Careless Green By Roz Goddard sang the song of nails and chain and the iron forge smashed on its iron plate, and men – soft machines themselves – stood hip-wise to the street and called to passing girls; and the cut snaked grey under the bridge and secrets stayed in the bricks of tunnels, […]
I hadn’t been to City Voices in a while. It’s a bit of a trek for me, travelling from south Birmingham to Wolverhampton, but I’m glad I braved public transport and read there last night – I even sold a few books!
If you’ve never been, it’s based in the Lighthouse which is a three-minute walk from the train station and housed inside the industrious Chubb building. As ever, Simon Fletcher, no relation, is the convivial host who sets the scene and puts everyone at ease. I’m not sure how long Simon has been running City Voices, but whenever I’ve been there the quality of the readings is always of a high standard and last night was no exception.
Sadly, my memory is bloody awful, and I can’t remember the names of those who read last night. The only names on the listing are mine and Fergus McGonigal’s – Fergus had to cancel, and Simon stepped in – but the quality of the writing and the reading from the three poets were very high. If anyone reading this can tell me the names of the poets leave me a comment below, and I’ll amend this accordingly.
The reading that stood out for me was a collection of poems from a creative writing graduate that was all based on a mysterious death in Hagley Woods in 1941. The poems were dark, evocative and original and stayed with me long after she’d finished reading. This mysterious death still generates graffiti to this day. This is from Wikipedia:
Who put Bella in the Wych Elm? is a graffito that originated in 1944 after a woman’s corpse was discovered by several children inside a wych elm in Hagley Wood (located in the estate of Hagley Hall, Worcestershire, England). Among other places the graffiti has appeared on the Hagley Obelisk near to where woman’s body was discovered. The victim, whose murder was estimated to have occurred in 1941, remains unidentified.
The next City Voices is in February and will be love themed, with guests including Kuli Kohli, Yvette Layne and Bert Flitcroft.(Pancakes will be on sale in Lock Works for Shrove Tuesday).
City Voices info can be found here.
Paddling and writing along Birmingham’s canals
Ever thought of combining canoeing and writing? Well, now’s your chance. On April 23rd, Jo Bell (poet,) Alyse Fowler (gardener/writer,) and I will be doing just that. We’ll be taking groups down the industrial canals of Birmingham and using this unique perspective to inspire creative writing. Check out the press release below for full details and booking info:
£20/£16 (concessions), children £10
Need some inspiration to get writing? Want to explore hidden Birmingham?
Look no further than our series of creative walks, bike rides and canoe trips developed in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, National Trust, Birmingham Roundhouse, British Canoeing and Big Birmingham Bikes, and delivered by five fantastic writers.
Take to the waterways of Birmingham by canoe for a unique perspective on the city, returning to dry land for a writing workshop at The Roundhouse led by Alys Fowler (10am-1pm) or Jo Bell (2pm-5pm). Workshops for young people at both sessions will be led by Garrie Fletcher. Canoes and instruction supplied free of charge from British Canoeing and B-ROW.
Please dress comfortably: we advise that you don’t wear jeans, you do wear trainers, bring waterproof coat and trousers, and a complete change of clothes. The canoes have a weight restriction of 17.5 stone.
Drinks are provided free of charge but please bring a snack to sustain you.
Suitable for adults and children aged 8 and over. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Workshop 1 – 10am – 1pm (Alys Fowler)
Workshop 2 – 2pm – 5pm (Jo Bell)
Jo Bell is a former Canal Poet Laureate and currently appears on Nationwide’s ‘Voice of the People’ ads. Her poetry collection Kith is published by Nine Arches Press. She is co-writing a handbook for poets – How to be a Poet – and lives on a narrowboat.
Alys Fowler is an award-winning journalist, regular presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World and Guardian columnist. Her new book Hidden Nature charts her journey through the canals of Birmingham by canoe.
Garrie Fletcher writes short stories, novels and poems. His collection of short stories, Night Swimming, has just been published by Mantle Lane Press. He leads the Birmingham Young Writers’ Group for Writing West Midlands.
How to Book:
Please contact The BOX to book tickets on 0121 245 4455 or you can book online by clicking the button below.
One for all you poets out there. If you ever get the chance to hear Jo Bell speak or attend one of her workshops then do. She’s awesome.
The 52 project originated as a life-changing year of poetry prompts, published on this site by Jo Bell in the 52 weeks between January 1st 2014 and January 1st 2015.
Now Jo’s prompts – together with the ten written by guest poets including Helen Mort, Philip Gross and Neil Rollinson – are available in a single chunky book from Nine Arches Press. Order it here to start your own 52-week challenge in 2016, or dip in and out of it for inspiration in coming years.
Hi, only a week to go now before the Lost Districts competition launches.
You’ll remember from my earlier post that Lost Districts is all about celebrating the work of writer and poet, Joel Lane, who is sadly no longer with us. So, if you know a photographer, or visual artist, who’s based, or has work based in the West Midlands, UK, get them to check out the Lost Districts page, they could win £100 and have their work splashed across the web!
This evening I’ll be reading selected poems or possibly a short story, if only I could decide, damn this indecision!
Anyway, whatever it is it’ll be fun -blush- not because me but because of the other wonderfully talented people that’ll be there and because it’s hosted in the rather wonderful Cherry Reds on John Bright Street, Birmingham.