It has been a very thoughtful experience preparing two prose poems for an exhibition at St Helen’s World of Glass this week. Instead of looking at proofs and trying to write a short biography, I have had a fruitful discussion about fonts with a graphic designer; framed and mounted two pieces of work and got to grips with attaching mirror plates to the frames.
A different lens was required on the work and I began to see a prose poem as a visual artifact instead of a piece of writing. The work was accepted for an exhibition called ‘Reality Removed’ and will be on display until 28th April 2017. The curator of the exhibition also told me that they had never accepted a piece of text for an exhibition before which made me reflect on the qualities of a prose poem and how it might lend itself to a visual audience. I have been writing about the importance of the frame when writing in this genre, and how all the margins acts as a way of containing the words. In some ways, this can mirror a painting or photograph, and the viewer/reader can experience the whole work at once, as a fragment of an imagined world, created by the poet/artist.
Reality Removed – Gallery One
‘Contemporary art collective exploring how we view the world when what we know has been removed and we are left with someone else’s version of their own reality’
I am delighted to say that I was shortlisted this Spring in the Rialto’s first pamphlet competition. Two of my prose poems will be featured in the next issue of this wonderful magazine. I also had some very encouraging feedback from the judge, Hannah Lowe. I have been an admirer of her writing for a long time, so this was a real delight.
The Hebden Bridge Annual has arrived for Christmas 2016!
A contemporary take on the traditional annual, it’s a book full of facts and fun about Hebden Bridge and its people. A kitchen table book, rather than a coffee table book.
It’s got 150+ quality pages of stories and pictures; past, present and future, with puzzles, quizzes and indoor and outdoor activities – something for everyone.
The Annual is published by The Egg Factory as our contribution to keeping the community’s chin up after the big flood on Boxing Day last year. You can buy a copy from
What a strange day today. My son and I listened to his favourite Cohen song at 6.30am before he went to college. He is only sixteen and has just discovered him, (bless!). I listened to Ali Smith on Desert Island Discs and she was fabulous. Reminded me how much I love stories and music.
So I would not normally post a prose poem but have written this rough draft as part of a collaborative project I am doing with writers in the UK and Australia to cheer me up after the US elections and the news today.
And maybe the way forward is this unexpected winter sun and the cat asleep on a kitchen table. And maybe the way forward is a kettle humming and peppermint tea, pale as longing in a cup. And maybe the way forward is all those Facebook good wishes, like kisses. And maybe the way forward is a ipad with a broken screen that you can’t afford to fix, but still works. And maybe the way forward is listening to Ali Smith on the radio, saying stories change lives or burn the shirt off your back, as Leonard Cohen dies and your son has discovered his music without your help.
I am slowly getting into work for my phD again this autumn. I am studying part time at the University of Bolton. I am writing about the north of England and came across this great quote from an essay about the two poets Barry MacSweeney and SJ Litherland published in ‘Poetry & Geography : Space & Place in Post-war Poetry’ :
‘I agree with [Sheild’s] correspondent who maintains that ultimately ‘north’ is really a direction, not a place, so asking where exactly the north ends and the south begins would make little sense. Shields’s definition of what he calls the ‘Cult of Northern-ness’ sees it as a state of mind whereby ‘Northerners regard anyone to the South as in some way compromised’. In the phrase ‘anyone to the South’ the key word is ‘to’, meaning ‘towards’, which implies that the compromise is greater the further south one goes.’
Interesting point of view! I wonder if this holds true today?
I had a really great morning last week with Phoenix writers, based in Horwich, near Bolton. I was running a freelance writing workshop with the group. Dotty told me creative writing seems to be thriving in this town, with a number of successful writing groups. No one is sure why! Phoenix writers asked me to do a morning of life writing exercises and I was very impressed by the groups’ liveliness, storytelling and memories. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.
This anthology from Avalanche Press features poems that link images and words. I am pleased to be included alongside David Constantine, Moniza Alvi, Pascale Petit and many more excellent poets. Email me if you would like a copy.
The same publisher has featured me in a new collection – just out. I am delighted to have a selection of poetry in this new book with Katrina Porteous , Roselle Angwin, Kaye Lee, Katherine Gallagyer and Wendy French. The book’s themes link landscape and the body and the work is described as ‘a tapestry of sensual, intoxicating verse’.
This was a fantastic night of poetry – organised by Sarah L Dixon on the 13th Sept at Lloyds Pub tel 0161 241 8570 M21 9AN in South Manchester if you are free. I was a featured poet reading alongside Ciaran Hodgers
Ciarán is described as “Thoughtful and punchy” and “One of the most exciting faces to appear in the North West circuit in a long time”
Ciarán Hodgers is an award-winning poet, performer and creative mentor. Performed and published around the UK and Ireland he was part of the inaugural Team Manchester at the National UK Poetry Slam, finalist of the Poetry Rival Slam with Burning Eye books and three time finalist of Manchester’s own Word War slams.
There are some great interviews on her blog including Andrew Forster and other writers.
Sophy says about her company Spark:
I am a writer, editor, coach and mentor, based in a small Scottish seaside town just outside Edinburgh. I’ve worked with a huge range of writers, including Margaret Atwood, Ian Rankin, Janice Galloway, Ali Smith, John Burnside, Jackie Kay and Naomi Alderman. I’ve worked for publishers including Canongate Books and Frances Lincoln, for the Scottish Book Trust and Scottish Poetry Library and run the BBC Short Story Award. Along with the novelist Alan Warner, I set up Long Lunch Press, which published Irvine Welsh, James Meek, Elizabeth Reeder and Jen Hadfield. Three years ago, I set up the Spark Writing Development Agency, with a team including literary agents Judy Moir, Fraser Ross Associates and writers Susie Maguire and Linda Cracknell. Most recently, I’ve also been running a children’s Book Festival in Edinburgh and a year round programme of storytelling and author events.