On tour!

One of the great things about being published by Indigo Dreams is the sense of community which Ronnie and Dawn foster among their poets. The monthly IDP email newsletter is a case in point – it carries information about new books, as well as readings and achievements by the “stable mates”. That often results in us connecting via social media and helps keep everyone up to speed with what we’re all doing.

In March a few of us (with books either just published or about to come out) started a group chat on Facebook with the aim of organising a series of readings in our respective home towns. The result is that we have two definite dates booked on what we’ve dubbed our “tour” (!), in Exeter on Thursday 6th October (which is also National Poetry Day) and Bristol on Sunday 9th. Both gigs are listed on each city’s poetry festival programme. We also hope to be able to arrange further readings in Swindon, Oxford and Cardiff/South Wales in the next couple of months.

idp_bristol_gig_poster

The group consists of Simon Williams, Bethany Pope, Mab Jones, Ben Ray and I, although Ben can’t now make the Exeter gig so his place will be taken by another IDP poet, Helen Boyles.

Organising the Bristol leg of our tour has been fun. I had a few possible venues in mind but settled in the end on The Arts House, which is a really nice little café in bohemian Stokes Croft. It’s run as a co-op and the owners have given us the use of their atmospheric 40-seater basement and PA free of charge.

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The basement at The Arts House

The venue already hosts a couple of regular spoken word/open mic events as well as gigs by local bands so it looks like a good fit. I considered setting up a ticketing facility online with something like Eventbrite, but to be honest it costs so much that it just isn’t worth doing. Instead we’re charging £3 on the door, with the proceeds split between us to cover travelling expenses. Everyone will have copies of their books to sell.

Simon Williams, who, with his wife Susan Taylor, has been organising arts events in the South West for some time, has designed some posters which will be popping up both online and in and around the venues. We’ve also created Facebook event pages which can be used as a handy way of gauging likely audience numbers as well as publicising the events.

Of course, it’s very helpful that we’ve managed to get both events added to the official programmes for the Bristol and Exeter Poetry Festivals, and as such we’re listed in their marketing material. It’s nice, too, that the Exeter gig takes place on National Poetry Day, so hopefully people in the Exeter area will come out for their fix of live verse! Both festivals have excellent line-ups this year and will be well worth checking out.

As well as this, I read at the Can Openers event on Friday 2nd September. Even though the usual venue was closed for refurbishment we had a really big turnout at the old fire station in central Bristol. The first half took place outside in the courtyard without a microphone but the high buildings all around us really helped with the acoustics. Unfortunately it started drizzling halfway through my set and although I thought poetry in the rain was actually quite fitting, we decamped to one of the dance studios upstairs. As usual there was a really high standard in the open mic section, and I enjoyed reading some poems from Communing as well as another nine or ten which have either appeared around and about or which I thought would go down well with a partisan crowd!

In early August I popped along to Angie Belcher‘s South Bank Speakeasy at the South Bank Club in Bristol. It was a top night of performance poetry with a really good open mic contingent. I was first up with a couple of my more “performancey” poems, which seemed to go down well. I particularly enjoyed the headliner, Robert Garnham‘s hilarious set from his Static show, which he was about to take to the Edinburgh Fringe. He was ably supported on the night by another Devon resident, Ian Beech. I hadn’t seen any performance poetry for a long time and it made me think about trying to write more material in this vein…you have been warned!

I’m also hoping to get involved with a new organisation called Portishead Arts, who are aiming to put on an Arts Trail or festival in the town, showcasing the work of its members. They’re holding a small exhibition between 22-30 September at the Lido Café so I’ve decided to pop along and have a chat to see how I might fit in.

In other news, I’ve had some success getting poems published, most of which can be read via my Published Work page:

And Other Poems, Josephine Corcoran’s excellent online journal, featured ‘Pineapple as a metaphor for life’ recently
‘Down in the Dumps’ was in London Grip’s New Poetry section
Two poems (‘Body Stories’ and ‘Welcome’) were included in Lakeview.
Another poem will be on Amaryllis on 26th September.
Two poems will feature in the excellent The High Window in December.
The Broadsheet will include one of my poems – it’s due out in October.
At the fourth or fifth attempt I’ve managed to get a poem accepted by Jane Commane for Nine Arches Press’ excellent Under the Radar Magazine; that might be the best news of all!

Latest stats for 2016: Submissions – 29, Acceptances – 13, Rejections – 12, Awaiting an answer – 5 (1 from July 2015)

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