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A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache by Charley Barnes – Book Launch

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Sometimes in the writing world you have to keep secrets, occasionally even official embargo’s are placed on you. I knew Charley Barnes was joining V. Press and I was delighted (but wasn’t allowed to announce my joy)!

So when Charley asked me to be one of her Guest Poets I felt doubly honoured. During the evening Claire Walker and I discovered just how influential we had been supporting Charley’s dive into the publication of poetry. It is wonderful when you realise the impact you have made on someone’s writing goals. I am in debt to those who have helped me realise mine and know how it feels. There were nearly tears!

So let’s backtrack a little. Charley has just published her debut collection with V. Press ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’ and it is a fabulous pamphlet, full of life, love, difficulties and lessons.

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It was released on the 11th July and the Book Launch took place on the 14th. Charley’s Guest Poets were myself, Holly Magill, Claire Walker and Sarah Leavesley.

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It was a fantastic celebration of life and poetry and all took place (as many V. Press launches do), at the wonderful Park’s Cafe in Droitwich. It was made extra special by falling into the Artsfest and being advertised as part of the Festival programme.

Which also meant Rhys Jones (Droitwich Arts Network) was in attendance with his camera to capture some spectacular moments throughout the evening.

All photographs © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network, unless otherwise stated.

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After an introduction which nearly made me blub I was the first Guest Reader. I had compiled a set which was my own A Z-hearted Guide through heartache and hoped that Charley enjoyed it. I did think (afterwards) that I should have done some of her favourite poems of mine. Hindsight…

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My set included a brand new poem and some I had not performed before.

Next was Holly Magill who treated us to a set from her own debut pamphlet, The Becoming of Lady Flambé’, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Another strong collection of Poetry.

the becoming holly magill More information here. The book was published in June and Holly’s official launch happens later this summer.

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Then Charley treated us to poems from her NEW book!

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Before an interval of book sales and signing! Although I had plenty of opportunities to buy the pamphlet, I made myself wait until the launch. It is a bit like waiting for Christmas and is something I tend to force myself to do whenever possible!

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You can buy a copy for yourselves here and can also read a sample poem from the collection.

“The poems in A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache will make you re-think your relationship with pizza, garlic bread and your mobile phone. These sharp, sad and wry observations – on the reality of living with mental illness and disability, the heartbreak of the everyday, and perseverance despite everything – capture what it is to be twenty-something, in love, and healing through food. This is an exciting debut pamphlet from a new and honest voice.” Jenna Clake

“In her debut pamphlet, Charley Barnes examines the reality of heartbreak and its different forms, highlighting how aspects of modern society can play – often brutally – on our insecurities: the wish to be prettier, more popular, more lovable. These poems deftly explore the bitter, lasting sting of loss and how it shapes us. Yet there is also the tenderness of possibility at play – a sweetness to offset the sharpness encountered by a young woman trying to navigate her way; a knowing, self-deprecating humour that shines through, even in dark experiences. There is a wisdom of the importance of nurturing here, accompanied by the will that, whatever happens, ‘you have to keep going, don’t you?’ (‘The lie my mum told me’).” Claire Walker

Then came the second half of the evening with Guest Poet, Claire Walker. I always enjoy listening to Claire’s work and those hindsight fairies made it to her door, as she delivered a set including some of Charley’s favourite poems.

Additional treasure came from her recount of the love her girls have for Charley… or Charley Barnes as they call her.

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It all starts with an acorn‘, a poem in Charley’s pamphlet will reveal a little more to you.

Sarah Leavesley a prolific poet in her own right and editor/publisher at V. Press was the final Guest Poet. It was good to hear some poems from her latest collection again, having recently enjoyed her own launch of How to Grow Matches – published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

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This collection was shortlisted for the  International Rubery Book Award 2018.

The evening concluded with another wonderful set from Charley, who had mainly shared her more lighthearted work in the first half and waited for the end to take our breath away with the more serious poems in her book.

A true gift of an evening. Thoroughly enjoyed by us all, as captured here in this group shot!

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© Harriet Barnes – whose direction made this photo what it is.

A fantastic night – five poets on a high for sometime after the Launch!

A Night of Light

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

I had the pleasure of attending a Book Launch on Thursday night. It had been an exceptionally long and somewhat emotional day at work and then I had to dash off for more work before heading across to the suburbs to catch a train into the city. My train was delayed with a 15 minute wait in between stations, déjà vu to my last post-Book Launch ride home, which took the best part of an hour (three times the journey). I managed to arrive just in time, but not looking too fresh after all my whizzing around!

I am so glad I made it though as it was a most special evening. Part of me knew it would be because – it was David Calcutt’s Launch.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

I know that some of the poems in this new collection The last of the light is not the last of the light, published by Fair Acre Press, are going to be a hard read, tissues on stand by and I was worried that I may fall apart during the launch but the set David chose suited us celebrating his poetry perfectly.

There was music from Glen Buglass, poetry from Nadia Kingsley, Roz Goddard, Helen Calcutt and even a Harmonica, cakes, Prosecco and BOOKS.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

We were in the Art Room, which is where I had my own Book Launch back in 2016. The evening was hosted by Jonathan Davidson and the room was full of poets, friends and family. With the talented work of photographer Wayne Fox, whose images will hopefully capture something of the experience for you. Thank you to Wayne for allowing me to use his work in this review.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

Despite knowing I would write a review, I really felt that not taking notes was important. I wanted to be 100% present. The evening began with music from Glen Buglass , it ended with music and in between we were treated to some fine poetry.

Nadia Kingsley was the first poet to take a spot, as Editor of Fair Acre Press this was a fitting start. Nadia and David have a working relationship that stretches back years. I loved Nadia telling us that the initial seed for their collaborative work started through a conversation they had a poetry festival whilst waiting in a queue to buy books! I saw them perform together in Kidderminster and bought both books Roadkill and Through the Woods. Nadia writes a lot about Nature, and treated us to a set of superb poems and spoke about David and the opportunity and pleasure of publishing this collection.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

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Helen Calcutt read poems from her forthcoming V. Press collection ‘Unable Mother’ which launches in September. She told us she was honoured to be one of the Guest Poets and had not expected it. Her set took us through womanhood, motherhood, nature and loss.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

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© 2018 Elaine Christie

Following on was Roz Goddard who read some poems from her Flarestack Pamphlet ‘Spill’ and others. She lifted me with her poem about the joy of Buddhism. Another beautiful set.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

 

Then we had an interval of books, cake and Prosecco. I had planned to mingle like mad, but with so many people in the room I wanted to talk to, this was impossible. I barely made it from my seat, I managed to catch up with five people – although hugging with Prosecco & cake hands is a fine art!

Sadly, I missed a chat with Helen (who flew off to teach Dance) and wasn’t there at the end when I managed my mingle.

The room was a hive of activity and it took professional shepherding to get us all back to our seats.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

Before Jonathan introduced David, there was more music.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

David shared just six poems, although true to his impromptu style changed his mind on at least one, I wasn’t counting – he may have added or substituted. Whatever he did, it was magical to hear. I think most people bought the collection so we will be able to read it for ourselves, it is always memorable to hear the poet read their own words.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

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I was grateful that the light was very much present throughout the evening and in David’s set. And to finish the night- we were treated to a musical duet. I don’t think I have ever heard the musician David Calcutt and it was a treat. I was certainly transported to Mississippi, lost on dreams of travel I thoroughly enjoyed this highlight.

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© 2018 @waynefoxphotography

It was great to catch up with friends and Birmingham, to find pockets of time to catch up with Stuart Bartholomew and to buy the book. I had a good mingle after the event and managed to catch up with most people.

 

A thoroughly enjoyable Book Launch with a relaxed atmosphere. A perfect evening.

calcutt  If you click the cover you can buy a copy for yourself.

“This is a collection full of grace, at once deeply authentic and heart-felt, a set of beautiful lyrical poems.”

 

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When You Miss Something BIG!

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On Friday night I had hoped to make it to Birmingham Waterstones for the Verve Poetry Press Book Launch of Leon Priestnall and Nafeesa Hamid’s Debut collections.

Sadly I was up to my eyeballs with assessment data/report writing and test marking at work and by the time 6 PM arrived I was asleep on the settee. I have heard it was an incredible night and I was looking forward to reconnecting with the city and seeing these two perform.

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Some photos from the evening.

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Leon Priestnall is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. In his work, he isn’t setting himself up as any kind of answer – he is as wrong as he is right, behaves badly as often as correctly. Often too confused to be able to move – beyond lighting another cigarette, taking another drink, running for the door – or speak. Often trapped inside the circle of his thoughts, which are a riot of possibilities and recriminations, what-ifs and why-nots.

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Learning that your mind and body have been taken hostage is one thing. Learning how to take them back is another. What if those that are returned are different to the ones that were lost?

Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming.

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I am sure they will both be busy on the circuit promoting these fine collections, I am still not forgiving myself for missing the launch. I am sure I will, eventually.

If you ever get a chance to see either of them perform grasp it with both hands and be ready to stomp your feet!

A Week of Poeting

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I cannot believe that this week we enter JUNE! Still packing as much as I can into May. Today I am trying to submit work, chasing deadlines and later I will join lots of poets celebrating the launch of Dirty Laundry by Deborah Alma, published by Nine Arches Press. Which is somewhat ironic as I have tackled two laundry loads today! Her guest readers are: Pat Edwards, Meg Cox, Roz Goddard & Angela France so a superb night is guaranteed!  Going for a pre-Launch tea too, which will be lovely.

I am gutted to discover the Nine Arches party (celebrating 10 years in a day long programme of events) is on a date I am already booked in Worcester & Stratford. I discovered this a few weeks ago, so looking forward to seeing people tonight instead.

I also have a passport to renew, discovered they now allow digital photos to be uploaded so either today or tomorrow in front of the camera. I am getting very excited about Australia now and have booked in to some of the Fringe (Pre-Festival Launch) events too.

I am off to Worcester tomorrow for 42, on Friday I will finally make Stanza and over the weekend I am toying with the idea of spending hard earned cash on Andrew Motion at the MAC. I am undecided due to the fact that I blanked it out of the writing diary with work the following week and a ton of report writing and assessments to plough through!

I did miss Hay and cannot get to majority of Ledbury due to work, so I might treat myself.

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I am working on The Twin Town European Poetry Exchange and the Science/Maths Anthology ‘Every Word Counts’ and trying not to think about handing over the crown in two weeks time!

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Mr. G. and I spent the Bank Holiday weekend ensconced in Garden Centres where I bought myself a small rabbit (not a real one), the plan this summer is to create a writing nook and this lil’ fella will be right at home watching me and making sure I do some work!

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We also enjoyed breakfast out on Sunday and several take-aways, I caught up with family and had my penultimate WWM Spark Young Writers session, informing the group it will be my last one next month was hard and their reaction… bless them. They do not want me to go, one even suggested writing a letter! But it is the nature of the work and WWM want other people to be offered these opportunities. It has been amazing!

Today I received lovely messages of thanks from some of the students at Blessed Edwards for our Living Library event held last week. Special.

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The event was great fun, I have seen posts on Social Media for the past few years and thought about how I could get involved. So it was fabulous to be one of the Living Writers, it was the sort of thing I would have loved as a kid. Thanks to Linda Bromyard for the booking and for being one of the most creative, proactive Librarians in Education I know.

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I will write a full post soon, that list is stacking up!

Mainly I am enjoying not working this week and having time to write and breathe!

 

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
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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:

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Against the Pull of Time Book Launch

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Back in April I had the pleasure of attending a book launch in my local Library, Against the Pull of Time is the latest pamphlet by Jenna Plewes, published by V. Press. It was a lovely way to spend a sunny Friday evening.

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The poems in this book were written on retreat on the island of Iona. Although some people in the audience had been there it is not a place I know. Or at least it wasn’t. By the end of the Launch, I felt I knew the geography of Iona and the feeling of the island well.

Jenna’s poems are brimming with a sense of place and left many of us longing to go and explore Iona for ourselves.

During the Q&A following the reading, it was interesting to hear what people thought and to listen to how different poems touched us. This demonstrates the eclectic coverage Jenna’s poems have.

Some people arrived part way through so we were lucky enough to hear some poems twice and listen to some Jenna had not planned to read at the launch.

A relaxed event. If the sun hadn’t been glowing, Jenna’s words alone would have filled the evening with warmth.

Jenna Plewes

Find a sample poem and buy a copy here.

“Against the Pull of Time is a spiritual and physical journey. On the island of Iona Jenna Plewes travels far into herself to come to terms with loss, ageing and mortality. The outer landscape is wonderfully realized. Sea, shore, shells, birds and buildings play a central role in her inner exploration. The immediacy of the pared writing in this sequence, its telling details and the sharing of a deeply-felt experience, draw the reader into Plewes’ journey.” Myra Schneider

“In tender, beautiful and unsentimental language Jenna Plewes takes us on a journey, walking barefoot on wet sand, sitting in a ruined nunnery, musing on the shoreline ‘handcuffed to the sea’. it is a long time since I have read a collection that moved me so. One line somehow says it all: ‘so many things are precious in the leaving and the letting go’. This is a collection I want to read over and over – also rare these days.” Roselle Angwin

Against the Pull of Time is very very deep-rooted and seamlessly woven.

© 2018 V. Press

 

 

The Hill – Angela France Book Launch

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I had the pleasure of going to Cheltenham for Angela France’s Book Launch last week. This was an amazing event. Set in the very place where villagers met to discuss the fate of the hill, there were riots and everything (historically, not on the 20th July).

In fact I spent an hour stuck on a road facing THE hill. So I felt I knew it by the time I arrived at the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The Launch was in the function space, decorated with ribbons and fairy lights and filled with a crowd of poets, locals, friends and family. It was an exceptionally good turn out and the evening shone beautiful sunshine into the space.

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Angela’s latest collection ‘The Hill’ ties together historical fact, modern day thought and the people and places of the hill, significant turning points and lives through the years. It is a project which has seen years of research and uses archive materials as well as creative thought.

I was excited to discover a few months ago whilst working on my own Poetry Collaboration show 30-40-60, that Angela was using multimedia as well. She had the wonderful backing of Elephant’s Footprint Poetry Film (more on them soon) and the added bonus of a remote control. We timed our footage and this left no room for error or pause.

I LOVED the multimedia element, sometimes photos of archives or archived photos, other times narrated letters, modern day film clips, lawful protests and letters to editors, a real blend. I don’t want to give too much detail as I know Angela France is touring this show and I would urge you to go and see it!

It worked really well and Angela’s poetry filled the room. I am really excited about reading this collection. My fascination for people and place is going to be quenched by these poems.

I have not set pen to paper for a while apart from commissioned work, listening to Angela set my mind racing and shook muse awake. I filled pages in my carry about notebook and once home spent 2 hours writing poetry!

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 © Photo Credit Nine Arches Press 2017

It gave me an opportunity to meet some of the Cheltenham poets whose work I published back in June for World Refugee Day. As well as spending time with poets I know and catching up with all their news.

Also an incredible fruitful discussion about Poetry Film with Chaucer Cameron & Helen Dewbery – Elephant’s Footprint. I recently discovered that several successful poets came to their submission decisions and found opportunities at my Book Launch, it looks like I may have just done the same.

A fabulous evening filled with words and community.


This is a book launch with a very special local and historical twist – it takes place in The Wheatsheaf pub where the ‘Leckhampton Stalwarts’, who feature prominently in The Hill, used to meet.

This launch event will also feature Angela France’s multimedia poetry show which accompanies the book and includes the images, maps and voices of the characters Angela found in the archives, as well as a selection of live poems from Angela France interwoven into a compelling story of trespass, place and memory. 

 © Interests Media Ltd 2014-2017

 

 

Diverse Verse 2 The Book Launch

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When I discovered Diverse Verse it had already been produced, so when I saw a call for submissions for Diverse Verse 2, I jumped on it. Charity is a big thing for most people and I love giving art for good causes. I like to try to get involved when I can. So earlier this year, I submitted some work to Richard Archer and was delighted to find myself sharing pages with other great poets from the Midlands.

The proceeds raise money for Cancer Research U.K, a cause close to my heart.

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I was delighted when I found out the Book Launch was on 27th May, as I knew I could make it and if the motorways had allowed it – I would have… I was a little late but fortunately after the drag of a 30 m.p.h traffic quilt managed to miss none of the actual reading!

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It was great to see old friends there and put faces to names I knew. Scott and Amy hosted the Launch at Southcart Books and it was lovely to see them in their new shop.

Unfortunately, due to my delayed arrival and forgetting to reserve a copy, the anthology had sold out before I arrived. I have since ordered and received my copy and look forward to indulging a read (sometime in July, I think I am free)!

You can buy a copy here diverse verse 2

It was a fantastic afternoon of poetry, Scott and Amy had laid on a buffet and the interval was time enough to mingle AND buy books.

I never leave the place empty handed but the treat was on them really. I bought a Rupert Brooke collection and they gifted me a historical hardback that I already have ideas on and a canvas ‘Books are my bag’ bag! What a sweet deal that was.

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There were 20 poets reading and a good number of audience too, even some customers lingered.

Elaine Christie and Scott Carter snapped the photos, I have some of Elaine reading but need to get the mobile talking to the internet to upload them. I will add one of Elaine.

All these poets AND MORE are published in Diverse Verse 2, as I listened I noted poems from their sets I was inspired by – buy the book to discover them for yourselves amongst the pages.

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Richard Archer kicked off proceedings, seconds after I sat down. I met Richard at Permission to Speak but also know him from David Calcutt’s Arboretum Poetry events. His poetry is sometimes hard-hitting, powerful, social commentary and sometimes full out fun. He is the Chairman of Walsall Poetry Society and a truly supportive advocate of poetry in the Midlands.

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Paul Elwell runs a writing workshop group that I recently became involved with, it was good to meet him and put a face to the name. On the back of what he heard from short set and the fact that I had mentioned Worcester, he extended the invite – funny how the universe works like that, isn’t it? I particularly enjoyed his very clever Latin Poem.

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I know Carole Howard from David Calcutt’s Arboretum poetry events. I enjoyed hearing her poem about secrets, which she has performed before at the Arboretum.

 

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Rick Saunders delighted us with his brilliant poem, ‘Goldilocks’. I also enjoyed ‘Cannabis Anarchist’, which I had heard before. Rick is everywhere (I have passed on the ubiquitous mantle to him), but I will never tire of hearing his poems, they make me smile. Rick burst onto the scene late 2016 and I met him at Permission to Speak, where he cut his teeth on spoken word (well, it can be sharp), where he created Willis the Poet – and the story behind that is heartwarming!

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Ian Henery is a poet I have not seen for a while. I liked his poem ‘Walsall Bus Driver’s Prayer’.

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Al Lane, is a new poet to me. I thoroughly enjoyed his set. His nature poem was great and the Disappointment of Parenting was a real treat too.

sc dv9 Samatee read her poem about Mauritius and the Dodo. It was great to see her delight in having poems published. I met Samatee at Stirchley Speaks and have watched her become more confident with her writing and sharing of work. She is a regular at Spoken Trend now too.

sc dv7 Janet Jenkins gave us a wonderful set, I particularly liked her Umbrella poem. I first met Janet properly when I started the Caldmore Garden workshops with David Calcutt. Our paths had passed prior to this and our poetry can be found in the same collections.

 

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Scarlett Ward is a poet I do not know, her work is delicately laced but inside are iron fast ideas. Her poem ‘Wordless’ is incredible. Moving. She reminded me what it was to be young once. The concentrated force of emotions we carry.

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Jon Jack Neil was a poet I discovered just 5 days before in Lichfield, at Poetry Alight. I enjoyed hearing more from him. Particularly his poem ‘The World and His Wife’.

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Amanda Glover is another poet I know through Open Poetry at the Arboretum, her bus poem was great to listen to.

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Jan Hedger had travelled some distance to be at the launch with her sister, both of whom grew up around the area. Jan is a new to me poet and I enjoyed her set. She writes lots about animals (so I knew she would enjoy Elaine’s work). I enjoyed the poem exploring her Birmingham/West Midland roots.

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Ian Ward is someone I have known on the poetry circuit since 2014, we are often at the same events. He shared some poems he performed at Poetry Alight, it was good to hear them a second time. Poets should worry less about repeating their work. I particularly enjoyed his poem ‘What is a Map?’

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Steve Harrison is a poet I met in 2014 somewhere over Shropshire way, I am delighted that he ventures across to share his poems in Birmingham and it is always a pleasure to watch his performance. An entertaining and well written poem is guaranteed – although he does serious too. I enjoyed his Classified Ad poem, which I had heard but not for a while and I live in hope of a day when we can be found in the classified ads amongst the plumbers.

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Ian Davies is a poet I have seen in Walsall before, I enjoyed his poem ‘Gwyn Ap Nudd’. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him in the interval, next time.

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Pauline Faulkner had travelled up to support her sister (Jan) and is not a poet I know. She shared a poem about the Mason’s yard which I enjoyed.

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Calvin Allen is a poet I do not know, he had great delivery and his poem ‘Black Friday’ and his Newsreader poems were highlights of his set. I shall look out for him again in the future.

Elaine Christie wowed the audience with ‘The Lion King’ a brilliant poem of us concerning animal welfare and it packs punches. I met Elaine at the end of 2013 and her poetry speaks to the heart, she has a lot of love for the animal kingdom and it was simply a pleasure to see her again. I have been a little absent from the Birmingham scene recently.

18671007_10156279244119741_170669724986059691_n Well done, Richard for a great Book Launch.

RELATED LINKS:

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/diverse-verse-2-is-launched-and-ready-to-buy/

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/no-not-the-one-in-poland/

Review May 2017

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May was a busy month which included a mid-point glitch when we found ourselves offline and for a while lost all our resources from the laptop!

Week 1:

Sent some submissions, organised festival events and promoted Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders. There were several open mic events in Birmingham and Coventry that I didn’t make and a headline gig that was cancelled due to venue closure.

The team met for work on our show, 30-40-60. This was accepted in March for the Worcester LitFest and takes place next month on Sunday June 11th, 7pm at The Hive, Worcester.

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I was looking forward to Cheltenham Poetry Festival but due to work commitments was not able to make as much of the programme as hoped. I did, however, have a run of 9-10 days of events. Unless I am immersed in a festival, I try not to make bookings like this anymore as I appreciate the energy it requires.

My mini-tour started in Malvern with Carol Ann Duffy, I am so glad that I bought a ticket for this, it was a wonderful night of emotive, uplifting and hard hitting poetry. Last time I saw her, I bought books and although I love what the book co-operative are achieving I was fund poor, I had taken a copy off the shelf at home and hoped she’d be happy to sign. Carol Ann was and she didn’t mention nearly taking me out with the stage door at all!

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John Sampson was his wonderful self too. Loved his music this evening. Glad the Queen gave him away!

The following day I went to Stratford-Upon-Avon for a workshop with Angela France. It was lovely to reconnect with poets I have not seen for a while and the writing was fun. There are some nuts and bolts in my notebook ready to work on. I am finding writing hard at the moment. Maybe it is post-NaPoWriMo or just because I am busy that my mind has no time to settle.

I then went to Birmingham to see Rob Gee at The MAC. Rob and I were friends in Leicester, back when I was at university and discovering the Spoken Word scene for the first time. I have not seen him for nearly 20 years, (how did we get that old?). I met up with him before and after the show and it was as if there had been a gap of days not years.

I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of his show and the delivery. Enjoyed is a strong word as it deals with end of life/people in care. A dramatic framework that works so well and Rob (Pro) shows us how easy it can be to create multi-characters in one space.

ROB GEE

He first  produced this show a long time ago and has toured it internationally – I was so happy to catch it – and the best news for you? He is doing it again for Ledbury Poetry Festival. Go and catch it if you can – book tickets here 3rd July

Read all about it here FORGET ME NOT

As a student nurse, Rob spent three months on a Challenging Behaviour ward for people with late stage Alzheimer’s. Largely based on Rob’s experiences, many of the stories depicted in the show are true. Except the murders, obviously.

The show’s director Tara Gatherer has recently directed three acclaimed short films, Cafe des Fils de Putes, Self Portrait and The Group, the latter of which explored the theme of self-empowerment for older people. Forget Me Not is her first theatre show. © Forget Me Not

I was so wired after the evening. We are not leaving it 20 years until next time!

On Sunday 7th it was the much awaited Book Launch of C.S Barnes, for ‘The Women You Were Warned About’. It was an amazing afternoon of words and cake, stories and poems.

Charley Barnes Book

I was lucky enough to read it a while ago, as Luke Kennard and I were asked to endorse the book. It was still magical to hear Charley read her own words and I didn’t revisit these women on purpose before getting a copy at the launch.

Charley asked Claire Walker, Alan Durham, Polly Stretton and myself to share poetry on women at her launch. I had fun writing a few poems specifically for the event and reworked some NaPoWriMo poems from April that featured women and worked well. I was stupidly nervous about this performance. the pressure not to mess the launch up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and so did everyone else. You can read about it and buy your copy here.

Black Pear 

The Women You Were Warned About: Answers to Absent Questions,
is Barnes’s first full-length publication and, after having so much
fun with the women contained within these stories, she sincerely
looks forward to the possibility of working with such hideous
women again in the future. © Black Pear Press

cs barnes

Week 2

I booked tickets for the National Writer’s Conference. I attended in 2014 and decided that I needed to be further into my career to truly benefit. Tickets for this event are not cheap, but with lots of keynote speakers and a choice of seminars to attend it IS worth every penny. One major pull/benefit of being in Room 204 is you are gifted a ticket to the conference, so I knew back in the Spring that I would be going. So excited. Delighted they have released the information too, I am bad enough with menus and always at these things want to go to absolutely everything – the NWC is set up so you only take 3/9 sessions. Maybe I can bribe some of the cohort to swap notes.

I also spent my writing day working on the multimedia element of our show, 30-40-60. I spent the writing time tidying – I told you I have writers block!

In the evening, I finally made it back to Licensed to Rhyme, my most local poetry night which I have not managed since last year. Steve Pottinger was headlining and Brenda Read-Brown came back for a guest spot. The other guest spots and open mics were all top quality and it was lovely to share a night of fine words. Also fabulous to have Fergus McGonigal back on the scene. Plus it is light enough for me to walk there now so I was able to sample the bar. I also shared my NaPowriMo Bop written about the EDL in Birmingham. I was unsure of this poem, but it went down well – next stop, performing it in Birmingham.

licensed-to-rhyme

The next day I had hoped to make it to Cheltenham for Compound Poets with Gram Joel Davies  and Hannah Linden, it seems a large amount of poetry friends made it over. Work had left me sadly lacking in time and energy so I headed over to Kidderminster instead for the final bow to Mouth & Music. Sarah Tamar organised a one off event to raise money for the People in Motion Charity (helping refugees) and it was a chance for a reunion with Peter Williams (PTR), Tim and Pam Scarborough, Coz and Sarah herself.

It was attended by a writing group Sarah works with and there were a diverse range of performances. It was good to share some work that is harder to hear. I often feel guilty reading social/political poetry at events where people have gone to be entertained. I shared some activist poetry written for events back in 2014/15 and work from my pamphlet, ‘Fragile Houses‘ as it was MHAW (Mental Health Awareness Week).

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I had news about a project I hoped to be part of (Room 204). Last year Croome Court produced Plum Lines an exhibition/project involving many poets I knew. At the time I had a yearning to do something with the National Trust too… you know the universe picks up on this stuff, right? I saw a call out for poets to get involved in the next project ‘Adam Speakes’ which involves writers from 4 key places and an artist, previously accepted.

I am delighted to be part of the Writing West Midlands team working on this. Unfortunately, a pinnacle workshop has landed on a day I should be elsewhere. You know how much I hate not being able to do everything simultaneously. Things will be re-arranged.

I have also booked my day to Croome Court to start the exploration. This project will last until November, there will be a special event on the 25th. I cannot wait to get stuck in and I am sure I will keep you all updated.

I missed HOWL – which was legendary and a great, regrettable shame. Featuring Anthony Anaxagorou (who I missed at Verve), Casey Bailey and Anne Gill. I needed some downtime in amongst all this busy and work really was zapping me of strength and time.

I finally made it to Grizzly Pear – Sean Colleti/ UoB (University of Birmingham) Spoken Word event. this event clashes with SpeakEasy and has yet never fallen on a day I could manage. I wanted to see Inua Ellams, who I had missed at BLF Spring Edition. I was sad to miss Sue Johnson at SpeakEasy, but until I invent that cloning machine, had no choice. I also missed the Indigo Dreams showcase at Cheltenham Festival featuring Jennie Farley, Mab Jones, Bethany Pope and Anna Saunders, which was an event I had hoped to make it across for. Again work had not left enough of a margin to make the road trip viable.

I was glad that I managed to see Inua and his brave acceptance of audience offering key words. His set was then built up from poems linking to that context. Tukaiisloveletter – I had seen at Verve and it was terrifying (in a good way) to see his dynamic, highly emotive, actioned performance. It was good to talk to him about it afterwards too.

I shared my EDL poem, which was responded to well.

The following morning I was not bright eyed or bushy tailed (after the late night gig, I had forgotten how this time frame does not affect the student population) for our 30-40-60 meeting, in fact I was still eating breakfast when we set to work.

It was exciting to see the programme in print for the first time. It was released earlier in the week and since Tuesday had seen lots of teasing photos like this one! WLF © Holly Magill

We worked on our scripting and rehearsed the show. Later on our laptop died after an automated update and took all our files with it. Friday night’s plans changed as we desperately ranted to Microsoft support via the Kindle and attempted to back up everything off our computer. We entered OfflineLife.

The next day I was working for Writing West Midlands, Spark Young Writers group in Worcester with our new Assistant Writer, Rick Saunders. It was a great session on journalism and was embraced well by the group. I got my hands on Worcester LitFest programmes and started distributing.

Following this I went to Cheltenham for John Hegley ‘New and Selected Potatoes‘, which I missed at The MAC last year. It was great to see him live again and another master showing me in this age of ‘you have to do more with your poems’ that actually just being on stage with them should be enough. He had us in stitches and was a joy to watch.

hegley©ents24.com 

LINK TO FOLLOW

The following day I was back over in Cheltenham for my 2nd Hegley Workshop, completely brilliant. Followed by walking to Waterstones in conversation and watching a delighted public as he hit the shop floor with poetry and his mandolin, *Steve, as fans will know.

It was a superb day.

I also had poems Anchored and Hallmarks up for MHAW on Sarah James’s website. They are now archived in the 2015/17 ‘With You In Mind’ Anthology. Read more about this project here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/mental-health-awareness-week-with-you-in-mind-anthology/

sl © Sarah Leavesley 

Week 3: 

I joined a Screenwriting course online, with UEA and Future Learn. It has been brilliant, although somewhat challenging completing most of it on the Kindle. I have discovered that I know more than I thought I did. I have also been playing with a few ideas banked for the future.

I worked on the film element of 30-40-60 and missed both events I had pencilled in. A book launch for Nigel Hutchinson at Waterstones and HIT THE ODE. Rather disappointed with myself but I came home from work on Thursday and hour later than I should have with barely time to make it to the city. By arrival time I had gone to bed and slept right through to Midnight! I needed the rest.

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I also spent a day online (now that I mended the internet) at the Hay House World Summit. Back in 2015 I took every seminar and film going. This year, I have been more selective and currently have a notebook filled with 12 of the programmes available. It is free to sign up and a real annual blessing as far as I am concerned.

I spent the weekend organising festival events and reading. It was beneficial to take a break from performing and recover from the busy schedule last week.

I felt re-energised ready for the final busy push of May.

Week 4

I booked a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura, completed the UEA Screen Writing course,

4 tutors

and booked tickets for a book launch in July.

On Tuesday I went to Poetry Alight in a new venue in Lichfield to catch poetry from Roy Marshall and Jane Commane. It was a brilliant (if not extremely hot evening). The new venue is lovely. It was great to catch up with Roy and Jane.

Photography by Ben Macnair

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I missed Kathy Gee headlining at Poetry Bites – that was also a wonderful evening so I have heard.

On Thursday evening I missed a Book Launch, Ali Oxbury – we met on the Writing For Children course in 2013 has had her poetry collection published. I would have loved to have been there – I have also spent the past 4 years wishing for bookings. You can’t have it all.

I was booked to perform alongside Kevin Brooke, Holly Daffurn, Kieran Davis and Alan Durham for the Poetry Salon. This was my 2nd year for Worcester LitFest & Fringe, I have lost count of the Poetry Brothel/Salons I have participated in… I think it may be 5 or 6. It was an enjoyable evening, concluded with a wonderful open mic. A precious evening for poetry organised and hosted by Charley Barnes.

poetry salon

We had our final editing meeting/rehearsal for our 30-40-60 show. It is going to be great. I have since finished cutting the film and Kathy has created a good looking program of the acts. We have all our open mic-ers signed up – a publisher, a Laureate, published poets and a festival poet! It is going to be fun and happens in just 11 days time!

30-40-60

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I attended the Book Launch for Diverse Verse 2, an anthology compiled by Richard Archer. It was a fantastic turn out at Southcart Books and lovely to see the new shop. A good few hours of immersive poetry & a buffet. Sadly the M5 was crawling at 30 m.p.h and I was delayed. I got there in time for the start but missed coffee (much needed) and a chance to buy the book (I have since ordered it). Wonderful that they sold every copy and a lesson to myself to ask for a reserved copy in future. The proceeds are for Charity and it has already raised lots.

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/diverse-verse-2-is-launched-and-ready-to-buy/

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/no-not-the-one-in-poland/

diverse verse 2

http://www.lulu.com/shop/richard-archer/diverse-verse-2/paperback/product-23201198.html

It was good to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

The Extra Days

I organised to write a review for a topnotch poetry magazine, received news that I am one of three finalists for the Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18 competition. Which happens next Friday, 9th June – the start of the LitFest. I am delighted by the news, excited and as nervous as can be!

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/05/30/and-the-worcestershire-poet-laureate-finalists-are/

WLF&F logo concepts

Last night was one of the most clashing for events- Charley Barnes was headlining at Cafe Grande Slam, Matt Windle at Spoken Trend, 42 in Worcester (my regular Wednesday night feast) was also happening and way back in April, I booked tickets for Stourbridge Library to go and see Jo Bell & Roy McFarlane.

I was an incredible evening & a pleasant way to finish the month.

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Book Launch ‘The Women You Were Warned About’ by C.S. Barnes

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This is definitely one of those posts I wish I’d written and posted when it happened a few weeks ago. It was during my 10 Day immersion in the poetry world and there was no spare time. This is a copy of a social media message sent around the right time – I think the over-use of the exclamation mark sums up how ecstatic I was.

A fabulous launch – really good fun! Loved hearing you breathing life into the women between these pages! Delighted to hold a really copy! CONGRATULATIONS! Thanks for asking me to read.  I cannot wait for the next one! x

It was a wonderful sunny afternoon when we took off to the city of Worcester to celebrate success with Charley. Charley Barnes Book

There are three factors that made this launch an incredibly exciting time for me;

  1. Knowing about the conception of the project and secretly knowing it was to be published by Black Pear Press. Charley and I went through the publishing process at the same time and were there for each other throughout.
  2. This was the first book I was asked to endorse, along with Luke Kennard. It always will be the first book I endorsed.
  3. Charley asked me (along with Claire Walker, Polly Stretton & Alan Durham) to read at the launch.

Besides all that I would have been excited anyway. Launches are like birthdays, I always get just as enthusiastic for others as I do for my own.

cs barnes

Book Launch, Drummonds Bar, Worcester, 7th May 4pm

It was fun preparing my set and I was able to use the bounty of my NaPoWriMo poems, some with small rewrites.

Polly went first, much to our delight, (the pressure of kicking off the event) and as the publisher (part of the Black Pear Press) it seemed fitting.

I was up next followed in the second half by Claire Walker and Alan Durham. Everyone produced fine sets and performances were top notch.

There was cake, chocolate cake, friends, family & conversation. Perfectly timed with enough space to chat and mingle, hear each other perform and enjoy Charley choosing pieces and talking about the story behind the short stories.

CB launch

It was simply a lovely, Sunday afternoon. Having resisted the temptation to pre-order my copy, I was happy to queue up and buy my perfectly bound edition of The Women You Were Warned About. I savoured every moment of watching (or trying not to watch) Charley sign it.

I loved the atmosphere of pride and celebration that held the room together, beyond words to watch this happen right before my eyes. There were plenty of faces I recognised and people I knew who had come to celebrate with Charley and on such a sunny day too. Fabulous room full of people all eager to find out just what those warnings were.

I loved listening to and watching the audience reaction to the collection of answers. Charley completed the event with a brave Q & A. Some of the points are still being discussed, weeks later, now that’s how to get a book to linger!

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You can buy a copy here

https://blackpear.net/2017/05/08/c-s-barnes-launches-first-book/

C.S. Barnes is a Worcestershire-based writer and poet who is
currently working towards her doctorate in Creative Writing.
While Barnes’s interests initially lay exclusively in poetry, her
academic studies have seen her experiment with other styles of
writing—namely the short story—and, as part of her current
degree, Barnes is now working on her first full-length novel.

Alongside her writing endeavours Barnes is also a creative writing
tutor. She has worked with primary and secondary school
students, all the way through to the undergraduate students at her
own university, where she has been tutoring for the past two
years.

The Women You Were Warned About: Answers to Absent Questions,
is Barnes’s first full-length publication and, after having so much
fun with the women contained within these stories, she sincerely
looks forward to the possibility of working with such hideous
women again in the future.© 2017 BLACK PEAR PRESS

black pear