Today I’ve been to Blackpool to run a 10k race, my first race since Coniston 14 in March when I picked up an IT band injury, and my first 10k since October 2016 when I ran the Lancaster 10k, got a PB and was then rushed into hospital two days later because of a gall bladder attack.
Until last year, I’d never been in hospital before, and the worst illness I’ve had was probably tonsilitis, so to say I found it hard to be stuck in hospital, and then stuck at home and unable to walk far is an understatement. Getting back to my first competitive 10k feels like finally putting that awful period of time behind me.
I managed to beat my previous PB of 45.02 and this time ran 44.41 which I was really chuffed about but have now already started thinking about whether I could get closer to 43 at the next 10k. I was also third lady back which I was probably even more happy about, as I’ve never been in the top 3 before.
The most satisfying part of the race was charging straight through a long and rather deep puddle and drenching the two poor men who were picking their way carefully around the side of it. But to be honest it was pretty tough and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it at the time, although now I feel pretty happy.
I’ve also been to Durham Book Festival to read as part of an event called Rich Seams, hosted by Andrew McMillan. This was a lovely event to be part of – I read with Degna Stone, Kim Moore, Malika Booker, Mark Pajak, Polly Atkin, Pippa Little, Ruby Robinson, Zaffar Kunial, Vidyan Ravinthiran and Seán Hewitt. I’d left my car in Brough, parked on the street and then car-shared with Polly Atkin from there to Durham. When we got back to Brough an angry resident came and shouted at me for leaving my car there, as apparently it was ‘private parking’. There were no private parking notices that I could see, so I conclude she was one of those lucky people who have nothing else to complain about other than people parking outside her house. The end of the exchange finished with the woman of Brough saying ‘Where do you come from…a town?’ as if this was the worst insult she could possibly think of. So that was a bit of an annoying end to what was otherwise a really lovely day.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing quite a few readings and workshops – I’ve performed in Manchester at Bad Language, in Settle where I judged the poetry competition and then read with the incomparable Carola Luther, at Ilkley Literature Festival to launch the ‘One for the Road’ anthology alongside Peter Sansom and Stuart Maconie, Buzzwords in Cheltenham and at Borderlines Book Festival in Carlisle.
In between the readings and various workshops I’ve been working on my PhD of course. I think I’ve got about half of the poems for the second collection so far which will make up the creative part of the PhD, and thanks to the kindness of Angela France, who sent me her completed PhD to have a read through, I feel like I’ve got more of a sense of what the whole thing will look like. Thank goodness for the community of poets, who have saved, encouraged and inspired me more times than I can name.
On Monday I have a meeting with both of my supervisors (eek) and then the rest of the week, I’ll be getting on with PhD stuff, and soldiering on with funding applications for Kendal Poetry Festival.
Today’s Sunday Poem is by Rachael Clyne, who has been patiently waiting for quite a while for her poem to be posted here. I read this poem after Rachael posted it on Facebook and loved it – it was then spotted by the brilliant Charles Johnson and published in Obsessed With Pipework in August.
It’s a short and pithy poem, full of wisdom which is worn lightly. I love the title and the message behind it, which seems to me both simple and complex to understand. I like the directness of the poem which starts right from that first line with ‘so you – yes you’. The idea of accepting the self is one that is easy to articulate and hard to do. I like how the poem uses and plays around with well-known phrases and ideas. In line 2 we think of the phrase ‘warts and all’ but Rachael gives this a more positive and unusual spin with ‘warts and wings’. The choice of the verb ‘using’ in line 9 struck me as unusual as well – not drinking, or swallowing or taking, but using, which gives us both the connotations of drinking something but also connotations of drug-taking, but also the idea of using something that is unhealthy in a tool-like manner. I also love the last line – without it, I think the poem would have been lesser, less humane. With it, it carries a real warmth and empathy for the human condition.
I met Rachael at Swindon Poetry Festival a couple of years ago and then she was a participant at the residential I ran last year at St Ives. She is a psychotherapist and poet from Glastonbury. Her collection Singing at the Bone Tree, is published by Indigo Dreams. Her work appears in various magazines, currently Tears in the Fence, Lighthouse, Shearsman. Her book Breaking the Spell – Keys to Recovering Self-esteem is available on amazon.
Thanks to Rachael for letting me post this poem.
You Will Never Be Anyone Else – Rachael Clyne
so you – yes you,
with your warts and wings
will just have to do.
Acceptance is your food
and shelter without which
you are brushwood
for any foul wind
that cares to blow.
Stop using the poison
bottle labelled ‘Drink me’
it’s not OK.
It’s that simple.
I didn’t say easy.