The Quiet Compere and Sunderland Libraries Festival 2017

The Peacock, 287 High Street West, SR! 3ES, City of Sunderland.

2-4pm Saturday 21st October 2017. £3 entrance.

Full Festival outline here:

(For The Quiet Compere Sunderland leg)

We champions of Pallion,
we builders of ships,
we pipework wranglers.

We sons of Hendon
and Roker daughters
caught by the nets
of a slaughter trawler

who stripped our streets,
shutdown our shops,
took food from the mouths
of the bairns of the town.

We stand sundered
but unbowed,
made from the stuff
the south cannot dream of.

The tide is ours
and it is due in.

by Harry Gallagher

Harry Gallagher has been published by The Interpreter’s House, Poets Republic, Ofipress, Rebel Poetry and many others. He performs nationwide and his new book, “Northern Lights” is out in September, from Stairwell Books.

Photo by Kev Howard

Bob Beagrie lives in Middlesbrough and is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University as well as being a co-director of Ek Zuban Press & Literature Development. He has published eight collections of poetry to date and his work has been translated into French, Estonian, Spanish, Finnish, Dutch, Danish and Urdu.

Pippa Little is Scots but settled in Northumberland. She is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. Her second full collection Twist came out in March this year from Arc.

Mandy Maxwell is a poet from Northumberland. In 2009 Mandy completed an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle Uni. Mandy has performed in venues across the UK and has been published in pamphlets, zines, anthologies and online. In 2015 Mandy began running The Stanza poetry and spoken word events to bring new and established writers with their words and voices to the stage in the North East.

Judi Sutherland is a poet who lives in Barnard Castle, County Durham. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and in a chapbook which she shares with Lancashire poet, Jim Burns; ‘Dark Matter VI’ from Black Light Engine Room Press. She is the proprietor of The Stare’s Nest poetry webzine and she is working on her first pamphlet for publication early in 2018.

The Quiet Compere

Sarah L Dixon runs regular events in Manchester/Huddersfield. She hosted a medical-themed poetry event at Cheltenham Poetry Festival in 2014. Sarah has toured as The Quiet Compere since 2014 and received Arts Council funding for 24 events in 2014 and 2015. Quiet Compere events enlist established poets and emerging voices.

The Quiet Compere introduces them with little fanfare, so the poems (and not the poet’s track record) tell you all you need to know.

The Sky is Cracked – my first pamphlet is out with Half Moon Books in October 2017

A link for the pamphlet soon, but for now some responses to the poems and the pamphlet:

Sarah Dixon writes so knowingly and with unerring lightness of touch. She knows about breaking and aching and treads nimbly between mythic, modern, and the sweet specificity of the mundane. She knows too of resilience and fragility and conjures with honesty and humour the strangeness and intensity of loss, and the wonder of finding. Best of all is when she touches upon longing, and so lightly, but, oh my, has it been touched – as we have, unforgettably.
Matt Harvey

These are beautifully crafted poems which will speak to everyone. Telling the story of the loss of love – and a return to life –  “The Sky is Cracked” is as beautiful as it is sad, as delicate as it is plainspoken. Sarah Dixon’s poetry holds the reader close, and then offers up its rich layers of meaning. Like good whisky, I could taste this short collection long after I’d read it – and I wanted more.  
Clare Shaw

This is poetry that “shimmies along the dado rail” to speak memorably of “the grumble of gravel under trainers.” Rich in imagery and with a wealth of truths, we’d be poorer without these poems.
Tony Walsh

New spoken word night at The Sair with Linfit ales (Linthwaite), Huddersfield

Join us for a new spoken word event at the legendary Sair Inn, Linthwaite, HD7 5SG. Perform your own creative writing, a favourite piece of published work, or come along simply to enjoy. Performance slots will be a maximum of 4 minutes. This is a free event, but we do ask that you buy a drink from the bar – a selection of fine cask ales, soft drinks and coffee will be available.
If you would like to book a performance slot in advance, please contact Deira.

March 14th 2017 – The Final Quiet quiet LOUD! with Mark Pajak, Becky Cherriman and Nina Lewis

Quiet quiet LOUD! The final event has three extra special guests:

Nina Lewis                        Becky Cherriman                        & Mark Pajak

with The Quiet Compere:

Mark Pajak was born in Merseyside. His work has been published in Magma, The North and The Rialto (among others), been highly commended in the Cheltenham Poetry Competition and National Poetry Competition and won first place in the 2016 Bridport Prize. He has received a Northern Writer’s Award from New Writing North and was 2016’s Apprentice Poet in Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival. His first pamphlet, Spitting Distance, was selected as a Laureate’s Choice and is published with smith|doorstop.

Becky Cherriman is a writer, workshop leader and performer based in Leeds. Published by Mslexia, New Walk, Envoi, Mother’s Milk, Bloodaxe, Well Versed and in Poets For Corbyn, she was resident poet for Morley Literature Festival in 2013 and lead artist for Altofts Festival In A Day 2016. Becky is a co-writer and performer of Haunt, a site-specific theatre commission for Imove, a project about homelessness. She is currently working on her one woman show with voices, Corseted. Her first poetry pamphlet Echolocation and first collection Empires of Clay were published in 2016 by Mother’s Milk and Cinnamon Press respectively.

Nina Lewis is widely published in poetry journals and anthologies, including Abridged, Fat Damsel, Take Ten, Hark, Here Comes Everyone (HCE), I am Not a Silent Poet, New Ulster Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets, Under the Radar and Visual Verse. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015/2016 runner-up, Nina often performs at spoken word events and literary festivals. She was commissioned to write and perform poetry on ‘ecology and the city’ at the Birmingham Literature Festival in 2014. Her haiku have appeared in an art installation at the Midlands Art Centre, on the Poetry Fence at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm and in Municipal Bank Vaults for an International Dance Festival. Nina’s work also formed part of the poetry trail for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014. Fragile Houses, published by V. Press autumn 2016, is her first pamphlet.

3 minute spots available (10) at this final one as I expect there might be quite a lot of interest and want to get as many people on as possible. Please contact me to reserve one. First come first served basis.

Open mic

David Byrne
John Calvert
Sarah-Clare Conlon
Christopher Bainbridge
Ken Evans
Elise Hadgraft
Martin Jones
Cheryl Pearson

£3 OTD to be split between the poets and organiser in an equal share.

Wolverhampton Blog or the first WOLF, Black Country instruments and echoes


On arrival in Wolverhampton I was directed to a pub where I could have a pint at eat my own food. Genius. I had made a big chicken pasta salad for train but had felt too early to eat it. Took my cheap Tupperware into the Lych Gate Tavern.

I went to The Slade Rooms to see Bob Beagrie and his team perform Leasungspell.

I loved it. They were all so accomplished and the event was like nothing I have ever seen before. Check Bob and Leasungspell  out further here:

I then sneaked my way into the dressing room to tell Jonn Penney I wished I could stay but was hosting at another venue. The tracks of my being fourteen played in the background as I grudgingly packed my stuff away. I am going to send him a beer mat with my A Bit Like Falling in Love poem.


Wolverhampton Art Gallery:


The staff were helpful and the venue was beautiful both visually and acoustically with an arched windowed high roof. There was plenty of space for books to be spread out and the space was almost full by the time we launched the event. My only complaint would be that we were not given advanced warning that the bar would be closed before half time break and I think a large number of the audience would have bought more beverages at the beginning had they known that.


Polly Stretton

I loved the fact Polly and Heather brought instruments along with them. The acoustics of the room were stunning. Lines that stood out were ‘Her body is an echo box. She does not own defeat.’ Loved the description of the mother ‘lips tight at some imagined slight’ and tree-climbing was ‘strictly forbidden in her straight back.’


Holly Magill

Holly asked us Do you think David Bowie would like my trousers?. Then she introduced a contrast at the food-bank where ‘the edge of the desk bites hard into my soft belly.’  No link available.

Nina Lewis

Nina posted a detailed blog within twelve hours of the event including photos.  Wow! The idea of going away together to say Goodbye when a relationship ends and when ‘the Lake evaporated, just like us.’ Arthur Rackham. I just rediscovered an Oliver Twist book last week with his plates in and love our family edition of Christmas Carol with his illustrations in it, so particularly enjoyed this one for personal reason too. ‘The King of mischief wears no hat as they beat their feet against ground, change the earth’s vibrations.’

Leanne Bridgewater

Leanne handed out fruit to anyone who had heard of Veganuary. The second part of Leanne’s set was observations of a cyclist such as the woman here: ‘she always waits on the same bench, in the same coat the colour of beetroot.’ and ‘walk tremendously in the tracks of the bracken.’ Both these lines are from here debut poetry collection a 200+ page epic poem on cycling around Coventry, Confessions of a Cyclist.

Tom McColl

Tom talks of resignation as ‘holding the clock’s hour hand in my fist like a knife.’ and told us a story about Uncle Phil ‘he wasn’t really my uncle, but then he wasn’t really a dartboard either.’ And then his poem The Evil Eye: ‘You wouldn’t expect a key/to leave its shadow behind/when picked up off a table/ but that is happening now to you online.’ Find the entire poem The Evil Eye here:  Find Tom’s Website here:

Heather Wastie

Heather tells us she ‘was soap sud soup with beer bottle croutons’ and plays the accordion song Vacuum cleaner tuner as she attempts to tune the gallery carpet while you were there, as she says, this ‘is not a common art’.

Gerry Potter

Gerry’s Bling Trilogy is always a pleasure. From Tiffany Bling ‘boys screaming and falling apart. Doesn’t know much about art, but knows she doesn’t like it.’ and Jimmy Bling ‘ Pure as lust and distant as love,. Gloves off and furious.’ Grandma Bling ‘everyone shady is laughing, everyone’s baby is laughing. And she prays her lungs can make it.’

Jess May Davies

Jess, so many of her lines grab me so I will just share a few from Sleepless in Newcastle: ‘the fragile faces of fear covered for just a few seconds longer’ ‘our bodies stop screaming for the touch of something comforting.’ And from Fifteen – ‘already able to contain the history of earth in his guts.’ ‘consumed the world and pumped out the shame.’

Kathy Gee

Both the lines that held me most strongly in Kathy’s work were from here first collection, Book of Bones: ‘Visit me on Mondays, hear my echo/write to me from time to time.’  ‘There must be blood in a house this old’. ‘no sign recalls the distant killing/ brought to her front door/ by men in hats.’

Steve Pottinger

In The Black Country Resistance poem ‘the dead, dragging hours are forgotten.’ and ‘feasts and grows fat, as best they can, on the memory and the taste of the promise of dreams.’ And from his new poem that had a title so long he couldn’t remember it:   ‘looks the wrong way at the right moment.’ And drunk people are described as ‘spectacularly spangled.’


I owe the crowd-funders another massive Thanks for making this event happen and those who took part in throwing words at me for the poem-a-thons when Wolverhampton art Gallery lost the funds ear-marked to pay performers fees for Wolverhampton Quiet Compere.


I shared an ale with Gerry and Emma at The Posada after the event. It is always good to have poets to share the post gig buzz with, especially when I returned home and it took me an hour to remove my second contact lens. I could watch cross-eyed as Facebook continued the giddy buzz as performers from the event sent each other love and compliments on sets and made new friends.

On the Saturday morning I asked directions to ‘Wightwick Gardens’ and the locals looked amused – I had pronounced it whitewick. After I read through a leaflet about the property I realised the knowing look was “Ah! Not a local!” humouring. The place was ‘Wittick Manor’. I met the same lady who had given me directions on a bus back in to town two hours later and smile and said ‘I know how to pronounce it now.’ So many friendly, chatty people on the buses.

Other highlights of the festival.

Meeting Emma Wright of Emma Press.

Win Saha and Bert Flitcroft – poetry with tea and cake.

R.M. Francis, Paul McDonald, Louise Palfreyman and Kerry Hadley-Pryce discussion about uncanny and murky underbelly of the Black Country.

Black Country Voices: The Nailmaker’s Daughters and Dave Reeves and his harmonica – here the performers were all a joy as was the venue.

Before I left on Sunday morning I was treated to Seven Wonders by Laura Liptrot, a retelling on Henry VIII and his six wives with props from the modern world and humour. A most enjoyable end to the weekend. I felt all the events I went to were a huge success and wish the WOLF luck in accessing funding to ensure an event happens in 2018.

The Quiet Compere at Wolverhampton Original Literature Festival – Friday 27th January 2017

Tickets £4 or £3 concs – Available from Wolverhampton Art Gallery or through link here:
Quiet Compere events enlist great, established poets and emerging voices. The Quiet Compere introduces them with little fanfare so the poems (and not the poet’s track record) tell you all you need  to know. Massive thanks are due to the crowd-funders from late 2015. The events at the Whitworth, Manchester, Hebden Bridge and Swindon would not have happened in 2016 without your support. This event was supposed to be 2016 too, but slipped by a month because teaming with the festival seemed a good move. 

quiet-compere  Quiet Compere images by Mark Farley

The Quiet Compere format invites ten poets to read for ten minutes each, mixing page and performance, experimental and nature, quiet emotional and flat-out arms-wide passion.
Sarah L Dixon tours as The Quiet Compere. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, The Lake and Domestic Cherry among others. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being by water and adventures with her six-year-old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4!
Leanne Bridgewater


This Midlands-based woman swoops between writing and drawing. Most days these two things roll into one and become asemic. Performances have involved 8ft obelisks being smashed with a hammer, conversations with pineapples, hairdryer ensembles, shallow-use of punning with a fried meal of tongue-twisting-tomato dipped in hummus and gobbled down like nobody’s business! Say what? She is currently finishing making a colouring book on jungle-pareidolia (aka ‘seeing faces in patterns). Read “Confessions of a Cyclist”, her epic poem on cycling, published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press.
Parts of this book were exhibited in lights at Blackpool Illuminations in 2015. This year, she plans to finish off two books and for winter, hibernate in bed with a doodle-pad and cake. When she is not doing all of this you can find her rummaging about in fields surveying wildlife, running creative workshops and working in libraries.
Jess May Davies
A Redditch based poet, Jess May Davies is a workshop facilitator, artist and host. She is currently a member of ‘Bellows’, a young poets collective supported by ‘Apples and Snakes’ and ‘Beatfreeks’. As a facilitator she has recently worked with ‘Pangaea Poetry’ and University of Warwick, as well as demonstrated the use of creative writing during CPD courses for Psychotherapists and Counsellors. She has performed at: ‘Morton Stanley Festival’ (Redditch, 2015), ‘Too Deep for a Monday’ (Nottingham, 2015), ‘Silent Word Up’ (Birmingham, 2015) and ‘Howl’ (Birmingham, 2014).
Kathy Gee
Kathy Gee grew up in York with a family of historians and archaeologists and decided that museums were warmer than holes in the ground. Widely published in print and online poetry journals and anthologies, Kathy is growing more and more interested in collaborative projects. She has organised a poetry trail at Avoncroft Museum of Buildings and is currently working with a composer of contemporary classical music on a ‘Suite for a fallen soldier’. Book of Bones is her first collection.
Nina Lewis
nina-lewis-taken-by-reg-nichols3-1  Photography by Reg Nichols

Nina Lewis is widely published in poetry journals and anthologies, including Abridged, Fat Damsel, Take Ten, Hark, Here Comes Everyone (HCE), I am Not a Silent Poet, New Ulster Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets, Under the Radar and Visual Verse. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015/2016 runner-up, Nina often performs at spoken word events and literary festivals. She was commissioned to write and perform poetry on ‘ecology and the city’ at the Birmingham Literature Festival in 2014. Her haiku have appeared in an art installation at the Midlands Art Centre, on the Poetry Fence at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm and in Municipal Bank Vaults for an International Dance Festival. Nina’s work also formed part of the poetry trail for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014. Fragile Houses, published by V. Press autumn 2016, is her first pamphlet.
Holly Magill
Holly Magill is from Worcestershire. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including Lunar Poetry, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Morning Star and The Emma Press anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse. She prefers cats and strong tea to most things.
Bobby Parker
Bobby Parker’s writing has appeared in a wide range of magazines in print and online. In 2015 he was awarded a grant from the Society of Authors. His controversial poem Thank You for Swallowing was included in the poetry anthology Best British Poetry 2015 (Salt). Bobby’s debut poetry collection Blue Movie is available now from Nine Arches Press.
Gerry Potter
Gerry Potter is currently touring his new book, he describes this one as his genre defying opus, the fifth of hopefully ten volumes of autobiographical theatre verse, then he promises never to write again. The Chronicles of Folly Butler is the follow up to the successful Fifty, The Men Pomes, Planet Middle Age and Planet Young. A favourite son of both Manchester and his home town Liverpool Gerry has also been wowing audiences nationally with his own unique brand of domestic-fantastic free verse. Gerry has a reputation for putting his Scouse voice on the line a soaring sing-song accent, strong on poetry and strong on the causes of poetry. In fact his poem My Scouse Voice and others will be reinterpreted by none other than Fennella Fielding at this year Homotopia festival in Liverpool. Creator and destroyer of the infamous gingham diva Chloe Poems. Chloe was a cabaret and literary stalwart and raver some years ago on the London and national scene. I think it’s safe to say she caused quite a stir. Gerry’s new work is very different to his alter ego though no less passionate. Performance meets theatre, meets poetry and rhythm, creating a blistering sound-scape of experience and entertainment. Gerry is also an accomplished actor play write and workshop leader.
Steve Pottinger
Steve Pottinger: I’m a poet. A performance poet who’s passionate about the power of poetry to create connections between people. I’m also good at what I do, which is engaging with an audience, making them laugh and think and decide that – while they may not have given two hoots about poetry before – it’s actually something they can enjoy. Over the summer, my poem ‘Stabberjocky’ has proved extremely popular.
Polly Stretton
Polly Stretton follows many writerly pursuits in her hometown of Worcester. Her poetry has been displayed at Croome Court and in many anthologies. She’s a coordinator and judge of various writing competitions and works with Black Pear Press, Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, and OU Poetry Society. Polly’s writing includes a collection of poetry, a series of poems about the tragic young poet Thomas Chatterton, and a pamphlet of children’s poetry. She’ll go into ecstasies about her puppy: Mabel.
Heather Wastie
Poet/musician Heather Wastie was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster in 2013 and Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16. She has published four illustrated collections. Recent commissions include The Canal and River Trust, the Rugby World Cup and the BBC Local Poets project for National Poetry Day 2016.

Ira Lightman and Angela Topping Book Launch at Nexus Art Cafe, Manchester – Friday 9th December 2016

Ira Lightman


Ira has made public art throughout the North East and also in the West Midlands and the South West. He made a documentary on Ezra Pound for Radio 4 last year, still on iPlayer. He is a regular on Radio 3’s The Verb and has been profiled on Channel 4. A mathematician by training, he is very interested in pattern and form, making poetry visually and with pure sound; he believes anyone can make poetry, as long as they stop worrying that it has to be *written*. He is a professional storyteller. He proofreads for academic journals for a living, and has had many residencies in schools. He won the Journal Arts Council Award for “innovative new ways of making art in communities” for his project., The Spennymoor Letters. He has lived in the North East since 2000. His new chapbook is called “Goose”. He has been described by George Szirtes as “Harpo Marx meets Rilke” ( /10152559224041534)

Angela Topping


Angela Topping has published six solo poetry collections, Dandelions for Mothers’ Day (1988, 1989), The Fiddle (1999), The Way We Came (2007), The New Generation (Salt 2010), I Sing of Bricks (Salt 2011) and Paper Patterns (Lapwing 2012).Topping was born in Widnes, Cheshire, to working class parents and educated in Liverpool at Broughton Hall Grammar School for Girls. After graduating from the University of Liverpool with a degree in English and Classical Civilization she went on to study for a postgraduate degree in Victorian Studies. Although writing from a young age (she first published poetry at the age of nineteen in Arts Alive Merseyside) Topping married and raised two daughters while writing her first two collections and editing two poetry anthologies, the first a collection of Christians writing and the second a festschrift for the Liverpool-based poet Matt Simpson, featuring works by U.A. Fanthorpe, Anne Stevenson, Roger McGough and Kenneth Muir. The friendship of Matt Simpson was a formative influence on Topping’s work and continued until his death in 2009.After working in education for twenty years, most notably at Upton Hall School FCJ, Topping now concentrates full-time on writing and has been the author of several critical works for Greenwich Exchange.In 2010, Topping teamed up with textile artist Maria Walker. Together they produced a joint exhibition of work based on The Lightfoot Letters, which were family epistles from 1923, which bizarrely had been written by Angela’s father’s family and purchased by Maria from an antique shop several years before she met Angela. The exhibition was first staged at The Brindley in 2011 and there are plans to hold further exhibitions in 2012 and 2013.Topping has also been in a number of notable anthologies, such as Split Screen, edited by Andy Jackson and published by Red Squirrel (2012) and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh (Salt 2009) edited by Rupert Loydell. One of her poems appeared on National Poetry Day poem cards in 2012. Her children’s poems have been included in over 50 anthologies and in 2011, she was the only poet to be highly commended in the Cheshire High Sherriff’s Prize for Children’s Literature. Her poems have been set for A level study.
Angela launches THE FIVE PETALS OF ELDERFLOWER (Red Squirrel Press).

Sarah L Dixon

Photo: by Mark Farley

Sarah L Dixon tours as The Quiet Compere and has obtained Arts Council funding for this project. The 2016 project was crowd-funded, partly through poemathons which involved writing 100 poems in 25 hours.

Sarah has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, The Lake and Obsessed with Pipework among others. She recently had a poem printed ona beermat by Otley Word Feast press. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being by water and adventures with her six-year-old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4!

Venue: Nexus Art Cafe, 2 Dale Street, Manchester

Tickets £3 here:

Open mic section available.

Books for sale.