Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sunday Poem – Nikola Madzirov



Fast is the century. If I were wind
I would have peeled the bark off the trees
and the facades off the buildings in the outskirts.

If I were gold, I would have been hidden in cellars,
into crumbly earth and among broken toys,
I would have been forgotten by the fathers,
and their sons would remember me forever.

 If I were a dog, I wouldn’t have been afraid of
refugees, if I were a moon
I wouldn’t have been scared of executions.

 If I wеre a wall clock
I would have covered the cracks on the wall.

 Fast is the century. We survive the weak earthquakes
watching towards the sky, yet not towards the ground.
We open the windows to let in the air
of the places we have never been.
Wars don’t exist,
since someone wounds our heart every day.
Fast is the century.
Faster than the word.
If I were dead, everyone would have believed me
when I kept silent.

Translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid,
Magdalena Horvat and Adam Reed

I wanted to put this up before I go off on holiday – what an exciting poem.  As I was writing my previous blog, I suddenly decided I would bite the bullet and ask Nikola if I could put this poem up – the worst he could say was no, right?  Anyway, he said yes, and very graciously too. 

If you would like to read more of Nikola’s work you could order his collection ‘Remnants From Another Age’ from here: 

 and why would you not want to read more poetry like that? The whole book is full of poems that are exciting, daring and doing something rather special with language, I think.  I love ‘Fast Is The Century’ for its mystery, yet the poem has its own inner logic which holds it together.  I love the refain of ‘Fast is the century’ which keeps coming back throughout.  I kind of had a thunderbolt moment when I read this poem, so I’m absolutely honoured to have it here, on my blog. 
As you can see from the biography below, Nikola is quite a big deal elsewhere in the world – maybe it’s my ignorance, or maybe we are still a little isolated here and too focused on British poetry to the exclusion of other countries, but I’d never heard of Nikola till I heard him read at Poetry Parnassus.  It will be interesting to see whether other poets/readers/commentators on this blog have come across him or not – he obviously deserves to be more widely known, and as far as I know has a collection coming out here next year with a pretty major poetry publisher, which will obviously help this. 

Nikola Madzirov, “a first-rate poet who deserves worldwide attention” (Tottenville Review), is one of the most powerful voices of the new European poetry. He was born in a family of Balkan Wars refugees in 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia. His award-winning poetry has been translated into thirty languages and published in collections and anthologies in US, Europe and Asia. In 2011 BOA Editions published a selection of his poetry in the US titled Remnants of Another Age. In the foreword, Carolyn Forché tells us, “Madzirov calls himself ‘an involuntary descendant of refugees,’ referring to his family’s flight from the Balkan Wars a century ago: his surname derives from mazir or majir, meaning ‘people without a home.’ The ideas of shelter and of homelessness, of nomadism, and spiritual transience serves as a palimpsest in these Remnants”—while Madzirov himself tells us in one of his poems, “History is the first border I have to cross.”

If you would like to find out more about Nikola you can have a look at this website for more biographical details: 

There is a really interesting interview with Nikola on this site: 

There is also a fascinating kind of analysis of the book which provides interesting background information here: 
Please let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy. 

Pamphlet Sales Update….


Evening all…  Just a short update on the pamphlet sales

I’ve now sold 150 copies

And given away about 40 for reviews or to family
And swapped about 10 with other pamphleteers – I suppose I should count them as sales officially, but I decided not to as there was no money changing hands! 

I found out in the last week or so that I got on to the Poetry Business Writing School.  There are 14 of us, and we meet every other month for the next 18 months.  Our first task was to nominate three books for the reading list and then Peter and Ann picked one of our three books.  One of the books that I nominated that is now on the reading list is Nikola Madzirov’s ‘Remnants Of Another Age’ which is quite simply, the most exciting poetry book I’ve read all year. 

Our first meeting is on September 8th, which I’m really looking forward to.  I’m also looking forward to picking up my third set of a hundred books – I’ve decided to take a small suitcase to put them in so I don’t have to kill myself lugging them from Sheffield to Barrow on a rucksack. 

At the Holland House course last week, Jan Fortune, the editor of Cinnamon Press came to do a talk about poetry and publishing.  She also read some of her own rather beautiful poetry, which I will definately be buying when it comes out – I think she said it should be happening next year. 

I asked her some questions about sales of first collections – so I know it will be slightly different for pamphlets, but she said 200 copies would be considered good and 600 would be amazing. 

So in my target driven way, have just decided (i.e this minute) to go for selling 600 copies of my pamphlet by myself.  I’m not taking into account what my publisher sells – as I can’t really keep track of that – but I do want to keep track of how much I can sell. 

Why do I want to sell 600?  I think I want to prove to myself that poetry can sell.  I like the feeling of getting money in exchange for poetry.  I think it seems like an achievable target to aim for.  I strongly believe that as poets, we should be getting out and promoting our work, and not just relying on the publisher to sell it.  I enjoy doing readings – although I’m not good at the hard sell – I tend to wait for people to come and buy it rather than chasing them round the room telling them how it will change their lives. 

Saying that, if anybody would like a pamphlet to read – and lets face it, it’s going to keep raining, so it’s a good idea to be reading, please email me your address etc and post me out a fiver and I’ll send you one.  Alternatively if you’d like a copy for review, let me know and I’ll send you one for free!

The Holland House Residential Low Down


Afternoon folks.  There are only one and a half weeks left of the summer holidays – it feels like it has flown by – but I’ve done quite a lot in the six weeks.  On Friday I got back from a residential course run by the Second Light Network (  It was a Monday-Friday course and the tutors were Myra Schneider and Mimi Khalvati.  But aha! I hear you cry, surely this course is for women of 40 and over, and by your youthful good looks etc etc, there is no way you can be a day over 21 Kim! However this is not the case – the course is now open to younger writers, in fact the organisers would like to see more younger writers, and sadly, I am many days over 21, but NOT 40.  You still have to be a woman to attend however. 

Anyway, when I first pitched up at Holland House in Worcestershire, the lovely ladies all looked at me as if I might be the kitchen staff, but once the little matter of why I was allowed to be there was resolved we all got on great.  I was sharing a room with the lovely Hilda Sheehan – and I had the strange experience, for the second time this month, of just immediately hitting it off with someone.  I’m so glad we were sharing a room together. 

We did get told off on the first night for talking too much in our room while someone was trying to get to sleep, so we resorted to insulting each other on Facebook after 10pm – that’s in case anyone was wondering what the cryptic comments were on my facebook page. 

All the people on the course were lovely – in particular Jill and Jennifer who are in the photo.  Mimi and Myra were great tutors and joined in with all the activities.  I would highly recommend the course to anyone around the age of 40 who happens to be a woman – it was very cheap for 5 days accommodation, food and workshops.  And the food was absolutely amazing – I was even inspired this week to cook a pasta bake – which if you know me, you will understand what a big deal this is.

I would also recommend joining the Second Light Network – it’s fairly cheap, you get copies of their magazine Artemis for free and all sorts of other perks – check out the website for more information.  Image

Anyway, I got back on Friday, after nearly eight hours of being stuck on the M6, that bane of my life and then I was up at on Saturday and Sunday to work in a burger van with the hubby.  Hubby’s friend who owns the burger van was on holiday, so in a bout of enthusiasm, we volunteered to run it.  On the second day, I think lack of sleep, lack of food (it’s suprising how much cooking bacon and sausages all morning can make you forget to eat) made me have a funny turn after we’d done our shift in the burger van.  We were walking the dogs in the woods, and my legs went to jelly and I couldn’t walk – so I had to sit on the wet grass and wait until I felt I could walk.  And then when we got home I went to bed and slept for four hours.  The only time I’ve ever felt something similar is a couple of years ago when I had post viral fatigue syndrome after having tonsilitis – the PVFS put me out of action for a couple of weeks so I’m going to have to take it easy I think for this next week – which I have been doing.  And on Sunday the hubby and I are going for a week in Bulgaria, so there should be plenty of opportunities for me to sunbathe while he goes on his mammoth walking tours. 

Anyway, the other thing I wanted to mention on here was please take a look at my ‘Readings and Workshops’ page – I’m reading in Morecombe, Kendal, Lancaster, London and Essex in the next month or so and it would be lovely to see some of you there. 

And if any of you fancy a very cheap 2 day residential course in Grange Over Sands in February 2014 – please get in touch.  The tutors are myself and Jennifer Copley.  I’ll be putting more information up about this very soon!

Sunday Poem – Jonathan Davidson


Hello folks.  The Sunday Poem this week is by Jonathan Davidson.  His latest collection ‘Early Train’ has been published by the wonderful Smith/Doorstop.  I first met Jonathan last year at Ledbury Poetry Festival, although we didn’t really have a chance to talk.  This year however, I was there for the whole of the second weekend and spent two lovely evenings in the pub with Jonathan, Andrew Forster and others.  Jonathan has a great sense of humour and is very passionate about poetry and the wider development of literature audiences, as can be seen from his biog below the poem.  I also recently saw him read at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, where he had the audience laughing out loud at his introductions to his poems.

There were lots of poems I could have chosen from ‘Early Train’ but this one is definately a favourite.  I love the humour in this, and the self-consciousness of it.  I would definately recommmend having a look at Jonathan’s collection – you can buy it from

On Learning a Poem by Peter Didsbury-by Jonathan Davidson

I am learning a poem by Peter Didsbury,
speaking it to the apple-crisp morning while walking
the knife-narrow lane.

I’m using the ‘image’ method, linking each line
to an object or two, to anchor the words
in the stream of my mind.

Things are not going well; the poem, Cider Story,
is not cushion-stuffed with images and lots
of the language is opaque

and will not be still but keeps drifting off towards
the shallows of my consciousness
where the ducks are feeding.

There are no ducks in Cider Story, although two
have just cut the sky with their urgent flight.
And now a single hare sits up

in a field and looks at me in much the same way
I imagine Peter Didsbury would, although
neither of them are in the poem.

And then a deer springs rhythmically across my path
into a thicket: his publishers, surely,
astonished at my nerve.

And here comes a red and yellow low-loader loaded
with oblong portable public conveniences
bowling along the lane

heedless of my health and welfare, unaware
that I am trying to learn a poem by heart.
Then the black dog appears.

Then the white cat.  Then the sound of the lapwing
and then the lapwing itself and by the time I enter
the neighbourhood watch area

I’ve barely half a stanza learned and images enough
to cobble courtyards with should I be of a mind
to do so, which I am.

Jonathon Davidson was born in 1964 and grew up in Didcot, South Oxfordshire. He now lives in Coventry and is married with two children.

He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1990 and his first collection of poetry, The Living Room, was published by Arc in 1994. He has published two poetry pamphlets, Moving the Stereo (Jackson’s Arm, 1993) and A Horse Called House (Smith/Doorstop, 1997). His second collection, Early Train, was published in 2011.

His many radio plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, along with adaptations of Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns and W.S.Graham’s The Nightfishing. His stage adaptation of Mary Webb’s novel Precious Bane was produced by Interplay Theatre and toured extensively in 2008 and 2009. As a theatre producer he has developed four poetry-theatre productions based on Bloodaxe Books’ anthologies, most recently Being Human, which tours nationally in Autumn 2012 (

He is director of Midland Creative Projects Limited, Associate Director of the Birmingham Book Festival and Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands. He is Hon. Secretary of the Humphrey Coningsby Society.

Poem by Jan Glas

Hello all
Here is the second of the two Dutch poets I met over in Ireland at the Fermoy International Poetry Festival.  I am so glad I met Jan last weekend – he absolutely melted my heart with his poetry and his personality..again I’m going to sound very gushy here – but I often meet lots of lovely people at various poetry events – in general, poets, I find, are generally lovely.  However, it’s not often that I meet someone who I immediately click with, and who I feel I would like to be friends with until I’m old and wrinkly.
I told my husband that I was going to kidnap Jan and bring him to live in Cumbria with us, and his only rather sensible response was ‘can he cook?’
Jan Glas lives in the city of Groningen and writes poetry in his native language Gronings and in Dutch. Gronings is part of the Low Saxon language, Low Saxon is spoken in the eastern part of the Netherlands and the northern part of Germany.
Glas published four books of poems. Three in Gronings and one in Dutch. His collected Groninger poems, with new poems added, will be published in 2012. He received the (German) Freudenthal Prize for new literature in the Low Saxon language and the Belcampo Scholarship; the literary award of the Province of Groningen. He was co-editor of three anthologies of poems in the Groningen language.
Glas frequently performs, reading his poetry. In 2010 he was invited to read his Low Saxon poetry in Istanbul and in 2012 at the Fermoy International Poetry Festival in Ireland. Jan Glas performed  his Dutch poetry at the literairy festival ´Wintertuin´ in Nijmegen and at the ´Dunya Festival´ this year in Rotterdam. In october 2012 a book of (Dutch) poems will be published.
This poem is one of my favourites that I heard Jan read – obviously the Low Saxon version is first and the English translation underneath.
Blonde knecht –  by Jan Glas
Wat ik ook schrief
ik blief n boer.
Boer mit ain knecht.
Blonde knecht ien
blaauw overaal.
Zun schient, knecht
en boer rusten op 
t laand en zomor 
streelt knecht
boer zien waang
en zegt:
‘wat n laive boer’.
En boer wordt rös om 
kop, kikt over t laand
en schut ien t ìn 
‘deur mor weer’, zegt 
boer ‘wie monnen nog 
ale gedichten melken.’
Jan Glas
The fair-haired farm-hand
No matter what I write
I will stay a farmer.
A farmer with one farm-hand.
A fair-haired farm-hand
in blue overalls.
The sun shines,
farm-hand and farmer
are resting on the land
and just like that the farm-hand
strokes the farmer’s cheek
and says:
‘What a dear sweet farmer.’
And the farmer blushes,
looks over the land
and gets to his feet.
‘Back to work then,’
the farmer says, ‘we’ve still
all the poems to milk.’
Jan Glas
Translation: John Irons

Fermoy Continued – Tsead Bruinja Poem


I know it’s not Sunday, but I couldn’t resist putting up an extra poem by one of the poets that I met last week at the Fermoy International Poetry Festival.  Tsead Bruinja is a Dutch poet who writes both in Frisian and Dutch.  He did a great reading over in Ireland and a lecture on the Frisian language – I think he said there are only350,000people who speak the language and something like 4% of the speakers of the language can read or write? (see Tsead’s comments below this post for the proper figures!) But maybe I’m completely misquoting those figures – if he puts me right, I’ll amend this post! 

Tsead is a great guy and a wonderful poet and deserves to be much more widely read in this country than he actually is!

Tsead’s biog is underneath this wonderful poem, which is the first poem in his pamphlet ‘Tongue’ which has been translated from Dutch and Frisian into English by David Colmer and Willem Groenewegen.  If you would like to find out more information about Tsead, his website is


darling no one knows about the previous lives
in which we passed each other by or missed the bus
one of us was on or you were my sister my mother
and it was doomed between us because too many

years or a faith loomed up between us
sometimes the distance must have been as solid
as a continent with me for instance busy
inventing fires while you and your lover

were lighting candles on the other side of the ocean
am I holding you too tight again I don’t want
to crush you but I’m scared and glad at once that

nothing will ever come between us again beyond
this universe where we can’t come together because
it’s much too small for the sorrow of two becoming one

darling let time tear us apart as we die one by one
we will fight back with bridges of words

Tsead Bruinja is a Dutch poet who writes both in Frisian and Dutch. He was born in Rinsumageest (17-7-1974) and educated in Groningen, where he studied English language and literature at the University. His Frisian debut De wizers yn it read [The meters in the red] was published in 2000. In 2008, he published his fifth collection of Frisian poetry, Angel / Sting. His Dutch poetry collections are Dat het zo horde [The way it should be] (2003), Batterij [Battery] (2004), and Bang voor de bal [Afraid of the ball] (2007). Dat het zo hoorde was nominated for the Jo Peters Poetry Prize. Translations of his work have been published in several international magazines, such as Atlas (India/UK), Action Poétique (France), Mantis (USA) and Mentor (Slovenia). Tsead performs his work widely and lives in Amsterdam. In 2008 he was nominated to become the next Poet Laureate of the Netherlands.

Fermoy International Poetry Festival 2012


Since Thursday the 2nd of August I’ve been in Ireland, more specifically in Fermoy at their first International Poetry Festival.  The festival organisers decided to run a Facebook Poetry Competition, and I was one of three winners.  The other winners were Michele Vassal from France and Fahredin Shehu from Kosovo.  The prize was a flight to Ireland and a reading at the festival. 

When I left on Thursday I was quite apprehensive.  I was staying for the duration of the festival at a committee member’s house and I was quite nervous.  After all, there are a lot of strange people in the poetry world!

I was met by Pat O’Connor, a local poet, painter and musician.  We talked (or to be more accurate – I talked and poor Pat probably struggled to get a word in edgeways) all the way from Cork Airport to Fermoy, a good 45 minute drive.

Pat was to become one of my favourites over the weekend – a lovely, talented, unassuming man.  He dropped me off at Ita Dempsey’s house in Fermoy.  The first thing Ita said to me was ‘oh, you’re very young!’ in a suprised kind of way. I think she may have thought that I would be up carousing all night.  I promised that I was very well behaved.  Pat stayed for some of Ita’s cake and a cup of tea, and then he ambled off.  I went for a much needed shower and to get changed, and then it was straight off to a civic reception by the mayor at the Grand Hotel in Fermoy. 

I knew that I was going to be alright in Fermoy when Ita took great delight in introducing me to everyone as ‘the prize winning poet’.  I’ve been to one festival recently where the organisers barely managed to say hello (and I’m not talking about Ledbury here!) so it was lovely to be treated so well, and straight away, I was overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was. 

After the civic reception with food and free wine it was over to the Elbow Lane pub for an informal open mic where everybody just stood up and read, or sang when they felt like it.  I met Billy, the owner of the pub, who is possibly the loudest person I’ve ever met.  He is absolutely lovely, and apparently, donated the back room of the pub to be used by the festival without hesitation, and then proceeded to paint the pub and re-upholster the chairs and seats ready for the festival. 

The festival was dreamed up by Gene Barry, an unstoppable poetry force in Fermoy.  All the events were free, including workshops by the likes of Matthew Sweeney.  There were readings from mid-afternoon onwards into the small hours of the morning.  The theme of the festival was ‘Inclusion’ and I thought Gene carried this off beautifully – there was an anthology launch from school children in Fermoy one day and the next day an anthology launch of the Active Retirement Group.  One day we all went off on the ‘Poetry Bus’ and went for a tour and a meal in Lismore, and this was for poets and audience members. 

I wanted to write some of this down to explain why there was no Sunday poem this week but I’m starting to realise there is too much to tell.  Me and Ita got on great, it was like hanging out with someone I’d known for 20 years.  There were two dutch poets there, Tsead Brunja and Jan Glass – I’m hoping to post a poem each from them up here on a sunday as they should definately be more widely known over here – truly exciting poets who use language in such a fresh way. 

On the last day, Gene Barry asked me if I would come back and headline the festival next year in Fermoy.  I was absolutely overwhelmed, and my first thought was ‘are you sure you want ME to do it?’  However, straight away I said I’d love to.  I’m so happy that I’m going back next year, as I’m already missing all my new Irish friends.  My only request was that Jan and Tsead could come back too!  Luckily, it had already been arranged that they will be coming back to do some translation projects which sounds really exciting, and I’ll definately be sitting in on their workshops. 

I always feel like I’m gushing on this blog, I think my enthusiasm carries me away, so I normally try and rein myself in.  However, after being in Elbow Lane all weekend, where everybody seemed to be brimming with enthusiasm, I am now thinking sod it, I’ll just go with it! 

I’ll try and post some photos on here later maybe – there is so much I haven’t said about the weekend.  And if you are considering going to a poetry festival, I would definately recommend Fermoy.  It’s an hour away on the plane, very cheap to get to, and all the events are free!