All posts filed under: Places

Spam poetry at the Printworks, Hastings

Slam Dunk at the Printworks in Hastings

Last night I took the train (yes! there and back! and only slight delays!) to Hastings to Slam Dunk, a regular poetry night at the Printworks, where Hastings Stanza rep Antony Mair was doing a set. Although it’s not far away, Hastings is still a bit of an unknown quantity for me, but it has an unmistakeably youthful and creative vibe that’s irresistible. There’s an edge to it too – and my first challenge was to find the way in, which turned out to be down a dark alley and without any external signs…a cross between a speakeasy and some sort of squatters’ den – ha! (The experience reminded me of a ‘foreigners only’ bar in Rome about 30 years ago where you had to know the correct (unmarked) door to knock on, and someone slid open the hatch to check you were a) not Italian and b) not male. Men were allowed but only in the company of a woman, and in the proportion one-man-one-woman. I don’t think Rome was ready for any other relationship …

Robin & Jess at South Downs Poetry Festival

At the South Downs Poetry Festival

When Tim Dawes came to Lewes just a few months ago to talk about his plans for a South Downs Poetry Festival, I admit I was sceptical about whether it could be done in such a short timeframe. But hats off to him, the event happened and from what I can tell, it was a super success. After a poetry bike ride taking in the length of the South Downs, plus numerous readings and workshops throughout the area, things culminated in a day-long event in Petersfield on Saturday, which I was very pleased to be a part of. I was there with fellow Telltale Poet Jess Mookherjee, flying the Telltale flag, socialising with fellow publishers/poets and taking in readings and workshops where possible. Being a new festival, it was on a small scale – which made it actually all the more fun. With smallness comes intimacy – everyone was relaxed, poets and organisers accessible, and there was time and space to really talk to people. And we brought cookies – free edibles are always a …

Eastbourne beach from south cliff

Some poetry readings etc in next two weeks…

Just a quick shout out for some poetry readings & events coming up in the next couple of weeks … we’re always being told how people turn to poetry in times of trouble, so perhaps we need to start promoting poetry readings as an antidote to brexit woes. I already foresee a tranche of poems on brexit-related themes starting to appear in magazines from the autumn… But let’s not wish the summer away. I’m trying to see the sunshine through those dark trees. Anyway, starting with this evening, 29th June – I’m pleased and proud to have been invited by Abegail Morley to be a guest reader at the launch of her Nine Arches collection, The Skin Diary, alongside Jeremy Page and Mara Bergman. It’s taking place at The Pitcher & Piano in Tunbridge Wells at 7pm – free entry! Tomorrow evening 30th June I’m in Eastbourne talking to the New Eastbourne Writers about best ways to use Twitter, and hopefully launching the follow up to my ‘How to Use Twitter’ ebook. (I know, not a reading …

Poetry at the Troubadour

Readings, talks, good poetry stuff on the horizon

Last Thursday I was at Roehampton University where I’d been invited by Principal Lecturer Louise Tondeur to talk to her Creative Writing students about Telltale Press, collaborative working, the importance of submitting work to magazines, marketing your work/yourself, that sort of thing. I get a bit scared when faced by a room of people (mostly) under 21 – I find it impossible to tell if they’re interested or even listening. I suppose all my teaching experience has been with adults who are uninhibited about showing enthusiasm or appreciation, asking questions, and engaging fully. And yet the general feedback afterwards was great, and several people wanted to talk to me individually. I was even invited to the students’ showcase event to hear their work. Once again I was reminded of my great admiration for our overworked and underpaid teachers and lecturers. Monday: to the Troubadour. Anne-Marie Fyfe’s Coffee House Poetry nights at the Troubadour are always well attended. On Monday it was standing room only, and I was lucky to get a seat. The nice thing about everyone squashing up together …

TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poets 2016

Post-TS Eliot Prize post, and a tale of two gaffes

The first two and a half weeks of January have been a bit of a poetry whirl (in the sense of lots of events) and although I’m now happy I’m a bit exhausted, not to mention in need of a reality-check catchup with, er, work stuff. Last week was the excitement of the T S Eliot Prize readings (and a rather cold car journey there and back since the heating packed up.) Some excellent readings and a super atmosphere – I won’t review it here but there are plenty of interesting accounts of the evening, and photos – for example on Peter Kenny’s blog and Hilaire’s blog. Then the very next day I hauled my smart-ish self up to London again, this time to the V & A for the T S Eliot prize giving ceremony. I won’t lie to you, this was daunting. I looked around and knew virtually nobody, at least, nobody who would greet me as someone they knew. Even the lovely folks from the Poetry Society, who I thought did know me, were …

Scallop by Maggi Hambling

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival de-brief

And so the inevitable Aldeburgh Poetry Festival blog post. You’ve probably read a post or two on the subject already, or at least seen the Facebook/Twitter storm of “wasn’t it amazing?” sound bites, in-jokes about poets posing as penises  – (I know! Too much alliteration) – and jolly pictures of poets sipping pints. (SORRY, am doing it again.) This is quite long, but there are subheads for the skimmers! Three lessons for newbies It was the first time I’d been, and clearly had a lot to learn. Still, when speaking to other ‘virgins’ I found some common themes: firstly, it’s easy to book too many sessions. I’d underestimated how exhausting it would be to go from one session to another and not schedule time for eating, chatting, walking or just sitting quietly. As it was, I certainly missed a few things I had booked for, but I don’t regret it – I had a better time for it. Secondly, be prepared for no phone signal the entire weekend. I saw a few people managing to make calls and …

aldeburgh beach

What I’ve been up to, and look ahead to Aldeburgh

Just a quick update and a look ahead to the weekend … I was excited to see the T S Eliot Prize shortlist, especially as it included the excellent debut collection from Sarah Howe – Loop of Jade – which I mini-reviewed on this blog a short while ago.  I’ve already signed up for Katy Evans-Bush‘s excellent preview day when we look at all the shortlisted collections as curated by Katy. I went this a couple of years ago and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the readings night. Recommended! I’ve also bought a couple of the books on the list – Mark Doty’s Deep Lane and Don Paterson’s 40 Sonnets. I’m trying not to read any reviews of the books before I talk about them on the The Reading List, in case they influence me, and I’m trying so hard to learn how to review/critique. Speaking of DP – I’ve booked to go hear him and Liz Berry read at The Print Room on 15th December…actually off the back of hearing Liz read on the podcast Transatlantic Poetry – …

view of south cliff beach Eastbourne

Readings, launches & seeds of a new project or two

We’ve been in Eastbourne a month. It probably sounds daft but I’ve been struck at how mild it seems to be here compared to Lewes or Brighton. The latter in particular. And yet they’re only a few miles away. Maybe we don’t get those biting Brighton winds here? But today I’ve spent all day at the computer.  I have a pretty good 180 degree view of the weather from where I’m sitting and let me tell you there was no reason to go out today. If you read my post last week you’ll know I was out and about last week though – lots of lovely readings, poetry gatherings and a very low-key talk to the ladies of the SWWJ about blogging, twitter and the like. It’s always a pleasure to read alongside wonderful poets and last week was no exception – on Friday it was an intimate affair at the Albion Beatnik in Oxford, where Martin Malone was celebrating the launch of his new collection Cur (more on that in a post very soon). My fellow readers in …

october 2015 poetry readings

Lewes & Oxford readings this week, plus poet friends’ success

Ah, National Poetry Day seems to be the unofficial kickstarter of the poetry season (is that ‘open season’)? Last week saw a flurry of competition results and exciting announcements: Facebook was groaning under the weight of congratulations and almost couldn’t keep up. First of all the Stanza Poetry Competition, won by Graham Burchell to whom I hand over my tiara (although I think it looks better on me, to be honest) and Runners Up none other than my old Brighton Stanza mates Marion Tracy and Tess Jolly. Yay! Then lovely poet friend Abegail Morley scooped up the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year award (not exactly from under my nose – I only made the longlist, but I would have put up a fight if I’d been there!) Hurrah! For my own part, I’ve nothing amazing to announce but I did make the longlist for the Poetry School/Nine Arches ‘Primers’ competition. Longlisting is an interesting idea – I have to remind myself that its purpose is actually to encourage the entrants. Longlistings don’t make it onto CVs …

View from the terrace

Post-holiday news, blues and beginnings

Back from holiday less than a week and plenty has happened. While I was away I received three rejections (boo!) and one ‘long listing’ (hurray!), so now I’m faced with a big hole in my sending out schedule. I haven’t written anything new for a while and am about to go into another busy period with moving house, developments with Telltale Press and a Lewes Singers concert in 6 weeks’ time to organise and promote. So who knows when I’ll get down to any quality poetry-writing time. If you’ve been following the house move saga, just to say that contracts were finally exchanged on house (double hurrah!), so by the end of September we will be homeless unless we can find a flat to rent before then. We’re already seen several places in the last few days but it’s clear that in the rentals market the good stuff goes within 24 hours, a week at the latest. Plus there are dirty tricks galore. So we are sharpening our elbows. I did no writing at all …