Showcase poets – Nina Lewis, Kathryn Millington, Ben Willems, Sarah L Dixon and Trystan Lewis.
Nina Lewis is based in the Midlands. She has two pamphlets Fragile Houses (2016) and Patience (2019) published by V. Press. She was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017-2018. Nina performs at events and festivals across the UK and was an International Guest Poet at Perth Poetry Festival in 2018. She was a virtual poet in residence for Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2020, produced ten animations for Poetry Renewed with Elephant’s Footprint and worked with CoLAB on a Connect Dudley Lockdown Project. She facilitates transatlantic poetry projects and is one of the Directors of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe.
Kathryn ‘Millie ’Millington is a poet, performer and activist from Sheffield. She runs the poetry charity ‘Nine Lives Poetry’, bringing some of the UK’s best poets to a Sheffield audience and creating a stage for emerging local poets. Millie’s poetry tells us a story of grief as a result of involuntary childlessness. It takes us on a journey “…into a world that feels niche, but is anything but…” (Wendy Pratt), to a place of acceptance of a future without children and ultimately a creative and fulfilling life. “You will know someone like me. We are everywhere: at your workplace, within your family, and your friendship groups. It’s such a lonely place. I want to inhabit that place and be that voice, to show that we can create.” Millie has shared the stage with Helen Mort, Christopher Lanyon, Toria Garbutt and Leyla Josephine. Her poem ‘Imprint’ was longlisted for the Bridport Prize. Her debut Pamphlet ‘Imprint’ was published by Fawn Press in May 2023.
Ben Willems is a poet based in Manchester, writing beat-inspired poetry often on political themes. He has been published most recently in the anthology We’re All In It Together: Poems for a Disunited Kingdom, and the photography collection The People’s Republic of Mancunia by Rik Jundi. His long awaited collection of poems on Greater Manchester’s railway stations has unfortunately been delayed again and is now expected to be completed some time in 2037
Trystan, best known for being one of the leading banjo players in the Clougha Mountain Bluegrass Band, has turned to poetry following the startling lack of success of his remarkable first novel. He can be heard regularly at open mics from Kendal to Charlton -cum-Hardy or, even more regularly, mumbling to himself in the hills of North Lancashire and Cumbria.
SARAH L DIXON (The Quiet Compere)
Sarah L Dixon’s inspiration comes from many places, including pubs, movement (dancing, walking, swimming), and adventures with her twelve-year-old, Frank. Sarah’s most recent love affair is with Morecambe Bay. http://thequietcompere.co.uk/
Belated blog due to access issues to my website – Events were 1st-4th June 2023
Workshop – games and play-themed went well.
Lots of random photos from the 3 days I spent at the festival below:
Quiet Compere Showcase – Rochester Library
A brilliant afternoon with 50% guests I had not before and I am hopeful all our poetry paths cross again soon. A few lines I enjoyed from each of the poems shared below. A big thanks to Richard Cooper for sharing Rosemary McLeish poems.
I loved Richard’s freshly printed t-shirt. The poem that struck me most was the Janet and John one. The way it played with the structure and kept the simplicity but ramped up the darkness and rebellion. This seemed very Rosemary from what I know of her.
Lines here that particularly leapt out at me were: ‘all the headstones looked drunk or broken like closing time.’ And from Just Walking: ‘I am not actually going anywhere. I am just wearing out my shoes.’
Wow! Description of pub as ‘an enclosure for the supposedly strong.’ I have also made a note that looks like ‘inebriated by beckoning time’ and Jon has not let me know if this as right or not so I will leave this as the quote 🙂
I enjoyed the way Sarah’s set took us on a journey from Rochester to Ramsgate. I enjoyed the visual impact of ‘the flat of palm on cold’ touching the stone of the cathedral and ‘daylight putting itself away’.
Selection of photos of showcase performers and the open mic:
Thanks so much to Sam, Barry, Medway River Lit funders and all volunteers (plus a big thanks to Anne-Marie Jordan).
We did it!! And I made it to everyone and thoroughly enjoyed splitting some of the responsibility and tasks with my co-hosts and Nina, Super online event Tech. Co-hosts were sorted so everything could go ahead if either of us went down with COVID but we were very lucky and I caught it in a break from tour time in mid July and we made all nine dates with full complement of co-hosts too.
Co-Host Emma Purshouse
I love Emma’s Black Country words. I definitely use some of them, ‘mithering’ and ‘firtle’ and I wonder if these were passed down by my mum’s family. The rhymes in Art school Annual picnic are inspired and this piece is brilliantly crafted. ’Salavador Dali/Harley’ and ‘Van Eyck/on a borrowed bike’. Emma finished her set with a walrus singing song which made everyone rush off to listen to singing walruses in the break 😊
Mark’s delivery was just the right side of languorous which had us waiting for what was next… The poems were sensual with exquisite detail, holding us in the moment of the poem. The keying of a car, an action that could not be taken back ‘so he applies the key-tip until the metal concedes a slow dimple’. And in the nettle-pit alone and ‘the only sound was the slow laugh of a crowd and wind like applause through ash trees’.
Jennifer A. McGowan
Oh! Shrapnel was such a fitting poem for Remembrance weekend. Measured and personal. And in Jennifer’s love poem, The Boy who went back to Singapore ‘we’d both slept through, waking with imprints of the other on our faces.’ Such variety here in a short set.
The incantation of ‘Kallax, Klept, Empak, Ransire, Finskuron’ made me smile. I loved The Beekeeper’s wife and am hoping it will be in the Wordsmithery Bee Anthology. After following a lot of Mark’s recent American adventures, I enjoyed ‘New York state of mind’.
I was so glad George could make it to the event. His univocal poem was beautifully-formed. His rhythm, repetition and delivery style made for an engaging and lively set. I especially enjoyed The Imp of Distraction and The Yarn Spinner. My favourite stanza is:
‘He used to work for MI5, but he keeps that on the low
He used to be a roadie, went on tour with Status Quo
He used to be a boxer, trained in the States with Smokin’ Joe
Plus, he played all the instruments on Enya’s Orinoco Flow
He’s the Yarn-Spinner, you know him’
One of the massive bonuses of hosting online events is the chance to share poems like Misophonia on the page. The way it is chaotic and then pulled tightly back by the repeated mantra ‘make manifest’ and with lines like
‘you can corn dolly their hearts,
twists like straw,
set intentions like love potions.’
Alex the mascot having fun loitering about the mic and drinking ale.
There was definitely a witchy and magical theme running throughout the event and after a short break I read a few poems and we continued with Helen Ivory’s witches:
Oh yes! I loved the fact Helen shared so many of her new witch poems with us. Th incantatory nature of her poetry was compelling. Especially in lines like ‘you cannot sing grass sweet’ and ‘a quiet pandemonium emanated from the apple.’ I enjoyed the brevity and precision of Scry and can’t wait for the new book.
I was hoping to see Linda at a real-life gig but when she couldn’t make it I was delighted she agreed to perform at one of the online events instead. Linda’s attention to detail is exemplary, particularly in the Ancoats poem. My Dad is from Ancoats and I could just visualise everything. I loved the Philomel poem stuffed full of bird sounds too.
Yes! A set by Penny after seeing the process of her poems being crafted in workshops so many times (Penny has become an online friend over lockdown). And more witchiness and fairy tale from Penny including the line ‘my lying tongue is tart with poisoned apple craving.’ And ‘Inside me, moor fires burn brighter than ever.’ And this block of text from Uncharted Waters is glorious:
a truth which could not be stopped
nor changed, nor denied.
He left behind in the untidy cabin
enough of both the truth and lies
to splice his tale together.
Jack’s loss haiku was beautiful and haunting and I loved the idea of ‘Hallmark-induced sunstroke’. I felt like that in stuffy, heated charity shops when I was younger. Stonewall was necessary and well-crafted piece., especially this section:
‘Larry Grayson, shut that door!
And to top it off,
thanks to Alan Turing
we even won the fucking war.’
I enjoyed the playfulness as family/cultural history embedded in If Shakespeare was Jamaican. and I love the line ‘I still like listening to song in a language I don’t know’. I listened to some Ukrainan song and Ukranian poetry with and without translation at an event recently and will look out for more bilingual and multilingual events in future.
One of the massive advantages of hosting an online gig now is that I can bring all the people I have discovered the work of or learnt and heard more readings by in lockdown could all be brought together and make more connections with each other.
Thanks to all for making the tour possible – venues, poets, co-hosts and supporters and ACE and of course audiences.
Still to come this year
Readaround Saturday 10th December 5-630pm FREE event on Zoom to make up for missing open mic sections online (as events would have run too long with open mic section).
Group poem made up from lots of single words audience members have given me – I will perform this on Facebook but I have to write to first!
Lots of final report writing.
Coming in 2023
The Quiet Compere will be hosting events at River Lit in June 2023 and Morecambe Poetry Festival in September 2023. Watch this space!
6 random favourite photos of the tour (they’d be different if I chose them again tomorrow)
Attending Quiet Compere Tour events is a truly joyous and uplifting experience. The wonderfully refreshing format of the events allows attendees and contributors alike to enjoy a uniquely varied, engaging thought-provoking and entertaining blend of poets and performers from across the country. It shines a spotlight on everything that makes the spoken word scene so spellbinding. The fact that the Quiet Compere Tour also included several online dates was very positive and profoundly appreciated as those virtual tour stops made these already refreshingly diverse events even more inclusive by giving those of us with disabilities, medical vulnerabilities, health and/or mobility issues the opportunity to access and enjoy a top-quality live show. As a full-time wheelchair-user with Cerebral Palsy, I know first-hand how sadly rare fully accessible and inclusive arts events can be. The Quiet Compere is working hard to change that by embracing technology to bring people of all backgrounds and abilities together to share our love of poetry. Many more event organisers could learn from the Quiet Compere’s example and leave the virtual door open so that people with disabilities can relish new and exciting arts events in a medically safe and powerfully inclusive way. Bravo Quiet Compere, long may your shows continue to enthral and inspire!
A brilliant mix of poets of all experiences. Sarah’s informal approach is very welcoming. We had a chat afterwards too, which included the audience. A very enjoyable evening.
From Caleb’s book All the cancelled parties my favourites in it were Peacebuilding, Ridgeway, What we animals do and Almanac of Lunar Songs. I didn’t know there were so many types of moon.
And from The Estuary and egret poem. I loved ‘Estuary dressed in its most imposing power-suit grey with pinstripe waves.’ And ‘the moral of this story is – is – somewhere, somewhere in the gap between Egret and Estuary.’
‘Gritted teeth of the National Gallery’ and ‘Please do not touch the walrus or sit on the iceberg‘ were striking images.
Open mic and a bit of me
Caleb then brilliantly hosted the open mic section and gave a very brief and impressive account of all the places we had been taken to, all the moments we had visited and the people we had been introduced to through the pieces shared.
I then shared a poem about my body as a 90s indie moshpit and one about my son asking if we were poor and the reasons why.
Ben made me really want to visit The Argus Fish bar after Ben’s description of every tiny detail of their food. I almost clapped for joy when he described his sloth encounter with a ragged set of bagpipes. And the car gulped greedily at the asphalt as Ben took us on a driving lesson.
Oh! Helen brought us guttural sounds deep, old as Eve in birth poems, a charcoal foundling on a doorstep and winters too cold for terry nappies to dry which took us a very exacting moment of time.
In Rachael’s set there was a theme of brightness, music and character. Continuing the pregnancy theme lubdub of her existence. Rachael later takes us a childhood friend’s funeral where all the leather guys wept into lace.
Pey weaved worlds for us with the high call of cicadas rising to the sky. And in Smiling at communist China ‘smile in rebellion/in openness/in risk/in red silk/honeyed peanuts are required for hostesses.’
The alliterative play in one piece is glorious ‘sighs of silt slid from seams.’ Then Elizabeth pulls us close with ‘my sand tried to keep your small darkness.’ It felt like she was talking to us all individually, somehow as she invites us to ‘join her at the white-barked tree.’
Edson was honest ‘the garden is not rewilding. I am just idle.’ And I love the visual impact of ‘words often eat themselves.’
There was a brilliant after party that was full of poetry warmth despite it being held outside to keep any lurgy transference at bay. It was such a joy to extend the event further into the evening and catch up with many friends I had not seen for a long time and make some new friends too. You will have to take my word for the after-party brilliance as any photos taken were too blurry, chopped people off them or were too dark taken outside and at arm’s length.
The final event of the tour is online on November 12th.
Well organised event with warm and welcoming hosts.
Great to have a variety of poetry voice, page, spoken word, storytellers and free style.
Themes were varied; nature, journey, family, mothers, place. Something for everyone.
The Quiet Compere is a great concept for a touring poetry show providing a platform local poets.
A lovely night catching up with old friends and making new acquaintances.
A terrific range of voices and experiences from both the featured poets and the open mic performers.
Great venue, brilliantly organised by Sarah and Caleb.
(SAVE THE DATE – please note this is incomplete – I will be adding more photos and bios and ticket links in the next few days – I have a horrible cold/cough/flu thing – LFTs say not COVID… but little sleep and feeling rough – only three weeks to go though so I wanted to make at least this part semi-live. Sarah x)
Co-host Emma Purshouse
Emma Purshouse was the first poet laureate for the City of Wolverhampton. She’s a poetry slam champion and performs at spoken word nights and festivals across the UK. Appearances include, The Cheltenham Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, Latitude, and Womad. She has been a support act for John Hegley, Holly McNish and Carol Ann Duffy.
In 2017 Emma won the ‘Making Waves’ international spoken word competition – judged by Luke Wright. Her children’s collection ‘I Once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat’ (Fair Acre Press) won the poetry section of the Rubery Book award in 2016. Her collection ‘Close’ (Offa’s Press) was shortlisted for the same award in 2018.
Her debut novel ‘Dogged’ is published by Ignite Books. Emma’s poem ‘Catherine Eddowes Tin Box as a Key Witness’ came 3rd in the National Poetry Competition in 2021.
Her latest collection ‘It’s Honorary, Bab’ is available from Offa’s Press.
“A whirlwind of wit and humour” – Write Out Loud.
George Bastow is a poet, writer, blogger and hat connoisseur from North Warwickshire who just happens to be a full-time wheelchair-user with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. He has written for various online and print publications and regularly performs poetry at spoken word nights including Rebel Riot and Poets, Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists’ Yes we cant and PASTA events. George sits on Writing West Midlands’ Board of Trustees and facilitates creative writing workshops for young people as part of Spark Young Writers’ Programmes.
Gracey-Bee is a performance poet, spoken word artist, storyteller, author, creative workshop and book club facilitator and events host and organiser. She’s worked with Wolverhampton Libraries and Literature Festival, in various schools in Birmingham, headlined events such as City Voices, Country Voices, Virtual voices and Island Fusion (at The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Festival). She’s been featured on Black Country Radio Extra and Radio Brum Poets and was a finalist at the Ledbury Literature Festival Poetry Slam. A selection of her work was published by Offa’s Press in the New Voices Anthology. She sometimes reads in her distinctive patois dialect.
Penny Blackburn’s poetry has been published by, among others, Poetry Society News, Lighthouse, Dreamcatcher and Riggwelter and she was recently awarded second place in the Ver Poetry Competition 2022. Her pamphlet “A Taste for Bread” was published by Wild Pressed Books in 2021 and she anticipates the release of her first collection with Yaffle Press soon. Penny also runs a local poetry group and spoken word evening. She is on Twitter and Facebook as @penbee8 Photo to follow?
Mark Connors is a poet, novelist and creative writing facilitator from Leeds, UK. His debut poetry pamphlet, Life is a Long Song was published by OWF Press in 2015. His first full length collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken was published by Stairwell Books in 2017. His second poetry collection, Optics, was published in 2019. His third collection, After, was published in 2021. He is currently at work on MMXXII, a hybrid book containing poetry, fiction, memoir and travel writing. Mark is a co-founder and a managing editor of YAFFLE PRESS. www.markconnors.co.uk
Linda Goulden lives between a canal and a river at the edge of the Dark Peak where she writes poems and occasional flash fiction. She is published in magazines and anthologies and has won prizes from Nottingham Poetry and Manchester’s Poets and Players. Her pamphlet ‘Speaking parts’ was published in 2019 by Half Moon Books and in 2021 she published ‘…where dreams may roam…’ (10 art-poem cards) in collaboration with Ingrid Katarina Karlsson. Her words (and singing voice) feature in the soundtrack for The Necklace of Stars exhibition, currently in Buxton Art Gallery and in the repertoire of Whaley Bridge Choir.
Helen Ivory is a poet and visual artist. Her fifth Bloodaxe collection is The Anatomical Venus(2019). She edits the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears and teaches creative writing online for the University of East Anglia/National Centre for Writing. A book of mixed media poems Hear What the Moon Told Me is published by KFS, and chapbook Maps of the Abandoned City by SurVision. She has work translated into Polish, Ukrainian and Spanish as part of the Versopolis project. Her New and Selected will appear from MadHat (US) next spring. She is currently working on her next collection for Bloodaxe How to Construct a Witch.
Elizabeth McGeown is a Pushcart-nominated poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is published in journals including Banshee, Poetry Wales and Under the Radar. She is the current UK Slam Champion, the highest-ranking woman in the Paris 2022 World Cup of Slam finals, was longlisted in the Saboteur Awards 2022 for ‘Best Spoken Word Performer’ and represented Northern Ireland in the Hammer & Tongue UK Slam Championships 2019 and 2021. Her poetry collection ‘Cockroach’ was published by Verve Poetry Press in summer 2022 and, along with the accompanying stage show, was written with funding from Arts Council Northern Ireland.
Jennifer A. McGowan earned her PhD from the University of Wales. Her new collection, How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager) has just been published by Arachne Press. Copies are available from her. (Her previous collection, Still Lives with Apocalypse, won the Prole pamphlet competition in 2020.)
Jack McLean is a Stand-up Comedian from Hull, now living in Leeds. In 2022 he won the inaugural Bask in Laughter Competition before being shortlisted for the BBC New Comedy Awards 2022 Showcase.
Prior to the pandemic and performing stand-up, Jack was a regular in the West Yorkshire poetry scene and is still an avid poetry reader. He was selected in the 2020 Leeds Literature Festival Anthology; ‘And the Stones Fell Open’. (photo to follow)
Mark Pajak has written for The BBC, The Guardian, The London Review of Books, Poetry London, The North, The Rialto and Magma. His work has been three times included in the National Poetry Competition’s winners list, awarded first place in The Bridport Prize and has also received a Northern Writers’ Award, an Eric Gregory Award and an UNESCO international writing residency. His pamphlet, Spitting Distance (Smith|Doorstop), was selected by Carol Ann Duffy as a Laureate’s Choice. His first full length collection, Slide (Cape), is shortlisted for the 2022 T. S. Eliot Prize.
So, this is my first local gig since moving to this county, so I felt some pressure to get a good turnout and atmosphere. I ate a Bao bun for the first time in The River Head before heading over to The Mechanics to check the venue was set up.
Rose Condo, my co-host for the evening, started the event with a poem which was about eh secret thoughts of pens. And then read a poem where we blew bubbles when we heard a word repeated. Both the bubbles and Rose were very fun to photograph.
After Rose followed a varied and enthusiastic bunch of open miccers.
Sadly, one of the showcase poets pulled out a few days before. I managed to replace her and then the replacement poet contacted with lost voice and full of a cold. I made the decision instead of booking someone at the last minute who would not have time to prepare, the fee for the missing poet would go back into the tour costs as online audiences are really low now and audience numbers in real life at some events have been lower than I guessed.
Wow! The handmade guitar poem. A ‘flame that flickers in the wood’ and it ‘has a voice but can never sing alone.’ And Tim writes well about what it is like to live/be in the valley, ‘I rushed laughing through their valleys, like a stream.’
Barry Bacteria and Victor Virus were brilliantly inhabited and the wordplay and rhyme in these were equally fun and dark. ‘Cure, kill and conquer, alter the sensation of taste.’ And ‘vindictive, virulent virtuoso.’ And, wisdom in the saying I had not heard before: ‘Never roll a barrel down a two-sided hill.’
Jack performed an exquisite piece about carrying a piece of lapis lazuli up a hill ‘a block of blue makes the sky look less like sky.’ And he talked of ‘the peace of mind that comes from painting on window frames.’
Anna’s self-love poems were beautiful and affirming. Self-love is ‘a lifeline when you haven’t got a friend.’ And I was so sad for the ‘baby tomato crying when he loses his Mum at the fruit and veg stall.’
I think we all know Joe’s ‘deluded busker’, and if we don’t, it may just be us:
20% Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
And from ‘Hibernation’:
“It was a blizzard year
that brought down houses,
bit through brick and bone,”
made me think of the three Beast from the Easts we have had since moving over The Pennines.
And an after party!
One of the best things about a local gig, apart from going back to you own bed on the last bus, is the fact you can have an after party 😊 I met Joe’s parents who I had met dozens of times online but never in real life.
Caleb Parkin, Bristol City Poet 2020 – 22, has poems in The Guardian,The Rialto, The Poetry Review and was guest poet on BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please. He won second prize in the National Poetry Competition 2016, Winchester Poetry Prize 2017 and other shortlists. He tutors for Poetry Society, Poetry School, Cheltenham Festivals, First Story, Arvon and holds an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP). Publications: Wasted Rainbow (tall-lighthouse, February 2021), This Fruiting Body (Nine Arches Press, October 2021). In October 2022, he’ll publish ‘The Coin’ (Broken Sleep Books) and his collected City Poet work, ‘All the cancelled parties’.
Showcase poet photos and bios
Ben Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, with his wife, two children and an over-excited border terrier. Hi-Viz, published by Yaffle Press in November 2021, is his third collection following We Are All Lucky (Indigo Dreams, 2018) and Communing (Indigo Dreams, 2016). Ben blogs at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com and edits Black Nore Review.
Dr Edson Burton is a writer, historian, programme-curator and performer based in Bristol. His academic specialisms include: Bristol and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Black History in the USA, Cultural continuities between Africa & the New World. He has been a consultant and coordinator for a range of HLF and Arts Council history projects in Bristol including most recently a study of Bristol’s Old Market ward Vice & Virtue (2014).
Edson has maintained a parallel career as a poet (Seasoned 2008) and writer for theatre and radio. His Radio dramas, the Armour of Immanuel (2007), the Chosen One (2009), have been Radio Four’s pick of the week. A long-standing associate of Bristol’s Watershed Cinema Edson has curated the highly regarded Afrofuturist season (2014) which formed part of the BFI’S Fear and Wonder Sc-Fi season.
Since then, he has become an active member of South West West Midlands Hub programming initiative Come the Revolution.
This residency marks completely new departure for Edson – being both massively exciting and full of possibilities. It is a chance to transform an unusual idea, through collaboration into an immersive experience.
Rachael Clyne from Glastonbury, was a professional actor, turned psychotherapist and is now retired. Her work is widely published in journals and anthologies. Her prizewinning collection, Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams), concerns our broken relationship with nature. Her pamphlet, Girl Golem (www.4word.org), draws on her Ukrainian Jewish heritage. She has expanded this into a new collection to be published by Seren in 2023– You Will Never Be Anyone Else. It explores the themes of identity through childhood, relationships, sexual orientation and ageing.
Pey Oh is a Bath-based poet from Malaysia. Her debut pamphlet, Pictograph, was published by Flarestack Poetry in 2018. Her recent work can be found in harana poetry, Butcher’s Dog, Long Poem Magazine, Abridge, Iamb, Babel Tower Noticeboard and The Scores – A journal of Poetry and prose. A legitimate snack, Bagua, was published by Broken Sleep Books in 2021 and will be included in the Legitimate Snack Anthology 2022. She is Sky Arts Royal Society of Literature Poetry winner 2021.
Elizabeth Parker grew up in a garden center in The Forest Of Dean. Her poetry has been published in various poetry journals, including Magma and Poetry Salzburg. She was a prizewinner in the 2016 Troubadour Prize. Following her 2016 pamphlet, Antinopolis, published by Eyewear, Elizabeth’s first full collection, In Her Shambles, was published by Seren in April 2018. She is a founding member of Bristol poetry quartet The Spoke and co-host of monthly Bristol poetry event Under The Red Guitar.
Helen Sheppard is a Bristol based writer and worked as a midwife. Her poetry explores themes of birth, health, loss, and those whose voices are often unheard. She started to write in her forties during a ‘kick start your reading’ class.
She has performed at various events including Milk Poetry, RTB, Torriano Meeting House, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Harvard Medical School.
Helen’s work has been Published widely, including These are the Hands, Under the Radar. Her debut poetry collection ‘Fontanelle’ published 2021 Burning Eye Books.
Helen interviews extraordinary poets for her podcast Health Beat Poets, their ‘take’ on Poetry & Health.
Event link and details (going live 2330 16th September)
We had a widespread group for the workshop on the Tuesday (I had to move it to the day before as I have started a full-time job and run out of holiday days).
After a brief panic because both Zoom and Eventbrite were being glitchy we had a great turnout, considering we clashed with Nine Arches triple book launch. I think the choice to reduce the length of the event and not have an open mic, as there was very low take up on this last time, helped with audience numbers. I may well run a double open mic read-a-round session in November ahead of the finale.
Dave Pitt – Dave performed a poem about Hillsborough and provided brilliantly brief yet insightful introductions to all poets in the first half.
Ruth Kelsey –
Ruth shared two poems about her journey. I felt honoured she shared them with us. They were the most concise and direct poems of her set. The lines:
‘like making up the words to hymns
By mouthing shapes we think might fit, and hope no-one will notice.’
particularly chimed with me as capturing that feeling of unbelonging with such precision.
Nicky Longthorne –
One last cigarette and endless cups of tea stood out for me as a poem that had a bouncy rhythm, that contrasted well with the content and I think the lines running into each other until that final line and giving that space worked so well and I was glad we could see that on screen, one benefit of being on Zoom instead of live.
Jonathan Kinsman –
Such breathlessness in ars poetica and I started writing down lines to comment on and ended with two-third of this poem in my notes and the line ‘at what age did you begin to feel an indescribable falsehood inside?’ provided such a invitation to intimacy in that one question.
Liz Mills –
I loved Liz’s Scottish accent. The poem about Clarice Cliffe pottery was accompanied by a piece on the screen as ‘the poor girl from Tunstall, a mover of clay mountains.’ And Aunt Winnie was exquisitely described.
Siegfried Baber –
There was great detail in Siegfried’s family-focused poems from ‘a tender seam of blue sky.’ AndApplying Bruce Lee’s three principles of Kung Fu to my grandfather who has dementia was at once moving and compelling.
‘he hangs like a shadow
from the branches of a chestnut tree
until his arms ache and his grip finally falters.’
The scent of honeysuckle by itself and think the combination of ‘the scent of fireweed, honeysuckle and dark peppery nettles.’ may be quite overcoming.
I then performed a brief set including my epic love poem (shrunk to 2 pages from 6) to some of the people and some of the places. This is one of only two poems written since starting a new job eight weeks ago. I am finding it difficult to balance full-time work, single parenthood and tour admin and find time to write. I am hoping that a return to work and school routine will mean more time for creative ventures, be that playing an instrument, collage, colouring or writing. I have read a book of poetry a day in August and loved immersing myself again in this way with the moments I have found.
There are wonderful observations in the pieces Olivia chose for her set. ‘Perhaps poetry isn’t what I love, but how I love’ and from the Stim poem ‘O, secret metronome of me.’ I have not heard stimming tackled as a subject beforeand as one easily annoyed by repetitive noises this poem challenges me to have more empathy.
Hannah Linden – Hannah’s Childhood poempinpointed one elegant and important purpose
‘Today the only job I have
is keeping the blackbird quiet.’
and she delivers searing social commentary in the poem about the neighbour’s treatment of the wasp nest.
‘I hadn’t minded the wasps myself. They come back every year and have never stung anyone. I’m guessing they might want to sting someone now. Oh how my country has changed.’
Gill Lambert –
The whispering of salt was surprising, while also being spot on and
‘though she throws spilled salt over her shoulder,
whispers it, like prayer, into cooking water.’
and at the end the tender giving away:
‘How her father loved her,
gave her away, like salt.’
I loved the variety in Gill’s set too as she brought us snow, salt and summer.
Finola Scott –
Finola’s poems describe a place with a child as ‘a sweet oasis in a careless city.’ And the idea of ‘time worn thin’ grabbed me and stays with me now. And I loved the music in the line ‘unstackably awkward on Formica shelves.’
Sharon Larkin –
We seemed to have a honeysuckle theme tonight and how subtle the honeysuckle scent is, yet so recognisable.
‘honeysuckle smuggles her scent,
no more than a whisper at the start.’
Marsden Mechanics up next Friday 16th September
The next event is my first local hosting since I moved to The Colne Valley five years ago and I am hoping for a good turn out at Marsden Mechanics.
Rose Condo is an award-winning Canadian poet and educator based in the UK. A multiple slam champion, she has performed throughout the UK and internationally.
Rose has written and toured three solo shows: The Geography of Me (Spoken Word Award, 2021 Buxton Fringe), The Empathy Experiment (Best Spoken Word Show, 2019 Greater Manchester Fringe), and How to Starve an Artist (Runner Up Best Spoken Word Show, 2017 Saboteur Awards).
She runs workshops for people of all ages, exploring wellbeing through creative writing. Rose’s debut collection, After The Storm was published by Flapjack Press.
Jack Faricy is a poet and English teacher who is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield. He is working on a series of poems exploring the M62 and the landscapes it connects/divides. His first collection, ‘Traces’, is published by Calder Valley Poetry.
Technician of science and kinetic arts.
Teller of tall tales, word of mouth disciple.
Hapless creator of oratory confusion.
Traveller of inconspicuous highways and occasional wearer of dubious trouser.
Has been seen here and there and is preyed upon by the parasitic influence of space rock and roots reggae.
Confused by the likes of Zappa and influenced by short term absurdity of life.
Sent out on a renewable 5-year mission to seek out words and breathe life into them.
This is the past, future and present biographical fate of one poet called Felix.
Please accept my humble apologies…
Tahira Rehman is a Performance-Poet and an Outreach support worker in Leeds. She has headlined at festivals and events such as Spoken Weird, Punk in Drublic, Cellar Stories at the Lawrence Batley theatre and she has supported a touring show at the Gosforth Civic Theatre.
Her poetry has been published in the US by Our Verse Magazine, Soul-Lit and locally by Make Our Rights Reality Charity. She is also the author of Mirages to Reality and ‘Inspirational Quotes From The Journey Of Reality.’ She also hosts the Tahira Rehman Poet Show which an be accessed on www.tahirarehman.com/podcast
“Tahira Rehman is a vibrant and vital addition to the scene. Her poetry has that unique combination of being timeless and fiercely contemporary. ” – Matt Abbott
“A uniquely styled performance that was atmospheric and powerfully thought provoking!” – Blur The Lines | Leeds Playhouse.
Tim Taylor has published two poetry collections, Sea without a Shore and LifeTimes, both with Maytree Press, and two novels. His poems have won, or been shortlisted in, a number of competitions and appeared in magazines such as Acumen, Orbis and Pennine Platform and various anthologies. Tim lives in Meltham, teaches Ethics part-time at Leeds University and enjoys playing guitar and walking up hills (not usually at the same time).
Anna Tuck is a poet, writer and DJ. She is inspired by many things including nature, womxn and music. Her work often includes the themes of beauty, community and the strength of the human spirit.
Joe Williams is a writer and performing poet from Leeds. His latest book is ‘The Taking Part’, a short collection of poems on the theme of sport and games, published by Maytree Press. His other work includes the pamphlet ‘This is Virus’, a sequence of erasure poems made from Boris Johnson’s letter to the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the verse novella ‘An Otley Run’, which was shortlisted in the Best Novella category at the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Despite all of that, he is probably most widely read thanks to his contributions to Viz. www.joewilliams.co.uk
Hosts – Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere and Dave Pitt, A Poet, Prattler and Pandemonialist.
Siegfried Baber was born in Devon in 1989 and his poetry has featured in a variety of publications including Under The Radar, The Interpreter’s House, Butcher’s Dog Magazine, online with The Compass Magazine and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and as part of the Bath Literature Festival. His debut pamphlet When Love Came To The Cartoon Kid was published by Telltale Press, with its title poem nominated for the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. In 2020, he published London Road West, an ebook of poems and photographs. A debut collection of poems, The Twice-Turned Earth is forthcoming, and he is currently working on a book-length study of the medieval Grail romances.
Ruth Kelsey lives in Leeds. She is a member of Otley Stanza and reads her work regularly at events such as Otley Poets, Soundbites, Lit Up and Oooh! Beehive. She’s had poems published in various anthologies and magazines such as Dream Catcher, Obsessed with Pipework and Ink, Sweat & Tears, and was placed third in the 2020 Yaffle Prize. Her work was selected to be read as part of the 2021 Leeds International Piano Festival.
Jonathan Kinsman (he/they) is a trans writer living in York. He is a BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam finalist and his poetry has appeared in many publications. He has three pamphlets: & (joint-winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017), witness (Burning Eye, 2020) and Genderfux (co-written with Jem Henderson and JP Seabright, Nine Pens, 2022). His debut collection will be published by Broken Sleep Books next year. Find him on social media @manykinsmen.
Gill Lambert is a poet from Yorkshire where she writes and swims.. She has been widely published online and in print. She was the winner of the 2016 Ilkley Literature Festival Open Mic. Her first collection ‘Tadaima’ was published by Yaffle in 2019 and her second collection ‘A Small Goodbye at Dawn’ earlier this year. Along with her partner Mark Connors she runs online poetry workshops as well as running some in various locations in real life.
Sharon Larkin’s poems often begin with a visual stimulus but soon become ‘infected’ with psychosocial concerns, as is evident from her poems in ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ (indigo Dreams, 2019), ‘Dualities’ (Hedgehog Poetry, 2020) and over 200 poems in anthologies, magaxines and e-zines. A former civil servant, she runs Eithon Bridge Publications https://eithonbridge.com, edits ‘Good Dadhood’ e-zine http://gooddadhood.com and blogs at ‘Coming up with the Word.’ http://sharonlarkinjones.com Sharon’s academic background is in literature/art history and modern languages, with an MA in creative writing. She is proud of her Welsh heritage and enjoys photography, the countryside and the natural world.
Hannah Linden is from a working-class Northern background but has been based in Devon for many years. She is widely published and recent awards include 1st prize in the Cafe Writers Poetry Competition 2021 and Highly Commended in the Wales Poetry Award 2021. Her debut pamphlet The Beautiful Open Sky is forthcoming with V. Press in autumn 2022. She is working towards a full collection. Twitter: @hannahl1n
Nicky Longthorne is a poet, performer, playwright and part-time pillock from Leeds. He often tackles challenging issues to raise awareness including mental health, specifically men’s mental health, domestic violence, toxic relationships, grief and loss amongst other things. He is currently working on his first poetry collection. Photo to follow.
Liz Mills was first on stage aged two and has never stopped performing, although now she sticks to her own words rather than learning an entire playscript. She taught as well as acting in semi-pro shows and the occasional film. She’s working on her first pamphlet, currently titled ‘ Clearance.’ She lives in Staffordshire tending her garden and wayward husband.
Finola Scott’s poems scatter on the wind, tapestries and magazines. They are in The High Window, New Writing Scotland, I,S & T and Lighthouse. She has been a winner in many competitions – recently Gutter Mag’s Ewin Morgan Competition, Paisley Arts Gallery’s Joan Eardly Competition, Speculative Fiction’s Eardly Competition, The Scots Language Society’s Sangschaw Competition. Red Squirrel Press pubish Much left unsaid. Dreich publish Count the ways, while Tapsalterrie publish Modern Makars: Yin. When not performing, Finola enjoys teasing grandchildren and blue-tits, not necessarily in that order. Poems & event information can be found at FB Finola Scott Poems.
Olivia Tuck’s poetry has appeared in print and online journals including The High Window, Under the Radar, Perverse and Ink Sweat & Tears, as well as Tears in the Fence and Lighthouse, where she interns on the editorial teams. She was the winner of the Poetry Society Young Poets Network Keats Challenge in 2021. Her pamphlet Things Only Borderlines Know is published by Black Rabbit Press.