Friday, 22 December 2017

Christmas Greetings

(My thanks to David for posing)

...And if you do, this next photo shows the scene that awaits you on the inside of Tranmer House (at Sutton Hoo)...

Mouse inside Tranmer House, home of Mrs Pretty on the Sutton Hoo estate.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...'
Clement Clarke Moore 

You might like to click here to see the sheep Tranmer House

Snow, Suffolk, December 2017

Monday, 6 November 2017

Poetry in Aldeburgh, 2017... and 'Herrings', the Festival Anthology

'I hear those voices that will not be drowned...' (from 'Peter Grimes', Britten) on The Scallop (Hambling)

Poetry in Aldeburgh took place this last weekend, with The Poetry School as the festival's headline partner. There were poetry workshops on the Friday afternoon, followed over the weekend by readings, presentations and collaborations of various kinds. There were walks along the beach, gatherings of friends, books to buy, swarming gulls and, of course, the essential whiff of fish and chips along the Crag Path.

A year ago I was sitting in the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout during the previous festival, enjoying Anne-Marie Fyfe's excellent workshop about the sea, when she told us that there would be a Poetry in Aldeburgh anthology called Herrings, and that we could submit our festival poems.

Fast forward twelve months, and Herrings has not only taken shape as an ocean-blue hardback, thanks to Nancy Warburg Astor and Andrew Hewish, but has now been launched. It has been produced and published by Blue Door Press; and contains 100+ poems, each written by a different poet as a snapshot, not only of Aldeburgh in 2016, but also of the festival itself. 

Internationally renowned and novice poets alike are represented in the volume. It is lovely to have my poem, 'Treasure Hulk', in such diverse company; and thanks are due to all those who created the book and organised the festival. The contributions to Herrings reflect festival visits to, and visions of, this seaside town that owes so much not only to the ocean and its bounty, but also to the influences of artists of various kinds such as Crabbe, Britten, Pears and Hambling.

My haul, Poetry in Aldeburgh, 2017

Herrings, the anthology

The Aldeburgh Beach Lookout

Dusk descends

Looking north



Essential sustenance...

Monday, 30 October 2017

Winning Poem in Disability Arts Cymru 2016 iBook

More than just... 'A Drop in the Ocean'

The staff at Disability Arts Cymru have produced an iBook of poems that rose to the top in their 2016 competition. Many of us selected a piece of artwork from the organisation's art contest as inspiration, though we were also offered the theme of austerity/extravagance.

My poem, 'A Drop in the Ocean', which was awarded First Prize, was inspired by 'Shoreline Symphonies' by Eileen Harrisson. You will see Eileen's picture if you download the pdf.

Friday, 13 October 2017

'Penwith Finger Stone' and the Milestones-WriteOutLoud Poetry Competition Anthology

Milestones: the Poetry Anthology

Thanks are due to Steve Pottinger who read my poem, 'Penwith Finger Stone', on my behalf at the prize-giving event in Long Compton on 7 October 2017 (see Greg Freeman's report here). I was sorry not to be there, but I am delighted with the competition anthology which arrived today.

My poem took Third Place in the Milestones Competition (adult section), run by Write Out Loud on behalf of the Milestone Society and judged by Brian Patten (whose anthology, 'The Mersey Sound', co-authored with Roger McGough and Adrian Henri has just marked its 50th anniversary). 

Greg writes that 'the poetry competition was part of a Milestone Society project called Finding The Way', an enterprise concerned with the route of the 1730 Stratford to Long Compton Turnpike. 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

¡Cornucopia! ... The Alde Valley Festival, with Workshop and Readings by Rebecca Goss

A group of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex poets were treated to a workshop and readings by Rebecca Goss this afternoon on the subject of 'making' and 'making with words'.

Rebecca laid out a selection of items on the table, and it was fascinating to hear the fledgling poems at the end because, despite a shared starting point, the new pieces had all found fresh paths or creative processes of their own.

Members of Suffolk Poetry Society were also invited to read short sets on the 'making' theme: here is David (Gill) sharing his poem about my ancestor, a Scottish stone mason from the Cairngorms.

The afternoon included mugs of tea and generous slices of chocolate cake, and we enjoyed visiting the tile-maker, the felt-maker, the stained-glass artist and other 'crafty' practitioners, who were on site as part of the ¡Cornucopia! Alde Valley Festival.

My thanks to all who made this such a rewarding and enjoyable day.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

National Poetry Day, 2017

Wishing everyone 
an inspirational 
National Poetry Day 2017...

The photo above shows members of Suffolk Poetry Society and friends at the Lookout on the beach at Aldeburgh a year ago on National Poetry Day 2016. I wonder how many poems were declaimed from those steps...

Thanks to the generosity of Caroline Wiseman, members of Suffolk Poetry Society will once again be sharing their pieces as I type. The theme this year is 'freedom' and the weather here is set fair. I can't be there this year, but others will be gathering on the foreshore, enjoying the words, the fun, the sea, the fresh air and, of course, the fish and chips... There is always next year. 

If, like me, you enjoy poetry from Aldeburgh, you might be interested in this beautiful book, called  Lookout: Poetry from Aldeburgh Beach, edited by Tamar Yoseloff and produced by Lookout Editions (ISBN 978 0 9956250 0 6). I bought a copy at Snape Maltings a few days ago, and have been lulled and rocked by its waves. The photography is bold, beautiful and in keeping with the collection.

Happy Poetry Day to all!

Here are a few links...

Friday, 22 September 2017

From India to the Fens: Poetry, Prose... and Cuckoos

Lantern Tower, Ely Cathedral, UK
The latest annual edition of Metverse Muse, edited by Dr. H. Tulsi, has just arrived from India. It contains a small selection of my poems, including one about a Cornish mining valley and one set in the very different landscape of the Fens. 

Ship of the Fens rising from the Isle of Ely

I am currently reading a splendid book about the Cuckoos who breed on Wicken Fen. Years ago we lived in a village poised between the edge of Cambridge (on the one hand) and the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens (on the other). Wicken Fen, in the care of the National Trust, was always a favourite haunt, and indeed remains one of our top destinations for a day out, despite the fact we have a bit further to travel these days.

Cuckoo by Nick Davies (Bloomsbury) bears the subtitle 'Cheating by Nature'. It is, in effect, a fascinating detective story, revealing how the Common Cuckoos at Wicken Fen 'cheat' on their Reed Warbler hosts, ensuring that the Cuckoo egg is given the best chance of survival. Nick Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Cambridge, and what I particularly appreciate about the book is the clarity with which Davies writes, enabling those of us without backgrounds in science to journey with him in his discoveries. His enthusiasm is infectious, and although I knew little about Cuckoos at the outset, my eyes are steadily being opened to their strange place in our ecosystem. This is an exquisite book of lucid and compelling prose. The field drawings by James McCallum are a delight.