I cannot believe it is the end of November already. I have marked it with a great night in Worcester at an ‘Arthur Rackham’ themed 42. Great to see some new faces too.
This month has been abundant with opportunities and I am witnessing the domino effect. There is a lot to review and I am busy with end of month submissions, so this post has recently been updated and completed.
REVIEW OF NOVEMBER
I finally managed to get back over to Permission to Speak, where David Calcutt was headlining with his V. Press Pamphlet ‘The Old Man in the House of Bone’.
It was a great night and I performed some new work written from An Atomic Sun Workshop facilitated by Antony Owen that I attended earlier this year. Writing about Hiroshima takes time and finding places where it is comfortable enough to know you can perform it, is the next challenge. They worked. People were reminded.
Antony Owen and myself (along with many other writers) have work in a Shabda Press anthology. Accepted a while ago, contracts signed in Spring, we are happily approaching proof and publication and it should be out February time. There are big issues that we must not shy away from, but it can be a lonely place, it is great to meet like-minded writers. I have to say that Antony writes from the heart and everything he writes matters socially, whereas my political poems come and go.
Writing about such horrific histories can be hard without support of those around you.
I did lots of writing this week and with working, found I was too exhausted after October to manage evening events on top. I missed them. Forgave myself and spent time at the desk.
I had my writing group, which over the past fortnight has taken time preparing. I spent hours researching for topical writing tasks for the Writing West Midlands group and structuring the session and resources, they all seemed to enjoy it and we had some new members too. Even treated them to some time in the book booth windows to write outside of the space. My group discovered an interesting Jukebox on display and created all sorts of ideas about what it was really.
Mr G. and I went to another big gig.
I completed an interesting challenge set by Helen Calcutt and was rewarded with two new poems, one that stands out well, was performed at SpeakEasy and will be published.
I attended my first Birmingham Stanza at Waterstones, run by Roz Goddard. Jane Commane was the invited guest talking about publishing. It was an enjoyable evening and I was able to take another recently penned poem for some editing support. In fact I spent most of my week at Waterstones.
I missed HOWL as I was working and already had 48 hours with double events. Let me state – I am too old for double event nights!
I went to SpeakEasy in Worcester to see Ben Parker Feature and buy his new book. It was a great night of poetry, thoroughly enjoyed and lovely to see Ben again. I missed the last chance to see him as Mr G and I were away when he organised his poetry event at the Swan Theatre, where he is poet in residence. I first met Ben at the end of his poetry residency at Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum at his Worcester LitFest event two years ago.
I cannot wait to read his new collection ‘The Amazing Lost Man’, which was released November 1st.
In this startling and energetic first collection, Ben Parker explores real and imagined territories and reports back in poems that are both darkly funny and vividly descriptive. Combing concision with a surreal lyricism, the worlds of The Amazing Lost Man are at once strange and familiar, while the central sequence of ‘Insomnia Postcards’ is a joyous clash of the quotidian and the bizarre. These poems have a subtle music, and a confident voice that draws the reader in. (cover)
I know the rule is never judge a book by the cover and I tend not to. Fortunately there is no rule about falling in love with a cover and I have. It is much brighter in reality – buy one and see. https://store.eyewearpublishing.com/products/the-amazing-lost-man
More from Ben here http://www.benparkerpoetry.co.uk/about
My recent poetry book buys have been piling up as I have spent the past few months invested in a crime novel with a bitterly disappointing ending (I still do not know who the murderer was)! Back to poetry for a while.
It is also good to hear when your poetry inspires others;
Big thank you to Suz Winspear, Nina Lewis and Lauren Hill. Those poems of heartbreak inspired me to write my first new prose in five months, while sat in the audience!
Afterwards I rushed out to the sticks to celebrate a friend’s birthday, made it in time for cake and just before the bar closed for drinks.
The following night I went to the Poetry Business – Poet Laureate Choice Readings at Waterstones Birmingham. The Poetry Business publish under smith/doorstop imprint.
“One of the most vital and vitalising literature organisations in the country”
The Laureate’s choice 2016, picked by (of course) Carol Ann Duffy.
The four winning pamphlets are:
Geraldine Clarkson’s ‘Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament’
Zeina Hashem Beck’s ‘There Was and How Much There Was’
Mark Pajak’s ‘Spitting Distance’
Tom Sastry’s ‘Complicity’
I am lucky enough to know Tom through Jo Bell’s 52 project (2014) and have met Geraldine a few times since this new life started in 2013, although this was the first time we had properly met for some time. Nice to be remembered though.
It was wonderful to meet Mark and always good to expand the world of known poets, he was smashing to talk to and I will remember his early morning running and the bear. When in the states (Yosemite), 2015 I had a running mantra ‘Let me see a bear, let me be at a point of safety’… I did see a bear and her cub, I was on one of many transport buses at the time (thank goodness) – as up close and personal as I wanted to get!
Zeina’s video performance from Dubai kicked off the evening, impressive, soul-driven poetry and from there we enjoyed a live set from the PB poets. It was a pleasant evening and they have since celebrated again in Bristol and I have only heard good things about that event too.
There is currently a special offer – just in time for Christmas – you can buy all 4 pamphlets for just £20.00
‘Geraldine Clarkson’s poems are musical, often playful incantations that delight in the power of words. Formally inventive and vivid with natural imagery.’ – Carol Ann Duffy
© 2016 Robert Harper
Zeina Hashem Beck’s ‘There Was and How Much There Was’
‘Whether drawing on myth or fairytale, or writing directly from women’s experience, these are powerful poems by a new writer with a remarkable gift for storytelling.’ – Carol Ann Duffy
‘Mark Pajak’s skilful poems keep themselves open, especially to childhood and adolescent experience. Even so, they are far from frail – their insight and imaginative verve make them robust as well as eloquent.’ – Carol Ann Duffy
© 2016 Robert Harper
‘Tom Sastry navigates the mysterious everyday in this honest and often funny collection, making friendships and love affairs new and strange.’ – Carol Ann Duffy
© 2016 Robert Harper
Mark also won the Bridport Prize this year with ‘Spitting Distance’.
After this event I rushed to the other side of Birmingham to perform from Fragile Houses, my own pamphlet at Spoken Word at the Ort. It was a fabulous night, run by Debbie Aldous. It always feels like coming home.
I am too old for consecutive nights of double bookings though.
The next evening I was back in Waterstones (told you I need a bed there) for a wonderful evening with Indigo Dreams poets, also doing a whistle stop reading tour.
It was a fabulous evening and a pleasure to meet Kate, Mab and Bethany W Pope, all of whom I knew of but hadn’t met and the lovely Bethany Rivers, who I met at a Writers Network event hosted by WWM back in 2013 and know from poeting in Shropshire, where she does a lot of work. I can highly recommend all their pamphlets. I am currently reading ‘Off the Wall’ By Bethany Rivers.
This evening was delightful, a magical experience and a thoroughly enjoyable Q & A after the readings. Powerful poets doing what they do best.
I shared the evening with Claire Walker and Holly Magill and it was special.
I also received news that I had won 2nd place in the Museum of Royal Worcester Poetry Challenge and I had to keep this a secret, even the judges didn’t know as it truly was judged anonymously by the panel. It was so hard not telling anyone and slightly awkward as I was going to see Claire Walker headline at Poetry Café Refreshed in Cheltenham on the same night as the awards/reading. This wasn’t quite as hard as keeping my publishing opportunity quiet, but I just wanted to celebrate the success openly!
I made some submissions, finally! And enjoyed Licensed to Rhyme, where Emma Purshouse was headlining. She has just won a book award too.
I Once Knew a Poem who Wore a Hat Emma Purshouse and Catherine Pascall Moore
Lots of wonderful imaginative and outrageous poems in this collection which is full of the charms and idiosyncrasies of childhood. It’s easy to see how children could love these breezy poems and become attached to them. One could easily imagine them being learnt by heart and repeated in playgrounds. The illustrations by Catherine Pascall Moore are quirky and appropriate. The hints about, for example, the best way to learn a poem or how to speak a poem aloud, are unusual in a book of this sort and never patronising.
A first was VIP invite to the Verve Poetry Festival Launch – I will be telling you lots more about the festival throughout the coming months. Luke Kennard
I love watching Luke perform, dynamic doesn’t cover it – you may notice a group of us chatting – we are not talking through his set – here he is preparing to dive in!
The event was everything I hoped my first VIP experience would be and along with brilliant performances from Luke and Amerah Saleh.
I spent the evening eating divine V cakes and mingling with many people, also had the pleasure of meeting some people for the first time.
The tickets were live within 24 hours and I have already bought my festival pass for February. I also plan on doing as many workshops as I can and all of this has happened just in time – for Christmas I have asked for Verve to be gifted back to me… so although with transport etc. I will be running up a bill, the tab is already paid for. Result.
Find out all about the festival and buy tickets here http://vervepoetryfestival.com/
The night after this was the Poetry Challenge event at the Museum – Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum. Which was a lovely event facilitated by Suz Winspear (Poet in Residence) and the Museum.
Prize winning treats – unexpected and beautiful.
It was an absolute joy to surprise all the judges who had chosen the winning poems without knowing who wrote them. I was delighted to be placed and loved the fact the winner and my fellow runner up, Shelagh Wain (from Burton-on-Trent), were poets I did not know.
Georgina Byrne (first place – Winner) had never written a poem before. Here is the article Worcester News
You can read Georgina Byrne’s poem here http://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/winner-of-the-poetry-challenge/
The event was a lovely, relaxing evening of poetry and it was great to have the judges perform alongside the poetry challenge winners. The museum was also open to have a browse around, a treasure trove of porcelain. I love it there, it gives me the same feeling libraries do. (Imagine – chocolate cake…)
The next night was the Poetry Parlour at Waterstones, I had planned to go but after work and the busy month so far – I missed it. Roy McFarlane was the Poetry Parlour this month, once again I have heard positive reviews about this evening from the open mic-ers.
I spent time writing a current piece that cannot yet be disclosed. Looked over a manuscript for someone and finally, on Sunday went to perform at Open Poetry Walsall Arboretum. Which was a great way to finish a ram-packed week! Relaxing to poetry and afterwards having a quick drink in a pub with poets.
Missed Shrewsbury Literature Festival completely having only found out about it a few weeks ago. I made it back to Poetry Bites which I have not been able to go to for a long time.
Prepped for The Book Party. Post-book launch open mic event where I showed 4 exclusive poetry films and one that has already been shared publically, from Fragile Houses. It was an intimate affair and a great night. Sadly a lot of people couldn’t make it in the end, but it was a perfect evening of poetry and friends. We all enjoyed each other’s poems and I am (as always) delighted when my poetry circles meet for the first time. Glad I have given some more people Lesley Ingram and John Mills and some more Worcestershire poets are now known to them.
I was touched by everyone supporting and participating in this evening of poetry, had a gorgeous bouquet (thanks Anne Milton), a poem written about Fragile Houses (thanks Charley Barnes) and good friends who travelled great distances to be there.
Suz Winspear & Mogs performing – photography Charley Barnes
The next night I had to miss Stanza (for the 2nd month running) as I was at a Book Launch in Birmingham. For ‘Womanly Words’ an anthology of poetry (20 female poets) produced by Shakti Women.
It was an incredibly absorbing evening – I missed a lot of readings whilst driving around in circles trying to park. A relaxed affair around a huge conference table laden with scrabble, sweets, cakes, champagne and soulful women. It was great that a people came just to listen and that so many of the 20 poets in the anthology were able to make the event. It was lovely reconnecting with everyone.
I was unable to participate throughout the year as much as I would have liked due to working on editing Fragile Houses. There are plans afoot already for 2017 though. It was great meeting some of my fellow anthology poets and just spending time chatting with like-minded activists.
I am a little in love with this book. Well done to Zara Walker for her impressive design work on this gem.
Siobhan and Cheryl even sent us away with goodie bags!
After this event, I was asked to do Radio (for the 2nd time this year), I would have loved to have read my poem on air, but after the excitement of this week’s events and my need to be at home and with Mr.G, added to the fact that it wasn’t local and everybody has started Christmas shopping on Saturdays, I sadly passed up this opportunity. I am kicking myself now a bit.
I spent the weekend at home with Mr G and fitted in a little poetry writing and film making time.
I also received news of 2 exciting opportunities for 2017, that for now I have to keep quiet. (There is a pattern emerging here!)
And I have finished off the month at 42 with an inspiring evening of writing on the theme of ‘Arthur Rackham’s Brain’. Many of us had completed enjoyable research into the works of this artist. As a child I experienced his Wind in the Willows and my poems were written whilst considering his artwork ‘Mischief’, illustrations for ‘The Old Lady in the Wood’ and ‘Undine’. I was pleased with the resulting poems and had some positive feedback on them. A fabulous event to complete the month – literally – on the 30th!