Tag Archives: new tattoo

The Sunday Poem – Mike Barlow


Getting the Sunday poem in pretty close to the wire!  But I’ve been at the Dorothy Wordsworth Festival of Women’s Poetry all weekend.  More about that in a later post.

I went to Mike Barlow’s book launch last Thursday.  His new book, Charmed Lives is published by Smith/Doorstop.  You can order it from http://www.poetry business.co.uk

It was one of the few poetry readings I’ve been to where the organisers had to get more chairs out!  People had turned out in force to support Mike.  I think this was for two equally as important reasons.  Firsly, he is  a great poet, as you will see from the poem below, which is one of my favourites in the collection, but secondly, he is such a lovely guy, in fact he is reknowned for being generally nice.  You’ll know what I mean if you know him!

Anyway, it’s a great book with a fantastic cover, which I’m told is one of Mike’s paintings – he is a visual artist as well.  His website is

Let me know what you think of the poem!

Holding the Door – Mike Barlow

I held the door for my daughter
who waved and disappeared
before I’d had a chance to smile.
I held the door for my grandmother
still ramming her trolley
against the heels of the person ahead.
I held the door for a couple arguing,
I knew their words by heart.
I held the door for a pair of trainers
and a tiny muscular dog which sniffed my toes.
I held the door for a scar of scarlet lipstick
pursed in permanent disapproval>

I held the door for the verb ‘to love’
declining itself endlessly
to strobe lights and a drum machine;
for the colour red, it wore a mini-skirt
on a pale exhausted body;
for faith, looking straight ahead,
eyes fixed on the vanishing point;
for famine, trying to explain itself
again and again with the sound turned down;
for silence, its white sheet smoothed
and tucked into crisp hospital corners.

I held the door for childhood.
It flickered like an old newsreel
played in the daylight.
I held the door for history.
It swung through with a funny walk,
a punter in a hall of mirrors.
I held the door for tomorrow.
Blind fingers felt the furrows
on my brow, the creases down my cheeks.
I held the door for my shadow
but it seemed reluctant to go in front.



The end of the first week of the holidays – well almost.  I’ve had a great week, deliberately not planning anything, but it seems to have flown by all the same.  I’ve had the dogs to walk of course – most days I’ve managed to get out twice a day, and the weather has helped this too!  I started to clean out all my paperwork from our spare bedroom.  I’ve filled a huge box with old lesson plans and schemes of work that I haven’t used for years – I file them away, thinking that will save me replanning stuff, but then I can never find what I want anyway.  So out it has all gone.  Me and Chris are planning to have a room each, to stay true to the spirit of my new tattoo!  I’m getting the large room, as I teach in there sometimes and Chris is going to have the small room.  Then he can keep the small one ridiculously tidy, and I can let my creative energy spread over the large one, which is my way of saying I can leave my stuff where I like!  I still have two large boxes to sort out though – so we have a way to go yet….

In poetry related news, I’ve had a really exciting week, although I am very aware of something a friend, and excellent poet Holly Hopkins told me about on a recent writing retreat about ‘poetry related stuff’ that is all very good and exciting, like readings, competitions, prizes, publications etc that you can get caught up with.  However, this poetry related stuff is not ‘poetry’.  It’s not the same as that buzz that you get when you sit down to write and it is working and you know you are on to something, and it is important not to be seduced by it!  Maitreyabandhu did a brilliant article in Poetry Review about this and another, equally as brilliant in Magma recently.  I think he used a different definition, but I think he was talking about essentially the same thing. 

This week, I’ve really not written anything.  I’m giving myself a break now I’ve got the pamphlet coming out, but I’ve also been doing lots of ‘poetry related stuff’.  Which needed doing, but I am aware that it is not writing!

Saying that, I’ve had a poem accepted at an online magazine based in mexico, The Ofi Press.  The website address is www.theofipress.webs.com

I’ve been asked to write a review for the Cadaverine: www.thecadaverine.com

Poetry Review and Stand arrived with a poem in of mine

and this week a few readings came in: the 25th May with Ian Parks at Heart Cafe in Headingley and the same venue on the 25th July with Cora Greenhill and James Caruth with three more readers to be announced. 

I also found out one of my poems ‘Hartley Street Spiritualist Church’ got a runner up prize in the Kent and Sussex Poetry Competition, which was very nice.  The Kent and Sussex was the first competition I got placed in when I first started writing – I got a runner up prize then as well – don’t know what that says about my writing!

And I’ve been reading all the National Poetry Writing Month entries and secretly wishing I’d joined in – but now, due to my obsessive personality I will have to wait till next year, so I can do it properly – can’t join in half way through!

Also found out this week who is going to be my mentor as part of the amazing package that Ledbury Poetry Festival have put together as part of my Young Poet-in-Residence experience.  I don’t know if I’m allowed to say anything yet, so I won’t blab, but I am pretty happy about it – it will be a brilliant experience…

And the MOST exciting thing is that I have my editorial meeting with Ann Sansom from Smith Doorstop next Friday to work on my pamphlet.  Now that is happening, it actually feels real, and I’m really looking forward to it.  Any suggestions for cover colours are welcome.