Category Archives: SpeakEasy

SpeakEasy Worcester With Ben Banyard

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Back in 2014 I was invited by Jo Bell to take part in her 52 project – a poem for a week, for a year. Aside from being a marvellous project to be involved in (my publishing record is about 50/50 rejection/acceptance… every 52 poem I have submitted carries a 100% success rate), it was a year where over 500 poets formed friendships and connections.

It gave many people the confidence to call themselves poets and saw established poets (and famous ones) working alongside emerging newbies and early career poets. It was a medley of talent and made us all READ a lot of good poetry, poetry that differed to the our tastes and both those factors are heavily recommended for any writer! It was also a great platform for learning how to edit and critique. I think we all improved over the 12 months. Certainly lots of collections followed.

Along the way I have made virtual friends with a lot of the poets involved in 52 and July’s SpeakEasy featured one of these poets. Ben Banyard – who says 52 was the turning point for him taking his writing seriously.

I was incredibly excited to meet him and hear his work.

Back in early 2016 Ben’s first pamphlet ‘Communing’ was published by Indigo Dreams Press (IDP).

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Find out more and buy a copy here.

Fast forward 2 years and Ben’s first full collection ‘We Are All Lucky’ is published by IDP.

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More information can be found here. This is the collection we enjoyed in his Headline set.

As if all that was not exciting enough – SpeakEasy was in a new venue – Wayland’s Yard – a lovely Coffee Shop (although it is really more than that), near the station, handy for visiting poets/audience.

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To top it off we also had the WLF Slam Winners for Poetry and Flash Fiction primed to perform.

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The first post-festival (WLF) SpeakEasy is always brilliant. Suz Winspear was our MC for the evening,  this was her first night back in that role, it has since been announced that Charley Barnes is stepping down from hosting.

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© Nina Lewis

For the first time EVER we were outside and it was a warm summer evening, the outside of Wayland’s was dressed for summer (well actually, a wedding) and it was perfect! Pom poms, fairy lights and bunting!

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© Nina Lewis

The Slam Winners were both presented with their awards and then I kicked off the evening with a 6 minute set.

Photographs © Charley Barnes WLF.

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Kevin Brooke Flash Fiction Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.

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Io Osborn Poetry Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.

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Kevin Brooke

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Claire Walker

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Rod Griffiths

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© Nina Lewis

Charley Barnes performed from her new pamphlet ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’, published by V. Press.

 

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Daniel Burton – who launched his debut collection last Saturday in Worcester and is now taking it on a mini tour of Loughborough, Leicester & Coventry.

dark nights © Daniel Burton

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After an interval Chloe Clarke kicked off the second half.

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Chloe Clarke (former Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate)

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Kathy Gee

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Io (Cass) Osborn – Slam Champ Poet

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SpeakEasy over the past few years has had lots of newcomers, which is great for an established Poetry Night, here’s Michael Wheatley.

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James Burr

Then Ben Banyard Headlined.

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© Kathy Gee

Ben’s poetry was life-affirming and I loved a lot of his work. ‘Pineapple as a metaphor for life’ was a particular favourite of mine. It was a joy to hear his set.

‘What strikes me most about Banyard’s poems is his affection for humanity, grounded by his wry humour. His imagination allows him to empathise with people he encounters. He has the gift of finding pleasure in the everyday, in all its seediness and tawdry beauty. He has the true poet’s gift of noticing details others miss.’
Angela Topping

‘Ben Banyard writes accessible poems about the real world, with its triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies. I like them for their humanity and warmth, for their sense of humour, and for the way Banyard often pins down just the right details to bring a piece vividly to life. This is an enjoyable collection.’
Geoff Hattersley

‘There is an impressive range here and, whether writing about childhood memories, being a father, cataracts, spit hoods or Birmingham, this poet displays a sureness of touch and an ability to precisely capture a vanished world or the exact tone of a voice. Ben Banyard is a poet with a sharp-eyed yet affectionate view of the world. I very much enjoyed this confident and varied collection.’
Carole Bromley

SpeakEasy was a well attended event with plenty of audience members as well as performers and an enchanting one at that!

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© Nina Lewis

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018 Book Your Tickets NOW!

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The end of my Laureateship is 2 days away which means it must be time for the Launch of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018!

Poet Laureate

We are just 4 days away from the Launch of WLF 2018 and this year there is a great programme of events, tickets can be booked online and I urge you to attend as many events as you can, fill your boots with words!

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This is the 8th Year for the team and a decision was made to reduce the number of festival events on offer. Now, for many festivals this would be bad news but the quality of these evening events (note: new DAYTIME slot for the Launch) mean that there is still something for everyone and plenty on offer.

It also means the WLF Team and Festival Volunteers will not suffer burn out after hosting a packed week of events. It is only fair they get to enjoy the festival too. 


Sunday 10th 

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Monday 11th 

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After the wild success of this event in our 2017 festival we

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February Review 2018

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Week 1: 

I started the month with my editing hat on. Submissions closed for Contour (digital WPL magazine), the 2nd Issue – ‘Love’, scheduled for release 4 months after the 1st Issue ‘Place’. My plan was to have 3 to 4 magazines during my tenure. I will successfully manage that, there is a Special Edition coming in April for the ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ Project and then in June on the day I hang up my Laureate crown and watch the new Laureateship launch, I will release the final issue.

It has been a steep and brilliant learning curve and a real pleasure. It has been a great opportunity to discover talented poets on a National and International level too.

Whatever else I think, I can rest soundly knowing that I promoted poetry and offered abundant opportunities for writing during my year. I have 3 months (I like to say a quarter of a year because it sounds longer) left, but already the competition is open to find the next Laureate and the feelings of being bereft are already settling. I shall find ways of dealing with this. Such as embarking on International Poetry Adventures and writing my first collection. But I am sure it will feel a little strange.

I also spent an incredible amount of time on the ATOTC project, which again has been a huge bite to chew, but I have loved every minute. It has certainly taught me a thing or two. The Response poems are coming in and it is wonderful to read the interpretations of the Call poems. I am slightly worried that the whole project may total over 200 pages… certainly enough reading material to keep you busy on a rainy day!

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ATOTC is my main WPL project and it has certainly been the biggest. I am incredibly excited by the next stages of the project and the plans I have for it beyond that. It is going to be magnificent!

I edited some poems which had been waiting patiently in the wings and finally started working on my own response poem for ATOTC. I wanted to get it cast to paper before the weekend as I have a chance to edit it.

Things are intentionally quiet on the performance front with most of my attention set for Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival in Birmingham, mid-February. Other than this I am busy with desk tasks and workshop preparation.

This week I prepared for a meeting for a Gifted and Talented Workshop I am doing, I am excited as it involves multiple local schools.

I also prepared for my final session/workshop at Rugby Library as the Reader in Residence.

I attended an editing group at the weekend where my ATOTC was fine tuned and is now a strong pastiche of Linda Warren’s poem. Look out for the Special Edition Contour in April to read our Call & Response poems.

I took a booking for National Poetry Day. (4th Oct.) after which I will be heading off to Swindon Poetry Festival.

 

Week 2

A very busy start to the week editing Issue 2 of Contour Magazine, working out the running order and formatting. It took an inane amount of time (roughly 3 days), lots of difficulties on the technical side of desktop publishing – but the results were worth it.

 

I had a meeting regarding school workshops booked for March, which was fabulous. I am very excited about this workshop.

bromsgrove school theatre Andrew Haines © 2017

The following day I drove to Rugby Library for my final Reader in Residence workshop. It was a small group but a wonderful morning and those in attendance enjoyed it.

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I am writing a Guest Blog Review for the library and will link it back to AWF. My Residency finishes in March and I hoping for one last trip to the library for something special, more on that soon.

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I planned my Suffragette Workshop for Saturday at The Hive, started work organising the poetry events for the summer ArtsFest in Droitwich, sent emails to successful contributors of Contour and took a booking for Brum Stanza.

I also started prep for Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival (15-18th Feb.). This year I am the Official Festival Blogger, last year I blogged about most of the events and attended pretty much the entire festival (which is no mean feat – with a packed 2 day weekend programme, workshops and events on the preceding evenings), worth the exhaustion though and I also wrote a full review for Sabotage Reviews. This year, I have arranged to write the review for them again and have booked my workshops (one of which I won by coming 2nd in the Haiku Slam at Grizzly Pear) and have my new Kindle Bluetooth Keyboard Case (Christmas present) all ready. Look out for lots of updates, I shall be sharing from the Verve official site.

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Thursday I went to SpeakEasy which was Headlined by the wonderful Jenna Clake and I enjoyed her set from Fortune Cookie, which won the 2016 Melita Hume Prize for Poetry . It was a vibrant evening of poetry and even though I was shattered, I had a great night. I shared a couple of city poems and it was good to catch up with Jenna before Verve.

JENNA SE Watch out for an Interview with Jenna Clake in the Contour Issue 4 (June).

You can buy a copy of this award winning debut collection published by Eyewear here.

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Friday it snowed (which is as exciting as anything writing related), I was working in a school on the hills and was slightly concerned about getting home, but it had melted by then!

I also had Stanza where I took my Contour Love Poem for some editing treatment, it was a lovely evening, filled with poetry and critique. It was good to reconnect, I missed our December meeting due to being too tired after work and January from ill health. It was good to be back. Also a new exciting opportunity was discussed.

Saturday was a busy writing day, I had my WWM group in the morning, who used the Royal Society of Photography Science exhibition to inspire Science Fiction writing.

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This was followed by my Suffragette Workshop in The Hive, Worcester. The workshop was attended by 11 people and I was happy to see a mix of friends, strangers & people who have followed my WPL projects online. It was an informal, whistle stop creative session of just an hour (which worked particularly well for those who left partners in the Hive’s cafe). It was fun and I have already started to receive work for the anthology.

The exhibition runs until 23rd February and can be found on Level 2.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/open-submission-suffragette-poetry-exhibition-workshop-the-hive/

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Mr G. and I went to see Cloudbusting (Kate Bush Tribute band) again, the 4th time I think, this time they had a full stage with Media show, which we had not seen before! The next day I was busy editing Contour Magazine – YES! For the WHOLE day!

 

Week 3

My first full writing day in over 2 weeks and I planned a whole list of writing tasks (none of which were actual writing)… however, I spent another whole day on the magazine. It was finally live by the evening.

With a reach of over 600 readers already (in less than 24 hours). Issue 2 has a fine collection of love poetry, a load of Interviews with Pete The Temp, Jeff Cottrill, Amy Rainbow and Sharon Carr and a list of Top Poems voted by the public and is well worth a read.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/contour-issue-2-love/

Please share the link.

Contour Issue 2

I also booked my flights to Australia – where I am an International Guest Poet at the Festival in Perth (August), this made it very real! I also shared this news, which I have been sitting on since November.

I shared the next stage of the Suffragettes Poetry Project with workshop attendees and attended a Worcester LitFest Committee Meeting. There have been many changes to the team since I took up the Poet Laureate post, it was an agenda packed evening. It also helped me finalise plans for World Poetry Day (21st March) my official Laureate remit event. It should be great.

I have since worked on publicity and marketing but as ever with organisation, need to wait for one confirmation before I can go live!

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I have been busy working through Response Poems (ATOTC), dreading the proofing stage with over 40 poets… but we have a good stock of coffee and I plan to use Half Term to get the majority ready.

I received my copy of mind anth a wonderful book, brainchild of Isabelle Kenyon. I have yet to read it in full. I have dipped in. A great collection of poems and funds raised with be donated to MIND – Mental Health Charity. I will be writing a full blog post soon to promote this project.

I had my BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio Interview with Tammy Gooding and this month it was a slightly extended recording due to us discussing love poetry and the work of Pablo Neruda! It was fun and I shared the love poem recently published in Contour.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p05vtpj5

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All performers confirmed World Poetry Day & marketing & promotion was set to GO!

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The deadline for ATOTC response poetry was 15th February & knowing what a huge undertaking it is the proof copies are already leaving my inbox… about 10% proofed & approved in 2 days.

I finished my 3rd book endorsement and am very excited to read a bound copy of this collection soon.

And then there was Verve!

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Verve Poetry Festival (with links to my official blogs)

I spent 5 glorious hours in Waterstones, 15th Feb. then 6 hours writing & editing the official blog reviews.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/verve-ready/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/verve-day-1/

After very few hours sleep I was back at the Festival on Friday night

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/verve-day-2-friday-16th/

And then spent my entire weekend there.

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Since this wonderful festival full of verve… I have been busy writing the official blog reviews which are being drip fed onto the official blog.

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Read more of them here

Week 4 

Started with jet lag, which is the only way to describe the post festival haze of Verve. Wise to this, having attended the full programme last year too – I made sure the diary was empty and the bed was full! I slept, I ate my first meal for 5 days and I hit the desk.

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Writing Verve Reviews, sending proofs for ATOTC, working on bids, sent promo for an event I am part of at the end of end of April, Bohemian Voices organised by Steve Soden and slept some more!

Fortunately it was half term this week so I didn’t have to juggle work into the equation. I mainly worked on proof copy for ATOTC Special Edition Contour magazine and had meetings.

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Starting with Room 204, one of the main attractions is the 1 to 1 mentoring with Jonathan Davidson. It was a productive and useful meeting and I have come away with a page of tasks to incorporate into my work and gold-dust that I needed to acknowledge.

I met with Carolyn Baldwin at the Jinney Ring to finalise the exhibition of our sculpture trail poems from the workshop in September. The poems will be on display in the restaurant for the whole of April. Wonderful news AND even better news for me I have secured future Sculpture Trail workshops. So there will be a new one in September! Carolyn also sent me home with a generous portion of cake! Always a bonus – perfect meeting requirements I would suggest.

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On Thursday I met with Stephen Evans, one of the DAN artists involved in the Hanbury Hall event. My poem has been displayed alongside his artwork in exhibitions in January and now this month too, so far it has been part of Maltstones Exhibition, an exhibition in the Library and now in Parks Cafe.

Stephen showed me a family album from WW2 at the reading event for Hanbury Hall Poets back in November. I used it as primary source inspiration and managed to write 4 poems or so but it is a precious object and I feel much happier now he has it back.

Thursday Night I went to support Claire Walker who was headlining at The Caffe Grande Slam in Dudley. Ian Glass and I found ourselves unwittingly signed up for the slam. I don’t Slam.

It was a fun night and a great little cafe to be in on a cold night. Ian smashed the slam and won! He goes back in April to perform a 10 minute set.

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He also won the Xylophone of Mirth, but as he had driven us all to Dudley he wasn’t able to play it all the way home!

Jean Atkin was facilitating a workshop at the Bishop Castle Artsfest that I had hoped to attend, but our boiler is broken and I had to be home for the engineer. I spent most of the day at the desk writing for Verve, the boiler is still broken.

On Saturday I had a workshop with Angela France, it was a great session and I managed at least one poem and have a page of potential other poems.

On Sunday, whilst writing a poem for a Festival Anthology (more on this soon), I unearthed another line of writing I want to pursue, I have 3 pages of notes to return to at a quieter time (perhaps 2019). The exciting element is they balance something I am already working on.

The Extra Days

On Monday (after turning up for work and discovering I was a day early) I went home and wrote copy for a Worcester News Article promoting the Poet Laureate competition. Jess Charles jumped on it and it was live by the afternoon.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/3769/

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I also worked on my first ever Grants application and booked a workshop in May.

Tuesday work was cancelled, it started to snow (we have no working boiler) and I spent 14 hours completing my application. 14 hours. A steep learning curve – on evaluation I will give myself a month to complete the forms next time!

I took on a temporary teaching position for a fortnight (just in time for World Book Day) and drove in the snow! I went to see the Royal Ballet Live Screening of The Winter’s Tale (one of my favourite Shakespeare plays), a present from Mr. G’s mum for Christmas. It was amazing!

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And a special way to end the month.

 

 

 

September Review

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This month seems to have disappeared in a flash, looking at events listings it is no wonder. The thing I have been coming to terms with this month is missing events either because of clashing dates or lack of energy/needing some gaps in my schedule. It is something every artist has to overcome at some point, just wishing there was a fast cure. If I am really busy I tend not to look at the events calendars on social media as I know they will show places I want to be. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

Writing diary My 2014 Poetry Diary

The desk In Tray is filled with admin tasks I need to take a firm hold over, the house needs sorting out (still), the diary is filling up and my weekly schedule is brimming. The mortgage payments are coming from savings as there is no paid work this early in the term, I have been lucky in recent years to have had work by now. My agent is on secondment, so I keep calling the office in vague hope… it will come but probably when I am at Swindon Poetry Festival. Perhaps it is a godsend as there is no way I could manage the poetry workload and a day job!

I have decided not to worry, repeat the mantra every freelancer knows, ‘money will come’ and just get stuck into my projects and plans.

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This month planning meetings were initiated in Warwick & Rugby for my work with Warwickshire Libraries – Reader in Residence through WMRN. I was so excited when Roz Goddard approached me to apply in the summer. I spent a long time on the application and just kept my fingers crossed for a successful bid. I follow in some mighty footsteps created by Readers in Residence: Jean Atkin, Andy Killeen (2014) and Deborah Alma (2015).

Since August I have completed hours of research and two planning meetings with library staff in Warwick and Rugby. Now I have the schedule and an idea of what is required for my residency which will officially start in November and run until March.

 

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I also facilitated my first adult workshops in over 12 years. Workshops are something I have wanted to get back into for a long time. I just needed the springboard and it takes years to construct a new one! It was an absolute delight and feedback has been positive. I started planning my WPL workshops back in June and met up with the venues Event Manager back in July. The Sculpture Trail (which was the base stimuli for my Poetry Workshop) arrived on site late August and was open to the public on the 25th August. I went to the grand opening at the Jinney Ring and took plenty of notes and some photos. I then busily planned the workshop and tested the material out on myself.

This month I was contacted by several people for commissioned work and booked performances.

Week 1:

There were only 3 days in this week. I had hoped to make it across to Birmingham for Case Bailey’s Book Launch (he crowd funded this venture earlier in the year) and also to get back to Walsall for ‘Yes We Cant’* to see Gerry Potter who I discovered for the first time in January at Wolverhampton Arts Festival. Neither plan worked as an eventful life weekend meant I couldn’t manage the travel.

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*as in brick.

Week 2:

Term started back (without me) but I started back the same day. I added a second date to the Jinney Ring Poetry Workshops, tickets for the first one SOLD OUT by the end of August.

I started to organise INKSPILL (my online writing retreat) hosted on this blog for FREE in October.

I had my first WMRN Reader in Residence meeting in Warwick with a team of Librarians to plan what it might look like.

I went back across to Coventry in the evening for a night at the Inspire Cafe and Antony Owen’s book launch of The Nagasaki Elder.

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The following morning I did my first talk as a Poet. This was part of the Second Friday Story Series facilitated by Sue Johnson at Evesham Library. This opportunity was booked back in July and it was a good morning. There are now more plans afoot for a Evesham Festival of Words Fringe Event. The other speakers were Tom Bryson, a local Crime Writer and Ashleigh Jayes.

I spent the past few weeks organising a Poetry Event for the Salt Festival. A group of poets joined me at Canal Side Studios in the Square to perform poems. This year the festival moved location to Vine’s Park, the rain was torrential and there was even a thunderstorm, the whole event was set up with foot passers in mind and there weren’t many there – however, some stayed for a while and a few poets came to watch/support us. We all had fun.

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Week 3:

Started with food poisoning! I am not used to feeling ill now I no longer work a stressful 80 hour week. Staying under a blanket and feeling sorry for myself, watching trashy TV and not reaching my desk was quite hard. I also missed Licensed to Rhyme and a plethora of poets I hadn’t seen in ages.

I was approached to be part of a new commission. A current collaboration between a composer and a visual artist. how could I resist? It may also lead to more workshop work, which would be superb.

Credo Liz Johnson © 2017

I met with the Chair of the International Twin Town Committee to discuss my European Poetry Project. It is wonderful to have these WPL ideas met with so much enthusiasm.

I had my third radio slot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding and read my new hometown poem ‘Not on the High Street’.

In the evening, I headlined a split set at Permission to Speak, back in it’s home venue with shiny new owners and a gorgeous new stage. Claptrap is a perfect venue for all us performers. It was lovely to be reunited with everyone.

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Three things in one day meant I was certainly ready to sleep. The following day I took more bookings and in the evening I headlined as WPL at SpeakEasy. It truly was a night of passion, emotion and brilliant performers. It was noted that all four Flash Fiction Slam Champions were in the same room at the same time! It was great to see Andrew Owens again. I have missed him loads, as has everybody else. Kieran Davis gifted me a belated congratulations present – a book I cannot wait to get stuck into!

I spent Friday missing submission deadlines, planning and writing.

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The weekend saw the start of a new term and a new group for Spark Young Writers – Writing West Midlands in Worcester at The Hive. Emails sent to workshop participants and last minute flapping (packing) for the Sculpture Trail Workshop.

Week 4: 

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I facilitated my first adult workshop in 12 years at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre – Sculpture & Poetry Workshop, it was a great success and now I wait in anticipation of finished poems which we plan to exhibit on site at the restaurant in November.

I researched and wrote some WW1 poetry for a commission, I have been working away on these since August, mainly reading and research. Finally the words presented themselves and I managed to write three poems for this project.

I spent time with the Contour submission pile. Contour is an online digital magazine for my tenure as Worcestershire Poet Laureate. The first issue (out next month) deals with PLACE as a theme, Worcestershire to be exact.

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I had my 2nd WMRN Reader-in-Residence meeting and the first one on site at Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library. It was a productive meeting and now I have my schedule and remit finalised for this role. I am currently spending hours at the desk researching and preparing, I will write a Guest Blog soon and reblog it here on AWF and then I start officially at the Library in November. This residency runs until March 2018 and is something I am very much looking forward to.

I finished writing poetry for Credo – Creative Synergy – the project/performance I was asked to contribute poetry to at the end of the month.

The ‘Adam Speaks’ NT project (which completes on the 25th November) took another twist and I am busy writing for that.

We had a fabulous Poetry Society Stanza meeting and I finished the week with a Room 204 Performance event at Edmunds Brewhouse, Birmingham. A catch up with family and a reunion with college friends.

Week 5:

Mr G and I went to see the Black Angels. A much anticipated gig, the tickets have been pinned to the fridge for months. It has been years since we last saw them.

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I performed as part of a pre-event for Birmingham Literature Festival at Waterstones. Literary Allsorts – A Room 204 showcase.

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Then it was Christmas… I mean National Poetry Day. I blogged a lot, wrote some poems in the local library and went to support Voices of 1919.

The performance of this book by actors was moving and superb.

I performed in Credo-Creative Synergy, an event Liz Johnson asked me to be part of earlier this month back at Elmslie House, Malvern the night after Voices of 1919. This was an incredible project to become part of and I am grateful to Liz for approaching me to be involved. A blog post is owed.

I travelled down to London for Free Verse the Poetry Book Fair where I performed alongside Stephen Daniels in a V. Press Reading. I have been promising myself a trip to this book fair for a few years now, so to get down there and have an opportunity to perform was a double bonus. I had a fantastic day and absorbed an incredible amount of performances, readings and books!

 

 

 

 

Review of August

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I have taken most of the summer off from performing poetry to catch up on writing some! I am now struggling to wind myself back up but September is action packed so the full calendar should help me back to the zone.

Mr G. and I went away, I promised him a poetry free holiday, I ended up having to find a public library to send a contract and take a few calls on the beach, other than that – I took a break and actually found it refreshing.

August is also packed full of birthdays (including my own). The summer wasn’t fantastic weather-wise so as soon as there was a sunny day, the garden beckoned… and all of this kept me away from my desk!

 

Opportunities

Back in July I was approached by Roz Goddard through West Midlands Reader Network to apply for a Reader in Residence position which I was successful at obtaining – more on this soon, I have had the preliminary planning meeting and the project is due to start in November. This was my BIG news for the month.

Worcestershire Poet Laureate (WPL)

I had my second radio slot with Tammy Gooding at BBC Hereford & Worcester. This went really well again (no edits). I was able to promote upcoming events and talk about the success of LakeFest.

My first official Poet Laureate Blog Post went live, traditionally these have appeared quarterly, although we are working on a bi-monthly/monthly post as there are lots of events being created.

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/08/18/ninas-wpl-blog-august-2017/

I wrote a Project Proposal for my Twin Cities Transatlantic Poetry, which is under review this month by committee. This will see American and British Poets collaborate.

Jinney Ring Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop

The Sculpture Trail opened at the Jinney Ring and I went to explore the 90 sculptures in this year’s trail. I prepared and tested workshop content. All places have been booked now, I am excited and cannot believe after all this planning how close this event is!

A second date has been added in the evening 20th September 6-8 PM, so if you would like to book a place, email for details.

A New Design (5)

I organised a poetry event for Salt Festival on the 9th September. At short notice, I am delighted to have a handful of poets who can come and share their work. The bonus is that everyone has a 10 minute slot, which means they can share a good selection of their work.

After finding an alternative route for my European Twin Town Poetry Project, I had communication from the original source that I traced. A meeting has been set up and I think this might be a project that I now roll out twice with two towns in the County. It will be the first of its kind.

A spin off from this is I have been invited to read at a special dinner next month too.

August also saw the deadline for Contour – a digital magazine I plan to create three times during my tenure. This first issue invited poets from anywhere to write about Place /Worcestershire. I am currently (now September) working through the submissions and I have been fortunate enough to make contact with a photographer and have permission to use some of his County photography is this issue. More news on this soon.

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Performances

The biggest performance opportunity this month was LakeFest. It was the first year they had the Poetry Tent and it was a great success!

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Laureates at LakeFest

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©2017 Ruth Inglis

 

Bridgnorth Arts Festival

Rick Sanders organised a festival poetry event at the Friars and had Claire Walker, Steve Harrison and Brenda Read-Brown headline, I couldn’t miss this. I had missed Poetry on the Terrace in Birmingham on Saturday as I discovered it too late and we had visitors at the weekend. It had been a week since I performed and I wanted to support Claire, who did a marvellous set.

It was a great evening, enjoyable and good to catch up with a lot of the Shropshire crowd.

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Ben Parker Worcester Festival Poetry at Huntingdon Hall

Ben Parker has organised 3 poetry events this year in Worcester as part of his Residency. I had not been able to make the two events at the Swan Theatre as I was already booked. However, I have been counting down the months for this one. It was an epic list of performers some I knew and others I didn’t (which is always exciting).

Ben has a relaxed manner that I am very envious of when hosting events and the Worcester Festival was no exception. It was a great night of diverse poets performing and what I like about the ethos of these events is Ben wants the opportunity to gather a range of poets, beginners and those more seasoned. It creates a supportive atmosphere from the get go.

I hope he manages to squeeze another event like this in, I won’t be performing as you get the chance to perform once but I would certainly turn up to enjoy an evening of poetry like this one.

 

Voices from the Shadows

Back in 2014 Elaine Christie produced a wonderful anthology called Restless Bones. The proceeds of this book went to the Born Free Foundation.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/book-launch-restless-bones-poetry-anthology-for-born-free-foundation/

restless the book

Now Elaine is working hard on the next book which will feature Artwork by Neth Brown. We had a Pre-book Launch to raise awareness of this current project and also to share some of the poetry which will appear in the book.

art neth brown ©2017 Elaine Christie

Link COMING SOON.


Future Readings

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I am headlining at PTS (13th September), the welcome return of this excellent night run by Rob Francis.

I am headlining SpeakEasy (14th September) as WPL.

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I am in a Room 204 Showcase and get to do Birmingham Literature Festival for a 2nd time. Unfortunately the opportunity to perform in the Studio in the BLF was not possible as it clashes with Swindon Poetry Festival, where I am booked to perform.

The Literary Allsorts event is taking place twice. I am in the Pre-Festival event at Waterstones. It will be a great night!

Sarah Leavesley (Editor/Publisher) has organised a V. Press reading at Free Verse Poetry Book Fair London this September, myself and Stephen Daniels will be reading from our pamphlets in the afternoon. Last year I promised myself I would go to the Book Fair and now, one better… I get to read there and hopefully sell more books!

SpeakEasy with Matt Man Windle

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Matt is Birmingham’s current Poet Laureate, and was once upon a time Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate as well. A professional boxer and much-loved poet, Matt’s Poet-with-a-Punch routine is coming to Worcester this February as our featured artist and he is certainly worth coming along to see.

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I was really looking forward to finishing a busy poetry week in Worcester at Café Bliss with the SpeakEasy crew. Not to mention it has been ages since I caught Matt Windle in action and I am a big fan of his performances. He is Headlining next week at the Artrix for Licensed to Rhyme, which I miss as it is Mr G’s birthday. (We started celebrations this evening with a curry out with friends.)

I had a 3 minute slot on Thursday and as I was on just before Matt, was able to enjoy the whole night of performers without any worry or nerves. It was an exceptional night. One of those rare times when the magic of live performance is pitched just right. The room was carried along with this energy and by the end of the night we were ready for the power of Matt Windle – Poet with Punch.

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Matt’s performance was certainly emotive (I had tears in my eyes at one point), packed with gentle energy, pacey and entertaining. It was great to see him in action again. Loved him sharing his story, realising that the room was split between people who knew him and had seen him in action and those that hadn’t.

For me it as magic as watching him for the first time all over again. Enjoy this recent film, one of the poems Matt performed in his set.

Other performers included: Neil Richards, Charley Barnes, Ruth Stacey, Tim Stavert, Dray Zera, Mogs, Willis the Poet, Steve Soden, Miguel Lourenco, Kieran Davis, Chris Hemmingway, Mike Alma, Leena Batchelor & myself, Nina Lewis.

Review of October

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Review of October

Week 1

Following advice I was trying to not be too busy pre-book launch but after a week off events I took my writing group for Writing West Midlands, watched all the poetry coverage on BBC2, missed another writing deadline and decided that I would drive to Cheltenham to Buzzwords and catch David Clarke and Cliff Yates (another new-to-me poet).

Buzzwords was great, I realised I hadn’t been for over a year. I had a fabulous evening and do not regret it, despite it being the night before my launch. I read my latest poem – a work on tribal philosophy and have some poetry drafts from the workshop to work on when I get a chance (Christmas holidays maybe).

I had imagined I would spend Monday getting ready for the evening – but in reality I missed writing deadlines, overslept, did everything I could to reduce the nervous anxiety of what if no-one turns up and finally at about 2pm started to get organised.

I am going to write a full post about the launch and some follow up posts about the organisation aspects, as there is a gap of relevant information in this area.

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Waterstones Book Launch for Fragile Houses in Birmingham with Guest Readers – Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. It was a cracking night, the next morning I woke up to go to work and it felt like a dream.

The following evening I headlined at Stirchley Speaks. I have been headlining since Autumn 2014 but this is the first time I had a book to sell. I did leave home without them and had to turn back to grab the bag, I knew there was something I had forgotten. Since this night I have started using a large event handbag and always carry a couple of copies.

Stirchley Speaks was a great night and I sold lots of books, I realised at this point I had underestimated how many I should order. Taking advice from Jane Commane back in 2014 who said that audience doesn’t necessarily convert to readership. I was aware not everyone I know will buy the book. I have a list of people who want a copy next time I see them too.

It was good to catch up with everybody in the P Café and it was an incredible night of poetry.

The next day I contacted my publishers and ordered another box.

I hadn’t submitted any poetry for a while and had news of one of my poems being published in the USA. More on that when it happens.

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I treated myself to an evening off and a little rest before National Poetry Day, which is fast becoming one of my favourite dates on the calendar.

I collected my new batch of books and went to Suz Winspear’s NPD event in Worcester. As Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz is working hard this year in the city and found a brand new venue for the NPD Event. Berkeley Almshouses was the venue and some of the residents came to enjoy the event. It was a great evening and the old chapel had fabulous acoustics and suited Suz very well.

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This year’s theme was messages and I certainly sent a few texts whilst trying to track down the entrance to the venue. Great sets from everyone and I got to catch up with Math Jones (up from London) and Ruth Stacey. I even sold a book!

I spent the weekend Fri- Sun at Swindon Poetry Festival, it was 2nd year there and much as I loved it last year, this year was EVEN better! It deserves a full post and as I pretty much did everything on the programme, will certainly need one. A great way to finish an exhausting, fantastic week in my poetryskin!

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Other great news was Matt Windle became Birmingham’s new Poet Laureate and by the end of the week I had sold over 50 copies of my book!

 

Week 2

Started with a recovery day. I started to create Poetry Films, something I have got hooked on. Last year Sarah Leavesley kindly tutored a group of us in the art of production and I was inspired by the Poetry Films I had seen at Swindon. There are several poems in my pamphlet that I will rarely perform. These are all now Poetry Films.

On my recovery day I spent some INKSPILL admin time and rehearsed a set for Licensed to Rhyme. Roy McFarlane was headlining. It was a great night and I was allowed to sell my pamphlets, they had a table and everything.

The next evening I went to Ledbury to the Poetry Salon where Deborah Alma was reading and finally got a copy of her book, ‘True Tales of the Countryside’, a beautiful Emma Press pamphlet. deb-alma2

I unexpectedly performed in the open mic section. Fragile Houses reached Ledbury. It has since reached Palestine, Malta, Holland and Australia to my knowledge. It was a wonderful, rich evening and great to see Ledbury folk again.

This week was also Birmingham Literature Festival and due to work commitments and events was the first time since coming back to writing (2013) that I missed it. The night after Ledbury Liz Berry and Benjamin Zephaniah were performing and also Gregory Leadbetter had his book launch for ‘Fetch’ (Nine Arches) at Waterstones, Birmingham with Angela France and Jo Bell reading.

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© 2016 Nine Arches

I was gutted to miss both these events but with working and poeting I had no energy and if I remember rightly was asleep as soon as I had finished tea.

The following night Luke Kennard was performing in Birmingham and I missed it because it clashed with SpeakEasy, where I was already performing. Roy McFarlane was the feature and it was a joy to listen to him twice in one week.

Fragile Houses received a Chez Nous Review which I was delighted to discover came from Gram Joel Davies. He actually chose some of my favourite foods – go and have a read.

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/chez-nous-recommendations-for-fragile.html

By the end of the week I was run down with illness and missed Holding Baby a play by Jan Watts and the rest of the Book to the Future Festival (again for the first time since 2013). I hope to catch the show another time, I have heard nothing but good things about it.

It was great to finish the week with a Madhatter Review http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/books–e-books.html

 

Week 3

Fragile Houses has positive reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.

I was asked to do something that I am really excited about, more on that next year. I spent days preparing for INKSPILL in shifts of 8 – 12 hours.

Mr G and I went to London to see Woven Hand.

I was too tired to manage Hit the Ode and Smokestack Poetry Evening event clash), both in Birmingham, both top nights. I also missed the Dylan Thomas Festival, running for the first year in Cheltenham. Unfortunately it clashed with INKSPILL this year.

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I signed up to an online course ‘Arts for Health’ and performed poetry for ‘She Speaks Her Mind’ Woo Feministas – alongside Suz Winspear, Charley Barnes, Claire Badsey & Holly Magill.

Then of course it was INKSPILL with Gaia Harper, Roy McFarlane and Deanne Gist. This was the 4th year for us and it was a success. I already have Guests and plans lined up for 2017.

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The Magnetic Diaries – which I saw in it’s infancy in Hereford last year was on at the MAC and although I couldn’t make the show I did make Sarah Leavesley’s workshop ‘Pain to Poetry’. I have some poetry notes and one poem so far from this and it was a challenging (emotionally) but not unpleasant experience. I also got time to reconnect with many poetry friends I have not seen in a while.

 

Week 4

I spent the early part of the week writing. I entered a few free poetry competitions. I took some bookings for next year and exchanged pamphlets with J.V Birch through the post. She is a childhood friend, now living in Australia and has also become a poet at the same time as me. It has been exciting to map and mirror each other’s journeys through this new world.

I dressed up for Halloween as a ‘Cereal Killer’ and went off to perform at the Halloween Special 42 in Worcester. Where (due to the wig) people didn’t recognise me. It was a fabulous night and a great excuse to dress up. Fantastic sets from everyone.

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photos by Liam Cortintias

The next day I had to do my best to get all the make up off and go to a workshop run by Angela France, the theme was Fairy Tales and I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and even sold a few books.

I listened to poetry on Radio 4 and missed my Stanza meeting to take part in a Charity Quiz night. All teams of 8 and due to circumstances we ended up with just 4 in our team. We were going for the Booby Prize but decided it was hard to share a bottle of wine and so started to get answers right. We came in 5th not too shoddy, somewhere in the middle. Over £1000 was raised for MacMillan.

I hoped to go to Lania Knight’s workshop, having missed her last one due to a crash on the motorway, but this weekend we celebrated a special family birthday.

 

A Month and a Half of Hindsight. Review of August

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Another late review.

August was filled with lots of celebrations, it was my birthday (for about 3 weeks), in fact my final official celebration is in a few weeks, unfortunately I have since found out I have double booked the last day of Stratford-Upon- Avon poetry festival to visit a unique seafood restaurant where you cook on volcanic rock. Which will be just as fabulous as watching 10 poets perform and possible just as sizzling!

Review of August

Week 1:

I had 5 poetry events lined up back to back and only managed one, mid-week (I think I was still in recovery from all the driving on Welsh roads). It was a poetry canal boat trip, which I even experienced being the tiller and we were fine until one of the pirate captains aboard announced I was steering and then I lost it and freaked out. In my defence I had relinquished control to pirate no.2 by the time we hit the bank and it was a narrow bit! It was great fun and lovely to meet new people. I scribbled a lot in a notebook, but have only managed one poem so far.

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I continued to organise INKSPILL and got stuck into house things – all of which are (for the 3rd year) ongoing. There is so much to do, it can be hard to see the effort making any difference. But I am beyond scratching the surface now, which is good.

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Linda Bromyard © 2016

Week 2:

I used Skype for the first time to have a face to face editorial meeting with my publisher. I cannot believe I haven’t skyped before, but there you have it!

I also organised for some poetry friends to come and perform at my family birthday do, I was thinking they may refuse the idea, but were all delighted and it was wonderful to share part of the party with them and part of that side of my new life with my family.

I sent messages of gratitude to all poets acknowledged in my pamphlet. There are many people who inspire me and have done from the start. People who knew about my book in 2015 and recognised (being more experienced) that the eagerness and drive to get it completed was going to need some nurture and explanation and acceptance on my part.

I went to HOWL, performed a poem from my pamphlet *am I mentioning the book again? Had lots of positive feedback on the power of the piece. Which was great because I am only 100% sure of the power of the ending. Good to know the rest works too. To be fair, if it didn’t, it would never have been selected and accepted as part of the collection.

Charley Barnes was performing her 2nd in as many months featured slot. I remember how exciting this was for me at the tail end of 2014 when bookings started to roll in and I love Charley’s reaction to it all. I remember the feeling and it is lovely to share that time with any poet, especially one you are close to.

I watched Mike Alma and Pip feature at SpeakEasy, they have been enjoying a new-lease-of-life collaboration, even recorded their work. Having the backing of Pip’s guitar and the words of some of Mike’s most powerfully emotive poems, is a treat. I performed a set that went down well, lots of great performers on the night. A thoroughly enjoyable event and a packed one at that.

speakeasy Mary Davis © 2016

Final editing proofs were signed off and I started the next lesson, seeking endorsements.

I was absolutely delighted to hear back from both poets within 24 hours and doubly excited to hear they both accepted the proposition.

I had a meeting at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon- Avon, with Roy MacFarlane, who is currently the poet in residence there. I got to look around the house and everything. I was also inspired to write in the gardens and have one poem that I have written from those notes.

Finally, even as I write this, I can’t believe this is all just one week, Kieran Davis launched his debut poetry collection ‘Laguna’, with Black Pear Press. Kieran’s take over of Worcester in promoting this event was phenomenal, that man has feet, will travel and knows a thing or two about marketing. Worcester News Poet’s Dream Year

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Week 3:

Saw Ben Parker arrange a poetry night at The Swan Theatre, where he is the Poet in Residence. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend as Mr G and I were going away again, this time for my birthday, this time to Liverpool to celebrate The Beatles. Life is never going to be the same again after The Cavern sing you Happy Birthday, not sure even volcanic rock will top that one!

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We had a great whistle stop tour, including the Magical Mystery Tour, saw all we wanted to see, did everything we wanted to do and had one recovery day before my family party and the great poetic performances from Kathy Gee and Maggie Doyle, who I am so glad came and celebrated and showed my family how great this not-so-secret-world of mine can be!

 

Week 4:

Saw the endorsements for my pamphlet returned and the final stages of production were put in place.

I attended a workshop facilitated by Angela France, where we used historical documents to generate writing, I could have happily sat there and read them all day. This was a really great source of inspiration and I have a notebook brimming with ideas to tackle when I next manage some writing time.

I sent an unbelievable email out to try and entice another Guest Writer to INKSPILL (currently still in negotiation). My bravery fuelled by my post-Liverpool/ birthday high!

I started researching website development and builders. I was told in 2014 to get a webpage, every writer needs one and my head cannot even come up with any excuses as to why it has taken 2 years to action this, I think I was waiting until I knew I had something to offer.

I met up with fellow poet and friend, Claire Walker for tea and cake to celebrate my birthday. On our birthdays we indulge each other in writery gifts and I have a particularly funky pen, which she suggested I should use at my book signings. I just might!

I took a new poem to our Stanza group, we had a lovely evening, so balmy that we left the front door and garden doors open for air.

I discovered Brian Patten is visiting in October and was tempted to book a ticket, although it is festival season and I haven’t as yet, but I just might have to.

Worcester LitFest took over the book benches in Crowngate over the weekend and I really wanted to join the team to write poetry on demand. But I had a busy week and lacked energy. This was the week I painted the summer house, it took 3 days.

A full on month on every scale. I love August!

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Poetry Events – September Spoken Word @ The Ort, Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy

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As I am so far behind with the blog, with over 3 weeks worth of activities to post about I have decided to bulk post about poetry events this month.

Spoken Word at The Ort with Debbie Aldous – Birmingham 4th

I was delighted to make it back to this event as the last few have clashed with other things. There was a pop up return of Naked Lungs in the city the same evening over in Digbeth and my original plan was to try to get to both. The days of dual gigs are behind me I think, especially at the end of a busy week. I was still recovering from John Hegley and my night in Shropshire.

It was a great evening packed with fabulous performances and new audience and open mic-ers too! Thoroughly enjoyed sharing poetry.

 

Mouth & Music – Heart, with Heather Wastie – Kidderminster 8th

Headlining this month were MM sepSarah James & Angela Topping, reading from their pamphlet Hearth and Elena Thomas with Dan Whitehouse.

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It was a lovely evening of words and music, some great open mic-ers, I especially enjoyed Jan performing with her husband, they were the opening act and got the night off to a great start. mm jan

I usually find that writing to theme takes place a few days before the event, this month though because of the KAF special – Slightly Circus M & M event there were only a few weeks between the events. This was fine as with a theme like ‘Heart’ I was able to find an abundant amount of poems I had already written. The tough part was choosing which made the cut for my set.

I am glad that Sarah and Angela were mindful that a small percentage of the audience had seen them in Worcester and they chose different poems to read. It was a smashing performance.

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Here’s what Heather Wastie had to say about the event;

September’s Mouth and Music was as pleasing to organise is it always is. Towards the end of the evening, Dave Sutherland sang a song he had composed using lyrics I wrote after hearing Elena Thomas (one of our features) sing her own songs at the launch of her art exhibition. Sorry for the slightly convoluted sentence but “Carrying the evening home”, the title of the song, refers to what we take away in our heads, and bodies, after an event. Last night, not only did I take away Elena’s beautiful songs and Dan Whitehouse’s gently intricate guitar accompaniment; I also took away the fact that someone from the pub, who I suspect wouldn’t normally go to an event like ours, came in and listened to Elena because she found it provocative that Elena was singing about “the life of a middle-aged woman”. I love Sarah James and Angela Topping’s pamphlet of poetry duets, Hearth, and their reading stirred my own memories of home and family.

The main thing I took away was a feeling of connectedness. I was delighted to see a harmonium on the stage when Jan, a regular and popular performer, was joined by her husband to enhance her poems with musical backing. I enjoyed being teased by Mike Alma’s poem in response to mine about the gherkin which I wrote after seeing one on Angela Topping’s plate! In complete contrast, Mouth and Music’s own Sarah Tamar made a powerful connection with the plight of refugees and Tim Cranmore covered both ends of the … er … spectrum with 2 poems which were uncomfortable to hear, for different reasons: “Inappropriate physical contact” was very thought-provoking, and his final poem ….. ask someone who was there if you want to know.

So many connections were made last night, thanks to featured artists, open mic performers, audience and the lovely staff at the Boars Head. Elena commented on Facebook today, “It’s a special place, Mouth and Music”. I take that as a huge compliment and look forward to seeing some of you on 13th October for some new connections!

Heather Wastie

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Next month Birmingham Poet Leon Priestnall takes centre stage, this month he headlined Hit The Ode and stormed it!

mmoct The month after Swingerella takes the Headline spot.

Photographs Peter Williams © 2015

 

Speakeasy, with Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal – Worcester 10th

I have not been able to go to SpeakEasy since the Lit Fest and I was delighted to be back and to be able to take a 6 minute slot too. It was great performing poetry back in the glorious comfort of the Rectifying House. Despite not winning the raffle, I appreciated the new lamp, allowing more light to the page and it was great seeing it busy and catching up with poets I hadn’t seen for ages.

Ruth Stacey was headlining, reading from her latest book, ‘Queen, Jewel, Mistress’. I love the passion she has for this historical collection and that love came across in her set, full of enthusiasm and feeling. A very strong performance indeed. queen book

speakeasy sepIt was a superb evening of poetry and pleasure. FUN!

RELATED LINKS:

http://worcesterspeakeasy.weebly.com/thursday-10th-september.html

 

 

 

 

WLF – Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe 2015 – A Wrap!

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Worcester Lit Fest 2015 has been an awesome 10 day festival! I loved it even more than last year, as last year was my first WLF I was boundless in energy and enthusiasm – so to say I have enjoyed this year even more is a BIG thing!

The programme had a great combination of events, some of which I was lucky enough to attend, others I participated in and a few I missed completely due to work and the fact that I live away from the city and don’t have unlimited funds!

 

DAY 1

As you know, as I was a finalist, the launch night was also a night of awards and celebration, for young writers, students of the university, Flash Fiction Competitors and the six poets brave enough to compete for the Poet Laureate position 2015/16.

This link takes you to my post:

WLF 2015 The Launch & Poet Laureate Final

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The Launch Of The Festival – Poet Laureate Competition
And Young Writers’ Awards
The Guildhall, High Street, Worcester WR1 2EY
Friday 12 June – 18:30 for a 19:00 start
Join us for the launch of the Festival and watch 6 poets go head to head as
they compete for the title of Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015.
Judges include: current Worcestershire Poet Laureate Fergus McGonigal,
Poet Laureate Emeritus Maggie Doyle, County Arts Officer Steve Wilson,
Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke and the Secretary of LitFest.
To open the event, we will present the prizes for the Young Writer
competition and the winners of the Flash Fiction competition will be
announced.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 2

There was lots of activity on Day 2, most of which I missed as I was working for Writing West Midlands.

A wonderful workshop by Alison May – who has a new book out – details COMING SOON. We weren’t in the same library or I would have attempted to pop in.

Writing Workshop With Alison May
From Idea To Draft–
–Developing Character And Plot To Make Your Novel Work
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Saturday 13 June 13:45-15:45

Award-winning writer, Alison May, is a Worcester-based novelist and short
story writer. She ran a popular series of workshops for LitFest last year and returns this year for a workshop on Using Character and Plot to develop
your novel. The workshop is aimed at anyone who is working on a novel, or
has a strong idea for a novel they would like to write.
Alison’s debut novel, ‘Sweet Nothing’ was published by Choc Lit in
November 2013, followed by her first novella, ‘Holly’s Christmas Kiss’, in
December 2013 and a second novella ‘Cora’s Christmas Kiss’ in 2014. Her
short stories have appeared in Romantic Novelists’ Association, Harlequin,
Choc Lit and Black Pear Press anthologies, and she is former winner of the
RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. Her fourth book, ‘Midsummer Dreams’,
was released this spring.  www.alison-may.co.uk

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I was fortunate enough to attend the evening event at Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum. Here is the link to my blogpost Poetry Wrap 6 scroll to the end of the wrap to find out about my night at the museum.BP Royal Worc

‘A Night At The Museum’
Ben Parker & Todd Swift – Poetry Book Launch
The Museum of Royal Worcester, Severn Street, Worcester WR1 2ND
Saturday 13 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
 Ben Parker From Porcelein
This book launch marks the conclusion of Ben Parker’s tenure as poet-in
residence at The Museum of Royal Worcester. Ben Parker will be reading
from a collection of poems produced during his residency, which will be
available for purchase for the first time. This event also marks the beginning
of Todd Swift’s residency at The Museum, and Todd will be reading from
his highly acclaimed poetry.
Ben’s poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White
Review, Under the Radar and Oxford Poetry, as well as Lung Jazz: Young
British Poets for Oxfam. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, was
published by tall-lighthouse in October 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013
Michael Marks Award.

Todd is a British-Canadian poet, publisher, critic and editor. He is the editor
of numerous anthologies; and has published eight full poetry collections. His
poems have appeared widely, including in Poetry Review, and Poetry
(Chicago). In 2004 Todd was the Oxfam Poet-in-residence. He blogs at
Eyewear and runs the indie press Eyewear Publishing. Todd’s PhD in Creative
and Critical Writing is from The University of East Anglia (UEA). He was
born in Montreal, Quebec.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 3

Our Illustrious Crime Panel
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Sunday 14 June 18:00-20:00

Cally Taylor
“I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes…” (‘The Lie’ C.L. Taylor)
Cally Taylor loves a dark, twisted tale. She lives in Bristol with her partner
and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at
the University of Northumbria then moved to London to work in medical
publishing.

Cally worked as a graphic designer, web developer and
instructional designer over the course of 13 years and now writes full time.
Her first psychological thriller ‘The Accident’ has sold over 150,000 copies
in the UK alone and was one of the top 10 debut bestsellers of 2014
according to The Bookseller. She credits Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the
Unexpected’ for her love of dark tales.
“Claustrophobic, tense and thrilling, a thrill-ride of a novel that keeps
you guessing.”
Elizabeth Haynes
“An enjoyable rollercoaster of a suspense novel with multiple twists.”

Daily  Mail
“This dark and creepy book is a must read.”
The Sun
Sarah Hilary
Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her
debut novel, ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ was the Observer’s Book of the Month
(“superbly disturbing”), a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, and has
been published worldwide. ‘No Other Darkness’, the second in the Marnie
Rome series, is out in 2015. The series is being developed for television by
the BBC.
“Impressive”
Times

“Stunning”
Mark Billingham

“An extraordinarily good debut”
Observer

Alex Marwood
Alex Marwood is the pseudonym of Serena Mackesy, a journalist who has
worked extensively across the British press. Her first book, ‘The Wicked
Girls’, was a word-of-mouth sensation, won the prestigious Edgar Award
for Best Paperback Original in 2014, and was nominated for an
International Thriller Writers Award in 2013. Alex lives in south London.

“A modern-day ‘Rebecca’, mixed with a suspense-filled Gothic novel and
served up with generous helping of wit – a real treat.”
Associated Press
“Fresh, sparky, funny and sadly poignant.”
The Big Issue

“Brilliantly observed … a gripping read.”
The Times

Clare Mackintosh
Clare Mackintosh is an author, feature writer and columnist. She has
written for The Guardian, Sainsbury’s Magazine, and many other
national publications, and is a columnist for Cotswold Life and Writing
Magazine.

Clare spent 12 years in the police, including time on CID, in custody and as a public order commander. Her debut novel ‘I Let You Go’ is a tense, emotionally compelling psychological thriller perfect for readers of ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’.
“A terrific, compelling read with an astonishing twist that floored me. I
loved it and did not want it to end” ‘
Peter James
“A hugely assured and gripping debut and a twist that made me green
with envy”
Mark Billingham
“Absorbing, authentic and deeply unsettling: a stellar achievement, and
so deliciously clever”
Elizabeth Haynes
Following the Romantic Novelists’ Panel last year, this year we go into a
world of darkness and psychological chills and thrills from four crime
writers who look like butter wouldn’t melt…

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

This event was well attended and received lots of rave reviews. It is one I would have liked to attend and a real bargain for a whole panel of experts. Shame I am human and had to pace myself!

Day 4

‘Sport and Spice’
Chris & Teresa Green    Anita Sharma-James
Bindles upper room, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Monday 15 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
Get sporty and spice up your life! Award-winning author and broadcaster
Chris Green accompanies his wife and business partner Teresa – one of the
first women sports editors in the UK. Teresa’s roles have included sports
editor at the Bromsgrove Advertiser, assistant editor at the Kidderminster
Shuttle and sports reporter/sub editor at the Sunday Mercury. Chris is the
author of five highly acclaimed sports books, including ‘Every Boy’s Dream
– England’s Football Future on the Line’, which was nominated for the
2010 British Sports Book of the Year.
Anita will give a live Indian cookery demonstration. Our fabulous local
expert will invite you to enjoy a mouth-watering Indian finger buffet made
to her authentic recipes from her wonderful cookery book ‘A Life of Spice:
Raksha’s Story’.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I saw Anita Sharma-James at an event in my hometown a few years ago and only have interest in tennis and world cup football! This was a SELL OUT event though, they had to turn people away.

Meanwhile I was over the hills at another SELL OUT event with John Hegley and the Confab Cabaret team, who provided the FRINGE part of the Festival (Geographically) – definitely not with the billing or event – it was one of my festival highlights. CONFAB j2 Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley at Confab Cabaret – WLF & Fringe

Festival Fringe Events with ‘ConFab Cabaret’
John Hegley
John Hegley – ConFab Cabaret Special
Monday 15th June 20.00-22.30 (Doors Open 19.30)
Tickets £10 online (address below) or £12 on the door
A fun packed variety night with lashings of Spoken Word.
John Hegley will be headlining an extra-special ConFab
Cabaret. John performed on the streets of London in the early eighties,
fronting the Popticians, with whom he also recorded two sessions for John
Peel, and has since been a frequent performer of his words, sung and
spoken, on both local and national radio and television.
Tip top support will be provided by luscious lovely local Malvern muses –
Adrian Mealing, Amy Rainbow, Catherine Crosswell, Clive Dee, Myfanwy
Fox and Sue Thompson. With a fabulous audience poem and
added merriment from international circus performer Steve Kaos!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 5

John Hegley did a workshop – which I missed because I was working and also because I am seeing him again in Ludlow and have booked the workshop there as it is on the same day as the event.

It would have been great fun – what I heard was all fabulous but I had asked people NOT TO TELL ME ANYTHING about it as he may repeat the same ideas in Ludlow.

I had Tuesday off from the festival, I was working and trying to write some new material and work on my editing too.

CONFAB J Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley – Workshop
Tuesday 16th June 10:00-12:00 (Doors Open 09:45)
Tickets £12.50 in advance online (address below)
After a night of ConFab Cabaret jollity, John will be up bright and early
delivering a 2 hour workshop.
This will be an opportunity to work closely with Mr Hegley using drawing,
poetry and gesture. John has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces,
two CD’s and one mug. An Edinburgh Festival regular, he is noted for his
exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and
the misery of human existence.
Places are limited. Please book now to avoid disappointment.
Both John Hegley events to be held at: The Harcourt Room, The Mount
Pleasant Hotel, Belle Vue Terrace, Great Malvern WR14 4PZ

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

In the evening – Worcester Writers’ Circle took over with a Rubber Swordplay Event – where Mogs was awarded the Rubber Sword for his performance.

Worcester Writers’ Circle And Friends Present: ‘Rubber Swordplay’
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Tuesday 16 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
The gifted and humble members of Worcester Writers’ Circle and Friends
present a selection of their humorous stories and poems in an evening that
is sure to leave your sides aching. Mein host, Tony Judge, has once more
successfully brought together performers who are out to give you a laugh.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Another event happening Tuesday evening was at The Commandery.

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Anita Seymour – Civil War Novelist
Anita Seymour
Tuesday 16 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
Anita’s first novels are ‘The Woulfes of Loxsbeare’, a 17th Century historical
family saga, the first two titles of which are, ‘The Rebel’s Daughter’ and ‘The
Goldsmith’s Wife’. Followed by ‘Royalist Rebel’, a biographical novel based
on the early life of Elizabeth Murray, Countess Dysart. Her latest release due in June 2015 is Murder On The Minneapolis, a Cozy Mystery set on an
Atlantic Steamship in 1900.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 6

I was back in it, to see Adam Millard at 42 WLF Special – read all about it here

WLF 42 Special with Adam Millard

WLF 42 me1WLF 42 Adam

WLF © 2015

42 Worcester Festival Special
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Wednesday 17 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
42 Worcester’s Festival Special this year sees the welcome return of Adam
Millard. A writer, mainly fantasy and horror, Adam’s whole life consists of
movies, books, and writing. He’s 31 and lives with his beautiful wife Zoe,
and son, Phoenix Justice. Adam has over fifty tattoos and smells of rich
Mahogany.
Who can resist?

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Wednesday night also saw another event at The Commandery.

‘The Crimson Ribbon’
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
‘The Crimson Ribbon’ is a tale set during the English Civil War, exploring
the developing roles of women in an era of turmoil and change. The novel
deals with superstitious fear, injustice and persecution. Her central character,
Ruth Flowers, is torn between her desire for liberty and the need for utter
secrecy, for if people find out about the events of her past she is in mortal
danger.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 7 – One week in!

What better way to mark it than a performance at SpeakEasy.

Read all about it here WLF – SpeakEasy with SPOZ & Brenda-Read Brown

SpeakEasy Festival Special
Thursday 18 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start at The Old Rectifying House,
North Parade, Worcester WR1 3NN
Here’s your chance to read your short stories, poems, prose, try out your
performance poetry or music that tells a story. This evening is for you!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

WLF Brenda2 WLF © 2015

There were other events again at The Commandery

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Chris Bryant MP – The Biography of Parliament

Following his election as Rhondda’s MP in June 2001 Chris Bryant has
served on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the House of
Commons, as well as the Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons on
Reform of the House of Lords. From November 2002 to May 2007 he was
Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe. He is an Associate of the
National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and a member of the Coop Party,
Amnesty International, Amicus and the Fabians. Chris speaks fluent Spanish
and good French, lives in Porth in the Rhondda Fach, and famously
corresponded with James Blunt. His book ‘Parliament: The Biography
(Volume 1 – Ancestral Voices)’ was published in December 2014.
Thursday 18 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 8

On Friday I took a day off from work and WLF to go to a workshop with Candy Royalle in Birmingham, which was magic! Meanwhile back in WLF the events continued.
ThreezAcrowd
Bindles, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Friday 19 June 14:00-16:00
Jan and Campbell Perry and Mike Thomas’s band will entertain in the upper
room at Bindles…don’t miss it, or you won’t be there!!

WLF Programme © 2015

Another exciting event on offer, that received lots of positive feedback was this talk and Q& A

Covert Operations! Cameron Addicott
Friday 19 June 19:30 at St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s,
Worcester WR2 5AX

An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott
An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott is a former undercover officer with H.M. Customs and
the Serious Organised Crime Agency. In 2008 he left SOCA to travel the
world and write the first part of his memoirs. The Interceptor was published
by Penguin in July 2010 and went straight to number 1 in the Amazon True
Crime Bestseller list. The BBC purchased the rights to the book and has
been turned into a BBC1 crime drama series. Directed by BAFTA award
winning director Farren Blackburn. Starring OT Fagbenle, Robert Lonsdale,
Charlie de Melo and Anna Skellern star, with Trevor Eve playing the leading
‘Villain’. It is due to be broadcast on BBC1 in April 2015.
Cameron’s media work includes appearing as technical expert on Chris
Atkins’ C4 Dispatches documentary about the sale of personal data and
playing the ‘Spymaster’ who taught Jared Murillo on Strictly Come Dancing’s
‘It Takes Two’. His radio work includes Radio 4’s Midweek with Libby
Purves and Five Live with Richard Bacon. In addition Cameron has advised
on numerous other TV docs and has been interviewed on many local and
European Radio shows.
Fighting on the frontline of the war against crime, ‘Cammo’  was one of the
very few hard-boiled and highly-experienced surveillance operatives to get
called up to the secretive and elite Alpha Projects unit – a group of
dedicated undercover Customs officers who hunted the UK’s most
dangerous criminals by extraordinary means – starting with the interception
and decoding of their phone calls.
This talk will give an entertaining and informative insight into working
against organised crime. Topics covered include criminal motivation,
methods of intelligence gathering, cocaine production, plus smuggling and
money-laundering.
The talk will be followed by a lively Q&A session and a book signing.

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 9

Was my final day in the WLF and one I had been looking forward to – nothing to do with Jonny Fluffypunk! Oh, no! WLF – Jonny Fluffypunk & Offa Press Poets

Offa’s Poets And Jonny Fluffypunk
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Saturday 20 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start

‘Thought-Apples’ is a collection of 25 poems by Staffordshire poet Bert
Flitcroft. They are philosophical, occasionally piquant, always accessible and
pleasing to the ear. Bert was born in 1946 and grew up in Lancashire.
Nowadays he lives near Lichfield, a retired English teacher.
David Bingham’s debut collection from Offa’s Press, ‘The Chatter of
Crows’, includes impressive Japanese-influenced haibun and haiku, which
amuse and intrigue in equal measure. David lives in Ironbridge, Telford, is a
retired Humanities teacher and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from
Birmingham University. He’s currently editor of Blithe Spirit magazine.
‘Good on the page and good on stage’ are Offa’s Poets’ watchwords.
Jonny Fluffypunk
And…the unforgettable ‘economic refugee’ from the Home Counties
returns to LitFest. Stand-up poet, sit-up storyteller and give-up musician

Jonny Fluffypunk has been dragging his art around the poetry, comedy and
alternative cabaret circuits for over 10 years. A multiple slam champion who
hates competition in the arts and an outspoken voice for anarchy, peace and
bicycles, Jonny’s a favourite with LitFest audiences. His ‘Sustainable
Nihilists’ Handbook’ is published by Burning Eye, and he is currently
touring his no-fi stand-up spoken word show ‘Man Up, Jonny Fluffypunk –
One Man’s Struggle with Late-Onset Responsibility’ to rousing acclaim.
An evening not to be missed!

WLF Programme © 2015

WLF jonny WLF © 2015

My final event was to celebrate Summer Solstice/ Midsummer’s Eve – with poets, bugs and torchlight! WLF – Summer Solstice Walk

LitFest Solstice Walk – a fabulous freebie
Starting around 10:30pm Saturday 20 June
Join us for a spookily fun walk around Worcester’s famous waterside for the
Summer Solstice – this year we’re keeping it local – the walk will be along
the banks of the River Severn. Starting outside Cripplegate Park gates on the
St John’s side of Worcester Bridge at 10:30(ish) Saturday 20 June, following
the Jonny Fluffypunk / Offa’s Poet gig. We’ll bear health and safety in mind
and ask everyone to bring a torch and wear stout shoes / boots and warm
clothing.
The route will be along the riverside to Diglis Lock and encompass the
Diglis basin marina area. There will be poetry and prose performances along
the route to entertain you.
Start time 10.30pm – finish anticipated just after midnight.

WLF Programme © 2015

This was a fabulous, magical event, unique.

Day 10

The end of the Festival – marked with the traditional (now in it’s 5th year) Double Whammy Slammy

LitFest ‘Double Whammy Slammy’! and end of fest party
PLUS The BIG FAT RAFFLE Draw!
Sunday 21 June
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Flash Fiction Slam: 18:00-18:30
Poetry Slam: 19:00-21:30     
Come, watch and vote for flash fiction aficionados who will perform their
short, short stories. Last year’s winner Rod Griffiths may be competing
again! You could be the second Worcestershire Flash Fiction Slam
Champion. To take part in the flash fiction slam write your flash fiction (a
short, short story, up to 300 words) and turn up on the night to read it!
And…the grand finale! Come, watch and vote for competing poets in the
final event of the 2015 Worcestershire Literary Festival in the legendary
poetry slam championship.  Participants will vie for the chance to become
the fifth Worcestershire Poetry Slam Champion. Previous champions:
Fergus McGonigal, James Dolton, Alison Absolute and, last year Brenda
Read-Brown.

WLF Programme © 2015

The Poetry Slam winner this year is Peter Wyton, who will perform at next year’s Worcester Lit Fest SpeakEasy as a headliner, Math Jones came 2nd (for the 3rd year) and congratulations to Suz Winspear (runner up Poet Laureate) and 3rd in the Poetry Slam and Leena Bachelor who was trying out slamming for the first time!

Andrew Owens won the Flash Fiction Slam. Well done to everyone who was brave enough to take part and for those strong performers who did BOTH slams.

WLF Heather WPL WLF © 2015

Last but not least congratulations to the small and mighty WLF team! Superb festival WLF 2015 – thank you!