Worcestershire Poet Laureate

Nina’s WPL Blog—September 2017

A Quick Update from Nina Lewis Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

Opportunities for You

Following a sell out Poetry Workshop a second date has been added. Places are still available.

Jinney Ring Poetry Workshop

20th September 6 – 8pm (meet in the Marquee from 5:30pm).

Poetry Workshop

Workshop based on Sculpture Trail at Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury.

£7.00 ticket includes Guided Tour, Poetry Workshop in the Marquee, Refreshments (including cake) and future opportunities to exhibit & read work.

To book your place please email worcspl@gmail.com

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/poetry-workshop-extra-date-added/

National Poetry Day

NPD3Send 1- 3 poems 20-25 lines on the theme of FREEDOM to worcspl@gmail.com

Send your poems in the body of an email with a three sentence bio.

I will be compiling a collection of NPD poems.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/wanted-your-freedom-poems-for-npd/

Hanbury Hall Poetry

Every year the Droitwich Arts Network fill the Long Gallery at Hanbury Hall with work from local artists. In past years Poets have been involved in writing projects run alongside the Gallery. This year I am gathering interested poets together on the first part of the project.

This involves going to look at the exhibition (free entry) any time from 11th October to the 29th October. Choosing a piece of Art and writing Ekphrastic poetry.

There will be opportunities to share your finished work.

FREE

To register your interest please email worcspl@gmail.com

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/writing-opportunity-for-you/

Twin Town Project

This European project has been planned since June, I am now in the final stages meeting with committees and actioning plans. I am currently asking for poets to email to register their interest. A knowledge of language is not necessary. I am setting up projects with Twin Towns both from Germany and France.

There is also a Transatlantic project still in proposal/committee stages. The project with the USA has also been in the making for the past couple of months.

All good things take time.

If this excites you, let me know. I already have a number of poets involved. The first project will be based on partnerships with poets in Germany, so the more the merrier / je mehr, desto besser!

Email worcspl@gmail.com

Performances

National Poetry Day

Voices of 1919

Autumn in Malvern Festival

mike alma voices

Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Malvern, WR14 3AG

Tickets £8.00 available from Malvern Theatres, The Box Office, Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern WR14 3HB – telephone 01684 892 277

7pm for a 7.30pm start.

The Great War is over. In the Spring of 1919 the village of Oakby awaits the return of survivors. Each household has its own story. Through the words of 20 contemporary poets, we hear the voices of villagers struggling to recall their past, to understand the present and to imagine the future.

https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/voices-of-1919/

 

Credo

29th September 7.30pm, Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Malvern WR14 3AG

I will be performing at Elmslie House myself the night after, 29th September as part of Credo. To reserve your seat for the evening recital please call Anna on 07789 470780 Tickets £10 on the door including a free interval drink.

To find out more visit http://www.elmsliehouse.co.uk/2017/08/31/creative-synergy-credo-by-liz-johnson/


Nina’s WPL Blog—August 2017

Worcestershire Poet Laureate News and Reviews

I am delighted to be Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18. I cannot believe that two months have passed already. There are lots of plans in the making and several current opportunities you can take advantage of.

1

Submissions

Submissions are now open for poems about Worcestershire. Send 1-3 previously unpublished poems in the body of an email to worcspl@gmail.combefore the 31st August.

2

I am producing several digital magazines during my tenure and work for this latest call out will appear in Contour in the Autumn, a free online magazine.

I am also looking for artwork/photographs for this issue.

Workshop

Tickets are on sale for a workshop I am delivering on Monday 18th September at Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury. We are using the Sculpture Trail as initial inspiration. Tickets include free cake and tea/coffee, a marquee for the workshop and a tour of the Sculpture Trail.

Attendees have the chance to see their finished poems exhibited at the Jinney Ring and a possible reading later in November.

All this for just £7.00, book your tickets now as places are limited. Get in touch worcspl@gmail.com for further information.

3

Performances

Lakefest

August 12th From 1:15 PM

A whole bunch of Laureates performed in the Pen & Parchment Tent at Lakefest this weekend, 12th August, thanks to Ruth Inglis for organising this.

The programme was exciting and included: A Children’s Workshop with Pete the Temp.

A Lot of Laureates performances from Maggie Doyle, Suz Winspear, Chloe Clarke, Matt Windle and myself.

A Poetry Brothel with Matt Windle, Rick Sanders and myself.

A SpeakEasy Special with the Laureates plus Polly Stretton, Charley Barnes, Rick Sanders.

Poetry on Demand throughout the day.

A Poetry Slam.

The Anti-Poet.

It was a fantastic day, this is the first year Lakefest has had a poetry tent and it was a great success.

18

Huntington Hall – Worcester Festival

Poetry Open Mic Night with Ben Parker

August 23rd 7 PM

Tickets

For £2.50 you can spend the evening listening to poetry. More information can be found here:

Ben Parker Poetry Event

All pre-booked slots are full, performers listed include myself, Myfanwy Fox, Timothy Stavert, Suz Winspear, Robin Hector, Cass Osborn, Bob Woodroofe and Sue Johnson.

Remaining slots filled first-come-first-served on the night. Whether you’re a seasoned performer, or new to the spotlight, this will be a welcoming and enjoyable event.

4

Future Opportunities

A Tale of Two Cities & Twinned Towns

I am currently negotiating two International Poetry Projects, one within Europe and another with the States.

I am looking for poets who are interested in being partnered with a poet across the Atlantic and/or Europe. Look out for more information at the end of the summer and register your interest by dropping a quick email to worcspl@gmail.com – participating poets can take part in both projects.

Open to poets based in Worcestershire.

And Now, A Step Back in Time…

June

What has happened so far? Well, you were probably there but just in case you missed it… June.

The Worcester LitFest Bit

What better way to celebrate my Laureateship than the 7th Worcester LitFest. It was an incredible programme this year – kudos and credit to the WLF team!

I loved that people came from far and wide to Worcester and events saw new audience as well as new faces perform.

My first official engagement as WPL was The Night at the Museum III, an evening at Museum of Royal Worcester, hosted and organised by the former WPL and Poet in Residence, Suz Winspear.

I performed alongside former Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke, the Young Poet Laureate of Worcestershire Oakley and Matt Windle the current Birmingham Poet Laureate.

It was also the official Launch of Suz’s Porcelain Pamphlet ‘The Aniseed Elite’, which she performed. This is a book I can thoroughly recommend and a snip at £4.00!

5

I spent the first week of my Laureateship immersed in WLF. I couldn’t attend everything as I was working but I managed a lot of the programme. This year excitingly, I was part of the bill with a show I created in collaboration with Kathy Gee and Claire Walker.

Something I had been mulling over for a year as I patiently redrafted my pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’. I knew I wanted to do something dynamic with the poetry and was delighted when fellow V.Press Poets agreed to come on board.

We created 30-40-60 a multimedia poetry show which debuted at the festival on Sunday 11th June.

6

This special evening began with a host of poets on the mic including: Elaine Christie, Nigel Hutchinson, Neil Richards, Belinda Rimmer, Rick Sanders, Suz Winspear, Paul Woolridge and Kate Weatherby. I love the fact the show exposed new poets to Worcester and a new poet to all of us. Part of every Laureates mission is to find those who write poetry and are not already part of the network. A true bonus.

You can read more about it here 30-40-60.

With Worcester LitFest in full swing I attended and performed at 42 Festival Special, which featured The Anti-Poet and was an anarchy driven night of high spirits and the following night SpeakEasy with Pete the Temp, which was also the evening Suz and I did the official hand over and had a few more photos taken of the now engraved WPL award!

7

Beyond WLF

I attended the National Writers’ Conference in Birmingham, the day after the Launch of WLF. It is a great Writing West Midlands event, I went as a Room 204 delegate. It is a good investment if you ever get a chance.

8

I created a dedicated email address and blog – check it out https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com/

I performed a Guest Spot at Licensed to Rhyme, a night co-hosted by Maggie Doyle (PL Emeritus) and Spoz, at the Artrix in Bromsgrove.

It is a night of open mics, two Guest Spots and a Headliner. Always a great night and this one saw Ben Parker and Gareth Owen perform.

I visited Croome Court for a National Trust Project I am involved in through Room 204 ‘Adam Speaks’. Room 204 is a Writing Development Programme with Writing West Midlands. I applied in February and was one of 15 successful candidates for this year’s cohort. Over 135 people applied, I am grateful I made it onto the 2017/18 cohort.

9

At the end of the month I Headlined alongside Tom Crossland at Spoken Trend, a night of Spoken Word and Poetry run by Tom McCann at The Bull’s Head in Kings Norton. I don’t get to events in Birmingham as often as I used to, always a pleasure.

10

The Poet Laureate Bit

I organised a poetry performance and picnic at an established event ‘SALT KING 200’ at the Chateau Impney – in celebration of John Corbett and put a call out for poetry submissions for a Refugee Anthology to mark World Refugee Day/ Refugee Awareness Week.

The poetry anthology can be found here.

World Refugee Day in Poetry

Showcasing established, emerging and beginner poets – Local, National & International poets represented. I was amazed by the response and with just 48 hours from call out to end result – it is a fine collective of voices. Strong points that need to be heard and should be made.

Salt King 200 brought eight poets together, again at incredibly short notice. Performers included: Mike Alma, Leena Batchelor, Holly Daffurn, Cass Osborne, Neil Richards, Timothy Stavert, Suz Winspear & myself.

It was a special start to being WPL, delighted that so many took the opportunity to research and write Corbett poetry. It was a fine day in every way. Ten poets originally signed up for Salt King 200, unfortunately they couldn’t all make it. I liked the correlation between being the 7th WPL and having 7 Poets at my first event!

Salt King 200 with added Poetry

14

I promoted National Writing Day, set up a radio slot with BBC Hereford & Worcester, wrote media content to announce my new role and started writing lots of Laureate plans in a pink, glittery (of course) notebook.

I performed at WLF event Words on Water, a beautiful Solstice Walk along the Severn, one I have enjoyed for a few years now.

July

The Poet Laureate Bit

I performed in my 4th official event as WPL for Evesham’s Festival of Words. This event had a great turn out and beautiful Sunday morning sunshine for the poetry walk, a gentle stroll across the green park around the Bell Tower in Evesham.

15

I performed some Evesham poems written especially for the event and enjoyed listening to poetry and prose. It was good to see some people who happened upon our merry group, stay and listen.

BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester

I had my first Radio slot with Tammy Gooding BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester. This was something Maggie Doyle instigated during her WPL tenure (2013/14). It is a tradition picked up by other Laureates and I am happy to continue with it.

I read ‘Gander’ one of the poems written for Evesham Festival of Words. Tammy is amazing at putting you at ease. She was impressed with an interview which needed no editing! It has been decades since I stepped foot inside a studio. I was nervous, but had such a great time!

I am already booked in for August, listen in from 1 PM on Monday 14th.

I had a Guest Spot as the new WPL at Licensed to Rhyme, Maggie Doyle & Spoz’s monthly poetry event at the Artrix. The other Guest Spot Poet was Claire Walker and Headlining was Suz Winspear. It was an opportunity for me to perform many of the poems created as WPL so far, the list is already fairly lengthy. There were a plethora of open mic-ers. It was a fabulous evening.

On the 22nd I was part of Watch Out Worcester thanks to Suz Winspear, who organised a fantastic event at St. Swithin’s with her DanceFest connection. It was a wonderful event and a pleasure to perform some of my Poetry Ballroom set again.

I was Poet in Residence at Droitwich Library for the morning as part of the Artsfest. It was a chance to wear my personalised WLF t-shirt and spread poetry joy. The children enjoyed making poetry kits, I wrote several library poems and chatted about all things poetry.

 

16 PHOTO CREDIT Rhys Jones

Photo credit Rhys Jones

After this I dropped some Poetry for Display into Canal Side Studio and talked about more WPL opportunities, so watch this space for more exciting Poetry Projects to sink your teeth into!

Beyond

I headlined at Uncorked at the beginning of the month alongside Clive Oseman, Sean Colletti and Jake Scott. This is a great evening created by Holly Daffurn that happens at the lovely Bottles Wine Bar in Worcester.

17

I went to a workshop in Shrewsbury with Helen Ivory and Martin Figura, it was great to finally meet these two and catch up with Shropshire based poets. I managed to get a quality poem from this workshop too – and of course bought more books for my poetry bookcase.

I spent a day catching the end of Ledbury Poetry Festival with an action packed schedule starting with a performance of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ poetry at Coffee Morning with Malika’s Kitchen hosted by Jill Abram. Read more about it here. 21 Years of Gold Ledbury Poetry Festival

I performed in Cheltenham at Chapel Lates, an amazing night of poetry and prose as part of Cheltenham Music Festival curated by Anna Saunders (Founder Cheltenham Poetry Festival). Read all about it here Chapel Lates

Buildings Talk: Hospital Histories – poetry performed at the George Marshall Medical Museum. Charley Barnes asked me to participate in this project at the end of June along with Mike Alma and Polly Stretton.

We had access to historical archives (photographs) which are not on general display to the public and from these we created a 10 minute set of poetry.

It was a great project to be involved in, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Louise Price had the creative vision to intersperse the medical talks with poetry. We performed our poems with the images projected behind us.

I performed at Open Poetry in Walsall Arboretum (an event organised by David Calcutt), this month was a charity event to raise awareness of the refugee crisis in Greece. We raised funds for PIPKA – refugees in Lesvos.

I attended the Nine Arches Press Summer Party at Waterstones Birmingham with readings from Angela France, Gregory Leadbetter, Tania Hershman and Rishi Dastidar.

I went to Cheltenham for Angela France’s Book Launch, ‘The Hill’ is her latest collection, published by Nine Arches.

I had a workshop with Chris Alton, the Lead Artist on the Croome Court Project and another workshop with Angela France.

Droitwich Artsfest happened, this festival is something I have been involved in organising the poetry element for the past 5 months.

The 22nd saw Poetry in St. Andrew’s Square with myself, Antony Owen and Val Harrison and later in the evening Fergus McGonigal (former WPL) hosted Poetry Extravaganza at Park’s Cafe. A fantastic night of poetry and I was presented with my newly engraved WPL Award.

In between I managed to get across to Suz’s event for Watch Out Worcester, Poetry at St. Swithin’s.

I finished the month with a night of poetry and prose at Drummonds 42 and the pleasure of seeing Kevin Brooke in action as the Guest host, it was a ‘curious’ night of delight. Kevin did a sterling job!

And now… it is August and I have performed at Lakefest, attended my first WLF Committee Meeting and am busy reading submissions for Contour, finalising PR for the Jinney Ring Sculpture Workshops and liaising with International organisations over the Twin Projects, oh – and celebrating my birthday. Having realised I am the Youngest Worcester Poet Laureate, I don’t feel so old!

See you all soon!

Suz’s WPL Blog – December 2016

16997809_1294419357261825_2254719734483378576_nInteresting 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 . . .

 

LitFest National Poetry Day Competition

Organised by Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie

  • The 2015 LitFest National Poetry Day Competition is now open
  • Closing Date Sunday 6 September 2015
  • Free entry
  • Open to all in Worcestershire
  • For rules see below
  • Judges: Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie, and Maggie Doyle, Poet Laureate Emeritus
  • Poets are invited to attend a free tour of the Museum of Carpet for inspiration on Saturday 15 August 2.00pm. Please report to the Museum Reception to join the tour.

 

Competition Rules

  1. Entrants must be available to perform their poem(s) Thursday 8 October 2015 7.30pm at Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster.
  2. Closing date Sunday 6 September 2015.
  3. The theme is ‘Light and Shade’. All styles and genres are welcome. Poems inspired by the carpet industry will be particularly welcome.
  4. Submitted pieces must not have been published elsewhere and must be the entrant’s own original work.
  5. By entering this competition you agree that your work can be published on the LitFest website, read at LitFest events and included in publicity and promotions.
  6. Translations of anyone else’s work are not eligible. Copyright remains with the writer.
  7. Entries must be in English
  8. Submit entries by email to secretary@worcslitfest.co.uk.
  9. The subject line of the e-mail must say ‘LitFest National Poetry Day Submission’. A circa 50-word profile of the writer in the third person and the writer’s postal address to be included in the body of the email.
  10. Entries should be attached as a Word or an RTF document. Give your name and contact details in the body of the email, as well as the title of your submission(s). Do not put your name or email address on the entry itself. Please state your age if under 18.
  11. Entries should be single spaced, in a clear 12pt font.
  12. Maximum line limit: 40 lines excluding the title.
  13. Entrants will be notified of the shortlist by Monday 28 September 2015. The top three poets will be invited to perform their poems on National Poetry Day (see 1). Poems by the remaining poets on the shortlist will be published online and the public invited to vote for their favourite poem.
  14. No alterations can be made after receipt. The judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence can be entered into. No entrant may win more than one prize.
  15. No correspondence will be entered into regarding the outcome of this competition.

Entry into the competition is taken to be acceptance of these rules.

All entries will be judged anonymously.

Judges: Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie, and a member of the LitFest committee.

Competition closes Sunday 6 September 2015.

Final results announced Thursday 8 October 2015 at the event and on the LitFest website thereafter.

First prize: Free admission to Museum of Carpet for a family or two adults, plus free entry to the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2016 and free entry to Worcester SpeakEasy and to Mouth & Music Kidderminster for one year.

Submission Guidelines

If sufficient entries from poets aged under 18 are received, we will make a separate category for these entrants.

All entries will be acknowledged within 48 hours of receipt. If you have not heard from us within a week please contact us. It is your responsibility to confirm your entry has been received.

We cannot accept submissions that do not follow submissions guidelines and rules.

Get your poetry fingers moving!  Good luck!

_________________________

We are delighted to show the first poem from new Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie. Congratulations to Heather–we’re raising a glass to a wonderful year.

Heather in the news
Heather in the news

…and here is Heather’s first poem as Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015. Heather was interviewed by Worcester News shortly after she won this year’s Laureateship and the interview led to a poem and a promise, shown below. See Heather’s website for more.

Poet Laureate’s Promise

For a whole year
Worcestershire
is poetically mine!

I could strut sonnets in Stourport
Hand out haikus in Hartlebury
Tinker with triolets in Tenbury Wells
Swan through Kidderminster kicking kennings
Conjure couplets in Cookley
Polish pantoums in Pershore
Dig up doggerel in Droitwich
Blurt out blank verse in Bewdley
and bawl ballads in Bromsgrove
Exclaim elegies in Evesham
Forage for free verse in Fairfield
Offer odes in Ombersley
Recite rondeaux in Redditch
Initiate idylls in Inkberrow
Lurk with limericks in Lickey …

My stanzas could spring up anywhere;
there’ll be a poetic kerfuffle.
And one thing I promise the Worcestershire folk:
my poems will never be waffle.

© Heather Wastie
June 2015

_________________________

A Snapshot of September 2014

Welcome to  our 2014 Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal. Fergus has written this article to keep us up to date with what his role has involved through the first months of his Laureate tenure. To see the footnotes, please click on the numbers–click on the number again to return to where you were. Here’s his post about September 2014:

Fergus McGonigal
Fergus McGonigal

Week One

After the summer break[1], it was back to matters poetic with a trip to the National Trust property in Croome, along with the LitFest’s Polly Stretton and Maggie Doyle (and several other poets, including our December headliner, Heather Wastie). This was the start of a project to bring poetry to Croome (and, who knows, eventually other NT properties).

The day after that and it was off to Shrewsbury to do a 15-minute set for Liz Lefroy’s monthly spoken word night at ‘Eat Up’. I bumped into Robert Harper, editor of the excellent Bare Fiction magazine, and chatted about writing a review for the magazine for our October SpeakEasy birthday special.

A couple of days after that and I was in Stafford, performing a 10-minute set at the Stafford Young Poet Laureate competition. There was a healthy representation from Worcestershire (I bumped into Mike Alma, Mogs and the ubiquitous Nina Lewis). The Stafford Poetry Society Stanza leader invited me to give an hour-long performance/talk to his group. We shall see[2].

 

Week Two

The week kicked off with a SpeakEasy meeting at Maggie’s house. This is a monthly get-together: always productive, always great company.

The following day was Mouth and Music. UK Slam Champ Ben Norris, who headlined for us in January, gave a characteristically captivating performance. I performed a couple of poems from the pop-up poetry mini-show, ‘How Do Wars Start?’[3], which Heather Wastie and I had written and performed for this year’s Kidderminster Arts Festival (we’re working on expanding it from twenty to thirty minutes and have approached a few other festivals, of which one, the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, has immediately said ‘yes’).

Two days later and it was back to our own SpeakEasy at the Old Rectifying House, after a two-month break. An exclusive[4] audience enjoyed a varied set from Pete Wyton, former Gloucestershire Poet Laureate, and man with the most impressive poetry CV which SpeakEasy has seen (time does not permit[5]). The usual array of regulars and a couple of promising new talents were in attendance, and we saw the inauguration of the new SpeakEasy special raffle prize – a shirt (and we have enough to keep us interested, if that’s the right word[6]).

Sunday should have seen me at Nina Lewis’s ‘One Year a Poet’ at the Slug and Lettuce in Bromsgrove, but a streaming cold and a trip to the Small Injuries Unit at Kidderminster Hospital[7] put paid to that, much to my disappointment.

 

Week Three

I met up with Polly and Maggie again on Wednesday at Wolverley[8]. It is always good to make new poetry friends and I hope that we can encourage a couple of new faces at SpeakEasy from this enthusiastic group. The first part of the evening was Kidderminster Creatives’ AGM, followed by a ‘Creativity Jam’[9]. Naturally, with my extensive experience of the concept, I’ve offered to lead the next one.

On Thursday, I journeyed to Croome with Heather to walk around the grounds for a second time. The day was blessed with glorious weather and we came up with several[10] ideas, not only for poems but also for how we might use the venue for poetry. In the evening, I drove up to Birmingham with Maggie for ‘Hit the Ode’. I performed a couple of poems. It’s been a while since I was last there, and I always seem to channel my manic side with that crowd[11]. Maggie and I are currently shortlisting for next year’s headliners. Top of our list is Luke Kennard[12], but also on our list is Stephen Morrison-Burke and Hit the Ode’s exceptional MC, Bohdan (the ‘h’ is pronounced as a hard ‘g’) Piasecki. Bohdan was unable to perform at SpeakEasy’s previous incarnation, Parole Parlate, because he was helping the Festival find headliners for them in his capacity as regional head honcho[13] of Apples and Snakes – which precluded him from taking part. We’re delighted that they’ve both agreed. The UK headliner was my fellow Burning Eye[14] poet, Sally Jenkinson.

The biggest news of this week for me was that the final edit of ‘The Failed Idealist’s Guide to the Tatty Truth’ has been signed off by my editor, Harriet Evans, to go to the MD of Burning Eye Books Clive Birnie. It has been a fascinating process, and I am full of awe and admiration for Harriet. The publication date is the first week of November, and I have a book launch booked at Trinity Arts Centre in Tunbridge Wells[15]. Of course, the first[16] book launch will be at our very own Old Wreck[17].

 

Week Four

Next week sees the first of our SpeakEasy LitFest specials – Elvis McGonagall[18] at the Hive. The idea is to have two ‘one-off specials’ a year. We’ve invited Men in General to perform at St Swithun’s Institute next March.

Saturday will see the first Bell Tent Poetry Workshop, at Bewdley Library, between 10 and 12 (free to the public, but I do get paid), and the following week I am in St George’s Primary School in Kidderminster on Monday 29th, kicking off National Poetry Week with a whole school assembly, and a half-hour session for each class in the juniors (15 minutes for the infants).

Elvis McGonagall
Elvis McGonagall

And that’s a snapshot of my September.

[1] Well, apart from the Kidderminster Arts Festival

[2] Or maybe we shan’t.

[3] I was going to have done a couple of new funnies, but hey, someone had, ahem, hidden my notebook.

[4] Yes, exclusive.

[5] Well, it does, but it’s Friday evening.

[6] It isn’t.

[7] I didn’t perform at this particular venue.

[8] Where we pondered the validity of performing to mismatched teapots and a variety of outdoor furniture.

[9] Me neither.

[10] Or ‘many’, the only two big number which I know.

[11] Unbelievably good fun!

[12] Second time lucky.

[13] His official title.

[14] Burning Eye Books are also my publishers.

[15] My former home town, before I adopted a series of various different Worcestershire locations as home.

[16] …and real and true and proper…

[17] Well it will be, just as soon as I book it. Get your act together McGonigal!

[18] From the dyslexic branch of the family.

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