Well, if you were waiting for more information - sorry! Iíve just realised I havenít written anything in the diary since August, Iíve been quite busy (but thatís no excuse).
Itís now nearly the end of October, weíve had hail and low temperatures, the clocks have gone back and itís nearly the Day of the Dead: an appropriate time to talk about endings.
I had a stall at the Star Bazaar at Star and Shadow, Warwick Street, Heaton, Newcastle on Saturday 27th October and made £41- when you consider I was selling books for 10p and 50p, that was quite a lot of books: 278 in total. But the whole point was to get rid of them, not make a huge profit.
I also sold my own books and Juliaís new short story collection Pearl at more realistic prices.
It was wonderful how supporters of the press and Diamond Twig poets kept popping in to say hello, and buy books. I still have books left, although some titles have now sold out. Iím having a goodbye Diamond Twig party at the Lit and Phil on Wednesday 5th December and will bring along some books to that, and I might consider doing the Star Bazaar again on 8th December if I still have books to sell, so watch out for news of this on Facebook.
I have mountains of postcards tooÖ
All the messages of support and thanks for the work of the press over the years is very gratifying and it is sad that it has to end, but it seems the right thing to do.
Iím still planning a new site, but not sorted yet, but will let people know when Iím ready to move on from this website.
For the moment, Iíll leave you with a quote from my poem Julia Darling is Frida Kahlo:
On the Dia de Muertos, kitchen table
an altar, weíll bring your favourite foods:
soup and bread, red wine, roll-ups,
sugar skulls and marigolds.
I gave a wrong date on my last blog. The workshops to accompany Love This Place will take place on Sunday 2nd September 4.30 - 6.30 with a reading afterwards at 7.30
Hereís what it says on the eventbrite page:
Join tutor and poet Ellen Phethean for a creative writing workshop responding to artist Lesley Eleanor Woodís exhibition Love This Place, a multi-media show exploring themes of journeys, home, belonging, connection to place and landscape, and female identity.
She describes the work as ďan exercise in feminist psychogeography based on my connection to the North East. It includes artwork from my solo walk of 140 miles from Leeds to Newcastle echoing my familyís moves, from Newcastle to Leeds and back, exploring the emotional and physical spaces in between. The work is dedicated to the women in my family, particularly my grandmother, mother, daughter and granddaughter, a Ďmatri-lineí who share the family name- Eleanor.Ē
We will explore the work (the artist will also be around), Ellen will provide writing prompts and participants will respond with writing over a two hour period.
There will be a follow up reading in the evening at 7.30 where participants will be invited to read the work produced to an audience, if they want to.
Open to anyone whatever their experience of writing, newcomers or old hands. Writing materials provided.
Tea and coffee available in the Garden Room, a beautiful light filled space with access to the outdoors, this will be an informal but quiet place to explore Lesleyís themes of identity, place and familial links through generations. More information about the show is at Lesleyís website and on her Facebook page
£12 for the workshop and reading.
£3 reading with Ellen Phethean and invited guests 7.30pm - 9pm
Eventbrite booking fees apply when booking online.
Gosforth Civic Theatre
Regent Farm Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
Hereís the link if you want to book
I will also be running my regular Writing for Children course starting Tuesday 18th September a 10.15 for 10 weeks
plus poetry course and prose course in conjunction with Kathleen Kenny on Monday 10th September Poetry
and Wednesday 10th October Prose, both 6 - 8
all bookable via the Lit and Phil, where they take place. Phone: 0191 232 0192
Be lovely to see some of you at any of these! Why not get yourself sorted this Autumn? I plan to... bring on the smokey scents, the turning leaves and the cooler nights and hunker down with pen and paper.
Caroline Hawkridge was the winner of the Julia Darling travel award and Poem of the Month will feature one of her poems later in the year. A very interesting older woman who was born in what was then called Rhodesia to left wing parents who couldnít countenance what Ian Smith was doing to the country so exiled themselves and their young daughter. Caroline is using the money to go back Ďhomeí to Zimbabwe and will explore issues of exile and identity I believe. She said she felt a great affinity with Julia and I know Julia would have been delighted by Carolineís plans.
Iíve been busy with teaching my classes at the Lit and Phil and also working as part of the Brains Steam and Speed project, celebrating famous engineers, designers and scientists from the Heaton area. I worked in Chillingham Road primary school with my son Johnny exploring sound. Their school was researching Sir Charles Parsons, most famous for his ship Turbinia, powered by steam. But he also patented the auxtephone, an early attempt at amplifying recorded sound. Weíve recorded 5 soundscapes all imagined and created by the class: Dinosaur world, Victorian docks, scary woods, Space war and a mining disaster. Every scenario ends in disaster in fact! These are going to be on display at the Peopleís Theatre Foyer from 6th July along with other exhibits from the four other schools involved who made pinhole cameras, maps, automata, concrete poetry, and metal sculptures. At the same time there will be a play, written by Peter Dillon and called Heaton! on from 17th to 21st July at the Peopleís which again has a theme celebrating all the famous historical Heaton folk, with film, music and a time travelling couple.
We raised money to put the whole project together: the schools work, the artists, visiting engineers and the play. We raised the main amount from Heritage Lottery Fund and some from the Joicey Trust, and Heaton History Group. We asked to be part of the Great Exhibition of the North, and applied for funds but were told we were outside their remit, but we could be mentioned in their publicity.
We were all very disappointed as we thought our project would sit well with the theme of celebrating northern creativity. We werenít the only artists and creative local people to be turned down for money or overlooked to be part of the whole shebang. I have to say Iím disappointed by what appears to be the top down corporate approach of the whole event.
Looking forward, Iím hosting Robin Mossís launch of his first full collection Mastering the Art of Imperfection at the Lit and Phil on Wednesday 18th July, which will be a great evening of poetry.
Iím also involved with a wonderful woman artist called Lesley Wood, who is mounting an exhibition at the Gosforth Civic Theatre about her matri-line walk through the country to her home in Newcastle:
Dates for your diary:
July 20th, 5.30-7.30 pm, Preview night and drinks reception
July 26th, 6.30-8.30 pm, Artist's talk
Sept 2nd, 2.30-4.30 pm, Garden Gathering, a fundraising bash for Parkinson's UK (because her Mum has Parkinson's)
And on Thursday 13th September I will run a workshop in the afternoon and host a reading in the evening in response to the themes in Lesleyís work. Iíll be sending out more details to publicise it, but it should be a fascinating experience.
Iíve got more exciting developments in the Autumn but I think Iíll leave that to a future diary entry. Now Iíve got to hunt out the bunting because we are having our annual street party today. Unfortunately it clashes with the England v Panama world cup match. Thereís talk of rigging up a big screen in the street. It doesnít seem quite the point of an outdoor party but itís hard to resist the rise of the screens.
The Late Shows, when galleries, museums and venues are open late and free, in mid May always bring a sense of excitement to the streets as families, young and old wander around seeking and enjoying new experiences and this year we had warmth and long evening sunshine - at last!
My companion grumbled about the glow sticks handed out - Ďmore plastic to throw in a bin at the end of the eveningí, and sheís right; perhaps we need a more eco-friendly light to guide us and show we Ďbelongí.
Down in the Ouseburn valley Lime street was busy with a pop-up choir and creative things to do. I didnít stay long but made a point of visiting the newly opened Star and Shadow cinema and creative space. Itís amazing what dedicated volunteers have done to transform this old carpet warehouse into a multifunctional building with cinema, bar and cafe, workshops and performance area - I briefly caught Chilli Road band giving it some. And I joined for £1 - not a lot you can get for that these days.
And on Sunday the Star and Shadow are hosting this yearís Julia Darling Travel Award ceremony - where we will hear from last yearís winner who went to America and learn who has won the award this year. I think thereís going to be a film screening of Orlando as well. All just down the road from where I live!
Anyone can get involved in the Star and Shadow - itís got a FB page and is happy to receive any help on offer. You canít miss the big building on Warwick street in Heaton. Itís the sort of project that gives hope and optimism for the future. Like the sunshine.