The Most Glorious CakeFest Ever!

Agnes with the winning cake made by Rachel joseph

Hi gang,

Yeehaa! LM celebrated it’s 10th birthday on 10th September, and at last am able to write to you about it.

It was a mega cake-fest, enough cake to make your heart and veins whimper in despair. Ironically, Sara-Mae Tuson, my incredibly hard-working fellow editorial group member, had texted me that afternoon to say she was worried there wouldn’t be enough cake. She’d spent the day baking cupcakes (which were absolutely delicious by the way…I had two and could easily have scoffed half a tin full without a qualm!). I had wanted to bake something, but spent the afternoon in total despair because there was no electricity in my block between noon and about 4.00 p.m. (don’t ask!!). So couldn’t log on or print anything out, or do any of the things I wanted to do ….aaargh! I had to go to M&S and buy two cakes instead.

As all of you who were there know, there was enough cake to feed an army of poets for a month. Even though we ate vast quantities, gave away as much again to everyone who would take it, I still had to take a stupendous amount home and was therefore eating cake for a week. My teeth and gut still haven’t stopped protesting, and I haven’t been able to look at anything remotely cake-like since then – though this will pass, I’m sure.

The night was a stupendous success. Sara-Mae and Chikodi Nwaiwu had both come earlier that evening and worked like Trojans to set everything up and make the room look a bit special. I love them both, and it would be absolutely true to say the night wouldn’t have been what it was if it hadn’t been for their hard work. We also unfurled the fabulous Loose Muse banner, which had been designed and made by artist Catherine Tuson. It looks amazing, so a massive thank you to Catherine, even if she wasn’t able to be there on the night to see the unveiling.

Sally Spedding had come all the way from Wales to be the other feature – she was totally fab. She’s a novelist whose work concentrate on the dark and dangerous, definitely right up my street, and a truly lovely, lovely person. She’s keen to help me set up LM Wales in the New Year, and has been talking to venues. A lot of women writers seem very keen indeed to get something going there, so watch this space. And as always there was an incredibly strong open mic with 16 readers sharing their poems and short stories with an enthusiastic audience. They had come from Cornwall, Winchester, the south coast, NYC, and Spain – lots of old friends as well as some new faces, all joined by the desire to see women’s writing get the credit and credibility it deserves.

I got flowers and pressies and had the satisfaction of a lot of people telling me how much they valued LM and everything it stood for/represented, which was extremely gratifying. It’s always nice to know that what you do has value beyond anything you imagined.

And so we go from strength to strength. The next LM event in London is on October 8th and features novelist/poet Fathieh Saudi and award-winning poet Malika Booker – there won’t be any cake, but it promises to be another exceptional night. So why not join us then at the Poetry Café…

Come along and share the magic.

Love

Agnes

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Loose Muse 10th anniversary – here’s to another decade! – part I

Sara-Mae Tuson, Loose Muse board member, holds up the new banner made by artist Catherine Tuson.

Sara-Mae Tuson, Loose Muse board member, holds up the new banner made by artist Catherine Tuson.

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The audience prepares to be wowed.

Agnes Meadows with the winning cake by Rachel Joseph.

 

Agnes Meadows with the gorgeous new commemorative banner made by artist Catherine Tuson.

 

 

Cake galore

The Spectre of Abandonment

Loose Muse Anthology Autumn 2013

Hi gang,

I am soooooo excited!! This week is going to be a truly amazing one, because I’m one of the artists involved in Lorraine Clarke’s ‘The Spectre of Abandonment’ exhibition, which opens on Tuesday 9th and runs until Sunday 14th September at Candid Arts.

All of you who’ve bought one of the Loose Muse anthologies will have seen Lorraine’s truly awesome work because she’s allowed Loose Muse to use her art work for the covers of all five anthologies. And if you’ve ever been to her studio in Tottenham, you’ll know what an extraordinary artist she is.

Anyway, a few months back she and I were talking, along with fellow writers Sue Johns and Sarah Reilly, and all agreed how much we’d like to do a collaborative project together thus ‘The Spectre of Abandonment’ exhibition was born. Sue, Sarah and I have written new poetry/prose inspired by some of Lorraine’s existing work, and Lorraine has produced new art work inspired by the poetry of us three writers. She’s also included new sculpture with her own poetry…must be hell to be so talented!!!

As Lorraine says in the exhibition’s publicity, “Spectre of Abandonment” is ‘an exhibition of installation and sculpture exploring how the art forms of fine art and poetry can interact’, and it’s alrady attracted a lot of interest which is marvelous.

We’ll be doing readings of the poetry we’ve written each day of the run, with all three of us writing at the Private View on Tuesday 9th September – open 6-9.00 p.m., readings 7-9.00 p.m. One or more of us will be reading each day between 7-9.00p.m. (I won’t be there on 10th as I’ll be hosting the Loose Muse 10th Birthday event at the Poetry Café on that day).

All of us will be reading on Saturday13th, and finally again on Sunday 14th with readings from 2-4.00 p.m. So there are lots of opportunities to come and see us all strut our stuff, and the best thing is it’s FREE so you’ve no excuse not to be there. Candid Arts is at 3-5 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, which is literally right next to Angel Tube, so it’s easy to get to. If all of this is confusing you, just look at www.clarke-art.co.uk for a full list of opening and reading times.

I’m really excited about working with such a talented bunch of women, and having had a bit of a preview of some of the pieces Sue, Sarah and Lorraine have produced as a result of our collaboration, I know the creative breadth of the work is incredible. Hopefully you’ll agree when you come along and see the end results.

See you there I hope…

Love

Agnes

 

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:

ONE MINUTE SPEECH CHALLENGE @ 2.00 p.m.

Saturday 22nd February @ Resource for London,

365 Holloway Road, Islington N7 6PA

For more information and how to register:

http://www.jeanmarcpierson.com/events/2014/2/22/the-one-minute-challenge

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.

Love,

Agnes

Finding inspiration in the bleak mid winter

 

The view from my window… I wish.

Hi gang,

Now that Christmas is well and truly over and 2014 has got off to a wet and windy start, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’d like to accomplish in the New Year. M OK, OK yes, top of the list is regaining my girlish figure…again!!  But much more important, and more likely to be achieved, is the following 5-point plan:

  1. Given The Famous Novel (working title ‘The Book of Betrayals’) is in the last stages of first draft completion, I want to start planning the sequel, provisionally called ‘The Book of Journeys’.  This will tell how my heroine goes back to Constantinople, journeying across a Christendom tearing itself to pieces on the eve of the 3rd Crusade, to reconcile her past with her future.  More research I guess, but hopefully it’ll be worth it when it’s done.
  2. Start writing my next book, NOT historical, but a fantasy novel, working title ‘The Conference of Dragons’.  This will be about…yes, you got it…dragons.
  3. Spend a lot more time lazing on a Greek beach and remembering how much I love Greece and the Greek people.   It really is one of my favourite places, and always makes me feel as if the Greeks really have got the meaning of life absolutely nailed.
  4. Spending a lot more time with friends, especially those I’ve known for most of my life and whom I’ve neglected shamefully over the past few years.  We always think that those we love will almost be there at the end of the phone whenever we want.  But having lost a few old friends in the last 12 months, I know this isn’t true.  I’ve reached the age where people I’ve known for a long time are dying, which is a sobering thought on so many levels.  This novel-writing lark has turned me into a proper recluse, but that’s no excuse to forget about the people who love me and not to be in touch more.  We are all mortal, and life’s too short for ‘”If only I’d taken the time and trouble…..”.
  5. And lasting, organize a few more Loose Muse events + get more funding for it, so I can spread the net even wider, both in terms of sister-events in other parts of the country, and also getting a wider spread of writers to feature.  I’d also really like to strengthen the publishing element of Loose Muse so that I can publish pamphlets and collections by women writers who haven’t yet had a collection published. I can think of lots of incredibly talented women writers who fall into this category, and want to get those off the ground once I’ve been able secure funding to make it happen.  So definitely watch this space for this idea.

And talking of Loose Muse, the event on February 12th is already looming on the horizon.  February features will be novelist Sally Spedding coming from Wales, and the multi-talented Hilaire.  So join us on February 12th at the Poetry Café.

Come along and share the magic.

Love,

Agnes

Feeling competitive? Get your work out there…

Hi gang,

This month instead of blogging about life and the meaning of the universe, I thought I’d highlight a few writing competitions, and give people a chance to enter if they wanted to.  I get information on all sorts of different comps and don’t always have the chance to pass the information on, or even to enter myself, so the least I can do is make a list of some of them here.

 

Words and Women – A new prize for writing women in the East of England

1st Prize – £600 – winner and runners up feature in Words & Women’s flagship anthology.

Deadline: 30th November

Judges are looking for distinctive work, crafted, strong, creative and adventurous.  Open to all women living in the east of England, over the age of 16 – short fiction, memoir, life writing and creative non-fiction, up to 3,000 words.  For more information go to www.wordsandwomennorwich.blogspot.co.uk

 

South Bank Poetry – 2nd SBP Poetry competition

1st Prize – £200, 2nd £125, 3rd £50. 4th Prize a 2-year subscription to SBP mag, 5th 1-year subscription + all published in the SBP Edition 18 in 2014.  Judge – Clare Pollard

Deadline: 30th November

Entry fee £3 per poem.  No entry form required, send 2 copies of each poem, one anonymous, one with name & e/contact details to: Peter Ebsworth, South Bank Poetry, 74 Sylvan Rd, London SE19 2RZ. Cheques/postal orders payable to Peter Ebsworth.

 

Ink Tears Short Story Competition 2013

1st Prize – £1,000, runner up £100, 4 Highly Commended £25 + the chance to have your collection of short stories published by InkTears.

Deadline: 30th November

Submissions must be 1,000-3,000 words in English, on any theme.  Entrants must be 18 years or over. Each submission must be accompanied by £6.00 entry fee, payable via Paypal.

Full entry Rules on – www.inktears.com/Inktears/WritersNewWritersContest.html

 

The Plough Open Poetry Competition 2013

1st Prize – £1,000, 2nd £500, 3rd £250.   Judge – Sir Andrew Motion

Deadline: 31st November

Submissions no more than 40 lines, typed single-space in standard 10-12pt font, one-sided on A4 with no identifying marks.  Entry fee of £5 per poem, cheques in stirling payable to The Plough Arts Centre.

An entry form must accompany each entry downloadable from www.theploughprize.co.uk

 

Words for the Wounded Writing Prize

1st Prize – £250, 2nd £100, 3rd £50 + all winners published in Writers’ Forum.

Deadline: 11 March 2014

Words for the Wounded is a charity for the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen & women.

Write no more than 400 words of fiction, or a real-life tale, or poem, on the theme of The Journey, a physical or emotional journey.  For more info look at: www.wordsforthewounded.co.uk

 

I know there are lots of writing competitions happening all the time – maybe it’s about time Loose Muse started its own in 2014 – but these are some to get you all writing, and maybe it’ll be a Loose Muse supporter who actually wins.  Hooray.

 

Next Loose Muse is on December 11th, with Manchester poet Rebecca Smith and romantic crime novelist Claire Dunn, so it promises to be another good one you’ll be sorry to miss.

So come along and share the passion, share the joy,

Love – Agnes

THINGS GOING BUMP AND OTHER PUMPKIN HEADS

The pumpkin decapitator strikes again!

The lights were low, the atmosphere was spooky, and the stories and poems were straight out of the Hammer Studios.  No, not a scene from ‘Britain’s Most Haunted…’, but the Loose Muse Pre-Hallowe’en Special Gothic Open Mic Night.  Well, being a closet Goth, what else was I going to do for an extra Loose Muse event at the end of October but add a dash of Dracula and the chance to hear some truly horrible writing in the run-up to Hallowe’en.

And we had a good night with lots of variations on the dreadful, the doom-laden and the down-right scary.  For my money Niki Aguirre’s nightmare short story about a woman who dreams of being followed by a faceless Man In Black was one of the high spots, although it did mean I slept with the light on when I went to bed.  That’s the trouble with having such a vivid imagination (and having trained as a psychic…yes, really!), it means every creaking floorboard, cold draft and odd noise in the night freaks me right out.

Having said all that, October is still my favourite month, and Hallowe’en one of the celebrations I enjoy most.  Just to set the record straight for those who’ve been led to believe it’s a night of unparalleled evil and devil worship, Hallowe’en has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which was a celebration of the end of the harvest season, and a preparation for the darkness of winter.  It is an ancient festival when the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead are at their thinnest, and the passage between the two worlds is easiest.  It was also a way for people to celebrate their ancestors and to get in touch with those who had passed over.  So yes, it was sometimes on the scary side (imagine sitting on a hillside in the October darkness centuries ago, with midnight approaching, waiting for that doorway to open and reveal….well, you get the picture!!).

But it had nothing to do with vampires, evil hauntings or devils waiting to snatch your soul away.  That came much later with the church’s hunger for control and power, plus the commercialization that have turned it into what it is today.

When I lived in Canada (about a million years ago), my pals and I had a great variation on the ‘trick or treat’ game where children would knock on your door and ask for sweeties.  Instead, we went ‘trick or drinking’, so every door we knocked on in down-town Vancouver was offered the chance to give us a drink or be ‘tricked’ in some way.  Of course, we didn’t really trick anyone, and by the end of the night we were absolutely plastered.  But we had a great time, and everyone we had a drink with thought it was as much fun as we did.  It’s a different world now of course; if a bunch of strangers turned up at my door one night demanding alcohol, I’d probably call the police!  Aaaah…the innocence of youth.

Anyway, only a few more days to the November Loose Muse, which will be held on the 13th, and feature poet Jacqueline Gabbitas and writer Leah Thorn.  It’s going to be another good one – when are they not – so I hope you can come along and share some of your work with us, be it ghostly, ghoulish or just plain great.

So come along and share the passion, share the joy.

Love,

Agnes

THE NATIONAL HEALTH WAS NEVER LIKE THIS IN 1177

You’ll never look at this the same way again…

 

As any of you who have ever tried writing a historical novel will know, you have to do a truck load of research to make sure you get all the dates, facts and figures right so your story is as accurate and colourful as possible.  This is both a pleasure and a problem.  A pleasure because you learn an awful lot more about the era your story’s set in and the characters living at the time.  A problem because:

a)    it’s never ending, and

b) you also unearth some truly weird, wacky and wonderful stuff – thus the subject of this blog, specifically stuff relating to health and medicine.

My novel’s set in the 12th Century (it opens in 1177) – a time of supreme brutality, violence and weirdness.  If I had a £5 note for each time something I had read in the course of my research had made me exclaim out loud ‘Get out of here. No way!’ (or mother colourful words to that effect), I could go on a long holiday somewhere warm and sun-kissed.

I’ve already blogged about weasel testicles being used as a method of contraception, but check these facts out:

  1. To ward off plague, tie a shaved live chicken to the groin.  It doesn’t say whether you could eventually eat it with roast turnips, or how long you were supposed to keep said chicken tied to said groin.
  2. The church decreed sex was not to be indulged in for pleasure even within marriage, and people were not allowed to make love on Sundays, Holy Days, Feast Days, or during Lent, pregnancy or menstruation.  If these rules were disobeyed, deformed children or lepers would result.  Which explains a great deal about the state of the nation!!
  3. To cure toothache, the ancient Egyptians suggested you should cut a mouse in half and place the half rodent on the afflicted tooth.  It doesn’t actually say which half, but I suspect this tip probably worked because you’d be vomiting so much you’d forget all about the toothache.

I could go on, but that’s probably enough to put you offer your dinner so I’ll stop.

My aim was to get this novel finished by Christmas and so far I’ve finished just over 100,000 words, and it looks as if I might actually achieve my goal.  Hooray!!! I’ve become such a recluse while writing this novel, I’m surprised people still recognise me on the rare occasion I turn up at gigs.  And I’ve hardly written any poetry in the past year…too busy living in the 12th Century with my head in a totally different place.  There are other things I want to write, including my fantasy novel ‘The Conference of Dragons’ which has been smoking away on the bookshelf of my imagination  for a long time now…so, as usual, watch this space.

In the meantime, don’t forget we’re having a Special  Pre Hallowe’en Gothic Loose Muse Open Mic at the L’Osteria Restaurant in Greys Inn Road, London on Tuesday 29th October – 7.30 p.m. £5 donations would be very much appreciated to keep things moving until I can get some more funding.  And the next Loose Muse is on November 13th and features Leah Thorn and Jaqueline Gabbitas.

So come along and share the passion, share the joy.

Love

Agnes

 

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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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