The traditional end of year post. This New Years Eve I’m going to a house party. The dress code is pyjamas apparently which I don’t know whether to be pleased or disappointed with, as I seem to have spent most of the last three months in my pyjamas. Or else my running gear. Pyjamas are the PhD student dress code. Or at least they are mine anyway. I love the fact that I’ve not had to get dressed all day – sounds frivolous, but it really is a 2016 highlight for me.
In the image above you can see my 2016. I don’t often mention Brexit, or Trump very often on here. It’s not because I don’t care, it’s just that I think it deserves more thought than just dropping it into a blog post. So there is no indication of world events on my colour chart. But this was my life last year.
The squares that are coloured in blue are all trumpet gigs. So there are Soul Survivor gigs on there – but I also got back into playing for a few shows again – this year I did White Christmas, Annie and The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know how many more shows I’ll get asked to do – it’s very rare that I have a full week clear, so I often have to turn them down, but I absolutely love playing in them, so I hope I get some more!
The red squares are poetry workshops or residentials. I’ve absolutely loved running workshops and courses this year. I co-tutored on a schools course in February with Clare Shaw and then a week’s residential with Steve Ely in St Ives a couple of weeks later. I ran a second Poetry Carousel with Clare Shaw, Tsead Bruinja and Billy Letford in August in Grange Over Sands. I’ve carried on running my Dove Cottage Young Poets group and my monthly Barrow Poetry Workshop throughout 2016, and managed to fit in tutoring on a Poetry School course in Manchester as well. In September, I started teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University, which I absolutely love. It’s probably my favourite type of teaching that I’ve done – I can’t believe it’s took me this long to do it. I was offered some teaching at the university last year, but I didn’t have the confidence to do it – although at the time I convinced myself I wouldn’t have time to fit it in – so that has been a lesson learnt this year – I definitely need to believe in myself a little more.
The green squares are readings. This year, I was chosen to be part of the Read Regional scheme so I had 10 (or possibly 11) readings in libraries all over the north. I also read at Swindon Poetry Festival, Winchester Poetry Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Bradford Literature Festival. I went over to Holland to read at a festival in Groningen and got to spend time with Jan Glas, one of my favourite people to spend time with. I read on BBC6 with Cerys Matthews and at a late night poetry and music event at the Proms. One of the things I felt most proud of this year was being invited to be a guest poet at a course at Ty Newydd. I’ve been on many, many residentials at Ty Newydd and they meant so much to me when I was first starting out. I remember sitting in the library mid-week listening to the guest poet, and never dreaming that one day I would be the guest poet!
Probably my highlight of the year though was setting up the first Kendal Poetry Festival with my friend Pauline Yarwood. We didn’t think we’d get funding, or that the festival would sell out. The weekend of the festival was wonderful – and although I expected to be knackered, I didn’t expect to be left wanting to do it all again! The second festival will, subject to funding, be taking place from the 16th-18th June 2017.
I also of course, left my music teaching and my brass band conducting behind which was a massive life change and started a PhD. I’ve just had a look at my end of year blog from last year, and there is no mention of wanting to start a PhD. I have wanted to do one for ages though, but it was (again) one of those things that I thought was out of my reach. I feel very lucky that I’ve been given full funding, and so far, I’m really enjoying it, which is lucky as I’ll be doing it for the next three years.
It hasn’t all been great though – the last couple of months have been difficult. I’m hardly ever ill, so having my gall bladder out was not only a physical shock, but mentally it has been very hard, being forced to stop, and in the longer term to slow down. Really I was only out of action for a couple of months and it felt like the end of the world! I know I’m incredibly lucky to have my health back again, to be able to go to hospital and to be fixed up, to have had compassionate care from the NHS staff – and to have my wonderful friends, who really rallied round to cheer me up when I needed it. I have so much respect for my friends and students who are struggling with more long-term health issues.
The things that aren’t marked on that chart are my two days of brass teaching I was doing a week until July and the three brass band rehearsals I was conducting. No, I don’t know how I fitted it in either. And the running isn’t marked in of course. I have loved running this year – it has been a bit bitter sweet, because I got as fit as I have ever been before suddenly having to drag myself to hospital, and having my hopes of breaking my personal record for a half marathon dashed, but there are worse things that happen after all. At the minute, I’m doing 5-7k runs and every run feels like such hard work – I’m trying to get my fitness back, and there is no such thing as an easy run at the minute. Having said that, I feel very happy that I can actually go and do it, even if I am puffing along very slowly.
I don’t really get New Year’s Eve – I don’t feel euphoria at midnight like lots of other people seem to. I never know what I want to be doing at midnight – if I could do anything in the world, I would probably still be undecided as the old year slipped away. I would like to have more time for my friends and family in 2017. I’d like more time for poetry and more time for running and more time for PhD and more time for gallivanting about. Just more time in general would be nice.
Tomorrow is the Sunday Poem and tomorrow’s poet has been very patiently waiting for her turn so I am determined to write the blog, despite plans for park run and travelling to my sisters. But for now, I will leave you with my one seasonal poem – a New Years Eve poem from a few years ago in Hebden Bridge.
I hope you all have a fantastic 2017.
New Year’s Eve – Kim Moore
This one started the same as the others,
the waiting for midnight, talking to strangers
as what’s left of the year drags itself off
and we stand on the bridge as fireworks
burst silent at midnight, the tipping point
when you could fall between years
and no one would notice, but afterwards
it wasn’t the same, because we danced to
‘Not Alone Anymore’ by the Travelling Wilburys
and I believed him, Roy Orbison, I mean,
I remember sitting at my grandmother’s feet
with his voice on repeat,
and this time was different because David
was in love, as if love hadn’t happened before,
as if he’d been months at sea and just returned
and this was the last thing they had to do this year.
They’ve not learnt to be disappointed in one another
as the year that they met skulks from the room
and the new one comes in with its arms full of love,
the dogs smelling of rain and the woods
where we walked the last dusk of the year
and who else would know the words to Alanis
but David, who fell asleep sitting up, swaying
like a paper boat on slow moving water.