Don’t Oil The Hinges review

Many thanks to Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud, for reviewing my new collection, Don’t Oil The Hinges:

“… you can’t help but warm to Heather Wastie’s enthusiasm, creativity, and zest in putting poetry at the heart of a community.”

Read the review here.

And here’s a quote from Canal Laureate, Nancy Campbell:  “I’m enjoying Don’t Oil the Hinges enormously… I love the way Heather weaves introductions into the book, I’ve never seen this done before and it creates a lovely, intimate reading experience.”

Do come and see me performing extracts from the collection at the following events:

Monday 12th November  7.00pm
Licensed to Rhyme
Cafe Morso, 16 Hewell Road, Birmingham B45 8NE
https://www.view.co.uk/birmingham/v/cafe-morso

Thursday 29th November  7.00pm
The Caffe Grande Slam
Caffe Grande, 15 Stone St, Dudley DY1 1NS
https://m.facebook.com/The-Caffe-Grande-Slam-1172745749507985/

Tuesday 8th January 2019  7.30pm
City Voices
Light House, The Chubb Buildings, Fryer St, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT
http://light-house.co.uk

 

Don’t Oil The Hinges is available from Black Pear Press, price £6.

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! 

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!

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

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

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.

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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/

 

 

Nicky Morgan most popular? Really?

Yes, my poem School visit by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education was my most viewed post of 2015. Here’s the full Top Ten which includes waffles, gherkins, whisky, salmon, promises, childhood memories and lots of references to being Worcestershire Poet Laureate. It’s good to look back on my year of blogs, though I’m having a break at the moment, building up strength for 2016 when I have some lovely projects and events to look forward to. I’ll be Poet Laureate until the middle of June and there are lots of poems waiting to be written.

Thanks very much for following me in what has been my busiest year to date. Do follow the links below to read my Top Ten and alter the statistics ….

  1. Poem: School visit by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education

  2. County’s Poet Laureate waffles on the podium

  3. International Mother Language Day

  4. Childhood snaps

  5. Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015

  6. A poem about the gherkin

  7. Being a Poet Laureate on National Poetry Day

  8. The Kelpies, Whisky Angels & a salmon ladder

  9. Burns, Tam O’Shanter & Crambo-jingle

  10. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2015