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Posts Tagged ‘nottingham festival of words’

Nottingham’s second Festival of Words will take place in October this year. It will be a celebration of the spoken and written word, as well as a key part of the city’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature – keep an eye on that website, which will fill up at an alarming rate over the next couple of months!

Sarah Dale – a great force for literature and all things good in Nottingham – has kicked off a blog-hop to celebrate the Festival. You can read her opening blogpost here. She passed the baton to Pam McIlroy and Andrew Kells, and Andrew kindly passed it on to me. When I’ve finished answering the questions I’ll be nudging Rachel Phillips and Nicki Hastie to carry on the good work.

What’s your connection with Nottingham and its written and spoken words?
I’ve loved Nottingham ever since I came here to university in 1984. How could you not love a city that has a memorial plaque to Xylophone Man? Rosie Garner’s poem is a perfect example of how the written and spoken word pervades the city. But enough about Nottingham. More about me. I’m the Development Director for Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and I also work for Five Leaves Publications and occasionally for Five Leaves Bookshop, the first independent bookshop in Nottingham this millenium. I’m currently working with a large group of people to put in a bid for Nottingham to become a UNESCO City of Literature. And sometimes I’ve even been known to write some stuff.

What do you love about Nottingham and its creative scene right now?
Mainly, that it’s happening anywhere and everywhere. I just had a look round the Surface Gallery on Friday, just across the road from the Writers’ Studio… they’ve got 24 local street artists painting the wall of the bus station in the alley behind the gallery… and some amazing artists inhabiting their studios… and I didn’t even know it existed till a couple of months ago! They’re keen to get a writer in residence, and I’m sure we’ll make something happen. That’s just one example of collaboration between the myriad facets of grass-roots creative activity that are happening all over the city. It’s almost too exciting!

How would you describe Nottingham to a visitor coming to the Festival of Words?
A city full of surprises, a city full of enthusiasm and friendliness, a city full of literature and art. A city you’ll never want to leave.

That’s me done. Time to hand over to the next pair of hoppers. Nicki and Rachel, it’s up to you!

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Beeston Poets 2012 season flyer

I designed this over the weekend. Three things:

1. Tickets will be available very very soon. Probably tomorrow. Definitely by the end of the week. Buy them.

2. I’d love to hear what you think of the poster, design-wise. Any critiques gratefully received. Trying to get the hang of this graphic design lark.

3. This particular Beeston Poets elf is VERY VERY EXCITED about the whole project!

In other news…

Got lots of work on at the moment. Good job I can survive on 4 hours sleep for a couple of weeks. Caffeine addiction has firmly re-established itself.

Nottingham Festival of Words is taking shape, slowly but surely. I’ve volunteered to design the programme and they’ve accepted my offer. Whoop whoop! If you haven’t done so yet, sign up to the mailing list, like the FB page, and mark 9th-24th Feb 2013 in your diary. Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for the Festival launch, which will be at Antenna on September 12th, and is free.

And… tomorrow I’m off to prison.

Behind bars - and not the sort that sells beer

Yep…

Prison.

I’m going to a meeting to discuss a creative writing project at Sudbury Open Prison, where I’ll be shadowing someone and will have the chance to run a workshop with prisoners. What fun!

Lots of other stuff happening. But if I wrote about all of it you’d get bored and I’d get even less sleep.

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I'm going to see the sheep!

I’m going to see the sheep!

I’m going to make some resolutions for my holiday:

  • I will spend at least two days without connecting to the internet (if you see me on Facebook on Thursday or Friday, slap me).
  • I will get into the habit of writing every day (need to establish the habit).
  • I will not worry about how overweight and unfit I am until I get home (want to fully enjoy Mum’s wonderful cooking).
  • I will not spend more than an hour a day working (I’d like to not work at all, but that’s not going to happen).

I never thought I’d end up being a workaholic. But then I was never passionate about my work when I was in IT.

 

This is what I’ve been doing over the last few days.

 

The Bookcase, LowdhamWorking on a new website for The Bookcase in Lowdham. I’m very excited about this project – Jane Streeter wants to make a website that reflects the shop itself, including aspects of the service they give in person and giving a feel for the atmosphere of this perfect example of what an independent bookshop should be.

 

Draft programme for the Nottingham Festival of WordsSorting out the programme for the Nottingham Festival of Words. It’s going to be amazing, awesome, fantastic, brilliant… I know I keep banging on about this, but honestly, it is going to be EPIC. I’m a bit worried that I’m going to mess it up, but I honestly think we’ve got so many top-quality events that even I can’t blow it!

 

Nottingham and Leicester Poetry Society members at the Huw Watkins memorial eventAttending and reading at a special Nottingham Poetry Society meeting to commemorate the life and work of Huw Watkins, who died earlier this year. I never knew Huw, but I know by reading his poetry that I would have liked him. David Duncombe asked me to read Huw’s poem ‘Heifers’ – having spent much of my childhood years living right next to a field that was always full of cows, I can testify that Huw totally understood the beasts. We had a great audience and heard many beautiful poems.

 

The Heroes anthologyToday the proof arrived of an anthology I’ve typeset for the Nottingham Writers’ Studio’s ‘Heroes’ project. Richard Goodson and Natasha Picot worked with groups of young people from diverse backgrounds, which resulted in some amazing poetry and stories, not to mention colourful and inspiring pictures. It was a pleasure to design the anthology and help put it together, and I’m very pleased with the result.

 

Let the Blood RunOver the weekend I worked on a script for a graphic story that Emily Cooper is going to illustrate – we’ve submitted the proposal to Brick’s new project, which is called ‘Drawing from Distress to Recovery’ – an anthology of graphic stories about mental health problems. I hope our proposal (gorily entitled ‘Let the Blood Run’) is accepted, because I’m looking forward to working with Emily. She’s so talented…

 

… and lots of other stuff too. I love my life. Just got to find a way to work some more writing time into it!

Oh, and I somehow ended up watching the Olympic opening ceremony. I loved the cauldron, and the bouncing punks. I wanna be a bouncing punk.

Bouncing Punks

How could you NOT want to be a bouncing punk?

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How on earth did that happen?

111O/3

111O/3, with letterpress poem/print insert

I might have mentioned earlier this week that I have had four poems accepted for Obsessed with Pipework. These are not my first published poems – I’ve had some included in the Nottingham University student anthologies, a couple in the Nottingham Poetry Society‘s 70th anniversary anthology, and my poem Horseflies was published (at the editor’s request – thanks Eireann Lorsung!) in 111O/3. But this was my first actual letter that says, ‘Yes, we like your poems and we’d love to publish them.’ So exciting! And it does make me feel like a real poet.

Horseflies

My first non-anthology published poem.

I spent most of yesterday at Southwell Library Poetry Festival. As always, Sheelagh Gallagher and everyone at the library have done an amazing job, bringing some wonderful poets to this neck of the woods. Sadly I had too much work to be getting on with to go to the events during the day, but the evening was magic. More of that later.

At lunchtime I put on my (metaphorical) chauffeur’s cap to take Sheelagh to the Maggie’s Centre at Nottingham City Hospital – I should possibly have taken an amphibious vehicle, there was so much water on the road. I sat and worked while she gave a creative writing workshop, until the end of the workshop when she called me in to talk to the group about ‘being a poet’ and read a couple of my poems. It felt quite strange, a bit like I was an impostor*… but it was fun and they were lovely people who had written some interesting poems themselves.

[* NO! I am a real poet!]

We made it back to Southwell – just. Didn’t stop to look at Lowdham, which was completely closed off and flooded. I then spent a happy couple of hours with Cathy Grindrod and Frances Thimann eating cake (thanks, Frances!). Oh, and discussing the event proposals for the Nottingham Festival of Words. Some interesting ideas, lots and lots of talent… over fifty proposals submitted so far and a few late submissions still trickling in… it’s going to be a brilliant festival. The website is under construction, but you can subscribe to the mailing list on the front page – I recommend you do that if you want to be kept up to date with the news.

Lovely hour or so preparing for my reading chatting to some friends I haven’t seen for a while and incidentally identifying some more opportunities (some people call it networking, I call it fun). Then read four of my poems (along with Carol Rowntree Jones and Simon Kew), which was awesome. I love reading my poems aloud**. It’s even better with an audience! Not so sure about the radio mike though – not used to that sort of thing at all.

[** See! I really am a real poet!]

Valerie Laws

Valerie Laws with her horse skull…

The day was finished off perfectly by a couple of hours listening to Ophelia’s Sistas – billed as:

Prize-winning poets Char March and Valerie Laws are both fabulous and experienced performers and – as Ophelia’s Sistas – they make a formidable team. They take their audiences on an exploration of pathology, wild sex, dementia, lost pigeons, flirting at funerals, dogs in space, insanity, all in poetry which is deeply moving and very funny. […] a high-energy evening of performance fireworks, belly laughs, dirty laughs, and pathos – forging through darkness with wit, determination, and panache.

Char March

Char March (she didn’t wear the Viking headgear for the whole show)

And they didn’t disappoint. Funny, touching, profound, silly, raunchy… sometimes all at the same time. I recommend you catch either or both of them if you get a chance. Clever, interesting, generous women, and bloody good poets too.

As I walked back to my car (my heroic car which took me carfully(? boatfully?) through rain and rain and rain all day) I was accosted by a very strange woman who wanted to know whether the 100 bus stop which said the bus went to Lowdham was also the bus stop for Nottingham. I assured her it was, and as a reward was treated to her life story. It seemed to involve theatre (in a cellar?), a door somewhere in Southwell which just opened for her (which I think was a literal door), travel around the UK (possibly involving London), a son who studied philosophy, and lots and lots of incomplete sentences which ran on and on, punctuated by, ‘I do ramble, don’t I?’ and, ‘I don’t mean to keep you.’ Turned out she’d been to Ophelia’s Sistas – didn’t think much of it as the poetry didn’t rhyme, but appreciated the mentions of allotments and still-birth in the poems. She had very strong views about Char March’s frequent mentions of the fact that she’s a lesbian, but I’ve no idea what those views were! Bless her – I could have listened to her all night!

The sun was losing its grip on the sky as I drove home, without my usual audio-book. For once, I enjoyed the silence and time to reflect on what was a truly wonderful day.

(then I got home and did a couple of hours work…)

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I’m involved in a couple of exciting projects at the moment. Actually, I’m involved in a LOT of exciting projects (you know me, it’s what I do), but there are two I want to tell you about.

Beeston Poets

Some of you might remember a long-running series of poetry events at Beeston Library which started in 1983 and went on for over fifteen years. It’s before my time (i.e. when I was mired deep in the world of computers – poetry of a different kind) so I missed out on the opportunities to hear established and up-and-coming poets like Jackie Kay, Helen Dunmore, Roger McGough, Wendy Cope, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Longley, Liz Lochhead…

The Nottingham Poetry Society, in partnership with Nottinghamshire Libraries and Five Leaves Publications (who published the anthology Poems for the Beekeeper in 1997 to commemorate the fifteenth series of Beeston poetry readings) with support from Writing East Midlands, is now working on re-establishing the series in the wonderful new upstairs space at Beeston Library. We’ve got one event lined up already – Neil Astley will be reading on November 24th 2012 – and another is in the pipeline for October 2012.

I’m designing the logo for the website at the moment. And then I’ll build the website. It’s all very exciting!

Nottingham Festival of Words

Next February, there will be a literature festival in Nottingham! ‘About time too!’ I hear you cry. It will take place in various city centre venues on the weekend of February 15/16/17 2013, to coincide with Light Night on February 15.

This is a project initiated by Nottingham Writers’ Studio, who are organising the festival in partnership with Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Trent University and Writing East Midlands. At the moment we’ve started work on the website, branding, organisation structure, and all that stuff… and we’ve issued a call for event proposals. Here’s an extract from the call:

The Nottingham Festival of Words will take place for the first time in the City next year. It will be a great celebratory event bringing together diverse forms of word-related cultures, and will include all forms of  literature, spoken word, theatre/film, and anything else connected with words. Nottingham Festival of Words is looking for event and activity proposals that will enable and encourage the public to engage with literary culture in all its forms. If you are an individual, group or organisation working with words we would love to work with you, so tell us about your event ideas.

Publicity will be created for the Festival as a whole, incorporating information about all of the events. A central venue will act as a hub, with a book market and a selection of spaces for events, while other venues throughout the city will also host events.

A dedicated team will manage the Festival, deciding on the programme, producing publicity, liaising with the central venue and facilitating events – for example by providing a Festival Box Office and helping organisers to find venues for their events. Individuals, groups and organisations are invited to propose events for inclusion within the programme.

The Festival will be themed around ‘Lace and Love’ in 2013. There is a city-wide ‘Lace Season’ taking place in the months leading up to and culminating with Light Night, and you’ll note that the dates are very close to St Valentine’s Day. Your event need not be directly related to the themes, but we hope that most events will have at least some connection.

I’ll post the website address here as soon as it’s live (real soon now!) but in the meantime if you would like to propose an event for inclusion – deadline is June 30th – email me or nottwords [at] gmail [dot] com and ask for a proposal form. It’s going to be HUGE! You really want to be involved!

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