Leigh and Wigan Words ’07 Literary Festival.

9th April – 21st April 2007

The Chair of Ashton-in-Makerfield Writer’s club, Michael J. Hunt, also chaired the Festival which covered many events including  Workshops, Poetry Readings, Music and Drama.

                I attended ‘Hear the Word’ day on Saturday 14th April at the Derby Rooms in Leigh Library. The morning was a ‘Networking Event’, with writer’s circles and publishers in attendance. Interesting conversations, and although a ‘stranger in town’ I was made to feel very welcome.

                In the afternoon, David Lythgoe, judge of the Poetry Competition, a published poet, and winner of the Daily Telegraph Swan Hellenic Poetry Competition, presented the Awards, the winner being Ian Grey, a writer and successful film editor, with an excellent poem that touched the heart,  ‘No Flowers for Lizzie Bolden. (1890-2006)’ and linked the slavery that went on then with the human slave traffic today.

This was followed by about eighteen of us reading three or four poems each, a rich and varied selection. A relaxed and friendly atmosphere prevailed, largely due to Michael Hunt’s chairing of the event. Michael has two novels published, Matabele Gold, and The Journals of Petros Amm. Read the reviews of these excellent books on and Amazon.

                Sometime during the lunch break I sat in the square in front of the library, the Town Hall to one side, with wedding groups going in and out of the building, and a large church on the other side with amazing, large white cherry trees surrounding it. A bright sun warmed and lit the scene, inducing a pleasant torpor, which led me to write the following poem.


Stratford Writers’ FestiVAL

22nd - 24th June ‘07

            I really enjoyed the events I attended, and it was a pleasure to be in Stratford again for the first time since attending the Writers’ Festival last September. The three workshops I attended were of a high quality and well presented by Jo Roberts, Julie Boden, and Roz Goddard. Although not generally a fan of workshops I felt I did take something different away from them. There were six more workshops during the weekend, of which I heard good reports, but it was only possible to attend one each morning and one on the Friday afternoon, as they ran at the same times. The afternoon discussions, led on the Saturday by Peter McGarry, who teaches courses in creative writing, and on the Sunday by Dave Rees, Editor of Raw Edge Magazine were useful and instructive. I particularly enjoyed the ‘open mic’ sessions in the evenings, always interesting to hear different ‘voices,’ and the Sunday evening was further enlivened by an amusing duologue, between David Bradley, the actor, and Peter Cubitt, the compere. Thanks must go to Pat Watson, founder and organiser of the Festival, and Caroline Thonger, co-organiser and secretary, for causing everything to run so smoothly, and also for the very useful and well presented ‘Writers’ Directory.’


Chorley and District Writers’ Circle.
Launch of ‘Aware’ issue 02 Tuesday 28th November 2006

I spent a very pleasant evening with this group, in a beautiful room at Astly Hall, Christmas displays and garlands bright against the panelled walls. The circle is run by Carol Thistlethwaite, who organised this event. A member of the RSPB, she writes unusual and beautiful poems about birds, also well observed poems about people and happenings.

Writers with work in the magazine gave readings of their poetry or prose, I was pleased to have been asked to contribute, although not a member of the group. This continued after an interval for refreshments and an opportunity to mingle. The evening was further enlivened by a trio, ‘The Breeze Blocks,’ who got the evening off to a good start playing blues influenced music, and again in the interval.

Astley Hall was rebuilt in the sixteenth century by Robert Charnock, when the walls of the courtyard were restored in 1952 the original wattle and daub were found at the base, a legacy from what is thought to have been a two storied timber building in earlier times. A great setting for a poetry event.

Stratford-upon-Avon Writers’ Festival.
29th September –1st October 2006

Pat Watson was Chair of the Writers’ Festival, held at various venues in the town, and a great success she and the committee made of it. Pat has published a novel, ‘Yesterday’s Child’ and a poetry collection, ‘Relative Values.’ The launch was on the evening of Friday 29th, by invitation only, and included a Prize-Giving for Schools’ Short Story Competition Winners. The Workshops on the Saturday and Sunday mornings were useful and enjoyable, the Discussions in the afternoons were helpful and enlightening Both started with a panel of speakers giving their views, then an open forum. On Saturday the subject was ‘Getting Published’ (of interest to all writers!) on Sunday, ‘Approaches to Writing.’ Bookstalls, refreshments, a chance to talk and meet people. The evenings, at the ‘White Swan’ and the ‘Falcon’ hotels were open mike sessions, ably compered by Bob Mee,editor of’Iota,’ and Brenda Tai Layton, Warwick’s Poet Laureate. Altogether a most enjoyable weekend.

Poetry Cornwall Festival 2005.
30th September – 2nd October 2005

cornwall coastline

In September 2005 I attended the Poetry Cornwall Festival, held in the Chasewater Village Hall. It was an excellent event, organised by Les Merton, editor of the magazine ‘Poetry Cornwall’ a very good and well known poet himself.

Friday evening, a large audience, a buzz and hum of excitement, until the plaintiff notes of a Cornish piper drifted through the hall, followed by readings from D.M. Thomas, (of ‘White Hotel’ fame), Penelope Shuttle, and Caroline Carver. It was inspiring to hear their poems. Bert Biscoe and Pol Hodge gave a true Cornish slant to the proceedings, followed by music fromWill Coleman, Liz Rowe Keith, and Clarinda Truscott. A very good evening, a fine start to the Festival.

Saturday I arrived early, in time to look at the bookstalls before the first session,’Meet the Editors’, it was very interesting to hear a group of them talking in turn about the magazines they publish.The rest of the morning was taken up by readings from many of the poets whose work they publish, the afternoon session starting with poets reading in Cornish and translation, also translations from Breton, followed by an hour of dialect poetry, then more general readings from the rest of us, which went on through the evening after a meal at the Inn down the road. Les Merton compered all the events with charm and humour.

Sunday followed the same pattern, a very relaxed atmosphere by now, and plenty of opportunities to talk and get to know fellow poets on both days.

Refreshments were served in the Hall, and very good too, but I think the genuine Cornish Pasties were the biggest hit. A word of praise for the ladies who organised it all, and ran the bar. The Hall itself is impressive, a modern building in a lovely setting of woods and trees. It was really enjoyable, and always a pleasure to hear other poets read their work. The Festival was a success in many ways, it raised over £500. for The Campaign for a Cornish Assembly, a cause very dear to Les Merton's heart. My only worry is that Les may now be too busy to organise another Festival, as he’s becoming quite famous and very busy, and more so since the release of his CD, ‘Beat Reality’, and the accompanying book of poems. However, many thanks to him for a great time!


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