Tag Archives: lancaster

A week of writing…


Evening folks.  I am doing a post tonight to save Sunday’s post turning into a huge essay…

This week I’ve been working my butt off…and have to tell you all about it!  Thank goodness I’m on summer holidays from teaching at the moment is all I can say, otherwise I don’t know how I would fit it all in.  My main problem is that when Chris was away I ordered Game of Thrones Season 2 to keep me occupied – which I have confessed to in previous blog posts (I got obsessed and was watching it non stop every evening).  What I don’t think I admitted to is that I also bought Season 6 and 7 of Desperate Housewives and I’ve been holding onto my self control by my fingernails this week.  I’ve had lots of writing things to do and I’ve had to restrain myself from watching non stop Desperate Housewives.  I also recently discovered Audible – I don’t want this to turn into an advert for Audible – but it’s amazing!  I downloaded it to my mobile phone and I can listen as I’m driving – I’ve just finished listening to ‘Dominion’ by C.J. Sansom.  Fantastic book.

On Monday I spent a huge part of the day and most of the evening working on my script for ‘Cartographers’.  On Monday I managed to get ten minutes worth of material down which I was fairly pleased with.

On Tuesday I went to Lancaster Train Station which I’ve been commissioned to write some poems about.  I had quite a successful trip and met the train guard that I met eight years ago when I first came up here for my interview.  A very nice man – he was telling me that he was meant to retire last year but he loves his job so much he asked them if he could carry on.

I went straight from Lancaster to Grasmere to the Wordsworth Trust to see Michael Symmons Roberts and James Lasdun read.  I must admit I knew nothing about James Lasdun’s poetry and was mainly going to see Michael read – he is one of my fave poets and a Very Nice Bloke too- he was my tutor on the MA at Manchester Met and has always impressed me with his professionalism and knowledge about poetry as well as his own writing being great of course.  Michael was as fabulous as I thought he would be – his readings are very intense, very reserved  – I think his is quiet poetry – it does not shout or draw attention to itself, but it is insistent and memorable.  James Lasdun was very very funny – very self deprecating and even though I swore I would not buy any more poetry books as I have so many to read and catch up on, I bought his book.  So my oath of abstinance from buying more books lasted – ooh – all of five minutes.

On Wednesday I was taking part in a training day at the Wordsworth Trust with John Siddique, Anne Caldwell, Andrew McMillan and Clare Shaw.  We are going to be leading poetry workshops for secondary school pupils based around the collections of objects and manuscripts at the Wordsworth Trust – the project is called ‘Real Live Writers’ and you can find more information about it here https://wordsworth.org.uk/learn/educational-visits/live-writers.html – if you are a teacher and want to book a workshop for your class, or if you are a friend and want to be nosy and see what I’m up to!

On Thursday I did more work on ‘Cartographers’ – met a friend for lunch, took the dogs for a walk, posted out two pamphlets which had been bought hrough the magic paypal button on the blog – my finest hour -working out how to do that.

And that brings me to today – which is Friday.  Today I got up late, went for lunch with the hubby and we then got the bus to Askam with the dogs and walked back to Barrow along the beach.  It took about two and a half hours and on the way we saw what we think was a small dolphin with its eyes eaten out.

But I’m not going to leave you with that image!  No, I have some good news!  Today I confirmed *some*details of the residential courses I’ll be running in 2014 – but if you want to find out, you will have to head over to the ‘Residential Courses’ page.  Which I haven’t writtten yet.  So give me a minute after you finish reading this!!

And tomorrow I will be reading at Ulverston Breastfeeding Festival.  I am a warmup act for Hollie McNish – who is going to be fab.  Kate Davis will also be warming up too – more details at http://thebreastfeedingfestival.btck.co.uk/Festival2013/Somethingwedonttalkabout

Reading poetry, pyjamas, April Poets and collection thoughts


Good morning everybody! Arrgh, it’s already the last day of the Easter holidays!  The weekend doesn’t count you see, that’s the weekend.  This is the last day that I can sit and think, what SHOULD I be doing today – hmm, nine o clock Friday, I would be doing a half hour lesson in a primary school for two trumpets, one cornet and a baritone player.

Today I’m off to Glamorous Glossop to visit the lovely Liz Venn.  Apparently there will be red wine and bolognese.  Tomorrow morning we are both going to the Poetry Business for our next Advanced Writing School workshop.  This has two advantages – I don’t have to get the train at 6.20 am on Saturday morning and I get to see Liz!  And because yet again, there is a replacement bus service on the train line I can drive back with Jenny Copley to Barrow and get back at a reasonable time.

So I’ve been vaguely taking part in National Poetry Writing Month – which is where you join a group and write a poem a day.  I’m part of a ‘secret’ group on Facebook and I am a guest prompter which means I have to do a couple of prompts on certain days to set people off writing poetry.

I feel like I’ve already written about this in a previous post – sorry if I’m repeating myself!  Anyway, I’ve been reading other people’s posts, sometimes commenting, mostly being a silent, lurking observer, but what I have done all week is to basically sit in my pyjamas for most of the day and read poetry.  I went to the remainder bookshop in Sedburgh and got lots of brand new poetry books for half price and I’ve just been reading through those.  I made myself a nest and a flask of tea so I didn’t have to keep getting up and just sat and read.  So poets I’ve read this week include Phillip Gross, Heather Williamson, Peter Levi, Lucie Brock-Braido, Esther Jansma….I haven’t read all of these cover to cover – I’ve been kind of dipping in and out.

I’ve been playing Lucky Dip with the Poetry Archive whilst doing the washing up.  I learnt a Don Paterson poem off by heart.  I’ve written one poem which I think might be worth going on with and maybe five rubbishy ones.  I’ve done a map of my first collection which you can see below.  Barrow-in-Furness-20130410-00239

The boxes are themes and the little bits of writing are poems and I’ve done lots of spidery lines all over the place to see how they join up with each other.  I thought a lot about whether I should add little bits about the collection in between these conversations with other poets and I decided I would, although it feels strangely revealing and private to do so.  I know where there are gaps in the collection now, where I need to write more poems.

Last night I went to an April Poets event in Lancaster.  I’m really glad I did bother myself to get out of my nest and my pyjamas because it was a really nice event.  The room was packed with audience which is lovely to see – the open mic was great and the invited guest poets – Michael Crowley, Pauline Yarwood, Carole Coates and Judy Brown were varied, interesting and entertaining.

I had a chat with poet Antony Christie in the bar and from this very short conversation I think I’ve pinned down the first poem in my collection.

So this is how I’ve decided to ‘do’ National Poetry Month – pretty much what I do all the time, but more of it.  Lots of reading, a little bit of writing, and getting out and about as much as I can to see what else is going on with other poets.

By the way, if any of you do live anywhere near Lancaster, check out April Poets web page http://www.aprilpoets.org.uk/

They host events twice a year, and they are always fantastic and very well organised.  The next one is in November – I don’t know who is reading yet, but keep your eye on the website.