Busy July

Greetings August! Just a little update on a very busy time. In July, I was delighted to be part of a brilliant panel (with the inspirational George Bastow and Pippa Hennessey) at Writing West Midlands National Writers Conference 2023, on all things supporting neurodiverse writers. It felt like the dream team and we really seemed to work in sync to get across everything we’d been discussing beforehand. The conference in general was brilliant (and I saw some lovely writer friends I’ve taught and mentored but who I’ve only previously met on Zoom!) A fab day and I left energised and inspired. Thanks to my fellow panellists, George and Pippa and to Jonathan Davidson and Emma Boniwell at WWM.

I so enjoyed running an odes masterclass for the mighty Arvon at the end of July. It’s been a long time dream of mine to teach for Arvon and despite me being unsure about the webinar format beforehand, I think it went pretty well. I got some lovely feedback that warmed my cockles!

Congratulations to poet Kathryn Bevis for her Forward shortlisting for the stunning ‘My body tells me that she’s filing for divorce’. Kathryn was kind enough to mention my work in her Forward interview (which is nuts because I’m her fangirl!) And to Hive spoken word poet and rapper, Dominic Heslop, who has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship that I was honoured to write a reference for. I’ve mentored Dom through his rocky younger years and am so proud to see the person he’s grown into and what he’s achieving through Slambarz.

And I’ve just got a copy of Obsessed with Pipework, hot off the press, with a few of my poems in. Anyway, I hope whatever you’re doing, the sun is out 🙂

The Rialto & NAWE

Well, look at this thing of great beauty! The cover of The Rialto’s anthology to celebrate 100 issues (1984 to 2023) Poetry with an Axe to Grind. The fact that my poem stood out in Michael Mackmin’s revisiting of 100 issues, was a very lovely boost indeed. And the company it’s in! Work from poets such as Simon Armitage, Pascale Petit, Les Murray, Carol Ann Duffy and Catherine Smith. It’s chock-full of wonderful poems and you can get hold of a copy here.

And just a quick update to say, I’ll be taking part in a writers’ panel focused on Writing with Neurodivergence chaired by Emma Boniwell from  Writing West Midlands at the National Writers’ Conference in Birmingham on 8th July along with Pippa Hennessy and George Bastow should anyone be interested. Most details here.

Online Poetry Summer School

Just a quick update to say I’m running this Hive Online Poetry Summer School – Sundays in July 2023 – A set of inspiring online poetry workshops for new or emerging young poets to develop or refresh your poetry writing skills and build more of a body of work. Open to young people aged 17-30 in the north of England & Midlands | more details

Sheaf Poetry Festvial

Such a lovely weekend at Sheaf Poetry Festival. Congrats to Suzannah Evans and Gevi Carver for putting on a really thoughtful and wide-ranging festival. It was an honour to take part in a reading on all things brainwaves and mental states with John McCullough & Naseefa Hamid.

Hive young poets were incredible across so many events including the Saturday showcase with Yomi Sode, who also delivered a wonderful young poets workshop in the morning. I was exhausted at the end of the weekend but fully energised creatively!

Arvon Masterclass (July)

Busy May! Just a wee update with details of an Arvon Masterclass I’m doing on Friday 28th July on all things the modern ode and its elated contemporary variations. Booking here.

Had a gorgeous time at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre of Wales at the end of April, co-tutoring with brilliant Vanessa Lampert on Journey to the Centre of the Poem. We certainly traveled far into many great poems. It was such a gorgeous group and gorgeous weather to boot. Ah, wish I was back there. I miss the woods, the river, the house, the sea!  

Pipework & Sheaf Festival

So pleased to have two poems accepted into the summer issue of the brilliant Obsessed with Pipework journal. Thank you to Penny Sharman and co. I’m also very chuffed to be reading at the Sheaf Poetry Festival in Sheffield at the end of May. The event is Brainwaves: Navigating Our Mental States. I’ll be reading with the fabulous John McCullough and Nafeesa Hamid.

What’s also lovely is that a lot of Hive young poets are reading and doing also at the festival. The full programme can be found at: sheafpoetryfestival.com

The Rialto 100th Edition Anthology

I’m so thrilled to have a poem in The Rialto’s forthcoming anthology – Republic of Poetry: 100 Issues of The Rialto and be in fine company with poets like Raymond Antrobus, Hannah Lowe, Laura Scott and Richard Scott. The Rialto is such a brilliant poetry journal and it made my day, (month year1!) when I had two poems published in it in 2021.

You can book tickets to the launch at National Centre for Writing at 6pm on 27th May 2023 here.

March and Snow!

Just when we thought winter was all over! Actually, hopefully, it is (the snow has melted here today) but still cold though. A wee update. I’m doing this People in Poetry workshop this Wednesday at Bradbury Makers’ Shed, Hillsborough Park, Sheffield, 6.30pm to 8pm for the lovely Rivelin Co. open to folk from Hillsborough & beyond. Do sign up if you’re local and interested in having a go at writing about human doings and beings!

And here’s a photo from the fab Tŷ Newydd retreat I was lucky enough to tutor with the brilliant Russ Litten in February (that was such a lovely warm spring day!). The next one is an adult retreat (two places left) with co-tutor Vanessa Lampert and guest reader Kathryn Bevis in April, details here at Journey to the Centre of the Poem.

Tŷ Newydd & Llanllyfni

Next week I’m off to teach young writers at Tŷ Newydd, the writing centre of Wales. I’m so delighted to be doing this. Teenagers from across Wales will come together and work with myself and the lovely fiction writer Russ Litten. I’ve said this before but, growing up in small-town north Wales back in the 1980s with a 4-channel, sometimes black and white, TV, there really wasn’t anything to encourage or platform writing for young people. I know residential retreats like this can be transformative. I can see from the list, there’s one young person coming from my old school, and I’m just so thrilled to be in the position to enthuse this band of young creatives!

Speaking of Tŷ Newydd and retreats, I’m also incredibly excited to be co-tutoring an adult retreat for the Writing School in April: Journey to the Centre of the Poem with the brilliant Vanessa Lampert and guest poet, Kathryn Bevis.  We’ve endeavoured to keep the retreat as affordable as possible, and much less than the usual cost for these types of retreats but there’s also a discounted bursary place available for anyone who wants to apply.

The dates are 24th – 29th of April and you can find out everything about it here. It’s worth coming for the readings of Vanessa Lampert and Kathryn Bevis alone in my opinion. Both are incredible poets. Kathryn recently delivered a writing day with the Hive Poetry Collective. It was such a magical day. We usually run online so it’s always very special when young poets from across the nearby north come together again to connect and catch up face to face.

I also found out recently where my Welsh grandfather was born and raised before moving to Abergele. I’ve been drawn to tracing both my Welsh and Irish family trees over the last few years and finding out if there’s family I can connect with. Granddad Morris was from the village of Llanllyfni which is actually a short drive from Tŷ Newydd. Welsh was his first language and when he moved to Abergele up the coast, where I grew up, my uncle says he could barely speak English. I really wished I got to meet him but he died before I was born. Sadly I won’t have a chance to visit Llanllyfni next week but I plan to in April.

And to top off this lovely start to the year with exciting happenings in the pipeline, the light is seeping back. My garden is pushing up crocuses and telling me – spring is on its way!

Hello 2023!

I hope the year has started well for you. Very busy here but just wanted to do a little update as it’s been a while. At the end of the year, I was busy delivering a series of creative writing workshops in acute psychiatric wards in Sheffield Hospitals. This is my second year delivering for the Sheffield Health and Social Care Arts Festival and I always love it. The patients and nurses were absolutely brilliant and some wonderful words were written.

I’ve also been putting together a poetry commission for Off the Shelf Festival of Words working with young people from across South Yorkshire schools and the Hive network. I’ve just passed everything to the brilliant filmmaker and audio/visual whizz Kitty Turner, and can’t wait to see the results in February!

I’ve recently been planning for the teaching of a few courses coming up this spring which I’m really excited about! One is a young writer retreat at Ty Newydd Writing Centre in Wales. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to work with young writers in Wales. Growing up in a small Welsh town in the 80s, there really wasn’t anything available to me to develop as (or dream about becoming) a writer. I’m really looking forward to hopefully planting some seeds with local young people!

I’m also currently planning an adult poetry course with Vanessa Lampert and Kathryn Bevis, so excited! More on this soon!