A brand new UK tour of poetry & performance – from Lydia Towsey, Shruti Chauhan and Jean Binta Breeze MBE

Shrewsbury Rocks

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Picture Credit: Lucia Cunningham

Well, a week or so after our last post here’s one to say that Shrewsbury did us proud. Coming at it with a truckload of lights, mics and bodies we divided ourselves between a car and a train and sped across the countryside to arrive at the birthplace of Darwin in a whirlwind of activity.

After hotfooting it to BBC Radio Shropshire for a bit of a banter and poetry recital, we headed straight down to Shrewsbury Library for a busy workshop – then after a quick sit down went straight into the show.

It’s hard (heh, heh) to know where to start with how happy making it all was…

The people in the workshop produced some incredible pieces via three separate exercises we each took a turn in leading. For two of the pieces created see our ‘workshops’ tab and look under Shrewsbury – the ones posted were produced by drawing on the books in the library (figuratively speaking, of course!) and pivot on the power of selection and the genres and processes of collaboration and surrealism. It’s safe to say that Shrewsbury is in no short supply of talented writers.

The show itself was lovely. A veritable hoard of people braved the rain and turned out to pack the space. Responding to the unique mix of audience members (including a lovely man from Mid Wales) and the fact that Shrewsbury is but a mere stone’s toss from Dragon Land, I did some of my Welsh material – and we all adapted to the space, each other and happily the incredibly warm people with us.

The event was opened by Mia Cunningham, Shropshire’s Young Poet Laureate – and at just 14 she performed and read with a stunning assuredness that belied her years.

Afterwards, our brilliant MC, Sheena Batey presented us each with a little box of the lushest handmade chocolates (ever) – and a pamphlet about the library and it’s history. This last was particularly lovely for me as on the train down I’d learnt that my partner had spent the first 4 years of his life in Shrewsbury (who knew?!) and that my mother-in-law had visited the library every Friday with him in tow to look at the baby books and have a bit of literary space.

Other nice people we encountered included Robert Harper, local writer, actor, director (obvious good egg) and editor of Bare Fiction, a literary journal of poetry, fiction, theatre and comment. Robert came along to the show with his lovely young daughter and gave Jean, Alison and I a wonderful copy each of Bare Fiction. We also did a bit of a poetry swap, with Robert kindly handing over a copy of his excellent and beautifully crafted pamphlet, Poisoning The Black Dog – and me exchanging this for a poetry poster about zombies. More on this (perhaps) another time…

We’ll sign off with some audience feedback on the show, just sent over by lovely Sheena. Needless to say, we blush and are really looking forward to our next show in Wolverhampton…

Our Lovely Shrewsbury Audience:

‘Amazing!!!’

‘Excellent in every sense’

‘Thank heavens for diversity, the poetry was open ,wild and scary and I was exhausted with feeling so much’

‘It was moving and funny, I identified with all three poets, thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I am not normally a poetry fan. The best event ever held in the library’.

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~ Lydia Towsey
wwww.secretagentartist.wordpress.com

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