Archive for January, 2011


What is ANNOYING me this week?

Websites that do not show the full range of products that you can buy from their real shops.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The idea of running an International Poetry Film Festival in Polesworth.


The Best of Radiohead.


As I said in my last blog, last week was a busy week. It started on Tuesday with THE FIZZ my bi-monthly poetry and spoken word event at Polesworth. The guest poet was the excellent Sarah James who read from her collection “Into the Yell” followed by an open mic, where a wide range of poets read a diverse collection of poems, diverse in subject matter and style. The Secret Writer has written a review on her blog of the event. The next Fizz is on 22nd March when the guests will be The Lichfield Poets – one for the diary.

The writers groups on Wednesday and Thursday offered their usual open constructive critiques which have become a necessity in the development of our writing craft. Both the Mad Hatters Writers and the Runaway Writers are well established groups with members who offer their thoughts and opinions with a trust and understanding that often sees great debates on the nuance of poem or the outcome of a short story. These are delivered with benefiting the writer and the writer’s potential success in mind. We all do it for the benefit of each other.

The Mad Hatter Writers meet every other Wednesday at the Red Lion in Atherstone at 8:00pm the next meeting is on the 2nd Feb and the Runaway Writers meet every other Thursday at the Brewhouse in Burton-on-Trent at 7:00pm the next meeting is on the 3rd Feb. All writers over 16 are welcome to both.

Gary Carr’s excellent monthly Spoken Worlds took place at Rangemore House, Burton on Friday 21st January. There were no guest poets this month, although previous months have seen Sarah James and Rachel Pantechnicon both of whom were excellent. The evening gave me a chance to wear my new “Sgt Pepper” jacket resulting in no end of comment, which were added too when I performed my silent piece “20 Seconds”, a tribute to John Cage, there we murmurs that it was the best poem that I had ever written.

Take that you Napolionic fiend.

Poet in a Sharp jacket - Take that you Napolionic fiend.

The evening saw an eclectic mix of pathos and humour. With subjects ranging from The loss of a fire-fighter, the loneliness of an unloved child who never-the-less still loved the world, to sea gulls who seem to have lost their way now live in Burton, to a game of Bridge and the tale of a goat who ate a ladies underwear, all life was there in the words of the poets who read and performed.

The event, which takes place in “three halves” saw local poets and writers such as the marvellous Margaret Torr, whose story of the goat and the knickers is not only funny but well written as a series of letters between the various parties who become entangled in this love story, Margaret’s poem about the irritations of people who do not get on, delivered through the auspices of making tea was also a triumph.

The delightful Dea Costelloe wondered about seagulls that were so far from the sea and read her recently published article about learning shorthand and typing as a sixteen year old in Essex. Dea is not only able to craft together these studies of life and the world through her unique observation, she delivers them with a calming charm that has a hint of the mischievous.

Further performances came from the remarkable Rob Stevens (who runs the Word Wizard’s Poetry Slam in Buxton) who entertained us with his poems and a song. Rob is regular performer as the Spoken Worlds and in the past has given us a wonderful poem on learning about contraception with a parsnip and a song about cyclists blocking the Peak District roads on Sunday afternoons. 

The authentic Andy Biddulph who has a compelling ability to hold an audience with his poetic tales of a lonely childhood to being a cured diabetic, which were delivered with the gusto that has become Andy’s trademark style of delivery of these well crafted verses.

The terrific Terri and Ray Jolland delivered some wonderful pieces about characters such as Tugg and his pal, Terri and Ray have become a wonderful double act as well as producing individual well written pieces, Ray delivered a humorous piece on playing Bridge. At a previous Spoken Worlds, Terri and Ray delivered a sketch about a couple of ner-do-wells who want to steal a park bench and end up in the middle of drugs bust, which was a brilliant piece of writing, made even funnier by their comic timing. 

Topped off with pieces from our compere and organiser Gary Carr whose words always delight, intrigue and trip of his tongue with all the cleverness that one expects from such a great poet.  

Spoken Worlds is a great evening as you never know what to expect, with the mix of poetry, stories, songs and sketches, where normally quiet unassuming writers step into their performance roles, that creates a range of emotional waves that leave you thinking, laughing and longing for more.

The Spoken Worlds is a monthly event held on the Third Friday at 7:30pm at Rangemore House, Rangemore Street, Burton-upon-Trent, where all are welcome. The next is on the 18th February.

Enough of the personal alliterative adjectives, I look forward to what this week holds, it will be less busy and maybe I can put sometime into developing my collection of poems, now that I have a new concept and theme on which to glue them together.

I have added another blog to my list of those to follow, that of O’Bheal in Cork, which has some great reviews of the last Cork-Coventry literature exchange which saw Paul Casey, Billy Ramsell, Joe Horgan and Sue Cosgrave read at Polesworth last November.


The FIZZ 10 – which will take place in September, will be the last numbered FIZZ and to mark this milestone I am planning to hold the first Polesworth International Poetry Film Festival. I already have five films lined up with a further two in production and I am actively seeking permission to use a film from Ireland and another from the USA. Added to two Anglo/American films that I already have permission to show this will give us the truly international feel to the event.

If there are poets out there who already have poetry films that they would like to show at this event then please contact me at malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk. Films should be no longer that five minutes and full permissions must be obtained from the poets and film makers. Email me if you think you have something suitable and we can discuss including it in the September Fizz.

The next FIZZ is number 7 when we will have the Lichfield Poets reading from their latest anthology Battle Lines – on Tuesday 22nd March at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey.


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What is ANNOYING me this week?

 Companies who think my life can’t go on without me using their products.

 What is DELIGHTING me this week?

 My new Jacket in the Sgt Pepper style, bright Red with blue trim.


 “The Above Ground Sound” of Jake Holmes.


This week is a busy week, with The Fizz on Tuesday, Mad Hatters Writers on Wednesday, The Runaway Writers on Thursday and Gary Carr’s excellent Spoken Worlds in Burton on Friday. More of which I am sure will be in next weeks blog.

 Over the weekend, I finally managed to get my poetry film YELL! loaded up to YouTube – you can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3G3ErCV9V8  or follow the link from my Film Projects page on my website www.maldewhirst.com.

 The film which takes as its subject the crop oilseed rape, reflects on it’s brilliance during May with everything to do with Yellow and its awkwardness come June when the flowers die off and the pods are revealed. It was filmed last year in the fields around where I live on the borders of Staffordshire and Warwickshire and used the poem Yell! recited in the film, as its story board.

 My son Jimi, created the music for the film, which draws an audio atmosphere of brightness followed by disappointment. I am really pleased with his interpretation, which he pulled together from listening to my thoughts and viewing the film, to create his soundscape that really compliments the images and the poem.

Yell! was premiered at the Alrewas Film Festival, which is run by Peter Ralley. Peter has made a fantastic film on the History of the Polesworth Abbey Gatehouse, involving lots of local people dressing up and re-enacting scenes from Abbey life, in which I got to play John Donne, somewhat stumbling over his words, but then again who is to say that he didn’t splutter and stumble a bit. I had the honour of writing the script and learnt such a lot about film making from Peter to whom I am extremely grateful. The end result is excellent and well worth going to see if you are in the Polesworth area.

 Yell! was also shown at The Cork Poetry Film Festival which is run by my good friend Paul Casey. Paul has made a fantastic film based upon Ian Duhig’s poem the Lamas Hireling. Paul’s film is made up completely of still photographs, which were taken using the action mode on a digital camera and then sequenced during the edit. I still can’t work out how Paul not only captures the movement but also incorporates the camera panning across the landscape. It is a truly remarkable film that was shown at the Zebra Poetry film festival in Berlin last year. If you get a chance to see it then it really is something fantastic to experience.

Talking of Jimi and his music, he has been putting the finishing touches to my 50th Birthday present. He has created five ten minute pieces of music that reflect aspects of my life over the last fifty years, a sort of Bioconcerto, which he will render into one continuous track for the completed piece. I have already heard some of it and know the themes that he has chosen. It should be completed in the next couple of weeks and I can’t wait to listen to it in the car, where I listen to most of music these days.

It seems we are all blogging, well not all but some of my fellow writing friends have like me, started 2011 with a new blog. I have included a link to a fellow writer’s blog (see Friends Blogs). The Secret Writer, I won’t reveal her name as you can read her blog to get an understanding of why she is remaining anonymous. She is a really good friend and great writer. Someone worth following as she develops her novel.

 I have also added in some of the blogs of other writing friends that I have been following for some time, those of Jo Bell, The Bell Jar, Matt Merritt, PolyOlbion and Jane Holland’s Raw Light.


 The Polesworth Poets trail phase 2 – The second phase of the trail is currently under discussion following the offer to produce the sculptures from a local organisation. This being the most expensive part of the trail development means that even in these hard financial times the second phase along the canal and up into Pooley Country park is a reality. I will be running some workshops that will see the creation of the next ten poems. I will keep you posted with progress and opportunities, photos and videos as the project progresses.

So watch this space.

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Film Doings

10th Jan 2011.


What is ANNOYING me this week?

 Lack of Customer Service.

 What is DELIGHTING me this week?

 The arrival of the book – The Song at Your Backdoor by Joseph Horgan.


 The Best of Steve Winwood.


I spent last Saturday evening watching the DVD’s that I bought with gift vouchers from my Birthday. The films are not main stream and could even be considered cult films but they all were either inspirational, funny, thought provoking or just odd.

 The first

 Scenes of a Sexual Nature – Dir: Ed Blum

This is a mix of different scenarios played out in a park on one summer’s day, with couples sharing their attitudes to their relationships with sex underlying these relationships. Although there is no sex or even nudity, just a wonderful selection of sketches that as a writer provide a wonderful insight into the relationships of a diverse group of ordinary people. It is a funny, engaging and a well crafted piece of writing and film making.

The next was 

Le Bicyclettes de Belsize – Dir: Douglas Hickox

A bright musical about a boy on a bicycle who pursues a girl and sings as rides, it ends in the same London park as the first film I watched, except they were made 40 years apart. This film is funny, bright and very much of its time. The young girl, who follows the boy around on her bicycle, blowing raspberries, is really funny. I wonder what she is doing now.

This was followed by

The London Nobody Knows – Dir: Norman Cohen.

Another film made over 40 years ago, a dark film with some comic oddities especially around the egg smashing factory, which was odd in itself, I would never have thought there was such a business opportunity let alone tried to sell it as an idea to an investor. The film follows a worried and weary James Mason exploring London in decay, from the crumbling derelict theatre, to the roundhouse, to the egg breaking factory and finally talking to the residents of a Salvation Army hostel. This film was London on the bottom, the only way is up, Forty years later I am not sure we went the right way and James Mason’s worried weariness was exactly the right approach to this film. OK the dereliction has gone but with it the charms and the attitudes, which whilst they are not always worth maintaining we never seem to take the time to consider what we should seek to keep and what we should let go. We just seem to create buildings, systems, and ways of living without thought for the culture and conditions that will ensue or be lost.

The Last film I watched

Koyaanisqatsi – Life out of Balance – Dir: Godfrey Reggio.

Strangely I never set out to watch these films in this order; in fact I never perceived there were any links between them. Koyaanisqatsi, I first saw many years ago when Channel 4 showed some decent films.

It amplifies my concerns raised by the London film onto a global scale. Every city has been built without concern as to what we are losing, only to what we will gain and as such they are imperfect representations of the promised dream. This film is cinematic masterpiece and I purchased it as a film maker rather than as a poet, but the poetry of time lapsed imagery along with Philip Glass’ music left me wanting to slow down, take some time out, to gain a better understanding of what is important.

This brings me back to my delight of the week, because that is what Joe Horgan has done in his wonderful book. 

Don’t get me wrong I am not against progress, but I think the process of progressing is missing some steps; this is because it is often driven by financial gain. The bean counters don’t seem to recognise that there might be some adverse consequences. They don’t see that the dream landscape is not about the architecture but about the people and other animals and plants that live, work and play in these landscapes.


18th Jan – The Fizz 5 – Poetry and Spoken Word at Polesworth Abbey.

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