Archives for posts with tag: The Stanza

When I lived in London I practically tripped over celebrities. I walked past actors in the street (Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman) and served Hollywood stars and musicians in shops (Whoopi Goldberg, Andy Summers, Neil Tennant).  Musicians drove past me in cars (Van Morrison, Annie Lennox) & TV chefs walked by me in central London streets (Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson).


I’ve been living back in my native North East for over six years. I don’t “star spot” as frequently as I did in London but I don’t care. Every so often a famous face pops up. I shared the same train carriage as Lemn Sissay on Wednesday morning. We were both heading south from Newcastle. I realised I’d gone and missed him perform in Sunderland the previous night. Oh dear…


But who needs “celebs” when the North East in general and North Tyneside in particular is teeming with Northern Stars?  Last Thursday I attended The Stanza, a spoken word and music night held in Heaton’s Chillingham Arms pub. Chilly was the word to describe the door. I kept my coat on throughout because I had to see Ken Creen  perform. Ken is a wonderful wordsmith and has the comic timing of Eric Morecambe, Vic Reeves and Dave Allen. He also happens to live near me in North Tyneside.

Ken loves words and shares this love with audiences in a humorous and uplifting way. I nicknamed him The Legendary Ken Creen and the nickname sticks because it’s an accurate description. The truth is always authentic.


The next night I performed at a private party in Whitley Bay. The host was Don, who runs Bay Traders on Whitley Road. It was great to share my poems with the guests and to share the stage with local band The Corn Shacks.

This “Soggy Bottomed” four-piece played American Bluegrass, Carl Perkins covers and even Spirit in the Sky using washboard, whistle, flute, uke, guitar and kazoo. Oh and har-mo-nees. Sweet harmonies.


On this much-hyped Black Friday I wanted to point out Northern Stars twinkling before our eyes: Ken, The Corn Shacks but also local small businesses like Don’s Bay Traders and his neighbours opposite on Whitley Road:  Boo Boo and Ted and Happy Planet Accessories. Pay them a visit anytime and support them next Saturday December 5th on Small Business Saturday.



Just a week to go before the next Free as a Bard in Whitley Bay’s wonderful Jam Jar Cinema.

This event’s line up consists of poet and publisher Andy Croft,

andy croft

poet and musician (but I might get a scolding from him for mentioning this) Harry Gallagher

Harry performing

 and singer songwriter Jenny Lascelles.


Tickets cost £5 and are available online or in person from the newly refurbished Jam Jar Cinema.Visit

As well as the acts there will be free fresh fruit, a literary raffle and a bespoke floral sculpture on display.

jam jar

The Stanza 001

Still buzzing from last night at The Chillingham in Heaton. Poets Harry Gallagher

20150116_7073 and Mandy Maxwell

20150116_7081have started a new spoken word evening every month at The Chilly. It’ s called The Stanza and I was one of three poets invited to perform.


I shared the stage with poets David O’Hanlon

20150116_7107 and Catherine Ayres.20150116_7218

I know David but it was the first time Catherine and I had met. Great poets. Authentic, enjoyable performances.

There were also open mic slots and I enjoyed seeing “big names” on the scene like

20150116_7201Jenni “Jibba Jabba” Pascoe,

20150116_7094Kirsten “Apples and Snakes” Luckins

20150116_7195and Jane Burn rub shoulders with newcomers including my cousin Ross Punton.


The audience was brilliant: receptive, interested and engaged. I got a “whoop” after performing my haiku. That was a first….

There were free poetry books courtesy of Borderline Books, the organisation that gives books to the bookless and music from Renata and Trev.

All in all a great night. Next one is Thursday February 19th. Entry: only £2.


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