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with Eileen Earnshaw and Falinge Writing Group

by Norman Warwick

Michael Higgins, our arts and culture correspondent,  mentioned in passing at the start of the year that there would shortly be a new literature group in Rochdale.  Sure enough, he sent me a copy of a piece this week about how Falinge Writing Group, newly formed, took a short walk over to the wild side recently, during a workshop facilitated by writer Joy France and her partner in poetry, prose and rap and all things literary, Rick Maxwell, also know as Skully The Mad Hat, (left)

This was during the first of several keenly anticipated workshops to be delivered by Joy over the coming weeks.

It was interesting for me to catch up on what Joy France (right)  is now working on, as she was one my first guests when I ran the poetry nights at The Ring O´Bells in Middleton  more than ten years ago. I was aware that she had since gone on to read one of her works on a successful TV advert for a building society but wasn´t at all sure what she is doing at present.

Joy´s performance at the Ring O´ Bells, as reported by Eileen Earnshaw (left), involved much more than sticking her nose into one of books and reading to the audience. Instead she involved audience members in all sorts of word games and riddles and jokes, and was, herself, an absolute bundle of,…well, a bundle of Joy, really, all goodwill and enthusiasm.

She apparently didn´t  discover her love of poetry or her own voice for performance poetry until she was late into her fifties. She has since shown how greatly creativity can change a person, normally a quiet retiring type, Joy France reveals in her workshops that age should not prevent any of us from taking up a new creative activity. Instead she shows us that post-modern literature has something for everyone amongst all its new and exciting formats.

It is almost ten years since Joy won the prestigious Culture Hero of Slam in 2013, becoming the first ´older person´ to win this highly esteemed award.  Now, although she still finds performance uncomfortable at times, she nevertheless takes every opportunity she can to share her love and skill in the subject. These days such opportunities even afford the opportunity to create art installations for exhibition.

Joy has even written and delivered and published a T.E.D. talk. TED Conferences, LLC is an American media organization that posts talks online for free distribution under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. TED was conceived by Richard Saul Wurman, who co-founded it with Harry Marks in February 1984 as a conference; it has been held annually since 1990

She also regularly participates in rap battles in which opposing poets have ´cross words´ with each other, attempting to deliver an entertaining an exciting experience for the audience. She is now the resident poet at Affleck´s Palace in Manchester´s Northern Quarter (left).

Affleck´s Palace is known as an emporium of eclecticism and a visit to that venue is always fun.

The workshop Joy delivered for Langley Writing group was called Twist and addressed methods of pushing creativity into the absurd. She gave a master-class in how writers can learn to observe life from a different perspective, identifying magic in the mundane. She urged members to design for themselves a uniqueness of style and approach to differentiate themselves from fellow writers.

Over the coming weeks she will facilitate the group in publishing a pamphlet of their work created on the subject of climate change. On this particular project the group have already benefitted from a series of six workshops presented by one my favourite living male poets, the wonderful Seamus Kelly, a writer we have featured previously on these pages in an article still available in our archives under the title of Seamus Kelly and Sophie Hannah  and published in January 2020.

The launch of the pamphlet is scheduled to take place tomorrow, on Thursday March 17th when Falinge Writing Group members will present readings of some of the work contained in the collection. This will be followed by a well-deserved celebration lunch.

Eileen e will also be presenting a couple of workshops in March: one on the theme of Spring and another on the practicalities of how to present and publish completed work.

Seamus, shown in red on left in facing photograph, is a writer with a sense of humour and a sense of gravitas, both of which lace his poetry with some thoughtful phraseology. A keen cyclist and photographer he is also an excellent facilitator of creative writing, and has worked extensively as a peripatetic poet in schools across the region.

Falinge Writing Group meet  in Falinge in Rochdale every Thursday morning from 10-00 am to mid-day. For further details  contact Eileen at Eileen.earnshaw@yahoo.co.uk

The primary source for this article was  written by Eileen Earnshaw for The Rochdale Observer and referenced to us by Michael Higgins-

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This article was collated by Norman Warwick, a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours.

Norman has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve Bewick, and his own show on Sherwood Community Radio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Four.

As a published author and poet Norman was a founder member of Lendanear Music, with Colin Lever and Just Poets with Pam McKee, Touchstones Creative Writing Group (for which he was creative writing facilitator for a number of years) with Val Chadwick and all across the arts with Robin Parker.

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