Parole Parlate – The Spoken Word

The magic of the spoken word, that’s what we were all there for as we piled into the upstairs of The Old Rectifying House (North Parade, Worcester) which greeted us with a wonderfully ‘shabby chic’ atmosphere. Its battered leather sofas, velvet drapes and softly twinkling chandeliers all helping set the mood for a brilliant evening!

We experienced a huge variety of performances, some comical, some moving, with topics ranging from a ring you would definitely not wish to buy on eBay, a snipers last mission in Afghanistan and a group of men who live in the woods, eternally preparing for ‘The End’. There were works which had been derived from games of consequences or inspired by as little as noticing a piece of junk mail one day. One poem was formed by ‘Worcester Voices’ simply walking around Worcester and combining all the elements of what they saw. Every piece had something marvellous to offer and as was said on the night, there truly was ‘something for everyone’.

There was even a special guest speaker all the way from Australia, who I was lucky enough to be sat next to, Helen Ramoutsaki.

Helen Ramoutsaki
Helen Ramoutsaki performing her poetry

The piece she did was beautiful, set in the wonderful tropics she evoked magical scenes of ‘dragons’, ‘mountains’ and ‘lakes’ and the clatter of the sugar cane train. It was an incredible performance as her language and imagery, not to mention sound effects and hand gestures, were really effective in creating the scenes which she spoke of right in front of our eyes. I was lucky enough to grab a few words with her:

Writing poetry since the age of 7 and always having a love of telling stories, which she thinks must have been inherited from her Grandfather, Helen Ramoutsaki was delighted when she found she could combine the two in the form of ‘performance poetry’ and hasn’t looked back since. She delights in being able to ‘embed the poem’ within a story and play around with the fixed form of the writing contrasted to the fluidity of language. She claims her inspiration tends to come at ‘random flashes’ where she must quickly ‘jot things down’ but what inspires her most is the environment, both of ‘people and of nature’. On first moving to the tropics, that change in both the climate and community which she found there was what really set in motion the fantastic piece we heard that evening. Currently working with a dramatist at the Jute Theatre (Cannes), this is Helen’s first time in Worcester, where she is greatly enjoying her stay and ‘looking forward to seeing the Cathedral’. On behalf of the Worcestershire Literary Festival, once again, we thank you for coming to perform for us.

Article by Kate Lakie

A Flash Blog for Flash Fiction

So after watching this year’s entrants read their work alongside judges Calum Kerr and Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn I felt inspired enough to try my hand at a ‘flash-blog’ as it were.  So here goes.

Dramatic black walls; my first impression of the downstairs room in the Worcester Arts Workshop, as we enter for an afternoon of flash fiction! The bright lights beam down on us yet the room keeps an oddly cosy air, with shabby sofas lining the walls and once again nearly every seat is taken. The audience filled the space. Just like last night, the standard of work is impeccably high as we listen to 21 readers (or ‘flashers’ as we like to call them) which had been narrowed down from an original 99! Humorous stories were plentiful, with tales of tax returns finding you the remotest of locations, the woes of being a young boy whose friends dare you to eat worms, and hiding bodies in your cupboard to be used later for fertilising your vegetables.

With entrants from all over the world including places such as Dubai, Canada and Switzerland it’s safe to say that competition was tough and the judges had a hard time choosing the finalists, let alone the winners.

However they did manage to come to a decision and I can safely say a big well done to Alice Oven, Diane Simmons and Fern Bryant for coming 3rd, 2nd and 1st respectively.

The winning piece by Bryant was entitled ‘The Quiet Life’ and depicted a woman whose life seems to be exactly this, but appearances can definitely be deceiving as is revealed in this dramatic yet amusing bit of writing.

To finish off, a few words from the ‘King of Flash Fiction’ Calum Kerr , the atmosphere so cheerful that he does some extra readings as the audience clamour for more, and from writer Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn as well as Calum’s wife, Kath Kerr who took up the challenge this year of writing a flash a day.  Seems it is contagious as audience members scribble down their inspiration on tiny cards; these can be purchased for £1 and entered into the Worcester Literary Festival prize draw at any time.

I also would like to mention Barney Rainbow who just turned 12 yesterday, and who raised £60 for charity writing a piece of flash fiction every day for a week!

Barney Rainbow receives a special commendation from WLF and ‘King of Flash Fiction’ Calum Kerr, for raising £60 for Lepra. Barney wrote 7 flashes in 7 days.

He set the standard of the evening very high with his charming tale of a pair of shoes which get up to mischief when their owner isn’t looking.  Well done Barney for such a wonderful achievement!

Article by Kate Lakie