A brand new website for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. Find out about all the 2021 competitions, join in with virtual open mics at SpeakEasy (9th April) and coming soon announcements for Worcestershire LitFest 2021.
7-17 years old/ FREE entry/ International
300 words £4 or £10 for 3 entries/ International
And if you are a resident of Worcestershire, for £5 you can enter the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition.
August was still patchy with sun and I was able to enjoy the garden. I was beginning to feel the edge of cabin fever. I slowed down online with extra events and focused on writing and reading. It was as strange as all the other months this year. I had hoped my birthday wouldn’t be in Lockdown – I’d seen and attended some awesome, creative celebrations online – I just couldn’t face the extra screen time. Mr G. and I planned to use one of the socially distanced restaurants and go out for the first time since March, but I got too scared.
I went to Jonathan Davidson‘s Book Launch for Commonplace, Smith | Doorstop, 2020. https://jonathandavidson.net/blog-2/books/a-commonplace/
I read at Polly Stretton‘s launch of The Alchemy of 42, Black Pear Press, 20220. https://blackpear.net/2020/07/31/the-alchemy-of-42-launch/
I read my cathedral poems at the launch of the ‘Call & Response’ anthology compiled by Amanda Bonnick, Poet in Residence at Worcester Cathedral. https://blackpear.net/2020/07/22/an-invitation-to-the-launch-of-call-and-response/
I finally made some submissions. I spent hours writing applications, which were unsuccessful in results but updated all my paperwork ready for when the right one does come along!
We had a wonderful International Reading again for Cath Drake‘s Writing course Reinvent the Future – this time with Malika Booker as Guest Poet. It was another wonderful event.
Melbourne Spoken Word Festival continued, Army@Fringe hosted a Virtual Festival with lots of programmes about theatre writing, Jinny Fisher hosted another Poetry Pram event, Wendy Pratt hosted one day retreats, and PPP continued with many events and classes. I finally got to some events in New Zealand and made it back to Fire & Dust (Coventry) to see Genevieve Carver, I saw Joelle Taylor and Laura Scott at Cafe Writers. I managed to Zoom to Stafford WORDS Myths & Legends. I started attending some of the creative writing workshops held at Sheffield Libraries, they have raised a whole community online. Wonderful work. I started workshops with Nik Perring , Reader in Residence at Sheffield Libraries, who have all been great and productive. I attended a few seminars and talks.
I joined Celena Diane‘s Poets in Motion and had a great time at the Wirral Poetry Festival with Brian Wake, writing from ‘At the Circus’ prompts and artwork. Love an ekphrastic poem & poet/artists projects. I get involved with them as often as I can. I was asked to be Poet in Residence (virtually) for Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
I finished my Connect Dudley commission and Worcestershire LitFest went online. We held the delayed interviews for the next Worcestershire Poet Laureate.
So, my birthday was quiet – but we are still safe.
Five months into the pandemic and most of us know someone who has suffered. My heart goes out to all the families who’ve lost more than birthdays this year. The Lockdown is difficult to cope with – but suffering from Covid – there are no words, just huge thanks to those tasked with trying to help us.
Worcester SpeakEasy Christmas Special – more open mics than usual and the fabulous Raine Geoghegan is our feature for the night! Come and listen/watch for free (Christmas jumpers/head-gear/ hats optional)!
Our next SpeakEasy event happens online this Thursday. The event is hosted by Suz Winspear and our Featured Poet is the wonderful Raine Geoghegan.
Find out more about her here https://www.rainegeoghegan.co.uk.
Due to security, the Zoom link will be posted on the event page on Facebook in the evening, shortly before 7PM.
If you would like to come and aren’t on Facebook, please email and let us know.
The WLF Team have been busy organising the first online Worcestershire LitFest – we launch on Sunday 13th and as we are hosting events on Zoom – the whole world is invited!
By Richard Duckett
Telegram & Gazette Staff
How do you rhyme “Worcester”? You bring together poets from Worcestershire, England, and the Worcester County (Massachusetts) Poetry Association. A cross-Atlantic collaboration project has resulted in exchanged poems, publication of 92 poems in “Contour Poetry Magazine” edited by Worcester, England, poet laureate Nina Lewis, and a gala reading of the poems in our English Twin City.
Now it’s our turn with “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — US & UK.” Brian Evans Jones, former poet laureate of Hampshire, England, will read the British poetry, and there will be readings by many of the Central New England poets who have participated in the project, including Pam Bernard, Robin Boucher, Sylva Boyadjian-Haddad, Tony Brown, Dennis Caldwell, Clair Degutis, Gordon Elliot, Patricia Fargnoli, Jennifer Freed, Claire Golding, Victor D. Infante, Maura MacNeil, Cynthia Martell, Rodger Martin, Susan Roney-O’Brien, Kyle Potvin, Eve Rifkah, Karen Sharpe, Beth Sweeney, Paul Szlosek, Henry Walters, Linda Warren, and Patricia Youngblood.
What: “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK” When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 Where: The Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow St., Worcester.
How much: $10 suggested donation. Proceeds benefit the Sprinkler Factory and the Worcester County Poetry Association. http://www.worcestercountypoetry.org
A TALE OF TWO CITIES, WORCESTER
The Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory have joined together to host a benefit fundraiser – “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester – USA & UK.” The transatlantic poetry project is a result of a collaboration between poets from either side of the pond.
Forty-seven poets began writing and exchanging poems with each other from December 2017 to March 2018. The poets from Worcester, Mass., wrote an initial poem and got a response poem from their partner in Worcestershire, England.
At the Sprinkler Factory, Worcester poets will read their initial poem and their partners’ response.
Months of editing and reworking these poems has left a remarkable result worth hearing from those who participated. Proceeds from this event will go toward the Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory, which hosts ever-changing art exhibitions. There is a wide range of topics for the poems, from love to self-discovery.
Find resources and lesson plans, posters and logos here.
This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change
I am ridiculously excited by this, one week to go before the American Reading of A Tale of Two Cities Project at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts.
47 poets in Worcester UK and Worcester MA USA were paired up and each partnership wrote call and response poems which were then collated into a Special Edition of the online Poetry Magazine Contour.
In July we had the inaugural UK reading at Park’s Cafe as part of the Artsfest event ‘Poetry Extravaganza’. Both this event and the USA one were planned in June.
Photography ©Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network.
We had 9 poets from the 24 UK poets reading both their own poems and those from their partners. It was a true celebration of the project and it was lovely to hear people talk about their experience of the partnering. One thing we all acknowledge is poems existing which otherwise wouldn’t and the pleasure of working with Poets based in Worcester, MA.
You can read more about Artsfest and our ATOTC reading here.
Our American poets were pooled from the Worcester County Poetry Association with support from Bob Gill and Rodger Martin. They will be reading their poems and the response poems from the UK will be read by Brian Evan-Jones.
Brian is a touring artist with both the Maine and New Hampshire Arts Councils and was the former Poet Laureate of Hampshire, England. He currently resides in Kittery, Maine, and received his MFA at the University of New Hampshire where he studied with former U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic.
The Transatlantic Project was part of my Laureate Legacy. You can read more about it here.
History of the Transatlantic Poetry Project
Behind every Worcestershire Poet Laureate is a book and 2018 sees the launch of a new one. Heather Wastie was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015-16 and since passing her crown onto Suz Winspear (who in turned passed the crown to me), Heather has been busy touring Idle Women, writing a book of poems for The Ring Project and creating Nationwide adverts… so it is no surprise that this new collection (her 7th book) took a while in the making.
The beautiful cover is designed by Jess Silk.
I was delighted to attend her launch last Saturday 15th September at Park’s Cafe, Droitwich. Apt that we celebrated the launch in the very cafe that features the door which led to the poem/title of the collection. ‘Park’s Cafe Poetry Reading’.
It was a delightfully fun evening which brought back lots of memories and people. Heather loves to collaborate and I found it particularly touching to see the amount of people in the room who were part of some of the projects touched on in this collection. There were also plenty of ‘Mouth & Music’ friends I hadn’t seen for a while and it lovely catching up and conspiring to do some one off event in 2019.
Knowing Heather and her poetry, I knew we were in for a treat… and I wasn’t wrong! The evening was filled with poetry and music, all of Heather’s Guests had appeared in the book in some way.
After brief introductions from Rod Griffiths & Polly Stretton (Black Pear Press) Heather shared poems from Don’t Oil The Hinges.
Sharing with us details of where the poems came from, these context introductions are included in her book. She prefaced every poem with ‘I wouldn’t have written this poem if it were not for…’ and when that came round to Chaucer it had us all chortling!
Heather’s first guest was Sarah Tamar who she used to host Mouth & Music with. We were all delighted to see Sarah again & to hear her poems.
Then Heather’s Idle Women partner in crime Kate Saffin was next, delivering poetry used in the show (from the Idle Women book), delivered with aplomb. Kate blames Heather for getting her writing poetry. She is a talented Theatre maker and performer.
Another feature of a Black Pear Press Launch is the author Q&A, hosted by Tony Judge. His wicked sense of humour left us all aghast as he asked Heather who her favourite collaborator was, we knew he was joking… it was a magical moment when Heather answered. We also heard about her writing process, other work she has been involved in and future plans.
Following an interval we had music from Dave Sutherland, he had set Heather’s poem ‘Carrying the Evening Home’ to music – it was a great sing along and we got to hear one of his own songs too.
Then Sunny Ormonde, an actor from The Archers performed Heather’s poem ‘Dad Was A Fan of The Archers’, which she performs in her one-woman show.
“Needing a poem about local life for my show at Bewdley Festival I discovered Heather’s wonderfully funny poems on line. Immediately smitten, I contacted her and was over the moon when she kindly offered to write a special poem for the show and Dad was a fan of The Archers was born. Nothing could have been more perfect—it was a huge hit and continues to be so.” – Sunny Ormonde
Then Emma Purshouse closed the evening with a brilliant set including a poem she had written about the Canal for Heather & Kate to use in Idle Women. Her performance of it moved the room, we were all in that water. This poem will be included in Emma’s next book.
A well oiled (unlike Paul’s door) and relaxing evening. A most enjoyable launch and I now have my own copy of Heather’s latest book of poems.
Find out more about this collection and treat yourself to a copy here https://blackpear.net/authors-and-books/heather-wastie/dont-oil-the-hinges/
Published by Black Pear Press.
I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from April – June. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.
Following Cheltenham Poetry Festival, the next night I was part of Steve Soden’s Bohemian Voices event at the Jinney Ring, Hanbury.
Steve used to run these events in London and back in November he premiered the evening at the Jinney Ring to a sell out crowd. Music, Comedy and Poetry all in one night.
It was a fabulous evening and a joy to be part of. Another event I wish I had the time to blog about in the moment – because afterwards I felt euphoric!
Tickets for evening included 6 acts, canapes, 2 courses and a welcome drink and I was surprised and delighted when my mum and Aunty showed up! It was sold out and the restaurant was buzzing on the other side of the wall to where we were busy setting up.
7 – 8PM
It was exciting meeting the other acts and it was special sitting with the other artists, tucked away in the restaurant for the courses. After a brief sound check, whilst canapes were being enjoyed by guests. The evening started… with FOOD! Which was fantastic – the food was fantastic – but also being able to eat, so often with evening gigs you travel during teatime, arrive hungry with little choice of food (if any), leave hungry, arrive home and eat at about midnight.
The menu choices made it really hard to decide on what to have and as we were performing we were allowed to order early, before I had a chance to swipe a look at other diner’s plates!
8 – 8:45 PM
The first course ‘The Main Event‘, was followed by 45 mins of entertainment from the first 3 artists on the bill. I think performing on a full stomach is hard and that is exactly what I had to do as I was up first!
Steve fortunately performed a poem and made introductions, but essentially I had the slot no performer jumps at. On the other hand, I was able to enjoy the rest of the show and Steve does know what he is doing with a running order.
Nervous butterflies and Burritos – a curious mix. My set was mainly from Fragile Houses and it went down well.
© Steve Soden
Then there was music from Danielle Cawdell, which was simply magical.
Comedy from Masai Graham, who won the crowd over and had us all chuckling.
Then an interval with tea and coffee. ‘The Final Curtain‘ brought us more culinary delights, this time in the form of bite size desserts, which I enjoyed sharing with the talented musicians. I remember a small pink one tasting of heaven. It was great to have an hour for the 2nd course and it gave me time to catch up with my mum and Aunty too.
The Jinney Ring understand that this experience is food with entertainment and want their diners to experience a laid back evening with plenty of time to eat, drink and be merry.
There was even time to read the poetry exhibition from my Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop too.
I could have happily stayed in the restaurant for hours chatting to fellow artists but after a much needed coffee (to balance the sugar rush), we were all ushered back into the performance area for the 2nd half.
9:45 – 10:30 PM
The 2nd half started with poetry from Steve Soden, who was also the slick, professional and reassuring host of the evening, followed by Matt Windle (Birmingham’s Current Poet Laureate) his set, as always was phenomenal.
The evening closed with a cowboy, Rob Brunt – whose set was spellbinding. It took me back to memories of travel and was thoroughly enjoyable.
It was great catching up with Matt and meeting the other performers. I had a really lovely evening, I enjoyed it equally to Cheltenham Poetry Festival (and I loved that)!
It is rare I survive/manage back to back bookings anymore and to have these two great events booked in my diary in April was a real high way of ending a busy month! It was a late night, but one filled with pleasure from start to finish.
I am grateful to Steve for the booking and would recommend you look out for another Bohemian Voices soon. You are in for a treat!