Category Archives: Events

The Last Day of Hay – 31st May

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During the last weekend of Hay I was working hard on some deadlines of my own (more on that soon) so apologies for the delay in posting the last day of events (31st May). We also had an incredible mini-heatwave and the rain was already forecast, so the garden was calling too. You all got Hay Player though? £10 for a year, archived material from the mid-90s.

I had to watch the Shakespeare event from last night again because it was so enjoyable, delightful, well presented, theatrical and a such a feast that you need to have a second helping at least. It was a gorgeous event – and certainly made it to my Top 10!

Also there is something magical about Shakespeare in the morning!

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West in SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

 

William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays, 154 sonnets and a handful of longer poems and you can discover them all here. Each page of this unique collection contains an extract, which might be a famous poem, quote or scene, matched to the date. Allie Esiri’s introductions give her readers a new window into the work, time and life of the greatest writer in the English language.

Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year is perfect for reading or sharing and brings you Shakespeare’s best-known and best-loved classics alongside lesser known extracts. Esiri’s entertaining and insightful thoughts on each entry will fill your year with wonder, laughter, wisdom and wit.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
ISBN: 9781509890323 
© Waterstones 2020

This is definitely on the birthday list! Get your copy here.

I also re-watched David Mitchell talks to John Mitchinson, mainly because the sound kept dipping out yesterday and it also clashed with an event I was involved in.

HAY DAY 12 DAVID MITCHELL UTOPIA

It was a fun discussion about the book Utopia Avenue, music and the writing process and I wanted to give it my full attention. 

 

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On Sunday afternoon I watched Hallie Rubenhold and Lisa Taddeo. It was an interesting interview/discussion on the politics of gender.

Hallie Rubenhold and Lisa Taddeo

EIGHT WOMEN

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A conversation between the authors of two of the most successful non-fiction books of current times.

Rubenhold’s Ballie Gifford Prize-winning The Five is a reclamation of the lives of the women murdered by Jack the Ripper, and is the subject of a recent Hay Festival podcast.

Taddeo’s Three women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.:

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?
All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?
All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?

Chaired by Stephanie Merritt.

 

 

I then caught up with this event, with Diana Beresford-Kroeger. I knew about the importance of trees and how they communicate. This aspect of nature has been in my research radar for a few years and has manifested in poetry for various nature//eco projects.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger

BLACK MOUNTAINS COLLEGE LECTURE 2020

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The renowned Canadian botanist, biochemist and visionary has underpinned a quiet revolution in the way that we see trees. Her research includes the discovery of mother trees at the heart of a forest; the fact that trees are a living library, have a chemical language and communicate in a quantum world; the major idea that trees heal living creatures through the aerosols they release and that they carry a great wealth of natural antibiotics and other healing substances; and, perhaps most significantly, that planting trees can actively regulate the atmosphere and the oceans, and even stabilize our climate. In this talk she tells the story of how she came to uncover these startling insights of tree function and behaviour and explains why healthy intact forests are essential to the survival of humans on planet earth.

Black Mountains College asks: What is an education for the future? We know that the way we live our lives is broken and BMC  has designed an undergraduate degree dedicated to changing it.  Underpinned by neuroscience, the teaching methods, contextual learning, the collaborative culture and interdisciplinary curriculum will maximise the potential of students to re-engineer our society and systems for the better. Diana Beresford-Kroeger embodies exactly the kind of maverick inter-disciplinary thinking that BMC aims to foster.

Chaired by Owen Sheers and introduced by Ben Rawlence.

 

 

 

And I finished Hay with my ticket live to watch Sandi Toksvig close the festival.

It was everything I thought it would be entertaining, amusing, hard hitting, informative and necessary!

Sandi Toksvig talks to Lennie Goodings

BETWEEN THE STOPS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus: the long-awaited memoir from the star of QI and The Great British Bake Off.


HAY LAST DAY SANDI

Hay Festival The Final Weekend

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Once again I had the joy of catching events in real time. Starting with Hilary Mantel – which was an audio only event. Hay have been great at managing all sorts of event set ups digitally this year. It is wonderful to see people from all over the world too and over 10,000 people watching and that doesn’t include the overflow for these popular weekend events!

It will be released as a podcast next week if you miss the Overstream on You Tube or were unable to view. It was magical to hear her talk about her characters and the tricks of memories. Giving characters worthy opponents.

‘Finding an imaginative truth’ (Peter on using History). Hilary talks about the inventions used in the story, the personal and private life historic figures as well as dealing with multiple and differing accounts.

It was a fascinating and well structured interview. Love Hilary for admitting that she is a ‘paper cook’ (reading the recipes and not cooking them). me too! Although I don’t fancy most of the historical dishes I know of.

“If you knock on those doors your characters are always there waiting for you.”

Hilary Mantel talks to Peter Florence

THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The novelist discusses the final volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies won the Booker Prize. Spoiler alert – please save this gig for when you’ve finished the book…

You can hear Hilary Mantel discuss Bring Up the Bodies at Hay 2012 on HayPlayer

IT WILL BE RELEASED AS THE HAY FESTIVAL PODCAST ON THURSDAY 4 JUNE

This event will be audio only in a special edition of the Hay Festival Podcast
HAY Day 12 Hilary Mantel
Hilary, like Inua Ellams(Poetry) earlier in the week also picked up the Hay Prize for Prose, unfortunately as this was pre-recorded audio we didn’t get to witness her response, but she did send a message.
I was really looking forward to take a break today with this one, recorded and beamed again to over 10,000 people and Allie was live with us on chat, which was special – like Jackie Morris the other day.
Great idea for Shakespeare every day of the year. Allie was amusing and informative and she was reading from her book, I know a fair bit and still learnt more. This is a read anybody who enjoys Shakespeare will cherish. It is also clever how the calendar days and chosen text reflect significant modern events. I cherished this event.
Dominic West brought Shakespeare alive for us and made it look easy! Helena as Shylock was brilliant – I am so glad that they did it this way, after all in Shakespeare’s day boys had to play the female roles.
And they included sonnets!
I had to miss part of the live event due to overlapping double bookings (even in Lockdown)! But I planned to re-watch it all again anyway. It was a highlight event – superb!
And I now have another book to add to my Birthday wish list!
‘Shakespeare anchors us to our humanity.’

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West

SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Take a journey through the year with Shakespeare, and join curator Allie Esiri and acclaimed actors for this illuminating celebration of the greatest writer in the English language. The show will include insights into Shakespeare’s work and times alongside dazzling readings of some of his best-loved – and lesser known – scenes, soliloquies and sonnets.

IF THE CROWDCAST REGISTRATION FOR THIS EVENT IS FULL. It was also streamed LIVE on the You Tube channel. 

 

 

I knew I would already be in a different place on the internet when this started but I decided to catch some of it live and then do a catch up watch later – because a new book from David Mitchell is a treat.

 

David Mitchell talks to John Mitchinson

UTOPIA AVENUE – EXCLUSIVE HAY PREVIEW

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

‘The great rock and roll novel – an epic love letter to the greatest music ever made and the book the music has always deserved’ Tony Parsons.

Utopia Avenue might be the most curious British band you’ve never heard of.

Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, folksinger Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss, guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet and jazz drummer Griff Griffin together created a unique sound, with lyrics that captured their turbulent times. The band produced only two albums in two years, yet their musical legacy lives on.

This is the story of Utopia Avenue’s brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker – a multi-faceted tale of dreams, drugs, love, sexuality, madness and grief; of stardom’s wobbly ladder and fame’s Faustian pact; and of the collision between youthful idealism and jaded reality as the Sixties drew to a close.

Above all, this bewitching novel celebrates the power of music to connect across divides, define an era and thrill the soul.

David Mitchell’s novels include Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, The Bone Clocks, Slade House and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Q&A.

John Mitchinson is the founder of the innovative publisher Unbound.

 

 

 

I have been looking forward to this since I booked tickets but the buffering made it almost impossible to watch in real time. Considering it was a recorded event it didn’t feel like it and I enjoyed the readings and music.

Polly Samson and David Gilmour

A THEATRE FOR DREAMERS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A special performance and Q&A with the novelist and guitarist celebrating A Theatre for Dreamers.  1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.

This event is prerecorded, but there will be a  live Q&A afterwards.

 

Hay Festival Yesterday

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It has been a truly wonderful festival so far. I discovered the Hay Player is available for just £10 for a year and the films they have archived go back as far as 1995, so if you are in a position to invest/buy anything right now you could have all of this Hay material for less than one book costs! Over 8000 talks.

I started with Devi Sridhar, who is a great speaker (academic) and answered the questions well. It made a lot of sense to listen to analysis from a global health specialist who is not afraid to be declarative. She talked with sense about the public health response, global rules and the speed of research. Very informative, straight talk, if only she was a politician!

Devi Sridhar

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

An exacting analysis of the responses to the covid-19 pandemic from one of the world’s most respected experts. Professor Sridhar is chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, and co-author with Chelsea Clinton of Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? Chaired by Daniel Davis.

HAY Devi

Then as a complete change of pace I went to listen to Hannah Rothschild talk about her new novel. I enjoyed listening to Hannah talking about her characters and wish there had been slightly more coverage of her book. She talked with honesty about her career, male heavy boards and the needs to diversify. Although I had to smile at her dressing down being an M&S suit! How the other half and all that. I found it mildly frustrating that Rosie Boycott interrupted answers throughout the interview.

There was a discussion about COVID/Social Distancing and the problems with theatres/museums. 70% of Theatres may disappear by Christmas unless the government can fund a rescue package. Which I have to say seems highly unlikely.

Regional museums and theatres are in real crisis – our Arts Centre has shut and our Museum of Historic Buildings is under threat also.

Hannah Rothschild talks to Rosie Boycott

FICTIONS: HOUSE OF TRELAWNEY

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The new novel from the author of The Improbability of Love, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, is a mischievous satire of English money and class. The seat of the Trelawney family for over 800 years, Trelawney Castle was once the jewel of the Cornish coast. Each successive Earl spent with abandon, turning the house and grounds into a sprawling, extravagant palimpsest of wings, turrets and follies. But recent generations have been better at spending than making money. Now living in isolated penury, unable to communicate with each other or the rest of the world, the family are running out of options. Three unexpected events will hasten their demise: the sudden appearance of a new relation, an illegitimate, headstrong, beautiful girl; an unscrupulous American hedge fund manager determined to exact revenge; and the crash of 2008. A love story and social satire set in the parallel and seemingly unconnected worlds of the British aristocracy and high finance, House of Trelawney is also the story of lost and found friendships between three women. One of them will die; another will discover her vocation; and the third will find love.

Hay Hannah

 

This was another interesting project to discover. They talked about the collective trauma that Europeans suffered (and recovered from). War, conflict and the importance of what it means to be European.

‘There is unlimited potential to do things differently.’

HAY EUR BOOK

Kapka Kassabova, Caroline Muscat, Zsofia Bán and Sophie Hughes

EUROPA 28

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

We celebrate four of the contributors to the Hay Festival Europa 28 project, part of the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020. With so many flare-ups of nationalism and isolationism in recent years, there is a sense that Europe needs to be fixed, or, at the very least, profoundly reconfigured; whether it is to address the grievances of those feeling disenfranchised from it, or to improve social cohesion, or even continue to exist as a democratic transnational entity.

Bringing together 28 acclaimed women writers, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs from across Europe, this powerful and timely anthology looks at an ever-changing Europe from a variety of different perspectives and offers hope and insight into how we might begin to rebuild.

Kassabova is Bulgarian by birth and lives in Scotland. She is the author of Street Without a Name, Border and To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace. Muscat is one of Malta’s leading investigative journalists. She contributed to and co-edited the book, Invicta: The Life and Work of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Bán is a Hungarian writer, critic and scholar. Her recent works include the novel, Night School: A Reader for Grownups, and The Summer of Our Discontent. Chaired by Hughes, a leading literary translator and the editor of the Europa 28 anthology.

 

DO NOT miss this one!

Ingrid Persaud and Jessie Burton

FICTIONS: LOVE AFTER LOVE – THE CONFESSION

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this event, the authors sharing their lockdown pleasure – a new dog and a box set. It was good to hear about the books and the readings. It was a wonderful interview.

Jessie Burton talking about Art and how to manage yourself within that was good. She was talking about Connie (her character) at the time. And Ingrid Persaud talking about appreciating the state of non-belonging and existing in space where you’re allowed to be the insider/outsider. Her book crosses three countries, as has her life. This is how my younger self felt as I moved around so often and didn’t feel roots set anywhere other than in the memory of childhood.

There were fascinating answers and discussion from both authors. On love, the burden of love, life, childhood, distance, relationships between characters, on writing, editing and a whole myriad of topics. A very rich event.

Jessie tells us to ‘trust the process’ something I have heard so many times in events in the past 3 months and something I know but I find hard to do. Important for writing well though. I could have listened to this for hours, it was magical! Lennie Goodings excelled in her role as chair/interviewer.

Although I appreciate the emphasis this year on COVID and science it feels like Hay when you watch authors talk about books. Fiction is healing. As Jessie said ‘never underestimate the power of reading and the comfort it can bring, just the act of a private meditation like that is still so valuable.’ And Ingrid has found it comforting to read during lockdown, ‘I can’t leave my own mind without reading.’ I know I could choose not to watch the other events, but I am curious – it’s not always a bad quality.

Ingrid Persaud and Jessie Burton

FICTIONS: LOVE AFTER LOVE – THE CONFESSION

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

A conversation with two extraordinarily gifted and compelling novelists.

Persaud’s Love After Love introduces: Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, who form an unconventional household, happy in their differences, as they build a home together. Home: the place where your navel string is buried, keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world. Happy and loving they are, until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.

In Burton’s The Confession: One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever..

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, The Confession is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves. 

Chaired by Lennie Goodings, author of A Bite of the Apple: A Life with Books, Writers at Virago.

 

After leaving the magic of this event (which for me is in my top 3 events so far along with An Evening with an Immigrant… Inua Ellams and A Night in with the Wordsworths) but as I had watched the first film on the Europa project I thought I would attend the second one too.

Which was an interesting discussion between the authors on identity, Brexit, lack of solidarity, xenophobia, social economic transformation, can we re-imagine this Europe after the pandemic. Local state trusting being better than national state, a collective fear and new boundary lines, individual responsibilities. Solace with these new online communities. Female leaders. The refugee crisis. They covered a range of ideas.

On talking about the anthology – the growth of mythical stories, stories that are close to our hearts, mean something to us. The pandemic as a moment of potential to create change. Deep participation. Connect together to thrive and grow. New social models are growing, providing the seeds of how we could redesign.

‘There’s no need for a story, life alone is enough.’ – Beckett opens a discussion to the narratives we have been given, the stories we tell ourselves. Who benefits? … The scars of Europe. Challenging the archetypes. Finding new ways to listen. ‘Freedom starts in the republic of the imagination.’

This event is definitely worth watching. Another one NOT TO MISS!

Leïla Slimani, Lisa Dwan, Hilary Cottam and Sophie Hughes

EUROPA 28 – A SENSE OF RENEWAL

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

We celebrate three more contributors to the Hay Festival Europa 28 project, part of the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020.

Moroccan-born Slimani won the Prix Goncourt for her novel Lullaby, and is the author of Adèle and Sex and Lies. Dwan is an Irish actor whose Beckett performances have toured the world. She has recently collaborated with Colm Toibín and Margaret Atwood. Cottam is a social activist and the author of Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us & Revolutionise the Welfare State. They talk to Sophie Hughes.

 

I then watched this event on catch up. It feels like an honour to watch a Nobel Prize winner. Amazing to think that the image of the globe was embargoed, even though they knew before the image appeared that the Earth was round. I enjoyed learning more about the planets. I am fascinated by Cosmology, I have never seen a sunspot close up, or a map of the star neighbourhood! It was amazing. Technical, as you would expect from James Peebles.

James Peebles

COSMOLOGY’S CENTURY

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A spectacularly illustrated lecture by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist P. J. E. Peebles, tells the story of cosmology from Einstein to today. Modern cosmology began a century ago with Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and his notion of a homogenous, philosophically satisfying cosmos. Cosmology’s Century is the story of how generations of scientists built on these thoughts and many new measurements to arrive at a well-tested physical theory of the structure and evolution of our expanding universe.

 

And on replay I caught the final event of Tuesday with poet Eric Ngalle Charles.

This was a great finish to a day filled with wonder and inspiration. I would have been exhausted had I been in real life Hay!

A world citizen with so much to teach us Gill said in the comments and that is so true.

Eric Ngalle Charles talks to Peter Florence

I, ERIC NGALLE: ONE MAN’S JOURNEY CROSSING CONTINENTS FROM AFRICA TO EUROPE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

We celebrate the extraordinary autobiography of the Wales-based playwright and poet. Eric Ngalle thought he was leaving Cameroon for a better life… Instead of arriving in Belgium to study for a degree in economics he ended up in one of the last countries he would have chosen to visit – Russia. Having seen his passport stolen, Eric endured nearly two years battling a hostile environment as an illegal immigrant while struggling with the betrayal that tore his family apart and prompted his exit. This painfully honest and often brutal account of being trapped in a subculture of deceit and crime gives a rare glimpse behind the headlines of a global concern.

HAY Eric

The Missing Bits & the Bits I Missed

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exit Last summer I was incredibly lucky to fly to Western Australia as one of the International Guest Poets at Perth Poetry Festival and I will be blogging about some of the adventure over the coming months. I didn’t have much time once I was back on UK soil as I had bookings and the tail-end of a summer to spend with Mr. G, as well as going back to work. Just as I was making videos and writing a review, I ended up in hospital with an unexpected operation. So nearly 12 months later… better late than never. Many people believe the myth that the problems I have suffered were as a result of this travel and the phenomenally long trip I had on my return to save some pennies! It was not the cause of my problems. My time in Perth was a joy and I can’t wait to share it with you!

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September was fairly packed – you can read the review here

My last performance was National Poetry Day, my health was already crooked, but I had been booked and didn’t want to miss NPD. Cut from the same cloth as my dad, do not miss a gig.

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It was a wonderful evening spent with fellow Poets Laureate Tim Cranmore, Heather Wastie, Suz Winspear and Betti Moretti and I had a lot of fun.

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I also particularly enjoyed going out for a meal beforehand and how much the audience enjoyed the show. Tim was a trouper for organising the event and it was pleasure to attend, despite being tanked up on antibiotics and painkillers!

 

Then came a whole series of things I had to miss. I missed so months of events, book launches, stanza meetings and editing groups. I had to pull all my Autumn/Winter bookings and by the time 2019 happened I had come off social media as I couldn’t deal with everything I was missing. I had a booking I made in June 2018 and a m/s accepted in July 2018 to edit and I couldn’t even manage to start working on these until March! I basically ceased to exist for a 1/4 of a year! 

October

I missed Swindon Poetry Festival as I was in hospital the day I was due to travel down, I had to pull out of a Guest Reading and Workshop for Brum Stanza, I missed the WLF Mental Health Event and a Reading for one in Malvern, I missed the DAN exhibition at Hanbury Hall which I was organising poets ekphrastic writing opportunities and performances for. I had to write my poems this year from photos sent to me by organisers and friends, this was the only writing I did and I didn’t manage that until December.

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My poem Wild Lilies and the Beauty of Abandoned Milk Bottles placed 1st in The Ring 21 Miles Poetry Competition and there was a digital exhibition 15th-28th Oct. at The Hive and a reading. I had only been out of hospital a week and was only really awake to take the daily dose of 27 tablets!

You can find the winning entry here

I won a tent and Mr.G and I can’t wait to use it! I cannot lie on the floor (or get back up) at the moment – so this will have to wait.

I missed being a Guest Reader for Neil Richards’ Book Launch.

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Wings made from the muscle of a river

November

The only event I managed thanks to the kindness of a lift and gentle persuasion from friends was Roy McFarlane’s Book Launch in Birmingham. I had to take 4 tablets during the course of it (and it wasn’t a long night) and the worst thing for me was I couldn’t hug anyone. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was a sort of swansong as that was pretty much the last thing I managed. Fortunately it was before I slipped discs in my back so I could still walk and sit! I held myself the whole time – but also didn’t want to miss it.

It was an incredible night which lifted my spirits. The room was full of creativity and love.

The Healing Next Time Cover

Cover artwork   ©   Barbara Walker

The book itself is a project Roy told me about early on in the process and is a powerful body of work.

The Healing Next Time

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I missed Remembrance events, a reading before the silence in a local town’s ceremony, organised by the Rotary and an evening in Worcester, Beacon Lighting. This is the first year I have been asked to participate in such events and it would have been an honour.

I missed the Verve Festival Pre-Launch Party and attempted and failed to edit my manuscript.

I missed deadlines on exhibition poetry and publishing the 4th issue of Contour (still outstanding), I missed performing at the newly opened Sandon Hall for Ben Parker’s event and sadly I missed out on a trip to Voiron for the Festival. voiron 2018 I had flights booked and everything! I couldn’t get a refund, but if I am well enough I can use the cost to cover a ticket somewhere European this summer.

I was also unable to take a booking for a special Poetry Night Roy McFarlane organised, a Q&A chat show style poetry panel.

December

By this time I had stopped taking any new bookings and resigned myself to life on the sofa, for a long while I had to live downstairs because I couldn’t make it upstairs! I still had to pull bookings for Guest Poet at Jennie Farley’s Book Launch for Hex.

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I had to cancel Meet the Authors, an event organised by Sue Johnson for Evesham Festival of Words. I had not been able to write for all this time and the panic set in about whether I would ever again.

I organised one event for the Hanbury Hall Poets to read at Park’s Cafe for the DAN artists. It was a great night and once again the only thing I did in December.

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2019 Jan – May

In the new year I decided to go to our local stanza meetings, they are held in homely comfort and do not last as long as event nights. Also I wasn’t writing or able to feel creative so it was necessary support for my soul. I had old poems to take and it was also a good challenge for an idled brain. I joined Worcester Film Poetry Collective, who meet monthly (in the comfort of home) with Elephant’s Footprint – this group led by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron has been a godsend. I have had lots of free time but have not been able to do much. Creating poetry films and animations takes an incredible amount of time, but currently 4+ hours is not difficult for me to find and it has been a fabulously rewarding way to spend an entire half day at a time.

By March I was able to think straight, off meds and able to tackle work on the now delayed manuscript. I was delighted to be a Guest Reader at Kathy Gee’s Book Launch for checkout (V. Press) and although I needed a special chair it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and lovely to reconnect with everyone.

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So much so that Kathy encouraged me to try Dear Listener the following week – which was when I realised I wasn’t ready. I tried again at the end of the Month with Poetry Bites, but couldn’t manage the 2nd half of the evening. However, listening to poetry enabled me to start writing again.

April was NaPoWriMo and this enabled me to crack that barrier and write freely. I have included some of my NaPo poems in recent sets and ended up with a few good ones.

By April/ May I started working on my festival show for Evesham Festival of Words and this month I have made the decision to try to get to some events every now and then.

June

I have managed Licensed to Rhyme, which was my first reading since Kathy’s Launch and that itself was my first reading for 6 months! It was a superb night. Great to see/hear everyone again and try out some edited NaPo poetry.

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The following night (last night), I read at the Worcestershire Litfest at an event organised by Suz Winspear ‘A Night at the Gallery’… more on that soon!

litfest night at gallery

Jilly Oxlade-Arnott © 2019

I had planned on going back this evening for the Anti-Poet, but my body isn’t ready, so I have to be sensible and give it a miss. But I am no longer absent from the scene and shall continue to strive for strength, mobility and pain management.

It leaves me with a very happy feeling to be back amongst poets, nestled in words.

Returning to the Land of the Living

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Alternative Title: Essay on Health!

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Like many adults the values instilled in us as youngsters steer the way we manage life. I was brought up to believe in working hard and only as an adult has my mum passed on the wisdom that all areas of life need or deserve 100%. Work, work has never been one of them and I am proud of my work ethic. Guilt is something I have not managed to shirk off from my informative years, so for me if you are off sick from work, that is that – you stay in bed and get better. However, when your post op body is weakened and you slip two discs in your back, staying in bed is not the thing to do and no one can expect you to put your entire life on hold whilst you recover!

The abridged version (it’s still quite long)!

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I was still on medication in the Spring which dictated what and how much I could do, (I have sciatica and my left leg/foot has been numb since November), I have been in Physio since November and my weeks have been filled with medical appointments, novels, trash TV, pyjamas & general convalescence. I have experienced the depression of long term sickness and the frustration of not being able to do much. I have advanced from not being able to bear any weight on my left leg to walking with a stick and nowadays, often without. I have a lot more mobility in my left foot thanks to Chair Pilates and a mum who encouraged me to do it. The Specialists I have seen all expect 9-12 months recovery time. I have been off work since the operation (which healed in March). I went to get the results of my MRI scan in May, which is when we discovered it was 2 slipped discs prolapsed on top of each other and the Advanced Physio talked to me about going back to work in the Autumn, but encouraged me to start back with Poeting (my term not his) as soon as possible. Mental Wellbeing and good for the soul.

It is with slightly less guilt that I have started to take his advice. I have a lot more spare time now I am down to 2 appointments a week and my brain works again now I am off medication. I am even having to renew my library books nowadays, I was devouring a novel every few days.

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In March I returned to my desk to work through the edits for my next pamphlet (sent when I was in hospital in October). By the beginning of June that was all ready for the next exciting stage of endorsement/cover design. I have managed to forget about the fact that it was scheduled for release earlier this year and accept the delay caused by ill health. I am truly grateful for the understanding and compassion of my publisher, V. Press. It will happen later this year and I will enjoy it more as I will be able to manage better physically!

Back in March, I found I could write again and attempted some poetry events (which I discovered I wasn’t quite ready for). I had to pull out of Festival bookings, performances, Guest Readings at Book Launches, talks and a trip to a Literature Festival in France this Winter and it has been really hard disconnecting from the poetry scene.

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In March I managed to read at Kathy Gee’s Book Launch for ‘checkout’ published by V. Press. I was super nervous as I hadn’t read in public since National Poetry Day (September)! It was a superb night.

I did a workshop, then I got an almighty case of hives and had a weekend where an ambulance was called and I ended up in A&E with breathing difficulties – although the ECG had shown there was no problem with my heart. I’d had a double mammogram a few days earlier and although it felt as if my sternum was inflamed it was more likely pulled chest muscles.

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A week later, I attempted my first event, Dear Listener, featuring the current Birmingham Poet Laureate Richard O’Brien. I went as audience and was not performing, it was hard (physically) and by the 2nd half I was stretched out at the back on a sofa. I tried again at the end of the month at Poetry Bites, this time I did an Open Mic slot, which I managed by leaning up against the radiator (which was on and very hot)! By the interval I was stretched out in the adjoining room on the sofa, where I listened to most of the 2nd half before hobbling back in to watch. After this I decided to call it quits and wait for my body to catch up with my mind.

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Since January 2019 I have attended Stanza meetings, Worcester Film Poetry Collective meetings and a few workshops thanks to friends who were kind enough to give me lifts, (the equivalent of about 12/163 days) although even these can be physically uncomfortable they’re based in people’s homes which tend to have more accommodating furniture than venues.

Fast forward to June with another wave of Festivals, a medical specialist giving me permission to get back into it and the ability to write again, I was keen to get back on the circuit. Plus I’d already committed to several Festival Events (one pre-op). And so far, I am managing… which is a huge relief!

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So welcome back to the blogging, I am reactivated. It is currently Worcestershire LitFest and I am working on a project show for Evesham Festival of Words at the end of June. I may have to miss Stratford Poetry Festival next week and Ledbury at the start of July. But I am doing what I can. One day I will be ready to take bookings again and in the meantime I give myself permission to enjoy a soft re-entry into the world I love and miss so much!

No Napping – The Bit Before NaPoWriMo 2019

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Over on the official NaPoWriMo site posts start at the beginning of March to get us ready for the epic task of writing a poem a day throughout April. This year I was not online much during March, my post op recovery has been slow (and painful) and I had a manuscript waiting to be edited that the publishers sent shortly before I was in hospital (October), so when my mind was finally back to being creative and medication was minimised, my first port of call was getting the edits back to the publishers.

Now I am still mainly offline and working through edits and preparing for a Festival in the summer – but apart from NaPoWriMo and LitWorld 2 Journal commitments I am not at the desk much, still recovering and still off work. My body needs a chance to heal and get stronger and that takes time. I have 5 physio activities to repeat several times a day, plus lots of medical appointments. I need to manage energy levels after the past 6 months so I missed the countdown/ lead up to NaPo 2019.

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Here are the pre-NaPo nuggets all in one place.

Have fun!


To read these posts in full head over to the official site http://www.napowrimo.net/

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March 1st 

Hello, poetry lovers!

It’s March 1, and that means that just one month separates us from the beginning of National/Global Poetry Writing Month! 

To get us started, here’s a poetry-related movie scene you might recognize! Take that, stilted approaches to the value of poems!

 

March 15th 

Today is March 15, and that means there’s only half a month to go until the beginning of National/Global Poetry Writing Month!

… while we’re counting down to April, we’ll be giving you occasional bouts of poetry and poetry-related content, as taken from popular films and television!

Today, why not check out this scene from the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, a romantic comedy starring, alongside Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell , a recitation of W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues.”

 

March 25th 

Hello, all! As of today, we have just one week to go until the start of National/Global Poetry Writing Month!

We hope you’re getting your pencils sharpened, your laptops charged, and all your finest glittery pens prepared for a full month of writing verse.

Finally, as we’ll be featuring poetry-related video resources throughout April, we’ll leave you for the time being with this oldie-but-goodie – Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” as interpreted by The Simpsons. Fair warning – they may have taken some, er, minor liberties with the text.

 

The 3 Day COUNTDOWN

March 29th 

Hello, all. There’s just three days left in March, and that means that there are only three days to go until NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2019.

To help you countdown, we’ll be posting a poetry-related move/tv clip each day until April 1 (at which point our video links will become a bit more “substantive”), and on March 31, we’ll have a special early-bird prompt for those of you for whom April begins a few hours before it does here at Na/GloPoWriMo headquarters.

The poet William Blake was a visionary, a religious mystic, and pretty much all-around weirdo. He also seems to exert a strange pull on scriptwriters, as you will find him being quoted in both Bull Durham (a pretty good movie about minor league baseball)

 

and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (a pretty awful movie about . . . raiding tombs),

 

as well as being paraphrased in the dystopian sci-fi classic Blade Runner.

 

March 30th 

Hello, all! There’s just two days until we start Na/GloPoWriMo 2019, otherwise known as “that month in which you write a poem a day for 30 days.”

Each day during the month, we’ll be bringing you a featured participant, a video resource, and an optional prompt. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with an early-bird prompt and another fun instance of poetry in the movies, but for today, we’ll leave you with this clip from Memphis Belle, a WWII movie in which an airman passes off the work of Y.B. Yeats for his own.

 

March 31st 

Hello, everybody! Na/GloPoWriMo officially begins tomorrow!

We have an early-bird prompt for those of you located in time zones where April 1 starts a few hours earlier than it does on the east coast of the United States, but first, let’s round out our pre-April set of movie/tv clips involving poetry.

Today, we bring you a clip from that classic Bill Murray comedy, Groundhog’s Day, wherein our hapless hero, who is kind of a self-centered jerk, is forced to repeat a day over and over again until he gets it “right.” In this clip, he mocks his love interest’s college study of French poetry. Bill, that’s no way to get a girl! After a few rounds, though, he’s actually reciting French poetry at her – now, that’s more like it.

Early-bird prompt

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poetic self-portrait. And specifically, we’d like you to write a poem in which you portray yourself in the guise of a historical or mythical figure. Does that sound a bit strange? Well, take a look at this poem by Mary-Kim Arnold, “Self Portrait as Semiramis,” or Tarfia Farzullah’s, “Self-Portrait as Artemis,” and perhaps you’ll get a sense of the possibilities.

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INKSPILL 2018 Writing Activity – The Knowledge

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From the Bench

 

In the next writing activity we invite you to write a short story or flash fiction. Spend 10 minutes writing down initial ideas from the prompt and then spend 30 minutes or more writing the first draft of your story.

Set an alarm on your phone or use this timer https://timer.onlineclock.net/ for 10 minutes.

From the Bench

Someone is sitting on a bench reading a newspaper article about a recent string of crimes. This person knows who did it.


Remember to click.

 

Idea originally posted by Melissa Dono on Wattpad

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Programme

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SATURDAY 27TH OCTOBER

DAY 1: Writing activities, Workshops, Guest Writers, Articles, Interviews, Book Promotions, Charity Fundraising and Poetry Film. The virtual Bookshop and Archives will also be open.

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9 AM – Welcome Video

 

WRITE TIME

INKSPILL WRITING 1

9:10 AM – GETTING INTO THE ZONE

Writing Activity 1: Playing with language.

9:20 AM – FROM THE BENCH

Writing Activity 2: A short story/flash fiction prompt (40 minutes)

 

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GUEST WRITERS

10 AM – Meet our Guest Writers

INKSPILL was founded in 2013, that first year I wrote all the posts and activities. We had a fun and successful weekend. From 2014 I invited Guests to take part. The weekend features interviews, promotions of their work/ projects and workshop exercises for you.

Meet this year’s Guests: Kate Garrett, Kevin Brooke, Elephant’s Footprint – Helen Dewbery & Chaucer Cameron. This weekend we are also featuring a previous Guest Writer (2015), Alison May with her latest publication.

10:00 Kate Garrett

10:10 Kevin Brooke

10:20 Elephant’s Footprint

 

Today’s featured writers are Kate Garrett & Elephant’s Footprint.

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10:30 AM – Interview with Guest Writer Kate Garrett

11:00 AM – Workshop with Kate Garrett

Join our Guest Writer for a Dark Workshop activity – Fear of the Known.



Make sure you break for Lunch – we will be back at 1 PM.

 


 

Inkspill news

1:00 PM Article – A Revolutionary Act: Samantha Zighelboim by Zachary Pace

 

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1: 30 PM Book Shop OPEN

Come and browse books by Kate Garrett our Guest Writer,

 

2:00 PM Guest Writer Kate Garrett Editor Interview

Find out about the books and journals Kate Garrett publishes and what is involved in the process of editing.

 

3:00 PM Simon Armitage

A Guardian Poem of the Week by Simon Armitage, including interviews and Magic Realism in fiction.

 

4:00 PM The Archive Opens

Delve into some posts from previous years of INKSPILL. Looking back at a selection of interviews, articles and workshops provided by some of our Guest Writers in 2014, 2015 & 2016.

 

6:00 PM Bonnie’s Crew with Guest Writer Kate Garrett

Find out more about this Charity Fundraising, how you can donate, submit, get involved.

 

7:00 PM Elephant’s Footprint Feature

Find out about our Guest Writers Chaucer Cameron & Helen Dewbery a.k.a – Elephant’s Footprint, including exclusive Poetry Film material.

8:00 PM Elephant’s Footprint Film

Enjoy some of the work developed and created by this dynamic Poetry Film duo.

 

9:00  PM Finish

Complete any notes/writing from today, comment on some of the posts – let us know how you are getting on.

 

 

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Our Guest Writers

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Our 6th Annual Writing Retreat kicks off tomorrow morning at 9 AM. We have a whole weekend of exciting writing scheduled for you including writing activities, videos, articles, workshops and interviews.

INKSPILL was established in 2013 when I started this blog and since 2014 we have featured Guest Writers:

2014 – Charlie Jordan, William Gallagher & Heather Wastie

2015 – David Calcutt, Alison May & Daniel Sluman

2016 – Gaia Harper, Roy McFarlane, featuring Deanne Gist

2017 – Stephen Daniels & Antony Owen

Last year we had launched the first WPL Contour Poetry Magazine Issue 1 Place during INKSPILL – this year the final WPL Edition will go LIVE during the weekend.

So who will be joining us this year?

 

Kate Garrett Poet/Writer & Editor

Kevin Brooke Writer YA/Children’s Novels

Elephant’s Footprint – Chaucer Cameron & Helen Dewbery

Featuring Alison May (Guest Writer in 2015) celebrating the release of her latest novel.

Review September 2018

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September – that rolled around quickly!

This has definitely been a month of admin tasks and preparation, also finding my feet again since coming home to UK soil. It took a while for my head to leave Australia after my incredible summer trip to Perth Poetry Festival. It has also been a month filled by projects, book launches and celebrating successes – other people’s as well as my own.

Week 1 

Kicked off with being the Half-ender at YES WE CANT in Walsall. The gig I returned to the UK for! It was a cracking night and a pleasure to have been asked to perform.

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It was great meeting Rob Barratt and on top of that I had a winning Lotto ticket (£1 – before you all get too excited) and an order for a fab new Poetry T-shirt… looks like Mr. G will have to get me something else for Christmas this year!

Read a full review here YES WE CANT

I had 3 poems published in a new project – which you can read more about in Week 4 of this review. One of the poems was a piece I wrote in Australia, so it is exciting for me to see it already out there.

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I arranged meetings and made festival bids for ATOTC and 30-40-60. I was invited to a European Arts Festival in France. I looked at several applications, which I subsequently decided against for now.

I was busy managing INKSPILL, working with our Guest Writers. INKSPILL is our FREE online annual writing retreat which always takes place on the last weekend of October.

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Look out for more NEWS on this coming soon!

I had a meeting about Poetry Projects for October and performances in November. I have been asked to take part in two Remembrance events this year, which is an honour.

I went to a Workshop delivered by Emily Wilkinson who is working on The Ring, 21 Miles project. It was a wonderfully creative afternoon which gave me inspiration for poems, so far I have managed to create a poetry film of 9 Haiku which is currently entered in the 21 competition.

 

A new project LitWorld2 Journal – Pic a Pocket Poems and Flashes is underway. Created by Sarah Leavesley it will feature a weekly poem which has been produced with an image, photo poetry and flash fiction. I am curating the Facebook side of the social media campaign. I created the Facebook group ready and Sarah has worked on a publication schedule. It launches before the end of the month and posts will appear on Fridays.

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I am very excited about the overall project and delighted to be able to support Sarah on it.

Unfortunately by the end of the week I was quite unwell but I did manage to get to Birmingham for Helen’s Book Launch.

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Friday saw the first of this month’s Book Launches. Unable Mother By Helen Calcutt – published by V. Press was launched at Waterstones, Birmingham. It was a deeply moving experience, one you can read all about here UNABLE MOTHER

I had a well deserved (and needed – ill) rest over the weekend with Mr. G. Although I was still at the desk proofing an article and dealing with another which had gone to print. I also worked on some poetry for a project which has been simmering away for a while and needs to be sent next week.

Week 2: 

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I was still ill – so much so that I visited the Drs. & got meds. It meant I was not well enough to go to Licensed to Rhyme who were celebrating a 2nd Birthday, I didn’t make it over to Brum Stanza for Jacqui Rowe or PTS for Nellie Cole or SpeakEasy for Kevin Brooke or Hereford for H.Arts Gallery and new exhibition by Molly Bythell (my Ledbury PoArtry partner). Failed on five fronts but was successful at getting better. I spent some time in bed, in lots of pain but resting (which is unusually sensible for me). It was a shame to miss so much poetry but I couldn’t have managed any of the journeys getting across to any of these events so had no choice.

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Some exciting news hit my inbox, something starting in November and something else that I am in awe of and still grinning from.

Saturday saw the launch of ‘Don’t Oil The Hinges’ the new WPL collection from Heather Wastie. It was a great night and having missed 4 poetry events really made up for my week out in ill-health limbo! You can read all about it here Don’t Oil The Hinges

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On Sunday I attended a workshop in Birmingham Waterstones, The Accidental Memoir. It was interesting and gave me two new poems, one new technique and another book for the bookshelf/reading pile.

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The Accidental Memoir workshop was taken by Anthony Cropper and we worked through several exercises in the book he co-produced with Eve Makis.

The Accidental Memoir truly is for all: writers and non-writers, teachers and students, the perfect book for anyone seeking inspiration or imaginative ways to explore their own life story.

This innovative concept was developed as an Arts Council project to help people tap into their own lives. Working with diverse groups from refugees to the elderly and prisoners, it has been a resounding success in unearthing stories that otherwise may never have been told.

Harper Collins © 2018

https://www.harpercollins.ca/9780008302030/the-accidental-memoir/

 

Week 3

This week I missed several Book Launches and Free Verse (London Book Fair), which I read at last year with Stephen Daniels for V. Press.

A lot of groundwork for INKSPILL started this week. I had an invitation to be part of a panel which I really wanted to do but the date in October is already booked up, I am hoping to be considered for the next one. I still feel angst when dates clash, October is an exceptionally busy month in the poetry calendar and there are several overlapping events.

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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 had several project poems to complete and managed to meet deadlines on these. We have all seen the workings of the next part of this project and I will be sharing it with you when I can.

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I also did a lot of editing and FINALLY made some submissions. I made the first of several films creating a montage of the Perth Poetry Festival, which will go live before INKSPILL (27th/28th October).

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This week also saw my Jinney Ring Sculpture Trail Workshop. This is the 2nd year I have facilitated poetry on the Trail and with some exceptional sculptures our inspiration was easily tapped.

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Unicorn – Priscilla Ham

It was a great morning and the techniques/forms I chose to explore were enjoyed by participants. We are now working on our poems for two months and the next stage will be preparing an exhibition at the Jinney Ring which will be up by December.

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An invite to perform next month dropped into my Inbox.

I spent the weekend writing to deadlines and working on the next new project for October.

Week 4:

Another week of preparation for INKSPILL and other writing deadlines and missed events like Poetry Bites. I started to promote National Poetry Day (4th October), I am sad to miss an event in Birmingham with Liz Berry, Roy McFarlane & Jane Commane.

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This event is also the night the new Birmingham Poet Laureate will be appointed. Still cannot believe Matt Windle has finished this two year role, but we all know how time like this flies! Birmingham Literature Festival National Poetry Day

I am delighted to be booked to perform alongside former and current Worcestershire Poets Laureate, as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival for National Poetry Day.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/national-poetry-day-2018-change/

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Back in July I had an invite to read at Livres à vous – A Festival of the Arts in Voiron, France. I wasn’t sure it would be possible and it took a while to make the decisions about travel. Coach and train is fairly cheap but takes a long time and I have to be available for work most days. Today I booked my tickets to fly.

When I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I completed a project called Twin Town between Droitwich and Voiron and some of the poets involved in that will hopefully be there. I am looking forward to it.

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My poetry film entry for The Ring was found and several poems Unlocked and .. submitted for the competition. You can see all the entries here https://thering21miles.wordpress.com/.

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A last minute booking came in to work with Year 7 pupils at Blessed Edwards in October,  fortunately I was free to accept. This will involve 4 poets looking at 4 elements and group writing with the pupils. I am doubly excited as I got FIRE! My Leo-heart burns!

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The first week of October is looking packed. A week of several double bookings another event I was invited to do A Night with… panel interview/performance/ relaxed Q & A which looks really good – I hope to make it on a different date. This in turn clashed with a book launch and that isn’t viable either. I have an open mic with an amazing headline/line up and the NPD and Swindon Poetry Festival to look forward to.

This week I wrote 4 new poems based on Masks and performed them at 42.

I took another 2 bookings for December. Wrote lots. Edited lots. AND…became the newest Director of Worcestershire LitFest! WLF Welcomes a New Director

LitWorld2 Journal was also released. This is Sarah Leavesley’s Photography/Art/Poetry Project and the first poem to be published is by Kathy Gee.

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.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/a-tale-of-two-cities-worcester-usa-uk-a-poetry-event-at-sprinkler-factory/

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I also got organised for Swindon Poetry Festival next week! Whoop! Ready to run at October full pelt now!

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