It was a fantastic night and I felt like ‘Christmas Eve’, the next morning it felt like a dream. The morning after felt whimsical and I had to pinch myself to tell that I was awake. This is how a great book launch should feel.
I cannot believe I didn’t blog it straight away, that I didn’t show you all how I felt. That you have had to wait two months for this post.
There was a lot to do before the event and next year I will be blogging about this side of things as I found, through countless hours of research a gap on the practicalities of organising launch events.
I got to Birmingham with a travel bag of books. I was a bag of nerves, but fortunately had Maggie Doyle and Spoz with me, taking my mind off it.
I wish I had taken a photo of the room and another of the audience. When I stepped into the space, my breath was taken away. We had four comfy, green chairs ready for us at the front (Hays Festival style staging) and more chairs had to be put out for the audience, always a good sign. There were over 25 people there and I was delighted that family and friends had also come to support me. There were three audience members who had seen the advertising and turned up for a free night of poetry and one of them kindly bought my book. So I was able to tick off the unwritten checklist of selling the book to a stranger on the evening of it launching. Happy dance.
I had asked for Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker to come and read at the event. Claire started proceedings with a lovely set. I have always been a fan of her poetry (and Roy’s and Antony’s) – one of the many reasons I asked if they would read at the launch.
My publisher, Sarah Leavesley was also there and made a short and delightful speech that I had to speak after (and she nearly made me cry). I read a selection of poems from the pamphlet, signed and sold lots of books and we all celebrated with wine and cake.
It was an incredible night. It still feels like a dream.
Signing my first book. The books sold on the launch evening were all numbered as well.
Official Launch Photographs were kindly taken by Bernard Davis.
Here is my post-launch social media message;
A very quick, adrenalin filled THANK YOU to everybody who came to celebrate the launch tonight. Family, friends, poets & general public. Couldn’t have asked for a better event. Room was perfect. Fell in love with that space as soon as I saw the backs of the chairs. Slightly awkward explaining to the general public, who had rushed in that the first half hour was mingle time. Poets never get to chat (learnt that if it is your launch you don’t get to chat either) but think I managed to hug and welcome everyone. Sold more books than no. of people in attendance, thanks for the generosity.
Huge, huge thanks to Claire Walker, Roy McFarlane and Antony R Owen who made me swell with heartfelt sets and lots of appreciated sign language from the green chairs. How ‘Hay’ was that?
Thanks to V. Press for publishing Fragile Houses & Sarah Leavesley for her generous words and all the hard work. I managed not to cry the poems, but after that speech it was hard to do the next intro.
Thanks to Maggie Doyle who had my camera and captured that magic writer- editor/ publisher moment, gave me a lift and has been there from almost the very beginning. Thanks to Giovanni Spoz Esposito for the extra lift relay, for supporting the launch and for the delivery of my words elsewhere. Hope they serve well.
Thanks to John who enabled me to tick ‘sell your book to a stranger’. Thanks to everyone. Next stop, headlining Stirchley Speaks tomorrow, along with the wonderful Carl Sealeaf, P Cafe 7.30pm. Signed pamphlets will be available, minus the free muffins & wine.
Also thank you to Waterstones Birmingham and Bernard Davis who stepped in to catch everything through his camera lens. I cannot wait to see the shots!
As you can see from this photo – the pamphlet costs £5.50 and makes Christmas shopping REALLY easy.
V.Press have currently got Christmas bundles on SALE. Which means for just £7.50 you can be the owner or giver of two pamphlets.
Festive Offer 3: The way home
Review of October
Following advice I was trying to not be too busy pre-book launch but after a week off events I took my writing group for Writing West Midlands, watched all the poetry coverage on BBC2, missed another writing deadline and decided that I would drive to Cheltenham to Buzzwords and catch David Clarke and Cliff Yates (another new-to-me poet).
Buzzwords was great, I realised I hadn’t been for over a year. I had a fabulous evening and do not regret it, despite it being the night before my launch. I read my latest poem – a work on tribal philosophy and have some poetry drafts from the workshop to work on when I get a chance (Christmas holidays maybe).
I had imagined I would spend Monday getting ready for the evening – but in reality I missed writing deadlines, overslept, did everything I could to reduce the nervous anxiety of what if no-one turns up and finally at about 2pm started to get organised.
I am going to write a full post about the launch and some follow up posts about the organisation aspects, as there is a gap of relevant information in this area.
Waterstones Book Launch for Fragile Houses in Birmingham with Guest Readers – Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. It was a cracking night, the next morning I woke up to go to work and it felt like a dream.
The following evening I headlined at Stirchley Speaks. I have been headlining since Autumn 2014 but this is the first time I had a book to sell. I did leave home without them and had to turn back to grab the bag, I knew there was something I had forgotten. Since this night I have started using a large event handbag and always carry a couple of copies.
Stirchley Speaks was a great night and I sold lots of books, I realised at this point I had underestimated how many I should order. Taking advice from Jane Commane back in 2014 who said that audience doesn’t necessarily convert to readership. I was aware not everyone I know will buy the book. I have a list of people who want a copy next time I see them too.
It was good to catch up with everybody in the P Café and it was an incredible night of poetry.
The next day I contacted my publishers and ordered another box.
I hadn’t submitted any poetry for a while and had news of one of my poems being published in the USA. More on that when it happens.
I treated myself to an evening off and a little rest before National Poetry Day, which is fast becoming one of my favourite dates on the calendar.
I collected my new batch of books and went to Suz Winspear’s NPD event in Worcester. As Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz is working hard this year in the city and found a brand new venue for the NPD Event. Berkeley Almshouses was the venue and some of the residents came to enjoy the event. It was a great evening and the old chapel had fabulous acoustics and suited Suz very well.
This year’s theme was messages and I certainly sent a few texts whilst trying to track down the entrance to the venue. Great sets from everyone and I got to catch up with Math Jones (up from London) and Ruth Stacey. I even sold a book!
I spent the weekend Fri- Sun at Swindon Poetry Festival, it was 2nd year there and much as I loved it last year, this year was EVEN better! It deserves a full post and as I pretty much did everything on the programme, will certainly need one. A great way to finish an exhausting, fantastic week in my poetryskin!
Other great news was Matt Windle became Birmingham’s new Poet Laureate and by the end of the week I had sold over 50 copies of my book!
Started with a recovery day. I started to create Poetry Films, something I have got hooked on. Last year Sarah Leavesley kindly tutored a group of us in the art of production and I was inspired by the Poetry Films I had seen at Swindon. There are several poems in my pamphlet that I will rarely perform. These are all now Poetry Films.
On my recovery day I spent some INKSPILL admin time and rehearsed a set for Licensed to Rhyme. Roy McFarlane was headlining. It was a great night and I was allowed to sell my pamphlets, they had a table and everything.
The next evening I went to Ledbury to the Poetry Salon where Deborah Alma was reading and finally got a copy of her book, ‘True Tales of the Countryside’, a beautiful Emma Press pamphlet.
I unexpectedly performed in the open mic section. Fragile Houses reached Ledbury. It has since reached Palestine, Malta, Holland and Australia to my knowledge. It was a wonderful, rich evening and great to see Ledbury folk again.
This week was also Birmingham Literature Festival and due to work commitments and events was the first time since coming back to writing (2013) that I missed it. The night after Ledbury Liz Berry and Benjamin Zephaniah were performing and also Gregory Leadbetter had his book launch for ‘Fetch’ (Nine Arches) at Waterstones, Birmingham with Angela France and Jo Bell reading.
I was gutted to miss both these events but with working and poeting I had no energy and if I remember rightly was asleep as soon as I had finished tea.
The following night Luke Kennard was performing in Birmingham and I missed it because it clashed with SpeakEasy, where I was already performing. Roy McFarlane was the feature and it was a joy to listen to him twice in one week.
Fragile Houses received a Chez Nous Review which I was delighted to discover came from Gram Joel Davies. He actually chose some of my favourite foods – go and have a read.
By the end of the week I was run down with illness and missed Holding Baby a play by Jan Watts and the rest of the Book to the Future Festival (again for the first time since 2013). I hope to catch the show another time, I have heard nothing but good things about it.
It was great to finish the week with a Madhatter Review http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/books–e-books.html
Fragile Houses has positive reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
I was asked to do something that I am really excited about, more on that next year. I spent days preparing for INKSPILL in shifts of 8 – 12 hours.
Mr G and I went to London to see Woven Hand.
I was too tired to manage Hit the Ode and Smokestack Poetry Evening event clash), both in Birmingham, both top nights. I also missed the Dylan Thomas Festival, running for the first year in Cheltenham. Unfortunately it clashed with INKSPILL this year.
I signed up to an online course ‘Arts for Health’ and performed poetry for ‘She Speaks Her Mind’ Woo Feministas – alongside Suz Winspear, Charley Barnes, Claire Badsey & Holly Magill.
Then of course it was INKSPILL with Gaia Harper, Roy McFarlane and Deanne Gist. This was the 4th year for us and it was a success. I already have Guests and plans lined up for 2017.
The Magnetic Diaries – which I saw in it’s infancy in Hereford last year was on at the MAC and although I couldn’t make the show I did make Sarah Leavesley’s workshop ‘Pain to Poetry’. I have some poetry notes and one poem so far from this and it was a challenging (emotionally) but not unpleasant experience. I also got time to reconnect with many poetry friends I have not seen in a while.
I spent the early part of the week writing. I entered a few free poetry competitions. I took some bookings for next year and exchanged pamphlets with J.V Birch through the post. She is a childhood friend, now living in Australia and has also become a poet at the same time as me. It has been exciting to map and mirror each other’s journeys through this new world.
I dressed up for Halloween as a ‘Cereal Killer’ and went off to perform at the Halloween Special 42 in Worcester. Where (due to the wig) people didn’t recognise me. It was a fabulous night and a great excuse to dress up. Fantastic sets from everyone.
photos by Liam Cortintias
The next day I had to do my best to get all the make up off and go to a workshop run by Angela France, the theme was Fairy Tales and I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and even sold a few books.
I listened to poetry on Radio 4 and missed my Stanza meeting to take part in a Charity Quiz night. All teams of 8 and due to circumstances we ended up with just 4 in our team. We were going for the Booby Prize but decided it was hard to share a bottle of wine and so started to get answers right. We came in 5th not too shoddy, somewhere in the middle. Over £1000 was raised for MacMillan.
I hoped to go to Lania Knight’s workshop, having missed her last one due to a crash on the motorway, but this weekend we celebrated a special family birthday.
So the Christmas adverts haven’t gone unnoticed and I realise we are fast approaching the end of November, (I realise this as I haven’t started seasonal shopping yet)! It has been a really busy Autumn, which is great as this is the life I wanted… it does mean that my blogging time has diminished.
I have some great ideas how to utilise this blog in 2017 that will fit into the ever-increasingly busier patterns I now exist in. I will save the big reveal for the New Year whilst I focus on the backlog!
REVIEW OF SEPTEMBER
September was the most exciting month of 2016 so far, my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’ made it out of editorial and to the printers and I was able to get my teeth into something I do well, organising the Book Launch event and promoting.
I was always a little unsure how soon to the end of the process the book had to be before the promoting could begin. Hard work after keeping it a secret for so long. Frustrating though the length of time it all took was, I am glad we launched in October because it is close enough to still being NEW at Christmas! So if, like me, you haven’t started shopping yet…
The rest of September wasn’t too bad either.
I finally managed to get back over to Permission to Speak, where Walsall Poetry Society had the headline slot. A collective of poets with a great range of work. Richard Archer – a poet from Walsall helped set this up. Richard has written 3 books of poetry and has performed his work on TV and radio. He describes his poems as a sideways look at life as he tries to dissect the world around him, failing or succeeding in equal measure.
Richard was joined by founding member Bryan Sydney Griffin a.k.a “LaGrif”, Marrianne Burgess, Paul Elwell, Ian Ward and Vicki MacWinyers.
I was also delighted to see Steve Harrison there, our paths haven’t crossed in a while. Busy poets that we are, with a few Counties of separation. It was a good evening and it felt like coming home. Rob Francis is always so welcoming and it is a great venue to perform in with one of my favourite stages (because it is made out of old school desks) and features in one of my poems. It was lovely to share the evening with Claire Walker and Ian Glass.
I missed the Fringe Festival in Digbeth, as I was out celebrating my birthday (yes! It was in August), I like to party! It was at the expense of missing several submission deadlines this month though. I try to be kind to myself when that happens but the inner voice is screaming ‘GET ORGANISED GIRL!’
I spent my time organising new term workshops for my Writing West Midlands group and sifting my way through the admin mountain.
I went to Waterstones to watch fellow V. Press poets David Calcutt, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker who have spent months planning ‘From Birth to Bone’, a scripted reading combining poems from all of their collections. I was a little gutted that Fragile Houses wasn’t out in time to participate, I have had conversations about collaboration for sometime. Still I have a few ideas to bounce around in 2017.
It was a fabulous night and their work blended well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a jolly good performance. The other thing I loved was the programme. Listed on it were all the poems and the relevant pages from their books.
What I did manage to do was speak to Stuart, as an Area manager and Poet himself he is fully behind events in Waterstones. I have over the year attended several, but from this point onwards the book shop becomes my second home! I confirmed my book launch was to take place in Waterstones ! Oh, my wake me up – I am dreaming!
I went to SpeakEasy in Worcester where the featured artists was a three piece, ‘Threezacrowd‘ – Michael Thomas on words and Campbell and Jan Perry on music. SpeakEasy tends to be poetry so it was different to have some music and singing. Mike Alma and Pip Barlow brought us guitar and voice the month before.
Photograph – Mary Davis
The photo is from the August SpeakEasy, where I read some of the canal poems (still in draft form) from our poetry trip. I was wearing my Tiller Girl badge and Alan Durham wore his pirate badge.
Photograph – Mary Davis
I spent the rest of the week planning and promoting my Book Launch, working for Writing West Midlands, wrote endorsements for ‘Birth to Bone’ and my pamphlets became real and reached the editor. I still cannot believe I waited to pick them up for several days as our schedules weren’t matching.
They were published in time for the London Book Fair, which was exciting.
Following some summer preparation, I started organising INKSPILL – our online writing retreat. Sending emails and making contact with writers was fun and in the process have pretty much organised next year’s Guest Writers too.
It was also the first ‘Licensed to Rhyme’ – my most local poetry night! Finally my hometown can offer something and what a something it is. Maggie Doyle and Fergus McGonigal ran SpeakEasy for a couple of years and both took retirement from it earlier in 2016. Maggie and Fergus worked hard finding the perfect venue and pricing and all the millions of behind the scenes work, we never really consider.
Spoz co-hosts the event with Maggie Doyle once a month. This first evening was a great success and because the venue is an Arts Centre (Artrix) we have professional sound and sound engineers to boot. We walked on to ‘James Bond theme music’ and the atmosphere was electric. Which all helps performers to perform well. I had a 10 minute Guest Spot and Maggie mentioned my pamphlet was to launch in a few weeks too.
Even more exciting was finally meeting Dreadlock Alien, a man people have constantly spoken about since I hit the circuit in 2014. I knew some of his poems and have seen him perform online but to meet him was thrilling and it was lovely to see a lot of the Birmingham crowd over here too.
I also worked on (for hours) a professional writing website where people can find me, book me etc. A space I can keep for promo and work. And guess what? I found the only web space that doesn’t link to SEO on Google searches etc. which means unless I send the direct link – you cannot find me. I am limited by free webpages at the moment and many of these need you to install all sorts. I am tempted to use WordPress and as I bought ‘A Writers Fountain’, 16 years ago, I know I can do it again, when money flows a little better.
I still haven’t sat down to work this out but will spend those post-Christmas moments on it, ready to hit 2017 hard.
Come and see it anyway – http://ninalewis.webs.com/ – save it to your favourites, it may be the only way to find it again!
This is the week term started and for this half term I faced a new challenge, I have taken on a 3 day week. Okay, that doesn’t sound a lot but they are full paced and challenging days in a block and I am still on medication. What it will mean is I needn’t worry about not having enough work and it will give me a chance to build up skills with individuals, which is half the battle at the chalk-face or whatever it is called now we are all fully interactive.
It was also super busy with Poetry Events, such as Roy McFarlane’s book launch for his collection ‘Beginning with your Last Breath’- Nine Arches.
A superb event that took place in Wolverhampton at the Arena Theatre. This was a night I did manage to blog about in real time and you can read the post here.
Hit The Ode was the next evening and I was just too exhausted by then to get myself back to the city, fortunately in a move of pure genius Carl Sealeaf was providing LIVE streaming, which was no way as good as being there – but was much better than missing it all. It also meant I had time for 2 hours worth of research and some book promotion work.
I also started to write properly again, something I haven’t really been able to do whilst the pamphlet was still in editorial.
I booked guest poets for my book launch; Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. Delighted they all agreed to read.
This week didn’t stop. On Friday I went to Kenilworth to see a Poetry Reading at the Talisman Theatre, curated by David Morley. Just in the foyer alone I was excited to see so many people, many I had seen just a couple of days earlier at Roy’s book launch. By far the most exciting sightings were John & Liz Mills, I had no idea they were coming, we have already decided to make a reunion of it next year, treating ourselves to pre-show dinner, after show drinks and a hotel. They had booked a hotel, I live a little nearer so opted for a night drive.
I also saw Julie Boden and that was a treat. So glad that she made it to the show.
The show itself was mighty fine. I loved meeting and hearing new to me poets – Luke Kennard, who I have missed every time the opportunity has arisen, Sarah Howe who writes beautiful, honest poetry and Claire Trévien, who loves language and was a joy to watch/listen to. I enjoyed the sets from the poets I do know David Morley, Jo Bell, Jonathan Edwards too. They promised a special evening – and it was!
I really wish I had blogged about it at the time, because so much has happened since, it was a wonderful evening and I remember it fondly.
I missed Jo Bell’s workshop on Saturday as I was going to Worcester Music Festival to see The Anti-Poet, after missing them at WLF (Worcester LitFest) in the summer. I loved it! It was a total nightmare to park, but well worth the agro.
After this I finally COLLECTED my PAMPHLETS!
It was also London Book Fair and although I couldn’t make it this year and missed the opportunity to perform Ambiguous Answers for Paper Swan Press,
my book did make it and I got to follow it all on Twitter.
And FINALLY on Sunday I headed out to the MAC where I watched the new version of Ten Letters. The original last year was crowdfunded, a project that was the brainchild of Lorna Meehan and Spoz. This year they have a few new performers, lots of new writing and media and have been funded by the Lottery and Arts Council.
I was also asked to appear on a panel of writers on Radio – which I was jumping about over, until I realised it was a work day and I wouldn’t be able to get to the studio. However, I have been booked to do this in January. Which hopefully will be an easier month on the calendar and I will be all fresh and ready.
This is the week of the Poetry Festival in Stratford-Upon-Avon and I was gutted to miss every event I had hoped to get to. After typing week 3 for the past hour, I can see why I didn’t have the energy to work, play and drive all over the place. The final performance from all the resident poets, ‘Unexpected Encounters’ was something I really wanted to see, but had booked (way back in August) my final birthday meal with friends, where we got to cook our food on hot volcanic rocks and this was something that couldn’t be undone. It was a great night!
It was also Leicester Shindig and I hadn’t realised Claire Walker was featuring there, missed it completely. Leicester was the city I came out as a poet in and performed spoken word for the first time.
I had several invites to events I missed this week – it was hard enough to stay awake and work without going out in the evenings. I was getting in and falling asleep. I did admin tasks, promotion online and booked tickets for Swindon Poetry Festival. I also managed to get to the local Stanza meeting as well as taking a Headline booking for Stirchley Speaks next month, the night after my Book Launch. I also took my first booking for 2017 and booked up October.
On Sunday I read at Open Poetry in the Arboretum, Walsall and promoted my forthcoming pamphlet. It was a lovely afternoon.
The last 5 days – no wonder this month seemed so long!
I continued Market Research, promoting and organising the Book Launch (1 week to go).
I missed some submission deadlines.
Took pre-orders for the pamphlet.
Missed Poetry Bites and the Open Mic at Waterstones, 42 and a Scratch Night. I was attempting to take my editor’s advice and take it easy the week before the launch. Which I managed ALL WEEK and then at the weekend (with 48hrs to launch) I broke my promise to myself.
MORE ON THAT IN THE OCTOBER REVIEW.
It is also available from the V. Press stall at The Poetry Book Fair, 17th September.
The official book launch is on Monday 3rd October at Waterstones, Birmingham.
24th – 25th October
For the 3rd year running AWF is hosting INKSPILL, a free online writing retreat. Come and join us and our Guest Writers for a weekend of writing and motivation.
There is NO SIGN UP, NO FEE.
Just read the posts, share links to your work, comment and LIKE the posts.
AWF offers this retreat to you for FREE, in return all we ask is you LIKE, reblog or share our blog posts.
We have several Guest Writers this year – to be announced soon!
Having just spent the morning editing (nearly 3 hours, with poems already created) – it still amazes me the amount of time working on poetry and submissions takes, I have some time now before rehearsals (for NPD) to catch up with the blog.
I NEED TO CATCH UP! Step into my time machine and let’s go all the way back to…
AUGUST 8th 2015
PAPER SWANS PRESS – Schooldays Anthology – Book Launch
The Poetry Café – London
My weekend in London was phenomenal. I was excited about reading at the Poetry Café – an achievement beyond my radar but one that I grew attached to.
I have family in London and the surrounding area and after my last ill-fated trip down on the Mega(Death)bus, I thought it was a good idea to create an entire adventure around the Paper Swan Press Book Launch, so I did!
I journeyed down on Friday in the car to Buckinghamshire and stayed with my Aunty, managed to catch up with cousins and their little ones and had a lovely, indulgent time. Saturday my Aunty (who came to enjoy the book launch readings) and I took the 30 minute train journey into London.
I met an old college friend, Helen – from my dance days, I had not seen her for 20 years, she was taking her eldest down as he was performing in the West End and was journeying with the entire family as it was summer they were spending down South for the run of the show!
Lovely coincidence and so amazing to hear the words; ‘I’m a poet now, I am going down for a Book Launch reading at the Poetry Café’… coming out of my mouth.
I gave myself permission for such things back in 2013 when my journey back into writing began and have only recently realised that a lot of people struggle with allowing themselves such a job title/ definition.
It was awesome again later, after the event when I was asked if I was a tourist and replied; ‘No I used to live down here. I am a Poet, I have been to a Book Launch.’ If only I had some extra copies of the anthology I could have sold at least two!
Finding the Poetry Café was a little harder than expected as we spent some time in Covent Garden mooching first, then decided it was best to find out where we were going. I did zone in with intuition – or a poet’s heart or something and didn’t make a wrong turn – well that’s a bit fictional, I had asked an extremely tall market trader for directions. It was as if he was performing a soliloquy. A very poetic one – though I suppose looking down on mere mortals of less than 6ft tall would have hurt his neck. Like most other people in the city (huge generalisation) I presumed he was a ‘resting’ actor.
ed. by A . B. Cooper, Ellie Danak & Sarah Miles
The book launch was a fabulous event. I loved the Poetry Café and everything about it. The coffee was good too and I was surprised by the reasonable charge for everything on the menu – it is the headquarters of the Poetry Society and there were workshops and other things going on at the same time as the anthology launch. Some poets I know were in the building, but sadly didn’t get around to the basement where we were reading amongst the heat of summer and fairy lights.
It was great meeting the editors Sarah Miles and A.B Cooper and seeing the book ‘Schooldays Anthology’ in all its glory for the first time. I met Carole Bromley who I know through 52 online but had never met in person and saw Roy Marshall again, it was lovely to reconnect.
Photography Credit Carole Bromley © 2015
The launch was lovely and it was great to hear poets sharing their own poems from the book. I enjoyed meeting new people and having a good, old natter.
Photography Credit Jessica Frost © 2015
Later, I met with my Uncle and Aunty for food in Holborn before journeying back on the buses to stay over for the night. After chat and wine and all the usual visiting relatives things happened, it was bedtime and I thoroughly enjoyed my night on the bed settee with the noises of the city that never sleeps sounding out at the edge of my dreams. It may sound strange but every since I moved back up to the Midlands I have been based in small towns and villages and although I gain a certain enjoyment from this environment and appreciate the safety of travelling alone through these places, I miss the bright lights, hum, energy, noise and 24/7ness of major cities. Which let’s face it are like mini villages unless you’re in the centre.
I had a great sleep and woke up incredibly excited, I could never manage the pace of the city full time, but as a visitor it wraps you in warm arms and extends a friendly welcome.
I explored the British Library and returned to the old haunts of Trafalgar Square, the national portrait gallery etc.
There was a massive food festival on at the time and it was more crowded than usual. I had a list of other places to go off to but in the end decided I was hot and tired, my bags were fairly heavy and although I had a magic weekend ticket (or not so as I needed assistance at every barrier), I needed the green of the shires again and headed back to Buckinghamshire, where a lovely relaxing lazy evening awaited.
I then spent another two days with my Aunty visiting relatives and shopping.
It was lovely to spend so much time together, she has always been so supportive of my writing.
The one thing I didn’t do whilst I was away was prepare for my Headline set at HOWL.
I headed back to the Midlands and spent an entire day rehearsing. It turned out to be one of my strongest and well received Headline slots to date. That’s for another blog post though.
This month Schooldays has received a fine reviews on Sabotage Reviews and Write Out Loud, I am delighted to have my poem mentioned in both!
I love August – I think I told you last year, bound to love my birth month, the time when every LEO feels their inner Leo and connects to the warmth of the sun.
I have never been one for the Horoscopes, although birth maps and star maps always seem to correlate closely to the human in question and as we were all made from stars, the path cannot be that far off.
August IS summer (despite the UK weather), it is FREEDOM (why I chose a career path with every summer off), it is SPIRIT, time to connect and reconnect…
I have become (temporarily I hope) one of those people who doesn’t socialise as much as I used to (denying it is an age thing right now)! My birthday will be time to reconnect with all those friends I hold in my heart and don’t often see.
Before that, August whirled in with a full diary and bountiful booty in the form of poetry to enrich my life!
September is already bustling in the diary stakes, with workshops, performances and book launches, not to mention (oh, go on then) my new role as Lead Writer for the Writing West Midlands Senior Writing Group, in addition I am booked for training on a new venture and to improve my media savvy skills (ready for next year’s Pangaea Slam – which I intend to complete), I have tickets for a friend’s post Edinburgh show and a wedding (not mine – yet)!
October is already brimming with Poetry Festivals and we will celebrate National Poetry Day, more book launches, performances, writing jobs and workshops are already lined up in the diary.
I look forward to this new season of events and will rest at Christmas!
I am currently working on two large writing projects which I hope will come to fruition and I look forward to telling you more about them in the Spring. In the meantime, they have resulted in an idea for an article on Motivation and several practitioners I hope to contact and blog about – inspirational people that I consider myself blessed to know.
Keep Writing x
I made it to Ledbury Poetry Festival this year for Poetry and Cider with Ruth Stacey, Lesley Ingram and Sarah James
From the brochure;
Three poets based in the West Midlands celebrate the launch their new collections. Ruth Stacey’s Queen, Jewel, Mistress gives voice to every English/British queen from Anglo-Saxon times to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Lesley Ingram’s Scumbled is ‘A haunting collection (which) explores the brackishness of human relations, the kinship we crave with the non-human, and our desire to trade flesh for something less encumbering’ (Damian Walford-Davies). Sarah James’s The Magnetic Diaries takes the form of a narrative in poems, loosely based on the characters and storyline of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Sarah James also has a collection plenty-fish with Nine Arches Press.
Ledbury Poetry Festival Programme © 2015
It was a wonderful evening in Burgage Hall, which was packed out with poets supporting these three great women. A great atmosphere and touching readings. What was particularly special was the gratitude Ruth showed Ledbury Festival, over the years she has gained lots from being involved in the programme and appreciated the input from workshops and coaching she has had, as well as previous opportunities to perform at the Festival. It is lovely and authentic when poets take a moment to acknowledge and thank people, for what they have done and how they have influenced and helped.
There is no greater feeling for the poet than to know you are supported and mentoring and guides are priceless treasures.
The event was a great success, it was lovely to hear Lesley perform her poetry and Sarah James too. I enjoyed sharing the moment with Ruth Stacey and her glee was mesmerising and contagious! I don’t think I have ever seen her look so happy. A magical night in Ledbury.
You can buy your own copy of this great collection from the following places;
Now it is my turn to thank Ruth for one of the sweetest messages I have received at a signing. Thank you.
This week I have mainly been researching markets, which takes so long – but is a habit I need to get back into.
I also logged my writing days and have discovered that I have had less than a month so far this year and that 40% of that time was dedicated to workshops, everything I have managed has been across just over 2 weeks, so instead of feeling frustrated and beating myself up over delaying schedules and losing out on opportunities, I am now proud of everything I have managed to accomplish in such a small window of time.
This year has been strange, I have worked more and Mr G was working away for 3 months so weekends were our only time together, there have been patches of no writing at all and certainly a lack of submissions. I am still pushing, working hard and succeeding though and do not wish to moan over lost time knowing that plenty of writers out there still work full time and have to squeeze time at the keys into evenings and early morning sessions.
I needed to see it – track the data – to find out what was happening as these feelings are new to me. Having spent the best part of 2 years on an ultimate high! Now I have seen what has gone on I can plan to turn it around in the next 6 months. Nothing like a Midsummer to take stock! This is not my writing space or view, it is the view of someone I completed the University of Iowa poetry course I did last month. Lucky, hey? It captures how I feel post-analysis.
This week I had just one gig in the week and a whole weekend of performing;
There is a month long festival in my hometown which tends to lean towards classical and choral music more than anything else, but there was one open mic/ acoustic event on Wednesday (also my eldest nephew’s birthday… he reaches double figures)! I went down to check it out and perform.
Friday night was Debbie Aldous’s new night in Birmingham at the Two Towers Brewery, where everyone performs in open mic spots.
Spoken Word and More… and there was plenty of ‘more‘. Lots of stand up, singing, musicians – including a medieval harpist and a Polish Violinist – who was the exceptional opener for the night. As well as storytelling and poetry. It was a challenging gig, not an audience who particularly focussed on poetry.
The micro brewery, warehouse setting was interesting and so was my re-calculated sat nav journey. It took about twice the time it should have to get there. An entertaining night that was worth the late night and all performers received beer tokens and a chocolate roll!
© Zuzana Klementova 2015
It was also Rage Against Racism this weekend down at the Custard Factory – mainly musical acts, with chosen poets performing on Saturday night. I had already been booked for Droitwich Festival so didn’t apply. I wasn’t able to go and support the gig as I was at my own, but Rangzeb took some amazing photos and Ddotti Bluebell has commented on how great the night was. I think it is an important cause – so even though I wasn’t there – here is a flavour of the evening;
Thank you to all the poets who came last night to support such a great cause & the poetry was truly thought provoking & emotional. As Rangzeb Rango said it diluted the poison of racism & expressed a special unity of people through art…. Big Up the Word Up! Crew . © Ddotti Bluebell 2015
All excellent poets and performers.
Left to Right: Ddotti, Jasmine, Kamil, Antony, Carys, Sammy, Kurly
Live Lit at Park’s Café as of Droitwich Festival Arts Week was a fantastic event and I felt privileged to be a part of it.
Live Lit, featured 9 poets and we each had 10 minute performance slots – a great way to practise for the QC Compere Tour on the 10th July (ever closer)! It was a great night of poetry and fun with friends. Performers included;
• Fergus McGonnigall (previous Worcestershire’s poet laureate) & MC
• Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate )
• Jenny Hope
• Math Jones
• Mike Alma
• Bridget & Malcolm Wakeman
• John & Pauline Franks
• Nina Lewis
• Polly Robinson
• Ruth Stacey
• Sarah James (runs the Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza)
A great night organised by Malcolm Wakeman.
Snippets of reviews for the night;
Followed by a great meal at a local restaurant where we had plenty of time to chat and laugh – and eat! I love a Poet Social – we don’t organise them nearly enough! I will plan an after party for my future book launch!
Today I am headed out to Digbeth to check out the new venue for Sunday Xpress, at The Edge – Foundation Arts space – which was a magical venue and for the first time performers who are not musicians were really listened to! I much prefer it at this new venue, I tried to support them as much as I was able in the past, usually Sunday is an allocated home/rest day… now though – being at Sunday Xpress makes me feel on top of the world, so I hope to be back soon to share in everyone’s artistic talent! Lots of new faces too, so that’s a bonus for them.
Now we have had a take-away tea (Mr G isn’t coming away with me on the 1st holiday I have in 2 years, so we wanted to do something special. I had hoped to spend the evening together, it is already 9pm and I still have to submit poetry and pack my suitcase. I am very excited about going away – especially during term time – it’s the first time in 17 years I am able to do that!
My week off from blogging will give you time to catch up with all the posts.
But before I go… in other news…
Talking of submissions and projects there are two more exciting pieces of news I need to share in this week’s wrap. After my research at the beginning of the week I found a new creative outlet in Visual Verse, they post an artists work and you have an hour to write about it and post your poetry. I love creating this way and can often be found musing over some image waiting for visual verse of my own to appear, the wait is never long. They published my poem, it is a pleasure to have poetry displayed alongside such great company, the chapter is a great read, treat yourself to some coffee time!
Here is the link to read the chapter of verse for yourselves, I performed ‘Shame in the City’ last night for the first time, good reactions. We have all been there on one side of the line or the other, I think!
52 – THE BOOK!
The second exciting piece of news is that the 52 Anthology has made it to press, cannot wait to pick my copy up in Stratford in July. It is £7.99 and will be a great read, guarantee it. This is the result of Jo Bell’s 52 project in 2014. Published by Nine Arches Press, a labour of love which should sell really well. On the back of the hundreds, thousands of people who have been touched by 52, Jo Bell’s recently launched ‘Kith’ is already on it’s 2nd publication run! I have a feeling her last collection ‘Navigation’ had a second run of copies pre-52 as well. It could just be the magic of Jo Bell and the weight in her words of course! Poetry Goddess to many people.
Chosen by Jonathan Davidson, with foreword by Jo Bell and Norman Hadley
Date: 14th July 2015
Jo Bell’s 52 project started with a simple idea: Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going. In the 52 weeks that followed, this global workshop group became a phenomenon. Hundreds of poets took up the challenge and their poems swept the board of poetry prizes, publications and personal successes. Thousands of poems were written and shared. This selection by poet Jonathan Davidson offers a taster from the poetry banquet of 52.
“Poetry changes lives, both in the reading and the writing. The 52 project brought together well-established poets with rising names, and generated world-class work. We wrote a poem a week – enjoy reading them, one week at a time.” – Jo Bell, founder of 52.
Have a good week everyone and
keep writing x