‘High Winds’ on the high seas with the Mary Evans Picture Library

My poem ‘High Winds’ has just been posted on the Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poems and Pictures blog with a beautiful picture by Sir John Lavery. I’m proud to be paired with Sir John who was born in Belfast like myself. Very many thanks to Gill Stoker who curates this terrific blog so expertly.

I hope those shirt-sleeved sunsets aren’t too far away.

Poems and Pictures – Rosie Johnston (maryevans.com)

Ten things I’ve learned as a writer- by Clare Lydon

This caught my eye the other day – Seven Years As An Author: Ten Things I’ve Learned: ‘You can do a whole lot in seven years. Eat 364 tins of baked beans. Have nine kids. Drink 2,555 pots of nuclear-strength coffee. Watch all of Grey’s Anatomy. Or, you could do what I did and write 18 novels.’

Ladies, gentlemen and everybody else, please welcome Clare Lydon. When she joined my writing sessions years ago in Greenwich Waterstones, she already had a firm idea of what she wanted, a clear, exiting writing style and the business mind and discipline to make it work. Congratulations, Clare, you deserve all your success. I’m thrilled to see you do so well.

A thing of beauty

My story Laughing and Grief has been accepted by American Writers Review. In February, while builders were bravely replacing my roof in high winds and snow, I wrote about a sweet gentleman I met in February 2020 when I treated myself to a few days in Paris, just as the world was tilting into the pandemic. It fitted the theme of an event in Greenwich (online) run in March by marvellous Irena Hill of In-Words and she kindly allowed it to elbow in beside the poetry listed for that excellent evening. Many thanks to Irena and to everyone for their wonderful comments about the story. It’s my first fiction in over ten years and I’m excited to see it published at all, let alone somewhere as prestigious as American Writers Review. You can find their back issues here – enjoy!

One Year On – poetry and story from Greenwich on Thursday 25 March, 7.30pm

What better way to look back over this extraordinary year together than with poetry and story. On Thursday 25, my dear friend Irena Hill will host a Zoom event in her In-Words series from Greenwich, London called ONE YEAR ON. To receive the Zoom link, please just email irena@in-words.co.uk

Irena describes her line-up like this – in alphabetical order so I’m leading us off:

Rosie Johnston‘s four poetry books are published by Lapwing Publications in her native Belfast, most recently Six-Count Jive (2019), a description in 17-syllable stanzas of the inner landscape of post-traumatic stress disorder. Last December top Irish poetry blogger Billy Mills chose it as one of his top three Irish poetry books of 2020. Rosie’s poems have appeared or featured in the Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poems and Pictures blog, London Grip, Culture NI, FourxFour, The Honest Ulsterman, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Hedgerow. Anthologies include Live Canon’s ‘154 Project: In Response to Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ (2016), Her Other Language published by Arlen House in 2020 and the Northern Irish section of Places of Poetry (OneWorld, 2020). Before being distracted by poetry, Rosie had two novels published, in London and Dublin. For this event she will read the first fiction she has written in over ten years. You can find her and her books online at www.rosiejohnstonwrites.com

Alex Josephy lives in London and Italy. Her collection Naked Since Faversham was published by Pindrop Press in 2020 (http://www.pindroppress.com). Other work includes White Roads, poems set in Italy(Paekakariki Press, 2018, https://www.paekakarikipress.com), and Other Blackbirds (Cinnamon Press, 2016, https://www.cinnamonpress.com). Her poems have won the McLellan and Battered Moons prizes, and have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the UK and Italy. As part of the Poetry School Mixed Borders scheme, she has been poet-in-residence at Rainham Hall, Essex, and in Markham Square, London.  Find out more on her website: www.alexjosephy.net Her books can be ordered from the publishers, or for signed copies email Alex on alex@alexjosephy.net.

Colin Pink’s poems and fiction have appeared in a wide range of literary magazines and anthologies. His first book of poems, Acrobats of Sound, was published in 2016 (by Poetry Salzburg Press) and The Ventriloquist Dummy’s Lament, a pamphlet of 21 villanelles, with woodcuts by Daniel Goodwin, was published in 2019 ( by Against the Grain Press). He is having two new collections published this year: Wreck of the Jeanne Gougy, a pamphlet also published by Paekakariki with woodcut illustrations by Daniel Goodwin and Typicity, his second full-length collection to be published by Dempsey and Windle in April. You can obtain copies of his books directly from Colin by emailing him on colinpinkconsulting@gmail.com or order them from the publisher’s websites. Visit his Facebook page to see announcements: https://www.facebook.com/colin.pink.37/

Jacqueline Saphra’s The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye 2011)was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press 2014) won the Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work. All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press 2017)was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize. Two of her sonnet sequences A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller (2017) and Veritas: Poems After Artemisia (2020) are published by Hercules EditionsHer third collection, Dad, Remember You Are Dead was published by Nine Arches Press in 2019. She will read from her latest book, One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets, published in February 2021 by Nine Arches Press and now available in paperback. She is a founder member of Poets for the Planet, lives in London and teaches at The Poetry School.

Scunthorpe-born Rob Walton lives in Whitley Bay.  His poetry has been published by The Emma Press, Strix, The Interpreter’s House, Sidekick Books, Frances Lincoln, Macmillan and others.  His works of fiction have been published in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and New Zealand.  Arachne Press will publish his debut poetry collection, This Poem Here, in March 2021. He collated the New Hartley Memorial Pathway text.  You can follow him on Twitter: @anicelad. 

I hope your appetite has been truly whetted. See you on the 25th, wherever you are.

Our Devon poetry evening – a video recording with pictures!

Last month, thanks to Arts Destination South Molton in Devon, we celebrated Gill Stoker’s Poems and Pictures blog on the Mary Evans Picture Library’s website. It was a fabulous evening of all kinds of marvellous poetry read by the poets and here is a video, including the pictures, if you missed it or would like to hear some again. My reading begins around 45 minutes in, after John Freeman’s swallows. Enjoy!

Devon’s celebration of Poems and Pictures reaches across the world

Last night’s event celebrating Gill Stoker’s Poems and Pictures blog was an extraordinary, beautiful mix of words and images that reached all over the world. Very many thanks to everyone who came, to Alison and Marc of Arts Destination South Molton for their flawless organisation and to Gill herself for her magnificent blog on the website of the Mary Evans Picture Library, a Tardis of all kinds of pictures in Blackheath, south east London.

The idea for the blog came from Gill and Greenwich’s Nevada Street Poets, with the first entry on National Poetry Day, October 2015. The blog has 130 contributors so far, some of us appearing several times.

Today’s online events swap the pleasure of chatting in person with allowing many more of us to get together no matter where we are, and over 90 of us honoured Gill and the library last night. People came not only from the UK and Ireland but from France, chilly Spain, Italy, Belgium, Canada, the USA and the Caucasus.

The poetry was enormously varied, from barometers to crossing the Styx, and came from Jill Sharp, Jane Clarke, Rebecca Gethin, Rosie Jackson, Janet Sutherland, Martyn Crucefix, Alison Hill, Richard Westcott and his daughter Sarah Westcott, Robin Houghton, Vivien and John Freeman, Derek Sellen and Chris Hardy. What a fabulous list – if you scroll through the blog’s left-side list, you’ll enjoy their words. My contribution – Oyster 17s – came from the north coast of Kent in England and sunnier, healthier times. It celebrates Whitstable’s tradition of seafood, whether it’s getting together with friends in restaurants or having platefuls of fresh oysters with wine on the beach while we watch the sun sink into a golden sea. Those days will come again.

A kaleidoscope of poetry and images on Monday 11 Jan, 6 – 7.30pm

Welcome to 2021! How do we lighten this chilly, bleak time of year? Well, this Monday between 6 and 7.30pm the Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poetry and Pictures blog is having a showcase. Gill Stoker set up and curates this beautiful blog, an ideal spot for anyone with a taste for the timeless combination of poetry and images, sometimes in quirky combinations. Gill has given space to several of my poems and I’m honoured to be one of the poets invited to read on Monday.

Arts Destination South Molton in Devon will be our hosts; more details are here and on their Facebook event page. The pandemic being what it is, you can join us wherever you are – please come, it’s free 🙂 To get the zoom link, just email Alison admin@artsdestination.co.uk

What am I going to read? This might give you a clue … See you there!

In Billy Mills’ top three Irish poetry books this year!

The company I am keeping in this tweet! Billy Mills runs hardPressed poetry with Catherine Walsh and his reviews on his Elliptical Movements website are highly thought of and sensitively written. I am deeply honoured that he has chosen my Lapwing pamphlet Six-Count Jive.

Billy’s review is here. If you would like to read Six-Count Jive, you can buy from Lapwing Publications direct here. Or you could have an author copy signed by me, using Paypal here. Please let me know if you would like me to sign in favour of a name, I’m happy to do it.

The subject matter of Six-Count Jive is slow recovery from PTSD after years of abuse but it has a happy ending and many people have told me, usually in a quiet aside, that they have found comfort in it and keep it close. One recently asked for a second copy as she had worn her first one out.

I wish you all a peaceful break, and health and strength for you and yours now and in the future. Writing has been a great solace to me throughout this awful year and I wish you joy and success in yours.