Archive for May, 2012


What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

THE FIZZ with Margaret Torr




Gary Longden is reviewing the Wall and started by catching up with Simon for an Interview which I have re published below.

Simon Quinn, Director of the Fired Up Theatre Company, with the help of local poet and film maker Mal Dewhirst as associate artistic director, has embarked on producing a stage version of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” which will play at Tamworth Assembly Rooms in early June. Revisiting and re-imagining classic album material from past decades appeals to me and is something I suspect we will be hearing more of from various artistic quarters.

I managed to steal some time from Simon’s busy schedule to secure an exclusive interview with the man responsible for bringing this epic show to the Tamworth stage, as well as securing all the vital production information:

Q. What attracted you to “The Wall” in the first place?

Total self indulgence to be honest, or at least years ago that was the main reason, since then a recognition of how The Wall can resonate individual and group social issues has become more important . I used to deliver drama sessions for disabled learners at The Mac in Birmingham and we would get a half hour coffee break, so I used that time to go wandering around the foyer looking at the publicity flyers dotted around. I was a bit shocked to spot a programme for The Wall which had been, I think, a production encompassing all youth theatre’s across the city. This was about 2004/5, but the production was either early 90′s or late 80′s. I vowed that one day I was going to somehow produce a version of the show, what I didn’t know at the time was how to go about it. I started to experiment with other youth theatre shows that I had written and deliberately slotted in Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 as part of that particular narrative
within the performance.

Q. “The Wall” was released as an album in 1979. Three decades later how well do you think it has worn?

I think it is more relevant now then back in ’79. There are some simple clues as to why. I think the Floyd reunion for Live 8 captured a new audience and therefore created a clamour for their recorded work, in addition the fact that Roger Waters is still touring it , albeit a more political version and has been since 2010, has identified that new and older audiences still demand Floyd/Waters live performance. The crucial aspect however is that the album, film, live performance can so easily be reconstructed to something that can be recognised within each and everyone of us-where back in ’79 it was about the break up of The Floyd, Syd’s break down, the division between band and audience, loss of a loved one and greed- because that is what it was. Without sounding too pompous, it’s exactly the same remit as Shakespeare being designed in a contemporary vein for new audiences.

Q. Is there any new material in the production? How rigid were the demands of the Rights Holders?

This is the interesting one. The script is brand new-it is designed to be more localised ,in other words to fit the identity of the people of Tamworth. That is not mean’t in a derogatory way, it merely means this is a show by the people of Tamworth for Tamworth. It is very dance orientated and contains a lot of symbolism and metaphor’s, but crucially it also pays respect and testimony to Roger Waters work, so it is a bit of a balancing act. Strangely enough the demands regarding copyright have not been too rigid. I went through all the correct channels. Since last July I have been e-mailing ‘Matt’ at the fanzine web site Brain Damage asking questions of how , why and what, and he has been very helpful and courteous in passing on my requests to Mark Fenwick who is Roger’s manager, and eventually I received a very short e-mail granting permission-it was all a bit surreal. Brain Damage have also publicised the event which was terrific of them to do. The one thing I had to do was send a synopsis of ‘our’ creation so that we had a original slant on the existing work.

Q. What influence did the film version of 1982 have on this production?

To begin with it probably had more influence on certain cast members than myself. We used it as a template-certainly on the launch day, but to be honest I wanted to move away from the film-because we have our original script and we were more than keen in creating new practical and textual works-within the work-if that sounds ok.

Q. Who is performing the music and what challenges did recreating Pink Floyd’s sound create?

The music is being provided by Floydian Slip-a Pink Floyd tribute band from Chesterfield. They are the oldest or second oldest Floyd tribute act-so creating the Floyd sound is their ‘bag’. That was crucial to the project. If I am going to be honest, in an ideal world we would have wanted a group of musicians that we could have put together ourselves, but time and funding prohibited this course of action and in any case Floydian Slip are pretty accurate to the Floyd sound.

Q. Pink Floyd have a fan base dawn from their heyday in the 1970’s, how did the younger members of
the cast respond to the material?

This was very curious. We had primary schoolchildren belting out We don’t need no educshun!!! like second nature, and their parents would then play the album or the film to them at home. The cast is very mixed-our actor who plays Pink has morphed into Pink…..I mean worryingly so!.. but he is fab….other cast members had no idea about The Wall but rock n’ roll and performance drew them in. The real cool aspect is the mixture of ages taking part, or who have contributed in some other way to the project. I could get into grumpy old git mode and say can’t imagine this happening with artists today, but it is the longevity and kudos of certain works that draws ‘em in!

Q. What does “The Wall” have to say to a 21st Century audience?

The Wall , I think resonates more as a political and social vehicle today. We have added the themes of ageism, religion, anti-social behaviour, disability, domestic violence, contemporary war fare, greed, lack of respect , intergenerational apathy to the tried and tested formula. They are kind of little photographic snippets pocketed throughout the show-blink and you’ll miss them. This was the appeal to our backers, they could see that a work over 30 odd years old could be adapted to and involve people and groups into a piece of musical theatre that had contemporary ideologies running throughout.

Q.“The Wall” is one of the great popular music shows, what were the challenges of producing it for theatre rather than rock arena/amphitheatre?

It’s not just about the show. We are trying to use The Wall to encourage arts development for minority groups who can interact with Tamworth Arts development in order to improve the well being of all participants; so the show is only one aspect of The Wall. However as you asked about the challenges of the live show…how long have you got.? Rehearsing peripatetically, in other words visiting different, groups making sure they are on the ball with what they are doing. Liaising with the band, the real difficulty has been this. We made a point that we would all rehearse to the live album, Is There Anybody Out There? and not the studio album so the authenticity of the live performance could be felt by all parties, throughout. Also the synchronicity and cohesion is a major problem, because musically, the tracks generally segue from one into another. Our version is different because at different moments, the piece is broken up by poetry or acting or both then by dance and acting-so it is a headache-but that is the originality of the work. I don’t think it matters whether it is a theatre or a amphitheatre-it is still a performance arena-in fact I think the intimacy of our space makes the atmosphere a lot closer, alot more intensified, plus in true Floydian spirit we’ve maintained the lasers, lights, the back projection and the dry ice!

Q. What audience are you aiming for, is this a nostalgia show?

No it is not a nostalgia show! If it was intended that way we might just as well delivered it as a tribute act. This is one of the largest intergenerational community arts events that Tamworth has ever staged. We are aiming to enhance our arts development programme for people and places through this project. This is about increasing arts awareness for groups and individuals who otherwise are unaware of what is happening in the borough. This is our offering for the Cultural Olympiad. If on the other hand people just want to come and enjoy an evening of Pink Floyd-that is fine-but hopefully they will gain a greater insight into other artistic strategies and techniques also.

Q. Are there any other classic concept albums which you would like to bring to the stage?

In my view -and it is only my view-there are only three classic rock theatre concepts that ever demonstrate originality. One is The Wall, the other two are both by The Who, namely Tommy and Quadrophenia. I have actually enquired about performing Quadrophenia with a spoken narrative-as it did actually tour a couple of years ago with dialogue-but to date I have heard nothing. Two other concepts that would interest me would be staging a play by Patrick Jones, which I saw in Cardiff a few years ago, Everything Must Go, which has various songs by the Manic Street Preachers running throughout ( Jones is the brother of Nicky Wire), and on a more localised angle , I would like to do an original musical based on the life and work of Julian Cope from Tamworth, who of course fronted Teardrop Explodes.

The huge demand for tickets for one of the biggest community arts projects ever staged in Tamworth has prompted organisers to encourage prospective audience members to snap up tickets quickly – before they sell out.

The Wall is a contemporary re-imagining of the Pink Floyd rock opus. It is being staged at Tamworth Assembly Rooms on June 6, 7 and 8 by Arts Connects and Fired Up Theatre, by kind permission of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Mark Fenwick Management.

Using Pink Floyd’s classic music, with a new narrative brought bang up to date by Simon Quinn, The Wall is set on a fictitious housing estate somewhere in the West Midlands and explores contemporary themes including anti-social behaviour, poverty, unemployment, social deprivation, peer pressure and racism.

The project is Tamworth’s Cultural Olympiad offering for 2012 and is already bringing together and involving people from all ages and communities across Tamworth, including groups of people who would not normally work together.

People from all across Tamworth with skills including acting, mime, storytelling, dance, poetry, rapping, graffiti art, puppetry, music, stage fighting, film, projection, costumes, set design and props are already hard at work putting the production together.

They will be joined by top professional Pink Floyd tribute band Floydian Slip who will be performing throughout the production to create a polished performance, not only for Pink Floyd fans but for anyone with an interest in music and theatre.

Tickets for The Wall are available from the Tourist Information Centre in Corporation Street or by calling the box office on 01827 709618.

A short video explaining more about The Wall project can be viewed on Tamworth Borough Council’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YPtPGKcxLU

The project is being funded and supported by Fired Up Theatre, Arts Connects, Staffordshire Community Wellbeing Fund, Tamworth Arts Grants Scheme, Tamworth Community Safety Partnership, Staffordshire Local Community Fund and Staffordshire County Council’s Arts Grants Scheme.

Gary Longden – from http://garylongden.wordpress.com/



Gary also reviewed THE FIZZ last week where Margaret Torr gave us a wonderful reading you can see Gary’s review here.



There’s a brand new 2 hour mix of material in The Loop on Radio Wildfire – AND DON’T FORGET to join us for Listening to Leamington on Saturday 2nd June 10am – 4pm (see website for details).

Now playing 24/7 a completely new selection of stories, satires, poetry, spoken word, music and interview @ www.radiowildfire.com  – another two hours of live literature and chat.

In this edition …
The Loop brings you – A Tribute to the late Geoff Stevens by fellow poet and collaborator Brendan Hawthorne.

The Loop brings you Jonathan Davidson talking about Being Human the stage show he is producing in collaboration with Bloodaxe Books and Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, ahead of its national tour.

The Loop brings you new work from cds: Bananas From The Heart by Heather Wastie; From The Bunny ‘ill t’ Puddin’ Rock by Billy & Lozz; and Larry Stanley’s The Rain, from …Like A Diamond In The Sky.

The Loop brings you tracks uploaded to the Radio Wildfire ‘Submit’ page: the story of The Ghost of Charnes Hall from Stephen Harvey; Michael W.Thomas goes country with Cheryl’s Been A Mess (since you went away); Matthew Clegg’s field recording of his poem Chalk; and Mark Goodwin with the sound poem Growls and Miaows, and the wonderfully titled Open Mic as Cellar Door.

The Loop brings you the latest part of Mal Dewhirst’s series The Lost Poets. Episode 4: John Taylor, the water poet.

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 – check it out your gig might just be featured!

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

(And don’t forget, you can upload soundfiles of your own work to the ‘Submit’ page of the Radio Wildfire website. Mp3s are our preferred format. You can also ensure you always get reminders of upcoming shows on Radio Wildfire by following us on Twitter.)

The Loop is curated by Vaughn Reeves and will play online continuously for the next month, except during our Outside Broadcast Listening To Leamington on Saturday 2nd June from 10.00am and duringour live broadcast on Monday 4th June starting at 8.00pm UK time with a full programme of pre-recorded tracks, live studio guests and conversation.
We hope you enjoy it.
Best wishes from the folk at Radio Wildfire.

Radio Wildfire is an independent online radio station which blends spoken word, poetry, performance literature, comedy, storytelling, short stories and more with a novel selection of word/music fusion and an eclectic mix of musical styles. http://www.radiowildfire.com currently broadcasts live 8.00-10.00pm (UK time) on the first Monday of every month.


Readings in June

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

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Not enough time.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?






Following the discussions started on this blog last October and the subsequent discussions held with Staffordshire County Council, I am pleased to inform you that Staffordshire Library Services today have started their search for their first Staffordshire Poet Laureate, to be crowned on the 4th October 2012, National Poetry Day. I would like to thank all those who contributed to the debate.

To get more details on the terms and conditions and an entry form, check local Staffordshire Libraries or follow the link below.

Applications are now being called for at: www.staffordshire.gov.uk/libraries  with a closing date of 14th July 2012. – The links will be available later today if they are not there now.

I will be working on my application over the coming weeks, good luck to all those who apply.


Congratulations to Keith Large on his success at the Buxton Film Festival. Keith has two short films for which he wrote the scripts, selected in the final 9 films of a film festival last week. He was the only writer to have more than one film selected.

The Films are ‘Summer Ice’ and ‘Everyones A Lunatic’ and details can be found here http://www.buxtonfilm.org.uk/

It is great to see Keith’s progression as a writer and producer to achieve the success he deserves for the work he puts into creating opportunities for film makers and actors in the region. I am looking forward to working with him again in June and July.

Keith’s website is at http://www.carrotnapper.com/


There were two great nights of Poetry last week, Tuesday saw Poetry Alight, which I reviewed on this blog and Friday saw Spoken Worlds which was reviewed by Gary Longden on Behind the Arras http://behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices1.html#Worldsmay


This week sees the Fizz tomorrow evening 22nd May. Bringing all thinks poetic back to Polesworth – with the wonderful guest poet is Margaret Torr, who will bring her unique brand of poetry and story telling to this established event – plus open mic, refreshments available and me as MC. 7:30pm start – Polesworth Abbey Refectory – High St, Polesworth, North Warwickshire. Not to be missed.

I will be videoing Margaret’s performance as part of my ongoing commitment to create a legacy of the event. I am intrigued as to what Drayton and Donne would have looked and sound like as they wrote and read before the wonderful fireplace at Polesworth that is now the backdrop to our performances. By recording them, future generations will have an opportunity to share in the readings of the great poets who are coming to Polesworth to read here today.


Last Thursday evening saw Simon and I travel up to Chesterfield to meet with Floydian Slip at their rehearsal for the performance of the WALL. What an honour it was to hear them perform the second act from start to finish. Sorting out where the poems and films will come in. The show is shaping up into something that will be really special.

Gary Longden has also come on board to write some articles in the run up to the show and then a review of the show, which will go out to the local press and various blogs including Gary’s own blog and of course this one so watch out for the extra blog posts over the coming weeks.

Keep an eye on Gary’s blog http://garylongden.wordpress.com/

The development of the footage continues and I think I now have enough archive material to edit together the pieces that are required to bring together the experience of war, rallies and the hypocrisy of Governments in their attempts to try and fool the public that things are done for the common good.

This week sees further rehearsals, a meeting with the technical team and the attendance at a rehearsal of the Shoebox Theatre who will be performing a short piece at the start of the show as a way of introducing the main performance.

Plus there is the gathering of the props and costumes that are coming together, we now have the bed, but we are short of an accordion or squeeze box – so if you have either of these that you don’t mind us using then please contact me. maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

Shows are on the 6th – 7th – 8th June at the Assembly Rooms in Tamworth. Tickets are selling well so don’t leave it too late to get your ticket.
Tickets are available from the Box Office.


Readings in May

22nd May – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Margaret Torr.

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

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Review of Poetry Alight at the Spark Café Lichfield on 15th May 2012.

Tuesday night saw the Second of an occasional series of Poetry events in Lichfield. The Lichfield Poets hosted their second event following the triumph of the first back in February.

As a Poetry event organiser, I am all too aware of the trepidation of following a successful first event with the second. It is the band working on their tricky second album. But they need not have feared, as our host Gary Longden took to the stage, the room was packed with both familiar faces and new, all hanging on his every word, all full of poetic expectations, all ready to be delighted, thrilled and taken to thoughtful places. The evening did not disappoint.

Gary was relaxed and wore his role as the MC with ease and comfort, with his amusing, respectful and enthusiastic introductions.

The evening’s performances featured three guest poets each with six minutes and nineteen supporting poets each with three minutes.


The evening started with the first of the guest poets, The Word Wizard from Buxton, Rob Stevens. Rob runs the Word Wizards Poetry Slam and is a regular reader at Spoken Worlds as he ventures south to share his wit and thoughtfulness with new audiences. It was good to see him as the guest poet with a longer set that showed his ability to make you laugh with his well crafted poems “Doesn’t Look Like a Poet”, which was an observation he perceived of how others view him and perhaps the rest of us jobbing poets. He followed this with two amusing animal poems the first featuring Geoffrey the flatulent Giraffe and the second Hiawatha on a bear hunt. Rob also has a serious side that he brings out in poems such as his final piece on the Hospice. This resonated against the background of the humour of his early pieces and so was a tender reminder of the fragility of life. Rob has a voice that takes you with him, his tone settles you to what is to come, slipping easily from the comic to the serious; he is a master at holding an audience. Rob not only set the high standard for the evening but also created an atmosphere that enabled the following readers to relax into their pieces.

Word Wizard – Rob Stevens

Rob was followed by Jane James from Wolverhampton and regular reader at Bilston Voices, Jane mused on Love in a world of snoring, how her snoring partner did not annoy her and she gloried in this sign of life. She delivered this from memory and was able to engage the audience with her words on the roar of the snore, it showed you were alive and Jane showed she too is very much alive through her well versed observations.

Gary Carr from Burton, where he runs Spoken Worlds followed with a selection from his new poems where he is exploring how to lift words from the page and engage with wider audiences. His first poem
“Every Day Just Lifts Me a Little Higher”, explores how as individuals we can make the world a better place, just by enjoying it and revelling in all that life has to offer. Gary followed this with “The Cinder Path Story” exploring our pre-conceptions through Little Red Riding Hood. His final piece Dear Diary, observes that our fellow pupils of 30 years ago are no longer the people we recognise or they us, that our lives though lived in the same town since our shared education do not create bonds that are lasting.

David Calcutt followed and seems to be haunted by delays at this event last time it was a group of exiting knitters from the room upstairs and this time by the tones of the coffee machine as steam was pumped into an emerging Latte. This however does not worry David who delivered a wonder poem with multiple voices that one would expect from this accomplished writer. Dinmore Woods is an epic journey through nature, full of voices that stretch from England over the border into Wales, examining borders. It was a very well crafted poem that was really well delivered.

David was followed by another very accomplished poet Antony Owen, Antony who hails from Coventry where he runs Nightblue Fruit, he also is an award winning poet whose take on war and society is not matched by any other living poet. Antony’s poems do not take prisoners as they spill the blood of tyranny from the page as he delivers realities so that they cannot be ignored. This makes him stand out as one of the greatest war poets of our time. Antony remembered lasting imagery of Bobby Sands, The Shankhill Lazarus and the fragility of Belfast during the troubles. His poem Pilau Rice explored the Riots of 2011 when three sons lost their lives protecting their property and the dignified response of their father as he called for calm. Antony as ever delivered a consummate performance.

Bert Flitcroft from Alrewas followed with an observation that he was reminded of when standing in front of the mirror shaving, which brought back a childhood memory of an uncle who wandered about Naked. This was followed by a sonnet to a Bacon Sandwich, which resulted in the only argument he and his wife had ever had. More breakfast foods adorned his final piece The Flying Club as he explored the lives of Pigeon Racers. Bert has his own true voice, a voice that can in the same poem amuse and raise to the fore poignant thoughts.

Penny Harper who delighted us with tales of Nepal at the last Poetry Alight, read two well crafted poems that delved into nature and with Song of the Earth dedicated to Professor Brian Cox and the infinite Monkey cage, followed by Hailstones which she described as a shout of hate that silences the birds.

Jane Stanton from Leicester who is a regular at Shindig gave us her wash day poems with a reminiscence of a Flatley Electric Clothes Drier Circa 1961 followed by Clothes Horse which brought back my own memories of making tents from an upturned clothes horse and army blankets where Jane held picnics and saw it as a grandly gentile room. Her final reminiscence Tasseography an Introduction, telling of the fading art of reading tea leaves, how she observed her Grandma’s skilful interpretations of the future through the dregs of a cup. Jane will be one of the poets going to Cork this year on the Coventry Cork Literature exchange and fine representative she will make.

Christine Colman opened up the world of a sedentary life with her poem Becoming a Seal which she followed with a wonderful poem that gave a voice to Icarus’ Father Daedalus as he observed his son ignore his instructions as he flew off with wax held feather wings only to travel too close to the sun and the wax melt causing Icarus to fall into the sea and drown as told in Greek mythology. The plight of a parent whose advice goes unheard.

Christine was followed by Margaret Torr in the run up to her guest poetry reading at THE FIZZ in Polesworth next Tuesday the 22nd of May. Margaret read her villanelle that came from an article on the funeral of butcher, where they played And Sheep may safely graze. This amused Margaret and so she was struck to write her wonderful piece that she delivers with all the skill of the natural storyteller that she is. I am always honoured when one of the Polesworth Poets Trail poets read their poem from the Trail and so was delighted when Margaret read the Pooley Pit Ponies. I look forward to her reading next week.

Sue Brown

The second guest poet finished the first half and what an absolutely captivating performance it was too.
Sue Brown who leads Writers without Borders, delivered a special few moments not often seen but so absolutely wonderful to experience when they do. Her poetry is full of rhythm and purposefulness, she makes you stop what you are doing and listen. Her poem My love is Ire fills the room with her joy at being herself and being in love. From my thought came the word explores her relationships with people and with words and how they can interchange in a thoughtful resonant place. Sue finished with Wanting to Be with it rhythms of dance and Jazz and very distinctly the Blues, and absolutely wonderful piece. Sue is definitely someone to seek out on the Birmingham Poetry circuit.


The second half was started in fine style by the final guest poet Mstr Morrison, who gave us two poems, the first The Old man and his dog, was a tale about relationships and how ordinary unassuming people can lead extraordinary lives. His calm delivery soothed us into the world of the characters; bring a tear to eye of some who listened. His second poem Dance with me was personal piece that told of gathering music to enrich the souls of two lovers; these were two beautiful poems from a beautiful soul an absolutely brilliant performance. Mstr Morrison is another poet to seek out.

Mstr Morrison

Next was Kate Walton who was struck by a newspaper article that suggested Melton Mowbray has the highest record for accidental deaths. A subject she mused upon with hints of pie making, well I say hints they were blatant references, she did qualify this by stating it was totally fictional. A very witty and well crafted poem that was well delivered.

We were then treated to the poetry of our hosts The Lichfield Poets.

Steph Knipe whose take on the world is always of interest as she sees things that others don’t and then delights us by pointing them out. Her poem Project Sunshine is a must for wine lovers and those who write about wine. Her second poem What Happened Next saw her talking to familiar strangers and ending with a prayer at ground zero. Both delivered with eloquence.

Following Steph came Jan Arnold who read of dying and dead umbrellas in the New York rain, capturing the streets of the Big Apple as no other rain is like that of New York. Here poem Caterpillar Smile was a poem to a lady on a train. Both were well observed pieces that took you to the moments that inspired them.

A reverent welcome was given to the leader of the Lichfield Poets, Janet Jenkins who gave us her creative thoughts on the relationship between humans and wildlife. Her first well crafted poem on Balletic Bullies as she mused on the disruptions of Starlings. She followed this with the disgruntled Frog who whilst trying to spawn was hit on the head by a mobile phone, Janet’s as it happened.

George Barbrook continued the animal theme with his Cat on a Wall, where he philosophised on Fat Cats looking down on us. His second poem really captured me, a love poem inspired by an Aunt who played out the summer, it told of time and the gentleness that we seemed to have lost.

Janet Smith followed with her poem for International Women’s Day, Flares which she pointed out she happened to be wearing, She followed with her poem thought provoking poem, Still Birth, which was selected as one of the twenty highly commended poems for Donald Singer: Health, Art and Science – Hippocrates Awards for Poetry. Her final piece was a tribute to Poet Adrienne Rich, who died earlier this year. It is always a pleasure to hear Janet read, she too will be travelling to Cork this summer as part of the Coventry Cork Literature exchange, Cork is certainly in for a rare treat.

Heather Fowler came next with a poem inspired by the Titanic, Not just any old sinking ship, told of an impresario rolling up the punters for a Titanic sideshow. She followed this with a poem to commemorate the end of the Football season with a memory of visiting Old Trafford in the days when BEST meant George Best. Both were well written and read.

Next came a newcomer to the poetry scene, Kay Westoby, who read from a Kindle, which is becoming more popular with readers in the last six months. Composer and Conductor, where she looks at how she can connect with a discordant world. It was a good first performance.

Finally Tom Wyre read from his collection Soliloquy, Ivory Towers a poem that proclaims Heaven can wait, he followed this with a new poem Cellophane Man who breathes the breath of destruction. A very fine reading and good end to a great night.

Poetry Alight was a terrific evening of poetry and long may it continue although it may have to lose its line of being an occasional event. The Lichfield Poets are to be congratulated for continuing to build this event. Congratulations to 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 Tuesday 10th July 2012 at the Spark Café, Tamworth St, Lichfield. This event is at the same time as The Lichfield Festival.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A Book Launch


MAY 2012 TRAX – Mike Six – Hydranoid Musia



Mars on the Rise – The book cover

So the day arrived with trepidation, I had never launched a book before and neither had my two partners in this venture, Rae Gee the author and Dr Goth, a true leader of fashion. At 7:30 pm we went through the final sound checks and at 8:00 pm the lights went down on the crowd that had gathered dressed in a variety of exotic costumes that took us back the darker days of Victorian England.

Fashion Leaders – Dr Goth (right)

So as my opening theme tune blitzed through the Century Theatre I took to the stage for the first time as Sir Nigel Mallard, thinking if only this was taking place in a warehouse in New York.

Sir Nigel Mallard is delighted by the company.

This was an unusual book launch; we had two excellent bands and an excellent comedian to support an Interview with Rae and a short film in from of a costumed audience of family, friends and many of the Mars on the Rise 40 who had paid £20 in advance to sponsor the event. I have been to many book launches and a line up such of this is unusual enough, but to add to this we had a book launch without the book.

We had an image of the cover; there is a kindle version which is selling well in Germany, but no hardcopy of the book to be seen. The books are sitting on the floor of a warehouse in New York, despite the emails and telephone calls from the publisher, the printer failed to get them despatched.

Did this stop us, did it heck, we are Brits and Victorian Brits at that so the show must go on. Apologies made, we went on as if the books were there.

Sir Nigel interviews Rae Gee

The evening started with an interview with our nervous lady author, dressed in beautiful purple gown and a top hat. Rae answered the questions about who she is, why she wrote the book, why Steampunk. We showed the film, an advert for the evil company in the book, Veetu Industries, Purveyors of Sex, Drugs and Steam power. This is a company that trades on its evil and is not afraid to say so. There is a certain honesty about that, yes we are evil but we won’t hide it from you. The 15 minutes flew by and Rae held her own as we honoured her and crowned her wonderful achievement.

Rae left the stage in a flood of Glory, as I continued proceeding with introducing the first act. The Cogkneys. This wonderful duo of Tilly and Arthur, delighted us with their music hall songs, saucy poems in a magical forty minute set. I would truly recommend this act whose performing chemistry matched with their perfect comic timing was a delight to behold, as they engaged the audience in laughter and singing.

The Cogkneys

There is only so much jollity one can take without a drink so an interval was called and we descended on the bar to mingle among the throng of sexy, suave sophisticates who seduced you with their creative inventiveness of the Victorian age.

Fortified we returned to a figure clad in the great coat that would warm a small family through a Siberian Summer, topped of with a hat made you think BEAR. This character being Count Rostov whose comic view of the world was delivered to us his Chumrades in the deep husky tones of this famous Russian ex-patriot of the Czsarist society.

Count Rostov

The evening finished with the absolutely fantastic THE DARK DESIGN, who were performing only their 3rd gig. This collective of multitalented musicians played a variety of instruments from harps, flutes, saxophones, guitars and keyboards along with a mechanical drum kit and guitars that morphed into tubas. This group whose Celtic, folk, Victorian Steampunk sounds conjured up tales of mystic characters and places. This band has a big future, so watch out for them.


And so it came to a close, Victorian clad spectators wander off into the 21st Century which existed just beyond the gates of the Snibston Discovery Centre. We cleared away the dregs of the day, unthreading cables, unplugging microphones, removing the trappings of Sir Nigel Mallard, I morphed back into my jeans and tee shirt to become Mal again.

We said our goodbyes and vowed that we would do it all again when book 2 is published.

I arrived home at 1:00am and I opened the first bottle of beer of the night and raised a glass to absent books.

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/

RAE’s Book can be found at: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=3564

Thank you to Gary Carr and Rach Flowers for the use of the photographs.


My life as Assistant Director of the Wall production in Tamworth cannot be put on hold for book launches. Last week saw an all day rehearsal on Monday and a delightful evening of photographing 22 Mums to be projected on to the screen when Floydian Slip play Mother. This has now been rendered into a film and is ready to go.

My search for footage of political rallies, war, the sexual revolution, guitar smashing and the riots last year saw me trawling the web for films that I can use under a creative commons licence. I found many hours of footage, but none of it is ready to use, I have to edit it into pieces that fit the scenes. It is however proving to be a challenging pleasure.

Yesterday saw another rehearsal and this week includes another trip to Chesterfield to meet with the band, Act two as a personal performance, I am really looking forward to it.

Shows are on the 6th – 7th – 8th June at the Assembly Rooms in Tamworth.
Tickets are available from the Box Office.


POETRY ALIGHT  returns to the SPARK CAFÉ in Lichfield tomorrow, more details below. I will be writing a review as an extra blog post later in the week, so do come along and listen.

SPOKEN WORLDS  is also this week on Friday in Burton, details are also below. Come and read in one of the famous 3 halves.



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

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?

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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