Not once have I mistakenly written “2014” – it’s as if it’s always been 2015 and always January, the month that every year, to me, seems the l-o–o–o-ongest. My write-for-an-hour-a-day-with-the-internet-turned-off pledge has mostly been observed, resulting in three new poems and an old one revised. Four poems are out for consideration.
I’ve done two poetry readings, one in Bradford on Avon and one in Swindon. The Bradford poetry reading, at the Words and Ears Series in The Swan Hotel, was the kind of event I hope every writer experiences at least once in their lives. It was the warmest, friendliest audience that anyone could wish for. As well as Words and Ears regulars, there were friends – the real life variety and the ones I’ve met through social media who are now real life friends, readers of this blog, neighbours, past students and one past creative writing teacher, who turned up on a cold January night to listen to my poems, laugh at my feeble jokes, read brilliant poems at the open-mic and buy my pamphlet. It was marvellous!
In particular I enjoyed hearing poems from Stephen Payne whose debut collection will be published by HappenStance later this year – you can read two of his poems here – Carrie Etter, who read from her Seren collection, Imagined Sons, and Tania Hershman who I first got to know through her short fiction work but, judging from her fresh, witty, intriguing open-mic poems (and she’s a natural performer!), I’d say that her first poetry collection will be one to hastily acquire. I’m really grateful to Dawn Gorman for organising the series which meets monthly. Here are a few snaps from the night.
It’s always a pleasure to be in Swindon and meet up with Hilda Sheehan who has a talent for bringing exciting poetry people and events to the town. I’ve just booked for ‘Documentary Poetics: a workshop and reading with Andrea Brady’. Here’s the description from the programme: “Developing poetry using historical and contemporary ‘factual’ sources and other kinds of found text; and thinking about the verse essay in contrast with occasional poetry.” More details of all readings and events at Poetry Swindon here.
Something else I’m looking forward to in March is an event at Bristol Festival of Ideas – A New Lyrical Ballads: Contemporary Poets and Romanticism (Bristol-resident Tania Hershman put me on to this one!). Here’s the description of the event from the website:
In 2014 the Festival of Ideas with Bristol 2015 commissioned 23 leading British poets to write a new poem in the spirit of Romanticism. All 23 will be presented tonight by the poets and published for the first time. This is likely to be the largest and best gathering of contemporary poets reading new poetry in 2015 and an event not to be missed.
The following poets are taking part: Fleur Adcock, Patience Agbabi, Rachael Boast, John Burnside, Gillian Clarke, Paul Farley, Isabel Galleymore, Jen Hadfield, David Harsent, Kathleen Jamie, Nick Laird, Liz Lochhead, Jamie McKendrick, Ian McMillan, Andrew Motion, Sean O’Brien, Alice Oswald, Ruth Padel, Don Paterson, Jean Sprackland, Greta Stoddart, Michael Symmons Roberts, Adam Thorpe. All are scheduled to appear in person with the exception of Jen Hadfield and Kathleen Jamie who will be providing a filmed contribution. Details on how to book here.
The year still feels new and full of possibilities, stretching out as long as our long garden path which we always meant to replace with something more beautiful, more interesting, less like an airport landing strip. I somehow don’t think this will be the year we’ll change it. But who knows?
(Pictured left, our long “airport landing strip” garden path. Sadly, since this photo was taken, one of our pet rabbits (seen in the pic) has died of a sudden heart attack. We miss you, Romeo, you were full of affection and mischief!)