There is a friendly and talented group of writers who meet in Dorchester on the first Wednesday of each month. They are known as Writers in the Alley due to the venue, a room sometimes used for playing skittles at Goldie’s Bar, 36 High East Street. Regular meetings are held at 7pm for a 7:30 start. Members support each other by showing a positive interest in the writing shared. On Wednesday 5 April, the group is hosting a second open mic session, so if you’re in Dorchester this is well worth attending. Go along to hear some wonderful poetry and prose presented in a variety of forms or bring your own writing to read or perform. I attended an open mic held in the autumn and it was great to find a receptive audience for my poetry. You can find Writers in the Alley on Facebook or contact the organiser on email@example.com.
I’m really disappointed I won’t be able to attend this open mic as I’m away from home at the beginning of April. Luckily Writers in the Alley are planning to make the open mic session a regular event so I hope to be there next time.
Myriam San Marco and me
National Poetry Day was founded by the Forward Arts Foundation to promote a love of reading and sharing poetry. Each year there is a different theme and in 2016 the focus is ‘messages’. A poetry and flash fiction competition was organised by Bournemouth Poet Laureate, Myriam San Marco, to celebrate this national event. I am delighted that my poem Starlings was awarded first prize in the poetry competition and my short fiction In the Highlands came runner-up in the flash fiction section.
Myriam is doing a great job in promoting the work of local poets and I’m indebted to her for providing this opportunity. I’d also like to thank poetry judge Louisa Adjoa Parker for selecting my poem and the feedback she provided. Thank you also to James Cole who acted as a judge for the flash fiction competition. Congratulations to Sally Lewis for taking first prize for her flash fiction piece about texting. At a celebration on 5 October in The Winchester, there was a chance to hear the winning and highly commended entries. I especially liked the superb performance by Kech Wo.
This success has given a huge boost to my confidence and I’m keen to develop further poetry. My aim is to create a series of connected poems and I’m looking forward to making progress towards this goal.
Here is the winning poem:
Side-by-side we sit, watching the wipers swipe
You gnaw tags of skin beside your nails,
I grip the steering wheel like a life buoy.
Staring ahead, I pose the questions
you don’t want to answer.
Talking from the side of your mouth,
you dismiss the concerns that fill my head
like murmurating starlings.
Beaumont Park is a fabulous 20 acre site on the outskirts of Huddersfield. Constructed in 1880s it was accessed by a tramway from the town and boasted a castle, pavilion and bandstand. According to Henry F Beaumont, the landowner who provided fields for the conversion, ‘Parks are necessary for large and populous towns to increase the happiness and promote good health and elevate the minds of people.’
The Friends of Beaumont Park work with Kirklees Council to restore the park and I’m proud to be part of a project which aims to bring art and nature together. My poem, Walk was selected from entries to the poetry trail competition and is now on permanent display.
My poem is one of 25 included in the poetry trail. The acrylic plaques work well displaying every 12 line poem to great effect. It’s wonderful to wander around the gardens and read poetry written by the very young and the more mature. Indeed, I was so impressed with the whole idea of bringing poetry into a public space, I talked with one of the organisers of the poetry trail to find out whether is possible replicate the project elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »
In January, I joined a series of training sessions delivered by Simon McCormack as part of the Lit Up! project. The sessions to support skills and confidence in writing workshop facilitation were excellent and I met a very talented group of writers through the work. Simon is now writer-in-residence at Lighthouse, Poole, a centre that provides live events, films and visual art. As part of his new role, Simon has become editor of a new literary magazine titled ‘The Beacon’ which will launch in October. For writers in Poole and surrounding areas, see your work in print by entering submissions of poetry, flash fiction or short fiction with the theme of ‘performance’. For further details, please see the poster.
I’ve taken some advice and rewritten my writer’s bio in the form of a poem. Here it is – see what you think!
hardworking between episodes of musing, driven and reflective.
Daughter of a man whose dreams withered,
lover of long horizons.
Who feels alive when the sun drenches,
who needs quiet spaces,
who gives ribbons of guidance,
who fears she’ll be unmasked as a fraud,
who would like the bearable lightness of being.
Resident of an eternal spring.
During the latest Lit Up professional development training for facilitators, activities to develop autobiographical prose and poetry were presented. Participants responded to the very structured tasks in a deeply imaginative way and this impressed me so much, that I thought I’d share the activities here. To create a 10-line poem, respond to the prompts in the centre column by recording your ideas in the third column.
||Your given name
||List 4 of your traits
||Complete the line
||Daughter of/Son of…
||Who would like…
Another idea uses free writing where every sentence begins with the words I am… Have a go with these activities and let me know how you get on!