Monthly Archives: December 2015

Goodbye to 2015!

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I can’t believe this will be my last post of the year.  It feels like I haven’t had a chance to really look back at the year until now, and take stock of everything that happened.

Some of this post may sound a little down in the mouth, and I don’t mean it to.  I often feel a bit fed up on New Years Eve.  It’s not my favourite night of the year for lots of reasons.  It always feels like I should be doing something exciting, when what I’d like to do is curl up in my pyjamas with a book.

2015 was the year my first full-length collection came out with Seren. Having a collection published did not feel as I expected it to feel at all.  I thought it would be one long exhilarating ride and some of it definitely was – but it also brought out my insecurities as well, as a writer.  From the vantage point of the end of the year, I can see that I let myself worry too much about prize lists and whether I was on them or not.  I let it eat away at me a little, which I always swore I wouldn’t.  That is probably my biggest regret of the year actually, that I let it bother me at times throughout the year.  Thankfully, I don’t think I have moaned on about it publicly, but a few of my close friends have listened to me and also talked some sense into me which I am grateful for.

Having a collection out was also really exposing.  There is a reason it is called a body of work.  I think the fact that the central sequence in the book deals with a painful subject was also a contributing factor to this feeling of exposure or vulnerability.

So they were the down sides – the positive aspects are numerous though and I wouldn’t want people to think that I’m complaining about publishing a book and saying how terrible it’s been, because I’m not.  But I do want to be honest – I don’t want to say it’s all been wonderful and easy – it’s made me question my writing, my creative practice and I think this is a good thing.  I’ve carried on writing even when I felt rubbish – and this was a massive and important lesson for me to learn.  I was shortlisted for a prize this year, and it was very glamorous and exciting but it isn’t writing.  Prizegiving ceremonies and even prizes have nothing to do with the very private act of writing, which is what I love.  Last year I described writing a poem
I think of that feeling I get, which feels like rushing, like I can’t write fast enough for the words.  It’s a slightly nauseous feeling, like controlled panic, and it is this which tells me I’m chasing the heels of a poem, rather than just writing my thoughts down.

That still happens to me and I’m so glad.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it is one of the most joyous things I do.

On a more practical level, I’ve had an editor that has been amazing to work with and really believed in my work.    It went into a second print run seven months after being first published, which shows that people are buying it and reading it.  I’ve personally sold about 260 copies now.  It’s been reviewed in lots of different magazines – Poetry Review, The TLS, Magma, Under the Radar (not out yet), Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review, Poetry Salzburg and on quite a few blogs as well.  I feel incredibly lucky that it has been reviewed in so many places.  I know there are lots of collections which aren’t reviewed.  I know, after working as the Reviews Editor for The Compass, how many books get reviewed compared to the amount published.  I would like to say, if any of the reviewers happen to be reading this, that I really appreciate the time and effort that it takes to review a book, and I’m really grateful that they took the time to do this.

Having the collection out has also been a massive factor in my traveling about the place.  If I had to sum up 2015 for me, it would be the year I spent gallivanting around the place.  I went to St Andrews in early March and read at StAnza and then travelled to Croatia two weeks later to read at a festival there.  I went to Holland twice this year and Ireland three times, all because of poetry.

In 2015 I took the step of reducing my teaching hours down to two days a week, which enabled the gallivanting no end.  I don’t know how I ever fitted in a full time teaching job now! Since September and my reduction in my teaching hours, it has been the first time that my poetry freelance income has equalled my teaching income.

So apart from being a year of travel, this has been a year marked out by friendships.  I’ve got some amazing, amazing friends – friends that I run with, friends that I play trumpet with, friends that I teach with, friends that I go to poetry readings with, friends that come to my workshops.  This has been one of my highlights of the year without question.

In 2016 I’m hoping I’ll be doing more of the same – writing poetry, running, playing trumpet. I don’t really know what I want to do in 2016, except I want it to be more of the same, but with bells on.

Thanks to all of the lovely readers of this blog, and to the friends that I’ve spent time with this year, who have made it an amazing year.

Next year on the blog, I’m going to be carrying on with the Sunday Poem and the plan is to write one post a month about a poetry collection that I’ve read and enjoyed.  I don’t know where I’m going to find time to fit this in, but that is the plan!

Happy New Year and see you in January!

 

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Sunday Poem – Peter Sirr

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The Capsule – Peter Sirr

When it came to it, nothing we wanted would fit.
We stood on the road and packed what we could,

the tickets and music and sealable wit,
whatever we had, whatever thought good.

What we should have offered we couldn’t transmit:
the flare of a season, the sunlit wood.

We sent you the tomb, but the body had fled,
we stood by the window and watched the light flit,

we reached out to take it but wrapped up instead
the pages and proofs, the buckle and kit.

When you open the capsule and examine what’s in it
consider what isn’t; for all that we had,

as we fiddled with clasps, as we stood on the road,
when it came to it, nothing we wanted would fit.

 

 

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Peter Sirr.  I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t read any of Peter’s work until I came across him at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival this year.  I’m ashamed because this poem comes from Peter’s eighth collection with Gallery Press and I feel like I really should have read his work before now  – he is a great poet, but if my recent trips to Ireland have taught me anything, it is that there are hundreds of fantastic Irish poets that I have not read.  I’m hoping to remedy this in 2016!

This time of year always brings a flurry of end-of-year lists of various descriptions as people try to capture something of the essence of what has happened in the past 12 months.  Inevitably though, they fall short and sometimes the important things or moments or experiences cannot be packaged up neatly enough to make it onto a list.

For me, this is what this poem is about – the slipperiness of things that matter to us can’t really be packaged into a time capsule and maybe they can’t go on a list either.

Putting a pair of running shoes in a time capsule wouldn’t tell anyone who opened it in a hundred years anything other than the size of my foot – it wouldn’t tell them what it feels like to run through so much rain that the rain doesn’t matter, or to run down the beach with Black Combe ahead and the sea creeping further and further away to the left.  There isn’t anything you can put in a capsule to describe this – even a photo wouldn’t tell you what it feels like to be both inside the body and feeling every niggle in your muscles and outside it, to feel the division between the self and the body, as if you are riding on your own shoulder.

I love how the poem starts – that mysterious use of the word ‘we’.  Who is the ‘we’ and why are they standing on the road? There is a menacing tone to this poem, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is – it isn’t just the tomb and the body which is missing, and the obvious biblical connotations of this, it is also something in the mode of address – that not only is the voice of the poem speaking for another person as well as itself, bu tit is addressed to a ‘you’ who is also mysterious.  I wondered whether the ‘you’ was a child and the nameless ‘we’ are the parents speaking.  There is also something unbearably sad because we also know the ‘we’ will not be there to witness the opening of the capsule.

All the way through the poem, we circle around the slipperiness of capturing the important things: ‘What we should have offered we couldn’t transmit:/the flare of a season, the sunlit wood’,  Instead of reaching out to capture the light and put that in the capsule, ‘pages and proofs’ are put inside instead.

This poem is technically wonderful as well – held together at the end of the lines with two main rhyming sounds – fit, wit, transmit, flit, kit, it, fit again and then could, good, wood, fled, instead, had and road.

The poem is from Peter’s latest book ‘The Rooms’ published by The Gallery Press in 2014.  I really enjoyed the whole collection and would definitely recommend the book.

Peter Sirr was born in Dublin in 1960 and still lives and works there as a freelance writer, teacher and translator.  His 2009 collection The Thing Is was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award and won the Michael Hartnett Award.  His Selected Poems was published in 2004.  Thanks to Peter for letting me use his poem this week for the blog.

I’m planning on doing my annual round up of the year post in the next couple of days but I’m going to sign off soon.  I’m writing this post from my twin sister’s house in Egremont.  She has been looking after my two dogs along with her three dogs over Christmas – she manages an animal charity and wasn’t able to leave the kennels this year so we left our dogs with her while we went down to Leicester to stay with my mum and dad.

It’s been a pretty chilled out Christmas this year at my parents.  I went running with the husband twice and have a slightly sore knee so had two days off.  The rest of the time I’ve been watching T.V, hanging out with my older sisters and my nieces and nephews who range in age and attitude from grumpy teenagers who are too cool to talk or be seen with us, to ‘let’s play the yes/no game for the next two hours without stopping’.  It’s been nice to see my older sisters as well and just to have some time off doing anything more constructive than hanging out with people.

Thanks for reading this year – this will be the last Sunday Poem of 2015 – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed finding them.

 

Sunday Poem – Mark Connors

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Life is a long song  – Mark Connors

I am fused with the sounds of my childhood:
the rushed drop and the almost silence
of the first groove, Penny Lane and All You Need is Love
while my brother washed, splashed on the Aramis
before a night out in his two-tone shirt.

I am fused with Sinatra and Frankie Laine
and a host of other crooners Mum used to play
while she peeled the spuds and sank some suds
before Sunday dinner.  I am fused with the tunes
of Relax and Remember with Karl Gresham. 

I am fused with famine, rebellion and war
via Dad playing The Wolfe Tones, The Furey Brothers
and Christy Moore.  I am fused with the voice of Luke Kelly
and the deep bass drawl of Ronnie Drew.
I am fused with songs from prisons by the Man in Black.

I am fused with Suzi Quatro and Debbie Harry
who eyed me up from my brother’s wall.
I am fused with the countdown of the top 40,
all that Ska, Punk, Rock and New Romance.
I am fused with The Birdie Song and The Floral Dance.

I am fused with drum solos, guitar virtuosos,
and the blatant self-indulgence of Progressive Rock.
I am fused with the songs of Marillion and Rush:
Forgotten Sons and The Spirit of Radio,
I am fused with Pink Floyd’s too many ticking clocks.

What’s more, I am fused with the memories
that have hard-wired themselves into these songs.
I am fused with what I wanted, what I dreamt of, what I got.
I am fused with songs that accompanied
first kiss, first love, first pint;
I am fused with the entire soundtrack of my sorry little life.

 

Today’s Sunday Poem is the title poem from Mark Connor’s first pamphlet, published by Otley Word Feast Press.  I met Mark a couple of years ago at Ilkley Literature Festival when I was Poet in Residence there.  Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, he came to a workshop and wrote a fabulous poem there, and then was awarded first place in the Poetry Slam by myself and my two esteemed co-judges, Phoebe Power and Rodolfo Simoes.

I saw Mark again very recently when I was over reading for Word Club in Leeds.  In fact the last two Sunday Poems were collected at this evening so it seems fitting to make this the third one.

I read Mark’s pamphlet a couple of weeks ago, very late at night, when my eyes felt grainy and red because I was so tired.  It was such an easy read though – very enjoyable, and fun but also with moments of sadness and poignancy as well.

It is easy to identify with this poem, which explores the place that music can play in a life, and I enjoyed the examples used throughout it of particular songs matched with particular memories – the Beatles in Verse 1 with the image of a brother in a two-tone shirt, the ‘crooners’ with the image of a mother peeling spuds.

The poem is clever in that it gives us an instant handle on when the speaker was born and when he was growing up through the music that is mentioned, but we get this not only from the songs he listens to, but also the songs his parents and his older brother listen to as well.

Does anybody else imagine what the soundtrack would be in a particular moment of their life, while it’s happening? I haven’t done it for ages, but having finally downloaded music on my phone after upgrading my phone contract, I spent a lot of this weekend walking around the streets of Galway listening to early albums of The Rolling Stones.

There was something unbearable about this, but in a good way.  It felt terribly lonely, to be listening to music that nobody else could hear, to not hear the traffic and the voices and the river which was running high and fast as I crossed over the bridge into town.  But it also feels incredibly connected and human to be listening to a song that can move me to tears or make me want to bounce my way through the streets.

I also really love the line ‘I am fused with what I wanted, what I dreamt of, what I got’ – I love that they articulate the knowledge that these three things are very different.  I also found the last line of this poem incredibly moving – this idea that music gives those tiny moments in our lives importance and meaning but the conclusion at the end of the poem is that it is a ‘sorry little life’.

This last line intrigues me – it feels half ironic, half tongue in cheek, but also unbearably sad.  I don’t know which way to read it, but I like the idea of music giving tiny moments in our lives meaning and importance, which is a theme that runs throughout the poem.

It made me think of moments in my life that are fused with music.  There was one night I was ‘ignoring’ an ex who was throwing a pebble at my window to get my attention.  I put on Beethoven’s 5th so I wouldn’t be tempted to go down and speak to him. Think of it like Odysseus lashing himself to the mast so he didn’t follow the Siren’s song, but without the sea, the storm or the near death experience.  I’ve been trying to write about that night for a long time and I’ve never succeeded – probably because I haven’t worked out why I want to write about it yet.

If you would like to find out more about Mark, head over to his website where you can also order a copy of Life is a Long Song for £5.50, including postage.

Last night I played with the Soul Survivors at The Nines, a nightclub in Barrow.  Apart from a bad shoe decision ( I wore my favourite Irregular Choice ones that felt, by the end of the first half, what I imagine having your feet bound would feel like), apart from that, I absolutely loved the gig.  It made me remember why I used to love playing the trumpet, why it’s been in my life since I was ten years old – so that has been one thing that has been lovely this week, to rediscover that feeling again, and to learn that it can be rediscovered, that I can fall in and out of love and in again with music and playing.

On Thursday I went to Galway to read at the Over the Edge reading series, hosted by Kevin Higgins and Susan Millar DuMars.  There was an audience of around 60 there and I could tell from their response to the first two readers that they were going to be supportive, responsive, engaged – everything you could want in a poetry audience really!

I managed to sell 22 copies of my book (my record for sales at a reading) which made it very easy the next morning to trot around Galway with my light-as-a-feather suitcase.  Selling so many books definitely added to the positive experience, but the people I met were so lovely and friendly it made me love Ireland even more as well.  I have full intentions of returning to Ireland next year for another driving-about-the-place holiday, so if there is anyone in Ireland reading this that would like me to come and run a workshop or give a reading, please get in touch.  It would be great to get a few events lined up in a row so I could fund my travels and justify swanning off on holiday again!

I would like to recommend a magazine to you today as well – I’ve just subscribed to The Dark Horse, after meaning to subscribe since meeting Gerry Cambridge, the editor, at Stanza in March.  It is a fantastic read – lots of good poems and really interesting, in-depth articles on particular collections by poets which I really liked.  I’ve left my magazine subscriptions slide recently but again, reading The Dark Horse made me remember why I used to love subscribing to lots of magazines.

I’m signing off now before this becomes a truly mammoth blog.  I might not post again before Christmas, so if I don’t, I hope you have a wonderful and happy Christmas.  I’m off down to Leicester to visit my family which I’m really looking forward to.  The next blog post will be the last Sunday Poem of 2015, and the post after that will the 2015 round up, which I’m actually looking forward to doing this year!  Happy Christmas everybody, and thanks for reading  – if you’ve managed to stay with me this long, you deserve a medal!

 

Sunday Poem – Ian Harker

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THE LIONS OF LEEDS TOWN HALL – Ian Harker

Drawn from life at London Zoo
you could catch one from the corner
of your eye curling an oversize paw
like a cat in a square of sunlight
on the kitchen floor or flicking the dirt
from its mane – blackbright lions
lazing in the haze of fading might.

Here they come up Park Row,
claws clack-clacking on flags,
leaping parked cars, nosing over litter bins.
The city after dark is an outdoor enclosure
for owls and sheep, gargoyles and eagles
and a family of roe deer grazing placid
in Mandela Gardens.

At the Mechanics’ Institute the security guards
can hardly hear themselves think for the squawk
and scream of the treetops, yawning hippos
and an extinction of dodos hopping down the stairs
towards Millennium Square.
And who dare check that Nesyamun,
three thousand years dead, hasn’t shifted
his shrunken bones, sat up
and started tapping against the glass.

Today’s Sunday Poem is from Ian Parker’s first pamphlet, The End of the Sky, which was one of three winners of the 2015 Templar Pamphlet Awards and was published in November. I got to know Ian a couple of years ago, through my good friend David Tait.  I remember David telling me then that he thought Ian was a great poet and to watch out for his poems.  Ian has had a great 2015 – I’ve been noticing his poetry popping up in magazines and on various shortlists for competitions including the Bridport, The Troubador and the Guernsey International Prizes.  He’s also been published in numerous magazines including The North, Stand, Agenda and Other Poetry.

I haven’t seen Ian for ages so it was great to see him at Word Club in Leeds a couple of weeks ago.  I’m a bit lazy about buying books and pamphlets online now and much prefer to get them in person – so I’m glad I got the opportunity to get a copy of quite a few pamphlets from various poets based in and around Leeds.

As soon as I read the title of this poem I knew I would love it.  I thought I was the most unobservant person when I lived in Leeds – if it didn’t look like a trumpet, I wasn’t really interested, but even I apparently, had noticed the lions because I got a kind of pang of nostalgia just from reading the title – I remember those lions!

I love the idea that you could catch one ‘curling an oversize paw’ or ‘flicking the dirt from its mane’ when you are not looking.  I have no idea if ‘blackbright’ is a real word – it sounds made up, and yet, completely right and fitting.

I think the second stanza has captured the movement of the lions beautifully, even while keeping it in the reader’s mind that these are stone lions – their claws ‘clack-clacking on flags’.  It’s all a bit Museums at Night by the end, with that image of Nesyamun sitting up and ‘tapping against the glass’ – I love it!

Thanks to Ian for allowing me to use his poem forthe blog this week – I would heartily recommend his pamphlet, The End of the Sky, which you can buy by heading over to the Templar website.

Talking about Nesyamun and his three thousand year old bones, I feel a strange affinity with him tonight, except he maybe has a bit more life in him!  I’ve just got back from an amazing weekend, running the first ever Poetry Carousel.

In the days leading up to the Poetry Carousel, I started to worry that there might be a reason why nobody had done this sort of course before.  Thirty two participants, divided into four groups of eight.  Each group of eight had a two-hour workshop with four tutors, rotating around, from one tutor to the other. Tutors for this year were Ian Duhig, Amanda Dalton and Andrew Forster who were all great to work with and a brilliant support  throughout the weekend.

I can only imagine what it was like for the people taking part, moving from one workshop to another, one energy to another, one teaching style to another, one topic to another.  It must have been exhausting, and by the end of the weekend, there was certainly a sense of hysteria setting in with the tutors and a few of the participants. But I hope it was also inspiring and exciting and fun and made them think and question and think again.  I hope it was challenging as well – I think we need to be challenged sometimes, and prodded out of our comfort zones. The quality of the work produced during the workshops was outstanding and although at times, I felt sad  I wasn’t getting to spend as much time getting to know people as on a ‘normal’ residential course, it was lovely to walk around the hotel and hear the buzz and chatter of people talking and laughing.

We had two wonderful and very different guest poets, Jennifer Copley on the Friday night, and Lindsey Holland on the Saturday night, both at very different stages in their careers.  Jenny will be running a more ‘normal’ residential course with me in October: ‘From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary’ and it was great to hear some of the new poems she has been working on, including some surreal takes on nursery rhymes.  Lindsey has now finished a pamphlet she has been working on about her family history, and read three long poems as her set, including one of my favourites of hers, St Elmo’s Fire, which was one of the set of poems recently shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize.

The carousel will be running again from the 16th-19th August 2016, and I’ll be making an announcement about the other three tutors very soon!

Apart from preparing for the course, which seems to have taken a huge part of my week, last week I spent two evenings at a school show, where I’d rehearsed a school band so they could perform in the afternoon without me as I had to be somewhere else teaching.  They apparently were brilliant in the afternoon, counted themselves in, finished together, kept in time and in the evening, when I was halfway on stage ready to conduct them, they counted themselves in again and off they went, so I scuttled off stage again! It was a strange mixture of pride that they didn’t need me and grumpiness that they didn’t need me, but the pride was definitely on top, as it should be!

I also ran far too much last week and now have sore shins again, which I’ve rested this weekend in the hope they will make a speedy recovery.  I also went for a lovely afternoon tea with my friend Helen who writes a great blog detailing her experiences at some of the county’s finest afternoon tea establishments.  My alias is ‘Princess K’ on the blog and I am the only one of her friends to be photographed and featured on said blog.  This might be because I kept photobombing the pictures she was trying to take of the cakes but never mind

Next year, starting towards the end of January, I’ll be tutoring on an online course called What Work Is through the Poetry School.  You can book onto the course here, but if you’d like to find out a little more about it, I’ve just written a blog post which talks about what we’ll be doing on the course which you can find here. Half of the places have gone already, so if you’d like to book, do get in touch with the Poetry School.

In February, I’m running a residential course in St Ives with Steve Ely – again, half of the places for this course have already gone so do get in touch with the hotel if you would like to book  a place.  You can find more information here

This is always a strange time of year – it feels like things are starting to wind down, but they aren’t really.  Next week I have a school concert, I’m taking Barrow Shipyard Junior Band busking twice, a soul band rehearsal and a trip to Galway to read at the Over the Edge reading series and then a soul band gig when I get back.  It’s not really winding down at all, but there is that sense of time running out, or running away.

The end-of-year lists are starting to come out – this blog is even on one of them, which I’m very, very happy about.  Matthew Stewart over at Rogue Strands has compiled a list ‘The Best U.K Poetry Blogs of 2015’ and happy to say my blog is on it.  My friend John Foggin has just blogged and included his four poetry blogs that keep him going and I’m happy to say this blog is mentioned there as well.

Poetry, and blogging can be like that.  I liked John’s analogy of it being like a long walk and needing friends to carry your rucksack and motivate you sometimes.  John was saying thanks to me for doing that today on his blog, not knowing that I was feeling like a three thousand year old corpse and trying to think of an excuse for not writing this blog .  Reading his blog made me remember why I like blogging – I like sharing other people’s poetry just because I like it, without expecting anything back, just because something in the poem spoke to me.  Writing a blog every week does feel like a long walk with a really heavy rucksack sometimes – there is no denying that.  Sometimes I wonder whether it is worth the time and the energy – but mostly I feel proud of it – that is what is mostly on top – which is how it should be.

Sunday Poem – Tom Weir

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Talking to You in Hanoi – Tom Weir

Talking to you isn’t talking to you, it’s talking to myself;
my voice, not yours, on the other end of the line.

The half-second delay between here and Hanoi
feels like a lifetime, interrupts everything I say.

The sound of you crying doesn’t break, is constant,
but every word I speak, every awkward stutter,

finds its way back to me, the way a cat returns
to an old house; the mouth piece throwing back

the disembodied echo of every word I speak.
My voice hasn’t been revealed to me this way

since the first time I heard it played back
as a child.  Is this the voice you always hear,

how I sounded the first time we spoke,
god, the first time we made love?

When you do say something it catches me by surprise.
I don’t hear you at first, forget, almost, that you’re there.

I try to buy myself time, think of something to say,
but I buy too much – the long pause multiplied

as we let each other speak, then the sound of our voices
crashing somewhere between us.

I envy them, our voices, passing this way;
close enough, I imagine, to touch.

I think (although I could be mistaken)that I first met Tom Weir at a reading in Leeds at the Poetry By Heart reading series.  I remember him as being very generous and open and saying nice things about my reading. Last week when I read in Leeds at Word Club, Tom was one of the poets who read on the Open Mic.  I’ve not heard him read before and he was really, really good.  Very funny and self-deprecating and I loved the poems that he read.

This poemm comes from his first full-length collection ‘All That Falling’ which has been published by Templar this year.  I hope he won’t mind me telling this story, but apparently, the week after he’d decided on his title, but not told anybody, I popped up on social media and announced my book ‘The Art of Falling’ was going to be published! How annoying must that have been!  By rights he should have wanted to at least trip me up in revenge.

I absolutely love Tom’s book, and it made me realise what a shame it is that there are so many fantastic collections which we don’t hear about because they haven’t got on a prize list.  I think Tom’s book has only recently been released so he still has time to climb onto a shortlist, but even if he doesn’t, it’s still a good book, and people should buy it, but they might not hear about it.  I guess this is where this blog comes in.

I’m really happy Tom said I could use this poem for the Sunday blog this week.  The subject matter is one we can all relate to of course – and we can all recognise the frustration of talking to someone down a phone line that has a delay  or a phone line that pushes your voice rudely back at you.

However, it’s the other things that happen that make this poem take off.  I love the fact that it’s in couplets, reflecting the subject matter of two people talking on the phone.  I love that simile of ‘every awkward stutter/finds its way back to me, the way a cat returns/to an old house’.  I think that is such a fantastic leap into the darkness – which is what simile and poetry should do, to take two seemingly unconnected things and make a giant leap to bring them together.  I also love the use of the word ‘god’ in this poem – I love that it is marking a real realisation that the speaker is having, to see himself through another’s eyes.

I also love the subtext behind this poem – that the relationship between the people in the poem is breaking down, or possibly broken down, and it’s all tied up with being able to speak, or not able to speak, only being able to echo each other.  The ending is great as well – the idea of the voices being the only thing that touches the other by the end of the poem.

Tom Weir’s poetry has featured in various journals and anthologies including, lung jazz; Young British poets for oxfam, the 2014 National Poetry Competition winners’ anthology and this year’s Forward Prize anthology. His pamphlet, The Outsider, was one of the two winners of the 2014 IOTA Shots competition and his first full collection, All That Falling, was brought out through Templar earlier this year.  You can order a copy of his collection through Templar

I’m sure most of you know about the terrible floods that we’ve had here in Cumbria on Saturday.  On Saturday morning I drove to Penrith to run an all day workshop.  We carried on till lunch time and then decided to cancel the afternoon session as everybody was worried about getting home.  I’d driven through a pretty flooded part of the road out of Barrow on the way here, and I wasn’t keen to go that way again on the way back, but in general, I don’t get frightened of driving in any weather conditions usually.

However, this was the worst journey ever – coming down the M6 and seeing two lorries over turned, the wind felt like it was trying to take my car the same way – and all the time, torrential rain.  I kept telling myself it would be better once I got off the motorway, and to be fair it was more sheltered and seemed less windy.

I went down country roads to get to Barrow, trying to avoid the flood but there were more floods where ever you went.  We have been relatively safe in Barrow, but that journey was definitely the worst journey of my life.  Now I’m glued to social media, looking at photos and videos.  It feels very close to home – if we’d carried on with the workshop, I wouldn’t have got home and I’d have been stranded somewhere on the road.

Perhaps the saddest thing I’ve seen was the collapse of Pooley Bridge.  It was such a beautiful bridge and it feels horrible to think of it being washed away in pieces by the water, and I think there have been other bridges washed away as well by now.

So that is all going on in the background of writing this post.  Other than nearly being washed away down the M6, I taught my young writers group on Friday, went to A Poem and A Pint committee meeting.  I’m really excited about the 2016 programme already – we have some amazing poets coming to read for us next year.  For those of you who don’t know, A Poem and a Pint is a bi-monthly reading series based in South Lakeland.  I also had a rehearsal with the Soul Survivors and a night at Barrow Writers, critiquing poems.

Next weekend is The Poetry Carousel – I’m looking forward to meeting Some of the readers of this blog will be there I think!

Right I’m doing that thing where I fall asleep and type so I’m going to say good night, and thanks again to Tom for allowing me to use this fantastic poem