About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Sunday 2 December 2018

An Arising from the Settee of Suffering

I've spent a lot of time reclining lately, mainly because sitting upright is too agonising. When I hobble round to the surgery, my GP wonders if it could be fibromyalgia that is causing this widespread pain, as well as the increasingly well documented arthritis. Am I under a lot of stress at the moment? 

I wonder if he's come up with this by himself or whether he's swayed by the notes from the physiotherapist. It seems to me that fibromyalgia is treated much the same way as depression was in the 1970s - something women get, and just keep necking the valium, love. And anyhow, I don't really care what they call it; all I care about is that it hurts. 

Maybe, I concede.

I decide my strategy of resting up and only going out when I have to - which is most days anyway - isn't working. Alice Oswald is appearing at the Bristol Poetry Institute and I've missed hearing top poets read their work in Bristol since the demise of the poetry festival. Moreover, the last time we heard her, she was astounding. That evening remains the best reading I've ever been to.

Alice's latest book is 'Nobody', ostensibly about a bit-part player in the Odyssey: the poet who was charged with guarding Clytemnestra by Agamemnon, and subsequently marooned on a rocky island in the middle of the Mediterranean by the queen's lover, Aegisthus. Really it's a paean to the ocean, and as Alice recites it by heart in darkness, I find myself drowning in it. There's not so much as a cough to break the spell. Not a shuffle or a shifting, and when, after an hour, we can finally move, I find I can't. I can barely walk back to the car. Perhaps I should try swimming.

Saturday it's off to the Floating Market on the Kennet and Avon canal at Bradford-on-Avon with Hazel Hammond. I'm delighted to see that despite the manky weather, Dru Marland is doing a roaring trade in art on the tow path. She squeezes in a quick coffee with us between sales, and we repair to the pub for lunch with a haul of thirteen 2019 calendars of boating life between us. Twenty per cent of the profits go to the Floaty Boat Fund, which helps boaters keep their homes afloat when hit by unexpected problems.  You can get yours here.

As we leave the canal, a pair of ravens croak overhead. Hazel hasn't been inside the tithe barn so we drift through its cavernousness in almost darkness.

Back up on the tow path there's a lot of shantying going on, and the lights of the market seem to float through the twilight. 

Twenty days till the year turns and it starts getting lighter again. Not long to go. 

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