July 2010


Around now (7.30, 21st July) in Pontpridd the winners in the Welsh Poetry competition will be announced. I didn’t make the trip – but I’ve come fourth, with a poem called “Jetsam”. So “specially commended”, but just outside the prizewinners. This seems to be my story this year.

For the poem, and other winners, see: http://www.welshpoetry.co.uk/winners.html

I wrote this as part of a small sequence I’m constructing, but its tone and approach is rather different from my usual line. To attempt it, I emulated the work of a fellow student of mine (whom I won’t name here, just in case) and, whilst what I wrote is a world away from what he might have written, I think, nevertheless having his work in mind clearly helped me, so I thank him for work that has made such an impression. He will have several pieces in Matter #10, when it is released in October, which should be worth buying for those alone. (I’ll have a piece in it too, though: an extract from my children’s novel. More details later in the year.)

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Shadowtrain is an online poetry mag I only discovered recently, though it’s been going since 2006, with a new issue every month, and some pretty good poets included. The latest issue, #34, includes five of my poems, taken from my women and warfare collection.

See: http://www.shadowtrain.com/id388.html

The poems are:

Letter to the dead (one of a sequence)

Sticks and stones

Nanking

The 27th poem

Kim Phuc (3): A Chemical Solution (from my Kim Phuc sequence)

Bank Street, in collaboration with Sheffield’s Children’s Festival and the City Council is currently running a massive and fun project which has created a trail of haiku through Sheffield. Local poets taught the basis of haiku in several local schools, and the result is spread across the city centre, and also collected in exhibition in Bank St itself.

You’re also invited. Anyone who would like to contribute one or more haiku can submit through the website.: http://sheffieldhaiku.co.uk/

You can also find my offering: http://sheffieldhaiku.co.uk/submitted-haiku/ I found myself writing about summer, so decided to write the biography of my summers in haiku. (Actually, I’m not that brilliant at haiku writing – very hit and miss – so this was quite a useful exercise. If you want brilliance in haiku, a good poet is Chris Jones: http://www.chris-jones.org.uk/ )

Last week readers from Sheffield Hallam’s MA Writing gave two readings as part of local festivals in Sheffield. We read at the Sharrow Fringe Festival on Monday, and at the Dore Festival last night (Friday). Both were great sessions, with audiences who seemed very aprpeciative and took the time to give us pleasant feedback afterwards. I’m going to list all our names here, because I’m pretty sure these are all names to watch for the future: Angelina Ayers, Susan Clegg, Helen Cadbury, Marian Iseard, Fay Musselwhite, Ruby Robinson, Laura Wake (and me). I won’t be surprised if in, say, three years, all these people aren’t out there, seriously published.

In October, during Off the Shelf in Sheffield, the new issue of Matter will be launched. This is Matter 10: as our tenth anniversary issues, we’ve made a special effort, with a celebratory cover and some superb contributions, both from the upcoming student writers, and well-established writers of excellence who are keen to contribute to support us. You can find more info at: http://www.makingwritingmatter.co.uk/

We’ll be reading twice in Sheffield to launch the mag: once at Blackwells bookshop, and once at the Riverside hostelry.