Snippet reviews from some of my festival experience. Enjoy your bite of SAHLF 2021.
All the featured books can be purchased in the S@HLF Bookshop here.
Layers in Flash Fiction
A writing workshop on imagery and structure, with Anita Goveas and Farhana Khalique.
Farhana Khalique is a writer, voiceover artist and teacher from London. Her stories are forthcoming or have appeared in the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2021, Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Anthology 2020, Reflex Fiction and more. Farhana has been shortlisted for The Asian Writer Short Story Prize, and she has won a Word Factory Apprentice Award. She is also the editor of Desi Reads and a submissions editor at SmokeLong Quarterly.
Anita Goveas is British-Asian and based in London. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s twitter zine, and she’s an editor for the Flash Flood. She is one of the teachers on Dahlia Publishing’s 2021 ‘A Brief Pause‘ writer’s development programme. Her debut flash collection Families and Other Natural Disasters was published by Reflex Press in Sept 2020. © SAHLF Programme
This was an amazing workshop, I signed up with the thought of getting back into Flash Fiction writing and these two certainly spurred me on. This was an excellent workshop, they managed to squeeze so much into the hour. I didn’t really know what to expect. They made me think about writing in a fresh, new way.
Thank You for The Small Things: Poetry Workshop with Nadine Aisha Jassat
A workshop with award-winning writer Nadine Aisha Jassat on using poetry to help give thanks for the small things. This gentle workshop will feature prompts to reflect and write on, suitable for folks writing for the first time or those who write regularly, and will make use of some zoom features including the chat box.
Nadine Aisha Jassat is an award-winning writer and the author of Let Me Tell You This (404 Ink). She has been published widely, including in It’s Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race (Picador), Nasty Women (404 Ink), Staying Human (Bloodaxe Books) and more. She has performed her work internationally and has drawn significant acclaim, including receiving a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and being shortlisted for the prestigious Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, and was recently named by Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay in her International Literature Showcase selection of 10 Compelling ‘BAME’ writers working in the UK, with Kay writing: ‘Hers is a powerful, unforgettable new voice.’ © SAHLF Programme
This was another incredible workshop, one which warmed all our hearts and again, so much packed into the hour. I got some writing done and have useful ideas to run with in the future. This hour was a pleasure and a joy and I am SO GLAD I didn’t miss this!
Friday was exceptionally busy so I didn’t make it to the festival until the evening.
Solace in Sound – Three Bloodaxe Poets Explore the Landscape of Grief
Join a trio of Bloodaxe poets whose recent poetry collections span Scotland, Ireland, England and Estonia. Each shares a powerful sense of their formative landscapes; whether farmland, forest, mountains, estuaries, rivers or beyond. In poems that consider the impact of loss – of friends and friendships, parents, or a communal event of the most traumatic kind – these collections foster sympathy and strength. The poets will read from their own work, and also from each other’s, creating a unique conversation about memory and resonance in the landscape.
Jane Clarke is the author of two poetry collections, The River and When the Tree Falls (Bloodaxe Books 2015 & 2019), and an illustrated chapbook, All the Way Home, (Smith|Doorstop 2019). Four of her poems feature in Staying Human (Bloodaxe Books 2020) and one of the poems from When the Tree Falls was selected for The Forward Book of Poetry 2021. She grew up on a farm in Co. Roscommon and her work explores enduring connections to people, place and nature. She lives in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow where she combines writing with teaching & mentoring creative writing.
Philip Gross, born in Cornwall, son of an Estonian wartime refugee, has lived in South Wales since 2004. He won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009, a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and is a keen collaborator – with artist Valerie Coffin Price on A Fold In The River (Seren, 2015), with poet Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018) and with scientists on Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018). His latest collections are Between The Islands (Bloodaxe, 2020) and Troeon/Turnings (Seren, 2021) with Welsh language poet Cyril Jones. A new Bloodaxe collection, The Thirteenth Angel, is due in 2022.
Heidi Williamson grew up in Norfolk and spent many years living in Central Scotland. Her first collection, Electric Shadow, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. The Print Museum won the 2016 East Anglian Book Award for Poetry. Return by Minor Road, published in 2020, revisits her time living in Dunblane at the time of the Primary School shooting and its aftermath. She is an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and also works for the Poetry Society, Poetry School, National Centre for Writing and The Writing Coach.
© SAHLF Programme
I did not want to miss this reading. I saw Heidi last year at the SAHLF and have been fortunate enough to attend several of Philip’s readings. This was an hour filled with incredible poetry. It’s always interesting to hear how themes from different bodies of work can chime together.
The FINAL weekend of the Festival post – COMING SOON!
A brand new website for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. Find out about all the 2021 competitions, join in with virtual open mics at SpeakEasy (9th April) and coming soon announcements for Worcestershire LitFest 2021.
7-17 years old/ FREE entry/ International
300 words £4 or £10 for 3 entries/ International
And if you are a resident of Worcestershire, for £5 you can enter the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition.
WOW – Pitstop… NaNoWriMo reaches the half-way point, which I could hardly believe when I logged on to update my word count… YES I have been writing, well catch up writing (but that’s okay, especially with NaNoWriMo).
As I am following Nancy’s blog prompts and attempting to spend the month writing flash fiction, I am not planning on reaching 50,000 but what I can tell you is with all the catch up writing I have smashed through 10,000 – which I celebrated. I remember from 2013 that once you smash that barrier the word count tends to follow and for a while (despite only adding 100 words or so) the number increases drastically across the 100 boundaries. Until your brain leaks the thought of 20,000 words – you feel good for a while.
Last week I thought I might have to cheat further by writing poems not prose, but I am enjoying the Flash challenge and am creating stories that wouldn’t have existed. I am also making these challenges work for me a bit and finding time to research and build up my post NaNo resources – you have to have something to get on with straight afterwards. Keep busy.
Week 2 of NaNoWriMo – Flash Nano
Day 7 – was finally written, an interesting futuristic tale that I think has legs and might become a longer work of fiction some day. It surprised me, even after I had the basic concept of a society that needed more focus on rest and health (and let’s face it our world is mad for busy) – there is a great growing entity behind this story that I would like to explore further. I can feel a Christmas Holiday writing project coming on.
Day 8 – my story was fairly short, but again re-reading it I found some magic moments that I may be able to copy and paste into a story at some point in the future. I wrote this story behind the schedule and it made me glad that I had such an interesting day at work.
Wow, Nancy – you made me happy to be at work!?
Day 9 – This was a great prompt and it could have gone anywhere, in fact at one point I thought it might. I have written all the ideas down for future reference. It also inspired me to create an activity for my writing class and the resulting letter has some dark humour in it. It pleases me when I manage to write something funny, a good change from the serious.
Day 10 – was another prompt that nearly flew to thinking outside the box and again I have a stream of ideas to tackle another time. In the end I based this on a miraculously true story and had fun researching meanings for Italian names. I included bright nobility, which sums up the protagonist well, strength and keeper of time. The ending was left open, but I know what happens.
Day 11 – Again I think this story may need more work, I think it would appeal to the YA market, a market I haven’t considered before. Again, there are touches of humour found in the relationship between the father and his daughter.
Day 12 – has left most of with our jaws on the floor and I have only had time to scaffold my effort. Very 80s and worth being part of Flash Nano for this prompt alone.
Day 13 – was one I enjoyed (although it hasn’t helped the Nano count at just 13 words) but it was fun to edit and re-edit. I changed the story idea twice too, I am happy with the final result.
I also played catch up with the Day 6 challenge – the 100 word story. I wanted to write 150 words so I could submit it and I did just that (well 149). I will keep you posted on this one.
I look forward to the next week of prompts.
I collected a few more award buttons and have 13 stories and 11,548 words so far
Nancy Stohlman FLASH NANO
FLASH NANO has been going well, it makes a change for me to write prose and Nancy’s prompts have been inspiring, these tales would never exist without this challenge. I have started to think about how these prompts can be used, rather than just collecting stories that will just gather dust in my hard-drive.
So here’s what has been happening since Day 2.
Day 3 Monologue.
I created a character who was fighting the setting in of age (we had to write a monologue), this flash had feet and I think I can rework it and use it in the future. The central character not only bears witness to something but suspects she knows the culprit.
Day 4 Fire.
I read an Australian traditional tale about a crocodile and reshaped it into something a little different. The crocodile needed help with his drilling of sticks to make fire and the clever lizard invents fire sticks. It takes a while before the crocodile can make a fire that stays alight and the animal who helps him is one he has never eaten to this day.
It was fun writing this tale and may work well as a story for children.
Day 5 A childhood toy.
I knew instantly which toy I was going to write about and parts of this Flash were based on a real-life experience. The ending took me by surprise (I love it when writing does that) and it works well as a story for a variety of markets.
Day 6 A 100 word story.
This is still to be written (see my TOP TIPS) but I have researched where I may be able to place a short flash and have decided to make it 150 words so I can potentially submit it.
Day 7 Writing about the seventh day, the day of rest.
I still need to tackle this. I haven’t thought about it yet.
I do not panic about falling behind because these challenges are under 1000 words and the average recommended daily allowance is 1667 words a day for the 50K challenge, which is not something I am trying to achieve this year. I have extended some of the original flashes into short stories and so far have written 8242 words.
So how is Nanowrimo going for you? Do share your updates with us. Here are some tips to keep you in the write frame of mind now that you are a week in.
- Forgive yourself if you haven’t written daily, some days are busy. I haven’t managed to write daily, but I do check the prompts daily and scribble some rough outline notes. This means that when I get time to sit and catch up I am not trying to create the story from scratch.
- Check prompts daily (even if you don’t write)
- Make some notes of plot/ideas (for another time)
- Sit down and make up the word count as soon as you possibly can. Even if you haven’t time to finish the whole piece.
- Research – I use google to search keywords and generate ideas, or to make sure there is historical/ factual accuracy in my stories.
- Purpose – Rather than just writing try to give your NANO writing purpose, research possible markets for submission, mark the best ideas and don’t forget to make note of any ideas that come out of the writing.
Good luck and keep writing!
PS today is the day for Double donations and a double writing challenge. Double up your word count, a great idea if you are doing Nanowrimo because all extra words under your belt count.
It is also the first official Nano write in for my regional group, I attended back in 2013 when doing Nano for the first time. Check out your regional groups, a write in is fun and motivating, not to mention sociable.
This year I am working on writing projects already and know I haven’t time to write 50,000 words, so I was delighted when I discovered Nancy Stohlmn was posting daily prompts for 30 Flash Nano pieces, flash fiction being prose under 1000 words and a genre I have a better time with than short story writing.
As far as NaNo rules go this unplanned approach means I am a – but being a panster when you’re not planning to reach 50,000 words is fine by me. Plus with Nancy’s prompts I am not a total panster, there is at least a daily starting point.
Nancy’s first prompt was a hard write for me, it was based on a real-life story (not my own), maybe that was one of the reasons it was difficult, or maybe it was the challenge of setting a story in just one setting. There was no dialogue to move the story forward.
I managed a complete flash fiction of 969 words. One of the character’s talked about was called Nancy and I have only just realised the connection in writing this blogpost.
I did some micro research to manage the technical vocabulary I needed and this flash actually turned into a short story of 1414 words, which I am not going to worry about. In order to use the flash fiction stories in the future they may have to be extended into short stories.
I have also noted 3 fresh ideas that have spawned from writing the flashes.
How’s it going for you? Let us know.
This year I thought about dipping my toes in again, but I am working on several poetry projects and know that I don’t have time to complete 50,000 words. Tonight I decided to spend some time browsing my reader as it has been 10 months since I looked at blogs out here. I discovered a post and a challenge that might match my schedule and give me more to work with in the future.
Nancy Stohlman is posting prompts for flash fiction, which I do have time for. http://nancystohlman.com/flashnano/
I headed over to http://nanowrimo.org and signed back in. I headed to the Pep Talk page which has a lot of good advice and encouragement for a positive mental attitude, which believe me all NaNo-ers need! See what Gene Luen Yang has to say here
I am unlikely to reach the 50,000 word count by writing incredibly short, short stories but I will hopefully end the month with 30 new pieces and if I can I might mix it up with some poetry too.
So let’s get started!
Good luck to everyone making NaNo part of their November.
It was August when I sent my last batch of submissions out, since then I spent my time working on one or two larger projects and some commissions. Most of the work which I sent out has since been rejected.
On the 7th November I received an email (that is how busy I am, it has taken days to acknowledge this on the blog), from an editor accepting my work.
Paragram accepted my poem ‘Picasso of Dance’, about Martha Graham for publication in an up and coming print anthology of Poetry and Flash Fiction, ‘REMEMBER’, which will be available to buy from Amazon and other on-line stores.
Very excited and grateful for this opportunity.
__________ June _______________
Such a busy wonderful month filled with glorious opportunities!
Blogs and Projects
I signed up for Writing 101 Blogging University Daily Post challenge this month, it stretched ideas with writing and lead to some interesting blog posts – I struggled to post daily as I have been offline busy, but I did manage to complete each task for the first half. After which I became heavily involved in performances and events in the WLF LitFest.
I continued to write poems for 52.
I applied to be part of a collaborative project with Naked Lungs for BLF Birmingham Literature Festival. I had an interview mid-month.
The blog now has 765 followers, an extra 23 people joined in June.
The most popular post this month continues to be;
Submission and Publishing
I submitted poems and was published by Hark.
My poem Clench – will appear in the July issue of Hark, an online magazine.
I also worked on an epic submission for Offa’s Press
and entered a poem for GBWO – Great British Write Off.
I took a 12 day break from performing poetry at the end of May/June and enjoyed watching others at events instead.
It felt strange to get back up on stage at Mouth and Music – but I was armed with some freshly written -on theme – poems and a great audience who laughed in all the right places.
It was also good to back to Birmingham- performing at York’s Bakery.
It was 10 days of WLF this month – Worcester Litfest, I was asked to take part in a few events that clashed with other plans, including a guest spot for the Decadent Diva gig – Divas and Football, it was my friend’s Woodstock themed party which I was going to (a 50th birthday) and I had already turned down Foxy and Wild – Droitwich Arts Network/ Festival poetry event.
I did perform as a POP UP POET at an event I was asked to take part in.
I managed to get to Tim Cranmore’s Book Launch the week before WLF started and booked to be at the Guildhall for the announcement of the new Poet Laureate (4 of whom I knew) – I gave up a night performing to be part of the first event of the festival.
I was asked to have a guest spot at the Special Festival SpeakEasy (which I could do) and I asked to be on the 42 stage (1 of 8 performers) in addition to this I booked to watch Jonny Fluffypunk Man Up – show and was asked to perform at this event too.
I missed several workshops I wanted to do – because I was also working full time this week – with Summer being so close!
It was my first WLF – but the city’s 4th – I was aware of both this and the Droitwich Festival last year, it was before I started poetry writing again and at the time I was resigning from work after quite a struggle and wasn’t really submerged in the writing world as I am now.
Confab Cabaret – Olivers: Hollie McNish
Writing West Midlands/ Assistant Writer – Creative Writing Group: Ian MacLeod
Mouth & Music – BHG: Adjectives
Writing West Midlands/ Assistant Writer – Creative Writing Group: Jean Atkin (cover)
Writing West Midlands This month not only did I have a chance to use my drama background to help support material for the Worcester group with Ian MacaLeod, I also had a chance to cover as an Assistant Writer for the group in Kidderminster – run by Jean Atkin. It is great to experience working with Young Adults – teenagers were slightly older than my group and a different Lead Writer, Jonathan Davidson recommended we swapped groups once in a while to get a better breadth and understanding. For a writer who hopes to become a Lead Writer in 2016 it is great to take on board different approaches and ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed the group and look forward to going back next month.
Performing at Dave’s 50th Woodstock Party including a poem written especially for him! My first Private Function too!
Pop up Poets – WLF
Poets With Passion – Birmingham
With Jonny Fluffypunk – WLF
Meeting Naked Lungs – Project BLF
Special WLF 42 – WLF Lou Morgan
Special SpeakEasy – WLF – Old Recifying House: Emma Purhouse & Scott Tyrrell
Carol Ann Duffy – National Poet Laureate in a joint venture between Ledbury Poetry festival & WLF
The Tea Project – Tara and Lynsey – MAC Atys Centre
Poetry Workshop – Jean Atkin, Acton Scott farm.
Mr G and I also saw the Voodoo Rooms (Hendrix/ Cream), celebrated Dave’s 50th Woodstock style, mum’s birthday and he continued to re-landscape the garden, building a pond.
Next month I am looking forward to a workshop and some Literature Festivals, my performance with BrainFruit, Special weekend groups associated with writing I have been involved with this year, Book launches – Restless Bones and seeing my work in print in Hark Magazine.
I have loved being part of this year’s WorcsLitFest, having so many events and opportunities on my very own doorstep has been wonderful.
I didn’t plan it very well – as I also took on a full week of work – and missed many daytime/ teatime events I could have otherwise attended. There’s always 2015. I also missed the last 3 days of the festival due to performing in Birmingham and celebrating birthdays.
My highlights were being asked to guest spot for the Decadent Divas (something I was unfortunately not able to do as it clashed with Dave’s Woodstock Party) and performing at Jonny Fluffypunk’s event!
There was a packed programme of 33 events and performances – look at the glorious programme here;
I went to the launch event – a fun packed event concluding with the new Poet Laureate being chosen, congratulations to Fergus McGonigal our new ambassador for poetry and Claire Walker, who came 2nd and Suz Winspear who came 3rd.
Prizes for the young writer competition and flash fiction were also announced.
The next event was just 30 minutes later in Malvern, on the hills. I was asked to take part in this and would have loved to, but had Writing West Midlands job the next day. I hope I can take part in the magic next year.
Midnight Moonlight Solstice Walk – celebrate the solstice, walking on the Old Hills with poetry and stories on the way.
Ruth Stacey held a Native American Myths workshop that I would have loved to attend – but due to hotfooting over towns for Writing West Midlands job I couldn’t have made it.
The EP – Emergency Poet was parked up at the Hive. It was great to see Deborah Alma and James Sheard again and this was the first time I had seen her emergency ambulance and had a consultation, great fun. Deborah does many festivals and Lit events and is well worth looking up and going to see!
Then I hotfooted it over to Birmingham to take part in Poets with Passion at the Sahara Restaurant. Missing the Beatfreeks performing at the workshop, I do see a lot of Beat poetry performed in Birmingham, so may well have seen it before.
On Monday I worked and had forgotten I was going out at all… fortunately I remembered and went to see Man Up Jonny Fluffypunk. Jonny is a stand up poet and one of my favourite discoveries in this world of performance poetry I have immersed myself into. I have seen him perform twice as a headliner but his one man show is not to be missed! I am not going to say more about it because it is unbelievable and you need to catch it for yourselves if you ever get the chance! Amazing. I didn’t know before I got there that there had been a shout out for performers as they were trying to create an interval in an interval-less show. I did have a poem on my phone, a poem that was on my set list for SpeakEasy on Thursday, but this opportunity was too good to miss and it was one that Fergus McGonigal, Adrian Mealings and I took up!
I performed my Adjectives poem, written for Mouth and Music, it went down well and Jonny loved it – until the beret line and a slight ad lib on my part! It was a great feeling and thanks to WLF Crew and Jonny for letting us have some of the stage time!
I took Tuesday off from events, although there were plenty of things I wanted to see, I knew with wok as well energy was needed to survive the week.
On Wednesday I went to the Festival Special of 42 with Lou Morgan. It was a great night and I enjoyed putting my set together, the newly written 52 poem about Martha Graham, The Picasso of Dance, went down very well and had lots of feedback.
On Thursday after working I frantically re-jigged the set list for my 6 minute slot and filled the Adjective gap with Moustaches. speakeasy Festival Special was just that a special night! Some amazing open mic-ers and guest performances and also 2 headliners, who blew everyone out of the water!
Scott Tyrrell was new to me, a Northern Poet full of comic wit (who left Worcester for Glastonbury this year!) His material was heart felt and chuckle full – mostly about Fatherhood, my favourite poem involves a book review for Where the Wild Things Are. Great stuff.
Emma Purhouse I discovered back at the beginning of my poetry odyssey! She is amazing, funny, poignant and highly observant of life around her. I hadn’t seen her perform for a while and was looking forward to it. We had a little moment to chat too, which was lovely and she encouraged me to enter Offa’s Press Submission – which I was already beavering away on – as if full week of work and LitFest wasn’t enough – I was also trying to compile a manuscript to send to Offa. I was delighted when Emma encouraged me to do it, confirming that my material was a match, lets hope Offa feel the same about my submission!
This was my final WLF event as I was performing in Birmingham on the Friday, partying over the weekend, I missed some cracking bits at the end – including Double whammy Slammy – Poetry and Flash – Congratulations to Brenda Read-Brown for winning the poetry prize, the 4th Slam Poet Champ of WLF.
Well done WLF!