About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am 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 April 2020

It is this day

Today - Shakespeare Day - was going to be the launch of my fourth poetry collection, The Shadow Factory

I'd delayed it because it was published in the depths of winter, and I don't do well with things that require A Rising To The Occasion  in the dark half of the year, and I still think I was right to do so because Hours Space in my native city of Bristol on an evening like this, with the windows open, and free wine, and good company ... it would have been perfect. 

I suppose I could do something swishy and Zoomy to replicate a launch from home, but I don't do that well with High Tech Thingies either. At any time of year. So here's a low tech impression of what The Shadow Factory's launch would have been like. 

There would have been a reading of wonderfully witty and sometimes surreal poetry by Dominic Weston, who is seen here actually reading at Hours (but not at my launch, obvs). 

There would have been FREE wine from Isla Negra, home of Pablo Neruda, in  choice of colours, and nibbles in the form of cheesy biscuits made by my friend, Chris Lindop.  

And there would have been me, reading. Here I am, looking serious in Frome, in a photo by David Goodman.

I'm now going to attempt to convey how the evening might have felt to a member of the audience, through the words of Dorothy Porter, in a poem from her marvellous thriller-in-verse, The Monkey's Mask, which you can read here.

As for The Shadow Factory, I'm determined it will get its launch once we're allowed to reconvene. In the meantime, we're all kind of living in it anyway, this sleepwalking half-life those of us who aren't frontline workers inhabit. 

I can't post you any free wine - we've drunk it - but if you'd like to read The Shadow Factory sooner rather than whenever, message me on Facebook or Twitter or through the comments on this blog. They are £10 each with free P&P and a free bookmark, unless you are a poetry reviewer who would like to review it, in which case you can have a papery or an electronic copy for free.   

Already published reviews can be read here and here

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

TED Walks in the Time of Coronavirus Pt 3

We had a different place to exercise in recently, the day we had to travel across town to drop off an ailing laptop for resuscitation. On the way back we stopped near Purdown for a Sneaky Walk Elsewhere.

The views were far-reaching, all the way over to Cossham Hospital, where a year ago, I was taking photos in the opposite direction, having had physiotherapy on my then bad shoulder (which is now my good shoulder) and to Freezing Hill, north of Bath. 

And in Barn Wood there were bluebells, which I didn't think I'd see in such numbers this spring. 

Our little patch doesn't have masses of bluebells, or ramsons or wood anemones in it. 

There was a But to this opportunity though. After three weeks of not straying more than a couple of miles from home, Purdown felt too big and exposed, with too many people. And I missed our suddenly traditional walk to the patch.
After only a week, I'd developed an emotional connection to a place I hadn't known beforehand. Must be something to do with this strangest of times. 
Otherwise, we've more or less abandoned the local playing fields and the park for the new place. The way we stumbled upon it makes it feel almost like a Prachettian Fairyland. 

One day we got up extra early and walked up at daybreak to watch the sunrise. 

It was an unforgettable moment ... though not so different a view from our bedroom window that we'll need to do it too often.

The rooks were a great addition, though. 

A brocade of frosted brambles

First light

In this Fairyland, the patch - ie the field with its oak and rookery; the wood at its foot, impassable but for one path; the tussocky Common belonging to the razed village of Charlton; and the edge of the abandoned airfield - is witch territory ... 
... and it's the bit we like best ...

Evening oak and Lady's Smock

An owl about to cause a ruckus in the rookery

... but the last few days we've been exploring the scarier bit, which is the golf course. In Prachettian terms, this is where the fairies themselves live, and sometimes I almost expect the Queen to arrive with her Lords and Ladies and her clipboard and green pen to tell us to git orf, git orf their land. (Or force us to eat a prawn cocktail vol-u-vent each, so we can never leave.) 

Most of the trees have been planted since the land became a golf course in 1909, and are there for their ability to grace the fairway.  

In the dusk of early morning or evening, there's something unheimlich about them. 

Hello, Ted!

The bigger pond

The smaller pond

And always always on the skyline, the superhospital that is Southmead, tended by silent ambulances flickering past.

There are other trees, though, that clearly date back to when the land was farmland. The city boundary passes through it, so part of it used to belong to Bristol City Council and part to the then much larger Gloucestershire County Council. 

An ash

Another ash

An oak

Clearly such old, wise trees are an anomaly in Fairyland. They are very definitely On Our Side.  Possibly even a Portal back to Reality, which seems to have vanished recently. 

Thursday, 16 April 2020

On the Edge V: Another year in sunrises

'At every sunrise I renounce the doubts of night and greet the new day of a most precious delusion.'  Czeslaw Milosz

24th April 2019
1st May 2019

2nd May 2019
13th May 2019
7th July 2019

8th August 2019
13th August 2019
29th August 2019

19th September 2019

Faint sun pillar

23rd September 2019

30th September 2019

All the crimson sky caught in the branches of the ash tree

30th September 2019

3rd October 2019

The edge of Storm Lorenzo

3rd October 2019

Through a glass wetly

8th October 2019

13th November 2019

The Leylandii to the left have been trimmed. Should be able to see the sunrise for longer in spring.

18th November 2019

19th November 2019

2nd December 2019

5th December 2019

18th December 2019

10th January 2020

10th January 2020

Wolf Moon
10th January 2020

The wrong sort of cloud for the penumbral eclipse

14th January 2020

16th January 2020

20th January 2020
29th January 2020

31st January 2020

Didn't know this was going to be the last photo of the ash tree

25th February 2020

A horrible loss

3rd March 2020

8th March 2020

16th March 2020

Where have all the contrails gone?

21st March 2020

When you can't travel, the sky will give you a headland, the incoming tide

25th March 2020

30th March 2020

8th April 2020

15th April 2020