If feels as if time is accelerating since the start of December – maybe it is because December gets very busy for music teachers and the pressure is now on to get Jingle Bells sounding like Jingle Bells before Christmas in my normal teaching – which is more complicated than it sounds!
I am taking the Barrow Shipyard Junior Band caroling next week – on Monday we can be found playing carols in Asda, on Tuesday we will be at Anchor Court in Dalton and Wednesday we will be at Ormsgill Primary School playing in their carol concert. On Thursday I’ll be in Grasmere running a schools workshop for the Wordsworth Trust and on Friday you will find me in a heap somewhere…next Monday the band will be caroling in Tesco. This is our main chance in the year to build our coffers up to enable us to do exciting things throughout the year – last year the money we made caroling meant we could make our first album – which was launched on Tuesday last week.
We sold 44 copies on the night of the launch – I think we need to sell 120 to break even on production costs so if you would like one please get in touch.
Apart from the launch night the other thing I got up to this week was driving over to Darlington to work on a project with New Writing North which is based around the idea of working with newly qualified teachers and helping them to teach more creatively..I was just observing in this session but next time I go over in February I will be teaching part of the session – Anna Woodford led the session this time – a lovely lady who was great fun. I offered her a lift back to the train station and we nearly got lost – both of us paying no attention to our surroundings when we had arrived at the school a couple of hours later and then mishearing the directions we were given – but we got there eventually!
In other news I went to Sheffield yesterday to the last Writing School meet up at the Poetry Business. I think I wrote at least one poem which I think will go into my sequence – so that takes me up to 14 (if I keep them all). I also picked up two copies of The North magazine yesterday with my two poems in ‘My People’ and ‘The Dead Tree’. There are lots of great poets in this issue – and if you are looking for a good poetry magazine to subscribe to you can’t go wrong with The North. You can order it at http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk
If you haven’t already – do have a look at the ‘Residentials and Workshops’ tab – there are details there of the next residential I’m running in Grange Over Sands with poet Jennifer Copley in April 2014. You will also find dates for a residential I’m running in October 2014 with poet Clare Shaw down in St Ives – both are now open for booking – the Grange one has 8 places left – the St Ives one is ok for spaces as I’ve only just put the dates up. Both are £350 and this includes tuition, accommodation, breakfast and dinner. And my amazing company of course! A bargain…
Today’s Sunday poem is by a lovely poet I met at Torbay Poetry Festival in October – Isabel Bermudez. Isabel was born in Bogota, and came to England as a child. She has been published in various magazines and shortlisted in a number of competitions, including twice for the Bridport. She was Highly Recommended in this year’s Torbay Open Poetry Competition. Her documentary film El Corazon de la Basura, was shown on Colombian state television and at the Cuban International Film Festival in 2000.
Isabel’s husband Simon is a wonderful artist and Isabel gave me this poem on a beautiful illustrated post card which Simon had painted…I am always partial to a heron poem but I do like the close descriptions in this poem – and how sure-footed the poem is – each line break feels right. I also like the questioning or doubt in the middle of the poem and the description of the bird which looks only as if it is sleeping rather than dead – and the unnamed body found in the river that is the shadow behind the poem all the way through…
I hope you enjoy the poem…
Heron – Isabel Bermudez
Flung, her wings collapsed, elbows bent, intact,
as if heaving a huge sigh; her beak wrenched this way or that
brought in by the tide; grey lady, wheezed of life
morning in, morning after. Bodies too, on this stretch of river
cast up bloated with weeds in their hair,
not pristine as this old lady here. She’s only closed her eyes,
as if temporarily, only temporarily, forgetting to shake her wings,
take flight, as if any moment, she might…Suicide, murder, accident?
We’ll never know; a picture in the paper – party night,
walking home, last seen saying goodbye to friends;
hunched queen on Eel Pie Island, shriven, mute,
a grey flush of wings flying high over the slatey Thames.
No rescue boat, police cordon, divers, journalists
to document her demise, but for a short time only she’s
foreshore news for Sunday joggers, dog-walkers, wino
and the couples that walk on the towpath down by the brewery;
arms crooked; counting the days till spring