Tag Archives: Writing West Midlands

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.

evesham 3

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/

Poetry Wrap 3

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A week of poetry; getting it published, reading it, writing to form and performing as a Headline act.

A busy and rewarding week with some full (much needed) writing days.

The first weekend I was without my car and missed The Ort with Debbie Aldous in Birmingham, the end of Cheltenham Festival, Caldmore Writing workshop with David Calcutt and Confab Cabaret in Malvern with Matt Windle ‘Poet with Punch’ and Kurly, who I recently saw perform at SpeakEasy in Worcester, which is where I will have to catch him again when he Headlines.

 

Studying Poetry and Writing West Midlands

I spent time catching up with my MOOC course, writing poetry, reading poetry and preparing this weekend’s writing session for WWM, as Ian is away and I get to be Lead Writer again. WWM

 

Submissions, Publications, Poetry Festivals & Blogs

I submitted to the Seamus Heaney anthology and had a poem accepted, to be published in print form later this year. I booked tickets for the 52 event as part of Stratford Poetry Festival and emailed a couple of poets about Guest Blog posts.

 

Performing Poetry/ Headlining

Performance wise I had just the one gig, it had been a week since I performed and I also (made what I have since learnt is a mistake) took a set with 80% new material to Headline at Permission to Speak, the Scary Canary – a wonderful new spoken word night created and hosted by Rob Francis.

MM3 Rob Francis I was headlining alongside the ever talented Ian Passey, a.k.a Humdrum Express.

http://heyevent.com/event/2141316629340676/permission-to-speak-4-poetry-spoken-word-feature-poet-nina-lewis

I complete my week working with the Senior writing group at The Hive. hive3

Next Week at a glance:

  • Mouth & Music Love in the Revolution
  • HOWL
  • SpeakEasy
  • & it is Mental Health Awareness Week

November – Performances, Submissions & Mentoring

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This week has been busy week, one which finally had a writing day in it. I took on a lot of work this week and even took a last minute booking on the 1st writing day I had planned.

I am currently busy working on several things including my Hanbury Hall poems and writing material for an event at the end of the month as well as general submissions, I made 2 on my writing day (Fri) this included 4 new poems and 2 fairly new ones that I have been working on for a few weeks with the intention to submit.

mm

I performed a set for Mouth & Music on Tuesday night, the theme was ‘Remember’, I could have just read my recently published Paragram Poem ‘Picasso of Dance’, I intended to spend Tuesday writing to the theme – but I got called into work.

Instead I took both my poetry books to the venue and organised my set ad hoc. Amongst my set I performed an edited version of ‘Return to Stone’ previously performed at Roy McFarlane’s ‘Soulful Voices’. Roy had been booked to headline, unfortunately his mum passed away very recently. My thoughts go out to him and the family.

peter williams nov

We were treated to Fergus McGonigal and Humdrum Express (Ian Passey) as headline guests and the whole night was great fun, alive with atmosphere – which after the beginning of my working week I felt I very much needed and benefitted from.

Peter Nov Fergus  Peter Nov Ian Photography: Peter Williams © 2014

On Friday I had a writing day which was long overdue, I spent 4 hours working on poetry for submissions and caught up on admin for another hour, before taking a well earned and much needed rest. Fortunately I did wake up in time to get ready for Stanza!

cin It was Children In Need on Friday and I had the opportunity to perform in Wolverhampton, but had already committed to Stanza and the meeting was a lot closer to home. cin3

Stanza was a great night with lots of people, helpful editing advice and lovely nibbles. I love Stanza, it is such a friendly and helpful group. I am glad we have less than a month to wait before the next meeting – booked early because of Christmas!

On Saturday I worked as an Assistant Writer for our group at The Hive. I was performing in the Birmingham Literature Festival, I missed October’s group – it felt like I had been away for months. WWM

I also had the 1st of 3 Mentoring sessions, I was asked back in the Summer if I would consider being a Writing Mentor, of course I said YES! It was a great first session and I look forward to continuing this work in December & January.

Since then I have spent some time catching up with family, sleeping and avoiding buying bags!

Next week looks good, I didn’t have a particularly blank diary, but I realise I need to re-energise, I have officially only committed myself to a set in Cheltenham on Friday and apart from this think I may have a week off. I am working in the day job and need some energy to finish writing projects, plus it IS cold and rainy – staying in is always more appealing in this season of dark afternoons and pre-Christmas busy-ness!

deb alma xmas

Review of October

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The end of last month was so crazy busy I am only just tying up loose blog ends now, nearly midway through November!

October was a true turning point month, goals I have been working towards for a while came together and opportunities flowed one after another. It was a fab month I thoroughly enjoyed being busy. Half term was filled with writing events and I also managed (or was possibly forced by exhaustion) a couple of days off. Think I have had about a week so far this year because I love what I do – it doesn’t feel like work. blogging

I started reviewing my writing life in weekly chunks as it was becoming too much to blog in real time about my schedule.

OCTOBER highlights include;

National Poetry Day – I loved finding out how other people had marked this special day, some of the things people got up to were incredible.

I hosted the opening event of Arts All Over the Place – Poetry, Performance and Everything Else as the Poetry Princess, followed by a writing workshop with Jan Watts and Cathy Crossley, next I  performed at Roy McFarlane’s Soulful Poetry Event – all part of the AAOTP Festival. Then I hotfooted to the library in Birmingham to watch the new Poet Laureate being announced. Adrian Blackledge became the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2014-2015

This day also marked ONE YEAR since returning to the OPEN MIC circuit!

RELATED LINKS:

National Poetry Day

PP PPEEAAOTP_3Roy Mcfarlenme

BLFestbirm poet laureate 2014nat1nat 1

Literature Festivals including Birmingham Literature Festival, Poetry, Performance & Everything Else Festival and Book to the Future Festival.

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  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.

I then returned to the festival the following weekend to perform my own commissioned poetry about Urban Nature for Naked Lungs.

A spoken-word exploration of the intersection of urban and natural.

Our lives in the city are played out amongst the products of human endeavour, the frantic pace of the metropolis tending to obscure our innate intimacy with the natural environment. Yet nestled within the concrete and mirrors are jungles brimming with other lives. Birmingham has recently been declared a Biophillic city and is praised for its biodiversity. How does the city structure our experiences of the non-human? Is it valuable that we facilitate such experiences? A group of writers will be producing and performing work dealing with these questions.

It felt amazing to be part of the festival just one year after discovering it! My first commissioned performance project, I hope there are more opportunities in the future.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/birmingham-literature-festival-naked-lungs-urban-nature/

BLF With Great PleasureBLF Rich McMahonBLF Tell me on a sundayNAKED_LUNGS_200x200px

Full Story

I performed a set for Phenomenal Women organised by Jan Watts for the Book to the Future Festival at Birmingham University and Arts All Over the Place celebrated the end of the PPAEE Festival with a huge party, I was delighted to perform an amusing set for the them and have Swingerella share the stage with me.

book-to-the-future-2014Mad hatterme and swing 1

SpeakEasy also celebrated the 1st Anniversary, I was happy when they asked me to perform a set at this special event. More

Speakeasy OCTinkspill-pink2014

I also completed my biggest poetry project to date and organised INKSPILL for the 2nd Year – an online writing retreat hosted right here on this blog. There is a pinned post on the front page of this blog (homepage) with links to the main articles from our INKSPILL weekend, go check it out. This year I was joined by Writer William Gallagher and Poets Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie who wrote and filmed some wonderful guest posts full of knowledge, advice and experience.

My brother’s Wedding at the beginning of the month was a non-writing highlight. I read a poem by Roy Croft during the service to the tear stained faces of the bride and groom – toughest of audiences. It was a truly magical day!

That is a lot of highlights for just over 4 weeks!

 

Blogs & Projects

I continue with 52, although I am behind in week 40 something. I regret not being able to take full advantage of the community of this group, my own writing schedule has taken off this year and I am busy working when I am not writing and some weeks cannot find the time I promised to carve out for 52. We are all getting reflective as the year draws to a close.

Naked Lungs – My 1st commission – 2 other poets and myself performed at Birmingham Literature Festival in a piece called Urban Nature, it was an amazing experience.

Hanbury Hall Art Exhibition – an opportunity through the Poetry Society Stanza group to write poetry inspired by art in the gallery. I enjoyed the exhibition and still need time to create, write and edit my submission.

henrace3

INKSPILL – kept me busy over the last week of October, writing and researching articles, communicating with Guest writers and organising the schedule of events. It was great fun and lots of people have accessed the posts.

 

Submission

I completed a poetry project and missed lots of end of month submissions.

Wrote poetry for my commissioned performance and received rejection from publications I submitted to over the summer.

 

Performing Poetry (which I attempted to cut back on to maximise writing time)

Events I performed at include;

Mouth & Music, Kidderminster, hosted by Heather Wastie, headlined by Jasmine Gardosi. Where I first performed my Halloween Set – to the theme of Ghosts and Ancestors, including two new poems written especially for the event.

Oct me saffron tomsmemouth-music-poster-oct14

 

worcs speakSpeakEasy, Worcester Hosted by Fergus McGonigal – Worcester Poet Laureate, headlined by Antony Owen and Spoz, I was lucky enough to be asked to perform and was delighted as this was the 1st Anniversary Special! There was CAKE!

 

Poetry For Lunch, The Library of Birmingham, hosted by Jan Watts.pfl me choosing poemspfl oct

Restless Bones Birmingham Promo with Born Free Film at The Ort. restless the bookborn free

42 Halloween Special

Mostly Halloween at the Ort – a 10 minute set.

 

Word Up, in Halloween Fancy Dress Birmingham, hosted by Ddotti Bluebell – a night of amazing poetry. Headlined by Daisy Edwards & Swingerella.

hallo1hallo2hallo3

 

Workshops & Events

Writing Workshop David Calcutt Community  Garden Walsall, WILD FIRE

Poetry Workshop Angela France in Stratford-Upon-Avon

AAOTP Award Evening – where I received a HERO AWARD for stepping in last minute to open the festival.

Alan Durham’s Hen Race Book Launch

 

Meetings and Projects

We had the annual meeting of writers with Writing West Midlands.

My 1 to 1 Mentoring Role for WWM was made official and planning started for these sessions.

I also managed to get to Stanza this month again, hosted by Sarah Kemp. stanza scrabble

 

2nd Week of October – A Birthday Event, An End of Festival Party and Performing at BLF

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I spent the beginning of the week with 2.5 writing days, I was working on the Naked Lungs commission as well as an on-going project for October. I am enjoying filling my new poetry book with poems.

WLF&F logo concepts On Thursday SpeakEasy celebrated its 1st anniversary/birthday, with cake, poetry and TWO Headline acts, Antony Owen and Spoz. I was delighted to perform at this special event too and took 3 new poems with me, including one I wrote especially for the SpeakEasy team, which went down well. It was an epic evening! Speakeasy OCT

 

Lots of talented poets took to the mic including; Heidi Murphy, Charley Barnes, Leena Bachelor, Mike Alma, Polly Robinson (who also did a special Birthday poem), Heather Wastie, Michelle Crosbie, John Lawrence, myself and Mogs. As well as 4 open mic-ers, there were some open mic-ers who hadn’t been before, both good poets who I am sure we will see again.

the-year-i-loved-england Antony Owen brought some poets from Coventry to read some of the poems from his latest book, ‘The Year I Loved England’ – it was a great set. I bought the book at his launch in Coventry earlier this year, but nothing beats watching him reading his own poetry. © 2014 Antony Owens

Spoz, as always was thoroughly entertaining, he did his Jeremy Clarkson poem which I love and also treated us to a special effects housefly poem from his book of kids poems. BL spoz RH

I left on a real high.

On Friday I went to Digbeth to celebrate the end of the Poetry, Performance (and Everything Else!) Festival, with the cosmic chill out party. It was a brilliant party upstairs in a pub, there was a proper stage and sound system/board and technician, like real bands get! I had to follow Swingerella and Kate Bush! Who were both brilliant and massive crowd pleasers with their entertaining acts. I was worried approaching the stage with just my book of poems – thank goodness I had planned to perform the Moustache Poem! It was the toughest crowd I have had – thank goodness for stage lights – I couldn’t see the audience – I could hear them all talking though!

The end of the festival landed on World Mental Health Day, which is the main reason for the festival – raising awareness and fighting against the stigma of Mental Health. I had rehearsed a set which included some poems about my own experience. I decided during Swingerella’s act not to perform these. I had 3 funny poems, but still they talked.

Half way through the ‘Adjective’ poem I felt the audience with me – as there was movement on the stage as well as funny words. They wanted props and SHOW and I am so glad I packed my moustaches! I won them round on this final poem – especially as I needed a volunteer to hold the mic – there was audience participation and Swingerella and I bantering back and forth when she came up to the stage to help with the props!

It felt great! It also gave birth to the idea that I may collaborate with Swingerella in the future.

Mad hatter

On Saturday I had to get my Writing Job covered and it was the first day of my new mentoring role as I was at the Library of Birmingham for the Birmingham Literature Festival performing a collaboration for Naked Lungs.

Last year I went to the festival and spent most of my days there, I had just re-embarked on a life as a poet. This year, I was not able to make much of the festival, but I was performing in it.

This was a busy weekend for poetry events and I missed a Slam at Malvern Cube, the 20th Anniversary/Leaving party of the Cheltenham Slam and Ledbury Poetry in the Orchard.

I have written a separate post about Saturday Birmingham Literature Festival

Writing West Midlands – Writing Groups

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WWM

I started my role as Assistant Writer to Ian MacLeod back in February, this month I was asked to cover another group too, which gave me an opportunity to visit another town/ group/ writer. This was something we were told at the meeting, that seeing other groups could be beneficial for us.

Ian and I had a great session with our young writers, using drama and character building activities to start writing that could really go somewhere.
It was a treat to work as an assistant writer twice in as many weekends, back to back.

I was supporting Jean Atkin,

© 2014 Jean Atkin

© 2014 Jean Atkin

a fantastic poet who I first came across when she was on a panel at the Writers Toolkit last November.
Her group are the next age up to most of our group and incredibly creative and talented teen writers. We used photographic stimuli and composed Cinquains, (fortunately I wrote some last month, so it wasn’t too much to revise). Write-On-2013-300x287

It was a great experience, I have another session with Jean and her group next month!

The First Day of 18

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I have broken up from work for the Easter break and am looking forward to 18 glorious days in my writing skin. partytime

There is already a lot of news to share.

Firstly, Mouth & Music which was a fabulous night that I am still on a high from, sent exciting news today.

Slap Magazine slap magazine (supporting local arts and performers) want to publish the photo Mary Davis took of Tim and I performing and much as it makes me want to get an instant body wrap, attach myself to a zumba DVD and pray for instant weight loss, I am still stoked with this news.

Secondly, I attended my first meeting tonight as an Assistant Writer for WWM Writing West Midlands. It was a buzzing atmosphere and great to be in a room with so many writers, many of whom I have already met; William Gallagher, Stephen, Roz Goddard, Hayley Frances, Ian MacLeod, Brenda-Read Brown, & Garrie Fletcher.

My writing diary is packed and my ideas file grew this evening.

1) Write the 14 lost missing NaPoWriMo poems (file issues last Sunday)

2) Write the new 52 prompt poems and catch up on a few gaps I have

3) Write a poem for our WWM Creative Writing group tomorrow – requested by Ian MacLeod

4) email Jonathan/ Hayley/

5) Catch up with Camp NaNoWriMo – some major words lost already (non- existent) camp_11_postcard1_detail It is ironic that this year (my 3rd camp) I FINALLY get an active cabin and I am not there to see it.

6) Write Strong Women poems and as a result decide whether to do Najma Hush’s exhibition opening.female force I really want to go to this event but am due in a city more than 45 miles away at lunchtime. I would love to be able to stay until 1:30 when it finishes. I am in two minds, I have mentally checked all possible solutions.  Train, buses etc, need to check them properly tomorrow (later on today) but if I do go I will only have an hour there before I have to whizz back for my meeting.

 

I have a whole selection box of Spoken Word events over the next week too;

This evening – Poetry and Place – Ledbury Poetry Festival, to see poetryandplace

 

poetry and place It is the first of three events which see Ledbury Poetry Festival linking up with Worcester Literature Festival (WLF) with performance events at The Hive. I am involved in performing at Poetry and Pollination in May, organised by Ruth Stacey and headlined by Ruth and Sarah Leavesley (who have both performed at Ledbury in the past) – very much looking forward to this event. Tonight will also give me a chance to catch up with some poetry friends.

I have submissions to work on, including poems, on Thursday I have Poetry for Lunch (booked for the next 3), followed by the special ticket holders Hit the Ode and then on Friday I will be performing at The Ort – the first ‘Friday night’ one. On Saturday I hope to attend a camp Nano meet / write in, followed by a writing group run by Apples & Snakes, Poet’s Place. They started the most recent group meetings in January and I have been unable to attend any yet.

 

Assistant Writer

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meet room Yesterday I worked for Writing West Midlands as an Assistant Writer at The Hive. I work with the lead writer – Ian MacLeod – with a group of budding young writers – whose ideas and passion constantly amaze me. It was a really good session and I think everybody got a lot out of it. The group was slightly smaller than last time, which meant we were able to create a lot.

hiveworcesterorgIan also suggested that I might shadow some of the other WWM Lead Writers – as it is a role I hope to have in the future. I know 3 of the other writers; Brenda Read-Brown, Jean Atkin and Jenny Hope as they are all poets and our paths have crossed at various points since last October.
It is a good idea and one I will try to block into the already heavy writing schedule.

hive1 Last month I drove in, the city was flooded and it took as long to find parking as my journey from home, in the end I parked miles away and walked back to the Library. This time I decided to use public transport (never again) – last month the bus went sailing past as I walked to my car…. this time I missed both the bus out and in by less than 2 minutes! The journey in was pleasant and it gave me chance to catch up reading my writing magazine (which now I have subscribed is something I never seem to finish before the next issue drops through the letterbox!) but the journey back was diabolical!

First it was late, we all piled on, then there was a problem with the ticket machine, we all had to get off – it left about 20 minutes late. I got home at 6pm the session finished at 4 and the city is less than an hours drive away!

Next month, I am taking the car! It was a shame that the journey was so rough because the group itself made me feel wonderful!

Can’t wait until next month!

An Excellent Day at The Hive

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Yesterday was National Library Day imagesG6NJNK82 and many of our libraries had special events or guests in attendance. By chance I happened to be spending the day in a library hive too for the first meeting of the Creative Writers’ Group I am now working as an Assistant Writer with.Write-On-2013-300x287

I have learnt that next month taking public transport will actually be quicker – I had to park far away from the city centre as all the central car parks were all flooded.

meet room It was a great day, the group is fantastic and it also forces me to get a little writing done.

Can’t wait until next month now! 🙂

My New Opportunity! Writing Work

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I am so excited I can barely write this post! I HAVE A WRITING JOB! frugal cafe creative commons champers

Back in my past (the 1st time I attempted life as a writer in my early 20’s, a few years before I ran out of money to buy bread) I worked as a writer.

  • I wrote for performance (having graduated from a Performing Arts Degree),
  • I worked as (a mostly unpaid) performance poet
  • I already had a decades worth of YOUNG WRITER publishing credentials from the age of 15, in print form (as the internet and e-publishing were still things of the future…) Well the internet existed (I’m not that old!) but people wouldn’t catch on and start using it personally in the way we do nowadays for some time.
  • I spent my spare time training the writer in me and attended a fabulous creative writing course in Leicester, in a place I now believe is Creative Writing college.

This is where I met real writers who all told me I had what it takes and to keep going! (1998)

(This is the point I should had started sofa hopping or squatting (soon to be made illegal at the time) as gone were the days artists could sign on in between jobs) the money I achieved through royalties and the odd gig wouldn’t cover rent and before long I took a serious last look at my dream and started moving towards being financially independent!

This is the point I ran out of food money. The irony was writing press releases and doing some free PR for other performers (who were big at the time and now are MUCH bigger!) was my last freelance gig before I jacked it in and drowned my sorrows in applying for a 2nd degree in an area that would PAY the other end of university with a job.

In the meantime I spent some of my free time volunteering in schools and working as a Workshop Poet in schools with Key Stage 2. It was here that I decided training in Nursery Education was costly and would take time, I could be a teacher, earn more and have fun like this (workshops) everyday! (DELUDED!)

The rest is history and although I have done lots besides teaching (including running a fabulous community website that was no. 1 in the rankings for most of the time it existed, a site this blog is named after) the rest has mainly being steps away from where I truly want to be.

My true self, the writer, the poet.

I stepped back into myself in January 2013 and started making a go at realising my dreams before it is too late and all my hair turns grey!

(Not that that is too late, if you are reading this with a head full of grey hair, GO FOR IT!) It is never too late apparently.

So with heart on my sleeve and dreams in a backpack I set off along the yellow brick road determined to make this work – inspired by London Olympics I hatched a vague 16 year plan – and jumped!

Many successful (and it has to be said also stupid) people have taken RISKS – you have to be in it to win it and all that… my career hung on 60- 80 hour weeks, 50 weeks a year. I couldn’t write around that, there was barely time to sleep as it was. I actually pushed too hard for too long and my struggle became illness in 2012. It was from this dark place that I had time to listen to myself and start taking leaps of faith (on the medication I really wasn’t thinking about negative consequences) I was jumping because I had no choice – there was no longer a bridge there. The sign said NO OTHER WAY —->

Work went part-time towards the end of 2012. Although I didn’t realise it at the time this allowed me a step towards doing what I now do, my income already slashed by 50% and here I am still, and I can afford bread! By the end of the summer 2013 I decided to drop off the career ladder (I had become stuck anyway as I am scared of heights! I would be great on top of a ladder but you will never get me up there to prove it to you!) I jumped off. I know writing pays peanuts and poetry not even nuts, kernels if you’re lucky! So I needed a financial plan and this is where flexibility in my career (which was a factor for qualifying for teaching to begin with!) came into play. I signed with 2 agencies. 1 of which not only gives me plenty of work, but also (within 7days of signing up) found me a regular cover job, 1 day a week and just before Christmas I signed for another school too, so I now have 2 days a week confirmed and the rest of the week I am either the writer or the teacher depending on my last minute bookings. It is great because I have 100% flexibility 3 days a week and generally manage to be involved in all sorts of things in the writing world that I simply used to miss because I was at work.

The extra salary loss means I can’t just go around buying blf irregular 3 pairs of shoes at a time anymore, but my wardrobe and shoe racks were bulging anyway. And actually I don’t miss shopping (well okay, I do, just a little bit) now I write and perform again after 15 years away and that makes me happier than any heel or skirt ever did!

WHAT’S THE BIG NEWS????

In 2013 I spent the year training, workshops, classes, network events, I met lots of people and hoped to build up contacts, I did and better than that I made friends (awwwwww)! book launch 19

By September I had been published again and decided that Poetry IS my thing. It has claimed me. I can write across genres but poetry is where my writing heart is. I haven’t looked back since. (As you know from all my posts about Open Mic night’s which started back in October with Julie Boden.) listen-ere-desert-townhouse-for-oct-2013-copy1In September I also spoke to Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands WWM about the possibility of paid work as a writer. Having already taken classes they ran and gone to a few events I wondered if I could be involved somehow. To be honest I was thinking in a few years once I have up to date writing credentials. Jonathan’s response was, why wait? What about now? How about working with some of our young writers?

I knew my teaching career wasn’t a complete waste of time 😉

In November it was confirmed that I could work as an Assistant Writer (with the View of becoming a Lead Writer in the future) on what used to be called Writing Squads but are now called  Write-On-2013-300x287By the end of the year I wasn’t sure this opportunity had been confirmed as I had to go through an official application, systems had changed and I worried that this opportunity was about to fall out of my grasp.

Today I had a meeting custard factory in the City and I am DELIGHTED to confirm I have the job of Assistant Writer, for the 12– 16 group which is new for 2014 and is led by Ian MacLeod.  I start in February! The-Hive__Supported_CMYK-300x253

WRITING JOB (2013) REALITY (2014)