After a month in London during the week, I am now finally back home in Worcestershire. At least, I am until Tuesday, when we head off as a family to Halloween at Muncaster!

London has been a month of discoveries and projects. As well as pushing up my swimming stamina (lanes in a 30m pool heaven!), taking in a few exhibitions (including London’s fabulous Frieze Art in Regent’s Park) and a poetry workshop run by Pascale Petit, I have also been busy working on my two main poetry projects.

I now, finally, have a full first draft of my MA portfolio/mainstream(ish) collection plenty-fish ready to sit down for proper editing after half-term. (The individual poems have already been drafted and redrafted numerous times, so I’m hoping this won’t be toooooo stressful a job.) I also now have a full first draft of my experimental (and somewhat multi-disciplinary) The Magnetic Diaries. (This less further developed in terms of drafting and re-drafting individual poems but at a very exciting stage.)

The writing and publication process is full of joys – and traumas – but, if I had to choose a favourite part, it would probably be this stage of pure creation. Normally, the editing stage is a mixture of this tempered by the anxiety/fear of not getting it quite perfect; whole poems falling to pieces; the overall structure not hanging together as well in reality as it did in my head.

I had expected having two projects on the go at the same time to be distracting, fragment my focus etc. However, I have been really surprised to find that, because they are so different, they are actually helping the editing process of the other. They seem to bounce off each other and stop my head becoming stale with too much of any one thing.

Other projects and news includes being accepted to take part in the Satellite Collective’s Telephone project,whereby I am writing a poem in response to another artist’s video. Ekphrasis is an area I’ve always enjoyed and this project is different in that it is more directly ‘translational’, as opposed to extending in some way beyond the inspiring art form. (The aim is to see whether/how the original message given to the first artist is successfully translated (rather than developed) through various art forms.)

I have also contributed a poem to the Against Rape campaign/feature on Michelle McGrane’s Peony Moon from November 1. To be honest, this has to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to write about/for. The cause, obviously, is worth it.

My Oxford University/Radcliffe Science Library Parallel Universes winning poem, ‘Transplanted’ is also now up on the Bodleian Libraries’ website. The poems are also set to be displayed in Oxford’s History of Science Museum from November 22 until January.

I was also delighted to receive the latest Exmoor Review this week, with my poem ‘Snatches of the Moor’ inside. This won second prize in the last Hope Bourne Poetry Competition and it was lovely to read the beautiful winning poem by Cristina Navazo-Eguia Newton.

Where there is writing, there is reading. My reads of the past few weeks have included:

b/c by d.e.oprava (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press) – What drew me to this first was the stunning cover – gorgeous warm colours. I read the sample on the website, and loved it. The collection itself is visually appealing – the symbols, layout and fonts. The fragmented text is full of the kind of word play, sound play and (philosophical/psychoanalytical/obeservational) insights that intrigue and delight me.

Petrachan by Kristina Marie Darling (BlazeVOX) – I’ve heard it said reviews don’t tend to lead to booksales. Maybe I’m an exception, because I do buy books on the basis of reviews. BUT NOT because of any praise given in the reviews, more on the basis of samples from the collection included within, or alongside, the review. Footnote poetry is new to me, and what better way to discover its potential – the fragments here are beautiful, bewitching and (probably) infinitely re-readable!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera – My rave of the week! All the more amazing that, for once, it’s not poetry. This is one of those books that makes me think how come I haven’t read this before now?! The writing is beautiful, almost poetry in places. The characters and storylines gripping, the psychoanalytical/philosophical/human condition observations so spot on, it is sometimes like the punch in the stomach that good poetry brings. And, yes, by the end, I was crying!

From reading and writing to outside next week, as we head to Muncaster (castle and grounds) for a few days of Halloween fun, walking, cycling and who knows what other wet and rainy havoc!

And looking even further ahead, I’m delighted to have a guest slot at Poetry Bites in Bimringham next March (25th), alongside the talented Helen Calcutt. Hopefully, the first of more Be[yond] readings next year!