Category Archives: Performance Poetry

Cheltenham & Big White Shed Brum

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Photo by Shane on Pexels.com

So I spent 4 days trying to get my feet back on the ground after flying back from a short hop to Australia (no Kangaroo pun intended)… just an attempt to explain why the jet lag hit as it did.

Thursday was the first time I started to feel my body had caught up with me back on home-soil. The first day it didn’t feel as if I was wading through treacle and the first morning I woke up on GMT after a full night’s sleep. Which was a stroke of luck as I had arranged to meet up with Jennie Farley in Cheltenham!

I spent 3 hours at the desk completing much awaited admin tasks. The whole time I felt apprehensive about the big drive, (having not driven for the best part of 4 weeks I was a little nervous), but I made it.

We had a wonderful catch up, a divine Italian lunch out and put in some desk time on her new website as well as discussing Bohemian Voices (which I missed due to Stanza) and her Book Launch in December for her latest collection Hex. Which is already available.

If you wish to read some sample poems from the collection or order your own copy, you can do so here http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/jennie-farley-hex/4594369593

HEX

“Jennie Farley’s poems take the familiar as a point of departure, mixing the real with the surreal, the everyday with the imaginary. In ‘Hex’ Farley encounters new truths by seeking out fresh perspectives. This is a thought-provoking and engaging collection that invites the reader to accompany the poet on her journey.”

Matthew Stewart

“In ‘Hex’ Jennie Farley skilfully stitches, unstitches and re-attaches mythology, folklore and her own experiences. These tales are barbaric and bewitching in equal measure, constantly asking the reader to question our own identities and the masks we wear.”

Stephen Daniels 

“These poems tread a high wire between magic and fantasy. Jennie Farley’s exploration of myth and biblical references focus on undercurrent and subtext in unexpected and glorious ways with a storytelling quality of a world in slant. A place you will enter and never want to leave. There is more than a sprinkling of magic in this collection.”

Nina Lewis


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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

In the evening there was an event in The Victoria, Birmingham (the old home of Hit the Ode), which I really wanted to get to. I was running on empty by the time I got home (all our local motorway networks are undergoing major works and some speed restrictions drop as low as 30 mph, which is causing tailbacks and queues and adding at least half an hour to otherwise straightforward journeys). I kept juggling with going and staying in and so by the time I felt decisive I had already missed several trains into the city. The roads I had to take to the outer city line were closed and after following diversions I missed another train. I eventually made it to the venue just in time for the start which meant whizzing around hugging everyone at double speed!

Big White Shed Brum featured Poets from the West & East Midlands – Birmingham, Nottingham & Derby.big white shed

Casey Bailey is a poet, author, writer, spoken word performer, rapper, song writer and a secondary school senior leader from Birmingham. He runs Bailey’s Rap and Poetry (BRAP), and through this initiative has performed and spoken at events in the UK, as well as run workshops in rap, poetry, music and song writing.

Having performed at multiple TEDx Events, his first short collection of poetry ‘Waiting at Bloomsbury Park’ was published in July 2017, Casey has been described as a ‘lyrical and literal poet, a conscious Hip Hop artist and a thoughtful and reflective writer’. He provides social commentary and analysis through his poetry, lyrics and articles. Casey is most comfortable when he is consciously expressing his thoughts and feelings, with the hope that they will go on to have an impact on the thoughts and feelings of others.

And he made the list for 30 Under 30 and was a finalist in the BBC Slam this summer.

https://baileysrapandpoetry.com/

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Anne Holloway is a writer and performer from Nottingham. Her poetry collection There Are No Photographs has been described as ‘beautiful, ugly and important,’ and ‘a book that contains the growth and grit of life with great beauty’. She started her career as co-director of Mouthy Poets and is founder and editor at Big White Shed – an enabling organisation and independent press which supports the growth and development of artistic talent. She hosts and curates poetry events and manages That Welsh Woman of Slam Cabaret fame.
www.anneholloway.co.uk ​www.bigwhiteshed.co.uk​ fb: @bigwhiteshed

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Leanne Moden is a poet from Nottingham. She performs at events across the UK and around Europe, including recent sets at Prima Vista Festival in Estonia, Día Mundial de la Poesía in Spain and the BBC Slam at Edinburgh Fringe. Leanne has also performed at WOMAD, TEDx UCL, the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and Bestival on the Isle of Wight. She is currently Poet in Residence at the National Justice Museum, and she is working on her first full-length poetry show, which she hopes to take to on tour in 2019. Check out https://www.leannemoden.com/ for more details.

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Jamie Thrasivoulou is a writer, poet, and educator from Derby. His collection ‘The Best Of A Bad Situation’ was published by Silhouette Press in 2017. In the past he’s been commissioned by: Apples and Snakes, the Heritage lottery, and the award-winning social photographer Jim Mortram. His music project ‘Bloque Capitals’ were one of the winners of the Culture Matters Bread & Roses 2018 award for Spoken Word & Musical collaboration, the work also appeared on BBC Introducing. He is also the joint-host of Word Wise and The Derby Poetry Festival. Jamie’s live show is both engaging and energetic, and has seen him perform all over the UK including: Outspoken @The 100 Club, The London Poetry Book Fair, Verve Poetry Festival, The Everyman Theatre, and The Other Place, Royal Shakespeare venue. His next pamphlet will be published in 2019 through Burning Eye Books.
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^ Photo Credit: Jenny Harper Photography
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In addition to the main acts there were open mics and the night was split into 3 sections. I always like a double interval because one is never enough time to get to see everyone and grab drinks etc.

Big White Shed 1The open mic was hot, featuring poets who are Headliners and newcomers to writing and the mic. Always love this combination.

Big W Shed 2The night was MCed by Casey Bailey, fresh from Edinburgh Fringe and the BBC Slam Finals (which this year was won by Jess Green). He was the perfect host, lively, fully charged and charming.

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There was a great community spirit surging through the venue. It was a cracking evening and I was happy ‘GO’ had won my mental tennis rally!

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I even managed to grab a reserve slot (despite my adventurous travel), I shared two of my Australian Workshop poems – one from Maddie Godfrey’s workshop and the other from Sanna Peden’s. Both of which are raw with passion and rather sensual pieces.

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This was my first UK event and conversations (and my heart) were still very much Australia focused. Even the hand driers in the Ladies sang that tune!

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It was a fabulous night and I look forward to future events like these.

On a personal note it was great to be back in Birmingham. Last year was very Worcestershire focused and with some full-time work as well as working with over 200 poets on about 20 projects my time was limited. I hope to travel more widely (again) in future. Since visiting WA the UK feels small enough for me to be able to manage this.

 

When You Miss Something BIG!

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On Friday night I had hoped to make it to Birmingham Waterstones for the Verve Poetry Press Book Launch of Leon Priestnall and Nafeesa Hamid’s Debut collections.

Sadly I was up to my eyeballs with assessment data/report writing and test marking at work and by the time 6 PM arrived I was asleep on the settee. I have heard it was an incredible night and I was looking forward to reconnecting with the city and seeing these two perform.

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Some photos from the evening.

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BUY A COPY

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Leon Priestnall is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. In his work, he isn’t setting himself up as any kind of answer – he is as wrong as he is right, behaves badly as often as correctly. Often too confused to be able to move – beyond lighting another cigarette, taking another drink, running for the door – or speak. Often trapped inside the circle of his thoughts, which are a riot of possibilities and recriminations, what-ifs and why-nots.

© Verve Poetry Press

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BUY A COPY

Learning that your mind and body have been taken hostage is one thing. Learning how to take them back is another. What if those that are returned are different to the ones that were lost?

Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming.

© Verve Poetry Press

I am sure they will both be busy on the circuit promoting these fine collections, I am still not forgiving myself for missing the launch. I am sure I will, eventually.

If you ever get a chance to see either of them perform grasp it with both hands and be ready to stomp your feet!

WLF 2018 The 42 Festival Special

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42

42 is a regular monthly feature of the Worcester calendar, featuring prose, poetry and everything between. Currently run by Polly Stretton and hosted by her and a range of Guest MCs, it is normally held on the last Wednesday of the month at Drummonds.

The festival special last year was one of the most popular nights – featuring The Antipoet. They are back again for 2018 and we are delighted.

The theme for open mic sets was Bewitched Worcestershire Inn and despite a tiny bit of research after last night’s event at the Museum, I did not have a chance to pen a poem in advance. So after a whistle stop agenda between work and the gig I managed some scribbles. One of the scribbles turned out okay.


The Antipoet performance was stupendous (as expected)! They entertained us for over an hour and they were also there for the Launch of their book! Yes, a BOOK this year rather than an album. A book with 2 FREE DVDs.

If you have never caught their show, I urge you to do so – they are phenomenal!

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© Damon Lord

More photos to follow.

DOES MY BASS LOOK BIG IN THIS?

C:/Users/HP/Documents/Writing Projects/Black Pear/Does My Bass/D The story of the first ten years of The Antipoet, told in the inimitable style of Paul Eccentric. Published by Black Pear Press.

http://www.theantipoet.co.uk/


The 2nd half was packed with 42 performances (as in ’42’ the night and not forty-two performances)! Stories and poems based on the theme and beyond.

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There were a couple more performers – more photos coming soon!

It was a superb night. Thoroughly 42!

 

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018 Book Your Tickets NOW!

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

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

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

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


Sunday 10th 

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Monday 11th 

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

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Ash Dickinson Workshop & Licensed to Rhyme

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The perfect way to start any week is a Poetry Workshop and when that workshop is with Ash Dickinson, you know you have backed a winner!

I first met Ash back in April 2014 (I had to look that up), we were talking on Monday night about a particular gig in the Autumn of that year and I knew that was the 2nd time I caught his act but couldn’t remember when I actually first discovered his work. I have been a fan ever since of his surreal and sincere voice.

Having missed the opportunity to do a workshop in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme and because I had been at work all day, it was literally just down the road in the next village!

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So my poetry week started on a high! It was a fantastic workshop, a great group of poets (all of whom I knew) and what’s more – all of us managed to write poems, including Ash!

We worked from many lists of prompts (which leaves us with plenty to get stuck into post-workshop). Ash used various forms, including one new to all of us. I wrote my 2nd, 3rd and 4th ever Clerihew! I still feel wary of the poetry produced  but the genre falls into nonsensical as a technique so those question marks or perhaps exclamation marks appearing from my ears are allowed.

It was great to hear everyone’s responses to the prompts and some were even brave enough to share their raw work (including Ash) in their L2R sets later in the evening.

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Licensed to Rhyme, is always a great night, the brainchild of Maggie Doyle & Spoz. I haven’t been available to get to one for a while so I was looking forward to spending a sunny evening in Cafe Morso enjoying words.

Charley Barnes had the Guest Spot, Brenda Read-Brown tested new material, the workshop poets all had open mics and Ash Headlined.

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It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week. If people could just pop round to my lounge every Monday and recreate this I could start every Tuesday on a high! (A new idea awakens.)

Thanks Ash, for poems that definitely wouldn’t now be existence if it wasn’t for your workshop.

Discover his world for yourself here.

https://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/slinky-espadrilles-by-ash-dickinson

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https://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/strange-keys

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RELATED LINKS:

http://ashdickinson.com/

https://burningeyebooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/guest-blog-ash-dickinson-from-slinky-to-strange/

Mighty Force – Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists!

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I have had the pleasure of knowing this lot since 2014/15. Back in 2016 Emma Purshouse, Steve Pottinger and Dave Pitt banded together to form Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists, a year later their show was created.

It premiered at the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton in April 2017 before they toured around the country and completed a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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“This isn’t just poetry, it’s storytelling, and most importantly it’s theatre. Glorious theatre, framed in a manner which gives space for the work to shine but keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout.” – Neil Reading, Director of Arena Theatre.

“Excellently framed, excellently delivered. The right amount of peaks, troughs, and misty-eyed bits.” – Matt Panesh, Artistic Director, Edinburgh Free Fringe.
“Chaucer with scratchcards.” – Jimmy Andrex, poet.

Now these three poets are industrious so alongside their show they created Yes We Cant a night of Spoken Word at Pretty Bricks in Walsall,  a pub that does indeed have pretty bricks. 34b10f6f8294900e524a14bf8ffdc85c

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I was fortunate enough to make their opening night back in June, Jonny Fluffypunk and Paul Francis headlined and it was fabulous!

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Fast forward almost a year and this monthly event is still going strong.

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And earlier this year the Wolverhampton Poetry collective announced a new project to raise the profile of poetry in and of the Black Country. They managed to obtain an Arts Council grant which enabled them to roll out a whole programme and get other local artists involved. The Black Country Broadsheet was produced which includes commissioned poems, videos have been made and professional photo shoots have been enjoyed.


CASEY BAILEY • BONES • JEREMY GRANT • R.M. FRANCIS
MOGS • RICK SANDERS • MARIANNE BURGESS

are the other poets commissioned for the project (see Rick, you got your commission, no more writing about fake ones).

 

Poet Steve Pottinger said: ‘This project is all about taking poetry to people who don’t think they like it, who don’t know it’s being written and performed in pubs and clubs around them, and who may never have attended or enjoyed a live event.

So, if you’ve got friends who you think might be interested, please tell them about it. We’re doing everything we can to show them the best local, contemporary performance poetry.’

Black Country Artsfoundry © 2018

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The project showcases the poets across 5 free events and has done just what they hoped it would. New poets have been found, some bravely taking to the mic for the first time (and blowing us out of the water!) and new to poetry people have decided it is not a bad night out after all.

  • Dudley: 9 April, Cafe Grande, 7pm – Jeremy Grant, Rick Sanders aka Willis the Poet, Marianne Burgess, Dave Pitt
  • Walsall: 16 April, The Pretty Bricks, 7pm – Emma Purshouse, R.M. Francis, Mogs, Bones
  • Great Bridge: 19 April, Great Bridge Library, 7pm – Steve Pottinger, Emma Purshouse, Jeremy Grant, Rick Sanders aka Willis the Poet
  • Stourbridge: 9 May, Claptrap, 7pm – R.M. Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger, Casey Bailey
  • Wolverhampton: 15 May, The Lighthouse, 7pm – Bones, Casey Bailey, Marianne Burgess, Dave Pitt

Due to a hectic work schedule, editing, writing and NaPoWriMo (I can hear Dave Pitt chuckling), I was not able to make the earlier dates. But watched as the internet steamed away on adrenaline filled reviews and knew that I had to catch this wave.

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So Stourbridge was penned in the diary and despite being truly creamed by work, I went! They were all in a similar state having lived the highlights of Swindon the night before at Oooh Beehive.

beehive Despite this, energy was not lacking as Dave MCed us through an incredible night of words.

I have not made a PTS for some months and it was great to be back in this wonderful venue, sitting next to Rob who was enjoying a night off from jumping up and down on stage and instead was able to enjoy the evening.

Everyone performed phenomenally well and it was great to see/hear new talent too.

Mogs performed a brilliantly funny set as always, treating us to some of the best from his book of children’s poetry. pypwl-front-cover

It was great to catch a whole set from R.M. Francis, thoroughly enjoyed and I realised it had been a while since I experienced Rob’s poetry back to back, good to hear him in full flow again.

Steve Pottinger performed some of my favourite recent poems of his, I love his train journey to Mars, no spoilers… okay, they terminate in Wolves…

Casey Bailey was his usual, incredible self. Playing his adopted by Wednesbury card to pacify the Brummie in the room situation and celebrated his latest collection ‘Adjusted’.

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https://caseybailey.bigcartel.com/

It was an incredible night and I am so glad Claire Walker sent a message saying she was going because it has been ages (or at least feels that way) since we caught up and was lovely sharing such a special night with friends. Plus Claire and I are booking some special work of our own in, we hope before the summer. I shared 3 of my 30 NaPo poems and a t-shirt quip. Shame I wasn’t wearing a poetry t-shirt, that would have won battle of the bands for sure!

Great to catch up with a room full of poetry friends and to be back in the Black Country, to see first hand one of the 5 events in this programme and to be able to tell them what an epic group of poets they are on feedback forms (well, if you do go and get Arts Council funding). I may not have written the word epic but I said some very pleasant things that I know someone else magpied (stole) for their feedback form.

If you can, catch the next one on the 15th May, you will NOT be disappointed!

And if you want to catch their original show head over to Stoke-on-Trent.

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February Review 2018

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Week 1: 

I started the month with my editing hat on. Submissions closed for Contour (digital WPL magazine), the 2nd Issue – ‘Love’, scheduled for release 4 months after the 1st Issue ‘Place’. My plan was to have 3 to 4 magazines during my tenure. I will successfully manage that, there is a Special Edition coming in April for the ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ Project and then in June on the day I hang up my Laureate crown and watch the new Laureateship launch, I will release the final issue.

It has been a steep and brilliant learning curve and a real pleasure. It has been a great opportunity to discover talented poets on a National and International level too.

Whatever else I think, I can rest soundly knowing that I promoted poetry and offered abundant opportunities for writing during my year. I have 3 months (I like to say a quarter of a year because it sounds longer) left, but already the competition is open to find the next Laureate and the feelings of being bereft are already settling. I shall find ways of dealing with this. Such as embarking on International Poetry Adventures and writing my first collection. But I am sure it will feel a little strange.

I also spent an incredible amount of time on the ATOTC project, which again has been a huge bite to chew, but I have loved every minute. It has certainly taught me a thing or two. The Response poems are coming in and it is wonderful to read the interpretations of the Call poems. I am slightly worried that the whole project may total over 200 pages… certainly enough reading material to keep you busy on a rainy day!

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ATOTC is my main WPL project and it has certainly been the biggest. I am incredibly excited by the next stages of the project and the plans I have for it beyond that. It is going to be magnificent!

I edited some poems which had been waiting patiently in the wings and finally started working on my own response poem for ATOTC. I wanted to get it cast to paper before the weekend as I have a chance to edit it.

Things are intentionally quiet on the performance front with most of my attention set for Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival in Birmingham, mid-February. Other than this I am busy with desk tasks and workshop preparation.

This week I prepared for a meeting for a Gifted and Talented Workshop I am doing, I am excited as it involves multiple local schools.

I also prepared for my final session/workshop at Rugby Library as the Reader in Residence.

I attended an editing group at the weekend where my ATOTC was fine tuned and is now a strong pastiche of Linda Warren’s poem. Look out for the Special Edition Contour in April to read our Call & Response poems.

I took a booking for National Poetry Day. (4th Oct.) after which I will be heading off to Swindon Poetry Festival.

 

Week 2

A very busy start to the week editing Issue 2 of Contour Magazine, working out the running order and formatting. It took an inane amount of time (roughly 3 days), lots of difficulties on the technical side of desktop publishing – but the results were worth it.

 

I had a meeting regarding school workshops booked for March, which was fabulous. I am very excited about this workshop.

bromsgrove school theatre Andrew Haines © 2017

The following day I drove to Rugby Library for my final Reader in Residence workshop. It was a small group but a wonderful morning and those in attendance enjoyed it.

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I am writing a Guest Blog Review for the library and will link it back to AWF. My Residency finishes in March and I hoping for one last trip to the library for something special, more on that soon.

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I planned my Suffragette Workshop for Saturday at The Hive, started work organising the poetry events for the summer ArtsFest in Droitwich, sent emails to successful contributors of Contour and took a booking for Brum Stanza.

I also started prep for Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival (15-18th Feb.). This year I am the Official Festival Blogger, last year I blogged about most of the events and attended pretty much the entire festival (which is no mean feat – with a packed 2 day weekend programme, workshops and events on the preceding evenings), worth the exhaustion though and I also wrote a full review for Sabotage Reviews. This year, I have arranged to write the review for them again and have booked my workshops (one of which I won by coming 2nd in the Haiku Slam at Grizzly Pear) and have my new Kindle Bluetooth Keyboard Case (Christmas present) all ready. Look out for lots of updates, I shall be sharing from the Verve official site.

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Thursday I went to SpeakEasy which was Headlined by the wonderful Jenna Clake and I enjoyed her set from Fortune Cookie, which won the 2016 Melita Hume Prize for Poetry . It was a vibrant evening of poetry and even though I was shattered, I had a great night. I shared a couple of city poems and it was good to catch up with Jenna before Verve.

JENNA SE Watch out for an Interview with Jenna Clake in the Contour Issue 4 (June).

You can buy a copy of this award winning debut collection published by Eyewear here.

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Friday it snowed (which is as exciting as anything writing related), I was working in a school on the hills and was slightly concerned about getting home, but it had melted by then!

I also had Stanza where I took my Contour Love Poem for some editing treatment, it was a lovely evening, filled with poetry and critique. It was good to reconnect, I missed our December meeting due to being too tired after work and January from ill health. It was good to be back. Also a new exciting opportunity was discussed.

Saturday was a busy writing day, I had my WWM group in the morning, who used the Royal Society of Photography Science exhibition to inspire Science Fiction writing.

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This was followed by my Suffragette Workshop in The Hive, Worcester. The workshop was attended by 11 people and I was happy to see a mix of friends, strangers & people who have followed my WPL projects online. It was an informal, whistle stop creative session of just an hour (which worked particularly well for those who left partners in the Hive’s cafe). It was fun and I have already started to receive work for the anthology.

The exhibition runs until 23rd February and can be found on Level 2.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/open-submission-suffragette-poetry-exhibition-workshop-the-hive/

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Mr G. and I went to see Cloudbusting (Kate Bush Tribute band) again, the 4th time I think, this time they had a full stage with Media show, which we had not seen before! The next day I was busy editing Contour Magazine – YES! For the WHOLE day!

 

Week 3

My first full writing day in over 2 weeks and I planned a whole list of writing tasks (none of which were actual writing)… however, I spent another whole day on the magazine. It was finally live by the evening.

With a reach of over 600 readers already (in less than 24 hours). Issue 2 has a fine collection of love poetry, a load of Interviews with Pete The Temp, Jeff Cottrill, Amy Rainbow and Sharon Carr and a list of Top Poems voted by the public and is well worth a read.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/contour-issue-2-love/

Please share the link.

Contour Issue 2

I also booked my flights to Australia – where I am an International Guest Poet at the Festival in Perth (August), this made it very real! I also shared this news, which I have been sitting on since November.

I shared the next stage of the Suffragettes Poetry Project with workshop attendees and attended a Worcester LitFest Committee Meeting. There have been many changes to the team since I took up the Poet Laureate post, it was an agenda packed evening. It also helped me finalise plans for World Poetry Day (21st March) my official Laureate remit event. It should be great.

I have since worked on publicity and marketing but as ever with organisation, need to wait for one confirmation before I can go live!

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I have been busy working through Response Poems (ATOTC), dreading the proofing stage with over 40 poets… but we have a good stock of coffee and I plan to use Half Term to get the majority ready.

I received my copy of mind anth a wonderful book, brainchild of Isabelle Kenyon. I have yet to read it in full. I have dipped in. A great collection of poems and funds raised with be donated to MIND – Mental Health Charity. I will be writing a full blog post soon to promote this project.

I had my BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio Interview with Tammy Gooding and this month it was a slightly extended recording due to us discussing love poetry and the work of Pablo Neruda! It was fun and I shared the love poem recently published in Contour.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p05vtpj5

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All performers confirmed World Poetry Day & marketing & promotion was set to GO!

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The deadline for ATOTC response poetry was 15th February & knowing what a huge undertaking it is the proof copies are already leaving my inbox… about 10% proofed & approved in 2 days.

I finished my 3rd book endorsement and am very excited to read a bound copy of this collection soon.

And then there was Verve!

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Verve Poetry Festival (with links to my official blogs)

I spent 5 glorious hours in Waterstones, 15th Feb. then 6 hours writing & editing the official blog reviews.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/verve-ready/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/verve-day-1/

After very few hours sleep I was back at the Festival on Friday night

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/verve-day-2-friday-16th/

And then spent my entire weekend there.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/verve-day-3-saturday-17th-am/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/verve-day-3-saturday-17th-pm/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/verve-day-4-sunday-18th/

Since this wonderful festival full of verve… I have been busy writing the official blog reviews which are being drip fed onto the official blog.

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Read more of them here

Week 4 

Started with jet lag, which is the only way to describe the post festival haze of Verve. Wise to this, having attended the full programme last year too – I made sure the diary was empty and the bed was full! I slept, I ate my first meal for 5 days and I hit the desk.

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Writing Verve Reviews, sending proofs for ATOTC, working on bids, sent promo for an event I am part of at the end of end of April, Bohemian Voices organised by Steve Soden and slept some more!

Fortunately it was half term this week so I didn’t have to juggle work into the equation. I mainly worked on proof copy for ATOTC Special Edition Contour magazine and had meetings.

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Starting with Room 204, one of the main attractions is the 1 to 1 mentoring with Jonathan Davidson. It was a productive and useful meeting and I have come away with a page of tasks to incorporate into my work and gold-dust that I needed to acknowledge.

I met with Carolyn Baldwin at the Jinney Ring to finalise the exhibition of our sculpture trail poems from the workshop in September. The poems will be on display in the restaurant for the whole of April. Wonderful news AND even better news for me I have secured future Sculpture Trail workshops. So there will be a new one in September! Carolyn also sent me home with a generous portion of cake! Always a bonus – perfect meeting requirements I would suggest.

A New Design (5)

On Thursday I met with Stephen Evans, one of the DAN artists involved in the Hanbury Hall event. My poem has been displayed alongside his artwork in exhibitions in January and now this month too, so far it has been part of Maltstones Exhibition, an exhibition in the Library and now in Parks Cafe.

Stephen showed me a family album from WW2 at the reading event for Hanbury Hall Poets back in November. I used it as primary source inspiration and managed to write 4 poems or so but it is a precious object and I feel much happier now he has it back.

Thursday Night I went to support Claire Walker who was headlining at The Caffe Grande Slam in Dudley. Ian Glass and I found ourselves unwittingly signed up for the slam. I don’t Slam.

It was a fun night and a great little cafe to be in on a cold night. Ian smashed the slam and won! He goes back in April to perform a 10 minute set.

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He also won the Xylophone of Mirth, but as he had driven us all to Dudley he wasn’t able to play it all the way home!

Jean Atkin was facilitating a workshop at the Bishop Castle Artsfest that I had hoped to attend, but our boiler is broken and I had to be home for the engineer. I spent most of the day at the desk writing for Verve, the boiler is still broken.

On Saturday I had a workshop with Angela France, it was a great session and I managed at least one poem and have a page of potential other poems.

On Sunday, whilst writing a poem for a Festival Anthology (more on this soon), I unearthed another line of writing I want to pursue, I have 3 pages of notes to return to at a quieter time (perhaps 2019). The exciting element is they balance something I am already working on.

The Extra Days

On Monday (after turning up for work and discovering I was a day early) I went home and wrote copy for a Worcester News Article promoting the Poet Laureate competition. Jess Charles jumped on it and it was live by the afternoon.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/3769/

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I also worked on my first ever Grants application and booked a workshop in May.

Tuesday work was cancelled, it started to snow (we have no working boiler) and I spent 14 hours completing my application. 14 hours. A steep learning curve – on evaluation I will give myself a month to complete the forms next time!

I took on a temporary teaching position for a fortnight (just in time for World Book Day) and drove in the snow! I went to see the Royal Ballet Live Screening of The Winter’s Tale (one of my favourite Shakespeare plays), a present from Mr. G’s mum for Christmas. It was amazing!

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And a special way to end the month.

 

 

 

Verve Day 3 Saturday 17th (PM)

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Stablemates is the brainchild of Jill Abram. These nights usually take place in London, but she has brought poets to Ledbury Festival from Peepal Tree

FullSizeRender-300x161 Ledbury Poetry Festival ©2018 with Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha and Seni Seneviratne and Waterstones, (Oct. 2017) with Henry Normal, Rosie Garland and Jackie Hagan of Flapjack Press… Flapjack-SM-pic

Jill brought Stablemates to Verve.

Jill leads conversation with each poet in turn and then they do a 15 minute set. Verve saw poets from Offord Road Press: with Martha Sprackland, James Brookes and Bobby Parker.

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Apart from July, August & December the Stablemates reading series takes place at The Poetry Cafe (22 Betterton St, London, WC2H 9BX) on the fourth Thursday of the month. Do go and check it out.

 

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Next came The Poetry Assembly with Jane Commane, the much awaited book launch of Assembly Lines.

A fantastic event, certainly a festival highlight!

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Bloodaxe Books ©2018

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With readings from Romalyn Ante, Roz Goddard, Liz Berry and Matt Black.

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And a book signing WITH cake!

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Introductions to Jane’s Launch by David Morley.

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The first evening event brought the Poetry Headline of three award winning poets… the wonders of Pascale Petit, Hannah Lowe and Sandeep Parmar, introduced by Gregory Leadbetter. A thoroughly breathtaking event. Loved the poetry and broke my book budget after spending a long time stroking the covers!

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Louise Palfreyman ©2018

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Day 3 finished with Outspoken Press Showcase, back for another Verve after their success last year, one of the biggest events audience talked about in 2017 and all of us in Workshops felt we had truly missed out. Back with words and spirit, introduced by Joelle Taylor the always amazing: Anthony Anaxagorou, Sabrina Mahfouz, Raymond Antrobus, Bridget Minamore and Ollie O’Neill as well as a set from Joelle.

 

An incredible way to finish a night/day of poetry.

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Verve Day 3 Saturday 17th (AM)

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I will link to the official review/blog posts over on the Verve website as soon as they are live. For now, here are some thoughts and LOTS of harvested photos. Verve © 2018 unless otherwise credited.

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^^^ This one is actually from 2017 – but demonstrates how I felt energy wise for most of the morning, on just 4 hours sleep…

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Another wild day at Verve Poetry Festival, an action packed programme and a FULL DAY of poetry. Fortunately, having survived the 4 day run of almost every event last year – this year I was prepared (Trail Mix, seat cushion, ballet pumps, a fresh t-shirt etc.), having said that, I stayed up far too late Friday night writing blog posts and overslept!

This meant I missed Cynthia Miller’s Poetry Breakfast and quite possibly some of the most creative conversations to be had about poetry.

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Plus a bit of food (it was 4 days before I had a proper meal)! I did manage to get from bed to the train station in record time and caught the tail end of the event (there was still half an hour of it, but today was a day of Workshops).

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PeyPey © 2018

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Workshop with Karen McCarthy Woolf to start the day – yes please! I won this workshop as a prize for coming 2nd in the Haiku Poetry Slam at Grizzly Pear in December. An amazing event, a fabulous prize and a good way to start the day. The forms she covered were ones I knew (but with a tired brain this was fortunate), her workshop got my mind rolling and resulted in a few works in progress. I was already inspired by the reading from the night before. I just need to book myself some writing time… may use that 20 hour lay over in the summer!

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Bookgig.com © 2018

Karen McCarthy Woolf, Sasha Dugdale & Mir Mahfuz Ali.

The City Poems Book Launch clashed with the Workshop, but I caught the very end of it. A great anthology.

 

The Verve Press had a fair amount of exciting announcements this weekend including up and coming collections. The mystery of Casey Bailey’s next publisher – solved!

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Verve Poetry Press News

From here I hit Level 6 (inner sanctum) for my 2nd workshop with Sasha Dugdale. I thoroughly enjoyed her set the night before. Her workshop looked at Memorial and writing poems for/to our unsung heroes.

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For the first time in ages I found myself unable to complete a poem in the workshop, but do have a skeleton of an idea. I was mightily impressed with the workshop poetry read, there were some highly acclaimed poets in our group.

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Offord Road Books  © 2018

By the afternoon, after such a busy morning (mentally), I felt exhausted but I went straight back to the main stage and snuck in on Stablemates Offord Road Books with Jill Abram.

 

Verve Day 2 Friday 16th

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

Another incredible evening in Waterstones. I am as excited as ever seeing National poetry friends making their way to the city. It is going to be a great weekend! Although the flip-side of that is being invited to go and socialise when you were intending on staying for the whole night of Verve. I needed to be able to split myself into 4 versions of me this evening.

There will be time for food come Monday, for the next few days poetry is my breakfast, dinner and tea!

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I will share the link to the official blog once it is live, in the meantime here are some soundbites from me and harvested material from those in possession of better phones!

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Verve Team © 2018

Tonight started with Karen McCarthy Woolf, Sasha Dugdale and Mir Mahfuz Ali talking to Jo Bell and sharing poetry from their collections. A moving experience.

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

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Louise Palfreyman © 2018
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Hannah Swings © 2018

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Louise Palfreyman © 2018

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Book signings.

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Tonight’s addition was a sweet shop! This is Nellie setting up.


Then after a short break/book signing came the Dead or Alive Slam produced by Bohdan Piasecki and hosted by Amerah Saleh.

Two poetic worlds will collide at Dead or Alive Slam at Verve, only the second time this format has ever been done. Witness a battle of words and wit as three of the UK’s leading contemporary slam poets challenge three dead poets in three epic slam rounds, judged by a panel of audience members. Who will be the victor?

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A preposterous, reason defying spoken word competition, pitting living poets against their dead predecessors, re-animated for this one night just for your entertainment. Watch Team Life, comprised of Genevieve Carver, Isiah Hull and Caroline Teague, take on Team Death, featuring Christina Rossetti, Forough Farrokhzad, and Djuna Barnes (brought to life by Tembi Xena, Lorna Nickson Brown, and Zeddie Lawal). Judges from the audience will determine who wins, assigning numerical values to poems in an entirely meaningless attempt to instill reason into an event challenging the order of things. 

In other words, this is your chance to hear poetry from six incredible poets, interpreted by brilliant performers, all in an exciting and accessible format, as part of the altogether brilliant Verve poetry festival. Do yourself a favour and do not miss this. 

The night will be hosted by the all-powerful Amerah Saleh.

– Events Page

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

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Cynthia Miller © 2018

It was a fabulous concept and a great night… I cannot reveal who won yet, but I can tell you there was dancing.