Find resources and lesson plans, posters and logos here.
This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change
Find resources and lesson plans, posters and logos here.
This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change
Behind every Worcestershire Poet Laureate is a book and 2018 sees the launch of a new one. Heather Wastie was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015-16 and since passing her crown onto Suz Winspear (who in turned passed the crown to me), Heather has been busy touring Idle Women, writing a book of poems for The Ring Project and creating Nationwide adverts… so it is no surprise that this new collection (her 7th book) took a while in the making.
The beautiful cover is designed by Jess Silk.
I was delighted to attend her launch last Saturday 15th September at Park’s Cafe, Droitwich. Apt that we celebrated the launch in the very cafe that features the door which led to the poem/title of the collection. ‘Park’s Cafe Poetry Reading’.
It was a delightfully fun evening which brought back lots of memories and people. Heather loves to collaborate and I found it particularly touching to see the amount of people in the room who were part of some of the projects touched on in this collection. There were also plenty of ‘Mouth & Music’ friends I hadn’t seen for a while and it lovely catching up and conspiring to do some one off event in 2019.
Knowing Heather and her poetry, I knew we were in for a treat… and I wasn’t wrong! The evening was filled with poetry and music, all of Heather’s Guests had appeared in the book in some way.
After brief introductions from Rod Griffiths & Polly Stretton (Black Pear Press) Heather shared poems from Don’t Oil The Hinges.
Sharing with us details of where the poems came from, these context introductions are included in her book. She prefaced every poem with ‘I wouldn’t have written this poem if it were not for…’ and when that came round to Chaucer it had us all chortling!
Heather’s first guest was Sarah Tamar who she used to host Mouth & Music with. We were all delighted to see Sarah again & to hear her poems.
Then Heather’s Idle Women partner in crime Kate Saffin was next, delivering poetry used in the show (from the Idle Women book), delivered with aplomb. Kate blames Heather for getting her writing poetry. She is a talented Theatre maker and performer.
Another feature of a Black Pear Press Launch is the author Q&A, hosted by Tony Judge. His wicked sense of humour left us all aghast as he asked Heather who her favourite collaborator was, we knew he was joking… it was a magical moment when Heather answered. We also heard about her writing process, other work she has been involved in and future plans.
Following an interval we had music from Dave Sutherland, he had set Heather’s poem ‘Carrying the Evening Home’ to music – it was a great sing along and we got to hear one of his own songs too.
Then Sunny Ormonde, an actor from The Archers performed Heather’s poem ‘Dad Was A Fan of The Archers’, which she performs in her one-woman show.
“Needing a poem about local life for my show at Bewdley Festival I discovered Heather’s wonderfully funny poems on line. Immediately smitten, I contacted her and was over the moon when she kindly offered to write a special poem for the show and Dad was a fan of The Archers was born. Nothing could have been more perfect—it was a huge hit and continues to be so.” – Sunny Ormonde
Then Emma Purshouse closed the evening with a brilliant set including a poem she had written about the Canal for Heather & Kate to use in Idle Women. Her performance of it moved the room, we were all in that water. This poem will be included in Emma’s next book.
A well oiled (unlike Paul’s door) and relaxing evening. A most enjoyable launch and I now have my own copy of Heather’s latest book of poems.
Find out more about this collection and treat yourself to a copy here https://blackpear.net/authors-and-books/heather-wastie/dont-oil-the-hinges/
Published by Black Pear Press.
On Saturday night I finally managed to catch the Idle Women Tour, this is a project Heather Wastie has worked on since 2016, I missed the 2017 performances and have been meaning to catch a show ever since!
The show gained financial support from Arts Council England, which enabled the employment of a Tour Manager, Zoe Hunn and Director, Milla Jackson.
Last Autumn Idle Women featured on BBC Country File, which aired November 12th as part of Remembrance programming.
The Spring Tour started last week with a performance at The Chestnut Inn, Worcester on Tuesday 3rd April.
© 2018 – Alarum Theatre
I knew the basic content of the show and have been aware of Heather’s work and some of the poetry. I purposefully didn’t look into the Double Bill and had no idea what to expect from Kate Saffin (other than half the show).
Kate Saffin took care of the first part of the evening with her theatrical piece about the Idle Women, great story and wonderful portrayal of multiple characters (as a former actress I know how challenging this can be). The story she told was moving and educational. Kate uses simple dramatic devices masterfully in her one woman show.
Kate is a Boater, writer, storyteller and actor, Kate Saffin has lived on a narrowboat and told stories of the waterways as solo plays since 1999. She trained as a writer for stage and broadcast media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (MFA). © 2017 – Alarum Theatre
I regret not speaking to Kate after the show, (I was so excited to see Heather), Kate’s performance was moving. ‘Isobel’s War’ was full of character and story, told in a way with simple props and devices that transported us back in time.
Heather Wastie gave us the second half of the show. ‘Idle Women’, a performance filled with facts and passion. It was great to watch her perform again. She gave us both songs and poetry and new material to the show.
Heather was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16 and is well known for her interpretations of oral history. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs which she now performs. This work was published in November 2015 by Black Pear Press under the title Weaving Yarns. In 2017 she was commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to compose a children’s song cycle, ‘Loom in the Loft’, to celebrate the restoration of the Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster.
In 2017 she was commissioned to write and perform poems for the popular Nationwide Building Society ad campaign, Voices Nationwide. She has also worked as poet and actor for National Trust property Croome Court in Worcestershire. © 2017 – Alarum Theatre
Heather was also a Guest Poet for INKSPILL (AWF’s Online Writing Retreat) in October 2014.
It was a very factual show both in terms of the waterways and the wartime volunteers.
© 2017 – Alarum Theatre
I loved discovering how the term ‘Idle Women’ came to be and to hear talk of the Tardebigge Canal (where we took our own poetry adventure on board a narrowboat back in the summer of 2016 – and there were many locks). I have my tiller girl badge to prove it.
This show is a must for Water Dwellers but is just as fun for Land Lovers. I think it appeals to both communities, anyone interested in history, waterways or just looking for a good night out! It is great to have many tour venues on the canal itself. This makes the interval exceptionally special – when you step out and see part of the world the show is all about.
It was quality storytelling and an entertaining, fun evening.
© 2017 – Alarum Theatre
If you are local enough, I urge you to catch Idle Women. Here is the Tour Schedule https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/2018-tour/2018-tour-dates/ you will not be disappointed!
The Summer Tour will see them travel further North on the Leeds & Liverpool Waterways.
Guest Writer William Gallagher tells us
With Guest Writer Heather Wastie
With Guest Writer Charlie Jordan
includes video – Nina Lewis
I had the great pleasure of FINALLY seeing Inua Ellams perform in Birmingham this Spring, he also did a blinding set at the Swindon Poetry Festival this Autumn.
This is a poetry film, featured as part of 2015 INKSPILL writing retreat.
Nigerian-born Inua Ellams, a London-based writer, created the story “Dolphins” as part of “The Refugee Tales”, works about the journeys of refugees and migrants seeking safety in Britain. Ellams worked with children who have made treacherous journeys across desert and sea, and wrote the stories based on their experiences. © Film for Action
Guest Poet Interview with Daniel Sluman on his 2nd collection
Come back to the Library tomorrow where we will have more links for you from INKSPILL 2015 & 2016.
March felt like a funny old month. The start of the month was rocky, the usual dips and peaks were replaced with a fairly big dip, which fortunately finished mid-March, the end of the month was full of highs and gathered rollercoaster speed, positively hyperactive.
I missed out on many events I wanted to attend due to lack of time, transport and energy. My writing schedule was full and I continued to work on organising festival events as well as time spent making exciting applications. Keeping my fingers crossed.
In addition to this – we have AN EMPTY ROOM, I managed (finally) to sort the smallest bedroom which is our first redecoration project in the house Mr G and I moved into the year I returned to writing (2013). If I wasn’t writing, I kid myself that we would have finished the entire house by now. But the thing I look forward to the most is nesting new writing spaces! The room has now been empty and awaiting action for three weeks, but in that time Mr G has transformed the front garden (much to the pleasure of the neighbours) and bought a sander in preparation for the next epic challenge- actually doing the room!
Sam Smith – Reviews in The Journal. http://thesamsmith.webs.com/
It was the final Permission to Speak on the 2nd, headlined by Pete the Temp (who I first saw at Verve).
Pete the Temp is a poet, educator and musician. His work has been featured on BBC radio and TV and in 2009 he became the National Poetry Slam Champion. Pete has toured theatres across England with his one man show ‘Pete (the Temp) vs Climate Change’. In 2015 he completed the MA Writer / Teacher Programme at Goldsmiths University. This led him to become one of the world’s first full-time spoken word educators to be embedded in a secondary school. He later went on to pilot the same work in a primary school. He was subsequently invited to do a TED Talk on the subject ‘Why Every School Should Have a Spoken Word Educator’. Pete has toured all over Europe with his art and now works as a poet and street performer. Rob Francis © 2017
We are all gutted that this event (of 2 years) has come to an end. The venue – which is one of the most amazing spaces I have had the pleasure to perform in, is closing. Rob Francis is extremely busy with writing and lecturing, maybe these things are sent by the universe as the timing seems right to free Rob up for other opportunities. He also got engaged recently, so I suspect there will be a busy non-poetry element going on in his life soon too. Fortunately I was tipped off just before the night kicked off, otherwise I would have been in floods when Rob announced it to the packed out room.
As always, it was a good night with an eclectic mix of open mics, poems, stories and extracts. It was fantastic to watch Pete in action again and I enjoyed his set immensely. Several lines have become ear-worms over the past month. I had an interesting conversation with him afterwards about poetry. You cannot help but be swept away on his passion-wave of enthusiasm.
Sadly I missed out on watching him perform again at the Artrix this week as I had a gig in Manchester the next day, work and lots of submission deadlines. If you get a chance to see him, you should grasp it for sure! ‘Keep it Lit!’
People who have read this collection rave about it – it is on my list to buy.
I spent the majority of writing time organising, I am currently organising three events for festivals which is keeping me busy.
I also had an opportunity to create work for Mental Health Awareness Week (May). Sarah Leavesley has, for several years posted poetry related to Mental Health during this week. ‘The Magnetic Diaries’ deals with these issues and last year you may remember I attended a workshop at the MAC which was part of the Magnetic Diaries Tour. Sarah mentioned back then that we could share our workshop poetry. As with lots of things at the moment it fell into the ‘to do’ pile. My main focus currently is the house, promoting Fragile Houses and organising festival events. Anyway, long story short, I did eventually manage to create a new poem from the workshop and another written especially for the blog project. More on this in May.
I had a request for a poem and spent the weekend working on editing and writing. I have found this month that I am very last minute. I discovered a submission opportunity the day before deadline (always a challenge) and more recently discovered an entire festival I had missed, a great shame as there was a workshop I would have loved to have attended.
The week I forgot to live… so many events missed. I felt the dip this week – my body/mind reacts by sleeping. I spent my writing time beavering away at schedules, organising festival events and generally needed sleep before bedtime. I did wish to be a busy poet and I guess I didn’t consider that I would need to be grown-up with scheduling or with reacting to the events I miss. Be careful what you wish for!
I missed Stirchley Speaks, Headlined by Tom McCann, Steve Pottinger was performing in Ludlow at The Poetry Lounge, I missed Howl – there was a new event in Cannock – Speaking Out Midlands, where all performers were open mic, allocated 10 minute slots. Charlotte had invited me some months ago and then word was spread on social media and it attracted a great crowd and I have read some rave reviews.
It clashed with SpeakEasy and when I discovered Adrian Mealing (who I have not seen for years) was headlining, I knew that I was going to save the car some miles. I do not regret this decision, SpeakEasy was a good night and it was lovely chatting and catching up with Adrian. Confab Cabaret with John Hegley (the last time I saw Adrian).
Suffering the dip, being in a familiar environment with people I know was preferable. I was revitalised by the end of the evening. There were lots of new faces and audience, incredibly positive for the LitFest team. Suz performed the Squid Ballroom, part of her Laureate event – more on this next month, I am one of the invited performers.
I spent Friday tying up loose ends and trying to write. I sent my poems to Rick Saunders the brainchild behind Rob’s PTS thank you gift. We (the collective at PTS) have sent writing to Rick who has printed a pamphlet (more like a book at 80 odd pages) to present to Rob on the final night – Permission to Shut Up – at the end of March. I sent my poem about the stage ‘The Secret of Scary Canary’s Stage’ and one I wrote especially for Rob all about what he has achieved with PTS and what it means to the rest of us, originally titled ‘Permission to Speak’. He should be extremely proud of his achievements and hopefully this isn’t the last we have heard from him.
I spent an entire evening planning a non-fiction session for my Spark Young Writers group (Writing West Midlands). Inspired by the Royal Society of Photographers exhibition I walked around last month I decided to do Science Journalism. The group thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I am still wiping sweat from my brow – I was worried in case any of them chose to write about the bee’s anus. Which was an amazing piece of photography and incredibly fascinating to look at. I was amazed by the talented articles that came from this session. Some great writing.
It was also the DeMontfort Book Fair in Leicester – States of Independence, not something they hosted when I lived there for 5 years. Leicester is where I broke my performance poetry seal and will always have a little bit of a special place in my heart. Sarah Leavesley was there with her V. Press bookshop, she also launched her new book – a novella published by Mantle Lane Press.
http://www.mantlelanepress.co.uk/product/kaleidoscope available to buy for just £4.00
It always hurts to miss out on events, I dreamed of a busy writing life and I have one, but it means that sometimes I no longer have the freedom to march across the country to be a part of special evenings. There are also the inevitable date clashes where big decisions are made. Never have cloning and teleportation been so necessary in my life!
On Sunday I missed one of the best opportunities since the Verve Festival. Bang Said the Gun – which I have known about since 2014 and watched countless clips of online is touring and they kicked off in Stafford – relatively close (would be closer if the M6 ever flowed properly) with Jo Bell and Jonny Fluffypunk (two of my old time/all time favs) and I missed it! It was Sunday night, Week 3 and 4 are full in my diary, energy was low, as were funds and Mr G and I need to spend more time together and my car is the equivalent of an old broken pull along toy with some bits missing and broken/re-knotted string! I do not trust it on terribly long journeys or car park motorways where you hear it over heat within the first crawling 100 yards.
I missed an amazing night and an opportunity to see friends from that neck of the woods too. Gutted. I did go to check out tickets and look at the rest of the tour and this was the nearest and also had the featured artists I wanted to see. I would say there will be other times, but with something like this – there won’t be. Gutted with a capital G.
Canterbury never had anything like this when I lived there either!
I knew I would miss License to Rhyme at the Artrix, featuring Pete the Temp. I had to work and manage Manchester the following evening and I spent part of Monday choosing and rehearsing/timing my set. I also spent time with family, which I hadn’t planned much beforehand and this left me hours behind on writing time. Not that it would be any other way. Family comes first. It just meant the will I /won’t I… became a definite No I won’t!
Again I heard good things about the evening and am particularly disappointed that I missed Fergus McGonigal and Lorna Meehan performing.
I did receive some exciting emails which made a night in with my inbox particularly worthwhile. And have since taken action on these – fingers crossed once again!
On Tuesday I headlined alongside Becky Cheeriman and Mark Pajak in Manchester at Sarah L. Dixon’s Quiet, Quiet Loud. I have known about this booking at Quiet, Quiet Loud for months and the butterflies went tribal. Originally looking to headline in April or May, the gig was brought forward as Sarah L Dixon is on the move and this was to be her final event at The Llyod’s.
Rick Saunders had signed up for the open mic and kindly offered to chauffeur up the M6. Unfortunately, days before his car broke down and so we were left with some last minute arrangements. In the end we hired a car (scared that mine wouldn’t make a 200 mile round trip in a night). The journey there was fine, even passing a Willis milk tanker – Rick’s stage name is Willis the Poet… we passed the time chatting about the spoken word scene and stopping just once for the most expensive bottle of service station water – I think it was made from diamonds or something! The journey back was horrendous, closed motorways, detours and a SATNAV that was convinced the motorway junction was still open.
The event itself was worth every mile of motorway network and it was a pleasure to headline at the final Quiet, Quiet Loud. You can read my full review here and Rick managed to post his the very next day. https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/quietly-does-it/
Huge thanks again to Rick for the lift.
Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/manchester-quiet-quiet-loud-headline/
I spent Wednesday morning before work recovering, I found out about the Science and Arts Festival hosted by Birmingham University and a creative writing workshop that I would have loved to attend, although it would have been a lot before work to manage. I have pencilled it in for next year as there were lots of interesting events.
They made me want to dance again, to create dance poetry and to lose myself in costume and movement. The fact that my body could barely manage to sit through a 2 hour production tells me otherwise, but my soul is still very much committed!
I spent the weekend on things other than writing and chiselled out some time at the end of Sunday to write applications and work on my writing action plan. There are some intended submissions to create before the end of the month and three sets to plan for EarthHour (25th March), HerStory (31st March) and Poetry Ballroom (2nd April).
The week started with a flurry of activity organising poetry events and writing. February was a busy month for making applications and devising projects and this month sees more energy focused on these and some fruition.
I spent the first part of the week in rest (working, sleeping, living) and saving energy for a series of 3 days of poeting. Which was easy as only one of them involved performing. Although I left it somewhat late to arrange a set and fine tune the details.
I also agreed to hiding some GOLDEN TICKETS for Birmingham Literature Festival. It is the 20th Anniversary this year and the team have organised a Spring Festival to celebrate. They have sent out Golden Tickets to be found in local bookshops, Art cafes and libraries. I have taken two under my wing and let them fly (and hide).
The lucky finder wins a free ticket (worth at least £10) to an event of their choice. I want to find one of these – but it may cost more petrol money than buying a ticket. Fun idea. Great one. One I may steal in the future! First time I have ever felt like Willy Wonka… it was a good feeling.
On Thursday I saw Hollie McNish, I love Hollie… it has been a while since I saw her perform and part of me knew that this book would be difficult for me for personal reasons, this is why I have not yet bought a copy – but watching her breathing magic into the tale and hearing such personal disclosure and truth was wonderful. The event had been organised at The Hive (Library) in partnership with Poetry On Loan – well done to Brenda Read-Brown!
I had been to the basement space once with my writing group and was amazed to find the event not in the studio – that was until I saw the size of the audience! Holly thought, it being a library gig in a small city there may be about 20 people! Multiply that by 10! A smashing night.
Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/hollie-mcnish-nobody-told-me/
My review of the Verve Poetry Festival went live on Sabotage Reviews. http://sabotagereviews.com/
Stanza happened on Friday – for the first time in months I thoroughly enjoyed it – and in a strange way all of our poems were love poems (but not the sort you imagine).
Over the weekend I celebrated Earth Hour and Mother’s Day. Earth Hour was amazing, I went to the event organised by Worcester LitFest at Café Bliss. You can read the full review here
I spent the majority of my spare time writing and editing and planning how an earth I was going to manage this final week of performances and deadlines. The solution was an A4 checklist that I had very little leeway on.
I also had another poem published ‘Rag Tree’ which will be in the Beltane anthology by Three Drops. More news about festival events I am organising/performing in and events that I am just performing in. Future workshops to book and lots of potential festival tickets to be bought. I wrote new work and edited older poems.
Tuesday evening saw the final PTS – Permission to Speak become Permission to Shut Up – as it was a work night I was worried I may not last until the end, but scribbled a new poem especially for the last event (for now), the night before and got a short set ready. I was due to headline in May, potentially Rob may have a new venue by then, but I get the feeling that he needs/wants a mini-break and this would be the time to take it.
It was a great night, all in all and I will mark the occasion with a blog post as soon as I get some spare time. I took lots of pictures and stayed until the end to see Rick present Rob with his pamphlet.
42 in Worcester celebrated it’s 6th birthday and I took a newly scribed poem to celebrate. Rick Saunders headlined Spoken Trend on the same night, which I had to miss. Please someone clone me! Event clashes… every poet’s nemesis! 42 was fun and again, I will mark the occasion with a full blogpost when I have a little time. Polly made an amazing Black Forest Gateaux cake! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. All the performances were bang on and the celebratory air was sweet.
LINKS TO FOLLOW.
With two days left of March and Easter around the corner, you may think that was it… no, I am playing the game – How much can you pack into 48hours?
Thursday I gave myself a night off from performing/events – missing out on Caffe Grande Slam in Dudley again, I will get there. I spent the evening editing a new poem (my 3rd this week) and submitting work.
I also received an exciting email from my publisher. Another review of Fragile Houses, this time on Sabotage Reviews. How wonderful to start and end the month with reviews. You can read Rachel Stirling’s incredibly intricate review here.
I discovered Claire Walker and Holly Magill have embarked on editing a new Magazine ‘Atrium’, they have both edited for Kate Garrett at Three Drops recently and this new opportunity morphed from that experience. More on Atrium soon.
I saw Heather Wastie’s Nationwide advert – which was as equally exciting as watching Jo Bell’s and what made it special was seeing it first thing before work and in the final adverts before bed. Don’t ask me how I have time to watch TV and complete my mammoth writing tasks!
Holly McNish won the Ted Hughes award (one of the judges this year was Jo Bell – busy as always). Amazing news & recognition!
I received news of another successful Festival bid for this summer. More on this soon.
I completed the month with a Woo Feminista event HerStory at Café Bliss. I will blog and link it up here as soon as I can.
And now I am ready for NaPoWriMo, Poetry Ballroom and a rather-already-regrettable booking of an almost full week of work! I booked Monday off as I have 3 consecutive events this weekend and will be typing until my fingers go numb finishing my writing tasks over the next 24 hours!
I hope you all had a good month too. Leave me some of your highlights in the comments, it would be great to hear from you.
Keep Writing x
I am excited whenever new festivals pop up, especially when they are not too far from home. Due to busy plans and the Verve Festival in a few weeks, I am not able to go to all the events I would like to this weekend. If I had a magic wand and teleporting superpowers I would also go to: AFTERNOON TEA – WITH WIN SAHA & BERT FLITCROFT, ARUN KAPUR + ABDA KHAN + ROMALYN ANTE + SABBI KAUR & MARTIN SHONE, BLACK COUNTRY VOICES – Dave Reeves & The Nailmakers’ Daughters, BONES PRESENTS……. A LIL SOMETHING DIFFERENT, ROY MCFARLANE and THE LIFE & TIMES OF THE TAT MAN by DAVID CALCUTT and possibly more.
Tonight was brilliant, it was great to be part of an event on the opening day of the festival (27-29th). The Quiet Compere – conceived and hosted by Sarah Dixon.
THE QUIET COMPERE –
It was such an enjoyable night. The room in the gallery was very impressive. I really want to go back to the Gallery to just take a look at all the work on display. We had to walk through the Art and Writing space, I took a quick look at the exhibition during the interval.
It was great that an audience showed up and there weren’t too many empty chairs. During the first half the mics were set up quite a distance from the audience, this was changed by request during the interval. I just presumed cable length shackled us to the back of the room. It has to be the best backdrop ever though!
It was such a fantastic night and lovely to hear comments about my set, which went down well… despite last minute nerves of ‘I have chosen all the wrong poems!’. The 10 minutes flew by and I really enjoyed performing. I was very nervous before, but think I covered those nerves well once I had the mic in front of me.
I really appreciate having the opportunity to perform in the Quiet Compere again, we did one in Worcester in 2015. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/quiet-compere-tour-2015-stop-6-worcester/
All photography © 2017 Sarah Dixon
Sarah Dixon, Poet, Quiet Compere, Amazing Lady! I had the privilege of reading the workings of her new pamphlet that she shared poems from this evening. It was the first time I had heard her read them though, always adds to the power.
Polly Stretton kicked off the evening (Sarah always goes first, knowing how we all hate that opening slot) the first of ten poets – sharing fairy poetry (she has many) and once again I had the inside track on part of her set as she tested it out at 42 this week. She opened her set with a poem about Evelyn Glennie and a tambourine. Fine set.
Next came Holly Magill. I love Holly’s poems (and wardrobe). It was a great set and good to hear the audience reaction from those who had not heard her before and didn’t know what to expect. As always the serious mixed with a good measure of fun.
Then it was my turn Nina Lewis.
I thought long and hard about which poems to read. For a week I carried my notebook and pamphlet in my work bag. I had such a shocking week at work that both stayed in my bag as I didn’t have a moment to ponder through them.
Then I had my Burns set to be ready for the 25th. Fortunately I chiselled out some time on Friday to get myself ready. We were performing in the Art Gallery so I wanted to use some of my artefact/art inspired poetry. There was also a table filled with goodies (all of our books and wares) so performing from Fragile Houses also seemed like a good idea.
I shared the runner up poem from Worcester Porcelain Museum Competition ‘The Unfading Cornflower’, then my poem for Marina Abramovic ‘Unfolding’, then one of the Arthur Rackham inspired poems ‘Buckled Air’ before moving onto the pamphlet and ‘Fabricious Avenue’ (my only 52 poem on colour), Fortori and Your Gift to finish the set with a poem about my parents.
Next came Leanne Bridgewater who threw fruit into the mix (literally)! I was looking forward to watching Leanne’s set as it has been a long while since I have seen her performing her own work. She educated us all about Veganuary. Veganuary aims to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January. She handed out fruit in support of this gesture. Then she read from her book, Confessions of a Cyclist, which has such playful content inside.
To complete the five in the first half was Tom McColl.
Tom stepped in to fill Bobby Parker’s spot. Tom is based in London and was one of the new to me poets. A good mix of serious and amusing. I really enjoyed the humorous material included in his set.
During the interval I was able to catch up with people and whizz around the gallery downstairs. I was really looking forward to the second half.
Which after more from Sarah was started by Heather Wastie.
Now, I have always loved watching Heather, for the past year she has been busy working on Idle Women and also let Mouth & Music go after facilitating the Open Mic night for many years, so with the exception of a performance here and there it has been ages since I have had the pleasure of watching her on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the set and so did everyone else.
Then Gerry Potter, who was the other new to me poet.
Gerry is from Liverpool originally and is a lively spoken word performer. His material took me back to my birthday trip to Liverpool last summer and I started scribbling all sorts of things in my notebook, whilst watching his set (I can write without looking at the page) and my brain can just about listen and write if I don’t focus on the writing. I have not re-read these notes but if they become poems ever, they were inspired by Gerry’s set which encapsulated life, childhood and the city.
Jess Davies followed.
Like Heather, Jess is another poet who hosted an open mic event, so although I saw a lot of her last year I had not heard her poems for a long while. I was delighted to hear new poetry and witness a brilliant performance. I really enjoyed her set.
Kathy Gee was next.
She treated us to poems from her Book of Bones and some from The Suite for the Fallen Soldier, a choral project Phil Mountford was commissioned to create. Kathy wrote the narrative suite. I love Kathy’s poetry too, thought provoking and highly crafted. Words you muse over long after the final line. She bravely risked a newer, political poem too. It was a great set.
And finally to complete the great night of poetry we heard from Steve Pottinger.
Again I have seen Steve perform recently but it has been a long while since I saw him headline at Mouth & Music. It is always great to hear a longer set from performers like Steve. Like listening to a whole album rather than enjoying a few tracks. I thoroughly enjoyed the set and he did a grand job closing the night. Like Kathy, he bravely performed a very freshly penned poem too, less than a day old.
It was a fantastic evening, I am still buzzing from the atmosphere now. It was great to meet new people and see old friends and to experience the incredible Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
© 2016 Artfund.org Artfund
Also incredibly grateful to have shared the journey with Kathy Gee, who saved me from facing the prospect of driving to the city. We spent the first part of the evening enjoying the wonderful interior of the Posada. An incredible Real Ale pub steps away from the gallery. Well worth a visit © 2010 Wikimedia Commons
especially if you like Heritage pubs or real ale!
Congratulations Sarah Dixon on another fine QC Event, I hope you enjoy the rest of the festival and all the city has to offer.
Mouth & Music
My most local venue for a night of spoken word and music, always fun and entertaining, has come to a temporary close.
On the 12th January we all went to the BHG to celebrate 4 years of Mouth & Music with hosts Heather Wastie and Sarah Tamar, it was also a goodbye to the current landlords. Mouth & Music itself is taking a six month break and then Sarah Tamar is hoping to start up again.
Heather Wastie (Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate) hosted the evening which was headlined by Humdrum Express (Ian Passey) and Sarah Tamar.
It was a lively evening of music and poetry celebrating the Boars Head and Mouth & Music.
Here are some photos taken by Peter Williams
Nina Lewis & an absent Tim Scarborough
Bert Flitcroft – Current Staffordshire Poet Laureate
Headliners ~ Ian Passey &
© Peter Williams 2016
As a tribute to the years of Mouth & Music (my first visit came at the end of 2014) I have gathered together my favourite bits. From Collaboration to Clog Dancing – thank you for the poetry, song & music!
Humdrum Express headlined alongside Tim Cranmore (who was then Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate 2013)
Read all about it here MM 23
Sarah Tamar as Mrs Claus Christmas Laureates Present and Future
The amazing ‘Body Hair’ themed Mouth and Music and the Moustache poem was born, alongside a Hairy Toe poem.
After this Tim and I don’t perform together until 2015 and although we are both open to collaboration, haven’t managed anything since. One day…
Maggie Doyle, Nina Lewis, Heather Wastie & Dave Reeves
National Poetry Day is a great day for poets. There are always plenty of things to get involved with. Every year I get ‘Christmas excitement’ when I find out all the wonderful things that people have been up to and social media is flooded with poets sharing their events, stories and of course, these wonderful posters.
This year my preparation for NPD started in the summer when Heather Wastie, Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate approached Suz Winspear and myself (as runners up of the PL competition) to work on a special commission. Part of Heather’s remit for winning PL was to organise a NPD event and she did a wonderful job, it was a great evening of celebration and poetry.
Suz and I met Heather at the Carpet Museum in Kidderminster (where Heather had been a Poet in Residence) and she talked us through the vision for ‘Light & Shade’. We had an opportunity for research (I had already visited the museum on August 15th to research for the NPD WLF (Worcester LitFest) competition, which was also organised by Heather as part of the NPD event.
Then Suz and I went away with our remits and worked on crafting a poem each. The next rehearsal we discussed how to blend these into a performance. Heather had organised readings before and after this element and was clear she wanted it to be theatrical/dramatic, a little different – as it was billed as ‘a touch of theatre’. We all worked well together and soon crafted a performance, dividing the poems as you would a script and working on the character of the piece.
On NPD I was forced to do the day job and infiltrated as much poetry as possible and Heather herself was drastically busy promoting poetry in person and on the radio, whizzing from one event to another. So there was a frazzled energy about us to begin with. The staff had set the venue up and were organised and ‘swanlike’ – they had had a busy day ‘one of those days’ as well, you would never have guessed. They busily got our event ready as well as hosting a regular group downstairs.
Suz and I rehearsed and took some last minute directorial advice from Heather and then drooled over the refreshment buffet and got ready.
Costume wise we had decided to represent Light (morning) and Dark (shade/night) by wearing white and black, this may not have been picked up by the audience, it was a good idea as it made us feel a little in character. Especially as Suz is famous for her wonderfully high, wedged, gothic black boots and had the most pretty kitten heels on. (This is why Liam took a photo of her feet).
Suz Winspear & Nina Lewis Post Performance ‘A little touch of theatre’
The museum took photographs throughout the night and I hope to be able to share some in the future.
Then came the NPD competition poets, Charley Barnes, who won the people’s vote online from the four shortlisted poems, mine was also shortlisted. Her prize was a poetry book, Todd Swift (Eyewear Publishing) generously provided books for the winners.
Then the finalists Brian Comber, Jenny Shaw & Claire Walker performed their NPD poems, which were a delight to hear.
Next the audience made their way upstairs to an area not usually open to the public where you can look down on the looms and machines.
Then it was our turn to perform Reading Threads and Carpet Days and Nights. The audience enjoyed the experience of our performance and we hope to repeat it again next year at one of Heather’s events. It seemed a shame to do all that work for just one performance and other people want to see it – so hopefully those busy poets who were elsewhere on NPD will get a chance to see it in 2016.
After the interval (in which many great conversations were had, but no Lemon slices were left) we returned back downstairs to the gift shop to hear the winner of the competition announced and Maggie Doyle (Poet Laureate Emeritus) and Chloe Clarke (Young Poet Laureate) performed sets, the night was drawn to a close by more poems from Heather.
The winner of the NPD Competition was Claire Walker, who won free entry for a YEAR to SpeakEasy & Mouth & Music, a poetry book and I believe free entry to 2016/17 Poet Laureate competition, where she will be a firm favourite.
Brian and Jenny also won books thanks to Todd Swift, Eyewear Publishing.
PHOTO CREDIT© Sarah Gillam 2015, Museum of Carpet
It was a wonderful evening and I was filled with Poetry happiness.
I love celebrating National Poetry Day and always enjoy reading how other people have spent theirs. Today is the first day of Birmingham Literature Festival, I booked my tickets when they were released in the summer, which means as I have already paid, it feels free.
Tonight I will be at Kidderminster Carpet Museum to celebrate NPD with Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate), Suz Winspear, Chloe Clarke (Young Poet Laureate) and Maggie Doyle (Poet Laureate Emeritus) as well as the poetry competition finalists;
Winner competition shortlist public vote
Charley Barnes – Greener On The Other Square
Competition finalists in alphabetical order
Brian Comber – Sally-my-handsome
Jenny Shaw – The Colour Of The Wind
Claire Walker – Learning To Make A Rag Rug
It is going to be a great night of poetry.
I also LOVE this posters for NPD 2015 – Save and share
ENJOY and don’t forget to tell us how you are spending yours.
I am currently working against end of month deadlines for a few projects as well as working the proper job to make up for lack of summer funds. I am really too busy to be blogging and in three days time will be reviewing September anyway… but I also believe my poeting needs a mention, after all that is why this blog was created and some of you are following the journey.
Business Meetings, Plans & Poetry On Loan Training
This month I have taken on board training – which is something I haven’t done for a while. I had a great business meeting, which was a spin off from the laureateship competition exposure and this guided me through the end of year ideals well. Including some possible job applications, which have now been openly shared across social media increasing my known competition, which is terrifying but hasn’t put me off going for it anyway. This meeting helped me come home and set some clear goals for myself rather than just wavering between writing the manuscript, performing poems and getting involved in projects (like Caldmore Gardens with David Calcutt’s residency, NPD with Heather Wastie, organising the next INKSPILL – AWF’s very own FREE online writing retreat, supporting and promoting Arts All Over the Place Festival in support of Mental Health).
I did ‘Poetry on Loan’ training with Brenda Read-Brown and Jon Seagrave (Jonny Fluffypunk). It was a great session with librarians and poets sharing experiences and evaluating from our roles. I hope one day soon I will be able to provide the service of Poet on Loan. Ready now. Sadly I missed this year’s competition, remembering the deadline as the end of the month rather than the beginning!
I have been rehearsing for Caldmore Carnival (26th)
and NPD Light & Shade (on National Poetry Day – 8th October). Caldmore was brilliant, a group from the Calcutt/Caldmore workshops sent poems which David then edited into a CHORAL poem to be performed by Andy Summers, Jimm Rennie, Janet Jenkins and myself, unfortunately after making the rehearsal Jimmie wasn’t well enough to perform this past Saturday and David took his place.
LIGHT and shade
Suz Winspear and I met with Heather Wastie for our first ‘Light and Shade’ rehearsal and ideas flowed extremely well. The whole spectacle is now blocked and there will just need to be a few run throughs before the night. We have sorted costume and now all we have to do is get to know the final performance draft of our poems, practise and enjoy! It is a great collaboration to be part of.
Caldmore Carnival – Choral Poetry Performance
It was a pleasure to see the garden being used in full summer (September) glory and I am glad we performed before they had all the talented dance and music groups on, the talent of local young people.
Carnival Photography Nina Lewis © 2015
We had a great weather day too!
Swingerella – Wrecking Ball Tour – Birmingham
I really feel this show deserves a blog post of its own. I may have to do a feature of some sort as Andrea Smith/Shorrick is taking the world by storm as Swingerella and her show was amazingly powerful with messages that need to be exposed. I booked my tickets to see her show at the Mockingbird Theatre, Custard Factory, pre-Edinburgh – Swing did the fringe and went down a storm there and then came back to perform a swansong on home soil.
When I have some more time next month, I will blog about her fabulous journey and the show, which has reached the end of its run. She may even give us a sneak preview of her next venture.
Poetry Bites with Jacqui Rowe, Featuring Liz Berry & Jane Commane
It was a pleasure to be at this event, not only to watch the headliners Liz Berry and Jane Commane but also for so many reasons.
It has been ages since I have been able to get to Poetry Bites, there were so many poets I hadn’t seen for a while who also managed to attend and it was great catching up. I got to sit and chat with Jonathan Davidson and Jane Commane AND some poetry friends from elsewhere came to check it out and perform. I think I may have converted several new fans.
It was fantastic to hear Jane Commane’s poetry. She is a well established editor (Nine Arches Press) and so often my involvement with Jane (since 2013) has been when she is wearing her editing shoes. To hear her poetry was a delight.
Liz Berry, well like John Hegley, she is back in my world again, so soon. The upside of this is I remembered to take my book to be signed and as it hasn’t been that long since her KAF appearance, she remembered our conversation about the book.
Poetry Bites is un-mic-ed (without a mic) and Liz is softly spoken. It was a magical combination listening really hard and hanging onto the edge of the last sounds in words.
In Other Poeting News
I was asked to guest poet next month at an event in Cheltenham and started working on some new submissions.
Last month I was booked for the next AAOTP Arts All Over the Place Fundraiser and spent a morning writing poetry about Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll. Due to unforeseen circumstances I wasn’t able to attend this event until it was nearly over, I did manage to perform and the poems went down well and are also be suitable for the Festival display.
I booked tickets for Swindon Poetry Festival and am delighted to be one of ten readers at;
Lunch with a celebration of ’52’ group and Anthology Fri 12:30 – 2 2/10/15 – Lower Shaw Farm: Come along and enjoy lunch at Lower Shaw Farm, after which we will have readings from the 52 group brought together last year by Jo Bell. This will be a celebration of this wonderful project. There will be readings from the book and from 52ers present.
Lunch with a celebration of ’52’ group and Anthology is happening this Friday 2nd October. So I am now rehearsing National Poetry Day Poetry, a headline set and poetry for 52, hard because we will be reading poems on behalf
of people who cannot be there and we all read poetry differently. Fortunately I have just found communication about organising the reading of other people’s poetry. Some of my original selection have already been chosen. We are reading one poem each from the anthology
and one of our own from the 52 Project. I can’t wait – particularly excited as I missed the Stratford meet earlier this summer.
Quite unbelievably it is the 50th 42 event this week – looking forward to a celebration and performance this Wednesday. Writing poetry for it over the next 48 hours, poetry that I am hoping will also work for a submission this month.
I have lots of great things to look forward to next month and then I think I will rest back a bit more and see the end of the year off behind a desk (that, I would like to believe… we will see)!