Monthly Archives: July 2013

Sunday Poem – Judy Brown

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Evening everybody!  I am pleased to report that I am writing this blog post on  my brand swanky new laptop!  My little netbook finally died last week after five faithful years of service.  My PC died about a month ago after about eight years of loyalty.  This has happened at a particularly inconvenient time as I have lots of writing ‘projects’ to do at the minute!  So this morning, I dragged the hubby and my parents round the shops to look for a laptop.

Part of me thinks this is very extravagant, to just go out and buy a laptop – especially now, when from September I will be down to three days a week as a music teacher, and I could technically share the husband’s laptop – except that I am rubbish at sharing (this comes from being a twin, I think).  Basically my idea of sharing is that the husband can use the laptop if I don’t need it.  Which doesn’t strictly stick to the definition of sharing at all really, does it?

I would also like to share a secret with you all today.  I say ‘you all’ – I have no idea who is reading this apart from my mum and dad.  But yesterday I felt like a writer.  This was a Big Deal.  I’ve never really felt like one before.  It happened like this – I emailed Acumen, a lovely poetry magazine which I urge you to have a look at if you are not aware of it already – www.acumen-poetry.co.uk to ask if they would be interested in a review I was writing about Fiona Sampson’s new book ‘Coleshill’.  I’ve had one review published by Acumen a couple of issues ago when I reviewed Myra Schneider’s pamphlet “What Women Want” so this wasn’t a completely random request.  I have no idea by the way, if this is the usual way of getting reviews published – I thought that the normal thing was to wait to be asked to do a review – but writing, very politely to an editor to ask if they are interested in a review seems to work, because I got a nice email back from Glyn Pursglove, the reviews editor, the next day, to say yes, and if I could get it to him by the end of the month it could go in the next issue.

And it was this simple thing that gave me a little fizz of excitement in my stomach, and made me think ‘I’m a writer’.  And then it faded away, but that was enough to make me think ‘screw it I need, no not want, need a laptop.’  So I think I’ve hit upon the answer to saving the economy – which is clearly – give money to wonderful magazines like Acumen, who will then pay poets like me to write reviews, which will then give them a burst of confidence and propel them to the nearest well known computer selling store and buy a shiny new laptop.  Economy – solved.

Anyway, I digress, greatly.  This week as some of you my twin sister has being doing the Cumbria Coastal Walk with her friend.  They are raising money for Animal Concern, and if you did feel moved to send them some money for sponsorship, it is not too late!  You will find the info at http://www.animalconcernwest.co.uk/#/201307-charity-walk/4577022400

The plan was to walk 100 miles – from Grange over Sands to Workington.  My sister’s friend developed huge and evil-looking blisters that managed to consume half of the sand in the estuary they waded over, and so she was only able to do half days for the last couple of days of the walk, but she then morphed into support car driver for the rest of the walk, so she did not just put her crippled feet up!  The sister managed the whole walk – I did bits of it with her – and she had aggressive bullocks, missing paths, flooded paths, barbed wire fences that were not supposed to be there, high tides, jellyfish, diversions, brambles, runaway dogs and general being knackered to contend with, but am very proud to report that she did it all, and mostly without losing her temper!

In my previous post I was so tired because I’d just finished Day 1 – 17 miles.  I also did about ten miles of Day 2 which was Ulverston to Barrow.  Unfortunately Miles, one of my border terriers, stepped on a jellyfish and started having a very extreme reaction and I had to rush him to the vets so he could have a steroid injection, which was very distressing for him and me!  This all happened in 28 degree heat as well so it was just awful.  Anyway, it took about an hour and then he eventually calmed down and he was a lot better then – and is now fully recovered from his trauma!

So a lot of the week has been taken up with going back and forth and doing bits of the Cumbria Coastal Way, however on Saturday I went to the Theatre By The Lake in Keswick to meet up with the Alligator Club http://thealligatorclub.co.uk/

I think I’ve mentioned this before but I am working with two playwrights from The Alligator Club, alongside another local Cumbrian writer, Ian Hill, to write a play to be performed at Theatre by the Lake.  You can find information about it here – http://www.theatrebythelake.com/production/10963/Cartographers

The meeting went really well, and it’s really exciting to be involved – and it’s also going to be a completely different way of working to what I’m used to.  But this can only be a Good Thing.

In fact, I’m hoping to be doing lots of work on it in the next couple of days as on Thursday I’m swanning off to Ireland to the Fermoy Poetry Festival.  I’m going to try and blog before then, but there may be a brief hiatus in the Sunday poem whilst I’m away – I don’t know if I will have time to access a computer.

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Judy Brown and is taken from her first collection ‘Loudness’, published by Seren.  You can order a copy of Loudness here http://www.serenbooks.com/book/loudness/9781854115478 and you really should – it’s an excellent book.  I read it before I met Judy and I enjoyed it, but re reading it again, with the intention of picking a poem for the blog, I enjoyed it even more.  I think this is because I can hear Judy’s voice in my head now – I should explain I’m not hearing voices, Judy is Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere.

I picked this poem because it is about Angels.  Now, normally poems about Angels make me groan, because there are so many, and they are normally so predictable.  I feel the same way about poems about angels as I do about poems about children.  I expect them to be bad.  However.  This year I have discovered Kathryn Maris’s wonderful poems about children (also a Seren poet) and now, I discover a wonderful, fresh, invigorating look at Angels by Judy.  And I like being proved wrong about poetry, and this poem completely took me by surprise.

It is full of a dry humour but also beautifully lyric language; ‘When I turned/my face from flying,’ and ‘You never forget the standing start’.

My other favourite poems in the book were ‘The P45’ which finishes with ‘What else do I remember?/The revolving door twirling./My bent, martyr’s neck.’  I also really liked ‘In Praise of Greek Dogs’ and ‘On the First Night in the Cottage You Said It Was A Mistake for Me to Buy’ and if that title doesn’t make you want to buy the book, you are made of stone!  I should say that ‘Loudness’ was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize.  The other thing I should say is that there are some fantastic ‘holiday’ poems in the book too – again, a topic which handled by a lesser poet, can be as bad as being forced to look at someone’s holiday snaps, but Judy’s holiday poems are really, really good.

Here is the poem! I hope you enjoy.

The Ex-Angel – Judy Brown

My ballroom shoulders were ruined
by those wings.  Now there’s hardly a scar,
just a sheen on the skin as if the light
falling right there had passed
through frosted glass.  As it has.

I imagined them taking their leave
of my back: the exit hole fist-sized;
paramedics; a tussle of sinew and rag.
But it wasn’t like that.  When I turned
my face from flying, they shrivelled

like spiderplants freeing their young.
Feathers husked into onion-skin,
flaked, choking the shower.
You’ll miss the sky, more than one
person said.  They were wrong.

These days the strength of my body
is held in my legs and I like it that way.
I hung long enough like a doll
from the beating white engines of God.
(That kind of talk does no good.)

You never forget the standing start,
the torque of the upward stroke,
the rowing into the sun.  Yet I’d rather
sweat here, down on the dance floor,
tasting the street – if it weren’t for the birds.

When I see a swan, like a last clench of snow
at winter’s end, my eyes drizzle
melted light, my nose starts to drip.
Whatever I’ve done, it’s holy water still.
I dispose of the tissues with due respect.

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Sunday Poem – Sean Borrodale

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I am writing this post IN PAIN!  I’ve walked all the way from Grange over Sands today to Ulverston with my sister, her hubby, her friend and my hubby.

My sister and her friend are walking the Cumbrian Coastal Way to raise money for Animal Concern in Workington – they both volunteer there.  So they  are walking 100 miles of the Coastal Way – I sponsored them and said they could stay at my house and I thought that was all I had agreed to do, but apparently in one of those conversations where my attention wanders, I agreed to walk some of it as well!

So today, we did 17.5 miles – 5 humans and 5 dogs.  I have two blisters, my legs feel like they will never bend again and in the last 3km a tractor came tearing down the country lane (ok, tearing may well be a bit of a liberty).  Anyway, it nearly took me out with the trailer it was dragging behind it and I had to dive into the verge, which was full of nettles.

Tomorrow they are walking from Ulverston to Barrow.  I don’t know if I’m going to do that leg or not – I’m going to see how I feel when I wake up!

So I’m struggling to write coherent sentences tonight, so I’m going to leave you with the Sunday Poem, which this week is by Sean Borodale, who I heard read at Grasmere last tuesday.  His first collection ‘Bee Journal’ is published by Cape and was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.  I must admit, at first I bought it because I’d met Sean at a Poetry Review launch and he seemed like a really nice guy, rather than any interest in bees.  However, once I started reading it, he completely won me over into his world of bees and I challenge you not to be fascinated.

The poems are set out like diary entries as in each title has a date.  However they are beautifully paced and very musical, so not like diary entries at all.  Sean strikes me as being a poet on a quest – as in – I’m already looking forward to his next book, because I know he will be trying out something new and exciting, he seems to be constantly pushing the boundaries of poetry as an art form.

I chose this poem because I think it is so accurate in it’s descriptions of the queen bee – yet original as well.  In the reading, Sean said he wrote this after his bees had died, and thought it might be the last poem in the book.  I can tell you it is not the last poem in the book, but if you want to find out what happens at the end, you will have to buy the book which you can buy from Cape at http://www.vintage-books.co.uk

My favorite lines are ‘Those eyes are like castanets, cast nets;/woman all feral and ironwork”.  I think that close repitition of  castanets and cast nets is really beautiful and sure footed.  And the last line of the poem is wonderful as well.

Anyway, here is the poem – I will try and write later in the week when I can make more sense!

10th February: Queen – Sean Borodale

I keep the queen, she is long in my hand,
her legs slightly pliant;
folded, dropped down, wings flat
that flew her mating flight
to the sun and back, full of spermatozoa, dronesong.
She was made mechanically ecstatic.
I magnify what she is, magnify her skews and centres.
How downy she is, fur like a fox’s greyness, like a thistle’s mane.
Wings perfect, abdomen subtle in shades of brittle;
her rear legs are big in the lens:
feet like hung anchors are hooks for staying on cell-rims.
Veins in her wings are a rootwork of rivers,
all echo and interlace.  This is her face, compound eye.
I look at the slope of her head, the mouth’s proboscis;
her thin tongue piercing is pink as cut flesh, flash glass.
Some hairs feather and split below the head.
Those eyes are like castanets, cast nets;
woman all feral and ironwork, I slip
under the framework, into the subtle.
The wing is jointed at the black leather shoulder.
I wear it, I am soft to stroke, the lower blade fans.
Third generation queen of our stock,
you fall as I turn.  I hold your hunchback;
a carcase of lightness, no grief, part animal, part flower.
How downy

My Trumpet Teacher Is A Poet – Is That Cool?

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Evening folks.  This unashamedly cheesy title is the name of an article that I wrote that was recently published in Artemis Poetry.  I was asked to write about what links the various activities in my life – and this is what I came up with.  I’m posting up a link to a website called ‘Into the Bardo’.  The article is the featured article on the website at the minute at http://intothebardo.wordpress.com

I’m posting it as well because today has been a strange day.  I’ve been saying goodbye to some of my schools.   I’m going down to three days music teaching in September which means that some of the schools I’ve been working in for the last eight years will be passed to another teacher from the Music Service.

Part of me, if I’m honest, a lot of me, feels sad about this.  Part of me feels guilty as if I’m letting people down – or betraying them in some way.  This is all very melodramatic as well, I know, because most of me knows I’m not THAT important!

But the schools I did say goodbye to said really nice things about me – my job is the type where you don’t really get feedback on a day to day basis – but it felt wonderful to find out that the schools do notice that I’m doing a good job…

And I should explain I’m going down to three days to give myself more time to write, to read, to think, to do some writing projects that have come in, to swan round doing readings, to do some workshops in school – I’m aware I’m trying to pack quite a lot in to my days off – but hey, I figured I might as well be ambitious!

So there was that this afternoon – and the stress of talking through which school to pass on with my manager which was really hard, as I like them all!

And then this evening, whilst having a picnic with the husband and the dogs on top of Kirby Moor with the tide slowly coming in down in the bay and making strange shapes on the sand, my exam results came in for all 11 of my pupils that have sat ABRSM exams this time by email…

They have all passed – a mixture of passes, merits and distinctions – so  a big relief for me, and lovely to ring around them all and give them the good news…

So the article definitely fits with the type of day I’ve been having!  I hope you enjoy it.  You can find it at http://intothebardo.wordpress.com

and thanks to Jamie Dedes for publishing it on her website…

Sunday Poem – Jean Harrison

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Evening everybody – although for most of you apart from the night owls, it will be morning by the time you read this.  I’ve just got back from a lovely weekend in Stratford upon Avon at my friend-from-music-college’s hen night.  My friend-from-music-college is one of my friends I’ve known the longest – since I was 18, and I am now nearly 32!

I like our friendship for a number of reasons, and I also feel sad about it as well.  We don’t speak very much now – she is now a qualified accountant and has a busy job – well – accounting I guess and I’m busy teaching and poeting, as you all know.  But when we do meet up again it is just like before – which is strange as we have both changed but it is just as easy, and interesting, and funny being in her company.

And she knew the old me – the me I was at music college – which is very different to the me I am now – I used to drink a lot more – a lot, lot more – I loved going out and dancing.  I was obsessed with the trumpet.   I was more fiery and argumentative.  I was reading Charles Bukowski secretly in my bedroom.  And listening to Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones for the first time as if it was ME that had discovered them….it felt like they had existed for NO ONE else ever before!

And sometimes it is nice to see the people who used to know the old you – it’s not that I want to go back to being like that – but I like to know that it was real – that it happened.  I got drinking out of my system with the friend-from-music-college.  So did she – I know that a lot of people don’t get it out of their system so I think we were lucky…

Anyway, it was a great weekend!  We went to a spa hotel – I had a facial and I fell asleep during facial until the therapist person dropped a big dollop of cream on my eye by mistake and then rubbed it in whilst trying to wipe it off.  But I survived.  I spent most of the day in the pool or the jacuzzi.  We went out to a night club in Stratford which was pretty ropey – although not much different to nightclubs in Barrow to be honest – I danced to Bewitched and Cotton Eye Joe so that tells you what kind of night that was!

Friend-from-music-college also had lots of other, lovely friends who I got on with really well – even though they were not poets!  I was beginning to worry I’d forgotten how to converse with non-poets but it was ok.  Maybe I will put up a couple of photos from here of hen night, once I get them….maybe the shot of us all wagging the Finger of Shame.  The Finger of Shame is a class act which friend-from-music-college is famous for, as inventor of the move.  It involves wagging your index finger without moving hand with a look of disapproval on face.  It can be used in all situations – for example if there is a ‘lurk’ (creepy man who stands behind you on the dance floor – normally harmless, but persistant and annoying) if the whole group turns round and wags said Finger of Shame at Lurk they normally shrivel up and go and annoy somebody else…

I’m thinking of using it in my teaching if the situation arises, or with hubby if he misbehaves.

The only other thing that I need to tell you about this week is the monthly open mic nigh at Zefferellis in Ambleside.  Due to personal circumstances, Mike Barlow had to swap his reading with Polly Atkin, and Andrew Forster has managed to damage his shoulder so he wasn’t able to attend – but it was still a great night – lovely Barbara from Lancaster read – only her third open mic slot ever – and she did really well – I particularly liked her third poem which had a very philosophical slant…

Judy Brown read some great new poems that came from her jaunt around the west coast of Cumbria – I’m really looking forward to seeing these poems in print.  Judy also read a really good poem about St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere – Judy is one of the poets who have been writing poems for a craft exhibition in Grasmere – I found it hard to squeeze one poem out under pressure – but Judy has three!  And tells me she has now become obsessed with said church and wanders about their at all times of the day.  I imagine her a little like Cathy from Wuthering Heights knocking at the windows of the church saying ‘Let me in, let me in’…..

And it was nice to hear Polly read from her pamphlet again, but also to read some new things that she has been working on.  Also had time for a chat, which we never normally do so that was good!

So, on to the Sunday Poem!  Today’s is by Jean Harrison who read for Brewery Poets a couple of months ago when I was MCing.  I bought Jean’s new book at the time and have been reading through it in the mean time.  Her second collection is called ‘Terrain’ and is published by Cinnamon Press and you can order the book through the website at http://www.cinnamonpress.com

It is well worth checking out the website and signing up to the newsletter.  Jan Fortune-Wood, the editor is a lovely lady – I met her on a course last year.  There are always lots of special offers in the newsletter and Cinnamon Press run various competitions throughout the year as well.  Howevery I know Jean Harrison because we both belong to a writing group called ‘Brewery Poets’ which meet once a month in Kendal.  We bring copies of a poem we are working on and get feedback from the group.

Anyway, back to Terrain.  The first thing that struck me when I was reading the book is that the poems are deceptively ambitious.  I say deceptively because I think this is ‘quiet’ poetry.  It can handle repeated, slow and careful reading.  But the book, and the poems still strike me as ambitious.  An example of this is the first set of poems – there are 28 of them – all originating from Jean being a volunteer steward (is that the word?) at Abbots Hall Gallery in Kendal.

Now I have a confession to make.  I don’t normally like ‘ekphrastic’ poetry.  Mainly because of my own ignorance  – I know nothing about painting so I have a hard time connecting with a poem about or inspired by a painting.  However.  These poems drew me in immediately.  They are very vivid, but in a very precise, pared down kind of way.  It also strikes me as very brave to put such a long sequence to begin a book – but I think it worked really well, because you are kept moving through the sequence.  It does feel like walking through a gallery.  The other thing I like about these poems is that they do stand apart on their own, although together, they do add up to something greater.

This sequence is called ‘Disturbances’ and I’ve decided to choose Number 12 ‘Sunsets’  from the sequence as my Sunday Poem for today – just to give you a flavour of this part of the book.  This poem illustrates what I was saying earlier – I don’t need to know the painting which I presume is called Sunsets because I can picture it in my mind from Jean’s description.  I hope you enjoy it!

12. ‘Sunsets’ taken from a sequence  ‘Disturbances’
Jean Harrison

In her world
people never do well,

always blurred or small, at one side
picking potatoes or loading a cart,

or alone, cycling into wind.
Those forms smudged against a sunset

are probably human.  Round themthe earth’s melting back into lava.

I stand back.
She must have lived with these fears.

Look at this group of walkers on a beach,
how waves curve down over them like tsnamis

I know only from TV, observing tiny figures
in boats, at windows, swept off bridges.

Aid workers struggle in yellow jackets,
water rushes up the street, wind flattens the palms.

Reporters pick out the drama
flailing legs, tears, bodies.

The sun’s taking its revenge,preparing to shrivel the earth, they say

It’s all our fault they say, showing pictures
from the other side of the world

that come up on a screen
framed by curtains and a softly painted wall.

Next morning, no greenfinches in the garden.
There haven’t been any for ages.

Sunday Poem – Michael Conley

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Evening folks.  This is going to be a disgustingly happy blog post today.  I often go through life having a bit of a whinge – my favorite form of humour is sarcasm and the hubby’s nickname for me when I’m in a bad mood is ‘Sword tongue’.  However this weekend, I have felt ridiculously happy.  Maybe it has something to do with the weather – I love the sunshine and the heat and the long evenings.

Maybe it has something to do with the hubby arrived back from Italy on Wednesday – he had been away for 12 days with friends doing the Via Ferrata.  I didn’t publicize this fact, just in case I had any mad stalkers who would immediately set off for Barrow and sit outside my window, rocking and begging to come in.  Anyway, the hubby is back and he immediately set to work catching up with all the household tasks that I didn’t quite keep up with whilst he was away – laundry and recycling and washing up – he has also been cooking all the meals since he got back – it’s taken eight years but he is now well trained!

Maybe it is also something to do with the end of term is now in sight!  I love my job but the end of term as a music teacher is exhausting – an endless round of concerts and extra rehearsals for exams – but it is starting to come to an end now – two weeks officially left!

Today was the last concert of the year for Barrow Shipyard Junior Band.  We played in Barrow Park with St Pius School Orchestra and the sun was out – lots of parents and families turned out to watch us, and I had the nice job of presenting two of the kids with prizes – one for the Most Improved Player which the band vote for and one for the Player of the Year which I chose.  The two children who won the awards were really taken by surprise which was lovely.

On Tuesday I have about ten children all doing Grade exams from Grade 1 up to Grade 5.  Most of last week I spent whizzing around doing extra lessons but I have done all I can do now.  Most of the schools have done their end of term performance by now, so it’s down hill now!

Maybe my good mood also has something to do with the kindness of strangers – or not quite strangers because I am talking about Facebook friends – some of whom I’ve never met in real life.  I asked this week on Facebook for some advice on putting a CV together for a poetry opportunity that I would really like to apply for.  Quite a few poets sent me their CV’s for me to have a look at – and one got in touch and offered to help me out as she used to do this professionally in exchange for one of my pamphlets…So that is what I’ve been doing tonight – I sent her my first draft of my CV which I didn’t think was too bad – but she has completely rejigged it and made it make sense and have a train of logical thought – and now I’m thinking, really a pamphlet is not enough payment for the amazing job she has done – but not just that – her kindness -we haven’t met in ‘real’ life.    And this puts me in a good mood – but then I think I have often encountered this sort of thing in the poetry world which is one of the reasons why I love it so much.

Anyway, enough gushing! Today’s Sunday poem is by the lovely Michael Conley – another example of poetic virtue – last week he booked me to come and run a workshop in his secondary school and I waxed on in my last entry about what a good teacher he is.  Mike is a 28 year old teacher.  He is currently awaiting the results of a Creative Writing MA from MMU, which he studied part time.  His work has been published in Magma, Rialto, Best of Manchester Poets and Cadaverine.

Anyway, here is an example of him being a good poet as well – and I love the wonderfully acerbic tone of this poem and it counters my happy clappy blog post as well.  I like how dry and sardonic it is.  I love the inclusion of the awful text speak in the middle.  I like the meteors at the beginning representing the endorsements on a well known internet auction site and the fact that we get stardust at the end.  I like that we know what the speaker of the poem thinks of someone who would buy a Bart Simpson watch, but not why they decided to sell it in the first place.

I like to think this poem describes the start of some sort of nervous breakdown – after all, up to this point, the speaker has been very concerned about carrying out perfect transactions and getting good feedback – what has tipped him over the edge – maybe just the use of bad grammar and awful spelling?  Mike is an English teacher after all…

Auction – Michael Conley

I have a green meteor next to my name:
nobody has ever complained about me.
Ten more perfect transactions
and it will be a golden meteor.

I find an old watch. It is ugly
and bright blue;
the ticking hand
is Bart Simpson’s arm.

It sells quickly for £2.99.
I receive a message the same day:
thank you iam realy lukin 4ward
2 gettin my new Bart Simpson watch

I slip it into an envelope
place it lovingly on the kitchen table
and smash it three times with a hammer.

It hits the bottom of the postbox
with the hushed jangle
of settling stardust.

Lakeland Book of the Year Awards

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Evening everybody.  In an attempt to not do a mammoth post on Sunday I’ve decided to do a mini update about the week so far… It’s been absolutely full of poetry, which, as you all know, is how I like it.

On Monday, I did my first poetry workshop at a secondary school in Rochdale – invited by a friend of mine, Michael Conley, who was a couple of years below me on the MA at Manchester.  He is an English teacher at the secondary school but he is also a very good poet, and in fact I have used the opportunity to appropriate a poem from him as a Sunday Poem.

I love working with other teachers – both in music and poetry settings – I feel like I learn a lot from watching how other teachers work – and although Mike was supporting the workshop rather than doing any active teaching – I learnt a lot from him – he had a very calm manner with the teenagers.  He moved amongst them when they started writing, and they obviously trusted him, and wanted to show their work to him.  One of the Year 10 boys decided to write a poem entitled ‘What Mr Conley sees at night’ instead of, for example, ‘What the Cat sees at night’ but Michael diffused the situation with humour and took it as a joke, but then shut it down before it got out of hand.

So, I enjoyed delivering the workshops – the Year 10’s were brilliantly behaved and we found a way of sharing their work without embarrassing them – a variant on the ‘Secret Poem’ exercise! And it was great seeing Mike working as well.

So that was my Monday – and then Tuesday I was off to the Lakeland Book of the Year awards.  There were four categories, and I was on the shortlist of three books for the Art and Literature category.  To be eligible for the award, your book had to be about or based in Cumbria.

I was the only poetry book on the shortlist – and it felt kind of cool to be being judged against novels and glossy photography books and guide books and all sorts of other things, and my little pamphlet managing to hold its own.

The nice thing was that the judges said a bit about each shortlisted book, so even though I didn’t win, I had lovely things said about my poems and Eric Robson (of Gardener’s Question Time fame) read one of my poems out!  I went up and got my certificate and it was all quite nice, and then the judges announced that there was an overall shortlist for the Lakeland Book of the Year, drawn from the winners of each category, but because of the high standard this year, they had five books on the shortlist, and my poetry book was one of them!  So that was even nicer – I nearly crawled under the table when Hunter Davies, one of the other judges, said his favorite poem was the one rude poem in the pamphlet – and then proceeded to read the one rude line out at the very posh awards ceremony.

It was good for sales anyway, because I sold ten copies of my book so although it was mortifying at the time, it was also quite funny.

On my table there were some lovely people – a lady called Ros and her husband who has the most brilliant idea for a book that I’ve heard for a while – she was given a bursary from the Lakeland Book of the Year to help her write it- and Chris Stanbury, whose book ‘Wainwright’s Secret Lakeland’ was longlisted for the award, and Chris’s friend Stan, who took the photographs for the book and lovely Pauline Crossley, one of the lovely organisers of the Lakeland Book of the Year…

The winner of the award was Stephen Matthews for his book ‘Lazy Tour in Cumberland’.  I haven’t read it yet, but I’m planning too!

I then made my way to Grasmere to see Simon Armitage read – not much to say about it, except he was very good, very dry and funny, but I was so tired I scarpered off pretty quickly after the event finished…