Things have been busy in Shropshire Libraries!
Open Mic Night - Tuesday 23rd January 2018
Open Mic night with Drayton Writers showcased variety of local writers and poets to a nearly sold out audience.
Poetry Postcards Poets - Tuesday 28th November 2017
Three fantastic poets, Simon Fletcher, Jeff Phelps and Brenda Read-Brown performed their poems to a crowd in Market Drayton Library. They also included their beautiful poetry postcards poems, which you can still pick up in libraries across West Midlands.
Tony Walsh - Saturday 21st October 2017 at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms in partnership with Ludlow Library and Poetry on Loan
Tony Walsh presented his debut collection, Sex & Love & Rock&Roll. Filled with accessible, musical poems; influenced by the songs which soundtrack our lives; brimming with northern warmth and humour; propelled by passion and compassion as their bassline and their beat.
Flocks of Words - Friday 7th July 2017 at Shrewsbury Library
A collaboration between award-winning acoustic trio Whalebone and award-winning poet and author Kate Innes, Flocks of Words is an immersive, hypnotic blend of music and poetry exploring landscape and the human soul. Grounded in the Shropshire Hills where the artists live and work, the sounds and language quickly become the audience’s own and the themes universal. First half of the show, so keep an eye out for the second half.
Brian Patten – 22 October 2016 at Ludlow Assembly Rooms
It was a pleasure having Brian Patten with us as it gave our day kudos within the poetry sphere. Having an artist like this enabled us to reach out to new audiences that we might not be able to get to engage with us normally. Having a high profile event like this in a rural community and in the afternoon, enabled us to not only entertain and engage an audience, it enabled us to promote future poetry events being held later that day to an audience we know have an interest in poetry
Poetry Postcards Poets - 4 October 2016 at Market Drayton Library
Three poets – Cathy Whittaker, Emma Purshouse and Spoz – consecutively performed twenty minute sets. Cathy performed a quieter piece to start the proceedings, which worked well against the energetic sets of Emma and Spoz for the rest of the hour. The feedback from all concerned was very positive. The poets seemed to enjoy themselves and the attendees were uniformly enthusiastic. The length and number of sets seemed just right for the audience. It was a real bonus for the event that the artists remained behind to converse with everyone in a casual setting over refreshments. It was so much fun we forgot to take photographs.
Emma Purshouse - Celebrate Age Day – 21 May 2016
Oswestry Library and Oswestry Equality Group recently hosted an information day designed to help people aged 50-plus find out more about leisure, fun, learning and day care opportunities in our community. Representatives from more than fifteen local societies and organisations were available for a chat at the library.
Among clubs and groups attending were Oswestry Leisure Centre, Men in Sheds, Oswestry & Borders Flower Club, Age UK, Oswestry Golf Club, Dial-a-Ride, Extend/Wise & Well, Oswestry Association for the Elderly, Oswestry U3A, Oswestry Day Centre, Swan Mere Day Centre, North Shropshire College, Oswestry Borders U3A, Oswestry Bridge Club and many more.
Mark Shone, Oswestry Library’s resident volunteer IT expert, was on hand to help with computer or tablet issues, while poet Emma Purshouse gathered visitors’ thoughts on ageing for addition to a group poem during the event. Staff from Shropshire Community Directory were also in attendance to match those looking for a specific interest or leisure group with what’s available locally.
Let’s Celebrate Age!
looking forward for new challenges,
freedom from responsibility,
forgetting about the dis
and trying to focus on the ability.
It’s planting trees to give back to Mother Nature
for a good life lived well,
it’s time to ponder and to wonder,
it’s having a story to tell.
painting and canal art,
tai chi and clay,
it’s singing and history
with the WEA.
It’s walking for health,
and it’s getting on your bike.
It’s more time for the dog,
and it’s saying what you like!
a chance to meet new people.
It’s wearing out, not rusting out.
It’s remembering to take your tablets,
it’s Dial-A-Ride to get about.
It’s not sitting doing nothing.
It’s a time to be timeless.
It’s a chance to make a difference.
It’s listening to the wireless.
the way to happiness,
it’s playing bridge three times a week.
It’s looking pretty in pink,
and it’s a pair of dancing feet.
It’s, ‘How much beer can I drink?
Before it’s too late!’
It’s looking good,
and it’s feeling great.
‘a number -
and mine is fifteen!’
It’s being as old as you feel
and still having a dream.
It’s not doing the things
that you used to do,
but then turning your hand
to try something new.
renovating a doll’s house
at Oswestry Men’s Shed,
which is better than the alternative
(i.e. being dead!)
It’s searching for Yr Awen
(that’s Welsh for poetic muse),
it’s having more common sense,
it’s expressing your views.
not a label to apply to yourself.
It’s ending polio at the Rotary Club.
It’s embracing new technology.
It’s a meal at the nearby pub.
It’s a jolly with your mates,
It’s contributing to a rhyme.
It’s lighting a fire where you are.
It’s one hell of a good time!
· Apparently Bridge is the most fun you can have with your clothes on!
· ‘Lighting a fire where you are’ is taken from Corinne Bailey Rae lyric.
· The final line was contributed by a 91 year old woman, who did indeed seem to be enjoying herself!
A Poetry on Loan poem created by performance poet Emma Purshouse from lines donated by visitors to the Oswestry Library Celebrating Age Event – 21st May 2016.
Approximately 30 ideas were given as to what should be included in the poem Some of the ideas were given by couples or small groups who discussed answers before agreeing on a collective response, so in real terms the engagement of people was higher than 30. Many people stopped for a general chat and quite a few people were interested in writing and poetry so I was able to signpost them to local events and groups.
A poem on age… contributed by Rachel Young
(written during the event)
Thoughts and memories of a time long since past
And the recollecting of an era that could never last
Getting used to new things, tablets and IPads
Learning to play bowls and a day mowing grass.
Time filled with laughter, sadness and regrets,
Golden sunny memories of past friends and events
Grandchildren playing and pulling at my skirt
After they have been, digging in the dirt.
Wet sticky kiss and hugs that make you hurt.
Mandy Ross - Baby Shower – 9 April 2016
The Baby Shower Event was received very positively by stall holders and attendees. Mandy Ross was very visible and her instant poetry was very well received by all who she spoke to. Parents grinned as she handed over their poems.
Baby wishes at Bridgnorth Library
We wish your baby well
At Bridgnorth library
We welcome babies
At Bridgnorth library
And we welcome all who
Wish Bridgnorth babies well.
An April shower of wishes
Indoors and out,
A shower of stories and
Poems and cake and advice
For mums and babies,
Daddies and grannies,
A celebration of collaboration
For the babies of Bridgnorth.
We wish you well!
I am won over to instant poetry! I was unsure how it would work but the gentleness and warmth of Mandy Ross was perfect for the event. Thank you.
Pop-up poet held captive in Oswestry!
Popular Poetry on Loan poet Jonny Fluffypunk found that his poetry on demand was so much in demand in Oswestry Library that he couldn't get away. Jonny engaged with people of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes, and wrote about 15 tailor-made poems. Everyone lost count of the final number! Overall about 100 people got involved. Not bad, for poetry.
Three finalists chosen for Shropshire's 2nd Young Poet Laureate
Wenlock Poetry Festival is thrilled to announce that Oliver Turner, Emma Fletcher and Hazel Rogers have made the 2015 shortlist for the Young Shropshire Poet Laureate.
Laureate Ambassador Emma Purshouse and outgoing Laureate Mia Cunningham chose the shortlisted candidates after hosting a special Laureate workshop at Shrewsbury Library on Saturday March 21st – World Poetry Day – that was attended by 5 long-listed young poets. The workshop, kindly supported by Poetry on Loan, showcased an exceptional long-list of what Emma and Mia called, “A great bunch of poets,” all defined by their own unique writing style. “They all had incredible potential,” says the first Young Shropshire Poet Laureate Mia Cunningham. “The next round should be very exciting for all involved.”
Why not come and see the next round? The new Laureate will be selected at an event on 25th April, 12 noon, at The Edge Arts Centre - a chance to hear all the three contenders giving their best.
Workshop to launch Shropshire's Books on Prescription Dementia collection
Jean Atkin led a poetry-writing workshop at Whitchurch library as part of the launch of Shropshire Libraries Books on Prescription Dementia collection. Jean has a lot of experience of working with people with dementia, and as well as helping the participants write their own poems, she talked to them about her work.
Comments from participants included:
'An excellent workshop very expertly run by Jean Atkin. As a poet I got a great deal from it.'
‘Excellent. Lots of ideas – thank you so much!’
‘Very helpful, wonderful tutor (creative and helps with editing!!!)’
'Super – very helpful and provided further work.’
And here is a poem written by one of the participants, David Subacchi:
A chain of beads with a faded cross
Leather cased in my bedside drawer
Warm to the touch like his grandfather’s hands
He would not visit church without them
For six days kept as safe as jewels
On the seventh wrapped around his wrist
“God’s shackles” my father said.
It's all been really busy in Shropshire!
Spoz and Brenda Read-Brown were in Market Drayton library in October, writing poems on demand. They were kept very busy for thier two hours, writing poems about gardens, knitting, somebody's granddaughter, and cats, among other topics. Here is one of Spoz's poems:
King Eric the fat
Is a black and white cat.
He’s been spoilt rotten since birth.
Rules the garden and house,
Slain many a mouse
And is tended by Sarah – the serf.
He gets his way
Every night, every day
With his pals Ghost and Ozzy next door,
There’s Oscar there too,
A cool British Blue
And combined, they’re the fantastic four.
This feline quartet
Are the coolest cats yet
As they prowl Mirka’s friend’s neighbourhood.
They all live it large,
Because they are in charge.
Well they’re cats – and they
Rule as cats should!
Combined Arts Workshop at Market Drayton Library
One of Poetry on Loan's focus areas has been cross-artform workshops. PoL's Shropshire representative, Mirka Duxberry, ran a combined arts workshop herself on Thursday 30 October 2014, in Market Drayton Library. It went down a treat! Comments from the participants included:
Thank you. I have not had such an enjoyable morning for a long time. Decidedly I am not artistic or a poet but was really pleased with what I produced under your guidance.
This workshop was beautifully led. Most creative, most enjoyable and very stimulating. I look forward to doing this again!
Here is one of the poems from the workshop:
In Japan, woman waits,
counting click, metal, tick, restless,
till catches sight
Travellers counting their beats,
counting, not restless, time,
time rhythms, sunlit.
Young people's workshop
Kurly McGeachie ran a workshop for young people aged 12 to 18 years old with the young writers group – Write to the Point! - at Ludlow Library on Saturday 11 October 2014.
‘Kurly was brilliant, he was very good with the young people and got all of us involved.’
Gill Millatt, Branch Manager at Ludlow Library
World War 1 workshop with Jonny Fluffypunk at Bridgnorth Library
Jonny Fluffypunk ran a really interesting poetry writing workshop based on the black and white photographs from the book The First World War In Photographs by Richard Holmes; this was on Saturday September 27th, during Bridgnorth History Week.
Here's one of the poems written during the workshop:
Why Grandad Won’t Talk
There are those who know
how it feels when confronted
by the sea of Germans
crossing the poppy field.
Exhausted by the march
where the knee buckles,
with a weapon by their side
like their sweetheart bride.
There are those who stared
into the hollow eyes
of a human shell
with no more dreams.
Dinner for vermin.
Those who written letter
in a muddy dug out,
a dying candle by their side, alone,
shrouded in a smoke of memories.
There are those who felt
the coldness of the tin
with the Queen’s picture embossed.
No warmth seeped through
by this gesture.
Those who felt the dread
at being picked at random,
told to shoot with no mercy
at the man with no name.
There are those who know
and those who don’t.
Young Poet Laureate at Wenlock Poetry Festival
Our Young Poet Laureate Mia Cunningham performed at Wenlock Poetry Festival - 25 April 2014, at The Edge Arts Centre and 27 April 2014, Much Wenlock Methodist Church. She's been getting rave reviews!
Drawing and poetry party
On 15th March, Mia Cunningham (Shropshire's Young Poet Laureate) and Leo Donaghy appeared at the Willow Gallery as part of the Oswestry LitFest. Mia read her poems and Leo Donaghy drew faces of people listening. A relaxed and chilled afternoon of poetry and art.
Girls on top
As part of the Bishop's Castle Arts Festival, there was a poetry event at Bishop’s Castle Library on 9th February. The Stand Up for Poetry event with Pat Townsend poems by Gwyneth Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, and Liz Lochhead.
Love in the library
To celebrate National Libraries Day and the imminent arrival of Valentine’s day Fergus McGonigal came to Shrewsbury Library on February 8th to help lovelorn customers by writing love poems for them. With his bright pink hair and friendly outgoing attitude he soon drummed up business. In fact he was writing non-stop from 10am until 2pm. Young children wanted poems for their mums and dads, husbands for their wives and blushing young lads for their girlfriends. It was a perfect day for love in the library.
Here are a couple of Fergus' poems - kept anonymous, to spare blushes!
My Zumba Valentine
Oh, be my Zumba Valentine,
Yes, say you will, please do!
My perfectly proportioned love,
My Valentine, my Sue!
I love your effervescence, dear,
I love you loads and oodles!
And yes, I even love you more,
Than our two labradoodles!
So take my hand and Zumba me,
From six till half-past nine,
And promise me you’ll always be
My Zumba Valentine!
This Year’s Valentine
This year, I nominate as Valentine
not some unworthy boy who couldn’t shine
inside a factory of torches, but
my Mum. Her smile’s so bright that you could shut
the sun down for a week and all the flowers
would greet the day as normal. All the hours
she spends on smiling, simply being kind,
or telling me she “loves me loads”… combined,
these hours would last forever, maybe longer.
My feelings for my Mum could not be stronger,
and if I could I’d make sure all her books
were marked by magic. Also, my Mum cooks,
she bakes, is funny and, of course – she’s mine!
And so, this year, she’ll be my Valentine!
Local poets' voices heard!
Ian Parr and Pam Moyle, members of the Whitchurch Writers' Group, had poems broadcast in January as part of a programme called Poets' Corner, on Birkenhead Vintage Radio. Ian says of the Writers' Group, ‘We are a lovely and very mixed interest crowd so we have lots of variety including one or two younger writers, poets who are just starting to find their voice.’
This is a poem by Ian Parr - one of those broadcast:
Roads – June to August 2013
Roll through rural green Lorraine.
Slip by hamlets , villages where
boulangeries and depots de pain served
traditional ways. They skip by
our quick-step time – slow, slow, quick-
quick, slow; their old pace preserved, more
pavanne-like . And so it is they die.
Build new communes from old revolutions;
wars’ noise and stench of death
should have willed a national change. “Return!”
meant if left unsaid. It seems they did.
Mitterand’s children do otherwise, leaving
chequered fields, farms full of storks and swallows,
their fathers’ yesteryears and maybe sorrows.
German autobahns and highways deny road-kill.
Verges, fields grow what is planned.
Man’s humanity surges till it maketh free
all that can show it has a place.
Engineered roadways are maintained in
scrupulous disregard for such casual taste
of one who travels in interest and not in haste.
So journey on in your own desperate oblivion
if that you choose. “We are the euro,”
they say, these roads. “Manage cost,
count on value’s true addition.
For what can Beethoven, Schiller, Goethe,
Marx bring to that?” I say, “Prost!”
and “Arbeit!” “You may proceed but don’t get lost.”
Road of many names, thousand tonnes an hour road,
roads that become one such long one-dimensioned route
to convey ourselves without effort, or at least not much.
My mother, then a girl, she took the Boat Train
towards her mother’s eastern skies between
slump and slum; far from cotton queens
and twenty years of pain to come.
We follow not the iron road but metalled one
of battles fought in civil wars along our route.
Who will remember this another century on?
Disunity and reversible migrations:
themes of endless threats, is there comfort?
Count the miles, speak the towns aloud,
tune into classic music stations.
Ian M Parr
Some notes: Written in Germany, France and at home starting en-route to Germany June/July 2013 and ending with a journey to East Anglia.
Poetry in Market Drayton Youth Club
19 young people from a local secondary school took part in this poetry workshop at Market Drayton Youth Club run by Kurly McGeachie. It was an inspiring and a very dynamic session with lyrics writing and rap (rhythm and poetry). They loved it!
Poetry on demand
Jonny Fluffypunk and Fergus McGonigal were back in Shropshire on 12th October, providing poems on demand for visitors to the libraries in Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury. Anyone could ask for a poem; a poet spent some time talking to them, and wrote a bespoke poem to suit, right there and then. A Shrewsbury librarian said, “It was fantastic fun with much laughter, a great buzz and lots of interaction throughout the session. Around twelve poems were written with customers asking for subjects such as ginger cats, smelly dogs, hungry horses and a diabetic penguin. Lots more people chatted with the poets during the afternoon. Everyone was a satisfied customer going home clutching their personal poems.”
Click to see some of the poems.
Poet Jonny Fluffypunk spent lunchtime on 10th October working with people in the Ark, a drop-in centre in Shrewsbury.
Poetry hour in Market Drayton and Whitchurch
Market Drayton has a Damson Fair; Whitchurch has a Blackberry Fair, and they were both on October 5th. What better way to celebrate these than with a performance poet? Fergus McGonigal entertained the crowds with very lively performances in his unmitakable style. As one person said, “Everyone enjoyed Fergus, it brightened our day!”
Shropshire Young Poet Laureate
The first ever Shropshire Young Poet Laureate is Mia Cunningham, who is 14 and lives in Much Wenlock.
Seventeen young poets applied for the post of Young Poet Laureate for Shropshire. It was hard enough to bring this down to a shortlist of four, but the judges at the Young Poet Laureate event on 25th September had an even more difficult job to decide which of the four would win through. All four - Mia, Oliver Turner, Emily Oldham and Cara Squires - are talented poets, but this in itself was not enough. Shropshire Libraries and the Wenlock Poetry Festival were looking for someone who would inspire other young people and represent them.
All four poets presented themselves really well, but Mia had the edge, and she was awarded a trophy and a box full of poetry books. What’s more, she will have mentoring from two experienced poets (supported by Poetry on Loan) - Spoz and Jeff Phelps.
We look forward to seeing what Mia can do during her year as Shropshire’s Young Poet Laureate.
Open Mic proved very popular at Market Drayton Library. This was led by Drayton Writers, who read their own poetry and prose. 25 people attended and 15 read, with ages ranging from 21 to 75 Everyone went home inspired and elated.
‘This was a most enjoyable enterprising evening. Talent abounds in this town and area. Good to see sharing of ages and ideas. Good to come together and grow in confidence.’ Comment from audience member.
Afternoon poety event
A free afternoon poetry event at Whitchurch Library with Win Saha and Simon Fletcher from Offa’s Press on 12 February 2013 attracted 21 contemporary poetry listeners, who all enjoyed the creative and inviting atmosphere.