Monthly Archives: July 2015

Sunday Poem – Luke Samuel Yates


I’m writing this from a hotel room in Dublin, which seems unwise as earlier I agreed with the husband that it would be a brilliant idea to go running at 7am and it is now nearly 1am.  However, I have been wrestling with the hotel internet so it is not completely my fault.

I’ve been in Ireland since last Wednesday when we drove to Holyhead and got the 2.30am ferry across to Dublin.  I did manage to get a couple of hours sleep on the ferry but then we drove down to Glendalough which is an amazing ancient monastic city which is surprisingly intact.  It has this wonderful tower, with the door twelve feet up in the air which apparently the monks would have accessed via a ladder which would have then been pulled up so the vikings couldn’t get to them. We got there at 7am and had the whole place to ourselves.  I think it has to be one of the best places I’ve ever visited.

On the way down to Fermoy we also visited Kilkenny and got either a late breakfast or an early lunch, depending on how you think of these things and the Rock of Cashel which is also impressive, but decidedly less peaceful than Glendalough.  Then again, it is July and it was mid-afternoon, so can’t really expect anything else.

By the time we got to Fermoy we were both a bit haggard around the edges.  We were staying with my lovely friend Ita who stuffed us full of bread and cakes and tea and then we got an early night.

Because of the approach of 7am and the promised run, you will have to wait a couple of days for the next instalment of my Ireland trip and I will get on with unleashing the Sunday Poem on the world.

This week’s Sunday Poem is by Luke Samuel Yates who was a winner in this year’s Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition with his pamphlet The Flemish Primitives I first met Luke a couple of years ago at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival when we read together.  Luke was reading from his Rialto pamphlet The Pair of Scissors That Could Cut Anything which I really enjoyed, and his new pamphlet is just as good.

I’ve chosen ‘Mars, surrounded by Arts and Sciences, conquers Ignorance’ this week because I love it’s dry humour and sarcasm.  I love the little details: ‘It was a Tuesday evening’ and the use of the words ‘come over’ as if Arts and Sciences were friends that have come over to play. Luke’s poems often have this air of surrealism about them that is also completely grounded in every day language.  The world of the poem is always believable somehow.   A lesser poet would have ended the second stanza a line earlier, but Luke pushes it further with that dry last line.  The more I look at this poem, the more I think it is those small, well-chosen details which make it such a good poem, and which make it funny – the fact that Ignorance has a paper cup.  It is also a hard thing to do to personify an abstract, but he manages it brilliantly.  I would really recommend the pamphlet.  He also has a fantastic poem about Tony Blair which you really need to read.

Luke Samuel Yates lives and works in the North-West.  A four-times Foyle Young Poet of the Year, his work has appeared in The Rialto,  The North, THE SHOp, Magma, Smith’s Knoll and on the London Underground. His pamphlet The Pair of Scissors that Could Cut Anything was published by The Rialto in 2013 and The Flemish Primitives in 2015 by The Poetry Business.

Thanks for reading, and apologies for the shortness of this post and thanks to Luke for allowing me to use his poem.

I’m reading in Dublin at The Workman’s Club on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm with Arthur Broomfield and Jane Clarke – if you happen to be coming, do come and introduce yourself!

Mars, surrounded by Arts and Sciences, conquers Ignorance – by Luke Samuel Yates

after Antoon Claeissens

 It was a Tuesday evening
and there was nothing on television.
Arts and Sciences had come over
and were standing around
absent-mindedly spinning orbs,
twirling their palettes, playing wind instruments,
mapping the known world.

 Mars felt good when Arts and Sciences were around,
and Arts and Sciences could get on with things.
Today Mars felt good enough
to take down Ignorance in a judo throw
taught to him by Jupiter, taking one’s opponent
by the shoulders and stepping forward
to sweep their feet from under them.
Ignorance lay on the ground
muttering and cursing  in an guttural argot
that was not even of anthropological interest.

Mars stood there with his foot
on Ignorance’s throat for a while.
Arts played a catchy little tune
and Sciences did something curious
with a pair of compasses. When Mars
got bored he tried to kick Ignorance away,
but Ignorance was surprisingly heavy.

He just carried on lying there
wringing his hands,
distracting everybody
with his moaning, his paper cup.

Sunday Poem – Matthew Clegg

I’m writing this blog post from my mum and dad’s house in Leicester, sitting at the dining room table because it is the only place I can sit and not be smothered by their rather over-enthusiastic border collie Taz who shows love by first of all, sitting in front of you.  Next he puts his front two paws on your knees.  Then he starts to try and climb on you and I can’t work out if he is trying to sit on your knee or just suffocate you because he secretly doesn’t want you in his house.

Anyway, I’ve worked out there are only two ways of putting him off.  Sitting at the dining room table makes him lose all interest – I have no idea why or putting the oven off – apparently he associates it with the smoke alarm (snigger) so whenever the oven goes on he goes very quiet and hides under the table.

The end of term happened this week! I’m not really feeling very refreshed yet though – the end of term tiredness hasn’t worn off yet.  Last week I had three concerts at different schools which is obviously a bit more work than usual.  I am taking over the conducting of a school band in September so I went and had a rehearsal with them and opened the rehearsal to any other children that I teach in school who are interested in taking part, which was a bit of a mistake as we ended up with maybe 70 children turning up.  It looked and sounded amazing, but if they all turn up in September, I might be in trouble!
On Wednesday it was the last session of the online course I’ve been running for the Poetry School.  It has been a real learning curve for me.  I’ve written five online assignments, which is so much harder than running a workshop face to face, to put down in words the exercise that you are setting!  I’ve taken part and led five Live Chat sessions which are really intense, fast and furious typing sessions where I’ve not only had to give a considered opinion on somebody’s poem, but also had to be prepared to respond to other people’s opinions and sometimes to change my mind because of what other people say.  I’ve really enjoyed it, although it has been hard work and I’m probably going to be running another online course for the Poetry School in Spring 2016, so watch this space.
On Thursday I went to meet the lovely Rachel Mann in Lancaster and took possession of a rather large folder of poems that have been entered for the Manchester Cathedral Poetry Competition.  I’ll be reading these poems over the summer.  I’m actually really excited about it, but this is the last thing about that process that will pass my lips until it is over! I went via Ambleside on Thursday night to do a reading for a group of sixthformers on a trip and I will tell you about that in two years time and not before, for reasons best not discussed here!
On Friday I had an all day meeting with Pauline Yarwood – we are trying to cook up a poetry festival in Kendal.  It is going to be a lot of work, but we are slowly progressing with it.  The next step, of course is funding, so if anyone has any ideas about how to go about getting funding for similar projects, please get in touch!  Pauline made a lovely lunch – pasta and salmon – one of the healthiest things I’ve eaten for ages.
After our meeting I drove over to Kendal to run the Young Writers session which was a pleasure as always- some amazing poems written in the session.  So although I finished music teaching on Wednesday, it’s actually been pretty full on since then.  I have had a bit more time though so I’ve been doing a lot more running.  I’ve been planning all week to do Park Run as I won’t have a chance to do it the week after but when it got to Saturday morning I really didn’t feel like it at all but I decided to go and just jog round with the husband.  We nearly didn’t make it in time as I couldn’t find the car keys and we got there just as everybody was lining up on the start line.
In about two seconds I realised that my two friends from the Walney Wind Cheetahs who normally are 1st and 2nd women back  were not there so I went from just jogging around to pedalling my legs as fast as they would go, like the true terribly competitive glory hunter that I am and managed to be first woman back in 23.06 which isn’t my fastest time (22.49) but isn’t that far off.
I’ve spent the day today getting up late and doing some editing of some poems and even typed one new one up.  When I’m writing I really enjoy it, but afterwards I always feel a bit rubbish – it’s a bit like going out drinking and having a good time and then feeling hungover afterwards as you start to doubt everything you’ve done that day and wonder whether you’ve juts been wasting your time.  I also went round to see one of my big sisters and had a cup of tea and scrounged some of her dinner and tried to guilt trip as many members of my family into coming to my reading tomorrow night as I could.
Sadly, my family are not poetry fans, so I have to use guilt or bribes to get them to come along…but if you are a poetry fan and you are within striking distance of Leicester, it would be great to see you! I’m reading at Shindig! at The Western, 70 Western Road, LE30GA alongside Tom Chivers, Zelda Chappel and Anna Lewis.
Next week I’m reading in Ireland.  I’ll be in Fermoy reading at the Elbow Lane Inn on the 24th July and in Dublin on the 28th July reading with Jane Clarke and Arthur Broomfield at The Workmans Club, 10 Wellington Quay.
On to today’s Sunday Poem which is by Matthew Clegg.  I saw Matthew perform his work at the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival in Mexborough recently and I was really impressed with his work and bought his most recent collection The Navigators, published by Longbarrow Press.  The Navigators is a beautifully produced book and I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more titles from Longbarrow Press in the future.  Their website is really interesting as well – in the ‘About’ section it says
“The ethos governing the output of the press is that the poem should dictate the format of publication. The resulting objects – matchboxes, acetates, maps – allow poet and publisher to explore alternatives to the book without resorting to gimmickry.”
Which sounds pretty interesting!  Anyway, I really enjoyed the whole of Matthew’s collection – and it really is a collection of poems.  It feels as if the whole concept of this book has been threaded carefully together – there isn’t a poem here that doesn’t link to another – sometimes in a sequential way, sometimes in a thematic way but water is the one constant that makes its way through the book.  My favourite section of the book was the section that told the story of the Navvies that built the canals and waterways of the UK.  Some of them are monologues, some of them are observations, always carefully researched but each poem is tightly written.  Many of the poems are written with wonderful end rhymes which are very well crafted and put together. I really would recommend the book if you are looking for a collection that is doing something different – it is probably one of my favourite collections I’ve read this year actually.
I’d originally asked Matthew for another poem, and then I got to this poem and loved this even more!  This is a really good example of what I’m talking about when I say Matthew is doing interesting things with rhymes – this poem is full of half rhyme and echoes and full rhyme.  Aside from the fantastic technique that has gone into writing this, with every line ending on those one syllable sounds of boat and gut and said and nook, the poem is written in long winding sentences that negotiate their way around those stone-like syllables.  The title ‘The Passage’ is a lovely one, poised between so many meanings, the passage of time as the boy changes, the passage of the waterway, the passage from one world of water, to another of earth.  I love how the poem rocks between two things as well all the way through – the boat rocking in the water, the boy being nervous of sleeping in the boat but obviously enjoying sleeping there as well, the not knowing where you belong.  It’s beautifully written and if it doesn’t make you want to buy the book then I don’t know what will!
Matthew Clegg’s collections include Officer, Lost Between Stations, and West North East (all from Longbarrow Press). He teaches creative writing for Derby University and for the Open College of Arts. His most recent collection is The Navigators, also from Longbarrow Press
Thanks to Matthew for letting me use one of his poems, and I hope to see some of you at a reading somewhere soon.


The Passage – Matthew Clegg

The thought of sleeping on my granddad’s boat
would tie a little reef knot in my gut
in case it might be true what my cousin said
about the earwigs squeezed in every nook
that scaled your neck and face when you dozed off
and crawled into your ears and eyes and mouth.
It’s true that when you bed down on a boat
you feel a little closer to each pulse
that ripples through the never ceasing world –
and then you lie awake and listen hard
to every slosh or knock against the hull
from rats and water voles you’ve read about,
or sniping owls who probe and tense the dark.
And then you feel the press and seethe of cold
from water leaking through each seam or joint;
the dreams that chase your ebbing into sleep
are full of rain and water rising up
to flush you down the cellar of a lock.
But somehow the little plywood fort
is proof enough against the flood of doubt;
the hatch you close at night against the gnats,
you open in the morning to the light.
There’s a photo of my mum’s somewhere
of me with one leg on the boat, one off,
as if I’m not sure, now, where I belong
and nothing in my face gives it away
except at some remove I’m still absorbed
and at a stretch no boy can hold for long.

Matthew Clegg’s collections include Officer, Lost Between Stations, and West North East (all from Longbarrow Press). He teaches creative writing for Derby University and for the Open College of Arts. His most recent collection is The Navigators, also from Longbarrow Press

Sunday Poem – Josephine Dickinson


Afternoon all – today I’m writing this blog from the Animal Concern West Cumbria branch which is also my twin sister’s house.  She is the Site Manager for the Egremont branch of Animal Concern.  She lives on site in a large bungalow owned by the charity.  Half of the house is used for charity business – there is an office, a room where families can meet dogs they are thinking of adopting and at the minute there is a dog who has just given birth to two puppies living in a room at the end of the house.

The charity has nine indoor heated kennels and four outdoor ones which are only used in emergencies if the indoor kennels are full.  I had a look around the site quite a few months ago when my sister had just moved in.  Now she’s been here just over six months and is managing a team of volunteers as well as looking after the various dogs that come in.  The kennels are all finished now as well and she seems to be enjoying her job.

Living on site means that you are basically working all the time though.  It’s Sunday but she still has to get up and start walking the dogs before the first volunteers arrive.  This morning a family came to meet a dog and she is currently in the office with a volunteer who will be going to do a home check on another family who want to adopt a dog.

The line between work and home life is not just blurred, it’s non existent.  It is lucky that she’s obsessed with dogs – you couldn’t do this job without it.  I think dogs are the equivalent of what poetry is to me now – it is something I do as a job, for at least part of the week, but it is much more than that as well – it is my social life and the thing I do to relax.

For example, here I am on a Sunday as well.  This morning I read a fabulous poem by Josephine Dickinson which Deborah Hobbs had posted on Facebook and sent Josephine a message to see if I could use it for today’s blog.

I always collect four or six weeks worth of Sunday Poems if I can, and I came to the end of the last batch last week, so this morning I’ve been reading to gather some more in. I can’t tell you who I’ve been reading though, because that would give the game away as to who the next couple of Sunday Poems will be by, and I like to keep it as a surprise.  My point is, this is work and it isn’t.  I’m reading for pleasure, but also for the blog, which is also both work and not work.  It isn’t work in the sense that I get paid for it, but it is work in the sense that many of the people who book onto the residential courses that I run come through this blog.

It has been a slightly less manic week this week after the craziness of last weekend.  I think I worked out I spent about 21 hours driving to poetry events which I don’t really want to repeat any time soon.  On Monday evening I let the junior band and myself have the night off as we have been working really hard for the last couple of months, getting ready for various extra concerts.  I was going to go for a run, but when it came to it, I was so tired I just went to bed instead.

On Tuesday I went to Barrow Writers, one of the monthly critiquing groups I go to, run by lovely poet Jennifer Copley.  This week I’ve also been sending emails back and forth to Holland as I’ve been asked to read at a poetry festival on an island called Vlieland.  I’m really excited about this as I get to see some good friends that I first met in Ireland a couple of years ago – Tsead Bruinja and his wife Saskia Stehouwer – both excellent poets and I’ve just found out that my ‘other husband’ and fabulous poet and photographer Jan Glas has arranged to come as well.  Luckily both husbands get on really well with each other – in fact Chris tried to kidnap Jan and take him back to the UK when he found out he could cook.

Tsead is also arranging for ten of my poems to be translated into Dutch which is amazing so I sent those over this week as well.  So rather randomly, I will now have poems that have been translated into Croatian and Dutch.

I’m also reading over in Ireland this summer – all the details will be on my Readings page (when I get round to editing it, which SHOULD be today) but basically, on the 24th July I’ll be running a workshop and then taking part in a reading at The Elbow Lane Inn in Fermoy and then I’m reading again in Dublin on the 28th July with Arthur Broomfield and Jane Clarke.

So that is my summer holiday pretty much sorted – full of poetry already which makes me very happy.  There is one more week of term left and I still have one more school concert to do, but it feels like the end is in sight now.  It feels like this school year has flown by when I look back.  In September I will only be teaching music for 2 days of the week – on a Tuesday and Wednesday which will leave me the rest of the week to write, read and pick up work as a writer.

Other things that have happened this week – I drove to Endmoor with Chris and two friends from the running club on Wednesday to do the Endmoor 10k – a notoriously hilly race.  Last year I did it in 56 minutes and 56 seconds – this year I managed it in 50 minutes and 33 seconds.  I would have loved to have got under 50 minutes, but I have to be happy with knocking over six minutes off my previous time I think.

On Thursday I had a school concert in the afternoon and then went straight from there to Halifax to read at The Square Chapel, a monthly reading series organised by my friend and fantastic poet Keith Hutson.  It was a lovely event – I was reading with Peter Sansom and Keith had bought two cakes – one to celebrate the fact that both Peter and I had new collections out and the second to celebrate Peter Sansom’s birthday.   Peter is a fantastic reader, very entertaining, not taking himself too seriously but the poems are so well-crafted, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but all written with a very light touch.

There was an open mic session afterwards as well – I always enjoy open mics, but especially in a new area, where I don’t know the readers so I don’t know what to expect.  I stayed over at Keith’s and we managed to go for a run, put plans in place for a running and writing project that I’m really excited about, swap poems, gossip and feed Keith’s sheep, all before 2pm when I had to leave, which is pretty impressive going.

Yesterday I spent the whole day purging the garden of bindweed while Chris put up a new shed.  I think I would have been a good manual labourer – I love doing jobs where you don’t have to think or speak to anybody, where you can just get on with something.  I think I would have been a good labourer as long as I didn’t have to do a job that required any common sense or initiative, but digging bindweed I enjoyed because I can just get on with it and not stop until it is done.

So today’s Sunday Poem was a bit of a lucky find – I randomly read this poem after someone else posted it on Facebook.  It is by Josephine Dickinson, who lives on a small hill farm in Cumbria.  This poem isn’t a recent one – Josephine tells me she wrote it in 1998 which makes me think I should really have another of Josephine’s more recent poems on the blog in the next couple of months.

Anyway, it is nice to know that a poem has a long life, past the flurry of excitement that accompanies book publication, that it can carry on speaking to people.

This poem is a beautifully crafted sonnet and on the face of it, seems fairly simple.  The language is direct, the rhymes well handled and it has a lovely turn, as all poems purporting to be sonnets should.  However, it also carries all the weight of the relationship that is at the heart of it.  The poem is attempting to map out what this relationship is, who does what to who, maybe who has power and who doesn’t, which is a question in even the most benign and happy of relationships.  For all its gentle and loving tone, it does have an air of combativeness about it – look at the penultimate line ‘So, say I joined your river if you dare’.  The poem seems to be questioning whose life was joined to whose, whose life stayed the same and whose was changed in the joining together.  The use of the word ‘tributaries’ is interesting as well, especially as the word ‘tribute’ is buried inside it.  It makes me think that one partner paid ‘tribute’ in a kind of praising or worshipping.  Ultimately the poem says it doesn’t matter, but I am not convinced.  I think this kind of working out of the borders and edges of a relationship and people is one of the only things that does matter!

I’m writing this in a bit of a rush as we are about to go off and walk five rather restless terriers down to the beach.  I hope I don’t return and think WHAT on earth am I going on about.  I’ll be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on the poem as well.

Josephine Dickinson has published four collections of poetry: Scarberry Hill (The Rialto, 2001), The Voice (Flambard, 2003), Silence Fell (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) and Night Journey (Flambard, 2008).  If you would like to find out more information about Josephine you can visit her website here.

‘Josephine Dickinson has published four collections of poetry: Scarberry Hill (The Rialto, 2001), The Voice (Flambard, 2003), Silence Fell (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) and Night Journey (Flambard, 2008). She lives on a small hill farm in Cumbria.’

Do I Sleep with You? – Josephine Dickinson

Do I sleep with you or you with me?
It’s splitting hairs to say I came to you
and use your brush and comb, and therefore we
don’t ‘sleep together’. But it may be true.
In any case I say you sleep with me.
The action’s mostly yours. You made me stay.
Made staying perfect, future and to be.
Apart from that, it’s what most people say.
Tributaries join rivers, but they mix,
go to somewhere, neither cares to where.
Both stand and swell their bank beside a tree.
They’re not concerned with any verbal tricks.
So, say I joined your river, if you dare.
In any case, I say you sleep with me.

Sunday Poem – David Borrott


Firstly, apologies that this week’s Sunday Poem is late, but it will be worth it!  I’ve had a busy week but my ‘days off’ (my writing days) have been full of driving and poetry and more driving.  As well as being at work and conducting my junior band, I spent Monday night writing the last assignment for the online course that I’ve been running for The Poetry School.  I’ve really enjoyed being a tutor on the course – it has been amazing seeing the different poems that have originated from the exercise.  On Tuesday I went to a reading by Simon Armitage at The Wordsworth Trust.  Simon did a great reading as usual, but it was a sad occasion for me, the last of the Tuesday night reading series.  Michael McGregor, the Director at the Trust announced that they had not been successful in their second Arts Council funding application.   So I will have to get my poetry fix elsewhere.

There are other, more positive things happening though. I think I’ve mentioned befoe that I’ve taken up the post of Reviews Editor for The Compass, a new online magazine with Andrew Forster and Lindsey Holland as the Poetry Editors.  The first issue went live on Friday.  The content of the magazine is released bit by bit over the next two weeks, so do go and check it out.  The first review is up now – written by Penny Boxall who reviewed Englaland by Steve Ely, ‘Bones of Birds’ by Jo Colley and ‘The Midlands’ by Tony Williams.

I’ve not had anything to do with the poetry submission side of things so it has been really interesting reading the poems as they’ve gone up.  I haven’t read it all yet, but my favourites so far have to be the Matthew Olzmann poems.  I’d not come across him before but will be seeking his work out now.

Choosing books to review has been good fun but it has made me aware of how many books there are out there.  I’m finding it particularly hard with the first collections – there are so many good ones, or maybe I’m more aware of them all because that is the stage I’m at as well – but we can’t review them all, much as I would like to.

On Wednesday I spent half the day at work and then half the day at a Women’s Poetry Celebration at the Wordsworth Trust.  I came straight from work and drove through my dinner hour which left me about five minutes to scoff a sandwich before my reading.  I read with Penny Boxall, Emily Hasler and Eileen Pun, all of whom had been inspired by living or working at the Trust.  I came home with only two books as I had to borrow £20 from Polly so I had to exercise some restraint, which was a good thing I think, as my shelf of books to be read is now starting to overflow.

I sold five Falls and two Wolves so I was pretty pleased with that and then I had to dash off home to get ready for the fourth live chat of the Poetry School course.

On Thursday I left at about 11am to go to Cardiff as I had a reading at First Thursday, which my editor Amy Wack runs and hosts.  Amy had invited me to stay for the night and I was planning on arriving mid-afternoon with time to get something to eat before the evening.  However, the M6 was clearly planning otherwise and I eventually pulled up outside Amy’s house at about 6.15pm.  I was stuck in traffic all day – thank goodness I had a really good book on my phone to listen to – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, which I managed to listen to from start to finish this weekend, yes the whole 15 hours of it.  That is how much time I’ve spent driving about and stuck on the cursed M6!

I met lots of lovely people in Cardiff though, which more than made up for the marathon drive.  I read with Robert Minhinnick who was reading from his new novel ‘Limestone Man’, which is written in a beautiful poetic prose.  I really enjoyed the open mic afterwards. The lovely Emily Blewitt read a poem – I got to know Emily last year when she was a participant on the Grange over Sands residential course that I run.   I’m really excited about her first collection, which will be published by Seren in 2017.  I read the proposed manuscript for Emily a couple of weeks ago and wrote a supporting statement for her, and I think it is already a very special collection of poems.  By the time she has had a couple of years to work on it, I think it will be amazing.  I found the whole open mic really interesting though – lots of good poets and everybody was well behaved and stuck to time.

After the horrors of the traffic on Thursday I decided not to leave anything to chance and left early on Friday morning – maybe about 9am.  I had to be in Kendal by 3.45 to run Dove Cottage Young Poets so I thought this left me plenty of time.  Again, the M6 defied me – there were accidents, roadworks and I eventually got to Kendal at 3.15pm, just in time for my workshop and feeling quite sorry for myself and my poor bottom, which had been sat in a car seat for over six hours.

On Saturday I played at a mass at Our Lady of Furness Church in Barrow.  I played at the church for the first time last year.  Anthony Milledge, a talented local musician wrote a rather complicated fanfare for trumpet and organ.  We played the same thing this year and I was slightly worried that after sightreading it last year without a problem, I wouldn’t be able to do the same thing this year, which would mean my playing had actually got worse over the year but it was all ok and went off without a hitch.

I then had to jump into the car and drive to Ulverston to an afternoon rehearsal with my junior band and Furness Music Centre.  Richard Bagnall, the conductor of Furness Music Centre was conducting so it was nice to have the chance to listen from the back of the hall, rather than in the middle.  I stayed for the first half of the mass concert and then had to jump in the car again to go to my own gig with the Soul Survivors.

I spent most of the gig feeling like I was going to pass out from the heat.  I must remember to get myself a water spray before the next gig because throwing water on my face is the only thing that seems to help and it is probably not that advisable with all the electrical equipment.

I finally got to sleep at about 1am on Saturday night – it took me an hour to slow down after the gig and my ears were buzzing from the loud music.  When I woke up on Sunday morning, my arms and shoulders were aching from holding the trumpet in the same position and although I had time to go running, I felt too tired, so instead I had a rather lazy morning of eating choocolate croissants and drinking tea.  I did manage to type a poem up and enter it for a poetry competition – my first submission in absolutely ages.

If I write a poem that I think is any good, I always like to enter it into one competition.  It feels like buying a lottery ticket for me.  It gets one chance to earn me lots of money and then after that, I usually put it in a group and send it to a magazine.  Having said that, I haven’t got enough poems to make a magazine submission yet…

I set off for the Ted Hughes Festival where I was reading yesterday evening.  Yes, I got stuck in more traffic – how unlucky can one person be in one weekend?  I managed to find an alternative route with the sat nav but at times it felt like it was sending me down some farm track into the middle of nowhere.  I eventually got to Mexborough and managed to catch a few of the other readings – including the first half of Helen Mort’s set.  Her new poems are amazing and I was really excited to hear that her second collection will be out from Chatto some time in 2017.  I also heard the first half of Matthew Clegg and Ray Hearne’s collaboration.  I loved Matthew’s poetry and bought the book just before I left and am determined to read it this side of Christmas.

I had something to eat at a Wetherspoons before I left – the Wetherspoons in Mexborough is much classier than the one in Barrow.  We sat in a booth with a frame full of photos of Ted Hughes – one of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath on their honeymoon, another with Ted Hughes standing with W.H Auden, T S Eliot and some other rather famous male poets.  Can you imagine what that would have been like – to be standing there having a drink with them all?  I knew this before, but looking at that photo, it really struck me how difficult it would have been to have been a woman writing in those times.  I know that might sound like an obvious thing to say, but it felt like I hadn’t known it till then, that looking at that photo made me suddenly know it.

I finally got back to Barrow at 2am and I have spent the whole day feeling like a bit of a zombie.  I knew I was in trouble last night when I decided to go into the garage and buy the cheesiest compilation album I could find (Rock Ballads for Driving) and sing at the top of my lungs to stop myself falling asleep.

This trick worked brilliantly though and set me thinking about all of the family holidays when we used to drive to Cornwall, listening to the same songs.  I remembered sleeping in a caravan with my sister, our beds so close together I could reach out and touch her.  In the morning the seagulls would wake us up, tapping away on the roof as they walked about and whoever got up first and opened the caravan door was the one to scare away the wild rabbits, busy eating the grass in the drizzle.

All of this just from listening to some songs.  Now I think about it though, this is where I get my habit of enjoying reading the same books over and over again or watching the same TV series over and over again.  It was those car journeys, listening to the same album on repeat, knowing not only every word, but also what song would come next and what would come after that, and after that, and no matter how drawn out the ending of the songs were, how repetitive they were, my parents would never forward to the next track. Each song must be endured until the end.

Anyway, this is all a bit of strange tangent and nothing at all to do with today’s Sunday (Monday) poet, David Borrott.  I’ve known David a long time now, maybe six or seven years.  I met him on the MA at Manchester and he has been on nearly every residential that I’ve ran.  He is a lovely man and a great poet and he has been long overdue a pamphlet in my opinion.

I suppose he is glad that he waited now though because his pamphlet is published by Smith/Doorstop in a new series of pamphlets called ‘Laureate’s Choice’, which are basically poets selected by Carol Ann Duffy.

David’s pamphlet is very beautiful and the poetry is fantastic.  It is called Porthole and I would urge you all to buy it.  Regular visitors to this blog will know that David has already been a Sunday Poet a while ago with his poem ‘Self Portrait with Fiddling Death’ and so has now gone into blog history as one of those rare poets invited back a second time.

I’ve chosen the poem Boggart for this week.  I love poems that create a believable world that is not quite reality.  I like poems that have little creatures in them, like boggarts. poems that make me see the thing that is not real, like this line about the boggart: ‘the crowing mouth sipping the crack of light’.  I like poems with philosophical questions thrown in, as if they are an afterthought: ‘Are we not all held down by a rock?’ and poems with commonplace details that ground us: ‘I remember brambles, a spider on a gate/a mud path looping the field’.

I think this is a strange and beautiful poem, very poised and with lovely line breaks which make reading it aloud like reading a musical score.

David was born and grew up in Ilford, Essex and now lives in Lancashire with his partner and their three sons.  He has an MA in Poetry from Manchester Metropolitan University and his poetry has been anthologised in Watermark by Flax Books and in CAST: The Poetry Business Book of New Contemporary Poets.

I hope you enjoy the poem.

Boggart – David Borrott

The rock, in fact, was somewhere down a lane,
I went the wrong way but still got there.
I remember brambles, a spider on a gate
a mud path looping a field, then I found it.
And under it the ghoul, held by its weight,
nobody at the farm, nobody in the fields.
Are we not all held down by a rock?
I thought and touched the stone, which had no
markings except what time had laid on it.

Of course, this is a thing of the mind,
one has to tune the thinking to unveil,
the lank fiend in his burrow, his furred limbs
the crowing mouth sipping the crack of light
as I prise the boulder up – he sizzles free
and I take in that hatred of imprisonment.
Imagine the surge, I can’t control it yet but when I do
havoc will stampede through my skull
and such mad words will rocket from my beak.