Thursday, 25 October 2007

Derwent Poetry Festival 27 / 28 Oct

Templar Poetry are bringing some great local and national poetry stars together this weekend at Masson Mills, Matlock Bath, where Richard Arkwright built his showpiece mill in 1783 (now a World Heritage Site). Full poetry programme here. I will be reading a few poems on Saturday 3-4pm, at a free reading by poets included in the 2007 Competition Anthology. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Autumn Trees

I was interviewed by the Derby Evening Telegraph yesterday. I must get used to being asked about my favourite poets. One of the names that popped into my head was 'Emily Bronte' but in truth I only remember reading one of her poems - 'The Prisoner' which we did at school (quite appropriate for the miseries of teenage-hood). I looked at some of her other poems hoping to find one about Autumn, but most of them are wintry in the extreme.

The closest I can come to an Autumn poem is one I've recently written about a tree I sent off for (a small one - to plant in my garden!) after collecting tokens from a few gallons of yoghurt.

Today's factoid: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust are currently searching for the oldest trees in the county.

Planting the Rowan

Blackbird clacks day’s end through undergrowth.
A week past autumn equinox. We should go in

but keep on, half a cup of cold tea rain-flecked
on a stone, nettle-bites inside wet gloves.

Knees sag with mud, backache as yet benign.
A bramble gives. I’m flung back.

Lights along the row like honey toast.
Shouldering the drizzle, we’ve amassed

a heap of rot-stripped doors, roots, bucket rims.
Downhill from everything we’re nose to earth,

breath - raw damp clumps. A little more.
It’s painful to unbend, stretch to the last grey line

of light. I kiss you, plant the tree
whose bed is soft stroked loam. From inside

it will look so dark out here
we’ll wonder how we saw our way at all.

Friday, 5 October 2007


Cathy Grindrod (the previous Derbyshire laureate) and I were interviewed on BBC Radio Derby. The theme of this year's National Poetry Day was 'Dreams' and I had to come up with two lines which listeners could add to throughout the day. I had a few nightmares about those lines! Cathy's poems have been featured on Radio Derby this week.

After a long cross-county drive I arrived in Buxton for a double launch under the Dome (the former Devonshire Hospital, now University of Derby at Buxton): the new Buxton Poetry Competition, and my own launch as laureate! I read a new poem about the Tissington Trail. Thanks to Marjorie and Trevor for chatting with me about the poem afterwards and correcting my dates! It was also good to meet local writers, including Philip Holland, a poet and former dairy-farmer.

Laureate Lines features poems Cathy Grindrod wrote during her time as laureate. It contains extracts from her laureate diary and a selection of poems written by participants at poetry workshops. Copies are £7.99 and available from Derbyshire Libraries or Ali Betteridge, Literature Development.