could have happily sat through another round of words from this group. The poets were Tiziano Fratus (Italy), Charlotte Van den Broeck (Belgium), Nikolina Andova (Macedonia), Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), Yekta (France) and the UK counterparts, Kayo Chingonyi and Helen Mort.

VERSOPOLIS POETS

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/interview-versopolis-poet-helen-mort/

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/interview-versopolis-poet-nikolina-andova-macedonia/

I wanted to stay for Enemies but at this time was still working against poetry deadlines and other writing tasks, which I knew I had to face once home and I was booked for work on Monday. So I missed this show and just read the fabulous reviews. I have since managed to find many of the performances on You Tube. So not all was lost.

It was late by the time I made it home and my writing work kept me at my desk until 1 A.M – which was only possible on post-Ledbury adrenaline!

Until next year!

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RELATED LINKS

Many Podcasts available http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/series/festival-2017/

and films to watch http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/festival-films/

Updates: WPL, Artsfest and more!

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Poet Laureate Update: 

I am currently working on several projects.

  • Planning stages are underway for a writing workshop which will take place late August/early September involving Sculpture.
  • I am writing a bid to go to committee across the Atlantic for a Twin Town (City) project.
  • I have just opened a call for submissions of Poetry and Art for a digital magazine ‘Contour’. The first issue will include poems and art inspired by Place, that place being Worcestershire as well as some special interviews. Submission Guidelines
  • I have booked workshops in schools and am writing my first official WPL blog.
  • I have secured a Halloween Writing Event for children later in the year.
  • I am also taking headline and festival bookings as WPL.

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ARTSFEST: 

Droitwich Artsfest is underway, the official launch was Saturday 15th – I missed it because I had our college reunion. I have been working on this with the committee since late February.

I am gearing up for next weekend 22nd July which is a full on poetry day.

There will be poetry in St. Andrew’s Square from 11 AM. I am joined by Val Harrison, oakley (Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate) and Antony Owen, we will be performing until 3 PM followed by a local writing group from Redditch Pens & Needles, who will be performing until 4 PM.

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-and-literature-day/

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In the middle of this I am hot-footing over to Worcester to perform at Watch Out Worcester DanceFest, organised by the former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear.

http://www.dancefest.co.uk/watch-out-worcester

In the evening there is Poetry Extravaganza, a FREE event at Park’s Cafe, from 7 PM – for a 7:30 PM start. There will be 13 poets/writers performing.

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-extravaganza/

RELATED LINK:

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/news/droitwich-artsfest-to-get-under-way-tomorrow/

 

Artist in Residence

I will be the Artist in Residence at Droitwich Library on Friday 28th July from 10 AM – 12.

I have a whole range of poetry activities for all ages, or you can just stop by and chat.

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Performances

22nd July Poetry in St. Andrew’s Square, Artfest, Droitwich

22nd July Watch Out Worcester DanceFest

22nd July Poetry Extravaganza, Parks Cafe, Artfest, Droitwich

12th August LakeFest, Ledbury

12th August Picaroon & Prole Present Poetry on the Pier, Llandudno

23rd August Ben Parker’s Event Huntington Hall, Worcester

25th August Voices from the Shadows, Artefacts, Birmingham

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