Category Archives: Writing

A Tale of Two Cities II – The Reading

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Some poetry events are just magical! Mix the alchemy of Transatlantic poets writing call and response poems and you are sure to have a cracking reading. The power of hearing these poems performed by each poet was fabulous. Added to the words, the reunion of people, not just across the pond but within our own communities.

I have huge gratitude to every poet in this project. Polly Stretton is a marvel and without her, the gleam wouldn’t have been as bright as it was. I appreciate every ounce of work she has delivered since the summer.

We are currently editing the film for YouTube and then over the next few months will compile a print anthology with Black Pear Press.

Watch this space!

Here’s a flavour of what’s to come…


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A Tale of Two Cities II

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It gives me great pleasure to announce a project that has been underway since the summer.

We did it again! Poets from Worcester UK and Worcester USA paired up to write call-and-response poems.

In the original project there was a UK launch and a USA reading, but thanks to the wonders of technology we will all be united on Sunday 30th October, the start time will be 18:00 GMT (UK) and 14:00 EDT (USA) the link for the online event will appear here and on the BPP Facebook Event Page on the day. And yes, that’s definitely 18:00 start time UK, our clocks fall back this weekend!

Black Pear Press are delighted to be part of this project and will host the online event.


Background ~ Every tale starts somewhere.

The Original ATOTC

Back in 2017, when I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I embarked on a huge transatlantic project linking poets in Worcester UK with those in Worcester MA USA.

It was a massive undertaking on both sides of the pond and a wonderful, fulfilling project involving 47 poets. You can read all about it here:

Project Go Ahead

A Tale of Two Cities Begins

Poets Revealed

A Tale Nearly Ready to Tell

A Tale of Two Cities Anthology

And feast on the wonderful poetry which was written about our cities here.


Then there were launches and festival events for a while.

July 2018 Droitwich Arts Festival – Launch of ATOTC UK

Artsfest UK Launch A Tale of Two Cities

Then it was the turn for our partners in the USA.

A Tale of Two Cities Massachusetts

AT read promo

September 2018

I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.

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I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.

US Reading ATOTC

BOB GILL ATOTC2


The plans I had bore some fruition in 2019 when I produced a show with some of the UK poets, lots of film work and the helpful narration of an American relative, for the Evesham Festival of Words.

It had been booked for the festival in 2018, before the Perth Poetry Festival in Australia and before my stint in hospital and my Annus horribilis. It was not quite the year I thought it would be and neither was 2020.


As our lives moved online I caught up with WCPA crew at some events and thought about joining forces to celebrate the collection again.

Roll on a few years, many poets are still in contact with their partners and one of the UK poets, Polly Stretton, had a conversation about doing just that.

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July 2022

After a few email exchanges with Rodger Martin and Bob Gill, an idea was floated to go beyond meeting online to read our original work… after some discussion we all agreed to repeat the Call & Response project. And ATOTC II was born.

Since then poets from the original team have been paired up to produce a new selection of poems, this time the theme was open and as before, there has been lots of fun! And this time after the reading, my future ideas for A Tale of Two Cities will bear fruit.

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A huge thanks to Polly Stretton for all her management skills, for compiling the programme and organising the tech and assisting with the promotion. It has been a blast. Thanks also to Black Pear Press.

And thank you to all the poets in Worcester UK and from WCPA Worcester Massachusetts, for your wonderful partnerships and poems. I cannot wait to celebrate with you all!

Photo by Vie Studio on Pexels.com

Come and join us

ATOTC II Event Page will include Zoom information on the day.


RELATED LINKS:

https://blackpear.net/

Mindful Poetry Moments Book Launch

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I have been overjoyed to play a part in The Well/ Mindful Poetry events over the past few years, (since Lockdown 2020/21). For the 2nd year running I am delighted to have poetry included in the anthology.

The Book Launch happens today at The Mercantile Library, which is incredibly beautiful and in Cincinnati… however, if you are not you can still watch the event on Crowdcast, to register: book tickets for the Live Launch or reserve your spot virtually check here.

I am really looking forward to spending some of my Birthday celebrating with these poets and can’t wait to hear everyone’s words.

Hope you can join us!

Book cover artwork courtesy of @alexandraramirezarts⁠ ⁠ Mindful Poetry Moments was incubated with @onbeing and virtual gatherings are supported by @cincyhive @wordplaycincy and @themercantilelib⁠ ⁠ #TheWellWorld #TheWell #MindfulPoetryMoments #MindfulPoetry #Poetry #PoetryCollection #OnBeing #PoetryUnbound #Poems #Poets #Poet

Featured Poem ~ In the Breast Unit

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I was lucky enough to complete the manuscript (my first collection) last year. I then sat on it for a while before returning for final edits in Spring 2022. It is now finding a home with a publisher. So it brings me great joy to announce Cafe Writers chose to feature my poem In the Breast Unit as the poem of the month.

It can be hard to find places where writing poems about our bodies is an acceptable read. I am grateful to the team for picking this poem.

Proud to be sharing the space with so many wonderful Poem of the Month Picks.

Poem of the Month – In the Breast Unit

I was delighted to see/hear incredible headline sets from Kim Moore and Jenny Pagdin and enjoy the always amazing open mic. When I received the email notifying me of this news, I danced!

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 2

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Prompt from Napo.

Today’s featured participant is The Cat’s Pajam, which gives us a dreamy, sensual, and mysterious poem in response to Day One’s “story about the body” prompt.

Our daily featured online magazine is TYPO, browse. From their newest issue, I’ll point out Jasmine Dream Wagner’s “Fallen Angels,”.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on a word featured in a tweet from Haggard Hawks, an account devoted to obscure and interesting English words. Will you choose a word like “aprosexia,” which means “an inability to concentrate”? Or maybe something like “greenout,” which is “the relief a person who has worked or lived in a snowy area for a long time feels on seeing something fresh and green for the first time”?


As always, I started chronologically with the featured site.

If she were a dog she would have been able to smell her disease and its cure, but she was an ignorant woman, and crushed herself into soda shop booths already overcrowded with Gods and Philosophy. 

Reading the comments I wasn’t the only one tugged by these lines. Next I visited Typo. I found Wagner’s Fallen Angels to be a particularly lingering read. I browsed the current issue (and know I will go back to past issues), I particularly liked: OUT OF TOWN NORA ALMEIDA.

And finally, I explored the Twitter account for a word. Initially I was drawn to: @HaggardHawks

Word of the Day: VERNALITY (n.) the spring, a spring-like quality; the greenness and freshness of springtime [1600s]

but I learnt many years ago not to go with the first thought, dig deeper.

To PUPILLATE is to cry like a peacock. // Newborn babies’ birthmarks were once known as LONGING-MARKS, because they were said to take on the shape of something desired by the mother. // A GLISK is a brief glimpse of warm sunshine. // To DARKLE is to hide in the dark. // To be CRAMPLE-HAMMED is to have stiff, sore legs after a long walk. // The floating matter that becomes visible in bright beams of light is known as SUNDUST.

I spent ages sifting through the Tweets (and only went back a couple of weeks), I decided to use Longing-Marks.


I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing towards today’s prompt. For a while I was lost in the world of cattle and Zodiac, but I managed to resurface to write a poem about my Longing-mark. Famously only mentioned when I am in a situation where you have to disclose something about yourself that no-one knows!

I have several pages of notes on Etymology, Terminology and Usage as currency. My ideas grew as I researched and I had 4 strands of scaffold to enter this poem before I started writing. I also started to gather the additional resources. In the future I plan to come back to this prompt and use more of these words as starting points for poems. And created a word doc. to house all NaPo poems.

Working title: The Shape of Something Desired by Mother

—————– This unnamed house cow

fades as it ages, or as my mother’s needs

become my own.

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NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 1

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Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

Please be aware by sharing your work digitally, it is considered published and may prevent you from submitting it to journals and anthologies.

Day #1

© Chris Pagan

Nina’s NaPoWriMo Challenge

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Photo by Allan Mas on Pexels.com

Don’t worry – it has nothing to do with rock climbing!

Although intense generative writing practice feels like a workout. I have been participating in Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo since I discovered it (2014). The following year I discovered the PAD challenge – A Poem a Day over on Writer’s Digest and did both, generating over 60 poems in April.

Over the years many poets in the UK (and probably around the world) have offered their own course of prompts or groups for April. I have taken part in these too, memorably a series of prompts from Carrie Etter and a Napowrimo group during Lockdown with Caleb Parkin. The most poems I ever wrote from April’s Poetry Month was 99!

All this extra writing has been fun (if not a bit exhausting)…

This year I decided to add my own additional challenge into the mix: Nina’s NaPoWriMo Challenge! Feel free to spread the word.

I’m keeping it simple (and FREE):

Every day I will post a new picture prompt and you go away and create whatever you want.

Get yourselves ready for an extra splash in the fountain this April!

WPD 2022 ~ My World Poetry Day

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World Poetry Day – that sacred day when poetry gets mentioned on Radio Channels beyond Radio 2 and Radio 4, the day when a frame is held around words… it was World Frog Day yesterday, but I saved my leaping around for today!

I always mark WPD by making sure I read some poems and either organise or attend an event. Today I am going on a magical tour and then following up the starter with a main, with Apples & Snakes. I will skip dessert… or eat a real one for dinner, as cooking is out of the question this evening!

Photo by u041 on Pexels.com

I hope you have all managed to plan something sweet… if not and you have some time to spare, go and find your favourite spot to relax in, take a book of poems or your phone and read.

Or take advantage of this list of pieces and poems from the world today.


Some poetry I collected from the web this evening:

From Outlook.com (please note there is a trigger warning/ suitability poem listed part way through the first poem).

outlookindia.comworld-poetry-day-two-poems-on-ukraine-and-one-on-peace-during-wartime-


Caleb Parkin


This article was news from before WPD – but let’s share it now:

Anjum Malik Manchester’s first Multi-cultural City Poets

Anjum Malik performing at University-held mushaira in 2018

© 2022 Manchester Metropolitan University


MMU Marks World Poetry Day

Manchester Metropolitan University is well known for strong creative writing courses. Today they marked WPD in a myriad of ways.

Malika Booker has read An Alternative History of Stones for World Poetry Day

© 2022 Manchester Metropolitan University

Hit Play – it will work.



Khalil Gibran
“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.”

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/download-words-burn-resources


A review of my magical night of poetry

I love poetry and I love a mystery – put them together and you have the wonder of my first event!

World Poetry Day: Poetry with a View – Mystery Location at Golden Hour!

About this event

I am excited to announce that Monday 21 March 2022 is World Poetry Day. Escape with me to a mystery location to experience a selection of poetry readings with a beautiful view!

© 2022 Eventbrite/ Sarah

I had no idea when I booked weeks ago where we would even be situated in the world… there really were no clues before I joined the livestream…

to my delight – the North West of England, Lancashire. It was hosted on heygo – which was a perfect platform for WPD.

My first experience of heygo was fabulous – you can capture postcards! Sarah was a fabulous guide, we were treated to 6 poems, lots of factual snippets (including some new ones for me), a beautiful sunset, a walk along the Leeds to Liverpool canal and we even saw some ducks! It was fun to guess the poets. There’s also a navigational map in the top corner too.

We heard:

Warning by Jenny Joseph – this poem was voted Britain’s favourite modern poem (2006) and Nation’s favourite (10 years before), this poem inspired a whole society.

Daffodils – By William Wordsworth. One of England’s most famous nature poets – William Wordsworth – Nation’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.

A Subaltern’s Love Song by Sir John Betjeman. Classic English Poet – one of the all time well known poets… saved St Pancras Station from demolition!

The Quangle Wangle’s Hat by Edward Lear – born into a middle class family – middle child of 21 children – known for literary nonsense…. died aged 29.

If by Rudyard Kipling – one of the most well known writers of his time, won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907. I listed ‘If’ as my favourite poem at the start of the tour!

And we finished with the sun going down to Yes, I’ll Marry You by Pam Ayres!


Later I joined Apples + Snakes for the World Poetry Day Mini Break with Lorna Zita.

About this event

For World Poetry Day this year, Apples and Snakes want to bring a little bit of sunshine and fun with Mozambican poet, cultural projects manager and international Slam Champion Lorna Zita.

More about Lorna:

Lorna Zita is black, spoken word poet, cultural projects manager and international Slam Champion. She represented Mozambique on Digipoem ‘’Zimbabwe’’ and BBC Contains Strong Language in the UK.

She was the second-place winner of the Maputo-Katembe literary contest “The bridge that connects lives” organized by the CCMA and the German Embassy.

In 2020 she was considered the most influential voice of Voices of African Women by I, Africa and currently has two Digipoems Published in partnership with Page Poetry Alive and the British Council.

In 2018 she won the literary contest, organized by Revista Literária Inversos in honor of the International Children’s Day at Feira de Santana in Brazil.

© 2022 Eventbrite/ A+S

This workshop had limited places and I lucky to get one!

It was great to meet Lorna and to see some familiar faces in the group. I admire anyone who can produce a workshop in their 2nd language and I am so glad that we were treated to a poem in Portuguese at the end to hear first hand why Lorna is the SLAM champion that she is!

It was a great way to spend World Poetry Day and I now have a little stash of ideas to write from, some prompts, one incredibly concise poem and have had a good refresher on the use of voice in performance.

WPD 2022

Happy World Poetry Day 2022

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UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day in 1999.

Find out more about the history of WPD here.

poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.

World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media. As poetry continues to bring people together across continents, all are invited to join in. © UNESCO 2021


The pandemic saw a surge in people returning to writing or trying it for the first time. These writing communities were of great benefit to thousands of people as Covid changed our world.

I thank all the poets who have become part of my world and helped me through challenging times since 2020.

And of course all the poets who have been part of me doing this, since 2014.


Let’s make some poems!

Here’s a little exercise for you to try which is a patchwork of several different ideas I have used in workshops and in my own writing.

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  • Take a walk with your notebook (or phone), make observations of nature, write some down – remember to include sensory details.

  • Return home and find a spot you never write in.

  • Write longhand and freewrite from your collected lines/ a key word/ phrase or a lingering feeling (the words on your walk weren’t wasted – they got you to here).

  • Explore your freewrite – circle some words and phrases.

  • If you normally write in form try free verse/ if you normally write in free verse choose a form.

  • This is a great site for learning form, for any level of writer and includes 15 different forms and includes some PDF templates.

  • Enjoy your new constraints and WRITE!

LINKS TO POEMS:

Luke Kennard
Helen Overell
Maggie Wang
Kayo Chingonyi

Have a wonderful World Poetry Day – write some words and for more inspiration (and a video poem from me) check out the WLFF website: Video Poetry for World Poetry Day ~ Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

Published: Thumbnail Nature ~ London Wildlife Trust

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Nature, Framed – an anthology of nature writing

This is a collection of ultra-short Thumbnail Nature pieces from a February workshop ‘Nature Writing Through the Window’ which Amanda Tuke co led with Helen Jones, an inspirational disabled nature writer.

It was a great workshop and the last from this particular Arts Council funded project. It has been a pleasure to get to know Amanda and delve into thumbnail nature. I am delighted to have pieces in all the anthologies of workshops I was able to attend.

Angi Holden also attended the workshops and been published in the anthologies. It is always a great delight when you see friends sign up for the same events. An extra delight in February was spotting Elizabeth Uter in attendance. Liz and I met at the Poetry in Motion classes 2020/21 with CelenaDiana Bumpus, Liz still attends classes with Inlandia. Her poem is above mine, it’s so lovely to share the virtual page with her again.

Thanks again to Amanda Tuke for these incredible workshops and for giving my first thumbnails a home.

Amanda Tuke – workshop co-leader and Great North Wood nature-writer-in-residence in partnership with London Wildlife Trust.  Once covering a large area of south London, today the Great North Wood consists of a series of small green spaces – all of which provide a home for nature within a modern urban landscape. The workshop was made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

https://suburbanwild.wordpress.com/

https://freelancenaturewriter.com/author/rockinmumma/