Category Archives: Research

NaPoWriMo – The BIG Catch Up – Day 21

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As I have said – I managed to keep up to date with writing poetry for the NaPoWriMo challenge, but the blog posts have lacked due to generally being extremely busy over the past week.

I am back at work now and my schedule is all about attempting balance. I have events booked for the next 5 days though, so I am trying to catch up with blogposts this evening.

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I can tell you where I went… researchland – and I got stuck there for almost an entire day.

The reason… I started with Carrie Etter’s prompt today and not napowrimo.net. Carrie’s 21st prompt required finding a photo/image online of the place you live, fifty years ago. At first I thought that was ages ago, then I keyed into how old I am and that these images wouldn’t be that historical.

I started my mammoth search and from the hunger of image came video exploration and a whole new obsession about our town twinning and the expeditions of local swimming clubs, then to the German town we are twinned with – as it was then and is now – then back to a Local Historian Society, more images… some quick scribbles, fleeting muse and then the seed of a huge, enormous post-Napo idea.

A visit to the reference section of the library, more notes… scaffold poems… more ideas. Once home some forgotten memories of my own and a local search in pursuit of an image of a building, long since demolished.

Another seedling idea.

This took me to a site where people film in derelict places and another local story. Needless to say it was late when I started my poem, I chose an earlier image I had collected before all my ideas started to explode like firecrackers.

The idea of Carrie’s prompt was to write as if you were there now. The photograph was a family picnic, in the background a special building central to our town (which is a lot older than I imagined)… the town not the significant building.

I picked my narrative from the youngest child (I am a middle child). It was nice to wear the baby shoes!

As with Day 20, I wrote straight onto the laptop and messed with the form of the poem with ease.

Dad’s car, our windbreaker,

I licked my fingers

as an hors d’oeuvre to chicken legs


napo2017button2 http://www.napowrimo.net/

Our featured participant for the day is rhymeswithbug, where the sports poem for Day 20 imagines poetry as a game of golf!

Today’s interview is with Eileen Myles, a longtime New Yorker and erstwhile presidential candidate, whose poems exhibit a direct, punk sensibility. You can read more about Myles in this brief New York Times profile, and you can find a number of her poems here.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates overheard speech. It could be something you’ve heard on the radio, or a phrase you remember from your childhood, even something you overheard a co-worker say in the break room! Use the overheard speech as a springboard from which to launch your poem. Your poem could comment directly on the overheard phrase or simply use it as illustration or tone-setting material.

I have a carry about notebook filled with overheard speech, but decided to listen out for something fresh. This meant that my poem was written after the 21st day (but as I am following 2 prompts and producing more than 60 poems, I can forgive myself). It was worth the wait. Overheard siblings.

I wrote two Haikus.

… meanness, fault shifted.


Jo Bell http://www.jobell.org.uk/ encouraged us to read And by Alison Brackenbury. I have met Alison several times, but this poem was a new read for me.


58d3e6b0bba6c-bpfullThe Poetry School offered writing in the style of someone else.

Day 21: In the Style of…

Morning poets! Today I’d like you to write in the style of another poet. Study their subject matter, the way they phrase things, the way they break lines, their vocabulary, their world view. Try not to do this from memory, but to actually read your chosen poet.

Do not say whose style you are writing in because I would like you to try to guess each other’s. Because they have such distinctive and easy to guess styles the following poets are banned: Emily Dickinson, ee cummings, Sharon Olds. Contemporary poets preferred please!

As an example, I have quickly written the following in the style of a contemporary American poet. Can you guess who?

Ringers

Leaving our beds

in the thick dark

and walking

to the light switch

on the wall

we have to just step

out and trust

there’ll be a floor

beneath us

as bell ringers

pull their ropes hard

before they’ve heard

the note before

the note before.


Feel free to solve this in the comments below.

Happy writing NaPo-ers!

NaPoWriMo Day 1

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As we are a participating blog, I thought it sensible to keep up to date with NaPoWriMo. So far it has been a busy weekend with an event in a neighbouring County and the Poetry Ballroom. I have managed my writing time but am only just now finding a space to blog about it.

Unlike previous years (where I have more or less gone alone), this year I am in several groups and have even joined in at The Poetry School. I am using prompts from various sources to kick-start the writing. So far I have managed dual prompts from www.napowrimo.net and prompts from Carrie Etter, from her Facebook group – where we are not sharing poems (that is what the Poetry School enrolement is for), instead we are discussing some of our favourite poems and how it feels to be embarking on a crazy month of a poem a day. Carrie added a page of 30 prompts and poets have been dipping into them in random order. Out of 7 poems written so far I have 4 that I shall keep to edit and mould later in the year.

I do a draft/edit/rewrite – move on – 30 in 30 days is a pace of a thing but generally you get a sense for the ones to revisit and no writing is wasted time (in my opinion). I enjoy the challenge of this craziness and also carving out some daily writing time.

For the first time since discovering this challenge (2014), I am writing longhand in notebooks. That in itself makes a change to my normal practise.

DAY 1: SATURDAY

http://www.napowrimo.net/day-one-it-begins/ napo2017button1

I wrote Day 1 in the early hours of Day 2, I learnt a few years back that when you are busy FORGIVE yourself for not writing to deadline, the world will not collapse.

The main prompt at Naponet was a Kay-Ryan-esque poem: short, tight lines, rhymes interwoven throughout…

I negated mentioning animals and I think my sharp philosophical conclusion may have to be added in later edits, in was in the style as far as line/rhythm. A poem about our house, more honestly the state of our house my lifestyle has created.

I think ‘Home’ works as a complete poem but looking to post a flavour here (as blogging it in full is considered publication), I cannot choose lines that will give you much taste at all.

This year’s links from NaPo are all interviews with a poet, whether you are joining in writing this year or not I would urge you to check out the links and interviews found on the official site. Spend the month reading instead.

Today’s interview came from the Paris Review and is with Kay Ryan https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/5889/kay-ryan-the-art-of-poetry-no-94-kay-ryan

All Your Horses By Kay Ryan https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/57401

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The featured participant for DAY 1 was gloria-logo-02http://www.gloria-gonsalves.com/glopowrimonapowrimo-early-bird-spring-wedding/ with a special Early Bird prompt (Haibun) inspired by wilting tulips in her writing space.


My 2nd effort came from Carrie Etter’s first prompt, I am tackling hers in order. I wrote about a badge collection that I had almost forgotten collecting, lots of childhood memory resurfaced.

Day 2 napo2017button2 suggested using a recipe for inspiration, I found an Ancient Roman recipe and rewrote it as a couple attempting to conceive. An interesting exercise.

Over at The Poetry School the prompt was to write a long thin poem.

January in Review

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typewriter-1227357_1280 2017 started well with lots of diary dates, events and writing time. Of course it was also back to work after a fortnight (unpaid) break. Much needed. I made it back to Ludlow to support Claire Walker who was one of the Headline poets alongside Matt Black. A little like not realising two years had passed since I last watched Ash Dickinson perform, I cannot believe a year has passed since I last went to the Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room! This time warp has to do with working for 18 months on Fragile Houses I think. Months slip by fast and the first thing that has to go when you shackle yourself to the desk to write is faraway events.

Week 1:

Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin in Ludlow, it was lovely to see everybody again and I hope to make it back before 2018. Matt Black (who I first years ago at a special event we both performed at The Ort in Birmingham  (2014), more recently we shared the floor in Birmingham at Stirchley Speaks (my Headline, back in October). headline-stirchley-speaks-oct

He was entertaining and as we had all had a conversation about vegetarianism on the journey over, apt poems in his set made us giggle.

Claire Walker was amazing, I do not think I will ever tire of hearing her perform from The Girl Who Grew into a Crocodile. She also treated us to some new poems from her next pamphlet collection.sitting room

I completed a lot of research for current writing projects and groups. I also completed a collaborative project set up in December and worked hard on submitting poetry. I had fun writing about Leonard Cohen and am keeping my fingers crossed that the editors will enjoy the results.

I missed Buzzwords in Cheltenham.

Week 2:

In December I submitted to 7 places and the rejections rolled in from 3 of them this week. We all learn to handle this but one publication in particular was dealing with a subject close to my heart and it made me a little glum that they hadn’t taken my work. They did send feedback including details of the process that the poem they nearly took went through. I will not be perturbed. Another rejection cited that the pieces weren’t best fit this time but encouraged resubmission.

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Back in 2015 I had three poems accepted for an anthology by Shabda Press on Nuclear Impact. We all signed contracts in 2016 and it has been a real labour of love for Teresa Mei Chuc who has now got the project to final proof stages. All proof read and returned and I cannot wait to see the result. The readings are all taking place in the States but I am currently looking at the logistics of video performance.

The cover has been revealed featuring the Artwork of John Sokol. Cover Art: “On the Road to Perilous” nuclear-impact-front-cover-final-cover-art-on-the-road-to-perilous-by-john-sokol I could write more poems just from a glance. This book will hopefully be in our hands later this year.

I went to SpeakEasy – where Brenda Read-Brown was headlining and what a set she treated us to. New work, powerful work, emotive (I nearly cried twice), honest and filled with passion. I was really glad that I was able to make it and witness such a performance.

I shared some new poems and gave Fragile Houses a rest, most of Worcester have bought it already and as I headlined last month and read most of it and as the last poem in there was written in 2015, I fancied sharing something newer.

I went to Stanza although I was so tired I was not much use to others and the poem I had written half an hour before leaving didn’t quite work. I do not see the point of taking perfectly polished work to groups – unless perhaps it’s a poem that has been unsuccessfully submitted a few times, in which case new eyes are good. However, I need to give my writing a chance to sit and simmer for a bit so perhaps I should try this year to get a poem ready the week before. Give it some breathing space. It is hard when you feel so attached to something, too vulnerable.

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Sadly at the weekend I said goodbye to Sally Grainger who has been my Assistant Writer for WWM Spark Writers group for the past 9 months. We had a full house for her final session and ran a great group on Scriptwriting. It was fun. I am sad to see her go.

I received exciting news about a new Literature Festival which I am currently organising a showcase/event for.

Week 3:

I spent my time mainly at work, in spare hours I was organising the festival event, missing deadlines, proof reading and writing comic poetry.

Last year I was invited to take part in a one off (now to be repeated as it was so successful) Baldy Poems presents Kings and Queens of Comedy in association with WLF (Worcester LitFest). I love the idea that WLF are fundraising via event charge at one off events throughout the year to help fund/pay for the summer festival. It is a great idea and I have loved the events that have popped up so far.

I was honoured to be one of the 6 performers (we had 8 on the night with Kieran Davis and a Special Surprise Guest joining us). I have only written about 5 funny poems and the two I had ready for this event have not seen the light of day since 2015, so I decided to emulate BaldyPoems style and kick out 6 new ones. That and I needed the material to cover a 10 minute set. More on this later.

I missed David Calcutt at Smokey Joes in Cheltenham – Poetry Refreshed and sadly I missed Clive Osman’s Waterstones book launch for his debut collection ‘Happy’. Both nights looked to be good. I had taken on extra work and with a gig Thursday night and Friday needed to sleep.

After almost 2 weeks of working full-time, I finally finished on Thursday at 5:30 and then headed over to Birmingham with Mr G and a friend, in birthday celebration mode. We went to see THE BLUE AEROPLANES at the Hare and Hounds (where UB40 played their first gig) and it was exceptional. I am so glad that I was filled with the charm of performance because it set me up for the following evening for Kings and Queens of Comedy.

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I was so nervous – worried that the audience wouldn’t find the dusted off material funny, But I forgot the universal appeal of my moustache poem, the magic of proto-type props and the delight of people who have never heard this one before. It was also funny because people who know me know that I am funny, I just do things that amuse people as I have no logical bone in my body and I have a quick, dry, wordy wit… in fact there was a turning point once upon a time between poet and comedian. The world breathes a sigh of relief.

Anyway because a lot of people now on the scene weren’t back in 2014 when I played the clown a little more, they didn’t see me as a funny poet and were quite shocked at the billing. There are now at least two people who will never take me seriously again!

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To read a full review of the evening click here

And then I had a well deserved weekend off to catch up with Mr G and writing.

Week 4:

Saw happy news and my first acceptance of 2017. That collaborative project I mentioned earlier was with Claire Walker. The result was a meeting about prompts, shared ideas, word lists and after writing editing together. After a few weeks we had a poem written by each of us from working with the other and a joint poem written line by line. The acceptance was a the poem Claire Walker wrote called ‘The Puzzle of an Ending’, a beautiful title and a hard hitting poem. It was the strongest of the collaboration.

It delights me that it exists because of an opportunity I found and a risk I took (asking another poet to partner me and risk rejection, that lack of self-belief/inner critic we all have to deal with). Fortunately, Claire was only too happy and we enjoyed this rather intense poetry pocket in our otherwise Christmassy/family orientated holidays. There will be more to come. And I am doing something here I first dreamed of in 2014. Happy.

I spent the night, along with many poetry friends at the Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham for Jacqui Rowe’s ‘Poetry Bites’. The featured poets were David Calcutt & Claire Walker (fellow V. Press poets) and Jacqui announced (which most of us already knew) that they are going to publish her first collection this year too. Her ‘Ransom Notes’ was the first pamphlet of the run in 2015 from the round I applied successfully for in 2014.

ransom Poetry Bites was a packed out night, it is so sad that this is Jacqui’s final year, but it is a phenomenal achievement to have hosted and supported such an abundant amount of poets over the years. The atmosphere was great and there were some top class floor spots as well as a V. Press collective, Kathy Gee was also reading from her collection Book of Bones.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Brumside poets I had not seen in a while, as well as listening to some inspiring and thought provoking sets.

Maybe it was the double dose of Americano coffee, or the Kitchen Garden cake… I came away buzzing and refuelled with an extra layer of poet-y energy!

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I wrote new poems for Burn’s Night, which was celebrated at 42, in Worcester on the 25th. I even made a badge – Lewis tartan, of course. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about this 18th Century rascal. It was a great night, intimate and full of heart – but not lungs or liver (haggis pun)!

I missed a workshop with Ash Dickinson, that had I not been performing in the Quiet Compere/ Wolverhampton Literature Festival the following night, I may have tried to get to. It was just a little out of range geographically and no way I could have got myself there on time after work without the help of a helicopter and pilot… neither of which I have. Oh, to be a rich girl! So I just have to brush away the disappointment and hope for another opportunity in the future.

This brings us to the finale of the poeting week – the first literature festival to be held in Wolverhampton and a great line up of events across all genres. I was lucky enough to be one of the ten poets on the bill for Sarah Dixon’s Quiet Compere Event at the Art Gallery on Friday evening.

What an evening it was. Fabulous line-up, including two poets who are new to me (always a pleasure), Tom McColl & Gerry Potter. What a venue, the room was majestic and had one of the best backdrops to poetry I have ever seen. The setting was incredible. It was a wonderful night and I was still buzzing the next day. You can read the full review of the event and find out more about the performers here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/quiet-compere-wolverhampton-literature-festival/

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I got home to find emails about up and coming books and spent a while chatting to the other buzzing poets online. A fine night.

walsall-arboretum I finished my weekend at Open Poetry at Walsall Arboretum with David Calcutt and an amazing number of poets on Sunday. Despite the horrible rain, bad driving conditions and leaving a ton of work on the To Do List, I headed out for some poeting fun.

It was a great couple of hours, lots of moving and humorous work was shared. I met some new poets and saw John Mills, who had battled the unnavigable roads of Walsall to experience David’s event for the first time. walsall-arb © 2016 Walsall Arboretum

Then I spent a horrendous amount of time sorting out unread and unmanaged emails instead of completing applications which I now need to do tomorrow after work. There are lots of deadlines in the next 72 hours and I plan to hit them all.

Wolverhampton Literature Festival finished with a Poetry Slam that Nick Lovell won and Willis – a.k.a Rick Sanders came 2nd and Rob Francis, 3rd. Well done, boys! An all male sweep. I was sad not to be able to go to the festival this year. Other plans had already been made. Hopefully they will do another one next year.

The Extra Few (Writing) Days

Mainly spent Monday night at the computer pulling a 6 hour shift (after a day at work), writing new material, researching, organising events, writing applications and submitting. There are so many end of month submissions and I have been busy enjoying myself and thinking the end of the month was a while away yet and here we are. I am pleased that I have managed a few more submissions as I have not been keeping the resolution of weekly output, as advised by another poet.

Obviously there is a certain amount of selectivity both in terms of material, feel, attitude, time etc. My aim is for monthly submissions, which should be entirely achievable – as the months missed last year were to do with the final editing process of the pamphlet.

I will spend the final day of the month (in the evening, after work) getting productive with my next To Do List and making final submissions too.

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There are so many exciting things planned for February already, I can hardly believe we have reached the end of January!

I hope you had a good one, filled with spirit and joy …. oh and writing!

 

On Writing – Memoir

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WWM I have worked for Writing West Midlands since 2014 and (as with all things in life), changes have been embraced. This year a decision was made to make all groups 2 hour sessions (mine always were). We are still more creative than academic curriculum education, although there has been a realisation of fair access. So for the first time, all groups are following a theme of genres. We can still approach them in any order and we are all still planning and sharing ideas for our groups, every group is unique in that sense.

Next month my group are tackling memoir and I thought it would arouse a quiet murmur of excitement (I think maybe it is just adults that enjoy writing about themselves). Instead it got a less-than-responsive response.

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I dug deeper and found out this is the current topic for many of them at school. So I  finished with the promise that it will be greater than Literacy (and as a Literacy specialist, am confident delivering on this)!

I have already pulled hours of research to lift this session out of the greyness and I think they will all enjoy it.

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Every writer knows the richness of recycling, so here in this post I am sharing the bits that I won’t be using or showing the group. No need for ADULT WARNING. < That may have been one!


In this video Mary Karr talks about her first book launch (where only 3 people turned up… not sure how true this is), but if you ever feel a pang at a small turn out – think of this audience.

She discusses Memoir (‘knocking yourself out with your own fist’), how we connect to readers, tattoos, spirituality, therapy, writing prompts, the difficulties of feelings and memories, things that people don’t talk about, Helen Keller, Maya Angelou, the beginning of compassion, developing a voice – ‘lowering your voice into the head of the reader’, delusions, looking for evidence and truth.

It is just over half an hour and I think you should treat yourself to watching it. In listening to Mary, I jotted memories of my own that I wouldn’t otherwise have remembered. Yes, I wrote them into my notebook for future fodder. ‘Hard seeds of memories, growing into vines.’



Beginning in 1995 with ‘The Liars’ Club,’ Mary Karr’s three critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs are credited with sparking the genre’s current renaissance. She has also taught writing for thirty years and in her latest book, ‘The Art of Memoir,’ now available in paperback, she synthesizes her fields of expertise in a funny, heartfelt and uniquely insightful guide to the mechanics of personal narrative. In Strand’s Rare Book Room, the award-winning author and professor shares the secrets of her craft.

Accessing Classical Poetry

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This morning (as per my To Do List) I have been researching Robert Burns for a series of poems I am currently writing for Burns Night (25th January).

I came across a now archived (no longer updated) BBC resource that I think is a really accessible way into 18th Century poetry. Language has evolved a lot in the past 300 years and sometimes just listening to it first can help you read it better.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/robertburns/works/themes/humour/

DAlma

 

Review of the Month – November (let’s get one blogged in time) UPDATED

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UPDATED

I cannot believe it is the end of November already. I have marked it with a great night in Worcester at an ‘Arthur Rackham’ themed 42. Great to see some new faces too.

This month has been abundant with opportunities and I am witnessing the domino effect. There is a lot to review and I am busy with end of month submissions, so this post has recently been updated and completed.

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REVIEW OF NOVEMBER

Week 1

I finally managed to get back over to Permission to Speak, where David Calcutt was headlining with his V. Press Pamphlet ‘The Old Man in the House of Bone’. d-cal-old-man

It was a great night and I performed some new work written from An Atomic Sun Workshop facilitated by Antony Owen that I attended earlier this year. Writing about Hiroshima takes time and finding places where it is comfortable enough to know you can perform it, is the next challenge. They worked. People were reminded.

Antony Owen and myself (along with many other writers) have work in a Shabda Press anthology. Accepted a while ago, contracts signed in Spring, we are happily approaching proof and publication and it should be out February time. There are big issues that we must not shy away from, but it can be a lonely place, it is great to meet like-minded writers. I have to say that Antony writes from the heart and everything he writes matters socially, whereas my political poems come and go.

Writing about such horrific histories can be hard without support of those around you.

I did lots of writing this week and with working, found I was too exhausted after October to manage evening events on top. I missed them. Forgave myself and spent time at the desk.

I had my writing group, which over the past fortnight has taken time preparing. I spent hours researching for topical writing tasks for the Writing West Midlands group and structuring the session and resources, they all seemed to enjoy it and we had some new members too. Even treated them to some time in the book booth windows to write outside of the space. My group discovered an interesting Jukebox on display and created all sorts of ideas about what it was really.

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Mr G. and I went to another big gig.

 

Week 2

I completed an interesting challenge set by Helen Calcutt and was rewarded with two new poems, one that stands out well, was performed at SpeakEasy and will be published.

I attended my first Birmingham Stanza at Waterstones, run by Roz Goddard. Jane Commane was the invited guest talking about publishing. It was an enjoyable evening and I was able to take another recently penned poem for some editing support. In fact I spent most of my week at Waterstones.

I missed HOWL as I was working and already had 48 hours with double events. Let me state – I am too old for double event nights!

I went to SpeakEasy in Worcester to see Ben Parker Feature and buy his new book. bp-seIt was a great night of poetry, thoroughly enjoyed and lovely to see Ben again. I missed the last chance to see him as Mr G and I were away when he organised his poetry event at the Swan Theatre, where he is poet in residence. I first met Ben at the end of his poetry residency at Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum at his Worcester LitFest event two years ago.

I cannot wait to read his new collection ‘The Amazing Lost Man’, which was released November 1st.

In this startling and energetic first collection, Ben Parker explores real and imagined territories and reports back in poems that are both darkly funny and vividly descriptive. Combing concision with a surreal lyricism, the worlds of The Amazing Lost Man are at once strange and familiar, while the central sequence of ‘Insomnia Postcards’ is a joyous clash of the quotidian and the bizarre. These poems have a subtle music, and a confident voice that draws the reader in. (cover)

cover_parker_1024x1024 I know the rule is never judge a book by the cover and I tend not to. Fortunately there is no rule about falling in love with a cover and I have. It is much brighter in reality – buy one and see. https://store.eyewearpublishing.com/products/the-amazing-lost-man

More from Ben here http://www.benparkerpoetry.co.uk/about

My recent poetry book buys have been piling up as I have spent the past few months invested in a crime novel with a bitterly disappointing ending (I still do not know who the murderer was)! Back to poetry for a while.

It is also good to hear when your poetry inspires others;

Big thank you to Suz Winspear, Nina Lewis and Lauren Hill. Those poems of heartbreak inspired me to write my first new prose in five months, while sat in the audience!

Afterwards I rushed out to the sticks to celebrate a friend’s birthday, made it in time for cake and just before the bar closed for drinks.

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The following night I went to the Poetry Business – Poet Laureate Choice Readings at Waterstones Birmingham. The Poetry Business publish under smith/doorstop imprint.

“One of the most vital and vitalising literature organisations in the country”
Andrew Motion
The Laureate’s choice 2016, picked by (of course) Carol Ann Duffy.
The four winning pamphlets are:
Geraldine Clarkson’s ‘Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament’
Zeina Hashem Beck’s ‘There Was and How Much There Was’
Mark Pajak’s ‘Spitting Distance’
Tom Sastry’s ‘Complicity’
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I am lucky enough to know Tom through Jo Bell’s 52 project (2014) and have met Geraldine a few times since this new life started in 2013, although this was the first time we had properly met for some time. Nice to be remembered though.
It was wonderful to meet Mark and always good to expand the world of known poets, he was smashing to talk to and I will remember his early morning running and the bear. When in the states (Yosemite), 2015 I had a running mantra ‘Let me see a bear, let me be at a point of safety’… I did see a bear and her cub, I was on one of many transport buses at the time (thank goodness) – as up close and personal as I wanted to get!
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Zeina’s video performance from Dubai kicked off the evening, impressive, soul-driven poetry and from there we enjoyed a live set from the PB poets. It was a pleasant evening and they have since celebrated again in Bristol and I have only heard good things about that event too.
There is currently a special offer – just in time for Christmas – you can buy all 4 pamphlets for just £20.00
‘Geraldine Clarkson’s poems are musical, often playful incantations that delight in the power of words. Formally inventive and vivid with natural imagery.’ – Carol Ann Duffy
pb2© 2016  Robert Harper
Zeina Hashem Beck’s ‘There Was and How Much There Was’
‘Whether drawing on myth or fairytale, or writing directly from women’s experience, these are powerful poems by a new writer with a remarkable gift for storytelling.’  – Carol Ann Duffy 
‘Mark Pajak’s skilful poems keep themselves open, especially to childhood and adolescent experience.  Even so, they are far from frail – their insight and imaginative verve make them robust as well as eloquent.’ – Carol Ann Duffy 
pb4© 2016  Robert Harper
‘Tom Sastry navigates the mysterious everyday in this honest and often funny collection, making friendships and love affairs new and strange.’ – Carol Ann Duffy
pb3© 2016  Robert Harper
Mark also won the Bridport Prize this year with ‘Spitting Distance’.
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After this event I rushed to the other side of Birmingham to perform from Fragile Houses, my own pamphlet at Spoken Word at the Ort. It was a fabulous night, run by Debbie Aldous. It always feels like coming home.

I am too old for consecutive nights of double bookings though.

The next evening I was back in Waterstones (told you I need a bed there) for a wonderful evening with Indigo Dreams poets, also doing a whistle stop reading tour.

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It was a fabulous evening and a pleasure to meet Kate, Mab and Bethany W Pope, all of whom I knew of but hadn’t met and the lovely Bethany Rivers, who I met at a Writers Network event hosted by WWM back in 2013 and know from poeting in Shropshire, where she does a lot of work. I can highly recommend all their pamphlets. I am currently reading ‘Off the Wall’ By Bethany Rivers.

This evening was delightful, a magical experience and a thoroughly enjoyable Q & A after the readings. Powerful poets doing what they do best.

I shared the evening with Claire Walker and Holly Magill and it was special.

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I also received news that I had won 2nd place in the Museum of Royal Worcester Poetry Challenge and I had to keep this a secret, even the judges didn’t know as it truly was judged anonymously by the panel. It was so hard not telling anyone and slightly awkward as I was going to see Claire Walker headline at Poetry Café Refreshed in Cheltenham on the same night as the awards/reading. This wasn’t quite as hard as keeping my publishing opportunity quiet, but I just wanted to celebrate the success openly!

 

Week 3

I made some submissions, finally! And enjoyed Licensed to Rhyme, where Emma Purshouse was headlining.  She has just won a book award too.

I Once Knew a Poem who Wore a Hat Emma Purshouse and Catherine Pascall Moore
Lots of wonderful imaginative and outrageous poems in this collection which is full of the charms and idiosyncrasies of childhood.  It’s easy to see how children could love these breezy poems and become attached to them.  One could easily imagine them being learnt by heart and repeated in playgrounds.  The illustrations by Catherine Pascall Moore are quirky and appropriate.  The hints about, for example, the best way to learn a poem or how to speak a poem aloud, are unusual in a book of this sort and never patronising. 

 

A first was VIP invite to the Verve Poetry Festival Launch – I will be telling you lots more about the festival throughout the coming months. verve12 Luke Kennard

I love watching Luke perform, dynamic doesn’t cover it – you may notice a group of us chatting – we are not talking through his set – here he is preparing to dive in!

The event was everything I hoped my first VIP experience would be and along with brilliant performances from Luke and Amerah Saleh. verve11

I spent the evening eating divine V cakes and mingling with many people, also had the pleasure of meeting some people for the first time.

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The tickets were live within 24 hours and I have already bought my festival pass for February. I also plan on doing as many workshops as I can and all of this has happened just in time –  for Christmas I have asked for Verve to be gifted back to me… so although with transport etc. I will be running up a bill, the tab is already paid for. Result. verve5

Find out all about the festival and buy tickets here http://vervepoetryfestival.com/

verve-pass

 

 

 

 

The night after this was the Poetry Challenge event at the Museum – Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum. Which was a lovely event facilitated by Suz Winspear (Poet in Residence) and the Museum.

cup Prize winning treats – unexpected and beautiful.

It was an absolute joy to surprise all the judges who had chosen the winning poems without knowing who wrote them. I was delighted to be placed and loved the fact the winner and my fellow runner up, Shelagh Wain (from Burton-on-Trent), were poets I did not know.

Georgina Byrne (first place – Winner) had never written a poem before. Here is the article Worcester News

You can read Georgina Byrne’s poem here http://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/winner-of-the-poetry-challenge/

paper-1100254_1280 The event was a lovely, relaxing evening of poetry and it was great to have the judges perform alongside the poetry challenge winners. The museum was also open to have a browse around, a treasure trove of porcelain. I love it there, it gives me the same feeling libraries do. (Imagine – chocolate cake…)

The next night was the Poetry Parlour at Waterstones, I had planned to go but after work and the busy month so far – I missed it. Roy McFarlane was the Poetry Parlour this month, once again I have heard positive reviews about this evening from the open mic-ers.

I spent time writing a current piece that cannot yet be disclosed. Looked over a manuscript for someone and finally, on Sunday went to perform at Open Poetry Walsall Arboretum. Which was a great way to finish a ram-packed week! Relaxing to poetry and afterwards having a quick drink in a pub with poets.

 

Week 4

Missed Shrewsbury Literature Festival completely having only found out about it a few weeks ago. I made it back to Poetry Bites which I have not been able to go to for a long time.

Prepped for The Book Party. Post-book launch open mic event where I showed 4 exclusive poetry films and one that has already been shared publically, from Fragile Houses. It was an intimate affair and a great night. Sadly a lot of people couldn’t make it in the end, but it was a perfect evening of poetry and friends. We all enjoyed each other’s poems and I am (as always) delighted when my poetry circles meet for the first time. Glad I have given some more people Lesley Ingram and John Mills and some more Worcestershire poets are now known to them.

a-fh I was touched by everyone supporting and participating in this evening of poetry, had a gorgeous bouquet (thanks Anne Milton), a poem written about Fragile Houses (thanks Charley Barnes) and good friends who travelled great distances to be there.

Suz Winspear & Mogs performing – photography Charley Barnes

The next night I had to miss Stanza (for the 2nd month running) as I was at  a Book Launch in Birmingham. For ‘Womanly Words’ an anthology of poetry (20 female poets) produced by Shakti Women.

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It was an incredibly absorbing evening – I missed a lot of readings whilst driving around in circles trying to park. A relaxed affair around a huge conference table laden with scrabble, sweets, cakes, champagne and soulful women. It was great that a people came just to listen and that so many of the 20 poets in the anthology were able to make the event. It was lovely reconnecting with everyone.

I was unable to participate throughout the year as much as I would have liked due to working on editing Fragile Houses. There are plans afoot already for 2017 though. It was great meeting some of my fellow anthology poets and just spending time chatting with like-minded activists.

I am a little in love with this book. Well done to Zara Walker for her impressive design work on this gem.

http://www.shaktiwomen.co.uk/

Siobhan and Cheryl even sent us away with goodie bags!

After this event, I was asked to do Radio (for the 2nd time this year), I would have loved to have read my poem on air, but after the excitement of this week’s events and my need to be at home and with Mr.G, added to the fact that it wasn’t local and everybody has started Christmas shopping on Saturdays, I sadly passed up this opportunity. I am kicking myself now a bit.

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I spent the weekend at home with Mr G and fitted in a little poetry writing and film making time.

I also received news of 2 exciting opportunities for 2017, that for now I have to keep quiet. (There is a pattern emerging here!)

And I have finished off the month at 42 with an inspiring evening of writing on the theme of ‘Arthur Rackham’s Brain’. Many of us had completed enjoyable research into the works of this artist. As a child I experienced his Wind in the Willows and my poems were written whilst considering his artwork ‘Mischief’, illustrations for ‘The Old Lady in the Wood’ and ‘Undine’. I was pleased with the resulting poems and had some positive feedback on them. A fabulous event to complete the month – literally – on the 30th!

 

 

 

 

September Review (better late than never)

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So the Christmas adverts haven’t gone unnoticed and I realise we are fast approaching the end of November, (I realise this as I haven’t started seasonal shopping yet)! It has been a really busy Autumn, which is great as this is the life I wanted… it does mean that my blogging time has diminished.

I have some great ideas how to utilise this blog in 2017 that will fit into the ever-increasingly busier patterns I now exist in. I will save the big reveal for the New Year whilst I focus on the backlog!


REVIEW OF SEPTEMBER

September was the most exciting month of 2016 so far, my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’ made it out of editorial and to the printers and I was able to get my teeth into something I do well, organising the Book Launch event and promoting.

fragile-houses-best I was always a little unsure how soon to the end of the process the book had to be before the promoting could begin. Hard work after keeping it a secret for so long. Frustrating though the length of time it all took was, I am glad we launched in October because it is close enough to still being NEW at Christmas! So if, like me, you haven’t started shopping yet…

The rest of September wasn’t too bad either.

Week 1

I finally managed to get back over to Permission to Speak, where Walsall Poetry Society had the headline slot. A collective of poets with a great range of work. Richard Archer – a poet from Walsall helped set this up. Richard has written 3 books of poetry and has performed his work on TV and radio. He describes his poems as a sideways look at life as he tries to dissect the world around him, failing or succeeding in equal measure.

Richard was joined by founding member Bryan Sydney Griffin a.k.a “LaGrif”, Marrianne Burgess, Paul Elwell, Ian Ward and Vicki MacWinyers.

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I was also delighted to see Steve Harrison there, our paths haven’t crossed in a while. Busy poets that we are, with a few Counties of separation. It was a good evening and it felt like coming home. Rob Francis is always so welcoming and it is a great venue to perform in with one of my favourite stages (because it is made out of old school desks) and features in one of my poems. It was lovely to share the evening with Claire Walker and Ian Glass.

I missed the Fringe Festival in Digbeth, as I was out celebrating my birthday (yes! It was in August), I like to party! It was at the expense of missing several submission deadlines this month though. I try to be kind to myself when that happens but the inner voice is screaming ‘GET ORGANISED GIRL!’

 

Week 2

I spent my time organising new term workshops for my Writing West Midlands group and sifting my way through the admin mountain.

I went to Waterstones to watch fellow V. Press poets David Calcutt, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker who have spent months planning ‘From Birth to Bone’, a scripted reading combining poems from all of their collections. I was a little gutted that Fragile Houses wasn’t out in time to participate, I have had conversations about collaboration for sometime. Still I have a few ideas to bounce around in 2017.

birth-to-bone

It was a fabulous night and their work blended well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a jolly good performance. The other thing I loved was the programme. Listed on it were all the poems and the relevant pages from their books.

What I did manage to do was speak to Stuart, as an Area manager and Poet himself he is fully behind events in Waterstones. I have over the year attended several, but from this point onwards the book shop becomes my second home! I confirmed my book launch was to take place in Waterstones ! Oh, my wake me up – I am dreaming!

I went to SpeakEasy in Worcester where the featured artists was a three piece, ‘Threezacrowd‘ – Michael Thomas on words and Campbell and Jan Perry on music. SpeakEasy tends to be poetry so it was different to have some music and singing. Mike Alma and Pip Barlow brought us guitar and voice the month before.

mike-and-pip-barlow-mary-davis Photograph – Mary Davis

The photo is from the August SpeakEasy, where I read some of the canal poems (still in draft form) from our poetry trip. I was wearing my Tiller Girl badge and Alan Durham wore his pirate badge.

speakeasy Photograph – Mary Davis

I spent the rest of the week planning and promoting my Book Launch, working for Writing West Midlands, wrote endorsements for ‘Birth to Bone’ and my pamphlets became real and reached the editor. I still cannot believe I waited to pick them up for several days as our schedules weren’t matching.

They were published in time for the London Book Fair, which was exciting.

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Week 3

Following some summer preparation, I started organising INKSPILL – our online writing retreat. Sending emails and making contact with writers was fun and in the process have pretty much organised next year’s Guest Writers too.

It was also the first ‘Licensed to Rhyme’ – my most local poetry night! Finally my hometown can offer something and what a something it is. Maggie Doyle and Fergus McGonigal ran SpeakEasy for a couple of years and both took retirement from it earlier in 2016. Maggie and Fergus worked hard finding the perfect venue and pricing and all the millions of behind the scenes work, we never really consider.

licensed-to-rhyme The Advertiser

Spoz co-hosts the event with Maggie Doyle once a month. This first evening was a great success and because the venue is an Arts Centre (Artrix) we have professional sound and sound engineers to boot. We walked on to ‘James Bond theme music’ and the atmosphere was electric. Which all helps performers to perform well. I had a 10 minute Guest Spot and Maggie mentioned my pamphlet was to launch in a few weeks too.

Even more exciting was finally meeting Dreadlock Alien, a man people have constantly spoken about since I hit the circuit in 2014. I knew some of his poems and have seen him perform online but to meet him was thrilling and it was lovely to see a lot of the Birmingham crowd over here too.

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I also worked on (for hours) a professional writing website where people can find me, book me etc. A space I can keep for promo and work. And guess what? I found the only web space that doesn’t link to SEO on Google searches etc. which means unless I send the direct link – you cannot find me. I am limited by free webpages at the moment and many of these need you to install all sorts. I am tempted to use WordPress and as I bought ‘A Writers Fountain’, 16 years ago, I know I can do it again, when money flows a little better.

I still haven’t sat down to work this out but will spend those post-Christmas moments on it, ready to hit 2017 hard.

Come and see it anyway – http://ninalewis.webs.com/ – save it to your favourites, it may be the only way to find it again!

This is the week term started and for this half term I faced a new challenge, I have taken on a 3 day week. Okay, that doesn’t sound a lot but they are full paced and challenging days in a block and I am still on medication. What it will mean is I needn’t worry about not having enough work and it will give me a chance to build up skills with individuals, which is half the battle at the chalk-face or whatever it is called now we are all fully interactive.

It was also super busy with Poetry Events, such as Roy McFarlane’s book launch for his collection ‘Beginning with your Last Breath’- Nine Arches. roy-beg-last-breath

A superb event that took place in Wolverhampton at the Arena Theatre. This was a night I did manage to blog about in real time and you can read the post here.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/beginning-with-your-last-breath-by-roy-mcfarlane/

Hit The Ode was the next evening and I was just too exhausted by then to get myself back to the city, fortunately in a move of pure genius Carl Sealeaf was providing LIVE streaming, which was no way as good as being there – but was much better than missing it all. It also meant I had time for 2 hours worth of research and some book promotion work.

I also started to write properly again, something I haven’t really been able to do whilst the pamphlet was still in editorial.

I booked guest poets for my book launch; Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. Delighted they all agreed to read.

This week didn’t stop. On Friday I went to Kenilworth to see a Poetry Reading at the Talisman Theatre, curated by David Morley. Just in the foyer alone I was excited to see so many people, many I had seen just a couple of days earlier at Roy’s book launch. By far the most exciting sightings were John & Liz Mills, I had no idea they were coming, we have already decided to make a reunion of it next year, treating ourselves to pre-show dinner, after show drinks and a hotel. They had booked a hotel, I live a little nearer so opted for a night drive.

I also saw Julie Boden and that was a treat. So glad that she made it to the show.

kenilworth

The show itself was mighty fine. I loved meeting and hearing new to me poets – Luke Kennard, who I have missed every time the opportunity has arisen, Sarah Howe who writes beautiful, honest poetry and Claire Trévien, who loves language and was a joy to watch/listen to. I enjoyed the sets from the poets I do know David Morley, Jo Bell, Jonathan Edwards too. They promised a special evening – and it was!

I really wish I had blogged about it at the time, because so much has happened since, it was a wonderful evening and I remember it fondly.

http://www.kenilworthartsfestival.co.uk/events/poetry

I missed Jo Bell’s workshop on Saturday as I was going to Worcester Music Festival to see The Anti-Poet, after missing them at WLF (Worcester LitFest) in the summer. I loved it! It was a total nightmare to park, but well worth the agro. anti-poet-2

After this I finally COLLECTED my PAMPHLETS!

It was also London Book Fair and although I couldn’t make it this year and missed the opportunity to perform Ambiguous Answers for Paper Swan Press,

 

my book did make it and I got to follow it all on Twitter.

vpress-stand-free-verse

And FINALLY on Sunday I headed out to the MAC where I watched the new version of Ten Letters. The original last year was crowdfunded, a project that was the brainchild of Lorna Meehan and Spoz. This year they have a few new performers, lots of new writing and media and have been funded by the Lottery and Arts Council.

I was also asked to appear on a panel of writers on Radio – which I was jumping about over, until I realised it was a work day and I wouldn’t be able to get to the studio. However, I have been booked to do this in January. Which hopefully will be an easier month on the calendar and I will be all fresh and ready.

Week 4

This is the week of the Poetry Festival in Stratford-Upon-Avon and I was gutted to miss every event I had hoped to get to. After typing week 3 for the past hour, I can see why I didn’t have the energy to work, play and drive all over the place. The final performance from all the resident poets, ‘Unexpected Encounters’ was something I really wanted to see, but had booked (way back in August) my final birthday meal with friends, where we got to cook our food on hot volcanic rocks and this was something that couldn’t be undone. It was a great night!

It was also Leicester Shindig and I hadn’t realised Claire Walker was featuring there, missed it completely. Leicester was the city I came out as a poet in and performed spoken word for the first time.

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I had several invites to events I missed this week – it was hard enough to stay awake and work without going out in the evenings. I was getting in and falling asleep. I did admin tasks, promotion online and booked tickets for Swindon Poetry Festival. I also managed to get to the local Stanza meeting as well as taking a Headline booking for Stirchley Speaks next month, the night after my Book Launch. I also took my first booking for 2017 and booked up October.

On Sunday I read at Open Poetry in the Arboretum, Walsall and promoted my forthcoming pamphlet. It was a lovely afternoon.

 

The last 5 days – no wonder this month seemed so long!

I continued Market Research, promoting and organising the Book Launch (1 week to go).

I missed some submission deadlines.

Took pre-orders for the pamphlet.

Missed Poetry Bites and the Open Mic at Waterstones, 42 and a Scratch Night. I was attempting to take my editor’s advice and take it easy the week before the launch. Which I managed ALL WEEK and then at the weekend (with 48hrs to launch) I broke my promise to myself.

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MORE ON THAT IN THE OCTOBER REVIEW.

 

 

 

Review of the Month – February 2016

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February has been an amazing month. I love writing in the start of a fresh year, seems that all possibilities are achievable and the cold air is enough to keep me chained happily to my desk/dining room table.

I continued to write new material and submit work this month, although I did overload my Action Plan and found it quite unmanageable. A lesson to take forward now into March. There were a few opportunities I didn’t feel ready for that I hope will come up again next year and will fit in more with what I hope to be doing by then. It is hard to make such decisions but I have learnt that it is important to objectify and consider what you can gain and what will be the challenge in choosing that path at this moment in time. It is wisdom that comes with growing older for me as I have always taught myself to say YES, YES, YES!

This month I have headlined, performed poetry sets, done open mics, written new material, researched, edited, submitted and been published. I have run the full writing gauntlet and occasionally felt the pummel sticks.

sammy

It was also Sammy’s funeral, I have written about this at the end of the review.

Week 1:

  • Promotion
  • Application
  • Submission
  • Headline
  • Daniel Sluman Book Launch
  • Emma Purshouse/ Open Mic
  • Published
  • WWM Young Writer Group
  • National Libraries Day – Liz Berry

I sent a poem to Emma Press for approval for the Waterstones Love Poetry Night, supported WWM promoting the Worcester Writing Group.

Headlined Stirchley Speaks at the P Café along with the wonderful Mark Kilburn and Alisha Kadir. Booked onto a workshop.

Went to Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch for ‘the terrible’ and finally met him and Emily in person. I had a superb evening and was able to enjoy the words of Angela France and David Clarke, two poets I admire greatly, all published by Nine Arches.

the terrible daniel sluman

After the book launch I hotfooted it back across to the Black Country to catch Emma Purshouse in action at PTS Permission to Speak, although I arrived in the interval the 2nd half was long and jam packed full so it was worth the extra miles to get there and I did get to watch Emma – it has been too long. It was good to be back in Scary Canary as it has been a while since I have been able to attend Robert’s night due to double booked dates.

My three romance poems written in January especially for a brief of how we love in the 21st Century were all accepted for publication by New Ulster.

My two Spider poems written for the Maligned Species Project were published in e-book form. You can buy your own copy £2.99 Spiders E-book Fair Acre Press money raised goes to local wildlife charities as stated on the Fair Acre Press website.

My Writing West Midlands Young Writer group worked on our book focusing on an alternate history (AH). It was a great session, we hope to have the work finished by late Spring. The group has grown recently but we still need to secure new membership – 12 to 16 year olds if you know of any in the area looking for fun creative writing/hobby.

WWM

I just had time to get home and eat before rushing back out to celebrate National Libraries Day with an evening of poetry from Liz Berry, which was wonderful. Her work fills me with spirit or the spirit of her work, the essence leaves me within a cradle of positivity, I just feel younger afterwards and full of that hope, that a younger me felt.

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I spent the last day of the week writing and creating my overly ambitious action plan.

RELATED LINKS

Stirchley Speaks Headline

Daniel Sluman Book Launch

National Libraries Day Liz Berry

 

Week 2:

  • Submission
  • Research
  • Published
  • Open Mic
  • Love Poetry – Emma Press

I heard last month that Fair Acre Press had taken both my spider poems for publication in the maligned species e-book series, this week they released the Grey Squirrel E-book with another of my poems included. Squirrel E-book £2.99 You can buy a copy here, the price point is to keep it affordable for all, the content of each collection is outstanding, it truly is a bargain and you are making a charitable donation at the same time.

Nadia Kingsley and all her commissioned poets and eco-experts have worked tirelessly for months on this project and it would be great if the response for the e-books was as strong.

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I submitted a poem to Visual Verse based on the American Gothic and from writing this poem built up a body of research I would like to explore further when I have finished working on current projects.

I booked a place to perform at the Feminist Fundraiser to raise money for Refugee Action.

refugee action

I went to Sammy’s funeral. Later that evening a few of us went to HOWL at the Dark Horse in Moseley, we were still pretty much propping each other up but I think Sammy would have approved. I performed my valentine poem, the one about the volcano and the whales.

I missed the final SpeakEasy with Maggie and Fergus at the helm because I was one of 10 performers sharing the stage before Liz Berry took us through her heart-warming set of love poetry and more. It was great to perform at Waterstone’s in Birmingham and to meet new to me poets too, not to mention listen to Richard O’Brien read from his pamphlets and Liz Berry of course. Phenomenal as always.

DAlma The next day, inspired I sat down at my desk after work and researched and wrote new poetry. Now with the submission fairies.

I am amazed that I survived these two weeks as well as I did as I was also working full time for the first time in years too. At the end of the 2nd week it was also Mr G’s birthday and Valentine’s, so I had to schedule collapsing for Monday!

RELATED LINKS:

Love Poetry with The Emma Press

Fair Acre Press Maligned Species Project

 

Week 3:

  • Editing
  • Bookings
  • Workshop
  • Performing
I did a lot of desk work (writing) as it was Half Term. I have been working on and editing my manuscript (that was left to settle with time at the end of 2015) since January and this week my main focus was to pull it together and resubmit. This is a long process and not only takes time but the brain needs to be fully immersed and engaged too. I tend to be a little flighty at the best of times, so I really forced myself to settle down with tasks and deadlines. I even cancelled a workshop because I needed the time, that and I didn’t feel 100% and the thought of driving and thinking about something else was not appealing.
I booked a spot at The Black Country Museum next month where I will be part of a PTS showcase sharing work at Dave Reeves open mic night, featuring Jan Watts.
I finally made it to a Crunch Workshop at the P Café and came away with one or two ideas I need to log. The traffic and weather were awful though, so it put me off venturing out again for Poetry For Lunch, besides I am still trying my best not to over-do it on the gigging front.
refugee
I saved my energy for Millie Morris and her Fundraising event for Refugee Action at the Ort Café, a night of Feminist Poetry (not everyone stuck to the theme) but when the soapboxes came out the crowd responded appropriately. Lots of difficult subjects were covered and many people had to stand the whole night (venue was packed), it was a buzzing night and a successful fundraiser too. It was very brave and inspired for Millie to host such an event and it was rocket fuel for minds and hearts, everyone got something back in return for turning up, being there.
RELATED LINKS:

Feminist Poetry Night for Refugee Action

 

Week 4:

  • Writing
  • Published
  • Open mic
  • Submission
  • Stanza

I was back to work this week and it also my younger brother’s birthday. I had my poem ‘Restraint’ published on Visual Verse.

I researched the Valentine Day Massacre, another notebook filled with promising poetry ideas for the future, although beyond macabre. I was writing the poems to perform at 42, there were a few of us who took the theme literally.

I did battle with the end of my action plan – which was so complicated I copy and pasted a new end of the month list. I submitted some poetry and wrote a new poem in my lunch hour to take to Stanza.

I had the lovely surprise of post that wasn’t bills but my contributor copy of the gorgeous Abridged Floodland issue magazine.

The weekend saw me make a few last minute submissions and thereby avoiding all household lists of things I need to do, (now added to the March plan)!

 *a test to see if Mr G still reads my blog*

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RELATED LINKS:

Nuclear Impact, David Bowie, Al Capone

And on the extra leap year day, I did not propose to Mr G, to be honest I forgot I could until we were chopping up veg for our amazing tea. I didn’t write a new poem. I worked hard and kept my temper around youngsters who were losing theirs, I marked books and smiled impressed by some of the detail. I drove home through road works, caught up with some telly. Prepped that meal that Mr G made and caught up with this blog.

 

Rest in Peace x

BL RH Sammy Joe © 2015 Rangzeb

Sadly, February also saw our goodbyes to Sammy Joe (Samantha Hunt), her funeral was on the 10th February.

A day of reflection and tears, helium hearts and balloons released to clouds as people from all walks of life (friends) and family laid her to rest. Sammy kept all her circles separate but a good deal of cross over occurs. I knew it would be a sad day (total understatement – as I still can’t really find the words) but I hadn’t prepared myself for how I would feel afterwards.

There is not a day that passes without me thinking about her. Sometimes not thinking, but I see her face right there even as my mind focuses on a computer screen or making the dinner.

The day of the funeral the weather had been forecast as rainy, overcast. Usual for the time of year. The sun shone, brightly and despite some darkening clouds not much rain fell and nothing but sunny skies for the duration of our time at the Crematorium.

To lose a friend at any time of life is horrible, to lose them unexpectedly is even worse and to have mixed feelings about their passing, knowing they should still be here on earth makes it feel unbearable.

When that person belongs to a community it makes it easier because you have each other to reach out and share grief together. So a big thank you to poetry friends (nowadays just called friends, I think) who have carried me through this difficult time.

 

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Fair Acre Press Maligned Species Project

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MALIGNED SPECIES PROJECT maligned

I first found out about this project in September 2015 when it was launched by Nadia Kingsley of Fair Acre Press, I waited patiently for the podcasts and website to develop to get an understanding of what they were after and then… I waited… until my pen was pressed up against the deadline nearly 5 months later. With a last minute push on social media, word spread and the competition was fierce.

With lots of entries to sift through and chose from the e-books were organised to be released in a cannon throughout February. It was certainly exciting waiting for the results and discovering who shared the virtual pages.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Find out more details and access some of the research work here-species-project

We are supporting, through this project, the following ecology organisations:

  • Buglife
  • Froglife
  • Plantlife
  • Shropshire Wildlife Trust

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PUBLISHED

I am delighted to share the news that my poetry appears in both the Spider e-book and the Grey Squirrel book.

http://fairacrepress.co.uk/spiders-and-grey-squirrels-ebooks-or-as-pdfs-now-on-sale/

BUY NOW

Other collections are the Nettles Anthology and Frogs, all e-books are available for £2.99 and all packed with commissioned and published poems of a great standard.

http://fairacrepress.co.uk/poetry-on-stinging-nettles-ebooks-now-on-sale/

http://fairacrepress.co.uk/poetry-on-frogs-ebook-and-pdf-now-on-sale/

Each book raises money for an associated charity.

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It was wonderful being part of this project and the e-books are lovely reads.

 

Writing, Research, Performing & Watching

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This week is one of those weeks that feels as if it is going on forever (in a good way, I think)! I have managed to work this week and get my nose to the writing grindstone too. Which is fortunate as I have just accepted a short-term contract for the next fortnight and will have precious time or energy left for writing. I haven’t worked full-time since my illness, but it isn’t for a long period of time and I have a week off after to recoup…well, after Mr G’s Birthday/Valentine weekend.

Next week I have writing deadlines, a headline slot at Stirchley Speaks along with Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. It is also Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch and Emma Purshouse is performing at Permission to Speak, which (depending on energy levels) I hope to make. On Saturday I am working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) and in the evening watching Liz Berry as part of National Library Day as well as working with small, terrifyingly energetic four year olds! I think the blog posts may have to wait.

the terrible daniel sluman

Maybe next week will seem as endless as this one, it is good when time feels stretched this way.

This week I have been taking chunks out of the Action Plan. Writing around the day job, as many of us have to do. My main focus was on a project that needed lots of research, which I managed to write 5 new poems and have enough material and ideas to generate more when I get a moment to write again. I have submitted this poetry and now have my fingers crossed for a positive response.

I have also been editing the manuscript, which really needs to be emailed. You know that thing when something is as written as it can be for now but you keep chipping away at it. I heard an interview with David Calcutt this week, where a comment about editing struck me because I think not only is it true of my own poetry/writing progress, but is also part of my learning of 2015 about writing once you have had work accepted and it is part of an editorial process.

David on editing poetry: ( paraphrased) some people ‘polish the diamond’ – diamond poetry is strong, hard, well executed, beautiful but it is what it is and doesn’t leave room to be anything else. Poetry can be equally as good but not as polished, where there is still breath in the work, it has been overly re-written, it allows the reader space.

I guess it is that fine line between polishing something so it shines and polishing it so hard it becomes so hard to handle it slips right out of your hand to the floor. I am always aware of ‘authentic voice’ in poetry, this may or may not be a bad thing. I know we all work differently and that my manuscript is in exceptionally safe hands editorially. It is just me learning to let go more I think.

The things that we dream of are new realities and experiencing them in real-time is different to how they were imagined.

42

I also had the pleasure of a Poetry Event, so far this year (and I know we are only weeks in), I have managed to maintain my resolution of cutting back performances and events in order to create more writing time. This was my first performance in two weeks. It was the first 42 event of 2016 and as there is no December event it has been a good while since I had seen some people. It seemed a little strange wishing each other Happy New Year at the end of the month. These spoken word nights are themed – and as you know, I pride myself on writing to theme. This month’s theme was extremely challenging:

‘Around the Myths in 80 Words’ – I liked the play on title but researching and writing the poetry was a different matter. At the end of two days I was happy with all 4 poems and they were ALL just 80 words (sometimes editing is necessary to success). I wrote about Hercules and Achelous, The Rainbow Lady – A Goddess in Mayan Myth, Welsh myths from Cader Idris. Cader Idris is a mountain in Gwynedd, Wales, found at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. I also wrote a poem based on Urban Myths.

I really enjoyed the evening and there was some great writing born from this challenging prompt. It was a late night and there are currently night works on the main exit roads, making my journey home close to an hour, on a work night! I tried not to let this dampen my spirit last night as it was such an enjoyable evening.

Also Andrew Owens shared the exciting news that rather like my local roads, the bar where he hosts 42 is having a renovation. Hopefully this will leave us with a great new performance space for the rest of the year. The pub has bands playing on the stage weekly too and the room could use some TLC, I am sure the new owners of the pub will do themselves proud. I cannot wait for the unveiling.

42 superhero Most of us are hoping the performance post disappears.

Today I heard that one of my submissions has been unsuccessful, you know when you really want to crack a publication and you submit time again to be rejected… well I have decided that since doing battle in 2014, 2015 and now this year to wait until I find a perfect match between the issue theme and work I have already written because creating to theme in a style that matches the publication doesn’t seem to be working. I will crack it.

I realised whilst playing with diary dates and deadlines that 2016 is in fact my Olympic year. I am in the 4th year of writing (technically 3rd year of poetry – two under the belt), so this will be the year I take stock and so far I think it is fair to say that I am not giving up on wordsmithing, nor will I ever. The 15 years I have taken off in the past was enough and the success and feelings I maintain writing show me that this is the right path. I know I won’t need 16 years to achieve what I am striving for – but still I look forward to taking stock over the next 4 Olympics nevertheless.

2012 brighton 427

I have also taken some time to compile my set list for Headlining next week and have finally taken my new Kindle Fire out on the open (or not quite so open) road to 42, one of the reasons I wanted one was to use for performing. I look forward to setting it up over the weekend for next week’s readings.

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This weekend I am going to watch Patience Agbabi at The Hive and go to the MAC for the 52 Launch Party before collapsing in a heap and getting some sleep before next week. I hope that the in a night-out a night pattern that fortunately fits the week will keep my head above water.

Patience Agbabi in Worcester

Telling Tales