Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ESSEX POETRY FESTIVAL 2010 - 23rd September - 9th October

At the top is Victor Tapner, Derek Adams and Anita Marie Sackett, all are well known Essex poets. Anita, is back home from the SWWJ weekend conference to take part in the National Poetry Day which has the theme of 'Home' this year, and poetry is making itself at home in Essex for the sixteen days of the Essex Poetry Festival. Here are a few of the great poets to be seen in Essex during the coming month. George Szirtes and Annie Freud are also appearing. Many of the poets taking part already call Essex home, twenty-three of the thirty five featured poets either live or were born in Essex.

The festival started with a double whammy on September 23rd. At the Greyhound Pub in Wivenhoe, the hugely entertaining André Mangeot (Cambridge) performed with local poet Peter Johnson for poetrywivenhoe. At Rayleigh library five Southend based spoken word artists, Simon Blackman, Stuart Bowditch, Jo Overfield, Ray Morgan and Cherryl Scott, known collectively as the Sundown Poets delivered an evening of stand-up poetry.

The festival plays away from home on October 1st. Three poets, Susan Grindley, Katrina Naomi and Victor Tapner will take a taste of this year's festival to Lumen in Kings Cross, one of London's major poetry venues.

From October 2nd until the 8th, Essex libraries will be home to a series of readings and poetry writing events. Harlow (John Steer) and South Woodham Ferrers (Anita Marie Sackett) will have poetry writing activities for children (7 to 12 years). Events with local schools will take place at Colchester (Sally Festing & Caroline Phillips). Shenfield (Anita Marie Sackett) and Witham (Anne Welsh). There will be readings from poets at Canvey (Adrian Green & Denis Ahern), Hullbridge (Derek Adams & Tim Cunningham) and Rochford (Clare Harvey & Mervyn Linford). Poets will be reading from their work and leading poetry writing workshops at Billericay (Tim Cunningham), Dunmow (Alex Smith) & Walton (Roz Hall).

October 6th, award winning poets Judy Brown and Katrina Naomi (recently poet in residence at the Bronte Parsonage Museum), will be guests of the Southend Poetry Group, at the Naval and Military Club, Southend.

The Essex Poetry Festival culminates with a day of events on October 9th at the Cramphorn theatre in Chelmsford. In the morning the Mayor will be handing out the prestigious Essex Young Poet of the Year Award.

In the afternoon there will be the chance for you to perform on the festival stage at the popular open Mic spot. Poet Clare Crossman and singer-songwriter Penni Mclaren Walker together with musician Bryan Caulston are Fensong, with their unique mix of poems and songs that tell modern folktales of the Fens. Victor Tapner from Billericay will be reading from his new book ' Flatlands' in the Essex poets slot, along with Susan Grindley (Leigh) and Kayo Chingongi (Dagenham). The evening starts with competition judge Kathryn Simmonds handing out the £1000 first prize to the winner of the 10th Essex Poetry Festival Open Poetry competition, and reading from the prize winners. The evening is rounded off with performances from three of the countries best contemporary poets, expect lyrical dexterity, sly erotica and absurdist humour from George Szirtes, Annie Freud and Luke Kennard.

Ask for a festival leaflet at you local library or visit the festival website www.essex-poetry-festival.co.uk Further info: www.essex-poetry-festival.co.uk email derek@essex-poetry-festival.co.uk Tel 07985 617559

Monday, September 27, 2010


So many of our SWWJ friends are recovering this morning from one of our best Weekend Conferences. It was exhilarating, but exhausting! This was organised by Jean Morris, Pamela Birley and her team for this extra special event which included the centenary celebration of Joyce Grenfell's birth (our former president), the Guide Guide organisation and the launch in 1910 of our super magazine, then called The Woman Journalist. Here are a few images taken over the weekend. Our chairman, Jean Morris is pictured with the President of Lucy Cavendish College, Professor Janet Todd. Also pictured are Felix Francis (son of Dick) with Zoe King and Jean Morris, Patrick Forsyth with SWWJ Secretary Pamela Birley, and Frances Clamp, Pat Pound and Marina Moffatt, plus more delegates. We loved Jenny Rose who judged the Joyce Grenfell competition, producing a winner of the Monologue Competition who was Robbie Grieve.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Chairman of SWWJ (pictured top) is looking forward to welcoming members to Cambridge this weekend. Professor Janet Todd is hosting this weekend conference which celebrates our fabulous 116-year-old organisation for writing women (and, since 2006 - male associates). We will be gathering at Lucy Cavendish College in Cambridge. On Saturday evening, Professor Todd (pictured right) will be presenting a talk based on Jane Austen's life.

This weekend, under the chairmanship of Jean Morris, is rather special in that we also celebrate the centenary of the birth of Joyce Grenfell, that wonderful actress/TV celebrity and president of the SWWJ for 22 years until her death in 1979. Currently, our life president is Baroness Shirley Williams with Nina Bawden CBE as our president. Our patrons include, Sir Tim Rice, Simon Brett, Lord Randolph Quirk, The Earl of Stockton, among other luminaries. My book THE WOMAN WRITER was written with Joyce Grenfell's special birthday in mind and will be sold at the Weekend Conference.

The delegates are coming from around the world and we have interesting speakers attending, such as Felix Francis (son of the famous Dick Francis), Jenny Rose, who appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe who will be performing a Joyce Grenfell monologue, Patrick Forsyth, Lynne Hackles, Paddy Gormley and other literary stars. It's going to be fun. http://www.austenps.com/life_and_times.html

Monday, September 20, 2010



Saturday, September 18, 2010


Back in the spring I reviewed Nick Ardley’s book Salt Marsh & Mud published by Amberley Publications which has since become a best seller in East Anglia. Now, Nick has written a sequel.

You don’t need to be a sailor or even to particularly like boats to enjoy Nick’s current book MUDLARKING (Thames Estuary Cruising Yarns). In Nick’s introduction he says:

“This is a quiet and gentle meander by a skipper and a mate sailing in their wooden, clinker sloop, around the coastline of East Anglia. As they weave through the marshland environment that pervades this idyllic watering world, from North Kent to Suffolk, they take time to look around them as they sail. They observe the topography and history of places visited and passed by… Within the Thames archipelago, Numerous rivers and creeks indent the land. They creep up shallow sunken valleys, passing huge modern ports and bustling towns…… Little waterside hamlets, old farm wharves and vibrant, modern marinas mingle sleepily…

Nick’s tales tucked between the covers of this 224 pages will appeal to anyone with an interest in the history of Essex and wildlife of this fascinating area of the country. www.amberley-books.com ISBN 978 1 84868 492 8 £16.99

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


What a super-duper broadcasting day yesterday when author Elizabeth Victoria Wallace arose at dawn in Denver to speak to Phoenix FM Presenter Michelle Ward! The occasion was Michelle's special lunchtime programme EAT YOUR LUNCH. (7 hours difference). Michelle, who is a good friend to all our local writers as well as to our many mutual creative friends, presented Elizabeth’s latest book FORBIDDEN over the airwaves to her listeners. It was a brilliant interview which came over clearly and can be heard (and read) on the www.Phoenix FM programme. Needless to say, Elizabeth’s exciting historical thriller is destined for the top sale slot and can be bought via Amazon as well as in most good bookshops including Waterstone’s around Britain.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Among the Society of Women Writers & Journalists is Ann Ladbury, that well known doyenne of TV fashion programmes. For more than 18 years through her programmes, she taught many of us to sew, a useful craft we still use today. Ann became the Society's chairman in 1986. With her super personality, appearance and skill with a needle, she achieved huge success with her own television programmes. Ann wrote twenty books, appeared in five BBC series, two ITV series and hosted her own afternoon TV magazine Houseparty for Southern Television. Moving to Yorkshire from Suffolk last year, we find her still creating gorgeous clothes, and now she lectures and is settling well into her new home. She is pictured above left, with Clare Rayner and Nina Bawden (our present SWWJ President). You can see some of Ann's films on www.annladbury.com and on the film clips on BBC/Ann Ladbury.

Monday, September 06, 2010


4 September 2010 on the occasion of air cadets of Essex wing attended the 150 year celebration of cadets in Great Britain at Carver Barracks at Wimbush near Saffron Walden in Essex. This coincided with the Air Cadets annual wing parade where the squadrons competed for various competitions. 2393 (Billericay) squadron won the coveted drill trophy and will go forward to represent the Essex Wing at the regional competition in Surrey in October 2010. Their training and dedication to the task is to be applauded. Well done 2393!

Friday, September 03, 2010


Check back in my index (top left-hand column) to see my earlier reviews of city-pick books by Malcolm Burgess and Heather Reyes. Absolutely brilliant! Their latest book ties in with the National Gallery’s Venice: Canaletto and his Rivals exhibition from October 2010 – January 2011– the biggest Venetian show since 1967! city-pick Venice: Edited by Heather Reyes ISBN: 978 0 9559700 8 5, £8.99 paperback Pictured are Malcolm, good friend Oliver Rowe from Pheonix FM in Brentwood, Essex - and of course, Heather.

I quote a few reviews: “The latest addition to this admirable series … makes any visit to La Serenissima more flavoursome’ The Bookseller, November Editor’s Pick, 6 August 2010, ‘Superb … It’s like having your own iPad loaded with different tomes, except with the best passages, bite-sized chunks, just perfect to dip into” The Times

From arriving in Venice by sea with Jan Morris and crossing the ominous Bridge of Sighs with Casanova … to getting under the skin of the Biennale with Geoff Dyer and learning about Venice the hard way with Bidisha … from taking a sultry summer gondola ride with Thomas Mann and climbing up to San Marco’s horses with Sally Vickers’ Miss Garnett … to hearing all about the city from Venetian residents Tiziano Scarpa and novelist and palazzo owner Michelle Lovric, and much, much more … Together with a fascinating introduction to the wealth and range of Venetian writing by Jeff Cotton, creator of the Fictional Cities website.

city-pick Venice is the latest title in the ‘wonderful’ (The Guardian), ‘impressive’ (Sunday Telegraph) and ‘excellent’ (Conde Nast Traveller) city-pick series, featuring some of the best-ever writing about favourite world cities for lovers of brilliant writing and travellers alike. Titles already published in the series include Paris, London, Berlin, Dublin and Amsterdam. www.oxygenbooks.co.uk