Student Caitlin Hankey joined City Voices just a couple of months ago and, and in her her first quartley writing competition with the group won first prize. The competition was themed "The day it rained forever" and was judged by one of our several literary connections, who found Caitlin's poem profoundly moving. City Voices gives a big welcome to Caitlin, a budding script writer who is a clearly a a muti-faceted writer. We are delighted to have her on board.
The day it rained forever
I had to give birth to you;
Knowing I couldn’t spend anytime
on earth with you.
As I hold you in my arms,
and stroke your tiny palms,
it was like you were asleep,
so quiet, and not a peep.
Whereas, I just sit there and weep.
The rain down the window,
resembled the tear down my cheek.
Oh how I wish I got to hear you speak;
I knew you couldn’t stay,
but that moment when they took you away
tore me apart.
How could this be the end,
when we didn’t even get a start?
©Caitlin Hankey 2016
There was a long wait in the rain, for City Voices members Alan Barnett (Chair), Paul Williamson (our founder) Anita Oxford and Adam Boustead. Evidently they, and the other people invited to meet HRH Prince Charles at Middleport Pottery felt it was worth it. Without the Prince's Regeneration Trust there would probably be no Middleport Pottery there today - and certainly not one which works to the traditional Victorian methods. City Voices Creative Writers work with Middleport and Beanstalk charity to promote children's literacy and give young people an understanding of their heritage. (It also gives certain people a chance to dress up in silly clothes) Alan can be seen in his bowler hat here, and Anita had her moment of glory when she dropped a curtsy to the Prince and presented him with a copy of the City Voices anthology "Landscape of Fire". Interestingly, the prince did not as is usual, hand the book over to an aide, but put it in his pocket. HRH seemed genuinely interested in the work done by Beanstalk and our little group, which actually not so little anymore!
City Voices Creative Writers Group are delighted to say that actor and playwright Deborah McAndrew has offered to be our patron. Deborah will be a non-financial supporter of City Voices, and there is no doubt that this endorsement will raise our profile and open new doors for us. There is already an event and poetry workshop planned for mid-April.
Deborah McAndrew began her career as an actor on the cobbles of Coronation Street where she played Weatherfield regular, Angie Freeman, in the early 1990s. In the years following ‘Corrie’ Deborah enjoyed a varied career in the theatre, playing everything from Shakespeare to Music Hall, and has appeared in countless dramas for BBC Radio.
In the last decade Deborah has become a highly successful playwright. Her performed and published works include new plays and adaptations of classic plays and novels. Her moving original WW1 drama An August Bank Holiday Lark won both the UK Theatre Award and Manchester Theatre Award for Best New Play 2014.
Deborah has lived in North Staffordshire for the past 15 years. She is passionate about the Potteries and draws much of her creative inspiration from the people and the culture of Stoke-on-Trent. In 2013 she founded her own company, Claybody Theatre, to produce her new play called Ugly Duck, about an unemployed Stoke bloke who becomes an artist’s Life model.
Ugly Duck was first performed in the art room at the famous Burslem School of Art, and was so successful that it was remounted in 2014 for the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-u-Lyme. In 2015 Claybody Theatre produced Deborah’s play for schools called Digging In, about the experiences of children of North Staffordshire mining families during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.
Deborah is now developing new work for Claybody Theatre to produce. Watch this space...
City Voices Creative Writers recently had another trip to Middleport Pottery (http://www.princes-regeneration.org/middleport-pottery/visit-us) and another opportunity to work with Beanstalk charity, and local schoolchildren. The rather terrifying lady with the handbag is Mrs Mould (aka Teresa Fox-Wells) who is reading from a Sherlock Holmes story, with the young students joining in a "read around". This followed on from a tour of the pottery and finished with a poetry workshop about the day's events. The weather was wintry outside, and even colder inside the bottle oven which is wonderful for atmospherics but not so good if you're a brass monkey. The kids did not seem to notice the cold which just shows how old some of us are getting.
Anita Oxford, myself and Paul Williamson ran a poetry workshop with local school children and their teachers. We strived for authentic period dress as pottery workers in Victorian times (well apart from my Doc Martens) Each of us read one of our pottery-related poems and helped the children write their own pieces based on key words they had noted that day on the pottery tour. There was good engagement and a few surprises when the working conditions and pay of the old time potters were explained to the young students who all produced some very good poetry.
Even in it's unfinished state, the beauty of the ware produced at Middleport shines through. It looked even more beautiful as finished cups and saucers, filled with hot tea and coffee. Very welcome in the cafe with hot buttered crumpets. A simple pleasure at the end of a chilly but rewarding day.
Adam's new book book is available from www.amazon.co.uk for £3.72 or £2.10 for the Kindle edition. The book is a mixture of poems and stories inspired by recollections.
What Good Read reviewers say:
“Great book for dipping in and out of when you have time – Some
of the tales left me wanting to know more - what happened next???”
“This book is like viewing modern art”
“The narratives are extremely descriptive, with excellent evocations
of color, texture and light play”
“An interesting mix of poetry and short storries. Most of them leaving you with a slightly off kilter feeling.”
Adam says - "This is a palace built on memory. Things I have experienced read or heard...
Jason was born in Wolverhampton to a single parent family and in his own words "struggled to survive" Despite leaving school early, with little education, card cut words in tins and learning words held an alluring magic drawing Jason to create. Jason started writing poetry in 2002 when presented with the opportunity of Koestler Awards in prison, and won an award. Since then, there has been poetry published in ‘NOT SHUT UP’ magazine, ‘Inside Voices’ Volumes No. 1- 6 with forwards by Carol Ann Duffy, Andrew Motion and Will Self. ‘English PEN’ also published some of Jason's prose in ‘The Book That Saved my Life.’ 2013 saw a novel receive a Platinum Award with Koestler Trust, with "Never to Fall" being featured in ‘The Arrow in The Blue Exhibition’ at Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery. In 2014 Jason received a further platinum award for a poem ‘To Score’ and this was read at the Royal Festival Hall. Jason's enthusiasm for the written word shines through - some examples of his poetry are to be found in the profile page and on our Facebook page.
To celebrate our 10th Anniversary and so many new and exciting things happening at the group, I have created a Facebook page to reach a wider audience. Search for City Voices Creative Writers
Picture courtesy of Staffordshire Sentinel News & Media.
So far our 10th Anniversary year has been very eventful – in a good way! – and the group continues to grow as acknowledged by local newspaper The Sentinel in their Friday, March 11 edition. The newspaper’s Culture Club on Page 22 featured City Voices and reported on their visit to our recent meeting. As well as past achievements such as the literary festivals held to raise money for charity, the article featured details of our work with children’s literacy (in conjunction with Beanstalk), our connection with Middleport Pottery and of course the presentation to HRH Prince Charles. The wonderful thing is that City Voices continues to flourish, change and grow. It was pure co-incidence that on the day of the Sentinel’s visit, City Voices had a special guest, local artist and friend Hilary Jefferies Brandsom who had asked if she could join our meeting “to see what goes on” in a writers group. We have just recruited two new members Jason Smith and Caitlin Hankey. Our new meeting formats of workshops alternated by open forums have gone down well with the members, and we have several guest writers, speakers, and artists lined up to inspire the group. There is much much more going on including a patron for the group whose identity will soon be revealed. Thank you to the Sentinel for show-casing our anniversary year.