Wednesday, 21 July 2021

'Driftwood by Starlight' in Cornwall: (3) Zennor and the Mermaid

Zennor, the road to St Senara's church

Those of you who have read the last couple of posts will know that on our recent visit to Cornwall we revisited some of the settings for the poems in my new poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight, published by The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, and available here at the UK price of £6.99.

The photo above shows me in Zennor, a village with many literary associations; writers from D.H. Lawrence to Helen Dunmore and Michael Morpurgo have written about this area. It features in one of my favourite poems, 'Zennor', by Anne Ridler (which I once requested successfully for BBC Poetry Please).  



The churchyard holds a number of interesting memorials. The one below is in memory of Dr William Borlase (1696-1772), Vicar of Zennor and well-known antiquarian.


This following photo shows a plaquel commemorating John Davey, one of the last fluent speakers of Cornish before plans were laid to breathe new life into the language in our own day.  

The slate sundial (1737), which adorns the south wall of the bell tower, bears the name of its maker, Paul Quick. Another local person to bear the surname 'Quick' was Henry Quick, also of Zennor, who was known for his poems.

And finally ... we come to the 'mermaid chair', linked to the local legend about a mortal man who fell in love with a mermaid. How does the story end?

Monday, 19 July 2021

'Driftwood by Starlight' in Cornwall: (2) The Penwith Moors


I have loved the moors in West Penwith for many, many years. The air is clear and there is a feeling of being almost surrounded by the sea, as it laps around edges of the peninsula below. The wide open spaces (no crowds up here, as you can see!) give rise to a sense of history and prehistory. 


Archaeologists and others have long mused over the meaning of the holed stone of granite in the photograph, a stone that has clearly been associated with different purposes at different times in its long existence. I expect a good number of sheep, and possibly cattle, have rubbed up against it over the centuries. The Cornish name for this monument (see signpost above) means simply 'stone with hole'. The orange arrow points to the monument.


You can see one of my favourite tin mine pumping engine houses (over the Greenburrow Shaft) from here. 

This particular mine has a very memorable name. My short poem about it features in my new first full collection of poetry, Driftwood by Starlight, published by The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, and available at the UK price of £6.99.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

'Driftwood by Starlight' in Cornwall: (1) Cadgwith


Photo: David Gill

My first full poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight, was published a few days before David and I headed off to Cornwall, the setting for a number of the poems in the book.

The photograph above shows me on the foreshore at Cadgwith, a small cove on The Lizard peninsula that holds a special place in my heart. I have known and loved this area virtually all my life.

Cadgwith appears on the front cover of my book, thanks to the wonderful night-time photography of Laurence Hartwell of Through the Gaps (thank you, Laurence). What you may, or may not, have noticed is that, serendipitously, there is a boat behind my left shoulder in the photograph above called 'Starlight'. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.


My love affair with Cadgwith came about as a result of a poem by Lionel Johnson, which intrigued and entranced my father, and made him keen to discover the cove for himself back in the 1960s. I quote part of Johnson's poem in the book.  


Cadgwith at low tide, from The Todden

Driftwood by Starlight was published in June 2021 by poet and publisher, Peter Thabit Jones, at The Seventh Quarry Press. Many, but not all, of the poems have coastal settings. In addition to Cornwall, these include Wales (I lived in Swansea for 20 years), Scotland (home to ancestors on my mother's side) and Suffolk (where I live now). If you would like to purchase a copy (£6.99 UK price), please click this link to The Seventh Quarry Shop (online).  

Monday, 14 June 2021

A Book in the Hand ... 'Driftwood by Starlight', my new poetry collection


To my great excitement, 'advance copies' of Driftwood by Starlight, my first full-length poetry collection, have reached my Suffolk home today. Here I am holding my first copy, trying hard to keep the 1- and 2-degree burns on my left hand out of the frame! 


Immense thanks are due to Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry Press, who has enabled this wonderful day to happen. 

Driftwood by Starlight can be purchased from The Seventh Quarry Press online shop here.

Susan Richardson has generously written the back-cover blurb. The following words will give you a flavour of the collection ...





Saturday, 12 June 2021

Publication Day ... 'Driftwood by Starlight', The Seventh Quarry Press


I am excited and delighted to announce that Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea has just published my first single-authored poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight. I am immensely grateful to Peter.

The book can be purchased from the online shop on The Seventh Quarry website - here

Fellow poet, Susan Richardson, has written the following words:


Laurence Hartwell generously provided the cover photograph of Cadgwith Cove on The Lizard in Cornwall, UK.  

As it happens, one of my poems in the collection, Elegy for Idris Davies, is currently a Poem of the Month on the SecondLight website here

Friday, 28 May 2021

'On a Knife Edge', a new anthology from Suffolk Poetry Society


This book has just been published by Suffolk Poetry Society as a response to the diminishing state of nature. It forms part of a collaboration between the Society and The Lettering Arts Trust (Snape), where an exhibition of the same name opens in July. I am delighted to have two poems and a micro-poem about IUCN red-listed species included. 

The topic resonates closely with Robert Macfarlane's work (supported by Jackie Morris and her artwork) in response to an increasing concern over the fact that 'nature words' (the 'lost words': see here) were being removed from the 2007 edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Apparently space was needed for words deemed more valuable in a digital and technical age. You can read my post here about a previous exhibition at The Lettering Arts Trust on this subject. 

On a Knife Edge was primarily created by Derek Adams, Lynne Nesbit, Beth Soule and Colin Whyles. It can be purchased here.  

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Workshop on Columba by Alex Aldred, Poet in Residence, Historic Environment Scotland


Approaching Iona by CalMac ferry from Mull

The photo above brings back many happy memories of days on Iona, the small and very beautiful island where Columba is said to have landed with twelve followers in 563 AD.

David, who is a member of Historic Environment Scotland, mentioned that a series of creative writing workshops were being run on Zoom by HES to mark the birth of Columba 1500 years ago. I was keen to find out more and signed up for the first, which took place this evening on the topic of Columba, the Exile.   

Alex Aldred, Poet in Residence for Historic Environment Scotland, led the workshop, giving participants information on Columba, along with prompts for creative writing and time for the sharing of our ideas. It was a very enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, and I have come away (so to speak) with a raft of enthusiasm, pages of notes and a couple of poems in draft.  

The workshop inspired me to revisit my Iona photos, taken on several occasions ...

The Abbey on Iona (2014)

Exquisite cloister carving by Chris Hall

Fabulous beaches on Iona

Crystal-clear water

The view from the ferry

Setting sail for Fionnphort, Mull

One of my abiding memories is of the colossal wave of wingbeats as the wild geese hurtled up the Sound. 

Of all the Inner Hebridean islands, Skye is the one I know best. It contains a small inland island named after Columba. It is a tranquil (if usually damp) spot, and a beautifully tucked-away corner of the Misty Isle.   

St Columba's Isle, Skye

Thank you, Alex, for an inspiring evening.