Blog Tour and Poetry & Pollination

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Sarah James, left, and myself (looking rather sleepy…I was just very happy!)

On the 9th of May there was a really lovely event at the Hive in Worcester, called Poetry and Pollination. I helped to organise it and it was a collaboration event between Ledbury Poetry Festival, the Hive and Worcester Lit Fest and Fringe. The nicest part about organising it was getting the emails from people who wanted to read and working out the running order. I knew it was going to be a great event just from the list of people reading. Plus, there were some new people to meet too, which is always nice.

The theme was Pollination, creative or literal. Bees and hives poems were what I needed, although it wasn’t compulsory and in way that delighted me, each poet stuck to theme and read some incredible poems about bees. There were ten poets reading as well as myself, plus Sarah James headlining the event reading from her books (be)yond published by Knives, Forks and Spoons and Into the Yell, published by Circaidy Gregory.

The ten poets were:

Maggie Doyle

Charlie Hammond

Claire Walker

Timothy P Stavert

Nina Lewis

Duncan Forbes

Lesley J Ingram

Ian Glass

Jenny Hope

Suz Winspear

Each of the poets read so well, the acoustics in the room are splendid so it enhanced each voice and made it a very effective space for listening to poetry. It was also a very special event for me because my parents were there and it was the first time they had heard me read. My father keeps bees so it was the perfect event for him to attend.

BLOG TOUR

I was invited to take part in the ‘The Writing Process’ Blog Tour by Sarah James. Her own blog post about this can be found here and my responses to the questions are below.

What am I working on?

At the moment I am working on a sequence of poems that form a narrative. They have a very strange set of starting points and I am still trying to wrestle them into something I could share. At the moment they are just for my writing pleasure.

Whenever I get an idea I have to write about it until I have satisfied my curiosity about that subject.

A few years ago I had an idea about writing a collection of poems from the point of view of every Queen or royal consort, from Anglo-Saxon times until the present day. The collection is finished now, 62 poems that give a voice to all those different women and it was great fun to research and write. The poems show the changing roles of queens through the ages and the changing styles of poetry.

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How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think my work has a strong sense of the natural world and in particular I like to use animal metaphors. I am especially interested in the space between human and animal, the shape shifting that can represent mixed-ethnicity or mixed gender identity. I would be very interested to hear what other people think about this question! How do you think my work differs from others?
Why do I write what I do?

Because I cannot help myself! Writing is my pleasure, enjoyment, compulsion, therapy.
I write when I am trying to work something out, when I want to record something in a physical form, when I am depressed, when I am ecstatic.
How does my writing process work?

I write on fragments of paper and in various books in different places but usually I am without a pen or paper. This means my poems take form in my head first and I think about them when I walking the dog each day. The ideas tumble around and I file them away and keep returning to them. I keep thinking about them until they turn into something interesting to me. I usually have a fragment. An image or a line and the poem will come from this.

Anything can catch my interest. I am curious about everything. If I read about something I have to know more and I will read further books or articles about that subject. Or if it is a person that interests me I will get to know them more, listen to their stories. I am never doing this to find a poem. I just like people and conversation. Friendship is the main thing. Poetry is second.

 

I nominate Claire Walker, who blogs here

and Catherine Crosswell who blogs here

Fox Boy

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I am delighted to say my pamphlet is now available from Dancing Girl Press.

I will be reading from Fox Boy at a few different events in the next couple of weeks.

Firstly at the City Museum & Art Gallery in Worcester on Saturday 21st June

11am -1.30pm

Native American Myths, Story-telling and Poetry Workshop

Join author and poet Ruth Stacey to explore our wonderful collection of artefacts from North America. Ruth will share her deep knowledge and enthusiasm for the Native American culture, exploring the fascinating relationship between the people and animal kingdom. For the Native Americans story telling was, and still is, an important way to pass wisdom down to the next generation. To make the information memorable the stories are filled with heroes, villains, comedy, drama and animals (often trickster characters who upset the rules and bring chaos into situations!) Ruth will encourage you to shape your response in to poetry, short stories or observation drawing.

Secondly at Droitwich Arts Network festival (DAN) on the 28th June at 19:00pm –21:30pm

A DROITWICH café-bar is set to get Wild and Foxy for a special out-of-this-word festival celebration.The FREE spoken word evening at Park’s Café on Saturday, June 28 is part of this year’s Droitwich Summer Festival line-up.The Droitwich Arts Network (DAN) live lit event will be headlined by V. Press poets Catherine Crosswell, Jenny Hope, Ruth Stacey and Sarah James.The Worcestershire poets will be dishing up a range of poems for a range of tastes, revealing the theme’s literal and metaphorical flavours.From nature and wildlife to poetry that’s a little more saucy, the evening will feature a small sample from the group’s V. Press anthology, as well as new performance work and poems from their individual collections.

Finally I will be reading at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year with another Dancing Girl Press author, the wonderful poet Carrie Etter. You can hear us at the Shell House Gallery at 12.15pm on the 5th July.

20 minutes with Carrie Etter and Ruth Stacey

Much Wenlock : Four Voices from Gatehouse Press

I really look forward to going to the Much Wenlock poetry festival because it is such a beautiful place and the venues are excellent. It is such a friendly poetry place! This was my third year and I met my good friend Charlotte there to go the event titled ‘Four Voices From Gatehouse Press at the Pottery. This event stood out to me after reading the programme and it was the work of Sarah Law that caught my eye. She had written a collection called Ink’s Wish based on the writings of medieval writer Margery Kempe and I am fascinated by anything from that period. Here is some information about the collection:

‘A collection of poems inspired by medieval Norfolk visionary Margery Kempe. Eccentric, bold, entertaining, and a well-travelled pilgrim, Margery was a notable and controversial character, and the first to write an autobiography in English. From prose poems to song lyrics, the poems in this collection draw on Margery’s life and visions while often taking unexpected turns of their own. They encompass the strange, the spiritual, and the playful, as Margery did herself.’

Sarah Law read first and her poems were extremely interesting. Her reading was gentle and playful, emphasising the personality and humour of Margery Kempe. However, despite this lightness of touch the poems were layered like reams of folded fabric, with each layer revealing unexpected emotion that evoked the raw passion and revelation that was part of Margery’s spiritual experience. The reading included song lyrics that were particularly mesmerising and captured the pilgrim spirit of the medieval writer.

Next to read was Andrea Holland from her book Broadcasting. Andrea Holland described to us the background of her work. Five villages In Breckland, Norfolk were requisitioned by the British Military in June 1942, to enable them to train for D Day. The villagers had to leave their homes behind, which are now ruined; a ghostly reminder of past village life.

‘Real and imaginary villagers who gave up their homes and their land for what would have been described as ‘the war effort’ appear in this sequence of poems for the Cafe Writers Norfolk commission. Poems and original pre-requisition photographs of villagers and village life bring to light a significant episode in Norfolk history which has nevertheless been almost entirely forgotten by the subsequent two generations.’

Andrea’s reading was very emotional (not that she betrayed the emotion in her voice, she was a strong and composed reader) but her vivid choice of detail captured the village in words that were as specific as a photograph. She made the villagers and their activities come to life. Her exactness of description expressed the loss of village life and past history. Andrea Holland’s poems allowed the listener to fill in the background of war, which was very skillful and effective.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave stood up and gave an assured and confident recital of her poem about Tiberius from her collection Splitfish. Her poise and expression made sure every person in the room was held by her words. And the words were excellent. Extremely descriptive and vivid, the five senses were in full effect so the listener could hear the fish slapping on the floor, feel the poor man rubbed to death with the scales and see the red silk, pearl, green, rainbow and azure colours that were all detailed. Kiran read another ‘myth’ poem at the end of her set that was about the Minotaur’s Mother. The poem focuses on the pregnancy and the moment the mother realised she had the bull child growing inside her. It was as equally striking and memorable as Tiberius and I particularly liked her skillful use of long pauses, shown here in her choice of line breaks and enjambment:

splitfish

Finally, Andrea Porter read from her book called House of the Deaf Man. I really liked how each poet had drawn on very different thing for inspiration: medieval writer, abandoned village, mythology and now the paintings of Goya.

‘Artist Tom de Freston and poet Andrea Porter explore the dark images Goya created on the walls of his house Quinta del Sordo (The House of the Deaf Man) in the last few years of his life. Using these paintings as a touchstone both artist and poet create a world in which Goya’s ‘Black Paintings’ provide a vital and significant link between the present and the past.’

Andrea was an extremely interesting person, I would have liked to chat to her and learn more about the paintings. Her introductions between the poems gave little glimpses into her own life experiences and  this was apparent in her poetry, which was very rich in variety, with subtle rhyme and rhythm, changes of pace and veered from the normal into the surreal world of Goya’s dark paintings. Very enjoyable and ended the event on a high note.