From Organ Pipes in London to Masks in Swindon

Somewhere Else member Iris Anne Lewis reports on a weekend packed with poetry.

It was Swindon’s Big Poetry Weekend from October 4th to October 6th, with a range of workshops, readings and meeting up with poetry friends, old and new, all at the Richard Jefferies Museum. The Festival had a transatlantic feel to it this year, with digital poet Dave Bonta from Pennsylvania talking about poetry film, Nuar Alsadir from New York as poet in residence, and Jennifer Militello from New Hampshire leading a workshop and giving a reading.
The first day of the Festival coincided with a Camden Poetry Series event in London, at which I had been invited to read, so after attending a morning workshop on ‘Writing Obsession’ with Jenifer Militello, it was off to London for my own reading in Camden. The event was in aid of cold weather shelters for the homeless and was held in Trinity United Reform Church — the same venue that acts as the cold weather shelter It was the first time I had read in front of an imposing set of organ pipes but any initial feeling of intimidation while waiting for people to take their seats was soon dispelled by the warmth of the welcome by organisers and audience. Then it was back home for a good night’s sleep before two full days of poetry in Swindon.
Saturday morning kicked off with a workshop with Fiona Benson on letting different voices into our poems. For this we each had to don a mask and enter into a different persona as embodied by the mask — I had great fun striding around the room as a rather angry man. The rest of the day was less energetic with readings from well known poets; Carrie Etter in conversation with poetry publishers Claire Crowther (Long Poem Magazine) and Sarah Leavesley (V. Press);  and the Battered Moons prize giving.
Another workshop on Sunday morning — Letters to the World. Led by Zoe Brigley, a Welsh poet who now works  as assistant professor at Ohio State University, we explored what we might learn from the intimacy and directness of writing a letter. More readings in the afternoon, from poets, both international and local, well established and recently published. The Festival finished with the Domestic Cherry launch party, with special guest Julia Webb and hosted by Hilda Sheehan, as usual in playful mood.
Then it was off home, with a bag full of books, a head full of ideas and a sense of belonging to a warm and welcoming community.


An Ordinary House

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Clare Finnimore’s script ‘An Ordinary House’ has been accepted by Ragged Foils for their next Ragged Scratch Podcast.

Directed by Natalie Winter, the play is currently being rehearsed in London. ‘An Ordinary House’ explores the lives of those left behind when their sister and daughter goes to war. It will feature the voices of Amber Muldoon, Jamie Newall, Florence Olivea and Sharita Oomeer.

Sowing Light

ThreeDropsFromACauldronSowing Light, a fable inspired by a wind farm in The Channel on a family holiday, has just been published in Issue 27 of the quarterly online journal Three Drops from a Cauldron.
Frank McMahon said: “One of my grandsons asked what the wind farm was. As I struggled to explain the physics in simple words, my mind shifted to a more magical frame.”
The story opens with these lines:

“Enough!” she cried out loud, “I’ve had enough 

of treading clods, breaking ploughs on flint 

and chalk. And growing nothing more than docks 

or charlock. Look at my fingers, knuckle and bone, 

frayed by frost and wind. And I’ve done with fishing! 

Arms scabbed by salt, worn thin from battling tides; 

my back bent by the rain’s constant hammer,  

casting nets for fish who slip away! 

To read more click here.

  • Three Drops from a Cauldron welcomes submissions of poetry and flash fiction involving myth, legend, folklaw, fable and fairytale. More details can be found on the submissions section of their website.

London Calling

Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 20.21.42If you are in London on Friday October 4th, then it would be lovely to see you at the launch of the Camden Poetry Series anthology A Scream of Many Colours when Somewhere Else member Iris Anne Lewis will be one of the contributors reading their work.

Song for the Yazidi Women was originally published on the I am not a Silent Poet website and can be read hereIris submitted the poem for the anthology back in December 2017. A few months later she heard the poem was accepted and the anthology was finally published this year.

The Camden Poetry Series is part of Camden and Lumen Poetry, a London poetry project in support of cold weather shelters. In A Scream of Many Colours poets were asked to respond to some of the violence and disasters that confront us when we switch on the radio or television. Published by Poetry Space, the Camden launch of the anthology will feature readings from several contributors. 

Proceeds from the evening goes towards cold weather shelters for the homeless and profits from the sale of the anthology will be donated to Médecins san Frontières.

The event includes an Open Mic and will take place at Trinity United Reform Church, 1 Buck St, Camden Town (1-2 mins. Camden Town tube.) 7.00 p.m. (doors open 6.30 p.m.) Entrance £5/£4 concession.

Betrayal at NAWG

NAWG‘Betrayal’ is the theme of this year’s open competition organised by The National Association of Writers’ Groups. They are offering a first prize of £200 to the winning short story and poem chosen by prose judge Tim Wilson and poetry judge Alison Chisholm.

The competition is £5 to enter, or three poems for £10 and the closing date is 30 November. For more details visit their website.

Graffiti: Travelling in Heaven and Hell

68566715_10214741040341006_4380619874574008320_nThe latest edition of the literary magazine Graffiti is out and it features winning stories from Graham Bruce Fletcher and Clare Finnimore. The theme for this edition is ‘Travelling in Heaven and Hell’.

Graham’s story ‘Begging for it’ is about a boy travelling across fenland in the 1970s and was highly commended by the judge Jan Turk Petrie. Clare’s story ‘Strawberry Road,’ based on travels in Australia and New Zealand, was named one of six runners up.

The magazine is available by subscription. For further details email editor Rona Laycock on ​

Fresh Air for Iris

SA_FFMore success for Iris Anne Lewis, whose poem, ‘I shall have to be punished for writing this’ has been published in the weekly online journal Fresh Air Poetry.

The journal, which is inspired by the Kenneth Koch poem ‘Fresh Air,’ aims to publish astonishing, surprising and provocative poetry. It is edited by Stephen Daniels – a poet from Swindon. Stephen previously edited Amaryllis Poetry and has two published poetry pamphlets (‘Tell Mistakes I Love Them’, V.Press, 2017 & ‘£5 for this love’, Paper Swans Press, 2018). His third pamphlet ‘Birth, Love, Work, Love, Death & Other B-sides’ is due to be published later this year by Picaroon Poetry. 

Iris’s poem can be read here.