One of the United Kingdom’s most beautiful poetic projects recently has been the Places of Poetry map, set up by Paul Farley and Andrew McRae. Last year we were invited to pin poems about any place to the relevant spot on the map, rather like Orlando in As You Like It pinning his love poems to trees. As the site said, Places of Poetry is open to all readers and writers. It aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales, celebrating the diversity, heritage and personalities of place. The site is closed now but the project has announced publication of a Places of Poetry anthology soon.
I am thrilled that my poem Carnlough Bay is selected for the Northern Ireland section of the anthology – here it is on the Words for the Wild website. I spent most of last weekend, with force 5 gales and rain beating down outside here in Kent, remembering the beauties of the gusty, damp coast of Northern Ireland where I grew up. Beloved places do glow in our blood and aspects of that gorgeous place are with me all the time: long breakers riding to the shore, the way the wind can haul you right over a cliff edge, seagulls who know that while we think we own the world, the land, air and oceans are always theirs. So, while the north winds battered at my windows, I recorded a wee video of Carnlough Bay. All the anthology poems will have videos to circulate in place of a launch.
It’s going to be a wonderful book – I can’t wait to read it. And I hope you enjoy our videos when they are released. Portstewart Strand in Northern Ireland where I grew up. Beautiful, whatever the weather.