Tag Archives: Black Country

Flashback Summer (June)

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Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

For some reason I attempted Yoga again this month, Lockdown has made us all a little crazy, I think I did a fusion of Yoga and Pilates, basically the warm up and then filled in most of the class with exercise my back could manage.

I saw my first human being other than my mum and Mr G. since the beginning of Lockdown. It was my eldest nephew’s birthday. I stood in the garden, he stayed inside. It was the hardest not-hug to give/not give. Delighted I saw him. He couldn’t believe he was only the 3rd person I had seen since the end of March! By the end of the month I shared garden coffee with a few friends.

My actual travel/ life may have diminished to something which resembled 2019 (without the pain) but my screen life was exploding. I stretched my Zoom poetry wings further into Australia, out to New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, America and Coventry – if you have ever driven the route from here you will understand why I include that UK destination in amongst my international travel. Other local events found the wonders of Zoom and FB and moved events online. Library services also extended online content.

Poetry and writing has gone Global this year, writing is also (like baking, making sourdough, planting, painting and photography) one of the hobbies/ escapes people turned to. Even people who never appeared online have probably scribbled journals or feelings down at some points in this Lockdown. There have been wonderful local/ national/ international community projects popping up all over the place. Letter writing has become fashionable again, or at least it did before people realised the dangers of post. The world has creatively adapted. We have held each other (metaphorically) up in a year that made us all feel like we no longer had bones!

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

The other thing which began to take seed was the funding artists had applied for through the Arts Council. With this emergency funding came a flurry of projects and workshops. Funding was also received from other revenue sources.

PPP (Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists) celebrated the Black Country/ Lockdown and isolation with Stay Up Your Own End – which offered people both a microscopic and magnified view of their locales as seen through the eyes of people with pens. It encouraged people who had never written before or never openly written before to pick up a pen and write. It was set up as a round of competitions, prizes included a video film produced & £25.

The judges/prompt writers for each round were local favourites of the Black Country poetry scene Richard Archer, Rick Sanders, Roy McFarlane, Kuli Kohli, and Heather Wastie.

PPP were commissioned by Creative Black Country to run a series of online poetry activities across the region.

Read more about it here: https://www.pandemonialists.co.uk/stay-up-your-own-end/

Louise Stokes provided bi-weekly writing classes under the ‘Let’s Write’ project. http://www.louiseland.co.uk/

I did workshops with Anna Saunders, Adam Horovitz, Liam Brown, Zena Edwards and joined Malika Speaks and Poets In Motion. I went to Book launches including The Estate Agent’s DaughterRhian Edwards (Seren), Wild PersistenceKatrina Naomi (Seren), Pack of LiesRoz Levens (Black Pear Press)

More Festivals and Events: ART IS… Festival, Trim (Ireland), Own It! Online Festival, Wirral Poetry Festival, Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Kit De Waal Creative Writing Wonder Women, Ledbury Poetry Salon with Philip Gross & Lesley Saunders. Sarah L. Dixon moved The Quiet Compere online and created a series of reunion shows. I made video poems for Wordcraft, PASTA, performed at Fire & Dust, 42, That Poetry Zoom, Perth Poetry Club, Poets’ Cafe and watched Dear Listener. Oooh Beehive, Run Your Tongue, Yes We Cant and others. Room 204 continued to support us with opportunities.

Personal highlights for the month (other than braving the company of friends) were:

A reading for the end of Writing to Buoy Us – Reading to Buoy Us with Cath Drake. The courses drew both established and new poets in from across the world.

Read all about it at Cath’s website here.

It was an uplifting event which featured both class groups and Australian poet Mark Tredinnick as the Guest Reader.

Writing and creativity are how most of us are continuing to process this pandemic 6 months later, the connectivity shared at this time was invaluable. It was special.

Cath Drake
Mark Tredinnick
Nina Lewis

Poetry Film Live Relaunched their website and featured one of my animated Poetry Renewed Films ‘Tailspin’ to Launch it. Like every business Elephant’s Footprint have adapted during this pandemic and shifted their courses online.

Exciting talks started with the committee about moving WLF online, we were holding off in the hope the postponed annual festival (mid-June) could be pushed back to early Autumn, by this time it became apparent that Covid was going to be with us for some time.

I took part in my first online SLAM (I don’t really do the SLAM poet thing but this was in Australia and I couldn’t resist). My poems appeared in the keepsake gift book the Art Is Festival released.

I wrote down submission opportunities and promptly missed the deadlines. Seems like I have the horse ready but a little unsure of getting back on!

Diverse Verse 3 Charity Anthology Book Launch

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DIVERSE 3

Richard Archer produced the first Diverse Verse (2016) before I happened upon his charitable project, I made sure that I was on board when he did it again in 2017 and after creating Diverse Verse 2, he has done it again!

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I am proud to have a rather strange poem written during NaPoWriMo 2017 included in this publication. Proceeds go to Cancer Research UK.

Richard Archer commented on how the collection affords an opportunity for first time publication, which I think is great – you never forget the feeling of the first poem published.

The books are certainly diverse with a mix of known, novice and up and coming poets from all over the world, bound together in a perfectly formed paperback!

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Scott and Amy – owners of Walsall and the Black Country’s only independent bookshop. 

The Launch took place in Walsall at SouthCart Books on 28th April and was great fun. There may even be a write up in a Midland Arts Magazine soon. I will keep you posted. Rick Sanders, myself and Richard Archer were interviewed and offered insights into the project and the writing process/life of a poet.

There was a relaxed atmosphere throughout the launch and as ever Scott and Amy put on a generous spread and served hot drinks to keep us caffeinated, wine was available but I was driving.

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Richard Archer

The event ran from 11 – 3 PM and was divided into 3 readings with plenty of time to catch up, socialise and browse the Bookshop between each set. It was great to catch up with poets I have not seen for ages and to promote the last Laureate opportunities to them.

I also love the fact Southcart Books is open, so sometimes customers come and have a listen or just come to browse the shelves above your head as one guy did in the 3rd Reading.

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In the first section we heard 5 minute sets from these poets;

John mills
Liz mills
Mogs
Alison Reed
Mike Alma
Ian Henery
Matthew Cash
Martha Cash

Many performed the poem they had in the anthology alongside other work. Some sets were deeply moving and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back for a listen.

Then we had an interval, food, mingling – lots of love in the Bookshop.

There is a poetry chair people to read from (a tradition in the Bookshop).

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So I settled down (cake on shelf) to open the 2nd section;

Nina Lewis
Jan Wilkes
Pauline Faulkner
Claire Sutton
Kristina Griffiths
David Wilkinson
Al Barz
Paul Elwell
Amy Carter

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Then another break, more coffee and a final readings from;

Richard Archer
Rik Sanders
Leanne Cooper
Jerry Peterson
Matt Humphries
Rachel Oram
Dale Parnell
Grace Dore

A really superb launch and a great anthology. You can buy a copy here

Diverse verse 3 is a poetry collection full of the finest poems from across the globe.

Within its covers are words that will send hearts soaring with joy or just as easily bring them crashing back to earth. Turn a page and find yourself on the wrong side of an argument, lost in a fantastical city or battling with malevolent inner demons. Read on and live vicariously through the words within.

Diverse Verse 3 is sold to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

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© 2018 MNA Express & Star (photo taken in the first shop premises) – Scott Carter

RELATED LINKS:

http://southcart.weebly.com/southcart

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/diverse-verse-2-sells-out-again-at-southcart-books/

Mighty Force – Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists!

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I have had the pleasure of knowing this lot since 2014/15. Back in 2016 Emma Purshouse, Steve Pottinger and Dave Pitt banded together to form Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists, a year later their show was created.

It premiered at the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton in April 2017 before they toured around the country and completed a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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“This isn’t just poetry, it’s storytelling, and most importantly it’s theatre. Glorious theatre, framed in a manner which gives space for the work to shine but keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout.” – Neil Reading, Director of Arena Theatre.

“Excellently framed, excellently delivered. The right amount of peaks, troughs, and misty-eyed bits.” – Matt Panesh, Artistic Director, Edinburgh Free Fringe.
“Chaucer with scratchcards.” – Jimmy Andrex, poet.

Now these three poets are industrious so alongside their show they created Yes We Cant a night of Spoken Word at Pretty Bricks in Walsall,  a pub that does indeed have pretty bricks. 34b10f6f8294900e524a14bf8ffdc85c

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I was fortunate enough to make their opening night back in June, Jonny Fluffypunk and Paul Francis headlined and it was fabulous!

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Fast forward almost a year and this monthly event is still going strong.

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And earlier this year the Wolverhampton Poetry collective announced a new project to raise the profile of poetry in and of the Black Country. They managed to obtain an Arts Council grant which enabled them to roll out a whole programme and get other local artists involved. The Black Country Broadsheet was produced which includes commissioned poems, videos have been made and professional photo shoots have been enjoyed.


CASEY BAILEY • BONES • JEREMY GRANT • R.M. FRANCIS
MOGS • RICK SANDERS • MARIANNE BURGESS

are the other poets commissioned for the project (see Rick, you got your commission, no more writing about fake ones).

 

Poet Steve Pottinger said: ‘This project is all about taking poetry to people who don’t think they like it, who don’t know it’s being written and performed in pubs and clubs around them, and who may never have attended or enjoyed a live event.

So, if you’ve got friends who you think might be interested, please tell them about it. We’re doing everything we can to show them the best local, contemporary performance poetry.’

Black Country Artsfoundry © 2018

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The project showcases the poets across 5 free events and has done just what they hoped it would. New poets have been found, some bravely taking to the mic for the first time (and blowing us out of the water!) and new to poetry people have decided it is not a bad night out after all.

  • Dudley: 9 April, Cafe Grande, 7pm – Jeremy Grant, Rick Sanders aka Willis the Poet, Marianne Burgess, Dave Pitt
  • Walsall: 16 April, The Pretty Bricks, 7pm – Emma Purshouse, R.M. Francis, Mogs, Bones
  • Great Bridge: 19 April, Great Bridge Library, 7pm – Steve Pottinger, Emma Purshouse, Jeremy Grant, Rick Sanders aka Willis the Poet
  • Stourbridge: 9 May, Claptrap, 7pm – R.M. Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger, Casey Bailey
  • Wolverhampton: 15 May, The Lighthouse, 7pm – Bones, Casey Bailey, Marianne Burgess, Dave Pitt

Due to a hectic work schedule, editing, writing and NaPoWriMo (I can hear Dave Pitt chuckling), I was not able to make the earlier dates. But watched as the internet steamed away on adrenaline filled reviews and knew that I had to catch this wave.

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So Stourbridge was penned in the diary and despite being truly creamed by work, I went! They were all in a similar state having lived the highlights of Swindon the night before at Oooh Beehive.

beehive Despite this, energy was not lacking as Dave MCed us through an incredible night of words.

I have not made a PTS for some months and it was great to be back in this wonderful venue, sitting next to Rob who was enjoying a night off from jumping up and down on stage and instead was able to enjoy the evening.

Everyone performed phenomenally well and it was great to see/hear new talent too.

Mogs performed a brilliantly funny set as always, treating us to some of the best from his book of children’s poetry. pypwl-front-cover

It was great to catch a whole set from R.M. Francis, thoroughly enjoyed and I realised it had been a while since I experienced Rob’s poetry back to back, good to hear him in full flow again.

Steve Pottinger performed some of my favourite recent poems of his, I love his train journey to Mars, no spoilers… okay, they terminate in Wolves…

Casey Bailey was his usual, incredible self. Playing his adopted by Wednesbury card to pacify the Brummie in the room situation and celebrated his latest collection ‘Adjusted’.

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https://caseybailey.bigcartel.com/

It was an incredible night and I am so glad Claire Walker sent a message saying she was going because it has been ages (or at least feels that way) since we caught up and was lovely sharing such a special night with friends. Plus Claire and I are booking some special work of our own in, we hope before the summer. I shared 3 of my 30 NaPo poems and a t-shirt quip. Shame I wasn’t wearing a poetry t-shirt, that would have won battle of the bands for sure!

Great to catch up with a room full of poetry friends and to be back in the Black Country, to see first hand one of the 5 events in this programme and to be able to tell them what an epic group of poets they are on feedback forms (well, if you do go and get Arts Council funding). I may not have written the word epic but I said some very pleasant things that I know someone else magpied (stole) for their feedback form.

If you can, catch the next one on the 15th May, you will NOT be disappointed!

And if you want to catch their original show head over to Stoke-on-Trent.

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Collaborative Set in the Black Country – Performing Poetry

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This year I am achieving something I attempted in 2015 (and failed) to perform less and write more. I will still support the regular open mic poetry events I enjoy, just not on a monthly basis. I am always on the look out for new and unusual places to share my words and accept such opportunities readily.

I met Dave Reeves in 2013 on my first return to the poetry mic with Julie Boden in Leamington. He MCed the event as well as performing with his squeeze box and harmonica.

Among many other things Dave does, he is Poet in Residence at the Black Country Living Museum (which is well worth a visit/ family day out). https://www.bclm.co.uk/learning/poet-in-residence/453.htm

The Works’ Canteen is a monthly spoken word night hosted by Dave Reeves and is an event I have scribbled in my diary before now.

There are headliners and open floor spots available and with the £3 admission comes free tea/coffee from the Rolfe Street Café. Which was much appreciated, as was the irony of having a Breakfast Tea at 7:30 pm.

https://www.bclm.co.uk/learning/the-works-canteen/758.htm


 

Tuesday 1 March 2016

 Guest poets: Jan Watts plus R.M.Francis presenting  Permission to Speak b2tf jan MM3 Rob Francis

Jan Watts, poet and playwright returns in words to Wales for St David’s day. Join the former Birmingham Poet Laureate and find out about Flat Head, Di Bungalow and the food you have to eat  in one day on a Pembrokeshire Farm. If you want to know what Jan’s surname almost became – this is a one time offer to find out.

Rob Francis runs the ‘Permission to Speak’ nights in Stourbridge. Tonight he’s been given a permit to The Works’ Canteen where he’ll be introducing some of the regulars from the spoken word and music venue.

MC for the evening is the Black Country Living Museum’s poet-in-residence, Dave Reeves and, as usual, there will be floor spots available.


I was one of Robert’s poets representing a cross-section from PTS. It was great being part of a collective and I enjoyed listening to all the sets.

Jan Watts was fabulous, as always. She opened her set miming putting daffodils in a vase, it was St. David’s Day and she had left the bunch of real flowers on her passenger seat!

The open mic spots were good and it was a pleasure to hear some poets I had not met before. It was a lively and enjoyable night in the café behind the gift shop. I hope to make it back in a few months time.

MM dave pw

© Peter Williams 2015 KAF ‘Mostly Circus’ Mouth & Music

RELATED LINKS:

Dave’s website http://www.textician.co.uk/

KAF – Liz Berry and Blair Dunlop – 13th August

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KAF is Kidderminster Arts Festival and this is my 2nd year of experiencing it. The programme is always varied and there were a lot of great events that I was unable to make this year. I managed just three in the end. I love the use of space in the town, the different types of venue that get used and repurposed spaces. The murals get repainted and this year there was even national news coverage of Banksy, but it wasn’t and the local artists knew that, a bit of fun.

I booked this event at the beginning of the July, a day after Early Bird tickets!

This one was something I was very much looking forward to. I have known Liz Berry by name and poems since almost the beginning of this poetry odyssey, discovering her in 2014. I bought ‘Black Country’ ages ago and loved hearing her accent through the words. I have seen her at Poetry Festivals but I entered the scene around the same time she became a mum, so understandably she wasn’t on the circuit. This year however, she is back and I recommend you try to catch her live as her performance is gentle, captivating and powerful. There is nothing quite like hearing a poet’s native voice reading their own work.

KAF 2015

Liz Berry’s debut collection, Black Country, published in 2014, was a Poetry Book Society recommendation, an Observer Porety Book of the Month and won the Forward Prize for Best FIrst Collection. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, been broadcast on BBC Radio and recorded for the Poetry Archive. KAF Programme © 2015

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BBC Radio Folk Award winner Blair Dunlop is touring the UK promoting his second album House of Jack. He’s an award winning sing/songwriter, who brings beautifully craftedsongs to the stage. Q Magazine – ‘Old folk meets nu and gets on famously well, an exciting glimpse of where ‘traditional’folk might go.’ Acoustic Magazine – ’11 timeless originals, beautifully played and sung throughout.’ KAF Programme © 2015

August 13th 2015

It was a magical evening at St George’s Church, a great venue. The sun was setting behind the huge circular stained glass window as Blair opened the set. Later on a pink light glowed and shone arcs across the huge white back wall of the church, it was a beautiful spectacle. Blair’s music transported me elsewhere and filled me with inspiration. He is an extremely talented folk musician, with a great future ahead of him. Liz & Blair were both amazing & I watched knowing I was part of something very special.

It was great meeting Liz Berry, so warm and chatting to everyone who had gathered or queued to speak to her, giving real time to us. Making connections.

I had unfortunately forgotten my copy of Black Country as I found out about my brother’s birthday meal at 5pm and they were meeting a town away at 6pm. I rushed in – gifted my brother, ordered, ate, paid and rushed off again to get to St. George’s. I have since found out that Liz Berry will be headlining at SpeakEasy in Worcester in December, in actual fact she was also headlining Poetry Bites along with Jane Commane last night and despite going straight from work, I remembered to pack the book and was able to get it signed last night.

It looks like Liz Berry will join John Hegley as my most seen poets of 2015, but don’t worry I am NOT a stalker, ask Jo Bell!

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You can BUY a copy of Black Country for yourself here Random House

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/things-to-see-do-and-visit/art-entertainment/kaf-kidderminster-arts-festival/kaf-2015.aspx

http://www.kidderminsterartsfestival.org.uk/