Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lichfield Poets, a pit pony and a fast approaching big birthday

Good morning, so sorry that yet again I'm a day late with my posting, but I have good reason to be - I've had a busy, busy week.

Tuesday, 22nd March, I had the honour of attending 'Fizz 6' a poetry evening in the refectory of Polesworth Abbey, Polesworth, where The Lichfield Poets performed work from their two anthologies. I've reviewed similar events on many occasions, as a writer I attend as a means of relaxing within the company of other wordsmiths - each time I come away inspired and eager to focus upon my own writing. Anyway, The Lichfield Poets - nine poets attended representing the local group and they where a delight to behold. They began with a selection of poems relating to 'Battles':
'During the War' by B Asbury -  such precious memories infused with colour, such as the kingfisher, brought the imagery to life.
'Village Cricket Team 1913' by B Macnair  - highlighted the simple pleasures of village life lost amidst the tragedy of war, capturing the sorrow of a decimated community.
'The Ballard of  a Soldier' by H Fowler - portrayed the heartache of wartime love - the long distance relationship, the short courtship and the return of an unknown husband - so beautifully written and yet touched with sadness, it brought a tear to my eye and it wasn't the only one.
'All You Need Is Love' by G Barbrook - portrayed love in its multifaceted manner - experiences that each of us can relate to.
'The Departure' by G Longden - reminded us of recent battles, though the traditions and rituals of war remain unchanged - Gary's poem cleverly ignited memories with a backdrop of music from the era.
'Shoebox Appeal' by A Webster - this poem really touched me; each line drew upon the emotions and reasoning behind preparing a simple box filled with love and pride. The poet managed to convey such sentiment without mush or sloppiness - a truly beautiful poem.
'Yet To Come' by V Thompson - this piece brought a lump to my throat, a reminder of recent images of Wiltshire villages honouring the dead - definitely a performance piece, with superb delivery.
'No White Flag' by J Jenkins - a battle of a very different kind between two waring neighbours - made me chuckle. I loved the inclusion of a Churchill-like speech, defining the battle for health while the neighbourly battle raged on.
'Chain Recation' by J Green - wonderful how one stanza can create such a beautiful, comedy image lodged in the memory of a four year old - making the audience chuckle as well.

As you can see the poetry conveyed many kinds of battles; I really can't do justice to the poems and so recommend purchasing their anthology 'Battle Lines' (ISBN 978-0-905985-53-4) to fully appreciate their talents. With the added knowledge that all profits from the collection are being donated to the NMA Appeal, The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Lichfield. I also bought their other anthology 'Silver Words' (ISBN 978-0-905985-46-6) honouring the 25th anniversary of St Giles Hospice, Whittington, Staffordshire.

The Lichfield Poets continued to delight with performance poetry which varied in tone and topic. Much hilarity arose from 'Wheelie bins know what you are thinking' by Steph Lunn, 'Sauce' by Jan Arnold  and 'The Tale of The Teeth' by Janet Jenkins. Whereas dramatic delivery accompanied 'Adultery' by Gary Longden, 'Hats' by Anthony Webster and 'Incantation' by Val Thompson, where a posse of poets delivered each poem with precision timing.

After rapturous applause in recognition of their talents and delivery, the mic was open to other performers. Alec Simpson read an extract from his autobiography 'A Boy at War' telling the tale of dancing lesson during his school days. Andy Biddulph provided a guitar accompaniment to his poetry reading, which in keeping with The Lichfield Poets, focused upon war. George Barbrook's poem 'Scout Camp' was crammed with images of fun-hungry scouts running a muck between games of 'maggots'. Margaret Torr delivered three poems 'Home run', 'Empathy' and ' Hidden agenda' each beautifully crafted - leaving the audience wanting more.  Ian Ward's 'Lifestyle' and 'The Traveller' and Dee Costello's 'Memorial to the ordinary' and 'Arrowheads' were befitting the tribute and theme of the evening. Steph Lunn's three poems 'One more day', 'Something must have happened' and 'The magician's wife' brought yet another tear to my eye  - I really must be get a grip but hey that's the beauty of poetry.

Barry Patterson finished the evening with a very dramatic piece, inspired by Pooley colliery, combining geology terms and a story of first day mining nerves - a winner all around with its curious terminology, natty punch lines, quick delivery and of course Barry's unique style.

Wow - what a night! Believe me, these are just the highlights of three hours of poetry - you really need to experience the whole night to appreciate such talent. Next 'Fizz 7' evening - 17th May 2011 at Polesworth Abbey Refectory - performance by The New Polesworth Poets, phase two of the Polesworth Poetry Trail - doors open at 7ish ready for a prompt start at 7.30pm - everyone welcome.

See, I told you I'd been busy, all that in just one night - my creative juices were over flowing with enthusiasm and ideas. So much so that I was able to craft a small poem about a pit pony called Jutt, as part of my offering for the Polesworth Poetry Trail phase two - which I've mentioned on previous weeks. I'd put aside my original idea as I was struggling to do justice to the subject, plus an annoying little rhythm had developed - which I didn't want. So I turned my mind to a smaller poem dedicated to a Welsh pit pony and surprise, surprise success. I shall return to my prize poem in a day or so, as all poems have to be complete by 8th April.

My final stint for this week is, or rather, it's fast appraoching is my 'big birthday' on Friday, 1st April. So, this week sees me entering my final week as a thirty something - boy, has that decade flown. I have found myself reflecting upon the past ten years which have been very fulfilling on a personal level but there has been a underlying yearning regards my writing. So, as I enter my final week at 39, I am hoping that my focus will continue to be achieving my goal of a published book.

Thanks for reading - it really was a mammoth week.... fingers crossed this next week lives up to my expectations as I head to Dublin, with my darling hubby, to celebrate the big four zero!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Technology, nature walks and a 35 year old wish came true!

Hello my friends, a whole five days late regards my regular post but I have finally made it on-line. Last Thursday, 10 March, my computer died, not my writing laptop - thank God, but the families main computer linked to the net. It simply froze and refused to budge, much like me infront of an Austen drama. Anyway, to cut a very long story very short, a very nice man was called, who after a day of playing and deleting viruses has renewed my faith in technology and restored my sanity. So, here I am, ready and eager to blog about the past few days.

Saturday, saw me attend the second workshop for phase two of The Polesworth Poetry Trail. I'll tell you it's hard posing as a poet when you're truly a writer....I got told off by two people for using a dictaphone...honestly, one said I was cheating! Never in the writer's world would that be classed as cheating... poets obviously work harder than us writers not just in the word selection department but also in writing long hand on paper. Anyway, the day was a blinding success, a huge group of poets and me wandering about the nature reserve seeking inspiration from the surrounding beauty. I was delighted to see Brian Mitchell, an acquaintance from a previous writing group, who'd I lost touch with. I even did extra homework by attending the very next day with husband in tow to retrace our steps and see the reserve on a quieter day. The sun was beaming, the birds singing and I was delighted to bump into two other workshoppers doing the same as me.

Anyway, this weekend I had a 35 years old wish come true - all from being a little cheeky - if you don't ask, you don't get. As a child, growing up in Polesworth, I used to ask my mum whilst out shopping 'who lives in that big house?' The house I was refering to was Pooley Hall, a beautiful hall built in 1509, that is hidden amongst dense foliage on the outskirts of our village. Well, since those first inquisitive questions at five years old I've longed to visit, nose about and basically see the village from the inside of that house - tall order but hey, this week I managed it - I even climbed onto the Hall's roof and stood amongst the battlements decorating the tower!!! Boy, did I get a view of our village. I was given a guided tour of the property by its current owner who was taken aback by the wealth of knowledge that I have about his home, even more so regards the ghosts stories associated with it. Anyway, I was given a rare opportunity to fullfil my wish providing lots of ideas and inspiration for my poem .

Regards me poem, I am now fixed on one theme, Pooley hall, and am begining to draft word lists, themes and images upon which I can begin to expand into single lines. My head is currently like a shed with lots of grand plans but we'll have to wait and see how much comes through on the page. I shall probably go and make a start now, as it looks like my writing group has been cancelled due to the shortage of bodies.

So, apologies for the late blog but technology let me down big time.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Rachel's Holiday, Mad Hatters and a music exam

Afternoon readers, it seems to have been a busy old week, with lots going on and so my writing has suffered. In fact everything creative has suffered. I haven't even written my diary this week, let alone my novel draft.

Wednesday night, at The Mad Hatter's Writers' group, I read aloud my offering 'Thirteen clocks' which was well received by my fellow poets and writers. They seemed to enjoy my snap shot of an old clockmaker forging his identity within the modern world. It was a short story inspired by Orwell's opening line of '1984', 'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen'. At the writers' group, we set ourselves group exercises of which the opening line was my offering. In the time that we've been doing this exercise, we've taken inspiration from a black and white print, a poem, a floor plan of a house, a colour photograph - from which we've each created interesting and unqiue work. Each exercise stretches our creativity and offers me a chance to attempt a genre outside of my comfort zone. I'll let you know what the next exercise is, maybe you could give it a try and possibly share the end result.

Today, in the United Kingdom is World Book Day; of which I've played an active role by distributing 48 free copies of the Marian Keyes book, 'Rachel's holiday'. I've been able to give the book to friends, family, work colleagues and a local library - in the knowledge that each book has been gratefully received. Each book has a unique number and, if registered, will be tracked throughout its 'shelf life' (heehee, shelf life - I like that) to see where it will end up and how many hands it has passed through. I feel a short story coming along based on that idea.

I sat a music theory exam on Thursday, so had to spend some time revising musical terms in preparation - though it all paid off as I actually enjoyed the exam process and fingers crossed will be awarded a merit or possibly, a distinction grade. I had to smile, there were only two adults sitting the exam and 26 children - its quite humbling seated next to a ten year old sitting their grade five!!!

So, my goal for this week is to write, write and write a little more. I have a fairly quiet week ahead, so there is no excuse. I still have ideas for a poem germinating in my noggin but I have until Saturday to nurture those.

Finally, can I say a huge hello to the new readers from Iran, Morroco and United Arab Emirates - the audience is steadily growing each week. Enjoy x