Ledbury Poetry Festival – 21 Years of Gold!

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Ledbury Poetry Festival (30th June – 9th July)

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I long for a year where I can book time off work to do Ledbury properly but until I get a little more change in my pockets my approach is: spend time with the Programme, highlight everything of interest, check against diary schedule, re-check total cost, rethink the parts I really wouldn’t want to miss, check schedule again and invariably decide I can only manage 1 day – find the day with the maximum bounty and go!

This year, I kept up to date with events via Social Media and managed the last day. Last days at Poetry Festivals are full of tired people with passion in their hearts, glowing as brightly as it did on Day 1 and the celebratory atmosphere is impossible to miss.

SUNDAY 9th

I set out early and for the first time used the motorway networks (discovered this is a much quicker way of getting there)! I had my programme and itinerary scribbled out. My first stop was a new venue, Muse Cafe and what a gem, strong coffee and a tasty breakfast to boot. The breakfast filled me up all day, I had taken a picnic, not that it was needed as the streets were filled with Food Markets and plenty of choice. The smell was delicious.

Coffee Morning with Malika’s Kitchen – Fantastic Beasts

Malika’s Kitchen is an influential collective of London writers who performed at the Festival on the 8th July. Fantastic Beasts was the theme of this year’s festival. This was a relaxed open mic event hosted by Jill Abram.

I was still up at 1 A.M writing a poem for this event and as I sat there in glorious sunshine listening to a string of fascinating poems I realised that I have plenty of poems to suit the theme, several Mermaid (who hasn’t), one about Udine, The Frog Prince – I could go on. Unfortunately I did not have them with me, having only packed the one freshly inked piece.

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There was a pleasant mix of poetry from an anthology Peter Raynard provided as well. I love this idea, some writers never share their poetry publicly and there are a small percentage of poetry lovers who read it and never write it. Having a dip into book enables these people to take part. Jill encouraged people to use it. I enjoyed hearing Ted Hughes and Emily Dickinson amongst others.

I have not had a chance to upload my photos yet so have borrowed Myfanwy Fox’s instead.  Myfanwy Fox © 2017

20 Minutes with Jack Thacker

Jack is a PHD student who grew up in this rural area. He won the Charles Causeley Prize 2016 (the year after Jo Bell) and completed an incredible set in the Master’s House. I thoroughly enjoyed his reading and his teaching. The link between plough – to plough and verse.

Themetaphor is of plowing, of “turning” from one line to another ( vertere “to turn”) as a plowman does. Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

 

jack thacker Uof Bristol

University of Bristol © 2017

I then had a break – but Ledbury is a festival of poets and by the time I had walked a few metres I bumped into 7 people I knew. I also got to watch some of the events on the High Street – marking the 400th anniversary of the Market House and 21 years of Ledbury.

I got to see Samba Galez you could hear them from the Malika’s Kitchen event!

Before the next event I bumped into Antony & Jo Owen, which meant that I had company at The Master’s House for

20 minutes with Ellie Daghlian, Mel Pettitt, Catherine Choate.

Impressive undergraduate poetry from Bristol University Poetry Centre. It is always refreshing to hear from young voices with old heads and Mel Pettitte’s performance was particularly enthralling.

I then spent some time timing my walk between venues as I had a 10 minute gap between events later on. I caught some of Nick Lovell’s set in the High Street – Ledbury Slam Champion and caught up with Catherine Crosswell.

 

Book Art 17

Before heading off to the exhibitions at Weaver’s Gallery. I was particularly interested in Book Art 17 and hope that Helen Ivory managed to glimpse this when her and Martin made it to Ledbury on Friday. I wish I could have spent more time there immersing myself in this stunning work.

book-05_edited© JohnRose 2016

https://johnnyr66.wordpress.com/exhibitions/

Ledbury used the following image in the festival programme.

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City of Eyes collage © JohnRose 2017

Found images, acrylic background, glue

View more artwork here

I also popped into ‘Fantasy’ the textile art exhibition upstairs in the Gallery. There were some striking pieces adorning the walls and as someone who struggles to sew a hemline, I am in awe of the craftsmanship involved in such endeavours.

 

Market Theatre

It was a particularly hot day in Ledbury and by the time I reached the Market Theatre I looked as if I could make use of a shower for sure!

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Jill Abram has been successfully running Stablemates in London for some time and one day I WILL get there to see it! But when I discovered they were coming to Ledbury this was a factor in making the decision on Sunday being the best day.

It has been great reading all of Jill’s updates from Ledbury and she has certainly been busy!

I bumped into poets in the Foyer, so another event I wasn’t on my own for.

Stablemates Poetry Salon Peepal Tree Press with Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha and Seni Seneviratne.

An incredible hour of poetry from new to me poets.

Roger Robinson, a dub-poet and founder of Malika’s Kitchen. His poetry empowers common man and he tackles extremely real subject matter. I enjoyed his set and the new work he is currently involved with.

Seni Seneviratne performed in the morning at Muse Cafe. Her work is carefully considered and doesn’t step gently around delicate issues of race and identity but rather spears straight into the heart of the matter.

© 2017 Seni Seneviratne. All Rights Reserved.

Nick Makoha is the Director of the Youth Poetry Network. Again a poet tackling hard subjects and inviting us to make better in the world.

It was insightful to have the Q&A with Jill and each poet before they performed. Love the format!

I thoroughly enjoyed my initiation to Stablemates but unfortunately the timings ran over (due to the heat of the venue) and I couldn’t make it to the main event I had planned to attend. I had no idea what the time was. It had already started before Stablemates finished & by the time I made it between venues, was halfway through!

20 Minutes with Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris

The launch of Inheritance the new collaborative pamphlet from Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris – Mother Milk Books. One of the main reasons I had chosen this day to go to Ledbury.

I attempted to listen from the window, (which those of you who know my navigational skills/ lack there of… can now amuse yourselves by imagining me clambering around the outside of the Master’s House trying to find the right window)! There was too much ambient noise. Next, (like Goldilocks), I tried the door, which was too thick to hear through, the wall was a little better.

I understand the policy not to let late comers enter, it is disruptive for the readers who perform right next to the door. But in the previous 20 Minutes with… events I went to people attempted to creep in (with the big old door and straight across a poem), I was upset that I couldn’t do the same. Especially as I had been to a previous event and that was the reason I wasn’t seated in time.

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I managed to get in at the end of the set and buy a copy of the book. Apologise and attempt to explain. I was saddened by this part of my day. I hope to catch other readings, I know they appear at Waterstones later this year and I have an idea in the melting pot too.

Fortunately Suz Winspear (former Worcestershire Poet Laureate) was performing on the High Street with DanceFest and once I realised there was no getting into the Launch I went and caught a moment or two amongst the crowds outside. My own fault perhaps for trying to be everywhere all at once!

I practically ran back to the Market Theatre for my final show of the day, which I not only made in time, but found the Stablemates were still in the foyer – so I got to chat to them briefly and tell them how touched I was by their performances and ideas.

Versopolis: A Celebration of Emerging European Poets

I had heard of this amazing project, 2 years ago, in the first year it ran. The project i a platform that unites 13 International festivals.

http://www.versopolis.com/about-us

I enjoy listening to translated poetry and poems written/read in a different language. This was an enjoyable show in which sometimes the poetry was translated, at other times it was read in the poet’s mother tongue or in English by the poet.

A warm eclectic range of voices and subjects and wonderful to watch Helen Mort in action and discover the writing of Nikolina Andova and Charlotte Van den Broeck, who blew the audience away with the poem about her and her mother. It was good to meet her afterwards – she seemed so unaware of what had happened the other side of the stage. I also got to hear more from Kayo Chingonyi, who I met at Verve Festival in February.

The whole show was amazing and I willed it not to finish. I could have happily sat through another round of words from this group. The poets were Tiziano Fratus (Italy), Charlotte Van den Broeck (Belgium), Nikolina Andova (Macedonia), Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), Yekta (France) and the UK counterparts, Kayo Chingonyi and Helen Mort.

VERSOPOLIS POETS

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/interview-versopolis-poet-helen-mort/

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/interview-versopolis-poet-nikolina-andova-macedonia/

I wanted to stay for Enemies but at this time was still working against poetry deadlines and other writing tasks, which I knew I had to face once home and I was booked for work on Monday. So I missed this show and just read the fabulous reviews. I have since managed to find many of the performances on You Tube. So not all was lost.

It was late by the time I made it home and my writing work kept me at my desk until 1 A.M – which was only possible on post-Ledbury adrenaline!

Until next year!

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RELATED LINKS

Many Podcasts available http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/series/festival-2017/

and films to watch http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/festival-films/

Words of Encouragement

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Copy of Summer Children Kids event ccourse Poster Flyer Template (2)

Nominate a Young Poet for a Keep Writing Award

Poet Laureate

THE STORY BEHIND THE IDEA

Many of us wrote when we were children, the wonder and ambition born from praise and acknowledgement is something we should never underestimate. 

I still remember those pinnacle English Teachers, Editors and Publishers who gave me the first taste of the writing world. 

marguerite-2336291_1920One of my nephews has just reached that grand age where he leaves the first school where he has been nurtured and praised his whole school life to embark on the next journey (a slightly longer walk), to the new school in September. 

Cutting the long story short – he wrote an amazing poem for his Leaver’s Assembly and was asked to read it (which I know, having taught for 18 years – is code for WE LOVE IT)! I loved it too and not just because I am his Auntie. 

From what I did next… came my next WPL idea. 

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THE…

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Updates: WPL, Artsfest and more!

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Poet Laureate Update: 

I am currently working on several projects.

  • Planning stages are underway for a writing workshop which will take place late August/early September involving Sculpture.
  • I am writing a bid to go to committee across the Atlantic for a Twin Town (City) project.
  • I have just opened a call for submissions of Poetry and Art for a digital magazine ‘Contour’. The first issue will include poems and art inspired by Place, that place being Worcestershire as well as some special interviews. Submission Guidelines
  • I have booked workshops in schools and am writing my first official WPL blog.
  • I have secured a Halloween Writing Event for children later in the year.
  • I am also taking headline and festival bookings as WPL.

me wpl

 

ARTSFEST: 

Droitwich Artsfest is underway, the official launch was Saturday 15th – I missed it because I had our college reunion. I have been working on this with the committee since late February.

I am gearing up for next weekend 22nd July which is a full on poetry day.

There will be poetry in St. Andrew’s Square from 11 AM. I am joined by Val Harrison, oakley (Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate) and Antony Owen, we will be performing until 3 PM followed by a local writing group from Redditch Pens & Needles, who will be performing until 4 PM.

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-and-literature-day/

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In the middle of this I am hot-footing over to Worcester to perform at Watch Out Worcester DanceFest, organised by the former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear.

http://www.dancefest.co.uk/watch-out-worcester

In the evening there is Poetry Extravaganza, a FREE event at Park’s Cafe, from 7 PM – for a 7:30 PM start. There will be 13 poets/writers performing.

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

RELATED LINK:

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/news/droitwich-artsfest-to-get-under-way-tomorrow/

 

Artist in Residence

I will be the Artist in Residence at Droitwich Library on Friday 28th July from 10 AM – 12.

I have a whole range of poetry activities for all ages, or you can just stop by and chat.

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Performances

22nd July Poetry in St. Andrew’s Square, Artfest, Droitwich

22nd July Watch Out Worcester DanceFest

22nd July Poetry Extravaganza, Parks Cafe, Artfest, Droitwich

12th August LakeFest, Ledbury

12th August Picaroon & Prole Present Poetry on the Pier, Llandudno

23rd August Ben Parker’s Event Huntington Hall, Worcester

25th August Voices from the Shadows, Artefacts, Birmingham

Copy of TRIVIA (5)

 

Submissions

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Source: Submissions

Copy of TRIVIA (5)

 

Poetry and Artwork on Worcestershire wanted for Contour – The Poet Laureate E-Zine.

Full submission guidelines in link.

PLEASE SHARE.

Artist in Residence

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This summer I have the opportunity, thanks to DAN (Droitwich Arts Network) to be one of the Artists in Residence at the Droitwich Library during the ArtsFest (15th July – 5th August).

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This is the same festival I have been busy co-ordinating Poetry Events for since February. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/artsfest/

I am thoroughly looking forward to the opportunity to be an Artist in Residence, which will double as ‘Meet Worcestershire Poet Laureate’. I have lots of activities planned to engage library users of all ages and plan to sit and write if there are any quiet times, with the hope of lots of interruptions and interaction!

28th July 10 a.m. – Midday

FREE

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

DROITWICH LIBRARY, WR9 8DQ

Nina Lewis

 

 

 

ARTSFEST

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15th July – 5th August

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I have been performing at this annual event since 2014, it was a pleasure to have key involvement this year. I have been planning the poetry events since the end of February and now cannot believe they are now days away.

 

For the FULL programme please click here.

save arts DAN

22nd JULY St Andrew’s Square (main pedestrianised town centre area) map

I will be performing poetry alongside Val Harrison, oakley Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire and Antony Owen.

Between 11- 3 PM

FREE EVENT

http://droitwichartsfest.org/event/poetry-and-literature-day/

We are followed by Pens and Needles, a local writing group from Redditch. This event has been organised by Carla Kovach

From 3 PM FREE EVENT

 

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In the evening there is an event at Park’s Cafe from 7PM

Poetry Extravaganza

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

FREE EVENT

13 Poets and Writers will be performing.

Food & Bar available. Not free.

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Ledbury Poetry Festival

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Many of us will have missed the great programme this year – but look… the wonderful team behind the festival have launched Podcasts from specific events. There is a wide range to choose from – or listen to them all, treat yourself.

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/series/festival-2017/

I am finally making it across to the Festival tomorrow and very much looking forward to an action packed day!

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

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

Buildings Talk

 

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

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

I missed Stanza as my body hit sleep mode!

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

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

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© Peter Young 2017

Worcester News

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

 

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

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

http://www.chrisalton.com/

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

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© Peter Young 2017

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

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https://eveshamfestivalofwords.org/programme/

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBC Hereford & Worcester

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Worcestershire Poet Laureate – first Radio Slot as WPL

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/

Tune in to Tammy Gooding’s show tomorrow from 1 PM.

LISTEN LIVE http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_hereford_worcester