Tag Archives: monthly review

Review July 2018

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July

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Photo by Natalie on Pexels.com

 

Week 1:

July – the season of Festivals. Ledbury Poetry Festival (30th June – 8th July) kicked off with a weekend of events I had hoped to manage. Work has been exceptionally busy and I have grabbed any time I can at the weekend to just recoup a little. My Ledbury Saturday (which was also a reason I couldn’t make this year’s National Writing Conference) was much diminished.

Sunday saw the morning at Evesham Festival of Words and Polly Stretton’s final Poetry Walk Event. It was lovely that she acknowledged those of us who have managed all three of these. It was also great that I had time to stay for the extra reading which takes place in the Almonry Gardens after the walk. http://www.almonryevesham.org/

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/evesham-festival-of-words/

I booked events for the Autumn and promoted several current projects. I also started firming up plans for Australia and the Perth Poetry Festival in August.

On Tuesday I went to Ledbury to the Homend Poets – who were launching the 11th anthology and a small collective of PoARTry poets promoted the Launch (11th) by reading some of our exhibited poetry. It was a great night – slightly soured by the M50 slip roads being closed for Roadworks and adding time onto my journey home. I had recorded the match (World Cup) and had to avoid using the radio and sadly, the 1.5 hour round the rigging route home meant I was met by revellers leaving the pub and rather giving the result away! I did witness an amazing sunset with the Malvern Hills which I would have missed if the roads had been open.

I managed to secure at least one musician for our Launch event. Bonus.

Much as I wanted to go to Ledbury for Pascale Petit and Tishani Doshi*  I had no energy after work for a mid-week jaunt across for an hour. *Tishani was part of the inspiration behind one poem in my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’.

I also wanted to go back the following evening to see Martin Figura –Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine. I spent a few days buckling down promoting events and organising shows and magazines from my desk in the evenings.

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The week finished with a rehearsal for our poetry show 30-40-60. Which was brilliant and made the three of us want to do this show again. None of us can quite believe it has been a year since the premiere event at Worcestershire LitFest 2017!

 

Week 2

Much as the first week of the month work kept me busy with report writing and assessments. I received an exciting invitation for November, more news on that once plans get firmed up.

My main focus was PoARTry at Ledbury. We had our launch night on Wednesday 11th July (another England World Cup game… this time slightly given away by the raucous cheers from the pub next door)!

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© Rick Sanders

It was a great event, mainly the Artists and Poets attended but some of us brought guests so there was an audience. The Exhibition itself did really well.

A more detailed review can be found here.

Thursday saw Ben Banyard Headline SpeakEasy in Worcester, a poet (from our 52 gang) who I wanted to meet and hear in person. It was a great evening in a new venue and the first time this event has been hosted outside. The garden was set for a wedding the next day and was beautiful. It was a fun night! Read more here.

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© Kathy Gee

Friday saw a staff meal (nice to be invited) and then Saturday there was a workshop I wanted to attend in Walsall but after a full week of work and 3 nights out on the trot I needed a breather before Charley Barnes’ Book Launch in the evening.

a z hearted Launch

I was delighted to be a Guest Poet alongside Claire Walker, Sarah Leavesley and Holly Magill. As it fell during Droitwich Artsfest they advertised it as an Artsfest event. It was well attended and an exceptional evening. A pleasure to welcome Charley to the V. Press family. Read more about this sparkling evening here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/a-z-hearted-guide-to-heartache-by-charley-barnes-book-launch/

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I had the day off on Sunday – except I didn’t – I spent 6 hours sorting and editing film for our 30-40-60 performance. As well as working on a current Stanza project, sorting Issue 4 of Contour and organising paperwork for the trip to Australia.

 

Week 3 

On Monday night I spent another 5 hours in the cutting room, editing the new film for our event the next day.

On Tuesday 17th July Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and myself performed 30-40-60 in St. Andrew’s Church as part of the Artsfest. We had a small but mighty audience, it was a wonderful evening and lovely to hear people on the Open Mic and see poets visit Droitwich for the first time. Lots of people commented on the venue and of course the show.

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Read more about it here.

Also if you missed it – there is a review here. With thanks to Mad Hatter Reviews.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/30-40-60-performance-review/

One of the exciting things about an International Guest Poet is I get to attend plenty of workshops throughout the festival. I have had the schedule for a few months but now the programme is out was able to book into them. I am as excited about this as I am about being part of Perth Poetry Festival!

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I also had more exciting news – again under wraps for now.

Work finished – another splatter of excitement after a 3 month lock in! It was lovely working with such a great team. As everyone met in the pub to celebrate I stayed in and got an early night because my weekend was a wild one! Poetry WILD that is!

ArtsFest traditionally have a poetry day and for the past 2 years I have had the honour of organising it!

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We started at 2 PM with Poetry in the Square – my guests this year were John Mills and Liz Mills, two poets I met through 52. They put me up for the night before Stafford Festival – it was a welcome return to Stone for me – I lived there for a few years – and we have been friends ever since!

They are also brilliant poets and between us we managed the 2 hour stint in town.

Then I rushed off to Worcester to Guest Poet at Kieran Davies’ Book Launch for Legacy, published by Black Pear Press. Which was a great event, a true celebration – read more about it here.

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Then back to Park’s Cafe for Poetry Extravaganza and the first UK reading of ATOTC. It was a delightful evening of poetry.

ATOTC ME © Rhys Jones – Droitwich Arts Network

Read about it in full here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/artsfest-2/

 

Week 4

At this point my diary suggested (because I pencilled it in – in May), taking the first 2 weeks of my summer holiday off from poetry events and prepare for Australia… to a certain extent I have missed events I would have otherwise attended, but as always there were some which slipped through that I couldn’t possibly miss.

The week started in Ledbury collecting work from the Exhibition. PoARTry was a great project and I know I will be staying in touch with my artist, Molly Bythell.

I got everything organised for my trip except money and mini-toiletries! It took a while to find cabin luggage small enough for the airline restriction and a while longer after that to choose just 1 piece! I also invested in a large but extremely lightweight suitcase… mine date back to when wheels were first introduced and the handle extends only 6 cm from the corner… they work like a supermarket trolley with a wonky wheel and have mainly been used for storage. Travelling with soft bags and backpack ever since! However, I am not backpacking and the last time I used that on Long Haul it caused a few problems, so decided to do the respectable suitcase thing!

Tuesday saw Poetry Bites at the Kitchen Garden Cafe with Jonathan Edwards and Holly Daffurn headlining. 

Thursday I was in Stratford at a workshop and Friday I went to Stanza, where there was even more exciting news.

A flurry of poetry-Poetry Bites-workshop-stanza

HEX

This weekend I received my copy of Hex – by Jennie Farley, published by IDP Indigo Dreams. Jennie was kind enough to ask me for an endorsement. It is the third book I have endorsed and it was a pleasure reading it. It is a mesmerising collection and I look forward to the official Launch in December!

Hex – Jennie Farley IDP

I also approached Guest Writers for this year’s INKSPILL online writing retreat and both have confirmed (exciting), so I spent a little time on this promotional film to encourage you to book it into your diaries NOW!

Find out more INKSPILL 2018.

I am now spending the rest of the month working on 3 writing projects, editing and organising myself ready for Perth!

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March Review 2018

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This month I got stuck into two new projects, missed several events due to the snow, submitted poems, sent proof copies/edited Special Edition Contour Magazine in preparation for the next issue launch (April) ATOTC, organised a poetry exhibition at the Jinney Ring & a Hanbury Reading for the Sculpture Trail Poets, facilitated 1 community workshop and 2 school workshops, dressed as Little Miss Splendid for World Book Day, worked on a special celebration of poetry to mark International Women’s Day, finished my Reader in Residence residency at Rugby Library with WMRN, did Poetry on Demand for Mother’s Day, organised my official WPL remit World Poetry Day event, took my WWM Spark Young Writers group through the editing process, attended the final Room 204 17/18 cohort meeting, a Book Launch, celebrated Earth Day and worked pretty much full time as a one week contract turned into 3 weeks!

I now feel and look about 10 years older!

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Week 1: The Snow

I missed Images from the Past at The Hive, due to snow and a workshop and oakley’s Book Launch for the same reason.

I was booked for an exciting event as part of the Anchor Gallery in April and asked to do Stablemates – which I would have loved, but the date clashed with my appearance at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

I facilitated the 1st of 3 workshops booked with The Basement Project, a charity in Bromsgrove. The first community workshop (in WPL role) was Arts & Words where participants created their own canvas. It was a successful morning and gave me a welcome break from the classroom. The snow meant we were thin on the ground, but those involved had a good time.

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Read more here.

 

Week 2: Planning, Poetry on Demand & New Projects

All of the final proofs from ATOTC were sent.

I planned my next workshop, this one at a school in Worcester. Gathering the resources and researching the subject matter. I missed Stirchley Speaks with Cynthia Miller as work is exhausting and I am busy online for most of the evening when I get home, mainly with ATOTC – now in proof reading stages with copy flying out to 46 poets.

I was booked as part of an event for this year’s Worcester LitFest alongside the new Poet Laureate (my time finishes on 10th June).

I attended an exciting meeting in Ledbury with Rick Sanders as he unveiled the 2nd PoArtry project. I have been buddied up with Molly Bythell – a talented young artist and cannot wait to make a start on this.

I missed the MeToo Anthology Launch in Birmingham because I was asleep before 6:30 after a particularly bad end to an otherwise good but tiring week of work.

On Saturday I had my WWM writing group and ran a workshop (at their request) on editing and we wrote about mum’s too with Mother’s Day being so close.

From Worcester I hot-footed to Rugby for a job as Poetry on Demand for Mother’s Day. I wrote bespoke poems and made lots of people very happy.

It was an exhausting but fun day!

 

Week 3: Workshops, Interviews & Book Launches

The week started with full days of work (a one week temporary cover  turned into 3 weeks full-time, with a day off for good behaviour/ I mean pre-booked workshops)!

On Thursday I filled an entire day with poetry to make up for all the poetry I had missed from being too exhausted after work!

My School Workshops at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in October were postponed. I was delighted to offer new bespoke workshops to fit the work they have been doing on Monsters. It was a fantastic, fun morning and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

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You can read a review here

From there I hot-footed across to BBC Hereford & Worcester for my radio interview with Tammy Gooding, where I was able to promote WPD.

The evening saw 3 clashing events. I went to Math Jones’ Book Launch of Sabrina Bridge published by Black Pear Press. This was the 2nd collection I was asked to endorse and it is a magical read. It was wonderful to watch Math breathe fire into his work in a stellar performance. Being an actor helps! It was great fun and an opportunity to see Suz Winspear, Jenny Hope, Polly Stretton and Keleigh Wolf perform too.

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I missed Stanza but spent the evening prepping for my next school workshop next week, creating film clips and found poetry texts. I also wrote copy to promote World Poetry Day.

I had the final Room 204 Cohort meeting on Saturday at The Custard Factory, crazy to think nearly 12 months has gone already, the new cohort will be announced mid-April, exciting to think they already know who they are.

This was followed by a new project with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, encompassing two weekend workshops and a performance at BMAG – and involves using their digital archive. None of us really knew what it would entail but I am always up for an afternoon in a Museum/Art Gallery, notebook in hand.

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Wikimedia © 2018

It all sounded intriguing and I had a fun afternoon filling myself up with artefact inspiration.

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Birmingham Museums Trust © 2018

Sunday – a day of rest? No, Mr G and I are expecting some much needed work on the house and we spent the day clearing spaces!

 

Week 4 Workshops, World Poetry Day and Earth Hour

How is it the last week of March already? The week started with my Inter-School Gifted & Talented workshop at Bromsgrove School with the theme of Nature. nature-3231651_1920

Where I had prepared a film element in case our Nature Walk was eradicated by weather – the snow and a mini-beast storm was forecast over the weekend. It certainly rained!

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It was an action packed afternoon and great fun. A full review can be found here

I spent the beginning of the week (3 days) preparing for World Poetry Day, this was an evening event and the only official task I had to undertake in my WPL (Worcestershire Poet Laureate) remit.

WPD FLYER 2018

After months of preparation Wednesday 21st arrived and I spent the day with high alert butterflies and every organiser worst worry – will there be an audience?

It was a fabulous night! People came and enjoyed and all the performers were exceptional. A full review can be read here.

 

On Saturday I had the 2nd workshop for the BMAG Rebel Uncut Digital Archive project. This was my first ever Hackathon and a long day 8-6pm – on site from 10-5. It was fun working with techies and writers and seeing our initial writing inform a digital archive. Having opportunities to play with VR and AR. We all worked in teams and there was a series of presentations at the end of the afternoon, a constant flow of refreshments and lunch thrown in too.

I love opportunities for writing beyond the page and stage, it was a great experience to be part of and the last mark of this year’s Room 204 cohort.

REBEL UNCUT

I followed my hour bus journey home with a power nap which meant I missed the first half of Earth Day. I made it to Worcester just after 8 PM which isn’t bad considering I got in after 6PM, had a power nap, prepared my poems including one written especially for this year’s Earth Hour Event and one I wrote on the bus journey in the morning, filled the car with petrol and made it to Worcester (can take up to 45 minutes).

Earth Hour was a brilliant event, as always. Organised by Martin Driscoll and in Support of WWF and Earth Hour. It was held at Cafe Bliss and the food (which was included in the ticket) was exceptional. Traditional Belize. Amazing, I can taste it now over a week later writing this blogpost!

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The Final Week 

Was mainly work. I didn’t get the writing done I had scheduled. I missed all of my end of month targets, I could kick myself… but I am choosing to go easy on myself. I have had a full-on month and do not want to submit substandard work for the sake of ticking off a deadline. There will be writing time in the future and until then I am writing bare bones and noting ideas.

I missed the 8th Birthday at 42, as I had been to the ROH Ballet the night before with mum *a Christmas gift from Mr G. We both had a thoroughly enjoyable evening but with a full week of work, I arrived home exhausted on the Wednesday and was asleep by 8:30 pm.

I managed some work on the Art Poetry PoArtry Project for Ledbury, Molly Bythell (my partnered artist) and I have started laying out groundwork for our collaboration after exchanging artworks/poems. Her painting inspired by my poem (published by Silver Birch Press Me In A Hat series)

hat-cover2 has been added to her website and I am currently scaffolding a poem based on her work ‘Flower Gel’.

I also had communication with the Festival team in Perth, Australia. My trip is in planning stages and I am excited to find out more about the festival programme. I know I am able to attend as much as I can manage.

Hopefully will be fully over jet lag during the pre-festival. Last time I went over (2005) my jet lag there was almost non-existent – cancelled out by adrenaline. It was coming home I faltered. I was talking to my friend who did the airport run and just fell asleep on my rucksack mid sentence and on the lounge floor. I do have a 20 hour lay over, so hoping that will help the lag if I play on GMT/UK time.

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Then I had the Easter weekend off with Mr G. to catch up with family, enjoy the warmth of our house – new boiler fitted this week after 3 months without heat or running hot water! Glad to be back in the 21st Century with that one.

I have an exhibition to organise that I am a week behind on, due to working.

In April aside from NaPoWriMo (now GloPoWriMo) – I have the Special Edition Contour magazine to edit and compile for the ATOTC Transatlantic Poetry Project, I may have a talking paper interested in some work on that and have future plans for performance and publication. It has been my main project as WPL and has been a steep learning curve tinged with fun!

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I am also getting a smaller European project off the ground with new poetry partners between Twin Towns next month. Our Suffragette Collection will also go live. The rest of the month is a packed schedule of  workshops, festivals and performances.

 

So I took a very deep breath over the holiday weekend and have plenty of chocolate eggs in reserve.

Oh, and I am going back to work full-time, a temporary measure to cover summer living (as there are 3 months a year I don’t earn any money) and this year had a record 10 days over a 3 month period, so this just plugs the first term being so bad.

Onward!

 

September Review

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This month seems to have disappeared in a flash, looking at events listings it is no wonder. The thing I have been coming to terms with this month is missing events either because of clashing dates or lack of energy/needing some gaps in my schedule. It is something every artist has to overcome at some point, just wishing there was a fast cure. If I am really busy I tend not to look at the events calendars on social media as I know they will show places I want to be. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

Writing diary My 2014 Poetry Diary

The desk In Tray is filled with admin tasks I need to take a firm hold over, the house needs sorting out (still), the diary is filling up and my weekly schedule is brimming. The mortgage payments are coming from savings as there is no paid work this early in the term, I have been lucky in recent years to have had work by now. My agent is on secondment, so I keep calling the office in vague hope… it will come but probably when I am at Swindon Poetry Festival. Perhaps it is a godsend as there is no way I could manage the poetry workload and a day job!

I have decided not to worry, repeat the mantra every freelancer knows, ‘money will come’ and just get stuck into my projects and plans.

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This month planning meetings were initiated in Warwick & Rugby for my work with Warwickshire Libraries – Reader in Residence through WMRN. I was so excited when Roz Goddard approached me to apply in the summer. I spent a long time on the application and just kept my fingers crossed for a successful bid. I follow in some mighty footsteps created by Readers in Residence: Jean Atkin, Andy Killeen (2014) and Deborah Alma (2015).

Since August I have completed hours of research and two planning meetings with library staff in Warwick and Rugby. Now I have the schedule and an idea of what is required for my residency which will officially start in November and run until March.

 

A New Design (5)

I also facilitated my first adult workshops in over 12 years. Workshops are something I have wanted to get back into for a long time. I just needed the springboard and it takes years to construct a new one! It was an absolute delight and feedback has been positive. I started planning my WPL workshops back in June and met up with the venues Event Manager back in July. The Sculpture Trail (which was the base stimuli for my Poetry Workshop) arrived on site late August and was open to the public on the 25th August. I went to the grand opening at the Jinney Ring and took plenty of notes and some photos. I then busily planned the workshop and tested the material out on myself.

This month I was contacted by several people for commissioned work and booked performances.

Week 1:

There were only 3 days in this week. I had hoped to make it across to Birmingham for Case Bailey’s Book Launch (he crowd funded this venture earlier in the year) and also to get back to Walsall for ‘Yes We Cant’* to see Gerry Potter who I discovered for the first time in January at Wolverhampton Arts Festival. Neither plan worked as an eventful life weekend meant I couldn’t manage the travel.

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*as in brick.

Week 2:

Term started back (without me) but I started back the same day. I added a second date to the Jinney Ring Poetry Workshops, tickets for the first one SOLD OUT by the end of August.

I started to organise INKSPILL (my online writing retreat) hosted on this blog for FREE in October.

I had my first WMRN Reader in Residence meeting in Warwick with a team of Librarians to plan what it might look like.

I went back across to Coventry in the evening for a night at the Inspire Cafe and Antony Owen’s book launch of The Nagasaki Elder.

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The following morning I did my first talk as a Poet. This was part of the Second Friday Story Series facilitated by Sue Johnson at Evesham Library. This opportunity was booked back in July and it was a good morning. There are now more plans afoot for a Evesham Festival of Words Fringe Event. The other speakers were Tom Bryson, a local Crime Writer and Ashleigh Jayes.

I spent the past few weeks organising a Poetry Event for the Salt Festival. A group of poets joined me at Canal Side Studios in the Square to perform poems. This year the festival moved location to Vine’s Park, the rain was torrential and there was even a thunderstorm, the whole event was set up with foot passers in mind and there weren’t many there – however, some stayed for a while and a few poets came to watch/support us. We all had fun.

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Week 3:

Started with food poisoning! I am not used to feeling ill now I no longer work a stressful 80 hour week. Staying under a blanket and feeling sorry for myself, watching trashy TV and not reaching my desk was quite hard. I also missed Licensed to Rhyme and a plethora of poets I hadn’t seen in ages.

I was approached to be part of a new commission. A current collaboration between a composer and a visual artist. how could I resist? It may also lead to more workshop work, which would be superb.

Credo Liz Johnson © 2017

I met with the Chair of the International Twin Town Committee to discuss my European Poetry Project. It is wonderful to have these WPL ideas met with so much enthusiasm.

I had my third radio slot on BBC Hereford & Worcester with Tammy Gooding and read my new hometown poem ‘Not on the High Street’.

In the evening, I headlined a split set at Permission to Speak, back in it’s home venue with shiny new owners and a gorgeous new stage. Claptrap is a perfect venue for all us performers. It was lovely to be reunited with everyone.

SpeakEasy

Three things in one day meant I was certainly ready to sleep. The following day I took more bookings and in the evening I headlined as WPL at SpeakEasy. It truly was a night of passion, emotion and brilliant performers. It was noted that all four Flash Fiction Slam Champions were in the same room at the same time! It was great to see Andrew Owens again. I have missed him loads, as has everybody else. Kieran Davis gifted me a belated congratulations present – a book I cannot wait to get stuck into!

I spent Friday missing submission deadlines, planning and writing.

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The weekend saw the start of a new term and a new group for Spark Young Writers – Writing West Midlands in Worcester at The Hive. Emails sent to workshop participants and last minute flapping (packing) for the Sculpture Trail Workshop.

Week 4: 

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I facilitated my first adult workshop in 12 years at the Jinney Ring Craft Centre – Sculpture & Poetry Workshop, it was a great success and now I wait in anticipation of finished poems which we plan to exhibit on site at the restaurant in November.

I researched and wrote some WW1 poetry for a commission, I have been working away on these since August, mainly reading and research. Finally the words presented themselves and I managed to write three poems for this project.

I spent time with the Contour submission pile. Contour is an online digital magazine for my tenure as Worcestershire Poet Laureate. The first issue (out next month) deals with PLACE as a theme, Worcestershire to be exact.

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I had my 2nd WMRN Reader-in-Residence meeting and the first one on site at Rugby Art Gallery, Museum & Library. It was a productive meeting and now I have my schedule and remit finalised for this role. I am currently spending hours at the desk researching and preparing, I will write a Guest Blog soon and reblog it here on AWF and then I start officially at the Library in November. This residency runs until March 2018 and is something I am very much looking forward to.

I finished writing poetry for Credo – Creative Synergy – the project/performance I was asked to contribute poetry to at the end of the month.

The ‘Adam Speaks’ NT project (which completes on the 25th November) took another twist and I am busy writing for that.

We had a fabulous Poetry Society Stanza meeting and I finished the week with a Room 204 Performance event at Edmunds Brewhouse, Birmingham. A catch up with family and a reunion with college friends.

Week 5:

Mr G and I went to see the Black Angels. A much anticipated gig, the tickets have been pinned to the fridge for months. It has been years since we last saw them.

Lit Allsorts BLF

I performed as part of a pre-event for Birmingham Literature Festival at Waterstones. Literary Allsorts – A Room 204 showcase.

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Then it was Christmas… I mean National Poetry Day. I blogged a lot, wrote some poems in the local library and went to support Voices of 1919.

The performance of this book by actors was moving and superb.

I performed in Credo-Creative Synergy, an event Liz Johnson asked me to be part of earlier this month back at Elmslie House, Malvern the night after Voices of 1919. This was an incredible project to become part of and I am grateful to Liz for approaching me to be involved. A blog post is owed.

I travelled down to London for Free Verse the Poetry Book Fair where I performed alongside Stephen Daniels in a V. Press Reading. I have been promising myself a trip to this book fair for a few years now, so to get down there and have an opportunity to perform was a double bonus. I had a fantastic day and absorbed an incredible amount of performances, readings and books!

 

 

 

 

March in Review

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March felt like a funny old month. The start of the month was rocky, the usual dips and peaks were replaced with a fairly big dip, which fortunately finished mid-March, the end of the month was full of highs and gathered rollercoaster speed, positively hyperactive.

I missed out on many events I wanted to attend due to lack of time, transport and energy. My writing schedule was full and I continued to work on organising festival events as well as time spent making exciting applications. Keeping my fingers crossed.

In addition to this – we have AN EMPTY ROOM, I managed (finally) to sort the smallest bedroom which is our first redecoration project in the house Mr G and I moved into the year I returned to writing (2013). If I wasn’t writing, I kid myself that we would have finished the entire house by now. But the thing I look forward to the most is nesting new writing spaces! The room has now been empty and awaiting action for three weeks, but in that time Mr G has transformed the front garden (much to the pleasure of the neighbours) and bought a sander in preparation for the next epic challenge- actually doing the room!

WEEK 1:

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V. Press collections: Career in Accompaniment by Alex Reed, Book of Bones by Kathy Gee, Fragile Houses by Nina Lewis and The Old Man in the House of Bone by David Calcutt, with illustrations from Peter Tinkler were reviewed by Sam Smith. You can read the full reviews here http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/

Sam Smith – Reviews in The Journal. http://thesamsmith.webs.com/

It was the final Permission to Speak on the 2nd, headlined by Pete the Temp (who I first saw at Verve).

Pete the Temp is a poet, educator and musician. His work has been featured on BBC radio and TV and in 2009 he became the National Poetry Slam Champion. Pete has toured theatres across England with his one man show ‘Pete (the Temp) vs Climate Change’. In 2015 he completed the MA Writer / Teacher Programme at Goldsmiths University. This led him to become one of the world’s first full-time spoken word educators to be embedded in a secondary school. He later went on to pilot the same work in a primary school. He was subsequently invited to do a TED Talk on the subject ‘Why Every School Should Have a Spoken Word Educator’. Pete has toured all over Europe with his art and now works as a poet and street performer. Rob Francis © 2017

We are all gutted that this event (of 2 years) has come to an end. The venue – which is one of the most amazing spaces I have had the pleasure to perform in, is closing. Rob Francis is extremely busy with writing and lecturing, maybe these things are sent by the universe as the timing seems right to free Rob up for other opportunities. He also got engaged recently, so I suspect there will be a busy non-poetry element going on in his life soon too. Fortunately I was tipped off just before the night kicked off, otherwise I would have been in floods when Rob announced it to the packed out room.

As always, it was a good night with an eclectic mix of open mics, poems, stories and extracts. It was fantastic to watch Pete in action again and I enjoyed his set immensely. Several lines have become ear-worms over the past month. I had an interesting conversation with him afterwards about poetry. You cannot help but be swept away on his passion-wave of enthusiasm.

Sadly I missed out on watching him perform again at the Artrix this week as I had a gig in Manchester the next day, work and lots of submission deadlines. If you get a chance to see him, you should grasp it for sure! ‘Keep it Lit!’

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.petethetemp.co.uk/

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/numbered-boxes-by-pete-the-temp-bearder

numbered boxes People who have read this collection rave about it – it is on my list to buy.

I spent the majority of writing time organising, I am currently organising three events for festivals which is keeping me busy.

I also had an opportunity to create work for Mental Health Awareness Week (May). Sarah Leavesley has, for several years posted poetry related to Mental Health during this week. ‘The Magnetic Diaries’ deals with these issues and last year you may remember I attended a workshop at the MAC which was part of the Magnetic Diaries Tour. Sarah mentioned back then that we could share our workshop poetry. As with lots of things at the moment it fell into the ‘to do’ pile. My main focus currently is the house, promoting Fragile Houses and organising festival events. Anyway, long story short, I did eventually manage to create a new poem from the workshop and another written especially for the blog project. More on this in May.

I had a request for a poem and spent the weekend working on editing and writing. I have found this month that I am very last minute. I discovered a submission opportunity the day before deadline (always a challenge) and more recently discovered an entire festival I had missed, a great shame as there was a workshop I would have loved to have attended.

WEEK 2:

The week I forgot to live… so many events missed. I felt the dip this week – my body/mind reacts by sleeping. I spent my writing time beavering away at schedules, organising festival events and generally needed sleep before bedtime. I did wish to be a busy poet and I guess I didn’t consider that I would need to be grown-up with scheduling or with reacting to the events I miss. Be careful what you wish for!

I missed Stirchley Speaks, Headlined by Tom McCann, Steve Pottinger was performing in Ludlow at The Poetry Lounge, I missed Howl – there was a new event in Cannock – Speaking Out Midlands, where all performers were open mic, allocated 10 minute slots. Charlotte had invited me some months ago and then word was spread on social media and it attracted a great crowd and I have read some rave reviews.

It clashed with SpeakEasy and when I discovered Adrian Mealing (who I have not seen for years) was headlining, I knew that I was going to save the car some miles. I do not regret this decision, SpeakEasy was a good night and it was lovely chatting and catching up with Adrian. CONFAB Adrian Confab Cabaret with John Hegley (the last time I saw Adrian).

Suffering the dip, being in a familiar environment with people I know was preferable. I was revitalised by the end of the evening. There were lots of new faces and audience, incredibly positive for the LitFest team. Suz performed the Squid Ballroom, part of her Laureate event – more on this next month, I am one of the invited performers.

I spent Friday tying up loose ends and trying to write. I sent my poems to Rick Saunders the brainchild behind Rob’s PTS thank you gift. We (the collective at PTS) have sent writing to Rick who has printed a pamphlet (more like a book at 80 odd pages) to present to Rob on the final night – Permission to Shut Up – at the end of March. I sent my poem about the stage ‘The Secret of Scary Canary’s Stage’ and one I wrote especially for Rob all about what he has achieved with PTS and what it means to the rest of us, originally titled ‘Permission to Speak’. He should be extremely proud of his achievements and hopefully this isn’t the last we have heard from him.

spark I spent an entire evening planning a non-fiction session for my Spark Young Writers group (Writing West Midlands). Inspired by the Royal Society of Photographers exhibition I walked around last month I decided to do Science Journalism. The group thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I am still wiping sweat from my brow – I was worried in case any of them chose to write about the bee’s anus. Which was an amazing piece of photography and incredibly fascinating to look at. I was amazed by the talented articles that came from this session. Some great writing.

It was also the DeMontfort Book Fair in Leicester – States of Independence, not something they hosted when I lived there for 5 years. Leicester is where I broke my performance poetry seal and will always have a little bit of a special place in my heart. Sarah Leavesley was there with her V. Press bookshop, she also launched her new book – a novella published by Mantle Lane Press.

http://www.mantlelanepress.co.uk/product/kaleidoscope available to buy for just £4.00

It always hurts to miss out on events, I dreamed of a busy writing life and I have one, but it means that sometimes I no longer have the freedom to march across the country to be a part of special evenings. There are also the inevitable date clashes where big decisions are made. Never have cloning and teleportation been so necessary in my life!

On Sunday I missed one of the best opportunities since the Verve Festival. Bang Said the Gun – which I have known about since 2014 and watched countless clips of online is touring and they kicked off in Stafford – relatively close (would be closer if the M6 ever flowed properly) with Jo Bell and Jonny Fluffypunk (two of my old time/all time favs) and I missed it! It was Sunday night, Week 3 and 4 are full in my diary, energy was low, as were funds and Mr G and I need to spend more time together and my car is the equivalent of an old broken pull along toy with some bits missing and broken/re-knotted string! I do not trust it on terribly long journeys or car park motorways where you hear it over heat within the first crawling 100 yards.

I missed an amazing night and an opportunity to see friends from that neck of the woods too. Gutted. I did go to check out tickets and look at the rest of the tour and this was the nearest and also had the featured artists I wanted to see. I would say there will be other times, but with something like this – there won’t be. Gutted with a capital G.

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Canterbury never had anything like this when I lived there either!

Week 3:

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I knew I would miss License to Rhyme at the Artrix, featuring Pete the Temp. I had to work and manage Manchester the following evening and I spent part of Monday choosing and rehearsing/timing my set. I also spent time with family, which I hadn’t planned much beforehand and this left me hours behind on writing time. Not that it would be any other way. Family comes first. It just meant the will I /won’t I… became a definite No I won’t!

Again I heard good things about the evening and am particularly disappointed that I missed Fergus McGonigal and Lorna Meehan performing.

I did receive some exciting emails which made a night in with my inbox particularly worthwhile. And have since taken action on these – fingers crossed once again!

On Tuesday I headlined alongside Becky Cheeriman and Mark Pajak in Manchester at Sarah L. Dixon’s Quiet, Quiet Loud. I have known about this booking at Quiet, Quiet Loud for months and the butterflies went tribal. Originally looking to headline in April or May, the gig was brought forward as Sarah L Dixon is on the move and this was to be her final event at The Llyod’s.

Rick Saunders had signed up for the open mic and kindly offered to chauffeur up the M6. Unfortunately, days before his car broke down and so we were left with some last minute arrangements. In the end we hired a car (scared that mine wouldn’t make a 200 mile round trip in a night). The journey there was fine, even passing a Willis milk tanker – Rick’s stage name is Willis the Poet…  we passed the time chatting about the spoken word scene and stopping just once for the most expensive bottle of service station water – I think it was made from diamonds or something! The journey back was horrendous, closed motorways, detours and a SATNAV that was convinced the motorway junction was still open.

The event itself was worth every mile of motorway network and it was a pleasure to headline at the final Quiet, Quiet Loud. You can read my full review here and Rick managed to post his the very next day. https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/quietly-does-it/

Huge thanks again to Rick for the lift.

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/manchester-quiet-quiet-loud-headline/

I spent Wednesday morning before work recovering, I found out about the Science and Arts Festival hosted by Birmingham University and a creative writing workshop that I would have loved to attend, although it would have been a lot before work to manage. I have pencilled it in for next year as there were lots of interesting events.

I spent Wednesday night working on submissions and on Thursday mum and I went to see Verve – Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Mr G bought us tickets for Christmas. Verve-web-8-crop-1876x1055

http://www.nscd.ac.uk/verve/

They made me want to dance again, to create dance poetry and to lose myself in costume and movement. The fact that my body could barely manage to sit through a 2 hour production tells me otherwise, but my soul is still very much committed!

I spent the weekend on things other than writing and chiselled out some time at the end of Sunday to write applications and work on my writing action plan. There are some intended submissions to create before the end of the month and three sets to plan for EarthHour (25th March), HerStory (31st March) and Poetry Ballroom (2nd April).

Week 4:

The week started with a flurry of activity organising poetry events and writing. February was a busy month for making applications and devising projects and this month sees more energy focused on these and some fruition.

I spent the first part of the week in rest (working, sleeping, living) and saving energy for a series of 3 days of poeting. Which was easy as only one of them involved performing. Although I left it somewhat late to arrange a set and fine tune the details.

I also agreed to hiding some GOLDEN TICKETS for Birmingham Literature Festival. It is the 20th Anniversary this year and the team have organised a Spring Festival to celebrate. They have sent out Golden Tickets to be found in local bookshops, Art cafes and libraries. I have taken two under my wing and let them fly (and hide).

https://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/2017/03/will-you-find-a-golden-ticket/

The lucky finder wins a free ticket (worth at least £10) to an event of their choice. I want to find one of these – but it may cost more petrol money than buying a ticket. Fun idea. Great one. One I may steal in the future! First time I have ever felt like Willy Wonka… it was a good feeling.

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On Thursday I saw Hollie McNish, I love Hollie…  it has been a while since I saw her perform and part of me knew that this book would be difficult for me for personal reasons, this is why I have not yet bought a copy – but watching her breathing magic into the tale and hearing such personal disclosure and truth was wonderful. hollie 2 The event had been organised at The Hive (Library) in partnership with Poetry On Loan – well done to Brenda Read-Brown!

I had been to the basement space once with my writing group and was amazed to find the event not in the studio – that was until I saw the size of the audience! Holly thought, it being a library gig in a small city there may be about 20 people! Multiply that by 10! A smashing night.

Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/hollie-mcnish-nobody-told-me/

My review of the Verve Poetry Festival went live on Sabotage Reviews. http://sabotagereviews.com/

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Stanza happened on Friday – for the first time in months I thoroughly enjoyed it – and in a strange way all of our poems were love poems (but not the sort you imagine).

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Over the weekend I celebrated Earth Hour and Mother’s Day. Earth Hour was amazing, I went to the event organised by Worcester LitFest at Café Bliss. You can read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/earth-hour-with-wlf/

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Week 5

I spent the majority of my spare time writing and editing and planning how an earth I was going to manage this final week of performances and deadlines. The solution was an A4 checklist that I had very little leeway on.

I also had another poem published ‘Rag Tree’ which will be in the Beltane anthology by Three Drops. More news about festival events I am organising/performing in and events that I am just performing in. Future workshops to book and lots of potential festival tickets to be bought. I wrote new work and edited older poems.

Tuesday evening saw the final PTS – Permission to Speak become Permission to Shut Up – as it was a work night I was worried I may not last until the end, but scribbled a new poem especially for the last event (for now), the night before and got a short set ready. I was due to headline in May, potentially Rob may have a new venue by then, but I get the feeling that he needs/wants a mini-break and this would be the time to take it.

It was a great night, all in all and I will mark the occasion with a blog post as soon as I get some spare time. I took lots of pictures and stayed until the end to see Rick present Rob with his pamphlet.

42 in Worcester celebrated it’s 6th birthday and I took a newly scribed poem to celebrate. Rick Saunders headlined Spoken Trend on the same night, which I had to miss. Please someone clone me! Event clashes… every poet’s nemesis! 42 was fun and again, I will mark the occasion with a full blogpost when I have a little time. Polly made an amazing Black Forest Gateaux cake! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. All the performances were bang on and the celebratory air was sweet.

LINKS TO FOLLOW.

With two days left of March and Easter around the corner, you may think that was it… no, I am playing the game – How much can you pack into 48hours?

Thursday I gave myself a night off from performing/events – missing out on Caffe Grande Slam in Dudley again, I will get there. I spent the evening editing a new poem (my 3rd this week) and submitting work.

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I also received an exciting email from my publisher. Another review of Fragile Houses, this time on Sabotage Reviews. How wonderful to start and end the month with reviews. You can read Rachel Stirling’s incredibly intricate review here.

http://sabotagereviews.com/2017/03/30/fragile-houses-nina-lewis/

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I discovered Claire Walker and Holly Magill have embarked on editing a new Magazine ‘Atrium’, they have both edited for Kate Garrett at Three Drops recently and this new opportunity morphed from that experience. More on Atrium soon.

I saw Heather Wastie’s Nationwide advert – which was as equally exciting as watching Jo Bell’s and what made it special was seeing it first thing before work and in the final adverts before bed. Don’t ask me how I have time to watch TV and complete my mammoth writing tasks!

Holly McNish won the Ted Hughes award (one of the judges this year was Jo Bell – busy as always). Amazing news & recognition!

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/hollie-mcnishs-poetic-motherhood-memoir-wins-ted-hughes-award-518171

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/29/hollie-mcnishs-funny-and-serious-poetry-wins-ted-hughes-prize

I received news of another successful Festival bid for this summer. More on this soon.

I completed the month with a Woo Feminista event HerStory at Café Bliss. I will blog and link it up here as soon as I can.

And now I am ready for NaPoWriMo, Poetry Ballroom and a rather-already-regrettable booking of an almost full week of work! I booked Monday off as I have 3 consecutive events this weekend and will be typing until my fingers go numb finishing my writing tasks over the next 24 hours!

I hope you all had a good month too. Leave me some of your highlights in the comments, it would be great to hear from you.

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Keep Writing x

The Weather is more July than September. Review of July

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I have learnt many lessons during my pamphlet being published, one of the many is how difficult keeping up with timely blog posts can be. Never underestimate the time it takes a blogger to create a post.

Here we are in September without a review of the summer. So tonight I am posting my review of July and August and updating The Write Year. I should be happily promoting my new book and INKSPILL, I will get to these matters soon. Did I mention I have a book out?

Review of July

WEEK 1:

July started fairly quietly, my priority was to complete editing the pamphlet, which by this point was being batted back and forth between myself and the publishers fairly frequently. Lesson 2 do not underestimate the length of the editing process even after you have completed your manuscript.

On Sunday 3rd July, I happily experienced my first taste of Evesham Festival of Words. I have been aware for many years of AsparaFest but never made one. This year the festival had a revamp. I was one of a merry group of poets completing a walking performance from the Bell Tower, through town and back to Abbey Park. The event was organised by Polly Stretton and this is what people had to say;

Just back from the poetry walk around Evesham’s historic centre, starting in the ringing chamber of the newly-restored Bell Tower. The walk was organised and led by talented poet, Polly Stretton and was supported by lots of other poets. The sun shone and the poetry was really enjoyable. Evesham Festival of Words continues to excel!

Thoroughly enjoyed the poetry walk on the Sunday morning but unfortunately that was the only event I could attend. Well done to all involved. MW

I performed at Stirchley Speaks and had the pleasure of watching Charley Barnes fill her first featured slot. A fabulous night, as always.

I attended a WWM meeting as we set plans in motion for our 2016/17 groups. My new challenge is a new group, different age group and a blended version of the what went before. It isn’t just the name of the groups that is changing. Our first group took place last weekend and it was brilliant! Back in July I was a nervous wreck thinking about it all.

I missed several events I had hoped to attend and continued to plan INKSPILL, including conversations and meetings with our Guest Writers.

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WEEK 2:

A heavy week of editorial work, sprinkled with events. I was lucky to meet and watch the awesome (in the true sense of the word) performance poet Buddy Wakefield, when he headlined HOWL, in Birmingham. It was the tail end of his massive UK tour and as he didn’t want to fly any merchandise back home, we were able to buy GOLD at silver prices. I treated myself to his full collection and the very next day opened it randomly (it has one of those lovely soft plastic covers that tease you with smoothness), and read a line, I then started free writing and used that later in a week to create a poem. I have since read the book properly and I am so glad that I have a copy of this book, which I will probably read again before the year is out!

I also managed to get to SpeakEasy to watch a full set of Kathy Gee, I have seen her headline before and have always loved listening to her poetry. It was a pleasure to be there and hear again from her debut collection ‘Book of Bones’. http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/book-of-bones.html

I heard about a great event (now tomorrow!) ‘Early Bird – An Evening of Poetry Readings’ featuring; David Morley, Sarah Howe, Jo Bell, Luke Kennard, Jonathan Edwards, Claire Trevien. I booked my tickets within minutes of discovering the event.

Open Poetry at the Walsall Arboretum with David Calcutt where we had an enjoyable afternoon in the sun, staff even supplied us with the shade of golfing umbrellas. I performed on the open mic and bought my copy of David’s V.Press pamphlet ‘The Old Man in the House of Bone’. https://davidcalcutt.com/the-old-man-in-the-house-of-bone/

I secured our first Guest Writer confirmation for INKSPILL 2017 – Our annual online writing retreat, which is still FREE.

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Week 3:

I discovered I had poems accepted for the ‘We Are Not Alone’ anthology, which is a collection of poetry covering aspects of depression. The anthology is out later this year. They have published a poem I wrote about a man suffering depression in secret and one that is more autobiographical which also appears in my debut pamphlet (have I mentioned it again?) ‘Fragile Houses’, published by V. Press and available from 3rd October. *Well there has to be some positive impact posting a monthly review 2 months late! http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/fragile-houses.html

I was delighted to have this acceptance as I have hardly written new material for months and my last submissions were made in the spring.

I missed a couple of events and learnt about some marketing opportunities which will hopefully spread the potential audience for my poetry pamphlet.

I signed my poetry contract! A highlight of this year, especially watching the faces of the poet witnesses when they read the title of this collection. My editor was very patient about my chronic indecision and constant brainstorming and I was receptive of her knowledge and advice. You know a title works with the reaction that night.

I started my long summer holiday officially, although I had already had practically the whole last week of term off. There is never much cover work at this point.

I threw myself into getting INKSPILL organised.

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Week 4:

Sadly, we said goodbye to another poet this year, Clive Dee. His funeral was arranged and I think he would have been so proud of his kids for the service. He would have loved hearing the laughter and sure he appreciated the splashes of colour that were everywhere. A gentle soul, loved by most people he had contact with and a sad loss to us all. It still doesn’t seem very real at all. He was very secretive about what he was going through so it was a shock to many of us.

I am happy he discovered the world of poetry when he did.

I missed Daniel Sluman and David Clarke performing in Birmingham because the day after Clive’s funeral Mr G and I headed off into the Welsh mountains for our first holiday in 3 years!

We had a wonderful break and it was good to spend time together. The only tech being the TV in our suite, which was bigger than any at home – and Mr G has a big TV!

That was July! A month of high ups and a few broken downs.

BL me Universe poem

Rangzeb © 2014

 

 

Review of May

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May Review

May (like April) was a funny month of missing events I had planned to attend. My main focus returned to writing, more precisely editing which I find harder and less fun than creating, it is a bit like cleaning (which I also despise) but the end result of fresh and better is rewarding. I enjoy re-reading a tighter collection, but the editing time is like moving rocks with bare hands! I have to force myself into editing mode. It isn’t about being precious over my darlings, I learnt to kill them in my first year (2013), it is just the effort of crafting, the exhausted mind, the energy needed – and time.

Week 1

May started with a Bank Holiday weekend and Mr G and I went to see Mark Lanegan perform (our 3rd time), the next day at work was hard and followed by an evening at Stirchley Speaks, where Mike Alma was one of the featured poets. I was glad I managed to make it over to support him, it was (as always) a great night, filled with warmth and energy.

Next month is Jess Davies’ last month hosting before she moves on to her new exciting plan of events and workshops. She has had an exceptional year at the P Café, I am sure Callum Bate and his sister, Melissa, will do well hosting this established spoken word night when they take over in the summer and I wish them luck. They are dynamic performers themselves and featured as ‘Prime Poetry’ at the first Stirchley Speaks back in 2015.

An exciting Friday Night (6th May) saw Kathy Gee’s Book Launch, her first collection, published by V Press. It was at Avoncroft Museum , I hadn’t been there for  years and it was the PERFECT venue. Buy a copy here Book of Bones It was a wonderful evening of poetry in the Long Room. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/book-of-bones-kathy-gee/

I missed several writing events over the weekend as Mr G and I went to a Kate Bush Tribute, which was amazing. ‘Cloudbusting‘ are the UKs longest running Kate Bush tribute. Mr G is a total fan of Bush, she never hit my radar (being slightly younger), of course I knew of her – who doesn’t! As an adult I appreciate the poetry of her music and her wildly free artistry.

The singer of Cloudbusting was amazing, what she could do with her voice! Incredible. We loved every minute, they were down a guitarist and still it was exceptional. I can only imagine how good the full band would have been. What was lovely was her references to Kate and seeing what big fans of her music they all were.

Week 2

I finally made it back to SpeakEasy (12th May) in there new home, Café Bliss, a venue I love so much I am currently trying to organise a party there! It was great to hear everyone again, Spoz was the featured poet and he brought lots of his Calais Refugee poetry with him for a hard hitting set. It was good to catch up with him, as he is having a busy year including touring TEN LETTERS, which I was lucky enough to catch in Birmingham. Link to follow.

We have also been in our lovely home for 3 years now (still with lots to do), this made me appreciate that I have been living the creative dream for a while. This will always be my Poetry house. I feel grateful, although due to getting the house straightened out and working on my manuscript I have only managed to carve writing time out recently and long for the weeks to find structure again, where I can manage a writing day/ days.

Week 3

Mum and I experienced the World Premiere of Liam Scarlett’s amazing new ballet ‘Frankenstein’, performed by the Royal Opera House in association with San Francisco Ballet (I stayed just up the road from the dance school on one of my US trips)! I felt like I was watching the next BIG thing, this ballet steps into the shoes of a 21st Century The Rite of Spring, with regard to the importance of what Scarlett has achieved. I only hope it is studied in years to come. Bravo to the ROH for taking the risk, Scarlett is an immensely talented 30 year old (jealous). I was part of something special that night and it bore a new ambition. One day I hope my writing may become a ballet (I danced until my 20s).

http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/frankenstein-by-liam-scarlett

On the 19th I took part in Worcester’s first WLF Poetry Salon, based on the European Poetry Brothel concept. This was the brainchild of Charley Barnes and was an exciting night at the Rectifying House. I shared my booth with Maggie Doyle and a great time was had by performers and listeners alike. Link to follow.

May 20th saw the end of Mental Health week, something which is close to my heart as it was own demise which brought me back to writing from a depression diary to the world of poetry. Leisa Taylor/ Woo Feminista took over Café Bliss with a night of Spoken Word, where brave poets shared more than words and stories. It was incredibly moving.

The evening after (21st May) I performed a set for Arts Week in Parks Café, as part of the Poetry Extravaganza.

Week 4

I finally made it to a Stanza meeting after missing several months. It was great to reconnect although I had been busy with work and my editing brain was fairly useless. I took a poem which was inspired by a Nano poem prompt in a roundabout way.

I didn’t get a chance to submit anything this month, I didn’t even finish my action plan for May. My main focus was editing my manuscript and I put enough time into that to let it have some rest time before coming back to it for further reading.

I missed Cheltenham Poetry Festival completely (Wenlock & Stratford too) and as I write this I have so far missed all earmarked events at my local festival, Worcester LitFest – look out for some posts on this too.

The past 18months of work on my pamphlet has taught me lots on the process, I am also becoming aware that the focus and energy needed to achieve such things means sacrifices, including festival tickets. Still I will focus on the petrol I have saved and how much smaller my carbon footprint will be this year – silver linings!

I missed a photo shoot for the poetry E-book with Shakti Women, as my car was failing its MOT at the time! I have a photographer willing to take head shots now though, all is not lost. If only I could lose my double chin(s)!

I had two personal invites to workshops in June from poets I respect and was very touched to have been thought of. I signed a poetry contract for Shabda Press, three poems in the up and coming Nuclear Impact Anthology, Broken Atoms in Our Hands. There is nothing like signing contracts to make you feel like a real writer.

I performed at 42 – where fairly hilariously most of us worked the theme of the evening into lines in our poems or stories ‘Blacker than the Night’- by the time I performed in the 2nd half people were listening for the theme punchline I think.

It was also a platform for me to perform one of my Nuclear poems, the message is important and the places you can share such material is limited.

It was a great night. Thoroughly enjoyed.

I am certainly back in my poetry skin after a few wobbly months and look forward to the upcoming festivals and booked performances of the summer.

me

 

 

 

April End of Month Review

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April is of course National Poetry Writing Month, NaPoWriMo, reclassified as Global Poetry Writing Month this year, GloPoWriMo. This is the 3rd year I have taken part, although I am on the go slow and as the end of the month is reached I am about to start Week 2. May is an extremely busy month but I will endeavour to complete the challenge by the end of the month too.

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I had reached a plateau by the end of March and was mainly offline editing. This continued for most of April, I even missed Wenlock Poetry Festival, a staple event of mine since 2014. As with March I missed a lot of local events including a pop up poetry event in Birmingham, regular open mic/ spoken word nights and a few submission deadlines. I also missed a bid for an arts job that would have been right up my street. And I missed Kate Tempest at Waterstones and Attila the Stockbroker, the entire Stratford Literature Festival, including Shakespeare 400 events. Since January I’ve worked with Action Plans, but didn’t really write one for April and kind of flailed around achieving very little and missing a lot. sua litfestwenlock poetry fest

I voted for some favourites in this year’s Saboteur Awards and got involved in a new poetry project of my own. I have also been asked to take part in some exciting events over the next few months.

I performed for the first time in weeks at an event organised by Mike Alma, an afternoon of music and spoken word in a church, it was a wonderful afternoon and left me feeling buoyant. All artists involved are hoping he will organise another one soon.

A fortnight later I performed again, this time for a Shakespeare Event the final Mouth & Music, this time really was the last. I had written a sonnet especially for the night (my first ever sonnet) and lost it on a computer file somewhere (I know – back up), so on Tuesday after The Collaborative Arts Network event I attended, which was an interesting event – Arts in Mental Health, I set about writing my set. It was a good night, complete with medieval  musicians. I will write a post about it and link it up soon. WAP logo

The following night I went to 42 to share a set of ‘Bedevilled’ poetry and was booked for some Worcester LitFest Events.

Following a pile of rejections, I have experienced some success. 5 poems published this month. Dali Clock, from my forthcoming collection, was published by Hobo Review. A poem written especially for Fat Damsel was accepted by Take Ten. Living Emptiness will appear in the next issue. Shabda Press accepted Half Life, Shadows Burnt into Stone and Becquerel Town for the next anthology ‘Nuclear Impact Broken Atoms in Our Hands’.

I am now back on the Poetry Wagon having taken a little unscheduled break. Although I missed stanza for the second month running and a few deadlines scurried past before I could catch them.

We all need a break from time to time. Looking back at how busy last month was, it is no small wonder.

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Review of March

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March was a funny month, I took my first break from writing since the winter. It wasn’t intentional, just happened due to working more hours and needing some time off to relax, read and sleep. I had 5 days off from writing, followed by another week, during this time I missed several events/ performances. Towards the end of March there were 3 events I decided to not attend to enable me to afford the trip down to London. The cost of the 3 events covered my transport costs.

I had intended more writing and reading than performing in 2015, but I thought I would plan it. I feel I need to get to grips with a year that is running away with me.

Our laptop broke and I lost a lot of work in progress, editing that I hadn’t backed up. I didn’t have the heart to deal with this straight away – now in Mid-April (already!) I have started to tackle the lost work. This of course takes extra hours.

Back to March…

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BLOGS & PROJECTS

I finally managed to send David Calcutt my Caldmore Garden poetry, fortunately it was published on his website before our laptop broke.

My MOOC Poetry Course online with the University of Iowa was supposed to start, it was delayed and is due to start now on April 13th.

I received some incredibly exciting news from WWM (Writing West Midlands) which I am not yet at liberty to share. Needless to say I AM OVER THE MOON!

I booked tickets for Stratford Literary Festival next month. sua litfest

I am reading a LOT. Prose & poetry.

The 52ers created a new group ‘MINT’ so we can stay in touch when it is all over, I have tickets for 52 at Wenlock Poetry Festival and have ordered the book, we are also meeting/ performing at Stratford Poetry Festival in the summer.

AND – very excitingly I was invited, by Hark Magazine to perform at 10 minute set in London at the launch for Issue 4.

 

SUBMISSIONS

I submitted to Under the Radar and Paperswans, fingers crossed for those new-works.

I missed a few other submissions as life got busy and deadlines past as they sometimes do. I need to get more organised.

 

PERFORMING POETRY

Permission to Speak

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/poetry-events-in-march-permission-to-speak-4-3-15/

Spoken word at The Ort

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/performing-poetry-spoken-word-at-the-ort-6-3-15/

Malvern Book Promoters

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/malvern-book-promoters-mad-march-book-promotion-events/

Nomad Variety – Martineau Gardens Charity night

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/nomad-variety-at-martineau-gardens/

Hark Magazine Launch – London

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/hark-magazine-launch-reading-in-london/

World Poetry Day https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/celebrating-world-poetry-day/

Southcart Books

Caldmore Community Gardens open day

Sunday Xpress

 

I missed Mouth & Music, SpeakEasy, Poetry Bites, Drummonds 42,

 

EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS

WWM meeting (there were many last month)

November – End of Month Review

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I cannot believe we are only one month from the end of the 2014! This month has been busy and lots has been going on both in terms of writing and life (not that I usually separate the two).

inkspill keyboard

Blog & Projects

With only two months of 52 remaining I am making effort to actually post my poems in the group and receive feedback and editing support. I wish I had more time for this amazing project but I have been ‘on the road’ a lot this year and with one thing and another have not always found time to work on the poems as much as I would have liked. Those half baked 52 poems have never seen the light of day on the site as the intention is not workshop standard poetry.

I do plan to plug the gaps in 2015 – especially as I presume there won’t be 52 as a weekly event anymore, so I should have time to work on them.

I continue to work on a big project of my own, which I hope will reach daylight by 2015/16!

Paragram have sent proof copies and orders are already stacking up for the ‘Remember’ Anthology – featuring my poem ‘Picasso of Dance’.

Submissions

I only made two submissions this month, I also finished my Hanbury Hall Poems for our Poetry Society/Stanza group. We are still not sure how these poems will be used, but I will keep you posted.

Performing Poetry

med

After a year of open mics and events I have decided to spend the next 12 months on writing focus. This does not mean that I will not perform, it only means I will perform less, saving a fortune in transport costs and allowing more time to write. This year I have especially enjoyed seeking out special events to be part of, finding these opportunities is a priority in 2015. I have enjoyed managing 6 performances, a workshop and a book launch instead of 9- 12 open mics and my writing has been far more productive with the extra time I have gifted myself.

Coventry Nightblue Fruit with Cork Poets at the Big Comfy Bookshop – Adam Wyeth, Cal Doyle & Kathy D’Arcy.

Nightblue fruit

Mouth & Music at the BHG – Boars Head with Fergus McGonigal & Humdrum Express

M & M

Medical Themed Quiet Compere at the Strand, Cheltenham with Sarah L Dixon

Medical Themed

Poetry Bites – Kitchen Garden Café Birmingham

A group of contributors to the Restless Bones Poetry Anthology formed the Headline act at this event.

16 Days of Activism -Library of Birmingham

Restless & 16 Days

Craft-and-Conflict-web-210x200 wolverhampton art orguk

Events & Workshops

Workshop with Emma Purshouse, Bilston Art Gallery, Craft & Conflict

Craft & Conflict

Book Launch – The Failed Idealist’s Guide to the Tatty Truth By Fergus McGonigal

Book Launch

Stanza

WWM – Writing West Midlands – Young Writing Group & Mentoring

WWM

Review of October

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The end of last month was so crazy busy I am only just tying up loose blog ends now, nearly midway through November!

October was a true turning point month, goals I have been working towards for a while came together and opportunities flowed one after another. It was a fab month I thoroughly enjoyed being busy. Half term was filled with writing events and I also managed (or was possibly forced by exhaustion) a couple of days off. Think I have had about a week so far this year because I love what I do – it doesn’t feel like work. blogging

I started reviewing my writing life in weekly chunks as it was becoming too much to blog in real time about my schedule.

OCTOBER highlights include;

National Poetry Day – I loved finding out how other people had marked this special day, some of the things people got up to were incredible.

I hosted the opening event of Arts All Over the Place – Poetry, Performance and Everything Else as the Poetry Princess, followed by a writing workshop with Jan Watts and Cathy Crossley, next I  performed at Roy McFarlane’s Soulful Poetry Event – all part of the AAOTP Festival. Then I hotfooted to the library in Birmingham to watch the new Poet Laureate being announced. Adrian Blackledge became the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2014-2015

This day also marked ONE YEAR since returning to the OPEN MIC circuit!

RELATED LINKS:

National Poetry Day

PP PPEEAAOTP_3Roy Mcfarlenme

BLFestbirm poet laureate 2014nat1nat 1

Literature Festivals including Birmingham Literature Festival, Poetry, Performance & Everything Else Festival and Book to the Future Festival.

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  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.

I then returned to the festival the following weekend to perform my own commissioned poetry about Urban Nature for Naked Lungs.

A spoken-word exploration of the intersection of urban and natural.

Our lives in the city are played out amongst the products of human endeavour, the frantic pace of the metropolis tending to obscure our innate intimacy with the natural environment. Yet nestled within the concrete and mirrors are jungles brimming with other lives. Birmingham has recently been declared a Biophillic city and is praised for its biodiversity. How does the city structure our experiences of the non-human? Is it valuable that we facilitate such experiences? A group of writers will be producing and performing work dealing with these questions.

It felt amazing to be part of the festival just one year after discovering it! My first commissioned performance project, I hope there are more opportunities in the future.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/birmingham-literature-festival-naked-lungs-urban-nature/

BLF With Great PleasureBLF Rich McMahonBLF Tell me on a sundayNAKED_LUNGS_200x200px

Full Story

I performed a set for Phenomenal Women organised by Jan Watts for the Book to the Future Festival at Birmingham University and Arts All Over the Place celebrated the end of the PPAEE Festival with a huge party, I was delighted to perform an amusing set for the them and have Swingerella share the stage with me.

book-to-the-future-2014Mad hatterme and swing 1

SpeakEasy also celebrated the 1st Anniversary, I was happy when they asked me to perform a set at this special event. More

Speakeasy OCTinkspill-pink2014

I also completed my biggest poetry project to date and organised INKSPILL for the 2nd Year – an online writing retreat hosted right here on this blog. There is a pinned post on the front page of this blog (homepage) with links to the main articles from our INKSPILL weekend, go check it out. This year I was joined by Writer William Gallagher and Poets Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie who wrote and filmed some wonderful guest posts full of knowledge, advice and experience.

My brother’s Wedding at the beginning of the month was a non-writing highlight. I read a poem by Roy Croft during the service to the tear stained faces of the bride and groom – toughest of audiences. It was a truly magical day!

That is a lot of highlights for just over 4 weeks!

 

Blogs & Projects

I continue with 52, although I am behind in week 40 something. I regret not being able to take full advantage of the community of this group, my own writing schedule has taken off this year and I am busy working when I am not writing and some weeks cannot find the time I promised to carve out for 52. We are all getting reflective as the year draws to a close.

Naked Lungs – My 1st commission – 2 other poets and myself performed at Birmingham Literature Festival in a piece called Urban Nature, it was an amazing experience.

Hanbury Hall Art Exhibition – an opportunity through the Poetry Society Stanza group to write poetry inspired by art in the gallery. I enjoyed the exhibition and still need time to create, write and edit my submission.

henrace3

INKSPILL – kept me busy over the last week of October, writing and researching articles, communicating with Guest writers and organising the schedule of events. It was great fun and lots of people have accessed the posts.

 

Submission

I completed a poetry project and missed lots of end of month submissions.

Wrote poetry for my commissioned performance and received rejection from publications I submitted to over the summer.

 

Performing Poetry (which I attempted to cut back on to maximise writing time)

Events I performed at include;

Mouth & Music, Kidderminster, hosted by Heather Wastie, headlined by Jasmine Gardosi. Where I first performed my Halloween Set – to the theme of Ghosts and Ancestors, including two new poems written especially for the event.

Oct me saffron tomsmemouth-music-poster-oct14

 

worcs speakSpeakEasy, Worcester Hosted by Fergus McGonigal – Worcester Poet Laureate, headlined by Antony Owen and Spoz, I was lucky enough to be asked to perform and was delighted as this was the 1st Anniversary Special! There was CAKE!

 

Poetry For Lunch, The Library of Birmingham, hosted by Jan Watts.pfl me choosing poemspfl oct

Restless Bones Birmingham Promo with Born Free Film at The Ort. restless the bookborn free

42 Halloween Special

Mostly Halloween at the Ort – a 10 minute set.

 

Word Up, in Halloween Fancy Dress Birmingham, hosted by Ddotti Bluebell – a night of amazing poetry. Headlined by Daisy Edwards & Swingerella.

hallo1hallo2hallo3

 

Workshops & Events

Writing Workshop David Calcutt Community  Garden Walsall, WILD FIRE

Poetry Workshop Angela France in Stratford-Upon-Avon

AAOTP Award Evening – where I received a HERO AWARD for stepping in last minute to open the festival.

Alan Durham’s Hen Race Book Launch

 

Meetings and Projects

We had the annual meeting of writers with Writing West Midlands.

My 1 to 1 Mentoring Role for WWM was made official and planning started for these sessions.

I also managed to get to Stanza this month again, hosted by Sarah Kemp. stanza scrabble