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in the meantime
Thursday, March 17, 2016
A lot has happened since my last post here - several deaths, including my mother's and some births - welcome to Astrid Reay and to Hector Jewers Johnson - and a new volume from me. Bones of Birds was published in 2015, thanks to Andy Croft at Smokestack Books. I am also now Poet in Residence for the Northern Poetry Library in Morpeth and so enjoying wallowing in its many volumes and sharing the same with various groups in Morpeth. And I am a visiting artist on A Year in Beadnell, an innovative project developed by Lisa Matthews and Melanie Ashby. So busy innit.
I am also planning to develop a new site so may not be posting here for much longer. Have been looking back over this and enjoying its diary-like glimpses into where I was at a few years ago. Hope you have enjoyed it too dear reader (s).


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The Kindness of The Poem
Thursday, April 03, 2014
I've just been to an introductory session with The Reader Organisation and was struck by something one of the rather inspirational presenters said, when describing the ways in which it's possible to help non typical readers to engage with texts. She was describing how a poem (it was Invictus) helped a woman whose life had been more or less disastrous - how the poem was "kind" to her, kinder than anything or anyone else. I thought this was a great way to describe the way we rest on literature and texts, use it as a solace, a protection, a friend. I guess this is where those saying a day feeds try to be, but just don't work in the same way for me. I need an embodied text - happy to write something down, extract from a longer piece of poetry or prose - but a free floating, "this is how it is" saw doesn't hit the spot. It's the old nothing should come easy thing maybe - the need I have to earn my redemption.
The Reader believes in reading aloud. This reminded me of my first teaching job (English and General Studies, Newcastle College 1980) when I decided I was going to read Ian McEwan's First Love, Last Rites to Gas Engineer Apprentices. I really can't remember why I did it, and I was probably very nervous, as I found teaching frightening at first (why would anybody want to listen to me?). But they were attentive, listened, talked about the story we read. And afterwards, one of the lads (they were all boys) lingered and asked if he could borrow the book. Ah, I thought, and never saw either the book or the boy again. Hope it was life-changing in a good way, Darren.

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7:10 AM   0 comments

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Recently I made a radio programme for basic fm with the help of Apples and Snakes and Amina Marix Evans. It was much harder than I thought it would be - just the art of putting stuff together in a way that would be of interest to other people. Made me understand a bit more about how a good radio piece is a work of art/technical skills/ having an ear. For some reason I find it easier to edit film that sound recordings - familiarity, maybe, lack of practice. But would love to try it again.
You can hear it here
Several lovely people helped me to make it - Lisa Matthews, Kirsten Luckins and Apples and Snakes, Carmen Thompson, AJ McKenna, and Michael Hann with music.

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12:36 AM   3 comments

Saturday, June 01, 2013
The world only ever glimpsed from train window a view from the bell jar at speed so that blur of green of horse of sky of pylon of wind generator of swan of farm of church of silo of chimneys of canal of lake of river of sea is all one conveyor belt a reality soup that is like a steaming bowl wafted in front of a hungry woman then removed. taken away. A pelmanism of random items I memorise but am never tested on. I am starving but I am losing my appetite.

The only still point is the iPad is the iPhone is the laptop. Here I can pin it down make it stay watch stuff in contained world boxed in make controlled entries limited by characters limited by character my many many friends so clean and scentless so interesting so entertaining so ...remote. Their playlists, their photos, their events. All there for the taking the tasting the testing. Join their community. Like them just like them that's all they want. We all want to be liked. Don't we.

It seems such a big all encompassing world. But when I was lost on the moors beyond Hamsterley with only you and your unverifiable belief in your navigational skills for company, that world vanished and all I had was the sky so huge and bestrewn with clouds and rainbows an earth so covered in moss and reed and tree and stone. I like like liked it.

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4:30 AM   0 comments

Land: escape
Friday, March 29, 2013
Beauty is the train traveller's endless reward, glimpses so fleeting and short lived which makes them extra poignant and lovely. First finger of dawn on a snowy landscape. Winter trees precise against a late afternoon sky. Swans at Peterborough drifting on a summer morning. The fens frozen into Narnia held in winter's spell. Long shadows of trees stretching over a green field. Sheep carefully placed at intervals on a hillside as night begins to fall. Hopperesque glimpses of faces in platform cafes icons to a railway orthodoxy. Herons in flight. Rooks heading home. Richness of a fresh ploughed field. Magnificent skies with complicated cloud formations or empty and blue. White fog of winter. Lavender. Lemon and pink pastel nursery shades. Lightning seen from a distance. Light shining on a pond or river molten silver. the sea! Wind turbines thrashing the air crazed aerobic teachers no a whole fitness class of slender ladies between March and Ely a ballet of wind turbines. Golden reed beds. Hawthorn blossom on the hedgerows in spring like weddings. Eider ducks in a flock at Ely, swans flying in pairs, ducks in threes. All seasons add their glory. I am in a gallery of landscape artists from a variety of schools from Constable to Nash with occasional Michaelangelo.
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Happy Birthday
Monday, August 20, 2012
Today is my oldest daughter's birthday. Makes me very happy even to think about her, though she is far away in that London. She's an amazing girl, clever, talented, funny and beautiful. I'm so proud of her and all the things she does. When it's your child's birthday you can't help but go back there to the pregnancy, the birth and those strange days afterwards when everything in your life changes at a stroke - especially when it's your first child. I was so unprepared. Very few of my friends had children, and somehow we didn't talk about it in the way my daughters and their friends do now. Maybe we were still of a generation that did not really believe in choice, planning, and all of that bourgeois (sensible) stuff. I don't regret the unpreparedness though - learning through experience seems to have some advantages. I tried with the books (thanks for nothing Penelope Leach) but they made me feel enormously inadequate. Parents were hundreds of miles away. My models were Doris the cat (a lousy mother, really) and women in the developing countries mythologised. But really just doing my meagre best in difficult circumstances - poor, bad housing, not much in the way of support. I remember the first time she laughed - in a daft peek a boo game. I was completely entranced.
4:29 AM   1 comments

Gig cancelled
Sorry to tell you that the Black Light gig for Friday has been cancelled - the same line up excluding moi will now be on Sep 7th. I'll be doing a gig there on October 27th - more details to follow.
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Friday, August 17, 2012
Looking forward to reading my poems next Friday here: The Black Light Engine Room Python Gallery, Middlesbrough: 24 August 2012, 7pm Live poetry from Jo Colley, Emma Whitehall, Oonah Joslin and Alison Davies, with music from Sara Dennis. Open mic slots available. Admission: £2 entry. 10pm finish. Should be fun.
3:20 AM   0 comments