Category Archives: Readings

June Review of the Month (Part 2)

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Read Part 1 here.

Week 3

After the Worcestershire LitFest I really needed a rest, but I couldn’t resist attending a few readings. Cafe Writers and Cheltenham Poetry Festival events started my week – I was looking for a few post-festival days off and I did manage to have a quieter – away from desk weekend followed by a WHOLE day off work. I didn’t want to miss Jill Abram or Rishi Dastidar at Cafe Writers – so even though I felt like I needed to be propped up like a scarecrow I went and had a brilliant night! A real feast of poetry.

However, I was really exhausted by the time I was home on Tuesday, after a great distance travelling for work. and could have gone to bed at 7 PM instead of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival. I didn’t know Christine Whittemore‘s work and I admire Angela France and Penelope Shuttle‘s work, so I knew it would be worth it! And it was. Felt like an age ago when I booked the ticket!

I received my copy of The Brown Envelope Book, I will be posting more about this important and necessary book edited by Alan Morrison and Kate Jay-R.

I had one of the worst medical appointments so far this year and worked the rest of the week. When I wasn’t in pain I was in online readings.

I went to a Verve reading which was brilliant – I had been looking forward to it. Sadly Annie Fan couldn’t make it but Cynthia Miller stepped in and gave us a sneak preview of her new collection Honorifics (Nine Arches), which I was looking forward to the launch of.

Verve Poetry Press presents Meryl Pugh, Anne Fan, Geraldine Clarkson with special guest Victoria Kennefick – Reading & chat.

Reading from and answering questions about their VERVE pamphlets with very special guest poet Victoria Kennefick. A short reading from each poet will be followed by a short chat.

Hosted by Verve publisher Stuart Bartholomew.

It was a great event and was the first zoom experience for on e of the poets – not that we would have known that. I managed to stay up late enough to be at the Summer Issue Launch for Paris Review.

I had a twisty day which started with a rejection (one I had been holding on for) and also an offer to facilitate more poetry workshops.

I finished the week with a special workshop provided by Ledbury Poetry Festival based on the Ghazal with Maryam Hessavi. Which was intense and wonderful – although I still have to polish my effort!

I had another poem accepted for an anthology which launches this summer, I am making a video performance to be shared on the night.

I spent an entire day asleep and one chasing my tail through to do lists. I managed to do most of a Walking Tour at the WWBPA with Andrew Rimby. It was the William Cullen Bryant Tour and we actually got to go inside the house!

Week 4:

I had an entire week of work booked in, which started well and then I got the call. The call used to mean OFSTED but nowadays it means Track & Trace or COVID. I am still waiting for all the admin to be tied up but it was a call from the agency. My mobile chose this day to freeze and stop working (later had to restore factory settings, losing all the numbers and all my photos).

Despite testing negative I completed my no-pay 10 day quarantine – losing all my potential wages. I am not only trying to keep head above water but never have an income for a few months over the summer, I try to earn/bank enough to stretch. We only have 3 weeks (more like 2 for us) left of the term so I am not going to make future pay for the summer. I just hope this is the last quarantine for me. It is proof that PPE and double vacs can protect you though. Thank goodness all the tests were negative. I missed 2 important family birthdays during these 10 days too! I may have something secured for the autumn though – which is a relief. And it meant I could attend a few workshops.

I went to a York Libraries event – Finding the Words, a reading from Rachel Bower, Hannah Hodgson and Maggie Mackay.

Rachel Bower is an award-winning writer based in Sheffield. She is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018) and a non-fiction book on literary letters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Her poems and stories have been widely published, including in Anthropocene, The London Magazine, Magma, New Welsh Reader and Stand. Rachel won The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2019/20 and the W&A Short Story Competition. She edited the Verse Matters anthology (Valley Press, 2017) with Helen Mort and she is currently editing an anthology with Simon Armitage (Faber & Faber). Her new poetry collection, These Mothers of Gods, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in July 2021.

Hannah Hodgson is a poet living with life limiting illness. Her work has been published by BBC Arts, The Poetry Society and Ambit, amongst other outlets. She is a recipient of a 2020 Northern Writers Award for Poetry. Her first poetry pamphlet ‘Dear Body’ was published by Wayleave Press in 2018; and her second, centred around life with serious illness was published by Verve Poetry Press in Feb 2021. Her first full length poetry collection ‘163 Days’ is due to be published by Seren in 2022.

Maggie Mackay is an MA Poetry graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University with work in a number of online and print journals and anthologies. Several pieces have been shortlisted, commended in competitions, or nominated for the Forward Prize, Single Poem and the Pushcart Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’, 2018 was published by Picaroon Poetry and her full collection ‘A West Coast Psalter’, Kelsay Books, is available now. In 2020 she was awarded a place in the Poetry Archive’s WordView permanent collection.

© 2021 Explore York Libraries and Archives

I know Hannah and Maggie and have admired Rachel’s poetry since I first heard her read at the start of Lockdown. So I had been counting down the days to this event! I knew the readings would be incredibly powerful – and they were.

I did a Ledbury Poetry Festival workshop with Sara-Jane Arbury.

I caught up with family members on the phone – and attended Cynthia Miller’s wonderful book launch. I was truly excited when she shared the success of this first collection in the spring.

Cynthia Miller plus guest writers Khairani Barokka and Jenna Clake celebrate the publication of Honorifics.

Cynthia Miller‘s Honorifics is an astonishing, adventurous, and innovative exploration of family, Malaysian-Chinese cultural identity, and immigration. Poetry is interwoven with the words for all the things we honour; our loved ones and our ancestors, home and homecomings. From jellyfish blooms to glitch art and distant stars, Miller’s mesmerizing approach is experimental and expansive with longing: “My skin hunger could fill a galaxy”.

Cynthia Miller is a Malaysian-American poet, festival producer and innovation consultant living in Edinburgh. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AmbitThe RialtoButcher’s DogPoetry Birmingham Literary Journalharana poetryThe Best New British and Irish Poets and Primers Volume Two. She is also co-founder of the Verve Poetry Festival.

Khairani Barokka is a writer and artist from Jakarta, based in London. Her work has been presented widely, in more than 15 countries. Among Okka’s honours, she was Modern Poetry in Translation’s Inaugural Poet-in-Residence, and is currently Associate Artist at the National Centre for Writing and Research Fellow at UAL’s Decolonising Arts Institute. Okka’s books include Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis; Vietnamese translation, AJAR Press) and Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (as co-editor; Nine Arches), Rope, and most recently Ultimatum Orangutan (Nine Arches).

Jenna Clake‘s debut collection of poetry, Fortune Cookie, won the Melita Hume Prize, received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, and was shortlisted for a Somerset Maugham Award. Her second full collection, Museum of Ice Cream, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2021.

© 2021 Nine Arches Press

I know Jenna, Romalyn and Cynthia and I am delighted they are spreading their poetry wings as fully as they are. It was unfortunate that Romalyn couldn’t make it but Jane read a tender message from her. I always enjoy discovering a poet I have not yet seen/read so it was a treat to listen to the incredible work of Khairani Barokka.

I attended Food for Thought as I do every Friday , enjoyed a Sheffield Libraries Poetry session on Saturday and a poetry group on Sunday. I had a lazy recovery day, cleaned the house, facetimed for the missing birthdays (one was my mum)! Did a workshop with Sarah L. Dixon, organised book promotion had the Post Festival Committee meeting and enjoyed a night at Worcester, 42. I finished the month with a LPF Workshop, listened in to a panel at the Tamworth Literature Festival and FINALLY sent some submissions!

May 2021 Review of the Month

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Summer’s late to the UK this year and so is my May review. I didn’t manage to finish the content in time before getting swept up with festival programming. Rather than leave people out I decided to delay the post.

Better late, than never… May.

May and June are always Festival busy and life online is no different. I also had a few exciting projects I was working on, so it has been another packed month.

FESTIVALS OVERVIEW:

SAHLF 2021 26th April – 9th May

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival celebrated a 2nd year of stunning, FREE events and brought us a fortnight packed with Readings, Interviews, Workshops, Panel Discussions and Books! It was fantastic.

You can read my posts about the SAHLF events starting here.

Saboteur Awards Festival 10th-15th May

Saboteur Awards Festival (10th – 15th May) The team have been working hard on how to adapt the awards to a digital platform for the 2nd year and have introduced the Saboteur Awards Festival -a Panel Discussion, Workshop, Reading Series ‘specifically to promote work that had been impacted by the pandemic and/or the various lockdowns throughout the UK’. At the end of the festival this year’s winners will be announced and then you can lock forward to the Spotlight Winners Series running all the way into June.

Read my festival post here.

Still-at-Home! Fringe Fest 11th – 26th May

https://www.stayathomefringe.co.uk (11th -26th May ) The Still-at-Home! Fringe Fest is the punk-brat little sister of the award-winning Stay-at-Home Literary Festival. Now a year old, and on our third festival, we’re letting loose one last time because we’re still at home!

MASS Poetry Festival 13th-16th May

MASS Poetry Festival (13th – 16th May) This was an absolutely packed programme of events – ‘more than 50 events in total featuring well over 100+ poets‘ – no wonder it’s a biennial event! The festival is a mix of in place events and virtual. I attended a lot of MASS PF workshops and have always had an eye on this one so it is a delight to be in a position to join in.

This was an incredible festiand I am so glad I had a chance to catch it and be part of it online.

Read my Festival post here.

Urban Tree Festival – (London) 15th-23rd May

I was delighted to see the Urban Tree Festival back after its award winning 2020 Festival.

2021 marks the Urban Tree Festival’s fourth year As lockdown eases in the UK, we hope to bring some on-the-ground events and activities, however, the majority of the Urban Tree Festival is online. Building on the success of our entirely on-line festival last year, that introduced us to new audiences across the UK and far beyond…’

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 17-30th May

Norfolk & Norwich Festival is a Festival of the Arts being celebrated this year both in place and online.

HAY Festival 2021 26th May – 6th June


www.hayfestival.com
Back for a 2nd year on Digital platforms (and still FREE) is Hay Festival – nearly every bit as good as the real life one! Extensive programme of events and a long run. If you missed it completely, you can view it if you subscribe to Hay Player.

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WEEK 1: Readings, workshops and published.

There were lots of great readings this week. Cheltenham Poetry Festival had more wonderful offerings, I went to the reading by Jonathan Davidson and Wendy Pratt. It was a joy. Pavillion Poets 2021 Reading (Liverpool University Press), featuring Alice Miller, Alice Hiller & Sarah Westcott. I enjoyed the fine new work from these poets.

I managed to catch a wonderful reading at White Whale Book Store, with Adrienne Su reading from her latest collection peach state. She was joined by Kazim Ali & Erika Meitner. It was another reading worth staying awake for. Beautiful event. The flipside of no work for a 5th week… meant I managed to get back to the Live Canon Lunchtime reading series and enjoyed sets from: Nora Nadjarian, Benjamin Cusden, Sara Levy and Jeffery Sugarman.

I experienced the final MASS PF PEM Museum Workshop with Kirun Kapur which was a delightful look at epistolary poetry. Well worth staying up late for. I am now busy crafting these poems.

After seeing Rachel Bower again at SAHLF this year, I was delighted to discover her ‘Glimmers: Writing out of the Ordinary’ Workshop with Union Street (which had a similar theme to the workshop I planned for Cheltenham Poetry Festival Freeverse series this month). And I found it just in time to attend this wondrous hour!

I took part in the final (of a series) Mindful Poetry Workshops with The Well. This week was Sarah Yeung of SKY Sound Yoga who opened our time with a sound meditation. And, Eddie Gonzalez, Director of Engagement at The On Being Project who led the poetry workshop. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of. I am now baking these poems too.

I finally submitted to IS&T earlier this year, a magazine I have read for years. I was delighted to have a poem accepted by them ‘Where We Begin’, was featured on the 2nd May.

WEEK 2:

Was a whirlwind of real world work, readings, workshops and multiple festivals. I also managed to make a submission and craft some new poems.

Live from The Butchery hosted another fabulous afternoon of poetry with Tim Liardet, Jennifer Militello, Jenny Pagdin and a week later were announced as winners of the Best Regular Spoken Word Night Saboteur Award 2021 , a category full of stiff competition, so kudos to the team.

Followed by an equally exceptional evening at Cafe Writers featuring Tiffany Atkinson and support from Tristan Coleshaw & Eve Esfandiari Denney.

I did my usual sessions Line Breaks and Bronx Beats with Peggy Roubles-Alvarado which is always fast, furious fun and Redwing’s groups. The WLF team started finalising mini-festival 2021 plans and I had some wonderful readings and workshops from the Saboteur Festival and MASS Poetry Festival.

I made it to most of the Poetry Business Spring Launch and caught up on rewatch. Evesham Festival of Words have also been producing events online. I managed to get to Home and Away featuring the Cheltenham Poetry Festival – Anna Saunders, Ben Ray and Zoe Brooks.

I also missed some events and readings as I was working.

WEEK 3:

The festival events continued and a workshop I had been looking forward to for a long time with Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton. Great things have come from this session ‘Collision, Collusion & Craft’.

I enjoyed a workshop with Sarah L. Dixon and a Fair Acre Book Launch for Carl Tomlinson and Annie Freud’s wonderful launch event ‘Hiddensee’ with Jacqueline Saphra.

Last Autumn I was booked by Cheltenham Poetry Festival for the Freeverse Programme to facilitate a poetry workshop day. The theme I chose was ‘Finding Fortune’ and it was a pleasure to provide a bespoke Freeverse Workshop for this project.

To wind down afterwards I joined the Urban Tree Festival for Sounds of Plants with Planet Utopia. I discovered a while back the magic of tree communication – it was wonderful to hear it and lovely to be part of such a laid back hour.

I also caught another reading with Adrienne Su, for Caltech, a wonderfully generous event.

The organisation of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival ran full steam. I was busy with the tech side of the our 2nd Digital Mini Festival. Preparing for pre-festival meetings and Poet Laureate interviews as well as organising events and herding poets (and everyone knows we are like cats or badly behaved sheep)!

I had to miss events due to work and carved out one evening away from the desk.

I missed at lot of the Still-at-Home! Fringe LitFest (Fringe for SAHLF) – or as marketed, the punk-brat little sister of the award-winning Stay-at-Home Literary Festival. I did manage to get to enjoy Tawnya Renelle’s workshop and one at the Urban Tree Festival – Writing Wood Words with Electra Rhodes and the other with Chris Vox on ‘Serendipity’ as part of the SAHLFringe Festival. As well as a Magma Poetry Talk and I managed a couple of submissions.

WEEK 4:

I spent my weekend at a variety of festivals, went to a couple of workshops we had the 2021 Worcestershire Poet Laureate Interviews and I finally made it back to USA open mic with Great weather for Media. I missed some submissions, due to work commitments. I arranged an interview in June for BBC Hereford & Worcester radio. And the HAY Festival began with an amazing Gala event.

Sadly this year I didn’t make it to all the events I had hoped to catch at HAY. I haven’t been able to work properly for 2 years, so I am currently snapping jobs every time they come. I managed to catch some before they disappeared into Hay Player – which has a reasonable rate for an annual subscription. I was working and full of cold. I had lost my voice completely when 42Worcester came about and so for the 2nd time this year (after not missing any for the best part of 5 or 6 years) I missed it again, I managed to pop on for a few readings and then had to leave. I had managed to pen an on theme poem in my lunch hour and was fully prepared to join in.

I did a wonderful Ledbury Poetry Festival workshop with Sara-Jane Arbury, where I fell in love with a couple of mesmerising sculptures we looked at. I had an evening at Wordsworth Grasmere with Wendy Pratt as part of the 2021 contemporary poetry reading series, “Go to the poets, they will speak to thee”, is curated and hosted by poet Kim Moore. We will be listening to what poets have to say about our turbulent times, and how poetry can cross borders to challenge, delight and inspire us. Each event in the series is part reading, part open mic – and the theme of the open mic changes every month!  © The Wordsworth Trust

I thought I had a quiet(ish) weekend to finish the month, especially after three weeks of work… but then, along came The Black Country Living Museum with a whole day of workshops facilitated by the Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists as part of the Loff Out Loud Festival, a Sheffield Libraries event and HAY.

May was finished off at the WWBPA where we celebrated Walt Whitman’s 202nd Birthday with a presentation of artwork and film inspired by Leaves of Grass. It was marvellous curation and an enjoyable watch.

MASS Poetry Festival 2021 – Part 3

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MASS Poetry Festival 13th-16th May 2021

This is the final part of my MASS PF write up, sadly I missed the Headline event which closed the festival but it was a fantastic weekend and I feasted well.

Sunday 16th May

The final day was absolutely superb! I started with a workshop.

Chaotic? Good!: Harnessing the Power of the Happy Accident in Your Poetry

James Merrill used a Ouija board to commune with the spirits of the dead. He got 560 pages out
of it. French Surrealists described their dreams, Tracy K. Smith took an eraser to the Declaration
of Independence, and Jericho Brown writes lines on slips of paper that he slides around until
something interesting pops out.

In this workshop, we’ll use techniques such as erasure, web-surfing, tarot decks, and more to
help attendees relinquish some control to outside forces (and the unconscious) during the
drafting and revision stages of their processes. This can create work that functions less by logic
than by juxtaposition, association, the element of surprise–what Robert Bly called poetic
“leaping.”

Maria Pinto

Maria Pinto is a writer, educator, and mushroom enthusiast. She teaches at GrubStreet, reads for The Drum, and Peripheries, and has been awarded fellowships by Vermont Studio Center, The Writers’ Room of Boston, The Mastheads, and Garret on the Green. Find her work in FriggNecessary Fiction, and Cleaver.

Emily Franklin

Emily Franklin’s work has been published in the New York TimesGuernica, the Cincinnati ReviewNew Ohio ReviewShenandoahBlackbirdPainted Bride QuarterlyThe RumpusPassages NorthThe Journal, and Cimarron Review. Her poetry collection Tell Me How You Got Here was published by Terrapin Books in February 2021.

Walter Smelt

Walter Smelt’s poems have appeared in Colorado ReviewSubtropicsPoetry EastRedivider, and Peripheries, and his translations of poems in The Battersea Review, and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. Originally from Florida, he lives in Massachusetts and teaches English for Bunker Hill Community College and creative writing for GrubStreet.

Maya Demissie

Maya Demissie’s work has appeared in Monologue Project, a student publication, and they are the news managing editor of The Newtonite, their school newspaper. They also co-host Miamas, a storytelling podcast for students at their high school.

© Massachusetts Poetry Festival 2021

It was very interactive, we discussed finding inspiration, we played with form and poetry. Dynamic play with ideas from each of the panel. We all created some surprising work and it was experimental and great fun! Enlightening alchemy!

Every Place Has Its Story: Writing About Region

Mark Doty will moderate a panel discussion with Alice Kociemba, Robin Smith-Johnson and Rich Youmans, co-editors of From the Farther Shore: Discovering Cape Cod and the Islands Through Poetry (Bass River Press, 2021). Mark Doty will give an overview of the anthology and lead the editors in a discussion about how they conceived, selected, and organized the poems in order to bring the region to life.

They will then read a selection that illustrates how poetry can capture the spirit of the region—its history, its people, its landmarks, its industries, and its beauty.

Robin Smith-Johnson

Robin Smith-Johnson teaches at Cape Cod Community College. She is the author of two books of poetry: Dream of the Antique Dealer’s Daughter (Word Poetry, 2013), and Gale Warnings (Finishing Line Press, 2016), as well as being a co-founder of the Steeple Street Poets. Robin lives in Mashpee, MA.

Alice Kociemba

Alice Kociemba is a co-editor of From the Farther Shore: Discovering Cape Cod and the Islands Through Poetry (Bass River Press, forthcoming) along with Robin Smith-Johnson and Rich Youmans. She is founding director of Calliope Poetry and is the author of Bourne Bridge (Turning Point, 2016).

Rich Youmans

Rich Youmans’s work has appeared in diverse publications, including Contemporary Haibun Online (where he currently serves as editor in chief), Cape Cod Poetry Review, the Cape Cod Times, and The Best Small Fictions 2020 (Sonder Press). He lives in North Falmouth with his wife, Alice Kociemba.

Mark Doty

Mark Doty is the author of more than ten books of poetry, most recently Deep Lane (W.W. Norton, 2015), and three memoirs, including What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life (W.W. Norton, 2020).  Fire to Fire, his volume of new and selected poems, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008l He is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and lives in New York City.


© Massachusetts Poetry Festival 2021

This event, as advertised was geographically local in content. The Cape Cod area is an area I am still to explore – but listening in to the panel discussion certainly gave me a real sense of place. It was a most enjoyable hour.

They all talked about poetry as well as landscape and landmarks. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour in words.

Headline Reading with Ariana Reines and Patricia Spears Jones

Sponsored by The Shipman Agency with an opening reading by Jennifer Martelli.

Patricia Spears Jones is the recipient of The Jackson Poetry Prize, one the most prestigious awards for American Poets via Poets & Writers, Inc. The $50,000 prize is among the most substantial given to an American poet and is designed to provide what all poets need: time and encouragement to write. She is the eleventh winner. In language that is simultaneously sensuous, wise-cracking, explicit, and rollicking, Spears Jones describes a world rich in beauty and longing, with pain tempered always by joy.

Ariana Reines is an award-winning poet, playwright, and translator. Her most recent book of poetry is A Sand Book (Tin House, 2019), which was longlisted for the National Book Award. Her other books include Tiffany’s Poems (Song Cave, 2015); Ramayana (Song Cave, 2015); The Origin of the World (Semiotext(e), 2014); Beyond Relief (Belladonna*, 2013); Thursday (Spork Press, 2012); Mercury (Fence Books, 2011); Coeur de Lion (Fence Books, 2007); and The Cow (Fence Books, 2006). Her poems have been anthologized in Corrected Slogans (Triple Canopy, 2013); Miscellaneous Uncatalogued Materials (Triple Canopy, 2011); Against Expression (Northwestern University Press, 2011); and Gurlesque (Saturnalia, 2010). Reines has been described as “one of the crucial voices of her generation” by Michael Silverblatt on NPR’s Bookworm. In 2020, she won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. She’s been a MacDowell Fellow, has judged the National Poetry Series, and writes regularly for ArtForum.

Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), awarded an Honorable Mention from the Italian-American Studies Association, selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. Her chapbook, After Bird, was the winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016. Her work has appeared in ThrushVerse Daily, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), The Sycamore ReviewCream City Review, The Bitter Oleander, and Poetry. Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for her poetry. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review and co-curates the Italian-American Writers Series.

Jennifer Martelli facilitated the only MASS PF Workshop I missed this year, back in February. It was great to hear her read.

Ariana Reines talked about generational trauma and guilt, her mother’s mental illness, the conflict in Israel and immigration, the reality of being an immigrant. It was certainly not what I expected from the reading but it was obvious she needed to speak her truth at this moment in time. As she said – it is a matter of the heart and she wanted to speak from the heart.

Ariana Reines & Patricia Spears Jones shared powerful poetry!


MASS Poetry Festival 2021 – Part 2

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MASS Poetry Festival 13th-16th May 2021

The difficulty with writing about a festival a month after you went (and have since filled the past 30 days with more glorious poetry) is things tend to get forgotten or blend as one. This is a sign of how stand-out many of the MASS PF events were. I only have to look at the title of the session and the event comes flooding back to me.

So, here for your pleasure is the 2nd part of my MASS Poetry Festival write up. After all, it won’t happen again for a couple of years.

Saturday 15th May

Ecopoetry: Words in Balance

As the rainforest burns and wildfires rage, as climate change threatens our world, poets can bear witness, reflecting on the intricate interconnectedness of humanity, our planet, and nature. We are nature. EcoPoetry offers us a lifeline to hidden worlds and reminds us of our shared reliance on nature. This session explores the role of the poet as activist, as chronicler of destruction, as truth teller. In this reading, poets Fred Marchant, Jennifer Barber, Deborah Leipziger and Myronn Hardy share their ecopoems and reflect on the power of EcoPoetry to transform and heal our world and ourselves.

Fred Marchant

Fred Marchant has authored five books of poetry, the most recent of which, Said Not Said, was named an Honored Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. He has edited Another World Instead: The Early Poetry of William Stafford, and, co-translated (with Nguyen Ba Chung) works by several contemporary Vietnamese poets.

Deborah Leipziger

Deborah Leipziger is a poet, author, and advisor on sustainability. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on sustainability. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her poems have been published in literary magazines in four countries.

Jennifer Barber

Jennifer Barber’s new collection, The Sliding Boat Our Bodies Made, is forthcoming from The Word Works in 2022. Her book Works on Paper was published by The Word Works in 2016, and her two previous collections, both from Kore Press, are Given Away, and Rigging the Wind.

Myronn Hardy

Myronn Hardy is the author of five books of poems, most recently, Radioactive Starlings, published by Princeton University Press (2017). His poems have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Baffler, Rhino, and elsewhere.

© Massachusetts Poetry Festival 2021

This was a generous event, introductory poems by other great poets and some wonderfully powerful poetry. The poets shared context for their poems and sometimes process. I could have listened to all four of them for hours! An incredible Q&A after the readings too. Great interaction with the audience.

My two main USA hangouts since Lockdown 2020 have been The Walt Whitman Birthplace and the Emily Dickinson Museum. Both organisations have offered amazingly creative online content. Emily Dickinson was my first poet. One I have loved the work of all my life. I started learning about her life as a teenager and have never let go. I can’t believe it took a Lockdown to get me searching online for the Museum. I have certainly made up for it since!

Walt Whitman didn’t hit my radar until I came back to writing in 2013, but swiftly found his place in my heart and bookshelf. There is something incredibly magic about words that last the centuries and are still relevant today.

I had booked on the Annual poetry walk before MASS PF released the programme – but it is great that it fell during the festival and was part of it.

“Called Back”: A Virtual Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk

Days before her death in 1886, Emily Dickinson wrote her final letter, “Little Cousins, / Called Back. / Emily”. On May 15, the 135th anniversary of the poet’s death, join the Emily Dickinson Museum for an engaging virtual poetry reading and “walk” through Amherst, the town she called “paradise.” At each stop, we will see historical and contemporary images of sites of meaning for Dickinson including her garden and conservatory at the Homestead, The Evergreens — home to the poet’s brother and sister-in-law; the town common; Amherst College; and more. Not a lecture, this program infuses place with poetry. At each stop contemporary poets share their Dickinson-inspired poems and volunteers read Dickinson’s own words aloud. The final stop is Dickinson’s grave in West Cemetery where we will share reflections and a light-hearted virtual toast!

Elizabeth Bolton has a PhD in Literacy Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She writes articles, essays and poems about the connection between writing and mental health. She grew up in northern California and now lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario with her husband and two daughters.

Lori Desrosiers’ poetry books are The Philosopher’s DaughterSometimes I Hear the Clock Speak, and Keeping Planes in the Air, all from Salmon Poetry. Two chapbooks, Inner Sky and Typing with e.e. cummings, are from Glass Lyre Press. She edits Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry and Wordpeace.co, an online journal dedicated to social justice.

Hannah Baker Saltmarsh is the author of the poetry collection, Hysterical Water, published by The University of Georgia Press in March 2021. She has written a book of poetry criticism, entitled Male Poets and the Agon of the Mother: Contexts in Confessional and Post-confessional Poetry (Univ. of South Carolina P., 2019). She is the mother of three children, and lives with her husband in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she teaches and writes. 

Kate Godin lives in Western Massachusetts, where she tends to the writing needs of a small liberal arts college, a tween and a teen, a vigorous anxiety. She is a graduate of Bates College and the New School for Social Research.

Bonnie Larson Staiger is a North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate, the recipient of the ‘Poetry of the Plains and Prairies Prize (NDSU Press, 2018) and the ‘Independent Press Award: Distinguished Favorite’ (2019) for her collection, Destiny Manifested. Her second book In Plains Sight, is forthcoming from NDSU Press in 2021.

Robin Long is a queer poet and writer from Austin. She is expanding her fiction thesis on Emily Dickinson. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, 2020 National Poetry Month Editor’s Pick, and a digital poetry performer with FEELS Zine.

Siri Palreddy is a first-year at Amherst College, hoping to study both English and Neuroscience. An avid reader, she first discovered Emily Dickinson in high school, and has loved her work ever since. Apart from poetry, Siri enjoys writing creative nonfiction and is compelled by stories that navigate one’s identity (or identities) and roots. When not reading or writing, you can find Siri spending her free time volunteering, laying in the sun, or rewatching her favorite comfort shows. 

Peter Schmitt is the author of six books of poems. “Emily Dickinson and the Boston Red Sox” appears in his new collection, Goodbye, Apostrophe (Regal House). A graduate of Amherst and The Iowa Writers Workshop, he lives and teaches in his hometown of Miami, Florida.  

Don Skoog is a freelance musician, writer, and teacher living in Oak Park, Illinois. He plays Classical percussion and Jazz drums, as well as Latin American, Arabic, and Persian instruments. He authors books and articles on exploring culture through music—the latest, in Arabic, for The University of Chicago’s Majala magazine—and has written four novels (not all of them published yet). The poem Amherst, is from Adventures in the RhythmVerse, his first chapbook. 

Rebecca Starks is the author of the poetry collections Time Is Always Now, a finalist for the 2019 Able Muse Book Award, and Fetch, Muse (forthcoming from Able Muse Press), and is the recipient of Rattle’s 2018 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. She lives in Richmond, Vermont. 

Abigail Price is a 24 year old English poet, writer and Undergraduate student studying Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Policy at the University of Wolverhampton in England. Most of Abigail’s work is inspired by her past and significantly, nature which aided her recovery from mental illness in her early teenage years. Abigail is an avid writer & reader and her dream is to influence social change through British politics alongside writing beautiful poetry to leave people a little bit better, than when her poems found them. 

© Emily Dickinson Museum

www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/annual-poetry-walk-2021/

This tradition has been ongoing for 37 years it was initiated by a group of Amherst based Dickinson enthusiasts and was adopted by the Emily Dickinson museum. And today it continues to draw new and returning devotees each year we’re so thrilled that you’re here with us.

© Emily Dickinson Museum

A deeply celebratory event, one you can watch on the website link above. On the virtual poetry walk we visited six locations significant to the life of the have Emily Dickinson. Ten contemporary poets and volunteers read the poetry as we had the full text shown on screen, along with archive resources and photographs. Lots of historical information cleverly weaved through the event. It was beautiful.

It was one of those events which fully absorbs you! The laying of daisies towards the end was extremely emotional especially because of the pandemic and all those lives we have lost. A toast and choral reading at the end made us all feel connected across the world too.


After the event we were able to sign the virtual Guest Book.

A beautiful poetry walk to take with you all at teatime in the UK. Lovely choral reading to toast Emily and finish the event. Felt very connected, glad you could be part of the MASS Poetry Festival. Very excited to hear more about the restoration too. Carpets from England.
For what are Stars but Asterisks
To point a human Life?

(FR 1673)

A magical experience.

My final MASS PF event of the day was the Headline reading. I am a massive fan of Naomi Shihab Nye’s writing and always enjoy watching her readings. They have been a big part of my 2020+ Lockdown.

Headline Reading with Porsha Olayiwola, Tyehimba Jess, and Naomi Shihab Nye

Sponsored by The Grolier Poetry Book Shop

Porsha Olayiwola

Black, futurist, poet, dyke, hip-hop feminist, womanist: Porsha is a native of Chicago who now resides in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator, and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the artistic director at MassLEAP, a literary youth organization. Olayiwola is an MFA Candidate at Emerson College. Porsha Olayiwola is the author of i shimmer sometimestoo forthcoming with Button Poetry, and is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston.

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and OlioOlio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”

Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a 2004–2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000–2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He presented his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference and won a 2016 Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2018. Jess is a Professor of English at College of Staten Island.

Jess’ fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American PoetryBeyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First CenturyRole Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and ArtBum Rush the PageA Def Poetry JamPower Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago’s Guild Complex, and Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Creeley Prize, and “The Betty Prize” from Poets House, for service to poetry, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2011 Nye won the Golden Rose Award given by the New England Poetry Club, the oldest poetry reading series in the country. Her collection, 19 Varieties of Gazelle, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials including “The Language of Life with Bill Moyers” and also appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers. She has been affiliated with The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin for 20 years and also poetry editor at The Texas Observer for 20 years. In 2019-2020 she was the editor for New York Times Magazine poems. She is Chancellor Emeritus for the Academy of American Poets, a laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Award for Children’s Literature, and in 2017 the American Library Association presented Naomi Shihab Nye with the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award. In 2018 the Texas Institute of Letters awarded her the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. She was named the 2019-2021 Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. In 2020 she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle. Nye is professor of Creative Writing – Poetry at Texas State University.

© Massachusetts Poetry Festival 2021

It was a great introduction (for me) to both Porsha Olayiwola’s work and Tyehimba Jess. Olayiwola’s reading focused on social poetry, historical commentary and current issues facing black women. It was a totally enthralling and powerful set. She is a woman who harnesses poetic courage and uses it well.

Tyehimba Jess was fantastic – I could have listened to him for hours. So many hard hitting, grabbing lines.

‘What I know good starts with a brick and ends with a book

and bleeds in between,’

Jess bridges Slam and Academic poetry, I could hear the Blues influence in the rhythm of is work, the feel of it.

And as for Naomi Shihab Nye – wow. Generous and endearing as always. Quietly getting her point across. Passionate and dedicated to the work of poetry. The way she can approach such difficult subjects with complete gentleness is beyond me. She started with sharing her reasons for admiring MA poetic history, the poets who have come from this part of the world and she read a poem by a young Californian poet she knows, Emily Ligron. The MASS PF as a whole seemed to be very proactive in promoting unsung voices and the work of other famous, important poets from the area.

A fantastic day at the festival!

Part 3 COMING SOON!

WLF Mini-Fest 2021

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WLF Mini-Fest 2021

WLF Mini-Fest 2021!
Come and join us 6th-11th June.

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

Excited to announce the 2nd WLF Mini-Festival 2021! Come and join us 6th-11th June.

Keep up to date with Festival announcements here.

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Saboteur Awards Festival 2021

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Saboteur Awards Festival 10th-15th May

So the Stay at Home! Lit Festival is over – but there was no festival slump!

Saboteur Awards Festival (10th – 15th May) The team have been working hard to adapt the awards to a digital platform for the 2nd year and have introduced the Saboteur Awards Festival -a Panel Discussion, Workshop, Reading Series ‘specifically to promote work that had been impacted by the pandemic and/or the various lockdowns throughout the UK’.

At the end of the festival this year’s winners will be announced and then you can look forward to the Spotlight Winners Series running throughout May and all the way into July. There is a lot on offer on the You Tube channel.

I was super excited when I discovered Rose Condo was one of the performers on offer. I felt extremely lucky to finally catch Rose Condo’s reimagined show The Empathy Experiment. Amazing how she managed to deconstruct the 2019 show to bend around the global experience of 2020+ and I think probably makes it even stronger.

“An example of why we so desperately need to campaign for the survival of the arts.”

Northern Soul review of online performance for Bradford Literature Festival

I met Rose back in about 2015, when she Headlined Hit the Ode in Birmingham and I was first introduced to her little red dot. I knew I wasn’t going to see The Empathy Experiment in Edinburgh (Festival) – for one thing I was still hobbling around on a stick! But I had hoped to catch her last year, online at Bradford Festival, so I am glad that she is still performing this reimagining of The Empathy Experiment.

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The Carcanet Reading was highly enjoyable and great fun with a range of poets. I enjoyed readings from Katherine Horrex, Joey Connolly, Mina Gorji and Victoria Kennefick. I know the work of some of these poets and had most recently enjoyed Victoria Kennefick at the Stay at Home! Lit Festival. All of them were utterly brilliant and are on the Birthday list!

You can purchase the books by clicking the links beneath the covers.

Growlery by Katherine Horrex Debut Collection

Horrex – whose poems found an enthusiastic readership via Carcanet’s New Poetries series – unpicks the illusion that order upholds society and reveals the true ramshackle complexion of things. Her debut collection reimagines the ‘growlery’ of Dickens’ Bleak House by looking at the concept of internal space in a twenty-first century which is both connected and disjointed.

Long Pass Debut Collection

‘Ach! I misspoke. What I mean to say is this …’ In Long Pass, Joey Connolly’s first collection, the poet – in love, in puzzlement, in frustration or in elegy – keeps catching himself out, starting again. He wants to speak truthfully. He wants to say things simply. But nothing is as simple as it seems at first. Nothing strikes the interlocutor quite as he intends. Ach! He goes back. Deflections, tangents: the long pass, the long unfolding sentence, the growing sequence, move away from what they intend to say in order at last, wittily, angrily, ironically, to swerve in and say it.

‘...This is a serious attempt to write philosophy as poetry, to render complex arguments about nominalism and epistemology in verse without losing sensuality’s boom boom.’
Will Harris, Poetry School

Art of Escape

Among Mina Gorji’s poems in New Poetries V (2011) was one about Houdini entitled ‘The Art of Escape’ which returns here as the title poem. This colourful and vivid first collection continues the course of Mina Gorji’s meticulous explorations of ‘the strange and sometimes darker side of nature’ and the different forms and meanings of escape: dandelions crossing the ocean, the journey of a gall wasp from Aleppo to England, the transformation of an armadillo into music. These poems shift by degrees until new patterns and sounds emerge, transforming the familiar into unexpected configurations. Art of Escape is a wonderful casting off into the complex waters of adult life, in which change has become the constant.

Debut Collection

Victoria Kennefick’s daring first book, Eat or We Both Starve, draws readers into seemingly recognisable set-pieces – the family home, the shared meal, the rituals of historical occasions, desire – but Kennefick forges this material into new shapes, making them viable again for exploring what it is to live with the past – and not to be consumed by it.

©2000-2021 Carcanet Press Ltd

I was lucky enough to grab a workshop ticket for the weekend with Rose, which was a fantastic way to start the weekend (after a much needed – real life working week- lie in)! It was a great group, I knew a few of the people who came to the workshop. I wasn’t sure what to expect… but ‘Have a (Kind) Word with Yourself’ is never going to be a bad experience. It was joyous, there was a lot of laughter and writing too. No pressure and very relaxed. I don’t want to give details away as I know Rose plans to repeat the show and workshop. You should definitely book on when you see it!

The festival experience led up to the most exciting part — the announcement of the 2021 Saboteur Winners with some special new graphics especially for the 2021 Ceremony!

Check out Saboteur Awards Results, follow across social media and look out for bountiful readings on the You Tube channel as they Spotlight the winners from the end of May (26th) until July (4th).

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival – Week 2 – Part 4 – The 2nd Weekend #SAHLF 2021

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Saturday 8th

Poems for the Planet

Julian Bishop, Maggie Butt, Sarah Doyle and Cheryl Moskowitz are four well-published and prize-winning members of Poets for the Planet, who have come together to perform climate emergency poems and publish a pamphlet ‘Poems for the Planet’ (2020) with all profits to eco-charities.

Author Bio

Julian Bishop

Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London. He was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition and won the 2021 Poets and Players Competition. He’s also a former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry.

Maggie Butt

Maggie Butt’s sixth poetry collection is everlove (The London Magazine Editions 2021) and a novel, The Prisoner’s Wife, under the name Maggie Brookes was published internationally in 2020.

Sarah Doyle

Sarah Doyle is a poet and PhD researcher. She is widely placed and published, with a pamphlet of collage poems inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals – Something so wild and new in this feeling – published by V. Press in March 2021.

Cheryl Moskowitz

Cheryl Moskowitz is a poet, novelist and creative translator. Together with composer Alastair Gavin she runs the poetry and electronics performance series, All Saints Sessions, http://www.allsaintssessions.uk. Her recent pamphlet, Maternal Impression, is published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

© Stay-at-Home! Festival

This was a great reading from a book which got swallowed a bit by the pandemic, like my pamphlet ‘Patience’, this collective of poets also saw the readings they had lined up for the promotion of this publication cancelled. This is an important book – as all books are- but the message here is even more believed from the year we have all just experienced.

Sunday 9th

Write a Book in 10 Easy Steps!

Blank page and no idea how to begin? This practical hour-long workshop is guaranteed to kickstart your inspiration. We will explore the nuts and bolts of what a satisfying story needs. If you want to write commercial fiction that readers will adore this workshop is perfect for you!

Author Bio

Cesca Major is a novelist and screenwriter. She writes books based on mysterious events and The Thin Place is based around the sinister happenings at Overtoun Bridge in Scotland – a place where dogs have been known to leap to their deaths. Cesca has presented shows for ITV West and Sky Channels in the past. She enjoys hosting or speaking on festival panels and films vlogs about the writing process. She runs writing retreats twice a year in the West Country and teaches creative writing courses for the Henley School of Art. She writes uplifting books under other names and currently has a TV series in development. Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.

© Stay-at-Home! Festival

This was an incredible workshop to finish my festival experience and a true lesson in how much can be packed into a one hour session. Busily scribbled notes throughout and it was a delight to hear a truthful, honest account of a career writer. Lots of insight into the process of simplifying the big obstacles that stop people from completing projects.

Huge gratitude to the SAHLF team for making Spring 2021 slightly less of a weight to bear. This has been pure escapism and I have enjoyed every session I managed to attend.

Pulling off online festivals is no mean feat and you have, once again, been incredible.

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival – Week 2 – Part 3 #SAHLF 2021

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Snippet reviews from some of my festival experience. Enjoy your bite of SAHLF 2021.

All the featured books can be purchased in the S@HLF Bookshop here.

Thursday 6th

Layers in Flash Fiction

A writing workshop on imagery and structure, with Anita Goveas and Farhana Khalique.

Author Bio

Farhana Khalique

Farhana Khalique is a writer, voiceover artist and teacher from London. Her stories are forthcoming or have appeared in the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2021, Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Anthology 2020, Reflex Fiction and more. Farhana has been shortlisted for The Asian Writer Short Story Prize, and she has won a Word Factory Apprentice Award. She is also the editor of Desi Reads and a submissions editor at SmokeLong Quarterly.

Anita Goveas

Anita Goveas is British-Asian and based in London. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s twitter zine, and she’s an editor for the Flash Flood. She is one of the teachers on Dahlia Publishing’s 2021 ‘A Brief Pause‘ writer’s development programme. Her debut flash collection Families and Other Natural Disasters was published by Reflex Press in Sept 2020. © SAHLF Programme

This was an amazing workshop, I signed up with the thought of getting back into Flash Fiction writing and these two certainly spurred me on. This was an excellent workshop, they managed to squeeze so much into the hour. I didn’t really know what to expect. They made me think about writing in a fresh, new way.

Thank You for The Small Things: Poetry Workshop with Nadine Aisha Jassat

A workshop with award-winning writer Nadine Aisha Jassat on using poetry to help give thanks for the small things. This gentle workshop will feature prompts to reflect and write on, suitable for folks writing for the first time or those who write regularly, and will make use of some zoom features including the chat box.

Author Bio

Nadine Aisha Jassat is an award-winning writer and the author of Let Me Tell You This (404 Ink). She has been published widely, including in It’s Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race (Picador), Nasty Women (404 Ink), Staying Human (Bloodaxe Books) and more. She has performed her work internationally and has drawn significant acclaim, including receiving a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and being shortlisted for the prestigious Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, and was recently named by Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay in her International Literature Showcase selection of 10 Compelling ‘BAME’ writers working in the UK, with Kay writing: ‘Hers is a powerful, unforgettable new voice.’ © SAHLF Programme

SAHLF Bookshop here

This was another incredible workshop, one which warmed all our hearts and again, so much packed into the hour. I got some writing done and have useful ideas to run with in the future. This hour was a pleasure and a joy and I am SO GLAD I didn’t miss this!

Friday 7th

Friday was exceptionally busy so I didn’t make it to the festival until the evening.

Solace in Sound – Three Bloodaxe Poets Explore the Landscape of Grief

Join a trio of Bloodaxe poets whose recent poetry collections span Scotland, Ireland, England and Estonia. Each shares a powerful sense of their formative landscapes; whether farmland, forest, mountains, estuaries, rivers or beyond. In poems that consider the impact of loss – of friends and friendships, parents, or a communal event of the most traumatic kind – these collections foster sympathy and strength. The poets will read from their own work, and also from each other’s, creating a unique conversation about memory and resonance in the landscape.

Author Bio

Jane Clarke

Jane Clarke is the author of two poetry collections, The River and When the Tree Falls (Bloodaxe Books 2015 & 2019), and an illustrated chapbook, All the Way Home, (Smith|Doorstop 2019). Four of her poems feature in Staying Human (Bloodaxe Books 2020) and one of the poems from When the Tree Falls was selected for The Forward Book of Poetry 2021. She grew up on a farm in Co. Roscommon and her work explores enduring connections to people, place and nature. She lives in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow where she combines writing with teaching & mentoring creative writing.

Philip Gross

Philip Gross, born in Cornwall, son of an Estonian wartime refugee, has lived in South Wales since 2004. He won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009, a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and is a keen collaborator – with artist Valerie Coffin Price on A Fold In The River (Seren, 2015), with poet Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018) and with scientists on Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018). His latest collections are Between The Islands (Bloodaxe, 2020) and Troeon/Turnings (Seren, 2021) with Welsh language poet Cyril Jones. A new Bloodaxe collection, The Thirteenth Angel, is due in 2022.

Heidi Williamson

Heidi Williamson grew up in Norfolk and spent many years living in Central Scotland. Her first collection, Electric Shadow, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. The Print Museum won the 2016 East Anglian Book Award for Poetry. Return by Minor Road, published in 2020, revisits her time living in Dunblane at the time of the Primary School shooting and its aftermath. She is an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and also works for the Poetry Society, Poetry School, National Centre for Writing and The Writing Coach.

© SAHLF Programme

I did not want to miss this reading. I saw Heidi last year at the SAHLF and have been fortunate enough to attend several of Philip’s readings. This was an hour filled with incredible poetry. It’s always interesting to hear how themes from different bodies of work can chime together.

SAHLF Bookshop here

The FINAL weekend of the Festival post – COMING SOON!

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival – Week 2 – Part 2 #SAHF 2021

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Wednesday 5th

MeToo / #Us Together

Three years after the emergence of the global #MeToo movement, we revisit the poems (and poets) behind the #MeToo Women’s Poetry Anthology. Poets Jill Abram, Deborah Alma, Kim Moore, Wendy Pratt, Victoria Bennett, and Jhilmil Breckenridge discuss breaking the silence, whether there is still hope for change, and what needs to happen next for survivors to be heard. Any donations contributed during this event will be given to Women’s Aid.

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SAHLF Bookshop

The proceeds from this event and all proceeds from the book go to Women’s Aid – a charity supporting women in crisis.

Author Bio

Jill Abram

Jill Abram is Director of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, a collective encouraging craft, community and development. Publications include The Rialto, Magma, Under the Radar, Ink Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, and Harana.

Deborah Alma

Deborah Alma is a UK poet and teacher. Deborah is editor of #MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology. Her first full collection, Dirty Laundry, is published by Nine Arches Press and she now runs the Poetry Pharmacy in Shropshire.

Kim Moore

Kim Moore’s first collection The Art of Falling (Seren, 2015) won the 2016 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Her second collection All The Men I Never Married will be published by Seren in October 2021.

Wendy Pratt

Wendy Pratt’s latest collection When I Think of My Body as a Horse won the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet award. She is a poet, author and workshop facilitator and the creator and editor of Spelt magazine.

Victoria Bennett

Her most recent poetry pamphlet, To Start The Year From Its Quiet Centre, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2020, and is an invitation to witness to the intimate moments of dying, telling the story of a relationship between women that is transformed through grief.

Jhilmil Breckenridge

Jhilmil Breckenridge is a poet, writer and activist. She is the founder of Bhor Foundation, an Indian charity, which is active in mental health advocacy. Her debut poetry collection is Reclamation Song.

© SAHLF Programme

#Me Too was first coined in 2006 by New Yorker Toronto Burke. In 2017 following major press coverage (Harvey Weinstein) the # was used over 12 million times in a couple of weeks. Deborah Alma, after following the news, put out a message on Facebook asking who HADN’T experienced… and only 3% hadn’t. And actually in further conversation, this 3% had as well. The book was published in 2018 (Fair Acre Press), in a time when the #me too movement was hitting everyone’s radar.

Sadly, it is still a necessary message to get out to the world. More so since Lockdown.

I went to a few #Me Too readings when the book was launched. My submission didn’t make it between the cover there were hundreds of submissions and the book couldn’t accommodate them all, so Victoria Bennett stepped in and published them on the Wild Women Press website (mine can be found here along with many others). It was also included in a body of work exhibited as part of the ASKING FOR IT exhibition in 2019.

It was hearing Kim Moore read from The Art of Falling, which enabled me to find the strength to write it into existence in the first place.

This, I knew would be a brilliant reading and it was with lots of Q&A too and because of the weight of the subject matter they finished the event off with a touch of self-care. A question to every member of the panel.

SAHLF Bookshop
SAHLF Bookshop
SAHLF Bookshop
SAHLF Bookshop

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When Pain Doesn’t Define Your Story

Explore the ways fiction writing can be used as a powerful distraction to help manage chronic pain in this one-hour workshop led by Gillian Shirreffs, a writer who lives with multiple sclerosis.

Author Bio:

Gillian is a Glasgow-based writer with a doctorate in Creative Writing and a background in teaching. She uses fiction to explore the world of illness and the essay form to examine hidden medical places and spaces. Her work has appeared in The Interpreter’s House literary journal, thi wurd fiction magazine, the anthology, Tales from a Cancelled Country, and the medical humanities journal, The Polyphony, amongst others. She’s led workshops that explore the way fiction writing can be used as a distraction to help manage chronic pain for Glasgow Women’s Library and The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland. © SAHLF Programme

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This was an incredible workshop and I am so glad I didn’t miss it! If you suffer chronic pain and are a writer, go and watch this session if you can.

I can finally see why 2019 was NOT a creative year for me.

MORE COMING tomorrow!

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival – Week 2 – Part 1 #SAHF 2021

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Snippet reviews from some of my festival experience. Enjoy your bite of SAHLF 2021.

All the featured books can be purchased in the S@HLF Bookshop here.

Monday 3rd

Monday was a Bank Holiday here which meant Mr G. had a rare day off work and we spent it not online much. I missed a good programme of events today but actually ended up going to the open mic as well, which I hadn’t anticipated.

The Pleasures of Detail

Join writer and University of Glasgow senior lecturer Elizabeth Reeder for a short workshop about gather original details – and how to them as a driving force in your writing.

Elizabeth Reeder, originally from Chicago, now lives in Scotland. She writes fiction, narrative non-fiction and hybrid work that creates spaces between forms, subjects and disciplines. Her work explores identity, family, illness and grief, creativity and landscapes. She has published two previous novels, Ramshackle and Fremont. Her latest novel, An Archive of Happiness, was published by Penned in the Margins in September 2020. microbursts – a collection of hybrid, lyric essays about the places between life and death; memoir and poetry; making and letting go – is a collaboration with artist Amanda Thomson and is published by Prototype Publishing (Feb 2021). She is a MacDowell Fellow and a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at University of Glasgow. © SAHLF Programme

This was a brilliant hour, lots of advice and thoughts on editing. People are still talking about this session *and we are on the last weekend of the festival now. I am not surprised, it was great. We did a short writing exercise from multiple angles, a useful take on the ordinary.

SAHLF Bookshop

* Longlisted for the 2020 Highland Book Prize*

Open Mic Night!

The online literary salon where writers and guests come together to read, listen and encourage. Prose, poetry and pleasant surprises welcome.

Author Bio

Janet Floyer holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. She is inspired by the quirky side of family life and fully embraces the term creative non-fiction. You can find her work in From Glasgow to SaturnRandom Reject Project, and languishing shyly on her laptop. Floyer’s monologue ‘Can you See Me?’ was performed in November 2020 by Rachel Ogilvy for Hidden Women online at In Motion Theatre. She facilitates creative writing workshops for people in addiction recovery, and writers about town who need a little extra inspiration and encouragement. Since 2019, Janet has been opening her door for literary salons both at home and online including the #Stay-at-Home-Literary Festival and the #Stay-at-Home-Fringe in 2020. Janet lives in Malaga, Spain with her husband, daughters and miniature schnauzers. So far, they’re all still speaking to her. © SAHLF Programme

It was a fun hour and lovely to put names to faces from the INSTA sessions.

It was so successful and popular the SAHLF team have added a 2nd one, where people can share writing they have completed during the festival.
Tuesday 4th

Kathryn Koromilas

Join Kathryn Koromilas for a daily morning meditative writing session. In this calm and mindful session, we’ll meditate – in writing – with a poem. The intention of meditative writing is to help you remove mental obstacles, encourage mindful concentration, enhance your creative practice, and just generally supercharge your day. Sessions will be streamed live on Instagram, every morning from 9:15am to 9:45 am for the duration of the festival.

Author Bio

Kathryn Koromilas is a creative writer, a teacher & a gentle, joyful Stoic! She uses ancient wisdom and writing practices to help reignite creativity, reimagine purpose, and foster a thriving writing practice. © SAHLF Programme

I have been joining in with these sessions on IGTV but TODAY I made my first LIVE session. They are a great way to start the day. Most of the recordings can be found on the SAHLF Instagram, a few had technical difficulties and unfortunately are not available.

The basis is meditative writing from the starting point of copy work. I have enjoyed this practise and have also found some of my own writing completed in these sessions has some gold within it too.

On top of that, these sessions are relaxing and fun.

Claire Dyer on Instagram Live

Poet and novelist Claire Dyer reads from Yield, her new poetry collection. In Yield, the the eponymous verb is repeatedly redefined over a poetic odyssey that sees a son becomes a daughter as the mother becomes a poet, only to see the daughter follow suit.

Claire Dyer’s poetry collections are published by Two Rivers Press, her novels by Quercus and The Dome Press. Her novel, The Significant Others of Odie May, is forthcoming in 2021. She curates Reading’s Poets’ Café, teaches creative writing and runs Fresh Eyes, a mentoring, editorial and critiquing service. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and is a regular contributor on BBC Radio Berkshire. © SAHLF Programme

I was lucky enough to be at the Launch of Yield, but these poems do not lose their power the more you read/hear them.

I was glad to listen in again to this short reading from Yield.

Anthony Anaxagorou: A Workshop on Strangeness and Associative Logic in Poems

Acclaimed poet Anthony Anaxagorou reads from his collection After the Formalities and leads a workshop on strangeness and associative logic in poetry.

Author Bio

Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His poetry has been published in POETRY, The Poetry Review, Poetry London, New Statesman, Granta, and elsewhere. His work has also appeared on BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio 4, ITV, Vice UK, Channel 4 and Sky Arts. His second collection After the Formalities published with Penned in the Margins is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the 2019 T.S Eliot Prize. It was also a Telegraph and Guardian poetry book of the year.

In 2020 he published How To Write It with Merky Books; a practical guide fused with tips and memoir looking at the politics of writing as well as the craft of poetry and fiction along with the wider publishing industry. He was awarded the 2019 H-100 Award for writing and publishing, and the 2015 Groucho Maverick Award for his poetry and fiction. In 2019 he was made an honorary fellow of the University of Roehampton. Anthony is artistic director of Out-Spoken, a monthly poetry and music night held at London’s Southbank Centre, and publisher of Out-Spoken Press.

© SAHLF Programme

I was fortunate enough to attend a few of Anthony’s workshops in the first lockdown and even had a 1 to 1 with him in 2020, I was delighted to have another opportunity and was excited to discover it wasn’t a repeat class.

It was great, a reading and lots of thoughts on writing as well as a chance to do some writing of our own. If you get a chance to catch this, please do.

SAHLF Bookshop

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival finishes today – a brilliant fortnight of bookish (and beyond) events & opportunities from Carolyn Jess-Cooke & the SAHLF team. But fear not… next week I will continue blogging about it and I believe the You Tube channel will be open for donations to watch replay/catch up of some of the Festival Events.