Tag Archives: Writing West Midlands

Celebrating being a Poet Again!

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DAY 1 of 9

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!

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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.

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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.

WWM

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.

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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:

Contour: https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/submissions-open-contour-final-wpl-issue-4/

Science:  https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/submissions-open-tomorrow-for-the-final-wpl-poetry-collection/

contour final call celebration issue 4 posterStephen Hawking collection

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.

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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.

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UK 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.

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Here is her Just Giving Page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew

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And then I shall have an early night and be bright eyed for getting creative tomorrow.

 

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Adam Speaks – The Project

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room 204

Back in April I was accepted onto Room 204, a writer development programme with Writing West Midlands. Just weeks after the official 2017/18 cohort announcement an opportunity appeared for a National Trust (NT) project at Croome Court.

In 2015/16 the NT facilitated the Plumlines exhibition (which has only recently closed), many Worcestershire poets were involved. This was the period I worked on my book ‘Fragile Houses’ and I had no time to get involved.

Working with two poets, Brenda Read-Brown and Heather Wastie, Croome held workshops with schools, writers groups, history groups and volunteers. 

The ‘Plumlines’ exhibition is a collection of real life stories expressed through 188 one-hundred word poems, written by people from across Worcestershire about a female relatives life during the First World War and is on display from 19 November 2016 until 19 November 2018. © National Trust

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© Jack Nelson 

So I was delighted at this invitation and applied straight away (20th April), we were notified on the 11th May of our places on this project.

 

The remit was to visit Croome and get a sense for the place. Then on 1st July we had a day long workshop with Chris Alton – the Lead Artist for Adam Speaks.

Chris Alton Rachel Hill

© Rachel Hill

Adam Speaks – The Search for an Artist

Croome is working with an emerging artist to develop and make new work responding to Robert Adam’s vision and designs at Croome.  

A new art project at Croome

After the success of the Plumlines the team at Croome are embarking on an exciting new co-production project, mentored by national artist Hew Locke. © National Trust

Many artists applied for his position, including international artists.

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© Peter Young

The original artists brief explains our role. We were one of four partner groups whose ideas fed into the work Chris completed.

 

 

Through innovative participation led by the artist, ideas realised in the workshops
with our four partner groups will set the foundations for the artworks. The selected
groups will input into the ideas stage of the artwork before the production/making
stage. The vision for participation will be supported by Croome. 

 

Croome will support the engagement aspect of the project, liaising with the groups
and managing the project structure. Once both artist and groups have visited
Croome, they will explore ideas based on Adam’s designs, through a series of
workshops that will take place at the groups ‘home ground.’

 

The selected artist, supported by Hew Locke, will research Adam’s work at Croome
with the participant groups and develop ideas for the artwork, e.g. what history or
story should be addressed in or influence the work. Looking at and selecting objects
from the collection, the workshops can focus on discussions about the
creative/design/production process, how Adam may have approached it, how artists approach it today. 

 

Why are we doing this?
Through the project, we want to tell the story of Adam (himself an emerging
designer) at Croome in an accessible and interesting way, to introduce new
audiences to his life and work at Croome and make relevant connections to the
impact Adam had on our lives – the ‘everyday’ connections that still exist.

We want Croome to be known as supporting new artists and local communities .We
would like ‘Adam Speaks’ to be a project which is an example of good practice , in its
creative outreach projects and mentoring, helping other Trust properties to develop
further understanding regarding creative collaboration. © National Trust

Kiki Claxton, Creative Programme Coordinator
Rachel Sharpe, Creative Partnerships Manager

Adam Speaks – Chris Alton 

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/chris-alton—adam-speaks-artist

Chris worked with four partner groups: Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts (BITA), Kimichi School, Writing West Midlands and St Barnabas First and Middle School.

Chris was supported and mentored by Hew Locke. Locke is a world renowned artist with artworks owned by the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum to name a few.  He specialises in a wide range of mediums which include sculpture, painting and photography, often within Locke’s work his ideas resonates with historical references and sites. © NT

Chris spent a day in workshops with each group.

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1431782527872-adam-speaks-wwm-170701-19-rfw-credit-peter-young.jpg Writing West Midlands

© Peter Young

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Our Creative Session on July 1st was fun and intensive. An initial starting point was personal objects and discussions about society. The panic some of us felt over the art supplies was soon rested, as we had the pleasure of drawing out our thoughts. It was the longest workshop I have ever done and was greatly rewarding.

 

 

© Peter Young

I hope Chris won’t mind me publicly sharing the words he passed onto Jonathan Davidson (Director WWM) after our workshop.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and was incredible impressed by the calibre of writing exhibited by the group. There were a number of texts produced on the day that I found to be truly moving. The group were an absolute joy to work with; generous, open and bold with regard to their engagement with the subject matter and workshop format. – Chris Alton

I also thoroughly enjoyed my day at Croome Court (25th June), my notebook is full of glorious observations, sketches and words. Possibly a poem or two.

Once Chris had worked with everyone he then went away and spent time at Croome and in the studio creating his ideas and later the finished design and artwork.

RELATED LINKS: 

Plumlines https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/features/croome-plumlines-exhibition

Adam Speaks Launch Croome Court

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Today was the launch of Adam Speaks at Croome Court (National Trust). This is a project I have been working on as part of a team from Room 204, Writing West Midlands.

The Lead Artist on the project was Chris Alton. I will be writing a full blog post as soon as I can. I had a great afternoon at Croome, it was wonderful to see all parts of the collaboration come together and as for Adam’s Tree House (as it is now known), it was an amazing feat of art and engineering! A beautiful space that the NT team at Croome will be using well, I already have the inside line on a few possibilities.

Loved the fact that in the FREE cupcake Marquee there was an ideas board for how to use the art, which will now remain for at least a year.

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To mark the opening of our new Chris Alton Adam Speaks exhibition we will be holding a launch day on Saturday 25 November with a packed programme of activities. The official opening will take place at 3.30pm by Artist Hew Locke.

Adam Speaks Tree House Launch Saturday 25 November 2017

From 12.00pm to 4.00pm, we have a full programme of activities inspired by the Adam Speaks project and its participants.

Church Hill Marquee: 12.00pm – 3.00pm Build a Robert Adam inspired structure and share it with #Adamspeaks

Poetry in the Adam Speaks Tree House 12.00pm – 3.00pm with Kurly McGeachie

Long Gallery Croome Court:

12.00pm:         Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

12.30pm:         The Sixth Form College Worcester

1.00pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

1.30pm:           The Sixth Form College Worcester

2.00pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts

2.30pm:           The Sixth Form College Worcester

3.00pm:           Formal opening speeches in the Long Gallery.

3.10pm:           Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts performance in the Adam Speaks Tree House.

3.30pm:           Formal opening of the Adam Speaks Tree House by Hew Locke

Words for the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts and Kimichi School provided and inspired by Writing West Midlands Participants.

Adam Speaks themed cupcakes will be available in the marquee on Church Hill throughout the day. (Subject to availability).

  © 2017 National Trust

Our poems were exhibited along with the Adam Speaks display in the participation area downstairs, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, they’re passed by everyone on the way to the Tea Room.

They also inspired the dancework of the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts and Kimichi School group, which was a delight to know. Every tree has a strong root foundation, no matter how invisible it becomes. Everything starts with a strong base and I for one am delighted that some of that was our ink.

It was a great opportunity and one I thoroughly enjoyed and Chris Alton’s Room 204 workshop is going down in history as the longest workshop I have ever taken part in. Time flies when you’re having fun!

croome dance

© 2017 Nina Lewis

Immensely proud of my old mobile phone for managing such great shots!

croome dance 2

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/projects/adam-speaks

 

Review May 2017

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May was a busy month which included a mid-point glitch when we found ourselves offline and for a while lost all our resources from the laptop!

Week 1:

Sent some submissions, organised festival events and promoted Cheltenham Poetry Festival for Anna Saunders. There were several open mic events in Birmingham and Coventry that I didn’t make and a headline gig that was cancelled due to venue closure.

The team met for work on our show, 30-40-60. This was accepted in March for the Worcester LitFest and takes place next month on Sunday June 11th, 7pm at The Hive, Worcester.

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I was looking forward to Cheltenham Poetry Festival but due to work commitments was not able to make as much of the programme as hoped. I did, however, have a run of 9-10 days of events. Unless I am immersed in a festival, I try not to make bookings like this anymore as I appreciate the energy it requires.

My mini-tour started in Malvern with Carol Ann Duffy, I am so glad that I bought a ticket for this, it was a wonderful night of emotive, uplifting and hard hitting poetry. Last time I saw her, I bought books and although I love what the book co-operative are achieving I was fund poor, I had taken a copy off the shelf at home and hoped she’d be happy to sign. Carol Ann was and she didn’t mention nearly taking me out with the stage door at all!

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John Sampson was his wonderful self too. Loved his music this evening. Glad the Queen gave him away!

The following day I went to Stratford-Upon-Avon for a workshop with Angela France. It was lovely to reconnect with poets I have not seen for a while and the writing was fun. There are some nuts and bolts in my notebook ready to work on. I am finding writing hard at the moment. Maybe it is post-NaPoWriMo or just because I am busy that my mind has no time to settle.

I then went to Birmingham to see Rob Gee at The MAC. Rob and I were friends in Leicester, back when I was at university and discovering the Spoken Word scene for the first time. I have not seen him for nearly 20 years, (how did we get that old?). I met up with him before and after the show and it was as if there had been a gap of days not years.

I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of his show and the delivery. Enjoyed is a strong word as it deals with end of life/people in care. A dramatic framework that works so well and Rob (Pro) shows us how easy it can be to create multi-characters in one space.

ROB GEE

He first  produced this show a long time ago and has toured it internationally – I was so happy to catch it – and the best news for you? He is doing it again for Ledbury Poetry Festival. Go and catch it if you can – book tickets here 3rd July

Read all about it here FORGET ME NOT

As a student nurse, Rob spent three months on a Challenging Behaviour ward for people with late stage Alzheimer’s. Largely based on Rob’s experiences, many of the stories depicted in the show are true. Except the murders, obviously.

The show’s director Tara Gatherer has recently directed three acclaimed short films, Cafe des Fils de Putes, Self Portrait and The Group, the latter of which explored the theme of self-empowerment for older people. Forget Me Not is her first theatre show. © Forget Me Not

I was so wired after the evening. We are not leaving it 20 years until next time!

On Sunday 7th it was the much awaited Book Launch of C.S Barnes, for ‘The Women You Were Warned About’. It was an amazing afternoon of words and cake, stories and poems.

Charley Barnes Book

I was lucky enough to read it a while ago, as Luke Kennard and I were asked to endorse the book. It was still magical to hear Charley read her own words and I didn’t revisit these women on purpose before getting a copy at the launch.

Charley asked Claire Walker, Alan Durham, Polly Stretton and myself to share poetry on women at her launch. I had fun writing a few poems specifically for the event and reworked some NaPoWriMo poems from April that featured women and worked well. I was stupidly nervous about this performance. the pressure not to mess the launch up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and so did everyone else. You can read about it and buy your copy here.

Black Pear 

The Women You Were Warned About: Answers to Absent Questions,
is Barnes’s first full-length publication and, after having so much
fun with the women contained within these stories, she sincerely
looks forward to the possibility of working with such hideous
women again in the future. © Black Pear Press

cs barnes

Week 2

I booked tickets for the National Writer’s Conference. I attended in 2014 and decided that I needed to be further into my career to truly benefit. Tickets for this event are not cheap, but with lots of keynote speakers and a choice of seminars to attend it IS worth every penny. One major pull/benefit of being in Room 204 is you are gifted a ticket to the conference, so I knew back in the Spring that I would be going. So excited. Delighted they have released the information too, I am bad enough with menus and always at these things want to go to absolutely everything – the NWC is set up so you only take 3/9 sessions. Maybe I can bribe some of the cohort to swap notes.

I also spent my writing day working on the multimedia element of our show, 30-40-60. I spent the writing time tidying – I told you I have writers block!

In the evening, I finally made it back to Licensed to Rhyme, my most local poetry night which I have not managed since last year. Steve Pottinger was headlining and Brenda Read-Brown came back for a guest spot. The other guest spots and open mics were all top quality and it was lovely to share a night of fine words. Also fabulous to have Fergus McGonigal back on the scene. Plus it is light enough for me to walk there now so I was able to sample the bar. I also shared my NaPowriMo Bop written about the EDL in Birmingham. I was unsure of this poem, but it went down well – next stop, performing it in Birmingham.

licensed-to-rhyme

The next day I had hoped to make it to Cheltenham for Compound Poets with Gram Joel Davies  and Hannah Linden, it seems a large amount of poetry friends made it over. Work had left me sadly lacking in time and energy so I headed over to Kidderminster instead for the final bow to Mouth & Music. Sarah Tamar organised a one off event to raise money for the People in Motion Charity (helping refugees) and it was a chance for a reunion with Peter Williams (PTR), Tim and Pam Scarborough, Coz and Sarah herself.

It was attended by a writing group Sarah works with and there were a diverse range of performances. It was good to share some work that is harder to hear. I often feel guilty reading social/political poetry at events where people have gone to be entertained. I shared some activist poetry written for events back in 2014/15 and work from my pamphlet, ‘Fragile Houses‘ as it was MHAW (Mental Health Awareness Week).

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I had news about a project I hoped to be part of (Room 204). Last year Croome Court produced Plum Lines an exhibition/project involving many poets I knew. At the time I had a yearning to do something with the National Trust too… you know the universe picks up on this stuff, right? I saw a call out for poets to get involved in the next project ‘Adam Speakes’ which involves writers from 4 key places and an artist, previously accepted.

I am delighted to be part of the Writing West Midlands team working on this. Unfortunately, a pinnacle workshop has landed on a day I should be elsewhere. You know how much I hate not being able to do everything simultaneously. Things will be re-arranged.

I have also booked my day to Croome Court to start the exploration. This project will last until November, there will be a special event on the 25th. I cannot wait to get stuck in and I am sure I will keep you all updated.

I missed HOWL – which was legendary and a great, regrettable shame. Featuring Anthony Anaxagorou (who I missed at Verve), Casey Bailey and Anne Gill. I needed some downtime in amongst all this busy and work really was zapping me of strength and time.

I finally made it to Grizzly Pear – Sean Colleti/ UoB (University of Birmingham) Spoken Word event. this event clashes with SpeakEasy and has yet never fallen on a day I could manage. I wanted to see Inua Ellams, who I had missed at BLF Spring Edition. I was sad to miss Sue Johnson at SpeakEasy, but until I invent that cloning machine, had no choice. I also missed the Indigo Dreams showcase at Cheltenham Festival featuring Jennie Farley, Mab Jones, Bethany Pope and Anna Saunders, which was an event I had hoped to make it across for. Again work had not left enough of a margin to make the road trip viable.

I was glad that I managed to see Inua and his brave acceptance of audience offering key words. His set was then built up from poems linking to that context. Tukaiisloveletter – I had seen at Verve and it was terrifying (in a good way) to see his dynamic, highly emotive, actioned performance. It was good to talk to him about it afterwards too.

I shared my EDL poem, which was responded to well.

The following morning I was not bright eyed or bushy tailed (after the late night gig, I had forgotten how this time frame does not affect the student population) for our 30-40-60 meeting, in fact I was still eating breakfast when we set to work.

It was exciting to see the programme in print for the first time. It was released earlier in the week and since Tuesday had seen lots of teasing photos like this one! WLF © Holly Magill

We worked on our scripting and rehearsed the show. Later on our laptop died after an automated update and took all our files with it. Friday night’s plans changed as we desperately ranted to Microsoft support via the Kindle and attempted to back up everything off our computer. We entered OfflineLife.

The next day I was working for Writing West Midlands, Spark Young Writers group in Worcester with our new Assistant Writer, Rick Saunders. It was a great session on journalism and was embraced well by the group. I got my hands on Worcester LitFest programmes and started distributing.

Following this I went to Cheltenham for John Hegley ‘New and Selected Potatoes‘, which I missed at The MAC last year. It was great to see him live again and another master showing me in this age of ‘you have to do more with your poems’ that actually just being on stage with them should be enough. He had us in stitches and was a joy to watch.

hegley©ents24.com 

LINK TO FOLLOW

The following day I was back over in Cheltenham for my 2nd Hegley Workshop, completely brilliant. Followed by walking to Waterstones in conversation and watching a delighted public as he hit the shop floor with poetry and his mandolin, *Steve, as fans will know.

It was a superb day.

I also had poems Anchored and Hallmarks up for MHAW on Sarah James’s website. They are now archived in the 2015/17 ‘With You In Mind’ Anthology. Read more about this project here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/mental-health-awareness-week-with-you-in-mind-anthology/

sl © Sarah Leavesley 

Week 3: 

I joined a Screenwriting course online, with UEA and Future Learn. It has been brilliant, although somewhat challenging completing most of it on the Kindle. I have discovered that I know more than I thought I did. I have also been playing with a few ideas banked for the future.

I worked on the film element of 30-40-60 and missed both events I had pencilled in. A book launch for Nigel Hutchinson at Waterstones and HIT THE ODE. Rather disappointed with myself but I came home from work on Thursday and hour later than I should have with barely time to make it to the city. By arrival time I had gone to bed and slept right through to Midnight! I needed the rest.

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I also spent a day online (now that I mended the internet) at the Hay House World Summit. Back in 2015 I took every seminar and film going. This year, I have been more selective and currently have a notebook filled with 12 of the programmes available. It is free to sign up and a real annual blessing as far as I am concerned.

I spent the weekend organising festival events and reading. It was beneficial to take a break from performing and recover from the busy schedule last week.

I felt re-energised ready for the final busy push of May.

Week 4

I booked a workshop with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura, completed the UEA Screen Writing course,

4 tutors

and booked tickets for a book launch in July.

On Tuesday I went to Poetry Alight in a new venue in Lichfield to catch poetry from Roy Marshall and Jane Commane. It was a brilliant (if not extremely hot evening). The new venue is lovely. It was great to catch up with Roy and Jane.

Photography by Ben Macnair

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I missed Kathy Gee headlining at Poetry Bites – that was also a wonderful evening so I have heard.

On Thursday evening I missed a Book Launch, Ali Oxbury – we met on the Writing For Children course in 2013 has had her poetry collection published. I would have loved to have been there – I have also spent the past 4 years wishing for bookings. You can’t have it all.

I was booked to perform alongside Kevin Brooke, Holly Daffurn, Kieran Davis and Alan Durham for the Poetry Salon. This was my 2nd year for Worcester LitFest & Fringe, I have lost count of the Poetry Brothel/Salons I have participated in… I think it may be 5 or 6. It was an enjoyable evening, concluded with a wonderful open mic. A precious evening for poetry organised and hosted by Charley Barnes.

poetry salon

We had our final editing meeting/rehearsal for our 30-40-60 show. It is going to be great. I have since finished cutting the film and Kathy has created a good looking program of the acts. We have all our open mic-ers signed up – a publisher, a Laureate, published poets and a festival poet! It is going to be fun and happens in just 11 days time!

30-40-60

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I attended the Book Launch for Diverse Verse 2, an anthology compiled by Richard Archer. It was a fantastic turn out at Southcart Books and lovely to see the new shop. A good few hours of immersive poetry & a buffet. Sadly the M5 was crawling at 30 m.p.h and I was delayed. I got there in time for the start but missed coffee (much needed) and a chance to buy the book (I have since ordered it). Wonderful that they sold every copy and a lesson to myself to ask for a reserved copy in future. The proceeds are for Charity and it has already raised lots.

https://skaggythepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/diverse-verse-2-is-launched-and-ready-to-buy/

https://willisthepoet.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/no-not-the-one-in-poland/

diverse verse 2

http://www.lulu.com/shop/richard-archer/diverse-verse-2/paperback/product-23201198.html

It was good to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

The Extra Days

I organised to write a review for a topnotch poetry magazine, received news that I am one of three finalists for the Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18 competition. Which happens next Friday, 9th June – the start of the LitFest. I am delighted by the news, excited and as nervous as can be!

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/2017/05/30/and-the-worcestershire-poet-laureate-finalists-are/

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Last night was one of the most clashing for events- Charley Barnes was headlining at Cafe Grande Slam, Matt Windle at Spoken Trend, 42 in Worcester (my regular Wednesday night feast) was also happening and way back in April, I booked tickets for Stourbridge Library to go and see Jo Bell & Roy McFarlane.

I was an incredible evening & a pleasant way to finish the month.

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December Review of the Month

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Everything starts to wind down in my writing world during December, which is lucky as everything else winds up to Christmas and I think I would pop if something didn’t give.

Week 1: (which was only 4 days)

I put in a bid to review an anthology which a few poetry friends appear in, it looks like a great quality publication and I am gutted I knew nothing of the submission for it. I do not think my application was successful as they had the launch in December, but I tried.

I also went to Permission to Speak, Rob Francis’s night in Stourbridge at the Scary Canary. Rob booked Ash Dickinson as the headline act, it has been over a year since I’ve seen him perform.1 Ash DickinsonPerhaps longer. Last time was Digbeth, Birmingham. I was also doubly excited because he has a new book out and I was able to grab a copy – which I then saved to be my Christmas read, but also borrowed 3 Christmassy novels from the library and with actually celebrating festivities and catching up with family and friends, I ran out of time to read it. It has become my New Year book instead… now my January book. It is my next read and has overtaken a whole shelf of poetry still on my must read radar.

Thanking Jonathan Davidson for teaching me to support poetry by buying books (back in Sept. 2013), I would love time to read them all. One day I will have my landing book nook and an hour a day to indulge.

It was an exceptional night, (despite the mic stand completely playing me up). Part of my set was ‘Fragile Houses’ which is a serious book and it made Ash feel comfortable to step away to his more serious work too. Which went down a storm. So I was glad that my set persuaded him to mix his up a bit. Very brave.

What I did manage to do was re-read his previous collection – (bought last time I saw him in Digbeth), I love having the poet’s voice in mind as I read their words. I had forgotten how stonkingly good ‘slinky espadrilles’ was. It was a delight to hear some poems from this, his first collection at PTS.

adameve It was actually 2014 when I last saw Ash perform. How time flies when you’re writing poems. The photos I took of Ash are trapped on an old phone, so you can make do with a 2014 lazy Sunday version of me instead.

If you fancy ordering a copy of Slinky Espadrilles (2012), which remains one of the top selling titles, you can follow the links below. Or maybe you would rather treat yourself to the latest collection Strange Keys (2016) … both published by Burning Eye books.

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/slinky-espadrilles-by-ash-dickinson

http://burningeye.bigcartel.com/product/strange-keys

A great night at ScaryCanary and I also picked up a copy of Rob’s new pamphlet ‘Orpheus’ published by Lapwing. It was his first reading from it. orpheus-1st-reading

I have since watched him perform from it at SpeakEasy and he has a few more dates in the Midlands, up North  and soon down South too.

28th Jan – Wolverhampton Literature Festival @ Wolverhampton Art Gallery
16th Feb – Stanza @ The Exchange, North Shields
25th Feb – The Black Light Engine Room, Middlesbrough

More dates may be added soon in Folkestone, Leeds and London

orpheus

Rob is also donating all of his profits for this book to charity. £25 was raised by initial sales for the village School feeding scheme in Namibia. I am not entirely sure if this campaign has now closed as the crowdfunding page has finished. Know that if you buy a copy, Rob has donated profits so far to this cause.

Ordering Orpheus – please contact R. M Francis https://www.facebook.com/RMFrancisPoet/

I also returned Heather’s projector which I had used for the Book Party event to show my Fragile Houses Poetry Films. Over Christmas I discovered my mum had been given a projector through a contact in education (they were upgrading), after it served no use to my mum she gifted it forwards – not releasing her poetry daughter was about to embark on Poetry Films… so if any of you know of anyone getting rid of a working projector at any point I would be very interested. My car has also gone over the clock (100,000) with all these poetry gigs, so if anyone has a decent 2nd or 3rd hand car to sell also let me know!

My friend Caution Poet had a couple of events at the Anchor Gallery, Birmingham where he was generously selling artwork and giving away copies of his latest collection of poems. On the same night there were Christmas Spoken Word events at The Ort. But my relatives were up from London and it was my Gran’s birthday so I missed all the poetry and went to celebrate with them instead.

I was asked to perform at the Mistletoe Festival in Tenbury Wells. In the end Myfanwy and Peter Sutton made it and I am in conversation about 2017.

I had my winter solstice poem ‘Burn All the Clocks’ accepted by Three Drops From a Cauldron at the end of November, but don’t think I mentioned it on the last review. It is going to be published in the Midwinter Anthology.

Week 2:

I continued to make Poetry Films and missed Hatstand – I have missed all the events hosted this year under this new night. I hope they continue in 2017 and that I may make them. Monday night is a tricky one with teaching the next day.

I worked on the Writing West Midlands December session, prep and planning. I missed Gary Longden’s Poetry Alight and Roz Goddard’s Stanza Christmas Party to go to Stirchley Speaks, which was a great night.

I also worked on two projects which at this time were in initial planning stages. The one has been signed, sealed and delivered and is already forging new developments into 2017. The other is ready to start in February, on a date that I have been asked to perform as part of a Peace Day at Coventry Cathedral. Both events are geographically too far apart to manage in the same day. I hope to get involved with Antony Owen’s next event in the summer. In the meantime I am writing poems to be read on the day.

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December sees the return of SpeakEasy at the beautiful Cafe Bliss and, to rid you of your Winter blues, we’re bringing along with us the wonderful Nina Lewis!

Nina has had poetry published in many publications over the years and has recently celebrated her first solo publication, Fragile Houses, published by V. Press. A wonderful poet with a back catalogue of hard-hitting and beautifully crafted verses, Nina Lewis is definitely an act worth seeing.

I headlined SpeakEasy in Worcester. It was a great night – there are some photos I need to track down. My non-poetry friends came to support me and Café Bliss was packed. It was a great night although one of the most nervous I have been (home crowd and all that) and there were about 8 close poetry friends (and regulars at this event) who couldn’t make it so I was supressing the paranoid part of myself for most of the evening. I did manage to enjoy the open mic spots and the atmosphere was brilliant.

My set went well and I sold quite a few copies of Fragile Houses. I even performed one of the poems I didn’t envisage ever being able to perform in public. That may be the only time I do. So for all the people who were there that was a first and last.

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As with all things the 8th December when I headlined clashed with other events, The Grizzly Pear where I missed Bohdan Piasecki and Leon Priestnall and also the Nine Arches Press Christmas Party.

On Friday I had one of the most exciting meetings of the year and some delicious cake! I missed Caution Poet’s second event and Clive Osman Performing from his new book ‘Happy’ at the P Café as I had a lot of writing work to submit and a WWM to prepare.

On Saturday we celebrated the end of term with a workshop on Fiction and a slightly Christmassy session for WWM. To prove how talented the writers are in my group there was an entire page of the plan I discarded as they were already there. Great when young writers don’t need all the input. They, like me, are passionate about learning the craft.

Week 3:

My final week of real world work and I booked workshops for the Verve Poetry Festival (Feb.) with Kim Moore and Sarah Howe, I met both these talented poets this year and cannot wait for this treat – which was a Christmas present from my Mum – even better when these experiences are free! I missed the booking at Swindon on Kim’s workshop due to getting a little lost finding the new venue. So I am doubly looking forward to the magic.

I helped organise accommodation for the Quiet Compere (January) Wolverhampton Literature Festival.  I started working on a collaborative project which will see 3 new poems written (and submitted) in as many weeks. I worked on general submissions, getting the last bit of writing done before the Christmas break.

I had also been asked (in October) to produce a writing prompt for Squiffy Gnu (an online writing/ poetry group). The deadline was the 14th and although it had been on my radar for a while I couldn’t start to work on it until after I had headlined SpeakEasy.

I am really proud of myself for coming up with an original idea and not copying someone else’s groundwork. I have yet to actually attempt the writing myself and have only read a few of the outcome poems, but again I plan to carve some time out to do this next month. It was fun to be a guest poet and an honour to be the last one of the year. Thanks to Chris Hemmingway for this opportunity.

I missed Luke Wright and Jasmine Gardosi headline at Howl, again next year HOWL is already in the diary for February, it has been a shame to miss this events as it is always a great night. Once again I will blame work and distance.

noel

There was a Christmas Party for the Walsall Arboretum poets which I couldn’t attend originally because of work. However, that day work was cancelled and I had hoped to make it after all. I was buried under a self created submission mountain though and it was in the middle of the day. I heard they had a good time.

Instead, the following day, I treated myself to the Poet Christmas Party (like a works do but better), just three of us meeting up for lunch and pretending it was our annual do really! I made the mistake of drinking a glass of wine as I wasn’t driving, but I had forgotten that I skipped breakfast and hadn’t yet lined my stomach. So I guess I was entertaining.

I missed Attila The Stockbroker and Caution Poet Man Down on Friday night as it was Stanza and I had missed the previous two months and really wanted to go.

It was a great and Christmassy evening.

Week 4:

Christmas and my hibernation from my poetry skin.

In the Greenwood Shade – my poem about the Frog Prince (initially started at a workshop with Angela France) was published by Three Drops From a Cauldron in the December Issue.

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https://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2016/12/23/three-drops-from-a-cauldron-issue-ten/

A Review of March

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March started with a performance at ‘The Works’ Canteen’, a night of poetry, music and storytelling at the Black Country Living Museum, hosted by the museum’s poet in residence, Dave Reeves. An event that has been on my radar for a long time and one of the few events I blogged about in a timely manner. The Guest Poets were Jan Watts & R.M Francis. Rob Francis hosts Permission to Speak (PTS) and took a collective to perform at the museum, including me.

It was a fabulous evening – read more about it here.

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I received my long awaited and much anticipated copy of Under the Radar – Nine Arches Press, where my poems Fortiori and The Gift share the pages with a plethora of poetry talent. These poems are from my forthcoming collection and I was delighted to have them accepted. They were accepted in 2015 and it seems like a lifetime ago now.

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I completed research to write poetry celebrating Women’s History Month and took great pleasure rewriting a poem about Annie Edison Taylor, the first person over Niagara Falls in a barrel and she survived, her only injuries came from trying to get out of the barrel after the drop. All about the adventure! Her poor cat was the test lunge, the cat was barely harmed either.

My work with Writing West Midlands was secured for another year.

The second week of March involved a lot of writing, more submissions were sent out and admin tasks, which every writer could use a PA for. I was asked to judge a slam for Womanly Words, in the end I performed instead. I missed events I had planned to go to, day job work kept me busy and with the heavy writing schedule I didn’t have the energy. I dream of a poetry chauffeur.

The WWM group met our new Assistant Writer and worked on our book project. I missed a Memorial event for Sammy Joe at The Edge, which was on the same day.

I enjoyed ‘Poetry by the Lake’ in the Arboretum, Walsall with David Calcutt and performed a short set. It was a sunny day and the park was full. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended.

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The third week of March could be the reason why I ended up fading away. I was working full time and also had a timetable to get all my submissions out on time. The writing still needed editing and polishing.

  • I wrote over 12 new poems.
  • Sent 8 submissions.
  • Wrote a set of poems for Woman’s History month.
  • Took bookings for next month and the summer.

I missed events I had hoped to attend. Three of which fell on the same night. I also missed WLF & Fringe Earth Hour which I wanted to support. I had already committed to the Vanguard Readings, with Richard Skinner. An amazing night of poetry from Helen Calcutt, Emma Purshouse, David Calcutt, David Clarke, Jane Commane and Richard Skinner. I have yet to blog about this event and wish I had managed it in real time.

vanguard

I performed at Worcester Arts Workshop for the first time, for Women’s History Month, it is always lovely to come across new (to me) poets. It was a pleasant evening, vibrant, warm atmosphere and lots of support and love for women, organised by Feminista Leisa Taylor. I am grateful to have been part of it.

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By Week 4, I barely knew my name. I had a writing day (they do not exist as much as I would like), worked on my manuscript (approaching what I hope is final editorial stages), I marked WORLD POETRY DAY, missed a photo shoot with fellow Womanly Words poets, wrote a short article on poetry and completely forgot about Stanza! It fell on Good Friday and Mr G and I had had an action packed start to the Easter weekend.

The end of March was slightly strange as I took a break from most of my writing and performance schedule for Easter and never started again. The last few days of the month were mostly offline. I proofread copy of an up and coming anthology. Another lingering process which started last year. It will be a delight to finally read the collection. I have the proof copy but I want to curl up with the real thing.

I finished the month with a workshop in Stratford with Angela France and submitted the blog as a participant for napo2016button2

Review of the Month – February 2016

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February has been an amazing month. I love writing in the start of a fresh year, seems that all possibilities are achievable and the cold air is enough to keep me chained happily to my desk/dining room table.

I continued to write new material and submit work this month, although I did overload my Action Plan and found it quite unmanageable. A lesson to take forward now into March. There were a few opportunities I didn’t feel ready for that I hope will come up again next year and will fit in more with what I hope to be doing by then. It is hard to make such decisions but I have learnt that it is important to objectify and consider what you can gain and what will be the challenge in choosing that path at this moment in time. It is wisdom that comes with growing older for me as I have always taught myself to say YES, YES, YES!

This month I have headlined, performed poetry sets, done open mics, written new material, researched, edited, submitted and been published. I have run the full writing gauntlet and occasionally felt the pummel sticks.

sammy

It was also Sammy’s funeral, I have written about this at the end of the review.

Week 1:

  • Promotion
  • Application
  • Submission
  • Headline
  • Daniel Sluman Book Launch
  • Emma Purshouse/ Open Mic
  • Published
  • WWM Young Writer Group
  • National Libraries Day – Liz Berry

I sent a poem to Emma Press for approval for the Waterstones Love Poetry Night, supported WWM promoting the Worcester Writing Group.

Headlined Stirchley Speaks at the P Café along with the wonderful Mark Kilburn and Alisha Kadir. Booked onto a workshop.

Went to Daniel Sluman’s Book Launch for ‘the terrible’ and finally met him and Emily in person. I had a superb evening and was able to enjoy the words of Angela France and David Clarke, two poets I admire greatly, all published by Nine Arches.

the terrible daniel sluman

After the book launch I hotfooted it back across to the Black Country to catch Emma Purshouse in action at PTS Permission to Speak, although I arrived in the interval the 2nd half was long and jam packed full so it was worth the extra miles to get there and I did get to watch Emma – it has been too long. It was good to be back in Scary Canary as it has been a while since I have been able to attend Robert’s night due to double booked dates.

My three romance poems written in January especially for a brief of how we love in the 21st Century were all accepted for publication by New Ulster.

My two Spider poems written for the Maligned Species Project were published in e-book form. You can buy your own copy £2.99 Spiders E-book Fair Acre Press money raised goes to local wildlife charities as stated on the Fair Acre Press website.

My Writing West Midlands Young Writer group worked on our book focusing on an alternate history (AH). It was a great session, we hope to have the work finished by late Spring. The group has grown recently but we still need to secure new membership – 12 to 16 year olds if you know of any in the area looking for fun creative writing/hobby.

WWM

I just had time to get home and eat before rushing back out to celebrate National Libraries Day with an evening of poetry from Liz Berry, which was wonderful. Her work fills me with spirit or the spirit of her work, the essence leaves me within a cradle of positivity, I just feel younger afterwards and full of that hope, that a younger me felt.

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I spent the last day of the week writing and creating my overly ambitious action plan.

RELATED LINKS

Stirchley Speaks Headline

Daniel Sluman Book Launch

National Libraries Day Liz Berry

 

Week 2:

  • Submission
  • Research
  • Published
  • Open Mic
  • Love Poetry – Emma Press

I heard last month that Fair Acre Press had taken both my spider poems for publication in the maligned species e-book series, this week they released the Grey Squirrel E-book with another of my poems included. Squirrel E-book £2.99 You can buy a copy here, the price point is to keep it affordable for all, the content of each collection is outstanding, it truly is a bargain and you are making a charitable donation at the same time.

Nadia Kingsley and all her commissioned poets and eco-experts have worked tirelessly for months on this project and it would be great if the response for the e-books was as strong.

maligned

I submitted a poem to Visual Verse based on the American Gothic and from writing this poem built up a body of research I would like to explore further when I have finished working on current projects.

I booked a place to perform at the Feminist Fundraiser to raise money for Refugee Action.

refugee action

I went to Sammy’s funeral. Later that evening a few of us went to HOWL at the Dark Horse in Moseley, we were still pretty much propping each other up but I think Sammy would have approved. I performed my valentine poem, the one about the volcano and the whales.

I missed the final SpeakEasy with Maggie and Fergus at the helm because I was one of 10 performers sharing the stage before Liz Berry took us through her heart-warming set of love poetry and more. It was great to perform at Waterstone’s in Birmingham and to meet new to me poets too, not to mention listen to Richard O’Brien read from his pamphlets and Liz Berry of course. Phenomenal as always.

DAlma The next day, inspired I sat down at my desk after work and researched and wrote new poetry. Now with the submission fairies.

I am amazed that I survived these two weeks as well as I did as I was also working full time for the first time in years too. At the end of the 2nd week it was also Mr G’s birthday and Valentine’s, so I had to schedule collapsing for Monday!

RELATED LINKS:

Love Poetry with The Emma Press

Fair Acre Press Maligned Species Project

 

Week 3:

  • Editing
  • Bookings
  • Workshop
  • Performing
I did a lot of desk work (writing) as it was Half Term. I have been working on and editing my manuscript (that was left to settle with time at the end of 2015) since January and this week my main focus was to pull it together and resubmit. This is a long process and not only takes time but the brain needs to be fully immersed and engaged too. I tend to be a little flighty at the best of times, so I really forced myself to settle down with tasks and deadlines. I even cancelled a workshop because I needed the time, that and I didn’t feel 100% and the thought of driving and thinking about something else was not appealing.
I booked a spot at The Black Country Museum next month where I will be part of a PTS showcase sharing work at Dave Reeves open mic night, featuring Jan Watts.
I finally made it to a Crunch Workshop at the P Café and came away with one or two ideas I need to log. The traffic and weather were awful though, so it put me off venturing out again for Poetry For Lunch, besides I am still trying my best not to over-do it on the gigging front.
refugee
I saved my energy for Millie Morris and her Fundraising event for Refugee Action at the Ort Café, a night of Feminist Poetry (not everyone stuck to the theme) but when the soapboxes came out the crowd responded appropriately. Lots of difficult subjects were covered and many people had to stand the whole night (venue was packed), it was a buzzing night and a successful fundraiser too. It was very brave and inspired for Millie to host such an event and it was rocket fuel for minds and hearts, everyone got something back in return for turning up, being there.
RELATED LINKS:

Feminist Poetry Night for Refugee Action

 

Week 4:

  • Writing
  • Published
  • Open mic
  • Submission
  • Stanza

I was back to work this week and it also my younger brother’s birthday. I had my poem ‘Restraint’ published on Visual Verse.

I researched the Valentine Day Massacre, another notebook filled with promising poetry ideas for the future, although beyond macabre. I was writing the poems to perform at 42, there were a few of us who took the theme literally.

I did battle with the end of my action plan – which was so complicated I copy and pasted a new end of the month list. I submitted some poetry and wrote a new poem in my lunch hour to take to Stanza.

I had the lovely surprise of post that wasn’t bills but my contributor copy of the gorgeous Abridged Floodland issue magazine.

The weekend saw me make a few last minute submissions and thereby avoiding all household lists of things I need to do, (now added to the March plan)!

 *a test to see if Mr G still reads my blog*

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RELATED LINKS:

Nuclear Impact, David Bowie, Al Capone

And on the extra leap year day, I did not propose to Mr G, to be honest I forgot I could until we were chopping up veg for our amazing tea. I didn’t write a new poem. I worked hard and kept my temper around youngsters who were losing theirs, I marked books and smiled impressed by some of the detail. I drove home through road works, caught up with some telly. Prepped that meal that Mr G made and caught up with this blog.

 

Rest in Peace x

BL RH Sammy Joe © 2015 Rangzeb

Sadly, February also saw our goodbyes to Sammy Joe (Samantha Hunt), her funeral was on the 10th February.

A day of reflection and tears, helium hearts and balloons released to clouds as people from all walks of life (friends) and family laid her to rest. Sammy kept all her circles separate but a good deal of cross over occurs. I knew it would be a sad day (total understatement – as I still can’t really find the words) but I hadn’t prepared myself for how I would feel afterwards.

There is not a day that passes without me thinking about her. Sometimes not thinking, but I see her face right there even as my mind focuses on a computer screen or making the dinner.

The day of the funeral the weather had been forecast as rainy, overcast. Usual for the time of year. The sun shone, brightly and despite some darkening clouds not much rain fell and nothing but sunny skies for the duration of our time at the Crematorium.

To lose a friend at any time of life is horrible, to lose them unexpectedly is even worse and to have mixed feelings about their passing, knowing they should still be here on earth makes it feel unbearable.

When that person belongs to a community it makes it easier because you have each other to reach out and share grief together. So a big thank you to poetry friends (nowadays just called friends, I think) who have carried me through this difficult time.

 

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Birmingham Literature Festival 2015

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This is the 17th year for Birmingham Literature Festival organised by Jonathan Davidson Director of Writing West Midlands.

It was the first literature festival (apart from Hays) that I attended in 2013 and I practically spent the whole season in the library at events. Last year I was fortunate enough to be chosen as 1 of 4 poets who were commissioned by Naked Lungs to write and perform at the festival. This year, I booked my tickets as soon as they were available, due to other performance commitments I was unable to manage many events this year.

Tickets are still available and the festival runs until 17th October.

Short and Sweet: Short Fiction Salon

This was an event hosted by fiction writer and Heart Breakfast presenter Rachel New, Short & Sweet allows you to dip your toe into the water of live literature, and enjoy readings we select for you – including a story from Rachel herself written especially for this event.

Rachel New is a veteran of short fiction challenges – having survived two unusual residencies at Birmingham Literature Festivals past – Ten Day Sentence in 2013 and One Page Wonders in 2014. Both these experiences saw Rachel writing against the clock, responding to prompts from the wider festival audience and producing huge volumes of creative fiction. Rachel brings this expertise, as well as her ongoing PhD studies in creative writing, to the Short & Sweet arena for performances and discussion.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

It was a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the stories. The writers were;

Liam Brown

William Gallagher (who recited his whole story from memory)

Lisa Blower

Pauls Bankovskis guest of BLF 15

Jan Watts

Garrie Fletcher

& Rachel New

It is my pleasure to know some of these writers and I loved discovering stories from voices and pens I haven’t  come across too.

BLFest

Rita Dove and Guests

We are delighted to welcome Rita Dove, the former U.S. Poet Laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner, to give a rare poetry reading in the UK. A mesmerising performer, Rita Dove’s work covers a range of subjects, each of them addressed with wit and verve.

Her most recent poetry collections are Sonata Mulattica and American Smooth. She is editor of the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry and is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Among her honours are the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, making her the only poet to ever receive both medals.

As a prelude to Rita Dove’s reading, we present three short poetry performances. Jo Bell, Canal Laureate, will be reading from her eagerly awaited new collection, Kith. She will be joined by Birmingham Young Poet Laureate 2014-15, Serena Arthur and by Oliver Sullivan, a young performer from the region who was runner up in this year’s Poetry by Heart Competition. 

Sponsored by the University of Birmingham.

© 2015 Writing West Midlands

This event was a real treat, it was a delight to listen to Rita Dove and discover her poetry. Jo Bell opened the evening with a great set and rapport with the audience. Serena Arthur provided us with a confident performance of her poems, including one of the poems she won the Young Poet Laureate with and as for Oliver Sullivan, such talent remembering classical poetry.

I was already on a high after NPD events the evening before and my night in Birmingham topped up my poetry fuel nicely.

I am a little sad that I cannot attend as much as the festival as I would have liked this year. I have had to cancel one of the tickets as I have been asked to cover as an Assistant Writer for Writing West Midlands on the same day.

WWM PINK

RELATED LINKS

http://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/season/birmingham-literature-festival

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/birmingham-literature-festival-2015-whats-9663804

http://visitbirmingham.com/what-to-do/festivals-events/art-photography-culture/birmingham-literature-festival/

http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/event/birmingham-literature-festival-2015/

Writing West Midlands

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Back at the very beginning of my writing life in 2013 I attended a WWM (Writing West Midlands) network meeting in Hereford at the Courtyard Theatre, later in the year I went to another one in Oswestry to meet Simon Thirsk (Bloodaxe) & Ian Billings.

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At this meeting I talked to Jonathan Davidson and by January 2014 I had confirmation of working in a voluntary capacity as an Assistant Writer for WWM in Worcester with Ian MacLeod – a Science Fiction writer.

I spent a year and half working in this role and this September I became as the Lead Writer for the Worcester Senior Group of Young Writers, 12-16 yr olds.

leeallenphotographycom WWM

On September 12th I led my first session with this group. It was incredible!

My new Assistant Writer is amazing and eager and we had a good number of participants. The next session I have planned is even better.

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We are rallying for more members so if you are local to Worcester or know people who are, we are interested in having new members. Age 12 -16

Please contact Joanne Penn at Writing West Midlands

Apply through the website http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/

or contact Joanne Penn (Learning and Participation Manager)

Writing West Midlands

Unit 204, Custard Factory, Gibb St, Birmingham,  B9 4AA

T: 0121 246 2774

WWM PINK

Sessions are held once a month, £6.00 per session and classes run inline with the academic year Sept – June – you can join at any point in the year.

We meet in the Oasis Room at The Hive (library) in Worcester.

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RELATED LINKS:

Where it all began – WWM Network Meeting Oswestry – I cannot remember the shoes I was throwing away – but in 2015 my poetry shelves creak with the amount of support I have shown to others (which I course hope will be returned to me on the launch of my own pamphlet)!

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/my-writing-life-vs-sleep/

Poetry Wrap 6

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A funny week this one because it included a major poetry event, the Worcester Poet Laureate Final. I spent most of the week as a bundle of nerves swinging between trying to manifest positive thoughts or not think about it at all!

After my poetic adventure at Cannon Hill Park, I felt fairly worn out. To be fair it was the fifth event of last week. This week  I had work, two open mics, clothes shopping, appointments for Opticians (who messed up the lenses in my new specs) and at the Hair Salon (dread), as well as tutoring, attempting some writing and learning my poems by heart.

I was unfortunately too tired to get to Mouth & Music. At the beginning of the week I was working full time, Monday was a 16 hour day! I rarely do those anymore, unless it involves a desk and my laptop. Both Monday and Tuesday I went straight to bed and slept for a couple of hours. I wanted to get to the ‘Comedy themed’ night and have heard that it was great fun, I was just too tired. Tough call, but as I fell asleep before 10 PM, the right one.

I did manage HOWL – Leon Priestnall’s amazing night of poetry in Birmingham. It was a full audience and a fantastic, lively event.

Howl provides a space for the best spoken word artists in Birmingham to speak freely, no restraint, express themselves, provide food for thought, rock the house and entertain.

SS Leon P2 Leon Priestnall pictured here @ P Café ‘Stirchley Speaks’

© 2015 Murdock Ramone Media

Headline Acts

Unhindered Reign

Unhindered Reign are one of the leading spoken word duo’s on the Birmingham scene. Featuring at Spoken word Brum staples such as Level Up and opening for US slam champion Buddy Wakfield at Hit The Ode. With both top Knotch writing and performing styles- tackling issues both social and personal- Luci and Sipho, who make up Unhindered Reign, are two artists not to be missed for anyone who wants to see the best of what UK spoken word has to offer.

Glynn Philips

The man, The moustache, The myth…. You’re never quite sure what he’s going to pull out the bag- or even which of his alter ego’s is going to show up on the night. Rest assured you won’t mistake him in a line up!

Jess Davies

Jess Davies is a Midlands based artist who dabbles in both the contemporary arts Scene and the Poetry scene. She was recently commissioned to write a poem for the museums at night tour at the local pen museum. Her writing is personal, heart wrenching, observational, heart wrenching, surreal and humorous. She currently runs Stirchley Speaks at the P Cafe in Stirchley

HOWL

All headline acts were fab, I particularly liked Unhindered Reign (Luci Hammans and Sipho Eric Dube), as I hadn’t seen them before, I have seen both poets on the circuit but hadn’t seen either perform – together they are… legendary! Currently work for the BBC and George the Poet.

The open mics were filled by;

Timothy Scotson, Frankie Ryan (Ryan Murray), Nicole Murphy, myself – Nina Lewis, Abbie Foster (who it was a pleasure to meet), Anna Higgins (who has been around poets forever and finally made her debut performance- powerful indeed), Lexia Tomlinson, Leah Atherton, Oakley Flanagan, Tom Crossland and more.

An invigorating evening of poetry and an eclectic mix of styles and performances.

Worcester Lit Fest

WLF PL WLF&F logo concepts

Worcester Lit Fest started on Friday 12th June with the Launch & Poet Laureate final, in which I was placed 3rd. Delighted! Here are links to posts about this event.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/finally-the-final-is-here-worcestershire-poet-laureate/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/wlf-2015-the-launch-poet-laureate-final/

Saturday there were several events I wanted to attend. It was Caldmore Carnival and a few months ago David Calcutt started working on a group poem using our workshop poetry. We rehearsed a choral reading, sadly I was never able to go as it clashed with the last WWM meeting of the year, an important one in which I said goodbye to Ian MacLeod, the Lead Writer. I take over the group from September.

Evesham is also hosting the AsparaWriting Festival at the moment and Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, a well respected local author had organised an afternoon of poetry. It was Heather Wastie’s first official appearance as Worcestershire Poet Laureate and sounds like it was a great success.

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Heather Wastie current Poet Laureate, Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn & Fergus McGonigal, Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2014-2015

I went to The Hive, where I saw this… QC HIVE

Writing West Midlands

The goodbyes were harder than I thought they would be. After spending a year and a half as an Assistant Writer for the Worcester Senior group, I am now taking over as Lead Writer. Read all about it here WWM

Worcester Lit Fest

Last night I went to an event ‘A Night at the Museum’ at the Royal Worcester Museum. It was a poetry book launch, to mark the end of Ben Parker’s Residency and celebrate the new Poet in Residence, Dr. Todd Swift, taking up his position. Chloe Clarke, Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate was also performing.

This book launch marks the conclusion of Ben Parker’s tenure as poet-in-residence at The Museum of Royal Worcester.

Ben Parker will be reading from a collection of poems produced during his residency, which will be available for purchase for the first time. This event also marks the beginning of Todd Swift’s residency at The Museum, and Todd will be reading from his highly acclaimed poetry.

Ben’s poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White Review, Under the Radar and Oxford Poetry, as well as Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, was
published by tall-lighthouse in October 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Marks Award.

Todd is a British-Canadian poet, publisher, critic and editor. He is the editor of numerous anthologies; and has published eight full poetry collections. His poems have appeared widely, including in Poetry Review, and Poetry
(Chicago).

In 2004 Todd was the Oxfam Poet-in-residence. He blogs at ‘Eyewear’ and runs the indie press Eyewear Publishing. Todd’s PhD in Creative and Critical Writing is from The University of East Anglia (UEA). He was born in Montreal, Quebec.

WLF © 2015

I saw all three perform at Ben’s Book Night at The Hive and was looking forward to relaxing into a chair and listening to them again. Great venue, inspiring art and beautiful words.

BP Chloe Chloe Clarke

Todd Swift BP Dr Todd Swift

BP Ben Ben Parker

BP Royal Worc   Ben Parker From Porcelein It was a lovely evening and I treated myself to Ben’s Pamphlet too. All proceeds go towards the museum, a kindness they appreciated.

http://www.museumofroyalworcester.org/working-the-kiln-by-ben-parker-poet-in-residency/

http://www.benparkerpoetry.co.uk/