Sunday, 21 October 2018

Totleigh Barton

Writing Pod at Totleigh Barton

I'm just back from an inspiring few days at Arvon's Totleigh Barton and feel so lucky to have been tutored by Liz Berry and Ian Duhig. It was a tutored poetry retreat which suited me beautifully as I'm not so good at workshops when you have to write really quickly. The time was my own, to work on my poems, except for one tutorial a day. My room was next to the  poetry library, so I had a wonderful time reading, as well as writing.

I'm putting a pamphlet together and was stuck on title and themes. This retreat sorted it all out. The success of these courses is also very dependent on the people involved. This was an amazing group of about 16 and we seemed to get on from the moment we arrived. The tutors were so generous with their time, joined in with everything, gave us so much invaluable help with our work, and we all had a lot of laughs together.

The weather was beautiful, autumn at its most stunning, and Totleigh Barton was magical.
I'm sad it's over but also have lots of ideas for my poems that I want to get started on.

The first weekend of November is the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and I seem to have booked tickets to a huge amount of events. I love this poetry festival. Aldeburgh is a lovely seaside town, with a fascinating musical history, and I'm looking forward to it. But for now, I want to hang on to my memories of Totleigh Barton.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The Cinema Museum


Last week I was in London for the launch of Magma 71 at The Cinema Museum. It's an amazing place and was the workhouse where Charlie Chaplin went as a child. There was no time to explore the museum but I'll certainly go back there. The launch of Magma 71 was wonderful and included film poems, and 4 films responding to the same poem by Carrie Etter. I was lucky enough to have my poem 'Running from The Magnificent Seven with a Love Heart' in this issue so was able to read it, despite an argument with the microphone. I have no idea how to speak into a microphone and need to go and get some practise, as I found it fairly daunting. Luckily the atmosphere was brilliant and I loved the evening.

With England having a heatwave, I feel happy to be in Sintra where it is much cooler than usual. The mornings are misty and when the sun breaks through the temperature only reaches about 22 degrees.

The family start arriving this weekend and poetry, although it carries on in my head, gets put aside for a few weeks. I have so many wonderful books on my bedside table to dip into at night. I'm still returning to Sarah Corbett's 'A Perfect Mirror' and 'To Sweeten Bitter' by Raymond Antrobus. I've also gone back to Miriam Nash's wonderful collection 'All the Prayers in the House' as I've signed up for an Arvon tutored retreat in October where Miriam will be the guest tutor. I'm looking forward to going as I need the time and space to work on my pamphlet. 

Meanwhile there are two books winging their way to me in the post: Robert Peake's Cyclone and Richard McCaffery's Passport. Can't wait!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Just a little break ...



Too long a break! I was fed up with not being able to get into my blog, and then, having sorted it out, I kind of lost the impetus to carry on. Anyway, somehow today, the spirit moved me. 

I was very happy to have a poem published in The Paper Swans Press Pocket Poetry Book of Love & also one in PPB of Weddings (see photo). Another poem is coming out in Magma's next issue on cinema and I'm going to be in London next week for the launch so I'll be reading at The Cinema Museum.

I've been concentrating on my pamphlet and love working on it. The poems move around, some are taken out, new ones put in, so it is fairly organic, but I now feel it is as complete as it will ever be. I just need to find it a home.

I've read some wonderful poetry over the past few months. Sarah Corbett's The Perfect Mirror is a beautiful collection and I find myself reading it again and again. She was my tutor at Lancaster and I know how lucky I am to have been taught by her. Raymond Antrobus' To Sweeten Bitter is another book that has really impressed me and I keep going back to it. On days when I find it hard to write, I just have to dip into a poetry book and be inspired by what I find inside. 

Friday, 6 April 2018

Blogger problems

I've had problems getting back into this blog. Somehow I was locked out and I'm not sure if it's working properly yet. This is a trial to see what's going on. When I sign out I'm finding it hard to get back in, so maybe it's time to try a new blog site.
Tirimbina Suspension Bridge

Costa Rica was quite an adventure and has led to my writing a sequence of 5 poems helped by my online clinic with Bill Greenwell. The swing bridge in the photo is the longest in CR and terrified me. The poems are loosely based on 'fear' as I also had to cope with Howler Monkeys who roar like lions and swing through the canopy, trading insults with rival groups of howlers. We also arrived on the day of an earthquake and my bed shook all night!

I had a poem (Kissing Gate) published in Paper Swans Press 'Love' pamphlet in February, which was a very happy start to the year.  

I'm going to sign off now and see if I can get back in again. If not, I shall start a new blog elsewhere :-(

Friday, 29 December 2017

Light at the end ...

Winter sunrise in Sintra

The last few months of this year have been fairly higgledy piggledy and my postings on my blog, as you can see, failed completely. I spent a month in London when my mother was ill, and my pc there refused to recognise the device for this blog. A great excuse to be lazy, but I couldn't access my blog at all, or my emails. Help! I thought, what about all those poetry competitions I'm winning and can't accept because I'm not getting the emails. Dream on ... and dream on I will. I spent a month with bronchitis, made worse by reacting very badly to the antibiotics. I felt so sick I had to stay at home instead of reading a poem at a conference at Lisbon University with my Stanza group. I hope there will be more chances. 

I've just been making a list of the poems I've written this year. There are many fewer than previous years. Every year I print out all the poems I've written that year, just in case my pc dies on me. 

I'm taking part in one of Bill Greenwell's poetry clinics in January which I'm looking forward to. I've done a couple of his clinics before and his red (blue) pen is honest and brilliantly helpful. I feel a bit at sea with my writing and hope he'll help me sort myself out. I'm also doing another online course with The Poetry School (when don't I?) on European poetry. I think their courses are wonderful and I also enjoy the people I 'meet' on the courses. 

I did manage to make it to the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and went to the Poetry School breakfast where I met most of the team. I was also able to have a poem critiqued by Kathryn Maris which was great. I've done an online course with her and she is really encouraging without mincing her words. I went to some fantastic readings and fell in love with Miriam Nash's poetry, never having read/heard her before. Edward Doegar was another find for me and I loved the readings by Rebecca Goss and Ramona Herdman. 

So now I gather energy for a new year. I'm not sure where it's going to lead me but the first stop is to the cloud forests of Costa Rica in search of a Quetzal. It's got to be better than going to the Sales!


Friday, 1 September 2017

Dear Blog



Yes, there is an excuse. Summer! A full house, lots of sheets to wash, food, food and more food. But also time for a poetry picnic with my Stanza group. We chose the one foggy day, but the sun came through and we sat in the Sintra hills discussing the poems we had tried to write for children (mine was too scary), and eating a hotchpotch picnic. It was wonderful!

I found time to write poems in the early mornings when our resident owl was just dropping off, and our resident children were still dreaming. There is something about the pressure of time that gets me inspired to write and I've been enjoying myself exploring 'moths'. They are becoming something of an obsession and I'm having fun with them.

I was very happy to see my poem 'Washi' published in 'Under the Radar', a poetry magazine that I think is great, and thrilled to be shortlisted in the 'Paper Swans Press' pamphlet competition.

I've been reading a lot and will add to my reading list here once I get back from holiday. There are some fabulous poetry books and pamphlets out there and my shelves can't get enough of them. I love autumn and that feeling of settling down to write, sort out, garden, tidy up, declutter. It would be great to sell the house but the viewings dried up over August so I think we're here for ever. I can think of worse places to be and I love the privacy we have in Sintra.

The family left this morning and now it's my turn to take a break. I'm off down the Danube tomorrow, that is, if it hasn't dried up.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

There is no excuse...

for not keeping up with my blog... except to say...my writing got stuck and I got stuck with it. I was saved (once again) by a wonderful short online course with The Poetry School. It was 'The Ugliness Studio' and we were encouraged by Adam Crothers to use bad taste, bad form and bad language. It was exhilarating, the group was dynamic and responsive and I loved every minute of it. I never thought I would enjoy writing such wicked words but it was very liberating.

I went to the music festival at Aldeburgh again in June and was able to get to Shingle Street for a quick walk on the beach. I was happy to see that the shell line was still there, looking stronger than ever. I managed to repair a few spaces and it felt very special. I think it would be a great place to stay and need to look up a place to rent for a few nights. I would love to go back for Aldeburgh Poetry and am thinking about it. I get very frustrated not being able to go to readings and festivals in the UK. I think I lose a lot but not being able to meet and talk with other poets. 

The summer invasion is about the begin but I need a day to sift through my poems that need editing. Usually I manage to edit a few over the summer, when nobody is looking.
I'd like to enter the Poetry Society Stanza competition and need to think about the theme of 'walls'. I have nothing that fits but feel the urge to write something new. My Stanza group are meeting mid-August to have a poetry picnic in the Sintra hills. I was wondering what would make a poetic sandwich or perhaps I could make a nasturtium & lavender pannacotta!


Is Venice shrinking?

Is Venice shrinking?