I am delighted to promote Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders this year. My tickets are already booked, don’t miss out on yours!
‘ a poetry party with a healthy dose of anarchy’ – The Guardian. May 4 – 16, 2017
Poets speak out about Brexit, ISIS, Paris terror attacks and more.
Festival aims to reflect ‘ current state of the nation’.
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.
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.
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.
Anna Saunders email@example.com
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.
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.
Next week I am going to the 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.
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 …
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!
What an event, this one…
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!
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Check out Gary’s review – through the eyes of a performer.
And Claire Walker’s review here
Sarah L Dixon’s next event can be seen as part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival which starts this week for a week.
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
You can also catch Bobby Parker at the festival