Tag Archives: Loose Muse

14 Great Poetry Gigs to Celebrate

Postcards (Collage 3)Writing poetry is one thing. Marketing it, quite another. This is where poetry gigs can come into their own. Over the last year, I’ve taken my poetry pamphlet, Later There Will Be Postcards, on a whistle stop tour of some great venues.

Green Bottle Press launched the pamphlet last October at SLAM Kings Cross – a delightful venue with an ornate horseshoe balcony and music hall feel.  So far so great – a nice turn out of friends and poetry well-wishers, plus stablemates Tracey Rhys and Yvonne Piper launching their own books too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGBP Postc (Joolz pic)My editor, Jennifer Gregg, had arranged a pre-launch at The Torriano Meeting House – a little piece of literary history tucked away in Kentish Town, which is also home to the imprint Hearing Eye.  I featured there with fellow Green Bottle Press poet Sarah Sibley, reading from her PBS acclaimed pamphlet The Withering Room.  I was there again two weeks later to feature with poets Alan Price and Louise Warren, and enjoy the usual high quality open-mic readers.

In February I was invited to read two of my poems at Palewell Press‘s launch of a powerful book about refugees – Three Days in Damascus, a memoir by Kim Schultz. The venue was The Hive in Dalston, a really wacky, welcoming space full of contemporary art, great coffee and a happening feel to it.  Handy for the Jeffrey Museum too.

Magma 67 launchMagma being one of my top three favourite literary mags (no, I’m not telling!) I was thrilled to be asked to read two of my poems at the launch of its 67th issue (Bones & Breath) at The London Review Bookshop – handy for the British museum. The distinctive L-shaped room is surprisingly good acoustically, and there’s a real buzz sitting in such close proximity to so many books. Perhaps most inspiring is the quality of listening you get at a Magma launch.

Best-of-British-cover[1] And now let’s hear it for Royal Tunbridge Wells, and in particularly that adventurous publisher Paper Swans Press, who launched their Best of British Anthology at The George, not so far from the pantiles where Jane Austin may have sipped a Bacardi Breezer or two (or the Regency equivalent). My fellow contributors gathered from all corners of the UK to share offerings on the topic of British Life.

PAE Centrala 2April saw me in Birmingham’s Centrala Gallery, a great space which specialises in Eastern European art, and overlooks the Grand Union Canal. It was all part of the Birmingham Literature Festival. With Arts Council funding, our UK/Romanian collective PoetryArtExchange could afford to pay for three British poets and two Romanian poets plus a Polish saxophonist to perform poetry to an avant-garde sound track of words and musical sounds. I really let my hair down on castanets, tambourine and ball point pen! PAE - John Riley

Written in Water Constable event 6 May posterBrighton Museum, inside the Prince Regent’s fantasy palace with its minarets and flamboyant painted dragons, is a unique venue. For this year’s Brighton Festival, The Frogmore Press invited a contingent of Brighton-based poets to read their work inspired by clouds and sea. What a delight to share words in front of a magnificent collection of John Constable paintings and sketches.  There was an excellent turn out from the public, some of whom didn’t expect this added extra but stopped to listen to such poets as Clare Best, Maria Jastrzebska, Mandy Pannett, Jeremy Page, Lyn Thomas and Marek Urbanowicz. Thank you to Alexandra Loske for inviting us.

Beyond WordsIf you live within reach of south London, count yourself lucky. Beyond Words at the Gipsy Hill Tavern, is one of the most consistently enjoyable spoken word events and punches well above its weight. Hosts Angela Brodie and Caroline Vero invited me to feature in the summer, alongside Jim Alderson. What could be more convenient than a 2 minute walk to the train station and then up to Victoria in an eye-wink? I got home to Brighton in time for a nightcap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALoose Muse Covent Garden, run by the inimitable Agnes Meadows, welcomed me as feature poet in June, alongside novelist SV Berlin and blogger Naomi Woddis. Later in Ocober I had the pleasure of featuring at the Winchester’s Loose Muse, alongside Jessica Mookherjee. I had time to visit some Winchester’s wonderfully preserved heritage (including King Arthur’s round table) before heading for The Discovery Centre, which was buzzing with interested poets thanks to organiser Sue Wrinch’s warm and efficient hospitality. I even managed to sell ten copies of Later There Will Be Postcards which is (and will probably remain) a personal best. We were the closing act of the UK-India Festival of Words set up by Sue, which included a flash fiction workshop, a free Bollywood film, poetry workshops and performances by Mona Arshi, Rishi Dastidar and Martyn Crucefix. Aminur

The Indian subcontinent continued to exert its effects, this time through the Bangla poet, Aminur Rahman, who was over in the UK to promote his latest collection, Perpetual Diary. Agnes Meadows organised an evening at The Sun Covent Garden, where Aminur charmed us with his readings in English and Bengali, and Isabel White, Racheal Joseph and myself were the supporting acts.

Petersfield Write Angle 2017Petersfield in Hampshire is a delightful  town with a market-place, herb garden and lovely winding river that runs through its Tudor and Georgian houses. It’s also home to a wonderfully eclectic poetry night – Petersfield Write Angle – run by Leah and Jake Cohen. Petersfield - Claire Dyer They invited myself and novelist/poet Claire Dyer to fill the feature slot for August (always the third Tuesday of the month). The venue is intimate and quirky, and the open mic drew some extraordinary performances, including a wonderful harpist.

Ver poets poster 17I travelled up to St Albans, burial place of Harold (arrow-in-the eye) Godwinson to feature at a Ver Poets Reading, alongside John Mole and Caroline Vero. St Albans public library was a joy – warm, bright and inviting, with an attentive mix of Ver poets and members of the public making up the audience.  John was reading from his Shoestring Press collection Gestures & Counterpoints, and Caroline shared some of her most up-to-the-minute poems.   Chroma 1d

Chroma 1And the final event I featured in this year, was the launch of the brand new lit mag Chroma at Brighton’s bijou ONCA Gallery.  Chroma will focus on a different colour each issue. Issue one is red and heart-stoppingly gorgeous to look at. The launch was awash with talented young artists, musicians and writers, and there was a beautifully curated exhibition of some of photographs and poems  (including my own I’m proud to say).  So thank you to Emma Phillips for fashioning such a sumptuous read!

Copies of Later There Will Be Postcards are still available at £6.20 plus p&p from: GREEN BOTTLE PRESS

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Alleluiah’s marital secrets gets mini-tour

After two fantastic nights at the Lost Theatre in February, I just couldn’t bring myself to put the lid on my 5 minute play ‘Alleluiah’. Stephanie James was stunning as Bridget, a woman on the cusp of adultery, walking the fine line between humour and pain brilliantly. So a mini-tour was born. (yes, let’s push the envelope – more than one performance qualifies as a tour!!)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStephanie performed first at ‘Beyond  Words’ in Gipsy Hill, followed by another gig at Loose Muse at the Poetry Cafe. Audiences were warm and appreciative. Watch this space for news of further performances in the coming year.

If you missed the show, here’s a film of ‘Alleluiah’ courtesy of The Lost Theatre:

Loose Muse hits Manchester, London and Cornwall with Women’s New Writing

MMMmmm, luscious cover and when you open it – what an assortment! So many melt-in-your mouth fabulous poems and short stories to choose from.

Loose Muse Anthology Spring 2014It’s Loose Muse’s fifth anthology – triple-launched in London, Manchester and Cornwall and celebrating the creative talents of 50 women British and international writers aged between 20 and 91!

Some of my favourites? Balaba Aseka’s ‘The Boda Boda Rider’; Anne Macaulay’s terrifying ‘The Dive’; Sue John’s powerfully damning ‘Instructions for a Summer Wedding’; Nancy Charley’s touching ‘Finding Gold’; the street-wise ‘Dyke Spotting’ by Emma Wootton; the witty ‘Apple’ by SaraMae Tuson; plus some great stories by Hilaire,  Isabel White, Fiona Read and Joolz Sparkes.

I’m lucky enough to  have had three of my own poems included, together with my short play ‘Enemy’ (set on the Russian Front in 1943) which was performed at The Lost Theatre Company’s 5 Minute Play Festival last December.

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To view a film of the play, click on: http://youtu.be/7yvt1Z34rEo

Loose Muse is London’s only regular women’s writers night which has been running continuously since 2005 at The Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden, London. It meets at 8pm on the second Wednesday of each month (except August). It offers a friendly and fun atmosphere for women to perform open mic. Men are always welcome to make up the audience!

To buy copies of the latest anthology (or back-copies of the previous four) go to: www.loose-muse.com or contact Agnes Meadows at agnespoet@gmail.com The anthologies are also available to read in the reference section of The Saison Poetry Library in the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London.

The anthology’s front cover artwork is ‘Dismantled’ by Lorraine Clarke, who has also designed all the previous Loose Muse covers. Loose Muse Anthology Spring 13Loose Muse (Autumn 2013)

Cropped Loose Muse Anthology

Poems break down barriers on the Northern Line

Tube travel. You know the score. No chat. No eye-contact. There I am, nose deep in my hot-off-the-press Loose Muse anthology, when a handsome young Spaniard leans over, points to a word in Steph Pike’s poem ‘Sea Shanty’ and asks “What does ‘shore’ mean?”  Cue an interesting discussion on semantics before the interchange at Oxford Circus parts us forever.Loose Muse (Autumn 2013)

The moral of the story?  A Loose Muse anthology can seriously pep up your love life!  The latest (and fourth) issue is packed with poems by the likes of Cath Drake, Zena Edwards, Rosie Garland, Sue Johns and Agnes Meadows, plus short-stories by Niki Aguirre, Isabel White and Leila Segal among others, as well as a 5 minute surreal comedy by Claire Booker which explores the tribulations of youth unemployment and irritating parents.

“This anthology is a fabulous cornucopia of original work by women writers,” says editor Agnes Meadows, who launched London’s only continuous Women’s Writers Night nine years ago. Loose Muse offers a smorgesbrod of UK and international guests plus generous open-mic slots every third Wednesday of the month at the Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden.

For more information on Loose Muse events, including how to get hold of the latest anthology check out: http://www.loose-muse.com

The cover image is by Lorraine Clark.

 

Churchill, Booker and Ibsen – Visions of Utopia

Hills Players, BrisbaneSabina Head, of Griffith University, Brisbane, has published a fascinating paper in Drama Australia Journal in which she analyses power relationships in Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’, Claire Booker’s ‘Socks Go In The Bottom Drawer’ and Caryl Churchill’s ‘A Number’ and considers how the three playwrights enable their audiences to contemplate alternative futures.

Hills Players (1)Future Studies is a developing branch of academia which looks at the portrayal of utopias and dystopias within a range of fields including drama.  In this particular article, Sabina uses the technique of causal layered analysis to reveal a play’s depth of innovation – how dialogue and action are informed by underlying beliefs and metaphors.  

“In this half-hour comedy “Socks Go in the Bottom Drawer” (Booker, 1991), two women and their daughter visit a zoo cage to see a most interesting exhibit – a man. He shows off for them and flirts with the girl, who is interested but unimpressed by his attempts at seduction. His keeper then entertains him with a story from the distant past, in which “once upon a time, the world was ruled by men” (ibid. p.15). She then tiptoes out, leaving him to sleep. . . .

Hills Players, Australia

” The status transactions are intended to be comic, to make the audience laugh. The metaphor throughout is one of man as a quaint curiosity, of no actual use but seen as a pet to be occasionally indulged in small ways, including the pretence that he is powerful and dangerous. Clearly women control the world; they are beings of power and influence, functioning without men. The metaphors are pushed into contrast in an extreme reversal of traditional male and female roles, throwing macho male behaviour into the spotlight. . .

The plays discussed may make the present appear remarkable; equally important, they make the future debatable. The story ideas generate public response: condemnation or approval, but above all, debate. Encouraging playwrights to add to these few works is a project worth pursuing if they can inform a broad democratic process.”

To read the whole of Sabina Head’s article, please click on the following PDF  – Forward Theatre and Causal Layered Analysis http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/17-1/A03.pdf which was printed in the NJ,36, 2012.

To contact Sabina Head directly, please e-mail her at: sabina.head@uqconnect.edu.au

Loose Muse Anthology Spring 13A 5 minute drama by Claire Booker based on ‘Socks Go in the Bottom Drawer’ was recently published in the Spring 2013 Loose Muse Anthology of New Writing by Women. It is entitled ‘Last Man in Watford.’  To buy the anthology or for more details click  http://www.loose-muse.com

A Tale of Two Cities – Loose Muse hits London and Manchester!

Loose Muse Anthology Spring 13Loose Muse has just launched its third anthology of new writing by women, including work by Ivy Alvarez, Claire Booker, Miriam Halahmy, Sue Johns, Sarah Reilly and Janice Windle.

And only days after a lively launch party at Cotton’s in Clerkenwell, the All Woman Writers’ Night spread its wings and flew north to Manchester for the first of (hopefully) many Loose Muse events organised in that city by local poet and activist Steph Pike. Guest performers invited to Manchester included Agnes Meadows and Claire Booker.

Local poet Aryamati with Agnes Meadows at Manchester Loose Muse

Local poet Aryamati with Agnes Meadows at Manchester’s Loose Muse Night

Thanks to the sheer get-up-and-go savvy of Agnes and her editorial team, the Loose Muse anthology is packed with an eclectic mix of contributions from writers across the UK as well as Greece, Spain, Holland, Finland and Australia.

Celebrating her ninth year as Loose Muse co-ordinator and host, Agnes Meadows is rightly proud of the anthology: “It’s a diverse mix of high quality poetry, short stories and short plays, clearly showing that women can write with strength, passion, humour and imagination.”

Claire Booker performs 'Last Man in Watford' at London launch

Claire Booker performs ‘Last Man in Watford’ at London launch

My own contribution includes a 5 minute comedy called ‘Last Man in Watford’ set in a (dystopian?) future when women rule the world and the few remaining men are exhibited in zoos!                                     To order copies of the anthology (published by Morgan’s Eye Press) or to find out more about Loose Muse events in London or Manchester, please contact Agnes Meadows at agnespoet@gmail.com or ring her on 07789 901 667.  You can also check out the latest updates on Loose Muse by clicking the following link: http://www.loose-muse.com

Poet Angela Brodie at London launch
Poet Angela Brodie at London launch

For more information on Lorraine Clarke whose amazing art-work features on all three Loose Muse covers, please click: http://www.clarke-art.co.uk

For information on Steph Pike and Manchester Loose Muse click: http://www.about.me/stephpike                            

Appreciative audience at London launch

Appreciative audience for Caroline Vero at London launch

Natasha Morgan reads 'This Sharp Edge'
Natasha Morgan reads ‘This Sharp Edge’

Bookerplays head for the pulsing heart of Guildford

pop up poetryFirst Manchester, then Whitstable and most recently London – now Claire Booker’s short play ‘Harriet by the Swings’ is set for its home counties premiere!

If you’re in Guildford on Tuesday 19th February, get yourself down to The Bar Des Arts opposite the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre where the monthly word and music event, Pop Up Poetry, has a host of goodies in store.  Special guests will include Ernie Burns, Mel Jones, the Stokey Bard, plus ‘Harriet by the Swings’ and a second short play by Claire – ‘Rainbow Baby’.  For more details check the following link: http://www.facebook.com/PopUpPoets

Seats filling up at Loose Muse

Seats fill up at Loose Muse

And it’s all thanks to Loose Muse at Covent Garden’s Poetry Cafe – proving that networking really does makes the world go round. Pop Up Poetry host Jan Windle was reading her poetry there earlier this month on the same evening as ‘Harriet by the Swings’ and ‘Rainbow Baby’ were performed at the venue.  She and fellow Pop Up host Donall Dempsey liked what they saw. Bingo!

Claire’s two plays were also performed at Beyond Words at the Gipsy Hill Tavern, SE19 which meets on the first Tuesday of each month. For more details contact: beyond.words@aol.co.uk

Alex Gibson as Sam

Alex Gibson as Sam

Please click on the following link to see ‘Harriet by the Swings’ as filmed during its performance at the Lost Theatre, Stockwell:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBHZOSlv2b0&hd=1

Carla Espinoza as Pam

Carla Espinoza as Pam

“The actors did a fabulous job of conveying Claire Booker’s succinct script.”   Brett Evans, Editor Prole literary magazine.

Natalie Harper as Tam

Natalie Harper as Tam