Finding Poetry in Hay-on-Wye

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Its been an amazing ten days of sunshine, canvas and books as Hay Festival celebrates it’s last full day of festivities for another year.  I’m lucky as it’s right on my doorstep – (literally, 2 minutes door to door as the ice cream flies). Authors have wowed, stewards have gently herded and shuttle buses have pinged to and fro from town and country with more smiles and efficiency than I’ve readily experienced from their city based peers. Yes, a whirl wind of words and ideas and I’ve loved it!
I’ve also completed my self set Hay Festival 2016 Poetry Challenge for this year. A little over an hour ago the tenth and final ‘found poem’ from this years Hay Festival programme winged it’s way onto instagram, twitter, facebook and beyond.
PHEW! I was definitely feeling the pressure at 9am this morning with coffee in hand and my usual dazed expression.

But, it was a most enjoyable experience and I will be doing the same next year.

IMG_20160604_112359In other news, I spent two days working with Arts Alive Wales (AAW)  alongside the lovely Emma Beynon. I offered the idea of a ‘collective poem about Hay’ which everyone could contribute to. Emma at once agreed and said it would look great if each addition was hand written by it’s author. Emma’s enthusiasm is contagious, paper was torn, pens were drawn and the rest as they say, is history.

I can’t emphasize enough what an absolutely incredible response we had. We began modestly adding lines on the door, but such was the popularity of this idea we soon required the whole wall of the opposite building to post this given words. English lines, Welsh lines, poets and public alike contributed.

I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who made our wall of words such an unexpected, but beautiful success.

Hay Festival always manages to give everyone a creativity boost – bravo guys! xxx

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Fantastic Feedback For Shared Reading Project in Hay-on-Wye

We’re speedily heading towards week 8 of our 10 week Shared Reading Project, “Memories Are Made Of This”, kindly supported by the Dementia Matters in Powys charity.

Weather permitting we’ve enjoyed full sessions, with lots of lively discussion where wonderful memories have been aired and new friendships have been formed. It’s been enormous fun and I just wanted to share some of the fantastic feedback we’ve received so far.

(Don’t worry if you can’t read the text in the photo – I’ve written the feedback below.)


Q – Did you feel welcome ad included in the group?
– 100% answered YES

Always made to feel valued and wanted”

“I knew at least half of the group and everyone joined in the discussion.”

“Same ‘age’ group. Reading by Emma so good it makes the story come alive.”

“Always the same – very friendly and informative.”

“Yes, to meet the joyous, intelligent people.”

“Friendly, companionable, welcoming.”

Q – Did you think the location of the venue was a good choice?
– 100% answered YES

“Excellent – quiet friendly – good size.”

“Light, airy and Jayne (librarian) very helpful.”

“Easy to get to and some parking.”

“Good seating – good lighting.”

“Warm, light and airy.”

“Comfortable, relaxing and warm.”

“Could not be more appropriate.”

“Central Local Library.”

Q – Did you have trouble following the text or hearing the reader?
– 100% answered YES

“Leader speaks very clearly.”

“All very clear and interesting.”

“Speaks well and clearly (and I am deaf!).”

“Very well explained.”

“Speaks clearly so that even we ‘deafies’ can hear.”

Q – Would you recommend these Shared Reading Groups?
– 100% answered YES

“They bring out everyone’s memories, encourage good conversation.”

“No matter how shy – everyone contributed a memory.”

“Informative and friendly.”

“They bring new ideas and interesting slants on things that are normally not even noticed.”

“Yes – they help people to mix and talk and laugh.”

“Very sociable and jolly group.”

“Mind expanding experience.”

Q – Sum up in one sentence your experience today.


“Very enlightening.”

“Informative, friendly.”

“Enjoy meeting other people and hearing about such varied lives.”

“To make you understand the reading of the day.”

“Very enjoyable and informative.”

“An enjoyable occasion.”

“An excellent session – most informative and entertaining.”

“Made me feel good – took me out of my daily routine.”

“Interesting – varied opinions – good company and laughter.”

“It was extremely enjoyable.”

“A sociable occasion and one that I hope to repeat.”

“Informative, enjoyable, helping me to see things though other eyes.”

“Trips down memory lane.”


“So glad I came.”

Q – Would you be interested in returning to my Shared Reading Groups?
– 100% answered YES

“A jolly and informative group.”

“I love the readings and discussions.”

“It is such a pleasure to talk and meet other people.”

“Gets me out of the house.”

Q – Is there anything that I could have done to have made your experience more successful?
 – 100% answered NO

“You did everything possible.”

“It was most successful.”

“Really enjoyed it.”

“Provide some champagne!”  (<– there’s always one!)

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Saboteur Nominations for FOUND ME by Emma van Woerkom

Please Vote for Hay Library & Found Me at the Saboteur Awards 2017. 😎📚✔

The Saboteur Awards 2017 pic-page-INSTAGRAM

I’ve recently learned that my modest poetry pamphlet ‘FOUND ME’ has received numerous nominations for a Saboteur Award – it’s incredible news!
Nominations close on 31st March 2017, so there is still time to vote and I’d love to see my pamphlet on the shortlist – it will help boost the profile of Hay-on-Wye Library and it’s dedicated supporters (HOWLs) who want to keep it open.
If you can spare a minute please vote – instructions below.
The Saboteur Awards 2017

Website –

Click on the ‘NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN’ button (upper middle)

You have to vote in 3 categories for the vote to count, here are some suggestions:

Best Poetry Pamphlet – FOUND ME by Emma van Woerkom

Wild Card – Emma van Woerkom

Best Spoken Word Performer – Susan Evans

Best Anthology – Driftfish by Zoomorphic

Best Poetry Magazine – Mslexia


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Cracking Celtic Crime Noir – Book Review

Remember No More by Jan Newton –  A Majestic Mid-Wales Murder Mystery.

Sometimes, a glorious opportunity falls into your possession that you simply can’t ignore. For me, the most recent arrived in the shape of a weighty, A4 pre-publication manuscript of Jan Newton’s debut crime novel, Remember No More, from Honno Press.

I have to say, it’s been one of the most delicious reads I’ve enjoyed in a long time. I’m no remember-no-mmorestranger to Jan’s prize winning short stories. She has a superb skill at crafting well-paced, intriguing tales and creating memorable characters; you know, that elusive type you either cheer for or find yourself shouting at! I wondered, could Jan weave her storytelling skills over a three hundred page novel….only time would tell.

So, it was very late on a Sunday night when I finally began reading.  I (foolishly) imagined that ten pages would be my tally before sleep would overtake me. I could not have been more wrong. Exhaustion finally halted me at page one hundred and fifty eight! I simply could not put this book down. The following morning, bleary eyed, I immediately pawed the bedside table for the remaining pages. Within hours I’d feasted, and I can tell you, it was good!

Right now I am fighting the urge to spill the beans, to let you know who, what, where and how…..but why should I rob you of this pleasure. Jan has totally succeeded in stepping up from a short story to novel proportions without any loss of stride or charm. She has also given us a detective novel firmly rooted in mid-Wales from someone who knows the subtleties of both location and locals.

“From up on the hill, the cottage looked like a dolls’ house, dwarfed by the steep-sided valley.  She could see Cam just along the lane, and cows, like little figures on a fuzzy-felt board.  Directly beneath her a collection of low farm buildings huddled in the lee of the hill.  That must be Menna’s.  She could hear the whine of a quad bike drifting up the valley.  For the first time she began to realise the significance of each person, each farmstead in this remote landscape.  How many people had lived on her street in Manchester?  How many of them had she met or would even recognise if she met them in the pub or the supermarket?  The quad bike rounded the crest of the hill.  She could see the collie clinging onto the back, the dark-clad figure of Joe, hunched over the handlebars like a kid on a BMX, as though that would make the bike go faster.
As she watched Joe, she thought how conspicuous she must be here, how conspicuous any newcomer must be….” Remember No More, Jan Newton.

I’m not alone in praise of this excellent book “Elegantly written, meticulously paced…A rare treat from a fine storyteller“, Fflur Dafydd, author of The Library Suicides.

Remember No More by Jan Newton 
Paperback – 302 Pages –  Published by Honno Press
ISBN – 978-1909983564 – Price £8.99 (+postage)
Available from 16th March 2017 via Amazon
CLICK HERE to order your copy.

But there’s more:-

Just in case you find yourself ready to click the Amazon ‘pre-order now’ button, hold off for a second. Jan Newton and Honno Press will be launching Remember No More at The Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells on Thursday 16th March, 6pm – everyone is most welcome.

So pop along, grab your copy and get it signed….I have the distinct feeling that D.S. Kite will be back very soon with another crime to solve, and I can’t wait!



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Full House! Hay Library Shared Reading

Week 4 of the new Memories Are Made of This project and suddenly we are at full capacity.
I think the word has got out!


Some of the Memories Are Made Of This group at Hay-on-Wye Library, 2017.

Stoic regulars braved the elements, as did toe-dipping newcomers and a couple of fresh-faced visitors to Hay. We squeezed around the tables and poured over the wonderful and comical “Icarus” by George Mackay Brown and an old favourite, “Meg Merrilies” by John Keats.

So many memories shared of growing up  and knowing eccentric folk in families, towns and villages. It’s also nice to hear that Hay is home to many eccentrics still! Numerous discussions of going to agricultural shows and game shows, past and present. Occasions of mistaken identities (this related memory received a huge burst of laughter from the group) and lots of tales of family and friends all inspired by the text. I have to say, everyone who came was in fine form.

Next week’s subject is Work – although I hope it won’t feel like it. We’ll have a few spare places owing to hospital appointments, so if you fancy testing the water why not come along. It’s at the warm and cosy surrounds of Hay Library and completely free.
Monday 27th February – 2.00pm – hope to see you there.

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It doesn’t seem that long ago I made the concerted decision to support keeping Hay-on-Wye Library open. As some of you know, I published a limited edition poetry pamphlet and for each copy sold (rrp £3.00), £1.00 would be given in donation.

FOUND ME:Blackout Poems by Emma van Woerkom – CLICK HERE to order.

We have done incredibly well and I’m sitting pretty with less than 20 copies to go until all 100 copies have been sold. Thank you!

But, it also seems quite fitting, that today I should read that even the BIG ISSUE have sort to turn the tide on this tsunami of public library closures with their new #whybooksmatter campaign.

#WHYBOOKSMATTER <- Click on this headline to find out more.


Since 2012 the UK has lost over 200 libraries. It’s even more shocking to imagine that 12% of adults in Wales lack basic literacy skills; that’s almost an eye-watering 1 in 8 of us, or 360,000 of the type of people you pass on the street every day. All these adults struggle filling in forms and registering with doctors, dentists, councils etc., as well as correctly reading medicine prescriptions, or the instructions for mixing baby formula.

In Hay Library this past Monday eighteen of the town’s youngest residents, accompanied by their adult other, enjoyed a rapturous Rhyme-time. These Rhyme-time/Storytime groups lay the necessary foundation for getting children into literature at the earliest opportunity. It develops the habit of book borrowing and information gathering, as well as seeing all libraries as safe public places. Lost? Missed your bus? Computer let you down? Who hasn’t turned to a library for help?  In the chaos of modern life, who hasn’t enjoyed the quiet of a library?

IMG_20160620_150844Throughout the day Hay-locals file seamlessly in and out to borrow books, print off forms, read newspapers or chat to the librarian. (Could it be that less libraries means more loneliness and social isolation? I think so). In the afternoon, like clockwork my shared reading, ‘Memories Are Made Of This’ group appear. Seven sparky, on-form ladies; most of them well over eighty years young and a couple with dementia too. For some, this social, literature-based gathering not only gets them out of the house, but its stimulating group-chat and laughter is the highlight of their week. Later on, school children and others dash about the library with books, homework or leaflets listing local events. Hay library is quite the community hub.

In six weeks, Hay Library opening hours will be slashed again from its current, very modest 16 hours to just 6 hours per week. No more Shared Reading Group in the library for us and I can guarantee a lot less of everything else too!

The Public Library News says, “Libraries offer Futures”. I believe them. It’s more than just books and printouts, online ordering and return-by dates. Personally, I love the Swedish proverb, “In a good book, the best is between the lines”, because in a good library, the best is beyond the book shelves…

You Can Also Help Keep Hay Library Open By Supporting
#HOWLS – Hay-on-Wye Libary Supporters – CLICK HERE

FOUND ME:Blackout Poems by Emma van Woerkom – CLICK HERE to order.

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Shared Reading Personal Best!

The new Hay-on-Wye shared reading project, Memories Are Made Of This is going from strength to strength. Not only has there been a superb response to the Hay library sessions, but I did my largest ever booking with the remarkable folk of the Hay Day Cafe.

February has certainly exploded into life with this meeting – the room was crowded with over 30 participants who all had something to say.

shared reading group hay
Mark Twain’s,  ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer‘ and Pam Ayres’, ‘Oh, I Wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth‘ gave plenty of inspiration for memories. We all laughed about our school days, uniforms, detentions (and misdemeanors), plus an eye-watering plethora of favourite sweet names – I imagine dentist’s everywhere fainting, overcome with the sheer selection and breadth!


Everyone had extraordinary memories to share and as each sweet was named an echo of fond remembrance rippled through the room. It was absolutely wonderful.

We will be back in Hay Library this Monday at 2pm, so if you fancy giving shared reading ago why not come along. You will be most welcome and it doesn’t hurt to boost the local library attendance figures too.




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FOUND ME – Reviews

Twenty Copies To Go!!!

photo-montage-of-poetry-pamphlet-sales-2-page-001-1I have to admit, I’m quite blown away by the wonderful reviews people have written about my modest and highly experimental poetry pamphlet, FOUND ME. I now have five, 5 star reviews on Amazon and lots of happy customer feedback and photographs on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. People have discovered that this poetic form can be thought provoking and surprising. I’m hoping some will have a go too!

Best news of all is the money it’s raising for Hay-on-Wye Library. I’ve only twenty copies left, so I can’t wait to see Library Jayne and very soon hand over that all important donation.



“This pamphlet is a work of art in ways that reach out before and beyond its own physical construction, and is a must for anyone serious about modern poetry.”
Joy Kenward (Author of the Archibald Fly series and Into The Sun).

“I found ‘Found Me’ fresh & exciting! Love the visuals of the ‘black out’ process; left facing each poem within this experimental collection of ten, seemingly random, yet magically meaningful poems; have read and re-read on my travels!”
Susan Evans (Performance Poet and Shortlisted Best Spoken Word Performer, Saboteur Awards 2016).

“Never lacking in inspiration, she has found yet another medium through which to demonstrate her considerable talent. Here is a unique poet who does not always have to rely on conventional ways of expressing her artistry, as is amply illustrated in her latest publication ‘FOUND ME’….Despite the random selection of unconnected words on which these poems have depended for their creation, they are still thought provoking, entertaining and eminently readable.”
Lynn Trowbridge (Author of A Life Is What You Get and Random Ramblings of a Nonagenarian)

“So exciting, brilliant cover, intriguing blackout poetry is a revelation”.
Kathryn Alderman (Poet).

FOUND ME by Emma van Woerkom. Poetry Pamphlet. £3.00 + P&P
Limited edition of 100 signed and numbered copies available at :

Amazon (For UK Deivery) – CLICK HERE
EBAY – (For Worldwide Delivery) – CLICK HERE

Alternatively, copies available on the counter at Hay-on-Wye Library.


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