Tributes

Glad to be part of the this feature, in Molly Bloom, tributes to Tom Raworth and Roy Fisher. Thanks to Aidan Semmens. Very sad to hear about Roy’s passing:

‘on an ordinary day a brief
lightness, charm between realities;

on a good day, a break
life can flood in and fill.’

from Roy Fisher, ‘Handsworth Liberties’

Thirty years of Smith/Doorstop

I hugely enjoyed the reading last night to celebrate thirty years of Smith/Doorstop in the Loom Lounge Dean Clough in Halifax (or ‘Halibut’ as my iPad text auto-correct would have it). Four of us – me, Stuart Pickford, John Foggin and David Wilson, all with new collections from S/D, and an open mic which included Ray Fisher reading poems by Janet Fisher. The event was organised and compered by the inimitable Keith Hutson, and it was the first time I’ve been introduced by someone who’s a difficult act to follow. Peter and Ann Sansom, co-directors of the Poetry Business and Smith/Doorstop, blew out the candles on the specially-made cake.

Thanks to Kim Moore who chose my poem ‘Gate’ for her Sunday Poem feature on her blog, and for her generous comments.

Ian McMillan – To Fold the Evening Star: New and Selected Poems

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“The first time I saw a collection by Ian McMillan it was four feet off the ground, winging across my classroom. It was 1988 and Ian, mid-peformance with Year 9, had just whipped out of his pocket a copy of his newly-published Selected Poems and hurled it into the corner as part of a ‘magic trick’ he was demonstrating. I was laughing so much that my stomach hurt but I remember thinking: ‘Oh, he’s written a book as well.’“ – from my ‘The Collection’ piece on Ian’s marvellous To Fold an Evening Star: New & Selected Poems in the latest issue of the North, now in its thirtieth year. Great to have poems in there too, in such good company.

 

Poetry Swindon Festival and Leonard Cohen

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After tutoring the writing poetry course for the Arvon Foundation at the Hurst in September, I’m very much looking forward to reading at Poetry Swindon Festival on Thursday 6th October alongside Wendy Klein. It’s worth checking out the rest of the programme, put together by the wonderful, tireless Hilda Sheehan. Andrew McMillan and Kim Moore are in residence and leading workshops.

The following day, Friday 7th October, I’ll be at Cheltenham Literature Festival introducing the students I worked with at Millbrook Academy as writer in residence for Cheltenham Festival First Story. They’ll be reading from their anthology (that I edited) as part of the Young Writers Showcase.

And the Sunday before, October 2nd, I’ll be leading a workshop and reading alongside David Clarke at Buzzwords in Cheltenham – Exeter Arms on the Bath Road – workshop at 7pm, reading and open mic from 8pm.

3295On a different note – there’s a wonderful article in the Guardian on Leonard Cohen’s final letter to Marianne here. And this follow-up article which contains a definition of poetry by Leonard Cohen that I haven’t come across before: “Poetry is just the evidence of your life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

Teachers as Writers

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Here’s where I was last Wednesday. Exmouth. I’m working alongside two English teachers as part of the Arvon Teachers as Writers project. The idea is to research into the impact of teachers writing on their classroom practice. Great to work with two enthusiastic committed teachers and to be part of the project.

I also really enjoyed the poetry salon event in Ledbury recently. It was in the panelled room in the Master’s House. Great audience and Chloe Garner’s questions couldn’t have been better. A podcast will be available soon.

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Finally, I co-tutored the Poetry Business Writing Day with Peter Sansom the other Saturday. It’s always astonishing how many good poems get written on those days, and the atmosphere is invariably brilliant.