Mid-November Diary by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
November has been a busy month (as usual). My workshop at Poetry in Aldeburgh went very well and, since I invited participants to send me one poem afterwards for comment, I have been enjoying reading poems that were inspired by the workshop. I got some useful feedback on the day including how I could vary the writing periods set aside for different prompts. I definitely hope to run more workshops in the future. I also attended a stimulating workshop, ‘A Catalogue of Skies’, run by Rebecca Goss and went to many wonderful readings. Of course, I could not resist buying a number of books which I now need to read…. Suffolk Poetry Society’s (SPS) launch of ‘Ripples’, its 70th anniversary anthology, also ran smoothly. If you want to read some excellent examples of the poetic talent in Suffolk, I recommend buying a copy here. I enjoyed curating the flow of poems that were read.
I came across some interesting information recently. SPS ran an event comprising talks, readings and a showing of the film Akenfield to celebrate the 100th birthday of writer Ronnie Blythe. He was in fact a great friend of Charles Causley and you can find information about this in an issue of Church Times, Word from Wormingford by Ronnie Blythe.
At the end of last month, I went down to London for the Small Publishers Fair. I have been before and it is quite a useful place to network and find out more about publishers. I also heard Agnieszka Studzińska read from her third collection Branches of a House (Shearsman Books, 2021). I have in fact just bought a book called ‘In conversation with Small Press Publishers’ edited by Isabelle Kenyon and Dr Charley Barnes, published by Fly on the Wall Press. This consists of interviews with twenty-nine small presses which give the reader an idea of their profile and ways of working. These interviews are interspersed with articles of useful advice.
I am running a couple of events over the next two weeks. Firstly, I will run a bookstall to sell SPS members’ poetry books at a local church. I am just hoping that there is some heating, but will go well prepared with many layers. Last year this went very well and I had some great conversations with people interested in Sudan who bought my pamphlet ‘A City Waking Up’. Secondly, SPS was delighted to be invited by the University of Suffolk’s Student Union’s Women’s Officer to field a programme of readings by SPS members. This will take place on 29th November. I will be introducing the event and will be one of the readers. It is great to be able to have a closer engagement with the university as we would like to encourage their staff and students to join the Society which is open to anyone over 18 (with no requirement to live in Suffolk).
There has been quite a debate about whether Zoom readings should keep going post-pandemic. Most festivals seem to be taking a hybrid approach which I welcome. If you live outside London and other large cities in the UK, it is definitely a good way to keep in touch and be visible in the wider poetry scene. I regularly attend a number of Zoom readings run by Cafe Writers (Julia Webb, Ramona Herdman and Stuart Charlesworth), Live at The Butchery (Helen Ivory and Martin Figura), What We Read Now (Jenny Wong), Live Canon lunchtime sessions (Dr Helen Eastman) to name just a few. Often these provide open mic opportunities if you book quickly. The next Zoom I am going to attend is Desert Island Poems on 24th November organised by Sue Burge. It has a great line up of poets.
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