Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Going Global on World Poetry Day, 2018

Happy World Poetry Day, 2018

The image above shows a previous package from India, but a similar one (practically identical but with different stamps) arrived yesterday, containing a contributor's copy of the Golden Jubilee issue of Metverse Muse, an international poetry journal edited by Dr. H. Tulsi. It is always a joy to read poems from different parts of the world and to feel connected in this way. Most issues have offered a Fixed Form challenge: the last one was for a Burns Stanza, a form of Scottish origin, and the new challenge is for a Terza Rima, a form that developed in Italy. 
And this, for me, is one of the joys of poetry, that there are countless influences, methods, techniques and forms (see here for example: I contributed three poems to this Handbook from Lewis Putnam Turco in the USA), spanning not only the centuries but also the globe. 
There is much talk in the present climate about letting down the proverbial portcullis, but poetry enables us to see new vistas through the eyes of another. It encourages us to lower the drawbridge instead, allowing literary influences to flow and circulate. I feel this is particularly important at the present time.
Back in the days when the internet was considered a fledgling phenomenon, I remember starting out one year with a fresh goal. I wanted to have a poem published in an international journal. Since then I have had the privilege of collaborating, albeit mostly in small ways, with poets and editors in Romania, Australia, the Netherlands, USA, Italy and Slovenia, to name but a selection of countries. Most collaborations or communications have been via the internet, but occasionally I have had the privilege of enjoying a face-to-face meeting. 
One such occasion was the launch of the chapbook I co-authored with North American poet, John Dotson. It was arranged by our publisher, Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry, at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace, 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, in Swansea. John was over from the USA, and we were able to read our poems together. 

Publisher: The Seventh Quarry (Wales) with Cross-Cultural Communications (New York) 

Another of my multicultural forays in the name of poetry occurred when I was invited to conduct an interview in Philadelphia with Donald Riggs, Teaching Professor of English from Drexel University for Orizont Literar Contemporan, Daniel Dragomirescu's international literary journal from Romania. While I was in Philadelphia, I was also able to spend a day with fellow poet, Kay Weeks. We have collaborated on one or two poetry and art projects, including a charity one, Blossoms of Hope.

with Don Riggs in Philadelphia

A year ago Jongo Park, a visual artist from Seoul, South Korea, supplied a painting of a mermaid as a poetry prompt for me. The paired picture and poem were published in an eBook anthology produced by Italian poet, Lidia Chiarelli of Immagine&Poesia, alongside 94 other contributions from 5 continents and 35 countries. You can download this free eBook (Volume 4) from this site
In these uncertain times, it seems particularly important to celebrate our global community of poets and the immense joie de vivre that this ancient art can bring to the modern world.
And if you are wondering why the top photo is not of the actual parcel that arrived yesterday, well, in my haste to preserve the Indian stamps for the work of TLM (The Leprosy Mission), I made rather a mess of the packaging!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

'Towards the light', a new poetry anthology on 'reconciliation'

There are a number of artistic projects commemorating the end of the First World War, and this book, Towards the light, represents one that is particularly close to my heart.

Pam Job and Judith Wolton embarked on a poetry enterprise that would lead to the production of two anthologies, one on conflict (so too have the doves gone) at the beginning of the commemorative period, and now this one on reconciliation to mark the end of the hostilities.

Sadly the snow meant that a number of us had to miss the launch at the Essex Book Festival, but there will be other events as the year goes by.

Poets who had been involved in the initial anthology project were invited to submit work for the second. Editor, Vivien Whelpton, selected my acrostic poem, 'Et in terra pax', about the surreal yet hopeful time when strains of 'Adeste fidelis' rang out across No Man's Land.

The new anthology, published by Kapaju Books (2018), sports a cover design by Karen Dennison. It includes a Preface by the editor, who writes that...

'Vivid metaphors bring home to us both the pain and difficulty of reconciliation and the joy it brings...'

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Nadia Kingsley's 'Diversifly' Project

I wrote a piece on wild birds in an urban environment some months ago for Nadia Kingsley's Fair Acre site, with her DIVERSIFLY project in mind.

I have just found my piece on Nadia's 15th DIVERSIFLY blog post, and while it was actually uploaded back in August, my discovery this week that it is up there coincides with the publication on 8 February 2018 of Nadia's latest publication,  

DIVERSIFLY – Poetry and Art on Britain’s Urban Birds 
A Poetry and Art Anthology ISBN 978-1-911048-26-8 
Available here on the Fair Acre website.

Sadly I failed to complete the poem I hoped to submit (my holiday departure date caught up with me...), but I much look forward to seeing the work sent in by the 83 contributors whose submissions were selected. 

I would highly recommend Nadia's DIVERSIFLY interview podcast with David Morley, whose compelling collection, The Gypsy and the Poet, sent me off in search of John Clare's Helpston home.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust Poetry Competition Event

I am just back from the Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust Poetry Competition (SFPT). Many congratulations to Tim Gardiner for winning the £50 adult prize in the SFPT Poetry Competition on the theme of the aquatic life in the Fromus Valley Nature Reserve. Lord Cranbrook hosted the event at Kelsale Village Hall this afternoon.

Tim's poem, along with three other commended entries including my own (about the Wandering Snail, Lymnaea peregra aka Radix peregra), will feature in the Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust's 2018 Adult Education volume on the reserves at Simpson's Fromus Valley and Orchid Glade. The judges were Kaaren Whitney, Poet-in-Residence for the reserves, and Suffolk Poetry Society Chair, Florence Cox. Sue Wallace-Shaddad and Sue Nobbs also read their poems to the enthusiastic audience. It was a real pleasure, too, to hear the winning and commended poems written by those who had entered the young people's section of the competition. 

Friday, 22 December 2017

Christmas Greetings

(My thanks to David for posing)

...And if you do, this next photo shows the scene that awaits you on the inside of Tranmer House (at Sutton Hoo)...

Mouse inside Tranmer House, home of Mrs Pretty on the Sutton Hoo estate.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...'
Clement Clarke Moore 

You might like to click here to see the sheep Tranmer House

Snow, Suffolk, December 2017

Monday, 6 November 2017

Poetry in Aldeburgh, 2017... and 'Herrings', the Festival Anthology

'I hear those voices that will not be drowned...' (from 'Peter Grimes', Britten) on The Scallop (Hambling)

Poetry in Aldeburgh took place this last weekend, with The Poetry School as the festival's headline partner. There were poetry workshops on the Friday afternoon, followed over the weekend by readings, presentations and collaborations of various kinds. There were walks along the beach, gatherings of friends, books to buy, swarming gulls and, of course, the essential whiff of fish and chips along the Crag Path.

A year ago I was sitting in the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout during the previous festival, enjoying Anne-Marie Fyfe's excellent workshop about the sea, when she told us that there would be a Poetry in Aldeburgh anthology called Herrings, and that we could submit our festival poems.

Fast forward twelve months, and Herrings has not only taken shape as an ocean-blue hardback, thanks to Nancy Warburg Astor and Andrew Hewish, but has now been launched. It has been produced and published by Blue Door Press; and contains 100+ poems, each written by a different poet as a snapshot, not only of Aldeburgh in 2016, but also of the festival itself. 

Internationally renowned and novice poets alike are represented in the volume. It is lovely to have my poem, 'Treasure Hulk', in such diverse company; and thanks are due to all those who created the book and organised the festival. The contributions to Herrings reflect festival visits to, and visions of, this seaside town that owes so much not only to the ocean and its bounty, but also to the influences of artists of various kinds such as Crabbe, Britten, Pears and Hambling.

My haul, Poetry in Aldeburgh, 2017

Herrings, the anthology

The Aldeburgh Beach Lookout

Dusk descends

Looking north



Essential sustenance...

Monday, 30 October 2017

Winning Poem in Disability Arts Cymru 2016 iBook

More than just... 'A Drop in the Ocean'

The staff at Disability Arts Cymru have produced an iBook of poems that rose to the top in their 2016 competition. Many of us selected a piece of artwork from the organisation's art contest as inspiration, though we were also offered the theme of austerity/extravagance.

My poem, 'A Drop in the Ocean', which was awarded First Prize, was inspired by 'Shoreline Symphonies' by Eileen Harrisson. You will see Eileen's picture if you download the pdf.