Brexit means Brexit, a poem

Have you heard of the Emergency Poet? Deborah Alma is ‘the world’s first and only mobile poetic first aid service. A mix of the serious, the therapeutic and the theatrical, the Emergency Poet offers consultations inside her ambulance and prescribes poems as cures.’

I’ve supplied her with a few poems for her prescriptions in the past, having responded to call-outs for themed pieces. Her latest request was for Brexit or NHS poems for an event this coming weekend in Shrewsbury. Coincidentally, I wrote a Brexit poem only last week, incensed by the plough-on-regardless attitude of our PM, so I sent it off immediately. She said it was perfect – I mean the EP, of course, not the PM. There would be absolutely no point sending it to the latter.

So if you’re at the NHS / Healthcare Day in Shrewsbury on Saturday, do look out for the Emergency Poet and if you receive a copy of my poem, let me know.

And I give my permission for public chanting, wherever you are.

Brexit means Brexit

Red white and blue Brexit
Stamp hiss and boo Brexit
Hole in my shoe Brexit
Big pile of poo Brexit
Wading in glue Brexit
No getting through Brexit
We’re black and blue Brexit
Back of the queue Brexit
Haven’t a clue Brexit
Sinking canoe Brexit
Flush down the loo Brexit
So sick of you Brexit
Brexit means Brexit
A tightening screw

Heather Wastie
17.11.18

Birmingham is

Birmingham is

Birmingham is Big, but fits inside my pocket
Birmingham is International, coloured by its people
Birmingham is Rich, vibrating like a violin
Birmingham is Motorway connecting and inviting
Birmingham is Improvising boogie-woogie fusion
Birmingham is Neighbourhood, from Erdington to Hollywood
Birmingham is Ghosts, in catacombs and cloisters
Birmingham is Happening, bustling and boisterous
Birmingham is Animated, stimulating, motivating
Birmingham is Moreish like chocolate and tea

Birmingham is Cadbury, Typhoo, Bird’s and Rover
a journey, a heritage, a poem bubbling over

Birmingham is Ballet, Balti and Bull Ring
Birmingham is Ikon, canals to ride your bike on
Birmingham is Rednal, Rotunda and Rotton Park
Birmingham is Music pulsating Broad Street after dark
Birmingham is Iron Man, Victoria and Floozie
Birmingham is NEC, NIA and ICC
Birmingham is Gas Street, Brasshouse, Brindley
Birmingham is Heavy metal, Brylcreem and jewellery
Birmingham is Aston Villa, Birmingham City
Birmingham is Mosque, Cathedral and Church

Birmingham is Brummagem, a limerick, a sonnet,
a never ending growing list of reasons why I love it.

© Heather Wastie
http://www.wastiesspace.co.uk

from Don’t Oil The Hinges published Sept 2018 by Black Pear Press

Come and see me perform this poem as part of my featured-poet set
at Licensed to Rhyme, Cafe Morso, 16 Hewell Road, Birmingham B45 8NE
on
Monday 12th November  7.00pm

Suitcase Stories: Grandma’s little box

I started work on a new project yesterday. Organised by Arts Uplift under the title Suitcase Stories, it’s an 18 month reminiscence and music project for people living with dementia and their carers in the Wyre Forest, Redditch, Bromsgrove and Wychavon districts running from November 2018 to March 2020.

Yesterday we held a taster session in Redditch, singing familiar songs and looking at objects from a suitcase containing all sorts of things to trigger memories as a starting point for conversation and songwriting. Here are some lines I wrote using what one of the participants told me:

Grandma’s little slipper-shaped box

I’d never seen her take it before,
so it came as quite a shock
the day I saw my grandma
open up her little box,

pinch out the yellow powder
and push it up her nose
then try to hide her fingers
behind the dominoes.

Her handkerchiefs were horrible –
stained by that yellow stuff
but the little box was beautiful,
filled with grandma’s snuff.

© Heather Wastie

Here is a link to more information about the project. There are places available, should you know of anyone who may be interested, and there’s a mentoring opportunity for music students too.

Tonight I’ll be performing in Malvern with four other Worcestershire Poets Laureate. Happy National Poetry Day! 

Cornered

You and a friend get onto a train. There’s a woman sitting in a window seat. The two seats opposite her and the one next to her are all free. Which two seats would you and your friend occupy?

Cornered

Two UKIP-ers on a train
Boring bullets through my brain
Slippery smiles and slimy voices
Talk of politics and choices
Breathe across me, steal my air
No consideration there
At Farage I’ve had enough
Want to tell them where to get off

One says he backed into a wall
Hasn’t repaired his car at all
Carriage empties, yet they smother
We’ve been deserted’ says the other
One beside me, one ahead
Stifled by their stinking spread
Squeezing past them. ‘Getting off?’
Yes. I’m leaving. End. Full stop.

© Heather Wastie
September 2018

Being a Poet Laureate

Ever since the seventeenth century, the UK has had a Poet Laureate, and until 2009 the position was always held by a man. Although women had been considered, none were chosen. In the late nineteenth century, Christina Rossetti missed out when it was decided that, rather than appoint a woman, there would be no laureate at all. In 2009, (now Dame) Carol Ann Duffy was appointed. She said at the outset that her main reason for accepting the role was because they hadn’t had a woman. (1)

Some UK cities have their own Poet Laureate – Birmingham currently has Matt Windle – and some counties do too. Gloucestershire has one (Brenda Read-Brown), Staffordshire does (Emily Rose Galvin) and Worcestershire has had one since 2011. The current Worcestershire PL, appointed in June, is Betti Moretti. There are also several Young PLs:  Worcestershire’s is Rachel Evans and Birmingham’s is Nyanda Foday. So, as you can see, women are doing pretty well on the laureate front now.

IMG_1631

Receiving my award from Maggie Doyle, Worcestershire Poet Laureate Emeritus

In Worcestershire the post lasts for just one year, and I was honoured to represent the county in 2015/16. Are you a poet, wondering if you could be a laureate one day? Have you ever wondered what a poet laureate actually does? The short answer to the second question is that it depends a lot on the person. But if you would like to find out how it worked for me, then now’s your chance!

On 15th September Black Pear Press will launch my latest poetry collection, Don’t Oil The HingesA year as Worcestershire Poet Laureate. The poems fit into three main categories: those directly relating to the county, some of the many I wrote during this very special year, and some which featured in my blog during that period. The book is also a diary of edited extracts from my blog, plus other snippets to give an insight into my life as a writer and performer.

The PL role tends to be an honorary position. Throughout my year, as always, I worked hard to maximise opportunities to earn a living from being a poet and musician. Poetry book sales will never be anywhere near enough to live on, but they certainly help. So please do help me (and the publisher) by buying a copy! If you can’t make the launch, when I will read extracts from the book and welcome several guest performers (see my previous blog for exactly who and where), you can pre-order copies online from Black Pear Press.

I needed an endorsement for the back cover, so I asked The Archers actor, Sunny Ormonde (who performs one of my poems as part of her excellent one-woman show) and this is what she wrote:

“Needing a poem about local life for my show at Bewdley Festival I discovered Heather’s wonderfully funny poems on line. Immediately smitten, I contacted her and was over the moon when she kindly offered to write a special poem for the show and Dad was a fan of The Archers was born. Nothing could have been more perfect – it was a huge hit and continues to be so.

Don’t Oil The Hinges is a delightful collection of poems – a pot pourri of Worcestershire life and experiences. Joyful, funny, touching, informative and vibrant. Heather is one of the finest poets around.”
(1) Carol Ann Duffy becomes first female poet laureate – Alison Flood, The Guardian, May 2009 https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/may/01/carol-ann-duffy-poet-laureate

Don’t Oil The Hinges

My seventh poetry collection will be launched in September!

Don’t Oil The Hinges is a celebration of my year as Worcestershire Poet Laureate — a collection of poems and insights into 2015-2016. On Saturday 15th September the book will be launched at an evening of poetry and song with guests, Kate Saffin — writer and actor; Sarah Tamar — poet; Sunny Ormonde — actor, and Dave Sutherland — singer-songwriter. There may be another special guest too. The venue is Park’s Cafe, 4 Victoria Square, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire WR9 8DS. I chose it because of its hinges.

My first batch was delivered to my door yesterday by Tony Judge from Black Pear Press who had a hand in the cover design — literally. Talented singer-songwriter and artist Jess Silk produced the artwork and Tony added that final touch by writing the text with his finger, and the whole thing, I think, has a homely feel about it.

DOTH Front cover image

I hope you will be keen to open that door and find out what’s behind it. Here’s a sneak preview:

Wipe your feet

Shag pile, tufted,
high pile, long pile,
loop pile, got a pile!
Wipe your feet!

Don’t bring your muck in here,
our carpet’s cream.
Slippers all lined up,
pick your size.

No foam backing here,
grip gripper underlay,
offcuts in the loft
gathering dust.

Shag pile, tufted,
high pile, long pile,
loop pile, got a pile!
Wipe your feet!

(extract)

You can pre-order your copy from Black Pear Press, price £6.00 + p&p.

If you can, do come to the launch. It’s free to attend and we’re going to have fun!

Black coffee and onions

My husband is going to a funeral today. Ron was a dearly loved teacher who I only met a couple of times, but he made an instant impression on me and I wrote a poem about him. Or at least I started it. It’s a snapshot of a brief visit to Ron’s house when I warmed to him straight away as he joked about making black coffee. But that poem was never finished. Looking at it again reminded me of a piece I did complete, after visiting another lovely elderly man called Geoff. I only popped in to leave something for his wife but the encounter stayed with me.

Onions
for Geoff

As I arrived he apologised
that the house smelled of onions.

He vanished then reappeared,
proudly holding a freezer bag
packed with his morning’s work.

The wife can’t do it for crying, he said,
So I chop them up while she’s away.

© Heather Wastie
June 2010