Category Archives: motivation

NaPoWriMo ~ The Final Full Weekend

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Here we are, Shakespeare’s Birthday, St George’s Day and the final FULL weekend for NaPoWriMo 2022.

Sometimes at this stage people are either sad to see the end of the challenge or more than happy to see it finish. This year I am caught somewhere between the two… I am delighted the challenge fell during time off work, but I have a lot of things going on at the moment and turning up everyday has been difficult, but when I weigh that against all I have learnt, read and the fun along the way, it is (as always) worth it.

Looking back at the stack I think I have a couple of gems I can work with. I acknowledge there are poems in the making which wouldn’t otherwise exist.

Doing the picture prompts has been time consuming, but heart-warming to see them shared on Twitter. I hope you have all reached a point of reflection where there is hope and happiness in your decisions. I am sure we have all managed something or got pleasure from the resources Maureen Thorson has shared with us along the way.

Think of all the poems you’ve read!

It has been a pleasure! And the best… It’s not over yet – there’s another week to go!


And for anyone struggling here are some tips.

Scroll to the end of the post for the Tips.

St. George’s Day

The link at the bottom for the full post will take you to my Worcestershire Poet Laureate website.

The NaPoWriMo Hump

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You are more than halfway there but you’re feeling the burn. This post is for you.

This weekend rather than gather the ever growing NaPo statistics, I thought I’d go for motivation.

Whether this is the first time you have attempted 30 poems in 30 days or if it’s old hat you reach a point where you want to down tools and run away. This is natural. Work through the burn and carry on. If that’s too much, distract yourself for a bit until you are ready to face another challenge. Skip a day or two if you have to. You may find time another day to tackle more than one prompt to catch up or decide to let them go. I have done all of the above since I started the challenge back in 2014.

Writing IS a challenging process and anyone who has attempted to write a novel (or even a novella) will tell you that motivation can be a challenge. As is complete loss of confidence. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Not everyone is a pianist – but walk up to a piano, hit a key and you made a note.

Whatever you do – know that it’s right for you and forgive yourself. If you want to forge ahead but you feel you’re flailing try these tips:

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com
  • See the BIG picture
  • Are you writing a collection and hoping to create some extra poems through NaPoWriMo?
  • Are you just doing the challenge to have fun?
  • What do you need/want/hope to get out of it?
  • Perhaps you don’t have a big picture – create one now.

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  • Divide and Conquer

If you following Maureen’s site the prompts always come with rich resources and poems. I always approach each day in chunks, I do it chronologically but sometimes mix it up.

  • Divide into three sections (Featured poem(s)/ Featured Journal/ Prompt)
  • Spend a chunk of time on each throughout the day.

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  • Think about your BEST TIME

As writers some of us are more creative in the morning, others late at night. There will be days you are time poor and busy, be flexible, adjust. If this means writing on your phone or a post-it note, or recording an audio note – then do it.

  • Choose the best time of day for you to write.
  • Change it up when you can – you will be surprised how different free writing becomes.

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  • Situate
  • Try writing in different environments. This could be inside your house or out in public.
  • Find somewhere you would never write. Write.

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  • Read, Read, Read


Remember NaPoWriMo is not about being perfect, it isn’t about editing. You will create a bundle of poems which would not otherwise exist, you will know of more poets and journals by the end of April and you will have some material ready to edit as we head towards June!

And most of all HAVE FUN!

NaPoWriMo Weekend Pit Stop: Take Stock (Wk1)

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You have managed over a week, over a quarter of the NaPoWriMo challenge. At this point you will fall somewhere between exhausted and rejuvenated. This weekend post should help you reach some balance because if you’re already attempting 30 poems in 30 daysYOU ARE AWESOME!

Mission: One Week of Awesomeness by Katie Swanson
is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

WEEK 1:

READING POETRY

This week you’ve read at least 30 poems (or 31 if you did the Early Bird) and probably more, as who can visit a magazine and only read a couple of poems? Plus you would have read your own work back to yourself. So the actual number is probably way over 40!

40 poems in a week… for those of us who read collections that may not be unusual, but it’s certainly good practice to read widely and I can guarantee this week’s reading will have lodged sprinkles of muse inside your minds for later! By reading a few extra poems in the journals and including my own work I have read 56 poems.

Of course, you may have fallen behind and feel intimidated by these numbers. Don’t be. At the very least you started and who’s counting anyway! Just keep going. You will have read more than if you weren’t attempting NaPoWriMo at all!

© Hayley Parson

WRITING POETRY

You will have written at least 9 poems. If you’re taking part in Nina’s NaPo Challenge there will be 18 new poems in your stack.

In addition you may be using the PAD challenge or others – go careful if you’re working through multiple prompts, in previous years I have saved some lists for May/June… there was that year I wrote 99! But I wouldn’t recommend such pressure.

Whatever you do and however many poems you managed to write – KEEP IT FUN!

I have written 10, as I did the Early Bird prompt.


WONDERFUL RESOURCES FROM NAPO

9 Participating websites will now be on your radar/reading lists.

9 Journals/ Magazines.

3 poets associated with the prompts.

1 list of poetry prompts.

1 Twitter account + several other resources.


WONDERFUL RESOURCES FROM AWF

In addition to this if you have been following my posts you will also have links and information for:

Poem(s) by: Emily Dickinson, Andrea Gibson

Articles: Writing Forward on Prose Poetry & Numerologist.com

RESOURCES: Mythical Creature generator, Inciting Incident generator, Diana Pressey’s website & Button Poetry You Tube Channel/video.

And of course the additional challenge for Ekphrastic poetry.

But NaPo is much more than a numbers game. You will feel all sorts of positive emotions from being part of NaPoWriMo 2022! You may have found community, new followers, a new poet or poem to love, an answer to a question, a joy for writing and/or a release.

Let us know how it has been for you in the comments and don’t forget to find some time to relax too!

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NaPoWriMo 2022 – DAY 1 – Early Bird

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Pens at the ready! This is no April Fools… poets around the world will be creating 30 new poems this month and they start TODAY!

Later on today I will share the first prompt of NaPoWriMo, until then here’s the Early Bird Prompt from yesterday (31/3/22)

Click here for the FULL prompt.

a special early-bird prompt, based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson Museum

Dickinson is known for her elliptical style, unusual word choices, and mordant sense of humor. Over the past year, I’ve experimented with writing poems based on, or responding to, various lines from her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to do the same! Here are a few lines of Dickinson’s that might appeal to you (the slashes indicate line breaks):

  • “Forever might be short”
  • “The absence of the Witch does not / Invalidate the spell”
  • “If to be ‘Elder’ – mean most pain – / I’m old enough, today”
  • “The second half of joy / Is shorter than the first”
  • “To be a Flower, is profound / Responsibility –

Dickinson is one of my personal favourites, last year I was gifted several amazing books of her verse and spent a lot of Lockdown with the Emily Dickinson Museum. I am looking forward to carving out a little time to try this prompt.




I delved into The Gorgeous Nothings and read lots of Emily Dickinson’s poems online before choosing my approach poem.

In the end I settled on this poem from 1861:

There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons –

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –

We can find no scar,

But internal difference –

Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –

’Tis the seal Despair –

An imperial affliction

Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –

Shadows – hold their breath –

When it goes, ’tis like the Distance

On the look of Death –

Choosing just one line to start from was my next challenge!

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –

From here I jumped into a word document, I know that longhand freewriting would give different results, I went back to the practice of notebooks at the start of Lockdown 2020. But I have also found from keeping Napo journals in the past, I am more likely to treat, polish and edit a poem which already exists digitally.

I used to be like Emily and write on the back of envelopes, beermats, napkins, receipts – whatever was available, I have a small collection of teenage angsty scribbles in a box somewhere – but those non-cataloguing days are over!

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One small downside was I had marked a community workshop (US) in my diary at 10pm and was so lost in the wonderful world of light and faith that I missed the first 30 mins and couldn’t get in! The irony of missing a workshop where I could have penned 3 or 4 beginnings to only one poem is not lost. However, think this was the universe intervening – there is a lot going on in my world right now and after another almost full week of work, I am mentally (and physically) exhausted!

I wrote a very personal poem which has a need for each line so quoting one line won’t really translate.

I kept the stanza short – tercets (as a nod to Emily), and continued to write it until it reached a natural end. It is longer than I expect it will be. I edit from May – so now it is ready to rest in the NaPo 2022 file.

I had fun completing this prompt.

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Nina’s NaPoWriMo Challenge

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Don’t worry – it has nothing to do with rock climbing!

Although intense generative writing practice feels like a workout. I have been participating in Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo since I discovered it (2014). The following year I discovered the PAD challenge – A Poem a Day over on Writer’s Digest and did both, generating over 60 poems in April.

Over the years many poets in the UK (and probably around the world) have offered their own course of prompts or groups for April. I have taken part in these too, memorably a series of prompts from Carrie Etter and a Napowrimo group during Lockdown with Caleb Parkin. The most poems I ever wrote from April’s Poetry Month was 99!

All this extra writing has been fun (if not a bit exhausting)…

This year I decided to add my own additional challenge into the mix: Nina’s NaPoWriMo Challenge! Feel free to spread the word.

I’m keeping it simple (and FREE):

Every day I will post a new picture prompt and you go away and create whatever you want.

Get yourselves ready for an extra splash in the fountain this April!

On Editing

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The idea behind this post came from my inbox, from an email from Writer’s Digest. I read an article from 2011 by BRIAN A. KLEMS on editing. Check out his version of the Lesser Known Editing Symbols and put some fun back into editing!

Many of us enjoy the editorial process, you don’t have to be a writer for very long before you realise editing needs a whole different headspace to the writer brain!

As I fell through the rabbit hole of articles on editing, I realised it has been a while since I posted a technical post to AWF, so mostly with thanks to Writer’s Digest, (I have added my own pearls of experience too), here we go!

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MY QUICK GUIDE:

  1. As we all know: GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to write a bad first draft. Don’t expect it not to be.
  2. Let it rest, leave it to marinate, don’t be tempted to lift the lid for a peep. Drawers are good places for printed m/s to take a break. Leave it for at least a couple of weeks if you can, months even.
  3. Return to read it (out loud) with fresh eyes.
  4. By reading aloud you will discover any areas which don’t make sense or trip you up. Mark/Highlight these. Spell checked homophones. Tenses.
  5. Spot any inconsistences with character/setting.
  6. Choose your favourite colour/pen and explore, re-read, seek out golden nuggets. They may still need editorial development – but these parts work (for now*) and you don’t want to lose them yet.

*By draft 3 or 9 these golden parts may no longer fit – if they truly are amazing make note of them and file them to be embedded into future work.

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GO DEEPER

Read this article by guest columnist Laura Toffler-Corrie. Revisions: What Every Writer Should Know.


GET SERIOUS!

The Revision Process: How I Prepared My Book for Publication

This article was written by Madeline Sharples. She is the author of Leaving the Hall Light On (Lucky Press, May 2011).

Madeline Sharples delves into her editing process and encourages us to write an editing schedule. This is not something I have done, but then the longest m/s I edited was Novella length. I probably did a schedule if I glued together all the individual To Do Lists which were part of my process.

There are 7 Top Tips covered in this article.

  1. Create a revision plan
  2. Don’t edit as you write
  3. Use a hardcopy
  4. Have others review your work
  5. The subjectivity of reviews
  6. Create a schedule with Milestones and STICK TO IT
  7. Keep going until you are satisfied.
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My practise does include some of her 7 Top Tips: I tend to recarpet in m/s pages rather than using a wall. Mainly because there is less free wall space available to us at 5’4! My work is often peer reviewed, I am part of several editing groups and another opinion is always valuable (but remember, also subjective).

I do create schedules and action plans. Often they are bitesize, by week or monthly overview of action. I forgive myself when I don’t stick to them.


So enjoy the writing process and take a deep breath before you begin editing. Like your writing ability, editorial skills will develop with experience. Remember to repeat what works for you, find a system of editing that you can enjoy and keep a copy of that first draft so you can see how far the m/s has come!

Maureen Thorson ~ Share The Wealth

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Maureen Thorson is both humble and selfless in her annual encouragement of poetry. One thing which struck me when I discovered NaPoWriMo (2014) was how generous Maureen was with her time and Napo prompts. She wasn’t after any awards or even a mailing list, she was just giving.

So I am delighted this year to be able to give something back. I feel Maureen truly deserves it!

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National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April.

This website (napowrimo.net) is owned and operated by Maureen Thorson, a poet living in Washington, DC. Inspired by NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month), she started writing a poem a day for the month of April back in 2003, posting the poems on her blog. When other people started writing poems for April, and posting them on their own blogs, Maureen linked to them. After a few years, so many people were doing NaPoWriMo that Maureen decided to launch an independent website for the project.

This site was designed by the very nice people at 2the9design, who know waaaaayyyyy more about back-end coding stuff than Maureen does. But this site isn’t meant to be “official,” or to indicate ownership or authority over the idea of writing 30 poems in April. There is no corporate sponsorship of this project. No money is intended to change hands anywhere. Maureen just likes poems and wants to encourage people to write them. The site doesn’t ask for your email address, or any other personal information. Heck, you don’t even have to give your name.

© 2011-2022 NaPoWriMo

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The first official post of 2022 shares this information, https://www.napowrimo.net/coming-soon-na-glopowrimo-2022/ but I wanted to share it over here in AWF. I know there are some people who love to read poetry over here and thought you might like this.

Maureen has a new poetry collection out, sadly I missed the Book Launch but found a reading from the new book from earlier in the year.

https://www.maureenthorson.com/share-the-wealth

Share the Wealth is my third full-length collection of poetry, published by Veliz Books on March 1, 2022.

Previously Maureen Thorson published two collections of poetry, My Resignation (Shearsman Books 2014) and Applies to Oranges (Ugly Duckling Press 2011).

Some poems from her NEW book can be found here.

And from the blurb…

Maureen Thorson’s collection Share the Wealth combines playful persona poems and satires with beautiful lyrics about life in the woods. One can’t move to Maine without channeling the ghost of James Schuyler, so it’s not surprising that his careful and sly observational style informs Thorson’s most grounded lyrics. “Bliss is relative,” says a frog in one of her poems, and I’m grateful to these poems for reminding us to look for bliss, however relative it may be.

— Joanna Fuhrman, author of To a New Era

And here you can find a reading from February 2022 – Boog City festival.

Congratulations Maureen!

Maureen Thorson is the author of Share the Wealth (Veliz Books, 2022), On Dreams (Bloof Books 2021), My Resignation (Shearsman 2014), and Applies to Oranges (Ugly Duckling Presse 2011), as well as the chapbook Mayport, which won the Poetry Society of America’s national chapbook fellowship for 2006. She lives in Falmouth, Maine.

Projects in the Poetry World which keep longevity are to be praised, heartfelt gratitude to Maureen for keeping NaPoWriMo part of our lives every April!

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NaPoWriMo is COMING ~ Warm Up Here

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NaPoWriMo certainly gets to the heart of things. I enjoy April every year for the gifts of words and focus on poetry. I give myself permission to write a lot of rubbish, but every year there are a handful of poems created with a glow, many of these go on to be published in magazines, anthologies and my own collections.

(2016)

Buy a copy here.

(2019)

Buy a copy here or from my website here.


I have collated this post to link to previous NaPo posts on the blog. So you won’t have to wait until tomorrow to warm up!

Last year’s warm up post – including some of the history of NaPoWriMo (rebranded GloPoWriMo – as it is now (and has been for a while) a Global phenomenon. I just can’t switch to calling it GloPo).

NaPoWriMo Warming Up

There will be some 2022 Early Bird posts arriving at the NaPo site over the next couple of days. I know they start live posting on the 15th March. Here’s a link to the 2020 Early Bird writing prompts.

NaPoWriMo Early Birds 2020

No Napping from 2019 NaPoWriMo (please note not all video links work).

Preparing for the Event of NaPoWriMo from 2018.

You can always search for more – my NaPoWriMo posts go back to 2014 and include a daily thread for every year.

I wish you well with your writing and look forward to the 15th, when the REAL magic starts!

Enjoy x

Writer’s Block (that old chestnut)!

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At the end of January I caught Covid, which kyboshed my plans to clear the inbox and share gems with you all here. I have finally (after 10 days) had my first NEGATIVE test result and am all good to return to work tomorrow. Apart from the financial damage, I am okay. Grateful and fortunate for that!

So I thought I would share another piece of treasure with you whilst I still had a little time at the desk.

Now, there are several schools of thought on Writer’s Block from it doesn’t exist to chronic suffering. I tend to feel I am somewhere near the not existing end of the spectrum, simply because I believe you block the flow if you tell yourself you are blocked. I do believe (and have experienced) slumps in writing after large projects or book publications, ill health and periods where there has been no writing at all*, I take these to be normal passages of being a writer.

*It is said (widely) that even if you don’t commit words to paper/screen your mind is still creating, gathering and writing for you.

I also know if you are ever suffering medically (as I was in 2019) your brain will not be working in the way you’re used to. Your whole system starts survival mode. Personally, there were 6 months where I didn’t write at all. I actually reached the point of acceptance;

‘Well those years were fun whilst they lasted, what’s next?’

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Here for your reading is a Writer’s Digest article from the archives of 2019, it’s a Guest column written by Hope Bolinger.

9 Weird Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Bolinger starts by looking at typical responses (some of which I’ve stated):

“You just have to write every day.”

“You gotta push past those esoteric obstacles and believe in yourself and your writing.”

And, of course, everyone’s favorite: “Writer’s block doesn’t exist.”

before moving on to tackling nine atypical solutions.

My favourite solutions include:

3) Treat / Rewards

…we will psychologically program ourselves to equate rewards with writing. Done in moderation, our brains will work harder to achieve these benchmark prizes. So set the bar. Once you reach an attainable goal (500 words, a completed article, etc.), don’t be afraid to gift yourself when you hit it.

7) Get anti-social

I love writing, but I also love Pinterest. Take a wild guess at which one sucks me in for hours.

Although social media has allowed writers to connect with readers from across the world and share fantastic tips in various writing communities across all social media platforms, it takes us away from the thing we post about all the time: writing.

Various apps such as FocusON and Anti-Social allow for authors to turn off social media and focus on the writing. Don’t worry. Once you finish those last fifty words, you can turn social back on and beam at all the Instagram notifications to your heart’s content.

© Writer’s Digest

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When I first started writing and hadn’t built up discipline, I used to use the other laptop, the one which refused to acknowledge the fact we had the internet. I was more productive! We all know that time slip when you just pop on for one post or the rabbit holes of research (wondrous though they are). If you only have 30 minutes, use it ALL for writing!

For more atypical solutions read the full article here.

June 2021 – Review of the Month

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June – we finally got our summer after perhaps the wettest May on record since 1967! The sunshine has made up for it since. The plants are finally thriving (with a bit of watering help). Festival season continues although I have made a conscious decision to calm the diary down and get back to the desk work (actually writing)!

Despite having to quarantine for 10 days, I didn’t have time to complete this post. So I will share it in two halves, like every wonderful Euro match!

PART 1:

FESTIVALS

HAY festival – ran until 6th June

Roxbury Poetry Festival 5th June

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 6th -11th June

WEEK 1:

I spent most of the week enjoying events at the Hay Festival. I blogged the 2020 Digital Hay extensively here on AWF – but this year I got to fewer events than I hoped. By the end of the week I was busy spending days organising the WLFF Festival. I managed to make Ade Couper’s Amnesty International event on Friday night. A deeply touching experience. I was quite involved with Amnesty International as a young person, it shocks me that are still having to do the same work decades later and more. I used to write quite a few social activism/political poems, I need to dust this part of my brain off because our words and actions are still necessary!

The weekend was complete madness! I discovered Roxbury Poetry Festival at the end of May and booked tickets. Three weeks before in a workshop with Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton, I met an Anglo-American poet, Chloe Firetto-Toomey. We collaborated together in the workshop and Maureen presumed we knew each other and had worked together before… well we are now and Roxbury was a chance for us to experience a festival together in real time! It was a fantastic programme of events and beautiful knowing we were there together. There were several simultaneous events and we had no communication over any of them* and yet we turned up attuned in each session the same.

*We did discuss going to Rachel McKibbens Craft Talk – as Chloe had sent me one of Rachel’s poems days before.

Roxbury was an amazing hybrid festival. I watched a reading, participated in a wonderful workshop, attended a craft talk reading and the Keynote Speaker Reading:

POETRY IS NOT A LUXURY
Reading & Discussion with Janice Lobo Sapiago & Angelo Geter.

Hosted by the Academy of American Poets, this reading and discussion brings together the Poet Laureate of Rock Hill,
SC, Angelo Geter and the Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County, CA Janice Lobo Sapiago. Poets will perform a reading of their work and engage in conversations around poetry, civic service, and landscaping spaces for youth poets.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

AT HOME IN THE MOVING BODY

Connecting Body, Breath, and Image: Writing Workshop

In this workshop we will connect and constellate the poet’s body to the literary image and to the poetic line.Taking a tip from breathing exercises, we will work together to create unexpected and deep images that bear our understanding of what the body can do as an antenna for our experience of being human. Central to this will be thinking through the various migrations and motions our bodies make and have a memory of making. This will include engaging the concept of home in its complexities for the poet and the poem’s speaker.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

This workshop with Rajiv Mohabir was intense and generative. Some incredible things came up for me, I was so glad to have the experience and with Chloe too. So much of what we’re tackling came up in theme or thought throughout the day, it was almost as if the organisers had seen right into our minds.

CRAFT TALK W/ RACHEL MCKIBBENS

This event is in partnership with GrubStreet

As poets, we use devices to resurrect or bury, but how often are we willing to lean into our own wickedness, to give it its rightful placement as the second face of our vulnerability instead of an agent of confession? This craft talk encourages participants to bring their lunch on screen while enjoying a craft talk from poet and performer, Rachel McKibbens.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

There was so much deep honesty in Rachel’s talk, that sometime afterwards in an email exchange with Chloe, I wrote the darkest, most honest work I have ever shared. Darker than any of my 42Worcester poems or anything I wrote in gloom. I have Rachel McKibbens to thank for opening that door.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS W/ JERICHO BROWN

2020 Pulitzer Prize winner, Jericho Brown, will read from his book The Tradition and answer a few questions from the audience. This talk will be moderated by a local artist.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

I always love it when I am in a room with people who have never seen Jericho read live before. Such intense atmosphere and performance. I am grateful for the fortune of watching this man in action throughout 2020 and 2021. I have never seen him perform without tears, his and mine.

A truly exceptional spirit!

I saw Holly McNish & Simon Armitage at HAY. And Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe kicked off Festival week with the Launch and crowning of the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

You can read about the whole festival (link in Week 2).

Week 2

For any Fast Show fans… this week I have mainly been organising and facilitating Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival events. I am one of the Directors but also in charge of tech and port of call for a lot of the poets /judges involved in events. I was prepared for a HARD WORK week — what I didn’t bank on, was a week at the chalk-face too. Timing!

The whole WLFF Team worked exceptionally hard to make the mini-festival 2021 as successful as it was.

Read all about it!

Congratulations to Ade Couper – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2021-22.

I kept things small the weekend after LitFest but did manage to have breakfast in Australia back with Perth Poetry Club, followed by a Sheffield Libraries workshop with Claire Walker and a night in America at the WWBPA with the Poet in residence 2021 – Forrest Gander.

On Sunday I went to the fabulous Black Pear Press Launch for Brian Comber and Beth O’Brien.

The weekend was exceptionally hot!

Week 3 & Week 4 (Part 2) Coming Soon!