Open Mic, Littleborough, 15th May 2024

Following the successful return of the open mic session in 2023, I will be compèring an open mic session as part of the Littleborough Arts Festival at The Red Lion in Littleborough on Wednesday 15th May 2024.

The session will run from 7.00pm to 9.00pm, although the landlady will be happy to continue serving drinks until closing time.

Image of a microphone

All welcome and the event is free of charge. There is likely to be a good mix of poetry and spoken word plus music and singing to make an enjoyable evening. Those wanting to read, perform, play or sing please let me now when you arrive and I’ll add you to our list.

Poetry by the Canal – progress update

A line drawn image of Rock Nook Mill on the Rochdale Canal

Six weeks in and the poets I’m our project have been producing some really good writing. Those new to writing poetry and the experienced poets in the group have found inspiration and have shown great enthusiasm, extending to supporting each other, testing out their poems and sharing them with us. It has been an honour to work with such a great group of poets.

We have also had excellent meetings with, and feedback from, the Canal Rivers Trust and with the Poetry Society and Roy MacFarlane, the Canal Laureate. Although it is too early to give details yet, I can say that we have exciting developments coming up.

With over 30 poems already submitted, and more to come, my work in editing and formatting is now underway and it is actually really quite good fun and inspiring.

There will be one final session before the work is compiled ready for production of a large print book which is likely to be launched early in 2024.

Poetry By The Canal

Having recovered from the Covid, that kept me away from the first session of this project, I was delighted to be back at Hare Hill House in Littleborough to lead today’s session face to face.

The project will run for 6 weeks to create poetry influenced by the area around the Rochdale Canal and Calderbrook from the former Rock Nook Mill to Summit in Littleborough.

Today we talked about thinking like a poet and among the props used for a writing exercise was my lovely compact Metronome (pictured here).

The poets then used information provided, about the famous Summit Tunnel and Rock Nook Mill, as inspiration to start crafting some new poetry.

At the end of the project we will publish a large print book containing selected poems produced by all of the participants.

Today it was great to meet some new writers and share inspiration and ideas. This is a very friendly and vibrant l group of writers and I’m very confident that there will be some excellent poetry to publish.

This project comes from an idea from Liz White who has worked on planning and secured funding so that we can bring poetry writing opportunities to Littleborough and produce work which is available to local people including those with visual impairments.

Writing Workshop – Protest and Conflict

A selection of protest placards for tomorrow’s workshop.

Tomorrow I will be bringing a new workshop on Protest and Conflict to the Falinge Park Writing Group in Rochdale. The group meets every Thursday morning from 10am to noon at the Community Hub in Falinge Park. Everyone is welcome regardless of prior writing experience.

In this workshop we will look at the role of writing in protest and conflict and look at examples from history and more recent work. There will be a focus on poetry but those attending will be supported to write in whatever for they prefer.

The park is just a 15 minute walk from Rochdale Interchange, and for those driving, parking is available in the park for these sessions, just drive in through the gate at the bottom of Sheriff Street and follow the drive to the tarmac area in front of the house.

For more information please contact me on seamus@onepoetsvision.co.uk or Eileen Earnshaw on eileen.earnshaw@yahoo.co.uk

Open mic at The Red Lion, Littleborough, Weds 17th May, 7:00pm

Image of a microphone

On 17th May I will be compèring an open mic poetry evening at The Red Lion, in Littleborough, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

All are welcome and those wishing to read or perform should simply let me know on arrival so that I can include them on the list.

The free event is brought to you by Littleborough Arts Festival who will be running a wide range of arts events and activities over the long weekend from 19th to 21st May – details of all events can be found on the Littleborough Arts Festival Facebook page.

Is writing really work?

An image of a heavy pen, perhaps writing in blood

Poets and writers; I’ve been thinking about what we do, is it really work?

Sometimes writing doesn’t feel like work. Sometimes getting the words down and shaping them is enjoyable and even relaxing. For many writers poetry is a kind of therapy or catharsis, words flow and at the end the poet feels somehow relieved or better.

But, sometimes the things about which we write can change that relaxing idyllic process. To nick couple of words from W.B. Yeats, the process is “changed utterly”.

Yesterday I started work on a poem, inspired by a single line by E Hemingway, “it was coming down the valley even in the early morning”. My new poem contains a few of those words, but the subject bears no other real relationship to Hemingway’s original writing. Thanks to Eileen Earnshaw for putting those words in front of me.

The subject I started writing about was complex, it was about migration and it was about the two-fold tragedies of a growing cultural attitude and the loss of life as people try to find new homes. The hard part is that the poet actually writes not simple statement of facts but expresses how they feel about them, deep down, inside. The first draft took maybe 20 minutes and a second draft started straight after that. After half an hour I was nowhere near finished but I felt completely “wrung out”.

Over the years I worked in many different jobs and I’ve done a range of sports, but rarely have I felt as tired and drained as after those 30 minutes with my fountain pen and a notebook.

The end of a week labouring on a building site, or teaching young people with behavioural issues, crossing the line of a 10k run or finishing a couple of hours training on the velodrome behind a motorbike; those things all feel near impossible to repeat, yet we go back and do them again when we’ve recovered.

So it is with writing. Today, feeling somewhat recovered, I’ve worked on further drafts and edits and have a version of my newest poem, called “Grains”. Once again I feel empty, hollow, my hands are no longer steady and even re-reading it just now is like being dragged out of sleep when you’ve just managed to drift off. To hear a powerful poem can feel like being punched in the senses, to write that poem the poet must keep on battering those senses until it is ready.

The poem is unlikely to be finished just yet (sometimes I think they never really are) but I might give it an open-mic test run on Sunday evening. It won’t be there to entertain, and I almost feel I should apologise to the audience (only almost though) who will end up feeling a little of what I’ve felt writing it.

So what am I getting at? What’s my point?

It is simply this: writing is indeed work.

If something really matters it may be harder it will be to write about. A poem being hard to write, however difficult it may be, is no excuse for not writing it.

What do you think?

What is the hardest to write?

Poetry in the Park – FREE Writing Workshops – 22nd April 2023

Choose from three poetry workshops running from 10:00am to 12:00noon

Poetry in the park logo

To reserve your place on your chosen workshop please email lizwhitecreative@gmail.com


Introduction to Poetry – Eileen Earnshaw

Rochdale poet, writer and workshop facilitator, Eileen Earnshaw, runs the Falinge Park Writing Group and has led several writing projects in Bolton after completing her BA Honours Degree in Creative Writing at Bolton University. This workshop is suitable for anyone interested in starting to write poetry and those who are relatively new to writing.

Eileen’s track record in helping new writers to gain confidence will ensure and engaging and inclusive workshop where everyone will leave with new knowledge and some new poetry.

Freeform Poetry – Gaia Holmes

Calderdale poet, Gaia Holmes, has won several awards for her poetry and was recently awarded a fellowship by the Arts Foundation Futures, for her place writing. Gaia is an experienced workshop facilitator who always brings positivity and fresh viewpoints to her sessions.

This Freeform Poetry session is aimed at those who want to develop their writing and look at new approaches to their poetry. Participants are sure to enjoy the session and leave with some new writing.


Polish and Perfect – Seamus Kelly

Littleborough based poet and artist, Seamus Kelly, has led a number of successful writing projects including the 2022 Poetry in the Park project in Littleborough with a series of workshops culminating in the publication of a large print poetry book of the participants’ work.

This workshop is suitable for those who have written some poetry and would like to finds ways to polish it and prepare it for publication or performance. The workshop will include techniques for using a microphone while reading your polished words.


Poetry performance – 12:00 to 1:00pm

Following the workshops there will be a performance session in Hare Hill House where participants, and perhaps workshop leaders, will share some of their words.


To reserve your place on your chosen workshop please email lizwhitecreative@gmail.com

Poetry in the Park – James Nash – 22nd April 2023

April sees a new, exciting, one day, poetry event at Hare Hill House, Littleborough.

The morning sees three FREE poetry writing workshops by published poets (further details to follow in my next post) plus poetry performance, followed from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, by an Afternoon with James Nash.

James, hailing from Leeds and Bridlington, is a popular poet, workshop leader and speaker with 8 collections of poems published so far and has been a frequent guest and host at literature festivals. James’ latest collection “Heart Stones” is his third collection of sonnets; information about the book is shown below, beneath the online booking link.

during the afternoon James will talk about his passions, his writing and will share some poems with the audience.

Tickets for this not to be missed event are available now on Eventbrite using the link below, or can be purchased from me in person for just £5.00 each.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

In his third volume of sonnets, James Nash examines urban and seaside environments in a Yorkshire he has known through fifty years living in the North. His sonnets soar over the land – from Leeds, a predominantly Victorian city, to the Wolds in the East Riding of Yorkshire, walking and cycling into the natural world with a pen and paper never far from his hand.

James openly shows his debts to the great poets and writers of previous generations, from Winifred Holtby to Philip Larkin, from Matthew Arnold to Dylan Thomas – and with this sparkling new collection, lays a fresh claim to be named among them. To borrow some of his ​own words, James’ gift is to be a “clear microscope” for our times, finding hope in the many “miracles of detail” that pass through his unwavering gaze; into verses that glow with warmth, insight and poignancy. He thinks his old English master would be quite proud.

Poetry in the Park anthology launched today

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”.

Photo of all participating poets and Janet Elmsley with their copies of the book
The poets and Cllr Janet Elmsley with copies of the anthology

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.

Photo of Janet Emsley, Seamus Kelly and Elizabeth White with copies of “Poetry in the Park”
Cllr Janet Emsley, Seamus Kelly (poet and facilitator), Elizabeth White (Create and Connect)

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 photo of some of the audience members listening to the poets
Some of the audience listening to poems at today’s launch

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.

Poetry in the Park Launches – Tomorrow 2nd Dec

Hare Hill House, Littleborough

11:00am to 12:00noon, Friday 2nd December

A photo of the open box with a copy of the anthology at the top

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.

Poetry in The Park Book Launch 2nd Dec 2022


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.

Image of the anthology cover with an image of a tree in Autumn and text against a mid green background.

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.

Touchstones Creative Writing Group – an Anniversary

Photography of the entrance to Touchstones, Rochdale

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