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INKSPILL 2018 Feature – Interview with Alison May ALL THAT WAS LOST

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2018 VERSION GUEST POETS TO USE

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What inspired you to write All That Was Lost?

All That Was Lost is an idea that I’ve had on the back burner for a long time now. I started writing a rom com about a stage medium years ago, but the subject matter was pulling the story in a darker direction. And my rom com heroine had a mother, who was also a medium, and had been in the business for years and years. She was a total pro at what she did. And that character seemed so much more interesting than my twenty-something main character. So the rom com (and the daughter) got ditched and I put my old pro centre stage, where she belongs.

 

Patrice isn’t a classic heroine. What drew you to that character?

I’m fascinated by the question of to what extent our personalities are formed by our upbringing and to what extent we get to choose who we are.
Patrice is an extreme example of that. It seems that she’s based her whole life on a lie – what does that do to a person over fifty years? Does the lie become truer because someone sells it hard enough?
I was also really excited to write a slightly older heroine than I’ve written in the past. Patrice has decades of good and bad experiences that colour every decision she makes. I think we often cast older women as supporting characters – someone’s mum (as Patrice started out!), someone’s grandmother, someone’s wife – so putting all the complexity that Patrice has built up over her life at the heart of a story felt good.

What are your top tips for new writers trying to write or publish their first novel?

Just write the sodding book. That is always the top piece of advice. There’s lots of stuff you can learn and develop in terms of craft and understanding story structure, but none of that will help you if you don’t get some words down on the page.
Following on from that, listen to advice, but make your own decisions. There are a lot of writing tutors and consultancy services out there – I’m one of them – but what none of those people can do for you is find your voice and work out what sort of stories you want to tell. That has to come from you, so don’t let all the advice that’s out there overwhelm who you want to be as a writer.

 

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INKSPILL 2018 Feature – All That Was Lost By Alison May

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2018 VERSION GUEST POETS TO USE

Alison May was a Guest Writer for INKSPILL back in 2015. We are delighted that this September Alison launched her latest novel ‘ALL THAT WAS LOST’. This afternoon we are happily featuring Alison May and her new book on INKSPILL.

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Author bio

Alison is a novelist, short story writer, blogger and creative writing tutor who grew up in North Yorkshire, and now lives in Worcester. She has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, a freelance trainer, and now a maker-upper of stories.

Alison won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012, and her short stories have been published by Harlequin, Choc Lit and Black Pear Press.

Alison has also been shortlisted in the Love Stories and RoNA Awards.

Alison writes emotional fiction, and her seventh book, All That Was Lost, was published by Legend Press in September 2018.

She also writes modern retellings of misunderstood classics, in collaboration with Janet Gover, under the penname Juliet Bell. Alison is currently Vice-Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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You can find out more about Alison on her website: www.alison-may.co.uk, by following her on Twitter or Instagram @MsAlisonMay or on her facebook page: www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor/

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‘Intriguing with a cast of complex characters that keep you fascinated, this is a page-turner and surprisingly tender’ Katie FForde

‘A resonant, emotional story about grief, loss and love with a complex, tragic heroine—a fake psychic reaching the end of her career. Although it’s about death, this story is never depressing, and ultimately it’s about recovery and healing’ Julie Cohen

‘A beautiful and compelling story that delves into what is real, what we are willing to believe and the power of grief’ Liz Fenwick

‘”All That is Lost” is a bold, beautiful thought-provoking novel, that sensitively confronts difficult themes’ Rowan Coleman

‘It is a triumph. What Alison May has produced is an intimate and affecting study of loss, grief and identity that is just wonderful.’ Linda’s Book Bag

‘What an interesting and unique book… a fascinating, at times heart-wrenching, look at secrets, the cost of keeping them hidden, and whether hiding them requires lies.’ Fireflies and Free Kicks

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Kate Garrett Bonnie’s Crew

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This year Kate Garrett embarked on a new project Bonnie’s Crew. Kate tells us more about this in our final interview.

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1) Can you tell us a little background on Bonnie’s Crew?

Bonnie’s Crew was originally just going to be a little A6 print anthology, put together from work sent in by my friends in the poetry community, and sold via JustGiving to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. Leeds Congenital Hearts – which is funded by the CHSF – saved my daughter Bonnie’s life when she was born, but they did it without surgery (so far – she does have a condition that often requires surgery later in life). Other babies, children, teens, and adults need the unit’s help in much more complex ways. Our time on Ward L51 opened my eyes to congenital heart disease and made me want to do something to help.

 

2) At what point did you realise poetry was your way of giving back?

Almost immediately – it’s where my own heart lies (aside from my family unit of course, but even then my husband and closest friends are poets too!), and poetry is where my people are, where the community is for me.

 

3) Please tell us about the Bonnie’s Crew anthology and webzine.

The Bonnie’s Crew anthology is fiftyish pages of poems, mostly by poets in the UK, printed in A6 size with beautiful original cover art by Marija Smits. The poems range from those written just for Bonnie to suitable reprints, and everything in between.

The webzine has become far wider-reaching – poets from all over the world submit to Bonnie’s Crew! For both mediums, I wanted poems touching on hearts and hope, above all else, but also hospital experiences, grief, loss, love (romantic or otherwise) – as these are all very universal things, we all have a body, we all have emotions, and when we experience health issues, or loss, or family problems, or anything that moves us deeply, it’s good to have a place to express those things and find solace in other stories.

Sometimes our poems are inspired by news articles that aren’t even about human beings, but are relevant to our moral dilemmas (I’m thinking of Jude Cowan Montague’s brilliant ‘the sadness of the experiment’ https://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/poem-the-sadness-of-the-experiment-by-jude-cowan-montague), and sometimes the poets themselves have been in hospital for heart conditions. It varies, but the writing is always beautiful.

We currently publish two poets a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from February 2019 we will be publishing in a web journal format every other month. BC #1 will be released on 9th February – and there’s still space for more work. To read what we’ve published so far, and to submit your own work, visit http://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com

4) How many poems have been published on the zine?

I’m not exactly sure! Over 150, or around that… at the time of answering these questions there have been 105 posts published or scheduled, and quite a few of those include multiple poems. We’ve been publishing since the first week of February 2018.

 

5) How did it feel to hit your fundraising target?

Amazing, unbelievable. And I was so moved by the fact that through poetry we were able to raise over £1,000 in 6 months. We’re still going, and still have anthologies left to send out, so if people are interested, our JustGiving page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew and if people would like an anthology after donating (£5 minimum for a book, but even a £1 donation helps!), please email me at bonnies.crew.poems@gmail.com. I’d love to raise £2,000 by the time Bonnie turns one in January, or at least by the time the print anthology turns one in May.

6) When did you decide to include visual art?

When I decided to change to a bi-monthly web journal format. Our webzine has been characterised by me pairing public domain images with the poems we publish, and people always remark on the lovely combinations. I’d like to carry on the visual aspect when we change to releasing work in issues, but I wanted the art to come from submissions instead of public domain resources.

7) What have you enjoyed most about this project?

What haven’t I enjoyed! It’s honestly the most rewarding bit of editing and publishing I’ve ever done. If I had to stop editing/publishing everything else tomorrow, I would not be able to put Bonnie’s Crew down. It’s made such a difference to people, not just the heart unit, but regular people who come across the poems and feel soothed by reading them.

 

8)What is the future for this project?

Well, as I say, I’d love to raise more money (which means selling the remaining anthologies), hold an event in Leeds with readings, and see where the new web journal format takes us. I’m accepting creative nonfiction articles and essays now as well, alongside the poetry and visual art. Bonnie’s Crew’s tagline has always been ‘poems helping hearts of all sizes’ and it’s grown to helping hearts in both literal and figurative ways. It would be lovely to keep that momentum going and reach even more people.

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INKSPILL 2018: Articles – A Revolutionary Act: Samantha Zighelboim by Zachary Pace

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This year’s articles during INKSPILL are based on Poetry. The first article we would like to share was published in August 2018.

The Fat Sonnets (Argos Books)—Samantha Zighelboim’s debut poetry collection.

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A Revolutionary Act: Samantha Zighelboim by Zachary Pace

The poet on confronting societal limitations about the body, navigating the language of fatness, and celebrating friendships that embrace the joy of food.

This article was published in Bomb Magazine. Click the link to read it.


 

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Samantha Zighelboim’s debut collection conducts a radical re-examination of what we mean by body. In these poems, body is noun, verb and adverb; body is dearly beloved and fiercely rejected; it is by turns a singularly beautiful process and a frightening object. Zighelboim takes the sonnet form as a loose premise, a la Bernadette Mayer, but then explodes, expands, defies and otherwise grows out of supposed formal limits, making language into a living embodiment of the refusal of (institutional, patriarchal, cultural) control. 

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PRAISE FOR THE FAT SONNETS

The Fat Sonnets are greathearted, wickedly brilliant, and wise. Samantha Zighelboim writes with rare passion and exactitude: she can cure, or kill what ails you, and yet she sings from the soul, which is beyond diagnosis, at once perfect; eternal and savagely hungry since whenever eternity began. Hilarious and cruel, every page swells with compassion. I love this book. It is deeply nutritious. It will feed you.

—Ariana Reines

 

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Samantha Zighelboim Photo credit Alexis Baldwin © 2018

BIO: Samantha Zighelboim is a 2017 NYFA/NYSCA Fellow in Poetry, a recipient of a Face Out grant from CLMP, and the co-recipient of the 2016 John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize in Translation from The Poetry Foundation. Her poems and translations have appeared in POETRYBoston ReviewThe Guardian (as part of Asymptote’s ‘Translation Tuesday’ series), PEN Poetry SeriesStonecutterFanzinePublic PoolSixth FinchBone Bouquet and Springhouse, among others. She  lives in New York City, and teaches creative writing and literature at Rutgers University and The New School.

‘A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK’ a poetry event at Sprinkler factory

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By Richard Duckett
Telegram & Gazette Staff

How do you rhyme “Worcester”? You bring together poets from Worcestershire, England, and the Worcester County (Massachusetts) Poetry Association. A cross-Atlantic collaboration project has resulted in exchanged poems, publication of 92 poems in “Contour Poetry Magazine” edited by Worcester, England, poet laureate Nina Lewis, and a gala reading of the poems in our English Twin City.

Now it’s our turn with “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — US & UK.” Brian Evans Jones, former poet laureate of Hampshire, England, will read the British poetry, and there will be readings by many of the Central New England poets who have participated in the project, including Pam Bernard, Robin Boucher, Sylva Boyadjian-Haddad, Tony Brown, Dennis Caldwell, Clair Degutis, Gordon Elliot, Patricia Fargnoli, Jennifer Freed, Claire Golding, Victor D. Infante, Maura MacNeil, Cynthia Martell, Rodger Martin, Susan Roney-O’Brien, Kyle Potvin, Eve Rifkah, Karen Sharpe, Beth Sweeney, Paul Szlosek, Henry Walters, Linda Warren, and Patricia Youngblood.

What: “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK” When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 Where: The Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow St., Worcester.

How much: $10 suggested donation. Proceeds benefit the Sprinkler Factory and the Worcester County Poetry Association. http://www.worcestercountypoetry.org

Source: ‘A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK’ a poetry event at Sprinkler factory

 


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A TALE OF TWO CITIES, WORCESTER

The Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory have joined together to host a benefit fundraiser – “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester – USA & UK.” The transatlantic poetry project is a result of a collaboration between poets from either side of the pond.


Forty-seven poets began writing and exchanging poems with each other from December 2017 to March 2018. The poets from Worcester, Mass., wrote an initial poem and got a response poem from their partner in Worcestershire, England.

At the Sprinkler Factory, Worcester poets will read their initial poem and their partners’ response.

Months of editing and reworking these poems has left a remarkable result worth hearing from those who participated. Proceeds from this event will go toward the Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory, which hosts ever-changing art exhibitions. There is a wide range of topics for the poems, from love to self-discovery.

A Tale of Two Cities Massachusetts

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

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

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

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Photography ©Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network.

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

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

 

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

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


 

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

History of the Transatlantic Poetry Project 

A Tale of Two Cities

 

The Beginning

Special Edition Magazine

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.

Review August 2018

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well this is the first post this month online but August was packed, PACKED with poetry. I am still catching up on some blog posts from June-July and now will be adding August to the pile.

Here’s the month in snapshot!


Before Perth Poetry Festival I blanked my diary out as much as possible and missed some fine Midlands poetry events.

Week 1: 

I did a lot of research for Perth Poetry Festival and signed up to an anthology which I was lucky enough to be online for when the thread was posted, a project that is so popular it has a reserve list (more on this later).

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The main event this week was a Book Launch in Cheltenham for a charity anthology that I was fortunate to have the shortest poem (apart from short form) I have ever written included in it. The event at Hatherley Manor was dreamy and wonderful and the book raises funds for the cat rescue charity New Start Cat Rescue Centre, Huntley, Gloucestershire.

I will be creating a full blog post soon (and link back here when I am done).

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This anthology ‘All a Cat Can Be’ was the brainchild of Sharon Larkin and I am privileged to be involved. It would make a great Christmas gift for any cat lover.

 

https://www.poetrybooks.co.uk/products/all-a-cat-can-be

“This book is as gloriously varied as the beloved cats it celebrates. Here you will find poems which are witty, thoughtful, moving, and light-footed. ‘All a Cat Can Be’ offers something to please every reader, while helping cats desperate for a good home. And the photographs are irresistible!” – Alison Brackenbury

Edited by Sharon Larkin and Sheila Macintyre.

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I also sent a poem to Lucy Dougan for her Monster Field Workshop.

Week 2 & 3

I started working on INKSPILL – annual online writing retreat right here on AWF. More on this soon. Secured this year’s Guest Writers and started research.

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I worked tirelessly for a fortnight attempting to get the final issue of Contour Poetry Magazine live before flying off to the Southern Hemisphere. I was at this point still waiting for copy, so did what any good editor should do and contacted the poets who had successfully made publication and shelved the remaining editorial until my return.

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COMING SOON!

And then I flew to Perth, WA.

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Where I had an incredible time (lots of posts to follow). It was an amazing festival and I did as much of it as I could!

 

Week 4

Was mainly jet lag and editing… not a workable combination.

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I managed to get myself back into Birmingham – it has been too long – over 12 months I think. I went to the Big White Shed Brum night and it was packed with poetry – wall to wall and heart through heart.

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I am going to write the evening up over the weekend if I have a chance but it was a special night. The fusion of East & West (Midlands). There is a cracking poetry scene in Nottingham and this evening was proof of fine work happening in the region.

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A soft spot for me as I started Spoken Word in the East Midlands in Leicester.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/cheltenham-big-white-shed-brum/

And I tie August up nicely with a night at Stanza.

I cannot believe the summer holidays are nearly over!

When You Miss Something BIG!

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On Friday night I had hoped to make it to Birmingham Waterstones for the Verve Poetry Press Book Launch of Leon Priestnall and Nafeesa Hamid’s Debut collections.

Sadly I was up to my eyeballs with assessment data/report writing and test marking at work and by the time 6 PM arrived I was asleep on the settee. I have heard it was an incredible night and I was looking forward to reconnecting with the city and seeing these two perform.

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Some photos from the evening.

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Leon Priestnall is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. In his work, he isn’t setting himself up as any kind of answer – he is as wrong as he is right, behaves badly as often as correctly. Often too confused to be able to move – beyond lighting another cigarette, taking another drink, running for the door – or speak. Often trapped inside the circle of his thoughts, which are a riot of possibilities and recriminations, what-ifs and why-nots.

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Learning that your mind and body have been taken hostage is one thing. Learning how to take them back is another. What if those that are returned are different to the ones that were lost?

Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming.

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I am sure they will both be busy on the circuit promoting these fine collections, I am still not forgiving myself for missing the launch. I am sure I will, eventually.

If you ever get a chance to see either of them perform grasp it with both hands and be ready to stomp your feet!

Festivals, Dirty Laundry & #MeToo

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Just home from a great night at The Blue Boar in Ludlow where Deb Alma Launched her first collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ published by Nine Arches Press.

 

This event was part of the Ludlow Fringe Festival.

Deb invited Guest Poets to perform: I read alongside Angela Topping, Roz Munro Derry, Holly Magill and Ruth Stacey.

I had not seen Angela since she launched Hearth (Mother’s Milk Books pamphlet written with Sarah James), it was lovely to catch up and also hear her read. I was particularly in awe of her final poem. Holly and Ruth both treated us to powerful new poetry, Holly’s debut pamphlet The Becoming of Lady Flambé is published by IDP. It was lovely to meet Roz, full kudos for her being brave enough to finish her wonderful set with her Me Too themed poem, written after Deb had created the anthology published by Fair Acre Press.

Deb Alma then took the stage after a great introduction from Jim Sheard. I thoroughly enjoyed the Launch in Birmingham and Deb’s reading here on (old) home soil was perfect too. Her set was a brilliant mix of all that Dirty Laundry offers and I admire her ability to perform some of the material in front of her family. It has been splendid watching Deb take off beyond her ever-amazing Emergency Poet work.

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Deborah Alma’s debut poetry collection Dirty Laundry is raucous, daring and honest, drawing contemporary women’s lives and those of our foremothers into the spotlight. It voices bold, feminist songs of praise: of persistence, survival, adventures of sexual rediscovery, each reclaiming the space to speak its mind and be heard and seen. A perfect remedy for the heartsick and weary, Alma’s intimate and particular poems are resolute enchantments, a form of robust magic.

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After an interval I was part of the #MeToo Anthology experience. These compelling performances have been occurring up and down the UK, at Festivals and Poetry Events. This book (sadly) is a necessary collection full of sincere and authentic poetry. This collection rallies against sexual assault and harassment.

The Guest Poets joined Deb in reading their own and other’s poems from the anthology before a group performance of Pippa Little’s Spartaca. A moving end to an amazing evening.

#MeToo Anthology was a Saboteur Award Winner earlier this year. All profits go to Women’s Aid and Refuges & domestic and sexual violence services can apply for a 50% discount on the cover price.

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“…Something was released and given a space within social media. It was easy to add our voice to the rising shout of #MeToo. We felt the sisterhood. Many women felt emboldened by this to share more difficult stories, more details; the lid has come off this box and now cannot be forced back on. I’m a poet, and an editor, and someone suggested we collect these stories somehow and it was obvious to collect them as poems. It was what I could do. I am very proud of this book, proud of the poets for sharing their stories and for putting their names to their words…These poems are painful, angry, often difficult to bear, but the result of these voices singing together is one that is beautiful, full of sisterhood, strength, and recovery…” (Deborah Alma, Editor)

 

My own poem ‘Ripped’ was shortlisted. Many of the shortlisted poems appear on Vik Bennett’s Wild Women #Us together.

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voices from the #MeToo movement

In collaboration with the creators of the anthology, Wild Women Press have created an online platform for some of the additional submissions sent in response to the #MeToo call for poems. This platform is a place to celebrate the courage of the women who have shared their poems — voices that join together across counties and countries, in strength and sisterhood. #MeToo #UsTogether #NoMore