A.J. Walker

writerer

readmespeakme

The Caravanette

Well when I started doing ReadMeSpeakMe at the back end of 2020 I never expected to be reading my own poems on here. And of course then it is the rest of the RMSM regulars reading your words out loud. It is an interesting experience and I'm thankful for Meg coming up with this - and for asking me to send a poem in.

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Cheeses picked up at Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes

The poem chosen was 'The Caravanette' which I wrote when I was doing an Open University course a few years back. It's not a brilliant poem but I like it because it completely true and evocative of a holiday gone wrong. Be it down to inclement weather or, in this case, unrealistic expectations. It was nothing to do with the destination of Dent, which is in a lovely spot.

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Monument to the geologist, Adam Sedgwick in Dent. He knew his graptolites!


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The Dent Carpark

As I'd been camping this week in North Yorkshire, in Hawes, Wensleydale, I had to take the opportunity to drive to Dent so that I could read the poem in the very carpark that we ended up staying overnight - in that wee sad vehicle. After a quick pitstop into Wensleydale Creameries for some Wenselydale Cheese (and others) then I headed to Dentdale. Here is my reading of the poem, 'The Caravanette.' Enjoy.







As I've been looking at all the tweets about this poem this week, and listening to Soundcloud retellings and YouTube videos of it, I am now getting a mountain of camper van adverts when I'm on Instagram and YouTube. I've yet to see a photo of anything like what we were in though.

Thanks to everybody who got involved this week. Every one is appreciated. And I've got to give a special mention to
Swarn Gill who not only read a great version of it, he also recorded his YouTube video along with a beer and a bit of a chinwag before the poem akin to a certain somebody. Kudos! It made me smile a lot.

And lastly, but never leastly, it was great to see Sal record it too. Her first go on ReadMeSpeakMe (I've no idea, it could be the last too) and I thank her for the Special Guest appearance.

________________________

Twitter:
@megwaff
@ReadMeSpeakMe

Website:

www.megwaffling.wordpress.com
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Poetry Rules

Nine years or so ago I did an Open University course in Creative Writing. I’d had years of writing and reviewing technical reports for environmental consultancies (and before that my degree in Geology) and this meant a large number of words had been unavailable to me inside this world. In reports like this many words are absolute and description is always blandly factual; adverbs and adjectives were to not so much frowned upon as outlawed - to be fair any repors could end up in dispute or court so ‘quite blue’ or ‘very contaminated’ has to be a no-no.

Anyway I’d written some song/poem/descriptive extracts back in the early 1990s when I was strumming some songs in a band of brothers (and a cousin). But as a whole I wasn’t doing much in the way of writing outside of work. By 2010 or so I longed to get into away from technical reports. When I took the opportunity to do the OU course it was mainly to extend my writing and to take me a little outside my comfort zone. It was just one course which could have become part of an MA degree if I’d wanted to go that route and do a couple more courses, but I’d never even considered making a degree out of it - I really just wanted to give myself a bit of a nod and a nudge before taking myself off the leash with the adjectives. Honestly, that was very much the point.

At that time I hadn’t been involved in any writing groups. But once I got to the end of the course I had the confidence to join a writing group (The Poised Pen) and from there I went on to get stories published in anthologies and the like - and also find myself to be involved in the fabulous Flash Dogs.

But hang on, I’ve missed something out here: a stepping stone - Poetry. Shush! Keep this quiet.

The OU course involved a range of writing requirements, one of which was poetry. When I signed up for the course poetry was the part I was looking forward to the least. At my crappy Secondary School in Southport we’d done a cursory nod at Keats and a few other bits and bobs, but ‘Ode to a Greek Urn’ and ‘Ode to Autumn,’ whilst interesting, and indeed lovely, were not something I was wanting to build on myself.

As it transpired the poetry part of the OU Course turned out to be enjoyable. I think partly because of my love of songs, of word games and of quizzes. Writing to fit into a required number of lines or a rhythm is very much different to just writing a sentence that works to convey information. Poetry often requires every word to become part of a solution... hopefully.

So it was that I had to write poetry for the first time for an absolute age: and for a purpose (points towards the Course). One of these poems was called ‘The Caravanette’ and I’ll talk more about this at the end of the week. But needless to say it is both bizarre and cool that it has made it beyond the OU course, and my immediate family, to Twitter and the World Wide Web via the wonderful #ReadMeSpeakMe. It is going to be well weird to hear other people reading my words out loud as part of this Twitter phenomena. Get involved if you like the idea. And I’ll tell you about the poem later in the week.

But the link between the poetry and my writing as it is now? Well, before I joined The Poised Pen and then getting confidence and getting published; I used to go to watch lots of the poets at The Dead Good Poets at Blackburne House - one of the organisers of the Dead Good Poets was my local OU contacts (Sarah McLellan) - and then after several weeks observing I went up and read some of my poetry in front of everyone. That was always one of the hardest things I’ve done - there’s something about reading your own poetry which is so much more exposing than reading prose. Anyway if the poetry thing hadn’t happened, and then the confidence from reading at Dead Good Poets hadn’t then maybe I would not have moved on to write my silly stories and be confident enough to put them out there.

In summary: Poetry Rules. Or at the very least it has its place.
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Old Found Poems

I've just recorded and put up my reading of this week's #ReadMeSpeakMe onto YouTube. It was written by Vanessa aka @puzzledgoddess on Twitter.

RMSM139

Afterwards I was looking though some stuff on my computer and found some old poems from nearly a decade ago, which I'll post here; it's not like they deserve to be anywhere else. One is about waiting for a train at Fazakerley station (the clue is in the title) whilst the other was written whilst walking along a rocky coastline in Portugal and is an ode to geology and time more than anything. I can remember it well too.

May copy them over to the very short "Poems" section of the site later. It could be the thing to do.


Ode to Winter on Fazakerley Station


Reflective workmen sit beneath a tree,
smiling and laughing - on a tea-break high.
Bitter cold breeze sends shivers right through me;
a pale yolk sun smears the Wedgewood blue sky.
Winter freshness always invigorate.
Clarity of the light, sharp as a pin,
train from Kirkby visible along the straight.
Meanwhile a lone blackbird jauntily sings.
 
Fleeces keeping others toastily warm,
while screeching brakes make me shiver again.
Stresses melting on the railway platform.
There’s something comforting traveling by train.
These relaxing moments precious to me,
but I’m gasping for a cup of tea.


Going Home to Bed

Sculptured isolated hardness,
skyscrapers of tumbled fossiled ocean-life.
Sea rumbles in relentless.

Sonic booms when the waves strike just right.
Jurassic souls separated from their sedimentary beds,
Restored to the sea by its might.
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Time To Plant A Tree

In these days of multi social media hangouts creating a place where the links to all of them are in one place is a neat idea. I’m not sure how late I am to the Linktree party but I’ve arrived and I’m glad I have. The set up is quick and clean. No messing about. As simple as it should be.

Set it up on Thursday night and put the link in the Bios in my two
Twitter accounts and my two Instagram pages - one each for my personal Zevonesque account and for my Real Ale Liverpool (Realeliverpool) accounts. As well as having links to both sets of Twitter and Instagram it of course has a link to the website (i.e. here) and to the YouTube Channel.

ZevLinktree

Haven’t yet linked it to Goodreads or anything else and I may well not. Goodreads seems to have become a more problematic place these days. And obviously I’m not on TikTok or Facebook. These Linktrees must be pretty tall trees for some people. Anyway, in short, you can find me more easily than you could before. ‘Hurray!’ I can hear the cheers from here.

If you’ve got multiple hangouts on the internet thing then I can thoroughly recommend getting on Linktree and connecting those buttons.

One thing I’ve noticed on my
YouTube Channel is that it is predominantly me reading poems at the moment: I’m going to call this my ReadMeSpeakMe period. I need to get strumming some new songs to rebalance the channel.

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A Reading From 'The Ormering Tide'

I accidentally made a rod for my own back for this one. In a potentially throw-away tweet I said that 'The Ormering Tide' was so beautiful I felt like I should be reading it aloud rather than reading it to myself. I think maybe that morning I hadn't had my second coffee by the time of the tweet and wasn't fully awake. I was certainly very much in the #ReadMeSpeakMe way in any case. Anyway's I ended up saying I'd read the prologue aloud after I had my haircut sorted.

So true to my promise this is the Prologue to the lovely book by Kathryn Williams.








Follow Kathryn on Twitter and get into her music, her art or her books - or all of it.


Kathwilliamsuk
@kathwilliamsuk

Get yourself a signed copy of 'The Ormering Tide' at Forum Books:

TOT_KW



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Got a Haircut for the ReadMeSpeakMe Party

Haircut

This week was the 3rd Anniversary of ReadMeSpeakMe which meant it was party week. As I said last week I wasn't going to do RMSM until I had my hair cut - as the barbers finally were allowed loose with their scissors on Monday 12th April. Huzzah. My last haircut was in the first week of November so I'd gone fully five months - and some - between cuts. Even if RMSM wasn't having a party, getting a cut felt like I deserved one. Happy days.

HaircutBefore
Before the Haircut

I'd got on the 17 from Fazakerley full of hope if not expectation. As it happened I managed to get in the barbers I've used for the last three cuts (which lets face it is most of a year now):
Istanbul Barbers on Dale Street. It didn't require booking or anything so strange for us of the 'boy' persuasion. Just turn up and wait in turn.

HaircutAfter
All light headed: Haircut after shock!

With haircut done there were three things to do 1) see if I can get in the other newly permissible places (pubs) 2) attend the #ReadMeSpeakMe Party and 3) do a reading of the prologue from Kathryn Williams' 'The Ormering Tide.'


Outdoor Beers

I managed to do 1) pretty much off the bat with being one of the first two getting a beer at the
Dispensary and also being one of the first served at the Coach House (Hard Times). Read the blog on Pubs to find out more on my feelings about this and on pubs in general.


ReadMeSpeakMe Party

Next up, a few days later, has been attending the
ReadMeSpeakMe Party. The call was to read a recipe for food or drink. Well as I always have a beer with my wee recordings then it had to beer really for the party. Unfortunately from a reading perspective four basic ingredients didn't make for compelling reading:

Malt Barley
Water
Hops
Yeast


It'd be short and sweet, which may have its attractions but it ain't suitable for our party.

Anyways whilst I was reading a book about alcoholic drinks, '
Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks' jam packed with great recipes and details, I found the first part of a poem about beer written by Thomas Warton in 1750. Two hundred and seventy years ago and they were still extolling the virtues of a nice pint over the, 'Riot stirring wine. Unwholesome draught!'

RMSM Invite
#ReadMeSpeakMe 3rd Anniversary Party Invite

Thomas Warton was an Oxford Don lecturing and writing on poetry and became the Poet Laureate for a time. He liked his beer and smoking too. Cool poetry dude. So I decided I'd read the first section of his '
Panegyric to Ale' (originally 'Oxford Ale').







The Ormering Tide

So that was 2 of 3 sorted. The third part I had pencilled in to do was a short reading from '
The Ormering Tide.' Kathryn Williams, who hails from Liverpool, is a brilliant singer-songwriter who I last saw her perform on her Anthology Tour at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Rooms. She performed some great songs and told some excellent anecdotes. I couldn't not buy her book when it came our this year. When I tweeted it was so lovely that I felt like I should be reading it aloud rather than to myself she tweeted back 'Do It' (although I may be paraphrasing there). So I have to, don't I?

OrmeringTide
'The Ormering Tide' by Kathryn Williams

Hope I can do justice. But hey, I'm ain't a professional. It's a beautiful book and I loved every page. I can wholeheartedly recommend you getting into the Tide and finding yourselves on the cliffs or beaches of the Channel Islands - or even in the pub. You won't regret it. And don't miss listening to some of her songs. Like all the best people Kathryn is on Twitter too @kathwilliamsuk so give her a follow.

KWHumanContact
Kathryn Williams 'Monday Morning' from Crown Electric

I will record my reading of the prologue tomorrow and get it up on the YouTube thing - I bet you can't wait. Watch this space: or better still just listen to some of Kathryn's songs.
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It's Alchemy I Tell Ya

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and I didn't get any Sunday roast sorted or a single egg, but I did end up with a couple of beers and I did get the weekly #ReadMeSpeakMe sorted too, so I had my now traditional Sunday then.

I'd intended to walk into Liverpool to get my daily steps in and take the opportunity to pick up a couple of bottles of something. Always good to kill two birds with one stone. Thanks to my far too aggressive addiction to Twitter though I spotted that
Top Rope Brewery, which is based in Bootle, was open for a few hours. My plans were basic and flexible - the result obvious. I duly went of to Top Rope and picked up three different beers: 'The Road to Helles,' 'Papa Mango' and 'Big Simcoe.' Better than anything I'd have picked up in Sainsburys or Lidl by an infinite distance.

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Plenty of choice available at 'Top Rope' today

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At Top Rope Brewery. I am smiling. Really.

Had a nice chat with Neil and the team and took a few photos before packing away my beer. Of course I still had my steps to get in and being in Bootle the obvious next stop was the coast for a walk on the beach. I headed to Waterloo by South Road and then to the beach and a stroll around the Anthony Gormley installation 'Another Place.' Been there so many times. But its always a lovely walk with the sea and the weather making it like a dynamic art installation. It's cool. I thought it would be busy and it was quite but it wasn't as bad as anticipated. The weather was sunny but there was a brisk breeze off the sea and it was a bit cooler than it had been. We're at the start of a cold snap apparently.

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Me and my mate, Tony

Tony-2
Tony looking thoughtfully out towards Ireland

With a bit more reading in the eveningI didn't get round to doing the Read Me Speak Me until late: after Line of Duty But I always try and do it on the Sunday; though not next week (haircut week starts Monday 12th). The poem for Read Me Speak Me No.137 was '
Alchemy' by Syreeta Muir. If you are on Twitter you can find her on @hungryghostpoet

RunToTheHelles
No need to 'Run to the Helles'




ReadMeSpeakMe 137: 'Alchemy' by Syreeta Muir - preceded by 5 minutes rambling about Top Rope beers, a walk in Crosby, and a deceased Wilco t-shirt




I was glad to get it done. Although I'm conscious I did waffle on even more than usual. Think I may need to set a timer next time.

Alchemy-1
Alchemy recorded. Now to get it on to YouTube.

I loved Syreeta's poem. A great read. It was a tad coincidental that I ended up being in Crosby today as Syreeta used to live there. Spooky! Don't forget to follow
@ReadMeSpeakMe on Twitter too.
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Ale and Poetry

I’ve been getting involved with #ReadMeSpeakMe since mid November last year. The first poem I read was ‘Arrival to the Sea’ by Juan Antonio Garcia, who is on Twitter @NoosferaMedia. My first attempt took me about eight takes. Since that time I’ve been recording the ReadMeSpeakMe poem almost every week - most are done on the first or second take now.

On the first poem I did chat a little before the poem - mostly to say it took me eight takes - and have continued to prelude the poem with a little chitchat; if nothing else just to say what drink I’ve got in my tankard. I recorded the early ones on my phone and posted it direct to Twitter. A couple were longer ones and harder to fit on a Tweet so I decided I needed to put the longer ones on
YouTube I decided I'd put them all on there, whatever the length. for consistency.

I've not had too much negative feedback from this way of doing it (that's not to say people are thinking such things of course) and it will probably continue. Even if it is just to say 'Cheers,' - and what I’m drinking that week.



ReadMeSpeakMe 136: 'Across the Table' by Rob Taylor




I’ve never tried embedding a YouTube video on my website... until now. I'm trying it now to see how it works, or if I can do it. So future poems could well be on here, but the YouTube channel will remain the primary place to find them. Consistency.

It’s amazing that it's only been four months I’ve been involved. In many ways it feels a lot longer. Love seeing all the community getting together for it each week: and it’s a mighty fine excuse to get out a bottle opener.

If you’ve never given it a go, and you fancy it then give it a try. Many of the poems are short enough that they can fit on a twitter video (particularly if you don't give it a preamble ramble like I do. But if you don't fancy giving it a go then just come over and say, 'Hi'.



HLBmag-2

The blog in the new Health section, on my MS diagnosis & travails, together with the poetry with beer thing has revealed that there is a gap in the market for a Health, Lifestyle, and Beer magazine. Am sure it could be a big seller. Then again it may just be pictures of beer and the odd limerick.

Incidentally I have updated the Health section so that
Disqus now works on it. So it is open for comments for anyone interested. Like the Comments in this section they are moderated so don't be surprised if they take some time to show up on the page. But they will eventually (assuming that they are appropriate of course).
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To You, To Me, Two YouTube

Got busy with it for a bit yesterday and managed to record myself reading a poem I'd written around nine years ago, and then followed it up with a bit of singing. Two vids for the price of one. Who'd have thunk it?

ReadMeSpeakMe is still on a holiday so it was back to reading a poem of my own again after last week's effort, 'Schrodinger's Poem'. It was serendipitous this week as I found the poem printed out in a notebook I was contemplating throwing out. Even more serendipitous the poem was called 'Serenity'. Spooky, hey! It's a lovely word, serenity, but the poem is the story of a growling drunk angry at the world and quite looking forward to death. So not so lovely at all.

Serenity Pic1
Click on the pic to discover how unserene

The vid starts with a brief mention of Neptune Brewery, my favourite local brewery, as I had a few of their cans yesterday in a quite rare event of drinking more than two beers at home. It's funny but while some people have been driven to drink, during these long lockdown months, I've been driven away from it. I'm drinking less than I do when normalcy reigns as I find drinking a social thing. Even if I'm by myself with a book in a pub it is social: you're getting served by someone, chatting to them, and you're drinking in the company (or at least vicinity) of others. Often you end up chatting to people you know and/or complete strangers. Drinking in pubs is a social thing in a group or not. Drinking at home is not a social thing. Most days if I open a bottle of beer at home I rarely get around to opening another - and sometimes I don't even finish the one I've opened. Drinking at home doesn't grab me, which I take as a good thing (and is why I won't buy wine, because if I open a bottle of wine it is going down like the fruit juice it is - you're asking for trouble with that stuff). Anyway I ended up over a period of over five hours drinking five whole beers! The insanity (you can get thrown out of pubs for drinking that slowly). Had five different beers, but my favourite was 'Turbulence'; get your tasting tackle around that stuff.

The Neptune Three

So there is the beer and there was the poem. All very serene. There was also a quick strum, which only came about because of yesterday's
VSS365. The prompt word was load, and for some reason it made me think of the Eagles song 'Take It Easy' - and trying to loosen your load when there's seven women on your mind (good luck with that one!). I wrote the VSS365 and got a couple of comments from people who seemed to think it may be me with seven women on me mind; rather than a classic song lyric. It made me post a link to the original song on Twitter and further than that; me to have a wee strum.

Take It Easy Pic1
Click on the pic to Take It Easy.

This brought out the guitar I was given by Sue, which was my mate Ken's lovely Tanglewood. He only passed away last month and in some ways it already seems ages ago. It is so lovely to have such a gift from Ken's long time partner. To think he sat in his room learning songs on it, and now I am. I'd never played the song before, and it shows, but I will add it to my practice to maybe get onto an Open Mic repertoire at some point. We shall see.

So that was Sunday. A two video, five beers kinda day. Cheers.
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ReadMESpeakME

#ReadMeSpeakMe is on a break at the moment. The first week off I didn't do anything although I did consider doing one of my own. So when the second week came I couldn't not do it. I've only got a few poems on here, but I picked one of them and did it. This week then Read Me Speak Me is really reading ME the poem by me, not just me the poem. Or something like that.

Schrodinger's Poem is a fun poem about the best poem ever written, which also happened to be by me: if I've remembered right. Then again if the box containing it is opened maybe, just maybe, it'll just be my misplaced shopping list with beers and cheeses on it. We'll never know now as I seem to have misplaced the box. Typical.

Schrodingers Poem
Click on here and be transported to not the best poem, but to 'Schrodinger's Poem' a poem about the best poem.

Haven't written any poems for a while - hey it's hard when you've already created the best poem ever, everything else is a disappointment. But maybe I'll get the poetry pencil out again.
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Horses and Poems

Well it's Thursday which means that a new photo prompt for Miranda's Mid Week Flash has gone up. It's the lovely image below. Click on the photo to check it out… Haven't got to it myself yet, but I definitely will do. I've done the last four consecutive weeks for the first time in a long time (Weeks 182-185).

Highways
Mid Week Flash Prompt, Week 186

I eventually wrote one for last week - on Sunday. I found it a tough one to write for again. I can't put my finger on why. Needless to say I ended up writing too much… and have only just edited it to get it down to the maximum of 750 words. It's called '
Recycling: New Gods and Old Ways': click here to check it out. Hope to get this week's up quicker this time. Love that photo of the Milky Way!

Recycled gods
Mid Week Flash Prompt, Week 185


There was no
#ReadMeSpeakMe this week. So I'm actually considering reading one of my poems out to fill the gap. Haven't written poetry for a long while so it'll be an oldie, but not necessarily a goldie. May do one from the tiny section on here, then again I may surprise you (and me). Anyways, watch this space.
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Voice Activation 5: RMSM 127

It had snowed overnight in Liverpool and it looked all very Christmassy. Not much like. It was not like it ended up with estates full of snowmen or snowball fights breaking out everywhere. Just enough snow to comment on and cause consternation for walkers and drivers alike. Later in the day some snow was still here whilst I was trying to get to grip with this week's interesting 'ReadMeSpeakMe.' RMSM 127 comprised a poem put together expertly by RMSM chief Meg @megwaff by slotting together first lines from dozens of poems from previous ReadMeSpeakMe poems and actually included poems from 44 writers.

As previous few poems I've put it up on the
YouTube channel. Had one annoying issue as I got to the end of a recording the device informed me it was full and just stopped recording. I very nearly shouted out 'Flipping heck!' or something akin to that. But I stayed strong and only minor work will be required to fix the head shaped hole in the wall's plaster. Got the recording done with only a couple of stutters and one wrong word (I think). Don't be too critical.

RMSM127
ReadMeSpeakMe 127


Read more about the poem on Meg's web page
www.megwaffling.wordpress.com/2020/12/27/the-rmsm-beast-of-a-poem/ and you'll realise what a big job she had on her hands to compile the poem. Great work, Meg. Kudos.

As ever my lovely pewter tankard makes its appearance. This time it has a bottle of '
Platform 6.1' from Wickwar Brewery. A decent pint at a decent price from B&M (£1.60).

________________________

Twitter:
@megwaff
@ReadMeSpeakMe

Website:

www.megwaffling.wordpress.com
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Voice Activation: 4

Sunday is rapidly becoming 'ReadMeSpeakMe Day'. And this week's Sunday was no different, at least from this perspective. If you are not aware of it (and I wasn't until a few weeks ago) it involved @readmespeakme posting a weekly poem every Sunday with the request for people to record themselves reading the poem and posting it on - or via - Twitter.

For the last three weeks I've recorded vids short enough to put within a Tweet but this week it was about ten seconds too long and I didn't want to edit the start or ends of it. This meant the obvious option was to put it up on YouTube. So that is where it has ended up. I may well put all future ReadMeSpeakMe efforts up on YouTube even if they are short just so there is a one-stop-shop for it.

Storyteller

This week's poem was from @sojourner97 titled 'The Storyteller'. It was just three verses and as I was setting up my phone and iPad to do the recording I was messing about with my guitar and it came to me to read the poem over a few chords, which I did. I of course read it as a poem too. All in one take as well - no editing required. After the day I had, or maybe because of it, I was remarkably relaxed. Due to playing and reading it the vid was over the length permitted on Twitter which is why I had little choice but to put it on YouTube.

Anyway, if you click on the photo it will take you through to the YouTube vid and you can see for yourself.

And why not get up on to @readmespeakme and check out the poems and the readings from the many talented people who get involved?

_______

Twitter links:

@zevonesque
@sojourner97
@readmespeakme
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Voice Activated: 3

After reading the Read Me Speak Me poems No.120 and 121 last weekend it is time for poem No.122: it's almost like they are in numeric order or something. This week's poem is 'Journey Along The Banks' by Swarn Gill @theedemaruh

JourneyAlong

Haven't decided whether to put it directly onto Twitter, or whether to create a folder and put it up on my YouTube. I'm thinking ultimately YouTube makes sense as for some of the longer poems as they won't fit onto a Tweet. That said this one would fit I'm sure so perhaps I can do both.

We'll see later on.


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