Sunday Poem – Alan Buckley

Sunday Poem – Alan Buckley

I’ve been training since the summer to take part in the Lancaster half marathon and Sunday is one of the days I do a long run.  Today I did 20 kilometres with a group of friends, not particularly fast, but for the first time I didn’t notice when we went past 12k.  Usually at this point my mind starts telling me to stop, and my body starts aching, but this didn’t happen today, so I’m quite pleased- in fact I forgot to look at my watch until we’d ran 15k. The half marathon is in two weeks time and I’m hoping to run under 1 hour 45 minutes, and hopefully by then, I will have shaken off this cold which is still hanging on a little.

Apart from slowly getting back into running this week, I’ve spent a lot of time reading. I’m reading as much as I can in preparation for filling out an RD1 form as part of my PhD, which is basically a three-year plan of what I’m going to be doing.  A few people have asked me if I like reading the critical stuff and I have to say, I absolutely love it. My problem is that I keep going off on a tangent.  One tangent that I’m really enjoying is reading Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics from the 70’s.  I feel like I need to read these huge feminist texts before I can strike off on my own.  I’ve just got to a chapter where she talks about a Thomas Hardy novel and it is taking all my willpower to not go off and read the Thomas Hardy novel.

I’m trying to narrow down to two or three poets that I want to concentrate on for the critical part of the PhD but I’m finding this quite difficult.  I keep falling in love with poets.  In fact, two weeks ago, I taught a session at MMU where the group got a number of poems and they had to decide the gender of the author and the publication date of the poem, and one of the poems that was included was the one that starts ‘My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun’.

This poem has haunted me for the last two weeks – yet when I read it for the first time, I was completely unmoved.  I hadn’t read a lot of Emily Dickinson’s work before this – although I’ve always loved “Hope” is the thing with feathers – and it has been disconcerting this week to become completely obsessed with it.  I’m starting to realise that although I want to write poems about everyday sexism, and coping mechanisms, and ways of negotiating it without going mad, it is hard to find other women writers that are tackling it directly.  I think it is going to be much more interesting to look at how female poets negotiate their way around a patriarchal system. I’m starting to become fascinated by the choices Dickinson made – to hardly leave her room – but then to write such a disturbing poem as  ‘My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun’.  To feel like a loaded gun, to be full of energy and power,that you cannot use without someone else to assist you.  To understand that you are both powerful, and powerless.

Emily Dickinson may of course, be another tangent, and maybe too much has been written about her already for me to add anything new.  But I am enjoying reading about her.

On Monday there was an Induction Event at uni and all the new English PhD students were invited to come along and meet each other and talk for one minute about their PhD.  As I was walking from the train station, I started to mildly panic about this, and then to laugh at the ridiculousness of panicking about speaking for one minute about something I’ve spent the last year at least thinking about and talking about with other people.  Anyway, panic aside, I did manage to talk about the PhD and it was interesting to hear what the other PhD students are doing as well.

I had a moment of sadness about leaving trumpet teaching this week as well.  I think I was standing at the photocopier before starting my workshop on Metre and Rhythm at uni, and it hit me how much I’ve learnt from being a brass teacher for 13 years.  Not least how to operate any photocopier under the sun.  I think it’s taken this long to realise how much it has given me.  Maybe up to now, I’ve been in recovery, recovering from how much I gave of myself to the job – and as a teacher you do have to give of yourself.  But this week, I realised how much I’ve learnt, how transferable it is and maybe the sadness was from realising how long it has taken to get to this point.

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Alan Buckley, who I met in July this year at Ledbury Poetry Festival.  Alan’s pamphlet The Long Haul had just come out with HappenStance so I took the opportunity to get a copy from him.  The pamphlet is full of beautiful poems – I knew I was going to like it right from the first poem ‘Flame’, inspired by an instruction on the front of a matchbox  (Use matches sparingly).  This poem starts ‘Not meanness or thrift/but wisdom; respect/for each small torch/that’s kept in there.’  I love that this poem comes from a line written on a matchbox, and each four line stanza of the poem is set out like a small box.

Alan Buckley is originally from Merseyside, but moved to Oxford in the 1980’s to study English Literature and has lived there ever since.  His first pamphlet Shiver was published by tall-lighthouse and was the PBS pamphlet choice in 2009.  The Long Haul is his second pamphlet, and you can obtain a copy for a mere £5 from the wonderful publisher HappenStance. You will also find the poem ‘Flame’ that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, if you follow the link to HappenStance

The poem I’ve chosen for this week ‘Pastoral’ is that most elusive of poems – an original and compelling poem about roadkill.  There are lots of excellent poems about hitting an animal whilst driving – but this poem takes as its central concern an animal that has already been hit, that is already dead, and which is glimpsed only for ‘a second or two.’

Pastoral – Alan Buckley

Glimpsed for no more than a second or two
(I was pushing eighty-five near Stokenchurch Gap)
but enough for a thought to surface: the possibility

that the heft of snout and fur by the central barrier
belonged to a creature that was deaf and asleep,
having nodded off in the morning sun as it looked

for a chance to cross; and this was why it lay there,
oblivious to the cars and lorries bouldering past.
Deaf and asleep, its belly filled with a slither

of worms as it dreamed its brockish dreams,
in which it was busy reliving the night just gone,
when it scuttled through fields of silvery grass

beneath an avuncular moon.  And beyond the black,
hard river that carves its way down Aston Hill
a hole in the earth was waiting – a small darkness,

ready to fall back behind this animal’s tail, like
the heavy curtain at the entrance to a private room,
shielding from view a silent, untouchable space.

We can infer as the poem progresses that the creature is a badger – the main clue comes halfway through the poem when we read ‘Deaf and asleep, its belly filled with a slither/of worms as it dreamed its brockish dreams’.  The words ‘deaf and asleep’ come twice – once in the second stanza, when the speaker imagines it has ‘nodded off in the morning sun as it looked/for a chance to cross’ and then again in the third stanza, when we read about the ‘slither of worms’ and the speaker imagines that the badger is ‘reliving the night just gone.’  The description of this night is wonderfully lyric as well – lines that when I read them, I wished I’d written: ‘when it scuttled through fields of silvery grass/beneath an avuncular moon.’

This poem seems to be balanced between different extremes to me. The difference between life and death, between sleeping and waking, between movement and speed and complete stillness.  The poem allows us to feel a connection with the animal, but then by the end of the poem, makes us aware that feeling connected with another creature is ultimately doomed to failure, that another being is always unknowable.  We’re left with the image of the badger re-entering its hole, and the darkness ‘shielding from view a silent, untouchable space.’

I hope you enjoy the poem – please feel free to comment – I do love reading the comments, and am endeavouring to make sure I remember to reply, rather than just smiling and reading them, and I know the poets that I feature here are always very appreciative of having readers that engage with their work.

News about St Ives February Residential

News about St Ives February Residential

I’m really excited about the next residential that I’ll be running in February with one of my best friends David Tait, who also happens to be a fabulous poet and tutor.  David and I have been working on the theme of the residential, and I hope you like what we’ve come up with!

Below you will find the blurb describing the overall theme of the course.  Each workshop that we run during the week will focus on poetry from a particular country or continent.

There are now only four places left on this course, so if you’d like to come, I would advise booking your place as soon as you can.

If you’d like to book, please ring the hotel directly on 01736 796240

If you’d like more information about the course, you can look here, or please get in touch via the Contact page, or comment below.

Panorama: Poems from Around the World!
Residential Poetry Course, February 20th-25th 2017
Treloyhan Manor, St Ives
Tutors: David Tait and Kim Moore
Guest Poet: To be Announced
Cost: £430

Are you interested in diving deeper into the wide world of poetry? Well then, come and join us for an internationaltastic course in the wonderful setting of St. Ives, where we will be exploring poetry from across the world to inspire our own work. Expect to be introduced to unfamiliar names, and to discover new and exciting approaches to poetry. We will be joined mid-week by a special guest poet. This course is both suitable for beginners and more experienced writers. Join us for this panoramic view of world poetry, our very own poem-arama!

Sunday Poem – Keith Hutson

Sunday Poem – Keith Hutson

I’ve had a rough day today.  I’ve spent most of it in bed with a horrible cold.  I’ve been ignoring this cold since Thursday but I succumbed today and spent the morning feeling very sorry for myself.  I didn’t get to do my usual Sunday run this morning, and I’d planned to go to Keswick to meet up with my cousin but I couldn’t drag myself out of bed.

I’m feeling a little bit better this afternoon.  I’m terrible at being ill – I’m impatient, and I get bored easily, and I feel guilty when I’m not doing something useful.  So spending a whole morning in bed was awful.

I’ve been in touch with Treloyhan Manor Hotel in St Ives and there are only 6 places left for the February 2017 Residential Poetry Course I’m running there with co-tutor David Tait.  Our guest poet who will be reading mid week is the fabulous poet Penelope Shuttle.  If you have been thinking about coming, I would suggest booking sooner rather than later – places will be limited to 16 and they seem to be selling quite fast.

Last weekend I was Poet in Residence at Swindon Poetry Festival which involved running two workshops, giving a poetry reading and then just generally hanging about and chatting to people (yes that really was in the job description!)  If you are looking for a small, friendly, slightly madcap poetry festival full of quirks, whacky ideas and things you probably won’t find at any other festival in the UK, then I would recommend Swindon.  It’s run by my friend Hilda Sheehan who is a brilliant poet herself, and whose enthusiasm and humour gives the whole weekend a unique and wonderful feel.

On the Friday night of the festival, I was released from my Poet in Residence duties as I had a reading at Winchester Poetry Festival.  I was reading with Ian Duhig and Sophie Hannah.  I loved reading with these two poets – I’ve read with Ian before, and he is one of those rare poets who actually has ‘Greatest Hits’ poems – like his ‘From the Irish’ poem – it doesn’t seem to matter how many times I hear it, I still enjoy it.  It was great to hear him read from his brand new collection of course, as well.

And Sophie Hannah – I bought one of her Carcanet collections when I was first starting to write poetry.  She has a wonderful and funny way of looking at the world – one of my favourite poems of hers that she read was about ‘people who flounce off’ – her premise being that there are people that flounce off, and people that don’t, and she is one of the people that don’t flounce off.  And where, she asked do the people who flounce off go to?

I went to a fascinating Close Reading by Frances Leviston on a John Berryman poem and a brilliant talk by Sinead Morrisey about researching her grandfather’s life as a Communist in Belfast.   I was also really pleased to meet up with a poet who I first met on a residential poetry course that I ran in St Ives.  We went to a stall and got some thai food and sat on a bench in the town centre to eat our food before going to the reading.  This was a new experience for me as I usually like to sit in a cafe and drink endless cups of tea whilst eating, but I quite enjoyed it and it meant we got to the reading in time.

I got up nearly every morning at 7am when I was in Swindon and went for a 5k run around Coate Water Park.  There is a lovely old diving board in the middle of the lake which I’m told nobody uses anymore and a path right round the lake which was perfect for running.  I don’t really like running on my own though and it was a relief to get back this week to going out for a run with my usual group of friends.

One of the highlights of Swindon Poetry Festival for me was seeing a few close friends perform.  I saw Roy Marshall read from his new collection, and was really impressed, both with the poems and his delivery, and then my friend Keith Hutson did a fantastic hour long show using material from his new pamphlet Troupers, published by Poetry Salzburg.

I must admit to being slightly worried about Keith when I heard he would be reading for an hour, but he was fantastic.  He managed to hold the attention of the audience, and it was a really entertaining hour.  The pamphlet is a sequence of thirty one sonnets celebrating famous Music Hall and Variety performers. As Keith was reading the sonnets out, there were lots of appreciative oohs from the audience who were old enough to remember the performers he was talking about (sadly, I am way too young to know any of them BUT I still enjoyed it!)

I asked Keith if I could post up the first sonnet here this weekend which he kindly agreed to.  I think this is a lovely poem, and the way Keith handles the rhymes, using half rhymes, and slant rhymes is great.  This poem is funny – look at that line ‘Some critics called it/nothing but self injury with rhythm’ and the mention of the character called ‘Tom Platt and his Talking Pond’ is great – what on earth was the Talking Pond and how did he get it on stage? We’ll never know – well not unless you ask Keith, who probably does know.

My favourite bit about the poem though is at the end, with the mention of running, not just running but running ‘on joy alone’.  When I read that, I thought, yes, I’ve done that, I’ve ran on joy alone.  In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, I was 8 miles into a hard, tough, hilly 12 mile run, and I got to the top of a hill and the view made me spread my arms wide as I ran down the hill, and it felt like I could take off, even though I was exhausted,that was joy.

So, below, you will find this joyful poem, by my mate Keith Hutson, whose enthusiasm when he is performing is infectious.  Keith used to write for Coronation Street and his poetry has been widely published in journals such as The North, The Rialto, Stand, Magma, Agenda and Poetry Salzburg Review.  He delivers poetry and performance workshops for The Prince’s Trust and The Square Chapel Centre for the Arts.

Keith will be appearing as the guest poet for A Poem and a Pint on the 19th November 2016 at The Laurel and Hardy Museum.   I hope you enjoy the poem!

Juvenile – Keith Hutson
i.m. Georgie Doonan 1897-1973

In time to a drumbeat, Georgie Doonan
kicked his own backside.  Some critics called it
nothing but self-injury with rhythm.
A newspaper dismissed the act as fit
only for idiots with no command 
over their sense of wonder, and went on
to call for Tom Platt and His Talking Pond,
no less, to come back, all is forgiven!

So why, when Georgie booted his behind,
did those who knew no better split their sides?
He must have made an impact deeper down.
And I know I’d have laughed, which won’t surprise
you if you’ve ever run on joy alone,
heels bouncing bum-high; if that’s what you’ve known.

Sunday Poem – Bob Horne


I’m sat in my writing room looking out at darkness once again.  That isn’t entirely accurate of course.  I can see the edges of the houses whose back gardens lead onto ours.  I can make out the shape of a tree in one of the gardens, although our hawthorn tree is invisible.  To the right, the lights in a conservatory glow and every now and then, I see a car pass between the gaps in the houses.  I know if I opened the window, I would hear nothing until a car made its way up the hill.

I used to live in a street where at night the whole place would come alive. The arguments that had simmered quietly in the daytime would burst out once darkness fell.  Once I was woken up by somebody kicking a front door in across the road.  Once I was woken up by a fight.  Once I was woken up by somebody smashing someone’s car windscreen in.  Once a man who lived across the road, who was an alcoholic opened my front door and stumbled in, then stumbled out again.

In my old house, the morning was filled with seagulls crying.  We were closer to the sea than we are now, although we couldn’t see it.  We lived in an area of Barrow where the terraced houses seemed to make the sky smaller somehow.  Up here, at the top of a hill, the sky seems bigger, and the birds that I hear first thing in the morning are the sparrows. I realise I’ve never lived anywhere where there were birds before.

In Birmingham, where I lived for a year, there was the constant hum of a main road outside the front door.  There was a garden, but I never ventured into it.  In Leeds, the noise outside was of traffic, and a nightclub that held afternoon raves, as well as evening ones.  I’ve never lived anywhere so quiet before as here.

Everything links to everything else doesn’t it? Thinking about Leeds, and Birmingham, in the time when I still wanted, more than anything to be a professional trumpet player.  It’s no coincidence that this is on my mind this week, as I’ve spent more hours than I have in years playing the trumpet.

I’ve been playing in a production of The Wizard of Oz every night in Ulverston.  I started the week in agony – I went to a soul band rehearsal and could hardly play because I had a painful back and neck.  After talking to Julie (the sax player) I’ve really been working to try and keep my shoulders relaxed when I’m playing.  I’ve literally been forcing my shoulder blades down.

Just this simple act has completely transformed my playing.  My lip has lasted for the whole show instead of for 20 minutes.  I’ve been playing the high notes and it has felt easier.  I’m trying to remember now whether my teacher at music college ever said to put my shoulders down.  I can’t remember it if he did.  Maybe he said ‘Relax’ without explaining how to do this.

On Saturday I had three gigs – a matinee and evening performance of The Wizard of Oz and half of a soul band gig to do, and my lip held out! Before this little trick of keeping my shoulders down, I’d have been goosed after the first matinee.

Imagine meeting an ex who you loved more than you loved anybody before, but you met at the wrong time, or you were not ready, your head wasn’t right when you met, and the chances, the ones you were given, passed you by, or you did not reach out and take them.  Now imagine you meet that ex, but you have got older in the normal course of things, but they have stayed at whatever age they were when you met them.  They are unchanged.  That is how I feel about playing the trumpet  – I start playing again, and all the old ghosts that I didn’t deal with in the past, come back again.  I didn’t stop playing because I didn’t love it still, or that I wasn’t good.  I stopped playing because I didn’t feel good enough, because I couldn’t handle the feelings it brought up of doubting myself.

As you can probably tell, I’m still working through all of this in my own head.  I am really happy to be playing again, and there is some sadness as well that I’ve taken this long to get to this point – it feels like coming full circle in some ways, without even meaning to.

So apart from my epiphany (put your shoulders down) and my trumpet angst, and my joy at the feeling of playing my trumpet every day for the first time in many, many years I’ve had lots of other stuff going on as well.  I haven’t done as much running this week because I’ve been busy with other stuff, but I used the opportunity of a low milage week to have a go at Park Run on Saturday and get a new personal best time for 5k of 21.54.  I am very chuffed to be under 22 minutes for 5k.

I’ve also had an interesting week poetry wise.  I’ve been asked to be the ‘Artist of the Month’ in a local paper ‘Ulverston Life’ so on Monday I went to Ulverston and was interviewed by the lovely Helen Shacklady who has promised to turn my incoherent ramblings into something that is worth reading.

On Wednesday I went to Furness Abbey to record a poem that I’ve been commissioned to write for National Poetry Day by the BBC.  The brief was to write a poem in the voice of a landmark. I decided to write a poem in the voice of Furness Abbey, telling its life backwards.  If it is good enough for the story of my niece and her first boxing match, (see my first collection if you don’t know what I’m talking about) then it is good enough for Furness Abbey.  My interview for this was pretty dire – I forgot to mention anything about my publications which would have made me sound like I knew what I was doing and instead told the journalist about how I started writing poems every time I got dumped.  Oh well. It’s too late to worry about that one now as well!  The poem will be broadcast on BBC Cumbria on National Poetry Day and apparently there will also be a Facebook video of me walking around the Abbey looking up at the walls.  What could possibly go wrong with this?  Let’s hope the journalist wasn’t still recording when I did my Kate Bush impression whilst leaping through the Furness Abbey arches…

On Thursday I did my first day of teaching at Manchester Met.  I did a five minute talk in the lecture to about 100 students about a poem that I loved, alongside Angelica Michelis and Martin Kratz, the other lecturers on the unit that I’m teaching on, and then I did my first two seminars with my student groups.  I was really nervous about the lecture part, but once I got going I was fine, and  I really loved the teaching part.  There were no problem behaviours to manage.  I didn’t have to ask people repeatedly to be quiet.  I didn’t have to convince them that my subject was worthwhile and interesting.  I didn’t have to bite my tongue and keep my temper.  I didn’t need any patience.  It was bloody marvellous!

I also managed to get to the library and got out far too many books in one go, but I got a bit over-excited.  Tomorrow, I’m going for my Induction Day for my PhD, and I’m hoping this will kickstart me into getting to work, as I don’t feel that I’ve really knuckled down yet.  Oh and joy and rapture – I also got my staff card sorted so it is in my actual name rather than my married name.

So, on to today’s Sunday Poem.  I hope you’ve managed to read this far.  Bob Horne was kind enough to send me his first pamphlet, Knowing My Place, published by Caterpillar Poetry.  As well as being a great poet (as you’ll see from the poem) Bob is also a publisher, having set up the small press Calder Valley Poetry at the beginning of 2016. Since then, he has published five pamphlets by writers including John Foggin, Peter Riley, Steve Ely, Mark Hinchliffe  and John Duffy, with a pamphlet by Stephanie Bowgett in the pipeline.

I don’t know Bob very well, but when I have met him, the impression I got was one of generosity towards other writers and enthusiasm about poetry.  This has been borne out in the brief email exchange we’ve had, where he was very humble about his own work, preferring to talk about his work as a publisher.  So it is nice to put the spotlight on Bob’s own poetry for once!   Bob did tell me he did a Poetry MA at Huddersfield University in the mid 1990’s but then had a break until three years ago, when he started attending local events at The Albert, Puzzle and other local venues such as Anthony Costello’s Kava Kultura in Todmorden and Keith Hutson’s Square Chapel sessions.

This poem reminded me at first of one of my favourite poems – ‘Those Winter Sundays’ by Robert Hayden.  It seemed to me as if Bob was tipping his hat to this earlier poem – so I’d be interested to see if he has read the Hayden poem or not! If Bob has read the poem, then I think it is a lovely way of building up the layers of this poem.  The similarities between the two poems lie in the physical action of a ‘he’ lighting a fire, and in the use of the word ‘austere’ which seems, in my mind at least, to link them both together.  Bob’s poem is much more, I think about the self, and looking back on quite a solitary figure, of looking at a small space, and what happens when you move from the past to the present, from small spaces, to spaces without any boundaries, whereas the Hayden poem explores the relationship between a father and son, and the emotional dynamics of a household.

I love the focused concentration on the physical actions in the poem – there are lots of wonderful details that are very carefully observed: ‘Then, a scratch/ and a bud of flame’.  I love both the scratch and the bud of flame.

The title of the poem tells us where we are, and at first there is a narrowness, an inwardness to this poem.  The speaker is looking back to a particular season, a particular year, a particular house and room.  But by the end of the poem, it completely opens out, both to the wider world: ‘a rush of smoke/slid up the sooty/blackness of the chimney/to vanish in faraway air’ but it also opens out from the past to the present with that wonderful ending with the grown up shadow gazing back.

I do think this last stanza is extraordinary – it is both situated in the past and the present, the statue being the thing that time pivots around.  We’ve all been small and had our shadow, larger than ourselves thrown against a wall.  But this last stanza could equally be taking place now, in the present moment.

Thanks to Bob for letting me use his poem.  I hope you enjoy it!

Living Room – Bob Horne

I remember winter mornings
in nineteen fifty-one,
standing on the corner
of a ragged hearth-rug,
austere light from outside
screened by clothes on the creel.

With a hand-brush’s worn bristles
he swept cold ashes
from under the grate,
shovelled them onto paper
to be parcelled and stuffed
in the dustbin.

Then, a scratch,
and a bud of flame
felt along the ends
of knots of newsprint.
As they browned and flaked,
fire flowed through a stack

of sticks and coal from the cellar,
a rush of smoke
slid up the sooty
blackness of the chimney
to vanish in faraway air.

I turned to look across the room,
the heat at my back.
Still, in the middle
of a flickering wall,
my grown-up shadow
gazed back at me.


Sunday Poem – Lisa Brockwell

Sunday Poem – Lisa Brockwell

I’m not in my writing room today – sat on the sofa instead, in front of the T.V because I’ve been watching the wonderfulness that is Gogglebox.  Last time I watched this, I was in Groningen in Holland, curled up on the sofa with my lovely friend Jan, crying with laughter.  It’s not half as fun watching it on my own, although I like the kind of happy/sad feeling I get when I watch it now – happy because now watching that programme reminds me of Jan, and sad because I miss him.

This week I’ve been working on my poem for the BBC and National Poetry Day.  I’m writing a poem about Furness Abbey.  My deadline was Friday, and I pretty much finished it at about ten minutes to midnight, which was quite stressful, but expected.  I always seem to work better under a bit of pressure.

I had a meeting with the committee of A Poem and a Pint, and we put together a list of poets that we’d like to have as our guest poets in 2017.  My job now is to contact them all so I’ll probably be getting on with that next week.

On Wednesday, my friend Jennifer Copley had her book launch at Natterjacks.  As I mentioned in a blog post a couple of weeks back, her new pamphlet Vinegar and Brown Paper is out with Like This Press. Members of Barrow Writers, the writing group that Jenny runs also read and local musicians The Demix provided the music.  Here is a photo of Jenny looking glamorous whilst reading her new poems.


On Thursday I went to Manchester to have another meeting about the teaching.  This one was very useful, and I feel reasonably confident about next week.  As confident as anyone starting a new job I suppose! I had a brief meeting about my PhD following the meeting about the teaching, but we ran out of time, so have rescheduled for a couple of weeks.  My main job between now and then is to get some reading done and start to think about how I want to structure the critical part of the PhD (I think!).

I had my first wobble this week of thinking what on earth have I done, and who am I to think someone like me can do a PhD etc etc.  Imposter syndrome already, and I haven’t even had the PhD induction yet – that is the week after next!  However, I’ve decided I’m going to get started this week, and the first thing I’m going to do is work out a timetable of when I’m going to be working on PhD stuff this week.

After the meetings I met up with poet Emma McGordon and we made our way up to Black Cat Poets in Denton, where we were both performing.  It was a real honour to be reading with Emma – she was one of the first poets I saw perform at A Poem and a Pint and I loved her reading.  Her new work is really, really good and it was worth the trip over from Cumbria just to hear her read.  The audience at Black Cat Poets was small but perfectly formed, and the organisers and hosts were very friendly.   Then it was a late night drive back to Cumbria – I think I got in at about midnight, maybe just after.

I had a Dove Cottage Young Poets session on Friday night.  I only have two Young Poets left now – the rest have all gone away to university.  I feel very proud of them all, but very sad to see them go.  If anybody reading this knows any young people who would be interested in joining a completely free poetry group in Cumbria, do get in touch.

Other writing news – I was very happy that I got a poem shortlisted in the Bridport Poetry Competition.  This means I got to the top 200 out of 5400 entries apparently, so I didn’t win any money, but it is nice to know that my poem made it to that shortlist.

This weekend I’ve not done any writing or reading really.  I’ve just been running and playing the trumpet.  I did Park Run on Saturday (22 minutes 15 seconds – 10 seconds off my PB!) and then I had a Soul Band gig on Saturday night.  This morning I did a ten mile run and then had two rehearsals for a musical I’m playing in next week in Ulverston: ‘The Wizard of Oz’.  So this is why I’m blogging so late today!

I am excited about today’s Sunday Poem.  I can’t remember how Lisa Brockwell and I became friends on Facebook – as we’ve never met.  Lisa sent me a copy of her new collection Earth Girls a while back though, and I read it cover to cover in one sitting.  Earth Girls is published by Pitt Street Poetry, a Sydney based poetry imprint.

Lisa Brockwell was born in Sydney, but spent a large part of her adult life in England.  She now lives on a rural property near Byron Bay, on the north coast of New South Wales, with her husband and young son. You can find more about Lisa at her website:

I loved this poem as soon as I read it, and felt an instant connection to it.  It is easy to list the reasons why this might be –  I suppose we all imagine what might have been, what would have happened if we had stayed with this person or that person instead of leaving them, if we had taken that job or refused it.  I also like that thread of regret or yearning, which runs through the poem – as I may have said before is one of my favourite emotions to explore in poetry.

That first line is startling in its directness.  And the second – that ‘startled but not sorry’.  I think that is so brilliantly observed.  I love how marriage, or at least a long-term relationship is described as ‘The Long Haul’, and the term ‘day-to-day dedication’ – again, brilliantly, closely observed, and this is exactly what a marriage is.  The poem is also wonderfully honest: ‘The air between us no longer electric’.  I also love that just at this point when as a reader, I started to forget that what is being described is imaginary, it is then that the story starts to falter: ‘But whose dog jumps/on that bed’.

One of the cleverest things in the poem of course is that it manages to pass comment on two things at the same time.  Through describing the imaginary relationship, what might have been, we start to gain a picture of the real relationship, in all its complexity.

There is something beautifully tender as well in the line ‘But when, sometimes, we brush against/each other on-line I feel it and I hope you/ do too’.  There isn’t a whiff of betrayal or duplicity in the poem.  If there was it would be a less complex poem, a less interesting poem.  This poem has been hauting me since Lisa sent me her book, which is a good few months ago now, so I’m really pleased to be able to post it up here.

I hope you enjoy the poem, and if you’d like to order the book, please head over to Pitt Street Poetry

The Long Haul – Lisa Brockwell

There is another life where we end up together.
We wake in the same bed, startled but not sorry;
the timber frame is warm, hand-caulked
with the day-to-day dedication of the long haul.
The air between us no longer electric, all now
sanded smooth.  But whose dog jumps
on that bed: yours or mine? I don’t plan to think
about my husband or your wife; let’s leave
my son right out of it.  Fantasy, no more dangerous
than eating gelato and dreaming of Mark Ruffalo.
But when, sometimes, we brush against
each other on-line I feel it and I hope you
do too – you could have been my dawn breeze
and me your mast of oak.  There is another life
out there.  I watch it as it goes, a bobbing toy
with a paper sail, jaunty in calm weather; and wince
to see it tacking close to the mouth of the river.

October Residential – Guest Poet

October Residential – Guest Poet

I’m really excited to announce that Sarah Hymas will be our guest poet for the October Residential Poetry Course.

She is a poet, performer and artistbook maker. Her writing has appeared in print, multimedia exhibits, dance videos, lyrics, pyrotechnical installations, on stage and as an improvised opera.

Host, her poetry collection, is published by Waterloo Press (2010). Her artistbook Lune (2013) was featured in The Guardian Books Blog. Since 2014 she has written immersive stories in Manchester, Lancaster and Marsden, using geocaching, augmented reality, micro print, spoken word and live performance.

She is currently working on another for the Aberdeen Music Hall. In 2015 she collaborated on Ripple, an installation that uses physical poems and augmented reality to illuminate climate change. Her present writing focuses on the sea, its ecosystems and the relationhip between it and us.

Sarah will be joining us for dinner on the Wednesday night of the course, and then reading her work to participants afterwards.  There will be time for questions as well,  and I think it will be a really interesting discussion.  As you can see from Sarah’s biography, her work is very much multi-disciplinary, and she uses both traditional and non-traditional routes to publish her work.  You can find more information about Sarah at her website  or you can follow her on Twitter at @sarahhymas

The October Poetry Residential runs from October 24th-28th 2016.  The tutors are myself and Jennifer Copley.  The fee of £424 includes accommodation, breakfast and three-course evening meals, all workshops, readings and a tutorial.  The hotel has a lovely swimming pool and there will be free time in the afternoon for walks along Grange promenade or time for your own writing.  If you have any questions about the course, please get in touch with me directly.  If you’d like to book, please phone the hotel on 015395 32896.  There are still a few places left, but these are filling up fairly quickly. 

Sarah has also asked me to pass on information about a workshop that she is running on Sunday 9th October –  please see below!

The Flotsam and Jetsam of the Bay

Morecambe Bay Partnership invites you to the second in a series of creative writing days with poet Sarah Hymas. Bring along an object or photograph related to Morecambe Bay and spend the day working with Sarah to capture the spirit of the Bay in words.
Write a short story, poem or piece of autobiography to contribute to the living history of the area. Info and booking:

Sunday Poem – Myra Schneider

Sunday Poem – Myra Schneider

No view today apart from the dark, and my own reflection in the window, and through the gaps of the houses opposite, I can see a few streetlights, and one window in the house opposite has a light on.  It’s only 10.30pm now, but it feels more like 2am, everything is so quiet.  When we first moved here two years ago, I couldn’t sleep because it was so quiet.  Our first house in Barrow was in a street where you could hear the seagulls all the time, so it took me a while to get used to not hearing them.  Now, of course, it’s quite nice not to be divebombed by seagulls between the front door and the car.

Today I went to Lancaster with lots of people from the Walney Wind Cheetahs and took part in the Lancaster Castle 10k, which actually turned into the Lancaster Castle 10.6k, as apparently some directional arrows were turned the wrong way, there were no marshals and lots of people ran the wrong way and got lost.  I was a bit gutted because I think I would have got a PB, but I suppose these things can’t be helped.  We had a nice day anyway, and I was 6th woman back which I’ve never been before so that was quite exciting!

Getting lost seems to be a theme this week actually, as I also went on a 10 mile run which turned into a 12 mile run on Wednesday with my friend Ian and forgot to turn left at a crucial junction, which meant we had to run an extra two miles and climb up a huge hill again, which nearly finished us off!

Apart from running and getting lost, I’ve also had an Induction Day at Manchester Met this week to prepare for the teaching that I’ll be doing there.  I don’t think anything can really prepare you for teaching apart from just getting stuck into it, I guess.

I’ve been working with Pauline Yarwood, the co-director of Kendal Poetry Festival on plans for next year’s festival.  We’ve already confirmed some poets (top secret, sorry, can’t tell you who they are) and are waiting to hear back from the remaining few.  Pauline’s been working hard on an application to a local charity and we’ve already sent that in.  This was the first charity we applied to last year, and when we were awarded the money, it really gave us a boost of confidence to apply for the rest of the amount to the Arts Council. I’m hoping this happens again this year!

Last night it was A Poem and a Pint with the fabulous Hollie McNish.  I’ve seen Hollie read a few times now – most recently (before last night) at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.  At Aldeburgh she read a poem about class and accents and fitting in which made me cry, which I didn’t expect.  To cry, I mean.  She is a great performer of her work, not just the poems, but when she introduces them, she is very warm, very open.  It is a cliche but she really does feel like a breath of fresh air.  She is also a sharp and witty observer of life, or the kind of absurdities of life.  She writes poems that flag up things in life that we probably all pretend we don’t notice.    Anyway, last night at Poem and a Pint she was brilliant – the audience loved her.  I was the MC and kept forgetting to get up and introduce the next item, which is pretty standard for my MCing style!

The other thing I’ve been doing this weekend is painting the downstairs ‘middle room’ as we call it.  Do you remember that scene in Adrian Mole’s diary when he decides to paint the walls of his bedroom black to cover up the Noddy wallpaper, and the bells just keep showing through, no matter how many layers of paint he slaps on? Well in my more dramatic moments, this is how I feel about the middle room, except it is white paint, and it is patches, rather than bells.  Anyway, Chris has promised that one more coat should do it, so hopefully by this time next weekend, I won’t have to look at another tin of white paint for a while.

Next week there is lots going on.  My good friend Jennifer Copley is launching her latest pamphlet Vinegar and Brown Paper, published by Like This Press.  The launch will take place at Natterjacks in Ulverston at 7.30 – you can find more information here.  Members of Barrow Writers will also be reading and The Demix will be providing some music so it will be a great night!

I’m off to Manchester again on Thursday to have a meeting with one of my supervisors on the PhD.  On Thursday evening I’m reading at Black Cat Poets in Manchester, alongside the marvellous Emma McGordon, who was one of the first poets I ever saw read, so I’m quite excited about that! There is also an open mic for anybody that wants to come down and has a couple of poems knocking about that they fancy reading…

I’ve got Dove Cottage Young Poets session on Friday and then a Soul Band gig on Saturday and then rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz start on Sunday.  You will be happy to know that I’m not acting, singing or dancing in The Wizard of Oz, only playing the trumpet, which is probably a mercy for us all.

So this week’s Sunday Poem is by Myra Scheider, who has featured on the blog quite a few times in the past.  The poem I’ve chosen comes from her latest book Persephone in Finsbury Park,  published by Second Light Publications.

Rebecca, the poem I’ve chosen is very representative of Myra’s work.  I often come away from Myra’s work knowing a little more than when I arrived – I didn’t for instance know that a pogrom is ‘an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jews in Russia or eastern Europe.’

This word sits in the poem like an undetonated bomb.  There is nothing else said about the pogroms, yet that word shadows everything that follows and precedes it.  The idealistic rural life filled with cows that Rebecca ‘knew by heart’ contrasts with the new life in Stepney.  By the end of the second stanza, there is another story that is mentioned and then never returned to in the poem – the ‘six-year old Judith’ who is ‘scalded to death tipping water from a boiling kettle.’

I wonder if these stories will be developed in later collections or poems.  There is certainly a wealth of material here – although of course the story of Judith is alluded to with the story of ‘Isaac’ who wasn’t allowed to play indoors in case he comes to harm – presumably in the same way that Judith did.  Although ironically, of course, he suffers the touch of extreme cold, the opposite of what Judith suffered.

The lovely thing about this poem is the surprise that Rebecca is the grandmother of the speaker, and the realisation that this is family history that is being shared.

If you would like to buy a copy of Persephone in Finsbury Park, you can order one from Myra by emailing her at  This is Myra’s 14th poetry collection – previous collections include The Door to Colour, published by Enitharmon in 2014, and Circling the Core in 2008.  She also writes prose and edits anthologies and runs creative writing courses .

Thanks to Myra for letting me use her poem this week – if you’d like to find out more about Myra, you can have a look at her website here


Rebecca  – Myra Schneider

Somewhere inside me: snippets from her life,
that village a dozen miles from Vitebsk, the cows
she knew by heart, the grocery shop and pogroms

left behind for a cramped existence in Stepney:
families living elbow to elbow, her six-year old Judith
scalded to death tipping water from a boiling kettle.

These scraps and others are in a bundle much smaller
than the bundle of linens she heaved through years
of unpaved streets after her husband died,

selling on the never-never.  There’s little Isaac
who couldn’t keep still for a moment, never allowed
indoors on his own – such harm might he come to –

playing outside till her day’s slog was over, in winter
at the mercy of frost which sank its teeth so deep
into his legs the bite was still raw ninety years later.

There’s the tale of how she dug her needle wit
into the boy for fooling in his new secondary school,
being placed twenty-ninth, then of how proud she was

when he became, not the rabbi she’d dreamed of
in the tiny bedroom they shared for years,
but such a scholar he was paid to go to university.

Rebecca, grandmother I never knew, your son
always called you mother – I didn’t learn your name
until seven years after he died – I’m proud of you.

Sunday Poem – Linda Gregerson


It is glorious sunshine today here, though half of the garden is already in shadow, now that it is mid-afternoon. The hawthorn tree is still covered in red berries, and at the bottom of the garden, the laurel bushes that we chopped down two years ago have grown back to chest height.

Last week was the first full week of the schools being back in action.  People keep whether I think I’ll miss it.  I don’t feel like I’ve really had time to miss anything yet – although what does feel strange is that the passing of time will not be marked in quite the same way anymore, by school holidays and term times.

Monday night will be difficult, because it’s the first band rehearsal back for Barrow Shipyard Junior Band.  I’ve decided to fill up my first free Monday evening to keep my mind off it and stop myself turning up at the bandroom, so I’ll be using my newly bought 1 month gym membership and going for a ‘Total Abs’ session, which I’m sure will take my mind off things.  After that I’ve got Soul Band rehearsal, so I’m hoping Monday evening will be over before I know it.

Last week I had another blissful week of not rushing around, although I did work quite hard at my desk.  I’m interviewing the American writer Sarah Kennedy for a journal, so I’ve been steadily making my way through her four novels and five poetry collections.  I’ve finished the poetry collections and am onto the first novel now.  I’ve already got a few questions I want to ask – and it has been a wonderful experience to read all of her work in one go, and to start to pull out threads and concerns that unite both her poetry and her prose.

I’ve also been working on my BBC commission to write a poem in the voice of a local landmark.  This is proving challenging (she says, keeping the rising panic from her voice) but I have a little bit of time left still.  I’ve also worked on a new poem this week, cheered on by my lovely writing room, and I’ve been reading various poets, looking for someone who is writing about feminism and sexism in a way that might be useful to my PhD.

Other things – a 5k race on Wednesday – 4th female back but no personal best time (missed it by 13 seconds).  I ran my Barrow Poetry Workshop all day yesterday – nine participants and the standard was very high.  We looked at poems by Jennifer L.Knox, Sharon Olds, Li-Young Lee and Luke Kennard.

After I’d finished the workshop I had an hour to eat and then it was straight back out to Kendal, where I read at Sprint Mill alongside lots of other poets – Hannah Hodgson, Caroline Gilfillan, Mark Carson, Mark Ward, Harriet Fraser, Geraldine Green and Luke Brown. It was organised by Karen Lloyd, who did a wonderful job of hosting, despite having a broken arm.  Sprint Mill is a fascinating place, and it is open for the next week or so for visitors as the C-Art exhibition is on.

Next week I have my Induction Day as an Associate Lecturer at MMU.  I’m hoping it is not like INSET was as a music teacher (i.e boring).  It surely can’t be as bad as that? I’m also the MC for A Poem and a Pint’s next event – the wonderful Hollie McNish will be coming to perform for us in Ulverston on the 17th September.  The event is taking place at the Laurel and Hardy Musuem and starts at 7.30pm.  There is an open mic, but we’re expecting this event to be busy, so don’t be late!

I’m really excited about this week’s Sunday Poem by the wonderful American poet Linda Gregerson.  I wrote a review of Linda’s latest book ‘Prodigal: New and Selected Poems’ for Poem magazine and I’m a huge fan of her work.

Writing out this poem was a wonderful exercise – the lines swoop back and forth, but reading Linda’s work is like reading a musical score.  The form of the tercet, with its short ‘pivot’ line in the middle, is a structure that Linda comes back to again and again.  The suffering of children, and how to witness suffering is another topic that she returns to.

This was one of the poems that I picked out in the review – it feels when you are reading it that you are discovering something along with the writer.  I only just noticed in the poem the three colours of traffic lights, in order at the end – finishing with the ‘bright red helmet.’  The craft of this poem is at work underneath the surface, so those phrases that loop back and forth feel effortless.  I also love the asides that Linda uses in this poem and throughout her work – I think they work to draw the reader in, but they are also beautifully measured and paced.

I would really recommend Linda’s book – if you’d like to read the full review of the book, you can subscribe to Poem you’ll also find fantastic poetry and essays in this magazine, edited by Fiona Sampson.

Linda Gregerson’s honours include a Guggenheim fellowship, four Pushcart Prizes, a Kingsley Tufts Award, and the selection of her collection Magnetic North as a National Book Award finalist.  Gregerson is a professor at the University of Michigan.  Her poetry has appeared in the Atlantic, The New Yorker, Poetry, the Yale Review and many other publications.  She lives in Michigan.

You can order her book Prodigal: New and Collected Poems here.  Thanks to Linda for allowing me to use her wonderful poem this week.


The Resurrection of the Body – Linda Gregerson
)))))((for Caroline Bynum

She must have been thirteen or so, her nascent
******just showing above the velcro strap

that held her in her chair.
*************Her face
******translucent, beautiful,

as if a cheekbone might directly render
*************a tranquil
******heart.  And yet

the eyes were all dis-
*****The mother with her miraculous

smile, frequent, durable, lifted
************the handkerchief-
*****you know the way a woman

will? – her index finger guiding a corner,
************the body of it gathered
*****in her dextrous palm – and with

such tenderness wiped the spittle
*****at her daughter’s mouth.  The faint

warm smell of lipstick – remember? – freighted
************with love,
*****and with that distillate left by fear

when fear’s been long outdone by fearful
*****The mother would give her soul to see

this child lift her head on her own.
************And down
*****the hall in orthotics,

I couldn’t for the longest time understand
************why the boy
*****required a helmet so complexly fitted

and strong – his legs were unused, his arms
************so thin.
*****A treadmill, I thought.  Or a bicycle, maybe, some

bold new stage of therapy anyway, sometimes
************he falls
*****and, safe in his helmet, can bravely

set to work again.  It wasn’t for nothing
************that I was
*****so slow.  Who cannot read those waiting rooms

has so far – exactly so far – been spared.
************It was only
*****while I was driving home,

my daughter in her car seat with her brand-
************new brace,
*****that I thought of the boy’s rhythmic rocking

and knew.  Green light.  Yellow.  The tide
************of pedestrians
*****flush and smooth.  And the boy’s

poor head against the wall – how could I miss it?
************and what
*****does God in his heaven do then? – and the boy’s

poor head in its bright red helmet knocking –
************listen –
*****to be let in.

Sunday Poem – Cheryl Pearson


I’m writing this in my still-lovely writing room.  It’s now finished! I put another floor-to-ceiling cupboard in yesterday and filled it with various bits, so now, although it’s small, I’ve got floor space to scoot around on my office chair.  I’m working so much better in here.  I’ve decreed that Chris has to knock if the door is shut and it feels like a little haven.  My desk is right in front of the window so I have a view of the back garden and the hawthorn tree, covered at the moment in red berries, and the houses behind ours, covered in scaffolding because they are getting their roof redone.

My legs feel pleasantly tired and aching as I did the Burton-in-Kendal 10k race today.  The course was pretty brutal – a fast downhill start and then a steep hill for about a kilometre, and then I would describe the rest of the course as ‘undulating’.  I managed it in 48 minutes and 10 seconds – nowhere near my personal best of 46:16 but I am fairly happy with my time.

Last week was fairly quiet in terms of freelance work.  I didn’t have any readings or workshops, or anywhere to be apart from soul band rehearsal on Monday night and the studio on Wednesday night to  record a demo for Dave McGerty, the keyboard player in the Soul Survivors.  He’s been asked to write a  song by a very well known soul singer, so we were in the studio recording it on Wednesday. Here’s a picture of the brass section with our headphones on.

soul survivors in the studio

One exciting thing that happened is that I’ve been commissioned by the BBC and National Poetry Day to write a poem in the voice of a landmark in Cumbria.  The poem will be broadcast on BBC Cumbria on October 6th which is National Poetry Day.  I’m quite nervous about this, as I haven’t done very many commissions so who knows how it is going to turn out.  I did spend a lot of time last week visiting my landmark and trying to soak up some atmosphere though, and I started an idea which I think might work.  I haven’t looked at this idea since Friday though, as I’m following my own advice and leaving it to ‘cook’ in my notebook for a couple of days.

This week has been a good insight into what doing a PhD might feel like though.  I’ve spent a lot of the week in my pyjamas, at my writing desk, reading and writing, and making notes on what I’ve been reading.  If I haven’t been in my pyjamas, then I’ve been in my running shorts – as usual, my life seems made up of extremes!

Another strange thing that happened – I turned down some freelance work this week! I realised it’s the first time I’ve ever done that, as a writer.  The project sounded really exciting, but it was a massive time commitment.  I think if I’d flogged myself this term I could have managed it, as well as the freelance work I’ve already got booked in, as well as the PhD, but I realised that the point of getting funding is so that I don’t have to work myself into the ground taking on everything that comes in.  It is hard turning things down though! I love working as a writer, but it felt strangely liberating to commit instead to writing, to the act of writing, rather than the act of being a poet, which is very different.

I’ve just booked my train tickets for the Poetry Swindon Festival, taking place in October.  I read in  Swindon a couple of years ago now, and I’m really looking forward to going back as one of two Poet in Residences (the other is the marvellous Andrew McMillan).  I’m reading on the 6th October with a wonderful poet called Michael Scott and running workshops on the 7th and 9th October.  You can find more information about all of the events and the poets who are reading here.

This week’s Sunday Poem is a poet called Cheryl Pearson, who I got talking to on Twitter, so we’ve never actually met in real life! I asked Cheryl to send me some poems to consider for the blog and she sent me wonderful poems to choose from.  Which was a relief!

I loved her poem ‘The Victor’ as soon as I read it – it seemed full of mystery, and the images and her language surprised me all the way through.  I imagine the ‘her’ of a poem is a bear, although this is never actually spelled out.  I’ve never seen salmon described as ‘fat hammers’ but I think it works. The bear, if bear it is, is humanised with the ‘Ankle-deep’ reference, which was one of the places that made me wonder if it is a bear.  The next line is surprising as well – the fish ‘caught her eye like a hook’ – this is one of the surprises I’m talking about.  The next line makes me think definitely bear – the ‘great fur heft of her’ as well as the reference to a planet – that made me think of the Great Bear and the Little Bear constellations.  Then in the next line she turns this around again – the bear is a star, and the fish are smaller stars.  Then the fish become a ‘book of matches’ and here I think the poem soars off.  What a wonderful line ‘death brightening each tooth’.  It is one of those lines that I wish I’d written!  And a fantastic ending to the poem – the ‘last lost race’ of the fish.

I’m really looking forward to reading Cheryl’s first full collection, which is forthcoming in Spring 2017 with Pindrop Press.   I hope when it comes out I can wrangle another poem out of Cheryl, as I’m sure the book will be great, if the small selection of poems she sent through is anything to go by.

Cheryl  lives and writes in Manchester. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Envoi, Antiphon, and Skylark Review (Little Lantern Press). She placed third in Bare Fiction Magazine’s 2016 Poetry Competition, and has been shortlisted for the Princemere Poetry Prize and the York Literature Festival Poetry Prize.

You can find more of Cheryl’s work at the Bare Fiction website and she is also on Twitter as @cherylpea

Thanks to Cheryl for letting me use her wonderful poem, and for getting in touch.



The Victor
Cheryl Pearson

I saw her catching salmon in July – fat hammers that gleamed and beat
against the river where she waited, still as a boulder. Patient. Ankle-deep.
Until that one fish caught her eye like a hook, and she leaped –

the great fur heft of her crashing like a planet from the clear sky

to stun against the rock that smaller star. I watched as fish after fish
went dark, a book of matches struck and snuffed. One by one,

light by light. Later, I would see their radiance again, like a memory:

death brightening each tooth, the way skulls might brighten a hunter’s belt –
fishscales, shining in her mouth like a brace. I would see the fish in her belly,

griping, stripped. Her mouth lit with trophies from their last, lost race.

October Residential Poetry Course

October Residential Poetry Course

I had a great meeting with my co-tutor Jennifer Copley today.  We spent the afternoon planning the timetable and workshops that we’ll be running at our upcoming Poetry Residential at Abbot Hall Hotel in Grange-Over-Sands.  The residential is running from Monday 24th October to Friday 28th October 2016.   The course costs £424 and this includes workshops and evening readings, a tutorial with either myself or Jenny, accommodation, breakfast and three-course evening meals.  

During the week, there will be time in the afternoons to work on poems, swim in the hotel swimming pool or go for a walk along the prom to Grange.  I will be nipping out for a run, so if there are any running poets that fancy signing up, it would be great to have some company! There is a lovely flat run along the prom or nice hilly runs in the country roads around Grange.

Below is a description of the workshops that we’ll be running during the week.  If you’d like to book a place, please get in touch with the hotel on  015395 32896.  Spaces do tend to fill up quite quickly – but if you have any questions about the course, do get in touch.  The course is suitable for beginners or more experienced writers.

I’ll be putting the timetable up for the course in the next week or so, but the basic format is workshops in the morning and readings in the evenings.  In the afternoons, participants will have the chance to have a tutorial.  We have a mystery guest poet and some mystery musicians joining us mid-week and they will also be revealed very shortly!

Poetry Residential Workshops (24th-28th October)

The Collection
Jennifer Copley

During this workshop we will be exploring how to create a life and history of a person from a mystery selection of objects, provided by Jenny.  These objects will be drawn from the beaches and fells of Cumbria and from corners and forgotten cupboards in houses.  This is an object workshop – but not as you know it! Be prepared to be inspired and delighted by Jenny’s collection of quirky and unusual objects.

Painting a Portrait
Kim Moore

How can we paint a portrait with words? No paintbrushes necessary – in this workshop we will be looking at how to capture the essence of a person in a poem.  We will be writing  using family, friends, random strangers and ourselves as inspiration.  We will look at how we can use dialogue and description to create colourful and vivid poems about people.

Suspended in Time 
Jennifer Copley
What stories do we leave behind us when we die? During this workshop you will be given photographs of abandoned homes, gravestones with unusual epitaphs and other memorials and asked to imagine the stories of the people associated with them.

I Am The People 
Kim Moore
During this workshop we will be looking at what happens in a poem when a poet speaks for a group of people, and how we can write about groups without slipping into stereotyping.  We will also have a go at writing our own monologues for some famous and historical characters.