What with half-term and heading up to Sherwood Forest, it’s been a busy few weeks. Traces of this can be seen in the pictures here and the kindsofhappy below. However, the break is rapidly taking its place on memory’s bookshelf, as I get back into the swing of work.

This week my poem ‘Black Pebble’, written in the wake of a university Arvon course, was published in the lovely web journal, Antiphon. It can be read here. You can also listen to me read it in the recording of my Carol Ann Duffy and Friends reading last month, which I have now uploaded to the website.

I also had lovely news this week that one of my poems is to be included in the Raving Beauties Bloodaxe anthology due out next spring…so watch this space on that one!

On Thursday, I’m heading down to London to record a 30 minute interview with Anna McKerrow for Resonance radio. The interview is part of a series featuring Knives, Forks and Spoons Press poets. I’m looking forward to sharing some poems from Be[yond] and talking about the motivations, poetics and inspiration that went into it.

#100kindsofhappy (continued)

68.
from dust to dust, star
to star – when open palms touch
warmth sparks, fingers bind

69.
pink mouse pyjamas
fluffy cat slippers, owl specs
no wild domestics

70.
where owls hoot softly
swallows reap warm skies, fowls coo
a sleep of sun(g) dreams

71.
the hope I live in
no walls except those I choose
homes woven with warmth

72.
hands as butterflies
steadied by branches, wings spread
flutter of typed flight

73.
green leaf bowed by rain
blossom bough arced by apples
earth’s pull, tongue’s curved wait

74.
thoughts’ growl quietened
to non-semantic hum
merged with the day’s music

75.
singing him night ‘stars’
my crescent hug, his sleep smile
warm in moonlight sheets

76.
driving window down
air in hair, sun stroking skin
warm, relaxed steering

TO BE…cont’d

Otherwhere – Microwreview

I’m a long-standing fan of Catherine Smith’s work, both as a poet herself, and a generous and supportive editor when she was at The New Writer. I owe a lot to her encouragement and editing suggestions in those early days of my poetry.

It was a delight then to pick up and dive into her latest collection Otherwhere (Smith/Doorstep). The poems within are all ones that are both here and also take the reader else/otherwhere, through the sensual language and imagery and the imaginative turns.

There are moving poems of family and childhood, both the real relatives and the family that the poet persona might have had. Smith’s beautiful precise descriptions are accompanied by light touches of exciting and breath-taking imagination. To put it another way, they are full of lines that make me gasp with an ‘oh!’ of appreciation.

As well as poems of family relationships, there are poems of post-natal depression what it is, or can be, to be a woman more generally. Sometimes these are through a relatively straight-forward ‘I’ poet persona. Other times, she borrows the voice of characters from history, such as Eve’s prison tale, a poem about Adam’s funeral and the Virgin Mary’s ear.

As well as mythical allusions, there is humour – poems such as the Spaghetti Harvest. There are also haunting and unsettling poems, such as the title poem, The Lip Stitcher and the anorexia in Namesake. Subject-wise these may be disturbing but the poetry is striking.

The imagination and inventiveness is not restricted to the contents of the poems. It can also be found in the crafted forms, including a ‘read upwards’ poem that also makes a beautiful strange kind of sense when read in the normal downwards fashion.

For me, this is a collection that is simultaneously easy and delightful to read but at the same time hooks me back in so that I want to re-read the poems for the pleasure of being struck by something different the next time around.