Posts Tagged ‘Antony Owen’


What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Potential New Projects.


Morse Code.


Two great workshops last week on Friday and Saturday,

The First on Friday saw Jenny Hope explore all the senses with the exception of Sight, in her workshops entitled “ALL TO OFTEN WE ONLY SEE WITH OUR EYES”

Jenny’s workshop in full thought

Participants who came from Polesworth, Lichfield and Burton, were encouraged to close their eyes and engage with the archaeology through the use of all their other senses.

Jenny also explored the Act of Uncovering looking at the disgarded soil with a poem being written that described the motion of a bucket as the earth is removed and then tipped on the spoil heap.

This was followed on Saturday with my workshop on the ARCHAEOLOGY OF POETRY which used a strata of words associated with Polesworth, including Latin Plain Song, The Cloud of Unknowing, The works of Drayton, Donne and Jonson, the poem Little Jim by Edward Farmer and some of the lines from the Poets Trail poems.

A strata of words

Participants were asked to consider that process of the Archaeologist and to dig a trench into the strata and extract the words into finds trays, these were then used to create new poems.

Terri Jolland – a poetry archaeologist.

I them introduced his strata poem from last year, this was compared in structure with the original poem using the strata form by Hench-4 that will soon be seen on the Poets Trail.

The participants were asked to describe objects from the dig as a single line and then to lay out the lines as strata in a new poem.



I am still looking for Limericks on the theme of Archaeology, these will be judged by the Archaeologists.

I am also looking for words to be included in a poem. Visit the Dig the Abbey website (www.digtheabbey.co.uk ) and take a look at the activities and send me your words as impressions of what you see. Also tell me where you are located in the world so that I can estimate how far your words have come to Polesworth using MapCrow.

You can enter by sending your words and limericks to maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk.


There has been much interest in Dig the Poetry with many poets signing up for the workshop, if you want to take part then either sign up at www.digtheabbey.co.uk  or email me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

Polesworth a Place for Poetry – Dig the Poetry – 2012.
DIG THE POETRY WORKSHOPS – All from 10:00 – 14:00

Fri 10th Aug – EDGES with MATT MERRITT



Sat 1st Sept – STRATAS with JO BELL

PLUS POETRY EXHIBITION ON THE HERITAGE OPEN DAYS 7th – 9th Sept – with Readings on Sat 8th Sept.

These workshops are an exciting unique opportunity to discover new themes in response to the Archaeology and I would encourage all writers, from beginners to published poets and authors to come along and find your muse.

There will be opportunities throughout the dig for writers to go along and observe making notes or creating new pieces in the peaceful haven of the Abbey grounds so even if you can’t make the workshops do find sometime to go along and soak it all up.



From 3rd to 31st August

Antony Owen reading at Night Blue Fruit.

This is a contemporary fusion of eleven Haiku by my good friend the Coventry Poet Antony Owen and photography by Daniel O’Toole to commemorate the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. – The exhibition will be attended tonight by representatives from Hiroshima and the Coventry Lord Mayor’s department for Peace and Reconciliation.

There is also a display of artwork from the Hiroshima survivors recollections.


Dave Reeves says:

“So we hope you’ll join us to appreciate an exclusive interview with poet Nick Toczek discussing stolen lines, plagiarism and the (Baby)shambles of a court case he’s just been through to get due credit for his words – just one of the items on this month’s edition of Radio Wildfire Live!

Also in the show there’ll be a poem from Longbarrow Press’ Rob Hindle; a superb poetry and sax track from LA based Frances Livings; and an extended poetic field improvisation of from Mark Goodwin. The Bunbury Banter Theatre Company will be bringing us social satire with Conception, a play by Tony C.Pearson and Terry Kitching. And there’ll be the latest edition of Mal Dewhirst’s The Lost Poets: this episode featuring the Japanese Poet Matsuo Basho. Plus more uploads, sourced texts and delvings into our back catalogue including Tom Sykes reading live in Bristol about life in a seaside town.

Then at 10.00pm there’ll be the latest edition of Jan Watts’ Irons In The Fire, her musings about life as Birmingham’s Poet Laureate.

Join us: Monday 6th August from 8.00 pm UK time at www.radiowildfire.com
Radio Wildfire: appreciating in value like any fine whine.”


Is it really twelve months since my wonderful trip to Cork and the readings at O’Bheal and the Whitehouse in Limerick?

This year the honour of representing Coventry on the trip to Cork goes to Jayne Stanton and Janet Smith both of whom are worthy representatives, whose poetry will be a delight to the Irish poets. They will have a wonderful time under the guidance of Paul Casey whose relentless work in promoting poetry in Cork and the rest of Ireland is to be much praised and admired.

We of course will look forward to the return trip when the Cork Poets visit us in November with readings at Night Blue Fruit in Coventry and at The Fizz in Polesworth.


I am hoping to be able to stage an afternoon of poetry performance at Cromford Mill in Derbyshire next spring. The theme will be around the project previously mentioned on this blog GRAFT.

GRAFT incorporates the lives of working men and women in mines, mills, factories, fields and workshops that made this country the workshop of the world and saw the first industrial revolution, that was so expertly depicted in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony of the Olympics.

The lives of poets such as Alfred Williams, Tommy Armstrong and Ann Moss provide the inspiration to create a new narrative performance piece through contemporary poetry.

If you are interested in contributing to this project then please contact me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk.


My delight of the week – Well I can’t say anything at the moment apart from I am talking to several people over the coming weeks about some really interesting exciting projects. Watch this blog.


Readings in August and September

7th August – Night Blue Fruit at Taylor John’s House, Coventry
24th August – Spoken Worlds at The Old Cottage Inn – Burton on Trent.

8th September – THE FIZZ at Polesworth Abbey celebrates DIG THE ABBEY through DIG THE POETRY – readings start at 3:30pm.


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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Empty Spaces

What is DELIGHTING me this week?






Silence and Darkness fell upon the stage
Where kindred souls had danced and played
The story was told of the Desolate “Pink”
To leave the outside world to Think !
Mark Peterson
Lead Singer Floydian Slip

Mark Peterson

Mark’s words capture the real essence of what we did last week and now find ourselves trying to navigate those Empty Spaces that now surround us.

The Wall at Tamworth Assembly Rooms ran for three performances last week to sell out audiences, audiences that were taken by surprise and left with a lasting memory of a performance that captured the spirit of the times and made people think. One of the placards in the show read OCCUPY YOUR MIND; I think we have occupied many people’s minds not only with the themes, but also with what a small group of enthusiastic, committed talents in our communities can achieve.

Several quotes from the people who saw the show left us realising that we had done something special, something that had made a difference.

“Wow, I did not expect that, a cracking night”


“This should be playing to bigger audiences, on bigger stages”

“I have seen shows in the West End, that were not as good as that”

“beaming with pride and respect for your accomplishment of the Pink Floyd show what a visceral experience. Luke as Pink began so oppressed and ended up like a Shakespearean tragedy. The transformation was affecting”

“.if Orwell was at the Pink Floyd show in Tamworth Assembly Rooms he would have shook the organisers hands and said good job”

“Roger Waters would be proud of what was performed tonight”

“This was a brave thing to attempt and how well it worked”

“I want to be part of the next show you do, I wish I had been in this one”

“You have set the bar for community arts projects; people are going to have to up their game”

Simon Quinn’s version of THE WALL differs from Roger Waters original as Simon explores both the Darkside and the Lightside of lives in today’s communities.

Set on a fictitious housing estate somewhere in the West Midlands, The opening sees The Tramp (Played by Steve Jones), as the drunken wise man who tells it as it is, but then gets lost in his own demons that means no one listens to him.
We find Pink (played by Luke Comley and his gang The Dark Side terrorising the estate with antisocial behaviour racism and violence. The first act explains why Pink) has taken this path. He lost his Father in the War in Afghanistan, he has two Mothers in his head, and either would have caused him to lose his way. The first is the over-protective mother, lost in her own mourning and keeping her husbands heroism alive. The Second with her string of boyfriends who sees Pink as blighting her life. Then there is the Education System, represented by the teacher (Played by Gareth Pugh), a system that failed him, tied up with League tables that leave no place for teachers to deal with individual needs and creativity. We see Pink in dysfunctional relationships which the community, the gang and his lovers. All these become the metaphoric bricks from which Pink builds the wall.

Pink with Two Gates Primary School


The second act starts with a tableau of voices that haunt Pink’s head, picking up the themes of the first act. The story then proceeds with the Gangs attempts to bring Pink back, they bring him gifts that are important to him, they show their respect, but they get no response. They then inspect him like the media pulling apart a celebrity finding nothing in the darkness; they try to explore his mind with flashlights only to have them reflected back as Pink tries to defend his self imposed isolation. The gang finally see they have lost him and call for the doctor who tranquilises him. Pink slumped in an almost comatic state as the Band play Comfortably Numb which saw a seminal moment at the Friday performance when Mark Peterson came forward to rest his arms over Luke’s shoulders as the voice and body of Pink melded in an empathetic show of subdued pain. As Pink revives he finds a final revitalisation leading to the uprising of the Darkside, underpinned by the footage of the riots of last year, followed by the challenge of the residents as Pink becomes not just a disaffected youth, but represents bankers and financers whose actions ruined the world economy. As Pink realises the vile error of his ways and is found guilty as charged when put on trial. So the Wall is torn down.

Pink the Voice and Pink the body meld in an empathy of subdued pain

Themes of feigned disability, corrupt practices, failure of governments and the obsession with Celebrity culture interspersed with the Cult of Me are all explored to show how society disintegrates and our young people create their own futures as disaffected individuals with cracked values and no ambition, find their way into the world.


The scenes are built through physical theatre at its very best. Choreographed by Ami Radcliffe, who drove the dancers from the stunningly brilliant Tamworth Youth Dance Company and The Wall Contemporary Dance Group along with the cast from the community, to push themselves, to create uncompromising action sculptures in her relentless dedication to achieving perfection. Her toughness and constant assertion that they could achieve the highest standards paid off as the cast took ownership of the piece. This was matched by the equal toughness of Simon’s direction of the actors in the hours of rehearsals and workshops. Simon had the vision in the first place, he knew what this represented and how it should be delivered. No excuses were acceptable, both Ami and Simon could deliver the parts themselves and so raised the level of expectation. I have much respect for them as masters of their individual crafts and in the process of developing this production I have gained so much knowledge and experience from working along side them.

Mixed in with the theatre and the music was my contribution of poems and films, often expressing the lightside, with the good Mums of Tamworth, or reinforcing the messages with the poems of Antony Owen and my own Thin Ice.


Floydian Slip

Floydian Slip delivered the Pink Floyd sound, nailing every riff, melody and vocal with accomplished precision. Very tight and accurate in their performance, that saw fantastic drive rhythm section of Simon Hall on Bass and Wayne Bolland on Drums providing the foundation for the brilliance of Gaz Bedford on Keys and the Guitars of Andy Ashley and Phil Wright. Mark Peterson’s wonderful vocal performance telling this austere tale with all the expression of a true storyteller.

Floydian Slip are not only the UK’s no 1 Pink Floyd tribute act they are in my eyes the best anywhere, sure there are others out there, some who play arena’s, they can all I am sure create the authentic sound of the Floyd. But would any of the others have taken six months out from gigging to focus on delivering the excellence of THE WALL that they did. Would any of the others have become a cohesive part of a team of creative people who invested sweat and graft, physical effort and creative thought and a total belief in what we were doing, that this meant something special and would make people think, this really would make a difference. I am not sure they would. Floydian Slip did, they are now part of the Tamworth Community, part of its history.

I should mention also the contributions of Two Gates Primary School who delivered Brick in the Wall pt2 with a natural talent to charm. Luke, Steve and Gareth all of whom had never acted before took to their roles with an enthusiasm to challenge themselves to deliver performances that would have been the pride of professional actors with many years experience.

It is true that Luke has lived the role of Pink since he got it in March, often being seen around town in his signature great coat.

Also Tamworth Voices, ten of whom joined the production for the Thursday and Friday performances adding an extra dimension to the sound filling the Assembly rooms with a rich blend of melodic beauty.

Tamworth Voices

Full credit must also be given to the tech crew of Jem McCauley, Jock Ross, Ron Pyle and Andy Palmer whose control of sound and light was perfect and to Rachel and Emma Smith who managed the props and costumes ensuring everything was in the right place at the right time.

The other film maker Sean Miller produced some stunning footage of the National Memorial Arboretum and Lichfield Day Care Centres as the jury at the trial.

South Staffordshire College made the giant puppet of the Teacher and the large hypodermic needle along with the two backdrops of the graffitied wall, all too fantastic effect.

I will finish with praise for the Arts Team as Tamworth Borough Council, Elanor Thompson, Laura Hastilow and Hannah McKenzie who produced the production. Firstly for sharing the vision and being brave enough to take up Simon’s idea. Secondly for trusting us to deliver even though at time I am not sure they saw how all of the parts would come together. Finally for their support and encouragement.

This was an uncompromised, gritty piece of real theatre, although it did have a good outcome, it did not suggest a happy ending. The plight of the characters remains unexplained as does Roger Waters characters. Lives were portrayed within a framework of real and relevant themes. The audience were not left with a feel good factor, but with something to think about, which is where I came in with Mark’s quote.

I tweeted on Wednesday night that Tamworth had rocked like no town ever had before, that something really special had happened and that the world was a better place for it, I genuinely believe that that is true.

PHOTOCREDITS – Floydian Slip and Andy Palmer.

If you missed the show then you can get a flavour here

For reviews and interview on the Production use the following links.
Interview with Simon
Interview with Mal

First Night Review from Gary Longden
First Night Review from James Longden
Last Night Review from Rae Gee

Floydian Slip can be found at:


Dance Sculpture

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Temperamental Software

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The buzz of creativity


Solo – Edgar Froese


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

I have not mentioned this for a while and the event will soon be on us. Mars on the Rise 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/


Tomorrow, 1st May sees Polesworth Poets Trail poet Sarah James headline at Nightblue Fruit in Coventry.

Taylor John’s House, The Canal Basin – Coventry – 8:00pm – Bar plus Open Mic.


THE WALL – TAMWORTH 2012 is an Arts Connects – Fired Up Theatre production that sees the arts team at Tamworth Borough Council working along side Staffordshire’s Premier Community theatre company.

This is a courageous project that brings together community artists and provides a platform for excellence in the delivery of the arts in the town. This to me is what Council Arts teams should be doing in regenerating artistic activities in towns, providing collaborative opportunities for artistic development and then showcasing the results.

This show will have the effect of waking people up not only to the issues that the show explores but also how much talent there is in town. It will be a show where those artists and performers who perhaps thought about being part of it, but then for what ever reason did not get involved, will take a step back and go WOW; I wish I had been part of that.

This production is only the second time the Wall has been performed as a show by anyone other than Pink Floyd. The first show was at The MAC in Birmingham about ten years ago and very much followed the original material. This show sees the original music performed by Floydian Slip but to a new, updated script written by Simon Quinn that brings in contemporary themes. Ami Radcliffe of Radcliffe Dance is bringing brand new choreography to the piece. The show also introduces new poetry delivered as film or sound pieces. The show is performed by a cast from the local community that brings together actors, dancers, singers, poets, film makers and artists as well as backstage technicians, wardrobe team and promotions. All collaborating on delivering the biggest show that Tamworth has ever produced.

Community Poems
Last week saw the final Community Café workshop with twenty community members of all ages taking part in creating new lines in response to the Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb. I have planned out their sound poem on paper but have yet to compile it, a job for tonight. – I then have to take the lines of all three poems and create a final piece to be included in the show, but I need a day or so to think that one through.

Floydian Slip
Thursday evening saw the Director, Simon Quinn and myself travel up to Chesterfield to meet with the band Floydian Slip at their rehearsal room. Our purpose was to map out the first act to match the music to the action and dance. We also needed to make the spaces between the songs for the film and sound poems. The real delight was to have one of the original Floyd tribute bands provide a personal performance the whole of the first act. It was an absolute surreal experience and I look forward to going back in a couple of weeks to map out the second act and then working with them on the shows.

Poetry War Film
Saturday and a chance to get the camera out and record some poetry. The shoot took place at Tamworth Assembly Rooms and saw the first use of my backdrop to allow me to create a composite montage of poetry and war.

Antony Owen, the Coventry War poet came along to read the poems for the film, delivering some Wilfred Owen, August Stramm and his own poetry. Antony is great to work with and his performance was professional and accomplished. I much appreciated him changing the town in the original poem to be Tamworth so that the piece for the show is specific to the town. I think this has a real impact, it brings it home, makes people think about how close the war and conflict in distant lands can come into our lives.

Antony delivered excellent performances in a few takes that allowed time for us to experiment with some of his other poems and ways to express them on screen; I am really looking forward to working with these films in the future.

Yesterday saw my temperamental software give me a headache all day as it failed to render the finished result of Antony’s performance overlaid with footage from World War I. I finally managed to get it sorted at 10:00pm last night and rendered the first draft, and even if I do say so myself I really quite pleased with it.

THE WALL is being staged at THE ASSEMBLY ROOMS IN TAMWORTH – 6-8th June 2012 – Tickets are on sale from the box office or through the web, check THE ASSEMBLY ROOMS website for details.


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

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

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


Readings in May

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

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

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The COLD wind.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Edit.


Exile on Main St – Rolling Stones.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sea

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

My well read copy


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

You would not want to see the poet dance!


6. I like to drink Newcastle Brown Ale.

The Poet's tipple

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on my lost poets in a next week.


Readings in February

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

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The sound of TV Ads

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Some New Poems


Walkin Man – The best of Seasick Steve.


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

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

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

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

Birmingham's Gun Quarter

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

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

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

Radio Wildfire Production Team in Action

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

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

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

Recording Lost Poets without the headphones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on my lost poets in a couple of weeks.


Readings in February

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

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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?

A spot on my cheek.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The visit of the Cork Poets


Steampunk tracks
YouTube links:


It was a wonderful week of poetry last week. It started on Tuesday with the arrival of our guest poets from Cork, Afric McGlinchey, Colm Scully and Jennifer Matthews, as part of the Coventry-Cork literature exchange, which I was honoured to participate in back in August and wrote on this blog about what a wonderful uplifting experience I had.

The return visit in the month that sees Coventry celebrating its annual Peace Festival, started with the reading at NightBlue Fruit at Taylor John’s House, the music venue that turns itself over to poetry on the first Tuesday of the month. The performance area is a small stage, surrounded by lost armchairs that have found a home under the arches of this once canal coal bunker, it is a faded, shabby setting that is very befitting of such events – poetry sits well here, in a way they it would not in the fake veneered shine of a hotel conference room.

The stage was set with a chair and a mic and a lamp stand, which had wandered in from if not my then someone’s Grandmother’s sitting room, standing guard, providing mute light and quietly applauding the nights events with the shake of its tasselled hat.

Nightblue Fruit - The Stage is set!

The readings were excellent and have been discussed in Gary Longden’s review at Behind the Arras, you can see it here. http://behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices.html#Cork

Wednesday and the poets had a day off, to explore for themselves, which meant that they could take the bus to Stratford to breathe in the atmosphere of the currently beleaguered Shakespeare, the current film at the cinema was ignored like it was some anonymous little voice that was spreading rumours built on unfounded facts. As the poets explored Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and the delights of a Stratford standing up to defend its claims.

Thursday was another busy day for the exchange, well afternoon and evening, days don’t start early for poets but do tend to go on later into the night. The afternoon started with a visit with the Mayor of Coventry, who charmed us with his tales of his recent visit to Cork, how he mastered the art of eating oysters at the local oyster festival, his Irish ancestry and the importance of the twinning links and the cultural exchanges that the Coventry Cork Literature exchange brings to Coventry. Gifts were exchanged and photographs taken and thanks were given for all the support from the City Councils, O’Bheal and Nightblue Fruit.

The reading in the evening was the Fizz in Polesworth, so I took the opportunity to take the poets to see the Poets Trail in the mid to late afternoon, explaining the significance of the trail, showing them the Fireplace where Drayton and Donne et al had written their verses, 400 years ago. By the time the sun had set, early at this time of year we had covered seven of the first ten installations and I had given impromptu readings of some of the poems to the poets and any other passers by who are perhaps used to the oddity of poetry readings on the High St and in Car Parks by now.

After a spot of dinner at the Red Lion in Atherstone, we headed back to the Tithe Barn for the reading which was supported by a fairly large appreciative audience (large for the Fizz) – with several new voices reading from the floor. The evening started with the three poets from Cork, who were so popular that they we asked for an encore after the open mic in the second half, for which Colm Scully gave in to our requests and performed God’s Footballer. There were lots of appreciative comments on the web networks later including one that said it was inspiring and the best Fizz ever, comments like that make it all worth while and are a reward in themselves.

You can read Gary Longden’s review of the Fizz at: http://behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices.html#FIZZnov

Friday saw the final full day of the Cork visiting poets in Coventry and we were booked to do an interview and readings on local radio at Hillz FM with the wonderful Kate Hills. Her easy going technique puts you at ease, with the mic’s slightly above our heads; she stands and faces you, so that you talk as if you are just holding a conversation in the room. We were booked in from 11-12 with chat and music of our choosing. The hour flew by with the interview with the Cork poets followed by myself. By 12 there was a look of concern on Kate’s face and it soon became apparent that her guests for the second hour had not turned up, so she asked us to stay and fill the hour with more poetry and chat, which we were only too happy to do – it was a wonderful couple of hours.

Thank you to Afric, Colm and Jennifer for their excellent performances also to Paul Casey and Antony Owen for organising the exchange and to Gary Longden for his reviews and to all those who attended the readings and gave their support. I look forward to this exchange continuing long into the future.

Mal Dewhirst, Jennifer Matthews, Afric McGlinchey, Colm Scully and Antony Owen after the Fizz

Both Brian Langtry and Gary Carr attended the Fizz and I was more than happy to promote both of their forthcoming events. Here are the details for those who missed them.

Brian’s Event.
15th November – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club at the Goblin Cafe – Ashby de la Zouch.

Gary’s Event.
25th Nov – Spoken Worlds – The Old Cottage Tavern – Burton-on-Trent – Guest Ash Dickinson.

The Creator by Wendy Morthorpe

STEAMPUNK – what does that mean to you? Well if you are like me, until recently it was a genre of writing that continued where H.G.Wells and Jules Verne left Victorian Science Fiction but it was not something I had explored beyond that.

It is interesting that as a Poet – I would not write in the same form as say Wordsworth, as poets we are always looking for a new voice and that is what a modern poetry audience expects, “we already appreciate Wordsworth, we want to hear something new”.

So why do Steampunk writers such as Philip Pullman, adopt the genre of Wells and Verne and write novels as if they had been written in the Victorian period, using 21st century technology that is powered by steam or clockwork?

Well it could be argued that Wells and Verne created classic tales but only a few of them in comparison to other genre’s of science fiction and therefore it is an under discovered medium for novel settings.

But is also has the freedom to explore ideas around changed pasts, using technology that we all understand in the 21st century and many of us use in our daily lives, but putting into a time when it would have been seen as magical, mystical even the work of the devil, however it is still a device, a force, to change the course of history.

Steampunk is very big in the USA, most of the major publishers are based there, and most of the British writers of the genre have moved to work over in the states for this reason.

None of this was apparent to me until a writer friend of mine, Rach Gee, whose Steampunk novel, Mars on the Rise is due for publication early in the new year, explained why her publisher was launching it in the USA, but did not have a budget to fund a launch in the UK, despite her being a British writer, living in Britain.

The Steampunk market is not the mainstream so I can see why as a small to medium sized publisher they are going to invest their marketing efforts to where they see the biggest return.

Always being one to seek out opportunities, I thought that there must be something that could be done to create a small but spectacular launch for the book in the UK, after all we Brits are good at creating things on next to nothing (most artists will tell you that) so I along with another artistic friend set about looking at how this could be achieved.

Mars on the Rise 100
We have come up with inviting 100 people to donate £20 to become one of the Mars on the Rise 100 sponsors – for this advanced payment, sponsors will get a signed copy of the book, with some limited edition promotional materials plus an invite to the launch party but most importantly they will be recognised as the sponsors who had the faith to help make this happen.

The response has been amazing with people signing up even before we had fully thought out what the rewards would be for being a sponsor.

There are still opportunities for people to sign up to this – details are below on how to contact Rach or alternatively just email me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk and I will pass on your details. Or check out the Facebook page.

This will be a fantastic event, in an unusual space, with opportunities for you to dress up in Victorian Costume (if you want to – it is not mandatory) Plenty of theatre and colour. We will keep you informed through the on-line mediums as things develop and I will continue to keep you updated on this blog.

And Hey if you don’t fancy Steampunk – it will make a great Christmas present for someone who does or perhaps they don’t know that yet. Why not introduce yourself or a friend to something new.

I will return to my LOST POETS in a couple of week’s time.


November Readings:

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

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