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.

 

Tips for Reading to an Audience

Lost and Found Short Story anthology from Dahlia Press book coverRecently I attended Voiced at the Exchange in Leicester and the launch for “Lost and Found: Stories from Home” at the same venue.

“Voiced” was an evening of poetry, spoken word and music as part of several events for Refugee Week in Leicester. I was among the contributors reading poems from “Over Land Over Sea: poems of those seeking refuge”.

The latter was for a launch of anthology published by Dahlia Publishing where some of the contributors, including me, read from their short stories.

The tips below are not directed at any of the performers at either of the above events.

Tips for Reading to an Audience

Rehearse

Know how much time you have to read (ask the organisers if they don’t tell you), select the material you are going to read and time your reading, including any introductions.

Once you know how you are going to fill your allocated time slot, practise reading. You don’t have to learn your material by heart, but get a feel for the pace of your reading and where you can breathe without interrupting the flow.

Staging

You may not know how the stage will be set up until you are at the venue. The stage may simply be a space at the front of the room rather than a raised platform. Think about how the audience will see you: you’ll probably find yourself standing. There may be a microphone. There may be a table or lectern, if so, ensure these do not become barriers between you and the audience. Put the table to one side (do not sit on a chair behind it. Make sure the highest point of the lectern is lower than your chin. Some of your audience may need to lipread. If the lectern is too high, the words will bounce off the lectern back at you instead of out to your audience.

If there is a microphone, use it. You might think you have a loud voice, but the person at the back may still struggle to hear you over traffic, fidgeting or noise from nearby rooms. This might mean the inconvenience of adjusting the mic stand height but it’s worth doing. Do ask the organiser if you’re unsure of how to adjust the mic – it’s not in their interests to have performers who can’t be heard or embarrassed by a stand that won’t adjust.

Reading

Whether you read from paper, a book or a mobile device such as a table or phone will be down to personal preference. Make sure there is a good contrast between text colour and background – what looked OK in broad daylight might be difficult in a dimly-lit venue – and check the font is large enough. Ensure that you can scroll or turn pages easily.

When reading, avoid covering your mouth. It may be tempting to hold your book or device in front of you and hide behind it, but your audience came to hear you read.

Even if you don’t feel it, try to stand confidently. If you hunch over or lean on the lectern, you might find it difficult to breathe or project your voice. If you look tense and nervous, your audience will feel tense and nervous. If you appear relaxed and in control, your audience will mirror you.

Introductions

As a general rule, the briefer the better. It may be that you need to explain your story or poem is set in a historical period or in the future or you might need to mention your narrator is nothing like you or that your story or poem is set in a particular location. It’s not worth explaining your poem is a sonnet or a concrete poem in the shape of a butterfly: your audience can’t see it.

Do mention the title of your piece. “This story is about x,” or “This poem is set in the 18th century,” isn’t going to help your audience find it afterwards.

Do try and look up occasionally at your audience. It lets them know you’ve not forgotten them.

Wrapping Up

If you are reading several poems do say “This is my last one” or “I’m going to finish with…” or some variant because it signals to the organisers or audience that you are about to finish.

Do thank your audience – a simple “Thank you” is good. This is often taken as a signal for applause.

Don’t hurry off the stage area but don’t outstay your welcome either. If the event is running on time or is ahead of time, then a measured stroll is fine. If the event is running late, don’t make it later by hanging around.

Don’t leave the venue immediately. Unless there is a compelling reason, e.g. public transport timetables, stay until the end of the event, especially if you are one of several people reading. If you do need to leave sooner, make sure the organiser knows.

If you don’t stay and listen to other readers, they won’t be inclined to stay and listen to you if you find yourself reading a similar, subsequent event.

If you show your audience and other performers respect and courtesy, you will earn respect and courtesy from them.

Introducing Poems

I was reading Sally Jack’s review of Word! in Leicester and wanted to pick up on a couple of things she mentioned. I agree with her on both points.

Firstly I’m pleased that Sally Jack picked up on Word!’s strengths: that it represents different genres of poetry as if they are on a spectrum rather than adding to the false page/stage divide and that exposure to different genres and standards (from newcomer to established poet/performer) encourages and provides inspiration to do better. She makes the point that the imagery used by some of the poets demanded the poems be read as well as listened to and the best poems work both read aloud and silently.

Secondly I agree with her comment, “It does not always instil me with confidence to hear in an intro that the poem was just written that afternoon.” It may be true, but it leaves your audience thinking:

  • It can’t be very good.
  • The poet is trying to head off critical listening by saying in advance that the poem’s not very good.
  • How much respect for the audience does the poet have?
  • Knowing that Word! has no difficulty in filling the open mic spots, why does this poet feel obliged to read something dashed off this afternoon which may not yet be ready for a wider audience?
  • Why should I pay attention to a poem dashed off in a hurry rather than doing something more useful such as finding the right money for buying a drink, checking my phone for messages, drafting a poem of my own?
  • It may be one of those extremely rare poems that went through numerous drafts over a lengthy period of time in the writer’s head before it got put down on paper so it arrived fully formed and polished, but why mention it was only written that afternoon?
  • Why be apologetic about a poem about to be read?
  • Surely when it was written is totally irrelevant to the poem?

The last question gets to the heart of the problem: the poet has taken attention away from the poem and focused it on the poet. It may be that poet was the only poet who could have written that particular poem in that way, but Word! isn’t about poets; it’s about poems.

Word! runs at the Y Theatre, Leicester on the first Tuesday of every month:

3 February – Penelope Shuttle with Kathleen Bell
3 March – Rosie Garland with support from Pam Thompson
7 April – Adam Horovitz with support from Sole2Soul
5 May – ‘Jarman in Pieces’ by Project Adorno
2 June – Salena Godden with support from Bobba Cass