County’s Poet Laureate ‘waffles’ on the podium

It’s true, I did waffle. Perhaps using that word in a press interview wasn’t a great idea, but it made me laugh afterwards. And yes, I’ve milked it for all it’s worth and refer to it in the last line of my poem below which I hope you enjoy. The article doesn’t mention Worcestershire LitFest so here’s a link to their website http://worcslitfest.co.uk/. Here’s to the next twelve months!

Poet laureate’s promise

For a whole year
Worcestershire
is poetically mine!

I could strut sonnets in Stourport
Hand out haikus in Hartlebury
Tinker with triolets in Tenbury Wells
Swan through Kidderminster kicking kennings
Conjure couplets in Cookley
Polish pantoums in Pershore
Dig up doggerel in Droitwich
Blurt out blank verse in Bewdley
and bawl ballads in Bromsgrove
Exclaim elegies in Evesham
Forage for free verse in Fairfield
Offer odes in Ombersley
Recite rondeaux in Redditch
Initiate idylls in Inkberrow
Lurk with limericks in Lickey …

My stanzas could spring up anywhere;
there’ll be a poetic kerfuffle.
And one thing I promise the Worcestershire folk:
my poems will never be waffle.

© Heather Wastie
June 2015

Seasonal affectation

As the summer solstice draws near, here’s a poem, born of confusion, which I wrote this time last year.

Seasonal affectation

June July August
September October November
December January February
March April May

Meteorological seasons
follow the Gregorian calendar.

Astronomical seasons
follow equinoxes and solstices.

In meteorological terms,
summer begins on June the first.
An expert weather forecaster knows this
whereas non-experts,
meteorologically speaking,
speak astronomically.

Astronomical summer begins
on June the twentieth
or is it the twenty first?
I need to know!

Actual summer begins when it feels like it,
ends when it ends
and some years, well,
it just doesn’t …
feel like it.

Both astronomical and meteorological seasons
contain other seasons:

The silly season, for example,
which occurs when other seasons
don’t.

Or the football season which,
regardless of the calendar in use,
ends on the last day of one season
and begins on the first day of the next.

Astronomical seasons
are about three weeks behind
meteorological seasons,
so weather forecasters are campaigning
to have the astronomical seasons
brought forward by three weeks
to make their forecasts more accurate.

Actually I was a bit astronomical with the truth there.
But I hope to promote the meteoric rise
of meteorological seasons
as a subject for casual conversation
in preference to merely talking about the weather.

© Heather Wastie

Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015!

Success!! I am the 2015 Worcestershire Poet Laureate!!

 
The competition was tough. The other 5 finalists were very impressive – Suz Winspear, Nina Lewis, Tony Shadforth, Damon Lord and Betti Moretti.  

Suz Winspear and Nina Lewis gave particularly strong performances and thoroughly deserved to be 2nd and 3rd respectively.   

It was quite a journey for us all, from writing our applications together with anonymous submission of 2 poems, to interview as longlisted poets, to performance of our poems last Friday evening at the Guildhall, Worcester. The event marked the beginning of the Worcestershire Literary Festival. There’s lots more going on! Have a look at their website  http://worcslitfest.co.uk.

My first appearance as Laureate was at an Asparawriting Festival event in Evesham on Saturday http://asparawritingfestival.co.uk. I love this photo of myself with outgoing Laureate, Fergus McGonigal and Asparawriting Festival organiser Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, both of whose work I admire greatly.   

By complete contrast, my second gig was in a marquee at Hopfest, Bewdley http://www.hopfest.co.uk in an event organised by fellow finalist, Betti Moretti. 

My next appearance is “Rubber Swordplay” at St Swithin’s, Worcester tomorrow night and I’ll also be performing at Speakeasy on Thursday. See http://worcslitfest.co.uk for further details!

Touching history

Earlier this year I was commissioned to write a poem to celebrate the work of the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust. I will be performing the new poem this coming Thursday evening 11th June in Redditch as part of an event at Gorcott Hall.

Trustee Philip Adams, who is organising the event, commissioned the poem when he read this piece about my childhood in Cradley Heath. https://weavingyarns1.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/childhood-snaps/ He felt that my family connections with the Trust would enable me to include some personal reflections as well as highlight the importance of conservation “in this throw-away world”. Although I have never been involved with the Trust myself, other than visiting some beautiful buildings, I witnessed its workings from the outside through my Dad who was Chairman for many years. My Mother remained a member after Dad passed away and my brother is Project Director. Years back, my brother's two children 'commissioned' me to write a poem about dust after they had taken part in one of the many work parties! The poem is in my book The Page-Turner’s Dilemma. Philip Adams and I are distantly related too, and I know he feels, as I do, that buildings connect us to people in a way nothing else can.

IMG_0275This gate, for instance, was made by my Dad when he was at school. It served as our factory gate (we owned a cooperage in Cradley Heath) until it was demolished in the 1960s and ended up attached to this chain shop in Bannister Street. I am so glad Dad told me about this before he died and I was able to capture it in a photo. The last time I was there, the building was up for sale and the gate had been replaced.

It's amazing where writing a blog can take you! Back now to the new piece, a tribute to this voluntary organisation, with a touch of humour. “I am sure everyone will be thrilled that you have really given a flavour of the Trust's work and history,” said Philip when he had read it. It's called Touching History and ends with these 4 lines:

Conservation in a throw-away world.
Social return, not financial return.
Helping the future lay hands on the past.
Leaving a legacy that will last.

WMHBT are involved with saving the Weavers' Cottages in Horsefair, Kidderminster. Fingers crossed, there will be some visible action soon! Here's their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WestMidlandsHistoricBuildingsTrustwmhbt

As regular readers will now, I'm on the shortlist for the position of Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015. The appointment will be made this Friday 12th June! See http://wastiesspace.co.uk/Wasties_Space/DIARY.html to find out where else I'll be performing this weekend.

Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015

I’m very pleased to say that I’ve been shortlisted for Worcestershire Poet Laureate. Do visit the Worcestershire Literary Festival website and vote on your favourite poem by the shortlisted poets. You have ONE vote and of course I can’t tell you which one is mine!

Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015.

The final stage, when the winner will be chosen, is a performance in The Guildhall at the Festival launch on Friday June 12th.

My success goes a long way towards making up for the 5 weeks I spent languishing with a bug which has been dubbed “The Big One”.  During this time I did manage to write 6 lines of poetry to sum up how I felt. Here they are!

Sick, of the view

In direct line of vision
a solid blotch on the mirror,
an imagined face silhouetted in grime,

an annoying uselessness
of ‘smear-proof’ window cleaner
and a woman gathering dust.

© Heather Wastie
May 2015

How Wars Start in Cheltenham ….

On Friday 1st May, Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal and I will present How Wars Start at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. 

In the middle of last year, I applied for a Kidderminster Arts Festival ‘small-scale commission’ to create an interactive performance poetry piece called How Do Wars Start?  Having been successful, I felt it would be a better piece if I created it with another poet and immediately thought of Fergus. I’m a great admirer of his work and had a feeling creative sparks would fly in unexpected directions if we got together. He said yes, and we split the fee between us. What an excellent decision it turned out to be!

Influenced by Fergus’s approach to language and performance, I experienced a creative surge as I grappled with the challenge of identifying how wars start. Not the waging of war or the aftermath etc; how they actually begin. We sat one day in my garden brainstorming ideas then went our separate ways to each write 10 minutes of material. Our show needed to be entertaining, funny and visual. I collected ideas on our Facebook page, watched some wonderful street theatre in Kidderminster, assembled inexpensive props – a bit of old carpet, a plastic plant pot, a hand-puppet, balloons.

The pieces we had written slotted together easily and we both thoroughly enjoyed the whole process culminating in a day of performances in Kidderminster town centre, one to a captive and appreciative audience in the library and two in public thoroughfares where passersby were rather bemused. 

image

For Cheltenham, we’ve written lots of new material to make an hour-long show, 9.00-10.00pm in the Everyman Other Space Studio Theatre, 7-10 Regent Street, Cheltenham GL50 1HQ. Tickets are £7 / £4 .  Here’s a taster. See our Facebook page for more https:/www.facebook.com/how.do.wars.start. Hope to see you on May 1st!

Dummies’ guide to starting a war  by Heather Wastie

Part 1

The first step is to be born,

which of course you already have,

so congratulations!

That is half the battle.

Please now refer to the pack supplied 

with every copy of this book,

“Things to help you start a war”.

Open it up and take a look ….

First you’ll find a marker pen to draw in the air

a solid permanent thick black line.

Shoes to hang above the road,

so you can shout “Those shoes are mine!”

A gun, a bullet,

a bullet-proof vest,

A pump to help you

puff out your chest ……

To see the full Cheltenham Poetry Festival programme, go to http://www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk