Tag Archives: Library of Birmingham

People Power – Reverse the Cutbacks: Library of Birmingham

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https://www.change.org/p/birmingham-city-council-reverse-the-cuts-to-the-library-of-Birmingham

Please click this link and help us to petition against library cuts, feel free to re-blog and share across social media.

Petitioning Cllr Ian Ward Birmingham City Council

Reverse the cuts to the Library of Birmingham

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Supporters

We seek your help to defend the Library of Birmingham [ LoB ]. Birmingham City Council have proposed in their most recent budget proposals a massive cut to the LoB of at least £1.5 million for the next financial year. More damage is planned. In the succeeding year more than DOUBLE is planned at a huge £3.3 million per year cut.

The LoB is an award winning architecture designed state-of-the -art modern library. It is fit for the 21st century & the people of Birmingham.

Here in Birmingham we have invested £188 million in this library & the future of this great city.

This is a Library opened just over a year ago in a glorious fanfare of praise & loved by the million visitors who have enjoyed it’s breathtaking facilities & it’s views of Birmingham from the wonderful viewing platforms giving a panoramic take on the cityscape.

This library opened by a Nobel Laureate – Malala Yousafzai who lives in this city & whose memorable book is lodged inside will now be a shadow of its intended glory. This doesn’t have to be the case.

The effects of these proposed cuts will mean –

1. Slashing the hours of the library by 40%
2. Stoppng new books purchases
3. Restrictioning open access to the archives to scholars & researchers of all sorts
4. Reducing to nothing library outreach work & in-house exhibitions & displays.
5.sacking 100 staff posts.
6. Limiting the housebound & community library service of expert help.

Is this what we want? a death by a thousand cuts.

We paid in this city for this library. Come what may will pay for it whether it is reduced or not. This is a nonsense. We can not allow it to decline because of short termism & misguided cuts. This is not the way forward – it is backward looking & wrong. It makes no economic sense.

Support your Library ;

The LoB is an investment in out future, our children’s future & the future of this city’s prosperity.

So for the researchers, the students, the academics & all the public let’s Stand up for The LoB & say this will not happen. We can make the politicians change. We can register our concerns & our desire for protecting this service. Once it is gone it WILL be gone.

In a library you are free to wander, to study & to be strong & independent. Without this service we lose a little bit of what makes us civilised & lose the power of control. Time to take that power back.

We , the undersigned , call upon Birmingham City Council to REVERSE your proposed cuts to the Library of Birmingham & our Community Libraries. Invest in our city & out futures.

Copyright change.org

Library Library of Birmingham PFL dec

Contact us:

friendsoflibraryofbirmingham@gmail.com

Find us:

https://birminghamlibrariescampaigns.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheLoB

@FoLoB_

 

 

 

Writing, Headlining Restless Bones, 16 Days of Activism and a Proof

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This week I have mainly focused on my writing again, missing some open mic events and other performances. Mr G and I have also started sorting the house *for Christmas, we still have a lot of things boxed up from the move and have rooms that are practically inaccessible because of this.

This week also saw ‘Black Friday’ SALES coming to the UK – and although I didn’t really take part, I did happen to be in town buying a few birthday gifts. I spent an hour in a clothes shop trying on various items and finally picked 2 things, calculated my 30% discount, got a bit excited by the bargain of a winter micro-fleece and a pair of jeans, got to the till – none of the items I bought were in the BF SALE! Typical!

I am working on current submissions with several deadlines early December as well as compiling a 15 minute set for next weekend’s gig.

© 2014 KGC

© 2014 KGC

On Tuesday 25th a group of featured poets from the Restless Bones Poetry Anthology Headlined at Jacqui Rowe’s event. I had a fantastic night and met several poets who then came and performed for Sound Bites this weekend. The anthology continues to sell well and will now be on Sale by Silhouette Press at the next Inzine event in Coventry. Performers included; Elaine Christie (creator of the collection), Tessa Lowe, Claire Walker, David Barber, myself- Nina Lewis, Jude Ashworth,

Poetry Bites: Restless Bones restless the book

“One of the top 10 venues for poetry in the UK” (Susan Richardson, Radio 4).

Tonight’s Poetry Bites will be devoted to contributors to ‘Restless Bones’, an anthology raising funds for the Born Free Foundation.

BUY YOUR COPY HERE;

InZine Fest II

SATURDAY
12-5pm
6/12/2014
@ The Pod
1A Lamb Street, Coventry, CV1 4AE

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Jacqui was at an awards evening, Poetry Bites was hosted by Chris Fewings and a grand job he did too!

RELATED LINKS:

http://silhouettepress.co.uk/events/inzine-fest

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/book-launch-restless-bones-poetry-anthology-for-born-free-foundation/

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My next event was yesterday at The Library of Birmingham, ‘Sound Bites’ as part of the 16 Days of Activism. The subject matter of this event was not pretty or entertaining but I was proud to be part of this event, organised for 16 poets by Najma Hush.

There were only about 10 performers who made it to the Bookbox yesterday, the quality of writing and performing was incredible. Moving first hand experiences and poetry to fit the Activism themes. I wrote 3 poems especially for the event – one of my poems focused on Slavery – last night they featured this issue on the evening news. Slavery was abolished in this Country in 1833 – but unbelievably it is still a huge (largely unseen) problem.

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The rest of the women present were absolutely amazing, individuals who shared a piece of themselves, their experiences and private thoughts about life as a female upon earth. Thanks to Marcia Calame, Ddotti Bluebell, Jackie Smallridge, Leah Atherton, Nina Lewis, Sammy Joe, Abie Budgen, Carole Griffiths and Susan Philips – Nikki Bi and Shahida Choudhry who all helped to create Saturday Soundbites : Women Unplugged, spent at 16 Days of Activism Birmingham, UK .

– Najma Hush

http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/womenspeakout

http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/event/Events/16days-womenunplugged

Showcasing an eclectic mix of women performers from across the West Midlands. This event will be a unique gathering of our region’s most talented women, coming together to artistically express their passionate views for Human Rights, live through performance.
 
Whether you want to spin us a yarn, spit your bars, hit us with your punch line, or wax us lyrical with your prowess, join us at The Library of Birmingham.
 
Hosted by Najma Hush, poets reading include: Marcia Calame, Abie Budgen, Ddotti Bluebell, Jackie Smallridge, Nina Lewis, Leah Atherton & Sammy Joe. And the two poets who came from my plug at Poetry Bites, who due to dropping acts were able to perform Carole Griffiths and Susan Philips.
It was also good to see 4 men who had come to support the women in their lives at the event too.
  16 daysPhotos to follow.
Women Unplugged is just one of the event for Amnesty International’s, The Official 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign (29 Nov – 7 Dec 2014). With a fantastical array of creative events filled with vivacious activities, interactive shows and live performances for the people of Birmingham at the People’s Palace (organised by the Women’s Networking Hub).
It has been a brilliant week and the Caldmore writing Workshop, led by David Calcutt  which was due to happen this Tuesday has been rescheduled for early December, which means I can enjoy it without having to save energy for an evening performance too.
I have received my proof from Paragram, for the upcoming anthology ‘Remember’ AND in addition to all this excitement Christmas has arrived! The local towns have all had SWITCH on and the pretty lights are twinkling, the markets have arrived Victorian Christmas Market in Worcester and Frankfurt Market in Birmingham, although I wouldn’t recommend Saturday day time crush as experienced yesterday! I saw Christmas trees being delivered at school when I left on Thursday and we have our Advent Calendars ready to fill and I am getting excited about our 2nd Christmas together in our house. Before that we have 3 family birthdays to celebrate too! (And lots of Christmas Shopping!) deb alma xmas

Birmingham Literature Festival – Naked Lungs Urban Nature

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BLFest This year a call out for poets was announced by Naked Lungs (Joe Whitehouse & Christopher Baker) for a collaborative project and performance at Birmingham Literature Festival.

80 people applied to the initial advert and although Naked Lungs didn’t interview all applicants, it still feels special to be picked as one of the four poets. The brief was intentionally loose to give artists room to interpret and play, we met up and visited the Community Garden in Digbeth for some extra inspiration and to spend some time together.

I really enjoyed meeting new poets, Hannah Graham is a local poet performer and Amanda Hemmings works with young people writing at the MAC, Aysha Begum, is a poet I already knew, we have performed at the same events and I have enjoyed some of her projects, like Bridge the Gap. She recently won the Oxjam Slam in Birmingham.

The whole project was individuals working privately on the commission and then coming together to unite our words and ideas. I really liked the fact that we wrote in the dark and then discovered the elements of synchronicity.

Unfortunately due to demonstrations *that I am not going to give promotion to*, one of our performers was prevented from arriving safely at the library. This situation was fully understood by all of us and I think if it had been any of us in that position we would have done the same. But at one point we were potentially half the cast down Hannah and I thought we might have to fill the whole half hour together. A daunting prospect!

This would have been a challenge on timing alone. We had been asked to write for 7-8 minutes worth of material, due to differences in the way we all work and the poetry we produce, not every artist fulfilled the timings brief. This meant that we were already short of the specified performance slot.

Everyone wrote amazing poems and performed them brilliantly. We all work differently and I am sure everyone put their all into the work for this performance, certainly in the time spent learning their poems, which is something I didn’t have time to do – as they were only completed 4 days before the performance and I had 2 days of work and 2 events in that time.

We needn’t have panicked though as the extra time allowed us to introduce the project and the poems and contextualise some of our material. It was a worry but needn’t have been, we were just a few minutes short of the 30 and no-one seemed to mind.

It was a great project to be involved with and great fun performing in the foyer of the Library of Birmingham. We had quite a good crowd of people watching, along with our own supporters and everyone did really well. I still can’t believe that Amanda hadn’t performed for a year, what a brave way to get back into performing! Hannah Graham is amazingly talented and I look forward to watching her in the future.

I will continue to seek out future opportunities as amazing as this one.

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One Week in October – Poetry Festivals, Events, Weddings and a Commission.

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Reviewing October weekly as my writing life is tightly scheduled this month. What an exciting first week it has been. I have really tried to cut down on the amount of events I go to as I need to TIE myself to my desk/ laptop and get writing this October.

 

Opening A Festival

The month started with a surprise phone call from Rachel Green, programme director – Arts All Over the Place – Poetry, Performance (and Everything Else) Festival. Long story, short I sent proposals in September, what I could offer the festival and a bio in just 50 words. A glitch meant that when I contact Rachel, weeks later, the programme had already been devised. She did offer a drama workshop that I could have facilitated, typically it was the one day I was booked for work. I had to turn the opportunity down. AAOTP_3

A few days later she called to ask if I could OPEN THE FESTIVAL – the OPENING EVENT! As with all good drama graduates we are taught to accept the job and worry about the fine print later. This is how I found myself on National Poetry Day dressed as the Poetry Princess and treating an audience to a one-woman show! Still grateful to be saved by the buffet. People enjoyed my crystal delivery and poetry and I was caught in conversation with several attendees about poetry throughout the course of the day. Of course I stuck around for Cathy Crossley and Jan Watts and their National Poetry Day workshop, which resulted in pages of notes for potential poetry.

Later I performed as part of Soulful Poetry event organised and hosted by former Birmingham Laureate, Rob McFarlane. It was great to talk to Roy after the event as well as hearing more of his poetry. He was extremely supportive of my poetry and performance.

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Birmingham Poet Laureate

After this I hot footed to the Library of Birmingham to support Jasmine Gardosi & Matt Man Windle with their bid to be the next Poet Laureate. I am glad I managed to catch all the performances.  birm poet laureate 2014 Adrian Blackledge became the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2014-2015 and my alliances and friendships with Matt and Jasmine remain intact. In his speech Adrian made a point – that more people write poetry than read poetry… and that maybe something needs to be done about it. I wanted to spend more time in the library but it had been a long day and I had to be up for work.

 

WEDDING

This weekend saw my younger brother getting married – the first wedding in our immediate family. A big occasion and a brilliant wedding that I think only Dave and Jenny could have pulled off. I read ‘I Love You’ by Roy Croft in their service, lots of tissues were needed. My brother and his wife, crying on each new line, my toughest and most intimate audience yet.

I was worried about coughing as well as crying, I am suffering a lingering chest infection. On my second lot of antibiotics and praying these work. It has been extremely challenging teaching, performing and watching events with this loud, hacking cough constantly interrupting!

frugal cafe creative commons champers

Birmingham Literature Festival

All photographs  Birmingham Literature Festival © 2014

On Sunday (fortunately hang over free) I went to see my relatives who had stayed with Mum and then went to Birmingham Literature Festival, I wanted to pack as much in as I knew my schedule wouldn’t allow another day there, until Saturday 11th, when I perform.

BLF With Great Pleasure

I went to see the recording of Radio 4 Poetry Please with Roger McGough, followed by With Great Pleasure, also recorded for BBC Radio 4. Rich McMahon was playing guitar and singing in the foyer BLF Rich McMahon before the evening show at the Rep Theatre of Tell Me on a Sunday, which was a storytelling event set up by Writing West Midlands and Cat Weatherill to share real life stories. Marking the end of 3 years on this project she had selected some of the top stories and tellers to perform and treated us a little to her own stories in between.

BLF Tell me on a sunday

In honesty after the wedding I should have spent the day asleep, I know I would have regretted not making the effort to go to the festival though. I also bumped into an old friend Nicola who I hadn’t seen for years. Funny last time she was working creative/ language jobs and I was teaching full time – now she teaches full time and I am getting creative with job roles.

BLFest

Writing

Monday and Tuesday were spent writing poetry for the Urban Nature Performance/ Commission – which takes place at The Library of Birmingham next Saturday as well as catching up on some neglected household chores, doctors appointments and going to work. NAKED_LUNGS_200x200px

Performing

I have a writing day today and another project to sink my wrists into – I also have a fair few events lined up;

Inkspill biro

Thursday 9th Performing at Anniversary SpeakEasy, Friday attending and performing at the Mad Hatter’s Cosmic Chill Out for the end of Arts All Over the Place Festival, Saturday THE BIG DAY performing in the Birmingham Literature Festival, then having a performing break until next Tuesday. And that’s with reducing the performance schedule!

 

October – A Month of Writing

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This month I have writing to do I am editing and writing some new poetry, I also have to write my first commission for a performance on the 11th at Birmingham Literature Festival, there is also another project in the pipeline involving displayed poetry.

Tomorrow I am hosting/ opening the Poetry, Performance and Everything Else Festival for Arts All Over the Place as well as taking part in some workshops, performing at Roy McFarlane’s Soulful Poetry Event and then hot footing to the Library of Birmingham for the announcement of the new Poet Laureate, both Matt Man Windle and Jasmine Gardosi are in this year’s finals!

Friday I am working and resting, relatives will be up for my brother’s wedding, this Saturday.

Saturday is obviously the wedding – I am reading a love poem and have been practising it without crying. On Sunday I am back at Library – Birmingham Literature Festival – Poetry Please and Tell me on a Sunday Events to watch.

I am cutting back on Poetry Events due to the time needed for writing this month and will blog weekly.

I am also hosting INKSPILL at the end of this month – right here on this blog! A FREE online writing retreat.

Latest Projects

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Naked Lungs

I am really excited to be taking part in a collaborative performance in this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival (Oct 2-12th). The event is organised by Naked Lungs, following interviews in the summer, they have chosen 4 poets to collaborate on the performance project.

I am delighted to be part of this exciting venture and to meet two new poets last week too. We met in the city to discuss the project and visit a community garden project in Digbeth, which brings nature and city to a meeting point. Inspirational.

I am now working on writing some poetry to send to them as a starting point. We perform at the Library of Birmingham on the 11th @ 4:30pm

It is the same day that my writing mentor job starts too… and both opportunities are funded, which is great news, has taken 12 months, just over to arrive in this position. All the hard work is worth it.

When you have an idea, you have to action it, take risks, run, jump, keep faith – it is meant to be – it will.

I also get to perform a set next week (25th) for an event at Cherry Reds that Naked Lungs run. Fingers crossed this is a gateway to more performance work.

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Benches by Jan Watts – The Book Launch

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Book Launch Benches PFL Jan

Tuesday 5th August was the official launch of Jan’s book ‘Benches’, her first novel, although she has written playscripts and short stories and is of course a former Birmingham POET LAUREATE – it goes without saying that she writes poetry. The photo above was taken at ‘Poetry For Lunch'(PFL), a spin off from her ‘Phenomenal Women’ events, one of which I was lucky enough to catch at Birmingham University last Autumn as my poetry odyssey began. PFL provides a half hour platform for local poets to perform in a tag-team, it is fast, fun and furious. Every Thursday 1-1.30pm the amphitheatre at the Library of Birmingham. Free poetry with your sandwiches city folk, what could be better?

I was looking forward to a catch up in the city with a poet friend, I had not seen socially for a long time, a good time was had in the Bacchaus Bar, where we sat on thrones and drank tea. Then we headed to the Mailbox to find Jan on the canal in her boat ‘Telga’.

 

The Beginning on Telga

It was a lovely way to start the afternoon – with fizz and lemon drizzle cake and some of Jan’s homemade (prize winning or should be) pastry. Then we headed down to the Library of Birmingham for the launch. Part of the OFF THE PAGE season of events, where the library showcase local writers who have written/set stories in the city.

The Book Box was part of the library I hadn’t discovered when I did a huge floor to floor exploration last October, (it opened in September but I waited for the mass exodus of the media and cityfolk) for a more authentic feel of a library. I was particularly struck by a library shelf section that just said GOD. I hadn’t ventured into this far corner downstairs though, it is a great space, boxed in at the sides and open at the top, below street level so you can watch the people of the city pass by and opposite are some of the older, grander buildings in Birmingham.

Jan is always entertaining, she is one of these women whose spirit and energy just exudes from them all the time. She is brilliant and her book readings have been thoroughly enjoyable. There is something special about hearing an author reading their own words.

Here is where you can buy a copy of Benches.

jan benches

Price: £7.99

Ships in 3-5 business days.

Nancy Byrde tells us her version of the canalside goings on that spice up her retirement. Together with her dog, Steven, she gets close to her family, the good and the evil. She dices, with drugs, violence, a teenage runaway and being over exposed at a wedding she wasn’t invited to. Will she find a new happiness? Benches is set in and around Birmingham in the UK. The names of places has been changed to protect the innocent. It grew out of an encounter with a bench that had been graffitied with a rude word. This is a debut novel.

***** 5 star rated reviews.

 

It is also available as an e-book for a fraction of the price:

Benches Benches By Jan Watts eBook:

£2.99
Go on! Treat yourselves!

Grayson Perry, Lunch with Poets and Poetry For Lunch

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Poetry For Lunch is a great lunchtime event hosted by Jan Watts (former Birmingham Laureate) last week the Worcester Stanza Group took over for the whole session, thanks to Claire Walker for organising this event, which is usually 30 minutes but was 45 minutes for us.

© Twitter 2014

© Twitter 2014

We made a whole morning of it. The Grayson Perry tapestries are on show at the Museum & Art Gallery until the 11th May.

Grayson Perry Wikipedia

© Wikipedia 2014

 

We hit the gallery first, it was amazing, if you get a chance to see it, do. Hard hitting but also aspects we would all recognise from our lives – across a broad range of ages. I am in awe of the work that went into these tapestries. I also (being a writer) loved the use of text in them. The story they told. Photography is not allowed so we went to buy postcards from the gift shop. The colours were not as vivid as the real thing, and buying the whole collection was nearly £7 so after a little deliberation, I bought the catalogue for £14.99 – a treat!

© Artsthread 2014

© Artsthread 2014

It is really good, documents all the lead up to the work, I will be using it to write new material.

© Artfund 2014

© Artfund 2014

We had lunch at the gallery and then went onto the library to perform in the amphitheatre. It was great performing alongside fellow Stanza members and well worth taking a day off work. A pity it rained – but we carried on!

Towards the end of the session we met a wonderful young performance poet Damani TruStar Dennisur, who was Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate the same year as Jan Watts. (2012), he had the final slot – and boy, am I glad we didn’t have to follow him! Blew me out of the water. WOW! A name to look out for. He looks like he’s dancing towards Jan in these photos.

Bernard Davis photographs many of the events in Birmingham and kindly came and took fabulous shots of the Stanza group – which does include men and a few more members – obviously not everyone is free to perform in the middle of the day!

STANZA: – Kathy Gee, Ruth Stacey, Claire Walker, Maggie Doyle, Myfanwy Fox, Nina Lewis & Amanda Bonnick with Damani TruStar Dennisur & Jan Watts.

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An Afternoon of Poetry and Waffles

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PFL Chris PFL Jan PFL me PFL Natalie  PFL4  PFL andrea

Poetry for Lunch today was great and the sun shone – that’s the first time that has ever happened!

‘Wonderful poetry and wonderful poetry this Thursday. Thank you to Swingerella, James Langton, Nina Lewis, Inez MacDonald, Al Barz, Natalie Burdett, Christian Makuta, Maria Isabel and of course a big thank you to Loss the techie.’ – Jan Watts

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Next week Worcester Stanza Group (which I am in) is taking over PFL for the whole lunch time! Claire Walker has organised it and I can’t wait. Have even taken the day off work.

A few of us went out afterwards to eat at Something Sweet – an amazing Waffle house on the other side of the city!

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Since getting home over 6hours later, Mr G has been very productive in the garden, planting asparagus and then we both spent a while up at the allotment, cutting down long grass, weeding and planting potatoes. I will definitely need a lie in tomorrow!

 

Out again tomorrow night for Word Up at York’s Bakery, I was reciting my lines on the way home trying to learn some of my set. Look out for posts about that tomorrow.

Poetry For Lunch

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Off to the city today, to the Library of Birmingham to perform in the amphitheatre with Jan Watts jan watts and many other talented poets.

The weather isn’t looking too glorious for an outdoor gig… but we will bring brightness in our words.

PFL april