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From the 01 July Apples and Snakes have been celebrating an iconic moment in history – the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a dream speech’ with a very special project: Architects of Our Republic. Here is a time scale of what has happened so far: -

In March: the blog Architects of Our Republic and Twitter account @rageandradiate was set up by a man called Fitz. Be acquainted here.

In April: six spoken word artists and filmmakers from across the country were commissioned to write three minute films responding to Martin Luther King’s iconic speech. These films will be screened within five different regions, starting with the South-West on the 04 November at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth and in London on the 19 November at the Free Word Centre.  Three well-established spoken word artists Charlie DarkSalena GoddenHollie McNish, were commissioned to create new 15 minute pieces, whilst Dizraeli and the Small Gods and Zena Edwards worked with hip-hop producer Drew Horley to produce protest/freedom songs. 

Listen to Zena’s beautiful and melodic commission here

Listen to Hollie’s unique take on the ‘I have Dream’ speech here

In June: Kenny BarakaInua EllamsKat Francois and Malika Booker worked with two elders groups and a refugee youth group within London. You can watch Malika and one of the elders groups in action here.

28 August (a momentous moment in modern history): all the work commissioned by the artists and created by participants culminated at the Southbank Centre to an audience of around 3,500. This also included a public march, and a rare UK performance from the kings of cool - The Last Poets – see highlights from the day and pursue the image gallery, below. 

If you missed any of this so far, don’t worry, because the project continues until March 2014: -

Five national events

Monday 04 November, The Barbican Theatre: A very special screening of all five commissioned films, plus Mama Tokus, Vanessa Kisuule and Zena Edwards will be performing.

Tuesday 19 November, Free Word Centre: A very special screening of all five commissioned films, performances from Zena EdwardsSureshot and the legendary Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze MBE. Get a flavour for Jean here. There will also be guest performances by the Architects Young Writers group and young writers.

Three more screenings will take place around the country. There will be one in the West-Midlands in December (just in time for Christmas!) and two in 2014; one in the South-East and one in the North-East. These dates are yet to be confirmed. However, stay in touch with @applesandsnakes and @rageandradiate for updates on this.

Education programmes
Apples and Snakes will also produce 10 live education events, as well as resources to be used in a range of educational settings, as part of there role as London’s leading Bridge organisation for Arts Council England.

 

Listen to the Architects of our Republic set on Soundcloud.

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Tyneside poet Carmen Thompson tells us how she put the North East Go And See Fund to good use!

Workshop: Healing Words: Poetry in Therapeutic Practice

Organisation: Scarborough Psychotherapy Training Institute

Deliverer: Kate Evans

Carmen ThompsonBeing a writer, talking to writers and reading writers, I’ve come to realise that writing drives us a little bit mad (hence the title) – the obsessions, the rituals, the ecstasy of a good day and the manhole darkness of a bad day. To make this worse, the myth of the crazed, drug addled, selfish and self-obsessed writer is celebrated in Sunday magazines weekly as both an invitation and a warning. But the truth, for me and many writers, is that the myth is just a myth, the truth is that writing is the beginning of healing for the writer, and by extension for the reader or listener. What makes us a little bit mad is not a selfish obsession to understand ourselves but a strange need to expose ourselves so that other people can say ‘me too, phew!’, to connect. So I wanted to look at writing through the end of an unfamiliar kaleidoscope – therapy – to take a closer look at the act of writing and the journey towards healing. So here is a brief snippet of what I found valuable from this experience and some signposts for further research if your curiosity is fired up.

First off, I fell back in love with Free Writing, the session reminded me that Free Writing is the permission to play, the word equivalent of ‘taking a line for a walk’. Remembering the ‘Free’ part of Free Writing got me out of some big blocks I was experiencing in my own writing. I recommend that you look up ‘The Reflexive Approach’, it is about curiosity, watching, asking what is happening rather than rushing to judgement and decision making. This is a rich process, which can be applied both to our practice, to teaching and our writing. Finally, and especially for poets who perform and teach, read Josie Billington’s What is Creative Reading?’. It is a mind-bursting exploration of the importance of reading as a full body experience – ‘through reading aloud, the poem or story, every line and every word, is itself an emotional presence’. Finally, it is important to remember on those dark, dried up, ‘why can’t I write, this is all rubbish’ days that there are people out there, like us, doing what we do, to help others transform the dead and damaged pieces of themselves – to heal. This is why I write, this is why it is the most important thing I will ever do. If this is a little bit of madness, then bring it on.

‘Creativity is on the side of health – it isn’t the thing that drives us mad; it is the capacity in us that tries to save us from madness.’
Jeanette Winterson in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

 

To find out more about the North East Go And See Fund click here, or join the Apples and Snakes North East Facebook group.

See what other poets have done with their money: -

James Wilkinson

Jenni Pascoe

 

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Adam Kammerling – is the Brighton Hammer and Tongue Slam Champion 2010, the Hackney Slam Champion 2011 and the UK Slam Champion 2012.

“Public Address put me on a national stage. [...] I hadn’t gigged in London before, nor with artists of such a high calibre. I remember that stage being very, very scary. I had to believe in my writing and my performance. I gave 100% and it was a good gig. It gave me the confidence to start pushing myself in the right direction and challenging myself as a writer.”

 

Alex Gwyther – has been commissioned to write for a number of organisations, businesses and charities including: BBC Radio 1, Mastercard, Transitions Global, The Southbank Centre and The Book People. He has been published by Nasty Little Press and Burning Eye. His first solo theatre play, Our Friends, The Enemy was selected as part of New Wimbledon Theatre’s Fresh Ideas 2013 season, where it saw a sell out run. Our Friends, The Enemy is now working with David Adkin Ltd to produce a 2014 UK Tour.

 

Mark Neil – is Milton Keynes Poet Laureate. He has won many Slams including Ledbury, Wenlock and Bristol Poetry Festivals and has appeared at Latitude, Green Man and Wychwood Festivals. In May 2012, he was the Poet in Residence for BBC Radio 2′s “2Day” and was commissioned by them to write a poem celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

 

Matt Windle – was Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate in 2007-2008. He has judged many poetry competitions including the BBC radio 4 poetry slam and the BBC ‘off by heart’ project. He has performed to an audience of 5000 at the world badminton championships, at the National Indoor Arena. He is also a boxer.

 

Mike Edwards – has been commissioned by the ARC Stockton, three times. In 2011 he was selected to be one of the Verb New Voices, as part of a BBC Radio 3 development project.

 

Saran Green – is a performance poet on the Jamaican local poetry scene. She has appeared as a guest poet at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, and has featured at the renowned local poetry bar, Weekendz.

 

Hannah Silva – has performed at the Tokyo Design Centre, Krikri International Festival of Polyphony in Belgium, Poetry Hearings in Berlin and throughout the UK at festivals including Latitude, the London Word Festival and Stanza. Her solo show ‘Opposition’ toured nationally 2011-12 and was described in a five star review by What’s on Stage as ‘radical, political, courageous’. She is currently on tour with ‘The Disappearance of Sadie Jones’.

“Following the tour I put together an Arts Council application to make and tour a solo show Opposition. That application was really building on my experience doing the public address tour. I got the funding, toured to around twelve venues, finishing with a run at the Ovalhouse in London.”

 

 

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So Public Address II tour has officially started and taken the North East by storm with a poetry KER-POW… To continue with our alumni Q & A and in honour of this Sunday (20.10), we catch up with 2010′s London representative, Adam Kammerling!

 

Adam Kammerling

1. Looking back, what impact did Public Address have on your work/development at the time?

Public Address put me on a national stage. While I didn’t do the tour, I hadn’t gigged in London before, nor with artists of such a high calibre. I remember that stage being very, very scary. I had to believe in my writing and my performance. I gave 100% and it was a good gig. It gave me the confidence to start pushing myself in the right direction and challenging myself as a writer.

 2. Since the tour, what have been key moments for you as a spoken word artist?

I hate to reduce it to competition stuff but winning the Hammer And Tongue Brighton Slam in 2011, and later the National Slam in 2012, were two pretty special moments for me. It was a massive validation of my work and I guess it helped raise my profile as well. Since then I think I have a ‘key moment’ every other week. Although some moments of note (that’s what you’re looking for, right?) are going to Poland with the Arts Council, hosting Poets Vs Mc’s with the excellent Rosy Carrick to a sold out crowd of 500+, becoming a member of the Chill Pill Collective, doing the Hammer And Tongue UK tour, I’ve been blessed, the list continues.

3. Looking forward as a spoken word artist, what next?

Writing new material is a constant and ongoing process, but a project of a somewhat meatier size is on the cards. It’s still in the research stages. More on that when it’s up and away. There’s also the music. I’m sat on some complete/near-complete projects that will be out soon and am working on a new LP with Cuth. The rap and the poetry complement each other nicely and I’m constantly writing one or the other. The great thing about this world is that there’s always something new to try, always some way to improve, in writing, performing, facilitating. I’m constantly striving to be better at what I do.

4. What do you feel are the benefits of regional touring for spoken word artists?

I think the benefits of touring are massive. By the end of a tour, all elements of your artistry, from writing to performance to reading a crowd, will have vastly improved. It’s like intensive training for performers, but with loads of people watching. Touring takes you into cool new towns and cities, which is immense fun, and brings you to new audiences which increases your range as an artist. It also teaches you to look after yourself. Unfortunately not every gig can be a party. If you’re not careful you can spend the last days of a tour croaking poems into a microphone, green, quivering with nausea under a film of cool sweat. I’m not talking from experience, of course.

 

Click here to check out more poetry footage with Adam and to keep in touch with what he is up to – including his ‘project of a somewhat meatier size’…  We are intrigued!

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North East poet Jenni Pascoe fills us in on her North East Go And See Fund trip

This summer, a couple of Tyneside poets decided to use the North East Go And See Fund bursary to help them visit the Edinburgh Fringe.

Jenni Pascoe is a performer and a promoter, and the host of the very successful JibbaJabba spoken word cabaret. As someone who regularly books poets, comedians and musicians, the Fringe was a very important opportunity for scoping acts as well as developing her own skills.

“I feel I got an excellent insight into the way the PBH Free Fringe works, and saw several shows evolve throughout the run. I learned a great deal about the promotion of shows and the pros and cons of various venues, time slots and long/short runs. I had direct experience promoting shows for various performers, and very quickly grasped the best ways of promoting each individual show. ‘Flyering’ seems pretty straightforward, but actually I found different shows need a different approach, location and time of day to get the best results JenniPascoe4_1from it.?? I was able to perform at a few open mics and had two feature slots whilst I was there, which gave me an opportunity to show some of my own work, but also made me very aware of the constraints and precision necessary in timing a show, especially when there are several guests involved. I attended several showcase style shows, which have encouraged me to take a version of my own event ‘JibbaJabba, to the PBH Free Fringe. I was fortunate to meet many talented performers during my stay, and also attended the heats and finals of the BBC Slam for the first time, which was a fabulous experience, and a great demonstration of how a slam can be presented in a way I had not seen before. I bought books and CDs from James McKay, Rob Auton and Danny Chivers, in the case of James, to become more familiar with his work, and for the others, to note any differences in how well the poems work both in and out of the context of the show, and how they work in different media. I am interested in developing merchandise of my own to sell at future shows, and was keen to see what would work best. I left Edinburgh with several plans:

  • To take a version of ‘JibbaJabba to the PBH Free Fringe for at a least a one week run.
  • To devise a show of my own, which would ideally have an opportunity for a guest performer to join each performance.
  • To book several of the performers I saw to perform at events in Newcastle.
  • To experiment with different formats when hosting slams.
  • To perform at more events throughout the UK through contacts made whilst in Edinburgh.

So overall, an extremely useful trip!”

You can find out more about Jenni Pascoe’s event JibbaJabba here, or To find out more about the North East Go And See Fund click here

Join Apples and snakes North East Facebook group

 

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james wilkinson black and whiteTyneside poet James Wilkinson tells us how he put the North East Go And See Fund to good use!

It can feel a little isolated up here in the grim north, and as programme coordinator for the region I’ve often thought a travel bursary might be a good thing. So this year I finally got around to trying it out! It’s only a token pot, poets can claim back up to £50 towards the cost of anything that helps develop their career: performing out of region, going to see an artist they admire, even attending workshops. Take-up has been enthusiastic!

This summer, a couple of Tyneside poets decided to use the bursary to help them visit the Edinburgh Fringe.

First up James Wilkinson wanted to gather some inspiration for his own work, here he tells us about his experience…`

“Journeying to the Edinburgh Festival to check out some poetry and spoken word shows was fantastic for refilling my inspiration tanks. I got to see some really top notch performers. I was amazed at Kate Fox’s energy, pace and engaging MC skills in her show ‘Fox Populi. Spoken word shows like Sam Avery‘s Rock ‘n’ Dole, and Sophia Walker‘s Around The World In Eight Mistakes showed the power of delving deep into personal life experiences to create inspirational, touching themed shows. And the Other Voices spoken word show introduced me to a wide variety of performers I’d never seen, who did a great job of serving up poetic slices of their very different lives. All in all it was great to come into direct contact with spoken word from outside of the North East, and indeed from outside of Great Britain, and to see all kinds of different approaches to poetry and spoken word. I now feel in a great state for building my recent poetic scribblings up into something more tangible and sharable.”

To find out more about the North East Go And See Fund click here, or join the Apples and Snakes North East Facebook group

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Apples and snakes’ Poet Of The Month Jack Dean tells us about the psychological phenomenon of Imposter Syndrome.

I write this on the fourth day into a run of my show Rain at the Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol. My combined audience for the last three shows has been seven. I don’t ultimately blame anyone but myself: to drum up customers to a fringe theatre in a foreign town requires a level of effort that I did not put in, but it has made me think about the wider scale of the problems we as artists face.

There is a chronic low self-esteem amongst spoken word imagesartists that is borderline endemic, and dwarfs what is present in practitioners in other art forms. The poet and academic Bohdan Piaceski described it to me as Impostor Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon where a person believes that their achievements have come to them through sheer luck. For every success, there are plenty of failures: publishers downsizing, arts budgets cut, and audiences for live performance steadily declining in favour of digital media, but we write these off instead as reflective of our own laziness or incompetence, creating a paradoxical spiral where we cannot build pride in our achievements. This is coupled with a wave of stereotypes carried over from the page poetry world and, seemingly, early 20th century Paris: poets are self-obsessed, poets drink all the time, poets drown in oceans of abstraction, poets smoke by typewriters and wallow in misery. These are more often than not internalised by the performers I know, myself included, who join in the chorus of derogation so as not to be seen as arrogant.

As creators in a predominately live medium, spoken word artists rely on an audience for what they do to work, and by association to feel good about their craft. It’s a part of why we encourage so much uproarious applause between poems at shows: we need constant encouragement.

This may all be irrelevant. The economy may pick up. The public may tire of YouTube and alcohol and come thronging back to us. Ebooks may bring about a renaissance in written poetry. I might make enough from writing one day to quit my dayjob and buy a big, brighly coloured house in North Bristol with two fluffy dogs. But if it’s going to happen to me or anyone else we have to try and develop some respect, if not for ourselves, then for our craft and other people who do it, and break out the cycle of Impostor-ism that has gripped our subculture. If we don’t no-one else will.

 

Jack released his first full book, Poems For Grown Up Children, in August. You can check it out here, or visit his website for everything else.

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Apples and Snakes’ Snakebaskets are monthly newsletters tailored for each region we work in. Here you will find lots of exciting spoken word stuff and more about what we are up to in your area. These are extracts – sign up here to receive the whole message!

“just wanted to say thanks for one of the best poetry-info emails I’ve ever received. Hope to attend at least a couple of the events – brilliant!” London Snakebasket reader.

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From London coordinator Russell

Hello there,

October is theoreticallSelina Nwuluy where poetry’s pulsating heart lies – containing, as it does, National Poetry Day. And no, I don’t know why this is a totally different date from World Poetry Day. Maybe it’s like the Queen having two birthdays. Our chums Poet In The City are marking the occasion with the oh–so–aptly–titled Spoken Word All-Stars show on the 3rd.
Almost simultaneously, we’re embarking on our first season of Spoke – the wordtastic programme of poetry events popping up in and around the Olympic Park over the next year. For starters, you can dust off your walking shoes for a late-night poetry stroll with Inua Ellams on the 4thwith The midnight Run. He says wrap up warm and bring a banana (putting the psycho into psychogeography, perhaps?). And if that’s not out-there enough, we’ve also got a cabaret in a swimming pool – Liz & Rob on Sea. Take the – arf arf – plunge and join them on the 30th
Watch out, too, for the Public Address II tour, featuring a veritable quincunx of our favourite national poets. The Greyhound rolls into Bethnal Green on the 20th. And of course Jawdance will be its twanging its floss again only three days later on the 23rd.
In other news, Simon Mole will be reprising his multimedia masterpiece Indiana Jones & the Extra Chair at the Southbank Centre on the 14th. And we’re kicking off our Telling Tales programme. Details below.

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From West Midlands coordinator bohdan

Hello all!Laura Meehan

Three years ago, I was sitting in an empty room at The Victoria, worried sick. I had just set up a new poetry night, and I had promoter’s anxiety. “What if nobody comes?” I kept thinking. Well, people turned up, and saw Ian Keteku, Kim Trusty and Tony Walsh deliver scorching sets at the very first Hit The Ode. Three years on, the night has provided countless wonderful moments of poetry, comedy and community. Join us on Thursday 17 October for our anniversary: we have three incredible poets and some special surprises planned. You do not want to miss this.
We will also be hosting the Midlands leg of Public Address II, a national tour featuring five poets from five regions, doing five sets likely to be five times better than whatever else might be on offer on the Saturday 26 October. Come and support Lorna Meehan, the West Midlands representative, and discover four other great performers.
And there is a lot more to come this month: the cornucopia of wordy goodness that is the Birmingham Literature Festival is set to start, a couple of great examples of what happens when poetry and theatre collide, and the first national slam competition for universities… As always, more details after the jump.

See you soon!

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From North East Coordinator Kirsten

Dudes and dudettes, listen up prithee!Chris StewartPA

Public Address II is a major national tour of five emerging spoken word talents from each of the five Apples regions, and it’s coming to the North East FIRST!!! So please join me on Wednesday 9 October at ARC for a brilliantly varied and vocally nimble night of high quality poetry.
We have a special Scratch Tyne on the 20th, hosted by Jenni Pascoe and featuring bespoke creations for multiple voices, partnered poets and collaborations – plus live music, and all for nothing more than your feedback!
Our partnership with the awesome JibbaJabba continues on the 24th with a visit from acclaimed Trinidadian writer and musician Roger Robinson, launching his new book, The Butterfly Hotel.
We also have the return of our ‘tasty morsels’, as Amuse Bouche comes to Washington and serves up bite-size sets of poems from Elaine Cusack, Rowan McCabe and Andrew Sclater on the 31st.
And our Home Cooking broadcast will be broadcast on the 3rd October on www.basic.fm, featuring Chrissie Petrie with ‘Perceptions of Poetry’ – performance in a motorcycle club, anyone?

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From South East Coordinator Pete

Hello,Tom Sissons

Come October, plants start to die back, birds start to migrate south and animals begin to think about hibernating, I even know of some humans who retreat to the warmth of their duvets at the thought of the coming winter. But not us at Apples and Snakes, we burgeon like the nuts on trees and work harder to keep warm, bringing you even more spoken word to cosy your ears around.
In the coming weeks there’ll be poets in schools and on stages all over the place.
We’ve got 2 National Poetry Day specials The Real Deal on the 3rd and Strictly Speaking also on the 3rd. The Apples and Snakes Tour Public Address II rolls into town on the 21st and Simon Mole brings his one-man show to Brighton on the 1st November.

Untill Next time!

From South West coordinator Gina

Gosh, do I detectJack Dean the smell of autumn in the air? At Apples and Snakes Towers we’ve been busy lining up a tantalising array of poetic treats for you to cosy up to this season.
Public Address II – the national spoken word tour – is coming to a venue near you this October. Five brilliant spoken word artists, hailing from five different regions of England, have been gathered together by Apples and Snakes for this extra special tour of the country.
Looking forward to early November and the all-new Spokes: Amaze!, at the atmospheric Exeter Bike Shed Theatre. That’s on Sunday 3 November and is simply bursting with amazing poetry – on film and in the flesh. We have headline acts, emerging talent, a jaunty host and a quick fire slam! Oh yeah, don’t miss it. In fact, November is so rammed with events that I feel it’s necessary to mention a few more…
On Monday 4 November the Architects Of Our Republic film commissions will be shown at a special edition of FORKED in Plymouth, with live performances and special headline guest: the inimitable Zena Edwards. Another biggy for the eleventh month at Barnstaple’s Queens Theatre Gallery Café: on Tuesday 19 November, look out for the re-launch of Gallery Sessions, an extraordinary evening of spoken word showcasing top talents from across the UK.

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Poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams tells Apples and Snakes about the relationship between the poet and the city and the theme behind ‘The Midnight Run’

For me, there are many similarities between what it is to be a writer of poetry and what it is to live in a city. Just as there are rules and regulations governing grammar and sentence  construction, there are rules and regs to urban dwelling. Punctuation is to paragraph as Stop sign is to traffic etc.  In poetry, we bend the rules as much as is stylistically and legibly possible; one could say a poet who has carved out a “voice” is a poet who has mastered a specific set of rules. Similarly, to live well within a city is to figure out where to live, how to get to work, where to have fun, what spaces allow for your identity within the law; to master its rules.

You could spend lifetimes attemptispoke2ng to perfect this harmony – as you might with distilling language – but simple things: road works, a “leaf on the track”, a burst pipe may disrupt a journey. There could be new schools of poetry, reinventions of old words, styles that challenge a voice… the only way to survive such random, unpredictable onslaughts is never to work against it, instead to accept its inevitability. This is where water comes in.

Of my childhood, I recall watching Bruce Lee films, hypnotised by such impossible fluidity. Poet and educator Jacob Sam-La Rose writes in ‘A song for Kung-Fu‘ taken from his forward-prize-nominated book Breaking Silence,

Who didn’t dream of fluency
          of muscle and bone, that jazzy language…

Years later, I stumbled onto a YouTube clip where he talks about water, how we have to be like this, to be ever malleable, over and around whatever obstacle we may face; to stand loose. When I run writing workshops, I always begin with a Freewrite – we start with a randomly generated sentence and over the ten minute duration, chase it down a page, see what comes. During the exercise, I throw in other words that must be added to sentences as they are formed. For the exercise to work, the writers have to be like water, accept that I will drop a stone in their stream of consciousness. This same idea of play, fluidity and discovery is at the crux of The Midnight Run, an event I started a few years ago, which I now tailor to festivals and organisations.

Organised as part of SPOKE, and celebrating National Poetry Day’s theme of water, The Spoke Water Walk Midnight Run will be a 6 hour meander through the borough Hackney. As we walk, we will play, create, stop to write poems and stories inspired by landmarks, streets, alleys, parks, basketball courts always ensuring exercises flow into one another. The ‘run’ involves a stretch along Regent’s canal, to end by Haggerston station.

In the motto, ‘star’ can be taken literally or as a metaphor for city dwellers, where it takes on a beauty and importance:

The Midnight Run //
Cause we can’t see stars for fumes
we turn to smashed glass, believing
shards shine like constellations do.

You can book a ticket for the ‘The Midnight Run’  Friday 4 October here,  or to find out more about ‘The Midnight Run’ visit the web-site.

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Lorna Meehan – West Midlands representative on Apples And Snakes’ tour Public Address II tells us the inspiration behind her poetryLaura Meehan

The last poet on our Public Address II meet and greet extravaganza is Lorna Meehan.

Kicking it for the West-Midlands, Lorna’s poetry ranges from comic ranting to mellow introspection. “A poet with tremendous range, at ease with the playful and the poignant, the fantastic and the familiar”

To find out what effect yoga, meditation and a bout of ‘Bridget Jones self-deprecation’  has on a poet, check out the video below…

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