A brand new website for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. Find out about all the 2021 competitions, join in with virtual open mics at SpeakEasy (9th April) and coming soon announcements for Worcestershire LitFest 2021.
7-17 years old/ FREE entry/ International
300 words £4 or £10 for 3 entries/ International
And if you are a resident of Worcestershire, for £5 you can enter the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition.
Worcester SpeakEasy Christmas Special – more open mics than usual and the fabulous Raine Geoghegan is our feature for the night! Come and listen/watch for free (Christmas jumpers/head-gear/ hats optional)!
Our next SpeakEasy event happens online this Thursday. The event is hosted by Suz Winspear and our Featured Poet is the wonderful Raine Geoghegan.
Find out more about her here https://www.rainegeoghegan.co.uk.
Due to security, the Zoom link will be posted on the event page on Facebook in the evening, shortly before 7PM.
If you would like to come and aren’t on Facebook, please email and let us know.
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).
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.
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.
To top it off we also had the WLF Slam Winners for Poetry and Flash Fiction primed to perform.
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.
© 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!
© 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.
Kevin Brooke Flash Fiction Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.
Io Osborn Poetry Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.
© Nina Lewis
Charley Barnes performed from her new pamphlet ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’, published by V. Press.
Daniel Burton – who launched his debut collection last Saturday in Worcester and is now taking it on a mini tour of Loughborough, Leicester & Coventry.
© Daniel Burton
© Nina Lewis
After an interval Chloe Clarke kicked off the second half.
Chloe Clarke (former Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate)
Io (Cass) Osborn – Slam Champ Poet
SpeakEasy over the past few years has had lots of newcomers, which is great for an established Poetry Night, here’s Michael Wheatley.
Then Ben Banyard Headlined.
© 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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
SpeakEasy was a well attended event with plenty of audience members as well as performers and an enchanting one at that!
© Nina Lewis
The end of my Laureateship is 2 days away which means it must be time for the Launch of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018!
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!
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.
After the wild success of this event in our 2017 festival we
View original post 1,670 more words
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Please share the link.
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!
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 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.
From 1:52 & 2:20
All performers confirmed World Poetry Day & marketing & promotion was set to GO!
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!
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.
After very few hours sleep I was back at the Festival on Friday night
And then spent my entire weekend there.
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.
Read more of them here
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
And a special way to end the month.
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.
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.
Creative Commons © 2015
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.
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.
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.
*as in brick.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I performed as part of a pre-event for Birmingham Literature Festival at Waterstones. Literary Allsorts – A Room 204 showcase.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
The biggest performance opportunity this month was LakeFest. It was the first year they had the Poetry Tent and it was a great success!
©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.
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.
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.
©2017 Elaine Christie
Link COMING SOON.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.