Monthly Archives: June 2017

A week is a long time in poetry

My writing life

It already seems an age ago. The Second Kendal Poetry Festival has been and gone and yet it was only the weekend before last. However it has not faded in my memory, far from it, indeed it has already had an effect on my writing.

Others have blogged and reported on it and all its splendours and here I would like to highlight what were the best bits for me of a splendid feast of poetry and fun. The Friday night main reading was Hannah Lowe and Billy Letford. Not only was the work of each poet stunning, they also worked together in lots of ways, an inspired combination.

What characterised both readings was the commitment of each poet to their subject matter and a sense of compulsion which drove them to explore it. Alongside this sense of passionate involvement was the sheer virtuoso skill of their use of language. Wow!

Hannah Lowe read mostly from her recent collection Chen and I particularly loved the poems which mentioned her Nan, a person of great character whom I now feel I have met.

I first met Billy Letford at Kim Moore’s Poetry Carousel last year and enjoyed working with him. His poetry, most of it recited by heart, has an admirable intensity and I love his poem The Interview especially the first and last lines. (No I’m not going to quote them; they only work in the context of the whole poem.)

The other highlight for me was Kathryn Naomi’s wonderful workshop on writing long poems. Like many others present at the workshop I was hesitant about writing more than say, forty lines. She suggested it might be from a feeling that others might think I was ‘going on too long.’ This really struck a chord. I went on to try writing, or rather start writing, three long poems in the workshop. One of these was about my brother who died a few years ago, and this one I worked on and read to my writing group last week. I am still thinking about the other two and will get to them in due course

Last Friday 23rd of June was another important day in my writing life as it was on that evening that here in Lancaster we celebrated the life and work of the late Elizabeth Burns at an event entitled Elizabeth Burns: legacies

Alan Rice, Elizabeth’s widower had asked me a couple of months ago to help him organise this event and it was a pleasure to do so.

The evening included readings from a range of Elizabeth’s work, the showing of the film Painter, Potter, Poet a record of her collaboration with Paul Tebble and Ann Gilchrist in Edinburgh just before her death in 2015. The beautiful film was shot and directed by my friend Sitar Rose. Part of the evening was devoted to readings and tributes from member of the various groups that Elizabeth ran and was part of, here in Lancaster. It was a chance for us as her fellow writers to acknowledge her great influence, contribution and inspiration.

 Reading week

Well if you look at the above you will realise that I have not had a lot of time for serious reading just lately… excuses for reading more detective stories!   I have however, just read the article in the current Mslexia about how to write popular best sellers….  worth a look.

Hare in the Headlights

Coming up; submissions to magazines and may be to a pamphlet publisher and the workshop at Ambleside library next Saturday 8th July  10 to 3 entitled Journeys. There are a couple of spare places if you are interested email me soon at