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P.J. Reed 'The Blogs'

Chilcompton Fringe in the heat!

August 31, 2017

 

Assorted members of the Exeter authors Association went adventuring this weekend as we crossed the border and entered the wilds of Somerset. We traveled through the rolling dark green fields of the Mendips, past fascinating historic buildings including the Kings of Wessex and quaint village greens. Finally, we reached our destination – a sports pitch on the edge of Chilcompton.

Sometimes, however, appearances can be deceptive. This pitch was bustling with excitement and dotted about its fields were large white marquess standing expectantly, ready to be filled by musicians, singers, poets, and authors. The first Chilcompton Fringe Festival was waking.

The Exeter Authors Association were honoured to have our own small marquee complete with stage and professional sound equipment so our voices were not lost between the three vibrant music marquess.  We also had a wonderful sound engineer who also gathered audiences for us and a compere who happily joined in with all the workshops, and their efforts were greatly appreciated.

 The day was so hot – unnaturally so for England, we put our book tables outside the marquee and then hid in the shade of the marquee for as long as we could. 

In the course of the afternoon two pairs of sunglasses were broken, a lot of liquid consumed and faces began to glow red. It was British summertime at its best.

I read my eclectic variety of poetry to a suddenly increasing audience. One of whom yelled “You’re mad!” in a hopefully positive manner, after hearing about the adventures of her new, neighbour Colin and his washing line. I think that’s what is known as audience participation!

Shadows Of A Beatnik Generation

July 12, 2017

The annual Tiverton Poetry evening has passed.

A beautiful night of poetry reading which brought images of 1960's beatnik poetry nights in darkly lit art cafes.  The poetically inspired flocked from as far afield as Dulverton and Exmoor descended into the art-filled back room of the Independent Coffee Trader, ready to soak up sensual stanzas and voluptuous verse. With the readings split into two I choose to split my eclectic mix of writing into two dissimilar halves.  

 This year marked the publication of Flicker my collection of characters and observations of Devon – sometimes happy, sometimes sad and sometimes downright strange. A mixture of stories of worried wives, desperate husbands, and lost lovers all based on my observations of the microcosm of life that is Costa such as the tale of the disappointed wife as seen in a Costa in Exmouth,

rotund man wobbles

after disappointed wife

carrying a spoon

 

and of the hungry husband

 

tired businessman

takes ageing wife to dinner

hungry for a change

 The audience were fabulous and very responsive. I even got positive feedback about my professional entertaining reading style - if only they knew… in the course of the evening, I lost my reading glasses a total of three times which is actually my record for one event!

My second reading was from my longer poems including memories of my wedding dress, the empty chair where my father used to sit and an almost fatal experience with rhubarb crumble... which people found alarmingly quite funny!

If you ever want to turn on, tune in and drop out for an evening visit the Tiverton Poets. 


 

A Celebration of Books Roars Into Life!

June 20, 2017

It was a hot and sticky Saturday. The sun bore down, rebounded off the pavements and buildings and onto the waiting people. The 120 freshly made cupcakes began to ooze and a delicious smell wafted through the library. The Exeter Authors stood behind their beautifully illustrated tables and talk bubble through the book celebration. Everything was ready with fifteen minutes to go. Suddenly, there was a noise at the library door. People had started queuing in the 34-degree heat.  A surprised silence hit the authors as they stood in the shelter of the library. These brave people were standing in a furnace because of their passion for books. Therefore, it was unanimously agreed to open the doors and let these brave people in early lest they get taken by the savage heat.

                The doors opened and a wide of people floated in. It was great to see so many people come together to celebrate their love of books. In fluid times, unexpected events happen. An unexpected but very interesting Professor arrived with his selection of text books regarding Anglo-Saxon history.  We managed to find him a little island of history between Chris Tetreault–Blay’s horror books and my haiku collections but then history is indeed a mixture of horror and art.

And so, the celebration began with a mixture of art and horror...

The event was a fully interactive afternoon of readings, performances, workshops, and cupcake demolition. We were extremely lucky to have Michael Jecks, the bestselling Medieval crime author and Samantics one of the leading performance poets in the south-west. The acts drew huge crowds.

Unfortunately, I missed the lot. My workshop ‘How To Catch a Publisher’ was the first workshop of the afternoon and it was enlarging. It expanded from the table into the environs encroaching into the friends of the library refreshment area almost within reach of the cupcake mountain.

After a chair reorganisation, my workshop began. It was rapid fire workshop of one and a half hours of work condensed into twenty minutes. It was an intense battle but we persevered. These were intelligent, articulate writers, and asked many questions which was a pleasure to explore.

My full workshop ‘How To Catch a Publisher’ will be coming to libraries across the south-west very soon…

Once my workshop had finished, I went to my little author section to prepare for my surrealesque poetry performance. Only to find the poetry book, ‘Flicker,’ that I was going to use, complete with paper page marks, had been sold. However, poetry waits for no man or woman.  I had exactly five minutes to locate another book and remark the pages. It was a frantic battle but I triumphed and bounded on stage with my poetry saved. The audience, like the workshoppers, were fantastic and very responsive.

After my turn, I could sit back and watch the other performers. It was a fantastic way to end an amazing afternoon. The only negative being – by the time I had finished greeting, talking and watching- someone had eaten all the cakes!

Romancing the Devon Dialect

June 12, 2017

The Tiverton Poetry Group monthly meeting is always a surprising affair. The chameleon nature of the CreaTiv Hub, means you never know what you are actually walking into. On occasions our meeting has been held amid art exhibitions, photography and the hilarious children’s art centre time, when we ended up holding our meeting on a kiddie art table complete with beautifully vivid matching chairs.

The surrealist nature of the room reflects the surrealist nature of the group.  In what other context would a group with such disparate former lives as a postman, PHD student, life coach, author, teacher, air force corporal, and book shop owner all meet under the cover of darkness than to discuss poetry?

Last night we walked into a rainbow coloured treasure trove of vintage clothes. The atmosphere oozed with their memories of lives once lived and now discarded.

The past is indeed a foreign country and this month’s meeting delved into Devon’s poetical past with readings from John Keats, a one-time resident of Teignmouth, slightly risqué poem ‘Where Be Ye Going, You Devon Maid?’   and Rudyard Kipling, a Westward Ho! man, poem ‘The Gardener.’ We also ventured into the near past of Devon folk history with an attempted reading of Crediton born, Jan Stewer’s ‘Home! Home, Begad,’ which proved a highly challenging read.  Here is a section to attempt if you can…

Home! Home, begad. ‘Tis snawin’ an’ blawing’ an’ I be sneezin’ an’ barkin’ an’ me nawse gets nipped off if I aunly putts ‘en outside the door an’ the sky is as black as thinder an’ ev’rything in the shops is dear as zuvrins an’ they voretells ’tis gwain to be the wist winter o’ the lot.

But ’tis home an’ that’s all I cares about fer the present.

I’ve left the warm zin behine me fer a bit, zim-zo, an’ I mus’ zay I veels the cold most jewsive. If I aunly goes two enches away from the vire the ole gewse-vlesh creeps up all ovver me an’ me knees is knackin’ together an’ me teeth is chitterin’.

But ’tis home.

An’ there’s other kinds of warmness bezides the yet o’ the zin. There’s the zight o’ yer awn volks an’ the ole familiar noises which you never did’n use to take no notice of, but now they makes ‘e preck up yer yers like music.

It takes a brave man/ woman to slow your vowels and roll easy ‘z’s and try to speak like a Devonian.

After various levels of dialect success, the group moved on to their own Devon inspired poetry and AOB.

We were delighted to learn long standing member Audrey had won a Haiku Competition with an actual cash reward and people say poetry doesn’t pay!

Group poets P.J. Reed, Trina J. Stacey, and Brian Willis are performing at CredFest17 as part of the Exeter Authors Association ‘A Celebration of Books’ event on Saturday 17th June, Crediton Library from 2 – 5pm.  Everyone is welcome to this free event but spaces are limited. For further information visit – http://exeterauthorsassociation.jigsy.com/credfest17-information

Finally, The Tiverton Poetry Group are planning their annual open poetry event at the Independent Coffee Trader, Tiverton with a tentative date of Tuesday 11 July.

More details to follow!

Romancing the Golden Dawn

May 4, 2017
The Tiverton Poetry Group met in the lightening evening of a Tuesday night in May. Their dark figures scurrying past the gaze of the orange street lights and into the even darker recesses of the chair circles, hidden at the back of the Hub. It was as though a meeting of the Illuminati had been called, its members summoned. The night time walkers of Tiverton stood for moments and watched through the blazing windows trying to ascertain the nefarious nature of the after dark meetings at the Hub.
 
This month’s meeting was based on the idea of ‘Pipe Dreams,’ which led to a meeting focussed on dreams, opium, the order of the Golden Dawn, and its possible poet members. Unfortunately, no one in the Tiverton Poetry Group was also a member of Golden dawn or is that what they want us to believe?
The term ‘Pipe Dreams’, the subject of this month’s meeting, came directly from the fanciful dreams created when smoking opium pipes. Opiates were widely used by the English literati in the 18th and 19th centuries. Samuel Taylor Coleridge masterpiece ‘Kubla Khan’ was probably written whilst daydreaming on his opium pipe.  Lewis Carroll, although not known as an official opium user himself, made clear allusions to drug use in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’  As the centuries passed the term has developed to encompass any dream which is unlikely to be achieved.  
 
However, to dream you do not need a pipe and several outstanding dream based poems were read including,
 
A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
 
“Who knows if the moon’s a balloon” by ee Cumings
 
And Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
 
The rest of the evening was spent listening to new dream based poetry written by the members of the group and written without relying on even as much as an aspirin.
 
Steve Dawes read from his book Gravel and Gemstones.
 
P.J. Reed read from her latest collection Flicker, poetry based on the flickering images of characters, countryside, and casual thoughts of two years spent watching life in Devon including,
 
he dreams of monsters
stories float on empty pages
and his wife talks on
 
little ginger dog
smiles and snores his happy dreams
duvet occupied
 
nighttime once more and
lonely moon asks for a friend
my bed lies empty
 
The theme for next months after dark poetry meeting is poets with a relationship with Devon, which should yield some surprising poetry.
 

The Hut Experience

May 3, 2017

One advantage of doing writers-in-residence placements is that you get to see some amazing out-of-the-way places. Places normally hidden from view and lost to the world. The Artist’s Cabin at Bucks Mills, Woolsery, situated on the wild North Devon coast was no exemption. It stands clinging tentatively to the edge of the cliff face, an untouched time capsule from the 1970’s. The artists, Judith Ackland and her partner Mary Stella Edwards, used the cabin as a summer painting retreat until Judith was taken ill. They both assumed they would return and left the hut in readiness for their next painting retreat. Unfortunately, Judith died in 1971 and Mary never returned to the cabin. Therefore, the cabin was left an untouched living space complete with coat hangers, cups, and a cabinet full of art supplies. A collection of pebbles and seashells lined the tiny window ledge as a physical manifestation of a lost memory. By the tiny cream coloured double bed, sat a candle in a candle holder, another lingering memory of a past life.

Completely, isolated from modern living, with no electricity buzzing and humming in the background, it was the ideal writing conditions for working through my pile of unfinished work in progress. The only sounds in the hut were the echoes of the sea, its waves crashing against the empty shore. However, emptiness seldom lasts long before it is filled and the crunch of booted feet on the pebbles heralded the arrival of the devotees. They had braved the May Day cold to pay homage to the Artist’s Cabin, with me acting as the occasional, possibly quite terrible, tour guide. I had had one tour of the hut by the custodian of said hut and being rather preoccupied with seashells and candles, the actual substance of the tour was lost. I did, however, manage to recall the pointing of the teacup handles, the gaslight, and the abandoned chairs which had been left hanging, nailed to the staircase.

I don’t know if it was the tour they expected but they seemed happy enough when they left.  Except one who seemed rather too excited yelling to everyone squashed into the bursting hut that I was indeed a horror writer.  I thought she looked most disappointed by my lack of black clothes, insanity, and sundry horror inducing equipment. From this I learned, if you write a sprinkling of horror – a bulging black doctors bag which you can stare at knowingly, positioned carefully by your laptop is a necessary if not fundamental requirement to dark writing.

If you are a connoisseur of horror, you are most welcome to visit my website – Deliciously Wicked Writing and enjoy the wicked.

The Devon Writers - or Just ow many writers can you fit around a table for two?

March 10, 2017

The Devon Writers met in the new and improved Costa. There is a lot more space in our local Costa and a wonderful dark purple decor casting a shadow over the recesses of the back of the cafe. An ideal covert meeting place for the writers of murder mystery, erotica, horror, thriller and angst-ridden poets.

Soon plots were a foot and summer storylines set. 

Many Devon authors and poets are coming out this summer and attending the big festivals of the region, TivLit, and CredFest17. They will be giving talks, running workshops and doing readings, something which is highly recommended as it is always interesting to know, how wicked ideas are created, written and published. 

In attendance were Richard Dee, who brought his hat but no soda bread, Denise Cross, Angela Woolridge, Jenny Kane, Lucy Hay, Brian Willis, Trina J. Stacey, Michelle Werrett, and myself.

The year is a very busy publishing time for the Devon Writers with 3 attending authors publishing amazing newly inked works ranging from ultra modern sci-fi to the ancient Japanese art of senryu poetry. 

The Books

Sci-fi and Steampunk author, Richard Dee, has just published 'Myra', which tells the story of how Finn Douglas, Naval Officer; became Dave Travise, Galactic Trader. And what happened before Freefall.

  "I turned, and even though I didn't immediately realise it, it was then that I fell in love."

Meet Dave Travise, at least that's who his identity chip says he is. An ex-Navy man on the run; somehow he's ended up in a dead man's shoes; on a new ship and on the wrong side of the law. With no way to prove his innocence, he's just got to play along and keep his head down if he's going to survive. As if he doesn't have enough problems, now he's fallen for Myra, the engineer on his new home.
Pursued by criminal gangs and keeping one jump ahead of everyone, Dave and his new shipmates are going to need all the luck in the Galaxy just to stay alive.

Jenny Kane's latest novel  'Abi's Neighbour'  the long awaited sequel to 'Abi's House' will be published on 4th May 2017. 

In 'Abi's Neighbour', Abi Carter has finally found happiness in beautiful Cornwall, with her old tin miner’s cottage proving the perfect home. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door… Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. She’s obnoxious, stuck-up, and hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, she seems to have designs on Abi’s boyfriend Max…
But Cassandra has her own problems. Her wealthy lawyer lover has promised to leave his wife and join her in their Cornish love nest – but something always comes up. Now, not only is Cassandra stuck on her own, miles away from her city lifestyle, but someone seems intent on sabotaging her successful business. Will she mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are the two just destined not to get along?

P.J. Reed's senryu poetry collection, 'Flicker' is due out in April 2017.

'Flicker' is a collection of senryu poems providing flickers or moments in the curious lives of the people she has met on her travels throughout Devon.

Regarding Poetry Performance Anxiety

February 1, 2017

When I started writing a few scribbles on the backs of receipts, odd leaflets and various bits of paper that I had found wedged into the darkest corners of my handbag, I was happy, young and innocent. I had no idea where such insidious actions would lead. Three poetry collections later and the realisation hit me like a lightening bolt. In fact, it was probably more painful than being hit by a bolt of lightning, just a small one mind you.

I would have to read my work to a live audience, a dead audience would be preferable but they are a notoriously bad audience for selling poetry books too. Therefore, I had to stumble out from behind my writing desk after many years of being a full-time single parent and talk to grown-ups about grown-up things.

It really didn’t sound like me at all. I had zero performance background and two children who assured me, in no uncertain terms, that no one in this universe at least, would ever be interested in my work.

So with a sharpened point to prove I attended my first event.

I hyperventilated until it was my turn to perform several haiku from my latest collection ‘Haiku Yellow.’ I was wearing my daughter’s fringed kimono-effect top, so I thought at the very least, I looked slightly cool. Unfortunately, the cool effect vanished when my reading glasses became caught up in the fringe. I could not untangle them in time,  so had to do my whole reading with my entrapped glasses shoved between my legs, squinting at the pages of a book I could not see.

On a positive note, I thought things could only really go up from then on. So I held a book signing. I ditched the fringe for the archetypal author scarf which seemed quite harmless. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise was that people ould come, buy the books and talk to you at the same time but I was optimistic. I thought I could do this! And then Things got messy.

I ditched the fringe for the archetypal author scarf which seemed quite harmless. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise was that people would come, buy the books hand you change, and talk to you at the same time but I was optimistic. I thought I could do this! It’s only selling books. And then things got messy.

My daughter with A’Level maths, got bored and wandered off for a chocolate cake break.

The book I wasn’t promoting ‘The Wicked Come‘ sold out. A man stood in front of me holding the last copy triumphantly in his hands waiting for me to sign it. I definitely signed it… just with ‘Happy Birthday’ which wasn’t really right but he accepted it with the expectation that in 6 months time he would achieve another birthday.

A man stood in front of me holding the last copy triumphantly in his hands waiting for me to sign it. I definitely signed it… just with ‘Happy Birthday’ which wasn’t really right but he accepted it with the expectation that in 6 months time he would achieve another birthday.

A  kind looking woman gave me the correct change for ‘Haiku Yellow‘ and left quite happily. Until I chased after her with a lot of change she clearly did not require. Then she looked most confused, looked at me as if I was slightly insane and positively ran for the door.

But at least no one got hurt at the book signing and I am pleased to report that my glasses remained secure throughout the proceedings.

For those brave enough, my books are found on my author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00MPP40QI and another strange book signing is coming this summer.

Book Events 2017

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Book Events 2016

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