What’s coming up in winter! Part 1

We’ve got a fun year coming for Big Up Words. We’ll need you to come and play of course. First thing is

National Novel Writing Month

Nanowrimo sheild

Some of you may have heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but for those of you that haven’t, here’s the low down. NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing! Writers begin on November 1st and work towards the incredible goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by 11.59pm on November 30th.

The Hampshire Scriber’s writing sessions are all on Saturdays in Andover Library from 14:00 – 15:30 and each has a unique theme:

  • October 17thPlanning or Pantsing what will I write about?
  • October 24th – How to attend the Night of Writing Dangerously
  • October 31st – Official NaNoWriMo Kick Off Party! (Halloween themed!)
  • November 7th – Blanket Fort Building
  • November 14th – Steampunk/Fantasy themed afternoon
  • November 21st – #Writefit
  • November 28th – Teddy Bear Picnic
  • December 5th – Thank God We Made It (TGWMI) Party! (Crowns and stars theme!)

All ages are welcome! Beth Hanson is now Hamshire’s ML. Our job is to prove we’ve got enough keen novelist to create Hampshire as its own part of the Nanowrimo verse. So Big Up Words will be helping Beth run fun FREE workshops in Andover library over from October 17th until December 5th. We’ll also be fundraising, our goal is £1,500 via sponsored writers and business sponsorship.

How can you help? Grab a sponsor and write a novel, help us fund raise or come along and help us help the novelist reach their goals.

See you all in October!


Vote for the Andover Poetry Cafe

Yes its definitely back and we will definitely have a years worth of dates BUT which weekend do you want? 1st weekend of the month or the 2nd? We thought we could arrange our schedule around what you want.

If you pick the first weekend, that means next January the first cafe will be at the end of the Christmas period. If you pick the 2nd weekend, then any poet who comes from out of town will be able to come to our cafe on the Saturday and go to Romsey Teapoets on the Sunday. Decisions, decisions. Leave your vote in the comments section, or our Facebook page and we will announce the dates on October 2nd at our National Poetry Day open mic.

Vote 1) for 1st week and 2) for 2nd week. Choose wisely.

5 performance tips to help improve your reading.

A poetry reading is a great honour and it can scare you silly if it’s your first one. I spend a lot of time talking to professional poets like Peter Hunter from 451, Angela Chicken and JnZ Hart collecting tips on stage performance. Here are 5 to help you to make your poems ‘zing’

1) Time your sets, including the links.
If your set is only 10 minutes, then make sure it runs to 10 minutes. I make mine run under because I lost a slam by 2 mins and was told I would have won.What pushed me over the time limit was the introduction so time your links as well.  I work by the rule leave the audience wanting more.

2) Practice your sets
Practise, practise, practise so you are comfortable with the work and you know what you sound like on stage. If there is a mic, practice using a mic, will you hold it, leave it in the stand, do without it if the audience space is intimate enough.
3) Have a mix of tones, length and styles.
If someone kept reading the same style of poem to you for more than 2 mins you’d get bored pretty quickly. Make a list of your poems, their subjects and how strong you think they are and collate from there.
4) Only your best.
I keep my sets in Evernote and after the gig I give them a rating. That way if I get caught on the hop, I can pull out a set I know will please the audience. Poems that are shortlisted, poems you fans like or get good feed back after an open mic.

Cat isn't holding anything but you can see her searching for the audience

Cat isn’t holding anything but you can see her searching for the audience

5) Make eye contact
Have your poems to hand in a way that you can make eye contact as much as possible. Look at these three pictures. Songil is smiling and although she’s holding a folder we know she’s looking at us.

Songil Bekir looking at her audience

Songil Bekir looking at her audience

Graeme has a big folder but he is still looking at you

Graeme has a big folder but he is still looking at you


Graeme has a huge folder but we know he’s looking for us and Cat Randle doesn’t hold anything. Her face isn’t smiling and we suspect Songils smile draws you in.  At Not The Winchester Poetry Fringe, I saw Rob Casey with a tiny folder, reading but still interacting with his audience.

Bonus extra Last tip: Practise at open mics! If you are in Hampshire check out the poetry calendar for all the events you can find and go test your material out as much as you can.

The lamps go out tonight and Duncan’s dreams is sold out.

Wow an amazing night at What World War 1 means to us. Thank you to Craig, Ron and Dave for giving us a impromtu history lesson about Andover Centaph. Bobbie was wonderful, Dan verbally dazzling, Ivor took us to the Somme, Roy took us to a world where it was World War 1 was an attraction 100 years on. Cat took us from Flanders Fields to Andover. Anzac biscuits were eaten, tea drunk and “we remembered them,” in that way only Andover can do.

TONIGHT When the lamps went out, 4 readers read, 25 poems from 25 poets poems about World War 1. The readers include John Sceluna, Roy Chatfield, Marion Chatfield,Bryn Strudwick and Cat Randle. We had our rehearsal and it was powerful. We’ve got the tea and Anzac biscuits ready! We’ve still got seats so pop in at 7 for a 7.30 start. Here is a video of Bryn in his one act show.

Duncan’s Dreams is now sold out! Roy has some reserve seating so email him on
E-mail roychatfield@googlemail.com 

Our last great poetry competition

It’s less than 7 days until our poetry competition closes. One lucky poet is going to win a publishing deal from PNS for 50 books. An luck Andoverian poet is going to win 10 pounds (as in physical pounds not pounds, shilling and pence) worth of books. And they will all be announced at our open mic Celebration of National Poetry day. Then it will be an end of an era.

Don’t leave it too late because that lucky poet could be you. You can enter online here or grab an entry form from the RAW stall. Remember the theme is food in honour of the work Andover Food bank does.

Yes you did read the title, we’ve decided that this is our last poetry competition. So what will we replace it with? That my friends is up to you.

Poetry Competition

Don’t forget, the theme for the Big Up Words 2014 poetry competition is FOOD and the first prize is a slim volume of the winners’ own poems to be produced by PNS Publishing. Now that summer is here, get writing, poets! The competition closes for entries on 31st August.
More information here:

Camp Nanowrimo or write a novel in a month

It’s STILL not too late to join up Camp Nanowrimo. The Office of Letters and Light are an American organisation who teach young people to write. They also run camps through out the year where writers gather electronically from all over the world and attempt to write a novel in a month. I’ve done a few of them now and I’ve found they are great for keeping focused. By joining in I actually have a novel I was able to pitch to two publishers at The Winchester Writers Festival. Now I’m joining in again so I can edit said novel and send it back again. I particularly like the stats that show you how many words you need to write in a month. It forms the good habit of writing every day and is almost as addictive as writing blog posts. So follow the link and get writing!

Poetry Competition 2014

We are now accepting entries for our 2014 poetry competition.

This year’s theme is FOOD. Maximum length 40 lines.

Our final judges will be Alwyn Marriage, Paul Owens and Matt West. We hope to have a Big prize: a printed volume of the winner’s own poetry.

Entry costs £3 per poem. Reduced fee of £2 per poem if you live in Test Valley borough. Big Up Words members pay for the first poem only and can enter more poems free.

The closing date for entries is 31st August 2014.

To enter please send an email to info@bigupwords.co.uk requesting an application form (or click the Contact Us button on this page).