Poem-a-thon in Enfield
When I was invited by Maggie Butt to read as part of a Poem-a-thon to raise funds to re-settle a Syrian refugee family, we were aiming to raise £4,500. As the project went into top gear, we sailed past that target and wondered if we could raise £9,000 to re-settle two families. Yes, we could, we realised, as we passed that figure comfortably.
The event took place on 1st October at the Dugdale Centre in Enfield, with a star-studded cast, including John Hegley, Mario Petrucci, George Szirtes and many others. There was a book stall, a cake stall, bric-a-brac and tombola, and the room where we were performing was packed throughout the day.
The money is still pouring in, and as we near £13,000, the question arises as to whether we can get to £13,500 and re-settle three families. Many thanks to all the poets, to everyone who sponsored us, to those who bought books, cakes, etc, and most of all to Maggie for her vision, enthusiasm and sheer hard work. What a fantastic project!
Posted 2nd October 2017.
The next excitement is the final conference of the Leverhulme project, Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon, which is being held in Bergen this next week. Seventy or so scholars from universities all over the world are converging on Bergen University, to present and listen to a series of fascinating presentations. I’m delighted that they have given me the opportunity to do a reading and book launch of ‘In the image: Portraits of Mediaeval Women’, which should fit in really well with the theme of the conference. I hope to write a blog about my time in Norway, both before and during the conference, so do have a peep at my blogs in a couple of weeks’ time.
Following publication of my novel, ‘Rapeseed’, in March, a new collection of my poetry was published by Indigo Dreams Pamphlets in April. It’s called ‘In the Image: Portraits of Mediaeval Women’, and will be officially launched at the international conference on ‘Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon’ in Bergen in June. It is a series of poems about various mediaeval women, followed by notes about the women and the poems. The book is available direct from me, or from Indigo Dreams, and costs £6.
My first novel was published in March 2017. It’s the story of a young academic researching the children of rape victims; but the story also covers themes of work/life balance, different sorts of love, obsession, the main character’s search for her father and issues of commitment in a relationship.
The novel was launched during the International Women’s Festival in York. There will also be events at which I’ll be introducing it in the next few months at a Society of Authors lunch, the University of Surrey bookshop, the St Ives Literary Festival and at Ways with Words in Dartington.
The book is published by Stairwell and costs £10.
Abegail Morely posts poems for Christmas on her Poetry Shed website each year, and on December 23rd 2016 she shared my poem ‘Sensing the Stable’, which is the poem I wrote for this year’s Christmas card. I have written a Christmas poem each year for many years, and sometimes they appear on-line. The last one was when Helen Ivory used one of mine on the Ink Sweat & Tears website last year.
The prize-giving for the South Bank Poetry Competition in London was very enjoyable. Mimi Khalvati was the judge, and the launch event of the anthology was organised by Katherine Lockton at City Lit. The standard of the winning poems was high, and I was very happy to be commended for my poem, ‘On landing G3’.
A rather unusual honour was to receive this trophy, the Musikkorps der Stadt Hess Oldendorf cup, at the Silver Band I joined last year. It’s awarded to the player who has made the most progress in the past year – and as I started at such a low level (ie pretty well unable to play a note), my progress has been fairly noticeable. I’m still very much an amateur, but am now even further inspired to practise hard and improve. It was amusing to receive a prize which didn’t involve any writing at all!
I’ve got a number of readings coming up in October: Poetry on the Lake in Orta, Italy; Guildford Book Festival; and two readings for the anthology Poems for Jeremy Corbyn – one in London and one in Oxford. Unfortunately I’ll miss the Broadsheet one in Exeter, and probably the ‘Seven Ages of Woman’ one. It’s all go in Poetryland these days!
I was pleased to be shortlisted in the Paragram Poetry Prize competition.
A poem of mine was one of five commended in the South Bank Poetry competition. Prize-giving in October.
I enjoyed being the guest poet at Open Word on Sunday 28th August at The Grosvenor, High Street, Stockbridge in Hampshire.
I was thrilled to win first prize in this year’s Jack Clemo international poetry competition, with my poem ‘Transition’.
Here’s a picture of me with my prize and trophy.
This spring I was privileged to be part of a delegation of six British Poets to Romania. The other poets were Jeremy Page, Anne Stewart, Maggie Butt, Katherine Gallagher and Peter Philips. We worked with the Masters students at the University of Bucharest each morning, then explored and socialised in the afternoons and evenings. We were treated royally throughout and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
If you’d like to read more about the visit and see some pictures, please visit my blog and scroll down as necessary.