The WLF Team have been busy organising the first online Worcestershire LitFest – we launch on Sunday 13th and as we are hosting events on Zoom – the whole world is invited!
September – that rolled around quickly!
This has definitely been a month of admin tasks and preparation, also finding my feet again since coming home to UK soil. It took a while for my head to leave Australia after my incredible summer trip to Perth Poetry Festival. It has also been a month filled by projects, book launches and celebrating successes – other people’s as well as my own.
Kicked off with being the Half-ender at YES WE CANT in Walsall. The gig I returned to the UK for! It was a cracking night and a pleasure to have been asked to perform.
It was great meeting Rob Barratt and on top of that I had a winning Lotto ticket (£1 – before you all get too excited) and an order for a fab new Poetry T-shirt… looks like Mr. G will have to get me something else for Christmas this year!
Read a full review here YES WE CANT
I had 3 poems published in a new project – which you can read more about in Week 4 of this review. One of the poems was a piece I wrote in Australia, so it is exciting for me to see it already out there.
I arranged meetings and made festival bids for ATOTC and 30-40-60. I was invited to a European Arts Festival in France. I looked at several applications, which I subsequently decided against for now.
I was busy managing INKSPILL, working with our Guest Writers. INKSPILL is our FREE online annual writing retreat which always takes place on the last weekend of October.
Look out for more NEWS on this coming soon!
I had a meeting about Poetry Projects for October and performances in November. I have been asked to take part in two Remembrance events this year, which is an honour.
I went to a Workshop delivered by Emily Wilkinson who is working on The Ring, 21 Miles project. It was a wonderfully creative afternoon which gave me inspiration for poems, so far I have managed to create a poetry film of 9 Haiku which is currently entered in the 21 competition.
A new project LitWorld2 Journal – Pic a Pocket Poems and Flashes is underway. Created by Sarah Leavesley it will feature a weekly poem which has been produced with an image, photo poetry and flash fiction. I am curating the Facebook side of the social media campaign. I created the Facebook group ready and Sarah has worked on a publication schedule. It launches before the end of the month and posts will appear on Fridays.
© Sarah Leavesley
I am very excited about the overall project and delighted to be able to support Sarah on it.
Unfortunately by the end of the week I was quite unwell but I did manage to get to Birmingham for Helen’s Book Launch.
Friday saw the first of this month’s Book Launches. Unable Mother By Helen Calcutt – published by V. Press was launched at Waterstones, Birmingham. It was a deeply moving experience, one you can read all about here UNABLE MOTHER
I had a well deserved (and needed – ill) rest over the weekend with Mr. G. Although I was still at the desk proofing an article and dealing with another which had gone to print. I also worked on some poetry for a project which has been simmering away for a while and needs to be sent next week.
I was still ill – so much so that I visited the Drs. & got meds. It meant I was not well enough to go to Licensed to Rhyme who were celebrating a 2nd Birthday, I didn’t make it over to Brum Stanza for Jacqui Rowe or PTS for Nellie Cole or SpeakEasy for Kevin Brooke or Hereford for H.Arts Gallery and new exhibition by Molly Bythell (my Ledbury PoArtry partner). Failed on five fronts but was successful at getting better. I spent some time in bed, in lots of pain but resting (which is unusually sensible for me). It was a shame to miss so much poetry but I couldn’t have managed any of the journeys getting across to any of these events so had no choice.
Some exciting news hit my inbox, something starting in November and something else that I am in awe of and still grinning from.
Saturday saw the launch of ‘Don’t Oil The Hinges’ the new WPL collection from Heather Wastie. It was a great night and having missed 4 poetry events really made up for my week out in ill-health limbo! You can read all about it here Don’t Oil The Hinges
On Sunday I attended a workshop in Birmingham Waterstones, The Accidental Memoir. It was interesting and gave me two new poems, one new technique and another book for the bookshelf/reading pile.
The Accidental Memoir workshop was taken by Anthony Cropper and we worked through several exercises in the book he co-produced with Eve Makis.
The Accidental Memoir truly is for all: writers and non-writers, teachers and students, the perfect book for anyone seeking inspiration or imaginative ways to explore their own life story.
This innovative concept was developed as an Arts Council project to help people tap into their own lives. Working with diverse groups from refugees to the elderly and prisoners, it has been a resounding success in unearthing stories that otherwise may never have been told.
Harper Collins © 2018
This week I missed several Book Launches and Free Verse (London Book Fair), which I read at last year with Stephen Daniels for V. Press.
A lot of groundwork for INKSPILL started this week. I had an invitation to be part of a panel which I really wanted to do but the date in October is already booked up, I am hoping to be considered for the next one. I still feel angst when dates clash, October is an exceptionally busy month in the poetry calendar and there are several overlapping events.
I worked on promotion for the American A Tale of Two Cities reading, happening at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts on Friday 28th. Very excited to hear how it all goes and hopefully by next year there will be some bigger plans in progress for this project.
I had several project poems to complete and managed to meet deadlines on these. We have all seen the workings of the next part of this project and I will be sharing it with you when I can.
I also did a lot of editing and FINALLY made some submissions. I made the first of several films creating a montage of the Perth Poetry Festival, which will go live before INKSPILL (27th/28th October).
This week also saw my Jinney Ring Sculpture Trail Workshop. This is the 2nd year I have facilitated poetry on the Trail and with some exceptional sculptures our inspiration was easily tapped.
It was a great morning and the techniques/forms I chose to explore were enjoyed by participants. We are now working on our poems for two months and the next stage will be preparing an exhibition at the Jinney Ring which will be up by December.
An invite to perform next month dropped into my Inbox.
I spent the weekend writing to deadlines and working on the next new project for October.
Another week of preparation for INKSPILL and other writing deadlines and missed events like Poetry Bites. I started to promote National Poetry Day (4th October), I am sad to miss an event in Birmingham with Liz Berry, Roy McFarlane & Jane Commane.
This event is also the night the new Birmingham Poet Laureate will be appointed. Still cannot believe Matt Windle has finished this two year role, but we all know how time like this flies! Birmingham Literature Festival National Poetry Day
I am delighted to be booked to perform alongside former and current Worcestershire Poets Laureate, as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival for National Poetry Day.
Back in July I had an invite to read at Livres à vous – A Festival of the Arts in Voiron, France. I wasn’t sure it would be possible and it took a while to make the decisions about travel. Coach and train is fairly cheap but takes a long time and I have to be available for work most days. Today I booked my tickets to fly.
When I was Worcestershire Poet Laureate I completed a project called Twin Town between Droitwich and Voiron and some of the poets involved in that will hopefully be there. I am looking forward to it.
A last minute booking came in to work with Year 7 pupils at Blessed Edwards in October, fortunately I was free to accept. This will involve 4 poets looking at 4 elements and group writing with the pupils. I am doubly excited as I got FIRE! My Leo-heart burns!
The first week of October is looking packed. A week of several double bookings another event I was invited to do A Night with… panel interview/performance/ relaxed Q & A which looks really good – I hope to make it on a different date. This in turn clashed with a book launch and that isn’t viable either. I have an open mic with an amazing headline/line up and the NPD and Swindon Poetry Festival to look forward to.
This week I wrote 4 new poems based on Masks and performed them at 42.
I took another 2 bookings for December. Wrote lots. Edited lots. AND…became the newest Director of Worcestershire LitFest! WLF Welcomes a New Director
LitWorld2 Journal was also released. This is Sarah Leavesley’s Photography/Art/Poetry Project and the first poem to be published is by Kathy Gee.
I followed up the USA performance of A Tale of Two Cities – there was certainly a lot of pre-event news coverage and it seems to have gone really well.
I also got organised for Swindon Poetry Festival next week! Whoop! Ready to run at October full pelt now!
Back in 2014 I was invited by Jo Bell to take part in her 52 project – a poem for a week, for a year. Aside from being a marvellous project to be involved in (my publishing record is about 50/50 rejection/acceptance… every 52 poem I have submitted carries a 100% success rate), it was a year where over 500 poets formed friendships and connections.
It gave many people the confidence to call themselves poets and saw established poets (and famous ones) working alongside emerging newbies and early career poets. It was a medley of talent and made us all READ a lot of good poetry, poetry that differed to the our tastes and both those factors are heavily recommended for any writer! It was also a great platform for learning how to edit and critique. I think we all improved over the 12 months. Certainly lots of collections followed.
Along the way I have made virtual friends with a lot of the poets involved in 52 and July’s SpeakEasy featured one of these poets. Ben Banyard – who says 52 was the turning point for him taking his writing seriously.
I was incredibly excited to meet him and hear his work.
Back in early 2016 Ben’s first pamphlet ‘Communing’ was published by Indigo Dreams Press (IDP).
Find out more and buy a copy here.
Fast forward 2 years and Ben’s first full collection ‘We Are All Lucky’ is published by IDP.
More information can be found here. This is the collection we enjoyed in his Headline set.
As if all that was not exciting enough – SpeakEasy was in a new venue – Wayland’s Yard – a lovely Coffee Shop (although it is really more than that), near the station, handy for visiting poets/audience.
To top it off we also had the WLF Slam Winners for Poetry and Flash Fiction primed to perform.
The first post-festival (WLF) SpeakEasy is always brilliant. Suz Winspear was our MC for the evening, this was her first night back in that role, it has since been announced that Charley Barnes is stepping down from hosting.
© Nina Lewis
For the first time EVER we were outside and it was a warm summer evening, the outside of Wayland’s was dressed for summer (well actually, a wedding) and it was perfect! Pom poms, fairy lights and bunting!
© Nina Lewis
The Slam Winners were both presented with their awards and then I kicked off the evening with a 6 minute set.
Photographs © Charley Barnes WLF.
Kevin Brooke Flash Fiction Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.
Io Osborn Poetry Slam Winner Worcestershire LitFest 2018.
© Nina Lewis
Charley Barnes performed from her new pamphlet ‘A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache’, published by V. Press.
Daniel Burton – who launched his debut collection last Saturday in Worcester and is now taking it on a mini tour of Loughborough, Leicester & Coventry.
© Daniel Burton
© Nina Lewis
After an interval Chloe Clarke kicked off the second half.
Chloe Clarke (former Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate)
Io (Cass) Osborn – Slam Champ Poet
SpeakEasy over the past few years has had lots of newcomers, which is great for an established Poetry Night, here’s Michael Wheatley.
Then Ben Banyard Headlined.
© Kathy Gee
Ben’s poetry was life-affirming and I loved a lot of his work. ‘Pineapple as a metaphor for life’ was a particular favourite of mine. It was a joy to hear his set.
‘What strikes me most about Banyard’s poems is his affection for humanity, grounded by his wry humour. His imagination allows him to empathise with people he encounters. He has the gift of finding pleasure in the everyday, in all its seediness and tawdry beauty. He has the true poet’s gift of noticing details others miss.’
‘Ben Banyard writes accessible poems about the real world, with its triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies. I like them for their humanity and warmth, for their sense of humour, and for the way Banyard often pins down just the right details to bring a piece vividly to life. This is an enjoyable collection.’
‘There is an impressive range here and, whether writing about childhood memories, being a father, cataracts, spit hoods or Birmingham, this poet displays a sureness of touch and an ability to precisely capture a vanished world or the exact tone of a voice. Ben Banyard is a poet with a sharp-eyed yet affectionate view of the world. I very much enjoyed this confident and varied collection.’
SpeakEasy was a well attended event with plenty of audience members as well as performers and an enchanting one at that!
© Nina Lewis
42 is a regular monthly feature of the Worcester calendar, featuring prose, poetry and everything between. Currently run by Polly Stretton and hosted by her and a range of Guest MCs, it is normally held on the last Wednesday of the month at Drummonds.
The festival special last year was one of the most popular nights – featuring The Antipoet. They are back again for 2018 and we are delighted.
The theme for open mic sets was Bewitched Worcestershire Inn and despite a tiny bit of research after last night’s event at the Museum, I did not have a chance to pen a poem in advance. So after a whistle stop agenda between work and the gig I managed some scribbles. One of the scribbles turned out okay.
The Antipoet performance was stupendous (as expected)! They entertained us for over an hour and they were also there for the Launch of their book! Yes, a BOOK this year rather than an album. A book with 2 FREE DVDs.
If you have never caught their show, I urge you to do so – they are phenomenal!
© Damon Lord
More photos to follow.
The story of the first ten years of The Antipoet, told in the inimitable style of Paul Eccentric. Published by Black Pear Press.
The 2nd half was packed with 42 performances (as in ’42’ the night and not forty-two performances)! Stories and poems based on the theme and beyond.
There were a couple more performers – more photos coming soon!
It was a superb night. Thoroughly 42!
Yesterday was the Launch of the 8th WLF Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe and it all starts with celebrating competition winners for Flash Fiction & Young Writers before the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Finalists take to the stage.
Leading up to the final I felt nervous and nauseous in equal measure, knowing I was on the judging panel was almost as difficult as entering the competition, and like many Laureates before me – I didn’t really want to give it up.
Still, it is someone else’s time now and at least I have had the pleasure of looking back on a year of superb work, I have thoroughly enjoyed the role as an ambassador for poetry.
The Launch was a fantastic event and I needn’t have worried at all – although the judging bit was difficult, there was a whole team deliberating (judges for the competition this year were Polly Stretton, Stephen Wilson, myself and Rachel Evans -Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate) and apart from the emotional gauntlet, it was fun. Having the YPL Rachel Evans buddy up helped, I hope I eased her worries too.
I managed to not cry after Charley Barnes (one of the WLF Directors) introduced me and I remembered all of my words. I performed my winning Laureate poems, which strangely (for me) have not been over performed and are not as familiar to me as other works. I had planned to spend the week before rehearsing – but I started making countdown films instead!
The Launch was well attended (over 70 people) and it was a delight to hear the poems we had judged being performed by the poets.
Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley this year’s Finalists.
Following my performance Charley Barnes introduced the winning poet…and who is the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2018/19?
Betti Moretti! Congratulations to her and all the finalists this year.
It was a great event and congratulations should go to the WLF team for pulling it off. The new afternoon slot worked well, especially for the YW competition winners.
The end of my Laureateship is 2 days away which means it must be time for the Launch of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2018!
We are just 4 days away from the Launch of WLF 2018 and this year there is a great programme of events, tickets can be booked online and I urge you to attend as many events as you can, fill your boots with words!
This is the 8th Year for the team and a decision was made to reduce the number of festival events on offer. Now, for many festivals this would be bad news but the quality of these evening events (note: new DAYTIME slot for the Launch) mean that there is still something for everyone and plenty on offer.
It also means the WLF Team and Festival Volunteers will not suffer burn out after hosting a packed week of events. It is only fair they get to enjoy the festival too.
After the wild success of this event in our 2017 festival we
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This month I got stuck into two new projects, missed several events due to the snow, submitted poems, sent proof copies/edited Special Edition Contour Magazine in preparation for the next issue launch (April) ATOTC, organised a poetry exhibition at the Jinney Ring & a Hanbury Reading for the Sculpture Trail Poets, facilitated 1 community workshop and 2 school workshops, dressed as Little Miss Splendid for World Book Day, worked on a special celebration of poetry to mark International Women’s Day, finished my Reader in Residence residency at Rugby Library with WMRN, did Poetry on Demand for Mother’s Day, organised my official WPL remit World Poetry Day event, took my WWM Spark Young Writers group through the editing process, attended the final Room 204 17/18 cohort meeting, a Book Launch, celebrated Earth Day and worked pretty much full time as a one week contract turned into 3 weeks!
I now feel and look about 10 years older!
Week 1: The Snow
I missed Images from the Past at The Hive, due to snow and a workshop and oakley’s Book Launch for the same reason.
I was booked for an exciting event as part of the Anchor Gallery in April and asked to do Stablemates – which I would have loved, but the date clashed with my appearance at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
I facilitated the 1st of 3 workshops booked with The Basement Project, a charity in Bromsgrove. The first community workshop (in WPL role) was Arts & Words where participants created their own canvas. It was a successful morning and gave me a welcome break from the classroom. The snow meant we were thin on the ground, but those involved had a good time.
Read more here.
Week 2: Planning, Poetry on Demand & New Projects
All of the final proofs from ATOTC were sent.
I planned my next workshop, this one at a school in Worcester. Gathering the resources and researching the subject matter. I missed Stirchley Speaks with Cynthia Miller as work is exhausting and I am busy online for most of the evening when I get home, mainly with ATOTC – now in proof reading stages with copy flying out to 46 poets.
I was booked as part of an event for this year’s Worcester LitFest alongside the new Poet Laureate (my time finishes on 10th June).
I attended an exciting meeting in Ledbury with Rick Sanders as he unveiled the 2nd PoArtry project. I have been buddied up with Molly Bythell – a talented young artist and cannot wait to make a start on this.
I missed the MeToo Anthology Launch in Birmingham because I was asleep before 6:30 after a particularly bad end to an otherwise good but tiring week of work.
On Saturday I had my WWM writing group and ran a workshop (at their request) on editing and we wrote about mum’s too with Mother’s Day being so close.
From Worcester I hot-footed to Rugby for a job as Poetry on Demand for Mother’s Day. I wrote bespoke poems and made lots of people very happy.
It was an exhausting but fun day!
Week 3: Workshops, Interviews & Book Launches
The week started with full days of work (a one week temporary cover turned into 3 weeks full-time, with a day off for good behaviour/ I mean pre-booked workshops)!
On Thursday I filled an entire day with poetry to make up for all the poetry I had missed from being too exhausted after work!
My School Workshops at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in October were postponed. I was delighted to offer new bespoke workshops to fit the work they have been doing on Monsters. It was a fantastic, fun morning and they thoroughly enjoyed it.
You can read a review here
From there I hot-footed across to BBC Hereford & Worcester for my radio interview with Tammy Gooding, where I was able to promote WPD.
The evening saw 3 clashing events. I went to Math Jones’ Book Launch of Sabrina Bridge published by Black Pear Press. This was the 2nd collection I was asked to endorse and it is a magical read. It was wonderful to watch Math breathe fire into his work in a stellar performance. Being an actor helps! It was great fun and an opportunity to see Suz Winspear, Jenny Hope, Polly Stretton and Keleigh Wolf perform too.
I missed Stanza but spent the evening prepping for my next school workshop next week, creating film clips and found poetry texts. I also wrote copy to promote World Poetry Day.
I had the final Room 204 Cohort meeting on Saturday at The Custard Factory, crazy to think nearly 12 months has gone already, the new cohort will be announced mid-April, exciting to think they already know who they are.
This was followed by a new project with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, encompassing two weekend workshops and a performance at BMAG – and involves using their digital archive. None of us really knew what it would entail but I am always up for an afternoon in a Museum/Art Gallery, notebook in hand.
Wikimedia © 2018
It all sounded intriguing and I had a fun afternoon filling myself up with artefact inspiration.
Birmingham Museums Trust © 2018
Sunday – a day of rest? No, Mr G and I are expecting some much needed work on the house and we spent the day clearing spaces!
Week 4 Workshops, World Poetry Day and Earth Hour
How is it the last week of March already? The week started with my Inter-School Gifted & Talented workshop at Bromsgrove School with the theme of Nature.
Where I had prepared a film element in case our Nature Walk was eradicated by weather – the snow and a mini-beast storm was forecast over the weekend. It certainly rained!
It was an action packed afternoon and great fun. A full review can be found here
I spent the beginning of the week (3 days) preparing for World Poetry Day, this was an evening event and the only official task I had to undertake in my WPL (Worcestershire Poet Laureate) remit.
After months of preparation Wednesday 21st arrived and I spent the day with high alert butterflies and every organiser worst worry – will there be an audience?
It was a fabulous night! People came and enjoyed and all the performers were exceptional. A full review can be read here.
On Saturday I had the 2nd workshop for the BMAG Rebel Uncut Digital Archive project. This was my first ever Hackathon and a long day 8-6pm – on site from 10-5. It was fun working with techies and writers and seeing our initial writing inform a digital archive. Having opportunities to play with VR and AR. We all worked in teams and there was a series of presentations at the end of the afternoon, a constant flow of refreshments and lunch thrown in too.
I love opportunities for writing beyond the page and stage, it was a great experience to be part of and the last mark of this year’s Room 204 cohort.
I followed my hour bus journey home with a power nap which meant I missed the first half of Earth Day. I made it to Worcester just after 8 PM which isn’t bad considering I got in after 6PM, had a power nap, prepared my poems including one written especially for this year’s Earth Hour Event and one I wrote on the bus journey in the morning, filled the car with petrol and made it to Worcester (can take up to 45 minutes).
Earth Hour was a brilliant event, as always. Organised by Martin Driscoll and in Support of WWF and Earth Hour. It was held at Cafe Bliss and the food (which was included in the ticket) was exceptional. Traditional Belize. Amazing, I can taste it now over a week later writing this blogpost!
The Final Week
Was mainly work. I didn’t get the writing done I had scheduled. I missed all of my end of month targets, I could kick myself… but I am choosing to go easy on myself. I have had a full-on month and do not want to submit substandard work for the sake of ticking off a deadline. There will be writing time in the future and until then I am writing bare bones and noting ideas.
I missed the 8th Birthday at 42, as I had been to the ROH Ballet the night before with mum *a Christmas gift from Mr G. We both had a thoroughly enjoyable evening but with a full week of work, I arrived home exhausted on the Wednesday and was asleep by 8:30 pm.
I managed some work on the Art Poetry PoArtry Project for Ledbury, Molly Bythell (my partnered artist) and I have started laying out groundwork for our collaboration after exchanging artworks/poems. Her painting inspired by my poem (published by Silver Birch Press Me In A Hat series)
has been added to her website and I am currently scaffolding a poem based on her work ‘Flower Gel’.
I also had communication with the Festival team in Perth, Australia. My trip is in planning stages and I am excited to find out more about the festival programme. I know I am able to attend as much as I can manage.
Hopefully will be fully over jet lag during the pre-festival. Last time I went over (2005) my jet lag there was almost non-existent – cancelled out by adrenaline. It was coming home I faltered. I was talking to my friend who did the airport run and just fell asleep on my rucksack mid sentence and on the lounge floor. I do have a 20 hour lay over, so hoping that will help the lag if I play on GMT/UK time.
Then I had the Easter weekend off with Mr G. to catch up with family, enjoy the warmth of our house – new boiler fitted this week after 3 months without heat or running hot water! Glad to be back in the 21st Century with that one.
I have an exhibition to organise that I am a week behind on, due to working.
In April aside from NaPoWriMo (now GloPoWriMo) – I have the Special Edition Contour magazine to edit and compile for the ATOTC Transatlantic Poetry Project, I may have a talking paper interested in some work on that and have future plans for performance and publication. It has been my main project as WPL and has been a steep learning curve tinged with fun!
I am also getting a smaller European project off the ground with new poetry partners between Twin Towns next month. Our Suffragette Collection will also go live. The rest of the month is a packed schedule of workshops, festivals and performances.
So I took a very deep breath over the holiday weekend and have plenty of chocolate eggs in reserve.
Oh, and I am going back to work full-time, a temporary measure to cover summer living (as there are 3 months a year I don’t earn any money) and this year had a record 10 days over a 3 month period, so this just plugs the first term being so bad.
What a cracking, action-packed month!
At the end of May, I was notified of the Worcester Poet Laureate finals as I was a finalist, I still hadn’t told many people I had entered. This year our poems were not open to vote on the LitFest site and so many people didn’t know who the participants were.
But I knew. I am getting used to keeping success secret until the time comes when you can share the news. It is tricky and sometimes frustrating, but it is delightful when you can finally go public.
So after the official finalists announcement, I did just that and went public with my news. Damon Lord and Louise Reeder were the other finalists and it is a competition all of us had entered before.
Most of this week was spent preparing for the 9th (WLF Poet Laureate Final/Launch), memorising poetry and writing my brief summary of what I would do in role were I lucky enough to be awarded the position.
I also prepared for our WLF show (11th June) 30-40-60 in collaboration with Kathy Gee & Claire Walker. I had poetry film work to edit and a major software crisis. I was also co-ordinating/ organising the Open Mic section of the show.
Thursday 1st June saw UNCORKED at Bottles, Holly Daffurn’s wonderful new vibey poetry/spoken word night. This started back in April (20th) and at the time I am sure Holly hoped to do it again, at the time she wasn’t sure if it would become a regular event. I am glad to see that it has.
The Headliners were Charley Barnes, Hannah Teesdale and Spoz. I was going to be on this bill but then Charley’s book was released and it was decided better timing for her to appear. (I am happily headlining next month.) It was a fabulous night and I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with Hannah and listening to sterling sets from all the featured artists.
The open mic section (of which I was part) worked well too. I wish I had more time to write timely reviews, like I used to back in the day. One man who can be relied upon to do just that is Rick Sanders, re-reading his review brought it all back to me, so hopefully it will make you feel like you were there too.
Friday night was Stanza and Saturday saw a clash of events, a pre-book Book Launch in Walsall and a editing/workshop in Cheltenham. I always go with the first booking and that was the workshop.
I was due to perform in the Stoke Newington Literature Festival for the Shabda Press launch, but was geographically not close enough to make it to London in time and after cancelling last month’s workshop, didn’t really want to do the same.
In the end common sense won (rare result) and I headed home.
On Sunday a new event happened in Walsall – the brainchild and action of Dave Pitt, Steve Pottinger and Emma Purshouse – Yes we Cant – they had a banner made and everything. I love the pay what you think concept and I LOVED the fact that Jonny Fluffypunk was the first headliner. I was going anyway – but when I discovered that it sealed it for sure!
Paul Francis was the other featured guest and I have not seen him for so long. Back to full health and with a new pamphlet, an irresistible buy at only £3 and for a ruddy good cause. Breaking Point – Poems about Migration.
You can read more about the launch in Much Wenlock here.
I like regular forms – so there’s sonnets, a ballad rhymed couplets and a villanelle; and I’m not shy about political commitment. I think the Farage side of the leave campaign was despicable, and am strongly opposed to the explicit hostility to migrants which has resulted from the campaign. So there. I’m not, of course, on the front line, but Wolverhampton city of Sanctuary are, and the booklet is being sold to raise money for them. £72.00 in the first week, which is not a fortune but is better than nothing. Paul Francis © 2017
I had a great night, the venue was packed and hot! It will be interesting to see how they configure the furniture next time, the open mic spots were enjoyed and I was lucky enough to get there in time to grab one! They had an open poetry competition, on the night 8 lines of topical story in poetic form, with a winner (Mogs, of course) and prizes and everything.
They had table decorations and a fun party atmosphere, frantically fun at times. Paul’s set was incredible powerful and thought provoking and Jonny was on TOP form! I was delighted to get to chat a bit at the end, always aware of getting in the way of new fandom for this man. I snapped up Poundland Rimbaud, his latest Burning Eye collection and chatted politics for a while (on the cusp of the election).
I had a great night and this is definitely a night I will attend again, although I have to miss Brenda Read-Brown on the 2nd July due to a festival event and a family party.
Rick mentions the banner too! https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/did-someone-mention-a-banner/
It was a wild way to end the week and leaves me wishing Walsall could be moved a little closer!
After a 5 day run on events, I planned to crack on with some down time pre- Worcester LitFest and apart from working and the inevitable household chore list, I managed some rest – from performing at least.
I have been so busy for the past few months that I have missed the opportunity of submitting work and things on the desk are now living in mountainous piles. My focus was the LitFest and our show 30-40-60 that allowing brainspace for anything else was almost impossible.
I had two poems published by Weasel Press in a digital anthology highlighting Domestic Abuse. One of the poems ‘Ripped’ was written this year during NaPoWriMo, the other ‘Statues in Stone’ is a poem I have tinkered with for years.
On Friday the 7th Worcester LitFest kicked off with the Launch and Poet Laureate Final at Worcester Racecourse, just thinking back makes me feel exhausted. There is so much tension and anxiety caused by putting yourself through any competition, but one with these stakes… well.
I thoroughly enjoyed the new venue, I couldn’t enjoy the bar and nibbles as I had work to do and much as I managed to circulate and converse the thrilling excitement everyone else was experiencing was just like nauseating sea-sickness in my mind and stomach.
The Young Writers Competition entries were read and those teens had so much talent I bet there was not a person in the room who didn’t consider hanging up their pen! The 3 winning flash fiction entries were also celebrated before us finalists took to the floor with our poems and promises.
In case you have missed social media for the past 3 weeks… I won! Delighted.
Suz Winspear – Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Nina Lewis and Steve Wilson – County Arts Officer.
For up to date information and all things Worcestershire/Poetry check out my Laureate blog here.
Saturday was a tough day – after the excitement of becoming the new Poet Laureate, I had 3 hours sleep and journeyed into Birmingham to the University for the National Writers Conference, organised by Writing West Midlands.
This used to be called the Writers Toolkit, I haven’t been since 2014. Tickets are fairly pricey but completely worth the investment. If you do the sums, (three break out sessions, 2 key-note speakers, priceless networking opportunities, lunch, refreshments and performances are all included in the ticket price AND a goody bag) – it does not feel unreasonably high. This year as I am in Room 204 a free ticket is one of the many perks of the development programme and only 3 hours sleep was NOT going to stop me attending.
I had a wonderful day, met a few new people and reconnected with poet/writer friends. It was lovely to snatch brief conversations with a few of the keynote speakers before they rushed off to Welshpool Literature Festival, I will write a designated post next month and link it back to here. Too much to say in a review paragraph. Needless to say, loved the whole event and got some things out of it. It felt very different to the first time.
I managed a couple of hours at home before my first OFFICIAL engagement as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.
Night at the Museum III – Suz Winspear – Poet in Residence at the Porcelain Museum, Matt Windle – Birmingham Poet Laureate, Oakley – Young Poet Laureate of Worcestershire, Chloe Clarke – Former Young Poet Laureate Worcestershire and myself performed sets of poetry before Suz launched her new Worcester Porcelain pamphlet – The Aniseed Elite. https://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/product/pamphlet-2/
It was a fabulous night of top notch poetry from a talented bunch of poet laureates, a pleasure to be part of and I felt very special. My set included my two finalists poems ‘Lit Up’ (on the theme of Voice) and ‘Tasseomancy’. A less nervous performance of both.
Sunday was filled with preparation for our debut showing of 30-40-60 at the LitFest, another incredible, adrenaline fuelled evening of poetry and pleasure.
Read all about it https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/30-40-60/
I started promoting 30-40-60, before the show I had sent press releases out in the hope of future festival bids, after hearing the audience reaction I was spurred on to get something concrete organised for 2018.
I also started Laureateship work, traditionally the Poet Laureate has a local radio slot (BBC Hereford & Worcester), Suz put me in touch with the contact and my first radio interview is on 3rd July. The past Laureates have been strong and I want to build on their success, continuing work where the foundations have been laid as well as building new poetry constructs is all part of my mission.
I organised a poetry performance and picnic at an established event ‘SALT KING 200’ at the Chateau Impney – in celebration of John Corbett and put a call out for poetry submissions for a Refugee Anthology, World Refugee Day/ Refugee Awareness Week.
I also created a dedicated WPL blog and email account. I have a feeling I will need both this year!
Worcester LitFest was in full swing and I attended and performed at 42 Festival Special, which featured the Anti-Poet and was an anarchy driven night of high spirits and the following night SpeakEasy with Pete the Temp, which was also the evening Suz and I did the official hand over and had a few more photos taken of the now engraved WPL award!
I hope to create a dedicated blog post for more details in review of the 7th Worcester LitFest – keep your eyes peeled!
I also received a couple of gifts, a wooden ‘Laureate’s Nook’ sign from Mr G. for my Book Nook (to be created) and a folder with a certificate from Maggie Doyle Poet Laureate Emeritus.
After performing my Grenfell Tower poem at 42 (the reaction it got), I decided it was necessary to share it on social media. I later decided to send it to Reuben Woolley at I Am Not A Silent Poet. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/sudden-emptiness-by-nina-lewis/ He kindly published it.
Laureate wise – I produced the poetry collection for World Refugee Day (20th) https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/world-refugee-day-in-poetry/ showcasing established, emerging and beginner poets – Local, National & International poets represented. I was amazed by the response and with just 48 hours from call out to end result – it is a fine collective of voices. Strong points that need to be heard and should be made.
I also promoted National Writing Day and performed at the final WLF Fringe event for the 2017 Festival – Words on Water – A Midsummer celebration of poetry and prose on the banks of the River Severn. It was an excellent evening and this year even saw a stop off for a much needed rest (it was during the heatwave) and rehydration at the Diglis Hotel. An addition the whole team agree to repeat next year. I will write more about it in my LitFest round up review next month.
At the beginning of the week when my recent win was not the wide-spread news it is now – I was invited to perform at a well established Poetry Festival later this year!
I had a 10 minute Guest Spot at Licensed to Rhyme at the Artrix – the night is run by Maggie Doyle & Spoz.
I worked on a couple of projects I am currently involved with. Spent an afternoon at Croome Court as preparation for the Adam Speak Project (Room 204) with 9 other poets.
On Friday evening I ventured back to Birmingham to Waterstones (seems like ages), for Three Midland Poets a night with Nichola Deane, Rich Goodson and Charles G Lauder Jr.
I loved all of their performances and always enjoy meeting, hearing and reading new-to-me-poets. I ended up buying all three books thanks to some (intentionally) hidden handbag book money! It was a great night and despite being exceptionally tired, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I also had an open mic spot and was able to share my Laureate poems as practise for next week’s Headline spot (booked back in April).
Saturday saw my final Writing West Midlands Spark Writers Group for this academic year.
Sunday was a day of rest… of course it wasn’t! I had organised the Poetry Performance and Picnic at SALT KING 200 which was a good event and I will blog about it in more detail next month.
Design by Rosie Philpott.
The extra bit – I finally sat at my desk long enough to consider submissions and writing, for the first time in months. I have been busy with shows, festival events, organising and promoting – which is all well and good but sometimes a poet just wants to write. It felt good. Like the cleanse of the first wash after a long-distance trip.
I even managed a submission!
I heard back from Editors, long awaited Leonard Cohen Anthology response and am delighted that my poem ‘Shadow Line’ will be published in Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, more news on that soon. I love signing poetry contracts before work, that will never grow old as a brilliant way to start the morning!
I contacted local media/newspapers about WPL (Worcestershire Poet Laureate) and enjoyed a 2nd influx of messages.
Earlier this month there was talk of both a festival booking possibility and a dedicated one off poetry day/event with publishers. Both things came to fruition – and guess what – they are planned for the same day! Of course I will do both!
I had my first headline gig for a while, featured poet at Spoken Trend in Kings Norton (Weds 28th). A great night and plenty of new to the mic poets and first timers at the event. Tom McCann did himself proud and Tom Crossland was the god of memorised words! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. Some fabulous open mic slots, plenty of featured artists amongst them.
One of those nights you wish you could repeat, straight away!
And to complete my month there is a meeting taking place later (30th) about a current project and Stanza this evening, where I plan to take a current project poem along for editing advice!
What a glorious month of sun, heat and poetry!
Diving into the Fountain for a quick splash, reblog and update!
Coming up soon: Review WLF (Worcester LitFest), which finished on the 18th June.
Review Laureate projects and other exciting events & news: Headlines, Featured Artists, Festivals, publications/published, commissions and a couple of projects I am working on.
There is so much happening over the next fortnight.
As part of our Worcester LitFest performance of 30-40-60 we invited poets to get in touch and book open mic slots. We dedicated the first half hour to these performances, each poet receiving 5 minutes. We had additional poets on a reserve list and were sad that not everyone had the opportunity to perform in this time frame.
We hope those interested parties might be able to come and perform at another event in the future.
On the night – due to the tight timing of our performance/event/booking, I decided that introducing poets by anything other than name would be stealing time from their set.
As the poets delivered their work I was aware that as an audience member I would want to know more about this talented bunch. So at the end of the Open section I promised the audience that I would blog the BIOS and related links for each of our open mic-ers.
AND here it is!
Thanks once again to everyone who came and shared their words.
Elaine C. Christie is an Activist, Poet, Editor with a diploma in Self Publishing. Her work appears in both the UK and US, online and magazines such as First Time, Dial 174, Dawntreader, Warwick Dodo, Silhouette Press, Poetry Rivals, Forward Poetry, Pixie Chicks’ Writers Group, The Guardian, I am not a silent poet, WWF Book and Born Free Supporters Poetry. Elaine is now Editor & Publisher of www.restlessbonespublishing.com She has facilitated workshops, hosted poetry events and performs at Spoken Word events.
In 2011 Elaine became a Member, Activator & Fundraiser with Born Free Foundation. Correlating and Publishing an Anthology ‘Restless Bones’ in 2014 to raise funds to
help fight the fur trade. Her poetry creates strong visual images, she is working on a collection ‘Hear my Cry’ soon to be released.
Nigel Hutchinson is based in Leamington Spa, his first collection ‘The Humble Family Interviews’ is available from Cinnamon Press. He’ll be launching the book at Waterstones in Leamington at 5.30, 30th June and reading at Poetry Bites in Birmingham on 25th July.
Neil Richards has recently returned to poetry. He performed this year at the Wychwood Festival.
BIO to follow.
Initially inspired following the loss of his father, Paul writes, in formal styles, on ageing, death, fatherhood and other mundane ponderings common for a married father of young girls. In a restrained tone, with dry humour woven throughout, Paul uses personal experience and the description of life’s intimacies to reflect on universal themes.
Paul’s work has so far been included in The New Humanist Magazine, The Cannon’s Mouth, About Larkin (The Philip Larkin Society’s magazine), A Swift Exit, Poems to Survive in, Graffiti Literary Magazine, Indigo Dream’s The Dawn Treader, Artficium’s Imprimo Anthology, The Blue Lady Literary Journal, The Good Dadhood Project, The Good Funeral Guide and Lighten Up.
Paul reads at Permission to Speak in Stourbridge and The Grande Slam in Dudley. He’s also reading at Mierce’s Marks, at Wolverhampton’s Art Gallery on June 15th, and at the Double Whammy Slammy on Sunday 18th June at Drummonds Bar in Worcester.
Rangzeb © 2014 – Photo of Elaine Christie from Restless Bones Launch
Photography from 30-40-60 Elaine Christie © 2017