Sarah James

the possibilities of poetry…

Browsing Posts tagged festival

Breaking boundaries has been the theme of the week for me, not least because I’ve been reading and re-reading Frost’s ‘Mending Wall’ as part of my MA!

However, Frost aside, Tuesday saw me crank up my voice for reading at Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites in Birmingham, as guest poet alongside the great Fatima Al Matar and Adele Falconer. I have to say that the evening was inspiring. They are both stunning performance poets. Fatima also has a collection The Heart and the Subsidiary, and I can’t wait to see more of Adele’s work.

It was poetry too in the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms on Friday as part of the Warwick Words festival. Not only was this a lovely relaxed atmosphere to read in – and with an encouragingly large audience – but it was wonderful to spend several hours listening to a wide range of fantastic work by some great poets, including Poetry Bites organiser and recently Poetry Bites/Facebook-crowned Poetry Queen Jacqui Rowe.

Both events are firm proof that poetry written, read and performed is very much alive in the UK regions at the moment! As is the line-up for National Poetry Day (NPD) on Thursday. Details of many of these events can be found on the NPD website at: www.nationalpoetryday.co.uk and I am looking forward myself to going into a local first school in the morning, then sharing poetry and art at the Kate Modern art gallery in stoke Prior in the evening (more details can be found on my news page at http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=184 ).

The theme for this year’s NPD is ‘home’ and some of my poems exploring different aspects of this ‘spur’ word are set to be broadcast on internet radio station www.radiowildfire.com tomorrow night from 8pm to 10pm. The show also includes work from fellow Worcestershire stanza member Jenny Hope and regional Apples and Snakes coordinator Bohdan Piasecki.

Meanwhile, over in my blog on the fansite section of my website, I have been breaking my boundaries by experimenting with something new and will be encouraging other writers to try stepping out of their usual comfort zones and see if they can feel at home somewhere new!

Striking out!

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There’s nothing like a change of scenery for blowing the cobwebs away – or helping one to appreciate the beauty in those very cobwebs.

Five days at Center Parcs in Nottinghamshire has been a great chance to relax with my family, search out leaves and shadows to photograph, get closer to nature and enjoy some great cycle rides through the beautiful forest.

Like most holidays, it’s also been a chance to put everyday life into perspective and if not strike out a new path, to strike out a new sense of perspective.

This sense of re-energisation was further boosted by another lovely review of Into the Yell, by writer Sophie Shanahan on her blog at: http://sophieshanahan.wordpress.com/ and the news that one of my poems has come joint first in the Exmoor Society Poetry Competition.

Once the inevitable unpacking and washing are sorted, I shall be putting this energy to good use to enjoy the last few days of the holidays with my boys and prepare to run another collaborative poetry/art display/drop-in workshop at Droitwich’s annual Salt Day festival on Saturday, September 11.

Hope everyone else is enjoying the bank holiday!

I’m still buzzing today after a great Worcester Festival charity reading last night with fellow poet Jenny Hope.


Not only was it an enjoyable evening but we had some great poets and music in the open mic section of the night and managed to tot up £133.62 for the Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign. Hurrah! A big thank you to all those who organised, helped, supported, performed, attended…

I’m also looking forward to reading in the Worcester Festival Phonic Room event at the Boston Tea Party, Worcester, tomorrow night from 7pm.

Then I’m going to treat myself to a few days off – maybe enjoy a week with my camera searching trees for shadows and leaves – before gearing up for my guest poet slot at Burton’s Spoken Worlds when it relaunches next month.

The evening at Rangemore House on Friday, September 17 will also be a trip down memory lane for me as it’s nearly ten years since I stopped working for the Burton Mail.

The evening kicks off at 7.30pm and will also feature an open mic of poetry, prose and sketches. Organised by Gary Carr (www.gary-carr.me.uk/worlds.html ), Spoken Worlds is on the third Friday of every month. Entry is £2 and other guests lined up include Rachel Pantechnicon on October 15 and James Nash on November 19.

Waiting has always seemed to play a noticeable role in my life – sometimes too large a one for my liking! I prefer, wherever possible, to convert waiting for one thing into a chance to get on with something else. Life is for living, not waiting, after all!

It is however a theme that haunts/animates a fair few of my poems. Today was the launch of a Kidderminster arts installation entitled the ‘Waiting room’.  The project includes five of my poems and I can’t wait to see it!

At the moment, I’m also waiting for my ‘five minutes with’ interview in the local paper (Worcester News). One of the questions I was asked was about favourite music tracks. My answer included They Might Be Giants ‘Birdhouse in Your Soul’. So while I’m waiting, I thought I’d turn this into my prompt for today.

Imagine you’re waiting somewhere, somewhere unusual like maybe a birdhouse. Or inside someone’s soul/body/brain. Or choose somewhere else serious, humorous or quirky. You might want to think about what you’re waiting for and how you feel about it. Perhaps you’re trapped there. Or maybe you chose to go there deliberately to distract yourself or get away from something. This prompt might also be a good one for exploring all the senses. What  do you see/hear/taste/smell/feel while you are waiting? Can the reader guess where you are waiting simply from how you describe it?

Happy writing – and if anyone fancies posting their thoughts, I’ll be waiting!

One thing – besides the poetry itself – that has struck me most about both Ledbury Poetry Festival and my own collection launch at Droitwich Music and Arts Festival on Saturday is the friendliness and generosity of poets. (Or the ones I’ve met recently, at least!)
I was lucky enough to be taken into the Ledbury festival inner sanctum (the common room for performers and sponsors) by Angela France last week.  She also introduced me to Penny Shuttle was wonderfully welcoming and inclusive, given my smallness compared to her greatness in the poetry world.
When she found I was launching Into the Yell, poet and Bugged editor/organiser (as well as National Poetry Day organiser) Jo Bell also kindly offered to pass on details to the Bugged audience. In fact, it was in this way that I met local poet Maggie Doyle, who came to Saturday’s launch.
It was also lovely to meet another local poet, who I had been in communication with via email some months ago as she had hoped to join the stanza (poetry group) I run. Unfortunately, she’s been unable to make any of the meetings but on Saturday I got to meet her in person for the first time, which was great.
And, of course, it was unbelievably fantastic to share what was such an important day for me with both my family and my so many wonderful friends. So a big thank you to you all.
🙂

At last I am now Into the Yell! Yes, the poetry collection is now officially published and launched!

Luck was definitely on my side on Saturday as we had some gorgeously sunny weather for the start of  Droitwich Music and Arts Festival. The music at the opening celebrations was fantastic and the haiku\short poem collaborative display project I ran also proved to be both colourful and popular. All in all it was a great day, thanks to my family, friends new and old and all the people who turned up to take part and support me.

What with some great events and catching up with some lovely poets at Ledbury Poetry Festival too, it has definitely been a wonderful fun-packed week. I also finished the ‘mini anthology’ of work by children on my series of poetry workshops and had a second piece chosen for publication on Jo Bell and David’ Calcutt’s Bugged blog (http://www.bugged.org.uk ) on July 4.

Launch over, I’ve no time to relax – not yet, at any rate. I’m busy judging a poetry competition at the moment,  recording some poems tomorrow for a fantastic Kidderminster Arts Festival installation organised by Sarah Tamar, shall be writer in residence at Worcester’s Oxfam Bookshop as part of Oxfam Bookfest on Thursday and I am going to be talking to a local writer’s group at Droitwich Library on Friday. Oh, and I’m hoping to squeeze some breathing in somewhere along the line!

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about my previous fansite blog about the criticism/praise that really matters to me as a writer.

One of the Mums from school, whose son is in the same class as my younger boy, is a singer, musician and songwriter. It was lovely when she read the collection to get almost instant feedback from her while she was in the process of reading it in the form of a series of text listing her favourite poems. And when she said that she’d like to borrow one of the lines for a song…Similarly, when a poet friend said she’d like to use one of the poems in some of her poetry workshops.

Of course, all this means the more to me as Into the Yell F-day, festival-day (or should that be L for launch day?) approaches and I get progressively more nervous. (The tell-tale signs including a tendency to insomnia and eating too much chocolate!) I am looking forward to it though, fingers crossed for nice weather, and have been distracting myself with some more advance haiku for the collaborative display. I even got both my sons to write a short poem, though one had to be bribed to do so!

Anyway, here’s my latest offering, ready for the day:

festival of arts
music, painting, poetry
fun for all ages

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