Archives for posts with tag: Gail Curry

Poetry with Friends, the poetry appreciation session with a difference has been running for over three years now. Gail Curry and I started the sessions back in summer 2014 in North Shields and we continue to meet fortnightly on Tuesday nights but now in Whitley Bay’s Big Local building.

We’ve seen attendees come and go, come back and others, our regulars, have hung around like an unpleasant odour. Gail and I have tried to get rid of them but no joy. ONLY JOKING David, Alan, Rowland, Linda etc etc!

Last Tuesday’s meeting saw me flying solo without Gail but with eight poetry fans.  I decided to ask everyone to name their favourite poet and biscuit. The answers (in no order):

Garibaldi, Roger McGough, Dark Chocolate Hob Nobs, Shortbread, Gail Curry, TS Eliot, Chocolate Digestives, Edward Lear, Larkin, Ted Hughes, Tunnocks Tea Cakes, WB Yeats and a brand of biscuits I can’t remember (and I can’t read my handwriting). Sorry. Here’s a picture of Boyd Tunnock, the man who invented Tunnocks Tea Cakes. Awesome!

We shared poems by Hughes, Larkin, Geoffrey Smith, Dylan Thomas, Wilfred Owen, Kipling, ee cummings, Geordie Broon of Backworth, Maggie Gibson, Tom Hirons, Sassoon, June Portlock, Dorothy Parker, Carol Ann Duffy plus poems by attendees: Rowland, Alan and I.

We’ll meet again on Tuesday 21st November and on 5th December. New members are welcome. All we ask is you contact us beforehand so we can look out for you and make you welcome. Email gail@happyplanetcreative or phone Gail on 07752356880. Each session costs £4.50.


Most of my friends are writers. Sorry if that sounds pretentious but it’s true. Well, it’s inevitable, innit? Especially here in Whitley Bay. There must be something in that salty sea air. It attracts writers as well as musicians and artists.

I love working with creative pals. In recent weeks I’ve been helping two of them, Sandy Chadwin and Gail Curry with various  gigs, talks and a book launch. I’m going to use this blog post to promote their forthcoming gigs this month. So there! That’s what friends are for, eh?

This coming Thursday Sandy will give a talk on the writer MR James  in Newcastle’s  Old George Inn  The event is called The Ghost Stories of MR James: Games of an Antiquary. Doors open 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets cost £2.50 and are available in advance here I’ll be there with friend and colleague Jennifer C Wilson helping Sandy set out the room and welcoming punters. Sandy’s an expert on MR James so come along and find out more about the writer’s work which is a potent mix of donnish humour and subtle horror.

Five days later I will be co-hosting Gail Curry’s gig at Whitley Bay library. Gail published her collection of poetry Lines from an Unfinished Love Song to mark this month’s World Mental Health Day and aims to raise awareness of issues that can affect anyone.

Lines from an Unfinished Love Song  charts a journey that began in 2000 with a chance meeting in Warsaw. Gail’s poems describe 17 years of friendship, love, loss, grief, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and finally recovery.  All proceeds from the sale of the book go to Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland.

I co-hosted Gail’s “soft” launch of the book at The Laing Art Gallery earlier this month. The room was filled with friends. The gig at Whitley Bay library will have friends in the auidence but also, gasp! Members of the public! This gig is part of Gail’s journey to recovery. Please support her by joining us on Tuesday 24th October. Tickets are free but you must prebook by phoning 0191 643 5390.

I’m proud of Gail, Sandy, Jennifer (two book launches under her belt this year!) and all my friends. You don’t have to be a writer to be in my gang but it helps if you like writers as chances are I’ll introduce you to one!

Poetry with Friends is three years old! Gail Curry and I held our first Poetry with Friends session on a Tuesday night in June 2014. Those early poetry appreciation with a difference sessions were held in North Shields overlooking the river. We moved over to Whitley Bay last year but have moved venues several times. We’ve swapped venues again this month but we’re hoping this time it’s for good.

We held our final PWF in St Paul’s Church on Tuesday 13th June. We shared poems by Yeats, John Burnside, Carol Ann Duffy, Pam Ayres, Geordie Broon plus poems by three of our PWF gang.

bay tradersOur new Tuesday night venue is the Big Local building which is opposite St Paul’s Church in the centre of Whitley Bay. The building used to be Walkers Furniture. It’s next to Bay Traders.

Our first meeting in our new venue takes place this coming Tuesday 27th June  7pm to 9pm. Cost: £4.50 (includes refreshments). Why don’t you join us?

Poetry with Friends is a poetry appreciation group with a difference. I think the difference is our merry band of North East England coast-dwelling souls care about other group members. Care and concern for fellow attendees of our meetings has led to friendships as well as the publication of at least one book.


Yesterday’s book launch in North Shields of Kisses from Above by John Gardham Lowe is a direct result of caring about another poetry lover. John was a regular at Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC’s Poetry with Friends groups. John wanted to get his work published and asked me for advice. I helped fulfil his wish but sadly he died before the book was printed.

In the past week Kisses from Above has featured in our local paper, The Journal, on BBC Radio Newcastle and we’ve nearly sold out of copies of the book. The “we” I’m referring to includes John’s “kids” (as he used to call them), son and daughter Steve and Deborah plus publisher Angie Stanger-Leathes of Limelight Classic Productions and Gail Curry of Happy Planet Creative Arts.

johns-accordian-boxJohn will never been forgotten by his chums at Poetry with Friends. How can we forget his smile, his love of John Masefield and playing the accordian, his cheeky sense of humour and his baking skills?! Our poetry groups resume meeting this week after an extended Christmas break. Our first Thursday morning session of the year takes place this Thursday 26th January at Whitley Bay library from 11 am. It is followed next week by our first Tuesday evening session at St Paul’s Church centre on the 31st from 7pm. I suspect we will be talking about and sharing poems from Kisses from Above.

kissesThis coming Sunday I will participate in the launch of Kisses from Above, a collection of poems and stories by John Gardham Lowe. I’m proud of my involvement in this project. The story behind it is touching and I suggest you read veteran North East journalist, Tony Henderson’s telling of it by clicking here.

Please join us for the book launch this coming Sunday in the Low Light Heritage Centre, North Shields Fish Quay from 2pm to 4pm

It’s important to feel safe when you’re out in public but not everyone feels confident and comfortable in crowds. My local council, North Tyneside has developed a Safe Place scheme to support vulnerable people to feel safe when they’re out and about in the borough.

safe-placeThe scheme involves a growing network of local businesses, including banks, post offices and cafes, who have agreed to be a Safe Place, where anyone who feels unsafe of vulnerable can call in and ask for support. Safe Places are easy to identify as they display a nationally-recognised logo in their window.  Anyone who is a member of the scheme can go into a participating building and ask for support.

Someone would use a Safe Place if they felt lost, upset, afraid or threatened or if they lost their belongings or friends.  The Safe Place staff will then contact family, carers or the police if necessary.

Happy Planet Studio and Gallery on Ilfracombe Gardens is a proud member of the scheme. Happy Planet is a safe space for all where you can relax, feel comfortable, learn something and have a laugh. Why not see for yourself tomorrow on Small Business Saturday? Happy Planet will be open as usual from 9 am to 5 pm and there’ll be free tea and coffee on tap.  And don’t forget, Happy Planet is a Safe Place tomorrow and every day. happy-pee

Happy Planet Studio & Gallery
3A Ilfracombe Gardens
Whitley Bay
NE26 3ND

Poetry with Friends is the poetry appreciation with a difference group I attempt to co-parent with artist Gail Curry from Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC. I say “attempt” because Poetry with Friends (PWF for short) bypassed baby steps and teething and is now marching around Whitley Bay in DMs making new friends and dragging them along to our Thursday morning and Tuesday evening sessions.

happy-peePoetry with Friends has been running for over two years. We’ve seen a few friends come then go but there’s a core group of approximately 15  bods who flit between Tuesday evenings in St Paul’s Parish Centre and Thursday mornings in Whitley’s library.

I’ve missed quite a few PWF sessions this year so Gail has been in Madame Chair’s hot seat for most of 2016. If Gail can’t make a session I cover but sometimes (very occasionally) neither of us can make a PWF session. Thanks then to one of our Thursday “regulars” Joyce for chairing last Thursday’s session. The group welcomed newcomer Liz and shared some of their own poems plus work by Dylan Thomas, Cole Porter, Geordie Broon, Robin Moss, Vicky Arthurs and A.E Houseman.

Joyce said there was “LOTS of chat and good fellowship” last Thursday. Thanks, Joyce.

blakeThis Tuesday’s PWF saw me in Madame Chair’s seat. It was good to catch up with the PWF regulars and welcome back a poetry fan who first joined us almost two years ago. We shared poems by writers including T.S. Eliot, Ogden Nash, Mike Pratt, Louis MacNeice, William Blake and poems by some of the group. I was struck by David’s choice “In Praise of Songs that Die” by Vachel Lindsay.

PWF regular Ken Creen turned up halfway through the session. He’d just been to see Jo Scott read her work at Monkseaton Library.  This coming Monday Ken and I will perform with fellow Poetry with Friends regular Harry Gallagher at John Hegley’s gig in Whitley Bay Library. All three of us are looking forward to sharing the stage with John.

happy-planet-tooNext Thursday’s Poetry with Friends will see Gail back in Madame Chair’s seat. Welcome back. Your PWF friends have missed you.


Summer’s here but I’ve been busy putting the final touches to my autumn/winter 2016 programme of workshops and one to one creative writing mentoring sessions. It’s a bit complicated in the sense I’m running events via two organisations but let me explain…

I run workshops and offer one to one creative mentoring under the name  The Next Page and run workshops  on behalf of Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC.

 The Next Page is the arts organisation I run with local writer Jennifer C Wilson. We organise workshops, run Pure Fiction with Sandy Chadwin and I offer one to one creative writing mentoring sessions. These hour long sessions in Whitley Bay are set to run on the first Saturday of each month. There are spaces left for Saturday 3rd September.

Book a session with me and I promise I’ll boost your confidence as well give you honest advice and feedback. Please visit


Onto my work with Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC and we’re running a programme of creative workshops running through to December 2016 at the Old Low Lights Heritage Centre on North Shields Fish Quay. Artist Gail Curry will run workshops on mixed media art journaling, needle felting and more. I’m in charge of the creative writing ones.

I’m running Talking Nonsense: In Praise of Comic and Nonsense Poetry on Tuesday 11th October, travel writing workshop Journeys of the Mind on Tuesday 8th November and finally Words of Comfort (Food), a workshop containing the recipe for successful food writing on Tuesday 6th December. Visit

Fancy trying something new? Then come and try a creative workshop.

Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC has just published its new programme of creative workshops running from August to December at the Old Low Lights Heritage Centre on North Shields Fish Quay.

Artist Gail Curry will run workshops on mixed media art journaling, needle felting and more. I’m in charge of the creative writing ones.

Gail’s workshops start in August and mine will run one a month on Tuesday evenings from October to December.

I’m running Talking Nonsense: In Praise of Comic and Nonsense Poetry on Tuesday 11th October, Travel writing workshop Journeys of the Mind on Tuesday 8th November and finally Words of Comfort (Food), a workshop containing the recipe for successful food writing on Tuesday 6th December.

Click and scroll for more info…

Poetry with Friends on a Tuesday evening has a new home! We start our fortnightly Tuesday evening sessions next Tuesday in St Paul’s Parish Centre in Whitley Bay. Here are the details and dates up to the end of year for Tuesday and Thursday mornings in Whitley Bay library.

st paul's


Poetry with Friends @ St Paul’s  on alternate Tuesday evenings 7pm to 9pm in St Paul’s Church Hall, Whitley Bay NE26 2TH. Cost £4.50 per person including refreshments.

Dates for Tuesday evenings in 2016 up to Christmas:

July 12th, 26th
August 9th, 23rd
September 6th, 20th
October 4th, 18th
November 1st, 15th, 29th
December 13th

Poetry with Friends @ Whitley Bay Library group meet on alternate Thursday mornings 11am – 1pm in the Priory room on the ground floor. Cost £4.50  per person including refreshments.

Dates for Thursday mornings in 2016 up to Christmas

July 7th, July 21st
August 4th, 18th
September 1st, 15th, 29th
October 13th, 27th
November 10th, 24th

%d bloggers like this: