After concentrating on writing and leading the project to produce our large print poetry book, Poetry in the Park, I’ve relished the chance to get on with some new visual art.
I’m refining a Linocut of one of our local jackdaws with just a few final tweaks to the carving to make. Whilst working on the design I took the chance to create an embellished digital version as well.
A few months ago I bought Procreate to use with my Apple Pencil and iPad and it has been an opened up so many new techniques. I love to draw with fountain pens so a couple of weeks ago created some digital brushes in Procreate that mimic my pens and I’ve also created some to mimic the way my Lino cutters work. Now I can sketch by hand, refine it digitally and then hand transfer, carve and handprint from Lino.
The opportunities for illustration combining traditional and digital techniques though Procreate with Pencil and Photoshop with Wacom cintiq are really interesting. There are a few larger images that l am developing which I hope to have ready for print fairs around Easter.
Many thanks to all of those who attended our launch today. Extra thanks to Nick from Hare Hill House for making us so welcome and set up to room for us, and I especially admire the upside down Christmas Tree.
With tea and coffee and a table of home made cakes, proving that some of our poets are also excellent bakers, the 40 strong audience settled down to listen to an introduction from Elizabeth White, Chair of Create and Connect who organised the project. Elizabeth spoke about the motivation and aims of our project, the reasons for producing a large print poetry book and thanked our sponsors “Crook Hill Community Benefit Fund”.
Eileen Earnshaw, a superb local poet, and I shared a couple of poems each to give some idea of the range of styles and subjects that we write about and then each of the other poets who took part in the project read some of their work from the newly published book.
The participating poets are; Denise Greenall, Eileen Earnshaw, Elizabeth White, Graham Haynes, Julie Woodrup, Marilyn Allred, Nic Holliday, Ray Stearn, Sandra Buckley, Susan Benton and myself.
Cllr. Janet Emsley, Deputy Leader of Rochdale Council, always a staunch supporter of the arts and her local community in Littleborough, read a poem on behalf of Elizabeth White and also expressed thanks to the sponsors and her hopes that we will continue to see such community based creative projects in the future.
The book, and the readings, were very well received and copies will be distributed free of charge to people experiencing sight loss, Rotary will include them in Christmas parcels and they will be distributed to care homes etc. and through MeetUp at Hare Hill House.
Next week we will be releasing copies online, freely downloadable, including a version using colours and a specialist font to make it more readable for people with dyslexia.
Elizabeth White said “the launch was really successful, the poets read from their work to a very appreciative audience. Being able to offer a large print poetry book is amazing as there are very few published in this format.”
A great event and project, I have been very impressed by all of the writers and thoroughly enjoyed running the workshops and editing the anthology.
A quick glance inside one of the boxes of books ready for tomorrow’s launch.
It is always exciting opening that box and holding a copy of a brand new book in your hand. This one is a special one being produced as it is a large print anthology helping to make poetry accessible to older people and those with some visual impairment.
The work has been inspired by the workshops that the writers attended at Hare Hill House in Littleborough. I’m really looking forward to the participating poets receiving their copies, seeing their words in print and sharing some of their poems at the launch.
if you can get along to the launch you’ll be very welcome and you will be able to collect a free copy of Poetry in the Park and enjoy light refreshment and drinks.
The Forward Arts Foundation is a charity that seeks to increase the audience for poetry, to increase the public knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of poetry in the UK and Ireland. The foundation promotes the annual National Poetry Day on the first Thursday of October, the Forward Prizes for Poetry and the Forward Book of Poetry, an annual anthology of the year’s best poems.
This year for the first time the Forward Prizes for Poetry, celebrating their 30th year were presented outside London, at the Contact Theatre in Manchester, which is celebrating its own 50th anniversary. The Prizes have become one of the most prestigious literature prizes in the UK and Forward announced at the event, that next year there will be an additional prize for the Best Single Poem Performed for the 2023 event.
The audience at the sold-out show enjoyed a wide range of excellent poetry from the five shortlisted poets in each of three categories. We were also treated to an excellent short film about the vibrant poetry scene in Manchester, the city that has become a major centre for poetry in recent years and can rival any city worldwide for the quality and quantity of new poetry being created. For those unable to attend the event it was also live streamed to an audience around the world.
After introductions from Keisha Thompson (CEO of Contact) and William Seighart (founder of the Forward Prizes) the presentation itself began.
The prize for Best Single Poem was awarded to Nick Laird (Professor of Poetry at Queens University in Belfast) for his powerful and moving poem “Up Late”, a kind of elegy for his father who he lost to Covid-19 in March 2021. The poem was long and multi-sectional but engaged the audience completely.
The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection was awarded to Stephanie Sy-Quia, for her book Amnion published by Granta Poetry. Amnion is a single book length poem and Sy-Quia read a section that spoke of her time at a boarding school in Canterbury. The poem explores questions around immigration and multiple origins. I was particularly moved by the lines; “The blonde others aspired to be described with mean, hard-nosed little words: thin, pretty, nice. I wanted big-femur words like wise and kind”.
The Forward Prize for Best Collection went to Kim Moore for her collection titled “All the Men I Never Married” published by Seren Books. Moore read poem number 7 from her book and then when presented with the Prize also read poem number 12. Her book and the poems that make it up were prompted by the research for her PHD thesis on “Poetry and Everyday Sexism” which reinforced her belief that poetry can be transformative. She wanted to write poems that could shift people’s thinking about sexism and gender-based microaggressions but had not expected it to shift her own as well. This might sound like it would appeal only to women – both are far from the truth and the whole audience thoroughly enjoyed her poems as well as, perhaps, being challenged by them.
If/when the prizes return to Manchester in 2023 I’d highly recommend the event to anyone, writer, reader of listener with an interest in poetry. The shortlisted poems, including the winners can be found on www.forwardartsfoundation.org or in the Forward Book of Poetry 2023 available from major booksellers.
The Forward Arts Foundation are supported by the BBC, Royal Mail, leading publishers and book sellers and by Arts Council England.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been editing submitted poems, selecting poems for publication, designing the layout and creating the cover for our large print anthology. After all that creative and technical work I now enter the easier, but tense, phase of waiting for copies to arrive through the post.
The book, draft cover shown here, will be launched on Friday 2nd December at 11.00am where some of the twelve contributing poets will read selected poems. There will also be opportunity to meet and speak to the poets.
Refreshments will be provided and copies of Poetry in the Park will be available to take away.
All are welcome to attend at Hare Hill House, in Hare Hill Park, Littleborough.
Seven years ago my friend and fellow poet and writer, Norman Warwick, retired to Lanzarote. Norm, part of All Cross the Arts in Rochdale, had facilitated the Touchstones Creative Writing Group every month for some years and the group was going well.
I received an email from the group secretary asking me if i would be able to facilitate their next session in October 2015 as Norm wouldn’t be around. of course I said yes and created a workshop for the group.
Since then TCWG have called in a number of writers to facilitate their sessions and I’ve delivered brand new workshops every few months for the group.
Yesterday I walked through those doors and delivered a workshop about Time and Place in writing.
Seven years and over 20 workshops where I’ve seen members come and go. We used technology during the pandemic, we’ve met in various rooms including the galleries whilst open to the public. I can honestly say that its been a privilege to work with the members and to see how they’ve developed over the years.
So as Norm celebrates 7 years of retirement in Lanzarote, where he is embedded in the local writing and cultural scenes, I celebrate my own 7 years of working with TCWG.
Norm writes about arts and culture, in Lanzarote, Rochdale, and around the world, on his blog ”All Across the Arts, Sidetracks and Detours” at https://aata.dev
All Across the Arts continues to deliver arts and cultural stories, inspiration and events in Rochdale, curated by Steve Cooke with a twice weekly column in the local papers and online at www.allacrossthearts.com
I’ve had an amazing Summer running workshops as part of the HAF (Health Activity and Food) working with young people from age 5 to 11. Your Trust Rochdale, the borough’s cultural and leisure trust, had asked me to deliver sessions following feedback from sessions I had previously delivered for HAF last Summer and at Easter.
I delivered a total of 13 sessions at schools and libraries in Darnhill, Heywood, Middleton, Smallbridge and Kirkholt in Rochdale, and were attended by between 12 and 22 young people at each.
Each workshop involved storytelling, with a new series of children’s stories I have been developing, learning about a topic, creative writing and drawing and colouring matching the themes of each topic. in some sessions we also shared some poetry and children produced some of their own.
The workshops were titled:
My Ocean Adventure, My Space Adventure, My Minibeast Adventure, My Dinosaur Adventure and Endangered – Creatures at Risk.
All of the workshops were very well received and when a 7 year old on my final session (one of My Ocean Adventure sessions) said ”That was a really good story” I couldn’t have been happier.
The workshops are all now available for schools, and other groups, and are suitable for anyone from 5 to 11, including children with special needs. Each session can be run over one hour or two hours depending on ages and needs of the group.
I’m always happy to discuss the sessions I offer and availability and can also prepare bespoke sessions as required for all age groups for age 5 upwards.
A band new project in Littleborough, the brainchild of artist, and writer, Liz White, who realised that many older people and people with visual impairments are not able to access poetry. Based in Hare Hill House I will be delivering a series of 6 two hour workshops using the Park, House, Littleborough and their history for inspiration.
The participants will contribute poems to a collection which will be produced as a large print book suitable for readers with visual impairments. The book will be distributed free of charge to local people with visual impairments. Participants will be supported in writing poetry in terms of style, language, poetic forms and technique.
On Saturday I will be selling a range of my Handmade Linocut Prints, Greeting Cards and Giclée Prints alongside other local artists and makers.
This afternoon I’ve been inside, out of the sun, busy mounting a some more of my Handmade Linocut Prints ready for the fair at the weekend.
The coffee shop, which does a very nice range of homemade baking, will be open to provide refreshments for visitors. Having recently had a morning coffee (and scone) at the Coffee House I can recommend it as a lovely venue in one of Rochdale’s forgotten architectural gems.
Horse Carrs was built for Thomas Watson, a silk manufacturer and benefactor of the town of Rochdale. Thomas Watson moved to Rochdale from Garstang and developed a highly successful silk velvet material that was considered even better than the French cloth. The house retains lots of original features and one of the rooms includes artefacts, photos and information about the history of the house and the Watson family. Why not pop in to browse and buy local art, enjoy the house and some refreshment. Come and talk to me about my artwork and prints and the creative workshops I offer.
There are still places available on my Introductory Linocut Printing workshop on Friday 1st July from 18:00 to 20:30 at Tarn Replenished in Albert Mill, Dale Street, Milnrow.
For centuries prints were made by carving designs into wooden blocks with prints from will know artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige from 17th Century Japan being highly prized. Linocut printing is an accessible form of relief printing that was first used in the late 18th Century after the invention of Lino. Being easier to carve linocut became popular with artists including Matisse and Picasso and the technique was also used, especially in the USSR, to produce posters.
The session will introduce the techniques for producing linocut prints including; choosing suitable images to work with, drawing or transferring images to Lino, using the cutting tools safely, how to add ink to the prepared Lino and finally making your own prints by hand.
Linocut printing can be carried out using a wide range of equipment, inks and materials including paper, card and textiles. It is great for making greeting cards, decorative art. In these sessions we will use polymer or easy-cut blocks and print in monochrome using water-based inks onto paper and card.
You do not need to be confident at drawing and can use tracing techniques to prepare images for carving and produce attractive prints. Participants can work from their own images or from a selection of images that will be provided. Should you have a particular image you would like to try please advise when booking so that I can make it available.
The session costs £30 per person (payable by cash, card or PayPal) and all equipment and materials are provided. Participants will have both their own prints and carved blocks to take away.
I am pleased to announce my new workshops to learn the techniques of linocut printing and to produce some of your own prints.
There are two sessions available:
Weds 29th June from 12:00 to 15:00
Fri 1st July from 18:00 to 20:30
The sessions will cover the kinds of image that can be produced, the reversal of the carved images and basic techniques including; transferring images onto the Lino, safe cutting techniques, line and pattern making, applying ink and finally printing onto paper.
All equipment and materials will be provided and participants will be able to take home their own completed prints and carved Lino blocks.
Workshops are limited to small groups (maximum 6 people) and the cost is £30 per person payable by cash or card. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place.
Future sessions will look at more advanced techniques including using more colours with rainbow rolls and jigsaw prints.
Advice about the range and quality of equipment and materials available will be provided and, although I may be able to advise on suppliers, I am not able to supply equipment and do not have any arrangements with suppliers.