A poem finds its illustration

Last week I had a splendid time at the Scarborough Literature Festival, hosting five events and meeting up with old friends, and making new ones.

One morning early I made my way to Sewerby Hall, on the outskirts of Bridlington, for a little photo-shoot as part of the promotion of the Bridlington Poetry Festival from the 14-16 June this year.


As I stood in front of the magnificent eighteenth century house I felt a bit as if I was posing for a Gainsborough, needing only a rifle, a dog and a brood of children to complete the scene.

At the end of our session Simon Kench, the very talented photographer, generously took four or five shots of me with some of the dog statues in the grounds of the house.

One photograph particularly struck me from these images. It seemed to perfectly illustrate a sonnet of mine from some time ago…here it is, from 'Some Things Matter: 63 sonnets' from Valley Press [October 2012]

I still sense him everywhere I go,
Shadow moving behind me silently,
Sombre elegance slipping to and fro,
But vanished when I turn to check and see.
In addition to this gentle haunting,
From him whose love I had for just a year.
I see him in a Georgian painting
Prancing ready to test the heath-land air.
Or in an ancient fresco on a wall
Of mounted warriors with sideways glances,
Whose bows and spears are bristling tall
Amongst the horses’ hooves he dances.
Caspar’s noble spirit is with us yet,
We shall remember him. We shall not forget.


Life is sweet...

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I found entry into 2013 surprisingly difficult, like diving deep into a chilly lake without breathing equipment, and coming to the surface freezing and fighting for breath. As if I had left 2012 as a poet, but had been asked to be a nuclear physicist on my return from the Christmas holidays. For weeks I seemed to stare at things glassily as if trying to work out what was going on, unable to gather pace, unsure of my next step.

And I don’t even have a physics O Level.

Then some time late in January I started enjoying things again, or perhaps started seeing things clearly once more. 2012 had been a year of very hard work, culminating in the publication of ‘Some Things Matter: 63 sonnets’, by the excellent Valley Press. Getting the slim volume ready was probably the hardest work of any story or collection I have ever been involved in.

And I regained sight of the fact that I am probably the luckiest person in the world in loving what I do, in working with fabulous people, in engaging with books and writing every day of my life, and being involved in so many great projects in the year ahead.

So here are some of the more public events I’m involved in, or have been, in 2013, which have bought a twinkle to my rheumy old eyes,

The Huddersfield Literature Festival, where I interviewed fabulous writer Joanne Harris.

The Headingley Literature Festival, where I am working with three local primary schools on the 2013 festival theme of ‘Lives and Loves.’

The Scarborough Literature Festival, where I’m interviewing a host of great writers.

The Bridlington Poetry Festival, where I’m running a sonnet-writing workshop and giving a reading.

Writers Holiday, Caerleon, where I’m giving a talk to the lovely delegates.

The NAWG Festival, where I’m running three poetry workshops

The Ilkley Literature Festival where I will be doing my usual hosting with my writing heroes, old and new.

In amongst all this I’m working in schools, with a variety of writing groups, performing my work at various venues, writing a commission for a conference in Cardiff in May, judging various poetry competitions and trying to get on even further with my adult novel.

Life is indeed sweet. But no physics please….