Tag Archives: Jane Commane

The Hill – Angela France Book Launch

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I had the pleasure of going to Cheltenham for Angela France’s Book Launch last week. This was an amazing event. Set in the very place where villagers met to discuss the fate of the hill, there were riots and everything (historically, not on the 20th July).

In fact I spent an hour stuck on a road facing THE hill. So I felt I knew it by the time I arrived at the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The Launch was in the function space, decorated with ribbons and fairy lights and filled with a crowd of poets, locals, friends and family. It was an exceptionally good turn out and the evening shone beautiful sunshine into the space.

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Angela’s latest collection ‘The Hill’ ties together historical fact, modern day thought and the people and places of the hill, significant turning points and lives through the years. It is a project which has seen years of research and uses archive materials as well as creative thought.

I was excited to discover a few months ago whilst working on my own Poetry Collaboration show 30-40-60, that Angela was using multimedia as well. She had the wonderful backing of Elephant’s Footprint Poetry Film (more on them soon) and the added bonus of a remote control. We timed our footage and this left no room for error or pause.

I LOVED the multimedia element, sometimes photos of archives or archived photos, other times narrated letters, modern day film clips, lawful protests and letters to editors, a real blend. I don’t want to give too much detail as I know Angela France is touring this show and I would urge you to go and see it!

It worked really well and Angela’s poetry filled the room. I am really excited about reading this collection. My fascination for people and place is going to be quenched by these poems.

I have not set pen to paper for a while apart from commissioned work, listening to Angela set my mind racing and shook muse awake. I filled pages in my carry about notebook and once home spent 2 hours writing poetry!

Angela France

 © Photo Credit Nine Arches Press 2017

It gave me an opportunity to meet some of the Cheltenham poets whose work I published back in June for World Refugee Day. As well as spending time with poets I know and catching up with all their news.

Also an incredible fruitful discussion about Poetry Film with Chaucer Cameron & Helen Dewbery – Elephant’s Footprint. I recently discovered that several successful poets came to their submission decisions and found opportunities at my Book Launch, it looks like I may have just done the same.

A fabulous evening filled with words and community.


This is a book launch with a very special local and historical twist – it takes place in The Wheatsheaf pub where the ‘Leckhampton Stalwarts’, who feature prominently in The Hill, used to meet.

This launch event will also feature Angela France’s multimedia poetry show which accompanies the book and includes the images, maps and voices of the characters Angela found in the archives, as well as a selection of live poems from Angela France interwoven into a compelling story of trespass, place and memory. 

 © Interests Media Ltd 2014-2017

 

 

Nine Arches Press Summer Party

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Nine Arches Press know how to throw a party! I missed it last year as I was performing elsewhere but – having kept a do it next year section of my 2016 diary, I knew it was coming up and booked my tickets as soon as it was announced back in June!

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I had a busy day and went for a power nap before catching my train into Birmingham. Mr. G. came home and found me still asleep. I haven’t moved so fast in a long time. I managed to catch the train and arrive at Waterstones just in time.

It was lovely (and not a surprise) to see so many poets there. They had a good crowd and there were lots of people I didn’t know too.

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Jane Commane (Nine Arches Press) introducing the poets and welcoming us to a party complete with Flamingo straws. Image  © 2017 Cynthia Miller

I was really excited when I saw who was on the list this year and there readings were all captivating.

Gregory Leadbetter has had all of his launches/readings whilst I have been elsewhere, so even though his book was released last year this was my first opportunity to hear him read it. He also hosted the event, using the book sleeves of the new publications to introduce each Guest Poet.

Greg Leadbetter 9 Arches

© 2017 Nine Arches

I thoroughly enjoyed his reading, I had heard several of the poems before at events but listening to a full set was a real treat. I will be putting ‘The Fetch’ on my birthday list. For a first collection it is extremely strong.

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Gregory Leadbetter’s first full collection of poems, The Fetch, brings together poems that reach through language to the mystery of our being, giving voice to silence and darkness, illuminating the unseen. With their own rich alchemy, these poems combine the sensuous and the numinous, the lyric and the mythic. 

Ranging from invocation to elegy, from ghost poems to science fiction, Leadbetter conjures and quickens the wild and the weird. His poems bring to life a theatre of awakenings and apprehensions, of births and becoming, of the natural and the transnatural, where life and death meet. Powerful, imaginative, and precisely realised, The Fetch is also poignant and humane – animated by love, alive with the forces of renewal.

‘The Fetch is a terrific, precise and dazzling collection. The whole book exemplifies a poetry of being that shows what is possible when we allow ourselves to be fully human in our perception and poetry.’ – David Morley
© 2017 Nine Arches Press
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© 2017 Stuart Bartholomew

I am a big fan of Angela France’s work and what is special about her latest collection ‘The Hill’ is I have been privy to the inside of the work for the past two years. I have done workshops using Archive materials with Angela, who has just spent the past two years deep in records of the past. I also know that the places she writes about are places she knows well. I missed her Launch in Ledbury and have resisted buying a copy of her book until I heard her read.

I particularly enjoyed the use of Anglo Language found in a short sequence of work in this book. I think place and people are two subjects that grip me,  for anyone who feels the same this collection is for you!

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Here, we encounter ghosts, foxes and ancient kings. We meet the protestors who, years before the Kinder Scout Trespassers, were standing up for their rambling rights and took the law into their own hands in 1902 when a landowner tried to enclose the hill they had walked for generations. And though history is never far from the surface, The Hill raises questions that are just as important today; who has the right to roam, whose land is it, anyway?

“these are words that make you ache for the place.” – Phil Smith, author of Mythogeography and On Walking

 © 2017 Nine Arches Press

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Rishi Dastidar’ Ticker Tape was released earlier this year. I have known of Rishi for a while but only met him in Ledbury Poetry Festival this year.

His set was fresh and different. His poetry is distinctive and the themes cover a lot we can recognise, modern poetry for the 21st Century. I enjoyed the wit of his work and the pleasure he takes in performing it.

From politics to pop, from the UK to California, wherever digital heartbeats flutter and stutter, Ticker-tape is a maximalist take on 21st century living. Rishi Dastidar’s first full collection showcases one of contemporary poetry’s most distinctive voices, delivering effervescence with equal servings of panache and whiplash-quick wit.

Here is sheer madcap ingenuity and also impressive breadth; ranging from odes of love to deconstructed diversity campaigns and detonations of banter’s worst excesses, plus appearances from ex-SugaBabes, a shark who comes to tea, to the matters of matchstick empires and national identity. Ticker-tape is bold, adventuresome and wry – an unmissable and irrepressible debut.

 © 2017 Nine Arches Press

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And finally –DFa0G2FXkAA8038

 © 2017 Nine Arches

Tania Hershman who claimed not to be a poet when I met her a few years ago. She is/was a published author who had started to cross to the poetry genre. It is a good idea to expand your repertoire and flex your writing muscles this way.

What is unusual is to have a first collection published by a well established publisher within a couple of years of starting out.

A huge achievement. A pleasure to listen to.

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 © 2017 Nine Arches

Tania Hershman’s debut poetry collection, Terms and Conditions, urges us to consider all the possibilities, and read life’s small print before signing on the dotted line. These beautifully measured poems bring their stoical approach to the uncertain business of our daily lives – and ask us to consider what could happen if we were to bend or break the rules, step outside the boundaries and challenge the narrative.
In feats of imagination and leaps of probability, falling simply becomes flying, a baby collects the data and scrolls through everything it sees, and there are daring acts of vanishing and recreation. Be wary, for even the evidence here often leads us astray. And in between this, Hershman’s precise poetry elegantly balances the known, unknown and unknowable matter of existence, love and happiness, weighing the atoms of each, finding just the exact words that will draw up the perfect contract of ideas.
Praise for Terms and Conditions:
‘This is a sophisticated debut collection by a writer already well known for her inventive short stories.’ – Kathryn Maris

‘There is a plenitude and a loss to Tania Hershman’s Terms & Conditions. A plenitude of tones and forms and linguistic playfulness, and a fine sense of loss that spins and passes through the poems.’ – Simon Barraclough 

‘In her debut collection of poetry, acclaimed writer Tania Hershman reveals the strange intricacies of science and our daily lives. Here, we find a cabinet of curiosities: Elvis and Marilyn, fire ants, cake and wind turbines. Hershman gifts the reader with collisions of grief and laughter, joy and curiosity. A wonder.’- Doireann Ní Ghríofa
‘Tania Hershman’s work is full of brilliant and passionate observations on dreams, falling, names and dancing, they are moving, loving meditations on how we move and love, what it feels like to be alive.’ – W.N. Herbert

It was a superb night and we all had time for mingling and chatting too. A delightful summer’s evening and the kind of party I really like nowadays… relaxed, with books and booze!

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 © 2017 Nine Arches

Review May 2017

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May was a busy month which included a mid-point glitch when we found ourselves offline and for a while lost all our resources from the laptop!

Week 1:

Sent some submissions, organised festival events and promoted Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders. There were several open mic events in Birmingham and Coventry that I didn’t make and a headline gig that was cancelled due to venue closure.

The team met for work on our show, 30-40-60. This was accepted in March for the Worcester LitFest and takes place next month on Sunday June 11th, 7pm at The Hive, Worcester.

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I was looking forward to Cheltenham Poetry Festival but due to work commitments was not able to make as much of the programme as hoped. I did, however, have a run of 9-10 days of events. Unless I am immersed in a festival, I try not to make bookings like this anymore as I appreciate the energy it requires.

My mini-tour started in Malvern with Carol Ann Duffy, I am so glad that I bought a ticket for this, it was a wonderful night of emotive, uplifting and hard hitting poetry. Last time I saw her, I bought books and although I love what the book co-operative are achieving I was fund poor, I had taken a copy off the shelf at home and hoped she’d be happy to sign. Carol Ann was and she didn’t mention nearly taking me out with the stage door at all!

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John Sampson was his wonderful self too. Loved his music this evening. Glad the Queen gave him away!

The following day I went to Stratford-Upon-Avon for a workshop with Angela France. It was lovely to reconnect with poets I have not seen for a while and the writing was fun. There are some nuts and bolts in my notebook ready to work on. I am finding writing hard at the moment. Maybe it is post-NaPoWriMo or just because I am busy that my mind has no time to settle.

I then went to Birmingham to see Rob Gee at The MAC. Rob and I were friends in Leicester, back when I was at university and discovering the Spoken Word scene for the first time. I have not seen him for nearly 20 years, (how did we get that old?). I met up with him before and after the show and it was as if there had been a gap of days not years.

I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of his show and the delivery. Enjoyed is a strong word as it deals with end of life/people in care. A dramatic framework that works so well and Rob (Pro) shows us how easy it can be to create multi-characters in one space.

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He first  produced this show a long time ago and has toured it internationally – I was so happy to catch it – and the best news for you? He is doing it again for Ledbury Poetry Festival. Go and catch it if you can – book tickets here 3rd July

Read all about it here FORGET ME NOT

As a student nurse, Rob spent three months on a Challenging Behaviour ward for people with late stage Alzheimer’s. Largely based on Rob’s experiences, many of the stories depicted in the show are true. Except the murders, obviously.

The show’s director Tara Gatherer has recently directed three acclaimed short films, Cafe des Fils de Putes, Self Portrait and The Group, the latter of which explored the theme of self-empowerment for older people. Forget Me Not is her first theatre show. © Forget Me Not

I was so wired after the evening. We are not leaving it 20 years until next time!

On Sunday 7th it was the much awaited Book Launch of C.S Barnes, for ‘The Women You Were Warned About’. It was an amazing afternoon of words and cake, stories and poems.

Charley Barnes Book

I was lucky enough to read it a while ago, as Luke Kennard and I were asked to endorse the book. It was still magical to hear Charley read her own words and I didn’t revisit these women on purpose before getting a copy at the launch.

Charley asked Claire Walker, Alan Durham, Polly Stretton and myself to share poetry on women at her launch. I had fun writing a few poems specifically for the event and reworked some NaPoWriMo poems from April that featured women and worked well. I was stupidly nervous about this performance. the pressure not to mess the launch up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and so did everyone else. You can read about it and buy your copy here.

Black Pear 

The Women You Were Warned About: Answers to Absent Questions,
is Barnes’s first full-length publication and, after having so much
fun with the women contained within these stories, she sincerely
looks forward to the possibility of working with such hideous
women again in the future. © Black Pear Press

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Week 2

I booked tickets for the National Writer’s Conference. I attended in 2014 and decided that I needed to be further into my career to truly benefit. Tickets for this event are not cheap, but with lots of keynote speakers and a choice of seminars to attend it IS worth every penny. One major pull/benefit of being in Room 204 is you are gifted a ticket to the conference, so I knew back in the Spring that I would be going. So excited. Delighted they have released the information too, I am bad enough with menus and always at these things want to go to absolutely everything – the NWC is set up so you only take 3/9 sessions. Maybe I can bribe some of the cohort to swap notes.

I also spent my writing day working on the multimedia element of our show, 30-40-60. I spent the writing time tidying – I told you I have writers block!

In the evening, I finally made it back to Licensed to Rhyme, my most local poetry night which I have not managed since last year. Steve Pottinger was headlining and Brenda Read-Brown came back for a guest spot. The other guest spots and open mics were all top quality and it was lovely to share a night of fine words. Also fabulous to have Fergus McGonigal back on the scene. Plus it is light enough for me to walk there now so I was able to sample the bar. I also shared my NaPowriMo Bop written about the EDL in Birmingham. I was unsure of this poem, but it went down well – next stop, performing it in Birmingham.

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The next day I had hoped to make it to Cheltenham for Compound Poets with Gram Joel Davies  and Hannah Linden, it seems a large amount of poetry friends made it over. Work had left me sadly lacking in time and energy so I headed over to Kidderminster instead for the final bow to Mouth & Music. Sarah Tamar organised a one off event to raise money for the People in Motion Charity (helping refugees) and it was a chance for a reunion with Peter Williams (PTR), Tim and Pam Scarborough, Coz and Sarah herself.

It was attended by a writing group Sarah works with and there were a diverse range of performances. It was good to share some work that is harder to hear. I often feel guilty reading social/political poetry at events where people have gone to be entertained. I shared some activist poetry written for events back in 2014/15 and work from my pamphlet, ‘Fragile Houses‘ as it was MHAW (Mental Health Awareness Week).

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I had news about a project I hoped to be part of (Room 204). Last year Croome Court produced Plum Lines an exhibition/project involving many poets I knew. At the time I had a yearning to do something with the National Trust too… you know the universe picks up on this stuff, right? I saw a call out for poets to get involved in the next project ‘Adam Speakes’ which involves writers from 4 key places and an artist, previously accepted.

I am delighted to be part of the Writing West Midlands team working on this. Unfortunately, a pinnacle workshop has landed on a day I should be elsewhere. You know how much I hate not being able to do everything simultaneously. Things will be re-arranged.

I have also booked my day to Croome Court to start the exploration. This project will last until November, there will be a special event on the 25th. I cannot wait to get stuck in and I am sure I will keep you all updated.

I missed HOWL – which was legendary and a great, regrettable shame. Featuring Anthony Anaxagorou (who I missed at Verve), Casey Bailey and Anne Gill. I needed some downtime in amongst all this busy and work really was zapping me of strength and time.

I finally made it to Grizzly Pear – Sean Colleti/ UoB (University of Birmingham) Spoken Word event. this event clashes with SpeakEasy and has yet never fallen on a day I could manage. I wanted to see Inua Ellams, who I had missed at BLF Spring Edition. I was sad to miss Sue Johnson at SpeakEasy, but until I invent that cloning machine, had no choice. I also missed the Indigo Dreams showcase at Cheltenham Festival featuring Jennie Farley, Mab Jones, Bethany Pope and Anna Saunders, which was an event I had hoped to make it across for. Again work had not left enough of a margin to make the road trip viable.

I was glad that I managed to see Inua and his brave acceptance of audience offering key words. His set was then built up from poems linking to that context. Tukaiisloveletter – I had seen at Verve and it was terrifying (in a good way) to see his dynamic, highly emotive, actioned performance. It was good to talk to him about it afterwards too.

I shared my EDL poem, which was responded to well.

The following morning I was not bright eyed or bushy tailed (after the late night gig, I had forgotten how this time frame does not affect the student population) for our 30-40-60 meeting, in fact I was still eating breakfast when we set to work.

It was exciting to see the programme in print for the first time. It was released earlier in the week and since Tuesday had seen lots of teasing photos like this one! WLF © Holly Magill

We worked on our scripting and rehearsed the show. Later on our laptop died after an automated update and took all our files with it. Friday night’s plans changed as we desperately ranted to Microsoft support via the Kindle and attempted to back up everything off our computer. We entered OfflineLife.

The next day I was working for Writing West Midlands, Spark Young Writers group in Worcester with our new Assistant Writer, Rick Saunders. It was a great session on journalism and was embraced well by the group. I got my hands on Worcester LitFest programmes and started distributing.

Following this I went to Cheltenham for John Hegley ‘New and Selected Potatoes‘, which I missed at The MAC last year. It was great to see him live again and another master showing me in this age of ‘you have to do more with your poems’ that actually just being on stage with them should be enough. He had us in stitches and was a joy to watch.

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LINK TO FOLLOW

The following day I was back over in Cheltenham for my 2nd Hegley Workshop, completely brilliant. Followed by walking to Waterstones in conversation and watching a delighted public as he hit the shop floor with poetry and his mandolin, *Steve, as fans will know.

It was a superb day.

I also had poems Anchored and Hallmarks up for MHAW on Sarah James’s website. They are now archived in the 2015/17 ‘With You In Mind’ Anthology. Read more about this project here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/mental-health-awareness-week-with-you-in-mind-anthology/

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Week 3: 

I joined a Screenwriting course online, with UEA and Future Learn. It has been brilliant, although somewhat challenging completing most of it on the Kindle. I have discovered that I know more than I thought I did. I have also been playing with a few ideas banked for the future.

I worked on the film element of 30-40-60 and missed both events I had pencilled in. A book launch for Nigel Hutchinson at Waterstones and HIT THE ODE. Rather disappointed with myself but I came home from work on Thursday and hour later than I should have with barely time to make it to the city. By arrival time I had gone to bed and slept right through to Midnight! I needed the rest.

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I also spent a day online (now that I mended the internet) at the Hay House World Summit. Back in 2015 I took every seminar and film going. This year, I have been more selective and currently have a notebook filled with 12 of the programmes available. It is free to sign up and a real annual blessing as far as I am concerned.

I spent the weekend organising festival events and reading. It was beneficial to take a break from performing and recover from the busy schedule last week.

I felt re-energised ready for the final busy push of May.

Week 4

I booked a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura, completed the UEA Screen Writing course,

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and booked tickets for a book launch in July.

On Tuesday I went to Poetry Alight in a new venue in Lichfield to catch poetry from Roy Marshall and Jane Commane. It was a brilliant (if not extremely hot evening). The new venue is lovely. It was great to catch up with Roy and Jane.

Photography by Ben Macnair

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I missed Kathy Gee headlining at Poetry Bites – that was also a wonderful evening so I have heard.

On Thursday evening I missed a Book Launch, Ali Oxbury – we met on the Writing For Children course in 2013 has had her poetry collection published. I would have loved to have been there – I have also spent the past 4 years wishing for bookings. You can’t have it all.

I was booked to perform alongside Kevin Brooke, Holly Daffurn, Kieran Davis and Alan Durham for the Poetry Salon. This was my 2nd year for Worcester LitFest & Fringe, I have lost count of the Poetry Brothel/Salons I have participated in… I think it may be 5 or 6. It was an enjoyable evening, concluded with a wonderful open mic. A precious evening for poetry organised and hosted by Charley Barnes.

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We had our final editing meeting/rehearsal for our 30-40-60 show. It is going to be great. I have since finished cutting the film and Kathy has created a good looking program of the acts. We have all our open mic-ers signed up – a publisher, a Laureate, published poets and a festival poet! It is going to be fun and happens in just 11 days time!

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Over the Bank Holiday weekend I attended the Book Launch for Diverse Verse 2, an anthology compiled by Richard Archer. It was a fantastic turn out at Southcart Books and lovely to see the new shop. A good few hours of immersive poetry & a buffet. Sadly the M5 was crawling at 30 m.p.h and I was delayed. I got there in time for the start but missed coffee (much needed) and a chance to buy the book (I have since ordered it). Wonderful that they sold every copy and a lesson to myself to ask for a reserved copy in future. The proceeds are for Charity and it has already raised lots.

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/diverse-verse-2-is-launched-and-ready-to-buy/

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/no-not-the-one-in-poland/

diverse verse 2

http://www.lulu.com/shop/richard-archer/diverse-verse-2/paperback/product-23201198.html

It was good to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

The Extra Days

I organised to write a review for a topnotch poetry magazine, received news that I am one of three finalists for the Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18 competition. Which happens next Friday, 9th June – the start of the LitFest. I am delighted by the news, excited and as nervous as can be!

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/05/30/and-the-worcestershire-poet-laureate-finalists-are/

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Last night was one of the most clashing for events- Charley Barnes was headlining at Cafe Grande Slam, Matt Windle at Spoken Trend, 42 in Worcester (my regular Wednesday night feast) was also happening and way back in April, I booked tickets for Stourbridge Library to go and see Jo Bell & Roy McFarlane.

I was an incredible evening & a pleasant way to finish the month.

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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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Vanguard Readings – Birmingham

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2016 has been a busy year, which is why the blog posts are fewer. My pamphlet has reached final proof stages after 17 months of hard work. The editing process is a new experience for me and due to the nature of the subject (core of which is family/growing up) it has taken time to cross that gauntlet between autobiographical recount and something interesting enough for people to read, feel, attach themselves to.

I am in final proof stages with my pamphlet now and it is a great  feeling.

There are gaps I want to fill on the blog and now I have started to work on INKSPILL, I want to fill the gaps before the next big project takes over.

VANGUARD READINGS

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Back in March I attended Vanguard Readings, in Birmingham. Richard Skinner is the man behind Vanguard. Vanguard Readings are hosted monthly in London from October to July, they feature new writers and established authors, 6 writers each read for 10 minutes.

Richard realised the need for expanding out and touring Vanguard Readings regionally.

vanguardI am glad he did. A whole evening being carried away by poetry. Readers; David Calcutt, Helen Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane, Emma Purshouse and Richard Skinner.

With plenty of time in the interval to mingle, chat and catch up. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came away feeling inspired and rekindled.

Vanguard Readings take place at The Peckham Pelican, SE London.

Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch – the terrible

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4th February

I finally got to meet Daniel Sluman, a poet who I have read since 2014, when I first discovered his work. The name will be familiar because last year after a post on social media about how different the poetry circuit is for disabled poets promoting their work, I decided to promote Daniel’s new collection ‘the terrible’.

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Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

In return Daniel gave up his time to feature as a Guest Writer (alongside Alison May and David Calcutt) in INKSPILL 2015, our annual online writing retreat. Find out more right here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/inkspill/

Daniel Sluman is a 29-year-old poet and disability rights activist based in Oxfordshire, UK. He gained a BA and MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, and has previously held editorial roles at Dead Ink, Iota, and the award-winning disability anthology FTW: Poets against Atos. He was named one of Huffington Post’s Top 5 British Poets to Watch in 2015, and his debut poetry collection Absence has a weight of its own was released by Nine Arches Press to critical acclaim in 2012. © Nine Arches Press 2016

I was excited about meeting the man behind the words and also getting my hands on a copy of ‘the terrible’ which I resisted buying online or at the 52 Book Launch. It is published by Nine Arches Press and you can buy your very own copy here.

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20terrible.html

the terrible daniel sluman 

Daniel Sluman’s bleak brilliance in the terrible is a masterclass in the power of poetry to confront difficult subject matter with accuracy and painstaking openness. These are rigorous and exacting poems, that dare to go to some of the darkest places and speak with stark precision.

These poems may be stripped down, intense and utterly frank, but they are not without deep reserves of sincerity and beauty. Sluman writes of the heady cocktail of being alive, where loss, love, sex, close shaves with mortality and sharp narratives of pain and suffering are examined in concise and humane clarity.

© Nine Arches Press 2016

I knew getting to the venue after work in rush hour traffic would be an issue, so I spent the night before setting up the SATNAV (also Christmas gift c/o Mr G), however due to road works and not shoddy data input on my part, it took me up to the M6, which I knew was wrong, but have also learnt that I get lost when I don’t blindly follow the SATNAV. This added extra time on, but I did manage to park relatively close by and although I missed most of Daniel’s opening set in reality I hadn’t missed most of the book launch, which was my fear. Jane Commane recorded the part I missed and you can hear it too.

This event was open to the public, I was delighted to be invited by Daniel. Gregory Leadbetter (the Institute for Creative & Critical Writing) and Jane Commane (Editor/Publisherr – Nine Arches Press) hosted flawlessly. There were readings from David Clarke and Angela France and the event sold out. We were in a lovely large room just off the library at Birmingham City University. There was a great, buzzy atmosphere and lots of poets I know, and some I didn’t, all listening carefully and enjoying the work of these three fine Nine Arches poets.

It was great to meet Emily Brenchi too (Daniel’s fiancée and administrator) -as she is not gaining financially helping with postage and packaging duties as Daniel’s book makes it way around the country/ world in brown envelopes, I thought I would mention her efforts here. Nearly as good as money or magic beans, I’m sure!

There were complimentary drinks too. I wish I could have indulged in a glass of wine to celebrate, but I was driving and had a bottle of water and bought the book instead.

I took photos of the event (on my kindle – see previous post) but have as yet, not uploaded them so I am borrowing these from Lania Knight.

 

© Lania Knight 2016

Meeting Daniel after all this time was brilliant. Generally in my pursuit of the writing world I have met poets and then discovered their work. This way round is unusual for me -it was so comfortable. By reading Daniel’s work and conversing online, we already knew each other on some level.

Hoping to see him and Emily in Cheltenham in a few months, as you can appreciate a book launch is like any major event for the main feature – everyone wants a piece of them and time and conversation are brief.

A strong second collection – a recommended buy from me, don’t just take my word for it – see the Ofi Press review and read David Clarke’s take on the evening too (see related links).

 

RELATED LINKS

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-guest-poet-interview-with-daniel-sluman/

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http://www.ofipress.com/slumandaniel.htm

http://athingforpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-terrible.html

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 

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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.

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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

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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)!

 

 

Plenty Fish By Sarah James Book Launch

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I was delighted to make Sarah’s launch for her latest book, Plenty Fish – published by Nine Arches Press on the 12th September at Park’s Café. I was already on a high from leading my first WWM group in Worcester.

It was a great night hosted by Fergus McGonigal.

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with Mike Alma, Kathy Gee, Ian Glass, Holly Magill performing their poetry too.

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Lots of top class poetry and a wonderful set by Sarah.

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It was a great night, I can’t wait to read this collection.

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Photographs Justin Leavesley © 2015

Getting Poetry Published – A Workshop by Jane Commane- Birmingham Literature Festival

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We are nearly at the end of all my articles about the Birmingham Literature Festival.

BLF Poetry workshop in publishing with Jane Commane – Editor, Nine Arches Press.

I had looked forward to this poetry workshop since I booked it in August. Sometime in early October, I was worried that I had perhaps booked onto a workshop for poet’s at an earlier stage in their careers. It was all about getting published and I have been published since 1991.

I originally thought it might be a good way of finding out up to date information and getting research without having to research. Lots has changed in the world of publishing since 2003, when I last wrote and was published.

The day finally came (after 3 days of full time work, travelling, planting the garden with Spring flowers, a book launch, an afternoon film and an evening poetry performance) I was really tired. I overslept. Snoozed through all alarms and was only woken by Mr G phoning me (coincidentally). I literally had 20 minutes to get up and ready and out on the road. I prayed that I would make it in time and find parking!

If it had been a free event I think I would have missed it and gone back to bed, but I couldn’t!

It was a great workshop (again the small poetry world) out of the handful of attendees I had met 2 of them at the writers network meeting a few weekends ago. We had some time to look at poetry magazines and a few names were dropped that I have highlighted in my notebook for some additional research. As far as the rest of the workshop – it consolidated what I already knew.

I already have a published track record and what I am attempting currently is to get some more up to date poetry published for the CV and then I am going to write my own collection.

It was fun, I feel right at home in writing workshops. writingrut

Art in the Heart – Book Launch – Birmingham Literature Festival

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Art in the Heart

Ikon Gallery book launch

Art in the Heart was a joint venture between art galleries and poets. Five commissioned local poets and five people who had their work selected from workshops they had attended with Philip Monks.

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They created a book of images and poems from over 20 Arts venues in the region.

The evening at the Gallery celebrated the book launch. I bought a copy. It is diverse and thought provoking. – I quite like the challenge of using the artwork in the book to create my own series of poems. blf art heart book

We heard about the project from guest speakers including the man responsible for actually producing the book. As passionate about typography as writers are about language and words!

Then were treated to 10 of the poets performing their work, upstairs in the gallery.

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It was a long way to go for such a short event. I think it was worth it too.

One of the poets published in this collection was Jane Commane (Editor at Nine Arches) and leader of the workshop I booked for Poetry Publishing. I completed all my own research the first time around. So much has changed if there are opportunities to hear others talk about it, I will.

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The evening started with a drinks reception and was a wonderful experience. I even managed to get a special Literature Festival biro.

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