Tag Archives: Sarah Dixon

The Quiet Compere – Wolverhampton Literature Festival

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I am excited whenever new festivals pop up, especially when they are not too far from home. Due to busy plans and the Verve Festival in a few weeks, I am not able to go to all the events I would like to this weekend. If I had a magic wand and teleporting superpowers I would also go to:wolves-lit AFTERNOON TEA – WITH WIN SAHA & BERT FLITCROFT, ARUN KAPUR + ABDA KHAN + ROMALYN ANTE + SABBI KAUR & MARTIN SHONE, BLACK COUNTRY VOICES – Dave Reeves & The Nailmakers’ Daughters, BONES PRESENTS……. A LIL SOMETHING DIFFERENT, ROY MCFARLANE and THE LIFE & TIMES OF THE TAT MAN by DAVID CALCUTT and possibly more.

QC tour

Tonight was brilliant, it was great to be part of an event on the opening day of the festival (27-29th). The Quiet Compere – conceived and hosted by Sarah Dixon.

THE QUIET COMPERE

with Sarah L Dixon, Leanne Bridgewater, Jess May Davies, Kathy Gee, Nina Lewis, Holly Magill, Tom McColl, Gerry Potter, Steve Pottinger, Polly Stretton & Heather Wastie

It was such an enjoyable night. The room in the gallery was very impressive. I really want to go back to the Gallery to just take a look at all the work on display. We had to walk through the Art and Writing space, I took a quick look at the exhibition during the interval.

It was great that an audience showed up and there weren’t too many empty chairs. During the first half the mics were set up quite a distance from the audience, this was changed by request during the interval. I just presumed cable length shackled us to the back of the room. It has to be the best backdrop ever though!

It was such a fantastic night and lovely to hear comments about my set, which went down well… despite last minute nerves of ‘I have chosen all the wrong poems!’. The 10 minutes flew by and I really enjoyed performing. I was very nervous before, but think I covered those nerves well once I had the mic in front of me.

I really appreciate having the opportunity to perform in the Quiet Compere again, we did one in Worcester in 2015. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/quiet-compere-tour-2015-stop-6-worcester/


All photography © 2017 Sarah Dixon

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Sarah Dixon, Poet, Quiet Compere, Amazing Lady! I had the privilege of reading the workings of her new pamphlet that she shared poems from this evening. It was the first time I had heard her read them though, always adds to the power.

qc-polly-robinson Polly Stretton kicked off the evening (Sarah always goes first, knowing how we all hate that opening slot) the first of ten poets – sharing fairy poetry (she has many) and once again I had the inside track on part of her set as she tested it out at 42 this week. She opened her set with a poem about Evelyn Glennie and a tambourine. Fine set.

Next came Holly Magill. qc-holly-m I love Holly’s poems (and wardrobe). It was a great set and good to hear the audience reaction from those who had not heard her before and didn’t know what to expect. As always the serious mixed with a good measure of fun.

Then it was my turn Nina Lewis.qc

I thought long and hard about which poems to read. For a week I carried my notebook and pamphlet in my work bag. I had such a shocking week at work that both stayed in my bag as I didn’t have a moment to ponder through them.

Then I had my Burns set to be ready for the 25th. Fortunately I chiselled out some time on Friday to get myself ready. We were performing in the Art Gallery so I wanted to use some of my artefact/art inspired poetry. There was also a table filled with goodies (all of our books and wares) so performing from Fragile Houses also seemed like a good idea.

I shared the runner up poem from Worcester Porcelain Museum Competition ‘The Unfading Cornflower’, then my poem for Marina Abramovic ‘Unfolding’, then one of the Arthur Rackham inspired poems ‘Buckled Air’ before moving onto the pamphlet and ‘Fabricious Avenue’ (my only 52 poem on colour), Fortori and Your Gift to finish the set with a poem about my parents.

qc-leanne-bridgewater Next came Leanne Bridgewater who threw fruit into the mix (literally)! I was looking forward to watching Leanne’s set as it has been a long while since I have seen her performing her own work. She educated us all about Veganuary. Veganuary aims to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January. She handed out fruit in support of this gesture. Then she read from her book, Confessions of a Cyclist, which has such playful content inside.

To complete the five in the first half was Tom McColl.

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Tom stepped in to fill Bobby Parker’s spot. Tom is based in London and was one of the new to me poets. A good mix of serious and amusing. I really enjoyed the humorous material included in his set.

During the interval I was able to catch up with people and whizz around the gallery downstairs. I was really looking forward to the second half.

Which after more from Sarah was started by Heather Wastie.

qc-heather

Now, I have always loved watching Heather, for the past year she has been busy working on Idle Women and also let Mouth & Music go after facilitating the Open Mic night for many years, so with the exception of a performance here and there it has been ages since I have had the pleasure of watching her on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the set and so did everyone else.

Then Gerry Potter, who was the other new to me poet.

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Gerry is from Liverpool originally and is a lively spoken word performer. His material took me back to my birthday trip to Liverpool last summer and I started scribbling all sorts of things in my notebook, whilst watching his set (I can write without looking at the page) and my brain can just about listen and write if I don’t focus on the writing. I have not re-read these notes but if they become poems ever, they were inspired by Gerry’s set which encapsulated life, childhood and the city.

Jess Davies followed.

qc-jess-d

Like Heather, Jess is another poet who hosted an open mic event, so although I saw a lot of her last year I had not heard her poems for a long while. I was delighted to hear new poetry and witness a brilliant performance. I really enjoyed her set.

Kathy Gee was next.

qc-kathy-gee

She treated us to poems from her Book of Bones and some from The Suite for the Fallen Soldier, a choral project Phil Mountford was commissioned to create. Kathy wrote the narrative suite. I love Kathy’s poetry too, thought provoking and highly crafted. Words you muse over long after the final line. She bravely risked a newer, political poem too. It was a great set.

The Suite for the Fallen Soldier

http://suiteforthefallensoldier.com/

And finally to complete the great night of poetry we heard from Steve Pottinger.

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Again I have seen Steve perform recently but it has been a long while since I saw him headline at Mouth & Music. It is always great to hear a longer set from performers like Steve. Like listening to a whole album rather than enjoying a few tracks. I thoroughly enjoyed the set and he did a grand job closing the night. Like Kathy, he bravely performed a very freshly penned poem too, less than a day old.

It was a fantastic evening, I am still buzzing from the atmosphere now. It was great to meet new people and see old friends and to experience the incredible Wolverhampton Art Gallery. exterior_wolverhampton-art-gallery1536ls

© 2016 Artfund.org Artfund

Also incredibly grateful to have shared the journey with Kathy Gee, who saved me from facing the prospect of driving to the city. We spent the first part of the evening enjoying the wonderful interior of the Posada. An incredible Real Ale pub steps away from the gallery. Well worth a visit the_posada_wolverhampton_4327682633 © 2010 Wikimedia Commons

wolverhampton-posada-publicbar1 especially if you like Heritage pubs or real ale!

Congratulations Sarah Dixon on another fine QC Event, I hope you enjoy the rest of the festival and all the city has to offer.

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/the-quiet-compere/4593202795

http://www.wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/

Worcester LitFest 2016

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Here is a round up of this year’s WLF (Worcester LitFest) 10th – 19th June. I was not able to make as many events as I had hoped and heard lots of good things about those events I missed.

WLF&F logo conceptsThe festival was five days in before I made it to the city this year.

42 Worcester LitFest Special – 15th June

Many of us wrote pieces to perform at this event based on the theme of the ‘Last Stop on the Worcester Night Train’. It was a pleasure to perform and the atmosphere was brilliant.

42 banner

SpeakEasy LitFest Special – 16th June

The following evening saw Angela France feature at SpeakEasy.

Angela France

Featured artist Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals and has been anthologised a number of times. Her publications include ‘Occupation’ (Ragged Raven Press, 2009), Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press, 2011) and Hide (Nine Arches Press 2013). Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in various community settings as well as working for a local charity. She runs a reading series in Cheltenham, ‘Buzzwords’. © 2016 WLF

My set included a Fox poem, as Myfanwy Fox was the guest MC and ‘Awumbuk’, a poem I wrote in response to workshop writing with Angela.

It was a great night and good to be back at the original venue opposite the river.

speakeasy

The Quiet Compere

After the success of the Quiet Compere Tour last year, Sarah Dixon was back with us at The Hive for a full on night of poetry.

Sarah L Dixon runs regular Quiet Compere events in Chorlton, Manchester. She hosted a medical-themed poetry event at Cheltenham Poetry Festival in 2014. Sarah has toured The Quiet Compere format (ten poets x ten minutes each) nationally in 2015 and in the North of England in 2014. Quiet Compere events enlist great, established poets and emerging voices. The Quiet Compere introduces them with little fanfare so the poems (and not the poet’s track record) tell you all you need to know. © 2016 WLF

QC tour

I was looking forward to seeing Adam Horovitz, as I missed him at Swindon and am currently missing him at Ledbury too. I must book the week off next year!

The QC event was a night of powerhouse poetry. Featured poets included;

Adam Horovitz, Jess Davies, Jasmine Gardosi, Leon Priestnall, Ken Evans and Holly Magill. Pre-booked open mic slots myself, Polly Stretton, Leena Batchelor and Neil Laurenson. Other open mic spots were Kathy Gee, Anne Milton (reading publically for the first time) and Kieran Davis.

Who better to tell you all about it but the Quiet Compere herself. Read Sarah’s review here. http://thequietcompere.co.uk/robin-williams-apple-sorrow-and-elephants-in-every-corner-the-blog-of-quiet-compere-at-worcs-litfest-2016/

This was my final dip into WLF 2016 and what a way to go out with the QC!

 

Congratulations to Suz Winspear – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2016-2017 AND the new Poet in Residence at the Museum of Royal Worcester.

Follow these links to delve into the magically gothic world of Suz Winspear.

 

Buy her poetry here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/not-need-new-Obsession/dp/1291592547

Read about her residency here

Poet Laureate

For the full festival listing of all events follow this link https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Review of June

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So why was there only one blog post this month? Mainly because I have been training myself to learn to love the editing process as much as the writing one… although, I am certain this will never happen.

I have taken a real backseat with performing too. We are entering the summer festival season and despite looking through brochures and deciding I would like to attend many events, I have been held back from doing so as I am time poor and poor at the moment.

I haven’t submitted anything other than edited manuscripts for ages and writing new material has been a no go zone too. Due to the long summer break I have been taking on as much work as possible and I am also busy trying (and failing) to arrange birthday parties and mini breaks. June is also a ‘real life’ busy month with birthdays, celebrations and events, not to mention the hours consumed watching programmes about Britain leaving the EU. The REMAIN/LEAVE campaigns were something not many of us understood prior to June and I needed to be sure of my stance and understand the impact before voting.

The world knows the story since… seems strange that when David Cameron resigned as Britain’s Prime Minister it was only the 3rd most important story of the day.

And of course when the future is in the head of a poet, it guarantees that there isn’t much room left for poetry.

Here is a review of what I managed and sometimes what I missed in the world of poetry this month.


Cheltenham

I totally missed Cheltenham Poetry Festival, but the month started with a personal invite to a workshop. Unfortunately there was a tragic accident on the motorway in the morning and the only other route to Cheltenham was blocked by overflow traffic, so I didn’t make the workshop. I felt guilty feeling sad about it when there were some poor people who hadn’t survived the day.

Editing

I spent my break editing and haven’t managed a writing day since.

Book Launches

Jenna Plewes had a book launch at the local library on the 6th June. Her latest collection ‘Pull on the Earth’ includes lots of poems about her travels. It was an enjoyable launch.

Pull of the Earth is published by Indigo Dreams and is available for £8.99 + P&P BUY your copy here

See blog post for more details https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/book-launch-pull-of-the-earth-by-jenna-plewes/

Pull of Earth

Open Mics

June saw Jess Davis hosting her final Stirchley Speaks. The monthly poetry night held at the P Café will be hosted by Callum and Jessica Bates from July. This is a full circle for them as they were one of the three headline acts appearing at the first Stirchley Speaks one year ago.

I was lucky enough to perform, it was a great night.

Unfortunately it clashed with David Hart appearing at The Works’ Canteen. I had hoped to make it back to this night held at the Black Country Museum, hosted by Dave Reeves. David Hart meantime, waits on my list of must see.

I also missed HOWL as I was still editing.

I performed at the 42 Festival Special as part of WLF (Worcester LitFest), an enjoyable night themed around the Last Stop on the Worcester Night Tra.

I also had a slot at WLF SpeakEasy which was hosted by the ever delightful Myfanwy Fox and headlined by Angela France. It was great to catch up with both of them and Angela gave me a good Ledbury tip off.

 

Lit Fests & Workshops

Worcester LitFest kicked off on the 10th June with the Poet Laureate Final (I remember the nerves from this time last year), not good memories as far as emotions go. Traumatic in actual fact. This year saw a new venue at Worcester Race Course and instead of 3 finalists being picked from 6 performers, they had 3 finalists striving for the accolade. A wise decision was also made with regard to the amount of other ceremonial achievements celebrated beforehand, making it a shorter event and allowing the poets to suffer less palpitations. I didn’t manage to support in person this year but I am delighted to announce that this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate is Suz Winspear!

Positive Images Festival

On June 12th I headed over to Coventry for a ‘The Atomic Sun’ workshop with Antony Owen, Patron of CND Peace Education UK and Award Winning Poet. Antony and I have poems in an anthology due out later this year published by Shabda Press entitled ‘Nuclear Impact Broken Atoms in our Hands’. It was a deeply moving experience which I will post about separately.

http://www.positiveimagesfestival.co.uk/

https://antonyowenpoetry.wordpress.com/

http://www.cnduk.org/information/peace-education/item/2254-peace-education-patrons-antony-owen

Workshop

Gary Crew is an Australian Author of YA Fiction. His picture books for KS2+ are brilliant and ‘The WaterTower'(1994) formed part of the mantle learning at one of the schools I work at. The Watertower

As part of his time here in the UK (mainly London and Oxford) he was also able to catch a train up to the Midlands and workshop with some very eager children. As part of his contract he had to deliver something to academics (funding), so I was one of about 40 teachers treated to a session with him after work.

I will add a post of information about his writing. It was inspiring for me and I bought a book of his I have not read as poetry instantly sprang to mind, we will see where that leads (after I have finished this first manuscript maybe)!

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/c/gary-crew/

 

Performances

Quiet Compere Worcester LitFest

Friday 17th June I was lucky enough to be part of the QC Event at Worcester LitFest, Sarah Dixon returned for another wonderful night of poetry at The Hive. A different format this time she had featured poets, guest poets and some open mics, pre-booked (like mine) or signed up on the night. Link to follow.

Midsummer Poetry Brothel Caged Arts

Heidi Murphy hosted her 2nd Poetry Brothel at P Café on the 22nd June to celebrate the solstice. I had missed the Solstice Walk (Festival Fringe event), due to family celebrations clashing so it was useful to be able to blow the dust off last year’s solstice poems. No time to pen anything new, but I did have time to raid my wardrobe for florals; trousers, flower in the hair… it was my 3rd Poetry Brothel (am I forming a habit?).

Writing West Midlands

From September the Junior and Senior groups are amalgamating, so I spent an entire Saturday at the library being Jenny Hope’s assistant and then taking my own final session for this term/year in the afternoon. I had hoped to attend A Night at the Museum, WLF event in the evening but after working two groups and with a few hours of limbo, I decided I was too tired and left the city for home.

So there is June in rather a big nutshell – and of course, I am still writing NaPoWriMo poems (from April prompts)…

pen sarah wilko anderson Happy writing! x

Quiet Compere Tour 2015 – STOP 6 – Worcester

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The Quiet Compere Tour was a great success for Sarah Dixon in 2014 and what started as a tour of poets in the North of England spread as far as the Midlands. Following her success Sarah applied for a 2nd Arts Council Grant to continue the tour across the UK this year. We were booked prior to funding and kept our fingers crossed. It is my longest awaited gig and due to funding, poets were paid – something that doesn’t happen often enough and is always a pleasure!

I was incredibly excited and worked on what would be part of my set for some time. This tour stop was one in which I knew all my fellow performers and we knew a lot of each other’s work, so it felt a little different to my first exposure to the QC back in 2014, watching the 10 magnificent performers at the MAC.

QC

It was incredibly exciting to be part of the tour and I was delighted when fellow poets mentioned statistics from my interview with Sarah in introductions to their sets.

Ten minutes flies by when you are part of a collective set, most of my headline slots have been 15+ minutes and the pressure of those feels a lot longer than the extra 5 minutes.

My first spark of excitement came when I saw our names in The Hive programme.

QC HIVE

Before I knew it the day arrived – I knew it was a mistake to take work on the day, but needs must – so I spent the whole day run ragged by 4 year olds and arrived home in time to get ready and grab some food and GO! No time to feel the pressure, after my Poet Laureate experience, I decided this was for best.

Sarah is exceptionally professional, kind and always seems magnificently calm! On the day she had to deal with a change if line-up, sadly missed was Hayley Frances, I was particularly looking forward to her set because although I saw her a lot 2013/14 I have only seen her perform at the Poet Laureate final, Birmingham Literature Festival 2013. Clive Dee bravely stepped up to the mark… well once you have performed on the same night as John Hegley!

foyer

I arrived to find that the ‘Green Room’ was the Oasis Room, which was great as this is the new venue for Writing West Midlands, ground floor and very yellow! They are never green. Sarah Dixon and Steve Wilson (Arts Officer) who I met properly for the first time at the Worcestershire Poet Laureate finals in June greeted me and after some time in the Green Room, I wandered off to find the other poets were all having coffee and cake in the café of course, others were playing in the library, there are some great kids spaces in the walls, small nooks to read books, appreciated by the poets small enough to make use of the spaces.

ad Photographs – Sarah Dixon  © 2015

merch I bought a QC t-shirt, a forever memory from the merch table and before long it was time to get the show on the road.

sarah

Sarah Dixon, introducing and performing her own poetry too, including some great words about Frank and from Frank (her young son).

Catherine Crosswell

Always a pleasure to listen to, and since her return to theatre last year, someone who I don’t get to see perform as often as I would like, she performed at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year too. A perfect start to the evening!

Catherine Crosswell

www.catherinecrosswell.co.uk

Mike Alma

Mike has written about the war and shared his war poems since 2013, he and I talked of books in my early days and I am delighted he chose to self publish his collection ‘Fragments of a Great War’.

seats

He performed a set of some of his best poems, about butterflies, twin brothers and war. He performed Letters to a Soldier at the Front with the help of Moira and using two voices made it a powerful reading.

Mike Alma

Then it was my turn.

Nina Lewis

I performed some of my favourite poems and am here with my eyes closed because the lines;

‘ I watched your face as you played,

eyes closed,

breathing through that silver saxophone …’

always make me want to shut my eyes.

nina lewis

Jasmine Gardosi

Highly energetic – always whether hosting or performing, I love watching her perform. She treated us to a dark and thought provoking set. I especially liked her Night Club poem.  https://www.facebook.com/JasmineGardosiPoet and @jasminegardosi on twitter

Jasmine Gardosi

Neil Laurenson

Neil Laurenson Neil writes witty, short, satirical poetry. I first met him in 2014 at Speakeasy and he was at Wenlock Poetry Festival as part of a Silhouette Press event.

http://herecomeseveryone.me/hce-meets-neil-laurenson-wenlock-2014-poet/

Adrian Mealing  Adrian Mealing

Another strong force in the world of music and poetry, someone else who I don’t see nearly enough of. He shared as we hung on every word. A man who is a master of humour, wordplay and talking about allotment produce, whenever encouraged.
The Very Grimm Brothers https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Very-Grimm-Brothers/193869703992330

Myfanwy Fox

Another performer I don’t see enough of, her subtle humour is delightful and her set was quietly spoken and well received. It is amazing what we learn about each from our poetry…

Myfanwy Fox like Myfanwy comes from a long line of ‘Windmills’. https://myfanwyfox.wordpress.com

Claire Walker

My dear poetry friend who has her first collection/pamphlet coming out this Autumn.

Claire Walker She read beautifully as always, understated – despite her poetry being constantly worth underlining. Her poetry is beautiful, gently strong and filled with love.

Claire’s pamphlet The girl who grew into a crocodile is available in Autumn 2015 here; http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/our-poets.html  

www.clairewalkerpoetry.com

Carl Sealeaf

Another favourite of mine, I met him back in early 2014 and had not seen him for ages until I went to Jasmine Gardosi’s OPUS CLUB night and we were reunited. He is an amazing bloke and a great ambassador for Poetry.

He shared some incredibly strong poetry, words we needed to here. Crisis and our part to play.

Carl Sealeaf

Clive Dee

clive dee

Poignant poetry – I used to love his Haikus but nowadays without the brevity of word count he can pack the same punch!

It was a fabulous night and we all left on a real high. Thanks Sarah for asking me to be involved.

RELATED LINKS

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/interview-the-quiet-compere-sarah-dixon/

https://thequietcomperemcr.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/a-shrinking-of-shrugs-mermaids-and-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-worcester-blog/

Keep track of Quiet Compere Tour here

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Quiet-Compere/523455994408580

https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/the-quiet-compere

or on twitter @quietcomperemcr

The Quiet Compere Tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

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INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

I am delighted to share this interview with Sarah Dixon, The Quiet Compere. Ever since I caught the Birmingham leg of the tour last year I have wanted to post an interview with her on the blog – and wishes DO come true, you have known that since my first jump, right?

I asked her all about  The QC – her Arts Council funded project, now in its 2nd year with a possible 3rd year ahead.

It is an inspiring interview and I always feel we can all learn a lot from people who are already out there doing it (Art/ Creativity/ Poetry) – so here is the gold-dust!

ENJOY!

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The Quiet Compere National Tour 2015 – Stop 6

@ The Hive, Worcester

Featuring: The Quiet Compere, Mike Alma, Catherine Crosswell, Myfanwy Fox, Hayley Frances, Jasmine Gardosi, Neil Laurenson, Nina Lewis, Adrian Mealing, Carl Sealeaf, Claire Walker

TICKETS FOR THE WORCESTER TOUR (FRI 10th July) ARE NEARLY ALL SOLD OUT -£5 Book here;

https://www.ents24.com/worcester-events/the-hive/the-quiet-compere-national-tour-2015-stop-6/4324372

Or you can book directly with the venue;

https://e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk/LibraryEvents/EventDetails.aspx?id=75

Fri 10th July at 7:00pm

thehiveworcsorg© 2014 thehiveworcsorg

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QC tour

1) How did you come up with the Quiet Compere (TQC) concept?
My local night in Manchester started life as Lead Poets (in 2008) started off as a night where whoever turned up did a spot if they wanted. Slowly a regular audience developed and numbers were usually between 30 and 40. At this point I limited the number of readers to ten and adopted a 10 poets x 10 mins format (I have since been informed that there was a night called Take Ten in Newcastle about the same time – I was not aware of this at the time).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
2) How did you approach/research grants from the Arts Council?
I thought the format and the chance to invest in poets in so many regions would appeal, but that it would also need enough planning in advance for any funding body to invest in it. I had a small track record of running events around Manchester, at local festivals and in Cheltenham and Leeds. Having no funding track record it was difficult to obtain match funding from councils and other bodies. I booked all the venues and half the poets before I pressed the SUBMIT button on the bid. This took around 35-40 hours and any work carried out before acceptance on the bid cannot be deemed payable.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
3) How long was the process, what was the toughest/ easiest part?
35 hours advance planning. Submit button. Then the wait – six weeks for a decision. The hardest bit is the waiting. Easiest bit: Deciding to put together a bid.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
4) How long have you been creating the QC tours?
This is the second year. Last years was a tour of the North, though weirdly Birmingham sneaked in (as it feels close – I never realise how south of the north Manchester is 🙂 The National tour is happening in 2015 and the Worcester event on 10th July will be the half-way point of this tour.
QC
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
5) What aspects of QC Tours do you find most rewarding?
Smooth-running events and I find if you keep venues and performers fully-informed and have the right people and venue the event should feel like it runs itself (but this is because of all the background admin work beforehand).
Bringing together poets from different groups who may not have met/or heard each other perform before. I make a concerted effort NOT to pick the same ten people who perform alongside each other at every local night in the area. I want to find the open miccers who are brilliant but haven’t had a chance to prove this in a ten minute spot, the members of groups who are the ones overlooked and a good dose of regulars on the scene. I attempt to mix performance and page (but this sometimes depends on the poetry dynamic in the area – in Cumbria performance poetry seems to be less of a thing, whereas in Manchester a high number of poets seem to straddle the line between page and performance and their is an audience for both poetry styles).

Bringing people back together. I have overheard conversations that start “I haven’t seen you for years, loved hearing your new stuff…” hoping this might rebuild some poetry bonds and new friendships and connections might be forged and old ones rekindled. This adds a bit of romance to the tour 🙂

Low advance sales are nerve-wracking, but after the Blackpool event I panic less about this. We had sold 1 until the day before, then 5. We sold out a 50 seater venue on the night. The buzz of that relief and the elation that there was a full-house.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
6) How were/ are poets selected?
The tour was in the North of England last year. I find a high number of poets in the North, especially the North West happily travel 1-2 hours to see a line-up they are excited by or to support quality nights. This meant I already knew a vast number of poets in the areas I was going to. I asked my contacts in the areas to recommend poets in the area, with a mix of age ranges, styles and themes in mind. I also searched ‘York – Poets’ online and checked out videos and links to poems by poets from the areas. Having been a part of the poetry scene for thirteen years I have built many contacts I know I can trust. Social Media plays a big part in promoting the tour and keeping everyone updated. I book poets who are not on social media, but it is more difficult to find ways to contact them, so is likely that I have been given an email address by someone I do know (in reality or virtually).
Since I have been planning the 2015 tour I have been part of a number of online communities (where I can get a feel for a poets style over several weeks or months of poems). I am thinking mainly of Jo Bell’s 52 poetry sharing and critique group (which numbered 650) and last year the tour included 30 or so poets from this group, all booked before the group existed. This year around half of the poets booked are from this group. Having access to several examples of the material of the poets makes it easier for me to balance themes, styles and other factors across each event. Also through workshops I have attended at Sheffield Poetry Business Writing Days, two Arvon weeks and Manchester Cathedral Poetry Business days among others.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
7) What are the future plans for QC?

I am presently pulling threads together in an attempt to get a bid in for next year – the final and third Quiet Compere tour – 2016 – the places she missed.

Possibly to set up a quarterly Manchester poetry writing day as I feel there is a demand for this.

For Sarah L Dixon: Getting a pamphlet published and recognition in reputable and/or popular poetry magazines.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
8) What has been challenging/ spectacular about expanding QC beyond Northern regions?
Challenging;
Less knowledge about the area and the audience and the poets/performers and local press outlets.
I have solved this in some cases by teaming up with a local co-host or performer who already knows the area and venues and can suggest some places to search for poets online from the area. 
Spectacular;

The sells-out gigs. The more unusual venues this year – The Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham, The Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford. The venues provide a different backdrop and a more intimate and cosy feel to them than a pub room or a featurelss arts centre space. The venue in Ulverston a week ago had striking curtains. I enjoy anything that links the photos to a place rather than the ‘could be anywhere’ feel.

The chance to meet and bring together some people I feel I know/know each other well from virtual groups and share each others pieces and time
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
9) Why 10 poets?

Why 10 minutes? I found the leap between 2-4 minute open mic to full 15-30 minute guest spots was massive and the longer slots terrified me. At open mic nights I often wanted to hear more pieces by each poet (and found that as I was settling into someone’s style the night shifted and another poet took to the stage. My local night now has 3 guest spots and 5 support poet spots (6 mins each). I changed the format because I wanted to be able to charge a door fee and pay guests with a drink and a 6 minute spot for one guest if they want. None of the performers pay an entrance fee.

Why 10 poets? I think the attention span of a poetry audience starts to wane around two hours in (with a short break) and 10 x 10 had a ring to it.

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10) How has facilitating tours developed/supported your own life as a performing poet?
It has meant I have been offered guest spots I may not otherwise have been offered – because I am more visible. 
I have learnt a lot about Press releases, interviews and how to use Twitter.
I have learnt the value of a colour-coded spreadsheet can also be applied to poetry tours – not romantic, but true. Running the tour has meant I have had more time to write, submit, polish and run workshops and attend workshops as I can carry out the tour admin in my own time.

I have been able to do school drop off and pick ups of my son, Frank, 4. This means we often get 7 hours together each day and a high number of my poems are not about him, but from a phrase he says or a way he views the world that I might have missed had I been working and commuting and not had the opportunity to be with hi, so much 🙂

I have become strict with myself about time-keeping and not spending too much time woffling on Facebook. 

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
11) Can you tell us a little about the rest of the tour this year?
  • Worcester 10th Julynext Friday – Almost on us. Advance ticket sales going well.
  • Hull 4th Sept and Exeter 12th Sept are both at the point of sending flyer details to designer and printer.
  • Camden, Hackney and Norwich – I will be confirming the poets for these events in the next 6 weeks.
  • Cheltenham is the final gig of this year and is the night before the stunning Medicine Unboxed Conference curated by Samiir Guglani. This year’s theme is Mortality. QC HIVE
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
12) Being away from home is….?
…refreshing, different and exciting, 
    Being away from home is… lonely, strange and scary.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
13) Where do you stay on tour?
Last year I felt cheeky asking acquaintances for somewhere to stay, but after a few nights sharing the poetry buzz with a mini bottle of Sainsburys Prosecco (£3 for 20cl), the cast of Eastenders and a cheap B and B room I decided to be cheeky and ask poets if they would be willing to put me up and sharing poetry buzz is lovely, though still for half the dates on the tour this year I feel I don’t know people well enough in area to ask for a room/floor/bed.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
14) What advice would you give to poets who yearn to complete a project?
a) Plan a lot in advance of appoaching any funding body. Prove that you will run the project efficiently and have thought it through (I did at least 35 hours on each bid before submitting).
b) Approach local councils for match-funding. possibly easier after first project when you have a track record.
c) Detail is important. Keeping poets/venues/funding bodies informed at all times.
d) Thank the people who are part of your project as cohosts, venue teams, performers, poets who help promote and thank them personally not in an impersonal message. Let them know you listen and take notes so you can thank them with a few lines of poetry you enjoyed or a particular touch that made the venue unique and memorable.
e) Detail is key to building reputation and brand.
quiet compere 2015 T
15) What are the biggest lessons you have learnt?
a) Don’t cut corners – I am sometimes tempted not to thank poets individually. Thanking ten poets takes between an hour and half and two hours to do this they way I do it. I could cut corners and send a generic message, but it is not my style and detracts from the everyone being treated equally and valued ethos of the tour.
b) I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of press releases and interviews to the get the tour info out there.
c) I find typing up the blogs boring, but necessary.
d) You can’t thank people too much. Thank them on the night. Follow this up with email or message.
e) Remind poets to stick to time at the point you send running order out (7-10 days before).
f)  PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
16) Is the 2015 tour different to the 2014 tour? How? Why?
I suppose, because some of the dates are further afield. In tour of the North I had often met at least half of the line-up, if not more. I know a lot of poets virtually, some through 52, but not their performance style. I have found that now people have heard of The Quiet Compere and it has become a bit of brand I find people approach me to get on board (often at the point when I have already confirmed the line-up and sent flyers to print).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
17) Who do you read – which poets do you admire/ read?
Magical realists – and this is relevant to my poetry. It is where the weird and dark sneak in and unsettle both me and the audience. Magnus Mills, Tom Holt, Jasper Fforde.

I am presently reading books on an 18th century cholera epidemic and The Black Death and epidemiology and real life murder books fascinate me. Yes, the weird and the dark again.

Poets: My favourite performers at the moment are Clare Shaw (I love her delivery style, her themes and the words she chooses) and Rose Condo (who I saw win a Manchester Poetry Slam final in 2014 by taking us with her into a story and weaving words around us rather than firing them at us – this was my first slam (as audience member) and I didn’t know what to expect).  The list changes every week. I discovered Brian Patten in the last year and love his stuff.

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
18) How did you get into writing poetry?
I wrote as a teenager to make sense of the world. Then thought I had the world figured out. After six years of working full-time and studying for an OU degree part-time in Social Science and Economics I returned to poetry via an NHS-subsidised Arts and Health Creative Writing Course for Staff run by Phlip Davenport in 2002.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
19) What do you miss the most when your touring schedule is over?
I miss the structure and the fact that I am always in three different stages for three different events.

At present I need to thank four more poets from last week’s Ulverston gig and I put the piece of paper with notes of their lines down when distracted by a thunderstorm last week. One of my jobs this week is to find this and thank these poets.

I am in the middle of a last promotion push for Worcester in 5 days time and going to send out the running order either tonight or tomorrow.

I am trying to confirm a last couple of poets for Exeter and Hull and getting the flyers to printer hopefully in time to take them to a 52 poetry picnic on Saturday 11th July, as a lot of the Exeter crew will be there. 🙂

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
20) If you weren’t the Quiet Compere, who would you be?
If I wasn’t Quiet Compere would still be Frank’s Mum, zumba enthusiast (not necessarily good or rhythmical ;)). I told Frank my super power would be not being clumsy – had a clatter on Thursday on cobbles – classic scuffed knees and elbows.  Frank said I can’t have that power as then he would be clumsy all by himself. 
© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

MANY THANKS TO YOU Sarah for taking the time for this interview, I cannot wait to see you and the other 9 QC poets on Friday and GOOD LUCK with the rest of the tour!

COMING SOON – Quiet Compere Interview with Sarah Dixon

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QCSarah Dixon has been touring with this concept for two years now. I was lucky enough to be in the audience of the 2014 Tour at the MAC, Birmingham March 21st.

The Quiet Compere (21/3/14)

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Later in 2014 I was booked onto the current 2015 tour, the Worcester stop. This is the longest I have had to wait for an event and the excitement of it being this week, cannot be described! Not even by a writer!

 

 

 

 

When I saw the HIVE brochure last month it brought it all home, literally!

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After the 2014 Tour I wanted to interview Sarah,  with us both being involved in many projects  it has taken a while for this interview to exist.

I am looking forward to sharing this insightful interview with you all. CHECK BACK LATER – and all will be revealed!

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Quick Mini-Update! The Past 3 Days of Poetry Me.

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I plan to write separate posts over the weekend for the events of the past 3 days… for now – having just come home from the MAC (Midlands Art Centre) I am buzzing and too excited to write blog posts!
Surging energy….
news in brief….

WEDS
Wrote 21 Haikus on Hikikomori for What’s the Agenda, a project Hayley Frances is producing, isolation in a digital world, this weekend at The MAC.
Then I went to CONFAB CABARET which was a superb night. I performed and my poem went down well.
I finally got to see the Decadent Divas and Men in General would have blown me off my chair, had I been sitting on one. Fortunately the settee was up against a very solid wall!
I came away from the silliest raffle with a silly prize and there was free CAKE!

Then Thursday I managed to HIT THE ODE and support my friend Andrea Shorrick in her new SWINGERELLA persona, as well as catching 3 amazing headliners, chatting to many poets and buying a new pamphlet of poetry!
I got in on a high and was up until 2 a.m….

Tonight I went to the MAC to see The Quiet Compere a show created by Sarah Dixon across the country. I know 8/10 poets and have been lucky enough to perform at the same events and open mics as 8 of them in the past 6 months too.
It was a great mix and I discovered 2 new, very talented poets.
My Worcester poetry friends blended with my Birmingham Poetry Friends and it was a bit weird for me cross mingling -torn, I wanted to be a part of everyone’s conversations… I am glad they had the opportunity to meet and hear the talent that I discovered at the very start of my journey back in September!
Homegrown talent!

I have come home and written 2 new poems for 42 next week. A themed birthday edition.

best sarah wilkinson