Monday 26 September 2011

Not taking my own advice.

I have been honing my collection into a shorter pamphlet so I can enter some upcoming competitions. In editing all of the poems I think are worthy I have realised a truth: though my collection is called How to speak to your mother, I am yet to write a poem that does.

The more I think about it, the more of an oversight this seems. How did I not notice this before?

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Pegasuses, and taking flight.

I feel a poetry reboot coming along. Pegasuses have been plaguing my mind... and I feel the need for a load more work and a load more poems to send out and a general increase in poetic energy. And poetic focus.

All this, and I am still in training, with my first race (10K) on Sunday. It turns out, too, that I am not the only poet doing the Great North Run this year! (Not that I thought I was, but it's nice to find some other self-identified poet-types also taking on the physical task). Kate Fox, Sheree Mack and Scott Tyrell are all running, too, and probably much faster than me. I sense a most poetical exertion, and wonder how many other writers will be in the midst, without even realising that they are not alone!

Monday 20 June 2011

Running, running.

I'm doing two runs this summer, then, it turns out. The Great North 10K and the Great North Run. Yikes.

Having just spent a Friday at the Great North Swim witnessing C complete a 2 mile open water slog in lake Windermere, I am actually looking forward to the sheer event of a 'Great North [something]' and being involved in the collective effort. I am very nervous, though, about both - but especially the half marathon. The furthest I've run so far is about 11K, and I need to at least double that distance in three months. And in my barefoot running shoes, which my poor achey foot bones are still adjusting to, really. Cripes.

Does anyone have any tips for avoiding blood blisters on the bottoms of toes?

Anyway, in the meantime, I'd really appreciate if you'd sponsor my efforts. I know running two may seem a bit greedy, but they are for two very good and deserving causes, quite apart from my suffering feet: Scope (for all the times, as a kid, I used the horrendous words 'spaz' or 'spacker' as an insult, without realising where they came from) and the Alzheimer's Society (because so many people are affected by this ravaging disease - and I loved the recent drama Exile). Perhaps you could split the usual amount you'd sponsor between the two? Every penny counts.

Great North 10K
Great North Run

Thank you! xx

Monday 6 June 2011

Ah, Summer.

I miss very much the convenience of being able to run in the cloak of darkness at a reasonable hour, whilst the temperature is maintained at a very agreeable level of coolness to prevent such redness of cheek as to stop traffic.

In other news, I am enjoying poetry quite a lot at the moment, though not necessarily writing very much of it. It's proving much fun working with Well Versed (via New Writing North) and with teachers and children in schools. It feels very worthwhile getting involved in the teaching of poetry without sweeping into a school and delivering a workshop - and then invariably sweeping away again, leaving teachers with their classroom objectives and no relevant outcome to apply to the curriculum in a lasting way. Really getting involved in how teachers teach the writing of poetry feels like a longer-lasting, and confidence-building, exercise, for all involved. Including me.

There's definitely something to be said for professionalising poetry. I was discussing this the other day with the teacher I am working with: that sitting down to write a poem, especially when you have a full time job, feels self-indulgent and as if you're slacking off something much more important. Doing a course has given the teachers that sense of professionalisation, and my MA did that too, at the time. Taking part in some professional development like this is having the same effect on me now. I like it.

Sometimes I wonder if the self-doubt and debilitating over-thinking that accompanies being a poet ever goes away, or diminishes with an increasing output of published work. Having attended the Poetry Society annual lecture on 'On Being Old' delivered by CK Williams (author of 14 collections, a 'Selected' and a 'Collected'), it seems that this is not the case. Even he often wonders if he is really a poet at all, or can claim to be called one, when he's not writing. Though mildly alarming, this is also somewhat comforting.

He also had this brilliant advice: "Wisdom is basically poop, except for patience." Indeed.

Friday 29 April 2011

Just testing - much excitement

...and confusion, apparently, about my new phone.

Also, we're just watching Pride and Prejudice. Matthew Mcfadyen is a most agreeable Darcy.

Monday 4 April 2011


Ogenki desu ka? I'm getting ever more excited about Japan, even though there is still much to do at work. So much more to do, in fact, that I'm not entirely sure I'm going to be able to fit it all in. But we fly on Friday! Kuukoo niwa dooyatte ikeba ii desu ka?

I appear to be taking four cameras with me.

I am getting my hair cut on Wednesday for the first time in, uh, at least eight months. It's just a trim. JUST A TRIM. I am made inexplicably uncomfortable by hairdressers. Even though I've had the same hairdresser for years, now, I am embarrassed to be recognised by her along with the realisation of how long it's been since she last got hold of my locks. She asked me last time, even, who had cut my hair last, as if she was trying to catch me out in my infidelity. Sampatsu ga hoshii desu.

Sumimasen. Watashi wa nihongo ga hanasemasen.


Tuesday 29 March 2011


But only by one publisher so far. I still have my fingers crossed. (And I'm okay with it. Honest.)

Not long now until Craig and I depart for Japan. We booked before the recent events, of course, but have decided to go anyway as a kind of show of support and solidarity and trust. We're flying into Kansai airport near Osaka (which has been changed from Narita, Tokyo) and this is an airport built on created land in the sea, which may be an experience in itself. As well as Osaka, we're visiting Kyoto, Nara (for my birthday) and (hopefully) Tokyo. I can't even begin to imagine what it's going to be like over there, so mostly, at the moment, I am excited about the flight. I think this is my brain's way of making sense of the trip, but I'm embracing it anyway. Craig doesn't think I'll be able to sleep (I think he's wrong..) and so will be exhausted upon arrival and will need much rest before embarking on adventures (...but he may be right). But at least, by then, I will have experienced the screens.... in the BACKS OF THE SEATS! (perhaps a nap upon arrival will do).

As well as an exciting trip to write about, I have also been inspired today by a friend at a writing project I'm involved in (Well Versed - working with teachers to aid their teaching of creative writing to children) suggesting that I try translating German poetry into English. I'm not sure about this suggestion, as I find it hard enough to fit English poetry-writing into my everday routine at the moment, but maybe there's something in it. Durs Grünbein, who I heard reading at StAnza (where I was also reading this year!), is an amazing German poet that struck a chord with me, but I had never heard of him until I saw him read (and Don Paterson read the English translations). How do you find out about foreign authors not published in the UK? Durs Grünbein is, in translation, and I hadn't even heard of him. What about those who aren't? A puzzle.

I have taken to walking everywhere in Vibram Five Fingers. My feet feel stronger. I feel like it makes me more atuned to what's going on around me, more attentive to the detail of things. Always good for writing, I think, to have that extra sensory thing going on. There is a lot of broken glass around; the other day I ran underneath a flitting bat at dusk; my core needs more strength. I have also signed up for the Great North 10k and the Great North Run, and will be doing both barefoot style. Perhaps this, or more particularly, the physical slog of training for this, will inspire some running poems - I don't think I've written one yet..

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Collection submission

is a terrifying process, and now complete (phase 1, at least). The only part of getting the submission together I really enjoyed (this is separate, in my head at least, to writing the poems) was lining up the stamps reeeaaally neatly. The shuffle of envelopes landing on a pile of envelopes, finally beyond your grasp, is both a relief and a wrench.

Nothing will come of this, I'm sure, but I've crossed my fingers anyway.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Nanopowders and Assembler Breakthroughs

Reading about science stuff in order to inspire poems is a joy. I got a book of Modern Science Writing for Christmas, and should really get around to reading the books on Quantum Physics I have, because there's nothing more spectacular to write about. I'm really looking forward to the nanotechnology-themed workshop I'm attending tomorrow. It should be brill.

In other news, I haven't been writing much because of how incredibly busy life seems to be all of the time. I really need another project to inspire time prioritisation - but I can't help feeling that if I make time to write every day, it will mean not being able to read the Guardian every day, and I take a lot of pleasure in that, so it will be a shame. There's not much left to give, though. And I don't even have kids, or dependants, or any other practical responsibilities outside of work! I don't know how many writers do it at all.

Monday 3 January 2011

Oh, it is Elevenses! How quickly this spectacular changing of the seasons and of time has crept up.

I haven't been writing very much, hence not much posting. Christmas lead-up is just so busy busy, isn't it?? So much making to do, and baking to do, and enjoyment to have. Needless to say, 2011 brings creative challenges and some more goals my way. Here's to at least getting my work on a publisher's desk in the next couple of months...