A big thank you to everyone who made this year’s NAWE conference in York such a wonderful experience. It’s always friendly, supportive and full of exciting ideas. I’m here with NAWE’s energetic Director, poet Seraphima Kennedy, and Jane Moss of ‘Joined up writers’, who is currently creating collaborative novels with students and in her own community. I was glad to share my experience of being a local laureate with the conference and to take part in a York launch of the much-praised Giant Steps poetry anthology (eds. Paul Munden & Shane Strange).
Honoured to be invited to take part in the launch of Portsmouth Poets’ exciting new venture: ‘Away with Words’ on Monday 21st October. Join us if you can.
October 4th – 6th
The search for Hampshire Poet 2020 has begun!
Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) is working in partnership with Winchester Poetry Festival (WPF) to deliver the 2020 Hampshire Poet Laureate programme. The Hampshire Poet programme has been running every two years since 2008 and was last held by Robyn Bolam in 2018.
The position of Hampshire Poet provides the opportunity for a Hampshire based poet (resident in and/or working in the county) to undertake commissions, lead workshops and give readings and talks throughout the county, and to act as an advocate for poetry and poets. Opportunities have been identified throughout 2020 for the Hampshire Poet to play a significant role, providing the poet with the chance to create new work, engage members of the community and connect to planned activities taking place across the county during the year.
- Application deadline: Friday 15 November
- Interviews undertaken: Thursday 12 December
- Commission: January – December 2020
This will be a wonderful opportunity for a lucky Hampshire poet. Don’t forget the deadline!
Thank you, once again, to the Royal Literary Fund for showcasing a podcast of mine:
It’s about writers who influenced me. Please listen if you have 3 minutes to spare!
I’m very happy to have two new poems in this exciting anthology alongside the work of poets from all over the world which includes poems by Maggie Butt, Anne Caldwell, Maura Dooley, Philip Gross, Ian McMillan, Helen Mort, Mario Petrucci and others.
Wednesday 12th June
The wonderful Royal Literary Fund have released this podcast of mine today:
It’s called ‘Why I Write’. Please listen if you have 3 minutes to spare!
Sunday, 9th June
Here we all are in Fitzroy House, Lewes for the launch of the beautifully illustrated anthology, Pale Fire: New Writing on the Moon which is full of fascinating poems by Grace Nichols, George Szirtes, Janet Sutherland, Maggie Harris, Maggie Butt, Clare Best, Chris Sykes, Jeremy Page, Kay Syrad and others – available from The Frogmore Press.
Thursday 6 June 3pm at Cosham Library, Portsmouth, PO6 3EB
Robyn Bolam writes about surviving in difficult circumstances, love and loss, change in the natural world and places and societies. She is originally from Northumberland but now lives and works in Hampshire and is the Hampshire Poet.Community Conversations is a project which explores how poetry can facilitate conversations across communities. A selection of poems written by members of the refugee and asylum-seeking community will be touring to libraries around Portsmouth until September 2019.
Sunday 9th June
POETRY & ALL THAT JAZZ
Upstairs at the John Harvey Tavern, Bear Yard, Cliffe High Street, Lewes, BN7 2AN
Sunday, 9th June, 4.30-6pm
Enjoy a delightful mix of words and music at the launch of Poetry & All That Jazz magazine which brings together leading poets with South Downs writers, plus jazzy guitar from Brighton Festival Award winner Geoff Robb.
The 2019 edition includes great poems from Louis de Bernieres, Frieda Hughes, Penelope Shuttle and many fine writers. Readers include Robyn Bolam and Charlotte Gann. Part of the South Downs Poetry Festival. www.sdpf.org.uk
Free entrance (with a drink purchased from the Tavern)
I’m very happy to have my poem, ‘In the Spaces Between’ – about the work of painter and print-maker Elizabeth Blackadder – included in this special exhibition that runs until 12th June. Thank you to Hampshire Cultural Trust and to students of Ashwood Academy who let me work with them in relation to the exhibition.
NEW EXHIBITION AT BASINGSTOKE’S WILLIS MUSEUM TO SHOWCASE ONE OF THE UK’S MOST CELEBRATED ARTISTS
An exhibition celebrating the career of Dame Elizabeth Blackadder opens on 29 March 2019
An exhibition celebrating the long and distinguished career of Dame Elizabeth Blackadder will open at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke on 29 March 2019. Elizabeth Blackadder: From the Artist’s Studio will give art lovers and novices alike a chance to familiarise themselves with Dame Elizabeth’s broad and fascinating work from a career spanning six decades. Aged 87, Blackadder’s long and distinguished career began in the mid-1950s and has continued undimmed into the 21st century.
Blackadder is not a person who has ever courted celebrity, but she is undoubtedly one of Britain’s greatest living artists. She was the first woman to be elected both to the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy and in 2001, she was given the prestigious title of Her Majesty’s Painter and Limner in Scotland. The exhibition will reveal Blackadder’s diversity and skill as an artist, with a selection which includes some of her early landscapes, several of her perfectly pitched still lifes and some fine examples of her work in watercolour. Her career as a print maker is also represented by a selection of etchings reflecting both her travels in Italy and Japan and also by several prints featuring cats.
“We are receiving works from Elizabeth’s own archive and studio, plus a tapestry kindly loaned to us from the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation in London, as well as loans from Glasgow Print Studio. The works are from across her entire career, covering all periods and all mediums. This will be a fantastic exploration of her work,” says Jenny Stevens, Venue Manager at the Willis Museum.
With over 30 works on display at the Willis Museum, which is operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, Elizabeth Blackadder: From the Artist’s Studio will highlight the breadth of her extensive and distinguished career. Also included in the exhibition is a specially commissioned poem by Robyn Bolam, Hampshire Poet Laureate 2018, written in response to Dame Elizabeth Blackadder’s work.
There will also be the chance to become inspired by Blackadder’s works and to create a masterpiece in a series of workshops with guest artist Isabel Hurley. Family art workshops take place on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 April 2019 and there are also adult masterclasses taking place on Saturday 27 and Tuesday 30 April. For full details and how to book, visit: www.hampshireculture.org.uk/willis-museum.
Elizabeth Blackadder: From the Artist’s Studio can be seen for free (suggested donation £3) at the Willis Museum, Basingstoke from 29 March- 12 June 2019.
Thank you to everyone on the ‘Finding a distinctive voice’ poetry course at West Dean College, Sussex; it was a great pleasure to work with you 29-31st – even losing an hour didn’t diminish your enthusiasm!
Review of Anecdotal Evidence by Wendy Cope (Faber, 2018) in The Lake:
Copies of the Young Wordsmiths’ poetry anthology, 6.45pm, are available from: http://www.winchesterpoetryfestival.org/shop/WPF-Products-c21199033 for £2!
Good Luck to all these talented young poets in the future. It was a privilege to work with you.
Photo credit: Gilbert Yates, courtesy of Winchester Poetry Festival
28th November 2018
Thanks to the very warm and welcoming audience of Friends of the Red House Museum and guests at Priory House, Christchurch, who braved the wind and rain to hear about Dorset and Hampshire poets, past and present. May you continue to be inspired and to support poetry in the region.
27th October 2018
Ideas for Inspiration Poetry Workshop
Saturday 27th October 2018 10am – 12.30.
Forest Arts, Old Milton Road, New Milton, Hampshire, BH25 6DS
Tel. 01425 619983
This is part of the first New Milton literary festival, ‘Play on Words’
(12 Oct – 4 November)
4th October 2018
Congratulations to all the winners and commended poets in the WinACC Young Poets’ Competition who read their work so well at the prize-giving event at the University of Winchester on 4th October. An anthology of the winning and commended poems, Changing the World, is available from Winchester Poetry Festival.
Congratulations, too, to everyone who took part in the Young Wordsmiths project event for Winchester Poetry Festival on 4th October. Their anthology, 6.45pm, is also available and includes some of the many striking poems they have created since April. These seventeen young poets, from five Hampshire schools, threw themselves into the project with energy and enthusiasm and I’m sure you’ll hear more about them in the future through Winchester Poetry Festival.
Photo credit: Gilbert Yates, courtesy of Winchester Poetry Festival
This month I’m judging the WinACC (Winchester Action on Climate Change) Young Poets’ Competition and editing a poetry anthology for the Young Wordsmiths Project. Come along to see and hear the results of the competition at the Performance Gymnasium, University of Winchester, on National Poetry Day, Thursday 4th October at 4pm.
These talented young poets (and others not pictured) will be performing their work at a special event to launch their anthology. Please support them on 4th October at 6pm-7.30pm, in the Performance Gymnasium, Bowers Building, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, SO224NR.
July 18th 2018
Poetry Corner is a relatively new venture in Lymington, led by Sarah Standage (in the lemon top). A small group of poetry lovers meet each Wednesday at 10.30 in the Choir Vestry at St Thomas’s Church to read poems they’ve read or written. I enjoyed their company and lively discussion very much.
The weekend of 5th-8th July saw another wonderfully successful Lymington Arts Festival, thanks to Helen Talbot, Melvyn Gates and others. It was a pleasure to read with Lydia Fulleylove at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery on Friday 6th July. Many thanks to everyone who came and to the staff of St Barbe.
It was very good to read with the admirable Canadian poet, journalist, editor and non-fiction writer, Mark Abley at the Argo in Montreal, a very special book shop with exceptional managers – thank you Moti! The Argo is the oldest independent Anglophone bookstore in Montreal and is greatly loved.
June 17th 2018
Thanks to Tom Bennett for capturing some special T&G moments at the Hyem launch in Portsmouth – with Denise Bennett and John Haynes
TONGUES & GROOVES
May 22nd 2018
Thank you to Hampshire Cultural Trust and the staff of Alton Library for helping to make ‘Walking into the Picture: a poetry workshop inspired by the work of W.H. Allen’ a special afternoon – and thank you to everyone who took part and created such good poems.
April 22nd 2018
I enjoyed being interviewed by Nick Girdler on his Sunday BBC Radio Solent show, a little after 9.30:
It’s always good to talk about poetry – and Nick plays good music too!
Welcome to the Young Wordsmiths of Hampshire, who are about to begin a series of workshops with me for a Winchester Poetry Festival project that will give them the opportunity to perform some of their work at the Festival on National Poetry Day, 4th October. Watch out for details!
March 29th 2018
It was a great pleasure to meet Tessa Ditner and all the dedicated members of Portsmouth Writers’ Hub. Thank you for inviting me along to tell some ‘Stories of Poems’.
Special thanks to Portsmouth-born, Kay Cotton, who came all the way from Normandy and brought me her moving collection of poems, The Key to Number Three (Indigo Dreams, 2018), in memory of the poet, Elizabeth Bewick, who was always an inspiration and a dear friend.
19th March 2018
A big thank you to Julian Stannard for hosting my reading at Winchester University – and to everyone who braved the snow to give me a warm welcome!
I really appreciate having my poem, ‘Starving after long rain, the barn owl hunts again’ on the beautifully designed website ‘Words for the Wild’ at:
This is a wonderful place to find poems and short fiction ‘rooted in the countryside’.
I’m very happy to have been chosen as ‘Hampshire Poet 2018’ by Hampshire Cultural Trust and look forward to working with young people from five Hampshire schools on the ‘Young Wordsmiths’ project from April, as well as meeting poets and poetry lovers at readings and workshops across Hampshire in the coming months.
For more information, please go to: https://www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/hampshire-poet-2018
If you live in Hampshire or surrounding counties and are on Facebook, you might like to join the Hampshire Poetry Hub for news of poetry events, competitions, writing ideas and discussions:
Poetry & Prose Open Mic Night, Forest Arts
There was a wonderful variety of lively prose and poetry at New Milton on Thursday night, expertly hosted by Peter Hitchens.
Thank you for the warm welcome – and to Emma Jolly for the photos!
Happy New Year!
Thank you to Carol Rumens for choosing my poem, ‘Moving On’ for Guardian Poem of the week:
November 11th 2017
New poetry collection, Hyem, was launched in York on Saturday! Thank you to everyone who came.
It was also special to be part of the launch for the anthology, Metamorphic: 21st century poets respond to Ovid, at the National Association of Writers in Education’s 30th conference.
It was wonderful to share publication day (26th October) for fourth Bloodaxe poetry collection, Hyem, with lovely relatives from Canada. My cousin, Elsa Bolam, is with me here. Elsa founded Geordie Productions, a touring theatre company based in Montreal. She’s proved that roots can be stretched a very long way – an idea at the heart of Hyem, which will be launched at the NAWE conference in York at 5.45 on Saturday 11th November.
Other launches and readings are in the pipeline for 2018 – in London (Twickenham), Portsmouth (Tongues & Grooves), Chichester and the Isle of Wight.
Many thanks to Neil Astley and the Bloodaxe team.
Alison Hill’s fascinating anthology, Fifty Ways to Fly, brought Matt West, Maggie Sawkins, Alison, Stephen Boyce and myself together to read with Denise Bennett and others at the Square Tower Portsmouth for Tongues & Grooves on 17 September – with memorable music by Fly Away Peter. It’s sold in support of the British Women Pilots’ Association: http://www.BWPA.co.uk
Many thanks to Paul Armfield (above) for hosting a Ferry Tales farewell at Quay Arts Newport on August 8th – and to Lydia Fulleylove, JC Grimshaw and Dom Prag for another special Ferry Tales evening.
Our anthology has sold out now, but CDs are available!
Visit the Ferry Tales Exhibition in the Community Room at Lymington Library, 6th-8th July, and please join us (with guest poet, Maggie Sawkins) on Friday 7th July at 7pm for a lively evening of original music and voices at the United Reformed Church on Lymington High Street. Both events are free.
Please join us if you can as we celebrate our year of ferry trips and poetry and song-writing workshops in Solent ports. A big thank you to both Red Funnel and Wightlink and to all the ferry passengers who gave us words that turned into poems. Through our Facebook page: Facebook/com: ferrytalesproject others joined in from further away – thank you for your poems and photos too! If you’d like to find out more about the project, please go to: http://www.ferrytales.org
Thank you, too, to everyone who came to our event on 22nd on the Isle of Wight. It was a wonderful day! If you missed it and you’d like to hear the music and read some poems, thanks to Arts Council England and the National Lottery, our CD and anthology are available through the Ferry Tales website (above).
A very exciting time – singer-songwriters JC Grimshaw and Dom Prag recording the Ferry Tales CD of their own ‘Songs of Sea and Travel’ with some lyrics by participants in Robyn & Dom’s song-writing workshops. Come along to Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, on Saturday 22nd April to hear them play as we launch the Ferry Tales Exhibition there.
Fifty Ways to Fly
Alison Hill has edited a fascinating anthology, Fifty Ways to Fly, sold in support of the British Women Pilots’ Association (published by Rhythm & Muse). Check out Alison’s website for details. Contributors include Robyn, Stephen Boyce, Ian Duhig, Paul McLoughlin, John Murphy, Rosemary Norman, Maggie Sawkins, Susan Utting and many more.
Robyn spreading the word about the Ferry Tales Project at the National Association of Writers in Education Conference in Stratford-on-Avon:
Review of The Poems of Basil Bunting, ed. Don Share (Faber, 2016) in The Lake:
THE FERRY TALES PROJECT
FREE Poetry and Song-writing workshops with ROBYN BOLAM and DOM PRAG – for those whose lives have been impacted by illness –
at the Coates Centre, Lymington, Hampshire:
18th & 25th October, 10am-1pm
to book , call: 01590 677198 www.thecoatescentre.co.uk
Hampshire Cultural Trust Heritage Open Day Poetry Reading
at River Cottage Canteen, Winchester, on 15th September at 7pm with
Isobel Rogers (Hampshire Poet, 2016) Robyn Bolam and Stephen Boyce
(Thanks to painter-poet Hugh Greasley and to former Hampshire poet, Joan McGavin for the photos of this happy event.)
Lymington Arts Festival
Friday 8 July at 5.30pm Poetry, Painting and Song
Launching the Ferry Tales Project,
poets Robyn Bolam and Lydia Fulleylove will read
from and talk about their work in relation to the
Annual St Barbe Open Exhibition. They will be joined by
acclaimed singer-songwriter, Paul Armfield.
St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery, Lymington.
FREE ENTRY to event. Standard admission charges apply for the exhibition.
Thursday 7 July at 6pm
Robyn will join Cassandra Clark, historical novelist and ‘mistress of the medieval whodunnit’, in ‘Magic, Myth and Mayhem’: on writing history in fiction and poetry
at WATERSTONES, 105-106 High Street, SO41 9AP
Winchester Writers’ Festival
The Winchester Writers‘ Festival will take place at the University of Winchester.
Two poems, ‘Basil Bunting’s Shadow’ and ‘Between Four and Five o’clock, 10th August 1628, Stockholm Harbour’ published in Two Thirds North, 2016 http://www.twothirdsnorth.com
Review of Christopher Reid’s The Curiosities (Faber, 2015) http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/reviews/march16/
The Power of Place in poetry, fiction and inspiration at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival. Cassandra Clark, ‘the mistress of the medieval whodunnit’; acclaimed prize-winning poets Robyn Bolam and Lydia Fulleylove; Wendy K. Harris, author of the popular ‘Undercliff Novels’ set on the Isle of Wight, and multi-talented writer, Brian Hinton, will read from and talk about their work on Friday 16th October at 2.30pm. All have been praised for their ability to convey a powerful sense of place. Between them they will take you from northern Britain down to the Isle of Wight and right across the world. These writers support Dimbola Museum & Galleries, a venue that celebrates the work of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and artists of today. http://www.isleofwightliteraryfestival.org
Review of Clive James’s Sentenced to Life (Picador, 2015) www.thelakepoetry.co.uk
Reading at The English Bookshop, Stockholm, on the day of its re-opening in its new location, Södermannagatan 22
Robyn with Christer Valdeson in his welcoming English Bookshop
Robyn with Paul Schreiber, Senior Editor of the innovative and truly international journal of new writing, Two Thirds North, during a visit to Stockholm this month. Check it out at: http://www.twothirdsnorth.com
Royal Literary Fund Podcasts
The Royal Literary Fund release a new podcast every week on their website. This week, if you go to: http://www.rlf.org.uk/writersaloud/
you can listen to poet Julia Copus interviewing Robyn about her anthology of four hundred years of women’s poetry, Eliza’s Babes (Bloodaxe). Scroll down a little more and you’ll find another podcast by Robyn about Roots, geographical and emotional. This is paired with one by the writer, Kapka Kassabora, on exile.
The Power of Place
The Power of Place: writers Robyn Bolam, Cassandra Clark, Lydia Fulleylove, Wendy K. Harris and Brian Hinton will read from and talk about their work at Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight on Thursday 28th May at 5.15pm. Refreshments available before the event. All welcome.
This is a free event but donations to the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust will be appreciated.
Robyn also runs the Royal Literary Fund’s ‘Reading Round’ here and would like to meet anyone interested in joining the group from September. Please contact her via her website: http://www.robynbolam.com
Historical novelist, Cassandra Clark, ‘the mistress of the medieval whodunnit’, is the author of eight thrilling, carefully researched novels and a skilled evoker of known places, from northern Britain to medieval Europe. http://www.cassandraclark.co.uk
Wendy K. Harris’s ‘’Undercliff Novels’ , set on the Isle of Wight, have been praised for their ‘stunning sense of place’ as well as being compelling narratives which inspire her readers to visit the island she evokes so vividly. http://www.wendykharris.com
Author of three acclaimed poetry collections published by Bloodaxe Books, Robyn Bolam has been described as ‘a poet of spirit and a poet of place’. Her latest work is concerned with the concept of ‘home’ and links between her native north and the south, where she now lives. http://www.robynbolam.com
Prize-winning poet, Lydia Fulleylove’s second collection, Estuary, published in October 2014 by Two Ravens Press, tells the story of a year on the estuary of the Western Yar on the Isle of Wight, using poems, diary extracts and visual images from artist Colin Riches. http://www.lydiafulleylove.co.uk
Poet Brian Hinton is also the author of more than thirty books about literature, music, writers and place. As writer, researcher, curator, editor and actor, he has supported and promoted the arts on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere for many years. He is Chairman and Curator of Dimbola Museum and Galleries.
Two of Robyn’s poems (‘Beyond Men’ and ‘Two Springs’) are included in an exciting new sound recording piece, Voices Returning, for the Bloodaxe ‘Poetics of the Archive Project’. This is a celebration of fourteen women poets with north-east connections by Bernadette McAloon and Wendy Smith and you can listen to it at: http://bloodaxe.ncl.ac.uk/explore/index.html#/research/POA1BM5
The poets are: Frances Horovitz, Fleur Adcock, Anne Stevenson, Jackie Litherland, Robyn Bolam, Jill Maughan, Cynthia Fuller, Ellen Phethean, Katrina Porteous, Gillian Allnutt, Linda France, Julia Darling, Jackie Kay and Colette Bryce.
Review of Alison Hill’s Slate Rising (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2014) www.thelakepoetry.co.uk
9 October at 7.30pm. Guest poet for Wight Words at Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight – with storyteller, Eltjo de Vries, singer-songwriter, Catherine Cameron Martin and much more…
4 October at 4pm. Reading with The Spring Poets (Chris Sparkes, Marianne Barber and John Haynes are pictured here) in St Faith’s Church, Havant, for the Havant Literature Festival.
2 October at 7.30pm. Reading with Joan McGavin (Hampshire Poet 2014) at Hythe Library for National Poetry Day.
12 September at 5.00pm. Reading at Winchester Discovery Centre, Performance Hall with Stephen Boyce, John Haynes, Nick MacKinnon, Joan McGavin, Maggie Sawkins and Julian Stannard for the Winchester Poetry Festival. http://www.winchesterpoetryfestival.org
New poem, ‘Northern Home Front’ in The Arts of Peace, ed. Adrian Blamires & Peter Robinson (Two Rivers Press/English Association)
Review of Deirdre Shanahan’s Recovery Position (Rack Press, 2014) www.thelakepoetry.co.uk
31 July at 7.30pm. Reading at Romsey Library with Stephen Boyce, Joan McGavin and Paul Gardner in the run-up to the Winchester Poetry Festival (September). Stephen’s latest collection, The Sisyphus Dog, was published this Spring and Joan is the 2014 Hampshire Poet and author of Flannelgraphs (2011). Paul’s poetry collection is Now and Then (2005).
An article, ‘Eliza’s Babes: using the skills, ideas and lives of women poets from earlier centuries to create new poetry of your own’, published in Writing in Education, issue no.62, Spring 2014, pp.28-31 [ISSN: 1361-8539]
The podcast of the Towards the Point programme is now available. Please see the Towards the Point Blog on Express FM’s website for full details.
Recording an interview with James Sandy and Dave Allen for Express FM (93.7) to be broadcast in Towards the Point (a monthly arts programme) on 31st March at 7pm. James and Dave are lively and interesting interviewers. Listen at http://www.expressfm.com
Review of John Agard’s Travel Light Travel Dark (Bloodaxe, 2013) www.thelakepoetry.co.uk
More poems inspired by the High Voltage Laboratory on the recently launched Litmus Project website: www.litmusprojectsouthampton.com (See under 2012, the year the project began)
New poem in Poetry Review, volume 103:4, Winter 2013, p.54: ‘Winter Solstice at the High Voltage Laboratory’.
Sunday 17th November National Association of Writers in Education Conference at York, Poetry workshop inspired by early women poets (www.nawe.co.uk)
Tuesday 12th November, 7pm Reading with Anne-Marie Fyfe at Garrick’s Temple on the Thames, Hampton (Richmond Literature Festival).
Monday 11th November, 6pm University of Winchester, Poetry Reading (contact: Joan McGavin)
Saturday 9th November Tongues & Grooves 10th Anniversary: Portsmouth Poetry Festival (reading and in conversation with James Sandy, Express FM)
Thursday 10th October, 7pm Poetry Reading with Stephanie Norgate and music by Les Kazoos d’Amour at Lymington Library.
Thursday 3rd October, 7.30pm Poetry Reading with Sylvia Oldroyd at Hythe Library.