Monthly Archives: May 2012

Sunday Poem 7-Me!

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In a completely self obsessed way, I haven’t managed to get a Sunday poem from anyone this week.  My week has been taken over by the imminent arrival of my pamphlet, which started to take on the quality of a mythological beast due to delays at the printers..

The lovely Peter and Ann Sansom, the editors of aforementioned pamphlet, decided to drive the copies of my pamphlet over to Leeds on Friday night, as I was reading at the Heart Cafe with Ian Parks.  I was very grateful for this, as it clearly went above and beyond the job description! 

I decided to leave straight after work on Friday, envisaging getting to the Heart Cafe early, sitting in the sunshine somewhere, maybe Woodhouse Moore with time on my own to gloat over the pamphlet and get used to reading it to myself before getting up on stage. 

However I got stuck in traffic on the M62 for over two hours.  I went through varying degrees of rage in my car, as I and thousands of other motorists slowly cooked in the heat.  I even got my recorder out from the back (I’d been teaching it that morning) and considered trying to learn some new notes (I used to play recorder to quite a good standard when I was younger – but have forgotten it all.  At the minute I stay one note ahead of the kids – which means I can only play tunes with B, A, G, E, D and F sharp in).

However after a couple of folorn, squeaky melodies, I decided that was more depressing than poking my eye out, so I went back to my silent seething. 

Eventually I went past two accidents – one on the other side of the motorway, one on my side.  By this point I’d calmed down.  The lovely David Tait had liased with the organisers of the event and got my slot in the night put back and I always eventually move to a philosophical wondering of whether I would have been in that accident if I’d left a bit earlier. 

So I got to the Heart Cafe in time to read, hear some of the live jazz, and more importantly, hear Ian Parks read some of his Cavafy translations, or versions.  They gave me goosebumps.  I think they are coming out from Rack Press soon, and I can’t wait to read them. 

And then it was back to Barrow and it was the launch yesterday at The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere.  It was great to hear the poems from the other winners and it was lovely to read from my pamphlet.  But the nicest thing about it was seeing so many friendly faces.  There were people at the launch who were there the first time I turned up at Fourth Monday Poets, clutching a poem, terrified because I’d never shown anyone my work before.  There were lots of poetry friends that I’ve got to know over the last four or five years – from Lancaster, Barrow, Ulverston, Wales – lots of my family there, and there were obviously complete strangers as well.  It was lovely – apparently there were about 60 audience members which is pretty good for a poetry reading!

My twin sister was there as well, and apparently people kept coming up to her, congratulating her, asking her to sign their book – they wouldn’t believe that she was not me.  We had different clothes on – I think they thought I had gone and changed my outfit after I finished reading or something! Very funny.

Anyway, today I thought I would post the first poem in the pamphlet, and I promise, next week I will go back to other people’s poems! 

I am also planning on a mid-week poetry posting of a sequence that I’ve started working on and then abandoned, in the hope that it will spur me on to complete it!

Anyway, here is the poem.

Walney Channel-Kim Moore

There’s a door frame in the channel,
made of thin black twisted wood.

When the tide is in, it leads to water.
When the tide is out, it leads to mud

and the beginning of the old road
across the channel.  Listen at dusk

for the shouts of those who walked
that channel years ago.  This was just

a crossing, the only way, before the bridge
was built.  Each morning you’ll hear

the shipyard siren calling men to work.
Wait and watch the path appear

like the spine of some forgotten animal
turning in its sleep before you come

to find me.  Wear boots, or go barefoot.
Don’t stop, and if you hear them

calling, don’t turn around.  You’ll see
barnacles and seaweed on my causeway

and a blue boat waiting at the shore.

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Sunday Poem 6 – David Tait

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The Sunday poem for this week is ‘End Credits’ by David Tait.  David Tait was one of the winners of the Poetry Business Pamphlet competition last year, judged by Simon Armitage.  Simon Armitage said of his poems: ‘Careful and concise poems, like glimpsed scenes and small, intense dramas, full of knowing detail and telling lines.  Tender but shrewd.’ 

David is a very good friend of mine, as well as being an excellent poet.  You can see David read at the Manchester Royal Exchange, where he is the House Poet for the Carol Ann Duffy and Friends Poetry Series.  He will also be reading for ‘A Poem And A Pint’ at Grizebeck Village Hall’ on June 9th, which I’m really looking forward to.  I would highly recommend David’s pamphlet, ‘Love’s Loose Ends’ which is available to order from the Poetry Business website and David has a profile on the website too: www.poetrybusiness.co.uk

Here is his wonderful poem ‘End Credits’

End Credits-David Tait

As for beauty: I think I’ve experienced
the moment in life that will flash
before me at the end.  He was on top
and his eyes were shut, his mouth open
as if he were swimming: a child again,
his hair floating around him like seaweed.

Earlier that night we’d watched a movie
where the newly dead arrived in purgatory
to direct a short film of their happiest memory.
It was about coming to terms, and afterwards
we’d had a fight and made up and had another fight
as the credits rolled and we tore off our clothes
and love spooled before us.  And we were cameras.

Writers and strange childhood games

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Two days ago, the PBS choice arrived – always a time of excitement in my house.  I love getting books in the post.  This quarter’s choice is Paul Farley’s ‘The Dark Film’.  He’s not a poet that I’ve read very much, so I was looking forward to reading it.  I absolutely loved the book and would recommend anybody go and read it if you haven’t already.  I haven’t read any poetry for about  a month now because I’ve been making my way through ‘Game of Thrones’ and been slightly addicted to them, but Farley got me back onto reading poetry.  I’m now half way through Bernadine Evaristo’s ‘Lara’ – again, an amazing book – can’t believe I’ve not come across it till now!

Anyway, what became apparent as I was reading The Dark Film was that Paul Farley played rather odd games as a child, or as I should say more correctly, the speaker in the poem did.  My favourite was ‘Quality Street’, where the voice of the poem sits down and looks at the world through the sweet wrappers.  He says

“The wrapper of a strawberry cream
     unpeels a vivid red to dye
 the evening bloody monochrome”

and

“a dog crossing the square is flayed
     alive, leaves bloody tracks
and looks back with a blood-bright eye”

In “The Airbrake People” he creates a whole race of people attached to that exhalation of sound that a bus makes ( I assume this is what he means) He says

“They spoke to me.  Or spoke to something in me.
And that’s when I decided they were people,

a lost tribe come right to the edge of their woods”

The whole books is full of these strange ways of looking at the world.  And something that is hard to articulate, but I think he has captured brilliantly within the whole book – when I was growing up, I often used to pretend I was in a scene from a film, and I’d be planning my sound track etc instead of paying attention to what was going on around me.  Every poem in the book is filmic – and I wondered if Paul Farley used to play the same game –

And then that started me wondering, was it just writers who played these introverted games, or do all children do this?  I don’t have children you see, and I grew up with a twin sister, but we used to play rather odd games together that we would never have dreamed of playing with our friends.  For instance, we used to have this big tub of plastic animals that we used to move inch by inch up the stairs and then we would scrunch the duvet up in our bedroom to make caves and all the animals would then be sorted into their various types.  Each one had it’s own particular voice.  We even had a theme tune for ‘sad’ moments, like if one of the animals fell down the stairs. 

I used to lie down and look up at the ceiling and imagine being very small and the room being upside down, so I would be walking on the ceiling, and what the light fixtures would look like and what would I think they were.  I think I was a strange child! 

I also used to give the raindrops personalities as they were running down the windows – the fat ones being greedy and swallowing all the other raindrops up.  I used to look out of the car window and pretend I was galloping alongside on a horse, even though I’d never ridden a horse.

So I wanted to know if the writers that read this played odd little games on their own, like looking through Quality Street wrappers to turn the world a different colour, or giving raindrops on a window personalities, or do all children do these things?

If you would like to order the Paul Farley book details below.  I couldn’t find a specific website for Paul Farley, but there is absolutely tons of stuff about him on various websites – google him!

The Dark Film, Paul Farley, Picador Poetry, 9.99, ISBN 978-0-330-46123-8

www.picador.com/poetry

News

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I was trying to think of a more exciting title than ‘News’ for this post, but couldn’t think of one, so there it stands.  I have lots of news, or new things that have happened in the last couple of weeks, which is great, as I’ve actually not been writing very much.  I’ve been pretty busy with work, but also with various requests for poetry related things, which has never really happened to me before.  The editor of Agenda magazine, (www.agendapoetry.co.uk) Patricia McCarthy, got in touch to ask for a piece about the collaboration that I did with the composer Steve Jackson.  I collaborated with Steve last year to take part in the Rosamund Prize, and he wrote a song cycle for soprano.  There is a link to a performance of this here (http://youtu.be/9yQzsRm1IlE)

My collaboration article kind of turned into a write up of the two opposing, yet complimentary forces in my life (poetry and music).  I also sent the only two poems I’ve ever written that deal directly with being a musician and a teacher, so I think that lot is going to be appearing in a special ‘Poetry and Opera’ issue of Agenda towards the end of the year. 

I also found out this week that I was one of three winners of the Fermoy International Poetry Competition – the prize is a trip to Ireland and a seat on a ‘poetry bus’ that tours round villages in County Cork.  The festival website is here:  www.fermoypoetryfestival.com it sounds like it is going to be great fun, and I can’t wait for August now! 

I also responded to a submission call that Mslexia magazine put out on Twitter for 200 words about continuing to write whilst dealing with rejection and responsibilities.  I must admit, I concentrated on the rejection side of things  – and it was hard just fitting that into 200 words -but I got an email to say that has been taken for the magazine. 

My husband has also just got a new job – part time, 19 hours a week as a young person’s alcohol advisor, I think that is the title.  Anyway, it fits perfectly around the therapy work that he is doing, and this will make a massive difference to our finances.  I’m already planning when I can put my feet up and be a lady of leisure.  Ok, maybe that’s jumping the gun a bit……

Rather excitingly, the Michael Marks awards shortlist have been announced.  I’m very happy to see my publisher, Smith/Doorstop on the shortlist for the publisher awards, and also happy to see two Smith/Doorstop pamphlets on the shortlist as well from last year, Paul Bentley and Maitreyabandhu.  It’s disappointing to see one of the other winners from last year, David Tait didn’t make the shortlist – I think he should have been up there, but that is the beauty of poetry I suppose.  Everything is subjective.  Anyway, there will be a poem up here from David next Sunday – he is a fantastic writer, and actually young as well (as opposed to myself, who gets referred to as a young writer, but am actually decrepit compared to Dave!)  The Michael Marks award shortlist can be found here (http://www.wordsworth.org.uk/poetry/index.asp?pageid=642

To counteract all this, I would like to bemoan the fact that I have lost my filofax.  I have no idea where, in that I literally have no idea where.  I lost it sometime between Sunday evening on the train from Lancaster, and Monday night in Barrow.  I’m absolutely gutted, as stupidly I didn’t write down any of my commitments on a calendar – so now I’m having to try and chase them all up.  I know that I was planning to go to Spotlight in Lancaster this Friday (www.spotlightlancaster.co.uk) , but other than that – I haven’t a clue.  I could have something amazing and exciting planned for this weekend, and I would be none the wiser. 

So if anyone sees a brown, 80’s style filofax, please send it back home!

 

The Sunday Poem 5 – Suzannah Evans

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For once, I’m going to be in good time for this week’s Sunday poem!  Let me introduce Suzannah Evans, who was one of the other winners of the Poetry Business pamphlet competition this year (www.poetrybusiness.co.uk ) She will also be launching her pamphlet on May 26th in Grasmere.  Carol Ann Duffy  said that her pamphlet contains

“Tough/tender poems in which the language crackles with life whether addressing the urban or the rural and possessed of a truly exciting inventiveness”

I would definately agree with that – and also add that Suzy is the type of poet who writes about the things you wish that you’d noticed yourself, often with humour as well as crackly language!

Suzy has been previously published in Magma (www.magmapoetry.com) and The Rialto (www.therialto.co.uk) amongst other places and blogs at suzannahevans.wordpress.com

Suzy is one of the poetry editors for the online magazine Cadaverine, aimed at promoting the best new poetry, prose and non-fiction from under 30’s (www.thecadaverine.com)

Here is her wonderful poem ‘Leeds International Swimming Pool”

Leeds International Swimming Pool – Suzannah Evans

We took a crowbar to a locked door.
Inside, the paint flaked.
Changing room curtains
shivered with unseen rats.
Sweeping headlights
silhouetted rows of empty tip-up chairs
as we edged onto the diving board
testing its spring
and stared down into a mess
of table legs, road cones and spilled glass.
Grit dropped, crackling applause
into the pit.
The graffiti said:
Welcome to Leeds, Now fuck off, thank you.
We stood in the deep end
on yellowed tiles,
a place our feet had never touched.

Pamphlet proofs

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I’ve just sent back the proofs for my pamphlet to Peter Sansom.  Peter sent them to me last week, and I got back to him with some slight amendments, so this is the second time that I’ve looked through them. 

I heard horror stories from various poets who had their pamphlets/books published by other presses with mistakes in them, or editors who don’t even bother to send proofs through etc etc. 

However, Ann and Peter Sansom have been absolutely amazing with their attention to detail and how thorough they have been.

hen I won the competition, I obviously knew I would have my pamphlet published.  I knew I would win £500.  I knew I would also get a year’s subscription to Ambit, and a £10 voucher to use on the Inpress website.

I didn’t know that just as importantly, I would also have the wonderful experience of someone taking time to really look at my work.  A couple of weeks ago, I went over to Sheffield to meet Ann Sansom to go through the pamphlet.  It was a great experience – there was time for editing, looking at the many different colours for the cover and time for lunch and numerous cups of tea, and time to browse all the books and magazines in the office.

The whole experience has been fab, and I would really recommend anybody to enter the competition.  Simon Armitage is the judge this year apparently.  If you are lucky enough to be one of the winners, you’ll be well looked after.

The pamphlet launch is on May 26th at The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, alongside the other three winners, Suzannah Evans (whose poem will be appearing as the Sunday poem this week), Rosie Shepperd and Julie Mellor.

Poetry Workshop

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My next poetry workshop will be on June 9th at Barrow Library at 1.00pm-.3.30pm again.  The theme for this workshop will be ‘Editing and Redrafting’.   The first half of the session will be looking at general editing techniques using examples of a first and last draft, and for the second half of the session, I would like to invite participants to bring along a poem that they would like feedback on. 

This workshop is aimed at both beginners and more advanced writers.  Places are limited to 11 participants, and the last workshop on May 9th was full, so please sign up if you would like to come!  The workshop will cost £10Please get in contact via the Contact page if you are interested, or would like more information.

The May 9th workshop which was purely aimed at getting people writing was really enjoyable for me.  There was some great writing produced, and people seemed comfortable and confident enough to share their work.  I’m really looking forward to the June 9th workshop.

The Sunday Poem 4 – Manon Ceridwen

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For my fourth Sunday poem, I asked one of my good friends Manon Ceridwen to send me a couple of her poems which are personal favourites of mine.

Manon and I met at Ty Newydd (www.tynewydd.org) – the Welsh equivalent of Arvon on a poetry course with Nigel Jenkins and Sarah Kennedy.  I noticed that Nigel is back at Ty Newydd this year, and I would recommend checking out the courses on offer – Nigel was an excellent tutor, as was Sarah, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that the residential course completely changed my life!

I was dabbling in poetry up till this point – I’d been going to a monthly writers group.  Signing up for the course was a massive, scary thing for me, but the encouragement I got from the tutors helped me to realise that I could be quite good at the whole writing thing.  Nigel gave me possibly the most valuable piece of advice that I’ve ever been given, which was to write every day, and read every day.  He said it was just like practicing a musical instrument, which I could, of course, relate to, being a trumpet teacher.  To this day, I may not write every day, but I do read every day.  Nigel said if I followed his advice, I would have my first poem published within a year, and spookily, a year later, I had my first three poems accepted in Obsessed With Pipework – (www.flarestack.co.uk) which is a fantastic magazine which publishes new writers and more experienced poets.

Anyway, I met my lovely friend Manon on this life changing course.  This must have been five years ago now, but we have been friends ever since.  I’m very jealous of Manon’s ability to write funny poems, which is hard to do well, but she also writes beautiful, moving poetry as well.  Manon is a vicar, and in her poetry can be found spirituality, humour, politics, feminism and a fierce intelligence.  Anyway, I thought I would post two Sunday poems, because Manon’s poems are normally short.

Manon has had poems published in Poetry Wales, Envoi and Obsessed With Pipework.  Unfortunately for the poetry world, as well as working as a vicar and bringing up her daughters, she is also completing a PhD on the  influence of religion on women’s identity in Wales, which means less of her lovely poetry, so please feel free to comment and encourage her to write more!

PMT Riddle – by Manon Parry

What surprises me
is not that I get so shouty
and black hearted
but how I manage
to keep so calm
about the things that
really piss me off
for three full weeks
every month.

(previously published in Obsessed With Pipework)

A Priest at a Funeral – Manon Parry

I need all the rage I can muster
to keep this calm; to sculpt space
to hold shifting, fragile colours.

I marvel at how midwives day by day
caress women into their own artistry,
weaving love like expectant shawls.

I am the last to stroke the wood
that bears this ending; gathering
enough fragments of courage

to let it fall through my fingers,
chanting hope, forgiveness, dust.

(previously published in Envoi)

Funerals, Family and Flowers

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Today I had the day off work to go to my Uncle Pete’s funeral.  Pete was born on the 18th October 1956 and died on the 23rd April 2012.  Pete was my dad’s youngest brother, and younger brother to Carol and Rob as well.  I didn’t see Pete when he suddenly went down hill, on the 20th of April.  That weekend, I was reading at the Women’s Poetry Festival in Grasmere, but I couldn’t get the image of my auntie Joanne, their daughter Vicky and Pete’s brothers, sister and their partners sitting at his bedside until he died.

This is the poem I read at the funeral today.  I won’t publish this anywhere else, but I thought I would put it up here as a tribute to Pete.

They Could Not Follow You

They could not follow you.  They learnt this quickly.
But they could stand in the dark with you and hold
your hand, or light the way for you, with torches,
lanterns, candles, whatever came to hand.

They could tell the stories for you, the coal wagon,
the wheel, how you survived, remember how
you used to run your hands along their shelves
pretending to look for dust, the joke you played

involving a coffee cup and a toilet, the wisecracks,
the windups, the time Joanne fell in a bog
and you laughed and laughed, then hooked
her elbow with your hand and pulled her out

before she fell, the black cat Vicky bought
from Cumbria that made you smile, how you used
to love to go and watch the boats at Poole,
a husband, father, brother, uncle, an ordinary man.

There is a river to cross, a ferry man to pay,
but the last thing you said was that you knew
where you were going, and the bed became
a raft they made to send you on your way.