We all know that poems can be beautiful things, powerful things. A poem can make you laugh, cry, all the cliches but occasionally poems are presented in a beautiful way too; one of these is in Maria Isakova Bennett’s glorious stitched journals, Coast to Coast to Coast. I was lucky enough to be included in the summer edition and was so excited to open the envelope when my copy came. As you can see, a thing of beauty.
Maria is also a poet in residence at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and is producing a special Aldeburgh edition of the journal. The brief was to spend an hour in a chosen location on a coast or by a river or lakeside and using as inspiration a favourite poem that links sea, coast, river or lakes and/or lines from excerpts of poems that Maria gave; write your own poem. The place I chose was Stickle tarn in the Lake District, just as the sun was going down one summer evening…
The journal is being launched at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on November 8th. Aldeburgh is a unique festival, a high quality series of workshops and readings set against a soundscape of the waves breaking on the pebbly Suffolk beach, not to be missed.
More information on Maria and Coast to Coast to Coast and Poetry in Aldeburgh can be found here;
Not long to go now, the week long folk extravaganza that is Sidmouth Folk Festival is only a couple of weeks away! Music, dance, singing, storytelling and now poetry are all on the programme. In the elegant and relaxed atmosphere of the Drawing room of the Royal Glen Hotel from 11.30- 1pm Sunday to Thursday, we’ll be using a variety of prompts and devices to stimulate our poetry brains. No previous writing experience is necessary, the workshops are suitable for novices as well as more experienced writers. They are stand alone but the more you come to, the more fun you’ll have! The subjects for this year’s workshops include ‘poetry of sound and silence’, ‘how to write a ballad’ and ‘poetry games’. If you’ve never experienced ‘Poetry Countdown’ or ‘Poetry what’s in the Bag?’ come along and find out! There’s also a chance to perform in the poetry slot in the Friday Morning Showcase concert.
New for this year is also Sidmouth’s first Poetry Open Mic. It will be held at The Woodlands Hotel on Tuesday 6th August from 5-7pm. Sign up on the door to read for up to four minutes, either your own work or bring along a favourite poem or two you’d like to share. Experienced writers or new poets welcome, or if you don’t want to read, the Woodlands is a perfect place to relax for a couple of hours and just listen to poetry. There will also be a chance to hear me read, I can always guarantee some poems about animals but also watch out for one or two about Morris dancing! I will be joined by a local poet, the amazing Jan Dean, whose work as a Poet-in-Schools has inspired new generations. She also writes ‘Poetry for grown-ups’ and her reading style and unique take on life are guaranteed to have you entertained and enthralled.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What can we do in the face of the challenges that we are presented with either on a personal or global level but use what skills we have in any way we can? For this reason and because I believe passionately about the responsibility we have to care for our environment, I will be joining fellow poets to read at an evening of poetry in support of the XR and Fridays for Future Movements at the Waterside Cafe in Kendal on Sunday 23rd June 7-9pm. Hosted by Grey Hen Press it will feature readers from Dove Cottage Poets, The Brewery Poets and others from Cumbria and Beyond. There is a £5 donation on the door and all proceeds will go to the UK Youth Climate Coalition.
I’ve just realised that the poem we created in the poetry workshops last year is up on the Festival website! We had such a great time, the participants were enthusiastic and inspiring, all I really had to do was draw the whole thing together. I’m running the workshops again this year, they are open to all ages and suitable for people that write poems regularly or people that have never written one before. Rumours are, there’ll also be an open mic this year…
Do come and join me, you can just come to the poetry events or join in with some of the other amazing music, singing or dancing events. Folk week really is one of the most special weeks of the year, ‘a rainbow coloured riot of colour and sound’
I’m really looking forward to reading at the Seren Poetry Festival in February. What a fantastic series of readings and lectures. I’ll be reading at the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet prizewinners lunch on Sunday 10th and am excited to meet the prizewinners from other years. You can book tickets from the above website.
After the success of the Kimpton Folk Festival poetry workshop, it’s on to Sidmouth Folk Week 3rd- 10th August. I’ll be holding five poetry writing workshops from Sunday to Thursday at the lovely Royal Glen Hotel, 11.30am – 1pm. These are stand alone workshops so you can come to individual ones or even better all five. We’ll be reading poems about the sea and ballads about doomed lovers ( always a popular folk theme!) and then using these and other writing prompts to write our own poems. There’s also a chance to read poems written during the week at the Friday showcase concert. It’s the first time there’s been poetry at Sidmouth, so a chance to show how poetry fits in anywhere. You can also swim in the sea, eat lots of ice cream, dance the night away as various ceilidhs and listen to some of the best folk music in the world, how exciting is that!
Good news, due to some extra funding the workshops at Kimpton Folk Festival are now absolutely free! The weather is set to be perfect, so what better way to spend a day; a poetry workshop at 2pm, then relaxing with a drink on the village green listening to some amazing music, a story or two, then going to a ceilidh or a concert. Sounds perfect to me, see you there!
Poetry is being added into the mix of music , dance and storytelling this year and I’m delighted to be running a poetry workshop in the afternoon. Kimpton Folk Festival is a lovely one day festival in the village of Kimpton in Hertfordshire. There’s plenty to do and see including dancing, a variety of workshops, open mic concerts, real ales, artisan street food, crafts, children’s games, buskers, storytellers, ceilidh- and a full day of free concerts on the village green.
Come along and try your hand!
First exciting news of 2018! – Sidmouth Folk Festival the amazing week long celebration of music, song and dance that has been part of the festival calendar since 1955 is introducing poetry workshops this year and I’ll be running them! The festival in Devon is known for featuring established stars of the folk scene as well as emerging artists and has a huge range of concerts, sessions, ceilidhs, talks, story telling and spectacular dance displays as well as over 200 workshops. Accompanied by the sound of seagulls and Morris dancers, I’ll be showing you that anyone can write a poem, all you need is a pen, some paper and your imagination.
No two days as a veterinary surgeon are the same and nothing can prepare you for the constant upheaval in your emotions. I’ve sat on the floor with a distraught drug addict unable to come to terms with his dog’s terminal illness. I’ve been spat on, sworn at and threatened. I’ve also been trusted, respected and loved. I’ve seen cases of cruelty and neglect but also moments of extreme tenderness and dedication, I’ve known people go without food so they can afford medication for their pets and I’ve known people whose only reason for getting up in the morning is their animals. The consulting room is a privileged place and consulting effectively is an art as well as a science. The ability to draw out the back story and to get to the heart of the matter is a skill that is learnt over time. The farm is also a unique environment and farmers have that particular mix of bluntness and practical capability, there’s a roughness there but a gentleness too. The beasts they look after have an honesty and in the case of cattle and horses a majesty as well, which I still find awe inspiring. Seeing people’s interactions with their animals is a window into their own emotions and whatever secrets people have they can rarely conceal the truth where their pets are concerned.
This is an extract from an article I wrote for Poetry News earlier this year.