Category Archives: Festival

National Poetry Day 2018 ~ Change

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It’s nearly here!

This year I have been invited to perform on National Poetry Day as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival.

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I performed as part of Credo last year at Elmslie House and it is a lovely venue. This year five Poets Laureate, including this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti, will be performing on 4th October. This event was organised by Tim Cranmore.

Autumn In Malvern Festival

The Autumn in Malvern Festival is a renowned series of artistic events & exhibitions held annually in the surroundings of the glorious Malvern Hills. Some of the most prestigious musicians, poets, writers, film makers and other artists perform during Autumn every year.

More information on Autumn Malvern Festival.

This video is from 2009 and includes Peter Smith – Artistic Director & Founder.

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This year’s beautiful design is the work of Chie Hosaka.

https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/free-education-resource-downloads/

This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change

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Review August 2018

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well this is the first post this month online but August was packed, PACKED with poetry. I am still catching up on some blog posts from June-July and now will be adding August to the pile.

Here’s the month in snapshot!


Before Perth Poetry Festival I blanked my diary out as much as possible and missed some fine Midlands poetry events.

Week 1: 

I did a lot of research for Perth Poetry Festival and signed up to an anthology which I was lucky enough to be online for when the thread was posted, a project that is so popular it has a reserve list (more on this later).

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The main event this week was a Book Launch in Cheltenham for a charity anthology that I was fortunate to have the shortest poem (apart from short form) I have ever written included in it. The event at Hatherley Manor was dreamy and wonderful and the book raises funds for the cat rescue charity New Start Cat Rescue Centre, Huntley, Gloucestershire.

I will be creating a full blog post soon (and link back here when I am done).

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This anthology ‘All a Cat Can Be’ was the brainchild of Sharon Larkin and I am privileged to be involved. It would make a great Christmas gift for any cat lover.

 

https://www.poetrybooks.co.uk/products/all-a-cat-can-be

“This book is as gloriously varied as the beloved cats it celebrates. Here you will find poems which are witty, thoughtful, moving, and light-footed. ‘All a Cat Can Be’ offers something to please every reader, while helping cats desperate for a good home. And the photographs are irresistible!” – Alison Brackenbury

Edited by Sharon Larkin and Sheila Macintyre.

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I also sent a poem to Lucy Dougan for her Monster Field Workshop.

Week 2 & 3

I started working on INKSPILL – annual online writing retreat right here on AWF. More on this soon. Secured this year’s Guest Writers and started research.

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I worked tirelessly for a fortnight attempting to get the final issue of Contour Poetry Magazine live before flying off to the Southern Hemisphere. I was at this point still waiting for copy, so did what any good editor should do and contacted the poets who had successfully made publication and shelved the remaining editorial until my return.

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COMING SOON!

And then I flew to Perth, WA.

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Where I had an incredible time (lots of posts to follow). It was an amazing festival and I did as much of it as I could!

 

Week 4

Was mainly jet lag and editing… not a workable combination.

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I managed to get myself back into Birmingham – it has been too long – over 12 months I think. I went to the Big White Shed Brum night and it was packed with poetry – wall to wall and heart through heart.

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I am going to write the evening up over the weekend if I have a chance but it was a special night. The fusion of East & West (Midlands). There is a cracking poetry scene in Nottingham and this evening was proof of fine work happening in the region.

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A soft spot for me as I started Spoken Word in the East Midlands in Leicester.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/cheltenham-big-white-shed-brum/

And I tie August up nicely with a night at Stanza.

I cannot believe the summer holidays are nearly over!

ArtsFest

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This Spring/Summer I have organised the poetry element for this festival. This is my 2nd year working alongside the Droitwich Arts Network team. The events happened in the final week of the month long festival which covers the whole spectrum of the Arts and has an extensive full programme. This year saw the introduction of Dance to the festival. It has been a pleasure to see it grow in success year on year.

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http://droitwichartsfest.org/events/

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This year a couple of Poetry Events also slipped into Week 3. Charley Barnes’ Book Launch for A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache and our Poetry show 30-40-60

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/a-z-hearted-guide-to-heartache-by-charley-barnes-book-launch/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/the-return-of-30-40-60/

I was a Guest Poet at the Book Launch and organised 30-40-60 along with Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – both events were outside of my remit of festival work.

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Saturday 21st July

Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Arts in View Members of Droitwich Arts Network engaged with the public in Victoria Square. Organised by Peter Hawkins.

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The Prose Readings in the square took place from 10:30- 12:30 Led by Carla Kovac, with writers Sharon Grigg, Jack Walsh, and Venessa Morgan.

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Poetry in the Square 2 – 4 PM

I booked John Mills & Liz Mills to come and perform poetry in St. Andrew’s Square (Town Centre) during the day. We originally had Roy McFarlane booked in too, but then he got called away… to AMERICA!

The three of us kept shoppers entertained for 2 hours. We met a few local poets and talked poetry to a few interested individuals.

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Here are a few extra pictures taken on my phone.

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The evening Poetry Event took place in Victoria Square.

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Poetry Extravaganza is usually an open mic evening, however this year we had an Open Mic in the first half and ATOTC – A Tale of Two Cities UK Reading in the second half.

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ATOTC was my WPL Legacy project between Worcester MA, USA and Worcester UK. 9 Poets from the 24 UK Poets came to perform the work they created with their American partners.

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It was fantastic to hear it all and it worked really well. Bigger plans afoot for ATOTC in 2019, the USA reading happens in September.

Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network – unless otherwise stated.

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Helen Karakashian – The Chair of Droitwich Arts Network introduced the evening.

The Open Mic was MCed by Charley Barnes.

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Michael Thomas kicked off an enjoyable open mic section.

 

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Terry Baldock

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Maggie Doyle

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Holly Magill

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Then after an interval I MCed the second half – ATOTC.

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After a short introduction about the project Charley Barnes started the UK Readings. We each read our call poems and our partner’s response poems from the USA.

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Charley Barnes with Henry Walters

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Maggie Doyle with Maura MacNeil

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Nina Lewis with Linda Warren

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Derek Littlewood with Rodger Martin

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Io Osborn with Kyle Potvin

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Liz Parkes with Eve Rifkah

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Stevie Quick with Claire Mowbray Golding

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Polly Stretton with Susan Elizabeth Sweeney

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Michael W. Thomas with Gordo Elliot

Then we read around again, this time starting with our partner’s call poems and then our response.

Issue 3 of Contour Poetry Magazine Special ATOTC Edition can be read in full (all 116 pages) here.

It was an amazing, well attended evening and enjoyed by all!

 

30-40-60 Performance Review

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As part of the Artsfest Programme this year we performed 30-40-60 for the first time since 2017.

We are delighted to have received a review of our show.

Read the full review here http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/performance–arts.html


30-40-60 …a three-woman poetry-show complete with multi-media elements galore. 

Moving through the complexities of womanhood and a female life at varying stages, Lewis, Walker and Gee combine their works seamlessly, borrowing from each other’s works wonderfully to breathe a new life into many of their respective poems. The vocal delivery throughout was clear and concise while the poems were shared out across the three separate voices too, allowing the collaborative feel of the show to really come through. All three performed with care and control over their work and indeed each other’s, showing just how much time, effort, and synchronisation has gone into the planning of this. 

Having read the three collections that the show is made up from, what struck me as particularly wonderful is how these poems are made new by this new-style delivery, complete with musical and visual accompaniments – thanks to Lewis’ film addition to the show. 

… empowered, well-put together, and downright inspiring, thanks to the strong feminist themes and defiant tones that come through from the off – and the authors themselves don’t ease off that pedal until the final music plays. 

A well-polished and thought-provoking collaboration…

…reminding listeners what stunning writers they all are in their own rights…

© 2018 MAD HATTER REVIEWS MHR

The Return of 30-40-60

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I was delighted when Artsfest booked our 30-40-60 Poetry Show as part of the 2018 Programme. It has been a year since Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and I performed this work… so as soon as we had news of it being accepted we organised a rehearsal.

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The rehearsal was great fun, the run-through was barely problematic and we found the right cables for all the equipment.

Unfortunately, due a Windows 10 update I lost some of the original files and with one glitch on the film (it is a media show/performance), I had no choice but to start the process of film-making over again. This was a lesson in backing up files but actually, as some of our audience had seen the 2017 performance at Worcestershire LitFest, I was happy we had new media to entertain them, with deeper connectivity to the script.

It took a whole day, but it is backed up!

Kathy worked hard on producing new programmes and Claire took over the social media drive and promotion.

Fast forward into the following week and we all met excitedly in St. Andrew’s Church, Droitwich to set up the media, lights and sound for our show, with help from Rhys Jones.

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With the stage set and an introduction from Rhys Jones, we kicked off with open mic sets from: Janet King, Nigel Hutchinson, Ian Glass and Charley Barnes and then performed the show.

Photographs © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

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It was a great evening and an appreciative audience.

I approached Kathy and Claire with the idea in late spring 2017, I had the idea before Fragile Houses was published. We worked on the show for several months. It was quick and easy to compile as our work complimented the themes and was easy (ish) to structure, the time consuming side was rehearsals and technical work.

We hope to do more with this show next year. If you are interested please let us know.

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We received great feedback again this year and even bagged a review!

http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/performance–arts.html

 

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.com/p/bookshop.html

A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache by Charley Barnes – Book Launch

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Sometimes in the writing world you have to keep secrets, occasionally even official embargo’s are placed on you. I knew Charley Barnes was joining V. Press and I was delighted (but wasn’t allowed to announce my joy)!

So when Charley asked me to be one of her Guest Poets I felt doubly honoured. During the evening Claire Walker and I discovered just how influential we had been supporting Charley’s dive into the publication of poetry. It is wonderful when you realise the impact you have made on someone’s writing goals. I am in debt to those who have helped me realise mine and know how it feels. There were nearly tears!

So let’s backtrack a little. Charley has just published her debut collection with V. Press ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’ and it is a fabulous pamphlet, full of life, love, difficulties and lessons.

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It was released on the 11th July and the Book Launch took place on the 14th. Charley’s Guest Poets were myself, Holly Magill, Claire Walker and Sarah Leavesley.

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It was a fantastic celebration of life and poetry and all took place (as many V. Press launches do), at the wonderful Park’s Cafe in Droitwich. It was made extra special by falling into the Artsfest and being advertised as part of the Festival programme.

Which also meant Rhys Jones (Droitwich Arts Network) was in attendance with his camera to capture some spectacular moments throughout the evening.

All photographs © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network, unless otherwise stated.

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After an introduction which nearly made me blub I was the first Guest Reader. I had compiled a set which was my own A Z-hearted Guide through heartache and hoped that Charley enjoyed it. I did think (afterwards) that I should have done some of her favourite poems of mine. Hindsight…

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My set included a brand new poem and some I had not performed before.

Next was Holly Magill who treated us to a set from her own debut pamphlet, The Becoming of Lady Flambé’, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Another strong collection of Poetry.

the becoming holly magill More information here. The book was published in June and Holly’s official launch happens later this summer.

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Then Charley treated us to poems from her NEW book!

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Before an interval of book sales and signing! Although I had plenty of opportunities to buy the pamphlet, I made myself wait until the launch. It is a bit like waiting for Christmas and is something I tend to force myself to do whenever possible!

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You can buy a copy for yourselves here and can also read a sample poem from the collection.

“The poems in A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache will make you re-think your relationship with pizza, garlic bread and your mobile phone. These sharp, sad and wry observations – on the reality of living with mental illness and disability, the heartbreak of the everyday, and perseverance despite everything – capture what it is to be twenty-something, in love, and healing through food. This is an exciting debut pamphlet from a new and honest voice.” Jenna Clake

“In her debut pamphlet, Charley Barnes examines the reality of heartbreak and its different forms, highlighting how aspects of modern society can play – often brutally – on our insecurities: the wish to be prettier, more popular, more lovable. These poems deftly explore the bitter, lasting sting of loss and how it shapes us. Yet there is also the tenderness of possibility at play – a sweetness to offset the sharpness encountered by a young woman trying to navigate her way; a knowing, self-deprecating humour that shines through, even in dark experiences. There is a wisdom of the importance of nurturing here, accompanied by the will that, whatever happens, ‘you have to keep going, don’t you?’ (‘The lie my mum told me’).” Claire Walker

Then came the second half of the evening with Guest Poet, Claire Walker. I always enjoy listening to Claire’s work and those hindsight fairies made it to her door, as she delivered a set including some of Charley’s favourite poems.

Additional treasure came from her recount of the love her girls have for Charley… or Charley Barnes as they call her.

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It all starts with an acorn‘, a poem in Charley’s pamphlet will reveal a little more to you.

Sarah Leavesley a prolific poet in her own right and editor/publisher at V. Press was the final Guest Poet. It was good to hear some poems from her latest collection again, having recently enjoyed her own launch of How to Grow Matches – published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

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This collection was shortlisted for the  International Rubery Book Award 2018.

The evening concluded with another wonderful set from Charley, who had mainly shared her more lighthearted work in the first half and waited for the end to take our breath away with the more serious poems in her book.

A true gift of an evening. Thoroughly enjoyed by us all, as captured here in this group shot!

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© Harriet Barnes – whose direction made this photo what it is.

A fantastic night – five poets on a high for sometime after the Launch!

Evesham Festival of Words

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Back at the beginning of July I was fortunate enough to be part of the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words.

The Festival runs from 29th June – 1st July and this event was on the final day of the Festival Weekend. The team behind Evesham Festival of Words run events throughout the year under the umbrella of the Festival and then the main programme covers the final weekend in June.

Check out the programme here.

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This was the final year for Polly Stretton who has organised the event for the past 3 years, she is stepping down and allowing the festival to either find someone else to take the mantle or to substitute with a new event from 2019.

The Poetry Walk is always a pleasant couple of hours, walking at a gentle pace around a route with many beautiful spots to stop and listen to a set of poems. In previous years we have attracted a few people who have joined us and listened alongside the group and there are always public listening in at points during the walk, especially if we happen to stop by an area where they have already settled on benches.

The one year I did it, we included parts of the town on the route (Evesham is a beautiful place). We have also had access inside the Bell Tower before.

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This year we took a pleasant tour around the Abbey Park before heading back to the garden at the Almonry to carry on our poetic feast.

There were several performances before this one from Suz Winspear, but getting sun lotion out was more important than my camera. I also have no photos of my own performance.

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In previous years I have been unable to stay for the final read around at the Almonry – so I was delighted to catch it this year.

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‘Poetry Walk’

Popular local poet, Polly Stretton, was back once again to lead the Poetry Walk through Evesham’s most scenic sites around Abbey Park.  With poems performed along the way, the Walk culminated in the beautiful garden of the Almonry.  Our wish for sunshine certainly came off! 

 

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Congratulations and gratitude to Polly Stretton who has organised the Poetry Walk event for the past three years and herded countless numbers of poets around Evesham and safely back to the gardens at the Almonry. A job well done and a thoroughly enjoyable poetry experience.

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PoARTry Ledbury Launch – Special Evening Exhibition & Poetry Reading

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Leena Batchelor and I have been busy for the past fortnight arranging this special event. We have plenty of poets and artists who are gathering together for this special Launch. The exhibition runs from 10th – 22nd and the gallery is open during the daytime for members of the public to come and marvel at the Artwork and read the poetry for themselves.

On the 11th July the gallery will be open in the evening for a celebration, you will have a chance to hear the artists talking about the collaboration and the process of their creations as well as hearing readings from the poets.

It is a free event and will be a wonderful evening, so do come and join us if you are free.

 

ledbury 18 Ledbury Poetry Festival kicked off this evening, we had originally hoped to have the PoARTry Exhibition during festival week (10 days), you can hear some of the poetry, a sneak preview during the festival. A selection of PoARTry poets will be celebrating their collaborations on Tuesday 3rd July with Homend Poets 6.30pm – 8.30pm at Icebytes. 

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POARTry Ledbury evening event

Festivals, Dirty Laundry & #MeToo

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Just home from a great night at The Blue Boar in Ludlow where Deb Alma Launched her first collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ published by Nine Arches Press.

 

This event was part of the Ludlow Fringe Festival.

Deb invited Guest Poets to perform: I read alongside Angela Topping, Roz Munro Derry, Holly Magill and Ruth Stacey.

I had not seen Angela since she launched Hearth (Mother’s Milk Books pamphlet written with Sarah James), it was lovely to catch up and also hear her read. I was particularly in awe of her final poem. Holly and Ruth both treated us to powerful new poetry, Holly’s debut pamphlet The Becoming of Lady Flambé is published by IDP. It was lovely to meet Roz, full kudos for her being brave enough to finish her wonderful set with her Me Too themed poem, written after Deb had created the anthology published by Fair Acre Press.

Deb Alma then took the stage after a great introduction from Jim Sheard. I thoroughly enjoyed the Launch in Birmingham and Deb’s reading here on (old) home soil was perfect too. Her set was a brilliant mix of all that Dirty Laundry offers and I admire her ability to perform some of the material in front of her family. It has been splendid watching Deb take off beyond her ever-amazing Emergency Poet work.

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Deborah Alma’s debut poetry collection Dirty Laundry is raucous, daring and honest, drawing contemporary women’s lives and those of our foremothers into the spotlight. It voices bold, feminist songs of praise: of persistence, survival, adventures of sexual rediscovery, each reclaiming the space to speak its mind and be heard and seen. A perfect remedy for the heartsick and weary, Alma’s intimate and particular poems are resolute enchantments, a form of robust magic.

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After an interval I was part of the #MeToo Anthology experience. These compelling performances have been occurring up and down the UK, at Festivals and Poetry Events. This book (sadly) is a necessary collection full of sincere and authentic poetry. This collection rallies against sexual assault and harassment.

The Guest Poets joined Deb in reading their own and other’s poems from the anthology before a group performance of Pippa Little’s Spartaca. A moving end to an amazing evening.

#MeToo Anthology was a Saboteur Award Winner earlier this year. All profits go to Women’s Aid and Refuges & domestic and sexual violence services can apply for a 50% discount on the cover price.

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“…Something was released and given a space within social media. It was easy to add our voice to the rising shout of #MeToo. We felt the sisterhood. Many women felt emboldened by this to share more difficult stories, more details; the lid has come off this box and now cannot be forced back on. I’m a poet, and an editor, and someone suggested we collect these stories somehow and it was obvious to collect them as poems. It was what I could do. I am very proud of this book, proud of the poets for sharing their stories and for putting their names to their words…These poems are painful, angry, often difficult to bear, but the result of these voices singing together is one that is beautiful, full of sisterhood, strength, and recovery…” (Deborah Alma, Editor)

 

My own poem ‘Ripped’ was shortlisted. Many of the shortlisted poems appear on Vik Bennett’s Wild Women #Us together.

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#UsTogether
voices from the #MeToo movement

In collaboration with the creators of the anthology, Wild Women Press have created an online platform for some of the additional submissions sent in response to the #MeToo call for poems. This platform is a place to celebrate the courage of the women who have shared their poems — voices that join together across counties and countries, in strength and sisterhood. #MeToo #UsTogether #NoMore

Festival by the River – LitFest Take Over

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Yesterday was wonderful, Cat Roberts has organised an amazing programme for The Ring Project. The stage is incredible – so amazing I want to buy it – if only I had space to store it! ring prog

Walking down to South Quay I spotted the glorious stage mimicking the ripple of water. I couldn’t wait to jump up on it!

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It was great to meet Cat in person and everything was smoothly organised. Peter Sutton and I had great fun.

I hadn’t expected much of an audience with this being outdoors, I thought it would be fairly transitional, but we had a good number, more than 20 at some points, with people stopping to sit on benches up towards the Church and the steps in front of the stage and I needn’t have rehearsed my set for timings because the clock chimes every quarter! Of course it was perfectly timed.

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My set was a mixture of water poems (some newly penned for the Take Over event), Fragile Houses poems, a few written for the Elgar Fundraiser with Peter Sutton last November and a couple of the new Festival (WLF) poems thrown in for good measure.

There were positive responses from the audience and I loved watching the tactile nature of the stage coming into play at the same time there were performances on it. So many people (not just children) coming and touching the sides. This is part of what NEON (Designers) do, they encourage our playful nature.

Mesmerising sequins, I only wish I had known and I would have dressed appropriately!

Huge thanks to Peter Sutton (WPL Finalist & Runner Up) who performed two wonderful sets brimming with Elgar, the Malverns and everything between. There will be more photos following, including some of Peter’s performance.

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And a huge thanks to Cat Roberts for the concept of LitFest Take Over.