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‘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 info@elizabethhare.co.uk

[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.

Remembering Backwards

Remembering Backwards

My Writing Life

It’s been a month, more or less, and a busy one, since the last blog  and I am trying to remember what has happened to tell you about. Before I got to looking at the diary to prompt me I remembered someone (and I have no idea who) telling me that the way to remember detail is to think backwards.

Here is how it works. Supposing you are trying to remember what you did yesterday; what you do is remember the last thing you did before going to bed and then work backwards.  It works especially well when you have lost something: your glasses, your keys, your phone…

So, having done this and reversed the order (are you following this?), this month started with a ‘poetry marathon’. On Saturday 1st July the prize winning readings for the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition were held at the Jerwood Centre, at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, where incidentally there is nowhere to park!

On the same day this was followed by Poem and a Pint, a regular Cumbria poetry event, at Greenodd Village Hall, a lovely venue with no parking!  A day of driving round in circles….

However, at the latter event I had a chance to read in the floor spot which was great. The guest poet was Emily Berry. Her work is surreal and fascinating, but not my taste I am afraid. I can’t be the kind of blogger who loves all poets. She is just not one of my favourites.

Next up, after the regular Stanza and writing group meetings, was my poetry workshop in Ambleside on the theme of Journeys. By some weird coincidence the theme of our Stanza meeting the previous Thursday was also journeys. The workshop went well, with seven people who wrote cheerfully all day. It must have been OK because Learning Plus has invited me back to do another one in November (details to follow).

After this first rush and the following Brewery Poets meeting, my writing life went quiet(er)  in terms of events, but I have been busy. I sent off six poems to catch Happenstance’s open July window for submissions for feedback and was astonished and delighted at how quickly they were returned, and very pleased with the feedback from Helena: lots of very helpful criticism and many positive comments. Receiving this has really boosted my confidence and the next thing I will do is send some poems to a couple of magazines. I am now revisiting other poems in the light of what she said about my work in general.

My reading week

My reading is still in the doldrums of detective fiction (some of it very good incidentally; I recommend the latest Peter Robinson Banks mystery) and I even missed my regular reading group this week. So this month’s report definitely has ‘room for improvement’ on it as a comment, and possibly something about doing my homework!

Hare in the Headlights

Two bits of news:

I have had a poem accepted for an anthology of feminist poetry to be launched in October (Write to be Counted) details nearer the time.

And at last, after a whole year without one, a new poem of the month. It is the title poem of my pamphlet ‘Gardening with My Father’, appropriate to this time of year when I am working among my rows of beans on the allotment. Visit the page to read and enjoy it.

 

 

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 info@elizabethhare.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now is the time

Blog 29th May 2017

My Writing Life

One week has passed since the attacks in Manchester and the horror is still sinking in as each day there is more detail. I have been feeling too numb to write and hoping to do something for the writing group on Wednesday.

Here the flag is flying at half mast on our Town Hall. Yesterday I heard there were young people from one of our local high schools present at the concert. They all survived unhurt but are traumatised by what they saw as they made their escape from the arena.

In the days immediately following the bombing there were messages from all over the world offering shared grief and expressions of compassion and solidarity. The most immediate and powerful of these came from our neighbours in Europe, many of whom have experienced recent terror attacks and could voice their understanding of what we are going through as a country.

Of all of these messages the image that stays with me is of the newly elected president of France, Emmanuel Macron. He walked from the Elysee Palace a few hundred yards along the street to the Faubourg St Honore to the British Embassy. The television pictures showed him walking along the pavement with the Prime Minister and two security guards. The image was of a man walking along a street in his own city to visit a friend how had received bad news.  It managed to be at the same time simple, touching and statesmanlike.

Images like this bring us back inevitably to the big question. Why, in our time of trouble are we leaving our closest and best friends, leaving the European Union,  walking away in pursuit of a misguided sense of identity and of independence both of which we have already?

Surely after the catastrophic and tragic events of last Monday we should think again. As a country we could do worse than take a leaf out of Manchester’s book.  All week report after report has been about w Manchester is coming together, standing strong against the backlash of Islamophobia, against our real enemies who seek to destroy our civilisation, our belief in democracy, our way of life.

Our European neighbours, and among them those who come here to be members of our families and to live and work with us, are not our enemies. They share our values and our aspirations for a liberal and free society.

Now is the time when we are up against it, challenged by the evil of extremism and fanaticism. Now is surely then the time for us to come together, and now is not the not the time to walk away.

My Reading Week

I am currently reading Helen Dunmore’s latest novel, Birdcage Walk. I have found the story moves slowly, but I do enjoy the way she writes an historical novel in contemporary idiom. The end is pleasingly surprising and dramatic!

Hare in the Headlights

 Lots coming up

Most importantly I am helping Alan rice to organise Elizabeth Burns: legacies on the 23rd June her in Lancaster at the Gregson Centre. It will be an opportunity to hear some of Elizabeth’s poems, .to see the film of A potter, a Painter and a Poet her collaborative venture with artist Ann Gilchrist and potter Paul Tebble  and was the last work  she undertook before her death on 2015, and to hear tributes form poets and writers here in Lancaster who have been inspired by her and had the privilege of working with her in  workshops and groups.

Also gearing up to give a workshop in Ambleside early in July as well as writing on …

 

 

The Untold Story of Yesterday

Poets, and all writers, should always be concerned with what is said and what is left unsaid. So when we watch or listen to the news we are always looking for what is not reported for what is left out of the headlines. It is not so much the fake news as the unreported that gives the bias of the media source away.

With a general election in the offing, and I can’t ignore it, sorry, I am a political creature, I find myself thinking about what I know has happened and has not been told. My duty as a writer and poet is to tell the untold stories, so here is one from yesterday, and I don’t mean long go, I mean yesterday, Saturday 13th April 2017.

The radio the TV and newspapers and the internet were busy reporting the endless and very boring and predictable exchange of personal insults between politicians that now passes for campaigning, (Yes we know you don’t like him Teresa, so what?) and the ransom ware cyber attack and the Eurovision song contest.

While here where I live something much more important, and in some ways more significant, was happening. Having been a teacher for the best part of forty years I remain passionate about education. So I joined a gathering of some 900 people in outside the Town Hall to protest against the education cuts proposed by the current Tory government which will take place if they win the election.

With the proposed cuts to funding per pupil our town stands to lose across its 16 schools an estimated 92 teachers. That’s 92 redundancies of hardworking professional people, 92 families directly affected, 92 mortgages compromised, 92 times 3 to 4 years of training and Heaven knows how many years of experience, dedication and expertise. It means bigger classes and less attention for individual learners. It means hundreds of children suffering from a loss of quality of education. And why? Nowhere on the all-knowing internet can I find an answer, except that it is part of the current government programme of cuts to public services. It is just ‘the cuts.’ Yet nowhere can I find our march reported, although it will probably get a page in the local paper out on Thursday.

The following questions arise; are the squabbles of politicians and success or failure of singing contests of more relevance and importance to our future that the compromising of our future itself and that of our children? There were lots of children at the protest who will be here when I and all the big names in politics are long gone, and what kind of a world will they inhabit if we take away from them the chance of a decent education?

So let’s put personalities and media distortions and lies to one side and look at real policies that will shape our lives and those of our children. Let’s behave like educated and intelligent human beings. Let’s make a sensible and informed choice. Let’s write the story of the future with imagination, compassion and foresight and not with prejudice and gullibility and fear. Let’s stand up and tell the stories that matter loud and clear.

Reading Week

Oh dear! nothing too hefty tome-ish to report. I read detective stories a lot, especially when I have insomnia …nuff said!

Hare in the headlights

Last Wednesday I attended the launch at UCLAN of the catalogue of the exhibition ‘A Potter, a Painter and a Poet.’ There is a long story attached to this which I will tell my next blog. Suffice it to say for now that I am helping to organise  an event here in Lancaster to celebrate the legacy of the poet, Elizabeth Burns, who died in August 2015.

More on this very soon

It used to be the number 9 bus

My Writing Life

You wait all winter for the poetry festivals to come along and then in March they all come together, just like the buses from Hammersmith to Mortlake that I used to wait for after a night  out or a ate rehearsal long ago when I lived in London.  Sadly, it is not the number 9 anymore … same route though, I looked it up.

A small group of tired people, we would wait at the bus stop on Hammersmith Broadway and then just after eleven o’clock the number 9’s would all come along at once. If I got on the last of the line of buses I was often the only person left by the time we got to Barnes and I would sit leaning against the window looking through out my own transparent reflection, watching the bright lights of Chiswick, a promised land across the dark water of the River Thames.

The Stanza festival now seems a long time ago, and, of the Lancaster Litfest, in March, the my best memory is the evening of poetry shared by Kim Moore and Hannah Lowe. The Litfest itself was well attended and interesting, and how wonderful to see it revived at last and the evening with these two women poets was outstanding.  It seemed that they had some kind of connection with each other, whether in their political preoccupations or their imaginations. This sense of connection gave the reading a particular and satisfying coherence.

Since then there has been the April Poets in late March, here in Lancaster, and the more recent Feminist Poetry Jamboree at Ulverston. This latter was a timely reminder that politics is not only about Brexit and Trump, although they both got a mention of course, as they continue to preoccupy us as individuals, to dominate conversations, and to linger in the sense of uncertainty tinged with fear with which we listen to the news each day.

By the time we get to the Kendal Poetry Festival, (16th to 18th June) this year we will have had the General Election. Last year the first ever festival started the day after the referendum and we were all reeling with the shock.

I wonder if this year we will feel, as a relatively small group of poets and writers gathered together, as I used to feel those dark nights long ago, that the promised land of our sane and liberal democracy is over the other side of a dark river and we are on the last bus home; but at least we will not be travelling alone.

My reading week(s)

Lots of reading, and not much blogging recently; I have just read Days Without End by Sebastian Barry for my reading group discussion tomorrow. It is a wonderful book, and even the gory bits, and my goodness they are gory, are all woven into the thread of the story. It is one of those books that looks at the great events of history from the intimate perspective of a small group of individuals, caught up in what is happening around them, and, unlike the reader, not able to understand the full significance of what is happening.

A very different joy and delight was re-reading Carl Ann Duffy’s collection Bees while on holiday a couple of weeks ago.

Hare in the Headlights

There have been a couple of these recently because after months of not airing my poetry I have done two open mics, recently at April Poets and at the Feminist Jamboree. Not as scary as it might have been and the poetry was well received. Hoping soon to start sending stuff out to magazines.

Till soon

 

 

Fest-Blog 1

The first of a series that will become a Blog-Fest!

My Writing Life

Ok, I am still slightly dizzy after two days at Stanza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival at St Andrew’s a week ago. Now I have had time to digest and feel able to share some of the highlights over the next two blog posts.  The festival itself was five days and I packed as much poetry as I could into less than half the time.  I felt quite proud at the end of Thursday having heard 8 poets in a day.

The themes this year were ‘Roads’ and ‘Heights,’ so there were lots of ( usually quite hairy) mountaineering  and rock climbing poets and many travellers from as far apart as Iceland and Syria. Since returning I have been reflecting on the way that poets often have another activity that they devote a lot of time and energy to as well as their writing and which they often seem to find a wellspring of imagination and inspiration for their work. It is not so much that mountaineering poets write about mountains, although they do, but also that they find the act of climbing the mountains a source for the energy needed for their work and the way they approach it.

I garden as well as writing and for me gardening is an opportunity to empty my mind and do physical things quite routinely after which I can return to my desk refreshed.

The first reading I went to on Thursday was the first in a regular Stanza series, Border Crossings and featured the work of David Wilson, a climber and Janette Ayachi, a traveller. I bought David’s book Slope but unfortunately Janette had run out of copies, or I would have bought it as well. I loved Janette’s excitement about travelling to new places, and David quiet humour linked with metaphors of mountains. A really good beginning to the day.

The lunchtime session that came next could not have been more of contrast , with the noir of Steven Watt up against the lyrical gay love poetry of Katherine McMahon and both of them contemporary and immediate in their concerns. They are two young poets of contrasting ideas and presentation and both a joy to listen to. Their session was poetry lunch with a pie and a drink included in the price of the ticket.

Thus sustained I went on poets five and six of the day. I another very different session of Border Crossings.  We heard from Maram Almaasri from Syria and Paul Stevenson who is British but lives in Paris. Both these readings reduced me and most of the audience either to tears, or certainly to feeling very choked up. Paul’s pamphlet was an account of the days after the Paris attacks and Maram’s poems reflecting the sad and desperate situation of her country.

Last and the highlight of the whole day, and for me of the whole festival, was the evening reading by Alice Oswald. Sold out as you can imagine, she held two hundred people listening in gripped silence for 45 minutes and wanting more at the end. I have struggled with her latest collection Falling Awake which I was given for Christmas,  on the page, but from listening to her reading from it I  learned that I should  read it slowly and not too much at a time, as a kind of meditation. Truly wonderful!

You will all have to wait until next time for the second day of Stanza and for the booklet launch of my autumn writers group. So watch this space

My reading week

I finished Alan Bennett’s Keeping On Keeping On while still in St Andrews and particularly enjoyed his collected essays about his plays and their productions included in the second half. I am afraid it is detective stories now as the holidays approach!

Hare n the Headlights

I chickened out of reading at the open mic. at stanza, but got my courage together for the April poets this week, of which more next time.

While Rome Burns

My Writing Life

It is so easy to lose track of public and political events as the media usually go for the dramatic moment rather than the continuing horrors. They give us one heart-breaking image and then move on the next. However in the meantime the horrors are still going on and not going away or getting any less horrific.

In recent weeks I have become interested in the ideas and writing of Hannah Arendt circulated in the papers and on Radio 4. (Listen to the ‘In our Time’ programme if you can.) She is best known for coining the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ in her writing about the trial of Eichmann in 1960. ‘Banal’ is not a word we would use about evil nowadays as it has the connotation of something a bit trivial and unimportant. However, it does now seem to me that the current spate of evil and misguided doings and decisions affecting all of us is moving towards becoming more ordinary and every day, more acceptable because we are not constantly given dramatic reminders of it, as the headline news moves back to its preoccupation with the lives of celebrities and the football results, fiddling while Rome burns..

However, I remain preoccupied, checking the media, usually the BBC website, for Trump horror stories every day, and searching, in vain, for signs that someone has called to a halt the mad road to Brexit we seem to be following. When I look back at the blogs I wrote this time last year, they are all about my writing and don’t mention politics because at that point neither Brexit nor the Trump presidency seemed a possibility, let alone a reality with which we are coming to terms. So if my blog has turned political then I make no excuse, as so has my writing. Since completing the sequence about the homeless shelter I have found myself writing, and indeed struggling to write, two poems about the present political disasters, and my feelings about them. I think this is all we can do is watch and keep watching, and wait and write.

As I finished writing the above paragraph, the doorbell rang. It was my friend Christine, an artist with whom I collaborated in 2008 on a project entitled Watching Walls for which I wrote and performed an integrated performance entitled A Place Among the Stones. So Christine arrived at the door to say she was clearing out her art stuff and had brought round photographs and the script for me. The piece was performed for Holocaust Memorial Day 2008, the day that this year saw Trump impose his immigration ban. The last section of the piece reads like yesterday’s newspaper. It ends with the admonition ‘Watch your step!’ I’ll find an electronic version and share some of it with you next time.

My reading week

I have just finished reading Angela Carter’s Wise Children (1991) to discuss at the reading group this week. I didn’t enjoy as much as the others did as it seemed to me dated and overdone, although here is some very wonderful writing to be enjoyed. I’m not recommending it because to be honest it is not my taste.

I have just started on Alan Bennett’s Kkeeping On Keeping On, a work full of sharp political comment and theatre gossip, lovely!

Hare in the Headlights

Just a few plugs for forthcoming literary and poetic events:

March 9th is an April Poets here in Lancaster (yes, I know it’s March but it’s a long story) there is a workshop with David Tait and a reading with David, Jenny Copley and Carola Luther in the evening at the Storey Institute, Lancaster. Visit April Poets for more information.

Then there is the Lancaster Litfest with lots of treats, Jackie Kay a poetry day and much more

And last but not least all of us at Brewery Poets are waiting for news of our bid to the Arts Council for the next Kendal Poetry Festival. We will hear this coming Tuesday and if successful the festival will be in June.

That’s it for now.

Keep Calm and Carry on Writing

My Writing Life

Not sure myself, whether the writing goes on because of everything, or in spite of everything. This week I have caught fragments of the writers from the United States who have been on Radio 4 talking about their thoughts and ideas leading up to the  to the inauguration yesterday. It has been interesting but not encouraging, although many of them tried to strike a note of hope.

Thinking back over my life, I think that the last time I felt this frightened and depressed about politics was when I was very young, about 17, and the Cuban Missile Crisis was hanging over us. I tried to capture the feelings from this time in my poem ‘1962‘, published in my pamphlet Gardening with my Father, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2013.

I can remember how scared I was in 1962 and now realise how little I understood of what was happening in the world at that time. I feel now I understand only too well what is happening and my imagination of the consequences occupies my thoughts constantly — so I have no recourse but to keep calm and keep on writing.

In recent weeks I have been working on a series of poems about working at the Night Shelter for Homeless People here in Lancaster. I worked there as a volunteer for two years and then managed it for a year. I find it interesting that it is only now that I feel able to reflect on and write about the experience. I have struggled to find the right point of view and avoid being patronising, and  I hope what I have now written will tell stories of another world which I visited for a while. I recently received notice of a forthcoming anthology and intend to submit the sequence to it, so  I have been sharing these poems with the writing group week on week and their comments, as ever, have been invaluable.

I have also, at last, returned to the booklet that will be published at the end of February which will be a collection of the writings of members of the Meeting House Writers, to whom I gave my writing course before Christmas. Yesterday I met with the illustrator about the cover design and will be working on the editing this week.

My reading week

Apart from lots of post-viral rubbish reading, I have recently discovered a couple of Barbara Kingsolvers that I had not read before. I really enjoyed Pigs in Heaven and am now reading Prodigal Summer.

 Hare in the Headlights

Aren’t we all just now? Just returned to continue the blog after being at the women’s protest rally here in Lancaster. It was a very  good turn out of a couple of hundred women with plenty of supporting children and men in  the background. We all want change all right but let’s face it it’s going to be hard.

Till next time.