Archive for February, 2012

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?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Weather


Clocks – Paul Brett.


Last week saw a very successful meeting on a potential future project, which if the funding bid is successful could see a wonderful opportunity for poets to engage with the community both past and present. I am excited at the possibility of leading this project and exploring further the work I did last year using similar themes and poetic techniques to shine new light and interpretations on spirit of the place both now and in its ancient past. I will keep you notified through this blog once the details have been finalised and we can officially launch the project.

I have further meeting this Friday on another potential gem, which I started through discussions on this blog, which has also been received with a lot of positivity and enthusiasm. Largely due I am told because I offered a solution rather than just moaned that some one else was not doing anything. Again I will let you know more detail when it is appropriate to do so.

Folk Songs in Ashby

Last week also saw two readings, the first on Tuesday at the Goblin Poetry and Folk Club in Ashby, which is gathering in popularity and saw a mix of poets and singers delivering some excellent performances. There were eighteen in all who signed up to perform for their five minutes, exploring themes from Mining to Cotton Mills, this really is a great event for GRAFT poetry and folk song.

Friday saw Gary Carr’s Spoken Worlds in Burton on Trent, where I aired for the first time one of my Wall poems, which received a very kind review from Gary Longden on Behind the Arras. I am not sure I am setting out to re-write the words to Pink Floyd’s album, as Gary suggests, I think I am more taking the themes and writing my own interpretation. However I can see how the results could be seen as re-writing the lyrics and I was delighted that Gary felt I had done a good job on the poem The Thin Ice.

I was also interested in Gary’s take on lyricists as poets, as this is something that I have thought about myself. The obvious names come to mind, Dylan, Cohen, Lennon, Ray Davies and Morrissey in addition to the list that Gary includes in his review. For me Sid Barrett was the poet in Pink Floyd and there is a marked difference in the poetry of A Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which most Pink Floyd tribute bands avoid performing out of respect for Sid, to the later works of the Floyd including their major work Dark Side of the Moon. There is no doubt that Pink Floyd were/are some of the greatest musicians and innovators with their progressive sound and ambient lightshows, but when they decided not to pick Sid up for a gig, that was the day they lost the real poetic contribution to their work. It was a decision they took that saw them move forward to create all of the great music we know them for and craved to see when they re-emerged to perform at Live 8.

I love Pink Floyd, they take me into dreamscapes that no other band ever can, but I am always found wanting from the lyrical quality of their work post Sid Barrett and I do wonder if we would be talking about Dark Side of the Moon being the greatest album ever written if Sid had written the lyrics; and whether I would ever emerge from those dreamscapes if he had.

You can read Gary’s review at http://www.behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices.html#Worldsfeb

My work on Double Booked, has continued over the weekend, with a review with producer, Keith Large, and a series of changes have been identified that need to be made to sharpen it up, I will be working on this in the coming week and I am really enjoying the challenges that are being thrown at me.

I also managed to overcome my annoyance of last week and to match the aspect ration of the video to a PowerPoint page layout – this I was able to create and manipulate JPEG files to be included in the film. My abilities as a Digital Compositor are limited to working on still images and whilst many professionals out there might snigger at my use of PowerPoint, rather than Photoshop (as a minimum surely) – I am using what I know and pushing it to its limits before moving into other software. I sometimes think we don’t get the most out of the tools that are available to us, that we don’t push them to their limits before making the step up to the next level. I would rather make a good job with a basic tool than a bad one with a complex one.

On Radio Wildfire the loop went live last week and includes my interview and the first of my lost poets along with the following listings that I received from Dave Reeves.

The Loop brings you a radio play with Talkers and Doers by Keith Large, which features BAFTA winning actor David ‘Dai’ Bradley (Billy Caper in Kes) in the lead role.

The Loop brings you an intriguing Memoir piece with Jill Tromans’ account of her family connection to Buffalo Bill’s Wollaston Visit.

The Loop brings you Poetry and spoken word with music and soundscape from Victoria Field, Alison Boston, Angela France and Paul Lester.

The Loop brings you Poetry from Julie Boden, Heather Wastie, Dave Reeves, the late Geoff Stevens.

There’s Song from Sally Crabtree and Michael W. Thomas …

…and The Loop brings you Ambient Music with Jimi Dewhirst.

PLUS: Irons In The Fire: Jan Watts’ Laureate’s Diary – the monthly diary from Birmingham’s Poet Laureate

AND there’s Gary Longden’s Listings, in this month’s show Gary looks back at the year and lists some of his favorite events, venues and poets – check it out you might just be featured!

So join us and listen by going to www.radiowildfire.com  and clicking on The Loop

This week sees Poetry Alight at the Spark Café, this is the first for this poetry event in Lichfield, which may not become a regular event, but promises to bring together some of the best poetry from around the Midlands to a city that has thriving poetry community. It is hosted by The Lichfield Poets who are very active not only as individuals on the poetry scene but also as a group whose interpretations are performed for the festivals that keep the traditions of this ancient city alive.

I was honoured to host them at the Fizz last year when they read from their war anthology Battle Lines. The Lichfield Mystery plays and the Arts festivals would be lacking without their performances.

Poetry Alight brings the poetic voices from across the region into their hometown, something that is long over due as we see the Lichfield Poets travelling across the Midlands to our events.

Poetry Alight is at the Spark Cafe – Lichfield on Tuesday 28th Feb.

Another Lost Poet next week.


Readings in February

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?

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 COLD wind.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Edit.


Exile on Main St – Rolling Stones.



I have been awarded a KREATIVE BLOGGER AWARD by my friend and fellow writer Maria Smith, whose excellent blog First Draft Café describes her goals and thoughts as a dedicated writer practicing her craft. Maria also has written some really informative articles that are of interest to all writers. First Draft Café is a blog that I would recommend all writers follow.

You can access it here http://firstdraftcafe.blogspot.com/

So as part of the conditions of the award I have to reveal half a dozen random facts about myself that are not widely known.

1. My first published poem was “What Lurks in the Tunnel” – aged 11.

The Poet at the start of his career - it would be another 5 years before he is published

2. During the 1970’s I played rhythm guitar in the rock bands, Apollo, High Mileage and Strange Beings, I was not a good guitar player but I could write lyrics so my lack of technique was tolerated for my words.

The Poet on the right - tolerated for his words rather than his axe work.

3. I like to be beside the sea, but I am not a strong swimmer.

The Sea

4. The book that I have re-read more than any other is The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.

My well read copy


5.   I once performed Irish Dancing in the Shenanigans Bar in Munich.

You would not want to see the poet dance!


6. I like to drink Newcastle Brown Ale.

The Poet's tipple

And now I must pass the award forward. So Sarah James, Bernadette O’Dwyer and Gary Longden, please take the award, and share your randomness with us. Apologies if you’ve received it before, or if you do not wish to take it forward, do not feel obliged to share again, or at all. Unless you want to of course (photos are optional). If you do take part, then please, do let me know when you have posted so I can catch up with you.

Last week saw me rushing around as seems to be the case these days.

Monday saw me listening in to the Radio Wildfire broadcast and what an excellent show it was with a mix of music, poetry, plays and a monologue. I was pleased with my interview which was far more relaxed than my previous experience on the show – the nervous broadcast of my first lost poet Michael Drayton was also included.

Tuesday saw the return of Night Blue Fruit in Coventry, which saw some excellent readings of new poems from Janet Smith, Antony Owen and Barry Patterson plus some new voices who brought some brilliant performances to the evening. The next Night Blue Fruit is on March 6th with Birmingham Poet Laureate Jan Watts as the guest poet.

Janet Smith – Barry Patterson – Antony Owen – Three great performances at Night Blue Fruit


Wednesday saw the Mad Hatters Writers meeting in Atherstone, which saw a mix of poems, from Charles, Gina and Myself, a short story from Janis and chapter from Alex Simpson’s excellent autobiography.

Thursday and I was out again this time in Hinckley for a meeting with Team Steampunk to discuss the plans and progress of the book launch of Mars on the Rise by Rae Gee, which will take place on May 12 at the Century Theatre in Snibston.

The Mars on the Rise 100 is growing but there is still time for you to sign up to sponsor the event, for the sum of £20 you will get a invite to the launch for you and guest, a signed copy of the book with a pack of steampunk related items plus the launch with two live bands – not to be missed contact me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk  if you want to be included.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent on the edit of the film Double Booked, which has seen much improvement on my previous edits and I am now getting to feel that it is coming together – I only have a meeting of the Runaway Writers this week so I will be at my editing desk most evenings.

Yesterday, I had cause to head to Sutton Coldfield, to sort out my Iphone which seemed to have shut down; the cause was too many apps open in the background and was quickly fixed by the assistant in the phone shop.

Having resolved what could have been my annoyance of the week; I ventured to one of the chain coffee shops for a quick latte and was witness to what I can only describe as Reality Theatre. I have seen street theatre many times when performers deliver an act to a passing audience. But this was Reality Theatre, a performance like reality TV of an altercation between an elderly mother and her middle aged daughter.

The poor old lady had to take a stream of criticism from her daughter, whose life was apparently ruined because as a child she had to wear cheap clothes from C&A and never from Marks and Spencer’s. The daughter as a result only now bought chicken for her cat from Sainsbury’s as she would not buy cheap any more.

The more the mother tried to point out that money was tight, that she did her best, the louder her daughter got, not wanting to listen. The poor mother just sat and took it.

The daughter was playing to an audience of other customers in the coffee shop, neither of them had bought a drink, they just sat as the daughter berated her mother. The daughter was a nasty, vile, ungrateful person towards her mother. It was a sad little play that saw the daughter leave as her mother struggled to follow her.

If the daughter wanted to raise sympathy for herself, then she failed, all sympathies were with the mother who did not deserve this treatment but took it with a certain amount of dignity.

This was a short piece of Reality Theatre, which could not have been scripted any better to show the shortcomings of the daughter as she tried to lay the blame on to her mother’s shoulders. It showed all the drama of relationships that have soured because children do not appreciate what their parents did for them, that you have to understand the times and hardships when events occurred, that you cannot measure the opportunities of today with lack of them back then.

Sadly these two were not actors, who can exit the scene stage left and return to another life, for this mother and daughter, this is life.

More on my lost poets in a next week.


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.

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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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