Saturday, 30 October 2010

Finding Inspiration

The Saturday poem in the Guardian today is Monte Baldo by Annie Freud. (Women - 12, Men - 27).
I like Annie Freud's poetry, it is sensuous and mysterious. I feel both unsettled and comforted by her direct style and rich poems which also inspire me to go away and write. Thanks, Annie.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Self doubt, writing, swimming...

The last couple of nights I've had dreams about my novel, anxiety dreams which seem to be trying to convince me that this novel in a month lark is too silly for words and too difficult,  so just pack it in...
To write 1700 words a day for 30 days I think I'll just (!) have to start getting up earlier, say at 6 o'clock, to get an hour in before the day gets going...
And I recognise that treacherous process - exactly the same as when I face some new stretch of cold water, anxiety and self doubt creep up...the only way through is to lower myself in and silence the voice by swimming...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Perils of the Modern World

The last twenty-four hours have been a bit nightmarish as a spammer hacked my email account and sent a bogus email to everyone in my contact list. Concerned friends and family have rallied to my aid, many believing me to be mugged in Spain...
As we attempt to make things secure again, I've been trying to work out how they got me - was it because I registered with nanowrimo? Funny how everything takes on a sinister look.....Was my address selected at random? Whatever it was, it's a mess and very annoying. And it's knocked me off my stride for writing. But as my daughter said - 'Are you just looking for an excuse to get out of writing the novel in November, Mum?'
Hmmm maybe...

Saturday, 23 October 2010


At the side of the blog in the little description of myself, I casually mention how I 'plan the novel'. 
A couple of years ago I had what I consider to be a good idea for a novel. The working title was Yummy Mummy (now a bit out of date as a concept, I fear) and I'd worked out a fair bit of the plot and characterisation etc etc. Since starting the blog, my poetry (and swimming) have come on a treat, but the novel is languishing in an unvisited dungeon of my mac.

Reading Michael Farry's blog this morning I became aware of National Novel Writing Month. What a fantastic, mad idea!! One month to write a 50,000 word novel, where quantity and not quality is absolutely the name of the game! No time for editing, just bang out a draft and if it's done by midnight on 30 November, then you are a WINNER! All of the publicity for it is fun, fun, fun! To sign up, you have to be over 13!!! That alone makes me want to register, if a 13-year-old can do it, then why not me?

So, I've got 7 days to unlock the dungeon, dust off the document, generally limber up and make my way to the starting blocks for 1 November. Anyone else care to join in ?!!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Present

Here is Simon Armitage's Keats-Shelley prize-winning poem .

Friday, 15 October 2010

Season's End

First thing next Saturday (23 October) Salford watersports centre runs the last open water swim of this season. Today the water temperature is 16.5 - 2 degrees warmer than when we swam there three weeks ago, so I think we'll nip down and do a couple of laps to bid farewell till April...which, sadly, seems a long way off, now that the days are getting shorter...
The session takes place in Ontario Basin. I found this beautiful poem that references the two great lakes that the other basins at Salford are named after. Up above is the bridge where one basin runs into the other.

The Huron

I swam the Huron of love, and am not ashamed,
It was many saw me do it, scoffing, scoffing,
They said it was foolish, winter and all,
But I dove in, greaselike, and swam,
And came up where Erie verges.
I would say for the expenditure of love,
And the atrophy of longing, there is no cure
So swift, so sleek, so fine, so draining
As a swim through the Huron in the wintertime.

from Women's Work: Modern Women Poets Writing In English ed. Eva Salzman & Amy Wack, Seren

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Swoony Simon Strikes Again

I've just read on the Guardian website that Simon Armitage has won the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize. Congratulations and well done! The prize is awarded for a poem which is romantically inspired and has modern relevance.  Simon's poem - The Present - will appear in the the Review section of the paper on Saturday. I'm looking forward to it!
Which brings me once again to my little research project - if this poem features as the Saturday Poem (likely), the running total for this year so far will be female poets 11, male poets 27. Which means that even if poems by women  feature every week from next week till the end of the year (unlikely), the final total will be women 21, men 26. Hmm I think I'll open a book and start taking bets...

Friday, 8 October 2010

World Egg Day

Still Life With Seven Eggs
Listening to Shaun Keaveny on 6Music this morning, I learnt that today is World Egg Day. What an important thing the egg is, what an iconic image
We have seven hens and get a couple of eggs each day (see above!), they're delicious! 
The girls don't look in top condition at the moment as we've had an ongoing problem with redmite. So serious, in fact, that last month we got rid of the cosy little wooden house that harboured the critters in all its nooks and crannies 

and picked up a couple of secondhand eglus from ebay to replace it. I wish we'd had this type of accommodation from the start. 
Hens and eggs get into our poetry consciousness right at the beginning:

Higgledy piggledy my black hen
She lays eggs for gentlemen
Gentlemen come every day
To see what my black hen doth lay
Sometimes nine and sometimes ten
Higgledy piggledy my black hen.

I found another poem by Michael Laskey, this time on the subject of eggs. He is such a good poet.

A Tray of Eggs
It's not the hens that matter,
scratching among the nettle
roots at the orchard's edge,
though much might be made of their red
foppish cockscombs, their speckled
feathers overlapping and the stutter
of their daft, deft pecking.

Nor is it the road pedalled 
by heart to the farm, the known 
fields never the same,
turning from a greenness to grain,
revolving, resolving into rows
of straight seedlings, stubble
burnt or interred under furrows.

Not even the ride shared
with my two-year-old child, astride
the crossbar, breathing the blown
scents he's making his own
unknowingly, being alive
to vibrations of place this admired
Ford tractor amplifies.

But what counts more than these small
pleasures are the eggs we bring home
in boxes and softly transpose
into the bevelled holes
in the cardboard tray, the domes
of these thirty shells
that will break like the days to come.

Michael Laskey
from Being Alive (ed. Neil Astley, Bloodaxe)

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Poetry Workshop...again!

Well, peeps - did you get one in to Colette Bryce's workshop about names? I did! (That is - I wrote one and sent it in - dunno if she's going to comment on it...)
And here's a new workshop challenge from Katharine Towers about FURNITURE.
Hmmm...this could be where's my pencil.....down the side of this armchair? Oh, there's a thought....
Poems in by 17 October.

National Poetry Day 2010

when all is said and done
what counts is having someone
you can phone at five to ask

for the immersion heater
to be switched to 'bath'
and the pizza taken from the deepfreeze

Dennis O'Driscoll
from Being Alive (Bloodaxe, ed Neil Astley)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Wouldn't It Be Nice...

I do love that song
and it's October, almost time for the Bermuda Round the Sound swim that I mentioned here last year. Maybe one of these years we'll just grab the chance to join in

Sun through Clouds

Still miserable, but as the sun has come out for a change, I will get up and go, not to Innisfree, but to dig the garden.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

W.B. Yeats

(picture is of Cardigan Bay, not Sligo)