Want to get published? Submit to the Loose Muse anthology…

Look how beautiful it is!


Hi all,

Just a quick reminder about our deadline for the next anthology. We’ve already published a number of these gorgeous collections, and if you want to get your work published you’re in with a great chance. As you know, you have to have attended at least one LM event to be eligible, but with our *new* Manchester and Cornwall based events opening up the pool of writers, we’re expecting some fab new work to start pouring in. So why not get in there early?

Deadline for Submissions for the next Anthology – 7th March.

If you have attended any Loose Muse event at any time during the past couple of months, you can submit poetry, short stories, flash fiction, a short play, or even an excerpt of your unpublished novel.  Email me (agnespoet@googlemail.com) your submission or give a hard copy to me, Steph in Manchester or Angela or Fiona in Penzance.  Launches for this new Anthology will be held in all three places late April.  It’s going to be the best yet!

Fancy using your writing skills to raise money for charity?

Jean-Marc Pierson (orfray@hotmail.com) is organising a public speaking/spoken word contest to raise funds for UNICEF – with special thoughts for the children of Syria.

Find five friends who would be prepared to give £5.00 each – then register to take part in the:


Saturday 22nd February @ Resource for London,

365 Holloway Road, Islington N7 6PA

For more information and how to register:


A great cause, and an energetic social afternoon to help the children of Syria.

So that’s the latest update. Here’s hoping this awful weather will let up and spring to start boinging about like Tigger.



Some pics from the big event…

Art by Lorraine Clarke

Art by Lorraine Clarke

We all had a wonderful time at last night’s event. The Caribbean buffet and wine were flowing, the poets were reading from our outstanding anthology, and generally a fantastic time was had…

Thank you to everyone, and remember, if you’re a lady writer and would like to get published, come along to one of our Loose Muse events. That way, you’ll be eligible to submit and you too could be gracing the stage like some of the lovely ladies below.


Baraba-Aseka and the marvellous Lorraine Clarke (whose artwork is on the cover of the anthology)


Amy Neilson Smith


Sue Johns


Camilla Reeve








Leila Segal




Cath Drake







Vivienne Vermes


Kirsty Brook, who wowed us all as she performed her work ‘Life test,’ her first published poem.




Me reading Balaba-Aseka’s fantastic poems, as she was too shy this time. We’re working on her though…


A panoramic shot which came out er…smaller than anticipated.


This is the last of this year’s funding from the Arts Council, we’ve really tried to help women writers develop and hope we’ve succeeded in promoting the work of all you marvellous ladies out there!

Lots of love from the Loose Muse team,

Agnes, Chikodi and Sara-Mae




Don’t fear the red ink

Having put the final touches to the 3rd Loose Muse Anthology of New Writing by Women, in order to be ready for the launch on Thursday 4th April, I started thinking about the knotty editorial process.  It’s another corker of a collection, with contributions from 40 writers, 17 of whom have not contributed before, and coming from all over London and the UK, as well as a sprinkling of internationals for good measure.  Looking at the final product gives me a warm glow of satisfaction, as I truly believe it is another volume stuffed with high quality work displaying a very great deal of imagination and creativity.


But although pulling together something as terrific as this is immensely gratifying, anyone who says its easy and that the editing process is a piece of cake is bonkers!  It’s really hard work because you have to encourage the writer to produce stronger, better material without making them lose confidence in themselves as creators.  It’s certainly not a task that is always appreciated by writers who are submitting work for publication.  Nobody should be telling a writer what/how to write, they cry with an angry flash of the eyes.  Yeah….well, that’s fine if each word is a pearl written with the pen of perfection using the ink of inspiration.  Sadly, however, that’s not always the case.  You wouldn’t believe the time it took me to sort out the punctuation, grammar, spelling and presentation of some of the submissions we included in the anthology.  It really tested my patience, as well as making it take twice as long to get the first draft ready for the printer and looking good.


A good editor isn’t there to massage a writer’s ego, but to help them, among other things, to move away from bad habits, sloppy presentation, lazy formatting, grammar and punctuation, dull images and vocabulary, and encouraging the production of leaner, tighter and more original work.  However well a writer actually writes, sloppy presentation and rubbish punctuation does a writer no favours.  They’re the most basic skills that any writer should have regardless of genre.  And if you can’t be bothered to get these things right, why should any publisher take you seriously or want to publish whatever you’re producing?  A professional attitude to writing can only make you a better professional.


Yes, of course you can argue with your editor and debate with them content, vocabulary and so on of a particular piece…you can re-jig your poems or stories, paint the whole the purple and cover it in strawberry yoghurt if you want to.  But ultimately if you want to be published, you have to take on board that your editor is trying to help you, even if you don’t necessary agree with what they are saying.


I’m really lucky.  My editor Nii Parkes, who runs Flipped Eye/Waterways, is excellent at his job, and we have a very good relationship.  But he’s totally ruthless when it comes to the editing process.  And however painful this process has been for me in the three collections of mine he’s published to date – and sometimes it really did feel as if I he’d asked me to chop up my children to make them fit into a different shaped crib – in the end he helped me grow as a writer, enabling me to understand more about line-breaks, presentation, vocabulary and content, and many other things.  All of this has made me become more professional about this writing lark, as well as appreciating what a tough and thankless job editing actually is.


Check out the results of all this professionalism.  The 3rd Loose Muse Anthology was launched on Thursday 4th April, at Cotton’s.

It was a free event, Cotton’s is a great venue selling terrific Caribbean food, and the night was full of fabulous poems, stories and plays.  How much cooler do you want a night to be that doesn’t involve sex with Johnny Depp!




Some pics from February’s Loose Muse





Kate Fox reading from Fox Populi






Agnes Meadows hosting



Nandita Ghose






The Play’s the Thing…

3032490151_1dd2bd84e0_mI don’t know how many of you Loose Muse followers are playwrights or interested in theatre, but the other day I read in the paper that ‘The Mousetrap’, Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery play, celebrated its’ 25,000th performance in November, and reached its’ 60th year. It’s already in the Guinness Book of Records as being the longest-running play ever…an amazing achievement. It opened in the West Eng in 1952, and year after year has played to full houses, becoming as much a part of London’s tourist scene as Big Ben or Madame Tussaud’s.

In the vague mists of my memory I do recall going to see it when I was a teenager – and that was almost half a century ago, so it’s little wonder I can’t remember who actually done it. Apparently it began life as a short radio play, broadcasting in May 1947, that came out of a short story, and was based on a real-life case of the death of a boy in 1945. Also Agatha Christie asked that the story shouldn’t be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London, so it still hasn’t been published in the UK, although it appeared in the US in a collection of stories in 1950.

As part of its 60th birthday anniversary a whole host of famous thesps starred in a special performance, including Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Miranda Hart and Patrick Stewart. I’ll bet they had an absolute ball, and in theatrical tradition played all sorts of tricks on each other spice things up a bit. Perhaps the butler didn’t do it after all!

Coming a close second must be ‘The Woman in Black’, the fabulous ghost story by Susan Hill, which has been running at the Fortune Theatre since 1989. I’ve seen that at least five times over the past few years, and always enjoyed it. The last time I took a pal to see it for her birthday. We went to a matinee so the theatre was filled with a crowd of teenagers clearly there on a school trip, and all boasting they weren’t going to be frightened by the scary bits. Oh yeah, I thought, not without reason. I’d seen it before so knew what to expect….hahahahaha!!!!! Their screams echoed round the auditorium so loudly I’m surprised they didn’t call an ambulance, and when I saw them leaving the theatre after it was all over, they all looked several shades paler. Apparently ‘Woman In Black’ has been seen by over seven million people…way to go.

It only goes to prove that when theatre’s mediocre you do wonder what all the fuss is about. But when it’s good it’s the best thing ever. I’ve been lucky enough to see two terrific performances recently. Firstly, the amazing Mark Rylance in his all-male version of ‘Richard lll’ at The Globe, which was astonishing. The play’s a tragedy filled with murder, bloodshed and betrayal, yet he played it like a comedy. And it worked! A-mazing!! And then last week I saw ‘Scenes from An Execution’ at the Lyttleton, written as a political satire by Howard Barker in the 1980’s. I think you always know when a play’s been really well written, even if you don’t go to the theatre a lot, and this really was incredibly well crafted, with themes as pertinent now as when it was first produced. I tried playwriting years ago; I even took a playwriting course, but was rubbish at it. Poetry and stories were always much more my thing, so the world has been spared my appalling efforts.

All of which leads me nicely to Loose Muse. The December 12th Loose Muse will contain a special performance of Linda Lander’s 10-minute play ‘A Perfectly Innocent Love’ about a middle-aged woman tired of the games men play, with a cast of four brawny young men (what’s not to like!). December features are poets Lesley Hale and Angela Stoner, both coming from Cornwall, and Dutch writer Vrouwkje Tuinman also making a welcome return.

In January (January 9th) the Special Play Spot will be filled by Claire Booker, whose talented troop of actors will perform two of her 5-minute plays. In ‘Rainbow Baby’ a woman addresses the birth mother of her teenage daughter, whilst something sinister stirs in the playground in ‘Harriet by the Swings’. January features will be writer Linda Shanson and poet Janice Windle.

And then in February Loose Muse welcome’s the return of playwright/poet Nandita Ghose, talking about her radio plays. So whether you’re a theatre lover or not, there’s an awful lot to get excited about…come along…tell your friends…write your own play-lette and share it at Loose Muse’s open mic spots. And don’t forget to break a leg!


Hi gang,

Even though Christmas is just round the corner, and everywhere is covered in tinsel, December’s Loose Muse has a distinctly Cornish flavour, as well as being a really full and exciting programme to start the season’s celebrations….

LOOSE MUSE – London’s Premiere Women’s Writers Night.
Wednesday 12th December – the second Wednesday of each month.
@ The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2 (closest tube = Covent Garden),
8.00 p.m. – £5.00 – £3.00 concessions

Features this month:

Lesley Hale is a Cornish poet who started writing for publication in her early teens. After years of neglect she enrolled at Angela Stoner’s creative writing class about ten years ago. Lesley enjoys performance and experimentation. Her poems have been published by Poetry Cornwall and South magazines.

Angela Stoner is also from Cornwall believes in the healing power of metaphor and her writing and workshops reflect this.  Her work has appeared in literary and professional journals and anthologies.  She has two published books, Once in a Blue Moon (Fal publications) and Weight and Flight (oversteps books).  She loves the direct connection of performance, particularly in partnership.

Special Guest – Vrouwkje Tuinman, a Dutch writer, poet and journalist, who has performed at Loose Muse more than once over the past year, and makes a welcome return to test out some her new material in London.

Special Play Spot – Linda Landers presents….A Perfectly Innocent Love –
A 10 minute play about a middle-aged woman tired of the games men play, yet still listening to an offer she can’t refuse. Featuring Vincent Lewer, Papillon de Nuit, Marek Hollands, and Dylan Geoghegan.  Linda is a prize-winning poet, writer of plays and songs, and a multi-media artist, whose work has been compared to Evelyn Waugh.

Plus plenty of chances to read your own work from the floor.  AND MINCE PIES!!!!


The deadline for the next Loose Muse Anthology is 31st January 2013, so once again the doors are open for submissions.  You can submit any time between now and January 31st, either bringing your work to a Loose Muse event, or e-ing submissions to Agnes Meadows at agnespoet@googlemail.com   Submissions are only open to women who attend Loose Muse, and cover all genres – stories, poetry, play-lets, excerpts of novels, or articles on all things literary.   Launch of this Anthology will be early March 2013

So come share the passion, share the joy!
Agnes Meadows
Host and Coordinator – Loose Muse Women’s Writers’ Night


A Game of Thrones or How I Fell In Love…

Iron-Throne-Teaser-game-of-thrones-18537495-1280-720Those of you who know me reasonably well will know I’m a martyr to back ache, which I’ve suffered from for years, and which has recently laid me very low indeed. Causes are multiple, and include:

a) Often carrying a large and heavy load of books around with me in the hope that I might sell a few, and therefore make my poetry pay for itself instead of being what my brother describes as a ‘pointless hobby’. If it doesn’t earn you hard cash then he doesn’t see the point of it – although over the past year I’ve detected a hint of pride when he tells people I write and that I’ve had several collections published. This has clearly had an impact on my back (lugging heavy books around, not my bro’s attitude to literature!).

b) Spending most of my waking life inactive physically, either at my computer earning a crust at the day job; poetry’s lovely, but doesn’t pay the rent, so I have to rely on being a fund-raising consultant to keep my creditors at bay (If you know anyone who needs a fundraiser, do let me know…I’m reasonably priced and house trained!). This has led to what Jane Wenham-Jones describes as ‘writer’s bottom’, the spreading of the glutinous maximus due to lack of exercise coupled with copious amounts of inspirational cake, cheese on toast, or other snacks. As any writer knows, snacking is really a displacement activity, as the one thing writers really don’t like doing is starting the process of writing, especially when a whole afternoon of glorious telly beckons. Once you’ve started, of course, it’s OK, although distraction is easy and frequent. I’ve even been known to do housework to delay the hour at which I have to put pen to paper, and if I turn on the t.v. I might as well stop pretending. That’s why I go out of the house to write, so I’m forced to actually do it instead of watching re-runs of ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’

c) Being a cheapskate and using a naff kitchen chair when at my computer, instead of investing in a proper office chair. This last point is/was the clincher. So when my back totally seized up a few weeks ago, crippling me so I couldn’t actually get out of bed, let alone walk without groaning in pain, I realized I had to get a proper chair, or the back would be buggered forever. At least that’s what the osteopath said. So because I always do what I’m told (!) I hobbled to Hubbards for Cupboards in the Gray’s Inn Road, to check out the chairs, otherwise my modest career as writer would be over and the novel would never get finished.

I saw The Chair immediately I walked into H4C, and when I sat in it, I recognized it was The Most Comfortable Chair in the World. Not only did I have to buy it to save my back, my writing and the day job, but I wanted to marry it and have its’ babies. A lovely young man called Daniel showed me other chairs in different colours and styles. But no, I had fallen for The Chair, and no other seat would match up to the sheer comfort of its royal upholstery. I almost relented when Daniel told me how it cost, but with a bit of negotiated and quite a lot of outrageous flirting on my part (I’m not so long in the tooth yet I don’t still enjoy a good flirt!), we came to an agreed discounted price. Arrangements were made for it to be delivered the next day, and casting a last loving look at My Beloved Chair, I left, still hobbling, but with the anticipation of ease and comfort to come.

True to arrangements it was delivered on time and with the minimum of fuss, I am now the proud owner of The Most Comfortable Chair in the World – ask Dzifa Benson…she sat in my chair for a few moments, and I practically had to prize her out of it with a crow-bar! My writing career is saved…hooray…and I now have even less of an excuse to finish that long-delayed novel.

Now all I need to do is invest in some new glasses, so can actually see what I’m writing.

Don’t forget the next Loose Muse is on December 12th. Hope to see you there, and who knows, I might even have written a poem about chairs!

Come share the passion, share the joy!


If It Was Good Enough For Dickens….

It was a great week despite the fact that the nights are getting frostier and Christmas is far too close for comfort (my pal Naomi Woddis wants to know what happened – she thought it was still August…me too, flower, me too!!). It’s been a good one because I’ve been deeply embroiled in the Elmbridge Literature Competition, which I’ve helped judge for the past six years, plus sorting out the running order of readings of the winning entries in all the various categories.

Where’s Elmbridge, I hear you ask? It’s the bit of Surrey that includes Walton-on-Thames, Woking, Guildford and all sorts of other places in that part of commuter-land – all very ‘green and pleasant’ especially in autumn. The competition is open to children aged 5 years upwards, teens, and adults, so there’s a really wide spread of wannabe writing talent. This year’s theme was ‘A Dickens of a Christmas’, and participants were asked to write a poem or a short story that embraced the idea of Christmas, with a thread of the great man himself thrown in for good measure.

It’s always been a pleasure to read through the annual competition’s many entries, from wobbly hand-written stories of reindeers and Santa from the littlies, to multi-layered tales of loneliness and loss as well as the humorous and fantastic from teens and adults. One of the best things about judging this kind of competition year on year, is that whole families enter, and you see individual writers growing stronger each time they enter, stretching their imagination and really developing their writing skills. (If you want to read some of the winning entries, go to the R C Sherriff Trust website – www.rcsherrifftrust.org.uk – you’ll see why I’m so enthusiastic!). Each year there are also readings of the winning entries, one night for the childrens’ and young teens, and another night for older teens and adults. I ‘script’ each piece to reflect the different voices the stories and poems contain, and we have a great time making everything come to life…definitely brings out the closet thesp in me. Plus all the winning writers and their friends & families really enjoy having their work brought alive in this way.

There’s also a guest speaker on each night. This year on the first night we had Sarah Mussi, award-winning writer of teen fiction on the first night (and yes, I’ve booked her for Loose Muse next year, don’t fret!). On the second night we had Lucinda Hawksley, the great-great-great grand-daughter of Charles Dickens, and a biographer, author and lecturer herself. Now Mr Dickens’ work was badly taught at the school I went to so his work never set me on fire, and I’ve not read much of it to date. But Lucinda’s talk really aroused my interest, telling me things about him that I didn’t know, and I’m certainly going to re-read some of his novels now. I know he was a journalist, and he had made a point of writing about the dark underbelly of life in Victorian England, exposing child abuse, extreme poverty, violence and green, and changing contemporary viewpoints about these things via his novels.

What I didn’t know was that he hadn’t been paid a penny for his first several stories, that his novels were serialized in periodicals over many weeks and that he didn’t know from one week to the next where the story was going as he hadn’t planned each story in full in advance. Most interestingly, despite his eventual success as a novelist, his publishers refused to publish ‘A Christmas Carol’, because they didn’t think another Christmas story would sell. So he published it himself, apparently having 6,000 copies printed in early December, all of which had sold by Christmas Eve. Although he apparently wrote a number of other Christmas novels, ‘A Christmas Carol’ is the only one that’s remembered, and it’s never been out of print. How amazing is that!

Anyway, I’m hoping someone will buy me Lucinda’s biography of her great-great-great grand-father for Christmas (don’t ask, and you don’t get!). Check out Lucinda on her website www.lucindahawksley.com

And talking about Christmas, the last Loose Muse of 2012 is on December 12th, and promises to be a-mazing! Coming all the way from West Cornwall will be Angela Stoner and Lesley Hale, two poets of extraordinary word-power + Vrouwkje Tuinman from Holland putting in a brief guest appearance ++ Linda Landers bringing a short play (performed by a cast of 4 young men). AND there’ll be mince pies. So come along…if poetry, stories, 4 brawny young men in a play aren’t incentive enough, perhaps the mince pies will help!

Come share the passion, share the joy!


Loose Muse Event, 14th November 2012

Hi gang,
Trees becoming kaleidoscopic, skies embroidered with fiery ‘chrysanthemums’, bonfires and another Loose Muse night of poetry and word craft….

LOOSE MUSE – London’s Premiere Women’s Writers Night.
Wednesday 14th November – the second Wednesday of each month.
@ The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2 (closest tube = Covent Garden),
8.00 p.m. – £5.00 – £3.00 concessions

Features this month:
Natasha Morgan has written a number of plays for her  company “That’s Not It” which were performed at Oval House, The Royal Court, The Almeida and The ICA.  In the ‘80s she had a career as an actress and was on the editorial board of Spare Rib Magazine. She has interviewed a large number of women who wrote and performed for the theatre in this period and these interviews are available through “Unfinished Histories” at the National Sound Archive.

Patricia Foster – A Malika’s Kitchen founder member, Patricia Foster is an internationally published writer (Loose Muse Anthology of Women’s Writing; Red; A Storm Between Fingers; Jupiter Magazine, Norway), a performer, radio broadcaster, coach and educator. Recently back from a featured reading in Oslo, she has performed poetry at many London venues, toured Europe and Chicago, and featured on Sky TV as well as BBC and Dutch Radio. Her writing is “exquisitely sensitive”. Patricia is also a member of female poetry/theatre collective Thea-poets.

Plus plenty of chances to come read your own work from the floor.

Guest Host for November – Isabel White, poet with Goth flair and humour

So come share the passion, share the joy!
Agnes Meadows


Hi gang,

With autumn chasing away the last remnants of summer, the October Loose Muse has a real international flavour:

LOOSE MUSE – London’s Premiere Women’s Writers Night.

Wednesday 10th October – the second Wednesday of each month.

@ The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2 (closest tube = Covent Garden),

8.00 p.m. – £5.00 – £3.00 concessions

Features this month:

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (Washington, DC: Red Morning Press, 2006), with a second collection forthcoming from Seren Books. A recipient of writing residencies from MacDowell Colony, Hawthornden Castle and Fundacion Valparaiso, her work appears in journals and anthologies in many countries, with individual poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. www.ivyalvarez.com

Jona Burghardt is a writer, poet, translator and teacher, from Buenos Aires, who has lived in Germany since the mid 80’s.  She specializes in poetry written in Spanish and German, edited a series of Korean literature, and translated German, Austrian, Swiss, Arab and Asian authors into Spanish for International Poetry Festivals in Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela, where she also led workshops. Her poems have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese and Turkish, and she has presented her work at international festivals all over the world.

Plus plenty of chances to come read your own work from the floor. 

So come share the passion, share the joy!

Agnes Meadows

Host and Coordinator – Loose Muse Women’s Writers’ Night