National Poetry Day

Tomorrow, Thursday 6th October 2016, is National Poetry Day, and this time Hull based company A Car Load of Poets are getting involved.

Vicky Foster and Ian Winter, the brains behind A Car Load of Poets, continue to work extremely hard to bring, and produce, quality poetry in the next UK City of Culture.

Seven months ago they started Women of Words, a monthly gathering on the first Wednesday afternoon of the month at Kardomah 94 on Alfred Gelder Street.

While that continues to blossom, judging by the proven, and fresh, talent I’ve seen there, and it’s growing audience, our two heroes continue to reach out to the poetry world, and tomorrow is no different.

I spoke to both of them this afternoon at Kardomah 94, Ian Winter said: “Fortunately we’ve got Kardomah 94, and we’ve got Central Library, which are really open to ideas, which has helped get it off the ground.

“I think we’ve got 20 groups taking part, there’s not many I can think of what aren’t involved.

“We’ve got two stages, one at Central Library from 1pm til 4pm, which I’ll man, one at Kardomah 94 from 10am to 10pm, Vicky Foster will be opening that.

“The night time is a top performance poetry night, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Fazackerley and Stan Skinny and a special surprise comedy act is coming.

“We’ve got local poets Mike Watts, Peter Knaggs Lucy Clarke and Josh Overton on. There’s Open Mic and we’ll be doing a few poems as well.”

Newish group The Artful Codgers came into the convesation next: “The Artful Codgers were set up by Terry and Sue Ireland, Dave Osgerby, I think Richard Harris is in it, they just kicked off, I think the more groups we get involved, the more the merrier.”

The idea behind A Car Load of Poets came from a desire to promote talented poetry in Hull.

“Hull has some outstanding poets, who deserve to be on stage with the very best.

Malcolm Scott has also been a driving force behind tomorrow, with his well known enthusiasm for the artistic scene in Hull.

“Malcolm Scott has always been very encouraging, he’s like a breath of fresh air, because without Malcolm Scott in the town, there’d be a lot of writers, playwrights like myself either wrapped up, or just continue taking work out of town.

“Tomorrow will hopefully become a regular event, the groups here will hopefully take them out to the community and schools.

“This is just the foundation for it, to be a bigger and better event. Hats off to all the groups, there’s been no thinking about it, it’s been yeah I’m on board, I’m on board, which is fantastic.”

“There’s another creative outlet coming from this dynamic duo as well: “We’ve got a new thing starting in the new year called The Word Hull.

“That’s going to include spoken word, comedy and music, that’s probably going to be on at Kardomah 94, one evening a month, and that will be like a collaborative event.

“Most of the stuff I do is collaborations, Monologues Slam is done with Andy Wilson and Lucy Thurlow, so that’s 20/20 Theatre with Penny Duck Theatre and Scarlet Lights.

“I’ve got Vicky Foster involved with A Car Load of Poets, I always try to involve other people with stuff like A Car Load of Poets.

“You go to Manchester, you go to York, you go to Sheffield, and they all reach out, Joe Hakim and Mike Watts a few years ago were trying to do that for Hull.

“I’m just picking up from where they stopped really.”

Chatting to Vicky after Women of Words, she said: “National Poetry day happens right across the country every year.

“What we decided to do was try and bring local groups together, so we spoke to the libraries and the James Reckitt Trust, and they kindly funded the day and the night.

“So basically we’re going to be having a stage that runs here at Kardomah 94 from 10 in the morning, until 10 at night.

“That’s going to be in two sections, the first will be from 10 til six, there’ll be about 20 different local poetry groups, they’re all going to pick 20 minute spots, and in between those spots, we’ve got open mic available.

“In the evening we’ve got performance poets, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Ferzackally and Stan Skinny.

“Also, in addition to that, we’ve got a stage running at Central Library from one til four tomorrow afternoon and you’ll see some of the local poetry groups performing there, and there’s open mic spots available there too.”

The attraction of National Poetry day, it seems, is just a natural progression for our talented twosome, who spend a lot of time travelling around on our behalf.

Vicky continues: “We travel around a lot, listening to, and performing poetry and we’re aware that there are a lot of different groups in Hull doing poetry.

“We just wanted to bring those groups together so people can collaborate.

“Also it just gives people a chance to hear a lot of different voices, which is what poetry is about really.” This statement draws a little giggle from this thoroughly engaging lady.

There’s plenty of attraction for her to this event: “I’m really looking forward to all of it, particularly tomorrow night.

“Some of the performance poets who are coming tomorrow night, I really, really like, so I’m looking forward to seeing them.

“There’s a guy who plays the guitar, from the open mic circuit, and I know he’s been writing a bit of poetry, and he’s coming tomorrow morning to perform some poetry for the first time.

The final question is, If people feel like just doing a bit of poetry, they should just come along to this? She replies instantly: “Yes, that’s right.”

I would readily suggest, please go and support this event, it’s bound to be an absolute triumph, I’ll see you there.


Photo L to R: Vicky Foster, Hannah Davies and Audrey Dunne

Documentary Film Treatment

I have written this treatment for the documentary we are making about the Fruit Market area regeneration.



The Fruit Market area on Hull Marina is being transformed to the point that it will be almost unrecognisable compared to how it was.

So far nearly £5M has been spent on regenerating the much-loved area that is seen as the cultural hub of the next City of Culture, but will it survive the work?

A team of students are going to introduce us to the area, show what was, what is and what, hopefully, will be as this formerly dilapidated old area is breathed back to life for new and old established businesses and creative works.

With the eye-catching new C4Di building and The Deep to attract the roving eye of the multitude of visitors expected in 2017, and other iconic places such as The Minerva public house and Fruit warehouse theatre what does the future hold?

What does the regeneration mean for the famous Humber Street Sesh music festival and the Freedom Festival not long after that?

Will the Humber Street area be ready for its own events in 2016 to provide a prelude to what is destined to arrive the following year?

Revolutionary Andrew Pearson

He’s the normally super-cool artistic director of Hull-based Ensemble 52 Theatre Company but his latest project is seeing Andrew Pearson remind us all of a turbulent and red hot part of recent history.

Revolutions is the latest work to spring forth from the pen of playwright Dave Windass, harking back to the year of 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down, Tiananmen Square was rocked by riot and Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown and the UK said hello to rave.

Fortunately he didn’t have to do much research about the historical period that the production covers because it comes from a period that he already had an interest in and also had its brainchild in a previous production by Ensemble 52.

“We did a production called Euphoria a few years ago which took place around lot’s of different units in the fruit market area and it was about the history of club culture and the one that did really well which seemed to gravitate more towards people was the one that covered 1989.

“Then last year was 25 years since 1989 which was one of the most important years in the latter half of the 20th century but of course people were concentrating more on the first world war commemorations and not many people seemed to clock the fact that it was 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down, since Tiananmen Square and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe so I wanted to do something about that.”

We then moved on to the potential of the production being educational as well as entertaining, he says: “I think there will be an element of that but it’s certainly not going to be a history lesson, the work that we do we try and provide a stimulus so that people might want to go away and research that subject, so I would like to think that people will come and be entertained and we’ll maybe peak interest in that period and people will go away and look back at it.

“It’s also nice to maybe sort of spur people on and look at their own lives and how they would like to see things in their future.”

We then spoke about what sort of legacy the production could leave and whether what happened in 1989 could happen all over again, the ace director replied: “In some ways I think we’re always in a sort of state of revolution but when things get to a critical mass it becomes more obvious like we had the Arab Spring a couple of years ago.

“Can we do it all again? We’re not there to ram it all down anybody’s neck we just want to ask certain questions and let people figure it out for themselves.”

With just two weeks of rehearsals to get everything right cast and crew don’t have any time to play with before opening at Freedom Festival and then moving onto Hull Truck Theatre but I can’t help but think this production will be a massive winner.


Dave Windass Talks About Heads Up Festival And It’s Future

Hull playwright Dave Windass has spoken about the upcoming Heads Up Festival which will start on Saturday 5th September as part of Freedom Festival for the third time.

“We’ve been delighted to start Heads Up as part of Freedom Festival which has allowed us to take some really good shows to Freedom, but the festival is going to be restructured from next year,” he said.

Heads Up Festival has always been a twice yearly event every March and September but from next year it will be an annual event with it taking place in March although this doesn’t mean that Heads Up won’t have a bond with Freedom Festival.

“We hope that Heads Up Festival, as a brand, will be able to contribute theatre to Freedom Festival,” he continued.

Talking about the changes coming due to the involvement of Battersea Arts Centre coming to an end as well he said: “We’re in ongoing conversation with Battersea Arts Centre to make sure that Heads Up has got a future so it’s part of a thing called the collaborative touring network.”

Speaking next of future plans for the festival moving forward to 2017 with a purposeful look about him he says, “We’re seeing it as maybe a bit of an international festival, kind of like maybe the Edinburgh Fringe, although that’s a really big ambition.

“The festival was already going before we won City of Culture so Heads Up was a sign of Hull’s ambition, but now we want it to grow and go to other parts of Hull other than just in the city centre.”

We then spoke about what shows that are coming up in September for this Heads Up Festival and the first one that gets mentioned is one written by Mr Windass called Revolutions which has been in development for about two years and is being shown by Ensemble 52 at Freedom Festival first before moving on to a short run at Hull Truck Theatre.

“For me as one of Ensemble 52’s team, and the writer of that show, it’s very exciting to present that show as part of Freedom Festival and at Hull Truck.

“We’ve also got a show at Freedom Festival called At The End of Everything Else which is going to be in the big top and it’s powered by pedal power with the actors actually on bikes to provide the power for the show.

“Wot? No Fish!! Is also a great show that will be on at Kardomah 94 on the 2nd weekend of the Festival.

“The whole festival has some really innovative work that’s really human to the core that people will be really able to identify with.”

Talking about companies that Heads Up would like to forge partnerships with names like Middle Child, Silent Uproar and Pony Express Theatre Company are mentioned along with many others.

“Hull’s theatre ecology is really exciting and I think Heads Up is a really good umbrella for them to present their work.”

ChristopherBrettBailey_THISISHOWWEDIE_2_Credit Claire Haigh


revolutions poster

Rosie Millard, Hull and City of Culture

When Hull won the bid for City of Culture 2017 Rosie Millard could have been forgiven for climbing to the top of the building she was in at the time and screaming about it with sheer excitement.

She may have been born and raised in Wimbledon but she has enduring memories of her adopted city from her time studying English and Drama at University of Hull.

Now talking to me in the bar area of the Holiday Inn on the marina she cuts a very relaxed figure but one which has a burning desire bubbling just under the surface. It is a desire to see Hull as a place of growth and economic stability in 2017 and beyond.

Upon being asked how the plans are going so far for Hull’s year in the spotlight she says “The plans are going very well so far.

She continues to tell me “The year will be broken up into 4 quarters based on Hull, the first quarter will be Made in Hull, the second is Roots and Routes, the third is Freedom and will tie in with the Freedom Festival and the final quarter will be based on Quirkey and Hullness.

Going more in depth she says that the first quarter is all about things that have come from Hull such as bridges and works of art. She also explains that the second quarter is more about Hull’s heritage, what it’s known for and why people want to come here because it’s removed enough from the glare of London and has its own identity.

The third quarter is to be based around the exploits of William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery and the final quarter will be celebrating Hull’s quirks like cream telephone boxes.

“We’ve looked at the bid to see what made it so strong and why Hull won and now we’re expanding on it.

Telling me that it will be totally unique and will not resemble anything like what places like Liverpool and Derry did in their year in the spotlight she says “It will be great that all the events will only be seen in Hull.

Continuing with great excitement she says “UK City of Culture is for places that have had economic difficulty but now you can see the growth that Hull is attracting.

“We won’t build a hotel in Hull but I would think that somebody will now.”

I asked her what she thinks to what’s happening at Hull Truck Theatre with the announcement of them receiving an 8th bailout in 4 years, she replied “Many contemporary theatres are regularly in trouble and it was always going to be difficult moving from Spring Street but Mark Babych is a great artistic director and I’m sure he’ll get it back on an even keel.”

She also tells me that Rufus Sewell is the man behind the recently announced deal between the National Theatre and Hull and says it’s great that they will bring more great shows to venues like Hull New Theatre.

She says that having Hull City in the Premier League has also brought growth and she thinks Steve Bruce is a great manager and that he will get them away from the relegation zone.

Asking her about rugby league she answers with great purpose “I think it’s fantastic that Hull has 2 Super League teams. Rugby is very strong and important in Hull and it’s great that there are 2 teams who are so connected to different areas of the city.”

She also reminds me of Hull Stingrays Ice Hockey team saying “My son loves Ice Hockey.”

Asking her about Kardomah 94 and what might a small place like that bring to the party Rosie tells me “It has a lot of potential, Malcolm Scott has got some great plans there like a projection from across the road onto the outside of the building.”

Mentioning her comments about how she thought “Grafton Street was the coolest place to live in Hull” when she was studying at the university she says “Yes it was, with Paul Heaton at one end and Roland Gift at the other.”

I ask her what she thinks to the culture here now and if it is as exciting now as it was in 1984 and she assures me it’s every bit as exciting now and more.

She also tells me that when she was studying here that there was nothing on the marina and says it is now an amazing place.

The overriding fact that has come out of our conversation seems very much to be that City of Culture is about engaging with the people here and not from anywhere else, Rosie Millard is one very energetic cog in what appears to be a very well oiled machine, and with her boundless enthusiasm for the job at hand I believe Hull really can’t go far wrong.