Category Archives: WLF Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018

Festival by the River – LitFest Take Over

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Yesterday was wonderful, Cat Roberts has organised an amazing programme for The Ring Project. The stage is incredible – so amazing I want to buy it – if only I had space to store it! ring prog

Walking down to South Quay I spotted the glorious stage mimicking the ripple of water. I couldn’t wait to jump up on it!

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It was great to meet Cat in person and everything was smoothly organised. Peter Sutton and I had great fun.

I hadn’t expected much of an audience with this being outdoors, I thought it would be fairly transitional, but we had a good number, more than 20 at some points, with people stopping to sit on benches up towards the Church and the steps in front of the stage and I needn’t have rehearsed my set for timings because the clock chimes every quarter! Of course it was perfectly timed.

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My set was a mixture of water poems (some newly penned for the Take Over event), Fragile Houses poems, a few written for the Elgar Fundraiser with Peter Sutton last November and a couple of the new Festival (WLF) poems thrown in for good measure.

There were positive responses from the audience and I loved watching the tactile nature of the stage coming into play at the same time there were performances on it. So many people (not just children) coming and touching the sides. This is part of what NEON (Designers) do, they encourage our playful nature.

Mesmerising sequins, I only wish I had known and I would have dressed appropriately!

Huge thanks to Peter Sutton (WPL Finalist & Runner Up) who performed two wonderful sets brimming with Elgar, the Malverns and everything between. There will be more photos following, including some of Peter’s performance.

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And a huge thanks to Cat Roberts for the concept of LitFest Take Over.

 

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Into The Ring

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I spent last night writing poems about water. I am lucky enough to be performing on the South Quay today in Worcester, as part of the WLF Take Over.

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The Ring is a 6 month project commissioned by the Canal & River Trust to celebrate the 21 mile circle of natural and historic waterways in Worcestershire. Over the past year writers, artists, musicians, historians and ecologists have all collaborated to produce New Art on the waterways.

The Ring Festival by the River runs from 15-24th June, the Weorgoran Pavilion has popped up at the South Quay and will host a vibrant programme of Literature, Music, Dance & Workshops. Over 20 FREE events.

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Peter Sutton (WPL Runner up 2018) and myself will be performing from 12-1 PM today. Our sets include lots of Worcester/River/Canal poems in celebration of this project.

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The Ring’s Weorgoran Pavilion Festival

Award-winning art, architecture and design studio NEON has created an amazing stage, especially for Worcester. It’s part of The Ring, a Canal & River Trust ‘Arts on the Waterways’ project celebrating a 21-mile circle of natural and historic waterways in Worcestershire.

The Weorgoran Pavilion takes its inspiration, and its name, from the Saxon origins of the name Worcester and its translation, “the people of the winding river”. It’s the venue for a free family-friendly festival featuring a soundscape by acclaimed Ledbury born musician Dave Crowe, which plays at selected times.
Bring something to sit on, indulge in a tasty treat from local sellers and enjoy yourself!
Check our other events for the programme on each day of the festival.

On DAY 2 of The Ring’s Weorgoran Pavilion Festival:

Listen to Dave Crowe’s soundscape, Shire Skies each day at these times: 11:00, 13:00, 17:00 & 21:05.

12:00-13:00 Litfest Takeover featuring Nina Lewis & Worcestershire Poet Laureate Finalist Peter Sutton.

15:00-16:15 RSVP Bhangra – bhangra workshop and performance

18:30-17:30 Hotsteppas

20:00-21:00 Matuki

12:00 Litfest Takeover
We’re delighted to welcome The LitFest & Fringe to our Weorgoran Pavilion festival: their performances will feature featuring Nina Lewis & WPL Runner Up Peter Sutton!

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Artist Lucy McLauchlan

 
15:00-16:15 RSVP Bhangra
Bhangra workshop and performance
Book a free ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-weorgoran-pavilion-rsvp-bhangra-workshop-tickets-44648999359
RSVP Bhangra has developed a unique dance workshop, which incorporates an engaging and balanced mixture of gentle instruction and good fun that encourages people of all ages, and from all cultures and backgrounds, to participate in Bhangra dancing. Dildar and Judge explain the origins of Bhangra dance and take the crowd through a number of typical Bhangra dance steps.
RSVP also offers dhol drumming workshops. Master dhol-player Jeevan presents an interactive session introducing the background of Bhangra music, involving the participants in creating the distinctive rhythms that underpin those iconic Bhangra beats. The workshops are great fun and are enjoyed by people of all ages
It’s all very light-hearted, and in no time at all the entire crowd – from grandparents to grandkids and everyone in between – will be up and dancing and really enjoying themselves

18:30-17:30 Hotsteppas
Hailing from Bristol, Hotsteppas are an energetic 8-piece Reggae band who always deliver an exciting live show. Originally formed by three Reggae Soundsystem crews – Hotsteppas offer a Roots Reggae sound infused with a modern Dub edge and a sprinkling of Funk and Latin influence.

20:00-21:00 Matuki
Fusing traditional afro-beat sounds with some heavy doses of contemporary urban funk, Matuki is a 12 piece Afro- Beat/ Afro- Funk band who immediately win their audiences over with sizzling horns, tuff bass-lines, interlocking guitars & soaring vocals. Led by master drummer and lead vocalist, Abraham Ebou, they released their debut album, Injo, in March this year. It has jazz & psychedelic influences too, resulting in mesmerising tunes with heavyweight horn lines. Matuki have played at Glastonbury, Shambala and their home city of Bristol’s, Colston Hall.

For further event info, head to our website: 
https://theringart.org.uk/events/weorgoran-pavilion-festival-saturday-16-june/

 

WLF 2018 SpeakEasy Special

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So the world goes World Cup Mad but here we are, all about the Poetry!

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So the amazing monthly Poetry night SpeakEasy (usually held on the 2nd Thursday of the month) does a Festival Special. It was held at Worcester Arts Workshop and I only knew of one cellar area – like the Cavern and wondered how they were ever going to fit the band in… well, I needn’t have worried because there was another area (now the theatre part makes sense). The stage was fully kitted out ready for the Dub Thieves in the 2nd half and a Poet’s mic was placed on the step, central to the stage – preventing us from impromptu sessions on the instruments. (As if Poets misbehave!)

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The first half of the night was book-ended in the traditional way of outgoing Laureate (who could that be?) and new Poet Laureate with a plethora of performers in between including some prose and a former Poet Laureate too. A truly, special evening hosted by the marvellous Charley Barnes (one of the LitFest Directors).

There will be more photos to follow, but here is a taster.

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I kicked off the evening with a 10 minute set, I included a poem I wrote for Credo, as it has been a year since Grenfell and although a Festival Special may not appear to the right place for such a poem, I spent my journey listening to the news of the silent walks and ceremonies being held for the first anniversary in memory of the 72 who lost their lives. I also included some new writing, poems I have written over the past few months and finished a fairly serious set with the poem written especially for WLF 2018, for Suz Winspear’s Night at the Museum IV ‘Art Attack’.

Stevie Quick performed a dramatic set including poems about Newton and Thank You Mr Donald. Kevin Brooke apologised for bringing prose to a poetry gig but definitely didn’t need to apologise for the prose, a war story from WW1. Fay Whitfield made her SpeakEasy debut with a stunning set, Sometimes I’m Not Okay was moving and her political poem Skin packed a punch. Tim Stavert performed a poem based on the WPL ‘Future echoes’ theme, his poem Stresses had important things to say about Mental Health. James Burr brought more prose. As a performing artist, I loved Man on the Street. Neil Richards performed several short poems and an emotionally charged poem inspired by ‘Burial’ by Cathy Linh Che.

Then came more Poets Laureate. Suz Winspear treated us to 3 new poems, including some she had written about the canal especially for her Weorgoran Pavilion Festival event on Tuesday 19th June. I loved her poem about the Theatrical Boarding House for actors from the Worcester Theatre Royal.

The first half was closed by the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Betti Moretti. We were treated to a 10 minute set which included her winning poems and amongst others: A Napple a Day, 13 and Genetic Wealth, which is a beautiful poem. A heartfelt and superb set.

And before she had chance to leap off the step Charley presented me with her newly engraved WPL Award and Betti and I had the handover photos. There will never be a serious photo shoot if Betti and I have anything to do with it. I cannot wait to see what we have come up with this time!

The SpeakEasy Special was fantastic fun and a band to finish the night, was perfect. The Dub Thieves were a great band, amazing. They transported the Worcester Arts Workshop to somewhere far away, there was dancing, singing and even some writing. Lots of chatter and laughter… like someplace else I know…

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That is nearly it from me for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. I do have one final performance at the Weorgoran Pavilion Festival on Saturday 16th from 12 – 1 PM.

Peter Sutton (WPL 2018 Runner Up) and I will be taking to the stage to share our Worcester poems and more.

 

WLF 2018 The 42 Festival Special

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42 is a regular monthly feature of the Worcester calendar, featuring prose, poetry and everything between. Currently run by Polly Stretton and hosted by her and a range of Guest MCs, it is normally held on the last Wednesday of the month at Drummonds.

The festival special last year was one of the most popular nights – featuring The Antipoet. They are back again for 2018 and we are delighted.

The theme for open mic sets was Bewitched Worcestershire Inn and despite a tiny bit of research after last night’s event at the Museum, I did not have a chance to pen a poem in advance. So after a whistle stop agenda between work and the gig I managed some scribbles. One of the scribbles turned out okay.


The Antipoet performance was stupendous (as expected)! They entertained us for over an hour and they were also there for the Launch of their book! Yes, a BOOK this year rather than an album. A book with 2 FREE DVDs.

If you have never caught their show, I urge you to do so – they are phenomenal!

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© Damon Lord

More photos to follow.

DOES MY BASS LOOK BIG IN THIS?

C:/Users/HP/Documents/Writing Projects/Black Pear/Does My Bass/D The story of the first ten years of The Antipoet, told in the inimitable style of Paul Eccentric. Published by Black Pear Press.

http://www.theantipoet.co.uk/


The 2nd half was packed with 42 performances (as in ’42’ the night and not forty-two performances)! Stories and poems based on the theme and beyond.

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There were a couple more performers – more photos coming soon!

It was a superb night. Thoroughly 42!

 

WLF 2018 Night at the Museum IV

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A Night at The Museum

is always a great event for WLF. In recent years organised by Suz Winspear (Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2016-17) and Poet in Residence at Royal Worcester (2016-18).

The night included many poets laureate, including former Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke, who is now at university.

Featuring the Museum’s Poet-in-Residence Suz Winspear and friends, including the former Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke, Worcestershire’s current Young Poet Laureate Rachel Evans and the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis.

There is also a chance to have a private view of the newly-refurbished galleries of the Museum of Royal Worcester and to enjoy an evening of poetry.

A plethora of poets, including Worcestershire Poets Laureate and Young Poets Laureate past and present, will be performing their work, and Suz will showcase her new poetry inspired by a year’s work in the museum’s archives, discovering its remarkable collection of rare nineteenth century Japanese books, illustrations and photographs.

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I spent Monday night working on my set. It included ‘Art’ based poetry from 2017, my Royal Worcester competition poem ‘The Unfading Cornflower’ – which won 2nd place in 2016 when Suz created her WPL competition with the Museum, as well as poems written during NaPoWriMo 2018 and a new piece which started in historic Royal Worcester research and ended in L.A!

It was fun to try to create a new piece of work for this event.

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The night was magical. An adventure around the newly refurbished Museum plus hours of wonderful poetry. Royal Worcester was always a Museum with heart, I loved the old place – but now, it is shiny, modern & inviting and hasn’t lost any of the original charm. I arrived in time to explore, Suz organised a half hour interval to allow the audience Museum time.

The porcelain is well lit and is really shown off amongst complimenting colours and new interactive displays. I particularly love the 70s kitchen. It is definitely family friendly and ready for the 21st Century. Do go and visit. (Details below.) And I think, especially for us there was a display of some of the Archive photos alongside Suz’s poems.

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The night was opened by Suz Winspear and then Worcestershire YPL Rachel Evans shared a couple of her poems including the winning YPL poem. Despite exam time she joined us all for a night of poetry, true dedication and a delight to watch perform again.

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Then I shared my Art set,

the new poem ‘Art Attack’ went down well and got more laughs than I had expected.

Next Chloe Clarke took to the floor – we have not seen each other since LakeFest, 10 months ago! It was a joy to hear Chloe’s poems again and her self-assured performance was a treat and her Key poem, just funny & fabulous! It was lovely to reconnect.

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To finish the first half, our new Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Betti Moretti treated us to her winning poems and one from her first WPL Final (where she came 2nd) and more besides.

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This was Betti’s first official WLF/WPL event although she did have a Guest Spot Monday at Licensed to Rhyme. Betti is in that early onset whirlpool stage of being bombarded with all things Laureate. It was a great set and thoroughly enjoyed!

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After our extended interval where we all went to view the museum and Chloe and I fell in love with the big chair…

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Suz Winspear performed the 2nd half. A half hour of poetry from the Porcelain Museum Archives. It was brilliant hearing the history and her residency experience first hand and she set our minds to places before sharing the connected poetry which made us all feel that we had been with her when she made discoveries in the books that cannot be displayed.

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I loved her poems and hearing about her research and experiences was enchanting. I know Suz has a deep affiliation with Japan and all things Japanese so this interconnection has been thrilling for her.

It was a superb evening! I am still on a LitFest high!

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Visit Royal Worcester

royal worcs  £5.50/£6.50 – children under 15 FREE.

http://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/your-visit/opening-times/

INFORMATION & RELATED LINKS:

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Museum of Royal Worcester

Severn Street, WORCESTER, WR1 2ND

The Museum of Royal Worcester is situated in the city’s Historic Quarter, within two minutes walk of the Cathedral, Commandery, Birmingham Canal and River Severn. An informative and entertaining audio tour featuring Henry Sandon and skilled craftsmen is free with entry and tells the story of the factory’s history, its famous customers, the talented workforce and everyday life. Gallery displays from 1751 to the 20th century include Oriental simplicity and Victorian extravaganza and offer a glimpse of times past, taking the visitor on a memorable journey from 1751 to the present day.

The Museum Shop is a treasure trove where you will find an abundance of vintage and antique Royal Worcester china and porcelain that was made in Worcester on the Severn Street factory site.

http://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/

 

Suz’s 2016 WPL Competition

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14946284.Dinner_service_inspires_success_in_porcelain_museum_poetry_competition/

The End Run was just the Warm Up

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So my Poet Laureateship ended at the Launch of the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe at The Angel Centre on the 10th June. This was the space Suz Winspear held her amazing collaborative DanceFest event ‘Poetry Ballroom’ in last year, when she was Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

 

 

WLF The Launch

The Finalists this year were Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley.

Following my performance Charley Barnes introduced the winning poet…and who is the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2018/19?

Betti Moretti! Congratulations to her and all the finalists this year.

It was a great event and congratulations should go to the WLF team for pulling it off.

 

Here’s a little look back at some of my year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am delighted to have discovered new writers and assisted some others on the point of giving up. I have published over 200 poets in 7 collections and 4 magazines and completed projects with America and France.

I flew our WLF flag internationally and welcomed poets from bordering counties into the exceptionally talented scene in our Shire.

 

 

 

People keep asking what I will do next. Truth is (as those who read the blog know) I am always busy. I guess I didn’t talk about it as much as it comes across as slightly me-ego, but as many future plans involve seedlings from the Laureateship, maybe you will get to hear about my work.

I will, as always remain super busy!

My first plan is to prepare for and enjoy the 4 performances I have managed to squeeze into the LitFest. I will be performing poetry at these events: (7-10 minute Guest Spots)

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Weorgoran Pavilion Festival: Sat 16 June

And if that wasn’t enough, this year The Ring have teamed up with WLF to bring a little poetry to Worcester. I will be performing at 12 PM on Saturday 16th June.

Award-winning art, architecture and design studio NEON has created an amazing stage, especially for Worcester. It’s part of The Ring, a Canal & River Trust ‘Arts on the Waterways’ project celebrating a 21-mile circle of natural and historic waterways in Worcestershire. The Weorgoran Pavilion takes its inspiration, and its name, from the Saxon origins of the name Worcester and its translation, “the people of the winding river”. It’s the venue for a free family-friendly festival featuring a soundscape by acclaimed Ledbury born musician Dave Crowe, which plays at selected times.
Bring something to sit on, indulge in a tasty treat from local sellers and enjoy yourself!
Check our other events for the programme on each day of the festival.

 

12:00-13:00 Litfest Takeover featuring Nina Lewis & the newly crowned Worcester Laureate, Betti Moretti.

 

For more information on the programme and how to book tickets check in at my old WPL blog.

Whilst you are there… I spent the week before the festival launch making Countdown films ’10 Days’ check them out too or click here.


PoARTy

I am currently working on PoARTy – Ledbury, in collaboration with Artist Molly Bythall. We have created 3 works, stemmed from work we had already produced – it has been a joy to be part of this creative partnership. There are 16 poems which have come from it although only 3 will be on display. Watch out for more news on this project facilitated by Rick Sanders, who is also taking over my WWM role as Lead Writer with the Sparks Young Writers Group in Worcester come September. (It is all change!)

 

 

Our work will be displayed in July.

 

Heritage Poetry Project

Funnily enough I attended a workshop with Angela France recently where we looked at/wrote about trees and I thought about the potential of this project, which was mentioned at a Stanza meeting at the end of last year.

Our Stanza group spent the day before the WLF Launch in the Forest of Dean writing poetry amongst trees for a project led by Andy Hoaen who has been involved in a survey/heritage work ‘Veteran Tree History Project Speech House Survey’. His vision:

I would like to see this as an opportunity for an encounter between two different ways of seeing the world, archaeology with its rigorous approach routed in scientific “objective” description of place and space, and poets with their ability to succinctly capture the essence of things and provide an imaginative subjective view on the world.

There may well be another exhibition in the future.

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Ludlow Fringe Festival 

I will be joining some of the ‘Me Too’ Poetry Anthology Poets to perform poems at a special event on the 19th June.

I went to Deborah Alma’s Book Launch for ‘Dirty Laundry’ – Nine Arches Press at Waterstones at the end of May, for her Ludlow Launch she is having Guest Poets and a collective of ‘Me Too’ poets perform.

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Room 204 Workshop Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

Writing & Mental Health, working in the Mental Health setting.

 

The Last WWM Sparks YW Group 

The 16th June is my final group as Lead Writer at The Hive in Worcester, I shall be sad to see this end but I have been working as an Assistant/Lead Writer & Mentor for WWM since 2014 and we all know when we apply that these are not renewable positions, the opportunities need to be given to other writers too.

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Stratford Poetry Festival 

I was involved in a School Poetry Project with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and on the 16th children I sent poems and poetic challenges to will be performing their work as part of the festival.

 

 

 

Book Launch 

Ghosting For Beginners Anna Saunders, published by IDP. 24th June Cheltenham

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Ledbury Poetry Festival – where I hope to manage at least 1 glorious, poetry packed day!

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Guest Poet

Delighted to welcome Charley Barnes into the V. Press family and doubly delighted to be reading at her launch. 14th July Park’s Cafe, Droitwich 7PM charley b v press

 

Organising Arts Festival Poetry Events 

Artsfest takes place 30th June – 28th July in Droitwich. I am very excited because Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself are going to be Performing 30-40-60 again, our collaborative Poetry Media Show.

17th July 7:15 (7:30 start) St. Andrew’s Church. For more information: 30-40-60

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Following on from last year I am organising the Poetry Day events again. On the 21st July 4 Poets will be performing in St. Andrew’s Square between 2-4 PM

Nina Lewis (Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate)

Roy McFarlane (Former Birmingham Poet Laureate)

John Mills

Liz Mills

 

 

In the evening there is Poetry Extravaganza in Park’s Cafe from 7PM (7:30 start) the first half will be the traditional open mic sign up and after the interval 12 Poets from the team of 24 ATOTC UK Poets will be performing from the Special Edition Contour – A Tale of Two Cities.

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For more information: http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-and-prose-readings/

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-extravaganza/

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In between these events (as like last year) I will be hot-footing across to Worcester to perform as a Guest Poet at Kieran Davis’s Book Launch of his 2nd collection ‘Legacy’, published by Black Pear Press.

Then I plan a fortnight of R & R before jetting off to be an International Guest Poet at Perth Poetry Festival, Australia.

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Writing wise the desk is heating up also. I am currently working with my next manuscript, compiling the final issue of Contour the WPL Magazine and publishing the final WPL Anthology Collection ‘Every Word Counts’ – Science/Maths poetry.

Later this year I shall start working on the WPL Anthology and later still on my first collection.

So I will be fine, I will be busy, I am a poet… one who will always remain an ambassador of words.

8th Wonder of the World… Worcestershire LitFest 2018

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Yesterday was the Launch of the 8th WLF Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe and it all starts with celebrating competition winners for Flash Fiction & Young Writers before the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Finalists take to the stage.

Leading up to the final I felt nervous and nauseous in equal measure, knowing I was on the judging panel was almost as difficult as entering the competition, and like many Laureates before me – I didn’t really want to give it up.

Still, it is someone else’s time now and at least I have had the pleasure of looking back on a year of superb work, I have thoroughly enjoyed the role as an ambassador for poetry.

 

The Launch was a fantastic event and I needn’t have worried at all – although the judging bit was difficult, there was a whole team deliberating (judges for the competition this year were Polly Stretton, Stephen Wilson, myself and Rachel Evans -Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate) and apart from the emotional gauntlet, it was fun. Having the YPL Rachel Evans buddy up helped, I hope I eased her worries too.

I managed to not cry after Charley Barnes (one of the WLF Directors) introduced me and I remembered all of my words. I performed my winning Laureate poems, which strangely (for me) have not been over performed and are not as familiar to me as other works. I had planned to spend the week before rehearsing – but I started making countdown films instead!

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The Launch was well attended (over 70 people) and it was a delight to hear the poems we had judged being performed by the poets.

Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley this year’s Finalists.

Following my performance Charley Barnes introduced the winning poet…and who is the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2018/19?

Betti Moretti! Congratulations to her and all the finalists this year.

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It was a great event and congratulations should go to the WLF team for pulling it off. The new afternoon slot worked well, especially for the YW competition winners.

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018 Book Your Tickets NOW!

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

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

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

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


Sunday 10th 

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Monday 11th 

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

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May Review 2018

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May was a huge month for editing and writing and marked my final full month as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, a position I have loved. Who wouldn’t want to be an ambassador for poetry? I was also juggling working full time with a full schedule.

Week 1: 

Still learning how to balance full time work with a writing career, I found a lack of energy and time were enemies to my To Do list.

My final Worcestershire Poet Laureate submission windows opened. One for Scientific/Mathematical poetry in honour of Stephen Hawking and the other for the final edition of Contour WPL Magazine, Issue 4 Celebration & End of an Era.

 

 

I spent most of the week working on A Tale Of Two Cities Special Edition Contour Magazine.

I received news of a recent submission being successful. One of my Jinney Ring Sculpture Workshop poems is to be published in Domestic Cherry Issue 6. I join many poetry friends in this issue and what is more we get to read our poems at an event in the Swindon Poetry Festival, which is great. This will be my 4th year attending Swindon Poetry Festival and it is always amazing. Last year I was booked as a V. Press poet in V. Formation, reading alongside Stephen Daniels and Gram Joels. This year I knew I was heading down after National Poetry Day (I have a booked gig), now I know I will get to read too. Wonderful.

My role as Reader in Residence for West Midlands Reader’s Network was wrapped up in an evaluation which took an incredible amount of time to write, but future funding depends on such things and I was able to use some of it in a public review for Warwickshire Libraries too. I sent reviews of Book Review Workshops and the Poetry on Demand event for the Rugby Library website.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/a-word-from-nina/

I received finalist poems for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Poet Laureate Competition. I have a fortnight to judge these poems. I am looking forward to discovering who the finalists are on the 10th June. This year the finals will be held at The Angel Centre – which is the 4th venue for the WPL finals.

Over the weekend I secured an interview with Kate Garrett on her recent charity venture ‘Bonnie’s Crew’, took some poems for a polish and prepared for the final WPL event at Hanbury Church.

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Week 2:

Started with a Bank Holiday and sunshine. I hosted the final WPL event, a reading at Hanbury Church of our Sculpture Trail poems from the Jinney Ring workshop. A full review of the event will be posted soon. To my delight this event has also lead to future work.

 

 

It seemed strange that this was it, as far as WPLaureating goes.

I had tight deadlines for copy, reviews, interviews and editing this week. Promotion has started for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival. Scott-Patrick Mitchell is responsible for a lot of the streaming online. He has sent interview questions to use as part of the Marketing & Promotion of the festival. I completed the bulk of an interview on time but had a few questions that needed a more considered response. Everything is in place for the marketing machine now though.

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I spent some time prepping Q&A for the ‘In Conversation’ event at the BMI.

I was fortunate enough to get to PTS (Permission to Speak) which featured the Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists taking over the hosting for the evening and featuring artists from The Black Country Broadsheet project. It was a great night of high energy hosted by Dave Pitt featuring: R.M Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger & Casey Bailey. I shared my NaPo poems (not all 30)! A full review can be found here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/mighty-force-poets-prattlers-pandemonialists/

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The following night I headed over to Birmingham to the BMI (Birmingham & Midland Institute) for an In Conversation & Reading of Fragile Houses. Another fabulous night in the John Lee Theatre. Read the full review here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/open-conversation-bmi/

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This was a great opportunity to reach a new audience and was booked last Winter, I had been looking forward to it for a while.

I am delighted Roy McFarlane is the Poet in Residence there and look forward to his programme of events and get more involved in Birmingham again.

I planned to spend the weekend editing, I mainly slept – being a busy poet and working full-time is not easy. I did manage a good shift on ATOTC and got the main frame of the magazine complete – overcoming lots of horrendous formatting issues. Sadly I realised I had missing Bios and so put a call out for those.

I am hoping that before the end of the month we will have the special edition ready for upload.

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Week 3:

What is a perfect way to start the week? A workshop with the exuberant Ash Dickinson of course! Having missed the opportunity to do one in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme!

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Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/ash-dickinson-workshop-licensed-to-rhyme/

It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week.

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Lorna Meehan headlines next month – so I need to get my diary free *although I think it falls during Worcestershire LitFest.

On Thursday I had intended to hit Birmingham at the Twisted Tongues event (usually held in Derby), however after a long day at work and with a weekend of events scheduled I did the sensible thing (very unlike me) and spent the night in the garden enjoying the end of the sun before having a relatively early night.

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I spent a lot of the week compiling the Special Edition Contour Magazine and chasing poets for photos.

On Friday I whizzed from work straight to The Hive in Worcester for a Book Launch. Cutting the Green Ribbon – debut poetry collection for Katy Wareham Morris, published by Hesterglock Press.

ctgr-poster-as-jpeg Katy was joined by Guest Readers Holly Magill, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – it was a superb night of poetry. Full review coming soon.

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I surprised myself on Saturday by firstly forgetting there was a Royal Wedding (I was reading poetry books and working on a submission) and secondly by writing about it. I had not planned to and I know many poets balk at this sort of sentimentality – but important events during one’s Laureateship ought to be marked and so I found myself with laptop on lap, catching up with images from the BBC whilst watching the ceremony from the point of the Bishop’s Address onward and I did manage to write something.

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https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/the-royal-wedding/

I finished the week being a Poetry Judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Launch at Parks Cafe.  Sarah celebrated the launch of her new novella Always Another Twist and latest poetry collection How to Grow Matches. It was a charity event in aid of St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester and a fantastic evening (even if I did want to run away with the prizes)! A full review will be posted soon.

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Sarah was joined by Guest Readers: Holly Magill, Jenny Hope & Liz Kershaw and the night was MCed by Charley Barnes.

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/news/award-winning-droitwich-author-to-hold-special-book-launch-at-charity-evening/

 

Week 4

The week started with a well earned day off work to fill with Poetry work. This year I was invited to be part of the Living Library event at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester. The event is organised annually by Librarian Linda Bromyard and enables several classes from Year 7 to come and meet real writers and talk to them about their work. Again, I will be writing full reviews of work from May soon and this event will certainly be given one. It was as inspiring for the adults as the students, I would have loved something like this when I was studying English.

 

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14543190.Authors_bring_school_library_alive/

The deadline for judging this year’s WPL finalist poems came around fast. I enjoyed reading this year’s entries, I am not so much enjoying sitting in judgement at the finals, but will part of a team of 5 judges and it is part of the WPL remit accepted last year. My hat goes off to poets who judge competitions with 100s of entries, it is a tough job.

I FINALLY gained access to the Arts Council portal (being trying since 27th April) only to find the decision was a no. Ironically the new system is more suited to individual bids, I used the British Council funding scheme a joint venture with the Arts Council. I rushed to get mine in before 1st March deadline and may have been better to wait for the new batch and changes in the system.

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Still, I took on the full time teaching role to pay for it and now I have the freedom to enjoy it evaluation free. The bid was to cover my travel to Australia for the Perth Festival and some workshops back in the UK after the event. At least I learnt how to apply for funding and also had the pleasure of analysing statistical data which shows my work this year has impacted on over 360 individuals.  Lots to celebrate.

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On the same day I discovered this failure I was also Headlining at Poetry Bites. It has been a while since I headlined a gig and it was a pleasure. Again full review waiting in a queue.

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I had to plan my Australian workshop and send a 200 marketing blurb this week. It is based on themes pulled from Fragile Houses and is going to be great. I am really looking forward to this experience and have scheduled time when term finishes to get prepared. The review of July will be simpler – it will just say…

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Preparing for Australia!

I have also been working on the final three WPL projects:

  • Contour Issue 4 WPL Digital Poetry Magazine
  • Twin Town European Poetry Exchange
  • Every Word Counts – Science/Maths Anthology

Contour Issue 4 the Celebration issue is still open for submissions until my final day as Laureate 10.6.18, I have been busy catching up with the Headliners of SpeakEasy for the interview section and have an article or two to add (new feature).

Twin Town 

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Most of the poets involved managed their poetry exchanges before the deadline, I stepped in and wrote a response poem and a Town poem in case the final poet didn’t manage it. We are now just waiting on a final response poem from a poet who received it over 2 weeks late, a June deadline has been negotiated and I have secured my good friend Nathalie Brooker to work on my French translations. This should be live in June, publication is planned for 10th June, the day I end my Laureateship.

Every Word Counts 

I spent time long listing poems from the 30 day submission window.

 

Extra Bit 

A much needed break from work, 9 days in my poetry skin.

DAY 1 of 9

I planned my penultimate WWM Spark Writers group – they are sad to see me go, they are not the only ones. My sensitive poet’s heart could crack with all these changes!

I spent some time organising the first of the UK ATOTC readings. A collaborative of 11 who will read call/response poems during the 2nd part of the evening as part of Artsfest 2018.

I made the final promo pushes for the last 2 WPL submissions. Had a lovely night at Waterstones celebrating the Launch of Deborah Alma’s new Nine Arches Press collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ a full blog post owed for that night too!

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I made it to 42 and the newly refurbished Drummonds for a night that was pure entertainment.

I finish the month with mild exhaustion and the hope that the few submissions I have managed to make this month will find themselves a home amongst pages. Fingers crossed.

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June

June sees the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival, the crowning of a new Poet Laureate, the finalists in the running are Sarah Leavesley, Betti Moretti & Peter Sutton. The Launch takes place on the 10th June 2:30 pm at the Angel Centre, Worcester and sadly will mark my last day as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

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Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

Other events to look forward to are: Meet the Authors, Stanza in the Forest of Dean for a Forestry/Poetry project, the rest of the WLF Programme, I am performing on Tuesday at Night at the Museum, Wednesday at 42 Special with the Anti-Poet, Thursday at SpeakEasy Festival Special and Saturday as part of The Ring Project.

I am performing as part of Ludlow Fringe Festival, have my final ever WWM Spark Young Writer Group, attending the Stratford Poetry Festival for the schools project with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, attending and performing at a few book launches and finishing the month with Ledbury Poetry Festival.

At the desk I am working on a current manuscript, prep for Perth Poetry Festival (Australia, not Scotland), Contour Issue 4 Digital poetry magazine, The Twin Town Poetry Anthology & a collection to mark the passing of Stephen Hawking featuring Science/Mathematical poetry Every Word Counts.

Plenty of work to absorb the extraction of my Laureateship! And who knows in between I may even get to write and sleep!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Celebrating being a Poet Again!

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DAY 1 of 9

The last 6 weeks has been much harder than the 15 years I spent not writing whilst I focused on my career. A career I gave up on in 2013 after an 8 year slide into depression. I have spent the past 5 years doing what I do best without having to put up with all the hoop jumping, red tape, politics and thankless 80 hour weeks! I also spent the last half a decade saying a resounding NO to any opportunity to work longer than a 2 week period.

However with an International Poetry Festival scheduled I felt the universe was delivering when I was offered a complete term. Here I am halfway through, I managed a whole month and a half back at the chalk-face full time (almost, some pre-booked poetry events allowed me a little time off for good behaviour). It has certainly been a hectic whirlwind working and freelancing simultaneously!

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Tonight I am celebrating my 9 day freedom by working on everything in the montage above and more. My poetry skin is slipped back on and I do not need to think about work (or report writing) for a while.

This Bank Holiday weekend I am spending some time offline with Mr. G. as the Bank Holiday at the beginning of May was filled with Poetry Events.

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I have a fortnight left as Worcestershire Poet Laureate and excitingly the judging process has begun to find the next one, the three finalists have been announced by themselves across social media, not sure WLF have posted the official announcements yet.

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I am planning my penultimate Spark Young Writer group for Writing West Midlands, many of us have been given the nod this year. It is not a forever job, they tell you this at the beginning. WWM like to support as many writers as they can and they feel these roles benefit from fresh Leaders and so, if you are lucky you will squeeze about 3 years out of the deal. I will be sad to lose this part of my writing life, but it has been a fantastic opportunity and left me with a bank of wonderful, creative plans and activities to incorporate into future work/workshops for Young Adults/children.

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I have a backlog of Blog posts to come reviewing Book Launches, Festival appearances and interviews.

I am working on Issue 4 of Contour, the final WPL digital magazine and reading submissions to the Science collection. There is still time to submit your work to both, just follow these links:

Contour: https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/submissions-open-contour-final-wpl-issue-4/

Science:  https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/submissions-open-tomorrow-for-the-final-wpl-poetry-collection/

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The Twin Town is going well, the European Project hosts just 4 collaborations, certainly an easier task to manage than ATOTC, with it’s mammoth 23 pairings! Several French/Anglo pairs have completed their poems and the deadline is this evening, so I am hoping to wrap it up before the end of my tenure (10th June). The French work is being translated, a truly bilingual collection.

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I am currently organising events for the Poetry Day at Artsfest 2018 and as part of the Poetry Extravaganza in the evening we will have the first UK ATOTC Collective Reading.

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UK READING

 

A few weeks ago many poets received copies of Bonnie’s Crew, a poetry anthology compiled by Kate Garrett to raise funds for Leeds General Infirmary Congenital Hearts Unit, via the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

Kate agreed to an interview a few weeks ago, I hope to start promoting it as soon as I can. It is a fabulous collection of poems.

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Here is her Just Giving Page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew

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And then I shall have an early night and be bright eyed for getting creative tomorrow.