Category Archives: Readings

A Quick Flashback to April and May

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Photo by Toni Ferreira on Pexels.com

APRIL

As anyone who follows the blog will know, April is mainly a space for NaPoWriMo, half of which falls during Easter break, the other 15 days are snatched between work and life. This April we also had lots of family needs and it was necessary to step back from work as much as possible to support and survive.

I realise it is now almost the end of June and I have not posted, so here is a little flashback beyond NaPoWriMo.

I had two wonderful events in April, Peter Sutton’s Book Launch, where I was a Guest Reader and Country Voices in Ironbridge, where I performed alongside Nick Pearson & Cherry Doyle. It was a brilliant afternoon of poetry.

Both of these gigs saw my return to LIVE events (after an attempt last September). There is something very strange about the act of leaving your home to perform nowadays, it all feels so new and different. Both events were well attended, so it shows not everyone was as nervous as me.

I have read Cherry’s and Nick’s work but never met them, that was a pleasure. I saw Nick perform again this month at Welshpool Festival. I have also worked with and been aware of Sara-Jane Arbury for years but had never met face to face, that was lovely after knowing her online for a few years.

In Elmslie House the gallery also had a few pieces on display which were created by another of Sara- Jane’s Ledbury Poetry workshop participants. We had fun finding them. Peter’s book launch was an incredible event, a packed audience and so much rich poetry. Black Pear Press know how to throw a party/launch!

I also took part in the Mindful Poetry gathering run by The Well in partnership with the On Being Project. I have attended since 2020 lockdown year, it is a wonderful group of creative Americans and is always a lovely hour of soulfulness attended by people from all around the world. I have really missed these events and was looking forward to them coming back for National Poetry Month.

The Well is nourished by the non-profit organization A Mindful Moment. Our mission is to improve the mental and emotional well-beingconnectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integrationmindfulnessmusicmovement, and healing-centered practices.

The Well © 2022

I went to lots of events and watched some stunning sets. I was lucky enough to see Jason Allen-Paisant, who I came across just two years ago during Lockdown. His poetry is amazing and my bookshelves now house him.

Jason Allen-Paisant reads ‘Walking With the Word Tree’

MAY

May was full of medical appointments, work and family. We celebrated some of our American relatives arriving in our part of the UK after time in London and before a trip across to Dublin. I was also busy developing the program for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, along with the rest of the team. I missed several events due to complete exhaustion. Later in the month there were some family needs which very much took over everything.

Photo by Travis Rupert on Pexels.com

I did manage some much needed time at the ocean (my first time away from home in 4 years), it was a long trip to Wales for a short amount of time there but worth every hour of the journey.

I received a beautiful copy of a pamphlet a group of Stanza members worked on in 2018 as part of a Forest of Dean project. It is beautiful and a privilege to read all our words from that day. Thank you to Andrew Hoaen for my copy of SILVA – it brings that incredible day with the trees back to me!

I went to the Nine Arches Press Book Launch of Julia Webb and Tom Sastry, a wonderful event and two stunning collections! They were joined by Daniel Sluman, who’s latest collection ‘Single Window’ is also on my shelf!

Another great Book Launch with Bloodaxe poets Jo Clement, Sarah Wimbush & Clare Shaw.

I admire the work of all these poets. It is also lovely knowing (most of) them!

I also had the gift of a Verve Poetry Launch which included Sarah James and her latest collection Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic. I have heard Kathy Pimlott read before, I have read some of Kayleigh Campbell’s work and it was fascinating hearing Georgina Wilding.

Kayleigh Campbell, Sarah James, Kathy Pimlott & Georgina Wilding.

I finally finished work on a project I have been sitting on for the best part of two years. And by the end of the May WLFF Festival was ready and we were all busy with promotion.

I had some poems accepted for publication, which was fabulous as I have been unable to submit much since March and there have been lots of rejections stacking up the inbox! I have had all three of my poems accepted for a project which will entail an anthology both hardcopy and digital. I had some of my manuscript poems accepted by an anthology too and have managed to get some work into the Mindful Poetry Anthology (USA) for the second year running.

Now we are in June and I have been working full time and trying to balance the rest of life on plates with small circumferences. I have to get back to the desk at some point, but I am not quite there yet.

Having said that – I am off to Reading in a fortnight to headline Poet’s Cafe. So I am very much still working and writing but also whirling and spinning through each day!

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Reading for Ukraine

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Reading for Ukraine
Monday, April 11th, 2022 at 4PM CT (9PM GMT)

Join Ukrainian and U.S. writers in person at the Shambaugh House or online for a special reading dedicated to supporting Ukraine.

Co-sponsored by Prairie Lights Bookstore, International Programs, and the UNESCO Cities of Literature of Iowa City, Lviv, and Odessa.

Register for the event in advance here: https://bit.ly/readingforukraine

Guest Poet in Real Life

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I have had a few features online since 2020 and been part of many projects, but it was 2018 the last time I was involved in Live performances. I tried to get back out in 2021 but found Covid anxiety was too intense.

I am still doing my best to isolate from the world due to Covid, (but I have had it so hoping I have a few months of immunity). I have only left home twice to perform live this year – the Resonate Festival DNA: Our Stories & Peter Sutton’s Elgar Country Book Launch.

Next Saturday I will be taking to the road again for a gig in Ironbridge. It seems strange but also exciting to have this possibility of live performance again after a great many years.

For more information on other events check out Offa’s Press.

Book Launch ~ Elgar Country by Peter Sutton

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Published by Black Pear Press

Since 2016 I have been fortunate enough to have written endorsements for new collections. It is always an honour to be asked and to be trusted with the m/s, to read it before it’s published and to ultimately string words together which will encourage other’s to buy it from the blurb.

When Peter Sutton approached me in 2021 I was delighted to be one of the poets writing an endorsement for his latest collection. I have known Peter for many years and know what an expert he is on Elgar, I knew this collection would be a m/s I would enjoy. I wasn’t wrong! I read it many times.

Fast forward the publishing process and Peter is ready to launch. I am invited as one of his Guest Readers and all LIVE tickets have SOLD OUT! It will be my first live event since January and I am looking forward to seeing real people, (I still only leave home for work/medical/family visits).

Elmslie House, Malvern – 4pm Sunday 3rd April

You can join the fun online – instructions will appear here tomorrow.

The Facebook event page can be found here. Peter will be joined by guests Sara-Jane Arbury, Nina Lewis and Michael W. Thomas who will also be reading.

Elgar Country is an exploration of the landscapes, lanes, towns and cities that formed the backdrop to Elgar’s life and inspired so much of his music. Sutton’s own love for this part of the country is manifest in these poems as he urges us to ‘come to the Malvern Hills, to the counties of Hereford and Worcester, and hear the marvellous words of poets, the sounds of the earth, and the magical music of Elgar’. © Black Pear Press

Click the link below to find out more and hear recordings of Peter reading some of the poems from his latest collection.

Black Pear Press

BPP

Poetry for Ukraine

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Whilst the war on Ukraine rages, it is hard for us to feel okay about posting other things. In times of crisis artists do what they can in the way they do. I can donate, I can help, I can promote others doing the same.

Art itself can help raise spirits, many of you will have seen the footage of the brave young singer in the basement or the man playing Imagine for the refugees crossing the border.

Little girl sings Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ as she hides in bomb shelter in Ukraine | ITV News

Musician Davide Martello, 40, lives in Konstanz, southern Germany.


There will be many local fundraisers for you to get involved with. Here are some coming up in my region and beyond.

Fundraiser In Ledbury For Ukraine

Saturday 19th March, 10.30am – 10pm,

The Poetry House, The Barrett Browning Institute, Ledbury HR8 2AA.

There will be:
Drop-in Art Workshops with artist Jeanette McCulloch10.30am – 12.30pm Make a beautiful Ukraine inspired folk art greeting card
Poetry Clinic
11am – 5pm Receive individual feedback from poet Lesley Ingram. Minimum donation £20 for 20 minutes.
Open Mic
2pm – 5pm Read a poem by a Ukrainian poet. Or any poem of your choice. Drop-in. All welcome.
Poets and Musicians for Ukraine!
6pm – 10pm Live performances from Elvis McGonagall, Connie Gordon, Jonny Fluffypunk, Mark Stevenson, Amy Rainbow, Nick Trigg, Sara-Jane Arbury, John Rose and Steve Rooney. Minimum donation £10.


Raising money for https://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal


Manchester Writers for Ukraine Illustration by David Bailey https://www.davidbaileyillustration.com/

A spoken word event Manchester Writers for Ukraine will be taking place on Friday 25 March 2022 at 7:30pm at the King’s Arms in Salford.

Writers will include Sarah Butler, Michael Conley, Fat Roland, Peter Kalu, John McAuliffe, Cheryl Martin, Reshma Ruia and Louise Wallwein. All funds raised go to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

Manchester writers share poems and stories in the intimate setting of the Kings Arms Theatre.

All funds raised go to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal https://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal

#StandWithUkraine

Full capacity seating with no social distancing. Please do not attend if showing any COVID-19 symptoms.

Tickets here.


The following night, in Worcester Earth Hour is an event raising funds for Ukraine.

Saturday 26th March, 7:15 pm, Freds, 33 The Tything, Worcs., WR1 1JL

Entry to the event is free, all proceeds will be for the fundraiser.


And in April, Ade Couper, Worcestershire Poet Laureate, is organising Poetry for Ukraine.

SATURDAY, APRIL 2, 2022 AT 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Worcester Quaker Meeting House

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels.com

An evening of live poetry to raise funds for people affected by the war in Ukraine.

Find out more information about the event here.


Read It Wild ~ with Amanda Tuke

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Read It Wild – readings and conversations with nature writers

Join nature writers Amanda Tuke, Electra Rhodes, Vanessa Wright and Jane V Adams for an event to celebrate nature writing.

About this event

Sit back and relax while a range of new and established nature writers spin words for you which bring the wild inside. From a frantic spring and light-filled summer, to autumn scents and winter footprints, join us for a celebration of diverse nature writing. And you’ll hear what nature writing offers for published writers, with the opportunity to ask them questions.

This free event is made possible through National Lottery Funding via Arts Council England.

Join us for FREE
Register for tickets here on Eventbrite.

HURRY SALES END SOON!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/read-it-wild-readings-and-conversations-with-nature-writers-tickets-242656721787

About the event’s hosts

Amanda Tuke is a nature writer, botanist and birder based in suburban south London and she is currently Great North Wood nature-writer-in-residence. She contributes regularly to Bird Watching Magazine , the London Wildlife Trust Blog and has written for BBC Countryfile and Resurgence & Ecologist Magazines. Amanda blogs about nature and her freelance nature-writing journey and loves leading nature-writing workshops.

El Rhodes is an archaeologist who lives in Wales and Wiltshire. Her prose and poetry has been widely published in a range of anthologies and journals, and she writes a regular column on rural issues for Spelt Magazine. Her book, ‘My Family & Other Folklore’, was recently longlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize and is now out on submission. And her coastal South Wales set novella, ‘Sextet’, recently won the Louise Walters Books P.100 competition.

Vanessa Wright is a nature writer who lives in Hertfordshire and loves the Hebrides. She left corporate life last year to pursue her passion for wildlife and study for a Masters in Nature and Travel Writing at Bath Spa University. She has contributed to Bird Watching Magazine and The Pilgrim, written on behalf of the Hertfordshire & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and was recently longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Fiction Prize.

Jane V Adams is a naturalist, photographer and travel and nature writer based in Dorset. She has written for The Telegraph, BBC Countryfile and BBC Wildlife Magazines, and writes a regular nature column for The Blackmore Vale Magazine. Recently longlisted for the 2022 New Travel Writer of the Year Competition, Jane is currently writing a book about nature’s amazing moments, due for publication in 2023.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

El Rhodes first reached my radar during Lockdown/ 2020 and I enjoyed her workshops and the writing that brought me. Last year, I was lucky enough to find some more nature writing workshops and as a result, met Amanda Tuke and started the joy that is writing Thumbnails.

I have successfully had both my workshop pieces published on the London Wildlife Website, thanks to Amanda. You can read them here, along with many others:

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/blog/amanda-tuke/common-or-garden-magic-anthology-nature-writing

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/blog/amanda-tuke/song-ice-and-footprints-anthology-nature-writing

At the last workshop in 2021, Amanda told us about a planned reading and how we may be able to get involved. In 2022 we were invited to write some seasonal thumbnails, sketching a whole year of nature. After much research, drafting and editing I was excited to press SEND on my first submission of 2022 – and even more excited to hear my pieces had made it into the reading this weekend.

I am delighted to have my nature year included in this event and look forward to hearing the other pieces and the main readers.

I hope you can join us too!

RELATED LINKS:

https://suburbanwild.wordpress.com/

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/

2020 Writing from Inlandia Book Launch

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During the 1st UK Lockdown, (which for me lasted 6 months before I was back to face to face work), I signed up to many workshops and writing classes. It was not just a way of navigating the pandemic, coping with mental health or a way to travel when grounded, it helped me find community.

The pandemic came after 15 months of ill health, in which I barely worked or lived and was, aside from hospital appointments and the occasional tea out with friends, pretty much locked down. I had been back at work for a few weeks and was trying to find my writing mojo again. I managed to edit my collection on morphine (not recommended) and through the kindness of friends was able to attend Stanza meetings and the join the Worcester Poetry Film Collective, I even made one event at the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe in 2019. But I struggled to be at the desk and it was a long journey back to creating. The realisation of the global pandemic hit and … those of us lucky to have story, have story.

Poets in Motion was a great class with US/NZ/UK participants, a real international mix and a range of lives and stories. CelenaDiana Bumpus was a joy, there is no other word to describe her. Sadly, Celena passed away in 2020, before she had chance to make many of her plans realities. She is missed dearly and I am so grateful that we were able to write a class poem in her honour, which appears in the anthology too.

The day I received my book in the post I was so excited, I knew Inlandia Institute had planned a LIVE USA launch event and I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to read, then they announced an online launch event.

I am a panelist this evening AND so are some of my much loved and missed class members. It will be a great event, it is a splendid Anthology and I am blessed to have some words on the pages.

It’s free to come and watch – 9PM GMT.

Register HERE

Join Inlandia Institute for a special online reading of selected works from 2020 Writing from Inlandia! This yearly anthology has been published since 2011 and is an Inlandia tradition, with contributors from sixteen of Inlandia’s creative writing workshops in the 2020 edition. Packed with over 300 pages of stories, poems, and essays, 2020 Writing from Inlandia explores the experience of being alive through memoir, food writing, reflections on the COVID pandemic, and more. Participants will read their work aloud in reflection of the myriad challenges – and rewards – of being human. Don’t miss it!

In memory of Candace Shields, Morris Mendoza, and CelenaDiana Bumpus.

ORDER your copy here.

The Writing from Inlandia series was created to celebrate the participants in our creative writing workshops program and to serve as a record of who we are at the present moment. May these writings pay tribute to a year unlike any other.

© 2021 Inlandia Institute

June Review of the Month (Part 2)

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Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com

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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Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

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!