Posts Tagged ‘The Fizz’

Spoken Worlds – Burton on Trent.

Spoken Worlds

Spoken Worlds

Old Cottage Tavern – Bykerley Street – Burton on Trent.
Friday 16th August at 7:30pm

Come and read in the now famous three halves – this is the host Gary Carr’s Birthday bash so come along and celebrate with a pint and some poetry.

At the Shire Hall Gallery Stafford.

Shire Hall Gallery

There is still a chance to add words to the Stafford Poem.


23 – Sound Sculpture of a Court Room.

I am working with Staffordshire Arts and Archives on a poetic sound sculpture to reflect on the spirit of Court Room number 1 at the Shire Hall Gallery in Stafford.

My Script is in rehearsal with Fired Up Theatre and HydanoidMusia to produce a poetic sound sculpture that will be played in the Court Room at the Shire Hall Gallery.

Hear the lives of murderers, bread thieves, drunkards, coal thieves and coin clippers along with the voices of the Clerk and his wife.

The recording takes place on Sunday 18th August between 12:30 and 16:00 in the court room and we are welcoming the public to come and observe and may be add their voices to some of the chants.

23 poster2

St Dominics Literature Festival – Brewood Staffordshire.

This is unique event for the writers of the future a literature festival aimed at children and young people.

31st August at St Dominic’s High School For Girls in Brewood Staffordshire.

I will be sharing my Staffordshire words, hosting an Open Mic session for yound poets and introducing the British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy as the guest speaker.


Unity in the Community.

I will be reading at the Unity in the Community event in Wednesbury at 7:30 pm on Tuesday 3rd September.


THE FIZZ at Stafford Arts Festival

I am hosting THE FIZZ Poetry and Spoken Word event at Stafford Arts Festival on 7th September at the Gatehouse Theatre.

The programme includes many local voices along with readings from the candidates for the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Young Poet Laureate.

Readings from 10:00 to 12:00 and then 13:00 to 16:00 in the main auditorium.

Fizz 2013


Other poetic events include Bert Flitcroft as Poet In Residence at the Shire Hall Library – see the timetable on the website for full details of all the arts festival events.

Poetry Workshop at Lichfield Library

Saturday 14th Sept 2013 – 10:30 – 14:30

Lichfield is celebrating local and community History month in September and as part of the celebrations, Staffordshire Poet Laureate, Mal Dewhirst will be running a FREE poetry workshop to explore some of the local history artefacts held in the Library.

The workshop is open to everyone over the age of 16 and will look at the changing environs of Lichfield through maps and photographs, building around the theme of Lichfield : a Victorian Life.

Through exercises participants will gather ideas and then be given time to write a piece which they can read out in the library at the end of the workshop.

Library Lichfield Poster

My Coming soon doings.

The Fell Walker

A Fired Up Theatre Production of Mal and Simon’s adaption of the novel by Michael Wood. – Script writing in August – Auditions and Rehearsals start in September – The premier is at the Penrith Playhouse in January 2014.

The Fell Walker Flyer

Crossroads – Satan, The Master and The Blues.

A new production by Mal Dewhirst and Simon Quinn with Fired Up Theatre for the Lichfield Mysteries to be staged at the Lichfield Garrick Studio Theatre in May 2014.



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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?







All focus is on my Poetry play the Colin Grazier Enigma, rehearsals continued with the added pressure of The BBC coming along to film and article to be broadcast on Midlands Today on sometime this week.

Joan Cummins and Cameraman Nigel came along to Tamworth last Wednesday evening to film the wedding and hunt for wolves scenes, along with interviews with myself and Simon Quinn the Director.

Joan’s interview style took me by surprise, but was one I very quickly warmed too. The first question being “Colin Grazier, no one knows who he is, why would a poet want write about him?” Followed by “Well we all know the Americans captured the Enigma codes, it was in the movie, so why are we just telling the story again?” To “This is promenade theatre piece, is Tamworth ready for this, will the people of Tamworth take to this?” Provoking answers out of our passions for the piece.

The BBC’s Joan Cummins interviewing Danny McBeth who plays Colin Grazier – provoking answers.

It was also good to meet Phil Shanahan whose book the Real Enigma Heroes was my prime source of information when I was developing the script. – I must get him to sign my copy next time.

Rehearsals moved into full flow with the bringing together of the actors and dancers who worked through the excellent choreography of Ami Radcliffe, providing a seascape with all the movement and drama of the sea.

Following my technical difficulties of last week, I ended up spending £100 on a new piece of software which after a very short time in which to learn how to use it, I managed to achieve getting close to the result I wanted, just in time for the visit of the BBC crew, where I was able to mock up a piece of film the demonstrate what will be the final piece.


I now have two completed films with another three to put together.

My other task for last week was the recording of the German Voice over’s from the submariners whose voices are heard but they are now seen. Luke Comley who played Pink in recent production of the Wall in Tamworth, obliged with the recordings providing a manic, panic as the submariners realise they have been found by the sonar blips.

So all the technical parts are completed they just need to be pulled together – This performance will fill my time and thoughts for the next week, and then I can start planning some more laureate events.

The second pre-performance will be on Sunday 28th October at St Editha’s Church as part of the annual memorial service for Colin, held by the Royal Naval Association.

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


The next Fizz takes place in TAMWORTH on Wednesday 7th November at THE MOAT HOUSE, LICHFIELD ST, TAMWORTH. Starting at 8:00pm

The guest poets will be the CORK POETS, Matthew Geden and Conor McManus with the usual open mic.

Free Entry, with a Bar, Coffee and Cakes plus a Carvery from 7:00pm for £4.95.


Tonight sees my first workshop with a new writers group that is being set up in Coleshill, North Warwickshire. I have been commissioned to run six workshops with them over the next six months to explore all aspects of creative writing and critiquing. Hopefully by the end of these workshops, I can leave them with the confidence in their writing abilities to continue on and develop into a group with the passion and enthusiasm that I have seen with both the Runaway Writers and The Mad Hatters Writing Groups.


Readings into November


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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Pains – ooh ahhhhhhhhhh

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Good Conversation in Great company.


Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.


What a week, the Fizz, poetry workshops and a trip on a boat.

Tuesday and Wednesday four introductory workshops with year 6 pupils attending the Summer School, the pupils engaged with the Archaeology and the artefacts from last years dig. Bones were the main cause of interest

There was a mix of abilities amongst the children, with some having the confidence to ask questions of the archaeologists as well as the facilitators. Every child produced at least one poem using a variety of poetic structures from Acrostics, Haiku’s to rhyming and free verse poems.


The dig and the artefacts inspired most of the themes for the poetry, but the children also brought imagery and smells in the sensory garden as a way of putting the dig into context of the modern day abbey.

I created magpie poems, (magpie poem was a term to children came up with, as the lines were taken from their work and reused.) I took a line or phrase from each of the children in the group to create another poem. This exercise proved a great driver for the children who want to see their best lines included in the magpie poem.

There was a lot of noise and great amount of fun.

Tuesday Evening saw THE FIZZ with guest poet Terri Jolland, which saw the refectory filled to capacity with fourteen readers for one of the best Fizz evenings ever.

Terri Jolland holds the audience.

You can read the reviews on Gary Longden’s blog at http://garylongden.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/fizz-polesworth-abbey-polesworth-2/  and Jayne Stanton’s blog at http://jaynestantonpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/the-fizz/

Last Friday saw ten poets gather at Polesworth Abbey for David Calcutt’s workshop – Spirit of the voice.

Poets gather to Dig the Poetry

The workshop looked at the way voices speak to us from the past- voices of people, places and objects – and what it is they may have to tell us about the present.

Looking at: voices from our own past, voices from the Abbey’s past, its legends and characters, its written texts, its unearthed objects.

In writing, the aim was to listen to these voices; let them speak through our words; let our words speak to them; let their words and our combined speak to the present and the future.

The workshop saw the development of some very promising poems which the poets are sending to me to form the legacy of Dig the Poetry and new poems being created in Polesworth.

Jayne Stanton gives you her view of the workshop at: http://jaynestantonpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/dig-the-poetry-spirit-of-voice/

After the workshop I had the pleasure of giving Jayne Stanton a guided tour of the poetry trail, something that I love to do, you can see Jayne’s thoughts on her blog http://jaynestantonpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/polesworth-poetry-trail/

Saturday and the sun was shining, I headed to the Canal to meet Jo Bell and Gary Longden. Jo is on an epic journey taking her boat from Macclesfield to Wiltshire, Gary and I had volunteered to be Jo’s crew for the day. We met Jo at Polesworth and travelled with her through Atherstone to her overnight stop at Hartshill.

I did tie up the front of the boat, didn’t I?

Our job was to open and close the eleven locks at Atherstone, whilst Jo steered the boat with great expertise.

I learnt about how locks work and to my great pain which I can still feel now, as I tried to open a lock a little too early and it whipped back to belt my coccyx, a common occurrence among boaters known as boaters bum.

In between locks we talked, three writers sharing ideas and we even bumped into a 4th writer on the tow path. It was the most brilliant, inspiring day that happens rarely and should in my opinion is something that writers should do more often.


My part in Jo’s epic Journey – with Jo Bell


As I said on facebook “who would NOT want to live at 3mph” – it is a wonderful speed that gives you time to contemplate, talk properly and it was pleasure for me to do this in such wonderful company.

Jo will be back in Polesworth on 1st September for her workshop on Dig the Poetry.

You can read Jo’s blog at: http://belljarblog.wordpress.com/


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 http://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

Friday 3rd Aug – “All too often we only see with our eyes” with JENNY HOPE

(Please note this is a non-digging day.)

Fri 10th Aug – EDGES with MATT MERRITT



Sat 1st Sept – STRATAS with JO BELL

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

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

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


Readings in August


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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?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Poetry Alight


Paranoid – Black Sabbath


I was hoping to get my review of The Lichfield Festival Fringe event Poetry Alight at the Spark Café last Tuesday posted on the blog earlier, but time caught up with me, with the Dig the Poetry workshops to promote and a workshop on Saturday afternoon at Coventry Memorial Park followed by the second film shoot of Double Booked on Saturday night. Oh and I fitted in the Bellowhead gig at Lichfield Cathedral on Wednesday and my submission for the Staffordshire Poet Laureate which closed on 14th July.

Still better late and considered and I have not had time to work on my lost poet, which I will endeavour to do for next week.

Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield 10th July.

I deliberately did not ask for a reading spot at this event as I wanted to make some space for someone whose voice I had not heard before. Gary Longden, whose wide travels in providing us with his fantastic reviews of the Midlands Poetry and Spoken Word events, brings him into contact with many great poets, who he brings to the Poetry Alight event to share their work with a full audience at this now established event.

Gary Longden kicks things off

This month saw the guests from two poetry presses who are both actively delivering excellence in new poetry to new audiences, with Crystal Clear Creators and Offa’s Press.

ACT 1.

Gary in his role of MC started the proceedings in his usual way as a natural raconteur with the first poet of the evening Bert Flitcroft.

Bert began with saying that he always felt his name Bert was unpoetic, until he was presented with a Chinese print with his name spelt out in Mandarin script which changed his mind. His next piece was the observation of a man stumbling, with the excellent poem What I Know, which ended with a silence in which he left us to reflect. Bert always performs his work well and can hold the audience; this was a very fitting start to the evening.

Bert Flitcroft sets the standard

Next came the first of the Lichfield poets, with a double act from Val Thompson and Heather Fowler, who delighted us with their thoughts on the state of the NHS which Lazarus Team, followed by a poem to Yoga with saluting the sun. Being a double act meant that they had twice the normal three minutes so they continued wit More Than which remembered a teacher Miss Hughes and continued with The Tray and the pains of sick dog. They finished with When the Talking is done. There approach to delivering poetry as two voices added another dimension. More poets should consider this, creating narrative from the poems.

Jayne Stanton – heading to Cork

They were followed by the first of the representatives of this year’s Coventry Cork Literature exchange which I had the honour of being part of last year. Jayne Stanton, Jayne who is based in Leicestershire gave us two poems, the first reflecting on the Garden of Remembrance at Loughborough University with fear of leaving memories; she followed this with Heat with legs dropping, melding and daring to dream. She will really enjoy her trip to Cork in August and O’Bheal is in for a treat of great poetry.
You can find out more on Jayne’s work at http://jaynestantonpoetry.wordpress.com/

Next came a new voice to me and what a wonderful one, with Naomi Paul whose rhythmic poem proclaimed that Music is Female, with the truth about the goodness of rhythm. A wonderful piece that resonated around the gathered company. She followed this with a poem on the Icelandic Ash Cloud, blaming Bankers and Politicians. Her final piece Grey Rabbit told of a bus journey in the USA on the Hippy Bus which was basically converted into a bed where she mixed with women who had lovers and hung out on Haight Ashbury and how she was very English. A great set.

Peter Branson – all the way from Cheshire

Next came another new voice, who had travelled down from Cheshire, the well published Peter Branson whose next collection is to be published by the much acclaimed Salmon press. Peter remembered the Queens coronation with Jubilee which was dedicated to Brian Lithgow, a friend who had hidden in ditch behind the shed during the original coronation, which had made him a Republican. He finished with a song the Editha Massacre which was a tribute to the great American folk singer, Woody Guthrie who was born 100 years ago this week.
More of Peter’s poetry can be found here http://www.peterbranson.com/category/poetry/

Justina Hart came next with a poem about lovers, Nightingale which is never heard piercing the light and imagines a star passing down her throat. Another new voice to me and a very good one too.

Ian Ward another of the Lichfield Poets, reordered the words of D H Lawrence with his poem Kangaroo which he followed with a poem after Walter De La Mare’s The Listeners with a response to the traveller another accomplished reading.

Nottingham Poet Richard Young delivered one of his delightful funny poems from memory, a performance that has become accomplished since I first met Richard. His humorous poem saw him feeling sorry for those unfortunate heroes such as Michael Collins – the 3rd man who did not land on the moon on Apollo 11, to Frank Bruno who didn’t rumble in the jungle, Gareth Southgate who missed that penalty but despite all of this they Keep Trying. Strong material and a strong performance, I can listen and watch Richard at anytime.
More about Richard can be found here: http://www.richardyoungstoryteller.webspace.virginmedia.com/

Poetry Trail Poet, Penny Harper found objects that never fulfil their potential, like a second hand hoover, she followed this with a wonderful poem about the island of Skomer in Pembrokeshire, ancient, British stitching Island to the sea in flight.

The first half was finished by the first of the guest poets with Crystal Clear Creative’s Jonathan Taylor. Crystal Clear Creators have been organising day schools, radio performances, poetry events and publishing pamphlets and the magazine Hearing Voices since 2003. Based in Leicester they host the Shindig poetry events.

Crystal Clear Creator – Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan started with a poem, Mozart’s Clarinet Sextet with its counterpoint of gin and wee as a concert is interrupted by the musings of a drunken woman, well written and delivered from an accomplished pen. He followed this by one of the pieces of the evening Kontakte – a prose piece after Karl Heinz Stockhausen, which was a story built around the electronic minimalism of the music. The protagonist was Derick who sat in the dark listening to Stockhausen on a tape recorder, which perpetually rewound and replayed. When he tried to turn it off the stop button broke and we are left with the image of Derick sitting in the dark spending the rest of his life listening to Stockhausen. This was a triumph and I can well see why Jonathan would want to divert us away from poetry to explore the brilliance of this piece.

Melanchrini – Maria Taylor

Jonathan’s wife Maria finished the first half with a reading from her collection Melanchrini published by Nine Arches Press. Her poems built around her upbringing and memories from her childhood. At Her Grandmothers table tells of visits to Cypress, sitting at the table drinking Greek/Turkish coffee as a dark featured young woman, the Melanchrini, the table that her parents now have and where she now takes her children to sit. Delicado and Mr Hill remembered times when she lived in the upstairs flat to Patricia (Mrs Hill) who talked about her husband as if he were dead, but he had in fact left her many years ago, the irony was when he did die his ashes were sent to Patricia and not his lover. Soapsud Island told of her time in Acton, which was known as London’s laundry, now all demolished, she wants to take the iron and make it smooth. Felling a maiden explores her changing her Greek Cypriot name for an English one when she marries and Outside of being pregnant with her twins. Each poem building a narrative timeline from childhood to motherhood as she delivered this thoughtful set. She finished with Larkin and her obsession with the poet which becomes an addition. Melanchrini is a wonderful debut collection from a poet who has a lively turn of phrase and is sensitive to her roots; seek it out from Nine Arches Press. http://www.ninearchespress.com/melanchrini.html
You can read more about Crystal Clear Creators at their website http://www.crystalclearcreators.org.uk/

ACT 2.

The second half was headed by our two guest poets from Offa’s Press, Jane Seabourne and Nick Pearson.

Offa’s press are dedicated to publishing and promoting the best in contemporary poetry from the West Midlands, with the watch word good on the page, good on the stage.

Looking for Red Kites – Jane Seabourne

Jane read from her collection Bright Morning, her first poem Red Kites, where she had expected them to be redder than they actually were, but was transfixed by their flight to come to the conclusion that they we red enough. Her second poem Ornithoptor, talked of a man in an office learning to fly, observing the birds and building his wings and then escaping the drudge of his job to fly, something that resonates with me. Her third piece was to her hero, Dr Johnson who she described as a fleshquake of a man who kept his words safe in his book. She showed her respect for this literary hero in her well crafted poem. Jane finished with her Three Bears Poem, which explored the impact that an intruder can have on the lives of those who the intruded. A good place to finish with a thought provoking piece.
You can get Jane’s book at: http://www.offaspress.co.uk/shop/

Made in Captivity – Nick Pearson

Nick Pearson was the second guest from Offa’s Press, reading from his collection Mad in Captivity also available for the Offa’s press website. He delves into familiar worlds with known characters that sometimes are ourselves. His first poem Clothing Item covered a man’s obsession with a pair of M&S Chinos, he followed this with the very witty and recognisable Coming Clean, which brought the theme of an employee appraisal, again a familiar situation to many and I guess like me he saw the pointlessness of them. Nick continued with Silent Apple, among the noise of office lunchboxes, the silent apple has more dignity in the hands of someone who reads books; it contemplates its life on the tree, ripened by the sun and the stars. His poem Receivership, an observation on the plight of independent traders in the world of the corporate giants, in his case a coffee shop who went into administration before he could redeem his loyalty reward card. Referential upbringing took him back to his childhood and the confusion of words, playfully expanding meanings and connections that only a child can do. He finished with a poem about giving up smoking, Final Frame, where observations and conversations become focussed on smoke, ash and nicotine. These are all written from Nick’s unique perspective but are without doubt so familiar to some many people. A great reading from an excellent collection, both Jane’s and Nick’s collections are excellent reads, do check them out.
You can see more of their publications at their website http://www.offaspress.co.uk/

The evening continued with a reading from the second of the poets on the Coventry-Cork Literature exchange, who is also a Poetry Trail Poet. Janet Smith read A Cry her poem from the trail, a poem I will never tire of hearing her read. She holds the audience within the spell of the conversation between the human and the bird. She followed this with the Hood Children a poem about rain and finished with Brushwood drawn from her Yorkshire roots and the textile industry. Another excellent set which will see excellent readings in Cork and Limerick this summer from two very accomplished voices.

Also heading to Cork – Janet Smith

David Calcutt followed with a performance from memory, which I always admire. Here was a poet comfortable with his own work and performance. Reciting from the floor before heading to the stage create a piece of theatre which is always a welcome change. The poem described a rainy skyline, was another of the nights performances, from a master craftsman. You can read more about David at http://www.davidcalcutt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/

Another of the Lichfield Poets, George Barbrook gave us a musical theme with Rhythm and Blues followed by Open Access which explored dementia. Followed by Penny Hewlett who gave us a poem of broken lives with going back all too great effect.

A new voice with Jemma Hogg who read three poems written at the Glastonbury with Pedestal Lover, The Fraud and the Darkness, she was followed by Mike Seaton from Northern Ireland whose poems on going home and the return of the snow were also a great introduction to their poems at this event.

Ben McNair gave his poem of student bands with Hallelujah Jones and his observations on Manchester streets at 2:00am with its Picasso spewing bouncers.

Burton based Poetry activist Gary Carr followed Ben with his I can’t get no information, with his takes on tweeting and social media, a piece he started as he walked through the audience to great effect. His second poem Red and Black explored the serious world of table tennis. Gary finished with a favourite of mine, two poems which took poetry readings both good and bad as its theme. Gary always delivers and his explorations into new ways to engage an audience are always of interest, they worked well here. Gary runs Spoken Worlds at the Old Cottage Tavern, Bykerley St Burton on Friday 20th July at 7:30pm.

Another new voice to me with Shawn Rolls, whose poem reflected on the frailty of the old as they become victims of conmen. Tom Wyre brought some of his new poems The Lucid Door, The Strength of Spirits, finishing with an environmental Mother Earth poem Terra Mater which were all full of imagery that is Tom’s forte.

Images from Tom Wyre

Gary Longden our host gave us a poem on his disgust at bands reforming in a frenzy of retromania. The evening was finished with two poems from the leader of the Lichfield Poets, Janet Jenkins, who mused on Tennis and her own love match with Forty Love and ending with a comic tale of the teeth.
Gary’s blog Garyswordz is at http://garylongden.wordpress.com/

The evening was again a wonderful evening of the best contemporary poetry from the region and beyond it will be interesting to see how this event develops along side the Literature Festival, which seems to pander to big names and is surely missing a trick by not including an event such as Poetry Alight as part of the festival programme.

The next Poetry Alight will be on 2nd October at the Spark Café, 7:30pm, Free Entry but you need to contact Gary Longden in advance if you want to read.


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 MAUVE 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.

In addition to this Cat Weathrill will be running a workshop with students from the Polesworth School on the 18th July.

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.

I will return to my lost poets next week and I think I will re-start with Leander Paes Great Grandfather.

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?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?





A review of Being Human at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry.

(c) Graeme Braidwood

Most Playwrights write in the knowledge that they are hopefully going to hand over their work to a director and a group of actors who will bring the realisation of the piece to new audiences.

Poets on the other hand tend toward delivering their pieces in performance and readings themselves, so the production of Being Human that debuted at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on the 22nd July was a brilliantly conceived natural progression taking poetry in to theatre with a ground breaking approach to making poetry accessible to wider audiences.

Being Human used poems from the third of the Staying Alive Poetry Anthology Trilogy edited by Neil Astley and published by Bloodaxe books. Bloodaxe headed by Simon Thirsk and Neil, set out to bring poetry to new readers, taking the very best defining poems from around the world often from poets whose work was little known outside of their own circles and languages.

Theatre is always a risk, a theatre production that is delivered solely through contemporary poetry makes that risk even greater so Jonathan Davidson’s vision to produce this show was not one for the faint hearted.

This needed a considered approach and a clear view from the whole of the team as to how it should be brought to fruition.

Under the directorship of Steve Byrne from Interplay Theatre the poems selected created a narrative of stories told around a table, by characters gathered to share bread, cheese, wine and pomegranates with their experiences as fathers, mothers and tortured souls.

(c) Graeme Braidwood

The interplay between the actors Benedict Hastings, Elinor Middleton and Barrett Robertson created a thought provoking mood through the delivery of the poems, where the potency of the words were left to stand on their own with out the drawn out preamble that poets often feel is necessary to justify their poems when reading them at open mics.

This was a breath of fresh air as you were taken along with the characters who emerged from the first lines of the poem then developed into a glorious sound and visual sculptures of the human condition.

To add to this were the subtle projections on the table cloth and the use of light or lack of it to create atmospheres, sometimes unnerving such as when pitch darkness was punctuated with sounds of a stick being run across railings or gunshots from Vietnam.

Barrett’s delight as a Father seeing the ultra-scan picture of his unborn child, standing on stool, drawing himself tall as if he were on a mountain top proclaiming to the world his joy.

Elinor morphing from an angel to a Muslim woman as the table cloth floated on some unfelt breeze and wrapped itself around her as the words spilt from her expressive tongue.

Benedict as a man loading the table with everything that was him, his possessions, his fears and anxieties, a piece that was to be a central core, as it was reprieved by Barrett at the start of the second half and then by all three actors at the end as echoes of each other, not quite in time, different lives all loaded on to their own tables.

(c) Graeme Braidwood

This production was not merely the reading of poetry, but the consideration of meaning, drawing out the values that Neil Astley had seen in the poems when he first selected them for inclusion in the anthology.

Poetry as I have never seen it delivered before, poetry receiving its due respect with its ability to soothe, delight, attack and permeate our senses to leave a splendid sense of fulfilment in a greater understanding as a result of experiencing it.

You left with a feeling of being affected, somewhere and some how you had been drawn in from being a bystander, a mere audience member, to being an active stakeholder in the events.

That is poetry at its very best and this was the sharing of poetry, given as the most precious gift.

There is a new vibrant thinking in the arts where theatre can explore poetry, where traditional audiences from one art form can be exposed and delighted to engage with other art forms that they other wise would not.

Being Human was one of the first productions to demonstrate this. A risk that Jonathan took and got it right, this is the platform from which to build, the potential for this to be developed for bigger stages and on to television is ours.

But even with bigger productions, the smaller production in an intimate space will always work just as well if they are done with the care and sensitivity to the poems that was seen with Being Human.

Everyone who was involved with this production is to be congratulated; you have started something that as poets we can engage with, now lets nurture it.

(c) Graeme Braidwood

This production is touring so watch out performances, Being Human will be at Ledbury on 1st July and then at Bury St Edmunds on the 9th July and will return to Midlands in October; this is not to be missed.

The Anthology Being Human, edited by Neil Astley was published in 2011 by Bloodaxe Books and is available from bookshops and the usual webstore.

I woke up the day after the performance with a mind full of ideas on what I want to do as a poet to take poetry to new audiences using the inspiration that Being Human has instilled into me.

For more information go to www.livepoetry.org

Polesworth a Place for Poetry – Dig the Poetry – 2012.

Polesworth has a long association with poets and poetry, including the names of Michael Drayton, Ben Jonson and John Donne and some make a claim for William Shakespeare. Later came Edward Farmer and more recently poets from all over the country with the development of the award winning Polesworth Poets Trail.

Following the development of poetry in response to Dig the Abbey 2011, Polesworth Abbey has secured funding from the Arts Council England to explore the interpretation of the Archaeology through poetry and creative writing as part of Dig the Abbey 2012.

A series of workshops with some of the regions leading poets and writers will take place during July and August. The workshops will held at Polesworth Abbey with poets and writers working along side the Archaeologists on site to engage with the finds as they occur. Giving a real opportunity to look at the artefacts in-situ, exploring the layers of occupation of this very important place.

Poets and writers will seek to interpret the meaning and value of the finds putting them into the context of the lives of the community to which they belonged, as well as what they mean to us today.

The Archaeological themes will explore the methods and techniques of the excavation, including geophysics, layers, trenches, artefacts, documents and the archaeology of the landscape.

This is a unique exciting opportunity for both new and experienced writers to use their experience of being part of the Dig to put their thoughts on to paper and in doing so create a new legacy for future generations.

The poems and prose created will be presented at The Heritage Open days when readings will be staged as a FIZZ Poetry and Spoken word event.

Following the Dig there will be a publication of the poetry and prose that best reflect the dig and its findings.

To register your interest in participating in the Poetry Workshops, go to the www.digtheabbey.co.uk  web page and click on the Red Button.

Also check out the blog at http://digthepoetry.wordpress.com

THE FIZZ IN JULY – with guest poet Terri Jolland.


Readings in June / July

My diary is all over the place I am not sure where I am meant to be and where I will be reading.

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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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