This is one of those very very very sad days that I wish unfolded differently.
Geoff Stevens and I collaborated in several ways over the last 8 years. A fine award-winning and widely published poet, as publisher and editor of Sentinel Poetry Quarterly, I had the honour of publishing his work. I felt honoured that this respected editor of Purple Patch magazine deemed me worthy to judge his own work.
In the following years we worked in different ways. I liked him as a good judge of poetry and in 2009 I appointed him judge of the Diversity House Poetry Competition, the first ever competition run by Excel for Charity – the international writing competitions series that raises funds for charities through writing competitions. Geoff did a brilliant job of it, and his selection of the best work from that competition resulted in Blue Hyacinths – the first anthology of poems published by Eastern Light Publishers in 2010 which we co-edited.
and Nnorom Azuonye
He further judged other competitions that I asked him to, including the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition, until his last judging gig, the Swale Life International Poetry Competition (November 2011). I did not hear from him much after that, and I had no idea he had cancer. He never mentioned it.
Today, the 23rd of March 2012 I came to a decision to ask him one more time to judge a competition for me but his phone was dead. I tried a few more times, and the phone was still dead. I sent him an email, but decided to follow it up with a phone call, so I went to the Purple Patch website and learnt to my horror that Geoff died on the 2nd of February, at the age of 69.
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and Ivor Hartmann
I have been numb since. How come I did not learn of his death? And to think his funeral had already been held on the 17th of February! Damn. Here today, gone tomorrow.
I am grateful to God for the privilege of having known Geoff and the pleasure of working with him, May God grant his family the strength to bear this great loss.
- Nnorom Azuonye
There will be a celebration of Geoff’s life on the 26th of May. Here are the details:
Celebrating Geoff Stevens
The Barlow Theatre, Langley, West Midlands
Saturday May 26, 2012 - 9.30am to 10.00pm
Everyone is welcome to come and spend a day reading poems, chatting, eating and drinking to celebrate Geoff’s life and work and to enjoy each other’s company as Geoff would have wanted.
There will be two open mic sessions, morning and evening, for people to read their own work and the afternoon will be a chance for whoever wants to, to read a favourite poem of Geoff’s. Or you may just want to come and listen. Programme details below.
There will also be a meeting between 5.00 and 6.00 for anyone who would like to discuss how Geoff’s work and reputation could be preserved and developed in future projects. (If you can’t come on May 26, please email your ideas to Geraldine at the address below and she’ll bring them up for discussion.)
There is no charge for the day thanks to the generosity of the Barlow Theatre but there will be a collection for St. Mary’s Hospice where Geoff spent his last few days and for Acorns Children’s Hospices.
Within a few steps there are plenty of places to get food. The Teapot Cafe opens at 7.00 am and closes at 12.00 am and is a great place to get your bacon butties or whatever and bring them across to the Barlow to have with your coffee. There are two pubs within a very short walk, The Model and Crosswell’s Inn, and a short drive away the Wetherspoons Court of Requests where we had the Wake for Geoff. There’s also fish and chips, Chinese and Indian take-aways and Asian food restaurants within yards of the theatre.
Parking is very close to the theatre and the bar, where we’ll meet, has easy access for wheel- chairs.
There will be tables in the foyer for those who want to sell books.
Come and enjoy!
Please confirm that you are coming by emailing Geraldine: firstname.lastname@example.org
Programme for the Day
9.30-10.00 Arrivals - coffee available
10.00-10.05 Welcome by Geraldine
10.05-12.30 Open mic readings (5-10 minute slots)
12.30-12.45 So It Goes - music Lunch
2.00-4.45 Geoff's poems and anecdotes Break
5.00-6.00 Meeting re promoting Geoff's work and reputation in the future.
7.00-10.00 Open mic sessions Bar open all day!
Any queries, please email Geraldine:- email@example.com
To find out about the theatre: www.oldburyrep.org
Farewell Geoff. You will be missed.