Tag Archives: David Calcutt

Caldmore Community Garden Workshop with Poet in Residence David Calcutt

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caldmore ccg_logoI was lucky enough to make the final workshop at Caldmore Community Gardens on the 9th December, it was great to see Janet and Jimmy again and we had fun writing poetry about a particular area in the garden, we then worked together, playing with what we had written. It resulted in several promising group poems, it is now David Calcutt’s job to mesh our words together into a final poem.

Rather excitedly this poem will then be written into a path for the public to enjoy as they walk up to the wild garden.

I cannot wait to see the final product, work is planned for sometime in the New Year.

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December Review – Week 1 – Work, Stanza, Southcart Books & Reading Aloud

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best teacher This week there was a high proportion of time committed to earning extra Christmas money by spending more days doing the day job than anything else, which I have found exhausting. No surprise considering my tasks included; teaching 120 different children in a morning, creating modroc volcanoes, papier mache Greek masks, adjudicating and marking test papers and having two days at a school where every lesson was in a different classroom with different kids (unusual in the Primary setting). By Thursday I was asleep at 7pm and Friday wasn’t much better. Good job I have already committed to cutting back on the performance poetry scene. Although I have noticed this sudden lack of creativity and socialisation has taken a toll on the way I feel emotionally. I gain inner strength from this full diary of writing events and activities and there is something to be said for the adrenalin boost too. 2015 is going to be a year of learning ‘balance’.

type I had time to write – but found some projects impossible to research without internet access (how dependent we have become), our connection failed on Monday and has only just been rectified – some signalling problem they said. (Our central heating and hot water has also broken!) I did manage to complete my Wild Fire Poem for David Calcutt (from the workshop in October)! I took it to Stanza on Friday and received some editing advice which makes it even stronger. Workshop poetry doesn’t always work outside of the bubble it was created in and I think some people were finding the connections I made difficult to understand which made me worry, so I went back to the drawing board with it. I performed it yesterday at Southcart Books to an audience that included fellow workshop participants and David to a positive reception.

After a week at work I was looking forward to our festive Stanza meeting, my first poetry related gathering for a week. As always it was a fun evening, I love the spirit of our members, listening to high quality poetry, receiving advice from writers I trust and having time to talk, because there never is enough time to connect personally at events. Our festive Stanza Meeting included Mulled Wine, a bounty of nibbles, included gorgeous homemade cakes and a Poetry Society mug. PS Mugshot

My only other nod to the former on-the-road-poet-life of 2013/14 was a trip out (and around many times) to Walsall – I must get my SATNAV fixed, trying to follow unsigned roads is a tad difficult for me on a Saturday (or any other day of the week for that matter)! I was dreading the Christmas traffic, but the roads and motorways were relatively clear, in fact I got home quicker than last time, however, getting there took an hour as I went wrong in the town centre five times, got snarled in the one way system and even had a police car follow me for a mile at one point. My poetry life would not be the same without an exciting road trip story to arrive with. My first collection should be called :LOST:

The Reading Aloud event ran from 11am – 4pm and I always knew I would never make it for the start. It was midday before I set off. I was hoping to make it in time to see the end of the morning, then I got lost.

It was worth every penny of extra petrol though. Southcart Books is a wonderful Independent Bookshop and if you are every in Walsall you should pop in for a browse, chat and buy a book or two. Scott and Amy are very enthusiastic about books and writers, there is a special warmth inside this haven.

sc scott and amy © Walsalladvertiser

Southcart-Books

20 Lower Hall Ln, Walsall, West Midlands WS1 1RL

Open 9.30 -4.30

Southcart Books are the only independent bookshop in Walsall helping get the word around for local writers and artists.

Situated in a grade 2 listed building, Southcart Books sells new, used and antique books. They hold community events such as book signings and book readings. 

Original source; http://creativewalsall.com/southcart-books/ © 2014 Creative Walsall

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David Calcutt organised the Reading Aloud Event in support of Small Business Saturday (Nationwide) 6th December 2014. He hosted a pleasurable day of talented wordsmiths, who all took to the chair for their readings. I’ve never performed a set sitting down before, it was a new experience. I wasn’t sure what to do with my feet and I can’t say I was entirely comfortable. However, as an audience member it was like being invited into your own private Jackanory and I enjoyed the change.

I felt absorbed by this experience and was glad I made it in time for lunch and mingling, I met a few poets I didn’t know, had time to catch up with those I do know and managed a quick browse the shelves too. I ended up treating myself to three Poetry books (my own personal Christmas presents), I look forward to reading them in the New Year.

It was lovely to hear lengthy sets (15mins) as often you only get a snippet of poetry at Open Mics. I am finding it difficult to express how great the afternoon was so I am going to say it with synonyms; fascinating, inspiring, impressive, wonderful and marvellous and then let David say the rest – he said it so much better;

It felt a real privilege today to be host to such a diverse, talented and friendly group of writers today at Southcart Books – Martin Hughes, Ann Clarson, Janet Jenkins, Angela Nock, Jane James, Eileen Ward-Birch, Chris Fewings, Sammy Joe, Antony R Owen, Nina Lewis and Bert Flitcroft.

Thank you very much to Scott Carter and Amy for hosting this and providing a comfortable and atmospheric reading space. Southcart Books is such a strong, independent bookshop. Just the place you should visit. Thank you again to all the readers.

Here are a couple of photographs capturing the Reading Aloud event, © 2014 Stuart Williams

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Chris Fewings

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Antony R Owen

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To round off the week I am typing up poems scribbled in my notebook over the past few weeks and if I have time (Mr G and I are also ‘tackling’ the house) I will be submitting some work too.

Small Business Saturday – Poetry Event at Southcart Books

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southcart books Folly-and-Gray-Southcart-Books-Feature-Photo-420x352 Today I have the pleasure of reading poetry in Walsall at Southcart Books. It is Small Business Saturday – encouraging the people of the UK to support businesses on the High Street, there has even been a National Television Advert. southcart books

This event ‘READING ALOUD’ has been organised by Scott Carter and David Calcutt, the room has been dressed and the poets start reading at 11 AM this morning – so if you around that area pop in and enjoy some FREE words. If you buy a book Scott will gift you a free canvas bag in support of Small Business Saturday.

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MORNING: START AT 11AM

David Calcutt – Intro and brief reading
Martin Hughes
Ann Clarson
Janet Jenkins
Angela Knock
Jane James

LUNCHBREAK.

AFTERNOON: START 1.30/1.45

David – Intro and even briefer reading
Eileen Birch
Chris Fewings
Sam Hunt
Antony Owen
Nina Lewis
Bert Flitcroft

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Review of October

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The end of last month was so crazy busy I am only just tying up loose blog ends now, nearly midway through November!

October was a true turning point month, goals I have been working towards for a while came together and opportunities flowed one after another. It was a fab month I thoroughly enjoyed being busy. Half term was filled with writing events and I also managed (or was possibly forced by exhaustion) a couple of days off. Think I have had about a week so far this year because I love what I do – it doesn’t feel like work. blogging

I started reviewing my writing life in weekly chunks as it was becoming too much to blog in real time about my schedule.

OCTOBER highlights include;

National Poetry Day – I loved finding out how other people had marked this special day, some of the things people got up to were incredible.

I hosted the opening event of Arts All Over the Place – Poetry, Performance and Everything Else as the Poetry Princess, followed by a writing workshop with Jan Watts and Cathy Crossley, next I  performed at Roy McFarlane’s Soulful Poetry Event – all part of the AAOTP Festival. Then I hotfooted to the library in Birmingham to watch the new Poet Laureate being announced. Adrian Blackledge became the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2014-2015

This day also marked ONE YEAR since returning to the OPEN MIC circuit!

RELATED LINKS:

National Poetry Day

PP PPEEAAOTP_3Roy Mcfarlenme

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Literature Festivals including Birmingham Literature Festival, Poetry, Performance & Everything Else Festival and Book to the Future Festival.

I went to see the recording of Radio 4 Poetry Please with Roger McGough, followed by With Great Pleasure, also recorded for BBC Radio 4. Rich McMahon was playing guitar and singing in the foyer  before the evening show at the Rep Theatre of Tell Me on a Sunday, which was a storytelling event set up by Writing West Midlands and Cat Weatherill to share real life stories. Marking the end of 3 years on this project she had selected some of the top stories and tellers to perform and treated us a little to her own stories in between.

I then returned to the festival the following weekend to perform my own commissioned poetry about Urban Nature for Naked Lungs.

A spoken-word exploration of the intersection of urban and natural.

Our lives in the city are played out amongst the products of human endeavour, the frantic pace of the metropolis tending to obscure our innate intimacy with the natural environment. Yet nestled within the concrete and mirrors are jungles brimming with other lives. Birmingham has recently been declared a Biophillic city and is praised for its biodiversity. How does the city structure our experiences of the non-human? Is it valuable that we facilitate such experiences? A group of writers will be producing and performing work dealing with these questions.

It felt amazing to be part of the festival just one year after discovering it! My first commissioned performance project, I hope there are more opportunities in the future.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/birmingham-literature-festival-naked-lungs-urban-nature/

BLF With Great PleasureBLF Rich McMahonBLF Tell me on a sundayNAKED_LUNGS_200x200px

Full Story

I performed a set for Phenomenal Women organised by Jan Watts for the Book to the Future Festival at Birmingham University and Arts All Over the Place celebrated the end of the PPAEE Festival with a huge party, I was delighted to perform an amusing set for the them and have Swingerella share the stage with me.

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SpeakEasy also celebrated the 1st Anniversary, I was happy when they asked me to perform a set at this special event. More

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I also completed my biggest poetry project to date and organised INKSPILL for the 2nd Year – an online writing retreat hosted right here on this blog. There is a pinned post on the front page of this blog (homepage) with links to the main articles from our INKSPILL weekend, go check it out. This year I was joined by Writer William Gallagher and Poets Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie who wrote and filmed some wonderful guest posts full of knowledge, advice and experience.

My brother’s Wedding at the beginning of the month was a non-writing highlight. I read a poem by Roy Croft during the service to the tear stained faces of the bride and groom – toughest of audiences. It was a truly magical day!

That is a lot of highlights for just over 4 weeks!

 

Blogs & Projects

I continue with 52, although I am behind in week 40 something. I regret not being able to take full advantage of the community of this group, my own writing schedule has taken off this year and I am busy working when I am not writing and some weeks cannot find the time I promised to carve out for 52. We are all getting reflective as the year draws to a close.

Naked Lungs – My 1st commission – 2 other poets and myself performed at Birmingham Literature Festival in a piece called Urban Nature, it was an amazing experience.

Hanbury Hall Art Exhibition – an opportunity through the Poetry Society Stanza group to write poetry inspired by art in the gallery. I enjoyed the exhibition and still need time to create, write and edit my submission.

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INKSPILL – kept me busy over the last week of October, writing and researching articles, communicating with Guest writers and organising the schedule of events. It was great fun and lots of people have accessed the posts.

 

Submission

I completed a poetry project and missed lots of end of month submissions.

Wrote poetry for my commissioned performance and received rejection from publications I submitted to over the summer.

 

Performing Poetry (which I attempted to cut back on to maximise writing time)

Events I performed at include;

Mouth & Music, Kidderminster, hosted by Heather Wastie, headlined by Jasmine Gardosi. Where I first performed my Halloween Set – to the theme of Ghosts and Ancestors, including two new poems written especially for the event.

Oct me saffron tomsmemouth-music-poster-oct14

 

worcs speakSpeakEasy, Worcester Hosted by Fergus McGonigal – Worcester Poet Laureate, headlined by Antony Owen and Spoz, I was lucky enough to be asked to perform and was delighted as this was the 1st Anniversary Special! There was CAKE!

 

Poetry For Lunch, The Library of Birmingham, hosted by Jan Watts.pfl me choosing poemspfl oct

Restless Bones Birmingham Promo with Born Free Film at The Ort. restless the bookborn free

42 Halloween Special

Mostly Halloween at the Ort – a 10 minute set.

 

Word Up, in Halloween Fancy Dress Birmingham, hosted by Ddotti Bluebell – a night of amazing poetry. Headlined by Daisy Edwards & Swingerella.

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Workshops & Events

Writing Workshop David Calcutt Community  Garden Walsall, WILD FIRE

Poetry Workshop Angela France in Stratford-Upon-Avon

AAOTP Award Evening – where I received a HERO AWARD for stepping in last minute to open the festival.

Alan Durham’s Hen Race Book Launch

 

Meetings and Projects

We had the annual meeting of writers with Writing West Midlands.

My 1 to 1 Mentoring Role for WWM was made official and planning started for these sessions.

I also managed to get to Stanza this month again, hosted by Sarah Kemp. stanza scrabble

 

November – Cork Poets, Fireworks, Book Launch, Performances, Workshop, Work, Getting Published, Writing & Wild Fire!

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November – Cork Poets, Fireworks, Book Launch, Performances, Workshop, Work, Getting Published, Writing & Wild Fire!

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Just taking a deep breath to read the title of this post makes me realise how busy this first week of November has been, especially as I used my only writing day (Monday) to catch up on household chores and laundry. The laundry was a bit of a mistake, 3 loads, it started raining, we have just enough airers for this amount, discover our central heating does NOT work. Fortunately Mr G called up our insurance company and they sent an engineer out – we have a new thermostat and more importantly, a warm house! We were beginning to ice up on the inside! Unfortunately the engineer wasn’t here until Friday so the clothes are only just dry. inkspill laundry We do have a tumble dryer mode on the washer but it seems to make everything several sizes smaller, so we avoid it for clothes.

Hard to believe it was sunny back at the beginning of the week, after the monsoon of recent days. I accepted way too much work this week but it was all at places I have worked before so at least there were no extra miles getting lost or classes I wasn’t prepared for! It did result in two 5pm crash outs Wednesday and Friday though.

Writing Work

I have an ever-growing list of current writing projects, 3 of which now come from workshops I have attended over the past fortnight. None of which I have managed any time on this week. All of which I want to get my teeth stuck into this weekend, well Sunday now. I have used today up in a flurry of road systems, motorway junctions and a gallery workshop.

In writing the reviews of these events this week I have decided to go back to the old format of posting separate events.

Here are some links so you won’t get lost (unlike me)!

Tuesday 4th November

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/coventry-nightblue-fruits-annual-celebration-with-poets-from-cork/

Nightblue Fruit – Antony Owen, with Guest Poets from Cork; Adam Wyeth, Cal Doyle & Kathy D’Arcy.

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Photos by Saleha Begum.                                                                                                    Saleha Begum © 2014

 

Wednesday 5th November was Guy Fawkes Night and despite it being a work night Mr G planned our first ever Bonfire Party. Last year we had a fire in the firepit, some sparklers and watched everyone else’s fireworks in the sky.

This year we invited neighbours, friends and Mr G’s God children, who loved it. Was great to see them work through fear of sparklers and fire and before the end of the evening they were (under supervision) throwing more wood on the fire and writing in the air with Sparklers. We took photos but have not uploaded any yet. Many of our neighbours celebrated on the 5th so there were lots of other fireworks to watch as well as our own.

The fireworks still whiz, pop and bang as I write this, families waiting for the weekend to have a party. Mr G and I have always gone to public displays – nothing beats your own garden though, the fairy lights looked great on the summer house and a great night was had by all. At least 4 hours of fun in layers in the cold, before the rain came. fs fireworks Big thanks to Mr G for buying the fireworks and for Leyton for lighting them!

I was exhausted after work and had gone to the supermarket too (I planned to cook burgers and had bought refreshments for the kids). I fell asleep watching teatime TV and could have happily gone straight to bed. By the time I woke up Mr G had the fire going and the garden was all ready for our guests. It was a great night, even if I was too tired to cook and the kids had all the Sparklers!

 

RELATED LINKS

http://www.bonfirenight.net/

Thursday 6th November – Fergus McGonigal launched his first poetry collection.  Fergus Tatty Truth

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/book-launch-the-failed-idealists-guide-to-the-tatty-truth-by-fergus-mcgonigal/

fergus book launch © 2014 Gary Carr Gary Carr © 2014

I was invited to read at his launch, I forgive him for making me go first!

RELATED LINKS:

http://burningeyebooks.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/new-november-title-1-the-failed-idealists-guide-to-the-tatty-truth-by-fergus-mcgonigal/

If you would like to buy the book directly rather than through Amazon, here is a link:

http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/the-failed-idealist-s-guide-to-the-tatty-truth/

 

By Friday I was so tired it was a struggle to survive work, but I did and then slept for a few hours when I got in. Mr G and I had planned a quiet night in and that’s exactly what we did.imagesCAUYQ41E

I had hoped to manage some writing but I was too tired to think, let alone type. I had the night off completely. Except for checking emails on my phone – and thank goodness I did, as I received one from an editor telling me they were publishing a poem of mine in an upcoming print anthology.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/published-2/

Saturday Last week I discovered a call out for people to take places on a workshop run by Emma Purshouse at Bilston Art Gallery, they currently have an exhibit called ‘Craft & Conflict’.

I got extremely lost and it took twice as long (and then some) than it should have and even though I ended up on the motorway 6 junctions further away than I should have been on my way home, it still only took 35 minutes to make the 15 miles back, although probably more miles owing to the junctions, really need to get my Sat Nav mended.

Anyway it was totally worth the extra petrol and road stress. This was the 2nd session of the day and the Arts Services had advertised it as intergenerational, which it was this afternoon. Children have great imaginations and I was impressed by the writing of younger members of this workshop. The Gallery collection was more than I expected, more pieces. There was so much that grabbed me that I plan to continue producing work from this workshop.

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Saturday 8th November a Workshop with Emma Purshouse, Bilston Art Gallery, Craft & Conflict

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/a-workshop-with-emma-purshouse-craft-conflict-exhibition-bilston-art-gallery/

SUNDAY 9th November

With such a busy week of work and events by Sunday my tiredness caught up with me and once again I didn’t make it online to complete my planned schedule, nor did I find time to write my Wild Fire poems from David Calcutt’s wonderful Community garden Workshop. My list of writing projects is growing faster than the first scarf I knitted, when I forgot how to cast off! caldmore david-portrait-1

Needless to say I didn’t make it to the Community Garden Bonfire to read my non-existent fire poetry,  I barely made it to getting dressed!

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Caldmore Community Garden Bonfire with Poetry readings with David Calcutt.

With work booked the next day, I had an early night. Sure this was a great night I missed and I look forward to hearing all about it.

The Final Week of October – Writing, Workshops and Halloween Poetry

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Half Term – much needed, much anticipated – and then I go and fill my entire week up with writing!

half-term-header totalswindoncom © 2014 totalswindon.com

Monday – Writing Day

Tuesday – Writing & Workshop AM, Writing & Editing PM

Wednesday – Writing, Proof reading, Submitting & Working AM Drummonds 42 PM

Thursday – Writing & Workshop AM, Mostly Halloween The Ort PM

Friday – Job Application & Work AM, Word Up PM

A weekend off writing to catch up with sleep and spend some time with Mr G and my family.

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I started the week on a high after the successful INKSPILL weekend and chained myself to the laptop to finish my writing project. I also found out about a workshop happening in Stratford-Upon-Avon run by Angela France and booked myself a place on it.

I spent all of Monday and Tuesday morning writing and editing, both days started at 7:30/8AM (early for me) and certainly earlier than I had planned – but I was up and had a lot to do. Monday was an 11hr write and Tuesday night was a late one. I decided to leave my final proof reading for Wednesday morning when I was more awake.

caldmore david-portrait-1 David Calcutt who has been Writer in Residence at Caldmore Community Gardens in Walsall offered a series of Free Writing Workshops. I couldn’t attend the first one as I was working, I realised just before the weekend that I could make the 2nd one as it is half term. Considering it is my week off I packed a lot of writing work in and have only just started to rest for a few days. caldmore ccg_logo

I am so glad I made the effort to go to Wild Fire – it was great meeting new writing folk and was an inspiring morning/afternoon, I took lots of photos and scribbled notes and plan to do something with them next week. I did have a problem navigating my way there – but now I know where it is I attend to visit next Sunday for a reading around the Bonfire and go to the next workshop in late November. The plan for that one is to write group poetry which will then be placed in the garden. I love that sort of thing!

I chained myself back to the desk after arriving home to finish my project.

Wednesday I finished my writing and submitted it – getting my brain back for the first time in weeks. I had planned to write for another few submissions, but missed the deadlines. My brain was tired and I have still tutored this week so there really hasn’t been any spare time until, today. Plus some of the submissions were competitions and I didn’t have the money to pay, due to overspending on Halloween!

I spent the afternoon shopping for Halloween Fancy Dress, a lot of my Dressing Up stuff is still not accessible, stored away- I decided I didn’t need to spend much and would find it less stressful to buy new rather than clamber round in the spare room trying to find the right box. As I type that line it seems ridiculous – but when I say this room is full of boxes, sadly I mean it literally!

Anyway I popped to the £1 shop (I call it the 10 Bob shop – as I always spend at least a tenner in there)! I picked up a wig, packs of makeup, black nail polish, liquid eye liner, some tattoo sleeves, a pair of tights and some wings (which I didn’t use in the end). You guessed it – I spent £10! The best part was seeing my nephews in there and having some fun with them as they excitedly showed me all their Halloween bits.

By the time I made it home, I trawled the internet for several hours for fancy dress ideas and only just had time to get ready for a night Poeting in Worcester.

I performed at Drummonds 42 (Andrew Owens) it was a fantastically spooky night and there were some incredibly confident performances – I think dressing up releases the inhibitions. I loved every minute of this, my first Halloween event. I went as a spidery woman, after spending more money than sense on Halloween bits, I decided to at least make costumes up from what I already have in my wardrobe!

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I had planned to write a job application when I got home, but it was late and I was tired.

On Thursday morning I treated myself to a mini -Lie in with a book and then headed off to Stratford, to get a bit lost for the 2nd time this week. I love Angela France’s poetry and I admire her too, she lectures at university so I knew her workshop would be great – it was. We wrote using form in the morning – a Décima, in the afternoon we wrote about Place. We also read and discussed poetry about Place, chosen by Angela. Angela france Angela France Performing at – Poetry Lounge in The Sitting Room

It was a day of inspiring conversation and I enjoyed every minute! Even made it to the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) to drink coffee in the Theatre’s Café at lunchtime. I also saw Connie, Cathy and Jenna from my Stanza group.

My afternoon plans got changed as I was sent to look for a pumpkin. This is the 1st year we haven’t grown our own to use! This pumpkin hunt was a bad idea as several of the Stratford supermarkets I went to also had Halloween SALES!

This time I went a bit mad… I had already seen on the website a floral headband which was perfect for Friday’s costume. Unfortunately that was at the back of the store and at the front was the SALE! I just had to buy a few other headbands to make Halloween Poetry Costumes easy next year! I also saw a wig with plaits – perfect for the ragdoll and when I picked up the flowers saw an ace skeleton bracelet (also perfect for the Friday costume). No pumpkins though!

I made it home with just enough time to get ready for my 2nd evening reading Halloween Poetry at Mostly Halloween at The Ort with David Rees-Jones, it is usually a comedy night but for Halloween he had various acts, music, stories, improv, a quiz and me Poeting. I dressed as a Rag Doll

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It was a thoroughly entertaining evening and I was treated to a 10minute set, which included 3 Witch poems I wrote at the Stratford Workshop.

 

Friday I spent the morning writing a job application and working and then chased about for Pumpkins. I had my first break, before starting to apply white face base for my fancy dress at the REAL Halloween Night event of Word Up. A incredibly simple idea that took a lot of time to execute (not a gore joke), as well as taking several hours to apply I practically used up all the WHITE cream base!

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I could have bought the Poetry Pamphlet and bottle of wine given as the prize – rather than spending money accessorising this look, but practically everyone had dressed up and Ddotti had decorated the whole place for Halloween, so I do not regret the effort and driving into the city looking like this was an experience. There were some great performances and it was FUN!

I will NOT buy any extra Halloween bits, probably EVER, plus next year I won’t need the hours of internet research as I have plenty of costume ideas and the outfits! I could have dressed the same for all 3 nights but as I didn’t dress up last year I was making up for it.

My plan before next year is to gather all the fancy dress bits together and NOT buy anything more. I have enough for a lifetime!

Since last night I have been relaxing, planning writing for next week and catching my breath. It has been one of the best Half Term holidays ever!

 

Submissions, Picnics (Poetry ones!), Missed Events and New Ventures

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The Week Off

Mr G took last week off work so we could do some work on the house and garden together and spend some time enjoying ourselves, I don’t think we will be going away on a proper summer holiday, fortunately the weather has been amazing and I won’t moan when it turns overcast as I have a ton of things INSIDE to be getting on with over the summer break.

 

New Work

The good news this week is I have already secured 1 job for the new term, it doesn’t offer many hours but will cover my part of the mortgage payment at least, as far as bills, food shopping, car expenses and spending money go, I will have to pick up a few more days work every week. But having that 1st contract means I won’t end up with a month of no work. September is not a particularly busy month for us.

 

4 Day Run of Events – Picnics (Poetry ones)

At the tail end of the week before I went to Coventry for Antony Owen’s book launch, then Birmingham to promote Restless Bones Poetry Anthology (published and launching in 3 weeks!), then took a drive up to Shropshire to go to Poetry on The Farm – an event organised by Jean Atkin to celebrate the end of her 3 month residency at Acton Scott Farm. Then on the Sunday I had an EPIC day – I have not had time to blog post it yet and I cannot wait to do so. Jo Bell was poet in residence at Hall’s Croft for Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Literature Festival, she also started ’52’, you will remember me posting about it in the New Year, we all met up for a picnic – over 52 of us, she has over 500 members in 52 now. It was an amazing day that involved picnics, raffle prizes, poets, reading 52 poems at The Shakespeare Centre to a festival audience, flash mobbing outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace (a sonnet of course!) and then not getting drunk in The Dirty Duck pub, by the river.

 

Watch Out for the 52 Post

I WILL write about it in a separate post, the Acton Scott post has just taken a couple of hours to write and put together, it is now getting late (past midnight) and I have some ACTUAL writing to do. Look out for the 52 post.

During the next week mainly because I was exhausted from the adrenalin of a 4 day run and also because Mr G had booked time off to be together, I didn’t go to any poetry events.

 

Missed Events

On Monday I missed Shindig in Leicester, I was invited and originally began performance poetry in Leicester in the 90s. I will go another time when I haven’t already covered 100s of miles the previous few days.

Tuesday (and I am still gutted about this) I was very tired and had actually fallen asleep when I should have been hitting the road. I missed Poetry Bites in Birmingham, always a great night, organised and hosted by Jacqui Rowe. Anthony and Joseph were there headlining and promoting ‘The Year I Loved England’, (I had already seen them in Coventry), Matt Windle  was the other headliner, always a pleasure (I am seeing him in Kidderminster in a few weeks) and Sammy Joe, who I have seen before, but it would have been good to see her again, plus all the floor spots, it was a cracking night by all accounts and I missed it.

Friday there was a night write event hosted by Jo Bell as part of the Stratford festival that I would have loved to have parted money for, my concern was staying awake 10pm to 6 am – I have spent months attempting to regulate my sleep, to make sure I am awake during the day and the knock on situation after breaking this pattern would be equivalent to jet lag. The decision was made for me when we went up to the garden in the afternoon and enjoyed some cold, crisp wine. Another year maybe.

Saturday there was a performance in the Stratford that I wanted to see.

Sunday there was Sunday Xpress in Birmingham and Al Barz facilitated a one off Poetry in the Park in Walsall. There was also a showing of ‘Tales of the Tat Man’ David Calcutt’s latest venture in Birmingham at tea time.

Phew! A week of activities and I didn’t manage any of them.

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A week of Work- Gardens – Sun – Gas Men, Shopping, Theatre, Reading & Writing

I was still working at the beginning of the week, we spent some time running errands and whilst I was at work Mr G bravely tackled the back garden, completely transformed by the time I came home. We had a fire that evening and the neighbour sat out with us in the garden, although he went in about 3 hours before we did.

On Tuesday after I had tutored we spent time sunbathing on our new sun loungers in the garden and then watched a box set that we haven’t seen for ages, we managed to get onto the next season.

Midweek, we had the excitement of a house full of Gas Men changing meters and discovering holes we shouldn’t have had! The oven works better and poor Mr G spent the whole time out in the baking sun tidying up the front garden – which now looks amazing! A warm welcome. Again once the house was empty we went to sit outside.

© National Theatre 2014

© National Theatre 2014

In the evening my mum and I went to the Arts Centre to see the National Theatre production of Skylight. I have never watched a theatrical performance on a screen before (wonders of the digital world) but with the cuts to Arts funding this allows people who don’t live in London to see the shows. It was more like watching it live on stage than a cinematic experience would be. I loved it. (And the Arts Centre has Air con.- most places, including our home, don’t – because it is rarely this hot or dry for this length of time in the UK. So that was a real treat!)

I also took a couple of shopping trips for summer clothes and caught up reading my writing magazine, I have been an issue behind pretty much the whole of 2014, one day I read the July issue and then over the weekend read the August issue, freeing my time up to write now for a couple of weeks before the next issue arrives!

I also had submissions to make – one for a project very close to me, I wrote three pieces for that in the end and the other was 3 poems, 1 written especially and the other 2 heavily rewritten to a publication I have previously been rejected from, fingers crossed – we will see.

We discovered a new garden centre and spent an afternoon choosing plants for the garden display. We will be going back there soon.

We have frogs in our pond and the plants are establishing themselves well around it.

We have eaten lovely home-grown salad potatoes and beans, we are waiting on the tomatoes – they won’t be long. We have had strawberries & pak choi already, the cucumbers are growing and we have decided we need to give the allotment up. We have done it for 5 years and it was good when we had no garden of our own, but now we have the house project and a garden that needs constant TLC and I am gallivanting off into the world of words all the time, we just cannot find regular time to go and tend the plot. We never had the right tools, as we were very ‘natural’ harvesters, this meant jobs done in no time with machinery were taking forever with tools not fit for purpose. It has been a big decision, but there is room to grow some stuff in the garden and at least this way there will be less waste.

I had a brilliant time with Mr G, lovely to have the company, much missed today when he went back to work… (although my mum popped in for a catch up), Mr G is off again soon, although the poetry schedule won’t be abandoned next time, we are hoping to make a start on the house.

 

Current Submissions

I am currently working on submissions that have a tight deadline (of a few days) – a one act play/ monologue and a short story. Fingers crossed I planned and mapped out plot/action and characters today. I am hoping to write them tomorrow, edit and redraft/ proof and submit on Wednesday! Not ideal, but having been so far behind on magazine issues, have only just discovered the opportunities.

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This week I have a Poetry Party tomorrow, Drummonds 42 event on Wednesday (performing), a possible road-trip to Wales, hoping to finish the week off with a workshop.

If the road-trip works out – I will miss OXJAM Slam which is a charity fundraiser (OXFAM) and a night celebrating the life and words of Maya Angelou.

Hope you will understand now why my posts have been infrequent this month – will try harder to regularly post in August as my writing life will be getting very exciting!

 

Happy writing x

 

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! 😉