Tag Archives: Cheltenham

Cheltenham Poetry Festival


chelt PF Poster

Cheltenham Poetry Festival has an amazing programme of events this year, many of them I have sadly missed as I am back in full time work, however tonight I am there!

Smokey Joes has 3 back to back events this evening:

5 PM

Neil Richards and John Row

Join the ‘bewitching’ (The Independent) John Rowe for an hour of poetry and storytelling with guest Neil Richards. John is renowned for his dramatic and immersive events which offer an entertaining commentary on love, life and politics in modern times.

John is joined by Neil Richards, an exciting new voice on the poetry scene who is gaining a following for his charismatic and powerful performances of dazzlingly original experimental poetry.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival © 2018


7 PM

Indigo Dreams Showcase

Indigo Dreams Showcase – Chrys Salt, Chris Hardy, Anna Saunders and Amy Kinsman

Indigo Dreams is an award-winning publisher renowned for its beautifully produced collections of contemporary poetry by both new and established writers. The press was voted Most Innovative Publisher 2017 at the annual Saboteur Awards. Join us for a feast of verse as four authors from the press read from their brand-new publications.

Chris Hardy (‘Chris consistently hits the right note’ -(Roger McGough), poet, musician and member of LiTTLe MACHiNe reads from Sunshine At The End Of The World.

Chrys Salt (‘a wonderful and unique poet’ -Bernard Kops), reads from The Punkawallah’s Rope.

Festival Founder and Director Anna Saunders (‘a poet who can surely do anything’ – The North) reads from Ghosting for Beginners.

The showcase also includes a reading by one of the joint winners of the Indigo Dreams 2017 Pamphlet Competition. Amy Kinsman is a multi-published poet and playwright from Manchester.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival © 2018


9 PM

Nina Lewis – Fragile Houses plus guests + open mic



Nina Lewis – Fragile Houses

plus guests and Open Mic Readings

‘In our family, minds go missing’. Nina Lewis writes, in one of a series of moving and poignant poems about family life from Fragile Houses (V Press), a pamphlet praised for its ‘tremendous warmth and descriptive power’.

In this highly praised volume Nina Lewis explores the people, places and memories carried through life and deftly examines the human condition through the lens of family relationships.

Nina is joined by Peter McDade – expect deliciously surreal, and thought- provoking poetry from this talented and erudite poet who has drawn comparisons with Ivor Cutler.

This event also includes an open mic. Come and share your poems on the subject of ‘home’.

Cheltenham Poetry Festival © 2018

It is going to be a cracking evening of poetry, so come and join the fun!

The Hill – Angela France Book Launch


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.


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!

Angela France

 © 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



A Week of Writing & Medical Themed Quiet Compere Open Mic


I have already started planning my writing for 2015 and have made the important decision to focus on the writing rather than performing poetry. This year has been great fun and I have indeed been prolific in the local and surrounding area, I have achieved what I set out to achieve and have spent a year at the mic. People know me, some of my poems are widely known, I have made lots of friends and contacts and have enjoyed sharing my work this way. I will continue to do so, but in a more realistic and balanced way. People (who didn’t know me well 12 months ago) said I wouldn’t be able to keep it up… I knew I would and I did, I have a learnt a lot by watching others and I would continue supporting all the great events if I could. However, I am going to be selective and make sure I get an annual or bi-annual appearance at these events, whilst continuing to look for unique opportunities, commissions and paid work (as I have done this year) and using the rest of my time (extra time freed up from not attending 4 events a week) to write. Plus it costs a fortune in travel – a sum I am unlikely to recoup any time soon.

Writing diary

So this week – as I was busy with many projects – I thought I would give it a go and start and I am surprised how good it feels. I do miss having 3 events to attend, but it is lovely to take a back seat and I feel less stressed, which has helped create better writing space and time.

I spent the first part of the week working with the day-job, I booked Friday off as was performing in Cheltenham and I ended up having Thursday as a writing day too. I am currently working on phase 2 of the big project, I have embarked on two new projects one involving promotion and the other one something special for the New Year, I am writing & editing my Hanbury Hall/Art Network Poetry, sets for next weekend and the weekend after, some work from David Calcutt’s Wild Fire Workshop that I attended over half term in October, some work that came from the Stratford workshop with Angela France, historical research and several current submissions, as well as email/admin tasks. You can now see why I have cut events from my schedule!

I spent time reading writing articles and poetry books (I still have a bookshelf full of books I have bought in support of others over the past year) as well as writing and editing.

write1 I started writing in the 2015 diary and planning things for the rest of the month.

I missed an Open Mic in Digbeth, Poet’s Place a the library of Birmingham and on Friday there were 4 events that clashed – Word Up, Spoken Word at the Ort and Confab Cabaret.

Having a 9 day break from performing meant that I was ready for my set at Cheltenham on Friday. It was a great night. Sarah L Dixon a.k.a The Quiet Compere spends most of her year organising events around the North and Midlands areas of the country, she is now expanding events up and down the Country. I met her earlier when Sarah James, Jenny Hope, Ruth Stacey and others performed at the Birmingham Quiet Compere Tour.

Back in the Spring I was asked to be one of the poets on the 2015 Tour on the 10th July at The Hive in Worcester.

In Cheltenham they have an annual conference called Medicine Unboxed conference and Sarah L Dixon runs an open mic for this weekend, so it had a medical theme. I wrote my poems a few months ago, they went down well, people particularly responded to Moth Face and Dodgy Stomach. It was a great night with varied performances, subject matter and lots of ’52’ Poets.

The line up for the evening;

Nina Lewis
Ruth Stacey
Peter Wyton
Nick Lovell
Chris Hemingway
Sarah Snell-Pymm
Rick Vick
Avril Staple
Brenda Read-Brown
Kathy Gee-Wordstring
Maggie Doyle
Claire Walker
Colin Waterman
Sarah James
Brenda Read-Brown, Chris Hemingway & Claire Walker
med Brenda Read Brown med chris hemingway med claire walker
Kathy Gee, Maggie Doyle & Nick Lovell
med kathy Gee med maggie doyle med nick lovell
Peter Wyton, Sarah James, Sarah Snell-Pym & me Nina Lewis
med peter wyton med sarah james
med Sarah Snell-Pym med
Photographs – Sarah L Dixon © 2014
Here is a picture of all the 52er poets in attendance
52 cheltenham

Since then I have been busy finalising my Hanbury Hall Poems which have now been sent to the Droitwich Arts Network, fingers crossed they will be used somehow. I wrote 6 poems on the first picture – recognised instantly as Paris. ‘April in Paris’ By Sue Black. I also wrote 4 poems inspired by ‘Beach Slut’ by Wendy Swann. I wrote about several of the other pictures too, in the end I just submitted two poems; ‘Not Yet Home’ & ‘Little Blue Hut’.

By the end of the weekend I hope to finish my Wild Fire Poetry and some other work too.