Here’s the strand itself with its own grandeur even on a cloudy day.
New Year resolutions aren’t all bad. This year I decided to try an online poetry course run by Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and it was a fantastically exciting experience. One morning we were asked to write a quick response to Enobarbus’s famous speech in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and up she strode, my mother in her prime absolutely loving the seaside and everything about it. My poem Cleopatra on Portstewart Strand was born.
I’m thrilled to see it find its home with The Phare litmag who take only 5% of submissions! Thank you, The Phare.
Today if the neighbours see me muttering to myself, I’m just practising for my reading at the Gloucester Poetry Festival this Saturday at 2pm. There’ll be some of Six-Count Jive, lots about the beautiful seaside and some new poems including one published by Fevers of the Mind this week and another for my darling dad whose birthday would have been today.
I’ll be with fantastic poets Chaucer Cameron and JLM Morton and there’s an OPEN MIC if you’d like to join us. It’s all online so you don’t need to go out in the autumn hurly burly, if that’s what it’s like where you are.
Overnight two poems of mine have appeared on David L O’Nan’s Fevers of the Mind blog and you can find them here with a fabulous sea sunset picture.
Thank you very much, David, for everything you do for our expressions of mental health in poetry and art. The Fevers blog is a gorgeous place to ramble through excellent words by writers from all over the world. It’s expanding every day and is always looking for submissions.
Pack away sandals, sun-honeyed
here, welcome as wisdom.
Our English summer left us abruptly this week and we’re tucking up warm away from rain and winds. Luckily we have the Gloucester Poetry Festival to look forward to all through October, link here. It’s online so you’re welcome wherever you live. Very many thanks to the Gloucestershire Poet Laureate Ziggy Dicks and Marcelle Newbold who are organising it all. Herding cats is easy compared with herding poets and my goodness, they are terrific at it.
On Saturday 23 October, from 2pm, I have the honour of reading along side Chaucer Cameron and JLM Morton. Please check them out, they are extraordinary poets with great stories to tell. I’m gathering a new collection together at the moment and will have some new poems for you too. Free registration is here.
What a great month this is going to be. See you there soon!
The Mary Evans Picture Library is a beautiful trove of images of all kinds, located in an exquisite Arts and Crafts building in Blackheath, south east London, close to where I lived for many years. So it’s a special pleasure for me to have my poetry published from time to time on their Poems and Pictures blog curated by Gill Stoker.
Gill has just updated the blog’s main page to include links to their gorgeous events, including a recording of the online reading from Devon in January this year where I read my Oyster Seventeens. The site now allows you to search by poet too. What a list it is and all free!
Last year Arlen House published a mighty anthology called Her Other Language with the subtitle ‘Northern Irish Women Writers Address Domestic Violence and Abuse‘. Needless to say, domestic violence and control have been on the rise throughout this pandemic, and in May this year, its editors Ruth Carr and Natasha Cuddington, along with academic and fellow Lapwing poet Lorna Shaughnessy, addressed a conference at the University of Vigo in Spain. With the permission of everyone mentioned in them, you can find their three interventions here.
I am deeply proud to be included in the anthology. Ruth Carr asked me to record a short reading in advance of the Vigo event. The first intervention around the subject of this book was by Lorna Shaughnessy and includes my reading at the end. Other readers appear in the other interventions and I’m so pleased to see not only the poets but Ruth and Natasha having their work honoured in this way.
The Gloucester Poetry Festival is going to be outstanding this year – what a line-up! – and you are welcome to be there, wherever you live as it’s all online.
I’m thrilled to have been invited to join Chaucer Cameron and J.L.M. Morton to read on Monday 25 October at 14.00. You can book here – it’s free but you will need a ticket. There will be an open mic as well as us poets having half an hour each.
Usually I write short poems and half an hour felt a bit daunting at first, but I’ve been productive during our lockdowns. I’m working towards a new collection of poems in all sorts of styles and lengths and am busy gathering together what could work best for Gloucester. My themes will be family and mental health, and the beauties of living close to the sea. A few laughs, a few tears. I look forward to seeing you there.
David L O’Nan has been in touch to say that my poem Blood Stains on the Stones has been selected for his forthcoming print anthology for Fevers of the Mind. I had been shy of sending this poem out for some time – it’s rather personal even for me – but Fevers of the Mind welcomed it in May and you can read it here. Now it is to have its place in print as well as online and I’m deeply honoured.
The poem describes PTSD layers as wolves. Thank you to Lebanese-American poet Gibran Khalil Gibran for the title; how can we tell when wolves have visited? By the blood stains on the stones.