Suz’s WPL blog – March 2016

Breaking Boundaries

It’s March already, and my year as Poet Laureate is into its final quarter. The time has passed so quickly – I can’t believe it’s coming to an end! My aim this year has been to celebrate the creativity of Worcestershire people and to form links between writers, artists and performers on the local scene, breaking the boundaries and divisions between the disciplines. I didn’t anticipate last June that my attempts to break boundaries down would happen at a time when so much of the political discourse would be about building new boundaries and re-enforcing old divisions, so it’s been an interesting experience!

I’ve had two commissions for the Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery, one for a poem and performance for the opening of the Jeremy Deller – ‘Battle of Orgreave’ film and exhibition, and (by complete contrast) one for a poem to accompany the current exhibition, ‘David Cox and his Contemporaries’ – visitors to the gallery can see the enigmatic nineteenth century landscape paintings and read my poem in the leaflet.

My monthly broadcasts on BBC Hereford and Worcester and my articles in SlapMag have been successful, and I’m continuing to network with members of the music, film and visual arts communities, as well as working in my role as Poet in Residence at the Museum of Royal Worcester. However the major event of my laureateship came from one of those odd random late-night ideas that don’t really seem practical and usually get forgotten by the morning. Somehow this one survived the onslaught of daytime common sense, and turned into the Poetry Ballroom – a collaboration between LitFest and Dancefest for an evening of poetry and dance – poets performing work inspired by dance, dancers performing work inspired by poetry. It’s surprising how well the two art-forms work together! The dance rehearsals have been going on for a while now, and it has been fascinating to sit in on them and watch a piece come together from its first inception to its finished form. This is going to be an evening like no other! It takes place on April 2nd, at the Angel Centre in Worcester, at 7.30pm.

What happens after that? Well, the remaining weeks of my laureateship may be flying by at a horrible speed, but there is one final project I have been working on. I can’t say too much about it yet, but having brought poetry and dance together, my next challenge involves . . . poetry and sculpture!

Welcome to the Poetry Ballroom!

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Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate, Suz Winspear, has been working tirelessly in recent months to bring various art forms back together. Her latest event is working to do this in a way never seen before, and with this in mind we are delighted to announce…

The Poetry Ballroom!

Worcester LitFest and Fringe are joining forces with Dancefest to bring you an evening of dancing and poetry! We know, we know, dancing and poetry? But the two art forms are not quite as far apart as you might initially think. The evening is set to combine the talents of local poets interspersed between performances from OVER 40 dancers, too. So Worcester, we are really pulling out all the stops to ensure this night is packed to the brim with artistic talent – and it certainly isn’t an evening you can afford to miss.

The event itself will take place at The Angel Centre (WR1 3QN) on Sunday, April 2nd. The event starts at 7.30pm and is scheduled to finish at 9.30pm, and you can purchase your ticket in advance now by clicking this button:

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Got an idea for this year’s LitFest? Then we want to hear from you!

We are now taking applications for Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe’s 2017 festival, which will run from June 9 – 18th this year. In the interest of packing our festival line-up with the best literary talent from the local area and beyond, we are asking anyone interested in taking part in this year’s festival to contact us NOW!

Our application form will guide you through how to pitch your ideas to us; these ideas will then be discussed by the lovely LitFest and Fringe committee ahead of a decision being made.

So, if you’ve got a wonderful act that you want to see centre stage at our festival this year, you can email secretary@worcslitfest.co.uk to request an application form and get the ball rolling.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

BaldyPoems Presents… Are you ready for him?

kings-queens-of-comedy-posterThe thigh-slapping comedy of BaldyPoems (Kieran Davis, when he’s not playing the joker) is coming to St Swithun’s Institute, Worcester City Centre, tomorrow evening – that’s right, tomorrow – and he’s bringing along with him a host of hilarious friends for a truly stellar line-up of comedy and poetry.

If you’ve missed our Facebook updates then feast your eyes below because the line-up is not one to be missed…

Baldy will host our evening, including one or two of his own poems making an appearance, and throughout this we will be treated to the delights of…

John Lawrence

Neil Laurenson

Nina Lewis

Mark Kilburn

Catherine Crosswell

And your headliner for the evening… Mogs!!

We also have a super secret but super special guest lined up to make a surprise appearance during the evening as well.

So what more reason do you need to bring yourselves along tomorrow night? Comedy, poetry, free wine (did we mention the free wine?!), and an evening that is sure to be entertaining like no other.

Tickets are £5 on the door and you can find us at St Swithun’s (WR1 2PN) from 7pm tomorrow!

Our 2017 competitions are now OPEN!

Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe are delighted to announce that their 2017 competitions are now OPEN! You can now find details of our latest competitions in the Competitions section of our website – listed in the menu just above – including details on how to enter.

The competitions launched for 2017 are:

LitFest Young Writer Competition 

Flash Fiction Competition

Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition

So check out our conditions of entry and get writing. 2017 could be your year! Good luck!

BaldyPoems Presents: The Kings & Queens of Comedy!

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Worcester LitFest and Fringe are delighted to announce their first BaldyPoems Presents in the form of our Kings and Queens of Comedy event! The perfect remedy to your winter blues, Worcestershire’s best, brightest, and most amusing poets will be taking to the St Swithun’s stage on January 20th to entertain you with an evening of hilarious verse – packed with adult humour, so consider yourselves warned.

Price? £5

Place? St Swithun’s Institute.

Poets? All will be revealed over the coming weeks. During the Christmas period we will be making announcements via our Facebook and Twitter accounts to reveal the stellar line-up that BaldyPoems will bring to this event – and the first poet to be announced this week is…

John Lawrence!

Who? Oh, that John Lawrence! The chap of advancing years who pops up now and again with gently funny verse, then hides away in his fortified castle in Redditch, writing occasionally, until the next time he ventures out on his white steed.

Isn’t he also the author of The Secret Five and the Stunt Nun Legacy, that mirthful/irksome (delete as appropriate) Blyton parody? Yes, that’s the one.

Hmmm. Well, maybe his poetry will be funnier on the night? Worth a punt!

So get this date in your diary and keep your eyes peeled for further announcements…

 

Suz’s WPL Blog – December 2016

Interesting Times

There is said to be an ancient Chinese curse that runs “May you live in interesting times.” A more recent version might say “May you be Worcestershire Poet Laureate in interesting times”, and these past few months have been nothing if not interesting! Only a few days after my inauguration came the Brexit vote – I live in the most diverse and multicultural part of Worcester, and I absolutely love it; every day I hear a new accent, during Ramadan I see Muslim families setting out at sunset with baskets of food to break the day’s fast with friends, and recently the fireworks for Diwali have been going off over the city. It feels as though our strong, safe tolerant community now under threat, and now the result of the American election has left many of us shocked and fearful. These certainly are interesting times, and we poets, writers and artists have to be interesting in response, to understand, interpret and challenge this peculiar new reality.

I’ve had a very busy few months since I took up the role as Worcester Poet Laureate, and I think I’m the first holder of the position who has also been holding down a day-job, so I’ve certainly been keeping myself occupied since June! The role has opened a lot of doors for me. I’m now doing regular broadcasts on BBC Hereford & Worcester, and have a monthly column in SlapMag to spread the news about Spoken Word events in Worcestershire. I organised the event for National Poetry Day in October – a wonderful evening with great poets in a lovely new venue. I have contributed two poems to a forthcoming pamphlet to raise awareness of the presence of First World War graves in UK cemeteries. Combined with my role as Poet in Residence at the Museum of Royal Worcester, I’ve been running a poetry competition – we have had so many fantastic entries that it was really difficult to choose an outright winner.

Also in these past few months, I’ve performed at the Worcester Music Festival, appeared at the event for Mental Health Awareness Day, become compere at SpeakEasy, performed at Woo Feministas events at Cafe Bliss, and been commissioned to write and perform a poem at the Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery for the opening of their Battle of Orgreave exhibition. I continue to perform regularly at 42, have had an acting role in a film, and even been an extra in a music video. Yes, things since June have definitely been interesting!

As for forthcoming events – I am planning what I think will be the main event of my year, a collaborative event with another Worcester-based arts group. It’s still at an early stage, and ideas are constantly evolving, but I am hoping that it will result in a spoken word event unlike anything that has ever been seen in Worcester before!

I’m beginning to think that a year isn’t enough to carry out all my plans – I need a decade at least . . .