Tag Archives: keswick

Plays and Poetry


It’s been a mixed week this week – on Monday I went to Keswick to the Theatre by the Lake for the first rehearsal of the play ‘Cartographers’ that I’ve written part of, in association with The Alligator Club.  I met the actors and the production team and then watched the first read through of the whole play and then the first rehearsal of the scene that I wrote.  It was a really interesting process and a strange one – hearing what I’d written being read by someone else kind of felt like someone walking over your grave – a bit shivery – but in a good way!  The actors were still reading from the script on Monday so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow which is the actual show.  It’s on at 1.30pm and 3.30pm but as far as I know it has sold out, although it is worth ringing the theatre to check as I managed to get two extra tickets a couple of days ago that were returns…so by this time tomorrow I will have seen the play performed – the first one or part of one that I’ve written.  I’m quite excited.  I’m also playing the trumpet along with one of my pupils in the show – I have come out of retirement to play!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I had to go to Penrith to go to Inset for my teaching job with the Music Service.  I don’t really like Inset – not a controversial thing to say really – I think most teachers feel the same, but I won’t go into any further detail!  The highlight of the two days though was Ewan Easton, a professional tuba player who I worked with earlier this year who came and gave us all a very inspirational talk on his work in prisons teaching brass.  I was very interested because I worked in a prison early last year as a poet.  A lot of the things he talked about I recognised and it occurred to me that maybe it doesn’t really matter what you go in to a prison and do – as long as you are passionate about it – I’ve seen tv programmes based in America where prisoners have to look after a dog from a rescue and get it ready to be rehomed, and then there are poets in prison and now brass teaching – but it seems prisoners are not just learning about the medium (poetry/dogs/brass) but life skills – listening, co operation with others, trust in others etc etc.

On Tuesday after Inset I went round to my pupils house to practice the duet for the theatre show with him – and then for fun had a go at some quartet pieces with my pupil and his mum who plays tuba – just to see what it sounded like.  Even though we were missing a part, it still sounded pretty good, so we’ve decided we are going to form a brass quintet – my sister is going to play french horn – so we just need to find a trombone player now…..I got carried away playing an arrangement of ‘At Last’ and was nearly late for Barrow Writers – a poetry critiquing group that I go to..but I made it just a couple of minutes late..it was a good night and I was glad I remembered to go!

On Wednesday I went to the theatre in Keswick to practice the trumpet parts with David…

And Thursday I drove over to Newcastle for the first meeting for the job that I mentioned in a previous post.  I’m going to be working with the good people at New Writing North on a project at various teaching schools across the North East.  We are going to be working with teachers on their own creative practice – so running creative writing workshops for teachers.  I’m being mentored on the project by poet Anna Woodford who is a very experienced poet and tutor so I’m looking forward to it –

I also got to see the Mslexia office – which is just down the corridor from the New Writing North office!  I went in to say hello to Debbie Taylor as I’d nearly knocked her over in the corridor in my rush to get to the meeting in the morning…

and then today has been a bit of a stressful, slightly demoralizing day.  I’ve been ringing around my schools trying to sort my timetable out, which is harder this year because I’m only working for three days, so I only have three afternoons and all the schools want to be in the afternoon, because all primary schools do literacy and numeracy in the morning so fitting them all in has been difficult, to say the least.  But barring any great disasters, it’s done now – I’ll be working three days a week starting on Monday!


September is the Cruellest Month – Deborah Parkin


A while ago I was contacted by David Ward, the Literature Officer at the Theatre by The Lake in Keswick who had seen one of my poems in “The Weekly Word” which is an email newsletter circulated by New Writing Cumbria (http://www.newwritingcumbria.org.uk/ ) edited by the irrepressible Mick North. 

David was putting together a photography exhibition called September is the Cruellest Month by Deborah Parkin and wondered if I would be interested in gathering some poets together to write some poems to go with the exhibition and writing one myself.  He wanted to call the project September Sonnets and confessed it was mainly because he knew 14 lines would fit in the space available and because he liked the alliteration!

So I gathered some poets together – there was Martyn Halsall, Antony Christie, Gill Nicholson and Jennifer Copley and we set about writing some poems. I was worried that the poets would complain and not write sonnets – I’ve only ever written one rhyming sonnet in my life, which I’ve now disowned but most of the poets produced quite a few poems and some of them were sonnets or sonnet shaped anyway. 

We had a lovely afternoon at the theatre and Deborah Parkin came to talk about her work, which was really interesting.  I’ve never really written poetry to go with art or pictures before and the challenge of this and forming it into something like a sonnet I really enjoyed.

You can see some of the poems that were produced, and the photographs from the exhibition if you click here: http://deborahparkinphotography.blogspot.co.uk/ 

My poem is quite creepy – about changelings and I felt quite guilty about it and was worried about Deborah being offended, until she spoke about her childhood and  a friend of hers being murdered, and then an intruder entering a holiday home when she had her own children, and how this fear or sense of things being easily lost had somehow found its way into the photographs.  This is all on the blog at the above link – but when she said this, I immediately felt a sense of relief and recognition – nothing so terrible happened or has happened to me, but my childhood was filled with the fear of being taken away or kidnapped.  I used to have recurring nightmares about the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang coming to get me in C & A – to the point where I convinced myself it had actually happened – so I think I connnected with this fear and wrote the odd little poem that I did. 

Anyway, I have been rubbish this week with this blog.  No Sunday poem last week because I went down to Leicester for my birthday and went clothes shopping and saw my new great-neice and my sisters and my mum and dad and my neices and nephews – but this Sunday there will definately be a Sunday poem – and I’m super organised and even have one ready for the Sunday after – well kind of ready anyway.