‘Moving honest films’. ‘Loved the variety and the uniqueness of each voice and the imagery in films, ‘Nice to have lots of different atmospheres created in a night.’ ‘The energy, passion and enthusiasm of the poets was so exciting.’
These were just some of the comments collected at the ‘Words in Motion’ events in Bristol and Leeds.
People loved the Arts House in Bristol, saying it ‘gives a lovely intimacy to poetry and performance and connection between performer and audience’ and The Tetley’s ‘prestigious brewery circumstances, but with such girl power’. Huge thanks to everyone who performed, including some brilliant open micers, and to all who made it to the events, especially those who arrived drenched from the 8th May deluge, many very despondent at the election results. As you can gather from the feedback, Rebecca Tantony and Caleb Parkin were excellent at the event in Bristol as were the Leeds-based poets. Bryony Pritchard took these lovely photos of the second event and we even had a film crew from Leeds Beckett present who were compiling films for an assignment. We were sad that Char March couldn’t make it due to illness and sorry for any inconvenience caused but it couldn’t be helped.
Other Lovely Things I’ve Been Up To
Steve Toase and I have been working hard on the ‘Haunt’ anthology, which will be published later in the summer and have almost finished compiling it. The website now has a large body of work written by the participants and Steve and me. Do have a look and let us know what you think about the powerful words from people affected by homelessness in Harrogate. There will be a launch later in the year, when the next stage of this Imove project begins.
‘Lucky Pendant’, the song composed by Adam Sangster for which I wrote the words was performed by Kamil Bień and Matt Lam at the Leeds Lieder in April. Knowing that the song would be performed by a male singer, I took the opportunity to write something I had been thinking about for awhile – a counterpart to ‘Paisley Quilt’ from a male perspective. The music though made it into something else. It was appropriately obsessive and became more disjointed as the piece progressed, finishing in a long haunted silence pierced by a gasp from someone in the audience, which I took to be a sign that the song had hit its mark. I wasn’t surprised. Adam Sangster and the other composers are so skilled and imaginative and the songs were all so interesting to listen to. And the best thing about the whole event for me was being able to spend time working with the composer, musician and singer and hanging out with poets who I have a lot of time and respect for such as Josie Walsh, Antony Dunn and Tanya Nightingale as well as panel member, Ian Duhig. Here is a review by Richard Wilcocks about the evening.
I found out last month that my poetry collection was longlisted by Matthew Francis in the Cinnamon Collection Competition, which was a pleasant surprise. It was hard to pick which poems from the collection to submit so I’m glad they went down well.
Siobhan MacMahon Facebooked me recently to tell me that both our poems were mentioned favourably in Jordan Savage’s ‘Hallelujah For Fifty Ft Women’ review. The more of this book that I read, the happier I am that my poem was chosen by Raving Beauties and Bloodaxe for inclusion. It is a spectacular thunderstorm of an anthology, crackling with female voices that will not be ignored. Leeds people should look out for some Raving Beauties news in the near future. I’ll let you know more details when I have them.
It was touch and go whether my ‘Love The Words’ radio feature with Peter Spafford at ELFM would go ahead as there were problems with the equipment. But, just as I arrived at the gorgeous Chapel, everything kicked into motion. Here is the show if you want to listen to me babbling on about what I’ve been up to. This was followed the next week by being interviewed for the new Trinity University podcast Wordspace Radio. I really enjoyed chatting about writing and performance to Billy, Megan and Ethan, the Creative Writing students who I had met at the Writers’ Day in March. The podcast is still being edited due to student deadlines but I’ll post it in my next blog. You can find their other podcasts on youtube.
I’m going to finish the lovely things list with a recommendation that is nothing to do with me at all. If you haven’t already, do go out and buy Kim Moore’s first full length collection, ‘The Art of Falling’. I saw her read at her Leeds launch and was in awe. Her lyrical layering of imagery is relentless in its power and the sequence on domestic violence is one of the best I’ve read.
Things I am looking forward to
- Bridlington Poetry Festival where the film of my poem ‘Pillion’, made by Pru Fowler will be shown alongside Yoav Segal’s film of Ted Hughes’s Crow – what a privilege! I’ll be there for the opening night to hear Ian Duhig, Pascale Petit and Sophie Hannah and hopefully catch the films.
- Being part of another ‘Beautiful Dragons’ anthology of poems, this time about chemical elements, alongside some of the best contemporary British (and German) poets. My element was chlorine. See what other work they have produced here including ‘Heavenly Bodies’, the previous anthology I was featured in.
- Having a poem included in the sequel to the ‘Book of Sand’, edited by Karen Dennison (publication date tbc). I wrote to ask if I could be involved after reading the first book, which Karen describes as ‘an alternating sequence of poetry and visual art, where poems inspire art and art inspires poetry’ and was so happy when I received an email with an artwork by an unnamed artist as a prompt – all very mysterious. If the book is anything like the last it will be a beautiful thing that I guarantee many of you will want to possess. Click the link to find out more about the project.
- The publication of ‘Envoi’, featuring my poem ‘Christchurch, Ilkley’ in June.
- More ‘Get Started’ workshops with Artlink, including an exploratory trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park with one of our groups.
- Writing more of my third novel. I’ve begun looking at the structure again and rewriting from the beginning, working on it for an hour a day and more when I can and I’m very much enjoying it.
Gigs in the Autumn
- 8th October: Performing at ‘Headingley Festival of Ideas’, Headingley Library, Leeds alongside Helen Mort, Matthew Hedley Stoppard, my one-time workshop participants Howard Benn and Linda Marshall, and other on National Poetry Day.
- 30th October: Guest Spot at wonderful local night, ‘Word Club’ at The Chemic, Leeds.
- 31st October: Helmsley Arts Centre with A Firm of Poets
- 28th November: Barnsley Civic Theatre with A Firm of Poets
Joining the force that is A Firm of Poets on their tour is a wonderful opportunity. In addition to performing alongside such impressive performers, it will also allow me to fulfill my long-held dream of being part of a tour in my own right. The last time I went on tour was with some musician friends and was great fun but I wasn’t actually performing, just enjoying the music and the company!
Speaking of music, I’m sad that I will miss the first Firm of Poets gig with the mellifluous Fran Smith due to it being on 23rd June, the same date as my surgery, but hope some of you will be able to go. Here is a link to their upcoming dates list.
Due to having to cancel projects and arranging fewer workshops in expectation of my surgery being earlier, it’s strange that I’ll have a few weeks with more (read some) spare time. But I’m using the time fruitfully by planning ahead for projects coming up later in the year, spring cleaning and getting up to date with other things. I’ve even completed my tax return!
So this is me signing off for the summer. May it bring you all the sunshine you desire.