Monthly Archives: June 2020

The strangest solstice I remember

June 20th 2020

With the weather gone wild, wet and windy,  here in the North of England at least, and the world still in fearful lock down, this is not the usual celebratory relaxed time that we get for summer Solstice; long quiet evenings in the garden and trips to see the sun set over Morecambe Bay.

However My Writing Life remains eventful, nonetheless.

Last week Mike Barlow of Wayleave Press showcased my 2019 Pamphlet Testimony in his Editor’s Blog. He highlights two of the poems about homelessness.  In these times of  impending  economic disaster, they are, as he says, a timely reminder of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Here’s the link

Last Thursday week, June the 11th I attended a Zoom poetry launch for Katrina Naomi’s new collection, Wild Persistence. It was lovely to see her and hear her read and I realised how much I miss poetry readings. More of the collection later, but it was astonishing to see 117 people on a zoom, 5 pages!   You would never get that number for a poetry reading. I could not have gone for real as she lives in Penzance and it would have been too expensive. So maybe zoom poetry readings will continue, who knows? It was great to see a couple of familiar faces in the crowd, from Katrina’s poetry course at Ty Newdd last year.

My poetry writing continues steadily, disciplined by the weekly zoom with the writing group, which is very sustaining.  The work is perhaps still a bit obsessive about the pandemic and other current politic events.  At present we are five in the group, three writing poetry and two writing memoirs, and we meet on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. for about an hour and a half, which includes a good chat and catch up at the beginning. This means that from Sunday onward my mind is starting to battle with a new idea, or indeed to find one, and get something together to send round for others to read before the group.

Next week I am starting to send poems out to magazines, something I have not done for ages and using Jo Bell’s model to do this. My next blog of weeks’ time in a couple will be about how I get on. ( Bell’s book How to be a Poet, referenced in the previous blog)

My Reading Life

I have had two new collections to read, Katrina’s collection Wild Persistence published by Seren a couple of weeks ago and Jennifer Copley’s What Happens to Girls, published by Pindrop. I have given each collection a quick read to get the feel and I will comment on them in detail next time when I have had a chance to look at them again. Otherwise the usual enjoyable fiction and a start made on AC Grayling’s Democracy in Crisis; not exactly cheering, but informative.

Hare in the Headlights

A big one this week; my first poetry reading on U tube; I read four poems from testimony and was more nervous than I remember being for long time! Not since my performing days long, long ago.

Here’s the Link

I have already had 52 watches at the time of writing, very exciting! Enjoy them and watch out for the next one in July.

Till soon.

Picnic at Glasson Dock

Not a remake of the spooky Australian film, (1975), but it feels so long since I wrote a blog that  I am hoping  the catchy title intrigues you enough to lure you back to reading my blog again.

The  title also refers to our lock down break out, ( don’t worry just the two of us from the same household), to picnic at Glasson Dock a beautiful little place near home where we sat  in deck chairs by  canal basin and marina  and watch the world, such as it was, go by.  I won’t tell you what facilities were open as that might lead to a rush next weekend. And to think we used to go to Spain!

So is this blog going to be about a change of perspective brought about by the virus? Not really, except that I have enjoyed the peace and quiet while worrying about all the other people who live in cities, have lost their livelihoods, or their families and friends. I feel an enormous sense of privilege at having got away so comparatively lightly compared with others who have been through so much.

However in all this I have written and My writing life has flourished. This is largely because my writing group has been zooming every Wednesday afternoon and as a consequence I have been regularly writing poems. So far I have six done about the virus/lock down experience, probably enough.

However to catch up properly I need to go back to October 26th 2019   That is the date of my last blog and since then much has happened. In December 2019 I went to the poetry carousel in Rydal. It was great and I particularly enjoyed the workshop with David Tait.  The new venue, Rydal Hall, is very good. Nice food comfortable rooms and close to Ambleside for a trip to the shops (it rained all the time.)

There was a Brewery Poets workshop in January which I attended, but since then no poetry for real, only online. Sadly, the Kendal Poetry Festival 2020 was  cancelled/postponed  but I have kept my ticket for when it happens, although no one knows when that will be. The arts have suffered so badly in all this that we can only hope that they will recover and before too long.

In mid-February I took a sabbatical from my work with refugees and for a month focused on my writing and putting together a pamphlet/ collection for competition entry. I didn’t win and I didn’t expect to, but it gave me the chance to create a deadline to work to, and to think about structuring a collection. A selection of these poems will now go out to magazines over the next few months in the hope of publication. I will keep you posted.

Then just after I finished my sabbatical the lock down came on March 23rd. The refugee work moved online and on the phone and the spring came as well. So the lock down time has been divided between refugees, writing and the garden/ allotment which last is flourishing in the current lovely weather. It feels normal being at home or gardening but ‘out there’ is eerie and unnerving I find.

My reading life Has also been enhanced; lots of light reading of course to take my mind off what’s happening.  I have also found How to be a Poet  by Jo Bell and Jane Commane, ( Nine Arches Press 2017) an excellent book and that in turn led me to the poetry of Joelle Taylor and her  collection Songs my Enemies Taught Me. (Outspoken Press 2017). I am only sorry I never came across it before as it a truly inspirational book for a political poet like me.

Hare in the Headlights

My project at the moment could be called ‘get yourself out there’ and I am taking a two pronged approach. As mentioned above, I am developing a strategy for sending poems to magazines over the next few months.  That is scary enough, but even more so is the prospect of going on U tube to read my poems. We have acquired a video camera during the lock down and I am going to record three poems from my 2019 pamphlet, Testimony, over the next couple of weeks.

Watch this space.