Tag Archives: writing

Mab Jones – Lockdown Writers’ Club 2021

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© 2021 BBC

As you were reminded yesterday, Lockdown 2020 saw many notebooks being filled. By Lockdown 2, I was back in the scary world of work and Lockdown 3 is a mixture of both (after 3 hours on phone calls yesterday afternoon)!

Some of my notebooks were filled with words from the Lockdown Writers’ Club, organised and facilitated by Mab Jones, a poet I have had the pleasure of knowing for quite some years. The daily prompts offered a lot of material across a range of genres and (like all good starting points), were springboards which encouraged the sparks of ideas to fly. Both Mab’s course and Cath Drake’s workshops, inspired me for sometime after they finished.

2021 has not started the way, in the depth of the summer, we hoped it would. Lockdown offers new and established writers time to write. We all want/need more than the 4 walls of our room and CO19 in our brains.

This rerun is an email only course, so is perfect for people who have restricted access to other platforms.

Lockdown Writers’ Club is an online / email course for writers of any experience.
✅Receive 30 prompts in 30 days. ✅Respond in poetry or prose. ✅Learn, be inspired, have fun!
Just £25✨

Contact @mabjones for details: mabjonescreativeATgmailDOTcom

Mab JonesCardiff Wetlands Writer in Residence
Biography

Mab Jones is a “unique talent” (The Times) who has read her work all over the UK, in the US, France, Ireland and Japan. She is winner of the John Tripp Spoken Poetry Audience Award, the Word Factory Neil Gaiman Short Story competition, a Royal Society of Literature ‘Literature Matters’ award, the Aurora Poetry competition, the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, amongst others.

Her most recent pamphlet is ‘111 Haiku for Lockdown’ (Infinity Books UK). She is the author of two other pamphlets, and two collections: ‘take your experience and peel it‘ (Indigo Dreams) and ‘Poor Queen’ (Burning Eye Books). Her work has been read or shown (as poetry film) at many festivals, at the Southbank Centre, and at various venues and a variety of platforms.

Mab teaches creative writing at Cardiff University, has written for the New York Times, and has presented three recent poetry programmes on BBC Radio 4. She previously coordinated International Dylan Thomas Day, and now runs the social media for world famous writer Wilbur Smith. She promotes adventure writing through his Foundation, in addition, and offers mentoring, critique and feedback for writers, most notably through the Poetry Society.

A BIG Catch Up

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It has been a long while since I was on top of blog updates. I have a lot of news to share. I am finally (as much of any of us are able to this year) back in the flow.

I read some of the 2019/20 posts I managed last night and was reminded of my Annus horribilis, but the truth is we all have them and for those lucky enough to escape them, this year we had a pandemic that shook the whole world.

When I mention in those posts I was off the meds, I was referring to morphine, I am still on daily tablets for both the neuropathy (which is unlikely to improve beyond what it is) and the chronic illnesses. But that’s the difference. They are this way now forever, this is me. From a life of daily medical appointments, physio and 27 tablets to one of 5 daily tablets and quarterly consultations. The pain is less intense and is liveable. Life is precious, 2020 taught everyone that. So like a bad relationship, I have to put it all behind me and move on.

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur on Pexels.com

I am starting a string of posts to fill the gaps of 2020. This pandemic has been the worst thing most of us have ever experienced and I still feel guilty writing about the year in a positive way when so many have lost loved ones.

It gave us time to slow down and although I should have been more productive (I have a house to sort out) and could have made up some of the lost income by selling online (I have a lot of never worn/pre-loved clothes, books that I have read but are in perfect condition and size 5 shoes to offload, if anyone is interested) – and that’s on top of bags sorted for charity (but then not dropped off as they were all inundated with donations/ lockdown – shut them/ and now I am not sure they are taking donations yet). I could have worked systematically through my to do list…. could/should… tough thoughts when you think about what we face, just staying okay and not dipping into depression and anxiety is hard enough for us. So forgive yourself right now if (like me), you didn’t bake sourdough, exercise daily, read every book on your shelf, redecorate every room. You hung in there. Gold stars all round!

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At the beginning of it all I was very concerned (still am) but learning to live with it and feel less anxious. Not less cautious though, no Christmas bubble going on here! I disappeared into a year which has become my learning year. Which has been incredible, thanks to the generosity of many creatives who gave their time and expertise to provide so many of us with valuable options.

I have not been in a position to buy anything, I am far luckier than many I have some work again, I have a home etc. but I have also not lived this thinly since I was a student. I arrived in 2020 with the debt of not working for a year and then lockdown. But people have been very generous and I am very grateful and I will pay it forward when I can.

I have always been a fan of the pretty notebook, who isn’t? This year I unpacked them all and started using them. I have filled many books (approx. 14) with notes/writing/ideas. I finally started submitting again and managed to complete several projects / commissions and applications (the latter were unsuccessful). And I started to work again after 7 months of lockdown (I stayed self-isolated pretty much), that has been an adjustment!

And today (one year since the launch of my 2nd pamphlet Patience), my new website went live! I started it back in April 2019 – but wasn’t properly back at the desk until late summer so it became a lost project.

https://ninalewispoet.wordpress.com

As a run up to Christmas I am going to attempt a whistle stop highlight tour of 2020 and then plan a monthly dip in the Fountain again as we get on with 2021.

Thanks to everyone who still visits and enjoys the rambling reads!

My Huge Lockdown Writing World

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Like many people right now, we are in Lockdown. I’m keeping very busy, possibly even busier than I would be if I was balancing the job and the writing. I am a lot better health-wise and this new lifestyle has the benefits of being easier on my body, enabling me to perhaps do more and I also find staying busy in times of crisis helps me cope. Believe me there is plenty to keep me busy beyond the desk too.

My normal to do list would be A5, at the minute I feel I need A3! Anyone else the same? I think part of this busy is coming off the back of being out of action for so long, especially in fast moving worlds like the Arts, so much has happened that I have not seen/read/heard as I wasn’t just away from the scene, I was away from my brain for most of the 14 months too! I am thoroughly enjoying being a glutton of creative endeavours and as the world moves online the globe shrinks too! I find I can reconnect with people I have not seen for a long while.

I have spent the past 3 weeks (since the end of NaPo) thinking I should blog about that, but because I am writing again after a long, fallow period, I am struggling to find time to write about the writing! I will be posting retrospectively but there are a few events coming up that I shall blog over the coming week. Some fresh content for you all to enjoy will come after that.

 

In the meantime, there’s plenty already in here – use the menus and have a splash about.

 

Stay Safe.

My Current Situation & INKSPILL 2018

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Sadly October has not turned out as I planned. At the end of the 1st week of the month I underwent an operation and am currently convalescing and undergoing daily outpatient appointments.

Our FREE Online Writing Retreat at the end of October is still going ahead – it is always the final weekend of the month. This year the 27th/28th October.

Guest Writers will be revealed on Friday and I am delighted this will be the 6th annual INKSPILL.

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I will not be posting on the blog this month as healing well is paramount, however, I hope you will join me for INKSPILL… spread the word!

May Review 2018

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May was a huge month for editing and writing and marked my final full month as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, a position I have loved. Who wouldn’t want to be an ambassador for poetry? I was also juggling working full time with a full schedule.

Week 1: 

Still learning how to balance full time work with a writing career, I found a lack of energy and time were enemies to my To Do list.

My final Worcestershire Poet Laureate submission windows opened. One for Scientific/Mathematical poetry in honour of Stephen Hawking and the other for the final edition of Contour WPL Magazine, Issue 4 Celebration & End of an Era.

 

 

I spent most of the week working on A Tale Of Two Cities Special Edition Contour Magazine.

I received news of a recent submission being successful. One of my Jinney Ring Sculpture Workshop poems is to be published in Domestic Cherry Issue 6. I join many poetry friends in this issue and what is more we get to read our poems at an event in the Swindon Poetry Festival, which is great. This will be my 4th year attending Swindon Poetry Festival and it is always amazing. Last year I was booked as a V. Press poet in V. Formation, reading alongside Stephen Daniels and Gram Joels. This year I knew I was heading down after National Poetry Day (I have a booked gig), now I know I will get to read too. Wonderful.

My role as Reader in Residence for West Midlands Reader’s Network was wrapped up in an evaluation which took an incredible amount of time to write, but future funding depends on such things and I was able to use some of it in a public review for Warwickshire Libraries too. I sent reviews of Book Review Workshops and the Poetry on Demand event for the Rugby Library website.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/a-word-from-nina/

I received finalist poems for the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Poet Laureate Competition. I have a fortnight to judge these poems. I am looking forward to discovering who the finalists are on the 10th June. This year the finals will be held at The Angel Centre – which is the 4th venue for the WPL finals.

Over the weekend I secured an interview with Kate Garrett on her recent charity venture ‘Bonnie’s Crew’, took some poems for a polish and prepared for the final WPL event at Hanbury Church.

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Week 2:

Started with a Bank Holiday and sunshine. I hosted the final WPL event, a reading at Hanbury Church of our Sculpture Trail poems from the Jinney Ring workshop. A full review of the event will be posted soon. To my delight this event has also lead to future work.

 

 

It seemed strange that this was it, as far as WPLaureating goes.

I had tight deadlines for copy, reviews, interviews and editing this week. Promotion has started for Australia – Western Australia Poetry Festival. Scott-Patrick Mitchell is responsible for a lot of the streaming online. He has sent interview questions to use as part of the Marketing & Promotion of the festival. I completed the bulk of an interview on time but had a few questions that needed a more considered response. Everything is in place for the marketing machine now though.

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I spent some time prepping Q&A for the ‘In Conversation’ event at the BMI.

I was fortunate enough to get to PTS (Permission to Speak) which featured the Poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists taking over the hosting for the evening and featuring artists from The Black Country Broadsheet project. It was a great night of high energy hosted by Dave Pitt featuring: R.M Francis, Mogs, Steve Pottinger & Casey Bailey. I shared my NaPo poems (not all 30)! A full review can be found here

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/mighty-force-poets-prattlers-pandemonialists/

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The following night I headed over to Birmingham to the BMI (Birmingham & Midland Institute) for an In Conversation & Reading of Fragile Houses. Another fabulous night in the John Lee Theatre. Read the full review here. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/open-conversation-bmi/

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This was a great opportunity to reach a new audience and was booked last Winter, I had been looking forward to it for a while.

I am delighted Roy McFarlane is the Poet in Residence there and look forward to his programme of events and get more involved in Birmingham again.

I planned to spend the weekend editing, I mainly slept – being a busy poet and working full-time is not easy. I did manage a good shift on ATOTC and got the main frame of the magazine complete – overcoming lots of horrendous formatting issues. Sadly I realised I had missing Bios and so put a call out for those.

I am hoping that before the end of the month we will have the special edition ready for upload.

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Week 3:

What is a perfect way to start the week? A workshop with the exuberant Ash Dickinson of course! Having missed the opportunity to do one in Burton last year I was delighted to discover that he was doing one before/for Licensed to Rhyme!

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Read the full review here https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/ash-dickinson-workshop-licensed-to-rhyme/

It was a fabulous evening of laughter and poetry and set me up for the week.

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Lorna Meehan headlines next month – so I need to get my diary free *although I think it falls during Worcestershire LitFest.

On Thursday I had intended to hit Birmingham at the Twisted Tongues event (usually held in Derby), however after a long day at work and with a weekend of events scheduled I did the sensible thing (very unlike me) and spent the night in the garden enjoying the end of the sun before having a relatively early night.

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I spent a lot of the week compiling the Special Edition Contour Magazine and chasing poets for photos.

On Friday I whizzed from work straight to The Hive in Worcester for a Book Launch. Cutting the Green Ribbon – debut poetry collection for Katy Wareham Morris, published by Hesterglock Press.

ctgr-poster-as-jpeg Katy was joined by Guest Readers Holly Magill, Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – it was a superb night of poetry. Full review coming soon.

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I surprised myself on Saturday by firstly forgetting there was a Royal Wedding (I was reading poetry books and working on a submission) and secondly by writing about it. I had not planned to and I know many poets balk at this sort of sentimentality – but important events during one’s Laureateship ought to be marked and so I found myself with laptop on lap, catching up with images from the BBC whilst watching the ceremony from the point of the Bishop’s Address onward and I did manage to write something.

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https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/the-royal-wedding/

I finished the week being a Poetry Judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Book Launch at Parks Cafe.  Sarah celebrated the launch of her new novella Always Another Twist and latest poetry collection How to Grow Matches. It was a charity event in aid of St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester and a fantastic evening (even if I did want to run away with the prizes)! A full review will be posted soon.

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Sarah was joined by Guest Readers: Holly Magill, Jenny Hope & Liz Kershaw and the night was MCed by Charley Barnes.

https://droitwichstandard.co.uk/news/award-winning-droitwich-author-to-hold-special-book-launch-at-charity-evening/

 

Week 4

The week started with a well earned day off work to fill with Poetry work. This year I was invited to be part of the Living Library event at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester. The event is organised annually by Librarian Linda Bromyard and enables several classes from Year 7 to come and meet real writers and talk to them about their work. Again, I will be writing full reviews of work from May soon and this event will certainly be given one. It was as inspiring for the adults as the students, I would have loved something like this when I was studying English.

 

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14543190.Authors_bring_school_library_alive/

The deadline for judging this year’s WPL finalist poems came around fast. I enjoyed reading this year’s entries, I am not so much enjoying sitting in judgement at the finals, but will part of a team of 5 judges and it is part of the WPL remit accepted last year. My hat goes off to poets who judge competitions with 100s of entries, it is a tough job.

I FINALLY gained access to the Arts Council portal (being trying since 27th April) only to find the decision was a no. Ironically the new system is more suited to individual bids, I used the British Council funding scheme a joint venture with the Arts Council. I rushed to get mine in before 1st March deadline and may have been better to wait for the new batch and changes in the system.

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Still, I took on the full time teaching role to pay for it and now I have the freedom to enjoy it evaluation free. The bid was to cover my travel to Australia for the Perth Festival and some workshops back in the UK after the event. At least I learnt how to apply for funding and also had the pleasure of analysing statistical data which shows my work this year has impacted on over 360 individuals.  Lots to celebrate.

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On the same day I discovered this failure I was also Headlining at Poetry Bites. It has been a while since I headlined a gig and it was a pleasure. Again full review waiting in a queue.

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I had to plan my Australian workshop and send a 200 marketing blurb this week. It is based on themes pulled from Fragile Houses and is going to be great. I am really looking forward to this experience and have scheduled time when term finishes to get prepared. The review of July will be simpler – it will just say…

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Preparing for Australia!

I have also been working on the final three WPL projects:

  • Contour Issue 4 WPL Digital Poetry Magazine
  • Twin Town European Poetry Exchange
  • Every Word Counts – Science/Maths Anthology

Contour Issue 4 the Celebration issue is still open for submissions until my final day as Laureate 10.6.18, I have been busy catching up with the Headliners of SpeakEasy for the interview section and have an article or two to add (new feature).

Twin Town 

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Most of the poets involved managed their poetry exchanges before the deadline, I stepped in and wrote a response poem and a Town poem in case the final poet didn’t manage it. We are now just waiting on a final response poem from a poet who received it over 2 weeks late, a June deadline has been negotiated and I have secured my good friend Nathalie Brooker to work on my French translations. This should be live in June, publication is planned for 10th June, the day I end my Laureateship.

Every Word Counts 

I spent time long listing poems from the 30 day submission window.

 

Extra Bit 

A much needed break from work, 9 days in my poetry skin.

DAY 1 of 9

I planned my penultimate WWM Spark Writers group – they are sad to see me go, they are not the only ones. My sensitive poet’s heart could crack with all these changes!

I spent some time organising the first of the UK ATOTC readings. A collaborative of 11 who will read call/response poems during the 2nd part of the evening as part of Artsfest 2018.

I made the final promo pushes for the last 2 WPL submissions. Had a lovely night at Waterstones celebrating the Launch of Deborah Alma’s new Nine Arches Press collection ‘Dirty Laundry’ a full blog post owed for that night too!

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I made it to 42 and the newly refurbished Drummonds for a night that was pure entertainment.

I finish the month with mild exhaustion and the hope that the few submissions I have managed to make this month will find themselves a home amongst pages. Fingers crossed.

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June

June sees the 8th Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival, the crowning of a new Poet Laureate, the finalists in the running are Sarah Leavesley, Betti Moretti & Peter Sutton. The Launch takes place on the 10th June 2:30 pm at the Angel Centre, Worcester and sadly will mark my last day as Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

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Other events to look forward to are: Meet the Authors, Stanza in the Forest of Dean for a Forestry/Poetry project, the rest of the WLF Programme, I am performing on Tuesday at Night at the Museum, Wednesday at 42 Special with the Anti-Poet, Thursday at SpeakEasy Festival Special and Saturday as part of The Ring Project.

I am performing as part of Ludlow Fringe Festival, have my final ever WWM Spark Young Writer Group, attending the Stratford Poetry Festival for the schools project with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, attending and performing at a few book launches and finishing the month with Ledbury Poetry Festival.

At the desk I am working on a current manuscript, prep for Perth Poetry Festival (Australia, not Scotland), Contour Issue 4 Digital poetry magazine, The Twin Town Poetry Anthology & a collection to mark the passing of Stephen Hawking featuring Science/Mathematical poetry Every Word Counts.

Plenty of work to absorb the extraction of my Laureateship! And who knows in between I may even get to write and sleep!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

INKSPILL Spooktastic – Writing Exercise #4

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It doesn’t seem right having this weekend retreat so close to Halloween and not include an opportunity for some Horror writing.

Writing Exercise #4 – Mysterious/Scary

A murder has taken place in a cabin in the middle of a snowy field.  Your character finds three sets of footsteps entering the cabin, but none leaving.  Apart from the victim, no one else seems to be there.  What is going on?

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INKSPILL – Top Tips On Writing

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Do you recognise wonderful? Do you see it? Watch these Top Tips from Novelist Jill Dawson from The Guardian Masterclasses 2013. Some advice is timeless. 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/video/2013/oct/25/jill-dawson-top-tips-on-writing

© 2017 Guardian News and Media

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© 2017 jilldawson.co.uk

INKSPILL Mashup – Writing Exercise #3

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Pull two books off a shelf at random. Open each to a random page and copy down whatever sentence your finger first lands on. Then write the shortest, most natural bridge between the two sentences, making it seem like the both come from the same book.

Attempt to write one full paragraph. Feel free to copy them into the comments below.

INKSPILL Library

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The Library will be open throughout the weekend. I will add archived INKSPILL links for you to delve into at your leisure. Enjoy.

INKSPILL Library

INKSPILL 2013

 

HISTORICAL FICTION AND RESEARCH – Nina Lewis 

Historical Fiction and Research

Historical Fiction Part 2

 

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INKSPILL 2014

 

Guest Writer William Gallagher tells us

HOW TO GET REJECTED

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-how-to-get-rejected-guest-writer-william-Gallagher/

 

 

MAKING TIME TO WRITE 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-making-time-to-write-guest-writer-williamgallagher/

 

A VIDEO ON DIALOGUE

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/inkspill-a-video-from-guest-writer-william-Gallagher/

 

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EDITING A POEM 

With Guest Writer Heather Wastie 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-guest-writer-heather-wastie-editing-a-poem/

 

 

WRITING & EDITING

With Guest Writer Charlie Jordan 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-guest-writer-charlie-jordan-thoughts-on-writing-editing-part1/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-guest-writer-charlie-jordan-thoughts-on-writing-and-editing-part-2/

 

WRITING MOTIVATION

includes video – Nina Lewis 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/inkspill-good-morning-come-and-watch/

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INKSPILL 2015

 

I had the great pleasure of FINALLY seeing Inua Ellams perform in Birmingham this Spring, he also did a blinding set at the Swindon Poetry Festival this Autumn. 

This is a poetry film, featured as part of 2015 INKSPILL writing retreat. 

REFUGEE STORIES 

Nigerian-born Inua Ellams, a London-based writer, created the story “Dolphins” as part of “The Refugee Tales”, works about the journeys of refugees and migrants seeking safety in Britain. Ellams worked with children who have made treacherous journeys across desert and sea, and wrote the stories based on their experiences.  © Film for Action

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/refugee-stories-retold-by-nigerianborn-poet-inua-ellams/

 

THE TERRIBLE

Guest Poet Interview with Daniel Sluman on his 2nd collection 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-guest-poet-interview-with-daniel-sluman/

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Come back to the Library tomorrow where we will have more links for you from INKSPILL 2015 & 2016.