A busy week

I’ve embraced this week’s return to weather conditions approaching Spring.  Monday, spent gardening in the sunshine of our ‘inherited’ back garden, was a real tonic.  I’m still purchasing forced daffodils at the supermarket till but the forsythia outside the kitchen window that spent last week having second thoughts is just about to burst forth.

Poetry reading and writing has been at the forefront this week.  Jen Campbell’s online workshop, Poetry and Fairy Tale, dropped into my email inbox last Sunday so I’ve been reading the material sent for information and inspiration and working on the two assignments: responding to a published poem using fairy tale markers, mulling over drafts of one or two ‘stuck’ poems and writing in new directions.  I’ve got two new poems on simmer and will submit one for workshop feedback ahead of today’s midnight deadline.

On Tuesday morning, there were twenty  of us at the Leicester Writes writers’ meet-up, the first since December so there was much writerly catching up over coffee and a round-up of works-in-progress, successes and diary dates.  It’s such a solitary thing we do that I feel it’s healthy to be part of the wider community of local writers.  And it’s interesting to meet writers in other genres, too.

On Thursday, Mr S and I enjoyed an afternoon at University of Leicester to view a poetry exhibition as part of a programme of events to mark International Women’s Week. I mentioned last week that my poem, ‘Ritual,’ was chosen as one of ten poems displayed on buildings around the campus.  We found mine inside the Astley Clarke building.  I have a shrewd suspicion that mine had to be re-printed due to a misspelling of ‘Jayne’ (that ‘extra’ letter has been the bain of my life!) but hey ho.


I particularly liked Shruti Chauhan’s ‘Mehndi Night’ and Maria Taylor’s ‘What It Was Like.’  Another twenty-nine poems were available to view in the Digital Reading Room of the David Wilson library, my poem, ‘My Grandmother’s Kitchen,’ among them.


I was pleased to note that, in total, eight poems were written by six fellow Soundswriters (my local women’s poetry group) and that the poets were not exclusively female.

There was a good vibe on campus; Mr S and I were snapped on Polaroid at the event stand (Polaroid? a throwback to my higher ed days), toting #PressForProgress pledges:



I’ve just had some more good news: I’ve had a poem accepted for the Truth issue of Popshot magazine, out in May.  This will be my second published poem in this pairing of writers and illustrators: ‘You Do Not Have To Say’ was published in their Wild issue (Oct 2013).  I’m looking forward to seeing the illustrator’s response to my poem.







Poems with other lives

What a weather week it’s been!  To think that I’d been soaking up the sunlight from my garden chair only the week before.  Despite the frustrations due to road conditions out of our village (missing Kei Miller’s Cultural Xchanges reading at De Montfort University on Wednesday, for one) I did get to try out my hitherto-unused snow tracks for the first time.  And one or two surprise visitors came to the garden in search of food: a couple of fieldfares made short work of  some wizened apples thrown on the ‘lawn’; a small hawk (a kestrel, maybe?) circling overhead as other birds attempted to warn it off.


fieldfare: photo credit goes to RSPB.org.uk (my camera snap is far too shabby!)

Which reminds me (for this is a poetry blog, after all), I’ve been enjoying the DIVERSIFLY podcasts I mentioned here; yesterday I listened to Nadia Kingsley’s conversation with Gillian Clarke, the last in the series.  You’ll find them all on SoundCloud, here.

The Insights tool on my blog informs me that Hygge Poems has received more hits than just about any of my blog posts to date. My poem, ‘Ritual’, inspired by my paternal grandmother’s very strong tea, is one of a series of poems exploring the ‘simple pleasures’ published on Angela Topping’s website (linked via the above).

I’m doubly pleased that ‘Ritual’ has been chosen as one of ten poems to be displayed on buildings at University of Leicester during International Women’s Week..  After a recent call-out, these poems were chosen as best reflecting the diversity, spirit and theme of International Women’s Day 2018: #PressForProgress.  I’m looking forward to discovering its whereabouts on campus when I go along on Thursday.  Hopefully I’ll get to snap it on my phone and share it on social media (you’ll find me on Twitter @stantonjayne) as well as in next Sunday’s blog post.  Another poem, ‘My Grandmother’s Kitchen,’ is one of twenty-nine other poems also on display in the university’s new Digital Reading Room.  I’m looking forward to reading the range of poems chosen as fitting the theme.   Both of the above poems also feature in my pamphlet, Beyond the Tune (2014), still available from Soundswrite Press or (signed, if you like) via the PayPal button on this blog.

In other poetry news, I’m reading at Kenilworth library on the 27th of this month. Andrew Button, who will be reading poems from his recently-launched collection from Erbacce Press, very kindly invited me to read alongside him.  It’s been ages since, so I’m really looking forward to it (I’ll share details nearer the time).

I’ve also been invited to take part in a Poet Interview series over on Bekah Steimel’s blog; Bekah connected with me via the Poetry Blog Revival tour.  My interview will be published in April, which gives me plenty of time to mull over the questions I’ll be addressing (I’m a slow boiler, these days).

Last Sunday I submitted two poems for an anthology in aid of New Start Cat Rescue.   Poems will be selected by Sharon Larkin, who published three of my pamphlet poems, about my father, on Good Dadhood. Both cat poems are previously published; I love it when poems get to lead other lives.

Poetry Masterclass

Three factors made this afternoon a possibility:

  1. A subscribers’ monthly email newsletter
  2. My half day at work
  3. Paying for three hours’ parking (just in case…)

Thanks to Lydia Towsey’s monthly Word! newsletter, I found out about today’s free-and-open-to-all event at University of Leicester: a poetry masterclass with Seán Body, renowned poet and School of English Creative Writing Fellow.  This was the first event run by UL’s Centre for New Writing (details of the Centre’s forthcoming launch and further events at the end of this post).

Seán Body was born in Co Limerick and has lived his adult life in the Greater Manchester area. He joined Manchester Poets in 1988, establishing Tarantula as a Manchester Poets imprint. He is a founder member of Manchester Irish Writers, which produced several volumes of short stories and poetry, and is editor of the poetry magazine Brando’s Hat. His poetry has won prizes in competitions including, Ver Poets, Peterloo and Bridport, and a short story won the Irish Post Listowel Writers Competition. His many publications include: Seasons (2003); Lines of Dissent (2001); Witness (1995); At the end of the Rodden (as editor); Scríbhneoírí (1997); Poems from the Readaround (as editor). Lapwing are publishing his Collected Poems in 2 volumes, the first of which is out now.          (Biography credit: University of Leicester: News and Events)

Body opened by reading a new (and, as yet, untitled) poem of his own which demonstrated his “…awareness of the strength of restrained, clipped language.” (Sarah Tierney).  Before critiquing poems by three (very brave) English students, Body drew on a wealth of editorial and publishing experience to talk about what he looks for in a poem:

    • engaging from the start, an invitation from poet to reader
    • well-crafted in terms of rhythm and structure
    • a reverence for language: the weight of words; how words and spaces work together
    • fresh: the world through new eyes; what’s there, rather than what we are told to see
    • capturing the particular with accuracy and precision
    • attention to sound, and the pattern of sounds
    • words that chime with historical events: “hear it/unpack echoes…the myriad voices/vying for attention…grace notes lingering/in some abandoned room” from Workshop (Witness: Lapwing 2013)

And from his critical commentary:

    • be clear about what you are trying to say: why is it important?
    • images should be particular and arresting: a conscious camera click rather than an open shutter recording anything and nothing
    • make the poem do what you want it to do in the best possible way: ordinary language used well, rather than academically influenced

Afterwards, an opportunity to chat over a cuppa in the cafe with the students, Drs Harry Whitehead and Corinne Fowler, and Seán Body (thank you, Dr Fowler)

As if that wasn’t enough to make my afternoon, a question and answer session with the focus on editorship, sadly taking my leave before my parking time was up (and again, thank you).

I’m looking forward to reading my signed copy of Witness, a revised and extended edition from Lapwing.  Also to attending at least one of the forthcoming events:

John Siddique: Tues 30th April 6.30 – 7.30 pm in Ogden Lewis Suites, Field Johnson Building

SuAndi: Wed 15th May 4 – 5 pm in David Wilson Library, 1st floor Seminar Room

Launch of the Centre for New Writing: May tbc, with Meera Syal in conversation with Graham Rawle, Alison Moore and graham Mort

Further details from Dr Harry Whitehead: email at hdw5@le.ac.uk