July kit?


Well it’s been a fabulously busy July, lots of poetry, Pink and sun! 

I’m fortunate enough to live within easy distance of the Ledbury Poetry Festival, which I always try and visit each year.  This year however, I took part in two events and am still on cloud-nine.  The first event was co-hosing The Write On! Writing Squad Poetry Showcase on Saturday 6th July.  I co-hosted this event with fellow writer and poet Ruth Stacey who is also assistant writer at the Worcester Writing Squad.  It was an afternoon of stunning poems from very talented young writers who can all now write on their CV’s that they’ve read at Ledbury Poetry Festival.  Writing Squads meet monthly over ten months each year and are running at various locations over the West Midlands.  For more information visit: http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/young-writers-schools/write-on-writing-squads/ 

Then, on Thursday the 11th, I performed as one of the V’s, with Ruth Stacey, Sarah James and Catherine Crosswell, where we took traditional male forms and subverted them to give them a more feminine and more feminist angle.  It was double-bill, with the very talented Decadent Divas performing the second half.  The Diva’s being Charlie Jordan, Maggie doyle, Laorna Meeham and Laura Yates. It was an amazing evening with Burgage Hall full, yes, full, and to cap the evening all eight of us were presented with a Ledbury Poetry Festival bowl.  The very talented Sue Thompson penned a wonderful sketch to commemorate the evening.


There was time for fun, sun and music at the third Colwall Family Music Festival, with a wonderful and varied line up.  My children enjoyed the day and bopping around to their new favourite band – TwoManTing.


To listen to TwoManTing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARGOkDQ3Fzs

Today was the final session and Sharing Session of my first In The Pink Dementia Poetry Project. This is run by the Courtyard Theatre, Hereford and involves poets visiting care homes, nursing homes, day centres and hospitals and listening and taking part in conversations with residents with dementia, we scribe as we listen and then edit their words (with their permission) into poems. We never add, just edit. The poems read and shared today were sad, funny, reminiscent, insightful and bold. It was a very special afternoon. The nursing home laid on afternoon tea with a good selection of cakes. Poetry AND cake, sounds like my kind of afternoon.


Um, well I guess it’s been a while…


I’m quite shocked to realise it’s been six months since I last blogged.  Time seems to have grown limbs and sprinted away far more quickly than I realised.  June has slipped into July and the school holidays are creeping ever closer and we’re already heading, slowly, into the dark half of the year.

I have been busy, very busy and all in a good way. 

Since January I’ve been leading the Worcester Writing Squad for Writing West Midlands, these squads are aimed at young writers, either 8-11 or 12-16 and take place for a couple of hours at the weekend for 10 sessions per year.  The Worcester session has about 14 very talented young writers aged 11 or younger.  For more information on Writing Squads see the Writing West Midlands Website: http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/young-writers-schools/write-on-writing-squads/

I’ve also joined “In the Pink” a Dementia Poetry Project co-ordianted by the poet John Killick and the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford.  This is an incredibly humbling role, in which myself and 3 other poets visit care homes, nursing homes, hospitals and listen to patients and residents with dementia and write down their words (with their permission) then edit these words into poems.  We never add anything, just take words away which weaken the thread of the poem/s.  http://www.dementiapositive.co.uk/poetry-in-herefordshire.html

And finally…my poem The Merchant’s House has featured on Kidderminster-based Poet Heather Wastie’s blog, Weaving Yarns.  Heather is currently Poet in Residence for the Kidderminster Museum of Carpet.  Fellow Worcestershire Poetry Stanza Poet Kathy Gee also has poems featured.  My poem was inspired by Medieval dyeing methods.  Heather’s blog can be found here: http://weavingyarns1.wordpress.com/

Happy New Year (and all that)


A Happy New Year!

It was a clarity to the New Year with a clear skies and a pureness about the light.  There was sun and the shadows were unnoticed. 


It was a busy end to the year with a Christmas reading at Parole Parlate.  This is a monthly spoken word event in Worcester, with readers signed up before the event.  For more information contact the Worcestershire Literary Festival – http://www.worcslitfest.com

The New Year is already promising to be exciting with readings, workshops and The Return of the Word and Sound.  This is an ad-hoc spoken word and acoustic music event in Worcester.  The next event is on Friday 11th January at the Art House Cafe next to Huntingdon Hall, in the Crowngate, Worcester.  Entry is £3 for both audience and performers, and it’s a full Open Mic with slots available on the night.


Thank you to Ruth Stacey for the image.

January also sees the launch of the first Worcester Writing Squad which will be based at the Hive, Worcester.  This is a fantastic writing projectfor young people from Writing West Midlands and I am very excited to be leading this Squad.  This Squad is aimed at writers aged 8 -12.  The first session is on Saturday, 12th January, 10am-12pm and costs £5


And I’m also reading in Malvern on 18th January with Ali Oxtoby, Catherine Crosswell and Amy Rainbow.  It’s from 7.00pm at the Malvern Book Co-operative. This is a free event so please call 01684 564788 to add your name to the guest list.  It promises to be a fantastic night of poetry from four local women poets, and hot drinks and cake will also be available.


Poets in the Mist and other happenings…


It was a busy second half to October, the first Worcestershire Literary Walk taking place along part of the Malvern Hills, I was one of four poets reading, alongside Maggie Doyle, Math Jones and Liz Hayden-Smith.  The walk was organised and led by Polly and Geoff Robinson. I was based by Clutter’s Cave, ready to read to passing walkers.  It was an atmospheric setting for the whole walk, mist rolled over and around British Camp and a perfect reason to cloak-up for the occasion.


Photo: Sarah James

Later in the month I was in Walsall with Stewart Derry to run a couple of poetry writing workshops for the National Association of Gifted Children’s Big Family Weekend.  We looked at, amongst things, the senses and using them to create poetry maps and mind maps, using Autumn and Change as the two main starting points.  Poems and mind maps were laid together as individual pieces came together to create a larger piece.


…And then it was Samhain, Summer’s End.  A time for releasing and when the veil between the two worlds it at its most porous.  And a time for dressed up children to go trick and treating, fortunately this year the night fell in half-term so a later bedtime didn’t matter.  Even vampires and skeletons need some sleep…


The witchery and trickery didn’t stop there as the next day fellow poet Sarah James and I were off to Worcester, ready to spend a morning in The Oxfam Book and Music shop conjouring some magic with words and writing workshops for children, and yes, it was a perfect excuse to cloak-up, again.


Photo Amanda Bonnick/Sarah James

The Worcester Evening News called by to join in the fun and took a photo too:


Double collaborations!


I’m delighted that two of my poems, both written as collaborations with the Worcestershire Poetry Stanza have been displayed both locally and on the internet.

My poem, A room of their own, was inspired by the Ladies’ Blue Sitting room at Hanbury Hall and is currently on their website along with other stanza poems: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/home/view-page/item964855/251680/

The poems were also dipslayed as an art and poetry project at Hanbury Hall.

A room of their own

A second poem, The Merchant’s House, is currently on display at Avoncroft Museum of Buildings, Nr Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, as part of their poetry trail, of poems written by Stanza members inspired by the various buildings. The Medieval Town House was my first inspiration, and on researching I discovered it was likely to have been owned my a Merchant who earnt his fortune in the dyeing industry. The trail runs until January 2013.

The Merchant’s House

…and now for part two:


July saw the mayhem of the start of the school holidays, and the first of three trips to Polesworth Abbey in Tamworth, I was due to lead a poetry workshop there in early-August based around the archaeological dig which was taking place on site.  My first visit was a research day where I met both Mal Dewhirst who was co-ordinating the Dig the Poetry events and Father Philip who was the Vicar at St Editha, and very enthusiastic about the Abbey and the Dig.  I was fortunate to be on site when sixteen medieval floortiles were discovered in-situ, they were a stunning discovery and I watched as they were carefully unearthed.

Medieval floortiles @ Polesworth Abbey, Tamworth

My workshop was early-August and was called All to often we see only with our eyes, in which I wanted to explore the senses other than sight, this included asking people to touch the earth and “look” at their surroundings using touch, sound, smell etc.

Dig the Abbey

I returned to Polesworth Abbey in early-September as part of their heritage day to celebrate both the Abbey and end of the Archaeological Dig. There was a site tour, followed by poetry read by the guest poets and poets who took part in the series of workshops, including Mal Dewhirst, Maeve Clark, Jo Bell, Gary Carr, David Calcutt and Gary Longden. There were also displays of the poetry and artwork in the refectory.

The Poetry Display

Some of the poems written by poets who attended my workshop.

A closer-up view:

It was a wonderful afternoon with good weather and good poetry in a stunning setting.

So much to say…part one:


It’s been a while since my last blog, but it has been a creatively (and children) filled summer…

June saw the second Worcestershire Literary Festical, with eleven days of literary events. I ran a family-friendly poetry/writing workshop which took place in Worcester Country Park, and yes, trees were very much involved. The next literary festival takes place from June 14th to June 23rd 2013. More information can be found via their website: http://www.worcslitfest.com

I also co-ran a music and poetry workshop in June with the very talented Deborah Rose (www.deborahrose.co.uk) at the Cob House, Wichenford. Children were invited to draw something that inspired them, then wrote a poem, which was then set to music by Deb. My daughter, Lissy, took part, and drew a bat. Here’s a link to her poem, set to music with her artwork:

Six illustrations from Petrolhead by Cheryl Howard


Six illustrations from Petrolhead by Cheryl Howard

These illustrations were created by Cheryl as a reponse to six poems in Petrolhead and were exhibited in May as part of a collection of work by 2nd-year illustration students at the University of Worcester.

The poems which inspired these illustrations were:

High Tea
I watch my Mother climbing up walls
A Walk through the Forest
Red Coat
Strange Bedfellows



Well it’s now May, and despite being soggy with much needed rainfall, there is still sun of a kind. I found out in April I’d been accepted on to Room 204, a Writing Development Programme run by Writing West Midlands, which is to assist and mentor writers in the development of their careers. Needless to say, I am thrilled and very, very excited!

It’s been an exciting month on the poetry circuit too. March ended with Earth Hour, an evening of poetry, spoken work and music to raise awareness of Earth Hour. In April I read, with Sarah James, as support for Templar Poets Nigel McLoughlin and Kathleen Jones at Templar Poetry’s monthly poetry readings at the Lamb & Flag, The Tything, Worcester, (Third Wednesday of every month) I also read at Ludi Cereales, “A Celebration of Spring” which was raising money for the Worcestershire Breast Unit Appeal.

Besides readings, I ran a family-friendly poetry workshop at The Hive, Worcester’s new library and information centre, as part of Worcestershire Literary Festival’s “Literally in a Day” event.

Finally, still on the poetry theme, I spotted this registration plate recently: