For starters, it’s not officially summer yet and the weather thinks it is! The increasing light levels and lengthening days are energising, I find. And our garden looks at its best in May. I think I’m falling back in love with it now that I can manage a spot of gardening without reprisals from the hip department!
My 60% working week seems less tiring and more productive as three full days. A day off today: making cups of tea for two men with younger bones who have laid weed control membrane and carted three tonnes of gravel to complete the transformation of my plantaholic’s paradise-turned-nightmare into something approaching low-maintenance. And next week is half term!
It goes without saying that recent poetry events have been food for the soul, too:
A day workshop at Calke Abbey, run by Mark Goodwin, is already bearing fruit as poems begin to emerge out of notes and photographs taken. This National Trust ‘unstately home’ is rich fodder – every room is preserved in a ‘frozen’ state of decay and clutter – apart from the opulent and immaculate state silk bed (a touch of Snow-White-in-glass coffin, I thought…).
A reading by Simon Armitage at Leicester Grammar School: I came across this barely-advertised event quite by chance. What a treat of a Monday teatime! The atmosphere was intimate. By turns, Armitage wowed and amused his diminutive audience. Immensely talented, down-to-earth AND funny gets my vote every time. A brief Q & A session followed the reading; a window on his writing process.
Regular open mic nights across the Midlands, in close succession, featured poets including Maria Taylor (at Leicester’s Pinggg…K! poetry), Jean Atkin (at Lichfield’s Poetry Alight) and, at last night’s Leicester Shindig, four guest poets: Josh Ekroy, Rennie Parker, Emma Lee and Siobhan Logan.
Recent reads include Sarah Water’s The Night Watch (which, sadly, I didn’t find as compelling as Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet), Carrie Etter’s Imagined Sons (loved the format of Catechisms at intervals between imagined encounters with a son given up for adoption at birth), Carole Bromley’s SmithDoorstop pamphlets Skylight and Unscheduled Halt (my personal favourite, lots to savour), and I’ve just started on Moniza Alvi’s At the Time of Partition (which I’ve wanted to read because I remember enjoying a section of this book-length poem in Magma, a couple of years ago).
Another acceptance: two poems in the summer issue of Under the Radar. Which is great, as time is running out for my pamphlet poems that are, to date, unpublished in magazines. My pamphlet manuscript, edits complete (for now), has been emailed for draft typesetting in early June. And (at last) it has a working title: Between the Notes.
I’m contemplating attending the Saboteur Awards in Oxford on 31st May. There’s an afternoon Book Fair, too (further temptation). I had a great time at last year’s event in Shoreditch – such a lively and upbeat evening. And it would be lovely to meet up again with Agnes Marton, who I haven’t seen since then. And maybe meet a few virtual friends face-to-face. Anyone?
Next week, I’m running a morning poetry workshop for a local recovery community. This will be my third visit. They’re a lovely group and I really enjoy sharing poems and facilitating writing exercises with them.
And the ceilidh band has a gig this weekend, even (flexes fiddle fingers…).