(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.
Follow George on Twitter@ @GDBastow. George’s blog: https://gdbastow11.wordpress.com/
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.