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.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Ye Grete Derknesse

Every autumn equinox, I run through a quick refresher course on how my trusty Lumie Bodyclock works and tell myself it's going to be fine this year - I'm not going to be such a big baby about winter and Ye Grete Derknesse, I'm going to light candles and wrap myself up in colourful handknitted blankets and get out somewhere beautiful and sustaining on every single bright and sunny day that is granted to us. 

But some days there seems to be no daylight at all, just continuous dusk and it's exhausting. And the bright days always seem to fall when I'm due in work, or I've agreed to drive my mother half way across town to buy a packet of Cathedral City mature Cheddar cheese because it's 30p per 350g cheaper in a supermarket there than it is locally. ('That's six shillings!')

So has it been this November. Instead of a bit of easy living post poetry festival, there's been the torment and tedium of funding bids. Two days out arranged - to Dartmoor and South Somerset - didn't happen through no fault of anybody's. And though these last two weeks there has been much chauffeuring of Son the Actor to be done - about 450 miles altogether, to a beautiful location the other side of the city with stunning autumnal walks - it's all been done under cover of darkness, the first round trip through the evening rush hour and the second last thing at night. We've seen a total of four foxes and something that looked smaller and somewhat malevolent in the headlights as it pushed its way through a hedge. Gollum, or a svart maybe. 

I did manage to fit in Simon Armitage's reading at the Bristol Poetry Institute. He read mostly from his new collection, The Unaccompanied, plus some older poems, including an extract from his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which I love. If you haven't ever been to hear him read, you are missing a treat. Armitage is the Jack Dee of poetry. His poetry-reading persona during his introductions is downbeat and self-deprecating. Then come the poems which are engaging and often very funny. I think I must have heard him read half a dozen times over the last - I don't know, 15, 20 years? - and I enjoy it as much as I ever did.

Between chauffeuring stints I also fitted in the launch of Anna Bianchi's book Becoming an Ally to the Gender-Expansive Child. The evening consisted of readings, conversation and questions, and I gained fresh insights, not just about questions of gender and identity, but privilege too.
I was expecting an intimate evening, but I've never seen the upstairs room at the Greenbank in Easton so packed, which was fantastic and a great tribute to Anna, the quality of her writing and her indefatigable heart. Oh and there was a big urn for the making of tea too. Inspired. 


  1. That drop in daylight is an annual trial which I found I was slow to counteract this year. Twelfth Night at RSC for midwinter will be a treat.

    1. It's hit me for six this year and I'm not sure why. I think doing a lot of night driving didn't help. Enjoy 'Twelfth Night'. We have tickets for that jolliest of plays, Macbeth!