Friday, 6 March 2020

World Book Day, Better Late Than Never...

The sea, the sea...

I know I am a little late for World Book Day, but I did not want the opportunity to pass without drawing attention to what seems to me a post that others might care to read on the wonderful Sea Library blog. Anna Iltnere draws our attention not only to Tove Jannson's first Moomin story, The Moomins and the Great Flood, but also to a year-long campaign launched by Moomin Characters Ltd. and their partners to try to eradicate blue-green algae from the Baltic Sea.

The Baltic Sea may seem a long way from my home in Suffolk, but we have come across notices along the river Orwell, only a few miles away from our front door, warning us of this same polluting and potentially harmful organism. Environmental pollution comes in many guises and is something that affects us all, and something that we should not view with complacency. Our oceans (and other waterways) are a vital resource for our planet, as numerous people, like Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg to name but two, are constantly reminding us.

But there was another reason why this particular post on the Sea Library blog attracted my attention. I have loved the Moomin stories since I was a child. We named three of our pets after these engaging characters. Jannson, it seems to me, was passionate about her work and developed her imaginative, artistic and literary gifts in ways that made the impossible seem (almost) natural, and certainly believable. She was extremely versatile, and even those who have not been attracted to Moominland have been enchanted by her adult works such as The Summer Book, reviewed here in The Guardian by Ali Smith.

Happy World Book Day, 2020
... for yesterday! 

P.S. I have ordered a new book of poetry from my wish-list: Staring at a Hoopoe by David Cooke. I wonder what you are reading at the moment.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

2020: the start of a new writing decade

I was up early this morning and able to appreciate the sunrise. New beginnings offer fresh opportunities, and I wait with anticipation to see what the new decade will bring in terms of developments in our surprisingly fast-moving poetry scene.

Healthwise, my new year did not start in the best of ways (shingles!), but I am encouraged by the fact that once again this blog has been included in Matthew Stewart's Rogue Strands list of The Best U.K. Poetry Blogs of 2019. Thank you, Matthew.

Thank you, too, to the December readers of Reach Poetry (Indigo Dreams Publishing), who voted my Warkworth Hermitage poem into 'The Box' for January. Endorsement from one's poetry peers is particularly welcome, especially when the vote is accompanied by a specific or constructive comment.

I wonder how much fellow poets plan their year and how much they go with the flow, depending on what opportunities arise. I remember setting a specific New Year goal some years ago, and sensing the satisfaction some months later in reaching the set target. Do you set specific personal goals? These days I tend to trade more in 'hopes' and 'dreams', but perhaps I should do more plotting and planning. Above all, I would like to commit to more incisive thinking and to a year of more reading, writing and submissions. In these uncertain times I want to experience that sense of wonder that poetry can offer.

But first I must knuckle down and tackle my record-keeping and my annual box of poetry filing...

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Poetry in Aldeburgh and the launch of the 'Port' anthology from Dunlin Press

Friday Evening

I have arrived back home after a wonderful day in Aldeburgh, which began with a picnic lunch by the North Lookout and ended with a take-away meal near The Scallop. There was much poetry in between. 

I attended Patricia Debney's stimulating Prose Poetry workshop, and completed a first draft of a new piece (which includes the word 'elephant'). An hour or so after the workshop, David (Gill) and I found ourselves on the Crag Path, making our way towards the Peter Pears Gallery for the launch of the new Port anthology from Dunlin Press.

Ella Johnston and MW Bewick of Dunlin Press introduced their new volume before Rosemary Appleton, Julie Hogg and I each presented a small coastal set including our Port contributions. Thank you, Ella and Martin, for inviting us to be part of this occasion.

The photograph below shows the book along with three of the Portpatrick photo-images that fed into my Port poem.The bird, in case you were wondering, is a Black Guillemot: these birds have red feet and are often referred to as Tysties on Shetland and in some mainland parts of Scotland.

Here we are, with the sea only metres away from the Peter Pears Gallery...

... making it seem very natural that the Port launch should share space with the launch of 48 poets write at the coast, an exquisite pamphlet edited and produced by Maria Isakova Bennett of Coast to Coast to Coast

In between the workshop and the launch David and I refuelled with cups of Earl Grey. No prizes for guessing who chose the slice of chocolate and ginger cake...

After the launch, a few purchases from the book table and a short time at the festival party, we left the gallery and crossed the road for two 'Aldeburgh essentials', otherwise known as two bags of fish and chips, which we devoured by the light of the November moon.

And finally... are a couple of brooding sky photos.

Do visit the...

Saturday, 2 November 2019

'Dear Dylan'

Cwmdonkin Park, Swansea

My poem-and-letter submission [9/2019] has been accepted for the 2020 Indigo Dreams Publishing 'Dear Dylan' anthology (to be edited by IDP poet and Cheltenham Poetry Festival Director, Anna Saunders). My poem has a Cornish setting since Dylan and Caitlin got married in Penzance, but my letter is based in Swansea, which was my home for nearly twenty years.   

And, on the subject of poets with a Swansea link and the surname Thomas, we have just ordered a copy of Jeff Towns' new edition of 'Swansea Village' by Edward Thomas. My copy has been tucked away until my birthday, but I'm told it includes contributions from Jeff Towns, Peter Thabit Jones (who published my chapbook), Andrew Green and Peter Stead.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Places of Poetry

Serpentine lectern, Church of St Grade, Cornwall

I have been hoping to 'pin a poem' on the Places of Poetry map for some time, and finally achieved my aim this afternoon (only to discover that my husband, David Gill, had pipped me to the post by a few months!).

The map shadows an earlier poetry project which took the guise of a 15,000 line poem, Poly-Olbion, by Michael Drayton in the seventeenth century. You can read about the new map here, and you can read Drayton's epic if you follow this link to a University of Exeter website about the current project.

The new interactive online map is full of markers, representing poems relating to the sites in question. The map remains live for two more days for those who would still like to pin a poem of their own (please check the conditions if you do this). Thereafter it will remain online for web-users to enjoy as a reading resource. If you find a poem you enjoy, I feel sure the poet who penned it would appreciate a social media-style 'like'.

I recall submitting a northern (Lewis Chessmen) poem, number 185, to the StAnza Poetry Map for Scotland in 2015. And this time, on the new map largely representing England and Wales, I have zoomed down almost as far south as I could go to small cove on The Lizard in Cornwall to post my 2019 poem here. I do not actually mention lecterns in my poem, but the serpentine one in the photo above comes from the same Cornish peninsula and can be seen today in the beautiful church of St Grade.

I mentioned David Gill's poem in this post: you will find it posted along Hadrian's Wall - here. And, on the subject of the Wall, you might also enjoy Paul Farley's Places of Poetry blog post - here.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

National Poetry Day, 2019

The (Dylan Thomas) Boathouse, Laugharne, South Wales

Thursday 3 October 2019 is National Poetry Day here in the UK. It is the 25th anniversary, and this year's theme is TRUTH. You can find Keats' famous take on the subject here.

A few events and resources...
  • the official site - here
  • Suffolk Poetry Society National Poetry Day reading
    When: Thursday 3 October, 1pm – 2pm
    Where: IP15 5BS, Crag Path, Aldeburgh IP15 5BS, UK 
  • The Poetry Society - here
  • National Poetry Day at the BBC - here  

Blogs posts I encountered today (and I may add more)... 
Have a poetic day... and do check out the Twitter hashtag: #NationalPoetryDay ...

Friday, 6 September 2019

PORT, a new volume from Dunlin Press

I am delighted to have a poem in this new book from MW Bewick and Ella Johnston of Dunlin Press. The cover artwork is by Ella Johnston and the volume will be launched in November. More details to follow soon.

For The Migrant Waders, also Dunlin Press and also featuring one of my poems, see an earlier post here.