Cover of The Big Calls by Glyn Maxwell

April News

Some of you might have noticed that I deleted my previous post. Thank you if you read and commented. I deleted it after guidance from respected friends because there was a danger of centring myself in the issues I was discussing in the post, which was never my intention.

April for me began with the end of Lent, and beautiful Easter Triduum services led by Canon Liam O’Driscoll, my Parish Priest for many years and now approaching his retirement as he approaches his nineties! I’ve had some personal matters to contend with in the past ten months and my Catholic faith truly helped me through a difficult time. April and the Easter holidays were also a chance for me to be with my now grown-up children who are part of the generation whose passage to adulthood was affected by the Covid pandemic. Both were sent home from university in 2020, and have dealt with all sorts of challenges since, as have so many young people (and people of all ages). I’m extremely proud of them and their strength and resilience in testing times. They teach me so much.

Away from my personal life, April was a chance to attend the online and in-person launch of The Big Calls by Glyn Maxwell. I’ve never bought a book so fast after hearing readings from it. In his latest collection, Maxwell takes well-known poems from the English canon and ‘shadows’ them, maintaining each poem’s structure and poetic metre, to write about recent significant historic events. So issues such as the Johnson government’s response to the pandemic, the Grenfell Tower fire, the handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan, the tabloid hacking scandal, the Metropolitan Police, deaths of migrants at sea, and more, are transposed into poems shadowing writing by Kipling, Oscar Wilde, Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Gerard Manley Hopkins and other famous poets. If you’re at all interested in the craft of poetry writing, or poetry in general, and you want to read succinct and insightful political commentary, I urge you to seek out this book. It’s available direct from small press Live Canon and the Poetry Book Society, and all usual venues. Also, check out Live Canon’s YouTube channel where you can see films of Glyn Maxwell reading poems from his book. Here’s one poem I tweeted, in which Maxwell ‘shadows’ Kipling’s poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’ to highlight the UK government’s handling of the evacuation from Kabul, as the capital city fell to the Taliban.

And here is a captioned film of Maxwell reading the same poem.

Finally, some lovely personal writing news arrived in April with the announcement that I’m one of this year’s winners in the Coast to Coast to Coast Poetry Prize, and will have a handmade, limited edition pamphlet of my work made by writer and artist Maria Isakova Bennett. Twelve of my poems (self-portraits, odes, poems after art and seen-while-walking poems) will be handstitched into a micro pamphlet by Maria, and I will take part in a reading with the other three winners in Liverpool later this year. With this, and my pamphlet/chapbook Love and Stones, forthcoming from Live Canon (more news about that soon), 2023 is turning into a fruitful year for me.

Thanks, as always, for reading my blog! Let me know your news in the comments if you feel like it.

4 thoughts on “April News”

  1. Hi Josephine,

    I’m very curious as to why you deleted your previous post? I thought it was fair, exceedingly balanced, truthful and absolutely NECESSARY. “there was a danger of centring myself in the issues I was discussing in the post, which was never my intention” – \if by centring yourself you mean stating your truth in a humble and honest way then why would you not want to do that?

    All respect, sharonx

    Sharon Black Gardoussel 30940 St Andre de Valborgne France tel. +33 (0)9 64 28 32 71

    Gardoussel Retreat: Writing Courses: Pindrop Press: My Poetry:

    Author of: ‘The Red House’ (Drunk Muse Press, 2022) ‘The Last Woman Born on the Island’ (Vagabond Voices, 2022) ‘Rib’ (Wayleave Press, 2021) ‘The Art of Egg’ (Two Ravens Press, 2015) ‘To Know Bedrock’ (Pindrop Press, 2011)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Sharon, Thanks so much for commenting. I deleted my post because there was a danger of it becoming the focus, rather than the poem at the heart of it. I stand by that poem and will leave it to speak for itself. I think that’s all I can say here on on this public space but I will message you privately. Thank you, again, and all good wishes and respect to you. Josephine x


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