My oh my what a year it's been, it's time to look back and give gratitude to the Universe for an amazing time. I will state that there has been A LOT happened and I might miss one or two things off here, please forgive me if I do.
Cast your minds ALL the way back to February of this year. There was some snow, Valentines Day and my first Lit Fest appearance of the year at Huddersfield Lit Fest. We saw the wonderful 10x10 Poetry night (that became 5x5 due to said snow) that was organised by Rose Condo. No miserable February was going to stop us!
March started with the continuation of the Lit Fest, where I ran a writing and performance workshop. The group that attended we're amazing and each person shone with their respective poems and performances, it was an honour to facilitate them. From there, I had the absolute honour of supporting Sabrina Benaim at The Wardrobe in Leeds. There was magic in the air that night and Sabrina is one of the loveliest people to work with. Her collection 'Depression And Other Magic Tricks' is filled with honesty and warmth, a genuine top read!
April, oh April! After months of plotting, scheming and photoshoots, my debut collection Sending A Drunk Text Whilst Sober was realised and released out into the world through the amazing Plastic Brain Press (Hey Guys!) even as I write this blog, the sheer joy and buzz haven't worn off. I am forever grateful to Richard and Mel for all the love and support that they have given me through the entire experience. The Licoln launch night was filled with laughter, love, some tears before rounding off with well earned drinks around the city. A week or so later, we had a repeat performance in my hometown of Wakefield. Again, I want to thank everyone that came to both of these nights as well as Geneveive, Rob and Steve who kicked off the Wakefield launch with such vigour! But April didn't end just there, it was rounded off with Leeds Lieder 2018. This was a different animal to what I'm normally used to and I would recommend it to any fellow poets looking to do something different. I worked with a brilliant composer (Graeme Law), we clicked straight away at the selection day and completely seized the opportunity to create something unique for the day.
June was another big one. Again, after months of secret meetings it was surreal to announce the commission for Long Division Festival, To be given free-reign in curating a dedicated poetry stage for the festival was an honour. A huge thanks to Dean and the team at Long Division for all of their help and support, thanks to Richard Wheater for allowing the use of Neon Workshops and a massive thank you to Laura Taylor, Miggy Angel, Genevieve Walsh, Kieren King, Gemma Baker, Richard Daniels, Mel Clark, Sharena Lee Satti, Rose Condo and Jamie Thrasivoulou for absolutely ripping the stage a new one on that beautiful day. Also SADTWS ended up in the hands of a young upstart named Billy Bragg...great guy...
As the heatwave continued, there was one point that really stood out for me in July. The Wakefield Stand Up To Racism group organised an Anti-Racism rally as it came to light that the NF were going to attempt a march in our city. It was a nerve-racking but rewarding moment to read out The Ivory Clad Towers (a commissioned poem for The Great Gig Together) in front of a crowd of Men, Women and Children who stood by each other to say ''Not in this city''.
October saw another curated stage, this time for Oxjam. Again thank you to all the performers for giving up their time for a great cause and to all the volunteers and the public for making the day so fulfilling. From there, the month was rounded off with another poetry workshop at Roundhay & Oakwood Festival. As with the HLF, the participants shone so brightly with their words and performances through the facilitation!
Finally, December was just rounded off by The Bleeding Obvious' Xmas Show. It was an honour to share the stage with some amazing performances from amazing friends!
I will say as well, there is massive love for my Truth Be Told family and I'm incredibly proud of everything we achieved through this year with everyone's hard work. We bloody did it! Thank you to everyone that came to the nights and to the workshops, we couldn't do it without you!
In addition, I want to thank all the hosts & organisers of all the poetry nights that have given me the chance to bring SADTWS to their towns and cities throughout 2018, it's meant an incredible deal to me and I'm grateful for the path that I'm walking.
So where is 2019 going you ask? well first of all, I'll be heading to a special night over in Salford for Greater Manchester Fringe. I've recently made the shortlisting to develop my debut spoken word show, if I'm successful in passing this next round then you'll be seeing the debut at GMF this coming Summer. There's several appearances to announce over the coming weeks for Spring and Summer so keep your eyes peeled on here and my social media pages (everything is @SimonWiddopPoet if you aren't following me already)
Now, this is me signing off until the New Year. Wishing love and cheer to each and every one of you that continue to follow me on this journey! Stay safe, stay sane and have a good one!
Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year