Friday, 13 October 2017

'Penwith Finger Stone' and the Milestones-WriteOutLoud Poetry Competition Anthology

Milestones: the Poetry Anthology

Thanks are due to Steve Pottinger who read my poem, 'Penwith Finger Stone', on my behalf at the prize-giving event in Long Compton on 7 October 2017 (see Greg Freeman's report here). I was sorry not to be there, but I am delighted with the competition anthology which arrived today.

My poem took Third Place in the Milestones Competition (adult section), run by Write Out Loud on behalf of the Milestone Society and judged by Brian Patten (whose anthology, 'The Mersey Sound', co-authored with Roger McGough and Adrian Henri has just marked its 50th anniversary). 

Greg writes that 'the poetry competition was part of a Milestone Society project called Finding The Way', an enterprise concerned with the route of the 1730 Stratford to Long Compton Turnpike. 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

¡Cornucopia! ... The Alde Valley Festival, with Workshop and Readings by Rebecca Goss



A group of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex poets were treated to a workshop and readings by Rebecca Goss this afternoon on the subject of 'making' and 'making with words'.

Rebecca laid out a selection of items on the table, and it was fascinating to hear the fledgling poems at the end because, despite a shared starting point, the new pieces had all found fresh paths or creative processes of their own.


Members of Suffolk Poetry Society were also invited to read short sets on the 'making' theme: here is David (Gill) sharing his poem about my ancestor, a Scottish stone mason from the Cairngorms.

The afternoon included mugs of tea and generous slices of chocolate cake, and we enjoyed visiting the tile-maker, the felt-maker, the stained-glass artist and other 'crafty' practitioners, who were on site as part of the ¡Cornucopia! Alde Valley Festival.

My thanks to all who made this such a rewarding and enjoyable day.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

National Poetry Day, 2017


Wishing everyone 
an inspirational 
National Poetry Day 2017...



The photo above shows members of Suffolk Poetry Society and friends at the Lookout on the beach at Aldeburgh a year ago on National Poetry Day 2016. I wonder how many poems were declaimed from those steps...

Thanks to the generosity of Caroline Wiseman, members of Suffolk Poetry Society will once again be sharing their pieces as I type. The theme this year is 'freedom' and the weather here is set fair. I can't be there this year, but others will be gathering on the foreshore, enjoying the words, the fun, the sea, the fresh air and, of course, the fish and chips... There is always next year. 

If, like me, you enjoy poetry from Aldeburgh, you might be interested in this beautiful book, called  Lookout: Poetry from Aldeburgh Beach, edited by Tamar Yoseloff and produced by Lookout Editions (ISBN 978 0 9956250 0 6). I bought a copy at Snape Maltings a few days ago, and have been lulled and rocked by its waves. The photography is bold, beautiful and in keeping with the collection.

Happy Poetry Day to all!

Here are a few links...

Friday, 22 September 2017

From India to the Fens: Poetry, Prose... and Cuckoos

Lantern Tower, Ely Cathedral, UK
The latest annual edition of Metverse Muse, edited by Dr. H. Tulsi, has just arrived from India. It contains a small selection of my poems, including one about a Cornish mining valley and one set in the very different landscape of the Fens. 

Ship of the Fens rising from the Isle of Ely

I am currently reading a splendid book about the Cuckoos who breed on Wicken Fen. Years ago we lived in a village poised between the edge of Cambridge (on the one hand) and the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens (on the other). Wicken Fen, in the care of the National Trust, was always a favourite haunt, and indeed remains one of our top destinations for a day out, despite the fact we have a bit further to travel these days.

Cuckoo by Nick Davies (Bloomsbury) bears the subtitle 'Cheating by Nature'. It is, in effect, a fascinating detective story, revealing how the Common Cuckoos at Wicken Fen 'cheat' on their Reed Warbler hosts, ensuring that the Cuckoo egg is given the best chance of survival. Nick Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Cambridge, and what I particularly appreciate about the book is the clarity with which Davies writes, enabling those of us without backgrounds in science to journey with him in his discoveries. His enthusiasm is infectious, and although I knew little about Cuckoos at the outset, my eyes are steadily being opened to their strange place in our ecosystem. This is an exquisite book of lucid and compelling prose. The field drawings by James McCallum are a delight. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Celebrations Afoot at Orizont Literar Contemporan (Romania)


With Professor Donald Riggs in Philadelphia, 2011

I was delighted to receive this link today, taking me through to a summary of what has been a truly international rollercoaster of a decade for Daniel Dragomirescu and his colleagues who work tirelessly across languages and genres to produce Orizont Literar Contemporan, the self-styled 'world in a journal'.

This literary magazine, celebrating its 60th issue, has now been in production for ten years, and you have only to read the summary of its history to see how it has evolved, expanded and diversified during this time. There is a huge library of multicultural books and now a Dictionary of writers' biographies.

Thanks to Daniel, Katherine Gallagher and others, I have been associated with the journal for much of its existence. It has been a pleasure to introduce a number of poet friends from Wales and elsewhere through my early Dialoguri interviews, and friends from Suffolk and beyond through other ventures. It has been a wonderful way of making new literary friends, too, from a range of countries.

I am grateful to the teams of translators (see this post by Anne Stewart) who work so hard behind the scenes, ensuring that a poem, for example, can appear in up to three languages, most frequently Romanian, Spanish and English.

Many happy returns to Daniel and his A Team! Here's to the next decade and the next 60+ issues...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Spirit of The Stour Festival - A Poetry Recital


Readers at the Poetry Recital (photo: James Clarke)

Here we all are at the foot of the elegant staircase in the Munnings Museum after the Poetry Recital on the theme of the 'natural world', hosted last night by the museum staff in conjunction with the museum's Poet-in-Residence, Tim Gardiner. 

Poets who took part...
Front row: Matt Annis, Alex Davis, Tim Gardiner (Master of Ceremonies for the evening), Sue Wallace-Shaddad, Alex Toms, Caroline Gill
Middle row: Emily Hasler and Ian Griffiths
Back row: Gerry Donlon, Rebecca Goss, Judith Wolton and David Gill.

Tim introduced each poet who proceeded to read a set lasting about ten minutes. It was a most enjoyable evening. I would like to thank Museum Director, Jenny Hand, and her team for their hospitality and Tim for all the work he put into organising the poetry side of things.   


David Gill taking us to the Inner Hebrides...

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Third Prize in Milestones Competition judged by Brian Patten

The Milestones Competition, organised by WriteOutLoud on behalf of the Milestone Society, was judged by Brian Patten. The results have just been announced, and I am delighted to say that my entry, 'Penwith Finger Stone' gained me Third Prize from a field of over 500 entries. Huge congratulations to my fellow poets who took First and Second Prize, and to the winner of the Under 16s section: their names are listed on the web and you can follow the 'results' link above.

My poem can be found here, together with bio-details etc.

Thank you to Brian Patten, Steve Pottinger, Greg Freeman and all who have been involved with the competition in one way or anther. Thank you, too, to Paul McGrane at The Poetry Society for this press release.

At Zennor Quoit in the 1980s

The milestone I wrote about stands in Penwith, near the coastal village of Zennor, with its 'mermaid chair' in the church and other notable features. The poem, 'Zennor', by Anne Ridler is discussed here, and is among my favourites.

Sadly I do not have a photo of the stone, so I am posting a few of my photos of this magnificent and rugged area between Land's End and St Ives in which it lies. 

At Zennor Church on a rather grey day, about 2001

The legendary Zennor Mermaid with her mirror

A plaque in Zennor Churchyard in recognition of John Davey, speaker of the Cornish language
1737 sundial, Zennor