All posts by HELEN

The Electric Kool-Aid Cabaret – Feb 25th

The third mega celebration of International collaboration


poets, spoken word performers and musicians

from Teesside, London and Europe.

Ek Zuban are proud to present

Kayo Chingonyi originally from Zambia and now based in London,

Shoshana Anderson – a poet originally from New York City, currently living in England,

Dizzylez and Mosatch from Avingon, France,

plus Carmen Thompson and Lauren Dye from Teesside.

As usual the cabaret will feature music from The Kool-Aid Trio,

sets by solo singer songwriter Reece Hanrahan

and sets from Curse Pie & The Amplifier.

And if that’s not enough we have comedy sketches by the Kool-Aid Cabaret team

and a few other treats in store.

Make sure its in your diaries and come along.

£4/ £3 concessions or free if you are 19 years old or younger.

Bring your own booze! tea coffee soft drinks available

Where: Tuned In, Majuba Road, Redcar

When: Wed 25th February, 7.30pm – 11pm

Writing tips from Lydia Millet

Lydia Millet is an American novelist.  She has won the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction and during her writing career, she has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Millet graduated from the University of North Carolina with high honours in Creative Writing.  She is renowned for her dark sense of humour.  Her most recent novel Mermaids in Paradise incorporates absurdity and paranoia.

In Publishers Weekly, Millet has detailed five useful tips for aspiring writers:

1. Quantity before quality

Don’t be intimidated by the white void of screen or paper that hovers before your eyes. Later, sentences can be honed. Later, clarity can be achieved while perfection is studiously sought — or if not perfection, at least freedom from abject shame. But today is not the day for scruples. Today is the day for production. First make broad cuts across the cloth; perform the needlework at leisure.

2. Bore not thyself

If you find yourself slogging through a passage restlessly — your mind trudging stubbornly through the verbiage much as you might force your body onward through a barrage of dirty sleet, your head down, your shoulders hunched protectively, all bundled to keep warm — chances are this is not your best work.  If you find yourself on autopilot, halt. Delete-delete-delete, all the way back to the very line where last you cared. You, at least, should never have to wait to get to the good part.

3. Suffer the fools gladly

Go to a public place, say a café or library, where the only distractions are those that will not turn you away from the physical platform of your words.  In these public places, you’ll find you’re far more bound to your seat, and your notebook/laptop/etc., than at your home or in a private office.

4. Prefer the new

I try to write the story I wish to read. I’ve found I’m most inspired when I suspect that what precisely I have in mind to make does not already exist, and this is the sole reason for the bother of its present creation. So I advise always aiming to write a book you haven’t had the opportunity to read, simply because you’ve never found it. Your hand should be a hand that trembles to make the new — or at least the new to you.  This also means any true writer must also be a voracious reader.

5. Seek to be licked by holy fire

Of course, I use the terms “holy” and “fire” fairly loosely. One man’s holy is another woman’s sublime. If you’re doing creative work, that work should never feel trivial — even if what you’re doing is for hire or lightly intended. Even the mundane doesn’t have to be trivial. I’ve made the mistake (sadly, far more often than once) of writing a piece carelessly because it was a small piece, or a piece “just” for money, or a piece I didn’t want to be writing. Now I regret those pieces with a remorse that pierces. If you’re going to do a thing, do it fully, so that no writing you give the world misrepresents you — so that nothing you put out there is like a sad regift you couldn’t throw away and had to find a place for.

Welcome to the Benchmark Creative Writing Competition

This competition is a fundraising collaboration between Willow Burn Hospice and writer Rachel Cochrane, inspired by Rachel’s latest drama, Benchmark.

This writing competition requires you to:

Imagine you had a bench dedicated to you

What would it say on the plaque? (30 words max)

Where would it be?

Why have you chosen that particular place? (200 words max)

We want you to express this in the present tense, celebrating the person that you are now.

For further details on how to enter this competition, please follow the link below.

About the Benchmark Creative Writing Competition


The 2014/15 Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition

The 2014/15 International Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition is now open for entries.

The 29th annual international Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition invites entrants to submit a collection of 20-24 pages of poems for the chance to win publication by smith|doorstop, a share of £2,000 ($3,250) and other prizes.

Please see link below for further details on how to enter the competition.



Poetry Symposium – Making A Living From Poetry

As part of the next leg of the Intercity Flow Project we will be hosting a Symposium at Teesside University in room 5.03 at 6.30pm Thurs 20th November on Making A Living As A Poet. The event will include a reading / showing of work and projects followed by a panel discussion on the ways poetry can be used for social intervention and a vehicle of engagement within communities.
The panel will consist of professional poets from UK and abroad who have years of experience of working as a poet within the participatory arts sector. This event is free.