On Not Being Everyone’s Cup of Tea

gold kettle pouring hot water on cup of tea
Photo by NIKOLAY OSMACHKO on Pexels.com

It’s a funny old business, this poetry lark. This week I finally managed to finish the manuscript and submit it to the publishers in the hope that they will be happy and want to publish it. They did have a previous draft but have been very patient waiting for me to re-submit whilst I re wrote it three times and agonised over it. That’s the thing about this one, it’s different from the other collections. Whilst I’ve danced around my experiences in previous collections, this one is unashamedly personal (and yet I feel ashamed) I couldn’t help but write this one. It changed so many times I lost track, it changed because it is very much a part of my grieving and acceptance process. I feel like I shouldn’t say that it is cathartic, or that it was therapeutic. We frown on that sort of poetry. God forgive anyone that uses the language of emotion to talk openly about emotion.

I know full well that I am not everybody’s cup of tea, and it’s thrown me into a bit of a period of self doubt. Several times I’ve almost stopped writing this one because it is very honest, vey raw, very openly painful. I know very well that some of my poet friends don’t think I should be writing in this way for one reason or another. Some of them because they think it makes me too vulnerable to being hurt (As I say, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and some people are quite vocal in letting me know, worse I think, are the one’s who have previously shone great big lovely lights on you, only to switch them off when they found someone better to like) and some because they think that what I write is self pitying, or whining or navel gazing. Lots of people prefer ‘look at this’ poetry than ‘look at me’ poetry. But I think they can be the same thing.

A bit about the now named (I won’t tell you what it’s called yet as I might change my mind) collection: It’s very much a look at how the body of a woman never really belongs to that woman. How right from being a child we are siphoned into roles, and how right from the start we are expected to alter our behaviour in order to prevent ourselves from being physically and emotionally damaged. It’s about my own relationship with my body, which has never been good, and about low self esteem and how that manifests itself, and about how this changed through infertility,  IVF and pregnancy and then the loss of my daughter and how I have come to re-learn my own body as belonging to me, and not something that any other person can use against me. It’s very much ‘look at me’ because ‘me’ is the experience of many, many, many other women, which sort of makes it a bit ‘look at that’ too. A lot of it is about the experience of motherhood that is infertility and baby loss, because stillbirth, miscarriage and infertility are experiences of motherhood and not separate from it. We live in a society that is frightened to talk about death, and also doesn’t like talking about anything negative where motherhood is concerned, which mean us un-mothers and (space here for the experience of losing a child which oddly doesn’t even have a bloody name-not widow, not orphan, just NOTHING) we don’t get to talk about it much. We don’t get to talk about the good stuff, we don’t get to talk about the bad stuff. You know what happens when pain is contained and not allowed to come out in words? It comes out in self harm, substance abuse and depression. It’s really really important that people are allowed to talk about their experiences. And it’s important that their experiences are acknowledged.

Having said all that, I have had some very positive responses from people so far too. Lots of people offering to read the poems when I have been in a conundrum about how dark they are, how visceral and bloody and open and raw they are. I took some of the darker, more biologically visceral poems to a reading I attended recently. (It’s always a good idea to test new stuff you’re unsure of out on a live audience as it gives an indication of where they are losing interest or where they have lost the thread, invaluable for editing when you are far too close to the subject matter.) This was at the rather wonderful Puzzle hall poets where I have read several times before. It’s run by Bob Horne and John Foggin. I love this event and always feel so welcomed, especially by Bob who goes out of his way to email with directions, and ensure that my husband is well stocked with beer! The open mic is always top quality, and even though I have to set off before it’s over, I never feel that I have flown in and flown out entirely missing everything as it’s so well organised. It’s a fair trek, about a five hour round trip but worth it for the warmth of the audience. I chose to read those poems there so that I could gauge the reaction of a real live audience. The poems went down well and I had good, positive comments afterwards.

I was really nervous about it, so it was such a relief and really reassuring and a great kindness when Bob emailed the next day to let me know how well the poems had been received and how nicely people had talked about them afterwards. I know, as I have said, that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, so small kindnesses are so welcome and reassuring. There is nothing worse than attending an event and opening your heart in the form of bloody, bleeding poems about your dead child, only to face a tumbleweed of silence. Not being the cup of tea that people want is hard, but hey, not everyone even like’s tea at all, and some people drink god awful instant coffee and wax lyrical about it.

Anyway, that was the thing that made me kick myself in the bum, stop procrastinating and get those poems off, finally. However, the ‘not being the right cup of tea’ thing, when the tea your offering people is made up of everything that’s formed your own low self esteem for your whole life, it’s a hard thing to deal with and I feel that this collection of magical, mythical, realist, lyrical, brutal, sweary, biologically graphic, loving and mental poems has been somewhat emotionally taxing so I’m trying very hard not to be on social media at the minute because my skin is very thin. I find myself comparing likes or comments or messages with other people who are the right cup of tea, or appear to be,  in my fragile little head. I am glad that I reach out and I am glad that I make myself vulnerable and talk about my experiences, that will never change, but it doesn’t stop it being very difficult to do, and quite painful. But poetry should have truth in it, and I am not going to have my mouth sewn up by anyone.

Hopefully next week I’ll be just getting on with getting on. I already have my next two projects lined up and I am excited to NOT be writing about myself for a change and sinking back into Bronte love for a bit.

Don’t forget I’m still taking bookings for the new Course and although it is almost three quarters full now, I do still have places.

Thank you for reading to the end of this no doubt navel gazing, self absorbed and self pitying rant, I’ll catch up with you next week when it will all be about rainbows and unicorns I imagine.

 

x

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Now Taking Bookings for My New Online Course: Season of Mists

You’ll be glad to know I survived the Great North Run, and it was marvellous but right now I can’t get up and down the stairs without swearing. Thank you so much for the donations, you are all utterly wonderful and you have helped to save babies lives, which is just an incredible thing. I’ll blog more on the GNR another time, along with some other bits and pieces (readings, books etc) but today I’m talking about the new course for which I am now taking bookings! See this page for how to secure your place: Season of Mist

Ah, autumn. It’s almost upon us, we’ve got the darker nights and the turning leaves, the elderberries just waiting to be made into wine and the sloes just waiting to be made into sloe gin (bit of a theme emerging here) but it’s still riding on the tail end of summer. It’s a strange time of year, after the buzz and flurry of constant bird song, fledglings, flowers, crops, and sunshine it’s almost a sheer drop when we find that it’s dark by 7pm, and it’s raining and you wake up to the sound of the heating coming on, and then you notice the birds aren’t singing anymore, and the stillness and quiet gets under your skin. I feel particularly peaceful at this time of year. It’s a time of year for re-evaluating life goals. In fact, I make better resolutions in autumn than I do in the New Year. I’m lucky enough being self employed to be able to take a break from work and get outside to walk the dog during the day time. We either go down onto the beach, or round the back lanes and farms or sometimes down Forge Valley. I feel like the world belongs only to me and I take great pleasure in my time out in the fresh air. But I also miss the summer. I miss the ease of summer clothes, not really needing make up because the sun does such a good job keeping my skin tanned and fresh looking, I miss sitting out and snoozing to the sound of bees and of course, any change in season is a reflection of time passing, age approaches, the years go quicker, our opportunities to do the things we want to do get fewer. As a social animal, especially in this age of instantaneity and immediacy, it’s difficult to not feel angry or frustrated over the changes we see, in the world, in society, in ourselves. There’s so much pressure to do everything while we’re young, and then it’s almost as if, post forty, you start to disappear, and by fifty you’re obsolete. Newspapers and magazines seem to have the sole aim of making us feel old, and advising us on how to fool the world into appearing ten years younger, because who wants to be their age and be obsolete? We’re on the outside of the pack, suddenly, and vulnerable to attack, we’d be picked off in the zombie apocalypse.

There is power in acceptance of change, there is power in allowing ourselves to be angry, there is power in sodding the rules and doing whatever you want to do despite what society thinks of you.

In this new online poetry workshop/course we’ll look at change and how it affects us. We’ll look at change in the seasons, in nature, in animals and plants, we’ll look at the frustrations of a changing society, and the way that we are manipulated by societal pressures. We’ll look at our own personal stories of change, our own anger and our own acceptance, and we’ll write warrior poems and celebration poems and poems that tell it how it is. Each week there will be a ‘lesson plan’ in which we’ll look at a poem or two by published, emerging and established authors and we’ll work our week’s writing around them. Each day you will receive a writing prompt directly to your inbox. You’ll also be invited to join a closed facebook group, which is a safe place to share poems and chat to other course participants.

Because this is a straightforward, no pressure workshop, I want to encourage people of all abilities and experience. I want to make these fun courses accessible even for people on a low budget. The fee for the whole thing is just £10, I need to cover my own time but  I think this is a low enough amount that most people can save for it or afford it. There is a limited number of places and the previous course proved popular, so if you can, you are best off booking ASAP.

You don’t need to be in the facebook group, lots of the previous course participants did not join the facebook group, nor do you need to produce anything finished, or anything at all for that matter. The prompts are there for you to choose to use or not, there is no pressure at all.

The fee for the course is an up front payment of £10, payable by PayPal. Once payment has been made you can request to join the closed Facebook group. The group is not going to be officially active until October 1st but if you could just post a ‘hello’ and your name post I’d appreciate it, just so that I can make sure the technical aspects are working well.

As I’ve said before, you DO NOT need to be in the Facebook group to take part in the course, it’s not for everyone and quite understandable if you are just wanting to see what you can get from the course without it.

Upcoming Course

I’ll be running some ‘how to’ courses next year, starting in January, these will be a bit more involved and hands on, details will be posted on this website!

Here We Go Again

GNR

It’s the day before the race. I’ve washed my kit, written my sign, checked the route, checked it again, checked my shoes, packed my bag, set up my 5am overnight oats and I am about to have a hot bath and then an early night. There are hundreds of thousands of people doing the same right now. The Great North Run is one of the most popular half marathons in the world. It’s going to be a great day, I’ve worked hard. I am not a natural runner and I’m over weight, but that’s the challenge isn’t it, that’s why fatties like me choose to take on something painful and difficult, that’s why people choose to take on the challenge because even though I’m looking forward to it, I’m not running for the fun of it. I’m running for my little girl, who would have been eight years old this year. In another life, I might well have been running it for fun, with my daughter and her dad cheering me on, and who knows, the other two pregnancies we lost might have gone on to be two more children, a whole family of cheering faces. What would it be like? It’s a guessing game, a pointless one at that. In my idealised imagination it would be burgers and milkshakes afterwards, my red headed girl would be cheeky and bright, maybe she’d be in a book reading phase and barely register my crossing the line, or a youtube fanatic like our goddaughter. She might have been engrossed in her iPad, she might have been having a sulk or turning her og out. Perhaps we’d have had a crap night’s sleep in the run up to the race because she would have been playing up all night, excited by the change of routine. We’d have been setting off early, the day after,  to get her back to school on time in the morning. Maybe Matilda would have cried when we left the dog behind in kennels and maybe she’d be reluctant to leave the new kitten. I might have despaired over the state of her bedroom when I went in to get her up and dressed at five am, I might have sworn as I stood on a chunky doll, or a piece of lego. I might have cursed, trying to get her to be quiet in the faint early morning light. We would have bundled into the car, I’d be tense in the passenger seat, my husband would be quiet because he’s not a morning person. she might have been bored, she might have been excited, we might have listened to her choice of songs or sung ourselves, or talked. Perhaps Matilda would have snoozed on my lap while we waited for the metro taking us to the start. Perhaps she’d have waved from the Tyne Bridge as I ran proudly across. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

She’s doing none of those things. We’re doing none of those things. Instead, I will rise quietly, in my quiet house, and go about my business quietly, and I will drink my coffee watching the sun struggling up over the cliffs. We will get into the car tomorrow and I will not need to look to the back seat to make sure she is safe/behaving herself. I will be tense and quiet, as will my husband, though we’ll be in high spirits holding hands as we walk down to the start. I’ll run the race and I’ll struggle at about mile seven, and get a second wind around mile nine, and then struggle again and think I can’t do it at mile eleven and I’ll think of my daughter, my beautiful, perfect baby, I’ll think about those red curls and her perfect little rose bud mouth and I’ll think about how loved she still is, and the life she could have, should have had and it will push me on and on to the crest of the hill and the view of the sea. I will see my husband cheering me, and I will run across the line and I will cry, for my daughter and all the other babies whose lives could be saved, I’ll cry for that other life we might have had, and I will feel proud to have raised the money, proud to have achieved this thing that might well be a nothing thing to some people but is a big deal to us. And I’ll hold it in my heart for a long, long time.

 

If you can spare a couple of quid, it would be so appreciated, click on the link below:

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Diversity and the Poetry Pamphlet Publishing Sector

 

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This week, as part of my mentoring service, I spent a day researching the poetry pamphlet publishing market, to find suitable publishers for my client to submit her brilliant pamphlet to. I’ve not been in a position to submit a pamphlet anywhere for a few years, so it was interesting to see which small presses were going strong, who the new voices were and which presses had fallen at the wayside.

I noticed quite a few things about the pamphlet publishers out there, some of which pleased me, some of which made me angry. Firstly: a massive round of applause for those small, independent pamphlet and chapbook presses that are working hard for the sheer love of poetry, supporting writers and getting poetry into the world; because there is F all profit in it, and often they don’t even break even. This is a labour of love, and whilst depressing because the arts continue to be marginalised and poetry more so than ever, it is incredibly heart warming to know that there are still those that value poetry enough that they will do it for love.

Pamphlets are viewed in different ways – they’re a precursor to a full collection, they may be a way of marketing a writer so that people are able to get a taste of their work, and often they are a little piece of art in themselves. There are several small presses which make what they are producing into an art form of its own. I have always thought of pamphlets are closer to visual art forms than perhaps full collections are, they tend to hold a theme together well, which means they can be quite narrative, without being overwhelming. The small scale of them allows for a the reader’s concentration to be held and this makes them more flexible, which means they can be more experimental. The work that Guillimot Press are doing with small collections is a brilliant example, they are aesthetically pleasing and very tactile productions, often with surprising turns and beautiful illustrations. There are also presses that are using traditional letterpress printers to create something that is, again, tactile, pleasing to the touch as well as the ear and the eye. There are many small publishers working on a shoe string and doing their best. Which is brilliant.

When I source contacts, agents, publishers or anything career based for my mentee clients, I always do so in a way that is tailored to that client. This time around my client is a woman and she has a beautiful, delicate pamphlet about her father. I’m a great believer in finding the right publisher for the right poetry, apart from the necessity of a smooth working relationship, if the publisher produces full collections as well as pamphlets you’re likely to stay with them, as a writer, if you’re happy. Publishing a book with someone should be a good, positive, life affirming experience. Yes there might be difficult decisions to be made on editing, or structure etc, but it should still be one of life’s achievements. I want my clients, my mentees to be well represented as people and as writers by their publishers, so I was really disappointed to find that of all the pamphlet publishers I researched, less than 5% had any women in the editorial teams at all. To a certain extent, this is forgivable, though disappointing, because small presses have small teams, often just one person at the helm, so with the best will in the world, one person can’t be more than one thing at any one time. However, I was seeing this on teams of sometimes five or six people. The really bad thing, though, and the thing that made me cross, was that a large proportion of the pamphlet publishers I researched had very few women writers on their books. Less than 8% women representation. (quick maths so only a rough figure – I’m considering doing a small study to get a more accurate count) And further more, very few people of colour. That’s a startling lack of diversity in the small press pamphlet publishing poetry world.

Why is this? Well, my opinion is that it is in part because, as I’ve said, the arts are squeezed virtually to death and poetry is a niche market at the best of times. This means that less and less people are going into pamphlet publishing, which probably means that the same people have been running the same presses for a number of years, with no change to the dynamics. You only have to do a quick google search to pull up the massive amount of research which tells us that as editorial and publishing is concerned, despite there being as many, if not more, women writers than men, there are far far more male editors and publishers than women. Where there were mostly or all men editorial groups, there was little gender diversity.

Having said all that, there are so many new online magazines out on the market run by women and men, and a lot of online magazine producers are publishing small pamphlets and small anthologies and this is good, of course. I imagine that this is going to be the future of printing. I certainly know of one well respected magazine that has recently announced it was no longer producing hard copy lit mags, which provoked a mixed response. There were quite a few people saying it was a good thing as it made the whole thing less elite, but a lot of people were saying that buying a physical book or a physical magazine is part of the pleasure, the tactile nature of poetry and books is important, poetry isn’t just entertainment, it’s an art. And I do sometimes wonder if we are losing the appreciation of that by switching to digital. But then, it was ever thus and everything changes, digital opens up the poetry world and makes it more accessible, and having access to art is the most important thing, isn’t it?.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a real shame that quite a lot of the small publishers who are working in the niche of poetry pamphlet publishing are missing out on such a huge amount of talent because they don’t embrace diversity, but not stepping out of their comfort zones and searching out that diversity. Without diversity then the pamphlets are not representational, and the poetry pamphlet publishing ‘industry’ becomes another area where old white men are dominant, and therefore we lose out on the voices of other experiences outside of that realm. And eventually, these micro publishers become obsolete. And with them goes the art that is the small collection, the physical manifestation of art and poetry combined.

Or maybe I’m just not looking in the right places?

 

Catch you on the flip side

 

x

 

 

Nature and Poetry

I can feel autumn coming. It’s not just the fact that I have now been wearing jeans and pumps rather than shorts and sandals for two whole days. Nor is it anything to do with it being dark by half past eight in the evening. It’s something less defined than that, something that I think is part of our instinctive understanding of seasonal changes. It’s to do with a slight scent in the air, a mulchy, smoky scent which goes so well with the sound of geese flying over the house, and the wood burning smell from outside fires and low, long baas of sheep in fields, long shadows, fruiting trees. Autumn is just around the corner, things are slowing down. I’m slowing down. I have started to think of the hands-on preparatory pleasure of autumn: thick stews, slow cooked and home grown veg, wine made from elderberries, nuts, comforting food and the hunkering down ready for the bleak months of winter that follow. I find myself writing more, reflecting more.

I’ve been running my ‘The Wild Within’ month long workshop/course all this month and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone, or how good the experience has been. We’re nearly at the end of it now, but I’ll be running it again in a few months. It’s pushed me to read poetry for the course, revisiting poets and poems that I was already fond of, but it’s caused me to look closer, examine the poems in a way that I perhaps wouldn’t have unless pushed to. I’ve also loved reading the work of the course members who have joined in the chat group and been so brave to post first drafts, there has been some incredible work produced.  We’ve looked at nature poetry from a variety of angles, including politically engaging nature poetry. Often nature poetry is seen as slow, gentle and twee, but nature poetry is a reflection of self, we seek ourselves in animals, in plants, in the natural world.  One of the poems that I used this week as an example poem was Gillian Clarke’s A Difficult Birth . If you haven’t read Gillian Clarke, I would highly recommend her. Her work is incredible and this poem in particular marries several themes into a single metaphor, without losing the visceral bloody nature of birth or of change. It’s deftly done, taking the historical and political into the poem, filtering it through this image of the barn, the sheep the ‘well intentioned men with their needles and forceps’ and the slip of hands, the warm blood and the opened door. It’s wonderful writing. I think the course members have enjoyed all the poems we’ve looked at.

We’ve looked inside ourselves on this course, and looked at the small and the huge, and looked from above and below and I feel satisfied, happy, we’ve ranged over the course like walkers, dug into the soft loam of ourselves like moles. It’s been a great experience but now I am starting to turn my attention to the next course, which will run in October. I’ll be opening for bookings at the end of August. I already have some interest so it looks like it might be quite popular again. Keep an eye open for details on this site and on social media  (@wondykitten)

I’ve not managed to quite carve out any time on the manuscript this week. I was hoping to get some time in tomorrow but I have mentoring duties and I’m planning an eight mile run as training for the Great North Run (sponsor me here), I have two mentees slightly over lapping this week which is challenging, but in a really good way. One of my favourite parts of my work is mentoring. It’s good to work with people who are striving to get the best out of their work, who are excited to move it forward. I love the sense of purpose, the feeling of helping to sculpt something. It’s another really satisfying experience. I’m also working on an article for a magazine about the use of poetry at times of intense emotion and that is a fascinating research area. I’m loving everything I am doing right now and am not regretting my move to full time poet and freelancer at all. We’re managing, I love my work and my work is building. I am happy.

The only dark cloud was a wobble over the PhD I had a week ago, I thought I’d found a way of funding it so that I could restart sooner, but it fell through. Perhaps that was the universe telling me I’m not ready to get back to it, who knows. I was stressed about it, now I’m not. For now I am looking forward to making wine and baking bread and writing. I have a very clear image in my head of pressing the ‘send’ button on the new manuscript with a glass of something bubbly in my hand. It is nearly, nearly there. I’m hoping next week. And then onto the next project….

X

Back to Poetry

It’s been a hectic and often stressful month, which I’ve felt in my liver mainly as, naturally, celebrating Chris’s fiftieth birthday with two sets of parents and various friendship groups has been something of a boozy affair. I’ve seen alcohol in all it’s forms over the month and people really struggling with addiction to it, and people really struggling with mood changes caused by it and the other side of the coin which was people enjoying alcohol and having a giddy, silly time slightly squiffy and knowing that it’s not an everyday occurrence. I’d like to place myself in that group, but I suspect everyone places themselves in that group whether they are or not. Anyway, we’ve been all over and met up with lots of folk and now I’m back and trying to catch up on a tonne of work.

The good news is that the Wild Within online course is now up and running and so far, so good. I had some concerns about managing it all, but so far people seem to be enjoying it, so I’m starting to plan my next one, which I hope to launch in September and it will be called ‘Season of Mists’ and will be about ageing and the different perspectives and stories our life journeys give us. I’m hoping to use solely older poets (I haven’t defined what ‘older’ might mean, yet) as examples and I’ll be on the lookout for poems which deal with the challenges and the celebrations of ageing. The poetry community and the world in general tends to be skewed towards the younger generation, and it’s always assumed that ’emerging’ poets will be younger, below thirty, but many, many emerging poets are older and they miss out on awards and prizes aimed directly at a younger generation. In fact I believe that there is a bias towards younger people. Art has no age constraints, one of the brilliant things about being a writer is that you never retire, until you can’t write or paint or draw, you work. You can’t not, how can you stop being the thing that you are. I think examining our relationship with age, time, life and yes, death (a reviewer once said my great theme was death- he’s not far wrong) is important because we don’t talk about death in our society. I strongly believe that the way we die should be as important as the way we are born, with as much care and compassion. I hope that when I die it is in a place of compassion.

Poetry is an incredible force. There’s a misunderstanding about what poetry is, to non poets, sometimes. It’s often seen as just a form of entertainment. But poetry is one of the oldest forms of communication, the rhythms and rhymes of poetry have been used to pass on information for thousands of years, before a written language existed. Tools such as imagery, simile, metaphor are used to make an emotional connection, a bridge between the reader and the writer in a way which strips away all the clutter that prose can come with. Poetry is the condensed emotional language of our ancestors and I believe it can be used as a bridge for understanding, not just as a form of self expression. We grow as a society through the art that we produce, it kills me to see art in this country so undervalued and underfunded.

I’m big on poetry this week because I’ve been reading a lot of workshop poems and a lot of poems around the themes for the workshop and I’ve been working on the new manuscript.

I polished and finished two poems this week and entered them into a competition. They’re both from the new collection, so this feels like a big step forward. My new collection is coming along well, it’s so close to being finished now, I can almost taste the champagne I’ll be drinking when I hand it over.  At the same time that I feel the collection is nearly done, it appears I have managed to circle around the hardest poems and they are being written last, ironic, because these are the poems about the start of a particular period in time. These are poems that are possibly the hardest to write. I’ve talked a lot lately, or I feel I have, about the need for there to be more poetry that deals with still birth and child death as experiences of motherhood, and not just as experiences of grief, it’s a very specific form of grief. I’ve been watching the news about the Orca that’s been carrying her dead baby with her for the last seven days, and is now dropping behind her group because of it. That’s an animal giving itself over to instinct and it is exactly the same animal instinct as human animals have. I don’t know any other grief situation that does that to a person.  Still birth and baby loss is usually treated as a disease that one must get over, or a terrible accident that one must get past to get back to normal life. But the beginning part of any baby loss journey is one of pregnancy, one of motherhood. It’s no wonder people don’t know how to talk about baby loss when it seems so complex, having the conversation involves a degree of emotional awareness of which side of the coin the bereaved parent is looking at, but there is no bereaved parent who doesn’t, didn’t love their child. This sounds really simple, but is a good way in to the conversation. We lose people we love, when our children die. The collection covers lots of different body owner ship themes and themes relating to fertility and at it’s core is the experience of stillbirth. I’ve not dressed anything up this time, this is a book about these complex life changing situations that women all over the world go through. I wanted, want the collection, rather than being solely about my daughter’s death, I want it to be about my experience of all the (I hate to use the word) ‘normal’ parts of being her mother too, I want to write about my pregnancy, her conception etc etc.

My head’s all over the place with it all and it feels like I’m entering this other place of understanding or acceptance or examination…not sure. But that’s poetry for you, it’s more than just words on a page, it’s more than entertainment, but it’s that as well. It creates something in the writer and (I hope) the reader. The collection has turned into something quite primal and visceral and I feel I have gone back to writing in a way that I am good at. Yes, I said it, I believe I can sometimes be a really good writer and I feel I am writing my best poems right now. Why does it feel so utterly wrong to say that you think you’re good at something. Sheesh.

I would like to think the collection, the nameless collection, will be under consideration at the publishers by mid August, but in order to get to that glorious place of having submitted it, I have to shuffle a shed load of paid work away. And that means I am worrying a lot about everything, to the point of my really good sleep pattern sliding away from me like a beautiful, beautiful pillow laden ship. Bye bye sleep, hello insomnia.

I still seem to have lots of energy though, which is good and I’ve increased my gym time to twice a day most days, increased my running time too and I feel quite fit. I AM RUNNING THE GREAT NORTH RUN in a few weeks and have not yet secured enough donations to ensure I’ll be able to run on the day, I’m about half way there. I’m trying to get people to sponsor me just a pound, so if you fancy it:

PLEASE SPONSOR ME

And finally to my other news: We have a new addition to our animal family. Pyewacket the kitten has come to live with us and he is adorable. He’s currently stretched out on my knee purring away like a tiny generator. 90% of the time he’s just a streak of ginger blonde racing over the furniture, and he is already much loved. Toby the dog has not eaten him, which we’re both surprised about, and he’s being incredibly patient, especially as Pye chews his tail and tries to climb on his face to lick his eyes. I’d forgotten the capacity to love that cats have. Yes, they are independent and self reliant, but they’re also very loving, Pye is very loving and I hope he continues to be. He’s already bigger and longer of limb in just one week, so I can see his kitten years won’t last long. We loves him, we do.

 

Until next time

x