Seamus Heaney Centre Summer School

Travelling back from this amazing week at Queens University, Belfast, I’m inspired by people and places – I have initiated conversations about poetry and said I’ll write people poems and astonishingly the offer has been received like a gift.

The first one I’ve already posted and the second one is on the way for the kind father in the pink checked shirt on the bumpy flight back to Manchester.

Thank you to fellow students and the astonishing staff for a life-changing experience . I nearly put put poetry-changing but I think that follows.

 

Advertisements

A poem for these glorious girls

Murmuration on the 18.30 to Carmarthen

This little flock flutters in

perches round a table, pecks at nuts

sips a little from their store of green tins

 

they preen the stripy feathers suspended from their ears

flash glue and glitter in silver lightning strikes

swoop gold half-moons across their smooth cheekbones

paint lilac bandit masks around their shining eyes

 

they trill songs of expectation

a dawn chorus firing synapses:

 

that school hall disco half a century back

‘Hi ho silver lining

And away you go now baby’

 

they wonder how far it is to Hereford

staging post on this half-planned migration

from Manchester to Ledbury

 

they say they don’t care about the music

they’re going for a good time at El Dorado.

 

train girls

 

Need a lie down

after such a great time in Doolin – met wonderful poets, fiction writers, journalists, readers readers readers writers writers writers – and now totally understand phrase about great craic. It translates as that crack in time when one minute it’s 1.00am and the open mike session is taking a break and then next it’s 3.45, politics,religions, poetry and fiction have been set to rights and Oh Hell’s Teeth where is the key to the B and B? Though it definitely was neither Ennis nor I who had to spend the rest of one night in a field…..

However this evening lovely friend Chris picked us up, organised celebration with more friends and food then tomorrow (oh today) will take us back to the railway station early for long planned trip to London to see Art and gardens exhibition. Celebration of course because of the honour of my winning Doolin Writers Festival poetry prize. Do feel that South Shropshire should be twinned with County Clare – something about the spirit of places.

Will post poem later – but not yet as have fingers crossed about magazine publication. Will also post pix from Doolin when I can find where I have managed to move them – meanwhile one or two are on the fantastic Wenlock Poetry Festival website as I’m going to be reading there on Saturday and Sunday April 23 and 24.

 

Doolin Writers Festival

I am so excited to be off to County Clare this weekend as I’ve been shortlisted in the Poetry Prize at this festival. The programme looks great and when I looked at the winner from last year I was even more thrilled to be included in this year’s shortlist. Check out last year’s winner on the Doolin Festival website – it’s a wonderful poem, ‘Hearing Red’ by Sarah Byrne.

This has really cheered me up as I have been depressed by what has felt like endless silence in response to the poems I have been sending off. I am also very pleased because the poem, ‘Knitting’, so shocked me when I wrote it that I almost didn’t send it.

I won’t post it here yet as the rules include the usual caveat that the entries must be unpublished, including on line and I’d hate to disqualify myself after being shortlisted!

Revealing….

the title of my new chap book – ‘The Bone Seeker’.

Why is it harder to think of titles than to write poems?  In the end I named this short collection after what I think of as the central poem within it. The phrase, the bone seeker, came from some research about the effects of radiation and is the nickname of Strontium 90, a component of nuclear waste which has a very long half-life. It’s invisible and tasteless but if ingested it gravitates to the bones. It felt like a good metaphor for poems which centre on growing up in an all too nuclear family.

New Year, new poems

Very excited that my first ever chap book is being published this week in Ross Donlon’s  Mark Time imprint. That’s the books there, raring to burst out of their box  in the next few days…..more will be revealed soon. And spot the devoted fan in the background.IMG_20160102_111707266

From Tasmania

Fantastic to be lucky enough to come here – and didn’t even have to steal a hanky to get transported.  Love Sydney,  Love Tasmania and totally excited that tomorrow going to stay with acclaimed Aussie poet Ross Donlon! Can’t wait.

Late night visitors from churchyard

On locking the next door church tonight startled to find two donkeys browsing – very happy to be able to return them to their lovely tearoom home (Rocke Cottage). Lucky and Denzil are rescues so here, for their kind owner, is my donkey poem written after a visit to another rescue donkey:

Donkey

‘Dusty is 18 years old and worried about his weight so please could you not feed him. Dusty was a seaside donkey at Weston-Super-Mare which is why he has a number on his back.’

 

Arse end to the visitors he stands,

one depressed donkey.   He half turns his head,

and through his whiskers whispers:

‘I miss the sea, the hiss and sucking sound,

I miss treading sand wet with rain, miss

the company of other asses, chances

to steal  ice cream and salty chips.

I miss the chance to make

hard-heeled children

squeal. I am 96,

named on my

flank under

the cross

I bear.’

He rubs his stubbly neck against the rail,

slightly lifts his ragged tail and delivers

one   two    three    four ……… five

steaming spheres.           Such eloquence.