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Two events coming up this summer

I have just had a poem published in Magma no.44 and I am delighted as I think it is such a good magazine. I am going to its launch event at The Troubadour in London 8pm on the 22nd June. Please come and join me if you are around that evening. I will post up the poem once the magazine is in production.

Magma issue 43

I am also doing an event with Nell Farrell, Char March and others at the Lowdon Literature Festival on Saturday 20th June at 6.30pm. We are reading from ‘Some Girls’ Mothers.

I have been following quite a lot of material in the papers about the Poet Laureate and want to congratulate Carol Ann – this seems a very important step forward for women and poetry in particular and I am really pleased to see the raised profile the art form has. I just hope the actual Laureate post does not have a detrimental affect on her work. I wonder if there is a better way of celebrating poetry in this country? It seems such an archaic institution. I would prefer something that did not focus on one person and had a wider spread. I would be interested to hear what other people think.

Working in Schools

I have been doing quite a lot of new residencies this year -both with animation artist Jack Lockhart and by myself. A lovely primary school in Wetherby called Lady Elizabeth Collingham employed me to work over a number of days with their pupils on the theme of the second world war – which was quite a challenge. A year three class wrote fantastic poems on the theme of evacuation and a creative teacher called Pauline Ross came up with the idea of putting these poems inside suitcases made of paper:

Poem by Year 3 Pupil

I have also been working in a primary school in Oldham on the theme of encouraging boys to read more books where the boys have worked separately from the girls. This process was interesting, as the boys freely admitted they were keen readers without the girls present!

Happy New Year

I have done very little writing over the Christmas Period but lots of reading. I would recommend two new books of poetry that I have really enjoyed for different reasons.

The first is Womens’ Work (seren) with a great introduction by Eva Salzman/Amy Wack and the other is ‘Answering Back’ edited by Carol Ann Duffy – which includes poets responding to another published poet and was a great way in to re-thinking some old favourites as well as discovering new work by people really enjoy reading.

I have also just read ‘Waterlog’ by Roger Deakin and absolutely loved it. That’s it on the holiday reading front. I am back to work tomorrow.

Happenstance Launch Dec 08

It gave me great pleasure to take part in a wonderful event up in Edinburgh in December alongside a fantastic range of other poets published by Happenstance. Helena Nelson was a great compere and the event took place in a Thai Restaurant just down from the Scottish Poetry Library (that was experiencing flooding!)

I felt in the company of some great new friends and was amazed by the range and quality of the work.  It felt invigorating to hear poetry from all over the UK at the same event.

‘Some Girls’ Mothers’ Tour

Some Girls Mothers Book Cover

I am half way through a pre-view tour of the book, ‘Some Girls’ Mothers’ will my fellow writers, Char March, Clare Shaw, River Wolton, Nell Farrell and Suzanne Batty. We have been to libraries and venues in the North West so far, and audience response has been great. Lots of discussion about the book, and feedback from people. We have sold quite a few too! Here is a link to a fantastic short video that Ian Daley from Route made of the first gig:


It has been a challenge for me to think about performing with a group of people, instead of by myself. We have used props, a plinth, and had coaching from radio/drama director Polly Thomas. All this has really helped the shape and structure of the piece. I think I enjoyed performing in Oldham the most so far, because I was confident, didn’t fluff any lines, and people laughed! I could not quite believe that. We are hoping to do a much larger tour next year in 2009. Route have published the book, and we have also had support from a great group of librarians and Jane Mathieson from Time to Read. I have also run workshops as part of this project and people have written some cracking material. The workshop punters have been very diverse and had a great deal to say about family relationships. It has been a careful path to tread through peoples’ memories, and one that has delighted and saddened me at the same time. How do we all get through being parented, and then being parents ourselves?!

A sample of poems

Here is a sample of three poems from ‘Slug Language’  to whet your appetite. I am not sure whether appetite and slugs fit well in the same sentence.


I am having a busy week this week.  I am launching the poetry book on Friday in Chorlton in Manchester and done a preview event on the collection of creative non fiction stories, ‘Some Girls’ Mothers’ on Saturday in Little Sutton Library.  Wish me luck!

Slug Language

I am delighted to hold a copy of my first collection of poetry from Happenstance Press in my hot little hand and weep!  Please forgive me for having an emotional moment but it has felt such a long time since the gestation of this work began.  Probably when I was eight years old and now?  Well, I am much much older than that and probably not much wiser.

The design of this chapbook is great, and the editing with the support of Helena Nelson has been a process of refining and polishing.  At times it has felt like shaping a well loved piece of furniture.  French Polishing and Poetry? This sounds like some-one’s PHD thesis.  The first person I gave a copy of the collection to was my good friend and work colleague Beverley Ward.  Beverley is a writer and literature consultant from Sheffield.  She read the book home on the train from a meeting we had together and texted me to say the book was ‘genuinely beautiful’ and added ‘I haven’t read poetry I’ve enjoyed so much in years’.  As you can imagine, I am thrilled to bits.  Here are details of my launch and you are very welcome to come:

Anne Caldwell

manky poets

Anne Caldwell – Friday 17th October 2008


25 to 30 minutes guest spot, from 9pm.



The readings are in the backroom of Chorlton Library 0161 881 3179

Manchester Road, Chorlton cum Hardy Manchester M21 9PN

For a map and directions, type the postcode into

(or the aa, or google maps)

Launch of Slug Language

(Happenstance Press) (can buy on line)

Anne Caldwell’s poetry has a strong lyric voice. Her tone is sensuous, earthy and full of wisdom. Many of her poems pay homage to a tradition of nature writing but pose a new sense of urgency: balance is threatened with floods, storms and heat. This is a poet with something to say. Her poems about childbirth and parenthood achieve the ‘difficult combination of intimacy and universality’ (Michael Symmons Roberts). Firmly rooted in landscapes of the North of England, this confident first collection explores the unspoken territories between siblings, parents, children and lovers.

Anne Caldwell is fascinated by bones and music, sea and stone. Theses elements form a backbone of imagery in her work as solid as the Pennine hills in which she now lives.

‘Pain and joy are equal contenders in these poems, but delight is what wins through-delight and tenderness.’

Helena Nelson

Journal of a Trainee Editor

Earlier this year, myself and a group of writers called ‘Poets with a Kick’ were awarded an arts council grant to develop a new publishing and performance project on the theme of mothers and daughters. My own part in this project has been varied. I am booking a tour, writing a creative non fiction for the book and learning editing skills by working alongside Ian Daley from Route. What have I learnt so far on this journey?

Suzanne, Anne, River, Clare, Char, Nell and baby Niamh

Attention to detail, I think. And to aim for quality. I am a skilled editor when it comes to poetry, but creative non-fiction is a whole new genre for me, and the biggest learning curve has been how to approach a narrative, and support a writer to find a narrative structure that works for the content of their writing and keeps a reader hooked. This will probably take a much longer apprenticeship for me to perfect, but so far, I would describe the process as learning to structure a piece of music. My own writing for this project did not have a clear point of emotional impact, and now its structure builds in the middle, and connects the reader to an unfolding series of events. So thank you Ian Daley. Our provisional title for the book is ‘Some Girls’ Mothers and it will be out in October 2008. I will use this blog to chart some more editing skills as the project develops.

Allotment arts event, April 08

This month I have put together a two day residential at The Birchcliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge for a range of artists from all different disciplines to share their creative practice.  Funded by The Arts Council, this event was a response to taking part in a conference in Oxford last year called Invigorate that brought together mid-career artists to discuss future policy.  That conference was very argumentative, and in contrast, the two days in Hebden were a journey through live art, visual art, drama, poetry and many other art forms exploring how artists were shaping their current work.  Highlights for me included a wonderful sculpture on the carbon cycle by Lizz Tuckerman that she erected in the garden of the centre, and a song that filled the whole interior of the Weslyan Chapel we also hired by Julie Mcnamara.  But there were many other moments of inspiration, discussion, good food and company.  I am hoping to archive this event via a web site that is being put together at the moment with Simon ZImmerman and when the material is ready I will post the details up on this blog.  I want to say a huge thank you to the nine artists who took part in this event with me, because it takes guts to share your work in progress, warts and all, with your peers, especially with a group of peers exploring their work with a sense of maturity, and years of experience under their belts.  I am not implying this was a group of people hitting mid-life questions, but some of that did take place over the two days!