Category Archives: workshops

Writing Book Reviews – WMRN Reader in Residence

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This summer I had the exciting opportunity to apply to be a Reader in Residence, my application was successful and Warwickshire Libraries now have me in role at Rugby Library. The position started in September and runs until March 2018.

Following meetings on site, emails and team meetings I spent a month planning and promoting the first workshop ‘Writing A Book Review’.

wmrn review writing workshop

My group comprised of talented, experienced writers. It was lovely to watch the enthusiasm during the session as people relaxed and got to know each other. One of the great spin offs from this event was the networking opportunities. I am certain some of the participants will keep in contact with each other and explore what the county has to offer.

I was happy with how the workshop went, after spending several days tweaking plans and making sure the massive amount of input could be covered in the time we had available. We did just fit it all in, the most important elements were given as a handout at the end.

I opted for a very informal evaluation, but was too anxious to read people’s feedback straight away.

It was very positive and useful. We plan to repeat the workshop next year with some members from the various Reading Groups associated with Rugby Library – and the general public, so if you missed it and you fancy learning some Top Tips and insights, look out for further promotion in the Library and on Eventbrite.

https://librariesblog.warwickshire.gov.uk/2017/11/24/meet-our-reader-in-residence/

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Feedback: 

An amazing amount of interesting information in an hour and a half. 

An inspiring afternoon.

I found this afternoon encouraging for my writing in the future.

I love getting together with people who love to read!

Enjoyed the workshop, you have a calm, free-spirited air about you. 

Overall, extremely enjoyable and more importantly, informative.

The ideas mentioned are going to be really helpful.

Lovely atmosphere.

Informative and useful.

Great to meet like-minded people.

It inspired me to write and read more. 

Really well structured session with great tips.

Relaxed atmosphere, I really enjoyed it. 

rugby Lib.png© Rugby Library 2017

It was a relief to know everyone had enjoyed it and the information helped and inspired them. I can now pass all the good news onto the team at Rugby Library.

The team were very supportive today, huge thanks to those involved in ensuring this event ran smoothly, for taking photos, bringing us more hot water for a 2nd round of caffeine -much needed as we were whizzing through at a great pace! For the biscuits/refreshments & setting up the space.

Thanks to Ann Brine (Manager Rugby Library) for coming to evaluate and debrief. The session went really well and I am now ready for my next Reader in Residence mission, watch this space!

Thanks also to Roz Goddard at WMRN.

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Adam Speaks – The Project

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room 204

Back in April I was accepted onto Room 204, a writer development programme with Writing West Midlands. Just weeks after the official 2017/18 cohort announcement an opportunity appeared for a National Trust (NT) project at Croome Court.

In 2015/16 the NT facilitated the Plumlines exhibition (which has only recently closed), many Worcestershire poets were involved. This was the period I worked on my book ‘Fragile Houses’ and I had no time to get involved.

Working with two poets, Brenda Read-Brown and Heather Wastie, Croome held workshops with schools, writers groups, history groups and volunteers. 

The ‘Plumlines’ exhibition is a collection of real life stories expressed through 188 one-hundred word poems, written by people from across Worcestershire about a female relatives life during the First World War and is on display from 19 November 2016 until 19 November 2018. © National Trust

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© Jack Nelson 

So I was delighted at this invitation and applied straight away (20th April), we were notified on the 11th May of our places on this project.

 

The remit was to visit Croome and get a sense for the place. Then on 1st July we had a day long workshop with Chris Alton – the Lead Artist for Adam Speaks.

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© Rachel Hill

Adam Speaks – The Search for an Artist

Croome is working with an emerging artist to develop and make new work responding to Robert Adam’s vision and designs at Croome.  

A new art project at Croome

After the success of the Plumlines the team at Croome are embarking on an exciting new co-production project, mentored by national artist Hew Locke. © National Trust

Many artists applied for his position, including international artists.

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© Peter Young

The original artists brief explains our role. We were one of four partner groups whose ideas fed into the work Chris completed.

 

 

Through innovative participation led by the artist, ideas realised in the workshops
with our four partner groups will set the foundations for the artworks. The selected
groups will input into the ideas stage of the artwork before the production/making
stage. The vision for participation will be supported by Croome. 

 

Croome will support the engagement aspect of the project, liaising with the groups
and managing the project structure. Once both artist and groups have visited
Croome, they will explore ideas based on Adam’s designs, through a series of
workshops that will take place at the groups ‘home ground.’

 

The selected artist, supported by Hew Locke, will research Adam’s work at Croome
with the participant groups and develop ideas for the artwork, e.g. what history or
story should be addressed in or influence the work. Looking at and selecting objects
from the collection, the workshops can focus on discussions about the
creative/design/production process, how Adam may have approached it, how artists approach it today. 

 

Why are we doing this?
Through the project, we want to tell the story of Adam (himself an emerging
designer) at Croome in an accessible and interesting way, to introduce new
audiences to his life and work at Croome and make relevant connections to the
impact Adam had on our lives – the ‘everyday’ connections that still exist.

We want Croome to be known as supporting new artists and local communities .We
would like ‘Adam Speaks’ to be a project which is an example of good practice , in its
creative outreach projects and mentoring, helping other Trust properties to develop
further understanding regarding creative collaboration. © National Trust

Kiki Claxton, Creative Programme Coordinator
Rachel Sharpe, Creative Partnerships Manager

Adam Speaks – Chris Alton 

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/chris-alton—adam-speaks-artist

Chris worked with four partner groups: Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts (BITA), Kimichi School, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School.

Chris was supported and mentored by Hew Locke. Locke is a world renowned artist with artworks owned by the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum to name a few.  He specialises in a wide range of mediums which include sculpture, painting and photography, often within Locke’s work his ideas resonates with historical references and sites. © NT

Chris spent a day in workshops with each group.

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1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young.jpg Writing West Midlands

© Peter Young

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Our Creative Session on July 1st was fun and intensive. An initial starting point was personal objects and discussions about society. The panic some of us felt over the art supplies was soon rested, as we had the pleasure of drawing out our thoughts. It was the longest workshop I have ever done and was greatly rewarding.

 

 

© Peter Young

I hope Chris won’t mind me publicly sharing the words he passed onto Jonathan Davidson (Director WWM) after our workshop.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and was incredible impressed by the calibre of writing exhibited by the group. There were a number of texts produced on the day that I found to be truly moving. The group were an absolute joy to work with; generous, open and bold with regard to their engagement with the subject matter and workshop format. – Chris Alton

I also thoroughly enjoyed my day at Croome Court (25th June), my notebook is full of glorious observations, sketches and words. Possibly a poem or two.

Once Chris had worked with everyone he then went away and spent time at Croome and in the studio creating his ideas and later the finished design and artwork.

RELATED LINKS: 

Plumlines https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/croome-plumlines-exhibition

Poetry Swindon Festival – Day 4

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Photography Credits: Mark Farley (Official Festival photographer) and Richard Jefferies Museum © 2017 Copyright remains with them.

Day 4 

Sunday 8th October

swindon RJ

Sunday… a day of rest? Erm, NO! It was quite a sad day, we had already lost Gram Joel Davies to the dreaded Swindon Lurgy, which was caught by the whole team and some of our resident poets too and Jill Carter the Artist in Residence! Today we had to wave goodbye to Sarah L. Dixon*. We also had to steward on very little sleep and draining energy supplies. So extra holes in the heart were quick to drag us down. But we were picked up by the ever positive Hilda Sheehan in the morning meeting where we scheduled the last full day of the festival.

*I knew I was going to miss Sarah, lots. I managed to sneak a little message and a poem into her suitcase for her to find once she made it home. After having a roommate it was very strange to be in a room on my own.

This was the final day of workshops, Jacqueline Saphra had stepped up to run a workshop as Jacci Bulman was unable to make it and Rishi Dastidar was booked to facilitate a Call & Response Workshop.

10:00 to 12:00 WORKSHOP: Call and Response Sun Inn With Rishi Dastidar
We’ve all been to workshops where we’ve been inspired by other poems, maybe visual art too, and then written in response to them. So what happens when we use pop songs instead? That’s the simple premise behind ‘Call and Response’, where some great music will hopefully provide great inspiration for writing poems. Just bring some paper, pencils – and your ears.
Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. His debut collection, Ticker-tape, is published by Nine Arches Press.

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It was a most enjoyable experience, music really bringing me to waking moments on this tired Sunday morning, full of thoughts of goodbyes and trying to keep a balanced heart, this workshop lifted me out of that head-space. It was fast, furious and fun and a surprising amount of poetry was created. I loved hearing everyone’s takes on the same pieces and Rishi was a fantastic workshop leader. I would not hesitate to workshop with him again!

Over at the Museum A. F. Harrold had it all under control at the Open Mic Talent Show. This was the 2nd event for children, the first took place on Thursday 5th October on the opening day of the festival, whilst we were at Artsite.

10:30 to 12:00 POETRY RHYME TIME RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
You are invited to meet Custard the Dragon, The Owl and the Pussy Cat, and many more famous poetry friends. A fun and animated poetry rhyme time with music and movement for under 5’s, with arts & crafts with Suzie, and poetry.

Events for children is another great element of the Poetry Swindon Festival. Children are no strangers to the Richard Jefferies Museum programme either.

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A. F. Harrold and Milo.

10:30 to 12:00 CHILDREN’S OPEN MIC TALENT SHOW RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
With A. F. Harrold
A morning of poetry play and fun for children under 11 years, presented by Milo age 10 and A.F. Harold. With Special Guest Young Poet Sophie Daniels. Come along with a poem, a song or a story – one you have created yourself, or a favourite!
A.F. Harrold is the author of the hilarious Fizzlebert Stump series, the award-winning book The Imaginary and the children’s poetry collections I Eat Squirrels and Things You Find In A Poet’s Beard (illustrated by Chris Riddell). He is well known for his energetic and silly performances where almost anything can happen. Expect poems, jokes, beards and nonsense, and maybe a snippet of his brand new book, Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space.

Back to the Museum for Lunch and an action packed day for the team with three Stewards down. Julia Webb had stepped up to an afternoon reading as a poet couldn’t make it and had some time to go and prepare and of course, we had lost Gram and Sarah. I think this was one of the hardest work days, but all work is fun when you are part of such a great team.

13:30 to 14:30 READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
With Rishi Dastidar, Jessica Mookherjee & Camilla Nelson
Transgressions and experiments of three daring poets who tread where it doesn’t seem safe or sane, and so manage to open our eyes and ears to the real pulse of the present.
If you were unable to get to Rishi Dastidar ‘s workshop in the morning, this is your chance to hear from his debut collection, Ticker-tape.
Camilla Nelson is a language artist, researcher and collaborator. Her current work is Apples & Other Languages, published by Knives Forks and Spoons.
Jessica Mookherjee is a poet of Bengali origin. Her first collection, Darshan will be published by Cultured Llama in 2018.
AWF Rishi Dastidar

I have heard Rishi Dastidar reading at Ledbury and Waterstones Birmingham and it is always a delight to hear from this collection, Ticker-tape. Nine Arches Press were certainly well represented at this year’s festival.

In the afternoon reading I was so touched by one of Jessica Mookherjee’s poems that I completely unravelled! Which was a tricky situation to be in when there is no-one around as everyone was busy watching the event.

This is the power of poetry.

AWF Jess Mookherjee

A speedy turn around for the last Open Mic event of the festival and one I could finally take part in.

15:00 to 16:00 OPEN MIC – Magic RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
‘I believe reality is approximately 65% if. All rivers are full of sky. Waterfalls are in the mind. We all come from slime.’
Dean Young Can you pull a poem out of hat? Join in as poetry is conjured from every beautiful mind. With special guest readings from Kathy Gee & Liz Mills – once upon a time Kathy was a museum curator, so for quite a while she wrote about ‘stuff’ and what we leave behind. Liz has written and acted all her life but only started writing poetry last summer.

During this event many poets appeared (for the next event) and I really wanted to leave the book stall and go to catch up with them, but I was torn as it seemed rude to miss the open mic-ers and I was also waiting for a slot (names were pulled from a hat). I stayed put.

I enjoyed the ‘Magic’ open mic and this time it was the turn of Kathy Gee and Liz Mills to take the Guest Spots. It was a lively event with some beautifully magic poetry.

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Guest Poet Kathy Gee

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Louisa Davison

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Louisa Campbell

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Miranda L. Barnes

susan taylor

Susan Taylor

shaun butler

Shaun Butler

iris anne lewis

Iris Anne Lewis

James Harris

James Harris

SPF MAGIC ME

I performed one of the shortest poems in the book ‘Linger’.

bethan rees

Bethan Rees

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Simon Williams

SPF MAGIC OPEN

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Guest Poet Liz Mills

A quick stint behind the bar and then it was onto the final afternoon Readings of the festival. I was very much looking forward to seeing Daniel Sluman reading again and discovering the poetry of Alex Josephy, having met her earlier on at the Book Stall. Melissa Lee-Houghton was unable to make it so we had the delight of Julia Webb reading from her collection Bird Sisters (also Nine Arches Press).

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16:30 to 17:30 READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
With Melissa Lee-Houghton, Daniel Sluman & Alex Josephy
Intense and exacting reading from three of Britain’s rawest readers.
Melissa Lee-Houghton was named a Next Generation Poet 2014 for Beautiful Girls. Her latest book, Sunshine (Penned in the Margins, 2016) saw her shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award, Ted Hughes Award and Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Daniel Sluman is a poet and disability rights activist based in Oxfordshire. He was named one of Huffington Post’s Top 5 British Poets to Watch in 2015. His debut collection Absence has a weight of its own was released by Nine Arches Press in 2012. Alex Josephy lives in London and Italy. She has been a student and teacher of poetry all her life and leads a poetry reading group in East London. Her poems have been published widely in magazines and anthologies.

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Alex Josephy


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Daniel Sluman

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Julia Webb

Then came the teatime rush and finally the Festival Finale… which deserves a post all to itself!

Poetry Swindon Festival Day 3

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Photography Credits: Mark Farley (Official Festival photographer) and Richard Jefferies Museum © 2017 Copyright remains with them.

Day 3 

Saturday 7th October 

swindon dog

What better way to spend the weekend than at a poetry festival. Full of energy (and hash browns), I was ready in green for another day in the Tent Palace and Richard Jefferies Museum.

Just like Friday, Saturday kicked off with poetry workshops (after morning meetings for the team).

10:00 to 12:00 WORKSHOP: Blurred Boundaries RJ Museum Tent-Palace
With Tania Hershman
Some poems are also fictions; some stories are also poems. Where does one end and the other begin? We will take a wander through this fuzzy territory, from poem to short story and the weird and wonderful in between.

swindon tania blurred boundaries mf

10:00 to 12:00 WORKSHOP: Being ‘Political’ Holiday Inn 
With Daljit Nagra
Some poems can hit you over the head with their political rage, or they can try to persuade you to their vision as the best way ahead. Explore with Daljit some ways in which poetry can deal with contemporary issues but with complexity and subtlety. Participants should expect to have tried to write their own poems of witness in the session.

Knowing it would stretch me – I opted for a 2nd workshop with Daljit Nagra. Another action packed session and more potential poems scribbled in my notebook. A whole sequence on Education materialised.

Then it was back to the Museum for Lunch before the first afternoon event, another open mic, this time with the theme of Happiness and guest spots from Marilyn Hammick and John Mills.

 

13:00 to 14:00 OPEN MIC: Happiness RJ Museum Tent-Palace
‘Oh god it’s wonderful to get out of bed, drink too much coffee…and love you so much.’ 
Frank O’Hara
This open mic aims to have everyone leaving the tent palace with a smile on their face. Bring us your joys and your gleefulness. Feel like the sun is shining, even if it’s raining! With special guest readings from Marilyn Hammick & John Mills.

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14:30 to 15:30 POETS & PUBLISHERS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Discussions led by poet Carrie Etter with two prominent poetry editors, Amy Wack and Mary Jean Chan. Come and join a discussion about what it takes to get published.
Carrie Etter is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her most recent collection, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society.
Since 1990, American expatriate Amy Wack has edited Seren Books’ multi-prizewinning poetry list. Her own poems have appeared in various journals, most recently a 12-part poem inspired by feral cats in Spain in Long Poem Magazine.
Mary Jean Chan, from Hong Kong, is shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and is Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Ambit, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Callaloo Journal.

This was a truly insightful event to attend and some interesting questions were answered.

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16:00 to 17:00 MAD & GLOW RJ Museum Tent-Palace
Mad & Glow are Jacqueline Saphra and Tania Hershman, but they refuse to tell who is who. However, they do promise to entertain you with brazen stories in poem and prose from each and both; a confederacy of words from a world that contains mad mothers and glowing jellyfish, kisses and war, salt, light and a few waterlilies.

This was an interesting event which will appear again next February at the Verve Festival of Poetry & Spoken Word in Birmingham. I feel a little honoured to have been part of the first outing and had a jam sandwich to boot!

AWF PS Me Sarah

 

Another thing I love about Poetry Swindon is the action on feedback. Last year the only thing missing was somewhere to sit. So they created the bar area for refreshments outside, plenty of picnic tables, relocated the Tent Palace and the old tea room/book shop became a whole room to chill out in, with gingham tablecloths littered with poetry magazines. Sarah and I dip into some our poems made it into and some they didn’t.

SPF Christina Battered Moons
Christina Newton – Organiser Battered Moons

19:00 to 21:00 BATTERED MOONS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
With Malika Booker
Battered Moons 2017 will be celebrating seven winning poets and their poems, with dazzling poet Malika Booker handing out the prizes and reading from her own work. Malika is a Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow at the University of Leeds and chair of the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2016. Her Malika’s Poetry Kitchen has inspired models from Delhi to Chicago.
The evening will include a musical treat brought by the outstanding voice of Caitlin Eastham and her band.

SPF Christina Newton

 

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Caitlin Eastham

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Malika Booker

 

 

A spectacular event (to almost round off the evening) with music, winning poems and Malika Booker (who I first discovered at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year), a woman with a heart as big as Poetry Swindon. It was lovely managing a quick chat with her later in the evening.

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The final event of the evening was a musical one, much acclaimed and my late night bar duty.

21:30 ‘til late LATE NIGHT TOAST SPECIAL RJ Museum Tent-Palace
Keith James in concert – The Songs of Leonard Cohen
With a lifetime reputation of performing and an undying love of the ‘pure song’ Keith James gives you a concert of Cohen’s amazing material in the most intimate and sensitive way imaginable, exposing the solitary inner strength of his greatest songs in their original perfect form.
‘Some of the most atmospheric and emotive music you will ever hear.’
The Independent.

You can catch Keith James here.

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This event was thoroughly enjoyed by all in The Tent Palace of Delicious Air and those of us outside it. *

After a late night bar, we finished late… later than the night before. The Late Night Special finished later than any other event on the schedule, the start scheduled at the time most events finished. Then there was the bar… then after the last festival goers had gone to bed… the team celebrated Sarah L. Dixon’s pre-Birthday, Birthday! Somewhat of a new tradition having managed to have her big, special birthday on her final day in Swindon last year. There was cake and beer.

 

*This year… Sarah started the celebrations before Battered Moons Event…

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Tony Hillier loves any excuse to dance, after we all went to bed on Friday, he went out clubbing… so two late nights in a row for this man who could teach us all a thing or two about partying!

By the time Keith James took to the stage there was a competing house party in the Museum! And like all good parties it happened in the kitchen, no. The bathroom! Pizza had been ordered and merriment was on the agenda.

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I had been outside manning the bar, but realising the games were afoot inside and attempting to go and soundproof the venue, I discovered the epicentre of the party on the landing and you know, these are once in a lifetime moments (like sharing barn hammocks with Angela France and Jo Bell in 2014).

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SPF Anna bath 2

At the officially organised pre-birthday/last night party there was a dance floor, a special mix tape that Hilda had compiled, the Swindon Dog, Poetry Pram balloons and plenty of dancing feet. It was a marvellous, strange, fun night. One that finished just 5 hours before we had to be up again. Sarah herself was having to leave the next day, which had to be an easier exit than workshops, events and stewarding… something to bear in mind when the Dancing Queen pulls this again!

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When a party starts after Midnight… we eventually made it to bed with a few hours to sleep before morning alarms!

AAWF Swindon Party

Meet our Reader in Residence

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Meet our Reader in Residence

My next exciting adventure! I was invited to apply for the position of Reader in Residence through West Midlands Readers’ Network in July. The application and bid were successful and in August I was allocated Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library as my base. September and October involved meetings and emails and this month preparation for my first event.

I am delighted to have this opportunity. I watched Jean Atkin & Deborah Alma have fun with their residencies and have wished for this for a while.

Warwickshire Libraries

Hello!  I’m Nina Lewis, a writer and current Poet Laureate of Worcestershire. I’m very excited to be the brand new Reader In Residence at Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library. My position has been appointed through Roz Goddard of West Midlands Readers’ Network and Warwickshire Libraries.

So far I met some of the team in Warwickshire to make initial plans and introductions. I came to visit Rugby Library, spent a good while looking at a heritage display, dipping into local history books and admiring historical photographs and maps of the area, before meeting the lovely Library staff and the rest of the team.

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I was delighted to find out more about the Poetry Voices work happening in Warwickshire with Brenda Read-Brown and Poetry on Loan. There have been so many great events for you to attend locally. As my residency runs at the same time we decided not to focus…

View original post 159 more words

Poetry Swindon Day 2

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Photography Credits: Mark Farley (Official Festival photographer), Gram Joel Davies, Jennifer Berry and Richard Jefferies Museum © 2017 Copyright remains with them.

So the hardest thing about being on the team helping at Poetry Swindon? The mornings! It was lovely to have the comfort of a bed and I really enjoyed sharing a room with Sarah L. Dixon. Seeing the three resident poets in our hotel was a joy bigger than the happiness my soon to be off the scale Hash Brown addiction brought me… but I am a night owl*, not a morning person, definitely in need of a vat of coffee by Day 2 and panic stricken with the realisation that I may not be able to make this marathon.

*This came in handy for late-night bar duties though.

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After a lovely cooked breakfast (and no washing up) – believe me, for the volunteer team, this is a big thing… although after all the washing up over at Artsite, there wasn’t so much at the Museum, thanks to the ECO-plates and spoons (biodegradable) and no cooking thanks to the Vegan catering and not much breakfast washing up thanks to the generosity of rooms.

The best thing about volunteering (not obviously the best thing), is knowing what to wear in the morning! At the RJ Museum we had morning briefings and time to get the place ready for the programme to begin. I think Hilda and many others in the team had already been preparing and cleaning for about 3 hours before we arrived just after 9 AM.

Day 2 Friday 6th October

Friday morning started with a workshop, one in which volunteers could participate fully, with the exception of making sure everyone was alright and carrying over a few resources only one member of the team had official responsibility – so the hat could be taken off (often a literal measure at Poetry Swindon) for a bit.

The festival programme always offers workshops with the resident poets.

10:00 to 12:00 WORKSHOP: Liberation Through Constraint Sun Inn
With Tania Hershman
Sometimes, imposing constraints can actually set your writing free. We will experiment with various ways to restrict yourself, playing with form, content and length – and seeing what results!

 

AWF PS Tanya

10:00 to 12:00 WORKSHOP: The Dynamic Poem Holiday Inn  With Daljit Nagra
Poems can sometimes seem flat and lack vigour, they can drift along in a dreamy mood without any conviction. Daljit will explore with examples from contemporary poetry how to put the fizz back into a poem. Participants should expect to have attempted at least one new lively poem!

I had chosen to take part in Daljit’s workshop, last year I went to his Masterclass at Poetry Swindon and I couldn’t wait to be led by him again.

There was an exciting buzz over at The Holiday Inn, not just for the participants. Daljit discovered the wonderful 007 Bond style briefcase in the corner. I have since attempted to order something like this, but you have to hire people to laser cut the foam and it is ridiculously expensive.

stationery box

You all want one too now don’t you?

SPF Daljit

It was a fabulous workshop which resulted in a good few skeletal poems in my notebook.

After which Lunch was served and like Cinderella the team were all reunited from Poetry Ballrooms back into stewarding roles. To serve drinks and lunch, sell books, keep everything clean and tidy and make sure everyone was having the best festival experience.

The afternoon saw two events starting with an open mic. This event was ticketed and people were able to pre-book open mic spots. Another element I love about Poetry Swindon is all Festival Pass ticket holders can perform at the festival as part of the open mic event in a guest spot. This is a real bonus of buying a festival pass and something it would be great to be offered by other festivals. Although, this is another treasure that makes Poetry Swindon stand out, gleaming and shining as it does.

13:00 to 14:00 OPEN MIC – Strange Days RJ Museum Tent-Palace
‘There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.’ 
Edgar Allan Poe
Read us poems that don’t see straight. Poems that bounce, poems that are unflat, poems that pretend to be other things…or just bring us your anything strange! With special guest readings from Rachael Clyne & Jinny Fisher.
Spaces limited.

Strange Days Jinny Fisher

Jinny Fisher

Strange days Bethan Rees

Bethan Rees

Strange days John Mills

John Mills

strange days Vik Shirley

Vik Shirley

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Robert Stredder

Strange Days John 1

Jonathan Robert Muirhead

strange d anna lewis

Iris Anne Lewis

stran days

Shaun Butler

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Sarah L. Dixon

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Miranda L. Barnes

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Rachael Clyne

Photography Credit Gram Joel Davies ©2017

I sadly missed the next event. I was not quite ready when it started and after wandering around to try to find the bunch of poets in hats, I gave up. Most regrettable, it looks like it was a wondrous experience. Hats were compulsory!

14:30 – 16:30 Coate Water Poetry Ramble

Starting by the Mulberry Tree take a voyage of discovery to Coate Water with Poet Sarah L. Dixon, expect to be surprised, exercised and poetised.

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Photo Credits to Jennifer Berry © 2017

 

 

October Review (better late than never)

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Just before we reach the halfway point of November I thought I would get my head down and tell you about last month!

October was such a whirlwind month. An abundant welcome into the winter and came with the realisation that I have not submitted anything for 5 months (I have organised enough WPL events to fill 100 pages of my notebook) and written more commissioned poems than I can count on all my fingers and toes… but this is something I want to get back to before the end of the year. So now I will find some extra time to carve out, December is looking good!

WEEK 1: 

I wanted to go to Kim Moore’s workshop at Buzzwords, but I didn’t get back from my stint in London at the Poetry Book Fair/Free Verse in time. Well technically, I could have detoured to Cheltenham in time but energy levels were so long I didn’t think I would manage the late drive home or even stay awake for writing and my brain was as tired as my body. It was amazing according to everyone who was there and having taken her workshop at the Verve Festival in February, I don’t doubt it!

I had my Adam Speaks Treehouse poem accepted for the NT project at Croome Court. With NPD, Credo and then hot-footing down South I had forgotten the deadline on this writing, which was already tight. This was the first poem I was forced to send on my phone, thank goodness it was a submission in the body of an email. I had to send it from Free Verse and it was a definite last minute submission. Fortunately, I didn’t look too rude doing so as the hall was packed with poets live tweeting.

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© Croome Court/Adam Speaks

I had a school workshop planned which sadly had to be postponed, I look forward to this in 2018 although I expect to change my plans to fit the curriculum topics in the Spring Term.

Then I went down to Swindon for the Poetry Festival, now in it’s 5th year (and my 3rd). I cannot express how much I love this festival. This was my first year of stewarding, generally I buy festival passes or lots of events tickets and arrive as a punter, network, drink and absorb poetry into my very core. I knew working on the team would make this experience completely different but I also knew it was a solid team to be part of and saw volunteering as the biggest thank you I could give.

I was also booked to perform V Formation with fellow V. Press Poets Stephen Daniels and Gram Joel Davies (also notably on the team).

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Some of the team and performers at the opening event POEMS ALOUD Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon

V FORMATION – POETS of V. PRESS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
A celebration of three new and exciting voices in British poetry: Stephen Daniels, Gram Joel Davies and Nina Lewis.
Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. His debut pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them was published in 2017 by V. Press. Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon and his pamphlet, Bolt Down This Earth was V. Press’ Forward Prize nominee for 2017. Nina Lewis is Worcestershire Poet Laureate and her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016.

Our readings were on the 1st night and the event went well, was well attended and people were still talking about it a few days later.

Swindon Poetry Festival needs a blog post and I will write a full review as soon as I can find time to do so. Another case of better late than never!

 

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Highlights in brief:

WORKSHOP: The Dynamic Poem Holiday Inn  With Daljit Nagra
Poems can sometimes seem flat and lack vigour, they can drift along in a dreamy mood without any conviction. Daljit will explore with examples from contemporary poetry how to put the fizz back into a poem. Participants should expect to have attempted at least one new lively poem!

READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Poke into the poetry box! Treasures of the heart, inca-named stardust, and various severed body parts! An hour of humour and water with Sue Rose, Emma Simon and Simon Williams.
Emma Simon won the Prole Laureate poetry competition in 2013 and loss, love & severed body parts scatter through her first collection Dragonish (The Emma Press). Simon Williams latest collection, Inti, was published in July. Sue Rose is the author of three poetry collections. Heart Archives was published by Hercules Editions in 2014.

POETS & PUBLISHERS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Discussions led by poet Carrie Etter with two prominent poetry editors, Amy Wack and Mary Jean Chan. Come and join a discussion about what it takes to get published.
Carrie Etter is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her most recent collection, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society.
Since 1990, American expatriate Amy Wack has edited Seren Books’ multi-prizewinning poetry list. Her own poems have appeared in various journals, most recently a 12-part poem inspired by feral cats in Spain in Long Poem Magazine.
Mary Jean Chan, from Hong Kong, is shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and is Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Ambit, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Callaloo Journal.

WORKSHOP: Call and Response Sun Inn With Rishi Dastidar
We’ve all been to workshops where we’ve been inspired by other poems, maybe visual art too, and then written in response to them. So what happens when we use pop songs instead? That’s the simple premise behind ‘Call and Response’, where some great music will hopefully provide great inspiration for writing poems. Just bring some paper, pencils – and your ears.
Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. His debut collection, Ticker-tape, is published by Nine Arches Press.

and more…

During the festival I missed the beginning of Birmingham Literature Festival and a meeting with the poets involved in the Elgar Poetry Project.

Week 2: 

Swindon Poetry Festival and the highlights of the weekend. An amazing end to the festival was Monday morning, breakfast with Daljit and then Breakfast and Poetry over at the Tent Palace as our festival finale.

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I got back on Monday afternoon and Monday evening was straight out to open mic at Licensed to Rhyme in the new venue Cafe Morso, Barnt Green.

cafe_1imag© Cafe Morso

Fergus McGonigal was headlining, so good to see him again and to see him back on the circuit with his new book, now one of my new shiny books too!

Everyone is now unhappy© Burning Eye 

As WPL I was busy gathering submissions for World Mental Health Day – as Mental Health Week started when I was in Swindon and I had been hit by the dreaded Swindon Lurgy! Which meant I missed most of the events at Birmingham Literature Festival that I planned to go to!

I was also organising the Hanbury Hall Project for poets to go and write about artwork displayed in the Long Gallery by DAN. The Gallery opened on the 10th and the exhibition ran until the 29th and they had over 3300 visitors, only 15 of which were poets!

Not as WPL but as a poet I was also busy preparing INKSPILL – our online writing retreat.

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I missed tons of events being ill (proper ill with blankets).

Week 3: 

I made it back to the edge of health in time to perform as WPL at the SpeakEasy event for Mental Health Day at Cafe Bliss, this is a wonderful annual event which brings together speakers from a variety of Mental Health and Wellbeing backgrounds, agencies such as The Samaritans and this year The Shaw Trust and of course local poets.

It was a very moving experience and a good afternoon. I also received submissions for the World Mental Health Day Anthology from participants. I love it when the WPL projects reach local people through events and radio broadcasts. I made the decision to keep the submission open on the Mental Health collection for the duration of my tenure. We raise awareness of it a few times a year through these calendar events, but actually it is everyday living for 1 in 4 (official statistics were 1 in 5 but recent NHS figures show 1 in 4).

The following day after dragging myself around a D.I.Y store with Mr G. I diagnosed myself healthy enough to venture into Birmingham to catch Joe Cook and Hollie McNish at the Town Hall. This is the 2nd time this year I have seen Hollie and she was as wonderful as ever. It was also the 2nd time this year I gave up on queuing to meet her. I met her several times in 2015 and I know I will get my new books signed one day!

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© Birmingham Mail

I had planned to get to Wellington Festival, but I still wasn’t 100% well and also my car was slightly damaged over the weekend.

I made it to Hanbury Hall and was able to meet up with the Cheltenham contingency of poets (well, some of them). I took plenty of photos and notes and ended up writing 8 poems – 6 of which will make it public.

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On the 18th I was back in Birmingham for Stablemates at Waterstones. Jill Abram always sends me an invite to these London events, so I could hardly refuse when she brought it to the Midlands. It was a fantastic night. I really felt uplifted by the end of it. It was also a chance to finally meet and watch Rosie Garland who I have heard so much about. I got to see Jackie Hagan again (last time I saw her was at Hit the Ode) and listening to Henry Normal was a pleasure, I love the fact his is Oscar nominated and a BAFTA winner and has yet returned to his first love of poetry.

I started to promote my first WPL event for children, which had been in the pipeline for a while. The WLF team produce a Halloween Event for LITtleFest at St.John’s library which along with the usual storytelling, pumpkin carving and treats I included a Writing Workshop for 5 – 9+ years old.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

I also had a call out for Halloween Poem Submissions which needed a push.

I spent the tail end of the week working on the Elgar Poetry commission (WPL).

 

Week 4 

I had my 2nd writing meeting with Spark Young Writers at The Hive, we had a go at our own spooky theme and also had the new WWM Operations Assistant, Heddwen Creaney come to visit our group.

I spent 4 days busily researching Elgar and completing 14 new poems for the event in November.

I spent some admin time organising festival events for 2018.

I worked on my WMRN role as Reader in Residence for Rugby Library organising next month’s Review Writing Workshop.

I had my WPL spot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding, talked about the Elgar Project and Mental Health. I shared my poem ‘First Steps’ from Fragile Houses.

In the evening I enjoyed dressing up for Halloween (I looked like a Gothic Librarian – but what I wanted was Suz Winspear our first Goth Poet Laureate) and went to 42. It was rather cramped as we were in the Lunar Bar upstairs and it was a great turn out for the night. It also gave me a chance to promote the Halloween submission call too.

I missed Jenna Clake’s Book Launch of ‘Fortune Cookie’ in Birmingham, which I was gutted about but I also asleep by the time it started. So the right call was made!

We had a Stanza meeting and then it was Week 5!

 

Week 5 

INKSPILL of course, which needs no introduction around here… our 5th annual online writing retreat – it is mad to think we have been going for as long as Swindon Poetry Festival! This year’s Guest Poets were Antony Owen & Stephen Daniels, both fellow V. Press poets, although I hadn’t realised that until after the booking.

It was a massively successful and fun weekend. Take a look at the programme page if you missed it and you should be able to navigate through from there using the menu tools on screen.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/inkspill-2017-programme/

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It was also the Halloween Event at the library – where my workshop was attended by children aged 4 to 12, all enjoyed themselves and watched me, dressed as a witch attempting to fly around the room. They did ask why my face wasn’t green and I told them all about the family tea party I was going to afterwards.

It was fun and the most exhausting WPL event yet!

On Sunday I spent a long time creating the first issue of the WPL Magazine Contour – submissions all about Place/Worcestershire closed at the end of August and since then I have been sifting through work. Fortunately during some local research I discovered Philip Halling and we were able to use his images throughout the magazine with a few additions from local poets.

 

The end of the DAN Exhibition at Hanbury Hall was marked with a closing celebration on the 30th which Polly Stretton was invited to read her poem ‘Curves’ at. Polly won a competition created by Peter Hawkins (Chair) to find a poem for the closing of the exhibition. I sneaked one of mine in as WPL/Organiser of the poetry part of the project.

The artist for my piece was there, Stephen Evans and I am delighted that he will be using my work alongside his painting in his next exhibition in December.

I successfully completed a WPL Productions Poetry Film to show off the Halloween Poetry Submissions and added some prose as a one off Poet Laureate special to the blog.

 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

More on the Adam Speaks Launch day next month.

Adam Speaks National Trust Launch Event

Buy your copy of Fergus McGonigal’s new book here

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/everyone-is-now-unhappy

INKSPILL Guest Poet Stephen Daniels Workshop Exercise

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We asked Stephen Daniels for a workshop activity. Get your pens ready! 

‘Wordslast’ is a poem from Stephen’s debut collection. tell mistakes

It started life as a workshop poem, written in one of Hilda Sheehan’s workshops. Stephen shared the poem during his interview earlier and now shares the exercise.

We read a poem called ‘deer suddenly’ by Carola Luther (the start of the poem can be found here here) – in the poem the poet pushes together words to add pace, to surprise and for originality.

I was then asked to try the same – push words together, maybe even pull them apart and see what happens to your writing.

My poem ‘Wordslast’ does something similar but I used the reversal of these pushed together words to drive the narrative. I think this  technique is a good way of surprising yourself with writing, and the experimentation can help us find a way into subjects that can be tough for us to access otherwise.

 

INKSPILL Taster or Teaser

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The full programme including this year’s Guest Writers will be revealed on the 27th. We have a new feature for 2017 – The INKSPILL Library where you will have instant access to selected archives from 2013 -2016 Writing Retreats.

INKSPILL Library

The Library will be open on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday when it features additional archived material. 

We are featuring 2 Guest Writers this year.

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They will be revealed on the 27th. 

There will be short writing tasks, exercises and workshop activities, creative tests, exclusive interviews with our Guest Writers, book promotion (the INKSPILL Bookshop will be open all weekend), monologues, Inspiring Women Writers, a look at Thomas Hardy, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen & Siegfried Sassoon, Goal Setting, an interview with Zadie Smith, writing advice from Novelist Jill Dawson, an interview with Lee Child, editors discussing modern writing and the Launch of Contour WPL Magazine. As well as rich pickings from the archive featuring previous guests: Charlie Jordan, William Gallagher, Heather Wastie, David Calcutt, Alison May, Deanne Gist, Daniel Sluman, Gaia Harper & Roy McFarlane and more. 

 

 

5th Annual Writing Retreat INKSPILL

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INKSPILL 2017 Coming Soon Celebrate Our 5th Year

Book yourself some time off and treat yourself to a FREE online writing retreat this Autumn. Join us in real time, or wander around the posts at your leisure.
Easy links to previous years will also be available.

SPECIAL GUESTS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!