poetry


Well, not quite at Dove Cottage, because that would both be astounding (to read where Wordsworth stood!) and pretty much impossible with any audience larger than five. Instead it’s for the Wordsworth Trust at the Jerwood Centre, part of the Wordsworth Museum.

I’ll be reading as a member of the Poetry Business Writing School – we come to the end of our eighteen months together with a grand reading here at Grasmere this coming Sunday, 2nd March: 2.30 to 3.30.

It’s a free event, and you’ll hear Jim Caruth, Jennifer Copley, Lydia Harris, Fokkina McDonnell, Jane McKie, Kim Moore, Alan Payne, Paul Stephenson, Pam Thompson, Liz Venn, David Wilson, Gina Wilson and River Wolton, along with yours truly. This group is a truly gifted set of poets, positively swimming in prizes and publications, and a very varied bunch, too. You’ll hear largely new poems written during the Writing School and some recently published.

Full details here about the Jerwood Centre reading 

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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.

Today was the last Sheffield meeting of the Writing School, run by the Poetry Business, in Sheffield, which has been one of the biggest influences, aids and joys of my recent writing. Partly this is down to Ann and Peter Sansom who run and tutor it, partly to the other excellent poets the School brings together to rub shoulders and share words.

We will have a final get-together in Rydal in February, culminating in a reading at the Wordsworth Trust. If you’re around the Lakes then, perhaps you’ll come and hear us.

I recommend the Writing School. It stimulates your work, and puts you in contact with ways of writing you will not have considered before.

I also picked up a copy of River Wolton’s new book, Indoor Skydiving. Not read it yet, but it looks pretty good. And a copy of the latest The North (the Poetry Business poetry magazine), issue #51. I’m pleased with this one, as I’ve two poems in it, and Peter asked me to contribute to their periodic piece “Blind Criticism”, in which poets are invited to critique a poem without author which they’ve never seen before. I was partnered with Helena (“Nell”) Nelson, who runs Happenstance Press and offers sharp, close criticism. This seemed an honour to me, and a little bit scary. Suppose I came up with a critique which slated some well-loved, well-reputed poet? Suppose I disagreed radically with Nell’s view of the poem, was even hostile to it? Suppose I showed how ignorant I was of some style, form, tradition – there are so many and I’m so limited in my knowledge.

As it turned out, I really enjoyed the task, wrote far more than Peter could use, and found my account and Nell’s largely fitted together. And so, looking at it now in print, I’m almost as pleased with it as I am with my two poems: “Late Night, Radio 3” and “To an aubergine”. The latter poem was written in a Writing School workshop. You can maybe get an inkling of the School from this little example.

‘Chimney-Bird’, the poem which won the Southport competition, is now on their website, at: http://www.swconline.co.uk/n1/?cat=12

I’ve also been lucky enough to have a couple of poems accepted by The Journal, namely ‘Behind Kibuye Church’ and ‘Letter to the Dead’. These are both interesting poems to me, in that they came out of the Women and Warfare work I was doing in 2010, so it’s good that those poems are still finding homes.

Most of the 70 or so poems I wrote then  these days I find rather slight, but a handful do seem worthwhile, and ‘Behind Kibuye Church’ is one of these. Tackling a subject such as genocide which, of course, I cannot know the reality of in any meaningful way, is a tough thing to get an “honest” poem out of. ‘Letter to the Dead’ is one of seven such letters, but probably the most interesting of them, as I hit on the intriguing idea of using redaction in a poem, to signify censorship, and use the device to indicate the way that a distant soldier is eroded by distance, time and the nature of his situation. (I’ve used redaction again recently, in another poem, but for a different purpose).

Issue Six of Antiphon is now up and running, ready for your reading pleasure. Find it here.

Rosemary and I feel that every issue is better than before, though it’s hard to know whether that’s true, of course. So we’re asking our readers to let us know which poems in this issue they particularly like. (The poet who gets the most positive feedback will get a special feature on the Antiphon site). You can contact us with feedback through the Antiphon site (antiphon.org.uk) or through Antiphon’s blog, here:

Equally good news is that the 2013 Sheffield Poetry Festival is going ahead. It’s planned for June 1 to 9th, a mix of well known poets, local poets, workshops, readings and unusual events. I’ll be posting the details as they firm up.

You might like to check out the new website of The Poetry Business, just up and running yesterday. It has some very useful resources for poets, and the discussion forum may well develop into something really interesting for active poets.

See: http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/

In rapid succession:

  • just heard from Cinnamon that I was one of six finalists in their poetry collection award, but didn’t quite get to the final two for publication, which is disappointing but still encouraging;
  • then received my copies of the latest anthology In Terra Pax (in which I’ve three poems) which, as usual, has a great mix of quality poems and stories, including one by my good friend Tricia Durdey;
  • then received two books from Cinnamon for review in Orbis, both of which rather tempt me to do the job myself: Will Kemp’s Nocturnes (I’ve admired Will’s work for some while, even though he keeps knocking me back in competitions) and Omar Sabbagh’s The Square Root of Beirut, a new voice to me, but one which appears on first reading to connect intelligent insight with sensitive originality.

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