Shoreham WordFest: Liberty & Protest videos

We had a lot of fun at Sussex Yacht Club in Shoreham for Shoreham WordFest on Thursday, lovely crowd, great acoustic and though we say it ourselves, some marvellous poems, stories and songs.

Poems by Bernie Howley, Elinor BrooksBrian Johnstone, Jeremy Dixon, Kate Foley and Andrew McCallum; read Carrie Cohen, Elinor Brooks and Greg Page

Stories by Carolyn Eden, Cherry Potts and Liam Hogan read by themselves.

Songs by Sydney Carter, Ali Burns, Albert Nyathi, George Loveless/ Joe Stead and  James Oppenheim; arranged by Melanie Harrold messed around with and sung by a small subset of Vocal Chords Choir, (Cherry Potts, Alix Adams, Bea Jackson, Caroline Dunton, Denise Mueller-Brown and Maria Kirby)

The Privilege of Departure, or Dover Bound, But Delayed by Bernie Howley, read by Carrie Cohen.




Singing We Raise the Watchword Liberty in full with the audience

The second half – stories, and a certain amount of difficulty with the camera cutting out.

Carolyn Eden:

Cherry Potts:

Liam Hogan:

Here’s some feedback from the audience on what they liked (you can hear them joining in on some of the songs)

Well constructed programme, the segues from music into poetry and back again, the variety of interpretations given to the theme of liberty. Bread and Roses, Free White Towel and the promise of a free badge!

Here is an interesting evening, full of fun, wisdom and wit. Hear some moving poems/ stories from those from the past and present combined with our essential liberties.

I love being read to. A very mixed programme which really stimulated my mind and imagination.


variety – the spice of life

I enjoyed the flow of the first half

Loved the storytelling

Singing – chance to join in

Celebrating freedom – and keeping socialist history alive – good songs poems and stories too!

Witty and original writing. Very lively material, good singing.

Songs of Protest and Liberty Tales

A taster of what we got up to at St Hilda’s for Brockley Max – (there would be more but I forgot to turn the recorder back on after the interval for a while)

A barnstorming performance by both our readers, and an exciting mix of traditional and modern protest songs from Vocal Chords.

Silas Hawkins reads Liberty by Andrew McCallum, followed by We Raise the Watch Word Liberty, and Bread and Roses sung by Vocal Chords.

Silas reads The Branded Hand by Brian Johnstone after Vocal Chords singing Dougie Maclean’s Ready for the Storm and finishing with Erile

Carrie Cohen reads Wigtown Bay 1685 by Elinor Brooks with Senzenina before it, and Give Me Wings to finish.

Silas again, reading Tabernacle Lane by Jeremy Dixon followed by Labi Sifre’s Something Inside So Strong

Liberty Tales on Tour Newcastle Videos

Some video from last month’s Liberty Tales reading at Newcastle Blackwells where we gathered some of our more northerly authors together.

Alison Lock
Brian Johnstone (also reading Elinor Brooks and Andrew McCallum)
Richard Smyth

Your next chance to catch Liberty Tales on tour is Tuesday 7pm 10/01/2017 Bath The Gallery, St James Wine Vaults (Combined reading with Shortest Day Longest Night)
Poems from Bernie Howley,  Elinor Brooks, Jeremy Dixon, Jill Sharp: passports, religious freedom, coming out, reading in the dark…
stories from Nick Rawlinson,  Pippa Gladhill, Katy Darby,  Cherry Potts, David Mathews: Fish weirs, old gods, and… we’ll see which stories everyone else decides to read…

The Story Sessions Freedom Tales

Story Sessions logo copyThe first of the new season of The Story Sessions is getting close now, as is the launch and tour of Liberty Tales, and we are going to have to practice ‘power napping’ in the afternoon to cope with all the late nights.

So what can you expect from The Story Sessions, and Freedom Tales in particular?

Stories! the food and drink of the evening, although there is of course food and drink too – we are in a Deli.

Before the interval: a song from resident actor/singer Annalie Wilson, followed by a story from David Steward and a poem from Andrew McCallum Liberty  read by Annalie, and a short TestBed story from Cherry Potts, Morality for Simple Girls (mainly so that people get an idea of what that’s for.)

INTERVAL – replenish your glasses/plates, write us 100 words on freedom, give written feedback on the TestBed session.

After the interval: another song from Annalie, then FLASH FROM THE FLOOR, your chance to wow us with 100 words on theme.

Followed by a story from Jim Cogan, Lag, a poem from Brian Johnstone  The Branded Hand read by Annalie, and finally a story from Liam Hogan,Stalemate

Freedom is never out of fashion. Wednesday 16th November 2016 7pm Brockley Deli 14a Brockley Cross SE4 1BE.

Closest station Brockley (Southern, Overground), and on bus routes: 171, 172, 484.


Reviews of The Other Side of Sleep

Review from SOUTH 51 by D A Prince

This is not, despite the title, a book of poems about dreams but an anthol­ogy – twenty-five poets, twenty-five poems – of narrative poems. Some tell their stories in sequences, others let the story run unbroken, but all are al­lowed a generous length – not always to the poem’s advantage. Tighter edit­ing and attention to structure would have benefited several. I gave up with two, when neither language nor nar­rative could hold my interest. Perhaps the best way to read this anthology is as an exercise in what makes longer poems effective – control of detail, variety in language, shifts in tone. Even in long poems less is more. Jennifer A. McGowan’s ‘Troy: Seven Voices’ varies tone and form for its first-person angles on the effects of war. An­drew McCallum’s Hamnavoe’ (a hom­age to George Mackay Brown) has the most effective opening – ‘listen/ I want to tell you something ordinary’. In ‘Lir’ Angela France succeeds with the son­net corona, fourteen sonnets where the last line of each sonnet is reinvented as the first of the succeeding sonnet, returning finally to the opening line. Brian Johnstone’s sequence ‘Robinson’ is outstanding in every way, running to eighteen pages and never a word too long. Taking the life and poems of Weldon Kees (the American poet who vanished from the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955) as a starting point, Johnstone imagines Robinson surviving a leap from ‘a bridge some miles from the city/ known to all’ and slipping on a series of new identities in his subse­quent travels – Mexico, the Atlantic, the Aegean – writing, smoking, a mys­tery to others, always a solitary who is searching for himself. Whatever name he adopts he remains ‘Robinson’. This poem makes the whole anthology worth searching out.

And from Anne Stewart in Artemis:

The Other Side of Sleep is titled for the Long Poem category winner in Second Light’s 2014 competition. The poet is Kate Foley, whose more recent collections are narratives. The poem tells the story of “Certified Dream Walker: / Death Coach”, Tracy, who is “shrewd as a cat in a bush / full of birds” and her client Basil, who is sceptical but has, nevertheless, sought her out. “Truculence” says Foley, was “a word coined for him.” Basil is within months of dying. Tracy is to mentor him through the process. The characters are well-drawn and their interaction lively. Dream sequences are packed with imagery and walk that (familiar to edgy dreamers) line between strangeness and sense. Most of the poems in the selection are utterly engaging and well-wrought. Jill Sharp’s On the Hunt with Mr Actaeon has us shadowing Actaeon and his dog, Percy (“I can’t have Percy bothering the corgis / so I tie him up outside”) in a very modern update to the myth – and very nicely done “She’s responding to my gaze of wild desire / with such Olympian disdain and cruelty / I gasp and flee”. Bernie Howley – one of several new names to me in the selection – handles her ‘statement and response’ poem I Have No Feet expertly, keeping the two distinct voices (aloof, teacherly, for statements and galvanised, personal for responses) and styles (line break stanzas for the statements and unbroken stanzas for responses) consistent and convincing: “One really should stand poised. // But I grip the cliff wall wishing with fervour that my fingers ended in suction pads”. Brian Johnstone’s Robinson, with 6 titled poems and numbered sections within each, is a joy. p a morbid’s The Black Light Engineer has us lost with the speaker in the vast and empty darkness of (whether literally or metaphorically) space. In a longer review I’d quote from several other poems which impressed me and I will certainly revisit and enjoy again. There were 2 pieces which I felt let the side down badly. Other than that I found it an interesting, entertaining selection and was glad to see an anthology focussing on this much-neglected genre.

Buy a copy

Launching The Other Side of Sleep – Brighton

Huge thanks to Jane at Bom-Bane‘s for hosting us for our Brighton launch, and for singing!

A couple of the recordings have already been posted, but here are the rest of the readings from the evening – it was too dark to film!

Jonathan Rice reading Grass was Taller by j.lewis


Jonathan Rice reading On the Hunt With Mr Actaeon by Jill Sharp


Kevin Cherry reading Hamnavoe by Andrew McCallum


And Jane singing one of her own compositions.

Andrew McCallum – Hamnavoe

Andrew McCallum‘s poem Hamnavoe, which is in our forthcoming anthology The Other Side of Sleep, published this Thursday, was recorded as part of an audio book, Samplings; you can hear it here