Tag Archives: Collaboration

PoARTry Ledbury

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In 2017 Rick Sanders organised the first PoARTry Gallery event in Cradley Heath. Back in March 2018 he asked me to be part of his next PoARTry venture in Ledbury at the Artistree Gallery and I was only too happy to oblige.

I am a fan of Art and had I not pursued Drama, Art may have become my forte. I have always enjoyed working with artists, writing ekphrastic poetry and getting my work out there in installations and other creative means. The aspect of this project I found most exciting was how our words would inspire new artwork and new art would enable new poems to be created.

Read about the initial meeting & the Cradley Heath project here.

Leena Batchelor and myself took on the role of organising a Launch event with readings and talks by the Artists.

We launched on July 11th. It was a magical evening and a special night as the gallery is only open during the daytime usually. Not all artists and poets could make it and the exhibition showcased more artists than feature in this review.

Ledbury PoARTry SHARE

The following photographs are © Rick Sanders. More photos of mine will be added.

I was lucky enough to meet Ken Calvert at the Homend Poets event during Ledbury Poetry Festival and booked him to come and play to welcome people into the gallery, to lead into the interval and to round the night off at the end.

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Following a brief introduction from Rick and I we started our Gallery Tour/Launch.

 

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Poet Nicky Heatherington burns her work into wood. This creates Art on its own. Nicky collaborated with artist Val Randle.

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They also bravely went first.

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Artist Kate Culling partnered with poet Bill Thomas.

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Poet Bill Thomas explaining how the work of Kate Culling inspired his writing.

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Kate was kind enough to allow one of her artworks to be used on the event promotional material. I thoroughly enjoyed her dynamic explanation of the work.

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Artists from all disciplines worked on the project – a glassblower Ken Howell incorporates the poem into his artwork.

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Marion Steele was teamed with Leena Batchelor.

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Marion Steele kindly allowed us to use her artwork on promotional material.

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Alan Richardson partnered Rick Sanders. I think their humour complimented each other well.

 

More music from Ken before the interval.

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During the interval people had time to mingle and view the exhibition at their leisure. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other better and as poetry circles tend to be fairly tight knit/small it is always a pleasure to get to know new people.

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My partner was artist Molly Bythell and I enjoyed hearing all about her work and meeting up again as we based our collaboration online.

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Molly Bythell kindly let us use her artwork on promotional material.

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Molly and I used 1 existing work chosen from each other to create 1 new work each and then used those new works to create another new work. Three pieces each. I displayed 5 poems but wrote 20, including a sequence of 11 about Dementia. Here I read three of the poems, one not displayed.

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Angela Davis partnered Maggie Reed.

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Angela Davis kindly allowed her artwork to be used on promotional material.

 

Bill Denny partnered Brian Graham.

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Tim Stavert talked about his collaboration with Paddy Hannigan before sharing his poems.

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And finally Hilary Davies and Myfanwy Fox shared their work.

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The evening closed with a couple of songs by Ken Calvert.

Huge thanks to the Artistree Team for helping Leena and I make this Launch a success. Special thanks to Marion Steele, Bill Thomas and Kate Culling who helped with logistics enormously.

It was fascinating hearing from the artists and the poets about where the muse came from and how they collaborated together. Another aspect of the evening was some pairs meeting each other for the first time and a reunion for the March meeting group. Seeing what other collaborators had come up and listening to how the various pairings worked together was insightful and enjoyable.

The work was all exceptionally high quality and a number of artists sold their pieces.

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I think it was a successful mission for everyone and was definitely an exhibition enjoyed by many visitors to the gallery.

PoARTry Ledbury

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – School Poetry Project

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Back in early Spring I attended a workshop where we were offered the opportunity to get involved with a project between Young Writers in Local Schools & the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

I registered my interest in March with Elizabeth Dollimore the Informal Learning and Programmes Manager and by April had received my two letters from local school children, in which they set a poetry challenge. My real challenge was the fast turn around with just 6 days to write two poems and get them posted back to the team at the Birthplace. As you know, April was busy – the week I was writing for this I was also organising the Poetry Exhibition at the Jinney Ring, facilitating 1 workshop for The Basement Project, attending another one (ironically in Stratford – but my poems were not ready to drop in) and had tickets to Idle Women.

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I knew I had to get the writing done before the weekend and here I faced a new set of challenges. Mainly everything had to be handwritten – nowadays I type almost everything. Still I thought it would be good for the children to see how great their handwriting was in comparison!

The poems were about peace, one pupil asked for humour and the other asked for nature to be included. The resulting poem ‘A Need for Peace’ was written using a rhyming scheme (rare in my work) and took a few drafts before it scanned properly, I think it was funny – hopefully my pupil did too. The second poem ‘Ground Control’ was brimming with nature and used terms to describe aspects of nature like ‘Komorebi’. They were both fun to write.

Along with the poems sent back we had to give the pupil a new poetry challenge which they then used in a workshop.

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This month I received an email from Julie Harris-Grant to say;

The local primary school has been in touch to say that the children were absolutely thrilled with their replies!  Your letters have really inspired them to engage with and enjoy a variety of poetry.

A second workshop was held at MENCAP and this has produced yet more exciting work for us to share.

 

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I enjoy any poetry projects which focus on Peace & Reconciliation, I love to collaborate and try something new.

It has been a pleasure to help connect young people to poetry and I am looking forward to the final event on the 23rd June as part of the

Poetry Festival 2018

Inspired by a theme of Peace and Reconciliation

where we get to meet the school teams and hear some of the work they have produced.

Black Box Poetry
Saturday 23 June, 2.00 -3.00 pm

Local school children, community groups and poetry enthusiasts have all been working with In-Public to create poetry about peace. Join us to hear the poems they created and be inspired by the talent and creativity on show.

This will take place at The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford Upon Avon, CV37 6QW

 

January in Review

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typewriter-1227357_1280 2017 started well with lots of diary dates, events and writing time. Of course it was also back to work after a fortnight (unpaid) break. Much needed. I made it back to Ludlow to support Claire Walker who was one of the Headline poets alongside Matt Black. A little like not realising two years had passed since I last watched Ash Dickinson perform, I cannot believe a year has passed since I last went to the Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room! This time warp has to do with working for 18 months on Fragile Houses I think. Months slip by fast and the first thing that has to go when you shackle yourself to the desk to write is faraway events.

Week 1:

Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin in Ludlow, it was lovely to see everybody again and I hope to make it back before 2018. Matt Black (who I first years ago at a special event we both performed at The Ort in Birmingham  (2014), more recently we shared the floor in Birmingham at Stirchley Speaks (my Headline, back in October). headline-stirchley-speaks-oct

He was entertaining and as we had all had a conversation about vegetarianism on the journey over, apt poems in his set made us giggle.

Claire Walker was amazing, I do not think I will ever tire of hearing her perform from The Girl Who Grew into a Crocodile. She also treated us to some new poems from her next pamphlet collection.sitting room

I completed a lot of research for current writing projects and groups. I also completed a collaborative project set up in December and worked hard on submitting poetry. I had fun writing about Leonard Cohen and am keeping my fingers crossed that the editors will enjoy the results.

I missed Buzzwords in Cheltenham.

Week 2:

In December I submitted to 7 places and the rejections rolled in from 3 of them this week. We all learn to handle this but one publication in particular was dealing with a subject close to my heart and it made me a little glum that they hadn’t taken my work. They did send feedback including details of the process that the poem they nearly took went through. I will not be perturbed. Another rejection cited that the pieces weren’t best fit this time but encouraged resubmission.

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Back in 2015 I had three poems accepted for an anthology by Shabda Press on Nuclear Impact. We all signed contracts in 2016 and it has been a real labour of love for Teresa Mei Chuc who has now got the project to final proof stages. All proof read and returned and I cannot wait to see the result. The readings are all taking place in the States but I am currently looking at the logistics of video performance.

The cover has been revealed featuring the Artwork of John Sokol. Cover Art: “On the Road to Perilous” nuclear-impact-front-cover-final-cover-art-on-the-road-to-perilous-by-john-sokol I could write more poems just from a glance. This book will hopefully be in our hands later this year.

I went to SpeakEasy – where Brenda Read-Brown was headlining and what a set she treated us to. New work, powerful work, emotive (I nearly cried twice), honest and filled with passion. I was really glad that I was able to make it and witness such a performance.

I shared some new poems and gave Fragile Houses a rest, most of Worcester have bought it already and as I headlined last month and read most of it and as the last poem in there was written in 2015, I fancied sharing something newer.

I went to Stanza although I was so tired I was not much use to others and the poem I had written half an hour before leaving didn’t quite work. I do not see the point of taking perfectly polished work to groups – unless perhaps it’s a poem that has been unsuccessfully submitted a few times, in which case new eyes are good. However, I need to give my writing a chance to sit and simmer for a bit so perhaps I should try this year to get a poem ready the week before. Give it some breathing space. It is hard when you feel so attached to something, too vulnerable.

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Sadly at the weekend I said goodbye to Sally Grainger who has been my Assistant Writer for WWM Spark Writers group for the past 9 months. We had a full house for her final session and ran a great group on Scriptwriting. It was fun. I am sad to see her go.

I received exciting news about a new Literature Festival which I am currently organising a showcase/event for.

Week 3:

I spent my time mainly at work, in spare hours I was organising the festival event, missing deadlines, proof reading and writing comic poetry.

Last year I was invited to take part in a one off (now to be repeated as it was so successful) Baldy Poems presents Kings and Queens of Comedy in association with WLF (Worcester LitFest). I love the idea that WLF are fundraising via event charge at one off events throughout the year to help fund/pay for the summer festival. It is a great idea and I have loved the events that have popped up so far.

I was honoured to be one of the 6 performers (we had 8 on the night with Kieran Davis and a Special Surprise Guest joining us). I have only written about 5 funny poems and the two I had ready for this event have not seen the light of day since 2015, so I decided to emulate BaldyPoems style and kick out 6 new ones. That and I needed the material to cover a 10 minute set. More on this later.

I missed David Calcutt at Smokey Joes in Cheltenham – Poetry Refreshed and sadly I missed Clive Osman’s Waterstones book launch for his debut collection ‘Happy’. Both nights looked to be good. I had taken on extra work and with a gig Thursday night and Friday needed to sleep.

After almost 2 weeks of working full-time, I finally finished on Thursday at 5:30 and then headed over to Birmingham with Mr G and a friend, in birthday celebration mode. We went to see THE BLUE AEROPLANES at the Hare and Hounds (where UB40 played their first gig) and it was exceptional. I am so glad that I was filled with the charm of performance because it set me up for the following evening for Kings and Queens of Comedy.

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I was so nervous – worried that the audience wouldn’t find the dusted off material funny, But I forgot the universal appeal of my moustache poem, the magic of proto-type props and the delight of people who have never heard this one before. It was also funny because people who know me know that I am funny, I just do things that amuse people as I have no logical bone in my body and I have a quick, dry, wordy wit… in fact there was a turning point once upon a time between poet and comedian. The world breathes a sigh of relief.

Anyway because a lot of people now on the scene weren’t back in 2014 when I played the clown a little more, they didn’t see me as a funny poet and were quite shocked at the billing. There are now at least two people who will never take me seriously again!

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To read a full review of the evening click here

And then I had a well deserved weekend off to catch up with Mr G and writing.

Week 4:

Saw happy news and my first acceptance of 2017. That collaborative project I mentioned earlier was with Claire Walker. The result was a meeting about prompts, shared ideas, word lists and after writing editing together. After a few weeks we had a poem written by each of us from working with the other and a joint poem written line by line. The acceptance was a the poem Claire Walker wrote called ‘The Puzzle of an Ending’, a beautiful title and a hard hitting poem. It was the strongest of the collaboration.

It delights me that it exists because of an opportunity I found and a risk I took (asking another poet to partner me and risk rejection, that lack of self-belief/inner critic we all have to deal with). Fortunately, Claire was only too happy and we enjoyed this rather intense poetry pocket in our otherwise Christmassy/family orientated holidays. There will be more to come. And I am doing something here I first dreamed of in 2014. Happy.

I spent the night, along with many poetry friends at the Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham for Jacqui Rowe’s ‘Poetry Bites’. The featured poets were David Calcutt & Claire Walker (fellow V. Press poets) and Jacqui announced (which most of us already knew) that they are going to publish her first collection this year too. Her ‘Ransom Notes’ was the first pamphlet of the run in 2015 from the round I applied successfully for in 2014.

ransom Poetry Bites was a packed out night, it is so sad that this is Jacqui’s final year, but it is a phenomenal achievement to have hosted and supported such an abundant amount of poets over the years. The atmosphere was great and there were some top class floor spots as well as a V. Press collective, Kathy Gee was also reading from her collection Book of Bones.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Brumside poets I had not seen in a while, as well as listening to some inspiring and thought provoking sets.

Maybe it was the double dose of Americano coffee, or the Kitchen Garden cake… I came away buzzing and refuelled with an extra layer of poet-y energy!

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I wrote new poems for Burn’s Night, which was celebrated at 42, in Worcester on the 25th. I even made a badge – Lewis tartan, of course. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about this 18th Century rascal. It was a great night, intimate and full of heart – but not lungs or liver (haggis pun)!

I missed a workshop with Ash Dickinson, that had I not been performing in the Quiet Compere/ Wolverhampton Literature Festival the following night, I may have tried to get to. It was just a little out of range geographically and no way I could have got myself there on time after work without the help of a helicopter and pilot… neither of which I have. Oh, to be a rich girl! So I just have to brush away the disappointment and hope for another opportunity in the future.

This brings us to the finale of the poeting week – the first literature festival to be held in Wolverhampton and a great line up of events across all genres. I was lucky enough to be one of the ten poets on the bill for Sarah Dixon’s Quiet Compere Event at the Art Gallery on Friday evening.

What an evening it was. Fabulous line-up, including two poets who are new to me (always a pleasure), Tom McColl & Gerry Potter. What a venue, the room was majestic and had one of the best backdrops to poetry I have ever seen. The setting was incredible. It was a wonderful night and I was still buzzing the next day. You can read the full review of the event and find out more about the performers here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/quiet-compere-wolverhampton-literature-festival/

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I got home to find emails about up and coming books and spent a while chatting to the other buzzing poets online. A fine night.

walsall-arboretum I finished my weekend at Open Poetry at Walsall Arboretum with David Calcutt and an amazing number of poets on Sunday. Despite the horrible rain, bad driving conditions and leaving a ton of work on the To Do List, I headed out for some poeting fun.

It was a great couple of hours, lots of moving and humorous work was shared. I met some new poets and saw John Mills, who had battled the unnavigable roads of Walsall to experience David’s event for the first time. walsall-arb © 2016 Walsall Arboretum

Then I spent a horrendous amount of time sorting out unread and unmanaged emails instead of completing applications which I now need to do tomorrow after work. There are lots of deadlines in the next 72 hours and I plan to hit them all.

Wolverhampton Literature Festival finished with a Poetry Slam that Nick Lovell won and Willis – a.k.a Rick Sanders came 2nd and Rob Francis, 3rd. Well done, boys! An all male sweep. I was sad not to be able to go to the festival this year. Other plans had already been made. Hopefully they will do another one next year.

The Extra Few (Writing) Days

Mainly spent Monday night at the computer pulling a 6 hour shift (after a day at work), writing new material, researching, organising events, writing applications and submitting. There are so many end of month submissions and I have been busy enjoying myself and thinking the end of the month was a while away yet and here we are. I am pleased that I have managed a few more submissions as I have not been keeping the resolution of weekly output, as advised by another poet.

Obviously there is a certain amount of selectivity both in terms of material, feel, attitude, time etc. My aim is for monthly submissions, which should be entirely achievable – as the months missed last year were to do with the final editing process of the pamphlet.

I will spend the final day of the month (in the evening, after work) getting productive with my next To Do List and making final submissions too.

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There are so many exciting things planned for February already, I can hardly believe we have reached the end of January!

I hope you had a good one, filled with spirit and joy …. oh and writing!

 

Thank you for the Music (and Mouth)

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Mouth & Music

My most local venue for a night of spoken word and music, always fun and entertaining, has come to a temporary close.

On the 12th January we all went to the BHG to celebrate 4 years of Mouth & Music with hosts Heather Wastie and Sarah Tamar, it was also a goodbye to the current landlords. Mouth & Music itself is taking a six month break and then Sarah Tamar is hoping to start up again.

Heather Wastie (Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate) hosted the evening which was headlined by Humdrum Express (Ian Passey) and Sarah Tamar.

It was a lively evening of music and poetry celebrating the Boars Head and Mouth & Music.

Here are some photos taken by Peter Williams

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Heather Wastie

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Maggie Doyle MM Maggie

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Nina Lewis & an absent Tim Scarborough MM Me2

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Bert Flitcroft – Current Staffordshire Poet Laureate

Headliners ~ Ian Passey  MMIan Passey &

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As a tribute to the years of Mouth & Music (my first visit came at the end of 2014) I have gathered together my favourite bits. From Collaboration to Clog Dancing – thank you for the poetry, song & music!

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2013

  • Dressing up as Aladdin for the Pantomime themed night and my first Mouth & Music.

mm Aladdin Humdrum Express headlined alongside Tim Cranmore (who was then Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate 2013)

Read all about it here MM 23

 

Sarah Tamar as Mrs Claus                              Christmas Laureates Present and Future

2014

  • Mouth & Music March 2014 in which I discovered the wonderfully talented Adrian Mealing, Headlining as half of The Very Grimm Brothersthe very grimm bros

Mouth & Music: Current Affairs

  • In April my first collaboration was born thanks to the Dualogue theme, Tim Scarborough and I worked together to enhance my poem Rainwatch – using a mood drum and wrote Social SatNav together. A turning point for me. A collaboration I would love to explore again sometime.

Mouth & Music – What a Great Night!

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We collaborated on new material in May for a Gallery exhibit by Najma Hush, at this point we were potentially taking bookings.AE7

 

  • MUSICAL COLLABORATION M&M (May 2014)

Nina Lewis & Tim Scarborough

The amazing ‘Body Hair’ themed Mouth and Music and the Moustache poem was born,  moustache mm alongside a Hairy Toe poem.

Tim & I took the act on the road as far as Birmingham. Z Andrea Smith Tim

After this Tim and I don’t perform together until 2015 and although we are both open to collaboration, haven’t managed anything since. One day…

  • Captivating Clog Dancing accompanying Sirkel.
  • In the month I celebrated one year of Poetry – One Year A Poet M&M brought us Ben Norris.MMBenNorris MM Sept Ben MM me

This was around the time I got my first feature slot in Birmingham and was working on a commission for Birmingham Literature Festival 2014. 1 nl2NAKED_LUNGS_200x200px

  • October 2014 and Saffron Toms came and shot amazing photos. mouth-music-poster-oct14 This was also the month my Birmingham Poets came to support Jasmine and I saw my two geographical poetry worlds combine.
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2015

  • January Spark Off saw me captain a team and perform with Tim again. Which was all superb despite no rehearsals and was great fun even after I lost a laureate from my team (two, is too many) and generally lost to the other side, having not bribed the MC/Judge (who will remain nameless, ahem! Mr Passey) with pints of virtual alcohol.
What’s that? Bitter? Me? It was OVER a year ago! Tusch. (HA HA)
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  • Mouth & Music KAF Special – Slightly Circus August 2015 – a definite highlight!

    Maggie Doyle, Nina Lewis, Heather Wastie & Dave Reeves

I think I have only missed about 3 or 4 M&M events over the years, there are more posts about Mouth & Music than those linked here, go and have a click about to find them.

RELATED LINKS:

A Great Night at Mouth & Music – 5th Event of the Month 

Mouth and Music – 3rd Event of the Month

Mouth & Music Tuesday 10th: New Material – Great Night!

M & M July

Fergus McGonigal & Humdrum Express

Mouth & Music 28 – Collaboration with Tim Scarborough

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Mouth and Music 28 – Tuesday 13th May

 

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Tim Scarborough and I collaborated for the first time at Mouth and Music in April, since then we have worked together again for a Photogiraffe Exhibition Event – this was our 3rd collaboration and it came to be as we were all talking at the exhibition and Tim mentioned he was struggling with the theme. Heather told us to work together and we didn’t need much more convincing.

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It is great fun collaborating, I would encourage any artists to do it. It depends on who you pick, Tim and I are lucky, there seems to be lots of creative synchronicity and we don’t disagree in an overly dramatic, diva-ish way! Another reason the sets work well in performance is we REHEARSE – something I am guilty of not putting the time into my own act. Having said this the 4 hour rehearsal time we had before Tuesday was to co-write and edit our poems for the set. We created two new pieces and polished up a couple of individual poems with each other’s input, we had just 1 poem which used percussion and we blocked out where that would happen.

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So when we took to the stage that the very 1st time we had performed these poems together. We managed to overcome a slightly shaky start and silence and a groan* are still a reaction! *The endline of Tim’s poem was humorous but in a lavatorial way, to make the audience feel better, I announced that we would take their silence and groan and raise them. This worked – and the set/material got stronger.

We finished with two funny poems which we thoroughly enjoyed performing. The Hair That Wouldn’t Stop and Moustache Poem with Fact Bombs (written with Jonny Fluffypunk in mind) who sports some great face hair stylizer of his own.

We took a medley of our sets on the road to Birmingham last Friday and included these two hairy poems in our set list. They were even better the 2nd time, but that’s another post!

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© 2014 brightlearning.com

 

I have since read messages from Jonny Fluffypunk (who is an amazing stand up performance poet) requesting space in Bristol to help him spend the day rehearsing! If you are in Bristol, let me know if you have space to accommodate a very lively and lovely poet rehearse during the school day! I definitely need to free up time to practise sets with more than a quick read through with a stopwatch!

Mouth and Music is always a great night, entertaining, relaxed and oozing with talent. It was good to see Paul Francis made it across from Much Wenlock (it isn’t just me who heads miles away for gigs), it was good to have time to talk to him and other artists. There were lots of new to this event open mic-ers too, which is always good to see/hear.

I really enjoyed the headline acts – Four Tart Harmony, managed with just 3 voices and were incredible, I had experienced a bit of a dippy down day and they really raised my spirits. I have their business cards and wouldn’t hesitate to book them for any parties in the future – should I be planning any.

Jonny, of course was extremely funny, I didn’t mean to heckle him, it just came out – hadn’t realised he wasn’t asking a question, he hadn’t even finished his sentence. I got to chat to him afterwards, he remembered me from the Worcester SpeakEasy gig (flattered) and he didn’t believe we had written the moustache poem as homage to him, his turn to be flattered.

mm jfp   All in all a great night! So good Tim nearly forgot to take his drum home (which may have confused people as we didn’t use it) – he had gone prepared to work alongside another open mic musician, Mr Scarborough, much in demand.

 

Next month’s theme is adjectives…. pretty much anything then, I will still write something specifically for it, currently working on a poem/tribute for a friend who is leaving the country next week.

 

RELATED LINKS:

Moustaches in May Heather Wastie’s official review on the M&M Blog.

Beyond Busy!

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I will blog about all my recent activity properly when I stop for breath! This morning Tim and I rehearsed for an event next week, I edited and printed a load of poems to use over the next 4 days, I am still desperately, DESPERATELY trying to finish a submission before Midnight, I surprised myself by submitting some poems last night, about an hour off deadline… ‘last minute Lil’!

I have less than an hour before I drive over to my old flat (hopefully a few weeks off completion now) for the boiler service and then I have to race home to get a lift to tonight’s Stanza. There is a clashing event I would love to attend in Stratford – if you are over that way get yourself down to the Picture House and enjoy Nadia Kingsley and David Calcutt perform their recent collaboration – oh, and buy the book, I did!

Tomorrow I have the day off – but Mr G has compost purchasing, allotment sorting and busy plans. I will be able to catch up a bit with backlogs I hope, if I can get my brain to forget the Poetry Slam I have entered on Sunday!

PS there is even more exciting news to share on the performance front too!

Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow.

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Mouth & Music – What a Great Night!

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1441315_10151891604167737_769844637_n This month’s theme was all about encouraging collaboration, working in pairs, approaching someone you have never worked with before… the initial thought -after it was announced by Heather in March, was DREAD!

Finding the time was an issue…. would anyone agree to partner me…… all my insecurities came out to play and I buried my head in the sand for a few days…. then when I decided to grab the opportunity, I gave it a few more ‘be cool’ days, in case anyone emailed me – or so as not to pounce and appear too eager. In my mind I imagined everyone sending out frantic emails and pairing up and it would be like picking a team in PE*!

* Except this never happened to me as I played hockey, County Netball and was a top 8 long distance runner back in the day (when I was fit and danced) – I was usually picked around the middle of the team creations and so never felt too bad….

Thing was with Mouth & Music, when it was announced I knew exactly who I wanted to work with.

Tim Scarborough is a very talented Percussionist amongst other things – including a poet! A few months ago he treated us all to some music on his mood drum … it was beautiful he transported the whole room into a place of quiet, meditative thought and I for one wanted the sound to NEVER end! As soon as I heard it – I knew of the perfect poem and thought about asking him and then never gave it another thought – until in March this collaboration was mentioned.

Also as an aside for no reason other than force of habit the people I know all sit on the right and the others sit on the left – I wanted to bridge that gap!

I sent Tim an email, fully expecting him to not agree – to my surprise and delight he agreed.

Turns out not many people rose to the challenge of a duet. And we really did – organising 3 rehearsal/writing mornings. (1 of which I had to cancel to work)… 2 rehearsals and 2 hours typing is more prep than I have ever put in – and I got really nervous about performing again – as I didn’t want to let Tim down (which nearly happened when my phone screen blanked out on a cue line)!

Our rehearsals were great, I have not collaborated with other artists since my time involved in the performance circuit and theatre, back in the 90’s. It is something I miss…. especially with the solitude of writing – something I’ve had to get used to.

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Rehearsal 1: we tried the mood drum and my Rain Watch poem – played around with it, recorded, re-read and rehearsed. It was instantly fine and right and Tim commented tonight that he wished he’d come to it cold, having never heard the poem and improvised (maybe next time Tim)!

Tim also talked about his Social SATNAV idea and we both worked on and shared poems from our gender perspective.

The 2nd rehearsal was a fortnight later – I had managed to work and rewrite my poem a few times and needed some help with the 2nd voice, we worked on this re-reading and getting it right. Then we turned to Tim’s notebook and came up with the idea of the inner monologue – and the inner, inner monologue – the socially unacceptable bit that we switch off for his original SatNav poem.

It was great fun writing the voice and using words I wouldn’t normally feature, including some swearing. This collaboration gave me the opportunity to write pieces in a new voice.

We also practised Rain Watch. So by the end of our collaboration – we had 2 new dual speaking performance poems and a re-emergence of one of my poems.

People loved our set, rehearsing paid off. It was lovely to hear people had enjoyed it and I cannot begin to express how brilliant it felt to share the stage.

The other performers brave enough to collaborate and work on material were of course our delectable hosts – Sarah Tamar & Heather Wastie, they even introduced props and entertained us as always.

Andrew Owens (host of Drummonds 42) and Michelle Crosbie (headliner at Lichfield Poetry Alight) treated us to a dualogue, Cathy & Alex – a story Andrew wrote, told in 2 voices. They were very brave (they both sang) and were first up. It was great.

Despite Heather inviting people to perform solo, the theme had put many regulars off and we were all a little worried about being thin on the ground (it would have definitely been warmer with more bodies) – we needn’t have worried -Mike Alma and Mogs shared poetry in touching and funny solo performances and we were treated to some music and audience participation with the sandwich love song.  It was a great night with electrifying atmosphere and everyone enjoyed it!

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I was looking forward to the Headline poets, I have had the pleasure of hearing both David Calcutt (at Poetry Bites) and Nadia Kingsley (Shrewsbury Coffee House) before, never together. It was very enjoyable and they had books to sell ‘Road Kill’ was the one used for the performance, I shall look forward to an Easter Holiday read fest! AND this set inspired a seed of an idea between myself and fellow poet Claire Walker.

And as for Bleeding Hearts – what words can be used (I had better find some) richly political, rock meets folk at high speed and meshes as one and once again a chance for audience participation!

To top the whole night off … Mr Mike Alma, who has been entertained by Marie-Celeste epic journey tales since before the New Year gave me a SATNAV! Wow! Dreams came true. I may be able to find gigs in the future – no longer do I have to use AA Route finder (other route searches are available) – which I am sorry to say, lies a lot and leaves much of the important bits of the journey out – and gives journey durations 50% less than they are generally – causing me (if I find the gig at all) to be late! open road

Now I will have to come up with ever-more creative excuses like the battery went flat, I ignored the SATNAV or the dog ate my homework…. for being late or lost.

BIG THANKS Mike 🙂 thank-you-typewriter

 

And just to finish this post – here is a lovely review from Mouth and Music;

It has not been customary to mention individual open mic performers in post-gig write-ups, but here’s the exception: Huge thanks to Andrew Owens and Michelle Crosbie for collaborating on a story by Andrew and, even huger thanks to Nina Lewis and Tim Scarborough who not only collaborated but also wrote some great new material. Thanks also to the regular open mic-ers who came along to listen and/or perform solo.

Featured spoken word artists, David Calcutt and Nadia Kingsley showed how page poetry should be performed. Quality work delivered with clarity and humour. Featured musicians, Bleeding Hearts were big, bold, entertaining and political. We sang along and stamped our feet, which also helped us get warm! It was brass (as they say up north where it’s even colder) but regulars are getting used to coming prepared for any temperature. It’s got to be warmer in May! See you then, when we’ll be rebranding, thanks to Gel Newey (Bleeding Hearts bass player) as Gob and Racket 🙂

I am still buzzing nearly 24 hours later! 😉

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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Diverse Dancers: I

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I am performing (alongside many other local talents) tomorrow at the opening of this Gallery event – writing the poems at the moment… it will be my 2nd gallery opening and I am looking forward to it!

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Najma Hush’s, Diverse Dancers is the title given to a  large and ever expanding compilation of photographs, primarily concerned with the multiplicity of varying dance traditions, unique to a variety of different cultures and subcultures.

This collection has been produced with a keen interest in the grace of dancer’s movements and seeks to reveal the eloquence of each pose, jump, spin and lift.  As this project expands and develops, Hush seeks to come closer to interpreting and presenting the exceptional language of bodies that never lie.

Diverse Dancers Part I:   An Exhibition for Exhibitionists, with Art, Poetry and Music. Diverse Dancers Part I:
An Exhibition for Exhibitionists, with Art, Poetry and Music.

Presently, a small and miscellaneous selection from this collection is exhibiting at ORT Cafe, Birmingham, UK (19th Feb-5th Mar 2014).

Look out for the next post on Diverse Dancers, where you can view the photographs from the open exhibition night and get better acquainted with all the amazing performers who will come…

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