Saturday, 2 July 2011

Seaside, summer solstice, and stort stories

On 21st June 2011, I was privileged to have a short story of mine performed at local live literature evening. The event, entitled 'Are You Sitting Comfortably', is a regular night run by a theatre group called White Rabbit, who invite stories on different themes for each event. This month the theme was the seaside, especially apt for both Brighton and a summer solstice evening, as the evening was warm, and the town busy with tourists visiting the seafront.

As you might expect from a theatre group, where stories are performed rather than just read, this was no ordinary live literature event. It took place in 'The Basement' in Brighton's North Laines, a venue you entered by descending into a literal basement - a room full of small tables and a stage area complete with comfy armchair - just waiting for someone to take a seat and tell you a story. The Basement was all exposed brick walls, low lighting and tea-lights on tables. It was busy, with people sitting on a raised step against the back wall, and all the tables full, creating a really lively atmosphere.

Also on the tables, which were all covered with check table-cloths, were plates of fairy cakes, sweets, blowing bubbles, playing cards and china teacups with tags stating 'Drink Me' - a nod to the White Rabbit concept of our hosts. The seaside theme continued with one of the three readers being dressed as a mermaid, and there was ice-cream during the interval.

With nine stories in total the evening was quite a long one, with six guest stories and three from the readers themselves. During the intervals, as well as ice-cream there was more grown-up refreshment such as wine and even cocktails served in teapots! The whole atmosphere was one of creativity and fun. To keep the fun going there was also a pass-the-parcel after the stories, with literary questions each time the music stopped!

It was a great experience to hear my story read aloud. It's a step away from the writing, and even the editing, and, for me at least, very different to having to read your work yourself, as you can concentrate on the words and story rather than what and how you are reading. I found all the other stories chosen to be clever and fun. The audience seemed to enjoy them all, and a really fun night was had by us all. For a final touch, as it was the summer solstice, we were invited after the event to light sparklers out in the street. Overall, it was a very enjoyable way to spend a Tuesday evening, and I was delighted to have been chosen as a guest writer.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Carol Ann Duffy

On Wednesday 18th June 2011, I had the privilege of being able to see and hear Carol Ann Duffy read her poetry at the Brighton Corn Exchange, as part of the Brighton Festival. I've long been a fan of her work, but this was the first time I'd had the opportunity to see her live. And she was brilliant, grabbing the audience's attention right from the start, coming across as approachable, down-to-Earth and an extremely talented poet. Being the current British Poet Laureate, I had to wonder how much of Carol Ann's new poetry, and the poetry she would choose to share, would be linked to subjects affecting the country. To my surprise, she hardly mentioned her position as Laureate and instead introduced a range of poems, some old and some new, that appeared purely her own.

She began with a selection from her 1999 collection 'The World's Wife', which I personally adore. It's a response to the men of history and myth, such as Midus, Faust and Charles Darwin, but looking at them through the eyes of their wives. These were fun, moving and clever.

Carol Ann then shared some poems from 'Rapture', her 2005-published series of poems exploring the journey of a relationship. These were also moving, both sad and happy. By now she had the audience fully with her, providing brief introductions to most poems but letting a couple speak for themselves.

Next, it was onto some new work. Here we did find some reference to her work as Poet Laureate, but it was refreshing to find that they were still very much in her own voice, and weren't necessarily in support of the current government and its decisions. She read one poem on the fact that one of her poems had been removed from the GCSE examination board, and another on the Royal Mail's plans to remove the use of UK counties on letters. She also shared some poems about her mother and her daughter.

It was a varied mixture of poetry, in style and topic, but all appeared very much Carol Ann, and all were enjoyed by the fully-packed, sold-out audience in Brighton's Corn Exchange. For me, it was great to hear her new work, be reminded of older work that I already enjoyed, and brought home how she has become a strong role-model for poetry in general and for creative women specifically, as the first female British Poet Laureate. She informed us that she would have a new collection published in September 2011 and I, for one, can't wait to read it.

Friday, 8 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 2011 - Day 5

Today's prompt - write either a serious poem or a goofy poem. Rather a vague prompt, this one! Here's my attempt at a serious poem, anyway:

Small Sparks

There are small sparks
Between you and I.
Electrically charged,
Energy burning bright.
We're drawn together like magnets,
Opposing forces
Becoming fused as one.
But we are two sides
Of the same coin -
Finishing each other's sentences,
Reading each other's minds.
Soul-mates, written in the stars?
Or is it just co-incidence,
That we have found each other,
And small sparks fly.

Monday, 4 April 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 4

Day 4
Prompt: Write a poem about a group of people. I took astronauts.


After seeing the Earth
From the depths of space,
What else is there?
Returning to firm land
A hero, what's next for you?
One of a select few
To witness this amazing view -
Our blue, green world.
Seen from this distance
It's hard to see the boundaries.
Other people's wars become senseless,
You are a citizen of Earth,
All nations watching as you leap
Into the star-filled unknown.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 2011 - Day 3

Day 3 - prompt: Write a poem about a world without you.

Without Me

In a world without me,
My sister would be an only child,
My parents spoiling her rotten.
She would have no one to play with,
No summers spent together,
No sharing, learning, growing
Of two sisters closer and closer.

In a world without me,
My husband might be single,
Finding his way alone,
No-one to lead him to this city on the coast.
No lazy mornings, warm smiles and kisses,
No building of a life together,
Of two halves making a whole.

In a world without me,
The Earth keeps turning,
People living their lives
Without me knowing,
Unable to participate
In the ups and down
Of the human race.

A world without me,
Is not this one.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 2011 - Day 2

Today's prompt - Write a postcard poem. Here's mine:


I don't wish you were here.
If you were, this would be
Another time, another place,
Tinted in rose and summer sunshine.
School's finished and weeks stretch ahead,
Two young girls run through sand dunes,
Invent games and vie for attention,
High on summer and foreign lands.

Friday, 1 April 2011

NaPoWriMo once again!

It's April! And on this blog that means only one thing - it's National Poetry Writing Month, with the monthly poem a day challenge.

Day 1's prompt is to write a 'what got you here' poem. Here's my attempt:

Getting Here

We got here individually,
And yet also together.
Two sides of the same coin,
Two minds in one,
Travelling from two points,
To be here, now, together.

Four years by the sea,
Six months as man and wife,
We walk a single path
Widened to fit us both.
Our future stretches ahead -
We face it hand in hand.

Friday, 11 March 2011

River of Stones continued (and a book!)

Although January is now well behind us, and I wasn't able to post each day's small stone on this blog, I bring you a few of the remaining small stones from this project:

Day 15:
Her name blinks in yellow lights,
As we stare, grinning,
And a cold wind whips around us.

Day 17:
Leaving work while it's still just light,
A sign of coming spring,
A pale orange glow to the evening air.

Day 23:
Day by day they grow taller,
Blue, red and yellow crocuses
Providing some colour amongst winter grey.

Day 28:
Drinks with an old friend,
Relaxing after a long week,
Songs and silliness, fun and laughter.

Fiona and Kaspa, creators of the river of stones project, have now published a book of small stones written by various people throughout January. And, they chose one of my stones to include! The book is available from, in hardback, paperback or download, and is a unique and interesting collection -

Saturday, 15 January 2011

River of Stones - 13th Jan 2011

Here's day 13:

Driving into the night,
Talking about everything and nothing,
Cars whizzing past as we pace our way,
Me sleeping, you driving.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

River of Stones - Jan 12th 2011

Day 12:

Grinning, you place your hat
Upon my head,
I tilt my face up to you,
Seated as you stand
Over me, snapping a photo -
A small moment of our married life.

River of Stones - Jan 11th 2011

Day 11:

Too early, you wake,
Turn slowly to me,
As I also wake.
We half-doze, foreheads touching,
Before blinking into the morning,
Ready to face the new day.

River of Stones - Jan 10th 2011

Day 10:

Red sky in the morning,
Rich and wild,
Welcoming the new week.
We eat breakfast in front of the window,
Wondering if the saying is true -
Shepherd's warning?

River of Stones - Jan 9th 2011

Day 9:

Like film in reverse
We pluck decorations from green, plastic branches,
Bright baubles, bells, wooden stars.
Coils of tinsel and lights lay
Unravelled on the floor,
At ease after standing guard for twelve long days.
Fake leaves and twigs are tucked away for another year,
Stored to sleep throughout the summer,
Until Christmas creeps in once again.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

River of Stones - 8th Jan 2011

And here we are at day 8 :)

Travelling by train,
Watching the sunshine creep out
From wintery,grey clouds
As we head away from the sea
For a day in the capital.
Whizzing past trees, into cityscape,
Rumbling a solid rhythm along steel tracks,
Until we reach the blue-green Thames.

River of Stones - Jan 7th 2011

Day 7 - a week already, and the stones are falling thick and fast!

7th Jan, 12th Night,
Christmas trees abandoned
Old and tired on the pavement,
Their job done for another year.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

River of Stones - Jan 6th 2011

Welcome all, to day 6th of the river of stones!

Today's stone:

Thrumming helicopter overhead,
Sharp black against January grey -
Brief distraction from an average day

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

River of Stones - Jan 5th 2011

River of Stones Day 5!!

A single glove keeps the pavement warm,
Its partner several yards down the road.
Somewhere a woman with naked hands
Is enjoying the January morning chill.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

River of Stones - Jan 4th 2011

Day 4 of the ever-growing River of Stones:

We search for missing papers,
Over thirty minutes spent.
Finally holding files like found treasure,
With the smells of victory and dust in the air.

Monday, 3 January 2011


So, I guess I should post the standard end of year round up now we're well and truly into 2011. The holiday season is just about over and the work-day routine is upon us again.

2010 wasn't the most productive year for me, creative-writing speaking, but it had some highlights. Aside from the writing part of life, I got married, so it's fair to say that a lot of time went on arranging that! We had the most wonderful day and enjoyed every minute. It was quite a job organising everything, even with a lot of help from the hotel we had our ceremony and reception in. Fun, though. Talking of fun, we then went on an Alaskan cruise for our honeymoon, which was absolutely amazing. To tie back in with the more poetic side of this blog, I did keep a blog about the lead-up to our wedding, and also a sort of travel journal while we were away. These can be found at

So, a big year personally speaking!

And creatively speaking:

  • I set up this blog and managed to complete 30 poems in 30 days for the April Poem a Day challenge.
  • I took part in NaNoWriMo, for the fourth time. Sadly, for the fourth time, I didn't complete it, but I always feel the taking part is the important thing. I aired some new ideas, fiction-wise, and had some fun getting back into writing fiction after being on honeymoon.
  • I wrote and edited a few poems.
  • I wrote and submitted a couple of short stories to journals and live literature nights.
  • I submitted three stories to local regular live literature event 'Are You Sitting Comfortably', and had the third one, on the subject of Wonder, accepted to be read out at at the October event. Whilst the story I submitted for 'Wonder' wasn't a new piece for this event, the other two were, so a plan to work on these further.
  • I attended a fun and inspiring workshop entitled 'Not for the Faint-Hearted', this was a series of workshops designed to inspire writers to produce something from visual prompts in a short space of time. Sadly, I only managed to attend the one session. I really wanted to attend more workshops and live literature / poetry events this year but time, weather and other things got in the way and sadly I wasn't able to.
  • I had the same short story which was read out at 'Are You Sitting Comfortably' accepted for publication in a literature journal. This was supposed to be published this month, but sadly, due to lack of funding, the publication has had to fold. Still, it was lovely to be accepted there.
  • I have continued to write articles for

So, that was 2010. Not a great one, creatively speaking, but not too bad, I feel.

Here's to a poetic and creative 2011!

River of Stones - Jan 3rd 2011

January 3rd: third small stone in the fast growing River of Stones (

The Mulled Wine tea tin
Opens with a puff of smoke,
Spicy aroma drifts up into the kitchen.
For a second,
Christmas isn't over.

River of Stones - Jan 2nd 2011

A Gosport boat-yard inspired small stone for January 2nd:

Small boats stacked like toys on shelves,
Dry docking while the winter rain holds off.
Nearby the 'Dreampedlar' awaits passengers to set sail.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

River of Stones

Writer Fiona Robyn is beginning 2011 with the idea of 'A River of Stones', inviting people to notice and note one small thing every day for the month of January. She describes it on the River of Stones website as "our challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to pay attention to one thing every day during the month of January and write it down. We call these pieces of writing small stones. We're especially interested in both 'writers' and 'non-writers' taking part - it's not about the finished product, it's about the process."

The website can be found at

You don't have to be a writer to take part, but this appeals to the poetic part of me, and I aim to take part, perhaps finding small stones that will lead to somewhat larger poems. Perhaps not. But it's a lovely idea for taking a moment, noticing the world around me and trying to capture the feeling, sight, sound, smell, touch or taste in some small way. And, as Fiona suggests, from one small stone, great rivers can flow.

So, here is my small stone for January 1st, 2011:

Small black cat
Plays tag with a red feathered stick.
Mischief in her eyes, love in ours.