International Mother Language Day

This coming Saturday, February 21st, is International Mother Language Day. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I was contacted by the Birmingham Poet Laureate Adrian Blackledge who invited me to perform at a poetry event at the Library of Birmingham. In a programme including Arabic, Bengali, Dutch, English, Farsi, Kurdish, Patois, Somali, Spanish, Urdu and Yoruba, he wanted someone to perform “poems in a more ‘local’ West Midlands/Black Country voice”.

One of the poems I’ll be performing is Childhood Snaps, made up of ‘snapshots’ in words of things and events I remember from my childhood in Cradley Heath. I posted it on my blog recently

My set is from 12.45 to 1.00. Here are the details:

Saturday February 21st 11.00am – 3.00pm
International Mother Language Day
Room 101, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, B1 2ND

Tickets from £3.50

I’m looking forward to an interesting day!


This post is all about loss.

I recently came across a site called I am not a silent poet which “welcomes quality poems of protest. ….. looks for poems about abuse in any of its forms.”  Yesterday Reuben Woolley, who set up the site, accepted one of my poems which you can read here.
There are lots of other poems up there to be explored, though of course it’s not exactly light reading.

Last Saturday, National Libraries Day, there was a rally to show support for the Library of Birmingham and to protest against proposed cuts to this new award-winning facility. Here’s an extract from a speech made by Benjamin Zephaniah on the day: “This library is a great example of how to invest in the intellectual and cultural life of the people of Birmingham. Its opening filled me with pride. I was telling my friends all over the world that Birmingham was the place to be, but in a very short time I have gone from pride to fear. I fear that cuts to this library will signal the beginning of the end for this wonderful place.”  For more information about the campaign visit

Lost Librarian

I am lines
on a sepia page
dots on eyes
corners torn

tear me out
and shed my tears
leave my print
where ink has worn

© Heather Wastie

So much of our cultural and artistic life has suffered from severe cuts over the past few years. Now the Artrix Theatre in Bromsgrove (so much more than just a theatre) has been asked to prove its worth before the council agrees to fund it. A Facebook page has been set up to gather information and garner support. To find out more, show support and add your voice see  My comments are already up there.

For an indication of how much has already been lost in the arts take a look at If you believe, like I do, in the importance of investment in culture and the arts, please consider this when deciding who to vote for in the election.

Collecting feedback

Here’s one piece of advice for anyone who is out there doing readings/presentations/performances: take a comments book with you, so that when someone says they’ve enjoyed your work, you can ask them to write it down as proof. On Tuesday I gave a presentation for a local retirement group and several people very kindly wrote feedback in my book which I left on the table with a pen. Their words have now been added to my feedback page and also appear below. As well as being able to quote what people have said, there’s also the satisfaction of being praised (which we performers need more than some might think!) and sometimes there are constructive suggestions too. By the way, if you know of a group who may be interested in an entertaining mix of poetry and songs about the carpet industry, do please pass on my details!

Superb morning, thoroughly enjoyable, so cleverly presented.
This was a very interesting morning. Fabulous.
Most interesting – a unique look at the carpet industry.
Delightful morning – very nostalgic.
Great. She is very good.
Very interesting talk and music.
A very interesting and talented lady.
Very enjoyable and interesting.

Found Poetry – 3 ways

I am a collector of words. You may see me making notes on my phone after hearing an interesting turn of phrase. You may see me armed with an mp3 player recording someone’s memories to be shaped into a poem or a song, with their permission and involvement of course. I also like to find poems in what I read. In this post you will find 3 examples of ways to find a poem.

A few days ago I was looking through a parish magazine and saw a page which caught my eye. Here’s a ‘pause for thought’ poem most of which is copied from that page.

Funerals and christenings 2015

Out with the old

Kenneth, Ronald,
William, Harold,
Raymond, John

Phyllis, Rita,
Sybil, Daisy,
Rachel, Jane

In with new

Sophie, Chelsea,
Piper Ocean,
Devan, Charlie,

Brendon, Wayne
and Jenson-Jake

© Heather Wastie

My second example is a Humument, A Human document, a tribute to a friend. This was made by obscuring words in an article he had written, leaving ones which stood out for me as a kind of hidden message. In this example, the found words remain in the original order and no other words are added. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Humument for Paul

Finally, I refer to a previous post, made when I was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet

My poem in that post is a juxtaposition of texts copied from different sources: a book about Persian Rugs, a website about Nima Yoshij “The father of modern Persian poetry”, an interview with Mick Lowe, who worked as a designer, and one of Nima Yoshij’s poems. I hope that the way I chose to combine these different texts says something without the necessity for additional words.

Poetry is everywhere.