Posts Tagged ‘Janet Smith’


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?

Apps that become demanding children – ITunes and Spotify you know who you are!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Community Café Workshops.




An early post this week as I have a lot of things I want to promote.


Tamworth will see a fantastic production of Pink Floyd’s THE WALL over four days at the beginning of June.

The production which is collaboration between Fired Up Theatre / Tamworth Borough Council and the local community is a new interpretation of this Magnus Opus from the Floyd.

The interpretation features a new script, poetry, dance and actors drawn from the local community to explore the themes of isolation, delusion, seclusion and loneliness and how it impacts people in their daily lives.

For my part I am creating new poetry both from my own pen and also in collaboration with the Community Cafés. The poems will be performed using a variety of media from film to sound pieces to word displays.

Last week saw my first workshop with the community café in Wilnecote where a cross generational group gathered to discuss the song Comfortably Numb and to create new lines in response to the song, these were recorded and I am now putting together a sound poem from the event. I will be running two further workshops in Amington and Belgrave over the coming weeks.

Poetry Workshop at Wilnecote - (c) Community Cafe

In addition I will be supporting the Creative Director, Simon Quinn and the dance choreographer Amy Radcliffe in producing the show

You can find more about the production at:

Tickets are on sale now and since being promoted on The Pink Floyd News website are selling well, so it is best to book early to get the date for the performance that you want to attend.

The performance dates are 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th June – To book tickets follow the link:

You can use the calendar on the right to select the date of the performance that you wish to attend. Tickets are £8:00 (£6.00 Concessions Details are on the website.)


John Donne - depicted 3 years after writing Good Friday.

Jacqui Rowe tweeted me last week to point out that next Easter it will be 400 years since John Donne sat in front of the fireplace at Polesworth Abbey and wrote the poem Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward. I am in agreement with Jacqui that we should not miss the opportunity to commemorate this anniversary of such a wonderful poem.
So I am proposing that we create a commemorative event to take place on Good Friday 2013 at The Abbey and I am looking for ideas from the poetry community as to what we might do.

I do have one or two ideas that have been suggested to me already, which I will hold on to so as not to influence your thoughts in coming up with some original, out of the ordinary approaches to creating and event.

Ideas may involve some workshops prior to the event, which I am open to organising, so don’t hold back on the ideas, lets create something new that will go down as an event in the history of Polesworth in the same way that Donne’s poem is considered.

Who knows in 100 years time our descendant poets may well be celebrating 500 years since Donne wrote the poem and 100 years since we created our event.

Please leave comments on this blog or email me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk  with your thoughts.

In the meantime I will discuss it with Fr Philip and other groups in Polesworth.

If you don’t know the poem then follow this link to read it.


There are not enough serious short plays being written these days in my opinion. Not that I am adverse to comedy, I appreciate the comic sketch as much as anyone but I do wonder if writers use comedy as a safe way to get their work out there and as such avoid the controversy that a serious play exploring social issues can attract.

So I very much admire Keith Large who I have the pleasure to work with on film projects, for his taking a stance to tackle the subject of a social issue through his latest production.

Keith has written and produced a radio play called Fists and Chips, the play takes the theme of domestic violence as its focus and seeks to breakdown preconceived ideas on the reality on what is for some unfortunate people is a major part of their daily lives.

The play was produced as a radio play in a London recording studio, starring Jeff Stewart (PC Reg Hollis in the Bill) and Carrie Hill.

I would recommend that people follow the link and listen to this thought provoking, sensitive play.

You can hear the play by following this link:

Keith has also put me on to an Edinburgh writer who he really rates. Simon Jackson whose poetry collection Fragile Cargo is published by BeWrite Books.

Reviews include,

“Jackson is a brave poet. There’s an underlying tenderness to Fragile Cargo, but the poems are all written with such energy and bite that the reader is never allowed to feel comfortable. They’re funny too. Jackson captures our lives and dilemmas and works like a photographer to show us the way we really are. More please.”

Mark Wallington (writer for Not the Nine O’Clock News and thirteen produced TV series and films)

Simon will be touring in the near future, included a date at the Buxton Festival in July.

You can buy Simon’s book by following this link


You can follow Keith on Twitter @KeithLarge3
And follow his other projects at:


I was pleased to hear that Jo Bell’s collection Navigation is going to be re-printed.

Jo who is the leading light behind National Poetry day and delighted us with the Bugged anthology in recent years, writes about life afloat on her narrow boat with musings on sex and archaeology, but not I hasten to add not always at the same time.

I bought one of the last 12 copies of the original print from her a few years ago and not only have I read it myself but I have also lent it several other poets who all loved it but were disappointed not to be able to get a copy of their own. Well now is your chance as copies will be available from Jo, you can contact her through jo@jobell.org.uk  . The book is well worth the £9 including postage.

I also note that Jo has taken the opportunity to slightly revise the collection and has added in some new poems, a great move on her part as it means I now have to buy the reprint but only if she will sign it for me.

And if you are not following her blog then why not it has been listed in the friend’s blogs panel on this blog for over a year. If you have been just that little bit too busy take a break and have a look now at:


Jonathan Davidson has dropped me a line to promote two very interesting evenings of poetry.

Firstly, we have an evening of Persian Poetry on Wednesday 9th May 2012 at the Barber Institute in Birmingham. It will be rare and wonderful; two Afghani poets and their translators and details here: http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/2012/02/28/an-evening-of-persian-poetry/

And secondly, Jonathan is producing a poetry performance working with a team of performers and a theatre director and based on poems from the Bloodaxe Books’ anthology, Being Human. This will be rare and wonderful too and has three dates at The Belgrade in Coventry from Friday 22nd June 2012. Details here: http://www.belgrade.co.uk/event/being-human . Anyone who has an interest in performance will find this useful. Jonathan has produced three others over the years and they have all been terrifically well received.

Both are well worth going along.


Gill Learner whose poem Listen is on the Polesworth Poets Trail (outside the Butchers Shop on Bridge St) has full collection in print, The agister’s experiment, 2011, published by Two Rivers Press.

The collection has received some great reviews

“The poems here fizz and crackle while exploring the vast range of humanity“
Poetry Book Society Bulletin Spring 2011

“It is rarely that a first collection hits the nail on the head as accurately as this.”
ARTEMISpoetry 6

The collection explores the themes of small workshops and the craftsmen toiling at their work and brings a solid accuracy of the process of manufacturing into our thoughts. I also think the cover is something to behold.

You can read more about Gill and her work at http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/gilllearnerpage.shtml

For copies of the collection see the Two Rivers Press page

Janet Smith whose poem The Owl is on the trail has had further poem, Still Birth, selected as one of the twenty highly commended poems for Donald Singer: Health, Art and Science – Hippocrates Awards for Poetry.

You can see the link to the award here: http://donaldsinger.blogspot.co.uk/

Congratulations to Janet, whose work goes from strength to strength

Sarah James at Nightblue fruit. 1st May

Margaret Torr at The Fizz – 22nd May


The Lost Poets are on Holiday until June.


Readings in April.

17th April – Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
20th April – Spoken Worlds – Burton on Trent.

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Review of Poetry Alight at the Spark Café Lichfield on 28th February 2012.

Last night saw the first of an occasional series of Poetry events in Lichfield. The Lichfield Poets who are regular readers at poetry events across the Midlands held their own event at the Spark Café in the centre of this ancient city.

It was triumph of poetic endeavour that saw 25 poets read, including six guest poets with six minutes spots at the start and finish of each of the three halves (shades of Spoken Worlds here, three parts is perhaps better), mixed in with readers with three minute spots which in the main was respected to ensure that the evening kept to time.

Set in the surroundings of a modern but everyday café that has the comfort and intimacy that the corporate coffee chains lack. We saw readers and performers from across the Midlands and one from south Yorkshire, meet to explore themes of love, relationships, to making soup, praising the roll of the goalkeeper and an observation that rock and roll deaths are not what they used to be.

Host - Gary Longden in action

The evening was hosted by Gary Longden, who did an excellent job, as a natural raconteur with his poetry and imaginative introductions that whilst often full of humour, showing his high respect for his fellow poets as they took to the stage.


Jan Watts

The evenings performances featured three Birmingham Poet Laureates, including the current incumbent Jan Watts who started the evening with one of the six minute guest poet spots, with her take on pantomime, with a modern look at Sleeping Beauty which was delivered with a chorus of I am Sleeping Beauty in true Spartacus fashion from the audience. Her next poem was one of a memento from her Grandfather, through his Desert Spectacles and the wonder at what he saw through them, trying to capture an insight into a time of his life that he never discussed. She finished with a poem on the lure of reduced items in Sainsbury’s. She captured the audience with her mix of humour and thoughtfulness and set a high standard for the night.

Anthony Webster - Looking every bit the Poet that he is!

Jan was followed by the first of the Lichfield Poets, Anthony Webster, who looks like a poet should with his shoulder length hair and hint of a beard. His experience as an actor transferred to his delivery of a Love poem and appropriately for the surroundings a Cafeteria Encounter, these were delivered with a considered voice that resonated around our ears.

Next was one of the Polesworth Poets Trail poets, Penny Harper, who evoked the spirit of a dusty road in India as she travelled to a temple, capturing all the feelings and senses in her words that took you for short time to this sacred place. She followed this with a poem about the ritual and tranquillity of her husband making soup that showed an idyllic pace of life that we can all achieve if we just slow down and contemplate the pleasure of making something. Wonderful poems.

Val Thompson another of the Lichfield Poets, then explored a fascinating take on the poetry of creaks and bumps that permeate the house as pipes debate with radiators punctuated by the interjections of rafter creaks. She followed this with a piece on that time that is neither night nor day, 4:00 am as the dark shifts its curtain to introduce the dawn. Val finished with a poem called Gastric Tract that left the sufferer with pockets of pain to count the stars.

Last years Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy MacFarlane gave an excellent reading with an exploration of what freedom really is through the telling of the experience of Richard Prior at his first gig in Las Vegas where he literary took fright and ran away. He followed this with a tender Father and Daughter experience running through the rain, encouraging his daughter to keep going because they are nearly there, knowing that as a father this was a lesson for life, no matter what, you need to keep going because you are nearly there. This was a poignant piece and one of the readings of the night.
Roy finished with Poetry and Chocolate, how he needs both, with words that gave the listener the poetic experience of eating the finest, smoothest, richest delight.

Heather Fowler then explored an Organic Woman through her relationship with her mother and the experience of boxing up a lifetime of experience into the removal van with Job Spec. She finished with Perfect Sight that questioned what Her Majesty the Queen would think, should she visit one of her Prisons, all too good effect.

Charlie Jordan - Caring for Words

This section was finished with second guest poet and former Birmingham Poet Laureate Charlie Jordan whose well crafted clever poems delivered from memory captivated the audience as she explored through sonnets observing a lover shaving with all the tender expectation of young love. She followed this with a sonnet in praise Goalkeepers, empathising with their plight of being under appreciated when they save the shot and prevent the goal, to being the butt of criticism when the ball makes it into the back of the net. Her final poem delivered another of the performances of the night. The poem about words and taking care of our words, saw the audience hold its breath so as not to miss a single nuance of this skilfully crafted poem.


THE SECOND part was opened by Gary who settled the audience back to the poetry with his poem that suggested that Rock and Roll death’s are not what they once were, more purple hearse than purple haze and that it was what you achieved before you die rather than an MTV funeral that defined true musical legends. This was well delivered and very well received.

Gary then introduced the next guest poet, also from Birmingham and a fine poet she is too. Marcia Calame defines herself through her poems; she is the ink on the page that needs to be read. Her second poem Bric-a-Brac described the little shop of everything, where the price of goods was valued by the customers. This clever poem about doing, believing and getting your hands dirty; Taking hopes and smiles and creating your own bliss by putting your own value on things and not expecting to be fed your entertainment and opinions. Another performance of the night. She finished with My Anthem another defining poem with a rhythm that describes what drives her. She is someone I have not heard read before and will certainly try and catch again.

Marcia was followed by a performance from Ian Ward, another of the Lichfield Poets who often reads on the poetry circuit. He made the most of his three minutes through delivering poetry without the preamble, letting the poems speak for themselves, as he gave us his take on 9/11, our dance and life at the Borderline. I often see poets give two or three minutes of explanation and then deliver a sixty second poem and I admire Ian’s approach last night as he maintained our poetry listening ears throughout his spot.

Claire Corfield - Fighting off Wasps

Next came Poet and Actor, Claire Corfield, whose stage experience showed through her presence in engaging and audience with an Ode to Speedo’s and the unattractive look that men of a certain age use to haunt Mediterranean beaches. She followed this with the first of three references on the night that played some sort of homage to Dylan Thomas. Her poem about the death of wasps in pints of summer beer was a triumph bringing in the thoughts of Thomas’ famous villanelle and ending with lyrics of Vera Lynn. She finished with a character piece, in the persona of a titled lady who liked killing animals. Great poems and an accomplished performance.

We were delighted further with the work of the leader of the Lichfield Poets, Janet Jenkins, whose imagery in her art inspired poems captured the flow and swirl of dance in Dancing for Degas; she followed this with Behind the Mask, as the painting of model Lily Cole wearing a mask berates the viewer as a voyeur. Janet finished by giving the awkward shaped figure in a Modigliani painting a voice that expressed her discomfort and dismay of being the muse, whose likeness would forever be seen as distorted effigy. Janet is to be commended for her expressive thoughts transferred into poetry using the art gallery as her muse.

Janet Jenkins - Inspired by Art

Following Janet came the first of the Runaway Writers’ from Burton, Terri Jolland, gave us a thoughtful piece on some of unconventional nature of her mother through dress making, which was finished with describing thunder as her late mother riding a Harley Davidson across the clouds. She further delighted us with a new take on Gilbert and Sullivan and the Modern High executioner. Both well received by the appreciative audience.

Janet Smith whose Poetry Trail Poem is about an Owl, continued with the theme of birds through magpies with two poems that gathered together the wild landscape, of moorlands and breezes into word images that occupied our minds, taking the natural world and rippling it into our thoughts. She continued this with her third poem on Cracker Butterflies and their associations with hamadryads. Janet is a voice that can hold a room, suspending the moment into which she fills with her words.

Janet Smith with fine words

To close the second part the fourth of the guest poets David Calcutt, who gave another excellent reading, even though it was briefly interrupted by the departure of the knitting group who had been… knitting – I guess, in the room upstairs.

David started with a poem inspired by Bronte Country, written in and around Howarth. His second poem that came from his work with people with dementia. Through fading memory come the shaking hands, which his observations led to him questioning “What are these Restless Creatures. This was a moving piece that provides and insight in to a condition that is shunned in the fear that we may end up that way and don’t want to face it. David’s work in the area of Dementia can only help to break down these barriers.

David finished with two nature poems, The enchanted forest, which described the wonder of the forest and its destruction, was followed by one of my favourite of David’s poems The Day of Leaving, inspired by a trip to Laugharne (second Dylan Thomas reference) in South Wales and is the observation of curlews and the significance of them moving on in the cycle of the year, another memorable performance of the night.


I had the honour of being guest poet to open the THIRD part with a selection from my recent commissions. I was followed by a poet new to all of us, Sheffield Skinny Matt, who had, as his name suggests, travelled down from Sheffield. He is to be commended for travelling all that way to deliver just a single poem. His humorous take on Matching Cardigan Couples was witty and sharp in its observation. It would be good to hear more from Matt in the future and to give him a space to give more than this brief taste of his work.

Following Matt, came Ben McNair who gave use a thoughtful piece entitled – This is how if feels before the rain, followed by a cleverly crafted unapologetic poem A Warning, which was well delivered and much appreciated by the audience – it is one of those poems that you think – wow, why didn’t I think of doing that. Both are available on Ben’s recent Kindle E-book collection.

Our third homage to Dylan Thomas came from the hilarious poetic tales from Alan Wales, who read an instalment from his Under Deadwood, delivered in excited tones as if we were in Brown’s Hotel bar in Laugharne. Alan gave a voice to daily lives through double entendre and playful quip that left the audience rolling with laughter in the way that only Alan can.

Margaret Torr from the Burton Runaway Writers followed with a poem Swan –that she describes as a white warrior on the Trent. She continued with a poem on the closeness of a relationship that can still have its distances with Running Parallel. Margaret always captures the essence of a feeling in her work and then delivers it as an accomplished story teller who engages the audience with her words and accompanying movements as she brings the swan into the room and the breeze between the lovers.

Tom Wyre reading from Soliloquy

Tom Wyre read from his collection Soliloquy with his well crafted poems Joe Hamster about life on the treadmill and The Whalers Anthem, the latter he wrote as a young man, still has the freshness of his more recent work. Tom has a presence and voice to also hold an audience and last night was not exception. His collection is one that I would recommend, with all the proceeds going to charity.

The final guest poet was Gary Carr, fresh from his guest reading at the Fizz and hosting Spoken Worlds in Burton. Gary gave an assured performance of some of his best performance pieces. Starting with his take on performing in front of a Microphone and moving on to nature of a man as an octopus. His love letter to his daughter has all the tender, caring expression of a father’s joy in being a parent, which he admits took twenty years to write, but then he was being a dad and enjoying the moments that all dad’s should. His poem Fish captures the relationship between man and his landscape and sharing the world with all of nature. He finished with his wonderful poem Without you, where he finds his virginity hiding in a box under his bed and careful restores it safely so that he does not lose it again. Gary writes poems that work on many levels from the sometimes flippant outer level to deeper meanings that nestle in our thoughts of understanding the world. An excellent performance from a respected poet.

Gary Carr - finding his Virginity

With still a few minutes remaining there was time for three sixty second slots, which saw Marcus Taylor tell of how he is God’s gift to the women of Birmingham, Guy Jenkins give his vision of Industry and Brian Asbury read his poem using only words beginning with M with Mad Military Mishaps. All too great effect.

Poetry Alight was a terrific evening of poetry and long may it continue even as an occasional event. It is a welcome edition to the poetry calendar in a place where you would expect poetry events to happen. The Lichfield Poets are to be congratulated for organising and promoting this fabulous first event and especially Gary Longden whose hosting skills made the evening flow easily and provided for the relaxed enjoyment of poetry.

The next Poetry Alight will be on May 15th 2012 at the Spark Café, Tamworth St, Lichfield.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

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 speed my grass grows – I might have to cut it once more this year!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Talking to one of my Lost Poets.


Apollo – Atmospheres – Brian Eno


It was National Poetry Day last Thursday, a day that has seen over the last 10 or so years the appointment of local Poets Laureate, many of whom hold their honorary posts for the coming 12 months.

Thursday saw the wonderful Jan Watts take over from the inspiring Roy McFarlane as Birmingham Poet Laureate – I have not heard who was crowned the new Laureate for Warwickshire, taking over the mantle from Olga Dermott-Bond. Past Warwick poets laureate have included Polesworth Poets Trail poets, Helen Yendall and Jane Holland.

Worcester crowned its 1st laureate, Theo Theobald, earlier in the year from a fine shortlist that included the marvellous poets, Heather Wastie, Fergus McGonagal and Sarah James.

It is worth noting that each of these events was linked to a literary festival. Birmingham Book Festival, Warwick Words and the Worcester Literary Festival.

There are laureates for both Derbyshire and Cheshire, these have in the past been two year posts and have included Cathy Grindrod, River Walton, Harry Owen and Jo Bell as their holders. Matt Black was named as the new Derbyshire Poet Laureate last week.

Hereford has two Young Poets Laureate with Ben Ray and Harriet Husbands.

So there are murmours  at poetry events, where is Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate? – Most of the surrounding counties have poets laureate so where is ours? Anyone would think that Staffordshire was a poetic wasteland but this is most definitely not the case.

Stafford the town and county that raised the current British Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, does not have such a post, yet there are many fine poets who are active in promoting poetry in Tamworth, Lichfield, Burton-upon-Trent, Stafford, Newcastle Under Lyme, Stone, Stoke-On-Trent and many of the other places in the region.

Local laureates do a lot of work in education, youth and health care projects as well as promoting poetry as an art-form, an art-form that I know a lot of people follow and practice, often privately but never-the-less there is a great interest. Most of the other counties include the post of the Young Laureate, giving a teenager their first major role as a poet.

These posts are honorary, there is no payment made to the poets as such, they can of course be commissioned to write pieces, run workshops and hold residencies for which payment should be made.

Because they are not paid for holding the title does not mean there is no value in having a Poet Laureate and indeed I would go further and say that there is a loss to the community in not having a figure head who can promote the poetic arts within the region.

A local poet laureate is a cultural ambassador for the region they represent; They can promote the region’s other delights, as poets can write about anything, from tourist attractions, events, the arts, to legends to local produce, be that food or manufactured goods. They help preserve the dialects and identity of the region.

Staffordshire is not just about pottery, but also about breweries, mining, league and non-league football, soon the FA academy will be here, it is also about Reliant Robins, JCB’s, ancient cathedrals, castles, the capital of a Mercia, gold hoards, battles, sieges, skirmishes, manifestos, Roman, to Saxon to Viking. Then there is the diversity of today’s multicultural environment.

It is a place of nature, woodlands, moors, the chase, grit-stone crags and deep scars that became hidden churches. The Peak District also has part of its home here in Staffordshire.

There is whole range of culinary classics that have had a home in Staffordshire. Beer, Oatcakes, Marmite and its cousin Bovril, Branston Pickle was first made here; there is cheese, toffee, Packington Pork, Tamworth Pigs to name just a few.

Then there are the communities, the villages, the market towns and the people whose unique dialect goes back to ancient poems such as Gawain and the Green Knight.

Plenty for a Poet Laureate to write about and then there are the unknown, hidden gems that only a poet can seek out and bring into the national consciousness. Local poets laureate leave a legacy of the time they hold the post and pass on the tradition to the next generation of poets.

I would also offer this further case. – Three Staffordshire locations were used as part of the Great West Midlands Poetry Relay held on 23rd July this year – A cultural Olympic event – Stoke-on-Trent railway station which was the starting point, then Burton Library – then following a route through Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire the final leg ended at the Pie and Ale house in Stafford.

Staffordshire provided the most locations, the other counties on the route, mostly providing two locations – but I was the only Staffordshire based poet on the relay and my starting point was in Warwickshire. We need to raise the profile of poetry and the poets in Staffordshire; a Staffordshire Poet Laureate can provide this focus and at the same time promote the delights of the county.

So here is a call to Staffordshire poets do we want a Poet Laureate for the county? – Should we engage with the County Council and local district councils to explore how the post could be developed for mutual benefit?

Email me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk with your thoughts.

GOLD LEAF by Dalziel and Scullion

I need to make a correction. In my blog last week I referred to the new sculpture at Pooley Country Park with the title Burnt Sunlight, which was a mistake on my part as this had been a working title for the piece and is now a secondary title. The correct title is GOLD LEAF, so I apologise if I caused any confusion.

That sorted out, I was delighted with the response that I received to the blog post, as blog comments, emails and on Facebook. The piece has certainly captured people’s imaginations and become a positive talking point and long may this continue as the piece changes from THE NEW to THE FAMILIAR and with this familiarity that it continues to inspire.

Congratulations to Helen Calcutt for organising the 100,000 poets for Change event at Bloxwich Library Theatre on Saturday evening. A wonderful evening of poetry, which included some great readings from Sarah James, David Calcutt, Jacqui Rowe, Roy McFarlane, Antony Owen, Gary Longden, Janet Smith, Heather Wastie and Ruth Stacy plus readings from the floor. A very inspiring night with variations on each of the poets views on change.

Friday 14th October sees SPOKEN WORLDS – the monthly reading event at the Old Cottage Tavern in Burton on Trent. The MC, Gary Carr will introduce some of the best poets in the region in the usual three halves plus some sketches and short stories. It starts as 7:30pm – Free Entry and Real Ale – not to be missed.

There have been only two living poets of the twenty lost poets that I have discussed in this blog so far. One of them is a recluse and will never contact me, however I was delighted last week when the other, Marcio Andre did contact me to thank me for promoting his work through the blog, which resulted in a prolonged Portuguese/English email conversation about the evening at the Tin Angel in Coventry, when he filled the room with sound that left a lasting impression on me and many others. If you missed the piece on Marcio Andre then your can read it on my blog post See Blog 8th July 2011

MY LOST POET for this week is ANN MOSS – (1818 – 1895).

Ann Moss was a poet who lived for most of the latter half of the 19th century in Saltaire just outside Bradford in Yorkshire. Saltaire is the village built by the local mill owner Sir Titus Salt for his workers and my own family lived and worked there at the time Ann Moss was her writing poetry.

Ann was a remarkable woman, who was profoundly deaf and found her self in diminished circumstances following the death of her husband, she was left to raise three children and selling her poetry was her only form of income. Despite all of this hardship, Sir Titus Salt recognised the quality of her work.

The Chimney at Salts Mill

The mill dominates the landscape of Saltaire, once the spinning and weaving sheds that produced alpaca woollen cloth were a busy, noisy manufactory. Today they are used for the production of satellite dishes, along with Café, bookshops and gallery featuring the work of another of Bradford’s sons, David Hockney.

The streets that surround the mill with their neat terraces are all named after members of Salt’s family. Larger houses nearer to the mill for the over-lookers and managers, the smaller houses all were providing a comfortable living for the workers. Saltaire also has its own Institute, where Salt encouraged learning, a church and a park over the other side of the canal that provided a place for leisure. There is no pub, which is a feature of many villages that grew up around manufacturing, such as Bourneville in Birmingham which was built for its workers by the Cadbury Family.

Ann’s poetry was a social comment on her times living in this community, sharing tragedy, romance and humour through the single broadsheets she produced and sold for pennies to provide support for her family.

Her accounts of Salt’s Mill and Saltaire bring to life the place as it was and in appearance has changed very little it being a World Heritage Site. Her words resonate around the iron columns that stand in line to hold up the vaulted ceilings and the machine floors of the mill. You can hear the echoes of her voice in the ginnels and yards behind the houses.

Ann’s poems can be found the book Ann Moss, Saltaire Poet by Roger Clarke (details below), There are family poems such as Recollections of childhood, My Father, In Memorium My Beloved Mother. Her son John in John Aged 20 and another John Aged 50.

Her poems on Saltaire, such as Methley Fete and Shipley Glen. Poems on the social condition Lines to Low Moor and the Ripley Chimney Disaster. Then her lighter poems, Woman and Spotty to her cat.

All these verses reflect the lives and worries of ordinary spinners and weavers, many of whom I can claim in my own ancestry.

My own family had also seen the loss of a family member in Salt’s Mill, Jimmy Dewhirst who was my Great Great Grandfather died in an accident in 1860 the details of which are on the Saltaire website provided by my cousin Pat Holland.


By the time my Grandfather, Ernest was born in 1888, the family had moved to nearby Shipley, but there were still members of my extended family living in Saltaire into the 1920’s and I would like to think they engaged with poetry and purchased the single broadsheets that Ann Moss produced.

Ann’s life story and poetry has been told in ANN MOSS – SALTAIRE POET by Roger Clarke


Ann Moss is also one of the featured poets in the GRAFT project along with Alfred Williams and Tommy Armstrong.


October Readings

14th Oct – Spoken Worlds Burton.
24th Oct – Shindig, Leicester.– I will be guest poet at this event.

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.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The shortness of weekends!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The run up to the FIZZ next week with guest poet – Antony Owen.


In the Shadow of Leaves – Mike Six


Last Friday saw me attend the daily meeting at the Polesworth Abbey Dig, this was one of the last meetings for this digging season as the trenches will be being closed down at I write. They will however be back next year for another summer dig at which I hope to get my hands dirty with a little bit of digging as part of the volunteer team.

The Trench in the Garden

Having attended only three of these sessions, this is my view and impressions on what was found and how it was interpreted; the official view will no doubt be published in due course.

Tim Upson-Smith, the community Archaeologist on the project has done a fantastic job of leading the daily briefing sessions which saw forty people turn up on Friday to hear how the dig had gone.

Starting in Fr Philip’s garden where a T shaped trench has been cut into the lawn. Looking for the Abbey Cloister which following the traditional layouts of Medieval Abbey’s was expected in this area in relation to the church. Despite a disappointing start as they dug through layers of demolition rubble from the post medieval period, when the Abbey was demolished and the better stone works were robbed out to create houses and garden walls in Polesworth. There was also the classic post hole which showed all the signs of being part of some ancient timber structure, for which Fr Philip produced the original post from within the shrubbery and explained that it was in fact the result of a totem pole which was part of a Native American festival, some twelve years ago.

Floor level with the layer of slag on the left

There was also a black slag layer, which was explained as being levelling material from the 1930’s when the vicar of the day was partial to a game of tennis and had the lawn levelled to make a tennis court. The slag most likely came from the local mining works.

By the final week of the dig all these diversions had been sorted out and the Archaeologists had dug down to the in-situ walls that formed the Cloister, which revealed that the Cloister was rectangular rather than a normal square – this was only by a few feet but nevertheless it was unusual. There was also evidence of the original floor of the Cloister with a single tile being found sitting at the correct level.

Under the floor level there was a burial, which had been disturbed in the past as the bones were collected together and lay next to the inner wall of the Cloister. It is thought that the De-Somerville family claimed this, the third most desirable spot to be buried. The Marmions having claimed the second near to the Chapter House and the first spot near to the Altar in the Abbey church being reserved for Holy worthies.

The bones were probably disturbed when the grave digger was lifting the floor for a subsequent burial and so gathered the bones and reburied them as a group rather than them being laid out in a traditional burial position.

We then moved into the next field where the archaeologists were looking for the Chapter House. The field which runs down to the river Anker was subject to open cast mining up until the 1960’s, especially down nearest to the river but the top of the field had been untouched by this and so there were two trenches cut into this that revealed walls of the possible Chapter house and also the infirmary, outside of this there were two burials one of a woman and the other a man, the latter of which only the legs were revealed.

The woman was laid out with her arms across her chest, as was tradition in a Christian most probably Catholic burial of the day. Her teeth are very well worn and show that she was of some great age when she died. Her diet would have included a large amount of grit that had the effect of grinding down the teeth. This was most likely the result of grinding flour, grit remnants were ever present in the bread used as part of the staple diet of the medieval times.

In the Chapter House trench there were the walls found, but there was also evidence that the site had been dugout to extract sand and gravel in the 17th Century, this was dated through clay pipes that were found in the backfill.

Archaeologists date things based upon the latest datable object that is found in the layers of the trenches. This is often difficult with objects such as coins, as these can be in circulation for a very long time. I remember that in the pre-decimalisation days of the late 1960’s that there will still Victorian pennies in circulation perhaps one hundred years after they were first minted. So Tim was delighted with clay pipes as they were very much of the time that they were made and used, like today’s cigarettes they were bought, smoked and then thrown away with in a matter of days or weeks.

Clay pipes can be dated from the size of the bowl; smaller ones are earlier as tobacco was expensive. These were also one of the first products to be given a makers mark and records of these makers and when they were making pipes can be checked. The pipes found indicated that the area where the sand and gravel were extracted was dug at around 1690.

We next moved out into the churchyard and the exploration of the mound. The mound in the churchyard was subject to Garrie Fletcher’s Poets Trail poem “God’s Dance within us”. Garrie’s poem explored the local myth that the Devil lived on top of the mound watching for the souls he could capture.

Further legends were voiced during the daily tours throughout the dig, with locals offering up thoughts as to what the mound was, these included: A Bronze Age burial site, a Saxon burial site. The last resting place of Boudicca – she was buried here because of the Abbey, (despite her death preceding the founding of an Abbey on the site by some 800 years.)

More practical ideas were that when the grave diggers dug the graves there was always a couple of barrow’s full of earth that would not go back into the grave, so these were dumped on the mound and over time this is how it grew. There is some evidence that this happened later, but if it was the complete story, would we not find these types of mounds in all churchyards?

Many locals were in two minds as to whether the mound should be explored as it would potentially destroy all the myths and legends and prove that the mound was in fact a rubble heap from the original Abbey.

Myths often grow around the feature in its current position in the landscape. Not that the mound has moved but the use of landscape around it has changed over time. It is first recorded on an 18th Century map and is in the garden of the manor house and not the churchyard. So it would not have started out as dumping ground for surplus grave soil.

The dig revealed that it was built up of stone rubble overlaid with earth and was most likely originally built as a vista point with a gazebo on the top from which the Lord and his guests could view and admire the layout of the formal gardens.

The Mound a Garden Feature

There is a fine preserved example of this type of mound with a gazebo, known as The Mount, at Boscobel House near Wolverhampton.

Link to the English Heritage site for Boscobel House.

Back in Polesworth, 19th Century documents show that the church purchasing the land around the mound to provide much needed ground for the extension of the churchyard, in the mid 1800’s around the time the current vicarage was built.

So there it is a garden feature built of earth and rubble, but that does not mean that the Devil does not live on the top, if you want to believe such things.

Myths and legends are after all, the archaeology of ancestral minds.

The final area of the tour was on the other side of the church near to the old stables. Here the team led by Mark had more walls than he could shake a stick at and I saw him try.

Mark with more walls than he can shake a stick at - but he is trying.

There are several walls but two down the middle of the site are the most striking. One is an older well made wall which has been cut into at an odd angle by a later less well made wall, which it is suggested is the foundation of later timber framed building. There is also a drainage system, which may have been part of the original building and was reused as part of the later timber built construction.

This, with a day and half to go, was still a mystery and it was felt that more exploration was needed during next summer’s dig, to get a better interpretation as to what activities have been the focus of this area of the site.

The Finds


It is here that I can use the word “Shards” without my fellow poets screaming cliché. Shards, the overused word that is mostly used by poets in the wrong context.

There was a mass of pottery shards from across the site covering many periods, styles and uses.

Finds included some pottery that was possibly from the Polesworth Pottery that once stood in Potters Lane. There was also some Nuneaton green glazed ware, most probably from the Kilns at Chilvers Coton.

Nuneaton Green Glaze - Probably made at Chilvers Coton

Midland Purple, a common hard fired pottery produced widely and in many forms from about 1450 to 1600 was also found on the site.

More information on Green glaze and Midland Purple ware can be found at the University of Leicester Archaeological Services website: http://www.le.ac.uk/ulas/services/ceramic_analysis.html

Other ceramic items included roof tiles and Tudor bricks – distinctive by their long, narrow profile.


Beer and wine stoneware bottles from Germany, known as Bartmann Jugs or Bellarmine Jugs. These jugs were etched with a face of a bearded man (hence Bartmann) and sometimes a seal or coat of arms. They were produced in mainland Europe in particular around Cologne, showing that Polesworth in the 17th Century had wider outlook than we would have perhaps presumed.


Bones were another feature and not the human kind. Remains of animals including pigs, cattle and chickens, which were most likely the remnants of the many dinners and feasts that the Abbey was to host in the times of the Gooderes and later the Nethersoles.

There was also almost the full remains of a horses leg – which was given the name Shergar (I bet archaeologists all over Britain call equine remains, Shergar), although where the rest of it is, remains to be found. I must add that there was no suggestion that the horse was consumed as part of a feast, indeed horses are still very much part of the Polesworth site, in the fields next to the Abbey.


And to Tim’s animated delight – Clay pipes in abundance, many datable. The pipes most likely came from Broseley in Shropshire (at the heart of the birth of industry), where pipes were made as far back as 1590 and as recently as 1957.
See Tim talking about them here:

Clay pipes

I hasten to add that my interest in the paraphernalia of tobacco smoking is not in anyway an endorsement of such practices.


Further links.

Polesworth Abbey Website for the Dig

Dig the Abbey YouTube Channel links:
You can see the video footage by Peter Rally of this seasons dig at:

Plus some animations of how the Abbey may have looked

Photos from the Dig:



September Readings

16th Sept – SPOKEN WORLDS – Burton on Trent.
20th Sept – THE FIZZ at Polesworth
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 advance dates for October

4th October Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry.
Guest Poets Janet Smith and David Calcutt.

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 What is ANNOYING me this week?


 Losing my phone charger.


 What is DELIGHTING me this week?


 Father’s day – spent with my Son and Grandson.




Hydranoid Musia’s latest master mix by Mike-Six.




Last week saw me attend the Coventry Launch of Tony Owen’s – The Dreaded Boy. This was a special evening for me for two particular reasons, firstly because Tony thanked me personally in the acknowledgements for this pamphlet, and secondly because I have heard this collection develop over the last eighteen months and it is fantastic to the see the results of Tony’s research and exploration in to the effects of modern warfare on the soldiers, aid workers and the families left behind.


This collect breaks new ground in war poetry, because Tony gives a voice to the families and friends of the soldiers fighting or peace keeping, but never-the-less out on the front line. Unlike his namesake from the first world war, Wilfred Owen, Tony is not a soldier and he therefore, made the connection with the Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Wives and Girlfriends and talked about their feelings as in the 21st Century they find themselves bombarded with news footage and on-line information on the warzones in a way that we have never seen before. No longer can we say “No News is Good News” because we now live in the world of 24 hour news, we allow the war zones into our front rooms, we see the horrors from our armchairs. Those with loved ones out on the front line cannot put the war out of their minds.


Tony’s collection is a brave, honest and real. These poems do not preach, they inform and respect the reader’s ability to make their own judgments.


His poem Diamonds for Karen Woo is very powerful as is the poem on Rwanda; these are just two among a very powerful collection. Tony delivered them accompanied by a guitar player and ambient music. He was joined by local poet Bethany Norris and the City Voices Choir. There was a speech from the Deputy Mayor who reflected onCoventry’s place as a city of Peace and Reconciliation and how Tony as a local poet was building on these themes with this excellent collection.


It is published by Pighog Press, based in Brighton, it is the first of the Pighog Passport series, it is delivered as a well designed style, taking its design ideas from a passport, though slightly larger, with watermarked pages and the author’s information printed at 90 degrees. Pighog press see this series as giving the poet a passport to bigger things.


It was also great to see so many Polesworth Poets at the launch, Jacqui Rowe, Janet Smith, Barry Patterson, Gary Carr and Jon Morley, which found us discussing Julian Cope’s associates with Pooley mound or Alvecote mound as he knew it, listen to Reynard the Fox to hear Julian’s take on this wonderful place.


Tony will be the guest poet at the Fizz 9 in September, it will be an evening of intense imagery, and I am honoured to be able to host such a fine poet in Polesworth. Tony will be selling copies of The Dreaded Boy at the event, not to be missed.


Friday saw me head to Burton-upon-Trent to the monthly SPOKEN WORLDS run by Gary Carr.


There was a good turnout of fine poets; Gary Longden has written a review at:




Sunday saw me spend a wonderful day at LEAMINGTON PEACE FESTIVAL. Made special because my son and three year old grandson came with me, as a lads day out on Fathers Day.


I had originally signed up to perform for ten minutes between bands on the acoustic stage on the bandstand where the compere Barry Patterson was keeping the crowds informed, entertained and making sure they disposed of their litter responsibly. This however changed on Saturday when I was informed that a band who were booked for the 11:45 slot on Sunday could not now do the gig, so Barry asked if I, Josie Allen would join him to fill the 45 minute slot with poetry. Not one to turn down an opportunity like this, I jumped at it.


The audience was transient at the start of the readings, which saw Josie, kick off, as the time went on more and more people settled and sat to listen, such that there was quite a crowd after ten minutes.


A festival crowd is different to a poetry reading audience, they have not necessarily come along to hear poetry and therefore as the poet you have to hook them in, using all the expression in your voice to gather their interest.


I started with two poems that received a respectful applause, these poems were about refugees and time and this clearly was not hooking them in, I finished my first set with my Jimi Hendrix poem, which received a cheer and an appreciative applause. So that was it, they wanted poems about music, musicians something with a little more theatre in the delivery.


Because we had decided to read in rotation, reading a few and then handing over to next poet until your turn came around again, it gave me time to review my set and to bring out poems that reflected the musical themes. Poems such as Setting, which looks at Liverpool in the post Beatle era and Memphised which explores Beale Street through the eyes of the poet tourist and a true bluesman. I did several others in my three spots, finishing with POP, the poem that laments the world of copies and fakes, the brand and all things over manufactured.


Barry performed his poems from Nature, some of which he accompanied with his drum or introduced with a flute tune, his poem for William Blake who he calls Billy Blake was well received. Josie gave a song and her George Eliot poem Mary Ann on the Rocks among her set.


It was a great experience, Poetry on a Sunday Summer afternoon in the park, Poetry the Language of Peace at the Peace Festival, Three Poets lost in the zone of worldly words and taking the audience with them.


But most of all for me, a Grandfather, Son and Grandson sharing Fathers Day, that is how it should always be.


My lost poet this week is KENNETH REXROTH (1905–1982)


This week, I head back across the Atlantic to find Kenneth Rexroth. If my previous lost poet, Langston Hughes was the Blues Poet, then Kenneth Rexroth was the Jazz poet.


Time Magazine called Rexroth, the Father of Beat Poetry, (a tag that he was not endeared to, stating that “an entomologist is not a bug”).  He was a great influence on Ginsberg, Kerouac et al. He was the compere at the San Francisco, Gallery 6 Poetry reading in 1955, which was the subject of the 2010 film Howl, with its ensuing court case at which Rexroth gave evidence. However if you look at the IMDB cast list for the film you won’t find the character of Rexroth, the movie makers passed him over as being unimportant.


Yet it was in part his influence as a poet that sparked the beat movement as the Beat Poets gathered around him, the spark that ignited Howl in the first place, there are resemblances in Rexroth’s Thou Shalt Not Kill, written on the death of Dylan Thomas that can be seen to have been an influence on Ginsberg’s poem.


Rexroth was born in South Bend,Indiana and spent his early adolescence on travels around the USA, mixing and befriending all walks of life, on his own journey in his own time, but reminiscent of Kerouac’s travels in On the Road and Dharma Bums, it is thought that Rexroth is the character Reinhold Cacoethes in Dharma Bums. Rexroth eventually settled in California where he was to spend the rest of his life.


His poems are about sex, mysticism or revolution or so he introduced his readings.  Poems such as Floating from The Phoenix and the Tortoise published in 1944, is full of sexual imagery as the poet and his lover float in a canoe on a waterlily bed ,as is A dialogue of watching published in Defence of Earth in 1956.


He was a poet and writer who was antiestablishment and actively disliked poets such as T.S Elliot and Ezra Pound, who he saw dull academics, with Elliot and his neurotic prissiness and Pound as self indulgent.


Rexroth is one of the most readable of the American poets at the same time he has sophistication, he was influenced by poets such a William Carlos Williams, both crafted their words into a direct, controlled dialogue. His work took him to explore Japanese forms; he was one of the first western poets to explore the use of the Haiku.


He was a traveller and a free spirit, focusing on wider things rather than being part of a community; his writings are an unbiased view of the world as he saw it, free from judgment and prejudice.


Kenneth Rexroth is a worthy lost poet, who I hope others will discover and see him as the free spirit and not tag him just as the Father of the Beat poets, he is much more than that.   


Links for Kenneth Rexroth.


Kenneth Rexroth Selected Poems – Edited byBradfordMorrow (Amazon Link)



The Rexroth Archive at The Bureau of Public Secrets.





Readings in July.


2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.


15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.


16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield. -TBC


19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.


23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.


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