Category Archives: poetry

New 2009 poetry

The River Ure

The River Ure in Spate, January 2009

I have just been on an amazing visit up Wharf dale in search of waterfalls. I had not done that trip in winter and the landscape was very bare, beautiful and most of the rivers were near to flooding point. I do not think this photograph does the scene justice!

I seem to have had a dry period over the festive season when it comes to writing, but here is something that I have managed to finish. I began this poem in a workshop run by the fabulous Ann Sansom at a National Association for Writers in Education’s retreat last year. Ann asked the group to write in the first person from the point of view of a baby about to be born, and read us a poem by Sharon Olds. I hope this is not too derivative of Sharon Olds (who does this kind of intimate poem so well it is difficult to know where you start yourself after reading her work, I think!). Please leave me a comment if you have a view on this topic.

Worcester Park General Hospital

I’m kept in a box. I blink.

Smell hot plastic. Stretch out my hand

to watch a pattern of light redden.

I’m a glow-in-the-dark; half-fish

with slithery lungs in a ribcage supple as a slipper.

My skull’s pointed, yet to harden.

My hold on life is lax.

Mother’s face rises like a full moon

and her eyes cloud over with green.

I’ve lost her metronome heartbeat.

I’ve no idea of the comfort of her milk-tipped

nipple, nor the crook of her arm,

nor the rhythm of a walk in the park

with sycamore leaves to soften the sun’s stare.

Anne Caldwell

Journal of a Trainee Editor part 2

I had expected the summer months to be quieter and less busy, but with two books now on the go this was always going to be unrealistic! I have been working with Helena Nelson from Happenstance Press on my first poetry chapbook, and we have finally decided a title ‘Slug Language’. The process has been one of very fine tuning, looking at grammar, imagery and finding the exact words for poems. I have also continued to work with Ian Daley from Route on ‘Some Girls’ Mothers’ – a collection of non fiction on the theme of mothers and daughters. It is now flowing in a good order, and is ready to be proof-read. A cover has been discussed and I have had the difficult task of writing an introduction and blurb for the back of the book.

Helena Nelson shares Ian Daley’s attention to detail but the process of working on a poetry collection as apposed to creative non-fiction feels very different. There is less emphasis on narrative, more on concise use of language, and rhythm. I have enjoyed both processes immensely, and both have been very personal because of the subject matter of my poetry and the story I have written for ‘Some Girls’ Mothers.

I have always been a very visual person, as interested in art as in writing, so looking at images for the cover of both these books is something I relish. It feels like they suddenly acquire their own place in the world and are much less attached to me!

29th May, 2008

I have been working in the North West for the National Year of Reading this month, running reading workshops and creative writing workshops on the theme of well being. I have met some fantastic readers and writers, and have been greatly encouraged by asking readers what they got out of coming to a group. Their replies were very varied but many people said the experience extended their reading habits and that they would now try a whole range of new fiction.

I have been finishing a story for a new collection of pieces on the theme of mothers and daughters that I am putting together with five other writers and found it a challenge moving from poetry to prose. I have been working on how to get dialogue to sound authentic rather than stilted, and also how to structure a story in a balanced way. I have also been writing a new series of poems exploring old fairy tales, such as the six brothers who got turned into swans, and poems from the point of view of animals. I have been reading a number of books about wilderness – including WildWood by Roger Deakin (which is inspirational), Alice Oswald’s book of poems, Woods etc and The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane whose prose is like drinking spring water. Why this theme? My good friends Karen Smith and Helen Beale pointed me in this direction, knowing my interest in contemporary ways to write about ecology and the natural world. I think I also have a bit of cabin fever, so have been vacariously travelling in my head by reading this selection of books.

Feeling the Pressure

I have been reading a fantastic book edited by Paul Munden over Easter called Feeling the Pressure,  and published by The British Council in Switzerland. It includes new work on the subject of climate change interspersed with scientific fact and thoughtfully put together in a series of subject headings – such as Extremes and Impacts.  I recognise many writers in this collection but had not read their work on the subject.  I particularly enjoyed Neil Rollinson’s poem Amphibians which takes human beings in full circle and imagines them becoming toad-like again.  The poems’ language is very guttural, physical and full of the sound of rain. I also love the front cover of the book which features a very tactile barometer.