Monthly Archives: June 2014

Sunday Poem – Rebecca Farmer


Evening folks. This week has been the first week in a long time which has felt like it’s settled down into normality after a really busy period.  It has been a busy week at work – I’ve been doing extra lessons all over the place because I’ve had eight pupils doing music exams but apart from that, my time has been my own.  I’ve been getting back into doing lots of reading – I am ashamed to admit that I let my reading slide whilst keeping up with everything else in the last month or so.  I’ve also been trying to re-order my collection and put a few newer poems in and have sent that out to a couple of friends to get their opinion.  I’m finding this process quite difficult – normally I don’t mind getting feedback and critique on a poem or poems but this feels really hard and very different.  The lovely friends who are looking at it for me have been really positive and constructive but even still I’m finding it quite challenging – I guess there is a reason why we call a collection a ‘body’ of work.

I am now allowed to tell you my last piece of news however, which I wasn’t allowed to share before.  In October I will be Poet-in-Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival.  I’m really excited about it and hope to see a few of you at the festival.  It is all very much in the planning stages at the moment but if you would like to find out more about the festival you can follow this link:  I’m doubly excited that the fantastic poet Phoebe Power will be the Apprentice Poet-in-Residence as well – I think it’s going to be great working with her.

Today I did the Walney Fun Run 10k race.  My time was 54.21 which I was pretty pleased with – it’s a PB for me for 10k, which isn’t hard, as I’ve only done one 10k race anyway.  I really want to be under 50 minutes by the end of the year so I’m on track.  I’m really enjoying running at the minute – have just entered for the Endmoor 10k on the 9th July – probably a bit too soon to knock any more time off my PB – and apparently it is a very hilly course – probably should have checked that before I signed up….

So today’s Sunday Poem is by Rebecca Farmer – another winner of the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition.  Her pamphlet is called ‘Not Really’ which follows on in a pleasing fashion from Ben’s pamphlet ‘For Real’ which featured in last week’s blog…Rebecca’s pamphlet is a lovely yellow colour and I really enjoyed her reading at the launch at the end of May.  I’m always a sucker for a funny poem and the poems in this pamphlet have plenty of humour – as you’ll see from the poem I’ve selected as the Sunday Poem this week.  ‘Home Help’ reminds me a little of my good friend Jennifer Copley’s poetry – it is surreal, but rooted firmly in its own inner logic.  It leaves you wanting more but in a satisfying kind of way.  This poem made me smile – anybody who has owned or met a border collie will identify with the use of the word ‘bossy’ to describe them.  This poem follows quite a few poems in the pamphlet about the diagnosis and subsequent illness of a partner – so although the poem is a funny poem – it did make me smile – there is also something very moving about it as well.

Rebecca Farmer lives in London.  She was born in Birmingham and her parents came from Dublin.  She read Drama at Manchester University and is now studying for a PhD at Goldsmiths with a focus on Louis MacNeice.  Her poems have appeared in various magazines including The London Magazine, The North, Poetry Review, The Rialto, Smiths Knoll, Under the Radar and The Warwick Review.  If you would like to order ‘Not Really’ you can do so from the Poetry Business website at

Hope you enjoy the poem!

Home Help – Rebecca Farmer

God is hoovering my house.
He doesn’t have to
but, like a bossy border collie,
He rushes around determined to help.
Next He wants to make a cup of tea.

Soon, He’ll be making soup.
When I suggest He has a rest
God just puts His head on one side
and opens the ironing board,
humming his favourite hymn
and smiling.


Poetry in St Ives


Evening all!  Today I suddenly remembered it is already June and I need to crack on with advertising the next Residential Poetry Course that I’m running with the wonderful Clare Shaw as co-tutor this October.  I can’t believe how quickly this has come round. Apparently about a third of the places have gone already and I am expecting the places to go quite quickly so if you are thinking of coming, get in touch with the hotel and book a place – contact details below.



‘The Call of the Tide’ Residential Poetry Course,
Treloyhan Manor Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall,
27th- 30th October 2014

Course Leaders: Kim Moore and Clare Shaw
Come and join us for a week of workshops, discussions and readings.  The theme of the week will be ‘The Call of the Tide’.  In the beautiful setting of St Ives and surrounded on three sides by the sea, we will explore how encounters with the tide, the coast and the forces of nature can inspire and inform our writing.  There will be two mystery guest poets who join us mid week and time for one-to-one tutorials.

For more information or to book please go to the Treloyhan Manor Hotel website:

Alternatively you can ring the hotel directly on 01736 796240

There are limited numbers and we are expecting the course to be full, so please book your place early to avoid disappointment

Draft Timetable

Monday 27th October
2.30pm-5pm –Workshop with Clare Shaw and Kim Moore
“What the Tide Brings In” –
As we set sail on five days of creative discovery and development, we’ll meet and greet our fellows travellers in this introductory session. We’ll also start to explore the forces that flow through poetry; and to establish how we’ll discover and develop those throughout the week.  

8pm – Evening Reading in the lounge
Bring a favourite poem to share with the group, written by somebody else.

Tuesday 28th October

10am-1pm – Morning Workshop with Clare Shaw
“What the Water Gave Me”
Inspired by the ocean and what it offers, we’ll examine the principles of powerful language at work in contemporary poetry, and at how we can put them into practice in our writing.

3pm-5pm – Afternoon Workshop with Kim Moore
‘I need the sea because it teaches me’ – Pablo Neruda – Tuesday afternoon workshop with Kim
What has the sea taught us, and what is there left still to learn?  What can we learn from the people/fish/birds/animals/lighthouses/rocks/the moon/the stars/inanimate objects that make their home in or near the sea? We will attempt to answer these questions with poems, which will hopefully leave us with more questions than we started with…

8pm – Poetry Reading in the Lounge with Kim Moore and Clare Shaw
Wednesday 29th October
10am-1pm Morning Workshop with Clare Shaw and Kim Moore –
“The Edges of the Tide” –
From Arnold via Larkin to Oswald and beyond, poetry is created where ocean meets land. Following in their footsteps (weather allowing), we’ll take our inspiration from the extraordinary human and physical landscapes of the coast, and create some poetry of our own.

Free Afternoon – Tutorials available – participants to sign up at the beginning of the week

8pm – Poetry Reading in the lounge with two Mystery Guests

Thursday 30th October
10am-1pm – Morning Workshop  with Kim Moore
Stories of the Tide – Thursday morning workshop with Kim
The ocean plays a central role in the stories and myths that we tell ourselves.  The sea is a part of many idioms and phrases in language.  How can we use these myths, stories and phrases to enrich our own poetry? 

3-5pm – Afternoon Workshop  with Clare Shaw
“its always our self we find in the sea”: …. the ocean, the voyage and and lifewriting.
Ocean is one of the richest sources of metaphor. Whether literally or metaphorically, we’ll go beachcombing and find some version of ourselves to write about. 

Optional “Page to stage: performing your poetry” from 5-6pm with Clare Shaw

8pm – Poetry Reading in the lounge by Course Participants –
A chance for participants to read poems written on the course, or work they have brought along with them.

31st October

10am-1pm – Morning Workshop- with Clare Shaw/Kim Moore
A chance to bring a poem for feedback from the group and the tutors.  This can be a poem you have written on the course or one you have brought from home.


Sunday Poem – Ben Wilkinson


Evening all! You will be relieved to know that I did indeed survive Total Warrior.  It was really hot yesterday which was probably a good thing – I never felt too hot because we spent most of our 2 hour run covered in mud or in the middle of a river or wading through a skip filled with ice-cold water and when I say ice-cold I mean water with ice cubes in.

Here are some of the things I liked about Total Warrior

1. Clare Shaw and Keith Sagar – I have decided Clare Shaw must have been an Amazonian in a former life.  Not only is she great at running but she was unfazed by all of the obstacles – I’ve never seen anybody scamper up a wall so fast and whereas most of the women in the race had to get help from the blokes to help them over the walls – Clare didn’t need anybody’s help and in fact spent a large proportion of the time perched on top of walls helping me over.  It was also lovely to get to know Keith a bit better, who I bumped into briefly at my reading at the HEART cafe in Headingley.

2. The husband – Chris was a last minute addition to the team but thank god he was there!  On the last wall where you have to run up the wall and grab a rope (!) Clare went over first, then Chris, leaving me and Keith.  I’m sure Keith won’t mind me saying that we are not natural wall climbers – anyway, there was no way I was getting up there, so Chris ran back around the wall and gave me a leg up, gave Keith a leg up and then did the obstacle again.  He is like a very thin mountain goat.  Again, Clare and a random man grabbed me before I fell from the wall to my death..ok I’m slightly exaggerating – it is possible that if I fell I may have just broken something…

3.  The obstacles – They were good fun and now I can’t quite believe that I did them.  The mud is so awful that it kind of makes you not care about what is coming up – the mud makes you glad to get into the freezing water because it washes the mud off.  I was really terrified about the Electric Shock obstacle but I managed to slip between the wires and didn’t get one shock which I was very smug about.  In fact the obstacles kind of make you forget that there was actually nearly eight miles of running in between them…

4.  The goodies at the end – we got a t-shirt, a bandana, a can of beer, a bottle of water and a protein bar.  The race was really well-organised and I had a really nice burger and an icecream and a cup of tea afterwards.

5. Random people – the other race participants were lovely – was helped lots of times by complete strangers.  A marshall was so enthusiastic and confident in my ability to get over an overhanging wall that my natural obedience kicked in and I let him help me over…

Things I didn’t like about Total Warrior

1.  The walls!  I get dizzy whenever I go over the top of a wall – I don’t know if it is true vertigo – that is what I think of it as in my head.  At the first high wall, I panicked and didn’t listen to anyone’s instructions and kind of slipped down backwards – luckily my bony shoulder blades hit the wall before my head did and slowed me down…

2.  The slide at the end which everybody else thought was great fun I hated – I don’t like being out of control and it was fast and horrible and I screamed all the way down…I would never normally do that but wasn’t about to miss out one obstacle after doing everything else…

That’s about it really – the rest of it was really good fun.  I don’t have an urge to do one again, but I would do one as part of a larger group maybe one time.  Today has mostly been about recovering from my exertions yesterday.  I think every muscle I have in my body is aching now.  I went for a walk across the fields with the dogs and the husband and stupidly wore shorts and got completely stung by nettles – the rash has still not gone from my ankle to my knee and we got back hours ago so am feeling sorry for myself tonight.

The first official Sunday Poem since my short break goes to Ben Wilkinson, who I’ve met twice in the last month – once at the launch of his pamphlet ‘For Real’ which was a winner in the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition and once at the Northern Writers Awards last week – as Ben was also a recipient of the Awards.  I really enjoyed the recent launch at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere of the four Pamphlet winners and decided it would be a good idea to start off the Sunday Poems with a poem from each of the winners’ pamphlets.

I’ve really enjoyed reading Ben’s pamphlet – and chose this poem because I loved it as soon as I heard him read it at the launch.  The title puts us straight away into the emotional territory of the poem with it’s nod to Churchill’s well-known metaphor to describe his depression – his ‘black dog’.  I like how the poem starts with ‘When it comes’ – which tells us that the arrival of the hound has happened before and will probably happen again.  Despite this, I think this is a hopeful poem – there is a way of dealing with the hound – to ‘make it trudge/for miles through cold and wind and sleet’.  The poem is not unrealistically hopeful though – the hound does not disappear by the end never to be seen again – it ‘goes to ground’.

I think technically this poem holds together beautifully – the line breaks are perfectly placed and the poem is full of half rhymes and echoes.  I think the voice of the poem sounds very certain, sure and in control which sets up an interesting tension  because of the subject matter.

Ben Wilkinson was born in Stafford in 1985, and now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first pamphlet of poems ‘The Sparks’ was published by tall-lighthouse in 2008.  He is a keen runner, and among other things he works as a critic, reviewing new poetry for The Guardian and The Times Literary Supplement. He recently won the Northern Promise Award, presented by New Writing North as part of the 2014 Northern Writers’ Awards and the poem below comes from his brand new shiny pamphlet ‘For Real’ published by Smith/Doorstop.

If you would like to order Ben’s pamphlet you can do so from his website where you can find out more about him or from the Poetry Business website where you could order all four of the prize winning pamphlets – next week there will be another poem here from one of the winners.

Hound – Ben Wilkinson

When it comes, and I know how it comes
from nowhere, out of night
like a shadow falling on streets,
how it waits by the door in silence –
a single black thought, its empty face –

don’t let it tie you down to the house,
don’t let it slope upstairs to spend
hours coiled next to your bed,
but force the thing out, make it trudge
for miles in cold and wind and sleet.

Have it follow you, the faithful pet
it pretends to be, this mutt
like a poor-man’s Cerberus,
tell it where to get off when it hangs
on with its coaxing look,

leave it tethered to a lamppost
and forget those pangs of guilt.
Know it’s no dog but a phantom,
fur so dark it gives back nothing,
see your hand pass through

its come-and-go presence,
air of self-satisfied deception,
just as the future bursts in on
the present, its big I am, and that
sulking hound goes to ground again.

Updates before Total Warrior Race tomorrow in which I might be electrocuted/drowned/covered in mud and be unable to blog ever again


Evening folks! Just a fairly brief message to say hi and possibly bye!  Tomorrow I’m part of ‘The Flying Poets’ team along with Clare Shaw, Lucy Burnett, Keith Sagar and last minute addition of the husband taking part in the Leeds Total Warrior race

With names for the obstacles like ‘The Shocker’ and ‘Death Valley’ I’m sure there is nothing to worry about at all.  I’ve never done anything like this before in my life and have been assured it is great fun…if I survive, I will return on Sunday with the first Sunday Poem.

This week has been an amazing week.  On Tuesday I went to Newcastle to the New Writing North Awards so am now allowed to share the news I’ve know for a good few weeks now which is that I’ve won a New Writing North Award of £5000.  I’ll be using the money to buy myself time to write – which in practical terms means I’ll be able to reduce my teaching down to three days a week again in September.  I had a lovely evening, mainly because one of my closest poetry friends, Andrew Forster had also won an award.  I was really happy to hear Andrew had won because he is well known for his work as a literature officer at the Wordsworth Trust which can sometimes mean he gets overlooked as a poet – despite being in the GCSE Anthologies and about to bring his third poetry collection out.

The lovely Andrew McMillan also won an award – Andrew is having a great year – having just had his first collection accepted by Cape.  Here is the official link to the New Writing North website if you would like to read the press release:

While I’ve been working on the residency at the Poetry School I’ve also had some great news regarding the domestic violence sequence I’ve been working on.  The first poem from the sequence ‘In That Year’ will be in the next Poetry News, the newsletter for the Poetry Society – the theme was ‘Loss’ and Carrie Etter was the selector so that has made me very happy as I’ve not been in Poetry News before and it was the first poem to be published from the sequence.  About a week later I got an email saying that Poetry Wales had accepted three poems from the sequence and have just found out they will be in the next issue which I think will be out very shortly, and finally while I was at the award ceremony for New Writing North I got an email from Poem saying they would like to take another three.  I feel much more confident now about publishing the sequence as part of the first collection – it feels like the poems are starting to earn their place in the book now and it will feel good to let them out a bit at a time into the world rather than just all in one go.

So I’ve had a pretty good run in the last couple of months as regards publication and prizes.  I don’t lead a completely charmed life however – when I found out about the New Writing North award I ran out to tell the husband before he left for work and in the excitement dropped my phone on the pavement and smashed the screen.  Today it arrived back from the insurers minus the charger I sent it with – which is quite irritating… and more importantly than that, I really need to start editing my collection.  I’m getting more and more frustrated with not having the time to do it – to give you an example -today I spent the morning till 11am planning my Young Writers workshop for this afternoon.  Then I went to do some extra teaching for some children who have an exam next week and just need an extra push to make sure they are ready.  Then I cam back, got some lunch, waited for my phone to be delivered and then rang up to moan about the charger being missing.  Then I left to go to Kendal, ran the workshop, drove back, had dinner which luckily the husband cooked and went out to walk the dogs down at the beach.  I even went for a paddle in the sea.  We got back about 8.30pm and then I spent the rest of the evening obsessing about Total Warrior, printing the disclaimer forms which basically say if I get horribly maimed I won’t sue them and of course, writing this.  No room for my poetry in my day off which is meant to be for writing poetry…BUT I did find some amazing poems in the Poetry Archive to use in my workshop today – Dannie Abse ‘In the theatre’ and a poem by Fiona Sampson called ‘The Plunge’.  You can find both of these poems here

The poetry archive has a whole collection of poems about illness, death etc – cheery subjects but the young writers requesed it!  So after I’ve done Total Warrior tomorrow, assuming I survive, I’m going to spend the rest of the weekend doing some reading – which again, is not editing my collection but it is something I need to do to get back into the right frame of mind.

Dear Mr Gove…Sunday Poem – Kim Moore


Evening all!I’m back!  My residency at the Poetry School is about to finish – in fact I wrote my last article and sent it through to Will Barrett on Friday evening and I think it will probably go up some time next week.  It has been an amazing experience and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do the residency.  If you would like to see what I’ve been up to, hop over to The Poetry School.  If you click on this link

you can find my version of a manifesto which is a list of ‘don’ts’ (very tongue in cheek of course). They are all true – either I have done them myself (not many of them) or I have witnessed them happen, or a friend has told me about them.

If you click on this link you can find an essay called ‘Just One Poem’ which is about sending poems to magazines.

I’ve also been writing logbooks and running workshops – it has been really busy, but really exciting.

Starting from next week, normal Sunday Poem service will be resumed.  My new resolution is to be more organised and try and get my Sunday Poets lined up a month in advance and I do have the next three Sunday Poets waiting and ready to go.

I’ve been procrastinating about what to do with a poem that I wrote during the residency which is a letter to Michael Gove.  It was published on the Poetry School blog as part of my notebook, so I’m guessing it counts as being published now, and I don’t think a magazine would take it.  thought today would be a good day to post it though, having just got back from the Kirby Lonsdale Brass Band competition where my junior band took first place, their second win in as many months.  There were about 80 children in three different brass bands taking part – all playing musical instruments with varying degrees of ability.  I know I have put lots of links in this post, but if you ignore all of the rest, please click on the following ones, which give a bit of context and background into what is going on with music education at the minute.

The Guardian:

This is scary stuff – not just because my job is in trouble.  As you can see from reading the article – there are huge cuts coming to music services and it seems that they are being sneaked through.  I didn’t know about them till I read the above article.

Currently many schools opt in for ‘First Access’ tuition where a whole class gets instrumental tuition for a year.  After that, there are three options the school can take.  Option 1 and only taken by 1 of my schools at present is to keep increasing so that the class gets another year of free tuition with the brilliant masterplan of the whole of KS2 learning to play an instrument.  Option 2 and the most popular option is the children who want to carry on and can afford to pay for small group lessons do so.  Option 3 is that whole class of children do nothing with the skills and talent they have acquired and a new class gets the instruments in September.  Music education, at least after the first year is already the preserve of people who can afford it.

It is difficult, if not impossible to quantify the effects that learning an instrument can have on children – it is not something that can be measured, or maybe if it is, we haven’t find the tool to measure it with yet – and I’m not talking about a ten year old girl getting her Grade 2 on the trumpet after two years of playing, although these are good achievements as well – I’m talking about a child who was so shy when she first came to band that she cried at every rehearsal because she wanted to go home, who now runs into rehearsal and forgets to say goodbye to her mum.  Anyway – what I’m talking about is in the poem – and I am winding myself up even more writing this post.

I keep thinking about today – and how happy the kids were when they got off the bus.  I heard two of them saying to each other ‘We’re invincible now.’ and the other one replied ‘yeah we’re unstoppable’. How do we measure or quantify that feeling?  Of course they are not – we know this as adults and it might only be next year when another junior band comes along and wins…but how amazing that they felt that when they were young – to have that confidence in themselves.

Phew.  Rant over.  I promise after this I will hold back from any music education rant-posts.  But if you enjoyed it, google ‘Dear Mr Gove’ and you will find many, many letters to him written by parents, teachers and this amazing video by poet Jess Green who is also writing from the viewpoint of a teacher.

The problem seems to be that nobody, least of all Michael Gove, is listening.

There is a website with a petition running at – please have a look and sign if you feel able to.

Dear Mr Gove – Kim Moore

dear mr gove today I taught the children not to sit like bags of small potatoes in their chairs I taught them how to breathe with their bellies like babies do when they are sleeping we pretended we were balloons of different colours filling up with air dear mr gove we played long note beat that we looked up who holds the world record for the longest note it was a clarinet player who managed to play for one minute and thirteen seconds without taking a breath we held our notes as if we were monks singing a drone in a cathedral where the roof rises like a giant wing against the sky dear mr gove today the whole class played hot cross buns we talked about the great height of the note E we held thin blue straws between our lips and some of us went on to play an E and some of us fell towards a low A with its ledger line piled above it and another piercing its poor head dear mr gove we are brilliant at trying some of us know what crotchets and minims are and we will know this all our lives but some of still call them black and white notes we make up sayings to help us read music like Elephants Go Bananas Doing Flips like Electric Green Brains Dance forever we play the riff to Eye of The Tiger and sing along in the voices of tigers if tigers had voices like ours and today we remembered to stop dancing and singing and pick our instruments up in time today Mrs Jackson forgot how to play a D and Harry told her which valves to press I do not know how to measure this mr gove please send help and there is also the problem of Matthew who cannot read or write too well but who can play mary had a little lamb with perfect pitch there is the problem of his smile afterwards and how we write this down today we watched the muppets singing bohemian rhapsody for no good reason other than that it was fun and while I am confessing small transgressions last week we watched mr bean play an invisible drum kit the children have been playing an invisible drum kit in the playground dear mr gove I did not stop them today we talked about the muscles in the lip and tongue we did not know we had control of so many muscles we tried to look like musicians mr gove please help us