Saturday, 19 June 2010

Window on Wildlife (13): Wild and Wonderful

Damselfly at Dinefwr

I feel the time has come to post my wildlife photographs on a separate blog, so this post is to introduce you to Wild and Wonderful.

This 'Caroline at Coastcard' blog here will focus more specifically on poetry and writing from now on.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Magazine Moment (10): Reach Poetry: Loch Coruisk

The brooding waters of Loch Coruisk

My poem, 'Turner's Loch Coruisk, Skye' has been published in Reach Poetry, issue 141, June 2010 (Indigo Dreams Publishing, editors Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling).

You may be amused to hear that Wendy Webb's poem about my last visit to Loch Coruisk appears in her volume, A Mermaid's Tale (Wendy Webb Books 2010). You can read more here on my Land&Lit blog.

Media Mix (5): What is Poetry For? The Guardian

You can read the article here. A measure of excitement mounts as we await the announcement of the new Oxford Professor of Poetry.
P.S. Poetry in the recent Honours to mark the Queen's Official Birthday: here

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Web Watch (1): Second Light Poet Page

A dram

This one is outside the home
of the composer, Joseph Parry, in Merthyr Tydfil,
but it is similar to the ones
that Idris Davies would have known
in the Rhymney Valley.

My Poet Page is now live on the Second Light site. You can view it here. It includes my poem, 'Elegy for Idris Davies', which was published in The Second Quarry (#3, Winter 2006). See: The Guardian, 15 April 2006: review, ‘Boats, bards and bomb shelters’ by Travis Elborough.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Magazine Moment (12) (8): Cultural Horizon Magazine (Romania)

Daniel Dragomirescu, editor-in-chief of Contemporan Orizont Literar has posted about a new anthology, under the imprint of the magazine. It will contain a sample of my work. You can read about it here:
Daniel's piece about the development of Contemporan Orizont Literar, a bilingual Romanian/English international and cultural magazine is now on the web here. I work as an occasional External Collaborator for the publication, conducting 'Dialoguri Galezi' - or interviews with poets here in Wales. Thank you, Daniel, for your kind words in the report!

Do consider taking out a subscription by PayPal (details here). You can read more about the magazine here and here - and you can always leave a comment on the Contemporary Horizon site, if you feel you would like to make a response.

Conservation Corner (6): Biodiversity Week, Wales

"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come."

Chinese saying

Better late than never: I have just stumbled across the fact that this is Biodiversity Week in Wales. If you live in Wales, you can find out about your local Biodiversity Record Centre here. You may have heard about the iSpot website on BBC Springwatch, where you can share information (and images) about nature. You may care to look at the Springwatch Wild Day Out page.

I noticed that Kenfig Nature Reserve celebrates the week with its first sighting of a Cypress Carpet moth, Thera cupressata: what a great name!

There are other initiatives and websites, too:
  • Coed Cadw | the Woodland Trust has an ancient tree trail through Bute Park, with packs and sticker books.
  • Activities in the Trefechan and Merthyr area, including bat detecting, poetry and bushcraft skills
  • Swansea and Gower events include a number of Seashore Safaris.
  • What biodiversity means in Swansea
N.B. Please don't forget the RSPB Make Nature Count survey of garden birds and mammals ... the details are here.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Anthology Alert (5): 'Crab Lines off the Pier'

Fishing Gear,

I mentioned in an earlier post that my poem 'The Ocean's Tears' had been included in Crab Lines Off The Pier, the new summer anthology from editors Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling of Indigo Dreams Publishing.

The book has just arrived, and I have much enjoyed an initial browse. Apparently there were over 600 submissions from all over the world.

As a left-hander, I tend to begin browsing from the back, and was delighted to take a trip down Memory Lane as I read Catherine Graham's evocative poem about The Hoppings on Town Moor, Newcastle. Back in 1980 during my first summer as a student, I recall the excitement surrounding the arrival of the big fair known as The Hoppings.

To switch to the other end of the country, I have much enjoyed Ronnie's beautiful and lyrical poem, 'On Crockern Tor', Dartmoor. Closer to home, 'Crabbing on the Parrog' by Tina Negus evokes those days on the beach with seaweed and muddy pools. Claire Knight's beautiful Haibun re-captures the essence of a broom-clad Cornish cliff forty years on. Gerald Hampshire prefers his crabs in Whitby, with its jet 'black silt'. Pamela Scott takes us a little further afield to Paris, while Thelma Laycock presses on for midnight in Alaska.

Do consider buying a copy to accompany you on your travels or on those 'deckchair-in-the-garden' afternoons. You can read my earlier post here; and more to the point, you can buy the book here. Thank you, Ronnie and Dawn.

And now all I need is a burst of sun!

Archeological Avenues (4): OUP - HMS Belvidera and the Temple of Minerva

Cast of the 'Horse of Selene'
British Museum

David (Gill) and I have just received our offprints for our joint piece, HMS Belvidera and the Temple of Minerva, published by Oxford University Press in Notes and Queries. The print journal came out in June.

We consider the iconographical details on a marble book, and link these to HMS Belvidera and the Parthenon around 1832, when King Otto was crowned ruler of Greece. You may like to read my blog post here.
  • D.W.J. Gill and C. Gill, 'HMS Belvidera and the Temple of Minerva', Notes and Queries, Vol 255 of the Continuous Series [New series, Vol. 57], No.2 (June 2010): 199-210
N.B. 'Notes and Queries Advance Access' scheme: you can login via Athens if you are part of an academic community.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Window on Wildlife (12): Damselflies

These creatures begin life in the water and move out from it as they develop. We have about forty types of Dragonfly and Damselfly in the UK. More than twenty species can be seen at WWT Llanelli. I am wondering how many varieties I have spotted here and at Dinefwr near Llandeilo.

This is my first attempt at identifying the different kinds of Damselfly, and I am finding it a tricky task. If any reader can put me straight over wrong identifications, I would be very grateful!

WWT Llanelli


Enallagma cyathigerum - Common Blue Damselfly



Ischnura elegans - Blue-tailed Damselfly



Enallagma cyathigerum - Common Blue Damselfly



Enallagma cyathigerum Common Blue Damselfly


Ischnura elegans - Blue-tailed Damselfly

The ‘threads’ here indicate a damselfly recently emerged from the aquatic nymph phase.
My thanks to Professor P. Brain for this information.



Enallagma cyathigerum - Common Blue Damselfly


Enallagma cyathigerum - Common Blue Damselfly


Ischnura elegans - Blue-tailed Damselfly



Ischnura elegans - Blue-tailed Damselfly



This may be the...

Pyrrhosoma nymphula - Large Red Damselfly

N.B. Each letter - [a], [b] etc. - is meant to represent an individual Damselfly in the photo below.
There may, of course, be more than one picture of the same species!

My previous post is largely about the Dragonfly.

Window on Wildlife (11): Dragonflies

These creatures begin life in the water and move out from it as they develop. We have about forty types of Dragonfly and Damselfly in the UK. More than twenty species can be seen at WWT Llanelli. I am wondering how many varieties I have spotted here and at Dinefwr near Llandeilo.

I am a total novice at Dragonfly identification; any help here would be appreciated!


? Aeshna juncea - Common Hawker

P.S. July 2010: For an update on this I.D. [i], please see comments below!



Sympetrum striolatum - Common Darter



Sympetrum striolatum - Common Darter



Sympetrum striolatum - Common Darter (female)


I have not been able - as yet - to identify this Dragonfly.
It had compact heavy features
and seemed to enjoy dive-bombing, 'helicopter-style', into the water.

Same as above

Same as above

Same as above

Same as above:
I think it may be a Chaser
(having looked at a Four-Spotted Chaser on the Kenfig blog here)


I think this is a Hawker of some description!

Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum
Family Libellulidae - Chasers, Skimmers and Darters

N.B. I have attempted to give each individual Dragonfly a number e.g. [vi],
which will appear just above a its photograph.
It is possible that there may be more than one example of any species.

I will focus on the Damselfly in my next post.

Carnival Time (8): Guardian Hay Festival

More Images
from the Guardian Hay Festival 2010

N.B. Wordle to right...

The Wiggly Worm Garden
'Relax Explore Learn Enjoy'
Wiggly Wigglers is an award-winning natural garden company

Above and below

Magnetic Butterflies
winging messages from individuals
in the SkyArts Tent

We had fun decorating our butterflies...
... and even more fun trying to get them to stick to the mesh on the roof!


The Swimming Reindeer

Late Magdalenian, approx. 12,500 years old.
Provenance: rock shelter of Montastruc, Tarn et Garonne, France
British Museum

We so enjoyed the inspirational event by Neil MacGregor,
Director of the British Museum,
on his Radio 4 series,
'A History of the World in 100 Objects'

After the talk we were able to handle a few objects, like this remarkable piece.

All in all, it was a great day out...
and even the weather was glorious!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Poetry Events (3): The Seventh Quarry at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive

No.5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea - at dusk

Dr Tino Villanueva
signs his books
after the reading in 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea,
home of Dylan Thomas.
June 2010

Last Friday evening, I was invited an event hosted by Peter Thabit Jones, editor of The Seventh Quarry in the fascinating home of Dylan Thomas, no.5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea.

Dr Tino Villanueva read a number of his poems in English and Spanish. Some poems were in both English and Spanish. Tino spoke of his fascination for words, and of his love for Dylan's poetry. Tino, who is on the staff of Boston University, is seen as 'a Chicano poet of bicultural word and history.'

I was invited to read my poem, 'Migration Mirage', which appears on p.49 of The Seventh Quarry, issue 11, Winter 2010.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Magazine Moment (11): TIPS for Writers 77

The latest issue [77] of TIPS for Writers (Wendy Webb Books) sports a fine watercolour drawing of Norwich Cathedral on the cover, from the hand of John Tatum. It is a view I know well and love dearly, from my teenage years in Norfolk.
The magazine begins with congratulations to Tina Negus, 2010 winner of the Margaret Munro Gibson Competition for a Comic Poem, adjudicated by Alison Chisholm. In this week in which Matt Merritt of Polyolbion mused (after the appearance of a Marmora Warbler on a certain hill beginning with 'B' near Abergavenny) on the pairing of Blorenge with orange, it was a delight to read about the Green-backed Turple who rhymes with purple! Congratulations, Tina, on a worthy win. I defy anyone to read the poem with a straight face...

Congratulations also to Peter Davies and Pam Gidney, whose poems took 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Incidentally if shelled creatures are your 'thing', you will also enjoy The Turtle by Geoff Williams on p.13. Voice of the Turtle by Norman Bissett on p.17 turns out to be about a Turtle Dove.

Despite the very English cover scene, the issue has a European flavour to it. Wendy has written Fib and Pleiades poems about Italy, and I enjoyed reading Norman Bissett's 'jaffa-hued' interpretation of the Duomo in Florence. The wry humour of Schoolboy Poet by Gerald Hampshire brings us back to the tower blocks and pigeons of home.

In more Romantic mode, we find Claire Knight's majestic Summer Moon sonnet, with its 'owl in silence on the wing'. The issue ends with a Foreword by Pamela Trudie Hodge to Wendy's new publication, How the Mermaid Lost her Voice, and a review of the Mermaid series by Bernard Jackson.

TIPS for Writers costs £3 per issue and is a print magazine. eTIPS is a free pdf which can be delivered to your inbox on request. You can find Wendy's email here if you would like to receive the monthly ezine or would like to take out a subscription to the full print magazine.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Magazine Moment (10): Quill and Parchment (USA) - Featured Photographer

I am grateful to editor, Sharmagne Leland-St. John, for inviting me to join her as her fellow 'Featured Photographer' for the June issue of the subscription online magazine, Quill and Parchment.

If you would like to see my photographs of Wales in the magazine, you are invited to follow the link here, and type the following Guest Passwords into the box that will appear when you click on Sharmagne's cover photograph of Tynemouth Castle (a site I know well from my years in Newcastle):

NAME: june

I hope you enjoy the issue!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Carnival Time (7): Guardian Hay Festival

We had a terrific day at Hay yesterday, despite overcast skies. We arrived and I enjoyed a Fair Trade coffee and an enormous Danish pastry to set me up for the morning. We had tickets for the CADW talk by John Davies (A History of Wales), and for Richard Perceval Graves at the Housman Society event. Sadly for the organisers, there were not as many festival-goers as usual. Perhaps it was the rain or perhaps the recession.

While I was browsing in the Poetry Bookshop, I heard that it had featured in a Telegraph article (20 April 2010) on the best independent bookshops in Britain - which you can read here. I hope the Guardian podcast will be posted soon...

It is always fun to wander round the site. We took a box of books to the the Oxfam stall, and were given a couple of festival event tickets as a 'thank you'. The festival bookshop has book signings and an amazing range of books on subjects ranging from the nature of clouds to the objects in the British Museum.

We had a picnic lunch between events, and then set off on the shuttle bus to visit the bookshops in town. The Poetry Bookshop is always my first port of call. On this occasion there was great excitement as Guardian reporters were in the process of making a podcast. We have just watched Bright Star (a compelling and unusual film with amazing photography), and was delighted to buy a book on Keats and his circle.

So why would I recommend a visit to the Hay Festival? Well, for a start, it would be good to see people sitting in these empty chairs (photo below)!

Seriously, it makes a great day out for everyone and is a good place to meet up with friends. There is no admission to the site, though there is a charge for the car parks. Our car park fee gave us shuttle bus tickets, so once we had parked, we could leave the car all day and explore the festival and the shops in town with ease. The festival organisers take fair trade, recycling and green issues pretty seriously.