Sunday, 6 September 2015

NEWS - Ouse Washes, Colchester Free Festival and Stuff of Life Festival

Poetry submission acceptances are a lot like buses. You wait for one for aaaaaaaaggeees, and then two come along at once!

Or one ultra-long, bendy one. (I'm not sure this still relates to poems...)

This week, I got a lovely email from the folk at the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership to say that they'd like to publish my poem 'Instructions for Happiness' on their website.

I wrote the poem while sitting on the riverbank in St Ives, in between performances at the St Ives Discovery Day back in July, and I'm really pleased that it's going to be displayed online.

You can check out 'Instructions for Happiness' here, alongside a beautiful poem from Fenland Poet Laureate Jonathan Totman, and two great poems by organiser and Mayor's Poet Chris Morgan.

A view from the riverbank at St Ives

Last week I also received an email from the The Fenland Reed, confirming that my poem 'Night Climbing' had been chosen to appear in the first issue of the magazine.

The Fenland Reed is a brand new literary magazine, based in East Anglia, and the first issue comes out in October. It's the brainchild of Ely-based poets Mary Livingstone and Jonathan Totman, and is already highly anticipated as a great new avenue for local writing!

The magazine launch night is on Wednesday 14th October at the Babylon Gallery in Ely. It's going to be a brilliant event, with special readings by featured poets, and your chance to get hold of your copy of issue one, before anyone else!

I'm really sad that I can't get to the launch, but I'm really looking forward to getting hold of my copy of the magazine! (Squeal of joy!)

The Fenland Reed

So that's all quite exciting! I've also just entered a local poetry competition in Nottingham, so fingers crossed for that. The theme of the competition is 'food and drink' and I have written a loose ballad about taramasalata. I think it might be a bit too weird for the judges, but we'll see...

Actually, I really enjoyed the challenge of finding things to rhyme with taramasalata! It's got quite a tricky rhythm - and a tonne of syllables - which makes it a lot harder than it sounds!

Here's some Taramasalata recipes from the BBC

I've also been to a couple more festivals this month.

Last weekend, I popped down to Essex for an afternoon of spoken word and drama, courtesy of the Colchester Free Festival.

It was a pretty long drive from the East Midlands, but the four hours in the car were totally worth it!

The Festival itself is in the grounds of Colchester Castle, and features music, theatre and spoken word from across Essex and beyond! Add to that a huge variety of street food vendors, and hundreds of stalls, crafts and workshops, and you have a recipe for a pretty good festival.

And the best part is it's all free!

I really enjoyed watching all the poets and performers on the spoken word stage. Kim Johnston's poetry was really brilliant, and David Canning's poem 'Zombie Dad' really made me smile. Gerry McGee's character poetry was excellent and Martin Newell was superb, as always. I'm always really impressed by his cheeky, Essex Gent persona, cracking jokes and chatting with the crowd between poems in a way that puts the audience completely at ease.

I find the between-poem banter quite difficult, so it's always nice to see a total pro at work. 

After my set, I made the mistake of sitting in the front row, and unwittingly became part of mime artist Holli Dillon's act. I won't recount the story here, suffice to say it ended in the two of us wrestling!

Massive thanks to Darren Gooding at True Love Tours for inviting me to perform at the festival. I hope to come along again next year!

Colchester Castle - looks nice, doesn't it?

Then yesterday, I stayed a little closer to home to check out the Stuff of Life Festival in Hedley Villas Park. This community festival is organised by local people, and includes a vast range of foods, crafts, music and art.

Highlights for me included the outdoor art gallery, the Gamelan orchestra, home made food from right across the world, plus some traditional Bulgarian folk songs, sung by the most adorable little girls (and their mum).

As usual, I spent most of the afternoon at the spoken word stage (which on this occasion was in a gazebo in someone's back garden). I heard some great extended sets from some of the DIY poets, including Lytisha, Chris Lewis-Jones, Orla Shortall, Phil Deakin, Andy Szpuk, and Chris Page. 

I particularly enjoyed Orla's Irish Patriotism Poem, Phil's poem about hope, and Andy's satirical piece about British manufacturing ('At least we still make guns'.)

Thoroughly 'Modern' Leanne

In a couple of weeks' time, I'm heading down to Leicester to take part in the Superheroes of Slam competition at the Attenborough Arts Centre. The winner of this competition gets  place at the National Finals in Manchester - which would be brilliant! 

So yeah, if you're in Leicester on Thursday 17th September, come down and say hi!   

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