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.

Friday 14 May 2021

Marking #DylanDay 2021


Some of you will know that I lived in Swansea for twenty years, so #DylanDay is always an opportunity for me to remember visits to Cwmdonkin Park and Number 5 Cwmdonkin Drive (plaque above). 


I also like to recall carefree hours spent on the waterfront at Laugharne. You can see the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in the photo above and Dylan's Writing Shed perched somewhat precariously on the cliff in the photos below. 



There is often a Grey Heron on the shore, and not infrequently a Curlew or two.



This bird's eye view of Laugharne (below), with its tidal estuary, castle, boathouse and writing shed, brings back a number of particular memories, including a day when I attended a Creative Writing workshop facilitated by Aeronwy Thomas as part of the Laugharne Festival. 


The southern and western areas of Wales are not, of course, the only locations linked to the poet. Dylan visited New York on four occasions in the 1950s. I spent a few days there in 2012, enjoying a meal in Greenwich Village and the long elevator ride up the Empire State Building as the light began to fade. 


This year I am delighted to have a poem on Lidia Chiarelli's Immagine e Poesia #DylanDay website and also to have a letter addressed to DT and a poem in a new anthology called Dear Dylan, edited by Anna Saunders and Ronnie Goodyer, and published by Indigo Dreams Publishing. 

Dear Dylan is published today, and you can purchase a copy and read more about it here. I am looking forward to the 'Dear Dylan from the Birthplace' Zoom event this evening. 

Thursday 13 May 2021

Looking Ahead to #DylanDay 2021 ... Immagine e Poesia


Tomorrow is #DylanDay (see here), so I wanted to post some photographs linked to the poet whose hometown of Swansea was also my home for two decades. The water fountain in Cwmdonkin Park in the picture above had a chained cup in the days of Dylan's childhood. 



The park is a riot of colour in spring when the tulips are in flower and the ornamental cherry trees are in bloom. 

Italian poet and Dylan Thomas aficionado, Lidia Chiarelli, charter member and co-ordinator of the Immagine e Poesia movement, has been busy assembling and curating a website of international writing and visual art to mark the day. 

I am delighted to have my poem, 'The Gothic Arch', posted on Lidia's website (do scroll down slowly and read the wealth of new contributions, though the easiest way to find my poem may be to scroll to the bottom here and then move the cursor up the page a little). My poem, as you will see, was written in response to a few words from one of Dylan's poems. 

The site also contains articles, such as one by Peter Thabit Jones on 'Dylan Thomas and Greenwich Village, New York', in which he ponders some of the fascinating 'what ifs' in relation to Dylan's short but extraordinary literary life. 

Do click over to the site and explore some of the features. 

Thank you, Lidia, grazie mille. 


* * *

Lidia informs me that the website event is sponsored by the Metropolitan City of Turin.
Here are the links to the Poets' and to the Artists' sections: the contributions are in order of arrival ...

- 48 Participating Countries on 5 continents










Wednesday 5 May 2021

My Puffin Photograph on the Cover of 'Reading Between The Lines' by Neil Leadbeater

Littoral Press, £8.50

Those who follow my blogs, and perhaps particularly this one, will know that (in normal times) I enjoy watching Puffins as they move about on and off our coastal cliffs. I am thrilled to have one of my Puffin photographs on the cover of Neil Leadbeater's new poetry collection, published by Mervyn Linford of Littoral Press. David and I met Neil back in 2011 as fellow participants at Swansea's First International Festival of Poetry, organised by Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry Press (Swansea) with Stanley H. Barkan of Cross-Cultural Communications (New York).

This fine collection includes poems rooted in a variety of rural (e.g. Tarr Steps), coastal (e.g. Aldeburgh) and urban (e.g. Port of Tyne) landscapes. A compelling sense of musicality pervades much of Neil's work, aided and abetted by a sprinkling of alliterations and allusions. I have been particularly enjoying the poem sequences ... and the Puffin poem, of course!  

P.S. This has also been posted on my Wild and Wonderful blog since the subject was relevant to both.