Posts Tagged ‘Polesworth Poets Trail’


What is ANNOYING me this week?

People who block supermarket aisles by having conversations with long lost friends.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?



Radio Wildfire.


What a week with so many wonderful things going on.

Tuesday saw The FIZZ with our guest poet Barry Patterson. The evening started in the light and as the dusk descended, the people from Polesworth and beyond settled into a very special evening of poetry.

Barry Patterson - at THE FIZZ

Barry did two sets either side of the interval giving his wonderfully unique delivery of his poems and songs that took us into nature, out to India, the ring road in Coventry, to the poetry readings at the Tin Angel and into Pooley pit with a Geordie miner lad. He captured the spirit of these places and took us into looking at the world with fresh eyes, opening our minds to new ways of experiencing out environment.

Barry mixed in beats from his bhodran, building a tempo that entranced the audience into a calm vision of the natural world. Added to this were tunes from a bone flute that stirred the atmosphere to shift into a comfort that hung on his every word. It was a wonderful set from this much acclaimed poet and performer.

There were other noted performances from the floor, particularly of note:

Gina Coates, who read three poems including her Poets Trail poem, all showed a poet who has worked hard at her craft over the last twelve months and is now developing her own voice. The empathetic voice of a mother whose thoughts care about all that touch her. She finds her voice in the significance of choral performances at a memorial to soldiers, such that meaning and the reasons for the performance resonate through her poetry.

Janis Kind is another voice that has developed over the last year. Janis focuses on small events and their relationship to the larger world view as she observes birds in snapshots of time, showing that the whole view is not one significant event but a collection of much smaller events each with its own place and importance.

Alex Simpson gave us some of his wonderful prose, with memories of a car and all that he and his family did on their travels around the country and into Europe, he gave us all thoughts of sentimental attachments of objects that touch our lives.

All the performances on the night were special and I should mention Terri and Ray Jolland who brought humour to the night with “There’s a fault in my poem”. Margaret Torr who is the guest at the next Fizz gave us a taste of what we can expect from this accomplished writer, poet and storyteller. Ian Ward and Tom Wyre gave us their excellent poems and are two more poets who we will get as guests at the Fizz next year.

The evening was rounded off by Antony Owen, who was guest poet last year and continues to develop his canon of poetry of conflict that has seen his reputation grow as the 21st century’s great war poet.

I would like to thank Barry for his performance and for bringing a new calmness to Polesworth on the night that made for an atmosphere that allowed all the other poetry shine.

It was great to see so many new faces at the Fizz many of them coming along to listen, it is always fantastic to welcome listeners to poetry and to engage new audiences.

You can see Barry at Nightblue Fruit at Taylor John’s, the Canal Basin in Coventry on the first Tuesday of the month – the next being tomorrow.

The next Fizz is on 22nd May at Polesworth Abbey, Refectory when out guest will be Margaret Torr.

Wednesday and Thursday saw four new poems installed on to the Polesworth Poets Trail.

The poems were all developed from the experiences of the workshops that we held in Polesworth twelve months ago.

Barry Patterson’s poem Advice to a Geordie Miner Lad in Pooley is located near to the capped pit head and invokes the memories of the Miners from the North East coalfields who migrated down to the Warwickshire pits in the 1950’s and 60’s. Full of imagery and dialect that would have been so much part of the Pooley pit life in this period.

Advice to a Geordie Miner Lad at Pooley by Barry Patterson

Margaret Torr’s poem Pooley Pit Ponies is located close to the path into the nature reserve, close to an Oak sapling which in time will grow to protect and provide shade for this great poem. The poem reflects on the comradeships between the men and their ponies. The ponies are often forgotten when we consider mining, but not to the miners who relied on them to haul their stints along the tracks to be raised in the cages.

Pooley Pit Ponies by Margaret Torr

Gina Coates’ poem Living Echoes is located where the paths meet from the Car park down to the visitors centre. It reflects on times, ancient, past and present with its echoes of the carboniferous, the mining life and introduces the thoughts of Women as miners, to the present day as field of play and leisure.

Living Echoes by Gina Coates

The forth poem installed was by Bernadette O’Dwyer whose poem Jutt is a snapshot of the life of a stubborn pit pony who worked in Pooley mine. It captures the fond memories that the miners had for this character who would only haul a certain number of coal trucks. It was as if this pony held its own ideals on acceptable working practices and dug its feet in when these were exceeded. Bernadette’s poem is located near to the heritage centre opposite the pit wheel.

Jutt by Bernadette O'Dwyer

I am so proud of all the poets who are on the trail all of whom have found a connection with Polesworth and Pooley that I made when I started the project five years ago.

More poems will be installed in the coming weeks.

When people come together with a common goal wonderful things can happen. The “what seems impossible” is just by passed as their enthusiasm rubs off on other people and doors open. This is even better when a family comes together and makes wonderful events happen.

I am talking about the variety show that took place at the Progressive Club in Tamworth on Friday last, all to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

The show was the brain child of Emma Smith, who as a dancer produced the show and brought together dancers, singers, comic magicians drawing performances from her family and friends, with me as the family poet.

There was so much fun in the production that the enthusiasm of the cast flowed out to enchant the audience.

This element of fun and laughter kept the production on track through the long hours and stress in the run up to evening.

It was a great show with everyone playing their part to raise over £650 on the night which will be added to the growing fund as members of the family continue fund raising, the next event is the Brighton marathon, where members of the cast will be running in aid of this great cause.

All credit goes to Emma, Clair Crawford, Dee Smith, Ryan Smith, Chris Smith, Rachel Birks, Rachel Smith, Mick Smith, Krissy, Sarah and Kingsbury School of Dance, Little Ryan for compereing, Small and Fat DJ’s for the sound system and music. Not forgetting the other members of the family who sold tickets, programme and ran the raffle.

As for myself, I played a very small part, but realised that I had to change my style and delivery into a performance in keeping with the fun of the rest of the acts.

My final delight was to be considered as a Dad Dancer during the finale, hey I have made it up a rung of the dancing ladder who knows if I keep going like this I may end up on Strictly – though don’t hold your breath on this one.

We were so busy and wrapped up in the event we forgot to take photos, which is a pity.

There is now talk of doing it all again next year and I look forward to playing my part.

Radio Wildfire broadcast tonight – Dave Reeves emailed me with the programme which is as follows.

No fooling, we’ve a programme that’s jam packed with quality, originality, accessibility, variety, and a little solemnity in this month’s Radio Wildfire Live! @ www.radiowildfire.com

There’ll be the usual selection of tracks uploaded to our ‘Submit’ page by listeners, including new work from poets Mark Goodwin and Alison Boston, and a story from Keith Large, amongst others.

We’ll be featuring a tribute to the poet Geoff Stevens who passed away in February. Widely published across the world and much respected for his work publishing other poets in Purple Patch magazine, Geoff cut his own path through the literary world. Joined by his long-time collaborator Brendan Hawthorne, we’ll be talking about his literary life and playing tracks by Geoff himself.

We’ll also have the first in a series of exciting collaborations with the Bunbury Banter Theatre Company, a beautifully produced and at times disturbing drama At the Fourth Minute, written by Lee Ravitz.

There’ll be a selection of tracks from the excellent CD from Norman Cristofoli’s Labour of Love magazine and Coffee House performance series in Toronto, Like a Diamond in the Sky.

And there’ll be the latest in Mal Dewhirst’s series The Lost Poets, a look at forgotten and under appreciated writers from across the years and around the world that it’s Mal’s mission to draw your attention to.

The show, as always, is presented by Dave Reeves.

Radio Wildfire Live! is followed at 22:00 by the monthly diary from Birmingham’s poet laureate with Jan Watts’ Irons in the Fire and then Longden’s Listings with Gary Longden, the only complete spoken word events diary being transmitted. Listen in and catch your own events being discussed.

Join us: Monday 2nd April from 8.00 pm UK time at www.radiowildfire.com

Radio Wildfire: you’d be a fool to miss it.


You can still hear my lost poet piece on Banjo Patterson on the Radio Wildfire Loop.

Another will be broadcast tonight and I will write about another poet next week on this blog.


Readings in April.

3rd April – Night Bluefruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry.
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?

Hot Taps.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

New poems on the Poets Trail.


The Wall – Pink Floyd.


It is THE FIZZ at Polesworth on Tuesday 27th with guest poet Barry Patterson plus open mic. At Polesworth Abbey, High St, Polesworth where I will be your host. This is a free event and all are welcome.

Last week was a remarkable week which saw me working on every evening either attending readings, meetings or running workshops.

Whilst this was hectic there were some wonderful outcomes.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of running a workshop with the Tamworth Writers Group in the Old Town hall, a wonderful building that was built by Christopher Wren and sees a statue of Sir Robert Peel watching over the town from his plinth at the end of the old market vault.

The workshop was part of the project to produce a performance of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, which I have mentioned previously on this blog.

The workshop focussed on the song Comfortably Numb, which we discussed as a poem and then listened to it as a song and discussed it further. The writers group then wrote single line responses to the lines from the song.

There was one surreal moment when the room was silent as the writers crafted their lines, when drifting in from the outside came the busking sound of the same very song – The busker in the Market Vault giving us his version, I could not have planned this and it seemed to reaffirm what we are doing as if the busker was offering his support to this wonderful project.

The lines that were produced were numerous and different in context and style. When they were read out I could see some concerned looks as to how these lines would be put together to make a group poem as a response to the song.

I have seen these concerned looks many times before, in fact every time I do this exercise with groups, but I have never had this fail, when we start to consider the lines and group them together then the poem suddenly comes to life as the structure, themes and voices begin to meld into a story.

We did not have time to complete the poem and the group will continue with the exercise at their next meeting with a view to submitting it for consideration as part of the show.

Friday saw me attend a meeting at Pooley Country Park to discuss the installation of new poems on the Poets Trail. I arrived to find eight of the poems standing in line in the visitor’s centre, proud representatives of the poetic art patiently waiting to be given their permanent place.

A proud regiment of poems.

Four of the finished poems are to be installed along the canal, this involves wider consultation which is near completion but we are not quite there and as such we will be installing these in April.

The other four are to be installed in the country park which we can progress with; in fact the park rangers were just waiting for me to say where they should go.

I had already thought this through as you would expect, I am not making this up as I go along. However the site has changed significantly over the last 12 months, finding me face with a new car parking layout which meant that my original ideas would have seen the poems place in precarious positions with the risk of readers being mixed in with the passage of traffic entering and leaving the site.

This meant some rethinking but as we walked the site things fell into place and the four locations were identified and marked with a peg.

The four poems will be installed over a couple of days starting on Wednesday 28th March by the Parks team.

The poems to be installed this week are:

Barry Patterson’s – Advice to a Geordie Miner Lad in Pooley
– This will be located near to the capped pit head.
Margaret Torr’s – Pooley Pit Ponies
– Which will be located close to the path by the wind turbine.
Gina Coates’ Living Echoes
– To be placed where the new paths from the car park to the Heritage centre meet.
Bernadette O’Dwyer’s – Jutt
– Which will be placed on the bank at the back of the heritage centre on the opposite side to the playground.

I will post some photographs of them in situ on my blog next week.

So by Friday evening I was already in the euphoric realms of delight as I headed to Spoken Worlds in Burton, for which I was a few minutes late having taken some time to notify the poets of the news from the trail.

Spoken Worlds was one of those special nights when there are several outstanding performances and pieces that are marked out as genius.

On Friday there were several great pieces of note, including; Gary Longden’s poem inspired by the quotes of footballers, which was sharp and funny and captured the nonsense that footballers quote in interviews on the TV and football programmes, this poem needs to be heard time and again and should be requested when ever Gary reads it is a signature piece.

A new voice to Spoken Worlds was Dwane Reads from Derby whose poem of the moment about the hopes for 2012 were mapped out as if we had got to October and they had really happened. The poem as Dwane agreed was very much of the moment, on that this time next year would no longer be relevant. It would however be interesting to see him write the after the event version.

Margaret Torr’s delivery of a Vikram Seth poem from memory brought out her expertise as a story teller, engaging the audience with her eyes and movement. Margaret is guest poet at the Fizz in May and I look forward to seeing her perform a full set.

Terri Jolland read a very new piece where she looked back at her time working in an area of Leicester, that she returned too the previous Saturday when she went along to the State of Independence, which I discussed in my blog last week. Terri’s piece was full of memory and comparison, brought about by the surprise of revisiting the area where she had once worked and had now changed so much with the development of De Montfort University. A day that provided her with a gateway to memories and new poetry.

Terri and her husband Ray also delivered a comic sketch, which has become a trademark for them; Spoken Worlds has grown to expect such a piece. This month they delivered a comic triumph that saw William Shakespeare trying to compare Anne Hathaway to a summer’s day only to be interrupted by Anne with her musings that had this happened then he would never have completed his famous sonnet. It was full of fresh quips and whimsy and delivered to perfect comic timing, a wonderful piece.

The whole evening was full of some great poetry with other notable performances from Steph Knipe who gave us some of her poetry as song, Janet Jenkins who mused on Sparrows, Tom Wyre reading poems he rarely reads from his excellent collection Soliloquy, Ian Ward in the Borderlands, where he called Polesworth a city, that would not go down well at The Fizz where the locals still consider the town as a village. Rob Stevens from Buxton gave us song and poetry along with limericks in tribute to Edward Lear, which is part of a project to cover the Buxton Dome with new limericks.

The host Gary Carr made this magical evening flow with his eloquent introductions and before we knew it, it was 10:30 and time to head home.


Finally Yesterday afternoon saw me attend the penultimate rehearsal for a charity show that is taking place on Friday at the Progressive Club in Tamworth to raise funds for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

The show is a wonderful mix of dance, song, magic and comedy and few poems from me. It has been organised and produced by members of my extended family. This is the first rehearsal that I have been able to attend, but as my set is self contained this has not halted the progress of what promises to be a gem of a show.

There is so much laughter and enjoyment from all those involved it was a delight to be part of it, I only wish I had had more time to see it develop.

This should not mask the amount of time and effort that has gone into organising it, with performances to be choreographed, props and costumes to be made, comic sets to be written and rehearsed, songs to be learnt. I felt humbled by my small contribution, trucking up at the last minute to deliver some already written poetry. I will be reading some of my more comic poems but am working on my introductions and engagement with the audience as there is so much professionalism among the laughter of this show that I would not want to let them down.

Those who know me will also know that dancing is not something you would associate with me and my awkward out of step gyrations that make even “Dad Dancing” look good. So you will be pleased to know that I have even been convinced to dance in the finale. It took little coaxing, the spirit of those involved was so welcoming and fun that there was never any consideration that I would not do it.

There is a final rehearsal on Wednesday I am so much looking forward to it.

Congratulations to all of the Smith Family especially Emma, Clare, Dee, Chris, Ryan, Rachel and Mick and all of their friends for staging this show and bringing so much untapped talent to the stage.

The show is at 7:30pm at The Progressive Club, Halford St, Tamworth, Tickets are £4:00 and will be available on the door – all proceeds go to the charity.

There may be some photos next week, watch this space.

For more information on Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.


Don’t forget you can hear my lost poets on Radio Wildfire – Banjo Patterson is now on the loop.

I am still researching a very interesting Chinese poet at the moment and will post another piece in the next couple of weeks.


Readings in March.

March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Feeding the ducks.


Still listening to the Hydranoid Musia – September set, absolutely wonderful.


The Fizz last week was a very special evening with guest poet Antony Owen. It was special because it demonstrated my point of last week on synergy. Antony’s poems are without doubt pieces that stand alone in their brilliance and insight; he truly is the modern war poetic voice. His performance on Tuesday saw him use a musical backdrop to his reading, his carefully crafted words delivered to a mix of sounds that brought Sangin, Rwanda and the plight of the Dreaded Boy in to the room with a resonance that left the listener feeling that the heat of battle, the crush of tyranny and the death of so many innocent people was being enacted here in a small North Warwickshire village.

The poetry and the music as a combined force, a force that brought an outer silence, but an inner echo as thoughts crafted emotions into a new understanding.

A truly rare and wonderful evening.

You can see Bernadette O’Dwyer’s review at Beyond the Arras.

A few weeks ago I mentioned The Pitman Poets who will be appearing at the Century Theatre at Snibston Discovery Park, near Coalville in Leicestershire next Saturday 1st October. They will be singing the songs of one of my Lost Poets Tommy Armstrong the pitman poet from the North East coalfields; Tommy is also one of the three poets whose life and work is the inspiration for the GRAFT project. – See Blog 17th May 2011

I spoke to the box office this morning and there are still a few tickets available for what promises to be a fantastic evening of songs from the coalfields. Grafting songs of toil, sweat, danger and hardship that created a tough unbreakable spirit of identity and comradeship. Words that were echoed in the thoughts of the Pooley Miners who shared their experiences in the Polesworth Poets Trail workshops earlier in the year.

I have my tickets so I hope to see you there.

Tickets are available from




The Box Office
Snibston Century Theatre.
Ashby Road

Tel: (01530) 278444
Web: http://www.centurytheatre.co.uk/diary/show/the-pitmen-poets

As promised I am returning to my search for LOST POETS this week with a poet who lived in the times of the Polesworth Poets, the late 16th and first half of the 17th centuries. He was not as well known as Drayton, Jonson, Donne et al and to some extent he was a very minor poet in comparison, indeed he has been described as more a wit than a poet. He can also be described as one of the GRAFT poets; perhaps the earliest of the poets who grafted for a living and wrote poetry in any spare time, having no patrons or family wealth in which to sustain him as a full time writer.

These two factors of being a contemporary of Drayton and a Graft poet are enough for me to spark my interest in including him as a lost poet. It was confirmed when I read a reference in a 1902 Encyclopaedia that finished with “he wrote nothing worthy of remembrance”. This to me sounded like academic snobbery, leaving me with an inclination to reassess his work. My research left me in no doubt that he if anyone does, really does belong on the list of lost poets.

My Lost Poet for this week is John Taylor – The Water Poet (1578-1653)

John Taylor - The Water Poet.

John Taylor was born in Gloucester in 1578, it is uncertain as to who is parents were or what their occupations were, but they do appear to have a level of affluence to be able to educate their son. John received his education until he felt he could no longer master the intricacies of Latin Grammar and so abandoned his education and went to London in the 1590’s. He had however the ability to read and write and was articulate despite his choice of not pursuing an academic life.

Taylor was an apprentice waterman, one of the many boatman who ferried passengers across the Thames, as London at that time only had one bridge. His passengers were often well educated and were seeking the entertainments to be found on the South Bank of the river, with the theatres and drinking houses including Shakespeare’s Globe. Taylor was able to engage with his passengers with far more conversation than is more rough hewn counterparts. He was noted for his knowledge and also his politeness.

He soon began to put is education to use and began writing poetry and social commentary. He became a great self publicist and published pamphlets of his poems. He would often poke comments at other writers of his day and was embroiled in a pamphlet war with the established poet Thomas Coryate who was on the receiving end of Taylor’s wit, in his first collection of 1612, The Sculler.

These controversies boded well for Taylor who saw his literary career take off, almost treating his work as a brand, he was one for challenges that saw him stood up by the writer William Fennor in a highly publicised “Trial of Wit” in 1614 and rival petitions to the King which saw his pamphlets burned by the chief hangman. All of this kept his name in the minds of the public and was to offer him a literary career for next 50 year. His performances, readings of his poems were received to great acclaim.

He continued as a waterman, styling himself as ‘The Water Poet’, his verbal abilities saw him representing the Watermen at Court during the Watermen’s disputes in 1641/2, when there were moves to bring the theatres from the south bank over to the north, thus removing the need for people to cross the river and so greatly impacting the livelihoods of the watermen, his protestations were to no avail and so the theatres moved.

He was by all accounts a great traveller, often embarking on great journeys through Britain and Europe, often travelling without money, relying on acquaintances to provide him with food and lodgings. He wrote of these travels, making comment of what he saw and who he met, perhaps one of the first travel writers, which are so popular today on the bookshelves of the retail bookshops.

One journey saw him rowing 40 miles of the inland waterways in wherry made of varnished brown paper kept afloat by eight bullock’s bladders and powered by oars made from dried fish and canes. This was documented in his poem, The Praise of Hempseed.

By the end of his life he was running a pub in Phoenix Alley, Longacre near to Covent Garden, calling it the Crown at a time when the Crown had just lost his head. His loyalty to Royalty did not go down well and when he referred to the pub as the Mourning Crown he found the protest too much to bear and so renamed the pub The Poet’s Head. With declining incomes and failing health, he died in relative poverty in December 1653.

So the question remains did he leave anything of real worth?

There is a pub in Spitalfields called The Water Poet in his memory; of his own ale house The Poet’s Head, the site is now Banbury Court off Long Acre, down the alleyway next to the H&M store.

Of his writings and out the 63 published works there must be something that is worthy of mention.

His writings are of great value to Social Historians, his commentary on daily working lives and his travels give a real insight to the thoughts and conditions of working people of the time.

He is also credited with creating some 75 slang terms that were used in his poetry some of which is still in common parlance today, such as “blind” as in drunk.

He writes one of the first recorded palindromes “Lewd I live & evil I Dwel”.

He also is the first recorded writer to write about the death of Shakespeare, writing this in 1620 some four years after Shakespeare’s death.

In paper, many a poet now survives
Or else their lines had perish’d with their lives.
Old Chaucer, Gower, and Sir Thomas More,
Sir Philip Sidney, who the laurel wore,
Spenser, and Shakespeare did in art excell,
Sir Edward Dyer, Greene, Nash, Daniel.
Sylvester, Beaumont, Sir John Harrington,
Forgetfulness their works would over run
But that in paper they immortally
Do live in spite of death, and cannot die.

This may not be a lot in terms of other writers of the time, but as I said at the beginning of this piece he was a very minor poet. He was certainly a great character and showman. He understood how to manipulate the media of the day for his benefit. NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS – I can almost hear him say it. This mantra of the celebrity culture that says it does not matter what people are saying as long as they are saying it about you.

Finally, if there is any small grain of truth in the forthcoming film on Shakespeare, Anonymous, (and we do know how Hollywood likes to rewrite history, Enigma as an example). But if there is any truth in the film, then Shakespeare, the great showman, the great self promoter, could have learnt something from Taylor, because John Taylor not only had the showmanship capabilities, but John Taylor was also a writer.

The Water Poet Pub in Spitalfields.

John Taylor as a hero of Slang.

Poem – The Praise of Hempseed.


September Readings

30th Sept – Launch of Sculpture on the Mound at Pooley Country Park.

Some advanced dates for October

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

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Water pumps that don’t pump.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

My favourite Cola based drink – Can’s 4 for £1 instead of 60p each elsewhere.


Argus – Wishbone Ash


It is World Book Day on March 3rd,when hundreds of copies of books will be given away by volunteers who have a passion for books and want to get more people reading, or a least reading something that they would not normally read.

To mark this occasion and to ensure a wide range of people (some might not be in town on Thursday) can receive free books, Rach Flowers in Nuneaton, Warwickshire is presenting World Book Night on March 5th. She informs me that she and a friend are performing a double act and want to have fun as well as enthuse people to love books and reading as much as they do. This event is in conjunction with Waterstones and Nuneaton Town management who are supporting the event.

Rach will be giving away about one hundred copies of Seamus Heaney’s New selected Poems and asked if I have any information cards about the Polesworth Poets Trail, which I am only to glad to provide as she will give them out with every copy of the book.

used under a creative commons licence

Seamus Heaney - Photo Copyright Sean O'Connor

Seamus Heaney’s New Selected poems – was originally published by Faber and Faber in 1990 and covers his work from 1966 to 1987, including selections from the first seven collections of his poetry, which features the Whitbread prize wining The Haw Lantern (1987). This collection demonstrates Heaney’s word plays and use of adjectives to explore the world, ourselves and our emotions “Close up”. His poetry has the richness and bountiful dimension that comes from a poet who lives life. John Carey said of Heaney. ‘More than any other poet since Wordsworth he can make us understand that the outside world is not outside, but what we are made of.’ He has also been described as the most important Irish poet since W.B Yeats.

John Carey is literary critic and writer who has written books on John Donne, so there is always a link back to Polesworth.

Are we seeing a trend here, when it comes to Poetry, All roads lead back to Polesworth.

Rach has set up a Facebook group Double Booked, where she hopes the creative talent of North Warwickshire will join up to talk literature and poetry.

I wish Rach and her friend all the best with this promotion and if you are in the area of Waterstone’s in Nuneaton on the 5th March then do go and say hello and pick up a copy of Seamus Heaney’s book and details on how to visit the poetry trail. Maybe you will be enticed to come and read at the Fizz – poetry and spoken word evenings.

This is one of many Book Giveaway events that are taking place as part of World Book Day – so look out for one near you.

You can link to Rach’s Facebook Group through the following link

Double Booked

And the next Fizz at Polesworth Abbey is on the 22nd March when the guests will be the Lichfield Poets.

The Fizz 6

Due to a prior commitment, which I would not have wanted to miss, I was unable to attend Gary Carr’s splendid Spoken Worlds last Friday, however all is not lost for those who missed it as Gary Longden was there and has written a great review at behind-the-arras.

Behind the Arras

By the sound of it I will struggle to get back into the next one as the popularity of this evening ever increases, it looked like a good night with a great crowd. It is good to see Gary Carr’s hard work is paying off and I look forward to the next one on the 18th March.

Recently, I have not had much time for thinking about anything other than the Poets Trail workshops which start on Saturday. However my thoughts are now drifting towards, what I should do next, next being when the Poets Trail is finished for this phase and the new poetry films are in the can.

I still have a collection of poems that I am putting together, which are in the main formed around a theme and there maybe a few poems to be written to complete the theme. There will be the editing to do as I am sure they can all be improved.

But what beyond that – should I complete the novel of which I have the first 18,000 unedited words or should I explore some more poetic themes.

Should I give up the day job and make films, run workshops, attend readings.

I really need a sponsor who will support me through the creative life that I live in my head.

The life that sees me rising a 6:00 and writing until 10:00 then correspondence till lunch.

Lunch at the pub, a ploughman’s lunch with a soft drink! Then walking the hills and dales in the afternoon, turning over ideas, looking for answers, grabbing at hooks, building up plots, then returning home in time for tea.

Evenings spent reading on the porch or by the fire, or performing or just in the pub with a pint or two and honest conversation.

Then there will be days when I am filming, rising to catch the dawn light, scouting for landscapes, settings and camera angles. Then sitting at the editing desk creating geographies that only exist on film.

Working with Jimi on the music and sound effects, working with poets on dialogue and verse.

It all happens in my head, it’s not a virtual world, it’s real to me, if only I had a sponsor.

My main hope for a sponsor keeps saying no, despite me asking every week, I still end up throwing away my non-winning lottery ticket on Sunday morning.


Workshop #1

This takes place next Saturday when we will explore the poetic styles and devices that poets use, looking at the first ten poems on the trail and looking at how the styles where used to good effect.

Following this we will look at the characters that make up a landscape and how we can give them a voice.

Finally we will introduce the ten themes around which the new poems will be developed.

I am really looking forward to working with the twenty poets who have signed up for the workshops and seeing the new poems written through a true understanding of the spirit of the place.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Lack of Time

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Warwickshire Life printing the poem The River Anker by Emma Putland


And The Glass Handed Kites – MEW


Last week, my writing week started on Tuesday evening with a trip to Coventry, I went of my own volition, I wasn’t sent, before you ask. Night Blue Fruit at the Tin Angel is Heaventree Press’ monthly poetry night, its name taken from Joyce’s Ulysses, which itself finds its roots with Homer, and so the poetic air of the event hangs around the doorway of the Tin Angel. This café come bar is made for reading poetry, it is not an “in your face” place, its low lights and small bar, its hum of Jazz. If Hopper had come to Coventry he would have painted it, with its slight shabbiness, its mix of furniture, the CD bar and posters that show real music is a live and being performed on small stages in Coventry. And so to our temporary stage with its open mic. The seating and surroundings don’t matter, the Jazz is tuned out, it is the poetry that people want to hear.

The night was compered by Barry Patterson who gave us poetry and song from the heart of the woods, his drum beating out the tribal dance of the ancient knowers. He introduced a wonderful mix of poets of all ages. The young Josie Allen whose poetry from the art gallery buzzed with sexual tension, and the not so young Colin Dick whose poetry always entices you into the world of someone with a wise artists eye, his colour filled words trip from his brush tongue, to nostalgic times that could have happened yesterday. Diane, whose monthly poems of her mysterious muse, who wants her, but then never arrives.

There were new faces, all young: Charlene, Anna and Si, all expressing the nervous mellow voices of poets climbing aboard the poetry clipper for the first time.

Then there was me, not one of the young, closer to the old. Taking my time, I got into a place where my lyrics floated from my tongue, my carefully crafted words sent in peace to drift among the ears and into the thoughts of my fellow poets, as they sat on the oddments of chairs, in this unique space.

This is the first time I felt really good about my reading, I didn’t have to act like a stand up comedian, didn’t have to make them laugh, I could hold them with my threads.

Night Blue Fruit is held at the Tin Angel in Old Spon St, Coventry on the First Tuesday of the Month.

Workshop Poster

Wednesday afternoon brought a meeting on the Poets Trail and saw me more business like. I presented the plans for the next phase of the trail, which were well received and I was able to confirm the dates for my workshops. Thursday saw a frenzy emailing and promoting to encourage poets to sign up for the twenty places to explore the ten new themes from which the new poems will be selected.

Within the first hour a quarter of the places were taken and as of now three quarters of the places are allotted.

 If you missed the details on my last blog then here are they are repeated below:

Polesworth Poets Trail is moving forward to complete the trail with the creation of a further TEN POEMS to be displayed along the canal and up into Pooley Country Park.

The POEMS will be selected from the works created as part of these workshops, which will explore themes around Coal, Nature, Navigation, Motorways and Heritage.

There will be four workshops are planned the following dates from 11am – 4pm

Sat 26th Feb – Sat 12th March – Sat 19th March – Sat 26th March in Polesworth and Pooley.

The workshops are FREE and open to everyone over the age of 16, who wish to develop their poetic style and be considered for inclusion on this award winning poetry trail.

Attending these workshops will be the ONLY WAY to be considered for inclusion on this phase of the trail. So don’t miss your opportunity to be included on this internationally recognised poetry trail.

Email me if you are interested in attending malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday evening saw the Mad Hatters Writers and Thursday evening, the Runaway Writers, both groups were depleted due to bugs and viruses, never the less both evenings created some interesting debate and careful and due consideration for the pieces offered.

These included an exert from Alex Simpson’s excellent Boy at War autobiography, with a chapter on the feelings and adventures of a seven year old boy evacuated from Glasgow. Gina Coates wonderful short story from the perspective of a retired nervous greyhound, there is some real mileage in these stories and I look forward to more.  Leanne Beardmore read the start of a re-found piece on the interactions of teenagers, which invoked discussion on dynamic teenagers who do real things. The piece has some great hooks and left us with a real desire to know what happens next, I hope she develops this further. We missed the Secret Writer, as she was fighting off a bug.

On Thursday we had some really thought provoking poetry from Dea Costelloe on the unacknowledged victims of war, A wonderful poignant poem from Margaret Torr inspired by the Yorkshire poet Ann Moss on the theft of hearing and dealing with deafness and following the fire alarm, which saw us rush out on to the car park, only to find it was a false alarm, we ended the evening with Terri Jolland’s humorous poem on being a loose knitter, which lightened the evening. We missed several members with bugs and viruses and I only hope this winter goes quickly and we can get back into our stride.

This week sees me organising a party and putting the final preparations to workshop material.


The Poets Trail Workshops

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The promotion of trivia.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The buzz and the anticipation.


Learn to sing like a star – Kristin Hersch.


Last week turned out to be busier than expected as several projects were given the green light and so the serious planning got underway.

The second phase of the Polesworth Poets trail was approved and will see the trail extend from where the first phase finished on the canal up into Pooley country park.

The first phase saw ten new contemporary poems displayed on sculptures throughout the town and was completed at the end of 2009. The poems eight of which were the result of a national competition and two which were special commissions have already attracted new visitors to Polesworth. The original plan was always to take the trail up into Pooley country park, thus linking Polesworth Abbey to the Mining Heritage at Pooley.

Phase two will establish ten further poems which will be selected from poems created as part of four workshops I am running in February and March. These workshops will explore ten themes, including Coal, Nature, Navigation, Motorways and Heritage. Poets attending these workshops will be able to able to experience the environment and talk to local experts on the themes, from which they will be encouraged to develop new contemporary poetry.

The workshop are all planned in terms of content and have been since before last Christmas, so the activities are around arranging dates, locations and the local experts. See Coming Soon Doings for more information.

Workshop Poster 

The second project that got the green light was the First Polesworth International Poetry Film Festival, as I was able to confirm the facilities and some dates, I am planning this for the Fizz in November.

The other aspect of this, to truly call it an international film festival, was the permission to show films from abroad. I received news this week from a Los Angeles based film director who gave his permission to show his poetry film, which was originally shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. I will give you more details nearer the time.

I already have permission to use films from John Siddique, Sarah James and hopefully some others that are currently in discussion. Not to forget of course my own films of which Yell! will be included and hopefully some other films that I am planning to work on during the summer with poets who have approached me with film ideas.

I am never the less, CALLING for FLIMS – They should be no longer than 10 minutes and relate to the theme of a poem. Please email me if you think you have a film we can include in this showcase of the best contemporary poetry films and we can discuss it. Email malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

 Call For Films

This week sees the monthly Night Blue Fruit Poetry evening at the Tin Angel in Coventry on Tuesday and The Mad Hatters Writers in Atherstone on Wednesday followed by the Runway writers in Burton on Thursday.


Polesworth Poets Trail Workshops.

Another chance for Poets to get their poems on the Poets Trail.

Polesworth Poets Trail is moving forward to complete the trail with the creation of a further TEN POEMS to be displayed along the canal and up into Pooley Country Park.

The POEMS will be selected from the works created as part of these workshops, which will explore themes around Coal, Nature, Navigation, Motorways and Heritage.

 There will be four workshops are planned the following dates from 11am – 4pm

 Sat 26th Feb – Sat 12th March – Sat 19th March – Sat 26th March in Polesworth and Pooley. These are subject to final confirmation.

The workshops are FREE and open to everyone over the age of 16, who wish to develop their poetic style and be considered for inclusion on this award winning poetry trail.

Attending these workshops will be the ONLY WAY to be considered for inclusion on this phase of the trail. So don’t miss your opportunity to be included on this internationally recognised poetry trail.

Email me if you are interested in attending malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk


Fizz 6 

The next FIZZ is number 6 when we will have the Lichfield Poets reading from their latest anthology Battle Lines – on Tuesday 22nd March at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

 Companies who think my life can’t go on without me using their products.

 What is DELIGHTING me this week?

 My new Jacket in the Sgt Pepper style, bright Red with blue trim.


 “The Above Ground Sound” of Jake Holmes.


This week is a busy week, with The Fizz on Tuesday, Mad Hatters Writers on Wednesday, The Runaway Writers on Thursday and Gary Carr’s excellent Spoken Worlds in Burton on Friday. More of which I am sure will be in next weeks blog.

 Over the weekend, I finally managed to get my poetry film YELL! loaded up to YouTube – you can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3G3ErCV9V8  or follow the link from my Film Projects page on my website www.maldewhirst.com.

 The film which takes as its subject the crop oilseed rape, reflects on it’s brilliance during May with everything to do with Yellow and its awkwardness come June when the flowers die off and the pods are revealed. It was filmed last year in the fields around where I live on the borders of Staffordshire and Warwickshire and used the poem Yell! recited in the film, as its story board.

 My son Jimi, created the music for the film, which draws an audio atmosphere of brightness followed by disappointment. I am really pleased with his interpretation, which he pulled together from listening to my thoughts and viewing the film, to create his soundscape that really compliments the images and the poem.

Yell! was premiered at the Alrewas Film Festival, which is run by Peter Ralley. Peter has made a fantastic film on the History of the Polesworth Abbey Gatehouse, involving lots of local people dressing up and re-enacting scenes from Abbey life, in which I got to play John Donne, somewhat stumbling over his words, but then again who is to say that he didn’t splutter and stumble a bit. I had the honour of writing the script and learnt such a lot about film making from Peter to whom I am extremely grateful. The end result is excellent and well worth going to see if you are in the Polesworth area.

 Yell! was also shown at The Cork Poetry Film Festival which is run by my good friend Paul Casey. Paul has made a fantastic film based upon Ian Duhig’s poem the Lamas Hireling. Paul’s film is made up completely of still photographs, which were taken using the action mode on a digital camera and then sequenced during the edit. I still can’t work out how Paul not only captures the movement but also incorporates the camera panning across the landscape. It is a truly remarkable film that was shown at the Zebra Poetry film festival in Berlin last year. If you get a chance to see it then it really is something fantastic to experience.

Talking of Jimi and his music, he has been putting the finishing touches to my 50th Birthday present. He has created five ten minute pieces of music that reflect aspects of my life over the last fifty years, a sort of Bioconcerto, which he will render into one continuous track for the completed piece. I have already heard some of it and know the themes that he has chosen. It should be completed in the next couple of weeks and I can’t wait to listen to it in the car, where I listen to most of music these days.

It seems we are all blogging, well not all but some of my fellow writing friends have like me, started 2011 with a new blog. I have included a link to a fellow writer’s blog (see Friends Blogs). The Secret Writer, I won’t reveal her name as you can read her blog to get an understanding of why she is remaining anonymous. She is a really good friend and great writer. Someone worth following as she develops her novel.

 I have also added in some of the blogs of other writing friends that I have been following for some time, those of Jo Bell, The Bell Jar, Matt Merritt, PolyOlbion and Jane Holland’s Raw Light.


 The Polesworth Poets trail phase 2 – The second phase of the trail is currently under discussion following the offer to produce the sculptures from a local organisation. This being the most expensive part of the trail development means that even in these hard financial times the second phase along the canal and up into Pooley Country park is a reality. I will be running some workshops that will see the creation of the next ten poems. I will keep you posted with progress and opportunities, photos and videos as the project progresses.

So watch this space.

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