Category Archives: Writing West Midlands

March Review 2018

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This month I got stuck into two new projects, missed several events due to the snow, submitted poems, sent proof copies/edited Special Edition Contour Magazine in preparation for the next issue launch (April) ATOTC, organised a poetry exhibition at the Jinney Ring & a Hanbury Reading for the Sculpture Trail Poets, facilitated 1 community workshop and 2 school workshops, dressed as Little Miss Splendid for World Book Day, worked on a special celebration of poetry to mark International Women’s Day, finished my Reader in Residence residency at Rugby Library with WMRN, did Poetry on Demand for Mother’s Day, organised my official WPL remit World Poetry Day event, took my WWM Spark Young Writers group through the editing process, attended the final Room 204 17/18 cohort meeting, a Book Launch, celebrated Earth Day and worked pretty much full time as a one week contract turned into 3 weeks!

I now feel and look about 10 years older!

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Week 1: The Snow

I missed Images from the Past at The Hive, due to snow and a workshop and oakley’s Book Launch for the same reason.

I was booked for an exciting event as part of the Anchor Gallery in April and asked to do Stablemates – which I would have loved, but the date clashed with my appearance at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

I facilitated the 1st of 3 workshops booked with The Basement Project, a charity in Bromsgrove. The first community workshop (in WPL role) was Arts & Words where participants created their own canvas. It was a successful morning and gave me a welcome break from the classroom. The snow meant we were thin on the ground, but those involved had a good time.

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Read more here.

 

Week 2: Planning, Poetry on Demand & New Projects

All of the final proofs from ATOTC were sent.

I planned my next workshop, this one at a school in Worcester. Gathering the resources and researching the subject matter. I missed Stirchley Speaks with Cynthia Miller as work is exhausting and I am busy online for most of the evening when I get home, mainly with ATOTC – now in proof reading stages with copy flying out to 46 poets.

I was booked as part of an event for this year’s Worcester LitFest alongside the new Poet Laureate (my time finishes on 10th June).

I attended an exciting meeting in Ledbury with Rick Sanders as he unveiled the 2nd PoArtry project. I have been buddied up with Mollie Bythell – a talented young artist and cannot wait to make a start on this.

I missed the MeToo Anthology Launch in Birmingham because I was asleep before 6:30 after a particularly bad end to an otherwise good but tiring week of work.

On Saturday I had my WWM writing group and ran a workshop (at their request) on editing and we wrote about mum’s too with Mother’s Day being so close.

From Worcester I hot-footed to Rugby for a job as Poetry on Demand for Mother’s Day. I wrote bespoke poems and made lots of people very happy.

It was an exhausting but fun day!

 

Week 3: Workshops, Interviews & Book Launches

The week started with full days of work (a one week temporary cover  turned into 3 weeks full-time, with a day off for good behaviour/ I mean pre-booked workshops)!

On Thursday I filled an entire day with poetry to make up for all the poetry I had missed from being too exhausted after work!

My School Workshops at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in October were postponed. I was delighted to offer new bespoke workshops to fit the work they have been doing on Monsters. It was a fantastic, fun morning and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

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You can read a review here

From there I hot-footed across to BBC Hereford & Worcester for my radio interview with Tammy Gooding, where I was able to promote WPD.

The evening saw 3 clashing events. I went to Math Jones’ Book Launch of Sabrina Bridge published by Black Pear Press. This was the 2nd collection I was asked to endorse and it is a magical read. It was wonderful to watch Math breathe fire into his work in a stellar performance. Being an actor helps! It was great fun and an opportunity to see Suz Winspear, Jenny Hope, Polly Stretton and Keleigh Wolf perform too.

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I missed Stanza but spent the evening prepping for my next school workshop next week, creating film clips and found poetry texts. I also wrote copy to promote World Poetry Day.

I had the final Room 204 Cohort meeting on Saturday at The Custard Factory, crazy to think nearly 12 months has gone already, the new cohort will be announced mid-April, exciting to think they already know who they are.

This was followed by a new project with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, encompassing two weekend workshops and a performance at BMAG – and involves using their digital archive. None of us really knew what it would entail but I am always up for an afternoon in a Museum/Art Gallery, notebook in hand.

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Wikimedia © 2018

It all sounded intriguing and I had a fun afternoon filling myself up with artefact inspiration.

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Birmingham Museums Trust © 2018

Sunday – a day of rest? No, Mr G and I are expecting some much needed work on the house and we spent the day clearing spaces!

 

Week 4 Workshops, World Poetry Day and Earth Hour

How is it the last week of March already? The week started with my Inter-School Gifted & Talented workshop at Bromsgrove School with the theme of Nature. nature-3231651_1920

Where I had prepared a film element in case our Nature Walk was eradicated by weather – the snow and a mini-beast storm was forecast over the weekend. It certainly rained!

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It was an action packed afternoon and great fun. A full review can be found here

I spent the beginning of the week (3 days) preparing for World Poetry Day, this was an evening event and the only official task I had to undertake in my WPL (Worcestershire Poet Laureate) remit.

WPD FLYER 2018

After months of preparation Wednesday 21st arrived and I spent the day with high alert butterflies and every organiser worst worry – will there be an audience?

It was a fabulous night! People came and enjoyed and all the performers were exceptional. A full review can be read here.

On Saturday I had the 2nd workshop for the BMAG Rebel Uncut Digital Archive project. This was my first ever Hackathon and a long day 8-6pm – on site from 10-5. It was fun working with techies and writers and seeing our initial writing inform a digital archive. Having opportunities to play with VR and AR. We all worked in teams and there was a series of presentations at the end of the afternoon, a constant flow of refreshments and lunch thrown in too.

I love opportunities for writing beyond the page and stage, it was a great experience to be part of and the last mark of this year’s Room 204 cohort.

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I followed my hour bus journey home with a power nap which meant I missed the first half of Earth Day. I made it to Worcester just after 8 PM which isn’t bad considering I got in after 6PM, had a power nap, prepared my poems including one written especially for this year’s Earth Hour Event and one I wrote on the bus journey in the morning, filled the car with petrol and made it to Worcester (can take up to 45 minutes).

Earth Hour was a brilliant event, as always. Organised by Martin Driscoll and in Support of WWF and Earth Hour. It was held at Cafe Bliss and the food (which was included in the ticket) was exceptional. Traditional Belize. Amazing, I can taste it now over a week later writing this blogpost!

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The Final Week 

Was mainly work. I didn’t get the writing done I had scheduled. I missed all of my end of month targets, I could kick myself… but I am choosing to go easy on myself. I have had a full-on month and do not want to submit substandard work for the sake of ticking off a deadline. There will be writing time in the future and until then I am writing bare bones and noting ideas.

I missed the 8th Birthday at 42, as I had been to the ROH Ballet the night before with mum *a Christmas gift from Mr G. We both had a thoroughly enjoyable evening but with a full week of work, I arrived home exhausted on the Wednesday and was asleep by 8:30 pm.

I managed some work on the Art Poetry PoArtry Project for Ledbury, Molly Bythell (my partnered artist) and I have started laying out groundwork for our collaboration after exchanging artworks/poems. Her painting inspired by my poem (published by Silver Birch Press Me In A Hat series)

hat-cover2 has been added to her website and I am currently scaffolding a poem based on her work ‘Flower Gel’.

I also had communication with the Festival team in Perth, Australia. My trip is in planning stages and I am excited to find out more about the festival programme. I know I am able to attend as much as I can manage.

Hopefully will be fully over jet lag during the pre-festival. Last time I went over (2005) my jet lag there was almost non-existent – cancelled out by adrenaline. It was coming home I faltered. I was talking to my friend who did the airport run and just fell asleep on my rucksack mid sentence and on the lounge floor. I do have a 20 hour lay over, so hoping that will help the lag if I play on GMT/UK time.

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Then I had the Easter weekend off with Mr G. to catch up with family, enjoy the warmth of our house – new boiler fitted this week after 3 months without heat or running hot water! Glad to be back in the 21st Century with that one.

I have an exhibition to organise that I am a week behind on, due to working.

In April aside from NaPoWriMo (now GloPoWriMo) – I have the Special Edition Contour magazine to edit and compile for the ATOTC Transatlantic Poetry Project, I may have a talking paper interested in some work on that and have future plans for performance and publication. It has been my main project as WPL and has been a steep learning curve tinged with fun!

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I am also getting a smaller European project off the ground with new poetry partners between Twin Towns next month. Our Suffragette Collection will also go live. The rest of the month is a packed schedule of  workshops, festivals and performances.

 

So I took a very deep breath over the holiday weekend and have plenty of chocolate eggs in reserve.

Oh, and I am going back to work full-time, a temporary measure to cover summer living (as there are 3 months a year I don’t earn any money) and this year had a record 10 days over a 3 month period, so this just plugs the first term being so bad.

Onward!

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Monthly Review January

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January started with a very Happy New Year and then winter germs got the better of me. Instead of starting back into the world of poetry (after a 3 week break), I had to miss Stanza and Cheltenham and spent the entire weekend in bed!

Week 1:

I usually break these posts into weeks and there is nothing to report for Week 1 other than I managed some time at the desk and whizzed off all the business emails which needed to be sent. There are several Worcestershire Poet Laureate projects I am working on: a couple of exhibitions to organise and a Transatlantic Poetry Project. I am also researching funding for the summer and have several events to prepare for.

I had my first successful submission for the MIND anthology, who are publishing ‘Human’.

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Week 2: 

Mr G. gifted me the Mslexia Diary (which I have wanted for years) and it was full of work this week. I saw Casey Bailey headline at Licensed to Rhyme on Monday and practised my ‘Light’ poetry set for the event in Stratford-Upon-Avon later this month.

It was a lovely evening, even if I wasn’t 100% better. It was good to reconnect with everyone after Christmas. It was a good evening of poetry and my spirits were lifted.

On Wednesday I went to Permission to Speak where Claire Walker was headlining with her new pamphlet Somewhere Between Rose and Black

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A good evening with a mixture of poetry and prose and again lovely to reconnect to Black Country poets and the PTS crowd. Rob Francis was on top form and there was a good amount of audience as well as performers. A thoroughly enjoyable and lively evening.

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Claire is a well-known poet throughout the West Midlands. With poetry published in various online and in-print collections, AND two solo publications to her name (The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile and Somewhere Between Rose and Black), Claire has a wealth of heartfelt material to draw from. Her poetry is intricate, gentle, and beautiful – and she’s the perfect antidote to your January blues.

On Thursday I went to SpeakEasy where Claire Walker was headlining – it was fabulous to see a good crowd and lots of new faces. I enjoyed listening to all the sets and also had a sneak preview of Suz Winspear’s new collection ‘The Awkward People’ – her Book Launch is on Sunday and I am one of the Guest Poets.

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On Friday I discovered a writing opportunity that I wish I could have applied for but looking at next week’s schedule would have had to let a lot of people down, so I resisted the temptation. Needless to say it would have been a wonderful experience, but after Christmas it is equally important to earn some money. Arvon, is all I am saying!

I missed an application for a commission/project which was also a paid opportunity, it involved doing some work in London and the dates that were offered were once again already fully booked, so I did the sensible, honest thing and didn’t apply.

I am hoping that the holes created by these two lost opportunities will be plugged later this year with shiny, new ones, when the good karma coach comes back around.

I did discover two new opportunities that I could get my teeth into, one is an electronic study course that I should start receiving emails from tomorrow and the other is a Roadshow which may be beneficial to my funding research. This clashed with  the Cinnamon Press Showcase at Waterstones, frustratingly on the opposite side of the city but it was postponed, so I haven’t missed it after all.

I was due to spend part of the weekend at a Room 204 Talk but it has been postponed due to the facilitator having what I had at the beginning of the month.

On Sunday I received news of another 3 poems being published. One ‘A Hands-on Approach’ is a strange duck from NaPoWrimo 2017 is to be published in the Diverse Verse Anthology later this year. Deborah Alma put a call out for #Me Too poems and although mine did not make the collection (due to being too similar to work already accepted), they will appear online on the website. Vik Bennett – editor of Wild Women Press is working with Deb compiling a digital legacy for the project. I received two proof copies to read through and just had time to get my ‘Akward People’ set compiled and rehearsed for Suz’s Book Launch.

Suz Winspear’s Book Launch for The Awkward People was a fabulous afternoon, plenty of people turned out on this cold, wintery day to enjoy her work. Guest Poets included myself, Holly Magill & Kevin Brooke and Kieran Davies was MC. After a short introduction from Rod Griffiths (Black Pear Press Publisher) we had an entire afternoon of poetry to enjoy. Suz was in her element and it was great to hear her read from this new collection.

I of course bought myself my very own shiny book and had Suz sign it. A thoroughly enjoyable book launch and I cannot wait to read it cover to cover.

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Week 3: 

Cheltenham Poetry Festival Marketing got underway. I will be performing in the festival April 26th. Nina Lewis

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It is the 8th year and Anna Saunders has produced the biggest programme yet. Booking information here.

Read the first promotion post.

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There were a few events I missed this week which I would have liked to attend, but I am busy writing and producing projects, so I think a Radio Slot, a Roadshow, a writing group and a performance at a special event is enough for one week. I am also preparing for Wolverhampton Literature Festival (WoLF) next week.

I worked hard on trying to secure a funding bid for a Summer project. I finally managed to book a WPL Radio Slot on BBC Hereford and Worcester, due to work October was my last broadcast.

On Tuesday I headed over to Birmingham City University for the British Council Literature Roadshow presented by Writing West Midlands. The evening included a presentation from Cortina Butler, the British Council’s Director of Literature and was a good opportunity to network. I am keeping my fingers crossed now for my funding application.

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Saturday saw my WWM Sparks Young Writers Group in Worcester where I planned the session around more generous Christmas gifts from Mr. G. We looked at Science Fiction and created our own alien characters in preparation for longer writing in our February session.

Sunday saw a special event at the Kempe House Studios in Stratford-Upon-Avon with Cordula Kempe and Angela France. I sent three themed poems in December and two were picked, one of which was written in Angela’s December Workshop on Light and Colour. It was an inspiring evening, read more about it here.

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Week 4+:

Again there were events I would have liked to attend, but this year is all about balance and focus and when you are in training no distractions can compete. I had a meeting planned to follow up Workshop work from last year WPL and the possible next leg of the project, unfortunately I have had to postpone it due to paid work.

I spent a large amount of time preparing for applications and working on AToTC – A Tale of Two Cities, my current Transatlantic WPL Project. I also had a lot of work on (after a drought of 5 months this is no bad thing but typically comes at a very busy period).

I managed to get to Poetry Bites which is now hosted by Elaine Christie and Matt Nunn after Jacqui Rowe bowed out at the end of 2017 after running the event for a long time. It was a wonderful, successful evening with Guest Poets Casey Bailey & Claire Walker.

Claire Walker is a Worcestershire poet, her poetry has appeared in magazines, online and in anthologies such as The Chronicles of Eve, her first pamphlet, The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, Claire is a Poetry Reader for Three Drops Press, and Co-Editor of Atrium poetry. Casey Bailey is a poet, rapper, songwriter and a secondary school senior leader from Birmingham. He runs Bailey’s Rap and Poetry, as well as workshops in rap, poetry, music and song writing. Waiting at Bloomsbury Park is Casey’s first collection. © Live Brum 2018

 

 

 

Casey Bailey                                                                              Matt Nunn

 

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© Elaine Christie

 

Wolverhampton Literature Festival (WoLF) was my main focus this week, I started promoting across social media. The festival is in the 2nd year with an amazing Arts Programme. Friday 26th – Sunday 28th.

I performed as part of a 5 person collective organised by the Wolverhampton Arts Festival Team. Our reading was in the Art Gallery on Saturday 27th 3:30 PM

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/ninasophielauramauricerosina/4594119177

WoLF COLLECTIVE: NINA LEWIS, LAURA LIPTROT, MAURICE MALCOLM, SOPHIE SPARHAM & ROSINA TROTMAN

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http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/poetry/4593175102

 

 

A full review can be found here.

 

Week +

And finally the last few days of January were filled with desk work. Organising the final submissions for Contour Poetry Magazine, the deadline is the 1st February.

Working on my response poem as part of the ATOTC project and collating the work coming in as well as managing the 20+ poetry partnerships involved. In a moment of pure inspiration I decided to approach the Mayor of Worcester and ask if he would write the Foreward for the digital publication, he agreed. I am delighted. The project celebrates the cities.

I started planning the only official WPL event on my remit – World Poetry Day 21st March, seeking venue, securing performers, devising crazy (erm, I mean creative) ideas for the event.

Preparing for school workshops and meetings about them.

Researching and writing poems for 42, this month’s theme (chosen by Tim Stavert) Rag and Bone Man… I loved the idea, then I started trying to write… left it a fortnight, did a little background work, searched my memories and finally have a fairly rounded set including a spectacular 42-ish Haiku, political commentary wrapped up in a Tanka and a wonderful poem which is actually an acrostic. Happy with a couple of them.

42 Worcester was the final event of the month. Next month apart from the Verve Festival of Poetry and Spoken Word I will mainly be working from the desk. I have a billion things to do and prepare with workshops in February and March and writing schedules to keep. Contour magazine coming out and the special edition to work on.

I knew this time was coming and feel now, it has very much arrived. Of course, if you want to see me – you can always book me for your event.

 

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My Poet Laureate work this month involved planning and booking workshops, working on the Transatlantic Project – A Tale of Two Cities – managing the promotion and progression of the project, writing and collating poetry, working on Issue 2 of Contour – Love, completing  interviews, compiling a favourite poem list for the issue (out in February), having my first BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio Interview since October and organising the next steps of several projects started in 2017.

My next mission is to allocate enough time for the rest of my ideas over the next 5 months. I realise some of the WPL work will continue after Worcestershire gets a new Laureate, I always knew this would be the case. There are certain things I want to complete before I become a former Poet Laureate though (shivers). The team are already on the look out for the next Poet Laureate, applications are open until March. Check https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/ for more details if you reside in the county.

 

 

And finally, I started work on planning my World Poetry Day event for March. Very exciting!

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November Review

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November – one step closer to the end month! Where did 2017 go? It is true, the older you get the more time flies. Most of this month’s review will read like a gig list.

I am delighted to have started creating again, writing beyond commissions. I have also submitted poetry for the first time since the Spring (although three poems made it out in September).

Exciting news landed in my inbox about awards & festivals, on the back of the Hanbury Hall Poetry Project (WPL) I have started collaborating with a local artist, Stephen Evans and after a fallow period of being very busy but feeling disconnected, I feel better. Gliding rather than flapping towards December.

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Week 1 

Started at Bottles, Worcester for Uncorked without Holly Daffurn this month, but the reigns were taken by Joe. It was an enjoyable evening and I got to sit on a table with two journalists from the Local Paper – we had some great conversations about poetry.

I knew only half of the Headliners, I always enjoy it when I do not know the acts. I hadn’t seen Glyn Phillips a.k.a Armitage Spode for ages so it was good to catch up with him and I have never seen him perform with a Beatboxer, Fred Hanbury was AMAZING! As I left the gig I was about to tell him as much, but he disappeared swiftly on a skateboard (of course), I have never felt so old!

Melanie Branton was great, I loved her language play. Scott Cowley a.k.a Rusty the Goat Poet, I have had the pleasure of watching at Spoken Trend, great to hear a whole set from him and Raja Khan blew me away. I discovered later he is fairly new to performing his poetry publically – which is something I would not have guessed. The depth of his work was eye-opening to a world I do not know well.

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MELANIE BRANTON

Melanie Branton took up spoken word in 2014 at the age of 46. She won the 2015 Bristol regional final of the Hammer and Tongue slam and the 2017 Bristol regional final of Superheroes of Slam, has appeared at WOMAD, Bristol Harbour Festival and Cheltenham Poetry Festival and took a one-woman show about not having a boyfriend to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. Her debut collection, “My Cloth-Eared Heart”, is published by Oversteps Books and her mixture of comic verse and serious confessional poetry has made her a popular headliner in the South West. She still doesn’t have a boyfriend. “When I first saw Melanie perform a set in Bristol, I was laughing out loud and leaning in on the edge of my seat intently to hear more all in the space of 20 minutes. A fantastic poet with a great mix of dry humour and real-life heart and emotion.” – Harry Baker “Melanie Branton is an unexpected poetry slap. The kind that makes your face tingle and your eyebrows sky rocket. She is funny, clever, ironic, dry, gripping, needed and you won’t see her coming until she is standing in your face.” – Liv Torc

RUSTY THE GOAT POET

Scott Cowley (aka Rusty Goat the Poet) Born in 1972, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. He began to meander south at an early age (hence the lack of northern twang) His poetry touches on subjects relating to Life, Crisis, Love and Discovery. He finds the whole experience of writing and performing his poetry very cathartic. Scott tries to scratch pen across pulp on a daily, if not weekly basis, and will continue to do so until the ink runs dry.

RAJA KHAN

Raja Khan is a poet, philosopher and entrepreneur from Pakistan who came to the UK 4 years ago and has been writing poetry for the past 12 years, but only started performing 2 months ago. The melodic poetry that Raja performs is tightly composed and revolves around social, religious, cultural and political issues. Most of the inspiration for structure and rhythm is drawn from the classic poetry as that of Shakespeare, Blake, Wordsworth and Auden etc. Raja is direct in his admiration for the human spirit and progression, while highlighting his disdain for dogma and regressiveness through employing metaphores and a strong narrative style.

ARMITAGE SPODE

Armitage Spode describes himself as “part-time poet, half-time hedonist and full-time philanderer”. Mrs Spode describes him as “a very silly man who ought to get a proper job if he knows what’s good for him…”. With his ribald rhymes and saucy odes Armitage brings his old-fashioned Music Hall style of verbal entertainment to Worcester for one night only. Which is just as well – the good burghers probably won’t let him back through the city gates after this. With singalong choruses, a moustache large enough to make a grown woman weep and more innuendos than you can stuff inside a burlesque dancer’s corset, Armitage Spode will salaciously expound upon such subjects as Britain’s baked goods heritage, the British love of pets and why moustache wax is the new Viagra. Mary Berry and Barbara Woodhouse would most certainly not approve. Salvador Dali and Terry Thomas probably would. Armitage Spode: utter filth, served with finesse . . . Huzzah!!

© Uncorked

DAlma© Deborah Alma

 

I spent an amount of time with event background work this week. I received running orders from Peter Sutton for the Elgar Poetry Event, worked with the Jinney Ring in attempting to secure a reading of Sculpture Workshop work and discussing the exhibition and working with Rosie Philpott organising the Art side of the Hanbury Hall Poetry reading. I also had two Talks to prepare.

On Monday I went to Worcester University to do a poetry talk to the Creative Writing Society. This was my second talk and I have to say they are an enjoyable experience. With a teaching background I am not phased by public speaking. As with all these bookings there is lots to do in preparation and of course I got lost on Campus. I had a good evening and it brought back memories of oh, too long ago! As WPL I was impressed to receive at least one student submission on the back of this meeting. I wish CW Societies had existed when I was at uni.

 

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Week 2: 

Started with a treat, HOWL. It has been too long since I made it over for this event and Sophie Sparham (who has a book launch soon) had 2 nights of gigging in Birmingham. I missed Stirchley Speaks the night before and WAS NOT going to miss her again. I first met Sophie when we both Headlined Howl on the same night (still one of my favourite gigs), she is amazing, her work has more depth beyond the depth and she speaks honestly and openly about many topics that don’t get the word-time.

Joining her was Hannah Swings, a poet I have heard lots about who I had missed out on since my lost time in Birmingham, I used to be connected to the circuit more before they started digging up all the roads and building on my parking spaces. That and being a PL of an entire county which is some 35 miles away and not being able to afford petrol/train fare… the list goes on, but Birmingham, I miss you!

Ben Fagan was celebrating his birthday – so we all ended up wearing party hats. His work treads that fine thread balance beam from being so sad you almost cry and making you laugh and whoop loudly. It was a brilliant set.

I left this night feeling like I haven’t felt in a long time. I was electrified. The atmosphere of Howl is amazing. Roller coaster adrenaline all the way home and into the next day!

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Ben Fagan

Ben Fagan is a spoken word poet and producer from Aotearoa New Zealand, currently based in London. He is a TEDx performer and organiser, and has shared his work across the UK, USA and NZ. Ben has taken two poetry shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and tweets for Apples and Snakes. Alongside UK Slam Champion Sara Hirsch, he won the Edinburgh Fringe Anti-Slam and came second in the national finals, making them the second-worst poets in the UK.

Hannah Swings

Hannah Swings is a noun, not a verb. She is a writer, teacher, artist and lover of anything vintage. Born and raised in Birmingham, she’s currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at UoB, but has a background in community theatre and likes to dabble across all artistic platforms. When performing, Hannah’s ‘haunting yet hopeful’ storytelling spans themes such as identity, relationships and mental health, exploring her inner narratives through ephemeral, witty and illustrative visions.

Hannah spends her days teaching secondary and sixth form students that it is okay to be messy. Her handmade poetry postcards have recently celebrated the power of the everyday; something she’s fascinated by, and she continues to facilitate workshops surrounding this. [She can also quote the whole of Mean Girls and finds it fundamentally strange if someone is not a dessert person.]

Hannah has performed with Tongue Fu, featured at Stirchley Speaks and Upstairs at The Western, and at BOM, the Old REP, REP Birmingham, Derby Theatre, Oxjam Fest and mac, amongst others. She featured on BBC Radio West Midlands discussing the power of community when creating art and is an alumnus of both the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and Beatfreeks YSC cohort 2017.

She believes good things come to those who make.

Sophie Sparham

Sophie Sparham is a performance poet and writer from Derby. Represented by Tom Ashton, she is currently editing her second young adult sci-fi and fantasy novel.

Her poetry mainly focuses on political and social subjects, such as depression, LGBT and women’s issues. She has performed all around the UK; including festivals such as Y Not and the Opera House Stage at Rebellion, the UK’s biggest punk festival.

Sophie’s work has appeared in the People’s History Museum in Manchester, as part of the exhibition ‘Loitering with Intent’. Last year she was featured as one of the UK Young Artists with her collection ‘Dead Air: If they won’t place us in the history books, we’ll write our own stories’. This allowed her to perform poetry in unusual places from market halls to libraries, educating people about forgotten revolutionary figures from history.

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SE JEFF AMY

The following evening I went to SpeakEasy, Amy Rainbow and Jeff Cottrill were Headlining. It is unusual to have two headliners at SpeakEasy and it was fabulous.

I love watching Amy and it has been so long since I saw her in action. It was a pleasure. Heartfelt and humorous, another performer who balances well.

Jeff Cottrill is from Canada his set was lively fun to watch. I always enjoy the work of International poets and try to catch them when I can. It’s a big world out there!

Amy Rainbow and Jeff Cottrill are two celebrated poets and authors with distinctive styles and work that really packs a punch – and this month you have the chance to see both of them. Amy and Jeff will both be delivering a 20 minute performance each on the evening so for a chance to see two stellar poets in action, come on down to SpeakEasy and settle in for an evening of crackin’ entertainment. 

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It was certainly crackin’ and entertaining! Lots of great open mics too and I managed to bag a 6 minute slot, although I had to pretend to be Steve… this was okay, I had taken my moustache poem, it deserved an outing, last performed at Kieran’s Kings & Queens of Comedy night back in January.

 

 

U3A_official_logo - orange© u3asites

Friday saw my 2nd talk of the week, this time for Worcester’s U3A group. It was an honour to be the first guest speaker and I felt relaxed talking about all things Laureate. The questions from the groups were focused and I hope my answers were too. I also did a quick write exercise using juxtaposition which produced some wondrous poems. I also heard some of their writing too. A valuable experience and as a bonus I walked away with a few new ideas of my own.

 

 

Saturday saw an Elgar Poetry Event at the Elgar School of Music. What I really loved about all this that despite all the shared emails, we did not see each other’s sets. It was joyous to listen to them and Peter Sutton deserves lots of credit for his skillful weaving of our work. The flow was there between Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Elgar, Alice, Youth, Old age, Death and interwoven insights from Peter and works of Elgar’s contemporaries. Michael’s reading of W.H Auden nearly sent me over the edge. Moving. Dramatic. Fun. Delightful. A true experience of an evening and as a fundraiser it was successful too.

Read more about it here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/elgar-poetry-event/

Peter Sutton, Lesley Ingram, Nina Lewis and Michael W. Thomas.

 

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Sunday I spent time producing WPL Remembrance Anthology to mark Remembrance Sunday. This was my hardest editing challenge yet. Submissions reached over 3 figures, the maybe pile was towering and I only had a couple of days between the deadline and production of the work.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/remembrance-anthology/

I am happy with the result and so are the poets who found their work had been placed. It was heartwarming and sad to read all the tributes to family members and unearth the war stories. I was delighted to have had such a response, this was truly an International collection. We have former soldiers, grandchildren/children of the Remembered, heartache, hope and truth blended here.

Here are just some of the things that have been said about it:

What a lovely and extremely moving Remembrance Anthology.

Such wonderful and meaningful poems.

Some lovely poems here. Beautifully put together with images.

It is a beautiful anthology.

 

 

LtR

Monday saw the biggest crowd ever at Licensed to Rhyme with Spoz & Maggie Doyle, standing room only, 17 open mics and Kathy Gee in the Guest Spot and headlined by Ash Dickinson. It was an incredible evening. It was a delight to see the new venue had indeed brought Birmingham people in. The previous venue was technically only 4 miles further out but not close to the stations. I also know how relieved I am when I make the journey the other way and the venue is in the outskirts rather than central city. I also believe we had audience from the village itself, I hope they come again too. I would if it was my village (not smarting at all that my closest venue has decamped)! It is a cracking evening wherever they host it and I do like the new venue.

Ash Dickinson is a performer I have followed for years and I am so delighted he is busy on the circuit, although how he manages it – I think he has wings! His set was a delight. Thoroughly enjoyed by everybody in the room! A blinding night!

 

AWARDS

vpress-stand-free-verse © V. Press 2016

Tuesday saw amazing news in my inbox, my publishers are shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award. I shall be keeping my fingers crossed on the 12th December.

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/michael-marks-awards-shortlisting.html

V. Press is very very delighted to have been shortlisted for the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award…

The pamphlets that V. Press had in for this year are: Alex Reed’s A Career in Accompaniment, Nina Lewis’ Fragile Houses, David Clarke’s Scare Stories and Stephen Daniels’ Tell Mistakes I Love Them.

It’s been a delight to publish these pamphlets and V. Press is very very proud of all its authors – the press is its writers, readers and all those involved with it, including our fabulous poetry covers from V. Press designer Ruth Stacey.

The Awards will be announced at a dinner at the British Library on Tuesday, 12 December, where Sarah Leavesley will be giving a three minute presentation about the V. Press 2016/17 pamphlet list.

© V. Press

Do check out the V. Press website on the Awards link above, they are offering a generous discount on the pamphlets they had in for this year. Read more here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/shortlisted-michael-marks-award/

This wasn’t the only AMAZING news in my inbox. I was also invited to be an International Guest at a Poetry Festival next summer. Of course I started dancing around the room and looking into funding straight away. Then I received a follow up email with the application process. Fortunately most of the CV is up to date since applying for the Reader Residency in July.

The 5 day wait for the committee decision was agonising… my booking was confirmed.

Celebrate the World

All this good news hit my inbox on the same day as the Hanbury Hall Poetry/Art event.

I spent the whole day feeling like a child at Christmas counting down the minutes to my Hanbury Hall Poetry & Art event. Especially after the fortnight’s preparation. Another cracking night, another packed cafe!

Park's cafe 2

This time for the 2nd part of the Hanbury Hall Poetry Project. Nine poets who took part writing ekphrastic poetry based on the DAN Art Exhibition at Hanbury Hall in October came to share their poems at a special reading where (thanks to Rosie Philpott) we were able to show images of the artwork alongside our poems.

It was a fantastic evening and was even better than I hoped. It was also my last planned event as WPL for 2017. Read more here.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/final-wpl-event-of-2017/

 

 

Week 3

The following night Kathy Gee, Maggie Doyle and I journeyed to Cheltenham to Smokey Joes for Poetry Cafe Refreshed. It was lovely to see Sharon Larkin again, it has been too long.

It was an enjoyable evening with a rich variety of poetry and even a few spoken word spots. Kate Noakes shared her incredible poetry and I wish I hadn’t spent my funds on milkshake and wine because I would have treated myself to her books.

smokey joes

It amazes me that I haven’t come across her before her biography and back catalogue both impressive. I will certainly have an eye out for her and her poetry in the future. I particularly admired the concept of her Tattoo collection.

Her first collection Ocean to Interior, was published by Mighty Erudite Press in December 2007, whilst I was still very much stuck in a full-time teaching career and poetry was way off my radar.

Here latest collection is published by Eyewear and is all about Paris, where she now lives most of the time.

eyewear kate noakes.jpg

https://store.eyewearpublishing.com/products/paris-stage-left

 

The following evening I hit Birmingham – for Hit the Ode, which was celebrating 7 years of amazing Spoken Word and Poetry. This special anniversary addition included Birthday cakes, poetry open mic and Regional – Roger Robinson (Northampton), National – Shadè Joseph (London)  and International – Penny Ashton (NZ) Headliners as well as an amazing raffle, no one envied Jack Crowe taking that huge heavy bag of books home, well – we all did a bit!

I was looking forward to seeing Roger Robinson again, my first time witnessing his magic was at Ledbury Poetry Festival. Shadè Joseph & Penny Ashton were new to me and I enjoyed both sets. Shadè’s heavily influenced by music/musicians and Penny’s was humorous, rude, sexy and delightful! I also owe her big time for finding my fiver and train ticket that had fallen out of my pocket earlier in the evening. (Mr G. reminds me to use my purse, I have at least 10!)

It was (as always) an immensely fun evening, the rock world of poetry in my opinion. It was also the German Christmas Market outside so the streets of the city were very much alive at the beginning of the night but had all packed up by the time us late-night Poets made our way home.

hit

From London, Shadè Joseph
Shadè Joseph is a 23 year old Writer/Musician from East London.
She has been writing/performing poetry and producing, composing and accompanying musicians singer/songwriters and poets for the past four years and worked alongside the likes of London Symphony Orchestra, Ayanna Witter -Johnson, Caleb Femi, Tolu Agbelusi, Tshaka Campbell and Buddy Wakefield. When she’s not doing all of that good stuff she’s probably somewhere laughing or dancing or eating plantain chips or giving someone a hug.

From Northampton, Roger Robinson
Roger Robinson has performed worldwide and is an experienced workshop leader and lecturer on poetry. He was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon. He received commissions from The National Trust, London Open House, The National Portrait Gallery, The V&A, INIVA and Theatre Royal Stratford East where he also was an associate artist.

He was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize and highly commended by the Forward Poetry Prize 2013. He has toured extensively with the British Council and is a co-founder of both Spoke Lab and the international writing collective Malika’s Kitchen and is an alumni of The Complete Works. His New and Selected Poems is soon to be published on Peepal Tree Press.
He released two albums with Disrupt on every reggae lovers favourite label Jahtari in 2015 and is a founding member of King Midas Sound on Ninja Tune.

From New Zealand, Penny Ashton,
Penny Ashton is New Zealand’s own global comedienne who has been making a splash on the world stage since 2002. She has performed over 600 solo shows and has sold out from Edinburgh to Adelaide to Edmonton. She has represented both New Zealand in The World Cup of Theatresports in Germany, and Australasia in a Performance Poetry Slam Tournament Tour of the UK. She has also performed poetry by invitation at The Glastonbury Festival, her solo musical Promise and Promiscuity at The Jane Austen Festival in Bath and has reported from the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas. 

© HTO

© Penny Ashton Womad, Roger Robinson Twitter, Shadè Joseph You Tube

 

Sparks YW group celebrated Mickey Mouse’s Birthday with a session on Comic Strips/Graphic Novels.

I had the rest of the weekend off with Mr. G.

Monday night saw the V.I.P Launch of the Verve Poetry/Spoken Word Festival. I was invited last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. This year was just as wonderful. The evening included performances from Sean Colletti, Casey Bailey & Liz Berry, who are all featuring in the 2018 programme, which I also got my hands on. Workshops have been booked and I have a festival pass request in with Santa!

verve 9

I spent the night whizzing around Waterstones, twirling into people, briefly conversing, hugging & generally enjoying the atmosphere.

My glittery lipstick went down a storm too, although having forgotten the application, I wondered why people were staring at my mouth.

glitter lips epic

Read all about it here

I have my tickets booked already and suggest you do the same! The Liz Berry workshop SOLD OUT within 3 days, so glad I bagged my ticket.

verve

 

This week also saw a new project get off the ground for WPL. An idea first floated back in July to The Basement Project for some community workshops. I am delighted after meeting the team this morning to have these booked in for Spring 2018.

Basement+(2)

The Basement Project is run by volunteers who do very important work and provide support and advice to 16-25 year olds who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Find out more about them here.

 

Week 4:

I mainly worked on submissions and balancing my time with life offline and out of poetry books/events. I was sad to have to cancel my radio slot with Tammy Gooding on BBC Hereford & Worcester this week.

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Thursday night saw a superb event at Waterstones, Burning Eye Book Launch. Having had less than a week of work this academic year, my funds are definitely in the red and with Christmas Shopping to do I have cut back on both travel and events for December, starting this week. I also feel the need for balance and time at home. I need to re-energise and with this in mind, I was not too gutted when my Friday gig was cancelled.

I finally started to fill in the blog gaps, with my review posts of Poetry Swindon Festival (October).

spf promo

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/swindon-poetry-festival-2017/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/poetry-swindon-festival-day-1/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/poetry-swindon-day-2/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/poetry-swindon-day-2-evening/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/poetry-swindon-festival-day-3/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/poetry-swindon-festival-day-4/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/poetry-swindon-day-4-festival-finale/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/poetry-swindon-day-5-farewell-brunchfast/

 

I also wrote some Guest Blog posts for Warwickshire Libraries for my Reader in Residence role. My first workshop is next week.

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

I was saving all my energy for Saturday – and I certainly needed to.

Saturday saw a day at Croome Court for the official Adam Speaks NT project event that I have been involved in with Room 204 since May.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/adam-speaks/

Events started at midday with the official speeches at 3 and the grand opening 3:30 PM

I arrived at 1:30 with plenty of time to take in the events, the Tree House and catch up with people working on the project. I am writing a full review early next week and will add the link back here. There is so much to say about today. A wow day indeed!

croome dance 2

© 2017 Nina Lewis 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/adam-speaks-the-project/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/adam-speaks-tree-house-launch/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/adam-speaks-chris-alton/

I also sent lots of submissions this month, finally back in the saddle after 5 months of WPL/Events Management/ Performance work. So far, the inbox has amassed a collection of rejections, I was shortlisted for one anthology, sadly have since found my poems won’t be included. This is the way it goes sometimes. I am okay with that. I am just happy I have started writing and submitting again.

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I also FINALLY started to gather ideas for the next book. I was beginning to think this would never happen. It has happened, it has started, 3 pages of notes and a trawl through current files has set it well on its way.

I missed several events due to lack of funds, time and energy and you know, I am beginning to learn the gentle act of forgiveness for such things. I knew I wanted to wind down a bit in December – necessary as I need to give time to home and family.

One event I did NOT want to miss was Jacqui Rowe’s final Poetry Bites. She has been organising this bi-monthly event for years. She has encouraged over 500 poets in floor spots and 70 Guest Poets too. She has hosted Poetry Bites for over 10 years.

Antony Owen and Jacqui Rowe were the featured poets with 17 floor spots. It was great to hear a whole set from Jacqui, whose collection ‘Blink’ has just been released by V. Press. Antony’s set brought me to tears several times. I would urge you to buy The Nagasaki Elder (V. Press) too. Put them both on Christmas lists, these are books which need to be read.

© Roz Goddard

Poetry Bites will be continuing, in the capable hands of Elaine Christie and Matt Nunn. It will still be the fourth Tuesday of January, March, May, July, September, and November at the Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath.

This week I also secured a school poetry workshop that has been in development since the beginning of October. It will happen in March 2018.

I also took a booking for an event at the Birmingham Midland Institute for May 2018. I really need to get my hands on a new diary, I have a special one on my Christmas List. One I have wanted since 2014. A special Mslexia Diary.

diary2018

I also secured  some exciting opportunities for Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival. 2018 verve v stickis going to rock!

 

Week 5

Started with clashing events – Spoken Trend in Kings Norton had Casey Bailey and Theo Theobald as the Headliners, but I had already committed to 42 in Worcester. These events always clash, so I try to divide my time between them.

42

42 has been hosted by Polly Stretton for a while now and this year she introduced guest hosts to MC. I have known who the November MC will be and I promised them months ago I would be there. I also wrote my ‘Haunted Castle’ themed poem a month ago too, although having left it to rest I know it needs a bit of editing work.

It was an enjoyable evening after I managed to get there for the 2nd half. The Victorian Christmas Fayre is in town and the car park closest to the venue is fully fun fair! I knew this, I didn’t like to use a multi-storey and as I entered every other available car park I either found them to be full or one car sneaking into the last space. After several circuits of the city and resisting a turn back home, twice(!) I finally parked miles away, with a 20 minute brisk walk back to the venue. It was worth it though. I dusted off ‘The Stanley Hotel’ with newly recorded soundbites too.

Thursday 30th saw me deliver my first workshop as the Reader in Residence in Rugby.

wmrn review writing workshop.jpg

Which despite finishing planning and researching in October, I used another 7 hours prepping a few days before. This meant end of month submissions were tight. It was a great workshop – blogpost soon.

I also had the opportunity to go a special reading/recording of a new pamphlet, terribly exciting both the anticipation of the launch/book (next month) and also this recording. Claire Walker’s 2nd Pamphlet ‘Somewhere Between Rose and Black’ published by V. Press Launches on 9th December. Yesterday she invited some of us to a closed reading as part of her interview with a BBC Online Journalist. Unfortunately it happened whilst I was out on the road after the workshop*.

Why do so many brilliant things always have to clash? I have had many whole weeks with no work for months since July and now it has finally started to trickle in this happens!

Frustrating. But great that there is so much going on.

*I don’t want this to become an angry blogpost about the state of the roads – but my journey across took over 1hr 40 mins today and parking was once again a problem. Next workshop I am setting out super early!

deb alma xmas© Deborah Alma

December was meant to be a month off but the amount of events in the diary already prove that this will not quite be the case. I am going to start working on my next collection and take at least 10 days off completely just to do Christmas things. Mr G. and I both get a fortnight off work so that should be feasible.

It might take 10 days to get my room Christmas ready!

 

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

1431766712434-rfw-table-plum-stalks jack nelson.jpg

© 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

Adam Speaks Launch Croome Court

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Today was the launch of Adam Speaks at Croome Court (National Trust). This is a project I have been working on as part of a team from Room 204, Writing West Midlands.

The Lead Artist on the project was Chris Alton. I will be writing a full blog post as soon as I can. I had a great afternoon at Croome, it was wonderful to see all parts of the collaboration come together and as for Adam’s Tree House (as it is now known), it was an amazing feat of art and engineering! A beautiful space that the NT team at Croome will be using well, I already have the inside line on a few possibilities.

Loved the fact that in the FREE cupcake Marquee there was an ideas board for how to use the art, which will now remain for at least a year.

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To mark the opening of our new Chris Alton Adam Speaks exhibition we will be holding a launch day on Saturday 25 November with a packed programme of activities. The official opening will take place at 3.30pm by Artist Hew Locke.

Adam Speaks Tree House Launch Saturday 25 November 2017

From 12.00pm to 4.00pm, we have a full programme of activities inspired by the Adam Speaks project and its participants.

Church Hill Marquee: 12.00pm – 3.00pm Build a Robert Adam inspired structure and share it with #Adamspeaks

Poetry in the Adam Speaks Tree House 12.00pm – 3.00pm with Kurly McGeachie

Long Gallery Croome Court:

12.00pm:         Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

12.30pm:         The Sixth Form College Worcester

1.00pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

1.30pm:           The Sixth Form College Worcester

2.00pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

2.30pm:           The Sixth Form College Worcester

3.00pm:           Formal opening speeches in the Long Gallery.

3.10pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts performance in the Adam Speaks Tree House.

3.30pm:           Formal opening of the Adam Speaks Tree House by Hew Locke

Words for the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts and Kimichi School provided and inspired by Writing West Midlands Participants.

Adam Speaks themed cupcakes will be available in the marquee on Church Hill throughout the day. (Subject to availability).

  © 2017 National Trust

Our poems were exhibited along with the Adam Speaks display in the participation area downstairs, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, they’re passed by everyone on the way to the Tea Room.

They also inspired the dancework of the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts and Kimichi School group, which was a delight to know. Every tree has a strong root foundation, no matter how invisible it becomes. Everything starts with a strong base and I for one am delighted that some of that was our ink.

It was a great opportunity and one I thoroughly enjoyed and Chris Alton’s Room 204 workshop is going down in history as the longest workshop I have ever taken part in. Time flies when you’re having fun!

croome dance

© 2017 Nina Lewis

Immensely proud of my old mobile phone for managing such great shots!

croome dance 2

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/projects/adam-speaks

 

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).

spf

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!

 

Poetry-Swindon-1-300x300-300x300

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.

2017-poetry-swindon

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.

INKSPILL SHARE BUTTON

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!

ZCR_BEM_171017TownHall_02 birmingham mail

© 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.

Flapjack-Flyer-Pic.jpg

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

November Update

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November is nearly halfway through. The diary is full and we are fast approaching the busy home season too. 

This week events run back to back and there are some that I will sadly have to forego to make sure I keep my head above water and sleep! 

LtR

Tonight is Licensed to Rhyme with Ash Dickinson. I am delighted that a poem which was inspired by a conversation with him earlier this year, is finally ready to perform this evening. 

L2R

 

Tomorrow is the almost-conclusion* of the WPL Hanbury Hall Poetry Project. 18 poets signed up to visit Hanbury Hall over 3 weeks in October during the DAN Art Exhibition in the Long Gallery. Poets used the artworks to inspire writing.

hanbury hall LG malcolm ross

© Malcolm Ross 2017

Since then Polly Stretton and I went along to the closing ceremony to share our poems. Polly’s poem ‘Curves’ won a competition to find a reader for the event judged by Peter Hawkins (Chair) and mine was slipped in as the organiser and Worcestershire Poet Laureate. 

 

This Tuesday Parks Cafe will host 9 of the poets, our reading is accompanied by the artwork on screen and I am very grateful to Rosie Philpott for coordinating that side of the event. It is FREE and I hope many of the artists will be able to attend. 

Parks Cafe Hanbury Poems

 

* Some of these poems may appear in the next issue of Contour the WPL Digital Magazine (Spring Issue – February)

I am organising an exhibition of the poetry along with photos of the artwork that inspired them in 2018 at Hanbury Hall in the Long Gallery – which will be the eventual conclusion of this project.

Wednesday is a poetry outing – a few Worcestershire poets are heading over to Smokey Joes in Cheltenham for Poetry Cafe Refreshed. I haven’t made it back since I headlined in 2015, so well overdue a visit! 

smokey joes

Thursday sees the 7th Anniversary of Hit The Ode – a special event taking place in Waterstones this month. I am keeping everything crossed that I have time after work to make it there. I love this event and haven’t been able to make one since they started back after the summer. They always feature National and International Headliners.

Featuring:
From London, Shadè Joseph
Shadè Joseph is a 23 year old Writer/Musician from East London.
She has been writing/performing poetry and producing, composing and accompanying musicians singer/songwriters and poets for the past four years and worked alongside the likes of London Symphony Orchestra, Ayanna Witter -Johnson
Caleb Femi, Tolu Agbelusi, Tshaka Campbell and Buddy Wakefield. When she’s not doing all of that good stuff she’s probably somewhere laughing or dancing or eating plantain chips or giving someone a hug.

From Northampton, Roger Robinson
Roger Robinson has performed worldwide and is an experienced workshop leader and lecturer on poetry. He was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon. He received commissions from The National Trust, London Open House, The National Portrait Gallery, The V&A, INIVA and Theatre Royal Stratford East where he also was an associate artist.

He was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize and highly commended by the Forward Poetry Prize 2013. He has toured extensively with the British Council and is a co-founder of both Spoke Lab and the international writing collective Malika’s Kitchen and is an alumni of The Complete Works. His New and Selected Poems is soon to be published on Peepal Tree Press.
He released two albums with Disrupt on every reggae lovers favourite label Jahtari in 2015 and is a founding member of King Midas Sound on Ninja Tune.

From New Zealand, Penny Ashton,
Penny Ashton is New Zealand’s own global comedienne who has been making a splash on the world stage since 2002. She has performed over 600 solo shows and has sold out from Edinburgh to Adelaide to Edmonton. She has represented both New Zealand in The World Cup of Theatresports in Germany, and Australasia in a Performance Poetry Slam Tournament Tour of the UK. She has also performed poetry by invitation at The Glastonbury Festival, her solo musical Promise and Promiscuity at The Jane Austen Festival in Bath and has reported from the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas.

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On Friday Jack Crowe has organised another extravaganza – I heard so many good things about the first event of this kind (February 2017) and I would like to think by Friday I may have grown wings to fly back into the city. However, looking at the schedule as I type I am having palpitations. 

funk

This event happens at The Edge in Digbeth 7:30 -10:30 PM

If you go on the back of seeing it here – let Jack know, especially if I don’t manage to get there myself, he will be happy that I sent you to the door. 

Funkenteleky, in which four poets and four musicians wake up together.

*they combine live on-stage at The Edge, in a unique, one time only, funky, verby spoken potion which makes y’all do a dance in your minds.

*it’s Birmingham’s most irregular Poetry and Music collaboration night, and it’s gonna be well fun.

Doing this this time shall be:

FERRIS / LEE / WEIR

are an organ trio of critically acclaimed musicians: Dave Ferris on organ, Ben Lee on guitar, and Billy Weir on drums. The name of the band is their surnames, we notice. Expect Latin grooves, New Orleans shuffles, mind-boggling improvisation, and a set of their own inspired tunes to close the night. Don’t expect acid-skiffle space thrash, but equally don’t be surprised if it happens. For Funkenteleky the band will be joined by a player of brass, who will remain mysterious, silhouetted in these pixels, an untapped funk spring.
“I love this kind of grooving, funky organ trio music, and last night Ferris/Lee/Weir took it to new heights of originality, creativity, imagination, feel and chops.”
We can’t wait. https://billyweir.com/ferris-lee-weir/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6shj9zpF1I

LEON PRIESTNALL

is one of Birmingham’s best poets. His work scatters back and forth between the observational and the vulnerable, humorous and raw. Bearing his heart in lines of tongue twisting insight, Leon tells us stories of love and betrayal, and stories of innocence and bliss. The host of Howl, the city’s hippest poetry knees up, we’re thrilled that he’ll be treating us to a unique performance of his own work. A headliner at events such as Hit the Ode, Level Up, Grizzly Pear and more, he is a consummate performer who lives and breathes spoken word. He’s awesome, basically.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQvLIcujRkI

BETHANY SLINN

loves the po. She combines political commentary with small moments, using sensory imagery s k i pping with movement to depict individual and collective urban experiences. She makes the truth vivid and the vividness true. She’s done so at Verve Poetry Fest, Level UP!, Howl, Stirchley Speaks and Shanty Town and is currently focusing on building Agora Poetry, a platform for spoken word and storytelling inviting underrepresented voices into the room. Never-stop-being-curious.
Bethany Slinn- Poet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qddLIvHI008&t

TARIK ROSS-CAMERON

crafts stories of his experiences in Birmingham, mixing warm humour with authentic social observation. He has honed his talents in headline slots at Howl and Stirchley Speaks. On the 25th of October he launches his new collection ‘Do What you Can’, commissioned by Punch Records, Arts Connect and the Gallery 37 Foundation. In 2016 he was part of the Hippodrome’s B-Side Hip Hop Festival, showcasing his poetic propensity for rhythm and rhyme. He’s a Brummie of whom the city is very proud, and we can’t wait for him to light up the Funkenteleky stage.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leyl2zLAfYQ&list=PLHtPk-aPh1AaNJIX37Kv47sq5ALe0UBXn

ANDY OWEN COOK

is a writer, theatre maker and friendly human from Sheffield. He has performed and made work for and in Theatre Deli, Arts Depot, Camden People’s Theatre, Wardrobe Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, Flim Nite, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Bradford Poetry City, and elsewhere. Currently he’s touring a performance called The Church of Jim, after a successful month of performing it in one place, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. State of the Arts gave it five stars, calling it “weird, wonderful and somewhat outrageous… from terrifying and bizarre, to beautiful and hypnotic.” Andy once said ‘rimming’ in a poem on BBC Radio Sheffield. Outside of poetry, Andy is a hysterical railway signalman, and you are a glistening moon. He is a wristwatch with no strap and you are a magnifying glass, kindling a fire purely from the thoughts of winged squid scudding to the cities of humans to warn us of ourselves.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3_Nm421q7w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEuRnEJbRNI&t=2s

 

Saturday I will spend the morning with my Spark Young Writers Group (another reason I may not make it to Funkenteleky). In the afternoon there is a Room 204 workshop that I hope to attend. 

And next week looks just as full! 

Happening this month:

Verve Poetry Festival V.I.P Launch, a WPL meeting for a new community project, WPL radio interview BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding, Burning Eye Books Event, A Night of Music and Poetry at the Jinney Ring, the conclusion of the Croome Court Adam Speaks Performance and 42.

My WMRN role at Rugby Library is also active with the public now. I shall be facilitating my first workshop at the end of the month. 

wmrn review writing workshop

In addition to all this I am trying to secure work and focus on my own writing and submissions after submerging myself in the Poet Laureate role for the past 5 months. 

There are patches of the blog which need updating. I will get to them as soon as I can. I am planning some time out from the circuit in December (fortunately it winds down a little anyway).

RELATED LINKS:

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/hanbury-hall-poetry-at-parks-cafe/

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/art-down-words-up/

 

Carving Time Not Pumpkins

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A writer’s life is all about carving out time. We have to learn to be organised. We have to prioritise and we have to work hard.

I have blogposts I am desperate to write about all the wonderful things which fill my diary: poetry festivals, literature festivals, performances, events, projects… but I also need to invest time in the plates spinning precariously above my head.

It’s all about hats really… (this is definitely where I should mention Swindon Poetry Festival, but the reference will not make sense until I blog about it).

The Poet Laureate hat is a tall hat and possesses magical powers!hat-2844056_1920

It can elongate time and gift me extra pairs of hands! I am currently pulling together the Hanbury Hall Poetry Project where a group of 18 poets are writing ekphrastic poetry based on a DAN Art Exhibition.

NAT TRUST

© Hanbury Hall

Many of the poets are busy creating poetry and I am delighted that I managed to get to the Exhibition, talked to some of the artists, met up with some of the National poets and got poetry written too.

The Vice Chair is organising a competitive element by choosing one poem/poet to also perform at the Celebratory event in the Long Gallery at Hanbury Hall (a National Trust property) on the 30th October. I am organising a reading with some of the poets for November 14th.

Hanbury Hall Poets

This hat is also working on a commission for an event organised by Peter Sutton to raise funds for the Elgar Festival 2018. I am writing poetry for a complete set and also researching the work of Elgar’s contemporaries. I was delighted to be asked to be a part of this project, back in September but a week at the Swindon Poetry Festival followed by another ill under a blanket as well as going back to the day job has halted the flow on creating work somewhat. Peter needs the work for programming so I will be inside the PL Top Hat this weekend for sure.

Poetry Evening Poster 3 v3

I told you this was a top hat! I am also working on an exhibition of our Sculpture Trail Poetry for the Jinney Ring, which will be on show in the restaurant throughout November.

Also working on a poetry reading event for this body of work.  final design

I have also been planning my next WPL workshop, this time with children, for Halloween, there are lots of activities planned and it should be a really great afternoon in the library next weekend.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

So if you know any little people – send them our way (come with them, obviously), now that WOULD be scary!

world mental health The World Mental Health Day Poetry Collection was such a necessary anthology that I scrapped the deadline and opened the submissions to last the term of my Laureateship. I was delighted after performing at the Mental Health & Wellbeing Awareness Event on the 14th to receive a submission from someone who was there. mental health awareness day bliss

I am also compiling the first issue of CONTOUR – my digital WPL magazine. Copy of Food Magazine Flyer Template (2)

 

Now my Poet hat looks like this… hat-2406035_1920

if it truly was mine it would have a coffee in the background! It has been a busy time under this hat, mostly the end of September and beginning of October, before the dreaded Swindon Lurgy caught up with me post-festival. I missed lots of events such as Howl, PTS and a workshop. I had hoped to go to many events at the Birmingham Literature Festival, but missed everything apart from the final day.

I went to see Hollie McNish perform from Plum at the Town Hall in Birmingham, it was great to watch Joe Cook supporting her. I missed all of Cheltenham Literature Festival, I missed Wellington Festival as my car needed attention. I did get to Stablemates (finally) – although they came up from London to Birmingham Waterstones. The trains were a nightmare and the total travel time verged on 3 hours… but I think I was lucky that my trains ran at all.

I have planned my next Spark Young Writers for this weekend – getting a little early spooky in.

I am busy preparing INKSPILL for the final weekend in October, especially as I will be workshopping for part of it. The first year, I knew nothing of scheduling and spent the whole time LIVE on the laptop. Since 2014, I have mastered the dark art of WordPress, although I like to be present and LIVE when I can be.

Copy of Event Flyer (1)

I am also hoping to make it to a few Book Launches before the end of the month!

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This is the hat of West Midlands Reader Network Reader in Residence.

For a title that long you need a feather or two. Since our meetings in September I have been working on some reading challenge ideas for Rugby Library and planning my first workshop – to be delivered at the end of November. I am also planning to write a Guest Blog by way of introduction before the real work begins next month.

So although I would love to carve a pumpkin or two, my hands are going to be fairly busy typing for the next week or so!

I owe this blog posts on: Credo, Free Verse Poetry Book Fair, Swindon Poetry Festival, Hollie McNish, Stablemates and more!

 

A Quick Update 1/4 of the Way into July!

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The beginning of this month has been scheduled to full capacity. Starting with a meeting at the Medical Museum, Charley Barnes asked me to write and perform (along with Mike Alma & Polly Stretton) at ‘Buildings Talk – Hospital Histories’ on the 13th July.

Buildings Talk

 

The George Marshall Medical Museum is a hidden gem, an archive of 250 years of healthcare and hospital history and it will be open on the evening of the event and I am incredibly excited to get inside and have a look at all the history. We are currently working with photographs that Louise Price (Curator) has provided, we all selected the images that talked to us and have been busily writing poetry.

I am looking forward to this performance, having seen the space and the projection area. I am currently editing my writing for this Thursday. https://medicalmuseum.org.uk/

I missed Stanza as my body hit sleep mode!

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It was also the beginning of Ledbury Poetry Festival – I have been drooling over the programme for months but can only manage tomorrow (the final day). I am looking forward to that! http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/

On Saturday (the real beginning of July), I went to the Custard Factory – Writing West Midlands for a Room 204 project. Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year. We are one of 4 groups creating the outcome along with Chris Alton the Lead Artist on the project. Participating groups are: Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School.

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© Peter Young 2017

Worcester News

They had a huge number of applicants for this position, including international applications. 13 were shortlisted and in April, Chris was chosen from this group.

 

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. © National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

http://www.chrisalton.com/

The workshop was an intensive thought process in a relaxed atmosphere. Lasting for 6 hours, Chris went away with a massive amount of writing by the end. I look forward to being a part of Adam Speaks. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/projects/adam-speaks

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© Peter Young 2017

Sunday saw Evesham Festival of Words and my third official appearance as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, as we took to the green of the town on the Poetry Walk. The programme for this festival was strong and again, there was much I wanted to go and see, but with work and bookings and the In tray of writing tasks currently being shuffled (I mean written), I had no spare time.

Evesham-Festival-of-Words-Image-1

https://eveshamfestivalofwords.org/programme/

 

I was looking forward to this as previous years have been really successful. This year it was all centred in the park around the Bell Tower and I performed under the Cloisters, some poems I wrote especially for the event which were Evesham based. It was a good turn out and I took lots of pictures, which I still need to upload!

 

 

Monday I had my first official slot as WPL on BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding. The interview itself was incredibly short, but it will be a regular monthly slot that I am stepping into. Previous Laureates have done this for years, it is good to keep up the media side. Suz Winspear (WPL 2016-17) continues to write her column for SLAP (Supporting Local Arts & Performers) Magazine. I saw we had a mention in there too – another photo to upload.

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It was lovely meeting Tammy and see her passion for poetry. She made me feel at ease and the interview (pre-recorded) needed no editing. Impressive for my first time.

You can listen in http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p055z30x

 

In the evening I had a Guest Spot at Licensed to Rhyme, hosted by Maggie Doyle & Spoz. Suz Winspear was headlining. It was good to see some new faces and it was a wonderful night of poetry. Claire Walker took the other Guest Spot and I also got to re-meet my High School English Teacher who has started volunteering at the Arts Centre, she retires this year – I have to say, I recognised her straight away but was convinced it couldn’t be her as she looked NO DIFFERENT! I bet she was a little proud to watch a former pupil do something with her subject.

licensed-to-rhyme-new (1)

There were many events Tuesday and Wednesday, but I was working and felt the need to rest and see Mr. G. before headlining Thursday.

 

Thursday night saw me Headline at Uncorked along with Clive Oseman, Jake Scott and Sean Colletti. This wonderful (new) night hosted by Holly Daffurn is always a pleasure to experience, the venue Bottles Wine Bar is brilliant and they love these events as much as we do.

bottles

Everyone produced incredible sets and Sean had spent some time (few weeks) organising us through messenger. Holly allows the headline acts to provide a taster of 5 minutes at the beginning of the evening.

Sean devised a theatrical element – a Dr./patient interview, with light and shade in the script, my favourite line was Jake’s ~ referring to Sean qualifying as a Doctor (in Creative Writing) “What are you going to do? Prescribe Poetry?” We all performed a poem and one of mine ‘Humans’ was divided up so all 4 of us took part.

It was a first for Uncorked and it worked effectively. Great impact for a taster. It was an enjoyable evening, big thanks to Kieran Davis for coming and being my support.

helen ivory martin figura

 

On Friday I had to get up early and head to Shrewsbury for a totally wonderful workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura – who I almost had the chance to meet in 2015, possibly perform on the same night but failed to meet the deadline. It was great to finally meet them both and I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour workshop at the Theatre Severn.

It was worth every minute of journey (my SATNAV took me via Bridgnorth and up some incredibly steep hills)!

I came home laden with books and ideas. Unfortunately I was too tired to do anything other than add the books to the poetry shelf/bookcase and curl up in a ball and sleep.

Today I was planning on another writing group/workshop but with a full day in Ledbury and a still rather full (possibly over-flowing) In Tray – I have given it a miss.

The thing I am missing at the moment is writing time, other than the commissions. I have read articles where poets say they struggle to write anything other than commission… I really hope that doesn’t happen to me. I will give myself some space soon and see if I get my voice back.

Review April 2017

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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!

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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!

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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!