Category Archives: workshops

Cheltenham Poetry Festival

Standard

Cheltenham-Logo-306x134

This year’s programme was fantastic and I wish I had managed more events than I did. I however, managed a full dose of Hegley – which makes up for missing the rest of the long list of performances and events I wanted to attend.

John Hegley is one of the few poets that I discovered in my Young Writer years – back when he was touring with his band, Popticians. In fact one of the few university birthdays I remember was watching them at the Phoenix Arts Centre and meeting him.

There was a Hegley shaped hole for a while – he seemed to have disappeared – possibly into fatherhood – for the past few years he has been back on the radar. Or on my radar at least. Some of you will remember my posts from his performances and workshops back in 2015.

hegley

I was delighted to see New and Selected Potatoes as an error in reading dates on a flyer meant I missed him at the MAC. It was an enjoyable show, thoroughly entertaining as one would expect – but the magic treat was bestowed on Cheltenham that night in the Playhouse. We were privy to a new poem, something he is working on for the Roundhouse. I always feel privileged when my ears get an inside like this.

I finally bought John’s book and had a lovely chat about the show, because he is a very kind man who always spends time with each person queuing for a signature. Someone in the line behind me nearly bought a book that wasn’t one of his – I am sure he would have signed it anyway, he has a big heart like that.

nspot Bloodaxe © 2013

I made a night of it by going for an Italian meal with friends who had been to see the show too.

The following day, (I know I should have booked a B&B) I was back in Cheltenham to enjoy my second Hegley workshop. It was great fun, a good group and lots of people I did not know, which is always exciting for me. We had taken a poem and some art and most of our activities were based around these.

John had us all write about Potatoes too (of course) and crowd sourced a fantastic poem for Anna Saunders *Director of the festival – I will have to go and see if she has had time to use it anywhere.

It was a fabulous morning and finishing slightly before time I headed down to Waterstones with John and Anna, chatting and narrowly missing lampposts along the way! Once at Waterstones, I mingled with the poets from the Open Mic event which had finished and caught up with friends. Then John started his impromptu take over of the floor. (Photos to follow.)

We all joined in with a choral poem and had a great time before he was whisked away to that place festival poets go and I was left to retrace steps and try to find my car before the ticket ran out!

Next year, I have to plan work better to be released for this poetry festival.

2017-brochure-cover1

Mental Health Awareness Week – With You in Mind Anthology

Standard

Back in 2015 I became aware of ‘The With You in Mind’ anthology that Sarah James compiled from her website, where she shared poems for Mental Health Awareness. That same year she produced The Magnetic Diaries, a poetry-play based on her collection of the same name, for the Write On Festival at The Courtyard Arts Centre, Hereford.

Since then the show has developed and toured. The ACE-funded tour included performances at Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Bristol Poetry Festival, Hereford’s Chapel Arts Centre, FEAST festival at Malvern Cube, mac birmingham and London’s The Vaults. It was also a Highly Recommended Show at Edinburgh Fringe 2016, where it had a two-week run at Aviary at ZOO Venues. © 2016 Sarah James

Alongside the touring show, Sarah facilitated Pain to Poetry workshops, one of which I was lucky enough to participate in at the MAC.

Birmingham-MD-A3-300-DPI-Web-E-Flyer-724x1024

This year Sarah added to the collection during Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14th May) with poems produced as a result of the Pain to Poetry workshops.

My initial idea was to re-blog the posts/poems as they came in throughout the week (but due to technical issues, we were offline).

The week started with Hide and Seek by Louise Stokes. If you would like to read the daily posts then follow this link and click the ‘next post’ button at the bottom of each page.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8080

Alternatively you can use this link to the updated ‘With You in Mind’ anthology and read the poems from 2015 and 2017.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=5639

My own poems – Anchored and Hallmarks can be found here Nina Lewis

I am grateful for the opportunity to share work on this subject, especially as I know that without suffering depression I may not have found my way back to writing.

mhaw17-badge-tile

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=5670

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=6732

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8073

The Magnetic Diaries

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Review April 2017

Standard

As always NaPoWriMo takes over April and makes it challenging to keep other blog posts up to date. I have made an effort to keep the blog NaPo intentionally this month with a few posts breaking the thread. I have had some amazing experiences this month which deserve a dedicated blogging. I plan to pepper them in throughout May.

 

WEEK 1:

I was asked to co-ordinate an event for a Festival I am already involved with – this task took the best part of a fortnight. But I am happy that it is all now booked and in place for this summer. I spent further weeks this month planning and organising the events for an Arts Festival in July.

I went to an editing workshop. Taking with me a poem from 2014 that has never fully worked. I can safely say it has the treatment now and just in time because it formed part of the set I performed at The Poetry Ballroom.

Poetry Ballroom

I experienced the Poetry Ballroom. Suz Winspear (this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate) organised this event in partnership with DanceFest. It was an amazing night. I will be blogging a full write up in May, I was honoured to be an invited performer at the event and had great fun writing some dance poems especially for it. The evening was a sound success and the dancers appreciated the theme of our poetry – not realising that we would focus on dance. As an ex-dancer, it was a pleasure.

I was asked to endorse a book (my 2nd one). The first book I endorsed is due to launch in May, more on that next month too. I am currently reading this manuscript and am delighted that the publishers thought of me.

I was asked to read at a Book Launch next month. I have spent some time this month penning new poems for this occasion. To be honest the poems were also part of NaPoWriMo, but why not make your projects work hard for you. Lots of prompts leant themselves to current project pies I have my thumbs in, so given half a chance…napo2017button1

I went to a reading at The Hive with Sarah Leavesley & Melissa Lee-Houghton. I was really excited by this. Ruth Stacey had arranged it for her students at university and just gave a bit of a quiet shout out. thehiveworcsorg

Being part of an audience of students, listening to their woes made me glad this wasn’t my life anymore. It is all to easy to glamorize the undergraduate/post grad life… but really… as much pressure as the real world.

hive5

I loved hearing Sarah read from Magnetic Diaries again after all this time and it was a real treat to hear Melissa Lee-Houghton, as she sadly couldn’t make Verve festival in the end. It was a great evening and I am glad I managed the post work rush to get there. Had to drive a hire car too – as my window decided to malfunction and I spent over an hour finding a garage willing to help me so late on in the day. The window was stuck in the down position. My lesson: using air con is cheaper in the long run!

I spent time writing the brief for a 2nd poetry festival event, involving the other two poets. It is amazing how many days it can take 3 poets to come up with less than 3 lines!

typewriter-1227357_1280

Back in February (my month of applications), I applied for Room 204 Writer Development Programme run by WWM. They had over 130 applicants this year for 15 places. I am delighted to announce the embargo has lifted and I can share this news. We had our first cohort meeting – what a great year to be in, so much talent. We had a photo shoot (one I wanted a haircut and weight-loss for) – neither happened in the days beforehand, but Paul Stringer is a talented photographer. It was a fun morning, we were all so excited to be part of the 2017/18 cohort and already good things have happened as a result. There is a whole year of mentoring and career development ahead, over £1000 worth. Priceless if you ask me.

room 204

I am extremely excited to be part of Room 204, I discovered it back in 2013 and have been biding my time and developing my writing to the point I thought I was able to qualify for a place on the scheme. I am grateful my application was successful. That my writing stood up to the scrutiny and competition. Here’s the rest of this year’s cohort

https://www.writingwestmidlands.org/room-204-participants-201718/

I also reconnected with a good friend of mine afterwards and we plan to exchange books and do lunch next time I am back in the area. I used to spend more time in Birmingham than I do at the moment. I am spending less time on the road this year and more time at the desk, the natural pattern of a writer. It was good catching up.

WEEK 2

Went to an incredibly exciting meeting at the Custard Factory for this year’s Room 204 programme, which we were embargoed about. The news was finally released on the 11/12th. Rm-204-logo-final-solo-600x328

Started typing NaPo poems, I decided to write longhand this year, which gave me that workshop feeling as much of my writing is straight to screen nowadays. It meant I successfully completed the challenge with 97 poems by the end of the month, however I have typed about 10 to edit so far.

Made a promotional Easter video for Fragile Houses. I was reading advice on marketing and promotion and find it hard to detail what my pamphlet with give you beyond shared experience, memory and space to work through mirrored realities. Which all seems a high promise or at the worst an abstract manifesto. Then I thought about chocolate, the calories (personally delighted this year to have so many eggs and treats). easter Had another 3 eggs after this photo was taken!

I spent half a day making the video. Poetry – less calories than chocolate. Maybe I should have offered a free egg with every book sold.

I booked onto a Room 204 event for later in the month.

Started writing a book review and went to see Kate Bush tribute Cloudbusting with Mr G. katebush

I missed License to Rhyme again as the next day I was going to Swindon. Rick Saunders aka Willis the Poet was headlining and he was happy to take me on the road trip. It was a cracking night at Oooh Beehive – a night that Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell started a while ago. Swindon is quite a way on a school night and it was the early hours by the time I was home, but it was the Easter holidays and I am glad I managed it. Lovely to see Sam Loveless and Edward, who I met at the Poetry Festival last year.

I went to HOWL and watched amazing headline sets from Charley Barnes, Tom McCann and Rhythmical Mike. It was a great night and I was happy I made an open mic spot. It was fabulous to see everyone again. HOWL

I went to SpeakEasy where Gareth Owens was headlining. That was a good night too – rare these days that I manage 3 nights on the hoof like this. I spent the day beforehand making media for an upcoming festival shoe and dealing with programme copy.

It was nice to escape for a few hours and immerse myself in poetry.

The Beltane Anthology for 2017 was published by Three Drops from a Cauldron, which has my Rag Tree poem in it. I know you should never judge a book by the cover – but with this stunning design, who wouldn’t want to see their poetry inside!

beltane.jpg

Featuring poetry and flash fiction by Jane Burn, Rhiannon Hooson, Alison Stone, Denise Blake, Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt, Eleanor Penny, Tom Moody, Bee Smith, Rebecca Buchanan, Rebecca Gethin, Nina Lewis, Wendy Mannis Scher, Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon, Sarah Hart, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Kitty Coles, Donald Illich, Dennis Trujillo, Lesley Burt, Cynthia June Long, Vivien Jones, Moyra Donaldson, Maggie Mackay, Bethany Rivers, Lewis Buxton, Carmina Masoliver, Nico Solheim-Davidson, R.M. Francis, Linda Goulden, Ilse Pedler, and Joanna Swan.

Edited by Kate Garrett, with the Three Drops from a Cauldron editorial team: Becca Goodin, Loma Jones, Amy Kinsman, Holly Magill, Penny Sharman, Grant Tarbard, and Claire Walker.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-garrett/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/paperback/product-23143262.html

It is now also available in digital copy.

https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2017/04/14/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-beltane-2017/

Week 3

I had a free writing webinar with The Writers Academy & Penguin Random House, it was an interesting few hours, although I wrote copious notes not realising they were sending follow up information via email.

I had my first Room 204 1 to 1 session, we get 3 over the course of the year. It was useful and I have already started working on decisions.Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

I spent an entire day co-ordinating and planning for festival events.

Holly Daffurn has started a new venture – at Bottles Wine Bar, ‘Uncorked’ an evening of Spoken Word, there were over 50 tickets sold and the night was divided into 3 parts with 5 headliners and open mic. Ambitious scheduling, beautiful venue and a stellar line up made for a perfect evening. uncorked

I performed on the open mic. Brilliant Headliners: Jasmine Gardosi, Casey Bailey, Holly Daffurn, Leon Priestnall & Joe Cooke

The Spring edition of Birmingham Literature Festival happened and despite a fantastic programme (all well received), I was unable to make it across to the city for any events. I even missed Cynthia Miller’s Primers Launch.

BLF Spring

I had my WWM group which meant I couldn’t attend some of the events/workshops on Saturday. The group went really well, we made our own magazines. I have since planned the final two session, so feel ahead of the game.

Week 4

I booked tickets to go and see Carol Ann Duffy in May, continued to organise festival events. The Stourbridge Literature Festival started. I went to see Emma Purshouse headline at Spoken Trend, saw Carla Rickets headline too. It was a great night, I even went home with 3 daffodils, now that is a good night.

I took a Napowrimo poem to Stanza and it was approved. I have written 97 in total this month as I have followed 2 main prompts, the main site napwrimo.net and joined Carrie Etter’s group where she provided us with 30 optional prompts. Beyond the poems, I have researched and stumbled into new project territory which is most exciting. Carrie’s group was amazing for comradery and support. Jo Bell spent the entire month posting poems for us to read as it is as important as writing and a sure way to learn/ learn about poetry. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems and discussions on her blog and will miss this daily ritual and ponder more than I will miss the onslaught of daily poetry writing.

imgID54935282.jpg.gallery I went to the first talk organised by Room 204 and now have a notebook full of information and ideas.

And the month finished with a flurry of PR for VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE at Stourbridge Literature Festival.

The first of 3 events I have been organising. A combined reading with: vpress sb I will blog about the festival/event over the coming days. Within 24 hours I will be promoting Cheltenham Poetry Festival and over the next 5 days working towards 30-40-60 the collaborative performance booked into this year’s Worcester Literature Festival.

I will not have time to be sad about the end of NaPoWriMo, but I hope to have time to type edit some of the work produced during April.

This was a GREAT month!

 

 

Mad March

Standard

time-430625_1280

It has certainly been insanely busy this month, I knew I would need to allocate blogging time elsewhere and I am delighted to see some of the older posts reactivated.

I have been working on writing and submitting as well as organising events and completing applications. I have missed events due to a lack of energy and am battling constantly with balance.

You will be able to read about the events in my monthly review (the end of March will be here before we know it).

In the meantime here are some links you may enjoy!

cart3  For those who need motivation

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/whats-the-point-keeping-motivation-alive/?frame-nonce=0c88788c2f

This post includes links to lots of related posts too – although it is fairly narcissistic, please forgive me – it was 2015!

For entertainment and knowledge try

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-how-to-get-rejected-guest-writer-william-Gallagher/

from 2014 Inkspill AWF Writing Retreat

Something to watch

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-poetry-film-2/?frame-nonce=0c88788c2f

Try Poetry International – originally posted in Inkspill 2015

Want to write?

Try this workshop post on characters also from Inkspill 2015

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-workshop-2-creating-characters/?frame-nonce=0c88788c2f

 

 

Review of October

Standard

Review of October

Week 1

Following advice I was trying to not be too busy pre-book launch but after a week off events I took my writing group for Writing West Midlands, watched all the poetry coverage on BBC2, missed another writing deadline and decided that I would drive to Cheltenham to Buzzwords and catch David Clarke and Cliff Yates (another new-to-me poet).

Buzzwords was great, I realised I hadn’t been for over a year. I had a fabulous evening and do not regret it, despite it being the night before my launch. I read my latest poem – a work on tribal philosophy and have some poetry drafts from the workshop to work on when I get a chance (Christmas holidays maybe).

I had imagined I would spend Monday getting ready for the evening – but in reality I missed writing deadlines, overslept, did everything I could to reduce the nervous anxiety of what if no-one turns up and finally at about 2pm started to get organised.

I am going to write a full post about the launch and some follow up posts about the organisation aspects, as there is a gap of relevant information in this area.

fh-sarah-3

Waterstones Book Launch for Fragile Houses in Birmingham with Guest Readers – Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. It was a cracking night, the next morning I woke up to go to work and it felt like a dream.

The following evening I headlined at Stirchley Speaks. I have been headlining since Autumn 2014 but this is the first time I had a book to sell. I did leave home without them and had to turn back to grab the bag, I knew there was something I had forgotten. Since this night I have started using a large event handbag and always carry a couple of copies.

Stirchley Speaks was a great night and I sold lots of books, I realised at this point I had underestimated how many I should order. Taking advice from Jane Commane back in 2014 who said that audience doesn’t necessarily convert to readership. I was aware not everyone I know will buy the book. I have a list of people who want a copy next time I see them too.

It was good to catch up with everybody in the P Café and it was an incredible night of poetry.

The next day I contacted my publishers and ordered another box.

I hadn’t submitted any poetry for a while and had news of one of my poems being published in the USA. More on that when it happens.

national-poetry-day-messages

I treated myself to an evening off and a little rest before National Poetry Day, which is fast becoming one of my favourite dates on the calendar.

I collected my new batch of books and went to Suz Winspear’s NPD event in Worcester. As Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz is working hard this year in the city and found a brand new venue for the NPD Event. Berkeley Almshouses was the venue and some of the residents came to enjoy the event. It was a great evening and the old chapel had fabulous acoustics and suited Suz very well.

almshousesnpd

This year’s theme was messages and I certainly sent a few texts whilst trying to track down the entrance to the venue. Great sets from everyone and I got to catch up with Math Jones (up from London) and Ruth Stacey. I even sold a book!

I spent the weekend Fri- Sun at Swindon Poetry Festival, it was 2nd year there and much as I loved it last year, this year was EVEN better! It deserves a full post and as I pretty much did everything on the programme, will certainly need one. A great way to finish an exhausting, fantastic week in my poetryskin!

swindon

Other great news was Matt Windle became Birmingham’s new Poet Laureate and by the end of the week I had sold over 50 copies of my book!

 

Week 2

Started with a recovery day. I started to create Poetry Films, something I have got hooked on. Last year Sarah Leavesley kindly tutored a group of us in the art of production and I was inspired by the Poetry Films I had seen at Swindon. There are several poems in my pamphlet that I will rarely perform. These are all now Poetry Films.

On my recovery day I spent some INKSPILL admin time and rehearsed a set for Licensed to Rhyme. Roy McFarlane was headlining. It was a great night and I was allowed to sell my pamphlets, they had a table and everything.

The next evening I went to Ledbury to the Poetry Salon where Deborah Alma was reading and finally got a copy of her book, ‘True Tales of the Countryside’, a beautiful Emma Press pamphlet. deb-alma2

I unexpectedly performed in the open mic section. Fragile Houses reached Ledbury. It has since reached Palestine, Malta, Holland and Australia to my knowledge. It was a wonderful, rich evening and great to see Ledbury folk again.

This week was also Birmingham Literature Festival and due to work commitments and events was the first time since coming back to writing (2013) that I missed it. The night after Ledbury Liz Berry and Benjamin Zephaniah were performing and also Gregory Leadbetter had his book launch for ‘Fetch’ (Nine Arches) at Waterstones, Birmingham with Angela France and Jo Bell reading.

roy-gregory-leadbetter-nine-arches

© 2016 Nine Arches

I was gutted to miss both these events but with working and poeting I had no energy and if I remember rightly was asleep as soon as I had finished tea.

The following night Luke Kennard was performing in Birmingham and I missed it because it clashed with SpeakEasy, where I was already performing. Roy McFarlane was the feature and it was a joy to listen to him twice in one week.

Fragile Houses received a Chez Nous Review which I was delighted to discover came from Gram Joel Davies. He actually chose some of my favourite foods – go and have a read.

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/chez-nous-recommendations-for-fragile.html

By the end of the week I was run down with illness and missed Holding Baby a play by Jan Watts and the rest of the Book to the Future Festival (again for the first time since 2013). I hope to catch the show another time, I have heard nothing but good things about it.

It was great to finish the week with a Madhatter Review http://www.madhatterreviews.co.uk/books–e-books.html

 

Week 3

Fragile Houses has positive reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.

I was asked to do something that I am really excited about, more on that next year. I spent days preparing for INKSPILL in shifts of 8 – 12 hours.

Mr G and I went to London to see Woven Hand.

I was too tired to manage Hit the Ode and Smokestack Poetry Evening event clash), both in Birmingham, both top nights. I also missed the Dylan Thomas Festival, running for the first year in Cheltenham. Unfortunately it clashed with INKSPILL this year.

inkspill-2016-share-button

I signed up to an online course ‘Arts for Health’ and performed poetry for ‘She Speaks Her Mind’ Woo Feministas – alongside Suz Winspear, Charley Barnes, Claire Badsey & Holly Magill.

Then of course it was INKSPILL with Gaia Harper, Roy McFarlane and Deanne Gist. This was the 4th year for us and it was a success. I already have Guests and plans lined up for 2017.

magneticdiaries-f

The Magnetic Diaries – which I saw in it’s infancy in Hereford last year was on at the MAC and although I couldn’t make the show I did make Sarah Leavesley’s workshop ‘Pain to Poetry’. I have some poetry notes and one poem so far from this and it was a challenging (emotionally) but not unpleasant experience. I also got time to reconnect with many poetry friends I have not seen in a while.

 

Week 4

I spent the early part of the week writing. I entered a few free poetry competitions. I took some bookings for next year and exchanged pamphlets with J.V Birch through the post. She is a childhood friend, now living in Australia and has also become a poet at the same time as me. It has been exciting to map and mirror each other’s journeys through this new world.

I dressed up for Halloween as a ‘Cereal Killer’ and went off to perform at the Halloween Special 42 in Worcester. Where (due to the wig) people didn’t recognise me. It was a fabulous night and a great excuse to dress up. Fantastic sets from everyone.

42-oct            42-hal

42-hal2

photos by Liam Cortintias

The next day I had to do my best to get all the make up off and go to a workshop run by Angela France, the theme was Fairy Tales and I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and even sold a few books.

I listened to poetry on Radio 4 and missed my Stanza meeting to take part in a Charity Quiz night. All teams of 8 and due to circumstances we ended up with just 4 in our team. We were going for the Booby Prize but decided it was hard to share a bottle of wine and so started to get answers right. We came in 5th not too shoddy, somewhere in the middle. Over £1000 was raised for MacMillan.

I hoped to go to Lania Knight’s workshop, having missed her last one due to a crash on the motorway, but this weekend we celebrated a special family birthday.

 

September Review (better late than never)

Standard

So the Christmas adverts haven’t gone unnoticed and I realise we are fast approaching the end of November, (I realise this as I haven’t started seasonal shopping yet)! It has been a really busy Autumn, which is great as this is the life I wanted… it does mean that my blogging time has diminished.

I have some great ideas how to utilise this blog in 2017 that will fit into the ever-increasingly busier patterns I now exist in. I will save the big reveal for the New Year whilst I focus on the backlog!


REVIEW OF SEPTEMBER

September was the most exciting month of 2016 so far, my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’ made it out of editorial and to the printers and I was able to get my teeth into something I do well, organising the Book Launch event and promoting.

fragile-houses-best I was always a little unsure how soon to the end of the process the book had to be before the promoting could begin. Hard work after keeping it a secret for so long. Frustrating though the length of time it all took was, I am glad we launched in October because it is close enough to still being NEW at Christmas! So if, like me, you haven’t started shopping yet…

The rest of September wasn’t too bad either.

Week 1

I finally managed to get back over to Permission to Speak, where Walsall Poetry Society had the headline slot. A collective of poets with a great range of work. Richard Archer – a poet from Walsall helped set this up. Richard has written 3 books of poetry and has performed his work on TV and radio. He describes his poems as a sideways look at life as he tries to dissect the world around him, failing or succeeding in equal measure.

Richard was joined by founding member Bryan Sydney Griffin a.k.a “LaGrif”, Marrianne Burgess, Paul Elwell, Ian Ward and Vicki MacWinyers.

pts

I was also delighted to see Steve Harrison there, our paths haven’t crossed in a while. Busy poets that we are, with a few Counties of separation. It was a good evening and it felt like coming home. Rob Francis is always so welcoming and it is a great venue to perform in with one of my favourite stages (because it is made out of old school desks) and features in one of my poems. It was lovely to share the evening with Claire Walker and Ian Glass.

I missed the Fringe Festival in Digbeth, as I was out celebrating my birthday (yes! It was in August), I like to party! It was at the expense of missing several submission deadlines this month though. I try to be kind to myself when that happens but the inner voice is screaming ‘GET ORGANISED GIRL!’

 

Week 2

I spent my time organising new term workshops for my Writing West Midlands group and sifting my way through the admin mountain.

I went to Waterstones to watch fellow V. Press poets David Calcutt, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker who have spent months planning ‘From Birth to Bone’, a scripted reading combining poems from all of their collections. I was a little gutted that Fragile Houses wasn’t out in time to participate, I have had conversations about collaboration for sometime. Still I have a few ideas to bounce around in 2017.

birth-to-bone

It was a fabulous night and their work blended well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a jolly good performance. The other thing I loved was the programme. Listed on it were all the poems and the relevant pages from their books.

What I did manage to do was speak to Stuart, as an Area manager and Poet himself he is fully behind events in Waterstones. I have over the year attended several, but from this point onwards the book shop becomes my second home! I confirmed my book launch was to take place in Waterstones ! Oh, my wake me up – I am dreaming!

I went to SpeakEasy in Worcester where the featured artists was a three piece, ‘Threezacrowd‘ – Michael Thomas on words and Campbell and Jan Perry on music. SpeakEasy tends to be poetry so it was different to have some music and singing. Mike Alma and Pip Barlow brought us guitar and voice the month before.

mike-and-pip-barlow-mary-davis Photograph – Mary Davis

The photo is from the August SpeakEasy, where I read some of the canal poems (still in draft form) from our poetry trip. I was wearing my Tiller Girl badge and Alan Durham wore his pirate badge.

speakeasy Photograph – Mary Davis

I spent the rest of the week planning and promoting my Book Launch, working for Writing West Midlands, wrote endorsements for ‘Birth to Bone’ and my pamphlets became real and reached the editor. I still cannot believe I waited to pick them up for several days as our schedules weren’t matching.

They were published in time for the London Book Fair, which was exciting.

mdqj_ikc_bigger

Week 3

Following some summer preparation, I started organising INKSPILL – our online writing retreat. Sending emails and making contact with writers was fun and in the process have pretty much organised next year’s Guest Writers too.

It was also the first ‘Licensed to Rhyme’ – my most local poetry night! Finally my hometown can offer something and what a something it is. Maggie Doyle and Fergus McGonigal ran SpeakEasy for a couple of years and both took retirement from it earlier in 2016. Maggie and Fergus worked hard finding the perfect venue and pricing and all the millions of behind the scenes work, we never really consider.

licensed-to-rhyme The Advertiser

Spoz co-hosts the event with Maggie Doyle once a month. This first evening was a great success and because the venue is an Arts Centre (Artrix) we have professional sound and sound engineers to boot. We walked on to ‘James Bond theme music’ and the atmosphere was electric. Which all helps performers to perform well. I had a 10 minute Guest Spot and Maggie mentioned my pamphlet was to launch in a few weeks too.

Even more exciting was finally meeting Dreadlock Alien, a man people have constantly spoken about since I hit the circuit in 2014. I knew some of his poems and have seen him perform online but to meet him was thrilling and it was lovely to see a lot of the Birmingham crowd over here too.

workstation-336369_1280

I also worked on (for hours) a professional writing website where people can find me, book me etc. A space I can keep for promo and work. And guess what? I found the only web space that doesn’t link to SEO on Google searches etc. which means unless I send the direct link – you cannot find me. I am limited by free webpages at the moment and many of these need you to install all sorts. I am tempted to use WordPress and as I bought ‘A Writers Fountain’, 16 years ago, I know I can do it again, when money flows a little better.

I still haven’t sat down to work this out but will spend those post-Christmas moments on it, ready to hit 2017 hard.

Come and see it anyway – http://ninalewis.webs.com/ – save it to your favourites, it may be the only way to find it again!

This is the week term started and for this half term I faced a new challenge, I have taken on a 3 day week. Okay, that doesn’t sound a lot but they are full paced and challenging days in a block and I am still on medication. What it will mean is I needn’t worry about not having enough work and it will give me a chance to build up skills with individuals, which is half the battle at the chalk-face or whatever it is called now we are all fully interactive.

It was also super busy with Poetry Events, such as Roy McFarlane’s book launch for his collection ‘Beginning with your Last Breath’- Nine Arches. roy-beg-last-breath

A superb event that took place in Wolverhampton at the Arena Theatre. This was a night I did manage to blog about in real time and you can read the post here.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/beginning-with-your-last-breath-by-roy-mcfarlane/

Hit The Ode was the next evening and I was just too exhausted by then to get myself back to the city, fortunately in a move of pure genius Carl Sealeaf was providing LIVE streaming, which was no way as good as being there – but was much better than missing it all. It also meant I had time for 2 hours worth of research and some book promotion work.

I also started to write properly again, something I haven’t really been able to do whilst the pamphlet was still in editorial.

I booked guest poets for my book launch; Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker. Delighted they all agreed to read.

This week didn’t stop. On Friday I went to Kenilworth to see a Poetry Reading at the Talisman Theatre, curated by David Morley. Just in the foyer alone I was excited to see so many people, many I had seen just a couple of days earlier at Roy’s book launch. By far the most exciting sightings were John & Liz Mills, I had no idea they were coming, we have already decided to make a reunion of it next year, treating ourselves to pre-show dinner, after show drinks and a hotel. They had booked a hotel, I live a little nearer so opted for a night drive.

I also saw Julie Boden and that was a treat. So glad that she made it to the show.

kenilworth

The show itself was mighty fine. I loved meeting and hearing new to me poets – Luke Kennard, who I have missed every time the opportunity has arisen, Sarah Howe who writes beautiful, honest poetry and Claire Trévien, who loves language and was a joy to watch/listen to. I enjoyed the sets from the poets I do know David Morley, Jo Bell, Jonathan Edwards too. They promised a special evening – and it was!

I really wish I had blogged about it at the time, because so much has happened since, it was a wonderful evening and I remember it fondly.

http://www.kenilworthartsfestival.co.uk/events/poetry

I missed Jo Bell’s workshop on Saturday as I was going to Worcester Music Festival to see The Anti-Poet, after missing them at WLF (Worcester LitFest) in the summer. I loved it! It was a total nightmare to park, but well worth the agro. anti-poet-2

After this I finally COLLECTED my PAMPHLETS!

It was also London Book Fair and although I couldn’t make it this year and missed the opportunity to perform Ambiguous Answers for Paper Swan Press,

 

my book did make it and I got to follow it all on Twitter.

vpress-stand-free-verse

And FINALLY on Sunday I headed out to the MAC where I watched the new version of Ten Letters. The original last year was crowdfunded, a project that was the brainchild of Lorna Meehan and Spoz. This year they have a few new performers, lots of new writing and media and have been funded by the Lottery and Arts Council.

I was also asked to appear on a panel of writers on Radio – which I was jumping about over, until I realised it was a work day and I wouldn’t be able to get to the studio. However, I have been booked to do this in January. Which hopefully will be an easier month on the calendar and I will be all fresh and ready.

Week 4

This is the week of the Poetry Festival in Stratford-Upon-Avon and I was gutted to miss every event I had hoped to get to. After typing week 3 for the past hour, I can see why I didn’t have the energy to work, play and drive all over the place. The final performance from all the resident poets, ‘Unexpected Encounters’ was something I really wanted to see, but had booked (way back in August) my final birthday meal with friends, where we got to cook our food on hot volcanic rocks and this was something that couldn’t be undone. It was a great night!

It was also Leicester Shindig and I hadn’t realised Claire Walker was featuring there, missed it completely. Leicester was the city I came out as a poet in and performed spoken word for the first time.

poet-1317444_1280

I had several invites to events I missed this week – it was hard enough to stay awake and work without going out in the evenings. I was getting in and falling asleep. I did admin tasks, promotion online and booked tickets for Swindon Poetry Festival. I also managed to get to the local Stanza meeting as well as taking a Headline booking for Stirchley Speaks next month, the night after my Book Launch. I also took my first booking for 2017 and booked up October.

On Sunday I read at Open Poetry in the Arboretum, Walsall and promoted my forthcoming pamphlet. It was a lovely afternoon.

 

The last 5 days – no wonder this month seemed so long!

I continued Market Research, promoting and organising the Book Launch (1 week to go).

I missed some submission deadlines.

Took pre-orders for the pamphlet.

Missed Poetry Bites and the Open Mic at Waterstones, 42 and a Scratch Night. I was attempting to take my editor’s advice and take it easy the week before the launch. Which I managed ALL WEEK and then at the weekend (with 48hrs to launch) I broke my promise to myself.

cart3

MORE ON THAT IN THE OCTOBER REVIEW.

 

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘The Final Write’

Standard

This is Roy’s final workshop, we are delighted with the amazing coverage in these workshops. We are sure you will all agree he has worked extremely hard on this programme. As with all our Guest Writers, time is given for free.

It would be great to see some feedback and response in the comments below, maybe you could even thank Roy by buying his book… the gift would be yours, as ‘Beginning with your last breath’ is an amazing debut collection.

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html roy-bwylb

gw

Roy Mcfarlen

© 2014 Najma Hush

 

This was an event I performed at ‘Diverse Dancers’ Photographic Exhibition by Najma Hush. This was the first time I watched Roy perform. I did not meet him properly until later in the year (2014) at Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites. I knew a lot about his poetry and work as he was Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2010-11.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/diverse-dancers-exhibition-najma-hush-performance-event/

I had no idea back then that a few years later he would be producing an amazing collection of workshop exercises exclusively for INKSPILL. I am eternally grateful to you Roy and your generous spirit.

– Nina Lewis

workshop-1

In the previous part of this workshop we looked at ‘Missing You’, writing about what is left behind, what we possess after our loved ones have passed away.

We start this next part as a link, so look back over what you wrote earlier and dive in for the final write with Roy.

In this workshop Roy re-visits the poetry of Hannah Lowe and W.H Auden.


poet-1317444_1280

We started with objects at the beginning, so let’s finish with the idea of what we possess after our loved ones have passed away, and again explore beyond the normal aspects of gift, but maybe they left you with a burden, left you with a secret, left you with a joke, left with your beautiful memories; the page is yours.

The list poem comes to mind, where we just list what we have before us but you’re a poet, you have to take the naming of this list to another place, let’s look at the third passage from Six Day in March by Hannah Lowe.

*

So this is what I’m left with.

A stained brown cufflink box lined

with stained red silk,

two black elastic loops, one snapped and frayed.

I hold it to my nose, search out

the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair, his clothes,

the old yellow cardigan. What’s a life made of?

Fifteen pounds in a post office account,

a notebook scrawled in horses’ form,

one photograph of three Jamaican aunts

in white lace dresses, straight-backed

with clasped hands under a palm tree?

Is there a sense of disappointment with that opening line or is it the sense of weightlessness of life the lack of worth maybe? And so she seeks for something tangible, search out the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair… the desperation of loss is felt her, the need to hold on to you every piece of her father’s DNA.

We all know Auden’s stop all the clocks, but how about this lover’s lament

As I Walked Out One Evening

And down by the brimming river

I heard a lover sing

Under an arch of the railway:

Love has no ending.

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

Till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

And the station sing in the street

And then this beautiful gem…

the glacier knocks in the cupboard,

The desert sighs in the bed,

And the crack in the tea-cup opens

A lane to the land of the dead.

And then after all that declaration of love, the reality of life that life goes on

It was late, late in the evening,

The lovers they were gone;

The clocks had ceased their chiming,

And the deep river ran on.


writing

Exercise

Think of a moment, an everyday situation, walking past lovers by the river, clock chiming in the background. A supermarket aisle, with the Tannoy going off; sitting in a café with the sound of the vending machines; football terraces and a goal being scored; in the stalls of an operatic piece and the conductor taps the stand; think of something of the presence that shows the living, the continuation of life, whilst we remember our loved ones.


 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Missing You’

Standard

gw

fountain-pen-745308_1280

In this workshop Roy uses the poetry of Abegail Morley roy-abegail-morley and

Sarah James roy-sarah-james information on purchasing copies of their collections can be found in Related Links at the bottom of the post.

workshop-1

Missing you

Wow, after that incredible and powerful poem that you’ve written (Being There Workshop), let’s write I miss you poems, how do we say I miss you, that sings a litany, a beautiful melody so far removed from tireless clichés, this is the one, this is where we write them into life, we go back to those beautiful moments and make time stop or we create a sliding doors (the movie or alternative universe) moment as in this wonderful poem by Abegail Morley from The Skin Diary

Before you write off your imaginary sister

remember how she didn’t take her blunt playschool scissors

to your Tiny Tears doll, didn’t lop off a curl,

how it didn’t make you cry for three nights in a row,

your only consolation, not inviting a mantra to your lips:

You are not my sister, you are not my sister.

Think of that night she wasn’t at the tap-end

of the bath, not blowing bubbles through her fingers,

not sloshing them over your face, how water didn’t slop

over the bath’s rim, how you didn’t slip

when your mother hugged you out in a towel.

Memorise how she didn’t cuddle close for those stories,

clap when they escaped the Gingerbread House. Learn how

she didn’t travel with you on the school bus, wasn’t there

when you rubbed your fingers over the invisible bruise

that couldn’t yellow on your thigh, wasn’t bashed by her bag.

Before you know it, she’s not at your wedding,

taking the posey from your nervous hands, doesn’t smile

when she doesn’t do it. Bear in mind she didn’t

have a look in her eyes when she didn’t hold your son

in her arms in amazement. Learn by heart those miles

she couldn’t take because you couldn’t call her at two a.m.

thinking he might die from colic. Remember how

she doesn’t say she loves you more than ever, and how

desperate that cannot make you feel. And know now

all you can say is, I miss you, I miss you.

Find an arc in your poems from the first stanza that sets up the premise you are not my sister, you are not my sister to the pay back, I miss you, I miss you.

Or this gorgeous (can you hear my Craig Revel Horwood impression) poem from Sarah James Plenty-Fish

Bagging Up

I found it this morning: a single pink bootee

gaping white like an empty shell.

When I see flowers,

or bonnets and frilly dresses

next to the boys’ dungarees

I picture you.

You should be grown tall by know.

But I can still hold you: fosilled

fragments from the scan cupped

in my hand: small as a bullet,

or hole in the heart.

I imagine dark curls and shy smile,

though when you speak,

it’s merely an echo of their toddler talk.

I write this to you,

my child that never was,

yet is,

but

I write it for me –

though words won’t bend

to explain that longing for you,

I love the boys no less.

So, as I fold away bibs and bodysuits

And bag up blue for my friends,

The pink of your bootee creases my thoughts.

I ought to throw it, finish this, say goodbye…

Instead, I reach up, hide it high

In a cupboard my sons must never find.


writing

Exercise

Write them, write their beautiful stories, you don’t need a prompt for this one.

We started with objects at the beginning, so let’s finish with the idea of what we possess after our loved ones have passed away, and again explore beyond the normal aspects of gift, but maybe they left you with a burden, left you with a secret, left you with a joke, left with your beautiful memories; the page is yours.

 


 

RELATED LINKS:

Buy The Skin Diary by Abegail Morley here

roy-skin-diary

Buy Plenty Fish by Sarah James here

roy-plenty-fish

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Being There’

Standard

So Roy’s workshops are going deep, for this one you may need tissues (and we should never let that put us off), or as he suggests a shoulder to lean on afterwards. You can always start a conversation in the reply boxes below and if you happen to have the ‘treasure’ of an empty house to write in, you may want to have some connection after this.

We are here LIVE today, so talk to us if you wish to.

In this workshop Roy looks at the poetry of Hannah Lowe.

gw

 

roy-smokestack-books

© 2011 Smokestack Books

workshop-1

Being there

Being there is the toughest journey, you’re a journalist on a battlefield, fighting the inevitable, there’s no turning back, you’re right in the middle of it, seeing blood and fluid, hearing the groans and pains, screaming for help and assistance. The following is the middle passage of Six Days in March by Hannah Lowe from Chick.

*

No dignity in this.

We find you on the stairs,

old child in tears. You want to piss

and so I carry you,

the weightless body folded in my arms

The house is smaller, brighter.

I pass the doorway quickly

where my mother holds your face,

a bowl of milky water on her knee, a razor.

The nurses come, their blue efficiency,

their muscled hands. They twist you on the sheets

and lay you naked, powdered clean, clean.

The shocking body in the light,

bone and paper skin,

the ladder on your shins of buckle scars,

thighs so slight and girlish,

your penis dumb and nuzzled

In its bed of hair.

Old child in tears. You want to piss, the old adage of twice a child once a man, so beautifully put, the fragility of old age, the dependence now on his daughter, search for those juxtaposition, poetry loves juxtapositions.

The house is smaller, brighter. So much is said in these few lines, the child returns as a carer, but the house being brighter fascinates me, maybe she sees her father clearer now, do we see our parents who were hard on us different when their older or in Hannah’s case the father who picked her up at ballerina classes, is no longer the taxi driver (the narrative she shared with friends), she now sees things in a brighter light.

The nurses come, their blue efficiency, their muscled hands. They twist you on the sheets, I love this description blue efficiency, muscled hands, they twist you, there’s no time for sensitivity, there’s a job to be done, a repetition of work that nurses are so use to and this is not a damning of insensitivity but an honesty of the work that nurses have to do, industrious, thankless and tireless.

The ladder on your shins of buckle scars; what more do we have to say, poetry loves new way of describing, condemning the cliché to the bottom draw and bringing out something new, something ladened with a story, history, just go for it and say something new in that one line.


writing

Exercise

I need you to think of that moment, in the hospital room, at side of the road of an accident, at work, those days leading to the inevitable or at the moment of death. I want you for this moment to step out of your body and be the individual going through the pain, suffering; be another member in the room, a child maybe; be the nurse, doctor or any other staff; be the bed, the mirror; and then be yourself and see where you go.

Take your time with this, take time out if you need to and have your best friend, partner or sibling near, by phone or in the house, because you might just need someone to lean on when you’ve finished this exercise.

paper-1100254_1280

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Physical, tangible & unforgettable’

Standard

gw

Welcome back to another Roy McFarlane workshop, get your pens and hearts ready as we explore the ‘Physical, tangible & unforgettable’ – you can almost taste the poems you are about to write already!

If possible you will need a large sheet of paper (A3)

In this workshop Roy uses Stretch Marks from Her Birth by Rebecca Goss and his own poem The Map of your Leg

workshop-1

roy-smokestack-books

© 2011 Smokestack Books

Physical, tangible and unforgettable

Physical markers that connect us to those we’ve lost; the way we might look like an individual or the spitting image, the sayings and proverbs that we promised we would never repeat, the marks we wished we had that would remind of us them.

Stretch Marks from Her Birth by Rebecca Goss

My swims kept those scars at bay,

Two thousand lengths it took, to form

My mapless globe. No trace she was here,

Her travels around me refused to surface

As she divided between poles, lapped

That black belly ocean. Once born, meridian

Of my achievements, she went off course.

I followed her divergent route, but this was not

Her geography. I have wished for them,

A record of her tracks, all snowed over, gone.

Read an extract from Rebecca Goss of the journey for putting this poem together from poetry archive; ‘I did an awful lot of swimming through both my pregnancies to keep fit…and I didn’t get any stretch marks – but after Ella died, I really wished I had some stretch marks…physical branding to prove that I had her…’ please read the rest of this introduction.

roy-rebecca-goss-guardian

© Guardian

My poem The map of your leg begins with;

In hospital your legs are unusually dry

after a weekend lying in bed,

The scene is set for an intimate mother and son moment, where the son creams her mother’s legs and notice her scars, all with their different story to tell.

There’s a survey of marks across your legs

Mapping time and continents,

The basin of scar on your shin bone

That carries you back to the teenager

Daring to backchat your mother…

And the stories that are told, until we’re brought back to the present moment, especially the blemishes of darkness where the most important thing to be said is the most difficult thing to be said.

And you ask me

What have they done to me?

The chemotherapy? The radiation?

they’ve told me that these are the signs

of the cancer returning again.

I continue creaming your skin

But I can’t tell you yet.


writing

Exercise

The easiest way to do this, is to possibly draw the outline of a body on A3 paper and mark the scars on the body you remember, describe how they look, be inventive, and then tell the story.

Remember, think big, we’re looking at stretch marks, scars, beauty marks, (lets stretch this further), have a look at parts of the body as in Elaine Feinstein Hands, or the lack of certain body parts go for it make it unforgettable.

Hands by Elaine Feinstein can be read here

 

RELATED LINKS:

Her Birth is available to buy and is currently on offer (10%) discount. Her Birth Carcanet

roy-rg

Listen to the poem here http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/rebecca-goss

https://rebeccagoss.wordpress.com/