Get in touch if you would like to help design and be part of our programmes for this year.
Get in touch if you would like to help design and be part of our programmes for this year.
There were fifty people in the Elwin Room when we counted at 3pm – FIFTY people on the day Bath Christmas Markets opened, on the day of the Artisan Fair outside the window in Queen Square, on a day when most sensible people – unless they wanted to go Christmas shopping – might well have avoided Bath. We had a marvellously engaged and responsive audience, made specially lively by the colourful contingent who came to hear Larkhall star, artist JUDE WISDOM answer questions about her work. This followed a powerpoint presentation of selected pieces to accompany ANN PRESTON’S eloquent Appreciation, which we might be permitted later to include in the blog.
The Realms of Gold concert was also mesmerising with some of our finest readers and most admired poets delivering a powerful programme of prose and poetry. We all love drama, except perhaps an organiser waiting at 1.55pm for the arrival of the always reliable CONOR WHELAN who had promised to open at 2.00pm with a recital of Kubla Khan from memory. The piece really mattered to establishing the meetup theme. Only the wonderful talent and good temper of STEPHANIE BOXALL saved us from listening vainly to the silence of the void. Hers was a marvellously sensitive and compelling reading and it gave our afternoon a flying (albeit for this organiser a nailbiting) start.
The shared tea was unusually spectacular. Many thanks to VERONA BASS for taking charge of managing the tables, to all the generous providers, and especially to FLORY WISDOM who had been baking for us for days. FLORY will be presenting her poems for the first time on March 23rd next year, our youngest contributor so far and also definitely one of our culinary stars. It was quite difficult to coax the audience away from the food and each other’s company and back to their seats for The Letters from Mexico .
This must surely have been one of the most delightful launches, for an author, that anyone could have had. Other than the little pieces of linking narrative, all I had to do was listen, enchanted, as friend after friend delivered my sonnets better than the author could have done, while PETE SMITH serenely showed the slides. The Letters from Mexico has now, under GRAEME RYAN’S excellent direction in Taunton, been a costumed play; had a formal launch at the excellent Teignmouth Festival of Poetry; an outing to the Beaufort Bookshop with audience spilling out on to the pavement and the glorious accompaniment of an overhead thunderstorm; and now presented itself in Queen Square, to a wonderful audience who had travelled, among other places, from Dublin, Exeter, Reading and Appledore.
Many thanks to all the writers and artists who played a part in this excellent afternoon: VERONA BASS, CHRISSY BANKS, AMA BOLTON, STEPHANIE BOXALL, CLAIRE COLEMAN, CLAIRE DYER, NIKKI KENNA, ANDREW LAWRENCE, MIRANDA PENDER, ANN PRESTON, GRAEME RYAN, LINDA SAUNDERS, SUE SIMS, PETE SMITH, CONOR WHELAN ( much better late than never ) and SHIRLEY WRIGHT
Many thanks, too, to the people who provided such a wonderfully supportive audience, among whom were CAROLE CATLING, B&NES Senior Arts Development Officer ANN CULLIS, poet MARILYN FRANCIS , botanical artist CAROLINE FRANCES-KING, Walcot State Choir’s BRIAN GOODSELL, singer CAROLINE KAY-MOUAT, poet MERETTA HART, Secure Broadcast CEO HELEN LENNON, SIMON LENNON, writer and teacher MICHAEL LOVEDAY, poet PAT MILLNER, artist MARK PENDER, author PETER REASON, writer and publisher TESSA STRICKLAND, JILL SWALE, writer JUNE WENTLAND, DAISY WISDOM and LUTHER WISDOM, all of whose presence was such a pleasure and such a joy.
The next scheduled appearance of The Letters from Mexico will be at The Swan Hotel in Bradford-on-Avon on Thursday 26th September 2019.
The next fully programmed meeting of Bath Writers & Artists group will be in the BRLSI on Saturday 23rd March 2019. The day is already rich in themes and interest. Please visit the programme Page to see the details if you would like to play a part in this.
sue boyle / organiser bath writers & artists group
Yesterday afternoon’s meetup went precisely to plan, thanks to the hard work, talent and unfailing good temper of all participants. We even had time in hand for a longer than expected Question and Answer session with the four aspiring novelists – SUE BOYLE, LOUISE GREEN, MIRANDA PENDER and JUNE WENTLAND – and to extend the discussion very happily to embrace the audience. It was a terrific asset to have NIKKI KENNA on hand to manage this.
But like clockwork it was not! For a start, there was such variety of mood and pace in the programme, from the beautifully considered commissioned pieces in Writing Home – from AMA BOLTON, MARGARET HEATH, MICHAEL LOVEDAY, SUE SIMS, CONOR WHELAN and SHIRLEY WRIGHT to the rousing exuberance of Sam Hinton’s Amphioxus Song, so ably lead by our two singers, working together for the first time. ( How nice it would be if this was not their last tandem appearance on our stage. )
We also had four solo songs in the programme, two each from MIRANDA PENDER and ANDREW LAWRENCE, Miranda with her own rivetting compositions, Andrew treating us to powerfully persuasive performances of Britten’s setting of Down by the Salley Gardens and to a second hearing of Patrick Kavanagh’s Raglan Road. There will be another chance to hear Miranda on Saturday 24 November when she will be contributing her own settings of four of the sonnets from The Letters from Mexico. ( Link to invite here. )
MICHAEL LOVEDAY’S launch reading was excellently designed to showcase his book Three Men on the Edge while supporting the two themes of the day – Home and Wilderness – with an arresting presentation of the idea of Edgelands, beautifully illustrated by his own suite of photographic slides. Thanks to Michael, there was a coherence and common energy running through the whole programme which hugely strengthened the impact of the afternoon.
The concert of readings, Writing the Wilderness, was eloquently and professionally performed by the six group members, working together so smoothly it is almost impossible to believe that nothing in meetup presentations has ever been rehearsed. Everything has to happen for the first time – necessarily, when perfomers are gathering from so far afield. Yesterday readers came from Sherborne, Beaminster, Bristol, Corsham, Wells and Stoke St Michael, in addition to those who simply dropped in from Bath. When things work well, this creates a lovely sense of invention and spontaneity which seem now a really important part of the successes of these Queen Square afternoons.
The Writing the Wilderness concert has now been posted on the blog, in full, with pointers to the sources of the readings for people who want to follow up on leads. We are also inviting SUBMISSIONS for a future meetup on the theme of Wild Places, to shape into a new concert for one of the early meetups of 2019. To remain true to yesterday’s meetup, whose title was The Poetry of Prose, all submissions for this should come in as prose, please, though nothing would prevent them appearing elsewhere as poetry. Please read the blog ‘concert’ before you submit. You will see that the pieces need not be fully developed. They can have the characteristics of extracts and should not exceed 200 words, though you can obviously submit more than one.
As well as the concert and the reading list, I have included the three wilderness slides which we shared yesterday, and which may well prompt pieces of writing for this new set.
The Morning Workshop also featured prose. We are all busy now sorting and sifting our thoughts on the sixteen fascinatingly varied submissions. Ama, Sue Sims and I have already posted our personal lists. I will be collating the others as they come in and eventually sharing an overview of workshop members’ thoughts. ( Contributions written by members of the group will be handled VERY tactfully throughout, and not identified nor identifiable unless the author wants to declare themselves.) It would, though, be very good to share the extracts from published novels with the blog. Most of you already have these in Word Docs, so I would be hugely grateful if you would mail them through with title and author when you can find the time.
I will soon preface the Poetry of Prose collection with a few of the ideas about good prose which surfaced yesterday. Here is the slide about how easy it is to write. Which by the way is NOT by Ernest Hemingway. Fake News didn’t start with Donald Trump. ( link to workshop page here)
Many thanks as always to yesterday’s brilliant contributors and to our generous, kindly and responsive audience.
sunday 7 october 2018
The October meetup is fully programmed now and we are looking forward to another excellent afternoon on 6th October with seasoned performers and new friends. The full programme details are now on the 6th October Page. ( Please click link.)
Remarkable to realise that our four 2018 meetups will soon have hosted SIX launch readings – MICHAEL LOVEDAY’S launch on Saturday is following in the dazzling footsteps of books by SUE SIMS’ son, DR MARK SIMS, poet novelists CLAIRE DYER and SHIRLEY WRIGHT and pamphlet poets ANN PRESTON and VERONA BASS.
Spurred on by their examples, perhaps, four hopeful first-time novelists will be appearing on Saturday, talking about their projects and inviting questions from the audience. This will be Bath Writers & Artists’ first Q&A session and I am very grateful to poet-artist NIKKI KENNA for offering to manage it with KINDNESS, FAIRNESS and FEROCITY.
The October meetup is also hosting some remarkable specially written contributions on the theme of home and a powerful concert of readings from major writers on the theme of wilderness, compiled from pieces submitted by members of the group.
I am delighted to be showcasing CAROLINE FRANCES-KING’S forthcoming talk at the BRLSI on the evening before our meetup. (You can read much fuller details on her Page.) I am hoping to persuade Caroline to present some of her work to us in a future meetup – with November in mind because her botanical adventures would team up so eloquently with the presentation of The Letters from Mexico – whose artist, JUDE WISDOM has already agreed to answer questions about her work , following an appreciation generously written for the November afternoon by ANN PRESTON, author of A North East Light.
I am delighted, too, that Bath Writers & Artists may soon have a visit from PETER REASON, who is proposing to help design a hugely important day for us next year inspired by the question from the great poet Mahmoud Darwish. ( For ‘poetry’, of course, we will be also reading ‘art’.)
THIS IS WHAT PETER WRITES ABOUT HIS MOST RECENT BOOK
To recover from ecological disaster, we humans must transform our sense of who we are in relation to the Earth. In Search of Grace is the story of an ecological pilgrimage in my small yacht, Coral, from the south coast of England round the west coast of Ireland to the far north of Scotland. It explores themes of pilgrimage: the overall pattern of separation from the everyday, venturing forth, and returning home. It tells of meeting wildlife, visiting sacred places, confronting danger, expanding and deepening experience of time, of silence, of fragility
AND HERE IS ONE OF THE REVIEWS
In his years at the University of Bath, Peter Reason rose to prominance as a brave pioneer of Action Research–a participative approach to scholarly and whole life inquiry, that refuted narrow reductionism. Now, in this meditatively written and rich interwoven account, he takes his inquiry futher. Sailing his boat around the seas of Celtic lands, he gains insights into these our troubled times, as glimpsed through the cracks of a deeper grace belonging to this planet Earth. Alastair McIntosh, author of Poacher’s Pilgrimage: An Island Journey
A huge welcome to this blog to the members of Moor Poets who came to the Sharing Our Bright Fields workshop in Devon on 14th September and are now allowing me to see some of the marvellous poems they began that day. Such good writers, devoting themselves to such a good topic, with prompts from such masters of the craft…. it is a real privilege to invite them to join our blog and – perhaps – one day, to join us not just in virtual but in ‘real’ reality.
sue boyle 30 september 2018
I hope you have all kept up with the marvellous collective post about the meetup in July. It has contributions now from thirteen people – VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, RACHAEL CLYNE, CLAIRE COLEMAN, SARAH GREGORY, MARGARET HEATH, CAROLINE HEATON, ROSIE JACKSON, MICHAEL LOVEDAY, ANN PRESTON, LINDA SAUNDERS, CONOR WHELAN and SHIRLEY WRIGHT – to all of whom, many thanks.
For those of you who were spellbound at the July meetup by the Mikis Theodorakis’ song, Ena to Helidoni, and its place in history, here is a link to his own extraordinary performance at the open air concert on the Rosa Luxembergplatz in East Berlin in front of a huge audience just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. https://youtu.be/QOKBFtKZmOQ
Bath Writers & Artists has been gathering some very interesting new followers and I am looking forward very much to discovering how they choose to develop their personal Pages on this blog. Of the original 20 subscribers, I am abashed that only VERONA BASS and SUE BOYLE have updated their Pages in July. Do check out PETE SMITH‘S new Page. He is busy finishing a project at the moment, but is managing to come to the Bradford Homeric Afternoons and will soon be featuring with us in Queen Square. We have also been promised content by Corsham designer JOHN MAGGS. The second Homeric Afternoon will owe a great deal to CONOR WHELAN’S inspired suggestion that we should look at some of the Odyssey and The Waste Land in one afternoon. Reading great literature followed by great food seems a winning formula. Do get in touch if you feel like hosting something similar to extend the joy.
Plans for the October 6th Programme are well advanced, thanks to the terrific contributions which have already come in from so many of you. There is a Page for the Meetup on the Header Menu which shows the evolving programme for the afternoon, and another, dropped down from that, titled Writing the Wilderness where I am collating the stunning variety of concert pieces which have come in. Do read these as soon as you have a moment, not just for their own sake, but in case you would like to be one of the readers during the meetup afternoon.
There is a Page on the Header Menu for Writing Workshops, which at the moment is looking rather sparse. If you are a member of Bath Writers & Artists and you give open workshops, or workshops to which people can come by special arrangement, please broadcast them here. My workshop, Sharing Our Bright Fields, for Moor Poets in Devon is coming soon. It will be good to have some company on our Page!
I am altering the Header Menu Subscribers Page so that all our Friends, Associates and Followers appear on the same Page with the rest of us. For anyone who doesn’t already know how our regrettably hierarchical system works, it seems a good moment to explain. Bath Writers & Artists has no public funding. We raised enough money to rent space for our bi-monthly workshops and meetups by finding twenty wonderful people willing to split the cost. Those twenty subscribers get a share of the available morning workshops and the privilege of launch readings for their new books. This makes it possible for the afternoon meetups to be free for everyone. Everyone involved in Bath Writers & Artists gives their time for free, even when they are so prestigious that in other circumstances they would rightly expect to be paid to read.
I’ve recently been asked to write about us ( and had the article accepted ) for the Artemis Journal. I will tell you more when I’ve seen us actually in print.http://www.artemisjournal.org
Lastly, for the moment, a little plea to everyone who has a Page on this blog. If you can keep up the habit of monthly updates – inserted at the top – it is so interesting for everyone as well as being a useful little exercise in reflective thought. I have stripped out the preamble about Project 2017 from my Page now, just to give the ongoing text a fresher start. And when you do read Pages, if you enjoy them, please click the ‘Like’ button…..
These are the last lines of a poem by Mary Oliver called Wild Geese ………
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.