Category Archives: Literature Festival

Hay Festival – DO NOT Miss This!

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I posted Hay earlier but it was a review of events I attended on Saturday – some of which are now more than 24hrs old and only available through the Hay Player. I intended to make my posts within the same hours the events are still available for free.

Today I have visited the Hay tents a lot, I managed to catch a few events LIVE which is always special and is truly the way I intended to do it (which is why I sat online pre-booking tickets).

I watched the 2nd TRANS.MISSION II event this morning and learnt a lot more about political issues surrounding conservation efforts, which I didn’t realise was as damaging as it is, the borders they create. I enjoyed hearing again how scientists and artists have worked together. I love the fact that there are parallels to be found between this worlds. Again the videos are available on You Tube.

Naomi Millner, Ted Feldpausch and Juan Cárdenas in conversation with Andy Fryers

TRANS.MISSION II: THE HISTORY OF LIFE – UNDERSTANDING THE NATURAL RESOURCES OF COLOMBIA

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) present Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The Colombian strand of the project features Colombian writer and activist Juan Cárdenas and a team of experts led by Dr Naomi Milner and Dr Ted Feldpausch. Using the research work as inspiration, Juan has created a piece of creative writing to communicate the socio-ecological systems within Colombia and their response to environmental change. Dr Naomi Millner is Lecturer in Human Geography at  the University of Bristol and is working on one of three linked research projects under The Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme. Dr Ted Feldpausch is an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter whose research focuses on tropical forest and savanna ecology. Juan Cárdenas is a writer, creative writing teacher and activist who has worked extensively with Afrocolombian and indigenous communities mapping oral traditions. 

The story that Juan created using the research is called “Espiral” and can be watched here

At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II pairs NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create new stories about ongoing research projects.

 

I came across PEN in 2016 when I wrote a poem, subsequently published on Reuben Woolley’s site I am not a silent poet – we sadly lost Reuben but his site and the fight it demonstrates still remains. PEN campaign for the rights of artists who have been  wrongly imprisoned, the organisation promotes freedom of expression and literature across frontiers.

I know about Human Rights and some of the issues involved in this discussion, but I also discovered a lot. This is not an area now for activist and political anarchists, we all need to be involved in human rights. We need active citizens, now more than ever. The Cemetery of the Companionless on the outskirts of Instanbul – as mentioned in Elif Shafak’s book 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds and in this event has shocked me, the information is still reverberating around my head!

 

Here is an article she wrote The Guardian.

Elif Shafak and Philippe Sands

THE ENGLISH PEN PLATFORM: GIVING VOICE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A conversation about writing into an authoritarian world, finding ways of telling truths and making the case for Human Rights. Shafak is the author of the global bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World. She writes in both Turkish and English. Sands is a lawyer, President of English PEN and the author of the Baillie Gifford Prize-winning East West Street. Introduced by Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN.

As I write this blog post I am listening to Afua Hirsch’s lecture which is eye-opening, particularly on issues around local journalism, government propaganda and national press. The erosion between news and comment. A retrospective on the damage that has already happened and the use or misuse of public money. I am glad I decided to check this event out – which is another reason for HAY creating these events for free is a bonus. People may discover something or somebody they really needed in their lives.

Afua Hirsch

THE CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS LECTURE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

What is the future of journalism in our newly wrangled world? Hirsch is Wallis Annenberg Chair at The University of Southern California. She is the author of Brit(ish) and Equal to Everything, and hosts the About The British Empire podcast on audible. She writes for the Guardian, and broadcasts internationally. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.

HAY Afua

James Shapiro’s discussion on Shakespeare in a Divided America was revealing and it was fascinating to hear how he became an expert on the subject following real life research rather than an academic route. I was very impressed with his Q&A, extended responses.

James Shapiro

SHAKESPEARE IN A DIVIDED AMERICA

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Shakespeare’s position as England’s national poet is established and unquestionable.

But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture. Why, though, would a proudly independent republic embrace England’s greatest writer? Especially when his works enact so many of America’s darkest nightmares: interracial marriage, cross-dressing, same-sex love, tyranny, and assassination

Investigating a selection of defining moments in American history – drilling into issues of race, miscegenation, gender, patriotism and immigration; encountering Presidents, activists, writers and actors – Shapiro leads us to fascinating answers and uncovers rich and startling stories.

Shapiro, who teaches English at Columbia University in New York, is author of several books, including 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (winner of the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2006), as well as Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? He also serves on the Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

 

After this came my festival HIGHLIGHT so far, though I think it will still be my highlight moment at the end of the May/the festival!

Inua Ellams

What I loved before this event started was the number of people in the comment box who have never seen him read/perform. Some had checked the NT (National Theatre) production ‘The Barbershop Chronicles’ out and come from there. This is no longer available for viewing – but if you ever get a chance. I discovered Inua Ellams late on, by late on I mean he is a poet who was not on my radar for a few years, then it took a few more years to see him anywhere within 200 miles as where I live! I eventually met him in Birmingham and subsequently have caught him perform at several festivals. He is a humble, spirited man – and he keeps basketballs on his bookcases! I thought he had moved from poetry to writing plays but through this event I discovered he had worked on this script for a while and wrote it not long after I met him. This is one of the reasons it was difficult to catch him on the poetry circuit, he was busy touring his show!

The event starts with a big surprise  –  I won’t spoil it for you (although it is probably all over the media by now)… I will add it once the event moves to Hay Player – what else can I say…

watch!

Inua Ellams

AN EVENING WITH AN IMMIGRANT IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC – OR AT LEAST A HALF HOUR

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The multi-award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams introduces extracts from his celebrated autobiographical one-man show and discusses the latest twists and turns in his life with the online audience. Littered with poems, stories and anecdotes, the show tells his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, experiencing prejudice and friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home.

HAY Inua Ellams

It was a JOY!

Hay Festival Today

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Friday 22nd May

I have used information from the website with snippet thoughts of reflection and review, for you to find them easily I have made them a different colour.

Today the first part of the programme I had booked was the talk with Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Steinem talks to Laura Bates

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE, BUT FIRST IT WILL PISS YOU OFF

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

In a special recording of the Hay Festival Podcast, the writer shares her Thoughts on Life, Love and Rebellion with the founder of The Everyday Sexism Project. For decades, people around the world have found guidance, humour and unity in Gloria Steinem’s gift for creating quotes that offer hope and inspire action. From her early days as a journalist and feminist activist, Steinem’s words have helped generations to empower themselves and work together.

It was interesting and enthralling and attended by over 7700 people!

Some take away quotations:

‘pay attention to the particular’

‘If you do one true thing, it stays true.’

Part of the discussion revolved around empathy and I discovered some scientific facts which I had not previously considered – which I think is important to pass forward in our current world, which due to the pandemic is increasingly moving online.

Empathy – relies on a release of hormone which only occurs in real life, that communicating digitally doesn’t allow this natural reaction to happen and this, I think can lead to digital communication being misinterpreted or cause more harm than good sometimes. So remember you can’t feel what they feel when communicating digitally!

Another reason why human interaction is necessary/essential for us.

Hay Gloria

 

After this, I dipped into the first event on the replay option.

Jane Davidson, Mark Drakeford, Sophie Howe and Eluned Morgan

#FUTUREGEN – WALES AND THE WORLD

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Jane Davidson explains how, as Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in Wales, she helped create the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015—the first piece of legislation on Earth to place regenerative and sustainable practice at the heart of government. Unparalleled in its scope and vision, the Act connects environmental and social health and looks to solve complex issues such as poverty, education and unemployment. She is joined by the First Minister for Wales, the Minister for International Affairs, and the Future Generations Commissioner.

#futuregen is the inspiring story of a small, pioneering nation discovering prosperity through its vast natural beauty, renewable energy resources and resilient communities. It’s a living, breathing prototype for local and global leaders as proof of what is possible in the fight for a sustainable future. Chaired by Guto Harri.

 

And then as I was still online I decided to rock up to the next event too before needing to recharge the laptop (which is a bit old and fully loaded and won’t recharge and work at the same time anymore, I kind of know how it feels)!

Naomi Oreskes talks to Nick Stern

THE BRITISH ACADEMY LECTURE: WHY TRUST SCIENCE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Do doctors really know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming?  Oreskes shows how consensus is a crucial indicator of when a scientific matter has been settled, and when the knowledge produced is likely to be trustworthy.

Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. Her books include The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future and Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. 

Sometimes the universe offers us time to sit with something, there is always a reason. I think this may have been mine… (obviously it was meant in the context of scientists, who like teachers are trained to be not address personal concern, not to add opinion or personal belief – personal values will undermine their objectivity as scientists/ teachers)

Talking honestly about our motivations – makes us more trustworthy. 

 

Following this event there was more, I may find some time to watch these before the videos disappears.

Dara McAnulty and Steve Silberman

DIARY OF A YOUNG NATURALIST

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. “I was diagnosed with Asperger’s/autism aged five … By age seven I knew I was very different, I had got used to the isolation, my inability to break through into the world of talking about football or Minecraft was not tolerated. Then came the bullying. Nature became so much more than an escape; it became a life-support system.” Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. “In writing this book,” Dara explains, “I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child’s eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere.”

Steve Silberman is an award-winning investigative reporter and has covered science and cultural affairs for Wired and other national magazines for more than twenty years. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, TIME, Nature and Salon. He won the 2015 Samuel Johnson/Baillie Gifford Prize for his book Neurotribes.

 

Esther Duflo, chaired by Evan Davis

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES: BETTER ANSWERS TO OUR BIGGEST PROBLEMS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The 2019 Nobel Prize-winning economist Esther Duflo shows how economics, when done right, can help us solve the thorniest social and political problems of our day. From immigration to inequality, slowing growth to accelerating climate change, we have the resources to address the challenges we face but we are so often blinded by ideology.

Original, provocative and urgent, Good Economics for Hard Times offers the new thinking that we need. It builds on cutting-edge research in economics – and years of exploring the most effective solutions to alleviate extreme poverty – to make a persuasive case for an intelligent interventionism and a society built on compassion and respect. A much-needed antidote to polarized discourse, this book shines a light to help us appreciate and understand our precariously balanced world. Her work has never seemed so urgent.

 

Fernando Montaño

HAY FESTIVAL CARTAGENA PRESENTS: UNA BUENA VENTURA

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Colombian dancer Fernando Montaño is a Soloist of The Royal Ballet and the first Colombian to join the company. He arrived in 2006, was promoted to First Artist in 2010 and to Soloist in 2014. In 2019 he received an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Bath University. He will dance accompanied by readings of excerpts from his memoir, translated as A Boy with a Beautiful Dream, about his humble origins and his amazing journey to stardom. At his lockdown studio in Los Angeles, Fernando is now developing a film adaptation of his book. From here he will dance the death of the Swan as a more contemporary version of this quarantine and the marimba dance, inspired by the ballet and folklore of Colombia. Writer Ella Windsor will also read her Foreword to his powerful story.

I watched this in the early hours of the morning as I finished this blog post. I danced for half my life (more than twice the number of years I have been writing), I have always loved watching autodocs about the dancers. I also love watching dance. The video of this session satisfied both. It was very touching and Fernando Montaño is humble of spirit and gloriously talented in body – his arms move with the fluidity of water – just watch! 

 

 

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The rest of today did not go according to scheduled plan so some of the events I had registered to attend I had to dip into the videos afterwards. The internet connection is as sketchy as dial-up used to be at the moment. No surprise with the whole town in isolation/lockdown. Unfortunately this also meant missing a Poetry Book Launch this evening – which happened in between the Hay events. I had hoped it would have been recorded, but I couldn’t find it – I have since heard from the poet and the publisher will release it so I will watch and blog about it then!

My evening was supposed to start with a live viewing of the 5th event which I have been looking forward to since I discovered (or Mr G discovered) Hay was online this year. I watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it as my own special late night Hay – which is, how I imagine many people will be tuning in. So I watched Stephen Fry live before this but I have kept the review in chronological order.

Simon Armitage, Margaret Atwood, Benedict Cumberbatch, Monty Don, Lisa Dwan, Inua Ellams, Stephen Fry, Tom Hollander, Toby Jones, Helen McCrory, Jonathan Pryce and Vanessa Redgrave

WORDSWORTH 250: A NIGHT IN WITH THE WORDSWORTHS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A gala performing of William’s poetry and Dorothy’s journals begins our 250th anniversary celebrations with a superstar cast reading work that will include Intimations of Immortality, Daffodils, lines composed both Upon Westminster Bridge and Above Tintern Abbey, The Prelude and We Are Seven. Hosted and introduced by Shahidha Bari.

 

I was really looking forward to this group of readings and hearing extracts from Dorothy’s Journals. 

I spent a lot longer watching this session than the duration. Feasting on the words and the depth of analysis one expects from Hay. If you like Wordsworth, enjoy learning about classic poets or hearing a mixture of actors, poets and presenters reading, then this event is for you. ‘This Gala reading is part of a wider project which Hay Festival are developing with Arts Humanities Research Council and their boundless creativity programme.’

I have to say it was a real treat. A gala of this standard was bound to be – I mean, just look at that list! I particularly enjoyed Toby Jones reading, Tom Hollander could have read Wordsworth to me all night, his reading surprised me, it found all the depth of Wordsworth’s words. I know he’s a trained actor – but… so am I and I don’t read poetry like that! As did Stephen Fry and Jonathan Pryce – who really got the words speaking – this is as much to do with the poetry as it is their narration. Not just voice, but emotional understanding of the text. Embodiment of Wordsworth’s mind almost as character, or at least that it how they make me feel when they read it. It is late and I have been listening to readings for hours! There was also a wonderful moment when Helen McCrory reading from Dorothy’s Alfoxden Journal had to read about sheep in a field as she was being accompanied by a sheep bleating! 

As our Nation’s Poet Laureate I was interested in Armitage’s bookcase. Lots of people are in front of books that I speak to – we’re writers, it is no surprise and I know there are readers out there too (thank goodness) but there is also a fashion to grab what books you can and create that shelf-full-of-knowledge-shelf – I see it a lot on TV at present, so I find it amusing and don’t pay any attention to the backdrop. But here I did. I admit I listened to his readings first and then replayed that section and had a closer look. I also enjoyed Inua Ellams bookshelves with basketballs. I love his poetry and was looking forward to him reading this evening. I know he’s also writing plays so we may see less of him in the poetry world – but am looking forward to his event later on this Hay week. 

Professor Shahidha Bari is a knowledgeable and passionate presenter who held the event together and hosted a live chat at the end.

This was a wonderful, thoroughly enjoyable event and one I wish was recorded and archived on my system forever. You can rewatch it for until tomorrow evening and then after that it is available for a small fee through Hay Player. 

And finally –

Stephen Fry…

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Stephen Fry

TROY

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The actor and author previews scenes from the third part of his Greek trilogy, which follows Mythos and Heroes.

 

This event was had a Q & A after the reading – due to technical issues there was a slight delay in which some of us who have been to Hay had a random-stranger-natter as we may have done if we were in Hay-on-Wye for real, the pre-event conversation was certainly worth a read, any conversation during an event (they wouldn’t have talking in the tents) tends to be technical issue queries or slightly adolescent commentary. So, it is worth knowing that the chat box on Crowd Cast can be closed click the small arrow at the top on the right. It is constantly moving throughout events and you may be there to listen to the speaker. 

I treated Stephen to a full screen, I knew this would be interesting and I know Fry often does Hay and speaks well and is certainly knowledgeable and able to handle a Q & A. 

He talked about Greek mythology, translations and modern retellings. He talked of those who blaze like stars and others who choose to lead a long, stable life. He seemed in no hurry to leave and I am sure he would have carried on batting the 100s of questions he had been asked. It gave me that same blessed feeling you have when a band gives you a really long set before an interval. The event was over an hour long I think. 

Very much worth a listen. 

If you are reading this within 24 hours of the original event times the videos should still be available here -after this you can pay to watch them with Hay Player.

Images Hayfestival.com © 2020

Hay Festival Goes Digital

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I have had the pleasure of attending online festivals since Lockdown began and I haven’t managed a timely blogpost for any of them. You will note that Hay events started on the 18th with the schools programme – the full programme is available and tickets for all events are FREE. You can watch missed events for 24 hours and after that pay a small fee to watch on Hay Player.

For those of us who have experienced it for real, it is not the same – however it has opened it up to a wider amount of global audiences and it is wonderful that access is free.

ENJOY!

HAY culturewhisper

© Culturewhisper

Here is more information: Source hayfestival.com

HAY FESTIVAL DIGITAL #IMAGINETHEWORLD TAKING PLACE ONLINE 18 – 31 MAY

Hay Festival Digital #imaginetheworld runs 18–22 May with our Programme for Schools featuring fabulous authors including Cressida CowellPatrice Lawrence and Onjali Q Rauf. From 22–31 May, Hay Festival Digital takes place online with interactive events from more than 100 award-winning writers, global policy makers, historians, pioneers and innovators, celebrating the best new fiction and non-fiction, and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time.

Attending Hay Festival Digital 2020 online is completely free and couldn’t be easier. Simply browse the programme below as you normally would and, if an event interests you, click the Register link to save your spot. Your virtual seat will be confirmed by email, and we will even email you again ten minutes before the show to remind you the event is about to start. You can chat with other audience members and ask questions of the speakers, just as you would at a real Hay Festival event.

Here’s more information on how to register

All our events take place at the BST advertised. If you are accessing from a different time zone it will still be possible to replay for free up to 24 hours after the event. Following this all events will be available on Hay Player.

 

Programme

Review September 2018

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

September – that rolled around quickly!

This has definitely been a month of admin tasks and preparation, also finding my feet again since coming home to UK soil. It took a while for my head to leave Australia after my incredible summer trip to Perth Poetry Festival. It has also been a month filled by projects, book launches and celebrating successes – other people’s as well as my own.

Week 1 

Kicked off with being the Half-ender at YES WE CANT in Walsall. The gig I returned to the UK for! It was a cracking night and a pleasure to have been asked to perform.

PPP Perf

rob barratt YWC

It was great meeting Rob Barratt and on top of that I had a winning Lotto ticket (£1 – before you all get too excited) and an order for a fab new Poetry T-shirt… looks like Mr. G will have to get me something else for Christmas this year!

Read a full review here YES WE CANT

I had 3 poems published in a new project – which you can read more about in Week 4 of this review. One of the poems was a piece I wrote in Australia, so it is exciting for me to see it already out there.

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I arranged meetings and made festival bids for ATOTC and 30-40-60. I was invited to a European Arts Festival in France. I looked at several applications, which I subsequently decided against for now.

I was busy managing INKSPILL, working with our Guest Writers. INKSPILL is our FREE online annual writing retreat which always takes place on the last weekend of October.

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Look out for more NEWS on this coming soon!

I had a meeting about Poetry Projects for October and performances in November. I have been asked to take part in two Remembrance events this year, which is an honour.

I went to a Workshop delivered by Emily Wilkinson who is working on The Ring, 21 Miles project. It was a wonderfully creative afternoon which gave me inspiration for poems, so far I have managed to create a poetry film of 9 Haiku which is currently entered in the 21 competition.

 

A new project LitWorld2 Journal – Pic a Pocket Poems and Flashes is underway. Created by Sarah Leavesley it will feature a weekly poem which has been produced with an image, photo poetry and flash fiction. I am curating the Facebook side of the social media campaign. I created the Facebook group ready and Sarah has worked on a publication schedule. It launches before the end of the month and posts will appear on Fridays.

P1080039 lit world image for twitterresized smaller  © Sarah Leavesley

I am very excited about the overall project and delighted to be able to support Sarah on it.

Unfortunately by the end of the week I was quite unwell but I did manage to get to Birmingham for Helen’s Book Launch.

Unable Mother Calcutt 978-1-9998444-0-0

Friday saw the first of this month’s Book Launches. Unable Mother By Helen Calcutt – published by V. Press was launched at Waterstones, Birmingham. It was a deeply moving experience, one you can read all about here UNABLE MOTHER

I had a well deserved (and needed – ill) rest over the weekend with Mr. G. Although I was still at the desk proofing an article and dealing with another which had gone to print. I also worked on some poetry for a project which has been simmering away for a while and needs to be sent next week.

Week 2: 

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I was still ill – so much so that I visited the Drs. & got meds. It meant I was not well enough to go to Licensed to Rhyme who were celebrating a 2nd Birthday, I didn’t make it over to Brum Stanza for Jacqui Rowe or PTS for Nellie Cole or SpeakEasy for Kevin Brooke or Hereford for H.Arts Gallery and new exhibition by Molly Bythell (my Ledbury PoArtry partner). Failed on five fronts but was successful at getting better. I spent some time in bed, in lots of pain but resting (which is unusually sensible for me). It was a shame to miss so much poetry but I couldn’t have managed any of the journeys getting across to any of these events so had no choice.

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Some exciting news hit my inbox, something starting in November and something else that I am in awe of and still grinning from.

Saturday saw the launch of ‘Don’t Oil The Hinges’ the new WPL collection from Heather Wastie. It was a great night and having missed 4 poetry events really made up for my week out in ill-health limbo! You can read all about it here Don’t Oil The Hinges

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On Sunday I attended a workshop in Birmingham Waterstones, The Accidental Memoir. It was interesting and gave me two new poems, one new technique and another book for the bookshelf/reading pile.

accidental

The Accidental Memoir workshop was taken by Anthony Cropper and we worked through several exercises in the book he co-produced with Eve Makis.

The Accidental Memoir truly is for all: writers and non-writers, teachers and students, the perfect book for anyone seeking inspiration or imaginative ways to explore their own life story.

This innovative concept was developed as an Arts Council project to help people tap into their own lives. Working with diverse groups from refugees to the elderly and prisoners, it has been a resounding success in unearthing stories that otherwise may never have been told.

Harper Collins © 2018

https://www.harpercollins.ca/9780008302030/the-accidental-memoir/

 

Week 3

This week I missed several Book Launches and Free Verse (London Book Fair), which I read at last year with Stephen Daniels for V. Press.

A lot of groundwork for INKSPILL started this week. I had an invitation to be part of a panel which I really wanted to do but the date in October is already booked up, I am hoping to be considered for the next one. I still feel angst when dates clash, October is an exceptionally busy month in the poetry calendar and there are several overlapping events.

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I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.

I had several project poems to complete and managed to meet deadlines on these. We have all seen the workings of the next part of this project and I will be sharing it with you when I can.

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I also did a lot of editing and FINALLY made some submissions. I made the first of several films creating a montage of the Perth Poetry Festival, which will go live before INKSPILL (27th/28th October).

PPF 2018

This week also saw my Jinney Ring Sculpture Trail Workshop. This is the 2nd year I have facilitated poetry on the Trail and with some exceptional sculptures our inspiration was easily tapped.

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Unicorn – Priscilla Ham

It was a great morning and the techniques/forms I chose to explore were enjoyed by participants. We are now working on our poems for two months and the next stage will be preparing an exhibition at the Jinney Ring which will be up by December.

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An invite to perform next month dropped into my Inbox.

I spent the weekend writing to deadlines and working on the next new project for October.

Week 4:

Another week of preparation for INKSPILL and other writing deadlines and missed events like Poetry Bites. I started to promote National Poetry Day (4th October), I am sad to miss an event in Birmingham with Liz Berry, Roy McFarlane & Jane Commane.

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This event is also the night the new Birmingham Poet Laureate will be appointed. Still cannot believe Matt Windle has finished this two year role, but we all know how time like this flies! Birmingham Literature Festival National Poetry Day

I am delighted to be booked to perform alongside former and current Worcestershire Poets Laureate, as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival for National Poetry Day.

AIMF

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/national-poetry-day-2018-change/

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Back in July I had an invite to read at Livres à vous – A Festival of the Arts in Voiron, France. I wasn’t sure it would be possible and it took a while to make the decisions about travel. Coach and train is fairly cheap but takes a long time and I have to be available for work most days. Today I booked my tickets to fly.

When I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I completed a project called Twin Town between Droitwich and Voiron and some of the poets involved in that will hopefully be there. I am looking forward to it.

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My poetry film entry for The Ring was found and several poems Unlocked and .. submitted for the competition. You can see all the entries here https://thering21miles.wordpress.com/.

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A last minute booking came in to work with Year 7 pupils at Blessed Edwards in October,  fortunately I was free to accept. This will involve 4 poets looking at 4 elements and group writing with the pupils. I am doubly excited as I got FIRE! My Leo-heart burns!

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The first week of October is looking packed. A week of several double bookings another event I was invited to do A Night with… panel interview/performance/ relaxed Q & A which looks really good – I hope to make it on a different date. This in turn clashed with a book launch and that isn’t viable either. I have an open mic with an amazing headline/line up and the NPD and Swindon Poetry Festival to look forward to.

This week I wrote 4 new poems based on Masks and performed them at 42.

I took another 2 bookings for December. Wrote lots. Edited lots. AND…became the newest Director of Worcestershire LitFest! WLF Welcomes a New Director

LitWorld2 Journal was also released. This is Sarah Leavesley’s Photography/Art/Poetry Project and the first poem to be published is by Kathy Gee.

I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/a-tale-of-two-cities-worcester-usa-uk-a-poetry-event-at-sprinkler-factory/

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I also got organised for Swindon Poetry Festival next week! Whoop! Ready to run at October full pelt now!

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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.

 

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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.

DAY 1 of 9

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.

shakespeares birthplace trust

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.

Stablemates image

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.

chelt PF Poster

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 Launch 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!