Friday, 22 September 2017

From India to the Fens: Poetry, Prose... and Cuckoos

Lantern Tower, Ely Cathedral, UK
The latest annual edition of Metverse Muse, edited by Dr. H. Tulsi, has just arrived from India. It contains a small selection of my poems, including one about a Cornish mining valley and one set in the very different landscape of the Fens. 

Ship of the Fens rising from the Isle of Ely

I am currently reading a splendid book about the Cuckoos who breed on Wicken Fen. Years ago we lived in a village poised between the edge of Cambridge (on the one hand) and the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens (on the other). Wicken Fen, in the care of the National Trust, was always a favourite haunt, and indeed remains one of our top destinations for a day out, despite the fact we have a bit further to travel these days.

Cuckoo by Nick Davies (Bloomsbury) bears the subtitle 'Cheating by Nature'. It is, in effect, a fascinating detective story, revealing how the Common Cuckoos at Wicken Fen 'cheat' on their Reed Warbler hosts, ensuring that the Cuckoo egg is given the best chance of survival. Nick Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Cambridge, and what I particularly appreciate about the book is the clarity with which Davies writes, enabling those of us without backgrounds in science to journey with him in his discoveries. His enthusiasm is infectious, and although I knew little about Cuckoos at the outset, my eyes are steadily being opened to their strange place in our ecosystem. This is an exquisite book of lucid and compelling prose. The field drawings by James McCallum are a delight. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Celebrations Afoot at Orizont Literar Contemporan (Romania)

With Professor Donald Riggs in Philadelphia, 2011

I was delighted to receive this link today, taking me through to a summary of what has been a truly international rollercoaster of a decade for Daniel Dragomirescu and his colleagues who work tirelessly across languages and genres to produce Orizont Literar Contemporan, the self-styled 'world in a journal'.

This literary magazine, celebrating its 60th issue, has now been in production for ten years, and you have only to read the summary of its history to see how it has evolved, expanded and diversified during this time. There is a huge library of multicultural books and now a Dictionary of writers' biographies.

Thanks to Daniel, Katherine Gallagher and others, I have been associated with the journal for much of its existence. It has been a pleasure to introduce a number of poet friends from Wales and elsewhere through my early Dialoguri interviews, and friends from Suffolk and beyond through other ventures. It has been a wonderful way of making new literary friends, too, from a range of countries.

I am grateful to the teams of translators (see this post by Anne Stewart) who work so hard behind the scenes, ensuring that a poem, for example, can appear in up to three languages, most frequently Romanian, Spanish and English.

Many happy returns to Daniel and his A Team! Here's to the next decade and the next 60+ issues...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Spirit of The Stour Festival - A Poetry Recital

Readers at the Poetry Recital (photo: James Clarke)

Here we all are at the foot of the elegant staircase in the Munnings Museum after the Poetry Recital on the theme of the 'natural world', hosted last night by the museum staff in conjunction with the museum's Poet-in-Residence, Tim Gardiner. 

Poets who took part...
Front row: Matt Annis, Alex Davis, Tim Gardiner (Master of Ceremonies for the evening), Sue Wallace-Shaddad, Alex Toms, Caroline Gill
Middle row: Emily Hasler and Ian Griffiths
Back row: Gerry Donlon, Rebecca Goss, Judith Wolton and David Gill.

Tim introduced each poet who proceeded to read a set lasting about ten minutes. It was a most enjoyable evening. I would like to thank Museum Director, Jenny Hand, and her team for their hospitality and Tim for all the work he put into organising the poetry side of things.   

David Gill taking us to the Inner Hebrides...

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Third Prize in Milestones Competition judged by Brian Patten

The Milestones Competition, organised by WriteOutLoud on behalf of the Milestone Society, was judged by Brian Patten. The results have just been announced, and I am delighted to say that my entry, 'Penwith Finger Stone' gained me Third Prize from a field of over 500 entries. Huge congratulations to my fellow poets who took First and Second Prize, and to the winner of the Under 16s section: their names are listed on the web and you can follow the 'results' link above.

My poem can be found here, together with bio-details etc.

Thank you to Brian Patten, Steve Pottinger, Greg Freeman and all who have been involved with the competition in one way or anther. Thank you, too, to Paul McGrane at The Poetry Society for this press release.

At Zennor Quoit in the 1980s

The milestone I wrote about stands in Penwith, near the coastal village of Zennor, with its 'mermaid chair' in the church and other notable features. The poem, 'Zennor', by Anne Ridler is discussed here, and is among my favourites.

Sadly I do not have a photo of the stone, so I am posting a few of my photos of this magnificent and rugged area between Land's End and St Ives in which it lies. 

At Zennor Church on a rather grey day, about 2001

The legendary Zennor Mermaid with her mirror

A plaque in Zennor Churchyard in recognition of John Davey, speaker of the Cornish language
1737 sundial, Zennor

Monday, 14 August 2017

'Spirit of the Stour' Festival Reading at The Munnings Museum, Dedham

Constable Country: The Stour, between Dedham and Flatford Mill

David (Gill) and I are looking forward to reading our poems alongside ten other poets at The Munnings Museum in Dedham in Essex on Friday 8 September 2017. The evening recital of poetry of the theme of the natural world is being organised by the museum's 2017 Poet-in-Residence, Dr Tim Gardiner.

Online tickets for the event are on sale here. Do come and support the event if you can!

Further details can be found here

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Parson Hawker of Morwenstow Poem

My Parson Hawker of Morwenstow poem features in the current edition of Reach Poetry, #225, Indigo Dreams Publishing. Morwenstow is a favourite haunt on the North Cornish coast, with its wild scenery. Hawker's Hut is a fascinating shack, almost built into the cliff.