Today I’m writing this with pleasantly aching legs and shoulders after completing a 13 kilometre run in the sunshine with the husband and my two long-suffering dogs, Miles and Lola. Chris and I are planning to run the first Hoad Hill Half Marathon together in August so we are very gradually building up the distance we run on our long run we do each week. Next week I will probably do another 13 kilometre run as today I really struggled for the last two kilometres. When Chris gets tired he talks more to distract himself and when I get tired I talk less so it works out ok.
We went for something to eat at Low Sizergh Barn and then had a look in the shop and I got very excited when I spotted some of Mike Barlow’s books in there, and some of the pamphlets that he publishes from Wayleave Press as well. I bought William Gilson’s new pamphlet after reading the first poem, which is very good. I also like to buy poetry if I see it out in the open and in an unexpected place, like a gift shop in the hope they will continue to stock it!
Yesterday I did Barrow Park Run, and after a couple of good runs recently and all the hill running I’d been doing in Crete, I thought I would push myself to see how close I could get to my PB. I managed 23.27 which is only 18 seconds of my PB so I was very chuffed and feel full of beans and ready to have a go at the Dalton 10k this Friday. I’d like to try and get close to 50 minutes but I have no idea if this is a bit unrealistic, as it is a pretty hilly course but I will have a crack at it anyway!
Last night was Poem and a Pint with guest poet Beatrice Garland and my very own South Lakes Brass Ensemble as the musicians. It was at Greenodd Village Hall and at 7.25, five minutes before it was due to start there was about four people in the audience, not counting the brass ensemble. We were also dressed in our customary black which I realised looked like we’d come from a funeral, but never mind. Anyway, my heart was beginning to slowly sink as I thought about Beatrice (who also hadn’t arrived by that point) coming into a rather large village hall and being greeted with four people and a funeral party. Then suddenly, people started arriving and we ended up with a full room!
Lovely Danny, who is the singer from the Soul Survivors turned up with his wife when I told him I’d be playing which I was really touched by. I don’t think either of them had been to a poetry reading before but they seemed to enjoy it. Rather bizarrely, our local MP, John Woodcock also turned up and read a very short limerick about the election which you can find on his twitter page if you are so inclined. I admired him for getting up and reading a poem and I also felt a bit sorry for him as he got collared by various people and complained at, or told that they were voting Green, or asked about this or that. It was Saturday night after all – and he had read a poem which I think should have given him a free pass out of politics for the evening. Then again, it is his job!
The really weird thing was that even though the open mic performers and Beatrice didn’t know he was there, they read quite a few political poems. Beatrice read a great poem about working in the NHS. I was suprised how much politics seeped into people’s poetry in a way I haven’t noticed before. Another strange thing – Beatrice read quite a few poems about falling and then came and told me she’d just written a poem called The Art of Falling, inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘The Art of Losing’. Maybe falling is going to be one of those things that everybody writes about like bees were a couple of years ago! Thank goodness my book is out already!
After the interval I had to switch into musician mode and I performed with the South Lakes Brass Ensemble. The most popular piece seemed to be Pastime with Good Company which we played to start off, and ‘The Nearness of You’, which is a Hoagy Carmichael number arranged to feature the French Horn. Someone came up to me and said that it had made them cry, which my sister as the soloist was very pleased about. I was doing the introductions to the pieces and I couldn’t believe how out of breath I was from playing – it was like I’d been for a run. I don’t know why I keep being suprised lately by what a physical thing it is to play the trumpet.
The rest of last week was all given over to rehearsals – Monday night with the junior band, Tuesday night with the South Lakes Brass Ensemble, Wednesday with the Soul Survivors and Thursday with the South Lakes Brass Ensemble.
Poetry-wise, I spent Thursday finishing off a review I’m writing for Under the Radar magazine. The two books I’m reviewing are The Years by Tom Duddy and Common Ground by D A Prince, both published by the marvellous HappenStance. I really enjoyed writing this review and I also love working with Maria Taylor, who is the Reviews Editor. She is always very patient with me, and finds a way of correcting my sometimes rather silly mistakes without making me feel silly or stupid.
On Friday morning I finished off the review and then planned my workshop for Dove Cottage Young Poets which I was running in the afternoon. I left at lunchtime to have a quick meeting with Ian at Abbots Hall Art Gallery. On the 15th May the art gallery are having an event called ‘A Night of a Thousand Selfies’. There will be lots of stuff going on – music, a photobooth, a temporary tattoo artist, free pizza and drinks and an open mic, which I will be running. I’m looking for more poets to read on the Open Mic, so if you are interested, please get in touch, or have a look here for more information.
I’m feeling more and more excited about next Wednesday, which is the first public reading from The Art of Falling. The reading is in Leeds at the Heart Cafe in Headingley and I’m reading alongside John Foggin, Andrew Forster, Keith Hutson, Peter White and Mark Connors. It would be great to see any of you there if you happen to live within striking distance of Leeds. It has been a strange feeling, having a box of my books living underneath my desk like some sort of hibernating pet. So many of my friends have got in touch to say that they have bought copies already that I’m beginning to doubt the wisdom of buying a box of 100 – am I being too optimistic? We will see – I’ve got a few readings coming up, and although I know how fast my pamphlet sells, I have no idea how fast the book will sell – it is going to be a bit of a learning curve. At the minute there are no plans to sell the book through this blog, as you can get a copy with 20% off direct through Seren. If you would like a signed copy, make your way to one of the readings on the ‘Readings and Workshops’ page or email me!
So today’s Sunday Poem is by Terry Quinn, who I met quite a few years ago now. I can’t actually remember where we met – probably at an open mic in Lancaster actually. I’ve been meaning to ask Terry for a Sunday Poem for at least two years. His collection ‘The Amen of Knowledge’ came out with Indigo Dreams Press in 2013 after he won the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize in 2012 and I read it, thought ‘ooh, I must ask Terry for a poem’ and then forgot to actually ask. Well, I never claimed to be organised!
Terry Quinn was born in Birmingham and settled in Preston in 1995. He retired in 2012 from his career as a Medical Engineer in the NHS.
Terry has been active in the local poetry scene for over 15 years and is Vice President of Preston Poets’ Society. As well as his Indigo Dreams publication which you can get hold of a copy of here Terry also published another collection in 2010 called ‘Away’ published by Poetry Monthly Press.
He has been published recently in The North, South, French Literary Review, Acumen and Ink, Sweat and Tears. His poem is featured on the BBC Poetry Proms website as a runner up in the competition and if you find yourself in Guernsey, you will see one of his poems on a bus! Terry also has a blog here if you would like to find out more about him.
I’ve asked Terry for two poems, because they are only short ones and I liked them both too much to choose between. ‘Wishful Thinking’ makes me laugh because my husband really did once come home and say ‘I almost bought you some flowers today’. But there is also something really sad in the last verse – if it was being read out, it is probably one of those poems that would make you laugh in the first verse and then feel guilty for laughing in the second verse. ‘Couples’ is so completely right with its description of one of the tribulations of being alone that I had to ask for that one too. I like the linebreaks in ‘Couples’ as well, especially the words ‘One’ being on a line by themselves – it has a William Carlos Williams feel to it as it falls down the page.
Thanks to Terry for letting me use two of his poems, and apologies that it has taken so long to put them up!
Wishful Thinking – Terry Quinn
Have you still
got the dress
or did you
throw it out
the other stuff
Gets a table
Joins the queue
With a tray
And a terrible
Sense of injustice