Tag Archives: Heather Wastie

National Poetry Day Light & Shade Event at Kidderminster Carpet Museum

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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.

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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.

Nina Lewis © 2015

Nina Lewis © 2015

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.

Heather was so happy with it that she decided we wouldn’t need another run through until the 8th October. light shade NPD

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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.

NPD LIVE

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).

Photos by Liam Cortintias suz shoes

npd lightshade

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.

Heather shared some of her poems from her new book, ‘Weaving Yarns’ – launching in November published by Black Pear Press. black pear

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

charley barnes gift shopsuz and me me and suz

PHOTO CREDIT© Sarah Gillam 2015, Museum of Carpet

It was a wonderful evening and I was filled with Poetry happiness.

Well done to Heather! DSC06830

RELATED LINKS

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/13797213.Two_nights_of_poetry_will_celebrate_National_Poetry_Day/

http://worcslitfest.co.uk/worcestershire-poet-laureate/heathers-wpl-blog-october-2015/

Happy National Poetry Day!

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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.

BLFest

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.

light shade NPD

I also LOVE this posters for NPD 2015 – Save and share

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ENJOY and don’t forget to tell us how you are spending yours.

NPD LIVE

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Poeting, Training & Performing – September

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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!

 

Rehearsals

I have been rehearsing for Caldmore Carnival (26th)

Janet Jenkins © 2015

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 

light shade NPD

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 caldmore 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.

caldmore 3 caldmore2

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.

Jimmy Riddle © 2015

Jimmy Riddle © 2015

 

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.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/kaf-liz-berry-and-blair-dunlop-13th-august/

 

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.

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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

Hilary Robinson © 2015

Hilary Robinson © 2015 52 Flash Bomb Poetry outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace 2014

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

52 the book

and one of our own from the 52 Project. I can’t wait – particularly excited as I missed the Stratford meet earlier this summer.

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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.

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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)!

 

 

Poetry Events – September Spoken Word @ The Ort, Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy

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As I am so far behind with the blog, with over 3 weeks worth of activities to post about I have decided to bulk post about poetry events this month.

Spoken Word at The Ort with Debbie Aldous – Birmingham 4th

I was delighted to make it back to this event as the last few have clashed with other things. There was a pop up return of Naked Lungs in the city the same evening over in Digbeth and my original plan was to try to get to both. The days of dual gigs are behind me I think, especially at the end of a busy week. I was still recovering from John Hegley and my night in Shropshire.

It was a great evening packed with fabulous performances and new audience and open mic-ers too! Thoroughly enjoyed sharing poetry.

 

Mouth & Music – Heart, with Heather Wastie – Kidderminster 8th

Headlining this month were MM sepSarah James & Angela Topping, reading from their pamphlet Hearth and Elena Thomas with Dan Whitehouse.

MM elena dan

It was a lovely evening of words and music, some great open mic-ers, I especially enjoyed Jan performing with her husband, they were the opening act and got the night off to a great start. mm jan

I usually find that writing to theme takes place a few days before the event, this month though because of the KAF special – Slightly Circus M & M event there were only a few weeks between the events. This was fine as with a theme like ‘Heart’ I was able to find an abundant amount of poems I had already written. The tough part was choosing which made the cut for my set.

I am glad that Sarah and Angela were mindful that a small percentage of the audience had seen them in Worcester and they chose different poems to read. It was a smashing performance.

MM Angela and Sarah

Here’s what Heather Wastie had to say about the event;

September’s Mouth and Music was as pleasing to organise is it always is. Towards the end of the evening, Dave Sutherland sang a song he had composed using lyrics I wrote after hearing Elena Thomas (one of our features) sing her own songs at the launch of her art exhibition. Sorry for the slightly convoluted sentence but “Carrying the evening home”, the title of the song, refers to what we take away in our heads, and bodies, after an event. Last night, not only did I take away Elena’s beautiful songs and Dan Whitehouse’s gently intricate guitar accompaniment; I also took away the fact that someone from the pub, who I suspect wouldn’t normally go to an event like ours, came in and listened to Elena because she found it provocative that Elena was singing about “the life of a middle-aged woman”. I love Sarah James and Angela Topping’s pamphlet of poetry duets, Hearth, and their reading stirred my own memories of home and family.

The main thing I took away was a feeling of connectedness. I was delighted to see a harmonium on the stage when Jan, a regular and popular performer, was joined by her husband to enhance her poems with musical backing. I enjoyed being teased by Mike Alma’s poem in response to mine about the gherkin which I wrote after seeing one on Angela Topping’s plate! In complete contrast, Mouth and Music’s own Sarah Tamar made a powerful connection with the plight of refugees and Tim Cranmore covered both ends of the … er … spectrum with 2 poems which were uncomfortable to hear, for different reasons: “Inappropriate physical contact” was very thought-provoking, and his final poem ….. ask someone who was there if you want to know.

So many connections were made last night, thanks to featured artists, open mic performers, audience and the lovely staff at the Boars Head. Elena commented on Facebook today, “It’s a special place, Mouth and Music”. I take that as a huge compliment and look forward to seeing some of you on 13th October for some new connections!

Heather Wastie

MM PeteMM Sarah Tamar

Next month Birmingham Poet Leon Priestnall takes centre stage, this month he headlined Hit The Ode and stormed it!

mmoct The month after Swingerella takes the Headline spot.

Photographs Peter Williams © 2015

 

Speakeasy, with Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal – Worcester 10th

I have not been able to go to SpeakEasy since the Lit Fest and I was delighted to be back and to be able to take a 6 minute slot too. It was great performing poetry back in the glorious comfort of the Rectifying House. Despite not winning the raffle, I appreciated the new lamp, allowing more light to the page and it was great seeing it busy and catching up with poets I hadn’t seen for ages.

Ruth Stacey was headlining, reading from her latest book, ‘Queen, Jewel, Mistress’. I love the passion she has for this historical collection and that love came across in her set, full of enthusiasm and feeling. A very strong performance indeed. queen book

speakeasy sepIt was a superb evening of poetry and pleasure. FUN!

RELATED LINKS:

http://worcesterspeakeasy.weebly.com/thursday-10th-september.html

 

 

 

 

Word Up, KAF Mouth & Music & 42

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The end of August saw a flurry of open mic events in Birmingham, Kidderminster and Worcester.

WORD UP 21st August

Word Up, Coffee Lounge, Birmingham: hosted a special I Am Not a Silent Poet event with Reuben Woolley, Marcia Calame and Jess Davies headling. The nature of our poems fitted into serious, often unperformed pieces which tackled big issues, which is the voice of Reuben’s online publication I Am Not A Silent Poet, protest, exposure.

word up

My set consisted of the poems he published earlier this year https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/the-write-year/ and some others that I shy away from performing.

It was a great night hosted by Jasmine Gardosi.

All photographs © Reuben Woolley 2015 – there were more performers who I haven’t shared photos of, apologises to them.

word up andrew fellows reuben Word Up Jodie Rose McLoughlin Reuben word up louise hart reuben word up reuben 2 Word Up Reuben 3 word up bernard reuben word up jess reuben Word Up Marcia Calame reuben word up me reuben word up reuben word up vlad reuben

Word Up 1Reuben After the event we went to the pub for a catch up, which was great because there is never enough time to talk to people at events and Reuben lives in Spain and only comes back to the Midlands for August. He was a national tour this year too, gigs up and down the country. I hope he is now having a rest!

 

MOUTH & MUSIC KAF Special – Slightly Circus 23rd August

MOUTH & MUSIC, Boars Head Gallery, Kidderminster:

KAF 2015

This event was originally in the open air/marquee positioned close to the main stage and the closed street of the festival. However, the weather left us with no option but to retreat into the Boars Head Gallery – which is always a great space to perform in I think. The bands were on downstairs and it felt exciting and intimate. There was optional fancy dress and I am so glad other people entered into the spirit of it.

© PTR Art & Design 2015

© PTR Art & Design 2015

I had researched my clown make up but sadly on the day I was too hot getting ready and the white base wouldn’t cover my skin – in the end this was a godsend really as Maggie Doyle and I ran from the car park to venue – me losing half my wrapping paper patches which were all over my PJs/trousers and most of my make up ran too. So imagine the carnage of a white base face!

© Heather Wastie 2015

© Heather Wastie 2015

The event was as exciting as dressing up. Headlined by Amy Rainbow and her wonderfully talent son, Merlin – who in spite of the small performance area, wowed the audience with his amazing Hula Hoopla skills.

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

Dave Reeves was also headlining and performed a fantastic, enthusiastic set with Heather Wastie.

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

© Peter Williams 2015

It was lovely to perform as part of KAF (Kidderminster Arts Festival) for the 2nd time and good that this event attracted performers who had not previously attended Mouth & Music.

It was a lovely afternoon. Photo credits to Peter Williams, who also performed, treating us to a couple of songs.

MM Holly pwMM mag pwMM me PWMM polly PWMM mike pwMM heather dave PW The event was hosted by the wonderful Ringmaster, Sarah Tamar.

MM Maggie sarah Tamar PW

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/13576317.Kidderminster_s_Mouth_and_Music_goes_circus_crazy_for_one_month_only/

https://mouthandmusic.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/august-review/

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42, Drummonds, Worcester: Hosted by Andrew Owens

I am delighted that 42 is pulling in such a wide audience and huge collective of poets and writers. It is always an exciting event and recently the list of performers has increased dramatically. The theme was ‘Altered States’ which was more open to interpretation than other themes and produced a varied feast of stories, storytelling and poems. It was a fantastic night, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

42

42 was my final event/open mic of the month.

Performers included;

Alison May
Myfanwy Fox
Suz Winspear
Sharon Carr
Andrew Owens
Polly Robinson
Dayna Norton
Nina Lewis
Kevin Brooke
Brian Comber
Timothy Stavert
David Harvard
Kieran Davis
Chardonnay Jade
Dan Hurrell
Liam Cortinias

 

I Never Expected Floor Covering – The World of Carpet NPD

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Some time ago (in secret) I was asked to take part in a performance for National Poetry Day. This year’s Poet Laureate for Worcestershire is Heather Wastie and as runner up poets, she invited both myself and Suz Winspear to take part. WLF say that there are opportunities even if you don’t win and I think this is ours. I was delighted to accept.

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Heather was the Poet in Residence at the Carpet Museum in Kidderminster (traditional trade in the town), an industry, like many that has left empty mills and legacy across the 21st century streets. Heather was also one of the three guest writers for last year’s INKSPILL (our very own online writing retreat).

Light and Shade is taking place in the carpet museum in conjunction with Worcester LITFEST.

light shade NPD

There was a poetry competition (closed 6th September), the 3 winners have been chosen and voting is open for a 4th poet. You can vote for free on a one click POLL here.

http://worcslitfest.co.uk/litfest-npd-competition-update-and-poll/

VOTING closes on the 1st October.

WLF Heather WPL

Saturday August 15th

In preparation for entering this competition there was a special open day at the Carpet Museum, which is an amazing place and so much more than I expected was discovered. It was a relaxing few hours walking around to the gentle hum of poet’s pens scribbling away.

I had a whole notebook of ideas.

Nina Lewis © 2015

Nina Lewis © 2015

Tuesday August 25th

A few weeks later Heather, Suz and I met to explore ideas for the writing and the performance space. I was able to use some of the audio resources to gather story. Heather also shared conversations she had had with weavers as part of her residency, these helped a lot with finding character.

Suz and I went away and wrote our poems.

Nina Lewis © 2015

Nina Lewis © 2015

Monday September 21st

We all met again to rehearse the project, it was great fun and I think it is a unique project to be part of. The event is free, the performance space has limited capacity so you will still need to book tickets.

Nina Lewis © 2015

Nina Lewis © 2015

I love being busy on NPD (National Poetry Day) and I look forward to being involved in the world of carpet for this one.

June – Review of the Month

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June – what a busy month,  brimming with challenges, competition, festivals and longer term projects, as well as taking stock half way through the year.

My MOOC course How Writers Write Poetry with the University of Iowa finished and I enjoyed an incredibly busy month of performing, writing and getting published. The sparkly, golden bits most people get to see instead of being aware of all the hard work and ground work that caused the success in the first place! CN-1780-logo-uofiowa

WEEK 1

  • Voting closed for Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate poems. I reached the final along with 5 other talented poets.
  • I did a workshop with David Calcutt and the Caldmore Garden Poets, they were scheduled to perform a group poem at the carnival day on the 13th, which I couldn’t attend as I was working the final Writing Group for Writing West Midlands. Due to the weather this performance has been rescheduled and I can now take part on the 21st July!
  • A recent poem of mine from the workshop where e.e. cummings was our starting point – ‘Late Spring’ has been published on David’s blog you can read other poems there too. http://naturalhistoriesblog.com/others-writing/
  • My term ‘poeting’ coined last year is becoming widely used by many poets! Hoping to get it into OED next year!
  • Jess Davies had her opening night of a new spoken word event in Stirchley at the P Café, it was packed and well attended. Stirchley Speaks – and it certainly did!
  • Scary Canary hosted another Permission to Speak, Rob Francis’s fantastic night – NOW FREE!! This month saw Brenda Read-Brown and PTR Williams headline.
  • I went to Debbie Aldous’s Spoken Word at The Ort and shared a lovely meal and some Tennis with Tessa Lowe beforehand.
  • I spent a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon at Cannon Hill Park, The Mac (Birmingham) with a collective of poets – we took over the storytelling tent whilst they all went for lunch and performed to some greatly enthusiastic children. We are also hoping to get some of our poems hung on trees down by the lake, later this year. We had a special guided tour to this secret location. MAC With Frankie Ryan, Tony Fox, Syrac Citam, Timothy Scotson, Callum Bate and Nina Lewis at Cannon Hill Park.

© Jasmine Gardosi 2015

All of these events can be read in further detail in my Poetry Wrap post. Enjoy!

Poetry Wrap 5 (A Brief Introduction on Exhaustion)

 

WEEK 2

  • The 2nd week of June saw a performance at HOWL and a great packed night of poetry, hosted by Leon Priestnall. Fantastic headliners and I met two poets who I have only seen around and never spoken to before, Luci Hammans and Sipho Eric Dubepart, A.K.A ‘Unhindered Reign’ – one of three headliners, the others being Glyn Phillips and Jess Davies. I met with Sipho a week later at workshop with Candy Royalle.

I spent most of this week on tender hooks and full of nerves and butterflies as it was the WPL final and the Launch of this year’s Worcester Lit Fest. I spent most of the week preparing for it and missed some previous diary entries for open mics due to energy levels, it was a full on week of work, work for me too.

  • Friday 12th June was the Poet Laureate Finals, the winner this year was Heather Wastie.

WLF Heather WPL

Heather receiving her engraved award with Maggie Doyle at Worcester’s SpeakEasy Lit Fest Special.

© WLF Team 2015

Suz Winspear was the runner up and I came in 3rd position.  WPL

© Betti Moretti 2015

Read all about the experience here WLF 2015 The Launch & Poet Laureate Final even typing this has my heart set on edge again!

  • The WLF took over my life for the next 10 days, this week I saw Ben Parker, Todd Swift and Chloe Clarke (Young Poet Laureate) performing at the Royal Porcelain Museum, where Ben has just finished his residency and Todd is taking over.

BP Chloe Chloe

BP Dr Todd Swift Todd

BP Ben Ben

© WLF Team 2015

It was a super night of poetry. I treated myself to Ben’s collection, I love his work. Ben Parker From Porcelein

  • I had my final session at The Hive as Assistant Writer to Ian MacLeod, from September I take over the senior writing group as Lead Writer for Writing West Midlands. We invited the parents to come and take part with the end of the session, it was great fun!

 

WEEK 3  

  • The week started well with news that my poem ‘Beyond Gas Street Basin’ is to be published in an upcoming anthology of city poems called ‘Birmingham Bound’. It was a poem I was commissioned to write last year by Naked Lungs for Birmingham Literature Festival. I am delighted to be in a book all about Birmingham as it is a city that has opened it’s poetry doors for me since the tail end of 2013.
  • WLF continued and I had the delight of watching John Hegley at Confab Cabaret, Malvern. A SELL OUT Fringe event.
  • WLF I performed at the 42 WLF Special and met Adam Millard for the first time.
  • WLF I performed at WLF SpeakEasy Special and thoroughly enjoyed Brenda Read-Brown‘s set.
  • WLF I watched the Offa Press Poets, Bert Flitcroft & David Bingham at the Institute before seeing Jonny Fluffypunk return from his Austerity March experience in London to perform for us again. A highlight for me.
  • WLF Bert and Jonny joined us on the Summer Solstice Walk up the River Severn, where we all performed poetry at locations along the walk. A super, magical experience.
  • I was asked to perform at a fundraiser next month for Arts All Over the Place.
  • I attended a workshop with Candy Royalle, the international act at this month’s HTO (Hit the Ode) – which I missed as I was performing at the WLF Special SpeakEasy. It was amazing, she is a forceful spirit, driven and dazzling in her buoyant enthusiasm. Great to meet her, gutted I missed her set. I created 3 poems, in the 3 hours as well as picking up some great performance tips. Mainly driving home some things I already know. It was lovely to work alongside friends too!
  • I was invited to be a featured poet, but was unable to accept as I will be at Ledbury Poetry Festival, I am hoping this booking may happen later this year instead. Something else to look forward to!

Read about these events on fine detail here Poetry Wrap 6 & WLF – Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe 2015 – A Wrap! which includes links to individual WLF posts I created throughout the festival.

 

Week 4

  • I had 2 writing days at the beginning of the week, it has been a while since I have been able to dedicate time to actually writing. I did a lot of market research too and drew up a list of submissions to hit before the end of the month – as I realise I have hardly sent any work out there this year.
  • I took part in an open mic as part of my town’s current Festival.
  • I went to the Two Towers Brewery to perform as part of Debbie Aldous’s new night Spoken Word and More.
  • Droitwich Summer Festival invited 9 performers to entertain with poetry and music at a magical Live Lit event hosted at Park’s Café and organised by Malcolm Wakeman and MC-ed by Fergus McGonigal (everything he touches, turns to gold)! Performers included;

Fergus McGonnigall (previous Worcestershire’s poet laureate) & MC

Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate )

Jenny Hope

Math Jones

Mike Alma

Bridget & Malcolm Wakeman

John & Pauline Franks

Nina Lewis

Polly Robinson

Ruth Stacey

Holly Magill

Sarah James (runs the Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza) & Val.

It was lovely to go for a meal with people afterwards too and chat away the night. I finally got to bed at 2:30 a.m after I had worked off the adrenalin! I have been looking forward to this event since Sarah James launched her new book The Magnetic Diaries, KFS Press. Since then she has had Hearth published, a collaborative book (Mother Milk Books) and is about to have PlentyFish – her new collection published with Nine Arches Press.

  • New opportunities for training presented themselves and I was fortunate to be online at the time. Looking forward to telling you all about this latest venture in September.
  • I also continued work on my own collection.
  • I had a poem published on Visual Verse – ‘Shame in the City’.
  • News of the 52 ANTHOLOGY published by Nine Arches Press – Out soon!
  • I performed at Sunday Xpress just before coming home to pack my suitcase! They have found a new home at The edge Artspace, Foundation Arts, a great venue in Digbeth. The room was as crowded as outside (it was a hot day – the beginning of this heat-wave, just in time for my holiday! Loved performing this afternoon, it is the first time I have felt this great after Sunday Xpress, fabulous venue, great people, new faces, abundant talent – just a marvellous mix. Unfortunately I missed the bands this time as I have to make some submissions and pack a suitcase. I will be back over there over the summer though. Fabulous success, deserved after years in the pubs of Digbeth. (There are some gems of bars in Digbeth, just noisy and full of local life that is great for a pint but not so accommodating for a poem!)

All this and more can be found in Poetry Wrap 7

inkspill holidayAnd now I am going on holiday for a much deserved rest!

 

THE WRITE YEAR WILL BE UPDATED ON MY RETURN

Mouth & Music – 3rd Birthday ‘SPARK OFF’ Special!

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mm Last year Heather Wastie asked me to be a team captain for the New Year/3rd Birthday/ Anniversary Mouth & Music in January. Mike Alma was the other team captain, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it.

<Mike, sorry you couldn’t make it, if we had been head to head I think the room would have been full of SPARKS! Bright ones!>

m&M

Pete Williams kindly stepped up – although Pete and I discovered we are the least competitive people and far too ‘nice’ to Spark Off. However, that said Pete <I may not be competitive, I am certainly a sore loser though!> There were many reasons that our team was pipped to the post* in a very close and entertaining evening…

MM3 Pete Williams Mary Davis

Pete Williams -Team Leader

* promising the MC Ian Passey/Humdrum Express a pint, not wearing Humdrum t-shirts or promotional goods, not having John Langford or Pete Williams playing guitar, perhaps playing a joker without it being clear that it was and the odd occasion where a promised theme turned out to be something else! I had been pictured in the paper and they hadn’t – something Heather has balanced on Social Media.

kiddi shuttle PhotoGiraffe

It was all for fun, no actual winning trophy has been lost or anything and I wouldn’t have missed it or turned down my part in proceedings for anything – including a shiny trophy!

Heather Wastie worked hard organising us team leaders and we scouted the land for talented poets and regulars at M&M who would have poems suitable to fit the themes. The themes were 11 M&M themes from 2014. From these teams of 6 we were then allocated Open Mic-ers as they arrived. I had no idea how it would pan out and the first emails of rules I was sent caused mild panic, until Heather reminded me rules are there to be broken – and I think our team had more than a hint of anarchy about us! I thought Heather and Sarah Tamar were extremely brave to hand the whole evening over to us three, it was smashing!

By Tuesday evening I had worked 2 full days, survived on 4 hours sleep and curled up to watch teatime TV, unable to set an alarm as my phone stopped working. I woke up at 6:40ish with barely enough time to arrive! I managed with minutes to spare and gathered the team to figure out who had poems to fit what (leading) – Pete took the mickey that I had a list and had organised a set list order. Maybe we should have faked surprise, as he may have got extra excitement points for swinging by the edge…

MM3 Ian PasseyMary Davis

Ian Passey

Ian Passey did an amazing MC role – having seen him in action at Worcester Music Festival – I knew he would make the night memorable – not helped by Tim Scarborough and I hitting the stage first for ‘Dualogue’ theme and then needing to set up – I offered to pad, tell the crowd it had been over 6 months since Tim and I had performed together etc. I think we were worth the wait – it was great to perform together again. My team certainly provided the MUSIC element in the first half, although Pete wowed us with childhood TV themes on his harmonica in the 2nd half (maybe that is what swung it)!

In addition to two incredibly entertaining teams of performers we had sweets, chocolate cake (with sparklers on it), balloons and the RAFFLE. It was a great 3rd Birthday!

bday

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all performers on my team, you’re all winners in my eyes! frugal cafe creative commons champers

Heather Wastie MM3 Heather

Fergus McGonigal MM3 Fergus

MM3 caution Poet Caution Poet

Paul Francis

MM3 tim and me Tim Scarborough

Nina Lewis

& Open Mic-ers Roy Sadler MM3 Roy and Martin Jones

^ What a team!

 

Pete’s team: Jan Ashton, Maggie Doyle, Rob Francis, Andrew Owens, Io Osborn, Sarah Tamar, John Langford, Ian Ward & Pete Williams (yes, they had an extra members)!

MM3 JanMM3 MaggieMM3 Rob FrancisMM3 Andrew and SarahMM3 IoMM3 John Langford Mary Davis

Thanks to Mary Davis for shooting the event in glorious colour (the venue is a difficult one due to lighting) & Heather & Sarah for arranging such a great night!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY M & M bday cups

Link to Heather’s blog where you will find a less biased post about SPARK OFF.

https://mouthandmusic.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/sparks-flew/

 

 

Book Launch – The Failed Idealist’s Guide to the Tatty Truth By Fergus McGonigal

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fergus book launch © 2014 Gary Carr Fheather Fjohn Fmaggie Fneil Fclaire

ffergus

On Thursday night I went to Worcester to perform at Fergus’s book launch and to celebrate his success as a published poet. I was touched to be invited to perform at the Book Launch along with Neil Laurenson, Claire Walker, John Lawrence, Maggie Doyle and Heather Wastie. A great mix of poetry to entertain people for the first half and then the delight of Fergus sharing lots of poetry from this new collection.

I bought my copy of course, thank you Fergus for the lovely message, I shall cherish it along with the book and cannot wait to read it (your book is in a queue of ….. and will be read as soon as possible)! ffergus2

It was a cracking night and I am happy for Fergus. The venue was packed out with friends and family and people had travelled great distances to celebrate the next chapter of Fergus’s adventure.

Fergus McGonigal

Is the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate, co-curator and host of the Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe’s monthly spoken word event“SpeakEasy”, which runs on the second Thursday of every month at The Old Rectifying House, in the heart of Worcester City.
Last year, Fergus was chosen from 20 commissioned West Midlands poets to be one of 6 poets to represent the Arts Council’s Poetry on Loan “Postcard Poets” project. Their aim is to bring poetry to library-goers across the region: through performance poetry; poetry workshops; and events like “Poetry on Demand”, where you can commission a poet to write a poem for you on the spot.

From this autumn, Fergus will be working with Museums Worcester taking their First World War Remembrance Project to community centres, arts festivals and schools; and he will also be running several Remembrance Day events for MW. 

Fergus’s first collection, “The Failed Idealist’s Guide to the Tatty Truth”, will be published in November by Burning Eye Books.

“Fergus McGonigal: this young man is emerging, no I correct myself, taking over, as this season’s “must have poet”. He is everywhere! He has the voice and passion of a young Brian Blessed, a hangover that Oliver Reed would be proud to recognize, and a wry sense of humour which always makes him a hit with any audience.” 

http://www.fergusthepoet.com/index.html

Congratulations to Fergus & thanks for the invite!

 

Check it out and buy your copy here Fergus Tatty Truth

October Week 4 Writing, Editing, Book Launches, INKSPILL and MORE!

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The end of this month seems even busier than the beginning, which is crazy because I intentionally withdrew from performing poetry to concentrate on a writing project and take stock. With all the writing & editing there hasn’t been much time to take stock! I did have to take on a lot of day work (as my half term is unpaid) I managed one FULL day of writing mid-week which was a godsend! I spent most of this week preparing articles and posts for Inkspill, researching and communicating with our guest writers; William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie. If you missed it you missed a treat – follow this link to some of the programme, join in – it’s never too late! awf-2014 I was also working towards finishing a big writing project I have been involved on since the end of August. I spent hours writing on Wednesday, which was great – hard work feels so good when you love what you’re doing! I also received some news on Wednesday – I had been given an award from Arts all Over the Place for stepping in last minute to compere they opening event at the festival. AAOTP_3 I was able to go and pick up my award en route to the Restless Bones night at The Ort, due to work I didn’t get there in time to join in all the fun, very touched by Rachel Green and Arts All Over the Place. AAOTP Pictured with Big Bren – Birmingham’s host for Sunday Xpress. I hope to work with Rachel again in the future. Although I was working on Thursday the booking was amended last minute and I was able to leave early and to the Library of Birmingham for Poetry for Lunch with Jan Watts. I always love this short, fast paced game of poetry tag and we were watched by a bunch of school kids waiting to go to the Rep Theatre, it made me doubly grateful for the early release! pfl me choosing poems pfl oct In the evening Elaine Christie had organised another launch event for  Restless Bones Poetry Anthology. We were to perform poetry and watch the film Born Free. born free The Ort has lots of things going on some nights (it is community based) Thursday evening there was an art class in the gallery *(the space we had booked) and events and reservations in the café downstairs so we were up in the Gods in a level I never even knew existed as far from the bar and toilets as possible, still nothing a tray and some good balance couldn’t solve! Although there were a small select few of us another batch of books were sold, that’s over £330.00 for the born free all proceeds are being donated to charity. It was also one of those magical nights when the world seems right and everything is running to cosmic order. Those nights when you become aware of behind the scenes and feel incredibly touched by existence. Tessa Lowe had the idea that everyone else should pick poems to read which weren’t theirs – one of mine was by Emily Dickinson and it got read earlier, so I had to think on my feet – it was great to hear us all read words by somebody else, it was incredibly moving. As is the book, you really should buy yourself a copy! Come along to the next event 25th November where Restless Bones poets are reading at Poetry Bites, Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham (Kings Heath). BUY YOUR COPY THERE £9.99 restless the book It was a great evening with a wonderful atmosphere. I was also trying to squeeze in a trip to Hanbury Hall (National Trust Property) to visit an exhibition that Stanza members are writing poetry about, I am glad I didn’t attempt this too as Thursday left me exhausted. henrace3 I went after work on Friday – which was a pain with regards to the light and lack of time I spent with my notebook but was a lovely rest-bite from work traffic on a Friday night! There was so much going on in Birmingham this weekend. I missed it all as I had my project and Inkspill to attend to and had already accepted two weekend events I didn’t feel I could say anything other than YES to! The Poet Laureates took over the Library on Saturday with performances, workshops and a general spread of Poetry! SatelliteBritain’s Got Talent came to town and one of my poetry friends, Andrea Smith (a.k.a Swingerella) had a very successful audition – I expect we will see her on the TV soon! Ruth Stacey was involved in a writing walk – this was in Ledbury and not the city – but had I been available was something else I would have liked to do! It looked fab. I also missed SOCKTEMBER socktober which was an event I had planned to take part in performing poetry and enjoying a bonfire. I spent the time I would have been there chained to my desk writing and editing and I have no regrets there at all! I have made a note for this next year and hope to help the event and give the cause the time it deserves. I did manage to escape my desk briefly on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we celebrated a big and important birthday, my Great Aunty Sheila and we all saw my brother Dave and his wife, Jenny fresh back off their wonderful honeymoon. On Sunday teatime I attempted 1940-50s fancy dress – with the help of Google and a few items in my wardrobe I generally don’t wear anymore and certainly not together, styled my hair and shot off to Worcester for Alan Durham’s Book Launch of The Hen Race. alan durham http://henracepress.com/2014/10/28/keep-calm-and-carry-on/ Read all about it straight from Alan on his blog. It was a great launch, Heather Wastie played the keyboard and sang a selection of the songs mentioned in the book. She was brilliant! henrace1 Polly Robinson and Heather read extracts as well as Alan and the wonderful cover art was on display. HENrace 2 We were spoilt with drinks and canapés and it didn’t even matter that my worst fear was realised, people hadn’t realised I was in fancy dress! It was lovely to pop in and see everyone too and the room was packed. A great turn out for the launch. The empty seat was mine. henrace4   Every spare minute of the last few weeks has been spent on my writing project, so much so that despite reminders in my writing schedule it was only 7 day before that I had started to instigate work on the writing weekend. I felt awf-2014 whirl was a great success, lots of hard work went into making it happen, especially with other commitments and opportunities that have arisen this year! Thanks again to everyone who took part! It was a full and action packed week!