As you were reminded yesterday, Lockdown 2020 saw many notebooks being filled. By Lockdown 2, I was back in the scary world of work and Lockdown 3 is a mixture of both (after 3 hours on phone calls yesterday afternoon)!
Some of my notebooks were filled with words from the Lockdown Writers’ Club, organised and facilitated by Mab Jones, a poet I have had the pleasure of knowing for quite some years. The daily prompts offered a lot of material across a range of genres and (like all good starting points), were springboards which encouraged the sparks of ideas to fly. Both Mab’s course and Cath Drake’s workshops, inspired me for sometime after they finished.
2021 has not started the way, in the depth of the summer, we hoped it would. Lockdown offers new and established writers time to write. We all want/need more than the 4 walls of our room and CO19 in our brains.
This rerun is an email only course, so is perfect for people who have restricted access to other platforms.
Lockdown Writers’ Club is an online / email course for writers of any experience. ✅Receive 30 prompts in 30 days. ✅Respond in poetry or prose. ✅Learn, be inspired, have fun! Just £25 Contact @mabjones for details: mabjonescreativeATgmailDOTcom
Mab JonesCardiff Wetlands Writer in Residence Biography Mab Jones is a “unique talent” (The Times) who has read her work all over the UK, in the US, France, Ireland and Japan. She is winner of the John Tripp Spoken Poetry Audience Award, the Word Factory Neil Gaiman Short Story competition, a Royal Society of Literature ‘Literature Matters’ award, the Aurora Poetry competition, the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, amongst others.
Her most recent pamphlet is ‘111 Haiku for Lockdown’ (Infinity Books UK). She is the author of two other pamphlets, and two collections: ‘take your experience and peel it‘ (Indigo Dreams) and ‘Poor Queen’ (Burning Eye Books). Her work has been read or shown (as poetry film) at many festivals, at the Southbank Centre, and at various venues and a variety of platforms.
Mab teaches creative writing at Cardiff University, has written for the New York Times, and has presented three recent poetry programmes on BBC Radio 4. She previously coordinated International Dylan Thomas Day, and now runs the social media for world famous writer Wilbur Smith. She promotes adventure writing through his Foundation, in addition, and offers mentoring, critique and feedback for writers, most notably through the Poetry Society.
April was Napowrimo and those of you who follow this blog will know I have done it every year since I discovered it existed (2014), this year – for the first time ever – I was home every day of the prompts and managed it without falling behind. As is tradition, by the end I was left with about 5 decent poems and another 5 to work with. Lots of new notes and scribbles, I did write 32 poems over the month but some are no more than a warm up exercise, you can whittle on after April and collect yourself a good batch of 30 decent poems, but as with all workshops some prompts will speak louder than others. There were some areas I continued to research and develop and other scrap poems I abandoned. Nothing wasted though.
Napowrimo was also the last time I was properly active on the blog. The Stay at Home Lit Festival continued (it was a glorious 2 weeks). I continued to enjoy events which moved online more from the PPP (Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists) team, as another of their brilliant nights Yes We Cant happened online and PASTA (usually at the Wolverhampton Arena Theatre). 42, Worcester and Run My Tongue were other open mic events I joined.
I signed up to Caleb Parkin‘s Napo group and enjoyed weekly sessions with other poets (some of whom I knew) doing Napo. These groups were great fun. Huge gratitude to Caleb for creating such a pleasant space to create from.
April was the start of crazy, for me it was a coping mechanism and also I was coming from that post-book release-writing-slump https://ninalewispoet.wordpress.com/books/, which followed on the back of the medicated break from writing, which I was convinced (at the time), had broken the camel’s back, so a certain amount of my packed scheduling was a liberation, a dance with words. It was also a sure fire way to bury my thoughts from what was really happening for a few hours most days. I was also trying to get over having to cancel all my real life bookings for a 2nd year running.
I read a lot, every writer should. But I have to say 2020 has opened me to more new writing and new to me poets than any year so far. So readily accessible at a touch of a button. The whole world at my writing desk.
Sarah L. Dixon needs another shout out of gratitude, she started to run workshops online, which were always fun and successful for me – as in I would always have a nearly completed poem by the end of it – I may have even submitted some of these out to the world and I have barely submitted anything anywhere since 2018.
A big shout out of gratitude to Zelda Chappel too – who it has been a pleasure to reconnect with. She offered a series of wonderful prompts which in the beginning refreshed my love for this gift of writing and over the weeks gave space for some different writing.
A big shout out to Mab Jones too who created Lockdown Writers’ Club and provided us all with in depth prompts and created a creative community.
I went to the book launch of Play – by C. S Barnes, The Shaking City by Cath Drake and Mutton Rolls by Arji Manuelpillai.
I started doing Yoga with Allison Maxwell who is another gratitude shout out, I helped people and artists learn how to use Zoom effectively, we celebrated the first birthdays online, never expecting we would still be doing the same by the end of the year! I started doing my pilates classes at home.
I finally joined INSTA as there were poets I admire doing things on this platform. My INSTA account is still nothing to shout about and I probably won’t be joining the INSTA Poetry movement anytime soon, but it is a great platform for short video/ workshops and has been fun exploring this year.
I took opportunities offered by Room 204 on developing characters, huge thanks to Stephanie Hatton for letting us be your guinea pigs, I hope the roll out went well. I enjoyed the National Ballet online, a workshop with The Poetry Business and started recording video performances for events. And I discovered the Cuirt Festival of Literature AND more importantly an Irish poet I had read in my teens, Michael Gorman – it was like being reunited with an old friend.
I also had the pleasure of watching Kei Miller and Carolyn Forché with Poets House and Roger Robinson with Writing East Midlands, all poets I have read and admire. I’m lucky enough to have seen Kei and Roger in action several times. These three poets started the pack of recurring poets who became a big part of my lockdown.
I was also working hard completing an animation commission from Elephant’s Footprint for the Arts Council funded ‘Poetry Renewed Project’. I wrote a poem for Rick Sanders PoARTry/ the digital version of his project. My ekphrastic poetry response was based on an artwork created by Alan Glover. I watched most deadlines zoom past and wrote covid and non-covid journals.
It was an action packed month which taught me: I was happy we’d had haircuts the week before the news of Lockdown, the forever-wanted GHDs probably weren’t going to be the most used Christmas present, that I was unlikely to run out of notebooks for a while, that the world is trying to hold itself together, that a smile goes a long way, that facetime and online platforms are a great way to stay connected, what it feels like to spend 5 weeks travelling no more than 1.5 miles from your home.
20:00 ‘til late FESTIVAL FINALERJ Museum Tent-Palace
With Mab Jones, A. F. Harrold, Edward Day, Inua Elams, and George Fell.
Tonight we celebrate the power of poetry in performance with some of Britain’s most exciting voices coming together, with fantastic music to polish everything off. Prepare to be dazzled!
Rather than the creator of Death Robots from Outer Space, expect the A. F. Harrold who started in a Blackwell’s bookshop in the late 1990s, before going on to becoming a full-time poet and workshop facilitator in the early 2000s.
Edward Day is a genderfluid poet and theatre maker. Performing in a wild, theatrical style, Edward reimagines daily life in many fantastical ways, from having the powers of a Jedi, to food growing knots inside him.
Mab Jones’ newest collection, Take your experience and peel it, is published by Indigo Dreams. Her first collection, Poor Queen, was published by Burning Eye Books. “Her best poems take my breath away.” – Gwyneth Lewis
Born in Nigeria, Inua Ellams is a cross art form practitioner, a poet, playwright & performer, graphic artist & designer and founder of the Midnight Run – an international, arts-filled, night-time, playful, urban, walking experience.
George Fell has been mesmerizing UK audiences with his instrumentals and arrangements for
almost a decade, originally developing his technique from early Blues and Country recordings,
and the guitar as a solo instrument.
A. F. Harrold
I have had the pleasure of watching A. F. Harrold in action before, many years ago when he headlined SpeakEasy in Worcester. I enjoyed his performance immensely.
George Fell is an exceptionally talented musician and it was wonderful to have his set peppered between the poets. I have really enjoyed music being a part of the festival this year.
Mab Jones I first saw in Birmingham, reading from her Indigo Dreams publication ‘Take Your Experience and Peel It’. I was looking forward to watching her perform again after seeing her around the festival for a few days. I enjoyed her performance poetry too. (Like me, she has a foot in both camps.)
Edward Day discovered Poetry Swindon last year and that is where we met. Since then Edward has developed a Touring Show based on Shakespeare and Gaming, it was an excerpt from this the audience were treated too. Very impressive.
Inua Elams I first saw earlier this year in Birmingham and he delivered the same clever poetry – using his document list to find poems on themes chosen by the audience.
It was a fabulous finale.
It didn’t end there, we also had the end of festival speeches and celebrations.
Maurice Spillane and Mike Pringle, two of the masters behind the festival and mentors of bread cutting and festival prep, invited the team on stage and spoke highly of Hilda Sheehan for curating another amazing Poetry Swindon.
They announced the Firework display and gave a sparky foresight into what was to come.
The Finale was billed ’til Late and it was! Toast-gate also occurred- the table was emptied during the interval, so we had to restock the toast station for hungry festival goers, which meant an impromptu bread carving lesson from Mr Mike Pringle.
The Bar had another late opening too – which is going to guarantee poets staying to mingle and on top of all that there was a firework display!
The team had reckoned an end of Festival Party, however – due to the series of late nights and people needing sleep, we ended up with no wrap party. This was fine as we had a party to end all parties the night before with Sarah L. Dixon and we had just had the most incredible Fireworks party thanks to Mike Pringle and Tony Hillier, who themselves choreographed a dance in High Vis jackets and bright lamps that rivalled the fireworks display. In fact I suggested for next year they may want to work on this act!