Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


What is ANNOYING me this week?

Ear ache

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A walk in the country


New York Bands



12th May – Century Theatre – Snibston Discovery Park, Coalville Leicestershire.

As I mentioned last week the Mars on the Rise is book launch is upon us, this is the first Steampunk novel by Rae Gee. The book explores dark themes, through the evil dealings of the company Veetu Industries, purveyors of SEX, DRUGS and STEAMPOWER. Not for the faint hearted but as
Jane Davitt said in her review for the US Launch:

“I was swept away by the story and brought into a world that’s brilliantly depicted in vivid detail.”

This novel is already number 54 on the German Gothic novel chart and number 38 on the German Gothic Romantic Novel chart, based on e-book downloads alone.

The run up to the launch has not been without its difficulties, with delays in the production and one of the bands having to pull out – but these have all been resolved in the main.

The Evening will feature the book launch with conversations with Rae, the showing of the Veetu Industries Commercial.

Plus performances from two great Steampunk bands and a Steampunk comedian.

The Cogkneys are a Derbyshire based Steampunk band and The Dark Design, who are coming all the way from Brighton to perform, describe themselves as Celtic, Steampunk, Victoriana band. They will be joined by the comic Count Rostov entertaining with his Steampunk wit.

I will reveal my alter-ego Sir Nigel Mallard as master of ceremonies.


Tickets are still available from Rae. – rae@glasscompletelyempty.co.uk

Links to websites
The Cogkneys – http://www.thecogkneys.co.uk/
The Dark Design – http://www.reverbnation.com/thedarkdesign
Count Rostov – http://www.countrostov.co.uk/

I will post photos and views on next weeks blog.


Last Tuesday saw Nightblue Fruit with a very accomplished reading from Sarah James and a bizarre reading from a student, Adele.
Gary Longen’s review can be found at http://behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices1.html#Blue_Fruit


As you are aware I recently started recording a series on the Lost Poets for Radio Wildfire, a few weeks ago I took the opportunity to interview the host and driving force behind this internet radio station, taking spoken word out to new listeners.

Dave Reeves at home behind the Mic.

MAL: Tell us a little bit about your background Dave, and how you came to be involved with Radio Wildfire?
DAVE: I’ve got a long history as a community publisher and writer and was editor/publisher of Raw Edge Magazine; the West Midlands based publication of new writing for 13 years until 2008. Radio Wildfire grew from a conversation between Vaughn Reeves and me late one evening when we were involved in the less sexy side of publishing (but a side crucial to the operation), stuffing envelopes with magazines. Basically we wondered why material that we were listening to at home was so hard to find on radio and, as with many projects, decided it was a case of – if no one else was doing it and we wanted to hear it, we’d have to do it ourselves.

MAL: Take us through how Radio Wildfire has developed?
DAVE: The original idea really began to take shape when Ali McK came onboard to help us make a pitch for some business help and at around the same time Ben Stanley got involved, taking charge of the technical side. It was Ali making us get the paperwork in order and Ben setting up the transmission side that moved us along.

MAL: Who do you have on your team to produce the programmes?
DAVE: The production is mainly done by Vaughn at the moment, with Ben working on programmes and projects when he is available. The setting up of The Loop is now Vaughn’s territory, as is the production side of the Live! show. Ali holds the back room together and deals with the production admin.

MAL: Tell us a bit about how you put the programmes together?
DAVE: The Radio Wildfire Live! show goes out on the first Monday of each month at 8.00pm, and is put together from tracks that people upload to the ‘Submit’ page of our website, tracks from cds that are posted to us, and interviews that are either conducted live in the studio or recorded the previous day. The Loop is then made up of tracks from the Live! show plus material from our ever-expanding archive of spoken word and music. All of the material that we use has to be the original copyright of the artist and not registered to any collecting body: so no cover versions.

MAL: Who do you see as your audience, where are they located and what are their interests?
DAVE: The audience is global, mainly in the English speaking world obviously, and predominantly from the UK. The longer that we are transmitting the further afield the material comes from. We have contributors in Canada and the US, but also get music tracks sent from Indonesia, for example.

As for their interests: I think an active interest in spoken word literature and literature with music is what they have in common – and we’ve got some great examples of extracts of novels read to live music as well as poetry and song. Plus short plays are becoming something of a feature at the moment, a development that we are really excited about. Although drama is a thread of material that we have been interested in from the very beginning the inclusion of it is audience led, by which I mean people have approached us with examples of their work rather than us going out to them.

MAL: Where do you get the material for the broadcasts?
DAVE: There are three main ways of collecting material: i) material that people upload to the ‘Submit’ page of our website; ii) work that is sent to us by post; iii) community projects that we undertake and which create content for transmission. Besides this there are of course the larger regular sections of our output which we create in-house.

MAL: How can people get new material to you?
DAVE: There are two ways of getting work to us, either through the ‘Submit’ page of the Radio Wildfire website, or through the post. The reason for the ‘Submit’ page is that it constructed so that you give us the right to transmit it by ticking a box and we don’t have to come back and ask if you own the work. This can be extremely important when people buy the rights to a piece of music and then include it in the track that they send to us, it let’s us know that we don’t have to get permission from elsewhere.

To send cds by post you just need to contact us through the website and we’ll send you a permissions form which has the postal address on. It’s crucial that people do it this way, please, as we need that permission form before we transmit anything.

MAL: Have there been any interesting incidents that you can tell us about, funny or otherwise?
DAVE: Interesting for us is probably the times there are three minutes to go before transmission of the Live! show and we find that we can’t get the software to transmit from the mics, but such things don’t make very interesting reading for anyone else. I guess the incidents that really stand out in the memory are novelist Jim Crace coming into the studio on a night that it was so cold that we all had our coats and gloves on and he and I started talking about Captain Beefheart rather than his writing; poet Julie Boden getting lost trying to find the studio and us hanging out of the window trying to guide her in with minutes to go before she was due to be on air; showing Jacqui Rowe’s etchings on Facebook at the same time she was reading the poems about them live from the studio; storyteller Clive Cole using models as props while he was telling a story live from the studio – just what you need as a listener, visual’s you can’t see (made me think of old radio shows with ventriloquists: anyone remember Educating Archie?); poet David Hart getting lost on the way to the studio (you’ll be getting the idea that the studio is well hidden); and us coming in to find the studio broken into and computer gear stolen just two weeks after we moved in to the new building: and this is why we now take care to ensure that we are so well hidden!

MAL: Where do you see Radio Wildfire heading in the future, are there any particular things you would like to be able to do?
DAVE: We are about to undertake our next live Outside Broadcast from Leamington Spa Heritage Festival. Two, two-hour transmissions from Gallery 150 on Saturday June 2nd will include a mix of new creative work and a series of vox pop interviews of people talking about things they have seen and done on that day. This is part of the work Radio Wildfire is undertaking in 2012 to celebrate 75 years of the Mass Observation movement. There’ll be opportunities to be included in the show and to interact with us as well, so do log on that day and join us. You can get more details by mailing us at listentoleam@gmail.com

The intention has always been to programme the station more but this takes time and money. We have been collecting material by doing field recordings at live events since we started operating and have hours of material that Vaughn is currently going back through as a preliminary to extending The Loop in the near future: an extension that has also seen your own The Lost Poets transmitted on a monthly basis.

What would we like to do? More. It’s as simple as that. We love working with recorded sound and to do more work with artists and communities is what Radio Wildfire is here for.

MAL: And for you personally what are your future projects?
DAVE: I’m currently performing a show based around my book and cd from Offa’s Press, Black Country Dialectics. I’m also rehearsing a new selection of spoken word and performance poetry with self-accompaniment on squeezebox and harmonica: something I last published on a cd titled poetryreeding. Another cd is being recorded under the title of The Devil Is In The Retail. The live shows use props as well as poetry and music: suitable for festivals, clubs, pubs and … well you get the picture. Thanks for asking.

Listen to Radio Wildfire at www.radiowildfire.com where The Loop plays 24 hours a day and the next LIVE SHOW is Monday 7th at 20:00.



15th May
Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – The second evening of this excellent event with several guest poets plus pre-booked open mic’ers. Gary Longden will no doubt be providing more details in the coming weeks.
15th May. I expect to see several of the poetry trail poets reading at this event.

18th May
Spoken Worlds – Burton’s premier Poetry event – it was excellent last Friday, where I played my sound poems as Poet as DJ – and got many positive comments. The next is on 18th May – 7:30 start Open mic plus real ale pub – The Old Cottage Tavern, Bykerley St, Burton-on-Trent.

22nd May
THE FIZZ – Bringing all thinks poetic back to Polesworth – Guest poet is Margaret Torr – plus open mic, refreshments available 7:30pm start – Polesworth Abbey Refectory – High St, Polesworth, North Warwickshire.


Readings in May

1st May – Nightblue Fruit – with Guest Poet Sarah James
12th May – Mars on the Rise Book Launch – Century Theatre, Coalville, Leicestershire.
15th May – Poetry Alight – Spark Café – Lichfield
18th May – Spoken Worlds – Burton on Trent
22nd May – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Margaret Torr.

June 6th, 7th and 8th – THE WALL – Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

TWO TYPES OF SHOPPERS – THE AIMLESS and THE FOCUSSED – both oblivious to the rest of us.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?






Well the Football season is nearly over and Tamworth are safe for another season in the Conference Premier. I must admit since I started following Tamworth some six or so years ago my interest in the teams across all the divisions has grown and I now take note of what is happening in the four divisions of the top flight as well as the Conference Premier, North and South.

Tamworth had a good start to the season but have struggled since Christmas. They can play some good football especially against the better teams, where they up their game and play to feet carving out openings that find results. They tend to be a bit chameleon like and let the opposing team set the play which they then copy and against the poor teams they revert to a long ball game which frustrates the fans as invariably they don’t win the balls in the air and the attack is cleared only to see our opponents nick a goal in the last few minutes.

This was clearly shown in the battle they put up against Everton at Goodison Park in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, losing 2-0 but getting high praise in the process, OK, we lost but then we were expected to lose, but in holding Everton the way that we did was a result in my book. Then weeks later we lost at home to Bath City who have not been off the bottom of the league for most of the season, we should have won that game easily. Focussing on the way our teams win is not the end of it, it is important to understand how our teams lose, especially when there is not the luxury of strength in depth. Still we can put that aside for another season, we are safe.

Whilst every Tamworth fan would like to see our team in the football league emulating our Staffordshire rivals Burton Albion, we have to accept that The Lamb ground would not really be up to league standards and as such if we did succeed in getting promoted we would struggle to rejuvenate the playing facilities and also pay the wages of the players required to make us a permanent fixture of the football league.

Tamworth have never over extended themselves financially and chased the unsustainable dream that so many clubs have in the past only to find themselves in liquidation and demoted beyond the Conference and in effect having to start again. Football clubs are businesses but they should never forget their core activity is the game, without the game the conference, hotel or what ever facilities they want to sell, are meaningless, the game is their unique selling point. They are just another offering in an already over crowded hospitality industry without it.

I don’t often talk about my footballing passion on this blog so that was my summary of a season on the Terraces or my view from THE SHED.


Last week saw another workshop at the Community Café this time in Amington where we explored the themes of Comfortably Numb and created a new sound poem. Some fantastic lines were generated by the small group who attended, including Chloe who as a 12 year old was not phased by writing lines of poetry and was by far the most prolific. It was interesting that her lines took the voice of the comforter, the adult caring voice. The sound poem brings this out and creates an interesting juxtaposition of voices with the her young voice expressing the voice of reason, this would not have been so immediate and obvious from a page poem.

The final workshop is this week at Belgrave when we will create the third piece.

I already have some great lines and recordings to be included in the final piece from all three workshops and I am really looking forward to the next workshop to gather some more.

Rehearsals for the show are also progressing and the difficulties of working with different groups of people, each playing their part but rehearsing separately, then all coming together for the performance, has raised some interesting challenges. Not that they cannot be overcome and this week will see the mapping of the show from the individual acting pieces that have already been blocked out, to the already choreographed dance pieces, to the band, to the choir, to the projections, to the lighting, to the props etc.

I am filming on Saturday, a well known Midland Poet, is coming along to read as a talking head – reciting his and others poetry which will be overlaid with archive footage to create a montage on themes suggested by the production. A chance to use my new studio backdrop kit and to play with lighting, the things that excite me, even when people give me those weird looks.

I am glad of the opportunity to work on a production on such a scale, in both bringing my experience and also adding to my learning at the same time.

Some events coming up.

Nightblue Fruit with one of the Polesworth Poets – Sarah James – 1st May – Taylor John’s House, The Canal Basin – Coventry – 8:00pm – Bar plus Open Mic.

Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – The second evening of this excellent event with several guest poets plus pre-booked open mic’ers. Gary Longden will no doubt be providing more details in the coming weeks.
15th May. I expect to see several of the poetry trail poets reading at this event.

Spoken Worlds

Spoken Worlds – Burton’s premier Poetry event – it was excellent last Friday, where I played my sound poems as Poet as DJ – and got many positive comments. The next is on 18th May – 7:30 start Open mic plus real ale pub – The Old Cottage Tavern, Bykerley St, Burton-on-Trent.

THE FIZZ – Bringing all thinks poetic back to Polesworth –22nd May- Guest poet is Margaret Torr – plus open mic, refreshments available 7:30pm start – Polesworth Abbey Refectory – High St, Polesworth, North Warwickshire.

John Donne – Good Friday 1613 – Riding Westward.

Several poets have suggested ideas for commorating the writing of this poem at its 400th aniversary next year, but I am still open to ideas – so please keep them coming.

The Lost poets will return in June.





Readings in May

1st May – Nightblue Fruit – with Guest Poet Sarah James
15th May – Poetry Alight – Spark Café – Lichfield
18th May – Spoken Worlds – Burton on Trent
22nd May – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Margaret Torr.

June 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th – THE WALL – Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Plenty of new poetry to read.


Some music that might appear in some films.


Last Saturday saw States of Independence book fair at De Montfort University in Leicester. This annual fair is a wonderful opportunity to meet with independent publishers. I always come away with a lot of books and poetry pamphlets and this year was no exception with many new collections of excellence. A harvest all carefully gathered in.

I have listed my highlights below, they are in the order that I spoke to them, so please don’t read any preferences into the order, they are all excellent and well worth checking out, their websites are all listed and you can buy books from them directly or at the events that they run, some of which I have also highlighted where I am aware of them.

Nine Arches Press.

At this years fair I met up with Jane Comane and Matt Nunn of Nine Arches Press who have been busy promoting their latest collections, including Moses Footprints the last collection from the late Milorad Krystanovich. It was launch in March and is fitting tribute to this great poet.

Also from Nine Arches is the debut collection from Phil Brown – Il Avilit which charges its way through the clamour and chaos of the prevailing world.

I also bought the intriguingly titled Mytton… Dyer… Billy Sweet Gibson… by Deborah Tyler-Bennett which dissects three lives with personal poetic portraits that bring to mind the focussed, unruly, unconventional and occasionally madness.

Other titles from Nine Arches that I also found to be an interesting, often amusing and always engaging are Planet Shaped Horse by Luke Kennard which is one of the best selling pamphlets in the Nine Arches catalogue. Also look out for All the rooms of Uncle’s Head by Tony Williams, the excellent Matt Merritt’s hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, Shod by Mark Goodwin, Matt Nunn’s Sounds in the Grass and Simon Turner’s Difficult Second Album, all I would recommend.

Not to forget Nine Arches magazine Under the Radar – the latest edition of February 2012 is also available.

http://www.ninearchespress.com/index.html  and also check out their blog http://ninearchespress.blogspot.co.uk/

Crystal Clear Creators.

I had a chat with Jonathan Taylor from Crystal Clear Creators who did a wonderful offer on six of their pamphlets which I was more than happy to take up having heard readings from a couple of the poets in the run up to the launch of these excellent collections. The covers of Crystal Clear Creators pamphlets are full of imagery that has nature theme reminiscent of Chinese artistry.

Gopagilla by Roy Marshall takes its name from a made up word from his son, this easy flowing lyrical collection breathes birdsong into an inherited presence. A pleasure to read.

Bleeds from American poet Charles G Lauder Jr, explores humanity through body parts, a story teller whose imagery and sharp interpretations are a carnival of emotions and relationships. Another excellent read.

The other pamphlets as yet un-read are Citizen Kaned by Andrew ‘Mulletproof’ Graves, Lost Lands by Aly Stoneman, Someone Else’s Photograph by Jessica Meyhew and a collection of short stories, Without Makeup and other stories by Hannah Stephens. All of which will no doubt prove to me as excellent as the two I already knew.


Nine Arches Press and Crystal Clear Creators jointly host the Shindig at the Western pub the next one being tonight, which may be too late a notice, but keep an eye on their websites and blogs for the next one, it is always an excellent evening of poetry in Leicester.

Flarestack Poets.

Jacqui Rowe and Meredith Andrea were promoting the Flarestack Poets, all of whom they are immensely proud and so they should be they have some excellent poets in their fold. They were really pleased to be promoting their latest collection Instinct by Joel Lane, which is a selection of erotic poems that has been twenty five years in the writing from Joel whose novels and short stories already make this journalist from Birmingham a fairly well known name this latest collection of poetry can only raise his profile as a writer of excellence even further.

Other collections from Flarestack poets include Wake by Cliff Forshaw, Selima Hills Advice on wearing Animal prints, Herb Robert by Laura Seymour and Incense by Claire Crowther.


Jacqui hosts Poetry Bites at The Kitchen Garden Café in Kings Heath, Birmingham the next being Tuesday 27th, this is a well established poetry event, which as those of you who have run events like this, know, they only survive on their reputation for delivering excellence.

Templar Poetry.

At the Templar poetry, I met Paul Maddern whose collection The Beachcomber’s Report was published last year. Paul is an Irish poet who created the Seamus Heaney Digital Archive an online resource for poets. Paul was guest poet at O’Bheal in Cork City last year a couple of weeks before I had the honour of being invited along as the guest poet. I bought Paul’s collection and he signed it for me.


Shearsman Books.

I also picked up a copy of interviews through time with Roy Fisher on the Shearsman books stall which I will read with interest.

Shearsman also have an interesting book on the work of the poet George Oppen – Speaking the Estranged by Michael Heller is a collection essays written over twenty five years. Might be worth a look for the lost poets’ series.


It was great to see Matt Merritt who like me was seeking out the latest poetic titles. I also met Tony Gutteridge from the Grace Dieu Writers where we discussed organising some more joint meetings between the writers groups. It was also good to see members of Leicester’s Writers Club whom the Runaway Writers’ met in the final of the Write off a couple of years ago.

Mal’s Miscellany.

Last week also saw me add to Mal’s Miscellany 2012 – last year I published my highlights of the year as the last post for December – I did however decide to do this at the time and therefore had not made a note throughout the year of things that I might include. This year I am noting the readings that most impress me, the books I find, the places I visit as the events occur. This will not only make the post a cut and paste job over the Christmas period, but will also mean I don’t miss giving credit where credit is due.

So keep writing and performing and you never know you may end up on my review of the year.

It never stops – but I am loving it.

This week sees me at film meeting in Derby on Tuesday, a workshop for the Wall project in Tamworth and a writer’s group meeting in Atherstone on Wednesday. On Thursday, Team Steampunk meets in Leicestershire to discuss the plans for the Mars on the Rise book launch, followed on Friday with Spoken Worlds in Burton on Trent.

Very Soon Events.

Also this week on Tuesday 20th March there is the Goblin Folk and Poetry club at the Giggling Goblin Café in Ashby, which unfortunately I can’t attend this month. Host – Bryan Langtry always welcomes new singers and poets to this free event.

As I have already mentioned it is Spoken Worlds in Burton on Friday at 7:30pm with Host Gary Carr – Open Mic with the usual 3 halves at this free event held in the Old Cottage Tavern in Bykerley St, Burton on Trent.

And don’t forget the FIZZ at Polesworth on Tuesday 27th with guest poet Barry Patterson plus open mic. At Polesworth Abbey, High St, Polesworth where I will be your host. This is also a free event.


Don’t forget you can hear my lost poets on Radio Wildfire – Michael Drayton is still on the loop and will be replaced in the next few days with my piece on Banjo Patterson.

I am researching a very interesting Chinese poet at the moment and will post another piece in the next couple of weeks.


Readings in March.

March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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Review of Poetry Alight at the Spark Café Lichfield on 28th February 2012.

Last night saw the first of an occasional series of Poetry events in Lichfield. The Lichfield Poets who are regular readers at poetry events across the Midlands held their own event at the Spark Café in the centre of this ancient city.

It was triumph of poetic endeavour that saw 25 poets read, including six guest poets with six minutes spots at the start and finish of each of the three halves (shades of Spoken Worlds here, three parts is perhaps better), mixed in with readers with three minute spots which in the main was respected to ensure that the evening kept to time.

Set in the surroundings of a modern but everyday café that has the comfort and intimacy that the corporate coffee chains lack. We saw readers and performers from across the Midlands and one from south Yorkshire, meet to explore themes of love, relationships, to making soup, praising the roll of the goalkeeper and an observation that rock and roll deaths are not what they used to be.

Host - Gary Longden in action

The evening was hosted by Gary Longden, who did an excellent job, as a natural raconteur with his poetry and imaginative introductions that whilst often full of humour, showing his high respect for his fellow poets as they took to the stage.


Jan Watts

The evenings performances featured three Birmingham Poet Laureates, including the current incumbent Jan Watts who started the evening with one of the six minute guest poet spots, with her take on pantomime, with a modern look at Sleeping Beauty which was delivered with a chorus of I am Sleeping Beauty in true Spartacus fashion from the audience. Her next poem was one of a memento from her Grandfather, through his Desert Spectacles and the wonder at what he saw through them, trying to capture an insight into a time of his life that he never discussed. She finished with a poem on the lure of reduced items in Sainsbury’s. She captured the audience with her mix of humour and thoughtfulness and set a high standard for the night.

Anthony Webster - Looking every bit the Poet that he is!

Jan was followed by the first of the Lichfield Poets, Anthony Webster, who looks like a poet should with his shoulder length hair and hint of a beard. His experience as an actor transferred to his delivery of a Love poem and appropriately for the surroundings a Cafeteria Encounter, these were delivered with a considered voice that resonated around our ears.

Next was one of the Polesworth Poets Trail poets, Penny Harper, who evoked the spirit of a dusty road in India as she travelled to a temple, capturing all the feelings and senses in her words that took you for short time to this sacred place. She followed this with a poem about the ritual and tranquillity of her husband making soup that showed an idyllic pace of life that we can all achieve if we just slow down and contemplate the pleasure of making something. Wonderful poems.

Val Thompson another of the Lichfield Poets, then explored a fascinating take on the poetry of creaks and bumps that permeate the house as pipes debate with radiators punctuated by the interjections of rafter creaks. She followed this with a piece on that time that is neither night nor day, 4:00 am as the dark shifts its curtain to introduce the dawn. Val finished with a poem called Gastric Tract that left the sufferer with pockets of pain to count the stars.

Last years Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy MacFarlane gave an excellent reading with an exploration of what freedom really is through the telling of the experience of Richard Prior at his first gig in Las Vegas where he literary took fright and ran away. He followed this with a tender Father and Daughter experience running through the rain, encouraging his daughter to keep going because they are nearly there, knowing that as a father this was a lesson for life, no matter what, you need to keep going because you are nearly there. This was a poignant piece and one of the readings of the night.
Roy finished with Poetry and Chocolate, how he needs both, with words that gave the listener the poetic experience of eating the finest, smoothest, richest delight.

Heather Fowler then explored an Organic Woman through her relationship with her mother and the experience of boxing up a lifetime of experience into the removal van with Job Spec. She finished with Perfect Sight that questioned what Her Majesty the Queen would think, should she visit one of her Prisons, all too good effect.

Charlie Jordan - Caring for Words

This section was finished with second guest poet and former Birmingham Poet Laureate Charlie Jordan whose well crafted clever poems delivered from memory captivated the audience as she explored through sonnets observing a lover shaving with all the tender expectation of young love. She followed this with a sonnet in praise Goalkeepers, empathising with their plight of being under appreciated when they save the shot and prevent the goal, to being the butt of criticism when the ball makes it into the back of the net. Her final poem delivered another of the performances of the night. The poem about words and taking care of our words, saw the audience hold its breath so as not to miss a single nuance of this skilfully crafted poem.


THE SECOND part was opened by Gary who settled the audience back to the poetry with his poem that suggested that Rock and Roll death’s are not what they once were, more purple hearse than purple haze and that it was what you achieved before you die rather than an MTV funeral that defined true musical legends. This was well delivered and very well received.

Gary then introduced the next guest poet, also from Birmingham and a fine poet she is too. Marcia Calame defines herself through her poems; she is the ink on the page that needs to be read. Her second poem Bric-a-Brac described the little shop of everything, where the price of goods was valued by the customers. This clever poem about doing, believing and getting your hands dirty; Taking hopes and smiles and creating your own bliss by putting your own value on things and not expecting to be fed your entertainment and opinions. Another performance of the night. She finished with My Anthem another defining poem with a rhythm that describes what drives her. She is someone I have not heard read before and will certainly try and catch again.

Marcia was followed by a performance from Ian Ward, another of the Lichfield Poets who often reads on the poetry circuit. He made the most of his three minutes through delivering poetry without the preamble, letting the poems speak for themselves, as he gave us his take on 9/11, our dance and life at the Borderline. I often see poets give two or three minutes of explanation and then deliver a sixty second poem and I admire Ian’s approach last night as he maintained our poetry listening ears throughout his spot.

Claire Corfield - Fighting off Wasps

Next came Poet and Actor, Claire Corfield, whose stage experience showed through her presence in engaging and audience with an Ode to Speedo’s and the unattractive look that men of a certain age use to haunt Mediterranean beaches. She followed this with the first of three references on the night that played some sort of homage to Dylan Thomas. Her poem about the death of wasps in pints of summer beer was a triumph bringing in the thoughts of Thomas’ famous villanelle and ending with lyrics of Vera Lynn. She finished with a character piece, in the persona of a titled lady who liked killing animals. Great poems and an accomplished performance.

We were delighted further with the work of the leader of the Lichfield Poets, Janet Jenkins, whose imagery in her art inspired poems captured the flow and swirl of dance in Dancing for Degas; she followed this with Behind the Mask, as the painting of model Lily Cole wearing a mask berates the viewer as a voyeur. Janet finished by giving the awkward shaped figure in a Modigliani painting a voice that expressed her discomfort and dismay of being the muse, whose likeness would forever be seen as distorted effigy. Janet is to be commended for her expressive thoughts transferred into poetry using the art gallery as her muse.

Janet Jenkins - Inspired by Art

Following Janet came the first of the Runaway Writers’ from Burton, Terri Jolland, gave us a thoughtful piece on some of unconventional nature of her mother through dress making, which was finished with describing thunder as her late mother riding a Harley Davidson across the clouds. She further delighted us with a new take on Gilbert and Sullivan and the Modern High executioner. Both well received by the appreciative audience.

Janet Smith whose Poetry Trail Poem is about an Owl, continued with the theme of birds through magpies with two poems that gathered together the wild landscape, of moorlands and breezes into word images that occupied our minds, taking the natural world and rippling it into our thoughts. She continued this with her third poem on Cracker Butterflies and their associations with hamadryads. Janet is a voice that can hold a room, suspending the moment into which she fills with her words.

Janet Smith with fine words

To close the second part the fourth of the guest poets David Calcutt, who gave another excellent reading, even though it was briefly interrupted by the departure of the knitting group who had been… knitting – I guess, in the room upstairs.

David started with a poem inspired by Bronte Country, written in and around Howarth. His second poem that came from his work with people with dementia. Through fading memory come the shaking hands, which his observations led to him questioning “What are these Restless Creatures. This was a moving piece that provides and insight in to a condition that is shunned in the fear that we may end up that way and don’t want to face it. David’s work in the area of Dementia can only help to break down these barriers.

David finished with two nature poems, The enchanted forest, which described the wonder of the forest and its destruction, was followed by one of my favourite of David’s poems The Day of Leaving, inspired by a trip to Laugharne (second Dylan Thomas reference) in South Wales and is the observation of curlews and the significance of them moving on in the cycle of the year, another memorable performance of the night.


I had the honour of being guest poet to open the THIRD part with a selection from my recent commissions. I was followed by a poet new to all of us, Sheffield Skinny Matt, who had, as his name suggests, travelled down from Sheffield. He is to be commended for travelling all that way to deliver just a single poem. His humorous take on Matching Cardigan Couples was witty and sharp in its observation. It would be good to hear more from Matt in the future and to give him a space to give more than this brief taste of his work.

Following Matt, came Ben McNair who gave use a thoughtful piece entitled – This is how if feels before the rain, followed by a cleverly crafted unapologetic poem A Warning, which was well delivered and much appreciated by the audience – it is one of those poems that you think – wow, why didn’t I think of doing that. Both are available on Ben’s recent Kindle E-book collection.

Our third homage to Dylan Thomas came from the hilarious poetic tales from Alan Wales, who read an instalment from his Under Deadwood, delivered in excited tones as if we were in Brown’s Hotel bar in Laugharne. Alan gave a voice to daily lives through double entendre and playful quip that left the audience rolling with laughter in the way that only Alan can.

Margaret Torr from the Burton Runaway Writers followed with a poem Swan –that she describes as a white warrior on the Trent. She continued with a poem on the closeness of a relationship that can still have its distances with Running Parallel. Margaret always captures the essence of a feeling in her work and then delivers it as an accomplished story teller who engages the audience with her words and accompanying movements as she brings the swan into the room and the breeze between the lovers.

Tom Wyre reading from Soliloquy

Tom Wyre read from his collection Soliloquy with his well crafted poems Joe Hamster about life on the treadmill and The Whalers Anthem, the latter he wrote as a young man, still has the freshness of his more recent work. Tom has a presence and voice to also hold an audience and last night was not exception. His collection is one that I would recommend, with all the proceeds going to charity.

The final guest poet was Gary Carr, fresh from his guest reading at the Fizz and hosting Spoken Worlds in Burton. Gary gave an assured performance of some of his best performance pieces. Starting with his take on performing in front of a Microphone and moving on to nature of a man as an octopus. His love letter to his daughter has all the tender, caring expression of a father’s joy in being a parent, which he admits took twenty years to write, but then he was being a dad and enjoying the moments that all dad’s should. His poem Fish captures the relationship between man and his landscape and sharing the world with all of nature. He finished with his wonderful poem Without you, where he finds his virginity hiding in a box under his bed and careful restores it safely so that he does not lose it again. Gary writes poems that work on many levels from the sometimes flippant outer level to deeper meanings that nestle in our thoughts of understanding the world. An excellent performance from a respected poet.

Gary Carr - finding his Virginity

With still a few minutes remaining there was time for three sixty second slots, which saw Marcus Taylor tell of how he is God’s gift to the women of Birmingham, Guy Jenkins give his vision of Industry and Brian Asbury read his poem using only words beginning with M with Mad Military Mishaps. All too great effect.

Poetry Alight was a terrific evening of poetry and long may it continue even as an occasional event. It is a welcome edition to the poetry calendar in a place where you would expect poetry events to happen. The Lichfield Poets are to be congratulated for organising and promoting this fabulous first event and especially Gary Longden whose hosting skills made the evening flow easily and provided for the relaxed enjoyment of poetry.

The next Poetry Alight will be on May 15th 2012 at the Spark Café, Tamworth St, Lichfield.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Not being able to match the widescreen aspect ratio of video with PowerPoint page sizes.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Someone’s Birthday last week.


Ma Vlast – Smetana.


Following my nominations for the Kreativ Blogger award last week, both Sarah James and Gary Longden have responded with randomness surrounding their lives which you can see on their blog posts using the links below.

Sarah James – http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=2476
Gary Longden – http://garylongden.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/kreativ-blogger-award/

I am now waiting for their nominees to post their own randomness and further nominees. I see this as a way to find some really interesting bloggers as the Kreativ Blogger Award baton gets passed on.

This last week has seen me complete the first draft version of the film Double Booked, which I will be showing to the Producer Keith Large next weekend. This has been a great project to raise my skills in film making and to learn how to get the best out of my editing software.

Something that I thought would be easier than it turned out, was pulling together some sound effects for the sound of a background party, that according to the script was “a group of undertakers raising the dead in room 25”. This line was added as we were filming in a social club on a Saturday evening and there was a good chance that we would pick up some sound from the bar downstairs. So it was easier to explain it away in the script rather than try to record around it.

As it happened on the night there was little or no sound to disrupt the filming and so I was left with a line in the script that needed to be explained with a sound effect.

Initially I had someone going WOOHOO followed by laughter, which Jimi had sourced from a SFX site on the week. This however did not work as the woohoo sounded like some lost bird flying around the hotel and took the viewers focus away from the main action and dialogue as they tried to figure out what on earth sound was.

The Woohoo has now been dropped to the cutting room floor and laughter and a little clapping has taken its place.

The problem with a background sound is putting it in the background, making it sound as if it is taking place in another part of the building, rather than being an immediate sound that is in the same room. It is not just a case of turning down the volume as this does not take it out of the room. Jimi has the knack of understanding sound and the way it is layered from distant to near sound, of how sound changes when heard from the space in which it occurs to being in a different space where there is a barrier in between the source of the sound and the listener.

In reality we filter out sound when we are listening, only taking in the necessary noise to enable our comprehension, so we don’t really listen, only taking on the immediacy of the sound of the situation.

With films it is all the sound we want to control and deliver for the listener to take in, we filter out un-required sound before we present it to the viewer/listener – but there is the art of understanding what they will further filter out from the soundtrack, which may mean they miss something that although in the background is significant to the piece and therefore impairs their understanding of the whole piece.

There will not doubt be more work to improve the piece once Keith has viewed it, but I do feel it is shaping up nicely.

I have a few meetings coming up in the next couple of weeks for three potential projects, which are exciting opportunities to work with different groups on the development of new poetry, through activities where poetry would not normally feature, bringing the experience of writing poems into new domains and to new audiences. I am really excited at the opportunities and the recognition that poetry can bring something new and dynamic to activities that have been well established and now want to find a new way of expressing themselves and to tap into the creativity of communities.

There are a few reading opportunities in the coming week:

The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club is tomorrow night (Tues 21st) hosted by Brian Langtry at the Giggling Goblin Café in Ashby De La Zouch starting at 8:00pm – A great mix of poetry and music from the floor; this has developed into a fantastic addition to the gig calendar in the Midlands. Licensed Bar and Free Entry.

Friday (24th) Sees the February Spoken Worlds in Burton on Trent at the Old Cottage Tavern in Bykerley St. Hosted by Gary Carr is starts at 7:30pm. The pub is a Real Ale pub and the event is free entry.

I will also mention that on Tuesday 28th Feb there is Poetry Alight at the Spark Café in Lichfield, I will put a reminder on next weeks blog.

My Lost Poet this week is a Canadian Modernist who was part of the Montreal Group. His poetry has been described as sometimes Metaphysical and at other times Imagist. It is his Nature poems that explore Canada’s landscape that interest me, his best known poem The Lonely Land was inspired by Frederick Varley’s painting Stormy Weather, at a Group of Seven exhibition in 1926, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My lost poet is A.J.M. Smith (1902 – 1980)

Arthur James Marshall Smith was born in Montreal and whilst I can find very little about his childhood, it is noted that he came to England to study from 1918-20 and it is during this period that he discovers the latest thinking in poetry that moves away from the Victorian poetic ideals and sees the rise of Modernism.

Modernism in Canada was virtually unknown at this time, the first Canadian Modernist collection was published by Arthur Stringer with his collection Open Water in 1914. This was hailed at the time as being the first free verse collection to come from a Canadian Poet, but was not linked to Modernism until much later.

When Smith returns to Montreal he enrolls at McGill University and by 1924 he is the co-editor and writer for the McGill Daily Literary Supplement, a year later he co-founds with F R Scott the McGill Fortnightly review. The Review attracts many young writers such as A M Klein, Leon Edel and Leo Kennedy, the group was to become the Montreal Group, who developed and promoted the ideals of modernism in a cultural background that was entrenched in Victorianism.

Smith’s poem the Lonely Land, written in 1929, was inspired by Varley’s painting. Varley was one of the Group of Seven Painters whose haunting landscapes with their distinctive visions capture the spirit of the place. The Canadian vast tracts of isolation, snow wastes and tortured forest. I had the pleasure of seeing these paintings at the Ottawa National Art Gallery in 2004 and have loved them ever since. They encapsulate as an artistic image, the genius loci, leaving you with the unnerving feelings of remoteness and disconnection.

Frederick Varley's Stormy Weather

Smith’s nature poems are most often described as being Imagist, taking the ethos of getting inside an object and sharing its uniqueness, internalizing to discover the spirit of the object, rather than the place in which it exists.
His poem – “To Hold a poem” is the first indication of this move towards internalizing his view point and much of his Nature poetry is concerned with experiencing the world through objects and the relationship to the other aspects of the landscape. This differs from the Metaphysical view which externalizes, making comparisons between the object in relation to other objects. Smith however wrote poetry that explored these different themes. He had studied the Metaphysical poets such as John Donne and his early work.

Smith in both his Imagist and Metaphysical poems seeks to put an order into things, whilst he describes the action, energies and forces at work in the landscapes, he is seeking to put the meaning and structure into these worlds. Smith to some extent goes beyond the theories of the Imagists, who see the role of the poet gaining an intellectual synergy with the object and describing what is found through the experience, but purely focusing the object. Smith goes beyond this and internalises thought.

Smith received his Doctorate from Edinburgh University in 1931. From 1936 he is promoting the poetry of other poets and is the co-editor of New Provinces an anthology of the Modernists.

It is at this time that he takes up the post of Professor at Michigan State College a position he held until his retirement in 1972. He became a naturalized American but spent his summers in Quebec. He was to become known as not just a poet but also a scholar who published many books and essays that brought Canadian Poetry to a wider audience.

He died in Michigan in November 1980. It was noted that he made a great contribution to the improvement of Canadian literacy.

Anne Compton’s Essays on A.J.M. Smith


Patterns for Poetry: Poetics in Seven Poems by A.J.M. Smith

Roderick Wilson Harvey Essay on A.J.M. Smith

“To Hold in a Poem”: Tension and Balance in A.J.M. Smith’s Verse

Michael Darlings Essay on A.J.M. Smith

A. J. M. Smith’s Revisions to His Poems

Ken Norris’ Essay on Canadian Modernism

The Beginnings of Canadian Modernism

The Group Of Seven – Links to websites on the Group of Seven Artists.




Readings in February

Feb 21st – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Feb 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
Feb 28th – Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield.

Readings in March.

March 6th – Night Blue Fruit – Coventry – Guest Poet Jan Watts.
March 17th – The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club – Ashby
March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The sound of TV Ads

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Some New Poems


Walkin Man – The best of Seasick Steve.


This last week has produced some new poems and seen the first recordings of my Lost Poets for Radio Wildfire and the continued work on editing Double Booked.

The poems are for a new production of Pink Floyd’s – The Wall which is being staged in Tamworth in June. The production is being developed as a collaboration of community groups and local theatre groups and will use the original material from Pink Floyd with additional material including some poetry from myself.

The poems are in the very early stages of development and I have put the first drafts out to some of my fellow poets for critique which has been fed back to me over the weekend and I will work upon further during the coming week.

Yesterday saw me battle through the snow to get to the old gun quarter of Birmingham, where Radio Wildfire have their studio. This was for the first recordings of my Lost Poets series that will be broadcast on this popular internet radio station over the coming months.

Birmingham's Gun Quarter

Owing to the snow I set out early and as luck would have it the roads were pretty clear with not much traffic and so I arrived early and was able to catch up with Gary Longden who was recording his Longden’s listings, the monthly list of poetry and spoken word gigs in the English Midlands. Birmingham Poet Laureate, Jan Watts was also there, recording her monthly laureate’s diary.

Radio Wildfire broadcasts live, once per month and then the broadcast is put onto a loop (normally two weeks after the live broadcast) making it available on line throughout the rest of the month.

The next live broadcast is tonight 6th Feb at 8:00 – 10:00pm (UK Time). Dave Reeves who is the mastermind behind Radio Wildfire is assisted by his son Vaughn who produces the show and manages all the recordings.

Radio Wildfire Production Team in Action

The show consists of a variety of poetry and music from all over the world, plus interviews with poets and writers that Dave conducts mainly in the studio although more and more he is getting out on the road, catching people at gigs and recording material for inclusion in the show.

My piece started with an interview with Dave where we discussed the progress on the poets trail, the Fizz and the idea behind the lost poets’ series that I started on this blog last year and to date have covered 28 poets. It was a much better, more relaxed interview than the last one I did with Dave a few years ago, before the first phase of the poets trail was completed. That had been live and I felt I stumbled over my words and did not put on a good show. I later realised that wearing headphones and hearing the interview in such an unfamiliar way, especially my own voice had been off putting which had only added to my nerves.

This time we were not live and I chose not to wear the headset and so it just became a natural conversation between Dave and myself – Of course I have not heard it back yet so I will be listening in tonight to see how I can improve.

Recording Lost Poets without the headphones

I went on to record two lost poets Michael Drayton and Banjo Patterson, one of which will be added to the post show broadcast and then the loop of tonight’s broadcast.

I will be returning to the studio next month to record some more and will continue to develop the series over the coming months.

I am also really pleased that the theme music to my Lost Poets’ series is one of my son Jimi’s compositions. Dave will also be playing some of the music that Jimi composed for my films Pollysworda and Yell.

I am also hoping to do an interview with Dave on Radio Wildfire to publish on this blog in the coming weeks.

Radio Wildfire is promoting writers and poets from all over the world and is well worth a listen.

You can listen in tonight at 8pm at http://radiowildfire.com/ or to the loop at anytime outside the live broadcast.

Night Blue Fruit returns tomorrow at Taylor John’s in the Canal Basin in Coventry. This spoken word evening has been running for about seven years now and has seen many great poets read there. It was started by Jonathan Morley and the Heaventree Press and is the link to Cork for the Coventry Cork literature exchange. It is led by Antony Owen and Barry Patterson, two great poets from the city who both have had excellent collections published in recent years.

Antony was guest poet at the Fizz last September, when he delivered a very well received set accompanied by an ambient soundtrack. It was one of the best Fizz events that we have had at Polesworth and I look forward to having him back with new set in the future.

Barry is the guest poet at the next Fizz in March. Barry is one of the Poets Trail poets, who always delivers an engaging set with all the skills of the natural story teller, his words and voice resonate a lasting ambience of Natures Mystic.

Both will no doubt be at Night Blue Fruit tomorrow and look out for the posters for the Fizz on this blog in the coming weeks.

I am continuing with the edit on Double Booked which is probably the most time consuming aspect of film making. The opening, establishing shots are done as a rough edit, visually I want to tighten them up and the sound needs to be mastered to achieve a smooth transition between shot locations. At the moment it sounds like the change from the film to the TV Ads, I never understand why the sound levels increase when the broadcast goes into the transition between programme and TV ad, (well I do really, they want to make sure we are awake when the ads come on) – it annoys me and I more likely to hit the mute button until the programme returns.

That aside – my film at the moment has the same sound transition, pitch and roll between scenes, so this needs to be fixed.

I am currently working on the main dialogue scene, cutting in close ups to the main dialogue – this at the moment involves a lot of viewing, looking at the main film and deciding where and when to put in close ups – some of it easy – especially for the longer speeches other areas are more difficult. What I don’t want to do is have it flicking around too much that the visuals take away from the excellent dialogue that was written by Keith Large.

Keith’s excellent Radio play Talkers and Doers – which stars David (Dai) Bradley, who played Billy Casper in the film Kes, will also be broadcast on Radio Wildfire during tonight’s broadcast. So another great reason to listen in.

More on my lost poets in a couple of weeks.


Readings in February

Feb 7th – Night Bluefruit – Coventry.
Feb 21st – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Feb 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
Feb 28th – Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The worry!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Padstow Christmas Festival.


The November Tracks – Hydranoid Musia.


Breakfast at Fifteen Cornwall

Last weekend was the annual trip to Padstow Christmas Festival, our weekend of fine food, beer and wine, along with a coastal walk and some shopping in the harbour towns of Cornwall. We bumped into Rick Stein wandering along the harbour front, who then skipping up an alley as the crowd shouted for him to sing along with the Voxpops choir. Dawn French, looking well and full of smiles was seen shopping in Fowey on Saturday Afternoon. Food was provided by Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, several of Rick Stein’s establishments including The St Petroc’s Bistro and his pub The Cornish Arms; all were excellent for both food and service.

We are already planning next year and there is talk of Breakfast at Hugo Wooley’s Woodlands Country Hotel and Dinner at Paul Ainsworth’s No 6.

Since my last blog I was delighted to hear from the editors of BE: Magazine who have accepted one of my Cork poems, The Grange Circle Bodhrani, which will be published in the next issue due out in February.

They have also set a theme for the third issue to be published in April 2012 so here is the advance notice to enable poets to write to meet the deadline of 20th January. I have included the text details below.

Worcestershire Literary Festival Be: magazine – issue 3 poetry theme

In addition to our constantly open poetry submissions, we have one poetry theme for the third print issue of Be: (due out early April 2012).

All poetry submissions should be 40 lines maximum and previously unpublished.
The usual submission guidelines and methods apply as can be found at: http://www.bemagazine.co.uk/submission-guidelines/

Theme: Myth and Fairytales

We want to read your poems inspired by Myth and Fairytale. Be: that a revised telling for today, or something new? From talking Greek to Olde English; Politically correct or dark-edged, from James Finn Garner to Angela Carter, or explore the inner-workings of this spell-binding subject, we look forward to reading your submissions. Set your imagination free.

We are open to submissions to the themed poetry slots until January 20 (Friday) – and if submitting for these, please mark your submission as themed Myth and Fairytale.


Paul Casey has published the review of this years Coventry – Cork Literature exchange, with the views of all those involved – you can read the review here. http://www.obheal.ie/blog/?page_id=1351

I also noted that O’Bheal will have Carol Ann Duffy with John Sampson as their guests next Monday 12th December, a real coup for Paul who always ends the year of readings with a major guest poet.

I look forward to being part of this exchange for many years to come.


Pots and Pipes - Dig the Abbey 2011

Last Tuesday saw the meeting of the Polesworth Society where Tim Upson-Smith the Community Archaeologist on Dig the Abbey came along to talk about this years dig. It was a fascinating talk describing what had been discovered and how it had been interpreted. Tim also focussed on the other activities that had been very much part of the Abbey Dig, the Big Draw which saw people sketching and painting the artefacts and the poetry written in response to the dig including my small collection Midland Purple and Janis Kind’s poem the Lady in the Cloister.

The Archaeological team are really enamoured by these activities, these are things that don’t normally happen on digs. Polesworth has re-defined the ideas around THE COMMUNITY and Archaeology. Over 150 local people volunteered to dig during the four weeks of the summer, here is a community that has a shared enthusiasm for the past and wants to be part of uncovering it and understanding it. The archaeologists have also come to realise that interpretations of the dig in terms of art works and poetry bring a different, equally valid thinking to how a site should be interpreted.

One of this years diggers had had a tee shirt printed which read “We are looking for the Warwickshire Hoard – Don’t tell the press” which to me brought in the fun and laughter that only comes where someone feels comfortable and an integral part of something. Polesworth has a wonderful habit of engaging imaginations and bringing in new creative ideas, redefining things because people are not afraid to have a go, are always happy to get involved, are never frightened to have their say.

Bids are underway for the funding of next years dig and I am already in discussions about how we can widen the Poetic aspect to the dig, which hopefully will provide opportunities for many poets to come along to the Abbey and engage with the dig to find new inspirations for poetry, whether actively in the trenches with a trowel, or through observation making notes with a pen.

I will of course keep you informed of the opportunities through this blog.

My Lost Poet for this week is the Cornish Poet JACK CLEMO (1916-1994).

Jack Clemo and Ruth Peaty

It seems appropriate having just spent a weekend in Cornwall to select a poet from the county. I could have chosen Charles Causley, a contemporary and friend of Jack Clemo, but I have chosen Jack for several reasons not least for his poetry. Jack is very much a poet of place writing about the China Clay landscape around St Austell where he grew up. He is also a poet who could be considered as one of THE GRAFT poets. Jack is also lesser known that Causley and therefore fits with the ethos of being a lost poet.

Reginald John (Jack) Clemo was born in Goonmarris in 1916, his father was a china clay worker who was killed in the first world war. He was raised by his mother an ardent non-conformist. He suffered from bouts of blindness throughout his childhood and was completely blind at 13 and by twenty he was almost completely deaf.

His poetry is heavily influenced by his strong religious beliefs and the rugged coastline and the clay lands of his native Cornwall. Poems capture the spirit and light of the Cornish landscape wrapped within the spiritual path that guided his life.

As a poet who writes about places, I often see myself as an outsider, a watcher, someone who seeks the spirit of the place without putting some of my own identity into words. This I realise is not realistic, as what I write is based upon my own experience of the place and my interpretations are based upon my experience of life.

Jack Clemo brings his religious outlook into the landscapes, styling them through his beliefs interpreting them as Christ’s country. His poems about the clay country sees the industry stripping back nature to extract the creamy china clays and then when the industry declines, nature reclaiming the land healing the scars, “The Clay Tip Worker” – this much like our experience at Pooley Country Park.

His first two collections of poetry “The Clay Verge” (1951) and “Map of Clay” (1961) reverberated with the stark clay landscapes, the tips and pools of the wheal prospects that now provide the backdrop for the Eden Project.

By contrast in later life Jack, visited northern Italy, which brought more warmth and colour into his writing published in “The Cured Arno”, still exploring his religious beliefs through the metaphors of an unfamiliar landscape.

Jack found love when he was in his fifties when he married Ruth Peaty, it is said his outlook changed, he became more playful and his wit shone through his writing, especially in the letters and cards he created for Ruth.

He was a Bard of Gorseth Kernow titled as the Poet of the Clay.

He died, aged 78 in Weymouth, the hometown of his late wife in 1994.

Links for Jack Clemo

Rescorla Festival – with some of Jack Clemo’s poetry.

The Bloodaxe Books – Author page


December Readings

6th Dec – Nightblue Fruit – Taylor John’s House – Coventry.
13th Dec – Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Giggling Goblin Café – Ashby de-la- Zouch.
27th Dec – Word Wizards – Buxton

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The shortness of weekends!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The run up to the FIZZ next week with guest poet – Antony Owen.


In the Shadow of Leaves – Mike Six


Last Friday saw me attend the daily meeting at the Polesworth Abbey Dig, this was one of the last meetings for this digging season as the trenches will be being closed down at I write. They will however be back next year for another summer dig at which I hope to get my hands dirty with a little bit of digging as part of the volunteer team.

The Trench in the Garden

Having attended only three of these sessions, this is my view and impressions on what was found and how it was interpreted; the official view will no doubt be published in due course.

Tim Upson-Smith, the community Archaeologist on the project has done a fantastic job of leading the daily briefing sessions which saw forty people turn up on Friday to hear how the dig had gone.

Starting in Fr Philip’s garden where a T shaped trench has been cut into the lawn. Looking for the Abbey Cloister which following the traditional layouts of Medieval Abbey’s was expected in this area in relation to the church. Despite a disappointing start as they dug through layers of demolition rubble from the post medieval period, when the Abbey was demolished and the better stone works were robbed out to create houses and garden walls in Polesworth. There was also the classic post hole which showed all the signs of being part of some ancient timber structure, for which Fr Philip produced the original post from within the shrubbery and explained that it was in fact the result of a totem pole which was part of a Native American festival, some twelve years ago.

Floor level with the layer of slag on the left

There was also a black slag layer, which was explained as being levelling material from the 1930’s when the vicar of the day was partial to a game of tennis and had the lawn levelled to make a tennis court. The slag most likely came from the local mining works.

By the final week of the dig all these diversions had been sorted out and the Archaeologists had dug down to the in-situ walls that formed the Cloister, which revealed that the Cloister was rectangular rather than a normal square – this was only by a few feet but nevertheless it was unusual. There was also evidence of the original floor of the Cloister with a single tile being found sitting at the correct level.

Under the floor level there was a burial, which had been disturbed in the past as the bones were collected together and lay next to the inner wall of the Cloister. It is thought that the De-Somerville family claimed this, the third most desirable spot to be buried. The Marmions having claimed the second near to the Chapter House and the first spot near to the Altar in the Abbey church being reserved for Holy worthies.

The bones were probably disturbed when the grave digger was lifting the floor for a subsequent burial and so gathered the bones and reburied them as a group rather than them being laid out in a traditional burial position.

We then moved into the next field where the archaeologists were looking for the Chapter House. The field which runs down to the river Anker was subject to open cast mining up until the 1960’s, especially down nearest to the river but the top of the field had been untouched by this and so there were two trenches cut into this that revealed walls of the possible Chapter house and also the infirmary, outside of this there were two burials one of a woman and the other a man, the latter of which only the legs were revealed.

The woman was laid out with her arms across her chest, as was tradition in a Christian most probably Catholic burial of the day. Her teeth are very well worn and show that she was of some great age when she died. Her diet would have included a large amount of grit that had the effect of grinding down the teeth. This was most likely the result of grinding flour, grit remnants were ever present in the bread used as part of the staple diet of the medieval times.

In the Chapter House trench there were the walls found, but there was also evidence that the site had been dugout to extract sand and gravel in the 17th Century, this was dated through clay pipes that were found in the backfill.

Archaeologists date things based upon the latest datable object that is found in the layers of the trenches. This is often difficult with objects such as coins, as these can be in circulation for a very long time. I remember that in the pre-decimalisation days of the late 1960’s that there will still Victorian pennies in circulation perhaps one hundred years after they were first minted. So Tim was delighted with clay pipes as they were very much of the time that they were made and used, like today’s cigarettes they were bought, smoked and then thrown away with in a matter of days or weeks.

Clay pipes can be dated from the size of the bowl; smaller ones are earlier as tobacco was expensive. These were also one of the first products to be given a makers mark and records of these makers and when they were making pipes can be checked. The pipes found indicated that the area where the sand and gravel were extracted was dug at around 1690.

We next moved out into the churchyard and the exploration of the mound. The mound in the churchyard was subject to Garrie Fletcher’s Poets Trail poem “God’s Dance within us”. Garrie’s poem explored the local myth that the Devil lived on top of the mound watching for the souls he could capture.

Further legends were voiced during the daily tours throughout the dig, with locals offering up thoughts as to what the mound was, these included: A Bronze Age burial site, a Saxon burial site. The last resting place of Boudicca – she was buried here because of the Abbey, (despite her death preceding the founding of an Abbey on the site by some 800 years.)

More practical ideas were that when the grave diggers dug the graves there was always a couple of barrow’s full of earth that would not go back into the grave, so these were dumped on the mound and over time this is how it grew. There is some evidence that this happened later, but if it was the complete story, would we not find these types of mounds in all churchyards?

Many locals were in two minds as to whether the mound should be explored as it would potentially destroy all the myths and legends and prove that the mound was in fact a rubble heap from the original Abbey.

Myths often grow around the feature in its current position in the landscape. Not that the mound has moved but the use of landscape around it has changed over time. It is first recorded on an 18th Century map and is in the garden of the manor house and not the churchyard. So it would not have started out as dumping ground for surplus grave soil.

The dig revealed that it was built up of stone rubble overlaid with earth and was most likely originally built as a vista point with a gazebo on the top from which the Lord and his guests could view and admire the layout of the formal gardens.

The Mound a Garden Feature

There is a fine preserved example of this type of mound with a gazebo, known as The Mount, at Boscobel House near Wolverhampton.

Link to the English Heritage site for Boscobel House.

Back in Polesworth, 19th Century documents show that the church purchasing the land around the mound to provide much needed ground for the extension of the churchyard, in the mid 1800’s around the time the current vicarage was built.

So there it is a garden feature built of earth and rubble, but that does not mean that the Devil does not live on the top, if you want to believe such things.

Myths and legends are after all, the archaeology of ancestral minds.

The final area of the tour was on the other side of the church near to the old stables. Here the team led by Mark had more walls than he could shake a stick at and I saw him try.

Mark with more walls than he can shake a stick at - but he is trying.

There are several walls but two down the middle of the site are the most striking. One is an older well made wall which has been cut into at an odd angle by a later less well made wall, which it is suggested is the foundation of later timber framed building. There is also a drainage system, which may have been part of the original building and was reused as part of the later timber built construction.

This, with a day and half to go, was still a mystery and it was felt that more exploration was needed during next summer’s dig, to get a better interpretation as to what activities have been the focus of this area of the site.

The Finds


It is here that I can use the word “Shards” without my fellow poets screaming cliché. Shards, the overused word that is mostly used by poets in the wrong context.

There was a mass of pottery shards from across the site covering many periods, styles and uses.

Finds included some pottery that was possibly from the Polesworth Pottery that once stood in Potters Lane. There was also some Nuneaton green glazed ware, most probably from the Kilns at Chilvers Coton.

Nuneaton Green Glaze - Probably made at Chilvers Coton

Midland Purple, a common hard fired pottery produced widely and in many forms from about 1450 to 1600 was also found on the site.

More information on Green glaze and Midland Purple ware can be found at the University of Leicester Archaeological Services website: http://www.le.ac.uk/ulas/services/ceramic_analysis.html

Other ceramic items included roof tiles and Tudor bricks – distinctive by their long, narrow profile.


Beer and wine stoneware bottles from Germany, known as Bartmann Jugs or Bellarmine Jugs. These jugs were etched with a face of a bearded man (hence Bartmann) and sometimes a seal or coat of arms. They were produced in mainland Europe in particular around Cologne, showing that Polesworth in the 17th Century had wider outlook than we would have perhaps presumed.


Bones were another feature and not the human kind. Remains of animals including pigs, cattle and chickens, which were most likely the remnants of the many dinners and feasts that the Abbey was to host in the times of the Gooderes and later the Nethersoles.

There was also almost the full remains of a horses leg – which was given the name Shergar (I bet archaeologists all over Britain call equine remains, Shergar), although where the rest of it is, remains to be found. I must add that there was no suggestion that the horse was consumed as part of a feast, indeed horses are still very much part of the Polesworth site, in the fields next to the Abbey.


And to Tim’s animated delight – Clay pipes in abundance, many datable. The pipes most likely came from Broseley in Shropshire (at the heart of the birth of industry), where pipes were made as far back as 1590 and as recently as 1957.
See Tim talking about them here:

Clay pipes

I hasten to add that my interest in the paraphernalia of tobacco smoking is not in anyway an endorsement of such practices.


Further links.

Polesworth Abbey Website for the Dig

Dig the Abbey YouTube Channel links:
You can see the video footage by Peter Rally of this seasons dig at:

Plus some animations of how the Abbey may have looked

Photos from the Dig:



September Readings

16th Sept – SPOKEN WORLDS – Burton on Trent.
20th Sept – THE FIZZ at Polesworth
24th Sept – 100000 Poets for Change – venue TBA
30th Sept – Launch of Sculpture on the Mound at Pooley Country Park.
(I will be reading Bernadette O’Dwyer’s Poem Jutt)

Some advance dates for October

4th October Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry.
Guest Poets Janet Smith and David Calcutt.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Predictive web browsers that won’t let you finish typing your search criteria, before they offer you something that you don’t want.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

East Wittering


Beale Street Blues – Sun Records Recordings


The words settled and found me tired and caught up in other things, which meant that I sadly did not make Poetry Bites in Birmingham last week.

By the Friday I was ready for a break and so we headed down to Southampton to stay with family. It was a wonderful weekend away from the pressures. We spent a lot of time on the beach at East Wittering, which has now seen me glowing like the winning crustacean at a Lobster Fest. As I walk down the road cars stop and wait for me to turn green.

My thoughts this week turn to my trip to Eire as part of the Cork-Coventry literature exchange. I will fly out next Monday morning for three days of readings in Cork and Limerick and no doubt a fair amount of stout and cider.

The Cork-Coventry literature exchange has been running for many years and came out of the town twinning initiatives, that sees poets from both cities visiting to read and perform, share ideas and make new friendships. It is co-ordinated by Night Blue Fruit/ Heaventree in Coventry and O’Bheal in Cork. I am really honoured to be part of it and to get a chance to meet up with the friends, Paul Casey, Billy Ramsell, Sue Cosgrave and Joe Horgan who came to Coventry last year and were able to perform at Polesworth.

The Cork poets will return to Coventry at the beginning of November and I hope to be able to host them again at Polesworth and maybe to be able to show them the rest of the Poetry Trail.

Eire has a deep tradition of poetry as well as music and dance. Poetry is part of the Irish culture, it is respected and admired, it is a recognised feature in peoples lives far more than those of us from England. I hope to explore the reasons for this whilst I am over there.

I will share my adventures in Eire in my blog in a couple of week’s time; I am hoping to get some ideas for a series of poems that give you my impression of the spirit of the place.

Tonight sees the latest broadcast from Radio Wildfire, or should that be “hears the latest broadcast.” Dave Reeves the man behind the West Midlands premier spoken word radio station available on the net, tells me he will be doing a feature on the Great West Midlands Poetry Relay. Dave was one of my fellow poets on the journey and he plans to feature recordings of some of the poems. I am not sure whether mine will be included, as I only got the recording to him late last night but it will be well worth a listen in any case.

The show is on at http://www.radiowildfire.com/ at 20:00-22:00 UK Time tonight after that it will be on the loop which will be available for the following month until the next broadcast.

There is to be an archaeological dig at Polesworth Abbey.


Those who know me really well, will know that when I was at school I wanted to be an archaeologist and indeed during the hot summer of 1976, I spent a month on the Mucking Hillside, near to Stamford-le-Hope in Essex pursuing this great ambition. Working under the guidance of renowned Archaeologist, Dr M.U.Jones.


However despite this teenage enthusiasm, my career in ruins never materialised.

So I was delighted to learn that during in August there will be an Archaeological excavation taking place at Polesworth Abbey. Following on from a pilot dig that was performed last year, which revealed more of the foundations of the Abbey, it is proposed to do some further excavations during this summer and next.

I can’t take part in this years dig, unfortunately, as I have prior commitments, but I will certainly take part in the afternoon sessions where the archaeologists discuss what they have found and the significance of it all.

There is also a plan to put a test trench into the mound in the churchyard. The mound is steeped with myth and legend and no one really knows whether; it is a Bronze Age burial mound or just the remains of some of the rubble left when the abbey was demolished in the 16th century. So that just adds to the excitement for me, although I think some might want to leave it as it is and keep the legends alive.

I will certainly find out my trowel and plan some time for the dig next year, but this year I may just write some archaeological poetry.

The dig runs from 8th August to 10th September – Monday to Saturday inclusive.
If people want to take part then see the details on the poster.

My Lost poet for this week is Else Lasker-Schüler (1869 –1945).


Else was a German Jewish poet who lived a bohemian lifestyle in Berlin and is one of the few women poets who are considered as part of the expressionist movement.

She was born Else Schüler in Elberfeld in 1869, her father was a banker and her mother Jeanette was the main inspiration for her poetry. In 1894 she married Jonathan Berthold Lasker and moved with him to Berlin. Here she initially trained as an artist, but it was her literary works that saw he brought into the public consciousness with her first poems published in 1899 followed by the first full collection, Styx, in 1902.

The majority of her poems concentrate on the themes of love, but also brings in religious imagery, she moves between the two themes with an easy flowing transition. She was not hampered by poetic structures and is often free of the influence of poetic forms, which gives an inner more concentrated expression of her themes. She was not averse to expressing the voice and words that were specific to the person, capturing the voices of her time.

By 1903 her marriage to Lasker had failed and she divorced him. She married George Lewin and coined his pseudonym Herwarth Walden. By 1910 she was divorced again, but had continued to write both poetry and plays. He most important play Die Wupper was published in 1909, her mother being the main character. It was first performed in 1919.

After the breakup of her marriage with Lewin, she found her self penniless and relied on the financial support of friends such as Karl Kraus. She developed a deep friendship with Gottfried Benn, which saw its intensity delivered in a series of love poems dedicated to him.

In 1927 her son, Paul, with Lasker, died and this left her with a deep depression. This was further compounded by the rise of the Nazi’s which left her unable to continue to work in Germany, she fled to Zurich but was unable to settle here and by 1937 she had settled in Jerusalem, where she died of a heart attack in 1945, she was buried on the Mount of Olives.

She is commemorated both in Berlin and Jerusalem.

Her poem Ein alter Tibetteppich or The Old Tibetan Rug, is a good example of her poetry, it was this poem that provided me with the appreciation and connection with her work. My poem The Melding, which has been read at several weddings, uses the theme of a Celtic Love knot and that the strands represent the bride and the groom, woven together by marriage.

Else’s poem explores the same themes, not necessarily a marriage, but sees the lovers as threads woven together into a Tibetan rug. I was not aware of Else poem when I wrote mine, I have, however wondered at the affinity of thought.

Project Arts page for Else.

Some of her poems in German with English Translations.

Readings in August.
2nd August – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s – Coventry.
8th August – O’Bheal – Cork – Ireland. http://www.obheal.ie/blog/?page_id=19#8thAugust
10th August – The Whitehouse – Limerick – Ireland.
19th August – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Traffic lights – everyone of them seems to hold me up.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Elford Ale and Folk Festival.


Mirage – Camel


My post this week has been prepared on Sunday; this is due to a very busy week ahead.

Starting on Tuesday – when I will be M.C. at THE FIZZ at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey when I will be introducing the wonderful Leicester Poet Matt Merritt reading from his latest collection Hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica published by Nine Arches Press. Matt is a wild life journalist and this is a major inspiration in his poetry.

Matt has been a great promoter of Polesworth as a fan of Michael Drayton, Matt’s blog is at http://polyolbion.blogspot.com, taking its name from Drayton’s great work of the same name.

Please do try and come along.

Wednesday sees the Mad Hatters Writers in Atherstone and Thursday sees me attending The Runaway writers in Burton.

Friday is Spoken Worlds in Burton – it was not last Friday as I had first thought – good job I found out before turning up. So I will be at the Old Cottage Tavern in Burton, where they serve some fine real ales and once a month Gary Carr delivers Spoken Worlds, a mix of Poetry, Theatre in an event with its now famous “three halves” – I will probably give my Nuneaton Poems as second airing.

SATURDAY is the GREAT WEST MIDLANDS POETRY RELAY, which will see ten poets of which I am honoured to be one of them, travelling around the Midlands writing poetry in a relay race with one poet passing the baton to the next poet who will add the next part of the poem.

The relay starts in Stoke on Trent and then on to Burton On Trent, The next stop is Polesworth where I will take the baton before I pass it on at Hatton Country world, following with Worcester/Droitwich, Malvern Hills, Bromyard, Highley, Telford and finishing in Stafford. The Poets will travel on a minibus being collected as they take the baton, The poem will be read at each of the locations as it grows on it journey around the Midlands.

The ten parts of the poem will be attached to ten pigeons from the Birmingham Pigeon Project and released in Stafford, back to the loft in Birmingham, the final order of the poem being decided by the order in which the pigeons arrive back at the loft.

The event is part of a series of events organised in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

I am really excited about taking part in this journey, meeting and working with the other poets, which at the time of writing I do not know who they are, which makes in even more intriguing and of course the final order that the pigeons bring in the poem.

I will write more on the blog next week about the experience.

For more information of times and destinations then check out the following website and if you can be in any other locations to hear the poem being read then please do turn up to be part of the audience at these unique poetry readings in these unusual poetic places.


My lost poet this week is a Bush Poet from Australia.

Most people’s experience of Bush Poetry is the song Waltzing Matilda, with its tale of the bushman brewing his tea, when a sheep appears, which he takes to eat only to be caught by the owners and three policeman and it ends with the bushman committing suicide and forever haunting the place, it was written as a poem by Banjo Paterson in the 1890’s and later put to music to become an unofficial anthem of Australia and all things Australian.

It seems strange that such a sad tale should come to be a representative identity of a nation; it’s maybe the way that singers seem to perform it in such a jaunty almost comic way.

It does however have a myriad of words that are quintessentially Australian, Swagman, Billabong, Billy, Coolibah Tree, Jumbuck and Tucker and even the title Waltzing Matilda, which is slang for walking on foot (Waltzing) with a bag on your back (A matilda), or dancing across the country with your bag as your partner.

Which makes sense of some of my parents sayings (although they were English), instead of asking where I was going, I was more likely to be asked where I was waltzing off too.

Bush poetry is full of these types of rhythmic poetic words, that are poetry in there own right without any need to put metaphor, simile, alliteration or any of the other poetic devices around them.

The origins of Bush Poetry is as an expression of everything Australian – the landscape, the language, the cultural identity coming from poets who lived in a nation defining its identity.

It is a very definitive poetry of a specific place, the spirit of which is encapsulated in the words and slang, which reveal the cultural motivations of the people. If I were to use these words to describe Warwickshire, they would just not work.

Banjo Paterson was born Andrew Barton Paterson in 1864 in New South Wales, growing up on remote farmsteads in the outback, surrounded by wide open spaces where horses were the main form of transport, this was to become much of the themes of his poetry which he wrote from the city, where he was a lawyer.

He was educated firstly by a governess and then when he had learnt to ride a horse at a bush school. Later he attended the Sydney Grammar School where he excelled in his studies and as a sportsman. From here he became and articled clerk as firm of solicitors and by 1886 was admitted as a qualified solicitor.

In 1885, he started submitting poetry to the Sydney edition of the Bulletin under the pseudonym of The Banjo after one of his favourite horses. In 1890 he wrote one of his best known works The Man from the Snowy River, which was taken to heart by the nation, this was followed by a collection under the same name.

He became a war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age during the first Boar war which saw him sail for South Africa; on his return in 1903 he married Alice Walker, with whom he had two children. It was in this period that he published a collection of Old Bush Songs in 1905.

During the 1st World War he failed to obtain the position of a war correspondent and instead volunteered as an Ambulance driver, serving in France where he was injured and for a time reported missing. Later in the war he was stationed in Cairo, Egypt. When he was discharged from the Army in 1919 he had attained the rank of Major.

On his return to Australia his third collection, Saltbush Bill JP was published and he continued to write articles for the Truth and the Sydney Sportsman into the 1920’s

He died of a heart attack in 1941 and it has been said that in his lifetime he was second only to Kipling as the most popular poet writing in English.

A part from Waltzing Matilda and The Man from the Snowy River, his other notable poem is Clancy of the Overflow.

I am discussing the work of Banjo Paterson as a way of introducing Bush Poetry, as he wrote a piece that has a more global recognition. Other worthy poets who are from the Bush Poetry school are; Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968) key works – My Country; and Henry Lawson (1867-1922) Key works – Freedom on a Wallaby, The City Bushman and Up the Country.

I chose Bush Poetry for a couple of reasons, the first being that it is poetry of place, full of the spirit of the place, which is of particular interest to me for the themes for my own poems. I also chose them because the Australian Bush Poets Association (ABPA) is based in Tamworth, New South Wales, which is also close to my heart as I live in Tamworth Staffordshire.

ABPA continue the traditions of Bush Poetry, through promoting poets such as Banjo Paterson, but also in developing new voices of the modernist Bush Poets.

Here are some links for the Bush Poets.

The Australian Bush Poets Association

The Man from the Snowy River – By Banjo Paterson.

Banjo Paterson’s biography at all down under.

Website for Dorethea Mackellar

Biography for Henry Lawson


Readings in July.
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.
22nd July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

In August.
2nd August – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s – Coventry.
8th August – O’Bheal – Cork – Ireland.
10th August – The Whitehouse – Limerick – Ireland.
19th August – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

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