Tag Archives: awritersfountain

INKSPILL 2018 Heating Up! Get Your Diaries READY!

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I had the joy this week of approaching two writers to feature as this year’s Guest Writers at INKSPILL – our online writing retreat. They have both said YES!

As I am due to fly out to Australia as an International Guest at Perth Poetry Festival, I thought it would be fun to find a 3rd Guest Writer whilst I am out there and that will complete our set for 2018.

Here’s a promo film to whet your appetite!

 

If you have never been involved before (where have you been?), the retreat runs from 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM on both Saturday (27th October) and Sunday (28th), it involves a range of activities, workshops, interviews, motivational posts, tips and is a chance to give yourself some writing time.

If you are not around in real-time the posts remain on the blog and can be accessed after the event. It is always popular and many writers gain a lot from it AND it is FREE!

 

A Year of Learning Curves

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2015/16 have been eye opening years for learning. At no point have I thought staying in my comfort zone was a good idea, in fact I don’t think I have found a comfort zone yet. The whole idea behind this leap of faith was creativity and adventure and I expected (sought and found) abundant amounts of it.

I jump from learning about the lengthy editing process to marketing books. I am glad I didn’t look down. I have researched and actioned so much in the past few weeks that it has been hard to keep track of all the avenues. The most important lessons will not be lost though, I plan to share some of my new found knowledge with you. Hopefully the next person with similar Google searches will find more answers with less time and energy used that I expended.

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Bruce Elkin © 2016

The one thing I will mention is how much fun this hard work has been! After decades working (extremely hard) for someone else in a thankless profession, I relish the idea of freedom as much as I love experiencing it. The hours used researching and networking to market my book, Fragile Houses fragile-houses-best By Nina Lewis, Published by V.Press, have been an absolute pleasure.

Of course, there is always the possibility that I am driving people mad with social media updates. With a week to go and today being my last day of freedom to drive the PR machine, I am in fifth gear.

The good news is there are pre-orders both for mailing and for signing. The fear that no one will want to buy the pamphlet is a thing of the past. The fear that no one will turn up for the Book Launch, a fear of the past. Now the worry energy can be converted into real energy as I attack the final full day pre-launch TO DO list. A day to remember.

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A week Monday will be a day I never forget too.

Update – The Write Year – Summer is here

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I have updated The Write Year page to include reviews of June to August.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/the-write-year/

 

 

The Weather is more July than September. Review of July

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I have learnt many lessons during my pamphlet being published, one of the many is how difficult keeping up with timely blog posts can be. Never underestimate the time it takes a blogger to create a post.

Here we are in September without a review of the summer. So tonight I am posting my review of July and August and updating The Write Year. I should be happily promoting my new book and INKSPILL, I will get to these matters soon. Did I mention I have a book out?

Review of July

WEEK 1:

July started fairly quietly, my priority was to complete editing the pamphlet, which by this point was being batted back and forth between myself and the publishers fairly frequently. Lesson 2 do not underestimate the length of the editing process even after you have completed your manuscript.

On Sunday 3rd July, I happily experienced my first taste of Evesham Festival of Words. I have been aware for many years of AsparaFest but never made one. This year the festival had a revamp. I was one of a merry group of poets completing a walking performance from the Bell Tower, through town and back to Abbey Park. The event was organised by Polly Stretton and this is what people had to say;

Just back from the poetry walk around Evesham’s historic centre, starting in the ringing chamber of the newly-restored Bell Tower. The walk was organised and led by talented poet, Polly Stretton and was supported by lots of other poets. The sun shone and the poetry was really enjoyable. Evesham Festival of Words continues to excel!

Thoroughly enjoyed the poetry walk on the Sunday morning but unfortunately that was the only event I could attend. Well done to all involved. MW

I performed at Stirchley Speaks and had the pleasure of watching Charley Barnes fill her first featured slot. A fabulous night, as always.

I attended a WWM meeting as we set plans in motion for our 2016/17 groups. My new challenge is a new group, different age group and a blended version of the what went before. It isn’t just the name of the groups that is changing. Our first group took place last weekend and it was brilliant! Back in July I was a nervous wreck thinking about it all.

I missed several events I had hoped to attend and continued to plan INKSPILL, including conversations and meetings with our Guest Writers.

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WEEK 2:

A heavy week of editorial work, sprinkled with events. I was lucky to meet and watch the awesome (in the true sense of the word) performance poet Buddy Wakefield, when he headlined HOWL, in Birmingham. It was the tail end of his massive UK tour and as he didn’t want to fly any merchandise back home, we were able to buy GOLD at silver prices. I treated myself to his full collection and the very next day opened it randomly (it has one of those lovely soft plastic covers that tease you with smoothness), and read a line, I then started free writing and used that later in a week to create a poem. I have since read the book properly and I am so glad that I have a copy of this book, which I will probably read again before the year is out!

I also managed to get to SpeakEasy to watch a full set of Kathy Gee, I have seen her headline before and have always loved listening to her poetry. It was a pleasure to be there and hear again from her debut collection ‘Book of Bones’. http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/book-of-bones.html

I heard about a great event (now tomorrow!) ‘Early Bird – An Evening of Poetry Readings’ featuring; David Morley, Sarah Howe, Jo Bell, Luke Kennard, Jonathan Edwards, Claire Trevien. I booked my tickets within minutes of discovering the event.

Open Poetry at the Walsall Arboretum with David Calcutt where we had an enjoyable afternoon in the sun, staff even supplied us with the shade of golfing umbrellas. I performed on the open mic and bought my copy of David’s V.Press pamphlet ‘The Old Man in the House of Bone’. https://davidcalcutt.com/the-old-man-in-the-house-of-bone/

I secured our first Guest Writer confirmation for INKSPILL 2017 – Our annual online writing retreat, which is still FREE.

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Week 3:

I discovered I had poems accepted for the ‘We Are Not Alone’ anthology, which is a collection of poetry covering aspects of depression. The anthology is out later this year. They have published a poem I wrote about a man suffering depression in secret and one that is more autobiographical which also appears in my debut pamphlet (have I mentioned it again?) ‘Fragile Houses’, published by V. Press and available from 3rd October. *Well there has to be some positive impact posting a monthly review 2 months late! http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/fragile-houses.html

I was delighted to have this acceptance as I have hardly written new material for months and my last submissions were made in the spring.

I missed a couple of events and learnt about some marketing opportunities which will hopefully spread the potential audience for my poetry pamphlet.

I signed my poetry contract! A highlight of this year, especially watching the faces of the poet witnesses when they read the title of this collection. My editor was very patient about my chronic indecision and constant brainstorming and I was receptive of her knowledge and advice. You know a title works with the reaction that night.

I started my long summer holiday officially, although I had already had practically the whole last week of term off. There is never much cover work at this point.

I threw myself into getting INKSPILL organised.

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Week 4:

Sadly, we said goodbye to another poet this year, Clive Dee. His funeral was arranged and I think he would have been so proud of his kids for the service. He would have loved hearing the laughter and sure he appreciated the splashes of colour that were everywhere. A gentle soul, loved by most people he had contact with and a sad loss to us all. It still doesn’t seem very real at all. He was very secretive about what he was going through so it was a shock to many of us.

I am happy he discovered the world of poetry when he did.

I missed Daniel Sluman and David Clarke performing in Birmingham because the day after Clive’s funeral Mr G and I headed off into the Welsh mountains for our first holiday in 3 years!

We had a wonderful break and it was good to spend time together. The only tech being the TV in our suite, which was bigger than any at home – and Mr G has a big TV!

That was July! A month of high ups and a few broken downs.

BL me Universe poem

Rangzeb © 2014

 

 

Behind the Scenes

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Time has flown by and yet stands still over here in the Fountain. There is lots going on behind the scenes. Firstly, my début pamphlet is reaching the final stages; post editorial and pre-production, secondly I have already started working on INKSPILL – our online writing retreat which started in 2013 when the blog was created. Thirdly, I have finally (after 3 years) had a summer holiday with Mr G. and I have just celebrated a milestone birthday and celebrations continue (although not every day) until the end of next month! Not to mention watching the Olympics and moving/unpacking a small amount of the rooms that need to be emptied and decorated.

I will complete monthly reviews for July & update The Write Year and Events pages as soon as I get a proper chance to sit at the desk, hopefully early next week.

August has seen a Poetry Canal trip – where I had a go at steering, an honorary Tiller Girl, a couple of Open Mic nights, exciting movement with the pamphlet, a meeting (for INKSPILL) at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a book launch for Lacuna by Kieran Davis, a workshop using Historical documents and lots of parties.

I am looking forward to working on submissions again after not submitting for several months and celebrating the end of my summer with a Poetry Picnic and an Open Mic. The first fortnight in September is nearly fully booked and of course I have to put an end to playing and get back to work and that tricky balance between work – the house (still unpacking boxes) and writing.

My book launch will hopefully happen in October, along with Festival season.

Until then, there are 1000s of posts to enjoy here in AWF, so click around the calendars and have some fun! If you have never heard of INKSPILL – check out the links via the menus and keyword searches.

IMG_1288 poet © R. Nichols

Book of Bones – Kathy Gee

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In May, Kathy Gee celebrated her debut collection ‘Book of Bones’ (published by V. Press), with a launch in the Long Room at Avoncroft Museum (historic buildings).

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Avoncroft Museum © 2016

A perfect venue for Kathy, who is an archaeologist by training. Kathy has had a long career in museums and heritage and is a Trustee at the museum.

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It was a wonderful evening filled with poetry and guest readings from many local poets; Claire Walker, John Lawrence, Maggie Doyle, Ruth Stacey, Ian Glass and Heather Wastie.

I always enjoy Kathy’s work and now I can read my copy with her voice firmly in my head.

BUY your copy here http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/book-of-bones.html this link also includes a couple of Soundcloud poems.

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Rosie Miles © 2016

 

RELATED LINKS

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/chez-nous-recommendations-for-book-of.html

 

Vanguard Readings – Birmingham

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2016 has been a busy year, which is why the blog posts are fewer. My pamphlet has reached final proof stages after 17 months of hard work. The editing process is a new experience for me and due to the nature of the subject (core of which is family/growing up) it has taken time to cross that gauntlet between autobiographical recount and something interesting enough for people to read, feel, attach themselves to.

I am in final proof stages with my pamphlet now and it is a great  feeling.

There are gaps I want to fill on the blog and now I have started to work on INKSPILL, I want to fill the gaps before the next big project takes over.

VANGUARD READINGS

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Back in March I attended Vanguard Readings, in Birmingham. Richard Skinner is the man behind Vanguard. Vanguard Readings are hosted monthly in London from October to July, they feature new writers and established authors, 6 writers each read for 10 minutes.

Richard realised the need for expanding out and touring Vanguard Readings regionally.

vanguardI am glad he did. A whole evening being carried away by poetry. Readers; David Calcutt, Helen Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane, Emma Purshouse and Richard Skinner.

With plenty of time in the interval to mingle, chat and catch up. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came away feeling inspired and rekindled.

Vanguard Readings take place at The Peckham Pelican, SE London.

Writing Places – My Kingdom for a Desk

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I love to read about other people’s  space and I often imagine my own dream space… but the truth is, I don’t even have a writing desk. For a poet I think they are less essential equipment than for the novelist, but it is good to have an organised surface. I am under no illusion that whilst I make do the rest of the world has gold cast desks in ivory towers to sit down behind. Like I said, a fascinating topic.

I mainly use laptops and notebooks (old school, the ones with paper and bindings, usually ribbon markers and well designed, appealing covers) – so I can manage with a lap tray, curled up legs, my own knees, a coffee table, side table, TV dinner table… someone else’s back… the list goes on.

In the past (before Mr G and I moved), I have had desks and since we have been living together I have often caught sight of a dream desk. Sometimes in stores I would have to go back into full-time employment to afford, other times the furniture is just too big for the dimension of the rooms bound for a desk one day.

I fell in love with an old fashioned, green leather covered desk, you know the sort. It was in a charity shop (now closed down) and I even think I know who donated it. But it was BIG and I know I am not ready.

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Stock image AntiqueAtlas.com

Not being ready isn’t a case of denying myself until a standard of life is obtained, it is simply a question of space needs to come first and guess who is STILL unpacking boxes this summer?

Sometime last year or the beginning of this one, Mr G and I bought a miniature dining table (a copy of the one I grew up with) with the intention of varnishing and using it outside to replace one which was severely warped (although that made it interesting enough to appear in a poem).

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Did the table make it outside? Did it get varnished? Of course not, it got placed in the middle of the room and had stuff dumped all over it – until Christmas when we used it as a dining table for a very small family gathering. This means it was 2015 we bought it! After this I decided that if it was going to spend the winter/spring inside – I may as well use it.

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Use it I did. A tablecloth to hide the imperfections yet to be tackled, a bar to rest my foot against as I sit in quite possibly the worst cross-legged position at the laptop. Month on month the post and magazines, diaries, notes, receipts, books etc. grew at a magical rate. In amongst this writing stew – car keys, hairbrushes, money, cards, hair bobbles, pens would all go astray.

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The first task of my summer holiday was to strip it all back (a design term for tidy up) to make me feel I was being creative and using my time purposefully! Most of it was binned, re-shelved, stacked elsewhere neatly in piles. Then I went and rescued an oilcloth basket I bought last summer on my London expedition (which was still in the bag with receipt of purchase) and tidied everything I needed into that. The scrap paper notes pad, diaries, pencil case, pens etc.

I have spent the past 4 nights tidying up after myself. Everyday I have used this space well. Although a clearer mind implies less ideas, it is a more comfortable place to write now. Or edit, which has been my main task this month.

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What about the space you write in?

Review of May

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May Review

May (like April) was a funny month of missing events I had planned to attend. My main focus returned to writing, more precisely editing which I find harder and less fun than creating, it is a bit like cleaning (which I also despise) but the end result of fresh and better is rewarding. I enjoy re-reading a tighter collection, but the editing time is like moving rocks with bare hands! I have to force myself into editing mode. It isn’t about being precious over my darlings, I learnt to kill them in my first year (2013), it is just the effort of crafting, the exhausted mind, the energy needed – and time.

Week 1

May started with a Bank Holiday weekend and Mr G and I went to see Mark Lanegan perform (our 3rd time), the next day at work was hard and followed by an evening at Stirchley Speaks, where Mike Alma was one of the featured poets. I was glad I managed to make it over to support him, it was (as always) a great night, filled with warmth and energy.

Next month is Jess Davies’ last month hosting before she moves on to her new exciting plan of events and workshops. She has had an exceptional year at the P Café, I am sure Callum Bate and his sister, Melissa, will do well hosting this established spoken word night when they take over in the summer and I wish them luck. They are dynamic performers themselves and featured as ‘Prime Poetry’ at the first Stirchley Speaks back in 2015.

An exciting Friday Night (6th May) saw Kathy Gee’s Book Launch, her first collection, published by V Press. It was at Avoncroft Museum , I hadn’t been there for  years and it was the PERFECT venue. Buy a copy here Book of Bones It was a wonderful evening of poetry in the Long Room. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/book-of-bones-kathy-gee/

I missed several writing events over the weekend as Mr G and I went to a Kate Bush Tribute, which was amazing. ‘Cloudbusting‘ are the UKs longest running Kate Bush tribute. Mr G is a total fan of Bush, she never hit my radar (being slightly younger), of course I knew of her – who doesn’t! As an adult I appreciate the poetry of her music and her wildly free artistry.

The singer of Cloudbusting was amazing, what she could do with her voice! Incredible. We loved every minute, they were down a guitarist and still it was exceptional. I can only imagine how good the full band would have been. What was lovely was her references to Kate and seeing what big fans of her music they all were.

Week 2

I finally made it back to SpeakEasy (12th May) in there new home, Café Bliss, a venue I love so much I am currently trying to organise a party there! It was great to hear everyone again, Spoz was the featured poet and he brought lots of his Calais Refugee poetry with him for a hard hitting set. It was good to catch up with him, as he is having a busy year including touring TEN LETTERS, which I was lucky enough to catch in Birmingham. Link to follow.

We have also been in our lovely home for 3 years now (still with lots to do), this made me appreciate that I have been living the creative dream for a while. This will always be my Poetry house. I feel grateful, although due to getting the house straightened out and working on my manuscript I have only managed to carve writing time out recently and long for the weeks to find structure again, where I can manage a writing day/ days.

Week 3

Mum and I experienced the World Premiere of Liam Scarlett’s amazing new ballet ‘Frankenstein’, performed by the Royal Opera House in association with San Francisco Ballet (I stayed just up the road from the dance school on one of my US trips)! I felt like I was watching the next BIG thing, this ballet steps into the shoes of a 21st Century The Rite of Spring, with regard to the importance of what Scarlett has achieved. I only hope it is studied in years to come. Bravo to the ROH for taking the risk, Scarlett is an immensely talented 30 year old (jealous). I was part of something special that night and it bore a new ambition. One day I hope my writing may become a ballet (I danced until my 20s).

http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/frankenstein-by-liam-scarlett

On the 19th I took part in Worcester’s first WLF Poetry Salon, based on the European Poetry Brothel concept. This was the brainchild of Charley Barnes and was an exciting night at the Rectifying House. I shared my booth with Maggie Doyle and a great time was had by performers and listeners alike. Link to follow.

May 20th saw the end of Mental Health week, something which is close to my heart as it was own demise which brought me back to writing from a depression diary to the world of poetry. Leisa Taylor/ Woo Feminista took over Café Bliss with a night of Spoken Word, where brave poets shared more than words and stories. It was incredibly moving.

The evening after (21st May) I performed a set for Arts Week in Parks Café, as part of the Poetry Extravaganza.

Week 4

I finally made it to a Stanza meeting after missing several months. It was great to reconnect although I had been busy with work and my editing brain was fairly useless. I took a poem which was inspired by a Nano poem prompt in a roundabout way.

I didn’t get a chance to submit anything this month, I didn’t even finish my action plan for May. My main focus was editing my manuscript and I put enough time into that to let it have some rest time before coming back to it for further reading.

I missed Cheltenham Poetry Festival completely (Wenlock & Stratford too) and as I write this I have so far missed all earmarked events at my local festival, Worcester LitFest – look out for some posts on this too.

The past 18months of work on my pamphlet has taught me lots on the process, I am also becoming aware that the focus and energy needed to achieve such things means sacrifices, including festival tickets. Still I will focus on the petrol I have saved and how much smaller my carbon footprint will be this year – silver linings!

I missed a photo shoot for the poetry E-book with Shakti Women, as my car was failing its MOT at the time! I have a photographer willing to take head shots now though, all is not lost. If only I could lose my double chin(s)!

I had two personal invites to workshops in June from poets I respect and was very touched to have been thought of. I signed a poetry contract for Shabda Press, three poems in the up and coming Nuclear Impact Anthology, Broken Atoms in Our Hands. There is nothing like signing contracts to make you feel like a real writer.

I performed at 42 – where fairly hilariously most of us worked the theme of the evening into lines in our poems or stories ‘Blacker than the Night’- by the time I performed in the 2nd half people were listening for the theme punchline I think.

It was also a platform for me to perform one of my Nuclear poems, the message is important and the places you can share such material is limited.

It was a great night. Thoroughly enjoyed.

I am certainly back in my poetry skin after a few wobbly months and look forward to the upcoming festivals and booked performances of the summer.

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NaPoWriMo Day 11 Abstract Observation

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Our poet in translation for today is Afghanistan’s Shakila Azizzada. She’s known for her delicate and at the same time passionate love poems – check out the not-exactly-racy-but-still-sizzling poem “Cat Lying in Wait,” along with several others, at the link above.

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Today’s prompt encouraged close description of a place or an object with a surprise endline that seemingly doesn’t connect or fit to the object/place description. I’m hoping you’ll achieve. An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details. 

Let’s have a go!

I found this challenging, although using my empty coffee cup was perhaps not the most inspiring object on the desk.

I have chosen to share part of the middle of the poem and the endline – I guess this challenge doesn’t translate without reading the full poem. I am not perfectly happy with it at this stage though.

The base of the glass contains

puddles of condensation

residue of hot waking liquid.

A shallow circle of tan brown moves

when disturbed.

 

 

the day patches duller than swirling bulb.