Ian Parks hosting poetry workshop at Donco HQ

NEXT Thursday (21st July), poet Ian Parks is hosting a poetry workshop at Doncopolitan’s office (83 Copley Road) at 6.30 pm.
All you need is a pen and some paper!
The workshop is suitable for beginners and those with some experience.
Ian Parks was born and bred in Mexborough where he still lives and runs the Read to Write poetry group. He is the only poet to be published in The Morning Star and the Times Literary supplement on the same day. His collections of poetry include Shell Island, The Landing Stage, Love Poems 1979-2009, and The Exile’s House. His latest collection was a Poetry Book Society Choice. He was writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library and Writing Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester from 2012-2014. A new collection, Citizens, is due from Smokestack Books in 2017.
Ian Parks
Check out our Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/615958801904800/

Come down to Conisbrough for Music Fest this weekend

Music FestConisbrough Music Fest is back for a second year, on Saturday 9th July. There will be four outdoor stages on Conisbrough Welfare Field and something for all ages- two live music stages, a kids zone and dance tent!
The fun kicks off at 12 noon with the final band leaving the stage at 10.30 pm.
The Imperial and CMF Stages will feature some of the best local bands and solo artists. Acts include The Inspectors, Mad Foxes, Fargo Railroad Co. AVIT Blues Band, the Martin Ferguson Band and Handsome Dan and the Mavericks.
Artists from last year will also be returning- Darren Eastell and the Freaky Fingers, Numb Youth and Niamh Wilkinson. A range of genres are covered including punk, indie, blues and folk.
The dance tent this year is being organised by SUBSET, who have have a varied mix of DJ’s from Northern Soul favourites Steve Mank and Dean Roach through to headliners Two Good who play their own blend of funk/disco.
New this year is a kids zone, aimed at the younger festival goers which will feature Conisbrough’s first urban beach area with a massive sand pit.
There’s a kids disco with live entertainers all day till 6.00pm, along with a bouncy castle, ice cream van, face painters and vendors selling a variety of food on site all day along with two licensed bars.
In the Castle grounds there will be the popular free stage until 5pm. The festival organisers are encouraging family’s to being a picnic down.
Artists booked to play include Brad Dear, Maelor Hughes, Silk Road and Ruby Macintosh.
Tickets are on sale online at www.conisbroughmusicfest.com and locally from Norman the Barber, Gary Kay Property, Ashworths Pet Services, Growlers, the Library, and Molly’s at Chimes. Pre event discounted prices are £7.50 adult (16+), £2 children (10 to 16 years) and Under 10’s are FREE. Prices on the day of the festival will be higher.
Music Fest are looking for volunteers to help make the day go smoothly. You can offer your services for as little as two hours to the full day.
Help is needed on Friday setting up and Sunday morning cleaning so if you want to enjoy the festival, you can still help before or after. There is a reward package for anyone who wants to help. Get in touch on: volunteerconisbroughmf@gmail.com.
“We had a fantastic day last year, if you went you won’t need telling how brilliant it was, we’d like to build on that by seeing even more local people coming out and enjoying some fantastic live music in the heart of Conisbrough”, said a Music Fest spokesperson.

Donny artist commissoned birthday present for the Queen

Doncaster based sculptor Amanda Hughes-Lubeck had a very special meeting on 23rd May-with the Queen at St James’ Palace in London.
She was there to present to Her Majesty the commission of “Fell Pony”, on the occasion of her 90th birthday. Amanda said: “I was commissioned out of the blue by Lord Dudson of the Dudson ceramic family. He asked me if I could sculpt Emma for Her Majesty.”
Amanda is one of the leading equestrian and animal sculptors in the country, with 26 years experience behind her so far. She trained for two years at the prestigious Sir Henry Doulton school of sculpture in her home town of Stoke-on-Trent.
This is Amanda’s first commission for a member of the Royal family. However, she had previously sculpted “The Queen on Burmese” for Beswick and Royal Worcester.
“Fell Pony” took three months of work and Emma was nervous about presenting the finished sculpture to Her Majesty.
“I’ve met quite a lot of famous people, but The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh is just on another dimension completely.”
Queen 2
Most of Emma’s work has been for the ceramic industry, creating prototypes.
“I’ve made all sorts, from Red Rum to Winnie the Pooh with Christopher Robin and Piglet sitting in an umbrella.
The largest piece was the restoration of The Lovers statue in Doncaster. It’s about 4 meters tall and was re- erected last year”, she said.
Amanda moved to Doncaster due to her husband changing jobs.
“It has become my home now and I love it. I think it has a lot of positive things going for it. It has seen huge growth in the past few years with new business coming into the area.
I wish that I could do more with my work here but I tend to sell more in the South- Cheshire and the Norfolk / Suffolk area, due to the type of galleries that I sell through”, said Amanda.

Ted Hughes festival returns to Mexborough

Ted HUghes Grammar
Mexborough’s old grammar school where Hughes attended

The Ted Hughes Poetry Festival returned to Mexborough between the 18-26 June. Last July saw the inaugural festival. This year’s program drew heavily on Hughes’ history in Mexborough whilst also promoting the current literary culture of South Yorkshire.
Ted Hughes is one of England’s most famed poets, having served as Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. He was the husband of poet Sylvia Plath.
The festival was organised by Mexborough-based community group, The Ted Hughes Project (THP) which is funded by Arts Council England.
“The project has a threefold aim:  to develop an annual poetry festival in Mexborough; to develop a Ted Hughes Trail in and around Mexborough; and to develop creative writing and arts within the community at Mexborough”, said Steve Ely, a poet involved in organising the festival.
The THP was formed in late 2014 with their first project being the organisation of a ‘Ted Hughes’s Paper Round’- a performance trail between Mexborough and Old Denaby based on the route of the eleven years old Hughes’s paper round.
Ely says “there’s no doubt” that Hughes ties to Mexborough have been ignored.
“Jonathan Bate’s recent (2015) biography and the BBC documentary that came out at the same time both sadly perpetuate the myth that Hughes was formed in his natal town of Mytholmroyd in the upper Calder Valley before going up to Cambridge, meeting Sylvia Plath and embarking on his stellar literary career – completely ignoring Mexborough’s role in Hughes’s formation.  In fact the Hughes family moved to Mexborough in 1938 when Hughes was only 8 years old and lived there until 1951, in which year they returned to the upper Calder Valley – and Ted went up to Cambridge”, he said.
The Mexborough countryside was a massive influence on the young poet.
“During his time at Mexborough Hughes would roam the countryside – particularly at Old Denaby and Crookhill – shooting and trapping animals and fishing, particularly for pike.  This immersion in nature gave him the keen eye that informs his nature poems”, said Ely.
In Mexbrough, Hughes wrote his first poems and it is “where he resolved-at the age of 16, in 1946-to become a poet”, said Ely.  Hughes by age 17 was known as ‘the poet’ by the staff and pupils of Mexborough Grammar School.
Mexborough Grammar School is now closed but during the main day of the festival-Saturday 25th June-it was base of the festival. At 1 pm on the Saturday, Pauline Mayne’s daughter-her mother taught Hughes English at school-presented on her mother’s influence.
Pauline Mayne's daughter
Pauline Mayne’s daughter

“His time at Mexborough Grammar School and the influence of his charismatic English teachers Pauline Mayne and John Fisher in particular formed his artistic tastes, allowed him to develop into a nascent ‘man of letters’ and facilitated his entry to Pembroke College, Cambridge” said Ely.
A key highlight of the festival was a reading by Frieda Hughes at 6 pm on the Saturday. Freida is of course Hughes and Plath’s daughter, and an accomplished author and poet in her own right.
Freida Hughes
Freida Hughes

The festival tries to maintain as many direct or indirect Hughes links as possible. Other events included Hughes’s scholars (and poets) Greg Leadbetter, Vidyan Ravinthiran and Ed Reiss discussing Ted Hughes’s politics via a discussion of several of his poems, folk singer Mick Jenkinson performing an arrangements of ballads Hughes loved and used to sing as an undergraduate and the latest version of ‘Ted Hughes’s Paper Round’ is taking place.
Yet Ely says that “the Festival is a poetry and arts festival in the widest sense and we aim to bring to Mexborough top quality performers.”
Ian McMillan, Ian Clayton, Helen Mort all appeared at this year’s festival. “They are all ‘Yorkshire writers’ with national and international reputations.”
“Our festival is about honouring and commemorating the fact that the greatest English poet of the 20th century was formed in Mexborough, but it is not backward-looking or heritage based – its about liberating creativity, generating involvement and simply promoting fun, excitement and enjoyment today – in Hughes’s name”, said Ely.
Stall 2
Donco stall at the festival


Ted Hughes Project Takes over Mexborough's Old Grammar School

The main event of the Ted Hughes festival will be held at the Old Grammar in Mexborough where Hughes studied from 1941-1949. There’s an inspirational line-up for the festival.
1:00-2.15pm Hughes at School  Presentation from Pauline Mayne and Zoe Bennett
It was at Mexborough Grammar School where Hughes came under the spell of two charismatic teachers, this presentation will take you on journey of Ted’s life as a student  in Mexborough.
2:30-3:00pm Vidyan Ravinthiran – Reading (30 mins)
Born in Leeds to Sri Lankan parents, Vidyan is a Lecturer at Durham University. He is an editor for online poetry journal Prac Crit and his 2014 collection Grun-tu-molani was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize and the 2015 Michael Murphy Memorial Prize.
3:00-3:30pm  Greg Leadbetter – Reading (30 mins)
Greg has written radio drama for the BBC, and was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013. He is Reader in Literature and Creative Writing at Birmingham City University. His debut poetry collection The Fetch will be published by Nine Arches Press in October 2016.
4.00-5.00pm Hughes & Politics  Chaired Discussion: Vidyan, Greg, Ed Reiss, Steve Ely (45 mins)
Ted Hughes’s politics remain something of an enigma. A lifelong monarchist but nevertheless a committed environmentalist. This roundtable discussion will cut some trajectories into Hughes’s politics as reflected in his poems ‘The Retired Colonel’ (Lupercal), ‘Remembrance Day’ (from ‘Out: III’, Wodwo) and ‘Shibboleth (Capriccio) and his little known essay on the British class system, ‘The Rat Under the Bowler’.

6.00-7.00pm Frieda Hughes – Reading
Frieda was born in London in 1960, grew up in Devon, and after living in various parts of England and Australia now lives on the Welsh Borders. She has published seven children’s books and four poetry collections and has had many exhibitions of her work. Her latest book is Alternative Values: poems & paintings.
7.20 – 8.00pm Cathy Galvin – Reading
Cathy has forged a formidable career as a journalist and was the deputy editor at The Sunday Times and editor of Newsweek. She founded London’s premier short story literary salon, The Word Factory. Since 2014, her poetry has been published in the The London Magazine, Morning Star, Visual Verse and a variety of anthologies.
8.20 – 9.00pm Mick Jenkinson – Ted’s Folk Songs & Ballads
Folk Singer, poet and coordinator of Doncaster Folk Festival presents a series of Folk Song & Ballads, recited by Hughes in his Cambridge undergraduate years in the mid 1950s.
9.15 – 10.00pm Helen Mort  Reading
Helen was born in Sheffield. Her first collection Division Street was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize and, in 2014, won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize. Her new collection No Map Could Show Them is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
Check her out here…