Tag Archives: Halloween

October Review (better late than never)

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Just before we reach the halfway point of November I thought I would get my head down and tell you about last month!

October was such a whirlwind month. An abundant welcome into the winter and came with the realisation that I have not submitted anything for 5 months (I have organised enough WPL events to fill 100 pages of my notebook) and written more commissioned poems than I can count on all my fingers and toes… but this is something I want to get back to before the end of the year. So now I will find some extra time to carve out, December is looking good!

WEEK 1: 

I wanted to go to Kim Moore’s workshop at Buzzwords, but I didn’t get back from my stint in London at the Poetry Book Fair/Free Verse in time. Well technically, I could have detoured to Cheltenham in time but energy levels were so long I didn’t think I would manage the late drive home or even stay awake for writing and my brain was as tired as my body. It was amazing according to everyone who was there and having taken her workshop at the Verve Festival in February, I don’t doubt it!

I had my Adam Speaks Treehouse poem accepted for the NT project at Croome Court. With NPD, Credo and then hot-footing down South I had forgotten the deadline on this writing, which was already tight. This was the first poem I was forced to send on my phone, thank goodness it was a submission in the body of an email. I had to send it from Free Verse and it was a definite last minute submission. Fortunately, I didn’t look too rude doing so as the hall was packed with poets live tweeting.

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© Croome Court/Adam Speaks

I had a school workshop planned which sadly had to be postponed, I look forward to this in 2018 although I expect to change my plans to fit the curriculum topics in the Spring Term.

Then I went down to Swindon for the Poetry Festival, now in it’s 5th year (and my 3rd). I cannot express how much I love this festival. This was my first year of stewarding, generally I buy festival passes or lots of events tickets and arrive as a punter, network, drink and absorb poetry into my very core. I knew working on the team would make this experience completely different but I also knew it was a solid team to be part of and saw volunteering as the biggest thank you I could give.

I was also booked to perform V Formation with fellow V. Press Poets Stephen Daniels and Gram Joel Davies (also notably on the team).

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Some of the team and performers at the opening event POEMS ALOUD Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon

V FORMATION – POETS of V. PRESS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
A celebration of three new and exciting voices in British poetry: Stephen Daniels, Gram Joel Davies and Nina Lewis.
Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. His debut pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them was published in 2017 by V. Press. Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon and his pamphlet, Bolt Down This Earth was V. Press’ Forward Prize nominee for 2017. Nina Lewis is Worcestershire Poet Laureate and her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016.

Our readings were on the 1st night and the event went well, was well attended and people were still talking about it a few days later.

Swindon Poetry Festival needs a blog post and I will write a full review as soon as I can find time to do so. Another case of better late than never!

 

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Highlights in brief:

WORKSHOP: The Dynamic Poem Holiday Inn  With Daljit Nagra
Poems can sometimes seem flat and lack vigour, they can drift along in a dreamy mood without any conviction. Daljit will explore with examples from contemporary poetry how to put the fizz back into a poem. Participants should expect to have attempted at least one new lively poem!

READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Poke into the poetry box! Treasures of the heart, inca-named stardust, and various severed body parts! An hour of humour and water with Sue Rose, Emma Simon and Simon Williams.
Emma Simon won the Prole Laureate poetry competition in 2013 and loss, love & severed body parts scatter through her first collection Dragonish (The Emma Press). Simon Williams latest collection, Inti, was published in July. Sue Rose is the author of three poetry collections. Heart Archives was published by Hercules Editions in 2014.

POETS & PUBLISHERS RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
Discussions led by poet Carrie Etter with two prominent poetry editors, Amy Wack and Mary Jean Chan. Come and join a discussion about what it takes to get published.
Carrie Etter is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her most recent collection, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in New Work in Poetry by The Poetry Society.
Since 1990, American expatriate Amy Wack has edited Seren Books’ multi-prizewinning poetry list. Her own poems have appeared in various journals, most recently a 12-part poem inspired by feral cats in Spain in Long Poem Magazine.
Mary Jean Chan, from Hong Kong, is shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and is Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Ambit, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Callaloo Journal.

WORKSHOP: Call and Response Sun Inn With Rishi Dastidar
We’ve all been to workshops where we’ve been inspired by other poems, maybe visual art too, and then written in response to them. So what happens when we use pop songs instead? That’s the simple premise behind ‘Call and Response’, where some great music will hopefully provide great inspiration for writing poems. Just bring some paper, pencils – and your ears.
Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. His debut collection, Ticker-tape, is published by Nine Arches Press.

and more…

During the festival I missed the beginning of Birmingham Literature Festival and a meeting with the poets involved in the Elgar Poetry Project.

Week 2: 

Swindon Poetry Festival and the highlights of the weekend. An amazing end to the festival was Monday morning, breakfast with Daljit and then Breakfast and Poetry over at the Tent Palace as our festival finale.

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I got back on Monday afternoon and Monday evening was straight out to open mic at Licensed to Rhyme in the new venue Cafe Morso, Barnt Green.

cafe_1imag© Cafe Morso

Fergus McGonigal was headlining, so good to see him again and to see him back on the circuit with his new book, now one of my new shiny books too!

Everyone is now unhappy© Burning Eye 

As WPL I was busy gathering submissions for World Mental Health Day – as Mental Health Week started when I was in Swindon and I had been hit by the dreaded Swindon Lurgy! Which meant I missed most of the events at Birmingham Literature Festival that I planned to go to!

I was also organising the Hanbury Hall Project for poets to go and write about artwork displayed in the Long Gallery by DAN. The Gallery opened on the 10th and the exhibition ran until the 29th and they had over 3300 visitors, only 15 of which were poets!

Not as WPL but as a poet I was also busy preparing INKSPILL – our online writing retreat.

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I missed tons of events being ill (proper ill with blankets).

Week 3: 

I made it back to the edge of health in time to perform as WPL at the SpeakEasy event for Mental Health Day at Cafe Bliss, this is a wonderful annual event which brings together speakers from a variety of Mental Health and Wellbeing backgrounds, agencies such as The Samaritans and this year The Shaw Trust and of course local poets.

It was a very moving experience and a good afternoon. I also received submissions for the World Mental Health Day Anthology from participants. I love it when the WPL projects reach local people through events and radio broadcasts. I made the decision to keep the submission open on the Mental Health collection for the duration of my tenure. We raise awareness of it a few times a year through these calendar events, but actually it is everyday living for 1 in 4 (official statistics were 1 in 5 but recent NHS figures show 1 in 4).

The following day after dragging myself around a D.I.Y store with Mr G. I diagnosed myself healthy enough to venture into Birmingham to catch Joe Cook and Hollie McNish at the Town Hall. This is the 2nd time this year I have seen Hollie and she was as wonderful as ever. It was also the 2nd time this year I gave up on queuing to meet her. I met her several times in 2015 and I know I will get my new books signed one day!

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© Birmingham Mail

I had planned to get to Wellington Festival, but I still wasn’t 100% well and also my car was slightly damaged over the weekend.

I made it to Hanbury Hall and was able to meet up with the Cheltenham contingency of poets (well, some of them). I took plenty of photos and notes and ended up writing 8 poems – 6 of which will make it public.

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On the 18th I was back in Birmingham for Stablemates at Waterstones. Jill Abram always sends me an invite to these London events, so I could hardly refuse when she brought it to the Midlands. It was a fantastic night. I really felt uplifted by the end of it. It was also a chance to finally meet and watch Rosie Garland who I have heard so much about. I got to see Jackie Hagan again (last time I saw her was at Hit the Ode) and listening to Henry Normal was a pleasure, I love the fact his is Oscar nominated and a BAFTA winner and has yet returned to his first love of poetry.

I started to promote my first WPL event for children, which had been in the pipeline for a while. The WLF team produce a Halloween Event for LITtleFest at St.John’s library which along with the usual storytelling, pumpkin carving and treats I included a Writing Workshop for 5 – 9+ years old.

LitFest Halloween 2017 poster

I also had a call out for Halloween Poem Submissions which needed a push.

I spent the tail end of the week working on the Elgar Poetry commission (WPL).

 

Week 4 

I had my 2nd writing meeting with Spark Young Writers at The Hive, we had a go at our own spooky theme and also had the new WWM Operations Assistant, Heddwen Creaney come to visit our group.

I spent 4 days busily researching Elgar and completing 14 new poems for the event in November.

I spent some admin time organising festival events for 2018.

I worked on my WMRN role as Reader in Residence for Rugby Library organising next month’s Review Writing Workshop.

I had my WPL spot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding, talked about the Elgar Project and Mental Health. I shared my poem ‘First Steps’ from Fragile Houses.

In the evening I enjoyed dressing up for Halloween (I looked like a Gothic Librarian – but what I wanted was Suz Winspear our first Goth Poet Laureate) and went to 42. It was rather cramped as we were in the Lunar Bar upstairs and it was a great turn out for the night. It also gave me a chance to promote the Halloween submission call too.

I missed Jenna Clake’s Book Launch of ‘Fortune Cookie’ in Birmingham, which I was gutted about but I also asleep by the time it started. So the right call was made!

We had a Stanza meeting and then it was Week 5!

 

Week 5 

INKSPILL of course, which needs no introduction around here… our 5th annual online writing retreat – it is mad to think we have been going for as long as Swindon Poetry Festival! This year’s Guest Poets were Antony Owen & Stephen Daniels, both fellow V. Press poets, although I hadn’t realised that until after the booking.

It was a massively successful and fun weekend. Take a look at the programme page if you missed it and you should be able to navigate through from there using the menu tools on screen.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/inkspill-2017-programme/

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It was also the Halloween Event at the library – where my workshop was attended by children aged 4 to 12, all enjoyed themselves and watched me, dressed as a witch attempting to fly around the room. They did ask why my face wasn’t green and I told them all about the family tea party I was going to afterwards.

It was fun and the most exhausting WPL event yet!

On Sunday I spent a long time creating the first issue of the WPL Magazine Contour – submissions all about Place/Worcestershire closed at the end of August and since then I have been sifting through work. Fortunately during some local research I discovered Philip Halling and we were able to use his images throughout the magazine with a few additions from local poets.

 

The end of the DAN Exhibition at Hanbury Hall was marked with a closing celebration on the 30th which Polly Stretton was invited to read her poem ‘Curves’ at. Polly won a competition created by Peter Hawkins (Chair) to find a poem for the closing of the exhibition. I sneaked one of mine in as WPL/Organiser of the poetry part of the project.

The artist for my piece was there, Stephen Evans and I am delighted that he will be using my work alongside his painting in his next exhibition in December.

I successfully completed a WPL Productions Poetry Film to show off the Halloween Poetry Submissions and added some prose as a one off Poet Laureate special to the blog.

 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

More on the Adam Speaks Launch day next month.

Adam Speaks National Trust Launch Event

Buy your copy of Fergus McGonigal’s new book here

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/everyone-is-now-unhappy

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Trick or Treat?

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Happy Halloween

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Here is my Halloween Poetry Film produced from submissions to Worcestershire Poet Laureate and featuring my first ever crowd sourced poem, in which I used ever word sent! 

WANTED: Halloween Poems & Prose

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Open Submissions for Halloween Themed Writing. Please read the guidelines carefully. 5 days to send me some spooks and scares.

Poet Laureate

Halloween Prose PoetryWANTED: Your Halloween Poems

Please note extended deadline – Poetry/Prose to be sent by 30/10/17

Following an amazing night at 42 (Gothic Halloween/ Plus special theme), I have opened this submission to prose too (max. of 1000 words). 

Your support is greatly appreciated, please share this opportunity.

Perfect for poets who enjoy 42 (every last Wednesday of the month) at Drummonds, Worcester. Or for those who like to write darker material. Equally good for those amongst us who write more light-hearted poems about Trick or Treat (Heather Wastie’s famous Halloween poem springs to mind).

Nothing too graphic – I scare easily and I want to be able to share your work! 

Send it to the usual place, in the usual way. Poems/prose must not be previously published, no expletive language, please use single spacing and send in the body of an email to worcspl[at]gmail.com

Copy of Halloween Party (1)

NEW EXTENDED DEADLINE 30th…

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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!

 

A Great Time Had By All At 42!

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42 Worcester's photo. I accepted the great challenge of writing material which would be suitable for this event – as I am such a scaredy cat that my over active imagination struggles to keep any grasp on reality. Sometimes I challenge myself to read books from this genre but cannot read them after dark!
Anyway I knew I had written some poems this year that would be suitable and I set about writing a few new ones.
I know that often poet’s perform the same set or parts of it – I like the fact that signing up to a new event forces me to write new material.
1 month – 5 events in Leamington, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Birmingham and Worcester.
And my confidence is high – audiences are so kind and other poets are great at giving feedback.
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*Mid spooky verse
Thanks to Andrew Owens for making me feel so welcome and using my blog tag line in the introduction!
I also saw a writer I met back in April at Keith Lindsay’s Writing Workshop. We got talking and he leant me a book – about writing – will help me through NaNoWriMo for sure!
1 42 So thanks for trusting me with it James.
I had a fabulous night, heard a mixture of stories and poems and had some great feedback on my set.
The adrenalin is surging!
The only sad thing – is about 20 minutes before I was due to leave for the city – I found out that it was optional fancy dress. In previous years I have loved dressing up for Halloween
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and this year we hadn’t made any plans to. The only party/ gig we have been invited to clashes with a gig we have already booked so until a few weeks ago I had no need for a costume. Unpacking my fancy dress wasn’t a priority and it is still buried somewhere in the 3rd bedroom (which we will tackle later this week!) … I did have skulls on my dress…. and at least I didn’t have to worry about my make up running!
A spoken word event was the perfect way for me to include Halloween into 2013.
The next one is a Flash Fiction event, so may need to work on some material for a while!