Category Archives: Review

Review August 2018

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

Here’s the month in snapshot!


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

Week 1: 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Edited by Sharon Larkin and Sheila Macintyre.

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

Week 2 & 3

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

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

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COMING SOON!

And then I flew to Perth, WA.

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

 

Week 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

I cannot believe the summer holidays are nearly over!

Review July 2018

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July

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Week 1:

July – the season of Festivals. Ledbury Poetry Festival (30th June – 8th July) kicked off with a weekend of events I had hoped to manage. Work has been exceptionally busy and I have grabbed any time I can at the weekend to just recoup a little. My Ledbury Saturday (which was also a reason I couldn’t make this year’s National Writing Conference) was much diminished.

Sunday saw the morning at Evesham Festival of Words and Polly Stretton’s final Poetry Walk Event. It was lovely that she acknowledged those of us who have managed all three of these. It was also great that I had time to stay for the extra reading which takes place in the Almonry Gardens after the walk. http://www.almonryevesham.org/

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/evesham-festival-of-words/

I booked events for the Autumn and promoted several current projects. I also started firming up plans for Australia and the Perth Poetry Festival in August.

On Tuesday I went to Ledbury to the Homend Poets – who were launching the 11th anthology and a small collective of PoARTry poets promoted the Launch (11th) by reading some of our exhibited poetry. It was a great night – slightly soured by the M50 slip roads being closed for Roadworks and adding time onto my journey home. I had recorded the match (World Cup) and had to avoid using the radio and sadly, the 1.5 hour round the rigging route home meant I was met by revellers leaving the pub and rather giving the result away! I did witness an amazing sunset with the Malvern Hills which I would have missed if the roads had been open.

I managed to secure at least one musician for our Launch event. Bonus.

Much as I wanted to go to Ledbury for Pascale Petit and Tishani Doshi*  I had no energy after work for a mid-week jaunt across for an hour. *Tishani was part of the inspiration behind one poem in my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’.

I also wanted to go back the following evening to see Martin Figura –Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine. I spent a few days buckling down promoting events and organising shows and magazines from my desk in the evenings.

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The week finished with a rehearsal for our poetry show 30-40-60. Which was brilliant and made the three of us want to do this show again. None of us can quite believe it has been a year since the premiere event at Worcestershire LitFest 2017!

 

Week 2

Much as the first week of the month work kept me busy with report writing and assessments. I received an exciting invitation for November, more news on that once plans get firmed up.

My main focus was PoARTry at Ledbury. We had our launch night on Wednesday 11th July (another England World Cup game… this time slightly given away by the raucous cheers from the pub next door)!

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© Rick Sanders

It was a great event, mainly the Artists and Poets attended but some of us brought guests so there was an audience. The Exhibition itself did really well.

A more detailed review can be found here.

Thursday saw Ben Banyard Headline SpeakEasy in Worcester, a poet (from our 52 gang) who I wanted to meet and hear in person. It was a great evening in a new venue and the first time this event has been hosted outside. The garden was set for a wedding the next day and was beautiful. It was a fun night! Read more here.

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Friday saw a staff meal (nice to be invited) and then Saturday there was a workshop I wanted to attend in Walsall but after a full week of work and 3 nights out on the trot I needed a breather before Charley Barnes’ Book Launch in the evening.

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I was delighted to be a Guest Poet alongside Claire Walker, Sarah Leavesley and Holly Magill. As it fell during Droitwich Artsfest they advertised it as an Artsfest event. It was well attended and an exceptional evening. A pleasure to welcome Charley to the V. Press family. Read more about this sparkling evening here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/a-z-hearted-guide-to-heartache-by-charley-barnes-book-launch/

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I had the day off on Sunday – except I didn’t – I spent 6 hours sorting and editing film for our 30-40-60 performance. As well as working on a current Stanza project, sorting Issue 4 of Contour and organising paperwork for the trip to Australia.

 

Week 3 

On Monday night I spent another 5 hours in the cutting room, editing the new film for our event the next day.

On Tuesday 17th July Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself performed 30-40-60 in St. Andrew’s Church as part of the Artsfest. We had a small but mighty audience, it was a wonderful evening and lovely to hear people on the Open Mic and see poets visit Droitwich for the first time. Lots of people commented on the venue and of course the show.

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Read more about it here.

Also if you missed it – there is a review here. With thanks to Mad Hatter Reviews.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/30-40-60-performance-review/

One of the exciting things about an International Guest Poet is I get to attend plenty of workshops throughout the festival. I have had the schedule for a few months but now the programme is out was able to book into them. I am as excited about this as I am about being part of Perth Poetry Festival!

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I also had more exciting news – again under wraps for now.

Work finished – another splatter of excitement after a 3 month lock in! It was lovely working with such a great team. As everyone met in the pub to celebrate I stayed in and got an early night because my weekend was a wild one! Poetry WILD that is!

ArtsFest traditionally have a poetry day and for the past 2 years I have had the honour of organising it!

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We started at 2 PM with Poetry in the Square – my guests this year were John Mills and Liz Mills, two poets I met through 52. They put me up for the night before Stafford Festival – it was a welcome return to Stone for me – I lived there for a few years – and we have been friends ever since!

They are also brilliant poets and between us we managed the 2 hour stint in town.

Then I rushed off to Worcester to Guest Poet at Kieran Davies’ Book Launch for Legacy, published by Black Pear Press. Which was a great event, a true celebration – read more about it here.

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Then back to Park’s Cafe for Poetry Extravaganza and the first UK reading of ATOTC. It was a delightful evening of poetry.

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Read about it in full here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/artsfest-2/

 

Week 4

At this point my diary suggested (because I pencilled it in – in May), taking the first 2 weeks of my summer holiday off from poetry events and prepare for Australia… to a certain extent I have missed events I would have otherwise attended, but as always there were some which slipped through that I couldn’t possibly miss.

The week started in Ledbury collecting work from the Exhibition. PoARTry was a great project and I know I will be staying in touch with my artist, Molly Bythell.

I got everything organised for my trip except money and mini-toiletries! It took a while to find cabin luggage small enough for the airline restriction and a while longer after that to choose just 1 piece! I also invested in a large but extremely lightweight suitcase… mine date back to when wheels were first introduced and the handle extends only 6 cm from the corner… they work like a supermarket trolley with a wonky wheel and have mainly been used for storage. Travelling with soft bags and backpack ever since! However, I am not backpacking and the last time I used that on Long Haul it caused a few problems, so decided to do the respectable suitcase thing!

Tuesday saw Poetry Bites at the Kitchen Garden Cafe with Jonathan Edwards and Holly Daffurn headlining. 

Thursday I was in Stratford at a workshop and Friday I went to Stanza, where there was even more exciting news.

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This weekend I received my copy of Hex – by Jennie Farley, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Jennie was kind enough to ask me for an endorsement. It is the third book I have endorsed and it was a pleasure reading it. It is a mesmerising collection and I look forward to the official Launch in December!

Hex – Jennie Farley IDP

I also approached Guest Writers for this year’s INKSPILL online writing retreat and both have confirmed (exciting), so I spent a little time on this promotional film to encourage you to book it into your diaries NOW!

Find out more INKSPILL 2018.

I am now spending the rest of the month working on 3 writing projects, editing and organising myself ready for Perth!

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ArtsFest

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This Spring/Summer I have organised the poetry element for this festival. This is my 2nd year working alongside the Droitwich Arts Network team. The events happened in the final week of the month long festival which covers the whole spectrum of the Arts and has an extensive full programme. This year saw the introduction of Dance to the festival. It has been a pleasure to see it grow in success year on year.

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http://droitwichartsfest.org/events/

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This year a couple of Poetry Events also slipped into Week 3. Charley Barnes’ Book Launch for A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache and our Poetry show 30-40-60

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/a-z-hearted-guide-to-heartache-by-charley-barnes-book-launch/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/the-return-of-30-40-60/

I was a Guest Poet at the Book Launch and organised 30-40-60 along with Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – both events were outside of my remit of festival work.

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© Droitwich Standard

Saturday 21st July

Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Arts in View Members of Droitwich Arts Network engaged with the public in Victoria Square. Organised by Peter Hawkins.

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The Prose Readings in the square took place from 10:30- 12:30 Led by Carla Kovac, with writers Sharon Grigg, Jack Walsh, and Venessa Morgan.

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Magic by Charlie close up Stage Magic.

Poetry in the Square 2 – 4 PM

I booked John Mills & Liz Mills to come and perform poetry in St. Andrew’s Square (Town Centre) during the day. We originally had Roy McFarlane booked in too, but then he got called away… to AMERICA!

The three of us kept shoppers entertained for 2 hours. We met a few local poets and talked poetry to a few interested individuals.

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Here are a few extra pictures taken on my phone.

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The evening Poetry Event took place in Victoria Square.

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© Park’s Cafe

Poetry Extravaganza is usually an open mic evening, however this year we had an Open Mic in the first half and ATOTC – A Tale of Two Cities UK Reading in the second half.

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ATOTC was my WPL Legacy project between Worcester MA, USA and Worcester UK. 9 Poets from the 24 UK Poets came to perform the work they created with their American partners.

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It was fantastic to hear it all and it worked really well. Bigger plans afoot for ATOTC in 2019, the USA reading happens in September.

Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network – unless otherwise stated.

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© Nina Lewis

Helen Karakashian – The Chair of Droitwich Arts Network introduced the evening.

The Open Mic was MCed by Charley Barnes.

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Michael Thomas kicked off an enjoyable open mic section.

 

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Terry Baldock

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Io Osborn

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Liz Mills

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Neil Richards

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John Mills

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Maggie Doyle

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Stevie Quick

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Holly Magill

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Then after an interval I MCed the second half – ATOTC.

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After a short introduction about the project Charley Barnes started the UK Readings. We each read our call poems and our partner’s response poems from the USA.

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Charley Barnes with Henry Walters

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Maggie Doyle with Maura MacNeil

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Nina Lewis with Linda Warren

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© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Derek Littlewood with Rodger Martin

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Io Osborn with Kyle Potvin

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© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Liz Parkes with Eve Rifkah

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Stevie Quick with Claire Mowbray Golding

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© Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Polly Stretton with Susan Elizabeth Sweeney

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Michael W. Thomas with Gordo Elliot

Then we read around again, this time starting with our partner’s call poems and then our response.

Issue 3 of Contour Poetry Magazine Special ATOTC Edition can be read in full (all 116 pages) here.

It was an amazing, well attended evening and enjoyed by all!

 

30-40-60 Performance Review

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As part of the Artsfest Programme this year we performed 30-40-60 for the first time since 2017.

We are delighted to have received a review of our show.

Read the full review here http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/performance–arts.html


30-40-60 …a three-woman poetry-show complete with multi-media elements galore. 

Moving through the complexities of womanhood and a female life at varying stages, Lewis, Walker and Gee combine their works seamlessly, borrowing from each other’s works wonderfully to breathe a new life into many of their respective poems. The vocal delivery throughout was clear and concise while the poems were shared out across the three separate voices too, allowing the collaborative feel of the show to really come through. All three performed with care and control over their work and indeed each other’s, showing just how much time, effort, and synchronisation has gone into the planning of this. 

Having read the three collections that the show is made up from, what struck me as particularly wonderful is how these poems are made new by this new-style delivery, complete with musical and visual accompaniments – thanks to Lewis’ film addition to the show. 

… empowered, well-put together, and downright inspiring, thanks to the strong feminist themes and defiant tones that come through from the off – and the authors themselves don’t ease off that pedal until the final music plays. 

A well-polished and thought-provoking collaboration…

…reminding listeners what stunning writers they all are in their own rights…

© 2018 MAD HATTER REVIEWS MHR

Sculpture Workshop Reading

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from April – June. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks. We have now reached May!

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

This event started with a workshop back in September at the Jinney Ring, celebrating the annual Sculpture Trail. I am running a new Sculpture Trail workshop this year in September, drop me a line if you are interested in making an advanced booking.

For information – worcspl@gmail[dot]com

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Following the workshop the project went twofold – an exhibition of our poetry which has been on display at The Jinney Ring since April and a Reading.

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It took a while to find a venue in the village, but in the end it was perfect and the Church even had a Book Sale! Plus it was an extremely warm Bank Holiday and a stone building is the perfect air con and a new opportunity has arisen for some Autumn/Spring workshops based in St. Mary’s.

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© 2018 Martin Aspley-Davis

We are a vibrant church set upon a hilltop in the village of Hanbury in Worcestershire. We, at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, attract people of all ages and outlooks to services that range from the contemporary to the traditional, from the informal to the formal and we would love to meet you. © 2018 https://www.hanburychurch.org/

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On arrival the path from the gates had been chalked, the church steps were chalked and there was a billboard advertising the event.

Just as I hoped, this brought people in for a few poems, we also had an audience who enjoyed the full almost hour of poetry about the Jinney Ring Sculptures.

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The workshop poets all thoroughly enjoyed hearing each other’s take on the Artwork and it brought back many memories of the trail. It is always interesting to hear other people’s poems when there is a shared source. The Mermaid sculpture featured in a fair few poems and not one of them the same.

It was unfortunate that not every poet was able to be there, however other Workshop Poets kindly read poems from the missing participants.

Maggie Doyle, Margaret Adkins, Polly Stretton & Nigel Hutchinson.

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            Jenna Plewes & Serena Trowbridge

The acoustics in the Church were great and the poetry was quality. It was a wonderful celebration of work, we read poems by Claire Walker, Roz Levens, Cass Osborn, Anne Milton and Linda Williams too.

To make more of a day of it we went back to where it all started and enjoyed tea and cake in the sunshine at The Jinney Ring.

My gratitude to Judith Burman, the Church Warden for advertising and helping organise this event and to the Rev. David Morris for allowing poets to use the Church in the first place. We all had a wonderful time and it was a great success.

What was also special is a number of people had never had the pleasure of exploring/discovering the Church before and I know they too will now probably take a walk through the woods up to the Church (as we did when we were children). I look forward to working with words inside the Church later in the year.

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Flashback April: Bohemian Voices

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from April – June. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Following Cheltenham Poetry Festival, the next night I was part of Steve Soden’s Bohemian Voices event at the Jinney Ring, Hanbury.

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Steve used to run these events in London and back in November he premiered the evening at the Jinney Ring to a sell out crowd. Music, Comedy and Poetry all in one night.

It was a fabulous evening and a joy to be part of. Another event I wish I had the time to blog about in the moment – because afterwards I felt euphoric!

Tickets for evening included 6 acts, canapes, 2 courses and a welcome drink and I was surprised and delighted when my mum and Aunty showed up! It was sold out and the restaurant was buzzing on the other side of the wall to where we were busy setting up.

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It was exciting meeting the other acts and it was special sitting with the other artists, tucked away in the restaurant for the courses. After a brief sound check, whilst canapes were being enjoyed by guests. The evening started… with FOOD! Which was fantastic – the food was fantastic – but also being able to eat, so often with evening gigs you travel during teatime, arrive hungry with little choice of food (if any), leave hungry, arrive home and eat at about midnight.

The menu choices made it really hard to decide on what to have and as we were performing we were allowed to order early, before I had a chance to swipe a look at other diner’s plates!

 

 

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8 – 8:45 PM

The first course ‘The Main Event‘, was followed by 45 mins of entertainment from the first 3 artists on the bill. I think performing on a full stomach is hard and that is exactly what I had to do as I was up first!

Steve fortunately performed a poem and made introductions, but essentially I had the slot no performer jumps at. On the other hand, I was able to enjoy the rest of the show and Steve does know what he is doing with a running order.

Nervous butterflies and Burritos – a curious mix. My set was mainly from Fragile Houses and it went down well.

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© Steve Soden

Then there was music from Danielle Cawdell, which was simply magical.

 

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Comedy from Masai Graham, who won the crowd over and had us all chuckling.

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Then an interval with tea and coffee. ‘The Final Curtain‘ brought us more culinary delights, this time in the form of bite size desserts, which I enjoyed sharing with the talented musicians. I remember a small pink one tasting of heaven. It was great to have an hour for the 2nd course and it gave me time to catch up with my mum and Aunty too.

The Jinney Ring understand that this experience is food with entertainment and want their diners to experience a laid back evening with plenty of time to eat, drink and be merry.

WP_20180427_003 There was even time to read the poetry exhibition from my Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop too.

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I could have happily stayed in the restaurant for hours chatting to fellow artists but after a much needed coffee (to balance the sugar rush), we were all ushered back into the performance area for the 2nd half.

9:45 – 10:30 PM

The 2nd half started with poetry from Steve Soden, who was also the slick, professional and reassuring host of the evening, followed by Matt Windle (Birmingham’s Current Poet Laureate) his set, as always was phenomenal.

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The evening closed with a cowboy, Rob Brunt – whose set was spellbinding. It took me back to memories of travel and was thoroughly enjoyable.

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It was great catching up with Matt and meeting the other performers. I had a really lovely evening, I enjoyed it equally to Cheltenham Poetry Festival (and I loved that)!

It is rare I survive/manage back to back bookings anymore and to have these two great events booked in my diary in April was a real high way of ending a busy month! It was a late night, but one filled with pleasure from start to finish.

I am grateful to Steve for the booking and would recommend you look out for another Bohemian Voices soon. You are in for a treat!

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RELATED LINKS:

https://bromsgrovestandard.co.uk/news/night-of-music-and-poetry-at-the-jinney-ring-craft-centre-in-hanbury/

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/lifestyle/bohemian-voices-event-heading-to-hanbury-5981/

 

A Night of Light

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

I had the pleasure of attending a Book Launch on Thursday night. It had been an exceptionally long and somewhat emotional day at work and then I had to dash off for more work before heading across to the suburbs to catch a train into the city. My train was delayed with a 15 minute wait in between stations, déjà vu to my last post-Book Launch ride home, which took the best part of an hour (three times the journey). I managed to arrive just in time, but not looking too fresh after all my whizzing around!

I am so glad I made it though as it was a most special evening. Part of me knew it would be because – it was David Calcutt’s Launch.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

I know that some of the poems in this new collection The last of the light is not the last of the light, published by Fair Acre Press, are going to be a hard read, tissues on stand by and I was worried that I may fall apart during the launch but the set David chose suited us celebrating his poetry perfectly.

There was music from Glen Buglass, poetry from Nadia Kingsley, Roz Goddard, Helen Calcutt and even a Harmonica, cakes, Prosecco and BOOKS.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

We were in the Art Room, which is where I had my own Book Launch back in 2016. The evening was hosted by Jonathan Davidson and the room was full of poets, friends and family. With the talented work of photographer Wayne Fox, whose images will hopefully capture something of the experience for you. Thank you to Wayne for allowing me to use his work in this review.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

Despite knowing I would write a review, I really felt that not taking notes was important. I wanted to be 100% present. The evening began with music from Glen Buglass , it ended with music and in between we were treated to some fine poetry.

Nadia Kingsley was the first poet to take a spot, as Editor of Fair Acre Press this was a fitting start. Nadia and David have a working relationship that stretches back years. I loved Nadia telling us that the initial seed for their collaborative work started through a conversation they had a poetry festival whilst waiting in a queue to buy books! I saw them perform together in Kidderminster and bought both books Roadkill and Through the Woods. Nadia writes a lot about Nature, and treated us to a set of superb poems and spoke about David and the opportunity and pleasure of publishing this collection.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

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Helen Calcutt read poems from her forthcoming V. Press collection ‘Unable Mother’ which launches in September. She told us she was honoured to be one of the Guest Poets and had not expected it. Her set took us through womanhood, motherhood, nature and loss.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

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Following on was Roz Goddard who read some poems from her Flarestack Pamphlet ‘Spill’ and others. She lifted me with her poem about the joy of Buddhism. Another beautiful set.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

 

Then we had an interval of books, cake and Prosecco. I had planned to mingle like mad, but with so many people in the room I wanted to talk to, this was impossible. I barely made it from my seat, I managed to catch up with five people – although hugging with Prosecco & cake hands is a fine art!

Sadly, I missed a chat with Helen (who flew off to teach Dance) and wasn’t there at the end when I managed my mingle.

The room was a hive of activity and it took professional shepherding to get us all back to our seats.

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Before Jonathan introduced David, there was more music.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

David shared just six poems, although true to his impromptu style changed his mind on at least one, I wasn’t counting – he may have added or substituted. Whatever he did, it was magical to hear. I think most people bought the collection so we will be able to read it for ourselves, it is always memorable to hear the poet read their own words.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

I was grateful that the light was very much present throughout the evening and in David’s set. And to finish the night- we were treated to a musical duet. I don’t think I have ever heard the musician David Calcutt and it was a treat. I was certainly transported to Mississippi, lost on dreams of travel I thoroughly enjoyed this highlight.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

It was great to catch up with friends and Birmingham, to find pockets of time to catch up with Stuart Bartholomew and to buy the book. I had a good mingle after the event and managed to catch up with most people.

 

A thoroughly enjoyable Book Launch with a relaxed atmosphere. A perfect evening.

calcutt  If you click the cover you can buy a copy for yourself.

“This is a collection full of grace, at once deeply authentic and heart-felt, a set of beautiful lyrical poems.”

 

RELATED LINKS:

https://www.waynefoxphotography.com/

Flashback April: Cheltenham Poetry Festival

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from April – June. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Back in April, I performed at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. I was asked to do Cheltenham PF in 2016 but I was too shy about the ‘how to’ and waited on emails, leaving it too late to secure the booking for the 2017 Festival. So I had the pleasure of being in the 2018 Programme instead. Booked way in advance (as these things are), I was gutted when an email from Jill Abram popped up in the inbox asking me to be part of the V.Press Stablemates in London, and of all the dates – YES, you guessed it – 26th April when I was already booked for Cheltenham. Clashes. They will be the undoing of me!

Still, I was very excited to be part of CPF and very much looked forward to it for months.

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I arrived at Smokey Joe’s in time to see the INDIGO DREAMS SHOWCASE and get a pre-launch preview of Anna’s new collection (her 5th) ‘Ghosting for Beginners’.

INDIGO DREAMS SHOWCASE 7-8.30 pm, Smokey Joe’s,

CPF IDP
Indigo Dreams is an award-winning publisher renowned for its beautifully produced
collections of contemporary poetry by both new and established writers. The press was
voted Most Innovative Publisher 2017 at the annual Saboteur Awards. Join us for a
feast of verse as four authors from the press read from their brand-new publications.
Chris Hardy (‘Chris consistently hits the right note’ – Roger McGough), poet, musician
and member of Little Machine, reads from Sunshine At The End Of The World. Chrys
Salt (‘a wonderful and unique poet’ – Bernard Kops), reads from The Punkawallah’s Rope.
Festival Founder and Director Anna Saunders (‘a poet who can surely do anything’ – The
North) reads from Ghosting for Beginners. The showcase also includes a reading by one of the joint winners of the Indigo Dreams 2017 Pamphlet Competition. Amy Kinsman
is a multi-published poet and playwright from Manchester. © Cheltenham Poetry Festival Programme

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It was a cracking event, a packed out venue and a great IDP line-up. I was looking forward to discovering new to me poets and hearing from poets I have only had contact with via social media.

WP_20180426_003 The poets were introduced by Jennie Farley (another IDP poet) and I was held captive by stories in poems for the next hour.

More photos © Sarah Snell-Pym

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CPF Sarah Snell-Pym IDP

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NINA LEWIS – FRAGILE HOUSES
PLUS PETER MCDADE, GUESTS AND OPEN MIC
9-10.30 pm, Smokey Joe’s
‘In our family, minds go missing’. Nina Lewis writes, in one of a series of moving and
poignant poems about family life from Fragile Houses (V. Press), a pamphlet commended
for its ‘tremendous warmth and descriptive power’. In this highly praised volume Nina
Lewis explores the people, places and memories carried through life and deftly
examines the human condition through the lens of family relationships.

Nina is joined by Peter McDade – expect deliciously surreal, and thought- provoking poetry from this talented and erudite poet who has drawn comparisons with Ivor Cutler. This event also includes an open mic. Come and share your poems on the subject of home.

© Cheltenham Poetry Festival Programme

 

I was incredibly nervous, but had worked on a perfect story arc set and despite a mass exodus to the bar in between events, people came back. I thoroughly enjoyed getting Fragile Houses to new ears and it was a pleasure to be back in the venue reading. There were a few last minute additions to the night, poetry from another IDP poet- Ben Ray, who joined Peter & I with a set of poetry before the open mic.

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© Sarah Snell-Pym

It was a wonderful evening of poetry and afterwards, on a complete high I joined Neil Richards (who performed in the first event of the evening, which I was sadly stuck in traffic for) and Ruth Williams in a pub where we were joined by Elvis!

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© Ruth Williams

Review June 2018

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June this year was definitely a month of transition.

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

It saw my final 10 Days as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, the end of 4 years working for Writing West Midlands as a Lead/Assistant Writer for their Spark Young Writers Group in Worcester and although I am not saddened by this particular transition– I have just 3 weeks left in full time employment (which is funding my trip to Australia in the summer).

Week 1: 

I intentionally missed every poetry event this week to conserve energy for the WLF – Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe – the emotional onslaught of watching another poet taking up the mantle of Laureate and the amount of work. work I have to balance meant that there was no time or energy left to support anything else.

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I was desk busy: creating 10 Days – a sequence of films charting my final 10 Days as WPL -reflecting back over the year. These were fun to make but time consuming. Especially after uploading I would spot an incorrect frame and have to go back to the virtual cutting room floor!

Editing the final WPL Anthology Collection of Science/Maths based poems, wrapping up the Twin Town project between Voiron & Droitwich and reading submissions for the final WPL Contour (although perhaps not the final Contour).

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My WPL Twin Town project between Droitwich and Voiron went live on June 7th.

This features 9 poets from England and France exchanging poems on the town and writing responses using something in the original town poem which sparked inspiration.

The collection is bi-lingual and poetry appears in English, French & Portuguese. There is a Food Festival in Droitwich this month and I am hoping to meet Madeleine Silvestri from Voiron Twinning Association, who found the Poet Alain Graz who helped me find our French town poets.

european TT The Anthology can be read here Twin Town.

My poetry films can be found here 10 Days

 

Week 2:

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On Saturday I joined a collective of Stanza Poets in the Forest of Dean for a Heritage Poetry Project organised by Andy Hoaen. After his involvement in survey/heritage work ‘Veteran Tree History Project Speech House Survey’ he decided he wanted to create something. His vision:

I would like to see this as an opportunity for an encounter between two different ways of seeing the world, archaeology with its rigorous approach routed in scientific “objective” description of place and space, and poets with their ability to succinctly capture the essence of things and provide an imaginative subjective view on the world.

It was an interesting and fruitful day for photography and notes and now we all hope to create some tree poetry and more. There may be an exhibition or pamphlet. It was also a great day out and lovely to see some poets who are sadly missed at Stanza meetings.

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© Kathy Gee (no filters)

I wanted the Science/Maths Anthology (my final WPL Anthology) to go live before the Festival Launch and as I was (I just deleted ‘am’) the 7th Poet Laureate I scheduled the arrival for 7:07 AM!

Every Word Counts WPL

You can read the collection here.

Then it was onto the opening of Worcestershire LitFestival & Fringe.

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It was a great Launch – one of the best, although the judging panel missed the Young Writers Competition reading and the Flash Fiction winners as we were interviewing and preparing to judge the WPL competition. My fellow judges were Polly Stretton (former WLF Director), Stephen Wilson (Arts, County) & Rachel Evans (Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate).

The finalists were Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley and it was a close competition. It was a pleasure to hear them perform poetry  that we judged anonymously just a few weeks ago. Any one of them would have been a worthy winner and done Worcestershire proud. There can only be one winner though and this year it was Betti Moretti.

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Before the winner was announced I performed the poems which won me the Laureateship: Lit Up & Tasseomancy.

 

I couldn’t believe the length of appreciative applause at the end. It was a joyous moment.

 

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© Catherine Crosswell

I had previously joked (since about March when you have to start promoting the competition) that I was going to be the 1st WPL who refused to step down. It was Betti’s idea (for the record) but we had a little tug ‘o’ war over the award.

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It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would have been to congratulate the new WPL and hand it all over. Some relief even, perhaps.

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© Catherine Crosswell

Coffee and cake wouldn’t have fuelled another year at acceleration and it isn’t as if I am not busy.

It was a delight to be part of the event (although if I could, I would have got out of judging), part of the remit – I knew it was coming. Thought it was nice how we were up on the balcony rather than beside the stage as in previous years. This was possibly easier for the finalists. Although there is nothing easy about being a finalist. It is a hard, emotional competition.

A full review of the Launch and announcement of the New WPL here Launch of WLF 2018

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Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe dominated the week, the festival ran from 10th-16th June and was as fantastic as ever. I had to get used to not posting everything on https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/ but at least the waters of the fountain are well and truly active and in full spring again!

You can read write ups of the events I was involved in:

Tuesday 12th – Night at the Museum IV – a wonderful night organised by Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2016-17), Suz Winspear – featuring Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate Rachel Evans, Former YPL Chloe Clarke, Nina Lewis Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2017-18) and the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti in the first half and Suz Winspear in the 2nd half with her poems from the Archives to celebrate the end of her 2 year Residency at Royal Worcester. It was a marvellous evening.

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Wednesday 13th 42 Festival Special – A wonderful evening that saw the Antipoet back in Worcester, with their new book – C:/Users/HP/Documents/Writing Projects/Black Pear/Does My Bass/D published by Black Pear Press.

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© Donna Ray

In the second half a plethora of 42 regulars took to the stage for a themed night ‘The Bewitched Worcestershire Inn’.

Thursday 14th June SpeakEasy Special at Worcester Arts Workshop. Headlined by the amazing Dub Thieves, it was also Betti Moretti’s official WPL hand-over with her newly engraved WPL award. A superb night of performances and some who were new to SpeakEasy too.

 

Week 3:

Festival By The River – LitFest Take Over.

An exciting opportunity arose in the Spring to be part of the festival happening at the Weorgoran Pavilion on South Quay, Worcester. The events for the 10 day festival have been programmed by Cat Roberts. The Festival launched on Friday 15th

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and on the 16th Peter Sutton and I took to the stage and what a sparkly, wondrous stage it is!

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I spent a while creating a water based set and wrote some long awaited poems from our Canal trip (Poet’s Day Out) 2017. I had great fun compiling the half hour set.

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It was a brilliant end to my week.

I spent some time over the weekend planning the next couple of events and promoting ATOTC, 30-40-60, ARTSFEST and PoARTry. I also had a rare day off from poetry.

 

Week 3:

Started with an evening organising the Launch/ Reading Event for PoARTry Ledbury with Leena Batchelor. We already have 12 people interested in reading at the event. The next stage is to confirm dates and then we can get on with creating the schedule and marketing the event.

POARTry Ledbury coming soon

 

I finally managed time to create answers for the remaining four questions sent to me to market the Perth Poetry Festival and I started working on an interview for a new article. More on that news soon.

I promoted 30-40-60 which is soon to be rehearsed and performed again (July).

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I promoted the UK/USA readings for ATOTC which I am very excited by.

 

Ludlow Fringe Festival

logo ludlow fringe Dirty Laundry Launch with Deb Alma & Guest Poets.

I was one of Deb’s Guest Poets at this Launch along with Angela Topping, Roz Munro Derry, Holly Magill & Ruth Stacey. It was a fantastic evening and lovely to share a meal in The Blue Boar first and have a good catch up.

A full review can be found here.

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During the week I worked on interviews and poetry, organised my final WWM session and promoted Festival events.

I attended a Room 204 Workshop in Birmingham at Evolve (which back in the day was the Adam & Eve and venue for Sunday Xpress). Creative Writing to Promote Wellbeing workshop by Emma Marks & Sandra Griffiths of The Red Earth Collective CIC, was a half day event on Creative Writing in the Mental Health Setting.

A half day course for writers who want to develop or improve creative writing workshops for people with a lived experience of mental health problems. The workshop will be an experimental and engaging reflection on ideas and issues associated with running creative writing workshops within a mental health setting. © Red Earth

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It was an intense and useful workshop with plenty of participation. I have more ideas now than ever and a good network of support for future ventures in this direction.

Having missed 1.5 days of work to attend Festivals & training I hit the ground running and had a backlog of assessment marking which came home with me and sadly meant I missed Rob Francis at Dear Listener, the fault of my work schedule. test marking and the lack of time to reach the city. No guilt here – only frustration!

This is the weekend I missed 2 events I was supposed to attend and had a clash of two events too. This always makes me feel low. I wish I could clone myself and attend everything!

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

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Sadly I missed it, you can read about it and find out more about these new collections here When You Miss Something BIG!

 

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BUY A COPY Leon Priestnall is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. © Verve Poetry Press

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

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There was also a welcome return of Confab Cabaret in Malvern and they had Elvis McGonagall Headlining and I had a chance to get to Stratford Poetry Festival to see Tony Harrison. Of course neither of these events were possible as I was already committed to the Book Launch. Exhaustion is a hard thing to forgive.

Week 4:

On Saturday I headed to The Hive for my last Spark Young Writer group. It has been a pleasure to work for WWM for the past 4 years, 3 of those as a Lead Writer and I shall miss this part of my writing life a lot!

Spark YW

Afterwards I planned to go to Stratford Poetry Festival to The Black Box event, which was part of a schools/education project I worked on this Spring. My eldest nephew also had a very important birthday – plans for Sunday were rearranged to Saturday and I was already late as they started whilst I was still in my WWM session. I decided I couldn’t miss his momentous occasion and so instead bailed on watching the children perform at the festival. If there is one thing guaranteed to make you feel more guilty than exhaustion it is letting children down!

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Saturday also saw a 10th Birthday Summer Party for Nine Arches Press, having attended their celebrations before for a few years, I was gutted when I discovered this clashed with WWM and my nephew’s birthday party!

I knew I was never able to go – this did not stop me wanting to be there. Again, I have heard wonderful reviews. Sharing photos that have been shared on social media.

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#TenforNine: Nine Arches Press celebrates ten years of publishing

Join us to celebrate ten years of publishing with a series of birthday events on Saturday 23rd June at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Saturday 23rd June at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

© Nine Arches Press will publish new work by ten poets in 2018.

(Top: l-r Aviva Dautch, Romalyn Ante, Sarala Estruch, Robert Peake, Josephine Corcoran. Bottom: l-r Riche McCaffery, Deborah Alma, Roy McFarlane, Suzannah Evans, Isobel Dixon)

There will be something for everyone:‘The Big Read In’ is a chance for readers’ groups to hear TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poet Jacqueline Saphra (All My Mad Mothers) discussing her work, followed by an exclusive writing workshop with former Canal Laureate Jo Bell as well as the launch of Josephine Corcoran’s debut collection, What Are You After? The evening will see a ‘Birthday Mixtape’ event in the conservatoire’s jazz club, co-hosted by Nine Arches Driector and Editor Jane Commane and Rishi Dastidar (Ticker-Tape) featuring favourite readings from a range of Nine Arches Press poets. © Nine Arches Press

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9 10 cake

I missed the WLF Poetry Picnic in Cripplegate Park as I had to finish marking before I could journey to Cheltenham for Anna Saunders Book Launch. I also had an opticians appointment earlier in the week and needed to take Mr. G. into town to help me decide which frames to buy. I was walking around with 9 pairs at one point!

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Anna’s Book Launch at The Retreat Wine Bar was amazing, a pure night of celebration. Her guests were David Clarke and Jonny Fluffypunk and there was an open mic section with Ghost themed poems to start proceedings. It was packed and the open mic list read like ‘Beautiful South Lyrics’.

anna book launch

Full review COMING SOON.

The main focus this week was the PoARTry Ledbury project, my own writing and Book Launches, more family birthdays and Poetry Festivals. I attempted to keep my schedule free of evening events as this is the busiest time at work with lots of deadlines to meet by the beginning of July and in the current heatwave all I really want to do is feast on ice lollies and sleep!

 

The date was finally set for the PoARTry event, we decided it then spent a week trying to match schedules before finding an AGM clash with the date and reverting back to the original one, which sadly means Rick Sanders won’t be there.

We have had about half the collective sign up to say they are coming so it looks to be a great evening shaping up. Leena and I now have our work cut out developing a running order/ details of the evening. I am looking forward to it and getting extremely excited about seeing my artist’s work in the flesh. Molly Bythell was my extremely talented partner on this project and our collaboration has been bountiful. I am only framing 2-3 poems but have written close to 20!

Ledbury PoARTry SHARE

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On Thursday evening I made my way into Birmingham to David Calcutt’s Book Launch at Waterstones, which was in the Art Room, where I had my own Launch back in 2016. It was great to catch up with people and was a lovely evening. Full review here.

© Elaine Christie

Ledbury Poetry Festival is also underway, I am hoping to get across there at some point. I am definitely there on Tuesday 3rd July.

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All in all, an incredible month of ‘not being —— anymore’, getting used to just being again.

WLF 2018 SpeakEasy Special

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So the world goes World Cup Mad but here we are, all about the Poetry!

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So the amazing monthly Poetry night SpeakEasy (usually held on the 2nd Thursday of the month) does a Festival Special. It was held at Worcester Arts Workshop and I only knew of one cellar area – like the Cavern and wondered how they were ever going to fit the band in… well, I needn’t have worried because there was another area (now the theatre part makes sense). The stage was fully kitted out ready for the Dub Thieves in the 2nd half and a Poet’s mic was placed on the step, central to the stage – preventing us from impromptu sessions on the instruments. (As if Poets misbehave!)

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The first half of the night was book-ended in the traditional way of outgoing Laureate (who could that be?) and new Poet Laureate with a plethora of performers in between including some prose and a former Poet Laureate too. A truly, special evening hosted by the marvellous Charley Barnes (one of the LitFest Directors).

There will be more photos to follow, but here is a taster.

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I kicked off the evening with a 10 minute set, I included a poem I wrote for Credo, as it has been a year since Grenfell and although a Festival Special may not appear to the right place for such a poem, I spent my journey listening to the news of the silent walks and ceremonies being held for the first anniversary in memory of the 72 who lost their lives. I also included some new writing, poems I have written over the past few months and finished a fairly serious set with the poem written especially for WLF 2018, for Suz Winspear’s Night at the Museum IV ‘Art Attack’.

Stevie Quick performed a dramatic set including poems about Newton and Thank You Mr Donald. Kevin Brooke apologised for bringing prose to a poetry gig but definitely didn’t need to apologise for the prose, a war story from WW1. Fay Whitfield made her SpeakEasy debut with a stunning set, Sometimes I’m Not Okay was moving and her political poem Skin packed a punch. Tim Stavert performed a poem based on the WPL ‘Future echoes’ theme, his poem Stresses had important things to say about Mental Health. James Burr brought more prose. As a performing artist, I loved Man on the Street. Neil Richards performed several short poems and an emotionally charged poem inspired by ‘Burial’ by Cathy Linh Che.

Then came more Poets Laureate. Suz Winspear treated us to 3 new poems, including some she had written about the canal especially for her Weorgoran Pavilion Festival event on Tuesday 19th June. I loved her poem about the Theatrical Boarding House for actors from the Worcester Theatre Royal.

The first half was closed by the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Betti Moretti. We were treated to a 10 minute set which included her winning poems and amongst others: A Napple a Day, 13 and Genetic Wealth, which is a beautiful poem. A heartfelt and superb set.

And before she had chance to leap off the step Charley presented me with her newly engraved WPL Award and Betti and I had the handover photos. There will never be a serious photo shoot if Betti and I have anything to do with it. I cannot wait to see what we have come up with this time!

The SpeakEasy Special was fantastic fun and a band to finish the night, was perfect. The Dub Thieves were a great band, amazing. They transported the Worcester Arts Workshop to somewhere far away, there was dancing, singing and even some writing. Lots of chatter and laughter… like someplace else I know…

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That is nearly it from me for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. I do have one final performance at the Weorgoran Pavilion Festival on Saturday 16th from 12 – 1 PM.

Peter Sutton (WPL 2018 Runner Up) and I will be taking to the stage to share our Worcester poems and more.