Category Archives: Literature Festival

Review July 2018

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July

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Photo by Natalie on Pexels.com

 

Week 1:

July – the season of Festivals. Ledbury Poetry Festival (30th June – 8th July) kicked off with a weekend of events I had hoped to manage. Work has been exceptionally busy and I have grabbed any time I can at the weekend to just recoup a little. My Ledbury Saturday (which was also a reason I couldn’t make this year’s National Writing Conference) was much diminished.

Sunday saw the morning at Evesham Festival of Words and Polly Stretton’s final Poetry Walk Event. It was lovely that she acknowledged those of us who have managed all three of these. It was also great that I had time to stay for the extra reading which takes place in the Almonry Gardens after the walk. http://www.almonryevesham.org/

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/evesham-festival-of-words/

I booked events for the Autumn and promoted several current projects. I also started firming up plans for Australia and the Perth Poetry Festival in August.

On Tuesday I went to Ledbury to the Homend Poets – who were launching the 11th anthology and a small collective of PoARTry poets promoted the Launch (11th) by reading some of our exhibited poetry. It was a great night – slightly soured by the M50 slip roads being closed for Roadworks and adding time onto my journey home. I had recorded the match (World Cup) and had to avoid using the radio and sadly, the 1.5 hour round the rigging route home meant I was met by revellers leaving the pub and rather giving the result away! I did witness an amazing sunset with the Malvern Hills which I would have missed if the roads had been open.

I managed to secure at least one musician for our Launch event. Bonus.

Much as I wanted to go to Ledbury for Pascale Petit and Tishani Doshi*  I had no energy after work for a mid-week jaunt across for an hour. *Tishani was part of the inspiration behind one poem in my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’.

I also wanted to go back the following evening to see Martin Figura –Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine. I spent a few days buckling down promoting events and organising shows and magazines from my desk in the evenings.

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The week finished with a rehearsal for our poetry show 30-40-60. Which was brilliant and made the three of us want to do this show again. None of us can quite believe it has been a year since the premiere event at Worcestershire LitFest 2017!

 

Week 2

Much as the first week of the month work kept me busy with report writing and assessments. I received an exciting invitation for November, more news on that once plans get firmed up.

My main focus was PoARTry at Ledbury. We had our launch night on Wednesday 11th July (another England World Cup game… this time slightly given away by the raucous cheers from the pub next door)!

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© Rick Sanders

It was a great event, mainly the Artists and Poets attended but some of us brought guests so there was an audience. The Exhibition itself did really well.

A more detailed review can be found here.

Thursday saw Ben Banyard Headline SpeakEasy in Worcester, a poet (from our 52 gang) who I wanted to meet and hear in person. It was a great evening in a new venue and the first time this event has been hosted outside. The garden was set for a wedding the next day and was beautiful. It was a fun night! Read more here.

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© Kathy Gee

Friday saw a staff meal (nice to be invited) and then Saturday there was a workshop I wanted to attend in Walsall but after a full week of work and 3 nights out on the trot I needed a breather before Charley Barnes’ Book Launch in the evening.

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I was delighted to be a Guest Poet alongside Claire Walker, Sarah Leavesley and Holly Magill. As it fell during Droitwich Artsfest they advertised it as an Artsfest event. It was well attended and an exceptional evening. A pleasure to welcome Charley to the V. Press family. Read more about this sparkling evening here

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

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I had the day off on Sunday – except I didn’t – I spent 6 hours sorting and editing film for our 30-40-60 performance. As well as working on a current Stanza project, sorting Issue 4 of Contour and organising paperwork for the trip to Australia.

 

Week 3 

On Monday night I spent another 5 hours in the cutting room, editing the new film for our event the next day.

On Tuesday 17th July Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself performed 30-40-60 in St. Andrew’s Church as part of the Artsfest. We had a small but mighty audience, it was a wonderful evening and lovely to hear people on the Open Mic and see poets visit Droitwich for the first time. Lots of people commented on the venue and of course the show.

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Read more about it here.

Also if you missed it – there is a review here. With thanks to Mad Hatter Reviews.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/30-40-60-performance-review/

One of the exciting things about an International Guest Poet is I get to attend plenty of workshops throughout the festival. I have had the schedule for a few months but now the programme is out was able to book into them. I am as excited about this as I am about being part of Perth Poetry Festival!

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I also had more exciting news – again under wraps for now.

Work finished – another splatter of excitement after a 3 month lock in! It was lovely working with such a great team. As everyone met in the pub to celebrate I stayed in and got an early night because my weekend was a wild one! Poetry WILD that is!

ArtsFest traditionally have a poetry day and for the past 2 years I have had the honour of organising it!

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We started at 2 PM with Poetry in the Square – my guests this year were John Mills and Liz Mills, two poets I met through 52. They put me up for the night before Stafford Festival – it was a welcome return to Stone for me – I lived there for a few years – and we have been friends ever since!

They are also brilliant poets and between us we managed the 2 hour stint in town.

Then I rushed off to Worcester to Guest Poet at Kieran Davies’ Book Launch for Legacy, published by Black Pear Press. Which was a great event, a true celebration – read more about it here.

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Then back to Park’s Cafe for Poetry Extravaganza and the first UK reading of ATOTC. It was a delightful evening of poetry.

ATOTC ME © Rhys Jones – Droitwich Arts Network

Read about it in full here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/artsfest-2/

 

Week 4

At this point my diary suggested (because I pencilled it in – in May), taking the first 2 weeks of my summer holiday off from poetry events and prepare for Australia… to a certain extent I have missed events I would have otherwise attended, but as always there were some which slipped through that I couldn’t possibly miss.

The week started in Ledbury collecting work from the Exhibition. PoARTry was a great project and I know I will be staying in touch with my artist, Molly Bythell.

I got everything organised for my trip except money and mini-toiletries! It took a while to find cabin luggage small enough for the airline restriction and a while longer after that to choose just 1 piece! I also invested in a large but extremely lightweight suitcase… mine date back to when wheels were first introduced and the handle extends only 6 cm from the corner… they work like a supermarket trolley with a wonky wheel and have mainly been used for storage. Travelling with soft bags and backpack ever since! However, I am not backpacking and the last time I used that on Long Haul it caused a few problems, so decided to do the respectable suitcase thing!

Tuesday saw Poetry Bites at the Kitchen Garden Cafe with Jonathan Edwards and Holly Daffurn headlining. 

Thursday I was in Stratford at a workshop and Friday I went to Stanza, where there was even more exciting news.

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This weekend I received my copy of Hex – by Jennie Farley, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Jennie was kind enough to ask me for an endorsement. It is the third book I have endorsed and it was a pleasure reading it. It is a mesmerising collection and I look forward to the official Launch in December!

Hex – Jennie Farley IDP

I also approached Guest Writers for this year’s INKSPILL online writing retreat and both have confirmed (exciting), so I spent a little time on this promotional film to encourage you to book it into your diaries NOW!

Find out more INKSPILL 2018.

I am now spending the rest of the month working on 3 writing projects, editing and organising myself ready for Perth!

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Evesham Festival of Words

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

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

Check out the programme here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘Poetry Walk’

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

 

© Evesham Festival of Words

 

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

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The End Run was just the Warm Up

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So my Poet Laureateship ended at the Launch of the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe at The Angel Centre on the 10th June. This was the space Suz Winspear held her amazing collaborative DanceFest event ‘Poetry Ballroom’ in last year, when she was Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

 

 

WLF The Launch

The Finalists this year were Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley.

Following my performance Charley Barnes introduced the winning poet…and who is the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2018/19?

Betti Moretti! Congratulations to her and all the finalists this year.

It was a great event and congratulations should go to the WLF team for pulling it off.

 

Here’s a little look back at some of my year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am delighted to have discovered new writers and assisted some others on the point of giving up. I have published over 200 poets in 7 collections and 4 magazines and completed projects with America and France.

I flew our WLF flag internationally and welcomed poets from bordering counties into the exceptionally talented scene in our Shire.

 

 

 

People keep asking what I will do next. Truth is (as those who read the blog know) I am always busy. I guess I didn’t talk about it as much as it comes across as slightly me-ego, but as many future plans involve seedlings from the Laureateship, maybe you will get to hear about my work.

I will, as always remain super busy!

My first plan is to prepare for and enjoy the 4 performances I have managed to squeeze into the LitFest. I will be performing poetry at these events: (7-10 minute Guest Spots)

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Weorgoran Pavilion Festival: Sat 16 June

And if that wasn’t enough, this year The Ring have teamed up with WLF to bring a little poetry to Worcester. I will be performing at 12 PM on Saturday 16th June.

Award-winning art, architecture and design studio NEON has created an amazing stage, especially for Worcester. It’s part of The Ring, a Canal & River Trust ‘Arts on the Waterways’ project celebrating a 21-mile circle of natural and historic waterways in Worcestershire. The Weorgoran Pavilion takes its inspiration, and its name, from the Saxon origins of the name Worcester and its translation, “the people of the winding river”. It’s the venue for a free family-friendly festival featuring a soundscape by acclaimed Ledbury born musician Dave Crowe, which plays at selected times.
Bring something to sit on, indulge in a tasty treat from local sellers and enjoy yourself!
Check our other events for the programme on each day of the festival.

 

12:00-13:00 Litfest Takeover featuring Nina Lewis & the newly crowned Worcester Laureate, Betti Moretti.

 

For more information on the programme and how to book tickets check in at my old WPL blog.

Whilst you are there… I spent the week before the festival launch making Countdown films ’10 Days’ check them out too or click here.


PoARTy

I am currently working on PoARTy – Ledbury, in collaboration with Artist Molly Bythall. We have created 3 works, stemmed from work we had already produced – it has been a joy to be part of this creative partnership. There are 16 poems which have come from it although only 3 will be on display. Watch out for more news on this project facilitated by Rick Sanders, who is also taking over my WWM role as Lead Writer with the Sparks Young Writers Group in Worcester come September. (It is all change!)

 

 

Our work will be displayed in July.

 

Heritage Poetry Project

Funnily enough I attended a workshop with Angela France recently where we looked at/wrote about trees and I thought about the potential of this project, which was mentioned at a Stanza meeting at the end of last year.

Our Stanza group spent the day before the WLF Launch in the Forest of Dean writing poetry amongst trees for a project led by Andy Hoaen who has been involved in a survey/heritage work ‘Veteran Tree History Project Speech House Survey’. His vision:

I would like to see this as an opportunity for an encounter between two different ways of seeing the world, archaeology with its rigorous approach routed in scientific “objective” description of place and space, and poets with their ability to succinctly capture the essence of things and provide an imaginative subjective view on the world.

There may well be another exhibition in the future.

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Ludlow Fringe Festival 

I will be joining some of the ‘Me Too’ Poetry Anthology Poets to perform poems at a special event on the 19th June.

I went to Deborah Alma’s Book Launch for ‘Dirty Laundry’ – Nine Arches Press at Waterstones at the end of May, for her Ludlow Launch she is having Guest Poets and a collective of ‘Me Too’ poets perform.

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Writing & Mental Health, working in the Mental Health setting.

 

The Last WWM Sparks YW Group 

The 16th June is my final group as Lead Writer at The Hive in Worcester, I shall be sad to see this end but I have been working as an Assistant/Lead Writer & Mentor for WWM since 2014 and we all know when we apply that these are not renewable positions, the opportunities need to be given to other writers too.

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Stratford Poetry Festival 

I was involved in a School Poetry Project with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and on the 16th children I sent poems and poetic challenges to will be performing their work as part of the festival.

 

 

 

Book Launch 

Ghosting For Beginners Anna Saunders, published by IDP. 24th June Cheltenham

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Ledbury Poetry Festival – where I hope to manage at least 1 glorious, poetry packed day!

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Guest Poet

Delighted to welcome Charley Barnes into the V. Press family and doubly delighted to be reading at her launch. 14th July Park’s Cafe, Droitwich 7PM charley b v press

 

Organising Arts Festival Poetry Events 

Artsfest takes place 30th June – 28th July in Droitwich. I am very excited because Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself are going to be Performing 30-40-60 again, our collaborative Poetry Media Show.

17th July 7:15 (7:30 start) St. Andrew’s Church. For more information: 30-40-60

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Following on from last year I am organising the Poetry Day events again. On the 21st July 4 Poets will be performing in St. Andrew’s Square between 2-4 PM

Nina Lewis (Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate)

Roy McFarlane (Former Birmingham Poet Laureate)

John Mills

Liz Mills

 

 

In the evening there is Poetry Extravaganza in Park’s Cafe from 7PM (7:30 start) the first half will be the traditional open mic sign up and after the interval 12 Poets from the team of 24 ATOTC UK Poets will be performing from the Special Edition Contour – A Tale of Two Cities.

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For more information: http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-and-prose-readings/

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-extravaganza/

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In between these events (as like last year) I will be hot-footing across to Worcester to perform as a Guest Poet at Kieran Davis’s Book Launch of his 2nd collection ‘Legacy’, published by Black Pear Press.

Then I plan a fortnight of R & R before jetting off to be an International Guest Poet at Perth Poetry Festival, Australia.

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Writing wise the desk is heating up also. I am currently working with my next manuscript, compiling the final issue of Contour the WPL Magazine and publishing the final WPL Anthology Collection ‘Every Word Counts’ – Science/Maths poetry.

Later this year I shall start working on the WPL Anthology and later still on my first collection.

So I will be fine, I will be busy, I am a poet… one who will always remain an ambassador of words.

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018 Book Your Tickets NOW!

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The end of my Laureateship is 2 days away which means it must be time for the Launch of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018!

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We are just 4 days away from the Launch of WLF 2018 and this year there is a great programme of events, tickets can be booked online and I urge you to attend as many events as you can, fill your boots with words!

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This is the 8th Year for the team and a decision was made to reduce the number of festival events on offer. Now, for many festivals this would be bad news but the quality of these evening events (note: new DAYTIME slot for the Launch) mean that there is still something for everyone and plenty on offer.

It also means the WLF Team and Festival Volunteers will not suffer burn out after hosting a packed week of events. It is only fair they get to enjoy the festival too. 


Sunday 10th 

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Monday 11th 

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After the wild success of this event in our 2017 festival we

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May Review 2018

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May was a huge month for editing and writing and marked my final full month as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, a position I have loved. Who wouldn’t want to be an ambassador for poetry? I was also juggling working full time with a full schedule.

Week 1: 

Still learning how to balance full time work with a writing career, I found a lack of energy and time were enemies to my To Do list.

My final Worcestershire Poet Laureate submission windows opened. One for Scientific/Mathematical poetry in honour of Stephen Hawking and the other for the final edition of Contour WPL Magazine, Issue 4 Celebration & End of an Era.

 

 

I spent most of the week working on A Tale Of Two Cities Special Edition Contour Magazine.

I received news of a recent submission being successful. One of my Jinney Ring Sculpture Workshop poems is to be published in Domestic Cherry Issue 6. I join many poetry friends in this issue and what is more we get to read our poems at an event in the Swindon Poetry Festival, which is great. This will be my 4th year attending Swindon Poetry Festival and it is always amazing. Last year I was booked as a V. Press poet in V. Formation, reading alongside Stephen Daniels and Gram Joels. This year I knew I was heading down after National Poetry Day (I have a booked gig), now I know I will get to read too. Wonderful.

My role as Reader in Residence for West Midlands Reader’s Network was wrapped up in an evaluation which took an incredible amount of time to write, but future funding depends on such things and I was able to use some of it in a public review for Warwickshire Libraries too. I sent reviews of Book Review Workshops and the Poetry on Demand event for the Rugby Library website.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/a-word-from-nina/

I received finalist poems for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Poet Laureate Competition. I have a fortnight to judge these poems. I am looking forward to discovering who the finalists are on the 10th June. This year the finals will be held at The Angel Centre – which is the 4th venue for the WPL finals.

Over the weekend I secured an interview with Kate Garrett on her recent charity venture ‘Bonnie’s Crew’, took some poems for a polish and prepared for the final WPL event at Hanbury Church.

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Week 2:

Started with a Bank Holiday and sunshine. I hosted the final WPL event, a reading at Hanbury Church of our Sculpture Trail poems from the Jinney Ring workshop. A full review of the event will be posted soon. To my delight this event has also lead to future work.

 

 

It seemed strange that this was it, as far as WPLaureating goes.

I had tight deadlines for copy, reviews, interviews and editing this week. Promotion has started for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival. Scott-Patrick Mitchell is responsible for a lot of the streaming online. He has sent interview questions to use as part of the Marketing & Promotion of the festival. I completed the bulk of an interview on time but had a few questions that needed a more considered response. Everything is in place for the marketing machine now though.

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I spent some time prepping Q&A for the ‘In Conversation’ event at the BMI.

I was fortunate enough to get to PTS (Permission to Speak) which featured the Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists taking over the hosting for the evening and featuring artists from The Black Country Broadsheet project. It was a great night of high energy hosted by Dave Pitt featuring: R.M Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger & Casey Bailey. I shared my NaPo poems (not all 30)! A full review can be found here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/mighty-force-poets-prattlers-pandemonialists/

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The following night I headed over to Birmingham to the BMI (Birmingham & Midland Institute) for an In Conversation & Reading of Fragile Houses. Another fabulous night in the John Lee Theatre. Read the full review here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/open-conversation-bmi/

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This was a great opportunity to reach a new audience and was booked last Winter, I had been looking forward to it for a while.

I am delighted Roy McFarlane is the Poet in Residence there and look forward to his programme of events and get more involved in Birmingham again.

I planned to spend the weekend editing, I mainly slept – being a busy poet and working full-time is not easy. I did manage a good shift on ATOTC and got the main frame of the magazine complete – overcoming lots of horrendous formatting issues. Sadly I realised I had missing Bios and so put a call out for those.

I am hoping that before the end of the month we will have the special edition ready for upload.

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Week 3:

What is a perfect way to start the week? A workshop with the exuberant Ash Dickinson of course! Having missed the opportunity to do one in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme!

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Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/ash-dickinson-workshop-licensed-to-rhyme/

It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week.

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Lorna Meehan headlines next month – so I need to get my diary free *although I think it falls during Worcestershire LitFest.

On Thursday I had intended to hit Birmingham at the Twisted Tongues event (usually held in Derby), however after a long day at work and with a weekend of events scheduled I did the sensible thing (very unlike me) and spent the night in the garden enjoying the end of the sun before having a relatively early night.

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I spent a lot of the week compiling the Special Edition Contour Magazine and chasing poets for photos.

On Friday I whizzed from work straight to The Hive in Worcester for a Book Launch. Cutting the Green Ribbon – debut poetry collection for Katy Wareham Morris, published by Hesterglock Press.

ctgr-poster-as-jpeg Katy was joined by Guest Readers Holly Magill, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – it was a superb night of poetry. Full review coming soon.

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I surprised myself on Saturday by firstly forgetting there was a Royal Wedding (I was reading poetry books and working on a submission) and secondly by writing about it. I had not planned to and I know many poets balk at this sort of sentimentality – but important events during one’s Laureateship ought to be marked and so I found myself with laptop on lap, catching up with images from the BBC whilst watching the ceremony from the point of the Bishop’s Address onward and I did manage to write something.

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https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/the-royal-wedding/

I finished the week being a Poetry Judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Launch at Parks Cafe.  Sarah celebrated the launch of her new novella Always Another Twist and latest poetry collection How to Grow Matches. It was a charity event in aid of St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester and a fantastic evening (even if I did want to run away with the prizes)! A full review will be posted soon.

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Sarah was joined by Guest Readers: Holly Magill, Jenny Hope & Liz Kershaw and the night was MCed by Charley Barnes.

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/news/award-winning-droitwich-author-to-hold-special-book-launch-at-charity-evening/

 

Week 4

The week started with a well earned day off work to fill with Poetry work. This year I was invited to be part of the Living Library event at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester. The event is organised annually by Librarian Linda Bromyard and enables several classes from Year 7 to come and meet real writers and talk to them about their work. Again, I will be writing full reviews of work from May soon and this event will certainly be given one. It was as inspiring for the adults as the students, I would have loved something like this when I was studying English.

 

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14543190.Authors_bring_school_library_alive/

The deadline for judging this year’s WPL finalist poems came around fast. I enjoyed reading this year’s entries, I am not so much enjoying sitting in judgement at the finals, but will part of a team of 5 judges and it is part of the WPL remit accepted last year. My hat goes off to poets who judge competitions with 100s of entries, it is a tough job.

I FINALLY gained access to the Arts Council portal (being trying since 27th April) only to find the decision was a no. Ironically the new system is more suited to individual bids, I used the British Council funding scheme a joint venture with the Arts Council. I rushed to get mine in before 1st March deadline and may have been better to wait for the new batch and changes in the system.

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Still, I took on the full time teaching role to pay for it and now I have the freedom to enjoy it evaluation free. The bid was to cover my travel to Australia for the Perth Festival and some workshops back in the UK after the event. At least I learnt how to apply for funding and also had the pleasure of analysing statistical data which shows my work this year has impacted on over 360 individuals.  Lots to celebrate.

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On the same day I discovered this failure I was also Headlining at Poetry Bites. It has been a while since I headlined a gig and it was a pleasure. Again full review waiting in a queue.

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I had to plan my Australian workshop and send a 200 marketing blurb this week. It is based on themes pulled from Fragile Houses and is going to be great. I am really looking forward to this experience and have scheduled time when term finishes to get prepared. The review of July will be simpler – it will just say…

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Preparing for Australia!

I have also been working on the final three WPL projects:

  • Contour Issue 4 WPL Digital Poetry Magazine
  • Twin Town European Poetry Exchange
  • Every Word Counts – Science/Maths Anthology

Contour Issue 4 the Celebration issue is still open for submissions until my final day as Laureate 10.6.18, I have been busy catching up with the Headliners of SpeakEasy for the interview section and have an article or two to add (new feature).

Twin Town 

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Most of the poets involved managed their poetry exchanges before the deadline, I stepped in and wrote a response poem and a Town poem in case the final poet didn’t manage it. We are now just waiting on a final response poem from a poet who received it over 2 weeks late, a June deadline has been negotiated and I have secured my good friend Nathalie Brooker to work on my French translations. This should be live in June, publication is planned for 10th June, the day I end my Laureateship.

Every Word Counts 

I spent time long listing poems from the 30 day submission window.

 

Extra Bit 

A much needed break from work, 9 days in my poetry skin.

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I planned my penultimate WWM Spark Writers group – they are sad to see me go, they are not the only ones. My sensitive poet’s heart could crack with all these changes!

I spent some time organising the first of the UK ATOTC readings. A collaborative of 11 who will read call/response poems during the 2nd part of the evening as part of Artsfest 2018.

I made the final promo pushes for the last 2 WPL submissions. Had a lovely night at Waterstones celebrating the Launch of Deborah Alma’s new Nine Arches Press collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ a full blog post owed for that night too!

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I made it to 42 and the newly refurbished Drummonds for a night that was pure entertainment.

I finish the month with mild exhaustion and the hope that the few submissions I have managed to make this month will find themselves a home amongst pages. Fingers crossed.

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June

June sees the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival, the crowning of a new Poet Laureate, the finalists in the running are Sarah Leavesley, Betti Moretti & Peter Sutton. The Launch takes place on the 10th June 2:30 pm at the Angel Centre, Worcester and sadly will mark my last day as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

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Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

Other events to look forward to are: Meet the Authors, Stanza in the Forest of Dean for a Forestry/Poetry project, the rest of the WLF Programme, I am performing on Tuesday at Night at the Museum, Wednesday at 42 Special with the Anti-Poet, Thursday at SpeakEasy Festival Special and Saturday as part of The Ring Project.

I am performing as part of Ludlow Fringe Festival, have my final ever WWM Spark Young Writer Group, attending the Stratford Poetry Festival for the schools project with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, attending and performing at a few book launches and finishing the month with Ledbury Poetry Festival.

At the desk I am working on a current manuscript, prep for Perth Poetry Festival (Australia, not Scotland), Contour Issue 4 Digital poetry magazine, The Twin Town Poetry Anthology & a collection to mark the passing of Stephen Hawking featuring Science/Mathematical poetry Every Word Counts.

Plenty of work to absorb the extraction of my Laureateship! And who knows in between I may even get to write and sleep!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

April Review 2018

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This month saw a return to full time work and as a result I missed a fortnight of poetry I had planned. Which I still haven’t really forgiven myself for.

Week 1: 

Started with the Easter weekend and some time offline. I registered AWF on napowrimo.net and spent most of my time organising the long overdue exhibition at the Jinney Ring of our Sculpture workshop poems.

I am also involved in a Shakespeare Birthplace Trust project with local schools in Stratford-Upon Avon and received letters from two children who I then wrote a peace poem for. I made that sound easier than it was, the one child requested a humorous poem. I have a repertoire includes about 20 funny poems (which sounds a lot, but I have been writing for 4 years now)! I had a 6 day deadline and the poems had to be received by post. I managed 2 poems which I am proud of and hope that they are excited to be working with a Laureate.

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I started the long process of editing and digitally compiling the Special Edition of Contour Poetry Magazine. Proof copies were sent out in March and now I have to fix edits and complete the desk top publishing, due to work commitments I know that it will be May before this issue is live. I had hoped for an April release originally.

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I have worked on ATOTC A Tale of Two Cities since July 2017, one of the first long term Poet Laureate projects, it has been an amazing project which saw poems exchanged between UK and USA partners throughout 2018, all copy was back on my desk by March and after all the hard work of the 47 people involved I want the issue to be the best that it can be. I would rather take more time over it than hash it out this month, I simply no longer have time scheduled for it as other items, events and work have to take priority.

Even when these magazines are seemingly ready they have historically eaten another 14+ hours in the end process of conversion and upload.

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I worked on the Suffragette Anthology – now live over at the Worcestershire Poet Laureate site Suffragettes Anthology.

I had a workshop in Stratford with Angela France, we wrote about trees and it was warm enough to sit in the garden, unfortunately a sunny day + Easter break saw Stratford full of tourists and this meant our usual haunt was not available for lunch. Sitting on a wall opposite the river chatting with Angela was a bonus though.

The following day I was facilitating a workshop with the Basement Project, I booked 3 with this charity back in November as part of my local Laureate work. The charity support young people 16-25 who are or are at risk of becoming homeless. It is a great team there and I have already established work with them post-Laureateship, which is great.

Find out more about them here.

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I started NaPoWriMo and over the weekend took some of my Napo poems for editing treatment.

I finally got to see Idle Women on tour – it had been nearly a fortnight since I inhabited the world of poetry, due to tiredness I missed 42 at the end of March and had not been out to a poetry gig since Earth Hour.

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It was the 2nd time in as many weeks I had had the pleasure of going out with my mum, we saw the ROH ballet at the Artrix the Tuesday before and then shared Idle Women.

Idle Women is theatre/spoken word/poetry/music, read the review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/not-so-idle-women/

They still have tour dates in May, catch this show if you can. You will not be disappointed.

Week 2

I continued to write a poem a day for NaPoWriMo.

I took the Sculpture Poem Exhibition to the Jinney Ring. It is now on display in the restaurant near the entrance, an entire wall of poetry. They are able to keep it up for the next month and this means that when we have our Hanbury Reading at the Church in May, the poems will still be at the Craft Centre for visitors to go and see. Also I am hoping that this will in turn promote the next Sculpture Trail workshop in September 2018.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/poetry-exhibition-at-the-jinney-ring/

 

 

I started to write copy for the Worcestershire LitFest Festival Programme, the Poet Laureate Review, traditionally this has been half a page, I requested a full page and still edited out over 200 words! I had a lovely evening out with poetry friends.

I had my final workshop at the Basement Project planned and got up early to prep for it, unfortunately it was cancelled as some of the mums who had booked their children onto it were unable to make it. I will hold another Junior workshop in October half term.

I wanted to go to Scary Canary for Permission to Speak as Natalie Burdett – a poetry friend from 2014/15 who is now doing a Phd in Manchester and has just had her pamphlet published by the Poetry Business. http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/natalie-burdett I missed her set and the entire evening as Mr. G was on a course in Worcester and I met up with him afterwards for a Cinema date, we weren’t home in time, plus we had just been on a date. ‘Lovely date, thanks darling – just going out poeting now.’ wouldn’t have gone down too well!

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I missed SpeakEasy which Tony Judge was headlining due to a backlog of work. I am currently writing an evaluation for the WMRN and was prepping for poetry festivals and working on ATOTC.

I am also involved in a poetry/art (PoARTry) project in Ledbury which is being led by Rick Sanders, it is his 2nd time running this project. He partners poets and artists – like the football pools, I was paired with Molly Bythell, a talented young graduate who creates amazing collages and paints in oil. Her work screams story and it has been a great collaboration so far. https://mollybythell.com/

I missed Stanza for the 2nd month (my poor unedited poems) as I was too tired and was actually asleep by 8 PM which would have been rather impolite on someone else’s settee!

I spent my final weekend of freedom with Mr G. and did some work on the house and a little editing on ATOTC. 

Week 3

Full time work (my first time in 5 years) arrived kicking and screaming on my doorstep.

I continued to write a poem a day for NaPoWriMo.

I missed the Me Too event at The Hive, Case Bailey in the Jewellery Quarter, and Sean Colletti at Dear Listener.

Most of my free time in the evening was spent recouping from the day. Emotionally and physically! I managed to write a review for BMAG on the Hackathon experience and started writing my Verve Review for Sabotage. I was also asked to do a Poetry Surgery at the Anchor Gallery in Birmingham as part of the work Nellie Cole is doing there.

I managed to get to Jenna Plewes Book Launch, it was a sunny evening and very pleasant to spend an hour or so listening to her poetry from her new V. Press pamphlet Against the Pull of Timejenna pullI will be writing a review of the Launch in May.

 

 

 

 

 

I had my Sparks Young Writer group (WWM) at The Hive on Saturday which saw the welcome return of members to the group and we were also witness to a group of Librarians helping move a gigantic fish through the ground floor of the library. There was a procession of some sort down to the river, elements of which found there way into our writing.

Week 4

I finally got the European Twin Town project between Droitwich Spa and Voiron off the ground. I had been working on this WPL project since July, mainly at a committee level and like with all these projects it was a slow start, but perseverance pays and by the beginning of 2018 I had a french contact who put me in touch with a poet, Alain Graiz. Alain helped me find other poets from Voiron and by February/ March I had communicated with all involved. Again I had hoped to get the exchange up and running by March.

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I am happy to say that it is now in full swing, some poems have already been exchanged. It is a much smaller project than ATOTC and the full collection of poems should be live before the end of my Laureateship (10th June).

Read more here.

I received news of my Grant Application but have so far been locked out of the system. So I have no idea if my bid was successful yet or not.

I spent the week preparing for Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Bohemian Voices and getting incredibly nervous over the fact I have not performed poetry for a month! That must be the longest length of unintentional abstinence ever! But what I have learnt is it is hard to facilitate projects, write new poetry, edit magazines, teach and still find the time to perform! I needn’t have worried. What I did is over rehearsed and then I don’t think anyone would have thought – she clearly hasn’t read for a month!

I have been doing NaPoWriMo throughout this whole month, occasionally falling behind a few days and playing catch up. To produce 30 poems in a month in no mean feat. I am also working on something more too.

I researched the Nation’s Laureates for a post over at the WPL site for St. George’s Day. https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/st-george-the-poets/

I missed the Bare Fiction Launch and 42 (for the 2nd month running). I wanted to save my energy for Cheltenham Poetry Festival and the last fortnight at work has been exceedingly hard going, so I had little energy to spare to travel to events.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival arrived, funny when you are booked so far in advance it seems forever in the diary as coming up… then suddenly one week it is days to go. I was slightly gutted that I had been invited to do Stablemates with Jill Abram in London and missed it because it was on the same night. Sarah went in my place and it sounds like they had a great time.

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Cheltenham Poetry Festival was excellent, as it always is. Just a shame work meant that I wasn’t able to get to much other than on the day I was booked. Cheltenham Poetry Festival I made it for the Indigo Dreams Showcase which was at the same venue before my Fragile Houses reading. I will write a full review post next month.

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The following evening (events are like buses) I had the pleasure of being one of 5 artists involved in Bohemian Voices, organised and MCed by Steve Soden, he used to run these events in London and the experience at the Jinney Ring was probably as far from his original nights as you can imagine. It was a great night and I will link the review back to this post. (That goes for all the promised reviews of…)

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I had a fantastic evening and was delighted by the surprise appearance of my mum and Aunty.

With little time to recover from a 2 night fix of poetry (which certainly made up for missing a month of it), I had a Book Launch.

This weekend also saw Birmingham Literature Festival Spring Edition, which I totally missed due to bookings and other commitments.

The Book Launch on Saturday was in Walsall at Southcart Books for Diverse Verse 3, a charity anthology edited by Richard Archer, it was a beautifully relaxed event with plenty of opportunity to catch up with friends and Richard, myself and Rick Sanders were interviewed for the West Midlands Magazine, more on that soon I hope. Click the link for the full review.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/diverse-verse-3-charity-anthology-book-launch/

I finally finished the month with a submission – not sent any poems anywhere since March!

I also had to write Q&A for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival – for the promotion and marketing and complete my review of Verve Poetry Festival and my evaluation for WMRN. That is a lot of midnight oil after a day at work!

 

NEXT MONTH:

Priorities in May include: Finishing WPL projects, tying up the reviews for WMRN Reader Residency for Warwickshire Libraries, organising poets for Artsfest events, performing and discussion at Midland Arts Institute, possible participation in a Heritage Project, a workshop with Ash Dickinson, a poetry judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Lauch for How to Grow Matches, being a poet at the Living Library, Headlining Poetry Bites (my first Headline for a while) and more, including new writing and Ledbury Poetry Festival – oh, yes and work!

 

Monthly Review January

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January started with a very Happy New Year and then winter germs got the better of me. Instead of starting back into the world of poetry (after a 3 week break), I had to miss Stanza and Cheltenham and spent the entire weekend in bed!

Week 1:

I usually break these posts into weeks and there is nothing to report for Week 1 other than I managed some time at the desk and whizzed off all the business emails which needed to be sent. There are several Worcestershire Poet Laureate projects I am working on: a couple of exhibitions to organise and a Transatlantic Poetry Project. I am also researching funding for the summer and have several events to prepare for.

I had my first successful submission for the MIND anthology, who are publishing ‘Human’.

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Week 2: 

Mr G. gifted me the Mslexia Diary (which I have wanted for years) and it was full of work this week. I saw Casey Bailey headline at Licensed to Rhyme on Monday and practised my ‘Light’ poetry set for the event in Stratford-Upon-Avon later this month.

It was a lovely evening, even if I wasn’t 100% better. It was good to reconnect with everyone after Christmas. It was a good evening of poetry and my spirits were lifted.

On Wednesday I went to Permission to Speak where Claire Walker was headlining with her new pamphlet Somewhere Between Rose and Black

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A good evening with a mixture of poetry and prose and again lovely to reconnect to Black Country poets and the PTS crowd. Rob Francis was on top form and there was a good amount of audience as well as performers. A thoroughly enjoyable and lively evening.

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Claire is a well-known poet throughout the West Midlands. With poetry published in various online and in-print collections, AND two solo publications to her name (The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile and Somewhere Between Rose and Black), Claire has a wealth of heartfelt material to draw from. Her poetry is intricate, gentle, and beautiful – and she’s the perfect antidote to your January blues.

On Thursday I went to SpeakEasy where Claire Walker was headlining – it was fabulous to see a good crowd and lots of new faces. I enjoyed listening to all the sets and also had a sneak preview of Suz Winspear’s new collection ‘The Awkward People’ – her Book Launch is on Sunday and I am one of the Guest Poets.

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On Friday I discovered a writing opportunity that I wish I could have applied for but looking at next week’s schedule would have had to let a lot of people down, so I resisted the temptation. Needless to say it would have been a wonderful experience, but after Christmas it is equally important to earn some money. Arvon, is all I am saying!

I missed an application for a commission/project which was also a paid opportunity, it involved doing some work in London and the dates that were offered were once again already fully booked, so I did the sensible, honest thing and didn’t apply.

I am hoping that the holes created by these two lost opportunities will be plugged later this year with shiny, new ones, when the good karma coach comes back around.

I did discover two new opportunities that I could get my teeth into, one is an electronic study course that I should start receiving emails from tomorrow and the other is a Roadshow which may be beneficial to my funding research. This clashed with  the Cinnamon Press Showcase at Waterstones, frustratingly on the opposite side of the city but it was postponed, so I haven’t missed it after all.

I was due to spend part of the weekend at a Room 204 Talk but it has been postponed due to the facilitator having what I had at the beginning of the month.

On Sunday I received news of another 3 poems being published. One ‘A Hands-on Approach’ is a strange duck from NaPoWrimo 2017 is to be published in the Diverse Verse Anthology later this year. Deborah Alma put a call out for #Me Too poems and although mine did not make the collection (due to being too similar to work already accepted), they will appear online on the website. Vik Bennett – editor of Wild Women Press is working with Deb compiling a digital legacy for the project. I received two proof copies to read through and just had time to get my ‘Akward People’ set compiled and rehearsed for Suz’s Book Launch.

Suz Winspear’s Book Launch for The Awkward People was a fabulous afternoon, plenty of people turned out on this cold, wintery day to enjoy her work. Guest Poets included myself, Holly Magill & Kevin Brooke and Kieran Davies was MC. After a short introduction from Rod Griffiths (Black Pear Press Publisher) we had an entire afternoon of poetry to enjoy. Suz was in her element and it was great to hear her read from this new collection.

I of course bought myself my very own shiny book and had Suz sign it. A thoroughly enjoyable book launch and I cannot wait to read it cover to cover.

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Week 3: 

Cheltenham Poetry Festival Marketing got underway. I will be performing in the festival April 26th. Nina Lewis

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It is the 8th year and Anna Saunders has produced the biggest programme yet. Booking information here.

Read the first promotion post.

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There were a few events I missed this week which I would have liked to attend, but I am busy writing and producing projects, so I think a Radio Slot, a Roadshow, a writing group and a performance at a special event is enough for one week. I am also preparing for Wolverhampton Literature Festival (WoLF) next week.

I worked hard on trying to secure a funding bid for a Summer project. I finally managed to book a WPL Radio Slot on BBC Hereford and Worcester, due to work October was my last broadcast.

On Tuesday I headed over to Birmingham City University for the British Council Literature Roadshow presented by Writing West Midlands. The evening included a presentation from Cortina Butler, the British Council’s Director of Literature and was a good opportunity to network. I am keeping my fingers crossed now for my funding application.

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Saturday saw my WWM Sparks Young Writers Group in Worcester where I planned the session around more generous Christmas gifts from Mr. G. We looked at Science Fiction and created our own alien characters in preparation for longer writing in our February session.

Sunday saw a special event at the Kempe House Studios in Stratford-Upon-Avon with Cordula Kempe and Angela France. I sent three themed poems in December and two were picked, one of which was written in Angela’s December Workshop on Light and Colour. It was an inspiring evening, read more about it here.

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Week 4+:

Again there were events I would have liked to attend, but this year is all about balance and focus and when you are in training no distractions can compete. I had a meeting planned to follow up Workshop work from last year WPL and the possible next leg of the project, unfortunately I have had to postpone it due to paid work.

I spent a large amount of time preparing for applications and working on AToTC – A Tale of Two Cities, my current Transatlantic WPL Project. I also had a lot of work on (after a drought of 5 months this is no bad thing but typically comes at a very busy period).

I managed to get to Poetry Bites which is now hosted by Elaine Christie and Matt Nunn after Jacqui Rowe bowed out at the end of 2017 after running the event for a long time. It was a wonderful, successful evening with Guest Poets Casey Bailey & Claire Walker.

Claire Walker is a Worcestershire poet, her poetry has appeared in magazines, online and in anthologies such as The Chronicles of Eve, her first pamphlet, The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, Claire is a Poetry Reader for Three Drops Press, and Co-Editor of Atrium poetry. Casey Bailey is a poet, rapper, songwriter and a secondary school senior leader from Birmingham. He runs Bailey’s Rap and Poetry, as well as workshops in rap, poetry, music and song writing. Waiting at Bloomsbury Park is Casey’s first collection. © Live Brum 2018

 

 

 

Casey Bailey                                                                              Matt Nunn

 

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© Elaine Christie

 

Wolverhampton Literature Festival (WoLF) was my main focus this week, I started promoting across social media. The festival is in the 2nd year with an amazing Arts Programme. Friday 26th – Sunday 28th.

I performed as part of a 5 person collective organised by the Wolverhampton Arts Festival Team. Our reading was in the Art Gallery on Saturday 27th 3:30 PM

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/ninasophielauramauricerosina/4594119177

WoLF COLLECTIVE: NINA LEWIS, LAURA LIPTROT, MAURICE MALCOLM, SOPHIE SPARHAM & ROSINA TROTMAN

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http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/poetry/4593175102

 

 

A full review can be found here.

 

Week +

And finally the last few days of January were filled with desk work. Organising the final submissions for Contour Poetry Magazine, the deadline is the 1st February.

Working on my response poem as part of the ATOTC project and collating the work coming in as well as managing the 20+ poetry partnerships involved. In a moment of pure inspiration I decided to approach the Mayor of Worcester and ask if he would write the Foreword for the digital publication, he agreed. I am delighted. The project celebrates the cities.

I started planning the only official WPL event on my remit – World Poetry Day 21st March, seeking venue, securing performers, devising crazy (erm, I mean creative) ideas for the event.

Preparing for school workshops and meetings about them.

Researching and writing poems for 42, this month’s theme (chosen by Tim Stavert) Rag and Bone Man… I loved the idea, then I started trying to write… left it a fortnight, did a little background work, searched my memories and finally have a fairly rounded set including a spectacular 42-ish Haiku, political commentary wrapped up in a Tanka and a wonderful poem which is actually an acrostic. Happy with a couple of them.

42 Worcester was the final event of the month. Next month apart from the Verve Festival of Poetry and Spoken Word I will mainly be working from the desk. I have a billion things to do and prepare with workshops in February and March and writing schedules to keep. Contour magazine coming out and the special edition to work on.

I knew this time was coming and feel now, it has very much arrived. Of course, if you want to see me – you can always book me for your event.

 

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My Poet Laureate work this month involved planning and booking workshops, working on the Transatlantic Project – A Tale of Two Cities – managing the promotion and progression of the project, writing and collating poetry, working on Issue 2 of Contour – Love, completing  interviews, compiling a favourite poem list for the issue (out in February), having my first BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio Interview since October and organising the next steps of several projects started in 2017.

My next mission is to allocate enough time for the rest of my ideas over the next 5 months. I realise some of the WPL work will continue after Worcestershire gets a new Laureate, I always knew this would be the case. There are certain things I want to complete before I become a former Poet Laureate though (shivers). The team are already on the look out for the next Poet Laureate, applications are open until March. Check https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/ for more details if you reside in the county.

 

 

And finally, I started work on planning my World Poetry Day event for March. Very exciting!

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WoLF for the Day

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Wolverhampton Literature Festival (WoLF) was my main focus this week. The festival is in the 2nd year with an amazing Arts Programme. Friday 26th – Sunday 28th.

I performed as part of a 5 person collective organised by the Wolverhampton Arts Festival Team. Our reading was in the Art Gallery on Saturday 27th 3:30 PM

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/ninasophielauramauricerosina/4594119177

WoLF COLLECTIVE: NINA LEWIS, LAURA LIPTROT, MAURICE MALCOLM, SOPHIE SPARHAM & ROSINA TROTMAN

 

 

 

In an ideal world I would have been able to stay in Wolverhampton and immerse myself in the full festival experience. I really wanted to go to Liz Berry and Bones Presents on Friday night, but only had Saturday free.

I made the most of my time by attending events at the Lych Gate Tavern, organised by Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists – (Steve Pottinger, Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse) before heading over to the Art Gallery for 3 PM.

I had hoped to arrive in time to catch Music for Dogs.

Written by Paula Meehan (former Ireland Professor of Poetry), Directed by Patricia Kessler, Performed by Carol Caffrey

I missed it, which made me sad, it has had some fabulous reviews. At least I managed to see Carol before she headed off.

I saw MY CLOTH-EARED HEART BY MELANIE BRANTON

Melanie Branton is looking for a boyfriend. And it’s not going well. In her first full-length spoken word show, My Cloth-Eared Heart, she charts a thirty-year epic quest that has included a brush with a psychopath, stalking various strangers on the internet, and a turbulent relationship with a verb. A show about love, failure, stubbornness and being single in a couple-centric world.

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I first saw Melanie Headline Uncorked – Holly Daffurn’s night in Worcester, last year. It was great to see the whole show.

I caught most of Jonny Fluffypunk’s new show, had to slip out early to get to the Gallery. He is one of my favourite poets (I feel connected to his surrealism, punk driven imagination and love for coffee) it was a shameful to miss the end, but I had to set up for our performance,  such are the perils of clashing performance programmes.

HOW I CAME TO BE WHERE I NEVER WAS

BY JOHNNY FLUFFYPUNK

Jonny Fluffypunk grew up where nothing ever happened. This is a story about finding yourself, when you find yourself somewhere you don’t belong. It’s about unrequited love and the importance of a good record shop. it’s also about trains and memory and tiny magical moments and letting go. It’s lo-fi stand-up spoken word theatre for anyone who has ever loved, owned a vinyl record or just been alive.

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The theatre of the imagination blew me away!

 

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Then it was time for the WoLF collective, 90 minutes of music, poetry, books and life shared by five very different voices. It was fun and great to chat with the audience about poetry afterwards. It was lovely to meet Laura Liptrot, Maurice Malcolm and Rosina Trotman and reconnect with the ever-wonderful Sophie Sparham.

Before the Slam there was time to go for a bit of food and a bunch of us headed off to try amazing cuisine, Indian Street food in Zuri Coffee. A real gastro experience.

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Then I got lost wandering around the streets of Wolverhampton in completely the wrong direction. (Anyone surprised by this has not been reading my blog long enough!)

Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists presented the second Wolverhampton Original Literature Festival Poetry Slam. MCs, Steve Pottinger, Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse.

Brenda Read-Brown won the slam with Rick Sanders and Ezra Poundland taking second & third place.

Another great year for WoLF – may the howl continue. You never know by the 3rd or 4th year, I may even know my way around!

 

 

My gratitude to Amarjit Nar for making yesterday possible.

 

And finally… this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Sophie’s boots… having spent a while in conversation it was time for the event to kick off and it wasn’t until she took to the mic that I looked at her feet! I had the beginning of my set all prepared but seeing her feet really threw me. Love these DM’s.

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So my opening line: ‘I have just lost all my words & fallen in love with Sophie’s Boots!’ is going to find its way into a poem sometime soon!

 

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RELATED LINKS:

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/poetry/4593175102

October Review (better late than never)

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Just before we reach the halfway point of November I thought I would get my head down and tell you about last month!

October was such a whirlwind month. An abundant welcome into the winter and came with the realisation that I have not submitted anything for 5 months (I have organised enough WPL events to fill 100 pages of my notebook) and written more commissioned poems than I can count on all my fingers and toes… but this is something I want to get back to before the end of the year. So now I will find some extra time to carve out, December is looking good!

WEEK 1: 

I wanted to go to Kim Moore’s workshop at Buzzwords, but I didn’t get back from my stint in London at the Poetry Book Fair/Free Verse in time. Well technically, I could have detoured to Cheltenham in time but energy levels were so long I didn’t think I would manage the late drive home or even stay awake for writing and my brain was as tired as my body. It was amazing according to everyone who was there and having taken her workshop at the Verve Festival in February, I don’t doubt it!

I had my Adam Speaks Treehouse poem accepted for the NT project at Croome Court. With NPD, Credo and then hot-footing down South I had forgotten the deadline on this writing, which was already tight. This was the first poem I was forced to send on my phone, thank goodness it was a submission in the body of an email. I had to send it from Free Verse and it was a definite last minute submission. Fortunately, I didn’t look too rude doing so as the hall was packed with poets live tweeting.

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© Croome Court/Adam Speaks

I had a school workshop planned which sadly had to be postponed, I look forward to this in 2018 although I expect to change my plans to fit the curriculum topics in the Spring Term.

Then I went down to Swindon for the Poetry Festival, now in it’s 5th year (and my 3rd). I cannot express how much I love this festival. This was my first year of stewarding, generally I buy festival passes or lots of events tickets and arrive as a punter, network, drink and absorb poetry into my very core. I knew working on the team would make this experience completely different but I also knew it was a solid team to be part of and saw volunteering as the biggest thank you I could give.

I was also booked to perform V Formation with fellow V. Press Poets Stephen Daniels and Gram Joel Davies (also notably on the team).

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Some of the team and performers at the opening event POEMS ALOUD Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon

V FORMATION – POETS of V. PRESS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
A celebration of three new and exciting voices in British poetry: Stephen Daniels, Gram Joel Davies and Nina Lewis.
Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. His debut pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them was published in 2017 by V. Press. Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon and his pamphlet, Bolt Down This Earth was V. Press’ Forward Prize nominee for 2017. Nina Lewis is Worcestershire Poet Laureate and her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016.

Our readings were on the 1st night and the event went well, was well attended and people were still talking about it a few days later.

Swindon Poetry Festival needs a blog post and I will write a full review as soon as I can find time to do so. Another case of better late than never!

 

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Highlights in brief:

WORKSHOP: The Dynamic Poem Holiday Inn  With Daljit Nagra
Poems can sometimes seem flat and lack vigour, they can drift along in a dreamy mood without any conviction. Daljit will explore with examples from contemporary poetry how to put the fizz back into a poem. Participants should expect to have attempted at least one new lively poem!

READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Poke into the poetry box! Treasures of the heart, inca-named stardust, and various severed body parts! An hour of humour and water with Sue Rose, Emma Simon and Simon Williams.
Emma Simon won the Prole Laureate poetry competition in 2013 and loss, love & severed body parts scatter through her first collection Dragonish (The Emma Press). Simon Williams latest collection, Inti, was published in July. Sue Rose is the author of three poetry collections. Heart Archives was published by Hercules Editions in 2014.

POETS & PUBLISHERS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Discussions led by poet Carrie Etter with two prominent poetry editors, Amy Wack and Mary Jean Chan. Come and join a discussion about what it takes to get published.
Carrie Etter is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her most recent collection, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society.
Since 1990, American expatriate Amy Wack has edited Seren Books’ multi-prizewinning poetry list. Her own poems have appeared in various journals, most recently a 12-part poem inspired by feral cats in Spain in Long Poem Magazine.
Mary Jean Chan, from Hong Kong, is shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and is Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Ambit, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Callaloo Journal.

WORKSHOP: Call and Response Sun Inn With Rishi Dastidar
We’ve all been to workshops where we’ve been inspired by other poems, maybe visual art too, and then written in response to them. So what happens when we use pop songs instead? That’s the simple premise behind ‘Call and Response’, where some great music will hopefully provide great inspiration for writing poems. Just bring some paper, pencils – and your ears.
Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. His debut collection, Ticker-tape, is published by Nine Arches Press.

and more…

During the festival I missed the beginning of Birmingham Literature Festival and a meeting with the poets involved in the Elgar Poetry Project.

Week 2: 

Swindon Poetry Festival and the highlights of the weekend. An amazing end to the festival was Monday morning, breakfast with Daljit and then Breakfast and Poetry over at the Tent Palace as our festival finale.

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I got back on Monday afternoon and Monday evening was straight out to open mic at Licensed to Rhyme in the new venue Cafe Morso, Barnt Green.

cafe_1imag© Cafe Morso

Fergus McGonigal was headlining, so good to see him again and to see him back on the circuit with his new book, now one of my new shiny books too!

Everyone is now unhappy© Burning Eye 

As WPL I was busy gathering submissions for World Mental Health Day – as Mental Health Week started when I was in Swindon and I had been hit by the dreaded Swindon Lurgy! Which meant I missed most of the events at Birmingham Literature Festival that I planned to go to!

I was also organising the Hanbury Hall Project for poets to go and write about artwork displayed in the Long Gallery by DAN. The Gallery opened on the 10th and the exhibition ran until the 29th and they had over 3300 visitors, only 15 of which were poets!

Not as WPL but as a poet I was also busy preparing INKSPILL – our online writing retreat.

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I missed tons of events being ill (proper ill with blankets).

Week 3: 

I made it back to the edge of health in time to perform as WPL at the SpeakEasy event for Mental Health Day at Cafe Bliss, this is a wonderful annual event which brings together speakers from a variety of Mental Health and Wellbeing backgrounds, agencies such as The Samaritans and this year The Shaw Trust and of course local poets.

It was a very moving experience and a good afternoon. I also received submissions for the World Mental Health Day Anthology from participants. I love it when the WPL projects reach local people through events and radio broadcasts. I made the decision to keep the submission open on the Mental Health collection for the duration of my tenure. We raise awareness of it a few times a year through these calendar events, but actually it is everyday living for 1 in 4 (official statistics were 1 in 5 but recent NHS figures show 1 in 4).

The following day after dragging myself around a D.I.Y store with Mr G. I diagnosed myself healthy enough to venture into Birmingham to catch Joe Cook and Hollie McNish at the Town Hall. This is the 2nd time this year I have seen Hollie and she was as wonderful as ever. It was also the 2nd time this year I gave up on queuing to meet her. I met her several times in 2015 and I know I will get my new books signed one day!

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© Birmingham Mail

I had planned to get to Wellington Festival, but I still wasn’t 100% well and also my car was slightly damaged over the weekend.

I made it to Hanbury Hall and was able to meet up with the Cheltenham contingency of poets (well, some of them). I took plenty of photos and notes and ended up writing 8 poems – 6 of which will make it public.

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On the 18th I was back in Birmingham for Stablemates at Waterstones. Jill Abram always sends me an invite to these London events, so I could hardly refuse when she brought it to the Midlands. It was a fantastic night. I really felt uplifted by the end of it. It was also a chance to finally meet and watch Rosie Garland who I have heard so much about. I got to see Jackie Hagan again (last time I saw her was at Hit the Ode) and listening to Henry Normal was a pleasure, I love the fact his is Oscar nominated and a BAFTA winner and has yet returned to his first love of poetry.

I started to promote my first WPL event for children, which had been in the pipeline for a while. The WLF team produce a Halloween Event for LITtleFest at St.John’s library which along with the usual storytelling, pumpkin carving and treats I included a Writing Workshop for 5 – 9+ years old.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

I also had a call out for Halloween Poem Submissions which needed a push.

I spent the tail end of the week working on the Elgar Poetry commission (WPL).

 

Week 4 

I had my 2nd writing meeting with Spark Young Writers at The Hive, we had a go at our own spooky theme and also had the new WWM Operations Assistant, Heddwen Creaney come to visit our group.

I spent 4 days busily researching Elgar and completing 14 new poems for the event in November.

I spent some admin time organising festival events for 2018.

I worked on my WMRN role as Reader in Residence for Rugby Library organising next month’s Review Writing Workshop.

I had my WPL spot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding, talked about the Elgar Project and Mental Health. I shared my poem ‘First Steps’ from Fragile Houses.

In the evening I enjoyed dressing up for Halloween (I looked like a Gothic Librarian – but what I wanted was Suz Winspear our first Goth Poet Laureate) and went to 42. It was rather cramped as we were in the Lunar Bar upstairs and it was a great turn out for the night. It also gave me a chance to promote the Halloween submission call too.

I missed Jenna Clake’s Book Launch of ‘Fortune Cookie’ in Birmingham, which I was gutted about but I also asleep by the time it started. So the right call was made!

We had a Stanza meeting and then it was Week 5!

 

Week 5 

INKSPILL of course, which needs no introduction around here… our 5th annual online writing retreat – it is mad to think we have been going for as long as Swindon Poetry Festival! This year’s Guest Poets were Antony Owen & Stephen Daniels, both fellow V. Press poets, although I hadn’t realised that until after the booking.

It was a massively successful and fun weekend. Take a look at the programme page if you missed it and you should be able to navigate through from there using the menu tools on screen.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/inkspill-2017-programme/

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It was also the Halloween Event at the library – where my workshop was attended by children aged 4 to 12, all enjoyed themselves and watched me, dressed as a witch attempting to fly around the room. They did ask why my face wasn’t green and I told them all about the family tea party I was going to afterwards.

It was fun and the most exhausting WPL event yet!

On Sunday I spent a long time creating the first issue of the WPL Magazine Contour – submissions all about Place/Worcestershire closed at the end of August and since then I have been sifting through work. Fortunately during some local research I discovered Philip Halling and we were able to use his images throughout the magazine with a few additions from local poets.

 

The end of the DAN Exhibition at Hanbury Hall was marked with a closing celebration on the 30th which Polly Stretton was invited to read her poem ‘Curves’ at. Polly won a competition created by Peter Hawkins (Chair) to find a poem for the closing of the exhibition. I sneaked one of mine in as WPL/Organiser of the poetry part of the project.

The artist for my piece was there, Stephen Evans and I am delighted that he will be using my work alongside his painting in his next exhibition in December.

I successfully completed a WPL Productions Poetry Film to show off the Halloween Poetry Submissions and added some prose as a one off Poet Laureate special to the blog.

 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

More on the Adam Speaks Launch day next month.

Adam Speaks National Trust Launch Event

Buy your copy of Fergus McGonigal’s new book here

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/everyone-is-now-unhappy

Review of August

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I have taken most of the summer off from performing poetry to catch up on writing some! I am now struggling to wind myself back up but September is action packed so the full calendar should help me back to the zone.

Mr G. and I went away, I promised him a poetry free holiday, I ended up having to find a public library to send a contract and take a few calls on the beach, other than that – I took a break and actually found it refreshing.

August is also packed full of birthdays (including my own). The summer wasn’t fantastic weather-wise so as soon as there was a sunny day, the garden beckoned… and all of this kept me away from my desk!

 

Opportunities

Back in July I was approached by Roz Goddard through West Midlands Reader Network to apply for a Reader in Residence position which I was successful at obtaining – more on this soon, I have had the preliminary planning meeting and the project is due to start in November. This was my BIG news for the month.

Worcestershire Poet Laureate (WPL)

I had my second radio slot with Tammy Gooding at BBC Hereford & Worcester. This went really well again (no edits). I was able to promote upcoming events and talk about the success of LakeFest.

My first official Poet Laureate Blog Post went live, traditionally these have appeared quarterly, although we are working on a bi-monthly/monthly post as there are lots of events being created.

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/08/18/ninas-wpl-blog-august-2017/

I wrote a Project Proposal for my Twin Cities Transatlantic Poetry, which is under review this month by committee. This will see American and British Poets collaborate.

Jinney Ring Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop

The Sculpture Trail opened at the Jinney Ring and I went to explore the 90 sculptures in this year’s trail. I prepared and tested workshop content. All places have been booked now, I am excited and cannot believe after all this planning how close this event is!

A second date has been added in the evening 20th September 6-8 PM, so if you would like to book a place, email for details.

A New Design (5)

I organised a poetry event for Salt Festival on the 9th September. At short notice, I am delighted to have a handful of poets who can come and share their work. The bonus is that everyone has a 10 minute slot, which means they can share a good selection of their work.

After finding an alternative route for my European Twin Town Poetry Project, I had communication from the original source that I traced. A meeting has been set up and I think this might be a project that I now roll out twice with two towns in the County. It will be the first of its kind.

A spin off from this is I have been invited to read at a special dinner next month too.

August also saw the deadline for Contour – a digital magazine I plan to create three times during my tenure. This first issue invited poets from anywhere to write about Place /Worcestershire. I am currently (now September) working through the submissions and I have been fortunate enough to make contact with a photographer and have permission to use some of his County photography is this issue. More news on this soon.

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Performances

The biggest performance opportunity this month was LakeFest. It was the first year they had the Poetry Tent and it was a great success!

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Laureates at LakeFest

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©2017 Ruth Inglis

 

Bridgnorth Arts Festival

Rick Sanders organised a festival poetry event at the Friars and had Claire Walker, Steve Harrison and Brenda Read-Brown headline, I couldn’t miss this. I had missed Poetry on the Terrace in Birmingham on Saturday as I discovered it too late and we had visitors at the weekend. It had been a week since I performed and I wanted to support Claire, who did a marvellous set.

It was a great evening, enjoyable and good to catch up with a lot of the Shropshire crowd.

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Ben Parker Worcester Festival Poetry at Huntingdon Hall

Ben Parker has organised 3 poetry events this year in Worcester as part of his Residency. I had not been able to make the two events at the Swan Theatre as I was already booked. However, I have been counting down the months for this one. It was an epic list of performers some I knew and others I didn’t (which is always exciting).

Ben has a relaxed manner that I am very envious of when hosting events and the Worcester Festival was no exception. It was a great night of diverse poets performing and what I like about the ethos of these events is Ben wants the opportunity to gather a range of poets, beginners and those more seasoned. It creates a supportive atmosphere from the get go.

I hope he manages to squeeze another event like this in, I won’t be performing as you get the chance to perform once but I would certainly turn up to enjoy an evening of poetry like this one.

 

Voices from the Shadows

Back in 2014 Elaine Christie produced a wonderful anthology called Restless Bones. The proceeds of this book went to the Born Free Foundation.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/book-launch-restless-bones-poetry-anthology-for-born-free-foundation/

restless the book

Now Elaine is working hard on the next book which will feature Artwork by Neth Brown. We had a Pre-book Launch to raise awareness of this current project and also to share some of the poetry which will appear in the book.

art neth brown ©2017 Elaine Christie

Link COMING SOON.


Future Readings

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I am headlining at PTS (13th September), the welcome return of this excellent night run by Rob Francis.

I am headlining SpeakEasy (14th September) as WPL.

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I am in a Room 204 Showcase and get to do Birmingham Literature Festival for a 2nd time. Unfortunately the opportunity to perform in the Studio in the BLF was not possible as it clashes with Swindon Poetry Festival, where I am booked to perform.

The Literary Allsorts event is taking place twice. I am in the Pre-Festival event at Waterstones. It will be a great night!

Sarah Leavesley (Editor/Publisher) has organised a V. Press reading at Free Verse Poetry Book Fair London this September, myself and Stephen Daniels will be reading from our pamphlets in the afternoon. Last year I promised myself I would go to the Book Fair and now, one better… I get to read there and hopefully sell more books!