Tag Archives: Cheltenham Poetry Festival

Cheltenham Poetry Festival

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This year’s programme was fantastic and I wish I had managed more events than I did. I however, managed a full dose of Hegley – which makes up for missing the rest of the long list of performances and events I wanted to attend.

John Hegley is one of the few poets that I discovered in my Young Writer years – back when he was touring with his band, Popticians. In fact one of the few university birthdays I remember was watching them at the Phoenix Arts Centre and meeting him.

There was a Hegley shaped hole for a while – he seemed to have disappeared – possibly into fatherhood – for the past few years he has been back on the radar. Or on my radar at least. Some of you will remember my posts from his performances and workshops back in 2015.

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I was delighted to see New and Selected Potatoes as an error in reading dates on a flyer meant I missed him at the MAC. It was an enjoyable show, thoroughly entertaining as one would expect – but the magic treat was bestowed on Cheltenham that night in the Playhouse. We were privy to a new poem, something he is working on for the Roundhouse. I always feel privileged when my ears get an inside like this.

I finally bought John’s book and had a lovely chat about the show, because he is a very kind man who always spends time with each person queuing for a signature. Someone in the line behind me nearly bought a book that wasn’t one of his – I am sure he would have signed it anyway, he has a big heart like that.

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I made a night of it by going for an Italian meal with friends who had been to see the show too.

The following day, (I know I should have booked a B&B) I was back in Cheltenham to enjoy my second Hegley workshop. It was great fun, a good group and lots of people I did not know, which is always exciting for me. We had taken a poem and some art and most of our activities were based around these.

John had us all write about Potatoes too (of course) and crowd sourced a fantastic poem for Anna Saunders *Director of the festival – I will have to go and see if she has had time to use it anywhere.

It was a fabulous morning and finishing slightly before time I headed down to Waterstones with John and Anna, chatting and narrowly missing lampposts along the way! Once at Waterstones, I mingled with the poets from the Open Mic event which had finished and caught up with friends. Then John started his impromptu take over of the floor. (Photos to follow.)

We all joined in with a choral poem and had a great time before he was whisked away to that place festival poets go and I was left to retrace steps and try to find my car before the ticket ran out!

Next year, I have to plan work better to be released for this poetry festival.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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,

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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.

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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!

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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/

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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/

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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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Cheltenham Poetry Festival – Dylan Thomas

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If you are mad about the boyo – you won’t want to miss this – an exciting reveal of newly discovered Dylan Thomas material. Including poems, photos and even letters.
With international Dylan Thomas expert John Goodby.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival begins today !
You can read the full line up her re www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk

 

Anna Saunders. 
Founder/CEO Cheltenham Poetry Festival CIC. 
01242 285812
 
www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk  ‘ a poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’The Guardian. May 4 – 16, 2017

Cheltenham Poetry Festival 4-15th May

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I am delighted to promote Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders this year. My tickets are already booked, don’t miss out on yours!


Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2017 4 -15 May. Venues throughout the town.

 ‘ a poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’ – The GuardianMay 4 – 16, 2017

Poets speak out about Brexit, ISIS, Paris terror attacks and more.

Festival aims to reflect ‘ current state of the nation’.

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The Regency town of Cheltenham is set to be the stage for an explosive showcase of new writing this summer.

The 12 day festival features drama, comedy, film and contemporary poets – and this year nothing is off limits when poets read new work inspired by Brexit, race relations and the Paris terror attacks.

Among the guests are internationally acclaimed poet Matthew Sweeney who will be reading new poems which address dramatic themes including Isis and the Paris Terror attacks.

Also on the bill – Rory Waterman reads from his edgy new collection Brexit Day on the Balmoral Estate, Roy McFarlane talks about identity and race in emotionally-charged poems and Jamaican-English poet Raymond Antrobus visits; a poet who is renowned for his uncompromising and powerful take on misogyny and cultural divisions.

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Ray Antrobus

Paul Stephenson reads from The Days That Followed Paris – poems inspired by his residency in Paris at the time of the Terror attacks, plus Jasmine Gardosi and Lexia Legend – politically conscious poets who aren’t afraid of speaking out – perform new work.

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Jasmine Gardosi

The events are part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s commitment to socially- conscious programming.

We wanted this year’s programme to showcase some of the UK’s most frank and fearless writers, to include bold and outspoken artists whose work reflects the current state of the nation. Cheltenham Poetry Festival Director Anna Saunders says.

This year’s festival shows how poetry is empowered when it takes risks –and we hope visitors to the festival will enjoy our fresh, and fearless exploration of the world we live in today.

© 2016  Robbie Elford. All Rights Reserved.

Ben Parker

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Fiona Sampson

 

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www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Anna Saunders cheltpoetryfest@gmail.com

01242 285812

07400352396

A Poetry Wrap

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I am incredibly busy at the moment and don’t have the hours needed to blog spare, so for a while I am going to follow suit and do what other busy bloggers do – reduce my week into a wrap post. The absolutely amazing writing life happenings will still get a individual post though.

This week I have been working full-time as well as organising sets, writing new poetry and working on several projects. My MOOC course with the University of Iowa finally started! Postponed since March. It has been a worthwhile move so far and has created several pages of poetry. I continue to write poetry for NaPoWriMo – although I realise I have not blogged any extracts of these yet. Caldmore Garden Poets are working on a collaborative piece for the Carnival (and later in the summer, a festival). Unfortunately, I can’t make the Performance as I have my final WWM writers group on the 13th before the summer break. I am also sending David Calcutt workshop poetry to be published on his Natural Histories website.

This week two opportunities suddenly arose and I  submitted a commission proposal for a summer festival and made a bid/application for another event.

I am looking to Wenlock Poetry Festival this weekend. Before that I am reading at a Book event for Restless Bones Poetry Anthology in Birmingham tonight, attending a meeting with Writing West Midlands, hoping to catch ‘Men In General’ tomorrow night on their Worcester leg of the tour, back to Birmingham Friday night for Ddotti Bluebell and Jasmine Gardosi’s Word Up event where Sarah Dixon (Quiet Compere) is headlining alongside Bobby Parker and Jackie Smallbridge (Scrubber Jack). On Sunday I am tempted to get over to Cheltenham Poetry Festival to see Sarah James & Angela Topping and also Math Jones. I am not sure I will have enough energy for that though – especially as I have full time work at the beginning of next week in an incredibly challenging environment.

Motherʼs Milk – Teika Bellamy, Sarah James, Angela Topping
11am-12 midday, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, £6/4
Two prize-winning poets – Sarah James and Angela Topping- have joined forces in the first of a new
series of poetry duets being published by Mother’s Milk Books. Sarah and Angela will be joined by
Dr Teika Bellamyof Mother’s Milk for a Q&A session, where the focus of the discussion will be how,
as mothers, we can best meet the demands of family life whilst still pursuing our own creative projects.

Math Jones – The Other Side of Sleep Reading at Cheltenham Poetry Festival
Saturday at 2:30pm Arachne Press Event

Oxfam Bookshop 31 Cambray Place GL50 1JP

I would highly recommend this events if you can get to the Cheltenham Poetry Festival. There is a wealth of great events in the festival programme this year. It is just a shame it clashes with Wenlock Poetry Festival too.

author_fuel_greeting_card-rdd5bef2736024fb4880dc3b6eca7b7f5_xvuak_8byvr_325Next week I am going to the sua litfest to see Rachel Kelly, Susanna Howard and Jill Fraser. I am going with mum, who switched me onto Rachel Kelly’s book to begin with. 1803_BlackRainbow_Dhb.indd

Wednesday I am performing at an Open Mic, Thursday sees some writing deadlines. I will also be completed Napowrimo, writing assignments for my MOOC and preparing my  next Headline set and planning for the next WWM group which I have the delight of leading for the 2nd time this year.

AND BREATHE …

Diary Out, Inking a To Do List

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We got to the weekend! Hurray! I have been so busy recently that I am looking forward to some time out next week. I still have to work as I haven’t won the lottery, but am taking a back seat on poetry events, there are some on but I won’t be involved.

Today I am writing my To Do list, there are several deadlines over the next few days that I need to write against. I wrote a poem for Stanza yesterday after work, it took 1.5 hours and I need to go back to the drawing board with it, unfortunately it is not for any of my deadline submissions. Writing close to the bone again, when will I learn?
I am not one of those naturally organised people and so I am doing my best with my writing diary and post-its, (I find it better than last year’s excel spreadsheet format).

I missed a great opportunity because I thought the deadline was today and it was yesterday at 5pm! (I was asleep!)
The brief was London based and most of my London poetry wouldn’t have been suitable, so it would have meant new writing being born, tough call in 2 hours. It was an opportunity to have it displayed outside for a month (April) on huge boards, 8 poets were to be selected.
Looking for more opportunities like this in the future.

Today Mr G and I are finally (after a month of promising) going to sort the allotment jungle – it will be hard work, we are thinking of letting it go now we have a garden, complete with veg patches he dug last weekend.
Then later we are off out to the Theatre, a Christmas Gift from him to me/us.

In between I hope to get some writing done, maybe tonight when we get home.
My priority is 3 poems on a deadline for tomorrow, a video script and some poems about hotels in case I make it to the 3rd day of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

I am also currently working on a collaboration for Mouth & Music (8th April), which is exciting, just hope 1 more rehearsal gives us enough time, I cancelled next week’s rehearsal to work!

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The Quiet Compere (21/3/14)

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What an event, this one…macwhatshappeningcouk
I only knew Sarah L Dixon through 52, Jo Bell’s challenge (which I have blogged about before – 52 poems in a year – one a week) there must be many poets meeting or at least making connections virtually. I hope to ask Sarah L Dixon to tell us more about her Quiet Compere idea, when she is less busy.
Basically she runs an open mic night in Manchester, the difference from other event is the format. To allow the poet more time to share work she books 10 acts and gives them 10 minutes each.

She had the idea of taking this format on the road regionally, got Arts Council Funding for her idea (I slip that in as if it were easy – but I am fairly sure that was a process on its own!) then starting taking herself on tour. Each venue hosts 10 local poets who are pre-booked and they each delight the audience for 10 minutes. She has ‘toured the North with a jaunt into Birmingham’ – luckily enough.

I saw the line up in late January/February and recognised many of the names. We heard the Manchester night sold out so we made sure (my poetry friends Claire Walker and Maggie Doyle) we had our tickets well in advance.
You would expect to pay more than a fiver to go and see many of these names. The tickets were an ASTONISHING £3.00! Entry to some open mic events is more than that!

The Birmingham night took place at the MAC – Midlands Arts Centre – recently reopened after a 15million pound facelift! It has been closed for a while. There is so much that has been built up around it since I went over 10 years ago! It sits nestled in Cannon Hill Park and is a great venue and just a few miles out of the city.

Gary Longden was one of the 10 performers and although I knew him, from other poetry friends and his wonderful blog (to which there is a link), I had never met him. He runs Poetry Alight – the night in Lichfield where Michelle Crosbie performed last month. Another great night I missed…. so frustrating when there is so much on and I still have to work!
I finally got to meet him, it was brief as he didn’t know who I am.

I hope to make it over to Lichfield soon, Andrea Shorrick (Swingerella) thinks they would like my poems!

The Performers were QC banner

In the 6 months I have been back on the performance circuit I have been lucky enough to perform alongside 7 out of 10 of these poets. I met Sarah James at her book launch for Beyond beyond – the same evening I watched Jenny Hope perform and met Ruth Stacey. These are the first poets I met in Worcestershire (on this set list) and they have all given so much to me over the past 6 months, including welcoming me to their celebratory curry meal – where I met lots more poets.

Sarah has her next event this Tuesday for Poetry Bites and has headlined at SpeakEasy (she has done a million other things but these are the connections to me). We also all went to The Writers’ Toolkit together in the Autumn. Jenny Hope is a lead writer for Writing West Midlands and Ruth Stacey works alongside her as an Assistant Writer. I had already arranged to work for Writing West Midlands as an Assistant Writer, the same day I met them. They have all performed at SpeakEasy and also attend Stanza meetings, Sarah is the Poetry Society leader in our region.

As well as SpeakEasy, Ruth, along with Bobby Parker performed with me at the Kidderminster Creatives re-launch, BHG Gallery event. Bobby has also headlined SpeakEasy and I have also performed at the same Mouth & Music events – the open Mic in Kidderminster.

Charlie Jordan I met through events we attended at Birmingham Literature Festival in October. We first performed at the same event in October, at Jan Watts Phenomenal Women at Birmingham University for the Books of the Future UOB Festival. Since then we were at a Twilight Poetry Event at The Rep, organised by Joanna Skelt *Birmingham’s current poet laureate. We have been in the arena together at the amphitheatre at the Library of Birmingham performing for Jan Watt’s Poetry For Lunch. Charlie is also in the Decadent Divas although due to a top secret mission she was unable to make the latest Confab Cabaret event, this means the Decadent Divas have to come back and entertain us as the full 4 piece another time.

Laura Yates, one quarter of the Decadent Divas headlined at Mouth & Music, as well as performing at Confab Cabaret as a Decadent Diva.

Ddotti Bluebell runs Word Up at York’s Bakery and also performed at Najma Hush’s Dance Exhibition Gallery opening, which is where I met her and performed newly written Dance poems. I have seen her perform at Word Up too. She is another encourager on the scene and having only recently met her, feels like I have known her a lot longer.

There were 3 new to me poets to enjoy; Gary Longden, Matt Man Windle and Ian Bowkett. Sarah L Dixon treated us to some of her poems too. When you are an active poet you often hear the same poems being performed by people in different venues so it is great to come across new poets who have 100% unknown material. That’s not to say that I dislike hearing great poetry being repeated.

Everyone was incredible and the audience were blown away in quick succession by each performer.

The evening was kicked off by Sarah L Dixon – I enjoyed her poems, observations of her three old and the world children inhabit, touching and entertaining. She introduces each poet simply by name and lets their poetry speak for itself.

Sarah L Dixon © 2014 Gary Longden

Sarah L Dixon © 2014 Gary Longden

 

Ruth Stacey was the first to step up to the mic. I love Ruth’s poems and I know she doesn’t often perform. She is currently having great success in print and I look forward to reading her Foxboy collection when it comes out later this year.

It was a real treat to hear Ruth and she shared poetry I hadn’t heard before alongside some of my favourites of hers that I have heard before.

Ruth Stacey  © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Ruth Stacey © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Laura Yates performed next and treated us to her Birmingham poem which I will never tire of. She is such a confident performer and we all enjoyed her work. Another poet that I could have spent all night listening to.

Laura Yates © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Laura Yates © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Sarah James performed next, I haven’t heard her for a while – as I missed her headline at SpeakEasy due to Mr G’s birthday. I love listening to anything she reads her play on words and intelligent understanding of linguistics makes much more sense when it comes from her voice.

sarah james © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Sarah James © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Gary Longden performed next and treated us to some cheeky poems, none of which I had heard as this was the first time I met him, I liked what I heard and hope to listen to some more of his witty poetry soon.

Gary Longden © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Gary Longden © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Bobby Parker in complete contrast took us all deep inside of him and shared some extremely raw poems which he performed confidently and then he shared one of my favourite poems about a friend who encouraged him to go to a special event, I won’t say more – you will have to buy his books or hear him perform.

Bobby Parker © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Bobby Parker © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Charlie Jordan kicked off the second half with her wonderful performance. A true performance poet. She has been a Poet Laureate for Birmingham and the first poem she performed, I had heard before. The second one was new to me and absolutely adorable. She took us with us every step of the journey when she performed that.

Charlie Jordan © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Charlie Jordan © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Ian Bowkett came next with his PHD and humour – he would have helped me understand Maths if I had met him earlier in my life for sure, he makes numbers fun, very entertaining and for his final piece he performed from heart and completed a Rubix Cube at the same time! COMPLETED! WOW – WOW – WOW! The Brian Cox of poetry (I mean that as a huge compliment) he is much younger of course.

Ian Bowkett © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Ian Bowkett © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

He said he didn’t want to follow Charlie, I have been there and it is a hard act to follow – he did brilliantly!

In fact that was something special about the Quiet Compere tour – these 10 Poets were all top class, there was no judgement on my part but you couldn’t have judged them apart if you’d had to… good job!

Jenny Hope and her beautifully quiet voice, soft and metred came next. Again I love hearing Jenny perform and it had been a while since I last saw her. I loved her set. Could have listened all night. She hooked me in and I didn’t want the bubble to burst.

Jenny Hope © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Jenny Hope © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Ddotti Bluebell came next sharing dynamic poetry, some I had the pleasure of catching at York’s Bakery, it was brilliant – she must have had to use at least 4 voices and entertained us all with memories of her childhood and her brothers and being the only girl. Something I can empathise with.

Ddotti Bluebell © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Ddotti Bluebell © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

 

Matt Man Windle finished the night, great emotive performance he again was another natural born performer and I have since found out a boxer – well his poetry was certainly punchy!

Matt Man Windle © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

Matt Man Windle © 2014 Sarah L Dixon

It was an AWESOME evening (in the true – yes, wow at the universe and it’s awesome expanse) type way and my Birmingham poetry friends met and saw my Worcestershire friends perform. Everyone had time to mingle afterwards, it was great having so many friends at this event.

And the bit I can’t get my head around… Sarah L Dixon (coming from Manchester) had not seen these poets perform before – the evening was slick and each poet brought something special to the event.

Here are the shots from my seat – I really need to upgrade my mobile! © 2014 N Lewis

QCM IanQCM jennyQCM LauraQCM MattQCM RuthQCM Sarah JamesQCM BobbyQCM CharlieQCM GaryQCM ddottiQCM Sarah L Dixon

Check out Gary’s review – through the eyes of a performer.

http://garylongden.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/the-quiet-compere-mac-birmingham/

And Claire Walker’s review here

http://thegirlwhogrewintoacrocodile.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/the-joy-of-publication-and-an-evening-with-the-quiet-compere/

 

cheltenham fest

Sarah L Dixon’s next event can be seen as part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival which starts this week for a week.

A Matter of Life, Death and Poetry
Friday 28 March 2014 at 8:00pm

A touring poetry show.

The Quiet Compere presents A Matter of Life, Death and Poetry

The legendary Quiet Compere events enlist established poets and emerging voices.

The Quiet Compere introduces them with little fanfare, so that the poems (and not the poets’ track records)
tell you all you need to know.

This festival special features a stellar line-up – Rosie Garland, Samir
Guglani, Sarah Maxwell, Bethany W Pope, Stephanie Portersmith, Rod Tame, Avril Staple and
of course the compere herself, Sarah Dixon.

Let poetry show you what really matters! Join us for a selection of darkly funny, thought-provoking and life-changing poetry

Tickets are £5.00/ £4.00 and can be bought here

http://www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk/eventdetail.php?ID=70

 

You can also catch Bobby Parker at the festival

bobby parker1