for poetry, music and gospel follow THAT BRIGHT STAR

for poetry, music and gospel follow THAT BRIGHT STAR

says Norman Warwick

Waiting here on my desk in the sidetracks & detours when I returned from taking part in the weekend of what will surely prove to be the inaugural annual Lanzarote Poetry Festival three day event,  lies a flier telling us of an event in Scotland on Thursday 1st December.

My sidetracks and detours often lead me to a place called Serendipity, and they had done so again,

It is a flier that is linked both to poetry and to Lorca and to Spain.

At The Muirs, Kinross, Perthshire in Scotland, on Thursday December 1st, singer guitarist Keith James will be singing the songs of Leonard Cohen, the poet who was ´born with the gift of a golden voice´! The songs will include poems such as Hallelujah, Sisters of Mercy and Suzanne.

I haven´t heard Keith sing these particular songs before but I have fond memories of hearing him in a duo perform beautiful songs of the Spanish poet Lorca. I think that might have been at Bury Met more than twenty years ago, and the accompanist was bass player Rick Foot.

Mark Deming, writing on line at AllMusic says ´Singer, songwriter, poet, author, and producer Keith James has been a presence on the U.K. folk scene since the ’70s, and has won an audience both for his own music and his interpretations of other celebrated artists. James was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England and grew up in Surrey and Berkshire where, during the late ’70s, he began making a name for himself as a folk musician, playing regular acoustic gigs on the then-flourishing wine bar circuit. In 1981, James self-released his first recording, a four-song vinyl EP titled The Bar-Room Balladeer. An album simply called Songs appeared later the same year, and three more EPs and a second LP, The Swallows, appeared by the end of 1983. As James continued to tour, he developed a growing following and recorded several sessions for BBC Radio. After a sojourn in South America near the end of the ’80s, he settled in Berkshire and focused his attentions on engineering and production, setting up his own recording studio and working with a variety of folk, blues, and jazz artists. In time, James made his way back to performing, and recorded several more albums of his own material like 1993’s Tomorrow Is Longer Than Yesterday, and in the 2000s, he became increasingly prolific, releasing Outsides (2002), Postcards (2005), and No.1 Paradise Road (2006). In 2001, James put together a show in which he performed a set of songs by one of his favorite songwriters, Nick Drake, and the show became a success on the U.K. folk circuit, with James regularly reviving the presentation over the next 15 years. In 2003, James bowed to popular demand and recorded an album of Drake favorites, The Songs of Nick Drake, and in 2008, he issued a live album documenting a performance of Drake‘s repertoire with bassist Rick Foot. James also toured with concerts in which he performed musical interpretations of the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca and selections from the catalog of Leonard Cohen, both of which were committed to compact disc. In 2014, he recorded an album in which he set the poetry of Dylan Thomas to music, Time Let Me Play, and in 2015 he delivered Always, a set of new songs that he had been honing to his exacting standards for ten years. James is also a published poet and is writing a book on the struggle of the creative spirit´t.

After performing at The Lanzarote Poetry Festival I was reminded of my time spent working in the UK in my performance poetry duo, Just Poets. We were fortunate enough to work with well-respected organisations such as Artists In Schools, Cartwheel Arts with their excellent Scribble initiative for aspirant writers and also with Write Out Loud. As we received a press release about a forthcoming Write Out Loud (WOL) event, and thought we should share it with our readers of Sidetracks And Detours. (see below right)

WOL are holding an open mic poetry night at Bolton Socialist Club on Wood Street in Bolton on Sunday December 4th 2022. Entry is only £2-00 and all are welcome. Doors will open at 7.30 for an 8.00 pm start.

Write Out Loud is a national (indeed, international) hub for participation in poetry, encouraging everyone who writes poetry – from still-too-nervous-to-do-open-mic to Nobel Prize winner – to share their words with others. We’re not just the website (more on that later), but seeing as you’re here, let’s tell you all about that first.

The Write Out Loud website has been around since 2005. It’s unique in what it brings together, and what it offers to its members. There you’ll find  up to the minute news (covering announcements from publishers, poets, events, gig reviews and book reviews), and a gig guide (where you can find out what’s happening near you) and, of course, they post blogs (where you can post your work, and read and comment on work posted by others).

All of this is designed to encourage interaction in a comfortable and inclusive atmosphere, which helps explain why over 45,000 people visit the website each month, and why they keep coming back. In order for you to get the most benefit out of the Write Out Loud site, here’s a guide to what you’ll find here.

The latest news from the world of poetry, includes reviews of events and books, details of competitions, and much much more. If you think there’s something we should know about, or you want to submit a review of an event you have attended, you can contact our Features editor at

Poetry events are an opportunity to share your work, meet up with other poets, socialise, and listen to a wide range of styles, ideas, forms, voices, and experiences. The Write Out Loud gig guide gig guide is the best way to find out what’s going on in your area, and is one of the most comprehensive guides there is. If you find a night near you which isn’t using it, do let them know they can post their events on the site for free (and updating or changing it is easy). If they need a helping hand, they can email

The blog is a place where you can share your work and read work other WOL members have posted. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the busiest areas of the site! If someone’s poem moves you, makes you laugh, or inspires you to go off and write a piece of your own, do take a minute or two to let the author know by commenting on their work. We all love to get feedback on what we’ve posted.

Creating a profile when you join Write Out Loud gives you the opportunity to tell the organisation and its members a bit about yourself. What brought you here? What does poetry do for you? What do you hope others will get from your work? Let us all know.

There are vibrant galleries of photos from poetry events and readings, showing poets of all ages, backgrounds, poetic styles and levels of experience.

Should you want to chat about a particular subject or issue in depth? This is the place to go.

With a directory of festivals, publishers, poetry magazines, competitions and more, Write Out Loud is an outfit I always enjoyed working with when working in the UK organising poetry and litgerary events.

As we said earlier, WOL isn’t just the website. In 2015, we became a Community Interest Company (CIC) with a mission to make poetry more widely appreciated and available. We believe passionately in the power of poetry to bring enjoyment, fulfillment and positive change to people’s lives, and our aim is to bring more people to poetry and poetry to more people. WOL is an information resource for people wanting to set up poetry events where they live, and they also support individual poets, poetry organisations and groups across the country, via a monthly newsletter (and this website). As you’ll see from the gig guide, we have monthly open-floor poetry nights in Marsden, Huddersfield, Middleton, Sale, Stockport and Wigan, as well as irregular events across the North of England.

WOL have a reputation for attracting audiences, and are asked to support other organisations’ work putting together tours, open-floor poetry events, major performances, slams and similar, for festivals and arts groups. If you’d like to know more, email us at to discuss how we can help use our expertise and enthusiasm to make your event as successful as possible.

Finally… Write Out Loud is currently run by a hard-working team of volunteers, and the site is completely free to use. So that we can keep the site going and growing, and continue promoting poetry as being something everyone can enjoy, we do ask you to consider making a donation. Giving just the price of a cup of coffee once or twice a year will help. You’ll find more details here

Bolton is also well known as the home of Flapjack Press (left), which incorporates writing of all literary genres with an imp0ressive of array of local poets and raconteurs like Henry Normal. They offer ´festive´ discounts on all items and ar currently highlighting collections by James Hartnell, Dave Morgan and the sublimely named Hovis Presley, All the above will convince you that Bolton is a buzz of poetic and liuterary talents.

For me, though, Bolton is a nagging can´t-forget memory of a dreadful deluge on a National Poetry Day a few years ago when I had been booked to read in the town hall square. No stalls could be erected because of the wind and the rain so the stall-holdersd settled down for steaming mugs of Bovril in market hall caff. The booked poet (me) had to remain outside under the tremors of thunder and the lasers of lightning and the richochet of raindrops bouncing off the pavements.

The saving grace of that day was that I met a writer and poet I greatly admire. Owen Sheers, though, had a glamorous lady assistant to tend to his hair and keep him dry under her umbrella. Throughout the storm he looked like a poet laureate in waiting and sounded like Richard Burton.  I stood beside him looking like a very wet Worzel Gummidge and sounding like Bernard Manning.

The sidetrack that leads to Bolton via Rochdale and the detour taken at Ramsbottom invariably lead to us to an arts agenda.

For instance, The Rochdale Light Orchestra will be playing in St. Michael´s Church on Bury and Rochdale Old Road on Wednesday 14th December at 7.30 pm. if you live in the area you are invited to A Winter Wonderland (right) of carols and seasonal music.

Seasonal refreshments will be available. Admission is free with a retiring collection to be held.

The orchestra (RLO) will be conducted by Graham Marshall, to whom these pages owe enormous gratitude. He allows us to share information and reviews of both The Rochdale Light orchestra performances and events promoted by Rochdale Music Society.

it all deserves to be supported by anyone wioth a love of music and their community-

The following week, at a watering hole a bit further along the sidetracks and detours that all lead to Bolton, you will find Ramsbottom Concert Orchestra and Adantino Singers (left), who will give a performance combining festive music and Christmas carols at All Saints´Church in Brandlesholme at  7.30 pm.

This will be the first Christmas concert at All Saints´Church since the covid lockdown and the musicians and singers will also be joined by members of the All Saint´s Choir.

The admission price of £10-00, and free for children, will include refreshments,

If you were to follow our sidetracks & detours all the way, you´d find yourself leaving the middle of the road, and even its sidetracks and detours and instead would take a plane to the Cesar Manrique airport here on Lanzarote and would thenhead for the beautiful teatro San Bartolome.

And as you make your way towards the theatre, following the path that leads past the town´s annual belen*, keep your eye on the brightest star, as that will be the one we call The Star Of Gospel (right). That is also the name that has become the epithet of singer Bridget Bazile. She will be performing the Lanzarote episode of the the 17th annual Gospel Canarias Festival on Monday 6th December at 20.30h.

Bridget Bazile is a native of Metairie, Louisiana, Bridget Bazile is a graduate of Tulane University and The University of New Orleans. Winner of the prestigious Leontyne Price Competition, Ms. Bazile was also awarded the second prize in the Metropolitan Opera National Council in 1999 and the first prize in the Meistersinger Vocal Competition in Graz, Austria in 2001. She has performed the lyrical roles of operas by Purcell, Puccini, Mozart, Handel, Verdi, and Gershwin and was the lead soloist for the New World Ensemble, Moses Hogan Chorale, and the Moses Hogan Singers. 

Her professional appearances include appearing as a lead soloist at Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and the Lyon Sacred Music Festival in Lyon, France, the American Choral Director & National Convention at DAR Constitution Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, New York at Alice Tully Hall, Sully Music Festival in Sully, France and the World Symposium in Sydney, Australia. 

Bridget Bazile released an album entitled “Sometimes I Feel…”. And in January 2017, she completed her tenth year, multi-city solo performance tour across Spain and France. It is her mission to promote and keep alive the richly deep and unique musical heritage of African-American music and culture. 

Ms. Bazile is acclaimed around the world and is recognized as one of the most eminent classical, gospel singers and spiritualists of this generation.

She should be assured of a full house for her Lanzarote visit as the island has such a strong affinity to the island, with the its own Lanzarote Gospel Choir raising many roofs over the past few years.

Finally, we have been told by our artist friend, Claudie, from Orzola that there is to be really special Christmas fair being held in Teguise from Sunday 4th December from 9.00 to 21.00h (left). This will be in the town´s Plaza de los Leonnes. The Fashion Christmas Market will include almost twenty artists showing their craft work.

There will also be a programme of entertainment that will appeal to the young and old or the smaller and taller. Claudie says there will be magic in the air, with the Festival then continuing from Monday to Thursday from Monday 5th December to Thursday )th December from 11.00 each morning un til 21.00h

There will be workshops for young children and flying visits from Santa The children will also see Superheroes and Disney Princesses, with the final day also hosting a mid-day jazz fusion concert for the adults

Plaza de los Leonnes has enjoyed a new lease of life since the major Sunday market has re-located to an adjacent square a hundred yards away.

There was a lovely, gentle ambience at the recent Lanzarote Poetry Festival held there recently, as reported on these pages in an article appropriately called Poets In Plaza de los Leonnes, which is still available to read in our easy to negotiate archives section of over 750 pieces.

By the way, we mentioned the belen architecture that can be seen in the villages of Lanzarote, as well as in Teguise, over the Christmas period.

We have been offered a guided trip through the sidetracks and detours around the belens on Friday 9th December, so watch this space for a special report about who creates them, when they are displayed, what they represent, where they are located and why they are so loved here on Lanzarote. So watch this space on our pages in week commencing 12th December..

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