I’ve added a new page to this website: ‘Maharishi School Poetry Success.’ It gives details of the success of students at Maharishi School in poetry competitions when I taught English there.
I’m guest tutor on a handful of the online ‘Writing Together’ poetry workshops for the Poetry Business this month, alongside Michael Laskey, Jackie Wills and River Wolton. I’ll be running sessions on Wednesday 13th May, Wednesday 20th May and Wednesday 27th May, all at 11am-12.30pm. And with River Wolton on Saturday 30th May, 9.30am-1pm. Details of all the sessions and how to book are here. The blurb for my workshops:
“You just go on your nerve” – Frank O’Hara. We’ll be writing in response to the kind of poems that make you want to pick up your pen and write, in exercises that set out to surprise you into going on your nerve, into writing about things you might not have thought of, and in ways you haven’t written before. That’s the plan.
I’ve been asked by Andrew Taylor to answer three questions for his creative writing students at Nottingham Trent University and thought I’d post a couple of the answers here.
How has the current Coronavirus crisis impacted on your practice?
I had bookings which have been cancelled, including workshops in Paris with teachers in International Schools. I was hoping to schedule a poetry reading there, at the same time. I was leading a Royal Literary Fund reading group, which has been suspended.
A fair bit of my writing is done on the move, on trains and walking around art galleries and such, including a high proportion of the poems in my new pamphlet, and I won’t be doing that for a while.
At the same time, it’s giving me space to work on the forthcoming collection and to re-evaluate what I’ve been doing. I’m restless, when it comes to writing, always thinking I’m about to start writing in a completely new way, so maybe now I will.
Reading. I’m re-reading the marvellous Roy Fisher. The best poems make you feel more alive, and Roy’s work does that for me every time. Reading feeds into the writing – you can’t help being affected by what you read.
As we are forced to live in a different way due to Coronavirus, how do you deal with the so-called ‘new normal’
The lockdown? I’m OK with relative isolation because I often work like this anyway. Writing’s a solitary act – there are social dimensions, and they’re important, but ultimately, it’s you and the blank page. It helps to have a good routine, and meditation undoubtedly helps (I’ve been practising TM since the 1970s). I’m catching up with people I’ve not spoken to for ages, and getting emails out of the blue from people I was about to contact. I guess it’s made me focus on what’s important, like everything’s stripped back. Although this is a hugely difficult time, I think this crisis is a tipping point. It feels to me like things could no longer carry on the way they were – the inequalities, the exploitation of the planet – and this is a wake-up call. Things are changing.
As you prepare for your next pamphlet, due later in the year, can you share some tips about getting it all together?
This was the first question – answer to follow.
A poem for Boxing Day, ‘I’ve Just Invented the Tai Chi Sprout Stalk Form’ published in the 12 Days of Christmas feature at Ink Sweat & Tears. Thanks to Helen Ivory.
Good to have a couple of new poems in the latest issue of The North – ‘Birmingham Canal’ and ‘Swimming Pool at Night, Doug Ellis Sports Centre’. Thanks to Peter and Ann Sansom. A cracking issue. Great to see David Crystal poems in there, who edited Dog magazine back in the day – haven’t seen work by David for ages.
I’m reading at the Indie Press Poetry Showcase at Birmingham University this coming Saturday, 19th October. Looking forward to hearing everyone else – there are sixteen of us reading for 5 minutes each. It should be a blast.
Very much looking forward to co-tutoring on the Craft of Writing Teacher Short Course for the Arvon Foundation with Jamila Gavin at Lumb Bank, November 1st-3rd 2019.
I’m very pleased to have four new poems published in the excellent Litter. Thanks to Alan Baker.
Good to have some new work published on M58, Thanks to Andrew Taylor.
I’m delighted to be leading a Reading Round in Cheltenham and looking forward to starting it in September. Reading Round is a reading group with no preparatory reading or other homework. The focus is on reading and exploring a short story and a poem in each session: I will distribute copies and read them aloud, and we’ll discuss them in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. There’s more information here. The Reading Round will take place at School House Cafe, a community-based cafe in St Pauls, walking distance from Cheltenham town centre. Sessions will be on Tuesdays at 2.00-3.30pm starting 17th September 2019. The Reading Round is free to attend, but places are limited and booking is essential. If you’d like to book a place or find out more, please send me an email. There are thirty sessions in total. Reading Round is sponsored by the Royal Literary Fund.