Tag Archives: V Press

December Review

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The end of the year has rolled around fast this year. I feel like my feet have hardly hit the ground! There are so many highlights to 2017, I am gifting them a separate blog post!

I promised myself I would wind poeting down a little in December, especially with Christmas preparations and a house to sort. Plus I have not spent much time with family & friends this year. Now is the perfect time to reconnect. It didn’t quite work out this way, as you can imagine…

Week 1:

The end of November was busy and tiring, so I spent most of my writing day (1st December) resting and completing necessary admin tasks: I completed my next Reader in Residence activity – compiling a list of 12 Reading Challenges for 2018 for Rugby Library users, wrote a blog review for my Writing A Book Review Workshop and booked a repeat of this session for February 2018.

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I continued to work on applications, wrote a few new poems and opened Contour submissions. I got creative with cover design and started prepping the layout (issue 1 took about 4 days to master)!

Contour – the WPL digital magazine is open for the next round of submissions – February Issue.

Contour Issue 2 Preview

Contour Open Submissions

That was just day 1, week 1!

The weekend was just as busy with was a family birthday celebration, an editing group in Cheltenham, the Victorian Christmas Fayre with Mr G. and a trip to Walsall for Yes We Cant with Elvis Mcgonagall, who I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing since 2014! Long overdue. It was a fantastic night, you can read all about it here. (LINK to follow)

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http://www.elvismcgonagall.co.uk/about.htm

Monday Mr G. had a rare day off booked so we accomplished some work around the house.

Tuesday I was back to poeting and a fabulous new Spoken Word event created by Charley Barnes in Worcester, it was a good mix of poetry, spoken word and story. Polly Stretton was the delightful headliner with an assured set of eclectic mix of her work. A warm, exciting atmosphere, a good turn out and a lovely venue. Perfect. Delighted there will be more.

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Wednesday saw a workshop in Stratford which will hopefully lead to something else in January and definitely gave me two working poems which would both be suitable for my next writery idea. I thoroughly enjoy this group and the workshops always deliver some new work for me. I had planned to go to Permission to Speak in the evening, The Black Country Anthology compiled by Emma Purshouse/Offa Press was being compiled and I was really looking forward to several of the billed performers and Roy McFarlane was headlining.

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By the time I got home it was a strain to keep my eyes open and with a fully booked end of week ahead (radio, work, gig, work, stanza, book launch) I felt that I needed to give myself recovery time. Which I did… it may have taken 4 years, but my ‘sensible’ is developing. I did some prep for the Radio and had an early night.

If I forget the journey to the train station, my Thursday was an exceptional one. Helen Calcutt asked me to do Brum Radio back in 2016, we were tried to make a booking which became impossible as I was contracted to work on the days of recordings. Fast forward a few presenters and Rick Sanders has taken on the role of host. He asked me to be a guest a while back and has been busily creative matching poets up together for his shows. Today was the day. It was great fun and I have given the experience a blog post. Read all about it here. (Link to follow)

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Then after getting home I went back to Birmingham – well as far in as Selly Oak for Grizzly Pear. This night usually clashes with SpeakEasy so it took me about 3 years to make it to one and I had not made it back since. At the Verve Launch back in November I discovered Liz Berry would be headlining and immediately put the date in my diary. Unfortunately, it still clashed with a Worcester event, this time Uncorked at Bottles with Bethany (now Beff) Slim, Nick Lovell & Mike Alma headlining. I did go to Uncorked last month, so although I was sad to miss these 3 in headline spots I know I can hear them regularly on the circuit. I am glad to know Holly is better and back in her hosting role. I am sure I will get to hear all about this night soon.

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Having already made the commitment to go, I was delighted to discover Jenna Clake and Susannah Dickey on the same bill. It was tremendous to see the Shropshire contingency out in full force too as well as catching up with local poetry friends. They also had a Haiku Poetry Slam and I came 2nd. The prize was a Verve Festival Workshop – delighted! I have booked 2 already but the chance to do a 3rd, epic! I have written an entire blog here. (Link to follow)

 

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Week 2:

Friday – a day of snow and an evening of poetry, except by the time I was home I knew my mind was too tired to critique poetry so I missed our Christmas Stanza, I hate missing Stanza, but I also dislike it when I am too tired to participate properly and feel like I cannot be of assistance to others. It was the right decision as I fell asleep at 7 PM. I also wanted to be fresh for Claire Walker’s Book Launch the following evening. I think I was suffering after only managing 5 hours sleep after Grizzly Pear and a day of work in the only school that didn’t close for snow!

Saturday saw the much anticipated Book Launch of ‘Somewhere Between Rose & Black’ by Claire Walker, her 2nd V. Press pamphlet.

cwalker rose The Book has already been on sale and I resisted the urge to buy/pre-order my copy. I like to support the launches and buy one on the sizzle of the evening.

Tuesday 12th December was the Michael Marks Awards with V. Press nominated for the Publishers Prize.

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There was a Room 204 party organised in Birmingham, which I would have loved to go to. This was actually cancelled due to the snow.

Thursday SpeakEasy in Worcester, saw Sharon Carr Headline.

 

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Week 3:

Saturday was my last WWM Spark Writers Group for the year. It was also the end of Poetry Events for me before a Christmas Break. Work finished too… not that there has been a lot this term, I can count the days I have had on both hands and still have fingers left over!

I plan to spend my Christmas break preparing for an International Festival, workshops and getting some work done (writing), as well as sorting out the house.

 

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Week 4:

I did indeed manage a fortnight break from all things writing with the exception of organising The Tale of Two Cities, a Poet Laureate Transatlantic Poetry Project.

I read Cherry Pie – Holly McNish’s debut collection. I read it back in 2014 when I went to Wenlock and watched her perform for the first time. I saw her perform twice this year, once at The Hive in Worcester and once at the Town Hall in Birmingham. Love her. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book again. I read a couple of novels I borrowed from the library and started my Christmas read. For the past few years I have chosen a Christmas themed novel for the holidays. This one had all the promises of chick lit… but before the end of the first few chapters I found myself in a whole world of serious issues. About as unchristmassy as you can get! A good read though.

I sent a few poems to Angela France for an event that takes place in January, where I hope to read my poems and set about updating blog posts so when the December Review goes live (later today) there can be active links.

I also had to schedule meetings for early January with regards for several poet laureate events which will all take place before March.

It is hard to believe that I have less than 6 months left in this position! Although a lot of writing time and preparing for the International Festival is set in place post laureateship.

My desk had an annual clean up as we needed the table for Christmas Day! The laptop had a 10 day rest.

Now I am doing the final family visits before New Year and getting organised for a smooth launch into 2018.

I hope you all had a great Christmas.

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Mr G’s snowman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry Swindon Festival Day 1

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Photography Credit: Mark Farley, RJ Museum © 2017

Thursday 5th October (Cont’d)

After a wonderful morning at Artsite… we all headed back to the museum.

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These hats, like Jinny’s balloons feature heavily throughout the Festival!

Back at the Richard Jefferies Museum we had a whole afternoon and evening of events to enjoy and of course – for the team, chores and jobs we needed to get used to quickly.

16:00 to 17:00 POETRY LECTURE RJ Museum Tent-Palace 
In this special lecture, From The Supernatural To The Surreal, Christopher Eddy, philosopher and poet, traces the journey from the one to the other in poems by W.B.Yeats and Dylan Thomas.
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Christopher Eddy provided a lecture, whilst Stephen, Gram and myself busily started preparing for our performance at 5:30 PM.

I was incredibly nervous and felt I needed more than an hour to get my head swapped to performance mode, I needn’t have been so nervous. It was an exceptional event, I am not just saying that because it was our event! People were still talking about it several days later.

17:30 to 18:30 V FORMATION – POETS of V. PRESS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
A celebration of three new and exciting voices in British poetry: Stephen Daniels, Gram Joel Davies and Nina Lewis. Stephen Daniels is the editor of Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. His debut pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them was published in 2017 by V. Press. Gram Joel Davies lives in Devon and his pamphlet, Bolt Down This Earth was V. Press’ Forward Prize nominee for 2017. Nina Lewis is Worcestershire Poet Laureate and her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016.

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We were introduced by Sam Loveless.

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Stephen Daniels

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Gram Joel Davies

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Nina Lewis

 

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Nina Julia Webb

Julia Webb © 2017

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Julia Webb © 2017

Stephen Daniels, the most local poet amongst our formation, read from his recently published pamphlet Tell Mistakes I Love Them, then Gram Joel Davies read from his collection Bolt Down This Earth and finally I took to the ‘Blue Gate’ home-made by the marvellous handy man, Mike Pringle, lectern to read and perform poems from Fragile Houses.

Poetry Swindon was the first festival where I sold my pamphlet last year when it was fresh off the publishers line. I was delighted to have an official space on the book stall again this year along with my fellow V. Press poets.

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We had a great event which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

Then it was time to don the green uniform (RJ T-shirts) and get back to work serving supper before the final show of the day. One I was very much looking forward to as it featured all 3 Resident Poets and I am a big fan of all of them.

 

20:00 to 21:30 READINGS RJ Museum Tent-Palace
Daljit Nagra, Tania Hershman & Jacqui Saphra, our resident poets, perform from their
new work and most recent collections. Plus music from young singer and poet Olivia Tuck.

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Hilda Sheehan introduced the event and poets.

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Olivia Tuck shared her music and then three poets wowed a tent palace and demonstrated why they are this year’s resident poets.

 

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It was a magical evening and a great first night at the festival. I wish I could review it all in more detail, but it was a long while ago and nothing but the emotions stay fresh in my memory. By the end of the 5 days that was Poetry Swindon, I was struggling to remember my name!

I know that I have read and heard Daljit’s work a lot in the past three years and always want to hear it again, it is never quite the same when I read it from the page. I know that I first met Tania Hershman years ago, officially in 2014 at Poetry Swindon when Jo Bell was the resident poet and Tania insisted she was a short story writer and not a poet… fast forward a few years, she has had her first collection published by Nine Arches, so I think Jo was right on that one! Jacqueline Saphra I had the pleasure of meeting just a week before Poetry Swindon, in London at Free Verse, the Poetry Book Fair (which I also need to blog still). I thoroughly enjoyed her reading and discovering more of her work.

Traditionally after every final event Hilda and the team provide FREE toast. That was an experience for us new to the team. The bar remains open and we were serving until bed time.

SPF Toast

 

Shortlisted Michael Marks Award

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I am delighted to share the news that my publishers, V. Press have been shortlisted this year for the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award.

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V. Press is very very delighted to have been shortlisted for the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award.

The award is a highlight of the poetry pamphlet publishing calendar and runs from July to July. The pamphlets that V. Press had in for this year are: Alex Reed’s A Career in Accompaniment, Nina Lewis’ Fragile Houses, David Clarke’s Scare Stories and Stephen Daniels’ Tell Mistakes I Love Them.

It’s been a delight to publish these pamphlets and V. Press is very very proud of all its authors – the press is its writers, readers and all those involved with it, including our fabulous poetry covers from V. Press designer Ruth Stacey.

The Awards will be announced at a dinner at the British Library on Tuesday, 12 December, where Sarah Leavesley will be giving a three minute presentation about the V. Press 2016/17 pamphlet list.

Other presses shortlisted are Mariscat Press, The Poetry Business/Smith Doorstep and Rack Press. The awards are run by The Wordsworth Trust and The British Library, with the generous support of the Michael Marks Charitable Trust, in association with the TLS and Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS), in Washington DC and in Nafplio Greece

© V. Press

Read the full post here and discover the celebratory discount offered on the four titles above.

http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/michael-marks-awards-shortlisting.html

From the Wordsworth Trust:

The Michael Marks Publishers’ Award recognises an outstanding UK publisher of poetry in pamphlet form, based on their publishing programme between 1st July 2016 and 31st July 2017. The judges will take into account the publishers’ philosophy, aims, plans, design ethos and marketing strategy as well as the quality of the poetry.

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Judges’ Comments: The V. Press offering of four remarkably diverse pamphlets included a mix of established and new writers. We fell in love in particular with Alex Reed’s pamphlet ‘A Career in Accompaniment’ about looking after his wife – quiet poems, carefully crafted, with enormous emotional heft and dignity.

The winners, along with the winner of the Illustration Award, will be announced at the Awards Dinner at the British Library on Tuesday 12th December.

© The Wordsworth Trust

https://wordsworth.org.uk/poetry/poetrypamphlets.html

Background Information:

Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets (established 2009) are a set of British literary awards for poetry writing and publishing in pamphlet form. As of 2012, the awards are administered by Wordsworth Trust in association with the British Library and the Times Literary Supplement, and the financial support of the Michael Marks Charitable Trust.

The prize was created to show how effective pamphlets can be in introducing new poetry to readers. The Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney praised the prize’s establishment as “inspired”.

It is an honour to be a small part of this and I wish V. Press every luck on the 12th December, I will all be crossing my fingers for you.

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INKSPILL Guest Poet Interview Stephen Daniels

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1) How long have you been writing?

Not long really. I started writing Poetry in March 2015. I was encouraged to write by my creative writing tutor (and now very good friend) Hilda Sheehan. 

 

2) What tips would you give to someone starting out?

Read – write – read – write – repeat! It is so important to read when you are starting out – I learned more from reading than I ever did writing and it exposes you to different styles. This is what helped me find the writing style that worked for me. 

Secondly, don’t worry about being bad. I think it is important to just write at the beginning – being good should be secondary, that will come with time, but I think most writers struggle with feelings of inadequacy. My advice is to write through it – I think we all have to write the personal, cheesy poetry to break-through to the good stuff! 

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Stephen Daniels had his debut pamphlet published by V. Press in 2017

 

3) Where did ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ start? 

I had written a lot of poetry and had been lucky enough to have much of it published. So I started thinking about what I could do next. I looked at the body of work I had created and realised I had a strong theme running through some of the work and started to pull it together.

I had around 50 poems which were semi-autobiographical, telling tales of my life, my family and my anxieties. I went through them all with some poet friends and whittled down the poems to around 30 and the line ‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’ stood out on one of my poems and I felt like it summed up what I was trying to say.

The poems can be quite devastating, and I liked the idea of optimism running through them – even though some times it can be really, really hard to spot! 

 

4) Why V. Press? (I know you did lots of research – admirably so)

I have read a lot (A LOT) of poetry over the last two and a half years, and I found V. Press by accident, I read a poet called Claire Walker and loved the poem – so I bought her book – which was published by V. Press – I read it in one sitting and fell in love with it.

Claire Walker

My first poetry love! The content was amazing, but I also loved the way the books were produced and I felt a strong affinity with the style of poetry. So I started buying more V. Press books.

I have nearly all of them, and love them all. So when I found out V. Press had an open submission window, I sent them my manuscript. They were the only place I had considered, and thankfully the editor Sarah Leavesley enjoyed my poetry enough to offer to publish it!

 

5) I know we shouldn’t have them, but a favourite poem from your book?

I shall skilfully avoid this question and my own ego – by bowing to the people! One of the biggest surprises of having a book published is the poems that resonate with other people.

The poem that has resonated most with people was not what I expected but it has been a very pleasant surprise and that is ‘Wordslast’ a poem that came out of a Hilda Sheehan workshop… I will share the workshop task below so that you can try it!

Wordslast
 
Now she shouted shutwindow
Shutwindow now she shouted
So I said windowshut
Windowshut I said so
 
Opendoor now please come in I said
I said Please come in now opendoor
Dooropen now she screamed at me
Now at me she screamed dooropen
 
Lockedgate She demanded now
She demanded lockedgate now
I replied gatelocked now
Now gatelocked I replied
 
Now she questioned clearroad
Clearroad now she questioned
Roadclear now I answered incorrectly
Incorrectly I answered roadclear now
 
Wideeyes she pleaded with me
With me she pleaded wideeyes
Eyeswide I struggled to tell her
I struggled to tell her eyeswide
 
Handhold she asked me to
She asked me to handhold
Holdhand I said closing my eyes
Closing my eyes I said holdhand
 
 
(Previously published in ‘And Other Poems’)

Also published and discussed here https://louisacampbellblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/signpost-twelve-wordslast-by-stephen-daniels/

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6) Describe your typical writing day.

I crave a typical writing day!! Unfortunately, like editing, I tend to write in the space in between things. I tend to give myself time in the evenings to write, but if I am struggling to put anything meaningful on paper I always have book nearby as an alternative.

 

7) Where do you write?

Anywhere, I find my best poetry tends to happen when I am watching people – on a train, in a pub, in a park etc. but sometimes an idea just grabs you and you have to write  it there and then. I find that if I don’t capture it at that point, it rarely comes back again!

I always liked Ruth Stone’s story of how she would capture poems… I’m not sure my experience is as intense, but I definitely relate to the experience!

Taken from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Stone) :

As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming . . . ’cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.
The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would “continue on across the landscape looking for another poet.”

 

And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.

 

8) Who are you reading right now?

Books I am enjoying right now include Sinead Morrissey’s collection ‘On Balance’, Pascale Petit’s ‘Mama Amzonica’ and ‘The Nagasaki Elder’ by Antony Owen – a stunning collection of poems published by V. Press earlier this year.

 

 

INKSPILL Guest Poet Interview with Antony Owen

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I talk with Antony about his latest collection The Nagasaki Elder, his work as an Ambassador for CND Peace Education in the U.K, The Coventry Hiroshima Society and his hopes for this incredible book.
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1. How did the idea for writing The Nagasaki Elder come about?

It was less of an idea and more of a promise to a Hibakusha that I would do all I could to raise awareness through poetry about the ghoulish consequences of nuclear weapons.
The seed was planted in 1984 when I watched Threads by a hugely overlooked writer called Barry Hines.

Threads was a BBC docu-drama that caused much controversy about its graphic portrayal of a one-megaton bomb being dropped over Sheffield. This was a working-class city like the one I was from and the people who became victims were my kin, toolmakers, mechanics. Cleaners, wives, mothers and fathers all decimated from the multiple faceted horrors of a nuclear weapon. The bomb depicted in Threads was around 70 times more powerful than the one that detonated over Hiroshima.

By today’s standard of nuclear weapons the one megaton bomb shown in Threads can be made 50-100 times more powerful. It is truly frightening and we cannot bury our heads in the sand. The idea for writing it is to show people what these weapons do and we will not get a 2nd chance to prevent them from ruining the human race and innocent blameless species that have been around long before us.

 

2. How long has this collection taken to write?

About 2 years. I work full time (not relying on poetry for an income) so all my free time was spent pretty much in researching, writing, re-writing etc. An old friend told me once that poetry is endless revision trailing through miles and miles of slush to find the purest, whitest snow.

One of the poems called The Fisherman’s Daughter in The Nagasaki Elder is about writing war poetry and the danger of doing so, if you go too far into the darkness you forget what light feels like. This happened to me and I think it is inevitable when writing about something so devastatingly sad.

 

3. Can you tell us about being an ambassador for CND Peace Education in the UK?

It is a role I take very seriously. The payment is not fiscal but active participation. CND Peace Education exist on minimum funding but maximum collaborative passions. All the people who work there make me very proud and make a pivotal difference to peace education and allowing tomorrows generation to make a difference today.

School students deserve to express themselves, there is no right or wrong answer in peace education, just the route we choose from being informed in a balanced way.

We plan to spend over 150 Billion pounds on weapons of mass destruction yet invest a pittance into peace education resources and peaceful weapons of mass instruction. It is wrong, places like CND Peace Education and the PEN Network deserve more sustainable funding so they can plan for legacies instead of day to day survival. It makes me very frustrated so I am pleased to help CND and will do so to the last.

carousel-cnd© Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

More information on CND Peace Education can be found here.

http://www.cnduk.org/information/peace-education

 

4. How did the Coventry Hiroshima Society help support your peace work. Can you tell us about The Coventry Hiroshima Society?

They nurtured my social conscience with encouragement to pursue a path of peace and express it through poetry. It has helped further tighten the peace links between Coventry and Hiroshima.

The founder, Hideko Okamoto, has done more for peace than anyone else I know. The Coventry Hiroshima Society was a labour of love for Hideko after her time at Warwick University she was impressed with Coventry’s international links and advocation of peace and reconciliation. It moved her, particularly how Coventry which was badly bombed in WW2 remembers the anniversary of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Coventry Hiroshima Society is a beacon of reciprocal remembrance that burns bright through all this human darkness in the world at the moment.

Coventry Cathedral-Statue of Reconciliation

Coventry Cathedral-Statue of Reconciliation  © gcgi.info

 

5. What are your hopes for the collection?

That it touches people, inspires them to research more about nuclear weapons and do something rather than nothing. I want the collection to break down walls and build bridges because we need them more than ever.

 

 

INKSPILL BOOKSHOP Check out the INKSPILL Bookshop for more information and links to Antony’s Poetry Collections including The Nagasaki Elder.

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

Fragile Houses Receives a Sabotage Review

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saboDelighted to share the review of Fragile Houses by Rachel Stirling on Sabotage Reviews.

http://sabotagereviews.com/2017/03/30/fragile-houses-nina-lewis/

 

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!

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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!

 

Fragile Houses The Book Launch

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On October 3rd Fragile Houses, my debut poetry pamphlet was launched at Waterstones Birmingham.

It was a fantastic night and I felt like ‘Christmas Eve’, the next morning it felt like a dream. The morning after felt whimsical and I had to pinch myself to tell that I was awake. This is how a great book launch should feel.

I cannot believe I didn’t blog it straight away, that I didn’t show you all how I felt. That you have had to wait two months for this post.

There was a lot to do before the event and next year I will be blogging about this side of things as I found, through countless hours of research a gap on the practicalities of organising launch events.

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I got to Birmingham with a travel bag of books. I was a bag of nerves, but fortunately had Maggie Doyle and Spoz with me, taking my mind off it.

I wish I had taken a photo of the room and another of the audience. When I stepped into the space, my breath was taken away. We had four comfy, green chairs ready for us at the front (Hays Festival style staging) and more chairs had to be put out for the audience, always a good sign. There were over 25 people there and I was delighted that family and friends had also come to support me. There were three audience members who had seen the advertising and turned up for a free night of poetry and one of them kindly bought my book. So I was able to tick off the unwritten checklist of selling the book to a stranger on the evening of it launching. Happy dance.

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I had asked for Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen and Claire Walker to come and read at the event. Claire started proceedings with a lovely set. I have always been a fan of her poetry (and Roy’s and Antony’s) – one of the many reasons I asked if they would read at the launch.

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My publisher, Sarah Leavesley was also there and made a short and delightful speech that I had to speak after (and she nearly made me cry). I read a selection of poems from the pamphlet, signed and sold lots of books and we all celebrated with wine and cake.

It was an incredible night. It still feels like a dream.

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Signing my first book. The books sold on the launch evening were all numbered as well.


 

Official Launch Photographs were kindly taken by Bernard Davis.

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Here is my post-launch social media message;

A very quick, adrenalin filled THANK YOU to everybody who came to celebrate the launch tonight. Family, friends, poets & general public. Couldn’t have asked for a better event. Room was perfect. Fell in love with that space as soon as I saw the backs of the chairs. Slightly awkward explaining to the general public, who had rushed in that the first half hour was mingle time. Poets never get to chat (learnt that if it is your launch you don’t get to chat either) but think I managed to hug and welcome everyone. Sold more books than no. of people in attendance, thanks for the generosity.

Huge, huge thanks to Claire Walker, Roy McFarlane and Antony R Owen who made me swell with heartfelt sets and lots of appreciated sign language from the green chairs. How ‘Hay’ was that?

Thanks to V. Press for publishing Fragile Houses & Sarah Leavesley for her generous words and all the hard work. I managed not to cry the poems, but after that speech it was hard to do the next intro.

Thanks to Maggie Doyle who had my camera and captured that magic writer- editor/ publisher moment, gave me a lift and has been there from almost the very beginning. Thanks to Giovanni Spoz Esposito for the extra lift relay, for supporting the launch and for the delivery of my words elsewhere. Hope they serve well.

Thanks to John who enabled me to tick ‘sell your book to a stranger’. Thanks to everyone. Next stop, headlining Stirchley Speaks tomorrow, along with the wonderful Carl Sealeaf, P Cafe 7.30pm. Signed pamphlets will be available, minus the free muffins & wine.

Also thank you to Waterstones Birmingham and Bernard Davis who stepped in to catch everything through his camera lens. I cannot wait to see the shots!

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As you can see from this photo – the pamphlet costs £5.50 and makes Christmas shopping REALLY easy.

V.Press have currently got Christmas bundles on SALE. Which means for just £7.50 you can be the owner or giver of two pamphlets.

Festive Offer 3: The way home

2 illustrated poetry pamphlets: David Calcutt’s The Old Man in the House of Bone and Nina Lewis’ Fragile Houses for just £7.50 (including P&P in the UK only)