Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Cool Yule

Here's a splendid poem for the season, reproduced with kind permission of its author Shona Ashton (11).

You forget the true meaning of Christmas
The birth of Santa Claus
Here he comes now in his manger
Pulled by wild boars.

He had to use his manger
Cos his sleigh failed its MOT
Plus there was no snow this year
And the sleigh's a snow-riding machine.

Rudolph's lightbulb has broken
Either that or the battery's gone
The reindeers won't go anywhere without him
He's their hero, their Number One.

Santa has had enough now
Everything's going wrong
So if you're still waiting for presents
Be prepared to be waiting quite long.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Adrian Mitchell 1932 - 2008

Very sad news that Adrian Mitchell died on 20th December. Dubbed the 'Shadow Poet Laureate' by Red Pepper magazine, he was an inspiring, galvanising performer, a prolific playwright and poet of unsurpassed integrity, honesty and wit. Here's the Guardian obituary and the Bloodaxe page which includes video footage of Adrian reading his poetry.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Poet Laureate X Factor

The debate about Andrew Motion's successor continues. Here's Motion's advice and Mark Lawson's sharp take on it all (with a string of comments and proposals from others).

The DCMS is going to consult the public. Who would you vote for? Pam Ayres? Simon Armitage?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Writing on Stone

The 2009 Buxton Poetry Competition is underway. In the new year I'll be running workshops in Derbyshire schools on the theme: stone. Here's a Poetry Archive classic to whet your appetites and chisels: Wall by the Cumbrian poet Norman Nicholson (1914 - 1987).

To change tack.. I've won first prize for poetry in the Chroma Queer Writing Competition with Return, a 'specular' poem (reads line-by-line the same backwards as forwards). It's also a 'concrete' poem (the shape reflects the subject) which nicely takes us back to stone and walls :) ...

Photo: Dry stone wall, Edale.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Killamarsh: Ready, Steady... Write!

Today I was in misty Killamarsh for an inspiring morning of reading, writing and discussing poetry. Thanks to Michelle from the Library who organised the event, and to Wendy, Ann, Sheila, Elaine, Tina, Lynne, Lynne and Dorothy who wrote wonderful autumnal poems. They've started a new writing group - the first meeting is at the Library on Wednesday 3rd December, 4 til 6pm - all welcome.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Poetry & Money

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either. (Robert Graves)

Thanks to Cathy Grindrod for drawing my attention to the following, apposite for our 'interesting' times, written by poet Richard Armour.

That money talks
I'll not deny,
I heard it once:
It said, 'Goodbye'.

You have until midnight tonight to enter the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition, where the first prize is £5,000.

If you want prime poetry for minimal outlay there's still 2 days left to catch an event at Sheffield's Off The Shelf Festival.

A final word on the subject:
'Money doesn't talk. It swears.' (Bob Dylan)

Thanks to Doug Savage for permission to use the Chickens. Check out more of his great poetry-related cartoons here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

More Reasons to be Cheerful

There was such an abundance of cheer last week that I ran out of room, so here's the overflow:

1. Thanks to the Lovely Fiona I have a new website. It is the product of technical wizardry & much patience (plus the home page sports an ironic Byronic picture of yours truly, windswept in Whitby).

2. This Friday 17th Oct sees the official launch of The Purpose of Your Visit. 7.30 pm at Bank St Arts, 32 - 40 Bank St, Sheffield S1 2DS. I'll be reading alongside Michael Laskey and Pam Thompson.
3.Cathy Grindrod (former Derbyshire PL) and I were in Chesterfield Library last Friday for a brilliant book-based event to mark World Mental Health Day. We played Poetry Bingo with an impressively creative audience, who collaborated on the poems featured below.

Seven Things I Like About Autumn

Chestnut leaves changing to yellow.
Frost crisp in the air.
Spiky shells scattering.
Children in woolly hats and scarves - pink, orange.
Acorns snug in their pods.
Wind whistling up the fireplace.
The promise of snow on car windows -
white, vanishing.

Seven Things I Will Always Remember

16 July 1973, Northern General Hospital, Emma.
A psychiatric ward, occasionally sympathetic.
Easter 1960, the sun shining for me.
The empty house when he left.
Disneyland Paris, with Mickey Mouse.
The day I left Ireland, tables and chairs on the Liverpool streets.
My dad holding me safe to the saddle,
letting me go.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Happy National Poetry Day!

The day started early. Ann Atkinson (Peak District Poet Laureate) and I were interviewed on the Shane O'Connor Breakfast Show, BBC Radio Derby. Ann has written a brilliant poem for Shane (a self-confessed poetry sceptic) which she read on air to much applause. Ann and I are promoting poetry in our Village of Two Laureates - Grindleford - and will be joining local writers for poems & coffee at the Maynard at 11 a.m.

Today and all week you can send free poetry e-cards to your loved ones at the National Poetry Day website.

I have in my hands my brand new pamphlet 'The Purpose of Your Visit', published this week by Smith/Doorstop. It has a dazzling magenta cover, and I've surprised myself at just how proud I feel :-) Oh and it's for sale!

If you're in Chesterfield from 5.30 - 7pm today pop in to the library coffee bar, where myself, Janet and Ruth from the library will be dispensing after-work refreshment in the form of poems, tea and cakes.

So, many reasons to be cheerful. Have a great day, take time out for some poetry and here's a tip o' the cap to the late great lyricist, artist and poet Ian Dury.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Work, Rest and Play

Apologies for blog silence - I've been on my hols (Isles of Scilly) where I wrote only postcards!

Talking of holidays, the theme for National Poetry Day 2009 (9th Oct) is Work. Check out the NPD website for free e-poems to send, and much more.

I'm reading in Swadlincote on 1st Oct, Hayfield on 2nd Oct, London (Troubadour) 6th Oct, Chesterfield 9th & 10th Oct, Sheffield 17th Oct, Buxton 21st Oct ... by which time I shall need a short rest. Email me for times & venues.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Well-Dressing and Beyond

The children's writing sessions at Bradwell mobile are now finished. Thanks to everyone who took part especially Natalie, Shannon, Abbie and Suwannee, who added a line in Thai to our Magical Mobile poem.

The last crop of this year's well-dressings is in progress. Recently I came across the one pictured here, depicting a village in Nepal. Residents of Great Hucklow are sponsoring Kanchha Babu Sherpa, a Nepalese medical student who is studying at Manchester Uni. There's got to be a poem in that. I'm trying to work on a sequence about water and well-dressing, inspired by this and by the report in last week's Guardian about the UK water footprint (4,645 litres per person per day when hidden factors are included).

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Poetry Olympics

We were throwing the poetry javelins, and jumping the hurdles of rhyme and rhythm at Bradwell Mobile Library this week. I awarded several Certificates of Olympic Achivement. Acrostics were devised for some of the 33 Olympic sports (though Synchronised Swimming was a bridge too far) and a medal goes to Abbie (7) for this one:


Golfers on the green
Out of bounds
Lost and

A place on the podium for Shannon (11) for this advice:
How to Swim

Take arm-bands and a dive stick,
a blue swimming hat, lots of slides,
a friend, a spotty towel, goggles.

Don't take tears, a woolly hat,
chocolate, a black cat,
a walking stick
or a brick.

Choose a sunny day.
Mix it together.
Enjoy with chips and lemonade.

and to Eleanor (9) for this:
How to Cycle

a helmet
your bike
a sunny day
a pump for your tyres

Don't take:
a computer
spaghetti bolognese

Mix well.
Add a force of wind
and a nice breeze.
Serve with raspberry ripple ice-cream.

I'll be in Bradwell again on 20th & 27th August. See you there for more poetry action ...
P.S. 'Reading The Game' is the August theme for the National Year of Reading 2008

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Wells, Whales and Words in Bradwell

There are four well-dressings being prepared at Bradwell this week. I'm in residence at the mobile library (on Wednesdays 2-4pm: catch us on 6th, 20th and 27th August) with free, fun writing activities for young people. Lots of people dropped by (including visitors from Kent, Oxford and Canada). There were some cracking contributions to the Watery Words poem -
A shiny shark shows his sharp teeth (Leo, 5)

A friendly frog found its baby floating on a lily flower (Bryn, 7)

The kingfisher catches a catfish in the cold river (Edward, 9).

The children's well-dressing theme is Jonah and the Whale. Here's what the whale had to say, as imagined by Edward:

That fish tasted so bitter. I'm not meant to eat fish, I'm only meant to eat krill but I had my mouth wide open when I ran into him. He felt hard like a stone. Now all I keep hearing is 'Help, Help, Help!'.
Here's more information and a calendar of well-dressings. Well dressing is not unique to Derbyshire, but almost all the wells dressed every year are within the county, or a short distance from the county boundary. The custom is going from strength to strength, greatly revived since the start of the 19th century, when only the Tissington well-dressing was recorded.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Ledbury Poetry Fest

Congratulations to Matthew Rodger of Chesterfield, who's won Second Prize in the young persons' section of the prestigious Ledbury Poetry Competition, with Runaway.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

A Lorryload of Laureates

Despite torrential rain, a small but perfectly formed audience gathered in Southwell Library last week to hear the four of us. Good company to be in and a treat to hear Sibyl Ruth (former Birmingham Laureate) read A Song of Jean, which has just won first prize in the Mslexia poetry comp.

Southwell (pronounced Suthwell by some) has its own Poetry Festival (and an impressive Romanesque Minster - see pic). That night I dreamt that Ann Atkinson and I were organising a Poetry Festival in Grindleford... but don't tell anyone!

Monday, 30 June 2008

Poet of the Month (what's his name?)

Recently I found Forgetfulness by Billy Collins on YouTube (you'll need speakers, or you can read it here), and there are several other poems in animated versions (you'll need Quick Time).

Collins is former US & New York State Poet Laureate, one of the best-selling poets over there and increasingly popular over here. I can read his books cover to cover, and usually laugh out loud. 'The Trouble With Poetry' is his latest.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Poets Laureate at Southwell Poetry Festival 9 July

A chance to hear four Laureates - myself, Cathy Grindrod (former Derbyshire PL), Ann Atkinson (Peak District PL) and Sibyl Ruth (former Birmingham PL).

Weds 9th July 7.30 - 9.15 pm at Southwell Library, Nottinghamshire. £4 / £3 including glass of wine.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

In Praise of Mobile Libraries

I'm posting this on board MCV2, parked up near Pilsley Community Centre. Below is the poetic fruit of the morning, dedicated to Christina and Kay, library staff on the van today, and Jayne who manages the Derbyshire mobile library service. They - and many others who drive, staff and organise the mobiles - do a great job, and now I'm a bigger fan than I was already!

There's one kind of mobile
that will never let you down,
run out of juice or credit
and leave you with a frown.
It won't go out of fashion
and it's absolutely free,
coming soon to somewhere near you
it's the mobile library!

Lined with fiction and non-fiction
crime, biography, romance,
you can pick a famous name,
or close your eyes and take a chance.
While the traffic hurtles onwards
and the wind sighs through the trees,
take a step into the haven
of your mobile library.

From Bradwell to Newhall,
from Codnor to Darley Dale,
spot the stripey orange treasure troves
that wind through hill and vale.
Climb aboard the little mobies
or the luxury MCVs
and be welcomed with a smile
inside the mobile library.

They will move you to the past
and they can spin you into space,
driven by the friendliest folk
you'll find in any place.
Order any title, browse
for tapes or DVDS;
words whizz through the county
in the mobile library.

You can surf the internet
or read about the local fete,
meet your neighbours in the aisle,
have a natter with your mates.
From North to South of Derbyshire
in frost or summer breeze
discover poetry in motion
on the mobile library!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Lit Fest underway

Yes, the biannual bonanza of everything book-related is in full-swing. Among gazillions of other events you can catch me and Cathy Grindrod (former Laureate) at Shipley Country Park for the Storytelling Festival on Sunday 8th June. We'll be writing poems to order and jumping through hoops of poetry fire.

I'm really looking forward to the premiere of 'More Glass Than Wall' the Bess of Hardwick oratorio that Cathy has written - with the help of hundreds of Derbyshire schoolchildren. It will be performed next week in Derby and outside at Hardwick Hall (fingers crossed for a fine evening).

Yesterday I was a guest of Buxton Library's Listening Group for people who are visually impaired. I read my own poems and played CDs of other poets (with more interesting voices than mine) among them Jenny Joseph, Ian Macmillan, and Seamus Heaney. Thanks to the group for inviting me and here's one we listened to, a favourite by the much-loved Scottish poet Edwin Morgan : Strawberries. (I can't find a recording by the poet on-line, but it's read here by Hamish Whyte (or you can get the Edwin Morgan CD through Derbyshire libraries!)

More peoms

You can read the recent commissions - 'A Gem of a Place', and 'This Book' on the Derbyshire County Council Poet Laureate page (scroll to the bottom). In case you're wondering, I'm not responsible for uploading content, so have no control over typos. Peom is a good word, though. Perhaps it's a meditating pea ... almost as useful as a poem :-)

Artists in Rural Areas

I've been too bloomin' busy to blog recently so here are a bunch of posts on what I've been up to. A few weeks ago I was in Market Harborough giving a presentation for East Midlands Artists in Rural Areas Network (EMARAN). I met some great people doing exciting things up and down the country, particularly Nancy and Richard from Aune Head Arts, Dartmoor, and more locally Debi Hedderwick from INdepenDANCE and Learning Through the Arts in Wirksworth and the crew from Derbyshire-based Babbling Vagabonds Storytelling Theatre.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Bowzer's Brilliant!

The opening of Bolsover's refurbished library was celebrated in style this week with the premiere of a specially commissioned poem 'A Gem of a Place' (all 320 lines of it!) performed to great acclaim by Pam Mosley, Michelle Simpson, Dale Shaw, Steve Sowerby and Stewart Wood from Bolsover Drama Group. Thanks to them, to the library staff and everyone who contributed to the poem.

Hopefully the text and a recording will be available in the next few months. Please contact me if you'd like a copy.
No photo of the library on-line so here's a Bolsover sunrise taken by Anna Wakeford.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Spinning Down the Derwent ..

.. is a community film project about the Derwent Valley Mills (a World Heritage Site) and the extraordinary history of the Lombe brothers, Richard Arkwright and Jedidiah Strutt - 18th Century entrepreneurs and catalysts of the Industrial Revolution. The group has been running writing workshops to develop the script for a drama-documentary and last week we worked together on 'Pulling the Threads of a Story Together'. Thanks to all the talented folk who came to the workshop at the old Chapel in Milford. I've now had a crash-course in this unique aspect of Derbyshire history, and am completely gripped by the subject matter. There's probably a good few poems in there.

Photo: Cromford Mill

Friday, 25 April 2008

A Word from Amy, Derbyshire Pet Laureate

After much thought, and with the help of FKO, I've put paw to paper. I am available for mousings, purrshops and laps.

It's an art being Pet Laureat,

Curled up, looking like a fur hat.

Am I having a snooze

Or consulting my Muse?

You'll just never know about that.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Ilkeston Readers' Group

Yesterday I was in Ilkeston at the invitation of the Readers' Group: a most enjoyable afternoon discussing poetry. I read a sequence about my father as well as some 'laureate' poems, and interspersed them with 'companion' poems by other writers, including Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden.

Thanks to all the members for thought-provoking questions, and for sharing insights and experiences.
Photo: Ilkeston Library (where the Readers' Group usually meets) from The Ilkeston Local History Society

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

My Family and Other Things

This Friday 18th April I'll be at Buxton Museum to run a workshop for children 8+ and their relatives, based on the exhibition 'Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire'. We'll do a (very easy) quiz about the objects and pictures on display, and write about our own favourite things, pets and families. It's FREE but please book a place by contacting the museum: 01298 24658 or

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Bolsover & Poetry

I'm working on three Laureate commissions: a light-hearted number for the Derbyshire launch of the National Year of Reading and another for the new HeadSpace young reader's area in Buxton Library. The most ambitious is for the re-opening of Bolsover Library; a 'historical pageant' was requested and I've taken them at their word. The poem is 200+ lines and still growing. The Bolsover area is so unique that I can't find a way to write about it sparingly.

As well as researching the medieval town, the Jacobean castle and the profound legacies of coal-mining, I've discovered several poetry connections. The poet and playwright Ben Jonson (Shakespeare's contemporary) was commissioned by William Cavendish to write Love's Welcome at Bolsover for King Charles I's visit in 1634. William's second wife Margaret Cavendish was a poet and prolific writer of drama, philosophy, science fiction and prose fiction, one of the first women to be a professional author and be published under her own name.

On another note, I've also had the good fortune to meet the vicar of Bolsover Trevor Hicks, who turns out to be not only a poet, but the Canon Poet of Derby Cathedral.

And imagine my surprise when the poem sent by Poetry Daily for April 1 (not an April fool!) was this one, astonishingly prescient, and written in 1668, when microscopes had barely been invented:

Of Many Worlds in This World
by Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673)

Just like as in a nest of boxes round,
Degrees of sizes in each box are found:
So, in this world, may many others be
Thinner and less, and less still by degree:
Although they are not subject to our sense,
A world may be no bigger than two-pence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape,
Which our dull senses easily escape:
For creatures, small as atoms, may there be,
If every one a creature's figure bear.
At their return, up the high strand,
If atoms four, a world can make, then see
What several worlds might in an ear-ring be:
For, millions of those atoms may be in
The head of one small, little, single pin.
And if thus small, then ladies may well wear
A world of worlds, as pendents in each ear.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Amnesty International Poetry Competition

April 18th is the closing date for a national school's poetry competition inspired by the experiences of Irina Ratushinskaya in the former Soviet Union, Jack Mapanje in Malawia, and a number of detainees at the infamous American-run prison camp Guantánamo Bay - all of whom produced moving poetry, despite being banned from using pen and paper. Instead they used everyday objects such as toilet paper or disposable cups from their dinner trays to etch their words.

To reflect this, pupils are being asked to compose their poems on 'unusual' objects such as paper plates, toilet paper and clothes. What would you write on?

Thursday, 27 March 2008

A Right Wreath of Laureates

Congratulations to Ann Atkinson who's been selected as the second Poet Laureate of the Peak. Read her first laureate poem 'He talks about fishing the Derwent' .

We're lucky to have two laureates in the region and spookily enough, we live in the same village! We're both members of the wonderful Grindleford Writers' Group and are planning some joint laureateering activities in the next year or two - watch this space.

Begin afresh ..

Thanks to Chesterfield Writers' Circle for hosting a fruitful and inspiring 'Poetry from Scratch' workshop last week. Several of us were quoting 'The Trees' by Philip Larkin, so here it is, read by the poet himself. There's an aura of light green around the silver birches outside my window. The moment before the moment described by Larkin, perhaps, but despite the snow last weekend (still visible on the Derbyshire hills) we're on the tipping point into spring.

Photo: Chesterfield's twisting spire

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Leeds Writers

Thanks to Leeds Writers' Circle for inviting me to lead a workshop today on 'A Sense of Place'. A wonderful location in the Carriageworks with a bird's eye view, and great writing inspired by various perspectives and locations in the city centre.

What about poems and a sense of place? Here's a well-known one by W. B. Yeats.

Photo: one of the owls that adorn Leeds Civic Hall

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Poems & Yoga

Tomorrow - Friday 14th March - I'll be reading at a benefit for Sheffield Iyengar Yoga Centre, 7pm for 7.15 start, 270 Burgoyne Rd, Walkley, S6 3QF. Tickets £5/£3 includes a glass of wine. There'll also be Bollywood Dancing and acapella from the Late Bloomers. See you there!

P.S. There's a write-up in the Sheffield Telegraph

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Poets with a Kick, Doncaster March 8th

Yes, we're in Donny for International Women's Day, as part of HotHouse 2008 reading at the Mansion House . Our friend the artist Jan Flamank has been working with community groups to design and make a cloak of women's passions, aspirations and talents. The cloak will be unveiled and 'launched' at 1pm and we'll be reading 2-3pm.

New! Chesterfield Open Mic

Tony and Suzanne who came to the HMD workshop are setting up Chandler's Bards - a brand new - possibly the first? - open mic night for poets & writers in Chesterfield. Chandler's Bar, 8pm, 17th March. Be there - with a poem or a listening ear. More info from

Monday, 18 February 2008

Water, water everywhere

This Friday 22nd February, 10 am - 11.30 am, I'm running a FREE writing workshop for 8-11 year olds in Buxton Museum: Dive into some of the watery exhibits and splash around with riddles and rhythms to create poems for the Buxton Festival Poetry Competition (theme: Water!) Booking essential - contact Buxton Museum, 01298 24658 or email

Last week I spent an inspiring morning at Buxton Community School with a brilliant Year 8 group writing poems to send to the afore-mentioned Poetry Competition (closing date 1st April, its FREE to enter - up to three poems -if you're under 19). Here are photos and links to the poems they wrote. Quotes from their feedback:

I didn't expect the workshop to be as fun as it was.
I learned more creative and effective ways to word my poems.
What was new was finding out that poems can be very different from each other... it has given me more confidence.
I learned that a poem is what you feel and never wrong.

Thanks to everyone who took part, and particularly to Andrea Wallace and Karey Lucas-Hughes for the great organisation & hospitality - toasted tea-cakes at break :-). Also thanks to Cathy Grindrod for her invaluable assistance and for the wonderful poem she wrote during the session.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Poems on the brain ...

Most mornings I wake up with a random tune in my head: Waterloo or the Hallelujah Chorus (if I'm lucky). All this week, however, I've had a poem on the brain, thanks to my neighbour Rowan Rheingans (currently at folk music school in Sweden). By coincidence she has set Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (see my blog entry for 20th Nov) to music. Miles To Go is the first song on her MySpace page (starts after 2 mins of intro). It's great - and what a good way to learn poems by heart! For thousands of years poems weren't written down, they were passed on through being sung and memorised.

Where do music and poetry begin and end? What other poems have been used in songs? Comments and links welcome.
Photo: Ottawa, Canada. (Today is glorious in Derbyshire - thick frost, sunshine but no snow in sight).

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

It's February! It's LGBT History Month!

Thanks to everyone who came to Chesterfield Library tonight to read, share & discuss LGBT and other authors who have shaped our lives. Thanks for the writing, the instant poems and reminiscences: moving, entertaining and illuminating. Good to mull over questions such as 'Does reading matter to us?', 'Why are books by gay and lesbian authors important at certain times in our lives?', 'Does the quality of the writing matter more than the writer being gay?' and 'Are we drawn to writing that is inclusive and, in the best sense, humanist because of our experiences?'.

Here are some favourites by two writers who are poets first and foremost, and whose writing has given me inspiration, pride and courage. The Hug by Thom Gunn and XII (from Twenty-One Love Poems) by Adrienne Rich. The latter poem has a misprint on this link - 'worls' on the 14th line should be 'world'.
Check out other regional events for LGBT History Month.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Warning: Book Pushers in the Neighbourhood!

Spontaneous applause for the Book Pushers, a group of young people based in Buxton, who, since 2002 (with successive intakes of 'Reading Activists') have been promoting, championing, extolling and blethering about books to audiences far and wide. They have a national reputation for being A Very Good Thing and this week, it's my privilege to meet and write alongside some of them. The current refurbishment of Buxton Library includes the new Headspace - an area designed for young people - part of a national project involving 20 libraries in 4 regions, that the Book Pushers themselves dreamt up and were involved in planning. (Their original name for the project was 'Book Bars' with themselves as 'Book Waiters'). Thanks also to Will Newman, Reader & Audience Development Officer for DCC, who started the whole Bookpushers phenomenon.

Here's a gem of advice from last night's writing (copyright Bookpushers 2008):

'Don't be a snob. Reading is for everyone, not just for posh or clever people - so don't look down on people for what they read, and don't be afraid to read what you want, not what you should.' So there :-)
Photo: Nick, Ben and a nice man in a suit

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Imagine... Remember, Reflect, React

Thankyou to the wonderful readers and writers who attended the workshop this evening to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27th). We were guests of Chesterfield Library's World of Words Reading Group, who have been reading Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky who died in Auschwitz in August 1942.

HMD is recognised internationally as the day to commemorate victims of all genocides and to explore wider issues of prejudice and discrimination. Together we wrote on the challenging subjects of persecution and loss, the resilience of life in the face of destruction, and the creative seeds of change.

Alongside some moving pieces by Chesterfield Young Writers, the writing produced will be on display in Chesterfield Library for a month from January 25th, as well as three poems I have been commissioned to write for the event.

Click here for more information on Holocaust Memorial events across the UK and to light a virtual candle of remembrance.

Friday, 11 January 2008

'This being human ...'

January can seem bleak. Bare trees through a veil of rain. The buds waiting to break are easily overlooked. If your landscape looks desolate, or even if you're full of optimism, here are some poems.

Mary Oliver's Wild Geese - much anthologised and quoted; Derek Walcott 's Love after Love - a gentle invitation to patience; and The Guest House by the Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 - 73) whose voice across the centuries invites us to meet life with radical acceptance.

I offer these in memory of Tony Williamson, a deeply caring and generous-hearted man, who I knew through singing together in Out Aloud, Sheffield's LGBT Choir. He died on 24th December and will be greatly missed.