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!
June this year was definitely a month of transition.
It saw my final 10 Days as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, the end of 4 years working for Writing West Midlands as a Lead/Assistant Writer for their Spark Young Writers Group in Worcester and although I am not saddened by this particular transition– I have just 3 weeks left in full time employment (which is funding my trip to Australia in the summer).
I intentionally missed every poetry event this week to conserve energy for the WLF – Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe – the emotional onslaught of watching another poet taking up the mantle of Laureate and the amount of work. work I have to balance meant that there was no time or energy left to support anything else.
I was desk busy: creating 10 Days – a sequence of films charting my final 10 Days as WPL -reflecting back over the year. These were fun to make but time consuming. Especially after uploading I would spot an incorrect frame and have to go back to the virtual cutting room floor!
Editing the final WPL Anthology Collection of Science/Maths based poems, wrapping up the Twin Town project between Voiron & Droitwich and reading submissions for the final WPL Contour (although perhaps not the final Contour).
My WPL Twin Town project between Droitwich and Voiron went live on June 7th.
This features 9 poets from England and France exchanging poems on the town and writing responses using something in the original town poem which sparked inspiration.
The collection is bi-lingual and poetry appears in English, French & Portuguese. There is a Food Festival in Droitwich this month and I am hoping to meet Madeleine Silvestri from Voiron Twinning Association, who found the Poet Alain Graz who helped me find our French town poets.
The Anthology can be read here Twin Town.
My poetry films can be found here 10 Days
On Saturday I joined a collective of Stanza Poets in the Forest of Dean for a Heritage Poetry Project organised by Andy Hoaen. After his involvement in survey/heritage work ‘Veteran Tree History Project Speech House Survey’ he decided he wanted to create something. 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.
It was an interesting and fruitful day for photography and notes and now we all hope to create some tree poetry and more. There may be an exhibition or pamphlet. It was also a great day out and lovely to see some poets who are sadly missed at Stanza meetings.
© Kathy Gee (no filters)
I wanted the Science/Maths Anthology (my final WPL Anthology) to go live before the Festival Launch and as I was (I just deleted ‘am’) the 7th Poet Laureate I scheduled the arrival for 7:07 AM!
You can read the collection here.
Then it was onto the opening of Worcestershire LitFestival & Fringe.
It was a great Launch – one of the best, although the judging panel missed the Young Writers Competition reading and the Flash Fiction winners as we were interviewing and preparing to judge the WPL competition. My fellow judges were Polly Stretton (former WLF Director), Stephen Wilson (Arts, County) & Rachel Evans (Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate).
The finalists were Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley and it was a close competition. It was a pleasure to hear them perform poetry that we judged anonymously just a few weeks ago. Any one of them would have been a worthy winner and done Worcestershire proud. There can only be one winner though and this year it was Betti Moretti.
Before the winner was announced I performed the poems which won me the Laureateship: Lit Up & Tasseomancy.
I couldn’t believe the length of appreciative applause at the end. It was a joyous moment.
© Catherine Crosswell
I had previously joked (since about March when you have to start promoting the competition) that I was going to be the 1st WPL who refused to step down. It was Betti’s idea (for the record) but we had a little tug ‘o’ war over the award.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would have been to congratulate the new WPL and hand it all over. Some relief even, perhaps.
© Catherine Crosswell
Coffee and cake wouldn’t have fuelled another year at acceleration and it isn’t as if I am not busy.
It was a delight to be part of the event (although if I could, I would have got out of judging), part of the remit – I knew it was coming. Thought it was nice how we were up on the balcony rather than beside the stage as in previous years. This was possibly easier for the finalists. Although there is nothing easy about being a finalist. It is a hard, emotional competition.
A full review of the Launch and announcement of the New WPL here Launch of WLF 2018
Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe dominated the week, the festival ran from 10th-16th June and was as fantastic as ever. I had to get used to not posting everything on https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/ but at least the waters of the fountain are well and truly active and in full spring again!
You can read write ups of the events I was involved in:
Tuesday 12th – Night at the Museum IV – a wonderful night organised by Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2016-17), Suz Winspear – featuring Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate Rachel Evans, Former YPL Chloe Clarke, Nina Lewis Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2017-18) and the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti in the first half and Suz Winspear in the 2nd half with her poems from the Archives to celebrate the end of her 2 year Residency at Royal Worcester. It was a marvellous evening.
Wednesday 13th 42 Festival Special – A wonderful evening that saw the Antipoet back in Worcester, with their new book – published by Black Pear Press.
© Donna Ray
In the second half a plethora of 42 regulars took to the stage for a themed night ‘The Bewitched Worcestershire Inn’.
Thursday 14th June SpeakEasy Special at Worcester Arts Workshop. Headlined by the amazing Dub Thieves, it was also Betti Moretti’s official WPL hand-over with her newly engraved WPL award. A superb night of performances and some who were new to SpeakEasy too.
Festival By The River – LitFest Take Over.
An exciting opportunity arose in the Spring to be part of the festival happening at the Weorgoran Pavilion on South Quay, Worcester. The events for the 10 day festival have been programmed by Cat Roberts. The Festival launched on Friday 15th
and on the 16th Peter Sutton and I took to the stage and what a sparkly, wondrous stage it is!
I spent a while creating a water based set and wrote some long awaited poems from our Canal trip (Poet’s Day Out) 2017. I had great fun compiling the half hour set.
It was a brilliant end to my week.
I spent some time over the weekend planning the next couple of events and promoting ATOTC, 30-40-60, ARTSFEST and PoARTry. I also had a rare day off from poetry.
Started with an evening organising the Launch/ Reading Event for PoARTry Ledbury with Leena Batchelor. We already have 12 people interested in reading at the event. The next stage is to confirm dates and then we can get on with creating the schedule and marketing the event.
I finally managed time to create answers for the remaining four questions sent to me to market the Perth Poetry Festival and I started working on an interview for a new article. More on that news soon.
I promoted 30-40-60 which is soon to be rehearsed and performed again (July).
I promoted the UK/USA readings for ATOTC which I am very excited by.
Ludlow Fringe Festival
Dirty Laundry Launch with Deb Alma & Guest Poets.
I was one of Deb’s Guest Poets at this Launch along with Angela Topping, Roz Munro Derry, Holly Magill & Ruth Stacey. It was a fantastic evening and lovely to share a meal in The Blue Boar first and have a good catch up.
A full review can be found here.
During the week I worked on interviews and poetry, organised my final WWM session and promoted Festival events.
I attended a Room 204 Workshop in Birmingham at Evolve (which back in the day was the Adam & Eve and venue for Sunday Xpress). Creative Writing to Promote Wellbeing workshop by Emma Marks & Sandra Griffiths of The Red Earth Collective CIC, was a half day event on Creative Writing in the Mental Health Setting.
A half day course for writers who want to develop or improve creative writing workshops for people with a lived experience of mental health problems. The workshop will be an experimental and engaging reflection on ideas and issues associated with running creative writing workshops within a mental health setting. © Red Earth
It was an intense and useful workshop with plenty of participation. I have more ideas now than ever and a good network of support for future ventures in this direction.
Having missed 1.5 days of work to attend Festivals & training I hit the ground running and had a backlog of assessment marking which came home with me and sadly meant I missed Rob Francis at Dear Listener, the fault of my work schedule. test marking and the lack of time to reach the city. No guilt here – only frustration!
This is the weekend I missed 2 events I was supposed to attend and had a clash of two events too. This always makes me feel low. I wish I could clone myself and attend everything!
On Friday night I had hoped to make it to Birmingham Waterstones for the Verve Poetry Press Book Launch of Leon Priestnall and Nafeesa Hamid’s Debut collections.
Sadly I missed it, you can read about it and find out more about these new collections here When You Miss Something BIG!
BUY A COPY Leon Priestnall is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. © Verve Poetry Press
BUY A COPY Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming. © Verve Poetry Press
There was also a welcome return of Confab Cabaret in Malvern and they had Elvis McGonagall Headlining and I had a chance to get to Stratford Poetry Festival to see Tony Harrison. Of course neither of these events were possible as I was already committed to the Book Launch. Exhaustion is a hard thing to forgive.
On Saturday I headed to The Hive for my last Spark Young Writer group. It has been a pleasure to work for WWM for the past 4 years, 3 of those as a Lead Writer and I shall miss this part of my writing life a lot!
Afterwards I planned to go to Stratford Poetry Festival to The Black Box event, which was part of a schools/education project I worked on this Spring. My eldest nephew also had a very important birthday – plans for Sunday were rearranged to Saturday and I was already late as they started whilst I was still in my WWM session. I decided I couldn’t miss his momentous occasion and so instead bailed on watching the children perform at the festival. If there is one thing guaranteed to make you feel more guilty than exhaustion it is letting children down!
Saturday also saw a 10th Birthday Summer Party for Nine Arches Press, having attended their celebrations before for a few years, I was gutted when I discovered this clashed with WWM and my nephew’s birthday party!
I knew I was never able to go – this did not stop me wanting to be there. Again, I have heard wonderful reviews. Sharing photos that have been shared on social media.
#TenforNine: Nine Arches Press celebrates ten years of publishing
Join us to celebrate ten years of publishing with a series of birthday events on Saturday 23rd June at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
© Nine Arches Press will publish new work by ten poets in 2018.
(Top: l-r Aviva Dautch, Romalyn Ante, Sarala Estruch, Robert Peake, Josephine Corcoran. Bottom: l-r Riche McCaffery, Deborah Alma, Roy McFarlane, Suzannah Evans, Isobel Dixon)
There will be something for everyone:‘The Big Read In’ is a chance for readers’ groups to hear TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poet Jacqueline Saphra (All My Mad Mothers) discussing her work, followed by an exclusive writing workshop with former Canal Laureate Jo Bell as well as the launch of Josephine Corcoran’s debut collection, What Are You After? The evening will see a ‘Birthday Mixtape’ event in the conservatoire’s jazz club, co-hosted by Nine Arches Driector and Editor Jane Commane and Rishi Dastidar (Ticker-Tape) featuring favourite readings from a range of Nine Arches Press poets. © Nine Arches Press
I missed the WLF Poetry Picnic in Cripplegate Park as I had to finish marking before I could journey to Cheltenham for Anna Saunders Book Launch. I also had an opticians appointment earlier in the week and needed to take Mr. G. into town to help me decide which frames to buy. I was walking around with 9 pairs at one point!
Anna’s Book Launch at The Retreat Wine Bar was amazing, a pure night of celebration. Her guests were David Clarke and Jonny Fluffypunk and there was an open mic section with Ghost themed poems to start proceedings. It was packed and the open mic list read like ‘Beautiful South Lyrics’.
Full review COMING SOON.
The main focus this week was the PoARTry Ledbury project, my own writing and Book Launches, more family birthdays and Poetry Festivals. I attempted to keep my schedule free of evening events as this is the busiest time at work with lots of deadlines to meet by the beginning of July and in the current heatwave all I really want to do is feast on ice lollies and sleep!
The date was finally set for the PoARTry event, we decided it then spent a week trying to match schedules before finding an AGM clash with the date and reverting back to the original one, which sadly means Rick Sanders won’t be there.
We have had about half the collective sign up to say they are coming so it looks to be a great evening shaping up. Leena and I now have our work cut out developing a running order/ details of the evening. I am looking forward to it and getting extremely excited about seeing my artist’s work in the flesh. Molly Bythell was my extremely talented partner on this project and our collaboration has been bountiful. I am only framing 2-3 poems but have written close to 20!
On Thursday evening I made my way into Birmingham to David Calcutt’s Book Launch at Waterstones, which was in the Art Room, where I had my own Launch back in 2016. It was great to catch up with people and was a lovely evening. Full review here.
© Elaine Christie
Ledbury Poetry Festival is also underway, I am hoping to get across there at some point. I am definitely there on Tuesday 3rd July.
All in all, an incredible month of ‘not being —— anymore’, getting used to just being again.
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!
Walking down to South Quay I spotted the glorious stage mimicking the ripple of water. I couldn’t wait to jump up on it!
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.
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.
And a huge thanks to Cat Roberts for the concept of LitFest Take Over.
So the world goes World Cup Mad but here we are, all about the Poetry!
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!)
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
After our extended interval where we all went to view the museum and Chloe and I fell in love with the big chair…
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.
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!
Visit Royal Worcester
£5.50/£6.50 – children under 15 FREE.
INFORMATION & RELATED LINKS:
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.
Suz’s 2016 WPL Competition