A Caparisoned Elephant by Brian Comber (Black Pear Press)
The month started with Brian Comber & Ade Couper’s joint Book Launch, a lovely event for which I was honoured to be Brian’s Guest Poet. I was delighted (and nervous) to be able to chose some of Brian’s poems to read alongside my own.
I adore this collection. I reviewed it and it was a manuscript I read and re-read… sometimes I wasn’t even working on my endorsement.
It was a joy and a pleasure and a really sunny afternoon (after UK’s exceptionally wet March). Lots of people turned out and there was an additional Zoom audience too.
You hear Shakespeare 400 – and think, hang on – we celebrated the 400th anniversary of his death back in 2016… and yes, we did. This year’s celebrations are to mark the First Folio, a collection of Shakespeare’s works and 400 years since the death of Anne Shakespeare.
The end of the day long birthday conference saw the Book Launch of Anne-thology: Poems Re-Presenting Anne Shakespeare. I am delighted to have a poem featured in this collection published by Broken Sleep Books. I decided that trying to get across in rush hour after work was a stretch too far but was fortunate enough to attend online. It was great to hear some poems from the book and I look forward to reading it cover to cover.
Hello waters… it has been a long while! Lots has happened since the Autumn post. I am here to start 2023’s NaPoWriMo on AWF but realise that there are huge gaps of blogging and news to share. I will write on some of this in detail in May, after NaPo. Until then here are the highlights:
Blasts from the Past
At the end of 2022 I was busy working on a major project, a book endorsement and planning for 2023 WLFF Festival.
My ATOTC (A Tale of Two Cities -2017/18) project was reinstated in the summer of 2022. This was call & response poetry between poets in Worcester UK and Worcester USA as part of my Poet Laureate year. What started with the idea of an online international reading soon became a 2nd edition project with new pairings and new poems. The result was an International Reading AND a book!
The original project was anthologised digitally as it involved over 45 poets and ran to 120 pages, sadly it was too large a project to publish traditionally.
This time we worked with a smaller group of poets (20) and Black Pear Press published the resulting anthology — which I have to say is an absolute bargain, the cheapest poetry book I know of and that is NO reflection in quality either of the product or content within, it is packed with magnificent poetry. It is a not-for-profit publication and you will find it for £2.83 which converts to $3.58. See, told you!
With huge thanks to Black Pear Press and Polly Stretton for joining me on managing and editing ATOTC II.
Can’t wait for the full post? Find out more here including a link to buy a copy:
This weekend I am a Guest Reader for Brian Comber at his Book Launch. Last year I was delighted to get a sneak preview of this collection when I wrote an endorsement.
I am involved in a project with WLFF, Bevere Gallery & Yew Tree Artist Studios who are running an exhibition of Art & Poetry with a competition linked to it, an open call to poets and artists in Worcestershire.
Five Worcestershire Poets Laureate & five artists were commissioned to work on the theme ‘Enough to See… but not enough to see by’.
Anne-thology – Poems Re-Presenting Anne Shakespeare by Broken Sleep Books.
Last year I had great fun researching to write my submission for this anthology. We were limited to one poem, so I am delighted mine made it through. Packed with amazing poems, some great commissioned poets and it’s lovely to see lots of friends in there too… and of course, Will himself.
Later this month there’s an Anthology Launch in Stratford.
I am delighted to be back on tech duties – although with this line up, I am not sure how I will concentrate on screen work.
The tour brings together a diverse selection of poets of all ages, cultures, styles and experience, designed to entice an audience that may never have experienced spoken word events before.
Sarah has been running spoken word events under her guise as The Quiet Compere for ten years.
Quiet Compere events are unique. There are no lengthy introductions to poets, no-one is designated as ‘top-of-the-bill’ – all platform performers considered equal in Sarah’s eyes. Each line-up boasts a varied and diverse mix of poets, ranging from established local poets, some new to the scene who are ready to stun audiences with their talent, plus a generous sprinkling of nationally well-known poets and performers.
Some poetry events are just magical! Mix the alchemy of Transatlantic poets writing call and response poems and you are sure to have a cracking reading. The power of hearing these poems performed by each poet was fabulous. Added to the words, the reunion of people, not just across the pond but within our own communities.
I have huge gratitude to every poet in this project. Polly Stretton is a marvel and without her, the gleam wouldn’t have been as bright as it was. I appreciate every ounce of work she has delivered since the summer.
We are currently editing the film for YouTube and then over the next few months will compile a print anthology with Black Pear Press.
It gives me great pleasure to announce a project that has been underway since the summer.
We did it again! Poets from Worcester UK and Worcester USA paired up to write call-and-response poems.
In the original project there was a UK launch and a USA reading, but thanks to the wonders of technology we will all be united on Sunday 30th October, the start time will be 18:00 GMT (UK) and 14:00 EDT (USA) the link for the online event will appear here and on the BPP Facebook Event Page on the day. And yes, that’s definitely 18:00 start time UK, our clocks fall back this weekend!
Black Pear Press are delighted to be part of this project and will host the online event.
Background ~ Every tale starts somewhere.
The Original ATOTC
Back in 2017, when I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I embarked on a huge transatlantic project linking poets in Worcester UK with those in Worcester MA USA.
It was a massive undertaking on both sides of the pond and a wonderful, fulfilling project involving 47 poets. You can read all about it here:
I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.
I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.
The plans I had bore some fruition in 2019 when I produced a show with some of the UK poets, lots of film work and the helpful narration of an American relative, for the Evesham Festival of Words.
It had been booked for the festival in 2018, before the Perth Poetry Festival in Australia and before my stint in hospital and my Annus horribilis. It was not quite the year I thought it would be and neither was 2020.
As our lives moved online I caught up with WCPA crew at some events and thought about joining forces to celebrate the collection again.
Roll on a few years, many poets are still in contact with their partners and one of the UK poets, Polly Stretton, had a conversation about doing just that.
After a few email exchanges with Rodger Martin and Bob Gill, an idea was floated to go beyond meeting online to read our original work… after some discussion we all agreed to repeat the Call & Response project. And ATOTC II was born.
Since then poets from the original team have been paired up to produce a new selection of poems, this time the theme was open and as before, there has been lots of fun! And this time after the reading, my future ideas for A Tale of Two Cities will bear fruit.
A huge thanks to Polly Stretton for all her management skills, for compiling the programme and organising the tech and assisting with the promotion. It has been a blast. Thanks also to Black Pear Press.
And thank you to all the poets in Worcester UK and from WCPA Worcester Massachusetts, for your wonderful partnerships and poems. I cannot wait to celebrate with you all!
Back in the midst of Lockdown (2020) I was involved with several projects in Sheffield. One of which was Lab 4 Living Experiencing Ageing workshops with Joan Healey and Sheffield Libraries.
The outcome of which has been an exhibition in Sheffield Library, an anthology of selected poems from the project and more recently (Friday 21st October) The Poetics of Ageing as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words.
‘… one of the UK’s largest literary festivals. Every October we bring the biggest names in local, regional, and international literary talent, media and the arts to South Yorkshire.‘ – University of Sheffield.
It was an enjoyable project to be involved in, I love it when research turns to poets and it was my involvement in this project which led me to become a part of DNA: Our Stories for the Resonate Festival at Warwick University back in January.
Prior to the original 2020 project, I’d written about Dementia and experienced first hand the effects of this and Alzheimer’s disease. Lab 4 Living also enabled me the space to write more elder poems, which was always important to me but has been made doubly so since the loss of my Great Aunty and Grandma earlier this year.
I shared some of my poems from the anthology at a recent event for Droitwich Arts Network and the impact and conversations with audience over the conception of them and the Lab 4 Living project were rewarding and insightful.
An exploration of the wondrous process of growing older through poetry and prose. The evening includes poetry from local writing groups about the felt experiences of ageing, readings of work by people living with dementia and provocative extracts from fiction. We hope to create a space where we can share, play, gain new insights and perhaps re-imagine what it is to be older. This event comes from a project ‘Re-imagining ageing’ run by Joan Healey and Claire Craig as part of Lab 4 Living’s 100 Year Life research.
“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright
Curated by Sheffield Hallam University
I also received a commission to write for a special event. More news on that soon.
A showcase of 10 emerging and established poets with a short open mic section hosted by Sarah L Dixon and Dave Pitt.
Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere of Huddersfield, is taking her unique show on a nine-date tour. Six live and three online events. This series will feature 73 performers.
The tour brings together a diverse selection of poets of all ages, cultures, styles and experience, designed to entice an audience that may never have experienced spoken word events before. Sarah has been running spoken word events under her guise as The Quiet Compere for eleven years.
Quiet Compere events are unique. There are no lengthy introductions to poets, no-one is designated as ‘top-of-the-bill’ – all performers considered equal in Sarah’s eyes. Each line-up boasts a varied and diverse mix of poets, ranging from established local poets, some new to the scene who are ready to stun audiences with their talent, plus a generous sprinkling of nationally well-known poets and performers.
I have been overjoyed to play a part in The Well/ Mindful Poetry events over the past few years, (since Lockdown 2020/21). For the 2nd year running I am delighted to have poetry included in the anthology.
The Book Launch happens today at The Mercantile Library, which is incredibly beautiful and in Cincinnati… however, if you are not you can still watch the event on Crowdcast, to register: book tickets for the Live Launch or reserve your spot virtually check here.
I am really looking forward to spending some of my Birthday celebrating with these poets and can’t wait to hear everyone’s words.
Hope you can join us!
Book cover artwork courtesy of @alexandraramirezarts Mindful Poetry Moments was incubated with @onbeing and virtual gatherings are supported by @cincyhive @wordplaycincy and @themercantilelib #TheWellWorld #TheWell #MindfulPoetryMoments #MindfulPoetry #Poetry #PoetryCollection #OnBeing #PoetryUnbound #Poems #Poets #Poet