Category Archives: Poetry Performance

Flashback Summer (June)

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Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

For some reason I attempted Yoga again this month, Lockdown has made us all a little crazy, I think I did a fusion of Yoga and Pilates, basically the warm up and then filled in most of the class with exercise my back could manage.

I saw my first human being other than my mum and Mr G. since the beginning of Lockdown. It was my eldest nephew’s birthday. I stood in the garden, he stayed inside. It was the hardest not-hug to give/not give. Delighted I saw him. He couldn’t believe he was only the 3rd person I had seen since the end of March! By the end of the month I shared garden coffee with a few friends.

My actual travel/ life may have diminished to something which resembled 2019 (without the pain) but my screen life was exploding. I stretched my Zoom poetry wings further into Australia, out to New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, America and Coventry – if you have ever driven the route from here you will understand why I include that UK destination in amongst my international travel. Other local events found the wonders of Zoom and FB and moved events online. Library services also extended online content.

Poetry and writing has gone Global this year, writing is also (like baking, making sourdough, planting, painting and photography) one of the hobbies/ escapes people turned to. Even people who never appeared online have probably scribbled journals or feelings down at some points in this Lockdown. There have been wonderful local/ national/ international community projects popping up all over the place. Letter writing has become fashionable again, or at least it did before people realised the dangers of post. The world has creatively adapted. We have held each other (metaphorically) up in a year that made us all feel like we no longer had bones!

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

The other thing which began to take seed was the funding artists had applied for through the Arts Council. With this emergency funding came a flurry of projects and workshops. Funding was also received from other revenue sources.

PPP (Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists) celebrated the Black Country/ Lockdown and isolation with Stay Up Your Own End – which offered people both a microscopic and magnified view of their locales as seen through the eyes of people with pens. It encouraged people who had never written before or never openly written before to pick up a pen and write. It was set up as a round of competitions, prizes included a video film produced & £25.

The judges/prompt writers for each round were local favourites of the Black Country poetry scene Richard Archer, Rick Sanders, Roy McFarlane, Kuli Kohli, and Heather Wastie.

PPP were commissioned by Creative Black Country to run a series of online poetry activities across the region.

Read more about it here: https://www.pandemonialists.co.uk/stay-up-your-own-end/

Louise Stokes provided bi-weekly writing classes under the ‘Let’s Write’ project. http://www.louiseland.co.uk/

I did workshops with Anna Saunders, Adam Horovitz, Liam Brown, Zena Edwards and joined Malika Speaks and Poets In Motion. I went to Book launches including The Estate Agent’s DaughterRhian Edwards (Seren), Wild PersistenceKatrina Naomi (Seren), Pack of LiesRoz Levens (Black Pear Press)

More Festivals and Events: ART IS… Festival, Trim (Ireland), Own It! Online Festival, Wirral Poetry Festival, Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Kit De Waal Creative Writing Wonder Women, Ledbury Poetry Salon with Philip Gross & Lesley Saunders. Sarah L. Dixon moved The Quiet Compere online and created a series of reunion shows. I made video poems for Wordcraft, PASTA, performed at Fire & Dust, 42, That Poetry Zoom, Perth Poetry Club, Poets’ Cafe and watched Dear Listener. Oooh Beehive, Run Your Tongue, Yes We Cant and others. Room 204 continued to support us with opportunities.

Personal highlights for the month (other than braving the company of friends) were:

A reading for the end of Writing to Buoy Us – Reading to Buoy Us with Cath Drake. The courses drew both established and new poets in from across the world.

Read all about it at Cath’s website here.

It was an uplifting event which featured both class groups and Australian poet Mark Tredinnick as the Guest Reader.

Writing and creativity are how most of us are continuing to process this pandemic 6 months later, the connectivity shared at this time was invaluable. It was special.

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Poetry Film Live Relaunched their website and featured one of my animated Poetry Renewed Films ‘Tailspin’ to Launch it. Like every business Elephant’s Footprint have adapted during this pandemic and shifted their courses online.

Exciting talks started with the committee about moving WLF online, we were holding off in the hope the postponed annual festival (mid-June) could be pushed back to early Autumn, by this time it became apparent that Covid was going to be with us for some time.

I took part in my first online SLAM (I don’t really do the SLAM poet thing but this was in Australia and I couldn’t resist). My poems appeared in the keepsake gift book the Art Is Festival released.

I wrote down submission opportunities and promptly missed the deadlines. Seems like I have the horse ready but a little unsure of getting back on!

Flashback Spring (March)

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Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

March Lockdown was only a week – but those 7 days felt like a lifetime!

I was one of the many people who actually found life online a blessing, it was a way of staying connected during Lockdown and after a week I realised the Writing Community had gone full throttle into Teams, Crowdcast, Webinar platforms, Zoom (of course) and suddenly INSTA and FB were brimming with events, workshops, performances and festivals. I was a little slower to fill my diary as I was adjusting and juggling concerns for family, finances, future etc. (as we all were).

I realised having suffered depression and my year of incapacity last year (where I couldn’t be online for 6 months due to not being able to concentrate/focus/work/ use a desk/chair and was off social media for a while longer as by the time I finally reached the desk the manuscript was 5 months overdue an edit)! That this online connection is essential for some of us.

It was also a blessing as my body had time to heal, I wasn’t running ragged or trying to push driving distances. I also hadn’t found a solid way back into the poetry community after a year away. This exodus online, bridged that gap and gave me the ability to travel again – although it was a while (months) before I realised international waters were open!

I didn’t leave my home territory for the first month of lockdown and after that was only brave enough for one nature walk a week (it was still restricted back then that you can’t drive to walk and we live in an urban area), there are trees lining the dual carriageway, but we have a garden so I sat with nature rather than walking.

Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com

Looking back, I knew even then it was a gift that we had Lockdown in the Spring, for much of the world it wasn’t as warm or abundant with nature. A few months into lockdown I was one of two people wearing a mask to supermarket shop and only once or twice a month. Mr G. had to work throughout lockdown so there was always a possibility even when I was keeping myself from the world. So thank goodness for life online.

Of course there were strains and worries, fears and concerns, waking every day for months… well we all lived it right, it has been tough financially and I know people who were very ill with Coronavirus. I am choosing not to address it in these posts (other than excusing myself for not mentioning it in this first one).

At first my online meets were just for virtual coffees and a few regular events I attend which had moved online. I want to give a big shout out to Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists https://www.pandemonialists.co.uk a.k.a. Emma Purshouse, Steve Pottinger and Dave Pitt who have grown to adapt to many platforms this year but immediately moved events online and were making them fully accessible no matter what your situation, lots of hard work.

© 2018 Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists.

I am delighted that after putting the hours in and giving so generously they have maintained working status with lots of projects online. They always are busy people and it doesn’t look like they are about to let a pandemic stop that ethic!

Polly Stretton immediately moved 42 online, a regular event in Worcester that we have been enjoying on Zoom since March.

I was writing for a Worcester Cathedral Poetry Project, organised by their poet in residence, Amanda Bonnick.

And then Carolyn Jess-Cooke gave us the STAY AT HOME FESTIVAL – https://stayathomelitfest.co.uk/about/ the first in a long line of festivals online – it was brilliant and on a massive scale and conceived (as many things are) on Twitter.

I unfortunately missed the call (as I was working F/T until lockdown) but I attended most of the festival weekend and was lucky enough to be one of the showcase poets.

I will write an entire post about the festival, I was hugely grateful and it was also the beginning of filling my notebooks – (2 over this weekend), avoiding household chores and unpacking boxes!

National Poetry Day 2020

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Happy National Poetry Day! I hope you find some good words to dive into today.

Here’s a small guide to places you can spend some time in. Enjoy!

The main website for National Poetry Day is worth a good look around, but in case you are snatching a poem on your lunch break or pressed for time, I have selected some options.

36 Poems to read

Articles National Poetry Day

Poetry Recommendations

Poetry Archive

7 poems to listen to.

There are plenty of events happening online, nearly all are ticketed, some are free and there are lots of poetry take overs across social media platforms.

An exciting aspect of this year’s NPD is we are no longer bound by Geography – look beyond your region, spread the poetry love!

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You could treat yourself and listen to Poet Laureate Simon Armitage reading in Dove Cottage (Wordsworth). This is a ticketed event.

https://wordsworth.org.uk/blog/events/simon-armitage-in-dove-cottage/

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm BST

Tickets £7; £5 to current supporters of the Wordsworth Trust.

Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is an award-winning poet, playwright and novelist. In 2010 he was awarded the CBE for services to poetry and in 2019 he was appointed Poet Laureate. This year we have invited him to take over Dove Cottage for an exclusive performance of his own poetry, bringing to life the house that Wordsworth lived in 200 years ago.

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Or you could just find a quiet spot, take a book off the shelf and indulge in a read, or grab a notebook and pen and have a write.

Between 2013-2018 I offered an annual writing retreat here on AWF. Over the 6 years of INKSPILL we had various guest poets gift us writing prompts, I have included a couple in this selection.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/inkspill-2018-picture-prompts/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/inkspill-2018-writing-activity/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/inkspill-guest-poet-stephen-daniels-workshop-exercise/

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Worcestershire LitFest 2020 The Launch

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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!

Flashback – An Exhibition in London

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Last year’s missing bits in Flashback posts.

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By the summer I had secured a project I could work on (even in the state I was in) and I started to think about new writing. It had been a while, my Stanza meeting efforts were old poems saved in files on the laptop. I wanted to write again, the urge came a long while before the possibility – and like any writer I know one of the best ways to guarantee work is to find a deadline and write to it.

So I started looking for opportunities and found a call out for the Asking For It project curated by Chloë Clarke and Gabby Ellison. 

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We are the ‘Asking for it’ exhibition. Our aim is to create a place for people to share and feel and come together over adversity. Through expression of art – in a variety of mediums such as film, photography, poetry, art and sound – the exhibition will take the viewer on a journey from the beginning to recovery and survival.

The exhibition not only looks at the experiences of the survivor but the societal judgements and miseducation around the topic of sexual abuse/violence. We believe that art is a powerful tool to express and empower artists and viewers, while educating those who have not experienced this.

I made a poetry film and submitted some poems. My poetry was accepted.

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Unfortunately I was not able to read at the gallery opening as my physical health made it impossible to travel to London.

Private Gallery Exhibition Opening and Performances 23rd October.

 

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It was a brave and successful exhibition. Here are some more photos from the opening night.

A good project to be part of.

National Poetry Day 2018 ~ Change

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It’s nearly here!

This year I have been invited to perform on National Poetry Day as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival.

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I performed as part of Credo last year at Elmslie House and it is a lovely venue. This year five Poets Laureate, including this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti, will be performing on 4th October. This event was organised by Tim Cranmore.

Autumn In Malvern Festival

The Autumn in Malvern Festival is a renowned series of artistic events & exhibitions held annually in the surroundings of the glorious Malvern Hills. Some of the most prestigious musicians, poets, writers, film makers and other artists perform during Autumn every year.

More information on Autumn Malvern Festival.

This video is from 2009 and includes Peter Smith – Artistic Director & Founder.

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This year’s beautiful design is the work of Chie Hosaka.

https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/free-education-resource-downloads/

This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change

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A Tale of Two Cities Massachusetts

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I am ridiculously excited by this, one week to go before the American Reading of A Tale of Two Cities Project at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts.

47 poets in Worcester UK and Worcester MA USA were paired up and each partnership wrote call and response poems which were then collated into a Special Edition of the online Poetry Magazine Contour.

In July we had the inaugural UK reading at Park’s Cafe as part of the Artsfest event ‘Poetry Extravaganza’. Both this event and the USA one were planned in June.

ATOTC UK READING

Photography ©Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network.

We had 9 poets from the 24 UK poets reading both their own poems and those from their partners. It was a true celebration of the project and it was lovely to hear people talk about their experience of the partnering. One thing we all acknowledge is poems existing which otherwise wouldn’t and the pleasure of working with Poets based in Worcester, MA.

You can read more about Artsfest and our ATOTC reading here.

 

Our American poets were pooled from the Worcester County Poetry Association with support from Bob Gill and Rodger Martin. They will be reading their poems and the response poems from the UK will be read by Brian Evan-Jones.

Brian is a touring artist with both the Maine and New Hampshire Arts Councils and was the former Poet Laureate of Hampshire, England. He currently resides in Kittery, Maine, and received his MFA at the University of New Hampshire where he studied with former U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic.


 

The Transatlantic Project was part of my Laureate Legacy. You can read more about it here.

History of the Transatlantic Poetry Project 

A Tale of Two Cities

 

The Beginning

Special Edition Magazine

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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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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© Nina Lewis

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Terry Baldock

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Io Osborn

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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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© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Nina Lewis with Linda Warren

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© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

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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