It’s been a while since I blogged again but I’ve been busy getting more and more pregnant and trying to get as much of my PhD done as possible before the baby arrives. I’m now 35 weeks pregnant and officially on maternity leave from my PhD, which feels strange. I can’t quite let go of it at the moment still – it’s become a habit I can’t put down.
My maternity leave started on the 1st May and I decided to set myself a rather arbitrary target of getting up to 20,000 words of my critical thesis. I say arbitrary because it was a self-imposed target, but I find I work best if I’ve got a goal to work towards. Overall, the thesis has to be between 30,000 and 40,000 so I thought if I had 20,000 under my belt before my maternity leave started, I would feel a bit more confident that I would finish it. The creative part of the PhD, my next collection I’m happy to let tick along at the side – it’s not finished yet, but I’m confident that I can finish it. The critical part is harder to predict.
So the last couple of weeks have been kind of intense – I’ve been writing pretty much non-stop around the last few freelance commitments I’ve had. I’ve had really productive meetings with two of my supervisors in the last few weeks as well on both the creative and the critical side – I know what I need to do next, and I’ve decided to slowly keep plugging away at it whilst I’ve still got the urge but just at a less frantic pace than I’ve been doing.
I also can’t believe that the baby will be here in five weeks. It seems both that it’s gone really fast, and that I’ve been pregnant for years! It’s been a complete rollercoaster, which I know is a cliché, but it really has. I’m now starting to feel excited instead of scared, and looking forward to the baby arriving, massively helped by attending a hypnobirthing course a few weekends ago. I would highly recommend it to anyone feeling anxious/nervous/stressed about pregnancy or birth – it was full of really practical information about pregnancy but also lots of meditations to practice at home. I was sceptical at first, but listening to a meditation on my phone the first night after the course helped me sleep straight through the night for probably the first time in about three or four months. I listen to them every night now and I’ve gone from getting up four times a night because I’m so uncomfortable to just getting up once a night which I can just about cope with!
I have a few poetry updates for those that are interested. The Poetry Carousel is happening again this December, although we’ve moved venue to Rydal Hall in Ambleside. The course runs from the 6th-9th December 2020 costs £385 to share a room with a friend, £400 for a standard room or £415 for a superior room. This cost includes workshops, accommodation, evening readings and breakfast, lunch and evening meals.
The Poetry Carousel is a residential course with a difference – four very different workshops with four very different tutors, all crammed into one weekend. Each participant will be put into a group of between 8 and 10 to take part in a morning workshop with one of four tutors. Afternoons are free for reading and writing, and in the evening, there are poetry readings in the Great Hall at the hotel. Tutors confirmed so far are myself, Clare Shaw and David Tait with a fourth tutor to be confirmed. If you’d like to book, you need to ring the hotel direct on 015394 32050 but any questions about the course, you can contact me directly on here or via email.
I’ve just got back from running my St Ives residential poetry course which was a brilliant week with possibly the best weather I’ve experienced since I started running the courses down there. Kind of frustrating as I couldn’t get out and run or even walk very far but lovely for the participants! St Ives will be running again next year, this time from the 27th April to the 2nd May 2020 and I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with the fabulous poet and writer Fiona Sampson as my guest tutor this year. This course runs more like a traditional residential, with a maximum of 16 participants. The cost of the week is £595 and this includes breakfast, three course evening meals, workshops, a tutorial with one of the tutors and readings in the evenings. To book a place, please ring the hotel direct on 01736 796240.
A few other exciting poetry happenings in Cumbria – I’m on the organising committee of ‘A Poem and a Pint’ and our next event is happening on the 29th June with the fabulous poet Ilya Kaminsky. The venue is Greenodd Village Hall and we will have some limited open mic spots available. This is a really exciting opportunity to see one of the most brilliant poets writing today so get the date in your diary!
After the success of last year’s poetry competition, A Poem and a Pint are running a competition again this year, this time with the fantastic Carrie Etter as our judge. First prize is £150, 2nd prize is £100 and 3rd prize is £50 with a special prize for a Cumbrian poet of £25. The closing date of the competition is the 15th July 2019 and it’s a relatively fast turnaround – winners will be contacted by the 7th September and we will be having a prize giving event on the 21st September with Carrie Etter as our guest reader. You can find more information about the competition here
If you need any information about any of the events listed here, please get in touch, and if you know anyone who might be interested in the residential courses, please feel free to share!
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