Tag Archives: Write Out Loud

Here’s One I Wrote Earlier

10 Dec

Hello, dear reader!  (I’m assuming I only have one left now, so long have I been gone).  I’ve been busy since September and here’s an article I wrote, first published in October on the Write Out Loud website, to explain why:

                             My student ID pic

Since graduating with a BA in literature in 2008, it has been my dream to complete an MA in creative writing; specifically, poetry. I knew I needed to mature as a writer, and that happened to coincide with having no money. I was able to apply to Manchester Metropolitan University this summer, however, because a couple of years ago the government introduced student loans for a second degree.

Reader, I was accepted. I was overjoyed, particularly as the news came at the end of Freshers Week, when I was wondering why I hadn’t yet received my rejection email.

A welcome email arrived on the Thursday, from the writing school’s manager; followed by the offer email on Friday, around five pm. I was excited and panicked at the same time: I have to apply for student finance? (You certainly do!) When do I start? (Monday?!). Will I be allowed to attend class if my finance isn’t in place? (Yes). Where do I go? (The old Cornerhouse). What do I do? (Not panic…oops, too late).

My first degree was with the Open University so I was excited to go to a “real” i.e. brick university but, oh, how at first I wish I hadn’t bothered. Two weeks in and it was all YOU OWE US MONEY GIVE US MONEY YOU WILL BE SANCTIONED IF YOU DON’T PAY THE MONEY SHOW US THE MONEY.

I understand that education is big business these days, but please, MMU, don’t invite me at the last minute so that I miss out on the helpful information; leave me to flounder; and then nag me to the death of joy. Truthfully, at this stage I’d be happier with my notebook and pen and just the one degree, thank you very much.

From the ridiculous to the sublime: three weeks in, the course is fabulous. It is challenging and difficult and I am surrounded by so much talent I can’t help feeling they made a mistake when they sent out the offer letter. But you’d have to pry it from my cold, dead Gmail account first.

You know you’ve never had it so good when one of your professors is Michael Symmons Roberts and the other is Carol Ann Duffy. And when the poet laureate hands out free books, takes you across the road to the pub and buys you a drink and, when you ask for some advice says, “That’s what I’m here for,” you know you’ll say: “Here’s the money! I had to sell my children to get it, but it is totally worth it!”

Excited? Yes. Terrified? Yes. Fed up with officialdom? Always. Would I want to be anywhere else? What do you think?


26 Jul

This weekend it’s the Heatons Arts Trail – a bunch of artists in Heaton Moor open their galleries and invite you to look around and, hopefully, buy their work.

Write Out Loud members are supporting the event by tweeting poems.  I’ve written a cycle of 26 haiku  – we call them ‘twaiku’ – about the individual artists, based on the information in the flyer.  I’ll be honest – it’s not my greatest work; but it was fun to do.

I would say check me out at @laughwife and @heatonstwaiku but the first two twaiku I posted have not appeared.  Not that I’m a technept or anything…

If you are an art lovin’ Stopfordian, you should follow the trail.  Details here.  And don’t forget the art gallery

There’s just one annoying thing (no; not the Hub): I have had an earworm all week.  I think ‘Heatons Twaiku’ and I hear ‘Eton Rifles’.  What a Jam!

Poeming Bliss

9 Oct

What a great weekend for me (though possibly not for poetry):

Friday Afternoon:

Poetry reading by Suzanne Batty, followed by a Q&A session and workshop, at Stockport Central Library.

Suzanne Batty

Suzanne read some of her poems (not enough; I could have stood to hear more) and members of the audience (not me) asked intelligent questions (I rest my case).  Then she had the group analyse a couple of poems by other poets, based on National Poetry Day’s [4 October] theme, Stars.  It was like being back with the Open University.  Better than eating Maltesers.

Finally, we had to use the theme to write our own poem.  Ten people produced ten very different poems.  Mine was a complaint about the retirement of the space shuttles.  I’m not talking to NASA at the moment.

The high point of the whole afternoon was wholly unexpected.  A middle-aged man next to me had come along to the reading to experience something new.  He was taken aback to find himself part of a workshop.  He has never written anything in his life, and was embarrassed to admit he only managed three lines. Three lines that proved to be a beautiful haiku.  I was thrilled for him.

I took some pictures of Suzanne but my camera and I disagree about the use of lighting, so they didn’t turn out.  The camera always wins.  Fortunately, Suzanne had given me permission to lift her photo from her Facebook page.  She really is as nice as she looks.

Saturday Morning:

Poetry workshop at St Peter’s Church Burley Memorial Hall in Waverton, Chester.

Not as grand as it sounds – we drove past it seven times and only found it by accident: stopping to ask directions, I looked out of the window to find we had parked in front of a sign saying, St Peter’s Church Burley Memorial Hall.  A squat but pleasant building.  The vicarage was a manor house and looked bigger than the church.

We had thirty minutes to kill so we popped into the beautiful church to look around.  It is 900 years old, we were told; and we got to touch stone that still has the chisel marks from when it was quarried almost a millennium ago.  A brilliant feeling. I enjoyed it so much, I forgot to take a photograph.

The workshop was fantastic.  Offered by the Church of England and run by the rather sweet Julia McGuiness, it introduced us to ways of writing our faith, using our faith to write (not the same thing), and cinquains.

I think I’m in love.  Cinquains are such fun!  I can’t believe I’ve never written one until the four I now have in my notebook.

Monday Evening:

Write Out Loud at Stockport Art Gallery, while it’s still open.  Poems for the reading of.

Stop the Closure of Stockport Art Gallery and War Memorial during the Week

Part of the Write Out Loud network, we meet on the second Monday in the month to read our poems aloud and sort world affairs.  Not every WOL group is like ours: many of them are proper open mic events.  Our group is small and everybody knows everybody else and it has simply fallen into this particular pattern.

We might not be around much longer.  Stockport Council wants to close the art gallery Monday-to-Friday, including our indoor War Memorial, and install just the permanent collection and nothing else.

I intend to write a poem in protest.

If you think stabbing a knife into the heart of the arts in Stockport is outrageous; and closing a War Memorial five days a week is a slight to those who fought and died in several war, then please sign this e-petition: 


The Council’s perfidy aside, I had a lovely weekend.  

Net Result:

  • 4 Days
  • 3 Events
  • 13 Poems (unlucky for some)
  • 1 Happy Tilly
  • 1 Gushing Post

Find Me On The Bolton Arts Trail

25 Jun

Write Out Loud

I am a member of Write Out Loud, an organisation bringing poetry to the masses.  Sometimes the masses don’t want poetry, but we bring it to ’em anyway.

In practical terms, what this means is I check the website every day and enter all free competitions.  I was a regular at the Stockport monthly WOL meeting until last year, but life got in the way; as well as my fear of reading my writing out loud.  Then Julian Jordan, the WOL founder and a very nice man, guilted me into attending the June meeting, and I enjoyed myself so much I am confident I will once more be a regular.

Write Out Loud have meetings all over the country.  The aim is simply to encourage poetry performance, and everybody is welcome.  I keep a link in my blogroll, so check it out.

WOL works in creative partnership with Bolton University, which is where the title of this post comes in; I’ll let Julian explain:

One day, perhaps all towns will be like Bolton, which had an original poem on display in each of 36 town-centre shops, cafés, hairdressers and the theatre, so as to bring poetry to a wider audience. It was all part of a town-wide arts festival running from 15-21 June […] The poems were selected from 175 total entries submitted by members of the Write Out Loud website online poetry community which was created in Bolton in 2006. Though most are locally-produced, displayed work comes from as far afield as Chicago…

Other arts stuff was going on, of course; but I am a self-absorbed poet (aren’t we all?) so I was only interested in the fact that three of my poems were selected.  I dragooned the Hub and Spud on Thursday afternoon so we could check them out.  I know many of you can’t make it to Bolton, or travel back in time, so here is a mini-trail, created especially for you:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sigh.  As usual, my techneptitude slaps my self-promotion into place.  Picture no.12 should read:

12. Finally, pose with the warm and friendly man, Ishtiaq: Amore furniture store manager, who offered us tea, coffee and discount on anything we buy, as well as professing to love my poem.  The treasure at the end of the trail!

And the tapestry photo should read:

9. Stop to admire the art work.

What a great idea Bolton had; it gave me the best day out I’ve had in ages.

UPDATE: If you can’t read the poems in the photographs and would like to, click on this link.

Wining And Lining

12 Jul
Portrait of Francois de le Boë Sylvius and his...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m a member of Write Out Loud, an organisation that promotes the reading of poetry aloud.  ‘Member’ is a strong word: all that is required is to show up and read.  No fees, no forms, just a love of poetry and a working mouth.  The Stockport group meets every second Sunday of the month at Stockport Art Gallery, upstairs.

Upstairs because the Art Gallery Art Group meet downstairs every Monday.  We don’t mind, because it means we only have to pay 25p for a brew in the break, instead of the 50p that is charged at other times.  Poets tend not to have much money; especially unpublished poets.

The WOL sessions are billed as ‘open mic’, meaning anyone can join in; but there’s no actual microphone at our sessions.  We sit in a circle amongst great, not so great, and, frankly, pretty naff at times, art, fighting the dreadful acoustics as we ignore each other’s work, interspersed with polite clapping and rhubarbing, while we wait for our turn to prove that no one else in the room has talent like we do.  Though that may be just me.

Last night’s session was a little different.  There was a real mic; and an audience.  Dim lights.  No tea.  I knew the Art Gallery was running a festival of sorts and I knew WOL had agreed to run a public session, but it didn’t occur to me that it might be an actual, formal thing, even though I had formally put my name down to read.  What can I say?  I’m a poet: I’m too busy thinking about words to ever listen to them.

I arrived last night to discover that I was to read two poems, eighth on the list, before a microphone.  Gulp.  Double gulp.  Several gulps, fortunately, because there was wine instead of tea (no charge) and my spot was after the break so I had time for a little Dutch courage.

I have always wondered about the phrase ‘Dutch courage’ so, in order to give me time to think about where my next paragraph is coming from, I Wikipediaed it.  I might have known: it is of Dutch origin.  Or Dutch gin, to be precise:

In 1650 Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch doctor, created Dutch gin in an attempt create a diuretic medicine. This was then used by soldiers in the Thirty Years’ War by English troops and was an instant success for its warming properties on the body in cold weather and its calming effects before battle. Because of the effects of Dutch gin English soldiers fighting in the Dutch Republic in the 17th century apparently called the drink “Dutch Courage”.

Feeling slightly Hollandaised in my Netherlands, I got up in front of the mic, read my two poems, and sat down again.  Aren’t you proud of me?

Every recital teaches you something (my last one taught me how to shout over a heckling, dancing audience); this one taught me to choose my poems carefully if I don’t want to bore people.  My second poem was a fun poke at a A Tale Of Two Cities, into which I have shoehorned every Dickens title I can.  That’s great for an audience of, say, literature graduates or old people who got a real education before the Sixties; not so great for a bunch of twenty-somethings who pass their English exam by being taught certain passages only of a Shakespeare text, never having to read the whole thing.

To be fair, however, I’m only surmising the audience didn’t like it – I never actually looked at them the whole time I was up there.  I have the same problem when I read the lesson at church: I have no idea what the building looks like from the front, because I only see the words and the carpet.  I can’t believe I once dreamed of being an actress.  Though many of them do appear to spend their time looking at the ceiling these days, so I’d probably fit in.

We had more than double our numbers last night, and several children.  A boy of eleven read a wonderful poem that he’d written about being a pirate; and it was better than some stuff I’ve heard by professionals.  He was the youngest to read, and his grandmother the eldest.

It was an enjoyable night, and I’m thinking of moving to Holland as a result.  Their courage is way better than ours.



Pride Goes Before Destruction; And Vanity Before A Fall

15 Feb

Remember my boast the other day: I have always looked younger than my years?

Apparently not.

Last night at Write Out Loud (a poetry-reading group), another member – who genuinely meant no offence – asked me if my daughter was fetching my cup of tea.  ‘My daughter’ being the woman sat on my other side, who has ten years at most on me.

Where’s my wheelchair?

Write Out Loud By All Means, Tilly Bud; But Please Don’t Talk Out Loud

15 Jun

I went to Stockport Write Out Loud last night at the art gallery. I managed to read four of my – admittedly short – poems without hyperventilating. I was pleased not to make a fool of myself.

I had on the same clothes all day, just changing into comfy shoes to go out to WOL.  When I popped to the loo at tea time, I discovered a split seam in the nether regions of my trousers. I wonder if they were like that all day? I did get lots of smiles, come to think of it….

Never mind. I was cheered up by seeing all of my writing buddies again. Some of them very kindly remembered that I had been going for an interview last time I saw them, and asked how it went. When I told them I didn’t get the job, I could see the embarrassed head tilts-come-smiles sliding into pity so I cheerfully pointed downstairs and said, ‘Don’t worry; I’m starting a new fashion line in crotchless pants.’

I’m so glad I didn’t make a fool of myself.


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