Poetry (and novels) to be read and poetry to be performed
30 November 2020. For her sixth year of participation in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), Jane continued with her fantasy novel, The Thrown Stone, achieving her target of 25,000 words for the month. When she was halfway through the month she really didn't think she was going to manage it, but then the words finally started to flow again. She was very pleased to have got through the long period, beginning with the lockdown back in March, when writing didn't seem to be an option. Jane doesn't think she was the only one who found the creative well had run dry, and hopes others have also made their way out of the doldrums.
23 March 2020. Covid-19 lockdown. The creative writing course went online-only, and the second meeting of the new writer's group, Writers' Space, was cancelled - along with everybody's plans all over the world.
25 January 2020. The first meeting of a new writer's group, Writers' Space, was held in The Great Oak Bookshop, Llanidloes. It was set up by Helen Street and Jane as a place for writers to meet and support each other. Participants each brought a piece of their own work to share, and there was some lively discussion on various topics, including the state of the pubishing world.
22 January 2020. The start of the Spring term creative writing course, "Writing Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction". This is the tenth module Jane has attended from Aberystwyth University's Lifelong Learning courses, working towards a Certificate in Higher Education in Creative Writing.
30 November 2019. In her fifth year of participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), Jane went back to a story she originally started in 1990, which had been sculling around in her subconscious all those years. It's a fantasy novel called The Thrown Stone. She enjoying the writing, despite struggling with the new version of the NaNo website, and achieved her target of 25,000 words for the month.
14 September 2019. Jane was delighted to be involved with touring exhibition "Diversity: Innovation - International Printmaking Perspectives", created by Canadian artist Jenn Whitford Robbins. As one of the poets asked to write a poetic response to one of the prints (following the success of the Mid Wales Arts Centre exhibition and poetry event), she read her poem at the exhibition opening at Aberystwyth School of Art.
16-18 June 2019. Jane had an enjoyable weekend at the second Monty Lit Fest, held at Gregynog Hall. As well as some very interesting talks and Q&A sessions, she attended a Pitch Surgery given by publishing professionals Gwen Davies and Julia Forster from New Welsh Review, at which Julia Forster was particularly encouraging.
31 March 2019. In a return to writing poetry (and after a few weeks in the States), Jane read her poem "Tylluan", inspired by one of the prints in the exhibition at Mid Wales Arts Centre. The exhibition features prints by both Welsh and international printmakers, with poems displayed next to the prints that inpired them.
16 February 2019. After very prolonged consideration of the full manuscript, Honno finally decided not to publish Curiosity. So Jane will be back to looking for a suitable agent in due course.
30 January 2019. The start of the Spring term creative writing course, "Writing as a Creative Process". This is the ninth module Jane has attended from Aberystwyth University's Lifelong Learning courses, working towards a Certificate in Higher Education in Creative Writing.
25 January 2019. After a long break
for a family Christmas, Jane finally finished the first
draft of her SF novel, The Emerald Ring, which
now stands at 95,000 words.
November 2018. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again! Jane knuckled down to resume work on her SF novel, The Emerald Ring, achieving her target of 25,000 words for the month and finishing at 88,000 words with the end in sight.
October 2018. After a difficult summer, Jane started the Autumn term creative writing course, "Writing with Attentiveness and Feeling". This is the eighth module she has attended from Aberystwyth University's Lifelong Learning courses, working towards a Certificate in Higher Education in Creative Writing.
22 July 2018. Caroline Oakley at Honno was intrigued enough by the revised sample of Curiosity to ask to read the full manuscript, much to Jane's delight. (Agents Curtis Brown also gave a delayed response to the March submission, not wanting to see the full ms but commenting on the "strong and engaging" writing.) Sadly, Jane was not able to share the news with her mother, who had lived with her since 2010 but passed away the previous month.
Feb 2018. Jane has continued working on The Emerald Ring and also made some more edits to Curiosity. While waiting for a reply from Honno, she decided to submit Curiosity to a second small batch of agents.
30 November 2017. Jane used NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to resume work on her SF novel, The Emerald Ring, and finished the month with 55,000 words of the first draft written. Still quite a long way to go!
1 November 2017. After yet more edits to Curiosity, and then putting it aside for a while before rereading it, Jane submitted a revised sample to Caroline Oakley at Honno.
24 June 2017. Jane had a very useful "meet the editor" session with Caroline Oakley at Honno, who considered that Curiosity might be publishable, and suggested some revisions to consider. Jane went home with her head buzzing with ideas.
April 2017. Jane has finally bitten the bullet and started to submit her crime/mystery novel, Curiosity, to literary agents. It all began with the cat that wasn't there. But when withdrawn Mattie is pushed into investigating the cat's death by the strange old woman who owned it, she finds herself on a trail that leads her into a world of disappearance, danger - and murder. And then her troubled past comes back to bite her
March 2017. The manuscript review that Jane won from literary consultants Daniel Goldsmith Associates said some very complimentary things about her book, Curiosity, such as "it is an original concept for a mystery with some compelling characters". It also raised a few issues. She has been doing the "final" edits to address the issues, and agonizing over the covering letter before preparing to send it out to agents.
30 January 2017. Jane has sent her novel Curiosity to literary consultants Daniel Goldsmith Associates for assessment. She had felt that the novel was getting close to being ready to send to agents, but had reached the "can't see the wood for the trees" stage. Winning the critique at the Mslexia Max evening was therefore very timely. She is now waiting rather nervously for the critique. A good opportunity to get back to work on The Emerald Ring...
23 January 2017. Wow! Jane logged on to the Mslexia Max evening, followed the live discussions and took part in the competitions, and had great fun. Furthermore, not only did she win a Mslexia subscription package for her 4-line poem, but the next day she discovered that she'd also won a £430 manuscript critique from literary consultants Daniel Goldsmith Associates off the back of her 300-word flash card entry. What a happy Jane!
November 2016. After a hectic year of family celebrations, Jane used NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) get down to some serious editing of her novel Curiosity. She has now completed all the plot- and character-related edits, but unfortunately the word-count has crept up above 100K. It's now time to prune and tighten the prose!
20th October 2016. Jane hosted the last of her Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evenings (MW-POM) at MWAC (Mid Wales Arts Centre) in Caersws, Powys. The guest poets were Deborah Alma (famous as the Emergency Poet) and James Sheard. The couple's contrasting styles and subject matter made it a wonderfully diverse evening. For more of their impressive poetry, you can buy Deborah's pamphlet from The Emma Press and James' books via Penguin.
Several people expressed an interest in taking up the baton of organising the event, so hopefully MWPOM will continue in 2017 without Jane having to fret about it.
4th August 2016. Jane enjoyed reading (5-min slot) at Shrewsbury Poetry in the Old Post Office, Milk Street.
7th July 2016. The summer session of the Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC was enjoyed by all who attended and participated, despite a rather low turnout (with many other events on in the area). The guest poet was Ross Donlon. Ross's poems have been widely published in Australia and Ireland, and he has published several collections. He has travelled to Europe many times in the past five years, enjoying residencies in Norway and Romania, and reading in several other countries, both at festivals and as a feature reader. We were delighted that such an accomplished poet came to mid Wales!
14th April 2016. Wow! What an amazing session of the Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC. The guest poet was Jonathan Davidson, whose readings were received with rapturous applause. To get a flavour, read the blog on it by Nadia Kinglsey of Fair Acre Press! If you missed the event (or if you were there and didn't manage to buy a copy), do look out for Jonathan's publications - including Early Train (Smith/Doorstop, 2011) and the brilliant Humfrey Coningsby: Poems, Complaints, Explanations and Demands for Satisfaction (Valley Press, 2015).
23rd January 2016. Jane read her short prose piece, C T W, at the Flora evening at the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown. C T W was highly commended in the Oriel Davies Gallery 2015 Open Writing competition on the theme of Flora. It was about the book 'Flora of the British Isles', by Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
16th January 2016. Jane was delighted to receive the report on her novel, Curiosity, from the Literature Wales Critical Service. The overall summary was extremely positive. Next there were detailed "a few issues that detract from its overall impact. None of these are major structural or plot issues so they will not be difficult to resolve." The comments were all very helpful. Her only quandary now is whether to stop working on The Emerald Ring and focus on editing Curiosity (which could take a while), or to finish a first draft of The Emerald Ring first.
November 2015. Jane took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and finished the month with 28,000 words of a first draft of her new novel, The Emerald Ring. This is about the first third of the book.
28th October 2015. Jane sent a draft of her detective novel, Curiosity to the Literature Wales Critical Service. She just has to wait 12 weeks to get the report back...
8th October 2015. The scheduled guest poet for the Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC, Helen Calcutt, was sadly taken ill on the day and was unable to read. Fortunately, eminent local poet Chris Kinsey was able to step into the breach with some fabulous readings of new poems: these will feature in her next collection, scheduled for publication in 2017.
18th July 2015. Jane read and sang at an evening event with Quindici chamber choir in Tregynon Community Centre. The concert featured Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo - an entertaining cantata by Joseph Horovitz with libretto by Michael Flanders, which has been a favourite since it was written in 1970. Jane's poems included Maximilian's Story, written especially for the event, about the T rex that didn't make it onto the ark.
9th July 2015. The Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC, went down a storm. As well as the open mic, there were readings from guest poets David Calcutt and Nadia Kingsley. David Calcutt is a playwright, poet and novelist who has been widely published. Nadia Kingsley is a poet, flash fiction and short story writer, who also runs Fair Acre Press. They read from their joint publications, Through the Woods and Road Kill (a journey into the secret lives of our native animals) together with individual readings.
Liz won the 2011 Roy Fisher Prize which resulted in the publication of her pamphlet, Pretending the Weather. The Gathering was published in 2012 and set to music by composer Brian Evans, and premiered at the 2012 St Chad's Music Festival, Shrewsbury. Her latest pamphlet, Mending the Ordinary, was published in 2014 by Fair Acre Press. Liz organises the monthly event, Shrewsbury Poetry. She appeared at Theatre Severn last November, reading with Carol Ann Duffy (Poet Laureate) and Gillian Clarke (National Poet of Wales), so it was great to have the opportunity to hear her in Caersws!
26th February 2015. Jane performed at the main event of the first Welshpool Poetry Festival, which was popular and well-attended. Other poets performing included Chris Kinsey, Bryan Podmore, Neil Mckeown, Improetry, Kozzkikabo, Shosha Clare, Sarah and Alan Hawley, Peter Nowodunsk, Sonya Smith, Pat Edwards, Bob Charlesworth, Bethany Rivers and the Emergency Poet".
Other Festival events included Desert Island Poems with Bethany Rivers and the "Emergency Poet", a Poetry Open Mic, and a Workshop with Bethany Rivers. The Festival was sponsored by Welshpool Town Council and many local businesses and individuals. Profits from the main event went to the Welshpool Supporting Hands Charity.
21st January 2015. Jane finished the first draft of her detective novel, Curiosity. It came in at 95,000 words, which is the right length for a first novel, but Jane suspects it is probably not long enough to allow for cutting out all the dross! She is planning on putting it to one side for the moment, while she gets back to writing poetry and attends a course on writing short stories.
30th October 2014. An excellent evening at Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC. Sadly, the booked poet Liz Lefroy was unwell and unable to come, but we were very fortunate that Nadia Kingsley stepped into the breach at very short notice! Wonderful readings from Nadia, and a very high standard of readers from the floor.
14th August 2014. The Mid
Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC
was a great event - packed venue, excellent variety of
readings from the floor, and wonderful poems from guest
June 2014. Jane has just about recovered from her collie having an unplanned litter of puppies in March. The novel is now over 50,000 words - it makes the poems seem very short...
22nd May 2014. The Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC was a celebration of Powys Poetry Talent (as part of Powys Arts Month). The poems were many and varied, and it was especially pleasing to have two young contributors - one reading her own work, which was of a very high standard.
21st December 2013. Jane performed a Christmas poem (as well as singing in the choir) at the Quindici concert, "Hodie Christus Natus Est" at Tregynon Church. It was well-attended (thanks to excellent coverage in the County Times) and a very festive occasion.
December 2013. Read Jane's poem "Buttercup" in the December 2013 issue of the quarterly light verse webzine "LightenUp Online".
27th November 2013. Jane performed as the Featured Poet at a new monthly spoken word event in Welshpool at the new arts and crafts shop "Bring It Home" (formerly Gwythers shoe shop). This was a lovely venue, and a good start to the series.
17th October 2013. The Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC was a lively affair with the excellent guest poet Emma Purshouse, who had travelled from Wolverhampton to entertain us in wild Wales. Emma's poetry was very popular, and the standard from the floor was also very high. The next MWPOM will be held next spring.
20th July 2013. Jane felt privileged to be invited to Richard White's diamond wedding event in Shrewsbury, and to hear a performance her poem Two Trees set to music. Richard approached Jane after hearing her read at the Music and Arts evening in Llanidloes in February, and asked if she had a poem suitable for setting to music for a diamond wedding celebration. She said she didn't have anything, but might be inspired to write something, and Two Trees was the result. It describes two trees that grew in her parents woodland, which were joined by two crossing branches, and which seemed an appropriate metaphor for a long and happy marriage. Richard (formerly Music Adviser for Shropshire) produced a wonderful composition, scored for SATB and piano, which was expertly performed on the day.
July 2013. The Spectator has relented and put its competition back outside the subscription wall, so Jane's poems that have been published there are available to read online again.
18th July 2013. The Mid Wales
Poetry Open Mic Evening at MWAC
was a great success with a brilliant guest poet and some
excellent readers from the floor, including several new
people. It was well-attended, with some people having
travelled for an hour or more to be there. As it was so
hot it was held in the Sculpture Hall - hoping for
"pleasantly cool", but even in there it was a
little on the warm side!
March-July 2013. Jane apologises for the lack of new poems and events (other than MWPOM), but she is currently working on a novel...
18th April 2013. Jane hosted another
of the quarterly series of Mid Wales Poetry Open
Mic Evenings at MWAC
(Mid Wales Arts Centre) in Caersws, Powys. The guest poet
was Gareth Davies, a performance poet
with a passion for story, poetry, communication, and
transformation. He had performed at a previous MWPOM, and
was so popular that he was invited to have his own guest
spot! The evening was well-attended, but with an audience
who mostly wanted to listen rather than read, so it was
fortunate that Gareth had an extensive supply of
memorised poems with which he kept everyone entranced and
23rd February 2013. Jane read with the Marches Book Arts Group in the Public Hall, Bishop's Castle, as part of the Bishop's Castle Arts Festival. Other readers included Chris Kinsey, Bryan Podmore and Miriam Obrey.
Jane was pleased to receive a "highly commended" for her poem Upwards in the Provocations poetry competition (part of the festival), and read the poem at the enjoyable prizegiving evening.
7th February 2013. Online shop! Leaf and Landscape: A selection of nature poems by Jane Dards, is now available to purchase online here.
6th February 2013. Jane read/performed some of her poetry at Llanidloes High School, at one of the ongoing series of Llanidloes Music and Arts evenings. The "headline act" were Maldwyn Strings, together with Michael Brennan (bass). Jane had a 10-minute slot in each half, and her poems were well-received. A most enjoyable evening.
5th January 2013. Jane read her poem "The Camel's Tale: A poem for Epiphany" at the 12th Night celebrations in Llandinam (rather belatedly, as the poem was originally written for the event in 2010 that was cancelled because of bad weather, and again in 2011...). The evening started in St Llonio's Church, and then moved to the Village Hall for Wassailing before going on to more dance, song and good cheer.
Sept-Dec 2012 Jane took a time out from poetry to work as a technical author. (Pays the bills...)
7th October 2012. Jane hosted a variation on the usual Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic event at MWAC (Mid Wales Arts Centre) in Caersws, Powys.There was a Poetry and Music afternoon in the Sculpture Hall, in aid of CUP (Conservation of Upland Powys).
16th August 2012. Jane hosted the
third in a series of regular Mid Wales Poetry
Open Mic Evenings at MWAC
(Mid Wales Arts Centre) in Caersws, Powys. A wide variety
of poems were read by the attendees, and a good time was
had by all.
June 2012. Sadly, The Spectator has decided to restrict access to the competition pages of their website to subscribers to their online site. So the links to Jane's poems that have been published in The Spectator will no longer work unless you are a subscriber.
21st June 2012. Jane hosted the second in a series of regular Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evenings at MWAC (Mid Wales Arts Centre) in Caersws, Powys. The guest poet, John Bennett, was visiting from Australia, where he is widely published and has performed at various literary festivals. He read from his latest book, "A Pocket Diary" (Flying Island Books, 2012), plus some Welsh poems from a previous book. The evening was well-attended, with some new faces, and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.
8th June 2012. Jane performed some poems at The Show Must Go On at Llanidloes Community Centre, in an evening of Magical Music, Terrifying Tricks and Delightful Dancers, organised by Amber Deacon. A variety show full of local talent of all ages, giving everyone a chance to shine, with all proceeds to The Teenage Cancer Trust.
13th April 2012. Jane competed in the Wenlock Poetry Festival Poetry Slam, hosted by Spoz, in Much Wenlock. The standard was very high. Sadly, Jane fluffed her lines: she is not sure whether to put this down to it being Friday 13th, her recent illness (and subsequent last-minute poetry-writing), or just plain senility. Hopefully not the last!
29th March 2012. Jane hosted the first in a series of regular Mid Wales Poetry Open Mic Evenings at MWAC (Mid Wales Arts Centre) in Caersws, Powys.
Yes, having complained about the lack of an informal regular open mic evening anywhere in mid Wales, Jane finally got herself together and organised one herself. With thanks to the Zest! team in Chester for setting such a good example, to Meg Gurney (who runs Torfaen Open Mic) for all her useful tips, to Cathy Knapp for providing the venue, and to Chris Kinsey for her advice and for agreeing to be our first guest poet.
The guest poet was Chris Kinsey. Since winning an Arts Council of Wales bursary for new writing in 2000, Chris has been a freelance writer, tutor, and rescuer of greyhounds. She has three collections of poetry: Kung Fu Lullabies and Cure for a crooked smile with Ragged Raven Press, and Swarf with Smokestack Books. Her stage play, Feathering the Dark, was shown at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and her short play, I and I, at Venue Cymru. She writes a regular Nature Diary for Cambria and occasionally for Natur Cymru. Chris has read at the Ledbury and Hay festivals, and her work has been featured on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Wales. She was BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year in 2008, and is currently Writer-in-Residence at Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown.
The evening was a great success, with over 20 people attending. There was a nice buzzy atmosphere and everybody responded well to the readings. Feedback included "Lovely evening - thoroughly enjoyed all the poetry", "Such a lovely evening with many wonderful words", "Excellent start", "Great!" and "I'll join in next time!". Suggestions for frequency were mostly for bimonthly, with some preferring quarterly, so the next one will be held on Thursday 21st June 2012.
24th February 2012. Jane enjoyed reading with the Gallery Poets at the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown, Powys. The well-attended evening was hosted by Chris Kinsey, and the poems included a wide range of styles and subject matter, from the Carribean to Schrödinger's Cat.
27th-29th January 2012. Jane attended the "Advanced Writing" weekend course at Ty Newydd, the National Writers' Centre for Wales. It was a stimulating course in a wonderful setting. The course tutors were Zoë Skoulding and Ian Gregson.
12th December 2011. Jane was pleased to win a prize as one of the four winners of Zest!'s four-line poem competition, on the subject of "Games". Here's her poem:
December 2011. Read Jane's poem "When we are very old" in the December 2011 issue of the quarterly light verse webzine "LightenUp Online".
29th November 2011. An entertaining evening at the grand final of the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry in the Depot Studio, Swansea Grand Theatre. Jane was one of the 15 finalists competing in the Literature Wales event, which aims to find "the best live poet in Wales". The winner of both the main prize and the audience prize was the accomplished poet Rhian Edwards, with a fantastic poem called "Girl Meats Boy".
29th October 2011. The Dance for Life Unlimited: A Cornucopia of Powys Performing Arts (the finale of Powys Arts Month) was a thoroughly enjoyable event. The Albert Hall Theatre in Llandrindod Wells was a delightful venue - what a super little theatre, with all its Victorian charm and lush decor! The music and dancing was a treat - varied and vibrant. Jane performed some poetry, and one member of the audience said that Jane had changed her life. What can one say?
25th October 2011. It was a fun evening in Llandudno's Venue Cymru at the northern heat of the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry. The poets performed a wide variety of work, and Jane was one of the four winners who went on to compete (together with the finalists from the other three heats) at the grand final in Swansea on 29th November.
15th September 2011. A great time was had by all at the launch of Chris Kinsey's latest book, Swarf, at the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown, Powys . It was a varied evening, with readings by Andy Croft and Jane Dards (left), RV Bailey, Chris Kinsey, and Kaite O'Reilly (right) going down well with a large audience. Swarf is available from Smokestack Books.
September 2011. Jane sent a bit of doggerel in support of BBC4 to the Radio Times, which was published in the "Feedback" section of the issue for 17-23 September 2011. You can read it here.
September 2011. You've seen the movie, now read the book! (sort of...) You may have watched the video of Jane performing "Forgetful? Me?" on the Videos page or on YouTube. Now you can read the text in the September 2011 edition of the quartely light verse webzine LightenUp Online.
August 2011. Read Jane's poem, "Tube lines", in the competition pages of The Spectator for Sat 27th August 2011 here.
25th August 2011. Jane had a great time at Mid Wales Arts Centre with the Dance For Life Summer School. The young people had a day of dance, art and poetry, with audio CDs of the performances produced by Sophie King with her mobile recording studio. Jane was very impressed by how talented all these young people are!
For bookings, please email Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming events in 2021
Jane will be:
Working on her novels for the forseeable future.
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