Tag Archives: Elvis McGonagall

December Review

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The end of the year has rolled around fast this year. I feel like my feet have hardly hit the ground! There are so many highlights to 2017, I am gifting them a separate blog post!

I promised myself I would wind poeting down a little in December, especially with Christmas preparations and a house to sort. Plus I have not spent much time with family & friends this year. Now is the perfect time to reconnect. It didn’t quite work out this way, as you can imagine…

Week 1:

The end of November was busy and tiring, so I spent most of my writing day (1st December) resting and completing necessary admin tasks: I completed my next Reader in Residence activity – compiling a list of 12 Reading Challenges for 2018 for Rugby Library users, wrote a blog review for my Writing A Book Review Workshop and booked a repeat of this session for February 2018.

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I continued to work on applications, wrote a few new poems and opened Contour submissions. I got creative with cover design and started prepping the layout (issue 1 took about 4 days to master)!

Contour – the WPL digital magazine is open for the next round of submissions – February Issue.

Contour Issue 2 Preview

Contour Open Submissions

That was just day 1, week 1!

The weekend was just as busy with was a family birthday celebration, an editing group in Cheltenham, the Victorian Christmas Fayre with Mr G. and a trip to Walsall for Yes We Cant with Elvis Mcgonagall, who I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing since 2014! Long overdue. It was a fantastic night, you can read all about it here. (LINK to follow)

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http://www.elvismcgonagall.co.uk/about.htm

Monday Mr G. had a rare day off booked so we accomplished some work around the house.

Tuesday I was back to poeting and a fabulous new Spoken Word event created by Charley Barnes in Worcester, it was a good mix of poetry, spoken word and story. Polly Stretton was the delightful headliner with an assured set of eclectic mix of her work. A warm, exciting atmosphere, a good turn out and a lovely venue. Perfect. Delighted there will be more.

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Wednesday saw a workshop in Stratford which will hopefully lead to something else in January and definitely gave me two working poems which would both be suitable for my next writery idea. I thoroughly enjoy this group and the workshops always deliver some new work for me. I had planned to go to Permission to Speak in the evening, The Black Country Anthology compiled by Emma Purshouse/Offa Press was being compiled and I was really looking forward to several of the billed performers and Roy McFarlane was headlining.

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By the time I got home it was a strain to keep my eyes open and with a fully booked end of week ahead (radio, work, gig, work, stanza, book launch) I felt that I needed to give myself recovery time. Which I did… it may have taken 4 years, but my ‘sensible’ is developing. I did some prep for the Radio and had an early night.

If I forget the journey to the train station, my Thursday was an exceptional one. Helen Calcutt asked me to do Brum Radio back in 2016, we were tried to make a booking which became impossible as I was contracted to work on the days of recordings. Fast forward a few presenters and Rick Sanders has taken on the role of host. He asked me to be a guest a while back and has been busily creative matching poets up together for his shows. Today was the day. It was great fun and I have given the experience a blog post. Read all about it here. (Link to follow)

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Then after getting home I went back to Birmingham – well as far in as Selly Oak for Grizzly Pear. This night usually clashes with SpeakEasy so it took me about 3 years to make it to one and I had not made it back since. At the Verve Launch back in November I discovered Liz Berry would be headlining and immediately put the date in my diary. Unfortunately, it still clashed with a Worcester event, this time Uncorked at Bottles with Bethany (now Beff) Slim, Nick Lovell & Mike Alma headlining. I did go to Uncorked last month, so although I was sad to miss these 3 in headline spots I know I can hear them regularly on the circuit. I am glad to know Holly is better and back in her hosting role. I am sure I will get to hear all about this night soon.

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Having already made the commitment to go, I was delighted to discover Jenna Clake and Susannah Dickey on the same bill. It was tremendous to see the Shropshire contingency out in full force too as well as catching up with local poetry friends. They also had a Haiku Poetry Slam and I came 2nd. The prize was a Verve Festival Workshop – delighted! I have booked 2 already but the chance to do a 3rd, epic! I have written an entire blog here. (Link to follow)

 

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Week 2:

Friday – a day of snow and an evening of poetry, except by the time I was home I knew my mind was too tired to critique poetry so I missed our Christmas Stanza, I hate missing Stanza, but I also dislike it when I am too tired to participate properly and feel like I cannot be of assistance to others. It was the right decision as I fell asleep at 7 PM. I also wanted to be fresh for Claire Walker’s Book Launch the following evening. I think I was suffering after only managing 5 hours sleep after Grizzly Pear and a day of work in the only school that didn’t close for snow!

Saturday saw the much anticipated Book Launch of ‘Somewhere Between Rose & Black’ by Claire Walker, her 2nd V. Press pamphlet.

cwalker rose The Book has already been on sale and I resisted the urge to buy/pre-order my copy. I like to support the launches and buy one on the sizzle of the evening.

Tuesday 12th December was the Michael Marks Awards with V. Press nominated for the Publishers Prize.

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There was a Room 204 party organised in Birmingham, which I would have loved to go to. This was actually cancelled due to the snow.

Thursday SpeakEasy in Worcester, saw Sharon Carr Headline.

 

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Week 3:

Saturday was my last WWM Spark Writers Group for the year. It was also the end of Poetry Events for me before a Christmas Break. Work finished too… not that there has been a lot this term, I can count the days I have had on both hands and still have fingers left over!

I plan to spend my Christmas break preparing for an International Festival, workshops and getting some work done (writing), as well as sorting out the house.

 

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Week 4:

I did indeed manage a fortnight break from all things writing with the exception of organising The Tale of Two Cities, a Poet Laureate Transatlantic Poetry Project.

I read Cherry Pie – Holly McNish’s debut collection. I read it back in 2014 when I went to Wenlock and watched her perform for the first time. I saw her perform twice this year, once at The Hive in Worcester and once at the Town Hall in Birmingham. Love her. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book again. I read a couple of novels I borrowed from the library and started my Christmas read. For the past few years I have chosen a Christmas themed novel for the holidays. This one had all the promises of chick lit… but before the end of the first few chapters I found myself in a whole world of serious issues. About as unchristmassy as you can get! A good read though.

I sent a few poems to Angela France for an event that takes place in January, where I hope to read my poems and set about updating blog posts so when the December Review goes live (later today) there can be active links.

I also had to schedule meetings for early January with regards for several poet laureate events which will all take place before March.

It is hard to believe that I have less than 6 months left in this position! Although a lot of writing time and preparing for the International Festival is set in place post laureateship.

My desk had an annual clean up as we needed the table for Christmas Day! The laptop had a 10 day rest.

Now I am doing the final family visits before New Year and getting organised for a smooth launch into 2018.

I hope you all had a great Christmas.

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Mr G’s snowman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of September

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September was a truly magical month for me in my writing skin. I marked the one year point of becoming a poet (again) and also started to get lots of opportunities and offers that reflect (to me) the next level of my adventure.

So here is my review of September – chest infection aside, it has been the greatest month!

Blogs & Projects

I continue with 52, I wish I had more time to read the wonderful poetry that has grown from Jo Bell’s project and would like to be able to post some of my older poems for feedback, may have to take them to Stanza instead, with my poetry and work life keeping me busy I manage to get ahead and then find myself 2 or 3 prompts behind the rest.

Naked Lungs – My 1st commission – 3 other poets and myself are due to perform at Birmingham Lit Fest next month in a piece about Urban Nature which we are all writing for at this current moment in time. Very exciting and I can’t wait!

One Year a Poet – OYAP, some party I have been organising since August to bring together writing friends to perform and celebrate a year back on the circuit.

INKSPILL – I have had so much on this month that the writing retreat hit the back burner for a bit – it is worked on in my head and will come together for the final weekend in OCTOBER.AWF 2014 OCT Cal

Submission

I worked on very few submissions this month and at least I know the outcome of recent submissions.

I sent poetry to Barefiction & Poetry on Loan competition, I missed 3 other submissions due to a busy performance schedule and too little editing time.

Barefiction and Scottish Mental Health both sent rejections of encouragement and Sarah James won the Poetry on Loan competition.

There is a glint of light, which I hope to share with you all soon.

 

Performing Poetry

Events I performed at include;

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The Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room – Ludlow, hosted by Jean Atkin and headlined by Angela France.

Staffordshire Arts Festival – Reams of Dreams at St. Chad’s, hosted by the then Poet Laureate, Tom Wyre and former Poet Laureate, Mal Dewwhirst. The Young Poet Laureate was announced and I took an incredibly emotional journey back to somewhere that was home 10 years ago.

Mouth & Music, Kidderminster, hosted by Heather Wastie & Sarah Tamar, headlined by Ben Norris

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SpeakEasy, Worcester Hosted by Fergus McGonigal – Worcester Poet Laureate, headlined by Peter Wyton and also appearing Brenda Read-Brown, who won the Worcester LitFest Slam and was awarded her trophy.

One Year a Poet – OYAP – A party of spoken word to celebrate one whole year back on the scene. A whole load of poetry and writer friends enjoyed free cake and words of each other and the amazing saxophone of Dutch Lewis, hosted by myself.

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Poetry For Lunch, The Library of Birmingham, hosted by Jan Watts, this month inside, in the mezzanine overlooking the foyer.

Spoken Word at The Ort, Birmingham, hosted by Debbie Aldous.

Poetry Bites, Birmingham, hosted by Jacqui Rowe, headlined by Charlie Jordan & Jan Smith.

Naked Lungs at Cherry Reds, Birmingham, hosted by Joe Whitehouse & Chris Baker, booked for a set. Very exciting evening. My fourth official booking to perform.

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Word Up, Birmingham, hosted by Ddotti Bluebell – a night of amazing poetry. Headlined by former Birmingham Laureate Stephen Morrison-Burke.

100,000 Poets for Change International Event: Carnival Records, Malvern, hosted by Clive Dee, an exciting afternoon of music and poetry in the perfect vinyl loving setting! A one off spectacular that I most pleased to have been invited to perform at.

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Sunday Xpress, Birmingham, hosted by Brendon, headlined by Ash Dickinson.

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Performances and Events

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Ben Norris at The MAC, Birmingham, in his one man show – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family.

Wolverley Village Tea Shop – Pop Up Poetry Event organised by Sue Wood and featuring Worcester Lit Fest poets and others. This was an open mic style event and I was invited to perform, I wish I had, especially when most people there asked me why I hadn’t read and said it was a shame, I was having a dippy day and was more than happy to sit in the sunshine and listen to poetry, whilst drinking real coffee.

Elvis McGonagall at The Hive, Worcester, an event organised by the Worcester Lit Fest, also featuring; Fergus McGonigal – Worcester’s Poet Laureate, Maggie Doyle – Worcester Poet Laureate Emeritus and Claire Walker, who came 2nd in this year’s Poet Laureate Competition.

Meetings and Projects

I  met with Joe and Chris a.k.a Naked Lungs and the other 3 poets they have chosen to work on the commissioned project of Urban Nature which is to be performed on Oct 11th at the Library of Birmingham at the Birmingham Literature Festival. We met in a coffee shop and then explored some hidden nature in a community garden in Digbeth. Digbeth Garden Hannah J Graham

I also managed to get to Stanza this month again, hosted by Ian Glass, a very packed group this month. stanza scrabble

Week 4 September 22nd – 28th

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September has been an extremely busy month – this week was the 100% busy-no-time-to-breathe- week and is probably the last time I will EVER attempt the feat of working FULL TIME and managing 6 back to back events, 5 of which I performed at! start time

On Tuesday I enjoyed Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites, I was really looking forward to the Headliners, Charlie Jordan (has been far too long since I saw her perform) and Jan Smith, who I have seen a few times before. I was also looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere and performing later in the evening. BL RH jACQUI

The atmosphere is always warming and despite my rush to get there after work I was offered seats at the front, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. They are currently selling 2nd hand poetry books to raise awareness for Eye Survive (think I need to try and organise an entire post to explain the cause) it is charity fundraising for someone with rare eye disease that needs money for medical treatment. I hadn’t got any spare cash the last time I made it to the Kitchen Garden. It is a lovely idea, terribly hard to part with poetry books though – have you ever tried it?kitchen_garden_cafe_logokitchengardencafecouk

On Wednesday night there were lots of events happening, the Launch of Barefiction Magazine, Cat Weatherill performing JamFace at the Kitchen Garden, I could have happily camped out under a table, with cake! However, before I discovered these two events I had already BOOKED my tickets for a Worcester Litfest Event at the Hive, watching (not to be missed) poet – Elvis McGonagall, who was supported by three good friends, Maggie Doyle – Poet Laureate Emeritus, Fergus McGonigal (no relation to Elvis) and current Worcester Poet Laureate – and runner up Claire Walker. The three of them delighted a full studio theatre with three very different styles of poetry. I would have paid just for that show – but as a bonus I was treated to the crazy poetry world Elvis McGonagall inhabits!

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What a show indeed – do NOT miss out on an opportunity to see this poet! I am still buzzing thinking about this evening! Truly brilliant! Elvis McGonagall Wenlock Edge

© 2014 Wenlock Edge

World Poetry Slam Champion 2006, UK Slam Champion 2006

UK All-comers’ Poetry Slam Champion 2004

‘funny, angry and tightly written…McGonagall combines anger, polish and carefully crafted verse in a way which recalls John Cooper Clarke’ 4-star The Scotsman

‘verses shot through with a moral umbrage and rhetorical power…a bracing throwback to the days when comedy made room for militant eccentrics with a knack for scansion and a bolshie hankering to change the world’ 4-star The Guardian

‘side-splittingly funny’ The Reading Rant

On Thursday night (don’t forget this is after a full day in the classroom and this week I worked with Year 6 as well as rest of KS1 & 2 and Early Years) I had my own set at Naked Lungs.

I had to open the event at Cherry Reds – which is always a hard/horrible spot to take, at least I was confident in my material/ chosen set. 1 nl 1 nl2

I got a positive reaction and funnily enough – despite basing the set on the lighter more entertaining poetry that seemed to go down well last month, people talked to me about my two serious poems.

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It turned into a great night and there were some amazing performances from Jess Green, who was absolutely amazing and fresh back down from Edinburgh, you might know her Mr Gove Poetry. Andy Owen Cook, Kev Eadie, myself – Nina Lewis, and Tim Fletcher showed us all how a guitar should be played! WOW! Jaw dropping stuff!

The great thing about going first is that you can then sit back, relax and enjoy! Thanks to Joe Whitehouse and Chris Baker for this opportunity.

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On Friday I unfortunately missed Kevin Brooke’s book launch of JIMMY CRICKET – which took place in the Hive library and I have heard nothing but great things about this event ever since. Check out this article Worcester News

However, I was working in the city and didn’t leave until gone 5pm. It took a long time at that time on a Friday to crawl towards the city centre. I needed to eat and had time to pull in and buy a burger – fed up of a week where it was work – perform and little time to rehearse beforehand, I decided to take some minutes out – sit and sort the set. I ran through it a few times to time it and only had to drive around a few times for a parking space.

Then I went to Word Up, Ddotti has changed venue and it has been so long since I have been that I hadn’t gone to the new venue for Word Up. I had been there – last year when I did Camp NaNoWriMo we had our meets there where everyone typed at the same time.

I did discover that the Coffee Lounge sells amazing strawberry milkshakes and I had a great time downstairs in Word Up.

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On Saturday, Clive Dee had invited me to join him at Carnival Records for his 100,000 Poets for Change event, which I was delighted and excited to be part of. I had spent most of September seeing international posts about 100,000 Poets for Change and wanted to participate somehow.

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I did struggle to get up, my body begging to lie in after my busy week! Which was a shame because I missed some of the other performers I wanted to see. I did get to spend the last few hours soaking up the buzz at Carnival Records, the independent record store itself is worth a visit, in the pretty town of Malvern. In the Vinyl room I found a DOORS book I have never read and had to buy it! carnival records 100000 poets  carnival

I also managed to buy the PERFECT dress for my brother’s wedding, next weekend.

On Sunday there was a Scarecrow Festival in Belbroughton, which is an annual village event and always worth a visit. This year the theme was films and I loved finding minion after minion around the displays. I have photos to upload soon.

adameve After scarecrows I rushed across to the city to Sunday Xpress at the Adam and Eve – part of Birmingham Poetry Festival with headliner Ash Dickinson

A multiple slam champion- including Edinburgh and Cheltenham- Ash won the BBC Radio 4 Midlands Slam in 2009. In the previous BBC National Slam in 2007 he progressed through the Scottish heats, eventually finishing among the top 8 in the UK. Ash was runner-up in the 2011 UK All Stars Slam.

I missed Ash when he headlined at SpeakEasy earlier this year and although I arrived too late to catch most of the performers I was still allowed to perform, which was good because Ash said he enjoyed my set. One of my poems about Hairs linked with his poem about Body Image well. It was definitely worth the trip to go and see him.

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I was so tired by the time I reached home, I had hoped to catch Lorna Meehan in her One Woman Show at the MAC – but I couldn’t have managed to stay awake for an 8pm show.

It was a great weekend, the perfect end to a busy, productive, creative week.

I also received some great news about my current manuscript, I will spend October busily writing this.

There is also an Arts All Over the Place Festival taking place next week – starting National Poetry Day (2nd Oct) and finishing on 10th Mental Health Awareness Day – ‘Poetry, Performance (and Everything Else) Festival’. I sent an email to Rachel Green offering my services as workshop facilitator or performer. I spoke about a workshop, unfortunately I could not make the schedule as it is the one day I am contracted to teach music in a school.  Madhatter

 

Full Capacity

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This week has been another busy one, I have worked everyday and with the exception of Monday, have had events every evening. Links to follow.

Tuesday I performed at Poetry Bites, Wednesday I went to The Hive to see Elvis McGonagall, Thursday I performed a set at Naked Lungs – my first booking and tonight I performed at Word Up. Tomorrow I am performing at Carnival Records for a 100 Thousand Poets Event, finally on Sunday I am going to perform in Birmingham.

It has also been one of those weeks where more long term goals are taking fruition. I will have a lot to concentrate on in October, which sounds a long way off – it’s Wednesday…

I have also received some rejections from submissions I sent last month. All things happen for a reason and one of the rejections has a kite tail that has pointed me in a new direction.

 

Birmingham Literature is just around the corner at the beginning of October too and my new writing role starts.

Performances and Events in the Final Week of August: 42 & Naked Lungs

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Last week I had the pleasure of performing at Drummonds 42, after taking a 4 day break after the book launch. This may not sound like much, I had 48 hours of that completely OFFLINE – it was wonderful, life used to be so simple… Sometimes nerves get the better of me when I have had a performance break, fortunately that didn’t happen this time.

It was good to see writers/poets I had not seen/heard for a while and we were even treated to a bit of Musical Theatre. Catherine Crosswell is currently rehearsing Sweeny Todd for a production in Ledbury and she performed one of the songs – with props and Andrew Owen (the host) as well as treating us to her poetry. It was fantastic.

Usually these nights are themed, but once a year they do an open theme, like on the 27th. I performed a poem called ‘Missing’ which I had only performed once before in Birmingham, back in the late Spring. I performed a couple of other poems too.

There was a good variety of story and poetry and some new performers, it good to see new people come back and others take to the stage for the first time. I cannot make 42 this month as I have tickets to go and see A Night With Elvis McGonagall perform his poetry at The Hive on the same night. Elvis McGonagall

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On this same evening there were events which I would have also loved to have been able to make (still hate the clashes), notably ‘Spire & Dust’ – which is usually Fire and Dust (have been meaning to go all year), they re-named it as it was taking place in the Inspire Café where Antony Owens had his book launch.

 

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Knowing that I had performances over the weekend, I wanted to take it a bit easy leading up to Worcester Music Festival. However, Joe and Chris delightfully booked me last month to perform this month. I wanted to go and see what the night was like, so went to watch performers at Naked Lungs (the people who run this are organising the artistic/performance collaboration for Birmingham Literature Festival in October).

Naked Lungs happens at Cherry Reds, a lovely, small, funky venue in a pedestrianized part of the city. Unfortunately my SatNav is currently on the blink and it is so I had my route scribbled on A4 paper. Birmingham is a nightmare to drive around at the best of times, they are working on the tunnels at the moment and a lot of central traffic is either diverted or at standstill. I think it took me longer to navigate the island (roundabout) that it did travelling into the city itself. I parked up and made the stupid mistake of asking a local – who helpfully google mapped on his phone and it looked like I was miles away. Keeping the route in my head I over shot a turning and basically by the time I got off the RING ROAD – I was on the other side of the city – fortunately an area I know well as it is where Writing West Midlands are based. A 30-40 minute journey turned into a frantic hour! BUT… I got there.

The lovely Andrea Smith (a.k.a Performance poet Swingerella) was there and we got to have a half decent natter in the numerous intervals. The crowd is fairly young – so that helps me decide on material for the set. Of course there were some people my age and possibly a bit older too. I was excited to find that both Ben Norris AND Ian Bowkett were performing sets.

The whole night was fantastic with great performances from; Ian Bowkett, Ben Norris, David Timothy, Heidi Murphy  – during the evening a box was passed around for us to write ideas of topics of conversation for Benjamin Jones the resident philosopher who then pontificated on a range of subjects, a funny, quirky and cool addition to the evening and a master of improv!

A new experience was FATLiP, (Toby De Angeli, Dana Segal and Jak Stephens) although we only had 2 of them, they were mesmerising a spoken word (with heart, narrative, mixed styles and pace) prose poetry, along with music and a loud speaker. I truly could have listened to them all night. They are playing Bestival this September!

FATLiP will be performing their combination of spoken words, sounds and performance to tell unheard stories from unsuspecting places.

Sometimes it is just nice to watch and not have to sit with butterflies, nervously waiting for your turn! Although it is such a relaxing, enjoyable atmosphere I doubt I will be too worried. Mainly it was FUN, laid back, well organised and FUN!

I managed to learn another new poem for Worcester Music Festival (only wrote it last week) so I am planning on being able to connect properly with the audience on at least some of the poems. It is much easier to work on the performance if you are not trying to balance a book…. another reason why my next poetry collection will be in an A5 notebook! I am looking forward to getting my set ready and returning to Cherry Reds on the 25th September

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