Saturday 9 November 2019

Poetry in Aldeburgh and the launch of the 'Port' anthology from Dunlin Press

Friday Evening

I have arrived back home after a wonderful day in Aldeburgh, which began with a picnic lunch by the North Lookout and ended with a take-away meal near The Scallop. There was much poetry in between. 

I attended Patricia Debney's stimulating Prose Poetry workshop, and completed a first draft of a new piece (which includes the word 'elephant'). An hour or so after the workshop, David (Gill) and I found ourselves on the Crag Path, making our way towards the Peter Pears Gallery for the launch of the new Port anthology from Dunlin Press.

Ella Johnston and MW Bewick of Dunlin Press introduced their new volume before Rosemary Appleton, Julie Hogg and I each presented a small coastal set including our Port contributions. Thank you, Ella and Martin, for inviting us to be part of this occasion.

The photograph below shows the book along with three of the Portpatrick photo-images that fed into my Port poem.The bird, in case you were wondering, is a Black Guillemot: these birds have red feet and are often referred to as Tysties on Shetland and in some mainland parts of Scotland.

Here we are, with the sea only metres away from the Peter Pears Gallery...

... making it seem very natural that the Port launch should share space with the launch of 48 poets write at the coast, an exquisite pamphlet edited and produced by Maria Isakova Bennett of Coast to Coast to Coast

In between the workshop and the launch David and I refuelled with cups of Earl Grey. No prizes for guessing who chose the slice of chocolate and ginger cake...

After the launch, a few purchases from the book table and a short time at the festival party, we left the gallery and crossed the road for two 'Aldeburgh essentials', otherwise known as two bags of fish and chips, which we devoured by the light of the November moon.

And finally... are a couple of brooding sky photos.

Do visit the...

Saturday 2 November 2019

'Dear Dylan'

Cwmdonkin Park, Swansea

My poem-and-letter submission [9/2019] has been accepted for the 2020 Indigo Dreams Publishing 'Dear Dylan' anthology (to be edited by IDP poet and Cheltenham Poetry Festival Director, Anna Saunders). My poem has a Cornish setting since Dylan and Caitlin got married in Penzance, but my letter is based in Swansea, which was my home for nearly twenty years.   

And, on the subject of poets with a Swansea link and the surname Thomas, we have just ordered a copy of Jeff Towns' new edition of 'Swansea Village' by Edward Thomas. My copy has been tucked away until my birthday, but I'm told it includes contributions from Jeff Towns, Peter Thabit Jones (who published my chapbook), Andrew Green and Peter Stead.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Places of Poetry

Serpentine lectern, Church of St Grade, Cornwall

I have been hoping to 'pin a poem' on the Places of Poetry map for some time, and finally achieved my aim this afternoon (only to discover that my husband, David Gill, had pipped me to the post by a few months!).

The map shadows an earlier poetry project which took the guise of a 15,000 line poem, Poly-Olbion, by Michael Drayton in the seventeenth century. You can read about the new map here, and you can read Drayton's epic if you follow this link to a University of Exeter website about the current project.

The new interactive online map is full of markers, representing poems relating to the sites in question. The map remains live for two more days for those who would still like to pin a poem of their own (please check the conditions if you do this). Thereafter it will remain online for web-users to enjoy as a reading resource. If you find a poem you enjoy, I feel sure the poet who penned it would appreciate a social media-style 'like'.

I recall submitting a northern (Lewis Chessmen) poem, number 185, to the StAnza Poetry Map for Scotland in 2015. And this time, on the new map largely representing England and Wales, I have zoomed down almost as far south as I could go to small cove on The Lizard in Cornwall to post my 2019 poem here. I do not actually mention lecterns in my poem, but the serpentine one in the photo above comes from the same Cornish peninsula and can be seen today in the beautiful church of St Grade.

I mentioned David Gill's poem in this post: you will find it posted along Hadrian's Wall - here. And, on the subject of the Wall, you might also enjoy Paul Farley's Places of Poetry blog post - here.

Thursday 3 October 2019

National Poetry Day, 2019

The (Dylan Thomas) Boathouse, Laugharne, South Wales

Thursday 3 October 2019 is National Poetry Day here in the UK. It is the 25th anniversary, and this year's theme is TRUTH. You can find Keats' famous take on the subject here.

A few events and resources...
  • the official site - here
  • Suffolk Poetry Society National Poetry Day reading
    When: Thursday 3 October, 1pm – 2pm
    Where: IP15 5BS, Crag Path, Aldeburgh IP15 5BS, UK 
  • The Poetry Society - here
  • National Poetry Day at the BBC - here  

Blogs posts I encountered today (and I may add more)... 
Have a poetic day... and do check out the Twitter hashtag: #NationalPoetryDay ...

Friday 6 September 2019

PORT, a new volume from Dunlin Press

I am delighted to have a poem in this new book from MW Bewick and Ella Johnston of Dunlin Press. The cover artwork is by Ella Johnston and the volume will be launched in November. More details to follow soon.

For The Migrant Waders, also Dunlin Press and also featuring one of my poems, see an earlier post here.

Saturday 3 August 2019

Metverse Muse, India

My poem, 'Two Shepherds in Tam-O'-Shanters', has been awarded First Place (Category A) in the Fixed Form Terza Rima Contest for the Metverse Muse, 54th to 56th Triple Issue, ed. Dr. H. Tulsi, India.

Thursday 6 June 2019

The Lost Words - Forget-Me-Not Exhibition

We spent a wet afternoon enjoying this fascinating exhibition, installed in the gallery at the Lettering Arts Centre Trust, part of the Snape Maltings complex. Robert Macfarlane's book, The Lost Words, illustrated with superb art by Jackie Morris, has taken the nation by storm, finding its way into schools, libraries, concert halls, festivals, homes and hearts across the land.

Most will know by now that the book was prompted by the sad fact that a significant number of key nature words - acorn, bluebell, conker, to name but three - were replaced (or superseded) by ones deemed more valuable in the current age, like words to do with technology, in the last edition of The Oxford Junior Dictionary.

This situation has prompted many responses involving music and the other arts. Those who were engaging with aspects of the book for this particular exhibition had used stone-carving techniques to present a number of the lost nature words, such as 'otter', 'fern' and 'newt', in fresh and meaningful ways.

How, I wondered, would these letter-cutter artists prepare a significant piece when each had just one word to interpret in, on or through the medium of stone? I find artistic process fascinating, and I particularly enjoy the creative sparks that fly when one artistic form confronts another in an ekphrastic way.

I know little about stone carving, though I have been interested in the properties of stone for many years. As a child I had a stone polishing machine (in days before we knew it was best to leave stones on the beach). We made jewellery from polished stones at my church youth group for a while when I was a young teenager. Holidays in Cornwall introduced me to serpentine and soapstone - and to sea urchin spines in the sand which I mistook for strontianite!

So I approached the exhibition with curiosity, and was richly rewarded. The exhibition was curated by Lynne Alexander and the exquisite and informative exhibition catalogue, The Lost Words - forget-me not, was edited by Suzy Powling and Lynne Alexander. Not surprisingly the book opens with Forewords from Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane. There is a third Foreword, from Matt Gaw, of Suffolk Wildlife Trust (whose Nature Summit I am about to attend have now attended).

Each of the exhibits has a spacious entry in the catalogue, with an image of the stone artwork of the  Lost Word on each recto side, and prose about the piece opposite, with name, definition, origin and text. Each Lost Word now tells a story in stone: Fiona Flack, who created the artwork for FERN tells how a fossilised fern was her inspiration. Annet Stirling's NEWT caught our eye because she has demonstrated the creature's amphibious 'under water - over water' lifestyle and its precarious existence (presumably as a word and as a creature) by splitting the word horizontally through the middle. Iain Cotton's arresting rendering of OTTER caught my attention because the otters and stone base blend so perfectly. I was not surprised therefore to find that this word was carved on a slate beach pebble from Islay, where otters can sometimes be seen. The pairing of pebble and Lost Word in this instance seemed to be in particular(ly poignant) harmony. I'll end by mentioning Jo Sweeting and a part of her inspiration for her lithe rendering of LARK:

'larks building spires above spires into the sky'

The South Country  
by Edward Thomas

  • My previous posts about the nature words are here and here.

Monday 20 May 2019

2019 Immagine & Poesia E Book, a 100th Birthday Tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti

January 2012, New York

The 2019 Immagine & Poesia E Book of international poems (some in French, some in English) and artworks has been launched. It is a 'Special Edition for Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 100th Birthday' and can be downloaded and viewed online.

I am delighted to have a poem included, a piece inspired by my visit to The Guggenheim in New York, and written in some ways as a response to Ferlinghetti's intriguing poem, 'Spring About To Happen'.

The E Book can be found by clicking the links below.
Poets and artists in the volume come from many different countries, including Italy, France, USA, Canada, UK, South Korea, Mongolia, India, Argentina, Israel, Egypt and Iran. Do take a look.

Thank you so much, Lidia Chiarelli and Huguette Bertrand, for producing this colourful and wide-ranging birthday edition.

Immagine e Poesia was founded in Torino in 2007 under the patronage of the late Aeronwy Thomas, daughter of Dylan Thomas. You can read more about the movement here.

Monday 13 May 2019

6th Festival of Suffolk Poetry

We had a terrific day last Saturday at the 6th Festival of Suffolk Poetry.

I heard lots of poetry, read a couple of poems (one was my Milestones Competition Penwith Finger Stone poem here) and attended a stimulating workshop on 'The Music of Place' led by Grevel Lindop.

HUGE THANKS to Festival Director, Colin (in photo above), the SPS Committee, our guest readers and all who helped to make it such a wonderful occasion.

Arriving early: outside the John Peel Centre, Stowmarket
Felixstowe Poetry Cafe embraced the theme of 'Earth and Space Matters': my poems were more 'earth' than 'space', touching on landscape and language. 

We welcomed Kate Foley as our new President and heard a wonderful song cycle of poems by our outgoing President, James Knox Whittet, set to music by Colin and sung by Lynne Nesbit.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Of Poems and Puffins

Puffins have been in the media recently, featuring in Adam Nicolson's BBC4 series, The Last Seabird Summer? There has also been some delightful footage on Wales, Land of the Wild (also BBC) of Puffins breeding on Skomer, a small island off the Pembrokeshire coast.

I had a Puffin poem published recently in #186 of Orbis (and was delighted to find it had received an Honourable mention in editor Carole Baldock's Readers' Awards). My poem, with an epigraph from The Birds by Aristophanes, a comedy about the original Cloudcuckooland, was prompted by a session I attended at the Norfolk Festival of Nature back in 2015, at which Mark Cocker and Margaret Atwood shared with the audience their concern over the nature words that had been dropped from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. My poem does not follow these words, or indeed the ones that feature in The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, but I wanted to explore the plight of our threatened sea-birds.

Those who live within reach of Snape Maltings in Suffolk may be interested to know that there is an exhibition, 'The Lost Words - Forget me not', at The Lettering Arts Centre until 26th May.

And, speaking of Suffolk, do buy a ticket and come and enjoy the 6th Festival of Suffolk Poetry in Stowmarket on Saturday 11th May.  

Tuesday 30 April 2019

When is a Book not a Book?

Marble memorial

This post may be just a little off-topic, but I have just learned a new word...

B L O O K.

There is even a book about blooks and you can buy it here

According to its author, Mindell Dubansky, blooks are 'books that aren't', and the reason for this is that they are frequently, but by no means exculsively, made of stone like the ones in the memorial above, which adorn the church of St John the Evangelist in Oxborough, Norfolk. 

My interest in blooks stems from a piece about a small marble book I co-authored in 2010 with my husband, David Gill. It was published in OUP's Notes & Queries, volume 57. Little did I realise at that point that a stone book was, or would come to be known as, a blook. 

Earlier this evening I came across an article entitled Carved in Stone: American Stone Books by Ian Berke in the Maine Antique Digest (2015). The author had also written a guest post on Mindell Dubansky's blog, About Books - discovering the book as object.  

For more information ...

Was this delicious 'book cake' a 'blook'?