Tag Archives: Nine Arches Press

Review of July

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Week 1: 

Workshop/National Trust Project

Room 204 is involved in the Croome Court project Adam Speaks. We met Chris Alton, the Lead Artist at a workshop at Writing West Midlands Headquarters in the Custard Factory on Saturday 1st July.

1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young  © 2017 Peter Young

This was an epic 6 hr workshop. Chris is working with 4 groups Kimichi School, The Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School. It was exciting to know that these workshops will feed Chris’s art.

Adam Speaks has been set up by Rachel Sharpe and Kiki Claxton for the National Trust, following Plumlines last year.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/adam-speaks

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© 2017 Rachel Hill

Chris Alton, from Croydon, is a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice brings together distant, yet connected cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he utilises seemingly incongruous juxtapositions to address the multi-layered nature of prevailing social and political conditions. 

© National Trust Croome Court Adam Speaks

Literature Festival

Sunday saw my 3rd official WPL appearance on the Poetry Walk for Evesham Festival of Words. This event had a great turn out and beautiful Sunday morning sunshine for the poetry walk, a gentle stroll across the green park around the Bell Tower in Evesham.

I performed some Evesham poems written especially for the event and enjoyed listening to poetry and prose. It was good to see some people who happened upon our merry group, stay and listen.

It was good to reconnect with Sue Johnson and I booked another event later for this year.

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This festival always has a great programme. They are already booked up for next year.

Radio

On Monday I had my first Radio slot with Tammy Gooding BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester. This was something Maggie Doyle instigated during her WPL tenure (2013/14). It is a tradition picked up by other Laureates and I am happy to continue with it.

I read ‘Gander’ one of the poems written for Evesham Festival of Words. Tammy is amazing at putting you at ease. She was also impressed with an interview which needed no editing! It has been decades since I stepped foot inside a studio. I was nervous, but had such a great time! I am already booked in for August.

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Performances

During the evening I took a guest slot at Licensed to Rhyme, Maggie Doyle & Spoz’s monthly poetry event at the Artrix.

Headlining this month was former WPL Suz Winspear, Claire Walker was the other guest poet and there were a plethora of open mic-ers. It was a fabulous evening.

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And before I start sounding like the Hungry Caterpillar… on Tuesday I took a rest. There were events I would have liked to attend but I was attempting to conserve energy for my Headline slot at Uncorked.

Having pencilled in Ledbury Poetry Festival, Lichfield and Shropshire – we arrive at Thursday.

Headline

I was booked for Uncorked at Bottles a while ago (before WPL), originally scheduled for June, I swapped into July so Charley would have a chance to sell her recently published books. I on the other hand have had my final 5 copies of Fragile Houses for months… this is the way it goes sometimes. I didn’t sell any books but I had a great evening.

Sean Colletti created a masterpiece idea for the introductory sets so instead of the traditional 5 minute teaser from each of the Headline poets we worked together on Sean’s concept of a waiting room & the result was an interesting concoction , especially considering it was unrehearsed.

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Clive Oseman, Jake Scott & Sean Colletti were all wonderful headliners and we had a good range of open floor spots too. Holly has created something magic here, helped by a sensational venue Bottles Wine Bar in Worcester.

Workshop

Up early the next morning (hard to sleep on post-performance adrenaline), I drove to Shrewsbury for a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. I would have paid just to meet these two poets who have been on my radar for a long time. So having the bonus of a workshop was superb.

Unfortunately, I missed the performance the night before as I was at Uncorked. It wasn’t a prerequisite to the workshop though. The workshop was based on epistolary poetry. Which is something I have only tried to a few times. Strange because I used to love writing letters, I had 33 international penfriends by 12 years old. I also started writing to an old, re-united friend during my deepest depression. These letters are now even more special to me as she sadly passed away.

The workshop was brilliant and I got some ideas from it, as well as books. Love their work and cannot wait to spend time with the pages.

I recently (28th June) re-wrote one of my workshop poems and took it to stanza. I will do something with it in the future. I am pleased with the result and know I would never have written it without this workshop.

It was at the Severn Theatre in a huge room, necessary as it was a large group. It was lovely to reconnect with the Shropshire crew. I have been busy lately and it has cut me off from many out of county events. I cannot remember the last time I made it to perform in Birmingham beyond Waterstones events. I know how quickly the poetry scene moves there, so it will be full of people I don’t know – which is exciting.

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I was booked in for my first Cathedral Poets Workshop in Worcester the following morning and an action packed day in Ledbury on the Sunday. Reason and experience told me Mr. G and I needed some time and I needed to rest. So regrettably I cancelled the workshop and now have to wait until October. October is an incredibly busy month with Swindon Poetry Festival, Birmingham Literature Festival and school workshops, so I may not get to the Cathedral again.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 

I always want to attend the complete festival, I dream of pitching up a tent and staying. It is like a massive holiday for poets with a daily celebration of words. However, knowing I could only manage one day this year – I chose a day with an action packed programme.

It was amazing. Read the full 21 Years of Gold

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Week 2

After work I was too tired to get to watch Beyond the Water’s Edge at the Artrix and I am very disappointed to miss it. I also missed the WLF Committee meeting (as I was meant to be at the theatre). Where was I? Asleep! Although having read Week 1, I am not surprised. I was also working on an application and some poetry which I used most of my post-Ledbury adrenaline to fuel.

I booked in WPL work and wrote commissioned poetry for Buildings Talk Hospital Histories (a project I spent 3 weeks working on) and got my set for Chapel Lates organised and set some promo for an event in August.

I gave myself some downtime knowing the end of the week was another hectic schedule.

Performance/ Cheltenham Music Festival

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Chapel Lates in Cheltenham, an amazing night of poetry and prose as part of Cheltenham Music Festival curated by Anna Saunders (Founder Cheltenham Poetry Festival). Read all about it here  Chapel Lates Cheltenham-Music-Festival-1

 

This event clashed with HOWL and Outspoken. It is always the way. It has taken 4 years, but I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I cannot be everywhere at once.

Commission/Performance/Project 

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories

Charley Barnes asked me to participate in a Medical Museum Project at the end of June. We had access to historical archives (photographs) which are not on general display to the public and from these we created a 10 minute set of poetry.

Buildings Talk

It was a great project to be involved in, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Louise Price had the creative vision to intersperse the medical talks with poetry. We performed our poems with the images projected behind us.

The next stage of this project is displaying a selection of our poems alongside archived footage.

Read a full review here Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories


I took a poetry break for a couple of days to work and to reunite with college friends, our two yearly reunions, epic fun! Just imagine Drama students 20 years on!


Performance

I attended Open Poetry which this month was a charity event to raise funds for PIPKA – refugees in Lesvos, Greece.

I performed my refugee poem, now written 4 years ago, this world of ours remains in crisis. Read the full review here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/open-poetry-for-pipka/

EC This event was organised by Helen Calcutt and David Calcutt and featured Guest Spots from Christina Thatcher, she read from her recent collection ‘More Than You Were’.  more_than_you_were_large

Week 3

Writing

I needed some time at the desk to complete work from the Spring (another book endorsement) and read material that I am reviewing. I also needed lots of Admin time to complete arrangements for Artsfest (working on this since February), future bookings and promotion of other events.

I had as yet not re-awoken my creative muse – not to give a spoiler… but this was the month!

This was also the last week of work before the summer, my contract had finished and although I wasn’t expecting any work I had to remain on call. This meant several bleary-eyed mornings on the computer, just in case.

I had events and meetings to attend this week which did not involve me performing. A welcome treat/break from pressure and nerves. It also gave me some time to gather energy before the Artsfest Day (22nd).

Readings

Summer Party – Nine Arches Press

I thoroughly enjoyed this event with Jane Commane and…9 arches 3

The readings were superb and the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘PARTY’! Read all about it here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/nine-arches-press-summer-party/

Meetings

The following morning I had an early start and a meeting in Birmingham at the Custard Factory with Jonathan Davidson and the other writers involved in Spark Young Writers groups. As ever it was interesting sharing ideas and great to spend some time with other writers/poets.

Book Launch

In the evening I drove to Cheltenham to finally catch a Book Launch from Angela France. DFH4x-NVoAAzcZ2 I was excited to see the multi-media element that I had heard so much about and to listen to Angela read more from this collection I have been following for the past couple of years. Read the full review of this special evening https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-hill-angela-france-book-launch/

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The launch shook my muse awake and for the first time in months, I was writing. For about two hours straight!

Meetings

I had a meeting with the Events Manager at the Jinney Ring to put plans into action for my September workshop using the Sculpture Trail. It was exciting, my list of 8 pointers were all achieved and it is shaping up to be a great WPL project.

Monday 18th September 10:30- 12:30 p.m glass tree

The Sculpture Trail at The Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcestershire.

The morning will start with a tour of the trail and some time to write using the sculptures for ekphrastic poetry or initial stimuli. Followed by a writing workshop in the marquee. 
Tea/Coffee and cake is provided as part of the ticket.

There will be opportunities to share writing and participants will be able to send polished work for at exhibition at the Jinney Ring in October.

In addition to all this, there will also be the opportunity to share your work at a reading in November.

For more information please contact me: worcspl[at]gmail.com

Official poster with all booking details out soon. Just awaiting the new trail photograph. 
10:15 meet at the marquee for a 10:30 Tour. 
Tickets £7.00

Festival Artsfest

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I need to write a complete blog post for Artsfest – which finishes on the 5th August. I will link back here afterwards.

It was a brilliant day with Poetry in the Square and an evening event Poetry Extravaganza at Park’s Cafe.

Watch Out Worcester! 

watch out worcs

I performed at St. Swithun’s Church at an event created by Suz Winspear. It was a great experience and I loved the building and atmosphere. I will write a blog about this event and link it back to here.

st swithins dancefest

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/NEWs/15437699.Dancing_in_the_streets_of_Worcester/

Week 4

Writing

I spent a few days chained to the desk with writing and admin. I missed Poetry Bites as I was too pushed for time to get to King’s Heath and extremely tired after the busy weekend.

I researched new material and wrote 3 new poems for 42.

Workshop

I attended a workshop led by Angela France in Stratford, I always enjoy these sessions and listening to the work that is created.

Performance

I performed at Drummonds, 42 in the evening. The theme was Curiosities and I had fun exploring this theme. I wrote about an underground library in Seattle, the hanging coffins of China and fossilised skeletons. I left the Cabinet of… for others.

It was a great night, very entertaining with a Guest Host – Kevin Brooke – who did a sterling job, he made it look easy and we all know, it isn’t!

I missed Caffe Grande Slam for another month, as I needed to conserve energy.

ArtsFest Poet in Residence

On 28th July I was at the library in Droitwich as one of the Artists in Residence for Artsfest. I had a smashing morning talking all things poetry and tested out my Poetry Kit idea. This is something I will make more of at another point.

I took this booking as a poet, but decided as I am WPL it was a good opportunity to raise awareness of this role and promote WLF at the same time as DAN – Network.

DAN Lib

It was a lot of fun and has given me ideas for future events. It was the first outing for my new WPL t-shirt and the tablecloth, bought after the workshop on Wednesday.

DAN Lib 2 Children making Poetry Kits – we were competing with the Summer Reading Challenge who had a sock puppet workshop, or as I saw it, we had a captive audience to come and make Poetry Kits for FREE after.

DAN Rhys  © 2017 Rhys Jones

Poetry

I dropped in two poems to be displayed on the table and wall at The Canal Side Studio. There are more events this summer from there. So watch this space.

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I finished the month with a Stanza meeting, which was a lovely evening and had some useful editing tips for my Dear Sky – Ivory/Figura workshop poem.

July has been exceptional!

 

The Hill – Angela France Book Launch

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I had the pleasure of going to Cheltenham for Angela France’s Book Launch last week. This was an amazing event. Set in the very place where villagers met to discuss the fate of the hill, there were riots and everything (historically, not on the 20th July).

In fact I spent an hour stuck on a road facing THE hill. So I felt I knew it by the time I arrived at the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The Launch was in the function space, decorated with ribbons and fairy lights and filled with a crowd of poets, locals, friends and family. It was an exceptionally good turn out and the evening shone beautiful sunshine into the space.

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Angela’s latest collection ‘The Hill’ ties together historical fact, modern day thought and the people and places of the hill, significant turning points and lives through the years. It is a project which has seen years of research and uses archive materials as well as creative thought.

I was excited to discover a few months ago whilst working on my own Poetry Collaboration show 30-40-60, that Angela was using multimedia as well. She had the wonderful backing of Elephant’s Footprint Poetry Film (more on them soon) and the added bonus of a remote control. We timed our footage and this left no room for error or pause.

I LOVED the multimedia element, sometimes photos of archives or archived photos, other times narrated letters, modern day film clips, lawful protests and letters to editors, a real blend. I don’t want to give too much detail as I know Angela France is touring this show and I would urge you to go and see it!

It worked really well and Angela’s poetry filled the room. I am really excited about reading this collection. My fascination for people and place is going to be quenched by these poems.

I have not set pen to paper for a while apart from commissioned work, listening to Angela set my mind racing and shook muse awake. I filled pages in my carry about notebook and once home spent 2 hours writing poetry!

Angela France

 © Photo Credit Nine Arches Press 2017

It gave me an opportunity to meet some of the Cheltenham poets whose work I published back in June for World Refugee Day. As well as spending time with poets I know and catching up with all their news.

Also an incredible fruitful discussion about Poetry Film with Chaucer Cameron & Helen Dewbery – Elephant’s Footprint. I recently discovered that several successful poets came to their submission decisions and found opportunities at my Book Launch, it looks like I may have just done the same.

A fabulous evening filled with words and community.


This is a book launch with a very special local and historical twist – it takes place in The Wheatsheaf pub where the ‘Leckhampton Stalwarts’, who feature prominently in The Hill, used to meet.

This launch event will also feature Angela France’s multimedia poetry show which accompanies the book and includes the images, maps and voices of the characters Angela found in the archives, as well as a selection of live poems from Angela France interwoven into a compelling story of trespass, place and memory. 

 © Interests Media Ltd 2014-2017

 

 

Nine Arches Press Summer Party

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Nine Arches Press know how to throw a party! I missed it last year as I was performing elsewhere but – having kept a do it next year section of my 2016 diary, I knew it was coming up and booked my tickets as soon as it was announced back in June!

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I had a busy day and went for a power nap before catching my train into Birmingham. Mr. G. came home and found me still asleep. I haven’t moved so fast in a long time. I managed to catch the train and arrive at Waterstones just in time.

It was lovely (and not a surprise) to see so many poets there. They had a good crowd and there were lots of people I didn’t know too.

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Jane Commane (Nine Arches Press) introducing the poets and welcoming us to a party complete with Flamingo straws. Image  © 2017 Cynthia Miller

I was really excited when I saw who was on the list this year and there readings were all captivating.

Gregory Leadbetter has had all of his launches/readings whilst I have been elsewhere, so even though his book was released last year this was my first opportunity to hear him read it. He also hosted the event, using the book sleeves of the new publications to introduce each Guest Poet.

Greg Leadbetter 9 Arches

© 2017 Nine Arches

I thoroughly enjoyed his reading, I had heard several of the poems before at events but listening to a full set was a real treat. I will be putting ‘The Fetch’ on my birthday list. For a first collection it is extremely strong.

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Gregory Leadbetter’s first full collection of poems, The Fetch, brings together poems that reach through language to the mystery of our being, giving voice to silence and darkness, illuminating the unseen. With their own rich alchemy, these poems combine the sensuous and the numinous, the lyric and the mythic. 

Ranging from invocation to elegy, from ghost poems to science fiction, Leadbetter conjures and quickens the wild and the weird. His poems bring to life a theatre of awakenings and apprehensions, of births and becoming, of the natural and the transnatural, where life and death meet. Powerful, imaginative, and precisely realised, The Fetch is also poignant and humane – animated by love, alive with the forces of renewal.

‘The Fetch is a terrific, precise and dazzling collection. The whole book exemplifies a poetry of being that shows what is possible when we allow ourselves to be fully human in our perception and poetry.’ – David Morley
© 2017 Nine Arches Press
The Fetch Cover web

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© 2017 Stuart Bartholomew

I am a big fan of Angela France’s work and what is special about her latest collection ‘The Hill’ is I have been privy to the inside of the work for the past two years. I have done workshops using Archive materials with Angela, who has just spent the past two years deep in records of the past. I also know that the places she writes about are places she knows well. I missed her Launch in Ledbury and have resisted buying a copy of her book until I heard her read.

I particularly enjoyed the use of Anglo Language found in a short sequence of work in this book. I think place and people are two subjects that grip me,  for anyone who feels the same this collection is for you!

DFHkYknXsAkOYw2 © 2017 Nine Arches

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Here, we encounter ghosts, foxes and ancient kings. We meet the protestors who, years before the Kinder Scout Trespassers, were standing up for their rambling rights and took the law into their own hands in 1902 when a landowner tried to enclose the hill they had walked for generations. And though history is never far from the surface, The Hill raises questions that are just as important today; who has the right to roam, whose land is it, anyway?

“these are words that make you ache for the place.” – Phil Smith, author of Mythogeography and On Walking

 © 2017 Nine Arches Press

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Rishi Dastidar’ Ticker Tape was released earlier this year. I have known of Rishi for a while but only met him in Ledbury Poetry Festival this year.

His set was fresh and different. His poetry is distinctive and the themes cover a lot we can recognise, modern poetry for the 21st Century. I enjoyed the wit of his work and the pleasure he takes in performing it.

From politics to pop, from the UK to California, wherever digital heartbeats flutter and stutter, Ticker-tape is a maximalist take on 21st century living. Rishi Dastidar’s first full collection showcases one of contemporary poetry’s most distinctive voices, delivering effervescence with equal servings of panache and whiplash-quick wit.

Here is sheer madcap ingenuity and also impressive breadth; ranging from odes of love to deconstructed diversity campaigns and detonations of banter’s worst excesses, plus appearances from ex-SugaBabes, a shark who comes to tea, to the matters of matchstick empires and national identity. Ticker-tape is bold, adventuresome and wry – an unmissable and irrepressible debut.

 © 2017 Nine Arches Press

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And finally –DFa0G2FXkAA8038

 © 2017 Nine Arches

Tania Hershman who claimed not to be a poet when I met her a few years ago. She is/was a published author who had started to cross to the poetry genre. It is a good idea to expand your repertoire and flex your writing muscles this way.

What is unusual is to have a first collection published by a well established publisher within a couple of years of starting out.

A huge achievement. A pleasure to listen to.

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 © 2017 Nine Arches

Tania Hershman’s debut poetry collection, Terms and Conditions, urges us to consider all the possibilities, and read life’s small print before signing on the dotted line. These beautifully measured poems bring their stoical approach to the uncertain business of our daily lives – and ask us to consider what could happen if we were to bend or break the rules, step outside the boundaries and challenge the narrative.
In feats of imagination and leaps of probability, falling simply becomes flying, a baby collects the data and scrolls through everything it sees, and there are daring acts of vanishing and recreation. Be wary, for even the evidence here often leads us astray. And in between this, Hershman’s precise poetry elegantly balances the known, unknown and unknowable matter of existence, love and happiness, weighing the atoms of each, finding just the exact words that will draw up the perfect contract of ideas.
Praise for Terms and Conditions:
‘This is a sophisticated debut collection by a writer already well known for her inventive short stories.’ – Kathryn Maris

‘There is a plenitude and a loss to Tania Hershman’s Terms & Conditions. A plenitude of tones and forms and linguistic playfulness, and a fine sense of loss that spins and passes through the poems.’ – Simon Barraclough 

‘In her debut collection of poetry, acclaimed writer Tania Hershman reveals the strange intricacies of science and our daily lives. Here, we find a cabinet of curiosities: Elvis and Marilyn, fire ants, cake and wind turbines. Hershman gifts the reader with collisions of grief and laughter, joy and curiosity. A wonder.’- Doireann Ní Ghríofa
‘Tania Hershman’s work is full of brilliant and passionate observations on dreams, falling, names and dancing, they are moving, loving meditations on how we move and love, what it feels like to be alive.’ – W.N. Herbert

It was a superb night and we all had time for mingling and chatting too. A delightful summer’s evening and the kind of party I really like nowadays… relaxed, with books and booze!

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 © 2017 Nine Arches

Beginning With Your Last Breath By Roy McFarlane

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BOOK LAUNCH Wednesday 14th September

Beginning With Your Last Breath

By Roy McFarlane

PUBLISHED: Nine Arches Press

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Roy McFarlane is a gentle man of poetry. He is really supportive of work other people are doing and loves to collaborate. This year has been a busy one for him. He is currently the Poet in Residence at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and has just released his debut collection with Nine Arches Press, ‘Beginning With Your Last Breath’. I was fortunate enough to be at his book launch in Wolverhampton Arena Theatre last Wednesday *thanks to Kathy Gee for the lift.

roy-3 Richard O’Brien © 2016

It was an amazing night, that filled me with inspiring thoughts. I often scribble away at events, comfortable in the fact that people think I am making notes for the blog. I filled 6 post-it notes, which doesn’t sound a lot, but as I was attempting to be 100% present in the moment – is quite a lot.

Roy filled the evening with so many talented friends and collaborators, all neatly hosted by Chester Morrison. It was a pleasure to be there and feel part of the magic in the room.

Reis Taylor Dixon started events, an exceptional Pianist and composer. Denzil Fletcher has kindly granted permission for us to use the video, unfortunately WordPress have changed video policy and I need to upgrade to include it. Here is a link to the video on Roy’s social media, scroll down to find it.

Reis Taylor Dixon

Reis was joined on stage by Phil Simpson Poet. Later on we watched Steve Tromans Pianist & composer & Lydia Gianville Percussionist have a total blast accompanying Roy’s poetry and discussing the finer points, which was a real treat. Serena Arthur, Birmingham Young Poet Laureate (who will have to hang up her hat next Month, which is well timed as she is off to study at Oxford University), gave us a confident performance and wowed everyone who hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing her before and those of us who had.

roy-launch Richard O’Brien © 2016

The beautiful evening of Jazz and Poetry was topped by Roy performing a set from his collection, accompanied by a soundtrack. This was not just poetry, this was theatre.

This book comes from a deep place and some of the poetry is still raw for Roy, despite this he was brave enough to perform one of those pieces for us. Connections were made.

As if all this wasn’t enough… we even saw Roy dance!

I have yet to find the space to sit and read the collection, but I would recommend it without hesitation.

BUY YOUR COPY

This debut collection of poems by former Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane explores love, loss, adoption and identity in powerful, precise and emotionally-charged poetry. From bereavement comes forth a life story in poems; the journey of sons, friends, lovers and parents, and all the moments of growing-up, discovery, falling in and out of love and learning to say goodbye that come along the way.

Themes of place, music, history, and race interweave personal narratives, with poems that touch on everything from the ‘Tebbitt Test’ and Marvin Gaye to the Black Country, that ‘place just off the M6’. Distinct and memorable, McFarlane’s poems are beautifully crafted, intricately focused, moving their readers between both the spiritual and the sensual worlds with graceful, rapturous hymns to the transformative power of love.

 Nine Arches Press © 2016

Praise for Beginning With Your Last Breath

There’s something I need to tell you, says a voice in the first poem of Roy McFarlane’s Beginning with Your Last Breath, which opens with a deeply personal and moving account of the discovery of an adoption. But the need to tell resounds throughout this collection – moving through lost love and friendships, the politics of place, race and culture and the salvatory power of music. The writing is always evocative, with a great care for the detail. These are poems of great power.’ – Hannah Lowe

‘So many of these poems have a novelistic power to hold the reader through their tense interior domains. This is a riveting poetry about loss and recovery, about pride, about boxing, basketball, Norman Tebbit and sex, though not all at once. I love the tight yet welcoming lines of each poem and McFarlane’s ability to concentrate the image, my best was perhaps the reference to ‘a stomach filled with cage birds’. Disturbing yet uplifting verse!’ – Daljit Nagra

 Nine Arches Press © 2016

 

RELATED LINKS:
http://roymcfarlane.com/

 

A Review of March

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March started with a performance at ‘The Works’ Canteen’, a night of poetry, music and storytelling at the Black Country Living Museum, hosted by the museum’s poet in residence, Dave Reeves. An event that has been on my radar for a long time and one of the few events I blogged about in a timely manner. The Guest Poets were Jan Watts & R.M Francis. Rob Francis hosts Permission to Speak (PTS) and took a collective to perform at the museum, including me.

It was a fabulous evening – read more about it here.

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I received my long awaited and much anticipated copy of Under the Radar – Nine Arches Press, where my poems Fortiori and The Gift share the pages with a plethora of poetry talent. These poems are from my forthcoming collection and I was delighted to have them accepted. They were accepted in 2015 and it seems like a lifetime ago now.

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I completed research to write poetry celebrating Women’s History Month and took great pleasure rewriting a poem about Annie Edison Taylor, the first person over Niagara Falls in a barrel and she survived, her only injuries came from trying to get out of the barrel after the drop. All about the adventure! Her poor cat was the test lunge, the cat was barely harmed either.

My work with Writing West Midlands was secured for another year.

The second week of March involved a lot of writing, more submissions were sent out and admin tasks, which every writer could use a PA for. I was asked to judge a slam for Womanly Words, in the end I performed instead. I missed events I had planned to go to, day job work kept me busy and with the heavy writing schedule I didn’t have the energy. I dream of a poetry chauffeur.

The WWM group met our new Assistant Writer and worked on our book project. I missed a Memorial event for Sammy Joe at The Edge, which was on the same day.

I enjoyed ‘Poetry by the Lake’ in the Arboretum, Walsall with David Calcutt and performed a short set. It was a sunny day and the park was full. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended.

POETLAKE

The third week of March could be the reason why I ended up fading away. I was working full time and also had a timetable to get all my submissions out on time. The writing still needed editing and polishing.

  • I wrote over 12 new poems.
  • Sent 8 submissions.
  • Wrote a set of poems for Woman’s History month.
  • Took bookings for next month and the summer.

I missed events I had hoped to attend. Three of which fell on the same night. I also missed WLF & Fringe Earth Hour which I wanted to support. I had already committed to the Vanguard Readings, with Richard Skinner. An amazing night of poetry from Helen Calcutt, Emma Purshouse, David Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane and Richard Skinner. I have yet to blog about this event and wish I had managed it in real time.

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I performed at Worcester Arts Workshop for the first time, for Women’s History Month, it is always lovely to come across new (to me) poets. It was a pleasant evening, vibrant, warm atmosphere and lots of support and love for women, organised by Feminista Leisa Taylor. I am grateful to have been part of it.

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By Week 4, I barely knew my name. I had a writing day (they do not exist as much as I would like), worked on my manuscript (approaching what I hope is final editorial stages), I marked WORLD POETRY DAY, missed a photo shoot with fellow Womanly Words poets, wrote a short article on poetry and completely forgot about Stanza! It fell on Good Friday and Mr G and I had had an action packed start to the Easter weekend.

The end of March was slightly strange as I took a break from most of my writing and performance schedule for Easter and never started again. The last few days of the month were mostly offline. I proofread copy of an up and coming anthology. Another lingering process which started last year. It will be a delight to finally read the collection. I have the proof copy but I want to curl up with the real thing.

I finished the month with a workshop in Stratford with Angela France and submitted the blog as a participant for napo2016button2

Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch – the terrible

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4th February

I finally got to meet Daniel Sluman, a poet who I have read since 2014, when I first discovered his work. The name will be familiar because last year after a post on social media about how different the poetry circuit is for disabled poets promoting their work, I decided to promote Daniel’s new collection ‘the terrible’.

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Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

In return Daniel gave up his time to feature as a Guest Writer (alongside Alison May and David Calcutt) in INKSPILL 2015, our annual online writing retreat. Find out more right here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/inkspill/

Daniel Sluman is a 29-year-old poet and disability rights activist based in Oxfordshire, UK. He gained a BA and MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, and has previously held editorial roles at Dead Ink, Iota, and the award-winning disability anthology FTW: Poets against Atos. He was named one of Huffington Post’s Top 5 British Poets to Watch in 2015, and his debut poetry collection Absence has a weight of its own was released by Nine Arches Press to critical acclaim in 2012. © Nine Arches Press 2016

I was excited about meeting the man behind the words and also getting my hands on a copy of ‘the terrible’ which I resisted buying online or at the 52 Book Launch. It is published by Nine Arches Press and you can buy your very own copy here.

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20terrible.html

the terrible daniel sluman 

Daniel Sluman’s bleak brilliance in the terrible is a masterclass in the power of poetry to confront difficult subject matter with accuracy and painstaking openness. These are rigorous and exacting poems, that dare to go to some of the darkest places and speak with stark precision.

These poems may be stripped down, intense and utterly frank, but they are not without deep reserves of sincerity and beauty. Sluman writes of the heady cocktail of being alive, where loss, love, sex, close shaves with mortality and sharp narratives of pain and suffering are examined in concise and humane clarity.

© Nine Arches Press 2016

I knew getting to the venue after work in rush hour traffic would be an issue, so I spent the night before setting up the SATNAV (also Christmas gift c/o Mr G), however due to road works and not shoddy data input on my part, it took me up to the M6, which I knew was wrong, but have also learnt that I get lost when I don’t blindly follow the SATNAV. This added extra time on, but I did manage to park relatively close by and although I missed most of Daniel’s opening set in reality I hadn’t missed most of the book launch, which was my fear. Jane Commane recorded the part I missed and you can hear it too.

This event was open to the public, I was delighted to be invited by Daniel. Gregory Leadbetter (the Institute for Creative & Critical Writing) and Jane Commane (Editor/Publisherr – Nine Arches Press) hosted flawlessly. There were readings from David Clarke and Angela France and the event sold out. We were in a lovely large room just off the library at Birmingham City University. There was a great, buzzy atmosphere and lots of poets I know, and some I didn’t, all listening carefully and enjoying the work of these three fine Nine Arches poets.

It was great to meet Emily Brenchi too (Daniel’s fiancée and administrator) -as she is not gaining financially helping with postage and packaging duties as Daniel’s book makes it way around the country/ world in brown envelopes, I thought I would mention her efforts here. Nearly as good as money or magic beans, I’m sure!

There were complimentary drinks too. I wish I could have indulged in a glass of wine to celebrate, but I was driving and had a bottle of water and bought the book instead.

I took photos of the event (on my kindle – see previous post) but have as yet, not uploaded them so I am borrowing these from Lania Knight.

 

© Lania Knight 2016

Meeting Daniel after all this time was brilliant. Generally in my pursuit of the writing world I have met poets and then discovered their work. This way round is unusual for me -it was so comfortable. By reading Daniel’s work and conversing online, we already knew each other on some level.

Hoping to see him and Emily in Cheltenham in a few months, as you can appreciate a book launch is like any major event for the main feature – everyone wants a piece of them and time and conversation are brief.

A strong second collection – a recommended buy from me, don’t just take my word for it – see the Ofi Press review and read David Clarke’s take on the evening too (see related links).

 

RELATED LINKS

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-guest-poet-interview-with-daniel-sluman/

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http://www.ofipress.com/slumandaniel.htm

http://athingforpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-terrible.html

Writing, Research, Performing & Watching

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This week is one of those weeks that feels as if it is going on forever (in a good way, I think)! I have managed to work this week and get my nose to the writing grindstone too. Which is fortunate as I have just accepted a short-term contract for the next fortnight and will have precious time or energy left for writing. I haven’t worked full-time since my illness, but it isn’t for a long period of time and I have a week off after to recoup…well, after Mr G’s Birthday/Valentine weekend.

Next week I have writing deadlines, a headline slot at Stirchley Speaks along with Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. It is also Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch and Emma Purshouse is performing at Permission to Speak, which (depending on energy levels) I hope to make. On Saturday I am working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) and in the evening watching Liz Berry as part of National Library Day as well as working with small, terrifyingly energetic four year olds! I think the blog posts may have to wait.

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Maybe next week will seem as endless as this one, it is good when time feels stretched this way.

This week I have been taking chunks out of the Action Plan. Writing around the day job, as many of us have to do. My main focus was on a project that needed lots of research, which I managed to write 5 new poems and have enough material and ideas to generate more when I get a moment to write again. I have submitted this poetry and now have my fingers crossed for a positive response.

I have also been editing the manuscript, which really needs to be emailed. You know that thing when something is as written as it can be for now but you keep chipping away at it. I heard an interview with David Calcutt this week, where a comment about editing struck me because I think not only is it true of my own poetry/writing progress, but is also part of my learning of 2015 about writing once you have had work accepted and it is part of an editorial process.

David on editing poetry: ( paraphrased) some people ‘polish the diamond’ – diamond poetry is strong, hard, well executed, beautiful but it is what it is and doesn’t leave room to be anything else. Poetry can be equally as good but not as polished, where there is still breath in the work, it has been overly re-written, it allows the reader space.

I guess it is that fine line between polishing something so it shines and polishing it so hard it becomes so hard to handle it slips right out of your hand to the floor. I am always aware of ‘authentic voice’ in poetry, this may or may not be a bad thing. I know we all work differently and that my manuscript is in exceptionally safe hands editorially. It is just me learning to let go more I think.

The things that we dream of are new realities and experiencing them in real-time is different to how they were imagined.

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I also had the pleasure of a Poetry Event, so far this year (and I know we are only weeks in), I have managed to maintain my resolution of cutting back performances and events in order to create more writing time. This was my first performance in two weeks. It was the first 42 event of 2016 and as there is no December event it has been a good while since I had seen some people. It seemed a little strange wishing each other Happy New Year at the end of the month. These spoken word nights are themed – and as you know, I pride myself on writing to theme. This month’s theme was extremely challenging:

‘Around the Myths in 80 Words’ – I liked the play on title but researching and writing the poetry was a different matter. At the end of two days I was happy with all 4 poems and they were ALL just 80 words (sometimes editing is necessary to success). I wrote about Hercules and Achelous, The Rainbow Lady – A Goddess in Mayan Myth, Welsh myths from Cader Idris. Cader Idris is a mountain in Gwynedd, Wales, found at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. I also wrote a poem based on Urban Myths.

I really enjoyed the evening and there was some great writing born from this challenging prompt. It was a late night and there are currently night works on the main exit roads, making my journey home close to an hour, on a work night! I tried not to let this dampen my spirit last night as it was such an enjoyable evening.

Also Andrew Owens shared the exciting news that rather like my local roads, the bar where he hosts 42 is having a renovation. Hopefully this will leave us with a great new performance space for the rest of the year. The pub has bands playing on the stage weekly too and the room could use some TLC, I am sure the new owners of the pub will do themselves proud. I cannot wait for the unveiling.

42 superhero Most of us are hoping the performance post disappears.

Today I heard that one of my submissions has been unsuccessful, you know when you really want to crack a publication and you submit time again to be rejected… well I have decided that since doing battle in 2014, 2015 and now this year to wait until I find a perfect match between the issue theme and work I have already written because creating to theme in a style that matches the publication doesn’t seem to be working. I will crack it.

I realised whilst playing with diary dates and deadlines that 2016 is in fact my Olympic year. I am in the 4th year of writing (technically 3rd year of poetry – two under the belt), so this will be the year I take stock and so far I think it is fair to say that I am not giving up on wordsmithing, nor will I ever. The 15 years I have taken off in the past was enough and the success and feelings I maintain writing show me that this is the right path. I know I won’t need 16 years to achieve what I am striving for – but still I look forward to taking stock over the next 4 Olympics nevertheless.

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I have also taken some time to compile my set list for Headlining next week and have finally taken my new Kindle Fire out on the open (or not quite so open) road to 42, one of the reasons I wanted one was to use for performing. I look forward to setting it up over the weekend for next week’s readings.

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This weekend I am going to watch Patience Agbabi at The Hive and go to the MAC for the 52 Launch Party before collapsing in a heap and getting some sleep before next week. I hope that the in a night-out a night pattern that fortunately fits the week will keep my head above water.

Patience Agbabi in Worcester

Telling Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Week of Writing

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Over the past week I have been busy writing new poetry, making submissions, working through my action plan chronologically and editing my manuscript. I have managed just one full day of writing (my 1st this month) on the 18th and I filled it with working on poetry and research. writing

I have made three submissions this week, written over eight new poems. This is great because by the end of last year I felt creatively drained and found writing new poetry an impossible task. Now I am back in the game, I can feel the desire to write return and have already thrown away two pens CC I can do itwhen they ran out of ink! Fortunately I have started the house de-clutter, so I know I have hundreds of pens AND I know where they are. Despite the rush of this creative spell, I have just spent over 40 minutes this morning trying to create a title for a romantic poem I wrote for last night’s Stanza meeting. It now has a title, although I think it may be a temporary title.

I have taken this week off from performing to concentrate time and focus on my writing, I intend to repeat this monthly as 2016 is the year I have to focus on writing the words. Real work has been busy too, spending the majority of my week with three year olds has been an eye opening, now I am thoroughly exhausted and looking forward to a restful weekend.

Work – Pyjamas – Poetry, has generally been this week’s theme.

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Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

I had an exciting invite last week to Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch for his new collection ‘the terrible’, which we have been promoting here on the blog since 2015. ds nine archesthe terrible daniel sluman Naturally the book launch clashes with another event that I had already committed to performing at, but with my new SatNav (thank you Mr G), I hope to manage both events before collapsing in a heap the next day.

I also discovered last week that Liz Berry is performing locally as part of the celebration for National Libraries Day. I grabbed some tickets and scribbled this February date straight into my writing diary. It will be a pleasure to watch her again in the new venue, doubly delightful as it is local and involves zero car miles.

liz berry

Back to my desk now to write a few more romantic poems and then onto the next project.

My overall aim this week is to finish and resubmit my manuscript. I have finally (after two months of searching) decided on a new title for the collection and I cannot wait for my editor to read the strengthened version of poems. I look forward to posting updates about this soon.

pfl me choosing poems

Keep writing x

 

 

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Poet – Interview with Daniel Sluman

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Guest Writer Interview Daniel Sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

GUEST

Earlier this year A Writers Fountain spent time with Daniel Sluman, promoting his (very soon to be published) second collection ‘the terrible’.

We are delighted that as part of INKSPILL we can bring you another exclusive interview with the man himself and it didn’t escape our notice that the book cover design has been released NOW as well. Another sneak preview for you!

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  1. How did you know you wanted to complete a 2nd collection?

I kind of just kept going after my debut was released, it’s just what you’re meant to do isn’t it, keep writing. I had a project in mind and I worked for a while on that until I stopped and asked myself this very question – what am I going to achieve by writing another book beyond (hopefully) extending a career? It was really important for me to work this out, as it made me realise that there were things in my debut I wanted to articulate further, and events were unfolding in my life that I was excited about exploring in a new book.

  1. Poetry is a kind of process, how did you feel at the beginning of compiling your 2nd collection? How was it different to the 1st?

I found it quite tough to work out where I wanted to go at the start of this process, I was drawn towards a number of different ideas for this book, some more conceptual and overarching than others, and it took me a while to feel comfortable in the direction I decided on. I’m guilty of overthinking things, especially when it comes to writing, and when I started writing this book I was really worried about repeating myself, about getting lazy and complacent.

When I was writing ‘Absence…’ I was an undergraduate, and the tutor feedback and workshops really helped with developing those poems, and of course that support was something I no longer had, which made me feel a bit lost for the first six months of writing this book. In that period I made dozens of pages of notes, but I was terrified of committing anything to the page properly, I was sure it wouldn’t be good enough, nothing looked good enough. It took me a long time to get back to writing more loosely, not being afraid to write crap which could then be edited, closer to the way I felt when I was writing my debut. When that first book comes out to good feedback and reviews, I felt a certain (mainly internal) pressure attached to the next, and that definitely affected me. I locked up for a long time, I was so terrified of disappointing people, of disappointing myself, but once I found a rhythm things started to get written again, and I started to enjoy myself in the same way I was enjoying myself before the first book came out.

  1. What were some of the difficulties in this process?

I went through a lot of changes in my life during the period of this book getting written. I came out of a long-term relationship and into a new one, moved house (and area), and my health was really going downhill in terms of my back pain, which meant quitting full-time work and getting put on benefits. Drama and high emotion is something which always feeds into poems, so some of this made it into the work, but the transition of all these things meant it was hard to get into a rhythm, this upheaval meant it was a while before I felt like I could properly concentrate on writing again.

  1. What anxieties have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

I suffer from the same anxieties I’m sure most writers do – fear of playing it safe and repeating what’s worked well for me in the past, the worry whether it will sell enough to justify a wonderful publisher putting in so many hours helping to form and release the book. I’ve always suffered from imposter syndrome, and so part of me is expecting to fail spectacularly and be found out as not a poor writer.

Over the years I’ve learnt to partially overcome these anxieties by being a little less tough on myself, enjoying and celebrating successes more than I used to, and acknowledging that I couldn’t have put more hours into this, it’s the best I can do, and that has to be enough for me.

  1. Did you know when you wrote material after your 1st collection that you wanted to include it in a 2nd collection?

After a while, yes. I was aware that the work straight after a book can often represent a transition of styles, concerns, or ways of working, and so I wasn’t being too hard on myself to make every poem get to a level I wasn’t capable of getting it to. We talk a lot about ‘finding a voice’ in poetry, but I think that each new project represents an articulation of a new voice, primed to whatever direction the writer wants to go in, and somewhere last year things clicked together, and I realised I had the bare bones of a book laid out.

6) Often poets have years between collections, how long have you been working on your 2nd collection?

This book took three years, which I imagine is a pretty average amount of time for most poets. If I was a better writer it would have taken less but I’m extremely wasteful, I’ve probably written something like 90 poems for this project, cut down to the 46 that made it in this book. If it wasn’t for Jane Commane of Nine Arches I would still be writing this book now; she is brilliant at judging which poems have potential and go somewhere new, and which ones go over the same ground as others. If I didn’t have that objective eye I would have expended a lot of energy on lost causes.

7) Musicians refer to a 2nd album syndrome, do you believe it is the same for writers?

What kind of obstacles have you faced? How have you overcome them?

I think a similar theory applies to books as it does to albums; debuts usually map out an area using a mixture of techniques that point towards some kind of overarching concern, and second albums/books usually work to either further define the concerns in the first release, or explore new ones. The worst thing that can happen with second albums/books is that they appear like pale imitations of the debut they follow, they circle too similar a ground and this is a worry I’ve tried to be hyper-aware of. I think that having this awareness definitely helps in noticing when you’re repeating yourself with a new poem, as does having a clear idea where you want to go, and how you can get there. I’ve read a lot of new collections and books on theory during the last three years, and that’s a big part of developing as a poet, and it’s helped me move on from where I was in my debut.

8) How do you think creatives deal with this 2nd collection syndrome, do you have any advice for poets who have published their first collections? Next steps…

A lot has to do with the expectations we put on ourselves, as we’re often just writing for pleasure at the start, but once you get published the dynamic does change. I spent a lot of time worrying about this collection in contrast to my debut and I wish I had just relaxed and continued the journey that we are all on from the moment we first write. Belief in what you’re doing, that it’s different from what you’ve written before, that’s important, but so is being grounded in enjoying yourself and remembering why you’re writing in the first place – that you can put words in an order that affect a stranger a continent away and make them feel something, that you’re giving voice to the things you think matter. In some ways it was a case of getting back to basics for me, not being in this state of constant anxiety about what the book may look like and how people will react to it. With all this is mind, maybe 2nd collection syndrome is something that occurs because we simply overthink what we’re doing too much, and the way to overcome it is to get back to writing for the sake of pleasure, and enjoying the feeling that you are growing as a writer.

9) You have just finished your first full draft m/s for your 2nd collection. How does it feel?

It’s a relief. Three years feels like a long time, a lot of anxiety, and a hell of a lot of editing day after day, so it’s nice to be able to look at the MS with some sense of satisfaction. When my debut came out I was pretty worried about the reviews that would be written, now I think I’m a bit more relaxed – if the book is enjoyed by readers then that will be great. Now I’m just focused on doing as much promoting and performing of the book as I can with my current health.

10) How did you come to choose the title?

It comes from the title poem in this book, which is probably the most honest poem I’ve written. As our editing of the book progressed Jane and I had a deeper understanding of what the manuscript is about, and that everything in our lives, even the most enjoyable or aspirational moments we experience have a dark underside to them, a fear of it being taken away, a futility to it, that’s what the book is about I think, and the title-poem hopefully sums that up.


Huge thanks to Daniel for this interview, your honesty and insightful responses. Good luck with the final stages of the process. Looking forward to holding the pages of your new collection very soon!

honeyman Interview by Nina Lewis

Buy Daniel’s poetry from the AWF shop CC bookshop-window Garry Knight

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-shop/

INKSPILL SHOP

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CC bookshop-window Garry Knight

David Calcutt caldmore david-portrait-1

Plays: https://global.oup.com/education/content/children/authors/david-calcutt/?region=uk

An engaging adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel

Author Thomas Hardy and Adapter David Calcutt

Suitable for:  Teachers of English and Drama of students aged 11-14

Price:  £10.50

ISBN: 978-0-19-837544-9
Publication date: 25/01/2016 (estimated)
Paperback: 144 pages
Dimensions: 216x170mm

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Robin Hood: http://store.barefootbooks.com/uk/robin-hood.html

This lavishly illustrated picture book makes a wonderful gift title to complement Arthur of Albion and The Arabian Nights, and features nine tales including: ‘Robin Becomes an Outlaw’, ‘Robin Meets Little John’, ‘Robin and the Widow’, and ‘Robin’s Last Battle’.

Retold By: David Calcutt

Illustrated By: Grahame Baker-Smith

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Fairacre Press: http://web236.extendcp.co.uk/fairacrepress.co.uk/tag/david-calcutt/

Road Kill, by Nadia Kingsley and David Calcutt, is a journey into the secret lives of our native animals. It starts in town, travels through suburbia, onto country roads, and then into the woods – where fact and myth mingle.
36 pp + 4 pp
paperback
245mm height, 170 mm width
3mm squareback spine
Full colour cover
First published December 2012
£4.00   (includes post and packing)
ISBN  978 0 9568275 1 7
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The Life and Times of the Tat Man: https://www.treepress.org/scripts/the-life-and-times-of-the-tat-man-dad1259a-777e-4390-8e98-5913bc8f7802

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Tony Barrett asThe Tat Man (photo by Stuart Williams).

Tony Barrett asThe Tat Man (photo by Stuart Williams).

CC bookshop-window Garry Knight

Alison May alison may author

Her romantic comedies, Sweet Nothing, http://bookgoodies.com/a/1781892415

Would you risk everything for love?

Independent, straight-talking Trix Allen wouldn’t. She’s been in love once before and ended up with nothing. Now safely single, Trix is as far away from the saccharine-sweet world of hearts and flowers as it’s possible to be.

Alison May Sweet Nothing

Midsummer Dreams http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00XJOEJTM

Four people. Four messy lives. One night that changes everything …
A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Alison May midsummer dreams

and the Christmas Kisses series http://bookgoodies.com/a/B011M9DZE0 published by Choc Lit.

Alison M Christmas

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You can find out more about Alison at www.alison-may.co.uk, on facebook at www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor, or by following her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay

CC bookshop-window Garry Knight

Daniel Sluman

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

http://www.ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/absence-has-a-weight-of-its-own.html

© 2014 Nine Arches

“Daniel Sluman has looked mortality square in the eye and given it shape. These poems are crafted with a striking maturity, each with a heartbeat and blood in its veins. If poetry has a purpose, then this is it.” Helen Ivory

“Daniel Sluman’s debut collection crackles with energy; his language is physical, fast-paced, passionate, fearless. A real discovery by Nine Arches Press.” Penelope Shuttle

Daniel tweets here