Great new line-ups coming soon to Word of Mouth #Whitstable

WORD OF MOUTH’S CHRISTMAS PARTY

Great news that Whitstable’s finest ukulele band THE USELESS PLUCKERS will play at WORD OF MOUTH’s Christmas party at #Whitstable‘s fabulous Umbrella café  on Thursday 5 December, 6.30 – 8.30pm. THIS FREE EVENT features London poet Agnes Meadows, Pauline Holmes of ‘Talk to the Paw’ fame (one of Kent’s funniest poets) & Iranian poet and musician, now living in Kent, Kadir Samad. I will be your host as usual, sprinkling the evening with seasonal poetry.

At all these events, there will be up to 10 OPEN MIC slots of five minutes each, yours for the asking on the night. Whitstable’s licensed Umbrella Café will be open, serving tea/coffee and cakes, and a hot meal if you fancy it. Please come!Pluckers logoFAVERSHAM SPECIAL STARTS OUR NEW YEAR 

On Thursday 9 January, 2020, 6.30 – 8.30pm, the ‘full-time artistic dynamo’ Angela Dye will help us into the New Year at Word of Mouth with some of the coast’s finest writers, all from Faversham and around. Christopher Hopkins will read from his magnificent new collection published this week, The Shape of a Tulip Bird, Rosemary McLeish will make us laugh and cry with her collection published last year, I am a Field, Melinda Walker will sing as well as read her courageous poetry and, a first for Word of Mouth Whitstable, we have the mighty Katy Evans-Bush. As a special treat, folksinger Helen North has agreed to come too. Helen’s lyrics are beautifully crafted and her music always hovers with me for days. Particular songs of hers leave with me with something in my eye every time…

FEBRUARY IS A MARGATE SPECIAL 

On Thursday 6 February, 2020, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Jess Taggart, currently up to her eyes in organising Margate Bookie 2019, will come and read her gorgeous poetry and will bring Margate talent with her. Tanya Royer, Roger Sapsford and Joshua Cialis have been mentioned and when the Bookie dust has settled, we will confirm details.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY IN MARCH

Word of Mouth on Thursday, 5 March 2020, 6.30 – 8.30pm, falls in the week of International Women’s Day and we will celebrate our marvellous variety as women with readings by Maggie Harris, Fiona Sinclair, Gillian Laker, Clair Meyrick and hopefully (baby Freya permitting) Setareh Ebrahimi.

Helen North has just agreed to come and sing for us again that night. Many of her songs, her own compositions, sum up our complex female lives brilliantly.

All genders and none are always welcome to read at our open mic.

RAINING MEN IN APRIL?

On Thursday 2 April, 2020, 6.30 – 8.30pm, I’m planning a line-up of excellent male poets and music. More details soon!Word of Mouth Whitstable facebook

Loose Muse London

Last week I made the trip to that there London to read at Loose Muse London. Loose Muse is a network of monthly readings that showcase and encourage women and their writing. The evening was damp – London’s damp somehow feels more grim than damp anywhere else – but up the pub stairs was a cosy room and a lovely welcome. Here is London’s organiser Agnes Meadows‘ review of our evening:

REVIEW

Perhaps it was the bad weather that kept people away from the November Loose Muse, but they certainly missed an exceptional evening of exceptional words.

There were only three open mic’ers this time, with Izzy White kicking off with a short, lively piece about Rubens and Picasso + a piece in her usual humorous style about Whitstable that had some great rhyming. Sue Johns read a powerful piece about the Extinction Rebellion, and Faye Avsec read a piece about friendship which contained the best line of the night, I thought: ‘Sometimes your day is like an empty cup’. Loved it!

First feature was Rosie Johnston, who had come from Whitstable to join us. She first read a prose piece about the writing life, urging that you should keep on writing regardless of what happens in your life, advice I wholeheartedly endorse. The breath of the countryside and the need to be near the sea persisted despite her living in London for 40 years. She moved to Whitstable where she runs a monthly writers event now called Word of Mouth (I’m a feature there on 5 December!!!). Rosie’s Irish background was evident in the lushness of language in her poetry about aspects of her life, light and dark. Most evocative was ‘Wolf Memories’ about the aftermath of tragic memories snarling and snapping at the heels of her mind; she had suffered PTSD in the home, so this piece was redolent with dark emotions. Also writing about life by the seaside, and pieces paying tribute to other women writers she admired, all in all her feature was a truly inspirational one.

Second feature was the multi-talented Safiya Daly, who read from her collection highlighting the two sides of her heritage, both Syrian and English. Her work mixed English and Arabic, with Safiya successfully playing with the sounds of words in both languages. Her powerful pieces were an amalgamation of sound and emotion, underlining displaced identity, and touching on the 5 years she spent in Saudi. She spoke movingly and forcefully about the crisis in Syria, and how she feels distanced from it while admitting she should be more connected to it, certainly thought provoking for the audience. Safiya also read from her collection about ‘feminine deities’ equally impressive in breadth and scope. Overall a gobsmacking poet, highly appreciated by attendees.

The next Loose Muse London is on December 13th, featuring Charlotte Ansell and Sue Wrinch, both with new collections. So come along and enjoy the wealth of words…tell your friends…there might even be mince pies.

 

On Monday 13 January, 2020, I look forward to returning to read at WINCHESTER LOOSE MUSE: 8pm. Details soon.

Six-Count Jive is in stock again!

Six-Count Jive sold out this summer and this is to let you know that it’s back in stock again, available for you to buy.

Dennis Greig, the heart and soul of Lapwing Publications, finishes production of every Lapwing book himself and has been severely ill throughout this summer and autumn, with frequent visits to hospital. His courage in doing the very best he can to keep Lapwing flying in such testing circumstances is outstanding. Take care of yourself, Dennis, and of that marvellous family of yours – I wish you back to full strength very soon.

Reviews of Six-Count Jive

Fiona Sinclair in The Lake magazine

‘This is a superbly crafted piece of work whose language is at times sublime. The narrative is gripping because it takes us through the protagonist’s process back to happiness. In its deliberate brevity it invites us to mine for layers of meaning and rewards constant re-reading. Its back story and message of survival are life affirming but significantly, this is not an exercise in therapy, instead, Six-Count Jive is a superb piece of art.’

Stephen Claughton in London Grip

‘The 17-syllable form is one Johnston has made very much her own, having used it in her three previous books of poetry: Sweet Seventeens (2010); Orion (2012); and Bittersweet Seventeens (2014). The poems don’t qualify as haikus (and aren’t meant to) not only because technically they don’t follow the five-seven-five syllable form or include the required seasonal reference, but also because the stanzas in Six-Count Jive don’t aim for the completeness — the Zen-like oneness, however elliptical — that haikus strive to attain. Rather, they are fragments or shards, pieces of a shattered life that somehow must be fitted back together. Paradoxically, grouping the stanzas in threes only serves to emphasise this disconnectedness.

Six-Count Jive is a brave and honest book, one which I hope will not only be enjoyed as poetry, but also give encouragement to women recovering from similar experiences. Rosie Johnston dedicates it to everyone with PTSD, “especially those of us traumatised in our own homes.”‘

Setareh Franklin for Thanet Writers

‘There is a fragility to the images used within Six-Count Jive, as well as natural imagery. One of my favourite lines within the collection is an example of the latter, when Johnston writes, “She lives in a glacier,” which perfectly reflects the main character’s isolation.

Six-Count Jive creates some order in writing out of the chaos of life. It also feels very healing, as writing often can be. It’s good that this collection came out of such a subject matter. It was brave of Johnston to write this collection. The lasting image of Six-Count Jive, the title idea of the jive—mentioned twice in the book—is it’s final, strongest, parting idea; despite everything covered in the collection, the reader is left with the idea of a dance, something joyful and freeing.’

Derek Sellen for The Poetry Shed

‘The choice of seventeen-syllable stanzas is far from limiting; one of the wonders of this book is the variety and nuance which she imparts in such small packets of verse. These are not ‘haiku’ as such but, like the haiku, they are spare and densely significant, the carriers of reverberations and tensions it is important not to miss. She has used this form before in previous collections and her control of it is impressive.’

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Words on Waves moves to the Umbrella Café #Whitstable

Our next monthly poetry and prose event in Whitstable, this coming Thursday, 7 November, 2019, brings the city to the seaside. Our featured writers from CANTERBURY’S SAVEAS WRITERS are Gary Studley, Jeffrey Loffman, Derek Sellen and Mary Anne Smith.

There will be an OPEN MIC too with up to 10 slots of five minutes each –

just sign up with Rosie on the evening. 

WE HAVE A CHANGE OF VENUE – we’re moving to Whitstable’s marvellous UMBRELLA CAFE on Oxford Street, opposite the Fish Slab Gallery. Look for the lane to the left of the main Umbrella Centre and follow the signs. ENTRY WILL BE FREE and we’ll be able to enjoy the lovely licensed café with hot drinks, soup, and fantastic cakes that they bake themselves. The Umbrella is a community-based café that operates Pay It Forward

Here are our readers –

Derek has won prizes for poetry, plays and short stories, including Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2018. His favourably reviewed recent collection, The Other Guernica, is inspired by Spanish art.

Jeff was born in London, grew up in Yorkshire and is a workshop leader and event organiser. His prompters are Hill, Jones, Bunting, Duncan, Hughes, history and place and his latest book is BREATH-TAKING: A Geography.

Mary Anne is well known to north Kent audiences. Her work has been recognised in both national and international competitions, including first prizes in O’Bheal Five Words and Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and is also widely published and broadcast.

Gary leads Dead Hoarse Writers and Writing For Life. An art & writing tutor, compere, and writer of prize-winning poetry & prose, Gary has worked with Marlowe Theatre, English Heritage, Canterbury Festival & Porchlight.

Harbour Books is sadly unable to host these events any longer. We will always be grateful to them for instigating Words on Waves and giving us all such a marvellous welcome. This prize-winning little book shop is the perfect place for your Christmas shopping and we send Keith and all the staff our very warmest wishes.

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Library display for Churchill Writers

This photo is on the gloomy side but maybe you can see the shine in our hearts. We’re the Churchill College writing group, last Saturday, enjoying our beautiful display in the college by librarian Annie Gleeson. Writers represented on the table are Michael Smyth, Pete Chown, Gervase Vernon, Harley Farmer, Helen Mulligan (the poster is for her  film ‘ExAudio’, shot in the Moller Centre), poet Liz Forte and myself. I am so proud of everyone in the group and of the wonderful friendships we’ve made over the years.

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Howling at the moon

My writing group in Churchill College, Cambridge has been meeting 12 times a year since 2011. Several of the original members still come and have become great friends. The college librarian suggested in the summer that she display our published work in the library. Well – writing can feel like solitary howling at the moon but look what the group has come up with! I’m so proud of them and show this here to encourage you too.

Library display Oct 2019

 

Belfast Lapwing events on 20 September & 4 October – please come!

Once in a blue moon I get the chance to read my poetry in my home city Belfast but very soon I’ll be there twice! We’re celebrating 40 years of wonderful Lapwing Publications and its heart and soul, Dennis and Rene Greig.

Friday 20 September at the Linen Hall Library

On Friday 20 September – a week tomorrow – between 1 and 2.30pm, poets and friends of Dennis and Rene will read and reminisce at Belfast’s Linen Hall Library. The line-up includes Fred Johnston, Moyra Donaldson, Sam Burnside, Peter Pegnall and myself. Dennis and Rene will be there (all being well) and Damian Smyth will be our master of ceremonies. What a line-up! I’m honoured to be included in what promises to be a unique, amazing event. 

Friday 4 October at the Crescent Arts Centre

Lapwing celebrations continue on Friday 4 October at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast from 6pm. Lapwing poets are flying in from all over the place, again to celebrate Dennis and Rene and their marvellous work at Lapwing for 40 years and counting. The line-up so far includes (in no particular order) Alistair Graham, John McGuckian, Shelley Tracey, Fiona Sinclair, Lorna Shaughnessy, Damian Smyth (this time as poet), and again Moyra Donaldson, Peter Pegnall and myself. Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, current Ireland Professor of Poetry is listed too! Another amazing night not to be missed.

Please come if you can to either or both events and say hello.

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