Tag Archives: poetry reading

16 Days of Action #day15

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The cliché advice when we go for job interviews or doing a performance is to think of the audience or the interviewers with no clothes on, or think of them on the toilet.

Someone once said to me that another technique is to imagine the person smaller.

This poem is about that really – the fallacy that size or lack of it can make someone less frightening.

But also about power, and who has it and who doesn’t.  How sometimes power that looks like power can be not-power, can be something else.   The power to make someone smaller, to diminish them, to make them a character of black/white, good/evil, to make something simple, sometimes isn’t power at all.

In Ovid’s version of the story of Thetis, who is a shape-shifter, a goddess of the waves who can become any animal or bird that she chooses, is promised in marriage to Peleus, against her will.  Peleus catches her in a sea-cave and binds her, waiting while she changes into hundreds of different shapes before she eventually gives in and submits to him.

Sometimes the power to change is no power at all either.

The World’s Smallest Man

Today I make you into the world’s smallest man.
You are so small I open my hand and you dance
on the great landscape of my palm.

You are a thin stick of a man.  When you stretch out
along my life line, your feet touch my wrist
and your head rests below my index finger.

You are a small man, but like a small dog
you are unaware of your size.  Sometimes
you go missing for days then jump out

and shout surprise! But you do not mean surprise.
I decided to make you even smaller, the size
of an insect.  Now you can walk upside down.

I think of all the places I could leave you
now you are smaller than the lightest
water boatman, but you keep shrinking

till you are less than a grain of salt,
so small you are living on my skin.
And, once I breathe, I breathe you in.

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Sunday Poem – Alison Brackenbury

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Sunday Poem – Alison Brackenbury

I’m happy to say I’m in a bit better shape than I was last Sunday when I wrote.  I’ve not had any recurring gall bladder attacks.  I’ve managed to stick to this wretched diet now for 11 days, although I did have a mishap two nights ago.  I was googling ‘healthy biscuits’ and read that Rich Tea biscuits are the healthiest.  So I cracked open the packet and ate six in one go..  When I saw my running buddy the next day, he helpfully pointed out that they are only healthy in relation to other biscuits, they still have loads of fat in.  So I was a bit annoyed at myself for this, and spent the night worrying that I was going to end up in hospital and I would have to confess I’d scoffed loads of biscuits.  Anyway, it hasn’t happened so far, so I think I will be ok.

It is strange and kind of exhausting having to worry about what I’m eating all the time.  I feel like I’m thinking about food every minute of the day at the minute, as if I’m hungry all the time.  I have now got an appointment at the hospital for the 24th November to see the consultant, so I will know more then hopefully about when the operation is going to be.

I haven’t ran all week, which has been awful.  I actually feel less mentally stable when I can’t run.  This week, I’ve burst into tears at absolutely nothing about five times, which has been a bit embarrassing.

I’ve been working quite hard on PhD stuff – trying to get my head around this RD1 form that has to be handed in mid-december, probably just about the time I will be recovering from this operation!  I’m really struggling with the RD1, with knowing what I want to do, with articulating what I want to do, with making it into a research project – all of it.

For the first time this week, I wondered what I was doing, starting a PhD, as in what have I let myself in for, and why did I have the cheek to think I could do a PhD? I feel like I’m just playing at doing a PhD, and soon someone will find me out and I’ll be in trouble.  I guess this is what they call imposter syndrome.  The logical and rational part of my brain is telling myself that this is just a wobble, that it is happening because I’m feeling vulnerable because I’ve been to hospital, because I’ve got to have an operation etc etc.  But the other part of me is basically having a silent panic attack about it all.

So apart from this existential crisis about food, life and the PhD, it has been a pretty quiet week! I’ve been taking it easy, getting some work done but no physical exercise.  I did my day of teaching at the uni on Thursday.  I even spent a whole day where I just edited some poems, which I really enjoyed doing.

I regularly ring the hotels that I run the residentials at for a bit of a chat and a gossip with the staff.  I rang Treloyhan Manor Hotel last night to see how numbers were going for St Ives.  There are still 3 rooms left, and there is an option to have a non en-suite room (so with a shared bathroom) for £365.  I think that is a bargain! Included in that price is breakfast, three-course meals and workshops and readings all week.  An en-suite room is £420 for the week.  The course is running from the 20th-25th February 2017.  If you’d like to grab one of those last few places, you can book by ringing the hotel on 01736 796240.  Or if you’d like more information about the theme for the week, you can have a look here.  If you’d like more information about the hotel, you can have a look at the Treloyhan Manor website.  The hotel is about a ten minute walk away from St Ives, and is perched on a cliff next to the sea.

In April, I’m running another residential course with Jennifer Copley as the co-tutor at Abbot Hall Hotel in Kents Bank (near Grange Over Sands).  This hotel is in a beautiful location as well, on the edge of Morecombe Bay, and there is a lovely walk along the prom to Grange, which people often do in the afternoon.  There is also a swimming pool at the hotel, which is good, as I wouldn’t advise swimming in Morecombe Bay because of the quicksand! The April course runs from the 10th-14th April and costs £448 for the week.

One thing I am looking forward to this week is a trip to Manchester to go to my friend Keith Hutson’s book launch.  He’s reading with Helen Mort, Carole Bromley and Mark Pajak, so that will be a great night! The reading is taking place at Waterstones on Deansgate.  More information here

This week’s Sunday Poem is by Alison Brackenbury – a great poet whose ninth collection Skies has just been published by Carcanet.  I managed to get hold of a copy of Alison’s book when I was down at Swindon Poetry Festival recently and I’ve really enjoyed it.  The poetry in the book is beautifully crafted and many of the poems, if not most, have intricate rhyme schemes which both draw out meaning, and hold the poems together.

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The poem explores the unexpected arrival of a letter from an ‘old lover’ (quoted from the back of the collection).  It’s unexpected, but I wouldn’t say, unwelcome.  Let’s be honest here, there are some ex-partners you really don’t want to get a letter from after thirty years, but this poem is a tender exploration of the past, full of acceptance, not bitterness.

Alison’s poems, all the way through the book are full of strong images.  She has a number of short, four-line poems, which are really imagistic, and kudos to Carcanet for giving them a full page and the space they deserve.  There is even a two-line poem in the collection, which I can’t resist quoting to show you what I mean, about her talent with this imagistic writing.  It’s called ‘November Began’

And the fieldfares blew
over the hedgetops, like grey leaves.

Isn’t that beautiful?

I think it takes confidence to pull something like that off. And in the poem I’ve chosen as the Sunday Poem ‘January 7th’ there are images that stay in your mind as well, because they are perfectly observed: ‘My cycle coat blows on the line’ and ‘The old cat paws the door’.

There is also mystery in this poem – we don’t know what happened to the child that the speaker cries for in the third stanza, and in the fourth stanza we read ‘But now my child is married/the ones who fought me, dead,’.  There are whole other stories behind these two lines that are dropped into the poem that left me wanting to know more.

And of course, there is something unbelievably sad in admitting that you will not a person again, a person that you shared history with.  This is a complicated poem.  This is a choice the speaker makes, to not see this person again, and yet the last line, with the image of the night turning to rain, is a great portrayal of sadness or regret without referring to the abstract words.

Alison Brackenbury was born in Lincolnshire but has lived in Gloucestershire for the last forty years.  She has won an Eric Gregory Award and a Cholmondeley Award.  Previous books include Then (published in 2013), Singing in the Dark (published in 2008) and you can find out more about her other 7 collections (7!) over at her website www.alisonbrackenbury.co.uk

If you’d like to order Alison’s book, you can buy it over at the Carcanet website.

Thanks to Alison for letting me use her poem this week! I’m spending this week choosing the next set of Sunday Poems – always a fun, if time-consuming job.

 

January 7th – Alison Brackenbury

There is a low glare in the sky
sweeps to a rainy night.
The planet’s wrong, the house unsold,
and, after thirty years, you write.

My cycle coat blows on the line.
The old cat paws at the door.
I tell you I am badger grey,
but wiser than before.

I do not tell you that I cried
since it was not for you
but for a child, since they break hearts
as no mere man can do.

But now my child is married,
the ones who fought me, dead,
and I am moved by your hands’ grace
besides my clumsy head

although I cannot see you
and will not again.
My yellow coat flies like a flag.
The long night turns to rain.

Sunday Poem – Keith Hutson

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Sunday Poem – Keith Hutson

I’ve had a rough day today.  I’ve spent most of it in bed with a horrible cold.  I’ve been ignoring this cold since Thursday but I succumbed today and spent the morning feeling very sorry for myself.  I didn’t get to do my usual Sunday run this morning, and I’d planned to go to Keswick to meet up with my cousin but I couldn’t drag myself out of bed.

I’m feeling a little bit better this afternoon.  I’m terrible at being ill – I’m impatient, and I get bored easily, and I feel guilty when I’m not doing something useful.  So spending a whole morning in bed was awful.

I’ve been in touch with Treloyhan Manor Hotel in St Ives and there are only 6 places left for the February 2017 Residential Poetry Course I’m running there with co-tutor David Tait.  Our guest poet who will be reading mid week is the fabulous poet Penelope Shuttle.  If you have been thinking about coming, I would suggest booking sooner rather than later – places will be limited to 16 and they seem to be selling quite fast.

Last weekend I was Poet in Residence at Swindon Poetry Festival which involved running two workshops, giving a poetry reading and then just generally hanging about and chatting to people (yes that really was in the job description!)  If you are looking for a small, friendly, slightly madcap poetry festival full of quirks, whacky ideas and things you probably won’t find at any other festival in the UK, then I would recommend Swindon.  It’s run by my friend Hilda Sheehan who is a brilliant poet herself, and whose enthusiasm and humour gives the whole weekend a unique and wonderful feel.

On the Friday night of the festival, I was released from my Poet in Residence duties as I had a reading at Winchester Poetry Festival.  I was reading with Ian Duhig and Sophie Hannah.  I loved reading with these two poets – I’ve read with Ian before, and he is one of those rare poets who actually has ‘Greatest Hits’ poems – like his ‘From the Irish’ poem – it doesn’t seem to matter how many times I hear it, I still enjoy it.  It was great to hear him read from his brand new collection of course, as well.

And Sophie Hannah – I bought one of her Carcanet collections when I was first starting to write poetry.  She has a wonderful and funny way of looking at the world – one of my favourite poems of hers that she read was about ‘people who flounce off’ – her premise being that there are people that flounce off, and people that don’t, and she is one of the people that don’t flounce off.  And where, she asked do the people who flounce off go to?

I went to a fascinating Close Reading by Frances Leviston on a John Berryman poem and a brilliant talk by Sinead Morrisey about researching her grandfather’s life as a Communist in Belfast.   I was also really pleased to meet up with a poet who I first met on a residential poetry course that I ran in St Ives.  We went to a stall and got some thai food and sat on a bench in the town centre to eat our food before going to the reading.  This was a new experience for me as I usually like to sit in a cafe and drink endless cups of tea whilst eating, but I quite enjoyed it and it meant we got to the reading in time.

I got up nearly every morning at 7am when I was in Swindon and went for a 5k run around Coate Water Park.  There is a lovely old diving board in the middle of the lake which I’m told nobody uses anymore and a path right round the lake which was perfect for running.  I don’t really like running on my own though and it was a relief to get back this week to going out for a run with my usual group of friends.

One of the highlights of Swindon Poetry Festival for me was seeing a few close friends perform.  I saw Roy Marshall read from his new collection, and was really impressed, both with the poems and his delivery, and then my friend Keith Hutson did a fantastic hour long show using material from his new pamphlet Troupers, published by Poetry Salzburg.

I must admit to being slightly worried about Keith when I heard he would be reading for an hour, but he was fantastic.  He managed to hold the attention of the audience, and it was a really entertaining hour.  The pamphlet is a sequence of thirty one sonnets celebrating famous Music Hall and Variety performers. As Keith was reading the sonnets out, there were lots of appreciative oohs from the audience who were old enough to remember the performers he was talking about (sadly, I am way too young to know any of them BUT I still enjoyed it!)

I asked Keith if I could post up the first sonnet here this weekend which he kindly agreed to.  I think this is a lovely poem, and the way Keith handles the rhymes, using half rhymes, and slant rhymes is great.  This poem is funny – look at that line ‘Some critics called it/nothing but self injury with rhythm’ and the mention of the character called ‘Tom Platt and his Talking Pond’ is great – what on earth was the Talking Pond and how did he get it on stage? We’ll never know – well not unless you ask Keith, who probably does know.

My favourite bit about the poem though is at the end, with the mention of running, not just running but running ‘on joy alone’.  When I read that, I thought, yes, I’ve done that, I’ve ran on joy alone.  In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, I was 8 miles into a hard, tough, hilly 12 mile run, and I got to the top of a hill and the view made me spread my arms wide as I ran down the hill, and it felt like I could take off, even though I was exhausted,that was joy.

So, below, you will find this joyful poem, by my mate Keith Hutson, whose enthusiasm when he is performing is infectious.  Keith used to write for Coronation Street and his poetry has been widely published in journals such as The North, The Rialto, Stand, Magma, Agenda and Poetry Salzburg Review.  He delivers poetry and performance workshops for The Prince’s Trust and The Square Chapel Centre for the Arts.

Keith will be appearing as the guest poet for A Poem and a Pint on the 19th November 2016 at The Laurel and Hardy Museum.   I hope you enjoy the poem!

Juvenile – Keith Hutson
i.m. Georgie Doonan 1897-1973

In time to a drumbeat, Georgie Doonan
kicked his own backside.  Some critics called it
nothing but self-injury with rhythm.
A newspaper dismissed the act as fit
only for idiots with no command 
over their sense of wonder, and went on
to call for Tom Platt and His Talking Pond,
no less, to come back, all is forgiven!

So why, when Georgie booted his behind,
did those who knew no better split their sides?
He must have made an impact deeper down.
And I know I’d have laughed, which won’t surprise
you if you’ve ever run on joy alone,
heels bouncing bum-high; if that’s what you’ve known.

Sunday Poem – Chrissy Williams

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Evening folks.  I am so excited about my Sunday Poem this week that I can hardly bear to tell you any other news – then again, I haven’t got that much so that is ok!

On Friday I read at the Brewery Arts Centre with Gill Nicholson and Mark Carson – two lovely poet friends, who I realised as I got up to do my set, were at the first writing group I ever went to, so have the dubious honour of being some of the first people to ever see one of my poems.  So this is all their fault, I think! Anyway, they were lovely and encouraging to me, so it was wonderful to read alongside them on Friday.

Pauline Yarwood, another lovely poet-friend was the MC for the night, and she did a great job – her introductions were warm and generous and full of enthusiasm for poetry, real enthusiasm, which as we all know is contagious and is what we need more of in the world.

I read some new poems and broke out from my usual set that I do from the pamphlet, which was both scary and liberating.  Reading from the pamphlet is like putting on a pair of comfy shoes – I do the same poems in the same order – but Friday’s reading made me realise that it is ok to shake it up a little bit!

I have had a great week for selling books – I sold six on Thursday in Carlisle and the bookshop took five to sell, which I am very grateful for as it is hard to get my poor spineless pamphlets onto a shelf, and I sold six on Friday in Kendal and then two through my lovely paypal button on this blog this week which takes my grand total to 406 copies sold!  Da da!  I’ll let you all know again when/if I get to 500…..

But! Off this unimportant stuff – and lets face it – it is not that important really – not compared to finding a poem that makes you wish you had written it – that makes you read and re-read it to get to the heart of it, and then realise you won’t get to the heart of it, and that’s kind of the point…and I have such a poem as my Sunday poem this week!

When I was shortlisted for the Michael Marks a week or so ago, it jolted me into ordering some pamphlets that I’ve been meaning to order for ages.  One of the other shortlisted poets was Chrissy Williams with her Happenstance pamphlet ‘Flying into the Bear’.  I read the first poem, and became a bit besotted with it.  Maybe it is because that bears slip in and out of Chrissy’s poems in the same way wolves lurk at the edges of mine – but it also has something to do with the beautiful language and the inner logic of the poem that holds it together against the more rational logic of the outside world.

I feel I’m gushing too much, so I’m going to stop as I will be meeting Chrissy soon at the Michael Marks Awards and I don’t want her to think she has a crazy stalker – but you should really order the pamphlet – it’s exciting stuff.  Some of it is bonkers – in a good way.  There are a few bear poems – there are a few strangely shaped poems – this is not a pamphlet which will bore you – you will be entertained from cover to cover, I promise.  An extra bonus – there is also a comic to go with this poem here: http://chrissywilliams.blogspot.co.uk/p/poems.html

Chrissy Williams lives in London and works at the Poetry Library and is half-Italian.  She is also joint organiser of the annual Free Verse Poetry Book Fair and has been published in various poetry magazines and anthologies.  You can order ‘Flying with the Bear at http://www.happenstancepress.com

I hope you enjoy – let me know what you think!

The Bear of the Artist – Chrissy Williams

I asked the artist to draw me a heart and instead he drew a bear.

I asked him, ‘What kind of heart is this?’ and he said, ‘It’s not

a heart at all.’

I asked him, ‘What kind of bear is this?’ and he said, ‘It’s not

a bear either.’

I asked him, ‘What kind of artist are you anyway?’ and he said,

‘I am the one who exists to put bears in your head, who exists

to put ideas in your head in place of bears, who mistrusts anyone

who tells you they know what kind of place the heart is,

the head, how it should look, what size, what stopping distance,

and as long as you keep me existing to put bears in your head

I will, because nights are getting shorter, and we’re all tired,

we’re all so tired, and everyone could use a bear sometimes,

everyone could use a wild bear, though they can be dangerous

and there’s nothing worse than a bear in the face, when it breaks

—always—remember how your bear breaks down

against the shore, the shore, the shore.’

 

 

 

Reading poetry, pyjamas, April Poets and collection thoughts

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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.

Strange search terms and last minute readings

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It’s half term week this week, and I’ve been lounging around for a lot of it.  On Monday, I spent the day editing the Holland Haul Anthology, which is the anthology that comes from the course I went on with Second Light.  Each course member can contribute a poem to the anthology.  On Tuesday, I started to plan my first poetry workshop that I’m going to run in a school – it’s on the theme of Riddles, and I’m really starting to look forward to it, especially now I’ve got a basic outline in my head of what I’m doing. 

  I’ve now read 83% of John Burnside’s ‘A Lie About My Father’.  At the very beginning of the book, he talks about Halloween being a time that ghosts find their way home – and today, as I was walking the dogs round Millwood in the rain, it was easy to see how he could believe that.  The path was carpeted with leaves, and it was just starting to become dark – the type of dark that it feels like it’s trying to fool you, and arrive without you noticing.  There was nobody in the woods today – maybe they were all getting their halloween costumes on, or sensibly didn’t want to get wet – and there were these crows or rooks going crazy in the trees across the railway line.  They would fly around in a circle and then land in the trees again, and then take off, shouting and swearing at each other.

I love the way Burnside writes, but the last part of the book is taken up with talking about his drug and alcohol taking, and I’m starting to feel my attention wandering, but then he brings it back with something interesting.  For example, at the minute he is talking about how long it takes a person to fall, and how if you find someone who is ‘falling’ at the same time as you, you get on well.  He also talks about this ‘other’ who he feels has walked next to him all his life – and this idea really opens up his poetry to me – his poetry is full of a strange ‘other’. 

Bookings for the Abbot Hall Residential Course are going well – we’ve already got the minimum number of participants, which is a relief as that means the course will definately go ahead – so if you are interested, please get in touch. 

I also got an invitation today to read at a ‘Young Writer’s Festival’ at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield tomorrow night so I’m really looking forward to that.  If you would like more information the link is http://www.nawe.co.uk/DB/events/off-the-shelf-young-writers-festival-day.html

Friday night I’ll be at the Brewery Poets reading at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, introducing Patricia Pogson and Carole Coates – really looking forward to that event.

And then its all day rehearsal Saturday and Sunday at Phantom of the Opera at The Lakes school.  We had a rehearsal last weekend and I really enjoyed it.  My twin sister is playing French Horn and we haven’t played together for ages.  It reminded me that I do love playing. 

And next Tuesday, I’m really looking forward to because it’s Carola Luther’s launch of her new pamphlet ‘Herd’ at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere.

And finally, strange search term of the day that brought some poor lost soul to my blog ‘where do you get dismantled bits of rocking horses’.  Hope whoever it was found a bit of horse somewhere.

The Sunday Poem – Mike Barlow

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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.

Let the holidays begin!

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The start of the Easter holidays.  I have deliberately planned absolutely nothing this holiday.  This is mostly due to being ill in the last two weeks of term, and then not really recovering in that last week of term, due to the usual madness and chaos of the last week. 

The hubby went away to Scotland on Friday for five days of walking and sleeping in a tiny tent at the top of a mountain with his friend, which leaves me with the house to myself for the first time in absolutely ages.  So far, I’m quite enjoying it! 

On Saturday, I went to The Beach Hut gallery at Kents Bank, Grange over Sands with the wonderful poet Jennifer Copley www.jennifercopley.org.uk , to organise running a workshop at the gallery.  Her husband, Martin Copley exhibits his sculptures there.   It is a very small gallery, I think we should be able to get ten people plus the two of us around the table, but they have some really lovely things there and Ithink it’s definately worth a look for a birthday or christmas present shopping spree.  The workshop will be 15 pounds per person and will run from 2.00pm till 4.30pm on National Poetry Day which is Thursday 4th October.  Which is also my birthday!  If anyone reading this would like to book a place, please get in touch via the contact page. 

In the evening, we are going to have a poetry reading at Abbotshall Hotel in Grange Over Sands, which is just down the road from the gallery.  It will be four pounds to get in, unless you’ve been to the workshop, in which case you can come in for free, and we hope, will read something that you’ve written in the workshop that day in an open mic slot. 

Jenny and I will be reading for 15-20 minutes each, and the rest of the time will be open mic slots. 

I’m really looking forward to the workshop – the gallery is perched next to the train station, right next to the sea, so there are stunning views, as well as lots of quirky art work which I’m hoping will prove to be an inspiration. 

If you are interested, please get in touch!