Category Archives: Headlining

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.

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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*

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

Open Mics, Guest Spots & Book Festivals

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This week has been a whirl! Alongside the daily slog to pay the mortgage – I have been a one woman poetry machine!

I spent Monday night writing and preparing set lists. Tuesday night I went to Mouth and Music, the musical headliners were called The Blue Dive and it is their name that gave us the BLUE theme this month.

mmoct

Many open options there for new material, sadly I have been so busy with other writing that I didn’t have the time to try. I do however have lots of poems that mention blue, are about blue things, I even have a gender poem (published by Silhouette Press HCE Boy Girl Issue in 2014) which is about the historical implications of blue – so with plenty to choose from, some poems that were written last year and never performed and all new to the M&M crowd, I built my set.

mm

I was looking forward to watching Leon’s set, Leon Priestnall headlined Hit The Ode last month and he slammed it there. I am glad he enjoyed performing in Kidderminster and had a good night. His performance was confident and he met Robert Francis (of Permission to Speak) so hopefully he will be delighting the Black Country soon too.

It was a great night and I enjoyed myself immensely. There were some fab open mic-ers and great musicians and it was good to catch up with folk I have not seen in a while.

mmoct blue dive

The Blue Dive

mmoct dave sutherland

Dave Sutherland

mmoct elena thomas

Elena Thomas

mmoct leon

Leon Priestnall

mmoct me

Nina Lewis

mmoct Mike

Mike Alma

Just some of the performers at Mouth & Music this week.

PHOTO CREDIT © Peter Williams 2015

Last night I went to The Poetry Café Refreshed in Cheltenham, a monthly event held at the Smokey Joe’s, organised by Sharon Larkin. Last night was hosted by Roger Turner and I was delighted to be the Guest Poet.

It was a real pleasure to hear poems from unfamiliar voices, I say that but I had already met some of the Cheltenham 52ers at Swindon and heard David Clarke perform there too. I really enjoyed myself and considering I was sitting there waiting to do my set, I didn’t feel too nervous and was able to focus on the poems. This is a testament to the relaxed atmosphere at this event.

I am glad my set went well and was well received, I was able to promote both poetry books/anthologies I am in and my up and coming pamphlet as well as giving INKSPILL a quick mention too. I had some in depth conversations with several people from the poems I had chosen to perform and even inspired, or triggered a memory at least, for Roger, who took his scribbles home and hopefully produced a poem. That result is a good night!

Performers included;

Roger Turner, David Clarke, Gill Garrett, Miki Byrne, Michael Newman, Michael Skaife d’Ingerthorpe, Angel Whitehorse & Sharon Larkin.

poetry cafe refreshed

And tonight… saw Phenomenal Women taking place for the 4th year running at the Book to the Future Festival at Birmingham University. This is the 3rd year I have performed at Jan Watt’s event and I think it was the best yet.

book to the future

It was a superb evening of poetry from an amazing collective of women and I think what I liked best were the brave poets who got up and shared their work, students who had come to watch and enjoy and hadn’t expected to be behind the mic. There poetry was vulnerable, edgy, deeply hypnotic and amazingly beautiful.

There were also top class performances from all the invited poets. Tonight people enjoyed a showcase from;

the region’s top female poets, including University of Birmingham alumna Jan Watts (Birmingham Poet Laureate 2011/12), Nina Lewis, Jackie Smallridge (Scrubber Jack) & Andrea Smith.

b2tf me b2tf andrea

It was a pleasure to be part of such a great festival event held at the Costa Coffee, Student Centre, with generous payments of free medium drinks, after my coffee I treated myself to a strawberry and cream smoothie – which filled me up with sugary goodness and fuelled me home.

b2tf jan

b2tf Now I get to wake up and do it all again!

The Festival runs until the 17th and as it is funded the events are FREE! It is worth checking out the programme if you are local and booking something. I have treated myself to a MUCH NEEDED day off tomorrow and am going to a lecture in the morning and a workshop in the afternoon.

b2tf group

RELATED LINKS

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/bttf

HOWL – Headlining: The Sun at the Station

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Following the wonderful writing workshop with Claire Walker on the 12th August, I went home to select & rehearse my set for HOWL.

HOWL is a monthly spoken word event hosted and created by Leon Priestnall.

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

They have 3 headline acts each month as well as open mic slots. I was delighted when Leon asked me to headline earlier this year. The date clashed with Ledbury Poetry Festival and Ruth Stacey’s book launch. So I had to wait some extra time to grab this opportunity.

HOWL is always a great night, without fail you will feel thrilled by the performers and leave on a poetry high every time. I think this energy is how I set myself alight (not literally) – I was in the 2nd headline slot and had to make it through the first half and interval before hitting the stage. I had memorised part of my set and was also anxious to get the poems right and hopeful that the set I had selected would work, as I didn’t have my poetry notebooks with me.

I think all performers in this position worry about whether the material is appropriate, if this is the right audience.

HOWL

I needn’t have worried the set was well received and I was delighted by people’s comments both on the poetry and my performance of it. I think this was probably my strongest headline set this year and I look forward to smashing through my own performance barriers another time.

The whole evening was exceptional. The open mic slots taken up by extremely talented poets.

The other headliners Sophie Sparham and Carl Sealeaf blew us all away. It was great meeting Sophie and reconnecting with Carl.

I am grateful to Leon for this opportunity and I still buzz just thinking about it!

HOWL

End of August Review

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August was a magical month with lots of engaging events and writing completed.

I am currently working on two written projects: my first pamphlet and continue to edit and adjust this collection and a collection of Caldmore Gardens Poetry, we are hoping to achieve a grant to publish our poems from David Calcutt’s Poet Residency.

I had the summer off from the day job, which meant no income – but I had the joy of being a full time Poet for two months.

Over the summer there were;

5 workshops

3 performance events

11 Open Mics

1 Headline gig

7 submissions

Approached to perform at a Book Launch

My first trip to The Poetry Café, my second performance in London

My first time exploring the British Library

Application and acceptance for a one off Poetry Event to be held in October

and plenty of missed events due to lack of energy and transport/funds.

Two anthologies published with my poetry in them – Schooldays, Paper Swans Press and Birmingham Bound, Book Club

DSC06766 The British Library

WEEK 1

I booked tickets for Angela France’s workshop in Stratford-Upon-Avon, for Swingerella’s Wrecking Ball Tour, which toured to Edinburgh Festival and is back in Birmingham in September and John Hegley’s workshop in Ludlow that I have been looking forward to since March!

Claire Walker has her first pamphlet coming out with V Press in October and asked me to read at her Book Launch for ‘The Girl who Turned into a Crocodile’,Claire Walker I was delighted to accept.

I went to Stirchley Speaks to perform and support Myfanwy Fox in her headline slot, it was a lovely evening and I was able to enjoy poetry from people I have either never heard or only recently discovered. Holly Daffurn is a wonderful local poet and I cannot believe I have only just discovered her work. It was great to hear Joe Cook again too.

I had several writing days before my trip down to London and the Paper Swans book launch at The Poetry Café. I have been working on my own manuscript for a while now and also have embarked on a collaboration which hopefully (depending on funding) will result in a book. I finished my 2nd notebook of poetry over the summer and have been delighting in filling my next notebook. These notebooks get smaller every time, as once the poems are glued in they soon get heavy and cumbersome to use on stage – the other way around that issue is to recite off by heart and I am delighted to have several sets I can do just that with. I still have a long way to go to have 3 hours worth of material swimming around like Candy Royalle! It is very handy if and when I am put on the spot to perform though.

LONDON was AMAZING! https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/the-poetry-cafe-schooldays-anthology-book-launch-paper-swans-press/

WEEK 2

I enjoyed a writing working facilitated by Claire Walker (who I am delighted to find out plans to do more). https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/avoncroft-writing-workshop-with-claire-walker/

Headlined alongside Sophie Sparham & Carl Sealeaf at HOWL. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/howl-headlining-the-sun-at-the-station/

I made it to a KAF (Kidderminster Arts Festival) event eventually! It was also my brother’s birthday, so I had driven in the opposite direction, wolfed down a meal, celebrated with family and then rushed off to the event. Blair Dunlop and Liz Berry performed in the amazing space of St. George’s Church, it was a splendid event. I enjoyed meeting them both and sadly forgot to take my copy of Black Country to get signed as I rushed out with my brother’s birthday bits instead.

http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/birmingham-roller/9780701188573 You can BUY your copy here.

We had a great Stanza meeting.

I had planned to go and perform at the Oxford book launch with Paper Swans, however WLF created an event that clashed which involved writing poetry for a National Poetry Day competition and after all my busy travelling in London and Buckinghamshire I fancied staying closer to home. Also I wanted to write a poem for the NPD competition and had no idea of the wonders to be found inside Kidderminster Carpet Museum, which was open for us to find our muse and scribble away for a few hours on Saturday the 15th August.

WEEK 3

Started with my birthday (17th) that was much celebrated…. I started the festival of me at the weekend and celebrations ran for a week.

Due to these celebrations and lack of transport funds (from no income), I missed two great events in Coventry that I had planned to attend.

Fire & Dust at the Big Comfy Book Shop – which I have managed to attend just once. Reuben Woolley and Ruth Stacey were performing (19th). The following evening Antony Owen had his book launch for his new collection Margaret Thatcher’s Museum, at the Inspire Café. I was especially sad to miss this, but I know he will come and tour Birmingham at some point to promote. It is likely our paths will cross soon enough.

I was published by Nutshells & Nuggets ‘A Day at the Seaside’ one of my three Seamus Heaney poems.

I went to a special WORD UP event where they had linked with I Am Not A Silent Poet – Reuben’s website, who kindly published some of my poems earlier this year. It was different to perform this sort of material at Word Up. Alongside Reuben were the headliners Marcia Calame and Jess Davies. It was a fantastic night and a rare after party pint or two was had by a small collective. Always good to catch up with a chat, the events never give us enough time to chat and listen to/perform poetry.

I submitted one of the poems I wrote at the Arboretum workshop as part of Walsall Arts Festival.

Sunday saw my last KAF event Mouth & Music Slightly Circus, it was lovely having M&M on a Sunday afternoon, very relaxed – despite the theme, headlined by Amy Rainbow and her incredibly talented son, Merlin, on the Hula Hoops & Dave Reeves – who performed an incredible set with Heather Wastie. It was lots of fun and I am so glad other people dressed as CIRCUS for the event!

This event unfortunately clashed with a special summer OPUS which took place on a barge on the canals of Birmingham and looked immensely fun. Feedback I have heard was all positive and the photographs were wonderful.

WEEK 4

I caught up with more writing and editing. Applied for a poetry based commission – one off show organised by Caged Arts for Halloween and met up with Suz Winspear & Heather Wastie to organise and plan our NPD (National Poetry Day) performance. It was great to indulge in some extra time at the carpet museum, make extra notes and firm up ideas.

On Wednesday 26th I returned to Stratford-Upon-Avon for another workshop with Angela France. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and spent some spare parking time afterwards browsing the shops and leisurely walking down the river.

I found out about National Suicide Prevention Week and saw that Abegail Morley was taking submissions to be shown on the Poetry Shed for a fortnight in September. Unfortunately a few days passed before correspondence became a submission and by then she had been inundated. I love Jo Bell’s 52 Project and all spin off groups, but I have to say when it comes to open submissions it is a marathon of hundreds now hurtling towards that finish line. It was good to spend some time focusing on NSPW and writing some new poems.

I performed at 42, which is becoming ever-popular. It was another great and varied night. I shared old and new poetry.

The end of the month was meant to finish in Cannon Hill Park with a poetry picnic organised by Apple & Snakes & Bohdan Piasecki. The weather wasn’t good over on my side and I decided it would be a wash out – it wasn’t, again great photos and feedback. It had been a very busy month and I am not sure the extra journey would have done me good, although obviously seeing everybody would have been fun.

I have also decided to try and go to Edinburgh Festival (as a spectator) next summer. I have been meaning to go for about the past 20 years and this month have been following so many feeds of poet/ performer friends who were forging their way on the Fringe.

I didn’t go – I couldn’t afford it – but I did borrow a Library book set in the festival (‘a jolly murder mystery’ the cover said) it was a good read and made me feel a little closer to the action.

 LINKS AND PICTURES TO FOLLOW

WORKSHOPS

Claire Walker – Holiday themed Writing Workshop

Angela France – Journey themed Writing Workshop

OPEN MICS

Stirchley Speaks

WORD UP

Mouth & Music Slightly Circus – KAF

42

HEADLINE

Howl – Birmingham

BOOK LAUNCH / EVENTS

Schooldays Anthology Paper Swans – London

KAF Festival Liz Berry & Blair Dunlop

Museum of Carpet Open Day for NPD Poets

Stanza