Tag Archives: Jane Commane

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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