Category Archives: Naked Lungs

Review of October

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The end of last month was so crazy busy I am only just tying up loose blog ends now, nearly midway through November!

October was a true turning point month, goals I have been working towards for a while came together and opportunities flowed one after another. It was a fab month I thoroughly enjoyed being busy. Half term was filled with writing events and I also managed (or was possibly forced by exhaustion) a couple of days off. Think I have had about a week so far this year because I love what I do – it doesn’t feel like work. blogging

I started reviewing my writing life in weekly chunks as it was becoming too much to blog in real time about my schedule.

OCTOBER highlights include;

National Poetry Day – I loved finding out how other people had marked this special day, some of the things people got up to were incredible.

I hosted the opening event of Arts All Over the Place – Poetry, Performance and Everything Else as the Poetry Princess, followed by a writing workshop with Jan Watts and Cathy Crossley, next I  performed at Roy McFarlane’s Soulful Poetry Event – all part of the AAOTP Festival. Then I hotfooted to the library in Birmingham to watch the new Poet Laureate being announced. Adrian Blackledge became the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2014-2015

This day also marked ONE YEAR since returning to the OPEN MIC circuit!

RELATED LINKS:

National Poetry Day

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Literature Festivals including Birmingham Literature Festival, Poetry, Performance & Everything Else Festival and Book to the Future Festival.

I went to see the recording of Radio 4 Poetry Please with Roger McGough, followed by With Great Pleasure, also recorded for BBC Radio 4. Rich McMahon was playing guitar and singing in the foyer  before the evening show at the Rep Theatre of Tell Me on a Sunday, which was a storytelling event set up by Writing West Midlands and Cat Weatherill to share real life stories. Marking the end of 3 years on this project she had selected some of the top stories and tellers to perform and treated us a little to her own stories in between.

I then returned to the festival the following weekend to perform my own commissioned poetry about Urban Nature for Naked Lungs.

A spoken-word exploration of the intersection of urban and natural.

Our lives in the city are played out amongst the products of human endeavour, the frantic pace of the metropolis tending to obscure our innate intimacy with the natural environment. Yet nestled within the concrete and mirrors are jungles brimming with other lives. Birmingham has recently been declared a Biophillic city and is praised for its biodiversity. How does the city structure our experiences of the non-human? Is it valuable that we facilitate such experiences? A group of writers will be producing and performing work dealing with these questions.

It felt amazing to be part of the festival just one year after discovering it! My first commissioned performance project, I hope there are more opportunities in the future.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/birmingham-literature-festival-naked-lungs-urban-nature/

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Full Story

I performed a set for Phenomenal Women organised by Jan Watts for the Book to the Future Festival at Birmingham University and Arts All Over the Place celebrated the end of the PPAEE Festival with a huge party, I was delighted to perform an amusing set for the them and have Swingerella share the stage with me.

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SpeakEasy also celebrated the 1st Anniversary, I was happy when they asked me to perform a set at this special event. More

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I also completed my biggest poetry project to date and organised INKSPILL for the 2nd Year – an online writing retreat hosted right here on this blog. There is a pinned post on the front page of this blog (homepage) with links to the main articles from our INKSPILL weekend, go check it out. This year I was joined by Writer William Gallagher and Poets Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie who wrote and filmed some wonderful guest posts full of knowledge, advice and experience.

My brother’s Wedding at the beginning of the month was a non-writing highlight. I read a poem by Roy Croft during the service to the tear stained faces of the bride and groom – toughest of audiences. It was a truly magical day!

That is a lot of highlights for just over 4 weeks!

 

Blogs & Projects

I continue with 52, although I am behind in week 40 something. I regret not being able to take full advantage of the community of this group, my own writing schedule has taken off this year and I am busy working when I am not writing and some weeks cannot find the time I promised to carve out for 52. We are all getting reflective as the year draws to a close.

Naked Lungs – My 1st commission – 2 other poets and myself performed at Birmingham Literature Festival in a piece called Urban Nature, it was an amazing experience.

Hanbury Hall Art Exhibition – an opportunity through the Poetry Society Stanza group to write poetry inspired by art in the gallery. I enjoyed the exhibition and still need time to create, write and edit my submission.

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INKSPILL – kept me busy over the last week of October, writing and researching articles, communicating with Guest writers and organising the schedule of events. It was great fun and lots of people have accessed the posts.

 

Submission

I completed a poetry project and missed lots of end of month submissions.

Wrote poetry for my commissioned performance and received rejection from publications I submitted to over the summer.

 

Performing Poetry (which I attempted to cut back on to maximise writing time)

Events I performed at include;

Mouth & Music, Kidderminster, hosted by Heather Wastie, headlined by Jasmine Gardosi. Where I first performed my Halloween Set – to the theme of Ghosts and Ancestors, including two new poems written especially for the event.

Oct me saffron tomsmemouth-music-poster-oct14

 

worcs speakSpeakEasy, Worcester Hosted by Fergus McGonigal – Worcester Poet Laureate, headlined by Antony Owen and Spoz, I was lucky enough to be asked to perform and was delighted as this was the 1st Anniversary Special! There was CAKE!

 

Poetry For Lunch, The Library of Birmingham, hosted by Jan Watts.pfl me choosing poemspfl oct

Restless Bones Birmingham Promo with Born Free Film at The Ort. restless the bookborn free

42 Halloween Special

Mostly Halloween at the Ort – a 10 minute set.

 

Word Up, in Halloween Fancy Dress Birmingham, hosted by Ddotti Bluebell – a night of amazing poetry. Headlined by Daisy Edwards & Swingerella.

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Workshops & Events

Writing Workshop David Calcutt Community  Garden Walsall, WILD FIRE

Poetry Workshop Angela France in Stratford-Upon-Avon

AAOTP Award Evening – where I received a HERO AWARD for stepping in last minute to open the festival.

Alan Durham’s Hen Race Book Launch

 

Meetings and Projects

We had the annual meeting of writers with Writing West Midlands.

My 1 to 1 Mentoring Role for WWM was made official and planning started for these sessions.

I also managed to get to Stanza this month again, hosted by Sarah Kemp. stanza scrabble

 

Birmingham Literature Festival – Naked Lungs Urban Nature

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BLFest This year a call out for poets was announced by Naked Lungs (Joe Whitehouse & Christopher Baker) for a collaborative project and performance at Birmingham Literature Festival.

80 people applied to the initial advert and although Naked Lungs didn’t interview all applicants, it still feels special to be picked as one of the four poets. The brief was intentionally loose to give artists room to interpret and play, we met up and visited the Community Garden in Digbeth for some extra inspiration and to spend some time together.

I really enjoyed meeting new poets, Hannah Graham is a local poet performer and Amanda Hemmings works with young people writing at the MAC, Aysha Begum, is a poet I already knew, we have performed at the same events and I have enjoyed some of her projects, like Bridge the Gap. She recently won the Oxjam Slam in Birmingham.

The whole project was individuals working privately on the commission and then coming together to unite our words and ideas. I really liked the fact that we wrote in the dark and then discovered the elements of synchronicity.

Unfortunately due to demonstrations *that I am not going to give promotion to*, one of our performers was prevented from arriving safely at the library. This situation was fully understood by all of us and I think if it had been any of us in that position we would have done the same. But at one point we were potentially half the cast down Hannah and I thought we might have to fill the whole half hour together. A daunting prospect!

This would have been a challenge on timing alone. We had been asked to write for 7-8 minutes worth of material, due to differences in the way we all work and the poetry we produce, not every artist fulfilled the timings brief. This meant that we were already short of the specified performance slot.

Everyone wrote amazing poems and performed them brilliantly. We all work differently and I am sure everyone put their all into the work for this performance, certainly in the time spent learning their poems, which is something I didn’t have time to do – as they were only completed 4 days before the performance and I had 2 days of work and 2 events in that time.

We needn’t have panicked though as the extra time allowed us to introduce the project and the poems and contextualise some of our material. It was a worry but needn’t have been, we were just a few minutes short of the 30 and no-one seemed to mind.

It was a great project to be involved with and great fun performing in the foyer of the Library of Birmingham. We had quite a good crowd of people watching, along with our own supporters and everyone did really well. I still can’t believe that Amanda hadn’t performed for a year, what a brave way to get back into performing! Hannah Graham is amazingly talented and I look forward to watching her in the future.

I will continue to seek out future opportunities as amazing as this one.

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