Tag Archives: The Hive

Flashback May: ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’ Book Launch

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from May – July. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Friday 18 May, 6pm in the Studio at The Hive

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Back in May I was fortunate enough to attend Katy Wareham Morris’s Book Launch for her debut collection ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’. The collection is published by experimental, Bristol-based publisher, Hesterglock.

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Katy is a writer and lecturer in Media and Culture, based in the West Midlands, UK. She has a particular interest in gender and queer studies, identity politics and digital humanities. Her debut pamphlet was a poetry duet entitled, Inheritance published by Mother’s Milk Books and was launched at Ledbury Poetry Festival (2017). It went on to win ‘Best Collaborative Work’ at this year’s Saboteur Awards.

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Her poems have also featured in the webzines I am not a silent poet and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Katy is also the Birmingham, UK Branch Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, of which she was a founding member.

cutting 2Hesterglock specifically asked for feminist poetry in the submission call and Katy gave them that and more. Here is what she says about the ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’.

This collection is a collage of womxn’s voices, attempting to call time on the ‘female’ identities attributed to women by patriarchal  culture. The poetry is personal, political and provocative.

I am incredibly proud of this collection, which I have been working on for some years now. It is informed by my own love of poetry, which began with the Romantics -Wordsworth, Keats and Blake – when I was a child, to the Modernists, particularly HD, and the Beats, namely Diane di Prima whom I discovered as part of my Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree courses. It also reflects my appreciation of pop culture and the research I have undertaken in gender studies and identity politics. There were many times when I thought this poetry was too controversial or risky to ever be published. I persevered to prove to myself, if no one else, that womxn can fight for an equal place in this society, and that we have many different, equally valuable stories to share. © https://katywarehammorris.com/

Katy was joined by Guest Poets Kathy Gee, Holly Magill & Claire Walker.

WP_20180518_002It was a terrific, uplifting evening and a warmly received launch. There are striking poems in this collection. See for yourselves – order a copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

30-40-60

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Back in 2015 I dreamed of my pamphlet being published at the same time as Claire Walker’s, we have talked of many collaborative readings and ideas. By the time 2016 rolled around, my head was filled with firm ideas of collaborating, by 2017 there was somewhat of a larger idea forming.

I had a concrete plan and all I needed was acceptance. I approached Kathy Gee and Claire Walker, two poets who are also published by V. Press. I was delighted when they both agreed to my idea and I swiftly put in an application for Worcester LitFest (WLF).

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We waited until our place in the programme was confirmed before we set to work on this project. I am from a performance background and know only too well the unseen hours of work and rehearsal. What I loved about our meetings was the fluidity in which we found ourselves working. There is nothing better than a positive environment with like-minded people to stoke the fires and like an Olympic torch ours kept burning!

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We all know each other’s poetry and have each other’s books on our shelves, so placing our work together was not too difficult, cutting it down to a running order size was a fair challenge – thank goodness we all know how to kill our darlings.

Once we had organised the poetry we then played (and I mean that verb) with the sequence until we were all satisfied with the show. Then the real fun began with read through, deciding where the combined voices worked best.

I had started work on the multimedia element before we were accepted for WLF as I was convinced this performance would happen at some point, somewhere. I know from making poetry films last year (Fragile Houses) that media and editing is painstakingly time consuming. I also know that when you LOVE what you do, work never feels like work.

Eventually we brought voice and film together and rehearsed and altered the show.

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And what a show it was.

A    M    A    Z    I    N    G!

We are very proud our show was one of the best-selling festival events, we did some point specific marketing and believe that the tireless work of the WLF team and The Hive (Worcester Library/Venue) advertising in the What’s On at The Hive programme helped in this success!

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There were plenty of people we did not know as well as good friends and supporters. It was a fabulous night! We hope to tour it next year. Catch us if you can.

Photography Elaine Christie© 2017

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Nina Lewis  – Introducing the Poets:

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Nigel Hutchinson

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Neil Richards

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Belinda Rimmer

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Rick Sanders

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Suz Winspear

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Paul Wooldridge

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Kate Weatherby

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Followed by our 40 minute show exploring the various stages of life through womanhood.

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Huge thanks to Kathy Gee for providing some of the media clips, projectors, scripts, folders and the programmes! For Claire Walker who had the wonderful idea of incorporating the open mic element. To the audience for having faith and to our open mic performers for beginning such a cracking night!

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Really enjoyable evening, the interweaving of voices – both actual and literary – worked extremely well. Video backdrop a unifying element. -Nigel

Fantastic evening, the show should go on the road, really enjoyable, and the three poets really worked as a performance. -Neil

A gorgeous night tonight! Brilliant poetry presented in a way I’ve never seen before! -Suz

Such a pleasure. Spellbinding poetry and a beautiful backdrop of images. Thanks for lovely evening. -Kathy A

30-40-60 is a triumph. A splendid performance from spectacular poets. Kathy Gee, Claire Walker and Nina Lewis were exquisite. Wonderful! –Kieran

A lovely evening at the Hive with Worcester LitFest and the wonder 30-40-60. When it comes back it’s a Do Not Miss. -Anne

Poetry perfection, wonderful. – Maggie

The poetry found so many points of connection. Beautiful. -Belinda

Rick Sanders reviewed the show (Related Links) – here are some soundbites. Thanks to Rick for the review and feedback.

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing 30 – 40 – 60 at the Hive in Worcester, one of a myriad of events taking place as part of the Worcestershire Litfest. The show is the brainchild of poets Claire Walker, Nina Lewis and Kathy Gee and it explores the works of all three poets through a connected narrative and visual accompaniment.

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Some pieces are solo readings, while others combine the voices of all three poets in acoustic harmony, which is different and rarely seen in poetry performance. 

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an engaging and highly entertaining piece of performance art.

A must see if 30 – 40 – 60 pops up again in a town near you…

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RELATED LINKS:

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/30-40-60/

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… distinctive voicing to a beautiful narrative, which is complimented in turn by the visuals being displayed behind the readers. As an audience you get to see and hear two things at once, adding to the imagery of the spoken word and layering another context to the poems. It’s a clever use of multimedia and works well in the overall effect. -Rick

PERFORMANCE BIOS 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/30-40-60-open-mic-poets/

Working on a Poetry Show 30-40-60

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Back in 2016 I was already planning collaborations to promote my debut pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’, published by V. Press.

This year I had the opportunity to organise events for festivals and two of these included this body of work. Stourbridge Literature Festival saw a straight reading of pamphlets and collections that I organised with fellow V. Press published poets: David Calcutt, Kathy Gee & Claire Walker. It was fun to do and we sold a couple of books.

The next bid I placed was with Worcester LitFest, although I have been aware of the festival and participated in various events since 2014, I had never discovered the bidding stage. I wrote a synopsis for a collaborative reading.

We heard that our application had been successful in March and set to work on developing the show 30-40-60.

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We have had several meetings to script and rehearse the poetry side of things and have developed film work to enhance the experience, as well as promoting the show in hope of ticket sales. It is a something we hope to repeat at other festivals/events in the future as there has been an incredible amount of groundwork put in.

It has been one of the most pleasurable projects so far this year. The 3 hour meetings fly by and we have our fingers crossed now that we can make it a success.

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Worcester LitFest runs from 9th – 18th June and as you can see 30-40-60 is billed for the 11th June, do come along if you can make it to The Hive, tickets are a festival fiver and if you want to perform poetry, sign up for the open mic beforehand by emailing us at 304060[at]mail.com

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Litfest A5 Programme 2017 30-40-60 page

Hollie McNish – Nobody Told Me

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

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

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

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

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

Here for your pleasure is Hollie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED LINKS:

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

https://holliepoetry.com/

 

National Libraries Day & Liz Berry

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6th February 2016

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Why a National Libraries Day?

  • To say thank you to our nation’s librarians for the wonderful work they do
  • To get people out to visit their library and see the amazing services our libraries offer – and join up if not already a member
  • To promote the work of libraries of all kinds in our communities
  • It’s a reminder: libraries matter to us all, and this is the time when we can send a collective, public message to decision makers that we love and value our libraries and recognise that no one else can do the work of a professional librarian – especially in an election year
  • To get together as a community to celebrate what we value – and libraries are at the heart of this

National Libraries Day is a grassroots celebration led by library staff and library users. It is supported by CILIP and a coalition of leading literacy, reading, library and education organisations including the Reading Agency, the School Library Association and the Society of Chief Librarians.logoW741HQ7Z

And what treats our County had in store for us. I was lucky enough to start the day in The Hive – Worcester Library as my Writing West Midlands group met and spent the session gathering material for our book and completing a mock up of it.

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Then I hot footed to see Liz Berry perform at Bromsgrove Library. It was great to hear/see her in action again and a really great way for the local library to celebrate National Libraries Day. Her opening speech about libraries was passionate.

I feel the same way about libraries – I moved around the Country a lot as a 20 something and I would always check out the library, like a second home. It is appalling that these services are having budget cuts and closures. No-one says this but they are also a great place for the children of families who aren’t book families, for people who can’t afford to buy lots of books. Safe spaces that need to be protected and cherished.

Liz Berry’s set was nothing short of magical. It was a lovely night.

BUY a copy of ‘Black Country’ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1097057/black-country/9780701188573/

LOVE YOUR LIBRARIES! natlibday

 

RELATED LINKS

http://www.nationallibrariesday.org.uk/

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/21/black-country-liz-berry-review-poetry-collection

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/find-your-next-read/extracts/the-friday-poem/homecoming-by-liz-berry/

Writing, Research, Performing & Watching

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This week is one of those weeks that feels as if it is going on forever (in a good way, I think)! I have managed to work this week and get my nose to the writing grindstone too. Which is fortunate as I have just accepted a short-term contract for the next fortnight and will have precious time or energy left for writing. I haven’t worked full-time since my illness, but it isn’t for a long period of time and I have a week off after to recoup…well, after Mr G’s Birthday/Valentine weekend.

Next week I have writing deadlines, a headline slot at Stirchley Speaks along with Alisha Kadir and Mark Kilburn. It is also Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch and Emma Purshouse is performing at Permission to Speak, which (depending on energy levels) I hope to make. On Saturday I am working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) and in the evening watching Liz Berry as part of National Library Day as well as working with small, terrifyingly energetic four year olds! I think the blog posts may have to wait.

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Maybe next week will seem as endless as this one, it is good when time feels stretched this way.

This week I have been taking chunks out of the Action Plan. Writing around the day job, as many of us have to do. My main focus was on a project that needed lots of research, which I managed to write 5 new poems and have enough material and ideas to generate more when I get a moment to write again. I have submitted this poetry and now have my fingers crossed for a positive response.

I have also been editing the manuscript, which really needs to be emailed. You know that thing when something is as written as it can be for now but you keep chipping away at it. I heard an interview with David Calcutt this week, where a comment about editing struck me because I think not only is it true of my own poetry/writing progress, but is also part of my learning of 2015 about writing once you have had work accepted and it is part of an editorial process.

David on editing poetry: ( paraphrased) some people ‘polish the diamond’ – diamond poetry is strong, hard, well executed, beautiful but it is what it is and doesn’t leave room to be anything else. Poetry can be equally as good but not as polished, where there is still breath in the work, it has been overly re-written, it allows the reader space.

I guess it is that fine line between polishing something so it shines and polishing it so hard it becomes so hard to handle it slips right out of your hand to the floor. I am always aware of ‘authentic voice’ in poetry, this may or may not be a bad thing. I know we all work differently and that my manuscript is in exceptionally safe hands editorially. It is just me learning to let go more I think.

The things that we dream of are new realities and experiencing them in real-time is different to how they were imagined.

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I also had the pleasure of a Poetry Event, so far this year (and I know we are only weeks in), I have managed to maintain my resolution of cutting back performances and events in order to create more writing time. This was my first performance in two weeks. It was the first 42 event of 2016 and as there is no December event it has been a good while since I had seen some people. It seemed a little strange wishing each other Happy New Year at the end of the month. These spoken word nights are themed – and as you know, I pride myself on writing to theme. This month’s theme was extremely challenging:

‘Around the Myths in 80 Words’ – I liked the play on title but researching and writing the poetry was a different matter. At the end of two days I was happy with all 4 poems and they were ALL just 80 words (sometimes editing is necessary to success). I wrote about Hercules and Achelous, The Rainbow Lady – A Goddess in Mayan Myth, Welsh myths from Cader Idris. Cader Idris is a mountain in Gwynedd, Wales, found at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. I also wrote a poem based on Urban Myths.

I really enjoyed the evening and there was some great writing born from this challenging prompt. It was a late night and there are currently night works on the main exit roads, making my journey home close to an hour, on a work night! I tried not to let this dampen my spirit last night as it was such an enjoyable evening.

Also Andrew Owens shared the exciting news that rather like my local roads, the bar where he hosts 42 is having a renovation. Hopefully this will leave us with a great new performance space for the rest of the year. The pub has bands playing on the stage weekly too and the room could use some TLC, I am sure the new owners of the pub will do themselves proud. I cannot wait for the unveiling.

42 superhero Most of us are hoping the performance post disappears.

Today I heard that one of my submissions has been unsuccessful, you know when you really want to crack a publication and you submit time again to be rejected… well I have decided that since doing battle in 2014, 2015 and now this year to wait until I find a perfect match between the issue theme and work I have already written because creating to theme in a style that matches the publication doesn’t seem to be working. I will crack it.

I realised whilst playing with diary dates and deadlines that 2016 is in fact my Olympic year. I am in the 4th year of writing (technically 3rd year of poetry – two under the belt), so this will be the year I take stock and so far I think it is fair to say that I am not giving up on wordsmithing, nor will I ever. The 15 years I have taken off in the past was enough and the success and feelings I maintain writing show me that this is the right path. I know I won’t need 16 years to achieve what I am striving for – but still I look forward to taking stock over the next 4 Olympics nevertheless.

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I have also taken some time to compile my set list for Headlining next week and have finally taken my new Kindle Fire out on the open (or not quite so open) road to 42, one of the reasons I wanted one was to use for performing. I look forward to setting it up over the weekend for next week’s readings.

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This weekend I am going to watch Patience Agbabi at The Hive and go to the MAC for the 52 Launch Party before collapsing in a heap and getting some sleep before next week. I hope that the in a night-out a night pattern that fortunately fits the week will keep my head above water.

Patience Agbabi in Worcester

Telling Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing West Midlands

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Back at the very beginning of my writing life in 2013 I attended a WWM (Writing West Midlands) network meeting in Hereford at the Courtyard Theatre, later in the year I went to another one in Oswestry to meet Simon Thirsk (Bloodaxe) & Ian Billings.

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At this meeting I talked to Jonathan Davidson and by January 2014 I had confirmation of working in a voluntary capacity as an Assistant Writer for WWM in Worcester with Ian MacLeod – a Science Fiction writer.

I spent a year and half working in this role and this September I became as the Lead Writer for the Worcester Senior Group of Young Writers, 12-16 yr olds.

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On September 12th I led my first session with this group. It was incredible!

My new Assistant Writer is amazing and eager and we had a good number of participants. The next session I have planned is even better.

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We are rallying for more members so if you are local to Worcester or know people who are, we are interested in having new members. Age 12 -16

Please contact Joanne Penn at Writing West Midlands

Apply through the website http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/

or contact Joanne Penn (Learning and Participation Manager)

Writing West Midlands

Unit 204, Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham,  B9 4AA

T: 0121 246 2774

WWM PINK

Sessions are held once a month, £6.00 per session and classes run inline with the academic year Sept – June – you can join at any point in the year.

We meet in the Oasis Room at The Hive (library) in Worcester.

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RELATED LINKS:

Where it all began – WWM Network Meeting Oswestry – I cannot remember the shoes I was throwing away – but in 2015 my poetry shelves creak with the amount of support I have shown to others (which I course hope will be returned to me on the launch of my own pamphlet)!

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/my-writing-life-vs-sleep/

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

QC
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!

Week 4 September 22nd – 28th

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September has been an extremely busy month – this week was the 100% busy-no-time-to-breathe- week and is probably the last time I will EVER attempt the feat of working FULL TIME and managing 6 back to back events, 5 of which I performed at! start time

On Tuesday I enjoyed Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites, I was really looking forward to the Headliners, Charlie Jordan (has been far too long since I saw her perform) and Jan Smith, who I have seen a few times before. I was also looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere and performing later in the evening. BL RH jACQUI

The atmosphere is always warming and despite my rush to get there after work I was offered seats at the front, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. They are currently selling 2nd hand poetry books to raise awareness for Eye Survive (think I need to try and organise an entire post to explain the cause) it is charity fundraising for someone with rare eye disease that needs money for medical treatment. I hadn’t got any spare cash the last time I made it to the Kitchen Garden. It is a lovely idea, terribly hard to part with poetry books though – have you ever tried it?kitchen_garden_cafe_logokitchengardencafecouk

On Wednesday night there were lots of events happening, the Launch of Barefiction Magazine, Cat Weatherill performing JamFace at the Kitchen Garden, I could have happily camped out under a table, with cake! However, before I discovered these two events I had already BOOKED my tickets for a Worcester Litfest Event at the Hive, watching (not to be missed) poet – Elvis McGonagall, who was supported by three good friends, Maggie Doyle – Poet Laureate Emeritus, Fergus McGonigal (no relation to Elvis) and current Worcester Poet Laureate – and runner up Claire Walker. The three of them delighted a full studio theatre with three very different styles of poetry. I would have paid just for that show – but as a bonus I was treated to the crazy poetry world Elvis McGonagall inhabits!

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What a show indeed – do NOT miss out on an opportunity to see this poet! I am still buzzing thinking about this evening! Truly brilliant! Elvis McGonagall Wenlock Edge

© 2014 Wenlock Edge

World Poetry Slam Champion 2006, UK Slam Champion 2006

UK All-comers’ Poetry Slam Champion 2004

‘funny, angry and tightly written…McGonagall combines anger, polish and carefully crafted verse in a way which recalls John Cooper Clarke’ 4-star The Scotsman

‘verses shot through with a moral umbrage and rhetorical power…a bracing throwback to the days when comedy made room for militant eccentrics with a knack for scansion and a bolshie hankering to change the world’ 4-star The Guardian

‘side-splittingly funny’ The Reading Rant

On Thursday night (don’t forget this is after a full day in the classroom and this week I worked with Year 6 as well as rest of KS1 & 2 and Early Years) I had my own set at Naked Lungs.

I had to open the event at Cherry Reds – which is always a hard/horrible spot to take, at least I was confident in my material/ chosen set. 1 nl 1 nl2

I got a positive reaction and funnily enough – despite basing the set on the lighter more entertaining poetry that seemed to go down well last month, people talked to me about my two serious poems.

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It turned into a great night and there were some amazing performances from Jess Green, who was absolutely amazing and fresh back down from Edinburgh, you might know her Mr Gove Poetry. Andy Owen Cook, Kev Eadie, myself – Nina Lewis, and Tim Fletcher showed us all how a guitar should be played! WOW! Jaw dropping stuff!

The great thing about going first is that you can then sit back, relax and enjoy! Thanks to Joe Whitehouse and Chris Baker for this opportunity.

Naked Lungs

On Friday I unfortunately missed Kevin Brooke’s book launch of JIMMY CRICKET – which took place in the Hive library and I have heard nothing but great things about this event ever since. Check out this article Worcester News

However, I was working in the city and didn’t leave until gone 5pm. It took a long time at that time on a Friday to crawl towards the city centre. I needed to eat and had time to pull in and buy a burger – fed up of a week where it was work – perform and little time to rehearse beforehand, I decided to take some minutes out – sit and sort the set. I ran through it a few times to time it and only had to drive around a few times for a parking space.

Then I went to Word Up, Ddotti has changed venue and it has been so long since I have been that I hadn’t gone to the new venue for Word Up. I had been there – last year when I did Camp NaNoWriMo we had our meets there where everyone typed at the same time.

I did discover that the Coffee Lounge sells amazing strawberry milkshakes and I had a great time downstairs in Word Up.

coffee loungecoffee lounge 8

On Saturday, Clive Dee had invited me to join him at Carnival Records for his 100,000 Poets for Change event, which I was delighted and excited to be part of. I had spent most of September seeing international posts about 100,000 Poets for Change and wanted to participate somehow.

100 thou catherine Crosswell Catherine Crosswell 100 thou Karen Langley  Karen Langley

100 thou Lounge Toad Lounge Toad 100 tho

100 thou Myfanwy Fox MyFanwy Fox 100 thou shop 100 thou the brickshed The Brickshed

I did struggle to get up, my body begging to lie in after my busy week! Which was a shame because I missed some of the other performers I wanted to see. I did get to spend the last few hours soaking up the buzz at Carnival Records, the independent record store itself is worth a visit, in the pretty town of Malvern. In the Vinyl room I found a DOORS book I have never read and had to buy it! carnival records 100000 poets  carnival

I also managed to buy the PERFECT dress for my brother’s wedding, next weekend.

On Sunday there was a Scarecrow Festival in Belbroughton, which is an annual village event and always worth a visit. This year the theme was films and I loved finding minion after minion around the displays. I have photos to upload soon.

adameve After scarecrows I rushed across to the city to Sunday Xpress at the Adam and Eve – part of Birmingham Poetry Festival with headliner Ash Dickinson

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.

I missed Ash when he headlined at SpeakEasy earlier this year and although I arrived too late to catch most of the performers I was still allowed to perform, which was good because Ash said he enjoyed my set. One of my poems about Hairs linked with his poem about Body Image well. It was definitely worth the trip to go and see him.

1 Ash Dickinson

I was so tired by the time I reached home, I had hoped to catch Lorna Meehan in her One Woman Show at the MAC – but I couldn’t have managed to stay awake for an 8pm show.

It was a great weekend, the perfect end to a busy, productive, creative week.

I also received some great news about my current manuscript, I will spend October busily writing this.

There is also an Arts All Over the Place Festival taking place next week – starting National Poetry Day (2nd Oct) and finishing on 10th Mental Health Awareness Day – ‘Poetry, Performance (and Everything Else) Festival’. I sent an email to Rachel Green offering my services as workshop facilitator or performer. I spoke about a workshop, unfortunately I could not make the schedule as it is the one day I am contracted to teach music in a school.  Madhatter