A brand new website for Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. Find out about all the 2021 competitions, join in with virtual open mics at SpeakEasy (9th April) and coming soon announcements for Worcestershire LitFest 2021.
7-17 years old/ FREE entry/ International
300 words £4 or £10 for 3 entries/ International
And if you are a resident of Worcestershire, for £5 you can enter the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition.
4th March is World Book Day – and perhaps a day when Home-schooling parents in the UK breathe a sigh of relief at not having to find a last minute outfit, of course many schools may be encouraging the Home Learners to dress as favourite book characters and join in with the fun!
Many schools include activities to enhance the curriculum learning on Thursday. Here are some great websites and ideas from the UK:
It is the 24th year it has been held and is marked globally in over 100 countries.
Find out about the history of World Book Day here UNESCO on 23rd April 1995
In 2018, we were lucky enough to have Kevin Brooke as a Guest Writer at Inkspill. He writes for Young Adults and gave us a great workshop. Or maybe you have never read Kevin’s work and would like to buy a book.
Here’s Kevin’s You Tube Channel where you can listen to many extracts of his work.
You may want to write a story for the Worcestershire LitFest 2021 Competition, just 300 words on the theme of Gods and Monsters, entries are FREE. (Year Groups Y3 – Y12) Watch the video for more information.
October the 1st was NPD (National Poetry Day) and there were many exciting online events to bite into and for once I could use the entire day for poetry, as no work came through in October either! I joined other local poets celebrating poetry and favourite poems on Worcestershire Libraries website for The Hive.
If you use #ShareAPoem you should find lots of videos on You Tube, here’s mine – a poem from Fragile Houses (V. Press, 2016), written during Jo Bell’s amazing 52 Project in 2014/15.
Lots more can be found on the National Poetry Day channel, like this one by Malika Booker.
I enjoyed a creative writing workshop with Sheffield Libraries, sharing our favourite poems on the theme of vision (NPD theme), followed by Heather Wastie‘s Book Launch ‘To the Future, Love Cropredy’ is a collaboration with boat-dwelling visual artist Louise Regan. After I caught the Nine Arches Press and Birmingham Literature Festival event The New Romantics: A Poetry Cabaret With Gregory Leadbetter, Rosie Garland and Maria Taylor, which was superb! Later I went to a Reading at the Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst Arts Night Virtual Reading with Taylor Johnson, Brionne Janae and Rage Hezekiah.
In between I enjoyed NPD unrolling on the main site and even joined in on Instagram. A month of poetry in one day! I managed to watch the other events featured above the next day.
I attended PPP events Yes We Cant, Live from The Butchery Helen Ivory & Martin Figura as well as events at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. I continued with Redwing’s workshops, Poets in Motion and Hybrid Experimental Memoir classes. I managed to get back to Oooh Beehive, Poetry Cafe, Cafe Writers and Worcester 42.
I did a workshop with Marcus Jackson, hosted a Mental Health & Wellbeing Event for WLF, went to Goldsmiths Readings, Jerwood Fellowships produced more Poetry Take Overs and I joined some community workshops offered by Ledbury Poetry Festival, facilitated and created by Sara-Jane Arbury.
The University of Glasgow offered Creative Conversations and I was able to catch some of them, Sheffield Libraries offered more workshops with Nik Perring and Utopia Theatre offered workshops too.
I joined in the EmeryArts 2020 with an Ekphrastic workshop with Sarah Kobrinsky, which led to a performance this month (more below) and publication. I met a poet working in the 90s who knew poets I am friends with, from way back in my fledging days on the circuit. They appeared in the UK after I left for Kent, so we never met. Missed each other – funny to fill the circles in decades later!
Bountiful month for Festivals including: the Red Line Book Festival, Lyra Festival Bristol, Toronto International Festival of Authors (a fantastic programme), Manchester Literature Festival, The Stay @ Home Fringe Festival had a second run, Birmingham Literature Festival ran from the 1st– 17th October and Cheltenham Poetry Festival continued to run fantastic online events. I saw Sascha Akhtar and Juliette Van Der Molan (the next Virtual Poet in Residence).
I attended the Book Launches of Z. D Dicks – Vexed (Hedgehog Press, 2020) https://www.hedgehogpress.co.uk/2020/10/11/pre-orderzddicks-vexed/
Gregory Leadbetter – Maskwork (Nine Arches Press, 2020)
Ian McMillan – Yes But What Is This? What Exactly? (Smith|Doorstop, 2020)
And Zoe Brooks Owl Unbound (IDP, 2020) https://zoebrooks.blogspot.com/p/owl-unbound.html a wonderful evening of poetry and a Cheltenham Poetry Festival Event.
I featured at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, a brilliant evening! Then I pretended my lounge was an airport lounge and settled down for an hour on the settee before heading back online in the early hours of the morning to be part of the EmeryArts 2020 Reading. You can watch it here https://www.emeryarts.org/poetry.
I was asked to headline Virtual Voices Offa’s Press, this was one of the many real bookings that was lost to 2020. I created an event inspired by the alternative/gothic/sci-fi nights atWorcester 42. The Story Salon is designed to feature short stories which are too long for an open mic. The Halloween edition was called Jack ‘n’ Gory (a take on Jackanory, which was a favourite story time TV show in the 80s). An audience of fearless listeners were treated to a short performance from Suz Winspear. It was great and gave us all an excuse for Fancy Dress.
42 is where I traditionally don my Halloween costume, but the day after was a very special Birthday for a relative this year who I had no wish to shock with left over Halloween make-up, especially as I had not seen her since the start of Lockdown in March.
I also took part in some filming – more on this project soon.
Traditionally I have held INKSPILL in October. The last one was in 2018, it was ready to go before I ended up in hospital – there is a lot of work behind offering a retreat for a weekend and unfortunately I wasn’t strong enough last year and this year there was so much offered online it didn’t seem possible. I am hoping next Autumn we may have another one.
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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