I know….I know….. It’s been weeks since my last blog, and I’m reeeeeally sorry for that.  Blame it on a combination of The Back Ache from Hell (a recurring problem), and a ‘day job’ that’s taken most of my time and energy over the past couple of months.  April seems like a long time ago, but there was a lot happening, so this will be a bit of a journey into last month, tho’ future blogs will be more current, honest, so bear with me.

Loose Muse launched its 3rd Anthology on the 4th April (OMG…that was over 6 weeks ago!), and the whole thing was truly FAB.  Despite arctic temperatures and SNOW, it was a fantastic success, with dozens of the 40 writers whose work had been included there to help us celebrate with tremendous enthusiasm and gusto.  It was lovely to see so many loyal LM fans there to enjoy the moment, as well as lots of newbies also caught up in the excitement.  For me the best thing about producing these anthologies is the fact it really does seem to make a difference to those whose work has been included.  When I get e-mails from people saying things like, “I was about to give up writing when I got your notice saying one of my poems was going to be published.  Now I feel encouraged to go on…”; or, “You’ve given me the incentive to take my work further…”, well, it makes all the hard work totally worth while.


The latest Loose Muse Anthology

Local poet Aryamati with moi  at Manchester’s Loose Muse Night

I Still have lots of copies to sell before I break even, so if you know anyone who might be interested in buying a copy, they’re only £8.00 each (+ £1 p&p), available from me on

Claire Booker performs ‘Last Man in Watford’ at London launch

And then on April 17th we had our first Loose Muse Manchester event!  Yeeeeehaaa!!!  Thanks to the marvellous Steph Pike, a local poet and activist of enormous talent and energy, we had a fantastically successful first out-of-London LM event.  Steph and I had been collaborating on the idea of a Manchester gig since she featured last year.  She worked really hard to get a great venue, spread the world to local women writers, plus securing two truly terrific Manchester writers to feature – Rosie Garland and Rebecca Audra Smith, who were both terrific, and whom I hope to feature in London later in the year.  Accompanying me for the 1st LM Manchester was the multi-talented Claire Booker (a brilliant travelling companion),who read excerpts from her short plays + a few poems, while I read poems from my slender volumes + a few new ones.  We seemed to go down reasonably well – they didn’t thrown rotten tomatoes, so it must’ve been OK.   The quality of open mic-ers was top notch too, and I’m hoping all that talent will be reflected in submissions for the next Anthology.  Deadline for that’s mid-July for a launch date in mid’ish September.

The plan is to make the Manchester event regular, taking place 2-3 times a year to start with. If things work out we’ll have a combined second Manchester event and Anthology launch up there mid-late September, to complement the launch in London.  This idea was greeted with enormous enthusiasm, so hopefully we’ll get a strong and vibrant platform going there for women writers too.  Seeing the beginning of this kind of network is really exciting, and I have all kinds of plans for the future to make Loose Muse a real contender…. as I say….tomorrow…the WORLD!

The next Loose Muse event in London is on July 12th, at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden.  If you missed her last time, this is another chance to see Steph Pike rock’n’roll it all the way from Manchester – if she doesn’t knock your socks off with her poetry, well, you’re not really alive.  And as if that wasn’t enough, the fabulous Charlotte Ansell is making a very welcome return to the London scene from her house-boat in Rotherham.  Charlotte’s one of my all-time faves, and her awesome poetry never fails to hit the emotional target.  Plus we have Angela Stonerwinging in from Penzance as a Special Guest!   Talk about a bevy of nationwide talent! You’d be mad to miss it!!!!

Also, check out Claire Booker’s marvellous review of the anthology launch here:


So come share the passion, share the joy.


Loose Muse Spring anthology – grab your copy now!

Loose Muse - Spring 2013



Want to get your copy of the latest Loose Muse anthology? Just email or call Agnes Meadows for details.

It’s only £8 for the Spring edition and £5 for back copies.

Agnes Meadows

Tel:             07789-901-667          E:





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!




LAUNCH EVENT – 3rd Loose Muse Anthology of New Writing by Women

Featuring the work of 40 UK and international writers, 33 of whom will be reading on April 4th!

Loose Muse - Spring 2013

Thursday 4th April @ Cottons Caribbean Restaurant – Downstairs Bar

– 70 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QP – Free Event

Doors open at 7.00 for a 7.30 p.m. (sharp) start.   

Agnes Meadows (founder and Chairwoman) will be hosting.

Agnes Meadows

Writers featured include:Sue Johns, Chikodi Nwaiwu, Steph Pike, Patricia Foster, Sarah Reilly and many more…

Patricia Foster

Sue Johns

Steph Pike




When the weather is relentlessly dreary, winter stretching ahead in a louring canopy of grey on grey, it doesn’t help to  hear a friend you’ve known for  more than half your life has died.


Just when you’ve finished writing a poem acknowledging there will be things you never get to do, places you won’t ever get to see, lovers you finally acknowledge will never be yours, someone else you cared about for decades is added to that ‘never ever’ list.


My friend Linda, who spent years planning all the marvellous thing she was going to do when she retired, but who was struck down with cancer only months after that retirement. So she never got to do any of it – to busy struggling with treatments, tests, medications, and hospital visits.  And the moral of that has got to be, don’t postpone having the life you want to have, filled with the things bringing you joy.  Because Fate is cruel, and the only day you’re certain of having is this one.


My friend Linda…a talented, smiling woman whom I shared so much laugher with.  For years we lived in flats opposite each other in Central London.  I didn’t have a ‘phone at the time (hard to believe, but true), so if I wanted her to come over for a coffee and a natter, I’d ring a hand-bell out the window, the signal for her to come over.  It never failed to amuse us, and passers-by would often wonder what the hell was going on.


She was the first person I told I was getting married in 1986.  I was living in Istanbul, had met and fallen madly in love with a young Turkish musician, but too broke to call everyone back home to let them know my plans.  So I called Linda and asked her to spread the news to friends and family (including my mother – it was years before she forgave me for not calling her first!).  It was midnight when I finally got through to my pal.  Erhan and I were booked with the Registrar at 8.45 the following morning; we’d only got permission to marry late that afternoon, and I was flying home the day after, so things were a tad tense.  I explained all this to Linda, who shrieked enthusiastically before asking, her tongue firmly in her cheek, if he was a waiter.  The fact he was a classical musician and his parents were both opera singers calmed her down a lot. But we laughed about that for years.


She and I shared a love of fireworks, Cornwall, Cornish cream teas, castles, and the gardens at Sissinghurst.  We had the same sense of the ridiculous, loved cheesy jokes, Tommy Cooper, Morecombe & Wise, and music in all its forms.  She had a fine singing voice, but was too nervous to make a career as a performer.  She didn’t share my wanderlust, being perfectly content to stay in England, but loved hearing about my foreign adventures and followed my trips with avid interest.


And when she met the man she subsequently married, she was as nervous as a teenager.  I had to calm her down with lots of tea and cake.  It all worked out beautifully, and he was her devoted partner until the day she died.


If I was to sum up her life in a few words, I would say, hers was a quiet life lived in laughter, surrounded by love and friendship.  And that’s got to be something to celebrate.  I know I’m not the only one to miss her.  So goodbye, my lovely.


The next Loose Muse is another celebration of talent and friendship with two featured poets – Kate McLoughlin, and Isabel White, both wonderful but in very different ways.  April’s Loose Muse is on April 10th, at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, for more details see our events page.


Hope to see you there,

Until the next time,




Some fabulous pics from March’s Loose Muse…

Loose Muse 13 March DSCN3198 DSCN3201 DSCN3206 DSCN3208 DSCN3213 DSCN3216 DSCN3215 DSCN3218 DSCN3219 DSCN3223 DSCN3225


Richard III facial reconstruction


Have spent the past few weeks in a frenzy of excitement and anticipation, a condition that’s likely to continue for quite some time to come.  Why, I hear you ask.  Is there a new man in my life?  Well…sort of.  Except the object of my affection has been dead for 528 years.  You see I’m a devoted fan of Richard III, England’s most enigmatic and much maligned king – the last English king to die in battle, in 1485.  The recent dig in the social services car park in Leicester, where his skeleton was unearthed,, has re-ignited my adoration.


I’m a paid up member of the Richard III Society (don’t knock it – the Society has been having 1.4 million hits a day on its website, so clearly I’m not alone in my interest!), and I’ve done an awful lot of reading about Richard and his life and times over the past 30 years.  I’ve happily and heatedly debated the ‘did he, or didn’t he?’ question regarding his two nephews, too often to count.  So the Leicester find and subsequent academic and historical interest has really excited me.


Last Saturday (March 2nd)I went on a one-day conference at Leicester University, entitled “The Greyfriars Dig: A New Richard III?”.  I was beside myself with excitement, as were the 500 fellow Ricardians attending.  And no, they weren’t all crusty old academics or badly dressed weirdo’s living in a 15th Century twilight world.  They were ordinary folk drawn together by their love of history and the desire to see this dead monarch of ours seen as a human being rather than as a pantomime villain.


It was an awesome conference, with some truly high quality speakers, sharing their knowledge and experience with us.  I don’t know how many of you actually watched the original “King in the Car Park” documentary on Channel 4, which featured Philippa Langley, the woman whose tireless dedication made the whole thing happen.  By dint of rather unkind editing the programme made her seem like an over-emotional loony.  This was far from the truth, as she’s actually a highly intelligent and articulate woman, and a successful screenwriter.  As one of the key speakers, she explained the long history of the project and LeicesterUniversity’s involvement in it.


Another speaker was Caroline Wilkinson (Prof. of Craniofacial Identification in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee – try saying that quickly after a night in the pub!), who was fascinating in her explanation of the reconstruction process of his face based on computer regeneration of his skull.  They’d brought the head for us to see; it was much smaller than I expected, which underlined the fact he was only about 5’ 6” and slightly built.


And the business of his ‘hunch-back’?  Not entirely Tudor propaganda as it happened, as he clearly had scoliosis, curvature of the spine.  Originally the scientists involved had said he was a hunchback, but then had to admit they’d made a mistake – scoliosis is a different condition altogether and much more common than people think.  Some really famous people have it, and it hasn’t done their reputations any harm, e.g. (amazingly enough) Usain Bolt, and Elizabeth Taylor.  But deformity was a moral judgment in the Middle Ages.  Richard would have accepted it in the same way as he might have accepted wearing a ‘hair shirt’.  It certainly didn’t hamper his prowess as a warrior, and all accounts, even those of the usurping Henry VII, refer to his bravery on field.

Prof. Mark Lansdale, an Experimental Psychologist, discussed Richard’s Psychological profile, outlining the Elements of Psycopathy – narcissism, self-preservation, disordered thoughts and difficulty with inter-personal relationships.  He said Richard didn’t display any of these trains, although Henry VIII did.  Therefore, in his view it was extremely unlikely that Richard was a psychopath…there’s no evidence for it.


And…did he/or didn’t he kill his nephews? Well the jury’s still out on that one.  Although it’s interesting that son of Richard’s brother George, Edward of Warwick, had a much stronger claim to the throne than the two princes given Edward IV’s supposed illegitimacy.  Yet he was alive, and was finally executed 14 years later by Henry Tudor. You go figure.


There’s so much more – I could go on for a very long time…don’t even get me started on the armor and weaponry…I’ve always been turned on by men in armor!!  So I’ll stop before your eyes glaze over and you cross me off your Christmas card list.  But if you want to know more about Richard and his life and times, log onto the Society’s excellent website – – and watch this space for Ricardian inspired poetry over the next few months.


And talking of poetry and writing, March has two brilliant features and a special guest to inspire you.  There’s the multi-talented Morgen Bailey (writer and blogger extraordinaire), the warm and wonderful and Rosemary Harris (poet, novelist and all-round good egg), and Special Guest appearance by Margaret Eddershaw, (poet, writer and performer) flying in from Greece to join us.  That’s on Wednesday, 13th March at the Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden. Kick off 8.00 p.m. £5./3


So be there or be square,




Some pics from February’s Loose Muse





Kate Fox reading from Fox Populi






Agnes Meadows hosting



Nandita Ghose









At last I have some time to continue with The Famous Novel!  Hoooray!!! I seem to have been writing it for about a hundred years, and there are those who probably believe that it’s actually a myth and that I’m just playing at being a writer.  I can’t say I blame them because it’s been several months now since I put down my pen – first I was travelling  then I had a commission to write 10 poems, then I was in hospital, and then life kind of got in the way and I had to do some ‘day job’ work to pay the rent.  All this conspired to prevent me from finishing the master work.


But now, finally, I’ve got the Christmas holidays to devote myself to getting my heroine out of the terrible mess she’s in.  As some of you may know, it’s a historical novel – provisional title ‘The Book of Betrayals’ – set in the 12th Century between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades…a turbulent enough period by any standards.  My heroine is a woman soldier (yes, there women soldiers!) who has fought in the regular army of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Comnenus in Constantinople.  But to make life even harder, when the book opens, she regains consciousness in a forest in the south of England, and she’s lost her memory…not a good position for her to be in, especially not with the church’s attitude to women in the 12th Century, and her covered in blood with a jewelled sword in her hand and no idea who she is or what has happened before.


If you want to know more, you’ll have to wait until I’ve finished the book and see it on the book-shelves.  I’ve only got another 30,000 words to write before the first draft is finished, and I’m hoping to break the back of that before I return to work on the 7th January.




As you can imagine, there’s an awful lot of research that goes into writing something historical, and I’ve come across some seriously weird and wonderful facts in my research on life and habits in the 1100’s.  For example – and believe me once you’ve read this, you’ll never ever forget it…promise! – a suggested method of contraception for women was to (wait for it!!) to tie the testicles of a dead weasel round their neck.  I promise you this is true!!!  It’d certainly do the trick, I think…no block would want to come near you once he saw the weasel testicle necklace, and that’s for sure.  Watch this space for more weird and wonderful facts in the weeks to come and things hot up novel-wise.


But, writing frenzy notwithstanding, I’m not forgetting the next Loose Muse is on February 13th featuring novelist Kate Fox and playwright poet Nandita Ghose.  AND don’t forget to send in your submissions for the next Loose Muse Anthology by 31ST  January for the third anthology, to be launched early March.




The New Year is here!



Hey gang,


Welcome to 2013, and let’s hope this year is the year we all get what we need in spades, and that all surprises winging their way to us are diamond geezers instead of nasty, evil demons that ride on our shoulders whispering doubt and vitriol in our ears. 


One of the last things I did in 2012 was write a report for the Arts Council on the what had happened with the first year of the grant it had given to Loose Muse, plus an article for Write Out Loud on its Tales from the Venues slot, also on Loose Muse (which should be published some time in January).


Looking back on our progress, even I was surprised at how much we’d actually done.  For example, since Loose Muse started in 2004, we have featured over 160 women writers of all genres drawn from all over the country and overseas – from the USA to Argentina, Europe to Singapore via the Middle East.  True it’s a tad poetry/poet heavy, but that’s my world, so hardly surprising.  But those who attend know it’s completely cross-genre, with novelists, playwrights, bloggers, song-writers and journalists as well as women writing flash fiction, shorts stories, or who work in film, theatre or radio.  Basically Loose Muse is for any woman who write anything at all, so that those who want to write can learn from, and share skills with, those who already do.


The grant has also enabled Loose Muse to commission six writers so far for two series of poems and four short stories, as well as produce two amazing high-quality Anthologies of new writing by women, with a third one open for submissions – deadline end January, with a launch probably early March, so get your submissions in soon!


And Loose Muse is also going national, with gigs/events planned over the next few months in Manchester, Surrey and Loughborough (at the university there), all with a view to encouraging women young and old to pick up their pens and start writing.  Way to go ladies!!  I’ve also got my eye on expanding this list to other parts of the country, and hopefully collaborating with all kinds of other organizations and groups, so watch this space.  Tomorrow…seriously…the world!


Until then, the next Loose Muse is on February 13th, at the Poetry Café as always, featuring novelist Kate Fox, and playwright/poet Nandita Ghose, both writers of power and strength.  So be there, or be square!