National Poetry Day, or was it Week?

My Writing Life

Well, it’s certainly been a week for poets and poetry lovers. My week has been one of lots of different and exciting poetry experiences.

First there are three programmes available on Radio 4 Listen Again from last Thursday 8th October which was National Poetry Day(NPD). These were Woman’s Hour, Ramblings and We British: hopeful romantics. Lots of poetry and good discussion to enjoy and share.

I’m having to listen again to all of the above as on Thursday I was in Edinburgh for a very special occasion, the highlight of this week. Well, actually I must admit I picked Thursday to go and visit a friend without realising it was NPD. My friend is a film maker and had recently filmed an exhibition called A Poet, a Potter and a Painter at the Edinburgh festival. This exhibition featured the poetry of Elizabeth Burns who lived in Lancaster and was at the heart of our poetry community here, sharing her poetry at readings and her skills as a teacher in poetry workshops and groups. Sadly, Elizabeth died in August and never got to see the exhibition.

In celebration of NPD the Scottish Poetry Library chose poems written by five Scottish poets and put them online asking the public to vote for which one should be put on a huge banner on a building in Canongate on NPD. One of Elizabeth’s poems, Spiral, was selected and won the competition. My friend was filming the opening on NPD and she and I went to see the banner after lunch. The poem was read by the Edinburgh Makar, Christine de Luca, and members of Elizabeth’s family were present.

Either side of this event, other poetry highlights for me were the weekly meeting of my writing group on Wednesday night, only three of us this week but, as ever a nourishing and enjoyable occasion, and on Thursday the meeting of local Stanza Group here at Lancaster Library, which takes place on the second Thursday of each month. I am not surprised that I haven’t had a lot of time to actually write anything.

Reading Week

However, on the train to Edinburgh I settled down to read Arguing with Malarchy, a collection of poems by Carola Luther, published by Carcenet in 2011. I met Carola as she led a residential workshop with Kim Moore at Abbot Hall last April and I very much enjoyed the experience of working with her then. Her poetry demands and rewards careful study and slow reading. So, I am going through it very slowly, and so far particularly like the poems Vernal and The Lamb.

Hare in the Headlights

A very big Headlights moment this week as on Tuesday morning I set off at the crack to drive to Ambleside to give my first workshop for Learning Plus. It’s always nerve wracking gong into a new teaching or facilitating situation, but the workshop went well and I found that after about half an hour I really enjoyed it. I really love teaching creative writing and I hope this is going to be a great experience.

So off to prepare the next one now, till next time!

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