It’s almost summer!

Spring has sprung and is green-shooting into summer! The busy hasn’t really let up and now it’s suddenly MAY! I can’t remember everything I’ve been up to since I last checked in but most of it’s been through various Hive happenings including a writers’ day with the brilliant horror writer Simon Bestwick, and fabulous fantasy writer KT Davies, another inspiring young writer’s open mic (that not even Hurricane Doris could halt the turn out for) and a few great new projects in the pipeline including this Wild Poetry anthology project celebrating native UK wild plants, flowers & fungi. With groups I’ve been looking at poems from Alice Oswald’s Weeds and Wild Flowers and Katherine Tower’s The Remedies among other great examples. I so wish I was young enough for this opportunity. I love learning about plants!

The highlight of the last few months (if not the year!), has to be an Arvon Lumb Bank writing residential with 16 young writers. Although I was there as a leader, it was a joy to be in loco parentis to a lovely bunch of talented young things from across the region. They absolutely thrived there, it was a constant watering can of inspiration and seriously good writing pouring out. How could it not be? Great food, breath-taking surroundings, brilliant workshops, cosy bedrooms, talented writing tutors (Peter Sansom and Tiffany Murray), useful feedback and oodles of fun.

I knew it would be a game changer in terms of their writing and how they saw themselves as writers, but for some, like Safia Khan, it was a million year evolution in a week! It’s so lovely to see someone realise 1) they love doing something 2) they are really good at it. For Safia, it’s poetry. Suddenly it’s clicked like nothing has before and I really think she’ll carry on doing something with this new passion in a more serious way. That’s it now, it’s in her bones. I’m proud to have helped lodge it there.

Being there as a group leader, I didn’t expect to get much time to write during the week, but like the young writers, I wrote reams, testament to the workshop skills of Peter and Tiffany. I had planned to edit some poems but I ended up writing several new ones. It was so nice to have time off from leading workshops too, although I love it. And the icing on the cake was the Wednesday visiting writer, the poet Hanna Lowe, who I simply love. The young writers all loved her too. I was so thrilled she had such an effect.

I’ve also been doing some work for Hear My Voice Barnsley, designing 11 books of ace poetry written by primary school students in the Dearne Valley. It was quite a bit of work but they turned out really well. And finally, only recently, I’ve been able to get in the garden again. Oh, the weeds! I’ve normally started by now but the weather wasn’t inviting for a long while, then I got too busy again. All deweeded now though and lovely to be tending to things again and seeing what’s growing. I so love watching things grow and discovering plants I forgot I planted.

Speaking of which, if you know anyone, 14 to 25 in South Yorkshire who writes poetry, loves nature, or wants to give it a go, please send them this link for the Wild Poetry anthology project: deadline 22nd May!

The Dog House at the top of my garden. It used to be…you guessed it…