It’s been a few months since my last News update so wanted to let you all know what I’ve been up to during the silence. My job as Literature Officer at the Wordsworth Trust has been keeping me busy.

In April I ran the second Dorothy Wordsworth Festival of Women’s Poetry, once again with the support of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The festival was three days of readings, talks, workshops and panel discussions. Guest poets included Esther Morgan, Vicki Feaver and Ann Gray, and the weekend culminated in a ‘Three Laureates Reading’ with Carol Ann, Liz Lochhead and Gillian Clarke. This year I was able to extend the reach of the Festival with extra funding from South Lakeland District Council, bringing Jane Hirshfield (left) over from the USA as the first Dorothy Wordsworth Festival International Poet in Residence. As well as reading at the Festival, Jane did a number of workshops in schools in Cumbria in the weeks either side of the Festival, and a special schools reading at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal.

The other major project has been the 2012 Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets. Towards the end of last year the Trust was approached by Lady Marks to take over the administration of the Awards from the British Library. It was very late in the day but we managed to bring the Awards to fruition. The winners were announced at a special event at the British Library at the end of June with readings from the shortlisted poets and presentations from the shortlisted publishers. It was a wonderfully warm evening, with Roisin Tierney (for Rack Press’ Dream Endings’) and Smith Doorstop applauded as deserving winners.

With the Cumbria Library service I hosted a special ‘Parnassus on Tour’ event at Kendal Library, with Colmbian poet Raul Hanao and Ethiopian Poet Bewketu Seyoum (right). Bewketu’s poems (with translations by Chris Beckett) were aphoristic, like very short pieces of music, and Raul’s poems were faintly surreal but very much rooted in the everyday. It was a real privilege to present such an event.

This is all addition to the regular programme. Last Tuesday Simon Armitage returned for what has become an Annual Grasmere reading, appearing to a capacity audience at St Oswald's Church. Next week Ruth Padel reads, along with Judy Brown, whose wonderful first collection 'Loudness' was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection last year.

With all this going on, there doesn’t seem to have been so much time for my own poetry, but things have been happening. A new poem of mine was selected for a special anthology of poems about childhood, ‘From Childhood’s Hour’, published by the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Each of the poems is illustrated by an artist local to Ledbury. My contribution is currently Monthly Poem on this blog. I’m among very distinguished company, including Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, and good friends Helen Mort, Martin Figura and Kim Moore.

Another new poem April in Dove Cottage has been selected for a North West Libraries’ project exploring places in the North West. The poem will appear on a poster and a postcard, and I will be appearing at a couple of events in different counties in the North West in the autumn. Once again I’m in distinguished company, including my friend and fellow Flambard poet Rebecca Goss. The poem is actually one part of a longer poem.

I’ve also got a new poem The Duddon Valley, in the anthology ‘Entanglements: New Ecopoetry’ edited by Sharon Blackie and David Knowles and published by Two Ravens Press in October.

I’m arranging a couple of schools visits for October, one in Cumbria and one in Lewes, Sussex. I’ll also be doing an evening reading in Lewes. Full details will appear on my Readings page once I have them.

New poems are steadily accumulating, and I’m just recently starting to think in terms of working towards a third collection. I’m delighted to have been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship and will be going on retreat at Hawthornden Castle in November/December. Breaks from work are very rare for me and I’m hoping to use this time to make real progress on a new manuscript, writing new poems and shaping a collection from what I have.

…and I think that’s about it for now but I’ll try and do a monthly post. Do let me know what you think of this blog, and whether you’d like to see anything else here. You can post a comment or e-mail me (see the Contact page.)

No comments: