Category Archives: Poetry Performance

Flashback May: How to Grow Matches Book Launch

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from May – July. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Saturday, 19 May – Park’s Cafe, Droitwich. How to Grow Matches – A Live Lit Celebration.

Back in the Spring I was asked to be a poetry judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Launch for How to Grow Matches, published by Against the Grain Poetry Press. Following her Launch in London in March at the Poetry Cafe, Sarah had a local launch in May.

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This is Sarah’s 7th poetry book and she made sure that this was a Launch with a difference. She used her Launch as an opportunity to raise money for St. Paul’s Hostel who help people through homelessness. The evening was filled with Poetry and Fiction, as Sarah was also launching her latest novella Always Another Twist.

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Sarah’s Guest Poets/Writers were Jenny Hope, Liz Kershaw and Holly Magill, the evening was MCed by Charley Barnes, there was an Open Mic with prizes (hence the poetry judging). The prizes were amazing – bags of poetry books and poetry pictures.

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Sarah launch  The evening started with a translated reading by Sylv Coultier of ‘Matryoshka Portrait’, the opening poem in How to Grow Matches. Followed by Guest readings, open mic poets and readings from Sarah.

It was a lovely evening and thoroughly enjoyed. Appreciation and generosity were the feelings I took away from the evening.

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How to Grow Matches was SHORTLISTED in the poetry category of the INTERNATIONAL RUBERY BOOK AWARDS 2018 and ‘His Secret Daughter’ from How to Grow Matches is Carol Rumens’s Guardian Poem of the Week

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‘What immediately strikes me in Leavesley’s poetry is that sense of being spoken to directly, forcefully. The anger – at impossible advice, at the hidden and neglected work, at mere survival against the odds – is always balanced with craft and an impeccable sense of timing, and a vision which ranges from the orchestra pit to the research laboratory, via geopolitics, extinction and the recurring nested image of the matryoshka doll. An essential pamphlet.’
– Luke Kennard

‘Uncomfortable, powerful, and compelling, these poems demand to be read. And to read them is to ride a discomfiting turbulent current expressed in images of clocks with disparate rhythms, clouds that dissolve into “dark angels of rain”, piles of spent matches that might make a bonfire. And burning is what these poems do: searing through skilfully controlled anger at the invisibility of women, their lack of a powerful role model to follow, they are ready to burst into flame, urging women to “reclaim their share”.’
– Gill McEvoy

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You can buy your own copy here againstthegrainpoetrypress.wordpress.com/shop/

Reviews of HOW TO GROW MATCHES.

ArtsFest

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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.

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http://droitwichartsfest.org/events/

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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

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/a-z-hearted-guide-to-heartache-by-charley-barnes-book-launch/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/the-return-of-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.

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© 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.

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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.

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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.

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Here are a few extra pictures taken on my phone.

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The evening Poetry Event took place in Victoria Square.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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© Nina Lewis

Helen Karakashian – The Chair of Droitwich Arts Network introduced the evening.

The Open Mic was MCed by Charley Barnes.

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Michael Thomas kicked off an enjoyable open mic section.

 

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Terry Baldock

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Liz Mills

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Neil Richards

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John Mills

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Maggie Doyle

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Stevie Quick

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Holly Magill

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Then after an interval I MCed the second half – ATOTC.

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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.

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Charley Barnes with Henry Walters

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Maggie Doyle with Maura MacNeil

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Nina Lewis with Linda Warren

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Derek Littlewood with Rodger Martin

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Io Osborn with Kyle Potvin

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Liz Parkes with Eve Rifkah

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Stevie Quick with Claire Mowbray Golding

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Polly Stretton with Susan Elizabeth Sweeney

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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!

 

Sculpture Workshop Reading

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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. We have now reached May!

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

This event started with a workshop back in September at the Jinney Ring, celebrating the annual Sculpture Trail. I am running a new Sculpture Trail workshop this year in September, drop me a line if you are interested in making an advanced booking.

For information – worcspl@gmail[dot]com

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Following the workshop the project went twofold – an exhibition of our poetry which has been on display at The Jinney Ring since April and a Reading.

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It took a while to find a venue in the village, but in the end it was perfect and the Church even had a Book Sale! Plus it was an extremely warm Bank Holiday and a stone building is the perfect air con and a new opportunity has arisen for some Autumn/Spring workshops based in St. Mary’s.

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© 2018 Martin Aspley-Davis

We are a vibrant church set upon a hilltop in the village of Hanbury in Worcestershire. We, at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, attract people of all ages and outlooks to services that range from the contemporary to the traditional, from the informal to the formal and we would love to meet you. © 2018 https://www.hanburychurch.org/

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On arrival the path from the gates had been chalked, the church steps were chalked and there was a billboard advertising the event.

Just as I hoped, this brought people in for a few poems, we also had an audience who enjoyed the full almost hour of poetry about the Jinney Ring Sculptures.

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The workshop poets all thoroughly enjoyed hearing each other’s take on the Artwork and it brought back many memories of the trail. It is always interesting to hear other people’s poems when there is a shared source. The Mermaid sculpture featured in a fair few poems and not one of them the same.

It was unfortunate that not every poet was able to be there, however other Workshop Poets kindly read poems from the missing participants.

Maggie Doyle, Margaret Adkins, Polly Stretton & Nigel Hutchinson.

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            Jenna Plewes & Serena Trowbridge

The acoustics in the Church were great and the poetry was quality. It was a wonderful celebration of work, we read poems by Claire Walker, Roz Levens, Cass Osborn, Anne Milton and Linda Williams too.

To make more of a day of it we went back to where it all started and enjoyed tea and cake in the sunshine at The Jinney Ring.

My gratitude to Judith Burman, the Church Warden for advertising and helping organise this event and to the Rev. David Morris for allowing poets to use the Church in the first place. We all had a wonderful time and it was a great success.

What was also special is a number of people had never had the pleasure of exploring/discovering the Church before and I know they too will now probably take a walk through the woods up to the Church (as we did when we were children). I look forward to working with words inside the Church later in the year.

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May Review 2018

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May was a huge month for editing and writing and marked my final full month as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, a position I have loved. Who wouldn’t want to be an ambassador for poetry? I was also juggling working full time with a full schedule.

Week 1: 

Still learning how to balance full time work with a writing career, I found a lack of energy and time were enemies to my To Do list.

My final Worcestershire Poet Laureate submission windows opened. One for Scientific/Mathematical poetry in honour of Stephen Hawking and the other for the final edition of Contour WPL Magazine, Issue 4 Celebration & End of an Era.

 

 

I spent most of the week working on A Tale Of Two Cities Special Edition Contour Magazine.

I received news of a recent submission being successful. One of my Jinney Ring Sculpture Workshop poems is to be published in Domestic Cherry Issue 6. I join many poetry friends in this issue and what is more we get to read our poems at an event in the Swindon Poetry Festival, which is great. This will be my 4th year attending Swindon Poetry Festival and it is always amazing. Last year I was booked as a V. Press poet in V. Formation, reading alongside Stephen Daniels and Gram Joels. This year I knew I was heading down after National Poetry Day (I have a booked gig), now I know I will get to read too. Wonderful.

My role as Reader in Residence for West Midlands Reader’s Network was wrapped up in an evaluation which took an incredible amount of time to write, but future funding depends on such things and I was able to use some of it in a public review for Warwickshire Libraries too. I sent reviews of Book Review Workshops and the Poetry on Demand event for the Rugby Library website.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/a-word-from-nina/

I received finalist poems for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Poet Laureate Competition. I have a fortnight to judge these poems. I am looking forward to discovering who the finalists are on the 10th June. This year the finals will be held at The Angel Centre – which is the 4th venue for the WPL finals.

Over the weekend I secured an interview with Kate Garrett on her recent charity venture ‘Bonnie’s Crew’, took some poems for a polish and prepared for the final WPL event at Hanbury Church.

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Week 2:

Started with a Bank Holiday and sunshine. I hosted the final WPL event, a reading at Hanbury Church of our Sculpture Trail poems from the Jinney Ring workshop. A full review of the event will be posted soon. To my delight this event has also lead to future work.

 

 

It seemed strange that this was it, as far as WPLaureating goes.

I had tight deadlines for copy, reviews, interviews and editing this week. Promotion has started for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival. Scott-Patrick Mitchell is responsible for a lot of the streaming online. He has sent interview questions to use as part of the Marketing & Promotion of the festival. I completed the bulk of an interview on time but had a few questions that needed a more considered response. Everything is in place for the marketing machine now though.

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I spent some time prepping Q&A for the ‘In Conversation’ event at the BMI.

I was fortunate enough to get to PTS (Permission to Speak) which featured the Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists taking over the hosting for the evening and featuring artists from The Black Country Broadsheet project. It was a great night of high energy hosted by Dave Pitt featuring: R.M Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger & Casey Bailey. I shared my NaPo poems (not all 30)! A full review can be found here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/mighty-force-poets-prattlers-pandemonialists/

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The following night I headed over to Birmingham to the BMI (Birmingham & Midland Institute) for an In Conversation & Reading of Fragile Houses. Another fabulous night in the John Lee Theatre. Read the full review here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/open-conversation-bmi/

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This was a great opportunity to reach a new audience and was booked last Winter, I had been looking forward to it for a while.

I am delighted Roy McFarlane is the Poet in Residence there and look forward to his programme of events and get more involved in Birmingham again.

I planned to spend the weekend editing, I mainly slept – being a busy poet and working full-time is not easy. I did manage a good shift on ATOTC and got the main frame of the magazine complete – overcoming lots of horrendous formatting issues. Sadly I realised I had missing Bios and so put a call out for those.

I am hoping that before the end of the month we will have the special edition ready for upload.

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Week 3:

What is a perfect way to start the week? A workshop with the exuberant Ash Dickinson of course! Having missed the opportunity to do one in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme!

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Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/ash-dickinson-workshop-licensed-to-rhyme/

It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week.

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Lorna Meehan headlines next month – so I need to get my diary free *although I think it falls during Worcestershire LitFest.

On Thursday I had intended to hit Birmingham at the Twisted Tongues event (usually held in Derby), however after a long day at work and with a weekend of events scheduled I did the sensible thing (very unlike me) and spent the night in the garden enjoying the end of the sun before having a relatively early night.

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I spent a lot of the week compiling the Special Edition Contour Magazine and chasing poets for photos.

On Friday I whizzed from work straight to The Hive in Worcester for a Book Launch. Cutting the Green Ribbon – debut poetry collection for Katy Wareham Morris, published by Hesterglock Press.

ctgr-poster-as-jpeg Katy was joined by Guest Readers Holly Magill, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – it was a superb night of poetry. Full review coming soon.

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I surprised myself on Saturday by firstly forgetting there was a Royal Wedding (I was reading poetry books and working on a submission) and secondly by writing about it. I had not planned to and I know many poets balk at this sort of sentimentality – but important events during one’s Laureateship ought to be marked and so I found myself with laptop on lap, catching up with images from the BBC whilst watching the ceremony from the point of the Bishop’s Address onward and I did manage to write something.

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https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/the-royal-wedding/

I finished the week being a Poetry Judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Launch at Parks Cafe.  Sarah celebrated the launch of her new novella Always Another Twist and latest poetry collection How to Grow Matches. It was a charity event in aid of St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester and a fantastic evening (even if I did want to run away with the prizes)! A full review will be posted soon.

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Sarah was joined by Guest Readers: Holly Magill, Jenny Hope & Liz Kershaw and the night was MCed by Charley Barnes.

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/news/award-winning-droitwich-author-to-hold-special-book-launch-at-charity-evening/

 

Week 4

The week started with a well earned day off work to fill with Poetry work. This year I was invited to be part of the Living Library event at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester. The event is organised annually by Librarian Linda Bromyard and enables several classes from Year 7 to come and meet real writers and talk to them about their work. Again, I will be writing full reviews of work from May soon and this event will certainly be given one. It was as inspiring for the adults as the students, I would have loved something like this when I was studying English.

 

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14543190.Authors_bring_school_library_alive/

The deadline for judging this year’s WPL finalist poems came around fast. I enjoyed reading this year’s entries, I am not so much enjoying sitting in judgement at the finals, but will part of a team of 5 judges and it is part of the WPL remit accepted last year. My hat goes off to poets who judge competitions with 100s of entries, it is a tough job.

I FINALLY gained access to the Arts Council portal (being trying since 27th April) only to find the decision was a no. Ironically the new system is more suited to individual bids, I used the British Council funding scheme a joint venture with the Arts Council. I rushed to get mine in before 1st March deadline and may have been better to wait for the new batch and changes in the system.

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Still, I took on the full time teaching role to pay for it and now I have the freedom to enjoy it evaluation free. The bid was to cover my travel to Australia for the Perth Festival and some workshops back in the UK after the event. At least I learnt how to apply for funding and also had the pleasure of analysing statistical data which shows my work this year has impacted on over 360 individuals.  Lots to celebrate.

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On the same day I discovered this failure I was also Headlining at Poetry Bites. It has been a while since I headlined a gig and it was a pleasure. Again full review waiting in a queue.

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I had to plan my Australian workshop and send a 200 marketing blurb this week. It is based on themes pulled from Fragile Houses and is going to be great. I am really looking forward to this experience and have scheduled time when term finishes to get prepared. The review of July will be simpler – it will just say…

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Preparing for Australia!

I have also been working on the final three WPL projects:

  • Contour Issue 4 WPL Digital Poetry Magazine
  • Twin Town European Poetry Exchange
  • Every Word Counts – Science/Maths Anthology

Contour Issue 4 the Celebration issue is still open for submissions until my final day as Laureate 10.6.18, I have been busy catching up with the Headliners of SpeakEasy for the interview section and have an article or two to add (new feature).

Twin Town 

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Most of the poets involved managed their poetry exchanges before the deadline, I stepped in and wrote a response poem and a Town poem in case the final poet didn’t manage it. We are now just waiting on a final response poem from a poet who received it over 2 weeks late, a June deadline has been negotiated and I have secured my good friend Nathalie Brooker to work on my French translations. This should be live in June, publication is planned for 10th June, the day I end my Laureateship.

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I spent time long listing poems from the 30 day submission window.

 

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A much needed break from work, 9 days in my poetry skin.

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I planned my penultimate WWM Spark Writers group – they are sad to see me go, they are not the only ones. My sensitive poet’s heart could crack with all these changes!

I spent some time organising the first of the UK ATOTC readings. A collaborative of 11 who will read call/response poems during the 2nd part of the evening as part of Artsfest 2018.

I made the final promo pushes for the last 2 WPL submissions. Had a lovely night at Waterstones celebrating the Launch of Deborah Alma’s new Nine Arches Press collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ a full blog post owed for that night too!

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I made it to 42 and the newly refurbished Drummonds for a night that was pure entertainment.

I finish the month with mild exhaustion and the hope that the few submissions I have managed to make this month will find themselves a home amongst pages. Fingers crossed.

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June

June sees the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival, the crowning of a new Poet Laureate, the finalists in the running are Sarah Leavesley, Betti Moretti & Peter Sutton. The Launch takes place on the 10th June 2:30 pm at the Angel Centre, Worcester and sadly will mark my last day as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

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Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

Other events to look forward to are: Meet the Authors, Stanza in the Forest of Dean for a Forestry/Poetry project, the rest of the WLF Programme, I am performing on Tuesday at Night at the Museum, Wednesday at 42 Special with the Anti-Poet, Thursday at SpeakEasy Festival Special and Saturday as part of The Ring Project.

I am performing as part of Ludlow Fringe Festival, have my final ever WWM Spark Young Writer Group, attending the Stratford Poetry Festival for the schools project with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, attending and performing at a few book launches and finishing the month with Ledbury Poetry Festival.

At the desk I am working on a current manuscript, prep for Perth Poetry Festival (Australia, not Scotland), Contour Issue 4 Digital poetry magazine, The Twin Town Poetry Anthology & a collection to mark the passing of Stephen Hawking featuring Science/Mathematical poetry Every Word Counts.

Plenty of work to absorb the extraction of my Laureateship! And who knows in between I may even get to write and sleep!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In Conversation – BMI Poetry Project

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Last night I had the pleasure of a reading in Birmingham at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, a booking which was taken last year.

We were competing with an event at Waterstones (Cinnamon Press Showcase which was postponed from earlier in the year and an event I would have attended myself), final assignment deadlines for Birmingham Universities and the sunshine which made an appearance around 4 PM and again at 8 and probably had most people running for their gardens!

Still we had a good time and it was great meeting new poetry lovers. I was surprised and delighted by the support of Roy McFarlane who is the current Poet in Residence at BMI and fast approaching the launch of his next collection (Nine Arches Press).

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I was a little nervous, I have 3 Guest Speaker events under my belt and a string of radio interviews but had never had a live Q&A in front of a theatre audience and I am always mindful of what people probably want to hear and the art of gentle disclosure.

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Photo credits Paul Stringer (Room 204) and PhotoGiraffe

Talking to people during the interval, the insights that came up were from points where I relaxed and answered honestly hiding behind the 4th wall (forgetting we were being watched). It was fun talking about writing and all things poetry.

The event was held in the John Lee theatre, acoustics were great. I had woken up without a voice and used it all day at work.

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I enjoyed the reading – the first half was Fragile Houses and the second part a mixture of poems from the book and some newer material. Again, lots of positive feedback and although the audience was not as large as hoped my work has found new ears.

The evening finished with an Open Mic and this was a chance for new performers. The poetry was good, some of it deeply moving and we even managed to convince Roy to treat us to a poem.

The sun was just setting as we made our way back to New Street (now Grand Central).

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Fragile Houses is now housed in the Library at BMI.

Huge thanks to Jo, who stepped into Serena Trowbridge’s shoes, I wish Serena a speedy recovery and look forward to more events the BMI has to offer.

Images © 2017 Birmingham & Midland Institute https://bmi.org.uk/

 

 

 

The Birmingham & Midland Institute Poetry Event

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THURSDAY 10 MAY – IN-CONVERSATION AND POETRY READING WITH NINA LEWIS

The BMI is proudly welcoming Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis to discuss her work. Join Nina for an in-conversation about her life through poetry and listen as she shares poems from her pamphlet Fragile Houses (V. Press, 2016) along with some of her new work.

This will be followed by an Open Mic session – spaces are limited and poets will be invited to read their work for no more than 6 minutes. Please contact Serena Trowbridge at serena.trowbridge[at]bcu.ac.uk to reserve your slot to read!

© 2018 Birmingham & Midland Institute

https://bmi.org.uk/product/conversation-poetry-reading-nina-lewis/

April Review 2018

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This month saw a return to full time work and as a result I missed a fortnight of poetry I had planned. Which I still haven’t really forgiven myself for.

Week 1: 

Started with the Easter weekend and some time offline. I registered AWF on napowrimo.net and spent most of my time organising the long overdue exhibition at the Jinney Ring of our Sculpture workshop poems.

I am also involved in a Shakespeare Birthplace Trust project with local schools in Stratford-Upon Avon and received letters from two children who I then wrote a peace poem for. I made that sound easier than it was, the one child requested a humorous poem. I have a repertoire includes about 20 funny poems (which sounds a lot, but I have been writing for 4 years now)! I had a 6 day deadline and the poems had to be received by post. I managed 2 poems which I am proud of and hope that they are excited to be working with a Laureate.

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I started the long process of editing and digitally compiling the Special Edition of Contour Poetry Magazine. Proof copies were sent out in March and now I have to fix edits and complete the desk top publishing, due to work commitments I know that it will be May before this issue is live. I had hoped for an April release originally.

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I have worked on ATOTC A Tale of Two Cities since July 2017, one of the first long term Poet Laureate projects, it has been an amazing project which saw poems exchanged between UK and USA partners throughout 2018, all copy was back on my desk by March and after all the hard work of the 47 people involved I want the issue to be the best that it can be. I would rather take more time over it than hash it out this month, I simply no longer have time scheduled for it as other items, events and work have to take priority.

Even when these magazines are seemingly ready they have historically eaten another 14+ hours in the end process of conversion and upload.

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I worked on the Suffragette Anthology – now live over at the Worcestershire Poet Laureate site Suffragettes Anthology.

I had a workshop in Stratford with Angela France, we wrote about trees and it was warm enough to sit in the garden, unfortunately a sunny day + Easter break saw Stratford full of tourists and this meant our usual haunt was not available for lunch. Sitting on a wall opposite the river chatting with Angela was a bonus though.

The following day I was facilitating a workshop with the Basement Project, I booked 3 with this charity back in November as part of my local Laureate work. The charity support young people 16-25 who are or are at risk of becoming homeless. It is a great team there and I have already established work with them post-Laureateship, which is great.

Find out more about them here.

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I started NaPoWriMo and over the weekend took some of my Napo poems for editing treatment.

I finally got to see Idle Women on tour – it had been nearly a fortnight since I inhabited the world of poetry, due to tiredness I missed 42 at the end of March and had not been out to a poetry gig since Earth Hour.

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It was the 2nd time in as many weeks I had had the pleasure of going out with my mum, we saw the ROH ballet at the Artrix the Tuesday before and then shared Idle Women.

Idle Women is theatre/spoken word/poetry/music, read the review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/not-so-idle-women/

They still have tour dates in May, catch this show if you can. You will not be disappointed.

Week 2

I continued to write a poem a day for NaPoWriMo.

I took the Sculpture Poem Exhibition to the Jinney Ring. It is now on display in the restaurant near the entrance, an entire wall of poetry. They are able to keep it up for the next month and this means that when we have our Hanbury Reading at the Church in May, the poems will still be at the Craft Centre for visitors to go and see. Also I am hoping that this will in turn promote the next Sculpture Trail workshop in September 2018.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/poetry-exhibition-at-the-jinney-ring/

 

 

I started to write copy for the Worcestershire LitFest Festival Programme, the Poet Laureate Review, traditionally this has been half a page, I requested a full page and still edited out over 200 words! I had a lovely evening out with poetry friends.

I had my final workshop at the Basement Project planned and got up early to prep for it, unfortunately it was cancelled as some of the mums who had booked their children onto it were unable to make it. I will hold another Junior workshop in October half term.

I wanted to go to Scary Canary for Permission to Speak as Natalie Burdett – a poetry friend from 2014/15 who is now doing a Phd in Manchester and has just had her pamphlet published by the Poetry Business. http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/natalie-burdett I missed her set and the entire evening as Mr. G was on a course in Worcester and I met up with him afterwards for a Cinema date, we weren’t home in time, plus we had just been on a date. ‘Lovely date, thanks darling – just going out poeting now.’ wouldn’t have gone down too well!

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I missed SpeakEasy which Tony Judge was headlining due to a backlog of work. I am currently writing an evaluation for the WMRN and was prepping for poetry festivals and working on ATOTC.

I am also involved in a poetry/art (PoARTry) project in Ledbury which is being led by Rick Sanders, it is his 2nd time running this project. He partners poets and artists – like the football pools, I was paired with Molly Bythell, a talented young graduate who creates amazing collages and paints in oil. Her work screams story and it has been a great collaboration so far. https://mollybythell.com/

I missed Stanza for the 2nd month (my poor unedited poems) as I was too tired and was actually asleep by 8 PM which would have been rather impolite on someone else’s settee!

I spent my final weekend of freedom with Mr G. and did some work on the house and a little editing on ATOTC. 

Week 3

Full time work (my first time in 5 years) arrived kicking and screaming on my doorstep.

I continued to write a poem a day for NaPoWriMo.

I missed the Me Too event at The Hive, Case Bailey in the Jewellery Quarter, and Sean Colletti at Dear Listener.

Most of my free time in the evening was spent recouping from the day. Emotionally and physically! I managed to write a review for BMAG on the Hackathon experience and started writing my Verve Review for Sabotage. I was also asked to do a Poetry Surgery at the Anchor Gallery in Birmingham as part of the work Nellie Cole is doing there.

I managed to get to Jenna Plewes Book Launch, it was a sunny evening and very pleasant to spend an hour or so listening to her poetry from her new V. Press pamphlet Against the Pull of Timejenna pullI will be writing a review of the Launch in May.

 

 

 

 

 

I had my Sparks Young Writer group (WWM) at The Hive on Saturday which saw the welcome return of members to the group and we were also witness to a group of Librarians helping move a gigantic fish through the ground floor of the library. There was a procession of some sort down to the river, elements of which found there way into our writing.

Week 4

I finally got the European Twin Town project between Droitwich Spa and Voiron off the ground. I had been working on this WPL project since July, mainly at a committee level and like with all these projects it was a slow start, but perseverance pays and by the beginning of 2018 I had a french contact who put me in touch with a poet, Alain Graiz. Alain helped me find other poets from Voiron and by February/ March I had communicated with all involved. Again I had hoped to get the exchange up and running by March.

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I am happy to say that it is now in full swing, some poems have already been exchanged. It is a much smaller project than ATOTC and the full collection of poems should be live before the end of my Laureateship (10th June).

Read more here.

I received news of my Grant Application but have so far been locked out of the system. So I have no idea if my bid was successful yet or not.

I spent the week preparing for Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Bohemian Voices and getting incredibly nervous over the fact I have not performed poetry for a month! That must be the longest length of unintentional abstinence ever! But what I have learnt is it is hard to facilitate projects, write new poetry, edit magazines, teach and still find the time to perform! I needn’t have worried. What I did is over rehearsed and then I don’t think anyone would have thought – she clearly hasn’t read for a month!

I have been doing NaPoWriMo throughout this whole month, occasionally falling behind a few days and playing catch up. To produce 30 poems in a month in no mean feat. I am also working on something more too.

I researched the Nation’s Laureates for a post over at the WPL site for St. George’s Day. https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/st-george-the-poets/

I missed the Bare Fiction Launch and 42 (for the 2nd month running). I wanted to save my energy for Cheltenham Poetry Festival and the last fortnight at work has been exceedingly hard going, so I had little energy to spare to travel to events.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival arrived, funny when you are booked so far in advance it seems forever in the diary as coming up… then suddenly one week it is days to go. I was slightly gutted that I had been invited to do Stablemates with Jill Abram in London and missed it because it was on the same night. Sarah went in my place and it sounds like they had a great time.

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Cheltenham Poetry Festival was excellent, as it always is. Just a shame work meant that I wasn’t able to get to much other than on the day I was booked. Cheltenham Poetry Festival I made it for the Indigo Dreams Showcase which was at the same venue before my Fragile Houses reading. I will write a full review post next month.

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The following evening (events are like buses) I had the pleasure of being one of 5 artists involved in Bohemian Voices, organised and MCed by Steve Soden, he used to run these events in London and the experience at the Jinney Ring was probably as far from his original nights as you can imagine. It was a great night and I will link the review back to this post. (That goes for all the promised reviews of…)

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I had a fantastic evening and was delighted by the surprise appearance of my mum and Aunty.

With little time to recover from a 2 night fix of poetry (which certainly made up for missing a month of it), I had a Book Launch.

This weekend also saw Birmingham Literature Festival Spring Edition, which I totally missed due to bookings and other commitments.

The Book Launch on Saturday was in Walsall at Southcart Books for Diverse Verse 3, a charity anthology edited by Richard Archer, it was a beautifully relaxed event with plenty of opportunity to catch up with friends and Richard, myself and Rick Sanders were interviewed for the West Midlands Magazine, more on that soon I hope. Click the link for the full review.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/diverse-verse-3-charity-anthology-book-launch/

I finally finished the month with a submission – not sent any poems anywhere since March!

I also had to write Q&A for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival – for the promotion and marketing and complete my review of Verve Poetry Festival and my evaluation for WMRN. That is a lot of midnight oil after a day at work!

 

NEXT MONTH:

Priorities in May include: Finishing WPL projects, tying up the reviews for WMRN Reader Residency for Warwickshire Libraries, organising poets for Artsfest events, performing and discussion at Midland Arts Institute, possible participation in a Heritage Project, a workshop with Ash Dickinson, a poetry judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Lauch for How to Grow Matches, being a poet at the Living Library, Headlining Poetry Bites (my first Headline for a while) and more, including new writing and Ledbury Poetry Festival – oh, yes and work!

 

Cheltenham Poetry Festival

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Cheltenham Poetry Festival has an amazing programme of events this year, many of them I have sadly missed as I am back in full time work, however tonight I am there!

Smokey Joes has 3 back to back events this evening:

5 PM

Neil Richards and John Row

Join the ‘bewitching’ (The Independent) John Rowe for an hour of poetry and storytelling with guest Neil Richards. John is renowned for his dramatic and immersive events which offer an entertaining commentary on love, life and politics in modern times.

John is joined by Neil Richards, an exciting new voice on the poetry scene who is gaining a following for his charismatic and powerful performances of dazzlingly original experimental poetry.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival © 2018

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7 PM

Indigo Dreams Showcase

Indigo Dreams Showcase – Chrys Salt, Chris Hardy, Anna Saunders and Amy Kinsman

Indigo Dreams is an award-winning publisher renowned for its beautifully produced collections of contemporary poetry by both new and established writers. The press was voted Most Innovative Publisher 2017 at the annual Saboteur Awards. Join us for a feast of verse as four authors from the press read from their brand-new publications.

Chris Hardy (‘Chris consistently hits the right note’ -(Roger McGough), poet, musician and member of LiTTLe MACHiNe reads from Sunshine At The End Of The World.

Chrys Salt (‘a wonderful and unique poet’ -Bernard Kops), reads from The Punkawallah’s Rope.

Festival Founder and Director Anna Saunders (‘a poet who can surely do anything’ – The North) reads from Ghosting for Beginners.

The showcase also includes a reading by one of the joint winners of the Indigo Dreams 2017 Pamphlet Competition. Amy Kinsman is a multi-published poet and playwright from Manchester.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival © 2018

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9 PM

Nina Lewis – Fragile Houses plus guests + open mic

 

 

Nina Lewis – Fragile Houses

plus guests and Open Mic Readings

‘In our family, minds go missing’. Nina Lewis writes, in one of a series of moving and poignant poems about family life from Fragile Houses (V Press), a pamphlet praised for its ‘tremendous warmth and descriptive power’.

In this highly praised volume Nina Lewis explores the people, places and memories carried through life and deftly examines the human condition through the lens of family relationships.

Nina is joined by Peter McDade – expect deliciously surreal, and thought- provoking poetry from this talented and erudite poet who has drawn comparisons with Ivor Cutler.

This event also includes an open mic. Come and share your poems on the subject of ‘home’.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival © 2018

It is going to be a cracking evening of poetry, so come and join the fun!

Not so Idle Women

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On Saturday night I finally managed to catch the Idle Women Tour, this is a project Heather Wastie has worked on since 2016, I missed the 2017 performances and have been meaning to catch a show ever since!

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The show gained financial support from Arts Council England, which enabled the employment of a Tour Manager, Zoe Hunn and Director, Milla Jackson.

Last Autumn Idle Women featured on BBC Country File, which aired November 12th as part of Remembrance programming.

https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/broadcast/bbc-countryfile/

The Spring Tour started last week with a performance at The Chestnut Inn,  Worcester on Tuesday 3rd April.

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I knew the basic content of the show and have been aware of Heather’s work and some of the poetry. I purposefully didn’t look into the Double Bill and had no idea what to expect from Kate Saffin (other than half the show).

Photographs taken in the first week of the 2017 Tour © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

Kate Saffin took care of the first part of the evening with her theatrical piece about the Idle Women, great story and wonderful portrayal of multiple characters (as a former actress I know how challenging this can be). The story she told was moving and educational. Kate uses simple dramatic devices masterfully in her one woman show.

Kate is a Boater, writer, storyteller and actor, Kate Saffin has lived on a narrowboat and told stories of the waterways as solo plays since 1999. She trained as a writer for stage and broadcast media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (MFA). © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

I regret not speaking to Kate after the show, (I was so excited to see Heather), Kate’s performance was moving. ‘Isobel’s War’ was full of character and story, told in a way with simple props and devices that transported us back in time.

 © 2018 – Alarum Theatre

Heather Wastie gave us the second half of the show. ‘Idle Women’, a performance filled with facts and passion. It was great to watch her perform again. She gave us both songs and poetry and new material to the show.

Heather was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16 and is well known for her interpretations of oral history. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs which she now performs. This work was published in November 2015 by Black Pear Press under the title Weaving Yarns. In 2017 she was commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to compose a children’s song cycle, ‘Loom in the Loft’, to celebrate the restoration of the Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster.

In 2017 she was commissioned to write and perform poems for the popular Nationwide Building Society ad campaign, Voices Nationwide. She has also worked as poet and actor for National Trust property Croome Court in Worcestershire. © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

Heather was also a Guest Poet for INKSPILL (AWF’s Online Writing Retreat) in October 2014.

It was a very factual show both in terms of the waterways and the wartime volunteers.

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© 2017 – Alarum Theatre

I loved discovering how the term ‘Idle Women’ came to be and to hear talk of the Tardebigge Canal (where we took our own poetry adventure on board a narrowboat back in the summer of 2016 – and there were many locks). I have my tiller girl badge to prove it.

This show is a must for Water Dwellers but is just as fun for Land Lovers. I think it appeals to both communities, anyone interested in history, waterways or just looking for a good night out! It is great to have many tour venues on the canal itself. This makes the interval exceptionally special – when you step out and see part of the world the show is all about.

https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/who-were-the-idle-women/

It was quality storytelling and an entertaining, fun evening.

idle 1© 2017 – Alarum Theatre

If you are local enough, I urge you to catch Idle Women. Here is the Tour Schedule https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/2018-tour/2018-tour-dates/ you will not be disappointed!

The Summer Tour will see them travel further North on the Leeds & Liverpool Waterways.

 

Related Resources: IW_National-Service

 

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/our-work/caring-for-our-heritage/heritage-team-blog/heritage-team/idle-women-the-land-girls-of-the-waterways

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-truth-about-the-idle-women-of-the-canals-some-extraordinary-wartime-volunteers-are-together-1531552.html

 

Poetry Exhibition at the Jinney Ring

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