Archives for the month of: October, 2014

Pear flavoured marshmallows from Gareth James, the chocolatier in Tynemouth were sampled during this morning’s Poetry with Friends session at Whitley Bay Library. The jury is still out on the mallows (sorry Gareth) but we love your chocolates and hot drinks!

gareth james

The theme of today’s session was Otherness. It was a tough one but we managed to chat about:

I’m Nobody! Who Are you by Emily Dickinson

Discipline by George Herbert

I Would Like to be a dot in a painting by Miro by Moniza Alvi

The Grey Eye by Martin Figura

The Mystery of Pain by Emily Dickinson

Death by George Herbert

Every Day Life by Svetislav Stefanovich

To my Master in Zen by James Kirkup

The Quest for Tropical Paradise by Sheree Mack

Night by William Blake

Full Walnut Moon by Jen Hadfield

Corpse by Kirstin Luckins

What an interesting couple of hours!

The next Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay is on November 13th. Come and join us. Visit for more info.




The inaugural Newcastle Photography Festival is taking place this week until Sunday 26th. The festival was inspired by the considerable achievements of local legend, Joseph Swan.


Tonight a play by local writer Barry Quinn was performed at The Lit and Phil as part of the festival. The play, The Life and Works of Joseph Swan was rehearsed under considerable time pressure but the cast, consisting of Colin and Lewis Cuthbert and Willem Evans plus director Mary Pickin should be proud of their achievements. Congratulations to cast, director and writer, Quinn.

Last night I attended North East Rising by performance poet, Rowan McCabe. The show about north East identity is funny and thought provoking. It features Geordie Shore, Stottie Cakes and Joseph Swan.

rowan poet

It’s been a delight to watch and listen to Rowan growing as a writer and performer. Last night was the icing on the cake. North East Rising is at Stockton’s ARC tomorrow.

For more information about the Photography Festival visit

‘The Mind’ and ‘Humour’ were the themes explored in today’s Poetry with Friends @ Whitley Bay Library.

Poetry by Robert Browning, Jean Sprackland, Spike Milligan, Carol Ann Duffy, John Clare, Natalie Smith, Wendell Berry and more led to debate about school, mental health and well-being, Venice, Dartmoor, Cambridge, Whitley’s Jam Jar Cinema  and…themes for future sessions.

john clare

Future dates for Poetry with Friends @ Whitley Bay Library:

  • October 30th. The theme is ‘Otherness’
  • November 13th. The theme is ‘Secrets’
  • November 27th. The theme is ‘Previously…’
  • December 11th. Attendees to bring their own poems…or ones by favourite poets.

Happy Planet


 The final weekend of Mima’s Louise Bourgeois retrospective is celebrated tomorrow, Saturday 11th October by North East women poets.

Local poets in collaboration with local theatre company Precious Cargo have devised a performance piece which will take place in Mima, Centre Square, Middlesbrough, TS1 2AZ.

louise b

Spoken word star Sophia Blackwell, Tynemouth’s very own Sheree Mack plus spoken word collective,  Tees Women Poets will perform at 2pm and 3pm.

For more information visit


What links Groucho Marx and Alice Walker? Why, croquet of course! It’s amazing what you can learn at a Poetry with Friends session.

Tonight’s Poetry with Friends at The Mission was stimulating and extremely enjoyable.


Tonight’s theme was worn, as usual  like a Hawaiian Lei garland around the neck, rather than a dog collar at the throat of a bulging-eyed pitbull.

The theme was Black History Month and it took us from Africa to Australia via London, Birmingham and America. Intelligent debate jostled with a tale of playing table tennis with Susan Sarandon and,er, more William McGonagall.

Poets featured included John Agard, Phyllis Wheatley, Rita Dove, John Masefield, Alice Walker, Sheree Mack, Niyi Osundare and Louise Gluck. Maya Angelou featured four times and Audre Lorde two times.

audre lorde

Tonight was well-attended which meant participants had to leap on and off the poetic Wurlizter in order to share poems. What a ride.

Our next Poetry with Friends at the Mission is on Tuesday 21st October and the theme is Work.

Please visit Happy Planet’s blog for details on how to book plus more info on our other events including Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay Library on Thursday October 16th


I celebrated National Poetry Day by chairing a brand new Poetry with Friends meeting in Whitley Bay library.  The session, run by Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC was fun. I enjoyed it very much.

We kicked off with one of my poems, Souvenir of Tynemouth. The poem was written earlier this year as part of my ongoing collaboration with the artist Anne Proctor.

We also shared poems by Seamus Heaney, George Charlton, W.H Auden, William Wordsworth, Edward Lear, Issac Rosenberg, Jane Kenyon and Naomi Shihab Nye.

edward lear

naomi shihab nye

Ellen Phethean popped up again (one of her poems was shared at the last Poetry with Friends in North Shields) and there were two poems each by Ted Hughes, Keats, Yeats, Stevie Smith  and Dylan Thomas.

Poetry with Friends @ Whitley Bay Library will run every other Thursday from 11am to 1pm. The next session is on October 16th and the twin themes for the session are Humour and The Mind.

Our Tuesday night Poetry with Friends @ The Mission in North Shields runs every other Tuesday evening from 7pm to 9pm.  Our next session is on  October 7th and the theme is Black History Month.

Poetry with Friends costs £3 and includes as much tea, coffee or water as you want. Biccies are usually available too. Please pre book your place by emailing


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