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.

Mary Evans poetry reading in Devon, Mon 11 January, 2021 at 6 – 7.15pm

ARTS DESTINATION SOUTH MOLTON in DEVON is hosting a reading featuring the MARY EVANS POEMS AND PICTURES BLOG and I am delighted to join in a celebration of the work of this marvellous blog curated by Gill Stoker. The Mary Evans Picture Library, founded in 1964, is a beautiful little store house in south east London of millions of images of every sort. You have probably enjoyed their images on television and in newspapers and magazines all over the world without necessarily knowing where they came from. The Mary Evans website allows you to sneak behind the library’s closed doors. Images and poetry have always been good company and the Poems and Pictures blog is a marvellous browse, whatever your taste.

Please join us. It will be the ADSM’s first event of 2021 and is the first Zoom event for the poetry blog ever! The beauty of Zoom events is that, while we can’t necessarily go and dabble our toes in the Devon sea, we can enjoy the event wherever we are. The event is free.

Anthologies update

I’ve just updated my Books page about anthologies that have come my way this year. First was the invitation by Ruth Carr and Natasha Cuddington to join them in HER OTHER LANGUAGE Northern Irish Women Writers Address Domestic Violence and Abuse (Arlen House, 2020) It’s an honour to be part of this excellent project.

Our first CHURCHILL WRITERS’ ANTHOLOGY was published early this year too, thanks to the diligence and efficiency of Gervase Vernon. Gervase is a prolific writer and one of the group’s earliest members. It’s a marvellous read, full of variety, and I’m deeply proud, as well as fond, of all the writers.

Last year I posted on the Places of Poetry website set up and run by Andrew McRae and Paul Farley and am thrilled to have my Carnlough Bay selected for the Northern Irish section of their anthology, PLACES OF POETRY (Oneworld, 2020).

These three sit proudly beside two Live Canon anthologies from 2016 and 2018 that contain my work: LIVE CANON More New Poems for Christmas and LIVE CANON 154 PROJECT: 154 poems by 154 contemporary poets in response to Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets.

In this tragic year, our creativity has not always been easy but I hope you and yours stay well and that next year brings safety, togetherness and all the writing flow you could wish for.

Places of Poetry – more news!

Still buzzing about selection of my poem Carnlough Bay for the Northern Irish section of the Places of Poetry anthology being launched on 1 October. It’s wonderful news that the UK Poetry Society‘s online launch on 1 October 2020 is FREE and you are very welcome to join us using this link here.

To celebrate the anthology’s launch, the project is also going to reopen the marvellous website map between 1 and 11 October so you will have extra time to add your favourite poems of place in the UK. They are hoping to gather another 2,500 poems to lift the total to 10,000 – so don’t hold back. There’ll be more about this on social media soon.

Congratulations to the Places of Poetry team on the project being shortlisted for ‘Research Project of the Year: Humanities and Social Sciences‘ at the THE Awards. You can see more about the award and shortlist here. Here’s wishing them all the very best!

Places of Poetry anthology coming soon

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. img_3204 (1)Portstewart Strand in Northern Ireland where I grew up. Beautiful, whatever the weather. 

Join me online in Glasgow tomorrow, 7pm – Public Health Private Illness

One of the silver linings of these grim times is that we can attend events all over the world without being there. Glasgow University’s conference (planned for last April) on public health and private illness – details here – has been revived online and I’m delighted to invite you to join us tomorrow from 7pm at an evening of creative reading.

I’ll be reading from Six-Count Jive (Lapwing Publications, Belfast, April 2019) and will be with:
Georgi Gill
Colette Coen
Sam Rose
Mara Dougall
Moira Dancer
Sara Louise Wheeler
Judy Crow
Caitlin Stobie
Gillian Shirreffs
MT Taylor
Jane Hartshorn and
Laura Donald

It’s going to be an amazing night. Please register here to get the Zoom details. See you there!

New review of Six-Count Jive

So much has changed since my latest book of poetry was published by Lapwing Publications in March 2019. The shop where the book was launched has sadly closed, the world has been gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve all been in fear for own lives and those we love, and many of us have suffered the loss of dear ones.
Writers have responded to lockdown in different ways. Some are finally cracking on with that great novel, memoir or definitive poetry collection. I found myself so wrapped in mental health struggles that I’ve written very little. In fact, my writing light was pretty low until I read this review of Six-Count Jive this afternoon.  Billy Mills is a highly regarded poet and publisher living in Limerick and his reviews on his WordPress site are always worth a read. Safe to say, Billy Mills, you have cheered me enormously.
I look forward to reading the other pamphlets mentioned.
If you would rather have a paper copy, I’m afraid that Lapwing’s Dennis Greig is about to go into hospital, so provision of paper copies from Belfast is likely to be tricky for a while. I have a few paper copies left and can send copies to you for £10 each (postage etc. included, wherever you are). Please just email me at with your details, I will let you have my bank details and you can have the book in the post, signed if you’d like.
Thank you for reading this. Writing and publishing, like all the creative arts, are having a tricky time at the moment. But it’s nothing to the loss of members of our family and friendship circle and if you are grieving, recovering from this pernicious virus or supporting someone who is, I send you my warmest wishes.