Just home from a great night at The Blue Boar in Ludlow where Deb Alma Launched her first collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ published by Nine Arches Press.
This event was part of the Ludlow Fringe Festival.
Deb invited Guest Poets to perform: I read alongside Angela Topping, Roz Munro Derry, Holly Magill and Ruth Stacey.
I had not seen Angela since she launched Hearth (Mother’s Milk Books pamphlet written with Sarah James), it was lovely to catch up and also hear her read. I was particularly in awe of her final poem. Holly and Ruth both treated us to powerful new poetry, Holly’s debut pamphlet The Becoming of Lady Flambé is published by IDP. It was lovely to meet Roz, full kudos for her being brave enough to finish her wonderful set with her Me Too themed poem, written after Deb had created the anthology published by Fair Acre Press.
Deb Alma then took the stage after a great introduction from Jim Sheard. I thoroughly enjoyed the Launch in Birmingham and Deb’s reading here on (old) home soil was perfect too. Her set was a brilliant mix of all that Dirty Laundry offers and I admire her ability to perform some of the material in front of her family. It has been splendid watching Deb take off beyond her ever-amazing Emergency Poet work.
Deborah Alma’s debut poetry collection Dirty Laundry is raucous, daring and honest, drawing contemporary women’s lives and those of our foremothers into the spotlight. It voices bold, feminist songs of praise: of persistence, survival, adventures of sexual rediscovery, each reclaiming the space to speak its mind and be heard and seen. A perfect remedy for the heartsick and weary, Alma’s intimate and particular poems are resolute enchantments, a form of robust magic.
After an interval I was part of the #MeToo Anthology experience. These compelling performances have been occurring up and down the UK, at Festivals and Poetry Events. This book (sadly) is a necessary collection full of sincere and authentic poetry. This collection rallies against sexual assault and harassment.
The Guest Poets joined Deb in reading their own and other’s poems from the anthology before a group performance of Pippa Little’s Spartaca. A moving end to an amazing evening.
#MeToo Anthology was a Saboteur Award Winner earlier this year. All profits go to Women’s Aid and Refuges & domestic and sexual violence services can apply for a 50% discount on the cover price.
“…Something was released and given a space within social media. It was easy to add our voice to the rising shout of #MeToo. We felt the sisterhood. Many women felt emboldened by this to share more difficult stories, more details; the lid has come off this box and now cannot be forced back on. I’m a poet, and an editor, and someone suggested we collect these stories somehow and it was obvious to collect them as poems. It was what I could do. I am very proud of this book, proud of the poets for sharing their stories and for putting their names to their words…These poems are painful, angry, often difficult to bear, but the result of these voices singing together is one that is beautiful, full of sisterhood, strength, and recovery…” (Deborah Alma, Editor)
My own poem ‘Ripped’ was shortlisted. Many of the shortlisted poems appear on Vik Bennett’s Wild Women #Us together.
voices from the #MeToo movement
In collaboration with the creators of the anthology, Wild Women Press have created an online platform for some of the additional submissions sent in response to the #MeToo call for poems. This platform is a place to celebrate the courage of the women who have shared their poems — voices that join together across counties and countries, in strength and sisterhood. #MeToo #UsTogether #NoMore
I long for a year where I can book time off work to do Ledbury properly but until I get a little more change in my pockets my approach is: spend time with the Programme, highlight everything of interest, check against diary schedule, re-check total cost, rethink the parts I really wouldn’t want to miss, check schedule again and invariably decide I can only manage 1 day – find the day with the maximum bounty and go!
This year, I kept up to date with events via Social Media and managed the last day. Last days at Poetry Festivals are full of tired people with passion in their hearts, glowing as brightly as it did on Day 1 and the celebratory atmosphere is impossible to miss.
I set out early and for the first time used the motorway networks (discovered this is a much quicker way of getting there)! I had my programme and itinerary scribbled out. My first stop was a new venue, Muse Cafe and what a gem, strong coffee and a tasty breakfast to boot. The breakfast filled me up all day, I had taken a picnic, not that it was needed as the streets were filled with Food Markets and plenty of choice. The smell was delicious.
Coffee Morning with Malika’s Kitchen – Fantastic Beasts
Malika’s Kitchen is an influential collective of London writers who performed at the Festival on the 8th July. Fantastic Beasts was the theme of this year’s festival. This was a relaxed open mic event hosted by Jill Abram.
I was still up at 1 A.M writing a poem for this event and as I sat there in glorious sunshine listening to a string of fascinating poems I realised that I have plenty of poems to suit the theme, several Mermaid (who hasn’t), one about Udine, The Frog Prince – I could go on. Unfortunately I did not have them with me, having only packed the one freshly inked piece.
There was a pleasant mix of poetry from an anthology Peter Raynard provided as well. I love this idea, some writers never share their poetry publicly and there are a small percentage of poetry lovers who read it and never write it. Having a dip into book enables these people to take part. Jill encouraged people to use it. I enjoyed hearing Ted Hughes and Emily Dickinson amongst others.
Jack is a PHD student who grew up in this rural area. He won the Charles Causeley Prize 2016 (the year after Jo Bell) and completed an incredible set in the Master’s House. I thoroughly enjoyed his reading and his teaching. The link between plough – to plough and verse.
I then had a break – but Ledbury is a festival of poets and by the time I had walked a few metres I bumped into 7 people I knew. I also got to watch some of the events on the High Street – marking the 400th anniversary of the Market House and 21 years of Ledbury.
I got to see Samba Galez you could hear them from the Malika’s Kitchen event!
Before the next event I bumped into Antony & Jo Owen, which meant that I had company at The Master’s House for
20 minutes with Ellie Daghlian, Mel Pettitt, Catherine Choate.
Impressive undergraduate poetry from Bristol University Poetry Centre. It is always refreshing to hear from young voices with old heads and Mel Pettitte’s performance was particularly enthralling.
I then spent some time timing my walk between venues as I had a 10 minute gap between events later on. I caught some of Nick Lovell’s set in the High Street – Ledbury Slam Champion and caught up with Catherine Crosswell.
Book Art 17
Before heading off to the exhibitions at Weaver’s Gallery. I was particularly interested in Book Art 17 and hope that Helen Ivory managed to glimpse this when her and Martin made it to Ledbury on Friday. I wish I could have spent more time there immersing myself in this stunning work.
I also popped into ‘Fantasy’ the textile art exhibition upstairs in the Gallery. There were some striking pieces adorning the walls and as someone who struggles to sew a hemline, I am in awe of the craftsmanship involved in such endeavours.
It was a particularly hot day in Ledbury and by the time I reached the Market Theatre I looked as if I could make use of a shower for sure!
Jill Abram has been successfully running Stablemates in London for some time and one day I WILL get there to see it! But when I discovered they were coming to Ledbury this was a factor in making the decision on Sunday being the best day.
It has been great reading all of Jill’s updates from Ledbury and she has certainly been busy!
I bumped into poets in the Foyer, so another event I wasn’t on my own for.
Stablemates Poetry Salon Peepal Tree Press with Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha and Seni Seneviratne.
An incredible hour of poetry from new to me poets.
Roger Robinson, a dub-poet and founder of Malika’s Kitchen. His poetry empowers common man and he tackles extremely real subject matter. I enjoyed his set and the new work he is currently involved with.
Seni Seneviratne performed in the morning at Muse Cafe. Her work is carefully considered and doesn’t step gently around delicate issues of race and identity but rather spears straight into the heart of the matter.
Nick Makoha is the Director of the Youth Poetry Network. Again a poet tackling hard subjects and inviting us to make better in the world.
It was insightful to have the Q&A with Jill and each poet before they performed. Love the format!
I thoroughly enjoyed my initiation to Stablemates but unfortunately the timings ran over (due to the heat of the venue) and I couldn’t make it to the main event I had planned to attend. I had no idea what the time was. It had already started before Stablemates finished & by the time I made it between venues, was halfway through!
20 Minutes with Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris
The launch of Inheritance the new collaborative pamphlet from Ruth Stacey & Katy Wareham Morris – Mother Milk Books. One of the main reasons I had chosen this day to go to Ledbury.
I attempted to listen from the window, (which those of you who know my navigational skills/ lack there of… can now amuse yourselves by imagining me clambering around the outside of the Master’s House trying to find the right window)! There was too much ambient noise. Next, (like Goldilocks), I tried the door, which was too thick to hear through, the wall was a little better.
I understand the policy not to let late comers enter, it is disruptive for the readers who perform right next to the door. But in the previous 20 Minutes with… events I went to people attempted to creep in (with the big old door and straight across a poem), I was upset that I couldn’t do the same. Especially as I had been to a previous event and that was the reason I wasn’t seated in time.
I managed to get in at the end of the set and buy a copy of the book. Apologise and attempt to explain. I was saddened by this part of my day. I hope to catch other readings, I know they appear at Waterstones later this year and I have an idea in the melting pot too.
Fortunately Suz Winspear (former Worcestershire Poet Laureate) was performing on the High Street with DanceFest and once I realised there was no getting into the Launch I went and caught a moment or two amongst the crowds outside. My own fault perhaps for trying to be everywhere all at once!
I practically ran back to the Market Theatre for my final show of the day, which I not only made in time, but found the Stablemates were still in the foyer – so I got to chat to them briefly and tell them how touched I was by their performances and ideas.
Versopolis: A Celebration of Emerging European Poets
I had heard of this amazing project, 2 years ago, in the first year it ran. The project i a platform that unites 13 International festivals.
I enjoy listening to translated poetry and poems written/read in a different language. This was an enjoyable show in which sometimes the poetry was translated, at other times it was read in the poet’s mother tongue or in English by the poet.
A warm eclectic range of voices and subjects and wonderful to watch Helen Mort in action and discover the writing of Nikolina Andova and Charlotte Van den Broeck, who blew the audience away with the poem about her and her mother. It was good to meet her afterwards – she seemed so unaware of what had happened the other side of the stage. I also got to hear more from Kayo Chingonyi, who I met at Verve Festival in February.
The whole show was amazing and I willed it not to finish. I could have happily sat through another round of words from this group. The poets were Tiziano Fratus (Italy), Charlotte Van den Broeck (Belgium), Nikolina Andova (Macedonia), Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), Yekta (France) and the UK counterparts, Kayo Chingonyi and Helen Mort.
I wanted to stay for Enemies but at this time was still working against poetry deadlines and other writing tasks, which I knew I had to face once home and I was booked for work on Monday. So I missed this show and just read the fabulous reviews. I have since managed to find many of the performances on You Tube. So not all was lost.
It was late by the time I made it home and my writing work kept me at my desk until 1 A.M – which was only possible on post-Ledbury adrenaline!
I have had a great week of poetry. It isn’t often (anymore) that I go to events back to back, but this week there was a run of three events, none of which I wanted to miss. They were all headlined by poets I know, whose work I know. (Warning: Some Fangirl moments may be included.)
The week kicked off with Poetry Alight, a night hosted by Gary Longden in Lichfield. We celebrated 5 years of PA and were treated to the room behind the main bar where the atmosphere was definitely set to ‘party’. Complete with handmade bunting and delicious interval cakes, this night was roaring. It was great to see poetry friends, some I haven’t seen for a while and those I saw a few weeks ago.
The open mic spots were wonderful. Steve Pottinger and Emma Purshouse treated us with floor spots. I was really looking forward to the headliners – Ruth Stacey and Ash Dickinson. It has been too long since I watched Ruth perform. Her set was amazing. Gary splits the headliners, so we get to hear them before the interval and at the end of the evening. Ash treated us to a mixed set from Slinky and Keys and threw in some new poems too.
I love watching the audience react to poets I know, who are new to them. I love hearing poets perform their words, words that I have on my bookshelf that they breathe ultimate life into. This is where the ‘power’ of poetry begins. The fusion of ideas stirred by the vocal chords that conceived them.
Ruth performed some of her Foxboy poems. This was her debut pamphlet published by Dancing Girl Press and is one close to her heart. Based on real people and real issues faced. It is deeply moving and resonate, even though I have never suffered from issues or opinions of ethnicity I key into the emotions in place in this collection. The wandering and the wilderness. I am glad Gary Longden requested her Bear poem too.
It was lovely catching up with Ruth and hearing all about what she is currently busy with. There are some people I really miss seeing regularly and Ruth is one of them.
Ash was brilliant too. He has very recently performed in Derby, Burton and Stourbridge so he was endeavouring to deliver a set without repeated material. He had a set list that after his first half he had hardly touched, this relaxed approach (I blame the bunting), worked because we got to hear poems he may not have performed otherwise. I fell in love with his Camden notebook, a work of middle earth art itself. It was a delight to hear some newly penned poems as well as gems from his collections. I want posters* of his Coffee poem, ‘If I Miss A Coffee’ and Fridge poem, ‘Chiller Queen’ and I love ‘Method Poet’ particularly as I trained as a method actor.
*And I don’t even have posters anymore!
“She never loved me more than when I was a flower.”
Ash Dickinson is a writer, poet and comedy performer.
A multiple slam champion- including Edinburgh and Cheltenham- Ash won the BBC Radio 4 Midlands Slam in 2009. In the previous BBC National Slam in 2007 he progressed through the Scottish heats, eventually finishing among the top 8 in the UK. Ash was runner-up in the 2011 UK All Stars Slam. In the summer of 2011 Ash embarked on a six-date feature tour of Canada, a country where he also performed in 2006 (including the Winnipeg Fringe Festival). He has performed in Australia, the United States and New Zealand where he was invited to perform at the 2002 New Zealand Festival. In 2012, Ash was flown out to both Spain and Jordan for literature events, and in 2013 he headlined a show in Berlin, Germany. In 2016 he was flown out to Prague, Czech Republic to run workshops.
Ash had a four-star rated one-man show at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the following year formed part of Scotland’s renowned Big Word during its run there. He has appeared at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Glasgow Comedy Festival, the Bristol Poetry Festival, The Larmer Tree, In The Woods, The Wickerman, the Stratford Poetry Festival and The Camden Crawl among many others. He has headlined shows throughout the UK and performed at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s (London), the Colston Hall (Bristol), Oran Mor (Glasgow), Jupiter Artland (West Lothian), Stowe House (Bucks) and The Jazz Cafe (London). He has shared bills with many national and international poets as well as comedians such as Frankie Boyle, Miles Jupp and Andy Parsons.
Ash has been widely published in newspapers, magazines and poetry presses. He has compered busy cabarets and music nights, performed at private and corporate functions and supported bands. He is in heavy demand to run poetry workshops. His media appearances include BBC Radio, The Times, The Scotsman, The Guardian, Metro and Sweet TV. Ash’s debut collection, “Slinky Espadrilles”, was published in 2012 by Burning Eye Books. His follow-up, “Strange Keys”, was released in April 2016.
Ruth Stacey is a writer, artist, and lecturer. Her debut collection, “Queen, Jewel, Mistress”, was published by Eyewear July, 2015. Her pamphlet, Fox Boy, was published by Dancing Girl Press, June 2014. She designs the covers for V Press poetry pamphlets and was part of the Vaginellas; a collective of female poets re-imagining classic forms of poetry.
Carolyn Jess-Cooke wrote of her debut collection thus : “The significance of this book (Queen, Jewel, Mistress) as a work of art, however, is in its reclamation of history from the female perspective. That the poems themselves are brilliant, almost all of them adroitly executed, makes me want to stand up and give the book a round of applause. There is mastery here, boldness, and a lively assertion of what poetry can give to the historical imagination. This is a book that deserves widespread acclaim.”
It was a fantastic night and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I liked being described as a poet on the great conveyor belt of Worcestershire’s talented poets and the whole event inspired me to get scribbling new material. The cakes were gorgeous and to top off the wonderfulness that was Tuesday evening, Ash bought a copy of Fragile Houses. Beam.
As I am so far behind with the blog, with over 3 weeks worth of activities to post about I have decided to bulk post about poetry events this month.
Spoken Word at The Ort with Debbie Aldous – Birmingham 4th
I was delighted to make it back to this event as the last few have clashed with other things. There was a pop up return of Naked Lungs in the city the same evening over in Digbeth and my original plan was to try to get to both. The days of dual gigs are behind me I think, especially at the end of a busy week. I was still recovering from John Hegley and my night in Shropshire.
It was a great evening packed with fabulous performances and new audience and open mic-ers too! Thoroughly enjoyed sharing poetry.
Mouth & Music – Heart, with Heather Wastie – Kidderminster 8th
Headlining this month were Sarah James & Angela Topping, reading from their pamphlet Hearth and Elena Thomas with Dan Whitehouse.
It was a lovely evening of words and music, some great open mic-ers, I especially enjoyed Jan performing with her husband, they were the opening act and got the night off to a great start.
I usually find that writing to theme takes place a few days before the event, this month though because of the KAF special – Slightly Circus M & M event there were only a few weeks between the events. This was fine as with a theme like ‘Heart’ I was able to find an abundant amount of poems I had already written. The tough part was choosing which made the cut for my set.
I am glad that Sarah and Angela were mindful that a small percentage of the audience had seen them in Worcester and they chose different poems to read. It was a smashing performance.
Here’s what Heather Wastie had to say about the event;
September’s Mouth and Music was as pleasing to organise is it always is. Towards the end of the evening, Dave Sutherland sang a song he had composed using lyrics I wrote after hearing Elena Thomas (one of our features) sing her own songs at the launch of her art exhibition. Sorry for the slightly convoluted sentence but “Carrying the evening home”, the title of the song, refers to what we take away in our heads, and bodies, after an event. Last night, not only did I take away… Elena’s beautiful songs and Dan Whitehouse’s gently intricate guitar accompaniment; I also took away the fact that someone from the pub, who I suspect wouldn’t normally go to an event like ours, came in and listened to Elena because she found it provocative that Elena was singing about “the life of a middle-aged woman”. I love Sarah James and Angela Topping’s pamphlet of poetry duets, Hearth, and their reading stirred my own memories of home and family.
The main thing I took away was a feeling of connectedness. I was delighted to see a harmonium on the stage when Jan, a regular and popular performer, was joined by her husband to enhance her poems with musical backing. I enjoyed being teased by Mike Alma’s poem in response to mine about the gherkin which I wrote after seeing one on Angela Topping’s plate! In complete contrast, Mouth and Music’s own Sarah Tamar made a powerful connection with the plight of refugees and Tim Cranmore covered both ends of the … er … spectrum with 2 poems which were uncomfortable to hear, for different reasons: “Inappropriate physical contact” was very thought-provoking, and his final poem ….. ask someone who was there if you want to know.
So many connections were made last night, thanks to featured artists, open mic performers, audience and the lovely staff at the Boars Head. Elena commented on Facebook today, “It’s a special place, Mouth and Music”. I take that as a huge compliment and look forward to seeing some of you on 13th October for some new connections!
Next month Birmingham Poet Leon Priestnall takes centre stage, this month he headlined Hit The Ode and stormed it!
The month after Swingerella takes the Headline spot.
Speakeasy, with Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal – Worcester 10th
I have not been able to go to SpeakEasy since the Lit Fest and I was delighted to be back and to be able to take a 6 minute slot too. It was great performing poetry back in the glorious comfort of the Rectifying House. Despite not winning the raffle, I appreciated the new lamp, allowing more light to the page and it was great seeing it busy and catching up with poets I hadn’t seen for ages.
Ruth Stacey was headlining, reading from her latest book, ‘Queen, Jewel, Mistress’. I love the passion she has for this historical collection and that love came across in her set, full of enthusiasm and feeling. A very strong performance indeed.
It was a superb evening of poetry and pleasure. FUN!
I made it to Ledbury Poetry Festival this year for Poetry and Cider with Ruth Stacey, Lesley Ingram and Sarah James
From the brochure;
Three poets based in the West Midlands celebrate the launch their new collections. Ruth Stacey’s Queen, Jewel, Mistress gives voice to every English/British queen from Anglo-Saxon times to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Lesley Ingram’s Scumbled is ‘A haunting collection (which) explores the brackishness of human relations, the kinship we crave with the non-human, and our desire to trade flesh for something less encumbering’ (Damian Walford-Davies). Sarah James’s The Magnetic Diaries takes the form of a narrative in poems, loosely based on the characters and storyline of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Sarah James also has a collection plenty-fish with Nine Arches Press.
It was a wonderful evening in Burgage Hall, which was packed out with poets supporting these three great women. A great atmosphere and touching readings. What was particularly special was the gratitude Ruth showed Ledbury Festival, over the years she has gained lots from being involved in the programme and appreciated the input from workshops and coaching she has had, as well as previous opportunities to perform at the Festival. It is lovely and authentic when poets take a moment to acknowledge and thank people, for what they have done and how they have influenced and helped.
There is no greater feeling for the poet than to know you are supported and mentoring and guides are priceless treasures.
The event was a great success, it was lovely to hear Lesley perform her poetry and Sarah James too. I enjoyed sharing the moment with Ruth Stacey and her glee was mesmerising and contagious! I don’t think I have ever seen her look so happy. A magical night in Ledbury.
You can buy your own copy of this great collection from the following places;
I was delighted in February when Sarah James asked if I would read at the book launch of her 3rd collection, The Magnetic Diaries, published by KFS Knife Fork and Spoons Press.
I read alongside Maggie Doyle, Ruth Stacey, Jenny Hope, her daughter Lissy Hope and Fergus McGonigal (Worcester Poet Laureate), it was also a DAN (Arts Network) evening out. An enjoyable time was had by all at Park’s Café, Droitwich.
It was interesting to see how a collective of poets interpreted the theme ‘timely poetry’ too.
I arrived after being in the city with WWM writers group and it was a great day in my poetry skin. I met most of the local poets at a Book Launch for ‘Be[yond]’ in September 2013 and have not looked back since, this launch felt like a full circle of some kind.
It was good to hear Sarah talk about the background of the book and read selected poems from the collection. I loved the way she chose to do this. Quotations written on paper were selected by the audience (like a raffle) and then found in the book and read. It was a creative way and brave way to perform.
Here are some photographs of the evening.
and Sarah James
I realise this is not a very detailed review of the event, I have added related links – I urge you to check them out, local newspaper articles and Sarah’s own blog reveal more about the background of this new collection.
Sarah James is extremely busy at the moment, she has a collaborative collection published with Angela Topping, ‘Hearth’ Published by Mother’s Milk Books. You can catch them at the Cheltenham Festival this weekend or SpeakEasy next month, 12th May where they are headlining.
Sunday, April 26 – Hearth, the collaborative pamphlet between Sarah James and Angela Topping, will be launched at Cheltenham Poetry Festival in a Mother’s Milk Books reading and panel Q and A on collaboration on Sunday, April 26, from 11am-12pm in the Playhouse Theatre Lounge.
I am aware that I haven’t been present on the blog this month – I have been very busy out in reality and have not had as much online access. I have also started to write often and that is where the time priority has to be. I love blogging, but I have to admit I haven’t made it out into the blogging community so far this year, I still want to maintain my blog and see it as an important part of the writing adventure – but now my own adventures have taken off, I need to prioritise writing time.
I have been busy doing delightful things – thought I would share them with you. Tonight I have been inspired by a book launch, but that definitely deserves a post of its own.
Ledbury Poetry Festival started on the 4th July, I have known about this festival for decades and had never been, considering it is closer than other festivals I have attended and is POETRY based, well established and included many of my poetry friends in the programme, I had to make sure I didn’t miss it this year. Unfortunately many of the performances and workshops I fancied were on during the week and I wasn’t able to attend due to work.
On Saturday the 5th I went to Shell House Gallery to watch Ruth Stacey and Carrie Etter perform their new pamphlets by Dancing Girl Press. Dancing Girl is a Chicago based press ‘Homecoming’ by Carrie Etter and ‘Fox Boy’ by Ruth Stacey. Cooke and Dom Hale, to name a few. I was so glad I made it to Ledbury for this event.
Click covers to buy a copies
I had hoped to make it to Cheltenham and Buzzwords the next day, but after a jolly to Ledbury was too tired to spend another evening driving. I hope to make it back to Cheltenham soon.
A few days later (8th) I found out Carol Ann Duffy was due to perform in a pub in Worcester, The Lamb and Flag, unfortunately the date clashed with an event I had already booked, also it has only been a month since I saw her at The Hive. Whilst I was chatting to her and getting my book signed I told her that I remembered seeing her as a teenager at my school and she asked the name of my teacher – who is nowadays very connected to Carol Ann, I rushed off to go and find him … I was too late. So when I discovered this semi-secret event and saw that Michael Woods was also performing I decided to act crazy.
I thought he would remember me because he influenced and inspired/supported me as a English student to get my work published. Lots of success followed and he never knew because he left teaching and went into publishing. I don’t know why I expected him to remember 20 years ago – I barely remember students I taught a year or so ago.
I also made the mistake of using SatNav directions and got taken right round the rigging! I had worked all day and had about an hour to get my set ready and get across to the city first. I did find the pub and I did manage to get in to see Michael before the show, despite not having a ticket. He was very surprised and I spent all of 5 minutes with him, trying to put his mind at rest that I wasn’t a stalker and he did really teach me. As a teacher I think it is lovely when you get to tell these great people what an influence they have had over you. I do not regret this 60 minute detour before an open mic night of my own to re-discover my old English Teacher. Who will hopefully now remember me when our paths next cross!
Mouth & Music
I managed to make it to Mouth & Music on time to sign up, I had written a new poem on theme (Summer) and was glad to make it. It was a great night, Jan Watts was reading from Benches, her latest novel (official Launch in August) which I bought, can’t wait to read it – but it is piled on the shelf of all the books I have bought this year to read. Click to buy.
It was a great night packed full of talented performers, including a scene from a play (a first for this event) – it was great to see people I had not seen for ages and to find out about the summer festival.
On Wednesday the 9th there was an event I was invited to but sadly was unable to attend (due to energy levels).
Birmingham Readers’ Map
Pigeon Park Press decided to map all the stories that take place around Birmingham and then organise events for these writers to read their work.
It was only a few weeks since the LitFest special, I was lucky enough to be able to perform again and had some fresh poems, one written on the day (Thursday 10th) it wasn’t as well attended as it is usually, but a good night all the same. Headlined by Andrew ‘Mulletproof’ Graves- a poet from Nottingham.
The Weekend – Writing, Weddings and Missed Mics
Was meant to be my performance with the Poetry Army – but that got postponed until next year due to a lack of ticket sales at the venue. This did mean that I was able to attend the final WWM Writing West Midlands session in Worcester and my friends wedding!
It was a great last Creative Writing session – our students have really got their heads screwed on when it comes to the world of writing.
And Carly and Russ’s wedding party was A M A Z I N G! I bought a new dress the day before (one that looks a lot more expensive than it was) and had plenty of time to get ready as there was no theatre performance.
I missed the next Open Mic opportunity – part of Black Country Day weekend celebrations at The Cone. As the wedding wine was still in my system on Sunday morning and signing up to the event would have meant leaving at 10 am and I woke up at 10:30 AM
TIP: Don’t arrange or agree to any performance the day after a wedding!
And on top of all of this (and working) I have tried to knuckle down with submissions this month. I have entered 1 competition and entered several poems to online publications, fingers crossed.
have collaborated on a series of 3 poetry events leading up to the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Ruth Stacey has worked with Ledbury Poetry Festival organisers to bring these events into the heart of Worcester, the new library, The Hive.
I really enjoyed the first event in the Studio, Poetry and Place, an evening of listening to 3 amazing poets. Click the link in related articles to read about it.
I have already reblogged Claire Walker’s detailed review of Poetry and Pollination (related links) if you want more information on the acts and performances it is a great read!
Poetry and Pollination was booked in advance and I had been counting down to the next Ledbury/Litfest/Hive event with excitement, as the run up was during my insane 10 gigs in 11 days (never again!) period, – in fact Poetry & Pollination was gig 10. I hadn’t managed to write to the theme, Bees – well we were at The Hive! I have written 1000’s 0f poems and not one about bees. New material was needed.
For a few weeks beforehand I had the time to write but not the inspiration, muse was looking at the flowers, rather than the bees. Then, whilst fleeting around social network sites I found 2 posts about bees. One about the pollination process, the other a Guiness Book of Record type tale of an elderly lady who covered herself in bees. Notes were scribbled in my carry-it-everywhere-you’re-a-writer notebook.
Weeks later I had still not managed to get the scribbles into a poem.
The night before The Hive I was at SpeakEasy, thinking I would still have time to write a bee poem or two when I got home – even if the title was ‘It was not to Bee!’ It was a fairly late night and I was exhausted when I got I, went straight to bed, with my carry-it-everywhere notebook, picked up the nearest pen (which was unfortunately a felt tip) don’t write in felt tip if you can help it, the ink blurs and the next day it is hard to see what has been written, even harder to perform from a felt-tipped script! As I found out.
The Pollination poem has still, as yet, not materialised, nor has the poem about the bee lady – I am hoping to write both before the summer! Instead I fell back on the wise words of every writing tutor – write from what you know – the result of which was two poems about my experiences with bees, both humorous (I don’t usually do funny, unless I am writing with Tim Scarborough – more on that in another post) I wrote about a teenage experience of getting a bee stuck in dreadlocked hair and another about evicting a huge bumble bee from a class of screaming 7 year olds!
I received lots of positive feedback on my performance – it was helped by stage lights and no PA system, I lost my inhibitions and started jumping around the space, acting out my poem, making full use of that dusty, old, drama degree. ‘Another level/ the next level’ in my performance poetry – a great compliment to hear – performance morphs and changes, just as poetry. We grow, change, develop. I am glad after 6 months of spoken word, my work is rising to the next level.
The audience enjoyed these poems, I wrote another one about endangered bees and read that along with a few of my favourite nature poems (another genre I don’t tend to write).
It was a great night with talent after talent, it was especially satisfying to hear Ian Glass and Ruth Stacey as they don’t tend to read their work often and both are wordsmiths with golden nibs, their poetry is amazing. Ruth has a collection coming out soon – Fox Boy – Dancing GirlPress, she will be performing at Ledbury Poetry Festival – can’t wait! More information soon.
It was also a treat to have a few new-to-me faces and a little audience too. Charlie Hammond, a great performance and very funny poem about a parker pen. Lesley Ingram, who mainly performs around Cheltenham area also treated us to her set of delightful poems. Duncan Forbes who read about the seasons.
Maggie Doyle (Worcester Poet Laureate Emeritus and recent KIDDERMINSTER CREATIVES SLAM WINNER!) opened the night.
Jenny Hope read some beautiful poetry, I love hearing her read, such a gentle soulful poet.
Timothy Stavert read about his daughter observing bees.
Suz Winspear treated us to a deliciously darker set, I especially liked her poem about the Yellow House and hope to hear it again soon.
Claire Walker shared one of my favourite poems of hers ‘A Little Outing’, alongside her bee poems, one describing the fear her daughter has of the humming bees, which transported me back to my own fear, filled childhood.
The headline slots were filled by Ruth Stacey and Sarah James.
Sarah read from her second Be[yond]published last year by Knives, Forks and Spoons Pressand her first Into the Yell – Circaidy Gregory Press
It was a superb night, a great night was had by all – organisers, performers and audience. To top it, a few of us rounded the night by going out for a few celebratory drinks!
Poetry For Lunch is a great lunchtime event hosted by Jan Watts (former Birmingham Laureate) last week the Worcester Stanza Group took over for the whole session, thanks to Claire Walker for organising this event, which is usually 30 minutes but was 45 minutes for us.
We hit the gallery first, it was amazing, if you get a chance to see it, do. Hard hitting but also aspects we would all recognise from our lives – across a broad range of ages. I am in awe of the work that went into these tapestries. I also (being a writer) loved the use of text in them. The story they told. Photography is not allowed so we went to buy postcards from the gift shop. The colours were not as vivid as the real thing, and buying the whole collection was nearly £7 so after a little deliberation, I bought the catalogue for £14.99 – a treat!
We had lunch at the gallery and then went onto the library to perform in the amphitheatre. It was great performing alongside fellow Stanza members and well worth taking a day off work. A pity it rained – but we carried on!
Towards the end of the session we met a wonderful young performance poet Damani TruStar Dennisur, who was Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate the same year as Jan Watts. (2012), he had the final slot – and boy, am I glad we didn’t have to follow him! Blew me out of the water. WOW! A name to look out for. He looks like he’s dancing towards Jan in these photos.
Bernard Davis photographs many of the events in Birmingham and kindly came and took fabulous shots of the Stanza group – which does include men and a few more members – obviously not everyone is free to perform in the middle of the day!
STANZA: – Kathy Gee, Ruth Stacey, Claire Walker, Maggie Doyle, Myfanwy Fox, Nina Lewis & Amanda Bonnick with Damani TruStar Dennisur & Jan Watts.