Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3

In my previous posting on 8th September 2016 I was waiting to hear about a fairy tale/fantasy submission. Delighted to say the story, The Daughter with Indigo Eyes is to be published by Mothers Milk Books and the launch of this collection, with its "dark and fantastical tales", is this coming Saturday evening, March 18th, in Nottingham. All being well (that is, my being well) I shall be reading an excerpt, along with other fantastical authors.
A great cover, by Georgie St Clair.
If you're quick you can get £2 off a pre-order here!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Poetry in print

A poem of mine, centred around a historical massacre in York, appears in The North (issue 56), a journal I subscribe to and which is highly regarded in the poetry world. It will be my first poetry print publication. Look for Seeing Bluebells beneath Clifford's Tower, York. (You can see the first few lines of this on my April 25th post)

Writing prose has also continued.  I await with bated breath the result of a submission to Mothers Milk Books, an independent UK press who have already published two great short story collections entitled The Forgotten and the Fantastical.  Quite used to rejections - and see them as a mark of my continuing to write, and write more - I have high hopes of this one, the first time I have tried a modern fairy tale!

Harvesting this summer has not taken up much of my time, the summer being so on and off - the weather that is. Runner beans, gooseberries and young raspberry plants have yielded little.  Only the previously mentioned blackcurrants were undaunted by the late frost. At least this year I've had the pleasure of seeing the ornamentals flourish, giving more colour. Cut flowers are the plan for next season.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Meditating with blackcurrants

Writing poetry, or prose, is like a meditation for me.  So is topping and tailing blackcurrants, this year's harvest, all 1.2 kg of them.  Yes it is a chore - now I know why my mother gave me this job, and podding peas, when I was a child.  But it has its rewards too.  The picking was not so meditative, more a pain in the back!  Anyway here they are.  First in the trug.  Then half of them ready to be frozen in the open.  Blackcurrant cordial is the plan sometime in the future.

Monday, 6 June 2016

'Jebel Marra' short story collecction

Darfur shown in green

At last weekend's Northern Short Story Festival in Leeds, as well as a plethora of workshops and events, Comma Press had a stall so I immediately bought a copy of the new collection by Michelle Green, Jebel MarraSo far I'm into the second story - all of them set in Dafur where she spent time as an aid worker - and would recommend them.
So I was pleased to read just now that Michelle has been awarded the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

I will be leaving

I will be leaving a war home,
battles played out under the carpet
creating breakers for us all so
chopping off a salty sea
I will be the first to leave,

leave nothing but the boyfriend,
my young brother, discarding mother
and father, past their sell-by date
for a sixteen year old.  I don’t know
all this at the time, I just feel it all.

I will take my haircut, my pink lipstick
my fear, my tears.  It will be nothing
like home; nothing is what I know.
The future is a small pinprick, a large
sky filled with snaky rainbows, a crowd
of girls wearing transparent cloaks
waiting for other outfits to be revealed.

Using the prompt of leaving home from NaPoWriMo this is a raw effort, thrown together quickly.  It's late evening now and this is my leave-taking of the challenge to write a poem a day.  And what a challenge, and what an immersion in living with poetry.  I've had a wild time here sitting at my laptop, and I'm hoping I can glean some stalks to weave into future poems.

Friday, 29 April 2016


Hong Kong harbour 1979

sitting high and mighty on my dad’s shoulder
age 5, punished shamed in the middle of the classroom
seeing my baby brother at the hospital, my father saying What big feet!
                                                            wondering if that was polite
bursting the biggest bubbles with a finger

an American accent on the black telephone then being sent upstairs
my first sight of rubber flip-flops on deck at Aden
tumbling about, feeling green, in a plane in a Taiwan sky
the humid diesel home-smell of  the harbour

the Bolton miner’s son at the university disco
my father asking: Does university teach you to be ladylike?

the brass band broadcasting our anti-Gulf War demo
my blistered feet squeezed tight into cheap boots on high moors
the rock-hard gentle brother’s voice at the door

my son taking his first steps for the childminder
my mother’s cold forehead never to be warm again
a chrysanthemum orgasm spent

Starting with a prompt of 'I remember' and a list, this is today's draft poem for my April poem a day challenge, inspired by NaPoWriMo.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A fish tale

The return journey for pollock

She’s in bits with coriander, cumin, glaring turmeric
sharing space with ginger, coconut and garlic
From cool to freezing in plastic wrapper
hidden behind snapper, old Cheddar cheese.

Left for two minutes and the cat was sniffing ...

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The freedom of words

Lucky me

I could write a jeremiad about sea slugs, the colour brown in polyester
I could write yawning, of freezing rain, modern jazz, cars racing
I could write only of foolish acts, blue finger ends, wounds that fester
I could write querulous words spitting and hissing and grating
I could write on posters of white ermine, dead animals and might
I could write of rasping old black boards, smudged banda ink, nylon electrics
I could write, bomb blasts unheeded, neglecting the bees and the crops

I could write about spinach and potato curry, smooth yoghurt, a single chime
I could write listening to Summertime, its thousands of versions, 
                                                                                      the best sung by my brother
I could write watching the creased eyes of Julie Walters, and I’d smile too
I could write standing in warm rain, inhaling diesel like an eastern perfume
I could write in a vision of purple and glittering earrings
I can write and mostly my words are not censored.

The NaPoWriMo prompt was to write in longer lines.  And some ideas sprang from a class back in 2012 about things that I like and dislike, a list poem. I hope you've enjoyed reading this draft.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016



What is clay for?
Nourishing soil cast by hands
into an echoing pot.

Where can we find clay?
Thick lumps broken by sand
for garden parsnips.

How deep does clay go? 
How deep can we dig till 
clay gives way to stone, 
to liquid fire.

The prompt today was from NaPoWriMo, uisng call and response.  Then I looked back at a draft written in class in May 2014.  The prompt in class was clay.
This is still in draft form, to be worked on later.

Monday, 25 April 2016

On seeing bluebells

On seeing bluebells beneath Clifford’s Tower, York

there are definitely    one hundred and fifty Jews
bluebells, oaks, sandwiches       at night seeking protection

sunlight on cut wheat       on this site in the royal castle

Inspired again by an exercise of Helen Mort, putting together two contrasting pieces of poetry. This is just the beginning.
York is a lovely city, I know, I spent over three years there as a university student back in the 60s.  One of its commanding sites is Clifford's Tower (see pic below), a round stone keep once part of a much bigger castle, but with a particularly cruel incident in its history that took place on the eve of a special shabbat in the spring of 1190.  So the poem is about that, and about a childhood memory which also took place in a village near York where I spent childhood summer holidays at the farm where my mother came from.  Of course bigotry-inspired killings continue to happen - only today I heard of gay activists being killed in Bangladesh, and people seeking refuge from war or persecution in the UK are demonised. Physical attacks increase on Jews, Muslims, minorities.

With thanks to Michael Clarke for the use of
his bluebell photos (which I have manipulated)