Writings and Witterings

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Congratulations Ade Couper – the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate

Four finalists battled for the laureateship yesterday and the judges reported a tough decision, but the one they made was fitting. Ade Couper delivered two splendid poems which set him up for a year as Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2021-2022.

Many congratulations, Ade.

Also, congratulations to all the successful Young Writers who entered the WLF Young Writer competition – many of their stories were read out and enjoyed by so many. They were lucky to have the good offices of Kevin Brooke, the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Youth Ambassador to introduce them to the competition and support them while entering.

Ade Couper


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Betti Moretti–Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2018

Betti Moretti–WPL 2018

Betti accepts her WPL trophy—Photo courtesy of Catherine Crosswell

Our new Worcestershire Poet Laureate (WPL) Betti Moretti. Congratulations to Betti and commiserations to the runners up Sarah Leavesley and Peter Sutton—a whisker between the three of them—we had a marvellous afternoon when Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe launched the 8th Worcestershire Literary Festival.

Nina and Betti have fun with WPL trophy

Betti ‘struggles’ to get her trophy from outgoing WPL Nina Lewis—what fun!—Photo courtesy of Catherine Crosswell


Better Late Than Never—LitFest Photos

My promise to post Worcestershire Literary Festival photos has been on the back-burner as I’ve been a bit busy looking after a friend who broke her ankle while on hols.

Here is a gallery of photos taken at the LitFest 2014—it gives a flavour of the fabulous time we enjoyed 🙂

Click on the images to see them full size.


Photos of LitFest Christmas Fayre

Was ever anyone so blessed? So many lovely people at the Christmas Fayre in 2013 🙂


LitFest Walk—There And Back Again

We had a wonderful day on the hills with our Poets in the Mist and a fab open mic session afterwards at The Malvern Hills Hotel—mega-thanks to all who contributed. There’s a full article beneath the slideshow below—first, here’s a copy of Gary Longden’s poem, which tells you all about our missing Poet Laureat …

‘A Laureate Goes Missing’

by Gary Longden

We’ve lost the Poet Laureate, she should be at the bench,
We’ve lost the Poet Laureate, a comely buxom wench.
She said she would be waiting, with wit and verse and rhyme,
She said she would be waiting, as we began to climb.
Perhaps she’s been absorbed in the mystic swirling mist?
Or perhaps, after a heavy night, she’s still comatose, still pissed?
She didn’t pay the car park charge – she’s pretty wild like that,
And if the parking attendant looms, she can charm him with her chat.
She wouldn’t stand for a parking fine – no official can browbeat her,
Because she uses poetic, not poxy parking metres.

The very first LitFest Walk with poets at strategic points on the Malvern Hills took place Sunday 21st October 2012. The event was immediately dubbed ‘Poets in the Mist’ as we all met at the British Camp car park surrounded by swirling fog. Some twenty-five walkers started the walk and followed the walk-leader, bright in a high-vis jacket. They were accompanied by many dogs and followed by late arrivals, the Austen family— therein lies a tale.

Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Maggie Doyle, was to have been the first poet ‘strategically placed’ on the first bench as the walk commenced. The walkers reached the bench…no Maggie. Mobile phones were extracted from deep pockets but no joy; no sign of the missing laureate—oh dear. All decided to walk on. Unbeknownst to them, some ten minutes earlier, the Malvern Gazette photographer abducted Maggie! He knew that she was to be situated on the bench, but no, he decided he needed a clearer ‘backdrop’ and took her, bad back and all, further up the hill—to the consternation of a very nice man who came to tell me that they’d gone to the right up the hill as opposed to left down the hill. When the Austen family arrived, they heard the very nice man and went to the right rather than the left and subsequently got their photos in the paper 🙂 Click the blue hyperlink to see the Malvern Gazette photo

In the meantime, I was in the car park pending the arrival of other late-comers. After a few minutes no one else arrived and I got bored. I set off up the hills after the walkers only to be accosted by said press photographer. ‘Oh!’ said he, ‘I’m glad to see you! Maggie’s up there and I’m a bit worried about her getting down again, it’s slippery.’ Following a brief conflab ‘bench, bad back’ etc, I went in search of Maggie. ‘Maggie! Maggie! Where are you!’ No reply. But then! A vision! There she was walking out of the mist towards me—phew!

Our poet at Clutter’s Cave (also known as Giant’s Cave / Waum’s Cave) was the caped Jenny Hope sporting a hare walking stick; her poetry is simply superb and she held us enthralled—other passers-by stopped to listen and a birthday party group also stopped to enjoy Jenny’s reading.

In warm blue tunic and cape—poetical garb for sure—our third poet was Anglo-Saxon specialist and actor, Math Jones. Again, the walkers were held spellbound as he gave them ‘Puck in Love’ on the way up and ‘The Magic Pig’ on the way back.

The poet occupying our furthest reach, ‘Poet’s Point’—actually one of the entrances to the archaic fort at Midsummer Hill—was Liz Hayden-Jones. Liz, an experienced walker, who had dressed for the weather, unmissable in a red and blue coat she was joined by poet Jennifer Boden with more wonderful poetry. Following a photo shoot the group walked back to find Maggie, finally, on the bench. Now it was time for The Malvern Hills Hotel, where the room was readied and waiting.

There were eighteen spectacular five-minute performances at The Malvern Hills Hotel. We had food and drink, a nice warm room downstairs just for us; a grand end to a fab day. Two of the children read their poetry, which was special. And you’ll have seen some of the poems written about Maggie’s escapades. Gary’s is repeated further up this page and here is Myfanwy Fox’s poem to be read out loud:

Lost Laureate

by Myfanwy Fox

We missed
Maggie Doyle, missed
in the mist;
there was no vist-
a. We thought she’d be pissed
off but she’d been kissed
by publiss-
ity; a tryst
ing our exist-
ing list
of poetry set in the midst
of mist
where wist-
ful missuses
might be missed
if you get the gist
I’ll desist.

‘Let’s do it again!’ I foolishly proposed, and they all went ‘Yes!’ So we’re thinking of a Midsummer Eve (21 June 2013) repeat of the walk ending on Midsummer Hill starting at 19:30, £5 each, no charge for children, all proceeds to LitFest, bring your own picnic and a poem to read out loud. Hope to see you there 🙂


LitFest Walk

English: The Malvern Hills (a designatated AON...

The Malvern Hills (a designated AONB) as viewed approaching the British Camp on Hereforshire Beacon (Iron Age earth works as seen on the left). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first ever LitFest Walk on the archaic tracks of the Malvern Hills will take place Sunday 21 October 2012.

Come one—come all—and have fun, get fit, and support the Worcestershire Literary Festival!

Meet at The British Camp car park at 11am for a walk to savour.

This walk generally takes 1-2 hours but this is, of course, dependent on the individual and the number of stops to write 🙂

Join us for a mapped walk, good company, stories and poetry on the Malvern Hills—discover something of the heritage we so often take for granted—walk archaic tracks—see Clutter’s Cave—Hangman’s Hill—Swinyard Hill—The Ridgeway—ind out about local history and enjoy stunning views over Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

No charge for children. Adults £5 each. All proceeds support the Worcestershire Literary Festival.

Maybe you’re not a walker…don’t let that stop you, you could always come along at around 1 o’clock to enjoy the ambience of the pub / hotel and perhaps join in by reading some of your own work or listening to that of others.

Our thanks to The Malvern Hills Hotel for their support of this event.

English: The Malvern Hills Hotel The Malvern H...

The Malvern Hills Hotel The Malvern Hills Hotel is on the A449 below the British Camp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Review—LitFest 42 Special with Adam Millard

Andrew Owens

42’s Andrew Owens introduced Polly Stretton the first performer of the evening.  Polly read three of her poems, Shadow of Fear, Spilt Milk, and He Drinks Blood.  Two are vampire poems and the other, Spilt Milk, is about a long-term homeless person in the city.

Polly Stretton

Tony Judge

Next on was Tony Judge, with an extract from his book The Whole Rotten Edifice set on the Russian Front in WWII – Marta prepares to fight, (pp.20-25), her colleague, Tanya, is killed ‘her quivering boots playing random drumbeats on the wood’ – a vivid description of life in the trenches with the protagonists held as ‘a pair of fledgling raptors’.  This reading made many in the audience want to read more and luckily Tony had brought along a few copies of the book, just in case!

Michael R. Brush

Andrew announced Michael R Brush, who read two short stories, The Skeleton in the Cupboard and The Good Scientist.  In the first a cabbie takes an elegant man, the wealthy Mountfell, to The Nichol – Mountfell is described as a man of ‘splendour’, and as such he needs help. It transpires that the young ostler he’s been bringing on has a foul temper and light fingers ‘but no longer’.  We mustn’t spoil the ending for others, so be there when Michael reads this one again!  The second The Good Scientist, in which the main character decides he must measure and experiment ways of leaving his money, was another entertaining read.

Time for a break and a catch up with friends. Everyone was invited to come along to other events in the festival including You Must Be Joking, Flash Fiction and the Poetry Slam and reminded  that it’s all in the programme, on the web and on Facebook.  Andrew handed over to Adam Millard, the speaker for the evening, to ‘Talk about Horror’.

Adam Millard

The first thing that Adam Millard said was ‘’write what you know’ doesn’t apply to Horror!’  He said that in the Horror genre, there are no boundaries, nothing is banned, nothing impossible, you write it, it is.  Like many Horror writers, Adam believes there to be a stigma in writing Horror, some writers deny ever having written Horror at the start of their writing careers despite evidence to the contrary. But, he said, ‘People like to be scared, people enjoy it’.  He is scared of spiders.

Adam discussed Mary Whitehouse and her attitude to Horror videos, so-called ‘video-nasties’ in the 70s & 80s and how he felt about the films, in which, he recalled, blood was cartoonish – ‘you could see the baked beans in some of them!’ – lots of these videos were banned but copied and at the age of ten, Adam used to see them even though they were ‘well-thumbed, rewound many times’.  They could be found at petrol stations and corner shops – the ‘Mary Whitehouse police’ confiscated films like Evil Dead II.  Some years later censorship was relaxed, though as we know some films are still censored.

Adam particularly likes J-Horror and said ‘No-one does Horror like the Japanese, there are some brilliant films coming out of Japan’ and he likes the original series of The Twilight Zone.  He really rates ‘the Stand’ by Stephen King and went on to talk about the major influence that King has had on his life ‘Misery’,  ‘Carrie’ and ‘The Shining’ are amongst his favourites – however, he identifies that even the best writers can have ‘off’ times and views Lawnmower Man as pretty bad.  On the subject of Stephen King books made into films, Adam commented that there have always been awful adaptations of books, when a movie strays too far from its roots it’s never good eg Phantom of the Opera, ‘there’s never been a good film made of Phantom’.

Adam Millard had some tips for writers:

  • Excessive gore is no good but you have to disgust the reader.
  • Google maps is brilliant, you can write a scene from Google maps so use it.
  • Comedy and Horror go so well together eg American Werewolf in London.

He believes we’re in the golden age of Horror with contemporary writers such as Laird Barron, Craig Saunders, Adam Millard, etc, lots of exciting Horror writing and, Adam said, print is not dead.

This was followed by an interesting and informative Q and A session.

Following a short break, Andrew Owens performed a fine story about a lake and a girl who visits.

Suz Winspear

Suz Winspear, second prize winner in this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition read her story about an election, in which an electioneer is drawn into a house by a woman …

Adam Millard then took to the stage again to give us a story about a picnic in which many distractions occur.  Birds attack and a family flee for their lives; reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, it took on another dimension.

Overall, an interesting evening with many different styles of writing showcased and it was a very great pleasure to meet Adam Millard.  Do come along to the next 42, 19:30 Wednesday 27 June, The Lunar Bar at the Swan with Two Nicks, just £3 entry – always an entertaining evening at 42.