Gillian Clarke will be our Autumn Dinner guest on 26 November

Myfanwy Fox:

I’ve heard wonderful things about Gillian Clarke reading at Ledbury last year so I am really looking forward to this.

Originally posted on Malvern Writers' Circle:

Malvern Writers’ Circle are delighted to announce that GILLIAN CLARKE, the National Poet of Wales, will be our Autumn Dinner guest speaker on Wednesday, 26th November at the Mount Pleasant Hotel in Great Malvern.

Gillian Clarke is a Welsh poet, playwright, editor, broadcaster, lecturer and translator from Welsh, becoming the third National poet of Wales in 2008. In 2010 she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and became the second Welsh person to receive the honour. In 2011 she was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards. In 2012 she received the Wilfred Owen Association Poetry award. Her book Ice was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2012.

Wednesday 26 November, 6.30 pm, Harcourt Room, Mount Pleasant Hotel, Belle Vue Terrace, Malvern. WR14 4PZ. £20 ticket includes dinner.

Gillian Clarke will speak at 7.00 pm, before dinner.

14 Autumn Dinner Menu Choices 2014


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ConFab Cabaret – with Hollie McNish and Al Barz

Another FAB show.

Here’s the Fox Pops audience poem. One of my suggestions was “football”. The audience shaved that down to something more specific on the world cup:


There’s a rabbit in my window box
…so many nuts, so little time!
Ronaldo, Rbinho, Ronaldinho, senna
coco cabanna, Rio and dancing with Hanna
I know very little about Brazil – apart from
it rhymes with HILL and ILL and the football’s there!
A South American frenzy of balls
Or a frenzy of cutting remarks on the ref
one makes you shout till your hoarse
The other makes you deaf
Riot of colour, passion played
out in the street – who? Brazilians.
I favour your favela
Favelas as nesting boxes perched on the hill
No go areas filled with corruption and poverty
Oh Brazil you drive me nuts, the truth
is in favelas away from chance the ball
How many millions in a Brazilian?
There are lots of fellas
in favelas
millions and millions
of Brazilians
Suz read a poem and hairs, zillions
and you go and ask for something about Brazilians.
They have an awful lot of coconuts
in Brazil but give me a good
festival every time
Brazilians I don’t like,
I want to write on WESTFEST
Because of all the Malverns
They’ve got a whole lot of coffee
There’s a really nice cocktail
at Wetherspoons called Brazilian
it’s mango flavour and really yummy
A Brazilian is a strip away from Hollywood –
yet they’re inches away on a map!
The chainsaw breaks.
The rainforest is saved a close shave.
My hedge trimmer is broken
MY topiary is not symmetrical
The first cut is the deepest
A close shave with you alright!
Faithful and trusty landing
A landing strip is not my trip – I let it run – amok,
but a Brazilian on Prince William is how I like to rock!
It’s only hair – it’s meant to be there
A fluffy muffin is just as volcanic
Bright brilliant Brazilians sleekly shaved
in all the right places – shaded from San Paolo’s sunshine
I tried it, it’s not like in the pics,
a red itch plucked chicken with a landing
strip clit
must be time to polish the rabbit



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Garden Party

Originally posted on Malvern Writers' Circle:

MWC annual bring and share garden party in a gorgeous garden and with perfect weather. Readings from war poetry and members’ own work.










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What we need to do things, what we put in to things we do. What I run out of …

For those of us who are larks – at our best first thing in the morning – events are particularly exhausting as they are usually at night. For those of us who are introverts – not as in shy but finding we need a bit of aloneness to re-energise – it’s another way events are tiring however wonderful and lovely all the people involved may be.

So this blog post is a bit personal because I’m explaining why I can’t make it to everything that’s happening. Well, I could go to everything, but I’d pay for it over the next days – and possibly even weeks. Long ago, I was one of those undergrads who worked – and partied – all term and then promptly caught a cold as I stepped onto the train for the holidays, to spend the two week break at Christmas or Easter comatose, starting with pretty much 48 straight hours of sleep broken for the occasional snack and a visit to the doctor for antibiotics for tonsillitis.

Excuses, excuses: I wanted to go on the Worcs Lit Fest & Fringe opening events – including the laureate selection – followed by the magical-sounding midnight solstice walk last night but I was at work yesterday (my day job is interestingly knackering –I’ve had plenty of interesting/knackering jobs over the years; this one takes the biscuit) and I’m to be at work again today and my teenagers finished their various exams as of yesterday so, instead of going anywhere at all we had a takeaway meal as a treat and I was in bed by 9.30 – long before my kids – catching up after ConFab on Wednesday night (it was FAB indeed; I will blog a review and the audience poem ASAP) and then a visit to Birmingham’s new library for a Poetry On Loan workshop (also fab; fun and funny and educational all in one) on Thursday.

So I have just looked on FaceBook and I Worcestershire’s new poet laureate is FERGUS MCGONIGAL; Claire Walker was a close second and Suz Winspear third. Huge congratulations! And see you all soon, I hope.


Here’s wot I made in the Poetry On Loan Seeing Things workshop with permission to play like preschoolers with the PVA glue and bits of sparkly stuff:


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Outside The One Stop

This week I am chuffed that a my 52 (“highstreet” theme, week 8) poem, Outside The One Stop,  is on the Morning Star’s poetry section HERE.

I’m also mega-incredibly excited that next week Hollie McNish is coming to ConFab Cabaret here in Malvern on Wednesday 18 June (Oliver’s Bar, Belle Vue Terrace, Great Malvern, WR14 4PZ).

Here she is doing poems that have gone viral on YouTube:


Fabulous events are like buses: wait for ages and then two arrive at once. So, on the same night ConFab hosts Hollie McNish, John Cooper Clarke is performing in Colwall, just over the hill.

A couple of years ago I heard a poem (on the radio? I really can’t remember) and thought, ‘That’s the same rhythm and form as John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown” using repetitive profanity to beat home the monotony of a dismal existence.’

Here’s the fabulous Christopher Ecclestone rendition:

I finally tracked it down today with a bit of googling. Here’s an interview where he mentions it. And here is the precursor poem, from WWII.

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A prose poem about tits

Political Support

The ‘80s Wonderbra is the lingerie equivalent of UKIP: attractively buoyant at first glance but built on false fillets with nothing to support its claims, embarrassingly prone to self-exposure and inevitably ending in tears. Trendy T-shirt lightly padded bras for those who refuse to admit to nipples are New Labour yummy mummies wearing floral frocks and bearing half-baked cheery cherry buns. The feminista Greens don’t see the need for Man-made Lycra, elastic and sweatshop-bent under-wires: they’ll take breasts as they come. Which leaves the Tories with the Playtex and the M&S matron ranges proclaiming their winning mantra, “Lift and Separate”.


Jo Bell’s slightly-scary-but-ever-so-exhilarating 52 project is now at Week 22 with an exhortation to write prose poems from guest prompt-setter Luke Kennard.

There are some stonking pieces already posted in the accompanying FaceBook 52 group, even though some of us are not quite sure we’re “doing it right” – or even if there is a right.

The above was my attempt.

I left out the Lib Dems on the basis that so does the universe, plus, at the moment, the poem is exactly 100 words, which means I can say it’s a Drabble. (And then people might think I know what I’m doing because I know some jargon. (Back to the politics?))

While I’m on the subject of tits: I remember meeting a charming group of elderly lady writers a few years ago and picking up their regular anthology of work to find the volume fell open at a poem with a startling opening line something like “Tits are bouncing on the table”. That her line momentarily and alarmingly conjured a scene quite unlike her intended garden nook (with its chirpy sparrows and cheery chaffinches as elaborated thereafter) will always stay with me.




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Graffiti as art? The writing is on the wall.

ConFab Cabaret last night: Dizraeli was a superb main act; fierce poetry and lyrics as a blend of hip hop and folk song – both artistic forms from ordinary people (and generally, certainly at the time, denigrated by the establishment). Definitely recommended and I’d like to see him with his band, The Small Gods, sometime soon.

I suggested “spring” or “graffiti” to the audience as topics for The Audience Poem (aka Fox Pops). We had some wonderful graffiti appear recently in Malvern: Sir Edward Elgar on his mobile lounging against a wall beside an old phone box, plus some portraits, also of Sir Ed, in the bus shelter. The audience added “bluebells” and “raised beds” to the possibilities. Graffiti won by a big cheer and WHAT a poem the audience penned! I particulary like Banksy’s hood being drawn over his face, and the wordplay on verses/versus. As usual, I have no idea who wrote what.

Here it is:


Picture Politics in Aerosol Art,
Spikey Words or Temperate Tart.
Bright and bold, does it make you think?
Crowds with cameras sharing a knowing wink.
I see the graffiti,
it looks quite sweetie.
Graphics appear on walls in the middle of the night.
Some ugly and rude, some cryptic and bright.
Graffiti are like [rainbows OR* nailbars] of the city,
they appear one day and disappear the next.
These are the words written on the wall
“The Emperor’s New Virus? There’s nothing
there, nothing at all”
oh my Hiroshima
prefigured Banksy figures
burn into a wall
makes you think
Urban confetti cascades on walls
Patterned pavement, and acid house doors
Grinding, riding and surfing the story
sounds of the underworld nation
before me – before you
happy faces look at the once dowdy walls ~
flaky flakes turned into some sort of
nonsense, to give us all something to natter about!
As Banksy was resting his paintbrush,
his hoody drawn over his face.
Banksy woz ere
said the sign.
I love Street Art – the real thing – words on bricks
when there are no letters at all.
A stencil, sewn into the lining of my coat.
Graffiti Giraffe left her mark
on top of St Pauls dome.
Don’t scribble on my bluebells
Please don’t deface my flowers
Don’t scribble on my raised beds
I’ve been digging them for hours.
As I floated my boat to the Isle of Manxy
I spotted an original, gotta be Banksy
Nefertiti drew old graffiti
on the wall, though she was small
What makes it art or what makes it graffiti?
Banksy verses [sic] random criminality.
Graffito, scratch me and I bleed
draw blood, draw breath
wall eyed pen pal
quick scarper, a copper’s coming…
Daub it over the station; splurge across the nation
Do it if you’re Asian, an aerosol Caucasian?
But smear it with elation to maximise


*Sometimes it’s impossible to read word(s) so a bit of guessing is involved…

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