Category Archives: WLF Worcester LitFest & Fringe

Review of July as WPL

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For the next year I will divide my monthly reviews into Worcestershire Poet Laureate work and everything else.


Worcestershire Poet Laureate – A Month in Review

Week 1:

Media Coverage

An article about becoming Worcestershire Poet Laureate appeared in Worcester News.

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I had my first slot with Tammy Gooding on BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio.

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I read ‘Gander’ one of my Evesham Festival of Words poems.

Suz Winspear continues to write her column for SLAP magazine and this month the passing of the Laureateship was part of her feature.

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SLAP Suz

Performances

Evesham Festival of Words – Poetry Walk

Evesham-Festival-of-Words-Image-1 I performed a set of Evesham based poems written especially for the event. I performed under the Cloisters. It was a great turn out and an enjoyable poetry stroll around the green of Evesham.

Licensed to Rhyme

This month Suz Winspear (former WPL) headlined and I appeared in a Guest Slot at Licensed to Rhyme on Monday 3rd July. Licensed to Rhyme is run by Maggie Doyle & Spoz and takes place every month at the Artrix.

Licensed to Rhyme

I was asked to do a workshop in August, but unfortunately was not available on the day. I have taken several other bookings for performances and workshops over the next few months.

Week 2:

Much of my current work as WPL is planning for future events. This week I put together a Halloween Event, an Earth Day Event, continued to organise an international poetry project and made contact with several community groups across the County.

Week 3:

Media

The story went into press.

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Projects

Submissions Open

I opened submissions to Contour (a digital magazine for my tenure). Submissions remain open until 31st August.

Copy of TRIVIA (5)

Still open for poetry and artwork – so get submitting!

Young Poet Award

I also launched a new initiative to encourage Young Poets. This is open all year – so if you know any talented youngsters under 16, nominate them for this award.

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I continued to work on the planning of a September workshop at the Jinney Ring. I met with the Events Manager and went through the finer details. I am very excited about this and bookings are now being taken.

Writing Workshop with Sculpture Trail – Jinney Ring Craft Centre

Writing Workshop with Sculptures and the Worcestershire Poet Laureate.
Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

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

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

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

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

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

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


I am really excited to make a whole project for the poets, a performance/reading and an exhibition following the workshop. Poetry for Autumn, tick!

I continued connecting to local groups and the wider community and have made several offers to spread poetry buzz. I made some new connections.

We continued to make exciting festival plans for next month.

Performances

st swithins dancefest© 2017 Kathy Gee

St. Swithun’s Church as part of Watch Out Worcester, DanceFest. This event was organised by Suz Winspear and was incredible. I felt lucky to be part of it – even though it had to be a flying visit as I was already leading and performing in an event for Artfest.

I will blog a whole write up for this event and link back here.

I also performed in St. Andrew’s Square for Artsfest and promoted other festival events, this is something I have been involved in the planning of since February, now as WPL we tagged that element in.

This brought new opportunities which I will be announcing next month.

Poetry Extravaganza – Artsfest

I brought together 9 poets to perform at Park’s Cafe. It was a successful event which deserves a blog post of its own. Link to follow.

I was also presented with my now engraved WPL award.

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© 2017 Leena Batchelor

 

Week 4:

I continued to communicate and plan the international project. Worked on marketing for the Jinney Ring Sculpture Writing Workshop, promoted WPL events. In addition organising other WPL appearances this Autumn.

Events

I was already an Artist in Residence for DAN/Artsfest, but decided now I am also WPL to be the WPL/Poet in Residence and promote both DAN & WLF.

I had an enjoyable morning at the Library (I will blog and link back). I also tested the Poetry Kit idea, which worked well and resulted in an even better idea/method for next time.

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© 2017 Peter Hawkins

I also loved one of the Poetry Kit children asking their Gran if they could use this as a party game at their Birthday Party this summer. Poetry GOLD!

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I also dropped off poetry to display at Canal Side Studios.

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And that’s about it – a quick rest before heading into August.

DAN Rhys

© 2017 Rhys Jones

July a Month in Review (all the bits that aren’t WPL) link to follow.

Review June 2017

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What a cracking, action-packed month!

Week 1:

At the end of May, I was notified of the Worcester Poet Laureate finals as I was a finalist, I still hadn’t told many people I had entered. This year our poems were not open to vote on the LitFest site and so many people didn’t know who the participants were.

But I knew. I am getting used to keeping success secret until the time comes when you can share the news. It is tricky and sometimes frustrating, but it is delightful when you can finally go public.

So after the official finalists announcement, I did just that and went public with my news. Damon Lord and Louise Reeder were the other finalists and it is a competition all of us had entered before.

Most of this week was spent preparing for the 9th (WLF Poet Laureate Final/Launch), memorising poetry and writing my brief summary of what I would do in role were I lucky enough to be awarded the position.

I also prepared for our WLF show (11th June) 30-40-60 in collaboration with Kathy Gee & Claire Walker. I had poetry film work to edit and a major software crisis. I was also co-ordinating/ organising the Open Mic section of the show.

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Thursday 1st June saw UNCORKED at Bottles, Holly Daffurn’s wonderful new vibey poetry/spoken word night. This started back in April (20th) and at the time I am sure Holly hoped to do it again, at the time she wasn’t sure if it would become a regular event. I am glad to see that it has.

The Headliners were Charley Barnes, Hannah Teesdale and Spoz. I was going to be on this bill but then Charley’s book was released and it was decided better timing for her to appear. (I am happily headlining next month.) It was a fabulous night and I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with Hannah and listening to sterling sets from all the featured artists. uncorked-june (2)

The open mic section (of which I was part) worked well too. I wish I had more time to write timely reviews, like I used to back in the day. One man who can be relied upon to do just that is Rick Sanders, re-reading his review brought it all back to me, so hopefully it will make you feel like you were there too.

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Friday night was Stanza and Saturday saw a clash of events, a pre-book Book Launch in Walsall and a editing/workshop in Cheltenham. I always go with the first booking and that was the workshop.

I was due to perform in the Stoke Newington Literature Festival for the Shabda Press launch, but was geographically not close enough to make it to London in time and after cancelling last month’s workshop, didn’t really want to do the same.

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In the end common sense won (rare result) and I headed home.

On Sunday a new event happened in Walsall – the brainchild and action of  Dave Pitt, Steve Pottinger and Emma Purshouse – Yes we Cant – they had a banner made and everything. I love the pay what you think concept and I LOVED the fact that Jonny Fluffypunk was the first headliner. I was going anyway – but when I discovered that it sealed it for sure!

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Paul Francis was the other featured guest and I have not seen him for so long. Back to full health and with a new pamphlet, an irresistible buy at only £3 and for a ruddy good cause. Breaking Point – Poems about Migration.

You can read more about the launch in Much Wenlock here.

I like regular forms – so there’s sonnets, a ballad rhymed couplets and a villanelle; and I’m not shy about political commitment. I think the Farage side of the leave campaign was despicable, and am strongly opposed to the explicit hostility to migrants which has resulted from the campaign. So there. I’m not, of course, on the front line, but Wolverhampton city of Sanctuary are, and the booklet is being sold to raise money for them. £72.00 in the first week, which is not a fortune but is better than nothing. Paul Francis © 2017

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I had a great night, the venue was packed and hot! It will be interesting to see how they configure the furniture next time, the open mic spots were enjoyed and I was lucky enough to get there in time to grab one! They had an open poetry competition, on the night 8 lines of topical story in poetic form, with a winner (Mogs, of course) and prizes and everything.

They had table decorations and a fun party atmosphere, frantically fun at times. Paul’s set was incredible powerful and thought provoking and Jonny was on TOP form! I was delighted to get to chat a bit at the end, always aware of getting in the way of new fandom for this man. I snapped up Poundland Rimbaud, his latest Burning Eye collection and chatted politics for a while (on the cusp of the election).

I had a great night and this is definitely a night I will attend again, although I have to miss Brenda Read-Brown on the 2nd July due to a festival event and a family party.

Rick mentions the banner too! https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/did-someone-mention-a-banner/

It was a wild way to end the week and leaves me wishing Walsall could be moved a little closer!


Week 2:

After a 5 day run on events, I planned to crack on with some down time pre- Worcester LitFest and apart from working and the inevitable household chore list, I managed some rest – from performing at least.

I have been so busy for the past few months that I have missed the opportunity of submitting work and things on the desk are now living in mountainous piles. My focus was the LitFest and our show 30-40-60 that allowing brainspace for anything else was almost impossible.

I had two poems published by Weasel Press in a digital anthology highlighting Domestic Abuse. degen 1 One of the poems ‘Ripped’ was written this year during NaPoWriMo, the other ‘Statues in Stone’ is a poem I have tinkered with for years.

On Friday the 7th Worcester LitFest kicked off with the Launch and Poet Laureate Final at Worcester Racecourse, just thinking back makes me feel exhausted. There is so much tension and anxiety caused by putting yourself through any competition, but one with these stakes… well.

I thoroughly enjoyed the new venue, I couldn’t enjoy the bar and nibbles as I had work to do and much as I managed to circulate and converse the thrilling excitement everyone else was experiencing was just like nauseating sea-sickness in my mind and stomach.

The Young Writers Competition entries were read and those teens had so much talent I bet there was not a person in the room who didn’t consider hanging up their pen! The 3 winning flash fiction entries were also celebrated before us finalists took to the floor with our poems and promises.

In case you have missed social media for the past 3 weeks… I won! Delighted.

Read more about it https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/worcestershire-poet-laureate-final/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/worcestershire-poet-laureate-201718/

https://journalread.com/2017/06/16/congratulations-nina-lewis-worcestershire-poet-laureate-2017-2/

PL Suz Winspear – Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Nina Lewis and Steve Wilson – County Arts Officer.

For up to date information and all things Worcestershire/Poetry check out my Laureate blog here.

Saturday was a tough day – after the excitement of becoming the new Poet Laureate, I had 3 hours sleep and journeyed into Birmingham to the University for the National Writers Conference, organised by Writing West Midlands.

This used to be called the Writers Toolkit, I haven’t been since 2014. Tickets are fairly pricey but completely worth the investment. If you do the sums, (three break out sessions, 2 key-note speakers, priceless networking opportunities, lunch, refreshments and performances are all included in the ticket price AND a goody bag) – it does not feel unreasonably high. This year as I am in Room 204 a free ticket is one of the many perks of the development programme and only 3 hours sleep was NOT going to stop me attending.

I had a wonderful day, met a few new people and reconnected with poet/writer friends. It was lovely to snatch brief conversations with a few of the keynote speakers before they rushed off to Welshpool Literature Festival, I will write a designated post next month and link it back to here. Too much to say in a review paragraph. Needless to say, loved the whole event and got some things out of it. It felt very different to the first time.

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I managed a couple of hours at home before my first OFFICIAL engagement as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

Night at the Museum III – Suz Winspear – Poet in Residence at the Porcelain Museum, Matt Windle – Birmingham Poet Laureate, Oakley – Young Poet Laureate of Worcestershire, Chloe Clarke – Former Young Poet Laureate Worcestershire and myself performed sets of poetry before Suz launched her new Worcester Porcelain pamphlet – The Aniseed Elite. https://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/product/pamphlet-2/

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It was a fabulous night of top notch poetry from a talented bunch of poet laureates, a pleasure to be part of and I felt very special. My set included my two finalists poems ‘Lit Up’ (on the theme of Voice) and ‘Tasseomancy’. A less nervous performance of both.

Sunday was filled with preparation for our debut showing of 30-40-60 at the LitFest, another incredible, adrenaline fuelled evening of poetry and pleasure.

Read all about it https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/30-40-60/

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WEEK 3:

I started promoting 30-40-60, before the show I had sent press releases out in the hope of future festival bids, after hearing the audience reaction I was spurred on to get something concrete organised for 2018.

I also started Laureateship work, traditionally the Poet Laureate has a local radio slot (BBC Hereford & Worcester), Suz put me in touch with the contact and my first radio interview is on 3rd July. The past Laureates have been strong and I want to build on their success, continuing work where the foundations have been laid as well as building new poetry constructs is all part of my mission.

I organised a poetry performance and picnic at an established event ‘SALT KING 200’ at the Chateau Impney – in celebration of John Corbett and put a call out for poetry submissions for a Refugee Anthology, World Refugee Day/ Refugee Awareness Week.

I also created a dedicated WPL blog and email account. I have a feeling I will need both this year!

Worcester LitFest was in full swing and I attended and performed at 42 Festival Special, which featured the Anti-Poet and was an anarchy driven night of high spirits and the following night SpeakEasy with Pete the Temp, which was also the evening Suz and I did the official hand over and had a few more photos taken of the now engraved WPL award!

Handover

I hope to create a dedicated blog post for more details in review of the 7th Worcester LitFest – keep your eyes peeled!

I also received a couple of gifts, a wooden ‘Laureate’s Nook’ sign from Mr G. for my Book Nook (to be created) and a folder with a certificate from Maggie Doyle Poet Laureate Emeritus.

After performing my Grenfell Tower poem at 42 (the reaction it got), I decided it was necessary to share it on social media. I later decided to send it to Reuben Woolley at I Am Not A Silent Poet. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/sudden-emptiness-by-nina-lewis/ He kindly published it.

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WEEK 4:

Laureate wise – I produced the poetry collection for World Refugee Day (20th) https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/world-refugee-day-in-poetry/ showcasing established, emerging and beginner poets – Local, National & International poets represented. I was amazed by the response and with just 48 hours from call out to end result – it is a fine collective of voices. Strong points that need to be heard and should be made.

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I also promoted National Writing Day NationalWritingDay_Featured (1) and performed at the final WLF Fringe event for the 2017 Festival – Words on Water – A Midsummer celebration of poetry and prose on the banks of the River Severn. It was an excellent evening and this year even saw a stop off for a much needed rest (it was during the heatwave) and rehydration at the Diglis Hotel. An addition the whole team agree to repeat next year. I will write more about it in my LitFest round up review next month.

At the beginning of the week when my recent win was not the wide-spread news it is now – I was invited to perform at a well established Poetry Festival later this year!

I had a 10 minute Guest Spot at Licensed to Rhyme at the Artrix – the night is run by Maggie Doyle & Spoz.

licensed-to-rhyme

I worked on a couple of projects I am currently involved with. Spent an afternoon at Croome Court as preparation for the Adam Speak Project (Room 204) with 9 other poets.

On Friday evening I ventured back to Birmingham to Waterstones (seems like ages), for Three Midland Poets a night with Nichola Deane, Rich Goodson and Charles G Lauder Jr.

I loved all of their performances and always enjoy meeting, hearing and reading new-to-me-poets. I ended up buying all three books thanks to some (intentionally) hidden handbag book money! It was a great night and despite being exceptionally tired, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

https://www.list.co.uk/event/788728-three-midlands-poets/

I also had an open mic spot and was able to share my Laureate poems as practise for next week’s Headline spot (booked back in April).

Saturday saw my final Writing West Midlands Spark Writers Group for this academic year.

Sunday was a day of rest… of course it wasn’t! I had organised the Poetry Performance and Picnic at SALT KING 200 which was a good event and I will blog about it in more detail next month.

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Design by Rosie Philpott.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/salt-king-200-with-added-poetry/

WEEK 5: 

The extra bit – I finally sat at my desk long enough to consider submissions and writing, for the first time in months. I have been busy with shows, festival events, organising and promoting – which is all well and good but sometimes a poet just wants to write. It felt good. Like the cleanse of the first wash after a long-distance trip.

I even managed a submission!

I heard back from Editors, long awaited Leonard Cohen Anthology response and am delighted that my poem ‘Shadow Line’ will be published in Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, more news on that soon. I love signing poetry contracts before work, that will never grow old as a brilliant way to start the morning!

I contacted local media/newspapers about WPL (Worcestershire Poet Laureate) and enjoyed a 2nd influx of messages.

Earlier this month there was talk of both a festival booking possibility and a dedicated one off poetry day/event with publishers. Both things came to fruition – and guess what – they are planned for the same day! Of course I will do both!

I had my first headline gig for a while, featured poet at Spoken Trend in Kings Norton (Weds 28th). A great night and plenty of new to the mic poets and first timers at the event. Tom McCann did himself proud and Tom Crossland was the god of memorised words! 18156973_234039340410245_5610446431448437883_n I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. Some fabulous open mic slots, plenty of featured artists amongst them.

SPOKEN TREND One of those nights you wish you could repeat, straight away!

And to complete my month there is a meeting taking place later (30th) about a current project and Stanza this evening, where I plan to take a current project poem along for editing advice!

What a glorious month of sun, heat and poetry!

Copy of Music Festival Poster Template

 

 

Quick Splash Update

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Diving into the Fountain for a quick splash, reblog and update!

Coming up soon: Review WLF (Worcester LitFest), which finished on the 18th June.

Review Laureate projects and other exciting events & news: Headlines, Featured Artists, Festivals, publications/published, commissions and a couple of projects I am working on.

There is so much happening over the next fortnight.

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30-40-60

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Back in 2015 I dreamed of my pamphlet being published at the same time as Claire Walker’s, we have talked of many collaborative readings and ideas. By the time 2016 rolled around, my head was filled with firm ideas of collaborating, by 2017 there was somewhat of a larger idea forming.

I had a concrete plan and all I needed was acceptance. I approached Kathy Gee and Claire Walker, two poets who are also published by V. Press. I was delighted when they both agreed to my idea and I swiftly put in an application for Worcester LitFest (WLF).

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We waited until our place in the programme was confirmed before we set to work on this project. I am from a performance background and know only too well the unseen hours of work and rehearsal. What I loved about our meetings was the fluidity in which we found ourselves working. There is nothing better than a positive environment with like-minded people to stoke the fires and like an Olympic torch ours kept burning!

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We all know each other’s poetry and have each other’s books on our shelves, so placing our work together was not too difficult, cutting it down to a running order size was a fair challenge – thank goodness we all know how to kill our darlings.

Once we had organised the poetry we then played (and I mean that verb) with the sequence until we were all satisfied with the show. Then the real fun began with read through, deciding where the combined voices worked best.

I had started work on the multimedia element before we were accepted for WLF as I was convinced this performance would happen at some point, somewhere. I know from making poetry films last year (Fragile Houses) that media and editing is painstakingly time consuming. I also know that when you LOVE what you do, work never feels like work.

Eventually we brought voice and film together and rehearsed and altered the show.

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And what a show it was.

A    M    A    Z    I    N    G!

We are very proud our show was one of the best-selling festival events, we did some point specific marketing and believe that the tireless work of the WLF team and The Hive (Worcester Library/Venue) advertising in the What’s On at The Hive programme helped in this success!

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There were plenty of people we did not know as well as good friends and supporters. It was a fabulous night! We hope to tour it next year. Catch us if you can.

Photography Elaine Christie© 2017

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Nina Lewis  – Introducing the Poets:

Elaine Christie

BL RH Elaine

Rangzeb © 2015

Nigel Hutchinson

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Neil Richards

Neil Richards EC

Belinda Rimmer

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Rick Sanders

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Suz Winspear

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Paul Wooldridge

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Kate Weatherby

Open Mic EC

Followed by our 40 minute show exploring the various stages of life through womanhood.

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Huge thanks to Kathy Gee for providing some of the media clips, projectors, scripts, folders and the programmes! For Claire Walker who had the wonderful idea of incorporating the open mic element. To the audience for having faith and to our open mic performers for beginning such a cracking night!

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Really enjoyable evening, the interweaving of voices – both actual and literary – worked extremely well. Video backdrop a unifying element. -Nigel

Fantastic evening, the show should go on the road, really enjoyable, and the three poets really worked as a performance. -Neil

A gorgeous night tonight! Brilliant poetry presented in a way I’ve never seen before! -Suz

Such a pleasure. Spellbinding poetry and a beautiful backdrop of images. Thanks for lovely evening. -Kathy A

30-40-60 is a triumph. A splendid performance from spectacular poets. Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and Nina Lewis were exquisite. Wonderful! –Kieran

A lovely evening at the Hive with Worcester LitFest and the wonder 30-40-60. When it comes back it’s a Do Not Miss. -Anne

Poetry perfection, wonderful. – Maggie

The poetry found so many points of connection. Beautiful. -Belinda

Rick Sanders reviewed the show (Related Links) – here are some soundbites. Thanks to Rick for the review and feedback.

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing 30 – 40 – 60 at the Hive in Worcester, one of a myriad of events taking place as part of the Worcestershire Litfest. The show is the brainchild of poets Claire Walker, Nina Lewis and Kathy Gee and it explores the works of all three poets through a connected narrative and visual accompaniment.

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Some pieces are solo readings, while others combine the voices of all three poets in acoustic harmony, which is different and rarely seen in poetry performance. 

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an engaging and highly entertaining piece of performance art.

A must see if 30 – 40 – 60 pops up again in a town near you…

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RELATED LINKS:

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/30-40-60/

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… distinctive voicing to a beautiful narrative, which is complimented in turn by the visuals being displayed behind the readers. As an audience you get to see and hear two things at once, adding to the imagery of the spoken word and layering another context to the poems. It’s a clever use of multimedia and works well in the overall effect. -Rick

PERFORMANCE BIOS 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/30-40-60-open-mic-poets/

Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18

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Yes, it is me!

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Pictured – Suz Winspear Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2016/17, Nina Lewis & Steve Wilson – County Arts Development Officer.

Kieran Davis © 2017

Worcestershire Poet Laureate Final

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Towards the end of May I received the news that I had made it to the final of the Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition. There were three finalists, myself, Damon Lord and Louise Reeder.

WLF Holly Magill©2017

I spent the first few hours twirling around with excitement at being a finalist. ‘That’s a win, right there!’ commented a poet I know. She was right. This alone is an achievement and one we should all be proud of.

I decided not to make it public when I sent my entry earlier on in the year, the poetry network being what it is some people who know how to read me, guessed. I still didn’t go public. Once the finalists had been officially announced  https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/05/30/and-the-worcestershire-poet-laureate-finalists-are/ I went public – but the Nation as a whole was understandably focused on the Election by then, which continues as the main social media topic now.

The week I discovered the news was a fully booked one with Stourbridge Library – Jo Bell & Roy McFarlane, Uncorked with Charley Barnes, Spoz and Hannah Teasdale, Stanza on Friday and a workshop in Cheltenham on Saturday – Stoke Newington Literature Festival and Shabda Press reading had to be cancelled as I did not have enough hours to make the journey in time and the Sunday night was Yes, We Cant in Walsall with Jonny Fluffypunk – poetry heroes aplenty. I thoroughly enjoyed myself but in the back of my mind my competition poems were stirring. I decided to give myself the 2nd week of June off from poetry events and other writing to concentrate on the poems.

I missed Stirchley Speaks – the 2nd birthday and a good night – but I did spend that particularly evening enjoying the summer house clear out Mr. G. had worked his socks off on, got drenched in the downpour and read my poems through a few times. I learnt them by heart. I spent Election day waiting in for a fridge and reciting lines. I voted on my way back from work – don’t you worry!

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Tonight after a haircut (much needed), I headed to the Racecourse for the final. I arrived about 40 mins early – the Friday night traffic I had predicted came later. I am never early and with a tummy full of butterflies this was not easy.

The evening itself was the LAUNCH of Worcester LitFest – all the finalists had an informal interview with the 5 judges and then we watched/heard the talented competition winners. The Young Writers read their entries, followed by the winning Flash Fiction entries.

There were quality performances by Matt Windle – Birmingham Poet Laureate – who MCed the event, Oakley Flanagan – Young Poet Laureate and Suz Winspear – who has just completed her tenure as Worcestershire Poet Laureate. Matt performed followed by the finalists and Oakley and Suz performed after the judging and before the winner was announced.

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Damon Lord, Louise Reeder and I had all entered the competition  before. This doesn’t prevent nerves or anxiety. Everyone performed their poems well. This year there was no public vote so we hadn’t seen or heard each other’s poems before. Another addition this year was to give a brief outline of what you hoped to achieve as Poet Laureate should you be the fortunate winner. I really wish I had typed mine because the ill-ordered scribble was hard to deliver cohesively! It was also difficult not to have every politicians mucked up manifesto in my mind as I delivered my hopes.

My happy news is that I am the Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2017/18!

My first official engagement is tomorrow night, The Night at The Museum III with Suz Winspear, Matt Windle and Chloe Clarke. It starts at 7:30 PM see the link for programme/ ticket information – £5 a festival fiver is what you pay.

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2017/

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Of course, I am off to National Writers Conference first, in about 7 hours! Matt Windle is performing there too.

 

 

Poetry Ballroom

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the Poetry Ballroom!

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

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

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

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

Poetry Ballroom

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

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

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

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

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Suz opened the event,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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With kind permission from DanceFest/ Worcester LitFest

Photography Clare Wood/DanceFest © 2017


The poets

Polly Stretton

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

Nina Lewis

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

Holly Magill

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

Kevin Brooke

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

Math Jones 

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

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The dancers

Dancefest Elevate Junior Youth Dance Company

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

Chance to Dance Company

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

DFA (Dancefest Adults)

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

The choreographers

Janene Wyatt

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

Marie Oldaker

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

Clare Wood

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

DanceFest © 2017

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

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

 

Working on a Poetry Show 30-40-60

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Back in 2016 I was already planning collaborations to promote my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’, published by V. Press.

This year I had the opportunity to organise events for festivals and two of these included this body of work. Stourbridge Literature Festival saw a straight reading of pamphlets and collections that I organised with fellow V. Press published poets: David Calcutt, Kathy Gee & Claire Walker. It was fun to do and we sold a couple of books.

The next bid I placed was with Worcester LitFest, although I have been aware of the festival and participated in various events since 2014, I had never discovered the bidding stage. I wrote a synopsis for a collaborative reading.

We heard that our application had been successful in March and set to work on developing the show 30-40-60.

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We have had several meetings to script and rehearse the poetry side of things and have developed film work to enhance the experience, as well as promoting the show in hope of ticket sales. It is a something we hope to repeat at other festivals/events in the future as there has been an incredible amount of groundwork put in.

It has been one of the most pleasurable projects so far this year. The 3 hour meetings fly by and we have our fingers crossed now that we can make it a success.

30-40-60

Worcester LitFest runs from 9th – 18th June and as you can see 30-40-60 is billed for the 11th June, do come along if you can make it to The Hive, tickets are a festival fiver and if you want to perform poetry, sign up for the open mic beforehand by emailing us at 304060[at]mail.com

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Litfest A5 Programme 2017 30-40-60 page

Earth Hour with WLF

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Earth Hour is something I discovered the year after I started writing. It celebrated 10 years on the 25th March and is such a great cause.

earth hour As ever, social media profiles could be changed to show you were supporting the campaign. The idea of which is globally at 8:30 to switch off and experience the world, raising awareness for climate change and technically doing a small part to conserve energy for 60 minutes at least. Mr G always keeps the lounge in darkness and the lack of lamplight usually affects me but after coming home from the Earth Hour event, it was quite pleasant to accept the dark.

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Major monuments around the world have power cut, tea-lights are lit and people think about the planet.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-39396407

https://www.earthhour.org/

C20DA54B-D4E1-4596-BAB8-7B75557565F8There are plenty of events you can find and in Worcester the WLF (Worcester LitFest) team always provide an evening of Earth Hour entertainment. In previous years I have been double booked and unable to attend, but got the date set in my diary at the beginning of the year this time.

I am a hippie at heart, so this evening appealed to me on many levels.

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It was a fabulous evening of poetry, music and food. Earth Hour had a really good turn out and plenty of audience celebrating the campaign and enjoying the night from WLF. The room was packed. WP_20170325_029As stated at the bottom of the programme, there were some changes to the printed running order. It was actually Mark Kilburn who kicked off the evening with poetry. I am a fan of Mark’s work and shared headline slots with him a few years ago. Always a pleasure to listen to.

Mark Kilburn was born in Birmingham and lived for a number years in Scandinavia before returning to the West Midlands in 2004. Between 1994-6 he was writer in residence at the City Open Theatre, Arhus, Denmark, and in 2002 was a recipient of the Canongate prize for new fiction.

Between 2004 and 2005, Mark was on attachment at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and in 2012 his poem about the London riots, Milton Friedman Talks Disaster Capitalism in a Burning Hackney Diner, won the AbcTales.com poetry competition.

Most recently, Ballad of a Claret and Blue Boy, a poem celebrating Aston Villa, was featured across the club’s digital media prior to the 2015 FA Cup final. Mark’s novel, Hawk Island, is available from electronpress.com

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Next we had the joy that is Kieran Davis a.k.a BaldyPoet, I love the poem about his daughter waking early, I have heard it a few times and it always makes me smile.

Kieran lives in Worcester with his wife and children, he is a chef and writes whenever possible. Published in many anthologies and magazines, Kieron has made several appearances in Carillon magazine.

A keen advocate for writers and the written word, Kieran supports local events when able. He is a member of Worcester Writers’ Circle, a diverse group of highly talented individuals, who have helped hone his craft. He is currently editing his first novel.

https://kdavisfanclub.wordpress.com/

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After this Paul Jeffrey treated us to some music and slipped a couple of poems in too. It was good to have some music.

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Jenny Hope (an avid participant in Earth Hour events) treated us to one amazing poem. It was so good to see Jenny again and hear her work. Particularly loved her surreal bee poem.

Jenny Hope is a writer, poet, editor, creative workshop leader and facilitator. She started writing when she was six, and had fallen in love with books and all their possibilities. Her poetry has appeared in Envoi, Ink, Sweat and Tears, T he Interpreter’s House, Obsessed by Pipework, and The Rialto.

Her collection, Petrolhead, was published in January 2010 by Oversteps Books, Devon. She delivers creative writing workshops, for schools, festivals, communities and care homes. She is based in and around the West Midlands area of the UK.

http://www.jennyhope.co.uk/index.htm

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After this Alan Durham took the floor. Treating us to poetry and gentle smiles. I always enjoy listening to his crafted work and watching the happiness performing it brings him. WP_20170325_027

Then Holly Duffurn treated us ‘From Russia With Love’- it has been ages since I saw her headline at Stirchley Speaks, Birmingham. She has been hidden away working on her book, ‘The Natural Baby’ now published by Green Books. But she is back now and hitting the poetry scene by storm once more.

Author of non-fiction titles for ecological publishing house Green Books/Columnist for Green Parent magazine/Award-winning travel writer/Performance poet with work commissioned by Apples and Snakes & CAGED, and exhibited at ‘We’re Here’ as part of Brighton Pride /Published in numerous magazines, anthologies and literary journals.

Explore this site to find out about my books, freelance writing projects and poetry.

https://hollydaffurn.com/

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And to take us to the interval and the switch off was Holly’s daughter, Jasmine Duffurn playing the Ukulele. My foot was tapping the whole time. 10/10 for bravery!

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Café Bliss was then lit by candles and fairylights for the EARTH HOUR and we all tucked in to the amazing Belizean food from Eloina Bliss and Amanda Hickling. Enjoyed by all!

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I snapped all the photos on my out of date mobile, hence the grainy quality – but this one was intentionally blurred to save anyone the embarrassment of being caught mid-eating! As well as gorgeous food this interval gave us a chance to chat to one another and catch up, which is always a bonus at events.

WP_20170325_034 This was all that was left and that was soon polished off too! Tostadas, garnachas and salbutes. Divine! 17362387_295494280868661_7566950351092114502_n

After the interval we started back just before the end of the Earth Hour, with the raffle, where one lucky winner won the WWF Panda bear!

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It was still Earth Hour when I performed my set so I performed with fairylight. Which apart from some small print was not a problem. (I had taken my reading torch anyway…)

I filled my set with ‘green poetry’ work about Nettles (written for Fair Acre Press), my poem about the American Bag Ladies who crochet street mats for the Homeless and my ‘Universe’ poems from Restless Bones and due to Martin telling me to be relaxed on timing and having at least 30 seconds of set remaining, I slipped in ‘Seduction of Elsewhere’ from my pamphlet Fragile Houses. One of my particular favourites in this collection.

WP_20170325_040 It was then decided to keep the lights off, magical.

I was followed by Holly Daffurn and her ‘Family Band’ – their Beatles rendition was wonderful and had the room singing along. Talented musicians this lot!

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Polly Stretton came next, sticking to theme. There wasn’t actually a theme but some of us had chosen pieces that related globally to the world or environment. Polly had worked hard on a recycling poem written to form. Which I thought was brilliant.

Polly Stretton is a poet and writer, a member of Worcester Writers’ Circle and a director of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. She has performed her poetry at spoken word events such as Worcester SpeakEasy, 42 Worcester, Mouth & Music, and at The Poetry Place in Covent Garden. Her writing has been published in many anthologies. Polly released the first edition of Girl’s Got Rhythm in 2012.

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Tim Stavert wore his hat so as not to be confused as Baldypoet and entertained us with his poetry.

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And FINALLY Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear completed a wonderful evening with her dynamic performance. Suz finished her set with one of my favourite poems from ‘that trip’ – Saint Johann, which is a comic rhyming poem. The audience joined in spontaneously too. A great way to finish the night.

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/tag/suz-winspear/

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Hats off to Martin Driscoll who organises this event every year, 2017 was spectacular. A triumph. The lights came up and I managed to capture this photo of Martin looking gleeful!

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