The weather was glorious for Stoke on Trent's first ever literary festival, which was just as well for us guys in the Adult Literacy Centre as we ended up outside after Day One! A problem with the main marquee meant that on Friday night it was dismantled and so the distinguished performers had to take over our space. So three days, three different locations on the site. It must have been a nightmare for the organisers, but it did not deter the visitors and guests who were queuing to see such luminaries as Joanna Trollope, Melvin Bragg, Andy Mcnab and many more. Lots of books were sold and signed; we believe that Andy McNabb alone sold nearly 200 books which is great news as it means people are still reading books.
We also sold some books and poems, but more importantly we were part of the festival; we had chance to show off our new banner (thank you Panda Press of Stone for getting this printed and ready in record time) and make contacts with other groups. We were invited to join an event at the new Birmingham Library, Beanstalk were very interested in our work with schools and I had lots of good advice about printing and publishing from Rod of Paradise Press (GLBT) The volunteers (Geoff, myself, Anita, Chris, Adam, Steve, Pat, Roy and Paul) took turns over the three days and we were able to locate Geoff's table which went AWOL for short time! All volunteers were given a choice of free drinks which were very welcome. Let us hope that the festival will be repeated.
City Voices is sorry to announce the resignation of the long-serving treasurer Geoff Dulson. Geoff has worked extremely hard for the group, not just in making sure we were solvent but in other ways such as providing transport for members who otherwise might have missed out on events. (not to mention lugging books, tables, banners etc etc around to various places). Geoff announced his resignation at the meeting on 14th June but kindly agreed to be part of the Apedale Gala day as planned, and also the Stoke Literary Festival. We all wish Geoff well in whatever he plans for the future.
City Voices were again invited to participate in the Apedale Gala Day on Sunday 15th June 2014. This took place at the Apedale Heritage Centre. The aim of Apedale is to preserve and record the history and industries of the Apedale Valley and the surrounding communities. The gala ran for two days, and it seems that Saturday was glorious weather-wise! Despite the grey conditions on Sunday there were still plenty of people to enjoy the live music, hog roast, local beers and all the museum and other attractions. The City Voices "Pit Poets" were all in period costume and roamed the site providing poetry performances in keeping with the day. I was pleased to meet an old friend there (an ex-miner) and I stunned an ex work colleague who hardly recognised me in my "fancy dress". The official Apedale photographer will be sending some photographs on to the group, but in the meantime here are some of my efforts at recording the day.
No, we are not among the great names who will be appearing at the festival (www.stokeliteraryfestival.org) which takes place between 20-22 June 2014, BUT we do have a space in the Information Area (Literacy) along with other local groups and charities. This is a great opportunity for us to reach out to people who long to write but are maybe a little bit shy, or simply don't know where to start. Watch this space!
Despite my best efforts, no photographs are available of this event, which took place at the Lunch Club at Norton Cricket Club on 19th May. The poetry performed was for the most part lighthearted and/or with a local theme and went down very well. At the end of the event, City Voices singing group provided a spirited rendition of some old time songs which many of the audience really appreciated and joined in the sing-song. There is a video available.....
Hanley Library currently have a display of WWI poems and "letters" composed by City Voices members. Many of the group had relatives who fought in the Great War and have first hand mementos and stories from grandfathers, fathers and uncles who were involved in whatever way in the conflict. That is not to forget those wives, loved ones and children who were left behind. The letters are imaginings of what might have been written from the horror of the trenches and from those at home. Please visit the library and read the moving poetry and prose on every aspect of that terrible war.
This event was really a game of two halves! Members taking part considered it to be an enjoyable evening, and there was some very good feedback from the audience "A cracking night" "Interesting venue for a words and music night" The artists were excellent, and the poets and writers gave their all. It has to be said however - there were some disappointments. Audience figures were low - there might have been several reasons for this: a free acoustic night at a nearby venue, torrential rain meaning low footfall in Burslem, and the current economic climate. Despite the best efforts of our chairman, Alan Barnett, it was very hard to obtain support and advertising from the local media. It was also disappointing that there was no representative present from our chosen charity. Nevertheless we did raise over £300 for "Breath of Life". Many thanks are due to everyone for their hard work.