Matsuo Bashō’s Haiku, William Carlos Williams’ Imagist classics plus poems by Ellen Phethean, Craig Charles, Sylvia Plath, Liz Lochhead, Charles Causley and more. Tonight’s Poetry with Friends at the Mission was a lively and enjoyable do. So good to see new faces alongside our regulars.

The theme was Food Glorious Food and not one but four (Fab Four!)  Roger McGough poems were shared over the two hours. Newcomer Jen’s version of The Demon Drink by William McGonagall got a round of applause. What delivery!


I threw in Rudyard Kipling’s If because…he does write exceedingly good poems.

Our next session is on Tuesday 7th October.  Our theme is Black History Month.  We start our new Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay Library next Thursday 2nd October from 11 am.

Happy Planet’s exhibition runs at Whitley Bay Library this week until Friday and our Open Day takes place the next day at The Mission

happy planet open day


Poetry & Music at the Coast this weekend

Free as a Bard returns to Whitley Bay’s Jam Jar Cinema this Sunday 28th September with poets Ellen Phethean and Kirsten Luckins plus musician Robby Thinman.

Free as a Bard (or FaaB) brings together the best, most accessible poets and musicians from the North East and beyond, places them in the original and convivial setting of the Jam Jar Cinema bar and lets the evening do the rest.

I help organise FaaB and Sunday’s gig will be our third Jam Jar event. The previous two sold out so please buy your tickets in advance online or in person at the cinema on Park Avenue from Wednesday to Saturday.

Tickets £5. Event starts 7.30pm.

Here are our performers….


Ellen Phethean, a founder member of The Poetry Virgins, is a writer and editor.

Wall (Smokestack Books, 2007), a novel in poems, won joint first prize in a Crossover Novel competition in 2004.

Her first collection, Breath (Flambard, 2009), was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award 2010.

Her second collection, Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman was published this year by Red Squirrel Press.

Ellen runs workshops and teaches Creative Writing. Her website is


Kirsten Luckins is a poet and performer based in Hartlepool.

She spent the summer touring her first spoken word show The Moon Cannot Be Stolen around the region and at the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show was runner-up in the Saboteur Awards 2014.

She is North East programme co-ordinator for performance poetry organisation, Apples and Snakes. She blogs

thin man

Robby Thinman has been beavering away trying to learn music in anonymity around Tyneside for decades.

He played guitar in several bands and finally drums in Simon Todd’s band playing good and original material.

Solo, Thinman has been traversing the region’s open mics and jams for the last few years inflicting “songs” on the general public
with his Dylanesque voice.

Free fresh fruit and a literary raffle too!



The Poetry Exchange: nominate a poem that has been a friend to you

The Poetry Exchange celebrates the idea of poems as friends. Producer Bridget Floyer explains: ‘Through live events, recordings and the development of an online catalogue, we capture the insights of readers and share them. We work with readers, poets and actors to explore poems and what they mean to us and take the catalogue out to new audiences, inviting them to become part of the exchange.’

Ahead of their event at Durham Book Festival next month, The Poetry Exchange has an opportunity for people to have a poem recorded especially for them. On 2 October, National Poetry Day, three winners will be selected to receive a bespoke recording of their chosen poem. Nominate online at

stevie smith

Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC  Community Arts Exhibition & Open Day

Our exhibition  to show you what we offer is at Whitley Bay Library Monday 22nd Sept – Friday 26th Sept.

On Saturday 27th September we will have our open day at The Mission, Lower Rudyerd Street North Shields 10am – 4pm

You will be able to find out about our groups and classes in printmaking, crafting, felting and poetry. As well as this Business Advisor Toni Clark of SES, will be available to talk to any women interested in exploring the possibility of setting their own business.

If you would like to drop in and meet us we will have the kettle on.

facebook Happy Planet creative Arts CIC

 Happy Planet

Fourteen poems discussed, full moon admired from window and coffee cake shared. It could only be….Poetry with Friends at The Mission!

 Tonight’s theme was Encounters which resulted in a range of poems shared plus opinions on  Yotam Ottolenghi, Catch 22, croquet and soup made from leftovers.


Poems shared included three poems by attendees plus Mo Ryan’s Saga Love, Tessa Ransford’s Jackdaws and A Hand in the Bird by Roald Dahl.

The theme for our next session on Tuesday 23rd September is Food Glorious Food.


An exhibition about Happy Planet Creative Arts CiC will be held in Whitley Bay library from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th September followed by an Open Day at Happy Planet HQ on Saturday 27th. For more information visit



Rats! I hate cancelling gigs but I’ve had to slice a performance scheduled for Friday morning out of my diary. These things ‘appen.

I was meant to be joining other contributors to North Tyneside Steam, a book about George Stephenson and his locomotive, Blucher at Killingworth’s White Swan Centre for a late morning reading as part of the  Heritiage Open Days weekend.

What a pity. I was looking forward to it.

The Heritage Open Days weekend has something for everyone. My recommendations in North Tyneside are the Killingworth gig and the tour of Pete Mortimer’s house in Cullercoats on Sunday.  But then I would say that. Here’s me and my rucksack  in his kitchen last year.

elaine at pete mortimer's

For more information about the Heritage Open Days weekend visit

Death at Dawn is a specially- commissioned play based around the story of a young North Shields soldier who was executed for desertion in France in 1916.

I was in tonight’s audience of the second night at North Shields’ Linskill Centre. What a play. It’s well written, superbly directed and the actors are amazing.

I was and am still moved by the performance. I can’t put into words how I feel. Go and see it…the play runs until Saturday.

The play, by Peter Mortimer,  was commissioned by the Tynemouth World War 1 Commemoration Project

Tickets are available from the Linskill, North Tyneside Libraries, The Keel Row Bookshop and online via Ticketweb at or

Death at Dawn 001


poetry flyer encounters

Another evening of appreciating poetry at Happy Planet Creative’s HQ, The Mission in Rudyerd Street, North Shields.

Two new poetry lovers joined the regular crew and work discussed included Emily Dickinson’s Ample Make this bed, Jenny Joseph’s Dawn Walkers and Heather Buck’s  Evening.

The theme for the evening was Night Life but we went wandering down different conversational cul de sacs before being called back for tea and cake.

dead poets society

Walt Whitman’s  By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame led to a chat about the late Robin Williams. This seemed like a good excuse for a still from  Dead Poet’s Society. Oh Captain my captain.

The full list was:

Emily Dickinson Ample Make this bed

Walt Whitman’s  By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame

e.e. cummings Nobody Loses All The Time

Alison Chisolm The Office Party

Jenny Joseph Dawn Walkers

Marc Travis Car Far

Anon The Curse of Cruising: It Must Be Time To Eat

Thomas Moore Oft in the Stilly Night

John Betjeman Slough

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Wanderer’s Night Song

Seamus Heaney An August Night

Philip Larkin Wild Oats

Heather Buck Evening

Dylan Thomas Should Lanterns Shine

Edna St Vincent Millay First Fig

The next poetry appreciation evening will take place on Tuesday 26th August and the theme will be Nautical.



Phil Punton is a gifted photographer. He makes his subject feel at ease and gets that certain je ne sais quoi  out of the photo opportunity.

He excels at wedding photographs but loves capturing musicians, dancers and writers in full flow. See his website

I had fun messing around with Phil and his cameras in his impressive garden last month. Hard to believe this one was taken in the Derwent rather than Douro Valley…

Colour in towelling

Phil has captured the thoughtful poet as well as specific family features in these two photographs. It’s wonderful to see glimpses of the dearly departed in my eyes, around my mouth and along my hairline.

B&W thinkingB&W Pulizter crop

Photo credits: Phil Punton Photography


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