Tag Archives: Jonathan Davidson

Verve Poetry Festival Day 2 – Part 1: Kim Moore, Mona Arshi and Katrina Naomi

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I really wanted to create this post Friday night, but I was too tired. I have had 7AM alarm calls and 36 hours clocked at Verve in contrast to 14 hours sleep over 3 nights. I really wanted to post whilst the adrenaline was my driving force because my memories and emotions are still connected at that point.

Day 2 was another all evening event including: Kim Moore, Mona Arshi, Katrina Naomi, Toby Campion, Vanessa Kissule, Skye Hawkins, Charley Genever and Kareem Parkins-Brown in two separate events, both of which I was really looking forward to.

The programme is amazing and there are so many poets involved. A year in planning and such a smoothly operated inaugural festival… so smooth in fact that some people have mistakenly thought it has been running for years. I keep telling the team what a great job they are all doing and there is the proof! ^^^

I bought a festival pass, but had I been ticketing each event I would definitely have bought tickets for the first 4 events of the festival (Thursday & Friday night).

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We started with a reading from Kim Moore, Mona Arshi and Katrina Naomi, three multi-award winning poets, this event was sponsored by Birmingham City University and introduced by Jonathan Davidson, who also ran the Q&A.

I enjoyed the readings and discovering more about the poets, drawing parallels with my own decisions. I enjoyed them talking about Birmingham and how much the city has changed. I remember when I first came back after a decade away and the whole town had found ‘sparkle’, I lost my way, most of my landmarks and subways had disappeared.

Last time I heard Kim Moore read was at Swindon Poetry Festival last year. Mona Arshi also read at Swindon, which is where/when I discovered her and her beautiful work. I was in a Master Class with Daljit Nagra and wasn’t able to meet her properly or buy her book as we had to rush back to our notebooks.

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Kim Moore read from The Art of Falling, Seren Books. I loved hearing her teaching the trumpet days stories, I know what it is to have 30 children all with violins and at least 8 of them attempting to make the worst noise because the last thing they want to do is play it! Kim and I have both made huge decisions leaving full time teaching to be poets. I really wanted to buy her book in Swindon but I bought so many that I had to draw the line somewhere. I particularly liked ‘All the Men I Never Married’.

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Mona Arshi read from Small Hands, Pavilion Poetry Liverpool University Press. Mona talked about the form used with poems in this collection, the ghazal, originally an Arabic form, her passion evident. She shared ‘Hummingbird’ an early poem of hers that she has stopped reading. She talked about writing about her twins and at the mention of the ‘Jinn Spirit’ a decoration fell down. A lingering line ‘essence of girl darkness…’

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Katrina Naomi was my wild card, my new to me poet. I love festivals for this reason. It was a delight to hear her read. She opened her set with a poem about her mother, which focussed on one of those 70s swimming hats with the flowers all over them. Katrina read from The Way the Crocodile Taught Me also Seren Books.

Listening to all three women sparked inspiration. I am hoping to write some Nan poems, play with some new forms, look at using repetition successfully and probably some poems about boys.

These poets gave us their real insides tonight, I do not just mean ‘spilled guts’, I am talking about the honesty and truth. They could have chosen far less exposing poems to share but they gave us the blade edge.

Jonathan Davidson asked questions at the end and we heard from each poet about how they got into poetry. Mona returned to it during her difficult pregnancy (I returned through illness), Katrina said she fell into poetry by mistake (which is what I always say about teaching) and Kim was squeezing it in around the day job (which is my current transition, although I have graduated  with book ending my week with writing days).

“It’s an exciting adventure.” Kim Moore – on poetry.

“Poetry is transformative. Poetry discovers you, you have to write it. It’s a compulsion.” Mona Arshi

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At the end I planned to talk to all three poets. Which I did. I also bought copies of all three books using Christmas money.

 

RELATED LINKS

http://literatureworks.org.uk/features/katrina-naomi/

Birmingham Literature Festival 2015

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This is the 17th year for Birmingham Literature Festival organised by Jonathan Davidson Director of Writing West Midlands.

It was the first literature festival (apart from Hays) that I attended in 2013 and I practically spent the whole season in the library at events. Last year I was fortunate enough to be chosen as 1 of 4 poets who were commissioned by Naked Lungs to write and perform at the festival. This year, I booked my tickets as soon as they were available, due to other performance commitments I was unable to manage many events this year.

Tickets are still available and the festival runs until 17th October.

Short and Sweet: Short Fiction Salon

This was an event hosted by fiction writer and Heart Breakfast presenter Rachel New, Short & Sweet allows you to dip your toe into the water of live literature, and enjoy readings we select for you – including a story from Rachel herself written especially for this event.

Rachel New is a veteran of short fiction challenges – having survived two unusual residencies at Birmingham Literature Festivals past – Ten Day Sentence in 2013 and One Page Wonders in 2014. Both these experiences saw Rachel writing against the clock, responding to prompts from the wider festival audience and producing huge volumes of creative fiction. Rachel brings this expertise, as well as her ongoing PhD studies in creative writing, to the Short & Sweet arena for performances and discussion.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

It was a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the stories. The writers were;

Liam Brown

William Gallagher (who recited his whole story from memory)

Lisa Blower

Pauls Bankovskis guest of BLF 15

Jan Watts

Garrie Fletcher

& Rachel New

It is my pleasure to know some of these writers and I loved discovering stories from voices and pens I haven’t  come across too.

BLFest

Rita Dove and Guests

We are delighted to welcome Rita Dove, the former U.S. Poet Laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner, to give a rare poetry reading in the UK. A mesmerising performer, Rita Dove’s work covers a range of subjects, each of them addressed with wit and verve.

Her most recent poetry collections are Sonata Mulattica and American Smooth. She is editor of the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry and is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Among her honours are the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, making her the only poet to ever receive both medals.

As a prelude to Rita Dove’s reading, we present three short poetry performances. Jo Bell, Canal Laureate, will be reading from her eagerly awaited new collection, Kith. She will be joined by Birmingham Young Poet Laureate 2014-15, Serena Arthur and by Oliver Sullivan, a young performer from the region who was runner up in this year’s Poetry by Heart Competition. 

Sponsored by the University of Birmingham.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

This event was a real treat, it was a delight to listen to Rita Dove and discover her poetry. Jo Bell opened the evening with a great set and rapport with the audience. Serena Arthur provided us with a confident performance of her poems, including one of the poems she won the Young Poet Laureate with and as for Oliver Sullivan, such talent remembering classical poetry.

I was already on a high after NPD events the evening before and my night in Birmingham topped up my poetry fuel nicely.

I am a little sad that I cannot attend as much as the festival as I would have liked this year. I have had to cancel one of the tickets as I have been asked to cover as an Assistant Writer for Writing West Midlands on the same day.

WWM PINK

RELATED LINKS

http://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/season/birmingham-literature-festival

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/birmingham-literature-festival-2015-whats-9663804

http://visitbirmingham.com/what-to-do/festivals-events/art-photography-culture/birmingham-literature-festival/

http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/event/birmingham-literature-festival-2015/

Writing West Midlands

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Back at the very beginning of my writing life in 2013 I attended a WWM (Writing West Midlands) network meeting in Hereford at the Courtyard Theatre, later in the year I went to another one in Oswestry to meet Simon Thirsk (Bloodaxe) & Ian Billings.

WWM

At this meeting I talked to Jonathan Davidson and by January 2014 I had confirmation of working in a voluntary capacity as an Assistant Writer for WWM in Worcester with Ian MacLeod – a Science Fiction writer.

I spent a year and half working in this role and this September I became as the Lead Writer for the Worcester Senior Group of Young Writers, 12-16 yr olds.

leeallenphotographycom WWM

On September 12th I led my first session with this group. It was incredible!

My new Assistant Writer is amazing and eager and we had a good number of participants. The next session I have planned is even better.

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We are rallying for more members so if you are local to Worcester or know people who are, we are interested in having new members. Age 12 -16

Please contact Joanne Penn at Writing West Midlands

Apply through the website http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/

or contact Joanne Penn (Learning and Participation Manager)

Writing West Midlands

Unit 204, Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham,  B9 4AA

T: 0121 246 2774

WWM PINK

Sessions are held once a month, £6.00 per session and classes run inline with the academic year Sept – June – you can join at any point in the year.

We meet in the Oasis Room at The Hive (library) in Worcester.

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RELATED LINKS:

Where it all began – WWM Network Meeting Oswestry – I cannot remember the shoes I was throwing away – but in 2015 my poetry shelves creak with the amount of support I have shown to others (which I course hope will be returned to me on the launch of my own pamphlet)!

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/my-writing-life-vs-sleep/

Poetry Wrap 7

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This week I have mainly been researching markets, which takes so long – but is a habit I need to get back into.

I also logged my writing days and have discovered that I have had less than a month so far this year and that 40% of that time was dedicated to workshops, everything I have managed has been across just over 2 weeks, so instead of feeling frustrated and beating myself up over delaying schedules and losing out on opportunities, I am now proud of everything I have managed to accomplish in such a small window of time.

This year has been strange, I have worked more and Mr G was working away for 3 months so weekends were our only time together, there have been patches of no writing at all and certainly a lack of submissions. I am still pushing, working hard and succeeding though and do not wish to moan over lost time knowing that plenty of writers out there still work full time and have to squeeze time at the keys into evenings and early morning sessions.

I needed to see it – track the data – to find out what was happening as these feelings are new to me. Having spent the best part of 2 years on an ultimate high! Now I have seen what has gone on I can plan to turn it around in the next 6 months. Nothing like a Midsummer to take stock! writing space 2 mote carlo This is not my writing space or view, it is the view of someone I completed the University of Iowa poetry course I did last month. Lucky, hey? It captures how I feel post-analysis.

This week I had just one gig in the week and a whole weekend of performing;

There is a month long festival in my hometown which tends to lean towards classical and choral music more than anything else, but there was one open mic/ acoustic event on Wednesday (also my eldest nephew’s birthday… he reaches double figures)! I went down to check it out and perform.

Friday night was Debbie Aldous’s new night in Birmingham at the Two Towers Brewery, where everyone performs in  open mic spots.

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Spoken Word and More… and there was plenty of ‘more‘. Lots of stand up, singing, musicians – including a medieval harpist and a Polish Violinist – who was the exceptional opener for the night. As well as storytelling and poetry. It was a challenging gig, not an audience who particularly focussed on poetry.

The micro brewery, warehouse setting was interesting and so was my re-calculated sat nav journey. It took about twice the time it should have to get there. An entertaining night that was worth the late night and all performers received beer tokens and a chocolate roll!

Zuzana Klementova harp Zuzana Klementova me Zuzana Klementova tom Zuzana Klementova1 Jo © Zuzana Klementova 2015

It was also Rage Against Racism this weekend down at the Custard Factory – mainly musical acts, with chosen poets performing on Saturday night. I had already been booked for Droitwich Festival so didn’t apply. I wasn’t able to go and support the gig as I was at my own, but Rangzeb took some amazing photos and Ddotti Bluebell has commented on how great the night was. I think it is an important cause – so even though I wasn’t there – here is a flavour of the evening;

Thank you to all the poets who came last night to support such a great cause & the poetry was truly thought provoking & emotional. As Rangzeb Rango said it diluted the poison of racism & expressed a special unity of people through art…. Big Up the Word Up! Crew . © Ddotti Bluebell 2015

All excellent poets and performers.

RAVE

Left to Right: Ddotti, Jasmine, Kamil, Antony, Carys, Sammy, Kurly

RAVE 8 Kamil

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rave 6 Kurly

Rave 4 Ddotti

Rave 3 Stephen

RAVE 2 Carys

Rave 7 Jasmine

Rave 5 Sammy

Live Lit at Park’s Café as of Droitwich Festival Arts Week was a fantastic event and I felt privileged to be a part of it.

Live Lit, featured 9 poets and we each had 10 minute performance slots – a great way to practise for the QC Compere Tour on the 10th July (ever closer)! It was a great night of poetry and fun with friends. Performers included;

• Fergus McGonnigall (previous Worcestershire’s poet laureate) & MC
• Heather Wastie (Worcestershire Poet Laureate )
• Jenny Hope
• Math Jones
• Mike Alma
• Bridget & Malcolm Wakeman
• John & Pauline Franks
• Nina Lewis
• Polly Robinson
• Ruth Stacey
• Sarah James (runs the Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza)

A great night organised by Malcolm Wakeman.

Snippets of reviews for the night;

A Fantastic success – well done Fergus, Malcolm and all of the performers. Angela says it was the best so far! – Peter Hawkins
A big thank you to everyone who took part. A most enjoyable evening. Malcolm Wakeman
Lovely evening — will look forward to doing it all again with good friends. Polly Robinson
Start to finish – poetry, music and prose – a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening, in the company of some very special people. Thanks everyone for another Droitwich ‘Special’. Mike Alma
I think we are all looking forward to next year’s already!

Followed by a great meal at a local restaurant where we had plenty of time to chat and laugh – and eat! I love a Poet Social – we don’t organise them nearly enough! I will plan an after party for my future book launch!

Today I am headed out to Digbeth to check out the new venue for Sunday Xpress, at The Edge – Foundation Arts space – which was a magical venue and for the first time performers who are not musicians were really listened to! I much prefer it at this new venue, I tried to support them as much as I was able in the past, usually Sunday is an allocated home/rest day… now though – being at Sunday Xpress makes me feel on top of the world, so I hope to be back soon to share in everyone’s artistic talent! Lots of new faces too, so that’s a bonus for them.

Now we have had a take-away tea (Mr G isn’t coming away with me on the 1st holiday I have in 2 years, so we wanted to do something special. I had hoped to spend the evening together, it is already 9pm and I still have to submit poetry and pack my suitcase. I am very excited about going away – especially during term time – it’s the first time in 17 years I am able to do that!

My week off from blogging will give you time to catch up with all the posts.

But before I go… in other news…

PUBLISHED

Talking of submissions and projects there are two more exciting pieces of news I need to share in this week’s wrap. After my research at the beginning of the week I found a new creative outlet in Visual Verse, they post an artists work and you have an hour to write about it and post your poetry. I love creating this way and can often be found musing over some image waiting for visual verse of my own to appear, the wait is never long. They published my poem, it is a pleasure to have poetry displayed alongside such great company, the chapter is a great read, treat yourself to some coffee time!

http://visualverse.org/submissions/shame-in-the-city/

Here is the link to read the chapter of verse for yourselves, I performed ‘Shame in the City’ last night for the first time, good reactions. We have all been there on one side of the line or the other, I think!

http://visualverse.org/

52 – THE BOOK!

The second exciting piece of news is that the 52 Anthology has made it to press, cannot wait to pick my copy up in Stratford in July. It is £7.99 and will be a great read, guarantee it. This is the result of Jo Bell’s 52 project in 2014. Published by Nine Arches Press, a labour of love which should sell really well. On the back of the hundreds, thousands of people who have been touched by 52, Jo Bell’s recently launched ‘Kith’ is already on it’s 2nd publication run! I have a feeling her last collection ‘Navigation’ had a second run of copies pre-52 as well. It could just be the magic of Jo Bell and the weight in her words of course! Poetry Goddess to many people.

52 the book

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20very%20best%20of%2052.html

Various Authors

Chosen by Jonathan Davidson, with foreword by Jo Bell and Norman Hadley

ISBN: 978-0-9931201-7-6

Price £7.99

Date: 14th July 2015

Format: Paperback

Jo Bell’s 52 project started with a simple idea: Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going. In the 52 weeks that followed, this global workshop group became a phenomenon. Hundreds of poets took up the challenge and their poems swept the board of poetry prizes, publications and personal successes. Thousands of poems were written and shared. This selection by poet Jonathan Davidson offers a taster from the poetry banquet of 52.

“Poetry changes lives, both in the reading and the writing. The 52 project brought together well-established poets with rising names, and generated world-class work. We wrote a poem a week – enjoy reading them, one week at a time.” – Jo Bell, founder of 52.

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Have a good week everyone and

keep writing x

From Assistant to Lead – Working for WWM 2014-15

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The Goal: to be a Lead Writer (14/9/13) – Lead Writer (4/3/15)

and lots of fun in between, Mentoring and covering in Lead Role and working as Assistant Writer in other groups.

leeallenphotographycom WWM

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

In September 2013, I met Jonathan Davidson (Chief Executive), for the fourth time at a Writing West Midlands (WWM) networking event. After 9 months of writing, attending workshops and classes, I had come to the realisation that although I can write, I was meant to be a poet. Despite working hard at writing for 9 months my only successful submissions had been poetry. I cannot believe that I could have forgotten that I was a poet.

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BACKSTORY

I started writing at 12 and my final poem at Middle School was not only read at the Presentation Evening (funnily enough there is a photo in existence of myself and JV Birch standing side by side reading and now both of us have embarked on this true calling of writing after lifetimes spent doing other things) but it was also used in my 1st year of High School (Yr 9 nowadays) with the GCSE group as an analysis and reading task. BOOM!

2 years later I had my first poem published and for the rest of my YA life I had poems published. Then I left for university and started performing at open mics for a few years. After graduating I ran some workshops in schools and took a creative writing course. I continued to be a published poet for a few years before retraining as a teacher took over my creative mind and left me time poor.

2013

Over a decade later (close to 15 years) I re-emerged. Remembered I was a butterfly, opened my wings, closed my eyes and jumped.

Anyway there I was at the Network meeting, with Simon Thirsk and Ian Billing and I got talking to Jonathan, I told him of my future plans and he asked me ‘why wait?’ – to which there is no answer. I registered my interest in becoming an Assistant Writer there and then, funnily enough later that evening I was to meet Ruth Stacey and Jenny Hope who both work for WWM.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/my-writing-life-vs-sleep/

A link to the original blog post 14/09/2013 WWM

It is worth mentioning that all you lucky writers whose books I have bought, you have Jonathan to thank for that too, as he imparted this wisdom;

SUPPORT FELLOW WRITERS’ – WHEREVER IT IS POSSIBLE, this includes BUYING their books. We all know how important those sales are post publishing. Offer more than a congratulations if you can.

My application was confirmed two months later, in November and I had an interview at the Custard Factory mid-January. Where I was offered the opportunity to work as Assistant Writer to Ian MacLeod at the Senior (12-16) group.

Original blog post https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/my-new-opportunity-writing-work/

SEP: Offered my services

NOV: Application accepted

JAN: Interview and success

FEB: Started as an Assistant Writer

WWM

ASSISTANT WRITER

I worked with Ian for the remainder of the academic year Feb – July 2014 a total of 6 sessions. After the Summer I returned and have just finished working with Ian for a year.

MENTOR

In NOV 2014 I was approached and asked to work as a Mentor (1 to 1) along with Emma Purshouse and William Gallagher. It was a pilot project which ran for 3 months, DEC- FEB. it was a great opportunity.

FEB – JULY 2014 Assistant Writer for Ian

NOV 2014 Asked to join mentoring pilot programme

DEC – JAN 2015 Mentoring Role

SEP – JUNE 2015 Assistant Writer for Ian

MARCH 2015 Asked to become a Lead Writer

From SEP 2015 I will be the Lead Writer of YW Senior Group.

LEAD WRITER

On March 4th I was asked to be a LEAD WRITER (my initial goal), I accepted without knowing which group I would be placed with. I am delighted to be taking over the reins from Ian with a small group he and I know well.

We hope to expand the group numbers and I have so many ideas to try out with them. I am very excited!

WWM PINK

In the true spirit of giving and as a huge thank you to the man himself… let me share this:

Jonathan Davidson has a new book out! JD book Humfrey Coningsby and here is a great blog, Nadia Kingsley is another great poet, where you can read all about it;

http://web236.extendcp.co.uk/fairacrepress.co.uk/tag/jonathan-davidson/

52 Meet and Perform for the Stratford Poetry Festival

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52 The Event

52 by bernie briggs  © Bernie Briggs 2014

 

Jo Bell – creator of 52 and all round people’s goddess of poetry was this year’s resident poet for the Stratford Festival. She organised the virtual poets of 52 to meet up for a picnic at Hall’s Croft (the house of her residency) on Sunday 20th July, I cannot believe it was just 9 short days ago. Writing this blog post (which won’t look like it), has taken hours and brought all the excitement back to the surface again! Julie Gardener likened it to that strange state when you wake up from an anesthetic, relieved you are alive and a little out of your body and mind.

It was a superb day. The word of 52 has spread across the Midlands well, I had a small part to play in that – and so many local known poets were there – it was great to meet all the other 52ers, although I felt a bit anxious on the day (find me a poet who didn’t!) and didn’t mix as well as I wish I had. There were people I didn’t even get to talk to and some of them regularly comment on the poetry I post. Shame on me. All in the same boat a bit by the time we got to the pub at the end of the day hot, sweaty, sun burnt and thriving on adrenalin  there were 3 different parts of the pub people sat in so mixing with everyone was somewhat challenging – even saying goodbye to Jo at the end of the day was no mean feat as she was wedged between balcony and table – perhaps she was fed up of hugging people by then!

Shall I start at the beginning?

52 raffle  52 Jess Davies Halls croft© Jess Davies 2014

We all met in the gardens at Hall’s Croft for a picnic, Jo had moving speeches to make and treated us all to a poem. Then there was a free raffle, with bountiful journals and poetry/ writing books being gifted and some silly prizes too. I won the little felt penguin who is now sitting quite happily on the book shelves surrounded by all the books I have bought this past 10 months back in my poetry skin (helping the poetry ecology as Jo would say)! 52 picnic 3

Jo had some very special socks made by Liz Williamson, to go with her sock poem 52 photo by Bernie Briggs and during the speeches at certain points Jo sported a colander on her head in honour of Trish Traynor who sports one on her profile picture. Trish couldn’t make the event. Glasses were raised in a toast to absent friends (not dearly departed) just those who couldn’t get to Stratford for this event.52 Liz's magic socks Williamson 52 jo by rachael clyne

Then the mingling began. Excitement grew as our names were put into the colander (there were 54 poets in attendance I think) room to hear 20 of us at The Shakespeare Centre, for the ‘Poetry from 52’ event. Open to the public and many attended who weren’t 52 picnickers. The biggest audience at the centre for the poetry festival apparently.

52 picnic52 picnic452 picnic Hilary52 picnic A52 picnic 5 jess davies52 picnic 3

52 Polly and I52 Jess davies152 Holly Magill, Elizabeth Williamson, Ruth Stacey, Tessa Lowe, Carly Etherington, Julie Gardner, Polly Robinson and Nina Simon

Most of us didn’t even see the names coming out but later on Jo announced them. I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t lucky enough to win the beautiful journal but I did win a spot for the 52 event.

52 colander of joy52 tess and i The Lucky Dance Tessa Lowe and I performed around it might have helped!

I had only taken 2 short poems to choose from – some 52ers had taken many and there was a flurry of paper and gadgets as people decided what to read. There was also a reserve list of poets. As poets are lovely creatures, we all kept our turns short, avoided hefty introductions and left the stage with enough space for all the reserve list and more – some on the spot (brave) poets performed.

The Shakespeare Centre – 52 Do Stratford

© Sarah Bryson 2014

© Sarah Bryson 2014

It was an amazing hour listening to entertaining and touching poetry, we have spent the year reading it and critiquing it from the safety of a screen but watching the poet’s perform their own words was beyond a powerful experience.

The Poet’s who performed were;

Carly Etherington, Natalie Baron,  John Mícheál Alwyine-Mosely, Sally Evans, Julie Gardner, Ruth Stacey, Nina Lewis, Rachael Clyne, Janice Windle, Carole Bromley, Nicky Phillips, Sue Simms, Simon Williams, Donell Dempsy, Nina Simon, Norman Hadley, Kathy Gee, Bernie Briggs, Tom Sastry and John Lanyon.

52 Carly Etherington 52 Natalie Baron 52 John Mícheál Alwyine-Mosely 52 sally Evans 52 Julie Gardner 52 Ruth Stacey 52 me

52 Rachael Clyne 52 Janice Windle 52 carole bromley 52 nicky phillips 52 sue simms 52 Simon Williams 52 Donall Dempsey

52 Nina Simon 52 Norman Hadley 52 Kathy Gee 52 Bernie Briggs flatpack furniture 52 Tom Sastry 52 John Lanyon

Then we had time for the Poets in Reserve;

Clive Dee, Sarah Watkins, Sarah Bryson, Hilary Robinson,

52 clive dee 52 sarah watkinson 52 sarah Bryson 52 Hilary Robinson

And finally due to no one taking too much time or limelight (egos left melting on picnic rugs), we even had time for some wonderful on the spot poets and I think you can tell they enjoyed a surprise chance of sharing their 52 poetry.

Myfanwy Fox, Susan Taylor,& Tessa Lowe

52 Myfanwy Fox 52 Susan Taylor 52 Tessa Lowe

52 shakespeare centre252 Shakespeare centre52 shakespeare centre 352 shakespeare centre 552 shakespeare centre 4

And the only way to follow that…. a Flash Mob Shakespeare style!

After the event at the centre we all met outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace (next door) for a Flash mob!

52 Hilary Robinson Flash mob

This flash mob was rather Stratford in style, in as far as it was announced and rehearsed! We read Sonnet 18 – another wonderful experience.

And to round off the event we all headed for the Dirty Duck pub down by the river,52 a crocodile of poets by myfanwy for more food, drinks and conversation. I didn’t really want to leave but Mr G had promised to cook a roast dinner and I had visions of mine being eaten too! So, eventually I had to tear myself away.

52 river pubJulie-Boden, Mary-Norton-Gilonne, Bernie-Howley, Roz-Goddard-and-Julie-Gardner

52 hardcore party goers

The 52 website – formerly ONLY for poetry and DEFINITELY not for conversation threads was inundated with euphoric poets singing everyone’s praises and raving about the spectacular day and hardly mentioning sunburn at all!

A joy and honour to be part of such a talented group of poets!

52 Jo bell Many thanks, Jo Bell.

I must mention Jonathan Davidson from Writing West Midlands as he organised the Poetry Festival and made sure events ran smoothly! Great job, Sir and Mary Norton Gilonne, who came across from France to celebrate this special day! WOW! 52ers travelled from all the UK, I was lucky to live so close!

Here for your viewing pleasure is one of the performances.

 

52 Donall Dempsey

 

Donal

Donal Dempsey performing his Proverb poem to the delight of the audience in The Shakespeare Centre.

 

Writing West Midlands – Network Meeting for Writers

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Copyright © 2014 Lee Allen

Copyright © 2014 Lee Allen

Last week WWM (Writing West Midlands) had a launch event, to showcase Lee Allen’s new design, featuring many poets and writers I know or at least have met, at other events.

 

What a week it has been! Last week went REALLY slowly, this week has shot by. This evening saw the first of 2 meetings for all the writers who work for Writing West Midlands in creative writing groups for young people. It was an inspiring meeting and great to chat to everyone – I would say network – but happily I knew most of the writers there!

I have been at work all day and by the end of that I felt like I should /could just go to bed and sleep. I also had to forego SpeakEasy for the second time this year! SEThe set list this month looked good, including the Headliner, Ash Dickinson. No doubt May will roll around before I have time to blink!

The meeting was a great experience, spending a few hours with so many writers in one room. I hadn’t realised Hayley Frances had starting working for WWMit was lovely to see her again this evening and she told us about a project ‘Page Talk’ I may be getting my teeth into next month (May), of course I will be blogging about it.

And as always I didn’t have much of a chance to talk to everyone I wanted to – in fact I turned around and half the people had left!

I have several pages of scribbled notes, a ton of inspiring ideas and a few emails to fire off as a result of this meeting at the

custard factory

It was a great way to start my Easter Holidays – 18 days in my writing skin 🙂

AND I got to test drive my SATNAV gifted last night (thanks again Mike!) – and even learnt how to make the volume work. Happy with today’s achievements.

My New Opportunity! Writing Work

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I am so excited I can barely write this post! I HAVE A WRITING JOB! frugal cafe creative commons champers

Back in my past (the 1st time I attempted life as a writer in my early 20’s, a few years before I ran out of money to buy bread) I worked as a writer.

  • I wrote for performance (having graduated from a Performing Arts Degree),
  • I worked as (a mostly unpaid) performance poet
  • I already had a decades worth of YOUNG WRITER publishing credentials from the age of 15, in print form (as the internet and e-publishing were still things of the future…) Well the internet existed (I’m not that old!) but people wouldn’t catch on and start using it personally in the way we do nowadays for some time.
  • I spent my spare time training the writer in me and attended a fabulous creative writing course in Leicester, in a place I now believe is Creative Writing college.

This is where I met real writers who all told me I had what it takes and to keep going! (1998)

(This is the point I should had started sofa hopping or squatting (soon to be made illegal at the time) as gone were the days artists could sign on in between jobs) the money I achieved through royalties and the odd gig wouldn’t cover rent and before long I took a serious last look at my dream and started moving towards being financially independent!

This is the point I ran out of food money. The irony was writing press releases and doing some free PR for other performers (who were big at the time and now are MUCH bigger!) was my last freelance gig before I jacked it in and drowned my sorrows in applying for a 2nd degree in an area that would PAY the other end of university with a job.

In the meantime I spent some of my free time volunteering in schools and working as a Workshop Poet in schools with Key Stage 2. It was here that I decided training in Nursery Education was costly and would take time, I could be a teacher, earn more and have fun like this (workshops) everyday! (DELUDED!)

The rest is history and although I have done lots besides teaching (including running a fabulous community website that was no. 1 in the rankings for most of the time it existed, a site this blog is named after) the rest has mainly being steps away from where I truly want to be.

My true self, the writer, the poet.

I stepped back into myself in January 2013 and started making a go at realising my dreams before it is too late and all my hair turns grey!

(Not that that is too late, if you are reading this with a head full of grey hair, GO FOR IT!) It is never too late apparently.

So with heart on my sleeve and dreams in a backpack I set off along the yellow brick road determined to make this work – inspired by London Olympics I hatched a vague 16 year plan – and jumped!

Many successful (and it has to be said also stupid) people have taken RISKS – you have to be in it to win it and all that… my career hung on 60- 80 hour weeks, 50 weeks a year. I couldn’t write around that, there was barely time to sleep as it was. I actually pushed too hard for too long and my struggle became illness in 2012. It was from this dark place that I had time to listen to myself and start taking leaps of faith (on the medication I really wasn’t thinking about negative consequences) I was jumping because I had no choice – there was no longer a bridge there. The sign said NO OTHER WAY —->

Work went part-time towards the end of 2012. Although I didn’t realise it at the time this allowed me a step towards doing what I now do, my income already slashed by 50% and here I am still, and I can afford bread! By the end of the summer 2013 I decided to drop off the career ladder (I had become stuck anyway as I am scared of heights! I would be great on top of a ladder but you will never get me up there to prove it to you!) I jumped off. I know writing pays peanuts and poetry not even nuts, kernels if you’re lucky! So I needed a financial plan and this is where flexibility in my career (which was a factor for qualifying for teaching to begin with!) came into play. I signed with 2 agencies. 1 of which not only gives me plenty of work, but also (within 7days of signing up) found me a regular cover job, 1 day a week and just before Christmas I signed for another school too, so I now have 2 days a week confirmed and the rest of the week I am either the writer or the teacher depending on my last minute bookings. It is great because I have 100% flexibility 3 days a week and generally manage to be involved in all sorts of things in the writing world that I simply used to miss because I was at work.

The extra salary loss means I can’t just go around buying blf irregular 3 pairs of shoes at a time anymore, but my wardrobe and shoe racks were bulging anyway. And actually I don’t miss shopping (well okay, I do, just a little bit) now I write and perform again after 15 years away and that makes me happier than any heel or skirt ever did!

WHAT’S THE BIG NEWS????

In 2013 I spent the year training, workshops, classes, network events, I met lots of people and hoped to build up contacts, I did and better than that I made friends (awwwwww)! book launch 19

By September I had been published again and decided that Poetry IS my thing. It has claimed me. I can write across genres but poetry is where my writing heart is. I haven’t looked back since. (As you know from all my posts about Open Mic night’s which started back in October with Julie Boden.) listen-ere-desert-townhouse-for-oct-2013-copy1In September I also spoke to Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands WWM about the possibility of paid work as a writer. Having already taken classes they ran and gone to a few events I wondered if I could be involved somehow. To be honest I was thinking in a few years once I have up to date writing credentials. Jonathan’s response was, why wait? What about now? How about working with some of our young writers?

I knew my teaching career wasn’t a complete waste of time 😉

In November it was confirmed that I could work as an Assistant Writer (with the View of becoming a Lead Writer in the future) on what used to be called Writing Squads but are now called  Write-On-2013-300x287By the end of the year I wasn’t sure this opportunity had been confirmed as I had to go through an official application, systems had changed and I worried that this opportunity was about to fall out of my grasp.

Today I had a meeting custard factory in the City and I am DELIGHTED to confirm I have the job of Assistant Writer, for the 12– 16 group which is new for 2014 and is led by Ian MacLeod.  I start in February! The-Hive__Supported_CMYK-300x253

WRITING JOB (2013) REALITY (2014)