#NaPoWriMo day 8

How soon the year comes around!  We’re already eight days into National Poetry Writing Month (adopted from the USA, so it’s global, really).

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I’ve joined Carrie Etter’s NaPoWriMo Facebook group for the second year running. Last April proved fruitful in terms of new writing and workable poem drafts.  This year, I’m managing to write SOMETHING; although my current notebook’s filling up nicely, I don’t think its contents amount to much more than material for gleaning at the moment (there’s too much annoying life stuff encroaching on my time and sanity).  I like Carrie’s group: mutual encouragement (and commiseration) but no posting of poems (which, from past experience, makes me want to chuck notebook and pen in the nearest wastepaper bin).  And we get all 30 poem prompts in advance, so there are plenty of alternatives if one fails to inspire.  They often spark something surprising that I wouldn’t otherwise have written – which, for me, is the main benefit of taking part – that, and the fact that this ill-disciplined writer actually puts in the time on a daily basis.

I’ve also been busy writing my responses to questions for a Poet Interview series on Bekah Steimel’s blog.  Bekah made contact via the 2018 Poet Bloggers’ Revival Tour and asked if I’d take part.  I’ve enjoyed following the series so far, reading other poets’ featured poems and their responses to questions on themes, the writing process, resources, writing highs and lows, etc.  I’ve particularly enjoyed ‘the one piece of advice you want to share.’  I’ve almost finished writing mine so, if you’re reading this, Bekah, mine will be with you any day now.

This week’s poetry high point was Wednesday evening’s Boating Bards and Buffet, at Every House coffee shop in Burton on Trent.  This one-off event was organised by Gary Carr, who MCs the monthly Spoken Worlds open mic nights I so enjoy.  The format: two featured ‘boating bards,’ Mark Goodwin and Emma Purshouse, and ten open mic ‘support’ poets reading poems on themes of Place, Transport and Navigation; a delicious buffet during the interval.  Unfortunately, Mark had to cancel at short notice due to illness, consequently Paul Francis and I each did fifteen minutes instead of our originally allotted six.  So, for the second time in as many weeks, I was afforded the opportunity to read a selection of poems from my pamphlet, Beyond the Tune, as well as more recent poems.  I ended my spot with ‘Towards a Safe Return,’  shortlisted for the Wolverhampton Literature Festival poetry competition, which was judged the featured poet herself.  Emma Purshouse finished the evening on a high, performing poems from The Nailmakers’ Daughters: poems from the Black Country (Offa’s Press) and other poems about life on the canals.  I really enjoyed her ‘Things I Learned from my Maternal Grandfather’ (and its tongue-in-cheek ‘partner’ poem, ‘…from my Maternal Grandmother’) and ‘Flamingos in Dudley Zoo.’   I was pleased that she also read her ‘Specular on the Wolverhampton 21,’ commissioned for the DIVERSIFLY anthology, which I blogged about here.

If you’re likewise engaged in the madness and mayhem of NaPoWriMo, I hope the writing’s happening for you!

 

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Hygge poems

The Danish word hygge is all about the enjoyment and sharing of life’s simple pleasures.  Poet and educator Angela Topping has been busy spreading a little warmth and light during the dark days of winter, sharing poems on this theme via her blog.

My poem, ‘Ritual,’ originally published in my pamphlet Beyond the Tune, is one of today’s two featured poems, just gone live.  You can blog-hop by clicking here.  Or, if you fancy a leisurely browse through all the poems from Hygge #1 onwards, why not curl up somewhere toasty with your favourite hot drink and click here.

Happy hygge reading!

 

Sarah James micro-reviews Beyond the Tune

In her most recent micro-review post, Sarah James says:

The vivid sensual details of the first half of the pamphlet bring a whole era to life, with subtly startling yet apt memorable lines, such as “tannin, bitter through the Tate & Lyle scree”.

Of the collection’s darker side:

Not all stories from the era are sweet though, a darker side revealed in the hauntingly beautiful poems of the second half that gradually bring us back through poems that could be then or now to the present day and then the present day looking back, linking us again to the pamphlet’s opening.

On her journey as a reader:

Each re-reading brings new connections with these evocative and atmospheric poems.

and:

From “my spine | a river of running quavers that stick | to the soles of my sensible shoes” (Sin É) back to “ re-set your body clock to seal a time line” (Grace Notes), and then immersed again in a constant invitation to “Slip beyond the tune.” (Grace Notes)

 

Sarah James has been widely published in poetry magazines and anthologies.  She has published four full-length poetry collections, most recently The Magnetic Diaries (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press) and plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press).  She co-edits poetry small press V.Press.

February, I’m so over you

February’s the low point of the year, for me: a wilderness of sorts between  resolutions/new beginnings and the official start of spring. It’s the colour grey.  It’s moody blue.  And, if social media’s a barometer, I’m not the only one who feels that way.  But it’s over!  Light levels are noticeably better, my garden’s budding and cat junior is swapping the close vicinity of various radiators for outdoor high jinks.

February’s bright side:

Me at Fire & Dust

 

 

 

Fire & Dust and Nine Arches Press open mic: my first feature reading of 2015, alongside Matt Merritt at The Big Comfy Bookshop in Coventry.

 

Matt Merritt at Fire & DustMatt’s reading included several poems from The Elephant Tests (NAP) including one of my favourites from the collection, The Elephant in the Room.

Nine Arches editor Jane Commane read too – a rare treat, as the poetry-packed Leicester Shindig! events seldom allow time for her to showcase her poems.

Penelope Shuttle’s long-awaited headlining at Word! in Leicester on 3rd Feb.  Wow!  I only wish I’d been able to attend her pre-event workshop.  Kathleen Bell’s feature reading finished the first half of the evening with some of her poem sequences.

The List Cause: a Poetry School open online workshop.  I wrote a poem.  (There’s a plait in a paper bag in a box in our loft.  It’s been trying to get into a poem for a while…).  It’s been redrafted and workshopped again, since.  It’s recuperating in a subfolder.  It may become two or more poems.

Carol Ann Duffy’s reading as part of De Montfort University’s Cultural Exchanges festival.  Boy, can she play her audience!  I love how she allows the words breathing space, her measured delivery, her deadpan eyeballing of the audience.  The Laureate included several poems from The World’s Wife, my personal favourite amongst her collections.

Rosie Garland’s second headlining at Word!  When she appeared in 2012, she’d just won the Mslexia Novel Competition.  Since then she’s published two novels: The Palace of Curiosities, and Vixen, now out in paperback.  I loved both.  Good, then, to hear excerpts from each as well as several poems.  A consummate performer.

Towards a better balance in life: half term, and a two-night sleepover by all four grandchildren for starters; pottering in the garden, secateurs in hand; a day trip to London (Grayson Perry’s Who Are You? exhibition at the NPG, Portobello Road Market, browsing the magazine shelves at The Poetry Library).

Softening the blow of the latest rejection email (high hopes), is this afternoon’s news that issue 11 of The Lampeter Review is now available to read/download online, with my contributor’s hard copy to follow.  You can read it on ISSU/download it for free, here.

Good stuff to come:

Our daughter’s arrival on Sunday for a week’s stay.

States of Independence on 14th March: DMU’s annual hosting of this independent publishing fair.  A diary highlight.  A stint at the Soundswrite Press table and reading poems from Beyond the Tune as SWP marks its 10th anniversary.

Soundswrite Press goes to Inzine Fest III @The Pod, Coventry on Saturday 21st.

A feature reading, alongside Bare Fiction magazine editor Robert Harper, at Poetry Bites in Birmingham on Tues 24th.  Details here.

The Easter hols: Writing East Midlands Writers’ Conference in Nottingham; a five-day poetry residential in Cumbia; Adam Horovitz at Word! (and this time I can make the afternoon workshop).

Life’s good!  What are you looking forward to, this month?

 

 

 

Beyond the Tune review: London Grip New Poetry

London Grip’s poetry editor takes an optimistic view of two first collections from a new poetry press.

I’m delighted that Michael Bartholomew-Biggs has reviewed my pamphlet, Beyond the Tune, and Caroline Cook’s Primer: both 2014 publications from Soundswrite Press:

You can read it on London Grip New Poetry, here.

Incidentally, London Grip also published Vintage, the second poem in BTT,  this summer.  You’ll find it here.

The launch in words and pictures

It was a lovely, lovely afternoon, filled with warmth, laughter and friendship.  Even the heavy rain gave way to sunshine.  And there was wine and nibbles (or, to be more precise, home-baked cheese and caraway seed nibbles and rosemary biscuits – thanks to Karin and Davina).

And poetry – did I mention the poetry?  A joint launch is a wonderful thing!  Karin Koller opened with a welcome and a few words about the story of Soundswrite Press to date.  Then it was my turn. I’d written my ‘lesson plan,’ rehearsed and timed my reading the night before (I like near deadlines). I think (I hope) I remembered to thank everyone – family, friends and fellow writers who’ve given me their time, love, support and honest feedback over the years.  There were no nerves to get in the way and everyone seemed to enjoy my reading.

I could then relax and really enjoy hearing Davina (D A) Prince talk about, then read her chosen poems from her second full HappenStance collection, Common Ground.  And I got my copy signed (already having devoured it, from cover to cover).

Then there was time to chat, sign copies of Beyond the Tune, enjoy the nibbles.  And do none of the work involved.  A big vote of thanks is due to fellow Soundswriters and two husbands for manning the book table, setting up, tidying away, serving refreshments, taking photographs, etc.  And to my wonderful husband, David, for being there – and enjoying it, too!

And here are a few photographs, courtesy of David Prince and Karen Powell:

Sporting my pamphletPamphlets on sale

 

Pamphlet signingKarin greetsDavina's launch readingDavina's Common GroundChatting at the book tableElizabeth and Marilyn

 

 

My pamphlet launch

Following last week’s pre-launch at Leicester Shindig, I’m really looking forward to the launch proper of my pamphlet, Beyond the Tune (see here).

Here’s the launch flyer as two jpegs:

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It’s also featured in Leicester’s Everybody’s Reading festival programme (see page 30, here).

And here’s the Facebook event – more for your info than for firm numbers, as it’s an open event anyway – just turn up!

It would make my afternoon if you were able to come along.