Category Archives: Events

Are you ready to blog?

The CIBAS ‘Blogging for Success’ event on Tuesday evening attracted a mixed crowd of people some already bloggers, some thinking about it and some who may well have gone away with itchy fingers for the keyboard.

The speakers were Alison Baverstock, a publisher, trainer and writer on all aspects of publishing and marketing, and Yemisi Blake an active creative writer, blogger, poet and photographer.

Alison started with a brief history of how blogging evolved and then moved on to explain its relevance and usefulness for the creative writer.

She explained the advantages of blogging, who could benefit and how it might enhance and fuel a creative writing talent. For newer writers, it can be simply a matter of starting, then keeping up the practice and discipline of writing something regularly. For other already published writers it can be a means to keep in the public eye between actual publications.

Alison suggested that would-be bloggers should consider a number of points before starting – such as whether they had the time and energy to maintain such a project, and more importantly to decide and define exactly what the blog is intended to achieve, how personal it will be.

On the downside, Alison mentioned legal issues – be careful because you are not immune from libel and copyright issue just because you are online and not in print. It can help to draft posts offline, check facts, names and links and ask permission before quoting more than very brief extracts from other people’s work.

Her advice was to read other blogs before starting your own and suggested a few – see links at the end of the post. Another technique is to comment on other people’s blogs and also to try to get yourself involved in multi-contributor blog projects.

Yemisi Blake’s slant on blogging, was rather more technical, discussing the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why and why nots’ of blogging. We were introduced to the places online that can host your blog free or the options you have if you wish to pay for a domain and web hosting.

Yemisi showed on screen, how easy it was to set up a blog on the free site and how he had constructed his blog, with static pages as well as the active posts. Yemisi’s blog is a little different from what you can do with as it is on his own webspace and this gives him far more options in terms of construction and layout.

He also mentioned the ‘microblogging sites’ Twitter and Jaiku – micro in the sense that your posts are short messages, in the case of Twitter just 140 characters. Rather than use the shortened words you might use in an SMS text, it can encourage creativity and good use of language by forcing you to be concise and create an impact while still using complete words.

Both speakers talked about how to get your blog noticed via:

  • a signature line on all your emails and forum posts
  • word of mouth – don’t be shy, tell all your friends
  • commenting on other blogs, leaving a link to your own
  • putting tags on blog posts which will be picked up by Google and other search engines
  • letting other people blog about you

There was a chance for audience members to ask questions and to comment on what the speakers said, and handouts were available to help people get started.

I am putting together a resource sheet which will be downloadable here and will contain links to the information handed out and also some of the blogs that our speakers recommended reading. Please bookmark this post and come back in a day or two, ask questions and comment if you wish.

Dynamo Youth Theatre Workshop

Dynamo Youth Theatre members took part in an intensive one day workshop with Havant Literary Festival writer-in-residence, Stella Duffy, on Sunday, 27 September, culminating in an evening performance at St Faith’s Church Hall.

Stella, the author of eight plays and twelve novels, is also an experienced director who specialises in improvisation and has worked with the National Youth Theatre.

Through a series of sometimes gruelling physical exercises, the teenagers learned and developed techniques, tools and skills which can be adapted to any number of theatrical disciplines.

The entirely improvised forty-five minute performance included quick-fire poetry, acting out scenes from audience member’s early lives and a four part harmonised madrigal on Havant’s parchment and glove making history and the coming of a new superstore!

Stella Duffy said she had never before gone from zero to performance in one day – “Dynamo Theatre were totally dedicated, brave – and brilliant!”

Dynamo’s Artistic Director Andrew Bowker said “this was a complete masterclass. In the thirty years I have been involved with teaching drama, I have never seen such a total transformation in one day.”
Audience members raved about the performance, who found it hard to believe it was totally unrehearsed and unscripted. Festival Secretary, Sian Bamber, said she would “gladly have paid an entrance fee for the quality of the entertainment on offer.”

Dynamo Youth Theatre’s next production is The Pirates of Penzance, but there will be a fund raiser before that at United Reformed Church on Sunday, 1 November. For more information, visit their website at
To see some photographs of the workshop, visit here:

From Lucy Flannery

Calling All Would-Be Sleuths

If you fancy yourself as a present day Sherlock Holmes, then pop along to Emsworth and start solving the clues. 

Scattered throughout the town in various shop windows are picture clues to the titles of crime novels.  Pick up a FREE entry form from Emsworth library, the Museum or Bookends and you could win a book token or voucher.  There are quizzes for junior detectives too with picture clues to children’s books, plus a children’s colouring competition.

Sadly, the marvellous ‘More than Words’ exhibition featuring book illustrations and pop-ups ended on Sunday, 28 September.  But a new exhibition, ‘Earth, Art and Water’, opens in the Museum on Saturday, 3 October, with art inspired by Chichester Harbour and tying in with the Festival theme of  ‘Water’.

Poet-in-a-shed Shedman will be in Emsworth Square on Friday and Saturday to entertain and amuse.  Havant Literary Festival has certainly come to Emsworth town this year.

So be there! Be in The Square!

Grab a quiz sheet and start eliminating the impossible.

From Sandra McGregor

Poetry and Magic – Festival Day 1

The Gazebo Garden in the East Pallant car park is a tranquil and secluded space to spend time that many people who use Havant all the time don’t know or forget about. It was an excellent setting for some of the performers in the Word on the Street event.

During my visit, I enjoyed listening to Ann Crowe and Judith Worley who encouraged audience participation in some of their recitations of poems on the Festival theme of water, including an extract from Beowulf about a battle with sea monsters, and ending with Henry Newbold’s rousing response to Turner’s painting of ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ .

They were followed by a set from members of Write Angle, a writing and performing group from Petersfield, who offered an amusing and entertaining blend of their own poetry and music. Write Angle hold regular ‘open mic’ nights at their home venue at the Square Brewery in Petersfield and poetry cabaret nights, the next one on Tuesday. Find out more on their website. There is another opportunity to see Write Angle at the Poetry and Pints event at the Robin Hood on Thursday 1st October at 7:30pm (free entry, but you’ll have to pay for your beer!).

My next stop was for a look around the book fair at the URC, plenty to choose from both fiction and non fiction and I also relaxed with a cup of tea in the Festival Bistro.

Later on, I attended Philip Carr-Gomm’s fascinating talk on English Magic, based on his newly published book co-written with Richard Heygate. Book info and Philip’s website

Philip outlined the history of how England came to be a centre of magical tradition, drawing on influences from many different parts of the world through. He also spoke about different types of magic and its practioners and how it touches every part of our lives, often when we don’t recognise its presence. For instance, how astrologer and scholar John Dee influenced Elizabeth 1st in matters of state and personal affairs and whether Cherie Blair’s lifestyle advisor Carol Caplin could be regarded as a magic practitioner through her use of holistic healing and health advice.

Certainly, in the past the ‘healing arts’ were looked on as magical and we don’t yet know enough about the brain to know why it responds to the ‘placebo effect’. 

Philip commented on the extent to which we all respond to magic in our surroundings, particularly in the natural world and the wider universe and how this resounded in his own druidic spirituality and practice including the artistic sphere of poetry and music. This was brought to us at the event by bardic harpist John Corin and in the display of pagan inspired art.

I wonder when Prince Charles becomes monarch, who his advisors might include and how they will be perceived by the public and the media?

Later when the event was opened to questions from the floor a spectrum of opinions and attitudes emerged from members of the audience as to what magic is and whether it exists. Philip’s book was sadly beyond my pocket for the moment, but one of my personal experiences of magic is that money, items and even people often come into my life at times when they are really needed, not just desired.