Tag Archives: Hit the Ode

Verve Poetry Festival Opening Night

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Verve Poetry Festival Opening Night

Verve Poetry Festival

I cannot express how excited I am that Birmingham finally has a poetry festival. It was the brainchild of a renown collective and blends spoken word and page poetry perfectly, as it should be. Poetry is such a small part of the universe that to segregate it further has always seemed a little absurd to me. Candy Royalle is a firm believer that ‘poet’ covers it.

http://vervepoetryfestival.com/about/

They don’t actually name themselves: Stuart Bartholomew (the God of Waterstones), Cynthia Miller, Emma Wright of the Emma Press & Bohdan Piasecki.

I have been counting down since November when I attended the V.I.P Launch and saw the programme the following day. Before the end of the week I had bought my festival pass. Reimbursed with additional travel expenses by Mr G. for Christmas, my mum bought me my workshop tickets for Christmas too and doesn’t it always taste better when it is FREE?

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I am kicking myself that I didn’t keep up with the announcements beyond social media, as I discovered late Wednesday night some of the programme had to be changed.

We have made some changes to our programme for Sunday 19th Feb at Verve. Most notably, Melissa Lee-Houghton has had to pull out of the festival for personal reasons. This has left a hole in the programme, as Melissa was due to run a workshop in the afternoon as well as reading at the evening headline event alongside Penned In The Margins stable-mate and Birmingham based Luke Kennard, and excellent Bloodaxe poet Shazea Quraishi.

It is a hole we have been working hard these last few days to plug, and plug it we have. Shazea Quraishi was thrilled to be asked to run a workshop in Melissa’s place from 1-3 PM. While Melissa was going to be getting her workshoppers to focus on the idea of writing to, Shazea will instead focus on writing as.  

For the evening headline event, we decided to ask to excellent Ruby Robinson to read for us in Melissa’s place, and we have to say we were thrilled to bits when she agreed. Ruby has had an glorious year on the back of having her first collection, Every Little Sound, published by Pavillion Poetry – being short-listed for the Felix Dennis Prize for best first collection and the T.S. Eliot Prize. Collette Bryce wrote, ‘Every Little Sound is an extraordinary first collection from a very gifted young poet.’ We are so excited to hear Ruby read and feel she has added something to our evening headline event that it didn’t possess before. It will be a wonderful reading.

© 2017 Verve Blog

I am really excited about meeting Ruby, who I discovered through INKSPILL 2016 (our online writing retreat right here on this blog).

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This morning I found out Robert Harper/ Bare Fiction is doing Poetry surgeries for FREE over the weekend. All 8 slots are fully booked now of course.

http://vervepoetryfestival.com/poetrysurgeries/

Speaking of surgeries, I was diagnosed with Sciatica years ago and rarely suffer. Yesterday as I arrived at work my back went and I was in agony all day. Driving, getting the train and then sitting for 4 hours has not helped. After a soak, a massage and a hot water bottle I only managed about 3 hours sleep. I am now dosed with pain killers and trying not to sit for too long! It is the only thing that will ruin this weekend for me. I saw from last night’s sneezy front row that nothing is keeping any of us away! I am packing a cushion and a mini hot water bottle for tonight and probably catching the bus so I won’t need to drive.


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Last night was as incredible as I knew it would be and it was fabulous to share it with an array of poetry friends. I love festivals for catching up with everyone and spending time amongst the throngs of poets. It was great to see that there was audience present as well as writers amongst the festival goers – a great treat for anyone and EVERYONE!

I arrived about an hour early as I know better than to trust city train services. This gave me a chance to chat to friends and relax before the night unfurled. It was lovely to see Daljit Nagra again and I really appreciated the chat we managed before he was whisked away to the Green Room! The Barista helped, having put our coffees on the same tray it would have been awkward for either one of us to refuse the other’s company. I was delighted, of course. I think Daljit has a genuine interest in other people and their poetry/lives. I took his Masterclass in Swindon last year at the Festival and am delighted that he will be Poet in Residence this year.

The opening night combined two events that happen regularly in Birmingham. The Poetry Parlour is hosted at Waterstones and features a poet and an Open Mic format and Hit the Ode, probably needs no introduction. One of the biggest poetry nights organised by Apples and Snakes and hosted by Bohdan Piasecki. This was a Thursday night guaranteed to ROAR!

Poetry Parlour

The Festival Stage was fully decorated, fairy lights, bunting, the famous green chairs and Roz Goddard was our glamorous host.

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© 2017 Emma Wright

Jane Commane interviewed Daljit with quality questions and he talked about several collections. After that he read and we were spellbound. Pin drop audience moments.

Then an interval followed by the open mic section. I had pre-booked a slot for one poem, I think that was a great idea to maximise the usual 8-9 poets to 12. Actually Roz made the decision to invite an extra 3 readings, treated to 15 poets/poems. A great range of voice. I performed ‘Your Gift’ from Fragile Houses.

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Then to complete the evening the winner of the Verve Poetry Competition performed an incredible set. I didn’t enter this competition and I am regretting not being organised enough to make the deadline because Saturday and Sunday will be filled by the anthology that was published from the entries, including an opportunity for work to be read. I know many/most/probably all the poets who are bound in this collection and it is on my must buy list. Which is so incredibly long that I have already marked out the books to buy later in the year. Waterstones have a eye-catching display right by the front door of all the books from festival poets.

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© 2017 Waterstones

Hit The Ode

As I have mentioned many times on this blog is an amazing night! Full of passion, spoken word and laughter. They always have 3 Headline acts, one local, one national and one international and this evening was no exception.

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© 2017 Waterstones

HEADLINERS:

From the Midlands, Soweto Kinch: the man who embodies the Brummie renaissance, a lyricist, playwright, poet, rapper and saxophone virtuoso in one tight package. http://www.soweto-kinch.com/

From outside the Midlands, Jemima Foxtrot: writer, theatre-maker, performer and musician, Jemima’s makes the distinction between song and poetry irrelevant. https://jemimafoxtrot.co.uk/

From beyond these Isles, Dizzylez: rapper, poet, percussionist, loop-pedal master, this French jack-of-all-trades creates layered narratives in front of your very eyes. http://www.dizzylez.com/

© 2017 Verve Programme

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I regret not signing up for an open mic slot in advance – I didn’t think it through, I was upstairs in the Parlour and the event finished in time for the next one to begin. I snuck out a little early to sign up but was already too late. I was a little hesitant at performing at both events and this prevented me from sending an email. Silly really. I had surprised myself earlier in the day by realising that I now know some of the lighter poems in my pamphlet off by heart and last week wrote an amusing poem about lists which I could have shared. In another way it is great to attend, watch, enjoy… although I did have to move to the back after the first half to grab a comfy green chair as my back was in spasm by this point.

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I thoroughly enjoyed HTO and was sad to leave before the end of Soweto Kinch’s set. I missed my train and couldn’t risk missing the last one as my car was parked in the suburbs and it would have been expensive to reach it. It has happened before, funnily enough at my first HTO I attended in 2014.

It was a great night, I was mesmerised by Dizzylez and his set, mostly in French. It reminded me of my time in Montreal, which is probably the last time I saw performance work in French for any length of time. I used to speak fluently, but not been to France now for over a decade and don’t use the language much (other than teaching) so I am no longer fluent.

Jemima Foxtrot was mesmerising. I really hope to catch her again. It was good to have music at HTO too – all three Headliners are musicians/musical.

It may be the excellent Waterstone’s Americano or adrenaline – or lack of sleep or a combination of all three, I feel like I am on top of the world. Welcome to my life during a poetry festival! WHOOOAAHHHOOOO

pitm-blog-bannerTonight I have the pleasure of Kim Moore, Mona Arshi & Katrina Naomi. Kim and Mona I met at Swindon last year and Katrina has always been performing in clashing events on the festival circuit. I look forward to discovering her.

Followed by the Dice Slam (Apples and Snakes) and the last bus home. Fingers crossed the service runs smoothly. I may have to find some space under a bookcase if not!

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More Poetry Events September Poets with Passion, PFL and Hit the Ode

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On Sunday 13th, I was back again at Café  1 birm ortin Birmingham, this time with Tessa Lowe and Poets With Passion. Once again it was lovely to reconnect with poets I hadn’t seen in a while and meet new people who love poetry. Tessa’s events are always relaxed and it was a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon.

Before I left she asked Chris Fewings and I if we would be interested in leading the group as one off sessions. Depending on the weather, I have agreed for 2016.

I cannot wait to pick a theme and find poems.

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Poetry for Lunch with Jan Watts at the P Café, Stirchley 17th

Last year you may remember that Jan Watts, former Birmingham Laureate, ran a series of weekly poetry events in the ‘bear pit’ at the Library of Birmingham. Due to funding cuts the library was unable to repeat this successful programme in 2015.

I was delighted when Jan decided to re-launch PFL at the P Café and gutted that I had work booked and couldn’t attend the first event a week before.

It was a great event, lots of poetry was shared and they are creating a Smorgasbord of poetry on the wall at P Café from PFL.

The P Café is an amazingly creative place with a fantastic menu of delicious food, drinks and treats. The truffles are to die for and the atmosphere of the place breeds instant relaxation and happy vibes. I only wish I lived a little nearer!

The best moment at PFL has to go to Elaine Christie –

PFL ELaine

What are the chances of this happening – A fly landing on the page of my poem, when the next line I was about to read was – “Or lost in the flurry of flashing fireflies”

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Photography Elaine Christie © 2015

Hit the Ode with Bohdan Piasecki (Apples & Snakes), Birmingham 17th

It was a busy old day for poetry. In the evening Myfanwy Fox (thanks for the lift) and I were in Birmingham for Hit the Ode. They have 3 headliners – a local, national and international poet.

Leon Priestnall (who hosts HOWL) was headlining in the local slot and he was on fire for his set.

The National Poet was Jackie Hagan from Manchester and the International poet was Toni Stuart from South Africa.

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Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham.

Join us! We have poems. Poems you can spread on toast in the morning. Poems which sing embarrassing songs under the shower. Poems which will heal if you apply steady pressure. Good poems, Come and get them.

Featuring:

From Birmingham, Leon Priestnall
A stalwart of the Birmingham poetry Scene, Leon is a poet with a passionate performance style, betraying influecnes ranging from hip-hop artists to the Beats. Leon runs the popular Howl event series in Kings Heath, and has been a Hit the Ode supporter for years – we’re delighted to finally be able to offer him a full slot. He will be joined on stage by a special musical guest.

From Manchester, Jackie Hagan
Jackie Hagan was raised on broken biscuits, by hecklers, in a little town that’s now studied on the GCSE syllabus as a ‘failed social experiment’. She performs poetry and comedy, is a playwright for Graeae Theatre and runs Seymour Poets, a creativity project for isolated adults based at blueSCI Arts and Wellbeing centre in Manchester. Jackie is the winner of the 2015 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show for Some People Have Too Many Legs.

From South Africa, Toni Stuart
Toni Stuart is a poetry writer, performer and developer from Cape Town, South Africa. Her work uses poetry to interrogate a range of social issues such as the stories of place and displacement, HIV/Aids, and gender-based violence. She was named in the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 Inspiring Young South Africans for her work in co-founding I Am Somebody! – an NGO that uses storytelling and youth development to build integrated communities.

Bohdan Piasecki © 2015

The whole night was electrifying as always and I thoroughly enjoyed being back at HTO – (they take the summer off).

J. H © 2015

As Sweet as Candy: Poetry Workshop with Candy Royalle

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I was excited to find a link 5 days ago via Social Media for a FREE workshop. Candy Royalle is an Australian Poet who performed in the INTERNATIONAL slot at Hit The Ode, Birmingham (Apples & Snakes) Thursday night, which I missed as I was performing in Worcester at WLF SpeakEasy.

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I will certainly catch her next time she is in the UK. She gigs all over Europe and America, so you don’t have to make a long haul flight to catch her, in the meantime check out YouTube.

Her remaining shows on the tour are in Wales and London:

Event: The Butch Priestess International Tour
21/06/15
http://candyroyalle.com
Candy Royalle in
London
Queer’Say
Time: 7:00pm.

Address: Hackney Attick (Hackney Picture House) 270 Mare St Hackney.

27/06/15
http://candyroyalle.com
Candy Royalle in
Swansea, Wales
HOWL Poetry Presents…
Time: 7:00pm.

Address: Mozarts 76B Walter Road.

I signed up for my ticket and marked my DAY OFF over in the diary with WORKSHOP. I was (as always) a little nervous beforehand and once I had done my route I had the thought that it would be full of HTO poets and I wasn’t wrong. Lovely to turn up to a bunch of familiar faces. I knew everyone, which was great – as we all knew each other it made for a relaxed atmosphere without that heightened anxiety sharing work with strangers can have. Big kudos to Candy and Bohdan Piasecki for organising this amazing, free event.

I had no expectation of this workshop other than I wanted to come home with some new work, I have… pages full of ideas. It was great to meet Candy too, an enthusiastic writer with boundless energy and an easy manner, Australian’s tend to have this gentle presence – this is a huge generalisation, but I have travelled East and West coast and found it to be a common connection.

I had the best afternoon, lots of writing exercises, 3 new poems and some great tips for pre-performance nerves. I couldn’t think of a much better way to spend a day off.

Candy managed to condense a day’s workshop into 3 hours and cater for all our varied needs.

I LOVED IT!

As thanks for a free workshop I bought her book ‘Heartbeats’. You can buy it too.

$19.95

<!– Buy now –> Candy Royalle has performed alongside many of the greats including Ursula Rucker (who said “Candy Royalle is all at once fragile, powerful, raw, sensitive, beautiful, unflinching and honest. She, her spirit and her work, will change you”) Shane Koyczan, Sarah Kay, Phil Kay, Rives, Anis Mojgani and Holly McNish to name a few. A festival curator once described Royalle as “an act you remember for years” and the Austin International Poetry Festival Chair stated Candy had “…changed the face of poetry in Austin, forever”. Few who see her can forget her intensity, her combustible blend of intellect, imagination and heart. 

Bio from http://candyroyalle.com/ © 2015

RELATED LINK:

http://applesandsnakesblog.org/blog/poet-of-the-month-candy-royalle-vulnerability-the-new-cool

Hit the Ode – Jasmine Gardosi, Rose Condo, MiKo Berry & Spoz

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Last week I went to Hit The Ode, it was amazing! I promised you a blog post about it and here it is.

Thursday 19th February – Birmingham hit

It was an incredible night. This event is hosted by Bohdan Piasecki, but he was in Poland, so Spoz (a.k.a Giovanni Esposito) took over as the compere. He was a superb host and entertained us to a frenzy, Bohdan left us all in very capable hands. Spoz is a pro!

I love the fact that every guest they book is always (without exception) mindblowingly brilliant and you know you will always have a great night! I have discovered so many talented performers through this Apple & Snakes event.

The evening was superb! I wanted to support Jasmine Gardosi, a great talent and main feature, what made it more special was this had been her dream from the start, booked to headline Hit the Ode. A rare opportunity to see another headlining set from Jasmine, twice in a month – spoilt!

Although, I have to confess that I contacted them for an open mic slot too. I was looking forward to ranting out ‘Taxing’ – I did realise that I lost many of the younger audience, who perhaps not yet owning vehicles have not experienced the joy of updating paperwork and paying vast sums of money annually to be allowed to use the pot-holed roads of this fine Island! Fortunately the audience can range from pre-18 up to 60 (possibly +) so I was understood by a few and the end of the poem should raise a smile or laugh or too, it did, I even got my first click!

It was an amazing night, the open mic-ers rocked the stage with stonkingly good performances and the headliners… well… WOW – it has been months since I managed to get to Hit the Ode and every headliner drummed in how much I had missed it. hit 1

Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Join us! We have poems. Poems which scratch that one spot you can never reach on your own; poems whose volume knob was broken off last time you had a party; poems you had better not leave unattended, or they will be taken away and disposed off. Good poems. Come and get them!

jasmine Rose Condo

Featuring: From Birmingham, Jasmine Gardosi Jasmine Gardosi is a spoken word poet, Poets’ Place coordinator, part of the team behind Opus Club, and Birmingham Poet Laureate 2014/15 finalist. In other words, a pillar of the Brummie poetry community. Come and discover her complex, entertaining, often surreal poetry.

From Yorkshire, Rose Condo A Canadian based in West Yorkshire, Rose Condo is a prolific performance poet and the winner of Newcastle’s Slamalgamate (pictured)  – coming to Birmingham for the first time to claim the prize, a featured slot at our own Hit the Ode. rose condo1

From Edinburgh, MiKo Berry All the way from exotic Scotland comes MiKo Berry – the Scottish Poetry Slam Champion, European poetry slam finalist, founder of the renowned Loud Poets, his flair for combining the finest literary technique with stage savvy distinguish him as a poet and a performer.

Miko The Thin Book of Poems launch party at Woodland Creatures in Leith.

MiKo Berry The Thin Book of Poems-launch party- Woodland Creatures in Leith

I was lucky enough to talk to Rose Condo during the interval, we had a great chat about performing and writing poetry. Now I will think of her every time I look at my bathmat. Go and see her and you will see why, it has nothing to do with bathing, bathrooms or personal hygiene and more to do with place.

MiKo Berry blew everyone’s socks off (almost literally), one of the most exciting performers I have seen… and you know how many I have seen. Get yourself up to Scotland, Edinburgh and go and see him.

Jasmine Gardosi performed a touching set, performing material that was brand new and fresh and deeper than deep, alongside crowd pleasing favourites and clever poetry that played with metaphor, reality and rhythm!

Great – all highly recommended!

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And in the words of the headline poets, hot from social media press, (well lukewarm, as I am a week and a day late posting)!

Had a cracking night at Hit The Ode. Spoz was the host with the most! Open mic was ace. The place pumped with energy and what a thrill to share the mic with the amazing Jasmine Gardosi  and MiKo Berry. Holy high on poetry batman!

Rose Condo

So many awesome poems and lovely people. On the train home now but still smiling 🙂 Thanks everyone for a brilliant night!

Miko Berry

Still picking up brainy pieces of my mind which was blown from two ridiculous sets from Rose Condo and MiKo Berry  and a splurge of quality open mics from Brum’s finest. Great job Spoz and Bohdan.

Jasmine Gardosi

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Rose Condo, MiKo Berry, Spoz & Jasmine Gardosi at Hit The Ode, Birmingham 19.2.15

A whole week later and I am STILL buzzing, was a splendid night of poetry!

Half Term Week – Workshops, Writing, Courses and Performances

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I hoped that half term would bring me plenty of time to write, sometimes things don’t work out as planned. I was very grateful for booking a workshop back in January, as this was the first time this week I actually sat down and wrote.

Last year I was fortunate enough to get a last minute place on a workshop during half term with Angela France in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

On Thursday I had the opportunity to attend another workshop with Angela and it was wonderful. I have pages of ideas to sink my teeth into and have been surprised by some of the poetry that has come from the mapping work we completed during the day.

Copyright 2013 peonymoon

Copyright 2013 peonymoon

Thursday evening (why does everything always happen on the same day?), I went to Hit the Ode – it doesn’t seem like months since I was there but I think it has been 4 months since the last one! Primarily I went to support Jasmine Gardosi – another local (and phenomenal) poet who is fast becoming a favourite headliner in our region. I did manage to get an open mic spot too. These are usually 5 mins and I planned to treat the audience to my poem about taxing my car and another about a friend who bakes the most amazing cakes. Performers tend to do poetry by heart and I only knew the 2nd poem off by heart. When I got there – there were so many open mic-ers that we only had time for one poem. Although I have performed ‘Cake-Man’ there before. Hit the Ode was such a great night I have written a separate blog post (link to follow). hit 1

I have managed to squeeze some writing time in this weekend and have a schedule / action plan I devised on Wednesday that I am trying to keep on top of. I am missing Sunday Xpress today and having a belated Shrove Tuesday (Pancake day) with Mr G. instead.

Next week I am going to catch Ben Parker perform again *and this time I will buy his book, his collection has had rave reviews. He is performing at The Hive in Worcester alongside Todd Swift, Sarah James and Ruth Stacey.hive5

I booked two more workshops which I’m looking forward to – another Community Garden workshop in Caldmore, with David Calcutt and one with Caroline Horton during the afternoon (of the same day) in Birmingham, I will be exhausted by the time I get home in the evening and have full time work around these workshops too. Sadly this means I shall miss Confab Cabaret in Malvern in the evening but hope to make it to one soon, haven’t been able to attend for events clashes for months.

I am busy trying to write ‘ghost’ poems for Drummonds 42 on Wednesday and have since found out about a clashing event which I would love to attend, I have committed to the performance in Worcester and think I can deal better with a night there than a really late night in Birmingham, especially after work, with work the next day. However the GOOD TO TALK TOUR is worth a mention and if any of you are in Birmingham it will be well worth you turning up to support.

david allen poetry tour

The 4th event in 1st Time Dave’s (aka David Allen’s) epic charity poetry tour of the country goodtotalktour.wordpress.com Taking in 10 gigs in 10 cities in 10 days – all by pushbike!Entry is £3 but donations welcome, all money going to Birmingham’s Open Door Youth Counselling serviceFeaturing:First Time Dave
Dave is the Reading Poetry Slam’s most winningest (it’s a word) poet. He’s an Archimedes Screw showcase champion and a Bang Said the Gun golden gun winner. He mixes the serious and the silly, the personal and the political. This is the 4th gig in his Good To Talk Tour, raising money for counselling and homelessness charities all over the country in honor of his friend Lizzie Lee who passed away last year.

PLUS! Two favourite poets of mine;

Lorna Meehan
Lorna has been on the circuit for over ten years, performing at festivals like Glastonbury and touring with Apples and Snakes with her mixture of candid hilarity and mellow introspection. She is also an actor, playwright and Associate Director with RoguePlay Theatre and is currently experimenting with longer narrative based poems with theatrical elements.

Jasmine Gardosi
Jasmine Gardosi is a spoken word poet, workshop facilitator, coordinator of West Midlands Poets’ Place and co-host of poetry nights Word Up and Opus Club. A speaker at TEDxBrum’s 2014 International Women’s Day event, her talk addressed the taboo surrounding menstruation. She was placed as the runner up in the the 2014 OxjamBrum Poetry Slam and was shortlisted for Birmingham Poet Laureate 2014/15. She’s also a karate world silver medallist, but that doesn’t really have much to do with poetry so she slips it in subtly wherever she can.

It will be a real shame to miss this event, but I don’t believe in getting out of one event to support another, no matter how unique it is.

I will also probably miss Word Up this month as after a week of work, I don’t think I will have the energy and also won’t have seen Mr G as I am working the day he is home. This is a shame, but I did intend to cut back on events this year. However, I found a downside to this on Thursday night, after a break in performing it was really hard to manage a confident performance, it took the first few stanzas to gain the audience, I think it worked out in the end though.

Just in case my writing diary isn’t packed enough (which it is) I have just enrolled for an online writing course in Spring with CN-1780-logo-uofiowa – I completed one back in 2013 (my 1st year back in my writing skin), it was fun. I am hoping this one will be even more beneficial.

Have a great week, keep writing!

A Day of Poetry Thursday 17th April – Poetry For Lunch & – Birmingham

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I have enjoyed my first week off work, I love life in my writing skin. I spent the first 3 days writing, reading  and making submissions, well one submission, the rest weren’t ready for the deadline and there is no point submitting any below par writing. gardenThe weather we had at the beginning of the week was gorgeous. I spent every afternoon in the garden and Mr G took a couple of half days to enjoy the sun with me.

By Thursday I was ready to go out and about, after a 3 day rest, (I had been out on small errands, to post the submission the old fashioned way and to pick up a take-away tea).

Poetry For Lunch and Tea

lit7 I had a double booking in the city. Poetry for Lunch (now POETRY FOR LUNCH) with jan watts Jan Watts and then in the evening I was going to watch poetry performances at  HIT THE ODE, which included such big headliners this month that tickets (usually bought on the door) were pre-booked online. The room was also full of headliners just watching from the audience. It was such a great day!

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Poetry For Lunch – Library of Birmingham

I got into the city from the suburbs by train and rushed to the Library of Birmingham for POETRY FOR LUNCH, it was great to be back (since I started my contract I work Thursdays) and lovely to see Jan again – and as it is Easter, she had bought mini eggs for us to share. Mmmmmm. There were some people I had not seen perform before and a few people I didn’t know. I shared a couple of poems – it is the first time I haven’t needed to wear a coat! ampitheatre

Part way through I noticed my friend, Tracy watching from the steps. She smiled and took some photos. Lovely to see her. Then later on towards the end of the event who should I spot in the audience, but….. a celebrity! 🙂 fs pfl

Frank Skinner (who had attempted to hide behind his hands), it didn’t work, Frank – you will have to come and meet us all next week if your show is still in town, he is performing at The Hippodrome.

PFL april

Copyright Bernard Davis 2014

 

 

Poets Eat and Drink – An Afternoon in the City

After PFL a group of us went for drinks together and spent a few hours chatting – there is never time at events to really socialise and a couple of us were staying in town for the hours between these gigs. It was great to catch up with people I have not seen for a few months. Later on I went to a buffet place for tea (lovely) before hitting Hit The Ode.

Hit The Ode (20/3/14)

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hit 1 Hit the Ode – was a superb night, as always. We were treated to a night of BSL – British Sign Language and it added something special to everyone’s performances.
The women who did the spontaneous signing were incredible.
I went to support Andrea Shorrick or Swingerella as she has become known. Her set was a real treat – very rude and almost at the end of the end of the night, she was the final open mic slot with a very special Sat Nav!
The rest I leave to the words of Bohdan Piasecki, as he says it best;

Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham.

Featuring From Wolverhampton Martin Glynn has gained a national and international reputation for his commissioned work in theatre, radio drama, live performance and poetry, as well as pursuing an active career as a screenplay writer. Martin has worked with Education and Arts establishments in North America, The Caribbean, Europe, and extensively in the UK, developing literature initiatives, producing and directing performances. His most recent poetry collections include Ancestral Whispers (Triangle Press – 1993) and Griot Excursion (Shomari Productions – 1995), and poems published in anthologies including Unzip your lips (Macmillan – 1998) and Dear Future (Macmillan – 1999).

 

From Bristol Donna Williams is a British Sign Language poet based near Bristol, keen on exploring the interplay between spoken / BSL poetry in search of a ‘perfect balance’ where sign language poems are understood and enjoyed by all, irrespective of previous knowledge of sign language. Her ambition is to create beautiful poetry that everyone can access. Donna is a contributing editor for the Limping Chicken, a successful deaf webzine; she has written short plays for Deafinitely Theatre; and her poetry has appeared in anthologies, notably ‘When The Dead Are Cured’ for Deaf Lit Extravaganza, edited by John Lee Clark.

 

From Scotland Rachel McCrum is an award winning poet and performer who has been living and performing in Edinburgh since 2010. She is a poet, performer and promoter of spoken word, a member of Inky Fingers collective and one half of the Rally & Broad literary cabaret. She was a finalist in the 2012 BBC Edinburgh Festival Slam and winner of the International Woman’s Day Slam. In the past year, she has shared stages with Liz Lochead, Phil Jupitus, Carol Ann Duffy, Josie Long and Caroline Bird. Her first pamphlet ‘The Glassblower Dances’ won the 2013 Callum MacDonald Award from the National Library of Scotland. She has recently spent two weeks as the Michael Marks Poet in Residence at the Harvard Centre for Hellenic Studies in Greece.

 

© 2014 Hit the Ode

 
The open mic slots were all incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed the headliners. It was amazing to watch Donna Williams perform both spoken word with BSL and BSL poems that her interpreter spoke, very moving performance. Captivating.
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Martin Glynn was thought provoking – I loved his jazz poems and his Mature Cheddar Cheese poem! He has been off the circuit for a while and we made him feel right at home!
Good to see him back – I was a baby the first time and missed his career completely!
© 2014 Hit the Ode © 2014 Hit the Ode
Hit Martin
© 2014 Hit the Ode © 2014 Hit the Ode
Rachel McCrum – I love her surname was a real treat! And she managed to follow Swingerella! I bought her poetry pamphlet ‘The Glassblower Dances’ with the last of my money and she was sweet enough to check I had enough money to get home!
A great set. Hit Rachael

My Poetry Day Thursday 20th February

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Today started with Poetry for Lunch, the wonderful lunchtime feast of words, organised by Jan Watts every week. I was at the first few, including the launch on January 9th and now I have to work Thursdays and can only make the school holiday dates… so my next Poetry For Lunch won’t be until Easter – at least it may have stopped raining by then! lit7

Today was ‘suitable for children’ as we hoped lots would be around the library – I took public transport into the city and wrote my poem on the way in!

A lovely children’s poem about Baby Owls.

It was sunny all morning and still blue skies as I walked to the library in my winter coat…. no sooner had I got ready to perform than the heavens opened and I had to put my coat back on – I was worried about my hair going frizzy before the evening performance.

It was lovely to see Jan again and I had fun, even though there was only time to perform one poem this week.

William Gallagher has also been trying to make one of these performances and today he had a meeting at the library and was able to stay and watch the performances. great to speak to him after and catch up briefly.

imagesCA11997Y I was then lucky enough to spend the entire afternoon with new(ish) poetry friends. I feel a little bad, as I was mostly a bag of nerves (as I had attempted to learn my poems off by heart and was thinking about the performance, not drinking, attached to the time, fanatical about checking the time, panicking about being late etc. etc.)

It was good to sit and chat – so often all that is confined to the interval!

This evening I took the biggest leap in performance terms and learnt a lot at my first ever Hit the Ode event! hit 1

My attempt to perform from memory went wrong and the words I had practised and managed for the past 24 hours, fell out of my head, flustered I came off stage to grab my paper and read the poems…. I completely messed up, I was mortified and have never felt so bad about a performance, not since I was a child… but I was able to save the set – and got positive feedback on the poems and my recovery.

Fortunately (for me) it is no longer the vogue to perform from heart and many headline acts still read – or at least have the text in front of them somewhere to use. I knew I should have used my hands as prompts… a few ink reminders.

It was also lovely to see Julie Boden again and meet Ann Porro and Paula Varjack, they each lit up the night with fabulous headline sets!

I bought Ann Porro’s book, with free doggy! Mingled and chatted after the great night and then headed home – or to the bus stop at least – having bought my return ticket.

I had 15 minutes, I got to the stop – double checked timetable I had already checked earlier and there in the FAINTEST print it had a little 1 and the footnote FRIDAY only *(in reference to the last bus home 11:20pm which I guess has been cut because there is never anyone on it until the weekend!)

I had to run to the train station and make a snap decision on the platform – the train went to 2 different stations near (a taxi) home…. I chose the 1st one, thinking there was more likelihood of taxis or a rank. There were neither. I walked to a local hotel and asked them to phone me a taxi – by now the battery in my phone is dead – because I have also spent some time on the phone with estate agents and they may have sold my house. (A week after we went in and kicked up a fuss, funnily enough!)

The taxi was called – someone else jumped into it – the firm was called again – eventually half an hour after we called – the place I was is small enough to drive end to end in 10 minutes my taxi appeared, then I was charged more than the suggested fee as it was after midnight – I wanted to argue against this but I was too tired and just wanted to get in at the time! And it wasn’t a massive amount compared to the total expense of the day – it is NOT cheaper than driving and parking and tomorrow’s gig I will be driving to. Tomorrow is actually later on today and I still have to write the poems for the event!

Lessons I learnt today; imagesCAH8TZHF
1) Drive to ALL gigs
2) Read my poetry – I am not yet ready to perform from heart
3) DON’T tell taxi drivers you have had a drink they will charge more!!
4) I am overweight but when a wonderful poet performs a set about Nutella – I will inevitably end up eating it on toast
5) Nutella is a bit messy for typing!
6) Read …the small print on bus timetables that state in a tiny faded 1 – only on Fridays!
7) Buy single tickets – the likelihood is you will not return (at least not the same way)
8) I need help!
9) The journey is part of the adventure…
10) That none of the above matters when you have had a fantastic day out with great people! inkspill gal at desk

Desk Day – Writing Poetry, Learning Poems and Calming Butterflies!

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I have spent time today learning my set for tomorrow night. No new material being written for my first set at Hit The Ode, but all of it to be performed by heart. Watching the YouTube videos I see a range of styles and some people taking printed word onto the stage (as is the norm for most spoken word/ open mic nights) – they are all poems I have performed before in Cheltenham and Worcester. I have in the past 5 months of performing attempted different material at each event, aware that the poetry world is a small one and the audience is often shared.

However, if I am going to hone and polish my performance this would be a very tall order every time. Besides I have come to realise that some people like to hear material being repeated.

I have learnt half my set, the other half I am a little shaky on – sounds impressive in a morning – but it is only 3 poems long!

I am spending a lot of time addressing the butterflies in my tummy and working through household chores by way of avoiding the reality of my day before the big one.

Hit the Ode is a major event, international acts are booked each month and Julie Boden is one of the big names on stage tomorrow. Which is great because she inspires me, but I also know she is watching…. it was her night in Leamington, last October when I picked up the mic again after 15 years away from spoken word events. 17 weeks later she will hear how I have been getting on as well as tales of unconditional commitment, cakes and the Tube!

In addition to all this preparation, I am also attempting to write new material for the Poetry for Lunch event which (being half term) need to be child friendly or child centred!

I am leaving Friday poetry until Friday – a little risky but Najma now has 15 performers so we only get a 5 minute slot, that’s 2 poems possibly 3 and I already have The Fourth Wall to perform.

hit 1 Hit the Ode is a night many ‘proper poets’ (published, successful, no ‘day job’ poets) have been loudly encouraging me to go and do! I am hoping that the audience is a kind one and that I have prepared a wide enough range of poems to suit the tastes of many….

 

 

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Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Join us! We have poems. Poems which vibrate when they have a message for you. Poems with cheese and gravy. Poems which may be slightly uncomfortable, but make you look great. Good poems. Come and get them!
Featuring Julie Boden.
A former teacher, and Creative Advisor, Julie Boden has for the last ten years worked full time as a poet. She is Midlands based and travels nationally and internationally delivering workshops, conducting readings, performing, lecturing and judging poetry competitions. Julie is a Birmingham Poet Laureate (2002-2003), Director of Poetry Central, Poet in Residence at Symphony Hall, a Director of Warwick Words festival.
Based in the Midlands, Julie travels nationally and internationally delivering workshops, conducting readings, performing, lecturing, mentoring and judging poetry competitions.
Ann Porro
Ann Porro writes deadly serious comic poetry, blues monologues and oblique observations on the outlandish nature of ordinary existence. She is Tyneside Cinema’s Open Slam Champion 2011, SLAMalgamate 2014 winner, and regularly performs at venues all over the North-East. Her first collection, ‘Letter From an Unknown Dog’, was released by Zebra Publishing in May 2013. “From the real to the surreal in the turn of a page!” Live Theatre Newcastle “Her poetry, like the public performances of her work is energising, sometimes humorous and always entertaining.” Jeff Price, Editor, Zebra Publishing
Paula Varjack
With her Berlin postcode, Ghanaian mother, British Father and dual nationality (British/American), it’s probably easiest to say Paula is from a lot of places, but particularly London, Washington Dc and Berlin. Trained as a filmmaker in London, she ran away from her career in television, to pursue documentary filmmaking in Berlin. Within months she emerged as a performance poet (she’s not quite sure how it happened either) She is as likely to perform at a gallery or cabaret night, as at a poetry slam. 

and… me! 🙂