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!
By Richard Duckett
Telegram & Gazette Staff
How do you rhyme “Worcester”? You bring together poets from Worcestershire, England, and the Worcester County (Massachusetts) Poetry Association. A cross-Atlantic collaboration project has resulted in exchanged poems, publication of 92 poems in “Contour Poetry Magazine” edited by Worcester, England, poet laureate Nina Lewis, and a gala reading of the poems in our English Twin City.
Now it’s our turn with “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — US & UK.” Brian Evans Jones, former poet laureate of Hampshire, England, will read the British poetry, and there will be readings by many of the Central New England poets who have participated in the project, including Pam Bernard, Robin Boucher, Sylva Boyadjian-Haddad, Tony Brown, Dennis Caldwell, Clair Degutis, Gordon Elliot, Patricia Fargnoli, Jennifer Freed, Claire Golding, Victor D. Infante, Maura MacNeil, Cynthia Martell, Rodger Martin, Susan Roney-O’Brien, Kyle Potvin, Eve Rifkah, Karen Sharpe, Beth Sweeney, Paul Szlosek, Henry Walters, Linda Warren, and Patricia Youngblood.
What: “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester — USA & UK” When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 Where: The Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow St., Worcester.
How much: $10 suggested donation. Proceeds benefit the Sprinkler Factory and the Worcester County Poetry Association. http://www.worcestercountypoetry.org
A TALE OF TWO CITIES, WORCESTER
The Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory have joined together to host a benefit fundraiser – “A Tale of Two Cities, Worcester – USA & UK.” The transatlantic poetry project is a result of a collaboration between poets from either side of the pond.
Forty-seven poets began writing and exchanging poems with each other from December 2017 to March 2018. The poets from Worcester, Mass., wrote an initial poem and got a response poem from their partner in Worcestershire, England.
At the Sprinkler Factory, Worcester poets will read their initial poem and their partners’ response.
Months of editing and reworking these poems has left a remarkable result worth hearing from those who participated. Proceeds from this event will go toward the Worcester County Poetry Association and the Sprinkler Factory, which hosts ever-changing art exhibitions. There is a wide range of topics for the poems, from love to self-discovery.
Find resources and lesson plans, posters and logos here.
This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change
June this year was definitely a month of transition.
It saw my final 10 Days as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, the end of 4 years working for Writing West Midlands as a Lead/Assistant Writer for their Spark Young Writers Group in Worcester and although I am not saddened by this particular transition– I have just 3 weeks left in full time employment (which is funding my trip to Australia in the summer).
I intentionally missed every poetry event this week to conserve energy for the WLF – Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe – the emotional onslaught of watching another poet taking up the mantle of Laureate and the amount of work. work I have to balance meant that there was no time or energy left to support anything else.
I was desk busy: creating 10 Days – a sequence of films charting my final 10 Days as WPL -reflecting back over the year. These were fun to make but time consuming. Especially after uploading I would spot an incorrect frame and have to go back to the virtual cutting room floor!
Editing the final WPL Anthology Collection of Science/Maths based poems, wrapping up the Twin Town project between Voiron & Droitwich and reading submissions for the final WPL Contour (although perhaps not the final Contour).
My WPL Twin Town project between Droitwich and Voiron went live on June 7th.
This features 9 poets from England and France exchanging poems on the town and writing responses using something in the original town poem which sparked inspiration.
The collection is bi-lingual and poetry appears in English, French & Portuguese. There is a Food Festival in Droitwich this month and I am hoping to meet Madeleine Silvestri from Voiron Twinning Association, who found the Poet Alain Graz who helped me find our French town poets.
The Anthology can be read here Twin Town.
My poetry films can be found here 10 Days
On Saturday I joined a collective of Stanza Poets in the Forest of Dean for a Heritage Poetry Project organised by Andy Hoaen. After his involvement in survey/heritage work ‘Veteran Tree History Project Speech House Survey’ he decided he wanted to create something. His vision:
I would like to see this as an opportunity for an encounter between two different ways of seeing the world, archaeology with its rigorous approach routed in scientific “objective” description of place and space, and poets with their ability to succinctly capture the essence of things and provide an imaginative subjective view on the world.
It was an interesting and fruitful day for photography and notes and now we all hope to create some tree poetry and more. There may be an exhibition or pamphlet. It was also a great day out and lovely to see some poets who are sadly missed at Stanza meetings.
© Kathy Gee (no filters)
I wanted the Science/Maths Anthology (my final WPL Anthology) to go live before the Festival Launch and as I was (I just deleted ‘am’) the 7th Poet Laureate I scheduled the arrival for 7:07 AM!
You can read the collection here.
Then it was onto the opening of Worcestershire LitFestival & Fringe.
It was a great Launch – one of the best, although the judging panel missed the Young Writers Competition reading and the Flash Fiction winners as we were interviewing and preparing to judge the WPL competition. My fellow judges were Polly Stretton (former WLF Director), Stephen Wilson (Arts, County) & Rachel Evans (Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate).
The finalists were Peter Sutton, Betti Moretti & Sarah Leavesley and it was a close competition. It was a pleasure to hear them perform poetry that we judged anonymously just a few weeks ago. Any one of them would have been a worthy winner and done Worcestershire proud. There can only be one winner though and this year it was Betti Moretti.
Before the winner was announced I performed the poems which won me the Laureateship: Lit Up & Tasseomancy.
I couldn’t believe the length of appreciative applause at the end. It was a joyous moment.
© Catherine Crosswell
I had previously joked (since about March when you have to start promoting the competition) that I was going to be the 1st WPL who refused to step down. It was Betti’s idea (for the record) but we had a little tug ‘o’ war over the award.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would have been to congratulate the new WPL and hand it all over. Some relief even, perhaps.
© Catherine Crosswell
Coffee and cake wouldn’t have fuelled another year at acceleration and it isn’t as if I am not busy.
It was a delight to be part of the event (although if I could, I would have got out of judging), part of the remit – I knew it was coming. Thought it was nice how we were up on the balcony rather than beside the stage as in previous years. This was possibly easier for the finalists. Although there is nothing easy about being a finalist. It is a hard, emotional competition.
A full review of the Launch and announcement of the New WPL here Launch of WLF 2018
Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe dominated the week, the festival ran from 10th-16th June and was as fantastic as ever. I had to get used to not posting everything on https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/ but at least the waters of the fountain are well and truly active and in full spring again!
You can read write ups of the events I was involved in:
Tuesday 12th – Night at the Museum IV – a wonderful night organised by Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2016-17), Suz Winspear – featuring Young Worcestershire Poet Laureate Rachel Evans, Former YPL Chloe Clarke, Nina Lewis Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2017-18) and the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti in the first half and Suz Winspear in the 2nd half with her poems from the Archives to celebrate the end of her 2 year Residency at Royal Worcester. It was a marvellous evening.
Wednesday 13th 42 Festival Special – A wonderful evening that saw the Antipoet back in Worcester, with their new book – published by Black Pear Press.
© Donna Ray
In the second half a plethora of 42 regulars took to the stage for a themed night ‘The Bewitched Worcestershire Inn’.
Thursday 14th June SpeakEasy Special at Worcester Arts Workshop. Headlined by the amazing Dub Thieves, it was also Betti Moretti’s official WPL hand-over with her newly engraved WPL award. A superb night of performances and some who were new to SpeakEasy too.
Festival By The River – LitFest Take Over.
An exciting opportunity arose in the Spring to be part of the festival happening at the Weorgoran Pavilion on South Quay, Worcester. The events for the 10 day festival have been programmed by Cat Roberts. The Festival launched on Friday 15th
and on the 16th Peter Sutton and I took to the stage and what a sparkly, wondrous stage it is!
I spent a while creating a water based set and wrote some long awaited poems from our Canal trip (Poet’s Day Out) 2017. I had great fun compiling the half hour set.
It was a brilliant end to my week.
I spent some time over the weekend planning the next couple of events and promoting ATOTC, 30-40-60, ARTSFEST and PoARTry. I also had a rare day off from poetry.
Started with an evening organising the Launch/ Reading Event for PoARTry Ledbury with Leena Batchelor. We already have 12 people interested in reading at the event. The next stage is to confirm dates and then we can get on with creating the schedule and marketing the event.
I finally managed time to create answers for the remaining four questions sent to me to market the Perth Poetry Festival and I started working on an interview for a new article. More on that news soon.
I promoted 30-40-60 which is soon to be rehearsed and performed again (July).
I promoted the UK/USA readings for ATOTC which I am very excited by.
Ludlow Fringe Festival
Dirty Laundry Launch with Deb Alma & Guest Poets.
I was one of Deb’s Guest Poets at this Launch along with Angela Topping, Roz Munro Derry, Holly Magill & Ruth Stacey. It was a fantastic evening and lovely to share a meal in The Blue Boar first and have a good catch up.
A full review can be found here.
During the week I worked on interviews and poetry, organised my final WWM session and promoted Festival events.
I attended a Room 204 Workshop in Birmingham at Evolve (which back in the day was the Adam & Eve and venue for Sunday Xpress). Creative Writing to Promote Wellbeing workshop by Emma Marks & Sandra Griffiths of The Red Earth Collective CIC, was a half day event on Creative Writing in the Mental Health Setting.
A half day course for writers who want to develop or improve creative writing workshops for people with a lived experience of mental health problems. The workshop will be an experimental and engaging reflection on ideas and issues associated with running creative writing workshops within a mental health setting. © Red Earth
It was an intense and useful workshop with plenty of participation. I have more ideas now than ever and a good network of support for future ventures in this direction.
Having missed 1.5 days of work to attend Festivals & training I hit the ground running and had a backlog of assessment marking which came home with me and sadly meant I missed Rob Francis at Dear Listener, the fault of my work schedule. test marking and the lack of time to reach the city. No guilt here – only frustration!
This is the weekend I missed 2 events I was supposed to attend and had a clash of two events too. This always makes me feel low. I wish I could clone myself and attend everything!
On Friday night I had hoped to make it to Birmingham Waterstones for the Verve Poetry Press Book Launch of Leon Priestnall and Nafeesa Hamid’s Debut collections.
Sadly I missed it, you can read about it and find out more about these new collections here When You Miss Something BIG!
BUY A COPY Leon Priestnall is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. © Verve Poetry Press
BUY A COPY Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming. © Verve Poetry Press
There was also a welcome return of Confab Cabaret in Malvern and they had Elvis McGonagall Headlining and I had a chance to get to Stratford Poetry Festival to see Tony Harrison. Of course neither of these events were possible as I was already committed to the Book Launch. Exhaustion is a hard thing to forgive.
On Saturday I headed to The Hive for my last Spark Young Writer group. It has been a pleasure to work for WWM for the past 4 years, 3 of those as a Lead Writer and I shall miss this part of my writing life a lot!
Afterwards I planned to go to Stratford Poetry Festival to The Black Box event, which was part of a schools/education project I worked on this Spring. My eldest nephew also had a very important birthday – plans for Sunday were rearranged to Saturday and I was already late as they started whilst I was still in my WWM session. I decided I couldn’t miss his momentous occasion and so instead bailed on watching the children perform at the festival. If there is one thing guaranteed to make you feel more guilty than exhaustion it is letting children down!
Saturday also saw a 10th Birthday Summer Party for Nine Arches Press, having attended their celebrations before for a few years, I was gutted when I discovered this clashed with WWM and my nephew’s birthday party!
I knew I was never able to go – this did not stop me wanting to be there. Again, I have heard wonderful reviews. Sharing photos that have been shared on social media.
#TenforNine: Nine Arches Press celebrates ten years of publishing
Join us to celebrate ten years of publishing with a series of birthday events on Saturday 23rd June at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
© Nine Arches Press will publish new work by ten poets in 2018.
(Top: l-r Aviva Dautch, Romalyn Ante, Sarala Estruch, Robert Peake, Josephine Corcoran. Bottom: l-r Riche McCaffery, Deborah Alma, Roy McFarlane, Suzannah Evans, Isobel Dixon)
There will be something for everyone:‘The Big Read In’ is a chance for readers’ groups to hear TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poet Jacqueline Saphra (All My Mad Mothers) discussing her work, followed by an exclusive writing workshop with former Canal Laureate Jo Bell as well as the launch of Josephine Corcoran’s debut collection, What Are You After? The evening will see a ‘Birthday Mixtape’ event in the conservatoire’s jazz club, co-hosted by Nine Arches Driector and Editor Jane Commane and Rishi Dastidar (Ticker-Tape) featuring favourite readings from a range of Nine Arches Press poets. © Nine Arches Press
I missed the WLF Poetry Picnic in Cripplegate Park as I had to finish marking before I could journey to Cheltenham for Anna Saunders Book Launch. I also had an opticians appointment earlier in the week and needed to take Mr. G. into town to help me decide which frames to buy. I was walking around with 9 pairs at one point!
Anna’s Book Launch at The Retreat Wine Bar was amazing, a pure night of celebration. Her guests were David Clarke and Jonny Fluffypunk and there was an open mic section with Ghost themed poems to start proceedings. It was packed and the open mic list read like ‘Beautiful South Lyrics’.
Full review COMING SOON.
The main focus this week was the PoARTry Ledbury project, my own writing and Book Launches, more family birthdays and Poetry Festivals. I attempted to keep my schedule free of evening events as this is the busiest time at work with lots of deadlines to meet by the beginning of July and in the current heatwave all I really want to do is feast on ice lollies and sleep!
The date was finally set for the PoARTry event, we decided it then spent a week trying to match schedules before finding an AGM clash with the date and reverting back to the original one, which sadly means Rick Sanders won’t be there.
We have had about half the collective sign up to say they are coming so it looks to be a great evening shaping up. Leena and I now have our work cut out developing a running order/ details of the evening. I am looking forward to it and getting extremely excited about seeing my artist’s work in the flesh. Molly Bythell was my extremely talented partner on this project and our collaboration has been bountiful. I am only framing 2-3 poems but have written close to 20!
On Thursday evening I made my way into Birmingham to David Calcutt’s Book Launch at Waterstones, which was in the Art Room, where I had my own Launch back in 2016. It was great to catch up with people and was a lovely evening. Full review here.
© Elaine Christie
Ledbury Poetry Festival is also underway, I am hoping to get across there at some point. I am definitely there on Tuesday 3rd July.
All in all, an incredible month of ‘not being —— anymore’, getting used to just being again.
So the world goes World Cup Mad but here we are, all about the Poetry!
So the amazing monthly Poetry night SpeakEasy (usually held on the 2nd Thursday of the month) does a Festival Special. It was held at Worcester Arts Workshop and I only knew of one cellar area – like the Cavern and wondered how they were ever going to fit the band in… well, I needn’t have worried because there was another area (now the theatre part makes sense). The stage was fully kitted out ready for the Dub Thieves in the 2nd half and a Poet’s mic was placed on the step, central to the stage – preventing us from impromptu sessions on the instruments. (As if Poets misbehave!)
The first half of the night was book-ended in the traditional way of outgoing Laureate (who could that be?) and new Poet Laureate with a plethora of performers in between including some prose and a former Poet Laureate too. A truly, special evening hosted by the marvellous Charley Barnes (one of the LitFest Directors).
There will be more photos to follow, but here is a taster.
I kicked off the evening with a 10 minute set, I included a poem I wrote for Credo, as it has been a year since Grenfell and although a Festival Special may not appear to the right place for such a poem, I spent my journey listening to the news of the silent walks and ceremonies being held for the first anniversary in memory of the 72 who lost their lives. I also included some new writing, poems I have written over the past few months and finished a fairly serious set with the poem written especially for WLF 2018, for Suz Winspear’s Night at the Museum IV ‘Art Attack’.
Stevie Quick performed a dramatic set including poems about Newton and Thank You Mr Donald. Kevin Brooke apologised for bringing prose to a poetry gig but definitely didn’t need to apologise for the prose, a war story from WW1. Fay Whitfield made her SpeakEasy debut with a stunning set, Sometimes I’m Not Okay was moving and her political poem Skin packed a punch. Tim Stavert performed a poem based on the WPL ‘Future echoes’ theme, his poem Stresses had important things to say about Mental Health. James Burr brought more prose. As a performing artist, I loved Man on the Street. Neil Richards performed several short poems and an emotionally charged poem inspired by ‘Burial’ by Cathy Linh Che.
Then came more Poets Laureate. Suz Winspear treated us to 3 new poems, including some she had written about the canal especially for her Weorgoran Pavilion Festival event on Tuesday 19th June. I loved her poem about the Theatrical Boarding House for actors from the Worcester Theatre Royal.
The first half was closed by the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Betti Moretti. We were treated to a 10 minute set which included her winning poems and amongst others: A Napple a Day, 13 and Genetic Wealth, which is a beautiful poem. A heartfelt and superb set.
And before she had chance to leap off the step Charley presented me with her newly engraved WPL Award and Betti and I had the handover photos. There will never be a serious photo shoot if Betti and I have anything to do with it. I cannot wait to see what we have come up with this time!
The SpeakEasy Special was fantastic fun and a band to finish the night, was perfect. The Dub Thieves were a great band, amazing. They transported the Worcester Arts Workshop to somewhere far away, there was dancing, singing and even some writing. Lots of chatter and laughter… like someplace else I know…
That is nearly it from me for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. I do have one final performance at the Weorgoran Pavilion Festival on Saturday 16th from 12 – 1 PM.
Peter Sutton (WPL 2018 Runner Up) and I will be taking to the stage to share our Worcester poems and more.
A Night at The Museum
is always a great event for WLF. In recent years organised by Suz Winspear (Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2016-17) and Poet in Residence at Royal Worcester (2016-18).
The night included many poets laureate, including former Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke, who is now at university.
Featuring the Museum’s Poet-in-Residence Suz Winspear and friends, including the former Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke, Worcestershire’s current Young Poet Laureate Rachel Evans and the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis.
There is also a chance to have a private view of the newly-refurbished galleries of the Museum of Royal Worcester and to enjoy an evening of poetry.
A plethora of poets, including Worcestershire Poets Laureate and Young Poets Laureate past and present, will be performing their work, and Suz will showcase her new poetry inspired by a year’s work in the museum’s archives, discovering its remarkable collection of rare nineteenth century Japanese books, illustrations and photographs.
I spent Monday night working on my set. It included ‘Art’ based poetry from 2017, my Royal Worcester competition poem ‘The Unfading Cornflower’ – which won 2nd place in 2016 when Suz created her WPL competition with the Museum, as well as poems written during NaPoWriMo 2018 and a new piece which started in historic Royal Worcester research and ended in L.A!
It was fun to try to create a new piece of work for this event.
The night was magical. An adventure around the newly refurbished Museum plus hours of wonderful poetry. Royal Worcester was always a Museum with heart, I loved the old place – but now, it is shiny, modern & inviting and hasn’t lost any of the original charm. I arrived in time to explore, Suz organised a half hour interval to allow the audience Museum time.
The porcelain is well lit and is really shown off amongst complimenting colours and new interactive displays. I particularly love the 70s kitchen. It is definitely family friendly and ready for the 21st Century. Do go and visit. (Details below.) And I think, especially for us there was a display of some of the Archive photos alongside Suz’s poems.
The night was opened by Suz Winspear and then Worcestershire YPL Rachel Evans shared a couple of her poems including the winning YPL poem. Despite exam time she joined us all for a night of poetry, true dedication and a delight to watch perform again.
Then I shared my Art set,
the new poem ‘Art Attack’ went down well and got more laughs than I had expected.
Next Chloe Clarke took to the floor – we have not seen each other since LakeFest, 10 months ago! It was a joy to hear Chloe’s poems again and her self-assured performance was a treat and her Key poem, just funny & fabulous! It was lovely to reconnect.
To finish the first half, our new Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Betti Moretti treated us to her winning poems and one from her first WPL Final (where she came 2nd) and more besides.
This was Betti’s first official WLF/WPL event although she did have a Guest Spot Monday at Licensed to Rhyme. Betti is in that early onset whirlpool stage of being bombarded with all things Laureate. It was a great set and thoroughly enjoyed!
After our extended interval where we all went to view the museum and Chloe and I fell in love with the big chair…
Suz Winspear performed the 2nd half. A half hour of poetry from the Porcelain Museum Archives. It was brilliant hearing the history and her residency experience first hand and she set our minds to places before sharing the connected poetry which made us all feel that we had been with her when she made discoveries in the books that cannot be displayed.
I loved her poems and hearing about her research and experiences was enchanting. I know Suz has a deep affiliation with Japan and all things Japanese so this interconnection has been thrilling for her.
It was a superb evening! I am still on a LitFest high!
Visit Royal Worcester
£5.50/£6.50 – children under 15 FREE.
INFORMATION & RELATED LINKS:
Museum of Royal Worcester
Severn Street, WORCESTER, WR1 2ND
The Museum of Royal Worcester is situated in the city’s Historic Quarter, within two minutes walk of the Cathedral, Commandery, Birmingham Canal and River Severn. An informative and entertaining audio tour featuring Henry Sandon and skilled craftsmen is free with entry and tells the story of the factory’s history, its famous customers, the talented workforce and everyday life. Gallery displays from 1751 to the 20th century include Oriental simplicity and Victorian extravaganza and offer a glimpse of times past, taking the visitor on a memorable journey from 1751 to the present day.
The Museum Shop is a treasure trove where you will find an abundance of vintage and antique Royal Worcester china and porcelain that was made in Worcester on the Severn Street factory site.
Suz’s 2016 WPL Competition
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.
This gallery contains 16 photos.
Originally posted on Poet Laureate:
Following the news of the death of Stephen Hawking in March, I decided that we should have a collection of poems focusing on Science & Maths. As poets we are naturally curious which is something Stephen Hawking encouraged his students to be. I hope you enjoy these poems, huge gratitude…
May was a huge month for editing and writing and marked my final full month as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, a position I have loved. Who wouldn’t want to be an ambassador for poetry? I was also juggling working full time with a full schedule.
Still learning how to balance full time work with a writing career, I found a lack of energy and time were enemies to my To Do list.
My final Worcestershire Poet Laureate submission windows opened. One for Scientific/Mathematical poetry in honour of Stephen Hawking and the other for the final edition of Contour WPL Magazine, Issue 4 Celebration & End of an Era.
I spent most of the week working on A Tale Of Two Cities Special Edition Contour Magazine.
I received news of a recent submission being successful. One of my Jinney Ring Sculpture Workshop poems is to be published in Domestic Cherry Issue 6. I join many poetry friends in this issue and what is more we get to read our poems at an event in the Swindon Poetry Festival, which is great. This will be my 4th year attending Swindon Poetry Festival and it is always amazing. Last year I was booked as a V. Press poet in V. Formation, reading alongside Stephen Daniels and Gram Joels. This year I knew I was heading down after National Poetry Day (I have a booked gig), now I know I will get to read too. Wonderful.
My role as Reader in Residence for West Midlands Reader’s Network was wrapped up in an evaluation which took an incredible amount of time to write, but future funding depends on such things and I was able to use some of it in a public review for Warwickshire Libraries too. I sent reviews of Book Review Workshops and the Poetry on Demand event for the Rugby Library website.
I received finalist poems for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Poet Laureate Competition. I have a fortnight to judge these poems. I am looking forward to discovering who the finalists are on the 10th June. This year the finals will be held at The Angel Centre – which is the 4th venue for the WPL finals.
Over the weekend I secured an interview with Kate Garrett on her recent charity venture ‘Bonnie’s Crew’, took some poems for a polish and prepared for the final WPL event at Hanbury Church.
Started with a Bank Holiday and sunshine. I hosted the final WPL event, a reading at Hanbury Church of our Sculpture Trail poems from the Jinney Ring workshop. A full review of the event will be posted soon. To my delight this event has also lead to future work.
It seemed strange that this was it, as far as WPLaureating goes.
I had tight deadlines for copy, reviews, interviews and editing this week. Promotion has started for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival. Scott-Patrick Mitchell is responsible for a lot of the streaming online. He has sent interview questions to use as part of the Marketing & Promotion of the festival. I completed the bulk of an interview on time but had a few questions that needed a more considered response. Everything is in place for the marketing machine now though.
I spent some time prepping Q&A for the ‘In Conversation’ event at the BMI.
I was fortunate enough to get to PTS (Permission to Speak) which featured the Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists taking over the hosting for the evening and featuring artists from The Black Country Broadsheet project. It was a great night of high energy hosted by Dave Pitt featuring: R.M Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger & Casey Bailey. I shared my NaPo poems (not all 30)! A full review can be found here
The following night I headed over to Birmingham to the BMI (Birmingham & Midland Institute) for an In Conversation & Reading of Fragile Houses. Another fabulous night in the John Lee Theatre. Read the full review here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/open-conversation-bmi/
This was a great opportunity to reach a new audience and was booked last Winter, I had been looking forward to it for a while.
I am delighted Roy McFarlane is the Poet in Residence there and look forward to his programme of events and get more involved in Birmingham again.
I planned to spend the weekend editing, I mainly slept – being a busy poet and working full-time is not easy. I did manage a good shift on ATOTC and got the main frame of the magazine complete – overcoming lots of horrendous formatting issues. Sadly I realised I had missing Bios and so put a call out for those.
I am hoping that before the end of the month we will have the special edition ready for upload.
What is a perfect way to start the week? A workshop with the exuberant Ash Dickinson of course! Having missed the opportunity to do one in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme!
Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/ash-dickinson-workshop-licensed-to-rhyme/
It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week.
Lorna Meehan headlines next month – so I need to get my diary free *although I think it falls during Worcestershire LitFest.
On Thursday I had intended to hit Birmingham at the Twisted Tongues event (usually held in Derby), however after a long day at work and with a weekend of events scheduled I did the sensible thing (very unlike me) and spent the night in the garden enjoying the end of the sun before having a relatively early night.
I spent a lot of the week compiling the Special Edition Contour Magazine and chasing poets for photos.
On Friday I whizzed from work straight to The Hive in Worcester for a Book Launch. Cutting the Green Ribbon – debut poetry collection for Katy Wareham Morris, published by Hesterglock Press.
Katy was joined by Guest Readers Holly Magill, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – it was a superb night of poetry. Full review coming soon.
I surprised myself on Saturday by firstly forgetting there was a Royal Wedding (I was reading poetry books and working on a submission) and secondly by writing about it. I had not planned to and I know many poets balk at this sort of sentimentality – but important events during one’s Laureateship ought to be marked and so I found myself with laptop on lap, catching up with images from the BBC whilst watching the ceremony from the point of the Bishop’s Address onward and I did manage to write something.
I finished the week being a Poetry Judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Launch at Parks Cafe. Sarah celebrated the launch of her new novella Always Another Twist and latest poetry collection How to Grow Matches. It was a charity event in aid of St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester and a fantastic evening (even if I did want to run away with the prizes)! A full review will be posted soon.
Sarah was joined by Guest Readers: Holly Magill, Jenny Hope & Liz Kershaw and the night was MCed by Charley Barnes.
The week started with a well earned day off work to fill with Poetry work. This year I was invited to be part of the Living Library event at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester. The event is organised annually by Librarian Linda Bromyard and enables several classes from Year 7 to come and meet real writers and talk to them about their work. Again, I will be writing full reviews of work from May soon and this event will certainly be given one. It was as inspiring for the adults as the students, I would have loved something like this when I was studying English.
The deadline for judging this year’s WPL finalist poems came around fast. I enjoyed reading this year’s entries, I am not so much enjoying sitting in judgement at the finals, but will part of a team of 5 judges and it is part of the WPL remit accepted last year. My hat goes off to poets who judge competitions with 100s of entries, it is a tough job.
I FINALLY gained access to the Arts Council portal (being trying since 27th April) only to find the decision was a no. Ironically the new system is more suited to individual bids, I used the British Council funding scheme a joint venture with the Arts Council. I rushed to get mine in before 1st March deadline and may have been better to wait for the new batch and changes in the system.
Still, I took on the full time teaching role to pay for it and now I have the freedom to enjoy it evaluation free. The bid was to cover my travel to Australia for the Perth Festival and some workshops back in the UK after the event. At least I learnt how to apply for funding and also had the pleasure of analysing statistical data which shows my work this year has impacted on over 360 individuals. Lots to celebrate.
On the same day I discovered this failure I was also Headlining at Poetry Bites. It has been a while since I headlined a gig and it was a pleasure. Again full review waiting in a queue.
I had to plan my Australian workshop and send a 200 marketing blurb this week. It is based on themes pulled from Fragile Houses and is going to be great. I am really looking forward to this experience and have scheduled time when term finishes to get prepared. The review of July will be simpler – it will just say…
Preparing for Australia!
I have also been working on the final three WPL projects:
- Contour Issue 4 WPL Digital Poetry Magazine
- Twin Town European Poetry Exchange
- Every Word Counts – Science/Maths Anthology
Contour Issue 4 the Celebration issue is still open for submissions until my final day as Laureate 10.6.18, I have been busy catching up with the Headliners of SpeakEasy for the interview section and have an article or two to add (new feature).
Most of the poets involved managed their poetry exchanges before the deadline, I stepped in and wrote a response poem and a Town poem in case the final poet didn’t manage it. We are now just waiting on a final response poem from a poet who received it over 2 weeks late, a June deadline has been negotiated and I have secured my good friend Nathalie Brooker to work on my French translations. This should be live in June, publication is planned for 10th June, the day I end my Laureateship.
Every Word Counts
I spent time long listing poems from the 30 day submission window.
A much needed break from work, 9 days in my poetry skin.
I planned my penultimate WWM Spark Writers group – they are sad to see me go, they are not the only ones. My sensitive poet’s heart could crack with all these changes!
I spent some time organising the first of the UK ATOTC readings. A collaborative of 11 who will read call/response poems during the 2nd part of the evening as part of Artsfest 2018.
I made the final promo pushes for the last 2 WPL submissions. Had a lovely night at Waterstones celebrating the Launch of Deborah Alma’s new Nine Arches Press collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ a full blog post owed for that night too!
I made it to 42 and the newly refurbished Drummonds for a night that was pure entertainment.
I finish the month with mild exhaustion and the hope that the few submissions I have managed to make this month will find themselves a home amongst pages. Fingers crossed.
June sees the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival, the crowning of a new Poet Laureate, the finalists in the running are Sarah Leavesley, Betti Moretti & Peter Sutton. The Launch takes place on the 10th June 2:30 pm at the Angel Centre, Worcester and sadly will mark my last day as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.
Other events to look forward to are: Meet the Authors, Stanza in the Forest of Dean for a Forestry/Poetry project, the rest of the WLF Programme, I am performing on Tuesday at Night at the Museum, Wednesday at 42 Special with the Anti-Poet, Thursday at SpeakEasy Festival Special and Saturday as part of The Ring Project.
I am performing as part of Ludlow Fringe Festival, have my final ever WWM Spark Young Writer Group, attending the Stratford Poetry Festival for the schools project with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, attending and performing at a few book launches and finishing the month with Ledbury Poetry Festival.
At the desk I am working on a current manuscript, prep for Perth Poetry Festival (Australia, not Scotland), Contour Issue 4 Digital poetry magazine, The Twin Town Poetry Anthology & a collection to mark the passing of Stephen Hawking featuring Science/Mathematical poetry Every Word Counts.
Plenty of work to absorb the extraction of my Laureateship! And who knows in between I may even get to write and sleep!
The last 6 weeks has been much harder than the 15 years I spent not writing whilst I focused on my career. A career I gave up on in 2013 after an 8 year slide into depression. I have spent the past 5 years doing what I do best without having to put up with all the hoop jumping, red tape, politics and thankless 80 hour weeks! I also spent the last half a decade saying a resounding NO to any opportunity to work longer than a 2 week period.
However with an International Poetry Festival scheduled I felt the universe was delivering when I was offered a complete term. Here I am halfway through, I managed a whole month and a half back at the chalk-face full time (almost, some pre-booked poetry events allowed me a little time off for good behaviour). It has certainly been a hectic whirlwind working and freelancing simultaneously!
Tonight I am celebrating my 9 day freedom by working on everything in the montage above and more. My poetry skin is slipped back on and I do not need to think about work (or report writing) for a while.
This Bank Holiday weekend I am spending some time offline with Mr. G. as the Bank Holiday at the beginning of May was filled with Poetry Events.
I have a fortnight left as Worcestershire Poet Laureate and excitingly the judging process has begun to find the next one, the three finalists have been announced by themselves across social media, not sure WLF have posted the official announcements yet.
I am planning my penultimate Spark Young Writer group for Writing West Midlands, many of us have been given the nod this year. It is not a forever job, they tell you this at the beginning. WWM like to support as many writers as they can and they feel these roles benefit from fresh Leaders and so, if you are lucky you will squeeze about 3 years out of the deal. I will be sad to lose this part of my writing life, but it has been a fantastic opportunity and left me with a bank of wonderful, creative plans and activities to incorporate into future work/workshops for Young Adults/children.
I have a backlog of Blog posts to come reviewing Book Launches, Festival appearances and interviews.
I am working on Issue 4 of Contour, the final WPL digital magazine and reading submissions to the Science collection. There is still time to submit your work to both, just follow these links:
The Twin Town is going well, the European Project hosts just 4 collaborations, certainly an easier task to manage than ATOTC, with it’s mammoth 23 pairings! Several French/Anglo pairs have completed their poems and the deadline is this evening, so I am hoping to wrap it up before the end of my tenure (10th June). The French work is being translated, a truly bilingual collection.
I am currently organising events for the Poetry Day at Artsfest 2018 and as part of the Poetry Extravaganza in the evening we will have the first UK ATOTC Collective Reading.
A few weeks ago many poets received copies of Bonnie’s Crew, a poetry anthology compiled by Kate Garrett to raise funds for Leeds General Infirmary Congenital Hearts Unit, via the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.
Kate agreed to an interview a few weeks ago, I hope to start promoting it as soon as I can. It is a fabulous collection of poems.
Here is her Just Giving Page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew
And then I shall have an early night and be bright eyed for getting creative tomorrow.