The WLF Team have been busy organising the first online Worcestershire LitFest – we launch on Sunday 13th and as we are hosting events on Zoom – the whole world is invited!
September – that rolled around quickly!
This has definitely been a month of admin tasks and preparation, also finding my feet again since coming home to UK soil. It took a while for my head to leave Australia after my incredible summer trip to Perth Poetry Festival. It has also been a month filled by projects, book launches and celebrating successes – other people’s as well as my own.
Kicked off with being the Half-ender at YES WE CANT in Walsall. The gig I returned to the UK for! It was a cracking night and a pleasure to have been asked to perform.
It was great meeting Rob Barratt and on top of that I had a winning Lotto ticket (£1 – before you all get too excited) and an order for a fab new Poetry T-shirt… looks like Mr. G will have to get me something else for Christmas this year!
Read a full review here YES WE CANT
I had 3 poems published in a new project – which you can read more about in Week 4 of this review. One of the poems was a piece I wrote in Australia, so it is exciting for me to see it already out there.
I arranged meetings and made festival bids for ATOTC and 30-40-60. I was invited to a European Arts Festival in France. I looked at several applications, which I subsequently decided against for now.
I was busy managing INKSPILL, working with our Guest Writers. INKSPILL is our FREE online annual writing retreat which always takes place on the last weekend of October.
Look out for more NEWS on this coming soon!
I had a meeting about Poetry Projects for October and performances in November. I have been asked to take part in two Remembrance events this year, which is an honour.
I went to a Workshop delivered by Emily Wilkinson who is working on The Ring, 21 Miles project. It was a wonderfully creative afternoon which gave me inspiration for poems, so far I have managed to create a poetry film of 9 Haiku which is currently entered in the 21 competition.
A new project LitWorld2 Journal – Pic a Pocket Poems and Flashes is underway. Created by Sarah Leavesley it will feature a weekly poem which has been produced with an image, photo poetry and flash fiction. I am curating the Facebook side of the social media campaign. I created the Facebook group ready and Sarah has worked on a publication schedule. It launches before the end of the month and posts will appear on Fridays.
© Sarah Leavesley
I am very excited about the overall project and delighted to be able to support Sarah on it.
Unfortunately by the end of the week I was quite unwell but I did manage to get to Birmingham for Helen’s Book Launch.
Friday saw the first of this month’s Book Launches. Unable Mother By Helen Calcutt – published by V. Press was launched at Waterstones, Birmingham. It was a deeply moving experience, one you can read all about here UNABLE MOTHER
I had a well deserved (and needed – ill) rest over the weekend with Mr. G. Although I was still at the desk proofing an article and dealing with another which had gone to print. I also worked on some poetry for a project which has been simmering away for a while and needs to be sent next week.
I was still ill – so much so that I visited the Drs. & got meds. It meant I was not well enough to go to Licensed to Rhyme who were celebrating a 2nd Birthday, I didn’t make it over to Brum Stanza for Jacqui Rowe or PTS for Nellie Cole or SpeakEasy for Kevin Brooke or Hereford for H.Arts Gallery and new exhibition by Molly Bythell (my Ledbury PoArtry partner). Failed on five fronts but was successful at getting better. I spent some time in bed, in lots of pain but resting (which is unusually sensible for me). It was a shame to miss so much poetry but I couldn’t have managed any of the journeys getting across to any of these events so had no choice.
Some exciting news hit my inbox, something starting in November and something else that I am in awe of and still grinning from.
Saturday saw the launch of ‘Don’t Oil The Hinges’ the new WPL collection from Heather Wastie. It was a great night and having missed 4 poetry events really made up for my week out in ill-health limbo! You can read all about it here Don’t Oil The Hinges
On Sunday I attended a workshop in Birmingham Waterstones, The Accidental Memoir. It was interesting and gave me two new poems, one new technique and another book for the bookshelf/reading pile.
The Accidental Memoir workshop was taken by Anthony Cropper and we worked through several exercises in the book he co-produced with Eve Makis.
The Accidental Memoir truly is for all: writers and non-writers, teachers and students, the perfect book for anyone seeking inspiration or imaginative ways to explore their own life story.
This innovative concept was developed as an Arts Council project to help people tap into their own lives. Working with diverse groups from refugees to the elderly and prisoners, it has been a resounding success in unearthing stories that otherwise may never have been told.
Harper Collins © 2018
This week I missed several Book Launches and Free Verse (London Book Fair), which I read at last year with Stephen Daniels for V. Press.
A lot of groundwork for INKSPILL started this week. I had an invitation to be part of a panel which I really wanted to do but the date in October is already booked up, I am hoping to be considered for the next one. I still feel angst when dates clash, October is an exceptionally busy month in the poetry calendar and there are several overlapping events.
I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.
I had several project poems to complete and managed to meet deadlines on these. We have all seen the workings of the next part of this project and I will be sharing it with you when I can.
I also did a lot of editing and FINALLY made some submissions. I made the first of several films creating a montage of the Perth Poetry Festival, which will go live before INKSPILL (27th/28th October).
This week also saw my Jinney Ring Sculpture Trail Workshop. This is the 2nd year I have facilitated poetry on the Trail and with some exceptional sculptures our inspiration was easily tapped.
It was a great morning and the techniques/forms I chose to explore were enjoyed by participants. We are now working on our poems for two months and the next stage will be preparing an exhibition at the Jinney Ring which will be up by December.
An invite to perform next month dropped into my Inbox.
I spent the weekend writing to deadlines and working on the next new project for October.
Another week of preparation for INKSPILL and other writing deadlines and missed events like Poetry Bites. I started to promote National Poetry Day (4th October), I am sad to miss an event in Birmingham with Liz Berry, Roy McFarlane & Jane Commane.
This event is also the night the new Birmingham Poet Laureate will be appointed. Still cannot believe Matt Windle has finished this two year role, but we all know how time like this flies! Birmingham Literature Festival National Poetry Day
I am delighted to be booked to perform alongside former and current Worcestershire Poets Laureate, as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival for National Poetry Day.
Back in July I had an invite to read at Livres à vous – A Festival of the Arts in Voiron, France. I wasn’t sure it would be possible and it took a while to make the decisions about travel. Coach and train is fairly cheap but takes a long time and I have to be available for work most days. Today I booked my tickets to fly.
When I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I completed a project called Twin Town between Droitwich and Voiron and some of the poets involved in that will hopefully be there. I am looking forward to it.
A last minute booking came in to work with Year 7 pupils at Blessed Edwards in October, fortunately I was free to accept. This will involve 4 poets looking at 4 elements and group writing with the pupils. I am doubly excited as I got FIRE! My Leo-heart burns!
The first week of October is looking packed. A week of several double bookings another event I was invited to do A Night with… panel interview/performance/ relaxed Q & A which looks really good – I hope to make it on a different date. This in turn clashed with a book launch and that isn’t viable either. I have an open mic with an amazing headline/line up and the NPD and Swindon Poetry Festival to look forward to.
This week I wrote 4 new poems based on Masks and performed them at 42.
I took another 2 bookings for December. Wrote lots. Edited lots. AND…became the newest Director of Worcestershire LitFest! WLF Welcomes a New Director
LitWorld2 Journal was also released. This is Sarah Leavesley’s Photography/Art/Poetry Project and the first poem to be published is by Kathy Gee.
I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.
I also got organised for Swindon Poetry Festival next week! Whoop! Ready to run at October full pelt now!
By Richard Duckett
Telegram & Gazette Staff
How do you rhyme “Worcester”? You bring together poets from Worcestershire, England, and the Worcester County (Massachusetts) Poetry Association. A cross-Atlantic collaboration project has resulted in exchanged poems, publication of 92 poems in “Contour Poetry Magazine” edited by Worcester, England, poet laureate Nina Lewis, and a gala reading of the poems in our English Twin City.
Now it’s our turn with “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — US & UK.” Brian Evans Jones, former poet laureate of Hampshire, England, will read the British poetry, and there will be readings by many of the Central New England poets who have participated in the project, including Pam Bernard, Robin Boucher, Sylva Boyadjian-Haddad, Tony Brown, Dennis Caldwell, Clair Degutis, Gordon Elliot, Patricia Fargnoli, Jennifer Freed, Claire Golding, Victor D. Infante, Maura MacNeil, Cynthia Martell, Rodger Martin, Susan Roney-O’Brien, Kyle Potvin, Eve Rifkah, Karen Sharpe, Beth Sweeney, Paul Szlosek, Henry Walters, Linda Warren, and Patricia Youngblood.
What: “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK” When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 Where: The Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow St., Worcester.
How much: $10 suggested donation. Proceeds benefit the Sprinkler Factory and the Worcester County Poetry Association. http://www.worcestercountypoetry.org
A TALE OF TWO CITIES, WORCESTER
The Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory have joined together to host a benefit fundraiser – “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester – USA & UK.” The transatlantic poetry project is a result of a collaboration between poets from either side of the pond.
Forty-seven poets began writing and exchanging poems with each other from December 2017 to March 2018. The poets from Worcester, Mass., wrote an initial poem and got a response poem from their partner in Worcestershire, England.
At the Sprinkler Factory, Worcester poets will read their initial poem and their partners’ response.
Months of editing and reworking these poems has left a remarkable result worth hearing from those who participated. Proceeds from this event will go toward the Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory, which hosts ever-changing art exhibitions. There is a wide range of topics for the poems, from love to self-discovery.
Well this is the first post this month online but August was packed, PACKED with poetry. I am still catching up on some blog posts from June-July and now will be adding August to the pile.
Here’s the month in snapshot!
Before Perth Poetry Festival I blanked my diary out as much as possible and missed some fine Midlands poetry events.
I did a lot of research for Perth Poetry Festival and signed up to an anthology which I was lucky enough to be online for when the thread was posted, a project that is so popular it has a reserve list (more on this later).
The main event this week was a Book Launch in Cheltenham for a charity anthology that I was fortunate to have the shortest poem (apart from short form) I have ever written included in it. The event at Hatherley Manor was dreamy and wonderful and the book raises funds for the cat rescue charity New Start Cat Rescue Centre, Huntley, Gloucestershire.
I will be creating a full blog post soon (and link back here when I am done).
This anthology ‘All a Cat Can Be’ was the brainchild of Sharon Larkin and I am privileged to be involved. It would make a great Christmas gift for any cat lover.
“This book is as gloriously varied as the beloved cats it celebrates. Here you will find poems which are witty, thoughtful, moving, and light-footed. ‘All a Cat Can Be’ offers something to please every reader, while helping cats desperate for a good home. And the photographs are irresistible!” – Alison Brackenbury
Edited by Sharon Larkin and Sheila Macintyre.
I also sent a poem to Lucy Dougan for her Monster Field Workshop.
Week 2 & 3
I started working on INKSPILL – annual online writing retreat right here on AWF. More on this soon. Secured this year’s Guest Writers and started research.
I worked tirelessly for a fortnight attempting to get the final issue of Contour Poetry Magazine live before flying off to the Southern Hemisphere. I was at this point still waiting for copy, so did what any good editor should do and contacted the poets who had successfully made publication and shelved the remaining editorial until my return.
And then I flew to Perth, WA.
Where I had an incredible time (lots of posts to follow). It was an amazing festival and I did as much of it as I could!
Was mainly jet lag and editing… not a workable combination.
I managed to get myself back into Birmingham – it has been too long – over 12 months I think. I went to the Big White Shed Brum night and it was packed with poetry – wall to wall and heart through heart.
I am going to write the evening up over the weekend if I have a chance but it was a special night. The fusion of East & West (Midlands). There is a cracking poetry scene in Nottingham and this evening was proof of fine work happening in the region.
A soft spot for me as I started Spoken Word in the East Midlands in Leicester.
And I tie August up nicely with a night at Stanza.
I cannot believe the summer holidays are nearly over!
This Spring/Summer I have organised the poetry element for this festival. This is my 2nd year working alongside the Droitwich Arts Network team. The events happened in the final week of the month long festival which covers the whole spectrum of the Arts and has an extensive full programme. This year saw the introduction of Dance to the festival. It has been a pleasure to see it grow in success year on year.
This year a couple of Poetry Events also slipped into Week 3. Charley Barnes’ Book Launch for A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache and our Poetry show 30-40-60
I was a Guest Poet at the Book Launch and organised 30-40-60 along with Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – both events were outside of my remit of festival work.
© Droitwich Standard
Saturday 21st July
Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network
Arts in View Members of Droitwich Arts Network engaged with the public in Victoria Square. Organised by Peter Hawkins.
The Prose Readings in the square took place from 10:30- 12:30 Led by Carla Kovac, with writers Sharon Grigg, Jack Walsh, and Venessa Morgan.
Magic by Charlie close up Stage Magic.
Poetry in the Square 2 – 4 PM
I booked John Mills & Liz Mills to come and perform poetry in St. Andrew’s Square (Town Centre) during the day. We originally had Roy McFarlane booked in too, but then he got called away… to AMERICA!
The three of us kept shoppers entertained for 2 hours. We met a few local poets and talked poetry to a few interested individuals.
Here are a few extra pictures taken on my phone.
The evening Poetry Event took place in Victoria Square.
© Park’s Cafe
Poetry Extravaganza is usually an open mic evening, however this year we had an Open Mic in the first half and ATOTC – A Tale of Two Cities UK Reading in the second half.
ATOTC was my WPL Legacy project between Worcester MA, USA and Worcester UK. 9 Poets from the 24 UK Poets came to perform the work they created with their American partners.
It was fantastic to hear it all and it worked really well. Bigger plans afoot for ATOTC in 2019, the USA reading happens in September.
Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network – unless otherwise stated.
© Nina Lewis
Helen Karakashian – The Chair of Droitwich Arts Network introduced the evening.
The Open Mic was MCed by Charley Barnes.
Michael Thomas kicked off an enjoyable open mic section.
© Nina Lewis
© Nina Lewis
Then after an interval I MCed the second half – ATOTC.
After a short introduction about the project Charley Barnes started the UK Readings. We each read our call poems and our partner’s response poems from the USA.
Charley Barnes with Henry Walters
Maggie Doyle with Maura MacNeil
© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network
Nina Lewis with Linda Warren
© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network
Derek Littlewood with Rodger Martin
Io Osborn with Kyle Potvin
© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network
Liz Parkes with Eve Rifkah
Stevie Quick with Claire Mowbray Golding
© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network
Polly Stretton with Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
Michael W. Thomas with Gordo Elliot
Then we read around again, this time starting with our partner’s call poems and then our response.
Issue 3 of Contour Poetry Magazine Special ATOTC Edition can be read in full (all 116 pages) here.
It was an amazing, well attended evening and enjoyed by all!
As part of the Artsfest Programme this year we performed 30-40-60 for the first time since 2017.
We are delighted to have received a review of our show.
Read the full review here http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/performance–arts.html
30-40-60 …a three-woman poetry-show complete with multi-media elements galore.
Moving through the complexities of womanhood and a female life at varying stages, Lewis, Walker and Gee combine their works seamlessly, borrowing from each other’s works wonderfully to breathe a new life into many of their respective poems. The vocal delivery throughout was clear and concise while the poems were shared out across the three separate voices too, allowing the collaborative feel of the show to really come through. All three performed with care and control over their work and indeed each other’s, showing just how much time, effort, and synchronisation has gone into the planning of this.
Having read the three collections that the show is made up from, what struck me as particularly wonderful is how these poems are made new by this new-style delivery, complete with musical and visual accompaniments – thanks to Lewis’ film addition to the show.
… empowered, well-put together, and downright inspiring, thanks to the strong feminist themes and defiant tones that come through from the off – and the authors themselves don’t ease off that pedal until the final music plays.
A well-polished and thought-provoking collaboration…
…reminding listeners what stunning writers they all are in their own rights…
© 2018 MAD HATTER REVIEWS
I was delighted when Artsfest booked our 30-40-60 Poetry Show as part of the 2018 Programme. It has been a year since Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and I performed this work… so as soon as we had news of it being accepted we organised a rehearsal.
The rehearsal was great fun, the run-through was barely problematic and we found the right cables for all the equipment.
Unfortunately, due a Windows 10 update I lost some of the original files and with one glitch on the film (it is a media show/performance), I had no choice but to start the process of film-making over again. This was a lesson in backing up files but actually, as some of our audience had seen the 2017 performance at Worcestershire LitFest, I was happy we had new media to entertain them, with deeper connectivity to the script.
It took a whole day, but it is backed up!
Kathy worked hard on producing new programmes and Claire took over the social media drive and promotion.
Fast forward into the following week and we all met excitedly in St. Andrew’s Church, Droitwich to set up the media, lights and sound for our show, with help from Rhys Jones.
With the stage set and an introduction from Rhys Jones, we kicked off with open mic sets from: Janet King, Nigel Hutchinson, Ian Glass and Charley Barnes and then performed the show.
Photographs © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network
It was a great evening and an appreciative audience.
I approached Kathy and Claire with the idea in late spring 2017, I had the idea before Fragile Houses was published. We worked on the show for several months. It was quick and easy to compile as our work complimented the themes and was easy (ish) to structure, the time consuming side was rehearsals and technical work.
We hope to do more with this show next year. If you are interested please let us know.
We received great feedback again this year and even bagged a review!
© Charley Barnes
Sometimes in the writing world you have to keep secrets, occasionally even official embargo’s are placed on you. I knew Charley Barnes was joining V. Press and I was delighted (but wasn’t allowed to announce my joy)!
So when Charley asked me to be one of her Guest Poets I felt doubly honoured. During the evening Claire Walker and I discovered just how influential we had been supporting Charley’s dive into the publication of poetry. It is wonderful when you realise the impact you have made on someone’s writing goals. I am in debt to those who have helped me realise mine and know how it feels. There were nearly tears!
So let’s backtrack a little. Charley has just published her debut collection with V. Press ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’ and it is a fabulous pamphlet, full of life, love, difficulties and lessons.
It was released on the 11th July and the Book Launch took place on the 14th. Charley’s Guest Poets were myself, Holly Magill, Claire Walker and Sarah Leavesley.
It was a fantastic celebration of life and poetry and all took place (as many V. Press launches do), at the wonderful Park’s Cafe in Droitwich. It was made extra special by falling into the Artsfest and being advertised as part of the Festival programme.
Which also meant Rhys Jones (Droitwich Arts Network) was in attendance with his camera to capture some spectacular moments throughout the evening.
All photographs © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network, unless otherwise stated.
After an introduction which nearly made me blub I was the first Guest Reader. I had compiled a set which was my own A Z-hearted Guide through heartache and hoped that Charley enjoyed it. I did think (afterwards) that I should have done some of her favourite poems of mine. Hindsight…
My set included a brand new poem and some I had not performed before.
Next was Holly Magill who treated us to a set from her own debut pamphlet, ‘The Becoming of Lady Flambé’, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Another strong collection of Poetry.
More information here. The book was published in June and Holly’s official launch happens later this summer.
Then Charley treated us to poems from her NEW book!
Before an interval of book sales and signing! Although I had plenty of opportunities to buy the pamphlet, I made myself wait until the launch. It is a bit like waiting for Christmas and is something I tend to force myself to do whenever possible!
You can buy a copy for yourselves here and can also read a sample poem from the collection.
“The poems in A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache will make you re-think your relationship with pizza, garlic bread and your mobile phone. These sharp, sad and wry observations – on the reality of living with mental illness and disability, the heartbreak of the everyday, and perseverance despite everything – capture what it is to be twenty-something, in love, and healing through food. This is an exciting debut pamphlet from a new and honest voice.” Jenna Clake
“In her debut pamphlet, Charley Barnes examines the reality of heartbreak and its different forms, highlighting how aspects of modern society can play – often brutally – on our insecurities: the wish to be prettier, more popular, more lovable. These poems deftly explore the bitter, lasting sting of loss and how it shapes us. Yet there is also the tenderness of possibility at play – a sweetness to offset the sharpness encountered by a young woman trying to navigate her way; a knowing, self-deprecating humour that shines through, even in dark experiences. There is a wisdom of the importance of nurturing here, accompanied by the will that, whatever happens, ‘you have to keep going, don’t you?’ (‘The lie my mum told me’).” Claire Walker
Then came the second half of the evening with Guest Poet, Claire Walker. I always enjoy listening to Claire’s work and those hindsight fairies made it to her door, as she delivered a set including some of Charley’s favourite poems.
Additional treasure came from her recount of the love her girls have for Charley… or Charley Barnes as they call her.
‘It all starts with an acorn‘, a poem in Charley’s pamphlet will reveal a little more to you.
Sarah Leavesley a prolific poet in her own right and editor/publisher at V. Press was the final Guest Poet. It was good to hear some poems from her latest collection again, having recently enjoyed her own launch of How to Grow Matches – published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.
This collection was shortlisted for the International Rubery Book Award 2018.
The evening concluded with another wonderful set from Charley, who had mainly shared her more lighthearted work in the first half and waited for the end to take our breath away with the more serious poems in her book.
A true gift of an evening. Thoroughly enjoyed by us all, as captured here in this group shot!
© Harriet Barnes – whose direction made this photo what it is.
A fantastic night – five poets on a high for sometime after the Launch!
Back in 2014 I was invited by Jo Bell to take part in her 52 project – a poem for a week, for a year. Aside from being a marvellous project to be involved in (my publishing record is about 50/50 rejection/acceptance… every 52 poem I have submitted carries a 100% success rate), it was a year where over 500 poets formed friendships and connections.
It gave many people the confidence to call themselves poets and saw established poets (and famous ones) working alongside emerging newbies and early career poets. It was a medley of talent and made us all READ a lot of good poetry, poetry that differed to the our tastes and both those factors are heavily recommended for any writer! It was also a great platform for learning how to edit and critique. I think we all improved over the 12 months. Certainly lots of collections followed.
Along the way I have made virtual friends with a lot of the poets involved in 52 and July’s SpeakEasy featured one of these poets. Ben Banyard – who says 52 was the turning point for him taking his writing seriously.
I was incredibly excited to meet him and hear his work.
Back in early 2016 Ben’s first pamphlet ‘Communing’ was published by Indigo Dreams Press (IDP).
Find out more and buy a copy here.
Fast forward 2 years and Ben’s first full collection ‘We Are All Lucky’ is published by IDP.
More information can be found here. This is the collection we enjoyed in his Headline set.
As if all that was not exciting enough – SpeakEasy was in a new venue – Wayland’s Yard – a lovely Coffee Shop (although it is really more than that), near the station, handy for visiting poets/audience.
To top it off we also had the WLF Slam Winners for Poetry and Flash Fiction primed to perform.
The first post-festival (WLF) SpeakEasy is always brilliant. Suz Winspear was our MC for the evening, this was her first night back in that role, it has since been announced that Charley Barnes is stepping down from hosting.
© Nina Lewis
For the first time EVER we were outside and it was a warm summer evening, the outside of Wayland’s was dressed for summer (well actually, a wedding) and it was perfect! Pom poms, fairy lights and bunting!
© Nina Lewis
The Slam Winners were both presented with their awards and then I kicked off the evening with a 6 minute set.
Photographs © Charley Barnes WLF.
Kevin Brooke Flash Fiction Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.
Io Osborn Poetry Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.
© Nina Lewis
Charley Barnes performed from her new pamphlet ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’, published by V. Press.
Daniel Burton – who launched his debut collection last Saturday in Worcester and is now taking it on a mini tour of Loughborough, Leicester & Coventry.
© Daniel Burton
© Nina Lewis
After an interval Chloe Clarke kicked off the second half.
Chloe Clarke (former Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate)
Io (Cass) Osborn – Slam Champ Poet
SpeakEasy over the past few years has had lots of newcomers, which is great for an established Poetry Night, here’s Michael Wheatley.
Then Ben Banyard Headlined.
© Kathy Gee
Ben’s poetry was life-affirming and I loved a lot of his work. ‘Pineapple as a metaphor for life’ was a particular favourite of mine. It was a joy to hear his set.
‘What strikes me most about Banyard’s poems is his affection for humanity, grounded by his wry humour. His imagination allows him to empathise with people he encounters. He has the gift of finding pleasure in the everyday, in all its seediness and tawdry beauty. He has the true poet’s gift of noticing details others miss.’
‘Ben Banyard writes accessible poems about the real world, with its triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies. I like them for their humanity and warmth, for their sense of humour, and for the way Banyard often pins down just the right details to bring a piece vividly to life. This is an enjoyable collection.’
‘There is an impressive range here and, whether writing about childhood memories, being a father, cataracts, spit hoods or Birmingham, this poet displays a sureness of touch and an ability to precisely capture a vanished world or the exact tone of a voice. Ben Banyard is a poet with a sharp-eyed yet affectionate view of the world. I very much enjoyed this confident and varied collection.’
SpeakEasy was a well attended event with plenty of audience members as well as performers and an enchanting one at that!
© Nina Lewis
I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from April – June. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.
Following Cheltenham Poetry Festival, the next night I was part of Steve Soden’s Bohemian Voices event at the Jinney Ring, Hanbury.
Steve used to run these events in London and back in November he premiered the evening at the Jinney Ring to a sell out crowd. Music, Comedy and Poetry all in one night.
It was a fabulous evening and a joy to be part of. Another event I wish I had the time to blog about in the moment – because afterwards I felt euphoric!
Tickets for evening included 6 acts, canapes, 2 courses and a welcome drink and I was surprised and delighted when my mum and Aunty showed up! It was sold out and the restaurant was buzzing on the other side of the wall to where we were busy setting up.
7 – 8PM
It was exciting meeting the other acts and it was special sitting with the other artists, tucked away in the restaurant for the courses. After a brief sound check, whilst canapes were being enjoyed by guests. The evening started… with FOOD! Which was fantastic – the food was fantastic – but also being able to eat, so often with evening gigs you travel during teatime, arrive hungry with little choice of food (if any), leave hungry, arrive home and eat at about midnight.
The menu choices made it really hard to decide on what to have and as we were performing we were allowed to order early, before I had a chance to swipe a look at other diner’s plates!
8 – 8:45 PM
The first course ‘The Main Event‘, was followed by 45 mins of entertainment from the first 3 artists on the bill. I think performing on a full stomach is hard and that is exactly what I had to do as I was up first!
Steve fortunately performed a poem and made introductions, but essentially I had the slot no performer jumps at. On the other hand, I was able to enjoy the rest of the show and Steve does know what he is doing with a running order.
Nervous butterflies and Burritos – a curious mix. My set was mainly from Fragile Houses and it went down well.
© Steve Soden
Then there was music from Danielle Cawdell, which was simply magical.
Comedy from Masai Graham, who won the crowd over and had us all chuckling.
Then an interval with tea and coffee. ‘The Final Curtain‘ brought us more culinary delights, this time in the form of bite size desserts, which I enjoyed sharing with the talented musicians. I remember a small pink one tasting of heaven. It was great to have an hour for the 2nd course and it gave me time to catch up with my mum and Aunty too.
The Jinney Ring understand that this experience is food with entertainment and want their diners to experience a laid back evening with plenty of time to eat, drink and be merry.
There was even time to read the poetry exhibition from my Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop too.
I could have happily stayed in the restaurant for hours chatting to fellow artists but after a much needed coffee (to balance the sugar rush), we were all ushered back into the performance area for the 2nd half.
9:45 – 10:30 PM
The 2nd half started with poetry from Steve Soden, who was also the slick, professional and reassuring host of the evening, followed by Matt Windle (Birmingham’s Current Poet Laureate) his set, as always was phenomenal.
The evening closed with a cowboy, Rob Brunt – whose set was spellbinding. It took me back to memories of travel and was thoroughly enjoyable.
It was great catching up with Matt and meeting the other performers. I had a really lovely evening, I enjoyed it equally to Cheltenham Poetry Festival (and I loved that)!
It is rare I survive/manage back to back bookings anymore and to have these two great events booked in my diary in April was a real high way of ending a busy month! It was a late night, but one filled with pleasure from start to finish.
I am grateful to Steve for the booking and would recommend you look out for another Bohemian Voices soon. You are in for a treat!