Inventory of Small Pleasures (poem)

A while back, I mentioned I’d been asked to write a poem for the Small Pleasures project with Dina Sheffield. Along with 9 other poets, and 10 artists, this is the result of our creative doings:, a wonderful range of work exploring all things small and pleasurable during lockdown. As mine is quite long on the page, I’ve recorded an audio version here (so it’s accessible to my mum!) and anyone else who wants to listen. Thanks again to Jemima, Evelyn and all at Dina for the opportunity to turn something of lockdown into art!

Our Rotherham film poem commission

I’m so proud to have written this poem with Rotherham Young Writers celebrating Rotherham for Yorkshire Day 2020 commissioned by RMBC. And that it’s been made into a film by the brilliant John Slemenek at Studio Bokehgo.

The poem came together through poetry workshopping and note gathering with Rotherham Young Writers, and such were the reams everyone had to say about it, the full version of the poem (hopefully to be recorded soon!) was twice as long as what was possible for the film.

It’s been so lovely to see the emotional responses to the film and the pride people feel for Rotherham that’s reflected so beautifully in it. In recent years, it’s had a lot of bad press weighing it down, but it’s such an amazing town and people, with, as the poem says, so much heritage and natural beauty. Rotherham Young Writers and I are very proud to have represented it.

Thanks to RMBC Events team: Jane, Sarah and all for working with our vision for this poem and trusting us to do Rotherham proud!
We also must thank: Emma Sharpe (REMA), Jen Booth, Tair Rafiq and Karen Eynon for letting us pick their brains!

Small Pleasures

July news! – I’m delighted to have poems forthcoming in two poetry anthologies with Fly on the Wall Press and Fragmented Voices, about, of all things, Manchester and… love! I’m also 1 of 10 poets who’ve also been commissioned to write a poem for Dina Sheffield’s Small Pleasures project happening through July. You can find out more here.

Gladstone’s Reading

Quick update to say I’ve just spotted this recording of me reading at Gladstone’s Library in Feb! Thanks to the lovely Jannat at Poetry Wales.

Write Where We Are Now

So happy to be part of such a fab poetic document of our times via Carol Ann Duffy’s Write Where We Are Now project.

Via Manchester Met University the project is a poetic document of our pandemic times via date and place logged poems from an amazing array of emerging and established poets. One of my favourite poets, Billy Collins is even there!  

Trust me, when Carol Ann emailed me saying she wanted my poem for the project I was buzzing!  Check out a wide range of really brilliant work from all over the world.

My poem, Wish You Were Here
Write Where We Are Now website
Twitter handles:  #WWWAN @McrWritingSchl 

Georgie & Lauren win the New Poets Prize

I’m so very blooming chuffed to say Hive young writers – Georgie Woodhead & Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith are two of four winners of the 2020 New Poets Prize!

It’s been an absolute honour to mentor Georgie & Lauren these last few years and hear their voices develop. I’m very, very proud of what they’ve achieved through Hive. Who says we don’t have young poetry talent in the North (a poetry editor told me recently ‘it’s all in London’). Not true!

And wait until you read them! Georgie is only 17 (the youngest you can be to enter the prize) and Lauren 18. I’m so excited for them. Both will have their debut pamphlets Takeaway (GW) & Ugly Bird (LHS) published with The Poetry Business in 2021!

Huge Congrats also to Gboyega Odubanjo and Lucy Holt the other two winners!

Mother’s Milk Prize

It’s been a while! And since I last blogged, the world has become a very different and difficult place in so many ways. It’s still hard to fully digest the enormity of it all, even weeks after lockdown started in the UK. I’m running workshops online as the new normal, keeping busy, and being thankful for everything I have right now.

As it is for everyone, the worry keeps seeping in though. It’s a daily job for all of us to try and prevent it from flooding in too much. I’ve also recently been told I’m possibly higher risk by the shielding team due to issues I had during cancer treatment. In some ways, I’m reminded of that year a lot (2015), the way everything feels like a strange parallel bubble to normal life.

Anyway, I digress. Just an update with some good news – I’m delighted to be a runner up in the Mother’s Milk Prize for my poem Walk by the Thames.  It was a difficult poem to write and I was never sure about writing it. Thank you Mother’s Milk Books and judges Ruth Aylett & Beth McDonough for the lovely comments:

Essentially, although all the poems chosen are very different from one another, what they all share is a commitment not only to their story, but to language and to the discipline of poetry. Those standing out from the others showed evidence of not only writing but of careful reading of poetry. Each of them found an unexpected way into the subject. ‘Walk by the Thames’, which came from a different, but equally, unpredictable place, controlled its narrative and pace beautifully in quatrains. What a fabulous final line.

This was a lovely boost! I’ve also not blogged since my Poetry Wales reading at Gladstone’s Library, which was such a lovely night, and since seeing my double spread in The Rialto, two poems about journeys to and from the sea. One dark, one light! Thank you to both for publishing my work.

Anyway, I hope this finds you safe and well, reader. All best to you, and to us all, and let’s hope the world looks brighter soon.

Gladstone’s Library reading

Welcome 2020! It’s been such a lovely bright day this January day. It feels like spring’s around the corner! I’ve a lot of creative stuff to celebrate and look forward at the moment and I just want to acknowledge my gratitude (even if it is just to myself on my rarely read blog!)

I’m particularly looking forward to reading in February at the amazing Gladstone’s Library with Poetry Wales. It’s a beautiful listed building, library and writing retreat/hotel in Flintshire, north-east Wales. I’m going to see my mum and some poetry friends at the same time too. I wish we could stay at the actual library because it’s sooo amazing! (see photos!)

Details here, should you be in the area 🙂

Winter greetings…

Where has the autumn gone?! So many happenings, so little time to keep up with it all! Just thought I’d check in as it’s been a while. I will hopefully do a round-up of the year post before 2020 (which sounds odd and space-aged!)

In the meantime, I have to give thanks. 2019 hasn’t been a bad year for me and creativity and the things I love so I’m giving thanks and recognition, and hoping the good fortune will stay a while longer.  And to top it off, I’ve not long had poems accepted for The Rialto and Poetry Wales so I’m very chuffed about that!

Recently I was in London for an Arvon Jerwood get together and a bit of writing stuff. And I got to see a few old friends too that I rarely see so that was very nourishing.

Election results are just in and there’s a lot of sadness and despair around. I really hope we can find our way to a better place in 2020.

However you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) this time of year, I hope you’re with loved ones or, if you prefer, enjoying your solitude. All best and for the new year ahead.

Hello October!

Just a quick early October post to say – I’m so pleased to be recognised at the South Yorkshire & North Derbyshire BBC Community Champion Awards 2019 along with so many inspiring people and organisations. A salute to fellow creative category winners, Rachel Horne & Sherri Wood, both flying the flag for Doncaster.

I’m also very excited to have some poems accepted for Poetry Wales! Always a great feeling when poems find a home. As I was born and bred in North Wales and both poems are about my childhood there, that’s a mighty lovely thing.

I’m also over the moon for two young writers I mentor – Georgie Woodhead and Lauren Hollingsworth Smith. Lauren is a recent winner of the Young Northern Writers Award and has just last week won Foyle Young Poet of the Year with this belter of a poem.  And Georgie, at the tender age of just 16 (!) has won first place in the BBC Young Writers Awards! You can listen to her amazing story in the link. I’m blown away by their talent. Heaven knows what they are going to be up to in a few year’s time!