January 2014


I’ve now a firm date for the launch of Out of Breath.

It’s Tuesday, March 25th, at Waterstones, Orchard Square, Sheffield. The event starts at 6.30 and will finish a little after 8.00.

As well as me reading from the new collection (that phrase still seems strange, almost a hostage to fortune) I’ve asked a some of our brilliant local poets and friends to help me out, reading from their own work as well as mine. At the moment, Sally Goldsmith and Suzannah Evans are firm bookings. There’ll be at least one other voice.

If you know me, you’ll probably be inundated with invitations to this event. My first collection! Seems impossible.

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I heard today that The Journal has nominated my poem, “Behind Kibuye Church”, for the 2014 Forward Prize. That’s my fourth nomination, which is always pleasing though, of course, the competition is fierce and there are quite a few magazines allowed to nominate. Obviously, there’ll be many more people nominated for the Single Poem competition than for the collection. I suppose there’s an outside chance my collection could be nominated as “First Collection”, though I don’t think this has ever happened to a Cinnamon book.

I’m looking at my diary for the year to come. It’s an exciting year for me.

Early in March I read with the Writing School of The Poetry Business at The Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Centre, their wonderful museum next to Dove Cottage at Grasmere. That’s Sunday March 2nd, 2.30.  See HERE 

It’s a free event, so you should come along if you can to hear a great variety of UK poets, namely Jim Caruth, Jennifer Copley, Lydia Harris, Fokkina McDonnell, Jane McKie, Kim Moore, Alan Payne, Paul Stephenson, Pam Thompson, Liz Venn, Noel Williams, David Wilson, Gina Wilson and River Wolton.

Jennifer has recently published Sisters, which will be reviewed in the next Orbis. River published her collection Indoor Skydiving  which I hope to review myself at some point. Both are great books. Kim’s If We Could Speak Like Wolves was one of the most interesting pamphlets published last year, reviewed in the TLS no less. Kim also has one of the liveliest poetry blogs in the UK. Gina, Alan and Jim also have really good pamphlets, though published a couple of years ago now. Gina’s Paper, Scissors, Stone  is quite quirky and very clever. Alan has a particularly good line in the terse personal lyric, as shown in his pamphlet: Exploring the Orinoco. Jim’s Marking the Lambs is full of his soft, compassionate, gentle voice. (You can find my Antiphon review of it here).

Unfortunately my own Out of Breath is unlikely to be around as early as March 2nd. The official launch is planned for Tuesday 25th March at the the welcoming branch of Waterstones in Sheffield’s Orchard Square, who always put on excellent book launches. Starts at 6.30. I’ll make a proper announcement when there’s a publicity sheet to send out.

Just listened to myself interviewing Linda Lee Welch on basic.fm radio. I actually sound as if I know what I’m talking about. Good to know that the illusion is reasonably intact.

Linda Lee teaches, amongst other things, Writing the Novel, a session I learned from in Hallam University’s MA Writing. It was a fun module, and I made some good friends during it, friendships which have persisted afterwards with writers whom, I’m pretty convinced, will all find publication sooner or later. (Some already have agents, one has a mentor. None yet have their books in print, but it’s only a matter of time). My own approach to the novel was liked by the class, but I think it’s unlikely ever to be completed, as I don’t think it was leading me somewhere interesting. That may change, of course. At the moment, I’m working on a three-part novel for children, “The Lost Resort”.

I’ve been on the radio before, in quite variable circumstances. A poem was broadcast on Radio Newark two years ago. Fame at last! On another occasion, I took part in a Canadian radio programme on fairies. I’ve also waffled on about Plain English, as I do. One classic moment was when, as an academic, I was invited to broadcast on Radio Sheffield about The Lord of the Rings, just as the first of Peter Jackson’s films was to be released. I was quite nervous, as I’m by no means an expert on Tolkien, despite being very fond of his work. So my first statement was something along the lines of “Yes, it’s a book. It’s a big book.” That’s about the extent of my critical abilities, sometimes.