Archive for the ‘Runaway Writers’ Category


What is ANNOYING me this week?

The throb in the night.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The lengthening days.


St John Passion – J.S.Bach Performed by The English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Britten


I have been busy over the last few weeks and it was beginning to tell with my body giving me excruciating aches especially at night when I tried to sleep. So I was glad I only had a couple of things last week. Night Blue Fruit on Tuesday which saw the wonderful Jan Watts – the Birmingham Poet Laureate venture out to Coventry to read. Wednesday saw two evening meetings, the first to discuss some very interesting ideas on raising the artistic profile of Tamworth, followed by The Mad Hatters’ Writers in Atherstone.

So I think my body was glad to have a break from meetings and events and was more than happy for me to work on the edits to Double Booked. Over the last couple of weeks I have been spending nearly every spare moment reviewing all the available footage to improve the film; with more use of close ups and the different angles that were used in the filming. This has been a step back viewing exercise and not a jumping in and start cutting the film about task. However by Friday I was in a position to start making the changes which I did for the easy edits, following this with an all day session on Sunday starting to make the more difficult cuts and edits to make the film flow more easily.

All adding to my learning, all striving for the best result.

As I was based in my study for most of the time, I was able to reacquaint myself with the Radio. I listen in the car, but this is often dipping in and out between destinations. So with a prolonged period of edits to consider it was great to have plays and discussion on in the background only dipping out to listen to the film audio on the headphones. Sunday saw, the views of a Scottish Fisherman on the articles in the Days papers, The Archers Omnibus, Desert Island Disks and a repeat of Just a minute which completely filled the morning. I must admit that I put on a CD of Bach St John’s Passion in the early afternoon. Not that the radio was beginning to bore me, more that Desert Island Disks was where I first heard a snippet of this great piece and I remembered that I was given the CD as Christmas present and had not listened to it all the way through. So over all Sunday was a very productive day.

This week sees a follow up meeting tomorrow on the arts in Tamworth and a Runaway Writers’ group meeting on Thursday so my body should not moan too much at that and I might even get down to doing some writing.

Monday of last week did see me in stay in to tune into the latest Radio Wildfire broadcast and excellent it was too. With poems and music from all over the world, including some interesting sound poems, all in the safe hands of Dave Reeves and his son Vaughn. I am hoping to publish an interview with Dave on this blog in the near future, where he tells me about the history of Radio Wildfire and his hopes for the future.

You can listen to the loop of last month’s programme including my piece on Michael Drayton and on or around the 20th March this will be updated with last Mondays broadcast with my piece on Banjo Patterson. Follow this link to get to the show www.radiowildfire.com

As part of my study of film making, I have taken some time in my relaxation hours to watching films and television with a more critical eye. Looking not only at the shots and angles that the film and programme makers use to create the cinematic and tele-visual effects, but also at the storylines, plots and outcomes.

This has led to me occasionally watching documentary / reality TV shows. I have recently been watching Time Team, as show that I used to enjoy but over the last few years have not featured in my viewing as other projects took my mind away from the TV.

Many of you know I have a passion for Archaeology from my teenage years as a summer holiday digger on excavations such as the Mucking Hillside in Essex. Time team used to keep that interest burning but the latest episodes of the current season have been disappointing and I suspect it may have run its course as a programme. I read only the other week that Mick Aston has resigned from the programme and that there has been some friction over the presentation.

That, however is not the fuel of my disappointment, what concerns me is the lack of them finding anything. They seem to dig for the three days and not find what they set out to locate. Often finding nothing and so they end up with a lot of conjecture as to the whys and what fors of a site. I realise that you can’t expect to hit gold on every dig but they seem to do it week in and week out, ending up with no further information than was already known from documents and as such could come to their conclusions without actually disturbing the earth. Tony Robinson seems to have to fill in a lot more as the Archaeologists struggle to find anything to tell us. They are better than that and deserve a better programme, like the ones they used to produce.

Time team is not the only programme that fails to deliver. There are several programmes that seek to find properties for people, programmes such as Location, Location, Location, A Place in the Sun or A Place in the Country. All of which are most likely not to find a property that the participants actually end up buying and so you are left with the dissatisfaction of not having a conclusion to the story. Did they ever buy or was it just a speculative time wasting exercise. Again I know Phil and Kirstie can’t win every time but of late they never seem to win.

Having said that about the content of show, I am also disappointed by some of the film making and editing which I as a film maker would not accept in any of my work. Things such as poor camera angles, uninteresting shots of places are always annoying but what is worse for me is jerky pans and shots that are out of focus for a few seconds, all of which are avoidable with good camera work and editing.

It seems to me that the content of some programmes has dumbed down, there is far too much of the reality TV where the public is entertaining the public and not very well. This has led to cheap TV and the production values as such have taken the same line with a slap dash approach in some cases.

Despite all of that I still like the camera work on the opening titles of Time Team!

Next Saturday see States of Independence at De Montfort University in Leicester. This excellent event sees many of the small presses gathered together to sell and promote the works of their poets and authors. This is a free event and a great opportunity to network with the independent writing industry. I shall be going along to meet with some old friends and hopefully make some new. I would also like to get a view of who the new and up and coming voices are, which I will write about on this blog next week.

For more information on this event go to http://www.statesofindependence.co.uk/

A quick reminder that THE FIZZ will take place at Polesworth Abbey on the 27th March at 7:30pm with Special Guest Poet Barry Patterson plus open mic.

Finally for this week – I would like to point you to Bernadette O’Dwyer’s excellent blog post this week at the Secret Writer. Berni, like many writers including myself, holds down a day job whilst she looks for her break that will see her become a full time, established writer. This is not unusual for writers, many of whom have had alternative jobs that in some cases have provided the knowledge they need to enable them to write using themes and methods with some accuracy. They do say write what you know! Berni has listed several famous writers and their previous occupations – some you would expect others are more surprising. To see Berni’s list go to: http://secretwriter1.blogspot.com/2012/03/previous-careers-synopsis-and-waiting.html


Readings in March.

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 Fast is too slow and the Slow is too fast!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Breathing Spaces


Hot Rocks – The Rolling Stones


Last week was exceptionally busy – with the film Double Booked still in the edit stage, I also managed to fit in a meeting on the Poets Trail, two Poetry evenings, a writers group and a meeting on a new project in Tamworth based around Pink Floyd’s Magnus opus The Wall.

I also found some time to add a page to this blog for THE FIZZ see the tab above – it gives a brief outline of The History of the event and some of the guest poets who have read at past events. There is more on the latest Fizz below.

The poets trail designs for the second phase are more or less signed off and being printed on to the aluminium sheets, ready to be fixed into the Oak lecterns which will be installed on site over the coming weeks.

In fact there are only three to be finalised and these are no taking the standard form of the lectern so require a little more work.

I was able to share some of the designs with the Poets at the Fizz on Tuesday and what a fine start to the poetry season with readings from Gary Carr and eleven readers from the floor.

THE FIZZ with guest poet – Gary Carr.

Gary split his set in two parts and read on themes from his life that were very personal to him. It was good to hear the range of Gary’s poetry in one place at one time brought together as a set rather than individual poems read out of context. Gary included many poems from his back catalogue, including Not having a ball and Octopus. He also did his children’s poem Marmite on Toast, which I use with Primary School Children to start off my Poetry Kite workshops, it always goes down well. His poetry ranges from serious to the whimsical and is delivered in tones suitable to the piece, exploring rhythms that demonstrate Gary’s love of music, sometimes verging on Rap.

Themes from the discomfort of facing a microphone, to a poetry gig where the audience was too loud or was he too fast, to the sadness of a family that play computer games and pile up dirty plates.

He also read the two poems he submitted for the poets trail, STOP and Them up there don’t know use down here exist, the latter being the selected poem for the trail.

Gary delivered them in a style that was easy to the ear and so you captured every word, the pace was right for the listener to reflect on every nuance and turn of phrase. Gary gives a fresh view of the world from a poet whose observations are sharp and sometimes off the wall that take you to look at some of the harsher things in life but in such a way you do not shy away from them.

A truly brilliant poet and performance, I look forward to Gary’s first collection brought together from this material.

I filmed Gary’s performance as I will with all the guest poets as a legacy of the Fizz, I am not sure as to yet how I will present these films, but I will let you know through this blog when Gary’s performance is available to view.

The Next Fizz is on 27th March when the Guest Poet will be Barry Patterson.

Gary’s own Spoken Worlds at the Old Cottage Tavern in Burton on Trent on Friday was another excellent evening. With its now famous three halves with all readings from the floor, you never know what you are going to get. Friday’s readings were excellent with readers in fine form and delivering to the highest standards, engaging the audience into a range of thoughtful places. There were exceptional readings from Gary Longden, Tom Wyre, Margaret Torr and a great sketch from Terri and Ray Jolland.

The new blog and website for the Runaway Writers is attracting a lot of attention, with readers from beyond the group some from overseas who are enjoying the writing exercise – the first is on Food.

I seem to be posting things daily on the Runaway’s blog as information comes in on events, competitions and useful websites for writers. Hopefully interest will be sustained and the blog will become another useful resource for writers.

You can view the blog at http://runawaywriters.wordpress.com

My Lost Poet this week MARINA TSVETAEVA (1892-1941)

I came across Marina when I was researching another of my lost poets Osip Mandelstam, with whom she had a love affair. She is considered as being one of the finest Russian Modernist poets and has been compared with Sylvia Plath, Marina’s themes often transferring her emotions on to others, who she uses as her muse. Her prolific, highly original style, with its masculine monosyllabic eruptions does however give her a voice that is distinctly her own.

Belinda Cooke in her article on Marina describes her as “The Poet of the Extreme.” She certainly is passionate about her life and loves, in her time she has many affairs and writes of failed unrequited love, never quite finding the contentment of sharing her life with one person. Her passions taking her to the deepest of places, with idolatry and obsession driving her away from finding such contentment.

Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow, into a family of cultured academics, her father was a professor of fine art and her mother a concert pianist. Her life as child was a relatively comfortable, bourgeois one, although the disagreements between her and her siblings were often violent. Her mother discouraged her early leaning toward Poetry, describing it as a poor interest and wishing her daughter to become a pianist.

Marina was educated Lausanne and later studied at the Sorbonne. Following the death of her mother in 1906, Marina renewed her passion for poetry and made it the major focus of the rest of her life. It was at a time when Russian Poetry was in a major transformation with the rise of the Russian Symbolist Movement which was to influence her later work. Her first collection was self published in 1910 under the title Evening Album, it received much critical acclaim and marked her out as a poet of some substance, although in retrospect much of early work is seen as bland in comparison to her writing in later life.

She fell in love and married Sergei Efron an army cadet in 1912, the next few years were to see Russia go through Revolution which Marina and Sergei found them on the opposing side to the revolutionary Bolsheviks, both supporters of the White Russians.

Throughout her married life she was involved with many love affairs; much of the passion of her poetry is transferred on to her muse lovers.

By 1917 Marina had two daughters Alya and Irana. Whilst living in the poverty of the Moscow famine, Marina continued to write in support of the old regime, both poetry and plays, her works including “The Encampment of the White Swans” and the “Tsarist Maiden”. She was desperate to find a means of supporting her family; Sergei was away fighting with the White Army. She surrendered her children to the State orphanage in the mistaken belief that they would be better cared for. When Alya became ill, Marina removed her from the State care, Irana, succumbed to malnutrition in 1920 dying in the Orphanage. Marina was devastated, blamed her self and in a poem accuses herself of infanticide.

I stand accused of infanticide
unkind and weak.
And in hell I ask you,
‘My dear one what did I do to you?’

(from Marina Tsvetaeva Poet of the extreme. article by Belinda Cook)
By 1922 life in Moscow was unbearable and this led to their exile initially Berlin then to Prague and later to Paris, living within the émigrés of the White Russian community in exile. It was during this period that her son Georgy nicknamed Mur was born. Though she continued to write in support of the White Russian cause, her compatriots found her to be not White Russian enough and dismissed her work. She spent 14 unhappy years in Paris, finding comfort in correspondence with major writers, such as Boris Pasternak and Rainer Maria Rilke.

Sergei, began to feel homesick for Russia and started developing Soviet sympathies, but was unsure of the welcome he would receive in Soviet Russia; their daughter Alya also followed his views. He began spying for the NKVD the forerunner of the KGB although Marina seems never to have known of his spying activities.

On the return to Russia in 1938 Sergei is arrested and implicated in the murder of Bolsheviks for which he was found guilty and shot, his daughter Alya is also implicated and sent to prison for eight years.
Marina and Mur return to Russia in 1939 as the tensions in Europe are rising. She too is arrested and knowing nothing of the charges that were brought against her husband, proceeds to quote French Poetry to her interrogators. Who formed the conclusion that she was mad and not implicated in the charges brought against her husband and daughter.

Marina finds it hard; she cannot find work because of her past support of the White Russian regime. Established writers shun her. She does find the occasional translation work as she has become fluent in many European languages during her exile.

She is further exiled to Yelabuga away from the main literary influences where in 1941 she hangs herself, some believe it was her situation and a wish to release her son from her past, others believe that it was the death of Sergei. Pasternak felt that he had personally failed her.

Following the death of Stalin. Her work was finally published and studied in Russia in 1961, where she received the acknowledgement as one of the Great Russian Modernists.

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich set six of Tsvetaeva’s poems to music, there are recordings here.
Poem 1 http://youtu.be/Cy79p3u7-uo
Poem 2 http://youtu.be/cXh0h862cRo
Poem 3 http://youtu.be/L-Ri2wFl62A
Poem 4 http://youtu.be/6fC8TLR-DM8
Poem 5 http://youtu.be/bn7-VgrKg38
Poem 6 http://youtu.be/bFb2dOBGizI

These are all sung in Russian but some have the English Translations in the comments.

Her work has been translated into English by many poets and writers including Elaine Feinstein whose Marina Tsvetaeva – Selected poems was published by the Oxford University Press in 1993.
A newer translation is available see:

You can find Belinda Cooke’s article Poet of the Extreme here:


Readings in February

Feb 5th – Recording of The Lost Poets – Radio Wildfire.
Feb 7th – Night Bluefruit – Coventry.
Feb 21st – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Feb 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
Feb 28th – Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The Drizzle

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

My Projects


Jimi Trax


The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club last Tuesday provided a great start to my year of readings. I read my Skipton poems from the walk of Lady Anne Clifford’s Way, a couple of years ago. It was good to see some familiar faces who have now become regulars at this event and also some new faces who really enjoyed the mix of song and poetry. Brian Langtry led the way with a couple of songs starting with Streets of London; we also had The House of the Rising Sun from Pete followed by some of the blues of John Lee Hooker. The poetry was a mix of memories from family to working in the clay pits.

Jigs and Reels at the Goblin Folk and Poetry Club

Brian gave away copies of his CD – Some of my Songs (he may well have some copies left to give out at the Fizz), he also handed out a flyer for his next production Connie Francis Musical Memories which is touring the Midlands during the Spring. I will put more details on this show in my next blog.

You can check out Brian’s work and past productions on his website at

I have recently taken over the role of Secretary for the Runaway Writers. It is a role that is not too arduous and mainly involves communicating with members and the wider world of opportunities and events that may be of interest in the pursuit of our individual literary careers.

As some one who finds blogging a pleasure, I have set up the Runaway Writers blog with various pages that explain what the group does and how to link to the members.

The blog is at: http://runawaywriters.wordpress.com

I chose this approach because it allows followers to manage their own subscription, rather than relying on an email distribution list, which gets out of date very easily. The blog also allows non members of the group to keep up to date with the groups activities, with a view that they might want to join and share their work with the group.

The blog will not only promote the Runaway Writers but also events that may be of interest to the members and the wider audience.

My early posts have included The Fizz and Spoken Worlds as events organised by members, but I have also included Poetry at the Spark Café in Lichfield and The Pure and The Good and The Right in Leamington as these are events that members may well be interested in attending.

Take a look at the Runaway’s blog as it will cover more events and promotions than I can cover on this blog.

Tomorrow sees THE FIZZ – as I said last week I will keep plugging the Fizz until the day – 24th January at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey with guest poet Gary Carr – plus Open Mic. – Admission is Free.

I am keen to create a permanent legacy of The Fizz and will be filming the guest poets (with their permission) – I am not sure how this will be accessed as an archive of yet, but that does not stop me filming it whilst I work out the details.

Followed on Friday 27th with Gary’s own evening – Spoken Worlds at The Old Cottage Tavern, Bykerley St in Burton on Trent – Starts at 7:30pm – Sign up for reading slots in the Spoken Worlds famous 3 halves.

The Secret Writer blew her cover this weekend, though I am sure many people knew it was one of the Poetry Trail poets, Bernadette O’Dwyer. So how did she relinquish her anonymity – She published her short story – A Front Row Seat as a Kindle version.

The short story form is very much under rated and overlooked in my opinion, Magazines and Competitions offer more or less the only outlet for them and this often contrived through formulaic styles and themes. The freedom to write using the writers own styles and themes is often stifled by these contrivances.

Bernadette’s approach to use the latest technology to put an individual short story out into the readership at reasonable price is surely a good one – Her following will surely grow as she seeks a publisher for her novel “HER”, thus making her more attractive proposition to potential publishers.

She is an excellent writer, but without an outlet for her work how do people get to know her writing. Poets have the open mic events and poetry magazines as a way to get their work out and to attract potential publishers of a full collection – Novelists don’t have these options – The short story on Kindle is a great way for them to build their reputation.

Check out this story at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-front-row-seat-ebook/dp/B006ZP0QD0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327316962&sr=8-1

A Front Row Seat – By Bernadette O’Dwyer. The police van had been parked there all night. Likewise, I had been parked in my armchair, not daring to move, for fear of missing the proceedings.

Bernadette’s blog is at: http://secretwriter1.blogspot.com/

My lost poet, I am researching a Russian Poet, whose life was very complex. I am therefore still researching the themes for my lost poet piece and will hopefully have it completed for next week.

I am also working on turning my lost poets into the radio broadcast material for Radio Wildfire, the first of which I will record in a couple of weeks. Dave Reeves is keen to make these a ten minute feature which will run as a stand alone piece. I will let you know how the recording goes in early February.



Jan 24th – THE FIZZ – Polesworth – Guest Gary Carr.
Jan 27th – Spoken Worlds – Burton

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

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The judgements of hypocrites (although this is quite a good name for an album or Poetry Collection.)

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

New films


Music for Films – Brian Eno


Last Thursday, saw the meeting of four writing groups in Coalville in Leicestershire. Our hosts The Grace Dieu Writers, invited The Charnwood Writers, the Ashby Writers Club and the group I belong too, The Runaway Writers to come together to share our work.

The evening was themed around short stories, with each group bringing three short stories to be read at the evening. This was not a competition, just an evening of exploring the forms of short stories, meeting old friends and making new ones.

The short stories covered a variety of themes, from a haunting in Ashby, to shopping in a disability carriage, to chocolate eating Spider Monkeys then there was murder at a night class for pantomime dames, the over enthusiastic ambitions of a young man in South London, to a dripping hospital visitor, other stories picked up on the themes of a woman making a decision, does she make love to or kill her brother in law, the end of the holidays, homecomings, libraries and my own offering on the theme of drinking absinthe.

All the stories were of very high quality from individual voices, all of the writers clearly understood the short story form, with hooks to draw you in and then keeping the flow that built the story to its often unexpected conclusion. Characters were developed with realism from the brevity of information that is the welcome constraint of the short story.

The short story is a writing form that is under used, like poetry it can be done badly if the writer does not understand the form and devises that make a good short story. There have been limited outlets for the short story, there are magazines and the occasional anthology, but there could be more, such as short story collections by individual authors and spoken word readings.

All the contributing writers are to be congratulated on their skills, it was a really enjoyable evening, a great opportunity to hear other writers read their work and to gain new inspirations from each other.

We all agreed that we should make meetings like this a feature of our writers groups programmes, that writer’s could go along to each others meetings, if not to join the group but to sit in and listen, sharing wider experiences on a more regular basis.

There was also talk of another “combat creative writing” competition that was a success a couple of years ago with the Write Off.

I would encourage all writers groups to find their local fellow writing groups and arrange to get together at least once a year. I would like to thank Tony Gutteridge and the Grace Dieu Writers for their welcome and hospitality and especially to Rebecca Burns for her effort in co-ordinating the event.

The Dreamer by Wendy Morthorpe

My adventures into the world of STEAMPUNK progressed last week, as the team that has gathered around Rach Gee to organise her book launch met to develop the ideas and to put some real plans together to make this a piece of theatre that hopefully will long be remembered.

The event is likely to take place in April or May of next year and we are busily working on a suitable venue to hold it. We have one favourite location in the Midlands which we are actively pursuing. Along side of this we want to put together an evening of dressing up in Victorian costume with an interview with Rach, readings, Question and Answers and book signing to finished off with a couple of Steampunk bands, a musical genre I have quite taken too and is not what I imagined it would be from its title.

We are also making three short films that take different aspects of the book and will be available to view on YouTube early in the New Year. We want to create an anticipation for readers who will hopefully be chomping at the bit to get hold of a copy. I really love the opportunity to mix different mediums in developing literary creativity. The films will see film makers, CGI animators and new music from Hydranoid Musia, in collaboration, bringing their range of skills to create a real legacy for the event.

Several people have signed up to become sponsors, to which we are extremely grateful and we promise to make this a memorable experience.

We are still looking for sponsors who will donate £20 upfront in return for a package that includes an invitation to the launch along with a signed copy of the book, some limited edition promotional materials, copies of the three films and the complete sound track with additional material that will not have been heard before. Plus you will be one of the 100 named individuals who make up the Mars on the Rise 100.

More details will be posted as they are firmed up.

You can contact me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk if you want to become one of the sponsors and I will include you on the list.

Congratulations to my good friend Antony Owen, who was one of eleven poets to have a poem selected by the Wilfred Owen Story as part of this year’s Remembrance Day commemorations. Antony travelled up to be part of the events in the Wirral, the once home of his namesake Wilfred.

This is a well deserved honour for Antony as a poet whose collection the Dreaded Boy provides a new voice to that of previous war poet’s, he is the first war poet from Coventry. His poems give a poignant reminder of the horrors of war, the sacrifice and the suffering. Coventry still has its scars from the blitz, along with its twin cities of Stalingrad and Dresden, their shared experience of war brought them together in peace.

Although seventy years have passed since those events, we still need to remember them and we still need voices like Antony’s to keep out attentions focussed on what we really mean by peace.

You can find more information on from the Wilfred Owen Story website at: http://www.wilfredowenstory.com/events.html

Tomorrow I will be attending the new event in Ashby – the Goblin Folk and Poetry Club, where I will offer my poetic contribution, you will be glad to hear that I won’t offer to sing.

I am a person with a wide range of musical tastes and folk and traditional music has always been one of them. The Pitman Poets last month were excellent as were the local voices of the Leicester Folk scene who gave impromptu performances in the bar and joined in with the songs of Tommy Armstrong. There is a real heart to Folk music as it suggests it belongs to the Folk, the people, it maintains it’s purity through its poetry and the custodianship of the Folk clubs. I for one hope it never falls into the clutches of commercialism.

I will return to my LOST POETS next week.


November Readings.

15th Nov – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby de la Zouch. – NEW EVENT
22nd Nov – Poetry Bites – Birmingham. Guest Joseph Horgan
25th Nov – Spoken Worlds – Burton – Guest Ash Dickinson

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The very disappointing ending to SPOOKS!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Some interesting opportunities!


The Archers


There have been several great further responses to the debate on a Staffordshire Poet Laureate, for which I would like to thank those who offered their thoughts. There are 3 or 4 active people on the Staffordshire Literature scene who are interested in working with me to engage with the appropriate authorities to see if we can move this forward. Therefore I propose to work with them to see what we can achieve. I will of course let you know the results through this blog.

Poets can still contact me through my email address maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk with any further thoughts.

This last week has seen me working on ideas for future projects which are all very tentative at the moment and I need to think about which I want to pursue and how they will be part of achieving the things that I want to do, the things that I enjoy doing.

I also found that I had done enough walking of the subject of my Cork poems following my trip and readings back in August; I now have one completed poem and another partly drafted. I would like to get them finished ready for when the three Cork poets visit the UK next week as part of the Coventry Cork Literature exchange.

The Cork Poets: Afric McGlinchey, Colm Scully and Jennifer Matthews will be in the UK from the 1st to 5th November, with a reading at Night Blue Fruit in Coventry on 1st, a meeting with the Mayor of Coventry, a tour of the Polesworth Poets trail and reading at the Fizz in Polesworth on 3rd finishing with a reading and interview on Hills FM on Friday 4th.

Details for the Fizz10 are on the poster below.

The Runaway writers have been invited to play a part in the Short Story week events being organised by the Grace Dieu Writers Group in Coalville Leicestershire on 10th November. The evening will be a meeting of four writers groups with the Charnwood Writers and the Ashby Writers also taking part. Each group has selected 3 short stories from their members to take along to be read to the audience on the evening.

My short story about Absinthe drinkers – The Green Fairy, along with Kirstie Brooks story – Chocolate and Dea Costelloe’s story -Taking Her Chance were all selected by the Runaway Writers members to be the stories we will take along.

I am really looking forward to meeting with other writers in the Midlands; it is rare that these opportunities occur, where we can share our work with a wider readership. Writers groups tend to get focussed on their own activities, which after an initial momentum of excitement and expeditions developing writers into breaking new ground, can often see the group settle into a comfort zone as the momentum does not progress beyond its initial force. New members can often bring a new vitality to prevent stagnation but new members are not coming along all the time and it would be a lot to ask of them to bring a new dynamic to the group; many are new writers and are looking for help and guidance which the group can give them.

I have always seen The Runaway Writers as a progressive group, who have always sought to network and collaborate with different groups and to try and keep things fresh and to push individuals into writing realms which they would not have otherwise considered. Through the support and attitude of the members writers are encouraged to experiment.

An evening with these other well respected writing groups is most welcome, it not only allows us to benchmark our work against other pieces being produced by local writers, it also develops new friendships which are always welcome. I would like to thank the Grace Dieu Writers for organising it.

Tonight (Monday) sees me reading at the Shindig at the Western in Leicester as one of the guest poets alongside Jane Commane, Charles Lauder and Wayne Burrows – I am really looking forward to it, it is an event that I have been to a couple of times, it always has an appreciative audience and some great poets reading from the floor.

My LOST POET for this week is Sir John Beaumont (1583 -1627)

My interest in Sir John Beaumont the first baronet is many fold, he was not only a contemporary of Michael Drayton but also a good friend. He was born at Grace Dieu Manor close to the Priory from which the Grace Dieu writers mentioned above take their name. It was his son also Sir John who published the elders poem of The Battle of Bosworth, which is also of interest to me due to my Yorkshire ancestry.

Sir John was born in 1583 and at Grace Dieu Manor in Leicestershire, He was the second son of Sir Francis Beaumont and Anne Pierrepoint, He was educated at Oxford University, which saw him admitted to the Inner Temple at around 1600.

Following the death of his father and then his elder brother he found himself the head of a creative family, his younger brother was the dramatist Francis Beaumont who was also acquainted with Drayton and was a student of Ben Jonson. Grace Dieu is not that far from Polesworth in Warwickshire and it makes me wonder if the Beaumont’s were ever guests of the Goodere’s and the Polesworth Circle.

Francis Beaumont - the dramatist brother of the poet Sir John Beaumont

Sir John lived for many years as bachelor eventually marrying a Catholic, Elizabeth Fortesque; their sympathies towards the Catholic faith saw them fined for recusancy for refusing to attend Anglican services.

He began writing poetry in around 1602 – in his poem Metamorphosis of Tabacco, a mock heroic poem in smooth couplets which he published anonymously, which he dedicates to both his brother and to Michael Drayton as his loving friend.

His poem on Bosworth with its heroic couplets whilst a fine piece of Elizabethan verse, pales a little in the comparison of that of Shakespeare’s treatment of the subject in Richard III. It is the focus on this single event in the Wars of the Roses that makes it interesting. The content has differing detail to Shakespeare and while not contradicting – it adds more colour to the picture of this battle. It is also worth considering the sources of Beaumont’s version, presumably some of it from Shakespeare, who in turn used Holinshed’s chronicles, which Beaumont may also have referred too. But let’s not forget Grace Dieu is only a few miles from Bosworth, that Beaumont will have had access to some of the family histories, the stories passed down through the Digby’s of Coleshill for example. These may not have been available to the commoner Shakespeare and so therefore Beaumont is able to add further detail, be it second or third hand, but never-the-less some elements of truth surrounding the events of the 22nd August 1485.

Sir John died at Grace Dieu in 1827, he was succeeded by his son also Sir John, he was killed at the Siege of Gloucester in 1643 and was succeeded by the third and final Baronet of Grace Dieu Sir Thomas, on whose death in 1686 the Beaumont Baronetcy of Grace Dieu was extinct.

But this is not the end of the link with poetry and Grace Dieu – for a new creation of the Beaumont Baronetcy saw the Beaumont’s of Staughton Grange, who made their home at nearby Coleorton Hall, The 7th Baronet Sir George Beaumont was keen artist who befriended the Lakeland Poets, It was on a visit to Coleorton Hall that William Wordsworth wrote these lines on Grace Dieu Priory.

“Beneath yon eastern ridge, the craggy bound,
Rugged and high, of Charnwood’s forest ground,
Stand yet, but, Stranger, hidden from thy view
The ivied ruins of forlorn Grace Dieu,
Erst a religious House, which day and night
With hymns resounded and the chanted rite.”

An on-line copy of the poems of Sir John Beaumont can be found at:


October Readings

24th Oct – Shindig, Leicester.– I will be a guest poet at this event.

November Readings and Workshops

1st Nov – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry – Guests The Cork Poets
3rd Nov – The Fizz – Tithe Barn Polesworth. Guests The Cork Poets
25th Nov – Spoken Worlds – Burton – Guest Ash Dickinson

The next Fizz is on THURSDAY 3rd November at the TYTHE BARN in Polesworth when we will have as our guest poets Afric McGlinchey, Colm Scully and Jennifer Matthews from CORK in Ireland.

Please note that this is a change of day and location from the normal Fizz events.


5th November
Words for Peace
Coventry Central Library, Smithford Way, Coventry CV1 1FY
An afternoon of poetry workshops run by local poets Antony Owen and Mal Dewhirst. Coventry schoolchildren will use war poems from Owen’s “Dreaded Boy” and selected famous war poetry to explore the themes of peace and reconciliation today. Influenced by what they have read and discussed the young people will create a collaborative poem as well as their own individual poems on what peace and reconciliation means to them. The poems will then the subject of an exhibition throughout the rest of 2011 in the Central Library. It is hoped that this exhibition will go on to show at other venues at a later date. Time: 12noon – 4.00pm – This event is by invitation only through local Coventry Schools.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The woman who tried to park her car in the boot of my car, this morning – too fast – too close.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The FIZZ on Tuesday.


HydranoidMusia – Sept 2011 Releases.


Last weeks blog was a consolidating experience that enabled me to get my thoughts on the Polesworth Abbey dig clear and as such ended the walking the subject process. Having written the blog I went on to produce five poems on the dig theme, which were critiqued at the Mad Hatters Writers on Wednesday and the Runaway Writers on Thursday – with a few minor tweaks they were read at Spoken Worlds on Friday.

The themes of the poems explored the context of the past being opened up in the present, which is the purpose of an Archaeological dig. The first Elegy takes the view point of the spirit of skeletal remains of the old nun as she tries to make sense of the 21st century world that she finds herself awoken too.

The Archaeological Strata of Polesworth Abbey is a poem that uses a form developed by Hench-4 for the Pooley country park site. The form lays down poems to reflect geological strata, each one sitting in top of the other.

My poem is designed with more archaeological features and sees words butt up against each other like walls built a different periods of time. The poem also has no obvious starting point, which reflects the archaeologist’s dilemma as to where to put the trench.

It is meant to be read from the page where the reader digs their trench into the poem and then makes an interpretation of the meaning based upon the words that are found in the trench. The layers of words and half-words sit like walls, tiles and broken pots providing several differing poetic offerings as to what is happening or where the meaning lies.

The content of my poem is very specific to the Polesworth Abbey site, as it should be for this small collection, I think other sites would offer further opportunities to develop the use and structure of this form. It is a very interesting poetically and needs to be explored further, which is something that I will do in the future.

My further three shorter poems explore the dig in context of the mound in the churchyard, with a concrete poem, Dispelling Mound Myths.

The extraction of sand and gravel which was highlighted by of all things, clay Pipes, with Clay Pipe Dreams and finally the development and use of utilitarian pottery, with Midland Purple.

Overall, I am pleased with the results and I am considering putting together a small anthology with these poems and others that I know are being considered and written by other poets. If anyone has any poems that reflect the Polesworth dig and they want to be considered for inclusion into a potential anthology then please do contact me.

As I said earlier it was Spoken Worlds in Burton on Friday, the monthly evening at the Old Cottage Inn, run so expertly by Gary Carr. There is a review of the evening by Gary Longdon at Behind-The-Arras.

The next Spoken Worlds will be on Friday 14th October with its normal three halves with a real mix of poetic and dramatic voices, as there is not just poetry, but also short plays and sketches and the occasional short story. It is well worth attending and a good space for new readers to gain confidence or for experienced readers to try new material.

In November, Spoken Worlds will have a guest poet with a performance from the fantastic Ash Dickenson, who is currently on a tour of Canada. Ash’s performance at Spoken Worlds is not one to be missed.

Gary Longdon’s review can be found at:

Saturday saw a trip to the cinema to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which is not a film for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed. It is the thinking person’s spy movie, so if you like your spies to be like James Bond then this might not be for you; I suspect that this film is more realistic in its portrayal of the world on spies in the Cold War.

It is has some excellent performances from a highly respected cast. Gary Oldman making the role his own, despite it already being defined by the wonderful performance of Alec Guinness in the TV series.

It stays true to the plot of John Le Carre’s book and only diverts in two aspects as far as I could tell, once with location at the beginning of the film, the book is set in Czechoslovakia and the film Hungary and secondly at the end, the book only hints at who performs the final shooting where as the film makes it clear.

An excellent couple of hours of tension, with prolonged shots on the characters faces that makes you want to get inside their heads to see what they are thinking, to see how Smiley is piecing together the intelligence to flush out the spy in the Circus.

I remember the TV series stretched out over seven hour long episodes, with the long silences, shabby rooms and characters who to all intents and purposes are respectable, whose passage through the street would appear uninteresting to most but in reality they are playing a bigger game. The game that sees scrutiny, analysis, thought and the nature of intelligence gathering with its precarious dangers and the uncertain blurred boundaries between loyalty and treason, friendship and foe. The film does not disappoint.

A friend of mine, Kirstie Brooks suggested on Facebook that you should sit close to back of the theatre for this film – if only to see everyone jump and the same time. – I thought it was just me.

This is well worth going to see, it is cinema at its best in my opinion and I do hope we see follow ups of Le Carre’s other Smiley novels The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People.

Antony Owen will be reading at the Fizz tomorrow night and will be performing his poems from his latest collection the Dreaded Boy to an accompaniment of music. To facilitate this I got together with my son Jimi, yesterday to work through the sound set up for the evening. Whilst my garage won’t have the same ambience and acoustics of the refectory at the Abbey, we were able to work out the base settings for the music and the mic which we can tweak when we are there.

As I have mentioned before Jimi runs HydranoidMusia which produces Audio Vista’s, he does not refer to it as music as any sound has a potential to be included in the tracks that he produces and the result may not be what is understood by listeners to be music.

HydranoidMusia uses the tag line “Creating Audio Vistas from the DNA of Sound” and Jimi along with the producer Mike Six who also produces for them want to develop tracks that are not just seen as stand alone pieces but something that enhances another art form, such as film. They see Sound as Art – not just audio pleasantries designed to entertain and make a profit.

Jimi takes the view that there is so much sound in our lives that we filter out, some of which has been tagged as Noise Pollution. Jimi sees there only being sound or noise, some of it pleasant or relevant to the listener, some of it less so. If there is such a thing as pollution as noise, then his view is we should recycle it. The result should be not necessarily something that is nice but something that triggers an emotion, which makes you think; that stirs the right action.

We got talking about its use in poetry performance, which I have seen becoming more widely used in the last 12 months. I have seen many poets use standard musical forms, from Jazz to Ambient music to augment their poetry readings. Sometimes it works well, but sometimes you get the impression that the music is masking weak poetry or performance.

I hasten to add that Antony is not included in this category as his set works really well with the frank, unapologetic words of the reality of war and its effects on soldiers and civilians gives an enhanced resonance when performed with the musical backdrop.

There is however a risk that poetic arts become song writing exercises and that the music creates the magic and not the words, (I think I have said before that there are very few lyric writers who I would consider a poet.) That performance becomes a poor Karaoke.

Jimi’s view is that the sound vista has to be developed as a response to (or vice versa) or in conjunction with the poem, that although they can each sit as individual pieces, the result of putting them together enhances the audience experience of both, such that there is a greater artistic result.

I am very much in agreement with these views and that true collaboration between cross-art forms means that artists have to step out of their world thinking and into the world of their collaborators. It is only then that the true enhancements of the art forms deliver the potential greatness of the piece. It is 2+2=5 where the result of the collaboration is greater than the sum of the individual collaborators. The buzz word in corporate worlds used to be “Synergy”.

Both Jimi and I are keen to explore this further with poets, so if you are interested adding sound vistas to your performance then by all means contact us.

I will return with a LOST POETS next week.


September Readings

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

Some advanced dates for October

4th Oct Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry.
Guest Poets Janet Smith and David Calcutt.
8th Oct – 100000 Poets for Change – Birmingham
14th Oct – Spoken Worlds Burton.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

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

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Elford Ale and Folk Festival.


Mirage – Camel


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

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

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

Please do try and come along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some links for the Bush Poets.

The Australian Bush Poets Association

The Man from the Snowy River – By Banjo Paterson.

Banjo Paterson’s biography at all down under.

Website for Dorethea Mackellar

Biography for Henry Lawson


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

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

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