I had a gift

To mark my final day as The Worcestershire Poet Laureate, here’s the sonnet which (I’m told) wowed the judges a year ago. I’ll be performing it again tonight alongside the winner of this year’s competition. Whichever of the 3 excellent finalists takes over, I know they will make the most of their own poetic gift.

I had a gift

I had a gift, a flush of fragrant flowers,
a wild bouquet tossed carelessly into
a slender vase, so crammed with colour, full
of bursting buds, each of them beautiful
but standing so unruly, heads askew,
competing for the sun’s receding hours.

These fresh, young beauties wooed me as I stood
to contemplate the many ways I could
arrange them. Since no teacher ever taught
such vital skills, I gave it years of thought.

As one by one the weaker blossoms failed,
my task was rendered easier by the day
and when the final bloom had drooped and paled,
an empty vase was gently borne away.

© Heather Wastie

Free poetry workshops & open mic opportunities

Here are details of 2 poetry workshops I’m running, in Bewdley and Kidderminster, and 2 performances with open mic opportunities, in Bewdley and Ledbury.

FREE POETRY WORKSHOPS

Thursday 16th June 10.30-12.30
Poetry Workshop – Women of WW1
St George’s Hall, Load Street, Bewdley DY12 2EQ
To mark 100 years since the formation of the Women’s Institute, this workshop is part of an outreach project to create poems for a new art installation at Croome Court from November. Of the poems written by members of 16 different and diverse groups across Worcestershire, 100 will be chosen to be included in the installation, and poets are asked, if possible, to write about the experiences of a female relative.
Free to attend but advance booking required.
See https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Wednesday 6th July 10.30-12.30 or 1.00-3.00
A Taste of Words poetry workshop
Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster
The workshops are suitable for all abilities and will draw inspiration from Kidderminster’s wonderful heritage, including current research from the Weavers Cottages project. At the end of the sessions, participants will be encouraged to work on a piece for inclusion in the final Weavers Cottages open day and celebration events later in the year.
See http://www.weaverscottages.info/Events.htm

POETRY OPEN MIC

Saturday 18th June 1.00-7.00
Hopfest Music Festival
‘Airlock’ family poetry/storytelling tent including poetry open mic
Hopley’s Family Camping, Cleobury Road, Bewdley, Worcs DY12 2QL

http://www.hopfest.co.uk
Email poetry@hopfest.co.uk for details of open mic

Saturday 2nd July
Outdoor performances with Jiggery Spokery at Ledbury Poetry Festival
11.15-1.00 Walled Garden including open mic – sign up on day or email Spokery15@mail.com
Afternoon performances (no open mic): 2.30 Caffe No.21; 3.30 The Muse Cafe; 4.30 The Horseshoe Inn

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk

 

Worcestershire LitFest & more

This coming Friday, 10th June, sees the start of Worcestershire LitFest. As the outgoing Worcestershire Poet Laureate (yes, the year is up!) I’ve agreed to do 3 performances and a workshop, details of which are summarised in this Worcester News article and appear more fully below. In the same week, I have 3 performances elsewhere so it’s going to be busy!!

Saturday 11th June between 12.00 & 4.00
Jiggery Spokery at Cheltenham Science Festival
Jiggery Spokery Worcs Mus Fest
Street entertainment – details to be announced
See https://twitter.com/heatherwastie for updates

http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science

Tuesday 14th June 7.30pm
City Voices – 15 minute feature, Weaving Yarns poems & songs
Lych Gate Tavern, 44 Queen Square, Wolverhampton, WV1 1TX
Admission £2.50 (£1 under 16s)
Contact: simonfletcher58@gmail.com

Wednesday 15th June 7.30pm (doors open 6.00)
Weaving Yarns
Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green Street, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ
Admission £5 including Museum entry

http://museumofcarpet.org
https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Thursday 16th June  7.30pm
Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways
The Camp House, Camp Lane, Grimley, Worcs WR2 6LX
https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/
See #idlewomen Midlands tour for more dates

Thursday 16th June 10.30-12.30
Poetry Workshop – Women of WW1
Severn Room, St George’s Hall, Load Street, Bewdley DY12 2EQ
Free to attend but advance booking required

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Saturday 18th June 1.00-7.00
Hopfest Music Festival
‘Airlock’ family poetry/storytelling tent including poetry open mic
Hopley’s Family Camping, Cleobury Road, Bewdley, Worcs DY12 2QL

http://www.hopfest.co.uk
Email poetry@hopfest.co.uk for details of open mic

#idlewomen Midlands tour

This is how it started. On Twitter. I was booked to perform Idle Women and Judies at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port. I tweeted about it. Kate Saffin responded to my tweet and we got talking. We each had a self-penned one-woman show about the women who were trained to operate working canal boats during WWII. Like narrow boat and butty, our shows fitted together, and within 6 weeks we had arranged a double-bill tour of Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways.

At the beginning of April we did a sell-out preview at The Barge House in London. Towards the end of my performance I announced that I would be singing a song inspired by Molly Traill which begins like this:

We took a trial run
From Ellesmere Port to Birmingham
On Willow and Ash
And here’s what we found

The boats need smartening up
The engines need repairing
Here’s my report
I’ve written everything down

As soon as I mentioned Molly’s name, a voice came from the audience: “She steered my boat!” It turned out that the voice belonged to the current owner of NB Willow, and I had found the information for my lyrics on her blog: Severner Willow

She was surprised and delighted to hear a song about her boat and I in turn was chuffed to meet her!

Our tour starts at the Worcestershire Literary Festival on June 16th. See below for the full tour schedule:

IDLE A5alarumTour flyer back UPDATEDv2

Thu 16 June The Camp House, Camp Lane, Grimley WR2 6LX (outdoors unless wet)
Tue 21 June Ashwood Marina, Kingswinford DY6 0AQ
Wed 22 June * Eagle and Spur, 176 Castle Rd, Cookley DY10 3TB
Mon 27 June * Dudley Canal Trust, Birmingham New Rd, Dudley DY1 4SB
Wed 29 June * The Bonded Warehouse, 2 Canal St, Stourbridge DY8 4LU
Mon 4 July Fox and Anchor, Brewood Rd, Wolverhampton WV10 7PW
Wed 6 July The Bridge Inn, 22 High Green, Brewood, Stafford ST19 9BD
Thu 7 July The Navigation Inn, Newport Road, Gnosall ST20 0BN
Mon 11 July The Junction Inn, Norbury Junction, Stafford ST10 0PN
Tue 12 July The Anchor Inn. Peggs Lane, Old Lea High Offley ST20 0NG
Tue 19 July The Shroppie Fly, Audlem Wharf, Shropshire Street, Audlem, Crewe CW3 0DX

www.alarumtheatre.co.uk
www.facebook.com/alarumtheatre

admin@alarumtheatre.co.uk
07976 818959
@heatherwastie
@Alarum_theatre

 

Sonnet for the post office cashier

Inspired by my love of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and my annoyance at being ignored, here’s one for ‘the bloke in the post office’:

From the other side

Apart from necessary words, like First
or second? One pound twenty six
, the post
office cashier will sing a random burst
of tunes, or whistle, distantly, engrossed.

No please or thank you, what a lovely day,
is that the time and is it raining?
No,
he scats, he taps and clips as if to say
please go away, you spoil my status quo.

I’m tempted to turn up with drum and bass
or improvise a subtle harmony
to beat him, join him, make him lift his face
from paperwork, engage, duet with me,
turn our encounter to a merry vamp
but all he will acknowledge is a stamp.

© Heather Wastie

Last Saturday, we marked 400 years since Shakespeare died, which could be considered a rather morbid way of marking someone’s achievements. Let’s celebrate Shakespeare every year, as the Scots celebrate Burns!  Tomorrow night in Kidderminster we’re doing this ….

Shakespeare Soapbox poster

Poetry Workshop – Women in WW1

To mark 100 years since the formation of the Women’s Institute, poetry workshops are taking place across Worcestershire. These are part of an outreach project to create poems for a new art installation at Croome Court from November. Of the poems written by members of 16 different and diverse groups, 100 will be chosen to be included in the installation, and poets are, where possible, writing about the experiences of a female relative during WW1. Participants are being asked to do a little research and bring in mementos, photographs, old family recipes etc about their chosen WW1 woman for inspiration. The workshops are facilitated by either myself or Gloucestershire Poet Laureate, Brenda Read-Brown.

Yesterday I ran one of these workshops for Worcester Writers’ Circle at The Hive in Worcester. I really enjoyed working with the 7 poets who attended and was very pleased with the quality of the poems which emerged during the day.

On the morning of Thursday 16th June I’ll be running a similar workshop in Bewdley as part of Worcestershire Literary Festival. If you’re interested in attending, look out for further information http://worcslitfest.co.uk/

Here’s the feedback from yesterday’s session:

“Excellent workshop Heather, it has given me a new view and incentive to my poetry.”

“Thank you, Heather, for helping to clarify my muddle lines of poetry and for running such a productive and enjoyable workshop.”

“Smashing workshop – good original activities to describe and to “do” focusing the mind on specifics. Great facilitation and encouragement throughout.”

“The combination of the facilitator and the participants seemed to produce some magic from everyone. Thank you, Heather.”

“Very good & enjoyable. A catalyst for thought & further poems.”

“Thoroughly enjoyable session. Good direction; friendly, pertinent advice. We all produced a piece of work.”

Performances coming up

If you’d like to find out about some of the work I’ve been doing as Worcestershire Poet Laureate since I was appointed last June, go to http://worcslitfest.co.uk/worcestershire-poet-laureate/heathers-wpl-blog-january-2016/

To find out what I’ve got coming up, read on ….

A week on Saturday I’ll be at the National Waterways Museum performing Idle Women and Judies and some new poems, all of which tell the stories of women who worked on the canals during World War 2.

IMG_1416

In March I’ll be featured poet at Howl in Moseley with a 15 minute set of performance poetry and in July I’ll be presenting an hour-long family show of poetry and music based around my book The Page-Turner’s Dilemma (poetry & tales from behind the music stand) in Evesham.

TPTD cover cartoon by Jules

Cartoon by Jules ~ cartoonist

Right now I’m working on a project about Black Country dialect. It’s called Where’s Our Spake Gone and I’ve been commissioned to work in Cradley Heath which is where I grew up. I’m having a wonderful time collecting together dialect words and phrases so that I can write new pieces to be shared at an event in April. I’ve you’d like to get involved, do come to my drop-in session on Thursday February 11th (see poster below).

Details of all these events are below.

Saturday 13th February between 10.00 and 4.00
Idle Women and Judies
National Waterways Museum Reopening Weekend
South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 4FW

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/museums-and-attractions/national-waterways-museum

Wednesday 9th March 7.30pm
Featured Poet – Howl
The Dark Horse, 145 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP
Free entry

https://www.facebook.com/howlspokenword/
http://www.darkhorsemoseley.co.uk

Where's our spake gone drop-in

Wednesday 6th April 7.30pm
Where’s our spake gone?
Cradley Heath Library, Upper High Street, Cradley Heath B64 5JU
http://ourspake.co.uk

Sunday 3rd July 3.00-4.00pm
The Page-Turner’s Dilemma
Evesham Festival of Words
Unitarian Chapel, Oat Street, Evesham, Worcs WR11 4PJ

http://eveshamfestivalofwords.org/programme/