Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Big Thanks to Spoken/Written's Contributors

Spoken/Written and I should know by mid-January whether it has six months grace or not. This is just a quick post to say a HUGE THANKS to those subscribers who have sent in money either by cheque or via PayPal - it means that due to their efforts - check out the Roll of Honour to see who these wonderful folks are! - Spoken/Written has earned 10% of a year's funding by purely voluntary contributions alone. A big achievement, and obviously completely due to these subscribers being willing to support it.
Spoken/Written currently has 86 fans on Facebook. Which also (considering I realize that many subscribers have little internet access, either using only e-mail, or using the web sporadically or in a limited way, and that many have no net access at all, but are passed printed copies in writing circles and groups!) is a good thing and reflects something of just how much support Spoken/Written has.
In a stressful and sometimes oppressive time of waiting, it has been incredibly heartening and often moving, to receive these concrete proofs of how much Spoken/Written is useful to people, and how much it is valued by those whom it serves. Your Editor is immensely grateful. I wish you all a really Happy New Year.

Please keep your fingers firmly crossed for Spoken/Written - and why not make it your new year's resolution to pay a sub fee if you haven't already?
To see the Roll of Honour of those who have made the step to support the Bulletin, check out;

To become a Friend of the Bulletin on Facebook, check out;

Monday, 30 November 2009

Why Should Spoken/Written Charge?

Why should anyone pay for Spoken/Written? Because of all the lateral searches the Editor does on your behalf. Hours spent trawling through newsletters that most people give up on as junk mail or spam, looking for the nugget that’s an opportunity. Combination word searches in dozens of different mixtures through Google to get what can be found out there on the vast and ever-expanding web. Going through huge websites with a fine tooth comb seeking the news that’s of relevance to the South West or writers of this or that genre. Choice zines from the plethora of stuff. As many competitions that are free or via e-mail as can be found so you can enter them with maximum speed, minimum hassle. Trawling through what gets sent in and then standardizing its format. Keeping pace with an inbox where you can hardly keep up with where to put e-mails in folders so they're where you need when you want them...hoping you neither miss something vital for the Bulletin, nor other work coming in. Checking entries for dead links or dodgy small print. The work that I would have liked to do for myself if I had the time. Except that I don’t. And neither do you. Which is why the Editor has to be paid. And why if you value what makes this service different, I’m requesting you send some money. Being Editor, it’s amazing how many times I think – I must chase that up – and then with time so tight, and the last edition out of the way, rarely do. Efficiency is what some people know me for, yet when trying to go for five things from a couple of editions, early in the year, an application to one was found all filled in, stamped, unposted, too late. Another arrived five hours after the deadline to be rejected. I looked up editions from this time last year to check whether some event was still running in December – couldn’t believe the things I hadn’t gone for in it. There’s never time. And with Spoken/Written taking up a third of all working time in a year, and the last six months yielding half the amount in sub fees etc. that four days workshops work brought in…That’s not something the Editor – however much I care about this service – can afford to keep up much longer unless MORE PEOPLE PAY SUB FEES. At;

I hope this explains the position of Spoken/Written a little better. Massive thanks again to all those who have contributed, you are high in Spoken/Written and its Editor's esteem. Bless you all.

Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W.

Four days after the 50 page proposal and form and supporting material were sent off...they came back. The application was ineligible, due to having downloaded a dead link from the website. Mercifully, they had sent a new application back in with the package. So that was all of Thursday. Taking the opportunity to put in a word about something I'd forgotten (the whole Spoken/Written network is surprisingly complex, once sitting down to write a proposal for what is essentially a service that can be summed up in a few words) - an important 'partnership' aspect. And some potentially critical feedback, that I'd not put in the right folder, and then remembered once the package was posted. So while Thursday was gone (mostly filling in a 40 page A5 form rather than the 25 page A4 one), and Friday morning, by Friday lunchtime it was a better application than it had been. And I thought that was the end of it for now. But that meant being really behind with the next Edition, which I'd hoped to get off by Friday. Sunday or Monday were the very last days, and with The Vibe coming up time to make anything new to sell. And then writing the Endpaper - what to say about the position of Spoken/Written? It's so complex, and could end up in so many different avenues. I am (perhaps stupidly) still committed to trying to carry it on somehow. It could carry on as it is, for which it needs money. It could carry on as two or three newsletters covering all the arts (like the old Arts Council newsletters) for which it would need R&D time. It could become a paying only service - but then some of the levelling aspect that many so value in the Bulletin would be lost. (Although six to eight pounds for a year is still not prohibitive to the majority of people). It could remain free, but become part of another organization, - thereby losing its independence. It could ask people to pay, not enough pay, and thereby as in duty bound, carry on a service for those who have paid or contributed until summer, and then fold... It could become more commercial taking a deal more advertising but losing some space for opportunities. And who knows which of these are actually possible avenues, until they are tried? Hence the outcome being still clouded in uncertainty.
One thing is clear. I as its Editor have a love/hate relationship with the Bulletin. It both allows me time to do the other things I need to do and is closely allied to my main branch of the arts. But it also stops me doing things I need to do, and obviously as things stand, does not bring enough return...But ultimately its future is not up to me alone, nor to the Arts Council, but to its readers...
I don't know why it was so strangely hard to finish this last Edition of the season.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Check out The Vibe!

The last show of the season...? Followed by a mad dash to put together a 50 page case for six months of funding for Spoken/Written, which has just been sent off this morning...but rather than catching my breath, it's time to refresh one's knowledge of Dark Age Anglo-Saxon poetry, specifically that of the Exeter Book, for an interview tomorrow with BBC Radio Devon, then as soon as that's done, the last Edition of the year has got to be off by the end of the month, i.e. preferably the end of the week, and it's preparing new posters with the edition of the second cover and latest reviews for a stall at The Vibe Extravaganza on Monday the 30th of November - where I'll be having Spoken/Written stuff, Porlock the Warlock novels, The Books of...Trilogy of serial poem chapbooks, and craft stuff like Viking braids, willow wreaths, and anything else I and fellow Collective member / storyteller Deor can make in the meantime! Not to mention rehearsing as we're performing there too, and after that it's more cutting local willow and dogwood as yesterday we got a booking for Evergreen craft and storytelling workshop-sessions for people with mental health issues at CCANW in December! Meanwhile, just as I'm reciting 'The Ruin' (beautiful ancient poem) and glancing at history notes, while trying to work on the next Edition, an e-mail arrives from a festival interested in the 'Porlock the Warlock' show, (talk/storytelling/workshop event for the adventure novel - see the website if interested, links to the right or click the 'Porlock' cover) for next year, with a host of questions to be answered about venues etc.!
Time to write a second Porlock or time off? Not any time soon. Time to make cards will be tough enough! How busy can you be?

Do come along to The Vibe Extravaganza at the Picture House on Bartholomew St. West in Exeter - it should be good fun! The Vibe is a networking group of artists from every and any discipline which usually meets once a month at the Picture House in the Cafe Bar, with the aim of hearing news, working on projects, and putting on regular mixed arts showcases, of which this is the first. It features stalls selling affordable art, books, CDs and crafts for Christmas - including popular artist Brenda Lambert's jewellery and cards, and yours truly's books and stuff! Free gifts for anyone who buys a book (or pays more than six pounds for a sub fee!) There'll be various kinds of music, storytelling by Widsith & Deor Storytelling Theatre, performance poetry, acting - allsorts! It starts at 7pm, and goes on till 11pm. The Picture House Cafe Bar serves a great range of cocktails, beers, wines, juices, coffees, teas, hot chocolate, cakes, sometimes pies...all in a chilled venue with a great ambience, sofas, and regularly changing art exhibition on the walls. (All this and an arts cinema just underneath!) And it's free entry!
(And hey, it all stops me having time to worry about the proposal and form!)

Check out; The Vibe at;
Picture House at;
Brenda Lambert's Art at;

Friday, 6 November 2009

Halloween Play Day

The Halloween show is over, as is the Play Day at Beaminster, another edition, and a whirl of other things making up one of the most hectic weeks of the year. The weather was good at the Play Day, and after we put up the Pavilion, people started arriving. Collection of all the willow and materials and leaves from the vans had to be done at once, and the interior set up. I hung up the leaf mobiles I'd painstakingly made (having got the idea from something Sonia of the Collective made ages ago) and started making a headdress. Over the other side, my fellow storyteller and maker of many craft objects showed people how to weave themselves a crown and decorate it with Autumn harvest. In no time the place was filled with boys looking like woodland creatures, girls like faery folk, and even some adults looking like a picture of carnival! Others wanted to make pumpkin wigs, many wanted to combine the two, giving themselves crowns with trains or veils. A few opted to make the leaf mobiles, as they were rather more complex. One small child did really well, and made one mostly by themselves, tying the string onto the leaf stalks rather than piercing the leaves, but I judged it was much better for them to do more and do it their own way than have someone else do it for them. Another older child merely needed to be shown how to do it, and then did everything themselves, even getting the leaves balanced and at different heights, only needing a little help with the hanging string. Couldn't have been done quicker by an adult. Another participant was a lad with either learning or socialization difficulties attended by a carer. After working out together that he wished to make a mobile, I tied the string around the top but then encouraged him to choose the leaves himself. He chose the first by accepting or rejecting leaves shown to him, but then was choosing them properly, clapping with the fun of it. I asked him what length each should be, and then the attaching of the leaves - the really fiddly bit - I asked him if he'd like to do? and showed him how and then he did all the rest himself. It all took some time, but he made a fine-looking mobile, all perfectly balanced, and was so proud of it - as I was proud too, if one can be proud of an action or an event or even someone one doesn't know. It was an amazing moment, seeing him walk away with the completed artifact, and one I don't think I'm likely to forget. Someone said they saw him later looking at leaves, considering, as if he would make others in the days to come. It was a rewarding day, and (while I missed getting pictures of all those wonderful crowns because I was too busy showing people how to make things, or being surrounded by fabric) it was strangely special. The wings and swords in the second half went down a storm as always, and Deor did some fantastic storytelling - despite having a cough! with bodymasks, to much appreciation. Another good moment toward the end of the day was seeing one of the grown ups swanning out of the pavilion wearing a crown, trailing a train, with wings, and an armful of withies tied as a Christmas decoration...
The organizers were delighted and told us so. Apparently their screensaver is the Collective's Pavilion - with one of the organizers standing outside it wearing wings, arms outstretched! and she wanted a bundle of wings for a forthcoming party, so Wayne obliged. People have them over their beds as well! (It has to be said, I've seen some really beautifully decorated ones, the imagination can really run riot during a workshop! when I thought about it.) I hadn't had time to set up a book stall, and had also wondered whether many of the participants might be of too early a reading age, but then the organizers all bought copies once the book and other workshops we offer came up in conversation at the end of the day! And then we took down the pavilion, cleared up the debris, took pictures of the remaining leaves, like paint on the green grass canvas, and then met up at a pub in Bridport with another Collective member, having a laugh and debriefing before coming back to HQ, where Wayne requested the pavilion be stored over the winter. Much shifting of stuff later, it was done.
This job is full of surprises and new skills. Despite having to be in a 'craft head' instead of a 'storytelling head' (new material/lots of props etc.) three days before the show! which I found hard (not having been a craftsperson long! and having to concentrate, with my head full of newsletter admin and rehearsals) it was really worthwhile. And still so strange to be one of those who make things that people (adults) came in saying - 'that's lovely!' and 'oh that looks too difficult for me'. I longed to coax them into making one themselves, but many were mainly there to oversee their children making something, and so wouldn't have a go. Something I made or 'designed' drawing praise? Being coveted even? Once being an 'oh how complex! I couldn't make that' person, it's so good to be on 'the other side' - one of those who make.
After a misty start (that part of Dorset is always misty!) the day turned fine by the end, and the sun set the leaves on the trees on fire, and I too saw those leaves in a different light, as I think all those who came to the workshops did, by the end of the day...
Huge thanks again to Carol, Anne and Sarah of Playplus for having us yet again, and to all the participants who made such great stuff!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Publishing a Second Edition

Well, the second edition of the Porlock novel has been sent off to the printers at last and it's too late to change any errors now... Decisions, decisions. The first cover was rather too dark and emphasized the sci fi aspect, so the second by contrast is probably too pale, but at least concentrates on the historical side - which is the main thing. But I'll almost certainly quarrel with it once the boxes of books arrive.
   It's a queer business publishing a book. One always imagines in the abstract that of course you'll have time to proof read it the requisite three times, not just the once over an intense and irritable fortnight. You think that of course you'll print out the cover to see how it looks BEFORE sending it off to the printers. You believe in good faith that the second edition will have no typos. Forget it. Unless you only have one job (rare in the arts at the moment, seemingly!) and have the time management skills recommended by 'life coaches', there'll be one proof read. If you haven't the experience yourself of doing that and done it for other people, then it's best to try and cajole/coax/pay someone else to do it. Even if you are good at it, and don't farm it out, it's extremely unlikely that one proof will pick up everything, and even if the typos aren't there, there'll be spacing issues leftover from transferring the document from Word to PDF, and changing the size from A4 or 5 to a standard book size like 132 x 197. Of course it would be great to actually have time to go through the first edition and make all the changes you'd like before the second one...well yes it would, if you hadn't been so busy selling the first one and doing all your other jobs from writing workshop host or assistant willow workshop host to dealing with festivals and... Printing the cover out to see what it looked like would have been great, and of course you will next time...except that the printer doesn't do 132 x 197, or at least not without throwing a tantrum which you really can't face at this stage. Not with a newsletter to edit and... You get the picture? In reality the second cover may well be as 'too something-or-other' as the first, and by the third print run, you may actually have had time to do another proof...hopefully. Because being your own proof reader, editor, page layout designer, typesetter, promoter, marketer, copywriter, rep, bookseller, and having at least two other jobs is always going to get in the way. As for a book that you know perfectly well has typos - surely it's too much for a perfectionist to bear? Not if you're paying for the corrections and are quoted a ludicrous price, and then only quoted five pence a page when it's far too late... - no one's yet minded if they've noticed, and anyway it's imperative to have stock to sell at an imminent event - getting it done vs. perfection? The choice isn't hard at that point. Especially not when one thinks of all the things that never got done because they couldn't be or would take too much time to be, perfect. It's a recipe to cripple an art, a job, or even a life. Of course you should always do everything the best it can be, but if no one's going to notice except yourself, and it's between getting something done or not doing it...No contest.
   It's obvious why folks publish their own work and set up their own companies in an overcrowded market filled with ghost written 'celeb biographies'. But what's also plain are that the roles which publishers and agents do execute take time and effort. And if you'd 'rather spend the time writing', then firstly, don't expect to get published this side of doomsday unless you send out two MS.s a day, and secondly - you never know, the many other tasks involved might end up teaching you a whole load of new skills, and there might even be some fun in amongst the hard work. What's more, you'll be doing something you believe in. Does that have a price?  

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Storyclub Upstairs at the Globe

October's Storyclub upstairs at the Globe is coming up, as well as a meeting of The Vibe - all arts network forum informal group, National Poetry Day and a couple of things so important to get done that they make you want to write a blog instead...but it's September's Storyclub I'm still remembering... As well as the very wonderful Tyburn Jig Theatre, of Dave Oliver and Jon Freeman who run - brilliantly - the Storyclub (and us regulars Widsith and Deor) there was the matchless Clive PiG the Storyfella. What a treat. Well first of all we all met up downstairs and caught up on what sort of summer season each of us had had, swapping tales of rain and shine, festivals, charming and crazy audiences... (I must admit to feeling like 'one of the big boys' when at a gathering of Dave, Jon, Clive, and also when Michael Dacre of the splendid Raventales turns up! - incidentally all hosts or former hosts of storyclubs.) And then the five of us went upstairs to tell our other tales. Last to arrive amongst the storytelling fraternity was David Heathfield, who does a lot of work in colleges and educational settings as well as at other events. The audience began arriving and carried on until it was a respectable size and the festivities began. Dave and Jon are always excellent, but often perform separately. This time however, they did turns together, and some chemistry was in the offing, which I was delighted to see. Dave is entrancing as a solo performer, but when he was (and from time to time still is) in the Guild of Fabulists with Clive, they have an incredible team chemistry which is always a pleasure to watch and hear, and worth paying good money to see, with each taking up the other's jokes, and the one doing the narration and the other the 'special effects', i.e. creaky doors, floors, weird noises and unexpected eerie voices! Dave and Jon had a different chemistry, and it was great to hear them working with the same story. There's a lovely feeling attendant on a storyteller's changeover, that isn't there in straight theatre, because the lines are learnt in the latter. In storytelling on the other hand, most of the time the cues are flexible, polished improvisation, even spontaneous, and always changing, so there's a trust involved that you don't get in other kinds of performance. Not like watching a trapeze catch exactly, but...! Jon brings more and more offbeat quirk to his tales, and you can tell Dave has worked in television. When Clive took the floor, it was with one about creepy 'Uncle Wolf' and a greedy kid who ate the pancakes intended for the said Uncle...He moved about the space and did the characters so completely 'in character', as well as the special effects of Uncle Wolf trying to get into the house, that at times it was like watching a one person film. He cranked up the suspense till we were on the edge of our seats, until finally and unexpectedly - the greedy boy got eaten by his hard done by if sinister Uncle! David Heathfield delivered his tales professionally with his customary mixture of fireside engagingness and quietly emphatic meaning, with flair and polish. We ourselves did two of our current favourites, including 'Lady Mary', a variation on Bluebeard and not a story I would have warmed to, except I liked our take on it (which evolved out of one choosing it and the other making suggestions until it became a duologue). Mixing grim horror with laugh out loud comedy. It was brilliant to shoot it past such a professional audience, as you know if they laugh, you've got the thing right! And we'll be doing that tale in our coming Autumn Festival Show 'Goblins and Ghouls, Fairies and Fools' (check out the Collective's website if interested - W&D link then Diary or New Show). Needless to say, in our version, Lady Mary gets the best of it... We all did two tales, and after the stories were finished, the rewarding audience stayed on - until we all told jokes and short tales until finally being ousted at closing time...What a great evening. One of the best nights out - and that's born out by friends I've brought along - in the city, and still only £3 for listeners, and free for tellers. Huge thanks to Clive for running the Big Potato as was, Michael of Raventales for running the Storyclub at the Globe, and Jon and Dave for taking it over a while back - and all of them for being such inspirational storytellers, and being responsible for so many cracking nights out!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Sunrise OffGrid and Beautiful Days

I was beginning to think it couldn't possibly all come off...having been booked without much notice by one festival, and with very little notice by another - how would it all work out? In the end, twelve of us all told went - six each to the Sunrise OffGrid and Beautiful Days Festivals. Seven members of the Collective, a FreePlay allied artist, two family members and two who were getting their van converted by Wayne live during the OffGrid! Mel and Wayne went down on the Tuesday, Andi, Mandy, Liz and us storytellers met at the station before we waved off the other three, plus kids, off to the Beautiful Days to meet up with Lewis (of the legendary Bicton art course), as it happens, the one bestowed my ticket when I decided that being booked for six hours storytelling and leaving only one member of the company to perform it all on their own, wasn't on! And then off we went to the OffGrid, to meet with the others, including Andrew and Anya, the couple having their van transformed. 
   All of Thursday and Friday, I was worrying about how those who had only just met would get along with one another, at the other festival. It's all very well to be recommended artists by those whom one holds in high regard, and all very well to have met and enlisted new people in different regions, but to pack off three sets of different artists to a festival who've not met! Two from N.Devon had only my say so, that the Penzance member was gifted and good company, she likewise only had our assurances that the family were charming and excellent, and I had to have faith that the person who had my ticket - recommended by Andi - would get on with everyone else... Would the Collective survive packing off a group of strangers who hadn't all lived together at some point (as the original eight members had done at different times and combinations) to a festival for four days? 
   We ourselves girded our loins for the six hours of storytelling (having been programmed as entertainers, not as full on theatre, so doubting they realized what a punishing schedule it would have been for only one performer!), and Wayne had already begun stripping out the removal van by the time we arrived, and the Pavilion was already resplendent, as was a Vantastic (Wayne's company name) awning and signage, with the flyers we'd done on display. And it went brilliantly - people were in and out of the van and show van from dawn till dusk, admiring, asking questions, seeking advice, taking flyers, from time to time a concrete booking for a van conversion, customization or specialist welding commission... On Saturday Mel did a den building workshop all day, and in no time part of a field was covered in what looked like a mini tipi enclosure, with kids and adults making rag bunting to hang between them, and even using it as a chill out zone once the workshop was over. Our own marquee was pretty packed from time to time, and we shouted against festival noise and loud music. (A mic is a rare commodity at smaller festivals!) By the end of day two we were hoarse enough to gratefully accept some honey from Mel for the throat.  
   On Saturday I texted Liz to check how things were going at their end...- Yes! a reply came swiftly; they were workshopping to packed marquees and having great fun, with a good slot giving them all decent time off! Was I relieved?? That evening I could relax at last, going to see the fire dancers - eight in one performance space! and all different. And then did the usual round of venues and attractions, hypnotized by trancey dance in the dance dome. Classic moments included once the van was finished, with LED kitchen lighting, cupboards, the works, including space for Andrew's - a musician as well as having a first in Renewal Energy - harmonium, a marvellous bellows-powered piano like keyboard with a sound like a small organ! He played it at the end of Sunday, and it sounded simply magical...
   On Monday we returned to HQ, followed later in the day by Mel and Wayne, then Andi, Mandy, and Liz. And what a gathering, we all greeted, swapped stories of workshops and performances delivered and feedback gained, congratulated each other for getting everything done so well, and generally caught up on each one's perspective of both festivals, everyone talking to at least two people at once. There was a lovely atmosphere, and after all the seemingly endless hard work of ringing festivals, and filling in form after form, negotiating everything from money to meals, and issuing everyone with flyers for the Collective, and all the rest, it made it all seem worth the effort and hassle, and I couldn't help being moved. Especially when everyone gave everyone a hug on parting, even those that had only known one another for four days. One's faith in feeling that even quite different artists, once one knew they were gifted, and felt them to be really pleasant people, would hopefully be able to work together! was justified on this occasion. No common pleasure. 
   The Beautiful Dayers as we had come to call them, also came bearing recycled gifts - swathes of gold and silver big thick card from the end of the festival, and no less than fifteen metres of crimson fabric that I could think of three uses for at once! A fine prize. And Andi said they had been been called 'the best thing for kids there' - to which I replied 'That's what I like to hear!' - their leather and poi and textile workshops and decorated spaces had flown the Collective flag proud!
  Big thanks to Lewis to stepping into the breach, Rosie of the kid's field, Helen for having patience with the sudden change of line up, and of course to the wonderful other members of the Collective, Wayne and Mel for doing a great job, Andi for organizing his part so well, Mandy for being a peach, Liz for being so game, and the support crews! Sam and Alex, Andrew and Anya. Well done everyone!

   It's so nice with all the uncertainty about Spoken/Written and delays in the forthcoming books by Cartwheels Collective Publishing and other stresses, to have ended the summer season's gigs on such a high. 

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Play Day Mayhem

   What a week - having got back from London on Sunday night, two Collective Cornish members turned up for dinner the next day, unexpectedly (first inkling was a call - 'Are you there?' 'Er...' 'Because I'm here' 'You mean...?') we talked of festival stuff, planned for the Play Day booking, caught up with each other. The next day more members (from N.Devon) turned up for dinner (planned this time) to talk festival workshops and be shown what the leather workshops involved. Eight guests all told plus a visitor - it's been a while since HQ was so full! It was good to sit and all be making things sitting on the floor of the Studio - reminded me of earlier days in the Collective when Sonia (now in NZ) used to sit us down and show us new skills. But it was hectic, having so much to communicate, arrange, sort out, a form to fill (of course), and skills to share, and socializing, all in a short space of time. Intensive is the best word for it all. 

   Then up early the next day for one of my not exactly favourite gigs of the year - a packed family fun day for National Play Day. I had nightmare memories of crowds of children all asking to be tied knots for, refusing point blank even to attempt to plait the simplest of plaits, the Pavilion heaving with people, trying to entertain the queue, and all the while trying to convince workshoppers that knots and plaits were some of mankind's oldest and most basic easy as they were important. 
   This time, as before, it threatened rain, and the road 'liable to fog' as it says on the sign was beautiful - full of shifting cloud and low mist as we travelled through the veils and the smoky drifting dreamscape of half-seen hills. We got there, put up the Pavilion, got out the willow and fabric, and before you could finish setting up, people started arriving. Like last time, it got warmer and less damp until the sun came out and it was hot, humid and then blue sky. And like last time, the workshops were extremely popular, the Pavilion varying between busy, crowded and heaving with people. There was a large heap of cut fabric, but I'd also brought some from the Collective storeroom as Wayne had said that more would be good. And I was glad I had! As pale pink/white netting was all the rage, and I seemed to spend hours just cutting the stuff into strips, and as fast as it was cut, it disappeared, as countless children only wanted pink/white netting...I cut and cut, sometimes made a small pile of strips, but always they came, and more asked for it, at times faster than I could cut them almost, and still the hordes streamed in...I glanced up from time to time, and saw fellow workshop hosts showing kids how to make wings or swords, bows, arrows, magic wands, making hoops, kids deciding they wanted to make something else, one a door! from willow... Some lovely wings were made as ever, a couple of striking swords and a huge bow... One child asked me - as the fabric I was cutting flowed on for metres, snaking across the ground, when I would finish? i.e., how long would it take to cut it all up? I replied that I was only cutting up what people needed, and had no intention of turning it all into ribbons in an afternoon! but it made me think of impossible tasks from old tales, like the king who made some hapless subject gather all the down feathers from a punctured feather pillow before they could leave the tower...! Time seemed to slow down, and every time we glanced at our watches, it was an hour earlier than we had thought, and the mess grew and grew, as of hosts that had invited a whole town to dinner, and the guests had started with throwing the food around, and then progressed to walking off with the which I mean that bits of fabric and broken withy carpeted the grass, and adults came and helped themselves to three pre-made sets of wings in one go, to decorate them at home for their children (which wasn't quite the idea!). 
   I suggested people could make headdresses, crowns, and mobiles too, and made hoops and decorated one as a mobile-cum-headdress and hung it up, to illustrate what else one could do with the materials, and when children, boys and girls alike saw that, a number chose to make those, which made me glad. Having had no or little confidence with visual art or craft as a child or for a long time (indeed, up until what still feels like comparatively  recently) it's a real thrill when someone wants to own or make something like a thing I have made up myself. Some of the headdresses looked lovely, as workshoppers really got the hang of it, and one or two of the mobiles worked rather well, a splendid crown. Towards the end, the Police popped in (who had been stationed at the Play Day like the First Aid tent) and one requested and wore some fairy wings over her uniform! The organizer also appeared at the end, wearing her wings from last year! in shocking pink and dark purple.

   As we finished, the place looked like the scene of a shipwreck, and the three of us were left to clear up, two of us at least, yawning our heads off. The day went really well - we heard (as we often seem to) that our workshops were 'the best thing there'. I couldn't still help feeling though, that when I started off as a poet, this kind of work was about what I'd had in mind, as much as some literary poet from the 1930's would have had in mind as what they wanted to do...viz not at all. But we all went for a drink on the way back at a pub by the beach, and it was dazzlingly blue and clear and cheering. Once back at base, someone asked how it had gone, and I replied - 'Well, if we're all not flash for cash in early August and aren't double booked next year, I guess we'll all be going again.' To which she replied 'That's the spirit!' which made me laugh. (And all the while knowing I had an important meeting the next morning, and another form to be filled by the morning after that!)

   Yes. And however much it wasn't what I ever had in mind, it did go well. We taught folks new skills, all the workshoppers including the carers/parents/playleaders had a great time, the organizers were so delighted they booked us there and then for next year... And there were some laughs along the way - like Wayne dancing to the music while showing folks how to weave a piece of willow, or my fellow storyteller telling a tale while making some wings, so not doing all of the movements, and telling sitting down! something he never usually does. The enchanted parents, and the pride of those who had made good designs and those who had not realized they could make things...not being able to resist taking photographs when everyone had gone, of the mobile in the wind, as the effect that that kind of fabric makes on film is just remarkable...
   As Hope Clark says - don't just look forward to your longterm ambitions, enjoy the getting there, enjoy the journey! to which I can add - yes, and enjoy the detours along the way too, and all the parallel pathways...

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Grass is Always Greener

You learn something new every day. A platitude yes, but one of the best writer's blogs on the web is Hope Clark's, and she's full of words of wisdom that sound familiar and common sense...but you read them thinking - but how often have I acted on that principle which it is so obvious that I should act upon? But back to the point. I met up, last weekend, being in London for a brief break (!) with a good friend and his partner, a multimedia artist, producer, curator, live artist and video maker. We got talking about art/work related stuff...and only stopped when the clock chimed eleven meaning they had to catch the train home! Apart from being a really interesting artist who's into many live art and related things and artists that we have in common, from the wonderful Merce Cunningham who sadly died this last week, to various theatre companies and allsorts of experimental stuff, she also is 'living a life of art'. Earlier in the year, she and he turned their flat upside down and inside out, shifting all their own stuff out, papering chairs white, you name it, until the entire space was an installation and no longer a living space. Then it was videoed, and put on her website, and people came to view the space as one would an open studio event. She showed me the video and it looked great - one could see what a lot of work it must have been. She also finished a residency recently in Manchester, works for the Live Art Development Agency, is on a mentoring scheme which means she gets to meet folks working for the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet... I sighed, telling her of my one chance this year to do something really experimental at Richard White's Edge of Chaos (written about on the Performance Ephemera blog), and admitted it was easier to concentrate on things that brought money in like the newsletter, storytelling, and admin for the Collective... To my surprise, she agreed with me, saying she knew just what I meant. It turned out that she didn't especially want to be a producer or curator, organizing exhibits, making snowstorms, or working in set design for a theatre company - in fact, she'd made a decision to try and make a break from it, for the very simple reason that she, as an artist, had not enough time to create her own art while doing that kind of work. And of course that meant sporadic opportunities, eking out previous earnings while waiting and applying for the next thing, and all the insecurity that goes with it. So there was I thinking it must be marvellous to do all this stuff, - set design! curating! wow. But there was she wanting to do more multimedia performance installation and video work...which I understood completely. When I thought about it, it gave me an insight into why people sometimes say - an Editor! wow. Or administrating for an arts Collective! hey. To me, they are things which must be done because writing and performing just don't provide enough consistent incomings.
  But of course, one must be grateful to do something that is at least related to what one most cares about. For instance, working as a willow workshop assistant for National Play Day may not be creating live art theatre, but hey, it pays the bills and I get to work with the other members of the Collective, a really great bunch. As for the Play Day itself...that'll have to be the next blog.............

Festivals and Form Fillings

Festivals are tricky beasts. Earlier on this year I sent off dozens of proposals to, and filled in forms for, various festivals, for the Collective - offering everything from storytelling and leather workshops to willow sculpture, lantern making, fire juggling, and the rest. Some lost it in the pile of applications, some booked acts they'd had for get the picture... and some...waited right until the wire until getting in touch. Meaning that despite four weeks of planning and form filling in January and February, the Collective is double booked over mid August! Wayne, Mel, etc. to the Sunrise Off Grid, - Andi, Mandy, Liz etc. to the Beautiful Days...and me still trying to decide which to be at! We have been at different events over the same weekends many times naturally, but this was a first, as both festivals wanted more than two members, i.e. a group of us over exactly the same four days. And of course after the initial phonecalls, festival organizers are usually so overworked, they want the details of who does what all over again - mercifully a shorter e-mail this time! Although more frantic phonecalls to the newer members as what I don't have is an on tap encyclopedic knowledge of everything they do yet! (As everyone does more than one thing, often quite a few more). And then MORE forms to fill in with everyone's name, registration numbers, meal allocation if appropriate, tent size...
   With two members in NZ and two busy/away, the current twelve members of the Collective are back up to eight active ones - and it's just as well! The fourth ticket for the latest festival: We need to know what all the others are doing to see which of them can make it. A fire dancer, performance poet, artist etc. as they'd like Devon artists by preference? but she's working over those dates... Another of those who was on the Bicton art course who's Devon-based? but he's already got a ticket...and the festival wants the form by Wednesday... All I can say is, thank God three artists joined up and two others came on the scene within the last few months! Four to cover one event, and three of us to cover another... The Collective really has kept on growing despite the absence of two of it's original core members and inspirations. They are of course still valued members, but obviously we're not able to do events together because of a small matter of some thousands of miles! Not that I was worried about the Collective just winding down exactly, but such groups often do have a short shelf life - and we've had our share of things to resolve! where a mixture of money, friendship, couple dynamics, professionalism, work, creativity, who's idea was x?, organization, travel, meals, and all the things too nefarious and various to mention, can and do collide together to make things difficult. 
   That the number of reliable and pleasant artists we find we can work well with and who want to become part of 'it' in some way, is expanding, makes all those bloody forms feel not such a complete grind of time and effort, and all the hassle - including phonecalls every five minutes just as you're on your way to grab six days off! and e-mailing and ringing round arranging stuff when you're actually technically on holiday and all you really want to do is muck around on a piano and do other relaxing stuff...feel not quite so relentless. 

Friday, 24 July 2009

Publishing a Book – Part 2

   Nobody can truly learn from another’s experience in the way that people mean when they say ‘I’ve suffered so you don’t have to’. But by hearing what the person in question has to say, they can, I guess, at least make some kind of judgement. People have asked my advice, or what I think from time to time about writing and publishing a book (or books) as someone that's done so. So here’s a summary. Writing the book is easy. Of course you need to have reasonably mastered a good to excellent standard of spelling, grammar, character, plot, technical or experimental competence. To have an idea, a passion to write, or rather to write actively. And of course to have finished the damn thing. But that part – if you are a writer, i.e. you write because you must – is the simple part. The proof reading, editing, back cover blurb writing, page layout, page numbering, prelims and all the rest is the really dull grinding bit. The printing is the really stressful bit…And the selling is the actual hard work.

   So what does the real hard work that now begins, involve? You ring shops, venues, places that may or should be interested, T.I.s for local interest links, museums if it’s a historical novel; only some are interested, some (overloaded with such enquiries) aren’t even polite! Some will take it, but on terms where you make no profit…You spend the next months delivering books, designing posters, putting them up, handing out flyers, trying to remember to take books with you wherever you go. When the weather’s not too cold or wet and when you’ve time from your other commitments, you hold stalls, make free gifts and give them away, make more signs, outdoor ones this time, put the price up when you realize how little you’re making for the sheer work you’re putting in… You write or e-mail and tell anyone acknowledged in the credits perhaps, for instance thanking them for inspiration – don’t expect a reply! It’s polite to tell them you’ve mentioned them, but well known authors/broadcasters or whoever are notoriously busy, and it could fall by the inbox. A good idea is tell the local rag and write some interesting copy for them – they may well take it. Many say it’s good to have a working relationship with whoever deals with local events news on the said paper regarding any signings and stuff. In my experience though, most of the publicity you’ll have to do yourself, but a mention in the paper does help.

   Next is organizing events at which to promote and sell the book – whether signings and readings at bookshops (if you’ve opted for an ISBN) and have persuaded some bookshops to take it, or events which are basically shows, at which you sell the book at the same stall you have for the programmes and any other merchandise. One writer I know had some fantastic t-shirts on sale for a winter tour of one of his books! So for the event/s in question, there are the tickets – a box office or printing them yourself? Flyers, more posters, cards, rehearsals, checking technical stuff like sound and any lighting…spamming people you know, know of and hardly know, a notebook so people can join your ‘mailing list’ if they wish…and a load of other tasks that properly belong to a performer’s blog. Even after all this – once you’ve put some in shops which take all the profit – and taking into account everything from a folding table to new printer ink at a £160 a shot for a decent laser printer cartridge – you’ll have to sell all of the first print run to break even. The question you then must ask yourself is – can you face a second? Time to sit down and work out the maths of costs; if you broke even, made a loss, or profit… Then looking at the issue of a bigger print run vs. more travel to more events to sell it, and…..

   Remember – the first print run may have been a success, but some at least were sold to people you know…the second print run will be mostly sold to strangers. Yep, that’s right – it’s going to be even harder…the one thing that will make it easier is all the stuff you learned during the first print run.

   I guess that may answer the question - how come the average sales of a self published book are 100-150… And the next question must be not - how come more people don’t publish their own books, nor how come so many do, but how many go on to the second print run…..?

Publishing a Book – Part 1

Rather than – why do more people not publish their own books, especially if they’re not happy for whatever reason with the state of mainstream publishing? surely the question should rather be – how come anyone (who isn’t rolling in cash) publishes a book themselves?

   Publishing a book in one way has never been simpler – there are print on demand and small print run printers and publishers everywhere, all offering different deals and services, from basic binding to ISBNs to listings on Amazon to claims to market them for you – the works. In another way of course, it’s just as hard as it’s always been. The simplest deal of all is just getting someone to print and bind it. That leaves you with editing, proof reading (sensationally dull for a 200 page book), page layout (try it on pirated software! For the full ‘I’ll get a hammer to that machine yet…’ effect), book cover design (if you’ve mastered a graphics programme or are lucky enough to know someone who has) with all the ‘no, left, no I’d like a terracotta wash, can I change this bit?’ ‘NO!’…prelims, page numbers (they’re always good for a laugh!). Next come the PDFs, putting it all, back cover, spine, the works, into two or three Print Ready Files. If the format still looks the same, congratulations! And remember, the cover must be sized to a standard book size like 197 x 132…not forgetting a 3mm ‘bleed’ all the way round for binding – so don’t bother with a border unless you’re feeling sharp as a needle. Then off the PDFs go – after shouting matches, breaking glasses, and if you’re really in mayhem central by then, somebody you know chooses one of the most stressful days of the year to hassle you about something…thereby ensuring you have a seriously memorable day, the first time you send off a book for proper grown up binding…

   Then a bit later on, the proof copy arrives and you see for the first time (all printers being different) that the cover is too dark/blurred/unrelated to the contents of the book…and of course, there’s no time to change it, AND you’d be charged for it, so because you’re doing this with minimum time and a fixed budget, you don’t. But it does show you at least that all your page numbers are all on the right – yes, even the pages on the left…so you sort that out, after more cursing and tearing up paper, and then send it off back again… A couple of weeks later a box of books arrives.

   For extra added enjoyment, sorry nightmare, get 10 ISBNs – the majority of which you don’t need right now, give away some free copies to copyright libraries and fill in forms for Nielsen BookData… But for smaller print runs, and especially ones which will mainly be sold at events, opinion is divided about whether an ISBN is worth the bother or not. I’ve heard some writers say they wouldn’t be without them. Some say it helped promotion, if not actual selling of copies. But others I’ve spoken to have said it was a waste of money and did no good at all. Take your pick. Think about what it is, who and where it’ll be sold to and at.

   And THAT’S just the beginning. Because it’s at that point that the real work begins – that of selling it. Now you’ve got the box of books, you’ve got to get rid of the contents…..

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A Day in the Office of...Part 2

  Taking a day this week - the Financial Times Magazine e-mails wanting to get in touch with Wayne about Van-tastic and his van conversions, people who've had them and live in their vans. The Sunrise e-mail wanting Wayne to give a presentation for their traveller festival goers about van customization, do something like workshops; and they've seen Jo's and Mel's pages and want eco-building. Immediately we try to get in touch - not long after (and it can take a while - he lives in a van without reliable mobile or internet signal) we make contact. He's up for doing both, and then we discuss the fee split for Dorchester Play Day who've asked us again this year. Meanwhile Mel says she's up for being interviewed as well (the landscape designer who lives in a van!) and is up for doing the eco-structure/den building part of the Off the Grid event by the Sunrise, as she's done loads of eco-builds as part of the sculpture park, and Jo is in NZ. The Sunrise also book us to storytell. While talking to the Sunrise; 'we want a van conversion' 'what - actually a van converting during the festival? do you have one, would it be a festival goer's? or would he have to bring one? or -?' 'oh we hadn't thought of that' - I suggest a van surgery, where people come in with questions about how it's done, problems they've encountered, like 'I've built a bookcase, but how to I stop the books falling out?' (answer - strap a bungee across on two hooks), and stuff. Then he asks about a presentation and showcase - I suggest one or two vans to show people round, Wayne's own amazing vehicle (the cooker is a lovely old bureau in dark wood), and another...he likes the ideas and books it.  

  Next day the morning, and early afternoon and evening are all spent filling in a form for the Autumn Festival (for a storytelling show), and a query arrives from the Woodland Trust in Hertford wanting a willow artist. Thinking that I too should have gone to Bicton College while the now-legendary degree in Environmental Arts and Crafts was running, we again e-mail Mel, who later e-mails that yes, she'd like to do the event in question. It's great to be appreciated, and good to see the website working for the artists it supports. 
   No two days are the same (though some are crushingly boring - copy and pasting days for instance, filling in too many hit and miss forms for money or other stuff you may well not get, proofing copy, updating the hyperlinks, uploading a far-too-big-website on software not made to deal with it and.....- yes REALLY boring). 
   Why do we do it? The insecurity, the...reminds me of that wonderful quote from Dario Fo's 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' about touring theatre - 'the nylon sheets' 'the greasy breakfasts'...One reason might be that some people are just too pig headed to not be self-employed... Another might be what Jarvis Cocker once said - 'You're talking very unimaginative people here...just couldn't think of anything else to do...' I think I'll go with that one.      

A Day in the Office of...Part 1

When people ask what's a typical day for the Collective, I can't answer. Things I do or have done at different times include; being an Editor, of course, researcher (of history, folktales, Spoken/Written stuff and more), administrator - dealing with e-mails and enquiries for the whole Collective, passing on details, contacting potential leads, writing up descriptions for brochures or schools, artists dictating details of their workshops or diary dates over the phone, writing lists of keystage requirements for education workshops and events, sometimes negotiating fees (I hate that!), filling in forms, designing posters, flyers, programmes, cards, leaflets, making signs. For the leaflets and posters I haven't designed, proof reading them, writing copy for the website or proofing the pages I haven't written copy for (when there's time!), designing webpages, doing photography for the website (my pride and joy are probably Sonia's Market Stall tiaras and Wayne's Pavilion Hire pages), assistant leather workshop host, willow workshop helper, typing invoices, rehearsing for shows, keeping the site map updated for the 500+ page website (and failing dismally of late), stall-keeping stalls for Spoken/Written and 'Porlock', making free gifts, helping design the book and chapbook covers, if only by attending to the lining or spacing, writing blurbs, prelims, bios, co-wrestling with the nightmare of PDFs for the printer, replying to subscriber enquiries and signing up new subscribers, copying out incorrectly formatted entries for Spoken/Written (!), thanking donors, requesting donations, chasing up PayPal, clearing up the mess of plaster, tape, leather bits, wire, holly (ouch!), ivy, willow, pastels, paper, card, etc., of the Studio where much is made including bodymasks and smaller masks for storytelling, gauntlets, etc., so that the stock keeping of books, chapbooks and pamphlets can be done...packing props safely, unpacking them again, repairs to damaged ones from time to time where possible, folding covers for stapling, editing page layouts, dealing with shops regarding books, proofreading the Rants of the Week on the website, arranging photoshoots (like when Devon Life ran a piece on Mel's willow sculpture and fencing) or video stuff (like doing a basic video for Ben's juggling) or images for festival brochures, helping set up the Pavilion now and again, and clearing up after workshops, collecting materials for workshops like gels from the Northcott Theatre, setting up performance spaces and of course performing/storytelling.....and as so many say, writing comes last - squeezing in poems at odd moments or a strict hour set aside to write prose to continue a novel...

   Well this is an answer to what's a typical role or day, and an answer to - you've not done x? sent 100 submissions in a year? been to z event? Why not? The above list is why not...  

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Art of Bookselling

   What aspect to concentrate on? In a journal or diary everything goes in pell mell...but in a blog - just to take the Tapeley Park weekend that featured in the last entry for an example - which aspect to highlight? The Collective and interplay of artists and works? The event itself and all that was going on? The party in the evening at that notorious venue the permaculture garden...?! Or the writing side - the book stall and writer-visiting-site-featured-in-book? Well the first would be a Collective blog, the second was the last blog entry, the third - and again - who wants suing? So this entry will concern the fourth. 
   The book stall was all a matter of attitude - I turned up and till lunchtime had stomachache (can't remember what I'd eaten, but that's unimportant) - and surprise surprise, despite the many people, no one came... What's up? I wondered. 'It's your attitude! Obviously stressed, fed up or weary and that's not approachable!' was muttered to me. Now in a way this was news to me - I've been to festivals where there have been stallholders that spat venom, but what they were selling - whether really cheap old books to army surplus necessities, still drew in customers...but - new books without the backing of a huge publisher? In another way, it wasn't news at all... After lunch I felt better, and launched into the selling persona that we all have - yes, I mean it! however shy or reserved or downright anti-social you are, it's in there! trust me. And that's when the sales began. I told people what it was, called out to them to draw their attention, smiled, and was ready with information and offers of cards, flyers, and the offer of a free gift with each book bought. It worked. The world's lousiest direct sales bod had sold all but one copy by the end of the day. It's true what they say - it's all in the attitude - YOUR attitude. The trick is to remember the hard-won, difficult-to-learn skills that you gain in such an environment and integrate them into what you do and how you operate. Tough? yes. Worth it? Undoubtedly. It could make the difference between success and failure.

    The next day was kind of special too - having said goodbye to Wayne, Ben, Len, Andi, Mandy and co., (two of whom had passed out on the lawn after the night's partying), we went off to Exmoor to visit the Beacon - for the first time since having finished the 'Porlock the Warlock' book (it being Porlock's residence), and (for various reasons) my first time at the very top. It was strangely moving. Everything was just where I'd expected to find it - the chimneys for his bedroom, Vag and Rag's bedroom...the top of the kitchen and the library, his view of the Sea was just how I'd was very odd and I even found the 'front door' was, of those inexpressible times when you have a gut feeling that it was the right thing to have written, and the place you're in somehow makes it feel more 'meant', - if that makes sense? And all the recent worries about Spoken/Written receded for a time, and I felt my belief in 'Porlock' become stronger...
   And one thing you need is to have a strong faith in the books you write. But there is - as the stall experiences confirm - a difference in a private faith, however complete, in the work and a faith which you can usefully communicate to others about the 'product'. Thanks lastly then to Dunkery Beacon, home of Porlock, and all the lovely people who bought books, I hope they're enjoyed.

Monday, 29 June 2009

A Weekend's Wackiness

Had a crazy weekend performing and having a book stall at the Summer Science Day at Tapeley Park a few days ago, part of the North Devon Festival. Yolande of Bideford College had booked the Junk Carnival (one of the many workshops/events that the Collective offers) and us storytellers plus 'Porlock the Warlock' stall. The weather started cloudy, and rained a bit on the way...we looked at the sky warily. Tapeley Park front lawn being one of the windiest venues we regularly do, as the wind comes straight off the estuary and sea below! A fantastic view, but...I remember last summer, and out of the three events we did there, one time there seemed to be a force 10 gale blowing off the estuary, and there were only four of us battling to put up the Pavilion (there's an image of it on the Collective homepage etc.) and it had ideas of its own about turning into a giant kite, and whisking the lot of us off to Oz... 
   This time, however, we had better weather! Having looked gloomy, it cheered up, only spat and then got sunny later. The wind was a bit of a trial - laminated posters are all very well, and cards in plastic boxes, books are good and heavy, but flyers... But the stall kept together nonetheless. It was all go, with the Pavilion on one side, and an awning on one of the vans. Our big new, if homemade - sign for the website looked eye-catching, and Wayne made a stand for it there and then with his customary skill. We caught up with one of the Collective's newer members and partner, and performed in their own stylish awning-space which went up a bit later on... So that we were quite a set up! Pavilion, large van plus awning, even bigger van plus another awning, with various spaces in front for flag making and carnival dragon construction...! I sometimes think the Collective could put on a festival by itself... There was lots going on, and many attractions, fellow storyteller Deor warmed up the audience for the magician, who then passed on to us, who then handed over to Victorian re-enactors from Exmoor Zoo. - Including a very convincing Charles Darwin - complete with tarantula, skunk, and the rest! We met some interesting people, and the Junk Carnival itself was packed - kids and parents making and painting flags and banners, all the recycling rubbish we'd been saving up put to excellent use in some wonderfully effective and quirky musical instruments! The parade seemed to go on forever, at 3pm, and the video is now up on the Carnival's microsite. The prize giving was terrifying as hordes of small folk surged about, and I pointed out the judges so they could surge that way instead, for the prize giving. It looked like a miniature army - or was that the sheer number of flags and drums and having been to one too many Civil War battles...? Krafka the She-Troll and Darwin awarded the prizes, including a 'Porlock' book, and altogether it fitted well with the event which was a great success and very well attended. 
   Other stuff included making a juggling video on Sunday morning for another new associate member, and the party on Saturday night...the music was great - pure electronic dance/trance/house, but the volume - was that legal?? Still, the glade was a great place for it and the lights did the business. 
   Thanks must go to 'Charles Darwin' for being such a sport and a good judge, and Yolande for organizing the whole thing with such unfailing professionalism and good-humour!  

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Swings and Roundabouts

Being in the arts is an odd business. Last week, I went in to Phonic FM radio station, having been kindly asked to be a guest on the Waves with Words programme...and had a really good laugh - reading bits from Porlock and The Books of...Trilogy, and more importantly meeting the presenters Jennifer Mono and Eden Dart, and being part of their fresh new show. It really is a great format, mixing Q&A, extracts, banter (but not of the mindless variety!), non-playlist music (which is one of the station's flagship boasts), and all in an informal, open to ideas setting. Eden and I stayed around to talk about the next show on ancient poetry...and four hours later we really HAD to separate and get on with what we were meant to be doing! It's not often you meet someone who's read everything from Sophocles to Flaubert and asks if you've read Cicero, Catullus, and Marcus Aurelius... 
   So when I heard the news the day after that Spoken/Written's funding was to be cut...I found it hard to sink under the waves after such an injection of cultured conversation. And then the donations, most from subscribers whom I have never met, and voluntary subscriptions started coming in, words of support, offers of help in's hard to express either one's feelings of oppression when something one has worked for and with, seems as if it's all about to fold...And equally hard to express how much it means when people rally round with words of praise and support; with money to help keep Spoken/Written afloat on stormy seas; and with other kind offers. Big thanks must go especially to Rachel of the Poetry Stanza for offering to feature the Bulletin at future events, to Shirley formerly of the Glastonbury Poetry&Words Tent and close friend of the late great PVT West, to Jennifer and Eden of Phonic FM, and Keith of the Poet's Cafe at Trereife House in Penzance (looking forward to the promised tea and cake!). 
    Thanks so much to all the subscribers who have contributed so far. If you haven't done so yet, please do! The PayPal button is on the main web page of the Spoken/Written site, or you can e-mail me, the Editor for where to send a cheque.
   Here's to sun after rain.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

The Rain it Raineth Every Day...

Heard this week that Arts Council funding will not be renewed for Spoken/Written. Something of a blow, as I'd taken care to go through all the points system with a fine toothcomb, making sure that the application met every need. Sure enough when the letter came, it said that Spoken/Written's application had indeed fulfilled all the criteria and was eligible...but that they had had to turn down even perfectly good applications this time round. And of course, having been funded before put Spoken/Written and I in a weaker position, as the Bulletin is not like say a theatre, i.e. a regularly funded organization, but a series of grants for different aspects of the project. Last time I had to fill in an application for funding, there was a 50% success rate. For this year the figures have dropped to 38%. Spoken/Written just happened to be in the unfortunate 12% - a consequence of the Arts Council's own funding cuts. It feels like two months of sheer stress and going through the endless form and information notes at every spare moment was like a waste of time. However, after having worked to build up Spoken/Written into the valued resource it has become, I'm not going to let it go to the wall without a fight. After 38 Editions, and being its founder, it feels like too much energy has already gone into it to just grind to a halt. And the Quotes page on the website is a testament to how much subscribers and readers value and like it.  The proposed back issues/opportunities for writers website will still go ahead. It is just shaping up to be a Google free site, rather than one with a lot of fancy features to it. It will host advertising to help keep the Bulletin going. The Bulletin itself will have to charge for some entries, and voluntary subscription fees will be solicited. 
   As said in a previous post, six pounds for readers, eight pounds for artists/professionals, ten pounds for small organizations and so on does not seem unreasonable when looking at 10 editions a year, always over 10 pages, more often 12 (the last was 14) and often with a supplement of three pages plus. Cheques are best as PayPal take a portion - for example 30p from a three pound donation/contribution and 40p from a six pound one. 
   Whether through a mixture of donations, advertising, GoogleAdSense, voluntary subs or other sources, Spoken/Written must earn its keep, as it takes a third of a working year to put together. Huge thanks to those who have sent in amounts so far, especially the twenty pound cheques! it's all vital to keeping Spoken/Written going. 
   Big thanks also must go to Rachel McCarthy of ExCite Poetry, the Poetry Society Stanza for E.Devon for hosting Spoken/Written at the launch party of the Poetry Stanza at the lovely Devon and Exeter Institution last Wednesday, and Mel Scaffold of Apples and Snakes S.W. for having a Spoken/Written stall at the Gallery Session's Brian Patten event at the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple this Wednesday. It will help raise Spoken/Written's profile further, and that can only help in securing a future for it.  
   After all the sunshine, the pouring sometime torrential rain and thunder seem to match a mood I hope won't last any longer than the storm... 

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Vikings are Coming!

And then there was the gig at the Crediton Festival, the 1,100 year anniversary celebrations to commemorate the founding of the Bishopric of Devon. Initially (as explored in the 'Porlock' novel!) it was in Crediton, but moved to Exeter. Not least due to the invasions of Vikings (again as in 'Porlock'!), and we were storytelling there at the re-enactment battle 'The Vikings are Coming' (to attack Saxon Crediton). It was a good atmosphere, although few people we spoke to seemed aware of the 1,100 theme, which we tried our best to remedy, telling anyone who seemed interested of the C10th Exeter Book and it being part of the move from Crediton to Exeter in Bishop Leofric's library which he donated to Exeter Cathedral. We performed the odd piece from it, as well the more usual folktales, and the Porlock stall was a success, selling a fair number of copies, even being asked to sign a couple (embarrassing, but kind of people to think of asking for a scribble). It looked the part, and the new signs did the business. When we turned up it was raining, and Deborah from the covered stalls came and asked if we'd like to be under cover? We accepted gratefully. After lunch the weather cleared up to be hot and sunny, and one was then thankful for the shade the market offered! Andrew of the organic apple juice stall and Deborah and Mary of 'British Pork on your Fork' were friendly stallholders to be between, and altogether I was pleased with how the day went. Deor did sterling work captivating the crowds and then pulling them in to check out the books. One person did know all about the Exeter Book, and bought a copy, and someone else came along who had seen our show at the Autumn Festival, saying to her friend 'these are the people who did the Epic of Gilgamesh - I won't forget that evening' - so that left us glowing! 
   Still new to being a stallholder, my verdict was; quite hard work in that you had to meet people's eye, and be alert (not easy for the shy or reserved), shout one's wares a fair bit, all while attempting to be welcoming and keep on the ball with the right change! But having a good 'float' helps, and making the signs as clear as possible. Give people flyers to take away if they've no spare cash that day, and free gifts if possible. Lay books in lines as well as a stack, and generally fill the table. And always have plenty of cards with your website address... Thanks to Paul for having us, Deborah, Mary and Andrew for being nice to work alongside, and all the folk who bought books!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Long-awaited Launch of the Sculpture Park

What a week! And thankfully the weather was up to it. Last Saturday saw us storytellers performing at the official launch of the sculptural environmental play area in St. Buryan, designed by a member of the Collective artist's network, and friend. Mel has worked for months on this project, and has done wonders with the space. It boasts an earthcave/earthhouse in the shape of a barrow, a beautiful wooden climb-in ship sculpture - designed by Jo also of the Collective - an amphitheatre (for storytelling! naturally...) mosaic pillars and stepping stones with a theme of rockets and stars, willow maze, arches, fence, herb garden, stone circle border, pump fountain, carved wood pillar entrance...! and altogether, while built as an environmental 'natural play area', it really is an interactive work of art and a wonderful piece of landscape design. Whilst only involved with it in a support-for-the-designer, occasional bits of admin like taking photographs for the website, Collective kind of way, we storytellers still felt proud to be connected with it, and delighted to be asked to perform at its opening. As John Le Carre said in his speech to open it, it's a unique space, and will end up being an attraction in its own right, and far from just a local feature. The amphitheatre was a lovely space to perform in, and the body-masks leered at the audience from behind us, like uninvited guests when not in use, while the flags rippled in the breeze. Classic moments included one little kid trying to climb into the Dragon's mouth, and pick the nose of the Goblin! when they were lying by after the end of a set. Our first ever performance of the classic Cornish folk story 'The Mermaid of Zennor' went down especially well, and in the evening we did an informal shorter set for adults who'd been working serving food and drink all day, which met with much hilarity and applause. Thanks to all at St. Buryan Community House for being such sporting hosts! 
   Another blog would be the trials, tests and parties of the Collective, what tales to tell of how this place was built, and the many involved in it and with it...would make a great novel, but hey, who wants to be sued?
     The week's other performances and events will have to wait till another post, as another Edition's just gone off, but as ever that means the website is waiting for updates, there's signage and flyers to do for more events, invoices still to be sent and......................eventually some time off hopefully.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Chance Meetings and Surprising Greetings

The strangest things happen when you're a performance artist or touring artist of any kind...Having sent off lots of proposals to different events and venues earlier in the year, and then ringing various numbers of them up and finding that they'd lost the proposal in the overflowing inbox, or decided they couldn't afford the fee for six of us, administrator and form-filler-in-chief, I was just getting fed up, when...a company in Dorchester e-mailed inviting us to perform and do workshops, having just secured their funding, someone e-mailed who'd seen Widsith & Deor's Epic of Gilgamesh show last Autumn, asking if we were free for another gig, AND, most bizarrely of all, meeting a guy in a bluebell wood who happened to be the ranger, and within two weeks, meeting up again and being offered another gig to perform at the launch of the finished conservation project there in July! All in the space of two days...You can be sure as hell that if you hadn't have slaved away with a load of proposals, the work wouldn't have come in...and yet as so often in this business, you get what you hadn't planned for, expected, or in some cases even suspected! Other storytelling companies we know have said just the same thing. But three in two days...well that was pretty good and out of the blue. We've also been offered slots at Express FM in Portsmouth, the good folks at Phonic FM on their new 'Waves with Words' programme, Spoken/Written stalls and places to sell 'Porlock'...The excellent charity bookshop Bookcycle who run a donation-only bookshop - an amazing place with lots of unexpected gems, tucked away inside the higgledy piggedly Tudor building - who plant trees and send books to education projects in Africa are interested in a small press event for Cartwheels Collective Publishing, the publishing arm of the Collective... The summer is booking up apace...Just as the leaves have sprung into life and the buttercups are livid gold against the brightening greens, so everything else seems to starts happening and gathering momentum. Pip pip!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Merry Merry Month of May

Wow. Sometimes - especially after filling in lengthy forms to uncertain ends, overworked festival organizers deciding that instead of this or that which you actually offered, they'd rather you built them a willow cave instead, and you nearly agreeing to it, until you work out the time involved for the money you're likely to make there and pulling out, sending off work to magazines that may reply sometime near Doomsday, etc., etc., - sometimes something happens that makes you remember why you became an artist (storyteller/writer/poet/whatever) in the first place. Such a thing was this Beltane weekend. We were off in the newly converted storytelling van (thanks Wayne of Van-tastic! fellow member of the Collective) to perform at the Outlore Festival - a private event and one of the most sought-after on the Live Action Role Play or LARP circuit. The site was amazing as always (it was our fourth time there, and our third Outlore) - a beautifully atmospheric Dark Age settlement set in an idyllic stretch of countryside near Okehampton. To add to the river, bluebells, and all the rest, in a clearing in the forest over a causeway on a hill is a small village of roundhouse, Viking longhouse and many other huts and structures and a wonderful attention to detail. There's always something going on and something to look at! And this time was no exception. It may not be straight re-enactment, for instance the 'baddies' are monsters not people, and the paying player-characters ultimately win, but it has a fine feel of authenticity nonetheless. Highlights were the invasion of the settlement by the (very tall!) wolf warrior, the coming into being of the bull god, and the entrance of Hel complete with a raven. There was a new fort built to house the enemy, and a skeleton hanging from a gibbet one could see for miles. Unlike some other places, it looked scarier the closer one got! and the constant sound of war drums added massively to the sense of impending storm. The weather (as at the other two Festivals) was perfect, and in the evening, few places are as lovely seen lit up. Our stories of fools, daydreamers and wisecracks made folk laugh out loud, while they waited for the siege, our riddles perplexed, and our epic battle poetry from Egil's Saga pleased the warriors. And we got more 'gold' and 'treasure' than ever before! as well as a fair share of mead. Music was by the excellent Goliards, in the evening and the lanterns and torches amongst all the film-like setting, with the spring leaves and the latticework of the branches on a clear darkening blue sky with a bright half moon above was simply magical. But the biggest thrill for me during Sunday was when the falconer let me hold the large raven on my wrist - it stood there majestically, and then tore a mouse to shreds that someone had bought it. It felt a strange privilege to have this large flying creature so close. The evening and sunset were about as heavenly as May offers, and in doing the last verse of the 7th century (possibly) poem 'Widsith' as Widsith, as the poet explains and justifies his position in Dark Age society, it made me feel connected - as ever - with the long line of 'Widsiths'...and all in all, I was reminded - yes, that's why I became a performer...! 
   Huge thanks to Dave and Jon of Tyburn Jig and the Dumnonni Chronicles for inviting us again, and to Dave for his immense feats of organization for the whole Outlore adventure, also to all the warriors, damsels and healers who liked our tales and gave us things, the Goliards of course, and especially to the falconer!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Form Filling & Gut Busting

What a relief - finally the form to the Arts Council, along with all accompanying material has at long last been sent off. The form to try and secure another year's grace for Spoken/Written in the form of support for a big new back issues website and an information stall to tour events to tell more people about Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W., and gain not just more readers, but crucially advertisers, contributors, sponsors, donors and all interested in partnerships of all kinds. It can be an isolated job being an editor of an e-newsletter - so much work done via e-mail and on the net. So it's time to get some printed editions out there and a stall in the 3D world! 
   It was an epic task, what with all the usual admin for the Collective, rehearsing, recording new audio for the website, preparing for workshops, chasing up shops about books, and always the newsletter itself with its suddenly looming deadlines (not to mention all the stuff going off with the Collective and related matters - probably worth starting a separate blog for!), it's been tough fighting for the space to get together the new application. A 30 page form, a 7 page proposal, 4 pages of supporting testimonials, 2 page resume and 15 pages of a recent edition...making for a 57 page application...No wonder I've been so wired the last couple of weeks. I just hope it'll be worth all the work...Awful thing is, after all that, you end up feeling like you've done the work for the money asked for, already...!
   Thinking of grants and funding, one of the artists in the Collective came up and took us storytelling faction out to lunch recently and she asked me about funding applications. I told her more than she could possibly have wanted to know, and she suggested I host grants consultations, saying there was a real need for people unaccustomed to these huge forms, and missing or not hearing about things like the Arts Council's advice days, to get advice from another source. Then it occurred to me that a London based friend's partner and media producer/video artist had also asked my opinion on funding, and had even asked for a copy of a previous application proposal! So, if anyone needs advice on filling in one of these things...

   Did I mention it's a relief to have got the form off? Now just a six week wait.........

Friday, 27 March 2009

Wonderful World of Colour

Just come back from another set of writing and acetate workshops including my own special one on the Wonderful World of Colour, in Appledore - it was great, with more lateral suggestions from particpants than I would have thought probable! Came away with lots of new words not least thanks to Yolande who'd caught the bug and been looking for new colours too. All the workshoppers seemed to have a ball and learn something new, and everyone wanted a colour gel at the end, the only trouble being that we ran out of red and pink toward the end! as well as time, as we could have gone on for another half an hour at least! Huge thanks again to Yolande and to the Northcott Theatre who generously donated another box of gels earlier in the month. Strangely inspired, I made yet more lists when I got home, and couldn't help going off on new tangents about quality of light terms, and then for different sorts of light itself... It was good to be thinking creatively again amidst all the forms attendant on festivals wanting tech specs, funding stuff and gathering together stuff for Spoken/Written. Not to mention trying to chase up a few other opportunities for a change, especially the ones with near deadlines!
   Last night I spent the evening re-ordering the remaining colours into heaps before putting them all away. Also inspiring, as I can't wait to get back to making some visual textworks, it's just a matter of free time...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Money and Principles...

On putting out a call for feedback in order to strengthen the case to be made for further funding for Spoken/Written, one particular e-mail brought up the theme of 'integrity', urging that Spoken/Written remain free to champion this very quality. 
   Due to the fact that people are used to getting information for free from the internet, like Wikipedia, and also the fact that an e-mail can be forwarded countless times, a subscription fee has always looked a difficult beast (despite that at six pounds for all living on less than £6,000 a year not including accommodation, and £8 for others, the fee had it gone ahead was less than a pound an edition). Each twelve page Bulletin takes a good week's work to put together, once all the seemingly countless websites which have opportunities in them have been trawled - by no means limited to literature, poetry and storytelling sites! but covering performance sites, visual arts sites, museums, council newsletters and all manner of 'misc.'. One of my favourite more unusual sites to check for opportunities was the classified ads page of the well known dance website 'The Place' - sadly no more! Why they did away with the interesting ad page I don't know. But opportunities for written and verbal arts are everywhere, confirming my own feeling that words always are at the heart of things, and cross seamlessly into every other artform, whether performance, visual, sound or movement... But back to the point of this blog. Dozens of newsletters come in to the Spoken/Written desk, and countless single information posts or requests for entries from all kinds of sources and individuals. This dense block of information and research then has to be selected from, edited down, and made into a newsletter each month. I try to keep at 12 pages simply because otherwise it can get bounced as having filled inboxes! So I thought the proposed sub fee was by no means extortionate. Not least, as long ago, even when stony broke, I used to cough up six pounds for the old printed Poetry Can Bulletin - which only covered Bath and Bristol technically! and I didn't live in either. 
   The web however means that the distinctions between primary and secondary information sources has blurred and become porous, and in this 'space between the gaps' exists Spoken/Written. Unfortunately this doesn't however mean that Spoken/Written can exist without finance! So, in order to keep it going, the choice was plain - subscription fees, or advertising? Obviously, having run it for some time as if it was 'public service broadcasting' (a mistake, but it smelt good!), my own initial preference was to steer clear of ads and have it funded like a print mag, by subscription. But for reasons above, it looks as though advertising is the way, and the Bulletin will have to go down the 'private finance initiative' route. This means that some of the space in every edition will carry advertisements, and also that the proposed new website devoted to back issues, will do too. Revenue from these sources is vital to Spoken/Written Bulletin's future. 
   So, when the word 'integrity' was mentioned with regard to staying free (and if the Arts Council funds projects that must be different each time, and not the ongoing running costs of an entity, so that one can rule out indefinite state funding) - which has more integrity - a newsletter paid for by its readers with no advertising, with a supporting website likewise ad free? Or a newsletter free but with plenty of advertising and with at least one large website also full of it?
  BIG thanks to all who have e-mailed with support and feedback so far! It really is appreciated and of real help. And if you haven't already, please do send in some words of positive stuff if you value or enjoy the service. It will help to keep it free.  

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Show Must Go On!

What a week. As the education arm of the Collective, we were going up to North Devon to deliver some workshops in a school as part of a Science of Colour Week of events. Along the way, we passed all kinds of places where we'd previously broken down on a nightmare journey along the same route to perform at a festival late last August. In an electric van. Since it broke down such a lot it had been got rid of, (though the nightmare journey itself is a worth a tale!) and changed for an LPG van. As soon as we arrived on the road outside the venue, we realized that this vehicle too, was going nowhere fast, as a pool of liquid promptly fell out from underneath and covered the pavement, and the steering went. Great. As if this wasn't all, there was parent-in-hospital drama going on, and General Mayhem (that unwelcome guest whenever one's trying to get things done under stress) had definitely invited himself to the fray. 
   Despite this (and endless calls to the breakdown company, etc.) we went in, explained what was up, and then got on with delivering the workshops. The first was a 'Name the Colour Game', and all about words, colours and communication. The Northcott Theatre had kindly let me have a box of their used theatre light gels for the purpose, and I was right that having seen the beautiful colours of the gels, everyone would want one, and so it proved - as a crowd of fifty surged forward to choose the colour they wanted, for a moment I wondered if it had been wise! But the teachers made sure they formed an orderly-ish queue, and so all participants went away with a prize. My own workshop was my 'Wonderful World of Colour' workshop, which I love (being a visual artist on the inside, as it were). As ever, there were words for shades of colour hitherto unsuspected by everyone and participants came up with some new ones. So I went in with 130 odd words for colour and came out with even more. Again, everybody wanted a piece of gel. Contrary to what we'd been told, actually the younger participants wanted every colour pretty much, with only a very slight preference among boys for blue. And the older ones had a bit more of a bias towards the girls wanting pink, but the most marked trend was that we had hardly any left of any colour except orange! (But then we did have an awful lot of that...). We felt that pretty much everyone had learned something new, written a couple of poems, had some fun and that everyone had got a piece of gel with which they could make a window decal or anything else they liked. 
   We made it back to base with the help of a recovery vehicle, and Yolande who'd booked us was very kind about the hassle, and we had many cups of coffee, before leaving. Many thanks to her, Elaine, all the helpers and the Northcott Theatre.  

Friday, 30 January 2009

Pitfalls and Plaudits

Who'd publish a novel eh? I went to a great seminar at the Society for Storytelling conference last Spring, and a terrifying and admirable storyteller told us that she had suffered learning the hard way how to promote your work by working as a direct door-to-door seller. Her line was that she 'had suffered so we didn't have to!' In this spirit, is this post.
  Shops have been saying yes, and stocking the book. It's so nice, when as an administrator and artist, you have to spam so many places, whether it's a magazine, festival, other promoter or even a school or playranger. A yes amongst all the ones that don't get back to you, say they'll keep your details on file, or that they have enough 'storytellers/poets/surreal fiction/willow workshops/insert own item!' or even the 'no' - is irresistible. So you pack them off in little boxes of six to allsorts of places, and then of course, after all this work (and it feels like hard work - stamping the books, putting together a sheet of terms, printing out posters or flyers, whichever has been asked for, and then delivering or posting them), you have no guarantee that the said shop will a) sell any b) let you how its going c) put them on display without being chased up... Meanwhile you've got workshops and performances coming up, with barely any books left! Doh. Not something I was giving any thought to, seduced by the heady 'that sounds interesting - yes, we'll take half a dozen'. 
    Golden rule; remember that the most profit is made the lower the overheads. That means you're much better off selling books at events and workshops, NOT (despite it looking cool) bookshops or any type of shops. A friend of mine who has loads of books out, always curses bookshops - he says they never shift books unless you're there arranging a signing or other event and breathing down their necks. Something I evidently should have borne in mind before running out of stock! 
   If you think it was really obvious and I've been dumb, I can only say that having three jobs with a dozen different tasks at any one time limits how much prediction power I can give to any one thing. I know, because I listed the roles (more like 4), and after I'd listed all the tasks that went with them, I needed a lie down....

Friday, 23 January 2009

The New Season

Well this blog is (as stated on the intro blog on the Collective site), going to be more of a Collective blog than a strictly editor's blog, which is inevitable given that the Editor of Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W. is also a performance poet, writer, one half of storytelling company Widsith & Deor, and administrator and co-webmaster for the Cartwheels Collective group of artists. 
   Things are in preparation for the new season, the Diary pages for Widsith and Deor and Whistling Willow have been changed and new stuff listed. A big shout must go out to the Centre for Contemporary Art in the Natural World and Exeter's Quay House Visitor Centre for stocking Porlock the Warlock! the first novel issued by Cartwheels Collective Publishing, the press arm of the Collective. (Written by yours truly.) They join Exeter Cathedral Shop as stockists of Porlock - quality shops and attractions all. But it can of course, still be ordered from the Collective Web Shop. 
    More thanks must go to the Northcott Theatre, for donating their used theatre gels for our forthcoming workshops on the Wonderful World of Colour mixing words and recycled gels - a fantastic venue with a great season coming! 
   Spoken/Written is currently trying to gain further funding for its continuance, and welcomes all offers of sponsorship and words of support. There is also a Donate button on the front page of its microsite now, too.
   With my writer's hat on, work has begun on Porlock and the Monad Machine, the sequel to Porlock the Warlock. We're stepping back into the seventeenth century for the next one, and I have been doing some historical research for it - including some eye-popping stuff about obscure branches of garden history. I love it, but it is hard making time between the hundred and one things there always are to do. As usual with historical research, all the best and latest books on the subjects are wildly expensive and only available on inter-library loan from university libraries to which I no longer have access... but I have some hopes of an academic friend. But it feels good to have started, and to begin to build on having gone to visit a 1659 first edition in Exeter Cathedral Library a while back. Not least to see if I can solve the mystery of the missing page...! I'm saying no more at this stage. 
   In other news, the Collective now has a comprehensive Workshops section and index, so that it's easier to find the many workshops which we all - and our associate artists - offer. And we have at last published some guideline priced packages to further user-friendliness. Actually I'm shattered after spending this week getting details from our visual artists about what they want to offer to various festivals and/or schools, delivering books to shops, getting the next edition together, etc., etc., so will sign off there. Here's to the 44th President of the United States,

& a Happy New Year to all subscribers, readers, interested parties and fellow arts workers! 



Editor - Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W.

Poet/Writer/Storyteller/Performance Poet

Administrator for the Cartwheels Collective