‘Chimney-Bird’, the poem which won the Southport competition, is now on their website, at: http://www.swconline.co.uk/n1/?cat=12

I’ve also been lucky enough to have a couple of poems accepted by The Journal, namely ‘Behind Kibuye Church’ and ‘Letter to the Dead’. These are both interesting poems to me, in that they came out of the Women and Warfare work I was doing in 2010, so it’s good that those poems are still finding homes.

Most of the 70 or so poems I wrote then  these days I find rather slight, but a handful do seem worthwhile, and ‘Behind Kibuye Church’ is one of these. Tackling a subject such as genocide which, of course, I cannot know the reality of in any meaningful way, is a tough thing to get an “honest” poem out of. ‘Letter to the Dead’ is one of seven such letters, but probably the most interesting of them, as I hit on the intriguing idea of using redaction in a poem, to signify censorship, and use the device to indicate the way that a distant soldier is eroded by distance, time and the nature of his situation. (I’ve used redaction again recently, in another poem, but for a different purpose).

It’s that time of year again: Sheffield’s Literary Festival, Off the Shelf. 

It’s a busy time for me. Yesterday I read at John Clare’s cottage in Helpston (it turns out I won second prize). The poems are here: http://www.clarecottage.org/poetryprize.htm

Tomorrow (Monday) I’m in an Off the Shelf debate on the Future of the Book. (Sheffield’s Quaker Meeting House, St James St, Mon, 10th Oct, 7.30. Freed admission.)

Weds: we’re running the usual (free, open invitation) poetry workshop at Bank St Arts Centre (12.00 to 3.00, Bank St, Sheffield). If you want to take part, bring copies of a poem to workshop, and we’ll have a discussion of Sean O-Brien’s November, too.
(Also that evening Rachel Genn launches her novel The Cure at Blackwells – should be a pleasant event).

Thursday I’ll be reading on the Speakers Steps at the House of Commons, again for the John Clare competition  – a strange prize, but an exciting one. Around 11.30, I believe, if you’re in the vicinity.

Monday 17th: I’ve a ten minute reading as part of the launch of new mag Uroborus, at Sheffield’s West Street Live (7.30). Another free event.

Weds 19th: Launch of Matter magazine no #11. I was part of the editorial team, but won’t be reading, merely listening to all the fine contributors (including Fay Musselwhite, Angelina Ayers, Rosemary Badcoe – lots of great writers)

Also sometime “real soon now” as they say in the software industry, I hope to have the website of Sheffield’s Public Poetry available for OTS to launch. This is proving harder than I thought to get together, but I think I’ll make it.

If you want to choose other OTS events, you can find a programme at: http://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/programme.php

And whilst all this is going on, Rosemary and I are putting the first fabulous issue of Antiphon together. I think it’s going to be particularly good and will, naturally enough, post a notice when it’s there for your delight and delectation. (Apologies to all poets who’ve not yet had a decision from us: we both need to agree to a poem before including it, and that’s caused a fair series of debates).

If you’re near Sheffield, and want to give a poetry workshop a try, you may be interested in the one Angelina Ayers and I are running out of Bank Street Art Centre. We’ve run three sessions, and each time the group has grown, but we’ve space for two or three separate groups to meet. We also include a brief discussion of a recent collection (next time, it’s Don Paterson’s Rain. )

If you’re interested, for details check the blog at: http://bankstreetpoets.blogspot.com/

logoSheffield is holding its very first Poetry Festival on the weekend of April 1-3rd, with “fringe” events in the days preceding and following.

You can find out more at: http://www.sheffieldpoetryfestival.org.uk/home.html where you can also download the full festival brochure. There are 34 events to choose from (I’m involved in a couple) including readings by Simon Armitage, George Szirtes, Geoff Hattersley, Geraldine Monk, Helen Mort, Ben Wilkinson, Chris Jones (on the Forward Prize shortlist last year), Elizabeth Barrett, Mark GoodwinMatthew Hollis, Maurice Riordan, Harriet Tarlo, local laureates Ann Atkinson and River Wolton and many local poets, less well known, but well worth hearing nevertheless.

The group I belong to, The Tuesday Poets, have a themed event “Out of Place” planned for March 29th, 7.30 at Bank Street Arts.

There are also launches of new books, an event for children, a poetry walk, a garden party, talks, social gatherings where you can meet many of the poets taking part and even a “poetry university challenge” in which notables from the two Sheffield universities show how little they really know about poetry.

It’s bound to be fun and interesting. Some of it might be exciting. If its successful, the hope is to make it a regular event, so please come along and support it.

is the name of an anthology to be published by Cinnamon Press in Spring 2011. I’ll have four poems in it, as I was shortlisted in their pamphlet competition (but didn’t make the final cut). The poems are: Litany (I wrote for my daughter, Natasha); In the Vice Provost’s Garden (which was written actually overlooking the garden of the vice provost of King’s College, Cambridge); Seven Summers (a sequence of seven haiku I wrote for the Sheffield Haiku trail, describing seven distinct summers of my life); and, The Song of Yellow Skin, which is one of the poems from my woman and warfare sequence on Kim Phuc. Strangely now, four of those six poems have been taken, but not the key, central, poem See Kim Run (although thei was recently workshopped by Michael Laskey, so maybe I’ve now an improved version).

Here’s an update of my events in the near future (mainly within Off the Shelf).

Oct 6th, 20th and 27th, 5pm till 7: Poetry workshop, Methodist Chapel, Denby Dale: A free workshop organised by Art in the Park

Oct 9th, 12.30: The Word Tent: Sheffield Town Hall (with Angelina Ayers) – reading. A free event.

Oct 13th, 1-3: Greenhill Library, Sheffield: an introductory workshop for writers. A free event, organised by Art in the Park.

Oct 13th, 7.15: Launch of Matter #10, Readings at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Sheffield. Free.

Oct 21st, 7.00: Readings by Matter #10 writers, Riverside pub, Sheffield. Free.

Oct 23rd, 10am till 4pm: An Art and poetry workshop (with Angelina Ayers), Bank Street Arts Centre, Bank Street, Sheffield. £4/£3 (Supported by Bank St and by Blackwell’s Bookshop)

Oct 26th, 12.30-5.00: Drop in Poetry Clinic, Bank Street Arts Centre, Bank Street, Sheffield. A free resource. Drop in to the poetry cafe anytime for chat, reading, workshopping, discussion of poets and poetry.

Oct 26th, 6.30-10.00pm: Tuesday Poets on a Tuesday, Fusion Cafe, Sheffield. £12 for food. Book in advance.

Nov 4th, 7.00:  Launch of Matter #10, Readings at London Review Bookshop, London. Free.

Oct 9th to Oct 26th: as part of Off the Shelf, we’ve organised a series of “Poets in Residence for a day” at Bank St Arts Centre, Bank St, Sheffield. Come along to work with a different poet every day (except Sundays and Mondays). Twenty different local poets, supported by Noel and Angelina Ayers, will be on hand to help you with your work, or to talk about their own.

It’s busy, busy, busy at the moment.

Sheffield’s Literary Festival, “Off the Shelf” begins in October. I’m in five events, and most of them are attached to other activities. Matter #10 will be launched, a golden magazine, so there’ll be two events launching and reading from it (at Blackwells on 13th Oct and Riverside on 21st Oct) and a third, excitingly, at the London Review  Bookshop (7pm Nov 4th). With Angelina Ayers, we’ll also be Bank Street’s Poetry Cafe reps at the Word Tent Launch of OTS on the 9th Oct. Angelina and I will also be running a day long workshop at Bank St Poetry Cafe linking poetry and art (you get to do a bit of both). I’ll be running a community writing workshop at Greenhill Library in Sheffield on the 13th. Finally, as a member of the brilliant Tuesday Poets we’ll be launching our new CD of poetry on the 26th Oct at Fusion Cafe.

Additionally, for the length and breadth of OTS Angelina and I are organising a “Poet in Residence for a Day” scheme at Bank St, so budding writers can drop on every day and work with a different poet. Some great poets are committing to this idea, making themselves available for what is a programme of free poetry workshops/consultations nearly a month long. I’m not sure there’s been an event like this before.

All of these things, in different ways, need organising and preparing for: whether it’s sorting out a programme, rehearsing, recording, planning the CD or simply encouraging fellow poets to sit in the Poetry Cafe and share their expertise.

But I’m also delivering several workshops for Art in the Park. I did a couple for Nook Lane Junior School, in Stannington and the year 3s seemed to have a great time. They certainly produced dozens of wonderful poems. Today we gave poetry workshops in Wither Woods, at Denby Dale (near Wakefield). Although the weather was a bit fractious, around 30 people turned up to write poems in the woodlands.

If you live in or near Denby Dale, I’m also running a series of free writing workshops in the evenings. Although they’re primarily focused on poetry, I’ll be aiming to deal with the whole range of interests of whoever turns up: whether its short stories, novels, life writing, children’s writing – even journalism, perhaps. You can come along to one session or all of them.

And I’m still continuing with the Poetry Business Writing School. This month we have to write a poem a day for a fortnight, and send six poems for commentary by a fellow poet AND find a poem that we can face receiving feedback on from Michael Laskey, of all people. (And also read Coleridge and Wordsworth in our spare time).

The upshot is, I’ve not been sending out so many poems for publication or competition. It’s nice, therefore, to find this week that readers of Orbis #51 have voted my poem “Presumably Butterflies” the best in the mag, and the Yeovil Poetry Competition gave me a Highly Commended, which is pretty good, too.

Sorry: but this event has been postponed due to technical difficulties. I’ll post an update when I’ve a new date.

If you’re in Sheffield on Weds Sept 1st around 7.30, come to Bank St for a private view of Catalyst.

Catalyst is a new poetry and photography exhibit.  Bank Street Arts writer in residence, Angelina Ayers, invited Sheffield poets to write in response to a photography slideshow called Triptych, curated by James Dodd of Statement Images.  The poems that came from this experience were then sent out to another set of photographers.  These photographers were asked to take images in response to the poems. Catalyst presents the three stages together.

The private viewing will include readings by the poets: Chris Jones (currently shortlisted for the Forward Prize), Matt Black, Matthew Clegg, Mark Goodwin, myself, Fay Musselwhite and Angelina Ayers. Sound artist Hervé Perez from Sndsukinspook Music will also create a live sound installation in response to the images and text.

The event is free, should be interesting, and you’ll be supporting local artists and writers.

You can find more details of the project here: http://www.artsheffield.org/listings/?p=3383 and read Angelina’s blog on her work here: http://angelinaayers.wordpress.com/

Details on finding Bank St are here: http://www.bankstreetarts.com/