It’s necessary to talk about trees.

In case you are wondering the title is a quotation from Adrienne Rich’s poem  What kind of Times  are These?   

Here we go again after a couple of wonderful weeks of not having to think about the B word, it’s back and as usual nothing is happening. Don’t know about you, but I have been so busy with other things, as in getting on with my life, my garden etc. not to mention climate change, extinction rebellion and other more important concerns,  that it had gone out of my head completely. perhaps as a result of this, or perhaps anyway at the moment my head is strangely empty of poems which brings me to

My Writing life

The warm weather has brought out the gardener in me and, clad in my gardening shorts, beans and spinach I Have sown beans and spinach, planted potatoes  and  potted tomaotes on.  All of which has resulted in the breaking of my new year promise of a poem a week and a creeping feeling of a huge and mounting pile of half written/ half -finished  poems waiting for my attention. So a week ago I determined to begin working through the list.  So far so good; I have made a poetry ‘to do’ list, sent off two poems to a competition and started this blog. Not bad before lunch, but I need to do more than just the routine things of going to writing groups with poems. I hope that everyone else finds themselves in this state from time to time. I would describe it as ‘in between-ish-ness’ and on the whole not a very comfortable place. I won’t bore you,  or frighten myself with my ‘to do list’.  However,

My Reading Month has been much more focussed and  I have continued with the commitment to read half an hour of poetry read every day. I started at the beginning of February and so far have read the books listed below. I have been faithful rather than religious about it and there have been days when I have missed out. I really think every day is too big a commitment and I am happy to be doing it three or four times a week at present. I am not going to give reviews or recommendations. Suffice it to say they have each been nourishing in their different ways.

The Tipping Line Paul Maddern Templar Poetry 2018. (Paul is the man who runs the River Mill writing  retreat which I mentioned last month)

Zoology Gillian Clarke Carcanet 2017

Being Haunted Jennifer Copley Cinnamon Press 2019

Silvering Maura Dooley Bloodaxe 2016

Listening to the Night Jane Routh 2018

Hare in the Headlights

The 31st of May is fast approaching; and with it my reading at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal with Jenny Copley and Carola Luther; tickets available here.

Beyond that workshops on the Short Story 29th June and 7th September on Memories, both in Ambleside for Learning Plus. For more information and to book a place email me at


The River Mill seems so long ago

Right back at the beginning of February our wonderful visit to the River Mill seems to have been the start of a very busy phase in

My writing life

First the launch on March 2nd at the Gregson Community centre in Lancaster, attended by about thirty people from many different parts of my life as a writer. I was well supported by Yvonne Boyle, my friend from the north of Ireland who had come over especially to MC and to read, despite rival claims on her time from the Alliance Party conference, on the same weekend.  My other guest reader was Jennifer Copley, my friend from Brewery Poets, who read from her prize winning pamphlet Being Haunted (Cinnamon Press 2018). It was a fabulous evening, wine and food, being introduced my Mike Barlow of Wayleave Press and reading with two fine women poets. Who could ask for more? At the end I, and my pamphlet, really felt launched.

For details of how to buy a copy of my pamphlet Testimony  go to the publications page. They are £5 + £1.50 postage and packing.

Then came the writers’ course at Ty Newydd with Gillian Clarke and Maura Dooley. This was a week of wild Welsh weather and wonderful poetry. I went with the intention of starting to plan beyond my three pamphlets and towards a collection. I wanted to find out if the tutors thought this a viable possibility. I came home with a lot of good advice and the beginnings of a  plan.  I enjoyed the immersed quality of the week, just lots of writing and thinking and talking about writing to other writers and with Gillian and Maura.

I drove home in the worst possible weather but it was worth it for the view of Caernarvon Castle battered by huge waves on the way. I am still drawing on the riches of the whole experience, not least the privilege of working with Gillian and Maura.

Next came a startling review of my pamphlet in the online poetry magazine Sphinx, by Rebecca Bilkau.

Then only last Friday 29th March the official and very enjoyable launch of Jenny Copley’s pamphlet, ‘Being Haunted’ at Natterjack’s café in Ulverston, where I had a chance to read a poem and celebrate her lovely poems with Jenny and her friends.

What a life!

My Reading Life

I have started a new routine to get myself reading poetry. I try as far as I can to spend half an hour each day reading poetry. So far I have got through two and a half poetry books in just over 2 weeks, and I am not rushing them. I am finding that already the huge pile of poetry books and pamphlets, ‘to be read’ is diminishing, and some wonderful ideas and phrases are sticking in the mind.  I will keep referring to this and see where I go with it.

Hare in the Headlights

Next up in terms of events is the reading for Brewery Poets at the Brewery Arts centre on 31st May 2019. I shall be reading with Jenny Copley again and Carola Luther as our guest. for more information visit the website.

On Saturday 29th June I am teaching a short story workshop in Ambleside for Learning Plus, 10.00 to 3.30, at a cost of £10. For more details and to book a place contact me.

I also have plans to submit poems to magazines over the next few months as part of the preparation for my collection.

See you again soon.

I’m a bit late with my January blog because…

I am not making excuses already…

My Writing Life

Guess what? A couple of weeks ago, Mike Barlow, the editor of Wayleave Press came to my door with a big brown cardboard box containing 145 copies of Testimony, my brand new pamphlet. There is nothing that cheers up a wet winter day like a new publication arriving with a man in a cardboard box!

The official launch is in March here in Lancaster. The last three months has been busy editing with Mike, a hugely pleasant and interesting experience, and now it is here! Forgive my giddiness; this does not happen that often. My last pamphlet was July 2015.

Then this last weekend off we went to Northern Ireland to celebrate two birthdays, a ninetieth and a sixty fifth. The second involved staying at the River Mill, a lovely writing retreat and centre just outside Ardglass in County Down. Six of us spent two nights there joined by a seventh on the Saturday. Apart from birthday celebrations for my friend and fellow writer, Yvonne Boyle, we had a small reading on the Saturday night at which Testimony made its debut and was well received.

So my writing life has been very eventful just recently. I have, however, managed so far to keep up my New Year promise which was to try to write a poem each week, and this is my first blog of the new year, and my other promise of a blog post a month is so far fulfilled. You’ll know later on in the year when I stop mentioning them that I have let  these promises slide! Today is Chinese New Year so welcome the year of the pig, which according to Google symbolises;

luck, overall good fortune, wealth, honesty, general prosperity, a hard-working, a peace-loving person, a truthful, generous, indulgent, patient, reliable, trusting, sincere, giving, sociable person with a large sense of humour and understanding.

Well in our present political position we could all do with a lot of those!

My Reading Month

Recently I have enormously enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel, Unsheltered, bang up to date and a mixture of wit and politics. Currently I am enjoying the Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his trilogy The Book of Dust.

 Hare in the Headlights

The big one is the official launch of Testimony coming up on March 2nd with guest poets Yvonne Boyle and Jennifer Copley and harpist Celia Briar, and the beyond that the reading for Brewery Poets in May. There is also the possibility of a summer workshop or two at Ambleside, as I heard yesterday that Learning Plus has got the funding to run a series.

So off I go, 2019 is off to a busy start..












The blog that never was – December 27th 2018

Here’s some of a blog I started in October and never posted, with additions. I can’t remember why I stopped.

October was a month of protests; against the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, the people’s march for a second referendum and, nearer home, the continuing anti-fracking protest at Preston New Road.

I wrote a poem in celebration of the protest in the USA against the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh. The poem was an experiment in the form known as the Golden Shovel that I had read about in Mslexia magazine. Others in my writing group have taken up the challenge with some amazing results.

Looking back on my notes for the blog in October I had written down the words from one of the banners at the big march for a second referendum ‘Stop! You are ruining everything!’ They haven’t stopped yet.

And at Preston New Road, the faithful protesters go every day of every week to log activity and Mother Nature has intervened with earthquakes that have given pause to the fracking.

So My writing life trundles on and my time has been spent recently working with Mike Barlow of Wayleave Press editing my new pamphlet to be published early in 2019.  I sent in the final proof last week.

There were two readings the first at Kendal Poetry Festival in September where I read at Afternoon Tea with the Brewery Poets and then in November I organised and took part in a reading with four other Lancaster poets to raise money for refugees.

My resolution, or promise to myself, for 2018, in terms of writing (I don’t even make any about anything else) was to write a poem a week. The total so far is 32, not bad if you discount holidays etc. but a little short of the target. However there are still three days of the year to go. The thought of writing 20 poems in three days… no perhaps not!  I am still pondering my promise to myself for 2019, it could be more regular blogging?

Hare in the Headlights. Well there are a few lined up; a New Year reading in Ireland at my friend Yvonne’s invitation, the launch of my pamphlet in February, a day at the Poetry School in London in late February, in March a week’s residential at Ty Newydd.and a reading for Brewery Poets in May.

So the world is in a worse mess than it  has ever been in my life time.

And yet …

One October Saturday we went to hear Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion the English Touring Opera with local choirs and a baroque orchestra at a local parish church. The music itself is wonderful and uplifting, but so was the occasion, for the skill and creativity of the soloists and orchestra, for the exhilaration of the singers in the local choir, for the intense silence in which we, as audience, were held. This was the work of a European composer sung and played by people from many countries and described by the vicar who introduced the evening as ‘the pinnacle of human achievement’.

Rays of light in pervasive darkness!

Happy New Year!

An Open House and an Empty Chair

An Open House

Two weeks ago I received a surprise invitation to a poetry reading on Tuesday 14th August at Fealty’s Pub in Bangor Northern Ireland. The event was part of the Open Door Festival which sets out to ‘create a creative town’ in Bangor by hosting arts events all through August.

The small room was packed and there was good poetry and beer. It gave me an opportunity to read for an audience consisting (almost) entirely of strangers and see how my work was received those who had never heard it before. My friend Yvonne, who invited me, and I were the last to read. Fortunately the audience were not flagging and were most appreciative. Let’s hope it is a good rehearsal for my forthcoming reading at the Kendal Poetry festival in two weeks time.

See you all there!

The Empty Chair

I read with horror this week about poets and writers from the Middle East,  Iran and Palestine in particular, and countries in Africa, who, having been invited to the Edinburgh International Book Festival to take part in events and discussions, have been refused visas by the Home Office.

One of them, a children’s illustrator from Iran, was reported as saying the grounds for refusal were given as ‘she was a single woman’.  The publisher who had invited her said that if the writer did not get here by Thursday 23rd August, she would place an empty chair on the stage during the event at which she was meant to be speaking and sharing her work, as a gesture of protest against the mean-spirited actions of our government intent on pursuing their hostile environment policy.

I intend to reiterate this gesture in support of all  artists who have been unjustly excluded by the current immigration policy here in the UK. I would like to invite all of you who read this blog to join me in this act of protest and solidarity with our fellow artists.  In my view a government which calls itself a democracy and yet which excludes artists and writers in this way has lost its way in a very serious and frightening way.

At a recent poetry group meeting one of the other poets remarked that it is difficult in these troubled times to write without an undercurrent of unease. This unease has been my preoccupation  in poems I have been writing recently. I have tried to capture the sense of normality, ordinariness and delight in hot weather, alongside an underlying feeling of uncertainty discomfort and dread, as well as a healthy dose of anger, as our country spirals downwards into political chaos and lurches to the Right following others already going that way. My poetry has always been political and at the moment it needs to stay that way.

You may notice I have changed the format of my blog. It is still primarily about my writing life but I felt it was time for a change.

Also time for a new poem of the month for August.


Rain at last and I’m blogging …

Having abandoned my (very dry) vegetable garden which is now being drowned and blown to bits, here I am at the desk about to write my rather late July blog! Well, I know I never managed May and June, but that’s life in a heat wave. ‘I’m blogging in the rain, just blogging in the rain… ‘

My writing life

on the other hand, has not been in abeyance at all. In May I was pleased to receive my copy of Envoi with my poem The Jargon in it. This poem is one of a group of five I wrote about the experience of working in a night shelter for the homeless. It took a while after I stopped doing that work before I had processed the experience enough to write about it. That happens sometimes and at other times something you’ve just done leaps out at you in the middle of the night and you jump up to write a poem about it there and then. That doesn’t happen that often, but it has …

I have  managed to write fairly steadily over the last few months, more or less a poem a week, shoved along by the writing group, which meets weekly, and by A Writers’ Book of Days which I turn to regularly for prompts. I sent some poems off to Happenstance for the July window and have just received encouraging feedback. This is the second time I have done this, and on both occasions it has pushed me to get my poems out there. So the poems are, after further editing, going out to magazines to try to make their way in the world. I’ll let you know how they get on.

My Reading Life

What? This is holiday time… I’m allowed to read detective fiction and gardening magazines… back to the serious stuff in the autumn.

 Hare in the headlights

I have just received a huge pile of leaflets for the Kendal Poetry Festival to distribute here on behalf of Brewery Poets, 6th to 9th September for your diaries. Visit for further information. Oh yes, I nearly forgot it’s in Hare in the Headlights because I am reading on Friday  at 4 as part of Afternoon Tea with the Brewery Poets (complete with scones and jam  and cream).

See you there!

It’s always nice to know that someone’s out there!

My Writing Life.

Every Tuesday I go to sing with my local women’s acapella choir, Dot Crochets and the raging Harmonies, ( It’s been going for  over 20 years) and a couple of weeks ago one of the members of the  choir came up to me for a chat and told me that she read my blog. I felt dead chuffed!  Sometimes when I write these things I wonder if any one reads them… and I hope that I am not writing into a void. Occasionally people post a comment and I know I have some faithful friends who read, and it is very nice when they do. So thank you to all of you out there..and read on.

Writing life has been busy recently  as I spent March working on  my pamphlet entry for the Cinnamon Press competition. It felt like a marathon task to get it all together in time even though it was only 21 poems. Also in March two readings popped up for me; the first at Words by the Water at Keswick where I joined contributors to the anthology Write to be Counted. The second was at the most recent Poem and a Pint at Greenodd village hall where I read on the floor spot at a reading by Jacob Polley. In case some readers don’t know Greenodd is a little village in the South Lakes, just this side of Ulverston.

Since the beginning of this year I have been convening a writing practice group once a month at a local cafe to write to prompts offered by the Writers’ Book of Days. These have been very informal sessions with just two or three of us, but they have kept me writing… which is always good.

March also saw the Lancaster Litfest and poetry day was excellent with a wide range of poets to enjoy. The Litfest this year focused on Indie publishers, talking about their businesses and showcasing their poets, and I found that both very useful and fascinating.

The next few months will, I hope be a relatively quiet time when I can just write and write without too many deadlines and challenges. I am sure I am not the only writer to long for such times.

My Reading Life

Well, I finished the marathon reading of Sapiens, mentioned last time and since then  have enjoyed some good fiction including Tracey Chevalier’s The Last Runaway and Joanna Cannon’s Three Things about Elsie. I am almost ready to embark on the sequel to sapiens, Homo Deus. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Hare in the Headlights

Quite distant headlights this time; I’ll be doing another workshop in Ambleside this coming July in the newly refurbished library. Look for details on my website nearer the time and in September I’ll be reading at the 3rd Kendal Poetry Festival at Afternoon tea with the Brewery Poets. Look out on their website for further details.

Poem of the month for May is coming soon. I missed April, I’m afraid. It will be Bosnian Coffee as I am not long returned from a holiday in Sarajevo.

Long time

My Writing Life

I know, I know, six months in fact, but I’m back now, not before time.  I hope I have still got some loyal readers out there who enjoy this blog? Over the last few months life has caught up with me big time and unfortunately my writing life and with it my website and blog has gone on the back burner. But not entirely so ..

In November, to start the catch up, I went to Tyn Y Coed near Conwy on the writing course run by Cinnamon Press. Five days of very persistent Welsh rain and poetry. I highly recommend this course and its parallel one in the spring as a good writing retreat. There are workshops, but not too many or too long, a very good variety with something for every genre of writer. There are individual sessions with the course tutors and a chance to take some work and have it critiqued by the (small) group. There are readings in the evenings and the good company of other writers. Most importantly for me there was time to write, and plenty of it. I learned a lot and perhaps more importantly was given great encouragement.

The course was followed in January by another kind of writing retreat, in the form of online and telephone mentoring from Katrina Naomi. Katrina lives in Cornwall so it had to be done at a distance. I sent her six poems on which she gave excellent feedback and the phone conversation really pushed my work on and encouraged me.

I really feel that these two very different experiences have turned a corner for me in my writing and I am now writing more adventurously and with more attention to technique.

At the course in Wales two books were recommended which have become my ‘work books’ week on week ever since. They are The Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves and 52 by Jo Bell. The books offer very different opportunities and challenges and I recommend you give them a try. Inspired by the Reeves book I have started a Writing Practice group once a month where a few of us meet with a nice coffee in a local cafe and write to  a prompt from the book and share our writing.  We have had two sessions so far; very informal and a chance to write outside the solitude of the laptop or the constraints of the workshop.

Finally it is Lancaster LitFest this month and I’ve just come back from hearing Heidi James read from  her novel, So the Doves, fab! Reader, I bought it..

 My reading (six months!)

Apart from the usual detective novels, I have been, and am still, engrossed in Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It is a long challenging and absorbing read. I have the real book and read it before going to sleep in order to cut down on screen light, and it is taking me time but that means also time to absorb it and reflect on the new ideas, and perspectives.

Some while back I particularly enjoyed reading Kim Moore’s sequence of blog of her domestic violence poems. Worth visiting her archive for that, I think.

Hare in the Headlights  

Plenty coming up: Next Tuesday 13th March I am to read with other poets the poem that was published in the anthology Write to be Counted, at Words by the Water in Keswick. I have had one of my night shelter poems The Jargon accepted by Envoi magazine, look out for it in May. And I am at present preparing for a last minute entry to the Cinnamon press pamphlet competition.

Enough for now



‘Theatre is a protected space …’

‘Theatre is a protected space in which we may tell the stories of our shared humanity ‘

(Sir Nicolas Haytner artistic director of the new Bridge Theatre in London)

My Writing Life

So too is poetry, or any art form for that matter. But poetry offers an intimacy that the play or the concert doesn’t. It is an intimacy we share with the painter, and like the painter it is an intimacy of absence. Someone reads my poems and thinks about them and I am, more often than not, not there to see how they react, yet somehow it remains a very personal encounter.

This last Saturday I travelled to Penrith to read at the northern launch of Write to be Counted, an anthology of poetry to uphold human rights. (The Book Mill 2017). Those of us who read at the launch were duly applauded but I found myself thinking about the poets  who contributed from other countries, such as Lebanon and Cambodia? Those poems will be read in sitting rooms and at kitchen tables in moments  of reflection.  The poets will not ever know how their poems are received and understood, but during the time that it takes to read a poem they can rely on the intimacy of the readers’ concentration on the page with their words, on the readers’ respect and attention, to tell a story of our shared humanity.

The inclusion of my poem If Only (2013) in this anthology is a great privilege and actually also very exciting because it is the first time I have been anthologised!

During this last month my writing has been laid aside while I have been returning to theatre work, having been invited by the associate director at the Duke’s Theatre here in Lancaster where I have been working on the latest production ‘Blackout, their latest community/ professional combined production which retells stories of the blackout and flooding which storm Desmond brought upon us in December 2015. It has been great fun to go back to performance work after eight years. So no blog until now…

My Reading Week(s)

My poetry writing is still being guided by Glynn Maxwell as I find time every now and then to read a chapter in his book On Poetry.

When I think about politics, which is far too much and makes me  feel profoundly depressed, I have found some consolation and food for thought in Naomi Klein’s inspiring book No is Not Enough. She is a very accessible and excellent writer and journalist, giving a terrifying, but also cogent and enlightening, analysis of how the whole Trump phenomenon came about. Read it! It won’t cheer you up but it will leave you feeling you understand a bit more about what ‘s going on out there!

 Hare in the Headlights

I am looking forward to a full programme for the long dark days of winter ahead. On the 4th of November I am off to Tyn y Coed for their five day writing course, a real treat and I am looking forward to it. Then as soon as I am back I have next in my series of writing workshops to teach in Ambleside. This one is about memoirs and full details are at the end of this blog. There are still paces left. And then in November I have my first online mentoring session with Katrina Naomi…

Bye for now and scroll down for workshop details below

 Fancy a day out in the Lake District?

Then why not come along to a creative writing workshop on Memoirs?

On Saturday 11th November 2017

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

At Ambleside Parish centre

Tutor Dr Elizabeth Hare

Cost £8

For more information and to sign up for the workshop please email

[This workshop is subsidised by Learning Plus Ambleside, a self-help, learning and community support registered charity.]

What is a memoir?

The dictionary says  A memoir is a book or other piece of writing based on the writer’s personal knowledge of people, places, or events: Or A written record of a (usually famous) person’s own life and experiences

Come and explore some other definitions and try writing a memoir yourself. You don’t have to be famous to take part!




The will of the people

My Writing Life

This blog starts with an unashamed political rant. I don’t so them often but this week it really got to me, so here goes…

I am sick of hearing ‘we can’t betray the will of the people’ as the reason/excuse for continuing down the path of Brexit to the cliff edge of March 2019.

This reasoning about Brexit is hypocritical because of what is happening here in Lancashire. Let me explain.  In 2015 our duly and democratically elected County Councillors in Preston rejected the application for planning from the company Cuadrilla to start drilling for fracking at Preston New Road, near Blackpool and in two other places in Lancashire. This seemed at the time to be a clear expression of the will of the people of Lancashire, lawfully debated, voted on and agreed by the County Council.

However, in May 2017 a government order overturned this democratic decision and gave permission for fracking to go ahead in direct betrayal of the clearly expressed will of the people. This would seem to suggest that the government pleads the ‘will of the people’ as a reason for doing things when it suits them and ignores that same will when it doesn’t.

So fracking has started at Preston New Road and the demonstrators are out against it. (I’m going down soon for the day!)

This blatant flouting of the democratic process makes a complete nonsense of the government’s often repeated excuse for not reconsidering Brexit and all its ghastly implications.

However now at last the Labour Party have made up their minds where they stand and I am very much encouraged as one of the 48% by their grown up proposal for an extended transition period, instead of the endless throwing the toys out of the pram we are being subjected to at present.

My guess is that the next few weeks in politics is going to be very exciting and full of surprises!

Reading week

I have been reading lots of poetry lately, always inspiring. I’ll put more details in the September blog. I have just started on Glynn Maxwell’s On Poetry: so far lots of really interesting ideas.  In terms of fiction I am now stuck into Do not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (2016). I recommend it as a good, but not an easy, read as it pulls no punches in the description of the reality of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Also I have recently finished The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry 2016). It is good once you get into it and in places really funny, another good read.

Hare in the Headlights

14th October see the launch of a new anthology, Write to be Counted, and one of my poems, If Only is going to be in it. I’ll be reading at the launch in Penrith. There will be more details in the September blog.

Poem of the month for September is from my pamphlet, and entitled Days.

Also a new venture ‘voice coaching’; I am now offering poets, and writers generally, the opportunity to improve their public reading skills and do their work justice at readings and open mics. Please contact me if you are interested.

My next poetry workshop for Learning Plus will be on Saturday 11th November from 10 am to 3 pm in Ambleside. The theme is Memoirs and the cost is £5 for the day as it is subsidised by Community Development Funding. If you are interested in attending please contact me.

That’s it for now.