Poetry Alight 6 at Lichfield Preview

“Poetry Alight” at the Spark Cafe Bar, 19 Tamworth St, Lichfield WS13 6JP

Tuesday 14th May 2013, Arrive early , 7.30pm prompt start -10pm Free Entry ,

“A terrific evening of poetry” – Mal Dewhirst,Staffs Poet Laureate

I am hugely priveleged to be involved in organising Poetry Alight and choosing the guest poets. The task is not as easy as you might think. Firstly, I travel quite extensively and selecting sixteen poets for the year, four per event held quarterly, is no easy task. As the event has grown in prestige, so the number of distinguished poets who approach me for slots has also increased, telling an excellent poet that you are “full” on several dates is a bit daunting. Then there is the question of mix. Where possible, I like to feature two men, and two women, I also like to offer an ethnic diversity too, and aim for an alchemy which will work, purely a personal subjective, gut instinct, assessment. Making sure that you can achieve that each time takes some doing. It’s a bit like holding a party and endeavouring to ensure that all the guests will get along!

Poetry Alight aims to promote both page poetry performed, and performance poetry. The only criteria is, “Is it any good?”. Sometimes the guest poets may favour one form to the other, but if that happens I ensure that balance is redressed at the next event. I do not want Poetry Alight to have a reputation for being either ranty, shouty, performancey ( which can be good) or fine, worthy, wordy and technnically dazzling ( which can also be good). What I do want is for the audience to have enough which is familiar to them to give them pleasure, and enough which is unfamiliar to them to excite and challenge them.

I am delighted, excited and humbled by the bill for Poetry Alight 6. I saw River Wolton and Matt Black perform at Spire Writes in Chesterfield last year, this is what I wrote:

River Wolton

River Wolton

Matt Black

Matt Black

Current Derbyshire Poet Laureate Matt Black took inspiration from a taxi rank in an everyman piece that could have been anywhere, yet whose sense of place was a delight. Past Derbyshire Poet Laureate, River Wolton, read of her unexpected meeting with Gok Wan when she was “looking daggy” and “her shame at being ashamed”,which was both poignant, and entertained. However it was Psalm of Those who go Forth on the Day of Redundancy which packed the visceral punch. Both were consummately crafted.

Helen Mort is a star, name-checked in all the national newspapers this year, as well as the literary publications, the esteem in which she is regarded by fellow poets and audiences alike is richly deserved. I read her “A Pint for the Ghost” , a collection about the ghosts and tall tales of pubs in Chesterfield,in one sitting, and then read it again the next day.

Helen Mort

Helen Mort

Elizabeth Charis

Elizabeth Charis

Elisabeth Charis is fortunate. Not only is she an accomplished poet, but she also had the good fortune to be teaching in Syria as the country started to unravel offering her a treasure trove of material and inspiration.She remained safe, but her care for, and affection for, Syria is both a joy and tinged with sadness.

The Promotional information for the evening follows

Lichfield Poets proudly present the second Poetry Alight of 2013 in this quarterly series of poetry evenings, hosted by Gary Longden . Guest Headline poets are:

Helen Mort
River Wolton
Matt Black
Elisabeth Charis

It comprises visiting guest poets and an open mic section. Great pride is taken in introducing new poets to the audience, and new audiences to poets. Open mic spots, at 3mins each, may be booked in advance, a very few may be made available on the night, e-mail: Lichfield.Poets@hotmail.co.uk

Please note that our advance slots are always over-subscribed, all requests may not be successful.

The Cafe, as well as offering coffee, teas and light refreshments is also licensed to sell alcohol and offers a range of hot food, I can personally vouch for their Cumberland sausage sandwich! The audience is encouraged to arrive early, and the Spark is ideal to enjoy a supper with friends before proceedings. The Cafe is open all day.

This month’s distinguished guest poets include:

Helen Mort– Was born in Sheffield in 1985, is a graduate of Cambridge University, a rock climber, and has a national reputation for her poetry. Her collection ‘Division Street’ is forthcoming from Chatto & Windus. She has published two pamphlets with Tall-Lighthouse press, ‘the shape of every box’ and ‘a pint for the ghost’, a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010. Five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest ever poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. She is a founder organiser of the monthly poetry event Spire Writes in Chesterfield. Her blog may be followed here: http://www.poetryonthebrain.blogspot.co.uk/
Her interview with the Oxonian may be read here: http://www.oxonianreview.org/wp/in-conversation-helen-mort/

River Wolton– Writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She grew up in London and lived in Sheffield for twenty years before moving to North Derbyshire. She is a recent Derbyshire Poet Laureate and works as a writing facilitator, specialising in tailor-made projects for people of all ages and backgrounds. She is currently a Writer-in-Residence with Writing East Midlands and had a Hawthornden Fellowship for 2011. She is a co-author of the Route anthology of stories about mothers and daughters, Some Girls’ Mothers.

River’s first full-length poetry collection, Leap was launched at Sheffield’s ‘Off The Shelf’ Festival of Writing & Reading in 2010.

You Are Here: Travels of a Derbyshire Poet Laureate (Derbyshire County Council 2009) is available from any Derbyshire library, or directly from River. Aimed at demystifying poetry for a general audience, You Are Here contains poems commissioned during River’s laureateship as well as her responses to frequently asked questions such as ‘Why don’t poems rhyme any more?’ and ‘Is there anything a poet shouldn’t write about?’
“Her poems are accessible, create wonderful images and are a pleasure to hear. The stories bring the poems alive and make them personal.”
– Hayfield Poetry Group

The Purpose of Your Visit (Smith/Doorstop 2008) was highly commended in the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition.
“(Her) gift to us throughout this pamphlet is to allow us to better understand the personal challenges of sadness, conflict and even fear, by considering the global urgencies of war, poverty and violence.”
– Rosie Shepperd, Magma 44

Matt Black – is a writer and performer based in Sheffield. He writes poems (and occasionally fiction) for adults and children, and is a Derbyshire Poet Laureate. He enjoys commissions and collaborations with other artists, and works in all sorts of places and situations, specialising in tailor-made projects that range from the serious and educational to the crazy and sublime. His books include Swimmer (2009) and Goblin In the Fridge (2008).

Matt Black

Matt Black

“Matt Black is a poet who wears his heart on his sleeve and his skill in his pen; his poems in Swimmer show that poetry can be a healing art, a celebratory art and an art that can best illuminate the times we live in. More power to his shining work – this collection is splendid.”
Ian McMillan

Elisabeth Charis– is a thinker, writer and teacher currently living in England. She has travelled extensively and lived in China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and, most recently, Syria where political unrest forced her to return to the UK, her blog was an irresistible first- hand account of the disintegration of a country, her poetry about that experience moving and profound.
She has a first class honours degree in English Language and Literature and is a qualified teacher and currently teaches English and Creative Writing alongside writing a novel and a collection of poetry.

Elisabeth Charis

Elisabeth Charis

‘My writing explores our relationship with time and place; nature; freedom and responsibility; that good old fashioned notion, ‘love’; the journey we are all on within ourselves and what it means to be a woman, in our world, now. This last is also called feminism but, like the other themes, it is really just a questioning of the world from the only perspective I know. Most importantly, I try to be honest, though that can be the hardest thing.’

Reviews of past Poetry Alights are available here:

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1 Response to Poetry Alight 6 at Lichfield Preview

  1. timthepoet says:

    I saw Matt Black in Belper last week. He was so funny in his first session, I almost cried. If he ever decides to give up poetry I reckon he’d make a brilliant stand up comedian.

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