The Midlands Rocks!…

Cannock

I have been to a couple of events this week, which highlight the diversity of the world of literature and spoken word in the Midlands…

Last Thursday I got across to an event, which has alluded me for months due to diary clashes and car problems, but I am so glad that I got there in the end as it was a lot of fun in a small space. Speaking Out Midlands takes place at Cafe Del Nino in Cannock, tucked away down the back alleys of High Green Court. It’s pure open mic, no headliner or support, so the evening runs to time according to the number of people that want to perform. Thursday saw a dozen or more poets and storytellers take to the mic, which was recorded on video too – not for the faint-hearted to see one’s ugly mug on screen! I have just received my 3 mins of fame from the team at Speaking Out and have attached it for anyone wanting to scare off the birds in the garden or use as some sort of comic therapy for the onset of middle-age denial…. Willis the Poet at live at Cannock….

Thanks to everyone involved for making it a welcoming space to read out. There were a lot of younger faces trying out their work for the first time and this was really refreshing to see.

As a complete opposite experience, I attended the National Writers Conference 2017 at the University of Birmingham and as Andrew McMillan pointed out in his opening key note speech, it was nice to see a national conference outside of London for a change! The conference was hosted by Writing West Midlands and sponsored by a raft of organisations interested in the development and support of writers and writing across the UK. The event consisted of a series of key note speeches and break out interactive lectures surrounding the world of writing. As well as a diverse range of topics and the chance to hear from those writers who are out there making a living from writing, it was also the perfect opportunity to build one’s network of contacts and friends in the writing world.

As a first time conference virgin, I found it both informative and entertaining and met some interesting and inspiring people throughout the day. My hand ached from writing so many notes and I came away buzzing with ideas from meeting other creative people. I would really recommend the personal development that comes from attending such events – a real investment in yourself.

And as a poet, I was thrilled to hear readings from Nyanda Foday and Matt Windle during the lunch break. Nyanda’s poem about life after Manchester was a brilliant example of the power of poetry to deal with contemporary issues through articulate and powerful expression. As the Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham for 2016/18 , Nyanda is going to represent the voice of youth very nicely indeed…

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