Category Archives: Headlining

March in Review

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March felt like a funny old month. The start of the month was rocky, the usual dips and peaks were replaced with a fairly big dip, which fortunately finished mid-March, the end of the month was full of highs and gathered rollercoaster speed, positively hyperactive.

I missed out on many events I wanted to attend due to lack of time, transport and energy. My writing schedule was full and I continued to work on organising festival events as well as time spent making exciting applications. Keeping my fingers crossed.

In addition to this – we have AN EMPTY ROOM, I managed (finally) to sort the smallest bedroom which is our first redecoration project in the house Mr G and I moved into the year I returned to writing (2013). If I wasn’t writing, I kid myself that we would have finished the entire house by now. But the thing I look forward to the most is nesting new writing spaces! The room has now been empty and awaiting action for three weeks, but in that time Mr G has transformed the front garden (much to the pleasure of the neighbours) and bought a sander in preparation for the next epic challenge- actually doing the room!

WEEK 1:

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V. Press collections: Career in Accompaniment by Alex Reed, Book of Bones by Kathy Gee, Fragile Houses by Nina Lewis and The Old Man in the House of Bone by David Calcutt, with illustrations from Peter Tinkler were reviewed by Sam Smith. You can read the full reviews here http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/

Sam Smith – Reviews in The Journal. http://thesamsmith.webs.com/

It was the final Permission to Speak on the 2nd, headlined by Pete the Temp (who I first saw at Verve).

Pete the Temp is a poet, educator and musician. His work has been featured on BBC radio and TV and in 2009 he became the National Poetry Slam Champion. Pete has toured theatres across England with his one man show ‘Pete (the Temp) vs Climate Change’. In 2015 he completed the MA Writer / Teacher Programme at Goldsmiths University. This led him to become one of the world’s first full-time spoken word educators to be embedded in a secondary school. He later went on to pilot the same work in a primary school. He was subsequently invited to do a TED Talk on the subject ‘Why Every School Should Have a Spoken Word Educator’. Pete has toured all over Europe with his art and now works as a poet and street performer. Rob Francis © 2017

We are all gutted that this event (of 2 years) has come to an end. The venue – which is one of the most amazing spaces I have had the pleasure to perform in, is closing. Rob Francis is extremely busy with writing and lecturing, maybe these things are sent by the universe as the timing seems right to free Rob up for other opportunities. He also got engaged recently, so I suspect there will be a busy non-poetry element going on in his life soon too. Fortunately I was tipped off just before the night kicked off, otherwise I would have been in floods when Rob announced it to the packed out room.

As always, it was a good night with an eclectic mix of open mics, poems, stories and extracts. It was fantastic to watch Pete in action again and I enjoyed his set immensely. Several lines have become ear-worms over the past month. I had an interesting conversation with him afterwards about poetry. You cannot help but be swept away on his passion-wave of enthusiasm.

Sadly I missed out on watching him perform again at the Artrix this week as I had a gig in Manchester the next day, work and lots of submission deadlines. If you get a chance to see him, you should grasp it for sure! ‘Keep it Lit!’

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.petethetemp.co.uk/

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/numbered-boxes-by-pete-the-temp-bearder

numbered boxes People who have read this collection rave about it – it is on my list to buy.

I spent the majority of writing time organising, I am currently organising three events for festivals which is keeping me busy.

I also had an opportunity to create work for Mental Health Awareness Week (May). Sarah Leavesley has, for several years posted poetry related to Mental Health during this week. ‘The Magnetic Diaries’ deals with these issues and last year you may remember I attended a workshop at the MAC which was part of the Magnetic Diaries Tour. Sarah mentioned back then that we could share our workshop poetry. As with lots of things at the moment it fell into the ‘to do’ pile. My main focus currently is the house, promoting Fragile Houses and organising festival events. Anyway, long story short, I did eventually manage to create a new poem from the workshop and another written especially for the blog project. More on this in May.

I had a request for a poem and spent the weekend working on editing and writing. I have found this month that I am very last minute. I discovered a submission opportunity the day before deadline (always a challenge) and more recently discovered an entire festival I had missed, a great shame as there was a workshop I would have loved to have attended.

WEEK 2:

The week I forgot to live… so many events missed. I felt the dip this week – my body/mind reacts by sleeping. I spent my writing time beavering away at schedules, organising festival events and generally needed sleep before bedtime. I did wish to be a busy poet and I guess I didn’t consider that I would need to be grown-up with scheduling or with reacting to the events I miss. Be careful what you wish for!

I missed Stirchley Speaks, Headlined by Tom McCann, Steve Pottinger was performing in Ludlow at The Poetry Lounge, I missed Howl – there was a new event in Cannock – Speaking Out Midlands, where all performers were open mic, allocated 10 minute slots. Charlotte had invited me some months ago and then word was spread on social media and it attracted a great crowd and I have read some rave reviews.

It clashed with SpeakEasy and when I discovered Adrian Mealing (who I have not seen for years) was headlining, I knew that I was going to save the car some miles. I do not regret this decision, SpeakEasy was a good night and it was lovely chatting and catching up with Adrian. CONFAB Adrian Confab Cabaret with John Hegley (the last time I saw Adrian).

Suffering the dip, being in a familiar environment with people I know was preferable. I was revitalised by the end of the evening. There were lots of new faces and audience, incredibly positive for the LitFest team. Suz performed the Squid Ballroom, part of her Laureate event – more on this next month, I am one of the invited performers.

I spent Friday tying up loose ends and trying to write. I sent my poems to Rick Saunders the brainchild behind Rob’s PTS thank you gift. We (the collective at PTS) have sent writing to Rick who has printed a pamphlet (more like a book at 80 odd pages) to present to Rob on the final night – Permission to Shut Up – at the end of March. I sent my poem about the stage ‘The Secret of Scary Canary’s Stage’ and one I wrote especially for Rob all about what he has achieved with PTS and what it means to the rest of us, originally titled ‘Permission to Speak’. He should be extremely proud of his achievements and hopefully this isn’t the last we have heard from him.

spark I spent an entire evening planning a non-fiction session for my Spark Young Writers group (Writing West Midlands). Inspired by the Royal Society of Photographers exhibition I walked around last month I decided to do Science Journalism. The group thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I am still wiping sweat from my brow – I was worried in case any of them chose to write about the bee’s anus. Which was an amazing piece of photography and incredibly fascinating to look at. I was amazed by the talented articles that came from this session. Some great writing.

It was also the DeMontfort Book Fair in Leicester – States of Independence, not something they hosted when I lived there for 5 years. Leicester is where I broke my performance poetry seal and will always have a little bit of a special place in my heart. Sarah Leavesley was there with her V. Press bookshop, she also launched her new book – a novella published by Mantle Lane Press.

http://www.mantlelanepress.co.uk/product/kaleidoscope available to buy for just £4.00

It always hurts to miss out on events, I dreamed of a busy writing life and I have one, but it means that sometimes I no longer have the freedom to march across the country to be a part of special evenings. There are also the inevitable date clashes where big decisions are made. Never have cloning and teleportation been so necessary in my life!

On Sunday I missed one of the best opportunities since the Verve Festival. Bang Said the Gun – which I have known about since 2014 and watched countless clips of online is touring and they kicked off in Stafford – relatively close (would be closer if the M6 ever flowed properly) with Jo Bell and Jonny Fluffypunk (two of my old time/all time favs) and I missed it! It was Sunday night, Week 3 and 4 are full in my diary, energy was low, as were funds and Mr G and I need to spend more time together and my car is the equivalent of an old broken pull along toy with some bits missing and broken/re-knotted string! I do not trust it on terribly long journeys or car park motorways where you hear it over heat within the first crawling 100 yards.

I missed an amazing night and an opportunity to see friends from that neck of the woods too. Gutted. I did go to check out tickets and look at the rest of the tour and this was the nearest and also had the featured artists I wanted to see. I would say there will be other times, but with something like this – there won’t be. Gutted with a capital G.

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Canterbury never had anything like this when I lived there either!

Week 3:

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I knew I would miss License to Rhyme at the Artrix, featuring Pete the Temp. I had to work and manage Manchester the following evening and I spent part of Monday choosing and rehearsing/timing my set. I also spent time with family, which I hadn’t planned much beforehand and this left me hours behind on writing time. Not that it would be any other way. Family comes first. It just meant the will I /won’t I… became a definite No I won’t!

Again I heard good things about the evening and am particularly disappointed that I missed Fergus McGonigal and Lorna Meehan performing.

I did receive some exciting emails which made a night in with my inbox particularly worthwhile. And have since taken action on these – fingers crossed once again!

On Tuesday I headlined alongside Becky Cheeriman and Mark Pajak in Manchester at Sarah L. Dixon’s Quiet, Quiet Loud. I have known about this booking at Quiet, Quiet Loud for months and the butterflies went tribal. Originally looking to headline in April or May, the gig was brought forward as Sarah L Dixon is on the move and this was to be her final event at The Llyod’s.

Rick Saunders had signed up for the open mic and kindly offered to chauffeur up the M6. Unfortunately, days before his car broke down and so we were left with some last minute arrangements. In the end we hired a car (scared that mine wouldn’t make a 200 mile round trip in a night). The journey there was fine, even passing a Willis milk tanker – Rick’s stage name is Willis the Poet…  we passed the time chatting about the spoken word scene and stopping just once for the most expensive bottle of service station water – I think it was made from diamonds or something! The journey back was horrendous, closed motorways, detours and a SATNAV that was convinced the motorway junction was still open.

The event itself was worth every mile of motorway network and it was a pleasure to headline at the final Quiet, Quiet Loud. You can read my full review here and Rick managed to post his the very next day. https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/quietly-does-it/

Huge thanks again to Rick for the lift.

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/manchester-quiet-quiet-loud-headline/

I spent Wednesday morning before work recovering, I found out about the Science and Arts Festival hosted by Birmingham University and a creative writing workshop that I would have loved to attend, although it would have been a lot before work to manage. I have pencilled it in for next year as there were lots of interesting events.

I spent Wednesday night working on submissions and on Thursday mum and I went to see Verve – Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Mr G bought us tickets for Christmas. Verve-web-8-crop-1876x1055

http://www.nscd.ac.uk/verve/

They made me want to dance again, to create dance poetry and to lose myself in costume and movement. The fact that my body could barely manage to sit through a 2 hour production tells me otherwise, but my soul is still very much committed!

I spent the weekend on things other than writing and chiselled out some time at the end of Sunday to write applications and work on my writing action plan. There are some intended submissions to create before the end of the month and three sets to plan for EarthHour (25th March), HerStory (31st March) and Poetry Ballroom (2nd April).

Week 4:

The week started with a flurry of activity organising poetry events and writing. February was a busy month for making applications and devising projects and this month sees more energy focused on these and some fruition.

I spent the first part of the week in rest (working, sleeping, living) and saving energy for a series of 3 days of poeting. Which was easy as only one of them involved performing. Although I left it somewhat late to arrange a set and fine tune the details.

I also agreed to hiding some GOLDEN TICKETS for Birmingham Literature Festival. It is the 20th Anniversary this year and the team have organised a Spring Festival to celebrate. They have sent out Golden Tickets to be found in local bookshops, Art cafes and libraries. I have taken two under my wing and let them fly (and hide).

https://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/2017/03/will-you-find-a-golden-ticket/

The lucky finder wins a free ticket (worth at least £10) to an event of their choice. I want to find one of these – but it may cost more petrol money than buying a ticket. Fun idea. Great one. One I may steal in the future! First time I have ever felt like Willy Wonka… it was a good feeling.

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On Thursday I saw Hollie McNish, I love Hollie…  it has been a while since I saw her perform and part of me knew that this book would be difficult for me for personal reasons, this is why I have not yet bought a copy – but watching her breathing magic into the tale and hearing such personal disclosure and truth was wonderful. hollie 2 The event had been organised at The Hive (Library) in partnership with Poetry On Loan – well done to Brenda Read-Brown!

I had been to the basement space once with my writing group and was amazed to find the event not in the studio – that was until I saw the size of the audience! Holly thought, it being a library gig in a small city there may be about 20 people! Multiply that by 10! A smashing night.

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/hollie-mcnish-nobody-told-me/

My review of the Verve Poetry Festival went live on Sabotage Reviews. http://sabotagereviews.com/

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Stanza happened on Friday – for the first time in months I thoroughly enjoyed it – and in a strange way all of our poems were love poems (but not the sort you imagine).

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Over the weekend I celebrated Earth Hour and Mother’s Day. Earth Hour was amazing, I went to the event organised by Worcester LitFest at Café Bliss. You can read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/earth-hour-with-wlf/

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Week 5

I spent the majority of my spare time writing and editing and planning how an earth I was going to manage this final week of performances and deadlines. The solution was an A4 checklist that I had very little leeway on.

I also had another poem published ‘Rag Tree’ which will be in the Beltane anthology by Three Drops. More news about festival events I am organising/performing in and events that I am just performing in. Future workshops to book and lots of potential festival tickets to be bought. I wrote new work and edited older poems.

Tuesday evening saw the final PTS – Permission to Speak become Permission to Shut Up – as it was a work night I was worried I may not last until the end, but scribbled a new poem especially for the last event (for now), the night before and got a short set ready. I was due to headline in May, potentially Rob may have a new venue by then, but I get the feeling that he needs/wants a mini-break and this would be the time to take it.

It was a great night, all in all and I will mark the occasion with a blog post as soon as I get some spare time. I took lots of pictures and stayed until the end to see Rick present Rob with his pamphlet.

42 in Worcester celebrated it’s 6th birthday and I took a newly scribed poem to celebrate. Rick Saunders headlined Spoken Trend on the same night, which I had to miss. Please someone clone me! Event clashes… every poet’s nemesis! 42 was fun and again, I will mark the occasion with a full blogpost when I have a little time. Polly made an amazing Black Forest Gateaux cake! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. All the performances were bang on and the celebratory air was sweet.

LINKS TO FOLLOW.

With two days left of March and Easter around the corner, you may think that was it… no, I am playing the game – How much can you pack into 48hours?

Thursday I gave myself a night off from performing/events – missing out on Caffe Grande Slam in Dudley again, I will get there. I spent the evening editing a new poem (my 3rd this week) and submitting work.

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I also received an exciting email from my publisher. Another review of Fragile Houses, this time on Sabotage Reviews. How wonderful to start and end the month with reviews. You can read Rachel Stirling’s incredibly intricate review here.

http://sabotagereviews.com/2017/03/30/fragile-houses-nina-lewis/

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I discovered Claire Walker and Holly Magill have embarked on editing a new Magazine ‘Atrium’, they have both edited for Kate Garrett at Three Drops recently and this new opportunity morphed from that experience. More on Atrium soon.

I saw Heather Wastie’s Nationwide advert – which was as equally exciting as watching Jo Bell’s and what made it special was seeing it first thing before work and in the final adverts before bed. Don’t ask me how I have time to watch TV and complete my mammoth writing tasks!

Holly McNish won the Ted Hughes award (one of the judges this year was Jo Bell – busy as always). Amazing news & recognition!

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/hollie-mcnishs-poetic-motherhood-memoir-wins-ted-hughes-award-518171

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/29/hollie-mcnishs-funny-and-serious-poetry-wins-ted-hughes-prize

I received news of another successful Festival bid for this summer. More on this soon.

I completed the month with a Woo Feminista event HerStory at Café Bliss. I will blog and link it up here as soon as I can.

And now I am ready for NaPoWriMo, Poetry Ballroom and a rather-already-regrettable booking of an almost full week of work! I booked Monday off as I have 3 consecutive events this weekend and will be typing until my fingers go numb finishing my writing tasks over the next 24 hours!

I hope you all had a good month too. Leave me some of your highlights in the comments, it would be great to hear from you.

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Keep Writing x

Manchester – Quiet, Quiet Loud Headline

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Last year Sarah Dixon contacted me about headlining in Manchester, originally the booking was set for April/May- but due to Sarah relocating my spot was brought forward to March.

I booked time off work and made arrangements. I was originally going to do an overnight and what I learnt from this experience is how to be sensible… gigging further afield, it is probably best to stay overnight. Fortunately, Rick Saunders (a.k.a Willis the Poet), signed up for the open mic and offered to drive. Unfortunately his car broke down the week before and we ended up hiring a nifty little number to get us Northbound.

Manchester isn’t all that far away, but after a day of work and with butterfly nerves I did not fancy driving. Plus I have an inherent fear of the M6! That pesky Toll road…

Our journey out there was easy, didn’t take long. We found the venue and headed off for some tea before going to the The Llyod’s Hotel. Our journey back was horrendous with motorway closures, traffic jams and a satnav that was convinced the signs suggesting junction closures were wrong.

BUT – it was all worth it!

Quiet, Quiet Loud is an incredible event that Sarah has been running for two and a half years now. I can imagine the loss to the local poetry community (having just experienced the end of PTS at the Scary Canary).

March 14th Quiet, Quiet Loud

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Guests Mark Pajak and Becky Cherriman and Nina Lewis

Mark Pajak was born in Merseyside. His work has been published in Magma, The North and The Rialto (among others), been highly commended in the Cheltenham Poetry Competition and National Poetry Competition and won first place in the 2016 Bridport Prize. He has received a Northern Writer’s Award from New Writing North and was 2016’s Apprentice Poet in Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival. His first pamphlet, Spitting Distance, was selected as a Laureate’s Choice and is published with smith|doorstop.

Becky Cherriman is a writer, workshop leader and performer based in Leeds. Published by Mslexia, New Walk, Envoi, Mother’s Milk, Bloodaxe, Well Versed and in Poets For Corbyn, she was resident poet for Morley Literature Festival in 2013 and lead artist for Altofts Festival In A Day 2016. Becky is a co-writer and performer of Haunt, a site-specific theatre commission for Imove, a project about homelessness. She is currently working on her one woman show with voices, Corseted. Her first poetry pamphlet Echolocation and first collection Empires of Clay were published in 2016 by Mother’s Milk and Cinnamon Press respectively. www.beckycherriman.com

Nina Lewis is widely published in poetry journals and anthologies, including Abridged, Fat Damsel, Take Ten, Hark, Here Comes Everyone (HCE), I am Not a Silent Poet, New Ulster Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets, Under the Radar and Visual Verse. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015/2016 runner-up, Nina often performs at spoken word events and literary festivals. She was commissioned to write and perform poetry on ‘ecology and the city’ at the Birmingham Literature Festival in 2014. Her haiku have appeared in an art installation at the Midlands Art Centre, on the Poetry Fence at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm and in Municipal Bank Vaults for an International Dance Festival. Nina’s work also formed part of the poetry trail for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014. Fragile Houses, published by V. Press autumn 2016, is her first pamphlet.

I was really excited to meet Becky and see Mark again (who I first saw perform at Waterstones last Autumn with the Poetry Business).
It was a thrill to stand in a room I had seen on social media for years! The standard of poetry was really high and there were plenty of open mic spots. An appreciative, poetry loving audience and bundles of talent. It was lovely to see Sarah again and hear her poems, many from her pamphlet collection (fingers crossed for this to make publication soon). I had the pleasure of reading through a draft copy for her last year. She chose some strong poems to share with us.

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Becky Cherriman was the first Guest Poet to take to the floor. I love it when I do not know a poet and have no idea what to expect.
I was moved by Becky’s set and need to buy her book, she was a wonderful performer and her poetry ran a gauntlet of emotions. An incredibly powerful set. It was good to meet her.

I would have bought her book on the night but with hire charges and petrol/drinks etc. my cash was a little light. I will catch her again and you should too. A gifted poet who deals with all shades of life. I still have her poetry in my head a fortnight later.

http://www.beckycherriman.com/

Mark Pajak took us into his world after the interval. I was looking forward to hearing his work again and thoroughly enjoyed his set. It was good to hear more from him. He is talented performer and an engaging poet. He writes about some seemingly bizarre incidents and is not afraid to share them, despite being advised not to. I appreciate that rebellious side. His work is like nothing I have read or heard from anybody else, unique. Prizewinning and extra special.

Mark Pajak

I was nervous having watched these masters at work and really wanted to change my set – but having timed it I didn’t think it was appropriate to cast last minute changes. I find my pamphlet fairly difficult to share as I want to give the audience enough of the sizzle and taste but don’t want to take them on the whole chronological journey or indeed read all the poems in the book. I have seen other headliners (with pamphlets) sharing several newer poems too, this may be the way forward – but I am not entirely sure. It may be like when you see a band and want them to play the albums and they slip in several B sides… I have always been a fan of the B side.

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It was a pleasure to be invited to the final Quiet, Quiet Loud and read in Manchester. It was an inspiring evening filled with poetry buzz.

If you want to read a review of my set, check out Rick’s blogpost below.

RELATED LINKS:

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/quietly-does-it/

Review of October

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Review of October

Week 1

Following advice I was trying to not be too busy pre-book launch but after a week off events I took my writing group for Writing West Midlands, watched all the poetry coverage on BBC2, missed another writing deadline and decided that I would drive to Cheltenham to Buzzwords and catch David Clarke and Cliff Yates (another new-to-me poet).

Buzzwords was great, I realised I hadn’t been for over a year. I had a fabulous evening and do not regret it, despite it being the night before my launch. I read my latest poem – a work on tribal philosophy and have some poetry drafts from the workshop to work on when I get a chance (Christmas holidays maybe).

I had imagined I would spend Monday getting ready for the evening – but in reality I missed writing deadlines, overslept, did everything I could to reduce the nervous anxiety of what if no-one turns up and finally at about 2pm started to get organised.

I am going to write a full post about the launch and some follow up posts about the organisation aspects, as there is a gap of relevant information in this area.

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Waterstones Book Launch for Fragile Houses in Birmingham with Guest Readers – Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. It was a cracking night, the next morning I woke up to go to work and it felt like a dream.

The following evening I headlined at Stirchley Speaks. I have been headlining since Autumn 2014 but this is the first time I had a book to sell. I did leave home without them and had to turn back to grab the bag, I knew there was something I had forgotten. Since this night I have started using a large event handbag and always carry a couple of copies.

Stirchley Speaks was a great night and I sold lots of books, I realised at this point I had underestimated how many I should order. Taking advice from Jane Commane back in 2014 who said that audience doesn’t necessarily convert to readership. I was aware not everyone I know will buy the book. I have a list of people who want a copy next time I see them too.

It was good to catch up with everybody in the P Café and it was an incredible night of poetry.

The next day I contacted my publishers and ordered another box.

I hadn’t submitted any poetry for a while and had news of one of my poems being published in the USA. More on that when it happens.

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I treated myself to an evening off and a little rest before National Poetry Day, which is fast becoming one of my favourite dates on the calendar.

I collected my new batch of books and went to Suz Winspear’s NPD event in Worcester. As Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz is working hard this year in the city and found a brand new venue for the NPD Event. Berkeley Almshouses was the venue and some of the residents came to enjoy the event. It was a great evening and the old chapel had fabulous acoustics and suited Suz very well.

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This year’s theme was messages and I certainly sent a few texts whilst trying to track down the entrance to the venue. Great sets from everyone and I got to catch up with Math Jones (up from London) and Ruth Stacey. I even sold a book!

I spent the weekend Fri- Sun at Swindon Poetry Festival, it was 2nd year there and much as I loved it last year, this year was EVEN better! It deserves a full post and as I pretty much did everything on the programme, will certainly need one. A great way to finish an exhausting, fantastic week in my poetryskin!

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Other great news was Matt Windle became Birmingham’s new Poet Laureate and by the end of the week I had sold over 50 copies of my book!

 

Week 2

Started with a recovery day. I started to create Poetry Films, something I have got hooked on. Last year Sarah Leavesley kindly tutored a group of us in the art of production and I was inspired by the Poetry Films I had seen at Swindon. There are several poems in my pamphlet that I will rarely perform. These are all now Poetry Films.

On my recovery day I spent some INKSPILL admin time and rehearsed a set for Licensed to Rhyme. Roy McFarlane was headlining. It was a great night and I was allowed to sell my pamphlets, they had a table and everything.

The next evening I went to Ledbury to the Poetry Salon where Deborah Alma was reading and finally got a copy of her book, ‘True Tales of the Countryside’, a beautiful Emma Press pamphlet. deb-alma2

I unexpectedly performed in the open mic section. Fragile Houses reached Ledbury. It has since reached Palestine, Malta, Holland and Australia to my knowledge. It was a wonderful, rich evening and great to see Ledbury folk again.

This week was also Birmingham Literature Festival and due to work commitments and events was the first time since coming back to writing (2013) that I missed it. The night after Ledbury Liz Berry and Benjamin Zephaniah were performing and also Gregory Leadbetter had his book launch for ‘Fetch’ (Nine Arches) at Waterstones, Birmingham with Angela France and Jo Bell reading.

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© 2016 Nine Arches

I was gutted to miss both these events but with working and poeting I had no energy and if I remember rightly was asleep as soon as I had finished tea.

The following night Luke Kennard was performing in Birmingham and I missed it because it clashed with SpeakEasy, where I was already performing. Roy McFarlane was the feature and it was a joy to listen to him twice in one week.

Fragile Houses received a Chez Nous Review which I was delighted to discover came from Gram Joel Davies. He actually chose some of my favourite foods – go and have a read.

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/chez-nous-recommendations-for-fragile.html

By the end of the week I was run down with illness and missed Holding Baby a play by Jan Watts and the rest of the Book to the Future Festival (again for the first time since 2013). I hope to catch the show another time, I have heard nothing but good things about it.

It was great to finish the week with a Madhatter Review http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/books–e-books.html

 

Week 3

Fragile Houses has positive reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.

I was asked to do something that I am really excited about, more on that next year. I spent days preparing for INKSPILL in shifts of 8 – 12 hours.

Mr G and I went to London to see Woven Hand.

I was too tired to manage Hit the Ode and Smokestack Poetry Evening event clash), both in Birmingham, both top nights. I also missed the Dylan Thomas Festival, running for the first year in Cheltenham. Unfortunately it clashed with INKSPILL this year.

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I signed up to an online course ‘Arts for Health’ and performed poetry for ‘She Speaks Her Mind’ Woo Feministas – alongside Suz Winspear, Charley Barnes, Claire Badsey & Holly Magill.

Then of course it was INKSPILL with Gaia Harper, Roy McFarlane and Deanne Gist. This was the 4th year for us and it was a success. I already have Guests and plans lined up for 2017.

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The Magnetic Diaries – which I saw in it’s infancy in Hereford last year was on at the MAC and although I couldn’t make the show I did make Sarah Leavesley’s workshop ‘Pain to Poetry’. I have some poetry notes and one poem so far from this and it was a challenging (emotionally) but not unpleasant experience. I also got time to reconnect with many poetry friends I have not seen in a while.

 

Week 4

I spent the early part of the week writing. I entered a few free poetry competitions. I took some bookings for next year and exchanged pamphlets with J.V Birch through the post. She is a childhood friend, now living in Australia and has also become a poet at the same time as me. It has been exciting to map and mirror each other’s journeys through this new world.

I dressed up for Halloween as a ‘Cereal Killer’ and went off to perform at the Halloween Special 42 in Worcester. Where (due to the wig) people didn’t recognise me. It was a fabulous night and a great excuse to dress up. Fantastic sets from everyone.

42-oct            42-hal

42-hal2

photos by Liam Cortintias

The next day I had to do my best to get all the make up off and go to a workshop run by Angela France, the theme was Fairy Tales and I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and even sold a few books.

I listened to poetry on Radio 4 and missed my Stanza meeting to take part in a Charity Quiz night. All teams of 8 and due to circumstances we ended up with just 4 in our team. We were going for the Booby Prize but decided it was hard to share a bottle of wine and so started to get answers right. We came in 5th not too shoddy, somewhere in the middle. Over £1000 was raised for MacMillan.

I hoped to go to Lania Knight’s workshop, having missed her last one due to a crash on the motorway, but this weekend we celebrated a special family birthday.

 

My Book is 1 Week Old TODAY!

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My book is now a week old and what a busy entry into the world it has had.

On Monday I was joined by the lovely poets; Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker to launch Fragile Houses at Waterstones, Birmingham. It was a fabulous night that deserves a blog post of its own, (on the TO DO list).

On Tuesday it was treated to a night out at Stirchley Speaks, where I headlined alongside Lydia Scarlett, who stepped in to fill the mighty shoes of Carl Sealeaf.

On Wednesday I gave it a night off.

On Thursday it celebrated National Poetry Day in Worcester, sharing the space with new poems all about messages. ‘Linger’ is a poem about messages, so that made it to the set, but the rest of the book was available to buy.

Then… da, da, daaa… the book went to Poetry Swindon. Hilda Sheehan let it share tablespace with the big boys, which was generous as most of the writers/publishers represented on the book stall were also on the bill. It sold well. Having rested on the book table isn’t as exhausted as me.

I am hugely grateful to everyone for their support. If someone had told me 3 months ago I would launch a book at Waterstones and have a copy with Daljit Nagra and another copy in Palestine, Bethlehem I would not have believed it. The latter have happened through the generosity of two poets who probably want to remain nameless. Let me know if you don’t – as I will gladly sing your praises!

I have seen both Angela France and Jean Atkin in person and was able to thank them for endorsing my debut pamphlet.

And it has been made into a film… well, not quite. I made a poetry film with ‘Journey’, one of the poems in the pamphlet. Now hosted on my YouTube channel.

 

WHAT A WEEK IT HAS BEEN!

Buy your copy here £6.99 (including P&P) – UK

FRAGILE HOUSES

Collaborative Set in the Black Country – Performing Poetry

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This year I am achieving something I attempted in 2015 (and failed) to perform less and write more. I will still support the regular open mic poetry events I enjoy, just not on a monthly basis. I am always on the look out for new and unusual places to share my words and accept such opportunities readily.

I met Dave Reeves in 2013 on my first return to the poetry mic with Julie Boden in Leamington. He MCed the event as well as performing with his squeeze box and harmonica.

Among many other things Dave does, he is Poet in Residence at the Black Country Living Museum (which is well worth a visit/ family day out). https://www.bclm.co.uk/learning/poet-in-residence/453.htm

The Works’ Canteen is a monthly spoken word night hosted by Dave Reeves and is an event I have scribbled in my diary before now.

There are headliners and open floor spots available and with the £3 admission comes free tea/coffee from the Rolfe Street Café. Which was much appreciated, as was the irony of having a Breakfast Tea at 7:30 pm.

https://www.bclm.co.uk/learning/the-works-canteen/758.htm


 

Tuesday 1 March 2016

 Guest poets: Jan Watts plus R.M.Francis presenting  Permission to Speak b2tf jan MM3 Rob Francis

Jan Watts, poet and playwright returns in words to Wales for St David’s day. Join the former Birmingham Poet Laureate and find out about Flat Head, Di Bungalow and the food you have to eat  in one day on a Pembrokeshire Farm. If you want to know what Jan’s surname almost became – this is a one time offer to find out.

Rob Francis runs the ‘Permission to Speak’ nights in Stourbridge. Tonight he’s been given a permit to The Works’ Canteen where he’ll be introducing some of the regulars from the spoken word and music venue.

MC for the evening is the Black Country Living Museum’s poet-in-residence, Dave Reeves and, as usual, there will be floor spots available.


I was one of Robert’s poets representing a cross-section from PTS. It was great being part of a collective and I enjoyed listening to all the sets.

Jan Watts was fabulous, as always. She opened her set miming putting daffodils in a vase, it was St. David’s Day and she had left the bunch of real flowers on her passenger seat!

The open mic spots were good and it was a pleasure to hear some poets I had not met before. It was a lively and enjoyable night in the café behind the gift shop. I hope to make it back in a few months time.

MM dave pw

© Peter Williams 2015 KAF ‘Mostly Circus’ Mouth & Music

RELATED LINKS:

Dave’s website http://www.textician.co.uk/

Review of the Month – February 2016

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February has been an amazing month. I love writing in the start of a fresh year, seems that all possibilities are achievable and the cold air is enough to keep me chained happily to my desk/dining room table.

I continued to write new material and submit work this month, although I did overload my Action Plan and found it quite unmanageable. A lesson to take forward now into March. There were a few opportunities I didn’t feel ready for that I hope will come up again next year and will fit in more with what I hope to be doing by then. It is hard to make such decisions but I have learnt that it is important to objectify and consider what you can gain and what will be the challenge in choosing that path at this moment in time. It is wisdom that comes with growing older for me as I have always taught myself to say YES, YES, YES!

This month I have headlined, performed poetry sets, done open mics, written new material, researched, edited, submitted and been published. I have run the full writing gauntlet and occasionally felt the pummel sticks.

sammy

It was also Sammy’s funeral, I have written about this at the end of the review.

Week 1:

  • Promotion
  • Application
  • Submission
  • Headline
  • Daniel Sluman Book Launch
  • Emma Purshouse/ Open Mic
  • Published
  • WWM Young Writer Group
  • National Libraries Day – Liz Berry

I sent a poem to Emma Press for approval for the Waterstones Love Poetry Night, supported WWM promoting the Worcester Writing Group.

Headlined Stirchley Speaks at the P Café along with the wonderful Mark Kilburn and Alisha Kadir. Booked onto a workshop.

Went to Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch for ‘the terrible’ and finally met him and Emily in person. I had a superb evening and was able to enjoy the words of Angela France and David Clarke, two poets I admire greatly, all published by Nine Arches.

the terrible daniel sluman

After the book launch I hotfooted it back across to the Black Country to catch Emma Purshouse in action at PTS Permission to Speak, although I arrived in the interval the 2nd half was long and jam packed full so it was worth the extra miles to get there and I did get to watch Emma – it has been too long. It was good to be back in Scary Canary as it has been a while since I have been able to attend Robert’s night due to double booked dates.

My three romance poems written in January especially for a brief of how we love in the 21st Century were all accepted for publication by New Ulster.

My two Spider poems written for the Maligned Species Project were published in e-book form. You can buy your own copy £2.99 Spiders E-book Fair Acre Press money raised goes to local wildlife charities as stated on the Fair Acre Press website.

My Writing West Midlands Young Writer group worked on our book focusing on an alternate history (AH). It was a great session, we hope to have the work finished by late Spring. The group has grown recently but we still need to secure new membership – 12 to 16 year olds if you know of any in the area looking for fun creative writing/hobby.

WWM

I just had time to get home and eat before rushing back out to celebrate National Libraries Day with an evening of poetry from Liz Berry, which was wonderful. Her work fills me with spirit or the spirit of her work, the essence leaves me within a cradle of positivity, I just feel younger afterwards and full of that hope, that a younger me felt.

NLD LOGO

I spent the last day of the week writing and creating my overly ambitious action plan.

RELATED LINKS

Stirchley Speaks Headline

Daniel Sluman Book Launch

National Libraries Day Liz Berry

 

Week 2:

  • Submission
  • Research
  • Published
  • Open Mic
  • Love Poetry – Emma Press

I heard last month that Fair Acre Press had taken both my spider poems for publication in the maligned species e-book series, this week they released the Grey Squirrel E-book with another of my poems included. Squirrel E-book £2.99 You can buy a copy here, the price point is to keep it affordable for all, the content of each collection is outstanding, it truly is a bargain and you are making a charitable donation at the same time.

Nadia Kingsley and all her commissioned poets and eco-experts have worked tirelessly for months on this project and it would be great if the response for the e-books was as strong.

maligned

I submitted a poem to Visual Verse based on the American Gothic and from writing this poem built up a body of research I would like to explore further when I have finished working on current projects.

I booked a place to perform at the Feminist Fundraiser to raise money for Refugee Action.

refugee action

I went to Sammy’s funeral. Later that evening a few of us went to HOWL at the Dark Horse in Moseley, we were still pretty much propping each other up but I think Sammy would have approved. I performed my valentine poem, the one about the volcano and the whales.

I missed the final SpeakEasy with Maggie and Fergus at the helm because I was one of 10 performers sharing the stage before Liz Berry took us through her heart-warming set of love poetry and more. It was great to perform at Waterstone’s in Birmingham and to meet new to me poets too, not to mention listen to Richard O’Brien read from his pamphlets and Liz Berry of course. Phenomenal as always.

DAlma The next day, inspired I sat down at my desk after work and researched and wrote new poetry. Now with the submission fairies.

I am amazed that I survived these two weeks as well as I did as I was also working full time for the first time in years too. At the end of the 2nd week it was also Mr G’s birthday and Valentine’s, so I had to schedule collapsing for Monday!

RELATED LINKS:

Love Poetry with The Emma Press

Fair Acre Press Maligned Species Project

 

Week 3:

  • Editing
  • Bookings
  • Workshop
  • Performing
I did a lot of desk work (writing) as it was Half Term. I have been working on and editing my manuscript (that was left to settle with time at the end of 2015) since January and this week my main focus was to pull it together and resubmit. This is a long process and not only takes time but the brain needs to be fully immersed and engaged too. I tend to be a little flighty at the best of times, so I really forced myself to settle down with tasks and deadlines. I even cancelled a workshop because I needed the time, that and I didn’t feel 100% and the thought of driving and thinking about something else was not appealing.
I booked a spot at The Black Country Museum next month where I will be part of a PTS showcase sharing work at Dave Reeves open mic night, featuring Jan Watts.
I finally made it to a Crunch Workshop at the P Café and came away with one or two ideas I need to log. The traffic and weather were awful though, so it put me off venturing out again for Poetry For Lunch, besides I am still trying my best not to over-do it on the gigging front.
refugee
I saved my energy for Millie Morris and her Fundraising event for Refugee Action at the Ort Café, a night of Feminist Poetry (not everyone stuck to the theme) but when the soapboxes came out the crowd responded appropriately. Lots of difficult subjects were covered and many people had to stand the whole night (venue was packed), it was a buzzing night and a successful fundraiser too. It was very brave and inspired for Millie to host such an event and it was rocket fuel for minds and hearts, everyone got something back in return for turning up, being there.
RELATED LINKS:

Feminist Poetry Night for Refugee Action

 

Week 4:

  • Writing
  • Published
  • Open mic
  • Submission
  • Stanza

I was back to work this week and it also my younger brother’s birthday. I had my poem ‘Restraint’ published on Visual Verse.

I researched the Valentine Day Massacre, another notebook filled with promising poetry ideas for the future, although beyond macabre. I was writing the poems to perform at 42, there were a few of us who took the theme literally.

I did battle with the end of my action plan – which was so complicated I copy and pasted a new end of the month list. I submitted some poetry and wrote a new poem in my lunch hour to take to Stanza.

I had the lovely surprise of post that wasn’t bills but my contributor copy of the gorgeous Abridged Floodland issue magazine.

The weekend saw me make a few last minute submissions and thereby avoiding all household lists of things I need to do, (now added to the March plan)!

 *a test to see if Mr G still reads my blog*

me 2

RELATED LINKS:

Nuclear Impact, David Bowie, Al Capone

And on the extra leap year day, I did not propose to Mr G, to be honest I forgot I could until we were chopping up veg for our amazing tea. I didn’t write a new poem. I worked hard and kept my temper around youngsters who were losing theirs, I marked books and smiled impressed by some of the detail. I drove home through road works, caught up with some telly. Prepped that meal that Mr G made and caught up with this blog.

 

Rest in Peace x

BL RH Sammy Joe © 2015 Rangzeb

Sadly, February also saw our goodbyes to Sammy Joe (Samantha Hunt), her funeral was on the 10th February.

A day of reflection and tears, helium hearts and balloons released to clouds as people from all walks of life (friends) and family laid her to rest. Sammy kept all her circles separate but a good deal of cross over occurs. I knew it would be a sad day (total understatement – as I still can’t really find the words) but I hadn’t prepared myself for how I would feel afterwards.

There is not a day that passes without me thinking about her. Sometimes not thinking, but I see her face right there even as my mind focuses on a computer screen or making the dinner.

The day of the funeral the weather had been forecast as rainy, overcast. Usual for the time of year. The sun shone, brightly and despite some darkening clouds not much rain fell and nothing but sunny skies for the duration of our time at the Crematorium.

To lose a friend at any time of life is horrible, to lose them unexpectedly is even worse and to have mixed feelings about their passing, knowing they should still be here on earth makes it feel unbearable.

When that person belongs to a community it makes it easier because you have each other to reach out and share grief together. So a big thank you to poetry friends (nowadays just called friends, I think) who have carried me through this difficult time.

 

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Stirchley Speaks and my Kindle

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February Edition – 2/2/16

It was (as ever) a great night in Birmingham at the P Café. Jess Davies hosts a brilliant night ‘Stirchley Speaks’ – an open mic spoken word event hosting 3 feature acts. I was delighted to be asked to be one of the headliners this month, alongside Alisha Kadir who I’ve known on the circuit since 2014 and Mark Kilburn who I met through Stirchley Speaks a few months ago. His poetry is filled with wisdom, life, passion, pain, sometimes humour  and it was a joy to hear a full set of it. If you get a chance or see his name on the bill, GO!

Alisha Kadir

Alisha Kadir; guitarist, poet, activist, artivist… generally all round creative individual who is an active member of the Midlands arts scene. She’s performed at the NEC, TEDxBrum, Opus Club, in pubs, coffee shops and people’s kitchens. We look forward to sharing with you a combination of her music and poetry.

Mark Kilburn

Mark was born in Birmingham and lived in Denmark for a number of years before returning to the West Midlands in 2004. Between 1996-8 he was writer in residence at the City Open Theatre, Arhus, and in 2002 was a recipient of the Canongate prize for new fiction. Between 2004-5 Mark was on attachment at the Birmingham Rep and in 2012 his poem about the London riots, Milton Friedman Talks Disaster Capitalism in a Burning Hackney Diner, won the AbcTales.com poetry competition. Most recently, Ballad of a Claret and Blue Boy, a poem celebrating Aston Villa, was featured in the club’s compilation of fan memories prior to the 2015 FA Cup final. Mark’s novel, Hawk Island, is available from electronpress.com

Nina Lewis

Nina Lewis is a published poet, with a fresh and honest approach to her writing. Her writing focuses on honest recollections, retold with often beautiful imagery, as well as being able to touch on more lighthearted moments. She had previously stopped writing for fifteen years and now finds herself back on the literary scene – the journey of which can be followed on her blog awritersfountain.wordpress.com

© Copyright P Café

 

The Kindle Bit (rant)

It was great fun performing an entire set, as I used new material, I also took my Kindle out for its first bought-with-this-intention outing. I have fought against this particular tech since e-readers where invented. A pain in the heart for any bibliophile, and being gadgetry you can’t even safely spray it with old-book-scent. But then in 2015 I read an article in a writing magazine that assured us they were no longer thought to be replacing the book (I mean if Apple can stop making I-pods?!) … and I started to thaw a little. I took a plane to Poland and I was the only passenger with a paperback (and no, no-one had a hardback either) and finally on the circuit I have seen plenty of people using them. I occasionally use my mobile, but I have to enlarge it, which means a lot of scrolling. Also the fact they cost 50% less than they used to is another factor.

I know deep down I am still a little unsure as it was only released from the packaging this month (it was a Christmas present from Mr G). However, I LOVE IT! So much lighter than the laptop and more screen friendly than the phone, perfect at home. I still use the laptop for writing though but have the office packages to import documents onto it. I know the cloud and ever note and the rest of it all exists – but you’ll understand, if I don’t think about it – it’s not real!

Anyway, loved performing with it and it worked well to keep me on track although I did deliver a slightly different set to the one I had prepared.

Pcafe 3

Lots of positive feedback and a definite emotional response to the more tear jerking poems. I love it when people come to talk to me afterwards, not for the ego boost or praise but to find out which words have lingered, what are the poll poems, what happens to the listener. More and more the feedback is detailed and I get what I need to hear as well as the compliments (which don’t get me wrong) are good for me to hear too. Knowing I am on the right track for my life is what really matters, the creative soul/spirit is in balance and I am a better, happier being for it.

The open mic-ers were amazing and included some real treasure and this evening Stirchley had music and dancing too. I know Jess started it with a spoken word concept and is willing to branch out and have performers open the night up with something different from time to time.

A fantastic night and a great way to start February!

 

Review of the Month January 2016

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What a strange start to the year, so much change and loss. I do not feel that I can write a review of this month without a mention of Sammy Joe, who sadly passed away on the 5th January. Events that I attend weeks later are still making tributes to her and many of us still cannot believe that she has gone. Her funeral is early February and a donation page has been set up to raise money for Mental Health Charities.

Many of us (artists and non-artists) suffer mental health issues from time to time or all the time, it is the nature of using our minds, the depths a creative soul can rise and fall. Anyway instead of flowers some of us are pledging a donation in the hope that other people can experience a better kind of care and understanding.

I for one find it difficult to imagine not seeing Sammy at an event again, my thoughts are still very much with her family and close ones, her daughter and everyone who has known her. Whether you knew her for a few years or more, she will have touched your life in some way either through her brutally honest poetry or through conversation or her cuddly hugs. I wish I had known her for longer than I have, I feel good to have known her and thank her for all our heart to hearts.

Rest in Peace  Sammy x BL RH Sammy Joe © Rangzeb Hussain 2015

 

 CHANGES ON THE CIRCUIT – EVENTS

This month also saw the end of Mouth & Music for a while, back in 6 months time hopefully.

SpeakEasy will still continue as it is part of the Worcester LitFest but after two years at the helm Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal are retiring from organising and MCing the event, the last chance to catch them hosting will be next month.

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JANUARY – BACK TO WRITING

For me January was the month I learnt to swim again *not literally. The end of 2015 from November onwards saw a slow decline in productivity, I found I was unable to write, by December I was barely trying. I had the weight of other things crowding my mind and the ‘love of writing’ spell broke for a while. This deflated me, as it was the first dip I had felt since embarking back into a writing life. It usually makes me feel great, even during periods of editorial rejection or non-submission, but by the end of 2015 I had ground to a halt. I knew I would pass GO again, just wasn’t sure when. I tried not to worry, but wasn’t happy with the negative projection I was giving writing.

I knew I would still carry on with this dream, but was dreading January becoming another winter month of no writing.

Fortunately the month kicked off a few days in with a Claire Walker Workshop, in which I managed to write a poem and faith was restored. The action plan was drawn up and I organised 4 writing days this month as well as working evenings and weekends to get everything done. There has been a lot of editing too.

I wrote over 21 new poems and submitted work to 9 different places. See I told you I meant business. It still amazes me that organising submissions can still take 3-5 hours even when the material is ready. A few revision lessons in not leaving things to the last minute, have managed that well as everything to be sent by 31/1 was actually out by 3oth! Leaving me a whole day at the end of this month to get ready for February. Yes the Action Plan is already saved.

This is my year of WRITING (I keep telling myself).

2013 the year for (re)learning and finally finding poetry

2014 the year of the gig, festivals and commissioned work

2015 the year of headlining and writing my first chapbook

2016 the year of editing/writing

I have had poetry accepted by I Am Not A Silent Poet, Abridged, Maligned Species Fairacre Press. A total of 5+ poems out there for eyes to read. That’s smashing. I will write more about these publications next month.

Contaminated

Your Sentence of Non-Guilt

Poems for Ashraf Fayadh published in I Am Not a Silent Poet

Expectation – Abridged Floodland Issue

Colonisation

Quantum Wonderment – Fairacre Press, Maligned Species Project Spider E-book

I also discovered the poetry of Patience Agbabi. I went to watch her perform at The Hive. I enjoyed a night at the 52 Launch this evening and will blog about both events next month.

Week 1

Workshop – with Claire Walker, new poetry written, performed at The Ort, booked Headline slot for February.

Week 2

Booked tickets for Patience Agbabi & Liz Berry, performed at Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy, went to Poets by the Lake to watch Sarah James, Bert Flitcroft & Roy McFarlane – an event facilitated by David Calcutt, submitted poems, wrote new ones – including some I performed in my set at SpeakEasy, Daniel Sluman invited me to his book launch in February.

Week 3

Wrote and submitted more poetry, published on I Am Not A Silent Poet, thanks Reuben Woolley, I read a lot about Ashraf Fayadh and watched other poets and politicians performing his work, there was an online event on the 22nd in support of his release but I was working my day job and unable to participate. I received a nice rejection email from Little Lantern Press, I had sent work for the next anthology on Loss back in 2015. I started to research modern love and wrote a poem about pearly presents which I took to Stanza.

Week 4

I did a lot of research for the Maligned Species Project which was released by Fairacre Press back in the Autumn and naturally I left it until the last week to work on submissions. It is a really interesting project which again I will blog about in more detail, I have had 2 poems accepted for the spider e-book. I am delighted to have a poem published in the next issue of Abridged too, I was accepted 3x on Friday night – that was a buzz and shows what an activated action plan can achieve!

I am still working on my manuscript and have by-passed 2 self imposed deadlines. I know the editor would rather have a manuscript that is ready though, especially after all this time. It has been on the top of the desk this week and I am part way through.

I was sent an email which made my day/year – someone on twitter had tweeted that in the whole of Paper Swans Press ‘Schooldays’ Anthology the end line of my poem was their favourite line in the WHOLE book! I have read it (RECOMMEND) and know how good the poetry is!

I made more submissions and received another rejection from a magazine I have tried to break since 2015 – does one give up or keep going?

I watched Patience Agbabi perform at The Hive – wow – wowed!

I signed up for a Warwick University course Literature & Mental Health – which starts in February. I started using my Kindle Fire *Thank you Mr G – Christmas pressie!*

I have just come back from the launch of the 52 Prompt book at the MAC, more on this soon.

I wrote my ACTION PLAN for next month!

 

Writing, Research, Performing & Watching

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This week is one of those weeks that feels as if it is going on forever (in a good way, I think)! I have managed to work this week and get my nose to the writing grindstone too. Which is fortunate as I have just accepted a short-term contract for the next fortnight and will have precious time or energy left for writing. I haven’t worked full-time since my illness, but it isn’t for a long period of time and I have a week off after to recoup…well, after Mr G’s Birthday/Valentine weekend.

Next week I have writing deadlines, a headline slot at Stirchley Speaks along with Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. It is also Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch and Emma Purshouse is performing at Permission to Speak, which (depending on energy levels) I hope to make. On Saturday I am working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) and in the evening watching Liz Berry as part of National Library Day as well as working with small, terrifyingly energetic four year olds! I think the blog posts may have to wait.

the terrible daniel sluman

Maybe next week will seem as endless as this one, it is good when time feels stretched this way.

This week I have been taking chunks out of the Action Plan. Writing around the day job, as many of us have to do. My main focus was on a project that needed lots of research, which I managed to write 5 new poems and have enough material and ideas to generate more when I get a moment to write again. I have submitted this poetry and now have my fingers crossed for a positive response.

I have also been editing the manuscript, which really needs to be emailed. You know that thing when something is as written as it can be for now but you keep chipping away at it. I heard an interview with David Calcutt this week, where a comment about editing struck me because I think not only is it true of my own poetry/writing progress, but is also part of my learning of 2015 about writing once you have had work accepted and it is part of an editorial process.

David on editing poetry: ( paraphrased) some people ‘polish the diamond’ – diamond poetry is strong, hard, well executed, beautiful but it is what it is and doesn’t leave room to be anything else. Poetry can be equally as good but not as polished, where there is still breath in the work, it has been overly re-written, it allows the reader space.

I guess it is that fine line between polishing something so it shines and polishing it so hard it becomes so hard to handle it slips right out of your hand to the floor. I am always aware of ‘authentic voice’ in poetry, this may or may not be a bad thing. I know we all work differently and that my manuscript is in exceptionally safe hands editorially. It is just me learning to let go more I think.

The things that we dream of are new realities and experiencing them in real-time is different to how they were imagined.

42

I also had the pleasure of a Poetry Event, so far this year (and I know we are only weeks in), I have managed to maintain my resolution of cutting back performances and events in order to create more writing time. This was my first performance in two weeks. It was the first 42 event of 2016 and as there is no December event it has been a good while since I had seen some people. It seemed a little strange wishing each other Happy New Year at the end of the month. These spoken word nights are themed – and as you know, I pride myself on writing to theme. This month’s theme was extremely challenging:

‘Around the Myths in 80 Words’ – I liked the play on title but researching and writing the poetry was a different matter. At the end of two days I was happy with all 4 poems and they were ALL just 80 words (sometimes editing is necessary to success). I wrote about Hercules and Achelous, The Rainbow Lady – A Goddess in Mayan Myth, Welsh myths from Cader Idris. Cader Idris is a mountain in Gwynedd, Wales, found at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. I also wrote a poem based on Urban Myths.

I really enjoyed the evening and there was some great writing born from this challenging prompt. It was a late night and there are currently night works on the main exit roads, making my journey home close to an hour, on a work night! I tried not to let this dampen my spirit last night as it was such an enjoyable evening.

Also Andrew Owens shared the exciting news that rather like my local roads, the bar where he hosts 42 is having a renovation. Hopefully this will leave us with a great new performance space for the rest of the year. The pub has bands playing on the stage weekly too and the room could use some TLC, I am sure the new owners of the pub will do themselves proud. I cannot wait for the unveiling.

42 superhero Most of us are hoping the performance post disappears.

Today I heard that one of my submissions has been unsuccessful, you know when you really want to crack a publication and you submit time again to be rejected… well I have decided that since doing battle in 2014, 2015 and now this year to wait until I find a perfect match between the issue theme and work I have already written because creating to theme in a style that matches the publication doesn’t seem to be working. I will crack it.

I realised whilst playing with diary dates and deadlines that 2016 is in fact my Olympic year. I am in the 4th year of writing (technically 3rd year of poetry – two under the belt), so this will be the year I take stock and so far I think it is fair to say that I am not giving up on wordsmithing, nor will I ever. The 15 years I have taken off in the past was enough and the success and feelings I maintain writing show me that this is the right path. I know I won’t need 16 years to achieve what I am striving for – but still I look forward to taking stock over the next 4 Olympics nevertheless.

2012 brighton 427

I have also taken some time to compile my set list for Headlining next week and have finally taken my new Kindle Fire out on the open (or not quite so open) road to 42, one of the reasons I wanted one was to use for performing. I look forward to setting it up over the weekend for next week’s readings.

macwhatshappeningcouk

This weekend I am going to watch Patience Agbabi at The Hive and go to the MAC for the 52 Launch Party before collapsing in a heap and getting some sleep before next week. I hope that the in a night-out a night pattern that fortunately fits the week will keep my head above water.

Patience Agbabi in Worcester

Telling Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the Sights

Standard

all sorts 09 10 022 Today is a celebration – 3 years of this blog, I spotted the WP Trophy icon on the site! I went for a wander around the data and was happy to see the growth in traffic, visitors and followers year on year. This wander down memory lane landed me in the New Year posts from 2015. After I read them and recalled how I felt this time last year in my writing skin, I decided to write this post.

Last year in this post Truth & Rainbows I wrote about goals/resolutions and I know I have said this year is all about my house (which it is), I still have a growing poetry/writing skin to fill. This blog was primarily started to keep tabs on my writing life. It has become so much more than that to me and hopefully to you, but from time to time I want to take it back to the original detail. This is me, starting a new life, I am a writer. (2013) writing

I have often said that what the world sees is the tip of the iceberg and actually they never see the part under the surface. We all know too well those internet lists of incredibly successful people who started with a series of failures, some lasting decades. I always wanted to mix the downs and ups, tell you about rejections and so on, equally I want to mark the successes.

So I have lifted this list from the review post Truth & Rainbows. It isn’t just about blowing my own trumpet, it’s to get you to think about yours and realise that if you keep on, you will get there.

Reviewing Resolutions 2015 – Reflecting on 2014

ARCHIVED NEW YEAR / GOAL SETTING LINKS

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/new-year-new-you-writing-resolutions/

It seems last year I did make resolutions, the best thing about this post  ^ is knowing the results 12 months later;

Here are my resolutions –

I am working towards a collection of poems for a pamphlet. I sent 2 manuscripts, both were rejected but one showed promise and I continue to make this my personal project of 2015. The process has opened up a whole new world. I had the wardrobe, now I have to find my way around Narnia!

I am starting work as an Assistant Writer with hope of having a position as a Lead Writer in 2015. I am coming up to 12 months as an Assistant Writer for WWM and have also been 1 of 3 writers picked as mentors for a term.

I am going to have a big presence on the Performance Circuit in the hope of being booked for guest spots by the end of the year. I managed 107 events, some were open mics, other were gallery openings, art projects, festivals, commissions, collaborations, everyone of them was a delight! I performed alongside many amazing people and have just had my 2nd Headline/ Main guest booking!

I will submit poetry for publication. I did! Some was published, others rejected, all were new writing fresh from my pen.

I will write some short stories for competitions. I did, I have shelved this as I was not particularly successful in this field although I corresponded with some incredible people and had a few close misses. However, posts I wrote back in 2013 about writing short stories are still top of the stats several years later.

2016 – Reflecting on 2015

I am working towards a collection of poems for a pamphlet. In August 2014 I submitted a manuscript and in January 2015 this was accepted for publication. It has been a long, hard year and somewhat disappointingly my work is not yet out in print. I am in the final editing stages and have learnt a lot from this process. I know that the final pamphlet will be stronger for the additional work that has gone into it and will mean so much when I finally get to hold a copy!

As I didn’t enter the poetry world until October 2013 I mark this acceptance almost within the first year of writing, 14 months after starting my poetry was accepted. Even if it will take a while longer to be read.

I am starting work as an Assistant Writer with hope of having a position as a Lead Writer in 2015. I was given the Lead Writer position in September 2015. I happily continue and have just planned our first session for 2016. There is also a new project I am hoping to be involved with for our groups this year.

I am going to have a big presence on the Performance Circuit in the hope of being booked for guest spots by the end of the year. In my first year I performed poetry at over 107 events, some were poetry festivals and commissioned events and collaborations. My biggest achievement was a poetry commission to write and perform at Birmingham Literature Festival 2014. In 2015 my headline slots started at the beginning of January and I was booked throughout the year at various venues. I hope to keep this up and of course having a book to sell will help!  

I think I performed at about 92 events in 2015 (not much of a back seat was taken), including book launches in London, Poetry Festivals (a wider net was cast), commissioned performances and a finalist in Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition (3rd Place), my first ever Poetry Brothel Experience with Caged Arts and 5 other selected poets, I was also part of the Quiet Compere Tour 2015, Worcester – Stop 6, which was booked way back in April 2014 and had to be kept a secret!

I also completed some Poetry on Loan training and organised the best INKSPILL yet, our annual online writing retreat, this year marked 3 INKSPILL retreats and next year plans are afoot for some expansion.

I will submit poetry for publication. I did! Some was published, others rejected, all were new writing fresh from my pen. I got into publications that were on my ‘dream list’ too.

We have to put up with so much rejection in this field that I think it is essential for some positive reflection.

So have a think about your own writing desires, how far have you come? How close are you? What will be your next step?

© Copyright 2011 Leo Norrie

© Copyright 2011 Leo Norrie