Tag Archives: BLF

September Review

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This month seems to have disappeared in a flash, looking at events listings it is no wonder. The thing I have been coming to terms with this month is missing events either because of clashing dates or lack of energy/needing some gaps in my schedule. It is something every artist has to overcome at some point, just wishing there was a fast cure. If I am really busy I tend not to look at the events calendars on social media as I know they will show places I want to be. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

Writing diary My 2014 Poetry Diary

The desk In Tray is filled with admin tasks I need to take a firm hold over, the house needs sorting out (still), the diary is filling up and my weekly schedule is brimming. The mortgage payments are coming from savings as there is no paid work this early in the term, I have been lucky in recent years to have had work by now. My agent is on secondment, so I keep calling the office in vague hope… it will come but probably when I am at Swindon Poetry Festival. Perhaps it is a godsend as there is no way I could manage the poetry workload and a day job!

I have decided not to worry, repeat the mantra every freelancer knows, ‘money will come’ and just get stuck into my projects and plans.

creative commons park Howell Storytelling1Creative Commons © 2015

This month planning meetings were initiated in Warwick & Rugby for my work with Warwickshire Libraries – Reader in Residence through WMRN. I was so excited when Roz Goddard approached me to apply in the summer. I spent a long time on the application and just kept my fingers crossed for a successful bid. I follow in some mighty footsteps created by Readers in Residence: Jean Atkin, Andy Killeen (2014) and Deborah Alma (2015).

Since August I have completed hours of research and two planning meetings with library staff in Warwick and Rugby. Now I have the schedule and an idea of what is required for my residency which will officially start in November and run until March.

 

A New Design (5)

I also facilitated my first adult workshops in over 12 years. Workshops are something I have wanted to get back into for a long time. I just needed the springboard and it takes years to construct a new one! It was an absolute delight and feedback has been positive. I started planning my WPL workshops back in June and met up with the venues Event Manager back in July. The Sculpture Trail (which was the base stimuli for my Poetry Workshop) arrived on site late August and was open to the public on the 25th August. I went to the grand opening at the Jinney Ring and took plenty of notes and some photos. I then busily planned the workshop and tested the material out on myself.

This month I was contacted by several people for commissioned work and booked performances.

Week 1:

There were only 3 days in this week. I had hoped to make it across to Birmingham for Case Bailey’s Book Launch (he crowd funded this venture earlier in the year) and also to get back to Walsall for ‘Yes We Cant’* to see Gerry Potter who I discovered for the first time in January at Wolverhampton Arts Festival. Neither plan worked as an eventful life weekend meant I couldn’t manage the travel.

yes we cant gerry potter

*as in brick.

Week 2:

Term started back (without me) but I started back the same day. I added a second date to the Jinney Ring Poetry Workshops, tickets for the first one SOLD OUT by the end of August.

I started to organise INKSPILL (my online writing retreat) hosted on this blog for FREE in October.

I had my first WMRN Reader in Residence meeting in Warwick with a team of Librarians to plan what it might look like.

I went back across to Coventry in the evening for a night at the Inspire Cafe and Antony Owen’s book launch of The Nagasaki Elder.

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The following morning I did my first talk as a Poet. This was part of the Second Friday Story Series facilitated by Sue Johnson at Evesham Library. This opportunity was booked back in July and it was a good morning. There are now more plans afoot for a Evesham Festival of Words Fringe Event. The other speakers were Tom Bryson, a local Crime Writer and Ashleigh Jayes.

I spent the past few weeks organising a Poetry Event for the Salt Festival. A group of poets joined me at Canal Side Studios in the Square to perform poems. This year the festival moved location to Vine’s Park, the rain was torrential and there was even a thunderstorm, the whole event was set up with foot passers in mind and there weren’t many there – however, some stayed for a while and a few poets came to watch/support us. We all had fun.

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Week 3:

Started with food poisoning! I am not used to feeling ill now I no longer work a stressful 80 hour week. Staying under a blanket and feeling sorry for myself, watching trashy TV and not reaching my desk was quite hard. I also missed Licensed to Rhyme and a plethora of poets I hadn’t seen in ages.

I was approached to be part of a new commission. A current collaboration between a composer and a visual artist. how could I resist? It may also lead to more workshop work, which would be superb.

Credo Liz Johnson © 2017

I met with the Chair of the International Twin Town Committee to discuss my European Poetry Project. It is wonderful to have these WPL ideas met with so much enthusiasm.

I had my third radio slot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding and read my new hometown poem ‘Not on the High Street’.

In the evening, I headlined a split set at Permission to Speak, back in it’s home venue with shiny new owners and a gorgeous new stage. Claptrap is a perfect venue for all us performers. It was lovely to be reunited with everyone.

SpeakEasy

Three things in one day meant I was certainly ready to sleep. The following day I took more bookings and in the evening I headlined as WPL at SpeakEasy. It truly was a night of passion, emotion and brilliant performers. It was noted that all four Flash Fiction Slam Champions were in the same room at the same time! It was great to see Andrew Owens again. I have missed him loads, as has everybody else. Kieran Davis gifted me a belated congratulations present – a book I cannot wait to get stuck into!

I spent Friday missing submission deadlines, planning and writing.

WWM

The weekend saw the start of a new term and a new group for Spark Young Writers – Writing West Midlands in Worcester at The Hive. Emails sent to workshop participants and last minute flapping (packing) for the Sculpture Trail Workshop.

Week 4: 

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I facilitated my first adult workshop in 12 years at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre – Sculpture & Poetry Workshop, it was a great success and now I wait in anticipation of finished poems which we plan to exhibit on site at the restaurant in November.

I researched and wrote some WW1 poetry for a commission, I have been working away on these since August, mainly reading and research. Finally the words presented themselves and I managed to write three poems for this project.

I spent time with the Contour submission pile. Contour is an online digital magazine for my tenure as Worcestershire Poet Laureate. The first issue (out next month) deals with PLACE as a theme, Worcestershire to be exact.

Copy of Food Magazine Flyer Template (2)

I had my 2nd WMRN Reader-in-Residence meeting and the first one on site at Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library. It was a productive meeting and now I have my schedule and remit finalised for this role. I am currently spending hours at the desk researching and preparing, I will write a Guest Blog soon and reblog it here on AWF and then I start officially at the Library in November. This residency runs until March 2018 and is something I am very much looking forward to.

I finished writing poetry for Credo – Creative Synergy – the project/performance I was asked to contribute poetry to at the end of the month.

The ‘Adam Speaks’ NT project (which completes on the 25th November) took another twist and I am busy writing for that.

We had a fabulous Poetry Society Stanza meeting and I finished the week with a Room 204 Performance event at Edmunds Brewhouse, Birmingham. A catch up with family and a reunion with college friends.

Week 5:

Mr G and I went to see the Black Angels. A much anticipated gig, the tickets have been pinned to the fridge for months. It has been years since we last saw them.

Lit Allsorts BLF

I performed as part of a pre-event for Birmingham Literature Festival at Waterstones. Literary Allsorts – A Room 204 showcase.

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Then it was Christmas… I mean National Poetry Day. I blogged a lot, wrote some poems in the local library and went to support Voices of 1919.

The performance of this book by actors was moving and superb.

I performed in Credo-Creative Synergy, an event Liz Johnson asked me to be part of earlier this month back at Elmslie House, Malvern the night after Voices of 1919. This was an incredible project to become part of and I am grateful to Liz for approaching me to be involved. A blog post is owed.

I travelled down to London for Free Verse the Poetry Book Fair where I performed alongside Stephen Daniels in a V. Press Reading. I have been promising myself a trip to this book fair for a few years now, so to get down there and have an opportunity to perform was a double bonus. I had a fantastic day and absorbed an incredible amount of performances, readings and books!

 

 

 

 

Meetings – The Good Sort!

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I am way behind on my blogging and need to catch up with myself before October.

Meeting 1

On the 12th of September I met the other 3 poets involved in the Naked Lunch commission for Birmingham Literature Festival. Meeting

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I had met Aysha Begum, a talented poet and winner of the OXJAM Slam earlier this summer in Birmingham, she also facilitated Bridge the Gap – the event on the canal boat so her name may be familiar to you too. Hannah J Graham (thank you for the photos) and Amanda Hemmings are the other poets contributing to this project.

Now we have started writing for the commission and have just a fortnight before we perform. Christopher Baker and Joe Whitehouse are the brains behind Naked Lunch, organising and promoting events for Spoken Word Artists. They claim not to be poets themselves, I am not convinced!

Our performance is on 11th OCTOBER in the Foyer at the Library of Birmingham as part of the final weekend of events for the Birmingham Literature Festival, which starts on this Thursday on the 2nd of October. blf ikon 4

They announce the new Poet Laureate in the evening, I know two of the finalists this year, Matt Man Windle and Jasmine Gardosi …. I wish them both all the luck in the world. One poet is a champion boxer, the other a Karate expert…. it could be the first fight between poets, who knows!

Poet Laureate (you can read the candidates poems here)

I should be in the library to hear them and the other shortlisted poems perform their city poems. Shortlisted candidates;

Adrian Blackledge, Andy Connor, Jasmine Gardosi, Pauline Morgan and Matt Man Windle

Digbeth Garden Hannah J Graham © HJ Graham 2014

Anyway back to the meeting, we explored the community garden in Digbeth and spent some time talking to each other, discussing the project and theme.

SATURDAY 11th OCT. 4 -4:30pm

FREE

Urban Nature – find out more about this project/ performance here

Birmingham Literature Festival

 

Before hot footing it back on a train to get to my Stanza Meeting. I had spent most of the day trying to write a new poem to take, but as time ran out I had a look through recent writing and picked a poem I was not altogether happy with.

Meeting 2

It was a packed and busy night at Stanza, hosted this month by Ian Glass, who had been at work at all day and like the rest of us couldn’t believe how many poets had turned up. Enough to give the ‘youth’, whose parents had gone out and left a crowd of noisy teens rampaging in their garden a run for their money! Despite this distraction the atmosphere inside was as special and electrifying as I always find stanza meetings to be.

stanza scrabble I also had lots of helpful advice from other people on editing and strengthening my poem. Which I have left brewing in a drawer for a few weeks, before culling and reworking starts.

I find these meetings helpful and sociable, we never stop learning and I love hearing people performing their material post edit somewhere public and feeling privileged that I heard it before it had its best clothes on.

And this month Claire Walker had baked an amazing cake for our meeting – with butter icing and foraged forest fruits – which gave me a great idea for One Year A Poet – my anniversary/ Birthday celebration of poetry.

Meeting 3

Was the very next day, where Ian MacLeod and I saw our WWM Writing West Midlands group come back together at the start of a new year/term. It was a fun session.

WWM

My one to one mentoring role starts next month, which I am looking forward to.

After the meeting I had to rush off into Birmingham to watch a live radio interview recording with Lenny Henry, followed by watching him in Ruddy’s Rare Records at The Rep. Big, BIG thanks to Andrea Smith for the tickets and beautiful company! Andrea bernard Davis

 

Review of August

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Can’t believe it is the end of August already! What a CRazY month it has been – especially when I consider last year (in my first year of writing before I had found my poetry feet) I practically took the whole month off! Although I think that had more to do with resigning from my job and enjoying the last summer off on full pay for a while!

August saw; a plethora of birthday celebrations, wedding outfit shopping, allotmenting, garden centre visits, new plants, harvesting vegetables, catching up with friends and family, as well as Arts/Music festivals, one off events, performances and Book Launches!

August is always busy because it is summer and I don’t work (or get paid) < before you get too jealous. This month I may not have gone on holiday but I did extend my birthday celebrations over several weeks and it wasn’t even a significant one! Who needs a holiday when the 6 weeks poeting took me all over the Midlands.

Zebra© 2014 Rangzeb Hussain

Blogs and Projects

52 continues – as it will all year – I am now planning a catch up though before I start back to work as I have missed some weeks.

Last month I wrote about Naked Lungs and a project/performance for Birmingham Literature Festival. I presumed they had picked other participants to collaborate as I hadn’t had an email. There was an email. It just didn’t get to me! Momentarily dancing around the lounge… My next exciting venture to work on, the performance is October 11th, a week after my brother’s wedding.

INKSPILL a free online writing retreat I run from this Blog at the end of October 25th/26th is in full swing (organisation), more on this soon – September will be full of tasters and teasers.

ONE YEAR A POET – I am also busy organising a celebration of my first year back in the world of poetry and it was also the point at which the 1st 9 months of a writing life bore fruition – in terms of work and being a writer. There are lots of poets/artists lined up and it should be a cracker!

BLOG The blog now has 781 follower just 3 people joined this month. The most popular post continues to be my articles about Short Story Writing

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Writing Short Stories – Tips on Planning and Structure More stats 438
Writing Short Stories – Tips on Narrative Structure & The Writing Process More stats 279

This may have to do with being linked on educational sites, or just they were dang good posts!

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Submission

I worked on lots of writing this month, I regret not spending more time on my pamphlet submission, I lost confidence with it and shelved it, only to dust it off again on the deadline day – when by the time the writing was finished I was half an hour late leaving for an event, speed reading is not to  proofreading, needless to say I came home and found 3 mistakes!

I sent poetry to Bombay Gin, Paragram, Barrelhouse and a portion of a pamphlet to VPress.

Publishing

I worked with proof copies of GBWO and Restless Bones Poetry Anthology.

HCE Here Comes Everyone Published my poem ‘Falling into Line’, written especially for the Boy/Girl Issue of the magazine, it is available online and as a print copy.

 

Performing Poetry

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Performing Poetry – the links will take you to blogposts about the events.

All over the Midlands this month, I have (as always) missed some events – because I am human mainly, once I find my superhero self I shall fly out to all gigs… Mr G also booked a fortnight off work.

The month started amazingly with A Night with Maya Angelou – organised by Jordan Garvey and Shakti Women. I watched a video of my performance for the 1st time, it was a little uncomfortable.

Maya Angelou

Mouth and MusicWar & Peace A great evening hosted by Sarah Tamar, I was expecting the subject matter to weigh heavy – but the evening was as vibrant and uplifting as always.

War and Peace

PFL Poetry For Lunch – The Funny One with Andrea Smith

Birthday Stanza – a normal Stanza meeting where I took CAKE! Great to be back with the Stanza crowd, first meeting in 2 months, due to clashing dates and performances.

Stanza

Bridge the Gap – an intergenerational tea party on a canal boat – the brainchild of Aysha Begum(Beetfreaks). My first time on a moving canal boat and therefore also the first time I have performed on one!

Poetry on a Boat

Restless Bones Poetry Anthology – Book Launch – Restless Bones raises money for Born Free Foundation, protecting animals against the fur trade. The book launch was at Akamba an African Heritage Centre in Solihull, a fitting environment. It was a great night and it is a great book. Details on how to buy your copy, coming soon.

Book Launch

42 Drummonds – An open mic/ off theme night at 42. A small and select crowd, a great night of story, poetry and theatre.

Worcester Music Festival Humdrum Express – Ian Passey organised a menu of bands and supporting poets for a great night at The Swan and Two Nicks.

Worcester Music Festival Word & Sound – Amanda Bonnick and Jenny Hope organise Word & Sound nights and this one was hosted by Amanda as part of the music festival. It was a cracking night with some stellar performances. Crème de la crème!

(Links to follow)

 

Performances and Events

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I don’t always perform, sometimes I just enjoy the Arts and support friends and fellow poets.

Benches – Jan Watts Book Launch / Off the Page Event – starting on the canal and finishing in the Library of Birmingham.

Launch

I have since read and reviewed the book. This link is the blogpost and details on how to buy your own copy can be found here.

Review

SpeakEasy – a night of poetry hosted by Maggie Doyle.

SpeakEasy

Naked Lungs -They have booked me to perform next month so I thought I would go along and check it out. Glad I did, great night. Performers included Ian Bowkett and Ben Norris.

 

My writing life/ The Poet Within

August has been a funny month – action packed but also dippy in emotional stakes, belief in my writing, confidence drooping in my ability to perform, inner gremlins getting a look in. I suppose the more seriously I take myself the more this may happen or it could have been some of the subject matter covered by this month’s writing. Or the pressure I placed on myself to complete this month’s submissions and performances. It doesn’t look more than usual but considering I took about 10 days off completely, it is a LOT! August has produced many new poems and some still have slightly rough edges. My writing spirit is high!

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

August

My Writing Life: News

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Yesterday I had no internet connection! This is an offline post I wrote:

Mr G and I went out on Sunday, for treats and garden/house shopping, after a lovely morning together, (on the last free Sunday I have for about 5 weeks) I popped onto the blog to leave a few posts… low and behold, the phone lines were down in my town… last time I remember this was after a storm many years ago… cannot believe it in the 21st Century, but there you go no internet.

I have decided to write all my posts offline ready to post and go out with Mr G for a lovely Steak meal and forget all about the world I could access… where some very important news was waiting for me in my inbox!

I am very excited about all the wonderful things happening to me right now in the world of writing.

Firstly, at the end of May I applied to Naked Lungs to take part in a pop up poetry event at the next Birmingham Literature Festival this year in October. It is a paid gig too! WOWZERS! Typically they have been inundated with creatives applying to be part of this half hour event, so we have been invited to meet/interview with them to discuss our proposals. blf logo

Unfortunately, it was a day I was working full time, I emailed with possible solutions to this problem, then late last week the agency rang and my days got changed about into 2 half days, freeing up potential time on Monday and Tuesday, I now need to decide which slot will be better for me, traffic-wise I guess Tuesday morning is the better option, just hope I can get to work on time! (I received confirmation today my interview is Tuesday morning.)

It is exciting and I hope it provides an opportunity.

Secondly, it is the 4th Worcester LitFest & Fringe starting at the end of this week and I am happy to announce my involvement.

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I have been asked to take part in the Pop Up Poets event on Sunday 22nd, it looks great fun.

WLF 42

I am also one of eight performers who will take to the stage at 42, have to get some dark poetry ready for that set. I think my recent poem about Martha Graham, written for the 52 project may be a suitable starting point. Maybe I will dust the Zombie poem off for another outing.

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The SpeakEasy Worcs LitFest special was originally invited guests only, I was one of the poets asked to do a 6 minute set. I am looking forward to both of these events and the headline acts.

I am busily involved in other open mic events and workshop/ performances right up until the end of June. Living the dream… 8 months in!

There are even more exciting events taking place in July.

I am performing on stage with The Poetry Army – Brainfruit, in my hometown and also hope to attend the pre-show workshop if Writing West Midlands can find cover for the Worcester group.  poetryarmy

I am attending the Born Free Anthology Book Launch, reading my poems from the book, along with others at various venues in Birmingham, starting with The Ort, where I was hoping to perform with Tim Scarborough again but he has other commitments for the rest of the Summer on Fridays and can’t manage it. I am performing a solo set instead. born free

Tim and I hadn’t actually seen each other for weeks as we were both performing individually for the last Mouth and Music. Where he performed an incredible set of poetry written about his late wife, poems I was honoured to help him edit. Not that they needed much work. We decided mm that we will collaborate for the next Mouth and Music on the theme of Summer. I look forward to squeezing some rehearsal time in!

I am going back to Acton Scott Farm to take part in a celebratory afternoon of Jean Atkin’s residency, including reading some ASF poetry from the workshop day. acton Where I also hope to finally buy my copy of DIP by Andrew Fusek Peters.

I am going to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where Jo Bell is the resident poet for the annual Literature Festival, she has organised a 52 picnic, where there will be so many of us hoping to perform we will be selected from a raffle to perform our 52 poems.

I have been so busy this year that I haven’t always managed to write my weekly poem in time to submit it to the 52 group, I have however, tried to catch up, I still have a few missing weeks and I really miss reading other people’s poetry because you learn so much, I hope to catch up with it this summer. Morning-Sun-mit

AND excitedly I share news that came after this was written and will have a post of its own. I got published!