Tag Archives: The Poetry Lounge in The Sitting Room

January in Review

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typewriter-1227357_1280 2017 started well with lots of diary dates, events and writing time. Of course it was also back to work after a fortnight (unpaid) break. Much needed. I made it back to Ludlow to support Claire Walker who was one of the Headline poets alongside Matt Black. A little like not realising two years had passed since I last watched Ash Dickinson perform, I cannot believe a year has passed since I last went to the Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room! This time warp has to do with working for 18 months on Fragile Houses I think. Months slip by fast and the first thing that has to go when you shackle yourself to the desk to write is faraway events.

Week 1:

Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin in Ludlow, it was lovely to see everybody again and I hope to make it back before 2018. Matt Black (who I first years ago at a special event we both performed at The Ort in Birmingham  (2014), more recently we shared the floor in Birmingham at Stirchley Speaks (my Headline, back in October). headline-stirchley-speaks-oct

He was entertaining and as we had all had a conversation about vegetarianism on the journey over, apt poems in his set made us giggle.

Claire Walker was amazing, I do not think I will ever tire of hearing her perform from The Girl Who Grew into a Crocodile. She also treated us to some new poems from her next pamphlet collection.sitting room

I completed a lot of research for current writing projects and groups. I also completed a collaborative project set up in December and worked hard on submitting poetry. I had fun writing about Leonard Cohen and am keeping my fingers crossed that the editors will enjoy the results.

I missed Buzzwords in Cheltenham.

Week 2:

In December I submitted to 7 places and the rejections rolled in from 3 of them this week. We all learn to handle this but one publication in particular was dealing with a subject close to my heart and it made me a little glum that they hadn’t taken my work. They did send feedback including details of the process that the poem they nearly took went through. I will not be perturbed. Another rejection cited that the pieces weren’t best fit this time but encouraged resubmission.

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Back in 2015 I had three poems accepted for an anthology by Shabda Press on Nuclear Impact. We all signed contracts in 2016 and it has been a real labour of love for Teresa Mei Chuc who has now got the project to final proof stages. All proof read and returned and I cannot wait to see the result. The readings are all taking place in the States but I am currently looking at the logistics of video performance.

The cover has been revealed featuring the Artwork of John Sokol. Cover Art: “On the Road to Perilous” nuclear-impact-front-cover-final-cover-art-on-the-road-to-perilous-by-john-sokol I could write more poems just from a glance. This book will hopefully be in our hands later this year.

I went to SpeakEasy – where Brenda Read-Brown was headlining and what a set she treated us to. New work, powerful work, emotive (I nearly cried twice), honest and filled with passion. I was really glad that I was able to make it and witness such a performance.

I shared some new poems and gave Fragile Houses a rest, most of Worcester have bought it already and as I headlined last month and read most of it and as the last poem in there was written in 2015, I fancied sharing something newer.

I went to Stanza although I was so tired I was not much use to others and the poem I had written half an hour before leaving didn’t quite work. I do not see the point of taking perfectly polished work to groups – unless perhaps it’s a poem that has been unsuccessfully submitted a few times, in which case new eyes are good. However, I need to give my writing a chance to sit and simmer for a bit so perhaps I should try this year to get a poem ready the week before. Give it some breathing space. It is hard when you feel so attached to something, too vulnerable.

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Sadly at the weekend I said goodbye to Sally Grainger who has been my Assistant Writer for WWM Spark Writers group for the past 9 months. We had a full house for her final session and ran a great group on Scriptwriting. It was fun. I am sad to see her go.

I received exciting news about a new Literature Festival which I am currently organising a showcase/event for.

Week 3:

I spent my time mainly at work, in spare hours I was organising the festival event, missing deadlines, proof reading and writing comic poetry.

Last year I was invited to take part in a one off (now to be repeated as it was so successful) Baldy Poems presents Kings and Queens of Comedy in association with WLF (Worcester LitFest). I love the idea that WLF are fundraising via event charge at one off events throughout the year to help fund/pay for the summer festival. It is a great idea and I have loved the events that have popped up so far.

I was honoured to be one of the 6 performers (we had 8 on the night with Kieran Davis and a Special Surprise Guest joining us). I have only written about 5 funny poems and the two I had ready for this event have not seen the light of day since 2015, so I decided to emulate BaldyPoems style and kick out 6 new ones. That and I needed the material to cover a 10 minute set. More on this later.

I missed David Calcutt at Smokey Joes in Cheltenham – Poetry Refreshed and sadly I missed Clive Osman’s Waterstones book launch for his debut collection ‘Happy’. Both nights looked to be good. I had taken on extra work and with a gig Thursday night and Friday needed to sleep.

After almost 2 weeks of working full-time, I finally finished on Thursday at 5:30 and then headed over to Birmingham with Mr G and a friend, in birthday celebration mode. We went to see THE BLUE AEROPLANES at the Hare and Hounds (where UB40 played their first gig) and it was exceptional. I am so glad that I was filled with the charm of performance because it set me up for the following evening for Kings and Queens of Comedy.

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I was so nervous – worried that the audience wouldn’t find the dusted off material funny, But I forgot the universal appeal of my moustache poem, the magic of proto-type props and the delight of people who have never heard this one before. It was also funny because people who know me know that I am funny, I just do things that amuse people as I have no logical bone in my body and I have a quick, dry, wordy wit… in fact there was a turning point once upon a time between poet and comedian. The world breathes a sigh of relief.

Anyway because a lot of people now on the scene weren’t back in 2014 when I played the clown a little more, they didn’t see me as a funny poet and were quite shocked at the billing. There are now at least two people who will never take me seriously again!

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To read a full review of the evening click here

And then I had a well deserved weekend off to catch up with Mr G and writing.

Week 4:

Saw happy news and my first acceptance of 2017. That collaborative project I mentioned earlier was with Claire Walker. The result was a meeting about prompts, shared ideas, word lists and after writing editing together. After a few weeks we had a poem written by each of us from working with the other and a joint poem written line by line. The acceptance was a the poem Claire Walker wrote called ‘The Puzzle of an Ending’, a beautiful title and a hard hitting poem. It was the strongest of the collaboration.

It delights me that it exists because of an opportunity I found and a risk I took (asking another poet to partner me and risk rejection, that lack of self-belief/inner critic we all have to deal with). Fortunately, Claire was only too happy and we enjoyed this rather intense poetry pocket in our otherwise Christmassy/family orientated holidays. There will be more to come. And I am doing something here I first dreamed of in 2014. Happy.

I spent the night, along with many poetry friends at the Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham for Jacqui Rowe’s ‘Poetry Bites’. The featured poets were David Calcutt & Claire Walker (fellow V. Press poets) and Jacqui announced (which most of us already knew) that they are going to publish her first collection this year too. Her ‘Ransom Notes’ was the first pamphlet of the run in 2015 from the round I applied successfully for in 2014.

ransom Poetry Bites was a packed out night, it is so sad that this is Jacqui’s final year, but it is a phenomenal achievement to have hosted and supported such an abundant amount of poets over the years. The atmosphere was great and there were some top class floor spots as well as a V. Press collective, Kathy Gee was also reading from her collection Book of Bones.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Brumside poets I had not seen in a while, as well as listening to some inspiring and thought provoking sets.

Maybe it was the double dose of Americano coffee, or the Kitchen Garden cake… I came away buzzing and refuelled with an extra layer of poet-y energy!

42

I wrote new poems for Burn’s Night, which was celebrated at 42, in Worcester on the 25th. I even made a badge – Lewis tartan, of course. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about this 18th Century rascal. It was a great night, intimate and full of heart – but not lungs or liver (haggis pun)!

I missed a workshop with Ash Dickinson, that had I not been performing in the Quiet Compere/ Wolverhampton Literature Festival the following night, I may have tried to get to. It was just a little out of range geographically and no way I could have got myself there on time after work without the help of a helicopter and pilot… neither of which I have. Oh, to be a rich girl! So I just have to brush away the disappointment and hope for another opportunity in the future.

This brings us to the finale of the poeting week – the first literature festival to be held in Wolverhampton and a great line up of events across all genres. I was lucky enough to be one of the ten poets on the bill for Sarah Dixon’s Quiet Compere Event at the Art Gallery on Friday evening.

What an evening it was. Fabulous line-up, including two poets who are new to me (always a pleasure), Tom McColl & Gerry Potter. What a venue, the room was majestic and had one of the best backdrops to poetry I have ever seen. The setting was incredible. It was a wonderful night and I was still buzzing the next day. You can read the full review of the event and find out more about the performers here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/quiet-compere-wolverhampton-literature-festival/

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I got home to find emails about up and coming books and spent a while chatting to the other buzzing poets online. A fine night.

walsall-arboretum I finished my weekend at Open Poetry at Walsall Arboretum with David Calcutt and an amazing number of poets on Sunday. Despite the horrible rain, bad driving conditions and leaving a ton of work on the To Do List, I headed out for some poeting fun.

It was a great couple of hours, lots of moving and humorous work was shared. I met some new poets and saw John Mills, who had battled the unnavigable roads of Walsall to experience David’s event for the first time. walsall-arb © 2016 Walsall Arboretum

Then I spent a horrendous amount of time sorting out unread and unmanaged emails instead of completing applications which I now need to do tomorrow after work. There are lots of deadlines in the next 72 hours and I plan to hit them all.

Wolverhampton Literature Festival finished with a Poetry Slam that Nick Lovell won and Willis – a.k.a Rick Sanders came 2nd and Rob Francis, 3rd. Well done, boys! An all male sweep. I was sad not to be able to go to the festival this year. Other plans had already been made. Hopefully they will do another one next year.

The Extra Few (Writing) Days

Mainly spent Monday night at the computer pulling a 6 hour shift (after a day at work), writing new material, researching, organising events, writing applications and submitting. There are so many end of month submissions and I have been busy enjoying myself and thinking the end of the month was a while away yet and here we are. I am pleased that I have managed a few more submissions as I have not been keeping the resolution of weekly output, as advised by another poet.

Obviously there is a certain amount of selectivity both in terms of material, feel, attitude, time etc. My aim is for monthly submissions, which should be entirely achievable – as the months missed last year were to do with the final editing process of the pamphlet.

I will spend the final day of the month (in the evening, after work) getting productive with my next To Do List and making final submissions too.

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There are so many exciting things planned for February already, I can hardly believe we have reached the end of January!

I hope you had a good one, filled with spirit and joy …. oh and writing!

 

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Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room -July 7th

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Nadia Kingsley & Keith Chandler at The Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room with Jean Atkin, Ludlow – 7th July

Still catching up with blog posts for events in time past – so a couple of weeks ago (7th July) I went to Ludlow to see Nadia Kingsley and Keith Chandler headline at The Poetry Lounge – with Jean Atkin, in the new home – still in the Sitting Room – it was quite funny imagining the venue with legs trundling across town.

poetry lounge july

A lovely new venue it is too and as we have the upstairs room we have less ambient noise to contend with than before. The Blue Boar was fairly easy to find, central and is a lovely pub.

blue boar© 2015 Shropshire Star

Nadia Kingsley was headlining back in January and sadly wasn’t well enough back then. She was on top form on Tuesday night though. I was invited to headline in her place, back in January (my first headline slot) with Bert Flitcroft, so I was doubly glad I managed to catch Nadia’s performance.

It was also great to discover Keith Chandler, I am almost certain I have come across him on this Poetry Odyssey at some point. I bought his pamphlet, ‘The Grandpa Years’, published by Fair Acre, a gorgeous little publication that Nadia said reminded her of the sort of pocket size books some granddad’s carry around with them. I had a brief conversation about Poetry with Keith and I was grateful because there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to him.

Bootie july I bought the latest copy of Robert Harper’s brilliant magazine BARE FICTION too.

It was a great night! Shropshire oozes talent and I hadn’t been able to get back up to see people for so long that on a social level alone it was a phenomenal night and the following evening Jean and I were both going to Ledbury Poetry Festival too. I always get that ‘Christmas Eve’ feeling when there are back to back events with the same poetry friends, almost like the pre- sleep-over excitement of a child. Guess I am still a child!

Here’s what Jean Atkin said about the Guest Poets;

We’re so pleased that Nadia Kingsley will be reading for us as a Guest Poet. Nadia has performed at Wenlock Poetry Festival in 2011, 2012, and 2014 – and is published in the anthologies of each of these years. Her poetry has been published in Orbis magazine, Poetry Cornwall, the environmental anthology We’re all in this together (Offa’s Press), and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She managed and wrote poems for the fabulous show ‘Expanding the Universe’ which has been touring the West Midlands this spring.

She’s won prizes for her flash fiction and short stories and her photography, textile art and brick sculpture have been exhibited in the Cotswolds, Birmingham, Brighton and London.

Nadia also runs the very successful Fair Acre Press.

© 2015 Jean Atkin

Nadia is a gem of the poetry world and I always enjoy hearing and reading her work. This set took us through the seasons and plants which play an important role at throughout the year. Segments from a bigger artistic collaboration she has been working on.

Our other Guest Poet for July will be Keith Chandler, who has many awards, accolades and publications to his name, not least being 4th in the National Poetry Competition a couple of years ago. His most recent book is the very well received ‘The Grandpa Years’ from Fair Acre Press. Keith is a very modest poet, so if you haven’t heard him, you’re really in for a treat. It’s fine work, brimming with humanity. And then there is that bone-dry, self-deprecating humour.

© 2015 Jean Atkin

It was a wonderful reading and there was not a person in the room really who couldn’t associate with the resonating emotion and family connections he explored in his pamphlet.

As always there was also abundant talent from the open mic slots shared by;

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Graham Attenborough

Adrian Perks adrian rob

Gaia-Rose Harper Gaia-Rose Harper

Nina Lewis (me)me rob 

We managed to convince Jean Atkin to share one with us too.

jean robJean Atkin

Steve Harrisonsteve h rob

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Photography © 2015 Robert Harper

Steve Griffithsjean steve G

jean  Miriam Crane Obrey

Miriam Crane Obrey

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

Robert Harper Robert adrian

Photography © 2015 Adrian Perks

 plus a short slot for Helen Barratt, read by John Barratt,

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Keith Chandler Photography © 2015 Robert Harper Nadia Adrian Perks

Nadia Kingsley Photography © 2015 Adrian Perksnadia robert

Photography © 2015 Robert Harper

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Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

jean Nadia

Photography © 2015 Jean Atkin

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A superb evening – and of course now I have time to look forward to the next one – where I will (once again) be seeing John Hegley – who I believe has transformed into some sort of bus – having not seen him for 18 years and then 3 times in 4 months!

Poetry Lounge in The Sitting Room

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Sometimes your mind is just in the right place, or the room has the perfect mix of people or the atmosphere is calm and pleasing… whatever it was last night – a combination of all three perhaps, Poetry Lounge was magic!

I was excited to hear the featured poets Angela France and Andrew Fusek Peters and was delighted they were both on the bill together. I also had a pre-booked open mic spot (although I changed my mind on the set I delivered once I got to the venue). I shared some of my Maya Angelou poems, as well as a political one and a natural world and Restless Bones poem, gave the anthology a plug too.

Jean Atkin hosted the event this evening on her own and Jean’s calm presence and knowing the order of readers helped evoke the atmosphere beyond friendly, into homely territory, it felt like a very special night to be a part of.

It was also lovely to see the Shropshire poets again. Definitely worth the drive – although I wish I felt more like Angela about night drives.

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I love learning about the real lives of poets, with the same awe as children discovering us teachers don’t live in our stock cupboards and that we have a mum and dad too! Touched by new knowledge I wanted to buy one of Andrew’s older publications, ‘May the Angels be With Us’, now out of print, it wasn’t one of the titles he had brought with him to sell, but he sold me the copy he had read from. I know that I could have bought a second hand copy cheaper, but I am all for supporting poets – as I hope to be in the book selling position in the future and would rather see the (small) profit, there was a made-up statistic on TV about only being 10 people in the world making a living from being a poet, I reckon there are a few more, not many though, every little helps.

I enjoyed a great evening of poetry and came home with a scribbled palm of ideas, I do usually pack my notebook for when ideas strike, as they often do listening to poetry. I hadn’t even got my own pen!

It was a great mix of people and work and as a big fan of both Angela and Andrew (can you tell – gush) it was bound to be a fantastic night.

Claire Leavey’s performance was as exceptional as the last one I saw, it was great catching up with her again. I was delighted to meet and discover the poetry of Ted Eames, listen to Steve Griffiths again, both of whom also had books on sale (oh, to be a millionaire…. said the poet)! Martha was a bonus, she had turned up with a book and a notebook of her paternal grandfather and her husband’s grandfather and poetry from the war. As Jean said it was incredible to hear their words 100 years later.

Andrew was so relaxed he performed from the sofa! He was using his photography in slides throughout his performance and didn’t want to stand in front of the images. What wonderful images they were too. He is currently absorbed by the natural world and is discovering new talents. I had no idea he had only been shooting for a year or so, (I just figured, as with myself and many Creatives, he had fingers in many artistic pies), I think this makes his work even more spectacular. He is also entered for a National Award and treated us to that image too.

I guess it comes from his training as a poet – he is incredibly capable of catching the exact moment – akin to choosing the specific word, rather than those that will do. Andrew drew an analogy between poetry verse and a single moment caught in a shot. It was such a touching set.

He peppered it with older poems from his former life writing for children and talked about his brother. The years he was talking about were right back at the beginning of my poetry odyssey, I don’t think I had stepped up to a mic back then, although I was published (and still in school).

Angela France was equally a pleasure to hear / watch again, I have bought her books at previous events already, but there is nothing to beat a poet reading their own poem. She told her story about Laurie Lee and I love that by chance meeting that she had. Being told stories and holding them in her head for years before she could get them down on paper, in a poem. It was lovely to see Angela again, she always inspires me, her writing is so tight, so perfectly fixed together, seamless. I look forward to reading her collections again. She ended with her wonderful poem about night driving and although I understand all the imagery and drove home thinking up her words, I sadly have to admit that the glaring headlights and sharp, fast bends of my own lane journey home, were not so welcomed by me.

I was very tired and trying to concentrate hard with a head full of poetry and ideas is hard work!

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Here is Jean Atkin summing up the evening;

Just back from a great night of poetry at The Poetry Lounge! Guest poets Angela France and Andrew Fusek Peters gave us great sets, with names for herons, 18th century women who gave birth to small furry souterkins, the pursuit of buzzards and reward of hares, and the benedictions of country lanes at night. Also great readings from our open mic slots – Steve Griffiths, Nina Lewis, Claire Leavey, Ted Eames and Martha, who read the poetry of her pacifist grandfather who wrote about WWI, 100 years ago.

The Poetry Lounge in The Sitting Room

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A superb night – an amazing first half, I was totally absorbed, glad I could sit and enjoy, this is not to say the 2nd half wasn’t also great – just treat after treat in the first and perhaps my mind was more attentive (not thinking about the return journey, in the dark)! Great 2nd half too! glad I could sit and enjoy. Good mix of poetry tonight! I had a fab time! It was lovely to see the Shropshire crowd again and although it is a journey across there it is worth it! The atmosphere is warm and I love the venue and all the lampshades. sitting room

And as if that much love wasn’t enough Andrew Fusek Peters was there, I met him at Wenlock Poetry Festival and discovered some of his poetry is from a place I know well…

It was good to hear him read and I got very excited by the prospect of getting a signed copy of his book (which I’d not got enough money for by the end of the day in Much Wenlock)! He didn’t have enough copies.

DIP

© 2014 Random House

 

 

Synopsis

‘This is our day of reconfiguration, where the mist has wiped the sea from the very face of the earth and the sun is swaddled far from the reach of human eye…

In Dip, Andrew Fusek Peters describes an extraordinary year of wild swimming. He leads us to rivers, lakes, waterfalls and hidden pools, into wild waters and untamed landscapes that have the potential to surprise and move us in unexpected ways.

Following in the wake of great writers such as Richard Jeffries and Edward Thomas, Dip combines meditations on place, history and myth with sharp observation and a poet’s eye. It is also a personal journey: swimming through all four seasons, Andrew Fusek Peters surfaces at last from deep depression. Lyrical, honest and incisive, Dip is about the many ways in which immersing ourselves in the elements can restore us to ourselves.

andrew f peters portrait (1 of 1)

About the Author

Britain’s tallest poet, Andrew Fusek Peters has written over 100 books for all ages with his wife, Polly, including award-winning poetry collections, verse novels and fiction. Their work has appeared on Poetry Please and Radio 3 Words & Music, amongst other places. For several years, Andrew was an itinerant arts presenter for Central TV and has enjoyed a varied broadcasting career. Today, he lives and works in Shropshire, where he is passionate about the countryside and addicted to the pleasures of wild swimming.

 Copyright © 2014 The Random House Group, a Penguin Random House Company

http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/9781846044472

This summer he is doing some exciting days DIP Shropshire -workshops that involve wild swims, which is one way he helped stabilise his mind and emotions throughout his depression. I would love to attend one, but I hate swimming, we will see.

Dip Shropshire

It was a fab evening and I discovered several new poets/ artists and lapped up the warm welcome. I think my set was okay and exactly on time so James Sheard didn’t have to evil eye me off the stage! 😉 I only wish I could make the venue closer to home, learn to teleport or employ (a voluntary) poetry chauffeur!

Thanks Deborah Alma & Jean Atkin!

 © 2014 Writing West Midlands

© 2014 Writing West Midlands

 

© 2014 Jean Atkin

© 2014 Jean Atkin