Roche Valley Radio

What a great session on Roche Valley Radio yesterday. Arriving at Fairfield Hospital I was a touch apprehensive, unsure what I might be asked and even unsure of the exact format of the programme but ready with information to hand about recent projects and of course a wide choice of poems to read. You can listen again at Roche Valley Radio

Picture of Seamus with presenter Nicky

Pictured after the show at Roche Valley Radio

I was met at the entrance by the, also slightly apprehensive presenter, Nicky Smith-Butler. Nicky normally presents a music show and not the Saturday afternoon show with guests as well as the music so was a little unsure about how the programme would go. She and Dave one of the technical and production specialists on the station showed me the studio, helped sort out the connections, microphone position and explain the system. Basically all I needed to do was to speak fairly close to the microphone and not worry.

By now there were a few minutes before the show went live on air to have a quick chat about what might be discussed and then the opening song was rolling towards its end and after a brief introduction I was talking about the “Stories we could tell project” (see blog post of 14th April). Some more music, more discussion on the project, some more music and a poem – a new poem not yet published or on-line called “Come on hat”.

Through tears from the poem’s ending Nicky asked me about Touchstones creative writing group and then played more music picking some of my favourites from Springsteen and Dylan and a few Irish songs from Van Morrison and The Corrs which seemed in keeping with the feel of the show and my obvious Irish heritage.

A discussion about how I made the move to working as a poet and a few more poems (Standby, Seahorses and Different Dad; all blogged here previously and available in Thinking Too Much) and the hour was up.

There had been laughter, tears and some pause for thought and that reminds me just why I do this stuff; poetry can give words that bit more power, it can speak beyond its brief reading and it can speak individually to each person listening – thats why I have to be a poet.


The Stories We Could Tell – amazing Rochdale project!

I’ve been the resident poet on a amazing Rochdale project “The Stories We Could Tell”

Working alongside artist, John Cooke, singer-songwriter Rebecca Whitehead and storyteller Ray Stearn and led by Steve Cooke. We’ve been working with young people, a mix of asylum seekers, young people in care and young people with mental health issues using our whole range of skills to help them tell their own stories (real or fictional) and the results so far are awesome. Not only have these young people learned techniques, picked up ideas and developed them and created songs, poems, prose, storyboards, visuals and audio recordings but they have gained so much in confidence and community.

And we, the professionals working with them, have been privileged to share this journey with them, we’ve had our eyes opened, our minds staggered and we’ve had our creativity and our communications stretched. I’m genuinely so proud of the young people, the supporting adults, Colin from the venue Bar Vibe and my fellow artists.

I’m looking forward to the final showcase event in May and will report it here.

Exciting (read “Busy”) times for 2016

Over the first few months of 2016 Shay the Poet has been busier than ever and things show no sign of letting up – which is exactly as I wanted it to be. Details of the various projects and events will appear here shortly but in summary they’ve included:Print

  • The Stories We Could Tell Project
  • Two workshops booked for Touchstones Creative Writing Group
  • Booked for the celebratory return of Weaving Words when Rochdale Central Library reopens after the flood damage earlier in the year
  • National Poetry Day bookings for a High School and for Oldham Library
  • Several new workshops developed
  • A booking to perform for the second year at Eroica Britannia in Bakewell, the countries number one festival of all thing cycling and all things vintage
  • A series of public workshops in Uppermill
  • I’ve released my book “Thinking Too Much” on Kindle and have ordered a second print run of the paper version
  • I’ll be appearing (that surely can’t be the correct word) on Roche Valley Radio this weekend

There are lots of other really exciting projects in development and I’m still finding time to fit in some teaching in schools and colleges and particularly enjoying my freelance teaching with a special needs school in Stockport.

And of course my photography projects and classes are still developing – visit my website at for more details.

Keep checking back or watch my social media for more….


Lemn Sissay – Poetry workshop in York

Finding that Lemn Sissay was leading a workshop in York provided the perfect incentive to head for a day out in the rich Viking, Roman and Tudor city; sights, shops, poetry and of course Betty’s Tea Room to finish the day.

cat on the Shambles

After a trip down The Shambles, where for some
reason I had not previously
spotted the pictured cat, a jumble sale browse a few shops and a light lunch and off to the Unitarian Church; the venue for Lemn’s workshop. A combination of Google maps and spotting the man himself outside the church and we soon joined the group of waiting writers in the vestibule.

It wouldn’t be right to share the content of the Workshop but Lemn was a lovely host and facilitator and he soon had the whole group feeling at ease and before long we were all writing whilst listening to his unique style of tales, inspiration and tips. The work involved a simple rhyme scheme and with this in mind Lemn offered to be our rhyming dictionary for the session; not only does he have a massive wealth of rhymes and understanding of how words sound together but this also led to a fair deal of enjoyable and informative discussion.

What I can share is a little bit about what I gained from the session:

  • A new poem – see picture below; I had the start of it on the day and 8 or so revisions later I have now read it publicly to a good reception.
  • A new project – I had already written a small number of poems on a theme and had become a bit unsure about adding to them. After the workshop I am now clear that I will continue to add to that project and have since written another piece of what might form the basis of a small collection.
  • A great day out with my wife Maggie with lots of chance to talk about those things we are passionate about.
  • The chance to meet and talk to one of my poetic heroes Lemn Sissay
  • More coals have been added to the fire that drove me to move from doing a bit of writing to being a poet and making my living from my creative work.

Here’s a picture of the work in earlier stages of progress before the final edits were done on my computer (Yes, I know you can’t read the words but it isn’t published yet).

Come on Hat poem