20 Apr 2010

Theatre Royal, Plymouth

My occasional work in schools ratcheted up a notch this January, when the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, contracted me to work on several projects:
1. to lead the youth Theatre 'Young Company' writing group for ten weekly sessions, with a focus on performance poetry/ monologues for performance;
2. to work in two schools - Goosewell Primary and Hyde Park Junior School - for 8 or 10 weekly sessions on the Theatre's 'School Ties' project - writing and completing to performance standard, play-scripts with yr 5 children;
3. and some single sessions with other education or community projects. I can, and will, write more about each of these in forthcoming blogs.

It's just like that saying we have about buses: wait for hours and not a thing, then three come along at once. So after a quiet-ish autumn (a few private clients wanting text; a couple of jobs in schools)I was suddenly looking at full-time work, overall; planning and evaluating sessions at home, writing up the children's work into scripts, commuting to Plymouth most days, in a car with no heating and some dramatic snowy intervals. Juggling this with WEA courses, other occasional work commitments, family, studying...

Snow & ice can be especially annoying in rural areas; the main roads are gritted but the smaller roads are often not. It can be that a longer journey cannot be made because half a mile of small-town lanes have not been gritted. So, poet on the bus, walking the distance from Plymouth City Centre to Theatre Royal's TR2 building on its Cattedown outskirts; two pairs of gloves and a multitude of layers and sturdy boots striding out. I had to treat myself to some new ones, of course.

I loved it. Sometimes it is quite an enjoyable thing to suffer for one's art.

Image: courtesy of Theatre Royal, Plymouth.

Published by Acumen Publications

I have enough poetry to be published in an anthology, and have been thinking for some time about who, in an ideal world, I would like to publish it.
As a newcomer, the larger publishing houses are unlikely to be interested. So I narrowed it down to three or four companies who might like my style, themes, etc; and who are active in the world or both publishing and performing.
I first approached Acumen Publications who have published 2 of my poems and one literary article in their excellent magazine, and who gave me a 'launch' performance during Torbay Poetry Festival 2006 and empolyed me to run a workshop in 2007.

'No, we don't publish any anthologies' said editor Patricia Oxley, in an email. 'But we do publish occasional pamphlets. If you would like me to consider this, please initially send me 6 poems.'

So I did; and then she asked for more; and I now have a pamphlet due out this month (May 2010).
It is called 'The Beckoning Wild' and has a cover picture that is a photograph of a painting by Brenda Rogers. I am really looking forward to it being in the world

ACUMEN POETRY: http://www.acumen-poetry.co.uk/.

'...and then she said...'

Last autumn, I had the privilege of collaborating on the creation of a cabaret in spoken word, with spoken word artist Sara Hurley and musician Rachel Miller. Piloting the event as 'A Feast of Spoken Word' in a charismatic local venue, the St. Lawrence Chapel, in Ashburton. We sold every last ticket as bums crowded seats! Lots of enthusiastic feedback, too.

Since then, we have gone on to tweak our performances a little, have re-branded the show as '..and then she said...' and are looking for bookings. Now. Please contact one of us if you would like to make a booking or see an upcoming show...

The artists: myself - performing ‘Landscape, Portrait,’ a selection of poems.

Sara Hurley: An actor and storyteller by night, and educator and community artist by day. Sara also directs creative arts company ‘Blazing Tales.’

She performs: ‘River’- a celebration of a changing landscape inhabited by haunting memories. Stories of human frailty and failure twist and turn with only the power of the nature at their side. Hear the river’s ancient chorus and see its heart, briefly revealed, in a new show with present day relevance.
‘River’ is composed for The River Dart, in Devon, a place that has inspired many artists over time. It is an invitation to a specific river, although its themes are universal.

Rachel Miller: Musician, Composer, Storyteller.
She performs: 'Selkie', a classic Celtic myth about a seal woman who has her skin stolen by a lonely hunter. It is a soulful and sensual tale of love, loss and longing.
Modern sound technology meets the poetic world of myth and music in these stunning solo shows. Rachel plays a wide variety of musical instruments, live on stage, and builds up evocative and beautiful textures of music and sound that conjure the images and emotions of a tale. The tale is told through a lyrical narrative written by poet Gwen Woolley.

'A mesmerising, hypnotic performance which transports you to another plane. Storytelling at it’s finest’. Barbican Theatre, Plymouth

'A captivating storyteller, creating a rich and atmospheric world, mysterious and delightful"
Sharon Gal, Resonance 104.4FM Radio, London.


Wild Words

This is the name of a class I teach for the Workers Educational Association. It runs every September for 6 weeks, and then January for 6 weeks, in the music room at Foxhole, Dartington, near Totnes in Devon.

I designed the course to encourage new writers to engage more deeply with their own creative process; to understand the unique shape of it, and the forces that reside there. It is crammed with exercises and techniques aimed at enriching language, inviting inspiration and dissolving blocks. We learn practical literary skills, engage with drama games, and use sensual, evocative resources such as fruit or other items from nature; artefacts, clothing, picture cards, published poems. I give a lot of energy and attention to the process and get to know each person's strengths and potentials as best as I can.

My learners always surprise, enthrall, move, and delight me with their work and their progress, and course feedback always leaves me with a beautiful, crystal clear sense of why it is that I do this work.

Further details from www.wea.org.uk

Catching up...

I have been so busy, that I am writing this in retrospect. All my good intentions to keep up have gone the way of the diaries of my youth. The present is always more engaging, the creative impulse always winning over the reflective moment. So, a few fleeting entries here in an attempt to get up to date.

Back in September I attended a workshop led by American Poet Jay Leeming. I love Jay's work - if you haven't come across him, heres his website link:http://www.jayleeming.com

The workshop was organised by Moor Poets, who are a local group that promotes poets, and the reading, writing, and performing of poetry. Their anthology publications are full of high quality work. Here's a link to Moor Poets website too: www.moorpoets.org.uk

Hares logo by Petra Tilly

They have an engaging new pamphlet, 'Wild Thoughts' that came out last year. One of my many tasks was the desktop publishing of all the poems into the booklet - other people had initially been engaged to do the task but had to cancel, and the project had a deadline. Not too demanding a task until I got to the printing. I have vowed before, never to get involved in printing, but what could go wrong, I thought? I had two excellent printing machines to work with. After a few pages rolled out I engaged in yet another tense, painful education about the compatibility of certain printers with certain settings on the software - and this time I absolutely vow to never, ever, ever, get involved in printing in bulk, ever, ever again.

The poems are wonderful, though, and a former student from my creative writing classes has some work in the pamphlet, as do I one written at Jay's workshop.