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.