Emergency Shoe Shopping, Mangoes and Superman – Leeds blog

Emergency shoe shopping, Mangoes and Superman (Leeds blog) First of all, Seven Arts is a cracking venue. Secondly, I arrived in Leeds at 3pm and had to go shoe shopping. I knew I’d forgotten something and after visiting 6 shops I found some suitable size 6 ½ wide-fit vaguely ladylike shoes. I didn’t cry. I always cry when I go shoe-shopping. Maybe next time I should go to a different city to buy shoes. The distraction of being lost makes the experience more bearable. The traffic around Leeds was awful in every direction. This meant I arrived at the venue two hours before the doors opened. I had a lemon chicken breast burger and a pint of local ale. The leisurely (for me) start to the evening was appreciated and it was enjoyable to greet people as they arrived and ask people where they heard about the event. I thought working the door (as part of being host would not work, but maybe it is a good way of getting information back from people (without having to force everyone to fill in a questionnaire at the end when they are often rushing to catch bus/train/drive home). The traffic issues meant a rush on the door at the time we were due to start. We started ten minutes later, but made this back by the break, as everyone stuck perfectly to the ten minute time slots. Consummate professionals. Poets: Mike Barlow: Drove the “Starship Mazda” into “the beauty of peaty fog.” His “Four houses” poem has stuck with me – “the walls hung with mayhem”. http://www.mikebarlow.org.uk/ Caleb Parkin: I loved “The Ballad Morris Omies” and the details about the Polari Mission (a mission to save a bold and secret language). Oh and “Let us honour the Hangover Pig Angel”. http://skylabstories.net/about/ Emma Decent: Gave us “Advice from a Stone on traveling alone.” The line that has stuck with me even now is: “Your centre will hold you.” Good advice for life really. http://emmadecent.co.uk/ Martin Vosper: Amused us with his Leeds prayer and “Superman writes poetry” – especially “allowing himself a little laugh”, “lingering over his lycra” and a “frisson of a fetish shared”. “The Ballad of Grayson Perry” is always a pleasure. No website details. Ian Duhig: “The Lammas Hireling” was an excellent poem to take us to the break and I love the line “in a sack that grew lighter with every step.” Also the “instruments were anything we can reach to hit” – to me this sounds much like a three-year old in any superstore. http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/ian-duhig Bob Harding-Jones: Amused us with his “Imperfectionist” poem and ”Badminton of illnesses”. http://www.bobjones.co.uk/ Rommi Smith along with Laura Cole on keyboard provided the first poetry with musical accompaniment of the tour. “Gloria Silver” washed over me. http://www.rommi-smith.co.uk/ Mabh Savage: Performed a Volume piece written for the tour which included the lines: “Traps for hopes and dreams turned down to low” and “Silence is a gift you give yourself.” The last line rings particularly true to me as a Mum. http://soundsoftime.wordpress.com/ Steve O’Connor: took us with him and got us lost in the sounds of speech and landscape in “an embrace that sustains like the ocean’s roar.” and “the noise of clouds at sunset”, “ill-conceived judgements scribbled in the margins.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/steveoconnor John Siddique: talked to us about how the poems choose the poet. His “End of the mango season poem” was powerful and moving and he ended with a lighter piece, which was an ideal to finish the evening, though it is the mangos that remain with me. http://www.johnsiddique.co.uk/ Leeds I will end with a celebration of the Yorkshire rainbow. Revel under a Yorkshire rainbow. Wakefield Sheffield Headingley Leeds Their rainbows always find me The Manchester rainbow knows my haunts hides from me behind clouds folds itself into wheelie bins when it hears my footsteps Yorkshire rainbows don’t know the rhythm of my breath my steady step and the routine of my days I surprise Yorkshire rainbows into being more vibrant having three more bands than the ordinary type

Bat Applicants at Blackburne House Cafe – Quiet Compere Liverpool Review

Bat Applicants at Blackburne House Cafe Bat applicants. Bat Applicants. Bat Applicants. Bat Applicants. Go on. Say it out loud. You know you want to! This is the phrase I came away with from last Friday’s Quiet Compere gig at Blackburne House. This was in Cath Nichols set and I love her for the fact she makes me smile every time I repeat it to myself and even after a week there are no signs of these four syllables losing this magic. First half: Helen Tookey: “We took what was ugliest and made it ours.” Loved her landscapes and medical terminology. Helen’s book Missel-child is out now: http://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9781847772183 Katie McCloskey: armed her child with ” a cardboard shield and a fake sword.” and told us about “cafes where they learned to swallow air.” No link. AndrewMcMillan: is memorable for heart-breaking lines: “back across the border the man I love is curled to someone else” and “dressed like kids who have forgotten their games kits. Crying in the toilets.” http://andrewmcmillanpoet.tumblr.com/biography Jane Aspinall: read an affair series and birds swooped through this and the lines “the safest place to hide a thing is with others of its kind” and ” how they feel for each other when trying not to fall”. Also loved the Tambourine one with the volume theme. http://www.janeaspinallpoetry.com/blog/ David Bateman: His brief footage of the stars poem began sounding plausible and slowly built to become more difficult to suspend disbelief. I also loved the “Word Wizard” and the idea of making a stutter a luxury item. http://www.publishingnorthwest.co.uk/author/39 In the interval I quietly wandered and overheard several conversations between poets who had not seen each other for years and were delighted to be back together. As well as being a platform for me to meet poets in other cities I feel the fact I am viewing the scene from a distance and trying to include people from both performance and page arenas and from different groups is bringing a different line-up than usually found in these cities. I think this will hopefully have the effect of strengthening the link between poets and introduce poets to other poets they may not have encountered at their regular meetings at poetry nights or workshops. Second Half: Stephen O’Shaughnessy: was surprisingly confident for his first ever performance. I loved the detail in his “Contents of a bed-sit” poem and the factory sounds. Linsdey Holland: lovely sounds “our muscles taut with walk and work.” “The anonymous smell of forgotten crevices.”. So jealous that Lindsey is Chester Zoo Poet in Residence. http://www.chesterzoo.org/plan-your-visit/whats-on/Poet_in_residence_March Mandy Coe: another line that is joyful to repeat: “smell a yellow pencil and tell you the last thing it wrote.” and “The blanket I wrapped you in” poem was moving. http://www.mandycoe.com/ ­Cath Nichols: Treated us to an all new set. I loved the Eeyore poem, the bat applicants and world-view widening poems from her trans series. http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/cathnichols Colin Watts: Hospital as a child poem searching for the familiar “stitches were Connermara cotton.” I felt his sadness at: “Taking down the tree-house.” and “the half an hour with a lump-hammer.” http://www.colinwatts.net/poems.php   That Accent Dad was a Man U fan down to the tomato soup he had to eat on game day. Most children grew up with a background sound of blackbirds and watering cans. There was laughter and giddiness, wrestling and paddling pools, but always with a radio commentary and the occasional shushing from the sun lounger. The sound of the pools being read out is home. Dad taught us the Scouse accent was other, the enemy. Until I was twenty-three I believed this. Then, I met Gary from Skem on summer school in Keele. He whispered the right words into my lonely ears. We shared our dreams, our histories for one night (his included a fiancé back at home), but for one night we kissed and slept beside each other, fully-dressed. In that night, I developed a love for the Merseyside accent, by osmosis, it represented a daring, a  small rebellion, a balm, a stepping away from all that was safe and home. It was an attractive alternative to nasal Manchester tones. My Dad has a tattoo “Born in Ancoats, 1953” and he used to own a harsh Ardwick accent. Until my Mum with her slight Brummie undertone, despite the elocution lessons, took it and softened it, tamed it and made it fit into suburban Stockport. I remember when he called his parents. To an eight-year old the reversion to broad East Manc. was total and beguiling. Things I learnt from Liverpool gig When there isn’t a mic make sure my Quiet intros are loud enough. Not to panic about only having sold 5 tickets in advance until the day, because there will be a sufficient walk-up audience. That rhyming poems are often missed by some poets and to take a couple of my rhyming poems along if the evening is almost purely free verse to change the pace and rhythm.

Kendal Review

The Brewery Arts Centre The venue was spectacular and massive. I found every time I left the studio I was in a different art gallery, bar or an entrance to another event. Though the space was impressive the lay-out of seating was a bit strange with seats on three sides to the walls. Ann made a very good point of asking people to turn to audience in both directions when they were performing if they could.   Ann Wilson is a poetic force in Kendal and had met most of the performers before. She was chatty form and was an excellent hostess. She also sported a Quiet Compere T-shirt – THEY HAVE ARRIVED! I am sure Verbalise is a popular night and has a regular following and am happy to have shared the audience. As well as her fine, if not quiet, compere skills, her poetry was smashing. I loved the fact that she taught us mini bagpipes are called chanters – http://www.annthepoet.com/   The audience were so respectfully silent I felt I had to pause to enjoy the tension a couple of times in the night.   The evening kicked off with Geraldine Green and she started her set with a poem by Jane, whose farm we were staying on. A fitting tribute, as Jane was at the farm looking after new-born tups and gimmers (lambs). Geraldine told us about temping and dreaming of being smuggled from the offices. Here is the link to Salt Road: http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/geraldine-green/4579511138 Susan Deer Cloud followed with a poem about lilting language. She is touring the UK and tasting every new accent she encounters. https://sites.google.com/site/susandeercloud/ Kim Moore surprised laughter from me with her rant about Brass Band students: She was putting a curse on the parents of these children that would: “involve marching and outdoors and coldness”.  http://www.kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/ Norman Hadley stood in at short notice for Marvin Cheeseman and I was delighted to hear some of the 52 poems performed live. Fresh bread and “Hills my father gave me” were well-crafted and delivered with skill. http://www.normanhadley.com/ Sarah Miller cheered every time anyone mentioned Barrow. I loved hearing “Ginny Green-teeth” in this venue. http://sarahmillerwhowrites.wordpress.com/ Nick Pemberton’s Manchester accent felt like a hug from home. The phrase that stays is: “You visit me like a taste on the lips or the seed of a smile”. Josephine Dickinson  moved the audience with her storming performance including a “bowl of threads to unravel in the maze”. A piece about walking with her husband for the first and last time was incredibly moving. http://www.josephinedickinson.com/ Polly Atkin made me want to be at the Heavenly Bodies launch. Every poem I have heard from this anthology of constellations has captivated me. Every poem Polly read had this effect too. “Storms were our horses” and “tonight we are full with species of madness” were lines that stood out.  http://pollyatkin.com/publications/ Mark Mace Smith. I captured his sideways “Can I get away with this? Well I’m going to do it anyway!” look on camera before his naughty poem. “Recklessly-earned adrenalin” and “Belief tastes like now”. http://thuddub.blogspot.co.uk/   Jane’s Farm   – Kendal Poem  Grass is greener on this side of the limestone wall, the breeze-teased fringes shimmer wet sunlight.   Straw is spun by the wind’s fingers into knotted fleece of Shetland wool and the results are golden   Lambs are numbered an emerald 1,2,3,4 and move like they are learning to dance.   Swallows enjoy the wind too much to land. Cows have passports but don’t want to leave.   Kendal in General The Kendal trip was extended and I revelled in the fact I had more time in the place and with the people. I was hoping to arrive in time to go to The Refreshment Room of Brief Encounter on Carnforth Station. It closed before I arrived so I went straight to Oxenholme Station and was two hours early. I met a talkative woman in the café and we shared anecdotes as we both have young children and liked Take That when we were younger. Before I had even been collected from the station, I had met a guy who knew the village I grew up in so well he remembered the names of the pubs. Jane picked me up and drove me to her farm where I met Geraldine Green, she was immediately so warm and open, as Facebook conversations had suggested she would be. By the time Susan and John had found their way to the cottage, Geraldine and I were so comfortable with each other that Susan assumed we were old friends. It’s wonderful when meeting someone is that easy. We all went to Jingling Lane for Chippy in Kirkby Lonsdale and walk to Ruskin’s View over the River Lune. By the end of this time we had bonded over Dandelion and Burdock, travelling tales and the sharing of the last portion of mushy peas. This is feeling like a diary entry. Wondering whether my blog would be easier to read if I treat it as such with headings so people can choose which bits they may want to read and it will all sound like juts having a chat or a letter from me. We returned to Jane’s Farm, where the expectant sheep had not yet birthed. We drank tea around the wood-burner and retired early.   Saturday, Geraldine and I were wandering around the farm when attendees for the workshop began to arrive. One of the lambs birthed and the six of us who were wandering converged on the mother and her two gimmers and a tup. All were well and the lambs were already starting to walk. On returning inside the phone was ringing. Geraldine answered it, more at home than me and took an order for ½ a lamb from town. Geraldine ran a morning workshop and plenty of excellent pieces were produced. I enjoyed the volume rising as this group of poets who meet every month or two shared stories of mishaps, successes and family. Listening to a phrase or two from each conversation, then switching. I wrote a piece about a horse drinking all the water from Earth (no idea where this came from – not like me at all). Maybe it was the influence of Geraldine and Susan!   We had a tea of lamb hot-pot, for someone who was vegetarian for several years and would never eat baby animals until a couple of years ago, this was quite a leap from watching new lambs born (and learning their names) to having an order put in for one within ten minutes, to eating a lamb hot-pot made with the lambs who were on this farm less than three weeks ago.   We went to our rooms to dress in evening wear and John heard the lambs shouting and alerted Jane. She ran to the barn and found one of the lambs had a cowl over its face and was not breathing. She resuscitated it and stayed behind to hand-feed it from a bottle. Another set of triplets had been born. Geraldine read one of Jane’s poems from The North out.   Learning points:
  1. Running over. All apart from two ran over! Ann said they are used to being there for the night once they arrive and not to worry if night runs over. I am very keen to stick to time, as I think two hour event is long enough to expect people to concentrate and ten o’ clock is late enough finish, it ended up being ten thirty finish. Ann did lengthier introductions and I wasn’t sure in Ann’s half if she was still expecting me time or not, or just not bothering with timings.
  1. Concern our break may clash with Lee Evans’ break. Check out other events in venue beforehand.
  1. Anywhere I can extend the visit a little, even to early on the day before or to stay with poets over-night. Much warmer and less of a wrench when it was over.
  1. Someone at the Birmingham event mentioned exit flyering to me. Something I will consider asking venues to do for future events.

Writing Process Blog

‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour I was honoured to be invited to this blog tour by the excellent  Cathy Bryant, her Comps and Call on the Write Out Loud site steel dozens of poets to send their pieces out and there are many successes on the back of this.  Here is Cathy’s blog:  http://cathybryant.co.uk/news.html Amidst planning, promoting and compering of the Quiet Compere Tour, I have been squirreling some time to write, though I am not sure how and this time will be massively curtailed for a couple of weeks, while I work through Frank’s list of things to do at Easter. This includes be Darth Vader, Got to the dentist, buy tomatoes, build castles, make models of spaceships, bake, do experiments, go to the park and a dozen other things he will remind me of when we haven’t done them.  I will love every minute and will finish Easter feeling exhausted, with a messier house (if that is possible and the two toy boxes I am planning to purchase over the holiday are not used) and a few seeding poems.
  1. What am I working on?
I am a quarter of the way around an Arts Council-funded tour of the North (with a jaunt into Birmingham) as The Quiet Compere. Organising, performing and promoting. I am making exciting new connections and hearing new performer’s voices, accents, themes and styles every month. This is feeding into my work and I am also writing a blog about the event and the experience of being in each city. Blogging is new to me, apart from through NaPoWriMo prompts. I completed NaPoWriMo in 2012 and 2013 and enjoyed the challenge of staying within the prompt’s parameters and writing poems this way 30 days in a row. I don’t usually write a piece every day I found that out of the 30, 10 were pretty much complete and 10 had something I wanted to work on, the other were just waffle that may become a poem, or not engaging enough for me to want to continue with. I am enjoying the more leisurely pace of 52 and the chance to work on a pieces before posting and then have constructive feedback on your 4th or 5th draft. These types of groups are essential, especially for people who don’t or can’t get out to workshops and receive feedback from other poets and writers. I run writing workshops in Chorlton and I find the ratio is about the same for pieces that come from my prompts. Though I prefer to workshop from other people’s prompts, because even if you try to ignore your prompt until the workshop, it is not as fresh to you as it is to the attendees. This is why I often like to use random prompts (such as pulling a line of poetry from say Shakespeare’s Hat) or a photo or a humorous tweet or an invented form of poetry found on social media.   2.  How does my work differ from others of it genre? Writing as a mother, with a scientific background, I find my pieces are carefully constructed and (I am told) more touching due to the objectivity. It is easy to write sentimental, personal pieces about your children, but I am determined for my pieces unless to approach the issues of childhood and motherhood in surprising or otherwise engaging ways.   3. Why do I write what I do? To understand the world and my thoughts. As a record of life events, though I find it difficult to write on demand for birthdays or weddings, especially of close family and find I leave these pieces until the last minute and pull something off that is appreciated by the audience. Because I have to. It is a natural for me to write as it is for people to walk, run, brush their hair. If I didn’t make time to write I feel there would be a chasm in every day.   4.  How does your writing process work? As well as writing at workshops or writing days and for/with online groups I find when I am involved in writing sessions I often wake up with poems semi-formed and wanting to be written. Recently, I have been making myself get up, have a cup of tea and write on the door-step, before Frank is up. If Frank wakes before me the kernel of a poem is often lost in the demands of a three-year-old. Though I am trying to distract him for long enough to write for five minutes each morning if I write with a drive to. Sometimes for several months I don’t enjoy any of the pieces I write. If I sit this out I often find I come out the other side with a mass of poems that seem fully-formed, as if they have been mulling all that time and just waiting for the right moment to splurge into the notebook (or maybe the right notebook). I don’t set aside a certain amount a day to write, but often manage to fit it in when I need to. Outside the holidays I do spread-sheet work two days a week and spend much of the rest of my time planning workshops and events. Social Media essential to this and having a magic phone that brings it to my attention when messages come through or social media is working it’s wonder. I find it difficult to ignore my phone, but tear myself from it for hours sometimes in order to write. Many of my pieces come out mostly realised and I try to recognise when this is the case and not mess with them too much. Others start with a phrase and build or need a form to batter them into order, often taking years to feel complete. I write on envelopes, receipts, on the back of bills, anywhere if I don’t have a note-book to hand. If there is no paper and I am walking (often when I feel the need to write) and I have a phone with me I send my husband the notes or poem – makes for amusing messages and means I don’t lose the thread. I run Post Box Poets: The next event is on Tuesday 6th May with guests Alicia Stubbersfield, Clare Shaw and Rod Tame. £3 on the door at Post Box Café Chorlton, M21 9PP Next Workshops: Chorlton Library Sundays:  Sunday May 4th 1-3pm. £3 Chorlton Library, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9PN Horse-meet writing sessions:  Wednesday 9th April 12-2pm £5 Horse and Jockey, Chorlton Green, Manchester, M21 9HS Post Box Pennings: Thursday 17th April 7:30-9pm £5  Post Box Café, Chorlton, M21 9PP
Over the next couple of weeks you can look forward to:   Louise Fazackerley Biog: http://louisethepoet.co.uk/info/      http://bbcnewvoices.wordpress.com/     Blog will be posted 14th April Nina Lewis:  http://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/category/performance-poetry/                                blog will be posted 14th April Sarah James is a poet, short fiction writer and journalist. Her first collection Into the Yell (Circaidy Gregory Press, 2010) won third prize in the International Rubery Book Awards 2011. A second, more experimental collection, Be[yond], is published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. She also enjoys photography, poetryfilm, perfromance poetry and collaborations. Her website and blog are at: www.sarah-james.co.uk .        Blog will be posted 21st April.

Birmingham Quiet Compere Review

983605_10152682619357388_1781399691_n Suburban Tourist Magnolia and laburnum weigh down Selly Park roads Everywhere seems to be a Road around here. Do they hide their avenues and crescents behind huge deciduous lawn decorations that gleefully break up the sun? I wouldn’t want to meet these branches in moonlight.   A sign for Kidderminster, I play the word across my tongue but know nothing of it’s people and buildings.   The people I ask for directions are surprised that anyone would choose to walk into town – no-one walks and if they do, they are on their way to catch a bus!   Walking in other people’s suburbs I am more awake to the things they would miss: The hand-painted friezes on Nursery windows, an attractive balcony, graffiti so old it has become a blind spot for them.   Belgrave Interchange. The sky-scrapers approach only at the speed I let them. Stalling and with time I nurse monkey-bar calluses on my right hand from the wheeled suitcase’s adventure of cobbles, tarmac, paving stones, the occasional pull of sand or soft relief of soil.   Holloway Circus Subway signals the end to my suburban tourism.   Ruth Stacey: Weaved delicate verse and then hit us with “the bear who brings white roses that smell of other girls”.      http://ruthstacey.com/ Laura Yates: “Whatever we say it always feels like saying Goodbye.” was a line that felt as if it had been lived by everyone in the room. Birmingham poem. No webpage. Sarah James: “Vases I have known” addressed the suggested Volume theme and her poem about a born organiser who had Alzheimer’s was difficult to listen to. http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/ Gary Longden: As well as providing a comprehensive blog of the event within 24 hours, Gary also amused us with his adultery poem “Her mind might have been elsewhere, but her clothes were straight”. http://garylongden.wordpress.com/ Bobby Parker: His pieces were raw, but tempered with a delicate dark humour. http://www.argotistonline.co.uk/Parker%20poems.htm Charlie Jordan: The lines: “hand-drawn maps to the bridge are no use” and“Bridges are where I feel small.”Charlie was so easy at the mic it didn’t surprise me to find out she has taken up a drivetime DJ slot for Smooth FM this week. http://www.charliejordan.co.uk/ Ian Bowkett: Cool Rubik’s cube prop and: “Tomorrow we wake up better people with longer hair and a lesson learnt.” http://ianbowkett.bandcamp.com/ Jenny Hope: The assured gentleness of Jenny contrasted well after Ian’s set. Sound effects “brrrrrtchhhh brrrttcccccch! I meant to ask to see how it was written. ‘satin ribbons from remnant skies’ stunning imagery. “In winter I dress in icy armour, it keeps my heart soft.” www.poetrymaker.co.uk Ddotti Bluebell: I took dozens of photos in this set as Ddotti was expressive and entertaining. Happily managed to capture her kicking arse. Loving the fact the white hairdressers didn’t know what to do with the Dreads, but neither did the black ones! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmV1nD0nFVI Matt “Man” Windle: Matt had invested ‘Awe of Us’ with passion. The line that stood out was:”I refuse to belittle… I’m just half as tall.” I asked for a copy of this so I can absorb it, a poem you want to hear a dozen times! And he made me cry! http://mattwindle.wordpress.com/   Massive Brummie Welcome – I was delighted that there was a generous amount of the Brum accent in the performances – in contrast to not one native of York in the previous event. Birmingham Surprises: 1) I had only met one person in the room for a couple of hours, but the Brummie welcome was so warm I felt I was among friends before I even stepped up the mic! 2) No performer needed nudging about timings 3) The audience were as friendly and enthusiastic about the tour as the performers! 4) Taxi drivers said “How much do you want to pay?” This was especially useful when one took me on a 6 mile round detour by taking me back to Serpentine Road in Harbourne rather than Serpentine Road in Selly Park! 5) Pershore Road goes on forever! Well I never found the end! 6) Akram’s Curry house was excellent. 7) Misfitted Dance (where I bought a bookmark, a badge and a fabric mother’s day gift. 8) I am being interviewed by a member of the audience for a guest blog (not something I had thought was an option).   Hexagon Surprises: 1) The performers, though I knew there was a good mix of performance and more page-based poets I never believed it could go that well. 2) Venue was amazing and we had green rooms and performer’s toilet! 3) This venue had proper tickets! 4) They did a doors open announcement for The Quiet Compere!   OOOOH! 5) The panic of having sold 14 tickets before the event dissipated as there were over forty of us in the end! 6) It was fun to have a lanyard again, just under a year after I handed back my last NHS one. (ALL EXCLAMATION MARKS ARE DEEMED NECESSARY BY THE AUTHOR!)   Learning Curve 3 1) I am trying to get into the habit of posting review within a week of the event, so it feels fresher and I do not over-analyse it. 2) People do not like to fill out questionnaires unless you stand there and wait for your pen back. 3) There will ALWAYS be walk-up! 4) I found I was the not-so Quiet Compere and performed seven poems here, I decided I am still The Quiet Compere because these poems were mostly quiet contemplative pieces rather than all-out performance pieces. 5) It is well worth a small extra fee from venues to have the logo projected on a screen (if the option is available) and to plan this further in advance next time. 6) That I should NEVER get my hopes up about the T-shirts! Still not arrived – were supposed to be ready for Manchester event on 31st January! 7) Ask someone to review each time (in advance if possible – offer a free ticket to known local reviewer). Three reviews posted within 3 days of the event. 8) Next time stay with friends – sharing the poetry buzz is always better – felt a little bereft, but every awake when everyone else left. 9) Superb venues are often worth double the hire cost. 10) I get the impression poets and audience would be happy to pay £5 for this format and this would not reduce audience numbers significantly and may make future tours viable.   Please check out other blogs on this event here: The Quiet Compere, MAC, Birmingham The Quiet Compere (21/3/14) http://thegirlwhogrewintoacrocodile.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/the-joy-of-publication-and-an-evening-with-the-quiet-compere/   The Quiet Compere Tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.      

York event review

York Blog


Shared Earth, York  – My destination


As a claustrophobe

who is 30% control freak

the prospect

of  living within walls appeals.


The Minster

where the sceptical are converted

The wavering of faith

compelled to return


Sharp-edged houses

a book-width at the corners


natural single volume bookshelves


I discover 13 year old me

loitering in Shared Earth

in a blanket weaved of sandalwood

and whale sounds.


She wears a burgundy hooded top

I still wear now.

Colours of Autumn it says on the front,

But it always reminds her of York in Spring.


She carries her prizes to the checkout:

A dream-catcher,

worry dolls

and a treasure chest sparkling with false gems.


I echo these purchases

with equal enthusiasm,

but am sent to Paperchase

for the animal-themed writing paper.


York Poets


I loved Tanya Nightingale’s “The world where no-one lies”. I encountered and enjoyed the unforgettable performance styles of Rose Drew and Miles Salter. Chris Singleton’s T’was the night before pay day went down well. Amina Rose stood in for Kate Fox and her set was both gentle and musical. Pat Borthwick and Carole Bromley’s poems were packed with exquisite details. John Gilham provided us with a  ‘miserabalist catalogue’, his phrase, not mine, but the misery was so eloquent. Will Kemp’s poem about a family falling into water and keeping tally was touching and spare. Oz Hardwick joined in with the film noir theme, echoing one of my pieces and he and his partner led me circuitous way home to avoid drunk people and hen and stag dos, via the pasty shop, of course. 


York Stuff


Ok, things about York. The gig went well and as it was the first with a Box Office, I was panicking a bit when only 25 tickets had sold in advance – an audience of 55 filled the place up and more chairs had to be found!


Tony and Chantelle, from Liverpool, who sat opposite me on the train, all head-phones and nudging until our service was diverted by a fatality on the line. This rerouting meant headphones came off and stayed off and we talked of death, life, work and poetry.


Caroline, in property sales for 16 years, still feels the loss five years later.

The fact that no-one in York was from York. None of my performers were originally from York either. Hard to find anyone with the accent. I enjoy being cloaked in vowel sounds and colloquialisms. This felt like a pivotal character missing completely from an episode of a series.


To the girls in The Cornish Pasty Bakery and that local accent at last at 11pm at night, served up with a smile and a warm cheese scone.


The niece and aunt at breakfast who had come to York for the shops and did a sterling job of not selling Sunderland to me.


The lady in the Holgate Hill Hotel who is away from her dementia-suffering husband

To “recharge and hopefully get a bit lost!”. Nothing like getting lost with the luxury of having time to find your way and yourself again.


Meeting people further along the tour:


In the last month I have met up with a Birmingham performer and a Newcastle performer and the bonds being forged through The Quiet Compere Tour are strong. I am making some great connections and even though it is strange to meet virtual friends in reality, this has been such a positive experience on Quiet Compere Tour so far, I am hoping this vibe continues.  


Learning Curve


1)      No matter how many times you mention that the tour is Arts Council funded people will tick that they weren’t aware on the questionnaire.

2)      T-shirts are still not ready. Should be for Birmingham.

3)      Flyering/postering Birmingham may have made some new contacts, but not sure investment in time and train ticket is going to show in ticket sales. All York Questionnaires said heard by word of mouth or social media. However, if I can combine the promotional visit with an event, this may make travel over worthwhile.

4)      Get in a better position to take photos of guests.

5)      I am feeling a little sad that I am half way through the tour for promotion purposes. Each new flyer designed sends a shiver through me. Will just have to start planning the next venture!

PS The Leeds and Liverpool flyers/posters are on their way! T-shirts should arrive by Thursday. I have seen the designs and the excitement at seeing these has kept me from being to cross I haven’t got the real things yet. I will be sporting one in Birmingham on Friday!

Manchester Event Review of sorts

The Manchester event at Three Minute Theatre SOLD OUT. I was still juggling numbers as I climbed into a taxi at half six. Facebook and Twitter cancellations and then people keen to buy tickets. I felt like a tout for 45 minutes. This event was the best possible start to The Quiet Compere Tour I could envisage. None of the things that I had dreamt of went disastrously wrong.  The venue was open for 45 minutes before the event kicked off, which meant a leisurely start to the evening with a couple of rushes on the door. Apart from one performer, who informed me he had no voice on Tuesday, everyone else turned up, including his replacement. I kicked off the night with a piece I like the sound of and a piece I wrote last week at Sheffield Writer’s Day. Steph Pike: Then we were taken directly into a set of Love poems (one addressed to David Cameron, Steph got the audience thinking about him aroused) and then took us by surprise with a swift change in the form of a gentle piece about Bees she had written at a Stirred workshop this week. Jackie O’Hagan: Jackie read a piece from her touring show “Some People Have Too Many Legs” at The Contact, Manchester on 22nd March. This is presently SOLD OUT, but more seats are being organised and tickets may become available. In the meantime, we were treated to stories about Edna and back-tickling and people in the “same coloured pain”. Jackie started giving out Certificates for niceness and in one case “for being very Welsh”. Ben Willems: As first reserve, Ben fitted into this line-up beautifully and happily for me, read my favourite: “Is your accent strong?” to the tune of “Do You Ears Hang Low?” written in one of my workshops. You’ve got to love a poem that ends: “Ding Dong/witch song/Iron Lady/Rust in Peace”. Rosie Garland: Rosie instructed us to “Make this your auspicious day.” She performed a piece about mathematic and butchery, rarely seen together in poetry and refreshing. I love the fact Unicorns at 4am get cheers. Jeffarama: I had not met Jeff before tonight and thoroughly enjoyed his set and it’s inspired rhyming. “It’s the music that matters” stood out for me. As I come to the second half of the evening and the sixth poet I running out of positive descriptions for performers, also an issue I have when tweeting daily about upcoming events, should I stick with the same one? My favourite is cracking. Wondering if I should hunt out some more positive adjectives before madly promoting York event! I started off the second half with an piece To Manchester and a piece to Birmingham (later in the tour). Shirley May: I had not met Shirley before tonight and as she took to the stage she held herself in the manner of a seasoned performer (which she is) and took us with her. Her set made me cry more than once (others did this once, I’m such a softie!) and the finale of a poem where the character was given “the keys to the brothel” touched me. Charlotte Henson:. Since agreeing to perform, Charlotte has moved away and I was chuffed she still returned to Manchester to perform at this. Stand out line: “I am the thing you never asked for, but ended up with anyway”. Charlotte is an accomplished performer who puts so much of herself into her poetry, it hurts. Rod Tame: I love the poem Rod does about having his own theme tune (am now wondering what my theme tune might be?) I must have heard “Who’s the Daddy?” a dozen times now and it still makes me cry! Becca Audra Smith: Becca asked us “to tell me something real” about being a man. She performed a piece she was unsure was ready. It was received beautifully and she also wrote a piece specifically for the Volume theme. Tony Walsh: Tony treated us to a journey through the history of Manchester music. I love “Eyes the size of Timperley” and “passion underlined” and the list of Manchester things including: “rainbow flags/gladiolis/sewn on badges”. The buzz after the event was palpable, tonnes of positive feedback. Felt like all the planning and promoting that has gone in to the tour so far has paid off a billion-fold. Loved every second of being The Quiet Compere and then  had a few days off, doing spreadsheet work. Now back to weekly Quiet Compere Admin and promotion, until I start really plugging York a fortnight before. One ticket has already sold for Birmingham on 21st March! Yey! Love breaking the 0 barrier! Come on York – you next! As you can tell, I am not a reviewer and am quickly running out of ways to put things, especially with ten performers as part of the night, maybe next time I will mention only highlights, or little bundles or poetic feel. Another thing to add to my list below –become a better reviewer. Hoping someone else may have written a review. Maybe I can ask someone to review the York one in advance, who has experience of reviewing events. Thanks for following. The Quiet Compere x Things I need to look at for next time: 1)      I will ensure I have a jpeg copy of my logo for projection onto the screen behind performers – I had sent the venue a png document, unaware they don’t have a background. 2)      I will set up a photo album on Facebook for the next set of photos from the York venue. Didn’t consider this until I had posted them all separately. 3)      I will make it clearer that the event is Arts Council funded at the beginning of each event. Only one person who filled in the questionnaire said they were unaware of this. 4)      T-Shirts – The cutter should be fixed (printing company need to get a new part) well in time for the T-shirts to be  ready for the York event. 5)      I will make sure the guest list comes home with me as this was left (safely) at the venue next time an event is ticketed by We Got Tickets. 6)      Next time an event is ticketed by We Got Tickets I need to give someone free entry and a drink to be a door-person as I will be too busy flitting, being mildly flustered, reserving seats, ensuring performers know when they are on and making changes to running order if needed. My husband (doorman) was a star.

Planning deeply underway for Quiet Compere Tour

Hello People,

Firstly, I went on the radio, which was a terrifying prospect to me. Steph Pike, however, helped me relax into it and the two hours went very fast, particularly as we had no technical assistance (and the listeners had to listen to us talking with no jingles or my chosen track to break up the chat). If you are interested my track was to be:   Art Brut’s Sound of the Summer. Mainly because it is about the small details and the everyday. It is about mix-tapes and as someone who is often surprised that we are past the year 2000 this is comforting. I read “Not Simple”  by Clare Shaw and “The Right Mask” by Brian Patten. I didn’t think choosing one of Clare’s poems to read would be so difficult. The issue was finding one that didn’t feel in some way very personal and as if it contained a lot of her. If I had read any of these pieces I would have felt I was somehow pretending to be her as I read the poem. Reading the Brain Patten poem aloud I felt as if I was wearing all the masks he suggested – totally took me over! Not knowing if anyone is listening is strange and I forgot about it after 20 minutes or so.

I am getting to know my new Android phone, which I am sure will be a huge improvement on the Blackberry. Some touch-screen issues at the moment. Have to get used to using predictive text as habit – difficult! Also I have discovered Candy Crush and am dreaming about playing Connect 4 as big as me with huge Gob-stoppers, pear drops and Everton mints! Need to ban that from bed-time as well as email and Facebook. I am making a concerted effort to work on Poetry admin only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday day-times. Otherwise, my brain never slows, stops or concentrates on anything else. Last night Phil and I watched two episodes of The Bridge just before bed and I was so jumpy I could have been a 5 year old after seeing the Dalek’s for the first time!   

In the next fortnight I intend to get hold of some Quiet Compere T-shirts, write a letter on proper old-style paper to my Auntie in Birmingham and enclose a flyer for the event there, memorise a poem or three for Manchester and plan running order and promote, promote, promote for Manchester, York and Birmingham.

That was your waffly bit, now for some pure planning.


Advances that have happened in the last fortnight with regards to The Quiet Compere Tour:

1. Posters and flyers arrived for Manchester, York and Birmingham. This was an exciting FedEx delivery from Fat Flyers. I am now planning where to put these up to have the most impact and consulting with poets in York and Birmingham about this. Hoping to meet up with some of the Birmingham Poets before the event when I get over there to flyer. I am going to Sheffield Poetry Business Writing Day on 25th January (weather permitting) and will take details of the tour there, as many poets travel from York, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds to attend this event run by Peter and Ann Sansom. I have been posting flyers on Facebook and Twitter and updating The Quiet Compere FB page regularly. In event pages I am posting links to some of the work by poets appearing at Quiet Compere events.

2. New business cards and Mini cards have arrived from Moo with The Quiet Compere logo on them. I am intending on promoting the ten poets x ten minutes format in the hope some festivals will commission me to run these type of events next year.

3. T-Shirt designs are being costed at present and are likely to be around £10 with a small logo on the front and a list of Tour Dates and large logo on the back.

4. I am presently gathering together information (confirming names are correct and ticketing details for different venues) for the events in Kendal, Liverpool and Leeds with a view to having the posters and flyers designed for these and the event pages set up some time in February.

5. I now have train tickets to York and Birmingham and have booked the Kendal ones. Exciting. I am in process of checking that the accommodation I booked through Booking.com is not in the dodgiest areas of the places I am going to. I am relying on poets who know these areas to advise me there.

6. I am also booking poets for Post Box Poets in Chorlton as this is continuing to run monthly on the first Tuesday from March. The line-up is looking great for the first few months. I am anticipating that The Quiet Compere events will alert people to the fact Post Box Poets happens and we may get a few new performers and listeners expressing an interest.  

Thanks for reading this far if you did. As you can tell, I don’t know when to stop! Sarah x