Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #6

Of the four women in my Always There Awards, three are Scottish-born or working in Scottish poetry. Why? Just accident. But the Scottish scene is particularly vibrant, rich (and so it bloody well should be, with three languages to play with) and has a sense of community which the English scene could learn from, populatedContinue reading “Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #6”

Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #4

Deep in the bowels of the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham, is the secret weapon of the West Midlands and the UK writing scene. Who is this meek, mild-mannered man – arts manager by day, arts manager by night and poetry superhero? This man who squirms Englishly at any hint of a compliment, and isContinue reading “Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #4”

Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #3

Small publishers? Yawn. How we tire of hearing about their heroism, their hard work. Well, damn right. They are heroic and they are hard working and we should thank the small gods of poetry for them. It’s never been a harder or more exciting time to publish poetry. The presses that thrive are the onesContinue reading “Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #3”

Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #2

The second of my big yellow blobs goes to someone who, with his team, has done this to British poetry until it woke up rather startled, and shown it how to put on a live event. Who knew that we were allowed to have FUN? Who knew that poetry nights could be so loud thatContinue reading “Jo Bell’s Always There Awards #2”

Strange girls and poetry challenges

This strange girl, at least, was born to tell YOU what you missed this year in the world of poetry. Stand by for a mammoth blog, as I announce the Bell Jar awards for Lovely Poetic Things, 2011. Drum roll…… no, make that a cheese roll…. Best festival of the year? Well, you might thinkContinue reading “Strange girls and poetry challenges”


Here’s a thing: I feel fraudulent when I’m introduced as ‘the director of National Poetry Day’. Oh, I like the important-sounding title, and that is certainly my job description; but in truth, I don’t run National Poetry Day – not even the Forward Arts Foundation and our able PR team do that. You do, dearContinue reading “Celebrate!”

The nights are drawing in…

…and at Shambala, where flowers grow large and fine poets thrive, my festival season drew to a close. The poets included the tireless Dreadlockalien, topical Pete the Temp, regal Jean Binta Breeze and… er… me. Here are my legs, appearing (with me) on the Compass of Lunacy stage before an audience of chortling punters. IfContinue reading “The nights are drawing in…”