RARA! Dylan Thomas Day and fundraising for PAPYRUS – With Alix Edwards & Dave Daggers






Guest co-host Alix Edwards will be helping us out this month, when RARA celebrates International Dylan Thomas Day 2018 and also raises funds for PAPYRUS, a charity that works with young people to help foster hope for the future and suicide prevention. As always, RARA is a free open mic event and every reader will get a five minute slot to express themselves as they see fit. Engagement with the themes of this particular RARA is welcomed, but not compulsory, because RARA exists for you to to express yourself.

Donating to PAPYRUS is not compulsory, but anything you can spare will be gratefully received and go towards giving vulnerable young people hope for the future




Alix Edwards is a writer, artist, photographer, parent and has also recently created COMPANY OF WORDS, her own open mic spoken word event in Cardiff, after becoming a RARA regular who is delighted to hear what people have to say for themselves from behind a mic, in the form of stories, songs, poems, monologues, anything you write! so come along just to listen, come to sign up for a free slot and read, come along, enjoy!

Self expression, however you do it, is an act of self emancipation, a declaration of intent, actively stating ‘This is me and what I do and who I am. I am here, I exist! Celebrate Dylan Thomas Day with us by reading his words, or your words inspired by his words, or anything you have written that you damn well please, because open mic means your free five minute slot is yours, and RARA will listen to you!


RARA was originally created by poet Julie Pritchard, but for most of its existence has been run, hosted and promoted by the dedicated duo of Dave Daggers and Will Ford. As of April 2018 the team has expanded to include the additional energy, creativity of:

Liz Marsh, Ria Kodosaki and Bryan Marshall


The team is made up of RARA enthusiasts who simply kept showing up to read their own stuff and support other readers because they love it so much!

But why do they love RARA?

RARA gives every reader a five minute slot, whether they have never read their work publicly ever before or they are published old hands at working a crowd.

New voices are especially welcome and some of those reading at RARA for the first time ever have gone on to become regular readers and performers at RARA and several other spoken word events in Cardiff that have arrived in the last few years, including JUKE, COMPANY OF WORDS and the recently birthed MILD EXTRAVAGANZA (look ’em up on Facebook, this blog can’t do everything for you!)

For over three years Dave and Will have mixed things up a little compared to most other open mic nights by inviting any regular attendee to act as guest host or co-host if they please and many have taken on this challenge and most have loved every minute of it. Some have loved it less, admittedly, but they might never have dared to even try if it weren’t for the welcoming and nurturing atmosphere RARA consciously creates, which encourages people to try things they might never dare at other events.

RARA has occasionally dedicated an evening to a particular charity, although this is not a stated aim for RARA. However, RARA is an event that is open to suggestions from attendees, so that in addition to being a place where people can express themselves, it can seek to help a little here and there. If you have read this far, you will already know that the RARA for May will be asking for support for PAPYRUS, although we do not demand that support in order to take part. RARA has always been a free to attend, free to take part event and that is how it will remain for the foreseeable future.

Many RARA attendees have been published, whether traditionally or by more modern routes and RARA is very open to promoting the work of its attendees because at all stages of the path writers are on encouragement and support is still needed and various pamphlets, booklets, full collections, whether poetry or novels have been launched/promoted as part of a book tour at RARA.

We would usually ask people to come along a few times at least before launching something so friends and connections can be made and word can get about that work will be offered for sale, because this helps us to help you get the most out of offering your wares at a long running monthly event where there is no affiliation to a particular publisher, no entry fee, no grants or other outside funding, an event that exists and continues purely because the team and those who attend make it possible.

Many RARA regulars also attend the regular writing workshop ROATH WRITERS and have work featured in the annual anthology of ROATH WRITERS that is a very popular publication filled with writers who may not always be from Roath, but come to write, read, perform in the many events and festivals that take place in the lovely Roath.

RARA is THE most regular reading/performing spoken open mic opportunity in Roath, happening on the second Monday of every single month of the year, culminating in a Special Edition in December (in 2017, with the theme of PIRATE CHRISTMAS)

RARA is here for you to show what you can do, and who you are. How you do it at RARA is up to you, as long as you do it using words, for RARA is about using your words to speak your truth or tell your story, whether it is literally your own tale or the magical weavings of your imagination.

RARA is also here to challenge you to entertain us all, if that is how you use your words. Make us laugh, make us feel what you feel, see the world as you see it, let us into your world at RARA Where you are also invited into the worlds within every reader or performer, for the more of ourselves we can share, the more we become a community, a melting pot of ideas and perspectives, all sharing the same space and all listening to each other, not just waiting for our turn to speak. Applause for you is guaranteed, whether you reveal your heart and soul or attempt to tickle every available funny bone.
As serious or as not so serious as you wish is what RARA invites you to be.




blog by William Dean Ford, who has a WEBSITE

Still reading?


Come to RARA, join us, join Dave Daggers and Alix Edwards, support PAPYRUS if you wish, celebrate May 14 2018 as INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS DAY if you desire, bring your words of whatever kind, if you prefer. We will be happy to see you, and you’ll be glad you came!

R.A.R.A. Returns To The Mackintosh Sports Club, Cardiff…11/01/2016…with pics by Paula Hughes


January came, as it does every year, and brought with it the first 2016


Co-hosted for the second time by…

Fran Smith and Bridget Leggy Tanner!

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Sadly, due to annoying temporary partial deafness I was not there in person, but I was there in spirit, and by all accounts the usual good time was had by all, with a great mix of all that is lyrically profound, emotionally frank and comically bizarre. There were some sadly necessary tributes to David Bowie who passed away the previous day…

If like me, you missed out on this event, you missed missed read, recited, raucously rendered, robustly ranted and some sung performances from…

Fran Smith


Bridget Leggy Tanner


Dave Daggers


Patrick Widdess


John Brookes 


Mark Curtis


Mario Umberto Fiorillo


Bel Blue


Kat (aka Kathryn Davies)


Mark Blayney


Des Mannay


Ellie Powell


Francesca Murphy

12489209_10153925043091095_5967808677645185864_oPaula Hughes


Bryan Marshall


Laz Lazarus


Thanks to everyone who came, very sorry I couldn’t come too, but I will definitely be there on February 8th, so to close this less wordy than usual blog for RARA, just want to say many thanks to our lovely hosts Fran and Bridget, and a big thank you to Paula Hughes for wielding her camera at Rhyme and Real Ale and letting me use her pics in my blogs!



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Kindling the fire (totally NAKED self promotion)



Second Monday, every month…RARA! 


For me, the November RARA was partly about a sweet, yet mild and playful, serving of…REVENGE!!!

More on that later, here is the now regular monthly report from Rhyme and Real Ale, Cardiff’s monthly spoken word and poetry open mic night, words by me, pics by Paula Hughes…

Meet your hosts…


Mark Curtis and Ceri Sian, regular faces and voices at RARA and now the latest in a series of Guest Hosts…


Dave Daggers (co-host with me last month (and main organiser of RARA) introduces Mark and Ceri to the audience and here comes Mark to kick things off…


…With a piece called Almost Late, and highly appropriate, given Mark was himself almost late to the event…Next Mark called up…


Christian Searle, who read a piece he wrote around thoughts about the open mic nights at RARA, which, he explained got more vulgar the more he wrote. Thank you for the sweetly delivered filth in the lines of 147 Candy Floss Trollops, Christian, eye twinkle of yours present and correct as always! Next Mark welcomed a new face to Rara…


Liz read a poem formed from a conversation between her and her daughter, a fraught debate over the sincerity of the daughter’s apology in the context of behaviour related to addiction issues. She followed with a wry confessional piece about her own ‘seven deadly sins’ according to the rules of the slimming program she was rebelling against  🙂 Then Mark invited up…


David Foster-Morgan, who read from his book Masculine Happiness, recently published by Seren. He has a way he checks out the poetry books of other new writers, he reads the title poem, and the first and last pieces. He applied that to giving us a taste of his own book…as ever, David brought wry intelligence and the calm authority of his reading style to RARA…


Then  Eric Ngalle Charles from Cameroon sent out vibes of humanity, partially viewed through sadness at the inhumanity mankind is capable of, a welcome new voice at RARA!


David Hanlon dleivered a delightful piece about domestic trauma caused by the presence of a mouse that moved from revulsion to growing admiration of ‘George’ seeing the furry one develop inthe narrator’s mind from domestic plunderer to a mouse among the greats, such as Danger Mouse, Jerry and Mickey!

Before announcing the first break Mark Curtis read a poem asking us to never let go of our dreams, no matter how long it takes to make them real.

After minutes of toilet breaks, drink purchases and chats…


Ceri Sian assumed host duties and welcomed to the mic…


John Eliot, author of Ssh! This time John read from his work included in Kaleidoscope before momentarily usurping host duties to introduce fellow contributor…


Mario Uberto Fiorillo whose piece Port of Entry evoked the plight of immigrants seeking saftey, some only finding mud and rocks and shipwrecks…After Mario, Ceri called up…


Poet, singer (and photographer for these blogs about RARA) Paula Hughes, who sang two songs, one about her pre-Aspergers diagnosis experience of feeling a sort of loneliness in a world where other people seemed far more organised about their lives than her. Then, in strong soulful and bluesy voice, she sang a song harking back to the childhood of John Coffey (the tragic prisoner on death row portrayed in The Green Mile). In Paula’s song John was a gentle giant of a child to his mother.

Next, Ceri introduced…


Bridget Leggy Tanner who did to contrasting pieces conveying fear. The first from the point of view of a little girl being kidnapped in to slavery, the second more humorously, from the perspective of a narrator suddenly surrounded by cows and a bull!


Dave Daggers, humorist, poet, musician, artist, photographer and world class git unaware of my impending REVENGE for his prank on me during our co-hosting last month… in fun pun mode, Dave lamented his time spent living on Writer’s Block 🙂

Then Ceri welcomed…

Melinda, who read a poem called Phoenix about a sad time in her life when renewal and regeneration were badly needed. Then she explained how she believes in being  good neighbour to all…except a badly behaved neighbour who inspired Crossing Bondaries, a true tale of obnoxiousness and transgressions regarding foliage dividing properties…


Ceri stepped up, readdy to give us  us some of her own words…and this would have been the end of the second section had the need to get public transport made a RARA regular have to ask if he could do his thing before leaving…


Patrick Widdess, poet and podcaster gave us three mini masterpieces, including Legend of Rain, creating a wry and pithy series of literary pictures of a thirsty landscape where little girls are not automatically believed if they say they have seen a raindrop. Then the presenter and producer of Headstand disappeared into the night…


And Ceri closed the second section of the evening  with her considered words, partially reacting to life’s hardships and losses delivered with a sense of sighed resignation that makes the turmoil often within the lines take on a sense of unassuming beauty….

Returning for November RARA  part three, Ceri read again, intensity never far from the surface of her deceptively gentle style, and Mark delivered a lovely poem, The Dawn of Peace, before introducing…


Me! I did one of the pieces I wrote for Fran Smith’s event for Anti-Slavery Day (Customer Care Line For Slave Owners), Then came…REVENGE!!!


Well, to be honest REVENGE is putting it too strongly, I might have been mortified at first by Dave Daggers playfully mocking my Booty Song (and my Ace of Spades shirt) last month but REVENGE isn’t really my style, I opted to do one of Dave’s pieces but as genuinely in spirit as I could, and he had a grin on  his face the whole time at the laughter caused by words he had written 🙂 And some extra gags I added 😉

Partial recording of mild, playful REVENGE as I do my own version of French Love Songs by Dave Daggers

Thanks Bridget Leggy Tanner for filming the REVENGE!!!

After my silliness, the rest of the evening finished strongly with…


Fran Murphy, who has sung very sweetly previously at RARA but this time semi rapped her way through Beautiful Thief, dramatically depicting the grace of the bird and the voracity of the thievery…then a sensually delivered piece that kept it’s secret to the end, that the adventures explored, were those of an everyman character (more precisely and everybook character, testifying to the possibilities for the imagination unlocked by reading).  Then…


Ben Meadon read a piece borne of a prompt at the ever popular ever popular Roath Writers group, the prompt being I Am. Ben’s piece was a personal one, telling of his experience of his own body conspiring against him to make his life difficult…


Bryan Marshall stormed out the words of an anti-war sonnet,  called Please Stop, before dropping into an accent in order to proclaim and celebrate and demand respect for the fine nature of his own Booty!0004

Fran Smith jokingly offered a slightly belated Halloween themed piece, before impressing us all immensely with her percussive use of the letter P in a high speed sonnet with a strong anti war message


Finally, came the last performer of the night, Laz Lazarus, the Prince of Darkness of Cardiif poetry rapped for us and his often vulnerable appearing stage persona revealed to those who hadn’t seen it before a new facet to his normally semi-dreamy, semi bemused by the harshness of loneliness style!


Ceri and Mark then sent us on our way, with thans for being a good audience and we in turn thanked them for being such lovely and warm hosts 🙂 Nice one both, nice one everyone!!!

More RARA, coming like, and just in time for, CHRISTMAS!!

Bring yourself, and your words, Christmas themed or not, Come all ye Faithfull, Come all ye Faithless, Come to read, Come to listen, Come to RARA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL at the Mackintosh Sports Club, Monday December 14th, 7.30pm


Patrick Widdess, poet, performer and podcaster, in his usual warm and welcoming way, interviews Christina Thatcher, the latest guest on Headstand to freely talk of how and why they write and the value of the creative process…listen here 

Creativity as a light in the darkness for processing troubling personal experiences is a prominent driving force for American-born Christina, both in her own writing and in the many inspiring poetry workshops she leads and groups she facilitates. In self exploration, strength can be found. The very heart of her work can be expressed in three simple words: write to empower.

However, all kinds of creativity with words, from the sublime to the ridiculous, stories, monologues, experiments of the most surreal kind and more are experienced by Christina with the delighted smile of someone truly thankful for her own creativity and desire to draw the very best out everyone who wishes to pick up a pen (and also those who have never even considered doing so yet).

Whether as a writer, event organiser, performer, tutor, workshop facilitator or simply as a reader or listener, Christina Thatcher seeks to engage with people and creativity on all levels and her sheer enthusiasm for embracing all aspects of light and dark in creativity makes others feel brave enough to believe they could follow her example!


Tune in, and enjoy! And then why not take a look at the rest of what you will find in the series of blogs produced and presented for Headstand by Patrick Widdess?

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Once again Rhyme and Real Ale Returned to the Mackintosh Sports Club to fill the air with poetic syllables of spoken word and song. As usual, the eclectic nature of the performances and words brought the funny, the sad, the moving, the thoughtful, the daring and the delightful but it was an extra special night because of…this….


Three years ago Christina Thatcher formed Roath Writers to offer a creative and contemplative space for writers of all levels of experience to meet and inspire each other. Many R.A.R.A regulars have been sparked in new creative directions by Roath Writers and some even feature in the third anniversary anthology, To the Pub and Back Again, edited by Christina (supported in this process by Rebecca Roy and Renn Hubbuck). Cover image by the multi-skilled performer and artist Simon L. Read.

The September R.A.R.A ended up being both what it always is (a night where anybody can share their words with a welcoming audience) and a night to celebrate creativity itself! In book form!

Thanks to the photographic skills of Paula Hughes, here is a pictorial record of the night!

Co-hosting with Christina Thatcher, Dave Daggers gets the ball rolling and the smiles smiling

The effervescent co-host Dave Daggers setting the ball (and smiles) rolling as the humble as ever Christina Thatcher looks on…


Author of Ssh! John Eliot, immune to the common fear of being first up, being first up!


Seemingly slightly overwhelmed by the goodwill in the room, Christina thanks everybody for coming, both those in the anthology and those not, who have come to share their words, before she and Daggers share the duties of introducing…


The ever growing confidence behind the mic of Vincent Thomas, delivering his contributions to To The Pub and Back Again…


Angela Lester, offering a striking extract from a short story…


Bryan Marshall, always softly spoken but keen observations and biting words…


Bridget Leggy Tanner, ever alive to the fun to be found in rhyme…


Sean Wolfendale, unfazed by being photographed from both sides at once, giving the night a piece of his mind from the anthology…


Jill Berrett, genteel strength in her words so often needed in her life…Not reading directly from the book being launched, but most definitely to be found between its pages…


During the first break, punters and poets shoot the breeze. Luckily it doesn’t shoot back…



Christina Thatcher and Simon L. Read plot world domination, cpatured by Paula Hughes (they may not have been plotting world domination, it may have been just a nice chat, but who can tell from a photograph, eh?)


After the break, the night resumes with a lovely new song from The Talented Bel Blue, always a ray of heartfelt sunshine at R.A.R.A


Mark Curtis, once again going places both deeply personal and highly playful…


Fran Murphy, who despite feeling some nerves at the start of the night burst forth with a flawlessly delivered acapella version of one of her songs included in the anthology. She is not new to the mic by any means but was very pleased to declare herself no longer a R.A.R.A virgin!


David Hanlon, adding his presence and performance to an already pretty pleasing promenade of penmanship put before the public…


Not only new to R.A.R.A but also to Cardiff, via Manchester, Jaquee Rob recited and sang powerfully during her slot, making a great impression on the evening…


Christian Searle, returning once again to R.A.R.A with playful wit and intellectual gymnastics for the Mackintosh Bar clientele…


Poet and podcaster Patrick Widdess warmly serving up his contribution to the anthology being launched. If you have the chance, Google Headstand Radio to find his series of poetry and music themed podcasts…

Simon L. Read, anthology cover artist, slightly more serious than usual in his performance with his word based contribution to To the Pub and Back Again…a unique and unusual collection of talents in the head above those shoulders…


Post second break, Dave Daggers was another being slightly more serious than normal in performance, delivering a poetic plea for a future in which the refugee crisis (currently so spoken of, often unkindly) will be history…


Will Ford (me) opting not to read Slushy The Snowman from the anthology (too long, too Christmassy) and instead introducing T.O.B.E.V.O.L (Technology Offering Bliss, Every Viable Option Loaded) and being very pleased with how it went down…


Johnny Giles, a heart on the sleeve of poetry, prolific and powerful…


Gordon Anderson, taking a moment to promote a National Poetry Day event he is organising at Cardiff Central Library…


Before sharing words including a sad and haunting piece quite unlike what might be expected if you only happened to know Gordon’s writing from overtly humorous pieces like BananaGuard


The legend that is Mab Jones, teasing her way around, then taking a firm grip on the hard topic of her poem…


The more photogenic than he seems to believe Steven Kenward slightly (but unjustifiably) bashfully shares his To The Pub and Back Again words…


Frank Thomas, finishing off the readings with a sigh of a poem, slightly lamenting the lapsing of youthful dreams of bigger things in life but certainly not lamenting the finding of love and contentment that for so many, is the biggest dream of all…


Who’s that with Christian? T’is Paula Hughes, kind supplier of pics for this blog, and massive Back To the Future Fan!!! Someone tell her that’s not Doc Brown! (Kidding, Paula!)

This next pic is by co-host for the night Dave Daggers, thanks to him for his efforts to keep all things R.A.R.A on the road and rolling along nicely…Words from Dave and from many others so far unmentioned can be found in To the Pub and Back Again…


Thanks Christina, Dave, Simon, everybody else who came, saw and (I hope) concurred it was a lovely and warm atmosphere for all who gave their time and creativity. More R.A.R.A next month. Thank you for reading this, and before you go…a reprise of the opening pic (by me) with some added words!


To the Pub and Back Again will be available soon on KINDLE



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