I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on 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.
Well, maybe not quite, but the pressure was on - 'Kin' had to have an airing on today's Poetry Please or else, as my friend Jan pointed out, Dru Marland might be done for selling copies of 'Inking Bitterns', in which it appears, under false pretences.
In the event it was there, tucked in amongst offerings from Thomas Hardy, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charlotte Brontë, Wislawa
Szymborska, Mark Doty, John Clare et al. How very exciting - even if it took four years from when Dru made her request. Clearly, the mills of the Beeb grind slow.
If you missed it and would like to hear it, follow this link. It's almost exactly half way through the programme, at 15.04 minutes in. Or wait until next Saturday, 4th June, when it will be repeated at 11.30pm.
Ben Banyard, with whom I'm sharing a launch of our respective publications, Communing and Breadcrumbs, on Friday 10th June, has posted an interesting account of a recent reading we did with fellow Indigo Dreams Publishing poets, Chrys Salt and Anna Saunders, at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. This is his photo of the pub it was held in, the Frog and Fiddle ...
... but to read about the rest of our brilliant evening, you'll have to click here.
Meanwhile, I'm guest poet at Bristol's very own Can Openers this Friday coming, from midday at Steam Cafe Bar. Do come along and bring a poem of your own for the open mic.
If you don't know where Steam Cafe Bar is, it's on Union Gate, just along from the old Bridewell. The same rank of shops where Pitt and Hudson the jewellers used to be, where I first got my ears pierced, and that pet shop where I used to get sawdust for my rabbit, Ziggy Stardust, and Bananas where you could buy the most ridiculously baggy jeans - oh, those were the days.
After a false start a month or so ago, when nothing happened, Dru's received an email from the Beeb to say that my poem, 'Kin', requested by her back in 2012, will
DEFINITELY be on Poetry Please on Radio 4 this Sunday, from 4.30pm. That's this
Sunday, 29th May. From 4.30pm. Absolutely definitely. Really.
However, I've since been informed that it will be on the same time as the commentary on
some football match at Wembley involving a team called Barnsley. And
apparently this might be a problem ...
Oh well, I'm sure someone will rethink their priorities before it's too late.
'Kin' is from my 2011 collection, 'Communion', published by Indigo Dreams Press, and also appears in Dru's illustrated anthology of wildlife poems, 'Inking Bitterns', available from Gert Macky Books.
Taking my parents (aged 94 and 88) to North Curry yesterday to see my father's sister (aged 92) offered the opportunity for lunch in the really rather pleasant Bird In Hand Inn (sexist signage aside) and then a quick pop into the Church of St Peter and St Paul.
The Levels are prone to flooding, of course, and along with every other old settlement, North Curry was built on a ridge of land. Good views from the churchyard, then.
Octagonal towers are quite common around here. as are gargoyles and hunky punks in glorious golden Ham stone.
Inside, a man was tuning an old piano with much stabbing of the keys. The older members of the party sat and chatted while I fossicked quickly and quietly.
There's a bier, upon which the mortal remains of Colonel Chard, of Rorke's Drift fame, were borne to their everlasting rest in nearby Hatch Beauchamp ...
Cadaver effigy of an unidentified cleric
Toma atte Sloo
This is my favourite thing - an old parish chest made of elm that weighs over 600 lbs and is believed, by its form of construction, to date from well before 1200 and possibly even Saxon times. Evidence suggests it was at one time forcibly looted. I blame this lot.
1348-9 John Leyat (Seyat) of Harewell
1349 Thomas Dauyntre
1349-50 John Trowbrugge
We know the Black Death, which arrived in Somerset in early 1349, had a 50% mortality rate in some parts, and that a large proportion of the clergy perished, but I've never spotted quite so many priests appointed in such a short space of time as here in North Curry.
An entry from nearby Curry Rivel’s
court rolls from May 1349:
‘John Pypping who held of the lord a
cottage . . . is dead, by whose death there falls to the lord nothing of heriot
because there is no live beast. And the said cottage remains empty in the
It seems the plague had claimed Pypping, his entire family, and all his
animals as well.
Dug up at the arse-end of autumn and transported from Grimauld Place to our new home in a wheelie bin strapped to the top of a Morris Traveller. Rather ignominious treatment for a little apple tree. Re-planted by a woman who knows what she's doing, however ...
... and blessed by a wassailing ceremony and a visitation of jays ...
... and my grandmother's apple tree*, which never properly thrived in its former location, has not only survived the winter but is blossoming. And how happy am I that every happening in my life handily serves as a metaphor for something else. *grown from seed from the last apples gathered from my grandmother's garden, a couple of months after her death in 1991