A showcase of 10 emerging and established poets with a short open mic section hosted by Sarah L Dixon and Dave Pitt.
Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere of Huddersfield, is taking her unique show on a nine-date tour. Six live and three online events. This series will feature 73 performers.
The tour brings together a diverse selection of poets of all ages, cultures, styles and experience, designed to entice an audience that may never have experienced spoken word events before. Sarah has been running spoken word events under her guise as The Quiet Compere for eleven years.
Quiet Compere events are unique. There are no lengthy introductions to poets, no-one is designated as ‘top-of-the-bill’ – all performers considered equal in Sarah’s eyes. Each line-up boasts a varied and diverse mix of poets, ranging from established local poets, some new to the scene who are ready to stun audiences with their talent, plus a generous sprinkling of nationally well-known poets and performers.
As anyone who follows the blog will know, April is mainly a space for NaPoWriMo, half of which falls during Easter break, the other 15 days are snatched between work and life. This April we also had lots of family needs and it was necessary to step back from work as much as possible to support and survive.
I realise it is now almost the end of June and I have not posted, so here is a little flashback beyond NaPoWriMo.
I had two wonderful events in April, Peter Sutton’s Book Launch, where I was a Guest Reader and Country Voices in Ironbridge, where I performed alongside Nick Pearson & Cherry Doyle. It was a brilliant afternoon of poetry.
Both of these gigs saw my return to LIVE events (after an attempt last September). There is something very strange about the act of leaving your home to perform nowadays, it all feels so new and different. Both events were well attended, so it shows not everyone was as nervous as me.
I have read Cherry’s and Nick’s work but never met them, that was a pleasure. I saw Nick perform again this month at Welshpool Festival. I have also worked with and been aware of Sara-Jane Arbury for years but had never met face to face, that was lovely after knowing her online for a few years.
In Elmslie House the gallery also had a few pieces on display which were created by another of Sara- Jane’s Ledbury Poetry workshop participants. We had fun finding them. Peter’s book launch was an incredible event, a packed audience and so much rich poetry. Black Pear Press know how to throw a party/launch!
I also took part in the Mindful Poetry gathering run by The Well in partnership with the On Being Project. I have attended since 2020 lockdown year, it is a wonderful group of creative Americans and is always a lovely hour of soulfulness attended by people from all around the world. I have really missed these events and was looking forward to them coming back for National Poetry Month.
The Well is nourished by the non-profit organization A Mindful Moment. Our mission is to improve the mental and emotional well-being, connectedness, and effectiveness of all citizens through arts integration, mindfulness, music, movement, and healing-centered practices.
I went to lots of events and watched some stunning sets. I was lucky enough to see Jason Allen-Paisant, who I came across just two years ago during Lockdown. His poetry is amazing and my bookshelves now house him.
May was full of medical appointments, work and family. We celebrated some of our American relatives arriving in our part of the UK after time in London and before a trip across to Dublin. I was also busy developing the program for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, along with the rest of the team. I missed several events due to complete exhaustion. Later in the month there were some family needs which very much took over everything.
I did manage some much needed time at the ocean (my first time away from home in 4 years), it was a long trip to Wales for a short amount of time there but worth every hour of the journey.
I received a beautiful copy of a pamphlet a group of Stanza members worked on in 2018 as part of a Forest of Dean project. It is beautiful and a privilege to read all our words from that day. Thank you to Andrew Hoaen for my copy of SILVA – it brings that incredible day with the trees back to me!
I went to the Nine Arches Press Book Launch of Julia Webb and Tom Sastry, a wonderful event and two stunning collections! They were joined by Daniel Sluman, who’s latest collection ‘Single Window’ is also on my shelf!
Another great Book Launch with Bloodaxe poets Jo Clement, Sarah Wimbush & Clare Shaw.
I admire the work of all these poets. It is also lovely knowing (most of) them!
I also had the gift of a Verve Poetry Launch which included Sarah James and her latest collection Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic. I have heard Kathy Pimlott read before, I have read some of Kayleigh Campbell’s work and it was fascinating hearing Georgina Wilding.
I finally finished work on a project I have been sitting on for the best part of two years. And by the end of the May WLFF Festival was ready and we were all busy with promotion.
I had some poems accepted for publication, which was fabulous as I have been unable to submit much since March and there have been lots of rejections stacking up the inbox! I have had all three of my poems accepted for a project which will entail an anthology both hardcopy and digital. I had some of my manuscript poems accepted by an anthology too and have managed to get some work into the Mindful Poetry Anthology (USA) for the second year running.
Now we are in June and I have been working full time and trying to balance the rest of life on plates with small circumferences. I have to get back to the desk at some point, but I am not quite there yet.
I am very much still working and writing but also whirling and spinning through each day!
Whilst the war on Ukraine rages, it is hard for us to feel okay about posting other things. In times of crisis artists do what they can in the way they do. I can donate, I can help, I can promote others doing the same.
Art itself can help raise spirits, many of you will have seen the footage of the brave young singer in the basement or the man playing Imagine for the refugees crossing the border.
Musician Davide Martello, 40, lives in Konstanz, southern Germany.
There will be many local fundraisers for you to get involved with. Here are some coming up in my region and beyond.
Fundraiser In Ledbury For Ukraine
Saturday 19th March, 10.30am – 10pm,
The Poetry House, The Barrett Browning Institute, Ledbury HR8 2AA.
There will be: Drop-in Art Workshops with artist Jeanette McCulloch10.30am – 12.30pm Make a beautiful Ukraine inspired folk art greeting card Poetry Clinic 11am – 5pm Receive individual feedback from poet Lesley Ingram. Minimum donation £20 for 20 minutes. Open Mic 2pm – 5pm Read a poem by a Ukrainian poet. Or any poem of your choice. Drop-in. All welcome. Poets and Musicians for Ukraine! 6pm – 10pm Live performances from Elvis McGonagall, Connie Gordon, Jonny Fluffypunk, Mark Stevenson, Amy Rainbow, Nick Trigg, Sara-Jane Arbury, John Rose and Steve Rooney. Minimum donation £10.
Unlike last year I am not trying to bed down for the entire festival… but here are some bitesize clips from some of my festival experience.
Documenting the Past: Neema Shah (Kololo Hill) in conversation with Catherine Menon
Here is an author who proves you CAN come to writing after/during a career, you can write if you haven’t chosen an academic route into it, you can write a book and still work full time (many authors prove this) and you can get a book published (via Agent) within 5 years! Not only that but this first novel was also shortlisted for several prizes.
It was a fascinating conversation both in terms of the book itself and the writing process.
‘[An] incredible debut’ Stylist ‘Shah is excellent on the theme of home . . . an absorbing storyteller’ Daily Mail
***ONE OF TELEGRAPH’S BEST NOVELS OF 2021***
‘Supple, artful, skilful storytelling – it takes an immediate grip on the reader’s imagination and doesn’t let go’ HILARY MANTEL
The Scene of the Crime: William Shaw, Rebecca Wait and Nina Allan
This panel was a great discussion between several crime writers looking at how their work addresses similar themes and how it is approached differently. I enjoyed the discussion over various planning (or not) approaches, hearing about research and how their novels developed.
The brilliant third book in the DS Alexandra Cupidi investigations.
‘If you’re not a fan yet, why not?’ VAL MCDERMID
‘A superb storyteller’ PETER MAY
With meticulously realised characters and a brooding setting, Grave’s End confronts the crisis in housing, environmentalism, historic cases of abuse and the protection given to badgers by the law.
A gripping, tender novel about fathers and sons from the highly acclaimed author A Guardian crime and thriller book of the year 2020
‘This is a beautifully realised novel, touching on the fallibility of memory and the unknowability of families, and gripping in its intensity. Outstanding’ Mail on Sunday ‘ A spectacular novel’ Spectator
THE BEWITCHING NEW NOVEL FROM THE AWARD-WINNING GUARDIAN FRESH VOICES AUTHOR
‘A fantastic book’ Andrew O’Hagan ‘Wholly original – worthy of a modern Grimm’ Andrew Caldecott, author of Rotherweird ‘A masterful and multi-layered haunted toyshop of a novel’ Tony White, author of The Fountain in the Forest
Are You a Leaf or a Tree?
This was an intriguing title for a workshop, that was enough for me to sign up! Amanda White will be known to many of you as the founder of THE DAILY HAIKU, a group which now has over 5800 members. This was a fun creative writing workshop and not only did I produce two haiku but I found lots of surprises writing themselves into my notebook too.
Turns out I’m a leaf from a Canadian Red Maple tree, who knew!
Amanda also posts daily writing prompts on the festival’s INSTAGRAM.
Hidden Gems from Novel Research
One aspect I love about writing is research. One thing I love about Literary Festivals (and the list of loves is long), is discovering new-to-me authors but equally exciting is finding one you admire or have read on the bill! To hear they’re writing a sequel?! How much could my heart take! I was super excited even before this panel started.
I was enthralled by: Kerry Postle’s insight into what is hidden, the historical information Ali Bacon provided us on early photography and the woman behind it all, Heather Child’s delve into Quantum physics and Jean Burnett’s exploration of quirky historical facts.
The programme suggested we would be sure to learn something new and I certainly did – about 4 pages worth. This was a fun session where each Bristol novelist offered us three gems from their research.
In the Blink of an Eyeis a reimagining of the life of the Scottish painter David Octavius Hill from the moment of his encounter with Robert Adamson, a pioneer in the use of calotypes – pictures made by the light of the sun – until the day when his great Disruption Painting is unveiled.
‘Brilliantly twisty, thought-provoking stuff – such enjoyable reading’ Jenny Colgan
‘A moving time-slip romance . . . The Undoing of Arlo Knott is a triumph’ Guardian
Inspired by a heartbreaking true story, this stunning and evocative novel is perfect for fans of The Sapphire Widow , Beneath a Burning Sky and The Emerald Affair .
I would have loved the workshop with Jen Hadfield, but I had another workshop to attend. I did manage to hotfoot it across to S@HLF in time to see Rachel Bower and Jay Whittaker. Rachel’s readings at last year’s S@HLF were amazing and I was looking forward to hearing more.
Two Poets: Rachel Bower and Jay Whittaker
A great event where we were not only gifted with readings from these two talented poets but also a generous and wonderful Q&A.
Rachel Bower is an award-winning writer based in Sheffield. She is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018) and a non-fiction book on literary letters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Her poems and stories have been widely published, including in Anthropocene, The London Magazine, Magma, New Welsh Reader and Stand. Rachel won The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2019/20 and the W&A Short Story Competition. She edited the Verse Matters anthology (Valley Press, 2017) with Helen Mort and she is currently editing an anthology with Simon Armitage (Faber & Faber). Her new poetry collection, These Mothers of Gods, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in July 2021.
Jay Whittaker is an Edinburgh-based poet. Her second poetry collection, Sweet Anaesthetist, was published by Cinnamon Press in September 2020. Her debut collection, Wristwatch, was Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2018 in the Saltire Society Literary Awards. Both Jay’s books are accessible poetry collections on the themes of resilience, grief, living with cancer, family secrets, and LGBT+ lives (including her own). She prioritised her writing after her personal annus horribilis, during which her civil partner died and she started cancer treatment. Her poems are included in the 404 Ink anthology We were always here: a queer words anthology and in the new Bloodaxe anthology, Staying Human.
This S@HLF Jpeg says it all…
Wednesday was so busy I had to rewrite my schedule on a large post it (the almost A5 ones) and cover over the scribble on my diary page. It meant that this wondrous reading was the only part of the S@HLF I managed to get to. It was a great programme of events I missed out on but it brings me joy to know thousands of others didn’t!
Back in May I was fortunate enough to attend Katy Wareham Morris’s Book Launch for her debut collection ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’. The collection is published by experimental, Bristol-based publisher, Hesterglock.
Katy is a writer and lecturer in Media and Culture, based in the West Midlands, UK. She has a particular interest in gender and queer studies, identity politics and digital humanities. Her debut pamphlet was a poetry duet entitled, Inheritance published by Mother’s Milk Books and was launched at Ledbury Poetry Festival (2017). It went on to win ‘Best Collaborative Work’ at this year’s Saboteur Awards.
Her poems have also featured in the webzines I am not a silent poet and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Katy is also the Birmingham, UK Branch Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, of which she was a founding member.
Hesterglock specifically asked for feminist poetry in the submission call and Katy gave them that and more. Here is what she says about the ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’.
This collection is a collage of womxn’s voices, attempting to call time on the ‘female’ identities attributed to women by patriarchal culture. The poetry is personal, political and provocative.