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.

Below:

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

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Amy Neilson Smith

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Sue Johns

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Camilla Reeve

 

 

 

 

Hilaire

 

 

Leila Segal

 

 

 

Cath Drake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivienne Vermes

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

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Hilaire

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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.

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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

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The Loose Muse launch is coming…

Hi gang,

Have been frantically busy over the past couple of weeks sorting out the next Loose Muse Anthology, the fourth one funded by Arts Council of England – and even though I say so myself, it’s looking pretty damn fine!  Front cover design once more by the incomparable Lorraine Clarke, not only an amazing artist, but also becoming a pretty cool poet; two of her new pieces are included in the Anthology.

Work by a total of 35 writers appears in the Anthology, including 13 whose work has not been included before, which is great news as it means that Loose Muse continues to uncover new talent as well as giving room to established authors who want their work to be included.   And it also includes the work of 5 writers from the North, as we had our first successful Loose Muse Manchester earlier in the Spring, so the anthology has been opened up to everyone who came to that event.  A separate launch and second gig in Manchester will be held on 17th September, with the London launch on 19th September. Full details of both launches are below:

LOOSE MUSE ANTHOLOGY LAUNCHES

LOOSE MUSE MANCHESTER – Tuesday, 17th September

Thomas Bar & Restaurant

49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA

7.00 for 7.30 p.m. –  Donations at the door

Readings from writers included in the Anthology

Hosted by Steph Pike & Agnes Meadows

LOOSE MUSE LONDON – Thursday 19th September

Cotton’s Caribbean Restaurant – the room downstairs

70 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QP

7.00 p.m. for a 7.30 start. A free event, but donations welcome

 

Come to one – come to all – share the passion, share the joy.

 

Agnes Meadows

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

Tel: 07789-901-667    E: agnespoet@googlemail.com

www.loose-muse.com

THERE’S MAYHEM IN THE TILTYARD

Why Are Men in Armor so Sexy?

Can’t believe how long it’s been since last I blogged, but August has been a helluva month.  I thought I’d have lots of time to sit and relax, think about my novel, do lots of writing…generally move things forward with the help of cake and no ‘day job’ work.  How dumb was that? Instead, it seemed to get fuller and fuller of ‘day job’ essentials.  And the fact I’m on various Boards of arts organisations doesn’t help either, as you’re duty bound to help if requested to do so.

But it hasn’t been all work and no play.  On the pretext of historical research, I finally managed to get up to Leeds to visit the Royal Armouries, to take a closer look at their collection of medieval weaponry and indulge in my passion for swords.  Yes, I have a small collection of sharps, gathered over the years since my re-enactment days; not a really serious collection, but I enjoy the look of surprise on visitor’s faces when I unsheathe one of them and start talking about the balance between blade and hilt etc. (Better stop now in case you all start thinking I really am bonkers!).

Anyway, there I was up in Leeds on a warm and sunny week-end mid-month and visiting the Armouries.  The actual content of this purpose-built museum was excellent – you wouldn’t expect anything else, really, would you? Considering how much Lottery money was spent on building it.  But the building itself was a total disaster…unquestionably one of the WORST designed museums I’ve ever been to, nationally or internationally.  Everything had been shipped up from the Tower of London and other Historic Palaces to this purpose-built black brick mausoleum in what had been a derelict industrial estate next to a scummy stretch of canal.  No signage outside meant you couldn’t find the entrance, and poor signage inside meant you could find anything inside either.  Plus, little real thought had gone into the mediocre shop, cafes and restaurant.  A classic case of corporate funding going hand-in-hand with unimaginative local authority planning, and coming up with the worst of all possible worlds. Which is a real shame, as it should have been world class instead of being world crass.

But it was free entry, and it being a Friday during school holidays there were about a million kids there  all having a great time at the Knight School (which cost extra), and at the Jousting (also extra).  Now, as some of you may know, I’m a proper sucker for a man in armour (yes, I know I’m weird that way) and LOVE Jousting, so happily paid my dues to watch the Red Knight fight the Green Knight to rapturous applause and much booking and/or cheering.

This was theatrical jousting, as opposed to Full Metal Jousting (see Challenge TV Mondays at 10.00 p.m.), which is much fiercer and more authentic judging by the injuries.  There was no un-horsing or blood-shed, but there was plenty of very fine horsemanship and some excellent trick riding.  And as far as I was concerned the Red and Green Knights were both sex on legs in their full body armor, so the expedition was not an entirely unhappy experience.

I also enjoyed the selection of weaponry on display from early Celtic onwards (though not interested in the guns or modern day machinery of war), plus items covering many different cultures including Japan, China and India.  The full-scale model of an Indian war-elephant covered in armor was truly impressive and certainly not the kind of thing you’d want to meet on a dark night in Leeds or anywhere else.

Fully armoured war elephant

Fully armoured war elephant

Apart from that I spent the rest of the weekend with my lovely friends, Olivia and Howard, eating too much, enjoying lots of great conversation, and loving being out of London for a change.

Now, it’s back to the grindstone of preparing for the first Loose Muse event of the year on September 11th, featuring a selection of members of Highgate Poets.  Check the events page for up-to-date information on that and also on the two Anthology launches.  Until then, enjoy the remains of the summer and the gentle drift into autumn, and…

Come share the passion, share the joy,

Agnes

Where are all you short fiction writers?

It’s wonderful that we always have so many great poets coming to the Loose Muse events. Every month, lots of women step up to the mic to blow our minds with their lyrical verse. Having said that, we really don’t want anyone to think that we exist for poetry alone. At Loose Muse we encourage ALL women writers (including playwrights, script writers, flash fictioners as well as short fiction and novel writers) to come and perform. We would love to have even more great short stories submitted, for example, to the anthology.

Here is a great short fiction competition which you still have time to enter if you hurry. You can win up to £1000. Anthony Howcroft, the director of InkTears, is looking for writers who have, ‘enough quality short stories’ to publish a collection. Alternatively, they are looking for writers whose work may go into an anthology. So you could enter a competition and find yourself publishing a collection at the end of it!

It sounds like a great opportunity, so don’t miss out. http://www.inktears.com/Inktears/WritersNewWritersContest.html

Elsewhere, Cinnamon Press has some great poetry collection, novella or short story competitions that are still open.  Go to http://www.cinnamonpress.com/competitions/ to take a look.

Book trust is a great website for listing competitions, so do take a look at that as well, although I’ve often found it slightly annoying that they don’t organise the competitions by date relevancy. No one likes clicking for ages to find out that a competition happened back in January!

So all you short story writers, before you send our your brilliant prose to these great competitions, why not come along to Loose Muse and try them out on an audience?

Love,

Sara-Mae

Loose Muse one-off free open mic event…

 

Hi gang,

Well it’s Anthology time again and the submissions for the next Loose Muse Anthology are piling up very nicely, thank you.  This will be the last anthology that the Arts Council of England grant pays for, as the grant that was given to develop Loose Muse over the past couple of years has now been used up.  I think we’ve done extraordinarily well in growing things, and certainly we’ve been able to make sure that women writers are given a platform to produce and explore new work, and to share experiences and expertise.

The Anthology launch date is set for Thursday, 19th September, and will be held at Cotton’s Caribbean Restaurant – the room downstairs we’ve used for the last couple of launches, and which everyone loves – at 70 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QP, 7.00 p.m. for a 7.30 start.  So put that into your diary at once whether or not you’ve actually submitted work for inclusion, as it’s always a fabulous night, and it’s FREE, always a bonus.  Who knows it might inspire you to take up the pen yourselves, if you haven’t already got the bug.

But before then, there’s an EXTRA LOOSE MUSE EVENT IN AUGUST. 

Yes, even though we’re usually dark in August, and start again in September, this year I thought it would be a good idea to have a SPECIAL OPEN MIC EXTRA EVENT to celebrate all those writers who want to share a bit of their work with us.  Each one will be getting at least 5 minutes, so put this in your diary as a MUST DO event:

LOOSE MUSE AUGUST EXTRA

Wednesday, 14 August – 7.00 p.m. for 7.30

All OPEN MIC for anyone who wants to share their work.

L’Osteria 57 (downstairs) Wine Bar

57 Grays Inn Road

London WC1X 8PP

A £5 donation towards Loose Muse expenses in the autumn would be gratefully received.

L’Osteria is only a 5 minute walk from Chancery Lane tube station, and on several bus routes, so is very accessible.  And, as it’s an Italian restaurant, the food is good and reasonably priced.

Do come along and bring something to read, or just come and listen, have a pizza/pasta and be part of the action.  Go on…you know you want to.

Come share the passion, share the joy,

Agnes

Julian Fellowes gives inspirational talk for writers at the Winchester Fest

Hi gang,

Just about recovered from leading workshops at the Winchester Writers Conference at the end of last month.  It’s a terrific conference, and I’m very lucky to have been invited again this year to be one of the workshop leaders, so that’s in no way a complaint.  But OMG it really did knacker me – for me, read everyone who attended and/or took workshops.  Everyone who attends comes away totally inspired, but also needing a week on a beach with the brain in a darkened room in recover position afterwards.

There’s always an amazing mix of writers across the spread of genres, so whatever kind of writing a wannabe wants help with, they’ll be able to find it there, from crime novels to stories for children, writing scripts for film/radio, to my own poetry workshops.  And there are also useful sessions with publishers and agents, experts in harnessing new technology like e-books, to how to bring your work to a wider audience.  Naturally some of the sessions were packed because so many people believe writing a novel is the pathway to enormous financial success, which makes all the novelists I know hoot with laughter.  Certainly there’s little likelihood of any poet getting rich through writing collections of poetry; I still need a day job despite my 5 collections, but poetry has allowed me to travel all over the world and visit some places I would not have otherwise have visited.  Most writers have to keep plugging away for years to make a living and achieve any kind of recognition, even if they have an agent.

Julian Fellowes

Julian Fellowes was a key-note speaker at the Winchester Conference and had some very interesting things to say about this.  He advised by all means take advice from ‘how to’ books; they will give you advice on how to do it based on what has already been successful and what has gone before.  But at the same time, he said, you must remain true to your vision, that special unique thing that makes what you do special, and that you should retain your belief in your own talent, which is very sound advice to any aspiring writer.

Luck is an enormous element, he added, saying there are many people who have great talent but have never had a break.  And TENACITY is essential, advising that writers should do something every day to move themselves forward – write a letter, make a phone call, or write something.  He did this for 10 years before it started to bear fruit, so be tenacious…original talent by itself is not enough.

He said you must write books that you want to read, write scripts for TV shows or films that you want to see – there is no catch-all. People asking you for advice are asking you to take responsibility for their lives, but it’s unrealistic to think that someone else will do all the work for you.  The person for whom your career is of paramount importance is you.  You have to be thinking how you can move things forward, even if you have a brilliant agent.    And sometimes even if you a publisher/agent, the advice they give you will be just plain wrong.  For example, when Julian had written ‘Snobs’, his agent advised him to ‘put it in the dustbin and write something for grown-ups’.  So he has enormous gleeful pride at reporting the novel is now a best-seller in 47 countries, and emphasizes that sometimes you’re right and the agent’s just plain wrong.

Hopefully, I’ll be asked back to do more work with the Winchester Conference next year, and I cannot recommend it too highly for all you writers out there wanting to take things further.  In the meantime, however, there’s always Loose Muse to keep you going.  The next LM event is on 10 July featuring Kadija Sesay and Vivienne Verme, with Special Guest Monica Hand, all talented writers offering you the best of what they have.  So hope to see you there to

Share the passion, share the joy.

Love – Agnes

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE GNOME

Gnome-ageddon is nigh!

If you’ve been watching tv over the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen the ad by a leading Scandi furniture store featuring the destruction of rampaging garden gnomes.  When it was first screened, it made me laugh, as I thought it was quite witty.  So imagine my surprise when I read there had been 50 complaints about this ad to the Advertising Standard Board saying it was over violent and offensive, and that some people had found it distressing.

Now, call me old-fashioned (I know my place!), but I find the idea that people were actually distressed at an ad where plaster gnomes (not real, live gnomes, but gaudy figurines made up of plaster-of-paris and painted in garish colours) were shattered by a woman wielding a garden sprinkler jet, is just plain bonkers.

Clearly, the complainers haven’t been watching the news or reading the papers.  The situation in Syria, where hundreds of people are being killed or made homeless every day is distressing.  A tornado leaving a swathe of death and destruction in the US is distressing.  Cuts in crucial services that leave the poor even poorer and thousands reliant on banks or the kindness of strangers is distressing. Female genital mutilation in girl children is very distressing indeed.  And a newborn flushed down the toilet and stuck in a sewerage pipe is inexpressibly distressing.  Gnome attack in a spoof ad just ISN’T, and if you think it is, you’ve not got enough to worry about.  Get a life and get a sense of humour!

Having said all that, I also love the fact that there are gnomes in the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time ever.  And even more, there’s a place in Western Australia called Gnomesville, in the Ferguson Valley, about a 2-hour drive south east of Perth, where there are thousands of gnomes from all over the world are on display dotted around the forest landscape. I love the quirky eccentricity of that.  But I still wouldn’t any of the plaster variety in my garden if I had one…give me a real life fairy or elf any day of the week.  I’ve always been a sucker for Otherworld Creatures.

Our next Loose Muse is on Wednesday 10 July and, as ever, we’ll have some cracking features. Remember to come early to sign up for the open mic session at the end of the evening (gnome caps are optional).

Come share the passion, share the joy,

Agnes

Write Out Loud talks us up a bit

Greg Freeman of Write Out Loud wrote a rather lovely piece on us about the Manchester Loose Muse. It’s great to see that our plans for ultimate world domination are on track 😉

Check it out here:

http://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=37394

Thanks go to Write Out Loud and Greg, for featuring us!

STOLEN HEADLINE ‘SILENCE OF THE MA’AMS’

Alice Jones of the Independent

I read an article in The Independent the other week that really made my jaw drop in exasperation and fury.  Written by young journalist Alice Jones, and headlined ‘In Hollywood its Silence of the Ma’ams’, it referred to a recent report saying that across the 100 highest grossing films at the US box office in 2012, only 28.4% of speaking characters were female, and that only 6% of the films featured a cast where the split of speaking roles was roughly 50/50 men to women.   Whaaaaaaaaaat!!! I hear you gasp!  Yes, that was my reaction too.

 

As Alice wittily (and perceptively) commented, “extra-terrestrials, trolls and cartoon jungle animals probably have more chance of getting a line than a living, breathing actress.”  This is surely a shameful state of affairs, especially when women easily buy as many cinema tickets as men.

 

And when you look at the roles women are actually given in those films it gets even more depressing… arm/eye candy for Neanderthal petrol-head leading men, the helpless/pea-brained girlfriend desperate to take her clothes off and pleasure her hero/man in bed or out of it, or the sidelines PA/Assistant who secretly obsesses about having that big white wedding all of us girls are supposed to yearn for, and not a lot else, unless you’re the likes of Judy Dench or Maggie Smith.

 

With 31.6% of actresses appearing on screen in ‘sexually revealing clothes’, and half teenage girls on screen wearing provocative outfits (as opposed to 7% of teen boys), what kind of messages does that send out to today’s young women…that our worth is only measured by the amount of flesh we flash, or the degree to which we agree to put up and shut up.  No wonder 60% of teenage girls aspire to becoming glamour models.  What else are we told we’re good for?

 

But then the bosses of the big Hollywood studios aren’t known for their imagination.  They fancy us girls will be happy as long as we have a few films about Bridesmaids or some unutterably dull ‘singleton’ (God I HATE that word) still fixated with diets, diapers and dodgy relationships.  Booooooo!

 

A colleague in the film business told me not long ago that Hollywood rarely gets good ideas for films, which is doubtless why they produce such a lot of unmitigated rubbish.  In her article, Alice Jones continues that only 4% of the directors, and 12.2% of the writers of the Top 100 Films are female.  What does this say?  That men write about men, for men, produce films about men for men to relate to, and that women don’t have anything worth writing about or portraying on the silver screen. Odd really when almost all the books currently in the best-selling paperback fiction lists are written by women.  And the stories they’re telling aren’t all cosy romances, or diaries where the heroine is still boring us with the size of her bum, or lack of a boyfriend (without which her life clearly has no meaning).

 

It’s up to us women writers to make sure we don’t take Hollywood’s disgraceful creative incapacity and blindness laying down.  There are 1001 stories by women of real courage, adventure and power that are being lived and written about every day, and we should make sure those stories are told, loud and bold.

 

And talking about bold talent, June’s Loose Muse will be featuring two fearless poets – the marvelous Steph Pike, and the masterful Charlotte Ansell, both making a return visit from their homes up North. Plus Special Guest Angela Stoner winging in from Penzance.  Another promise of wonder, so

Come share the passion, share the joy.

 

Agnes

My poem on BBC radio 4

Check out Mark Tully’s show ‘Something Understood’

 

My poem ‘Tracy Says’ was broadcast on Radio 4 yesterday – very exciting! I forgot to tell everyone the exact details, but you can listen online to the show by clicking on this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qn7f

Be quick though! There are only six more days to listen to it!

x Agnes