Sunday 11 December 2016

Barn Owl Poem in Reach Poetry #219

Barn Owl

I am grateful to editor, Ronnie Goodyer, of Indigo Dreams Publishing for including my poem, 'Barn Owl, Flatford', in the December 2016 issue of Reach Poetry. Like most poets I respond to what I see as well as to what I feel, and I well remember the thrill back in 2012 of watching the owl swooping over the snow in this landscape known so well to John Constable.  

Flatford Mill
The photos below were the best I could manage at the time. As you can see, the light had all but gone. But there is something magical about Barn Owls in the snow! 

Monday 5 December 2016

Matthew Stewart's Best U.K. Poetry Blogs of 2016

New Vistas (boardwalk to the bird hide, Tregaron, Wales)

It is the season of lists and annual reviews, and I am delighted and honoured to find that this blog has a mention in the Rogue Strands line-up of Best U.K. Poetry Blogs of 2016. Thank you so much to Matthew Stewart for this inclusion.

Thank you, Matthew, as well, for drawing my attention to the other blogs in the list. I have followed some of these with interest for a while, but the others will open up new vistas and provide fresh paths of poetic exploration in the days to come.

P.S. I cannot decide whether this is related or a bit 'off-topic', but I have just seen this list of favourite 2016 poetry book covers (I believe most, but not all, are North American) on C.A. LaRue's Bonespark blog. It may be of interest to you, as it was to me.  

Saturday 3 December 2016

Zoomorphic's 'Driftfish' anthology - edited by Susan Richardson and James Roberts

Driftfish is a new anthology of poetry and prose about marine wildlife. But let's be more specific: the book is 'dedicated' (and I seem to hear a double-entendre) to marine wildlife, as it says on the Zoomorphic site.

Poetry editor, Susan Richardson, and prose editor, James Roberts, have produced a fine publication that not only looks and feels good, but is also packed with vibrant words and exquisite images evoking the creatures of our fragile, and often threatened, marine environments. I am delighted that my poem, 'Quills and Spills', has been included.

The volume was launched last weekend in Brighton and is available for online purchase from this page of the Zoomorphic site. It could be just the gift you were hoping to find...

  • Zoomorphic (the online literary journal 'in celebration and defence of wild animals')

Friday 11 November 2016

Disability Arts Cymru Poetry Competition 2016

I was thrilled to receive an envelope this morning containing my First Prize in the 2016 Disability Arts Cymru Poetry Competition. Poets were encouraged to write in response to art work, which is always an appealing idea; but this year we had the added topical but paradoxical theme of 'austerity and extravagance' to take into account.

'Shoreline Symphony' by Eileen Harrisson was my artistic starting point (9th canvas down on the left side of this link).

So why the photo of rope and gull prints on an otherwise empty beach? My poem was set in what had once been a flourishing harbour. You can guess the rest.

Friday 4 November 2016

Poetry Workshop at Poetry in Aldeburgh

I have just returned from a Poetry in Aldeburgh workshop in the Lookout on the beach. It was a grey November afternoon, but we had a small log burner to keep us warm, and plenty of energy flowing freely through our pens. The workshop's title was 'Edge of the Depths' (the sea, the sea - what else?) and was led by Anne-Marie Fyfe. What an inspiring start to the Festival. Thank you, Anne-Marie.

Coming home, with two compulsory items - a book and a bag. 

The book in my hand is just out, and exquisitely produced by Eye Wild Books. Its title is Conversations with Birds, and the poet is Ian Griffiths, former Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society. The wonderful artwork is by Carol Lawrence. Do consider obtaining a copy of this publication.

 You can hardly see the sea,
but I can assure you it was visible
through the Lookout doors.

Aldeburgh beach, outside the Lookout

Last glance at the Lookout before I made my way home...

Saturday 3 September 2016

St Govan's Chapel Poem published in 'Seeing Beyond The Surface'

St Govan's Chapel © D&C Gill

I have just had a poem, 'Above St Govan's Chapel', published in a rather unusual book.

Seeing beyond the Surface is 'a lighthearted and uplifting compilation of short stories and poems by and about people with disabilities'. Joanna Swank, the editor, writes in the context of assessing our fellow human beings, that 'it is a great thing to see what is beneath the surface.'

This volume has just been published and proceeds will benefit Abilities Solutions in Westville, New Jersey, USA.

Most of the contributors are based in the USA, but there are a couple of us from the UK. Another volume is in the pipeline, and if you might be interested in making a submission to Joanna, please visit the Seeing beyond the Surface website here.

My poem arose out of a visit to the chapel in a cleft in the cliff at St Govan's in Pembrokeshire, Wales. I was both elated (by the scene, and also by the Choughs that clipped the turf) and frustrated (by the access to the chapel itself). 'Above St Govan's Chapel' was written as part of a Disability Arts Cymru project, which resulted in the publication of Hidden Dragons/Gwir a Grymus, an anthology published by Parthian and launched at the Hay Festival in 2004.  

Thursday 2 June 2016

Poetry News ...

After a relatively quiet spell on the poetry front, a couple of things came at once.

Orizont Literar Contemporan
I was delighted to have three poems published in English and Romanian in issue 52 of Orizont Literar Contemporan. The poems in question were a Tritina called 'Isle of Skye: Aquiline Encounter' (1/2010), an On-ce poem called 'Pompeii; a Tale of Two Dogs' (14/2010), and finally, 'Migration Mirage' (6/2005), which was first published in The Seventh Quarry. My thanks to editor-in-chief, Daniel Dragomirescu, and translator, Florian D. Mirea.


The 3rd Festival of Suffolk Poetry

David and I were invited to read for Arlington's Poetry Cafe in Ipswich (photos here and Festival Report by Deborah Wargate here). I decided to focus on poems inspired by other writers, so my set comprised the following pieces: 'Monte Testaccio: Mound of Potsherds' (53/2003), with its references to Keats, 'On Emily's Moor' (13/2004), about the landscape portrayed in Wuthering Heights - and finally 'Pepys Island' (12/2014), concerning a phantom area of land, supposedly at latitude of 47º south.  My first poem, 'Monte Testaccio ...' comes from my chapbook, The Holy Place, co-authored with John Dotson and published by The Seventh Quarry (Swansea) in conjunction with Cross-Cultural Communications (New York).

Reading for Arlington's Poetry Cafe at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket

Monday 16 May 2016

'Immagine e Poesia' International Ekphrastic eBook 2016

Atlantic Puffin (at one time 2000+ spent part of the year on Puffin Island)

I am delighted to have a poem, 'Penmon Song', about Puffin Island off Anglesey (itself an island off the north-west tip of Wales) in the new 2016 Immagine e Poesia eBook anthology produced and edited by Lidia Chiarelli (Italy) and Huguette Bertrand (the Canadian representative of the Immagine e Poesia movement).

My poem has been paired with artwork by Jongo Park from South Korea. 

The eBook is free and can be downloaded from this link.

Thursday 21 April 2016

'The Migrant Waders' from Dunlin Press

This is the day on which The Migrant Waders will be launched in Colchester.

This beautiful book is lavishly and exquisitely illustrated by designer Ella Johnston. You can see some of her drawings on the accompanying poster here in the Dunlin Press shop. The book, beautifully produced and edited by MW Bewick and Ella Johnston of Dunlin Press, is 'a collection of illustration, evocative prose, poetry and reportage that follows the migration routes of wading and shore birds from the high arctic to the tropics.'

One of the contributors, Samantha Franks, is a Research Ecologist with the BTO. Martin Harper is the Conservation Director of the RSPB.

My Bittern poem has been included; and in a serendipitous way, I see the RSPB have just posted a piece by Rachael Murray about this elusive bird, known more often by sound than its sighting. The Bittern, as I recall, was one of the threatened species to feature in the RSPB 'Conservation' board game that we used to play in the mid 1970s. I saw my first Bittern some thirty years later at Minsmere, and have since seen - and heard - a few more on the reserve. 

P.S. You may have found the same post on both my main blogs today. Birds and poetry seem to cover and span two key points of my (blogworld) focus. I was going to throw a link here (or over at Wild and Wonderful), but I decided it made sense to me to re-post in full.

Saturday 16 April 2016

'Treasure' Poems at UCS

David (Gill) reading his Sorley MacLean tribute poem about Hallaig on the Hebridean island of Raasay

We had an excellent Open Mic Poetry Evening last night on the theme of 'Treasure', organised by Suffolk Poetry Society. David, pictured above, hosted the event at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) on behalf of UCS Heritage Futures. My poem, written for the occasion, concerned a tiny scrap of woven silk dating from Roman times, on display in Colchester Museum.

Raasay (birthplace of poet Sorley MacLean), looking across to Skye and the Cuillin

Friday 8 April 2016

Poem about Turkey in Reach Poetry magazine

Çay - in tulip glasses

My poem, 'Turkish Tesselations', has been published in the April issue (#211) of Reach Poetry, one of three magazines from Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Reach Poetry is now in its seventeenth year and is a magazine I have always valued. You can find my reasons here. In the words of one of the readers of this blog, 'Hearing Reach Poetry drop through the letter box every month gives a lift to my heart!'

I have not visited Istanbul for over thirty years, but the vibrant colours and exotic flavours left a lasting impression. We made a couple of trips across the water to Uskudar, or Scutari as Florence Nightingale would have known it.

The waterfront at Dolmabahçe, Istanbul, 1984

We revisited Claydon House (National Trust) in Buckinghamshire over Easter, and discovered that Florence Nightingale had resided there for a time.

Thursday 7 April 2016

In Celebration of Wordsworth's Birthday

Outside Rydal Hall, next door to Rydal Mount ... some years ago

Today is William Wordsworth's birthday and the Wordsworth Trust have posted a selection of birthday tribute poems on their blog.

The Trust ran a competition on Twitter, which allows 140 characters per tweet, for poems of up to 140 words. My sonnet, 'A Forsaken Bird's-Nest' (named after a phrase in one of Wordsworth's sonnets), can be found here.

Friday 18 March 2016

The Migrant Waders, a new book from Dunlin Press

I am delighted to have a poem in this forthcoming poetry anthology from Dunlin Press ... 

The book has been compiled, edited and published by MW Bewick and Ella Johnston, and illustrated with Ella's exquisite artwork.  

Coming soon ... from Dunlin Press

Thursday 25 February 2016

Coming Soon: 'The Migrant Waders' from Dunlin Press


Those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear that David and I are members of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT). We joined some years ago when we were living in Swansea, not far from the WWT centre at Llanelli.

Since our return to East Anglia four years ago, we have had some lovely visits to the WWT centre at Welney, near Ely in the Fens. We have much enjoyed the excitement of the winter swan feed season, but have also had the thrill of watching dragonflies and water voles, damselflies and waders on summer visits.

Speaking of the eastern region, I am delighted to say that I have a poem coming out in an anthology of poems and artwork produced by MW Bewick and Ella Johnston, the Dunlin Press editors of Est: Collected reports from East Anglia (2015).

The new book will be called The Migrant Waders. You can read about it here at Dunlin Press.

Friday 29 January 2016

Carillon Sonnet and the Sutton Hoo Shepherd's Hut

I am delighted that my poem, 'From the Shepherd's Hut, Sutton Hoo', has been long-listed in the Carillon 'Sonnets for Charity' Competition. Money raised will go to Worldwide Cancer Research

We moved to Suffolk nearly five years ago, and during my time here I have much enjoyed looking out for some of the remaining shepherds' huts that grace the by-ways of our region. 

Shepherd's Hut at NT Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, UK
 You will see some of my other East Anglian hut photos here (in my Christmas post, 2015).