Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sunday Poem – Rhian Edwards

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Evening all!  First of all, I apologise for the silence over the last two weeks – last Monday I moved house finally – we had our offer accepted on a house, and accepted an offer on our house in April and have been waiting to move since then.  All I can say is that now I know why the economy ground to a halt – clearly solicitors hold the keys to the economy!  Anyway, last Sunday I spent the whole day packing the rest of the house up – and as my poetry books were the first thing to be packed, I didn’t have any access to the Sunday poem – which wasn’t the best planning admittedly.

So this is the first blog post I’m writing from my new house.  When I pulled up this afternoon and got out of the car, the bird song was deafening and then I realised that the only birds I ever heard in my old house were the seagulls.  I like the sound of seagulls – it reminds me of holiday but I don’t think I’ve ever lived anywhere where I can hear birds actually singing.

This morning I went for a run with the Walney Wind Cheetahs and ran down from the house to Furness Abbey where we meet which is about 2 kilometres.  I’m thinking about doing a half marathon in November so I’m gradually trying to build my distance up – the problem for me is going to be finding time to do this – the only solution may be to run faster, which I had to do today so I could get back in time, have a shower and then get to Lancaster for 1pm to run a workshop for Lancaster Spotlight called ‘Body Language’ – looking at different ways of writing about the body.  We looked at poems by May Swenson, Sharon Olds, Fiona Sampson, C.P Cavafy and C K Williams.  There were twelve people booked on the workshop today and they were lovely to work with.

If you are interested in attending workshops and live in the Lancaster area, get yourself on the email list for Lancaster Spotlight.  They have visiting tutors who put workshops on every now and then and I think the cost to participants is five pounds for a three-hour workshop which is excellent value.

On Saturday I did the Park Run – sadly on my own as my ‘boys’ that I usually run with were unavailable – one was dressed as a leopard (don’t ask) and one was gallivanting on holiday.  I wasn’t going for a PB – I just wanted to get round in a controlled fashion and not feel like I was dieing but I managed 23.45 which in fact was only 9 seconds away from my best time, so was slightly annoyed at myself for not having a go, especially as, looking at my diary, I don’t think I can do another one until the end of October.

On Saturday afternoon the husband took me to Linthwaite Hotel for afternoon tea as an early birthday present as I’ll be busy in Ilkley on my birthday, which is October 4th in case you want to lavish me with cards and presents.  Now, bearing in mind I don’t like sandwiches I ate a ham sandwich, a cucumber sandwich and a salmon sandwich.  The hotel had also cut them into nice neat oblong shapes which may have had something to do with my enthusiasm for them.  The cakes were amazing as well and both stuffed ourselves silly so we didn’t have to cook when we got back.

I also managed to unpack my poetry books this weekend as well.  The new house has two downstairs rooms and at the minute, the front one is our living room and the middle room next to the kitchen is now to be my writing room – I’ve finally got all my poetry books in one place.  It’s near the kitchen and the kettle.  I don’t have to climb the stairs to get to it.  All very exciting.  And once the boiler man comes next week, I’ll hopefully be able to use the gas fire as well.

I’ve still got lots of stuff still to unpack, but we’re slowly getting there – and I’ve started writing as well which I’m very happy about! At the minute, the poems I’ve been writing are sitting in my notebook because I’ve not had time to type them up, but the fact that they are there, humming away quietly to themselves, makes me feel much better.

Last Thursday (25th) I drove over to Hebden Bridge to read at The Bookcase. Carola Luther invited me to read alongside Peter Sansom and John Killick.  It was nice to meet John who I’d not met before and to see Peter who is always great fun.  Peter read a fantastic poem about cross country running which I’m hoping to use in some fashion in one of my workshops at Ilkley.  It was a lovely reading with a big audience, all squeezed in amongst the bookshelves and the bookshop owner was very friendly and helpful.  I managed to sell 16 pamphlets – I don’t think I’ve ever sold that many at one reading, apart from maybe at my launch.  I met some lovely people afterwards who came and chatted to me, and some of my favourite poetry friends were in the audience – the wonderful Amanda Dalton, who was one of my tutors on the Manchester MA and John Foggin, regular commenter on this blog and Keith Hutson who is another running poet.

Moving on Monday made this whole week manic.  We didn’t get the keys till 4.45pm which was highly annoying and stressful.  We got the last box off the van by 11.30pm – luckily we had my mum and dad helping us, otherwise we might have been there till 3am.

Last Saturday I took some of the junior band to see Grimethorpe Colliery Band perform at Forum 28 in Barrow – absolutely amazing concert  and I would definitely go again to see the band.  They were really entertaining and it was great to see so many young people in the audience.  Last Friday I was the Guest Poet at Spotlight in Lancaster and as well as it being a great night with some fantastic performers, I also managed to sell six pamphlets, which took my total pamphlets sold to 500.  I’m on 517 now after the Hebden Bridge gig and some sales through this blog and am now officially sold out!  The Poetry Business are sending their last 25 to Ilkley where I’ll pick them up on Friday and are reprinting next week so hopefully will have some more copies soon.

I also had a meeting with South Walney Infant School staff the week before last to discuss ideas for a poetry workshop and I’ll be running an all day workshop for them around the theme of the Rainforest in early January, which I’m looking forward to.  So that’s basically what I’ve been doing – running, planning workshops, moving and unpacking boxes for the last two weeks.

I have my Sunday poems sorted for the next month or so now, so I’m hoping that will make it easier to keep up with the blog, even when I’m at Ilkley.

Today’s Sunday poem is by the lovely Rhian Edwards, who came to read for Poem and a Pint a couple of weeks ago.  Rhian stayed at my old house with us and was great fun, as I think you can tell from the poem.  I love the first line of this poem which is immediately funny.  The whole poem is funny in fact, even the ending, which is also, I think, a little sad – the idea of the Pest Controller saying ‘Then you don’t know what love is’  – what a thing to say to someone – one of those things that is an insult without the person who said it probably being aware that it is. I also like the over-the-top drama of the poem – for instance in the second stanza ‘Another one came to my bedroom to die.’   And in the third stanza I laughed out loud at ‘wondering/whether to give him a dedicated/copy of my book or slap on some face.’

This seems an appropriate poem this week, as I have found no rodents in my new house, and therefore do not (thank god) need to procure the services of a pest controller.  Hurrah!

Rhian’s first collection ‘Clueless Dogs’ is published by Seren.  You can find more information about Rhian at her website here.  ‘Clueless Dogs’ won the Wales Book of the Year 2013 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2012. Rhian has featured on this blog before with the very first poem ‘Parent’s Evening’ from her first collection but I loved her performance of this poem so much I wanted to put it up here.

Pest Controller – Rhian Edwards

My offer of tea was cryptic code
for marriage.  He politely declined,
obliging me to make small talk
about infestations.  I showed him the oven,
where I accidentally roasted a mouse
and told him I drowned one in a bin
when I caught it pissing blood.

Another one came to my bedroom to die.
I explained I wrote poems to excuse
my bedlam hair, ramshackle clobber
and foul play with rodents.
What kind of stuff do you write? He asked,
sticking his head in the bathroom cupboard
while fiddling for daydreaming vermin.

Love poems, the dark side, I said
hounding him round the house, wondering
whether to give him a dedicated
copy of my book or slap on some face.
Then you don’t know what love is, he said,
shaking poisoned grain into boxes
as if he were emptying a sweet jar.

The Shipwrecked House – Guest Blog by Claire Trévien

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Evening folks – another extra blog post that I hope will counter the last rather negative and depressing post about The Wordsworth Trust.  This is the first in what I hope will be a random series of guest blog posts.  I’m going to hand over to Claire Trévien in a minute to explain how her first collection ‘The Shipwrecked House’, longlisted in the Guardian First Book awards came to be transformed into a touring show.  This seems an amazing achievement to me – surely the poetry equivalent of a novel being turned into a film?  And if there was a poet that would be likely to do such a thing, it would be Claire who seems always to be doing something exciting with poetry – recently writing a 100 poems in one day to raise money for Refuge for example.

Claire Trévien is one of those people who frequently puts her head above the parapet by being out there and doing stuff – running the Sabotage Reviews  seems to be one of her main ongoing project, but she was also the driving force behind the Penning Perfumes project as well.  I’ve just had a quick skip over to Claire’s website here and there is lots of information about the other stuff she is up to – as well as writing her own poetry, she seems to spend a huge amount of time reviewing and editing and anthologising other people’s work.

You can find information like dates and venues for the tour over at Penned in the Margins but I’ve asked Claire to talk a little about how the whole thing came about – how do you go about transforming a poetry collection into a show that tours?  And as an extra treat, EVEN THOUGH it’s not Sunday, there is a lovely Trévien poem at the bottom of this post.  How about that.  I’m really hoping that the show is so successful that she has to venture a little further north so I can go and see it.

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Claire Trévien

The Origin of the Shipwrecked House Show

Since starting the process of transforming The Shipwrecked House collection into a show, I’ve been frequently asked the same sort of questions: how, why, and when was the idea born?

I have a precise date for the idea of transforming The Shipwrecked House into a show: 23rd November 2013. I know this because it was after hearing me read at Interrobang Festival that my publisher Tom Chivers pitched the idea. Since my collection was published in March 2013, I think that makes it clear that the show came after the book, which is a fairly unusual way of doing things perhaps. At the time we had lots of ideas about what it could become, I was keen to use poems I couldn’t normally read at poetry events and involve scents somehow (a minor obsession of mine), Tom was interested in it being a poetry show staged theatrically.

The first test was a preview in March at 4749 Tanner Street where Tom and I had a day to rehearse for a fifteen minute extract in the evening. We talked about themes that we’d like to draw out. I’d just come back from a trip to the Isle of Wight where the storms had dropped whole parking spots into the sea, I’d found brick walls fallen whole, carbonated tree trunks laced with fools’ gold on the beach. I was interested in discussing the darker side of the sea, the sea as a mass graveyard, the sea as a destroyer of coastlines, the sea as the great concealer. Although the collection is eclectic, common themes of environmental issues, Breton folklore, and domestic violence could be teased out, and we brainstormed about this at length.

It’s only once the Arts Council funding came in that the show concretised itself. I’d been involved in various shows as a student, but nothing to this professional level and it was a little overwhelming at first to be surrounded by all these clever and talented professionals, the core team of which was Russell Bender as consultant director, Oliver Barrett as sound designer, Gary Campbell as set designer, and of course Tom Chivers as producer/director. Perhaps the most terrifying aspect is that in the end the onus was on me to create the supporting material, to take charge of the direction it should take and, to perform it solo. In that sense the first two weeks were by far the hardest for me, as they involved transforming nebulous material, ideas we’d voiced but not put into practice yet, and gathering the input of several talented individuals into creating a cohesive whole.

The script had to be created from scratch in a short space of time using poems in an order that would make sense, with new material to bind it together. I found the endless discussions at the start of the process frustrating (‘but what does the home mean?’ ‘wait, where is this set?’) because I’m more of a do things first ask questions later kind of gal, but they were necessary. The key for me was realizing that even if the audience doesn’t see the links, we have to have our own internal logic for everything that happens on the stage. I wrote some dry material to accompany the poems at first, we either found ways to play or build on them, or replaced them entirely. As the process went on I became more confident about substituting phrases and editing sections to suit the performance. I’m not a playwright and don’t think I could write for the stage in a vacuum, but this way of doing things worked for me.

One of the things I’m happiest about with the show is that we did manage to incorporate scents, from my favourite perfumer, Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays with a specially commissioned

two-part scent. The audience enters to the smell of ‘House’ with ‘Shipwrecked’ occurring later. I’m not going to say anything more as it’ll ruin the surprise though…

Whales

Whales lived under our house
making the hinges rock, splitting cups and cheeks.

Stray socks melted in their comb-mouths
their fins sliced through conversations,
we found bones in our cups of tea.

Most of the time they just wanted to play
bounced against bookshelves, snorted leaks,
threw bodies across the room.

No one believed me of course,
the carpet looked too smooth to hide a mammal.

At night, I’d listen to their song
beat through the floorboard
like slashes of headlight.

For days they’d circle the house
take a dive into the cellar, press the doorbell
and run, I’d sometimes forget then trip
over the carcass of one beached
in the gutter.

The Wordsworth Trust

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For the last couple of months I’ve been turning this blog post over and over in my mind, writing it, re-writing it, deleting it, starting over again. A couple of months ago, the news came out that the Contemporary Literature Programme at The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere had lost its funding from the Arts Council.

The Contemporary Literature Programme covers the fortnightly reading series over the summer and the workshops that are held at various intervals throughout the year. It pays for one lucky poet to be Poet-in-Residence in Grasmere, living in a cottage on site and being given time to develop their writing, as well as running workshops and giving readings to the local community.  The Contemporary Literature Programme also funds a full-time Literature Officer, AndrewForster, who organises the readings, workshops and everything else that goes on to do with Contemporary Poetry.

The loss of the funding does not seem to have been in the news, or on social media very much. There was an article or two, there were a few outraged tweets and Facebook statuses. Then it kind of faded away.

I’m not writing this as an interested outsider, outraged about another northern arts organisation losing their funding. I care deeply about the Wordsworth Trust and feel very connected and invested to it. I go to pretty much every reading that they have over the summer. I attend most of the workshops. And I count Andrew Forster, the Literature Officer as a close friend.  We met first of all through the Trust and  Andrew has been encouraging and supportive of my poetry.  When I was first starting out he gave me a lot of help and advice on everything from publishing to tax returns.

If the Wordsworth Trust didn’t put on the readings on fortnightly Tuesdays throughout the summer, I wouldn’t get to see world-class poets as often. The nearest place to go and see poets of international calibre would be Manchester, two and a half hours away on the train for me from Barrow in Furness. So for purely selfish reasons, the decision to not fund the programmes is really upsetting for me. It means more cost, more time, more commitment to get to events. I know poets who can’t afford, whether because of time or money to put in the extra time travelling around to see things. For them, the Wordsworth Trust is their link to what is going on in the wider poetry world, past the world of open mics and poets that they write in groups with.

I do believe it is crucial for the two things to exist side by side. There should be open mics which give poets who haven’t read before a chance to perform or give more experienced poets a chance to try new work out. But there should also be the readings that the Wordsworth Trust organise where poets come and read who are inspiring and who change the way we think about things.

I also feel sad about the Poet in Residence position now, I’m assuming being put in jeopardy. Each poet has brought something unique to Cumbria – I will never forget Carola Luther’s warm-hearted kindness and interest in other people, and her poems that made me see the mountains that surround Grasmere differently, or Helen Mort’s wonderful poem about running down the Coffin Path, or Adam O’Riordan’s beautiful poem about the double wash-stand in Dove Cottage, and lots, lots more.

I don’t really know why I’m writing this, except that I didn’t want the passing, or winding down, or fading or changing of the Contemporary Literature Programme to go unremarked. I would love it if you felt able to write to Andrew Forster at the Wordsworth Trust, and tell him if you have benefitted from the Literature Programme in some way, and if you feel that it is important that it continues.

 

Sunday Poem – Kim Moore

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Evening all!  I’ve had one of those weeks that feels like you’re barely holding on to the reins of a horse that I have no idea of how to control other than to hold on for dear life.  This was my first proper week back into teaching and it was full on straight away.  Monday was the Barrow Shipyard Junior Band’s first rehearsal of this academic year as well and they turned out in force and with enthusiasm and excitement and daftness.  I love that they are so excited to see each other but I was slightly wrong footed last week – usually the first rehearsal is quiet till things get going so I was expecting an easier time of it but this week I’m ready for them – armed an arrangement of Dr Who and not afraid to use it!

After band I sped off to Dalton to the back room of a pub and did a rehearsal with Soul Survivors, the new Soul Band I’m playing with, which was really enjoyable.  It’s starting to sound really good now – although I did feel for the poor bar maid, having to listen to the same song, over and over again.

Tuesday was another full day of teaching, not finishing till 5pm with another band practice and Tuesday was officially meant to be our Exchange day.  However for various excruciating and boring reasons it didn’t happen, hasn’t happened and I think Scotland will be independent before I move out of my house and into my new one. On Tuesday night I went to Barrow Writers and took one of my running poems to get feedback on.  Just the act of reading it aloud made me realise I was being indulgent and gave me some ideas of where to cut it down a little.  On Tuesday Alison Brackenbury and David Scott were reading in Grasmere, which I was sad to miss, as I was looking forward to it, but we desperately needed a meeting for Poem and a Pint in advance of our event on Saturday and after Barrow Writers was the only time everybody could make.

Now I was remonstrated with yesterday by Martin Copley because my blog, has, apparently become too full of Running Talk which he is not a fan of at all.  So this will be a test to see if he has read up to here – if you have Martin, HELLO! And if you haven’t, well that Martin Copley has the loyalty of a fish is all I can say and I can continue to tell you about Wednesday, when I did the Ulverston 5k race and managed to complete 5k in 22 minutes and 54 seconds, thus meeting my self-imposed target of running said event in less than 23 minutes, so that was very exciting for me.

More excitingly, the husband ran it with me, and as he doesn’t run very much, I thought it would be easy to kick his butt and glory in my victory.  However I didn’t bank on his hiking/cycling stamina and realised he was right next to me at the 4th kilometre and what’s worse was even trying to beat me! How rude is that.  Here is a photo of us finishing the race – and if you have to ask whether he managed to beat me, you clearly don’t know me at all!

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On Thursday I spent the whole day doing admin things for my poetry work – sending invoices, planning the ‘Early Morning Writing Workshop’ for Ilkley Literature Festival – there is a link here if you fancy booking yourself on.  I’m really excited about the poems I’ve found for this workshop.  I also finally, and slightly late completed a short article about Sylvia Plath which I’d been asked to write by Artemis.  The rest of Thursday was spent eating, walking the dogs and going running to try and get Wednesday out of my legs which I don’t think worked well because my legs felt really heavy for the rest of the week.

On Friday I planned my Young Writers workshop in the morning and then went off to Kendal to deliver the workshop – there was a new member this week who seems very nice.  Due to cuts in funding, the Young Writers Group will only be running every other week from now on, which is sad, but at least it can keep functioning.

On Saturday my legs were too heavy and I was worried about a little twinge in my hamstring from my Wednesday exertions so I didn’t do park run, but just went for a very slow run with Chris and the dogs instead and then spent the rest of Saturday tidying my rather scruffy house up ready for the arrival of Rhian Edwards, who was the guest poet at Poem and a Pint last night.  I also edited my running poem at the last minute to read as my MC’s poem – I’m still not completely happy with it, but am glad that I gave it a first airing.

Poor Rhian had a six hour journey to get here from South Wales which involved a replacement bus service as well, but I think that even the rigours of travel were nothing compared to looking after a young baby and she assured me she’d actually had quite a nice journey!  Rhian was fabulous at Poem and a Pint – I particularly enjoyed hearing her new poems about birds and folklore and the body and transformation – something very close to my heart at the minute and I can’t wait to see them in print.

After Poem and a Pint we went for a curry and stuffed ourselves with poppadoms and then came back and gossiped till about 2 in the morning which didn’t seem excessive at the time, but when I woke up this morning, definitely did.  To make matters worse, we then continued to gossip till 9.35 when I suddenly realised what the time was and bundled Rhian into the car to get her to Ulverston for 10am so she could get her replacement bus service back to Preston and then on to South Wales.

For the rest of the day I’ve been playing at the Beech Hill Hotel Wedding Fayre with the South Lakes Brass Ensemble. It was our first experience of playing at a wedding fayre and it was fairly quiet and low-key.  I don’t know if it will lead to any bookings, but we did get some free pieces of wedding cake from the other stalls and a magician turned a piece of paper into a Ferrero Rocher (is that how you spell it?) for me so that was rather exciting.

I was also supposed to be moving on Monday but – well I won’t say that solicitors, estate agents and mortgage brokers are all incompetent, but I think somehow the ones I have found have proved themselves to be exactly that, so moving on Monday is now off, and we are waiting for them to suggest a date.  We have gone on strike and said we are not suggesting dates because it doesn’t seem to work.

And that was my week! Due to a complete lack of organisation, I haven’t got a Sunday Poem for tonight.  So I’m having to put one of my own in, which is against all the rules, as this is supposed to be about poems that I’ve read that I like, not my own poems.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Things will resume normal service by next week I hope.

On Twitter this week I discovered another poet, Simon Barraclough who also plays the trumpet which excited me tremendously as I’ve not met another trumpet playing poet before.  This came about when Holly Hopkins mentioned my poem ‘The Curse of the Trumpet Teacher’ which was published in a recent issue of The Rialto.

So I thought I would post the poem up here, for anybody that is interested, with a link to The Rialto, which not only is a magazine which smells good and looks beautiful but it also has great poetry in as well and I’m sure would be very welcoming of any of you taking out a subscription to support the publication of great poetry.

The Trumpet Teacher’s Curse – Kim Moore

A curse on the children who tap the mouthpiece
with the heel of their hand to make a popping sound,
who drop the trumpet on the floor then laugh,
a darker curse on those who fall with a trumpet
in their hands and selfishly save themselves,
a curse on the boy who dropped a pencil
on the bell of his trombone to see if it did
what I said it would, a curse on the girl
who stuffed a pompom down her cornet
and then said it was her invisible friend who did it,
a curse on the class teacher who sits at the back
of the room and does her paperwork,
a curse on the teacher who says ‘I’m rubbish at music’
in a loud enough voice for the whole class to hear,
a curse on the father who coated his daughter’s trumpet valves
with Vaseline because he thought it was the thing to do,
a curse on the boy who threw up in his baritone
as if it was his own personal bucket.
Let them be plagued with the urge to practice
every day without improvement, let them play
in concerts each weekend which involve marching
and outdoors and coldness, let their family be forced
to give up their Saturdays listening to bad music
in village halls or spend their Sundays at the bandstand,
them, one dog and the drunk who slept there the night before
taking up the one and only bench, gods, let it rain.

 

Sunday Poem – Pauline Yarwood

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This week I almost decided to write another blog post half way through the week so that this one would not be as long, but I didn’t.  Now, starting this at 8.30pm on Sunday night, I’m regretting my earlier tardiness.  Plus the X factor is on which is a little distracting – I like the audition stage when everyone is still quite raw and quirky, before they get manicured and prepped to within an inch of their lives.  Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted my weakness for the X factor – what about if I promise to never mention the X factor within these pages again?

So this week I’ve been in Penrith on Monday and Tuesday for two teacher training or Inset days.  It’s nice to see the other music service staff – because we are so spread out around the country we don’t get to see each other very much, but I’m sure I’m speaking for EVERYONE when I say by the time the end of Tuesday came we had all had enough of each other and were ready to go home…

On Monday I went with my twin sister Jody to Ulverston and we had something to eat and then had a cup of tea in Natterjacks which is this lovely late night cafe – who knew that Ulverston had such a thing?  We were killing a bit of time between the end of Inset and our South Lakes Brass Ensemble rehearsal in Penny Bridge.  In the cafe there is artwork for sale and some of the tables and chairs are even for sale and they have books and magazines and board games.  Jody found a pack of cards and bullied me into playing this card game which I don’t think I’ve played since I was 15 – and I’d completely and utterly forgotten about it – although forgotten implies that it was there and I just wasn’t thinking about it – but it was like this card game had been erased from my brain, but as soon as we started playing I did remember it – we used to play it ALL THE TIME – for hours and hours on end.  I can’t even remember the name of it now.  I’m looking over at the husband who is innocently listening to his audio book with his headphones in whilst the adverts are on and decide I will bully him into playing it with me too before the night is over.  I’ve just asked him and apparently he has packed them away!  For those of you that have missed the moving saga – we were meant to move house a week ago..now it is vaguely meant to be happening on the 15th but I’m not holding my breath.

On Wednesday the school term officially starts but only one of my schools wanted me in so I did 2 hours of teaching in the afternoon and then did a 5 mile run in the evening with Walney Wind Cheetahs.  I spent most of Wednesday trying to sort out my powerpoints for work – they are in a complete mess due to my habit of losing and then finding my pen drives which they are stored on.

And then it was Thursday and Friday which are officially now my Poetry days with a capital P.  This Thursday I did some work preparing for my stint as Poet in Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival.  I only managed to plan one workshop however – I don’t quite know now what I was doing for the rest of the day – apart from walking the dogs and eating of course.  Anyway, the workshop that is planned and organised can be found here but a couple of days ago when I checked there were only two places left on it so you will have to move quick.

I’m doing lots of other stuff at the festival but I think that needs another blog post.  So Thursday consisted of running in the morning – another five miles, planning workshop, eating lunch, walking dogs and then I went to Ulverston Library and played the Last Post to start off another commemoration to World War 1.

On Friday morning I planned my Young Writers workshop, paid the largest amount of money I’ve ever paid to the solicitors and then went to Kendal to run the young writers group.  We did quite a complicated extended exercise and halfway through I started to think that it was too difficult – but to their credit, the girls persevered and wrote some exceptional stuff – so that made it worth getting out of bed.  Then it was straight back for another quintet practice to really make sure we’re ready for this wedding fayre next weekend!

On Saturday I did park run again and beat my PB by three seconds (hurrah!) in the world of running this is considered good and I did start off thinking I was just going to take it easy but then changed my mind after the first kilometre.  I got back and for some reason thought I was due to be at the bandstand in the park playing with the Barrow Steelworks Band and after having a shower, sat on the doorstep for twenty minutes waiting to be picked up before ringing and finding out it wasn’t until Sunday…what a muppet I am.  I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon sorting through some free band music I’d been given, putting it in bags, a bag for my sister for her junior band, a bag with music suitable for my beginner band, a bag with music suitable for Barrow Shipyard Band and then a bag of music suitable for nobody in this century.  The husband rang to tell me he was two hours drive away – he’d been cycling with a friend, and I decided it would be a great idea to walk out of Barrow and meet him at the car park at Roanhead beach.  It was a beautiful walk even though it was a bit windy, I could see for miles along the beach, and I felt very lucky to be living where I live. But maybe two hours of walking after sprinting three miles was a little excessive.

Which brings us to today which has been full as well – I went for a run this morning with the Walney Wind Cheetahs and we had the most amazing weather – lovely sunshine but enough wind to make it not too hot.  We ran 6 miles with lots of hills and I definitely felt the two hours walking and the park run were still sitting heavy in my legs but I really enjoyed the run.  And today was the concert at the park that I was meant to be doing with the Barrow Steelworks band so again I sat on the doorstep and this time, did get picked up and taken to the park.

Thank you all for reading this far – I often think if you get this far through this meandering waffle then you deserve a medal, but I don’t have one, but you can have a poem instead!  This time courtesy of Pauline Yarwood, a lovely lady I first met – I don’t know when we first met.  It could have been in a workshop at the Wordsworth Trust, or maybe it was at one of the Tuesday readings in Grasmere which Pauline regularly attends.  It might have been at Brewery Poets, a monthly writing group that Pauline attends and organises along with another poet, Trish Pogson.  Anyway the point is, I can’t remember – it feels like I’ve always known Pauline, since I first started writing.  Maybe she will remember!

So I know Pauline’s work quite well – I’ve read her poems at Brewery Poets – I’ve seen how hard she works at her poetry, how she takes and responds to suggestions.  I’ve also seen the deep interest and enthusiasm she has for poetry, demonstrated by her loyal attendance at various poetry readings all over the place and her commitment to the writing group.  I’ve also seen in the last couple of months how her confidence has finally started to grow in line with the quality of her poetry!  Pauline has had work recently published in The Firecrane, The Interpreter’s House and The North.  Pauline taught English and Ceramics and now has her own workshop in the Lyth Valley where she makes pots and writes poetry.

I asked Pauline to send me five or six poems to choose from and all the poems she sent were great so I could have picked any of them, but I think this poem is really touching.  I think Pauline has captured the sense of desperation and guilt which is felt in these situations with the repeated aside of ‘you can’t keep him in this room’ and the lack of punctuation means that the poem passes easily between the opinion of the ‘I’ in the poem ‘you can’t keep him in this room’ to the bare and painful stated facts ‘there are women pissing themselves’.  With no punctuation the poem swivels between fact and opinion so that we are left unsure as to which is which.  Even with all of the awful details ‘neither of us remembers how to speak’ the poem has a black humour about it ‘the woman on the desk looks/as if she’d pimp her own mother’.

I think this poem is special as well because of how authentic it is – the dialogue when the father tells David to sit down – that is kind of heart breaking.  More heartbreaking in a way than the end – my nan used to say the same thing to an old lady in her care home.  And there was an old man in that care home who used to forget he couldn’t walk and he would make his way down the corridor holding on the rail as he went – up and down, up and down the corridor.

I hope you enjoy the poem.  ‘Aftercare’ was previously published in the new issue of The North which has lots of wonderful poets in all the time and which you should definitely subscribe to.

 

Aftercare – Pauline Yarwood

you can’t keep him in this room
there are women pissing themselves
sitting legs agape
stockings rolled to their ankles
the one on the mattress on the floor
has been moaning for two hours

the woman on the desk looks
as though she’d pimp her own mother
turns her back on everyone
smooths the skirt of her uniform

you can’t keep him in this room

I push his wheelchair round an
unkempt quadrangle of garden
neither of us remembers how to speak

the ridiculousness of me pushing him

tears meet saliva at the corner of his drooping lip

back inside someone has forgotten they can’t walk
pushes up to standing
starts to head off

sit down, David, my father shouts.
David sits.

you can’t stay in this room

I’ll do whatever they advise, he says

odd, because you could never tell him anything
he could never tell me anything either

next day, pimp-woman grips the curtain round the bed

just before you see him, she says,
busy morning, not had time,
just telling you,
his mouth is still open.