The end of this year marks 4 years as a writer. I still have 10 months to go before I make 4 years as a poet. I originally planned everything from Olympic inspiration, meaning this time next year (or next October) will be my true review.
This post feels slightly egocentric – the initial purpose for this blog was to share such news. It has always given me pleasure to discover what steps poets took to get where they are today and this information – the scaffold of their career is not something widely shared. A glimpse behind the scenes is encouraging for want to be/would be/ emerging writers, so please forgive the ‘I, I, I’ of this 2017 Highlights post.
I can already safely say that I have been blessed with an amazing year. Here are my 2017 highlights.
Collaboration: At the end of 2016 Claire Walker and I met to discuss collaborating. We have both had exceptionally busy years and lots of new opportunities, but we started well by submitting and being published in the collaboration issue of Zoomoozophone Review Magazine.
New Learning – Events Management: I organised events for Literature/Arts Festivals this year. I organised a Poetry Collective for Stourbridge Literature Festival – David Calcutt, Kathy Gee, myself and Claire Walker.
I sent an application to Worcester LitFest for a collaborative Poetry Show with fellow V. Press Poets Kathy Gee and Claire Walker.
Performances: Baldy Poems Presents Kings and Queens of Comedy in association with the Worcester LitFest & Fringe.
Wolverhampton Literature Festival – Quiet Compere with Sarah Dixon.
Festivals: attending a new festival in Birmingham – Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival, 4 days of total immersion, some fabulous workshops with Kim Moore and Sarah Howe and a Festival Review published on Sabotage Reviews.
Events Management: I began organising the poetry elements for ArtsFest in Droitwich for the DAN team.
Opportunities: I applied for WWM Room 204.
Published: 3 of my poems were published in Nuclear Impact – Broken Atoms in Our Hands – Shabda Press, this labour of love started in 2015. It is a massive anthology and contains 4 poets from the U.K.
Fragile Houses: received two incredible reviews from Rachel Stirling & Sam Smith.
Opportunities: I got into Room 204 (but was embargoed until April, one of the hardest secrets to keep)! This writer development scheme can be life changing for many writers. For those already embedded in the writing world it is a chance to gain further knowledge, experience and guidance/support.
I was asked to promote Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
Festivals: my poems made it to Scotland, they appeared on the High Street for the BIG Lit Festival Stewartry, Scotland.
WLF (Worcester LitFest) my bid for the Poetry Show was accepted.
Applied for Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18
Performance: Manchester Headline Quiet, Quiet Loud with Mark Pajak and Becky Cherriman.
Challenges: I successfully completed NaPoWriMo, using three different prompts – resulting in 99 poems!
Festivals: Stourbridge Literature Festival Voices From The Middle, an event I organised.
Performances: Poetry Ballroom with Suz Winspear & DanceFest.
Endorsement: I was asked to endorse a new poetry collection, this is the 2nd book I have written an endorsement for.
Promotions: Promoted Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders.
Events & Reunions: I started the Performance Poetry/Spoken Word scene whilst at uni in Leicester, where I met Rob Gee. In those early days I did some PR for him and watched him become a mega star. Fast forward 15 years and I saw he was doing Cheltenham Literature Festival. Fast forward a few more years and here I am back in the Poetry World and who should be bringing his Forget Me Not Tour to the MAC! We hadn’t seen each other for nearly 2 decades and it felt like we had been together just the day before. Incredible show, A M A Z I N G reunion! One of my very definite highlights of 2017!
Following my 2nd John Hegley Workshop (Cheltenham Poetry Festival), we wandered into town for an impromptu performance in Waterstones (we did not make it in time for the end of the Open Mic there – but we created our own stage). The looks on people’s faces, especially the kids, when John started his performance was special. This was also my 2nd opportunity to have a real conversation with Mr. H. Such a lovely man. Supportive, genuine and interested.
Book Launches: Book Launch of C.S Barnes, for ‘The Women You Were Warned About’, the first book I was asked to endorse, on the back cover with Luke Kennard. An incredibly dark and fascinating book of monologues/short stories. A really interesting concept and a great read!
Room 204: I started working on the Adam Speaks Croome Court Project with Chris Alton (Lead Artist) & 10 writers from Room 204.
Completed a Screen Writing Course with UEA (University of East Anglia).
WLF: I became a finalist for the WLF Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition.
June – Here comes the BIG ONE!
WLF: I became the 7th Worcestershire Poet Laureate.
Festivals – Worcester LitFest: Performed 30-40-60, our collaborative Poetry Show with Kathy Gee & Claire Walker.
WPL: Appeared as WPL at many of the festival events.
Organised my first event as WPL at the Chateau Impney as part of Salt King 200 Celebrations. A performance from local poets.
Organised a Poetry Anthology/ Collection to mark World Refugee Day. A 48 hour turn around project.
Room 204: Attended the National Writers’ Conference – organised by WWM, the last time I went was back in 2014.
WPL: Started my regular Radio Slot with Tammy Gooding for BBC Hereford & Worcester.
Had my official WPL T-shirt!
Worked on a European/Twinned Town Poetry Project.
Created Contour the WPL Digital Magazine, submissions opened for poems on Place/Worcestershire.
Festivals: Ledbury Poetry Festival
Evesham Festival of Words
Droitwich ArtsFest – Day of Poetry, where I organised & performed in 2 events.
Artsfest Poet in Residence at Droitwich Library.
Opportunities: Was asked to apply for Reader in Residence position with WMRN.
Workshop: with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura, finally got to meet these two!
Performances: Commissioned performance for Buildings Talk – Hospital Histories.
Room 204: Adam Speaks Croome Court Project Creative Session/Workshop with Chris Alton.
WPL: Planned a Transatlantic Poetry Project (initiated in July).
Planned a Sculpture Trail Workshop at The Jinney Ring.
Organised a poetry event to celebrate Salt Day at the Salt Festival.
Festivals: Performed at LakeFest.
Salt Festival Poetry Event.
Worcester Festival – Performed at Ben Parker’s Event at Huntingdon Hall.
Booked for Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2018.
WMRN: Appointed as Reader in Residence at Rugby Library 2017/18
WPL: Sculpture Trail Workshop (the 1st workshop I have facilitated for over 12 years).
Realised I am the youngest WPL!
First talk as a Poet – Evesham Festival of Words Second Friday Stories organised by Sue Johnson.
WPL Commission: was asked to write 3 poems for the Unremembered of WW1 Anthology.
Commission: Was approached by Liz Johnson to write and perform poetry for Credo.
Festivals: Salt Festival
Birmingham Literature Festival
Performances: Performed at Free Verse, London’s Poetry Book Fair, V. Press.
Room 204: Performed as part of Birmingham Literature Festival Literary Allsorts.
WPL: Contour WPL Digital Poetry Magazine Issue 1 released.
Worked on the Hanbury Hall Poets Project Ekphrastic poetry with DAN Exhibition.
Created Mental Health Anthology for World Mental Health Awareness Day.
Created a Halloween Poetry Film.
Children’s Workshop Halloween Event LITtleFest WLF.
WPL Commission: Asked by Peter Sutton to write and perform at his Elgar Poetry Event, a fundraiser for the Elgar Festival 2018 at the Elgar School of Music.
Festivals: Poetry Swindon – Performed V. Formation.
Birmingham Literature Festival.
Workshops: As part of Poetry Swindon Festival with Daljit Nagra and Rishi Dastidar.
Room 204: Adam Speaks Tree House poem accepted.
Applied for Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2018.
and of course INKSPILL – our online writing retreat right here on AWF and I started submitting poetry again.
WPL: Hanbury Hall Poetry & Art Event. (Last physical PL event of the year.)
Having my poem displayed by my artist (Stephen Evans) in his Malthouse Exhibition.
Talk – Worcester University, Creative Writing Society.
Talk – U3A Worcester.
Compiled International Remembrance Anthology – the largest number of submissions yet.
Organised school workshops and community workshops with The Basement Project.
Festivals: Asked to be a Guest Poet at an International Festival 2018.
V.I.P Verve Festival Launch Party.
Performances: Elgar Poetry Event.
WMRN: Writing A Book Review Workshop.
Room 204: Adam Speaks Launch & poems in exhibition.
Booked for Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2018.
Fragile Houses: SOLD OUT in just over 12 months, a 2nd print run was published.
V. Press were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award. ‘The pamphlets that V. Press had in for this year are: Alex Reed’s A Career in Accompaniment, Nina Lewis’ Fragile Houses, David Clarke’s Scare Stories and Stephen Daniels’ Tell Mistakes I Love Them.’
WPL: Contour Issue 2 opened to submissions.
Radio: Brum Radio Interview/Guest.
Haiku Slam: 2nd place, Grizzly Pear.
Opportunities: Asked to endorse a poetry collection, my 3rd endorsement. I am honoured.
It has been a great year. 2018 is starting in ‘busy’ so I indulged in a wonderful fortnight off with friends & family over Christmas & New Year to finish the year on a high!
Happy New Year!
Here’s to 2018 – may it be your best year yet!