Category Archives: Nine Arches Press

Review of July

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Week 1: 

Workshop/National Trust Project

Room 204 is involved in the Croome Court project Adam Speaks. We met Chris Alton, the Lead Artist at a workshop at Writing West Midlands Headquarters in the Custard Factory on Saturday 1st July.

1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young  © 2017 Peter Young

This was an epic 6 hr workshop. Chris is working with 4 groups Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School. It was exciting to know that these workshops will feed Chris’s art.

Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© 2017 Rachel Hill

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. 

© National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

Literature Festival

Sunday saw my 3rd official WPL appearance on the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words. This event had a great turn out and beautiful Sunday morning sunshine for the poetry walk, a gentle stroll across the green park around the Bell Tower in Evesham.

I performed some Evesham poems written especially for the event and enjoyed listening to poetry and prose. It was good to see some people who happened upon our merry group, stay and listen.

It was good to reconnect with Sue Johnson and I booked another event later for this year.

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This festival always has a great programme. They are already booked up for next year.

Radio

On Monday I had my first Radio slot with Tammy Gooding BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester. This was something Maggie Doyle instigated during her WPL tenure (2013/14). It is a tradition picked up by other Laureates and I am happy to continue with it.

I read ‘Gander’ one of the poems written for Evesham Festival of Words. Tammy is amazing at putting you at ease. She was also impressed with an interview which needed no editing! It has been decades since I stepped foot inside a studio. I was nervous, but had such a great time! I am already booked in for August.

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Performances

During the evening I took a guest slot at Licensed to Rhyme, Maggie Doyle & Spoz’s monthly poetry event at the Artrix.

Headlining this month was former WPL Suz Winspear, Claire Walker was the other guest poet and there were a plethora of open mic-ers. It was a fabulous evening.

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And before I start sounding like the Hungry Caterpillar… on Tuesday I took a rest. There were events I would have liked to attend but I was attempting to conserve energy for my Headline slot at Uncorked.

Having pencilled in Ledbury Poetry Festival, Lichfield and Shropshire – we arrive at Thursday.

Headline

I was booked for Uncorked at Bottles a while ago (before WPL), originally scheduled for June, I swapped into July so Charley would have a chance to sell her recently published books. I on the other hand have had my final 5 copies of Fragile Houses for months… this is the way it goes sometimes. I didn’t sell any books but I had a great evening.

Sean Colletti created a masterpiece idea for the introductory sets so instead of the traditional 5 minute teaser from each of the Headline poets we worked together on Sean’s concept of a waiting room & the result was an interesting concoction , especially considering it was unrehearsed.

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Clive Oseman, Jake Scott & Sean Colletti were all wonderful headliners and we had a good range of open floor spots too. Holly has created something magic here, helped by a sensational venue Bottles Wine Bar in Worcester.

Workshop

Up early the next morning (hard to sleep on post-performance adrenaline), I drove to Shrewsbury for a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. I would have paid just to meet these two poets who have been on my radar for a long time. So having the bonus of a workshop was superb.

Unfortunately, I missed the performance the night before as I was at Uncorked. It wasn’t a prerequisite to the workshop though. The workshop was based on epistolary poetry. Which is something I have only tried to a few times. Strange because I used to love writing letters, I had 33 international penfriends by 12 years old. I also started writing to an old, re-united friend during my deepest depression. These letters are now even more special to me as she sadly passed away.

The workshop was brilliant and I got some ideas from it, as well as books. Love their work and cannot wait to spend time with the pages.

I recently (28th June) re-wrote one of my workshop poems and took it to stanza. I will do something with it in the future. I am pleased with the result and know I would never have written it without this workshop.

It was at the Severn Theatre in a huge room, necessary as it was a large group. It was lovely to reconnect with the Shropshire crew. I have been busy lately and it has cut me off from many out of county events. I cannot remember the last time I made it to perform in Birmingham beyond Waterstones events. I know how quickly the poetry scene moves there, so it will be full of people I don’t know – which is exciting.

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I was booked in for my first Cathedral Poets Workshop in Worcester the following morning and an action packed day in Ledbury on the Sunday. Reason and experience told me Mr. G and I needed some time and I needed to rest. So regrettably I cancelled the workshop and now have to wait until October. October is an incredibly busy month with Swindon Poetry Festival, Birmingham Literature Festival and school workshops, so I may not get to the Cathedral again.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 

I always want to attend the complete festival, I dream of pitching up a tent and staying. It is like a massive holiday for poets with a daily celebration of words. However, knowing I could only manage one day this year – I chose a day with an action packed programme.

It was amazing. Read the full 21 Years of Gold

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Week 2

After work I was too tired to get to watch Beyond the Water’s Edge at the Artrix and I am very disappointed to miss it. I also missed the WLF Committee meeting (as I was meant to be at the theatre). Where was I? Asleep! Although having read Week 1, I am not surprised. I was also working on an application and some poetry which I used most of my post-Ledbury adrenaline to fuel.

I booked in WPL work and wrote commissioned poetry for Buildings Talk Hospital Histories (a project I spent 3 weeks working on) and got my set for Chapel Lates organised and set some promo for an event in August.

I gave myself some downtime knowing the end of the week was another hectic schedule.

Performance/ Cheltenham Music Festival

Chapel arts

Chapel Lates in Cheltenham, an amazing night of poetry and prose as part of Cheltenham Music Festival curated by Anna Saunders (Founder Cheltenham Poetry Festival). Read all about it here  Chapel Lates Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1

 

This event clashed with HOWL and Outspoken. It is always the way. It has taken 4 years, but I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I cannot be everywhere at once.

Commission/Performance/Project 

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories

Charley Barnes asked me to participate in a Medical Museum Project at the end of June. We had access to historical archives (photographs) which are not on general display to the public and from these we created a 10 minute set of poetry.

Buildings Talk

It was a great project to be involved in, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Louise Price had the creative vision to intersperse the medical talks with poetry. We performed our poems with the images projected behind us.

The next stage of this project is displaying a selection of our poems alongside archived footage.

Read a full review here Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories


I took a poetry break for a couple of days to work and to reunite with college friends, our two yearly reunions, epic fun! Just imagine Drama students 20 years on!


Performance

I attended Open Poetry which this month was a charity event to raise funds for PIPKA – refugees in Lesvos, Greece.

I performed my refugee poem, now written 4 years ago, this world of ours remains in crisis. Read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/open-poetry-for-pipka/

EC This event was organised by Helen Calcutt and David Calcutt and featured Guest Spots from Christina Thatcher, she read from her recent collection ‘More Than You Were’.  more_than_you_were_large

Week 3

Writing

I needed some time at the desk to complete work from the Spring (another book endorsement) and read material that I am reviewing. I also needed lots of Admin time to complete arrangements for Artsfest (working on this since February), future bookings and promotion of other events.

I had as yet not re-awoken my creative muse – not to give a spoiler… but this was the month!

This was also the last week of work before the summer, my contract had finished and although I wasn’t expecting any work I had to remain on call. This meant several bleary-eyed mornings on the computer, just in case.

I had events and meetings to attend this week which did not involve me performing. A welcome treat/break from pressure and nerves. It also gave me some time to gather energy before the Artsfest Day (22nd).

Readings

Summer Party – Nine Arches Press

I thoroughly enjoyed this event with Jane Commane and…9 arches 3

The readings were superb and the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘PARTY’! Read all about it here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/nine-arches-press-summer-party/

Meetings

The following morning I had an early start and a meeting in Birmingham at the Custard Factory with Jonathan Davidson and the other writers involved in Spark Young Writers groups. As ever it was interesting sharing ideas and great to spend some time with other writers/poets.

Book Launch

In the evening I drove to Cheltenham to finally catch a Book Launch from Angela France. DFH4x-NVoAAzcZ2 I was excited to see the multi-media element that I had heard so much about and to listen to Angela read more from this collection I have been following for the past couple of years. Read the full review of this special evening https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-hill-angela-france-book-launch/

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The launch shook my muse awake and for the first time in months, I was writing. For about two hours straight!

Meetings

I had a meeting with the Events Manager at the Jinney Ring to put plans into action for my September workshop using the Sculpture Trail. It was exciting, my list of 8 pointers were all achieved and it is shaping up to be a great WPL project.

Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

The Sculpture Trail at The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcestershire.

The morning will start with a tour of the trail and some time to write using the sculptures for ekphrastic poetry or initial stimuli. Followed by a writing workshop in the marquee. 
Tea/Coffee and cake is provided as part of the ticket.

There will be opportunities to share writing and participants will be able to send polished work for at exhibition at the Jinney Ring in October.

In addition to all this, there will also be the opportunity to share your work at a reading in November.

For more information please contact me: worcspl[at]gmail.com

Official poster with all booking details out soon. Just awaiting the new trail photograph. 
10:15 meet at the marquee for a 10:30 Tour. 
Tickets £7.00

Festival Artsfest

droitwich artsfest

I need to write a complete blog post for Artsfest – which finishes on the 5th August. I will link back here afterwards.

It was a brilliant day with Poetry in the Square and an evening event Poetry Extravaganza at Park’s Cafe.

Watch Out Worcester! 

watch out worcs

I performed at St. Swithun’s Church at an event created by Suz Winspear. It was a great experience and I loved the building and atmosphere. I will write a blog about this event and link it back to here.

st swithins dancefest

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/NEWs/15437699.Dancing_in_the_streets_of_Worcester/

Week 4

Writing

I spent a few days chained to the desk with writing and admin. I missed Poetry Bites as I was too pushed for time to get to King’s Heath and extremely tired after the busy weekend.

I researched new material and wrote 3 new poems for 42.

Workshop

I attended a workshop led by Angela France in Stratford, I always enjoy these sessions and listening to the work that is created.

Performance

I performed at Drummonds, 42 in the evening. The theme was Curiosities and I had fun exploring this theme. I wrote about an underground library in Seattle, the hanging coffins of China and fossilised skeletons. I left the Cabinet of… for others.

It was a great night, very entertaining with a Guest Host – Kevin Brooke – who did a sterling job, he made it look easy and we all know, it isn’t!

I missed Caffe Grande Slam for another month, as I needed to conserve energy.

ArtsFest Poet in Residence

On 28th July I was at the library in Droitwich as one of the Artists in Residence for Artsfest. I had a smashing morning talking all things poetry and tested out my Poetry Kit idea. This is something I will make more of at another point.

I took this booking as a poet, but decided as I am WPL it was a good opportunity to raise awareness of this role and promote WLF at the same time as DAN – Network.

DAN Lib

It was a lot of fun and has given me ideas for future events. It was the first outing for my new WPL t-shirt and the tablecloth, bought after the workshop on Wednesday.

DAN Lib 2 Children making Poetry Kits – we were competing with the Summer Reading Challenge who had a sock puppet workshop, or as I saw it, we had a captive audience to come and make Poetry Kits for FREE after.

DAN Rhys  © 2017 Rhys Jones

Poetry

I dropped in two poems to be displayed on the table and wall at The Canal Side Studio. There are more events this summer from there. So watch this space.

DAN Lib3

I finished the month with a Stanza meeting, which was a lovely evening and had some useful editing tips for my Dear Sky – Ivory/Figura workshop poem.

July has been exceptional!

 

Review of October

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Review of October

Week 1

Following advice I was trying to not be too busy pre-book launch but after a week off events I took my writing group for Writing West Midlands, watched all the poetry coverage on BBC2, missed another writing deadline and decided that I would drive to Cheltenham to Buzzwords and catch David Clarke and Cliff Yates (another new-to-me poet).

Buzzwords was great, I realised I hadn’t been for over a year. I had a fabulous evening and do not regret it, despite it being the night before my launch. I read my latest poem – a work on tribal philosophy and have some poetry drafts from the workshop to work on when I get a chance (Christmas holidays maybe).

I had imagined I would spend Monday getting ready for the evening – but in reality I missed writing deadlines, overslept, did everything I could to reduce the nervous anxiety of what if no-one turns up and finally at about 2pm started to get organised.

I am going to write a full post about the launch and some follow up posts about the organisation aspects, as there is a gap of relevant information in this area.

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Waterstones Book Launch for Fragile Houses in Birmingham with Guest Readers – Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. It was a cracking night, the next morning I woke up to go to work and it felt like a dream.

The following evening I headlined at Stirchley Speaks. I have been headlining since Autumn 2014 but this is the first time I had a book to sell. I did leave home without them and had to turn back to grab the bag, I knew there was something I had forgotten. Since this night I have started using a large event handbag and always carry a couple of copies.

Stirchley Speaks was a great night and I sold lots of books, I realised at this point I had underestimated how many I should order. Taking advice from Jane Commane back in 2014 who said that audience doesn’t necessarily convert to readership. I was aware not everyone I know will buy the book. I have a list of people who want a copy next time I see them too.

It was good to catch up with everybody in the P Café and it was an incredible night of poetry.

The next day I contacted my publishers and ordered another box.

I hadn’t submitted any poetry for a while and had news of one of my poems being published in the USA. More on that when it happens.

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I treated myself to an evening off and a little rest before National Poetry Day, which is fast becoming one of my favourite dates on the calendar.

I collected my new batch of books and went to Suz Winspear’s NPD event in Worcester. As Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz is working hard this year in the city and found a brand new venue for the NPD Event. Berkeley Almshouses was the venue and some of the residents came to enjoy the event. It was a great evening and the old chapel had fabulous acoustics and suited Suz very well.

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This year’s theme was messages and I certainly sent a few texts whilst trying to track down the entrance to the venue. Great sets from everyone and I got to catch up with Math Jones (up from London) and Ruth Stacey. I even sold a book!

I spent the weekend Fri- Sun at Swindon Poetry Festival, it was 2nd year there and much as I loved it last year, this year was EVEN better! It deserves a full post and as I pretty much did everything on the programme, will certainly need one. A great way to finish an exhausting, fantastic week in my poetryskin!

swindon

Other great news was Matt Windle became Birmingham’s new Poet Laureate and by the end of the week I had sold over 50 copies of my book!

 

Week 2

Started with a recovery day. I started to create Poetry Films, something I have got hooked on. Last year Sarah Leavesley kindly tutored a group of us in the art of production and I was inspired by the Poetry Films I had seen at Swindon. There are several poems in my pamphlet that I will rarely perform. These are all now Poetry Films.

On my recovery day I spent some INKSPILL admin time and rehearsed a set for Licensed to Rhyme. Roy McFarlane was headlining. It was a great night and I was allowed to sell my pamphlets, they had a table and everything.

The next evening I went to Ledbury to the Poetry Salon where Deborah Alma was reading and finally got a copy of her book, ‘True Tales of the Countryside’, a beautiful Emma Press pamphlet. deb-alma2

I unexpectedly performed in the open mic section. Fragile Houses reached Ledbury. It has since reached Palestine, Malta, Holland and Australia to my knowledge. It was a wonderful, rich evening and great to see Ledbury folk again.

This week was also Birmingham Literature Festival and due to work commitments and events was the first time since coming back to writing (2013) that I missed it. The night after Ledbury Liz Berry and Benjamin Zephaniah were performing and also Gregory Leadbetter had his book launch for ‘Fetch’ (Nine Arches) at Waterstones, Birmingham with Angela France and Jo Bell reading.

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© 2016 Nine Arches

I was gutted to miss both these events but with working and poeting I had no energy and if I remember rightly was asleep as soon as I had finished tea.

The following night Luke Kennard was performing in Birmingham and I missed it because it clashed with SpeakEasy, where I was already performing. Roy McFarlane was the feature and it was a joy to listen to him twice in one week.

Fragile Houses received a Chez Nous Review which I was delighted to discover came from Gram Joel Davies. He actually chose some of my favourite foods – go and have a read.

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/chez-nous-recommendations-for-fragile.html

By the end of the week I was run down with illness and missed Holding Baby a play by Jan Watts and the rest of the Book to the Future Festival (again for the first time since 2013). I hope to catch the show another time, I have heard nothing but good things about it.

It was great to finish the week with a Madhatter Review http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/books–e-books.html

 

Week 3

Fragile Houses has positive reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.

I was asked to do something that I am really excited about, more on that next year. I spent days preparing for INKSPILL in shifts of 8 – 12 hours.

Mr G and I went to London to see Woven Hand.

I was too tired to manage Hit the Ode and Smokestack Poetry Evening event clash), both in Birmingham, both top nights. I also missed the Dylan Thomas Festival, running for the first year in Cheltenham. Unfortunately it clashed with INKSPILL this year.

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I signed up to an online course ‘Arts for Health’ and performed poetry for ‘She Speaks Her Mind’ Woo Feministas – alongside Suz Winspear, Charley Barnes, Claire Badsey & Holly Magill.

Then of course it was INKSPILL with Gaia Harper, Roy McFarlane and Deanne Gist. This was the 4th year for us and it was a success. I already have Guests and plans lined up for 2017.

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The Magnetic Diaries – which I saw in it’s infancy in Hereford last year was on at the MAC and although I couldn’t make the show I did make Sarah Leavesley’s workshop ‘Pain to Poetry’. I have some poetry notes and one poem so far from this and it was a challenging (emotionally) but not unpleasant experience. I also got time to reconnect with many poetry friends I have not seen in a while.

 

Week 4

I spent the early part of the week writing. I entered a few free poetry competitions. I took some bookings for next year and exchanged pamphlets with J.V Birch through the post. She is a childhood friend, now living in Australia and has also become a poet at the same time as me. It has been exciting to map and mirror each other’s journeys through this new world.

I dressed up for Halloween as a ‘Cereal Killer’ and went off to perform at the Halloween Special 42 in Worcester. Where (due to the wig) people didn’t recognise me. It was a fabulous night and a great excuse to dress up. Fantastic sets from everyone.

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photos by Liam Cortintias

The next day I had to do my best to get all the make up off and go to a workshop run by Angela France, the theme was Fairy Tales and I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and even sold a few books.

I listened to poetry on Radio 4 and missed my Stanza meeting to take part in a Charity Quiz night. All teams of 8 and due to circumstances we ended up with just 4 in our team. We were going for the Booby Prize but decided it was hard to share a bottle of wine and so started to get answers right. We came in 5th not too shoddy, somewhere in the middle. Over £1000 was raised for MacMillan.

I hoped to go to Lania Knight’s workshop, having missed her last one due to a crash on the motorway, but this weekend we celebrated a special family birthday.

 

A Review of March

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March started with a performance at ‘The Works’ Canteen’, a night of poetry, music and storytelling at the Black Country Living Museum, hosted by the museum’s poet in residence, Dave Reeves. An event that has been on my radar for a long time and one of the few events I blogged about in a timely manner. The Guest Poets were Jan Watts & R.M Francis. Rob Francis hosts Permission to Speak (PTS) and took a collective to perform at the museum, including me.

It was a fabulous evening – read more about it here.

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I received my long awaited and much anticipated copy of Under the Radar – Nine Arches Press, where my poems Fortiori and The Gift share the pages with a plethora of poetry talent. These poems are from my forthcoming collection and I was delighted to have them accepted. They were accepted in 2015 and it seems like a lifetime ago now.

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I completed research to write poetry celebrating Women’s History Month and took great pleasure rewriting a poem about Annie Edison Taylor, the first person over Niagara Falls in a barrel and she survived, her only injuries came from trying to get out of the barrel after the drop. All about the adventure! Her poor cat was the test lunge, the cat was barely harmed either.

My work with Writing West Midlands was secured for another year.

The second week of March involved a lot of writing, more submissions were sent out and admin tasks, which every writer could use a PA for. I was asked to judge a slam for Womanly Words, in the end I performed instead. I missed events I had planned to go to, day job work kept me busy and with the heavy writing schedule I didn’t have the energy. I dream of a poetry chauffeur.

The WWM group met our new Assistant Writer and worked on our book project. I missed a Memorial event for Sammy Joe at The Edge, which was on the same day.

I enjoyed ‘Poetry by the Lake’ in the Arboretum, Walsall with David Calcutt and performed a short set. It was a sunny day and the park was full. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended.

POETLAKE

The third week of March could be the reason why I ended up fading away. I was working full time and also had a timetable to get all my submissions out on time. The writing still needed editing and polishing.

  • I wrote over 12 new poems.
  • Sent 8 submissions.
  • Wrote a set of poems for Woman’s History month.
  • Took bookings for next month and the summer.

I missed events I had hoped to attend. Three of which fell on the same night. I also missed WLF & Fringe Earth Hour which I wanted to support. I had already committed to the Vanguard Readings, with Richard Skinner. An amazing night of poetry from Helen Calcutt, Emma Purshouse, David Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane and Richard Skinner. I have yet to blog about this event and wish I had managed it in real time.

vanguard

I performed at Worcester Arts Workshop for the first time, for Women’s History Month, it is always lovely to come across new (to me) poets. It was a pleasant evening, vibrant, warm atmosphere and lots of support and love for women, organised by Feminista Leisa Taylor. I am grateful to have been part of it.

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By Week 4, I barely knew my name. I had a writing day (they do not exist as much as I would like), worked on my manuscript (approaching what I hope is final editorial stages), I marked WORLD POETRY DAY, missed a photo shoot with fellow Womanly Words poets, wrote a short article on poetry and completely forgot about Stanza! It fell on Good Friday and Mr G and I had had an action packed start to the Easter weekend.

The end of March was slightly strange as I took a break from most of my writing and performance schedule for Easter and never started again. The last few days of the month were mostly offline. I proofread copy of an up and coming anthology. Another lingering process which started last year. It will be a delight to finally read the collection. I have the proof copy but I want to curl up with the real thing.

I finished the month with a workshop in Stratford with Angela France and submitted the blog as a participant for napo2016button2

Review of the Month January 2016

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What a strange start to the year, so much change and loss. I do not feel that I can write a review of this month without a mention of Sammy Joe, who sadly passed away on the 5th January. Events that I attend weeks later are still making tributes to her and many of us still cannot believe that she has gone. Her funeral is early February and a donation page has been set up to raise money for Mental Health Charities.

Many of us (artists and non-artists) suffer mental health issues from time to time or all the time, it is the nature of using our minds, the depths a creative soul can rise and fall. Anyway instead of flowers some of us are pledging a donation in the hope that other people can experience a better kind of care and understanding.

I for one find it difficult to imagine not seeing Sammy at an event again, my thoughts are still very much with her family and close ones, her daughter and everyone who has known her. Whether you knew her for a few years or more, she will have touched your life in some way either through her brutally honest poetry or through conversation or her cuddly hugs. I wish I had known her for longer than I have, I feel good to have known her and thank her for all our heart to hearts.

Rest in Peace  Sammy x BL RH Sammy Joe © Rangzeb Hussain 2015

 

 CHANGES ON THE CIRCUIT – EVENTS

This month also saw the end of Mouth & Music for a while, back in 6 months time hopefully.

SpeakEasy will still continue as it is part of the Worcester LitFest but after two years at the helm Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal are retiring from organising and MCing the event, the last chance to catch them hosting will be next month.

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JANUARY – BACK TO WRITING

For me January was the month I learnt to swim again *not literally. The end of 2015 from November onwards saw a slow decline in productivity, I found I was unable to write, by December I was barely trying. I had the weight of other things crowding my mind and the ‘love of writing’ spell broke for a while. This deflated me, as it was the first dip I had felt since embarking back into a writing life. It usually makes me feel great, even during periods of editorial rejection or non-submission, but by the end of 2015 I had ground to a halt. I knew I would pass GO again, just wasn’t sure when. I tried not to worry, but wasn’t happy with the negative projection I was giving writing.

I knew I would still carry on with this dream, but was dreading January becoming another winter month of no writing.

Fortunately the month kicked off a few days in with a Claire Walker Workshop, in which I managed to write a poem and faith was restored. The action plan was drawn up and I organised 4 writing days this month as well as working evenings and weekends to get everything done. There has been a lot of editing too.

I wrote over 21 new poems and submitted work to 9 different places. See I told you I meant business. It still amazes me that organising submissions can still take 3-5 hours even when the material is ready. A few revision lessons in not leaving things to the last minute, have managed that well as everything to be sent by 31/1 was actually out by 3oth! Leaving me a whole day at the end of this month to get ready for February. Yes the Action Plan is already saved.

This is my year of WRITING (I keep telling myself).

2013 the year for (re)learning and finally finding poetry

2014 the year of the gig, festivals and commissioned work

2015 the year of headlining and writing my first chapbook

2016 the year of editing/writing

I have had poetry accepted by I Am Not A Silent Poet, Abridged, Maligned Species Fairacre Press. A total of 5+ poems out there for eyes to read. That’s smashing. I will write more about these publications next month.

Contaminated

Your Sentence of Non-Guilt

Poems for Ashraf Fayadh published in I Am Not a Silent Poet

Expectation – Abridged Floodland Issue

Colonisation

Quantum Wonderment – Fairacre Press, Maligned Species Project Spider E-book

I also discovered the poetry of Patience Agbabi. I went to watch her perform at The Hive. I enjoyed a night at the 52 Launch this evening and will blog about both events next month.

Week 1

Workshop – with Claire Walker, new poetry written, performed at The Ort, booked Headline slot for February.

Week 2

Booked tickets for Patience Agbabi & Liz Berry, performed at Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy, went to Poets by the Lake to watch Sarah James, Bert Flitcroft & Roy McFarlane – an event facilitated by David Calcutt, submitted poems, wrote new ones – including some I performed in my set at SpeakEasy, Daniel Sluman invited me to his book launch in February.

Week 3

Wrote and submitted more poetry, published on I Am Not A Silent Poet, thanks Reuben Woolley, I read a lot about Ashraf Fayadh and watched other poets and politicians performing his work, there was an online event on the 22nd in support of his release but I was working my day job and unable to participate. I received a nice rejection email from Little Lantern Press, I had sent work for the next anthology on Loss back in 2015. I started to research modern love and wrote a poem about pearly presents which I took to Stanza.

Week 4

I did a lot of research for the Maligned Species Project which was released by Fairacre Press back in the Autumn and naturally I left it until the last week to work on submissions. It is a really interesting project which again I will blog about in more detail, I have had 2 poems accepted for the spider e-book. I am delighted to have a poem published in the next issue of Abridged too, I was accepted 3x on Friday night – that was a buzz and shows what an activated action plan can achieve!

I am still working on my manuscript and have by-passed 2 self imposed deadlines. I know the editor would rather have a manuscript that is ready though, especially after all this time. It has been on the top of the desk this week and I am part way through.

I was sent an email which made my day/year – someone on twitter had tweeted that in the whole of Paper Swans Press ‘Schooldays’ Anthology the end line of my poem was their favourite line in the WHOLE book! I have read it (RECOMMEND) and know how good the poetry is!

I made more submissions and received another rejection from a magazine I have tried to break since 2015 – does one give up or keep going?

I watched Patience Agbabi perform at The Hive – wow – wowed!

I signed up for a Warwick University course Literature & Mental Health – which starts in February. I started using my Kindle Fire *Thank you Mr G – Christmas pressie!*

I have just come back from the launch of the 52 Prompt book at the MAC, more on this soon.

I wrote my ACTION PLAN for next month!

 

Writing, Research, Performing & Watching

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This week is one of those weeks that feels as if it is going on forever (in a good way, I think)! I have managed to work this week and get my nose to the writing grindstone too. Which is fortunate as I have just accepted a short-term contract for the next fortnight and will have precious time or energy left for writing. I haven’t worked full-time since my illness, but it isn’t for a long period of time and I have a week off after to recoup…well, after Mr G’s Birthday/Valentine weekend.

Next week I have writing deadlines, a headline slot at Stirchley Speaks along with Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. It is also Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch and Emma Purshouse is performing at Permission to Speak, which (depending on energy levels) I hope to make. On Saturday I am working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) and in the evening watching Liz Berry as part of National Library Day as well as working with small, terrifyingly energetic four year olds! I think the blog posts may have to wait.

the terrible daniel sluman

Maybe next week will seem as endless as this one, it is good when time feels stretched this way.

This week I have been taking chunks out of the Action Plan. Writing around the day job, as many of us have to do. My main focus was on a project that needed lots of research, which I managed to write 5 new poems and have enough material and ideas to generate more when I get a moment to write again. I have submitted this poetry and now have my fingers crossed for a positive response.

I have also been editing the manuscript, which really needs to be emailed. You know that thing when something is as written as it can be for now but you keep chipping away at it. I heard an interview with David Calcutt this week, where a comment about editing struck me because I think not only is it true of my own poetry/writing progress, but is also part of my learning of 2015 about writing once you have had work accepted and it is part of an editorial process.

David on editing poetry: ( paraphrased) some people ‘polish the diamond’ – diamond poetry is strong, hard, well executed, beautiful but it is what it is and doesn’t leave room to be anything else. Poetry can be equally as good but not as polished, where there is still breath in the work, it has been overly re-written, it allows the reader space.

I guess it is that fine line between polishing something so it shines and polishing it so hard it becomes so hard to handle it slips right out of your hand to the floor. I am always aware of ‘authentic voice’ in poetry, this may or may not be a bad thing. I know we all work differently and that my manuscript is in exceptionally safe hands editorially. It is just me learning to let go more I think.

The things that we dream of are new realities and experiencing them in real-time is different to how they were imagined.

42

I also had the pleasure of a Poetry Event, so far this year (and I know we are only weeks in), I have managed to maintain my resolution of cutting back performances and events in order to create more writing time. This was my first performance in two weeks. It was the first 42 event of 2016 and as there is no December event it has been a good while since I had seen some people. It seemed a little strange wishing each other Happy New Year at the end of the month. These spoken word nights are themed – and as you know, I pride myself on writing to theme. This month’s theme was extremely challenging:

‘Around the Myths in 80 Words’ – I liked the play on title but researching and writing the poetry was a different matter. At the end of two days I was happy with all 4 poems and they were ALL just 80 words (sometimes editing is necessary to success). I wrote about Hercules and Achelous, The Rainbow Lady – A Goddess in Mayan Myth, Welsh myths from Cader Idris. Cader Idris is a mountain in Gwynedd, Wales, found at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. I also wrote a poem based on Urban Myths.

I really enjoyed the evening and there was some great writing born from this challenging prompt. It was a late night and there are currently night works on the main exit roads, making my journey home close to an hour, on a work night! I tried not to let this dampen my spirit last night as it was such an enjoyable evening.

Also Andrew Owens shared the exciting news that rather like my local roads, the bar where he hosts 42 is having a renovation. Hopefully this will leave us with a great new performance space for the rest of the year. The pub has bands playing on the stage weekly too and the room could use some TLC, I am sure the new owners of the pub will do themselves proud. I cannot wait for the unveiling.

42 superhero Most of us are hoping the performance post disappears.

Today I heard that one of my submissions has been unsuccessful, you know when you really want to crack a publication and you submit time again to be rejected… well I have decided that since doing battle in 2014, 2015 and now this year to wait until I find a perfect match between the issue theme and work I have already written because creating to theme in a style that matches the publication doesn’t seem to be working. I will crack it.

I realised whilst playing with diary dates and deadlines that 2016 is in fact my Olympic year. I am in the 4th year of writing (technically 3rd year of poetry – two under the belt), so this will be the year I take stock and so far I think it is fair to say that I am not giving up on wordsmithing, nor will I ever. The 15 years I have taken off in the past was enough and the success and feelings I maintain writing show me that this is the right path. I know I won’t need 16 years to achieve what I am striving for – but still I look forward to taking stock over the next 4 Olympics nevertheless.

2012 brighton 427

I have also taken some time to compile my set list for Headlining next week and have finally taken my new Kindle Fire out on the open (or not quite so open) road to 42, one of the reasons I wanted one was to use for performing. I look forward to setting it up over the weekend for next week’s readings.

macwhatshappeningcouk

This weekend I am going to watch Patience Agbabi at The Hive and go to the MAC for the 52 Launch Party before collapsing in a heap and getting some sleep before next week. I hope that the in a night-out a night pattern that fortunately fits the week will keep my head above water.

Patience Agbabi in Worcester

Telling Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Week of Writing

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Over the past week I have been busy writing new poetry, making submissions, working through my action plan chronologically and editing my manuscript. I have managed just one full day of writing (my 1st this month) on the 18th and I filled it with working on poetry and research. writing

I have made three submissions this week, written over eight new poems. This is great because by the end of last year I felt creatively drained and found writing new poetry an impossible task. Now I am back in the game, I can feel the desire to write return and have already thrown away two pens CC I can do itwhen they ran out of ink! Fortunately I have started the house de-clutter, so I know I have hundreds of pens AND I know where they are. Despite the rush of this creative spell, I have just spent over 40 minutes this morning trying to create a title for a romantic poem I wrote for last night’s Stanza meeting. It now has a title, although I think it may be a temporary title.

I have taken this week off from performing to concentrate time and focus on my writing, I intend to repeat this monthly as 2016 is the year I have to focus on writing the words. Real work has been busy too, spending the majority of my week with three year olds has been an eye opening, now I am thoroughly exhausted and looking forward to a restful weekend.

Work – Pyjamas – Poetry, has generally been this week’s theme.

ds sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

I had an exciting invite last week to Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch for his new collection ‘the terrible’, which we have been promoting here on the blog since 2015. ds nine archesthe terrible daniel sluman Naturally the book launch clashes with another event that I had already committed to performing at, but with my new SatNav (thank you Mr G), I hope to manage both events before collapsing in a heap the next day.

I also discovered last week that Liz Berry is performing locally as part of the celebration for National Libraries Day. I grabbed some tickets and scribbled this February date straight into my writing diary. It will be a pleasure to watch her again in the new venue, doubly delightful as it is local and involves zero car miles.

liz berry

Back to my desk now to write a few more romantic poems and then onto the next project.

My overall aim this week is to finish and resubmit my manuscript. I have finally (after two months of searching) decided on a new title for the collection and I cannot wait for my editor to read the strengthened version of poems. I look forward to posting updates about this soon.

pfl me choosing poems

Keep writing x

 

 

 

 

Plenty Fish By Sarah James Book Launch

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I was delighted to make Sarah’s launch for her latest book, Plenty Fish – published by Nine Arches Press on the 12th September at Park’s Café. I was already on a high from leading my first WWM group in Worcester.

It was a great night hosted by Fergus McGonigal.

plentyfish

with Mike Alma, Kathy Gee, Ian Glass, Holly Magill performing their poetry too.

Plenty

Lots of top class poetry and a wonderful set by Sarah.

plentyfish sarah

It was a great night, I can’t wait to read this collection.

plentyfish books

Photographs Justin Leavesley © 2015

June – Review of the Month

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June – what a busy month,  brimming with challenges, competition, festivals and longer term projects, as well as taking stock half way through the year.

My MOOC course How Writers Write Poetry with the University of Iowa finished and I enjoyed an incredibly busy month of performing, writing and getting published. The sparkly, golden bits most people get to see instead of being aware of all the hard work and ground work that caused the success in the first place! CN-1780-logo-uofiowa

WEEK 1

  • Voting closed for Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate poems. I reached the final along with 5 other talented poets.
  • I did a workshop with David Calcutt and the Caldmore Garden Poets, they were scheduled to perform a group poem at the carnival day on the 13th, which I couldn’t attend as I was working the final Writing Group for Writing West Midlands. Due to the weather this performance has been rescheduled and I can now take part on the 21st July!
  • A recent poem of mine from the workshop where e.e. cummings was our starting point – ‘Late Spring’ has been published on David’s blog you can read other poems there too. http://naturalhistoriesblog.com/others-writing/
  • My term ‘poeting’ coined last year is becoming widely used by many poets! Hoping to get it into OED next year!
  • Jess Davies had her opening night of a new spoken word event in Stirchley at the P Café, it was packed and well attended. Stirchley Speaks – and it certainly did!
  • Scary Canary hosted another Permission to Speak, Rob Francis’s fantastic night – NOW FREE!! This month saw Brenda Read-Brown and PTR Williams headline.
  • I went to Debbie Aldous’s Spoken Word at The Ort and shared a lovely meal and some Tennis with Tessa Lowe beforehand.
  • I spent a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon at Cannon Hill Park, The Mac (Birmingham) with a collective of poets – we took over the storytelling tent whilst they all went for lunch and performed to some greatly enthusiastic children. We are also hoping to get some of our poems hung on trees down by the lake, later this year. We had a special guided tour to this secret location. MAC With Frankie Ryan, Tony Fox, Syrac Citam, Timothy Scotson, Callum Bate and Nina Lewis at Cannon Hill Park.

© Jasmine Gardosi 2015

All of these events can be read in further detail in my Poetry Wrap post. Enjoy!

Poetry Wrap 5 (A Brief Introduction on Exhaustion)

 

WEEK 2

  • The 2nd week of June saw a performance at HOWL and a great packed night of poetry, hosted by Leon Priestnall. Fantastic headliners and I met two poets who I have only seen around and never spoken to before, Luci Hammans and Sipho Eric Dubepart, A.K.A ‘Unhindered Reign’ – one of three headliners, the others being Glyn Phillips and Jess Davies. I met with Sipho a week later at workshop with Candy Royalle.

I spent most of this week on tender hooks and full of nerves and butterflies as it was the WPL final and the Launch of this year’s Worcester Lit Fest. I spent most of the week preparing for it and missed some previous diary entries for open mics due to energy levels, it was a full on week of work, work for me too.

  • Friday 12th June was the Poet Laureate Finals, the winner this year was Heather Wastie.

WLF Heather WPL

Heather receiving her engraved award with Maggie Doyle at Worcester’s SpeakEasy Lit Fest Special.

© WLF Team 2015

Suz Winspear was the runner up and I came in 3rd position.  WPL

© Betti Moretti 2015

Read all about the experience here WLF 2015 The Launch & Poet Laureate Final even typing this has my heart set on edge again!

  • The WLF took over my life for the next 10 days, this week I saw Ben Parker, Todd Swift and Chloe Clarke (Young Poet Laureate) performing at the Royal Porcelain Museum, where Ben has just finished his residency and Todd is taking over.

BP Chloe Chloe

BP Dr Todd Swift Todd

BP Ben Ben

© WLF Team 2015

It was a super night of poetry. I treated myself to Ben’s collection, I love his work. Ben Parker From Porcelein

  • I had my final session at The Hive as Assistant Writer to Ian MacLeod, from September I take over the senior writing group as Lead Writer for Writing West Midlands. We invited the parents to come and take part with the end of the session, it was great fun!

 

WEEK 3  

  • The week started well with news that my poem ‘Beyond Gas Street Basin’ is to be published in an upcoming anthology of city poems called ‘Birmingham Bound’. It was a poem I was commissioned to write last year by Naked Lungs for Birmingham Literature Festival. I am delighted to be in a book all about Birmingham as it is a city that has opened it’s poetry doors for me since the tail end of 2013.
  • WLF continued and I had the delight of watching John Hegley at Confab Cabaret, Malvern. A SELL OUT Fringe event.
  • WLF I performed at the 42 WLF Special and met Adam Millard for the first time.
  • WLF I performed at WLF SpeakEasy Special and thoroughly enjoyed Brenda Read-Brown‘s set.
  • WLF I watched the Offa Press Poets, Bert Flitcroft & David Bingham at the Institute before seeing Jonny Fluffypunk return from his Austerity March experience in London to perform for us again. A highlight for me.
  • WLF Bert and Jonny joined us on the Summer Solstice Walk up the River Severn, where we all performed poetry at locations along the walk. A super, magical experience.
  • I was asked to perform at a fundraiser next month for Arts All Over the Place.
  • I attended a workshop with Candy Royalle, the international act at this month’s HTO (Hit the Ode) – which I missed as I was performing at the WLF Special SpeakEasy. It was amazing, she is a forceful spirit, driven and dazzling in her buoyant enthusiasm. Great to meet her, gutted I missed her set. I created 3 poems, in the 3 hours as well as picking up some great performance tips. Mainly driving home some things I already know. It was lovely to work alongside friends too!
  • I was invited to be a featured poet, but was unable to accept as I will be at Ledbury Poetry Festival, I am hoping this booking may happen later this year instead. Something else to look forward to!

Read about these events on fine detail here Poetry Wrap 6 & WLF – Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe 2015 – A Wrap! which includes links to individual WLF posts I created throughout the festival.

 

Week 4

  • I had 2 writing days at the beginning of the week, it has been a while since I have been able to dedicate time to actually writing. I did a lot of market research too and drew up a list of submissions to hit before the end of the month – as I realise I have hardly sent any work out there this year.
  • I took part in an open mic as part of my town’s current Festival.
  • I went to the Two Towers Brewery to perform as part of Debbie Aldous’s new night Spoken Word and More.
  • Droitwich Summer Festival invited 9 performers to entertain with poetry and music at a magical Live Lit event hosted at Park’s Café and organised by Malcolm Wakeman and MC-ed by Fergus McGonigal (everything he touches, turns to gold)! Performers included;

Fergus McGonnigall (previous Worcestershire’s poet laureate) & MC

Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate )

Jenny Hope

Math Jones

Mike Alma

Bridget & Malcolm Wakeman

John & Pauline Franks

Nina Lewis

Polly Robinson

Ruth Stacey

Holly Magill

Sarah James (runs the Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza) & Val.

It was lovely to go for a meal with people afterwards too and chat away the night. I finally got to bed at 2:30 a.m after I had worked off the adrenalin! I have been looking forward to this event since Sarah James launched her new book The Magnetic Diaries, KFS Press. Since then she has had Hearth published, a collaborative book (Mother Milk Books) and is about to have PlentyFish – her new collection published with Nine Arches Press.

  • New opportunities for training presented themselves and I was fortunate to be online at the time. Looking forward to telling you all about this latest venture in September.
  • I also continued work on my own collection.
  • I had a poem published on Visual Verse – ‘Shame in the City’.
  • News of the 52 ANTHOLOGY published by Nine Arches Press – Out soon!
  • I performed at Sunday Xpress just before coming home to pack my suitcase! They have found a new home at The edge Artspace, Foundation Arts, a great venue in Digbeth. The room was as crowded as outside (it was a hot day – the beginning of this heat-wave, just in time for my holiday! Loved performing this afternoon, it is the first time I have felt this great after Sunday Xpress, fabulous venue, great people, new faces, abundant talent – just a marvellous mix. Unfortunately I missed the bands this time as I have to make some submissions and pack a suitcase. I will be back over there over the summer though. Fabulous success, deserved after years in the pubs of Digbeth. (There are some gems of bars in Digbeth, just noisy and full of local life that is great for a pint but not so accommodating for a poem!)

All this and more can be found in Poetry Wrap 7

inkspill holidayAnd now I am going on holiday for a much deserved rest!

 

THE WRITE YEAR WILL BE UPDATED ON MY RETURN

Poetry Wrap 7

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This week I have mainly been researching markets, which takes so long – but is a habit I need to get back into.

I also logged my writing days and have discovered that I have had less than a month so far this year and that 40% of that time was dedicated to workshops, everything I have managed has been across just over 2 weeks, so instead of feeling frustrated and beating myself up over delaying schedules and losing out on opportunities, I am now proud of everything I have managed to accomplish in such a small window of time.

This year has been strange, I have worked more and Mr G was working away for 3 months so weekends were our only time together, there have been patches of no writing at all and certainly a lack of submissions. I am still pushing, working hard and succeeding though and do not wish to moan over lost time knowing that plenty of writers out there still work full time and have to squeeze time at the keys into evenings and early morning sessions.

I needed to see it – track the data – to find out what was happening as these feelings are new to me. Having spent the best part of 2 years on an ultimate high! Now I have seen what has gone on I can plan to turn it around in the next 6 months. Nothing like a Midsummer to take stock! writing space 2 mote carlo This is not my writing space or view, it is the view of someone I completed the University of Iowa poetry course I did last month. Lucky, hey? It captures how I feel post-analysis.

This week I had just one gig in the week and a whole weekend of performing;

There is a month long festival in my hometown which tends to lean towards classical and choral music more than anything else, but there was one open mic/ acoustic event on Wednesday (also my eldest nephew’s birthday… he reaches double figures)! I went down to check it out and perform.

Friday night was Debbie Aldous’s new night in Birmingham at the Two Towers Brewery, where everyone performs in  open mic spots.

two towers

Spoken Word and More… and there was plenty of ‘more‘. Lots of stand up, singing, musicians – including a medieval harpist and a Polish Violinist – who was the exceptional opener for the night. As well as storytelling and poetry. It was a challenging gig, not an audience who particularly focussed on poetry.

The micro brewery, warehouse setting was interesting and so was my re-calculated sat nav journey. It took about twice the time it should have to get there. An entertaining night that was worth the late night and all performers received beer tokens and a chocolate roll!

Zuzana Klementova harp Zuzana Klementova me Zuzana Klementova tom Zuzana Klementova1 Jo © Zuzana Klementova 2015

It was also Rage Against Racism this weekend down at the Custard Factory – mainly musical acts, with chosen poets performing on Saturday night. I had already been booked for Droitwich Festival so didn’t apply. I wasn’t able to go and support the gig as I was at my own, but Rangzeb took some amazing photos and Ddotti Bluebell has commented on how great the night was. I think it is an important cause – so even though I wasn’t there – here is a flavour of the evening;

Thank you to all the poets who came last night to support such a great cause & the poetry was truly thought provoking & emotional. As Rangzeb Rango said it diluted the poison of racism & expressed a special unity of people through art…. Big Up the Word Up! Crew . © Ddotti Bluebell 2015

All excellent poets and performers.

RAVE

Left to Right: Ddotti, Jasmine, Kamil, Antony, Carys, Sammy, Kurly

RAVE 8 Kamil

RAVE 1

rave 6 Kurly

Rave 4 Ddotti

Rave 3 Stephen

RAVE 2 Carys

Rave 7 Jasmine

Rave 5 Sammy

Live Lit at Park’s Café as of Droitwich Festival Arts Week was a fantastic event and I felt privileged to be a part of it.

Live Lit, featured 9 poets and we each had 10 minute performance slots – a great way to practise for the QC Compere Tour on the 10th July (ever closer)! It was a great night of poetry and fun with friends. Performers included;

• Fergus McGonnigall (previous Worcestershire’s poet laureate) & MC
• Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate )
• Jenny Hope
• Math Jones
• Mike Alma
• Bridget & Malcolm Wakeman
• John & Pauline Franks
• Nina Lewis
• Polly Robinson
• Ruth Stacey
• Sarah James (runs the Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza)

A great night organised by Malcolm Wakeman.

Snippets of reviews for the night;

A Fantastic success – well done Fergus, Malcolm and all of the performers. Angela says it was the best so far! – Peter Hawkins
A big thank you to everyone who took part. A most enjoyable evening. Malcolm Wakeman
Lovely evening — will look forward to doing it all again with good friends. Polly Robinson
Start to finish – poetry, music and prose – a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening, in the company of some very special people. Thanks everyone for another Droitwich ‘Special’. Mike Alma
I think we are all looking forward to next year’s already!

Followed by a great meal at a local restaurant where we had plenty of time to chat and laugh – and eat! I love a Poet Social – we don’t organise them nearly enough! I will plan an after party for my future book launch!

Today I am headed out to Digbeth to check out the new venue for Sunday Xpress, at The Edge – Foundation Arts space – which was a magical venue and for the first time performers who are not musicians were really listened to! I much prefer it at this new venue, I tried to support them as much as I was able in the past, usually Sunday is an allocated home/rest day… now though – being at Sunday Xpress makes me feel on top of the world, so I hope to be back soon to share in everyone’s artistic talent! Lots of new faces too, so that’s a bonus for them.

Now we have had a take-away tea (Mr G isn’t coming away with me on the 1st holiday I have in 2 years, so we wanted to do something special. I had hoped to spend the evening together, it is already 9pm and I still have to submit poetry and pack my suitcase. I am very excited about going away – especially during term time – it’s the first time in 17 years I am able to do that!

My week off from blogging will give you time to catch up with all the posts.

But before I go… in other news…

PUBLISHED

Talking of submissions and projects there are two more exciting pieces of news I need to share in this week’s wrap. After my research at the beginning of the week I found a new creative outlet in Visual Verse, they post an artists work and you have an hour to write about it and post your poetry. I love creating this way and can often be found musing over some image waiting for visual verse of my own to appear, the wait is never long. They published my poem, it is a pleasure to have poetry displayed alongside such great company, the chapter is a great read, treat yourself to some coffee time!

http://visualverse.org/submissions/shame-in-the-city/

Here is the link to read the chapter of verse for yourselves, I performed ‘Shame in the City’ last night for the first time, good reactions. We have all been there on one side of the line or the other, I think!

http://visualverse.org/

52 – THE BOOK!

The second exciting piece of news is that the 52 Anthology has made it to press, cannot wait to pick my copy up in Stratford in July. It is £7.99 and will be a great read, guarantee it. This is the result of Jo Bell’s 52 project in 2014. Published by Nine Arches Press, a labour of love which should sell really well. On the back of the hundreds, thousands of people who have been touched by 52, Jo Bell’s recently launched ‘Kith’ is already on it’s 2nd publication run! I have a feeling her last collection ‘Navigation’ had a second run of copies pre-52 as well. It could just be the magic of Jo Bell and the weight in her words of course! Poetry Goddess to many people.

52 the book

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20very%20best%20of%2052.html

Various Authors

Chosen by Jonathan Davidson, with foreword by Jo Bell and Norman Hadley

ISBN: 978-0-9931201-7-6

Price £7.99

Date: 14th July 2015

Format: Paperback

Jo Bell’s 52 project started with a simple idea: Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going. In the 52 weeks that followed, this global workshop group became a phenomenon. Hundreds of poets took up the challenge and their poems swept the board of poetry prizes, publications and personal successes. Thousands of poems were written and shared. This selection by poet Jonathan Davidson offers a taster from the poetry banquet of 52.

“Poetry changes lives, both in the reading and the writing. The 52 project brought together well-established poets with rising names, and generated world-class work. We wrote a poem a week – enjoy reading them, one week at a time.” – Jo Bell, founder of 52.

notebooks

Have a good week everyone and

keep writing x

WENLOCK POETRY FESTIVAL 2015

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I LOVE WENLOCK POETRY FESTIVAL – it is such a great programme and a lovely town too. I dream of a year when I can book in and make a weekend of it. Last year I went alone, on the Sunday and bumped into lots of people I knew. This year there were so many people going that I knew, it was part festival, part reunion.

wenlock poetry festival

The programme as ever was a delight with so much choice. Claire Walker and I spent a while with the decision of which events to book, we had a limited budget as we had to get there and wanted to buy people’s poetry on the day.

There were lots of events I would have loved to attend on the Sunday including workshops, I had half a mind (a silly notion) that after driving to Wenlock and back I would have the energy for Cheltenham Festival the next day. Truth – my Sunday was a day of recovery and had I been at the festival would have probably missed the morning!

wenlock poetry fest

We were about to set off when we heard from our friend Kathy Gee, she’d arrived! We were only about an hour away. We hoped to meet up with her in the morning, but reception and signal are two things that Wenlock is not great for, we managed a quick conversation outside the bookshop, WPF Trish farrell © 2014 Tish Farrell she was in the pottery going to see Kei Miller. A poet I recently discovered at a workshop in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Claire I started out at The Edge (Arts Centre), perused the book stall and bumped into Hannah Lowe, who was an inspiration to Claire when she started writing, great meeting your heroes in the first half hour.

We dipped into the poetry film and then decided to walk down to the town.

We bumped into Mogs (who had come 2nd in the Wenlock Poetry Slam the night before, the winner this year was Paul Francis). We saw Jo Bell, Jean Atkin and Emma Watkinson, love the fact you just see poets walking about on the streets of Wenlock.

We went to George and Dragon for lunch and the open mic Poems & Pints hosted by Mark Niel. I read two poems, the first one competing with two noisy dogs barking at each other. Tough crowd. I wasn’t stopped in the street this year but I thoroughly enjoyed the event and listening to all the poetry.

WPF G G Trish Farrell

© 2014 Tish Farrell

After this we walked up to the Pottery for our first ticketed event – 52.

Jo Bell

For the 52 weeks of 2014, Jo Bell ran online poetry group 52 under the banner “Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going.” A unique brand of collective critical encouragement generated the largest workshopping group in the world. The resulting community has claimed prizes and publications ranging from Bridport to the Rialto, from the Charles Causley prize to valued fellowships and PhD places.

Join some of the 52ers including organisers Jo Bell and Norman Hadley for a celebratory reading, and to hear work from a new anthology published by our publisher in residence, Nine Arches Press.

Norman Hadley

https://fiftytwopoetry.wordpress.com/

I was not prepared for how emotional reuniting with everyone was let alone the event itself – and of course the aftermath of packs of 52ers let loose on Wenlock once more.

52 wen© 2015 Rachael Clyne 

It was the best party atmosphere ever. Even greater than the initial impact of Stratford Poetry Festival 2014, where we were strangers. We all piled into the Pottery, Norman Hadley (Head Boy) Master of Ceremonies and he did such a grand job, he got through all the names in the hat – those of us who had read last year in Stratford and those who hadn’t (who went first of course)! It was emotional.

52 wen 2© 2015 Rachael Clyne 

He made Jo Bell get up and speak at the end too.

52 jo Jo Bell © 2015 Norman Hadley 

52 and the extended prompts of Norman has recently come to an end and I think we all feel it a bit. Thank goodness for Hannah Linden who founded a group for us to continue sharing our successes and the community.

After the event a bunch of us 52ers went to the Poetry Café and I popped in to see Deborah Alma, The Emergency Poet, on the way, to pick up a prescription to draw me to the ocean.

 © 2014 Writing West Midlands

© 2014 Writing West Midlands

www.emergencypoet.com  EP dot com

 In the Poetry Café I saw Jean Atkin, Poet in Residence at the festival and bought a much sought after copy of Luck’s Weight. The book of poems alongside Andrew Fusek Peters which grew out of her Acton Scott Farm residency 2014.

Then it was back to  The Edge for the rest of our events.

Jonathan Edwards – Costa Poetry Prize Winner– his event was great. I am inspired that, like me, he is a teacher too.

The opportunity to hear the Costa Poetry Prize winner for 2014 Jonathan Edwards reading from his prize winning debut collection ‘My Family and other Superheroes’, and talking to Anna Dreda about his Costa win.

jonathan-edwards-book jonathan-edwards-pic-370x278

Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren) won the Costa Poetry Award 2014 and was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014. He won the Terry Hetherington Award for young Welsh writers in 2010, received a Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary in 2011, and in 2012 won prizes in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition and the Basil Bunting Award. He won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Competition in 2014. His work has appeared in a wide range of magazines, including Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review and The North.

Jo Bell and Robert Peake with Nine Arches Press launching their new collections

We warmly welcome The Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, described by Dame Carol Ann Duffy as “one of the most exciting poets writing today,” alongside the illuminating and sharp-minded Robert Peake to Wenlock for 2015. 

We are thrilled to announce that both Jo and Robert will be launching their new collections at this year’s festival: 
Kith

‘Kith’ by Jo Bell is her  long-awaited second collection spanning love, sex, boats and friendship and yet so much more, as these bold and generous poems interweave bigger questions of place, identity and community and what these mean to us, here and now. Jo Bell joins us to launch her long-awaited new collection, Kith. Her work is sharp, joyous, precise and plain. As the Poetry Society’s Canal Laureate she covers the industrial waterfront, but is often diverted for a roll in the hay. These poems celebrate our fellow-travellers, honouring deep friendships, one-night stands and the ongoing pursuit of home. “MacCaig meets Bukowski – on the towpath.” 

Robert Peake The Knowledge
‘The Knowledge’ by Robert Peake is a stunning a collection of stirring and delicately attuned poems that not only roam but actively seek – travelling to all manner of places but also moving through time, taking leaps of faith or journeys into memory and sensation.

A wonderful start to your festival evening!

Introduced by Jonathan Davidson with Jane Commane, Nine Arches Press

It was great to finally get my hands on a copy of Kith and to speak with Jo, although I missed the evening catch up over Curry as I was at another event. I will make sure we get to speak at Stratford! It was great to meet Robert, the man behind the Transatlantic Poetry sessions I have enjoyed this year.

and Hollie McNish to finish the night off. Hollie McNish

This April, the extremely talented Hollie McNish will be hitting the road once again, after her first UK tour in October 2014 sold out across the country. She has now added a further 12 dates, including Wenlock. The gig will be an hour of pure unadulterated poetry, spanning two albums and one book, to be released March 2015. A true festival gem!

Hollie is a UK poet who straddles the boundaries between the literary, poetic and pop scenes. She has garnered titles like “chick of the week” (MTV), “internet sensation” (Best Daily)” , “really, really amazing” (Davina McCall) and poet Benjamin Zephaniah stated “I can’t take my ears off her”. Her poem “Embarrassed” was tweeted to fans by renowned singer Pink. Her album Versus was released in October 2014, recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London.

It was a bonus to see a set from Emma Purshouse too.

wenlock 2015

Other highlights included buying MyFanwy Fox’s collection and falling over at the feet of Liz Berry, bless her. Mostly, discovering a festival that doesn’t just repeat the success of the previous year, but builds on it.

I had a great Poetry Day and I look forward to next year!

LINKS:
https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/a-great-day-at-wenlock-poetry-festival/

http://www.wenlockpoetryfestival.org/