Tag Archives: Performance Poetry

Cheltenham Poetry Festival

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This year’s programme was fantastic and I wish I had managed more events than I did. I however, managed a full dose of Hegley – which makes up for missing the rest of the long list of performances and events I wanted to attend.

John Hegley is one of the few poets that I discovered in my Young Writer years – back when he was touring with his band, Popticians. In fact one of the few university birthdays I remember was watching them at the Phoenix Arts Centre and meeting him.

There was a Hegley shaped hole for a while – he seemed to have disappeared – possibly into fatherhood – for the past few years he has been back on the radar. Or on my radar at least. Some of you will remember my posts from his performances and workshops back in 2015.

hegley

I was delighted to see New and Selected Potatoes as an error in reading dates on a flyer meant I missed him at the MAC. It was an enjoyable show, thoroughly entertaining as one would expect – but the magic treat was bestowed on Cheltenham that night in the Playhouse. We were privy to a new poem, something he is working on for the Roundhouse. I always feel privileged when my ears get an inside like this.

I finally bought John’s book and had a lovely chat about the show, because he is a very kind man who always spends time with each person queuing for a signature. Someone in the line behind me nearly bought a book that wasn’t one of his – I am sure he would have signed it anyway, he has a big heart like that.

nspot Bloodaxe © 2013

I made a night of it by going for an Italian meal with friends who had been to see the show too.

The following day, (I know I should have booked a B&B) I was back in Cheltenham to enjoy my second Hegley workshop. It was great fun, a good group and lots of people I did not know, which is always exciting for me. We had taken a poem and some art and most of our activities were based around these.

John had us all write about Potatoes too (of course) and crowd sourced a fantastic poem for Anna Saunders *Director of the festival – I will have to go and see if she has had time to use it anywhere.

It was a fabulous morning and finishing slightly before time I headed down to Waterstones with John and Anna, chatting and narrowly missing lampposts along the way! Once at Waterstones, I mingled with the poets from the Open Mic event which had finished and caught up with friends. Then John started his impromptu take over of the floor. (Photos to follow.)

We all joined in with a choral poem and had a great time before he was whisked away to that place festival poets go and I was left to retrace steps and try to find my car before the ticket ran out!

Next year, I have to plan work better to be released for this poetry festival.

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Hollie McNish – Nobody Told Me

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I have always been a bit of a fan-girl of Hollie McNish and it seems ages since I last saw her perform. I was delighted to discover that thanks to Poetry on Loan and Brenda Read-Brown, Hollie was coming to perform at The Hive in Worcester.

I always pick up the What’s On Guide and generally gleefully thumb through it… I forgot to have a proper look and only discovered this event in February! The tickets had been on sale for a while and after making enquiries at the library was not holding out much hope of snagging one. But I DID! And then I had to count down the weeks patiently. (I was not patient!)

hollie 1

There were many things that Hollie McNish didn’t know before she was pregnant. How her family and friends would react; that Mr Whippy would be off the menu; how quickly ice can melt on a stomach.

These were on top of the many other things she didn’t know about babies: how to stand while holding one; how to do a poetry gig with your baby as a member of the audience; how drum’n’bass can make a great lullaby. And that’s before you even start on toddlers: how to answer a question like ‘is the world a jigsaw?’; dealing with a ten-hour train ride together; and how children can be caregivers too. But Hollie learned. And she’s still learning, slowly.

Nobody Told Me is a collection of poems and stories taken from Hollie’s diaries; one person’s thoughts on raising a child in modern Britain, of trying to become a parent in modern Britain, of sex, commercialism, feeding, gender and of finding secret places to scream once in a while.

Here for your pleasure is Hollie.

I have a copy of Cherry Pie and I knew that ‘Nobody Told Me’ would be hard for me but I also knew that it contained lots of personal writing and brilliant poetry by Hollie. It is a brash, wonderful, truthful account of motherhood.

I loved every minute of her performance and the fact that she expected about 20 people because it was a library gig. There seemed to be 200 chairs full but I think the official ticket number was 130 – mainly women, but some men too. An audience of Hollie fans and what I particularly loved was that I knew just 4 people there! So there are 100s of people who love poetry and will travel to Worcester to see it – this is good to know.

I chatted to the lovely strangers from Malvern that I sat next to before the event and did a little quiet promoting for SpeakEasy, Poetry Ballroom, Uncorked and WLF.

There was a great atmosphere in the basement – like we had all been invited to some secret club. I once used this space with my writing group, but I had expected the event to be held in the studio. The audience was too big for that space.

I queued up for ages afterwards to chat to Hollie, but unfortunately the majority of people in that queue were mums and there was only so much conversation I could take. Also it was the end of a long, hard week and bless Hollie, she was spending a long time with each individual. I also felt bad (although she told us not to) because I wasn’t buying the book. It is a brilliant book but it is a very tough subject for me at the moment so I know I wouldn’t read it straight away. I will buy it. It is packed full and a bargain on poem/story to £ ratio. But I wasn’t buying it right there. So I freaked myself out a bit in the line and decided to call it a night. I regret now, not waiting to chat with her as I have on previous occasions and it would have made my night to do so. On the flipside I got home really early and had the rest of the evening with Mr G.

It was a joy to watch Hollie perform and listen to the Q & A afterwards. Sharing her writing method and unedited voice was good to know. Witnessing her realising nobody has ever asked her for advice was as funny as hearing about her (pre- Mothercare) advice from her Grandmother. Loved it!

RELATED LINKS:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/26/nobody-told-me-hollie-mcnish-review-warm-poetic-motherhood-memoir

https://holliepoetry.com/

 

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

 

 

Poetry Wrap 2: April

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April was busy, I plan to write the blog posts this Bank Holiday weekend and get the blog on track for May.

Digbeth Garden Hannah J Graham A New Path of Poetry

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I started working on a very different style of poetry, sometimes this happens. What happened is I plotted the narrative, like a story and then free wrote the poem, next worked it back to bare bones. I was worried that such a brutal approach to editing would leave the reader searching around for meaning. Feedback was positive and resulted in me writing another small poem. Small poems (a little book of) is what I am working on right now, alongside other things of course.

Commissions

My attention was drawn to an Arts Council Commission. Beatfreeks were searching for 3 poets to participate in the Night at the Museum commission for the Pen Museum, Jewellery Quarter – Birmingham. I applied and kept fingers crossed as I felt I would love working with a museum filled with my favourite things. It stung a bit to not make it through. I want to be honest in the information on my blog, all creatives – in any field know, that for every success there was a lot of failure – people never see that part (usually).

Jess Davies & Sammy Jo are both part of the project and will enjoy it lots, I’m sure.pen museum

It looks exciting.

On the same day I applied for a festival commission (hoping to have more luck with that one).

Writing West Midlands – Network Meeting

We all met at the Custard Factory for another lively meeting, high points for me – apart from seeing everyone of course, included gathering more resources AND a free poetry book! WWM were having a clear out.

WILD WORDS – Restless Bones Fundraiser

Hosted by Tessa Kate Lowe
An evening of Poetry, Comedy & Music RESTLESS BONES readings, Comedy from Dave Rees-Jones & Music from Rachel Mayfield, Afro Mio & Joe Smith wild words

The Restless Bones team performed poetry and listened to some invited guests storytell and play music too. It was a great night. I didn’t win the raffle, but we had a signature competition which Tessa Lowe and I won. Lots of prize goodies; Born Free T- shirt, DVD, book. We have now raised over £6oo to fight against the fur trade. It was lovely to see everyone again and share the night with a great audience.

The book costs £9.99 and all proceeds go to Born Free.

Elaine Catherine Christie

RESTLESS BONES £9.99 plus P&P £2.80

Check out Elaine’s website for more information.

Word Up – Bobby Parker, Jackie Smallridge & Sarah Dixon

It was a fantastic night at Word Up.

Bobby Parker’s poetry plays truth or dare, baring the soul of the small town blues: undaunted by subject matter and fearless of propriety or prettiness, he writes with dynamic clarity of frightening, lonely places within and without our selves. Publications include the critically acclaimed experimental books Ghost Town Music and Comberton, available @ The Knives Forks & Spoons Press. His debut full collection, Blue Movie, Parker holds back on nothing – both daringly up-front and utterly candid, Blue Movie veers between disaster, horror, comedy, sex, drugs, love and parenthood with dare-you-to-laugh brilliance. Along with their starkness and mucky-faced honesty, these poems are meticulously crafted, canny, and always one step ahead.

Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere of Quiet, quiet, LOUD! in Chorlton, Manchester. She runs regular writing workshops. Sarah has been published in Stare’s Nest, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Loose Muse, BOMP 3, YorkMix, Rain Dog and many more.

“Sarah’s creative energy and enthusiasm are legendary. She encourages and gives a platform to fellow poets. Where would we be without her?-Carole Bromley

Jackie Smallridge’s infamous collection of poems SCRUBBERJACK published by Heaventree press is the kind a lot of ordinary people relate to as Jackie’s work is a real portrait of estate life. What she has to say in no uncertain terms is beyond the boundaries of political correctness & shoots straight from the observations of an honest mind. She doesn’t seek to make her audience feel safe, keeping her performances thrilling, raw & relentlessly entertaining.

Join us for a night of POETRY-MUSIC-SPOKEN WORD provided by the wonderfully talented inhabitants of Birmingham and beyond. We guarantee a night you’ll never forget.

Wenlock Poetry Festival wenlock poetry fest
wenlock 2015
See the WENLOCK post here.
It was a fabulous day, shared with great poetry friends. I performed at the Open Mic ‘Poems & Pints’ and at the 52 event, I saw Jo Bell, Hollie McNish and Jonathan Edwards. I needed Sunday to recover (which was Cheltenham Poetry Festival) – I am hoping someone develops an energy supplement for poetry festival goers next year!   wenlock poetry festival
 
Stratford Literary Festival – The Healing Power of Poetry
Power of Poetry to Heal < read a review of the event here.
It was great to meet Rachel Kelly in person and the sessions was moving and worthwhile. sua litfest
42 Super Heroes 42
I always enjoy 42 and I missed it last month, it is like being reunited with a big family and this particular theme was a winner. Everyone performed fantastic Super Hero themed work, I had struggled for ages to write a super hero poem and ended up taking a prose poem (we have been working on these in the MOOC), then as I watched other performers I suddenly had a flashback to being 5 and wanting to be Wonder Woman. I wrote a poem minutes before I took my turn on stage, it wasn’t bad either. Positive reactions to the wit and wording. 42 superhero
Webinar on blogging
On Friday I found a link to a webinar on blogging – it was really aimed at people who generate an income through their blogs and those who blog a business. I decided to give it a go. I looked up the international time difference and was an hour late! Oppps. The end was good though and have had an email since saying I can link to a repeat for the next 24 hours.
I have been back to webinar Learn to Blog since and written 3 pages of notes which I can implement, some of which I have already started. More on this another soon.
MOOC course 3 weeks in
In 2013 when I first stepped back up to writing, I signed up to some online courses, none of which were a patch on this one. How Writer’s Write – I have discovered new poets and poems and styles through the weekly Master classes, I have created 6 new works, have been inspired by other things in the community to produce more. It is great to focus on the weekly assignments. The course was delayed and we are just about half way through now, it would have worked better in March as April and May are busy festival seasons, but it was worth the wait. CN-1780-logo-uofiowa

Review of April 2015

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 April

You were a glorious month on one side of the coin and a very difficult one on the other. I am going to write a separate blogpost about the dips because I think it is something all writers experience and it might help people who feel they are alone with the downside of this profession.

My highlights include Wenlock Poetry Festival, having poems published and performing at a Book Launch.

BLOGS & PROJECTS

David Calcutt is currently working on a group poetry project for a performance in June, from the Caldmore Writing Workshops. Sadly I can’t make the reading as it is the final session in the library with WWM group and the distance between the two venues and timing of the class make it impossible. They are considering re-doing it for a summer festival in August though so I hope to make that one.

The MOOC poetry course (University of Iowa) finally started and has been great so far – I will share some of the poetry that has been created as a result, some of it I hope to work on and publish, but I can leave teasing snippets here on AWF. CN-1780-logo-uofiowa

There are too many students (6000) I think, to make any real bonds with, but we have a good few weeks to go so maybe networks will develop too. I love the international favour and the excitement of discovering new poets and poetry.

WWM PINK I have also planned another writing session for WWM, after our network meeting as I am the LEAD Writer again for May. It is going to be a great session.

The Quiet CompereQC things are hotting up, it was over a year ago when 10 poets were approached to take part in this tour. My t-shirt has been ordered, I have gone for a lovely bright blue one!

quiet compere 2015 T

I am going to be using some of my next headline set as part of my 10 minutes and also hope to interview the Quiet Compere herself, Sarah Dixon, for this blog. She is Arts Council funded (which means we are paid) and tours the North of England/Midlands (and this year the South too) with 10 selected poets performing 10 minute sets at various venues. Ours is THE HIVE in Worcester, the studio space in the library is perfect for performance, especially with the lighting rig!

sarah-dixon-quiet-compere-tour-schedule

http://www.thehiveworcester.org/events.html

sua litfest The Power of Poetry To Heal with Rachel Kelly, Susanna Howard and Jill Fraser, was worth going to. A very moving event and meeting Rachel in person – who has requested another blogpost – well it would be rude not to was smashing too.

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The Power of Poetry to Heal

Poetry as a means to help dementia victims and depression: Rachel Kelly, Susanna Howard and Jill Fraser

Stratford Artshous
I will write a more detailed post soon, both about the event and the work these people do.
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Norman posted an abundance of final prompts for us to get our teeth into and the community of MINT is going strong. Most of us are still full of the pleasure Wenlock brought us and are now booking tickets for Stratford Upon Avon Poetry Festival.

SUBMISSIONS & COMMISSIONS

This month I was looking for time to write on my own projects and completely had my head in the sand about other submission opportunities. I made a bid for a festival this summer and also another one for BeatFreeks Pen Museum – which I didn’t get chosen for but Jess Davies and Sammy Joe did, so congratulations to them. I won’t pretend I am not gutted – I love pens and this would have been the perfect commission (paid as well) to celebrate National Museum Night.

l also entered some poetry for an amazing opportunity which sadly has not come to fruition this time.

Can you see why I started to dip?

I submitted 3 poems to I am not a silent Poet and had all 3 published.

Bomb Damage

Girls on the Ground

Weapons of War Ghanda’sStory

They were written for 16 Days of Activism Event last Autumn at The Library of Birmingham.

I submitted to an anthology project ‘Birmingham Bound’

Satellite

PERFORMING POETRY

Spoken Word at The Ort

SpeakEasy

Book Launch – The Magnetic Diaries by Sarah James

Mouth and Music

WILD WORDS – Restless Bones Fundraiser

Word Up

Wenlock Poetry Festival – Poems & Pints

Wenlock Poetry Festival – 52

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EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS

WWM Network Meeting

WWM Group

Caldmore Community Garden Workshop

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Wenlock Poetry Festival

I also started to work on a workshop project.

Stratford Literary Festival

All in all a good month that I need to blog about as soon as I can.

Happy Writing x

Poetry Events in March – Permission to Speak (4.3.15)

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I started to catch up with Blog posts last week and then wordpress ate my draft and I couldn’t find it anywhere and then ran out of time to rewrite. Now I have finished a busy weekend of poeting and have time to start afresh (in a word doc.) just incase!

I am backtracking to the beginning of the month. My first event was ‘Permission to Speak’ with Rob Francis at the Scary Canary in Stourbridge. Caution Poet & Dave Halama were the featured artist this month, great sets from them both. Caution has a book out, ‘Fragile’.

caution poet book Fragile

The words from Rob Francis himself;

Our next spoken word event hosted by the great Robert Francis includes words from the great ‘Caution Poet’ and musical delights from Dave Halama. P2S dave halama

© 2015 Peter Williams

P2S caution and book © 2015 Peter Williams

Caution Poet With a new poetry collection titled ‘Fragile’ available to purchase on the night this writers work reflects life “from his childhood recollections of The Big Brum Estate, to the sobering reality of Tinted Windows To The Soul, Caution Poet slices through life with dark pop poetry precision. As we throw Caution to the wind, accepted reality becomes fragile perception. No-one ever said it was going to be easy…”

MM3 Rob Francis Rob Francis

You can see Caution Poet here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdJ-oXtPMRU

It was a great night! Only the 2nd event and Rob has built up a great crowd of supporters and artists at this event. What made the evening special was Stacey Pilcher the co-owner and creator of the bar, performed behind the mic.

P2S stacey smith Photography Peter Williams

Especially as up until then (not that I’d noticed), I was the only female performer!

Next month the featured artist/poet is Dave Reeves, poet in residence from The Black Country Museum and the compere for the evening in Leamington in 2013 when I took my first step back towards the mic, at Julie Boden’s spoken word event. In May, I will be the featured guest.

This event happens monthly and if you are local enough to give it a try, I would recommend it! Rob is a great host and the audience are receptive and warm.

P2S me

Beyond the event the venue itself is worth a visit, a refurbished site, once a McDonalds with a cafe downstairs and Scary Canary, an excellent venue for entertaining, live events. I love the overuse of lampshades, the homely settees, the leather suites, the coffee tables which were once doors, the MDF drinks mats and the original (maybe) tiled bar area. They also display artworks by local artists, there is always something new on display and it can all be bought!

I have borrowed a recent article to give you a taste.

Stourbridge Venue – Stourbridge News Photographs © James Butroid

Copyright 2015 James Butroid Stourbridge News

Copyright 2015 James Butroid Stourbridge News

Review of February – Another Great Month!

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‘I cannot believe it is March, but then February is such a short month! This year has been fantastic so far – as you know if you have followed the story – I am now in my 3rd year of the 1st of 4 Olympic challenges… inspired by the Summer Olympics in London, I realised that we hear the GOLD stories and not the 4, 8, 12, 16 years leading up to them. Often athletes may get to GOLD just before they are forced to retire… as writers don’t need to be in peak physical condition (we are only ever warned about the writers saggy bottom), we can (and do) write into our 80s and beyond. So once 16 years has passed I will not lay down my pen, I will carry on, but my beginners strides were to consider my writing life 16 years ahead.

Here is the beginning of year 3 (and considering I rediscovered poetry (my main focus) back in September 2013 I am only 1.5 years in) I read with awe CVs and Bios of writers in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th 5th years of their careers and thought ‘WOW, they’ve achieved that fast’ – and here I am;

Published

Performing and known locally

Headlining events

Mentoring young writers

I  have spent a year working as an assistant writer for Writing West Midlands and now can cover as a Lead writer (with some incredibly exciting news today about my future and this role which matches my hopes exactly)

Work has appeared on the Poetry Trail Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014

I worked on a commission performed at Birmingham Literature Festival (a year after I attended the festival as a wide-eyed gleeful new poet)

I have been booked as a featured act for a Charity event in Birmingham this Spring

I was booked last year (way before the amazing 52) to be 1 of 10 poets on Sarah Dixon’s Quiet Compere Tour 2015

I am working on my first chapbook/ pamphlet

I will be performing on the same night as John Hegley (Poetry God) this Autumn

I have grabbed every opportunity for workshops, tutorials and conversations with writers and publishers

I am supporting Daniel Sluman in the promotion of his second collection ‘the terrible’, right here on the AWF Blog

I AM HAPPY!

owl

Now to February – how did it look?

BLOGS & PROJECTS

As I get more active in reality, naturally I have less time to blog (I still find it amazing to consider the time that goes into such small posts), however the blog is still healthy and full of life, so thanks for popping in for a read.

Literature Festival Season is upon us, I booked all my tickets for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015, including the 52 Project with Jo Bell and Norman Hadley, my book has been ordered too. 52 was such an amazing project to be a small part of and it has brought the wonders of the publishing world and success to many of the participants.

This year I am seeking to place my poetry in suitable places, rather than spending my life writing to theme (although no doubt I will do this also). I have been a bit slack this month in sending anything out, with Mr G working away from home I seem to have lost some of my precious writing time and the energy needed to flow creatively. Coping to live alone again is a hard, time consuming struggle, just one month to go though and we will be back to normal!

I did submit poetry to Rethink and entered the Corinium Museum competition.

I continued to attend David Calcutt’s Community Garden workshops in Walsall. We have exciting ventures mapped out for March, including a reading event in the garden and more workshops. Some of the poetry I have produced in Caldmore can be seen on his website (link to follow).

I also had my 2nd workshop with Angela France in Stratford-Upon-Avon, which was even more inspirational than the first and has had me mapping out all sorts of ideas and poetry threads in my notebook since!

I also booked myself onto my 2nd online writing course, this one with the University of Iowa.

SUBMISSIONS

I submitted work to;

Rethink Your Mind (Competition)

Corinium Museum (Comp.)

 

PERFORMING POETRY

This year I decided to pull back on the 100+ gigs of last year to allow more time to work on writing.

Permission to Speak, Robert Francis, Stourbridge. Featuring Fergus McGonigal

Mouth & Music, Heather Wastie & Sarah Tamar, Kidderminster. Featuring Lorna Meehan & Kate Wragg

Hit the Ode, Spoz, Birmingham. Featuring Jasmine Gardosi, Rose Condo & MiKo Berry

Drummonds 42, Andrew Owens, Worcester.

 

EVENTS & WORKSHOPS

Stanza

SpeakEasy, Fergus McGonigal & Maggie Doyle, Worcester. Featuring Gary Longden

Angela France – Stratford-Upon-Avon workshop – mapping poetry

Poets at the Hive – Ben Parker, Sarah James, Ruth Stacey and Todd Swift

David Calcutt – Caldmore Gardens Workshop

Caroline Horton – AND TEXT Workshop, Birmingham MAIA Creatives

Writing West Midlands – Assistant writer/ Lead Writer and cover

I was asked to perform in Mad March Events in Malvern, at a Book Launch in April, interviewed Daniel Sluman for the blog promo tour, stocked up on more books;

‘The Forward Book of Poetry’

‘FU Pardon My Tone’ MiKo Berry

‘A Poetry Handbook’ Mary Oliver

‘The Escape artists’ Ben Parker

‘Unfinished Study of a French Girl’ Todd Swift

‘Magnetic Diaries’ Sarah James

and read a ton of writing articles.

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© 2015 Forward Arts Foundation

© 2015 Forward Arts Foundation

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Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

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Hit the Ode – Jasmine Gardosi, Rose Condo, MiKo Berry & Spoz

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Last week I went to Hit The Ode, it was amazing! I promised you a blog post about it and here it is.

Thursday 19th February – Birmingham hit

It was an incredible night. This event is hosted by Bohdan Piasecki, but he was in Poland, so Spoz (a.k.a Giovanni Esposito) took over as the compere. He was a superb host and entertained us to a frenzy, Bohdan left us all in very capable hands. Spoz is a pro!

I love the fact that every guest they book is always (without exception) mindblowingly brilliant and you know you will always have a great night! I have discovered so many talented performers through this Apple & Snakes event.

The evening was superb! I wanted to support Jasmine Gardosi, a great talent and main feature, what made it more special was this had been her dream from the start, booked to headline Hit the Ode. A rare opportunity to see another headlining set from Jasmine, twice in a month – spoilt!

Although, I have to confess that I contacted them for an open mic slot too. I was looking forward to ranting out ‘Taxing’ – I did realise that I lost many of the younger audience, who perhaps not yet owning vehicles have not experienced the joy of updating paperwork and paying vast sums of money annually to be allowed to use the pot-holed roads of this fine Island! Fortunately the audience can range from pre-18 up to 60 (possibly +) so I was understood by a few and the end of the poem should raise a smile or laugh or too, it did, I even got my first click!

It was an amazing night, the open mic-ers rocked the stage with stonkingly good performances and the headliners… well… WOW – it has been months since I managed to get to Hit the Ode and every headliner drummed in how much I had missed it. hit 1

Hit the Ode brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Join us! We have poems. Poems which scratch that one spot you can never reach on your own; poems whose volume knob was broken off last time you had a party; poems you had better not leave unattended, or they will be taken away and disposed off. Good poems. Come and get them!

jasmine Rose Condo

Featuring: From Birmingham, Jasmine Gardosi Jasmine Gardosi is a spoken word poet, Poets’ Place coordinator, part of the team behind Opus Club, and Birmingham Poet Laureate 2014/15 finalist. In other words, a pillar of the Brummie poetry community. Come and discover her complex, entertaining, often surreal poetry.

From Yorkshire, Rose Condo A Canadian based in West Yorkshire, Rose Condo is a prolific performance poet and the winner of Newcastle’s Slamalgamate (pictured)  – coming to Birmingham for the first time to claim the prize, a featured slot at our own Hit the Ode. rose condo1

From Edinburgh, MiKo Berry All the way from exotic Scotland comes MiKo Berry – the Scottish Poetry Slam Champion, European poetry slam finalist, founder of the renowned Loud Poets, his flair for combining the finest literary technique with stage savvy distinguish him as a poet and a performer.

Miko The Thin Book of Poems launch party at Woodland Creatures in Leith.

MiKo Berry The Thin Book of Poems-launch party- Woodland Creatures in Leith

I was lucky enough to talk to Rose Condo during the interval, we had a great chat about performing and writing poetry. Now I will think of her every time I look at my bathmat. Go and see her and you will see why, it has nothing to do with bathing, bathrooms or personal hygiene and more to do with place.

MiKo Berry blew everyone’s socks off (almost literally), one of the most exciting performers I have seen… and you know how many I have seen. Get yourself up to Scotland, Edinburgh and go and see him.

Jasmine Gardosi performed a touching set, performing material that was brand new and fresh and deeper than deep, alongside crowd pleasing favourites and clever poetry that played with metaphor, reality and rhythm!

Great – all highly recommended!

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And in the words of the headline poets, hot from social media press, (well lukewarm, as I am a week and a day late posting)!

Had a cracking night at Hit The Ode. Spoz was the host with the most! Open mic was ace. The place pumped with energy and what a thrill to share the mic with the amazing Jasmine Gardosi  and MiKo Berry. Holy high on poetry batman!

Rose Condo

So many awesome poems and lovely people. On the train home now but still smiling 🙂 Thanks everyone for a brilliant night!

Miko Berry

Still picking up brainy pieces of my mind which was blown from two ridiculous sets from Rose Condo and MiKo Berry  and a splurge of quality open mics from Brum’s finest. Great job Spoz and Bohdan.

Jasmine Gardosi

hit ode rose miko spoz jas

Rose Condo, MiKo Berry, Spoz & Jasmine Gardosi at Hit The Ode, Birmingham 19.2.15

A whole week later and I am STILL buzzing, was a splendid night of poetry!

3 in a Row: Mouth & Music, Howl & SpeakEasy – A Week of Events

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This week was a fairly busy one, due to full time work I was not able to make one of the events listed in the title, but as it is a NEW Word Event – I thought I would take this opportunity to promote it, I am hoping to make next month’s and then give you a real flavour. I heard it was a great evening – but more on that later!

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Tuesday Night saw Mouth & Music – this month upstairs in the Gallery (a space I love) with headliners Lorna Meehan and Katie Wragg. I was lucky enough to catch Katie last month headlining SpeakEasy, I wanted to hear more from her, a talented guitarist/songwriter who has collaborated on performance work with Heather Wastie and I hope one day will write Kidderminster, the Musical. (Although she may hate me mentioning such an idea as I have made it sound like a feasible project! Sorry Kate.) And Lorna – who I would follow around the planet listening to, a fantastically talented performance poet, who herself has been booked to headline these 3 events this month – so you read more about her in a minute.

It was an incredible evening, some real talent and great pieces shared. Even had an open mic-er who has spent a year listening to us all and joined in at the mic. Magical when that happens. Splendidly dramatic performance as well!

Stonking night at Mouth & Music – Lorna Meehan, Jasmine Gardosi, Katie Wragg, Heather Wastie, Peter Williams, Paul Francis and a ton of talented open mic-ers…. and in the warmth of the gallery! Loved it – I had the inspiration for 5 new poems and scribbled notes all over next month’s flyer!

I am beyond excited that Tom Crossland and Joe Whitehouse grace the stage in April and before that, next month we have the talents of Paul Francis and Rich Stokes, as if last month’s Spark Off wasn’t fabulous enough!

Next month’s theme is Politicians and as I am attempting to write some similar themed poetry for submission this week I should have it covered. My research this week was to watch and transcribe a programme which in turn pushed me towards focussing on a few specific areas. Should be a fun challenge – I use Media/ politics in poetry but have never written one purely from a political point of view. It is good to stretch yourselves as writers.

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I wanted to get to Kings Heath for Howl the next evening – but had also been working full time with some older children and was still tired from the previous week I think – my medication doesn’t help with the tiredness (in case you were wondering why tiredness and sleep feature so heavily on the blog).

Long story short, I did not make it. I fell asleep before 6pm right after my fast-cook-pre-gig tea and didn’t wake up until they had already kicked off. It is some drive too and I really wouldn’t have been safe behind a wheel – I could barely keep my eyes open! So I traded myself an early night and was actually reading in bed by 9:30pm and asleep before 10pm. All sure signs I wasn’t able to make it to the gig.

The day after was also my 5th writing day and I thought if I went to HOWL I would definitely spend most of it asleep- unfortunately that was the reality even without the gig – I think my day started at lunchtime.

Howl Feat is a new evening in a great little pub ‘The Sun at The Station’ in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Hosted by Leon Priestnall, this month’s featured artists were Casey Bailey, Lily Blacksell (who featured alongside Antony Owen and myself at Word Up last month), Lorna Meehan and Joe Cook.
Howl provides a space for the best spoken word artists in Birmingham to speak freely, no restraint, express themselves, provide food for thought, rock the house and entertain.

Casey Bailey
A spoken word poet and rapper from Birmingham. Poetry style is literal and lyrical, touching on a number of different subjects, from growing up in inner city Birmingham to world events. These subjects are tackled with a combination of straight talk and humour.

Lily Blacksell
Lily studies at the University of Birmingham, where she is president of Writers’ Bloc. She has performed her poetry in pubs, theatres, pub-theatres, poetry slams and literary festivals. In 2013, she was part of Apples and Snakes’ Lit Fuse programme, and she also had a poem filmed in the centre of Brum as part of their Power Plant series last summer: http://vimeo.com/109935773

Lorna Meehan
Lorna has been on the circuit for over ten years, performing at festivals like Glastonbury and touring with Apples and Snakes with her mixture of candid hilarity and mellow introspection. You can listen to her work here: https://soundcloud.com/lornameehan

Joe Cook
A.K.A Cookie, is a poet, musician, workshop facilitator and political activist from Birmingham. Heavily influenced by Hip-Hop and Reggae his musical background shows in his lyrical poetry. Described as “The Streets meets Joe Strummer” , his voice is raw, full of passion and heavy beats. He’s performed all around Birmingham at prolific venues such as The Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Mac Birmingham, Recently opening for Hollie McNish at the Rainbow Warehouse as well as performing in London with the Burn After Reading Poetry Collective

HOWL

Then Thursday rolled into view and I had finished the early mornings with work. I struggled to wake up though and after a brief early morning coffee and scan of some writing articles, I fell back to sleep. I had supposed to work on some submissions due mid-month which I knew with Valentine’s and Mr G’s birthday would be impossible over the weekend, as it is I missed these deadlines yesterday.

I completed my politician research and shopping online for Mr G and to book Valentine’s tickets, ran out of time for any actual writing, not that MUSE was shouting loud enough to get through.

I tore to the shops to pick up some birthday/valentine’s bits & made it home with half an hour to spare before SpeakEasy (or at least before Claire’s kind lift), I wasn’t sure if I was able to go this month, had I made Howl – I doubt I would have had the energy.

Speakeasy was great – we were late getting there and missed the first half almost, just caught Kathy Gee! The Headline Act was Gary Longden (Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate), was great to catch a whole set of his.

Lichfield poet, Gary Longden returns to Worcester after a long break. He is our headliner for SpeakEasy on Thursday, February 12th. We are also delighted to welcome one of the Decadent Poetry Divas – Lorna Meehan (Headlined at Mouth & Music at the Boars Head Gallery on Tuesday, February 10th). Kathy Gee, John Lawrence, Neil Laurenson, Math Jones and Charley Barnes, together with open mic slots, complete tonight’s event. We hope you can join us for an evening of varied poetry, unique styles, plenty of entertainment and, of course, the fantastic raffle.

It was a good night and enjoyable to watch for once – although Claire Walker and I have both been told to perform at the next one! There was a clashing event I may have been involved with but so far next month’s still free.

speakeasy

 

 

2014 Review of the Year

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fs fireworks This is also the 1100 post rather excitingly!

It has been a roller coaster year and I have loved every minute. I am already busy working on projects for 2015 and plan to update you all early in January.

2014 has been an amazing year, my first full year in my poetry skin (returning to this form of writing after a 15 year gap), I performed at Literary Festivals (Wenlock, Worcester, Stratford & Birmingham), finally got to the Ledbury Festival, was published in poetry journals & print anthologies, entered a few poetry competitions, was part of a team of local writers who featured in the Restless Bones Anthology to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation. I continued to work for Writing West Midlands, was offered a one to one mentoring role from WWM and given the opportunity for some further training in Arts Mark awards, had my poetry display in the library, on the Wenlock Poetry Trail, at Acton Scott Farm, was commissioned to write poetry for a Festival performance, had several main sets (15mins+) performances, wrote lots and got as involved as much as time enabled in Jo Bell’s wonderful 52 project. What I also did in January was promote 52 to local poets, some of whom are now taking on major roles in the continuation of this project.

Here’s a summary of all the wondrous parts of my writing year;

PROJECTS

  • Participated in the Mindful Stones project for a month,
  • was invited to 52 by Jo Bell, a project lasting the whole of the year,
  • The Fourth Wall (one of my original Dance poems) was displayed by the Arts Network in a local Library for a month.
  • Nominated AWF as a blog following the NAPOWRIMO challenge and participated for my 2nd year running, although due to commitments performing on the road kept me away from managing the whole of National Poetry Writing Month.
  • What’s the Agenda – A weekend Arts Festival at the MAC – Midlands Arts Centre – submitted work to Hayley Frances. My Haiku poetry became part of her installation on Hikikomori. A very powerful piece.
  • I hoped to be involved in a Brainfruit production with Roy Hutchins as part of his Poetry Army, unfortunately due to a lack of sales this event was cancelled. I hope to work with Roy in the future.
  • I was asked to perform on The Quiet Compere Tour next year, funded by the Arts Council this is a paid gig.

PERFORMANCES & EVENTS

106 performances including in late Spring some collaboration with Tim Scarborough on a set of poetry and music, opening events for galleries, sets at Festivals, performing on a narrow boat, Worcester Music Festival, 100,000 Poets for Change and my first ever Poetry Slam.

AWF hosted INKSPILL, an online writing retreat for the 2nd time, this year it was supported by guest writers; Charlie Jordan, William Gallagher & Heather Wastie.

 

WATCH & LEARN – SHOWS AND WORKSHOPS

Cat Weatherill Hungry Hearts

The Quiet Compere Tour Birmingham – Sarah Dixon

The Hive joint venture between Worcester LitFest and Ledbury Poetry Festival;

Angela France, Martin Malone

Wenlock Poetry Festival

Poetry Workshop with Jean Atkin at Acton Scott Farm

Carol Ann Duffy – National Poet Laureate in a joint venture between Ledbury Poetry festival & WLF

The Tea Project – Tara and Lynsey – MAC Arts Centre

Antony Owen & Joseph Horgan- Book Launch at the Inspire Bar, Coventry

Jo Bell and 52 – Picnic/ Performance Event Stratford-Upon-Avon Poetry Festival

Poetry Party – my first one

Benches – Jan Watts Book Launch / Off the Page Event

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family – Ben Norris at the MAC.

Wolverley Village Tea Shop – Pop Up Poetry Event organised by Sue Wood and featuring Worcester Lit Fest poets and others.

Elvis McGonagall at The Hive, Worcester, an event organised by the Worcester Lit Fest.

Poetry Workshop – National Poetry Day – Remember – Jan Watts and Cathy Crossley

Birmingham Poet Laureate Announcement and other Birmingham Literature Festival events including; Radio 4 Poetry Please with Roger McGough, With Great Pleasure, also recorded for BBC Radio 4, Rich McMahon & Tell Me on a Sunday, with Cat Weatherill.

Writing West Midlands Writing Meeting

David Calcutt – Wild Fire – Writing Workshop in Community Gardens, 2nd workshop with a group poem that will become part of the Garden.

Angela France – Poetry Workshop

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

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

Stanza meetings and writing for Hanbury Hall via the Arts Network

WWM – Writing West Midlands – Young Writing- where I started my first of three 1 to 1 Mentoring sessions.

 

WRITING LIFE

Joined the Arts Network and several online subscriptions.

Successful application for Assistant Writers Role with WWM Writing West Midlands, working with young writers and Ian MacLeod. I also covered as an assistant writer in Jean Atkin’s group.

Applied to be involved in a commission with Naked Lungs, I was later successfully picked for the final collaboration.

Celebrated ONE YEAR A POET a celebration of my first year back in the world of poetry

 

PUBLISHED

Kidderminster Creatives Website –

Poem on the Wenlock Poetry Trail (as part of the Poetry Festival) 1 of 23 poems displayed in local shops in the town.

Shops website published

Two poems accepted for Born Free Poetry Anthology – Restless Bones. Elaine Christie watched a performance f my 52 poems a few months later and asked for another two poems, I am delighted to have 4 poems in this wonderful collection.

Hayley Frances asked for Haikus for a new community project taking place as a weekend festival at the MAC (Midland Arts Centre) I sent quite a few and had them used in her Hikikomori installation at the end of the month, which I was lucky enough to see.

I sent some poetry to Acton Scott Farm, Jean Atkin was the poet in residence and had The Half and Half Pig chosen for the Poetry Fence.

Clench Published by Hark Magazine, July Issue.

I also worked on an epic submission for Offa’s Press, which was rejected, but I have the pleasure of knowing one of the new poets that was taken on.

Fallacy (a 52 poem) published in the GBWO – Great British Write Off.

The Cart – Published online – Poetry on The Farm Website

‘Falling into Line’, written especially for the Boy/Girl Issue Published by HCE

Picasso of Dance (a 52 poem) published in Remember Poetry Anthology by Paragram

 

LOOK OUT for exciting Daniel Sluman posts (he proposed over Christmas) so look forward to an excited Daniel Sluman too!