And, after my far-flung adventures in October and early November, I thought it was high time I spent a bit more time closer to home. So, a couple of weeks ago, I took a carload of poets up the A612 for a Folk and Poetry event in Southwell.
There were four of us in my little Corsa – Trevor, Hazel, Clare and me – and as we drove down the abandoned-looking dirt track towards the spooky building the sat-nav promised was our destination, I couldn’t help feeling like this was the start of a horror movie: four poets lost on the way to a gig accidentally end up at the remote home of a serial killer in the remote Nottinghamshire countryside! Dun dun dun!
|As it turned out, it was actually a pretty swanky place!|
Luckily, that stuff was all in my imagination, and we actually made it to the venue in one piece: a fantastic barn conversion that housed music and dance events, and residencies for performing artists from across the UK.
It was a really cool place to perform and – considering most of the audience didn’t know there would be poetry ahead of their Headline act – I think we did a pretty good job! Lots of people stopped us afterwards to ask us about our stuff, and it was so lovely to be part of something a bit different too.
Then, last week, I popped along to West Bridgford Library to check out Poetry Aloud, a fantastic event curated by graduates from Nottingham Trent University’s MA Creative Writing Course.
There were some fab sets from my fellow DIY poets Trevor Wright and Lytisha Tunbridge, and a great performance by the very lovely Katy Gearing, as well as some fantastic stuff from Becky Cullen, Jo Dixon, Lucy Peacock, Elvire Roberts, Andrew Taylor and Rory Waterman. It was a veritable feast for the ears! Plus, it gave me morsel of encouragement for possible future MA-related dreams. Watch this space, I guess!
|Elvire Roberts reciting her fab poetry at Poetry Aloud|
Also this month, I’ve been feverishly plugging the Fenland Poet Laureate Competition, which launched a few weeks’ ago.
The Fenland Poet Laureate Programme is a community arts project that seeks to promote poetry in the rural areas of North and East Cambridgeshire, West Norfolk and South Lincolnshire (more commonly known as ‘The Fens’.) The programme helps to facilitate creative opportunities and support writers across the region, and one of the main ways we do this is through the Fenland Poet Laureate Competition!
The competition runs annually, and asks talented local writers from the ages of 10-110 (and older if you like!) to ‘write a poem for Fenland’. The poems are judged completely anonymously and, once our panel have picked their favourites, the shortlisted poets are invited to an awards ceremony, where the winners are announced!
One of the best things about winning the title is that you really can do anything you like with your time in the post: former laureates have set up local open mic nights, edited publications, established literary magazines, written poems for local events and organisations, organised writing workshops, performed at local, national and international festivals, and done loads of other cool things with the support of the Fenland Poet Laureate Programme. It’s a great was of raising your own profile, as well as taking advantage of opportunities, and hopefully giving other local writers a helping hand too!
|A flock of Fenland Poet Laureates!|
This year, I’m coordinating the entries (and anonymising them ready to pass them onto our judging team) and I can’t tell you how excited I am every time another entry pings into the inbox! Plus, I get to play with spreadsheets to log all the entries – and I do love a good spreadsheet! (Who doesn’t?!)
If you live, work or study in the Fenland area, and fancy your chances at becoming our Laureate for 2017, send us your entries! All the details on how to enter, as well as info on whether you fall under our eligibility criteria, are available on the Fenland Poetry website. I am disgustingly excited about receiving your poems!
|Mary Livingstone - Fenland Poet Laureate 2016 - reading her winning poem|
I’ve also been having a marvellous time working with Writing East Midlands on the Write Here: Sanctuary project, helping very excellent Nottingham-based poet Rich Goodson to facilitate a series of creative writing workshops with a group of refugees and asylum seekers.
Rich and I have been working with members of the Women’s Cultural Exchange Group at the Refugee Forum in Nottingham, and there are also other poets working with groups in Derby and Leicester as part of the project.
|A Write Here: Sanctuary workshop in full swing!|
It’s been so amazing to work with so many incredible, intelligent and riotously funny women, and Wednesday mornings are now the highlight of my week! In fact, my favourite part of the project is that, because we have thirteen sessions spread out over thirteen weeks, we’ve all really got a chance to get to know each other, and it’s been so cool to watch everyone’s writing improve and grow of the course of the sessions.
I’m definitely going to a big post about the whole experience soon – so watch out for that – but for now I’m just going to say that in today’s session, Rich taught the group how to write villanelles (which are super hard!) and our participants wrote so many good poems that it actually made me want to do a bit of a happy cry! But I didn’t because I am a professional.
I also managed do some cheeky recording over the weekend, so I have a new youtube video online!
I’m really pleased with how it turned out, so if you fancy taking a look at my very pale and animated little face, you can check out the video here.
Please do give it a cheeky watch, and share it if you think it’s worth sharing, as it would blumming marvellous to get it to over 100 views!
|Behind the scenes video photo! (And jazz hands, apparently?!)|
Next week, we have our final Crosswords Spoken Word Open Mic of the year, and you should definitely come if you’re in the Nottingham area. It’s downstairs at the Malt Cross pub in the city centre on Wednesday 7th December. Doors open at 7:30pm and we start the show at 8pm. It’s £2 per person, and there’s loads of open mic slots, so we’d love to see you there. Check out our Facebook event for more details.