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!

A few places left – edit session for The Poetry Business

I’m delighted to be running this close editing poetry session for the wonderful Poetry Business on 22nd Nov, 11.30am. If you’re a poet, wanting feedback on your work, and would like to join in a small, supportive group for a two-hour session focused on editing, then please do sign up! We’ll look at some before and after edit poems and the types of considerations for getting a poem in the best shape it can be.

Details here and details of my work as an editor/mentor here.

Seren launch reading for Flamingo by Kathryn Bevis

I’m so honoured to be a guest reader, along with the brilliant Jonathan Edwards for the launch of the absolutely gorgeous Flamingo by Kathryn Bevis. It’s an honour for so many reasons. As a Welsh poet, it’s great to read with Seren, a fine welsh publisher, and with Jonathan Edwards, a fine Welsh poet, and because Kathryn is a dear poetry friend, who it’s been a joy seeing the momentum of the world discovering her for the incredible poet she is more recently, and, most importantly, because Flamingo is, quite simply, a stunning body of work. For lovers of poetry, or for those who want to fall in love anew, Flamingo by Kathryn Bevis (available here) is a must read! Also, join us!

By the end of the collection, with its sustained group of poems exploring love and mortality, I was in floods of tears, and convinced that this is the most accomplished and emotionally significant group of new poems I have read in a very long time. – Jonathan Edwards

Dear Life at All Good Stuff

Just a note to say, Dear Life, an anthology of poetry and fiction from emerging young writers in the north, is now available at All Good Stuff on Arundel Street in Sheffield, as well as here online. It was a joy to edit this book and I can’t think of a better smorgasbord of delights Christmas present for anyone this year!

All Good Stuff, 72 Arundel St, Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield S1 2NS  Street venue here | AGSFacebook | AGSTwitter

If you hold this book to your ear and really listen, you can hear its heart beating. Powerful, tender and wonderfully unique writing by the next generation of writers in the North. This anthology is quite simply stunning. Vanessa Lampert
Compassionate and quirky, funny and sad, strange and disturbing. A beautifully rich and varied selection from the voices of tomorrowSimon Bestwick

Hello October leaf fall :)

I’ve just driven down a sun-kissed tree-lined street with all the trees scattering their beautiful golden leaves on me like confetti. I love this gorgeous window of seasonal change (before the dark!) Greetings, all, and I hope you are enjoying some autumn leave-fall and all is well.

Very busy here with Hive happenings but a few lovely updates! Firstly, delighted to be in the new Poetry Review thanks to guest editors Hannah Lowe and Kim Moore. It’s a dream come true to make it into this incredible journal, and wow, what a lineup among fine poets like Kathryn Bevis, Caroline Bird and Sharon Olds! You can buy The Poetry Review here.

Also, I’m super excited to be running an edit session for the Brilliant Poetry Business on 22nd Nov. anyone interested can sign up here.

Being a book in a Human Library

Last week, I was delighted to take part in Justine Gaubert’s Human Library as part of the Festival of the Mind. This involved being a human book (!) and two lovely women loaning me out for conversations, alongside a lovely smorgasbord of brilliant women ‘books’. It was such a gorgeous experience and by all accounts, there were many enriched by the conversations they had. I loved the chats I got to have with my two loaners. It was wonderful to find immediate connections over a coffee with a beautiful stranger! More events like this are needed, so nurturing. Thank you Justine for your constant vision and brilliance. I will treasure my book cover!

New Welsh Reader

Lovely to have a poem in the autumn 130 issue of New Welsh Reader! Looks like a very exciting issue with Jonathan Edwards, Rory Waterman & many fine writers. Can’t wait to make time to get stuck in! Many thanks Emily, Edith, Gwen & co at New Welsh Review.  Available here

Look How Alive

Delighted to have worked with Hive young poet Lauren Hollingsworth Smith to edit her first full-length collection, Look How Alive, at the bonkers age of 20! It’s a brilliant, vulnerable, unapologetic read and I’m so proud of her. Lauren first joined us at Rotherham Young Writers when she was around 15 and I had the privilege of watching her grow into her voice through the group. At 18 she was a winner of the New Poets Prize with her debut pamphlet Ugly Bird. When she moved to uni she joined the Hive Poetry Collective I run online. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Lauren over the years and seeing her go from strength to strength. 

Lauren launches Look How Alive (Write Bloody UK) on Saturday 1st Oct at Dina Sheffield. Supporting poets include Iain Whiteley and another (TBC).