Category Archives: Worcestershire Poet Laureate

June 2021 – Review of the Month

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June – we finally got our summer after perhaps the wettest May on record since 1967! The sunshine has made up for it since. The plants are finally thriving (with a bit of watering help). Festival season continues although I have made a conscious decision to calm the diary down and get back to the desk work (actually writing)!

Despite having to quarantine for 10 days, I didn’t have time to complete this post. So I will share it in two halves, like every wonderful Euro match!

PART 1:

FESTIVALS

HAY festival – ran until 6th June

Roxbury Poetry Festival 5th June

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 6th -11th June

WEEK 1:

I spent most of the week enjoying events at the Hay Festival. I blogged the 2020 Digital Hay extensively here on AWF – but this year I got to fewer events than I hoped. By the end of the week I was busy spending days organising the WLFF Festival. I managed to make Ade Couper’s Amnesty International event on Friday night. A deeply touching experience. I was quite involved with Amnesty International as a young person, it shocks me that are still having to do the same work decades later and more. I used to write quite a few social activism/political poems, I need to dust this part of my brain off because our words and actions are still necessary!

The weekend was complete madness! I discovered Roxbury Poetry Festival at the end of May and booked tickets. Three weeks before in a workshop with Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton, I met an Anglo-American poet, Chloe Firetto-Toomey. We collaborated together in the workshop and Maureen presumed we knew each other and had worked together before… well we are now and Roxbury was a chance for us to experience a festival together in real time! It was a fantastic programme of events and beautiful knowing we were there together. There were several simultaneous events and we had no communication over any of them* and yet we turned up attuned in each session the same.

*We did discuss going to Rachel McKibbens Craft Talk – as Chloe had sent me one of Rachel’s poems days before.

Roxbury was an amazing hybrid festival. I watched a reading, participated in a wonderful workshop, attended a craft talk reading and the Keynote Speaker Reading:

POETRY IS NOT A LUXURY
Reading & Discussion with Janice Lobo Sapiago & Angelo Geter.

Hosted by the Academy of American Poets, this reading and discussion brings together the Poet Laureate of Rock Hill,
SC, Angelo Geter and the Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County, CA Janice Lobo Sapiago. Poets will perform a reading of their work and engage in conversations around poetry, civic service, and landscaping spaces for youth poets.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

AT HOME IN THE MOVING BODY

Connecting Body, Breath, and Image: Writing Workshop

In this workshop we will connect and constellate the poet’s body to the literary image and to the poetic line.Taking a tip from breathing exercises, we will work together to create unexpected and deep images that bear our understanding of what the body can do as an antenna for our experience of being human. Central to this will be thinking through the various migrations and motions our bodies make and have a memory of making. This will include engaging the concept of home in its complexities for the poet and the poem’s speaker.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

This workshop with Rajiv Mohabir was intense and generative. Some incredible things came up for me, I was so glad to have the experience and with Chloe too. So much of what we’re tackling came up in theme or thought throughout the day, it was almost as if the organisers had seen right into our minds.

CRAFT TALK W/ RACHEL MCKIBBENS

This event is in partnership with GrubStreet

As poets, we use devices to resurrect or bury, but how often are we willing to lean into our own wickedness, to give it its rightful placement as the second face of our vulnerability instead of an agent of confession? This craft talk encourages participants to bring their lunch on screen while enjoying a craft talk from poet and performer, Rachel McKibbens.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

There was so much deep honesty in Rachel’s talk, that sometime afterwards in an email exchange with Chloe, I wrote the darkest, most honest work I have ever shared. Darker than any of my 42Worcester poems or anything I wrote in gloom. I have Rachel McKibbens to thank for opening that door.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS W/ JERICHO BROWN

2020 Pulitzer Prize winner, Jericho Brown, will read from his book The Tradition and answer a few questions from the audience. This talk will be moderated by a local artist.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

I always love it when I am in a room with people who have never seen Jericho read live before. Such intense atmosphere and performance. I am grateful for the fortune of watching this man in action throughout 2020 and 2021. I have never seen him perform without tears, his and mine.

A truly exceptional spirit!

I saw Holly McNish & Simon Armitage at HAY. And Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe kicked off Festival week with the Launch and crowning of the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

You can read about the whole festival (link in Week 2).

Week 2

For any Fast Show fans… this week I have mainly been organising and facilitating Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival events. I am one of the Directors but also in charge of tech and port of call for a lot of the poets /judges involved in events. I was prepared for a HARD WORK week — what I didn’t bank on, was a week at the chalk-face too. Timing!

The whole WLFF Team worked exceptionally hard to make the mini-festival 2021 as successful as it was.

Read all about it!

Congratulations to Ade Couper – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2021-22.

I kept things small the weekend after LitFest but did manage to have breakfast in Australia back with Perth Poetry Club, followed by a Sheffield Libraries workshop with Claire Walker and a night in America at the WWBPA with the Poet in residence 2021 – Forrest Gander.

On Sunday I went to the fabulous Black Pear Press Launch for Brian Comber and Beth O’Brien.

The weekend was exceptionally hot!

Week 3 & Week 4 (Part 2) Coming Soon!

WLF Mini-Fest 2021

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WLF Mini-Fest 2021

WLF Mini-Fest 2021!
Come and join us 6th-11th June.

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

Excited to announce the 2nd WLF Mini-Festival 2021! Come and join us 6th-11th June.

Keep up to date with Festival announcements here.

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Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2021

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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.

YOUNG WRITER COMPETITION

7-17 years old/ FREE entry/ International

FLASH FICTION COMPETITION

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.

Flashback Summer (Aug)

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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/

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

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.

Cath Drake
Malika Booker

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 17th December

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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)!

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

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.

Please note all open mic slots are full.

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Worcestershire LitFest 2020 The Launch

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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!

‘A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK’ a poetry event at Sprinkler factory

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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

Source: ‘A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK’ a poetry event at Sprinkler factory

 


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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.

National Poetry Day 2018 ~ Change

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It’s nearly here!

This year I have been invited to perform on National Poetry Day as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival.

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AIMF

I performed as part of Credo last year at Elmslie House and it is a lovely venue. This year five Poets Laureate, including this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti, will be performing on 4th October. This event was organised by Tim Cranmore.

Autumn In Malvern Festival

The Autumn in Malvern Festival is a renowned series of artistic events & exhibitions held annually in the surroundings of the glorious Malvern Hills. Some of the most prestigious musicians, poets, writers, film makers and other artists perform during Autumn every year.

More information on Autumn Malvern Festival.

This video is from 2009 and includes Peter Smith – Artistic Director & Founder.

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This year’s beautiful design is the work of Chie Hosaka.

https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/free-education-resource-downloads/

This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change

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A Tale of Two Cities Massachusetts

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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.

ATOTC UK READING

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 

A Tale of Two Cities

 

The Beginning

Special Edition Magazine

Don’t Oil The Hinges Heather Wastie’s Book Launch

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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’.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Exceptional!

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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.

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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/

black pearPublished by Black Pear Press.