Thursday, 18 January 2018

PREVIEW LITFEST 2018 - Poet Ralph Dartford at Hyde Park Book Club

Tuesday 6 March
Hyde Park Book Club 7.30pm FREE

Recovery Songs by Ralph Dartford
Directed by Samuel James Humphrey

A brand new spoken word story about addiction, the causes of addiction, and the recovery from its destructive forces.

Written and performed by A Firm of Poets founder, Ralph Dartford, from his own true experience of addiction, falling down and getting back up again. An unflinching, sometimes funny confessional that might change your mind about everything you thought you knew about addiction.

Funded by the Arts Council of England

Audience reviews for Recovery Songs

‘Recovery Songs is moving, compelling and brave. I was gripped by Ralph Dartford’s performance.’ - IMove Arts

‘I remember awkwardly laughing at the beginning of  Recovery Songs', expecting Ralph to jump into comedy through his first piece. Immediately, I realised my mistake. An honest take on his experiences with addiction, it made me sit up and listen. Ralph was captivating and straightforward, stepping from darkness, to hope, to troubled relationships, to love effortlessly. I have no idea how long he performed for, but I couldn't stop listening.’ - Up Yours, Leeds

‘I loved it! Ralph is an excellent and honest storyteller. Go and see him yourself, and make your own judgement.’ Dominic Monaco - Audience member.

Ralph Dartford Biography

Ralph Dartford studied poetry at Birkbeck College, London under the tutelage of Michael Donaghy. His work has appeared in the Guardian, Pulp Faction, Stirring (US), WordLife and London Territories amongst many other publications. His first volume of poetry, ‘Cigarettes, Beer and Love’ received wide acclaim, and his second, ‘Dirty Needle Rain’ will hopefully see the light of day in 2019.
Ralph Dartford

Latest Project. New Town Utopia: A film about Basildon

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Beowulf visits Quarry Mount

Sally Andrews writes:
A cold coming we had of it … OK, wrong literary reference (The Magi by T S Elliot) but on a bone-chilling November morning we had a lovely warm welcome at Quarry Mount from Ms Aspin and her year 5 class.  They had been studying Beowulf, another epic poem, but this one at least 1000 years old.  The story told makes particular use of alliterative language and the youngsters took to the form with skill and imagination, retelling the story in their own creative writing.  A new twist on a tale from another millennium.
Poet-hero James Nash
Working once again with James Nash, local published poet - who has been reading his work to audiences for two decades - they even gave him some advice about the performances of their original writing.  Reading out to an assembly of peers, parents, other school personnel and adult visitors, they convinced themselves the audience were just pineapples – and there was little evidence of nerves.  Brio and confidence with performing, delight and pride shown in smiles and body language speaking volumes.  Marvellous to see in nine-year-olds!  Who amongst us wouldn't be nervous to perform in front of peers and parents?

This 'pineapple' was delighted by some wonderfully original work: battling Beowulf, gruesome Grendel, scared soldiers telling tales by the flickering flames of the fire – we got alliteration all right. Along with caves, magical swords, gushing blood , sharp yellow teeth … you got the picture very vividly from their work.

Some of the memorable lines of poetry from the children were:

Soldier slowly waking

Who knows what will happen every second we think

Mysterious man creeping at the door

His yellow broken teeth, his arms as big as trees

Sound like a bag being burst open

The mysterious door opened

His mother came for revenge, I snatched her head off.

One parent said of his son beforehand, “ He is really excited about it, despite being really nervous – it is an opportunity for him to express himself.”  Another mum confided that her daughter spoke Arabic but that this opportunity had developed her writing in English and she was now much more confident with her writing.

Ms Price, the classroom support assistant spoke of the change in one young man who had really taken flight with his writing, learning how drafting, editing and redrafting were all necessary steps to the production of a final piece fit for performance.

Year 5's class teacher Ms Aspin said that the class had gained so much confidence in reading out loud and headteacher Ms Hendley added they had so enjoyed the breadth of opportunity that experiencing poetry with a professional poet had given them.

Curriculum leader Mrs Smith was so grateful for the opportunity to have a poet inspire creative literacy in children who didn't always have English as a first language, and recounted that one young man said the poetry workshops were “The best club I have ever been to.”

Comments from the youngsters when asked what was best about the project included:
“Learning how to do poetry”
“Seeing poetry books”
“Learning new things”
“It was fun!”

They will remember how proud they were of their work and how making your feelings obvious might inspire others to write honestly and with emotion.

Last words to the parents:
“I loved it, it was wonderful”
“I thought this event was a great idea as it helps the children build confidence to read out in front of people”
“I thought all the children did really well; they were confident and very brave; I love the way parents can get involved”

Thank you again to Leeds council's Inner North West Area Management Committee who funded the work once again.  In difficult times it is good to see that creative arts are still supported.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ralf Thenior in Leeds - Headingley on 21 September 2017

Peter Spafford writes:
I want to put the word out about Ralf Thenior, a poet from Dortmund who is spending a week in Leeds from Sept 17th. I’ve organised a few readings/events for Ralf - it would be great if you could make it along to one or more of them.

Ralf Thenior - Ein Dichter aus Dortmund
Ralf’s visit is part of a Dortmund-Leeds exchange I've initiated - I’m going to Dortmund in October for a week to read at the Literature Festival there. The exchange is a pilot, bravely funded by Leeds City Council; a chance for each poet to meet a new place and write our own poems about the other's city. It’s a deliberate attempt, in the wake of recent events, to reach out to the writing communities of other European cities. Dortmund is twinned with Leeds and seemed a good place to start.

Here are the events:
TUESDAY 19th, 7.30pm: Ralf will co-host Love The Words with me on Chapel FM. Listen at He will be reading, talking about Dortmund, translation, life in general, and chatting to guests.

WEDNESDAY 20th 12noon: Ralf is talking to young people studying German at Lawnswood High School.

THURSDAY 21st, 7pm: In The Neighbourhood, at Oxfam Books, Headingley. Ralf, myself, and Matthew Bellwood will be reading and talking about our respective neighbourhoods. Free event in collaboration with Headingley Litfest.

FRIDAY 22nd, 1pm: Ralf is reading and talking at Leeds Central Library, 1pm. Free event.

FRIDAY 22ND, 7pm: House gig at my gaff, with French chansons performed by Encore. Limited space, but let me know if you want to come along.

I really want to make Ralf welcome. He’s a fascinating poet, working in three languages, and - not incidentally - a very curious and engaging human.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Peacejam in Leeds - join the laureates!

It's just up the road from Headingley...  and well worth going to!

The online link for registration is . The early bird offer is £55 for the two days for students.