Tag Archives: Writing poetry

Review of the Month January 2016

Standard

What a strange start to the year, so much change and loss. I do not feel that I can write a review of this month without a mention of Sammy Joe, who sadly passed away on the 5th January. Events that I attend weeks later are still making tributes to her and many of us still cannot believe that she has gone. Her funeral is early February and a donation page has been set up to raise money for Mental Health Charities.

Many of us (artists and non-artists) suffer mental health issues from time to time or all the time, it is the nature of using our minds, the depths a creative soul can rise and fall. Anyway instead of flowers some of us are pledging a donation in the hope that other people can experience a better kind of care and understanding.

I for one find it difficult to imagine not seeing Sammy at an event again, my thoughts are still very much with her family and close ones, her daughter and everyone who has known her. Whether you knew her for a few years or more, she will have touched your life in some way either through her brutally honest poetry or through conversation or her cuddly hugs. I wish I had known her for longer than I have, I feel good to have known her and thank her for all our heart to hearts.

Rest in Peace  Sammy x BL RH Sammy Joe © Rangzeb Hussain 2015

 

 CHANGES ON THE CIRCUIT – EVENTS

This month also saw the end of Mouth & Music for a while, back in 6 months time hopefully.

SpeakEasy will still continue as it is part of the Worcester LitFest but after two years at the helm Maggie Doyle & Fergus McGonigal are retiring from organising and MCing the event, the last chance to catch them hosting will be next month.

——-

JANUARY – BACK TO WRITING

For me January was the month I learnt to swim again *not literally. The end of 2015 from November onwards saw a slow decline in productivity, I found I was unable to write, by December I was barely trying. I had the weight of other things crowding my mind and the ‘love of writing’ spell broke for a while. This deflated me, as it was the first dip I had felt since embarking back into a writing life. It usually makes me feel great, even during periods of editorial rejection or non-submission, but by the end of 2015 I had ground to a halt. I knew I would pass GO again, just wasn’t sure when. I tried not to worry, but wasn’t happy with the negative projection I was giving writing.

I knew I would still carry on with this dream, but was dreading January becoming another winter month of no writing.

Fortunately the month kicked off a few days in with a Claire Walker Workshop, in which I managed to write a poem and faith was restored. The action plan was drawn up and I organised 4 writing days this month as well as working evenings and weekends to get everything done. There has been a lot of editing too.

I wrote over 21 new poems and submitted work to 9 different places. See I told you I meant business. It still amazes me that organising submissions can still take 3-5 hours even when the material is ready. A few revision lessons in not leaving things to the last minute, have managed that well as everything to be sent by 31/1 was actually out by 3oth! Leaving me a whole day at the end of this month to get ready for February. Yes the Action Plan is already saved.

This is my year of WRITING (I keep telling myself).

2013 the year for (re)learning and finally finding poetry

2014 the year of the gig, festivals and commissioned work

2015 the year of headlining and writing my first chapbook

2016 the year of editing/writing

I have had poetry accepted by I Am Not A Silent Poet, Abridged, Maligned Species Fairacre Press. A total of 5+ poems out there for eyes to read. That’s smashing. I will write more about these publications next month.

Contaminated

Your Sentence of Non-Guilt

Poems for Ashraf Fayadh published in I Am Not a Silent Poet

Expectation – Abridged Floodland Issue

Colonisation

Quantum Wonderment – Fairacre Press, Maligned Species Project Spider E-book

I also discovered the poetry of Patience Agbabi. I went to watch her perform at The Hive. I enjoyed a night at the 52 Launch this evening and will blog about both events next month.

Week 1

Workshop – with Claire Walker, new poetry written, performed at The Ort, booked Headline slot for February.

Week 2

Booked tickets for Patience Agbabi & Liz Berry, performed at Mouth & Music & SpeakEasy, went to Poets by the Lake to watch Sarah James, Bert Flitcroft & Roy McFarlane – an event facilitated by David Calcutt, submitted poems, wrote new ones – including some I performed in my set at SpeakEasy, Daniel Sluman invited me to his book launch in February.

Week 3

Wrote and submitted more poetry, published on I Am Not A Silent Poet, thanks Reuben Woolley, I read a lot about Ashraf Fayadh and watched other poets and politicians performing his work, there was an online event on the 22nd in support of his release but I was working my day job and unable to participate. I received a nice rejection email from Little Lantern Press, I had sent work for the next anthology on Loss back in 2015. I started to research modern love and wrote a poem about pearly presents which I took to Stanza.

Week 4

I did a lot of research for the Maligned Species Project which was released by Fairacre Press back in the Autumn and naturally I left it until the last week to work on submissions. It is a really interesting project which again I will blog about in more detail, I have had 2 poems accepted for the spider e-book. I am delighted to have a poem published in the next issue of Abridged too, I was accepted 3x on Friday night – that was a buzz and shows what an activated action plan can achieve!

I am still working on my manuscript and have by-passed 2 self imposed deadlines. I know the editor would rather have a manuscript that is ready though, especially after all this time. It has been on the top of the desk this week and I am part way through.

I was sent an email which made my day/year – someone on twitter had tweeted that in the whole of Paper Swans Press ‘Schooldays’ Anthology the end line of my poem was their favourite line in the WHOLE book! I have read it (RECOMMEND) and know how good the poetry is!

I made more submissions and received another rejection from a magazine I have tried to break since 2015 – does one give up or keep going?

I watched Patience Agbabi perform at The Hive – wow – wowed!

I signed up for a Warwick University course Literature & Mental Health – which starts in February. I started using my Kindle Fire *Thank you Mr G – Christmas pressie!*

I have just come back from the launch of the 52 Prompt book at the MAC, more on this soon.

I wrote my ACTION PLAN for next month!

 

The Things to Come…. Marvellous May

Standard

The Hay House Summit has finished, missed most of the final sessions as I was busy with workshops and performances. My MOOC course ‘How Writers Write Poetry’ – University of Iowa is in its final few days, I am mainly saving resources and completing some of the internal projects which I encountered during the 7 weeks. I take a lot away from this course including 10 decently edited and possibly ready (although currently resting in that metaphoric drawer) poems.

CN-1780-logo-uofiowa

Both elements of April/May have been great fun and have served me well. I have a whole notebook from Hay House and several print outs and saved websites and resources to refer back to and explore more when I have the time.

hay house logo

I have also 48hours off from performing – in which time I will be catching up, blogging and possibly working on more writing.

It is an exciting time and you have these posts to look forward to (some may appear in Poetry Wraps);

  • The WLF Programme – Worcester LitFest 2015
  • Ledbury Poetry Festival 2015
  • Longlisted for WPL – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015-16
  • SpeakEasy with Angela Topping and Sarah James
  • Published by Paper Swans
  • Stanza
  • Tickets for John Hegley
  • 42, Fairies & Pixies
  • Writing a poem inspired by Jonathan Edwards (Costa Award winning poet)
  • Workshop with Angela France
  • Word Up
  • Opus Club with Hannah Silva

and of course the monthly review.

So I had best get writing, keep reading!

x

Caldmore Community Garden Workshop with Poet in Residence David Calcutt

Standard

caldmore ccg_logoI was lucky enough to make the final workshop at Caldmore Community Gardens on the 9th December, it was great to see Janet and Jimmy again and we had fun writing poetry about a particular area in the garden, we then worked together, playing with what we had written. It resulted in several promising group poems, it is now David Calcutt’s job to mesh our words together into a final poem.

Rather excitedly this poem will then be written into a path for the public to enjoy as they walk up to the wild garden.

I cannot wait to see the final product, work is planned for sometime in the New Year.

caldmore david-portrait-1

December Review – Week 1 – Work, Stanza, Southcart Books & Reading Aloud

Standard

best teacher This week there was a high proportion of time committed to earning extra Christmas money by spending more days doing the day job than anything else, which I have found exhausting. No surprise considering my tasks included; teaching 120 different children in a morning, creating modroc volcanoes, papier mache Greek masks, adjudicating and marking test papers and having two days at a school where every lesson was in a different classroom with different kids (unusual in the Primary setting). By Thursday I was asleep at 7pm and Friday wasn’t much better. Good job I have already committed to cutting back on the performance poetry scene. Although I have noticed this sudden lack of creativity and socialisation has taken a toll on the way I feel emotionally. I gain inner strength from this full diary of writing events and activities and there is something to be said for the adrenalin boost too. 2015 is going to be a year of learning ‘balance’.

type I had time to write – but found some projects impossible to research without internet access (how dependent we have become), our connection failed on Monday and has only just been rectified – some signalling problem they said. (Our central heating and hot water has also broken!) I did manage to complete my Wild Fire Poem for David Calcutt (from the workshop in October)! I took it to Stanza on Friday and received some editing advice which makes it even stronger. Workshop poetry doesn’t always work outside of the bubble it was created in and I think some people were finding the connections I made difficult to understand which made me worry, so I went back to the drawing board with it. I performed it yesterday at Southcart Books to an audience that included fellow workshop participants and David to a positive reception.

After a week at work I was looking forward to our festive Stanza meeting, my first poetry related gathering for a week. As always it was a fun evening, I love the spirit of our members, listening to high quality poetry, receiving advice from writers I trust and having time to talk, because there never is enough time to connect personally at events. Our festive Stanza Meeting included Mulled Wine, a bounty of nibbles, included gorgeous homemade cakes and a Poetry Society mug. PS Mugshot

My only other nod to the former on-the-road-poet-life of 2013/14 was a trip out (and around many times) to Walsall – I must get my SATNAV fixed, trying to follow unsigned roads is a tad difficult for me on a Saturday (or any other day of the week for that matter)! I was dreading the Christmas traffic, but the roads and motorways were relatively clear, in fact I got home quicker than last time, however, getting there took an hour as I went wrong in the town centre five times, got snarled in the one way system and even had a police car follow me for a mile at one point. My poetry life would not be the same without an exciting road trip story to arrive with. My first collection should be called :LOST:

The Reading Aloud event ran from 11am – 4pm and I always knew I would never make it for the start. It was midday before I set off. I was hoping to make it in time to see the end of the morning, then I got lost.

It was worth every penny of extra petrol though. Southcart Books is a wonderful Independent Bookshop and if you are every in Walsall you should pop in for a browse, chat and buy a book or two. Scott and Amy are very enthusiastic about books and writers, there is a special warmth inside this haven.

sc scott and amy © Walsalladvertiser

Southcart-Books

20 Lower Hall Ln, Walsall, West Midlands WS1 1RL

Open 9.30 -4.30

Southcart Books are the only independent bookshop in Walsall helping get the word around for local writers and artists.

Situated in a grade 2 listed building, Southcart Books sells new, used and antique books. They hold community events such as book signings and book readings. 

Original source; http://creativewalsall.com/southcart-books/ © 2014 Creative Walsall

caldmore david-portrait-1

David Calcutt organised the Reading Aloud Event in support of Small Business Saturday (Nationwide) 6th December 2014. He hosted a pleasurable day of talented wordsmiths, who all took to the chair for their readings. I’ve never performed a set sitting down before, it was a new experience. I wasn’t sure what to do with my feet and I can’t say I was entirely comfortable. However, as an audience member it was like being invited into your own private Jackanory and I enjoyed the change.

I felt absorbed by this experience and was glad I made it in time for lunch and mingling, I met a few poets I didn’t know, had time to catch up with those I do know and managed a quick browse the shelves too. I ended up treating myself to three Poetry books (my own personal Christmas presents), I look forward to reading them in the New Year.

It was lovely to hear lengthy sets (15mins) as often you only get a snippet of poetry at Open Mics. I am finding it difficult to express how great the afternoon was so I am going to say it with synonyms; fascinating, inspiring, impressive, wonderful and marvellous and then let David say the rest – he said it so much better;

It felt a real privilege today to be host to such a diverse, talented and friendly group of writers today at Southcart Books – Martin Hughes, Ann Clarson, Janet Jenkins, Angela Nock, Jane James, Eileen Ward-Birch, Chris Fewings, Sammy Joe, Antony R Owen, Nina Lewis and Bert Flitcroft.

Thank you very much to Scott Carter and Amy for hosting this and providing a comfortable and atmospheric reading space. Southcart Books is such a strong, independent bookshop. Just the place you should visit. Thank you again to all the readers.

Here are a couple of photographs capturing the Reading Aloud event, © 2014 Stuart Williams

SC chris Stuart williams

Chris Fewings

SC Tony

Antony R Owen

—————————————–

To round off the week I am typing up poems scribbled in my notebook over the past few weeks and if I have time (Mr G and I are also ‘tackling’ the house) I will be submitting some work too.

One Week in October – Poetry Festivals, Events, Weddings and a Commission.

Standard

Reviewing October weekly as my writing life is tightly scheduled this month. What an exciting first week it has been. I have really tried to cut down on the amount of events I go to as I need to TIE myself to my desk/ laptop and get writing this October.

 

Opening A Festival

The month started with a surprise phone call from Rachel Green, programme director – Arts All Over the Place – Poetry, Performance (and Everything Else) Festival. Long story, short I sent proposals in September, what I could offer the festival and a bio in just 50 words. A glitch meant that when I contact Rachel, weeks later, the programme had already been devised. She did offer a drama workshop that I could have facilitated, typically it was the one day I was booked for work. I had to turn the opportunity down. AAOTP_3

A few days later she called to ask if I could OPEN THE FESTIVAL – the OPENING EVENT! As with all good drama graduates we are taught to accept the job and worry about the fine print later. This is how I found myself on National Poetry Day dressed as the Poetry Princess and treating an audience to a one-woman show! Still grateful to be saved by the buffet. People enjoyed my crystal delivery and poetry and I was caught in conversation with several attendees about poetry throughout the course of the day. Of course I stuck around for Cathy Crossley and Jan Watts and their National Poetry Day workshop, which resulted in pages of notes for potential poetry.

Later I performed as part of Soulful Poetry event organised and hosted by former Birmingham Laureate, Rob McFarlane. It was great to talk to Roy after the event as well as hearing more of his poetry. He was extremely supportive of my poetry and performance.

me

Birmingham Poet Laureate

After this I hot footed to the Library of Birmingham to support Jasmine Gardosi & Matt Man Windle with their bid to be the next Poet Laureate. I am glad I managed to catch all the performances.  birm poet laureate 2014 Adrian Blackledge became the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2014-2015 and my alliances and friendships with Matt and Jasmine remain intact. In his speech Adrian made a point – that more people write poetry than read poetry… and that maybe something needs to be done about it. I wanted to spend more time in the library but it had been a long day and I had to be up for work.

 

WEDDING

This weekend saw my younger brother getting married – the first wedding in our immediate family. A big occasion and a brilliant wedding that I think only Dave and Jenny could have pulled off. I read ‘I Love You’ by Roy Croft in their service, lots of tissues were needed. My brother and his wife, crying on each new line, my toughest and most intimate audience yet.

I was worried about coughing as well as crying, I am suffering a lingering chest infection. On my second lot of antibiotics and praying these work. It has been extremely challenging teaching, performing and watching events with this loud, hacking cough constantly interrupting!

frugal cafe creative commons champers

Birmingham Literature Festival

All photographs  Birmingham Literature Festival © 2014

On Sunday (fortunately hang over free) I went to see my relatives who had stayed with Mum and then went to Birmingham Literature Festival, I wanted to pack as much in as I knew my schedule wouldn’t allow another day there, until Saturday 11th, when I perform.

BLF With Great Pleasure

I went to see the recording of Radio 4 Poetry Please with Roger McGough, followed by With Great Pleasure, also recorded for BBC Radio 4. Rich McMahon was playing guitar and singing in the foyer BLF Rich McMahon before the evening show at the Rep Theatre of Tell Me on a Sunday, which was a storytelling event set up by Writing West Midlands and Cat Weatherill to share real life stories. Marking the end of 3 years on this project she had selected some of the top stories and tellers to perform and treated us a little to her own stories in between.

BLF Tell me on a sunday

In honesty after the wedding I should have spent the day asleep, I know I would have regretted not making the effort to go to the festival though. I also bumped into an old friend Nicola who I hadn’t seen for years. Funny last time she was working creative/ language jobs and I was teaching full time – now she teaches full time and I am getting creative with job roles.

BLFest

Writing

Monday and Tuesday were spent writing poetry for the Urban Nature Performance/ Commission – which takes place at The Library of Birmingham next Saturday as well as catching up on some neglected household chores, doctors appointments and going to work. NAKED_LUNGS_200x200px

Performing

I have a writing day today and another project to sink my wrists into – I also have a fair few events lined up;

Inkspill biro

Thursday 9th Performing at Anniversary SpeakEasy, Friday attending and performing at the Mad Hatter’s Cosmic Chill Out for the end of Arts All Over the Place Festival, Saturday THE BIG DAY performing in the Birmingham Literature Festival, then having a performing break until next Tuesday. And that’s with reducing the performance schedule!