Posts Tagged ‘John Donne’


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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What is ANNOYING me this week?

People who moan about the same old things but never do anything about them.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A wooden, elastic band powered car.


Various versions of One Bourbon, One scotch, One beer.

My favourite is the John Lee Hooker version followed by the George Thorogood version.

I can’t think what the Glee version is like – maybe I’ll give that one a miss.


I am inspired by the Secret Writer’s, April Fools list of 40 things that she has never done before and wants to do before she reaches 41, you can see her progress on her blogspot.


My list is to find 50 lost poets. Poets who were either popular once but have gone out of favour, or had a modicum of success in their day and have been somewhat under appreciated.

The first poet on my list is Michael Drayton (1563-1631) who is often eclipsed by his contemporaries, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Donne. If these four had been the Beatles then Michael Drayton would have been George Harrison. A very talented writer, who was overshadowed by the extra-ordinary talents of those around him. Though having said that, I would not want to say which of the other three would be Ringo Starr.

Drayton was born in Hartshill, Warwickshire, to a farming family, who were tenants of Sir Henry Goodere of Polesworth. It was Sir Henry who brought young Michael to Polesworth as a page and provided him with an education in the school room above the Abbey Gatehouse. Drayton developed his poetic skills in the company of thePolesworth Circle, which included Jonson and Donne, along with the architect Inigo Jones.

Drayton wrote his Ideas Mirror, a set of sonnets that declared his love for an unknown lady, who we now know to be his patron’s daughter Anne Goodere, his love was unrequited and Anne went on to marry another, but she remained friends with Michael and the other poets and they were often guests at her marital home in Clifford Chambers. See http://www.bartleby.com/214/1004.html for more details.

Ideas Mirror contains one of the poems that we have included on the Poets Trail, To the River Ancor, where Drayton confides in the river of his love for Anne and how she inspires him along with the forest Arden which he alludes to the Greek poets comparing it to the valley of Tempe and the river itself, which he considers his Helicon.

Another poem in the series is perhaps his best known “Since there is no help let us kiss and part”. The full collection can be read at http://www.luminarium.org/editions/idea.htm

Perhaps his other best known work is PolyOlbion, his description of the landscape ofEngland, which to me as poet who explores landscapes is a treasure of descriptive, historical verses that allow us to compare the landscape four hundred years ago with our landscape today. PolyOlbion, Many Albions or Many Englands is a concept that still hold true today with the many diverse cultures and traditions that make up our country. Along with the development of the land, through the industrial revolution and now the industry has waned, the re-generation of the natural environment as we have seen at Pooley. I wonder how much of the landscape Drayton would recognise if he were to wander around Polesworth today.

PolyOlbion was written using Dr Philemon Holland’s translation ofCamden’s Britannia, as it clearly follows the same structure asCamden’s work.  Dr Holland lived and practiced inCoventryand it is most likely that Drayton had access to his translation. More recently Paul Farley revisited PolyOlbion with his Electric PolyOlbion for the BBC.

A reprint of Polyolbion in three parts is available from Amazon


The Leicester poet Matt Merritt is also a promoter of all things Draytonian and has his PolyOlbion blogspot at http://polyolbion.blogspot.com/

Matt will be the guest poet at the Fizz in July.

The classroom where Drayton was taught is now part of the development of the holiday lets at Polesworth Abbey Gatehouse.


I admire Drayton, most of all for following his own path, writing on subjects that interested him, his language and style maybe of his day, but it is never-the-less engaging. The cottage where he was born is no longer there and his classroom is now a lounge come dining room. However the fireplace in front of which he wrote Idea’s mirror is still there and this is now our Tempe as poets place their hands upon it before reading at the Fizz.

My list of lost poets is included after my Coming Soon Doings, watch it as it grows.

Last week saw me reading through the submitted poems and making my selections, which will be discussed with the other judges before the final selection is made. This has been a particularly hard task as there are so many great poems.

I am meeting over Easter with the other main judge to decide our final selections to be presented to the group for confirmation. Then the work can begin with the interpretations into the installations, in time for them to be installed in early July.

It was good to see some sunshine this weekend, let’s hope it lasts. After Easter I will be working with two poets to make films of their poems, one a suspense filled montage that will be filmed at night, the other retracing a walk to meet a love, with a twist at the end.

Tonight sees me at the Shindig in Leicester and Thursday at a meeting to discuss Nuneaton’s Summer Day of Poetry – followed by Spoken Worlds at its new location The Old Cottage Inn –Burton-upon-Trent. 


Just a couple of readings in April.

18th April – Shindig Leicester – The Western, Western Ave, Leicester. – 7:30pm

22nd April – Spoken Worlds – The Old Cottage Inn – Burton-on-Trent. – 7:30pm

List of Lost Poets.

1. Michael Drayton – See Blog 18th April 2011.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Innocent questions that try to hide agendas

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A Trip


Some of my favourite folk songs.


Saturday saw the final Poets Trail workshop, where the poets had an opportunity to explore the park on their own and gather their thoughts in their own piece of space. It was a time to focus on the personal experience of the place; the “ME” time as those who think they are trendy call it. Is it still trendy to say trendy?

This personal time, where you live in your thoughts and do not have to share anything is important to every writer. Some may lock themselves away in the proverbial garret struggling at their art; others walk the story and live the dialogue. They appear to wander aimlessly so deep in thought that they are considered to be an out of touch with the real world. When all the time they are creating the next real world: the novel, the script, the film and there you go everyone is talking about the new creation.  The writer though known and named remains with that subtle anonymity that allows them to walk down the street aimlessly in deep thought creating the next reality.

Back to the trail, I am now receiving some wonderful, thoughtful and well crafted poems for consideration and critique, the poets have until the 8th April to submit there poems and I look forward to reviewing them and making the final decisions with the group from Pooley Country Park as to which we will use.

Then there are those poems that don’t end up on the trail but are never-the-less worthy poems, that should not be forgotten or lost and for which I will actively seek a means of preserving them and making them accessible to the poetry world.

This has been a wonderful experience and I am very honoured to have led this project. It has created a new circle of Polesworth poets, who have engaged with the place and been inspired to write a major new collection of contemporary poetry.  But the experience has been far more productive than the poetic works, but it has also developed new friendships, shared ownership and the feeling of playing a real part something quite special.

For those who are not suffering from workshop fatigue following my four workshops, here are some others that I can recommend.

Jacqui Rowe also has an excellent programme of Making Poetry workshops in Birmingham throughout the Spring and Summer.


The Nine Arches Press are currently into their Spring Programme, some of which have already gone, but I am sure they will have future programmes. You can keep informed by following this link.


John Siddique is also running a monthly workshop in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, details of which can be found on his website.


I am hoping to attend at least one of each from these programmes of workshops. It is my belief that you need to keep pushing boundaries and exploring new ways to approach your writing.  If you think you have mastered the art of writing, then it is time to experiment, before you settle into writing the same things in the same style, the world can only take so much; it is time to move on, get fresh, get new, stay out of a pigeon hole.

Last week also saw THE FIZZ 6 – when the Lichfield Poets (most of whom do not live in Lichfield, but then who am I to talk, I don’t live in Polesworth) gave excellent readings from their Battlelines Anthology. The event was most excellently reviewed by the Secret Writer in her blog, which you can read by following the link below.


The next Fizz – FIZZ 7 will be on 17th May when we will be reading the selected poems from the latest phase of the Poets Trail, along with some of the best of those not chosen. I am hoping that as many of the poets will be there to read their work, but I will make sure that all the poems are read. Look out for the advertising nearer the time.

Last Thursday saw me head to Nuneaton for a meeting with Rach Flowers and Alan Ottey to discuss the possibility of holding a day of Summer Poetry in the market place on a Saturday. We have set the date for the 2nd July and are pursuing a range of activities, which includes poets reading though out the day and at an open mic. event in the early evening. There is still a fair amount of work to organise this and to finalise the details, but if there are any poets out there who fancy doing 10 or 15 minutes reading in the market place and can get to Nuneaton on the 2nd July then please let me know.

As the details unfold I will add them to this blog.

Finally, it seems that there is a rivalry developing between the Shakespeare centric South Warwickshire and the George Eliot focussed North Warwickshire. Whilst I don’t want to get into the middle of this rivalry, for as far as I am concerned they are all worthy Warwickshire Writers. However, I am often approached for my thoughts on North Warwickshire’s role in literature.  So as an a-side and this list is by no means complete. In addition to George Eliot, I think the following writers have all been influenced by North Warwickshire, either through living and writing here or through visiting and bringing North Warwickshire into their work.

Michael Drayton, John Donne, Ben Jonson, Francis Holyoake, Raphael Hollinshed, Sir Henry Goodere, Sir Aston Cockayne, Henry Francis Cary, Thomas Warton, Sir Francis Willughby, Sir William Dugdale, Jane Austen, Edward Farmer, Siegfried Sassoon, Edith Holden, A.J Quinell, Caroline Graham.

I have not included in the list writers from Coventry or Birmingham who in their day would have been thought of as living in Warwickshire – but when the borders change and new counties emerged it makes these rivalries meaningless. I say, Read and Celebrate them all.


Details of my reading in April will be posted in my next blog, which will be late next week but if you check in then you will find out why.


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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Not knowing what its best to tackle first.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The First of the Poets Trail Workshops


The Essential Mercury Rev


The film director, Deborah Hadfield, whose first feature, The Kindness of Strangers was a triumph at Cannes, and more recently at the International Filmmakers Festival in 2010, where she won best director. She is now promoting her new film “Sweetest Love” that she will be filming throughout the Summer.

I first met Deborah when she directed me in a very short film that was made in one hour. At 7:00pm we had no story, no script, no locations and a totally inexperienced crew. At 8:00pm we were watching the film, which was later edited into a one minute film. That was my first experience of working with film and it left me wanting more.

This all happened as part of workshop that Deborah ran for the Runaway Writers in Burton-on-Trent a couple of years ago.

Sweetest Love, which she describes as 3 Lovers 2 Choices 1 Secret, will be filming on locations in Rome, Florence, Umbria, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Deborah is offering a unique opportunity for film buffs to be in on the production through her facebook page and website, where she will be posting news, pictures, videos and behind the scenes gossip as they shoot through the summer, it is a great chance to see the film develop before you go and see the finished result.

Deborah’s facebook page can be found at:


Her website is at:


I said in my last blog that “All Poetic Roads Lead Back to Polesworth” and Deborah’s film is no exception as it uses John Donne’s poem “Sweetest love, I do not go” as key part of the plot. Donne was one of the Polesworth circle along with Michael Drayton and Ben Jonson. I will be watching with interest.

My delight of the week is the Poets Trail workshops, which kicked off on Saturday with a classroom based workshop, which looked the existing poetry trail poems, followed by looking at poetic styles and devices and finished with looking at the different characters that make up a landscape.

Sixteen poets attended all enthused by the opportunity to create new poems that seeks to explain the often unexplainable, the feeling you get when a landscape takes your breath away or gives you the sense of unease that makes you want to tear away, but at the same time stay and fathom it out. The Spirit of the Place – The Genius Loci.

The next workshop is in a couple of weeks when we will be out in the landscape of an ex-coal mine that is now redefining its borders with nature, whilst at the same time has to cope with the noise and fumes from the motorway that passes through the centre of the Country Park.

The M42 is raised above the site and floats on a bed of man laid gypsum like a noisy, self important celebrity, who is too busy to ponder on anything other than its own destination. It cannot be ignored and its purpose acts as a reminder that all is not tranquil with the world, even when you are wandering through a self healing space that provides a vision of a richer life. 

On Sunday, I ventured out to a garden centre just outside of Atherstone to meet with Rach Flowers, to hand over the postcards for her activities on World Book Night. – Which is taking place next Saturday in Nuneaton, as I mentioned in my last blog.

Rach’s enthusiasm for books and reading is phenomenal and her ideas for creating a theatrical event with costumes and readings around the town will make an event that may see the people of Nuneaton engaging with poetry like they never have before.

I have a couple of friends who are poets from Nuneaton it would be great to see a few more. The thought of the sudden burst of random poetry readings, with the colour and drama of Rach’s street theatre should be more than enough to attract people into town.


I will be reading at the following events during March.

Night Blue Fruit – 1st March – Taylor Johns House – Coventry.

St Patrick’s Day Festivities – 16th March – Inspire Bar – Coventry.

Spoken Worlds – 18th March – Rangemore House – Burton-on-Trent.

The Fizz – 22nd March – Polesworth Abbey – Polesworth.

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