Tag Archives: st ives

Residential Poetry Course, St Ives

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I’m really excited to announce that I’ll be running my annual Residential Poetry Course down in St Ives in 2018 with the fabulous Helen Mort as my co-tutor.  The course will be running from 9th-14th April 2018, and I’ll be posting up details of the theme that we’ll be exploring during the week very soon, along with details of our guest poet, so watch this space.  I’ve also just spoken to the hotel and they’ve already sold a quarter of the places, so if you would like to come, please contact the hotel (details below).  If you’d like more details about the week, just get in touch.

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The Unsaid: Poetry and breathing space
9th-14th April 2018

Tutors: Kim Moore and Helen Mort 
Treloyhan Manor Hotel, Carbis Bay, Saint Ives TR26 2AL
£470
Includes breakfast, three course evening meals, accommodation, workshops and tutorials.
Please contact the hotel to book 01736 796240

What can poems say indirectly? What does the writer choose to leave out and why? Can silence be loud? How do successful poems use blank space? How do poets use repetition, interruption or distraction ? On this course, we’ll look at (and challenge) the power of ‘the unsaid’ in writing.  There will be plenty of workshops and time to write your own poems, as well as opportunities for feedback on your work from the group, and a one-to-one tutorial with one of the tutors.  There will also be readings from the tutors and a guest poet will perform mid-week.  The course fee includes workshops, accommodation, breakfast, three course evening meals and a cream tea each day.

Course Timetable
Monday
4pm-6pm Workshop      Kim/Helen
6.30 Evening Meal
8.30 (approx.) Poetry Reading.  Bring a favourite poem by somebody else to share with the group

Tuesday
10-1
Workshop – Kim
Free afternoon
6.30pm Evening Meal
8.30pm Poetry Reading by the tutors

Wednesday
10-1 Workshop – Helen
Free afternoon – options for tutorials with one tutor
6.30pm –
Evening Meal
8.30pm –
Poetry Reading with Guest Poet

Thursday
10-1 –
Workshop – Kim/Helen
Free afternoon –
options for tutorials with one tutor
5-6– Critiquing poems in groups of four
6.30pm – Evening Meal
8.30pm – Workshop –Helen/Kim

Friday
10-1 – Critiquing Workshop –
Kim/Helen
Free afternoon
6.30pm –
Evening Meal
8.30pm –
Reading by Course Participants

Saturday
Breakfast and finish. 

 

Helen Mort has published two collections with Chatto & Windus, Division Street (2013) and No Map Could Show Them (2016). She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School (MMU) and a former Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust. She also writes short stories, drama and fiction. In 2014, she won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection.

Kim Moore’s first collection The Art of Falling was published by Seren in 2015.  A poem from this collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize.   Her first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves was a winner in the 2012 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition and went on to be shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award and named in The Independent as a Book of the Year.  She is one of five UK poets chosen to take part in Versopolis, a European funded project to bring the work of UK poets to an international audience. She is currently a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University.

 

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Sunday Poem – Penelope Shuttle

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Sunday Poem – Penelope Shuttle

 

 

Back to my bad habits of writing my blog late at night! My excuse today is that I’ve been in Lancaster running a 10k race.  I’m not even going to play it cool, pretending to drop this in casually as part of the usual run of the mill blog post…

I ran 45 minutes and 1 second for 10k!

My last ‘personal best’ time was 46 minutes and 17 seconds, about seven months ago, which is why I’m so chuffed.  I’ve been doing a bit more training though, in the last few months, so I knew I would beat my PB, but didn’t think for one second I would be at the 45 minute mark.  I was also 5th woman back, and I got the V35 prize (first time I’ve ever won a prize in a race!) and won the Ladies Team Prize along with my two friends, J and K

This race was called the ‘Jailbreak 10k’ and you signed up to do the race inside a cell in one of the prison wings.  The prison is now shut down of course, but I was actually quite freaked out by the cells.  They were very small and there was a toilet in the corner with a board at the side of it, presumably to give a bit of privacy, and that in itself was shocking – that this tiny space was for more than one person.  It was also really cold in there – and the prison wasn’t shut down that long ago! I couldn’t believe that people were kept in there, that people would have lived in there.  It definitely gave me goosebumps.  I thought the prisons I’d been into were pretty brutal, but they had nothing on the Lancaster Castle prison!

So two photos, and then I promise I will say no more about it.  The first is at the start – I did eventually get away from the unicorn.  (It was optional fancy dress for the race – only three people wore fancy dress – a Ghostbuster, a Witch and the Unicorn).  The second is at the end of the race, having just got to the top of the hill – so am in a bit of pain here, and pulling my famed ‘running face’.

 

This week has been relatively quiet apart from today! I decided I needed to get organised and make myself a timetable, to ensure I’m getting enough PhD work done.  So I did that on Monday, and did manage to make some progress.  I ordered 2 poetry collections by Marie Howe, who I’ve only just discovered.  I absolutely love her work, but this hasn’t helped with narrowing down the possibilities of poets to focus on.

I’ve also been carrying on reading Kate Millet’s ‘Sexual Politics’.  It’s a pretty big book.  I’m now over half way through though and still enjoying it.  The RD1 form is my next big hurdle, and my supervisor gave me an example one to look at.  So I’ve read that through and had a go at writing the first part of mine, just to see how it went.

I’ve also been reworking a review from last week after some feedback, and on Saturday night I had a gig with the Soul Survivors in Ulverston.  I guess it doesn’t sound that quiet now I look at it, but there hasn’t been as much rushing about as there usually is.

I’ve got a few dates coming up of readings and workshops – on Thursday I’m reading at Brantwood with Geraldine Green and Kerry Darbishire.  There is also an Open Mic – tickets are £12 and include food.

On the 4th November, the Brewery Poets are putting a reading on at The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal.  I’m the MC, and guest poets will be Pauline Yarwood, Jennifer Copley and Ian Seed.  These nights usually sell out, so if you’d like to come, book a ticket quickly!

I’m also running my Dove Cottage Young Poets group on the 4th November, and am recruiting for new members! If you know any young people (from the age of 14 to 25) who would like to come to a free fortnightly writing group, please get in touch.  We have lots of fun, and the young poets get lots of opportunities throughout the year to perform (if they want to) and to work towards Arts Awards.

And lastly for now, on the 12th November, I’m running an all day workshop for Lancaster Spotlight.  You can find details here, but to book a place, just email spotlightclub@btinternet.com

Today’s Sunday Poem is by the wonderful Penelope Shuttle. I’ve always loved Penelope’s work, right from when I first started writing eight years ago. Penny has featured on this blog before – you can read that post here.

As you will see from this previous blog post, Penny is one of my favourite contemporary poets, so I’m quite excited that she has sent me a poem from her forthcoming collection with Bloodaxe to put up on the blog this week.  I’m even more excited that Penny has agreed to be the guest poet for the Residential Course that I’m running in St Ives next year with co-tutor David Tait.  Penny will be coming to the hotel to have dinner with the course participants, and then she will be reading from her work on the Wednesday night of the course.  There are only four places left on this course, so if you’d like to book, please get in touch with Treloyhan Manor Hotel on 01736 796240.

In 2015 Penelope published (with John Greening) their exploration in poetry  of many aspects of Heathrow airport and Hounslow Heath upon which the airport now stands:  Heath (Nine Arches). She also published a pamphlet titled Four Portions of Everything on the Menu for M’sieur Monet! (Indigo Dreams Publications). Penelope has given many readings of her work, and has been a tutor for many organisations.  She is currently a mentor for The Poetry School.

This poem comes from Penny’s forthcoming collection Will You Walk A Little Faster? which will be published by Bloodaxe in May 2017.  It was originally published in The Manhattan Review.

I love the idea of this poem – to be able to talk to your Life, to make your Life a person, rather than a collection of events.  I love that the poem seems to start mid-conversation with Life.  There’s something unbearably sad about this poem – of course, Life is addressed and personified as a seperate thing, but the whole time, we know that Life is also the speaker.

The language that is used seems deceptively simple, but the poem is full of surprising turns of phrase: ‘I’m sad of myself’ and ‘days live me in vain’ and then at the end ‘the walls are spells’ and ‘the roof’s a star’.  Maybe just because I’ve been reading a lot of Emily Dickinson but the capitalization of Life and the short lines made me think of her.

The sounds throughout the poem – all those repeated ‘L’s’ string the whole poem together.  I also love the intermittent address to Life, that comes back throughout the poem, as if the speaker is turning to Life and making sure they are still listening.

The line breaks are very effective as well, particularly at the end with the line ‘I know you so well’ which then carries onto the next line to say ‘My Life, not at all’.  I was left trying to puzzle out whether Life is known or not, and maybe that’s part of the point. Until I read the poem more carefully, I thought the ending was a repeat of the beginning and then I thought it was a straightforward reversal of the beginning, which says to Life: ‘you know me too well’.  This statement is supported throughout the poem.  What is questioned is whether the Speaker knows Life as well as the Speaker thinks they do, and just writing that I realise that of course they don’t.  We can’t know our own Lives without distance, and time to reflect, and we can never do that while we are still living them.

I hope you enjoy the poem – and please keep a look out for Penny’s collection, coming out next year.  If you’d like to find out more about Penelope Shuttle, you can go to her website here.

 

 

My Life – Penelope Shuttle

My Life, I can’t fool you,
you know me too well,
I’m sad of myself,
days live me in vain,
you test me
but bin my answers,
you’re so busy, so tired,
evenings in the glass,
drink them, My Life,
but you won’t,
driving your bargains
of years gone by,
promising me
this and that till
the walls are spells,
the roof’s a star,
and
I seal the hour
in a tear,
a mortal tear,
I know you so well,
My Life, not at all

Sunday Poem – Tom Cleary

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I’m writing this feeling very delicate as I went out last night to a friends 50th birthday party.  Lady C, as she shall be called on this blog had no idea her husband had planned a surprise party and thought she was just popping round to the bar where the party was for a quick drink before being whisked away to enjoy a slap up meal at a restaurant.  As the room of about 150 odd people fell silent so we could all shout ‘Surprise!’ as she opened the door I did think how terrible it would be if Lady C fell over with the shock.  She is made of sterner stuff though and soon recovered.  It was lovely to see such a large amount of people turning out for Lady C’s birthday.  There was a great band on as well called The Sidecars who got everybody up dancing.  I only drank three bottles of lager but then I was up dancing all night and now I feel like I drank ten bottles.  Does anybody else get that?  When I used to go out drinking and dancing when I was younger, I used to get horrible hangovers but that was because I drank like an idiot.  It felt like a fair exchange – drink and stay out all night and pay for it afterwards.  Now however, I only drink a little bit and I still feel terrible in the morning.

I broke off from writing this blog to go for my Sunday run.  I normally go at 10am but everybody was at Lady C’s party last night as well so we decided to go at 12pm instead.  We went for a run along the beach but nobody had remembered to check the tide times which meant risking running over the stones and possibly breaking an ankle or going up and down the sand dunes.  I was all for risking broken bones but nobody else agreed so off we went, up and down the rather steep sand dunes.

 

This week has felt like the week I learnt to prioritise things.  I often make lists of jobs to do, but then I waft about from job to job on the list and then I have a panic because I’ve left something to the last minute.  This week I went through the list, helped by my trusty husband and put things in the order they needed to be done.

Hanging over my head this week is the dreaded tax return which isn’t helping things. When I look back over my spreadsheets that I’ve kept over the last few years I do feel quite proud.  2011-2012 I made a loss as a writer.  This was the first year I really started working as a poet.  2012-13 I managed to break even and 2013-14 I will be making my first ever profit – not enough to retire on, but enough to consider it a viable part-income, at least.

So Monday will be the day the tax return gets finished, even it kills me, even if I don’t see the light of day ALL DAY etc etc.  Not that I’m being dramatic about it or anything.

My first and most pressing deadline this week was to write out the first assignment for my Poetry School online course ‘What Work Is’.  I managed to get this finished on Thursday so that was one job ticked off the list.  The course doesn’t start till the 28th January, but the Poetry School are doing some work on the website and the assignment needed to go up this week.

My second job was to ring the lovely Clare Shaw to have a chat about a course that we are tutoring together at Ty Newydd in a couple of weeks time.  We will be spending a week with a group of girls from a school in Manchester.  I’m really looking forward to the week.  We did get slightly distracted from planning by catching up on various bits of gossip but never mind.   I haven’t been to Ty Newydd for a couple of years now, but it is a very special place to me.  I went on my first, life-changing residential poetry course there and then went and did a course every year for the next three or four years so the house and the area mean a lot to me.

Bookings for the St Ives Residential poetry course that I’m tutoring with Steve Ely are going really well.  We now have just two places left, if there is anybody who has been swithering about whether to go or not.  It will be a fantastic week in beautiful surroundings.  I’ve managed to book my train ticket to Crewe where I’ll be getting picked up by John Foggin and Steve Ely before we head down to St Ives.  I’m looking forward to this week as well – I went on family holidays to Cornwall every year when I was younger so again, I get the chance to feel all nostalgic when I’m there.

I am also doing my first bit of mentoring for the Poetry School tomorrow, which is really exciting.  In fact, after I’ve finished writing this blog, I’ll be reading through the poems I’ve been sent, ready for the skype chat with my mentee tomorrow.  If anybody is interested in a tutorial or extended mentoring with me, please get in touch with The Poetry School or contact me directly by email (you can find this on the Contact page)

This doesn’t sound like I’ve had that much to do actually – but it has definitely felt like it!  In between the above tasks I’ve been answering emails, gathering content for the website for Kendal Poetry Festival, inviting a set of poets to come and read for A Poem and a Pint in 2016.  One evening was spent sending emails out about St Ives to get the last few places filled.

So today’s Sunday Poem is by a lovely man called Tom Cleary.  I first met him when I did a reading in Hebden Bridge bookshop a couple of months ago. He bought my book and asked me to sign it, not mentioning that he also wrote poetry until I asked him and then he didn’t say anything about the fact that he’d had a pamphlet out in 2014.  I only found that out a month or so ago, when I was the guest poet at Puzzle Poets and Tom got up to read and read a few poems from his pamphlet.

I thought his poetry was really special on first hearing, but I didn’t manage to catch him to buy a copy as he whizzed off as soon as the reading finished to give someone a lift home.  I am nothing if not determined though, and the kindly Bob Horne agreed to pass on the money for a pamphlet and my address so that Tom could post it out to me.

Tom’s pamphlet is called The Third Miss Keane which strikes me as a promising title anyway and it does hint at what is to come in this pamphlet, which is a host of really good, and interesting stories.  The poems often feel slightly surreal, or fairy-tale like, but they always have their own inner logic.

Like Rose Cook, the poet I featured last week on the blog, I hadn’t heard of Tom Cleary before.  It just proves how many fantastic poets there are, writing brilliant poetry and not being noticed enough for the good stuff they are writing.  Or maybe it proves that I am losing touch with the poetry scene, and not keeping up…

 

Gobstoppers – Tom Cleary

On our way home from school
we bought boiled sweets in paper bags,
bright red gobstoppers highlighted with flecks of black,
gumballs, lemon drops, toffee slabs on a stick,
flavoured with aniseed, sherbet or mint.
We sucked and sucked until our mouths
glittered like lipstick.  Our tongues
burned with the sweet acid
and we stuck them out of our mouths
and fanned them with our hands.

We bought them in a grey shop
on the corner of nowhere, on waste ground,
in front of rows of cream and white pebble-dashed houses.
Behind the yellow of its misty window,
dead flies lay scattered and limp flags of cobwebs drifted.
A sickly young man in an advert behind a cracked frame
was scarved in drifts of smoke.

The owners were two elderly sisters, who could have been twins.
Their hair was scraped back in buns
with loose straggly wisps.  They stood awkwardly
like shy guests waiting to be introduced.
Their eyes reminded me of my aunt,
and I imagined them to be the lost wives of farmers,
abducted from their homes and carried away
over great distances, to spend their lives
exiled in this bare shop, selling sweets
to small boys for their hot pennies.

Behind the counter they were ill at ease,
standing at an odd angle to one another,
as if they’d been set there in place,
figures in an installation.  I sensed a yearning
in them, as though they’d never stopped wondering
what had become of the chickens that used to peck
at their ankles and their shoe laces.
When they handed us change
with a delicate bend of the wrist,
were they remembering the butter churn?

I think this poem is a good example of the work you can expect to find in the pamphlet. Throughout the pamphlet, and in this poem, ordinary circumstances become slightly surreal and strange.

It also gave me a lovely feeling of nostalgia – although we only bought sweets from the rather ordinary corner shop when I was young, which sat at the top of our road next to a chinese takeaway and a hairdressers, there was one long hot summer when my sister and I and our friends would put our money altogether and buy five or six paper bags of sweets and sit on the park, eating sweets all day, being bothered by wasps because the sweets were so sticky.  I remember watching the newsagent as he weighed out the sweets on a large silver scale and squeezing the bottom of the bag to check how much sugar had gathered.

Tom’s shop is a little more exciting though, and a little less hygenic than the one I remember from my childhood.  I love the detail of the shop window with its ‘dead flies lay scattered and limp flags of cobwebs drifted’ and of course the strangeness of the scene is set up before then.  The shop is ‘in the middle of nowhere.’  The portrait of the two elderly sisters who run the shop is also very cleverly drawn.  That detail of the way they stand ‘awkwardly/like shy guests waiting to be introduced’ gives you a picture of them straight away.  The best detail in this third verse though, is the ‘hot pennies’ at the end, again, as soon as you read that, you know exactly what he means.

The idea that they remind the speaker of the poem ‘of his aunt’ which he then goes on to develop saying he imagines them to be ‘the lost wives of farmers.’  He never implicitly says that his aunt was the lost wife of a farmer, but we are left to infer this.  It is such a strange idea, which he then develops brilliantly in the last stanza.  We are left not knowing if the aunt was the lost wife of a farmer, and she was full of ‘yearning’ or whether the two elderly sisters were or maybe nobody was, and it was all in the boys imagination.  I don’t mind not knowing though and I think this is what makes it a good poem – not only the brilliantly drawn details, but also the mystery we are left with.

In 2011 Tom won the Writers Forum/HappenStance Competition and in January 2014 he was featured poet in Orbis 166. I was interested to read that The WF/HappenStance prize was to have been the publication of a sampler. But there were too many good poems so HappenStance published a pamphlet instead: The Third Miss Keane which you can buy from the HappenStance website for the bargain price of only £4 plus postage.  In 2015, Tom was also a winner of the prestigious Northern Writers’ Award, one of six New North poets.  You can find out a little bit more about Tom on his profile page at the HappenStance website.

Hope you enjoyed the poem, and please do let me know what you think of it! I know if you wanted to order the pamphlet it would make a hard working publisher and a lovely poet very happy, which for just £4 seems like a Very Good Thing To Do.

Residential Poetry Course at St Ives – Change of Tutor

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Sadly, Clare Shaw is no longer able to tutor at St Ives in February 2016 due to other work commitments which include a new post as the Royal Literary Fellow at Huddersfield University.  Although I am sad not to be working with Clare at St Ives, we will be tutoring together in the future – so do watch this space!  I’m really excited to announce that the fantastic poet Steve Ely will be stepping in to fill Clare’s shoes.

Steve Ely’s work fits brilliantly with our theme of ‘Thrown Voices’ – his work is wide-ranging and he writes extensively using history and politics to inform his work.  His first book of poetry Oswald’s Book of Hours is published by Smokestack and was nominated for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry in 2015.  Englaland, his second collection was published in 2015 by Smokestack.  His novel Ratmen is published by Blackheath Books.  Ted Hughes’s South Yorkshire: Made in Mexborough, a biographical work about Hughes’s neglected Mexborough period will be published by Palgrave MacMillan in July 2015.

The course will be running from 15th – 20th February 2016 at Treloyhan Manor Hotel in St Ives.  The cost of the course will be £475 for a standard ensuite room.  This has increased a little bit from last year – this is to cover the extra night at the hotel, and tutors travel expenses, which I didn’t calculate in last time (doh).  I think it is still excellent value for money though – this fee covers all workshops, tutorials and readings, accommodation, breakfast and three course evening meal.

Below is a little bit more information about the theme of the week.  Please book directly through the hotel – places are limited and usually fill up fairly quickly.  If you have questions about the course – please get in touch with me directly via the contact page on the blog.

Residential Poetry Course
Tutors: Kim Moore and Steve Ely

Monday 15th February – Saturday 20th February 2016, Treloyhan Manor Hotel, St Ives, 01736 796240
£475

Thrown Voices
Come and join us in beautiful St Ives where we will explore what happens when we throw our voices into other stories, bodies and objects.  We will look at what it means to have a voice, and how poets have written about what happens when this voice is taken away.  Drawing on personal artefacts and stories, published poems and the rich surroundings of St Ives, we will discover what it feels like to write in a voice that is both yours, and not yours; and to tell a story that may – or may not be – your own.  This course is suitable for new writers as well as more experienced poets

https://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/residential-poetry-courses/thrown-voices-residential-poetry-course-st-ives/

I’m still alive….

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Evening all – I just wanted to let you all know (in case you are worried) that I am still alive but have been really busy the last few weeks which has caused a severe dereliction of duty in regards to this blog.  I’m writing this from St Ives on the first day of a poetry residential that I’m running with the wonderful poet Clare Shaw.  It feels strange writing this as I know some people who read this blog are actually on the course!

Anyway, normal service of Sunday poems will begin again from next weekend and I have a real backlog of fabulous poems and poets lined up which will probably keep me going until Christmas.

Last weekend was the last weekend of the Ilkley Literature Festival and I’ve already told you all how wonderful it was.  Last Thursday I ran two workshops, one in a secondary school in Bradford and one in a primary school in Ilkley.  Then I ran an hour long session looking at how you get from the first draft of a poem to the last draft of a poem .  I used examples of my own poems and an example of a poem kindly donated by the ever generous Ian Duhig which worked out really well, as from looking at Ian’s draft, it seems he expands outwards from his first draft, making more and more links between words and ideas, whereas I contract inwards – I like to think of my first draft as a huge lump of rock that I have to chip away at to get at the shape of the poem inside.  After this workshop it was a sprint to the next venue to introduce the fabulous John Hegley, who gave a brilliant performance.  John’s performance was a masterclass in comic timing and how to keep an audience in the palm of your hand.  I also really like how John engages with the audience – he doesn’t just present poetry passively and expect the audience to listen quietly.  My favourite moment was when he got the audience members who wear glass to tap their glasses with their finger nails at the same time in answer to his own spectacle tapping…

On Friday I ran another workshop in a primary school in Bradford and then I had my own poetry reading with Matthew Sweeney and Michael Laskey.  This reading was a real treat because the competition winners of the Ilkley Literature Festival Poetry Competition read their winning poems out and one of the winners was my lovely friend John Foggin who came second.

On Saturday I got up early and dragged Phoebe Power, the apprentice poet in residence to Skipton Park Run, having not done a park run for weeks.  We couldn’t find the park in Skipton and parked the car and legged it across the field just as the runners were all lining up at the start ready for the whistle to go.  My fancypants Garmin watch couldn’t find me in time which was very disappointing so I had no idea how fast I was going or how far I’d gone.  The only thing I did know was that 4 laps in the park at Skipton felt much worse than 2 and a half laps of Barrow park.  My time was a minute slower than my Barrow park run time which I was a bit disappointed with..

On Saturday afternoon I had one to one tutorials with various poets, which I really enjoyed. If I had to redo my time at the festival, I would definitely put myself down for another afternoon of tutorials.  It was really fascinating having the chance to sit down with people and talk about their work and the half hour went by so fast.   The people who came for the tutorials were all at very different stages as well and I found it really interesting working with them all.

So last Sunday was the last day of the festival and it was probably my busiest day.  At 9am on Sunday I lead a group of intrepid and possibly foolhardy runners on a 5k run up on to Ilkley Moor – we made it to the top and back down again without any mishaps and then we went straight into a workshop about writing about the body which produced some brilliant poems.

After the workshop I went back to the hotel, had a quick shower and then went straight to the Mushaira which was a gathering of poets reading in lots of different languages which was a wonderful thing to be a part of.  After that, I hung around and caught up with the lovely Rodolfo Barradas, who worked at the Festival and belongs to a small group of people who I meet and instantly feel a connection with, and as if I’ve known them forever.

In the evening I was judging the Open Mic competition alongside Phoebe and Rodolfo and I must admit, the prospect of 18 open mic slots was not filling me with delight, after the afternoon of open mic at the Mushaira (lovely as it was).  However, it was such good fun!  And each competitor got five minutes and at the end of their slot a big timer came up on the screen so nobody could go over.  A great poet called Mark Connors won first place and he was very chuffed.  Everyone was great though.  I wasn’t bored once which can’t often be said at an open mic session!

I stayed in Ilkley on Sunday night which was maybe a mistake, because driving back from Ilkley at 11pm would probably have been a lot better than driving back from Ilkley at 6am because of traffic, but I was so tired I knew I wouldn’t be able to face it, so I went back to the hotel instead and got up early to get back from work on Monday morning.

I was saying to someone only today that I really feel proud of myself for the last three weeks, which might seem big-headed to say so, but I don’t care, because I rarely feel like that.  I normally feel like I ‘should’ feel proud about something because people tell me I should, but I usually don’t.  But this time I do – I feel proud that I not only got through my first real life residency, but I got some lovely feedback from people I worked with during it.  I kept up all of my teaching commitments although it would be dishonest to say I did this without losing my rather frayed patience by the end.

The one slightly terrible thing that happened this weekend was that my lovely friend Maggie who was looking after my dogs fell and broke her ankle.  My normally placid and mild mannered terriers apparently barked and growled at the ambulance workers but eventually were persuaded to let them put Maggie in an ambulance.  So my lovely new neighbours, whose daughter happens to play in my junior band have been helping out by looking after Maggie and the dogs whilst I was away.

This week I’ve been planning for the residential and finishing off printing out the last bit of stuff for my workshops so it’s not exactly been a relaxing week.  On Friday I ran my Dove Cottage Young Poets group in Kendal and then went straight from there to Preston to read at The New Continental with Judy Brown.  It was lovely to see Judy again and hear some of her poetry but I did too much nattering at the end and left rather late, and then on Saturday I got the train down to London and read at the Poetry Society Cafe on Saturday night with Jo Bell and Hilda Sheehan and various other poets and had a lovely night.

On Sunday I got up late and only just managed to get my train from London to St Ives and having located Clare Shaw on the train slowly realised that I couldn’t find my tickets anywhere.  I went to confess to the train guard that I had in fact lost my tickets – but I did have the collection reference number in my filofax.  My opening gambit was ‘Hi, I’ve lost my tickets, but I’m not a criminal, look I have a filofax’ which went down suprisingly well and the guard said I wouldn’t have to pay and to just explain to the next guard that got on what had happened.

The next guard was not quite so easy to convince and I didn’t get away without a lecture but it could have been a lot, lot worse and I managed to get to St Ives without having to pay for another ticket.  Which brings us up to date!  So there will be no Sunday poem because for a start, it is now very early on Tuesday morning but I will get back to normal Sunday Poem service next week.