Monday, 28 July 2014


I have been running Zest!, Chester's Open Floor Poetry night for over 7 years now. When I say I, I mean myself and my team: Judy Ugonna, Leih Steggall and Angela Topping. I have been responsible chiefly for setting up the dates, liaising with Alexander's, our chosen venue, organising the guest poets and compering. I have really loved doing it but now I feel it's time to hand over to someone else and there is someone in the wings.. more anon.

But I would like to say that we have had some wonderful guests: Matt Meritt who, like me, started off as a Happenstance poet, and now has 2 excellent full collections out plus he is one of the editors of  Under the Radar; Mandy Pannett who has several full collections out plus a novel, Pat Borthwick who has won several major prizes including the Basil Bunting and the Keats-Shelley; Joan Poulson who has produced so many collections of marvellous poetry for children; Andrew Rudd, John Lindley, Harry Owen, all previous Cheshire Poet Laureates; Mandy Coe, author of 'Clay' and 'Can you see Laughter', plus her poet friends Sarah Maclennan and Colin Watts who run Dead Good Poets in Liverpool (Colin is published by Headland); Roy McFarlane, former Poet Laureate of Birmingham and a great performer; Chris Kinsey, BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year 2008 and author of three full collections of poetry; Katrina Naomi, widely-known poet;and recently Chrys Salt, who was awarded an MBE in the Birthday Honours list. Congratulations to Chrys, ( it had nothing to do with Zest! alas!) and congratulations to all the above for what they have gone on to achieve. I only hope they remember their performances at Zest! with some affection...

I know I've missed some people out: Jake Campbell who now co-edits Butcher's Dog magazine and has a pamphlet out; Maggie Norton, former Poet Laureate of S.Cumbria; Liverpool's quirky 'poet from kent' David Bateman -  and if I've forgotten anyone please forgive me. (It's the heat!)

It won't be the end of my public life in poetry though: I am still running the Poem Shed, and the Golden Pear poetry reading group, and Poem Catchers' workshops, the latter with Judy Ugonna.. And I want more time to catch up wth my own writing. Organising anything, small or big, takes a lot of energy...

So I imagine Zest! will undergo some changes in the future, changes no doubt for the better, I'm sure.

I am very grateful to all those wonderful people who have come to Zest! nights just to listen. And there have been many of these

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