I’m taking time out this weekend to do something a little different. Cumbria Wildlife Trust is running a creative writing day this Saturday, 19th May, led by writer, novelist and WordPress blogger Ann Lingard.
The day is taking place at RSPB Campfield Marsh in north Cumbria, where England and Scotland face one another across the Solway estuary. Cumbria is usually thought of in landscape terms as a place of mountains and high moors, The Lake District, and the inspiration for the likes of Arthur Ransome, John Ruskin and William and Dorothy Wordsworth. But this part of the Solway coast is a very different prospect, a flat expanse of saltmarsh, mudflats and creeping tides, with its own special atmosphere and wildlife.
The purpose of the day is to spend time in this environment, being and observing, before translating these observations and impressions into words. Not only have I never visited this part of the world before, I’ve also never taken part in this kind of immersive creative writing event. I’m really looking forward to the experience, and to working with Ann, and meeting some other enthusiastic writers. And to seeing what I’m inspired to write by being in what sounds like an amazing place.
They say it doesn’t rain here much, often, but
when it does, canopies of merciless cloud snuff out
every last square of the sky, hanging about the fields
like a quarrel, forgotten without ever being resolved,
and empty themselves in angled swipes that paste
both barley and nettles to the red earth, bleeding into
the leather boots and loafers of commuters on trains,
who steam coolly in their seats all the way into Waverley.
first published in Southlight Magazine, 2017
I’m really pleased to have had two of my poems published in the latest issue of Otoliths, which is – as usual – full of intriguing things. You can check out “Living next door to a man who keeps pigeons” and “I want to kill your dog” here.
Many thanks to Otoliths editor Mark Young for choosing to include these two pieces.
At the beginning of this year I relocated to Cumbria, in the north-west of England, and have since joined the Brewery Poets, a long-established group which meets up once a month in Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre.
It’s great to be part of a writers’ group again – something I’ve done previously, but not for a long time (the last group I was part of – in Edinburgh – disintegrated quite a few years ago, and the wonderful pub it used to meet up in is no more). Writing is – in most instances – a solitary business, so it’s never a bad thing to abandon the cave of your own head every once in a while and let others see what you’ve been smearing on the walls. Feedback is always helpful. It’s a not-insignificant part of the reason I first came to WordPress, and I’m always grateful for the comments of other bloggers.
Brewery Poets are also behind the Kendal Poetry Festival, which is taking place for the third time this year, between the 6th-9th of September. Kendal is a great place to visit, right on the edge of the English Lake District. As well as an amazing backdrop for a festival, there’s a fantastic line-up and schedule of events in place, including readings from members of the Brewery Poets themselves.
An apology to Andrew Ford
As things stand, he is the bole of this unsteady tree,
the backmost reaching into the frail chain of records,
through the sporadic diggings of our research, and
I picture him taking the days of journey north from Devon,
by the old Roman road, possibly driving one of the carts
or wains he’d made, loaded with what could not be left,
bound for a place he’d only heard of, yet believed held
all the answers. This place, that kicked the light out of me
from the moment I could stand. Then every moment after.
The one I couldn’t wait to flee. Now the insistent hands of
autumn tear at the leaves, and the bough is close to breaking,
I have no way to tell him what I’ve failed to do, how sorry I am.
first published in Forage, 2017
Sometimes it’s as though we’re cradling it,
nurturing it gently, nomads with a flame,
carrying it with us, between us, wherever we go.
How carefully we feed it when necessary:
a dry fist of kindling to make the sore,
red embers burst back into life again;
a brooding log to see us through the night;
the quick volleys of our breathing, spat as words,
the oxygen it would perish without.
first published in Shot Glass Journal, issue #22, 2017
When things were good and I still believed in us,
even the mundane obligations sang like whales,
and taking the wiry road down the hamstrings
of the island to its full-stop, on those bastard mornings,
a single cassette on the stereo to numb the losses,
always made unquestioned sense. Sometimes in
light hushed with pearls, sometimes with the blade
of the wind knifing clear to the marrow, I’d time each
arrival against the tide, sifting it for treasure, perform
the errands, light the fires. Then return to you, the road
now huddled into a spool of knees and elbows, the
mountain a tight wedge tripping over its own steps before
falling like a tantrum into the kettle-grey ocean below.
first published in San Pedro River Review, Spring 2017
I’m pleased to report that one of my poems, “Streetview”, has been included in the latest issue of the rather magnificent Ghost City Review.
I’m very grateful to editor Justin Karcher for choosing to find a home for my poem amongst lots of fine pieces of writing.
I’m very pleased to have had one of my poems published in The Magnolia Review. My thanks to editor Suzanna Anderson for choosing the poem, and for putting together such a great collection of art, poetry and prose – the largest issue of TMR to date.
You can read the whole issue here, and will find “Little Grey Cloud” hogging the horizon about a fifth of the way in.
There’s a week left until voting closes for February’s Pick of the Month at Ink, Sweat and Tears, and one of the contenders happens to be my poem “Lobster Tail”. You can read all the poems in the shortlist (and they are all very fine) and cast a vote for your favourite by clicking here and then following the link.
There’s a chill in the air so maybe now’s the time to indulge in the finer things in life. Roll out some ‘Gingham’, add a display of ‘Drunken Roses’, enjoy ‘Lobster tail’ with ‘Milk and Honey’ and be tempted by the ‘gods’ of ‘Gucci, Prada, Michael Kors’. Or maybe you want to do it…
via Time to Vote for your February 2018 Pick of the Month —