January in Review

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typewriter-1227357_1280 2017 started well with lots of diary dates, events and writing time. Of course it was also back to work after a fortnight (unpaid) break. Much needed. I made it back to Ludlow to support Claire Walker who was one of the Headline poets alongside Matt Black. A little like not realising two years had passed since I last watched Ash Dickinson perform, I cannot believe a year has passed since I last went to the Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room! This time warp has to do with working for 18 months on Fragile Houses I think. Months slip by fast and the first thing that has to go when you shackle yourself to the desk to write is faraway events.

Week 1:

Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin in Ludlow, it was lovely to see everybody again and I hope to make it back before 2018. Matt Black (who I first years ago at a special event we both performed at The Ort in Birmingham  (2014), more recently we shared the floor in Birmingham at Stirchley Speaks (my Headline, back in October). headline-stirchley-speaks-oct

He was entertaining and as we had all had a conversation about vegetarianism on the journey over, apt poems in his set made us giggle.

Claire Walker was amazing, I do not think I will ever tire of hearing her perform from The Girl Who Grew into a Crocodile. She also treated us to some new poems from her next pamphlet collection.sitting room

I completed a lot of research for current writing projects and groups. I also completed a collaborative project set up in December and worked hard on submitting poetry. I had fun writing about Leonard Cohen and am keeping my fingers crossed that the editors will enjoy the results.

I missed Buzzwords in Cheltenham.

Week 2:

In December I submitted to 7 places and the rejections rolled in from 3 of them this week. We all learn to handle this but one publication in particular was dealing with a subject close to my heart and it made me a little glum that they hadn’t taken my work. They did send feedback including details of the process that the poem they nearly took went through. I will not be perturbed. Another rejection cited that the pieces weren’t best fit this time but encouraged resubmission.

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Back in 2015 I had three poems accepted for an anthology by Shabda Press on Nuclear Impact. We all signed contracts in 2016 and it has been a real labour of love for Teresa Mei Chuc who has now got the project to final proof stages. All proof read and returned and I cannot wait to see the result. The readings are all taking place in the States but I am currently looking at the logistics of video performance.

The cover has been revealed featuring the Artwork of John Sokol. Cover Art: “On the Road to Perilous” nuclear-impact-front-cover-final-cover-art-on-the-road-to-perilous-by-john-sokol I could write more poems just from a glance. This book will hopefully be in our hands later this year.

I went to SpeakEasy – where Brenda Read-Brown was headlining and what a set she treated us to. New work, powerful work, emotive (I nearly cried twice), honest and filled with passion. I was really glad that I was able to make it and witness such a performance.

I shared some new poems and gave Fragile Houses a rest, most of Worcester have bought it already and as I headlined last month and read most of it and as the last poem in there was written in 2015, I fancied sharing something newer.

I went to Stanza although I was so tired I was not much use to others and the poem I had written half an hour before leaving didn’t quite work. I do not see the point of taking perfectly polished work to groups – unless perhaps it’s a poem that has been unsuccessfully submitted a few times, in which case new eyes are good. However, I need to give my writing a chance to sit and simmer for a bit so perhaps I should try this year to get a poem ready the week before. Give it some breathing space. It is hard when you feel so attached to something, too vulnerable.

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Sadly at the weekend I said goodbye to Sally Grainger who has been my Assistant Writer for WWM Spark Writers group for the past 9 months. We had a full house for her final session and ran a great group on Scriptwriting. It was fun. I am sad to see her go.

I received exciting news about a new Literature Festival which I am currently organising a showcase/event for.

Week 3:

I spent my time mainly at work, in spare hours I was organising the festival event, missing deadlines, proof reading and writing comic poetry.

Last year I was invited to take part in a one off (now to be repeated as it was so successful) Baldy Poems presents Kings and Queens of Comedy in association with WLF (Worcester LitFest). I love the idea that WLF are fundraising via event charge at one off events throughout the year to help fund/pay for the summer festival. It is a great idea and I have loved the events that have popped up so far.

I was honoured to be one of the 6 performers (we had 8 on the night with Kieran Davis and a Special Surprise Guest joining us). I have only written about 5 funny poems and the two I had ready for this event have not seen the light of day since 2015, so I decided to emulate BaldyPoems style and kick out 6 new ones. That and I needed the material to cover a 10 minute set. More on this later.

I missed David Calcutt at Smokey Joes in Cheltenham – Poetry Refreshed and sadly I missed Clive Osman’s Waterstones book launch for his debut collection ‘Happy’. Both nights looked to be good. I had taken on extra work and with a gig Thursday night and Friday needed to sleep.

After almost 2 weeks of working full-time, I finally finished on Thursday at 5:30 and then headed over to Birmingham with Mr G and a friend, in birthday celebration mode. We went to see THE BLUE AEROPLANES at the Hare and Hounds (where UB40 played their first gig) and it was exceptional. I am so glad that I was filled with the charm of performance because it set me up for the following evening for Kings and Queens of Comedy.

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I was so nervous – worried that the audience wouldn’t find the dusted off material funny, But I forgot the universal appeal of my moustache poem, the magic of proto-type props and the delight of people who have never heard this one before. It was also funny because people who know me know that I am funny, I just do things that amuse people as I have no logical bone in my body and I have a quick, dry, wordy wit… in fact there was a turning point once upon a time between poet and comedian. The world breathes a sigh of relief.

Anyway because a lot of people now on the scene weren’t back in 2014 when I played the clown a little more, they didn’t see me as a funny poet and were quite shocked at the billing. There are now at least two people who will never take me seriously again!

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To read a full review of the evening click here

And then I had a well deserved weekend off to catch up with Mr G and writing.

Week 4:

Saw happy news and my first acceptance of 2017. That collaborative project I mentioned earlier was with Claire Walker. The result was a meeting about prompts, shared ideas, word lists and after writing editing together. After a few weeks we had a poem written by each of us from working with the other and a joint poem written line by line. The acceptance was a the poem Claire Walker wrote called ‘The Puzzle of an Ending’, a beautiful title and a hard hitting poem. It was the strongest of the collaboration.

It delights me that it exists because of an opportunity I found and a risk I took (asking another poet to partner me and risk rejection, that lack of self-belief/inner critic we all have to deal with). Fortunately, Claire was only too happy and we enjoyed this rather intense poetry pocket in our otherwise Christmassy/family orientated holidays. There will be more to come. And I am doing something here I first dreamed of in 2014. Happy.

I spent the night, along with many poetry friends at the Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham for Jacqui Rowe’s ‘Poetry Bites’. The featured poets were David Calcutt & Claire Walker (fellow V. Press poets) and Jacqui announced (which most of us already knew) that they are going to publish her first collection this year too. Her ‘Ransom Notes’ was the first pamphlet of the run in 2015 from the round I applied successfully for in 2014.

ransom Poetry Bites was a packed out night, it is so sad that this is Jacqui’s final year, but it is a phenomenal achievement to have hosted and supported such an abundant amount of poets over the years. The atmosphere was great and there were some top class floor spots as well as a V. Press collective, Kathy Gee was also reading from her collection Book of Bones.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Brumside poets I had not seen in a while, as well as listening to some inspiring and thought provoking sets.

Maybe it was the double dose of Americano coffee, or the Kitchen Garden cake… I came away buzzing and refuelled with an extra layer of poet-y energy!

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I wrote new poems for Burn’s Night, which was celebrated at 42, in Worcester on the 25th. I even made a badge – Lewis tartan, of course. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about this 18th Century rascal. It was a great night, intimate and full of heart – but not lungs or liver (haggis pun)!

I missed a workshop with Ash Dickinson, that had I not been performing in the Quiet Compere/ Wolverhampton Literature Festival the following night, I may have tried to get to. It was just a little out of range geographically and no way I could have got myself there on time after work without the help of a helicopter and pilot… neither of which I have. Oh, to be a rich girl! So I just have to brush away the disappointment and hope for another opportunity in the future.

This brings us to the finale of the poeting week – the first literature festival to be held in Wolverhampton and a great line up of events across all genres. I was lucky enough to be one of the ten poets on the bill for Sarah Dixon’s Quiet Compere Event at the Art Gallery on Friday evening.

What an evening it was. Fabulous line-up, including two poets who are new to me (always a pleasure), Tom McColl & Gerry Potter. What a venue, the room was majestic and had one of the best backdrops to poetry I have ever seen. The setting was incredible. It was a wonderful night and I was still buzzing the next day. You can read the full review of the event and find out more about the performers here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/quiet-compere-wolverhampton-literature-festival/

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I got home to find emails about up and coming books and spent a while chatting to the other buzzing poets online. A fine night.

walsall-arboretum I finished my weekend at Open Poetry at Walsall Arboretum with David Calcutt and an amazing number of poets on Sunday. Despite the horrible rain, bad driving conditions and leaving a ton of work on the To Do List, I headed out for some poeting fun.

It was a great couple of hours, lots of moving and humorous work was shared. I met some new poets and saw John Mills, who had battled the unnavigable roads of Walsall to experience David’s event for the first time. walsall-arb © 2016 Walsall Arboretum

Then I spent a horrendous amount of time sorting out unread and unmanaged emails instead of completing applications which I now need to do tomorrow after work. There are lots of deadlines in the next 72 hours and I plan to hit them all.

Wolverhampton Literature Festival finished with a Poetry Slam that Nick Lovell won and Willis – a.k.a Rick Sanders came 2nd and Rob Francis, 3rd. Well done, boys! An all male sweep. I was sad not to be able to go to the festival this year. Other plans had already been made. Hopefully they will do another one next year.

The Extra Few (Writing) Days

Mainly spent Monday night at the computer pulling a 6 hour shift (after a day at work), writing new material, researching, organising events, writing applications and submitting. There are so many end of month submissions and I have been busy enjoying myself and thinking the end of the month was a while away yet and here we are. I am pleased that I have managed a few more submissions as I have not been keeping the resolution of weekly output, as advised by another poet.

Obviously there is a certain amount of selectivity both in terms of material, feel, attitude, time etc. My aim is for monthly submissions, which should be entirely achievable – as the months missed last year were to do with the final editing process of the pamphlet.

I will spend the final day of the month (in the evening, after work) getting productive with my next To Do List and making final submissions too.

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There are so many exciting things planned for February already, I can hardly believe we have reached the end of January!

I hope you had a good one, filled with spirit and joy …. oh and writing!

 

The Quiet Compere – Wolverhampton Literature Festival

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I am excited whenever new festivals pop up, especially when they are not too far from home. Due to busy plans and the Verve Festival in a few weeks, I am not able to go to all the events I would like to this weekend. If I had a magic wand and teleporting superpowers I would also go to:wolves-lit AFTERNOON TEA – WITH WIN SAHA & BERT FLITCROFT, ARUN KAPUR + ABDA KHAN + ROMALYN ANTE + SABBI KAUR & MARTIN SHONE, BLACK COUNTRY VOICES – Dave Reeves & The Nailmakers’ Daughters, BONES PRESENTS……. A LIL SOMETHING DIFFERENT, ROY MCFARLANE and THE LIFE & TIMES OF THE TAT MAN by DAVID CALCUTT and possibly more.

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Tonight was brilliant, it was great to be part of an event on the opening day of the festival (27-29th). The Quiet Compere – conceived and hosted by Sarah Dixon.

THE QUIET COMPERE

with Sarah L Dixon, Leanne Bridgewater, Jess May Davies, Kathy Gee, Nina Lewis, Holly Magill, Tom McColl, Gerry Potter, Steve Pottinger, Polly Stretton & Heather Wastie

It was such an enjoyable night. The room in the gallery was very impressive. I really want to go back to the Gallery to just take a look at all the work on display. We had to walk through the Art and Writing space, I took a quick look at the exhibition during the interval.

It was great that an audience showed up and there weren’t too many empty chairs. During the first half the mics were set up quite a distance from the audience, this was changed by request during the interval. I just presumed cable length shackled us to the back of the room. It has to be the best backdrop ever though!

It was such a fantastic night and lovely to hear comments about my set, which went down well… despite last minute nerves of ‘I have chosen all the wrong poems!’. The 10 minutes flew by and I really enjoyed performing. I was very nervous before, but think I covered those nerves well once I had the mic in front of me.

I really appreciate having the opportunity to perform in the Quiet Compere again, we did one in Worcester in 2015. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/quiet-compere-tour-2015-stop-6-worcester/


All photography © 2017 Sarah Dixon

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Sarah Dixon, Poet, Quiet Compere, Amazing Lady! I had the privilege of reading the workings of her new pamphlet that she shared poems from this evening. It was the first time I had heard her read them though, always adds to the power.

qc-polly-robinson Polly Stretton kicked off the evening (Sarah always goes first, knowing how we all hate that opening slot) the first of ten poets – sharing fairy poetry (she has many) and once again I had the inside track on part of her set as she tested it out at 42 this week. She opened her set with a poem about Evelyn Glennie and a tambourine. Fine set.

Next came Holly Magill. qc-holly-m I love Holly’s poems (and wardrobe). It was a great set and good to hear the audience reaction from those who had not heard her before and didn’t know what to expect. As always the serious mixed with a good measure of fun.

Then it was my turn Nina Lewis.qc

I thought long and hard about which poems to read. For a week I carried my notebook and pamphlet in my work bag. I had such a shocking week at work that both stayed in my bag as I didn’t have a moment to ponder through them.

Then I had my Burns set to be ready for the 25th. Fortunately I chiselled out some time on Friday to get myself ready. We were performing in the Art Gallery so I wanted to use some of my artefact/art inspired poetry. There was also a table filled with goodies (all of our books and wares) so performing from Fragile Houses also seemed like a good idea.

I shared the runner up poem from Worcester Porcelain Museum Competition ‘The Unfading Cornflower’, then my poem for Marina Abramovic ‘Unfolding’, then one of the Arthur Rackham inspired poems ‘Buckled Air’ before moving onto the pamphlet and ‘Fabricious Avenue’ (my only 52 poem on colour), Fortori and Your Gift to finish the set with a poem about my parents.

qc-leanne-bridgewater Next came Leanne Bridgewater who threw fruit into the mix (literally)! I was looking forward to watching Leanne’s set as it has been a long while since I have seen her performing her own work. She educated us all about Veganuary. Veganuary aims to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January. She handed out fruit in support of this gesture. Then she read from her book, Confessions of a Cyclist, which has such playful content inside.

To complete the five in the first half was Tom McColl.

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Tom stepped in to fill Bobby Parker’s spot. Tom is based in London and was one of the new to me poets. A good mix of serious and amusing. I really enjoyed the humorous material included in his set.

During the interval I was able to catch up with people and whizz around the gallery downstairs. I was really looking forward to the second half.

Which after more from Sarah was started by Heather Wastie.

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Now, I have always loved watching Heather, for the past year she has been busy working on Idle Women and also let Mouth & Music go after facilitating the Open Mic night for many years, so with the exception of a performance here and there it has been ages since I have had the pleasure of watching her on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the set and so did everyone else.

Then Gerry Potter, who was the other new to me poet.

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Gerry is from Liverpool originally and is a lively spoken word performer. His material took me back to my birthday trip to Liverpool last summer and I started scribbling all sorts of things in my notebook, whilst watching his set (I can write without looking at the page) and my brain can just about listen and write if I don’t focus on the writing. I have not re-read these notes but if they become poems ever, they were inspired by Gerry’s set which encapsulated life, childhood and the city.

Jess Davies followed.

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Like Heather, Jess is another poet who hosted an open mic event, so although I saw a lot of her last year I had not heard her poems for a long while. I was delighted to hear new poetry and witness a brilliant performance. I really enjoyed her set.

Kathy Gee was next.

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She treated us to poems from her Book of Bones and some from The Suite for the Fallen Soldier, a choral project Phil Mountford was commissioned to create. Kathy wrote the narrative suite. I love Kathy’s poetry too, thought provoking and highly crafted. Words you muse over long after the final line. She bravely risked a newer, political poem too. It was a great set.

The Suite for the Fallen Soldier

http://suiteforthefallensoldier.com/

And finally to complete the great night of poetry we heard from Steve Pottinger.

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Again I have seen Steve perform recently but it has been a long while since I saw him headline at Mouth & Music. It is always great to hear a longer set from performers like Steve. Like listening to a whole album rather than enjoying a few tracks. I thoroughly enjoyed the set and he did a grand job closing the night. Like Kathy, he bravely performed a very freshly penned poem too, less than a day old.

It was a fantastic evening, I am still buzzing from the atmosphere now. It was great to meet new people and see old friends and to experience the incredible Wolverhampton Art Gallery. exterior_wolverhampton-art-gallery1536ls

© 2016 Artfund.org Artfund

Also incredibly grateful to have shared the journey with Kathy Gee, who saved me from facing the prospect of driving to the city. We spent the first part of the evening enjoying the wonderful interior of the Posada. An incredible Real Ale pub steps away from the gallery. Well worth a visit the_posada_wolverhampton_4327682633 © 2010 Wikimedia Commons

wolverhampton-posada-publicbar1 especially if you like Heritage pubs or real ale!

Congratulations Sarah Dixon on another fine QC Event, I hope you enjoy the rest of the festival and all the city has to offer.

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/the-quiet-compere/4593202795

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

On Writing – Memoir

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WWM I have worked for Writing West Midlands since 2014 and (as with all things in life), changes have been embraced. This year a decision was made to make all groups 2 hour sessions (mine always were). We are still more creative than academic curriculum education, although there has been a realisation of fair access. So for the first time, all groups are following a theme of genres. We can still approach them in any order and we are all still planning and sharing ideas for our groups, every group is unique in that sense.

Next month my group are tackling memoir and I thought it would arouse a quiet murmur of excitement (I think maybe it is just adults that enjoy writing about themselves). Instead it got a less-than-responsive response.

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I dug deeper and found out this is the current topic for many of them at school. So I  finished with the promise that it will be greater than Literacy (and as a Literacy specialist, am confident delivering on this)!

I have already pulled hours of research to lift this session out of the greyness and I think they will all enjoy it.

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Every writer knows the richness of recycling, so here in this post I am sharing the bits that I won’t be using or showing the group. No need for ADULT WARNING. < That may have been one!


In this video Mary Karr talks about her first book launch (where only 3 people turned up… not sure how true this is), but if you ever feel a pang at a small turn out – think of this audience.

She discusses Memoir (‘knocking yourself out with your own fist’), how we connect to readers, tattoos, spirituality, therapy, writing prompts, the difficulties of feelings and memories, things that people don’t talk about, Helen Keller, Maya Angelou, the beginning of compassion, developing a voice – ‘lowering your voice into the head of the reader’, delusions, looking for evidence and truth.

It is just over half an hour and I think you should treat yourself to watching it. In listening to Mary, I jotted memories of my own that I wouldn’t otherwise have remembered. Yes, I wrote them into my notebook for future fodder. ‘Hard seeds of memories, growing into vines.’



Beginning in 1995 with ‘The Liars’ Club,’ Mary Karr’s three critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs are credited with sparking the genre’s current renaissance. She has also taught writing for thirty years and in her latest book, ‘The Art of Memoir,’ now available in paperback, she synthesizes her fields of expertise in a funny, heartfelt and uniquely insightful guide to the mechanics of personal narrative. In Strand’s Rare Book Room, the award-winning author and professor shares the secrets of her craft.

Accessing Classical Poetry

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This morning (as per my To Do List) I have been researching Robert Burns for a series of poems I am currently writing for Burns Night (25th January).

I came across a now archived (no longer updated) BBC resource that I think is a really accessible way into 18th Century poetry. Language has evolved a lot in the past 300 years and sometimes just listening to it first can help you read it better.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/robertburns/works/themes/humour/

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Writing & Productivity

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I have noticed that some of the most read posts on AWF are those that help others. Advice, encouragement and motivation are all things writers seek. I am a trained Life Coach and a Writer, so I’m in a pretty good position to help.

As it is January and we are all thinking about new beginnings, let’s crack on and see what we can do for you.

This is the first in a new series of posts about WRITING & PRODUCTIVITY.

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Invest some time in this, I promise it will be worth it!


The Plan – Getting the most out of your To DO Lists

  1. First, look at your lifestyle and needs. Many of us have family, jobs and a plethora of chores and tasks that stand in the way of our writing time. If you are living as I do with lots of fingers in lots of pies the writing chances will change daily. The ideal may be that you manage a dedicated writing day, or you may still only have evenings free.

It has taken me 4 years, but I now have a 3 day working week (sometimes more) and 4 days, 2 of which can usually be used for writing. The other learning curves are the time submissions take, even when the writing is ready and the amount of time admin and background tasks (necessary) take. This needs to be factored in.

My most productive advice is:

a) use the days your brain won’t play to get ahead on all these tasks.

b) Try your best to stay on top of everything. I write a daily list. Doing a little often is far easier than sifting through mountains of paperwork and entries trying to find the information afterwards.

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2. Accept that what you can do is all you can do, we may dream of having more time, but work with what you have and try to avoid the wishing, pondering time can be important but not when it involves trying to obtain the impossible.

3. Once you have established when you have time to write think about how you feel. Most of us are aware than our energy levels change throughout the course of the day but we forget that we have can use this to our advantage. Bear this in mind when you look at your list, (I missed a step) – make a list. All the writing tasks that need to be completed today.

So now you have a list of today’s tasks. Most people treat a list like a gauntlet and just battle through it, this method is fine if it is a list of chores or something. This is your passion, you are writing because you are or want to be a writer, productivity shouldn’t hurt.

Step back, think about which are the most important tasks and number them. Next tap into your energy and tackle the biggest or most challenging tasks when your energy is high. Anything with a deadline needs to be prioritised.

I am better first thing in the morning, tea-time and late at night. So I would tackle the hardest or longest tasks before 11am or around 6pm or after 9pm.

Now re-order those numbers to fit around you and your energy levels.

4. Forgive yourself if you do not complete the list. Especially if other factors have prevented it – family crisis etc. Do try to carve time for your writing and let others know it is your time.

I turn the mobile phone to silent and check it when I take a break in case of some emergency, likewise there are people who do not answer the door, or leave the house to write elsewhere, making themselves unavailable.

Here it is visually.

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I then just rewrite a quick scribbled order underneath so I can just follow a simple list down the page. I have written this example for an ‘evening of writing’. It may look fairly unrealistic and I would advise that you start with a shorter task list, maybe 4 or 5 items.

Just to clarify ‘check emails’ doesn’t mean the 500 unread ones or forwards of cats being funny, it refers to specifically targeted emails that I need to keep an eye on and may only take a minute if no further response is necessary.

It is just an example to show this method. We all know blog posts take an incredible amount of time to write. But here’s the secret… it is Sunday evening and I am scheduling this post for tomorrow (here you are reading it on Monday). Monday is a much busier for traffic on the blog AND if I don’t get it finished there are more hours tomorrow. Point 4 is important. FORGIVE YOURSELF.

Good writing targets are all about false deadlines and safety nets.

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BaldyPoems Presents the Kings & Queens of Comedy

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An extra special event created by Kieran Davis, A.K.A Baldy in association with Worcester Lit Fest happened Friday 20th January at St Swithun’s. It was a magical night of fun, I have not laughed so much at poetry EVER! My face hurt, there was not one act that didn’t raise a smile and often snorts, groans and full on belly laughter.

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It was a brilliant gig to be a part of and I am grateful to Kieran for allowing me to be part of it. People who weren’t around the scene in 2014 missed my brief dabble with funny poems. My repertoire is small, about 5 poems – so for this set I emulated the style of BaldyPoems and wrote 6 new ditties.

Kieran started the night in style he was the compere for the evening and not only treated us to Baldy Poems in between acts but also some stand-up, one liners too. We started in black out darkness with an exceptionally funny joke and after a few Baldy Poems we moved on to the opening act:

John Lawrence kicked off the evening, his set was brilliant and even performed my favourite poem about DIY. John is a clever writer and I have always loved his lighter side poems.

Neil Laurenson was next, I miss hearing Neil’s poems, his wry, sometimes dry sense of humour. He made us all laugh (and many of us panic – who goes for a run before a gig?!), it was a pleasure.

Nina Lewis I was next I performed two poems written in 2014 for Mouth & Music. Adjectives Poem – Online Dating (which I think I managed the backwards pose with a little help from the mic stand) and the ever famous Moustache Poem. In between I used my new little ditties, the charity collection one became an audience favourite. It was great performing comic material, not being serious and liberating to wear a big moustache.

 

Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos until the 2nd half (apologies to John and Neil) and the quality of my phone camera has a lot to be desired.

Baldy kicked off the second half of the evening, sharing some of my favourite BaldyPoems and one or two that produced gasps rather than groans. He performed my all time favourite ‘Vase’ poem. Kieran was a great MC and should be very proud for pulling off such an entertaining evening.

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Our Super Secret Surprise Guest was Peter Sutton who treated us to a walk through his family album where we did our best to guess the rhyme, with some hilarious results.

Mark Kilburn, who is another favourite poet of mine, introduced his set as serious and depressing, I knew he was pulling our leg but there was a concerned murmur in the air as his initial poem started in a serious way. He was off course, only joking and treated us to laugh after laugh and a slightly different persona in his final poem.

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Catherine Crosswell who I recommended as a Queen of Comedy delighted the audience with her wordy magic and some French thrown in for good measure, not to forget the singing. She has such a beautiful voice. I was delighted that Catherine came to join this event, for the past few years her heart has been stolen by theatre and since the passing of our good friend Clive Dee, there has not been a Confab event in Malvern. I have really missed Catherine and it was lovely to see her at a happy occasion. The audience loved her.

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And to top the bill the featured performer, Mogs. Who is a master at comic poetry and was an excellent choice for King Headliner. I loved hearing his Panda poem again and The Fart that ended the World. With some passing reference in introduction to Trump.

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It was a stellar line up and a successful, enjoyable night. I for one cannot wait to do it again. Well done, Baldy! What was also super is that there was a good turn out – events need audiences and this one was a winner.

 


The Wonderful Promotional Work of Baldy Poems.

JOHN LAWRENCE

Folks, the time has come for us to announce our first poet in our Kings and Queens line up. A drum roll, please…

Shout, cheer, and get wildly excited for the wonderful… John Lawrence!

Who? Oh, that John Lawrence! The chap of advancing years who pops up now and again with gently funny verse, then hides away in his fortified castle in Redditch, writing occasionally, until the next time he ventures out on his white steed.

Isn’t he also the author of The Secret Five and the Stunt Nun Legacy, that mirthful/irksome (delete as appropriate) Blyton parody? Yes, that’s the one.

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NEIL LAURENSON

Folks, stop what you’re doing and perk up your ears because we’re about to announce the second poet for our comedy line-up. John Lawrence will be joined by the humour, wit, and satire of… Neil Laurenson!

Neil has read at poetry events across the region, including the Wenlock Poetry Festival and Ledbury Poetry Festival. His debut pamphlet Exclamation Marx! was published by Silhouette Press last April, and you can find details of the book – including how to purchase your own copy – in the following link: http://silhouettepress.co.uk/shop/exclamation-marx-by-neil-laurenson/

A round of applause, please, for our latest poet to join the line-up!

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NINA LEWIS

Ahem! We have another announcement to make, folks! Joining our stellar line-up of laugh out loud performers we have the wonderful, the talented, the hilarious… Nina Lewis!

Nina is widely published in poetry journals and anthologies, including Abridged, Fat Damsel Take Ten, Hark, Here Comes Everyone (HCE), I am Not a Silent Poet, New Ulster Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets and Under the Radar.

Nina was a runner-up in the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015/2016 and often performs at spoken word events and literary festivals. She was commissioned to write and perform poetry on ‘ecology and the city’ at the Birmingham Literature Festival in 2014.

Nina’s work also formed part of the poetry trail for Wenlock Poetry Festival, and can be be found in the vaults of the Municipal Bank as part of an International Dance Festival and 21 Haiku, used for an Art Installation at the MAC. Her debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’, was published by V. Press last autumn.

A round of applause, please, for the lovely Nina!
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MARK KILBURN

We’re going to need you to stop what you’re doing and perk up your ears, ladies and gents, because we have another announcement to make. Joining our court of comedians this week we have the hugely talented Mark Kilburn!

Mark Kilburn was born in Birmingham and lived for a number years in Scandinavia before returning to the West Midlands in 2004. Between 1994-6 he was writer in residence at the City Open Theatre, Arhus, Denmark, and in 2002 was a recipient of the Canongate prize for new fiction.

Between 2004 and 2005, Mark was on attachment at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and in 2012 his poem about the London riots, Milton Friedman Talks Disaster Capitalism in a Burning Hackney Diner, won the AbcTales.com poetry competition.

Most recently, Ballad of a Claret and Blue Boy, a poem celebrating Aston Villa, was featured across the club’s digital media prior to the 2015 FA Cup final. Mark’s novel, Hawk Island, is available from electronpress.com

Clap, cheer, show your excitement for Mr. Mark Kilburn!

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CATHERINE CROSSWELL

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s about time that we announced another poet! Joining our stellar line-up now we have the wonderful… [pause for dramatic effect]…Catherine Crosswell!

Catherine Crosswell is co-organizer of ConFab Cabaret, a Malvern-based cabaret night with lashings of poetry. She is an untidy wife, bidet doubter, list lover, writer and performer. Catherine lives in Malvern where she was the 2013 Poetry Slam champ and also the 2014 Runner-up in Ledbury.

November 2016 saw her poetry published in Voices of 1919 and Doctor Who, A Time Lord for a Change, in an exciting adventure with the Drabbles. She is a proud Vaginella and is currently writing two musicals.

For more information on Catherine and her work, you can check out the following links: catherine.crosswell.co.uk catherinecrosswell.wordpress.com

Whoop, cheer, and brace yourselves for laughter with Catherine!!

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MOGS

With just a handful of days left before our poetry-packed night of comedy, it’s about time we let you folks know who your headliner for the evening will be. None other than the glorious, the hilarious, the much-loved… Mogs!

Mogs was a teenager when he wrote his first poem and song. By the time he retired, he had a smallish collection of what he refers to as ’tripe’. Since leaving work he has joined three writing groups and writes as often as he can. So he now has a large collection of tripe (much to the delight of us all, as Mogs’ ‘tripe’ is a true treasure).

A few years ago he discovered that he could make people listen to his tripe, so for the past decade or so he says he’s been inflicting his poetry on open mic audiences. Luckily for them he rarely sings.

Mogs, a well-loved poet and performer in the Worcestershire area, has audiences in tears (of laughter) with his witty and well-worded, pun-riddled poetry. As a winner of the Worcestershire Literary Festival’s Rubber Sword, Mogs truly is a King of Comedy.

Ladies and gents, we give you your headliner – give it up for Mogs!

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RELATED LINKS:

https://kdavisfanclub.wordpress.com/

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/01/19/baldypoems-presents-are-you-ready-for-him/

And what Kieran didn’t mention is last year he was the winner of the Rubber Swordplay. WLF Comedy Award.

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2016/06/14/rubber-sword-won-by-kieran-davis/

 

December Review of the Month

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Everything starts to wind down in my writing world during December, which is lucky as everything else winds up to Christmas and I think I would pop if something didn’t give.

Week 1: (which was only 4 days)

I put in a bid to review an anthology which a few poetry friends appear in, it looks like a great quality publication and I am gutted I knew nothing of the submission for it. I do not think my application was successful as they had the launch in December, but I tried.

I also went to Permission to Speak, Rob Francis’s night in Stourbridge at the Scary Canary. Rob booked Ash Dickinson as the headline act, it has been over a year since I’ve seen him perform.1 Ash DickinsonPerhaps longer. Last time was Digbeth, Birmingham. I was also doubly excited because he has a new book out and I was able to grab a copy – which I then saved to be my Christmas read, but also borrowed 3 Christmassy novels from the library and with actually celebrating festivities and catching up with family and friends, I ran out of time to read it. It has become my New Year book instead… now my January book. It is my next read and has overtaken a whole shelf of poetry still on my must read radar.

Thanking Jonathan Davidson for teaching me to support poetry by buying books (back in Sept. 2013), I would love time to read them all. One day I will have my landing book nook and an hour a day to indulge.

It was an exceptional night, (despite the mic stand completely playing me up). Part of my set was ‘Fragile Houses’ which is a serious book and it made Ash feel comfortable to step away to his more serious work too. Which went down a storm. So I was glad that my set persuaded him to mix his up a bit. Very brave.

What I did manage to do was re-read his previous collection – (bought last time I saw him in Digbeth), I love having the poet’s voice in mind as I read their words. I had forgotten how stonkingly good ‘slinky espadrilles’ was. It was a delight to hear some poems from this, his first collection at PTS.

adameve It was actually 2014 when I last saw Ash perform. How time flies when you’re writing poems. The photos I took of Ash are trapped on an old phone, so you can make do with a 2014 lazy Sunday version of me instead.

If you fancy ordering a copy of Slinky Espadrilles (2012), which remains one of the top selling titles, you can follow the links below. Or maybe you would rather treat yourself to the latest collection Strange Keys (2016) … both published by Burning Eye books.

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/slinky-espadrilles-by-ash-dickinson

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/strange-keys

A great night at ScaryCanary and I also picked up a copy of Rob’s new pamphlet ‘Orpheus’ published by Lapwing. It was his first reading from it. orpheus-1st-reading

I have since watched him perform from it at SpeakEasy and he has a few more dates in the Midlands, up North  and soon down South too.

28th Jan – Wolverhampton Literature Festival @ Wolverhampton Art Gallery
16th Feb – Stanza @ The Exchange, North Shields
25th Feb – The Black Light Engine Room, Middlesbrough

More dates may be added soon in Folkestone, Leeds and London

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Rob is also donating all of his profits for this book to charity. £25 was raised by initial sales for the village School feeding scheme in Namibia. I am not entirely sure if this campaign has now closed as the crowdfunding page has finished. Know that if you buy a copy, Rob has donated profits so far to this cause.

Ordering Orpheus – please contact R. M Francis https://www.facebook.com/RMFrancisPoet/

I also returned Heather’s projector which I had used for the Book Party event to show my Fragile Houses Poetry Films. Over Christmas I discovered my mum had been given a projector through a contact in education (they were upgrading), after it served no use to my mum she gifted it forwards – not releasing her poetry daughter was about to embark on Poetry Films… so if any of you know of anyone getting rid of a working projector at any point I would be very interested. My car has also gone over the clock (100,000) with all these poetry gigs, so if anyone has a decent 2nd or 3rd hand car to sell also let me know!

My friend Caution Poet had a couple of events at the Anchor Gallery, Birmingham where he was generously selling artwork and giving away copies of his latest collection of poems. On the same night there were Christmas Spoken Word events at The Ort. But my relatives were up from London and it was my Gran’s birthday so I missed all the poetry and went to celebrate with them instead.

I was asked to perform at the Mistletoe Festival in Tenbury Wells. In the end Myfanwy and Peter Sutton made it and I am in conversation about 2017.

I had my winter solstice poem ‘Burn All the Clocks’ accepted by Three Drops From a Cauldron at the end of November, but don’t think I mentioned it on the last review. It is going to be published in the Midwinter Anthology.

Week 2:

I continued to make Poetry Films and missed Hatstand – I have missed all the events hosted this year under this new night. I hope they continue in 2017 and that I may make them. Monday night is a tricky one with teaching the next day.

I worked on the Writing West Midlands December session, prep and planning. I missed Gary Longden’s Poetry Alight and Roz Goddard’s Stanza Christmas Party to go to Stirchley Speaks, which was a great night.

I also worked on two projects which at this time were in initial planning stages. The one has been signed, sealed and delivered and is already forging new developments into 2017. The other is ready to start in February, on a date that I have been asked to perform as part of a Peace Day at Coventry Cathedral. Both events are geographically too far apart to manage in the same day. I hope to get involved with Antony Owen’s next event in the summer. In the meantime I am writing poems to be read on the day.

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December sees the return of SpeakEasy at the beautiful Cafe Bliss and, to rid you of your Winter blues, we’re bringing along with us the wonderful Nina Lewis!

Nina has had poetry published in many publications over the years and has recently celebrated her first solo publication, Fragile Houses, published by V. Press. A wonderful poet with a back catalogue of hard-hitting and beautifully crafted verses, Nina Lewis is definitely an act worth seeing.

I headlined SpeakEasy in Worcester. It was a great night – there are some photos I need to track down. My non-poetry friends came to support me and Café Bliss was packed. It was a great night although one of the most nervous I have been (home crowd and all that) and there were about 8 close poetry friends (and regulars at this event) who couldn’t make it so I was supressing the paranoid part of myself for most of the evening. I did manage to enjoy the open mic spots and the atmosphere was brilliant.

My set went well and I sold quite a few copies of Fragile Houses. I even performed one of the poems I didn’t envisage ever being able to perform in public. That may be the only time I do. So for all the people who were there that was a first and last.

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As with all things the 8th December when I headlined clashed with other events, The Grizzly Pear where I missed Bohdan Piasecki and Leon Priestnall and also the Nine Arches Press Christmas Party.

On Friday I had one of the most exciting meetings of the year and some delicious cake! I missed Caution Poet’s second event and Clive Osman Performing from his new book ‘Happy’ at the P Café as I had a lot of writing work to submit and a WWM to prepare.

On Saturday we celebrated the end of term with a workshop on Fiction and a slightly Christmassy session for WWM. To prove how talented the writers are in my group there was an entire page of the plan I discarded as they were already there. Great when young writers don’t need all the input. They, like me, are passionate about learning the craft.

Week 3:

My final week of real world work and I booked workshops for the Verve Poetry Festival (Feb.) with Kim Moore and Sarah Howe, I met both these talented poets this year and cannot wait for this treat – which was a Christmas present from my Mum – even better when these experiences are free! I missed the booking at Swindon on Kim’s workshop due to getting a little lost finding the new venue. So I am doubly looking forward to the magic.

I helped organise accommodation for the Quiet Compere (January) Wolverhampton Literature Festival.  I started working on a collaborative project which will see 3 new poems written (and submitted) in as many weeks. I worked on general submissions, getting the last bit of writing done before the Christmas break.

I had also been asked (in October) to produce a writing prompt for Squiffy Gnu (an online writing/ poetry group). The deadline was the 14th and although it had been on my radar for a while I couldn’t start to work on it until after I had headlined SpeakEasy.

I am really proud of myself for coming up with an original idea and not copying someone else’s groundwork. I have yet to actually attempt the writing myself and have only read a few of the outcome poems, but again I plan to carve some time out to do this next month. It was fun to be a guest poet and an honour to be the last one of the year. Thanks to Chris Hemmingway for this opportunity.

I missed Luke Wright and Jasmine Gardosi headline at Howl, again next year HOWL is already in the diary for February, it has been a shame to miss this events as it is always a great night. Once again I will blame work and distance.

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There was a Christmas Party for the Walsall Arboretum poets which I couldn’t attend originally because of work. However, that day work was cancelled and I had hoped to make it after all. I was buried under a self created submission mountain though and it was in the middle of the day. I heard they had a good time.

Instead, the following day, I treated myself to the Poet Christmas Party (like a works do but better), just three of us meeting up for lunch and pretending it was our annual do really! I made the mistake of drinking a glass of wine as I wasn’t driving, but I had forgotten that I skipped breakfast and hadn’t yet lined my stomach. So I guess I was entertaining.

I missed Attila The Stockbroker and Caution Poet Man Down on Friday night as it was Stanza and I had missed the previous two months and really wanted to go.

It was a great and Christmassy evening.

Week 4:

Christmas and my hibernation from my poetry skin.

In the Greenwood Shade – my poem about the Frog Prince (initially started at a workshop with Angela France) was published by Three Drops From a Cauldron in the December Issue.

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https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2016/12/23/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-issue-ten/

Welcome 2017

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Welcome 2017

I think it is a little late to be wishing you all Happy New Year – so welcome to 2017, I hope it has started well for you.

I took my annual break over Christmas and although I still need to tie up some monthly reviews and pages there really was little action as everything calms down a bit in December. Poets, like bears, enjoy hibernation.

This year I am spending the majority of my time writing and promoting ‘Fragile Houses’. Three new exciting opportunities have landed on my lap and in addition to these some new Literature Festivals have sprung up that I am busy organising events for. I do not plan to do 107 gigs this year, but there are still several events a month to keep me in the performance circuit/loop.

I am very excited about 2017 and have harnessed the sense of ‘new dawn’ we all experience on the 1st January and I intend to keep it. Which is ironic as I have had some wobbles already this month. So running on the pure scent of the beginning of the year… let’s get stuck in!

Be brave

be bold

and keep writing!

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Week Fifty One: A thousand eyes

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Really delighted to be asked for a Guest Prompt on this writing project. I am pleased that I managed to create one from scratch and the resulting writing makes a great read!

Squiffy Gnu

For his penultimate prompt, Squiffy welcomes the last guest prompter of the year: Nina Lewis.

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Image credit: Courtney Boydston (http://playalargoresort.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Photo-courtesy-of-Courtney-Boydston-Flickr-Creative-Commons-1024×683-1024×480.jpg)

As you read this week’s prompt most of you will be thinking about turkey and cranberries, do you need a festive break? What about pineapple…

We may know pineapple is not a single fruit but a group of berries that have fused together, but Squiffy has only just discovered coalesced berries.

Those berries got him thinking about fusion and so this prompt comes with a myriad of options all linked in some way to Squiffy’s recent discovery.

Use these ideas as a starting point for your writing:

the solid core,

impenetrable things,

fusion,

torn apart at the seams,

the power of stars.

Oddly enough some of these ideas bring you back to Christmas if you wish to stay festive.

Finally if you want another curve ball here is a retelling of…

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Transaction, poem by Nina Lewis (ME, IN A HAT Poetry and Prose Series)

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Recent submissions have been busy. This one flew and nested. Silver Birch Press.

 

Transaction by Nina Lewis When it all fell through I went shopping. The clothes store had a sale on and I found this hat, stared too long at the reflection of my head wearing it, mirroring thoughts…

Source: Transaction, poem by Nina Lewis (ME, IN A HAT Poetry and Prose Series)