Send your work on light years of travel

There are all sorts of routes to take. Your text could travel via the border radio, cd / dvd / print / along the information highway, You could set off Write Now from Darwen to Write Out Loud in Middleton, meeting up at Touchstones, Rochdale with fellow writers, via readings in Clitheroe, or or at The Wheatsheaf Library in Rochdale or with the well established Langley Writers, or Irwell Writers, to enjoy a quick natterjack, and to ensure that we never bury poetry we could take in readings in Clitheroe.
 
Good advice was given to me more than thirty years ago now by Hugh Moffatt, a great American songwriter of tracks like Old Flames and Rose Of My Heart. He told me that “when writing a text you must prepare that text for light years of travel.” For the first time in my life I took some good advice to heart and acted upon it. I was not famous enough, nor interesting enough to the media, not GOOD enough, then, as a writer to encourage any publisher to consider my work, but I vowed there and then that I would take every opportunity I could to get my work “out there”.
 
My very ordinary little folk group, Lendanear, recorded several of my songs on cassette and we started selling them at gigs here in the North West. It was about three years later that we received a call from a singer (Don Michael Samson) in California asking if he could record a song he’d heard on our tape called Old Black Guitar Case, and his version was heard by a singer in Iowa by Jeff McDonald who also recorded it, and who then went on to record three more of my songs over the next thirty odd years, like Four Songs For Sarah, and most recently The Road Or You. Through those singers, some of my songs have been heard live or on cd by thousands of people.
 
I once answered an advertisement to “ghost write” an autobiography of a “local celebrity”, who turned out to be a sufferer from dementia and bi polar disorder, who had been institutionalised thirty odd times in his seventy nine years. The book we wrote, Memoirs From Bedlam, (isbn  1901880 70 2) included an interview with his psychiatric nurse who then showed the book to her senior staff in the NHS. The book then sold as a case study into NHS outlets all over the country. My articles for magazines like Mailout and contributions to Never Bury Poetry, and several music magazines are read and discussed and passed on by lovers of arts and music and from there on I never know where my words will end up. A broadcast of Just Poets work on BBC Radio reaches far more people than even the best selling poetry book might reach, and, anyway, one such appearance was heard by Valerie Bloom, anthologist for publisher Pan MacMillan, who commissioned Just Poets work for the childrens’ poetry anthology A Twist In The Tale (isbn 0 330 39899 7).
 
I once met a couple on holiday in Lanzarote who recognised me from a photograph of Just Poets that had been in Lancashire Life earlier in the year, after the magazine had approached Just Poets to contribute a piece about famous Lancashire poets.
 
By accepting small commissions from local authorities in Blackburn, Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham, and Leeds to name a few, I have seen Just Poets’ works published in widely read Museum Brochures and displayed in exhibitions. By having the courage to put my work out there I have seen Just Poets’ texts interpreted in dance, seen them enacted as drama and have heard them analysed and debated by student groups.
 
For instance, Just Poets recently delivered, for Rochdale Town Centre Management and Rochdale MBC, a poetic consultation during the Rochdale Feel Good Festival, 2010. We took contributions from hundreds of folk attending the festival and the piece we have created from their words has already been seen by local councillors, before being collated into a public display at Rochdale’s Wheatsheaf Library. Those words will also be used as a platform for a major multi arts project later in the year and has earned good coverage in the current (Wednesday 25th August) edition of The Rochdale Observer. All those who offered us lines for the poem have seen those lines already set off on light years of travel.
 
And I am nothing more than a “jobbing” writer, with only a limited ability to write coherent, if overlong, sentences and to now and then turn a neat phrase. Some people on my mailing list, (are you listening, lovely Irish lady in Darwen and long, tall blonde lady in Rochdale?) are far better writers than I, but their work remains tucked away in a drawer and never sees the light of day. It is difficult for text to even set forth on light years of travel when trapped under whatever unmentionables are laid over them in those drawers.
 
Pam McKee, my founder partner in Just Poets, shared my attitude to getting our work “out there” and we subsequently heard our poems performed to a choral backing in Blackburn Cathedral and used as the glue to hold together an art exhibition at Touchstones, Rochdale.
 
Robin Parker, my new associate member in Just Poets, performs his work to live audiences at The Old Boar’s Head in Middleton at Write Out Loud events and will soon see two plays he has specially written for health and well being projects will become widely known not just for their quality of writing but also for what those texts can achieve in promoting preventive health care.
 
The next Write Out Loud event in Middleton, organised by Paul Blackburn, will be on Sunday 26th September. Google Write Out Loud for details of their web site and newsletter.
 
I hope, then, that those two aforementioned ladies, and indeed all of you who attend Just Poets writing groups will consider submitting work to the Just Poets / Rochdale Library Services / National Poetry Day competition on the subject of Home. The attached entry forms provide further information. I hope, too, that when we announce further details you will also make a note to turn up to read at the special celebration event.
 
There will be another meeting of the Touchstones Creative Writing Group on Thursday 9th September at 2 pm, facilitated by Just Poets.
 
The Write Now group reconvenes in Darwen in September.
 
To be a writer is to be an agent for change. You are privileged to have the gift to communicate in ways that others cannot,……………… and with that gift comes a responsibility, it might be argued, to lend your voice to those who cannot speak out for themselves; to become, in Just Poets’ words, the voice unspoken.  In your words, your stories, your poems, those who cannot communicate find strength and a way of saying what they have previously been able to think but unable to express in words.
 
Send your work on light years of travel.

 

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Norman Warwick
Consultant and Project Facilitator, Just Poets

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Further tips for writers: Philip Burton on poetic form, Norman Hadley on finding the time

 

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