The Worcestershire Literary Festival, in partnership with Black Pear Press and The Story Knights, is proud to announce the launch of the Young Writer anthology for 2021 and 2022!
This will be a FREE Live AND zoomed hybrid event -held on SUNDAY 27th NOVEMBER 2022 in the Exhibition Hall of The Museum of Royal Worcester in Severn Street, Worcester WR1 2ND. The event starts at 12.30 pm (finishing at 13.45) but you are warmly invited to come along beforehand and browse the Museum’s gift shop and galleries.
We are delighted to be the first stop on this tour, come and join us for an exciting night in Worcester!
Our SpeakEasy Special features the return of International Guest Poet, Jeff Cottrill and the he is not alone! He has teamed up with an incredible poet from Australia, Skylar J Wynter and talented artist, Neshka Turner who are collectively:
Open Mics are limited and going fast, you can book your 3 minutes by dropping us an email at the usual address: bookingsworcslit[at]gmail[dot]com
DECENT BEINGS on TOUR!
Jeff Cottrill (Canada), Skylar J. Wynter and Neshka Turner (Australia) are on a World Tour and their first stop is… WORCESTER!
Our final featured participants for the year are Farah Lawal Harris, who brings us a blazing hip-hop cento, written by e.s., who provides a lyrically lush cento of gratitude, and finally, Gloria D. Gonsalves, who wrote not one, but two centos in response to our final prompt.
All of this year’s posts and comments will remain up and available for your perusal, and I will leave this year’s list of participants’ site up until we begin our housecleaning early next year in anticipation of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2023 — which will be the project’s twentieth year! I can hardly believe how it’s grown since 2003, when it was just me writing poems by myself in my bedroom, to the present day, when there are participants all around the world!
I will be back later to add more to this final NaPo post.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a cento. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’d like to dig into an in-depth example, here’s John Ashbery’s cento “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated.
Today’s prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.
I enjoyed the fun of Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen’s poem, although it was Facebook – so I had to resist all temptation to catch up on there! Some of my favourite examples:
I enjoyed the scene described in Amita Paul’s poem and felt incredibly sorry for the grandmother. A very translatable scene! I have a dear memory of our own Great Aunty being wrapped up in curly chord by a then three year old great-great nephew! She was golden, just sat there and let the play happen!
while some of her progeny’s progeny and their progeny
tumble all over her in an excess of affection and youthful exuberance.
I know Okay Donkey and have them listed to submit to. I am very good at letting deadlines whoosh past and since March haven’t submitted anywhere due to life intervening the way it does and the places it leaves us in.
Old Man in the Kitchen by Audrey Hall, a poem which moved me, especially as the last one reminded me of a relative we have recently lost. The passing is heroic and Biblical, the relationship explored so succinctly.
Take the soggy reins dangling from your veiny hands away from Sunday breakfast. I do not need you to split this egg on the pan’s edge or slice this banana into circles.
splinters and brambles crowning your corpse.
A Small, Private Sadness by Amorak Huey – at least the title prepared me for the deep inhalations I knew I’d have. This poem brims with sadness and loss.
& this breeze hums your name
& pat a space next to them on the bed & the temperature falls
& out beyond the pines a great lake churns & churns.
The aisling is a poetic genre I know. I was taken by some of Maureen’s suggestions on this prompt:
a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.
Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights,
or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops.
Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves.
So my plan was to go and have a think about who my woman might be – but at the same time I am tempted to skip straight to one of these suggestions.
I came up with 5 possible women (I think I will return to the list and write an aisling for each of them in the future).
Fairly sure Bus Stops were in my head from the suggested ideas but also we have a bus station that despite several revamps ours had some of the old metal bus stands for a while. All updated now, but it amused me the gradual update and how the customer bit came after the rest.
I also have this internal conflict that I moved and lived all over for a decade and when I came back to the county, I promised myself I would live close to but not in the town I was born in. I did for several years and then I met Mr G. and the rest is history.
And today… I am going to share the whole poem!
The Waiting Lady of Green Metal Bus Stops
I used to see you half your life ago, longer – you’d sit and wait on narrow seats, head full of thought. Your frustration of lateness, your willing belief in the public transport system.
You who saw past the old, green metal bus stands and looked instead to the sweep of branches the bank of grass, who would canter over to the brook to watch water flow over stones. And read and re-read the timetable
despite knowing your schedule by heart. I watched you pick at conversations from those bus stop strangers, how the ideas would elongate in your mind, you’d carry them onto the bus
(when it eventually turned up), like precious cargo, in case you spilled a line before you reached your destination, the city of Worcester. Well, I’m still here and after you
moved away I saw other girls like you, heads full of dreams, ambitions to leave this town behind them. You always knew the pull of this place, your analogy was more a spider’s web
and trapped flies – but you see the beauty now you’ve lived in cities without stars and trees. You came back to the green, to countryside and small market towns, to urban sprawl
and this battered, old, bus terminal. You admired the new digital destination board, the ever changing roads around this space, and smiled when you saw the old, familiar bus stands. I am here to remind you
of this love. Of the attraction of home, of the importance of roots – and no matter how bad you think it’s got, at least you’re not stuck forever at the Bus Station, waiting.
SpeakEasy is finally able to offer LIVE events. We follow in the footsteps of former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Leena Batchelor and Ade Couper, Worcestershire Poet Laureate. Both Leena and Ade have been involved in and organised LIVE events throughout the pandemic. Worcester Festival managed a successful SLAM at the Swan Theatre/ Worcester Theatres back in the summer. Finally, last week WLFF joined the LIVE events listings too – after 18+ months.
The first LIVE SpeakEasy in 1.5 years… we feel that’s to be celebrated.
We don’t usually post write-ups after monthly events, but in these times and for all those who couldn’t make it – we thought it was too wonderful not to share.
So here are some incredible photos which capture all the energy of the 9th September, taken by Kevin Brooke. They ironically put us all back in little boxes.
WLFF are holding two Mental Health & Wellbeing events this year, a LIVE one on the 9th October and an ONLINE SpeakEasy on the 10th – World Mental Health Day.
It’s a chance to raise awareness of mental health through creativity but also a chance to check-in with ourselves and those around us.
The LIVE event on the 9th Oct. includes speakers and people you can talk to, find out more details here.
Poetry & Spoken Word from the Heart & Soul, Sat. 9th Oct – 4pm – Worcester Quaker Meeting House, 1 Sansome Walk, WR1 1UG
An open mic spoken word event for World Mental Health Day, featuring the 2021 Worcestershire Poet Laureate Ade Couper; a Speakeasy special; selected readings & talks from the Hard Times Happen anthology, sponsored by Time to Change Worcestershire.