BLER Middlesbrough

Really enjoyed my first visit to The Black Light Engine Room at Off The Ground Coffee in Middlesbrough last Saturday.

Many thanks to p a morbid for inviting me as a guest poet along with poetry pals Joe Williams and Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe, plus Andrew Talbot. Great also to meet Natalie Scott. Here are some pics of the evening courtesy of morbid.

Launch of Mark Connors’ Collection ‘Optics’

Spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon at the launch of my editor Mark Connors’ latest poetry collection ‘Optics’. It was a privilege to be asked to read alongside Mark and fellow Yaffles Gill Lambert, Mike Farren, Adrian Salmon, Matt Nicholson and Terry Simpson. Great to spend time with another Yaffle Joanna Sedgwick and fellow poet Joe Williams.

Mark’s poems focus on the world around us, expressed in his direct, engaging style – often sharp-witted and humourous – that also manages to capture the spirit of the current political mood regarding Brexit. I wholeheartedly recommend ‘Optics’, it is a fine collection indeed.

Quotidian Launch

I’m so grateful to everyone who came to the launch of ‘Quotidian’, my debut Yaffle Press pamphlet. Thanks to excellent guest poets Pat Edwards, Edwin Stockdale and Gill Lambert plus other readers David Costello, Steve Regan, John Oldershaw and Kemal Houghton. In addition to poetry, there were beautiful piano pieces from the amazing Izzy Ryder. A great afternoon from start to finish spent with close friends and poets who helped create a wonderful atmosphere and a memorable day! Thank you all, sincerely.

My First Poetry Pamphlet!

I’m so excited to share the cover of ‘Quotidian’, my debut pamphlet with the wonderful Yaffle Press, due early-July. Many thanks to the endlessly creative Joanna Sedgwick and Lorna Faye Dunsire for the artwork. And I’m so incredibly honoured and grateful to Ben Banyard, Brett Evans, David Costello and Deborah Alma for taking time to read and write such lovely words of advance praise about this collection. For people interested in buying a copy, I’ll be posting purchase details soon.

Welshpool Poetry Festival



Enjoyed a wonderful Saturday at the Welshpool Poetry Festival, the highlight of which was Caroline Bird’s amazing workshop. This is me, giddily thanking her for treating us to two hours of brilliant writing prompts with equally brilliant feedback. She astonished me by asking me to read my draft poem backwards – and it worked! My workshop colleagues were equally stunned!! It was also great to spend time with poetry friends, many of whom attended the open mic later. The festival is organised and hosted by the amazing Pat Edwards with help from her wonderful husband Mike. Like so many others, I’m so grateful to them both for their hard work.

Welshpool Poetry Competition Success!

Wow – after all the busy-busy business of the Wirral Poetry Festival and post-festival events, I received this wonderful news that my entry ‘Nature Boy’ is one of the commended poems in the Welshpool Poetry Competition, judged by none other than Liz Berry! And another poem of mine, ‘Water Stories’, was shortlisted.

I’m now looking forward more than ever to the Welshpool Poetry Festival, starting 7 June and can’t wait to find out next day who the competition winners are!

Maria Isakova Bennett and Hannah Stone Book Launches in Liverpool

Enjoyed reading as part of Maria Isakova Bennett and Hannah Stone’s joint Maytree Press pamphlet launch last Sunday in the glorious surrounding of Michael Allen’s apartment in Falkner Square, Liverpool. Beautiful readings by Maria from her pamphlet ‘…an ache in each welcoming kiss’ and from Hannah’s ‘Sŵn y Morloi’. In between these excellent poetry readings, there was live jazz, too. A truly memorable evening!

Yaffle Whirlagust Launch and Prizegiving


Spent a memorable afternoon yesterday at the Yaffle Prize ‘Whirlagust’ anthology launch held at the lovely Flying Duck pub in Ilkley. Many congratulations to the winner, John Foggin and to all the commended poets and everyone whose wonderful poems made it into the anthology. It was great to spend time among poetry friends and new faces.

Thank you to the Yaffle Press team Mark Connors, Gill Lambert, Mike Farren, Lorna Faye Dunsire, Joanna Sedgwick and Mandy Sutter for organising a wonderful event!

The First Wirral Poetry Festival – A Huge Success!

I felt honoured last year to be invited by Covenor Judy Ugonna, MBE to join the planning team for this year’s inaugural Wirral Poetry Festival last weekend, 10-12 May. It was a huge success! The vision and determination of my fellow team members to deliver a festival that would encourage enjoyment of a wide variety of poetry and the spoken word paid off handsomely, as did our efforts to make the majority of events free to attend.

Prior to the festival, there were two very well-attended poetry picnic workshops at Leasowe Lighthouse (31 Mar) led by Kemal Houghton and Mersey Ferries (28 Apr), led by Paul Harris and myself.

The festival opened in great style with a sell-out Roger McGough and LiTTLe MACHiNe show at Westbourne Hall, West Kirby. A truly memorable performance by a legend of poetry and someone who has always influenced my own writing.

The events of Saturday 11 May were held in the wonderfully historic setting of Birkenhead Town Hall. In the morning, performers of all ages delivered a variety show which aimed to appeal to younger people and adults alike. It was another bold undertaking and yet another great success. In the afternoon, there were a series of six terrific readings by well-established poets from this country and Ireland. The day also featured a poetry publishers’ exhibition featuring eight small presses from around the UK. This was the event I organised and hosted and included lunch-time readings by a poet from each press.

On Sunday at West Kirby Arts Centre, there were a series of events reflecting the theme of this year’s festival – namely water and light. These included Stargazing, involving a combination of poetry and music, the Water and Light event featuring poem by poets who attended our poetry picnic workshops, readings by poets published in The Quality of Mersey anthology and, last but not least, a hugely well-received poetry slam called ‘Slam And Deliver’.

All-in-all, it was a wonderful few days. The events were well-attended and the feedback so far has been excellent and plans are already underway for next year’s poetry festival. Massive thanks to everyone who came along to support the very first Wirral Poetry Festival!