Monthly Archives: April 2014

Scarborough Flare’s Bright

Scarborough Flare was magnificent and a true showcase of local literary and artistic talent. The best part, for me, was working with like-minded folks and experiencing the creativity flowing over.

My event ‘Taking Tea with Edith Sitwell’ was well attended and received. I even managed to enjoy it, despite my nerves. In the final part of it, with the invaluable help of Felix Hodcroft and Rosie Larner, we created a collaborative poem, which blew us all away. Read it here:!blogger-feed/cxz4/post/6428544556236913615

I also want to give special mention to the Hull2Scarborough Line’s ‘The Remarkable Mr Rutherford’. It not only introduced me (and probably most of the audience) to some very evocative and thought-provoking poetry, but also brought the actors Pauline Collins and John Alderton in amongst our midst. We all sat in the intimate space of the Sitwell Library at Woodend spellbound by the words and performance being woven around us.

Well done to everyone involved in Scarborough Flare, it just shows what can be done with a great deal of volunteer time, goodwill and pertinacity. I feel sorry for those who missed it!

Only two days to go to Scarborough Flare

The nerves, the excitement and the continual checking of lists are kicking in now. I am very proud to be a part of Scarborough Flare, a celebration of local talent. It has risen phoenix-like from the ashes of previous years’ Lit Fests, fuelled entirely by the perseverance, the goodwill and the endless volunteer hours of some lovely creative people.

We have put the hard work in that others may enjoy… so come along and see what it’s all about:







The Future is Indie!

We have ‘indie’ writers and publishers, guerrilla artists and now ‘indie’ festivals like Scarborough Flare ( This is both exciting and daunting.

When I lived in the US working for an anti-poverty non-governmental organisation, I was impressed by the amount of grassroots energy I came in contact with. This is a side of that country which rarely gets into films or the media, it’s not glossy or sexy, but it does get the job done. Though these community actions are not without their difficulties. They are born of necessity where the state is almost wholly absent. They often fizzle once the founding volunteers have been sucked dry of their energy. And they are frequently isolated, unable to learn from other similar projects or from the past. Still I felt there was something admirable in the reflex of folks to get together and make things happen. It was something I was not so used to seeing in this country. Until now.

Leaving aside what the current government is doing to our welfare state and NHS, it is clear that money for the arts (especially outside London) is vanishing quicker than Monty Python’s rat up an aqueduct. Those of us who think that writing, creativity, storytelling, performance, art are essential and not just luxury add-ons to human life, are going to have to learn to shift for ourselves.

Even in this country, we have historical antecedents. Virginia Woolf’s husband set up a press to see his wife’s works published. Some of our best loved poets’ collections were brought to fruition by subscription. It’s really only been in the last hundred years that we’ve had a publishing ‘industry’ as such. Growing from companies created by individuals who loved books to what we have today, for the most part dominated by conglomerates which are profit motivated, risk-averse and overly obsessed by celebrity.

So we have fertile ground for the ‘indie’ and the guerrilla, of which Scarborough Flare is a fine example. Fuelled only by passion, persistence and many, many voluntary hours, it is on track to deliver an exciting and inspiring programme.

However, with my State-side experience in mind, I wonder are we up to the challenge? How will we ensure we learn from other similar endeavours and also from the past? How do we turn ourselves from mere writers into event organisers, volunteer organisers, PR supremos? Are we able to stay open to a breadth of works while maintaining the excellence of our offer?

All of us who are involved in Scarborough Flare should be very proud of what we have achieved this year on so few resources. I personally think the members of the committee have worked a minor miracle in bringing and holding everything together. Now, looking to the future, are we ready and able to keep Scarborough Flare ‘indie’ and something of quality?

The Edith Sitwell Legacy

‘Legacy’ is an ‘in’ word right now – the Olympic legacy, the Commonwealth Games legacy and so on. I hadn’t considered a legacy for this ‘year of Edith Sitwell’ but thanks to the Poetry Society it looks like they might be one. Not only have they put up an Edith Sitwell challenge on their Young Poets’ Network,, they are also talking about creating a lasting resource on Edith Sitwell for schools. Thus opening up a whole new generation to her poetry and writing.

Scarborough Flare,, is also reaching out to young people with their story chair project, encouraging budding storytellers as well as enrapturing children with stories. Check out their website for a fab programme for both readers and writers.

Writing Workshops in Scarborough

It is now three weeks and 24 hours before Scarborough Flare kicks off ( and a little bird tells me that tickets are going fast. My ‘Taking Tea with Edith Sitwell’ is almost sold out! Good old Edith, she can still pull in the crowds.

Don’t miss out. There are also some great writing workshops to encourage our natural storytelling imperatives and nurture our creativity.