Monthly Archives: July 2016

Sunday Poem – Flora De Falbe

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Another two week gap since my last blog post has opened up! Since I last wrote, all of this has happened –

  1. My last day at work as a peripatetic brass teacher for Cumbria Music Service was on Wednesday.  As I drove away from Ormsgill Primary School for the last time, it suddenly hit me – not only have I finished teaching for the summer, I’ve finished teaching.  Cue existential crisis moment – who am I if I’m not a brass teacher, what am I etc etc.  Urgency of booking flights ended existential crisis moment, but am sure I will come back  to it later
  2. I got a very early train to Manchester Airport on on Friday, flew to Amsterdam, then got a 2 hour train up to Groningen in the north of Holland to take part in the Dichters in de Prinsentuin Festival.  The whole festival took place outdoors – I read on stage with Evi Hoste, who translated my poems into Dutch.  On the Saturday the festival takes place in a garden in the city.  There is a main stage, but poets also read in the garden – inside a circular hedge which has ‘windows’ cut into it.  People walk past and stop and listen for a couple of poems before moving on to the next window.  I was really worried about doing this at first – but it was really good fun.  My lovely friend Jan Glas showed me round the city and drank lots of tea with me in various cafes.  I had lots of time to relax for the first time in months.  I even managed a 9 mile run along the canal.
  3. I got the train down to London on Thursday to read at the BBC Late Night Poetry and Music Proms. The event will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Monday the 2nd August at 10.oopm although I won’t be listening, as the only way I can bear to do anything recorded is if I promise myself I won’t listen to it afterwards.  I was reading my poems about trumpet playing and trumpet teaching alongside a brilliant jazz band called the Old Hat Jazz Band.  I hope the Radio 3 listeners don’t think that trumpets is all that I write about though!

So it has been quite an exciting time poetry-wise, and in between all this, I’ve been editing the reviews for the next issue of The Compass.  This involves editing the reviews, proof-reading – although the reviewers this time were very good at proof-reading their own reviews so there wasn’t much for me to do on this.  I’ve also been writing a review for this issue, which has been really interesting, as I managed to bag myself three wonderful collections.

I also finished off an interview for Poetry Spotlight which will be appearing in August at some point, and Pauline Yarwood and I finally finished off the evaluation report of Kendal Poetry Festival for the Arts Council.  We are already  starting to think about next year’s festival, and have two poets that we definitely want to invite, although we haven’t told them yet! We will be meeting soon to try and whittle down a rather long list to our chosen ten poets.

I got back from London on Friday and packed another bag to go straight off to Grizedale to camp for the weekend to celebrate a friend’s 50th.  There was a small music festival called ‘Grizedale Rocks’ at the campside with lots of local bands playing.  On Friday I was so knackered from swanning about in London till 2pm that I went to bed at 8pm, planning to have an hours kip and I ended up sleeping right through till 8am the next morning.

On Saturday, everybody else went on the Go Ape course.  I get vertigo so I decided not to traumatize myself by even attempting it, so I took the dogs for a 10 mile run on the Silurian Trail in Grizedale Forest.  It is a beautiful, if very hilly route! Nearly 500 feet of ascent over the 10 miles and my legs are still really tired today.  In the evening, we went down to a barn on the campside, where a band would play for half an hour before the next band got up to play.  I think I danced for about 5 hours – till 2am anyway.  I can’t believe when I was at music college I used to go out drinking and dancing till 2am as a matter of course two or three times a week.  How did I do this and still function?? I have been so tired today, and had to go to bed for an hour this afternoon.

Next week I’ll be heading up to Ty Newydd where I am the guest poet on Jonathan Edwards and Patience Agbabi’s course, and then I’m off on a holiday with three of my friends that I run with.  We’re off to Malaga on a beach holiday.  I am hoping I will get myself organised and will write my blog in advance so that it goes up on Sunday without me being there but I’m not promising anything.

I will leave you all with this wonderful poem by Flora de Falbe, who I saw read at Ledbury Poetry Festival.  She was the Young Poet-in-Residence there, and was taking part in the Foyles Young Poets Reading.  What a brilliant reading that was – one of the highlights of the festival for me – all of the young poets read really well – and their work was interesting and engaged, and funny and passionate.

Flora de Falbe comes from London and is studying English at Cambridge. She was a Foyle Young Poet in 2011 and 2012, and took part in the 2014 Tower Poetry Summer School. She has read at the Ledbury and Wenlock poetry festivals, and has work published by CAKE, Ambit and The Emma Press.

I really loved this poem when I heard Flora read it at Ledbury Poetry Festival.  It is a response to Mark Grist’s poem Girls Who Read.  I love that this poem has a critique of the way relationships are represented in books.   When I was a teenager, I thought Wuthering Heighs was the most romantic story ever, and wished Cathy had ended up with Heathcliff.  I also really liked Daniel from Bridget Jones Diary.  I always loved Mr Big in Sex in the City, even when he was being a complete arse to Carrie.  So although most of these characters don’t actually murder anybody, I felt uncomfortable hearing the poem, remembering all the terrible men in fiction that I found attractive – the ones that you actually wouldn’t want to be married to because they would be awful to live with for various reasons.

I think Flora is critiquing the portrayal of love and sexuality and how it is often bound up with violence and possessiveness.  The second layer to this of course is the challenge to the Mark Grist poem, hailed as a feminist anthem by some commentators and criticized by others for various reasons (see this Open Letter to Mark Grist here).    I think the last line of Flora’s poem is referring back to the Mark Grist poem – why else do women read books, if not to find a man?

I think the poem is also really well written with lots of rhymes and half rhymes holding the whole thing together -humour and murder, butter and honour, dagger and gutter and splatters.  There are some great, and chilling lines as well:  ‘I want him to grip me like a dagger’ and ‘I want him to take my by the heart, hand and windpipe’.

I also found another great poem by Flora over at the Clinic Presents website and I’m pretty sure I remember hearing her read this one at Ledbury as well.

Thanks to Flora for allowing me to publish her poem as this week’s Sunday Poem.

 

Men Who Murder
After Mark Grist’s ‘Girls Who Read’

By Flora de Falbe

Some girls want a man with blue starry eyes
or a man with a sense of humour.
I want a man who murders.

I’ll know him by the thin red curve under his nails
and the twist of scar across his left hand
which says ‘I fight to win.’

I want a man who cuts throats like butter
and kisses under his own code of honour.
I want him to take me by the hand, heart and windpipe.

I want to fear nothing but him,
to live on the verge of combustion.
I want him to grip me like a dagger.

I’m going to paint my lips red
and mark him mine when the sun hits the gutter.
I’m going to dress in red to hide the splatters.

I want to stroke my man’s hair
when it’s all over; I want to cry to my man
from the bottom of a river.

I don’t want someone who thinks he deserves me,
I want a man who murders.
What else do I read books for?

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Sunday Poem by Rowland Crowland

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I think I’ve been blogging for around three years and I’m pretty sure a huge part of that time has been spent painting various rooms in various houses.  I just had a wave of deja vu hit me as I prepared to write this blog.  I have paint in my hair – gloss paint no less, from resting my head on the freshly painted door in a moment of existential despair, and paint all over my hands and my arms, which luckily has now dried, otherwise it would be all over my laptop as well.

We (Mr A and I) have been painting the small box room upstairs.  This is going to become my new writing room – at the minute, I’ve been using the living room downstairs, which is basically a thoroughfare to the kitchen, and I get no peace there.  Mr A charges through, humming joyfully, or stops to ask me something and then I get cross and breathe fire and I get nothing done.  So, we are having a change around, and I’m getting a smaller room, but hopefully a more peaceful one (and it has a better view over the garden) and there is no reason for anyone else to go in there apart from me, and if I want to, I can even barricade the door.  We also went and bought carpet today – again very exciting, as I decided that a completely impractical, cream coloured carpet was what I’d always wanted.  I’m also going to get floor to ceiling white bookshelves, and hopefully all of my poetry books will fit up there in one place.

This weekend I’ve finally felt like I’ve had a bit of space to breathe.  Last week I was on the verge of cracking up – this week, things have got a bit easier.  I don’t know if managing to get out for a run makes it easier, or whether that is just a sign that I’m less busy, but I feel mentally in a much better place.  I managed an 8 mile run on Wednesday along the beach, 11 miles out on country lanes on Friday and 6 miles today and I feel so much better for it.

I think it is the running that makes me feel better because when I look back over the week – there has still been a lot going on.  I went to Pauline’s house for a meeting on Monday and we made a start on the evaluation report which we need to send to the Arts Council about the festival.  I then had my final junior band rehearsal, which was sad and strange and lovely, all at the same time.  We ate the cake that I was given at the final concert, and quite a few of the children seemed obsessed with eating my face, which was printed on the cake.

I can also report that we have the photos from Kendal Poetry Festival uploaded and on the website.  All the photos have been taken by Martin Copley, so do head over and have a look.  The photos will be available to buy until the end of July from Photobox.

On Tuesday I was teaching.  One of the children who was at the concert said ‘I thought you were leaving!’ when I walked in.  ‘Not yet’ I said gaily.  After work I went to Ambleside to read at a NCS summer school to 70 teenagers.  I did four of these readings last year and they are frankly terrifying.  Give me a reading in a men’s prison any day.  However, they are often very rewarding and this one was really lovely.  Lots of the teenagers came and spoke to me afterwards and asked questions. One even came and read two poems that he’d written that he had on his phone.  I shot back afterwards for another soul band rehearsal.

Thursday was the next manic day – a hastily arranged poetry workshop at a school in Penrith.  I judged the Active Cumbria poetry competition, and the prize for one of the winning entries was a poetry workshop.  The winner was a Year 6 girl who would be leaving at the end of this term, so the workshop had to take place this week.  I’m really glad I managed to fit in time to do the workshop – I worked with a lovely Year 6 class at St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School.  They listened, they were enthusiastic, they wrote some lovely lines.  One girl, describing having a go at archery had a line about ‘the injured target’.  How good is that?

After the workshop, I went to Manchester to have a meeting about the teaching that I’ll be doing next year at MMU and then had a few hours of hanging around, trying to catch up with the mountain of admin that is still quite mountainous before heading off to teach the final session of my Poetry School course.

On Friday I went to Lancaster Spotlight because two of my Dove Cottage Young Poets had put their name down to read on the Open Mic.  I gave two friends, M and C a lift down and we had a great laugh – it felt like the first time in ages I’ve laughed that much! The young poets were fabulous as well – which I wasn’t surprised by, I already know how fabulous they are.

Last night I had a gig with the Soul band – a 6oth birthday and wedding anniversary celebration.  So, thinking about it, the week has been full-on, but it has felt manageable.  Next week, I’ve got my last two days of teaching and then I’m off to Holland on Friday to read at a poetry festival, so lots to look forward to, and a possible exciting gig that hasn’t been fully confirmed yet – but if it comes off, I’ll let you all know!

Today’s Sunday Poem is by a guy called Rowland Crowland.  I heard Rowland read this poem at Ann Wilson’s Verbalise Open Mic night in Kendal a couple of months ago.   It was a great performance, and I only wish I had a recording of him reading it to go alongside the poem – you will have to imagine it being read in a broad northern accent – I’m saying northern, although I want to say yorkshire, but I’m thinking it might be lancashire so northern seems safest.  But anyway, the type of accent that would make the rhyme ‘status’ and ‘potatoes’ chime perfectly.  This poem makes me smile when I read it and I think the rhymes are really clever, but it also has a darkness to it as well – the sadness in those lines

But it’s never use your crying
Over anything that’s spilled,
When all your life’s spent dying
An’ your living’s long been killed.
breaks my heart.  And then there is the constant work, the drudgery, and the things not said.  So I love the humour ‘Everybody else just played at gravy/But she really made it’ and the sadness and anger in it ‘It’s a bloody lifetimes bloody stains/ Two pinnies have to conceal’.   Thanks to Rowland for letting me use his poem.


Pie Tin – by Rowland Crowland

She had an enamel pie tin
An’ everybody craved it.
Everybody else just played at gravy
But she really made it.
Everything was on the table
Just as she’d laid it,
An’ she never gave anything at all away
If she could possibly save it.

Values,
Working class values,
The values that made our world.
Values,
Real values,
The birth right of every girl.

She was a homely woman
With a household full of ornaments.
She wasn’t a comely woman,
She had very few personal adornments.
She always had two pinnies though,
……….a sign of status
And the smell that came through her kitchen door
Was braised onions and potatoes.

She had a pot horse on the mantle piece
An’ she donkey-stoned the step.
An’ on the geraniumed window sill
A secret door key was kept.
A spit-and- polished sideboard
Just to spit and polish on.
On Mondays it was washing day,
“Where’s all this washing come from!?”

Values,
Working class values.
The values that made our world.
Values.
Real values.
The birth right of every girl.

An’ every day’s a cleaning day
An’ every day’s a godly day
An’ every stick of furniture’s
Been all but spit and polished away.
A pledge to him in heaven
To keep the parlour clean,
In return for blessings on a Sunday
From Jesus and maybe an ice cream.

She’s weaving yarn all through the week,
Working her fingers to the bone.
Running ragged in the cotton mill
And threadbare in the home.
It was always the Protestant ethic
To work for the father and son,
And on Sunday’s you’re spied on by the Holy Ghost
So she had to put her best frock on.

The clock…..forever ticking.
The cross……forever giving pardon.
But there’s no rest for the wicked, “sorry”
While there’s rhubarb in the garden.
Thin custard on a Friday
On a little piece of sponge cake.
A few tiny random salad items.
A sliver of hake.

Values.
Working class values,
The values that made our world.
Values,
Real values.
The birth right of every girl.

An’ everybody understood
That nothing should be said.
Nothing bad would be talked about
Till after she was dead.
So all the loves, the lies, the leers,
The lechery was hidden.
Frustrations, flirtations,failures, fears,
Just festered in the midden.

It was all about appearances
An’ keeping things from others.
She couldnt share her feelings
With her sisters or her mother.
So not far beneath the surface
The nightmare’s bleeding real.
It’s a bloody lifetime’s bloody stains
Two pinnies have to conceal.

But it’s never use your crying
Over anything that’s spilled,
When all your life’s spent dying
An’ your living’s long been killed.
It’s all just something and nothing,
It’s nothing to shout about.
So calm yourself! An’ dry your tears
An’ get your pie tin out!

Values.
Working class values,
The values that made our world.
Values,
Real values,
The birth right of every girl
Yeh, the birth right of every girl!

Sunday Poem -Billy Letford

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Sunday Poem -Billy Letford

Back on track with the Sunday Poems now after a two week hiatus.  My life is still slightly chaotic, as the end-of-term approaches.   The end-of-term and end-of-school-year is always crazy, but this time it has been compounded by the fact that this is my last ever end-of-term, end-of-school-year as a trumpet teacher, as well as my usual freelance work, all piling on top of each other and threatening to bury me underneath it.

There have been times in the last couple of weeks when I’ve felt on the edge, on the edge of what, I don’t know, I only know the feeling, which is as if I’m going to tip over and fall, and rather than landing anywhere, just keep falling.  I’ve got one more week of running around and chaos, and then things (I’m hoping) will get easier.

It has probably all been compounded by the fact that last night, I had my final concert as a conductor of Barrow Shipyard Junior Band and my two beginner bands, St Pius School Band and Brasstastic. I was feeling quite calm as the hall started to fill up, but when my mum and dad turned up to surprise me, I burst into tears.  My parents came to every single band concert I ever played in when I was young, and supported me financially while I was at music college, so for them to turn up now, to support me as I finish that part of my life was enough to make me cry.  It made it all real as well somehow, as if up to that point, I could have changed my mind.

So, although it was a lovely concert, and the band gave me some great presents – my favourite was a notebook with messages from each of the kids, I’m relieved it is over.  I’ve got one more rehearsal with Barrow Shipyard Junior Band on Monday night and I’m already feeling emotional about that, so that is the next thing to get through!

Other stuff going on next week – I’ve got Soul band rehearsal after junior band rehearsal on Monday and then on Tuesday I’m reading in Ambleside at a kind of summer school for teenagers, and hoping to recruit some more teenagers for Dove Cottage Young Poets.  On Thursday I’m meeting with the Course Director at MMU so I should find out some more about the unit I’ll be teaching there – on the way I’ve got to run a workshop at a primary school in Penrith.  A year 6 child was the winner of the Cumbria School Games competition this term, and part of the prize was a workshop at their school.  I’ve got my Poetry School course on Thursday evening – the last session, and then I’m going to Lancaster Spotlight on Friday with my Dove Cottage Young Poets to watch them have a go on the Open Mic.

Last week I went to the Lakeland Book of the Year Awards and although I was on the shortlist I didn’t win.  I wasn’t too surprised as I don’t think poetry has ever won, and my book isn’t really about the Lake District as such.  Cumbria is more like a supporting character in the poems so it seemed unlikely I was going to win.  The winner overall was a young bloke who’d written a book about Cumbria’s waterways and he worked on the ferry on one of the lakes and came in his uniform to the awards which was very refreshing.  Maybe he was going back to work afterwards?

My friend Karen Lloyd won her category and was a runner up for the overall award with her prose book ‘The Gathering Tide’ so it was nice to be there to see that, especially as poor Karen was in agony with back pain, and it had been touch and go whether she would make it to the awards, or just stay in bed.

Straight after the Lakeland Book of the Year Awards I went and ran the Endmoor 10k race – one of my favourite races.  It has 195 metres of ascent in the middle and then a great downhill section in it and cakes for afterwards – a perfect 10k in my book! I managed to knock 2 minutes off my PB from last year so I was pleased with that.  I have had no time to run for the last two weeks but maybe the enforced rest has been good for me!

I also ran a poetry workshop on Shakespeare in Barrow Library and my Poetry School course in Manchester last week, my Dove Cottage Young Poets workshop in Kendal and my all day poetry workshop in Barrow, and although they were all lovely, I’m kind of glad that week is over.

I’m really happy about this week’s Sunday Poem.  I don’t often get to publish new work from poets I admire on this blog – I usually read a poem in a book that I really like, and then write to the author and ask if I can use it, so it is a real treat to have a poem that hasn’t appeared in print.

Billy’s debut collection Bevel was published by Carcanet in 2012. He has received a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust, an Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary, and a Creative Scotland Artists’ Bursary, which allowed him to travel through India for six months. He has taken part in translation projects through Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine, and in 2014 a chapbook of his poetry Potom Koža Toho Druhého was translated in Slovakian and published by Vertigo. His work has appeared on radio and television.

Billy sent me a poem from his forthcoming collection Dirt.  This is a beautiful poem that unfolds gradually. The reference to the short story ‘The Moor’ feels important here too – this story, about a chance encounter between a middle-aged man and the 80 year old woman who had been his lover three decades before echoes through the poem.  There is nothing in the poem about the ages of the lovers, but the reference certainly makes a disparity in ages a possibility, and also reveals it as unimportant.  There are ‘all kinds of bodies’.  The poem is working out what the ‘it’ of the second line is, and this working out is tender, slow-paced and sensual.

 

In a bamboo shack on the edge of a beach
Billy Letford

He read her ‘The Moor’ by Russell Banks.
It wasn’t the story, although the story is good,
and it wasn’t the way he read it. The Scottish
accent couldn’t quite grasp the Americanisms.
The sures and yeahs became parodies that
brought humour to beauty that didn’t need it.
It was the fact that she lay with her head
on his chest and he felt the rumble of his own
voice and a vibration of words gone before.
The story he read ends full of snow, and they
lay very still, but what to do? how long could
they remain there? So he traced patterns on
her skin with his fingers. And the patterns
became circles and the circles became words
and these actions have a tendency to progress.
He lifted her T-shirt over her shoulders and
we know the rest. There are all types of bodies.
If you’re lucky you’ll find someone whose skin
is a canvas for the story of your life.
Write well. Take care of the heartbeat behind it.

 

Billy’s new collection Dirt will be out in August, and you can pre-order a copy from Carcanet here.

Billy is also one of four tutors on the Poetry Carousel this August, so if you’re booked on to this, then you’ll be able to get a signed copy while you’re there!

There are currently six places left for the Poetry Carousel – so if you know anybody who might be interested, or you’ve been thinking about coming along yourself, my advice is to book swiftly.

I will have news this week about the guest poet who will be reading for us on one night of the course.  If you’d like a clue, I can tell you she is published by Bloodaxe, and has a new collection coming out very soon. Answers in the comment section below!

My two week absence

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My two week absence

Afternoon all – this is just a short blog post to reassure anybody that is wondering that I am still alive after my two week absence from blogging. I don’t need to know if you didn’t notice – you can keep that to yourself!

Normal service will resume next Sunday with a new poem from Billy Letford’s forthcoming collection.  How exciting is that?? But until then, you will have to content yourself with the stories of my travels which are about to unfold.

I’ve just got back from Ledbury Poetry Festival – I was reading as part of the Versopolis European poetry reading, alongside poets from England, Norway, France, Wales, Croatia and Germany.  The photo attached to this post was taken after our reading – just Daljit Nagra is missing as he had to dash off home.  It was a wonderful reading to be part of and I feel very lucky to have been chosen by Ledbury Poetry Festival to be one of the UK poets involved, especially given recent events – Versopolis is funded with EU cash, and the project gives young ’emerging’ poets the opportunity to go abroad to European festivals.  Here’s hoping that the project continues to grow and develop, as it has been a wonderful thing to be part of.

I also ran a workshop at the festival, and took part in a reading to launch Hwaet!, an anthology published by Bloodaxe to celebrate 20 years of Ledbury Poetry Festival.  I’m really excited to be in a Bloodaxe anthology – have never been in one before, and with a poem about scaffolding, that most noble of occupations!

Ledbury is unique in its huge network of volunteers and supporters drawn from the town. My host was a lovely lady, J who was also hosting two interns at the festival.  J whizzed me up and down to the town all weekend, stopped me falling down the stairs one morning and has got me addicted to plain croissants with jam, instead of my usual chocolate croissant.

There were two many highlights to list them all, but perhaps the one that stuck most in my mind was the reading and discussion with Mark Doty and Andrew McMillan.  Instead of a normal reading where each poet takes it in turns, one read a poem and then the other responded, on the theme of Desire.  Andrew was very open about the influence that Mark Doty has had on his own writing, and I wondered if this format of reading poems in response to each other would work with other pairs of poets.  This was also the only reading where I cried – Mark Doty read a particular poem about his partner, who was dying, reaching out a hand to his dog, and I just started crying.  I’ve read that poem before to myself, and never cried before, it was something about being in that room and hearing it in his voice, and the honesty with which both poets spoke.

By the time I got to Ledbury I was feeling a bit like a zombie.  I’d had a five hour train journey to get there, and the woman sitting next to me was not feeling well and ended up throwing up all over the train, narrowly missing my suitcase.  The train was packed and there was nowhere to get away from the vomit.  I spent the next couple of hours panicking I was going to catch a sick germ and puke up in the middle of my reading.  So far, I can report I am healthy.

I was feeling like a zombie because the weekend before Ledbury, we had the Kendal Poetry Festival! It was a great weekend – all of the events were sold out, and there was a lovely atmosphere.  It was pretty exhausting though, and straight afterwards I had some visitors from Ireland who had been attending the festival.  The husband and I borrowed my twin sister’s camper van so our guests could have a bedroom each, and so we could have a living room to sit in.

We all went to Dove Cottage on Monday for a day trip out.  Tuesday and Wednesday I was back at work, probably in a bit of a daze, and as I told my Year 3 class on Tuesday morning, without brushing my hair as I couldn’t find the hairbrush in the camper van! The kids didn’t seem to mind.  On Wednesday my Irish friends went back to Ireland and I spent Wednesday night after I finished teaching at 7pm, in a mild state of panic, planning two workshops that I was due to run the next day.

The first was for a meeting of English teachers in Penrith and the second was the next session of my Poetry School course in Manchester.  I ended up going to bed at about 1am, but with everything planned and printed out.  So my Thursday consisted of the morning in Penrith, a drive down the motorway to Manchester, met up with an old friend for coffee and then my Poetry School course in Manchester.  I then drove back home, and planned and printed out my workshop for Ledbury at about midnight.

I set off for Ledbury early Friday morning. It has been really full-on, but very enjoyable.  In amongst all that, I’ve had two bits of good news.  I’ve had two of my ‘All the Men I Never Married Poems’ accepted for publication in Poetry Ireland Review, so I’m really pleased about that.  So that is six of them that have been, or will be published now! My other bit of good news is that starting in September I’ll be doing some teaching for a couple of terms at Manchester Metropolitan University as well as starting my PhD there.

I’m really excited, and nervous about both the PhD and the teaching, but I’ve been doing this for long enough now to know that this feeling of excitement and nerves usually means good things. This Wednesday I’m off to the award ceremony for the Lakeland Book of the Year – my book has been shortlisted, and although I’m not expecting my rather slim volume of poetry to win, I thought I would go and enjoy the afternoon anyway.