FOR many reasons, this summer has been a strange one for me. Not least among the oddities, quite how busy and split across different places it has been.

This coming week I am off to Penrith with the family. I find looking forward is the kind of activity that has a tendency to lead to disappointment. None the less, I am anticipating enjoying the scenery (please not toooooo much rain!), cycling and geocaching a special trackable object for the boys’ American cousins.

Geocaching is a kind of GPS treasure-hunting that my sister introduced us to while she was over here. We will be leaving the trackable at a cache in Cumbria having set it up with the aim of getting across to Pacifica, near San Francisco, California. The idea is both that the trackable visit various parts of the world on its way and that it will be racing a second trackable being sent from Pacifica over to us in Worcestershire. The cousins will see which reaches its international destination first!

Poems

What with the summer’s flurry of visits here, there and not-quite-everywhere, I’ve not been writing much. My audio version of ‘d’or – of/from gold echoes’ from Be[yond] is however now playing on The Loop at Radio Wildfire, along with some other great pieces of music, poetry and spoken word.

I’ve also just heard that another poem from Be[yond], entitled ‘After the Party’, will feature on the wonderful Ink, Sweat and Tears website some time later this year.

Reading

This week, in between planning the holiday and other things, I have been reading.

Firstly, I have been dipping back into Sarah Westcott’s Inklings , the flap pamphlet series. Sarah and I studied journalism together as a postgraduate diploma at the University of Wales, Cardiff. Poetry wasn’t at all on my radar then. It was lovely to find out a few years ago not only that Sarah was also now writing poetry but that she’s very good at it!

Inklings is proof of that. All of the poems are beautifully crafted and so many lines in there that I love. It really is quite wow! Overall, my particular favourites are ‘Exit’, ‘Crush’, ‘Vegetable’, ‘Owls’ and ‘Blue’. The titles don’t give the full flavour of the poems, obviously, but you can find out more about it here. (Or you can order it directly from her – slightly cheaper than Amazon – by emailing her at Sarah.westcottATtiscaliDOTcoDOTuk.

Another thing I also enjoyed in this pamphlet is the unusualness in subject matter of poems such as ‘Roots’, while the phrase “buses arrived | like warm thoughts” is one I will probably carry around with me for a while.

Secondly, I have just started enjoying Hello, the Roses by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, New Directions. This collection of pieces composed in long poetic lines is exactly the kind of writing I am very much enjoying right now.

Why is that? is a question I have been asking myself a lot. In part, it is the play and awareness of language, combined with beautiful striking images. But it is also the philosophical insight and how, to use Berssenbrugge’s own words in part three of Animal Voices: ‘Discontinuity becomes continuity’.

Perception and illusion, probability, light, shape and form…there are so many beautiful passages even in just the comparatively small section I have read so far that, if I started, I’d soon been reproducing large parts of the whole book.

Instead, I guess the best way of summing it up is that while it is very different in very many ways to the opening Against Air and Water section of Be[yond], it seems the kind of writing and consciousness that was running through when I was writing many of those poems. However, the words and ideas here feel more, better, shaped beads of threaded water, their fluidity so real.


Launches

Instead of sharing a poem from Be[yond], I’m going to take a break this week and share details of my September launches instead.

Droitwich Launch – Saturday, September 14 – Park’s Café,

4 Victoria Square, Droitwich, WR9 8DS

Sarah will be launching Be[yond] (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press) at Park’s Café, Droitwich, on Saturday, September 14, as part of this year’s SaltFest celebrations.

The evening, from 7pm – 9pm, will feature an hour of poetry, including readings from Sarah, as well as short slots from guest poets: Claire Walker, Andrew Smardon, Heather Wastie, Maggie Doyle, Polly Robinson, Jenny Hope and Gary Longden. *

The event is free and open to the public as well as invited guests. Park’s will be open for food as well as drink. But for those who’d like to make more of a social night of it, the plan is to go on for a curry at the Dilshad, Droitwich, afterwards. (Numbers for this by August 31, please.)

Leicester Shindig – Monday, September 16, 2013 – The Western Pub,

Leicester, 70, Western Road, LE3 0GA

Sarah will be one of the featured writers at this Crystal Clear Creators- Nine Arches Press event, which runs from 7.30pm to about 10pm and also includes a great open mic section.

Liverpool Launch – Saturday, September 21, 2013 – Mello, Mello Café,

40-42 Slater Street,
Liverpool L1 LBX (Entrance on Parr Street)

Sarah will be reading from Be[yond] as part of this Knives, Forks and Spoons book launch, also featuring readings from Robert Sheppard (The Given and The Only Life), Peter Hughes (Snowclone Detritus) and Mark Burnhope (Lever Arch).

Free entry. Doors open at 1pm for a 2pm start.

It would be lovely to meet and see some of my blog and website readers there, so please do come along if you can. And do come and say hi!

* About the launch guest poets:

Claire Walker’s work has appeared in print and online publications including Ink Sweat and Tears, Hearing Voices, Be: Magazine, PIYE and the poetry trail at Avoncroft Museum.

Andrew Smardon is a talented, published Oxfordshire poet.

Heather Wastie is a multi-talented poet and musician based in Kidderminster. She is Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet and her work is witty, often funny and poignant.

Maggie Doyle was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2012-2013. She is on the Worcestershire Literary Festival committee and is the festival’s Poet Emeritus.

Polly Robinson published her own collection of poetry last year. She has also been published in various anthologies and magazines in print and online.

Jenny Hope is a woman with a tree-thing. Her poetry collection Petrolhead was published by Oversteps Books in 2010 and she is involved in a range of poetry projects and workshop facilitating.

Gary Longden is a multi-talented performance poet and poetry promoter. His many, many arts roles include running the fantastic Poetry Alight nights in Lichfield.