Monthly Archives: August 2013

A week full of poetry


Evening folks.  Lots has happened since last Sunday, so I thought I would blog today in the vain hope of cutting down the ginormous size of the Sunday Poem blog.

I got back from my lovely friend Manon’s house very late on Sunday.  Manon is a fantastic poet and she blogs here  All week I’ve been thinking about Manon and wishing I lived a bit nearer so we could talk more often, hang out more often – the trouble with me, and maybe many people is we often don’t pick up the phone or reach out and say this – I just think it and then go on to something else and try not to think about it – I guess the news today of Seamus Heaney dying has made me think again about showing my poetry friends how much they mean to me – it has been humbling to read all the tributes to Seamus Heaney on social media – not just for his poetry – but him as a person – Jo Bell’s blog here illustrates this perfectly – she says ‘He was a giant who remembered how large the little people are’.  You can, and should read her whole blog post here

On Monday me and the hubby went over to Blackpool to meet my parents who were having a holiday there to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary – they went to see a few shows but whilst we were over there for the day we went into Blackpool Tower and went to the rather amazing circus, the rather rubbish Dungeons and the scary SkyWalk at the top of the tower, so we had a really nice day.

On Tuesday Jacob Polley and Helen Mort read at Grasmere.  I was really looking forward to this as Helen’s new collection is one of the books I’ve been looking forward to for a while.  I read it in one sitting on Wednesday – I’m obviously planning to read it again, a little slower, but it was very, very good and I would highly recommend it.  It’s published by Chatto and is called ‘Division Street’. I don’t think it is officially out till next week maybe.  And Jacob Polley was good – if a little more subdued than when I heard him read at the TS Eliot prizes, when he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand…

The lovely Jennifer Copley also has a new collection out called ‘Sisters’ published by Shoestring Press – I won’t say too much because she will be making an appearance on the blog later with news of her launch in Barrow in Furness as well.

On Wednesday we had a meeting for ‘A Poem and A Pint’ and I have the lovely job now of writing to some poets to ask them to come and read for us.  I haven’t done this yet – but I can reveal that Moniza Alvi will be coming to Ulverston on February 8th 2014 to read for us, which we are all very excited about.  Before that, we have Maitreyabandhu on September 21st at Ford Park in Ulverston and Judy Brown on November 16th, all at Ford Park in Ulverston.

On Thursday I went for a writing day with a couple of friends – taking it in turns to set exercises – in between a bit of gossiping and lots of tea drinking.

Which brings us to today – which started off in a wonderful way.  I applied for some work as a poet – and I got it!  I won’t say any more now but I will probably be able to say a bit more on Thursday when I’ve been for the first meeting.  It’s only a small job and fits in around my teaching but I was really happy because I haven’t really applied for many jobs full stop – so I feel a bit like I’m in the dark when I’m doing all this – so yes, very happy!

And then I heard about Seamus Heaney – and have felt strange all day, and moved by the tributes that have been coming in.  So tonight, I’m going to read some Seamus poems and have a glass of red wine, or two.

See you all on Sunday.


Sunday Poem – Helen Ivory


Evening everybody.  I’ve just got back from my week at Ty Newydd – I stayed at my lovely friend Manon’s house last night.  I had a fantastic week – but it is now 11.48pm and I have twelve minutes to write this blog and get it in before midnight!  The course tutors were Ian Duhig and Ruth Padel.  I’ve been on quite a few residential courses now and Ian and Ruth were two of the hardest working tutors.  Their work rate was relentless, they were available for repeated tutorials with all of the participants.  The other thing that really impressed me on the course was how they sat in on each other’s workshops.  It was obvious that they were really interested in what the other one had to say and were learning from each other, which I think is an excellent example of how learning from other poets doesn’t stop even when you’ve published dozens of books!  I met lots of lovely poets on the course as well – some really talented writers – Tom who was cooking in the kitchen was great – I ate stuffed marrow, chickpeas, porridge and various other concoctions that I hadn’t eaten before so was quite proud of myself.  And more excitingly I wrote some poems!  I’ve got eight rough first drafts – whether they will all survive as poems is anybody’s guess but here’s hoping.  I’m very relieved as I was beginning to wonder if I was going to ever write another poem again!  But I think they have all been bottled  up and waiting for me to have some time to write.  As well as my eight first drafts I also managed to almost finish my play for the show on September 7th – the deadline is now imminent and as soon as I’ve finished writing this I’m going to rewrite the ending and send it through to the director so he has it ready to give to the actors on Monday…and rehearsals start the following Monday!  Which is very exciting.

I’m also playing trumpet in this show – it’s going to be apparently a call and response thing with a norwegian of my very talented pupils is going to play the other part…

So this is a very short blog post compared to normal – but I’ve had a wonderful week.  Today’s poem is very short, but beautifully formed.  I heard Helen Ivory read a couple of weeks ago at Grasmere and I bought her new collection ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’.  Helen Ivory has had four collections published with Bloodaxe Books and her own website can be found at

She also edits the online magazine Ink, Sweat and Tears

I really enjoyed the book and particularly the way it is structured.  The poem I’ve chosen comes from a sequence of poems in which Helen gives a voice to inanimate objects.  Again, this has been done a lot in poetry – but I love the way that Helen has brought a fresh take to this subject, largely created by the scaffolding that she has put around the poems with the titles.  The sequence of poems are spaced out throughout the first section of the book.  So there is

What the Moon Said
What the Dark Said
What the Stars Said
What the Cat Said
What the Sea Said
What the Snow Said
What the Bed Said
What the House Said
What the Earth Said

Now if that list of titles doesn’t make you want to go and buy the book….

I’ve asked Helen if I could have the first of these poems ‘What the Moon Said’.  I like how Helen has woven our different concepts of the moon into this poem, from the nursery rhyme of the cow jumping over the moon to space travel.  But the thing that really makes me love the poem is the last image in the final stanza.  If you would like to order ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’ you can get it from

I hope you enjoy the poem


What the Moon Said – Helen Ivory

If you send me your jumping cows,
your space rockets
peopled by monkeys and dogs,
I will flatter you with my light.

And if you compose tunes,
I will choreograph
the bodies of the sky
for your delectation.

Cut open your church roof
let me drink milk
from a bowl on your floor.

Sunday Poem – John W Sexton


Evening folks.  It’s only been a while since the last post here – but in between the last post and this post I’ve read at a breastfeeding festival and been hiking around Rydal Water.

On Saturday I read at Ulverston Breastfeeding Festival – the main reader was Hollie McNish, whose poem about breastfeeding went viral on YouTube (

I must admit to being slightly reticent about this gig before hand.  I was worried because I didn’t have any poems about breastfeeding, or having children, not having breastfed or had children.  But it was a great night – my friend who does have a child came with me (without the child) and another local poet Kate Davis was performing too.

Hollie was lovely – very friendly but very professional.  She read three poems first and then I read for about 15 minutes.  Then Kate read for 15 minutes, then Hollie read another poem to finish the first half off.

At the interval, Hollie already had a queue of people waiting to buy her book.  I managed to sell nine of my wolves which I was quite pleased with because NONE of the audience were poets.  There was no one there who normally comes to the poetry events that I go to – I think most people there were there for the festival or had come down just to see Hollie – one woman had come from Manchester.  I always get a warm glow when I sell any poetry books – but especially so when it is to people that aren’t poets.  The audience seemed so positive – I think they had a really good night and hopefully this will encourage them to come to more poetry events maybe.

In the second half Hollie did about 45 minutes from a show she is writing about the experience of being pregnant and then having her daughter.  Normally this kind of stuff really wouldn’t interest me – because I don’t have children I kind of tend to switch off from it…but she writes about the experience in a really clever way and brings in politics and feminism and humour – and the way she performs is so good you can’t help but be interested.

Today I’ve been hiking with the hubby and the dogs around Rydal Water- we were going to go up Skiddaw but the forecast was horrendous so we bailed it.

And tomorrow – glory day! I’m off to Ty Newydd – it feels like this place is my second home!  I went on my first residential poetry course there – that was with Sarah Kennedy and Nigel Jenkins as tutors.  I think that was 2007.  Then I went on a Poetry Masterclass one with Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke.  That must have been 2008.  And then I think I went on a course in 2009 with Fiona Sampson and Alan Jenkins.  And then I went on a course in 2010 with Jo Shapcott and Daljit Nagra.  And I haven’t been back since then – in 2011 I got married in the summer of course and swanned off on honeymoon for most of the holidays which meant no writing courses for me.  And in 2012 – I went on a writing course at Holland House with the Second Light Network.  The tutors then were Mimi Khalvati and Myra Schneider.  And tomorrow I’m off on one again – the tutors are Ian Duhig and Ruth Padel.  I’m really looking forward to it – going on writing courses was one of the best things I’ve done – meeting other like minded people is just as important as the tutors really…and now I’m co-tutoring on writing courses..which I love just as much as going on them!

But that is tomorrow – and there is still a bit of Sunday left.    Today’s Sunday Poem is by John W. Sexton, a poet that I met on my recent trip over to Fermoy in Ireland.  John was a great laugh and a pleasure to hang out with but it was a relief to find he is also a great poet too!  He was born in 1958 and is the author of five poetry collections: ‘The Prince’s Brief Career’ (Cairn Mountain Press, 1996), ‘Shadows Bloom’ (Doghouse, 2004), Vortex (Doghouse 2005), ‘Petit Mal’ (Revival Press, 2009) and ‘The Offspring of the Moon’ (Salmon Poetry, 2013).

I bought Vortex, Petit Mal and The Offspring of the Moon from John in Fermoy – (what can I say, I got a good deal on all three!)

and haven’t read the first two yet, but did read The Offspring of the Moon in one sitting – a couple of days after I’d recovered from the poetry hangover.

The main feature of the book are these strange poems which are almost like riddles, except the answer is in the title.  There are lots of these throughout the collection.  The first poem in the book is called ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’ and starts

‘We’re those lopsided puppets awkward
in motion through the air.  Our wings
are fractured windows of pale glass looking
out, looking in, to nothing.’

I really liked this poem – later on the daddy long legs are described as ‘Ghost Needles’ – that is beautiful isn’t it?  And I quite like having the answer to the riddle in the title because I’m too lazy to work it out.  Written in the same vein is ‘Frog’, ‘Sunlight’, ‘Pulls’, ‘Cat’, ‘Sandman’, ‘Comb’, ‘Grass’, ‘Crow’, ‘Badger’, ‘Brain’ and ‘Bog Asphodel’.  They’re spaced out throughout the book and they were a real delight – very inventive language used throughout.  And then the other thing about this book is a vein of fairytale/fantasy/folk lore running through it – a twist of strangeness which I really enjoyed.

The poem that I’ve selected stands out from these two concerns that run throughout the book and I think that is why I like it.  I was all set to ask John for one of the wonderful riddle poems and then I got to this poem, which is near the end of the collection and it kind of jumped out at me – delightfully bonkers and as in a lot of John’s poetry – the title is of utmost importance to the reader’s understanding of the poem – it gives us insight.  It almost feels like the writer has let us in on a secret  that we are not supposed to know!

I think this poem is very funny and very sinister at the same time.  You can’t help but laugh – but then you feel uncomfortable for laughing.  I love the line ‘for they could not be/forced to do anything against their will’.

If you would like to buy ‘The Offspring of the Moon’ you can buy it from his lovely publisher here

I hope you enjoy the poem!

On the Morning a President Ordered the Invasion of Iraq – John W. Sexton

Fascinated by the ants in the sugar-bowl first thing
in the morning, black-helmeted and moving about
as if pedalling on low and invisible bicycles,
he tried several experiments, starting with feeding them
to the goldfish; but found the goldfish disdainfully
disinterested.  More fascinating was the fact that
the ants appeared unable to break the surface of the water
and paddled shallowly from one end of the fish-tank
to the other.  Admiring of their perseverance he
rescued them one by one, gave them all a chance to dry out
on the window-sill with a heap of sugar to keep them
focussed.  Then he tried to see how many he could keep
in a teaspoon without them crawling out, but found it almost
impossible to put them in there in the first place, for they could not be
forced to do anything against their will.  All in all
he spent over an hour playing with the ants, found it difficult
in the finish to leave them and make his way to work.  The last he
glimpsed of them was a swirling spiral of black dashes with legs
busying themselves around the tipped honey-jar he’d left
on the kitchen floor.  He watched momentarily the viscous golden mess
spreading out along the tiles, then turned his back and made his way
towards the car and his dull job.

A week of writing…


Evening folks.  I am doing a post tonight to save Sunday’s post turning into a huge essay…

This week I’ve been working my butt off…and have to tell you all about it!  Thank goodness I’m on summer holidays from teaching at the moment is all I can say, otherwise I don’t know how I would fit it all in.  My main problem is that when Chris was away I ordered Game of Thrones Season 2 to keep me occupied – which I have confessed to in previous blog posts (I got obsessed and was watching it non stop every evening).  What I don’t think I admitted to is that I also bought Season 6 and 7 of Desperate Housewives and I’ve been holding onto my self control by my fingernails this week.  I’ve had lots of writing things to do and I’ve had to restrain myself from watching non stop Desperate Housewives.  I also recently discovered Audible – I don’t want this to turn into an advert for Audible – but it’s amazing!  I downloaded it to my mobile phone and I can listen as I’m driving – I’ve just finished listening to ‘Dominion’ by C.J. Sansom.  Fantastic book.

On Monday I spent a huge part of the day and most of the evening working on my script for ‘Cartographers’.  On Monday I managed to get ten minutes worth of material down which I was fairly pleased with.

On Tuesday I went to Lancaster Train Station which I’ve been commissioned to write some poems about.  I had quite a successful trip and met the train guard that I met eight years ago when I first came up here for my interview.  A very nice man – he was telling me that he was meant to retire last year but he loves his job so much he asked them if he could carry on.

I went straight from Lancaster to Grasmere to the Wordsworth Trust to see Michael Symmons Roberts and James Lasdun read.  I must admit I knew nothing about James Lasdun’s poetry and was mainly going to see Michael read – he is one of my fave poets and a Very Nice Bloke too- he was my tutor on the MA at Manchester Met and has always impressed me with his professionalism and knowledge about poetry as well as his own writing being great of course.  Michael was as fabulous as I thought he would be – his readings are very intense, very reserved  – I think his is quiet poetry – it does not shout or draw attention to itself, but it is insistent and memorable.  James Lasdun was very very funny – very self deprecating and even though I swore I would not buy any more poetry books as I have so many to read and catch up on, I bought his book.  So my oath of abstinance from buying more books lasted – ooh – all of five minutes.

On Wednesday I was taking part in a training day at the Wordsworth Trust with John Siddique, Anne Caldwell, Andrew McMillan and Clare Shaw.  We are going to be leading poetry workshops for secondary school pupils based around the collections of objects and manuscripts at the Wordsworth Trust – the project is called ‘Real Live Writers’ and you can find more information about it here – if you are a teacher and want to book a workshop for your class, or if you are a friend and want to be nosy and see what I’m up to!

On Thursday I did more work on ‘Cartographers’ – met a friend for lunch, took the dogs for a walk, posted out two pamphlets which had been bought hrough the magic paypal button on the blog – my finest hour -working out how to do that.

And that brings me to today – which is Friday.  Today I got up late, went for lunch with the hubby and we then got the bus to Askam with the dogs and walked back to Barrow along the beach.  It took about two and a half hours and on the way we saw what we think was a small dolphin with its eyes eaten out.

But I’m not going to leave you with that image!  No, I have some good news!  Today I confirmed *some*details of the residential courses I’ll be running in 2014 – but if you want to find out, you will have to head over to the ‘Residential Courses’ page.  Which I haven’t writtten yet.  So give me a minute after you finish reading this!!

And tomorrow I will be reading at Ulverston Breastfeeding Festival.  I am a warmup act for Hollie McNish – who is going to be fab.  Kate Davis will also be warming up too – more details at

Sunday Poem – Julie Mellor


It’s back!  The Sunday Poem I mean.  I’m sure there was a bleak hole in your sunday last week when I didn’t post a sunday poem up – for only the second time ever since I started (I think)

I got back from Fermoy Poetry Festival ( very late on Wednesday.  So most of Thursday was a write off – I got up, went and picked up a pile of books that I’d ordered that arrived while I was away (felt slightly guilty at picking large pile up – it always seems worse when they all arrive together).  One of the books was ‘Edgelands’ by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley.  I’m reading this as part of one of the tasks I’m doing for my Writing School course and really enjoying it.  It’s beautifully written, as you would expect from two poets, and I like how it’s grouped into sections of the various things you find in the ‘Edgelands’.  So far I’ve read a section on ‘Cars’, ‘Paths’ and ‘Dens’ and I’m just about to start the next section which is about ‘Containers’.  I’m aware that maybe those headings don’t sound particularly exciting, but they really are interesting and well written.

The two authors went looking for dens built by children – I remember building a den!  They report “even though our forays into fields and waste ground were hardly scientific and exhaustive, we didn’t once find anything we could call an active den.  Still, it’s possibly all still going on, somewhere out of sight of prying adult eyes…”

After I went and picked my books up, I then went up to Calderdale Bridge to pick the dogs up from the dogsitters.  I am pleased to report that they have behaved very well and have not disgraced themselves.  Lola was very pleased to see me, but Miles looked at me with disdain, as if to say ‘Oh.  You again.  You remembered we were here.  How kind.’

Whilst I was away in Ireland, I wrote my first poem in quite a while so Friday was spent typing that up ready for Brewery Poets, a poetry critiquing group that meet at the Brewery in Kendal on the second Friday of each month.   We had a really lovely night – only a small group this month of seven but it meant there was more time to look at people’s work.  I’m quite pleased with my poem but I think I’m going to let it settle in my folder for a while now.

On Saturday I had another meeting at the Theatre By The Lake to talk about the play ‘Cartographers’ which I’m writing part of alongside Ian Hill, another local writer and The Alligator Club.  The play will be set in the woods at the back of the theatre and there will be four ten minute plays.  Three of these the audience will see in a different order, depending on which group they are in, and then all three groups will come together at the end to see the final ten minute play – which will be my bit.

Last night I was motivated enough after the meeting to sit for about three hours and try to get ten minutes worth of material down so I could then start editing and moving things around.  I haven’t looked at it this morning – haven’t got the courage up yet, in case it is rubbish.  I’m enjoying writing it, but there is a time pressure – we are all aiming for our first full ten minute drafts to be sent round by Thursday as there is music still to be added in yet.  The play is being shown in two matinee performances – at 1.30 and 3.30 on September 7th – and you can find more information here

The other thing I have to get started this week is a commission – my first paid commission!  I don’t know if I’m allowed to say too much yet, but I’m off to Lancaster today to do some research – again the deadline for this is September 1st – so everything is feeling a bit tight this summer.

It doesn’t help that I’m off to Ty Newydd on a weeks residential writing course on the 19th August.  I’m really looking forward to this – the tutors are the wonderful Ian Duhig and Ruth Padel – but I’d really like to get all the script things and the commission writing done, or nearly done before I go so that I can concentrate on my own poetry whilst I’m there…not that I’m complaining – I am very happy to be busy and sometimes I think – am I really writing a script?  Am I really being paid to write some poems?  and I remember dancing round my living room when I got my first poem published in a magazine – Obsessed With Pipework ( and I feel very happy, but then I also start to panic with a crisis of confidence….can I do this? and then I start to babble, as this last paragraph shows…


Which brings us to Sunday and Julie Mellor’s wonderful poem which was supposed to burst onto the blog last Sunday.  Julie Mellor was one of the winners in the 2012 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition, alongside Rosie Sheppard, Suzie Evans and myself.  Julie is a lovely lady and a great poet.  I hope Julie won’t mind me saying this, but I noticed that she was shortlisted lots of times for the pamphlet competition before actually winning.  I think this is a great testament to her – she didn’t get offended or annoyed, she took it on the chin and just kept trying and eventually she won.  A lesser poet would have given up – and maybe that is the difference between being published and not being published – not just talent but sheer bloody minded determination and perseverance.

Julie lives in Penistone and read English at Huddersfield University and has a PhD from Sheffield Hallam.  Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Brittle Star, Mslexia, The Rialto and Smiths Knoll.   You can find more information and poems about Julie at Michael Stewart’s blog where there is an interview and review   at

This is an interesting blog by Suzannah Evans about her residency at Bank Street Arts and Julie has a poem here too..

and another poem here at  Excel for charity at:

The poem I’ve chosen for the Sunday Poem is from Julie’s Poetry Business pamphlet ‘Breathing through Our Bones’.  I loved this poem straight away – the language is very thick and heavy and rich.  I think it is a masterclass in how to write and closely observe – and each image and metaphor she pushes and pushes at to take it further and further.  One of my favourite lines is ‘Clusters of sorcery, we store the sun’.  I think that is a brilliant line – an unusual image yet completely right for blackberries.  And these blackberries are evil aren’t they?  They have a personality all of their own – I wouldn’t like to meet them down a dark alley…

If you would like to read more of Julie’s poems in an actual book rather than on websites, get yourself over to and order a copy of her pamphlet!  It’s only a fiver and you will make Julie and her publisher very happy!  I hope you enjoy the poem, and thanks to Julie for letting me post it here.

Blackberries by Julie Mellor

We have darkened like the end of the year,
the knuckled hulls at our core
white as a maggot or a baby’s first tooth.

Clusters of sorcery, we store the sun.
The juice of us is a blue flame.
Even the wary fall for our frumenty smell.

Between children’s fingers we bleed black,
store our vengeance until Michealmas
when the devil unleashes himself in spit

and piss, and we rot like the underside
of hide buried in lime, lose ourselves
in softness, sink back into what we are,

almost fruit, almost tar, resist the creeping nights,
the toll of winter curfew, wait
in our thinned clusters like the eyes of the blind,

until eel worms eat at our ingangs,
hang on to the last, juice thick as oak bark liquor,
seasoned, vile,

then shrivel back to seed,
like the mole on the back of the neck
that marks you for hanging.


Fermoy Poetry Festival 2013


Evening folks!  The festival is over – I’m currently sat in my room in my friend’s house.  I stayed with Ita last year and she kindly put both me and the hubby up this year.  I’m absolutely exhausted – have decided I can’t hack having a social life – which is what the festival has felt like!  We arrived on Thursday and we have stayed out most nights till one or two in the morning, and been out, all day at various poetry happenings.

Thursday night was the launch of the festival at the Grand Hotel in Fermoy.  There were lots of poets that had come from all over the world to be there – quite a few from America, one from India, a few from England and three from Holland.  Thursday was relatively low key – we introduced ourselves and a lot of the American poets read poems as a kind of American showcase event.

After the reading had finished, me and the hubby popped over to Elbow Lane, which had been the focus of the festival last year to say hello to some old friends, including Billy, the landlord of the pub.

On Friday we spent the day reading poems in various locations throughout the town including the barbers, which was great fun as the barber turned up to the poetry reading later and read a poem he’d written after having us all in his shop.  The barber experience seemed to inspire quite a few of the poets to write poems about it!  I decided to go in the next day to watch him at work when there were no poets there but at least two other poets said that they were writing about him as well! Poor man!

Friday night was the launch of the official anthology of the Festival, the Blue Max Review which has poems from all the poets who read at the festival.  If you felt so inclined you can order a copy of the anthology from

My favourite poem from the anthology is Rachael Davies’s poem ‘Ten Things My Mother Never Told Me’.  I think it is a cracking poem and it is worth buying the anthology for that poem alone!

There were also readings from American and Irish poets on Friday night in Lombards bar.  This was the night I was prancing around the pub with my top on inside out, and didn’t notice till a local pointed this out to me.  How embarrassing.  I had a long white label trailing at the side of my top!  And a poet that shall remain nameless poured the milk that was meant to be for my cup of tea into his whisky by mistake (he thought it was water).

On Saturday we went to a couple of places to do readings but then we got a bit full of poetry so we went to the park and played on the swings and the exercise machines instead.  Saturday night was the launch of Gene Barry’s first collection ‘Unfinished Business’ published by Doghouse Press.  I like going to launches – they are different to normal poetry readings I think.  Much more celebratory and fun and you get lots of non-poets there who have come just to support the poet.

I read at Elbow Lane after Gene’s launch.  It was great to be back there again reading.  Rachel Davies, who I met originally on the MA at Manchester was one of the winners of the international poetry competition this year.  The other two winners were Ben Johnson and Erin Murphy – their prize was a flight to Ireland and a reading at the poetry festival and I thought they were all great.  Knute Skinner read and i liked his poetry enough to buy his book – but what I loved was his dancing!  You couldn’t stop him.  Not the same time as he was reading his poetry of course – this was afterwards when the musicians got up.

Sunday was the poetry bus and a poetry reading in the evening that was streamed live to Texas – hosted by Michael Clay.  By this point, after four solid days of non-stop poetry, I’m afraid I got a little hysterical and kept getting the giggles.  On the bus we had also invented the cliche whistle – I debated about whether to talk about this here in case some people got offended…but I will risk it as in the law of averages, four days of poetry readings are going to produce some cliches….

The cliche whistle is actually a little whistle that the hubby has on his hiking rucksack which you are meant to use if you are in distress when walking or climbing mountains.  We decided that two short blasts on the whistle should be sounded every time someone used a cliche in a poem.  This then developed to one long blast on the whistle if anybody introduced a poem with the words ‘This was inspired by’ (a personal pet aversion of mine).

Of course we didn’t actually blow the whistle at anyone apart from each other….

So last year, my highlights of the festival was meeting all the wonderful people there and how friendly everybody was.  This year was exactly the same – it has been great to spend time with some of my favourite friends from last year – Jan Glas and Tsead Bruinja.  But I also got to know Saskia Stehouwer a little better this year which was really nice.  Rachel Davies and Ben Johnson were a very funny double act this year and I’m so glad I met Ben – who lives in England, so I hope I will see more of him when I go back home at poetry events.  Michael Clay, who runs the poetry website Mad Swirl (  is a lovely, lovely guy, unfailingly enthusiastic about other people’s poetry and about life in general.  John W Sexton was also great fun and I’m hoping to put a poem of his as a Sunday Poem in the not too distant future as I think he deserves to be much better known over here.

Lovely poet/musician/artist Pat O’Connor – a Fermoy legend has been great again – he picked us up from the airport, did a poetry reading and then burst into song and then the next day came and played violin and guitar and sang.  I hope Fermoy knows how lucky they are having Pat!  Michael Corrigan and Niall O’Connor were two more poets from last year who it was lovely to see again this year-  I enjoyed Mike’s poetry last year but I think it is really, really strong this year.  And Niall has a book out ‘Winds of Change’ which I haven’t got round to reading yet, but I’m sure it will be good.  Another star of the festival was Miceal Kearney – absolute legend.  He was even doing cartwheels in the streets.

There were lots of other poets that I haven’t mentioned which I am sorry for – but it is getting late now and I’m too tired!

Tomorrow I’m off to Gene and Margo Barry’s house – the organisers of the festival.  They are hosting the Dutch poets and we are having a translation day tomorrow!  Which I’m very excited about – all three – Saskia, Tsead and Jan are fantastic poets – they have such unusual voices and I’m really looking forward to it.  So, no, I haven’t had enough poetry yet.

If anyone reading this would like to add their own comments about the festival, please feel free to do so underneath.  And I’m sorry if I haven’t mentioned you all by name – but this post is already way too long….

Blogging from Boredom


Good morning folks.  I am about to do something I have never done before, which could end in disaster – I am blogging from boredom…

I am currently sat in Manchester Airport with the hubby – we have been here since – our flight was at 9.05 or was supposed to be – but it’s been delayed – don’t know why.  It’s now 10.10 and it is supposed to leave at 10.40.  So I should be just coming into Ireland now, but instead we are sat at the airport.

I’m not really bored actually – more frustrated because I want to get going.  And I thought I might as well take advantage of the free hour of wifi you get in the airport…

Yesterday was a manic day – in a slow kind of way. I’d decided it would be a brilliant idea to get a manicure, pedicure and my hair coloured the day before we went on holiday – forgetting that left me no time to pack.  It’s a hard life isn’t it?!  Two hours getting my nails done and then my friend H came round to get the key so she can look after the cat – and we had a nice lunch – well it was nice after she valiently saved it from my attentions – I’d managed to undercook the jacket potato and slightly burn the quiche – but it was salvageable.  Then I had to get down to the hairdressers and spent nearly three hours getting my hair coloured – and then me and the hubby drove over to Calder Bridge which would normally take about an hour and fifteen minutes to drop the dogs off at the dog sitters house, who is a lovely lady who keeps them in her house and walks them for a couple of hours each day…anyway – we had torrential rain last night and the window wipers on the hubby’s car decided to stop working so we had to keep pulling over, giving them a wiggle and then they would groan into life again.  This is the car that cost us 200 from a teaching assistant i worked with who was going to scrap it – it has lasted two years now, so I shouldn’t complain really – but the journey took double the time because of this drama and I thought we were going to crash and die.

So we got back at about 11pm and then, of course I hadn’t packed and I kept procrastinating about shoes because I was worried about going over the weight – so I’ve ended up wearing my hiking boots because they are the heaviest shoes I own, my fave baggy jumper, my winter coat in case it’s cold so I do look a bit – well, large, whilst everyone else is in summer gear – but then it did say it was raining in Cork – so maybe I will have the last laugh when they all have soggy feet…

I got to bed at about 1.45am and we had to leave at 4.  I felt terrible this morning and flaked out on the sofa whilst the hubby loaded the car.  Then I snored all the way from Barrow to Manchester whilst the hubby drove.  What a hero!

I am thinking more and more I would quite like to blog throughout the Fermoy Poetry Festival – I don’t know yet whether I will be able to access the internet easily or not – if I can, then I will blog at night and let you all know what’s been going on.  Last year was like no other poetry festival I’ve been to, so I think it is a worthwhile enterprise….. I don’t know.  I have a suspicion this blog post is sounding very dull and I sound like I swan off getting my hair coloured all the time and nails done – which I don’t….but I wish I did!  I wish I had more time to go I mean…

oooh….apparently the plane is just pulling into the gate, so hopefully we are going to get going!  I will get to Cork, by hook or by crook.