“Confetti” on Eunoia Review and putting faces to names

I’m very pleased to say that my poem “Confetti” was published on Eunoia Review yesterday (12/07/15) – you can read it at https://eunoiareview.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/confetti-2/

The poem was written in response to one of Jo Bell’s prompts during 52 last year. I was delighted to finally meet up with Jo, Norman Hadley and the other “52ers” in Stratford-upon-Avon over the weekend. Because it was conceived as a Facebook and WordPress project, and also thanks to other commitments when the first get-together happened this time last year, I’d never met these incredible people who have become such a huge part of my life.

I drove up to Stratford on Saturday morning, dropped my overnight bag off at the B&B and had a quick wander around the town before our mid-day rendezvous. Having grown up down the road in Solihull I remember Stratford well from my childhood. Not only that, a few generations on my maternal grandmother’s side came from there and I was able to take a slow saunter past the little house in Ely Street where my great-grandmother Florence Randall was born in 1887.

We met up in the beautiful garden at Hall’s Croft, one of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s properties and had a lovely, boozy picnic while we chatted about poetry, life, the universe and everything else. There were around 50 of us in all, including many of the people who I’ve had the good fortune to publish on Clear Poetry.

It was our first chance to get our hands on the 52 anthology, which features the very best of the thousands of poems posted on Facebook last year. Over the course of several months, Jo and Norman painstakingly went through it all, arriving at a shortlist of six or seven poems for each week which they passed on to poet, editor and all round good egg Jonathan Davidson to come up with the final selection of 52.

The book is being published by the wonderful Nine Arches Press, whose Jane Commane selflessly gave up her time in order to get it laid out and printed.

Copies of the book were handed around to be signed by those present, a little like shirts on the last day of school. There’s a little bit of all of us on every page, regardless of whether we were lucky enough to have a poem chosen. I’ll treasure mine.

The Very Best of 52

It was also an unofficial launch for Zelda Chappel‘s first collection, The Girl In The Dog-Tooth Coat which is being published by Bare Fiction, and I had a nice chat with Zelda and (Bare Fiction main man) Robert Harper while grabbing a signed copy.

The Girl In The Dog-Tooth Coat

Having consumed plenty of picnic, cider and even some excellent homemade Sloe Gin courtesy of Jennifer McGowan, it was time to wobble off mob-style to our reading at the Shakespeare Centre where we had the chance to hear most of the assembled throng perform their work. It’s funny – you read a poet’s work but until you actually here them read it for themselves I don’t think you really get the full picture.

Given my family connection to Stratford, choosing a suitable poem to read didn’t take long. Reading “Firsts”, which is about my mum, was an emotional experience but I managed to hold it together and received a warm round of applause.

After that it was time to up sticks and move again, this time to the Dirty Duck near the RSC, where we took over an area of decking in the beer garden and drank even more.

I had a brilliant time, and I’ve a feeling it won’t be the last time we all get together…

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