Posts Tagged ‘Radio Wildfire’


What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

THE FIZZ with Margaret Torr




Gary Longden is reviewing the Wall and started by catching up with Simon for an Interview which I have re published below.

Simon Quinn, Director of the Fired Up Theatre Company, with the help of local poet and film maker Mal Dewhirst as associate artistic director, has embarked on producing a stage version of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” which will play at Tamworth Assembly Rooms in early June. Revisiting and re-imagining classic album material from past decades appeals to me and is something I suspect we will be hearing more of from various artistic quarters.

I managed to steal some time from Simon’s busy schedule to secure an exclusive interview with the man responsible for bringing this epic show to the Tamworth stage, as well as securing all the vital production information:

Q. What attracted you to “The Wall” in the first place?

Total self indulgence to be honest, or at least years ago that was the main reason, since then a recognition of how The Wall can resonate individual and group social issues has become more important . I used to deliver drama sessions for disabled learners at The Mac in Birmingham and we would get a half hour coffee break, so I used that time to go wandering around the foyer looking at the publicity flyers dotted around. I was a bit shocked to spot a programme for The Wall which had been, I think, a production encompassing all youth theatre’s across the city. This was about 2004/5, but the production was either early 90′s or late 80′s. I vowed that one day I was going to somehow produce a version of the show, what I didn’t know at the time was how to go about it. I started to experiment with other youth theatre shows that I had written and deliberately slotted in Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 as part of that particular narrative
within the performance.

Q. “The Wall” was released as an album in 1979. Three decades later how well do you think it has worn?

I think it is more relevant now then back in ’79. There are some simple clues as to why. I think the Floyd reunion for Live 8 captured a new audience and therefore created a clamour for their recorded work, in addition the fact that Roger Waters is still touring it , albeit a more political version and has been since 2010, has identified that new and older audiences still demand Floyd/Waters live performance. The crucial aspect however is that the album, film, live performance can so easily be reconstructed to something that can be recognised within each and everyone of us-where back in ’79 it was about the break up of The Floyd, Syd’s break down, the division between band and audience, loss of a loved one and greed- because that is what it was. Without sounding too pompous, it’s exactly the same remit as Shakespeare being designed in a contemporary vein for new audiences.

Q. Is there any new material in the production? How rigid were the demands of the Rights Holders?

This is the interesting one. The script is brand new-it is designed to be more localised ,in other words to fit the identity of the people of Tamworth. That is not mean’t in a derogatory way, it merely means this is a show by the people of Tamworth for Tamworth. It is very dance orientated and contains a lot of symbolism and metaphor’s, but crucially it also pays respect and testimony to Roger Waters work, so it is a bit of a balancing act. Strangely enough the demands regarding copyright have not been too rigid. I went through all the correct channels. Since last July I have been e-mailing ‘Matt’ at the fanzine web site Brain Damage asking questions of how , why and what, and he has been very helpful and courteous in passing on my requests to Mark Fenwick who is Roger’s manager, and eventually I received a very short e-mail granting permission-it was all a bit surreal. Brain Damage have also publicised the event which was terrific of them to do. The one thing I had to do was send a synopsis of ‘our’ creation so that we had a original slant on the existing work.

Q. What influence did the film version of 1982 have on this production?

To begin with it probably had more influence on certain cast members than myself. We used it as a template-certainly on the launch day, but to be honest I wanted to move away from the film-because we have our original script and we were more than keen in creating new practical and textual works-within the work-if that sounds ok.

Q. Who is performing the music and what challenges did recreating Pink Floyd’s sound create?

The music is being provided by Floydian Slip-a Pink Floyd tribute band from Chesterfield. They are the oldest or second oldest Floyd tribute act-so creating the Floyd sound is their ‘bag’. That was crucial to the project. If I am going to be honest, in an ideal world we would have wanted a group of musicians that we could have put together ourselves, but time and funding prohibited this course of action and in any case Floydian Slip are pretty accurate to the Floyd sound.

Q. Pink Floyd have a fan base dawn from their heyday in the 1970’s, how did the younger members of
the cast respond to the material?

This was very curious. We had primary schoolchildren belting out We don’t need no educshun!!! like second nature, and their parents would then play the album or the film to them at home. The cast is very mixed-our actor who plays Pink has morphed into Pink…..I mean worryingly so!.. but he is fab….other cast members had no idea about The Wall but rock n’ roll and performance drew them in. The real cool aspect is the mixture of ages taking part, or who have contributed in some other way to the project. I could get into grumpy old git mode and say can’t imagine this happening with artists today, but it is the longevity and kudos of certain works that draws ‘em in!

Q. What does “The Wall” have to say to a 21st Century audience?

The Wall , I think resonates more as a political and social vehicle today. We have added the themes of ageism, religion, anti-social behaviour, disability, domestic violence, contemporary war fare, greed, lack of respect , intergenerational apathy to the tried and tested formula. They are kind of little photographic snippets pocketed throughout the show-blink and you’ll miss them. This was the appeal to our backers, they could see that a work over 30 odd years old could be adapted to and involve people and groups into a piece of musical theatre that had contemporary ideologies running throughout.

Q.“The Wall” is one of the great popular music shows, what were the challenges of producing it for theatre rather than rock arena/amphitheatre?

It’s not just about the show. We are trying to use The Wall to encourage arts development for minority groups who can interact with Tamworth Arts development in order to improve the well being of all participants; so the show is only one aspect of The Wall. However as you asked about the challenges of the live show…how long have you got.? Rehearsing peripatetically, in other words visiting different, groups making sure they are on the ball with what they are doing. Liaising with the band, the real difficulty has been this. We made a point that we would all rehearse to the live album, Is There Anybody Out There? and not the studio album so the authenticity of the live performance could be felt by all parties, throughout. Also the synchronicity and cohesion is a major problem, because musically, the tracks generally segue from one into another. Our version is different because at different moments, the piece is broken up by poetry or acting or both then by dance and acting-so it is a headache-but that is the originality of the work. I don’t think it matters whether it is a theatre or a amphitheatre-it is still a performance arena-in fact I think the intimacy of our space makes the atmosphere a lot closer, alot more intensified, plus in true Floydian spirit we’ve maintained the lasers, lights, the back projection and the dry ice!

Q. What audience are you aiming for, is this a nostalgia show?

No it is not a nostalgia show! If it was intended that way we might just as well delivered it as a tribute act. This is one of the largest intergenerational community arts events that Tamworth has ever staged. We are aiming to enhance our arts development programme for people and places through this project. This is about increasing arts awareness for groups and individuals who otherwise are unaware of what is happening in the borough. This is our offering for the Cultural Olympiad. If on the other hand people just want to come and enjoy an evening of Pink Floyd-that is fine-but hopefully they will gain a greater insight into other artistic strategies and techniques also.

Q. Are there any other classic concept albums which you would like to bring to the stage?

In my view -and it is only my view-there are only three classic rock theatre concepts that ever demonstrate originality. One is The Wall, the other two are both by The Who, namely Tommy and Quadrophenia. I have actually enquired about performing Quadrophenia with a spoken narrative-as it did actually tour a couple of years ago with dialogue-but to date I have heard nothing. Two other concepts that would interest me would be staging a play by Patrick Jones, which I saw in Cardiff a few years ago, Everything Must Go, which has various songs by the Manic Street Preachers running throughout ( Jones is the brother of Nicky Wire), and on a more localised angle , I would like to do an original musical based on the life and work of Julian Cope from Tamworth, who of course fronted Teardrop Explodes.

The huge demand for tickets for one of the biggest community arts projects ever staged in Tamworth has prompted organisers to encourage prospective audience members to snap up tickets quickly – before they sell out.

The Wall is a contemporary re-imagining of the Pink Floyd rock opus. It is being staged at Tamworth Assembly Rooms on June 6, 7 and 8 by Arts Connects and Fired Up Theatre, by kind permission of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Mark Fenwick Management.

Using Pink Floyd’s classic music, with a new narrative brought bang up to date by Simon Quinn, The Wall is set on a fictitious housing estate somewhere in the West Midlands and explores contemporary themes including anti-social behaviour, poverty, unemployment, social deprivation, peer pressure and racism.

The project is Tamworth’s Cultural Olympiad offering for 2012 and is already bringing together and involving people from all ages and communities across Tamworth, including groups of people who would not normally work together.

People from all across Tamworth with skills including acting, mime, storytelling, dance, poetry, rapping, graffiti art, puppetry, music, stage fighting, film, projection, costumes, set design and props are already hard at work putting the production together.

They will be joined by top professional Pink Floyd tribute band Floydian Slip who will be performing throughout the production to create a polished performance, not only for Pink Floyd fans but for anyone with an interest in music and theatre.

Tickets for The Wall are available from the Tourist Information Centre in Corporation Street or by calling the box office on 01827 709618.

A short video explaining more about The Wall project can be viewed on Tamworth Borough Council’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YPtPGKcxLU

The project is being funded and supported by Fired Up Theatre, Arts Connects, Staffordshire Community Wellbeing Fund, Tamworth Arts Grants Scheme, Tamworth Community Safety Partnership, Staffordshire Local Community Fund and Staffordshire County Council’s Arts Grants Scheme.

Gary Longden – from http://garylongden.wordpress.com/



Gary also reviewed THE FIZZ last week where Margaret Torr gave us a wonderful reading you can see Gary’s review here.



There’s a brand new 2 hour mix of material in The Loop on Radio Wildfire – AND DON’T FORGET to join us for Listening to Leamington on Saturday 2nd June 10am – 4pm (see website for details).

Now playing 24/7 a completely new selection of stories, satires, poetry, spoken word, music and interview @ www.radiowildfire.com  – another two hours of live literature and chat.

In this edition …
The Loop brings you – A Tribute to the late Geoff Stevens by fellow poet and collaborator Brendan Hawthorne.

The Loop brings you Jonathan Davidson talking about Being Human the stage show he is producing in collaboration with Bloodaxe Books and Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, ahead of its national tour.

The Loop brings you new work from cds: Bananas From The Heart by Heather Wastie; From The Bunny ‘ill t’ Puddin’ Rock by Billy & Lozz; and Larry Stanley’s The Rain, from …Like A Diamond In The Sky.

The Loop brings you tracks uploaded to the Radio Wildfire ‘Submit’ page: the story of The Ghost of Charnes Hall from Stephen Harvey; Michael W.Thomas goes country with Cheryl’s Been A Mess (since you went away); Matthew Clegg’s field recording of his poem Chalk; and Mark Goodwin with the sound poem Growls and Miaows, and the wonderfully titled Open Mic as Cellar Door.

The Loop brings you the latest part of Mal Dewhirst’s series The Lost Poets. Episode 4: John Taylor, the water poet.

PLUS: Irons In The Fire: Jan Watts’ Laureate’s Diary – the monthly diary from Birmingham’s Poet Laureate

AND there’s Gary Longden’s Listings – check it out your gig might just be featured!

So join us and listen by going to www.radiowildfire.com  and clicking on The Loop

(And don’t forget, you can upload soundfiles of your own work to the ‘Submit’ page of the Radio Wildfire website. Mp3s are our preferred format. You can also ensure you always get reminders of upcoming shows on Radio Wildfire by following us on Twitter.)

The Loop is curated by Vaughn Reeves and will play online continuously for the next month, except during our Outside Broadcast Listening To Leamington on Saturday 2nd June from 10.00am and duringour live broadcast on Monday 4th June starting at 8.00pm UK time with a full programme of pre-recorded tracks, live studio guests and conversation.
We hope you enjoy it.
Best wishes from the folk at Radio Wildfire.

Radio Wildfire is an independent online radio station which blends spoken word, poetry, performance literature, comedy, storytelling, short stories and more with a novel selection of word/music fusion and an eclectic mix of musical styles. http://www.radiowildfire.com currently broadcasts live 8.00-10.00pm (UK time) on the first Monday of every month.


Readings in June

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


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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Ear ache

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A walk in the country


New York Bands



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

As I mentioned last week the Mars on the Rise is book launch is upon us, this is the first Steampunk novel by Rae Gee. The book explores dark themes, through the evil dealings of the company Veetu Industries, purveyors of SEX, DRUGS and STEAMPOWER. Not for the faint hearted but as
Jane Davitt said in her review for the US Launch:

“I was swept away by the story and brought into a world that’s brilliantly depicted in vivid detail.”

This novel is already number 54 on the German Gothic novel chart and number 38 on the German Gothic Romantic Novel chart, based on e-book downloads alone.

The run up to the launch has not been without its difficulties, with delays in the production and one of the bands having to pull out – but these have all been resolved in the main.

The Evening will feature the book launch with conversations with Rae, the showing of the Veetu Industries Commercial.

Plus performances from two great Steampunk bands and a Steampunk comedian.

The Cogkneys are a Derbyshire based Steampunk band and The Dark Design, who are coming all the way from Brighton to perform, describe themselves as Celtic, Steampunk, Victoriana band. They will be joined by the comic Count Rostov entertaining with his Steampunk wit.

I will reveal my alter-ego Sir Nigel Mallard as master of ceremonies.


Tickets are still available from Rae. – rae@glasscompletelyempty.co.uk

Links to websites
The Cogkneys – http://www.thecogkneys.co.uk/
The Dark Design – http://www.reverbnation.com/thedarkdesign
Count Rostov – http://www.countrostov.co.uk/

I will post photos and views on next weeks blog.


Last Tuesday saw Nightblue Fruit with a very accomplished reading from Sarah James and a bizarre reading from a student, Adele.
Gary Longen’s review can be found at http://behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices1.html#Blue_Fruit


As you are aware I recently started recording a series on the Lost Poets for Radio Wildfire, a few weeks ago I took the opportunity to interview the host and driving force behind this internet radio station, taking spoken word out to new listeners.

Dave Reeves at home behind the Mic.

MAL: Tell us a little bit about your background Dave, and how you came to be involved with Radio Wildfire?
DAVE: I’ve got a long history as a community publisher and writer and was editor/publisher of Raw Edge Magazine; the West Midlands based publication of new writing for 13 years until 2008. Radio Wildfire grew from a conversation between Vaughn Reeves and me late one evening when we were involved in the less sexy side of publishing (but a side crucial to the operation), stuffing envelopes with magazines. Basically we wondered why material that we were listening to at home was so hard to find on radio and, as with many projects, decided it was a case of – if no one else was doing it and we wanted to hear it, we’d have to do it ourselves.

MAL: Take us through how Radio Wildfire has developed?
DAVE: The original idea really began to take shape when Ali McK came onboard to help us make a pitch for some business help and at around the same time Ben Stanley got involved, taking charge of the technical side. It was Ali making us get the paperwork in order and Ben setting up the transmission side that moved us along.

MAL: Who do you have on your team to produce the programmes?
DAVE: The production is mainly done by Vaughn at the moment, with Ben working on programmes and projects when he is available. The setting up of The Loop is now Vaughn’s territory, as is the production side of the Live! show. Ali holds the back room together and deals with the production admin.

MAL: Tell us a bit about how you put the programmes together?
DAVE: The Radio Wildfire Live! show goes out on the first Monday of each month at 8.00pm, and is put together from tracks that people upload to the ‘Submit’ page of our website, tracks from cds that are posted to us, and interviews that are either conducted live in the studio or recorded the previous day. The Loop is then made up of tracks from the Live! show plus material from our ever-expanding archive of spoken word and music. All of the material that we use has to be the original copyright of the artist and not registered to any collecting body: so no cover versions.

MAL: Who do you see as your audience, where are they located and what are their interests?
DAVE: The audience is global, mainly in the English speaking world obviously, and predominantly from the UK. The longer that we are transmitting the further afield the material comes from. We have contributors in Canada and the US, but also get music tracks sent from Indonesia, for example.

As for their interests: I think an active interest in spoken word literature and literature with music is what they have in common – and we’ve got some great examples of extracts of novels read to live music as well as poetry and song. Plus short plays are becoming something of a feature at the moment, a development that we are really excited about. Although drama is a thread of material that we have been interested in from the very beginning the inclusion of it is audience led, by which I mean people have approached us with examples of their work rather than us going out to them.

MAL: Where do you get the material for the broadcasts?
DAVE: There are three main ways of collecting material: i) material that people upload to the ‘Submit’ page of our website; ii) work that is sent to us by post; iii) community projects that we undertake and which create content for transmission. Besides this there are of course the larger regular sections of our output which we create in-house.

MAL: How can people get new material to you?
DAVE: There are two ways of getting work to us, either through the ‘Submit’ page of the Radio Wildfire website, or through the post. The reason for the ‘Submit’ page is that it constructed so that you give us the right to transmit it by ticking a box and we don’t have to come back and ask if you own the work. This can be extremely important when people buy the rights to a piece of music and then include it in the track that they send to us, it let’s us know that we don’t have to get permission from elsewhere.

To send cds by post you just need to contact us through the website and we’ll send you a permissions form which has the postal address on. It’s crucial that people do it this way, please, as we need that permission form before we transmit anything.

MAL: Have there been any interesting incidents that you can tell us about, funny or otherwise?
DAVE: Interesting for us is probably the times there are three minutes to go before transmission of the Live! show and we find that we can’t get the software to transmit from the mics, but such things don’t make very interesting reading for anyone else. I guess the incidents that really stand out in the memory are novelist Jim Crace coming into the studio on a night that it was so cold that we all had our coats and gloves on and he and I started talking about Captain Beefheart rather than his writing; poet Julie Boden getting lost trying to find the studio and us hanging out of the window trying to guide her in with minutes to go before she was due to be on air; showing Jacqui Rowe’s etchings on Facebook at the same time she was reading the poems about them live from the studio; storyteller Clive Cole using models as props while he was telling a story live from the studio – just what you need as a listener, visual’s you can’t see (made me think of old radio shows with ventriloquists: anyone remember Educating Archie?); poet David Hart getting lost on the way to the studio (you’ll be getting the idea that the studio is well hidden); and us coming in to find the studio broken into and computer gear stolen just two weeks after we moved in to the new building: and this is why we now take care to ensure that we are so well hidden!

MAL: Where do you see Radio Wildfire heading in the future, are there any particular things you would like to be able to do?
DAVE: We are about to undertake our next live Outside Broadcast from Leamington Spa Heritage Festival. Two, two-hour transmissions from Gallery 150 on Saturday June 2nd will include a mix of new creative work and a series of vox pop interviews of people talking about things they have seen and done on that day. This is part of the work Radio Wildfire is undertaking in 2012 to celebrate 75 years of the Mass Observation movement. There’ll be opportunities to be included in the show and to interact with us as well, so do log on that day and join us. You can get more details by mailing us at listentoleam@gmail.com

The intention has always been to programme the station more but this takes time and money. We have been collecting material by doing field recordings at live events since we started operating and have hours of material that Vaughn is currently going back through as a preliminary to extending The Loop in the near future: an extension that has also seen your own The Lost Poets transmitted on a monthly basis.

What would we like to do? More. It’s as simple as that. We love working with recorded sound and to do more work with artists and communities is what Radio Wildfire is here for.

MAL: And for you personally what are your future projects?
DAVE: I’m currently performing a show based around my book and cd from Offa’s Press, Black Country Dialectics. I’m also rehearsing a new selection of spoken word and performance poetry with self-accompaniment on squeezebox and harmonica: something I last published on a cd titled poetryreeding. Another cd is being recorded under the title of The Devil Is In The Retail. The live shows use props as well as poetry and music: suitable for festivals, clubs, pubs and … well you get the picture. Thanks for asking.

Listen to Radio Wildfire at www.radiowildfire.com where The Loop plays 24 hours a day and the next LIVE SHOW is Monday 7th at 20:00.



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

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

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


Readings in May

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

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

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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?



Discreet Music – Brian Eno


The last week was very much a week of progression and preparation, mixed in with a radio broadcast and a poetry evening.


Monday saw me listening into the Radio Wildfire broadcast with some excellent pieces. Dave Reeves in the studio with Brendan Hawthorne paid tribute to Geoff Stevens who passed away in February with selection of Geoff’s readings whose Black Country take on life through a voice of poet who was inspired by the Beat poets certainly resonated with me. You can read more about Geoff at www.geoffstevens.co.uk/

There was also a great short story from Keith Large which was produced in a London recording studio. Keith goes that extra mile in producing the delivery of his work that befits the quality of his writing.
You can link up with Keith and his work at: http://www.carrotnapper.com/

A new theatre piece from Bunbury Banter Theatre also delivered a high quality production of this dark tale, I hope we hear more from them on Radio Wildfire in the future. You can see more of the work of this theatre company at www.bunbanter.com

Other pieces that made an impression on me were the sound poems by Leicestershire poet Mark Goodwin and Alison Boston. You can see more about Alison’s work at http://alisonboston.wordpress.com/

If you missed any of this then it will be on the loop at Radio Wildfire later in the month along with my lost poet Kenneth Rexroth at www.radiowildfire.com


Tuesday saw the monthly poetry event in Coventry, Night Blue Fruit, which saw the return of one of the founding members of this event as the guest poet. Michael McKimm who attracted a large audience to this wonderful evening. There were great readings from familier voices from the Heaventree Press stable including Michael, Jon Morley, Barry Patterson, Tony Owen and George Ttouli.

It was great to hear Jayne Stanton read in another great performance of the night. Jayne is one of the poets heading to Cork this summer as part of the literary exchange that I was honoured to be part of last year.

Colin Dick and Jon Morley at Nightblue Fruit

The renowned Coventry artist and poet Colin Dick also gave us his sage like insight to life and it was good to see him again.

Plus we were delighted to see many new readers.

Barry Patterson often describes the venue at Taylor John’s House as something out of scene from a David Lynch film and too our surprise David Lynch turned up to read. Although this David Lynch is a young writer from Northern Ireland and not the film maker. He did however deliver a good set with a mix of poetry and prose.

Night Blue Fruit is on the First Tuesday of the month at Taylor John’s House in the Coventry Canal basin. Next Month’s guest poet is the excellent Worcestershire poet Sarah James on Tuesday May 1st.
Night Blue Fruits facebook page can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/nightbluefruit


The rest of the week was spent progressing existing projects and in planning the some new ones, some of which really take off this week

The progression was on the edit of Double Booked and the installation of the Poets Trail along with shaping the potential role of a Staffordshire Poet Laureate. All of which, I have meetings on this week.


The preparation is for The Wall performances at the Assembly Rooms in Tamworth on June 5th-8th – the event is now being promoted on the Pink Floyd News website Brain Damage at http://www.brain-damage.co.uk/latest/community-performance-of-the-wall-coming-in-june.html

I, for my part, am throwing myself into supporting the project and will be reducing down my readings and other projects in the time between now and the end of the performances.

It is a project that takes the Arts out into the community and then brings back the results to be part of the show or the following exhibition. It brings together local artists from all different forms to work together and within the community, challenging us to experiment in the creation of something really new.

The music will be provided by the Pink Floyd Tribute band Floydian Slip using the original songs but this is then taken into contemporary directions with a script that is gritty, brave, daring and uncompromising. The script and the whole performance is by Simon Quinn of Fired Up Theatre in association with Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts Connect team, whose enthusiasm and dedication to bringing the community together is to be much lauded.

This is not something that will just entertain you for a couple hours, this is real art that will challenge your understanding of the world, make you question your values and beliefs. This will make you think and think hard about the role of communities and society.

I have already been working on some new poetry to be included in the show, some as sound pieces, and some as visual poetry on the screen rather than the page. Last week saw me edit together a film piece around my poem Empty Spaces and later today I plan to be recording my take on The Thin Ice.

This week sees a follow up workshop from the workshop with the Tamworth Writers a couple of weeks ago. I along with some of the Tamworth Writers will be working in one of the three Community Cafes tomorrow to develop a sound poem as a response to the Pink Floyd lyrics. This will be followed up with two further workshops over the coming weeks at the other two Community Cafés in the town.

In addition to this the rehearsal programme starts on Wednesday with a full day and will continue on Thursday and then every Wednesday evening and full days on Sundays thereafter right up until the performance. I intend to be at as many of these rehearsals as I can and welcome the opportunity to help shape something that has so much value to the community and the arts.

You can see the promotional video on Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YPtPGKcxLU


I know I promised a lost poet this week but as you can see I am up to my eyes with other interesting projects so I am resting them 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 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?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Plenty of new poetry to read.


Some music that might appear in some films.


Last Saturday saw States of Independence book fair at De Montfort University in Leicester. This annual fair is a wonderful opportunity to meet with independent publishers. I always come away with a lot of books and poetry pamphlets and this year was no exception with many new collections of excellence. A harvest all carefully gathered in.

I have listed my highlights below, they are in the order that I spoke to them, so please don’t read any preferences into the order, they are all excellent and well worth checking out, their websites are all listed and you can buy books from them directly or at the events that they run, some of which I have also highlighted where I am aware of them.

Nine Arches Press.

At this years fair I met up with Jane Comane and Matt Nunn of Nine Arches Press who have been busy promoting their latest collections, including Moses Footprints the last collection from the late Milorad Krystanovich. It was launch in March and is fitting tribute to this great poet.

Also from Nine Arches is the debut collection from Phil Brown – Il Avilit which charges its way through the clamour and chaos of the prevailing world.

I also bought the intriguingly titled Mytton… Dyer… Billy Sweet Gibson… by Deborah Tyler-Bennett which dissects three lives with personal poetic portraits that bring to mind the focussed, unruly, unconventional and occasionally madness.

Other titles from Nine Arches that I also found to be an interesting, often amusing and always engaging are Planet Shaped Horse by Luke Kennard which is one of the best selling pamphlets in the Nine Arches catalogue. Also look out for All the rooms of Uncle’s Head by Tony Williams, the excellent Matt Merritt’s hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, Shod by Mark Goodwin, Matt Nunn’s Sounds in the Grass and Simon Turner’s Difficult Second Album, all I would recommend.

Not to forget Nine Arches magazine Under the Radar – the latest edition of February 2012 is also available.

http://www.ninearchespress.com/index.html  and also check out their blog http://ninearchespress.blogspot.co.uk/

Crystal Clear Creators.

I had a chat with Jonathan Taylor from Crystal Clear Creators who did a wonderful offer on six of their pamphlets which I was more than happy to take up having heard readings from a couple of the poets in the run up to the launch of these excellent collections. The covers of Crystal Clear Creators pamphlets are full of imagery that has nature theme reminiscent of Chinese artistry.

Gopagilla by Roy Marshall takes its name from a made up word from his son, this easy flowing lyrical collection breathes birdsong into an inherited presence. A pleasure to read.

Bleeds from American poet Charles G Lauder Jr, explores humanity through body parts, a story teller whose imagery and sharp interpretations are a carnival of emotions and relationships. Another excellent read.

The other pamphlets as yet un-read are Citizen Kaned by Andrew ‘Mulletproof’ Graves, Lost Lands by Aly Stoneman, Someone Else’s Photograph by Jessica Meyhew and a collection of short stories, Without Makeup and other stories by Hannah Stephens. All of which will no doubt prove to me as excellent as the two I already knew.


Nine Arches Press and Crystal Clear Creators jointly host the Shindig at the Western pub the next one being tonight, which may be too late a notice, but keep an eye on their websites and blogs for the next one, it is always an excellent evening of poetry in Leicester.

Flarestack Poets.

Jacqui Rowe and Meredith Andrea were promoting the Flarestack Poets, all of whom they are immensely proud and so they should be they have some excellent poets in their fold. They were really pleased to be promoting their latest collection Instinct by Joel Lane, which is a selection of erotic poems that has been twenty five years in the writing from Joel whose novels and short stories already make this journalist from Birmingham a fairly well known name this latest collection of poetry can only raise his profile as a writer of excellence even further.

Other collections from Flarestack poets include Wake by Cliff Forshaw, Selima Hills Advice on wearing Animal prints, Herb Robert by Laura Seymour and Incense by Claire Crowther.


Jacqui hosts Poetry Bites at The Kitchen Garden Café in Kings Heath, Birmingham the next being Tuesday 27th, this is a well established poetry event, which as those of you who have run events like this, know, they only survive on their reputation for delivering excellence.

Templar Poetry.

At the Templar poetry, I met Paul Maddern whose collection The Beachcomber’s Report was published last year. Paul is an Irish poet who created the Seamus Heaney Digital Archive an online resource for poets. Paul was guest poet at O’Bheal in Cork City last year a couple of weeks before I had the honour of being invited along as the guest poet. I bought Paul’s collection and he signed it for me.


Shearsman Books.

I also picked up a copy of interviews through time with Roy Fisher on the Shearsman books stall which I will read with interest.

Shearsman also have an interesting book on the work of the poet George Oppen – Speaking the Estranged by Michael Heller is a collection essays written over twenty five years. Might be worth a look for the lost poets’ series.


It was great to see Matt Merritt who like me was seeking out the latest poetic titles. I also met Tony Gutteridge from the Grace Dieu Writers where we discussed organising some more joint meetings between the writers groups. It was also good to see members of Leicester’s Writers Club whom the Runaway Writers’ met in the final of the Write off a couple of years ago.

Mal’s Miscellany.

Last week also saw me add to Mal’s Miscellany 2012 – last year I published my highlights of the year as the last post for December – I did however decide to do this at the time and therefore had not made a note throughout the year of things that I might include. This year I am noting the readings that most impress me, the books I find, the places I visit as the events occur. This will not only make the post a cut and paste job over the Christmas period, but will also mean I don’t miss giving credit where credit is due.

So keep writing and performing and you never know you may end up on my review of the year.

It never stops – but I am loving it.

This week sees me at film meeting in Derby on Tuesday, a workshop for the Wall project in Tamworth and a writer’s group meeting in Atherstone on Wednesday. On Thursday, Team Steampunk meets in Leicestershire to discuss the plans for the Mars on the Rise book launch, followed on Friday with Spoken Worlds in Burton on Trent.

Very Soon Events.

Also this week on Tuesday 20th March there is the Goblin Folk and Poetry club at the Giggling Goblin Café in Ashby, which unfortunately I can’t attend this month. Host – Bryan Langtry always welcomes new singers and poets to this free event.

As I have already mentioned it is Spoken Worlds in Burton on Friday at 7:30pm with Host Gary Carr – Open Mic with the usual 3 halves at this free event held in the Old Cottage Tavern in Bykerley St, Burton on Trent.

And don’t forget 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 also a free event.


Don’t forget you can hear my lost poets on Radio Wildfire – Michael Drayton is still on the loop and will be replaced in the next few days with my piece on Banjo Patterson.

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


Readings in March.

March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The throb in the night.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The lengthening days.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Readings in March.

March 17th – The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club – Ashby
March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The aches have turned into a sniffle.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The potential of future projects


Bonn Ist Supreme – Robbie Basho


Last week saw me flitting about a bit, the main event of the week was Poetry Alight at the Spark Café in Lichfield and most of you will have seen on my extra blog last week with my review of this excellent event. For those who missed it you can see it here: https://pollysworda.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/it-takes-just-a-spark-to-set-poetry-alight/

Perhaps I should clarify my use of the word flitting as it sounds a little flippant. I am not referring to the meetings or events which were all purposeful and full of glorious value and potential. Flitting refers to the state of my unsettled mind and is an inner feeling that I may not outwardly express.

So having cleared that up, the Lichfield poetry event was not the only item in my busy diary as I had meetings to set up some workshops for The Wall project, these will take place later in the month, with the Tamworth Writers Group and three community cafes, exploring responses to the lyrics of Pink Floyd.

Thursday saw the fortnightly meeting of the Runaway Writers’ with some excellent pieces from the members including the latest from Margaret Torr’s children’s novel where the main character is James, whose adventures in his flying wheelchair are full of delight and enchantment with a cast of characters whose quest is enacted in a world of disrupted time. Margaret is a natural story teller who keeps me hooked – I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Friday saw me flit across to Stafford for a meeting to discuss the potential role of Staffordshire Poet Laureate which has been very well received and although it is not confirmed that this will happen. The County Council are keen to explore how this role can be shaped and how a framework to sustain it can be developed. Something I will be working on in the coming weeks and may well ask for further ideas from local poetry community.

Barry and Chloe Hunt create the right vibe.

On Saturday evening, I was delighted to catch up with one of the Poets Trail Poets, Barry Hunt, The singer /songwriter who was performing with his daughter Chloe at one of the local village pubs. They performed a great set with a mix of modern to traditional songs including their own material that provided something to induce the rock/folk/pop vibes of everyone. Barry is a master guitar player who eased his fingers around the frets to produce a warm vibrant sound to accompany Chloe as she gave us her special blend of confident vocals.

You can catch Barry and Chloe at the Yardbird in Birmingham on 18th March.

Yesterday saw me banish the sniffles to their nasal pit and head into historic workshop of the world, Birmingham to record two more Lost Poets for Radio Wildfire.

So staying with Radio Wildfire – on to this week and the upcoming events.

Radio Wildfire’s live broadcast is tonight at 8:00pm (GMT), which Dave Reeves informs me, includes a great line up of Spoken Word and Music.

Tonight’s broadcast

www.radiowildfire.com – Monday 5th March 8.00-10.00 pm (UK time) + Jan Watts’ Laureate’s Diary from 10.00pm + Gary Longden with Longden’s Listings.

March: in like a lamb but we’ve got a lion of a programme lined up in this month’s Radio Wildfire Live!

Listen in for a poem from Jenny Hope submitted to Radio Wildfire especially for Earth Hour 2012; a memoir from Jonathan Taylor extracted from the poignant story of his father’s struggle with Parkinson’s, Take Me Home published by Granta Books; a variety of production poetry variously using multilayered voices and backing drumming from Stephen Mead, Andrew Barnes, and Zeandrick Oliver & James G. Laws; and a short play from Keith Large called Where Does He Go On A Wednesday? – a mystery drama set around life in a timber company, it’s vibrant and engaging and most definitely not wooden: with all of the above having been uploaded to the Radio Wildfire Submit page.

There’ll also be songs featured from the new cd by David Francis, On A Shingle Near Yapton, a truly exceptional piece of work from the New York singer-songwriter and poet; the latest edition of Mal Dewhirst’s The Lost Poets; and, as if that wasn’t enough, in the studio we’ll have poet Roz Goddard talking about her role as coordinator of the West Midlands Readers’ Network.

Plus we’ll be announcing exciting news about another Radio Wildfire live Outside Broadcast that will celebrate 75 years of the Mass Observation Movement.

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 5th March from 8.00 pm UK time at www.radiowildfire.com

Radio Wildfire: the purr of the big cat’s whisker.

Talking of Birmingham Poet Laureate, Tuesday 6th sees the Monthly Night Blue Fruit in Coventry with the wonderful Jan Watts as guest poet plus open mic. This event starts at 8:00pm at Taylor John’s House in the Canal Basin in Coventry.

On Wednesday I have a meeting with the local council to discuss creative people and places followed by the Mad Hatter’s Writers Group – then I have a free diary to do some writing, film editing and attend a rehearsal for the Leukaemia Research Fund raiser which is on March 30th. Busy,busy, busy – I love it.

My Lost Poet this week is Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694)

I first came across this Japanese Poet through the guitarist Robbie Basho who changed his name to Basho in honour of this master poet who developed the structures of Japanese poetry forms that gave us the Haiku, from the traditional forms of Tanka and the collaborative Haikia no renga.

Matsuo Basho was born Matsuo Kinsaku and was also known as Matsuo Chūemon Munafusa he is the most famous poet of the Edo Period of Japanese Literature and Culture. His father was a low ranking Samurai which would have seen Matsuo progress to a life in the military had he chosen a less notable path for his life.

However as child Basho became a servant to Tōdō Yoshitada, who shared Basho’s love of collaborative poetry known as Haikia no renga which saw a poem constructed starting with a Hokku in strict 5-7-5 mora format followed by a 7-7 mora verse from another poetic voice. Basho and Yoshitada developed their voice that saw the first of Basho’s poems published in 1662, they collaborated on several pieces including a one hundred verse Rengu in which they collaborated with several other voices.

It was Yoshitada’s sudden death in 1666 that saw Basho lose the comfort of the role as servant and to resign himself away from a samurai life to become a traveler, he is indecisive as to whether he should become a full time poet and continues to write and be published in anthologies. Renga and Haikia no renga are viewed as low status pastime rather than high artistic form and this may well have influenced his indecision. He does however produce a publication in 1672 entitled the Kai Ōi or the Seashell Game, where he compares the merits of poems produced by him and others.

It is at this time he heads for Edo and ingratiates himself within the fashionable Literary Circles, his poetry is recognized for its natural style and simple form and he is soon initiated into the inner circles that enables him to teach and he is soon the tutor of twenty pupils. Despite this new found appreciation, he feels the need to take himself out of the public eye for a more isolated life and following a series of events such as the death of his mother and his hut burning down his dissatisfaction grows and leads him to embark on the first of four major journeys, two of which I will discuss here..


Travelling throughout the country at this time was considered a dangerous affair and Basho’s initial anticipation was that he would be killed by bandits in some remote location. His mood changes as his journey progresses and he makes friends, his poetry takes in the world around him and reflects his observations rather than the introspective themes of his earlier poetry.

His journey takes him to places such as Mount Fuji and Kyoto where he meets other poets, who seek his advice. In the summer of 1685 he returns to Edo, much refreshed and happily resumes his teaching post. The poetry from his journey is published as Nozarashi kikō Account of Exposure to the fields. Despite his apparent new found contentment in Edo, Basho knows that this will only last through the thought of another journey which he privately plans.

The culmination of the planning leads to him setting out on a journey with his apprentice Kawai Sora in 1689 that saw them explore the Northern Provinces on an epic 2400 kilometer trip. Basho documents the journey in a log, creating poetry as he goes. This was published posthumously as Oku no Hosomichi
The Narrow Road to the Interior.

Basho returns to Edo in 1691 and suffering from illness in his later years, he spends his last days receiving visitors, he died peacefully in 1694 and although he never wrote an official deathbed poem, his last poem has been taken as being a fitting farewell to his life.

tabi ni yande / yume wa kareno wo / kake meguru
falling sick on a journey / my dream goes wandering / over a field of dried grass [1694]

Basho interests me on several levels. His development of the Haiku from the traditional forms not being the least. The Haiku becoming a standalone form of the original Hokku.

I can see the similarities between his life and that of Michael Drayton, both poets went into service of literary patron as children who nurtured their craft as poets. Both head to the cultural capital to enhance their study and careers, both write landscape explorations Basho as described above and Drayton PolyOlbion. The Polesworth Circle also wrote collaborative poems through letters, examples of poems written between John Donne and Sir Henry Goodere still exist for us to study.

Collaborative poetry has also been a feature of some of my work in the last year, with the Kite poem on the Poets trail using the words from the Primary School children and the Word poem developed as part of the Nuneaton Summer poetry day.

Links to further information on Matsuo Bashō

Classical Japanese Database – Has some of Bahso’s Haikus

Simply Haiku has an account of Basho’s last days


Readings in March.

March 5th – Radio Wildfire – Lost Poets. – Broadcast then on the Loop.
March 6th – Night Blue Fruit – Coventry – Guest Poet Jan Watts.
March 17th – The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club – Ashby
March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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