Category Archives: poetry

Don’t Oil The Hinges Heather Wastie’s Book Launch

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Behind every Worcestershire Poet Laureate is a book and 2018 sees the launch of a new one. Heather Wastie was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015-16 and since passing her crown onto Suz Winspear (who in turned passed the crown to me), Heather has been busy touring Idle Women, writing a book of poems for The Ring Project and creating Nationwide adverts… so it is no surprise that this new collection (her 7th book) took a while in the making.

The beautiful cover is designed by Jess Silk.

I was delighted to attend her launch last Saturday 15th September at Park’s Cafe, Droitwich. Apt that we celebrated the launch in the very cafe that features the door which led to the poem/title of the collection. ‘Park’s Cafe Poetry Reading’.

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It was a delightfully fun evening which brought back lots of memories and people. Heather loves to collaborate and I found it particularly touching to see the amount of people in the room who were part of some of the projects touched on in this collection. There were also plenty of ‘Mouth & Music’ friends I hadn’t seen for a while and it lovely catching up and conspiring to do some one off event in 2019.

Knowing Heather and her poetry, I knew we were in for a treat… and I wasn’t wrong! The evening was filled with poetry and music, all of Heather’s Guests had appeared in the book in some way.

After brief introductions from Rod Griffiths & Polly Stretton (Black Pear Press) Heather shared poems from Don’t Oil The Hinges.

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Sharing with us details of where the poems came from, these context introductions are included in her book. She prefaced every poem with ‘I wouldn’t have written this poem if it were not for…’ and when that came round to Chaucer it had us all chortling!

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Heather’s first guest was Sarah Tamar who she used to host Mouth & Music with. We were all delighted to see Sarah again & to hear her poems.

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Then Heather’s Idle Women partner in crime Kate Saffin was next, delivering poetry used in the show (from the Idle Women book), delivered with aplomb. Kate blames Heather for getting her writing poetry. She is a talented Theatre maker and performer.

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Another feature of a Black Pear Press Launch is the author Q&A, hosted by Tony Judge. His wicked sense of humour left us all aghast as he asked Heather who her favourite collaborator was, we knew he was joking… it was a magical moment when Heather answered. We also heard about her writing process, other work she has been involved in and future plans.

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Following an interval we had music from Dave Sutherland, he had set Heather’s poem ‘Carrying the Evening Home’ to music – it was a great sing along and we got to hear one of his own songs too.

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Then Sunny Ormonde, an actor from The Archers performed Heather’s poem ‘Dad Was A Fan of The Archers’, which she performs in her one-woman show.

“Needing a poem about local life for my show at Bewdley Festival I discovered Heather’s wonderfully funny poems on line. Immediately smitten, I contacted her and was over the moon when she kindly offered to write a special poem for the show and Dad was a fan of The Archers was born. Nothing could have been more perfect—it was a huge hit and continues to be so.” – Sunny Ormonde

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Then Emma Purshouse closed the evening with a brilliant set including a poem she had written about the Canal for Heather & Kate to use in Idle Women. Her performance of it moved the room, we were all in that water. This poem will be included in Emma’s next book.

Exceptional!

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A well oiled (unlike Paul’s door) and relaxing evening. A most enjoyable launch and I now have my own copy of Heather’s latest book of poems.

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Find out more about this collection and treat yourself to a copy here https://blackpear.net/authors-and-books/heather-wastie/dont-oil-the-hinges/

black pearPublished by Black Pear Press.

Book Launch: Unable Mother by Helen Calcutt

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Described as a ‘violent grapple with our cosy notions of motherhood’ (Robert Peake)  this bold and breathtaking new book of poems exposes the painful and the beautiful experience  of becoming a new mother, torch-lit with violent and tender experience, sung from the body, and cast through a unique metaphoric lens.
This promises to be an unforgettable evening, celebrating themes of womanhood, transformation, and new life.

 

A much awaited Book Launch happened this month. Helen Calcutt’s first collection UNABLE MOTHER published by V. Press was launched at Waterstones, Birmingham.

I have heard Helen read from Unable Mother several times and was looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. The journey to Birmingham was epic with several issues that had occurred earlier in the day, trains were not running well. We waited on a platform for nearly an hour. By the time we arrived in Birmingham it felt like we should have least made it to Manchester!

I was delighted to see lots of familiar faces and the room was buzzing with pre-launch excitement. Helen had some 90s pop quietly playing in the background and everyone was settling in ready to hear some stunning poetry.

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The evening was hosted by Gavin, who is a Storyteller but he still treated us to a poem.

Helen invited Guest Poets Nellie Cole, Isabel Galleymore, Claire Walker and David Calcutt to read during the first part of the evening. Each poet read 3 or 4 poems which was enough to catch the flavour of their writing and leave the audience wanting more.

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Nellie Cole

I first heard Nellie at Stirchley Speaks a few years ago and thought how confident she was back then, how grounded her work is. I am delighted that I have heard some of the poems in her debut pamphlet in genesis form. I find it fascinating following the progress through to end results. ‘Bella’ is published by Offa’s Press.

http://offaspress.co.uk/poets/nellie-cole/

Nellie is from the Black Country and started writing poetry when she studied at Birmingham University.

Bella is … a work which blends factual evidence with folklore, superstition, hearsay and the imagination, these poems explore the Worcestershire murder mystery ‘Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?’

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The book table at Helen’s Launch generously featured her Guest Poets, I needed more than my train fare and money for Unable Mother. I had hoped to catch Nellie performing at Permission to Speak on the 12th but due to work commitments was not able to make it. Bella is a book destined for my reading pile.

You can grab yourselves a copy here http://offaspress.co.uk/shop/

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Isabel Galleymore

I was really excited to hear Isabel’s set as I had not heard her read before. I have read her work, several poems are published on the Poetry Foundation website. She also won the Eric Gregory Award in 2017.

Isabel shared a beautiful set, her poetry draws the listener in. I definitely wanted to hear more.

Isabel’s first collection ‘Significant Other’ will be out next year (March 2019) published by Carcanet. Until then copies of Dazzle Ship published by Worple Press can be found here.

http://www.worplepress.com/dazzle-ship/

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Claire Walker

Claire Walker is a poet I know well, having met her on my first adventure as a poet back in September 2013, she is a good friend and a fellow V. Press poet and it is always a pleasure to listen to her work.

Her debut pamphlet ‘The Girl Who Turned Into a Crocodile’ (V. Press 2015) has sold out, but the poems in those covers remain strong. I was so glad she shared ‘Teaching Your Daughter to Crack Eggs’. Claire’s second pamphlet ‘Somewhere Between Rose and Black’ (2017) published by V. Press was available on the book table.

You can get a copy here http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.com/2017/12/launching-somewhere-between-rose-and.html

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David Calcutt

Three marvellous sets by three amazing poets and I thought it would be Helen next. Then we were introduced to David Calcutt who after his set was then to introduce Helen.

I had not expected David to be reading and was very happy when I discovered he was. It was a captivating set. He read from his latest collection ‘The last of the light is not the last of the light’, published by Fair Acre Press which launched earlier this year. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/06/30/a-night-of-light/

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You can buy a copy here https://fairacrepress.co.uk/shop/david-calcutt-the-last-of-the-light-is-not-the-last-of-the-light/

 

 

 

 

As a daughter of a musician (and an ‘in the shadow of’ musician) I understand the need for a daughter of a writer/poet to want to feel she has established herself without standing on the shoulders of her father. Helen has definitely done that and I was touched by her metaphorical sigh of relief. Her first collection now published she could confidently invite David to be part of the Launch.

Even if David was aware he may be sounding like Father of the Bride in introducing us to her.

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Helen Calcutt

Like Claire, I have known Helen for a while and always enjoy listening to her work. I had the pleasure of hearing a set from Unable Mother at David’s Launch back in June and had heard some of the poems from the collection at other events. But this evening I was buying my own copy.

Hearing some of the poems for a second or third time works for me, because like a good film you notice something else. Something new. When I read poetry books it is not unusual for me to read a poem twice. Of course, in an extended set Helen shared more poems than I had heard and also the stories woven into the poems. How poems written for one thing take on significant and different meanings because of her experiences since.

She even shared the stories behind the magnificent cover.

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Helen Calcutt

It was a very moving set and left a few of us in tears. Helen trusted us enough to expose parts of her life on a soul level, it was painfully honest. The poems speak this honesty, this undoing of secrets, uncovering the things we don’t talk about, the experiences we hide – it all holds importance.

As Robert Peake says in his endorsement: “This work challenges our abstract and cosy notions of motherhood with a brutal and vulnerable delve into the psyche.” 

Helen’s set was brave and touching.

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An excellent evening and a wonderful book launch and a fine celebration with cake, wine and book signings afterwards.

Unable Mother Calcutt 978-1-9998444-0-0 You can buy a copy here

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.com/p/unable-mother.html and also read a sample poem and hear Soundcloud audio of a selection of poems from the book.

“This work challenges our abstract and cosy notions of motherhood with a brutal and vulnerable delve into the psyche. Calcutt grapples, sometimes violently, sometimes with aching tenderness, each hard-won line ‘like squeezing / flesh and fruit from the bone, / this terrible love’. Yet these poems reach even further, into the rent world, and the remarkable kinds of beauty to which poetry alone can allude. This is an intimate book, the kind that comes in close to your ear to whisper dark secrets and unavoidable truths. These poems are spare, careful, insistent–and devastatingly good.” Robert Peake

“Helen Calcutt’s poems are full of surprising and intricate moments – they unfold like origami, deftly packing and unpacking themselves into new forms and presenting the reader with confidences, secrets and insight, the tender words for the things that are hard to say. In their explorations of motherhood, loss and discovery, Calcutt’s poetry is steeled with precise language, always finding clarity forged in the heart of experience.  These are intimate poems which are felt in the body, and written with a keen physicality – ‘love is meant to live on in the body’ writes Calcutt, ‘My flesh making heaven of it.’ In their makings and re-makings, each poem here reveals this to be a remarkable and potent debut.” Jane Commane

https://helencalcutt.org/

 

Stuart Bartholomew Waterstones Regional Manager is a huge supporter of Poetry (as well as co-director of Verve Poetry Festival and Verve Poetry Press) and he made sure this evening was smooth and possible, so I think he deserves some poetry thanks and praise too!

Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop at the Jinney Ring

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It is time for the Annual Sculpture Trail at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre in Hanbury. This is the 13th Trail and my 2nd year of offering a writing workshop linked to the sculptures.

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One of my first jobs when I got back from Australia was to arrange a meeting, having secured the repeat workshop back in April.

It was also my first chance to visit this year’s trail and I spent a good hour taking photos and scribbling notes. There is always a preview of the Trail and I would have liked to have been available to attend but I was some 40,000 feet in the clouds at the time.

This year they have an added area, The Secret Garden and the work in there will take your breath away!

As with every year a range of Local and National Sculptors are exhibiting on the trail and the work is for sale. There are several pieces which would look great in our garden!

So come and join us and get creative.

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There will be cake!

Last year was great fun and we had an exhibition in the Restaurant for 3 months which was read by a LOT of people.

The writing activities/workshop content is different from last year – as are the sculptures, so if this was something you enjoyed last year I would encourage you to come again. The workshop is suitable for writers of all abilities.

There will be no pressure to read your work during the workshop and you will have a while to edit and redraft poems before they are displayed. The exhibiting of the work this year will be at no cost to the poets (it wasn’t last year either) and it is a chance for people to access and read your work who may otherwise not do so.

As with last year, a reading of our Sculpture Trail poems will be organised in the Spring.

Contact me for details ninalewisnal[at]gmailDOTcom

Here are some photos from the Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop 2017.

Enjoying the Guided Tour of the Trail with some time to write whilst outside with the sculptures.

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Getting creative, responding to activities in the workshop.  WP_20180427_001

Our Poetry Exhibition in the Jinney Ring Restaurant.

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Our Bank Holiday Reading in 2018 at the Church in Hanbury.

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.

Flashback May: ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’ 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

Friday 18 May, 6pm in the Studio at The Hive

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Back in May I was fortunate enough to attend Katy Wareham Morris’s Book Launch for her debut collection ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’. The collection is published by experimental, Bristol-based publisher, Hesterglock.

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Katy is a writer and lecturer in Media and Culture, based in the West Midlands, UK. She has a particular interest in gender and queer studies, identity politics and digital humanities. Her debut pamphlet was a poetry duet entitled, Inheritance published by Mother’s Milk Books and was launched at Ledbury Poetry Festival (2017). It went on to win ‘Best Collaborative Work’ at this year’s Saboteur Awards.

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Her poems have also featured in the webzines I am not a silent poet and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Katy is also the Birmingham, UK Branch Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, of which she was a founding member.

cutting 2Hesterglock specifically asked for feminist poetry in the submission call and Katy gave them that and more. Here is what she says about the ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’.

This collection is a collage of womxn’s voices, attempting to call time on the ‘female’ identities attributed to women by patriarchal  culture. The poetry is personal, political and provocative.

I am incredibly proud of this collection, which I have been working on for some years now. It is informed by my own love of poetry, which began with the Romantics -Wordsworth, Keats and Blake – when I was a child, to the Modernists, particularly HD, and the Beats, namely Diane di Prima whom I discovered as part of my Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree courses. It also reflects my appreciation of pop culture and the research I have undertaken in gender studies and identity politics. There were many times when I thought this poetry was too controversial or risky to ever be published. I persevered to prove to myself, if no one else, that womxn can fight for an equal place in this society, and that we have many different, equally valuable stories to share. © https://katywarehammorris.com/

Katy was joined by Guest Poets Kathy Gee, Holly Magill & Claire Walker.

WP_20180518_002It was a terrific, uplifting evening and a warmly received launch. There are striking poems in this collection. See for yourselves – order a copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes We Cant -PPP, Rob Barratt and Me Somewhere in the Middle of it All as the Half-ender!

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Yes We Cant was back after a summer break. It marks my final booking this side of National Poetry Day – I guess I have to get proactive. I have never gone in search of gigs before, but after 4 years I may have to.

There were new t-shirts, bags of cooking apples, bottles of Rhubarb and Custard cider and lots of poems!

It was a brilliant night and worth every minute of motorway nightmare (roadworks). The night was MCed by Steve Pottinger & Dave Pitt, there were lots of open mic and a good mix of poets, one first timer who nervously took to the stage. She was fab and also won the Poetry Competition.

Yes We Cant is always a fantastic night. It takes place upstairs at The Pretty Bricks Pub in a room which is always hot with energy & words.

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PPP – Steve Pottinger, Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse (reading the winning poem).

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The exceptional performers on the Open Mic.

Yes We Cant always have a Headliner and a Half-ender. I was delighted when Emma asked me to be the September Half-ender and it also guaranteed I used my return ticket from Australia. I did a set from Fragile Houses, a couple of new ones (including one I wrote during Aaron Lee’s Workshop in Perth) and an old, old one.

It was lovely to chat to people in the interval and I think the mix of poems I chose from humorous to heart-tugging went down well.

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Rob Barratt finished the night with an incredible set. He was entertaining and even got the room singing a selection of popular songs, no easy feat… but of course Walsall was up for it! I love watching performers I have not have the pleasure of meeting before and this was no exception.

I now have Rob’s book to re-read the poems he performed at a powerful pace, at leisure and he really hit the nail on the head with his poem about Education and ‘Distressed’.

Here’s an interview with Dave & Rob.

Rob Barratt who was a bag of awesome wrapped in a bow of wonder. – Dave Pitt

http://www.robbarratt.co.uk/

I also received received a PPP lotto ticket and won! £1.00 – but as Emma pointed out I could buy another ticket!

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Walsall, you were wonderful – thanks for having me!

And just to put the scratchcards in context… here’s the 1st Birthday Party clip!

Cheltenham & Big White Shed Brum

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Stewart

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

Stephen Daniels 

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

Nina Lewis


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

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

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

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

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

https://baileysrapandpoetry.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Flurry of Poetry – Open Mic, Workshop, Stanza

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As I am gearing up for Australia I am winding down other poetry activities apart from the desk-bound art of actually writing.

There are however, a few events still in the diary and the end of July saw Poetry Bites, a workshop in Stratford-Upon Avon and a Stanza meeting before it ground to a halt – where I had blanked out days to ensure that all my paperwork, adventure shopping, packing and performance/workshop preparation is in place.

I thoroughly enjoyed Headlining the bi-monthly Poetry Bites event in May and was looking forward to seeing Holly Daffurn and Jonathan Edwards perform.

It was a wonderful evening in a packed out Kitchen Garden Cafe. I am always delighted when friends discover poets I know and hear/see how good their work is.

As a Costa Award Winning Poet Jonathan Edwards wowed the room. (Some of us already knew he would.)

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Holly Daffurn Headlined with a POWER set! She went on to win the Oooh Beehive Slam at the Blue Orange Theatre in Birmingham a couple of nights later as well.  WP_20180724_004.jpg

It was a fabulous night and my final open mic before I whizz off around the world.

Remaining photos © Elaine Christie

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Rodger D’boer

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Maggie Doyle

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Neil Richards

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Anne Hodnette

Anne Hodnette

Al Barz

Al Barz

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Clive Oseman

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Matt Nunn

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Then our first headliner – Jonathan Edwards

 

 

Matt Nunn and Elaine Christie have done a sterling job taking over Poetry Bites from Jacqui Rowe. It is always lovely to see the venue full and this evening certainly pulled the crowds in.

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Andrew Barnes

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Mickey Ali

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Nigel Hutchinson

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Nina Lewis

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Mike Alma

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Gerald Kells

Liz Jolly

Liz Jolly

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Ruth Williams

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The evening ended with Holly Daffurn Headlining.

It was definitely an action packed poetry evening, sometimes it can feel overwhelming listening to this many acts, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

 

Following this event my next was a workshop where we looked at Travel – an apt theme, especially as I plan to work on a book during my 20 hour lay over! Which is fortunately on the return journey. That’s the thing with travelling so far you lose 4+ days just getting there and back!

 

I finished my poetry diary with a Stanza meeting which was a great evening. Lots of exciting news to come from this.

 

The final, FINAL poetry outing is the  4th August for the Cat Rescue Anthology Launch. Then Australia… I am coming to see you!

Review July 2018

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July

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Photo by Natalie on Pexels.com

 

Week 1:

July – the season of Festivals. Ledbury Poetry Festival (30th June – 8th July) kicked off with a weekend of events I had hoped to manage. Work has been exceptionally busy and I have grabbed any time I can at the weekend to just recoup a little. My Ledbury Saturday (which was also a reason I couldn’t make this year’s National Writing Conference) was much diminished.

Sunday saw the morning at Evesham Festival of Words and Polly Stretton’s final Poetry Walk Event. It was lovely that she acknowledged those of us who have managed all three of these. It was also great that I had time to stay for the extra reading which takes place in the Almonry Gardens after the walk. http://www.almonryevesham.org/

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/evesham-festival-of-words/

I booked events for the Autumn and promoted several current projects. I also started firming up plans for Australia and the Perth Poetry Festival in August.

On Tuesday I went to Ledbury to the Homend Poets – who were launching the 11th anthology and a small collective of PoARTry poets promoted the Launch (11th) by reading some of our exhibited poetry. It was a great night – slightly soured by the M50 slip roads being closed for Roadworks and adding time onto my journey home. I had recorded the match (World Cup) and had to avoid using the radio and sadly, the 1.5 hour round the rigging route home meant I was met by revellers leaving the pub and rather giving the result away! I did witness an amazing sunset with the Malvern Hills which I would have missed if the roads had been open.

I managed to secure at least one musician for our Launch event. Bonus.

Much as I wanted to go to Ledbury for Pascale Petit and Tishani Doshi*  I had no energy after work for a mid-week jaunt across for an hour. *Tishani was part of the inspiration behind one poem in my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’.

I also wanted to go back the following evening to see Martin Figura –Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine. I spent a few days buckling down promoting events and organising shows and magazines from my desk in the evenings.

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The week finished with a rehearsal for our poetry show 30-40-60. Which was brilliant and made the three of us want to do this show again. None of us can quite believe it has been a year since the premiere event at Worcestershire LitFest 2017!

 

Week 2

Much as the first week of the month work kept me busy with report writing and assessments. I received an exciting invitation for November, more news on that once plans get firmed up.

My main focus was PoARTry at Ledbury. We had our launch night on Wednesday 11th July (another England World Cup game… this time slightly given away by the raucous cheers from the pub next door)!

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© Rick Sanders

It was a great event, mainly the Artists and Poets attended but some of us brought guests so there was an audience. The Exhibition itself did really well.

A more detailed review can be found here.

Thursday saw Ben Banyard Headline SpeakEasy in Worcester, a poet (from our 52 gang) who I wanted to meet and hear in person. It was a great evening in a new venue and the first time this event has been hosted outside. The garden was set for a wedding the next day and was beautiful. It was a fun night! Read more here.

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© Kathy Gee

Friday saw a staff meal (nice to be invited) and then Saturday there was a workshop I wanted to attend in Walsall but after a full week of work and 3 nights out on the trot I needed a breather before Charley Barnes’ Book Launch in the evening.

a z hearted Launch

I was delighted to be a Guest Poet alongside Claire Walker, Sarah Leavesley and Holly Magill. As it fell during Droitwich Artsfest they advertised it as an Artsfest event. It was well attended and an exceptional evening. A pleasure to welcome Charley to the V. Press family. Read more about this sparkling evening here

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

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I had the day off on Sunday – except I didn’t – I spent 6 hours sorting and editing film for our 30-40-60 performance. As well as working on a current Stanza project, sorting Issue 4 of Contour and organising paperwork for the trip to Australia.

 

Week 3 

On Monday night I spent another 5 hours in the cutting room, editing the new film for our event the next day.

On Tuesday 17th July Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself performed 30-40-60 in St. Andrew’s Church as part of the Artsfest. We had a small but mighty audience, it was a wonderful evening and lovely to hear people on the Open Mic and see poets visit Droitwich for the first time. Lots of people commented on the venue and of course the show.

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Read more about it here.

Also if you missed it – there is a review here. With thanks to Mad Hatter Reviews.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/30-40-60-performance-review/

One of the exciting things about an International Guest Poet is I get to attend plenty of workshops throughout the festival. I have had the schedule for a few months but now the programme is out was able to book into them. I am as excited about this as I am about being part of Perth Poetry Festival!

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I also had more exciting news – again under wraps for now.

Work finished – another splatter of excitement after a 3 month lock in! It was lovely working with such a great team. As everyone met in the pub to celebrate I stayed in and got an early night because my weekend was a wild one! Poetry WILD that is!

ArtsFest traditionally have a poetry day and for the past 2 years I have had the honour of organising it!

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We started at 2 PM with Poetry in the Square – my guests this year were John Mills and Liz Mills, two poets I met through 52. They put me up for the night before Stafford Festival – it was a welcome return to Stone for me – I lived there for a few years – and we have been friends ever since!

They are also brilliant poets and between us we managed the 2 hour stint in town.

Then I rushed off to Worcester to Guest Poet at Kieran Davies’ Book Launch for Legacy, published by Black Pear Press. Which was a great event, a true celebration – read more about it here.

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Then back to Park’s Cafe for Poetry Extravaganza and the first UK reading of ATOTC. It was a delightful evening of poetry.

ATOTC ME © Rhys Jones – Droitwich Arts Network

Read about it in full here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/artsfest-2/

 

Week 4

At this point my diary suggested (because I pencilled it in – in May), taking the first 2 weeks of my summer holiday off from poetry events and prepare for Australia… to a certain extent I have missed events I would have otherwise attended, but as always there were some which slipped through that I couldn’t possibly miss.

The week started in Ledbury collecting work from the Exhibition. PoARTry was a great project and I know I will be staying in touch with my artist, Molly Bythell.

I got everything organised for my trip except money and mini-toiletries! It took a while to find cabin luggage small enough for the airline restriction and a while longer after that to choose just 1 piece! I also invested in a large but extremely lightweight suitcase… mine date back to when wheels were first introduced and the handle extends only 6 cm from the corner… they work like a supermarket trolley with a wonky wheel and have mainly been used for storage. Travelling with soft bags and backpack ever since! However, I am not backpacking and the last time I used that on Long Haul it caused a few problems, so decided to do the respectable suitcase thing!

Tuesday saw Poetry Bites at the Kitchen Garden Cafe with Jonathan Edwards and Holly Daffurn headlining. 

Thursday I was in Stratford at a workshop and Friday I went to Stanza, where there was even more exciting news.

A flurry of poetry-Poetry Bites-workshop-stanza

HEX

This weekend I received my copy of Hex – by Jennie Farley, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Jennie was kind enough to ask me for an endorsement. It is the third book I have endorsed and it was a pleasure reading it. It is a mesmerising collection and I look forward to the official Launch in December!

Hex – Jennie Farley IDP

I also approached Guest Writers for this year’s INKSPILL online writing retreat and both have confirmed (exciting), so I spent a little time on this promotional film to encourage you to book it into your diaries NOW!

Find out more INKSPILL 2018.

I am now spending the rest of the month working on 3 writing projects, editing and organising myself ready for Perth!

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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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© 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.

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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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© 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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© Nina Lewis

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

ATOTC DEREK

© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Derek Littlewood with Rodger Martin

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Io Osborn with Kyle Potvin

ATOTC LIZ

© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Liz Parkes with Eve Rifkah

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Stevie Quick with Claire Mowbray Golding

ATOTC POLLY

© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

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!