Category Archives: Writing West Midlands

Review June 2018

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June this year was definitely a month of transition.

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

It saw my final 10 Days as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, the end of 4 years working for Writing West Midlands as a Lead/Assistant Writer for their Spark Young Writers Group in Worcester and although I am not saddened by this particular transition– I have just 3 weeks left in full time employment (which is funding my trip to Australia in the summer).

Week 1: 

I intentionally missed every poetry event this week to conserve energy for the WLF – Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe – the emotional onslaught of watching another poet taking up the mantle of Laureate and the amount of work. work I have to balance meant that there was no time or energy left to support anything else.

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I was desk busy: creating 10 Days – a sequence of films charting my final 10 Days as WPL -reflecting back over the year. These were fun to make but time consuming. Especially after uploading I would spot an incorrect frame and have to go back to the virtual cutting room floor!

Editing the final WPL Anthology Collection of Science/Maths based poems, wrapping up the Twin Town project between Voiron & Droitwich and reading submissions for the final WPL Contour (although perhaps not the final Contour).

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My WPL Twin Town project between Droitwich and Voiron went live on June 7th.

This features 9 poets from England and France exchanging poems on the town and writing responses using something in the original town poem which sparked inspiration.

The collection is bi-lingual and poetry appears in English, French & Portuguese. There is a Food Festival in Droitwich this month and I am hoping to meet Madeleine Silvestri from Voiron Twinning Association, who found the Poet Alain Graz who helped me find our French town poets.

european TT The Anthology can be read here Twin Town.

My poetry films can be found here 10 Days

 

Week 2:

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On Saturday I joined a collective of Stanza Poets in the Forest of Dean for a Heritage Poetry Project organised by Andy Hoaen. After his involvement in survey/heritage work ‘Veteran Tree History Project Speech House Survey’ he decided he wanted to create something. His vision:

I would like to see this as an opportunity for an encounter between two different ways of seeing the world, archaeology with its rigorous approach routed in scientific “objective” description of place and space, and poets with their ability to succinctly capture the essence of things and provide an imaginative subjective view on the world.

It was an interesting and fruitful day for photography and notes and now we all hope to create some tree poetry and more. There may be an exhibition or pamphlet. It was also a great day out and lovely to see some poets who are sadly missed at Stanza meetings.

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© Kathy Gee (no filters)

I wanted the Science/Maths Anthology (my final WPL Anthology) to go live before the Festival Launch and as I was (I just deleted ‘am’) the 7th Poet Laureate I scheduled the arrival for 7:07 AM!

Every Word Counts WPL

You can read the collection here.

Then it was onto the opening of Worcestershire LitFestival & Fringe.

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It was a great Launch – one of the best, although the judging panel missed the Young Writers Competition reading and the Flash Fiction winners as we were interviewing and preparing to judge the WPL competition. My fellow judges were Polly Stretton (former WLF Director), Stephen Wilson (Arts, County) & Rachel Evans (Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate).

The finalists were Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley and it was a close competition. It was a pleasure to hear them perform poetry  that we judged anonymously just a few weeks ago. Any one of them would have been a worthy winner and done Worcestershire proud. There can only be one winner though and this year it was Betti Moretti.

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Before the winner was announced I performed the poems which won me the Laureateship: Lit Up & Tasseomancy.

 

I couldn’t believe the length of appreciative applause at the end. It was a joyous moment.

 

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© Catherine Crosswell

I had previously joked (since about March when you have to start promoting the competition) that I was going to be the 1st WPL who refused to step down. It was Betti’s idea (for the record) but we had a little tug ‘o’ war over the award.

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It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would have been to congratulate the new WPL and hand it all over. Some relief even, perhaps.

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© Catherine Crosswell

Coffee and cake wouldn’t have fuelled another year at acceleration and it isn’t as if I am not busy.

It was a delight to be part of the event (although if I could, I would have got out of judging), part of the remit – I knew it was coming. Thought it was nice how we were up on the balcony rather than beside the stage as in previous years. This was possibly easier for the finalists. Although there is nothing easy about being a finalist. It is a hard, emotional competition.

A full review of the Launch and announcement of the New WPL here Launch of WLF 2018

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Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe dominated the week, the festival ran from 10th-16th June and was as fantastic as ever. I had to get used to not posting everything on https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/ but at least the waters of the fountain are well and truly active and in full spring again!

You can read write ups of the events I was involved in:

Tuesday 12th – Night at the Museum IV – a wonderful night organised by Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2016-17), Suz Winspear – featuring Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate Rachel Evans, Former YPL Chloe Clarke, Nina Lewis Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2017-18) and the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti in the first half and Suz Winspear in the 2nd half with her poems from the Archives to celebrate the end of her 2 year Residency at Royal Worcester. It was a marvellous evening.

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Wednesday 13th 42 Festival Special – A wonderful evening that saw the Antipoet back in Worcester, with their new book – C:/Users/HP/Documents/Writing Projects/Black Pear/Does My Bass/D published by Black Pear Press.

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© Donna Ray

In the second half a plethora of 42 regulars took to the stage for a themed night ‘The Bewitched Worcestershire Inn’.

Thursday 14th June SpeakEasy Special at Worcester Arts Workshop. Headlined by the amazing Dub Thieves, it was also Betti Moretti’s official WPL hand-over with her newly engraved WPL award. A superb night of performances and some who were new to SpeakEasy too.

 

Week 3:

Festival By The River – LitFest Take Over.

An exciting opportunity arose in the Spring to be part of the festival happening at the Weorgoran Pavilion on South Quay, Worcester. The events for the 10 day festival have been programmed by Cat Roberts. The Festival launched on Friday 15th

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and on the 16th Peter Sutton and I took to the stage and what a sparkly, wondrous stage it is!

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I spent a while creating a water based set and wrote some long awaited poems from our Canal trip (Poet’s Day Out) 2017. I had great fun compiling the half hour set.

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It was a brilliant end to my week.

I spent some time over the weekend planning the next couple of events and promoting ATOTC, 30-40-60, ARTSFEST and PoARTry. I also had a rare day off from poetry.

 

Week 3:

Started with an evening organising the Launch/ Reading Event for PoARTry Ledbury with Leena Batchelor. We already have 12 people interested in reading at the event. The next stage is to confirm dates and then we can get on with creating the schedule and marketing the event.

POARTry Ledbury coming soon

 

I finally managed time to create answers for the remaining four questions sent to me to market the Perth Poetry Festival and I started working on an interview for a new article. More on that news soon.

I promoted 30-40-60 which is soon to be rehearsed and performed again (July).

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I promoted the UK/USA readings for ATOTC which I am very excited by.

 

Ludlow Fringe Festival

logo ludlow fringe Dirty Laundry Launch with Deb Alma & Guest Poets.

I was one of Deb’s Guest Poets at this Launch along with Angela Topping, Roz Munro Derry, Holly Magill & Ruth Stacey. It was a fantastic evening and lovely to share a meal in The Blue Boar first and have a good catch up.

A full review can be found here.

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During the week I worked on interviews and poetry, organised my final WWM session and promoted Festival events.

I attended a Room 204 Workshop in Birmingham at Evolve (which back in the day was the Adam & Eve and venue for Sunday Xpress). Creative Writing to Promote Wellbeing workshop by Emma Marks & Sandra Griffiths of The Red Earth Collective CIC, was a half day event on Creative Writing in the Mental Health Setting.

A half day course for writers who want to develop or improve creative writing workshops for people with a lived experience of mental health problems. The workshop will be an experimental and engaging reflection on ideas and issues associated with running creative writing workshops within a mental health setting. © Red Earth

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It was an intense and useful workshop with plenty of participation. I have more ideas now than ever and a good network of support for future ventures in this direction.

Having missed 1.5 days of work to attend Festivals & training I hit the ground running and had a backlog of assessment marking which came home with me and sadly meant I missed Rob Francis at Dear Listener, the fault of my work schedule. test marking and the lack of time to reach the city. No guilt here – only frustration!

This is the weekend I missed 2 events I was supposed to attend and had a clash of two events too. This always makes me feel low. I wish I could clone myself and attend everything!

On Friday night I had hoped to make it to Birmingham Waterstones for the Verve Poetry Press Book Launch of Leon Priestnall and Nafeesa Hamid’s Debut collections.

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Sadly I missed it, you can read about it and find out more about these new collections here When You Miss Something BIG!

 

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BUY A COPY Leon Priestnall is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. © Verve Poetry Press

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BUY A COPY Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming. © Verve Poetry Press

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There was also a welcome return of Confab Cabaret in Malvern and they had Elvis McGonagall Headlining and I had a chance to get to Stratford Poetry Festival to see Tony Harrison. Of course neither of these events were possible as I was already committed to the Book Launch. Exhaustion is a hard thing to forgive.

Week 4:

On Saturday I headed to The Hive for my last Spark Young Writer group. It has been a pleasure to work for WWM for the past 4 years, 3 of those as a Lead Writer and I shall miss this part of my writing life a lot!

Spark YW

Afterwards I planned to go to Stratford Poetry Festival to The Black Box event, which was part of a schools/education project I worked on this Spring. My eldest nephew also had a very important birthday – plans for Sunday were rearranged to Saturday and I was already late as they started whilst I was still in my WWM session. I decided I couldn’t miss his momentous occasion and so instead bailed on watching the children perform at the festival. If there is one thing guaranteed to make you feel more guilty than exhaustion it is letting children down!

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Saturday also saw a 10th Birthday Summer Party for Nine Arches Press, having attended their celebrations before for a few years, I was gutted when I discovered this clashed with WWM and my nephew’s birthday party!

I knew I was never able to go – this did not stop me wanting to be there. Again, I have heard wonderful reviews. Sharing photos that have been shared on social media.

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#TenforNine: Nine Arches Press celebrates ten years of publishing

Join us to celebrate ten years of publishing with a series of birthday events on Saturday 23rd June at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Saturday 23rd June at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

© Nine Arches Press will publish new work by ten poets in 2018.

(Top: l-r Aviva Dautch, Romalyn Ante, Sarala Estruch, Robert Peake, Josephine Corcoran. Bottom: l-r Riche McCaffery, Deborah Alma, Roy McFarlane, Suzannah Evans, Isobel Dixon)

There will be something for everyone:‘The Big Read In’ is a chance for readers’ groups to hear TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poet Jacqueline Saphra (All My Mad Mothers) discussing her work, followed by an exclusive writing workshop with former Canal Laureate Jo Bell as well as the launch of Josephine Corcoran’s debut collection, What Are You After? The evening will see a ‘Birthday Mixtape’ event in the conservatoire’s jazz club, co-hosted by Nine Arches Driector and Editor Jane Commane and Rishi Dastidar (Ticker-Tape) featuring favourite readings from a range of Nine Arches Press poets. © Nine Arches Press

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9 10 cake

I missed the WLF Poetry Picnic in Cripplegate Park as I had to finish marking before I could journey to Cheltenham for Anna Saunders Book Launch. I also had an opticians appointment earlier in the week and needed to take Mr. G. into town to help me decide which frames to buy. I was walking around with 9 pairs at one point!

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Anna’s Book Launch at The Retreat Wine Bar was amazing, a pure night of celebration. Her guests were David Clarke and Jonny Fluffypunk and there was an open mic section with Ghost themed poems to start proceedings. It was packed and the open mic list read like ‘Beautiful South Lyrics’.

anna book launch

Full review COMING SOON.

The main focus this week was the PoARTry Ledbury project, my own writing and Book Launches, more family birthdays and Poetry Festivals. I attempted to keep my schedule free of evening events as this is the busiest time at work with lots of deadlines to meet by the beginning of July and in the current heatwave all I really want to do is feast on ice lollies and sleep!

 

The date was finally set for the PoARTry event, we decided it then spent a week trying to match schedules before finding an AGM clash with the date and reverting back to the original one, which sadly means Rick Sanders won’t be there.

We have had about half the collective sign up to say they are coming so it looks to be a great evening shaping up. Leena and I now have our work cut out developing a running order/ details of the evening. I am looking forward to it and getting extremely excited about seeing my artist’s work in the flesh. Molly Bythell was my extremely talented partner on this project and our collaboration has been bountiful. I am only framing 2-3 poems but have written close to 20!

Ledbury PoARTry SHARE

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On Thursday evening I made my way into Birmingham to David Calcutt’s Book Launch at Waterstones, which was in the Art Room, where I had my own Launch back in 2016. It was great to catch up with people and was a lovely evening. Full review here.

© Elaine Christie

Ledbury Poetry Festival is also underway, I am hoping to get across there at some point. I am definitely there on Tuesday 3rd July.

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All in all, an incredible month of ‘not being —— anymore’, getting used to just being again.

The End Run was just the Warm Up

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So my Poet Laureateship ended at the Launch of the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe at The Angel Centre on the 10th June. This was the space Suz Winspear held her amazing collaborative DanceFest event ‘Poetry Ballroom’ in last year, when she was Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

 

 

WLF The Launch

The Finalists this year were Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley.

Following my performance Charley Barnes introduced the winning poet…and who is the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2018/19?

Betti Moretti! Congratulations to her and all the finalists this year.

It was a great event and congratulations should go to the WLF team for pulling it off.

 

Here’s a little look back at some of my year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am delighted to have discovered new writers and assisted some others on the point of giving up. I have published over 200 poets in 7 collections and 4 magazines and completed projects with America and France.

I flew our WLF flag internationally and welcomed poets from bordering counties into the exceptionally talented scene in our Shire.

 

 

 

People keep asking what I will do next. Truth is (as those who read the blog know) I am always busy. I guess I didn’t talk about it as much as it comes across as slightly me-ego, but as many future plans involve seedlings from the Laureateship, maybe you will get to hear about my work.

I will, as always remain super busy!

My first plan is to prepare for and enjoy the 4 performances I have managed to squeeze into the LitFest. I will be performing poetry at these events: (7-10 minute Guest Spots)

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Weorgoran Pavilion Festival: Sat 16 June

And if that wasn’t enough, this year The Ring have teamed up with WLF to bring a little poetry to Worcester. I will be performing at 12 PM on Saturday 16th June.

Award-winning art, architecture and design studio NEON has created an amazing stage, especially for Worcester. It’s part of The Ring, a Canal & River Trust ‘Arts on the Waterways’ project celebrating a 21-mile circle of natural and historic waterways in Worcestershire. The Weorgoran Pavilion takes its inspiration, and its name, from the Saxon origins of the name Worcester and its translation, “the people of the winding river”. It’s the venue for a free family-friendly festival featuring a soundscape by acclaimed Ledbury born musician Dave Crowe, which plays at selected times.
Bring something to sit on, indulge in a tasty treat from local sellers and enjoy yourself!
Check our other events for the programme on each day of the festival.

 

12:00-13:00 Litfest Takeover featuring Nina Lewis & the newly crowned Worcester Laureate, Betti Moretti.

 

For more information on the programme and how to book tickets check in at my old WPL blog.

Whilst you are there… I spent the week before the festival launch making Countdown films ’10 Days’ check them out too or click here.


PoARTy

I am currently working on PoARTy – Ledbury, in collaboration with Artist Molly Bythall. We have created 3 works, stemmed from work we had already produced – it has been a joy to be part of this creative partnership. There are 16 poems which have come from it although only 3 will be on display. Watch out for more news on this project facilitated by Rick Sanders, who is also taking over my WWM role as Lead Writer with the Sparks Young Writers Group in Worcester come September. (It is all change!)

 

 

Our work will be displayed in July.

 

Heritage Poetry Project

Funnily enough I attended a workshop with Angela France recently where we looked at/wrote about trees and I thought about the potential of this project, which was mentioned at a Stanza meeting at the end of last year.

Our Stanza group spent the day before the WLF Launch in the Forest of Dean writing poetry amongst trees for a project led by Andy Hoaen who has been involved in a survey/heritage work ‘Veteran Tree History Project Speech House Survey’. His vision:

I would like to see this as an opportunity for an encounter between two different ways of seeing the world, archaeology with its rigorous approach routed in scientific “objective” description of place and space, and poets with their ability to succinctly capture the essence of things and provide an imaginative subjective view on the world.

There may well be another exhibition in the future.

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Ludlow Fringe Festival 

I will be joining some of the ‘Me Too’ Poetry Anthology Poets to perform poems at a special event on the 19th June.

I went to Deborah Alma’s Book Launch for ‘Dirty Laundry’ – Nine Arches Press at Waterstones at the end of May, for her Ludlow Launch she is having Guest Poets and a collective of ‘Me Too’ poets perform.

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Room 204 Workshop Rm-204-logo-WITH-WORDS

Writing & Mental Health, working in the Mental Health setting.

 

The Last WWM Sparks YW Group 

The 16th June is my final group as Lead Writer at The Hive in Worcester, I shall be sad to see this end but I have been working as an Assistant/Lead Writer & Mentor for WWM since 2014 and we all know when we apply that these are not renewable positions, the opportunities need to be given to other writers too.

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Stratford Poetry Festival 

I was involved in a School Poetry Project with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and on the 16th children I sent poems and poetic challenges to will be performing their work as part of the festival.

 

 

 

Book Launch 

Ghosting For Beginners Anna Saunders, published by IDP. 24th June Cheltenham

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Ledbury Poetry Festival – where I hope to manage at least 1 glorious, poetry packed day!

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Guest Poet

Delighted to welcome Charley Barnes into the V. Press family and doubly delighted to be reading at her launch. 14th July Park’s Cafe, Droitwich 7PM charley b v press

 

Organising Arts Festival Poetry Events 

Artsfest takes place 30th June – 28th July in Droitwich. I am very excited because Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself are going to be Performing 30-40-60 again, our collaborative Poetry Media Show.

17th July 7:15 (7:30 start) St. Andrew’s Church. For more information: 30-40-60

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Following on from last year I am organising the Poetry Day events again. On the 21st July 4 Poets will be performing in St. Andrew’s Square between 2-4 PM

Nina Lewis (Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate)

Roy McFarlane (Former Birmingham Poet Laureate)

John Mills

Liz Mills

 

 

In the evening there is Poetry Extravaganza in Park’s Cafe from 7PM (7:30 start) the first half will be the traditional open mic sign up and after the interval 12 Poets from the team of 24 ATOTC UK Poets will be performing from the Special Edition Contour – A Tale of Two Cities.

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For more information: http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-and-prose-readings/

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-extravaganza/

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In between these events (as like last year) I will be hot-footing across to Worcester to perform as a Guest Poet at Kieran Davis’s Book Launch of his 2nd collection ‘Legacy’, published by Black Pear Press.

Then I plan a fortnight of R & R before jetting off to be an International Guest Poet at Perth Poetry Festival, Australia.

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Writing wise the desk is heating up also. I am currently working with my next manuscript, compiling the final issue of Contour the WPL Magazine and publishing the final WPL Anthology Collection ‘Every Word Counts’ – Science/Maths poetry.

Later this year I shall start working on the WPL Anthology and later still on my first collection.

So I will be fine, I will be busy, I am a poet… one who will always remain an ambassador of words.

May Review 2018

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May was a huge month for editing and writing and marked my final full month as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, a position I have loved. Who wouldn’t want to be an ambassador for poetry? I was also juggling working full time with a full schedule.

Week 1: 

Still learning how to balance full time work with a writing career, I found a lack of energy and time were enemies to my To Do list.

My final Worcestershire Poet Laureate submission windows opened. One for Scientific/Mathematical poetry in honour of Stephen Hawking and the other for the final edition of Contour WPL Magazine, Issue 4 Celebration & End of an Era.

 

 

I spent most of the week working on A Tale Of Two Cities Special Edition Contour Magazine.

I received news of a recent submission being successful. One of my Jinney Ring Sculpture Workshop poems is to be published in Domestic Cherry Issue 6. I join many poetry friends in this issue and what is more we get to read our poems at an event in the Swindon Poetry Festival, which is great. This will be my 4th year attending Swindon Poetry Festival and it is always amazing. Last year I was booked as a V. Press poet in V. Formation, reading alongside Stephen Daniels and Gram Joels. This year I knew I was heading down after National Poetry Day (I have a booked gig), now I know I will get to read too. Wonderful.

My role as Reader in Residence for West Midlands Reader’s Network was wrapped up in an evaluation which took an incredible amount of time to write, but future funding depends on such things and I was able to use some of it in a public review for Warwickshire Libraries too. I sent reviews of Book Review Workshops and the Poetry on Demand event for the Rugby Library website.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/a-word-from-nina/

I received finalist poems for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Poet Laureate Competition. I have a fortnight to judge these poems. I am looking forward to discovering who the finalists are on the 10th June. This year the finals will be held at The Angel Centre – which is the 4th venue for the WPL finals.

Over the weekend I secured an interview with Kate Garrett on her recent charity venture ‘Bonnie’s Crew’, took some poems for a polish and prepared for the final WPL event at Hanbury Church.

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Week 2:

Started with a Bank Holiday and sunshine. I hosted the final WPL event, a reading at Hanbury Church of our Sculpture Trail poems from the Jinney Ring workshop. A full review of the event will be posted soon. To my delight this event has also lead to future work.

 

 

It seemed strange that this was it, as far as WPLaureating goes.

I had tight deadlines for copy, reviews, interviews and editing this week. Promotion has started for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival. Scott-Patrick Mitchell is responsible for a lot of the streaming online. He has sent interview questions to use as part of the Marketing & Promotion of the festival. I completed the bulk of an interview on time but had a few questions that needed a more considered response. Everything is in place for the marketing machine now though.

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I spent some time prepping Q&A for the ‘In Conversation’ event at the BMI.

I was fortunate enough to get to PTS (Permission to Speak) which featured the Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists taking over the hosting for the evening and featuring artists from The Black Country Broadsheet project. It was a great night of high energy hosted by Dave Pitt featuring: R.M Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger & Casey Bailey. I shared my NaPo poems (not all 30)! A full review can be found here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/mighty-force-poets-prattlers-pandemonialists/

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The following night I headed over to Birmingham to the BMI (Birmingham & Midland Institute) for an In Conversation & Reading of Fragile Houses. Another fabulous night in the John Lee Theatre. Read the full review here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/open-conversation-bmi/

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This was a great opportunity to reach a new audience and was booked last Winter, I had been looking forward to it for a while.

I am delighted Roy McFarlane is the Poet in Residence there and look forward to his programme of events and get more involved in Birmingham again.

I planned to spend the weekend editing, I mainly slept – being a busy poet and working full-time is not easy. I did manage a good shift on ATOTC and got the main frame of the magazine complete – overcoming lots of horrendous formatting issues. Sadly I realised I had missing Bios and so put a call out for those.

I am hoping that before the end of the month we will have the special edition ready for upload.

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Week 3:

What is a perfect way to start the week? A workshop with the exuberant Ash Dickinson of course! Having missed the opportunity to do one in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme!

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Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/ash-dickinson-workshop-licensed-to-rhyme/

It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week.

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Lorna Meehan headlines next month – so I need to get my diary free *although I think it falls during Worcestershire LitFest.

On Thursday I had intended to hit Birmingham at the Twisted Tongues event (usually held in Derby), however after a long day at work and with a weekend of events scheduled I did the sensible thing (very unlike me) and spent the night in the garden enjoying the end of the sun before having a relatively early night.

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I spent a lot of the week compiling the Special Edition Contour Magazine and chasing poets for photos.

On Friday I whizzed from work straight to The Hive in Worcester for a Book Launch. Cutting the Green Ribbon – debut poetry collection for Katy Wareham Morris, published by Hesterglock Press.

ctgr-poster-as-jpeg Katy was joined by Guest Readers Holly Magill, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – it was a superb night of poetry. Full review coming soon.

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I surprised myself on Saturday by firstly forgetting there was a Royal Wedding (I was reading poetry books and working on a submission) and secondly by writing about it. I had not planned to and I know many poets balk at this sort of sentimentality – but important events during one’s Laureateship ought to be marked and so I found myself with laptop on lap, catching up with images from the BBC whilst watching the ceremony from the point of the Bishop’s Address onward and I did manage to write something.

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https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/the-royal-wedding/

I finished the week being a Poetry Judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Launch at Parks Cafe.  Sarah celebrated the launch of her new novella Always Another Twist and latest poetry collection How to Grow Matches. It was a charity event in aid of St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester and a fantastic evening (even if I did want to run away with the prizes)! A full review will be posted soon.

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Sarah was joined by Guest Readers: Holly Magill, Jenny Hope & Liz Kershaw and the night was MCed by Charley Barnes.

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/news/award-winning-droitwich-author-to-hold-special-book-launch-at-charity-evening/

 

Week 4

The week started with a well earned day off work to fill with Poetry work. This year I was invited to be part of the Living Library event at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester. The event is organised annually by Librarian Linda Bromyard and enables several classes from Year 7 to come and meet real writers and talk to them about their work. Again, I will be writing full reviews of work from May soon and this event will certainly be given one. It was as inspiring for the adults as the students, I would have loved something like this when I was studying English.

 

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14543190.Authors_bring_school_library_alive/

The deadline for judging this year’s WPL finalist poems came around fast. I enjoyed reading this year’s entries, I am not so much enjoying sitting in judgement at the finals, but will part of a team of 5 judges and it is part of the WPL remit accepted last year. My hat goes off to poets who judge competitions with 100s of entries, it is a tough job.

I FINALLY gained access to the Arts Council portal (being trying since 27th April) only to find the decision was a no. Ironically the new system is more suited to individual bids, I used the British Council funding scheme a joint venture with the Arts Council. I rushed to get mine in before 1st March deadline and may have been better to wait for the new batch and changes in the system.

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Still, I took on the full time teaching role to pay for it and now I have the freedom to enjoy it evaluation free. The bid was to cover my travel to Australia for the Perth Festival and some workshops back in the UK after the event. At least I learnt how to apply for funding and also had the pleasure of analysing statistical data which shows my work this year has impacted on over 360 individuals.  Lots to celebrate.

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On the same day I discovered this failure I was also Headlining at Poetry Bites. It has been a while since I headlined a gig and it was a pleasure. Again full review waiting in a queue.

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I had to plan my Australian workshop and send a 200 marketing blurb this week. It is based on themes pulled from Fragile Houses and is going to be great. I am really looking forward to this experience and have scheduled time when term finishes to get prepared. The review of July will be simpler – it will just say…

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Preparing for Australia!

I have also been working on the final three WPL projects:

  • Contour Issue 4 WPL Digital Poetry Magazine
  • Twin Town European Poetry Exchange
  • Every Word Counts – Science/Maths Anthology

Contour Issue 4 the Celebration issue is still open for submissions until my final day as Laureate 10.6.18, I have been busy catching up with the Headliners of SpeakEasy for the interview section and have an article or two to add (new feature).

Twin Town 

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Most of the poets involved managed their poetry exchanges before the deadline, I stepped in and wrote a response poem and a Town poem in case the final poet didn’t manage it. We are now just waiting on a final response poem from a poet who received it over 2 weeks late, a June deadline has been negotiated and I have secured my good friend Nathalie Brooker to work on my French translations. This should be live in June, publication is planned for 10th June, the day I end my Laureateship.

Every Word Counts 

I spent time long listing poems from the 30 day submission window.

 

Extra Bit 

A much needed break from work, 9 days in my poetry skin.

DAY 1 of 9

I planned my penultimate WWM Spark Writers group – they are sad to see me go, they are not the only ones. My sensitive poet’s heart could crack with all these changes!

I spent some time organising the first of the UK ATOTC readings. A collaborative of 11 who will read call/response poems during the 2nd part of the evening as part of Artsfest 2018.

I made the final promo pushes for the last 2 WPL submissions. Had a lovely night at Waterstones celebrating the Launch of Deborah Alma’s new Nine Arches Press collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ a full blog post owed for that night too!

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I made it to 42 and the newly refurbished Drummonds for a night that was pure entertainment.

I finish the month with mild exhaustion and the hope that the few submissions I have managed to make this month will find themselves a home amongst pages. Fingers crossed.

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June

June sees the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival, the crowning of a new Poet Laureate, the finalists in the running are Sarah Leavesley, Betti Moretti & Peter Sutton. The Launch takes place on the 10th June 2:30 pm at the Angel Centre, Worcester and sadly will mark my last day as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

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Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

Other events to look forward to are: Meet the Authors, Stanza in the Forest of Dean for a Forestry/Poetry project, the rest of the WLF Programme, I am performing on Tuesday at Night at the Museum, Wednesday at 42 Special with the Anti-Poet, Thursday at SpeakEasy Festival Special and Saturday as part of The Ring Project.

I am performing as part of Ludlow Fringe Festival, have my final ever WWM Spark Young Writer Group, attending the Stratford Poetry Festival for the schools project with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, attending and performing at a few book launches and finishing the month with Ledbury Poetry Festival.

At the desk I am working on a current manuscript, prep for Perth Poetry Festival (Australia, not Scotland), Contour Issue 4 Digital poetry magazine, The Twin Town Poetry Anthology & a collection to mark the passing of Stephen Hawking featuring Science/Mathematical poetry Every Word Counts.

Plenty of work to absorb the extraction of my Laureateship! And who knows in between I may even get to write and sleep!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Week of Poeting

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I cannot believe that this week we enter JUNE! Still packing as much as I can into May. Today I am trying to submit work, chasing deadlines and later I will join lots of poets celebrating the launch of Dirty Laundry by Deborah Alma, published by Nine Arches Press. Which is somewhat ironic as I have tackled two laundry loads today! Her guest readers are: Pat Edwards, Meg Cox, Roz Goddard & Angela France so a superb night is guaranteed!  Going for a pre-Launch tea too, which will be lovely.

I am gutted to discover the Nine Arches party (celebrating 10 years in a day long programme of events) is on a date I am already booked in Worcester & Stratford. I discovered this a few weeks ago, so looking forward to seeing people tonight instead.

I also have a passport to renew, discovered they now allow digital photos to be uploaded so either today or tomorrow in front of the camera. I am getting very excited about Australia now and have booked in to some of the Fringe (Pre-Festival Launch) events too.

I am off to Worcester tomorrow for 42, on Friday I will finally make Stanza and over the weekend I am toying with the idea of spending hard earned cash on Andrew Motion at the MAC. I am undecided due to the fact that I blanked it out of the writing diary with work the following week and a ton of report writing and assessments to plough through!

I did miss Hay and cannot get to majority of Ledbury due to work, so I might treat myself.

WPL:

I am working on The Twin Town European Poetry Exchange and the Science/Maths Anthology ‘Every Word Counts’ and trying not to think about handing over the crown in two weeks time!

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Mr. G. and I spent the Bank Holiday weekend ensconced in Garden Centres where I bought myself a small rabbit (not a real one), the plan this summer is to create a writing nook and this lil’ fella will be right at home watching me and making sure I do some work!

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We also enjoyed breakfast out on Sunday and several take-aways, I caught up with family and had my penultimate WWM Spark Young Writers session, informing the group it will be my last one next month was hard and their reaction… bless them. They do not want me to go, one even suggested writing a letter! But it is the nature of the work and WWM want other people to be offered these opportunities. It has been amazing!

Today I received lovely messages of thanks from some of the students at Blessed Edwards for our Living Library event held last week. Special.

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The event was great fun, I have seen posts on Social Media for the past few years and thought about how I could get involved. So it was fabulous to be one of the Living Writers, it was the sort of thing I would have loved as a kid. Thanks to Linda Bromyard for the booking and for being one of the most creative, proactive Librarians in Education I know.

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I will write a full post soon, that list is stacking up!

Mainly I am enjoying not working this week and having time to write and breathe!

 

Celebrating being a Poet Again!

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DAY 1 of 9

The last 6 weeks has been much harder than the 15 years I spent not writing whilst I focused on my career. A career I gave up on in 2013 after an 8 year slide into depression. I have spent the past 5 years doing what I do best without having to put up with all the hoop jumping, red tape, politics and thankless 80 hour weeks! I also spent the last half a decade saying a resounding NO to any opportunity to work longer than a 2 week period.

However with an International Poetry Festival scheduled I felt the universe was delivering when I was offered a complete term. Here I am halfway through, I managed a whole month and a half back at the chalk-face full time (almost, some pre-booked poetry events allowed me a little time off for good behaviour). It has certainly been a hectic whirlwind working and freelancing simultaneously!

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Tonight I am celebrating my 9 day freedom by working on everything in the montage above and more. My poetry skin is slipped back on and I do not need to think about work (or report writing) for a while.

This Bank Holiday weekend I am spending some time offline with Mr. G. as the Bank Holiday at the beginning of May was filled with Poetry Events.

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I have a fortnight left as Worcestershire Poet Laureate and excitingly the judging process has begun to find the next one, the three finalists have been announced by themselves across social media, not sure WLF have posted the official announcements yet.

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I am planning my penultimate Spark Young Writer group for Writing West Midlands, many of us have been given the nod this year. It is not a forever job, they tell you this at the beginning. WWM like to support as many writers as they can and they feel these roles benefit from fresh Leaders and so, if you are lucky you will squeeze about 3 years out of the deal. I will be sad to lose this part of my writing life, but it has been a fantastic opportunity and left me with a bank of wonderful, creative plans and activities to incorporate into future work/workshops for Young Adults/children.

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I have a backlog of Blog posts to come reviewing Book Launches, Festival appearances and interviews.

I am working on Issue 4 of Contour, the final WPL digital magazine and reading submissions to the Science collection. There is still time to submit your work to both, just follow these links:

Contour: https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/submissions-open-contour-final-wpl-issue-4/

Science:  https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/submissions-open-tomorrow-for-the-final-wpl-poetry-collection/

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The Twin Town is going well, the European Project hosts just 4 collaborations, certainly an easier task to manage than ATOTC, with it’s mammoth 23 pairings! Several French/Anglo pairs have completed their poems and the deadline is this evening, so I am hoping to wrap it up before the end of my tenure (10th June). The French work is being translated, a truly bilingual collection.

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I am currently organising events for the Poetry Day at Artsfest 2018 and as part of the Poetry Extravaganza in the evening we will have the first UK ATOTC Collective Reading.

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UK READING

 

A few weeks ago many poets received copies of Bonnie’s Crew, a poetry anthology compiled by Kate Garrett to raise funds for Leeds General Infirmary Congenital Hearts Unit, via the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

Kate agreed to an interview a few weeks ago, I hope to start promoting it as soon as I can. It is a fabulous collection of poems.

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Here is her Just Giving Page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew

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And then I shall have an early night and be bright eyed for getting creative tomorrow.

 

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 Molly 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.

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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!

 

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 Foreword 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.

 

Copy of Spring Event Flyer Template (2)

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!

WPD 2                        Love Promo 2

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.

 

© Worcester University

 

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.

© HOWL

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. 

© SpeakEasy

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.

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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

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© Jack Nelson 

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

 

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

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© Rachel Hill

Adam Speaks – The Search for an Artist

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

A new art project at Croome

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

Many artists applied for his position, including international artists.

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© Peter Young

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Adam Speaks – Chris Alton 

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

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

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

Chris spent a day in workshops with each group.

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

© Peter Young

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

 

 

© Peter Young

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

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

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

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

RELATED LINKS: 

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

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