Wednesday 25 November 2009

Window on Wildlife (10): Biodiversity Countdown 2010

I only discovered very late in the day that NRAS has designated 2009 as 'The Year of Rheumatoid Arthritis'. It is a shame that so many months have gone by, but good nonetheless that there is this opportunity for heightened awareness and for the sharing of new initiatives.


On quite a different note, but still on the subject of special years, I see from the RSPB/RSPB Cymru that the countdown has already begun for 2010, the UN International Year of Biodiversity.

If this all seems a bit far removed from the average person in the street, or even the birder in the hide, I wonder what ideas we could come up with to increase the impact of the initiative at a local level - or in a way that has relevance for those we encounter via the virtual world of the web.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Beautiful Birds (15): 'Crow Country' by Mark Cocker

Above: corvid capers...

I was delighted to learn that Mark Cocker had won the £2000 New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature, awarded by the Ipswich Institute for a book 'set in or influenced by the East Anglian region.' Many congratulations to Mark.

If you have not read this remarkable book about corvids in their natural habitat and a man's desire to chart their lifestyle, I would highly recommend that you add 'Crow Country' to your Christmas wishlist. You will find details of it in my Amazon 'Buy a Book' sidebar on this blog (you may - or may not - have to click p.2, as the order is random, I think, and seems to change!).

Meg Rosoff took second place and the late Roger Deakin's book (already on my list to read), 'Notes from Walnut Tree Farm', was highly commended.


P.S. Friday: I have just watched BBC Autumnwatch, and enjoyed seeing the Norfolk footage of Simon King with Mark Cocker, watching the amazing dawn and pre-roost dusk spectacles of the airborne corvids.

P.P.S. Tuesday: I have just been enjoying pictures of large numbers of Lesser Snow Geese in the air over on the Rock Paper Lizard blog. Do take a look. I have also greatly enjoyed the article in The Observer on the phenomenon of bird watching. Thank you to Matt of Polyolbion for pointing this out. There are a number of bird books mentioned in the article: my Christmas wishlist is about to multiply!

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Window on Wales (2): South Wales Writers' Day 2009

We had a very blustery ride over to Porthcawl last Saturday for the annual South Wales Writers' Day, organised for those who care to come and, in particular, for the members of the four Ready Writer groups along the M4 (Porthcawl, Llantrisant, Blackwood and Swansea). The groups are associated to the Association of Christian Writers.

We had a Gower theme this year. You can read more about 'A Gander's Tale' on my Land&Lit pages here, and on the Ready Writers blog here. The book can be purchased or downloaded here.

We met in The Rest Hotel, a large building high up on the cliff above Rest Bay in Porthcawl. It used to be a respite care home. Florence Nightingale was consulted about the design way back in 1871, when there was talk of a new convalescent home for the area. You can read more about Florence Nightingale and the hotel here.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Creature Feature (11): Wales News - Dolphins use Jellyfish in ocean football

We watched these dolphins (in the photos above and immediately below) in the Moray Firth,
near Fort George, Scotland, in September 2009

We spotted these Bottlenose Dolphins (in the photo below) off Pembrokeshire, Wales

Those who read my blog regularly will know that I enjoy keeping up with Professor P. Brain's ecological and environmental discoveries. This story about Bottlenose Dolphins particularly caught my eye.

Monday 9 November 2009

Poetry Matters (11): Knitted Poem

The Poetry Society's Centenary 'Knitted Poem' will be on display in Swansea's Dylan Thomas Centre from 10am to 4.30pm until 19 November 2009. The poem can be seen in the Centre's theatre, where visitors can walk around it and appreciate its full glory.

The 13 x 9 metre, hand-knitted version of ‘In my Craft or Sullen Art’ by Dylan Thomas was unrolled at the British Library in London for National Poetry Day on 7 October.

Friday 6 November 2009

Poets win Prizes (1): Wendy Webb and Claire Knight

Wendy (left) with me outside the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea

Many congratulations to Wendy Webb (of TIPS for Writers, Norfolk Poets & Writers, and Wendy Webb Books) for taking second prize, with her poem, The Sap is Rising, in the Live Canon Poetry Competition.

My congratulations, too, to (fellow TIPS poet) Claire Knight for winning the New Zealand International Poetry Competition, Haiku Section. Claire has also had a Haiku accepted for publication in the Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar for 2010.

Monday 2 November 2009

Media Mix (4): PoetCasting comes to Swansea

Alex Pryce, founder of PoetCasting (left), with me at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea
Photo: ©
David Gill 2009

Readers of my Land&Lit blog will know that it is Dylan Thomas Festival time in Swansea. David and I went down to the Dylan Thomas Centre on Saturday to meet Alex Pryce of PoetCasting.

Alex set up the PoetCasting project in April 2007, with support from Ignite! and NESTA. Poetcasting has received funding from The Arts Council England since July 2008. Ignite! promotes creativity in learning and encourages creative development in young people. Initially a pilot project at NESTA, Ignite Futures Ltd. now exists as an independent and not for profit organisation.

Alex, poet and podcaster, has been dubbed the ‘one to watch' in the art world by judges of the Women of the Future Award. Alex was awarded the Booz & Company Art and Culture Woman of the Future Award, and was the youngest category winner when she was 20 years old. The award was for her work in conceiving and launching PoetCasting, which showcases poets who share the medium of the internet as a place where poets can be read and heard.

David has developed a number of (audio-visual) Podcasts for teaching purposes, and was interested in the applications of audio poetry. I was particularly impressed by the range of poets represented by PoetCasting. I enjoyed listening to the poets reading their own work. It was especially good to find the familiar names of fellow bloggers, Susan Richardson and Matt Merritt among the cast of those who had recorded work for the project. The Dylan Thomas Festival is dedicated to the memory of Aeronwy Thomas this year, and I was delighted to read that Aeronwy features on the PoetCasting iPod Shuffles, alongside the voices of more than 160 other poets.

PoetCasting is an amazing initiative. Do go and discover more if you find that Alex is visiting your area.

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