Category Archives: Spoken Word

All the Verve of Verve!

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Last night saw the Launch Party for Verve – A Birmingham Festival of Poetry & Spoken Word. A V.I.P event which was every bit as good as last year’s.

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I went with Maggie Doyle and the room was full of poets and writers. A party, party! There was cake, Verve Beer and wine, more importantly there were programmes and poets. I loved seeing everyone and spent most of the night whizzing in and out of conversations trying to make sure I spoke to everyone and I am sure I missed a few.

 

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Then Stuart Bartholomew kicked off proceedings with a speech, which could have alienated many poets in the room by introducing his poets for the evening as his favourites (no offence caused, mainly because they are ours too)!

 

Sean Colletti, Casey Bailey and Liz Berry took to the mic for a couple of poems each. Each poet a personal favourite of mine too (all is forgiven, Stuart). Exceptionally moving sets. Beautiful poems and a real teasing taster of Verve to come.

 

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After the readings the brochures were unveiled – literally that shimmery ribbon curtain (seen here) stood between us and  the roller programme. Along with as many programmes as we could carry there was a sweet shop complete with traditional pink and white striped bags!

Last year the programme was massive, I think it may be even bigger this year! I am looking forward to my second experience of Verve and wearing my glittery lips again in February!

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Chapel Lates Cheltenham

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Cornish

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

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

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Rick Sanders/ Willis the Poet

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

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

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Bohdan Piasecki

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

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

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

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

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Chris Hemmingway

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

Fran Smith

Fran Smith

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

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Jonny Precious

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

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Rod Griffiths

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

Thanks, Anna for such a fantastic evening!

x anna

Anna Saunders


RELATED LINKS:

http://www.tylerkeevil.com/

http://www.thechapelarts.com/

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

Cheltenham Poetry Festival 4-15th May

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I am delighted to promote Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders this year. My tickets are already booked, don’t miss out on yours!


Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2017 4 -15 May. Venues throughout the town.

 ‘ a poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’ – The GuardianMay 4 – 16, 2017

Poets speak out about Brexit, ISIS, Paris terror attacks and more.

Festival aims to reflect ‘ current state of the nation’.

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The Regency town of Cheltenham is set to be the stage for an explosive showcase of new writing this summer.

The 12 day festival features drama, comedy, film and contemporary poets – and this year nothing is off limits when poets read new work inspired by Brexit, race relations and the Paris terror attacks.

Among the guests are internationally acclaimed poet Matthew Sweeney who will be reading new poems which address dramatic themes including Isis and the Paris Terror attacks.

Also on the bill – Rory Waterman reads from his edgy new collection Brexit Day on the Balmoral Estate, Roy McFarlane talks about identity and race in emotionally-charged poems and Jamaican-English poet Raymond Antrobus visits; a poet who is renowned for his uncompromising and powerful take on misogyny and cultural divisions.

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Ray Antrobus

Paul Stephenson reads from The Days That Followed Paris – poems inspired by his residency in Paris at the time of the Terror attacks, plus Jasmine Gardosi and Lexia Legend – politically conscious poets who aren’t afraid of speaking out – perform new work.

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Jasmine Gardosi

The events are part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s commitment to socially- conscious programming.

We wanted this year’s programme to showcase some of the UK’s most frank and fearless writers, to include bold and outspoken artists whose work reflects the current state of the nation. Cheltenham Poetry Festival Director Anna Saunders says.

This year’s festival shows how poetry is empowered when it takes risks –and we hope visitors to the festival will enjoy our fresh, and fearless exploration of the world we live in today.

© 2016  Robbie Elford. All Rights Reserved.

Ben Parker

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Fiona Sampson

 

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www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Anna Saunders cheltpoetryfest@gmail.com

01242 285812

07400352396

Review April 2017

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As always NaPoWriMo takes over April and makes it challenging to keep other blog posts up to date. I have made an effort to keep the blog NaPo intentionally this month with a few posts breaking the thread. I have had some amazing experiences this month which deserve a dedicated blogging. I plan to pepper them in throughout May.

 

WEEK 1:

I was asked to co-ordinate an event for a Festival I am already involved with – this task took the best part of a fortnight. But I am happy that it is all now booked and in place for this summer. I spent further weeks this month planning and organising the events for an Arts Festival in July.

I went to an editing workshop. Taking with me a poem from 2014 that has never fully worked. I can safely say it has the treatment now and just in time because it formed part of the set I performed at The Poetry Ballroom.

Poetry Ballroom

I experienced the Poetry Ballroom. Suz Winspear (this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate) organised this event in partnership with DanceFest. It was an amazing night. I will be blogging a full write up in May, I was honoured to be an invited performer at the event and had great fun writing some dance poems especially for it. The evening was a sound success and the dancers appreciated the theme of our poetry – not realising that we would focus on dance. As an ex-dancer, it was a pleasure.

I was asked to endorse a book (my 2nd one). The first book I endorsed is due to launch in May, more on that next month too. I am currently reading this manuscript and am delighted that the publishers thought of me.

I was asked to read at a Book Launch next month. I have spent some time this month penning new poems for this occasion. To be honest the poems were also part of NaPoWriMo, but why not make your projects work hard for you. Lots of prompts leant themselves to current project pies I have my thumbs in, so given half a chance…napo2017button1

I went to a reading at The Hive with Sarah Leavesley & Melissa Lee-Houghton. I was really excited by this. Ruth Stacey had arranged it for her students at university and just gave a bit of a quiet shout out. thehiveworcsorg

Being part of an audience of students, listening to their woes made me glad this wasn’t my life anymore. It is all to easy to glamorize the undergraduate/post grad life… but really… as much pressure as the real world.

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I loved hearing Sarah read from Magnetic Diaries again after all this time and it was a real treat to hear Melissa Lee-Houghton, as she sadly couldn’t make Verve festival in the end. It was a great evening and I am glad I managed the post work rush to get there. Had to drive a hire car too – as my window decided to malfunction and I spent over an hour finding a garage willing to help me so late on in the day. The window was stuck in the down position. My lesson: using air con is cheaper in the long run!

I spent time writing the brief for a 2nd poetry festival event, involving the other two poets. It is amazing how many days it can take 3 poets to come up with less than 3 lines!

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Back in February (my month of applications), I applied for Room 204 Writer Development Programme run by WWM. They had over 130 applicants this year for 15 places. I am delighted to announce the embargo has lifted and I can share this news. We had our first cohort meeting – what a great year to be in, so much talent. We had a photo shoot (one I wanted a haircut and weight-loss for) – neither happened in the days beforehand, but Paul Stringer is a talented photographer. It was a fun morning, we were all so excited to be part of the 2017/18 cohort and already good things have happened as a result. There is a whole year of mentoring and career development ahead, over £1000 worth. Priceless if you ask me.

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I am extremely excited to be part of Room 204, I discovered it back in 2013 and have been biding my time and developing my writing to the point I thought I was able to qualify for a place on the scheme. I am grateful my application was successful. That my writing stood up to the scrutiny and competition. Here’s the rest of this year’s cohort

https://www.writingwestmidlands.org/room-204-participants-201718/

I also reconnected with a good friend of mine afterwards and we plan to exchange books and do lunch next time I am back in the area. I used to spend more time in Birmingham than I do at the moment. I am spending less time on the road this year and more time at the desk, the natural pattern of a writer. It was good catching up.

WEEK 2

Went to an incredibly exciting meeting at the Custard Factory for this year’s Room 204 programme, which we were embargoed about. The news was finally released on the 11/12th. Rm-204-logo-final-solo-600x328

Started typing NaPo poems, I decided to write longhand this year, which gave me that workshop feeling as much of my writing is straight to screen nowadays. It meant I successfully completed the challenge with 97 poems by the end of the month, however I have typed about 10 to edit so far.

Made a promotional Easter video for Fragile Houses. I was reading advice on marketing and promotion and find it hard to detail what my pamphlet with give you beyond shared experience, memory and space to work through mirrored realities. Which all seems a high promise or at the worst an abstract manifesto. Then I thought about chocolate, the calories (personally delighted this year to have so many eggs and treats). easter Had another 3 eggs after this photo was taken!

I spent half a day making the video. Poetry – less calories than chocolate. Maybe I should have offered a free egg with every book sold.

I booked onto a Room 204 event for later in the month.

Started writing a book review and went to see Kate Bush tribute Cloudbusting with Mr G. katebush

I missed License to Rhyme again as the next day I was going to Swindon. Rick Saunders aka Willis the Poet was headlining and he was happy to take me on the road trip. It was a cracking night at Oooh Beehive – a night that Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell started a while ago. Swindon is quite a way on a school night and it was the early hours by the time I was home, but it was the Easter holidays and I am glad I managed it. Lovely to see Sam Loveless and Edward, who I met at the Poetry Festival last year.

I went to HOWL and watched amazing headline sets from Charley Barnes, Tom McCann and Rhythmical Mike. It was a great night and I was happy I made an open mic spot. It was fabulous to see everyone again. HOWL

I went to SpeakEasy where Gareth Owens was headlining. That was a good night too – rare these days that I manage 3 nights on the hoof like this. I spent the day beforehand making media for an upcoming festival shoe and dealing with programme copy.

It was nice to escape for a few hours and immerse myself in poetry.

The Beltane Anthology for 2017 was published by Three Drops from a Cauldron, which has my Rag Tree poem in it. I know you should never judge a book by the cover – but with this stunning design, who wouldn’t want to see their poetry inside!

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Featuring poetry and flash fiction by Jane Burn, Rhiannon Hooson, Alison Stone, Denise Blake, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt, Eleanor Penny, Tom Moody, Bee Smith, Rebecca Buchanan, Rebecca Gethin, Nina Lewis, Wendy Mannis Scher, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Sarah Hart, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Kitty Coles, Donald Illich, Dennis Trujillo, Lesley Burt, Cynthia June Long, Vivien Jones, Moyra Donaldson, Maggie Mackay, Bethany Rivers, Lewis Buxton, Carmina Masoliver, Nico Solheim-Davidson, R.M. Francis, Linda Goulden, Ilse Pedler, and Joanna Swan.

Edited by Kate Garrett, with the Three Drops from a Cauldron editorial team: Becca Goodin, Loma Jones, Amy Kinsman, Holly Magill, Penny Sharman, Grant Tarbard, and Claire Walker.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-garrett/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/paperback/product-23143262.html

It is now also available in digital copy.

https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2017/04/14/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/

Week 3

I had a free writing webinar with The Writers Academy & Penguin Random House, it was an interesting few hours, although I wrote copious notes not realising they were sending follow up information via email.

I had my first Room 204 1 to 1 session, we get 3 over the course of the year. It was useful and I have already started working on decisions.Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

I spent an entire day co-ordinating and planning for festival events.

Holly Daffurn has started a new venture – at Bottles Wine Bar, ‘Uncorked’ an evening of Spoken Word, there were over 50 tickets sold and the night was divided into 3 parts with 5 headliners and open mic. Ambitious scheduling, beautiful venue and a stellar line up made for a perfect evening. uncorked

I performed on the open mic. Brilliant Headliners: Jasmine Gardosi, Casey Bailey, Holly Daffurn, Leon Priestnall & Joe Cooke

The Spring edition of Birmingham Literature Festival happened and despite a fantastic programme (all well received), I was unable to make it across to the city for any events. I even missed Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch.

BLF Spring

I had my WWM group which meant I couldn’t attend some of the events/workshops on Saturday. The group went really well, we made our own magazines. I have since planned the final two session, so feel ahead of the game.

Week 4

I booked tickets to go and see Carol Ann Duffy in May, continued to organise festival events. The Stourbridge Literature Festival started. I went to see Emma Purshouse headline at Spoken Trend, saw Carla Rickets headline too. It was a great night, I even went home with 3 daffodils, now that is a good night.

I took a Napowrimo poem to Stanza and it was approved. I have written 97 in total this month as I have followed 2 main prompts, the main site napwrimo.net and joined Carrie Etter’s group where she provided us with 30 optional prompts. Beyond the poems, I have researched and stumbled into new project territory which is most exciting. Carrie’s group was amazing for comradery and support. Jo Bell spent the entire month posting poems for us to read as it is as important as writing and a sure way to learn/ learn about poetry. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems and discussions on her blog and will miss this daily ritual and ponder more than I will miss the onslaught of daily poetry writing.

imgID54935282.jpg.gallery I went to the first talk organised by Room 204 and now have a notebook full of information and ideas.

And the month finished with a flurry of PR for VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE at Stourbridge Literature Festival.

The first of 3 events I have been organising. A combined reading with: vpress sb I will blog about the festival/event over the coming days. Within 24 hours I will be promoting Cheltenham Poetry Festival and over the next 5 days working towards 30-40-60 the collaborative performance booked into this year’s Worcester Literature Festival.

I will not have time to be sad about the end of NaPoWriMo, but I hope to have time to type edit some of the work produced during April.

This was a GREAT month!

 

 

Sabotage Reviews – Verve Poetry Festival

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I can now reveal why all went quiet on reviewing Verve Poetry Festival last month… I was writing this review for Sabotage Reviews. I am delighted they have posted it and I will now (when I have time), resume the blog posts before I forget all the details of the events!

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http://sabotagereviews.com/2017/03/25/verve-poetry-festival-16-19th-february-2017/

I am really chuffed to have had the opportunity to write this! Get it in your diaries for next year.

 

When Beat Poetry Howls. HOWL 8.2.17

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It has been far too long since I made it to HOWL, in fact far too long away from the circuit in Birmingham, it moves fast. New faces, new students, new performers. I was delighted to see people I knew at this event and fully expected to as the Headline line up was phenomenal: Bethany Slinn, Sean Colletti and Luke Kennard.

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It was lovely catching up with people before the event and during the intervals. A good many of us there just to listen and enjoy and celebrate…there are a lot of Birthdays this week! HOWL celebrated its 2nd Birthday this evening! A pinnacle Leon should be very proud of.

The Dark Horse, Moseley, was packed! Open mic spots were rarer than unicorn teeth but it didn’t matter, in fact I think I probably enjoyed myself more without the pressure/nerves of performing. My past few floor spots have not been me at my most shiny.

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©Murdock Ramone Media

Leon Priestnall always encourages the audience into a frenzied state and if he hadn’t, tonight his acts surely would have. The open mic-ers were ON FIRE and some of them brave enough to be taking to the stage for the first time, as for the Headline Acts… well:

Luke Kennard

Luke Kennard is the author of numerous works of poetry and short fiction. His second collection, The Harbour Beyond the Movie, made him the youngest writer to be nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. In addition to poetry, he writes criticism & short fiction.

Kennard’s work is witty, extravagant and provocatively genre-bending. His first book, The Solex Brothers, consisted of six hilarious, highly energetic prose poems, whose modalities ranged from dramatic monologues, short fictions and dream narratives to Beckettian dialogues, passages of journalese, diaristic studies, and, in the volume’s Eliotic notes, some very funny cod-criticism (“I’m no fan of Eliot’s Great Tradition – which seems to have left us with lots and lots of really boring poems about old famous poets. Thanks a lot, keepers of the flame”).

While such diversity might in other circumstances dilute a reader’s sense of a poet, Kennard’s poems are unmistakably his own. His latest collection, Cain, was published in June 2016 and described by the Sunday Times as ‘Nabokov watching Netflix with John Ashbery.’ His first novel, The Transition, will be published by 4th Estate in 2017
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Sean Colletti

Born and raised in California (not the one near Quinton), Sean Colletti came to the UK to read Creative Writing at Birmingham University (BA) and the Universtity of East Anglia (MA). Choosing the lesser of two evils, Colletti returned to Birmingham for his PhD and to write his first novel – whilst performing ‘his first love’ at poetry events across the city. And if we’ve found the right Sean Colletti on Twitter, he also enjoys sci-fi, whiskey and losing at poker… sounds like a Friday night in to me. He has headlined at Hit the Ode, OOh Beehive and currently hosts Grizzly Pear for writers bloc at the University of Birmingham.

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Bethany Slinn

Fairly new to spoken word, having previously come from a theatre background, Bethany Slinn has gone on to perform her poetry locally this year in arts venues and has recently co-founded the Birmingham Poet’s Co-op. She uses her words for social action, for the connection, and for playtime and would describe the current state of them as dancing somewhere between poetry and preaching. Never-stop- being-curious. She most recently featrued at Level up and supported Hollie Mcnish at The Birmingham Rep

Leon Priestnall © 2017


I hadn’t seen Bethany before (told you I have been off the city scene for too long), her set was amazing and I loved the way she sent her mum out for one of the poems and then called her back in at the end. Recently graduated from a MA in Liverpool, she has hit the Brum scene performing at an event at the MAC, Level Up & Nexus Digital.

Sean Colletti, I have had the pleasure of watching before, but tonight he took us places that I never dreamt of going. Theatre of the soul. If you ever get a chance to see him perform, you should. But tonight he told us about his friend Jess, who took her life. The grief he has been living through. During his poem for Jess he asked us to stand up if we had ever experienced loss. Practically the whole room stood and then came the lines ‘the audience has just grown and no-one here is dreaming, no-one is screaming…’ we sat down after announcing the names of the lost. It was hugely moving. I cannot do it justice in writing, but Sean took our hearts this evening and he is entitled to a small part of each one of them. Muscle poetry at the deepest.

Luke Kennard, who is a powerhouse in the Literary world (‘Cain’ has made it to the Longlist for the Dylan Thomas Prize this week), dt%20prize%20logotreated us to another incredible set to close the evening. He made us laugh and ponder in equal measure. I love Luke’s poetry and his style of delivery, distinctive/distractive is a joy. He can make people feel happy instantly with his ease.


Luke Kennard is the author of numerous works of poetry and short fiction. His first collection of poems, The Solex Brothers, was published in 2005, and won him one of that year’s Eric Gregory Awards. His second collection, The Harbour Beyond the Movie, made him the youngest writer to be nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. He has since published two further full collections, and two pamphlets, one of which, The Necropolis Boat, was the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice in 2012. In addition to poetry, he writes criticism, short fiction, and is currently working on his first novel. He currently teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

Kennard’s work is witty, extravagant and provocatively genre-bending. His first book, The Solex Brothers, consisted of six hilarious, highly energetic prose poems, whose modalities ranged from dramatic monologues, short fictions and dream narratives to Beckettian dialogues, passages of journalese, diaristic studies, and, in the volume’s Eliotic notes, some very funny cod-criticism (“I’m no fan of Eliot’s Great Tradition – which seems to have left us with lots and lots of really boring poems about old famous poets. Thanks a lot, keepers of the flame”). While such diversity might in other circumstances dilute a reader’s sense of a poet, Kennard’s poems are unmistakably his own. His skill and garrulity across a wide array of forms was extended in his third collection, The Migraine Hotel, demonstrating a propensity for politically-charged language-play in poems like “Army”:

Last week we had to fling a wall over a wall,

But we got the wrong wall:

We flung the wall over the wall

We were supposed to fling over the wall

We flung over that wall. It’s difficult to explain

Kennard’s Python-esque poems often elaborate surreal narratives, given a deadpan concreteness by excessively mundane details. “Chorus”, which can be heard on the site, describes a nightmarish visitation by a choir which will not leave the poem’s speaker alone: “One day the choir arrived without warning or explanation, / Sang the choir in four-part harmony, handing him toast.” Such lines illustrate Kennard’s remarkable facility for self-reflexive commentary. His poems often seem to derive their impetus for composition from an awareness of the impossibility of successful composition; in this sense, the opening of the monologue “[Jeremiah]” can be seen as a straightforward ars poetica: “Let’s say I already know this is going to fail. This’ll be easier if I try to give you an analogy. A parable.” The tendency to dramatise theoretical questions through parable is one shared with the great American poets John Ashbery and James Tate, but Kennard’s work differs from theirs in its exhibition of qualities which might be called “English”—endless self-deprecation, fidelity to grammatical and syntactical propriety, acute class-consciousness—which mark it out as something wholly distinctive.

As Kennard’s recording makes plain, performance adds an extra dimension to his poems’ meanings. In his highly expressive reading, the unpredictable narratives of his poems come to seem strange and inevitable, their unpredictable twists and turns grounded in the logic of a unique sensibility, which, as The Independent has described, “with urgency and generosity…addresses the world we live in now”. Poetry Archive © 2017


I had an incredible evening and it was great to reconnect with Najma Hush, also recently back on the Spoken Word scene.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOWL!

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.

MM Angela and Sarah

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

MM PeteMM Sarah Tamar

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

 

 

 

 

Word Up, KAF Mouth & Music & 42

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The end of August saw a flurry of open mic events in Birmingham, Kidderminster and Worcester.

WORD UP 21st August

Word Up, Coffee Lounge, Birmingham: hosted a special I Am Not a Silent Poet event with Reuben Woolley, Marcia Calame and Jess Davies headling. The nature of our poems fitted into serious, often unperformed pieces which tackled big issues, which is the voice of Reuben’s online publication I Am Not A Silent Poet, protest, exposure.

word up

My set consisted of the poems he published earlier this year https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/the-write-year/ and some others that I shy away from performing.

It was a great night hosted by Jasmine Gardosi.

All photographs © Reuben Woolley 2015 – there were more performers who I haven’t shared photos of, apologises to them.

word up andrew fellows reuben Word Up Jodie Rose McLoughlin Reuben word up louise hart reuben word up reuben 2 Word Up Reuben 3 word up bernard reuben word up jess reuben Word Up Marcia Calame reuben word up me reuben word up reuben word up vlad reuben

Word Up 1Reuben After the event we went to the pub for a catch up, which was great because there is never enough time to talk to people at events and Reuben lives in Spain and only comes back to the Midlands for August. He was a national tour this year too, gigs up and down the country. I hope he is now having a rest!

 

MOUTH & MUSIC KAF Special – Slightly Circus 23rd August

MOUTH & MUSIC, Boars Head Gallery, Kidderminster:

KAF 2015

This event was originally in the open air/marquee positioned close to the main stage and the closed street of the festival. However, the weather left us with no option but to retreat into the Boars Head Gallery – which is always a great space to perform in I think. The bands were on downstairs and it felt exciting and intimate. There was optional fancy dress and I am so glad other people entered into the spirit of it.

© PTR Art & Design 2015

© PTR Art & Design 2015

I had researched my clown make up but sadly on the day I was too hot getting ready and the white base wouldn’t cover my skin – in the end this was a godsend really as Maggie Doyle and I ran from the car park to venue – me losing half my wrapping paper patches which were all over my PJs/trousers and most of my make up ran too. So imagine the carnage of a white base face!

© Heather Wastie 2015

© Heather Wastie 2015

The event was as exciting as dressing up. Headlined by Amy Rainbow and her wonderfully talent son, Merlin – who in spite of the small performance area, wowed the audience with his amazing Hula Hoopla skills.

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

Dave Reeves was also headlining and performed a fantastic, enthusiastic set with Heather Wastie.

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

It was lovely to perform as part of KAF (Kidderminster Arts Festival) for the 2nd time and good that this event attracted performers who had not previously attended Mouth & Music.

It was a lovely afternoon. Photo credits to Peter Williams, who also performed, treating us to a couple of songs.

MM Holly pwMM mag pwMM me PWMM polly PWMM mike pwMM heather dave PW The event was hosted by the wonderful Ringmaster, Sarah Tamar.

MM Maggie sarah Tamar PW

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/13576317.Kidderminster_s_Mouth_and_Music_goes_circus_crazy_for_one_month_only/

https://mouthandmusic.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/august-review/

42

42, Drummonds, Worcester: Hosted by Andrew Owens

I am delighted that 42 is pulling in such a wide audience and huge collective of poets and writers. It is always an exciting event and recently the list of performers has increased dramatically. The theme was ‘Altered States’ which was more open to interpretation than other themes and produced a varied feast of stories, storytelling and poems. It was a fantastic night, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

42

42 was my final event/open mic of the month.

Performers included;

Alison May
Myfanwy Fox
Suz Winspear
Sharon Carr
Andrew Owens
Polly Robinson
Dayna Norton
Nina Lewis
Kevin Brooke
Brian Comber
Timothy Stavert
David Harvard
Kieran Davis
Chardonnay Jade
Dan Hurrell
Liam Cortinias

 

Birmingham’s Growing Poetry & Rhyme With Reason

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GROWING POETRY SCENE IN AN ALREADY VIBRANT CITY

In the past quarter there has been an influx of new talent in the city, young, talented and ambitious poets have taken a bite of the poetry scene, chewed it and decided they can also provide a delicious event for the rest of the city to chow down on… and they are not frightened to get everyone involved either, driven by spirit and desire over three new events have practically popped up overnight (of course, this isn’t true, beneath the tip of the iceberg (success) lies all the hard work and decision making)!

This post started out as a review of the Launch of Rhyme With Reason – Nicole Murphy’s new night of Spoken Word, in composing the opening paragraph I realised how much new poetry (events and performers) have sprung up in 2015 and how many of us get the opportunity to share with a new audience because of it.

So in case you are not from this wonderful middleland let me share with you the new gems and masters!

HOWL – Leon Priestnall – The Sun at The Station – Kingsheath

I met Leon in 2014 at Word Up, where he came and supported the acts and shared waffles and drinks with the poets. I remember talking to him about writing the first and second times our paths crossed. For a while he was a poet who didn’t perform (at least not at the events I saw him attend) and he was even existing without social media because I remember one of his first poetry videos doing the rounds in an experiment of exposure over social networking.

Anyway long story short he is a fine performance poet who has filled many Guest Spots this year all over the city and has also started his very own eclectically brilliant, beat inspired, spoken word night. The Sun at The Station first made it onto my radar with there UNPLUGGED nights every Sunday and although I saw lots of the Birmingham poets performing I thought it was primarily a music event and I am never sure how well my poetry stands on those stages, I have in the past – but I feel this time my writing has changed.

It wasn’t long before Leon had the venue pegged and created his own night HOWL Feat – which (due to other commitments) I wasn’t able to make in the early days. I have made it to two events, both superb and am Headlining along with others in August.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/3-in-a-row-mouth-music-howl-speakeasy-a-week-of-events/

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysVRsytlFpo

Leon Priestnall is a poet, writer and performer based in the West Midlands. Leon’s work battles back and forth between the personal and the observational, the angsty and the humorous but is always accessible. Leon has performed at various venues around the Midlands ranging from music events to burlesque. He was a runner up in the 2007 Spiel Unlimited Solihull Poetry Slam and has released two spoken word EPs in collaboration with musician Dan Hartland. He now runs spoken word night Howl at the Sun at the Station, Kings Heath.

STIRCHLEY SPEAKS – Jess Davies at the P Café, Stirchley.

SS Jess Davies

©Murdock Ramone Media

Jess Davies, who I first met through the 52 Project 2014 kicked new life off by discovering a pocket of Birmingham starved of words and brought Stirchley Speaks to the P Café. I was delighted to be at the launch night in May, missed June as I was away on holiday and am performing there in August.

http://www.pcafe.co.uk/poetry/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/poetry-wrap-5-a-brief-introduction-on-exhaustion/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCePHIIkNtY

http://jessmaydavies.tumblr.com/

Jess Davies is a Midlands based artist who dabbles in both the contemporary arts Scene and the Poetry scene. She was recently commissioned to write a poem for the museums at night tour at the local pen museum. Her writing is personal, heart wrenching, observational, heart wrenching, surreal and humorous. She currently runs Stirchley Speaks at the P Cafe in Stirchley.

LOUD MOUTH – Frankie Ryan, The Bond Co. Digbeth

SS Ryan

Frankie Ryan (a.k.a Ryan Murray)

©Murdock Ramone Media

I was on holiday and missed the launch of this event, I have heard good things and it is one for the future diary!

Loud Mouth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfHbUmoPYic
Frankie Ryan is a poet, photographer and spoken word artist. He has performed regularly around the Birmingham scene. His first published piece ‘freedom lament’ launched the Birmingham book club section in Nubi Magazine back in may. July 3rd will see the launch of his own spoken word night ‘loud mouth’ and his first poetry collection ‘beyond your line of sight’ will be available later this year.

RHYME WITH REASON – Nicole Murphy, Alfie Birds, Digbeth

Nicole Murphy’s new night was my initial reason for this post, the launch night was phenomenally well attended and the performers came from as far as Bristol, the audience was a great mix – so many new faces to us all, which is what we hope with poetry events really – that Spoken Word filters out and gets reborn. It certainly did on Monday 6th July!

rhyme with reason It was a fantastic night including free cake and raffle tickets (for a Waterstones gift card), great performers and a brilliant venue. It was the start of a busy run of events for me and it was a great start, I left pumped full of adrenaline and was pleased to have met and watched Hannah Teasdale in action, as she headlined Word Up the same night I was performing for the first time in London – I am back there this summer, at the Poetry Café no less!

RWR started on the back foot, I had a particularly tiring day at work, arrived flustered and late in the city, had to park further away than I wanted to – but within minutes of the night kicking off I was there, back in my body and mind and enjoying life. A great first night!

Pangaea

Pangaea

Nicole Murphy

Up and coming poet from Walsall. Her poetry combines humour and powerful emotion. She has been a regular on the Birmingham scene for a while now but has recently started her own night ‘Rhyme with Reason’.

http://livebrum.co.uk/the-oobleck/2015/07/06/rhyme-with-reason

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/event/rhyme-with-reason/

©Murdock Ramone Media

©Murdock Ramone Media

I have been lucky enough to have seen ALL these wonderful fresh blood poets perform around the city and I have tried to make it to the opening night to support them. I missed one launch (sorry Frankie Ryan) as I was on holiday. I hope to make it to more of these events n the future!

Creative Poets on fire!

Laptop Gate, Missing Posts and Spoken Word at The Ort

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More than halfway through April and not a blogpost in sight? I DID write one and the new version of WP ate it without keeping a draft, it took 40 mins and was about a week ago… so now I am typing in a document first.

I have lots of exciting news and reviews to share of poetry performances, competitions, book launches, festivals and the like.

Let’s tackle this chronologically.

On April 1st our laptop broke – NO APRIL FOOL! It was working one minute and wouldn’t kick in the next. The worst mistake I made was not backing up any of my recent work, including a project I am editing! Mr G also needed access to the internet for important work. Incon

We had no choice but to go and buy a new one – we hope to still get someone to look at saving things off the hard drive at some point in the future, but waiting days for repair on a 5 year old machine wasn’t going to work.

We didn’t want touch screen (although I fell in love with Mac Air – please gift Gods!) or anything fancy, I was surprised that the prices haven’t really dropped at all but then I realised we get 75% more memory and huge storage space etc. We also desperately needed a printer (last December) we finally bought one with a scanner and then had to drive to a different store to get the laptop – as they had none left! 60 miles later we were home with new tech!

EXCITING!

Then my car practically needed a refit of everything and I had to spend equivalent to a holiday on that… so I wasn’t really in a jolly posting mood and we had AMAZING sunshine over my Easter break so most of it was spent in the garden with good books!

April 3rd

I spent a wonderful evening in Balsall Heath at Spoken Word at the Ort with Debbie Aldous, always a range of performers, comedians, musicians, storytellers, poets, short stories, magic and things that fall somewhere between.

I went early to meet with a friend I haven’t seen since before Christmas. Also welcomed back some friends who have been off the scene for a while so that good too. 1 birm ort1

AND I seem to have started a craze of Poet’s celebrating anniversaries with ‘One Year a Poet’.