Tag Archives: David Calcutt

Open Poetry for PIPKA

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PIPKA is a self organised refugee camp set up to help Refugees in Greece.

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Performers included:

Set 1
Mike Alma
Mickey Ali
Romalyn Ante
Suzan Atasu
Richard Archer
Elaine Christie
Ann Clarson
Tina Cole
Leanne Cooper

Guest: Helen Calcutt

Set 2
PIPKA Aurelie Blondeau

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Emily Galvin
Amanda Glover
Penny Harper
Jane James
Janet Jenkins
Gerald Kells
Nina Lewis

Set 3
Liz Mills
John Mills
Neil Richards
Janet Smith
Mel Woodend
Sue Wood

Guest: Christina Thatcher

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It took Mike and I an epic amount of time to get to Walsall – 2 hours (!) as there were motorway closures and traffic queues at stand still throughout the route, we did make it in time for the 2nd and 3rd sets.

It was great to see everyone again at the Arboretum, it feels like a long time since I have been there. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see Helen and Christina in action either. They were performing at Waterstones, which I believe has been postponed/rescheduled but was on a date I couldn’t attend. I was not expecting a buffet but was very glad of it – Mike and I had not eaten and were planning to grab lunch in the cafe before the event as we set off plenty early enough to do so.

Also, the main focus was to raise money for charity, so giving a donation to perform was all part of it too. If I had a valid passport I would go and do something too. Especially after hearing Aurelie Blondeau Calcutt talk about her experience with Helen out there.

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Elaine Christie © 2017

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Helen Calcutt © 2017

Below: all photos by Elaine Christie, unless otherwise stated.

 

 

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Many people shared important poems about the refugee crisis.

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Janet Jenkins © 2017

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Christina Thatcher performed a couple of sets from her collection ‘More Than You Were’ a book about grief and losing her father. Emotive the exploration of a relationship that is far from perfect and no longer able to be reconciled. This is a hard and beautiful collection.

https://christinathatcher.com/

In July 2013, David Thatcher died of a drug overdose in America. More than you were was written by his daughter, to try to understand what came after. The result is a striking collection of poetry which explores addiction, family politics, childhood memories and grief. © 2017, Parthian Books.

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After the event Helen sent this message of gratitude.

Pikpa poetry was brilliant yesterday. Thank you everyone who came and performed for us. Listened to us. And donated. We have now raised £610 for Lesvos Solidarity – Pikpa. Nearly half-way there.

A special thanks to Christina Thatcher for travelling all the from sunny Cardiff to read from her new collection – stirring, compelling, brilliant. To Aurelie Blondeau Calcutt for the very positive, informative talk. And to Pop for putting it all on for us. Love to you all, it was a truly successful (and inspiring) afternoon.

Helen Calcutt © 2017

EC2 Elaine Christie © 2017

If you would like to make a donation you can do so here.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/pikpa-medical-uk

In May 2017, my sister-in-law and I visited PIKPA, a self-organised refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, providing support to the most vulnerable individuals seeking refuge. We were both inspired and saddened by what we saw. After speaking with Dimitri Ippioti, one of the two nurses on PIKPA, we decided to focus on crowdfunding for healthcare.

Helen Calcutt © 2017

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Stourbridge Literature Festival

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I have been busy this Spring organising festival events. Stourbridge are having there first Literature Festival and it has been received well so far.

Tomorrow afternoon VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE are performing at 3:30pm

David Calcutt, Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself will entertain you for an hour with poetry from our pamphlets/books.

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Tickets are £5.50 and for that you gain entry to ALL the events. It is a superb line up and they are also raising funds for Amnesty International.

http://wwwkatiefitzgeralds.moonfruit.com/literary-fest/4593576419

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Do come and support us if you can.

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!

 

Vanguard Readings – Birmingham

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2016 has been a busy year, which is why the blog posts are fewer. My pamphlet has reached final proof stages after 17 months of hard work. The editing process is a new experience for me and due to the nature of the subject (core of which is family/growing up) it has taken time to cross that gauntlet between autobiographical recount and something interesting enough for people to read, feel, attach themselves to.

I am in final proof stages with my pamphlet now and it is a great  feeling.

There are gaps I want to fill on the blog and now I have started to work on INKSPILL, I want to fill the gaps before the next big project takes over.

VANGUARD READINGS

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Back in March I attended Vanguard Readings, in Birmingham. Richard Skinner is the man behind Vanguard. Vanguard Readings are hosted monthly in London from October to July, they feature new writers and established authors, 6 writers each read for 10 minutes.

Richard realised the need for expanding out and touring Vanguard Readings regionally.

vanguardI am glad he did. A whole evening being carried away by poetry. Readers; David Calcutt, Helen Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane, Emma Purshouse and Richard Skinner.

With plenty of time in the interval to mingle, chat and catch up. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came away feeling inspired and rekindled.

Vanguard Readings take place at The Peckham Pelican, SE London.

A Review of March

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March started with a performance at ‘The Works’ Canteen’, a night of poetry, music and storytelling at the Black Country Living Museum, hosted by the museum’s poet in residence, Dave Reeves. An event that has been on my radar for a long time and one of the few events I blogged about in a timely manner. The Guest Poets were Jan Watts & R.M Francis. Rob Francis hosts Permission to Speak (PTS) and took a collective to perform at the museum, including me.

It was a fabulous evening – read more about it here.

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I received my long awaited and much anticipated copy of Under the Radar – Nine Arches Press, where my poems Fortiori and The Gift share the pages with a plethora of poetry talent. These poems are from my forthcoming collection and I was delighted to have them accepted. They were accepted in 2015 and it seems like a lifetime ago now.

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I completed research to write poetry celebrating Women’s History Month and took great pleasure rewriting a poem about Annie Edison Taylor, the first person over Niagara Falls in a barrel and she survived, her only injuries came from trying to get out of the barrel after the drop. All about the adventure! Her poor cat was the test lunge, the cat was barely harmed either.

My work with Writing West Midlands was secured for another year.

The second week of March involved a lot of writing, more submissions were sent out and admin tasks, which every writer could use a PA for. I was asked to judge a slam for Womanly Words, in the end I performed instead. I missed events I had planned to go to, day job work kept me busy and with the heavy writing schedule I didn’t have the energy. I dream of a poetry chauffeur.

The WWM group met our new Assistant Writer and worked on our book project. I missed a Memorial event for Sammy Joe at The Edge, which was on the same day.

I enjoyed ‘Poetry by the Lake’ in the Arboretum, Walsall with David Calcutt and performed a short set. It was a sunny day and the park was full. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended.

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The third week of March could be the reason why I ended up fading away. I was working full time and also had a timetable to get all my submissions out on time. The writing still needed editing and polishing.

  • I wrote over 12 new poems.
  • Sent 8 submissions.
  • Wrote a set of poems for Woman’s History month.
  • Took bookings for next month and the summer.

I missed events I had hoped to attend. Three of which fell on the same night. I also missed WLF & Fringe Earth Hour which I wanted to support. I had already committed to the Vanguard Readings, with Richard Skinner. An amazing night of poetry from Helen Calcutt, Emma Purshouse, David Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane and Richard Skinner. I have yet to blog about this event and wish I had managed it in real time.

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I performed at Worcester Arts Workshop for the first time, for Women’s History Month, it is always lovely to come across new (to me) poets. It was a pleasant evening, vibrant, warm atmosphere and lots of support and love for women, organised by Feminista Leisa Taylor. I am grateful to have been part of it.

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By Week 4, I barely knew my name. I had a writing day (they do not exist as much as I would like), worked on my manuscript (approaching what I hope is final editorial stages), I marked WORLD POETRY DAY, missed a photo shoot with fellow Womanly Words poets, wrote a short article on poetry and completely forgot about Stanza! It fell on Good Friday and Mr G and I had had an action packed start to the Easter weekend.

The end of March was slightly strange as I took a break from most of my writing and performance schedule for Easter and never started again. The last few days of the month were mostly offline. I proofread copy of an up and coming anthology. Another lingering process which started last year. It will be a delight to finally read the collection. I have the proof copy but I want to curl up with the real thing.

I finished the month with a workshop in Stratford with Angela France and submitted the blog as a participant for napo2016button2

Review of the Month January 2016

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What a strange start to the year, so much change and loss. I do not feel that I can write a review of this month without a mention of Sammy Joe, who sadly passed away on the 5th January. Events that I attend weeks later are still making tributes to her and many of us still cannot believe that she has gone. Her funeral is early February and a donation page has been set up to raise money for Mental Health Charities.

Many of us (artists and non-artists) suffer mental health issues from time to time or all the time, it is the nature of using our minds, the depths a creative soul can rise and fall. Anyway instead of flowers some of us are pledging a donation in the hope that other people can experience a better kind of care and understanding.

I for one find it difficult to imagine not seeing Sammy at an event again, my thoughts are still very much with her family and close ones, her daughter and everyone who has known her. Whether you knew her for a few years or more, she will have touched your life in some way either through her brutally honest poetry or through conversation or her cuddly hugs. I wish I had known her for longer than I have, I feel good to have known her and thank her for all our heart to hearts.

Rest in Peace  Sammy x BL RH Sammy Joe © Rangzeb Hussain 2015

 

 CHANGES ON THE CIRCUIT – EVENTS

This month also saw the end of Mouth & Music for a while, back in 6 months time hopefully.

SpeakEasy will still continue as it is part of the Worcester LitFest but after two years at the helm Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal are retiring from organising and MCing the event, the last chance to catch them hosting will be next month.

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JANUARY – BACK TO WRITING

For me January was the month I learnt to swim again *not literally. The end of 2015 from November onwards saw a slow decline in productivity, I found I was unable to write, by December I was barely trying. I had the weight of other things crowding my mind and the ‘love of writing’ spell broke for a while. This deflated me, as it was the first dip I had felt since embarking back into a writing life. It usually makes me feel great, even during periods of editorial rejection or non-submission, but by the end of 2015 I had ground to a halt. I knew I would pass GO again, just wasn’t sure when. I tried not to worry, but wasn’t happy with the negative projection I was giving writing.

I knew I would still carry on with this dream, but was dreading January becoming another winter month of no writing.

Fortunately the month kicked off a few days in with a Claire Walker Workshop, in which I managed to write a poem and faith was restored. The action plan was drawn up and I organised 4 writing days this month as well as working evenings and weekends to get everything done. There has been a lot of editing too.

I wrote over 21 new poems and submitted work to 9 different places. See I told you I meant business. It still amazes me that organising submissions can still take 3-5 hours even when the material is ready. A few revision lessons in not leaving things to the last minute, have managed that well as everything to be sent by 31/1 was actually out by 3oth! Leaving me a whole day at the end of this month to get ready for February. Yes the Action Plan is already saved.

This is my year of WRITING (I keep telling myself).

2013 the year for (re)learning and finally finding poetry

2014 the year of the gig, festivals and commissioned work

2015 the year of headlining and writing my first chapbook

2016 the year of editing/writing

I have had poetry accepted by I Am Not A Silent Poet, Abridged, Maligned Species Fairacre Press. A total of 5+ poems out there for eyes to read. That’s smashing. I will write more about these publications next month.

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Poems for Ashraf Fayadh published in I Am Not a Silent Poet

Expectation – Abridged Floodland Issue

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Quantum Wonderment – Fairacre Press, Maligned Species Project Spider E-book

I also discovered the poetry of Patience Agbabi. I went to watch her perform at The Hive. I enjoyed a night at the 52 Launch this evening and will blog about both events next month.

Week 1

Workshop – with Claire Walker, new poetry written, performed at The Ort, booked Headline slot for February.

Week 2

Booked tickets for Patience Agbabi & Liz Berry, performed at Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy, went to Poets by the Lake to watch Sarah James, Bert Flitcroft & Roy McFarlane – an event facilitated by David Calcutt, submitted poems, wrote new ones – including some I performed in my set at SpeakEasy, Daniel Sluman invited me to his book launch in February.

Week 3

Wrote and submitted more poetry, published on I Am Not A Silent Poet, thanks Reuben Woolley, I read a lot about Ashraf Fayadh and watched other poets and politicians performing his work, there was an online event on the 22nd in support of his release but I was working my day job and unable to participate. I received a nice rejection email from Little Lantern Press, I had sent work for the next anthology on Loss back in 2015. I started to research modern love and wrote a poem about pearly presents which I took to Stanza.

Week 4

I did a lot of research for the Maligned Species Project which was released by Fairacre Press back in the Autumn and naturally I left it until the last week to work on submissions. It is a really interesting project which again I will blog about in more detail, I have had 2 poems accepted for the spider e-book. I am delighted to have a poem published in the next issue of Abridged too, I was accepted 3x on Friday night – that was a buzz and shows what an activated action plan can achieve!

I am still working on my manuscript and have by-passed 2 self imposed deadlines. I know the editor would rather have a manuscript that is ready though, especially after all this time. It has been on the top of the desk this week and I am part way through.

I was sent an email which made my day/year – someone on twitter had tweeted that in the whole of Paper Swans Press ‘Schooldays’ Anthology the end line of my poem was their favourite line in the WHOLE book! I have read it (RECOMMEND) and know how good the poetry is!

I made more submissions and received another rejection from a magazine I have tried to break since 2015 – does one give up or keep going?

I watched Patience Agbabi perform at The Hive – wow – wowed!

I signed up for a Warwick University course Literature & Mental Health – which starts in February. I started using my Kindle Fire *Thank you Mr G – Christmas pressie!*

I have just come back from the launch of the 52 Prompt book at the MAC, more on this soon.

I wrote my ACTION PLAN for next month!

 

Poets by the Lake

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Last year David Calcutt was resident poet of Caldmore Community Garden, this year he is taking the Visitor Centre at Walsall’s Arboretum to a new level. Back in the summer, during Jimmie Rennie’s Walsall Festival workshop, David mentioned this idea during a conversation about how great the space is.

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I was hoping to make his first event in December, but – well we know what the end of 2015 was like…

The first event was an open mic, the following month it is Poets by the Lake -pre-booked events and there will be some workshops too. I know the first one of these will happen on the 13th February, which is Mr G’s birthday, so I can’t make that either. swans

This is another reason I hoped to make the 16th January, but I had a very low energy day and I wasn’t convinced driving on motorways was a good idea. I was kindly given a lift by Mike Alma and we had an enjoyable evening of poetry and music. I saw lots of poetry friends there from Staffordshire and the Black Country.

Roy Mcfarlane, Bert Flitcroft (Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate) and Sarah James performed sets of poetry and the ‘Flaky Tarts’ a three piece played and sang and even made us sing! The atmosphere in the café was vibrant, we got to hear some poems from Roy’s new collection too, which will be published by Nine Arches Press later this year.

 

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INKSPILL Guest Writer Interview David Calcutt Part 2

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Earlier on we brought you the first GUEST WRITER interview from David Calcutt.

Here is part 2

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GUEST

David Calcutt – Playwright

The thing to remember when writing a play is that no matter how much you work at the writing of it, no matter how many drafts you might go through, the finished script is not the finished piece of work. A play is only truly complete when it’s performed with an audience present. That’s when whatever life it has comes into being. The writer of a play should bear this in mind throughout the whole process of composition. And it’s not only that they’re writing for an audience. They’re writing too for the actors who have the responsibility of portraying the characters the writer has created and of enacting their story onstage. It’s an awareness of this that will help with all those practical aspects of playwriting, such as how to bring characters on and offstage, when to change from one scene to the next, how to make dialogue sound if it’s really being spoken by the characters and so on. And, very importantly, how to keep an audience entertained, gripped, enthralled throughout the entire performance. One of the best ways to bear all this in mind, of course, is to write for a particular group of actors and for a particular space so that you can constantly test if what you’re writing is working are not. I’ve been lucky enough to have done a lot of work in the past with youth and community theatre groups so I’ve been able to develop and hone my playwriting skills through writing in the very practical way. But if you don’t have that opportunity, then it helps to create that theatre space and those actors in your head and write with those in mind. And to keep stopping to read the dialogue out loud, playing all the characters yourself. Finally, it’s important to keep in my mind that the story you are telling in the play is a story for which the audience is taking place in the present. They are watching the story happen as if for real before their eyes, being involved in a moment by moment unfolding of events, and that there are forces driving these events on towards their conclusion. So, when writing the play, every single word spoken, every action and movement, must feel fresh and true and instantaneous. Nothing can be wasted.

My most recently completed work for theatre, by which I mean a piece that’s actually being performed, is a one-man play called “The Life and Times of the Tat Man”. It was originally a piece commissioned by my local museum as a way of bringing attention to some of its artefacts, and was scheduled for six performances only, in the museum itself. I came up with the idea of having a scrap merchant, a tat-man, tell stories about some of those artefacts as if they were pieces of scrap he’d collected. But during the writing process I struck through to a much deeper vein. The Tat Man himself, originally intended to be simply a storyteller, became more complex, a character in his own right who had his own story to tell too, and this became bound up with the objects he was telling stories about. This was in part practical, because I felt that, in order to hold an audience for ninety minutes, the piece needed to be more than a simple storytelling piece, it needed to have all those dramatic elements to it that I’ve just been talking about. The Tat Man needed to be a living, dramatic presence himself, so that the audience began to realise, as the play progressed, that there was some secret, inner life to the character that was slowly being revealed, and that they were witness too. But also, during the writing, there came a moment when the character himself suddenly came to life, and I began to hear his voice, and to gain access to that inner life of his. The writing then became an act of discovery, and the more I discovered the deeper became the character and the deeper the levels on which the play seemed to be working.

The challenge of writing a one man play is that you do only have that one character, and therefore the only other people they can talk to are the audience. But this is also one of its strengths. The fact that the character onstage is talking directly to them means that they can’t help but be involved. Also, for the character, the people in the audience are characters too, characters in their own story, so the audience, instead of watching passively are actively taking part in the play, they are part of the story’s dramatic unfolding. All this can make for a gripping and intense performance. As long writer, the actor and director are all working together to ensure that happens. In every performance.

From its original six performances in the museum, “The Life and Times of the Tat Man” has gone on to tour more than thirty more performances over the past eighteen months and shows no sign of stopping yet. We’re already receiving bookings that will take the show into autumn next year.

Other things that I’m working on now: I have a novel I’m trying to get published, a new play we’re looking to find money to produce and tour, and a very new piece of work that I’m not quite sure what to call yet. It has elements of prose, poetry and drama, and the closest thing to autobiography I’ve tried tackling yet. I have no idea how it will turn out. I’ll just have to wait and see.

What excites me in theatre today is what I think has always excited people – theatre that is both visceral and poetic, that is both an emotional and physical experience. Theatre that doesn’t try to hide anything behind elaborate sets or lighting or costumes, but is nothing more nor less than that simple and profound act of human beings in an open space telling their stories to fellow human beings, in a language with artifice or pretence. It’s very rare that you come across it, but is a precious jewel when you do.


Huge thanks to David for the exclusive INKSPILL interview.

honeyman Based on an interview by Nina Lewis

Visit the INKSPILL shop to buy David Calcutt’s books.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-shop/ CC bookshop-window Garry Knight

INKSPILL Guest Writer Interview David Calcutt

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GUEST Part 1

1) How did you become a writer?

I suppose you could say I started writing with a view to being published when I was in my late teens. This was when I began to think seriously about the possibility of someday making my living as a writer. I’d discovered at school that I had a talent for it, had written poems and stories for the school magazine, written short sketches to perform with my friends. And when But it was when I was at college, helped by the encouragement I received from some of the lecturers there – two in particular I can think of – that I really began to work at writing, and to think about publishing it. But that didn’t start to happen until I was in my early twenties, and for a few years then it was mostly poetry that I was writing and publishing. It was having two poems broadcast on Radio 3, on a programme called “Poetry Now” that was produced by the poet George MacBeth, that in a roundabout way turned me towards playwriting.

I found I liked the medium of radio and began to think of other ways I could have work broadcast, and one of those ways, of course, was to write plays for radio. So I started doing that. It was some years before I wrote one good enough to be broadcast. There was a lot of learning to do, trial and error, listening to radio play, thinking about the medium and the form and what was required to make them work.

2) You are a successful writer and playwright. What are the challenges distinct to each medium for you and what are the strongest similarities?

This is what’s true about all forms of writing. They all have their own particular challenges, strengths and limitations. You need to learn what those are, work to their strengths, try and make the limitations into strengths too. And, once you have a hold of the form, practice manipulating it, shape it to your own particular voice, so that you’re speaking through the form, and it feels natural to you. There are areas of crossover between the forms of course. What it was that attracted me to playwriting – first for radio, then a little later on for theatre as well – was that of all the forms I’d worked in – poetry, mainly, and some short fiction – it seemed the most fluid and adaptable, seemed, and still seems, to contain within it and to embrace the most important elements of poetry and narrative. Theatre especially has the same kind of tight restraints that poetry has that force you into a compactness of language and structure that combined with its narrative drive, it it’s done well, creates for a real forward thrust of energy. And what live theatre has that the other forms don’t have is that it takes place with and for and audience, who bring their own energy to the piece. So, while I do get a lot out of writing poetry and prose fiction, it’s writing for theatre that gives me the sense of being most deeply involved in the actual act of writing itself.

3) What’s the first hook that gets a new play started for you? Is it an image, a theme, a character?

I suppose it’s the search for that initial spark of energy in writing a play that gets me started. Trying to find that piece of action that will get the whole thing started. And a play does for the most part start with action. At least one character has to come onstage before they can speak, and they have to come onstage for a reason, have a real need to be there, a real need to say or do whatever it is they say or do first. It usually takes me a long time to get at those first few moments and I find the play can’t really take off until I’ve found them. Once I’ve done that – or once they’ve found me – then I try to imagine the whole theatre space, create it as real, and watch the characters as they enter the space and start to move and speak, listen to what it is they have to say, while at the same time being in control of the plot and the action, the story I want to tell. Those two modes of imagining are more often than not in conflict at the beginning, but once they come together, and the story I’m trying to tell is in harmony with the real, inner lives of the characters, and what they say do and do is both what is natural to them and what I want them to say and do, then I know that the play is really working.

Part 2 COMING SOON – Check in after the Character Workshop

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Huge thanks to David for giving us an exclusive interview for INKSPILL.

honeyman Interview by Nina Lewis

FIND PART 2 HERE https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-guest-writer-interview-david-calcutt-part-2/

INKSPILL SHOP

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David Calcutt caldmore david-portrait-1

Plays: https://global.oup.com/education/content/children/authors/david-calcutt/?region=uk

An engaging adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel

Author Thomas Hardy and Adapter David Calcutt

Suitable for:  Teachers of English and Drama of students aged 11-14

Price:  £10.50

ISBN: 978-0-19-837544-9
Publication date: 25/01/2016 (estimated)
Paperback: 144 pages
Dimensions: 216x170mm

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Robin Hood: http://store.barefootbooks.com/uk/robin-hood.html

This lavishly illustrated picture book makes a wonderful gift title to complement Arthur of Albion and The Arabian Nights, and features nine tales including: ‘Robin Becomes an Outlaw’, ‘Robin Meets Little John’, ‘Robin and the Widow’, and ‘Robin’s Last Battle’.

Retold By: David Calcutt

Illustrated By: Grahame Baker-Smith

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Fairacre Press: http://web236.extendcp.co.uk/fairacrepress.co.uk/tag/david-calcutt/

Road Kill, by Nadia Kingsley and David Calcutt, is a journey into the secret lives of our native animals. It starts in town, travels through suburbia, onto country roads, and then into the woods – where fact and myth mingle.
36 pp + 4 pp
paperback
245mm height, 170 mm width
3mm squareback spine
Full colour cover
First published December 2012
£4.00   (includes post and packing)
ISBN  978 0 9568275 1 7
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The Life and Times of the Tat Man: https://www.treepress.org/scripts/the-life-and-times-of-the-tat-man-dad1259a-777e-4390-8e98-5913bc8f7802

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Tony Barrett asThe Tat Man (photo by Stuart Williams).

Tony Barrett asThe Tat Man (photo by Stuart Williams).

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Alison May alison may author

Her romantic comedies, Sweet Nothing, http://bookgoodies.com/a/1781892415

Would you risk everything for love?

Independent, straight-talking Trix Allen wouldn’t. She’s been in love once before and ended up with nothing. Now safely single, Trix is as far away from the saccharine-sweet world of hearts and flowers as it’s possible to be.

Alison May Sweet Nothing

Midsummer Dreams http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00XJOEJTM

Four people. Four messy lives. One night that changes everything …
A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Alison May midsummer dreams

and the Christmas Kisses series http://bookgoodies.com/a/B011M9DZE0 published by Choc Lit.

Alison M Christmas

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You can find out more about Alison at www.alison-may.co.uk, on facebook at www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor, or by following her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay

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Daniel Sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

http://www.ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/absence-has-a-weight-of-its-own.html

© 2014 Nine Arches

“Daniel Sluman has looked mortality square in the eye and given it shape. These poems are crafted with a striking maturity, each with a heartbeat and blood in its veins. If poetry has a purpose, then this is it.” Helen Ivory

“Daniel Sluman’s debut collection crackles with energy; his language is physical, fast-paced, passionate, fearless. A real discovery by Nine Arches Press.” Penelope Shuttle

Daniel tweets here