Reading, writing, planning, etc.

I haven’t written much about my everyday life recently so I thought I’d do an update. My once a week job in a school ended in July and very quickly after that I was awarded a small bursary to write new poems about the heritage, history and landscape of the area in and around Amesbury.  These are coming together gradually but I’ve mostly been researching and thinking  about these new Wiltshire poems. I’ve also been nipping about the country reading from my new book (Birmingham, Ledbury, Peckham, Trowbridge, so far) and this week I’m reading at The Poetry Cafe in London and at The Swan Hotel (for Words & Ears) in Bradford on Avon.  On September 9 I’m back in London to read at The Torriano and on September 27 I’m in Exeter for Uncut Poets.  All of my readings are listed on my Diary/News page – if you’re at any of these events, do please say hello.

I’ve started thinking about, and writing, new poems for what might be a second collection.  These are mostly poems to do with human ageing, the menopause, being an older mother, being a parent to teenagers and young adults, and small town living.  Does this sound like these are poems that might make a book?  Anyway, a book is a far away thought as I’m just filling up my notebooks with lines and fragments at this point – although some finished poems have emerged.  I’ve also written some themed poems for competitions – I just fancied it and I wanted to support the people organising them.  Occasionally I’ve won or been a runner-up in a poetry comp so we’ll see what happens.

I’ve also made a stab at some prose writing – thinking that I might be writing a novel – but when I’ve read through this work it seems that it is a series of poems hidden inside many pages of words, rather like word search puzzles.

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading,  re-reading and finding interesting recently.  Maybe you can spot some of your current reads in there.

Both of my children are home, one from university and one from FE college, but they have been busy travelling independently, socialising and studying and are involved in their own creative projects so I haven’t seen a huge amount of them.  It’s wonderful to spend time with them (when are they home).  Check my Instagram feed for an occasional snapshot of them!

Talking of Instagram… Increasingly, I’m finding the internet – in particular social media – a distraction.  I’ve started to give myself  ‘curfews’ – not checking any of my social media channels for two or six or twelve hours – and this has meant that I’ve been more productive and I’ve felt less anxious.  I think that managing my internet distractions is an ongoing project, however.

To close, a few new things I’ve really, really enjoyed.  Here are some links as you might like them too :

Some blurb about the show:

The final showing of Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017 will be at Drawing Projects UK and open to the public from 16 August to 6 October 2018. Selected by Dr David Dibosa, Helen Legg and Michael Simpson from over 2,800 original drawings, 69 drawings by 65 artists will be on display. Founded in 1994, it is the largest and longest-running annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK and was supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation from 2001 to 2017.

My 17 year old son and friend went to see this and they loved it as much as I did.  Anita Taylor and Gary Sangster who run Drawing Projects UK are always incredibly relaxed and welcoming to visitors.  One of my son’s comments was “Everyone was so kind to us there.”

The intimate space of the venue means that you can walk through the exhibition many times.  I went to see the exhibition with artist friends and we enjoyed returning to the drawings and talking about which ones we particularly liked/didn’t like and why.

As well as the exciting range of drawings, and being provoked to think about what drawing is and what it means, I was also fascinated by the artist statements that accompany each piece of art, particularly when artists talked about the ideas, thoughts and moods that lead them to draw what they did.  The statements made me think that it would be good for poets to include a statement alongside their work or perhaps to offer a statement and leave us to imagine the poem!  Lots to think about.  Go to this exhibition if you can, it’s free and on until 6 October (check venue for opening times).

I loved listening to poet and musician Roger Robinson in collaboration with musicians Mark Sanders and Ben Vince on BBC Radio 3.  Roger sometimes read from his notebook while the two musicians improvised around him and there are some more rehearsed pieces. Poetry and music in union like this doesn’t always work for me but this does!

Lastly, I just loved the poetry films of a new poetry film collective set up by poet and film-maker Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery of Poetry Film Live.  I can’t find a link to the collective’s work but here is a link to the poetry films of Shauna Robertson who is part of the collective.

I think that is all my news, such as it is.

6 thoughts on “Reading, writing, planning, etc.”

  1. Oh yes Helen Dunmore’s Inside the Wave! I’ll be going back to that many times ☺. I haven’t read any of the others (I generally struggle with Virginia Woolf) but some good ideas for other reading, thank you.
    Having started writing seriously at a more advanced age I’m using my time on poetry and short stories – have wanted to write short stories since I was a young teenager. Also I don’t have the stamina for a novel! Anyway best of luck, Josephine, with your novel writing ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The only Virginia Woolf book that I’ve completed is Mrs. Dalloway; loved it. (I also enjoyed Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.) I started To the Lighthouse but don’t recall finishing it or what the story line was. As far as Daphne du Maurier, I’ve read Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. I found Jamaica Inn too gothic. I have The House on the Strand in my e-reader, but haven’t gotten around to reading it, yet.

      Like one of the other commenters, I began writing when I was an adult (late 40s in my case) and focus on writing poetry, short stories, which I’ve been submitting to contests. I recently started writing reviews of mysteries (

      Good luck with your poetry tour and writing a novel.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, it sounds like “Have poem will travel”. Good luck with all your gigs.
    I have made friends with a young Yorkshire poet, Wakefield based. Watch out for her she is exceptional, her name is Laura Potts, at 23 she has won all sorts of poetic awards and prizes, she is retained by the BBC to write Radio plays, she is Poet in Residence for the Ilkley Literature Festival.
    On themes for poems: I have two themes going on – one is Transcience – which is on a slow burn. The second is on “Lines”, having thought of it there are so many lines in our daily life,
    Railway lines, Knitting lines, Lines on the page….. so far I have 14 poems completed.
    Thanks for you informative blog.

    Liked by 2 people

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