About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
My fourth poetry collection, The Shadow Factory, will be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2019. I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy. https://theleapingword.com

Friday, 18 October 2019

'After argosies on the sea, argosies in the sky'

There were perils attached to growing up in a town, the local name of which in British Sign Language translates as 'aeroplane'. The worst was being dragged, by a son-less father, to the annual air show that was held on the airfield. (So loud, those Harrier Jump Jets!) By the time the Aerospace Museum opened in Autumn 2017, I'd recovered enough to try to persuade my by then very frail father to let me push him around it in a wheelchair. He flatly refused. And then, four months later, he died. So that was that. 

Except I've been more blessed than my father in the son department, and the younger one wanted to go regardless. And eventually, on a day too rainy for our planned walk, we went. 

I'm not going to give a potted history of flying machines in Filton, though it was fascinating to see the effect on the development of the then village the factory had. 

To the rest of it, I paid attention as diligently as I could. And when I couldn't, I took photos of Son the Younger paying diligent attention. 


Of course, what we'd really gone there for was Concorde, which was so much a part of both our childhoods. I'd watched the maiden flight on 9th April 1969 from my primary school playground in Filton. Son the Younger had watched the final flight home, on 26th November 2003, from his.  

Here's the hangar. 

And here's the first glimpse. 



Even the technical stuff was interesting. 






It's snug on board.



Apparently John Wayne was too big to fit right inside the toilet cubicle and the stewards had to hold up a curtain when he wanted to use it. 







I confess I let sentimentality overtake any modern-day notions of carbon footprints and sustainability and had a small teary feeling at the end of our visit ... 


... while Son the Younger took a moment to explore the likely future of Filton's aircraft industry post Brexit. 

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Reading at the Merlin Theatre in Frome

I was lucky enough to be invited to read in Frome last week. The person doing the inviting was writer and local impresario, Crysse Morrison, and the venue was the lovely Merlin Theatre, which I'd been to several times but never as a performer. 


Even better, the theme of the evening was the nature and landscape, which, during this time of acute awareness of its fragility, is an issue that should be exercising all poets right now.

Also reading was Rose Flint, who was launching her selected poems, Mapping the Borders ... 


... Dawn Gorman, who was launching her new pamphlet, Instead, Let Us Say ... 


... Crysse Morrison herself, who was covering for a sick Rosie Jackson, and read a poem by the late Frome poet and activist, Linda Perry ... 


... and Liv Torc, who wasn't reading at all, but performing poems that included her most popular work, The Human Emergency.


Plus Frome-based photographer Julian Hight, launching his book, Britain's Ancient Forest Legacy and Lore, which will top my Christmas list this year and hopefully inform many future tree-visits. 


All photos taken by David Goodman.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

A Poem for World Mental Health Day 2019


This poem is from my 2016 collection, Breadcrumbs, published by Indigo Dreams. I'm posting it for World Mental Health Day, with the reminder that when you've lived in a familiar situation for a long time, it can be very hard to see just how damaging it is. Also, that writing - or otherwise exploring your creativity - helps (if you're able to do that).

Headland

  
This was no rupture. No sudden loss
that left you stranded from yourself

All the same, the land is gone
He must have filched it with a spoon
so surreptitiously sometimes even now
you don’t perceive its absence as anything
more than a tendency to dream

don’t hear the breach filled with echoing dark,
don’t notice you’ve stopped building boats and bridges
out of stories

©Deborah Harvey 2016



Saturday, 5 October 2019

National Poetry Day at Her Majesty's Pleasure

Two things I like very much - which also happen to coincide - are the Somerset Art Weeks Festival and National Poetry Day. On Thursday I joined with other West Country poets to mark both, by reading poems on the themes of imprisonment and freedom amid the art installations in B-Wing at the now disused HMP Shepton Mallet.


I'd visited the prison back in May, as soon as I was asked to be part of the project. I knew a place like that would have a grim effect on me, so I wanted to make sure it was a familiar grim effect. Although the addition of some very provocative art installations added another layer of challenge. 


So much of the prison already resembles ladders that lead nowhere, even without the addition of new ones. The only clear view, through non-obscured glass, is of the sky ... Oscar Wilde's 'little tent of blue'. 




Dominic Fisher



Poets waiting in cells to read



In addition to our own poems, works by Homero Aridjis, Dennis Brutus, Imtiaz Dharker, Osip Mandelstam, Harryette Mullen, Irina Ratushinskaya, Marina Tsvetaeva and Oscar Wilde were read.  

The delivery of the poems was excellent throughout; the audience intrepid in the face of distinctly chilly conditions. 





Even though I couldn't read it properly, as I was standing behind it, I was impressed by Kate Semple's poem Unheard Prayer, which was unfurled on a banner while the everyday sounds of prison life, hugely amplified by the acoustics of the place, were played. Its point - the inability to escape sensory overload in prison, and the withholding of silence in which to hear yourself think -  was cogently made, and later, when it started to rain and the noise was amplified on the high glass roof, I was reminded of it again.


The poets with organiser Rosie Jackson.





Afterwards we went up to the third floor where some of the poems were on display. They'd been printed on thin paper so that the light shone through them, and looked as frail and beautiful as hope.

Here's Rosie with her poem ... 



... and here's mine.

It might be presumptuous, but I would like to think that a small restitution had been made. 







Thursday, 3 October 2019

A Poem for National Poetry Day 2019

It's National Poetry Day today and the theme is truth, which seems a timely choice to me, given that the sort of lying and gaslighting that often characterises abusive domestic relationships is now being demonstrated by heads of state on both sides of the Atlantic.  

Here's a poem about the sometimes elusive nature of truth from my 2016 collection, Breadcrumbs



Variations on the Theme of Truth


I am fluent
in thirteen languages
each one a lie


You force me to lie
by not making it easy
to tell the truth


My lies
are the questions
you don’t ask


I tell you
what you want to hear
I kill you with kindness


Nobody lies
more than you do
to yourself 


My lies are truth, my truth
the only thing that matters
is that you believe me


Truth is, I never lie
I’d say I’m sorry
but I’m not




Saturday, 28 September 2019

Lyrically Justified: About the Urban Word Collective

In its own words, the Urban Word Collective was born out of a dream of a shared space where urban poets could promote, celebrate and inspire eachother for the benefit of their communities and ultimately the country - a tree with roots, that propagates, that seeds for the present and the future.

To date, they've produced three anthologies of poems, and I'm really proud to have two poems in the third, which features West Country writers, not least because in terms of its cultural and artistic diversity and its ambition, this project is different from anything I've been involved with before. I don't think my writing has ever been in such interesting, dynamic company. 

Here is the book. Please find out more about this initiative and support it.





Saturday, 21 September 2019

A Walk around Deerhurst, Apperley and the River Severn

An unseasonably warm September day. And so to Deerhurst in north Gloucestershire, just south of Tewkesbury and very close to the River Severn.

I visited both Saxon churches here about three years ago but Son the Younger in particular expressed an interest so we visited both.

Odda's Chapel first. 

TED!! Don't you dare!

And then St Mary's.

The last time I visited, it was a Sunday and the Church was being prepared for Harvest Festival, so it was good to have a little more time there.

Rooks and jackdaws above the ruined apse

Then we were off, with Odda's Chapel watching us go ...

... over the first few of very many stiles, off one of which I fell and got nettle-stung and thorn-prickled and covered with those tiny round seed pods (though not this stile, obviously) ... 

... past some beautiful horses ... 

... and on to the Farmers Arms at Apperley, where we stopped for a pub lunch. 

In a field behind the pub we encountered these Tamworth beauties. So glad I don't eat meat and can look them in the eye.

They reminded me of the carved heads back in St Mary's.

View to the Cotswolds

I'm coming to get you!

After completing a zig-zag route past Apperley, we arrived at the westernmost section of the disused Coombe Hill Canal, which was largely screened from view by trees. 

The last stretch of our walk took us back up to Deerhurst via the Severn Way. 

Ted and I have done a lot of walking by the Severn this year, but this was the first non-tidal section. 

Here we had to do some cow-shooing ... 

... and sheep-staring (if you are a herder by nature).  

In my usually trustworthy Pathfinder guide, the overall length of the walk is given as seven miles. Son the Younger's fitbit was already reading nine when we staggered into the garden of the other pub en route, only to be told that it was CLOSED. Gah. 

A few hens next door came over to commiserate. 

But even if I was on my last legs, we were on the last leg.
A glimpse of the Malvern Hills in the distance



Then Odda's Chapel came back into view.

One last glance over the Severn and we left for home.