The writer is a lonely hunter

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Happenings in Dorchester

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I was invited to the launch of the Dorchester Literary Festival last week to represent the Dorset Writers’ Network. Held at Duke’s Fine Art Salesrooms there was a mingling of sponsors and supporters plus writers including Kate Adie. It was a splendid event and included the launch of a new competition. The DFL Local Writing Prize invites self-published authors in the South West (and those who have been published by an independent publisher in the South West) to submit copies of their full-length fiction or non-fiction books for this prize. This is a wonderful opportunity for a local writer to gain national recognition and a chance to win £1000. Find more details here.

While I was happy chatting with fellow DFL volunteers, my friend decided we should make an effort to talk to others. We introduced ourselves group who turned out to work for WessexFM and Breakfast in Dorchester. This was the most successful piece of networking I’ve ever done! The next day I was contacted by Breakfast in Dorchester and invited to talk about National Poetry Day. You can hear the recording of me (I speak at 1:57:39, Sarah Barr at 42:41 and Myriam San Marco, Bournemouth Poet Laureate at 1:19:30) by clicking here. (The recording is available until 27 October 2017.)

As part of the interview, I was able to promote the Dorset Writers’ Network Open House at Dorchester Library on 7 October from 10am-1pm. This is a free event for anyone who is interested in writing. Whether you’re new to writing or want to make a start, we can offer advice and encouragement. If you’re a published writer wishing to meet others, the Dorset Writers’ Network is here to support you. I hope to see some of you on Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry and Prose Performance Workshop

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Rob Casey

On Saturday 10 June, I joined sixteen other writers attending Rob Casey’s workshop at The White Room, in the Chapel in the Garden, Bridport. The building is set back from East Street and provides a delightful oasis on a busy market morning. We had such fun trying out ways of how-not-to perform and of course, there were plenty of tips and advice to get the delivery right. Rob had us working in small groups to share ideas and generate writing for development. It was great to hear other people’s work and learn from an experienced performance poet.

Rob is one of the founders of the Apothecary Open Mic, poetry and spoken word event that is held regularly at the Beach and Barnicott in Bridport. For more information see the Apothecary Facebook page.

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Interview on UK Talk Radio

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I was invited by Jonathan Hines to join him for an interview on UK Talk Radio to share  my experiences as a writer. The office and recording studio are located in Poole and following a drive through the rain, I arrived. Jonathan is very personable and soon put me at ease. I chatted with him before the recording began and then he started on the questions. It was a lot of fun – and a great opportunity to talk about my writing.

The interview is scheduled to be aired again on Sunday 11 June 2017. If you’d like to listen, click here and tune in around noon.

Jonathan is looking to work with more authors so if you would like to take part in this series of interviews, please email jonathan.hines@uktalkradio.org to express your interest.

 

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Mother’s Milk Books

I am delighted that my poem ‘After’ has been commended in the 2016 Mother’s Milk Writing Prize. In an email from the publisher, Dr Teika Bellamy, the following feedback from the  judge, Becky Cherriman, was shared:

After: a short poem that centres around one unexpected image of a new mother sucking her thumb. I like the ambiguity conjured by the poem’s title and the question in the penultimate line.

I’ve pasted the poem below. Do you agree with the judge?

After

Rolling on my side, the mattress gives.

With my chin against my knees,

I knot my ankles:

try holding myself together.

A trolley rattling with cups echoes

through air thick with disinfectant.

Unclenching my jaw, my parted lips

ache: they’re a target for my thumb.

With the pad, I trace the roof-ridges

of my mouth, make a vacuum

with my tongue and wonder:

where is the babe?

who is the mum?

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Performance Prose and Poetry workshop with Rob Casey

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For more information and to book see Dorset Writers’ Network

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Retreats for You with Debbie Flint

I met Debbie Flint in 2011 when we both attended a retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre.  (I returned there last year – you can read about my second visit here.) Debbie works as a presenter on QVC shopping channel, has a number of books published, and she’s recently taken over a writing retreat in Devon. It was great to touch base with Debbie again and draw upon her experience as a TV presenter to produce a couple of YouTube clips where I talk about my writing journey. Debbie’s help was invaluable in introducing me to interview techniques, accessing handy tips and supporting me through the process. I’d never done anything like this before so her coaching allowed me to feel confident throughout filming and I’m delighted with the results. You can watch the interviews here.

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Debbie has made Retreats for You into a homely and relaxing place to write and reflect. My window overlooks the square with views onto the fields beyond. There’s no excuse for not getting on with your work as a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided. It’s  also good to be in the company of other writers and tap into the positive energy this creates. A few days away makes all the difference to my word count, I find!

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Writers in the Alley, open mic

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 suzie.suze1@gmail.com.

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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.

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Writers’ Day in Bournemouth

This time last week I was busy preparing a presentation titled Tips and Techniques: the voices of children in adult fiction to deliver as part of the Dorset Writers’ Network Day at Bournemouth Library. I got up early on Saturday to have breakfast and there was time to read over my presentation but when I opened the front door to set off, I found the car was not on the drive. I have been sharing a car with my daughter for a few weeks now. The deal is, I let her know when I want to use it. The arrangements had been communicated but somehow she forgot. I guessed where the car was, about a mile away outside her boyfriend’s house. I began sprinting up the road, only to realise I hadn’t checked in the garage to see if by some miracle, it had been parked in there. Back again, only to find the garage empty. Realising I was in no fit state for an early morning jog, I called a taxi. Meanwhile, with my daughter still not answering her mobile, I tried to make contact with other members of the network to let them know of my predicament. Finally a call came from my daughter who was on her way home. I cancelled the taxi, waited at the top of the road to ensure a swift handover, then sped over to Bournemouth. I arrived with a few minutes to spare for the start of the day. When I recounted my morning’s misadventure, a fellow network member commented that it would make a good start to a story. I’ll keep that in mind for when I’m next short of an idea.

The Writers’ Day was well received by participants and we’re looking forward to another occasion to deliver further input in support of writers in Dorset.

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L-R me, Tracy Baines (DWN), Vickie Goldie (Bournemouth Library) and Helen Baggott (DWN)

 

 

 

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Celebrate National Poetry Day 2016

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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:

Starlings

Side-by-side we sit, watching the wipers swipe

pollution-stained raindrops.

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.

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Beaumont Park Poetry Trail

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.

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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 »

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