The Migrant and Refugee Crisis: artistic and civil society responses at Leicester Cathedral

Leicester Cathedral is marking Refugee Week with an exhibition and series of events over the summer. The main exhibition piece is Arabella Dorman’s “Suspended”. Clothing and shoes salvaged from camps in Lesbos and Calais will be suspended over the Cathedral nave with an invitation for viewers to handle and touch the clothes. Arabella Dorman said: “I recently stood amidst the ruins of Aleppo having travelled to Syria to bear witness. A buried shoe, a lady’s handbag, a child’s toy in the rubble are the only traces of the men, women and children who once lived there, refugees now stuck between a past to which they can never return, and a future to which they cannot move forward. “Suspended” seeks to bring these lives to our attention and remind us of the urgent need for compassion, empathy and understanding as we reach out to our fellow human beings in plight. In doing so, it is a call to re-find the common thread that binds the mosaic of life together in celebration of our shared humanity.”

One of the events, “The Migrant and Refugee Crisis: artistic and civil society responses” takes place from 6.30pm on Friday 13 July 2018. This is a panel event organised by Leicester University’s Department of Media Communication and Sociology in association with the Leicester Migration Network and speakers include:

Pierre Monforte and Gaja Maestri from Leicester University’s Department of Media Communication and Sociology, Sandra Dudley from Leicester University’s Museum Studies and Ambrose Musiyiwa, writer and events organiser.

I will be on the panel to talk about “Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” and subsequent initiatives, the Journeys Poems Pop-up Library held at Leicester Railway Station during the Everybody’s Reading Festival and the Journeys in Translation project.

Dr Maria Rovisco, from Leicester University’s Department of Media Communication and Sociology and the Leicester Migration Network, said: “Artistic responses to the European migration crisis gained momentum in 2016. From Ai Weiwei’s high profile Berlin installation, which covered a Berlin landmark with thousands of life jackets used by people seeking asylum, to artistic interventions such as participatory arts workshops in refugee camps and fundraising arts projects, many artists are embracing agendas for justice and social change that extend beyond the arts. Yet, we know little about what is driving civil society actors and artists to engage with the plight of refugees. Against the backdrop of Arabella Dorman’s ‘Suspended’, this panel discussion invites activists, poets, academics and the general public to look at how can we build more hospitable and welcoming societies for those seeking refuge on the European continent.”

There will be a question and answer session after the speakers. More details from the Facebook event.

 

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Leicester Writers’ Showcase: Leicester and Leicestershire: City and County of Literature 13 December 2017 – Part 2

Councillor Sarah Russell had been due to speak at this event but wasn’t present on the evening and her absence wasn’t explained. She did, however, make a video. Since I’m not very good at listening to videos and prefer reading, my typescript of the video appears below:

“I’d say I think it’s [cultural activity in Leicester] exciting, it’s growing. I think we’ve got a really broad cultural scene in the city. It ranges from the large venues for theatre and music productions to print, to the range of art festivals, spoken word, reading and writing. And I think the mix between large venues and small local groups is exciting for everyone. That’s been recognised by the Arts Council and the investment they’ve put into the city. That we are really a growing cultural environment.

“I think the literary scene is really important. I think Leicester’s quite long been established with having some really amazing authors coming out of Leicester. But how we develop the literary scene within the city, how we celebrate it and how we make sure that scene has an audience within the city, I think is developing and I think is something we should all be really excited about. So the council’s been doing all sorts of different things. More recently it’s been working directly with literary groups to offer space, to offer the sort of communications network the council has to attract new people in. But we’ve got relationships that have go back for a long time. So we’ve got authors who come back into the city who come back to talk to young people like Bali Rai who talks about his experience of growing up in the city and wanting to write full-time. I think those bringing back and sharing of those experiences are really powerful. All the different elements sit alongside each other so we’re supporting people to write within the city, making sure there’s the space and promotion of that and also making sure that they get an audience and we bring young people into that.

“I think for raising the profile of it, we have to capitalise on the established authors we’ve already got, we use things like the Whatever it Takes Festival which brought in authors, those from within the city but also from outside. I think we have to really have to celebrate the breath of our literary scene. So we’ve got those who are writing amazing fiction, spoken word and making quite a significant national name for themselves we’ve also got those local history groups who are writing up our city’s shared history and how we can capture that and make sure that’s understood nationally and internationally. I think working with national publishing houses to make sure they see Leicester as the hotbed of creativity I think it is are all ways we can continue to raise the profile.

“It’s absolutely crucial to continue to do this because we want people to both be able to aspire to write and to recognise why it’s such and important way of sharing our own experiences but also of raising the profile of the city, of making sure that people know that this is somewhere where that things are happening, that exciting things happen and come back to. There’s all sorts of different ways that the literary scene supports that.

“The best way to find out is to sign up to the libraries’ service email. All of our libraries have got lots of information in. But every month the library puts out something called the Book News and it tells you about local groups that are happening, it tells you about literary opportunities, opportunities to go along to different types of workshops. It’s a place to find out more. It’s a great place to start. You get to know other like-minded writers and readers and get to share some of your stories and experiences with them.”

What’s interesting is the lack of detail. The only author mentioned is Bali Rai (he deserves the mention; that’s not in dispute) and she doesn’t list which groups the council think they work with. I’ll put my excitement on hold.

A write-up of the speakers who managed to attend the Leicester Writers’ Showcase on Literary Activity in Leicester is here.

Colonial Countryside Secular Hall Leicester 22 October 2017

Colonial Countryside PosterCorinne Fowler started by saying there had been something of a renaissance in British Black history with books from David Olusoga “Black and British: A Forgotten History”, Miranda Kaufmann’s “Black Tudors: African Lives in Renaissance England” and “Slavery and the British Country House” published by Historic England and the National Trust’s own project to investigate connections between their properties and sugar wealth. The UCL’s project “Legacies of British Slave-ownership” followed the compensation payments for loss of slaves and where the money was spent. A second project, “East India Company at Home” looks at influences in architecture, garden design and house decorations from connections with the East India Company.

It was important to note that Black History in Britain wasn’t just about slavery. North Africans had served in the Roman army and helped built Hadrian’s Wall. Henry VIII had a Black trumpeter, John Blanke, who played at Henry VII’s funeral. John Blanke had also successfully asked for a pay rise.

She mentioned the specific example of George Hibbert whose family wealth came from transporting raw materials to Africa, taking slaves to the Caribbean, the ownership of plantations and importing sugar. He also lobbied Parliament against Abolition. However, he also put a lot of his wealth into philanthropic projects and was seen as a generous benefactor. It was pointed out that Wordsworth’s “Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey” may not have been possible without the infrastructure of roads paid for by sugar wealth. On the new £10 note is an image of Godmersham House, owned by Jane Austen’s brother who had benefited from slavery even though Jane was an Abolitionist.

The National Trust and English Heritage have commissioned research into their own properties, investigating connections to slavery, e.g. through previous owners investing in shipping, buying shares in companies trading in slaves, owning plantations and/or lobbying against abolition. “Colonial Countryside” aims to bring together those looking at South Asian connections and those looking at Afro Caribbean connections to produce a picture of shared history.

She has a personal connection to this. Her French ancestors had a chateau in Brittany built with sugar wealth.

Eventually the Colonial Countryside project aims to involve 100 children visiting any of 10 identified houses. A group of children will visit with a historian to look through the house’s archives and write about their experiences. Children are being selected by their school which is looking for children with good writing or speaking skills and a passion for history. Initial visits are focusing on Harewood House and Charlecote House. The National Trust is recommending properties for the children to visit where there are known to be relevant connections. There are plans to hold a conference during 2018’s Literary Leicester Festival featuring presentations by the children. There will also be links with the National Trust’s 2022 project Challenging Histories. The children involved so far have responded with enthusiasm – one girl was prompted to research into her family background and had been making contact with relatives via Skype, urging them to help with the fundraising campaign.

More about Colonial Countryside here

Colonial Countryside’s Crowdfunder here. The crowdfunder enables match funding from other sources.


The Institute of Physics Flash Fiction and Poetry Competitions

Open to any writer resident in the UK for a piece of flash fiction or poem of 500 words or fewer where the theme involves physics or a physicist. If you’re not sure if your idea qualifies, email writingcompetition2017 [at] iop.org. Entries restricted to one per person per competition so you can enter one poem, one flash fiction or one poem and one piece of flash fiction, but not two poems or two pieces of flash fiction. Full rules from the email address given.

Prizes in each competition: First Place £100, Second Place £75, Third Place £50.

Closing Date 31 October 2017. Free entry – entries to be sent to the email address.

Ideas:

  • Aspect of a physicist’s life or work
  • Fictional physicist makes a discovery or invention
  • Group of scientists working at a facility such as CERN or an Antarctic base or the International Space Station
  • A real-life physics-related event
  • A technological utopia or dystopia
  • Environments such as space, the deep sea, etc
  • Change a law of physics – what happens?

Judging Panel includes a physicist and fiction judge. I will be the poetry judge.

Journeys in Translation 30 September 2017 write-up

The event had a simple plan: have a poem read in English and then the same poem read/performed in translation. There were 14 poems and 14 translations which would be included on posters displayed at the event. In addition display books would show further translations for audience members to browse through. We hit two problems before the event started: the venue couldn’t find a working microphone (which had been booked in advance) and a working replacement couldn’t be found even after an hour, and one of the translators didn’t turn up without sending apologies or giving a warning. Fortunately, one of the poets was able to provide a working microphone which we were able to use on the night. However, the German translator’s absence was still a problem. Had the microphone problem been resolved sooner (or a working microphone provided in the first place), I might have had chance to ask another translator to read in place of the absent translator.

We had an audience of at least 40. I gave an introduction explaining that “Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” had only sought poems in English, a language common to all three co-editors, because we’d prioritised raising funds and wanted the anthology to be published quickly. It is currently on its third edition. At last year’s Everybody’s Reading, we’d selected 8 poems and printed them as postcards which were given out at Leicester Railway Station. These proved so popular, we ran out of postcards by the fourth day. This year, we decided to build on the success of the postcards and invite translators to translate some of the poems. To keep the project manageable, we started with 12 poems which have expanded to 14 and tonight we were going to have readings of the poems in English and one translation (there were 101 poems in “Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge”.)

Journeys in Translation Event during Everybodys ReadingRod Duncan read his poem “but one country” and the Shona translation was read by Ambrose Musiyiwa.

Malka Al-Haddad read her poem “Children of War” in English and I read Dania Schüürmann’s German translation. Luckily I’d brought the display books so was able to read Dania’s translation from the book and got chance to rehearse it in my head while the first two poems were read. My written German is reasonable, but my spoken German is very rusty.

Chrys Salt read “The Insurrection of Poetry” and a University of Leicester PhD student from Syria (who doesn’t wish to be named) kindly read Ghareeb Iskander’s Arabic translation. Ghareeb hadn’t been able to attend and two people translating a poem into the same language would still use different phrases or words so reading someone’s else’s translation is not straightforward.

I read Lydia Towsey’s poem “Come In” and Giacomo Savani read his Italian translation.

Pam Thompson read “Dislocation” and Elvire Roberts performed her British Sign Language translation.

Marilyn Ricci read “Framed” and Ambrose Musiyiwa read his Shona translation.

Carol Leeming read “Song for Guests” and Malka Al-Haddad read her Arabic translation.

Unfortunately, as I was acting as master of ceremonies, I didn’t have chance to also read through my German translation of my poem, “Stories from ‘The Jungle’”, so had to make the decision to drop it. In hindsight, I wish I’d at least read one stanza of the translation.

I read Siobhan Logan’s “The Humans are Coming” and Antonella Delmestri read her Italian translation.

Ambrose Musiyiwa read his “The Man Who Ran Through the Tunnel” in English and Malka Al-Haddad read her Arabic translation.

I read Liz Byfield’s “Through the Lens” and Giacomo Savani read his Italian translation.

Kathleen Bell read “Waiting” and Ambrose Musiyiwa read his Shona translation.

I read Penny Jones’s “What’s in a Name?” and Antonella Delmestri read her Italian translation.

Trevor Wright read “Yalla” and Elvire Roberts performed her British Sign Language translation.

After the readings, we rearranged the chairs into a circle and had a discussion about translation, including whether multilingual people find that using a different language offers different perspectives or logic, why some bilingual writers only write in one language and don’t translate their own work into their other language, whether rhyme and rhythm can be translated into sign language, how translating different writers in a relatively short space of time prompted one translator to think about different approaches taken to writing the poems and the careful reading required to translate made one translator think about the poems she was translating and made her realise that the stories being told by refugees weren’t so different from her own story and how any of the refugees could have been her.

For more information about Journeys in Translation, see the Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/316952552020172/


Leicester Writers Club Everybodys Reading event flyer

Forthcoming Literature and Spoken Word Events in Leicester

Some events take a break over the summer months, but Leicester’s as busy as ever. Here’s a list of events I know about taking place during August and September:

Jazz-inspired poetry at Leicester Central Library to celebrate what would have been Ella Fitzgeralds 100th birthday

 

1 August – deadline for letting me know if you’d like to take part in the Ella @ 100 Leicester Writers’ Showcase event at Central Library on 18 October 2017. If I don’t know you want to take part, you won’t get included in the programme (I don’t do telepathy). We’re looking for jazz-inspired poetry and spoken word which doesn’t have to be exclusively about Ella Fitzgerald.

 

 

 

 

 

1 August
8pm Word! Y Theatre, 7 East Street, Leicester LE1 6EY £4/7
Featuring Kayo Chingonyi with support from The Bradgate Writers. If you wish to put your name down for the open mic sessions, arrive at 7pm.

3 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3
Leicester Writers’ Club’s Summer Open Evenings offer guests a taster of how the Club works, chance to meet current Club members and decide whether the Club is right for you. The Club offers constructive and professional feedback on works-in-progress, opportunities to discuss markets, writing tips and news all with a friendly group of professional and semi-professional writers. More details on Leicester Writers’ Club’s Summer Open Evenings click here.

9 August
6.30pm Leicester Writers’ Showcase Central Library, Bishop Street, Leicester. Free Entry.

10 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

17 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

24 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

31 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3 Last Summer Open Evening. Leicester Writers’ Club meetings in September are for members only.

[Both Leicester Writes and the South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza do take a break in August only].

5 September
10am Leicester Writes, Bru Cafe and Gelato, 24 Granby Street, Leicester
Friendly open meeting for writers to discuss work and share tips.

8pm Word! Y Theatre, 7 East Street, Leicester LE1 6EY
Featuring Caroline Bird with support from Cynthia Rodriguez. If you wish to put your name down for the open mic sessions, arrive at 7pm.

12 September
6.30pm Novel Exchanges, The Exchange, Rutland Street, Leicester
Hear readings and discuss works-in-progress.

16 September
2pm South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza, Old Grammar School, Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Informal poetry workshop – bring copies of a poem to discuss. Small charge to cover room hire.

20 September
6.30pm Leicester Writers’ Showcase, Central Library, Bishop Street, Leicester. Free Entry.

25 September
7.30pm Shindig! Western Pub, Western Road, Leicester LE3 0GA
Free entry. Perfomers tba. Open mic slots available – names taken on the night. Organisers Nine Arches Press and Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing/Crystal Clear Creators.

30 September – Start of the Everybody’s Reading Festival – look out for brochures for a week-long series of events celebrating and developing reading.

7pm Journeys in Translation African Caribbean Centre, Maidstone Road, Leicester LE2 0UA. Free Entry.
Journeys in Translation builds on the success of the Journeys Poem Pop-up Library held during 2016’s Everybody’s Reading. Thirteen poems from “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015) have been translated into twenty other languages, Arabic, Assamese, Bengali, British Sign Language (BSL), Chinese, Danish, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Shona, Spanish, Turkish, Welsh (each poem has been translated into at least one other language and most poems have been translated into more than one other language although not all poems have been translated into each of the 20 languages listed). Journeys in Translation will host readings of the original poems in English and in translations with displays of posters showing the original poems alongside translations and will be held on International Translation Day.


Institute of Physics Flash Fiction and Poetry Competitions

If you can write a piece of flash fiction and/or a poem of up to 500 words about physics or featuring a physicist by 31 October, have a go a these free to enter competitions.

You can enter 1 piece of flash fiction and/or 1 poem but you cannot enter either competition more than once. Cash prizes of £100, £75 and £50 for each competition.

  • Entries should be sent as a Word or .pdf attachment with no identifying details (entries will be judged anonymously) to writingcompetition2017 [at] iop.org.
  • Please include your contact details and title of entry in the body of your email.
  • Please use the subject heading IOP Physics in Flash Fiction Competition 2017 or IOP Physics in Poetry Competition 2017 as appropriate.
  • Entries must be original, unpublished and should not be extracts from longer works.
  • Writers retain copyright and the Institute of Physics reserves the right to publish entries or extracts from entries for publicity purposes.
  • Entries are not restricted to Leicestershire residents.
  • Enquiries about the competition should be emailed to the address above.

 

Lost and Found at Write On, a Leicester Writers’ Showcase 15 February 2017

9780956696793Write On, a Leicester Writers’ Showcase featured the anthology “Lost and Found: Stories from Leicestershire Writers” (Dahlia Publishing, 2016) at Leicester’s Central Library. The evening had eight writers reading extracts from their stories and question and answer sessions with the writers and Farhana Shaikh, publisher.

Farhana Shaikh welcomed everyone and introduced the first four readers. I was first to read with an extract from my story “Someone Else’s Wallpaper”. It’s about a young couple, Mark and Charlotte, who move into a new house with their baby, Bethany. The house had been refurbished before they moved in with the exception of the master bedroom which had a chintzy rose-covered wallpaper. Charlotte’s been haunted by the scent of roses and suspects the roses have been multiplying. When Bethany takes ill with suspected pneumonia, a well-intentioned neighbour reveals a secret about the previous owner to Charlotte. Next up was Drew Gummerson reading from “Adrian” told from a viewpoint of a fifteen-year-old boy whose parents have (separately) left home so he falls under the influence of Adrian. Grace Haddon followed with “Zenith”, a story about a community on a space station where it’s announced they will be returning “home” (i.e. back to earth) but one girl, who was born on the space station, wonders where exactly her home is. Tony R Cox finished the readings for the first half with “Under a Savage Sky” about a man trying to make a home in an isolated house when storm forces him to confront the reason he’d been force to leave his previous home, a reason he’d buried in denial.

The question and answer session started with a discussion on inspiration. Grace said she’s brainstormed and took the idea to an extreme – what does home mean if you were born in space? Tony placed his main character in a place where he has to make a home. Drew’s story had elements of biography. Mine was inspired by a house viewing where a house had been refurbished but it looked as if the builders had thought “let’s give the main bedroom a feminine touch” and gone for garish pink-rosed wallpaper which got me thinking about who might have chosen such a wallpaper to live with and why. There was a question on how writers felt about being edited. Being edited is part of the job. Drew mentioned one agent liked his novel on the basis of the first ten thousand words he’d sent her but then, seeing the completed book, she asked that the ten thousand words be cut. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those ten thousand words were wasted: the ideas, characters or themes might recur in other work. The “what are you working on now” question was replied with editing, finishing or thinking about novels, drafting poems, about to write a review and writing blog articles. A question about whether writers consider sounds when they write prompted a discussion about how useful it was to read work aloud – whether poetry or prose – because the writer not only heard how it sounded but it highlighted repetitions, tongue-twisting sentences and odd words that were out of keeping with the others. I discussed how sounds leant meaning to the story as well: long vowels create smooth sounds or short, clipped vowels give a staccato rhythm which could be employed to support or counter the narrative strand either reassuring or discomforting the reader. There were thoughts on the differences between poetry and prose, the former being more concentrated and distilled, the latter giving writers more space to explore themes. When asked if I preferred prose or poetry, I said I had a preference for poetry but someone else might answer differently.

The second half followed the same format with readings from Jamie Mollart, whose “Home Game” looks at domestic violence through the lens of a crucial home game for Leicester City Football Club. Amy Ball with “Buzz’s Fury” about discrimination faced by a couple travelling with a circus. Rebecca Burns read from “Moving the Furniture” where a homesick woman yearns to return to England after circumstances push her to emigrate to New Zealand. Siobhan Logan’s “Whitby Jet” starts as a final holiday before an elderly lady surrenders to being packed off into a care home, which uncovers hidden memories.

When questioned about the differences between a novel and short story, the four seemed in agreement that short stories were more succinct, focused and offer more opportunity to experiment with form or structure. The writers felt their best short stories came when they could see how it was going to end before beginning to write. Farhana mentioned that in selecting stories for the anthology, all editors were clear that they wanted stories with a strong ending, not necessarily one that tied up all loose ends, but one that stayed in the reader’s mind and rewarded re-reading. Jamie pointed out that weak stories were those set up to end on a punchline that was interesting once but didn’t sustain re-reading. Some of the panel confessed to using music to set a mood. Jamie’s novels had soundtracks, music he’d played whilst writing, as it helped with a consistency of tone. Amy said she found music distracting while she actually wrote because she’d get caught up in the song and lose sight of the page. All four said they would read sections aloud while writing.

Leicester Writes is running a short story competition with shortlisted and prize-winning stories included in an anthology to be published by Dahlia Publishing. Full Leicester Writes Short Story Competition details here.

Copies of “Lost and Found: stories of home by Leicestershire writers” are available from Dahlia Publishing.


Welcome to Leicester event at DeMontfort University 27 February 2017

Shindig Live Poetry Leicester 30 January 2017

Poster for Shindig poetry readingsShindig is organised by Nine Arches Press and Crystal Clear Creators and the former usually lead the first half while the latter take over after the interval. Tonight Nine Arches Press was launching Under the Radar #18 and Crystal Clear Creators featured readings from Deborah Tyler-Bennett and Andrew Button.

Each half starts with open mic slots. Will Coles took the first slot with a sonnet from a series of ‘delinquent sonnets’ looking at rubber-neckers gathered after an accident, “he’s moving so he’s not dead” ending on the line “We’ll feed on him another day.”. Thomas Irvine gave us another sonnet about Icarus. It was third poet Richard Byrt who hit on the novel idea of giving the audience the title of the poem about to be read, here “Motivating Millie”, a darkly humorous list of suggestions of things Millie could do, gradually revealing that elderly Millie’s relatives are thinking of a care home for her and these ideas are to “Stop them deciding they have to put you away.” Ambrose Musiyiwa rounded off the open mic slots with a topical poem about Martians (and the aliening of refugees) of which I know the title because I saw it published in “The Journal.”

Jane Commane of Nine Arches kicked off the Under the Radar launch by reading two poems, “Hail” by John Challis and “The Way Queenie Smokes” by Edward Long, confessing that the latter poem gave her cravings for a cigarette,

“The way Queenie smokes is why they call him Queenie,
ballet-poise along his whole arm out to his held fingers.
Long sensuous drawing up of the smoke into his lungs,
a gentle letting forth of smoke from his mouth.

The rasp to his laugh rattles his belly
squashed tight into his stained t-shirt.”

Reviews editor, Maria Taylor, picked Catherine Ayres’ “Solistice”

“Perhaps I’ll find you in the valley’s bruise,
the jolt of your eyes in a seam of light;
I have my plans these winter nights
when the spent candle stumbles, gone,”

This was read before Joe Caldwell’s “Transmigration.” Deborah Tyler-Bennett picked both of Josephine Shaw’s poems “On the Banks of the Aude” and “Mum and Dad enjoy a Cocktail.” Cathy Whittaker read “St Jerome” where she wonders if his wife viewed him in quite the same way as those who laud him, and “Message to My Grandfather” (not featured in the magazine). Reviewer D A Prince selected Ramona Herdman’s “Wake Up: Time to Die” which takes a quote from “Bladerunner” as its source inspiration, explaining “It grabbed me and I went straight back to the beginning to see how she did it.” Her second selection was a short extract from Martin Figura’s “Shed” which she had reviewed. Fiona Theokritoff read her poem “Cartographer” and another, “Wrong Turning.” Although availability played a big part in selections, in a issue which includes poems from Sarah Barnsley, Giles Goodland, Josh Ekroy, Fran Lock, Jessica Mookherjee and Rory Waterman amongst others, a mere two poems would have been a tough choice.

Maria Taylor was back, this time in her Crystal Clear Creators role, to get the second half underway. She read her own poem, “Don and the Age of Aquarius”, imagining someone like Donald Trump meeting a hippy angel in 1967’s Summer of Love. Jim Kersey had three short poems, “Inheritance,” “Inspiration” and “Dawn” forming part of an “Autumn Verses” sequence. The first two had a serious tone, exploring rich autumnal shades and colours. The third was light-hearted, starting “Shall I compare thee to a maple tree/ though thou are more temperamental.” More humour from John Lloyd’s “I Believe” based on the foundation that if he’d signed up to the university of life, “it enrolled me on the wrong course.” Most open mic slots were taken by Shindig regulars, but both Johns were reading at Shindig for the first time and got a warm welcome. Dave Tunnley kept up the autumnal theme in “Imagine Travel.” I read “The Shoemaker’s Walk” from “Welcome to Leicester“. Angela Bailey read “Rania’s Story”, a woman fleeing Syria with her children but leaving her elderly mother behind and the guilt, “as close as a sapling to its roots.” Rob Jones wrapped up the open mic session with a poem about a house shared by three humanities students living in “nostalgic tribute to ‘Black Books’ or ‘Withail and I’,” a poem apparently without title.

Featured poet, Deborah Tyler-Bennett started with three poems, “Ways Home,” “North’s Street” and “Sutton-in-Ashfield” from “Napoleon Solo Biscuits” which I reviewed for London Grip here. She then read new poems from her forthcoming collection “Mr Bowlly Regrets”, “Overheard on the Threes”, eavesdropping a conversation on a long bus journey. “No Relation” inspired by the discovery that some soldiers who served in the First World War had put down employers as their next of kin because they had no family to return to. “Then” inspired by a grandmother, looking at “Superstitutions” shared by her grandmother and her grandmother’s sister who saw “sleek magpies not as thieves but portents.” “Upstairs at the Trading Post” where a down-to-earth woman is wary of a ghost “lurking upstairs while she did the cleaning.” A star of the silent film era is recalled in “Popping By” where a “soldier hubby’s specs matching those of Harold Lloyd hanging on to that clock face.”

Second featured poet was Andrew Button whose “Dry Days in Wet Towns” has just been published by erbacce press. He introduced us to a selection of dryly observed humour. “Glasgow Hotel” could have been drawn from Edgar Allan Poe’s imagination. “The Only Clue” ends “roving extraterrestrials will still find a shopping trolley in a canal.” “after the drive-thru refusal (no fence involved)”, a woman takes her horse into McDonalds in “We’re Lovin’ It”. “Two Dickies” is about a statue to the cricket umpire Dicky Bird. “Turner in his Grave” muses on a Turner Prize entry. “Light of Wonder” was a tribute to Ray Bradbury who “coaxed my fledging pen to write on” and ending “your books will never burn.” Andrew Button is a collector of news stories, not unlike Marcel Proust, and the quirkier the better. “Navel Pursuit” takes inspiration from a story about a man who collected navel fluff. “Microphone” was a nod to childhood where he and friends would past the time recording made-up jingles. The final poem “After the Rain”, the name of a bubble bath, a tender tribute to his wife.

“Under the Radar” magazine is available from Nine Arches Press.

Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s collections are published by Kings England Press.

Andrew Button’s “Dry Days in Wet Towns in available from erbacce press.