Category Archives: Review

Writing Book Reviews – WMRN Reader in Residence

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This summer I had the exciting opportunity to apply to be a Reader in Residence, my application was successful and Warwickshire Libraries now have me in role at Rugby Library. The position started in September and runs until March 2018.

Following meetings on site, emails and team meetings I spent a month planning and promoting the first workshop ‘Writing A Book Review’.

wmrn review writing workshop

My group comprised of talented, experienced writers. It was lovely to watch the enthusiasm during the session as people relaxed and got to know each other. One of the great spin offs from this event was the networking opportunities. I am certain some of the participants will keep in contact with each other and explore what the county has to offer.

I was happy with how the workshop went, after spending several days tweaking plans and making sure the massive amount of input could be covered in the time we had available. We did just fit it all in, the most important elements were given as a handout at the end.

I opted for a very informal evaluation, but was too anxious to read people’s feedback straight away.

It was very positive and useful. We plan to repeat the workshop next year with some members from the various Reading Groups associated with Rugby Library – and the general public, so if you missed it and you fancy learning some Top Tips and insights, look out for further promotion in the Library and on Eventbrite.

https://librariesblog.warwickshire.gov.uk/2017/11/24/meet-our-reader-in-residence/

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Feedback: 

An amazing amount of interesting information in an hour and a half. 

An inspiring afternoon.

I found this afternoon encouraging for my writing in the future.

I love getting together with people who love to read!

Enjoyed the workshop, you have a calm, free-spirited air about you. 

Overall, extremely enjoyable and more importantly, informative.

The ideas mentioned are going to be really helpful.

Lovely atmosphere.

Informative and useful.

Great to meet like-minded people.

It inspired me to write and read more. 

Really well structured session with great tips.

Relaxed atmosphere, I really enjoyed it. 

rugby Lib.png© Rugby Library 2017

It was a relief to know everyone had enjoyed it and the information helped and inspired them. I can now pass all the good news onto the team at Rugby Library.

The team were very supportive today, huge thanks to those involved in ensuring this event ran smoothly, for taking photos, bringing us more hot water for a 2nd round of caffeine -much needed as we were whizzing through at a great pace! For the biscuits/refreshments & setting up the space.

Thanks to Ann Brine (Manager Rugby Library) for coming to evaluate and debrief. The session went really well and I am now ready for my next Reader in Residence mission, watch this space!

Thanks also to Roz Goddard at WMRN.

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Adam Speaks Launch Croome Court

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Today was the launch of Adam Speaks at Croome Court (National Trust). This is a project I have been working on as part of a team from Room 204, Writing West Midlands.

The Lead Artist on the project was Chris Alton. I will be writing a full blog post as soon as I can. I had a great afternoon at Croome, it was wonderful to see all parts of the collaboration come together and as for Adam’s Tree House (as it is now known), it was an amazing feat of art and engineering! A beautiful space that the NT team at Croome will be using well, I already have the inside line on a few possibilities.

Loved the fact that in the FREE cupcake Marquee there was an ideas board for how to use the art, which will now remain for at least a year.

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To mark the opening of our new Chris Alton Adam Speaks exhibition we will be holding a launch day on Saturday 25 November with a packed programme of activities. The official opening will take place at 3.30pm by Artist Hew Locke.

Adam Speaks Tree House Launch Saturday 25 November 2017

From 12.00pm to 4.00pm, we have a full programme of activities inspired by the Adam Speaks project and its participants.

Church Hill Marquee: 12.00pm – 3.00pm Build a Robert Adam inspired structure and share it with #Adamspeaks

Poetry in the Adam Speaks Tree House 12.00pm – 3.00pm with Kurly McGeachie

Long Gallery Croome Court:

12.00pm:         Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

12.30pm:         The Sixth Form College Worcester

1.00pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

1.30pm:           The Sixth Form College Worcester

2.00pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

2.30pm:           The Sixth Form College Worcester

3.00pm:           Formal opening speeches in the Long Gallery.

3.10pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts performance in the Adam Speaks Tree House.

3.30pm:           Formal opening of the Adam Speaks Tree House by Hew Locke

Words for the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts and Kimichi School provided and inspired by Writing West Midlands Participants.

Adam Speaks themed cupcakes will be available in the marquee on Church Hill throughout the day. (Subject to availability).

  © 2017 National Trust

Our poems were exhibited along with the Adam Speaks display in the participation area downstairs, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, they’re passed by everyone on the way to the Tea Room.

They also inspired the dancework of the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts and Kimichi School group, which was a delight to know. Every tree has a strong root foundation, no matter how invisible it becomes. Everything starts with a strong base and I for one am delighted that some of that was our ink.

It was a great opportunity and one I thoroughly enjoyed and Chris Alton’s Room 204 workshop is going down in history as the longest workshop I have ever taken part in. Time flies when you’re having fun!

croome dance

© 2017 Nina Lewis

Immensely proud of my old mobile phone for managing such great shots!

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RELATED LINKS:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/projects/adam-speaks

 

Poetry Swindon Festival Day 1

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Photography Credit: Mark Farley, RJ Museum © 2017

Thursday 5th October (Cont’d)

After a wonderful morning at Artsite… we all headed back to the museum.

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These hats, like Jinny’s balloons feature heavily throughout the Festival!

Back at the Richard Jefferies Museum we had a whole afternoon and evening of events to enjoy and of course – for the team, chores and jobs we needed to get used to quickly.

16:00 to 17:00 POETRY LECTURE RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
In this special lecture, From The Supernatural To The Surreal, Christopher Eddy, philosopher and poet, traces the journey from the one to the other in poems by W.B.Yeats and Dylan Thomas.
£5

Christopher PS

Christopher Eddy provided a lecture, whilst Stephen, Gram and myself busily started preparing for our performance at 5:30 PM.

I was incredibly nervous and felt I needed more than an hour to get my head swapped to performance mode, I needn’t have been so nervous. It was an exceptional event, I am not just saying that because it was our event! People were still talking about it several days later.

17:30 to 18:30 V FORMATION – POETS of V. PRESS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
A celebration of three new and exciting voices in British poetry: Stephen Daniels, Gram Joel Davies and Nina Lewis. Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. His debut pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them was published in 2017 by V. Press. Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon and his pamphlet, Bolt Down This Earth was V. Press’ Forward Prize nominee for 2017. Nina Lewis is Worcestershire Poet Laureate and her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016.

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We were introduced by Sam Loveless.

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SPF STEPHEN V

Stephen Daniels

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Gram Joel Davies

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Nina Lewis

 

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Nina Julia Webb

Julia Webb © 2017

Nina taken Julia Webb

Julia Webb © 2017

Stephen Daniels, the most local poet amongst our formation, read from his recently published pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them, then Gram Joel Davies read from his collection Bolt Down This Earth and finally I took to the ‘Blue Gate’ home-made by the marvellous handy man, Mike Pringle, lectern to read and perform poems from Fragile Houses.

Poetry Swindon was the first festival where I sold my pamphlet last year when it was fresh off the publishers line. I was delighted to have an official space on the book stall again this year along with my fellow V. Press poets.

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We had a great event which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

Then it was time to don the green uniform (RJ T-shirts) and get back to work serving supper before the final show of the day. One I was very much looking forward to as it featured all 3 Resident Poets and I am a big fan of all of them.

 

20:00 to 21:30 READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
Daljit Nagra, Tania Hershman & Jacqui Saphra, our resident poets, perform from their
new work and most recent collections. Plus music from young singer and poet Olivia Tuck.

SPF Res

Hilda Sheehan introduced the event and poets.

AWF PS first

Olivia Tuck shared her music and then three poets wowed a tent palace and demonstrated why they are this year’s resident poets.

 

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Tania Hershman

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Jacqueline Saphra

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Daljit Nagra

It was a magical evening and a great first night at the festival. I wish I could review it all in more detail, but it was a long while ago and nothing but the emotions stay fresh in my memory. By the end of the 5 days that was Poetry Swindon, I was struggling to remember my name!

I know that I have read and heard Daljit’s work a lot in the past three years and always want to hear it again, it is never quite the same when I read it from the page. I know that I first met Tania Hershman years ago, officially in 2014 at Poetry Swindon when Jo Bell was the resident poet and Tania insisted she was a short story writer and not a poet… fast forward a few years, she has had her first collection published by Nine Arches, so I think Jo was right on that one! Jacqueline Saphra I had the pleasure of meeting just a week before Poetry Swindon, in London at Free Verse, the Poetry Book Fair (which I also need to blog still). I thoroughly enjoyed her reading and discovering more of her work.

Traditionally after every final event Hilda and the team provide FREE toast. That was an experience for us new to the team. The bar remains open and we were serving until bed time.

SPF Toast

 

Poetry Swindon Festival 2017

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I have divided my festival review posts into days, sometimes half days and on occasion by events. The programme was action packed and I do not want to overwhelm you!

Photography Credits: Mark Farley (Official Festival photographer), Gram Joel Davies, Jennifer Berry and Richard Jefferies Museum © 2017 Copyright remains with them.

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Poetry Swindon Festival took place in October. It is one of my favourite Poetry Festivals, such a laid back ambience and always an incredible programme. A really caring festival, where you feel part of a poetry family. Lots of people describe it as the friendliest festival.

I have attended the festival before, the first time back in 2014 (my 1st year as a poet), this was my 3rd year and this year I had the opportunity to join the team. I have never chosen to steward at a festival before as I usually like to participate fully. I missed being totally absorbed in the programme and having the freedom to talk to everyone, but it was a wonderful experience and one I know I will repeat and it also enabled me to enjoy a wonderful poetry festival, for which I am grateful.

Poetry Swindon Festival was created from the Swindon Literature Festival. For 5 years they have run an immensely varied and brilliant festival programme.

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This year they had not 2 but 3 Poets in Residence: Tania Hershman, Daljit Nagra and Jacqueline Saphra. Who all committed fully to the role of resident poets. They came to many of the festival events, stepped up to be Workshop Leaders, opened their workshops to additional participants and were available to talk to poets all weekend. Jacqueline was also the official Guest Blogger over on the Festival Chronicle (Louisa Davison).

I arrived on the Wednesday afternoon, the entire team were gathered by the evening at  Artsite in Theatre Square in the Town Centre, ready to dress the Number Nine Gallery space for the opening day. It was a fun evening and Hilda Sheehan provided us all with a beautiful homemade curry for our hard work.

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Preparation included posters displayed in windows and dressing the space, which meant a trip to buy flowers, no shot of the full trolley, which looked beautiful. We prepared the Poetry Pram, set chairs out for the audience and made up all the badges.

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Preparing the Poetry Pram.

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I managed to pop my shoulder after photo bombing these two. We were booked to perform V Formation on the opening Night of the Festival. I was attempting to make the V.

Gram Joel Davies, Stephen Daniels and Nina Lewis V. Press Poets

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It was lovely to meet Gram in real life after being internet (52) poetry friends since 2014.

SPF AM DAY 1

Thursday 5th 

The next morning the festival kicked of at the Number Nine Gallery with Poems Aloud, an open mic event and Jinny Fisher took her Poetry Pram out onto the streets of Swindon.

Poems Aloud

10:00 to 12:00 POEMS ALOUD Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon
‘I celebrate myself, and sing myself’
Walt Whitman
Come and share some favourite poems, or your own work, to launch the Poetry Swindon Festival. Hosted by Hilda Sheehan & Maurice Spillane, it will be a warm and friendly gathering, with The Poetry Pram out and about too.

FREE

Poetry Swindon Festival Programme © 2017

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AAWF Poem Aloud

AAWF Poem Aloud Sarah

 

 

There were many performers and a good sized crowd for the opening event of the festival. Here are just a selection of photos from Poems Aloud.

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Maurice Spillane

AWF PS Poetry Aloud

Matt Holland from Lower Shaw Farm, the original home of Swindon Poetry Festival.

 

He came bearing gifts…

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AWF SP me

SPF nina

Nina Lewis

AAWF Olivia

Olivia Tuck

AAWF STEP

Stephen Daniels

AAWF Tony Hillier

Tony Hillier

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Jonathan Robert Muirhead

AAWF Mark

Mark Farley

AAWF Julia

Julia Webb

AAWF Hannah

Hannah Linden

AAWF Edward Day

Edward Day

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Sam Loveless

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Gram Joel Davies

SWIN PF Robert Stredder

Robert Stredder

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Jinny Fisher

SPF Sarah

Sarah Dixon

Then it was time to take the Poetry Pram out and about.

 

 

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Jinny Fisher: ‘This charming trio of barbers were the first to enjoy poems from the Poetry Pram on the first day of Swindon Poetry Festival, as part of the Poems Aloud event. Thanks to all the up-for-it poets who sent in poems. It was a fun event and unused poems were left in the pram, which was parked in the festival tent, for festival participants to enjoy and replace. So I still have a lot of poems, which I’ll carefully keep, for the next time. I hope there will be a next time! Many thanks to the irrepressible Tony Hillier and Hannah Linden for helping this event shape up into a weirdly fun experience — for all.’

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Lunch was served after all this excitement.

AWF SP Lunch

Followed by Poetry Films with Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery (Elephantfootprints).

14:00 to 15:00 POETRY FILMS Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon
Join us to discover how poetry film can offer a rich and visceral experience. Poetry Film Live editors, Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery will present a dazzling selection of international poetry films.
FREE

It was poetry films on show in the attic rooms of the Richard Jefferies Museum last year, which made me create my own.

It was an interesting event and great to see some examples of work.

AWF SP Poetry Film

AAWF Poetry

Chaucer and Helen were very much part of the Festival this year. They invited selected poets (I was lucky enough to be one of them) and they projected our poems onto the walls of the Museum in the evening. There are not many photographs of this amazing film work but I did find a photo showing a reaction to one of the poems and in the video below there are several shots of their work.

SPF Poetry Wall

 

 

Whilst writing this review I discovered two videos created by the Richard Jefferies Museum – home of Swindon Poetry Festival. The first one gives you all the flavour of the festival and the second one is a record of the hard work the team are putting in on site. Enjoy!

Richard Jeffries Museum Video by Paul Gentleman

Review of July

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Week 1: 

Workshop/National Trust Project

Room 204 is involved in the Croome Court project Adam Speaks. We met Chris Alton, the Lead Artist at a workshop at Writing West Midlands Headquarters in the Custard Factory on Saturday 1st July.

1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young  © 2017 Peter Young

This was an epic 6 hr workshop. Chris is working with 4 groups Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School. It was exciting to know that these workshops will feed Chris’s art.

Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© 2017 Rachel Hill

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. 

© National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

Literature Festival

Sunday saw my 3rd official WPL appearance on the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words. This event had a great turn out and beautiful Sunday morning sunshine for the poetry walk, a gentle stroll across the green park around the Bell Tower in Evesham.

I performed some Evesham poems written especially for the event and enjoyed listening to poetry and prose. It was good to see some people who happened upon our merry group, stay and listen.

It was good to reconnect with Sue Johnson and I booked another event later for this year.

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This festival always has a great programme. They are already booked up for next year.

Radio

On Monday I had my first Radio slot with Tammy Gooding BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester. This was something Maggie Doyle instigated during her WPL tenure (2013/14). It is a tradition picked up by other Laureates and I am happy to continue with it.

I read ‘Gander’ one of the poems written for Evesham Festival of Words. Tammy is amazing at putting you at ease. She was also impressed with an interview which needed no editing! It has been decades since I stepped foot inside a studio. I was nervous, but had such a great time! I am already booked in for August.

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Performances

During the evening I took a guest slot at Licensed to Rhyme, Maggie Doyle & Spoz’s monthly poetry event at the Artrix.

Headlining this month was former WPL Suz Winspear, Claire Walker was the other guest poet and there were a plethora of open mic-ers. It was a fabulous evening.

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And before I start sounding like the Hungry Caterpillar… on Tuesday I took a rest. There were events I would have liked to attend but I was attempting to conserve energy for my Headline slot at Uncorked.

Having pencilled in Ledbury Poetry Festival, Lichfield and Shropshire – we arrive at Thursday.

Headline

I was booked for Uncorked at Bottles a while ago (before WPL), originally scheduled for June, I swapped into July so Charley would have a chance to sell her recently published books. I on the other hand have had my final 5 copies of Fragile Houses for months… this is the way it goes sometimes. I didn’t sell any books but I had a great evening.

Sean Colletti created a masterpiece idea for the introductory sets so instead of the traditional 5 minute teaser from each of the Headline poets we worked together on Sean’s concept of a waiting room & the result was an interesting concoction , especially considering it was unrehearsed.

uncorked-july

Clive Oseman, Jake Scott & Sean Colletti were all wonderful headliners and we had a good range of open floor spots too. Holly has created something magic here, helped by a sensational venue Bottles Wine Bar in Worcester.

Workshop

Up early the next morning (hard to sleep on post-performance adrenaline), I drove to Shrewsbury for a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. I would have paid just to meet these two poets who have been on my radar for a long time. So having the bonus of a workshop was superb.

Unfortunately, I missed the performance the night before as I was at Uncorked. It wasn’t a prerequisite to the workshop though. The workshop was based on epistolary poetry. Which is something I have only tried to a few times. Strange because I used to love writing letters, I had 33 international penfriends by 12 years old. I also started writing to an old, re-united friend during my deepest depression. These letters are now even more special to me as she sadly passed away.

The workshop was brilliant and I got some ideas from it, as well as books. Love their work and cannot wait to spend time with the pages.

I recently (28th June) re-wrote one of my workshop poems and took it to stanza. I will do something with it in the future. I am pleased with the result and know I would never have written it without this workshop.

It was at the Severn Theatre in a huge room, necessary as it was a large group. It was lovely to reconnect with the Shropshire crew. I have been busy lately and it has cut me off from many out of county events. I cannot remember the last time I made it to perform in Birmingham beyond Waterstones events. I know how quickly the poetry scene moves there, so it will be full of people I don’t know – which is exciting.

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I was booked in for my first Cathedral Poets Workshop in Worcester the following morning and an action packed day in Ledbury on the Sunday. Reason and experience told me Mr. G and I needed some time and I needed to rest. So regrettably I cancelled the workshop and now have to wait until October. October is an incredibly busy month with Swindon Poetry Festival, Birmingham Literature Festival and school workshops, so I may not get to the Cathedral again.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 

I always want to attend the complete festival, I dream of pitching up a tent and staying. It is like a massive holiday for poets with a daily celebration of words. However, knowing I could only manage one day this year – I chose a day with an action packed programme.

It was amazing. Read the full 21 Years of Gold

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Week 2

After work I was too tired to get to watch Beyond the Water’s Edge at the Artrix and I am very disappointed to miss it. I also missed the WLF Committee meeting (as I was meant to be at the theatre). Where was I? Asleep! Although having read Week 1, I am not surprised. I was also working on an application and some poetry which I used most of my post-Ledbury adrenaline to fuel.

I booked in WPL work and wrote commissioned poetry for Buildings Talk Hospital Histories (a project I spent 3 weeks working on) and got my set for Chapel Lates organised and set some promo for an event in August.

I gave myself some downtime knowing the end of the week was another hectic schedule.

Performance/ Cheltenham Music Festival

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Chapel Lates in Cheltenham, an amazing night of poetry and prose as part of Cheltenham Music Festival curated by Anna Saunders (Founder Cheltenham Poetry Festival). Read all about it here  Chapel Lates Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1

 

This event clashed with HOWL and Outspoken. It is always the way. It has taken 4 years, but I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I cannot be everywhere at once.

Commission/Performance/Project 

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories

Charley Barnes asked me to participate in a Medical Museum Project at the end of June. We had access to historical archives (photographs) which are not on general display to the public and from these we created a 10 minute set of poetry.

Buildings Talk

It was a great project to be involved in, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Louise Price had the creative vision to intersperse the medical talks with poetry. We performed our poems with the images projected behind us.

The next stage of this project is displaying a selection of our poems alongside archived footage.

Read a full review here Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories


I took a poetry break for a couple of days to work and to reunite with college friends, our two yearly reunions, epic fun! Just imagine Drama students 20 years on!


Performance

I attended Open Poetry which this month was a charity event to raise funds for PIPKA – refugees in Lesvos, Greece.

I performed my refugee poem, now written 4 years ago, this world of ours remains in crisis. Read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/open-poetry-for-pipka/

EC This event was organised by Helen Calcutt and David Calcutt and featured Guest Spots from Christina Thatcher, she read from her recent collection ‘More Than You Were’.  more_than_you_were_large

Week 3

Writing

I needed some time at the desk to complete work from the Spring (another book endorsement) and read material that I am reviewing. I also needed lots of Admin time to complete arrangements for Artsfest (working on this since February), future bookings and promotion of other events.

I had as yet not re-awoken my creative muse – not to give a spoiler… but this was the month!

This was also the last week of work before the summer, my contract had finished and although I wasn’t expecting any work I had to remain on call. This meant several bleary-eyed mornings on the computer, just in case.

I had events and meetings to attend this week which did not involve me performing. A welcome treat/break from pressure and nerves. It also gave me some time to gather energy before the Artsfest Day (22nd).

Readings

Summer Party – Nine Arches Press

I thoroughly enjoyed this event with Jane Commane and…9 arches 3

The readings were superb and the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘PARTY’! Read all about it here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/nine-arches-press-summer-party/

Meetings

The following morning I had an early start and a meeting in Birmingham at the Custard Factory with Jonathan Davidson and the other writers involved in Spark Young Writers groups. As ever it was interesting sharing ideas and great to spend some time with other writers/poets.

Book Launch

In the evening I drove to Cheltenham to finally catch a Book Launch from Angela France. DFH4x-NVoAAzcZ2 I was excited to see the multi-media element that I had heard so much about and to listen to Angela read more from this collection I have been following for the past couple of years. Read the full review of this special evening https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-hill-angela-france-book-launch/

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The launch shook my muse awake and for the first time in months, I was writing. For about two hours straight!

Meetings

I had a meeting with the Events Manager at the Jinney Ring to put plans into action for my September workshop using the Sculpture Trail. It was exciting, my list of 8 pointers were all achieved and it is shaping up to be a great WPL project.

Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

The Sculpture Trail at The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcestershire.

The morning will start with a tour of the trail and some time to write using the sculptures for ekphrastic poetry or initial stimuli. Followed by a writing workshop in the marquee. 
Tea/Coffee and cake is provided as part of the ticket.

There will be opportunities to share writing and participants will be able to send polished work for at exhibition at the Jinney Ring in October.

In addition to all this, there will also be the opportunity to share your work at a reading in November.

For more information please contact me: worcspl[at]gmail.com

Official poster with all booking details out soon. Just awaiting the new trail photograph. 
10:15 meet at the marquee for a 10:30 Tour. 
Tickets £7.00

Festival Artsfest

droitwich artsfest

I need to write a complete blog post for Artsfest – which finishes on the 5th August. I will link back here afterwards.

It was a brilliant day with Poetry in the Square and an evening event Poetry Extravaganza at Park’s Cafe.

Watch Out Worcester! 

watch out worcs

I performed at St. Swithun’s Church at an event created by Suz Winspear. It was a great experience and I loved the building and atmosphere. I will write a blog about this event and link it back to here.

st swithins dancefest

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/NEWs/15437699.Dancing_in_the_streets_of_Worcester/

Week 4

Writing

I spent a few days chained to the desk with writing and admin. I missed Poetry Bites as I was too pushed for time to get to King’s Heath and extremely tired after the busy weekend.

I researched new material and wrote 3 new poems for 42.

Workshop

I attended a workshop led by Angela France in Stratford, I always enjoy these sessions and listening to the work that is created.

Performance

I performed at Drummonds, 42 in the evening. The theme was Curiosities and I had fun exploring this theme. I wrote about an underground library in Seattle, the hanging coffins of China and fossilised skeletons. I left the Cabinet of… for others.

It was a great night, very entertaining with a Guest Host – Kevin Brooke – who did a sterling job, he made it look easy and we all know, it isn’t!

I missed Caffe Grande Slam for another month, as I needed to conserve energy.

ArtsFest Poet in Residence

On 28th July I was at the library in Droitwich as one of the Artists in Residence for Artsfest. I had a smashing morning talking all things poetry and tested out my Poetry Kit idea. This is something I will make more of at another point.

I took this booking as a poet, but decided as I am WPL it was a good opportunity to raise awareness of this role and promote WLF at the same time as DAN – Network.

DAN Lib

It was a lot of fun and has given me ideas for future events. It was the first outing for my new WPL t-shirt and the tablecloth, bought after the workshop on Wednesday.

DAN Lib 2 Children making Poetry Kits – we were competing with the Summer Reading Challenge who had a sock puppet workshop, or as I saw it, we had a captive audience to come and make Poetry Kits for FREE after.

DAN Rhys  © 2017 Rhys Jones

Poetry

I dropped in two poems to be displayed on the table and wall at The Canal Side Studio. There are more events this summer from there. So watch this space.

DAN Lib3

I finished the month with a Stanza meeting, which was a lovely evening and had some useful editing tips for my Dear Sky – Ivory/Figura workshop poem.

July has been exceptional!

 

Buildings Talk – Hospital Histories

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Buildings Talk

Back in June, Charley Barnes extended an invitation to be one of the poets for this project with the Medical Museum. I jumped at the chance as I enjoy writing ekphrastic poetry and working with archived photographs would be a pleasure.

The whole project happened over the space of just three weeks. The Medical Talk was for any interested parties and open to the public. It was attended by retired employees, medical staff, students and even some former patients. The conversations and interactions we had in the evening were wonderfully insightful and interesting. As was the information gained by the two main lectures.

Louise Price, Curator at the George Marshall Medical Museum, was the driving force behind the injection (excuse the pun), of creativity in this programme and I think it broke up the lectures well.

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Charles Hastings Education Centre

The project gave us time to spend with archived footage not available to the general public and consider the stories it connected for us. I spent time choosing my photos. Then I had to cull the selection back further as we had 8-10 minutes to produce and the number of photos I had selected would need at least twice that performance time!

The other poets were Mike Alma, Charley Barnes and Polly Stretton. We all did some research into the hospitals and people/situations depicted in our chosen photographs. We had a meeting with Louise Price before the event where we all talked about the images we had chosen and listened to her knowledge of the archived material. On the night we performed with the images projected behind us.

I spent time composing and editing a series of poems from 7 photos. Several of which pleased me.

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On the evening we had a chance to look around the Medical Museum displays. Some grizzly, some fascinating. I popped in alone initially and was glad of the company of Polly & Mike the second time. I am terribly squeamish!

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The Museum is open Monday to Friday 9-5pm and is free to enter

Louise is hoping to display a selection of our poems from this event soon.

 

RELATED LINK

https://medicalmuseum.org.uk/georgemarshallmuseum/

There are some summer holiday family activities available, starting with this one.

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Chapel Lates Cheltenham

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Chapel arts

I thoroughly enjoyed this event organised by Anna Saunders as part of Cheltenham Music Festival. I liked the idea of starting late, it certainly makes arriving on time easier!

Chapel Arts is an amazing renovated Baptist Chapel. The gallery space has been organised flexibly to allow for various events. chapel-arts-cheltenham-logo

Arriving early gave me a chance to have a good look around.

The space was set up perfectly for Poetry and complete with pews. The tables had fairy lights in vases, there was a bar and plenty of seating.

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There was a good number of people who turned up for this FREE night of poetic entertainment and I daresay for the Headliners: Tyler Keevil and Bohdan Piasecki. I know that Bohdan does not perform as often as anyone would like him too (although he performs internationally & at Festivals), when there is a rare chance to enjoy the man in action it causes quite a stir. Having missed his final Hit the Ode as MC for Apples & Snakes, it was good to catch up.

 

Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1Tyler Keevil started the evening. Tyler Keevil is a novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer from Vancouver, Canada.  He is the author of three award-winning books: FireballThe Drive, and Burrard Inlet.

I know that performing at Spoken Word events falls slightly outside of his comfort zone, but anyone not privy to this would never have guessed. It is hard reading lengthy extracts and flash fiction, I have tried it! It was a captivating set and I could have listened for longer. Check out his website in related links.

There were lots of booked Open Mic-ers, the standard was high (which did not surprise me having attended the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and other events in the town), I know this to be a place of talent. We all missed the memo about it being a music themed evening, had I been on later I may have changed my set. There is one poem in Fragile Houses that I rarely perform which is really about something other than music but is all about music above the sub-text.

However, I had timed my set and knowing there were a number of readers was hesitant to make changes. My final poem fitted the theme and once I realised that none of us had realised there was a theme, I felt better.

Other performers included: Annie Ellis, Belinda Rimmer, John G., Dan Cooper, Neil Richards, Peter McDade, James Cornish in the first half.

I took the photos on my camera until the batteries let me down and will add these when I have uploaded them.

Poems which have stayed with me include Annie’s Young Deer poem, Belinda’s poem about the news story teenage boys protest about No Shorts policy by wearing skirts*, John performed an incredibly moving poem about carers, ‘Bricks’, Dan was unique with a mix between song lyrics and styles ‘I Hate Sunday Nights’ was amusing and entertaining, Neil performed his Grenfell poem and delivered a powerful set, Peter’s translated vocabulary super model poem hit all the funny buttons – he likes playing with language and dialect/ accents, I also enjoyed his ‘Everything is a Festival in Cheltenham’ – made more amusing by the fact that we were part of the Music Festival organised by Anna who is the founder and Leader of the Poetry Festival. James

James Cornish

James completed the first half opening with the confession he had consumed an espresso, red wine and gin to calm his pre-performance nerves AND he still managed to get all the words out! I remember the lines… ‘It’s all gone a bit Spike Milligan… what are you going to do now? Aerobics?’ his work was suitably dark.

After the interval we heard a set from Willis the Poet (a.k.a Rick Sanders) followed by the next Headliner, Bohdan Piasecki.

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Rick Sanders/ Willis the Poet

I always enjoy Rick’s sets and delight in a new audience discovering the humour bound in his collection of notebooks. Especially his fake commissions, an idea I like to remember as being conceived at Wolverhampton Arts Festival in my very presence! His Cheltenham SPAR poem deserves a mention too.

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Bohdan’s set was incredibly moving and sparked lots of ideas that I needed to scribble into my notebook. He is a dynamic performer who plays with language and manages to stretch emotions. Nursing our hearts with his gentle humour between poems. Grounding us once more.

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Bohdan Piasecki

Bohdan Piasecki is a poet from Poland based in Birmingham. A committed performer, he has taken his poems to venues ranging from the upstairs room in an Eastbourne pub to the main stage of the Birmingham Rep, from an underground Tokyo club to a tramway in Paris, from a bookshop in Beijing to an airfield in Germany, from niche podcasts to BBC Radio 3 and 4. In the UK, he regularly features at the country’s most exciting spoken word nights, festivals, and readings. He enjoys the creative chaos of big field festivals just as much as the composed concentration of literary events.

He’s completed three international tours (with stops in over twenty countries and counting); working with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project to engage people living with dementia; devising and delivering Palimpsest City, an ACE-funded live/digital spoken word show; and writing for the Spalding Suite dance/theatre/basketball crossover show produced by Fuel.

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Bohdan founded the first poetry slam in Poland before moving to the UK to get a doctorate in poetry translation theory. He works as a Lead Tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective in London and Bellows Poetry Collective in Birmingham. Bohdan worked as Director of Education on the Spoken Word in Education MA course at Goldsmiths University, and since 2012 has been a regular Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. He also holds the post of Midlands Producer for Apples and Snakes, England’s leading spoken word organisation.

A busy man who has a lot of time for performers.

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Chris Hemmingway

The evening was concluded with a few more open mic-ers: Chris Hemmingway, Fran Smith, Jonny Precious, Rod Griffiths and finished with Chloe the Storyteller outside the chapel in the graveyard.

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Fran Smith

Chris performed his political Gove Cam poem, Fran is a healer and she treated us to some poetry spiritual in nature, Jonny performed a moving poem about a letter sent home from a soldier

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Jonny Precious

and Rod performed an amusing story about a serial killer. The punchline of which recently resurfaced in my head.

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Rod Griffiths

Chloe the Storyteller was dramatic, her story was spooky… chilling in fact, which set me up for the drive home alone!

Thanks, Anna for such a fantastic evening!

x anna

Anna Saunders


RELATED LINKS:

http://www.tylerkeevil.com/

http://www.thechapelarts.com/

* https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jun/22/teenage-boys-wear-skirts-to-school-protest-no-shorts-uniform-policy

Ledbury Poetry Festival – 21 Years of Gold!

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Ledbury Poetry Festival (30th June – 9th July)

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I long for a year where I can book time off work to do Ledbury properly but until I get a little more change in my pockets my approach is: spend time with the Programme, highlight everything of interest, check against diary schedule, re-check total cost, rethink the parts I really wouldn’t want to miss, check schedule again and invariably decide I can only manage 1 day – find the day with the maximum bounty and go!

This year, I kept up to date with events via Social Media and managed the last day. Last days at Poetry Festivals are full of tired people with passion in their hearts, glowing as brightly as it did on Day 1 and the celebratory atmosphere is impossible to miss.

SUNDAY 9th

I set out early and for the first time used the motorway networks (discovered this is a much quicker way of getting there)! I had my programme and itinerary scribbled out. My first stop was a new venue, Muse Cafe and what a gem, strong coffee and a tasty breakfast to boot. The breakfast filled me up all day, I had taken a picnic, not that it was needed as the streets were filled with Food Markets and plenty of choice. The smell was delicious.

Coffee Morning with Malika’s Kitchen – Fantastic Beasts

Malika’s Kitchen is an influential collective of London writers who performed at the Festival on the 8th July. Fantastic Beasts was the theme of this year’s festival. This was a relaxed open mic event hosted by Jill Abram.

I was still up at 1 A.M writing a poem for this event and as I sat there in glorious sunshine listening to a string of fascinating poems I realised that I have plenty of poems to suit the theme, several Mermaid (who hasn’t), one about Udine, The Frog Prince – I could go on. Unfortunately I did not have them with me, having only packed the one freshly inked piece.

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There was a pleasant mix of poetry from an anthology Peter Raynard provided as well. I love this idea, some writers never share their poetry publicly and there are a small percentage of poetry lovers who read it and never write it. Having a dip into book enables these people to take part. Jill encouraged people to use it. I enjoyed hearing Ted Hughes and Emily Dickinson amongst others.

I have not had a chance to upload my photos yet so have borrowed Myfanwy Fox’s instead.  Myfanwy Fox © 2017

20 Minutes with Jack Thacker

Jack is a PHD student who grew up in this rural area. He won the Charles Causeley Prize 2016 (the year after Jo Bell) and completed an incredible set in the Master’s House. I thoroughly enjoyed his reading and his teaching. The link between plough – to plough and verse.

Themetaphor is of plowing, of “turning” from one line to another ( vertere “to turn”) as a plowman does. Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

 

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University of Bristol © 2017

I then had a break – but Ledbury is a festival of poets and by the time I had walked a few metres I bumped into 7 people I knew. I also got to watch some of the events on the High Street – marking the 400th anniversary of the Market House and 21 years of Ledbury.

I got to see Samba Galez you could hear them from the Malika’s Kitchen event!

Before the next event I bumped into Antony & Jo Owen, which meant that I had company at The Master’s House for

20 minutes with Ellie Daghlian, Mel Pettitt, Catherine Choate.

Impressive undergraduate poetry from Bristol University Poetry Centre. It is always refreshing to hear from young voices with old heads and Mel Pettitte’s performance was particularly enthralling.

I then spent some time timing my walk between venues as I had a 10 minute gap between events later on. I caught some of Nick Lovell’s set in the High Street – Ledbury Slam Champion and caught up with Catherine Crosswell.

 

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Before heading off to the exhibitions at Weaver’s Gallery. I was particularly interested in Book Art 17 and hope that Helen Ivory managed to glimpse this when her and Martin made it to Ledbury on Friday. I wish I could have spent more time there immersing myself in this stunning work.

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https://johnnyr66.wordpress.com/exhibitions/

Ledbury used the following image in the festival programme.

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City of Eyes collage © JohnRose 2017

Found images, acrylic background, glue

View more artwork here

I also popped into ‘Fantasy’ the textile art exhibition upstairs in the Gallery. There were some striking pieces adorning the walls and as someone who struggles to sew a hemline, I am in awe of the craftsmanship involved in such endeavours.

 

Market Theatre

It was a particularly hot day in Ledbury and by the time I reached the Market Theatre I looked as if I could make use of a shower for sure!

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Jill Abram has been successfully running Stablemates in London for some time and one day I WILL get there to see it! But when I discovered they were coming to Ledbury this was a factor in making the decision on Sunday being the best day.

It has been great reading all of Jill’s updates from Ledbury and she has certainly been busy!

I bumped into poets in the Foyer, so another event I wasn’t on my own for.

Stablemates Poetry Salon Peepal Tree Press with Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha and Seni Seneviratne.

An incredible hour of poetry from new to me poets.

Roger Robinson, a dub-poet and founder of Malika’s Kitchen. His poetry empowers common man and he tackles extremely real subject matter. I enjoyed his set and the new work he is currently involved with.

Seni Seneviratne performed in the morning at Muse Cafe. Her work is carefully considered and doesn’t step gently around delicate issues of race and identity but rather spears straight into the heart of the matter.

© 2017 Seni Seneviratne. All Rights Reserved.

Nick Makoha is the Director of the Youth Poetry Network. Again a poet tackling hard subjects and inviting us to make better in the world.

It was insightful to have the Q&A with Jill and each poet before they performed. Love the format!

I thoroughly enjoyed my initiation to Stablemates but unfortunately the timings ran over (due to the heat of the venue) and I couldn’t make it to the main event I had planned to attend. I had no idea what the time was. It had already started before Stablemates finished & by the time I made it between venues, was halfway through!

20 Minutes with Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris

The launch of Inheritance the new collaborative pamphlet from Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris – Mother Milk Books. One of the main reasons I had chosen this day to go to Ledbury.

I attempted to listen from the window, (which those of you who know my navigational skills/ lack there of… can now amuse yourselves by imagining me clambering around the outside of the Master’s House trying to find the right window)! There was too much ambient noise. Next, (like Goldilocks), I tried the door, which was too thick to hear through, the wall was a little better.

I understand the policy not to let late comers enter, it is disruptive for the readers who perform right next to the door. But in the previous 20 Minutes with… events I went to people attempted to creep in (with the big old door and straight across a poem), I was upset that I couldn’t do the same. Especially as I had been to a previous event and that was the reason I wasn’t seated in time.

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I managed to get in at the end of the set and buy a copy of the book. Apologise and attempt to explain. I was saddened by this part of my day. I hope to catch other readings, I know they appear at Waterstones later this year and I have an idea in the melting pot too.

Fortunately Suz Winspear (former Worcestershire Poet Laureate) was performing on the High Street with DanceFest and once I realised there was no getting into the Launch I went and caught a moment or two amongst the crowds outside. My own fault perhaps for trying to be everywhere all at once!

I practically ran back to the Market Theatre for my final show of the day, which I not only made in time, but found the Stablemates were still in the foyer – so I got to chat to them briefly and tell them how touched I was by their performances and ideas.

Versopolis: A Celebration of Emerging European Poets

I had heard of this amazing project, 2 years ago, in the first year it ran. The project i a platform that unites 13 International festivals.

http://www.versopolis.com/about-us

I enjoy listening to translated poetry and poems written/read in a different language. This was an enjoyable show in which sometimes the poetry was translated, at other times it was read in the poet’s mother tongue or in English by the poet.

A warm eclectic range of voices and subjects and wonderful to watch Helen Mort in action and discover the writing of Nikolina Andova and Charlotte Van den Broeck, who blew the audience away with the poem about her and her mother. It was good to meet her afterwards – she seemed so unaware of what had happened the other side of the stage. I also got to hear more from Kayo Chingonyi, who I met at Verve Festival in February.

The whole show was amazing and I willed it not to finish. I could have happily sat through another round of words from this group. The poets were Tiziano Fratus (Italy), Charlotte Van den Broeck (Belgium), Nikolina Andova (Macedonia), Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), Yekta (France) and the UK counterparts, Kayo Chingonyi and Helen Mort.

VERSOPOLIS POETS

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/interview-versopolis-poet-helen-mort/

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/interview-versopolis-poet-nikolina-andova-macedonia/

I wanted to stay for Enemies but at this time was still working against poetry deadlines and other writing tasks, which I knew I had to face once home and I was booked for work on Monday. So I missed this show and just read the fabulous reviews. I have since managed to find many of the performances on You Tube. So not all was lost.

It was late by the time I made it home and my writing work kept me at my desk until 1 A.M – which was only possible on post-Ledbury adrenaline!

Until next year!

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RELATED LINKS

Many Podcasts available http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/series/festival-2017/

and films to watch http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/festival-films/

Diverse Verse 2 The Book Launch

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When I discovered Diverse Verse it had already been produced, so when I saw a call for submissions for Diverse Verse 2, I jumped on it. Charity is a big thing for most people and I love giving art for good causes. I like to try to get involved when I can. So earlier this year, I submitted some work to Richard Archer and was delighted to find myself sharing pages with other great poets from the Midlands.

The proceeds raise money for Cancer Research U.K, a cause close to my heart.

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I was delighted when I found out the Book Launch was on 27th May, as I knew I could make it and if the motorways had allowed it – I would have… I was a little late but fortunately after the drag of a 30 m.p.h traffic quilt managed to miss none of the actual reading!

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It was great to see old friends there and put faces to names I knew. Scott and Amy hosted the Launch at Southcart Books and it was lovely to see them in their new shop.

Unfortunately, due to my delayed arrival and forgetting to reserve a copy, the anthology had sold out before I arrived. I have since ordered and received my copy and look forward to indulging a read (sometime in July, I think I am free)!

You can buy a copy here diverse verse 2

It was a fantastic afternoon of poetry, Scott and Amy had laid on a buffet and the interval was time enough to mingle AND buy books.

I never leave the place empty handed but the treat was on them really. I bought a Rupert Brooke collection and they gifted me a historical hardback that I already have ideas on and a canvas ‘Books are my bag’ bag! What a sweet deal that was.

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There were 20 poets reading and a good number of audience too, even some customers lingered.

Elaine Christie and Scott Carter snapped the photos, I have some of Elaine reading but need to get the mobile talking to the internet to upload them. I will add one of Elaine.

All these poets AND MORE are published in Diverse Verse 2, as I listened I noted poems from their sets I was inspired by – buy the book to discover them for yourselves amongst the pages.

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Richard Archer kicked off proceedings, seconds after I sat down. I met Richard at Permission to Speak but also know him from David Calcutt’s Arboretum Poetry events. His poetry is sometimes hard-hitting, powerful, social commentary and sometimes full out fun. He is the Chairman of Walsall Poetry Society and a truly supportive advocate of poetry in the Midlands.

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Paul Elwell runs a writing workshop group that I recently became involved with, it was good to meet him and put a face to the name. On the back of what he heard from short set and the fact that I had mentioned Worcester, he extended the invite – funny how the universe works like that, isn’t it? I particularly enjoyed his very clever Latin Poem.

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I know Carole Howard from David Calcutt’s Arboretum poetry events. I enjoyed hearing her poem about secrets, which she has performed before at the Arboretum.

 

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Rick Saunders delighted us with his brilliant poem, ‘Goldilocks’. I also enjoyed ‘Cannabis Anarchist’, which I had heard before. Rick is everywhere (I have passed on the ubiquitous mantle to him), but I will never tire of hearing his poems, they make me smile. Rick burst onto the scene late 2016 and I met him at Permission to Speak, where he cut his teeth on spoken word (well, it can be sharp), where he created Willis the Poet – and the story behind that is heartwarming!

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Ian Henery is a poet I have not seen for a while. I liked his poem ‘Walsall Bus Driver’s Prayer’.

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Al Lane, is a new poet to me. I thoroughly enjoyed his set. His nature poem was great and the Disappointment of Parenting was a real treat too.

sc dv9 Samatee read her poem about Mauritius and the Dodo. It was great to see her delight in having poems published. I met Samatee at Stirchley Speaks and have watched her become more confident with her writing and sharing of work. She is a regular at Spoken Trend now too.

sc dv7 Janet Jenkins gave us a wonderful set, I particularly liked her Umbrella poem. I first met Janet properly when I started the Caldmore Garden workshops with David Calcutt. Our paths had passed prior to this and our poetry can be found in the same collections.

 

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Scarlett Ward is a poet I do not know, her work is delicately laced but inside are iron fast ideas. Her poem ‘Wordless’ is incredible. Moving. She reminded me what it was to be young once. The concentrated force of emotions we carry.

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Jon Jack Neil was a poet I discovered just 5 days before in Lichfield, at Poetry Alight. I enjoyed hearing more from him. Particularly his poem ‘The World and His Wife’.

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Amanda Glover is another poet I know through Open Poetry at the Arboretum, her bus poem was great to listen to.

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Jan Hedger had travelled some distance to be at the launch with her sister, both of whom grew up around the area. Jan is a new to me poet and I enjoyed her set. She writes lots about animals (so I knew she would enjoy Elaine’s work). I enjoyed the poem exploring her Birmingham/West Midland roots.

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Ian Ward is someone I have known on the poetry circuit since 2014, we are often at the same events. He shared some poems he performed at Poetry Alight, it was good to hear them a second time. Poets should worry less about repeating their work. I particularly enjoyed his poem ‘What is a Map?’

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Steve Harrison is a poet I met in 2014 somewhere over Shropshire way, I am delighted that he ventures across to share his poems in Birmingham and it is always a pleasure to watch his performance. An entertaining and well written poem is guaranteed – although he does serious too. I enjoyed his Classified Ad poem, which I had heard but not for a while and I live in hope of a day when we can be found in the classified ads amongst the plumbers.

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Ian Davies is a poet I have seen in Walsall before, I enjoyed his poem ‘Gwyn Ap Nudd’. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him in the interval, next time.

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Pauline Faulkner had travelled up to support her sister (Jan) and is not a poet I know. She shared a poem about the Mason’s yard which I enjoyed.

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Calvin Allen is a poet I do not know, he had great delivery and his poem ‘Black Friday’ and his Newsreader poems were highlights of his set. I shall look out for him again in the future.

Elaine Christie wowed the audience with ‘The Lion King’ a brilliant poem of us concerning animal welfare and it packs punches. I met Elaine at the end of 2013 and her poetry speaks to the heart, she has a lot of love for the animal kingdom and it was simply a pleasure to see her again. I have been a little absent from the Birmingham scene recently.

18671007_10156279244119741_170669724986059691_n Well done, Richard for a great Book Launch.

RELATED LINKS:

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/diverse-verse-2-is-launched-and-ready-to-buy/

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/no-not-the-one-in-poland/

Poetry Ballroom

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An exquisite event, the brainchild of the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear, who wanted to combine poetry with other agencies. She teamed up with DanceFest Worcester and a select group of poets to produce ‘Poetry Ballroom’.

In ancient times, the arts were as one – the words the bards created and recited merged with music, and the active expression of the human body gave them expression and physical form . . . .

As the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear wants to bring artists back together once again.

Dance and Poetry now seem like distant art forms, but both can speak to one another . . . .dancers and poets can interact . . . . word and dance can come together to create something new . . . .

Welcome to the Poetry Ballroom!

It was an incredible evening and I was delighted to be involved. As an ex-dancer it gave me so much joy to watch the choreography and to write on the theme of dance. I have a body of work associated with dance/dancers already but also set to write new poems for the event.

Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear, has brought together Dancefest and Worcestershire LitFest to create a very special evening of poetry and dance.

Local poets Polly Stretton, Kevin Brooke, Holly Magill, Nina Lewis, alongside London-based Math Jones, will be joined by over 30 dancers of all ages from Dancefest’s Chance to Dance Company, DFA (Dancefest Adults) and Elevate Junior Youth Dance Company, who have created new dances inspired by poems.

Suz will be compering the evening and sharing some of the poems she’s written during her time as the county’s Poet Laureate. DanceFest © 2017

Poetry Ballroom

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/02/25/welcome-to-the-poetry-ballroom/

It was the sort of evening which totally absorbs you. From start to finish.

Suz had the idea of poets performing from different parts of the venue, the dancers were delighted to discover that the poetry was dance related and talking to members of DanceFest afterwards, I know they enjoyed the show as much as we did.

The space inside the Angel Centre, is gorgeous, I can see why it is home to dance. The lighting was magical, fairy-lights and blackout curtains contained the large audience in an other worldly place for the night. A night, I for one, did not want to end. It was spectacular.

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Suz opened the event,

pb followed by Polly Stretton, who brought some instrumental percussion to proceedings

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before Elevate Junior Dance Company took to the floor to perform The Ballroom of Squid. The inspiration behind this dance, (choreographed by Janene Wyatt & Company), came from a poem written by Suz Winspear, which she performed alongside the dancers.

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Kevin Brooke was the next poet to perform, high up on the balcony. Followed by the most beautiful dance ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ performed by DFA (DanceFest Adults) who equalled professional companies in there execution of the awe inspiring choreography (Clare Wood). A dance based on a Maya Angelou poem is a sure fire winner in my book and I was mesmerised.

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It was incredibly moving, so much so I was not really emotionally ready to take to the floor for my spot.

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I performed The Fourth wall – a poem I wrote back in 2013, one of the first poems in my book when I started back along the poetry road. It explores the feelings of an ex-dancer watching dance, exactly how I felt after watching the DFA Company.

2/4, 3/4, 4/4 – a poem I wrote especially for the Ballroom event explores 8 different ballroom styles.

Underwater Gothic – a poem I had written a month or so before, before I heard Suz perform The Ballroom of Squid, at 42 to tease us prior to the Poetry Ballroom event. It was inspired by nature films and is based under the sea, much the same as Elevate’s dance.

I completed my set with Tango – a poem I have written for an upcoming poetry anthology as a tribute to Leonard Cohen.

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I thoroughly enjoyed performing, despite the nerves and cramp in my calf muscle, which was ironic as all I wanted to be able to do was dance once more.

After the interval we were treated to Math Jones’ dynamic, theatrical performance. He made almost as much use of the space as the dancers!

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Followed by Holly McGill who performed wonderfully. Then the final dance treat Ghost of Castle Street From Sonnet to Sestina. This was performed by the Chance to Dance Company (choreographed by Marie Oldaker with the dancers). It was inspired by a poem of the same title written by Stephen Murphy in 2004 about the then-deserted Worcester Royal Infirmary.

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This captivating dance incorporated sound and word as fragments of communication. Copies of the poem and definitions of the form were handed out along with the programme.

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Finally Suz completed this enchanting evening with a poem and farewell.

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With kind permission from DanceFest/ Worcester LitFest

Photography Clare Wood/DanceFest © 2017


The poets

Polly Stretton

Polly follows many writerly pursuits in her hometown of Worcester. Her poetry has been displayed at Croome Court and in many anthologies. She’s a coordinator and judge of various writing competitions and works with Black Pear Press, Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, and OU Poetry Society. Polly’s writing includes a collection of poetry, a series of poems about the tragic young poet Thomas Chatterton, and a pamphlet of children’s poetry. She’ll go into ecstasies about her puppy: Mabel.

Nina Lewis

Nina Lewis has poetry published in anthologies and magazines, her début pamphlet Fragile Houses is published by V. Press. Nina’s poetry has featured in an Art Installation, on Poetry Trails and at a Dance Festival. In 2014 she was commissioned to perform at Birmingham Literature Festival. She organises an annual writing retreat at https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com

Holly Magill

Holly Magill is from Worcestershire. She has a BA in Creative Writing from University Of Birmingham and has had poems in various publications, including Clear Poetry, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Emma Press’ anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse. She is fond of cats and strong tea above most things.

Kevin Brooke

Kevin writes a bit of poetry and is also known to try out a few steps of ballroom. Currently studying Creative Writing and English Literature at the University of Worcester, he is hoping to increase his repertoire in both. A writer of children’s fiction, his YA novel Jimmy Cricket was published by Black Pear Press in 2014 

Math Jones 

Math Jones has been sweet on his pins since childhood, He’s cut many a caper, promenaded and do-ci-do’ed, waltzed and polka’ed, stamped heels in traditional Indian, Galliarded, and Cell-block Tango’ed. Now, of course, he’s more likely to be dancing with his eyes.

dancefes

The dancers

Dancefest Elevate Junior Youth Dance Company

A company for Herefordshire-based creative dancers aged 10 to 13 to develop creative and technical skills, with performance opportunities throughout the year. Auditions to join the company take place on Monday 17 July at Hereford College of Arts.

Chance to Dance Company

Dancefest’s Chance to Dance Company is for experienced dancers aged 50 and over, who like to create, experiment and have a passion to perform.

DFA (Dancefest Adults)

DFA is for experienced dancers with a sense of adventure who enjoy the creative process and want to perform in outdoor and unusual spaces.

The choreographers

Janene Wyatt

Janene has been leading contemporary and creative dance classes across Herefordshire over the past 14 years, working extensively with children, young people and adults of all ages and abilities in community settings and in education. Janene’s main passion and focus is the development and teaching of dance for children and young people [more]

Marie Oldaker

Marie is a freelance choreographer, creative dance practitioner and arts project coordinator with over twenty five years’ experience working in community and education contexts. Her artistic focus is predominantly about working creatively with local communities and their histories, across generations, inclusively and to promote health [more]

Clare Wood

Clare has worked for Dancefest for 14 years devising and delivering dance projects and teaching regular classes. In her various roles at Dancefest Clare has led work for all ages and abilities including GCSE Dance, GP referred adults, Parents and Wobblers, visually impaired and learning disabled participants [more] 

DanceFest © 2017

The Poetry Ballroom took place on April 2nd, I wanted access to the photography before I posted and by then it was May and I was wrapped up in working on our show 30-40-60 for Worcester LitFest.

I wish I had had time to complete the review months ago when this wondrous night was crystal clear but hopefully I have captured the essence of this spellbinding evening of pleasure.