Friday, 28 September 2012


Hi, and welcome to brief and Loose News, of poetry readings coming up in the next two weeks, and one or two other bits and bats.
One or two readings in the next couple of weeks, where I’ll endeavour to entertain and tickle earlobes with word-music, slices of life and gentle provocation. It’s a year since I started laureateering, and to celebrate I’m going to try out a number of new poems. Ten Top Tips for Incoming Southerners: a guide to Derbyshire, that’s a new one, plus a fresh take on Chesterfield Taxi-Drivers, plus other poems about other folks near you. So, do come along if you fancy some poetry entertainment -

I’ll be at Ripley Library from 3.00pm till 4.00pm, and then at Belper Library from 7.00 – 8.45. Both are FREE events, but please book tickets from Ripley Library Tel: 01773 743321, or from Belper Library Tel: 01773 824333.

Come along to Havana Whites bar, more or less opposite Pomegranate Theatre, in Chesterfield, for a night where Spoken Word and page poetry rub shoulders in a very friendly manner. I’m hoping to get along there this time, the two headliners are great, have a look at!/groups/268421253224932
all set up by the wondrous poet Helen Mort, famously of the greyhounds (or are they whippets, Helen?) by her side.

Via links, if you fancy, are the 11 milestones round the County, with poems on, which I am right proud of.
And likewise, there’s a flavour of John Scargill’s Nightcap, a sort of poem/street-theatre/musical piece, on youtube, as performed with West Hallam Emergency Goodwill Choir, specially created for the occasion (you didn’t guess, honest).

I’ll be blogging some other stuff soon, that’s all for now. Ciao.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Erewash Sound and Beyond

Photo at the top: Dan Martin and Tris Walker hold up the Erewash Sound mascot in the recording studio
Photo below: Laura Kate Smith and Tris Walker discuss sound levels in the studio

     So, yes, first bit of news is that I've been to Erewash Sound studios for a very enjoyable (and sometimes hilarious) evening, recording poems and chatting with the wonderful, funny and enthusiastic Spoken Word spread-the-word'ers Tris and Laura - who have already done excellent interviews with Cathy Grindrod, Jeremy Duffield and others. Tris and Laura's Spoken Word interviews are woven effortlessly into their regular Saturday broadcasts and can be found on and My interviews with them are going to be this Saturday and next Saturday, part of their 1pm to 2pm broadcast. I'm not very good at hearing myself on radio so probably shan't be listening!! However, many thanks to Tris and Laura for such good company and for flying the Spoken Word light aeroplane so tirelessly and joyfully.
     As spring approaches, so poetry sap rises and readings and events unfold again. Roger McGough next Monday at Chesterfield Library is very exciting, I was - as a youf - inspired by Penguin Poets 10 which was the Mersey Sound edition, those early very accessible and enjoyable Scouse transformations of ordinary and everyday experience into poetry. And then arguably even more exciting (!), 4 Laureates in the Library on next Wednesday, 14th, that's mysen' and the 3 previous laureateers, River, Cathy, Ann.
     Other news is that Chesterfield now has its own regular Open Mic night, hosted by the excellent poet Helen Mort - to find out details go to the Facebook group Spire Writes. And if you're up for a writing challenge, for charity, you are warmly invited by River (Wolton) to a sponsored Writing Marathon - fun, friendly, and the first ever for South Yorkshire. You will also be raising money for SAGE Greenfingers, a vital community project. Saturday 24th March 10am - 5.30pm. Welcome Centre, Nottingham St, Sheffield S3 9AQ. Registration fee £2. To register & start getting sponsored go to:
       Finally, my friend Michael has just put up one of our collaborative pieces on soundcloud, my poem with Michael's soundscape to commemorate the demolition of the cooling towers near Meadowhall in Sheffield.
     So, tomorrow off to have lunch at the Afro-Caribbean Centre in Chesterfield, share a few poems and have a chat, and then to Quad's Open Mic night in the evening, which I've never been to before.
Spring is in the air, and the poetry sap is rising.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Stanza Writing Group visit and Ashbourne Festival Poetry Competition

       Just to say a big thanks to  the Derbyshire Stanza group (from left, Tim, Nick, Carol, Shirley, Jeremy, Alison, Lesley and Margaret), for a lovely welcome and a very enjoyable session last Saturday. Lots of excellent writing, and a lovely mix of interests in serious/comic/ free verse and rhymed. We had plenty of laughter too, which was perhaps not that surprising, given that one of our writing tasks was to write some nonsense poems for the Literature Festival's Nonsense Writing Competition, starting with various models and inspirations including nonsense alphabets, Carroll's Jabberwocky and Milligan's Ning Nang Nong.                     
        Derbyshire Stanza group works in what I think is a really excellent way - it meets up in different venues around the county, with some members always attending, and then writers local to the particular venue coming along too, so lots of new writer-friends and contacts can be made. So, here's the details of their next meeting - it's on Sunday 11th March, 12noon-3pm, at The Brunswick Inn (real ale pub, no car park), 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU. It is a couple of minutes walk from Derby railway station. The meeting will include a writing exercise, poetry reading and a critiquing session of poems-in-progress inspired by the month of March (bring 10 copies of poem). All poets welcome. More information from
      Also delighted to say that there are now details of how to enter Ashbourne Festival's poetry competition, which is running for the 2nd year, and which now has a Young Poets category for the competition - so if you fancy a go at this one, then look at
     Be in touch soon with  more - all best, Matt

Monday, 13 February 2012

At the still centre

So, these 2 trees stand, more or less, at the geographical centre of Derbyshire. Take a map, find the northernmost and southernmost point, measure with ruler, divide by half; easternmost and westernmost, ditto; and here you are. All in the name of following an idea to find the centre of Derbyshire, and go there and write. I found the mixture of rationale and randomness, of known and unknown, really exhilarating, committing myself to the chance of the process. The poem is still at a draft stage, but I think it will turn into a poem that I want to keep, but the journey was exciting - having found this slightly random reason for finding a location on a  map, then deciding to follow the adventure, however odd or unusual the final actual place might turn out to be. As it is, it turned out, by luck, to be a gorgeous natural spot (it could have been carpark/ tesco's/ unreachable/ or anything else) with lots of Derbyshire features, one-man barns, old drystone walls, a boggy half-wild field at the top of a hill, and although of course my map didn't really specify it quite this closely, I decided that these 2 magnificent trees, about 50 yards apart from each other, must surely be the king and queen at the centre.