Tag Archives: festivals

Review of July

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Week 1: 

Workshop/National Trust Project

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© 2017 Rachel Hill

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

© National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

Literature Festival

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

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

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

Evesham-Festival-of-Words-Image-1

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

Radio

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

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

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Performances

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

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

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

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

Headline

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

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

uncorked-july

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

Workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ledbury Poetry Festival 

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

It was amazing. Read the full 21 Years of Gold

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Week 2

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

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

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

Performance/ Cheltenham Music Festival

Chapel arts

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

 

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

Commission/Performance/Project 

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories

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

Buildings Talk

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

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

Read a full review here Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories


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


Performance

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

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

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

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

Week 3

Writing

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

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

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

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

Readings

Summer Party – Nine Arches Press

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

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

Meetings

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

Book Launch

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

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

Meetings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Artsfest

droitwich artsfest

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

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

Watch Out Worcester! 

watch out worcs

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

st swithins dancefest

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

Week 4

Writing

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

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

Workshop

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

Performance

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

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

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

ArtsFest Poet in Residence

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

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

DAN Lib

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

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

DAN Rhys  © 2017 Rhys Jones

Poetry

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

DAN Lib3

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

July has been exceptional!

 

Review June 2017

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What a cracking, action-packed month!

Week 1:

At the end of May, I was notified of the Worcester Poet Laureate finals as I was a finalist, I still hadn’t told many people I had entered. This year our poems were not open to vote on the LitFest site and so many people didn’t know who the participants were.

But I knew. I am getting used to keeping success secret until the time comes when you can share the news. It is tricky and sometimes frustrating, but it is delightful when you can finally go public.

So after the official finalists announcement, I did just that and went public with my news. Damon Lord and Louise Reeder were the other finalists and it is a competition all of us had entered before.

Most of this week was spent preparing for the 9th (WLF Poet Laureate Final/Launch), memorising poetry and writing my brief summary of what I would do in role were I lucky enough to be awarded the position.

I also prepared for our WLF show (11th June) 30-40-60 in collaboration with Kathy Gee & Claire Walker. I had poetry film work to edit and a major software crisis. I was also co-ordinating/ organising the Open Mic section of the show.

304060

Thursday 1st June saw UNCORKED at Bottles, Holly Daffurn’s wonderful new vibey poetry/spoken word night. This started back in April (20th) and at the time I am sure Holly hoped to do it again, at the time she wasn’t sure if it would become a regular event. I am glad to see that it has.

The Headliners were Charley Barnes, Hannah Teesdale and Spoz. I was going to be on this bill but then Charley’s book was released and it was decided better timing for her to appear. (I am happily headlining next month.) It was a fabulous night and I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with Hannah and listening to sterling sets from all the featured artists. uncorked-june (2)

The open mic section (of which I was part) worked well too. I wish I had more time to write timely reviews, like I used to back in the day. One man who can be relied upon to do just that is Rick Sanders, re-reading his review brought it all back to me, so hopefully it will make you feel like you were there too.

Vintage Uncorked

Friday night was Stanza and Saturday saw a clash of events, a pre-book Book Launch in Walsall and a editing/workshop in Cheltenham. I always go with the first booking and that was the workshop.

I was due to perform in the Stoke Newington Literature Festival for the Shabda Press launch, but was geographically not close enough to make it to London in time and after cancelling last month’s workshop, didn’t really want to do the same.

stoke

In the end common sense won (rare result) and I headed home.

On Sunday a new event happened in Walsall – the brainchild and action of  Dave Pitt, Steve Pottinger and Emma Purshouse – Yes we Cant – they had a banner made and everything. I love the pay what you think concept and I LOVED the fact that Jonny Fluffypunk was the first headliner. I was going anyway – but when I discovered that it sealed it for sure!

walsall punk

Paul Francis was the other featured guest and I have not seen him for so long. Back to full health and with a new pamphlet, an irresistible buy at only £3 and for a ruddy good cause. Breaking Point – Poems about Migration.

You can read more about the launch in Much Wenlock here.

I like regular forms – so there’s sonnets, a ballad rhymed couplets and a villanelle; and I’m not shy about political commitment. I think the Farage side of the leave campaign was despicable, and am strongly opposed to the explicit hostility to migrants which has resulted from the campaign. So there. I’m not, of course, on the front line, but Wolverhampton city of Sanctuary are, and the booklet is being sold to raise money for them. £72.00 in the first week, which is not a fortune but is better than nothing. Paul Francis © 2017

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I had a great night, the venue was packed and hot! It will be interesting to see how they configure the furniture next time, the open mic spots were enjoyed and I was lucky enough to get there in time to grab one! They had an open poetry competition, on the night 8 lines of topical story in poetic form, with a winner (Mogs, of course) and prizes and everything.

They had table decorations and a fun party atmosphere, frantically fun at times. Paul’s set was incredible powerful and thought provoking and Jonny was on TOP form! I was delighted to get to chat a bit at the end, always aware of getting in the way of new fandom for this man. I snapped up Poundland Rimbaud, his latest Burning Eye collection and chatted politics for a while (on the cusp of the election).

I had a great night and this is definitely a night I will attend again, although I have to miss Brenda Read-Brown on the 2nd July due to a festival event and a family party.

Rick mentions the banner too! https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/did-someone-mention-a-banner/

It was a wild way to end the week and leaves me wishing Walsall could be moved a little closer!


Week 2:

After a 5 day run on events, I planned to crack on with some down time pre- Worcester LitFest and apart from working and the inevitable household chore list, I managed some rest – from performing at least.

I have been so busy for the past few months that I have missed the opportunity of submitting work and things on the desk are now living in mountainous piles. My focus was the LitFest and our show 30-40-60 that allowing brainspace for anything else was almost impossible.

I had two poems published by Weasel Press in a digital anthology highlighting Domestic Abuse. degen 1 One of the poems ‘Ripped’ was written this year during NaPoWriMo, the other ‘Statues in Stone’ is a poem I have tinkered with for years.

On Friday the 7th Worcester LitFest kicked off with the Launch and Poet Laureate Final at Worcester Racecourse, just thinking back makes me feel exhausted. There is so much tension and anxiety caused by putting yourself through any competition, but one with these stakes… well.

I thoroughly enjoyed the new venue, I couldn’t enjoy the bar and nibbles as I had work to do and much as I managed to circulate and converse the thrilling excitement everyone else was experiencing was just like nauseating sea-sickness in my mind and stomach.

The Young Writers Competition entries were read and those teens had so much talent I bet there was not a person in the room who didn’t consider hanging up their pen! The 3 winning flash fiction entries were also celebrated before us finalists took to the floor with our poems and promises.

In case you have missed social media for the past 3 weeks… I won! Delighted.

Read more about it https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/worcestershire-poet-laureate-final/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/worcestershire-poet-laureate-201718/

https://journalread.com/2017/06/16/congratulations-nina-lewis-worcestershire-poet-laureate-2017-2/

PL Suz Winspear – Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Nina Lewis and Steve Wilson – County Arts Officer.

For up to date information and all things Worcestershire/Poetry check out my Laureate blog here.

Saturday was a tough day – after the excitement of becoming the new Poet Laureate, I had 3 hours sleep and journeyed into Birmingham to the University for the National Writers Conference, organised by Writing West Midlands.

This used to be called the Writers Toolkit, I haven’t been since 2014. Tickets are fairly pricey but completely worth the investment. If you do the sums, (three break out sessions, 2 key-note speakers, priceless networking opportunities, lunch, refreshments and performances are all included in the ticket price AND a goody bag) – it does not feel unreasonably high. This year as I am in Room 204 a free ticket is one of the many perks of the development programme and only 3 hours sleep was NOT going to stop me attending.

I had a wonderful day, met a few new people and reconnected with poet/writer friends. It was lovely to snatch brief conversations with a few of the keynote speakers before they rushed off to Welshpool Literature Festival, I will write a designated post next month and link it back to here. Too much to say in a review paragraph. Needless to say, loved the whole event and got some things out of it. It felt very different to the first time.

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I managed a couple of hours at home before my first OFFICIAL engagement as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

Night at the Museum III – Suz Winspear – Poet in Residence at the Porcelain Museum, Matt Windle – Birmingham Poet Laureate, Oakley – Young Poet Laureate of Worcestershire, Chloe Clarke – Former Young Poet Laureate Worcestershire and myself performed sets of poetry before Suz launched her new Worcester Porcelain pamphlet – The Aniseed Elite. https://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/product/pamphlet-2/

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It was a fabulous night of top notch poetry from a talented bunch of poet laureates, a pleasure to be part of and I felt very special. My set included my two finalists poems ‘Lit Up’ (on the theme of Voice) and ‘Tasseomancy’. A less nervous performance of both.

Sunday was filled with preparation for our debut showing of 30-40-60 at the LitFest, another incredible, adrenaline fuelled evening of poetry and pleasure.

Read all about it https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/30-40-60/

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WEEK 3:

I started promoting 30-40-60, before the show I had sent press releases out in the hope of future festival bids, after hearing the audience reaction I was spurred on to get something concrete organised for 2018.

I also started Laureateship work, traditionally the Poet Laureate has a local radio slot (BBC Hereford & Worcester), Suz put me in touch with the contact and my first radio interview is on 3rd July. The past Laureates have been strong and I want to build on their success, continuing work where the foundations have been laid as well as building new poetry constructs is all part of my mission.

I organised a poetry performance and picnic at an established event ‘SALT KING 200’ at the Chateau Impney – in celebration of John Corbett and put a call out for poetry submissions for a Refugee Anthology, World Refugee Day/ Refugee Awareness Week.

I also created a dedicated WPL blog and email account. I have a feeling I will need both this year!

Worcester LitFest was in full swing and I attended and performed at 42 Festival Special, which featured the Anti-Poet and was an anarchy driven night of high spirits and the following night SpeakEasy with Pete the Temp, which was also the evening Suz and I did the official hand over and had a few more photos taken of the now engraved WPL award!

Handover

I hope to create a dedicated blog post for more details in review of the 7th Worcester LitFest – keep your eyes peeled!

I also received a couple of gifts, a wooden ‘Laureate’s Nook’ sign from Mr G. for my Book Nook (to be created) and a folder with a certificate from Maggie Doyle Poet Laureate Emeritus.

After performing my Grenfell Tower poem at 42 (the reaction it got), I decided it was necessary to share it on social media. I later decided to send it to Reuben Woolley at I Am Not A Silent Poet. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/sudden-emptiness-by-nina-lewis/ He kindly published it.

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WEEK 4:

Laureate wise – I produced the poetry collection for World Refugee Day (20th) https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/world-refugee-day-in-poetry/ showcasing established, emerging and beginner poets – Local, National & International poets represented. I was amazed by the response and with just 48 hours from call out to end result – it is a fine collective of voices. Strong points that need to be heard and should be made.

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I also promoted National Writing Day NationalWritingDay_Featured (1) and performed at the final WLF Fringe event for the 2017 Festival – Words on Water – A Midsummer celebration of poetry and prose on the banks of the River Severn. It was an excellent evening and this year even saw a stop off for a much needed rest (it was during the heatwave) and rehydration at the Diglis Hotel. An addition the whole team agree to repeat next year. I will write more about it in my LitFest round up review next month.

At the beginning of the week when my recent win was not the wide-spread news it is now – I was invited to perform at a well established Poetry Festival later this year!

I had a 10 minute Guest Spot at Licensed to Rhyme at the Artrix – the night is run by Maggie Doyle & Spoz.

licensed-to-rhyme

I worked on a couple of projects I am currently involved with. Spent an afternoon at Croome Court as preparation for the Adam Speak Project (Room 204) with 9 other poets.

On Friday evening I ventured back to Birmingham to Waterstones (seems like ages), for Three Midland Poets a night with Nichola Deane, Rich Goodson and Charles G Lauder Jr.

I loved all of their performances and always enjoy meeting, hearing and reading new-to-me-poets. I ended up buying all three books thanks to some (intentionally) hidden handbag book money! It was a great night and despite being exceptionally tired, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

https://www.list.co.uk/event/788728-three-midlands-poets/

I also had an open mic spot and was able to share my Laureate poems as practise for next week’s Headline spot (booked back in April).

Saturday saw my final Writing West Midlands Spark Writers Group for this academic year.

Sunday was a day of rest… of course it wasn’t! I had organised the Poetry Performance and Picnic at SALT KING 200 which was a good event and I will blog about it in more detail next month.

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Design by Rosie Philpott.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/salt-king-200-with-added-poetry/

WEEK 5: 

The extra bit – I finally sat at my desk long enough to consider submissions and writing, for the first time in months. I have been busy with shows, festival events, organising and promoting – which is all well and good but sometimes a poet just wants to write. It felt good. Like the cleanse of the first wash after a long-distance trip.

I even managed a submission!

I heard back from Editors, long awaited Leonard Cohen Anthology response and am delighted that my poem ‘Shadow Line’ will be published in Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, more news on that soon. I love signing poetry contracts before work, that will never grow old as a brilliant way to start the morning!

I contacted local media/newspapers about WPL (Worcestershire Poet Laureate) and enjoyed a 2nd influx of messages.

Earlier this month there was talk of both a festival booking possibility and a dedicated one off poetry day/event with publishers. Both things came to fruition – and guess what – they are planned for the same day! Of course I will do both!

I had my first headline gig for a while, featured poet at Spoken Trend in Kings Norton (Weds 28th). A great night and plenty of new to the mic poets and first timers at the event. Tom McCann did himself proud and Tom Crossland was the god of memorised words! 18156973_234039340410245_5610446431448437883_n I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. Some fabulous open mic slots, plenty of featured artists amongst them.

SPOKEN TREND One of those nights you wish you could repeat, straight away!

And to complete my month there is a meeting taking place later (30th) about a current project and Stanza this evening, where I plan to take a current project poem along for editing advice!

What a glorious month of sun, heat and poetry!

Copy of Music Festival Poster Template

 

 

Review of June

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So why was there only one blog post this month? Mainly because I have been training myself to learn to love the editing process as much as the writing one… although, I am certain this will never happen.

I have taken a real backseat with performing too. We are entering the summer festival season and despite looking through brochures and deciding I would like to attend many events, I have been held back from doing so as I am time poor and poor at the moment.

I haven’t submitted anything other than edited manuscripts for ages and writing new material has been a no go zone too. Due to the long summer break I have been taking on as much work as possible and I am also busy trying (and failing) to arrange birthday parties and mini breaks. June is also a ‘real life’ busy month with birthdays, celebrations and events, not to mention the hours consumed watching programmes about Britain leaving the EU. The REMAIN/LEAVE campaigns were something not many of us understood prior to June and I needed to be sure of my stance and understand the impact before voting.

The world knows the story since… seems strange that when David Cameron resigned as Britain’s Prime Minister it was only the 3rd most important story of the day.

And of course when the future is in the head of a poet, it guarantees that there isn’t much room left for poetry.

Here is a review of what I managed and sometimes what I missed in the world of poetry this month.


Cheltenham

I totally missed Cheltenham Poetry Festival, but the month started with a personal invite to a workshop. Unfortunately there was a tragic accident on the motorway in the morning and the only other route to Cheltenham was blocked by overflow traffic, so I didn’t make the workshop. I felt guilty feeling sad about it when there were some poor people who hadn’t survived the day.

Editing

I spent my break editing and haven’t managed a writing day since.

Book Launches

Jenna Plewes had a book launch at the local library on the 6th June. Her latest collection ‘Pull on the Earth’ includes lots of poems about her travels. It was an enjoyable launch.

Pull of the Earth is published by Indigo Dreams and is available for £8.99 + P&P BUY your copy here

See blog post for more details https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/book-launch-pull-of-the-earth-by-jenna-plewes/

Pull of Earth

Open Mics

June saw Jess Davis hosting her final Stirchley Speaks. The monthly poetry night held at the P Café will be hosted by Callum and Jessica Bates from July. This is a full circle for them as they were one of the three headline acts appearing at the first Stirchley Speaks one year ago.

I was lucky enough to perform, it was a great night.

Unfortunately it clashed with David Hart appearing at The Works’ Canteen. I had hoped to make it back to this night held at the Black Country Museum, hosted by Dave Reeves. David Hart meantime, waits on my list of must see.

I also missed HOWL as I was still editing.

I performed at the 42 Festival Special as part of WLF (Worcester LitFest), an enjoyable night themed around the Last Stop on the Worcester Night Tra.

I also had a slot at WLF SpeakEasy which was hosted by the ever delightful Myfanwy Fox and headlined by Angela France. It was great to catch up with both of them and Angela gave me a good Ledbury tip off.

 

Lit Fests & Workshops

Worcester LitFest kicked off on the 10th June with the Poet Laureate Final (I remember the nerves from this time last year), not good memories as far as emotions go. Traumatic in actual fact. This year saw a new venue at Worcester Race Course and instead of 3 finalists being picked from 6 performers, they had 3 finalists striving for the accolade. A wise decision was also made with regard to the amount of other ceremonial achievements celebrated beforehand, making it a shorter event and allowing the poets to suffer less palpitations. I didn’t manage to support in person this year but I am delighted to announce that this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate is Suz Winspear!

Positive Images Festival

On June 12th I headed over to Coventry for a ‘The Atomic Sun’ workshop with Antony Owen, Patron of CND Peace Education UK and Award Winning Poet. Antony and I have poems in an anthology due out later this year published by Shabda Press entitled ‘Nuclear Impact Broken Atoms in our Hands’. It was a deeply moving experience which I will post about separately.

http://www.positiveimagesfestival.co.uk/

https://antonyowenpoetry.wordpress.com/

http://www.cnduk.org/information/peace-education/item/2254-peace-education-patrons-antony-owen

Workshop

Gary Crew is an Australian Author of YA Fiction. His picture books for KS2+ are brilliant and ‘The WaterTower'(1994) formed part of the mantle learning at one of the schools I work at. The Watertower

As part of his time here in the UK (mainly London and Oxford) he was also able to catch a train up to the Midlands and workshop with some very eager children. As part of his contract he had to deliver something to academics (funding), so I was one of about 40 teachers treated to a session with him after work.

I will add a post of information about his writing. It was inspiring for me and I bought a book of his I have not read as poetry instantly sprang to mind, we will see where that leads (after I have finished this first manuscript maybe)!

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/c/gary-crew/

 

Performances

Quiet Compere Worcester LitFest

Friday 17th June I was lucky enough to be part of the QC Event at Worcester LitFest, Sarah Dixon returned for another wonderful night of poetry at The Hive. A different format this time she had featured poets, guest poets and some open mics, pre-booked (like mine) or signed up on the night. Link to follow.

Midsummer Poetry Brothel Caged Arts

Heidi Murphy hosted her 2nd Poetry Brothel at P Café on the 22nd June to celebrate the solstice. I had missed the Solstice Walk (Festival Fringe event), due to family celebrations clashing so it was useful to be able to blow the dust off last year’s solstice poems. No time to pen anything new, but I did have time to raid my wardrobe for florals; trousers, flower in the hair… it was my 3rd Poetry Brothel (am I forming a habit?).

Writing West Midlands

From September the Junior and Senior groups are amalgamating, so I spent an entire Saturday at the library being Jenny Hope’s assistant and then taking my own final session for this term/year in the afternoon. I had hoped to attend A Night at the Museum, WLF event in the evening but after working two groups and with a few hours of limbo, I decided I was too tired and left the city for home.

So there is June in rather a big nutshell – and of course, I am still writing NaPoWriMo poems (from April prompts)…

pen sarah wilko anderson Happy writing! x

October Review

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OCTOBER 2015 Review – Another great and busy month. We held our 3rd annual writing retreat INKSPILL, I worked on new poetry and current projects and performed all over the place. I even had a week off from performing and writing, to plan and prepare INKSPILL. It was also a month of Festivals, Swindon and Birmingham and I headlined in Cheltenham too. I also worked on two commissioned performances, one for National Poetry Day and the other for this evening, a Halloween Poetry Brothel!

WEEK 1

The month started in Swindon at Poetry Swindon Festival, tickets for which were only booked last minute a few weeks before.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/swindon-poetry-festival-2015/

It was a brilliant weekend, I performed as part of the 52 event, wrote new poetry in Jo Bell’s X-ray Spex workshop, met some great poets and writers and enjoyed performances from many poets including Kei Miller & David Clarke.

I also made it to Stirchley Speak, which, as always was a great night of poetry at the P Café, hosted  by Jess Davies.

WEEK 2

Then it was NATIONAL POETRY DAY on the 8th October, which is like a massive party day for any poet! NPD LIVE This year I celebrated by taking part in Heather Wastie’s Light and Shade event at the carpet museum in Kidderminster.

light shade NPD

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/national-poetry-day-light-shade-event-at-kidderminster-carpet-museum/

Suz Winspear and I were the touch of theatre, working on a commission from Heather to write poems about the carpet industry and incorporating Light and Shade into the proposed work. We then met with Heather and created our performance for the night – which took place in a narrow corridor, looking over the museum and the looms. An area that is not usually open to the public.

It was also Birmingham Literature Festival 8th – 17th October, I wasn’t able to get to as much as I wanted to this year, but what I managed was fantastic. BLFest  I felt blessed to see Rita Dove and it was great to see so many writing world friends too. I had tickets for other events on the last weekend of the festival, but a Writing group for WWM needed my assistance, so I missed those.

Short and Sweet: Short Fiction Salon

This was an event hosted by fiction writer and Heart Breakfast presenter Rachel New, Short & Sweet allows you to dip your toe into the water of live literature, and enjoy readings we select for you – including a story from Rachel herself written especially for this event.

Rachel New is a veteran of short fiction challenges – having survived two unusual residencies at Birmingham Literature Festivals past – Ten Day Sentence in 2013 and One Page Wonders in 2014. Both these experiences saw Rachel writing against the clock, responding to prompts from the wider festival audience and producing huge volumes of creative fiction. Rachel brings this expertise, as well as her ongoing PhD studies in creative writing, to the Short & Sweet arena for performances and discussion.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

Rita Dove and Guests

We are delighted to welcome Rita Dove, the former U.S. Poet Laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner, to give a rare poetry reading in the UK. A mesmerising performer, Rita Dove’s work covers a range of subjects, each of them addressed with wit and verve.

Her most recent poetry collections are Sonata Mulattica and American Smooth. She is editor of the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry and is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Among her honours are the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, making her the only poet to ever receive both medals.

As a prelude to Rita Dove’s reading, we present three short poetry performances. Jo Bell, Canal Laureate, will be reading from her eagerly awaited new collection, Kith. She will be joined by Birmingham Young Poet Laureate 2014-15, Serena Arthur and by Oliver Sullivan, a young performer from the region who was runner up in this year’s Poetry by Heart Competition. 

Sponsored by the University of Birmingham.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/birmingham-literature-festival-2015/

On 10th October it was also Claire walker’s book launch for the much awaited poetry pamphlet THE GIRL WHO GREW INTO A CROCODILE. It was a lovely evening celebrating the poetry of my talented friend! I would recommend this pamphlet published by V Press, highly indeed.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/marvellous-book-launch-the-girl-who-grew-into-a-crocodile-by-claire-walker/

claire w croc

WEEK 3

Was filled with open mics, headlines, book festivals, talks and workshops.

Leon Priestnall and the The Blue Dive headlined Mouth & Music, on the 13th October. mmoct It was a great night and I enjoyed myself immensely. There were some fab open mic-ers and great musicians and it was good to catch up with folk I have not seen in a while.

mmoct leon mmoct blue dive mmoct me PHOTO CREDIT © Peter Williams 2015

The next evening I took a trip out to Cheltenham where I was headlining for Sharon Larkin at The Poetry Café Refreshed. It was a lovely event at the interesting American Diner venue of Smokey Joe’s. I was able to promote the Restless Bones Anthology. I enjoyed hearing poetry from other performers including; Roger Turner, David Clarke, Gill Garrett, Miki Byrne, Michael Newman, Michael Skaife d’Ingerthorpe, Angel Whitehorse & Sharon Larkin.

poetry cafe refreshed

This week also saw another festival. The Book to the Future Festival, UoB, University of Birmingham has always been scheduled for after the Birmingham Literature Festival, this year they over lapped. The following evening I performed at Phenomenal Women, in the Costa Café on site at Birmingham University. This event was organised by Jan Watts and was my 3rd year taking part and I think it was the best one yet. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

book to the future b2tf group b2tf jan

The region’s top female poets, including University of Birmingham alumna Jan Watts (Birmingham Poet Laureate 2011/12), Nina Lewis, Jackie Smallridge (Scrubber Jack) & Andrea Smith.

I went back to University and the Book to the Future Festival the next day (Friday 16th October) for a talk and a workshop.

Making a living from writing narinder

Narinder Dhami is best known for her books Bollywood Babes, Bend it Like Beckham and young adult reads such as Bang Bang You’re Dead.

It was a good talk that confirmed lots I knew already, I made copious notes and it sounds like I am on the right track. Always good to find this out.

Then I went to Jacqui Rowe’s workshop at the Barber Institute. I have wanted to take one of Jacqui’s workshops for over a year now, I was never available, until now. It was great and inspiring and has given me lots of poetry to work on.

Self and others – art and writing workshop

 BL RH jACQUI
Inspired by the Barber Institute’s Terms of Engagement exhibition, showcasing portraits from the University of Birmingham collection, join Jacqui Rowe to explore how we write about character.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/open-mics-guest-spots-book-festivals/

After this I went to a Stanza meeting, taking with me a poem I only had 30 minutes to write. It was a hectic week because I was also working my day job pretty much full time this week too.

On Saturday I had tickets for Birmingham Literature Festival, it was also the 2nd Session for WWM Young Writers. I had planned to manage the 30 mile trip after and it would have been a rush. I was asked to help assist the Junior group in the morning, so I had a whole day at The Hive Library. WWM PINK

thehiveworcsorg thehiveworcsorg

Our group has grown by a few as well, nearly in double figures which is great. I don’t think it was any wonder I needed a week off after this.

WEEK 4

I didn’t quite have a week off – I took a week off performing and writing poetry. I was working the day job and preparing for INKSPILL.

It was our 3rd Annual Online Writing Retreat and it was a great success and worth every minute of hard work. Thanks to our Guests Writers; Playwright – David Calcutt, Author/ Romance Novelist – Alison May and Poet -Daniel Sluman.

The links are still active to the weekend workshop that happened on 24th/25th October and you can take part at any point, let us know you are doing so with a like or a comment.

INKSPILL 2015

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-active-programme/

Wednesday saw the first Halloween Spoken Word night at Drummonds 42 – where I was able to perform a freshly penned poem and another I had written a few hours before the event. Claire Walker also had a headline slot and it was great to hear her again. I love the pamphlet (I may have already mentioned this) but it is always superbly satisfying to hear a poet share their words in their own voice.

It was optional fancy dress, I used a spider theme. 42 42

Thursday I wrote some new poetry in a workshop and missed a launch of the Poetry Review Magazine as I was too tired to drive again after spending a couple of hours on the road already. This was a shame as one of the poets was Helen Mort, another Poet I am yet to meet and hear.

Last night I had a non-poetry belated birthday night outthink floyd
 with Mr G seeing a Pink Floyd tribute band.

 

TONIGHT I am taking part in the Poetry Brothel at the P Café, it is a SELL OUT.p cafe brothel
 There are 6 poets taking part – we applied earlier in the year, Poetry Brothels are big in Europe and despite my nerves I am looking forward to it. I will post in early November about tonight.

 

WORKSHOPS

Jo Bell

Jacqui Rowe

Angela France

Narinder Dhami – Talk

PERFORMANCES

Swindon Poetry Festival Performed at 52 Event

The Poetry Café Refreshed Headlined Cheltenham

Phenomenal Women – with Jan watts Book to the Future Festival

Poetry Brothel – Caged Arts P Café

NPD Light & Shade Commission – Performed with Suz Winspear

OPEN MICS

Stirchley Speaks

Mouth & Music

42

BOOK LAUNCH / EVENTS/ FESTIVALS

POETRY SWINDON FESTIVAL

Book Launch The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile Claire Walker – V Press Pamphlet, performed.

Birmingham Literature Festival

Book to the Future Festival

WWM assistant writer cover & Lead Writer for Senior Group, Worcester.

Stanza

INKSPILL – the 3rd FREE Online writing Retreat

03_DREAM_poster01_THINK04_ACT-poster05_SPEAK_poster