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

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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

TODAY MANCHESTER, TOMORROW…THE WORLD!

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 agnespoet@googlemail.com

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: http://bookerplays.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/a-tale-of-two-cities-loose-muse-hits-london-and-manchester/

 

So come share the passion, share the joy.

Agnes

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

Some pics from February’s Loose Muse

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Kate Fox reading from Fox Populi

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Agnes Meadows hosting

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Nandita Ghose

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Thunder, Lightning and The Weeping Statue of CAFÉ MONO

If it’s been weeks since I last blogged, that’s because I’ve been ill for what seems like an eternity and suffering from severe brain fag. The last time I wrote I closed by saying I’d report on the gig I did in Oslo in September with fellow writers Patricia Foster and Dzifa Benson, so here, at last, are some of the edited highlights.

The three of us were a tad nervous arriving in Oslo on September 18th, only because arrangements had been very last minute, and we had no idea if/when we were being met, where we’d be staying or when our gig was. All we knew was that we’d been booked to re-start the poetry programme of the Café Mono, one of Oslo’s leading music hang-outs, and that Norway had a reputation for being one of the most expensive places on the planet. We’d originally been invited by Oystein Wingaard Wolff, a Norwegian poet of some reputation, who seemed to know everyone in Scandinavia, and whom I’d hosted more than once when I ran Angel Poetry (the companion gig to Loose Muse, which ran until late 2009). But we didn’t have to worry – the very agreeable young manager of the Mono, Harald Christian (or HC as he preferred to be called) had come to collect us and drive us to our hotel. Phew….we wouldn’t have to sleep on the airport floor for the next couple of nights after all!

Dzifa Benson, Patricia Foster and me, Agnes Meadows.

As we drove towards Oslo, the sky darkened and pretty soon we were engulfed in a rain storm of such epic proportions it threatened to wash us off the motorway and into the pine forests stretching endlessly in every direction all around. Several brutal thunder-claps and forked lightening bolts convinced me that the Norse Gods up in Valhalla were greeting us, and telling us to behave ourselves. But as quickly as it had appeared, the storm faded, and we arrived at the Golden Lion Hotel in blazing sunlight.

A quick change of clothes, and the delightful HC took us to Café Mono in the heart of Oslo, to meet up with Oystein and eat what was probably the most expensive lentil burger (Patricia’s a vegan) in the world… delicious though, so I’m not really complaining. Café Mono is an interesting place with a well-thumbed look to it; several dimly lit rooms around a central bar and performance space, with a café and restaurant attached, all of which were heaving with tall young men and women who looked as if they’d just come back from a week in the woods hunting elk. The music was typically melancholic in the Norwegian way. When we asked the DJ if he had anything livelier he looked as if we’d just said a very rude word, shrugging forlorn shoulders with a crisp ‘No’. But we were treated like superstars, and everyone was unfailingly generous and enthusiastic. And they all – and I mean ALL – spoke flawless English, much better than many native-born English, which is a bit of a disgrace really. We’d be performing the next night, so spent the rest of the evening drinking, being generally raucous, and having a very good time indeed (though I don’t know how anyone can afford to tie one on in Norway given the price of drinks…thank you HC for buying us drinks all night…can I marry you?!)

The next day Oystein introduced us to several Norwegian publishers, where we exchanged ideas about poetry and work in translation and explored the possibility of getting some of our work published in Norway. We also had the chance to have a brief look at Oslo. Now I’ve had a life-long love affair with the Mediterranean – cross the Channel and turn right has always been my motto – but I totally fell in love with Oslo; small, clean and perfectly formed, it really is a great place to hang out, and we all wished we could come back to take a closer look at it.

Out and about in Oslo with Oystein and Dzifa.

Can’t remember his name but apparently, he was the founding king of Norway.

And then it was evening, and we were back at the Mono for our gig. Although it’s primarily a music venue, the Mono had a well-attended monthly poetry night until a couple of years ago when the guy who ran it became a dad, parenting winning over poetry, so the night stopped. We were there to kick start it again, and had a lively and appreciative audience who greeted each of us with warm applause. Dzifa and Patricia both wowed the audience with a range of their most powerful and popular pieces, and I was last to go on. And yes, I did read the ‘Shoes’ poem (how could I not?!), which was as much appreciated in Oslo as anywhere else I’ve read it. And I must have been doing something right because I sold every one of the books and CD’s I’d brought with me. Yes… I LOVED Oslo.

Post-performance cuddle with Oystein.

As we were settling in for another good night’s drinking and mayhem, the irrepressible HC said he had something to show us….the famous ‘weeping statue’ inside Mono’s other café across the road. So we all traipsed there to see this statue, the head of a local artist, inside a glass case. The instructions were to step close but not to look into the statue’s deep-set eyes…which meant of course that’s precisely what everyone did. Poor Patricia was the guinea pig, and got well and truly caught. She peered into the glass case, closer and closer….when sudden fierce jets of water shot out of the two eye holes and frightened the living daylights out of her…I swear she lifted two feet off the ground in surprise, and we nearly all wet ourselves we laughed so hard. I’ll post the video in future blog post. It’s hilarious!

And then it was time for us to go home. HC got up at the crack of dawn to drive us to the airport. Leaving him behind was a real wrench, as we’d all grown incredibly fond of him, insisting he must come to London to visit so we could repay some of generous hospitality he’d shown us. And hopefully in the Spring we might get invited back to read at the Mono again…I honestly cannot wait. Really, if you’re wanting somewhere fabulous to go for a weekend break, I’d totally recommend Oslo, and especially the Café Mono. But do take plenty of cash…you’ll need it.

The lovely HC outside our hotel.

And if you want to hear about Patricia’s freak out with the weeping statue first hand, she’s one of Loose Muse’s feature on November 14th, alongside Natasha Morgan. So why not come along and check it out – Poetry Café, 8.00 p.m. £5/£3 concessions. It promises to be another fabulous night out, with just a hint of Norway about it. Love, Agnes