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Sunday Poem – Martin Domleo


Good morning everyone!  I am back in Barrow again after more swanning about London.  I got back from Aldeburgh for a couple of days (Monday to Wednesday) and then I was off to London again on Thursday to read at Lauderdale House with wonderful poet Maitreyabandhu and Tom Lowenstein.  We had a small, select audience – made me realise the unpredictability of poetry readings – two days before I’d been at Aldeburgh in the Festival Hall reading to at least a hundred people I would say – now I was in a beautiful art gallery reading to an attentive audience of nine!  I actually think that those readings with a small audience are much, much harder.  They are more intimate which I find nerve racking.  There is less ‘performance’ to hide behind.  But that aside, it was a good evening.

On Friday I went on a boat down the Thames with poet friend Jill Abram – we went to Greenwich and visited the Painted Hall and the Chapel in the Naval College and we went to the museum there – my favourite things were these figureheads displayed on the wall from various ships – there is something so proud about them


yet they are also garish and a bit sad I think, not belonging to any ships any more.

We got back to Brixton via the DLR line – I didn’t even know this existed – but was my fave transport of the trip – a train with a glass front so you can see along the tracks as you go along – a spooky experience.  I also went on a bus and the normal tube while in London.  Everyone seems to spend most of their time traveling.

On Friday I ran a workshop with the Malika’s Kitchen Collective on how contemporary poets explore the concept of the Journey in poetry – I only had two hours so there was lots we couldn’t cover – I could have spent two hours for example talking about Cavafy’s Ithaca poem and Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich, which are two fantastic examples of journey poems which offer alternative viewpoints on the journey I think – the Cavafy poem argues that it is the journey that is important – whilst in Rich’s poetry it is all about the acquirement of knowledge (the end of the journey) and then the application of that knowledge..we didn’t talk about how migration is explored in poetry – how the very act of writing about a journey carries an implicit gesture towards the concept of ‘home’, even without mentioning it…but we did have a go at other journey related poems –  and I was lucky to work with such a talented and enthusiastic group of poets – they wrote some cracking poems and I have some new names to look out for in magazines and publications…

I bought a banana somewhere between Borough and Greenwich – I always worry about being hungry so I store food in my bag – unfortunately I forgot about the banana and when I was packing on Saturday morning I just stuffed my bag with all the books I’d bought with me.  On the train later that day, when I was gleefully unpacking the books and deciding what to read, I realised that the banana had squashed all over my lovely new books, which are now not so new and lovely.

I spent about an hour wiping them down, constructing little tissue bandages for them to soak up some banana, which in retrospect might have been a little excessive.  I haven’t looked at them this morning to see if they are ok.

It was also Poem and A Pint in Ulverston last night and I met the lovely Judy Brown, Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust before hand and managed to escort her, my suitcase and a bag of chips up to Ford Park in time for the reading.  Judy read beautifully and it was wonderful to hear some of her new poems as well as some old  favourites.

Two poets from Preston, Terry Quinn and Martin Domleo read on the open mic – they are becoming regular features at Poem and a Pint and it is always lovely to see them.  Terry has his first collection out with Indigo Dreams Press – and I’m planning on hassling him for a Sunday Poem at some point – but today’s Sunday Poem is by Martin Domleo and comes from his book ‘Decelerations’ published by Lapwing Publications.

I chose this poem from the book because I’m glad to be back in Cumbria – and this is a Cumbrian poem through and through – it has lots of rain in it for one thing!  I like the quietness of this poem – which is just what I need after the hustle and bustle of being in London for a couple of days.   This poem comes from his first book of poems, and you can find out more about Martin by going to his website http://www.martindomleo.co.uk

Martin is also trying to get some poetry events happening in Preston – and has plans for an event in March and one in October – more on that closer to the time!

I hope you enjoy the poem, and thanks to Martin for letting me use it.

In Borrowdale – Martin Domleo

Water sprinkled with light
through leaves
gathers in quiet pools.

By itself
a mallard dips for food,
paddles, then dips again,
staining the shallows red.

The crown
of its head is missing –
beaked out
by one of the crowd
splashing noisily upstream.

There is no going back.
It moves
like a mechanical lifeboat
on a flat calm sea

holding to task
while the sharks circle.

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival


Hello everybody!  Just to let you all know that I didn’t fall into the sea in Aldeburgh, but in fact made it safely back to Barrow, if slightly the worse for wear through a slight indulgence of red wine on the last night.  I wanted to blog when I got back and post a poem on the Monday instead of the Sunday – but…but….for the last three days I’ve been hanging on to my usual life by my fingernails basically – as in, I’ve gone to work, got home, ate, slept, got up, gone to work, ate, slept – you get the picture.  Who knew poetry could be so exhausting?  But in a completely good way of course.   Rather than recount everything that happened because I would be here all day – I thought I would do a list of the good things about Aldeburgh

1.  My accommodation – what can I say?  34 Lee Road, run by Pete and Sue is the nicest place I’ve stayed in.  Nothing was too much trouble for them and the room was beautiful.  And did I mention I had a JACUZZI!! I would highly recommend http://www.aldeburgh-bedandbreakfast.co.uk/

2. Organisation – Naomi Jaffa, Dean Parkin, David Edwards and their committee and team of volunteers seemed to have thought of everything.  I got picked up and dropped off at the station, they organised my train tickets and my accommodation, I got paid at the festival, events ran on time and all the volunteers and event stewards seemed to be in a really good mood and enjoying themselves.  There were buses to ferry people back and forth from Aldeburgh to Snape.  I really do think that the festival team should be put in charge of running the NHS or the country or something –

3. The Book Stall.  Now this does need a whole bullet point of its own.  The book stall had books from every poet performing at the festival.   I have counted up my list of books that I bought at the festival – 13!

4.  The Poets – There was only two poets that I had seen perform before at the festival – Robin Robertson and Alison Brackenbury.  The rest I’d never heard read – which as regular followers of this blog will know is pretty unusual as I go to a lot of poetry readings.  There were lots of international poets there and it was a highlight of the festival for me.  I also met some wonderful people who I feel like I’ll be friends with forever now – and met some old friends and acquaintances who I haven’t seen for a while

5.  Readings and Talks.  I knew I’d enjoy doing my reading, because I love doing readings – but people were so nice to me afterwards – I sold around 50 wolves – it was a wonderful feeling.  I was also doing two discussion events – a ‘Close Reading’ where I had to take a poem that I like and talk about it – and  a ‘Blind Criticism’ which I wasn’t too nervous about because I couldn’t control that.  But I was nervous about the Close Reading because I’d never done anything like it before.  Going to Robert Wrigley’s close reading didn’t help – his was as rhythmical as a poem!  I stayed up till 2am refining my talk the night before after going to a couple of Close Readings by other people and getting some tips.  Again, people were really kind afterwards and I feel more confident about doing something like it again.  All kudos to the festival for taking a punt on me and giving me the opportunity to do something like that – I really feel like I’ve developed as a poet through doing it – I discovered things about the poem through doing it (For the Sleepwalkers by Edward Hirsch) and I’m very grateful for the experience.

6. Michael Laskey’s Workshop On the Sunday morning, encouraged by Peter Sansom, I turned up to Michael Laskey’s workshop, thinking there wouldn’t be many people there so early after a whole day and evening of poetry the night before.  How wrong I was!  I reckon there must have been fifty people crammed into the Peter Pears gallery – there was such a buzz when I walked in – yes, you guessed it, I nearly did a little star jump.  It was only 45 minutes but I think we did four or five exercises and everyone was happy and enthusiastic and in a good mood – it was great.

7. Walking to Thorpeness along the beach on Friday 8. The stars at 1am walking back to my accommodation on Sunday night So it can’t all have been perfect, I hear you say.  Well – the only thing that did annoy me at the festival was that there were events running concurrently and I wanted to be in two places at once and I obviously couldn’t.  Sometimes I missed things because I had to eat.  That’s not the festival’s fault though.  I am dreading the podcast interview that I did with the other pamphlet poets straight after the reading, because I was quite hyper and I think I was talking a load of old rubbish.  We will see – again, not really the festival’s fault though – more me getting way too excited!

Tomorrow I am reading at Lauderdale House in London with Maitreyabandhu and Tom Lowenstein http://www.lauderdalehouse.co.uk/page.asp?ID=1367&PID=13&PVID=1546 so I am back in London!  I’m running a workshop on Friday for poetry group ‘Malika’s Kitchen’ and then I’m returning to Barrow on Saturday for ‘A Poem and A Pint’.  This time our guest poet is Judy Brown, the Wordsworth Trust’s Poet in Residence, so I hope to see some of you there, or in London or maybe Lancaster the week after…

You can find John Field’s official Aldeburgh Poetry Festival blog here: http://www.thepoetrytrust.org/FestBlog/festblog-main/

but here he has blogged about the pamphlet poets reading and said lots of nice things http://www.thepoetrytrust.org/festblog/festblog-article/pamphlet-power/