As this strange year draws to an end (although, the end still feels like a long way off to me), I’m pleased to tell you that I have a few pieces of new writing in circulation. I’ve been writing poems for about ten years now, after a period of not writing at all while my children were growing up, and, before that, writing prose and play scripts. When my full collection of poetry was published in 2018, there were poems flying free that I couldn’t quite tie down in time to include in my book, and others that were no more than a tiny speck of an idea. Gradually, in the past two years, some of these poems have landed firmly and taken shape across pages of my notebook.
One big change in my life in the past three years has been my two children leaving home to go to university, and, this year, one of them leaving home to start their working life. This has coincided with my increased awareness of the precariousness of our planet. A new poem, ‘Then, said I, Lord how long?’, merges my feelings of loss incurred by the climate emergency with my experience of the “empty nest”, and is published in the Winter 2020 issue of Poetry Wales. Another poem about children growing up, ‘Parenting Book‘, will be online at Ink, Sweat and Tears on December 29 – part of their yearly Twelve Days of Christmas series.
Another new poem of mine, ‘Poem for a 1960s Welfare State Childhood’, is online at the Morning Star. This is a poem about my own childhood, rather than about my children, and was prompted by my thoughts about the dismantling of the benefits systems by successive Tory administrations since 2010, and how insecure housing, and insecure household income, impacts on children. I know my own childhood would have been very different if my family hadn’t been protected by the welfare state.
I also have some critical writing out in recent publications. A piece of unseen criticism was published in The North, Summer 2020, and my reviews of books by Geraldine Clarkson, Seán Hewitt and Marvin Thompson are about to be published in the Winter 2020 issue of the magazine.
Lastly (for now!) I was excited to learn that a tiny poem I wrote as part of my Time to Write commission by Paper Nations and The Great Margin in the summer has been made into a very small (30 seconds) but very beautiful poetry film. I wrote this piece during the first UK lockdown when my student children were sent home from their universities and were missing their friends and student lives. I was experimenting with using collage and cut-ups which is how this poem – ‘The wonders, the joy’ – emerged.
Writing about these recent poems in one place has confirmed to me that, set against a backdrop of the past ten years, the 2016 EU referendum, the 2020 global pandemic and the ongoing climate emergency, my next collection will explore themes to do with childhood, parenthood, and growing older. I *think* I know where I’m going now.
Thanks, as always, for reading.