Posts Tagged ‘Staffordshire Poet Laureate’


What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?



Traditional Irish Music.



Apologies for not blogging for a couple of weeks, but I have been touring Ireland on a much needed break although I did manage to read in the open mic. at O’Bheal in Cork where the guest poet was Ilya Kaminsky who read in his distinct voice from his collection Dancing in Odessa, including his Musica Humana (an elegy for Osip Mandelstam, who featured as a lost poet on this blog).

Ilya’s reading was absolutely excellent delivering his poems with phonetic perfection, from someone whose first language is not English and who is also deaf, he masters a rythemn to deliver his glorious take on the world.

You can read more about Ilya at – http://www.ilyakaminsky.com/

The break itself began with the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin and I slightly diverted drive across country to spend a week in Galway, which including a tour the poetical landscapes of Connemara and the Isles of Aran.

Galway Bay

The settled week was followed by a week of touring down to Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, then a couple of days in and around Cork, a disappointing trip to Waterford, finishing with a trip to Kilkenny before a night in Kilrane before getting the ferry from Rosslare to Pembroke.

The Ring of Kerry

Two weeks of a wonder of welcomes and generosity, of landscapes that pour themselves out in front of you and wrap themselves into your thoughts, spilling your senses into overdrive, all of which will no doubt appear in my poetry in the near future.

Talking of which, my future in poetry is all wrapped up in………


Notice on the Laureate.

Staffordshire County Council, through Libraries and Arts, are delighted to have appointed Mal Dewhirst for the role of Staffordshire Poet Laureate 2012/13.

We would like to invite you to join us at the Inauguration Ceremony to celebrate this auspicious event.
The ceremony will take place on National Poetry Day, Thursday 4th October, 7.30pm at Lichfield Library.

The evening will include special guests; Grevel Lindop, who will read his ‘Shugborough Eclogues’, and recently appointed Gloucestershire Poet Laureate; Brenda Read-Brown, Co-ordinator of the West Midlands Poetry on Loan Scheme and judge of the Staffordshire Poet Laureate.

Tickets for this event will be £2, including a glass of wine, and can be purchased at or booked from Lichfield Library, Tel 01543 510700.

As part of the celebration evening, Mal will answer any questions about the role, if they are submitted in advance by e-mail to alan.medway@staffordshire.gov.uk

Everyone welcome.
To find out more, visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/poetlaureate


I have created a page on the menu bar above with the details on how to submit work for this exciting new project, which has already stirred some good interest, with submissions coming in with some really inventive interpretations on the theme of 20. The deadline is the 8th October and can be sent to me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk.


The Colin Grazier Memorial – Tamworth

My Poetry play the Colin Grazier Enigma, now has a cast and rehearsals start in full next Sunday 7th October.

I need to finalise the sounds from the musical soundtrack to the poetry in Morse code, bringing this together with the visuals, part of which was filmed from the ferry on my return from Ireland.

A busy time ahead.

You can read more details on the performance at http://www.thisistamworth.co.uk/Tamworth-naval-hero-Colin-Grazier-commemorated/story-16998769-detail/story.html


Readings in October

2nd Oct – Poetry Alight – Spark Café – Lichfield.
4th Oct – Staffordshire Poet Laureate – The Library Lichfield.
19th Oct – Spoken Worlds – Burton-on-Trent.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Staffordshire Poet Laureate


Hedonism – Bellowhead.



On the 4th October, National Poetry Day, The county of Staffordshire will appoint its first Poet Laureate and I am honoured and pleased to say that I am the poet that the Arts and Libraries team from the County Council have chosen to hold this position in its inaugural year.

I have lots of ideas on things I want to do, which I will be discussing with Council team over the coming weeks, my aim is to hit my year as laureate running, this is not a role to ease myself into, the year will pass far to quickly to allow that to happen.

So watch this blog to share in my year in the role, which I hope will provide opportunities for many poets in the county.


In my last blog post I mentioned that there will still a couple of projects that were still under discussion. As you can guess the Staffordshire Laureate was one of them. But there is one more that I can now mention.

This new project is a project that allows me to write, there is no organising of events or readings, just a chance to write a response to a historical research project.


Boadicea Haranguing The Britons. John Opie, R.A

The Project is Boudicca Project based around Mancetter nr Atherstone in North Warwickshire, where a group are engaged in researching the descriptions in contemporary documents around the Battle of Watling St in AD61 or there abouts, when Boudicca met her end as she led her army of Britons in rebellion against the Roman occupiers. The aim to establish if the Roman fort at Mancetter could be the location of this battle.

My role as the Poet in Residence on the project is to write interpretations of the life in these times.


I have created a page on the menu bar above with the details on how to submit work for this exciting new project, which has already stirred some good interest, with submissions coming in with some really inventive interpretations on the theme of 20. The deadline is the 8th October and can be sent to me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk.


Able Seaman Colin Grazier GC

The play entitled Colin Grazier Enigma – tells of the events of 30th October 1942 in the Mediterranean, when Colin Grazier, Tony Fasson and Tommy Brown boarded the stricken U-Boat U-559 and salvaged the Enigma machine and the important code books that enable the intelligence operations at Bletchley Park to decode the transmissions of the U-boat wolf packs that it has been said significantly reduced the second world war.

The play has had its first read through and will go into full rehearsals in the coming week, once all the locations have been agreed. I will be working on the technical features and assisting the Director Simon Quinn on the delivery of the poetry.

The performance will take place around the streets of Tamworth on the evening of 30th October.


Since my last post there has been the final workshop of the Dig the Poetry programme and the spectacular reading in the grounds among the trenches.

Sat 1st September saw the wonderful Jo Bell’s workshop entitled Strata’s – which explored the layers of Archaeology and compared them to the strata’s of our own lives.

Jo drove us hard with constant writing exercises that considered how we could look at our lives and what clues that would exist to future Archaeologists discovering our remains. The realisation that things we take for granted would be lost, that in the future our stories may not be at all clear, and that you can infer the story from what was not found.

All this allows us to consider the lives of the ancestors that we are now uncovering with a better understanding, with a more questioning mind, with less jumping to an obvious conclusion.

The workshop produced some absolutely excellent poems on what was a wonderful day of poetry.

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

The events took place at Polesworth Abbey, Polesworth in North Warwickshire. Where on Saturday poets gathered for a very special afternoon reading in the early autumn sunshine.

It was an afternoon that you always imagine a poetry reading should be, al fresco in, in a garden with readers and listeners sitting on the grass, breathing in every word. A gathering of friends, fellow wordsmiths whose journey through the preceding weeks as the archaeology was unearthed and captured within the words that sculpted poetry on to pages.

A very special day that will live with those who were there for always. A fitting end to this wonderful project. Something I reflected upon when I took down the exhibition this afternoon and packed it away, hanging up my hat as Poet in Residence at Dig the Abbey.

Jo Bell, Jenny Hope, Maeve Clarke, Mal Dewhirst, David Calcutt, Jacqui Rowe and Matt Merritt at the Dig the Poetry Reading (photo (c) Gary Carr 2012

You can see Gary Longden’s review of the afternoon on his blog at:


Peter Ralley who is managing all the media and video for Dig the Abbey has uploaded some of the poetry written in response to the dig on to the DIG THE ABBEY website – you can see it through this link.



Readings in October

2nd Oct – Poetry Alight – Spark Café – Lichfield.
4th Oct – Staffordshire Poet Laureate – The Library Lichfield.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Hitting the wrong keys.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Dig the Poetry workshop


Shuffle on the Iphone.


Last week saw the first of the Dig the Poetry workshops with the Polesworth School.

Students from the school braved the rain to explore bones and soil with the renowned storyteller and novelist Cat Weatherill.

Cat Weatherill

Cat used the theme of man coming from the soil and then going back into the earth as her main theme. She used as story from Estonia, but many cultures have the same story just told in a slightly different way.

The Students got to create sculptures in mud, whilst observing the strict rules of silence as experienced by the Benedictine Nuns who once lived at Polesworth. Reflecting on the Nun’s lives in Medeaval times as the archaeologists uncovered the remains of the cloister walls and floors.

A face from the Earth

Tim Upson-Smith, the community archaeologist provided us with examples of animal bones from last years dig, which the students studied in great detail. Identifying burn and knife marks that showed how these we the remains of 500 year old meals.

The man with the bleeding heart

The students went away with a buzz of ideas that they worked on during the final days of the school term and I look forward to reading the poems that they produced.

The first of the Adult workshops is this Friday with poet, playwright and author David Calcutt.
As full list of the workshops is given below.

There are also four taster sessions for year 6 pupils this week, where we will spend a couple of hours exploring the use of the senses at the dig.


Last Summer as part of my residency at Nuneaton Summer Day of Poetry, I requested that people from around the world send me words which I then crafted into a poem – see http://nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com/the-word-list/  and http://nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/collaborative-poem-2/  for the poem. I thought I would do this again this time with Dig the Abbey.

So I am requesting that you take a look at Dig the Abbey website and give me one of two words in response to what you see. This could be related to the trenches, the finds or the lives of the previous occupants of the abbey site. – the website is at: http://www.digtheabbey.co.uk

Whilst you might not be able to attend the workshops or one of the daily site visits at Polesworth, I hope this will provide an insight into the activities at the dig and at least enable you to contribute something to the poetry programme.

If you also let me know the town you are contacting me from, I will calculate the distance that the word(s) have travelled to reach Polesworth using http://www.mapcrow.info.

You have plenty of time as I will close this at midnight on 31st August to give me time to write the poem, which I will read at the Fizz on the Heritage Open Day of 8th September.

Hopefully if you are ever in North Warwickshire you will take some time to visit this very special place in the knowledge that you provided some of the inspiration to the new poems being created here.

You can email your words to maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

Dig the Poetry has its own blog at http://digthepoetry.wordpress.com.

Please do pass this on to your fellow poets and those with an interest in Archaeology and lets see if the words reflect a different perspective to those writing poems on site.


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

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

1. Friday 27th July – with DAVID CALCUTT

2. Friday 3rd Aug – with JENNY HOPE

3. Sat 4th Aug – with MAL DEWHIRST.
(Please note this is a non-digging day.)

4. Fri 10th Aug – with MATT MERRITT

5. Fri 17th Aug – with JACQUI ROWE

6. Sat 25th Aug – with MAEVE CLARKE

7. Sat 1st Sept – with JO BELL

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

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

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


The closing date for entries for the first Staffordshire Poet Laureate has been and gone. I made my entry two days before the deadline and I am now waiting to hear if I am to be considered for the short list.

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that it was here that I first raised the debate among the poetry community as to whether they felt it was something that was worthwhile pursuing. The response was a resounding YES. Staffordshire County Council picked up on these feelings and instigated the role to be installed for National Poetry Day in October.

It is a great opportunity to help develop poets and poetry in Staffordshire and I look forward to supporting who ever gets the role this autumn and to some interesting developments in poetry in Staffordshire.

THE FIZZ IN JULY – with guest poet Terri Jolland.


Readings in July

24th July – The FIZZ with Terri Jolland at Polesworth Abbey.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Not enough time.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?






Following the discussions started on this blog last October and the subsequent discussions held with Staffordshire County Council, I am pleased to inform you that Staffordshire Library Services today have started their search for their first Staffordshire Poet Laureate, to be crowned on the 4th October 2012, National Poetry Day. I would like to thank all those who contributed to the debate.

To get more details on the terms and conditions and an entry form, check local Staffordshire Libraries or follow the link below.

Applications are now being called for at: www.staffordshire.gov.uk/libraries  with a closing date of 14th July 2012. – The links will be available later today if they are not there now.

I will be working on my application over the coming weeks, good luck to all those who apply.


Congratulations to Keith Large on his success at the Buxton Film Festival. Keith has two short films for which he wrote the scripts, selected in the final 9 films of a film festival last week. He was the only writer to have more than one film selected.

The Films are ‘Summer Ice’ and ‘Everyones A Lunatic’ and details can be found here http://www.buxtonfilm.org.uk/

It is great to see Keith’s progression as a writer and producer to achieve the success he deserves for the work he puts into creating opportunities for film makers and actors in the region. I am looking forward to working with him again in June and July.

Keith’s website is at http://www.carrotnapper.com/


There were two great nights of Poetry last week, Tuesday saw Poetry Alight, which I reviewed on this blog and Friday saw Spoken Worlds which was reviewed by Gary Longden on Behind the Arras http://behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices1.html#Worldsmay


This week sees the Fizz tomorrow evening 22nd May. Bringing all thinks poetic back to Polesworth – with the wonderful guest poet is Margaret Torr, who will bring her unique brand of poetry and story telling to this established event – plus open mic, refreshments available and me as MC. 7:30pm start – Polesworth Abbey Refectory – High St, Polesworth, North Warwickshire. Not to be missed.

I will be videoing Margaret’s performance as part of my ongoing commitment to create a legacy of the event. I am intrigued as to what Drayton and Donne would have looked and sound like as they wrote and read before the wonderful fireplace at Polesworth that is now the backdrop to our performances. By recording them, future generations will have an opportunity to share in the readings of the great poets who are coming to Polesworth to read here today.


Last Thursday evening saw Simon and I travel up to Chesterfield to meet with Floydian Slip at their rehearsal for the performance of the WALL. What an honour it was to hear them perform the second act from start to finish. Sorting out where the poems and films will come in. The show is shaping up into something that will be really special.

Gary Longden has also come on board to write some articles in the run up to the show and then a review of the show, which will go out to the local press and various blogs including Gary’s own blog and of course this one so watch out for the extra blog posts over the coming weeks.

Keep an eye on Gary’s blog http://garylongden.wordpress.com/

The development of the footage continues and I think I now have enough archive material to edit together the pieces that are required to bring together the experience of war, rallies and the hypocrisy of Governments in their attempts to try and fool the public that things are done for the common good.

This week sees further rehearsals, a meeting with the technical team and the attendance at a rehearsal of the Shoebox Theatre who will be performing a short piece at the start of the show as a way of introducing the main performance.

Plus there is the gathering of the props and costumes that are coming together, we now have the bed, but we are short of an accordion or squeeze box – so if you have either of these that you don’t mind us using then please contact me. maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

Shows are on the 6th – 7th – 8th June at the Assembly Rooms in Tamworth. Tickets are selling well so don’t leave it too late to get your ticket.
Tickets are available from the Box Office.


Readings in May

22nd May – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Margaret Torr.

June 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th – THE WALL – Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

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