Tag Archives: Chris Alton

Review of July

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Week 1: 

Workshop/National Trust Project

Room 204 is involved in the Croome Court project Adam Speaks. We met Chris Alton, the Lead Artist at a workshop at Writing West Midlands Headquarters in the Custard Factory on Saturday 1st July.

1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young  © 2017 Peter Young

This was an epic 6 hr workshop. Chris is working with 4 groups Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School. It was exciting to know that these workshops will feed Chris’s art.

Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© 2017 Rachel Hill

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. 

© National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

Literature Festival

Sunday saw my 3rd official WPL appearance on the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words. This event had a great turn out and beautiful Sunday morning sunshine for the poetry walk, a gentle stroll across the green park around the Bell Tower in Evesham.

I performed some Evesham poems written especially for the event and enjoyed listening to poetry and prose. It was good to see some people who happened upon our merry group, stay and listen.

It was good to reconnect with Sue Johnson and I booked another event later for this year.

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This festival always has a great programme. They are already booked up for next year.

Radio

On Monday I had my first Radio slot with Tammy Gooding BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester. This was something Maggie Doyle instigated during her WPL tenure (2013/14). It is a tradition picked up by other Laureates and I am happy to continue with it.

I read ‘Gander’ one of the poems written for Evesham Festival of Words. Tammy is amazing at putting you at ease. She was also impressed with an interview which needed no editing! It has been decades since I stepped foot inside a studio. I was nervous, but had such a great time! I am already booked in for August.

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Performances

During the evening I took a guest slot at Licensed to Rhyme, Maggie Doyle & Spoz’s monthly poetry event at the Artrix.

Headlining this month was former WPL Suz Winspear, Claire Walker was the other guest poet and there were a plethora of open mic-ers. It was a fabulous evening.

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And before I start sounding like the Hungry Caterpillar… on Tuesday I took a rest. There were events I would have liked to attend but I was attempting to conserve energy for my Headline slot at Uncorked.

Having pencilled in Ledbury Poetry Festival, Lichfield and Shropshire – we arrive at Thursday.

Headline

I was booked for Uncorked at Bottles a while ago (before WPL), originally scheduled for June, I swapped into July so Charley would have a chance to sell her recently published books. I on the other hand have had my final 5 copies of Fragile Houses for months… this is the way it goes sometimes. I didn’t sell any books but I had a great evening.

Sean Colletti created a masterpiece idea for the introductory sets so instead of the traditional 5 minute teaser from each of the Headline poets we worked together on Sean’s concept of a waiting room & the result was an interesting concoction , especially considering it was unrehearsed.

uncorked-july

Clive Oseman, Jake Scott & Sean Colletti were all wonderful headliners and we had a good range of open floor spots too. Holly has created something magic here, helped by a sensational venue Bottles Wine Bar in Worcester.

Workshop

Up early the next morning (hard to sleep on post-performance adrenaline), I drove to Shrewsbury for a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. I would have paid just to meet these two poets who have been on my radar for a long time. So having the bonus of a workshop was superb.

Unfortunately, I missed the performance the night before as I was at Uncorked. It wasn’t a prerequisite to the workshop though. The workshop was based on epistolary poetry. Which is something I have only tried to a few times. Strange because I used to love writing letters, I had 33 international penfriends by 12 years old. I also started writing to an old, re-united friend during my deepest depression. These letters are now even more special to me as she sadly passed away.

The workshop was brilliant and I got some ideas from it, as well as books. Love their work and cannot wait to spend time with the pages.

I recently (28th June) re-wrote one of my workshop poems and took it to stanza. I will do something with it in the future. I am pleased with the result and know I would never have written it without this workshop.

It was at the Severn Theatre in a huge room, necessary as it was a large group. It was lovely to reconnect with the Shropshire crew. I have been busy lately and it has cut me off from many out of county events. I cannot remember the last time I made it to perform in Birmingham beyond Waterstones events. I know how quickly the poetry scene moves there, so it will be full of people I don’t know – which is exciting.

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I was booked in for my first Cathedral Poets Workshop in Worcester the following morning and an action packed day in Ledbury on the Sunday. Reason and experience told me Mr. G and I needed some time and I needed to rest. So regrettably I cancelled the workshop and now have to wait until October. October is an incredibly busy month with Swindon Poetry Festival, Birmingham Literature Festival and school workshops, so I may not get to the Cathedral again.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 

I always want to attend the complete festival, I dream of pitching up a tent and staying. It is like a massive holiday for poets with a daily celebration of words. However, knowing I could only manage one day this year – I chose a day with an action packed programme.

It was amazing. Read the full 21 Years of Gold

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Week 2

After work I was too tired to get to watch Beyond the Water’s Edge at the Artrix and I am very disappointed to miss it. I also missed the WLF Committee meeting (as I was meant to be at the theatre). Where was I? Asleep! Although having read Week 1, I am not surprised. I was also working on an application and some poetry which I used most of my post-Ledbury adrenaline to fuel.

I booked in WPL work and wrote commissioned poetry for Buildings Talk Hospital Histories (a project I spent 3 weeks working on) and got my set for Chapel Lates organised and set some promo for an event in August.

I gave myself some downtime knowing the end of the week was another hectic schedule.

Performance/ Cheltenham Music Festival

Chapel arts

Chapel Lates in Cheltenham, an amazing night of poetry and prose as part of Cheltenham Music Festival curated by Anna Saunders (Founder Cheltenham Poetry Festival). Read all about it here  Chapel Lates Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1

 

This event clashed with HOWL and Outspoken. It is always the way. It has taken 4 years, but I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I cannot be everywhere at once.

Commission/Performance/Project 

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories

Charley Barnes asked me to participate in a Medical Museum Project at the end of June. We had access to historical archives (photographs) which are not on general display to the public and from these we created a 10 minute set of poetry.

Buildings Talk

It was a great project to be involved in, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Louise Price had the creative vision to intersperse the medical talks with poetry. We performed our poems with the images projected behind us.

The next stage of this project is displaying a selection of our poems alongside archived footage.

Read a full review here Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories


I took a poetry break for a couple of days to work and to reunite with college friends, our two yearly reunions, epic fun! Just imagine Drama students 20 years on!


Performance

I attended Open Poetry which this month was a charity event to raise funds for PIPKA – refugees in Lesvos, Greece.

I performed my refugee poem, now written 4 years ago, this world of ours remains in crisis. Read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/open-poetry-for-pipka/

EC This event was organised by Helen Calcutt and David Calcutt and featured Guest Spots from Christina Thatcher, she read from her recent collection ‘More Than You Were’.  more_than_you_were_large

Week 3

Writing

I needed some time at the desk to complete work from the Spring (another book endorsement) and read material that I am reviewing. I also needed lots of Admin time to complete arrangements for Artsfest (working on this since February), future bookings and promotion of other events.

I had as yet not re-awoken my creative muse – not to give a spoiler… but this was the month!

This was also the last week of work before the summer, my contract had finished and although I wasn’t expecting any work I had to remain on call. This meant several bleary-eyed mornings on the computer, just in case.

I had events and meetings to attend this week which did not involve me performing. A welcome treat/break from pressure and nerves. It also gave me some time to gather energy before the Artsfest Day (22nd).

Readings

Summer Party – Nine Arches Press

I thoroughly enjoyed this event with Jane Commane and…9 arches 3

The readings were superb and the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘PARTY’! Read all about it here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/nine-arches-press-summer-party/

Meetings

The following morning I had an early start and a meeting in Birmingham at the Custard Factory with Jonathan Davidson and the other writers involved in Spark Young Writers groups. As ever it was interesting sharing ideas and great to spend some time with other writers/poets.

Book Launch

In the evening I drove to Cheltenham to finally catch a Book Launch from Angela France. DFH4x-NVoAAzcZ2 I was excited to see the multi-media element that I had heard so much about and to listen to Angela read more from this collection I have been following for the past couple of years. Read the full review of this special evening https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-hill-angela-france-book-launch/

angela france the hill 1

The launch shook my muse awake and for the first time in months, I was writing. For about two hours straight!

Meetings

I had a meeting with the Events Manager at the Jinney Ring to put plans into action for my September workshop using the Sculpture Trail. It was exciting, my list of 8 pointers were all achieved and it is shaping up to be a great WPL project.

Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

The Sculpture Trail at The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcestershire.

The morning will start with a tour of the trail and some time to write using the sculptures for ekphrastic poetry or initial stimuli. Followed by a writing workshop in the marquee. 
Tea/Coffee and cake is provided as part of the ticket.

There will be opportunities to share writing and participants will be able to send polished work for at exhibition at the Jinney Ring in October.

In addition to all this, there will also be the opportunity to share your work at a reading in November.

For more information please contact me: worcspl[at]gmail.com

Official poster with all booking details out soon. Just awaiting the new trail photograph. 
10:15 meet at the marquee for a 10:30 Tour. 
Tickets £7.00

Festival Artsfest

droitwich artsfest

I need to write a complete blog post for Artsfest – which finishes on the 5th August. I will link back here afterwards.

It was a brilliant day with Poetry in the Square and an evening event Poetry Extravaganza at Park’s Cafe.

Watch Out Worcester! 

watch out worcs

I performed at St. Swithun’s Church at an event created by Suz Winspear. It was a great experience and I loved the building and atmosphere. I will write a blog about this event and link it back to here.

st swithins dancefest

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/NEWs/15437699.Dancing_in_the_streets_of_Worcester/

Week 4

Writing

I spent a few days chained to the desk with writing and admin. I missed Poetry Bites as I was too pushed for time to get to King’s Heath and extremely tired after the busy weekend.

I researched new material and wrote 3 new poems for 42.

Workshop

I attended a workshop led by Angela France in Stratford, I always enjoy these sessions and listening to the work that is created.

Performance

I performed at Drummonds, 42 in the evening. The theme was Curiosities and I had fun exploring this theme. I wrote about an underground library in Seattle, the hanging coffins of China and fossilised skeletons. I left the Cabinet of… for others.

It was a great night, very entertaining with a Guest Host – Kevin Brooke – who did a sterling job, he made it look easy and we all know, it isn’t!

I missed Caffe Grande Slam for another month, as I needed to conserve energy.

ArtsFest Poet in Residence

On 28th July I was at the library in Droitwich as one of the Artists in Residence for Artsfest. I had a smashing morning talking all things poetry and tested out my Poetry Kit idea. This is something I will make more of at another point.

I took this booking as a poet, but decided as I am WPL it was a good opportunity to raise awareness of this role and promote WLF at the same time as DAN – Network.

DAN Lib

It was a lot of fun and has given me ideas for future events. It was the first outing for my new WPL t-shirt and the tablecloth, bought after the workshop on Wednesday.

DAN Lib 2 Children making Poetry Kits – we were competing with the Summer Reading Challenge who had a sock puppet workshop, or as I saw it, we had a captive audience to come and make Poetry Kits for FREE after.

DAN Rhys  © 2017 Rhys Jones

Poetry

I dropped in two poems to be displayed on the table and wall at The Canal Side Studio. There are more events this summer from there. So watch this space.

DAN Lib3

I finished the month with a Stanza meeting, which was a lovely evening and had some useful editing tips for my Dear Sky – Ivory/Figura workshop poem.

July has been exceptional!

 

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A Quick Update 1/4 of the Way into July!

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The beginning of this month has been scheduled to full capacity. Starting with a meeting at the Medical Museum, Charley Barnes asked me to write and perform (along with Mike Alma & Polly Stretton) at ‘Buildings Talk – Hospital Histories’ on the 13th July.

Buildings Talk

 

The George Marshall Medical Museum is a hidden gem, an archive of 250 years of healthcare and hospital history and it will be open on the evening of the event and I am incredibly excited to get inside and have a look at all the history. We are currently working with photographs that Louise Price (Curator) has provided, we all selected the images that talked to us and have been busily writing poetry.

I am looking forward to this performance, having seen the space and the projection area. I am currently editing my writing for this Thursday. https://medicalmuseum.org.uk/

I missed Stanza as my body hit sleep mode!

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It was also the beginning of Ledbury Poetry Festival – I have been drooling over the programme for months but can only manage tomorrow (the final day). I am looking forward to that! http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/

On Saturday (the real beginning of July), I went to the Custard Factory – Writing West Midlands for a Room 204 project. Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year. We are one of 4 groups creating the outcome along with Chris Alton the Lead Artist on the project. Participating groups are: Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School.

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© Peter Young 2017

Worcester News

They had a huge number of applicants for this position, including international applications. 13 were shortlisted and in April, Chris was chosen from this group.

 

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. © National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

http://www.chrisalton.com/

The workshop was an intensive thought process in a relaxed atmosphere. Lasting for 6 hours, Chris went away with a massive amount of writing by the end. I look forward to being a part of Adam Speaks. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/projects/adam-speaks

1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young

© Peter Young 2017

Sunday saw Evesham Festival of Words and my third official appearance as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, as we took to the green of the town on the Poetry Walk. The programme for this festival was strong and again, there was much I wanted to go and see, but with work and bookings and the In tray of writing tasks currently being shuffled (I mean written), I had no spare time.

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https://eveshamfestivalofwords.org/programme/

 

I was looking forward to this as previous years have been really successful. This year it was all centred in the park around the Bell Tower and I performed under the Cloisters, some poems I wrote especially for the event which were Evesham based. It was a good turn out and I took lots of pictures, which I still need to upload!

 

 

Monday I had my first official slot as WPL on BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding. The interview itself was incredibly short, but it will be a regular monthly slot that I am stepping into. Previous Laureates have done this for years, it is good to keep up the media side. Suz Winspear (WPL 2016-17) continues to write her column for SLAP (Supporting Local Arts & Performers) Magazine. I saw we had a mention in there too – another photo to upload.

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It was lovely meeting Tammy and see her passion for poetry. She made me feel at ease and the interview (pre-recorded) needed no editing. Impressive for my first time.

You can listen in http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p055z30x

 

In the evening I had a Guest Spot at Licensed to Rhyme, hosted by Maggie Doyle & Spoz. Suz Winspear was headlining. It was good to see some new faces and it was a wonderful night of poetry. Claire Walker took the other Guest Spot and I also got to re-meet my High School English Teacher who has started volunteering at the Arts Centre, she retires this year – I have to say, I recognised her straight away but was convinced it couldn’t be her as she looked NO DIFFERENT! I bet she was a little proud to watch a former pupil do something with her subject.

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There were many events Tuesday and Wednesday, but I was working and felt the need to rest and see Mr. G. before headlining Thursday.

 

Thursday night saw me Headline at Uncorked along with Clive Oseman, Jake Scott and Sean Colletti. This wonderful (new) night hosted by Holly Daffurn is always a pleasure to experience, the venue Bottles Wine Bar is brilliant and they love these events as much as we do.

bottles

Everyone produced incredible sets and Sean had spent some time (few weeks) organising us through messenger. Holly allows the headline acts to provide a taster of 5 minutes at the beginning of the evening.

Sean devised a theatrical element – a Dr./patient interview, with light and shade in the script, my favourite line was Jake’s ~ referring to Sean qualifying as a Doctor (in Creative Writing) “What are you going to do? Prescribe Poetry?” We all performed a poem and one of mine ‘Humans’ was divided up so all 4 of us took part.

It was a first for Uncorked and it worked effectively. Great impact for a taster. It was an enjoyable evening, big thanks to Kieran Davis for coming and being my support.

helen ivory martin figura

 

On Friday I had to get up early and head to Shrewsbury for a totally wonderful workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura – who I almost had the chance to meet in 2015, possibly perform on the same night but failed to meet the deadline. It was great to finally meet them both and I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour workshop at the Theatre Severn.

It was worth every minute of journey (my SATNAV took me via Bridgnorth and up some incredibly steep hills)!

I came home laden with books and ideas. Unfortunately I was too tired to do anything other than add the books to the poetry shelf/bookcase and curl up in a ball and sleep.

Today I was planning on another writing group/workshop but with a full day in Ledbury and a still rather full (possibly over-flowing) In Tray – I have given it a miss.

The thing I am missing at the moment is writing time, other than the commissions. I have read articles where poets say they struggle to write anything other than commission… I really hope that doesn’t happen to me. I will give myself some space soon and see if I get my voice back.