Category Archives: groups

A Poetry Wrap

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I am incredibly busy at the moment and don’t have the hours needed to blog spare, so for a while I am going to follow suit and do what other busy bloggers do – reduce my week into a wrap post. The absolutely amazing writing life happenings will still get a individual post though.

This week I have been working full-time as well as organising sets, writing new poetry and working on several projects. My MOOC course with the University of Iowa finally started! Postponed since March. It has been a worthwhile move so far and has created several pages of poetry. I continue to write poetry for NaPoWriMo – although I realise I have not blogged any extracts of these yet. Caldmore Garden Poets are working on a collaborative piece for the Carnival (and later in the summer, a festival). Unfortunately, I can’t make the Performance as I have my final WWM writers group on the 13th before the summer break. I am also sending David Calcutt workshop poetry to be published on his Natural Histories website.

This week two opportunities suddenly arose and I  submitted a commission proposal for a summer festival and made a bid/application for another event.

I am looking to Wenlock Poetry Festival this weekend. Before that I am reading at a Book event for Restless Bones Poetry Anthology in Birmingham tonight, attending a meeting with Writing West Midlands, hoping to catch ‘Men In General’ tomorrow night on their Worcester leg of the tour, back to Birmingham Friday night for Ddotti Bluebell and Jasmine Gardosi’s Word Up event where Sarah Dixon (Quiet Compere) is headlining alongside Bobby Parker and Jackie Smallbridge (Scrubber Jack). On Sunday I am tempted to get over to Cheltenham Poetry Festival to see Sarah James & Angela Topping and also Math Jones. I am not sure I will have enough energy for that though – especially as I have full time work at the beginning of next week in an incredibly challenging environment.

Motherʼs Milk – Teika Bellamy, Sarah James, Angela Topping
11am-12 midday, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, £6/4
Two prize-winning poets – Sarah James and Angela Topping- have joined forces in the first of a new
series of poetry duets being published by Mother’s Milk Books. Sarah and Angela will be joined by
Dr Teika Bellamyof Mother’s Milk for a Q&A session, where the focus of the discussion will be how,
as mothers, we can best meet the demands of family life whilst still pursuing our own creative projects.

Math Jones – The Other Side of Sleep Reading at Cheltenham Poetry Festival
Saturday at 2:30pm Arachne Press Event

Oxfam Bookshop 31 Cambray Place GL50 1JP

I would highly recommend this events if you can get to the Cheltenham Poetry Festival. There is a wealth of great events in the festival programme this year. It is just a shame it clashes with Wenlock Poetry Festival too.

author_fuel_greeting_card-rdd5bef2736024fb4880dc3b6eca7b7f5_xvuak_8byvr_325Next week I am going to the sua litfest to see Rachel Kelly, Susanna Howard and Jill Fraser. I am going with mum, who switched me onto Rachel Kelly’s book to begin with. 1803_BlackRainbow_Dhb.indd

Wednesday I am performing at an Open Mic, Thursday sees some writing deadlines. I will also be completed Napowrimo, writing assignments for my MOOC and preparing my  next Headline set and planning for the next WWM group which I have the delight of leading for the 2nd time this year.

AND BREATHE …

Two Events, One Meeting and The Shuttle – Review of a Week in Poetryland

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The past week has certainly been a busy one, I need to find more time for writing (tomorrow I have ONE glorious day off) AND if the weather (snow) is anything to go by, I will need it! I am hoping to catch up on writing as well as sleep.

Last Thursday was the first SpeakEasy of 2015, I was asked to perform and delighted to go (missed a few months at end of 2014) and love this event. Always warm, always wonderful, organised by Worcester Litfest, hosted by Fergus McGonigal and featuring Maggie Doyle. Both Poet Laureates work hard for WLF in organising this monthly night of spoken word, poetry and fun.WLF&F logo concepts

“Worcester SpeakEasy” is a monthly event of poetry and prose from the page and the stage (and a little music now and then), which takes place on the second Thursday of each month. The event promotes, showcases and encourages writers from the whole of Worcestershire and further afield; there is an invited headline poet each month.

The event is brought to you by your very own Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, via Poet Laureate Emeritus Maggie Doyle and the Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2014-15 Fergus McGonigal, SpeakEasy’s host and MC. –

© 2015 Events Page

This month we had a change of venue and it was a small and intimate event, packed full and over-brimming with talent and entertaining and thought provoking performances. Open mic-ers joined in with booked acts and we had not one but TWO headline acts.

Peter Sutton – Poet – who I first came across during Worcester LitFest last summer, stunned us with his word weaving and incredibly intricate poetry and later on at the end of the night Kate Wragg treated us to a magic set, just her, her guitar and some handmade teddy bears! We all wait with baited breath for Kidderminster – The Musical.

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Do you remember (perhaps as a child) feeling really excited the day/night before you went away on holiday? That’s how I feel when there are back to back poetry events (which will not happen as often in 2015 as I have no plans to dominate the circuit with another 100+ gigs), I left SpeakEasy, knowing that the very next evening I would see many poets again for our monthly Stanza meetings.

stanza scrabble I have promised myself that the next Stanza meeting I will take a poem that is more than a few hours old! I always take something in need of tweaking or helping, as that is the whole point. The more you hone in on editing, the less stringy pieces become and so sometimes writing something completely new seems the only option. This feels like turning up to a party with a brewing kit instead of an armful of drinks…

I (as always) enjoyed our meeting and it was lovely to see everyone after the New Year break. There are lots of exciting things happening at the moment for all of us in our poetry bubble, one opportunity is resulting in a poet’s day out later this month, unfortunately I shall not be with them to share the luncheon and laughter, only in spirit. (My own fault for taking a fortnight offline over Christmas!)

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The next event to take place happened just this evening – a 3rd Birthday party/Anniversary for Mouth and Music and Heather Wastie and Sarah Tamar kicked off in true hardworking, inspirational style with an event called ‘Spark Off’!

I have written an entire post about this evening – find it HERE https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/mouth-music-3rd-birthday-spark-off-special/

Heather sends press releases to the local paper to promote what’s on in the local area I was flattered by the coverage (it seemed only fair after this to let Peter’s team win)!

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Photo credit © 2014 PhotoGiraffe

 It has been an incredible second week back on the circuit and I still have lots more to look forward to this month! To make tonight even more magical (despite not winning), we walked out to falling snow. It made the journey home for everyone slightly hazardous but SPARKED my childlike glee ignition and I happily danced out of BHG venue and twirled in the snow as I ran for the car and tried to zip my poetry collection up dry!

December Review – Week 1 – Work, Stanza, Southcart Books & Reading Aloud

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best teacher This week there was a high proportion of time committed to earning extra Christmas money by spending more days doing the day job than anything else, which I have found exhausting. No surprise considering my tasks included; teaching 120 different children in a morning, creating modroc volcanoes, papier mache Greek masks, adjudicating and marking test papers and having two days at a school where every lesson was in a different classroom with different kids (unusual in the Primary setting). By Thursday I was asleep at 7pm and Friday wasn’t much better. Good job I have already committed to cutting back on the performance poetry scene. Although I have noticed this sudden lack of creativity and socialisation has taken a toll on the way I feel emotionally. I gain inner strength from this full diary of writing events and activities and there is something to be said for the adrenalin boost too. 2015 is going to be a year of learning ‘balance’.

type I had time to write – but found some projects impossible to research without internet access (how dependent we have become), our connection failed on Monday and has only just been rectified – some signalling problem they said. (Our central heating and hot water has also broken!) I did manage to complete my Wild Fire Poem for David Calcutt (from the workshop in October)! I took it to Stanza on Friday and received some editing advice which makes it even stronger. Workshop poetry doesn’t always work outside of the bubble it was created in and I think some people were finding the connections I made difficult to understand which made me worry, so I went back to the drawing board with it. I performed it yesterday at Southcart Books to an audience that included fellow workshop participants and David to a positive reception.

After a week at work I was looking forward to our festive Stanza meeting, my first poetry related gathering for a week. As always it was a fun evening, I love the spirit of our members, listening to high quality poetry, receiving advice from writers I trust and having time to talk, because there never is enough time to connect personally at events. Our festive Stanza Meeting included Mulled Wine, a bounty of nibbles, included gorgeous homemade cakes and a Poetry Society mug. PS Mugshot

My only other nod to the former on-the-road-poet-life of 2013/14 was a trip out (and around many times) to Walsall – I must get my SATNAV fixed, trying to follow unsigned roads is a tad difficult for me on a Saturday (or any other day of the week for that matter)! I was dreading the Christmas traffic, but the roads and motorways were relatively clear, in fact I got home quicker than last time, however, getting there took an hour as I went wrong in the town centre five times, got snarled in the one way system and even had a police car follow me for a mile at one point. My poetry life would not be the same without an exciting road trip story to arrive with. My first collection should be called :LOST:

The Reading Aloud event ran from 11am – 4pm and I always knew I would never make it for the start. It was midday before I set off. I was hoping to make it in time to see the end of the morning, then I got lost.

It was worth every penny of extra petrol though. Southcart Books is a wonderful Independent Bookshop and if you are every in Walsall you should pop in for a browse, chat and buy a book or two. Scott and Amy are very enthusiastic about books and writers, there is a special warmth inside this haven.

sc scott and amy © Walsalladvertiser

Southcart-Books

20 Lower Hall Ln, Walsall, West Midlands WS1 1RL

Open 9.30 -4.30

Southcart Books are the only independent bookshop in Walsall helping get the word around for local writers and artists.

Situated in a grade 2 listed building, Southcart Books sells new, used and antique books. They hold community events such as book signings and book readings. 

Original source; http://creativewalsall.com/southcart-books/ © 2014 Creative Walsall

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David Calcutt organised the Reading Aloud Event in support of Small Business Saturday (Nationwide) 6th December 2014. He hosted a pleasurable day of talented wordsmiths, who all took to the chair for their readings. I’ve never performed a set sitting down before, it was a new experience. I wasn’t sure what to do with my feet and I can’t say I was entirely comfortable. However, as an audience member it was like being invited into your own private Jackanory and I enjoyed the change.

I felt absorbed by this experience and was glad I made it in time for lunch and mingling, I met a few poets I didn’t know, had time to catch up with those I do know and managed a quick browse the shelves too. I ended up treating myself to three Poetry books (my own personal Christmas presents), I look forward to reading them in the New Year.

It was lovely to hear lengthy sets (15mins) as often you only get a snippet of poetry at Open Mics. I am finding it difficult to express how great the afternoon was so I am going to say it with synonyms; fascinating, inspiring, impressive, wonderful and marvellous and then let David say the rest – he said it so much better;

It felt a real privilege today to be host to such a diverse, talented and friendly group of writers today at Southcart Books – Martin Hughes, Ann Clarson, Janet Jenkins, Angela Nock, Jane James, Eileen Ward-Birch, Chris Fewings, Sammy Joe, Antony R Owen, Nina Lewis and Bert Flitcroft.

Thank you very much to Scott Carter and Amy for hosting this and providing a comfortable and atmospheric reading space. Southcart Books is such a strong, independent bookshop. Just the place you should visit. Thank you again to all the readers.

Here are a couple of photographs capturing the Reading Aloud event, © 2014 Stuart Williams

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Chris Fewings

SC Tony

Antony R Owen

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To round off the week I am typing up poems scribbled in my notebook over the past few weeks and if I have time (Mr G and I are also ‘tackling’ the house) I will be submitting some work too.

INKSPILL: Guest Writer – Charlie Jordan – Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)

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Guest Writer ticket 2014

Charlie Jordan – charlie jordan

Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)

 

Balance? No idea – just squish bits of writing in whenever you can, and accept that life sometimes gets so busy with work and family responsibilities, that you may not always have space…….that’s ok too – sometimes the only hour you get free needs to be spent walking in the park and clearing your head.

Don’t get too Ivory Tower about your writing, we all have images of sitting in a particular location, with elegant stationery or a Macbook and endless hours to focus on our craft – but the reality may be scribbling on a train in rush hour, or when waiting to collect the kids on the school run – hoping they’re running a few minutes late today, so you can finish a piece. 😉 Sometimes it’s just a few brief notes or thoughts for working on another time, and that’s ok.

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I love the books by Natalie Goldberg on writing, and she writes about Zen practise too – so as someone who’s dabbled with Buddhism for 30 yrs, I can re-read her books and still savour new nuances.

Others rave about Stephen King’s book on writing, or Julia Cameron – read widely and see what works for you, but don’t allow too much reading about writing equate to never actually doing any writing! It’s a fine balance…. I read Buddhist books, Pema Chodron & Thich Nhat Hanh are among my favourites, food books, authors like Elizabeth Gilbert – who have such a clear voice I can hear them speaking from the page, and of course – poetry……from early favourites like Maya Angelou – who wrote and spoke as a 6 foot woman, like me – and I didn’t know any other tall women then, so I felt like she understood!

Benjamin Zephaniah, as a Brummy and hugely charismatic poet and writer who is equally at home writing for children or engaging in more serious political poetry, sometimes combining both in his young adult novels, Sharon Olds – whose work Jo Bell introduced me to – which reminds me – you should look up Jo Bell.

© Sarah Bryson 2014

© Sarah Bryson 2014

Now! She’s a powerhouse of poetic life force, fiercely talented and a warm, friendly mischievous woman whose love of poetry and boating meets perfectly in her currently being our canal Laureate. She instigated 52 – a brilliant initiative online for weekly poetry prompts and sharing of new work – hopefully in a book for next year so we can all catch up on it. Lemn Sissay too – outstanding energy on the page and off the page and sometimes inscribed into walls – Google him now & look….. So many other names, too many to mention – but poets like Jaqui Rowe, Angela France, Helen Ivory are worth your time and generally dip into collections of poetry like a ‘pick & mix’ to stumble on new favourites. Performance poets to recommend include Hollie McNish, Bohdan Piasecki, Kate Tempest, Matt Windle, Spoz, Maggie Doyle – several of whom are friends, but of course I’m not biased – they’re outstanding poets too.

BL RH jACQUIKathy MaggieQC Matt Windle Gary Longden

Angela francebohdan-piasecki Hollie

Connect with other writers when you can, it’s such an isolating process – so writing groups, open mics, writing courses and literary festivals – go and find your tribe as it were! I’ve found the West Midlands to be full of some hugely talented writers, who are also encouraging and supportive people who welcome new poets and want to build up their confidence.

One thing that makes me sad is when a writer spends time and energy criticising another writer’s work. This may be amusing with the big name million selling, prize winning stars parry in the broad sheets to get the headlines for their new bestseller…..but for the rest of us in the real world – be kinder! Don’t waste your finite words, and energy in negativity and try to divide the already small community of writers and artists and claim some work is superior to others. Of course we’re not all going to love every word or genre written, but why denigrate someone’s hard work and sneer – instead why not tell us whose work you love?

Share what sets you alight with inspiration and we too may indulge in the excitement of discovering new favourite writers.

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Update things. This is as much for me as you……I’ve been presenting the Drivetime show at Smooth radio in the West Midlands since March, but haven’t updated my website this year….ooooops! My friend Dave does all the technical stuff for it, but I’ve not sent him any new copy for months – so, note to self – update it……… Nina’s much better at this

 

On Editing

Editing – try actually chopping a piece up. Literally with scissors and physically swap words or lines around in a poem…..sometimes it frees things up in a way you’d never discover on a computer screen. And you get to play with blue tack or sellotape – always fun!

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This is just a few rambling thoughts scribbled extremely quickly, so to wrap up I should say something really profound and meaningful and well thought out – like I was planning this destination all along…..erm…..oooopssssss…..oh wait, yes – that’s it….. Feel free to ignore/discard/forget every word of this or anything else……… different things will work for us all at different times. There is no one definitive answer, but by reading widely and dipping into and out of things, you’ll be likely to discover something you do like, that fits right now.

So Good luck, go write and enjoy.

Oh and one more thing, try writing with your friends – I did it with Divas, and we’ve had the best fun and once our diaries are all link up, we’ll be doing it again and having the best writing and performing fun ever, and tea, cake & mischievous giggles!

 

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One Week in October – Poetry Festivals, Events, Weddings and a Commission.

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Reviewing October weekly as my writing life is tightly scheduled this month. What an exciting first week it has been. I have really tried to cut down on the amount of events I go to as I need to TIE myself to my desk/ laptop and get writing this October.

 

Opening A Festival

The month started with a surprise phone call from Rachel Green, programme director – Arts All Over the Place – Poetry, Performance (and Everything Else) Festival. Long story, short I sent proposals in September, what I could offer the festival and a bio in just 50 words. A glitch meant that when I contact Rachel, weeks later, the programme had already been devised. She did offer a drama workshop that I could have facilitated, typically it was the one day I was booked for work. I had to turn the opportunity down. AAOTP_3

A few days later she called to ask if I could OPEN THE FESTIVAL – the OPENING EVENT! As with all good drama graduates we are taught to accept the job and worry about the fine print later. This is how I found myself on National Poetry Day dressed as the Poetry Princess and treating an audience to a one-woman show! Still grateful to be saved by the buffet. People enjoyed my crystal delivery and poetry and I was caught in conversation with several attendees about poetry throughout the course of the day. Of course I stuck around for Cathy Crossley and Jan Watts and their National Poetry Day workshop, which resulted in pages of notes for potential poetry.

Later I performed as part of Soulful Poetry event organised and hosted by former Birmingham Laureate, Rob McFarlane. It was great to talk to Roy after the event as well as hearing more of his poetry. He was extremely supportive of my poetry and performance.

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Birmingham Poet Laureate

After this I hot footed to the Library of Birmingham to support Jasmine Gardosi & Matt Man Windle with their bid to be the next Poet Laureate. I am glad I managed to catch all the performances.  birm poet laureate 2014 Adrian Blackledge became the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2014-2015 and my alliances and friendships with Matt and Jasmine remain intact. In his speech Adrian made a point – that more people write poetry than read poetry… and that maybe something needs to be done about it. I wanted to spend more time in the library but it had been a long day and I had to be up for work.

 

WEDDING

This weekend saw my younger brother getting married – the first wedding in our immediate family. A big occasion and a brilliant wedding that I think only Dave and Jenny could have pulled off. I read ‘I Love You’ by Roy Croft in their service, lots of tissues were needed. My brother and his wife, crying on each new line, my toughest and most intimate audience yet.

I was worried about coughing as well as crying, I am suffering a lingering chest infection. On my second lot of antibiotics and praying these work. It has been extremely challenging teaching, performing and watching events with this loud, hacking cough constantly interrupting!

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Birmingham Literature Festival

All photographs  Birmingham Literature Festival © 2014

On Sunday (fortunately hang over free) I went to see my relatives who had stayed with Mum and then went to Birmingham Literature Festival, I wanted to pack as much in as I knew my schedule wouldn’t allow another day there, until Saturday 11th, when I perform.

BLF With Great Pleasure

I went to see the recording of Radio 4 Poetry Please with Roger McGough, followed by With Great Pleasure, also recorded for BBC Radio 4. Rich McMahon was playing guitar and singing in the foyer BLF Rich McMahon before the evening show at the Rep Theatre of Tell Me on a Sunday, which was a storytelling event set up by Writing West Midlands and Cat Weatherill to share real life stories. Marking the end of 3 years on this project she had selected some of the top stories and tellers to perform and treated us a little to her own stories in between.

BLF Tell me on a sunday

In honesty after the wedding I should have spent the day asleep, I know I would have regretted not making the effort to go to the festival though. I also bumped into an old friend Nicola who I hadn’t seen for years. Funny last time she was working creative/ language jobs and I was teaching full time – now she teaches full time and I am getting creative with job roles.

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Writing

Monday and Tuesday were spent writing poetry for the Urban Nature Performance/ Commission – which takes place at The Library of Birmingham next Saturday as well as catching up on some neglected household chores, doctors appointments and going to work. NAKED_LUNGS_200x200px

Performing

I have a writing day today and another project to sink my wrists into – I also have a fair few events lined up;

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Thursday 9th Performing at Anniversary SpeakEasy, Friday attending and performing at the Mad Hatter’s Cosmic Chill Out for the end of Arts All Over the Place Festival, Saturday THE BIG DAY performing in the Birmingham Literature Festival, then having a performing break until next Tuesday. And that’s with reducing the performance schedule!

 

Meetings – The Good Sort!

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I am way behind on my blogging and need to catch up with myself before October.

Meeting 1

On the 12th of September I met the other 3 poets involved in the Naked Lunch commission for Birmingham Literature Festival. Meeting

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I had met Aysha Begum, a talented poet and winner of the OXJAM Slam earlier this summer in Birmingham, she also facilitated Bridge the Gap – the event on the canal boat so her name may be familiar to you too. Hannah J Graham (thank you for the photos) and Amanda Hemmings are the other poets contributing to this project.

Now we have started writing for the commission and have just a fortnight before we perform. Christopher Baker and Joe Whitehouse are the brains behind Naked Lunch, organising and promoting events for Spoken Word Artists. They claim not to be poets themselves, I am not convinced!

Our performance is on 11th OCTOBER in the Foyer at the Library of Birmingham as part of the final weekend of events for the Birmingham Literature Festival, which starts on this Thursday on the 2nd of October. blf ikon 4

They announce the new Poet Laureate in the evening, I know two of the finalists this year, Matt Man Windle and Jasmine Gardosi …. I wish them both all the luck in the world. One poet is a champion boxer, the other a Karate expert…. it could be the first fight between poets, who knows!

Poet Laureate (you can read the candidates poems here)

I should be in the library to hear them and the other shortlisted poems perform their city poems. Shortlisted candidates;

Adrian Blackledge, Andy Connor, Jasmine Gardosi, Pauline Morgan and Matt Man Windle

Digbeth Garden Hannah J Graham © HJ Graham 2014

Anyway back to the meeting, we explored the community garden in Digbeth and spent some time talking to each other, discussing the project and theme.

SATURDAY 11th OCT. 4 -4:30pm

FREE

Urban Nature – find out more about this project/ performance here

Birmingham Literature Festival

 

Before hot footing it back on a train to get to my Stanza Meeting. I had spent most of the day trying to write a new poem to take, but as time ran out I had a look through recent writing and picked a poem I was not altogether happy with.

Meeting 2

It was a packed and busy night at Stanza, hosted this month by Ian Glass, who had been at work at all day and like the rest of us couldn’t believe how many poets had turned up. Enough to give the ‘youth’, whose parents had gone out and left a crowd of noisy teens rampaging in their garden a run for their money! Despite this distraction the atmosphere inside was as special and electrifying as I always find stanza meetings to be.

stanza scrabble I also had lots of helpful advice from other people on editing and strengthening my poem. Which I have left brewing in a drawer for a few weeks, before culling and reworking starts.

I find these meetings helpful and sociable, we never stop learning and I love hearing people performing their material post edit somewhere public and feeling privileged that I heard it before it had its best clothes on.

And this month Claire Walker had baked an amazing cake for our meeting – with butter icing and foraged forest fruits – which gave me a great idea for One Year A Poet – my anniversary/ Birthday celebration of poetry.

Meeting 3

Was the very next day, where Ian MacLeod and I saw our WWM Writing West Midlands group come back together at the start of a new year/term. It was a fun session.

WWM

My one to one mentoring role starts next month, which I am looking forward to.

After the meeting I had to rush off into Birmingham to watch a live radio interview recording with Lenny Henry, followed by watching him in Ruddy’s Rare Records at The Rep. Big, BIG thanks to Andrea Smith for the tickets and beautiful company! Andrea bernard Davis

 

Latest Projects

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Naked Lungs

I am really excited to be taking part in a collaborative performance in this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival (Oct 2-12th). The event is organised by Naked Lungs, following interviews in the summer, they have chosen 4 poets to collaborate on the performance project.

I am delighted to be part of this exciting venture and to meet two new poets last week too. We met in the city to discuss the project and visit a community garden project in Digbeth, which brings nature and city to a meeting point. Inspirational.

I am now working on writing some poetry to send to them as a starting point. We perform at the Library of Birmingham on the 11th @ 4:30pm

It is the same day that my writing mentor job starts too… and both opportunities are funded, which is great news, has taken 12 months, just over to arrive in this position. All the hard work is worth it.

When you have an idea, you have to action it, take risks, run, jump, keep faith – it is meant to be – it will.

I also get to perform a set next week (25th) for an event at Cherry Reds that Naked Lungs run. Fingers crossed this is a gateway to more performance work.

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Bridge the Gap – an Intergenerational Tea Party

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Last Wednesday (20th) I went out for a morning on the canal in Birmingham as part of an event organised by Beatfreeks and Aysha Begum (OXJAM Slam Poet winner). The plan is to roll out monthly evening events with poetry that bring different generations together. The whole concept of the event was Aysha Begum’s and Jaden Larker and Matt Windle were particularly excited to see the idea come to fruition, having both been around at the conception.

I didn’t know what to expect other than my ticket included a 3 hour canal journey, workshop, poetry, a chance of performing and free tea/coffee and cakes. A perfect morning if you ask me. I love getting involved with performance and projects that are a little outside the box of a café or pub open mic, events outside that remit challenge you with new experiences and you get to see how your work/ writing can work on different levels.

aysha begum bridge the gap

I managed to get to the meeting point and was happy to see some familiar faces, including Beatfreek poets, Matt Windle, Jordan Ashley Ann Garvey and Jasmine Gardosi. We all boarded the boat and were greeted with a story from Jaden Larker (Seasick Fist), a Beatfreek poet. He then encouraged us to use the workshop time to mingle with people we didn’t know and the older people. Many people moved seats and as Matt, Jordan and I had sat near the top end by the time we were able to get up to move – there was nowhere to move to. Part of me felt guilty about not taking this opportunity to share stories with the older generation. I think I became the older generation for Jordan and Matt.

It was great though because Jordan and I hardly knew each other and although I have seen Matt perform often and he always has time for a chat, there is still limited time and topics at a poetry event – whereas on this boat we were being encouraged to raid our own past for stories.

The ticket cost covered refreshments and during this part of the voyage the team waited sandwiches, wraps, samosas and other nibbles to each table. We had tea and coffee from the bar (alcohol was available) and thoroughly enjoyed a good natter.

Later on we were treated to performances by Aysha Begum and Amerah Saleh – both poets I have seen in action at various events, both are Beatfreeks and both did well to raise their voices over the engine of the canal boat.

Then after some more cake and nibbles the Open Mic started – I bet we were all glad of the organisational decision to split the boat/ audience in half as the engine was still hard to hear over.

I enjoyed being exposed to poetry from poets who had joined the academy a week beforehand, there were performers I hadn’t seen before and some I had. It was great fun joining in. There was also time after the performances before the poets swapped over for a quick Q & A …. it is all too easy to forget how magical our world is to people who don’t write.

It was a fantastic event – if you are local enough to the Midlands, UK – look out for more of these!

 

 

My Birthday Week, Poetry Events and Special Times

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The Birthday week started – the birthday week is when normal social occasions get preceded by ‘birthday’ regardless of whether they have anything to do with my birthday at all.

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I LOVE birthdays – but this year I have decided I don’t want to grow any older. That’s the downside.

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The week started with a day of writing, research and relaxation, long overdue and most necessary as there is barely a blank diary day now until October. We went for a meal on Monday – which was nothing to do with my birthday – but happened close enough to the celebration week to be included.

I caught up with friends on Tuesday afternoon and also went to Mouth and Music, which was an amazing night (own post to come later), yesterday I had a busy day and just enough hours to finish a special poem for my brother on his birthday – we celebrated with a family meal last night – his birthday, not mine. A great night out! We started early and were all home before 9pm as my nephews have gone off on holiday today, but I was exhausted. Happy and exhausted. Had an earlyish night and slept through. This is brilliant – Tuesday night I only managed 3 hours and Wednesday was a tough one to get through on that little sleep.

Today I would have loved a lie in but needed to get to the doctor’s. Mr G and I have less than a fortnight to sort out the allotment and we went up last week to hack back (the bit we managed will probably already be all overgrown already again)! I noticed on Friday marks on my calf and shin, they were bright red and fairly painful, I just presumed it was nettles or caught on a thorn. Not wanting to waste Doctor’s time – I let my body self heal – which it is doing – but I don’t need scars on my legs or further infection and after seeing family last night I was persuaded to take the matter more seriously. I have some cream.

Today I went to Birmingham where I performed at PFL – I cant remember the last Poetry for Lunch I managed to get to, it was the Stanza group one in June I think.

Andrea booked me a few weeks ago for a special comedy themed one. It was funny.

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I was able to meet fellow 52er Rueben Woolley too.

Tonight I went to SpeakEasy, I enjoyed the entertainment and definitely count it as my 2nd Birthday outing – the 1st being Birmingham earlier and PFL, well we did all go for a drink afterwards. inkspill coffee Ben Parker headlined SpeakEasy, an Oxfordshire poet originally from Worcester, a passionate page poet, we all enjoyed his refreshing set.

I spent the afternoon in between gigs attempting to write some poetry for submission. Nothing hit me earlier, but I did manage to grab a title and write a poem about another subject entirely – all was not lost.

I am going to attempt to get some poetry down before bed after my long and pleasant day poeting!

Tomorrow I am meeting up with friends who can’t make my weekend celebrations and also need to buy (or bake) a cake for Stanza tomorrow night. 1 bday

 

Writing 101- Week 2: Day 7 Give & Take

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Catching up with this past week of Blogging 101 after a week filled by work, gigs and book launches.

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Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Remember those “compare and contrast” essays in composition class, in which you’re forced to create a clunky juxtaposition of two arguments? Just because that particular form was a bore doesn’t mean that opposition has no place in your writing.

Bringing together two different things — from the abstract and the inanimate to the living and breathing — creates a natural source of tension, and conflict drives writing forward. It makes your reader want to continue to the next sentence, to the next page. So, focus on your two starkly different siblings, or your competing love for tacos and macarons, or whether thoughts are more powerful than words, or…you get the idea.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

If you’d like more guidance, check out these ten tips on writing solid dialogue. In case you’re intimidated by dialogue tags — all those “he said,” “she whispered,” etc., here’s a useful overview.

Emulating people’s speech in written form takes practice, and creating two distinct voices could help you see (and hear) the different factors that play into the way we speak, from our diction and accent to our vocabulary and (creative?) use of grammar. (We’ll discuss the topic of voice more formally later in the course; for now, take a stab at writing dialogue on your own.)

 

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Deadlines vs Doing everything/anything else

“I am important. Crucial.” said Deadline.

“I know you are, but when you’re around everything else seems quite pressing and a lot more appealing.” said Everything Else.

“Charming!”

“Well it’s true, suddenly even the washing up seems like an exciting proposition.”

“But you still make room to do the right thing in the end.”

“Of course, you are not someone we want to ignore.”

“Well, you won’t gain anything if you do.”

“Tell me something I don’t know. You are able to make many forgotten emotions rise to the surface!”

“Like what?”

“Frustration mainly, although…” Everything Else hesitated.

“Yes?”

“I do find you exciting.”

“Exciting? Wow!” Deadline said smiling. “Do you think you’re the only one?”

“No I think you make a lot of people feel like that.”

“You will make me blush!”

“The time not to focus on you is when concentration is low, mistakes will happen. Like the time I tried to beat you just before a world cup match.”

“What happened?” asked Deadline.

“Well I won, unlike my Country.”

“So what was the problem?”

“I submitted the document without my personal details.”

“So you met me but messed up all the same?”

“Yes, unfortunately.”