The end of my second week of living alone and the strain is starting to show! How do people with children do this? It has been hard work keeping up with teaching, and my freelance writing work, and walking the dogs, and trying to keep the house reasonably tidy, and remembering to get milk. We have a pretty good system usually, where if one of us is busy, the other one picks up the slack, and cooks dinner and goes to the supermarket etc, which works great, except when one person swans off on holiday.
Also, I have another complaint. The birds are costing me a fortune. I have two feeders and I put four fat balls in each one and they are getting through all eight in one day. How is this possible? The largest birds we have are crows, but mostly starlings, sparrows and blackbirds. Do I need to get a different type of feeder? When I put seeds out they turn their nose up at them. This is the kind of thing I’m having to deal with because Mr A isn’t here.
I am feeling a little hard done by this week, and a bit fed up of working. I need a holiday, which is lucky as I have one booked for August with some friends from my running club. This week I’ve had rehearsals, readings, meetings, concerts and a mountain of admin to catch up with.
On Monday I met with Pauline and staff from Abbot Hall Art Gallery to finalise arrangements for Kendal Poetry Festival which is happening next weekend. As I wrote that, my stomach did a little flip – I still can’t believe it’s actually happening, and that many of the events have sold out. I thought that this first year would be relatively quiet, and that we would have to build our audience numbers up – but the demand for tickets has been completely unexpected.
I played trumpet for a amateur performance of Annie this weekend – one performance on Friday night, and then a Saturday matinee and a Saturday evening performance. I really enjoyed doing this type of playing, in fact, I played in my first paid gig with my trumpet teacher when I was 17 and it was this that made me want to be a musician and a trumpet teacher. It feels like I’d forgotten in the years since then, how much I enjoyed it.
On Thursday I drove to Stockport Library to do penultimate Read Regional reading. Lovely poet Linda Goulden was there and has passed on some gardening books which I’m determined to read. At the minute I just dig a hole, put the plant in and see if it dies, but I really think I need to do some research and refine my technique a little.
Anyway, I was slightly alarmed to see there were only four people at the reading, plus the two librarians. Apparently a group from a charity were supposed to come, but they didn’t arrive. I did find out afterwards that there was a car crash on the main road, and someone else who was supposed to come got stuck behind this, and by the time it was cleared away, it wasn’t worth coming, so maybe the same thing happened to the group.
It actually ended up being a really lovely afternoon. I read my poetry, but we also talked and laughed and discussed poetry and writing. Looking back now, I feel very privileged to have been part of it. After that, I drove over to Manchester and met my cousin V for something to eat. I haven’t seen her for ages. We went for food and two hours just flew by while we were catching up. I went to run the second session of my course for The Poetry School. The workshop is two hours long, and again, the time went so quickly.
I finally got home at about midnight and crawled into bed. The next morning my lovely friend The Duchess came round to supervise my judging of the Active Cumbria School Poetry Competition. 500 entries, three chocolate croissants and four cups of tea later, we had a winner for each Key Stage.
On Saturday I decided I was going to have a go at beating my time at Park Run and I managed it – 20 seconds off my best time, taking me down to 22.05. So my next target is sub 22. I know, I know some of you (Martin Copley for example) are not interested in the slightest in my running. Maybe lots of you actually. But I can’t help it! I was very pleased with myself this weekend, especially as I’ve been really struggling with my running during the heat that we’ve had the last couple of weeks.
Another very good thing that has happened this week is that five of the places for the Poetry Carousel in August have gone, so just over half the rooms have gone. If you’ve been thinking about coming and have any questions, just get in touch. I heard this week that Jill Abram had a poem accepted in The Rialto that she wrote during last year’s Carousel, and Rachel Davies wrote a poem during the week that subsequently was placed third in a competition. So there you go! Although, sadly I won’t be able to give your money back if the poems you write during the course don’t get published in The Rialto, or placed in a competition.
Today’s Sunday Poem is by Jill Munro. Jill was one of the participants of the online poetry course that I ran recently for The Poetry School. Jill won the Fair Acre Press Pamphlet Competition in 2015, which resulted in the publication of her latest pamphlet The Quilted Multiverse in April 2016. She has poems published or forthcoming in magazines including Orbis, Prole, Ink, Sweat and Tears, South Magazine, Poetry News and The Frogmore Papers. She’s been long-listed three times for the National Poetry Competition and her first collection Man from La Paz was published in 2015 by Green Bottle Press.
I’ve chosen the title poem from Jill’s latest pamphlet for the Sunday Poem today.
The Quilted Multiverse
When the train stalls to a slow graunch
along the track, the patchwork quilt
of urban Edens comes into view,
sewn and framed in creosote, barbed
wire, laurel bush or red stock bricks.
I spot the garden trimmed orange
in Sainsbury’s bags stuffed
with papier-mache magazines.
Next door the whirly-gig whizzes
on air rounds, fixing smells of last night’s
still smoking bonfire into hardening towels.
And there’s the holey tennis net
looping low, once taut and high,
abandoned rackets on the lawn –
the kids gone in for tea or good.
And then it comes – a glimpse of backyard
heaven – a huge brilliant blue trampoline
stretching to square boundaries, where
a floral-aproned grandma is bouncing high,
lighter, dreaming of another universe.
I’ve really enjoyed reading the pamphlet, but when I got to this poem, I burst out laughing. The image of the grandma bouncing on the trampoline is so startling, especially after all the kind of worn out scenery that has been described so far – the tennis net ‘looping low’ and the garden stuffed with Sainsbury’s carrier bags. One of my favourite things to do on a train is to look into the back gardens of people’s houses so i can identify with this poem, although sadly I’ve never seen a trampolining grandma!
There is also a fantastic poem about Virginia Woolf and a beautiful poem called The Red Scarf in the pamphlet and I was really pleased to see that the poem ‘The Court Verbatim Shorthand Reporter’ which Jill wrote during the ‘What Work Is’ course has made it into the pamphlet!
Well, it has gone midnight here, so I shall sign off now. Before I go though, I’d like to direct your attention to the Fair Acre Press website, where you can read Jonathan Edwards report on Jill’s book. If you would like to order a copy of Jill’s fabulous collection, you can do so by heading over to Fair Acre Press. If you would like to find out more about Jill, you can check out her profile on the Poetry PF website.