At university, they had a reading week instead of half-term. I’m trying to follow this example, though practice is proving harder than theory with the boys at home and deadlines looming.

I’m delighted that my Wordpool competition poem that has been animated for the Blackpool Illuminations is now available to watch online.

That Night from Wordpool on Vimeo.

Since I last blogged, I have had two environmental poems accepted for The Stare’s Nest and a news-inspired poem ‘The Things We Can’t‘ published on Poetry24. I have been writing a fair few news-related stories lately, particularly where there is an environmental angle. This poem on Poetry24 is not environmental, but sparked by Ebola concerns. Part of this though is the way in which such problems are regarded differently when they start to spread to western countries. (It’s also written in quite a different style for me!)

I also have a poem coming up for Abegail Morley’s ‘collection of sheds’ over on her The Poetry Shed blog. Because I actually have a study rather than a shed (warm heart of the house, yay!!!), my poem is very much of a ‘language’ shed kind.

Place , history and the environment have been playing an increasingly bigger part in my more recent poems. This is perhaps partly in contrast to the narrative poems on The Magnetic Diaries, but also maybe a reflection of my age and concerns about the world that my children will live in.

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My microrview this blog post is Liz Berry’s Black Country from Chatto and Windus. Hearing Berry read at this year’s Birmingham Literature, I was wowed by the soft yet insistent lilt of her voice and how beautiful she made the accent and dialect of the area. I was both excited and nervous to see if the poems would hold up to this beauty when read from the page rather than performed by Berry. I was absolutely delighted to find that they do.

These poems contain many beautiful images, the right balance of dialect to add texture and richness without becoming confusing to those unused to these phrases, and plenty of space on the page so that the words can sing. Many of the poems contain lines so achingly and resonantly beautiful that I found I had to pause between poems to allow myself time to absorb this before moving on with a clear head and emotions to the next poem.

Place – the Black Country – is strong in this collection, but it is very much a landscape of people rather than a static urban scene. And for all the poems are full of Midlands’ towns, they also evoke the green areas, the trees, nature and birds. The people and their stories set modern retellings of The Red Shoes alongside characters and narratives that seem specific to the Black Country, though universal in their emotions and concerns of love, life and survival. I would absolutely recommend this collection.

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Walking is another thing that is playing a part more and more in my poetry process. Like swimming, I find it an excellent way of exercising the rhythm of a draft poem. I had a lovely time at Ledbury this Saturday – chat, poetry (Edward Thomas, Robert Frost) and walking in a workshop led by Anna Stenning.

Being half-term and committed elsewhere, I wasn’t able to make the Tears in the Fence birthday festival this weekend, though I was there in spirit and with a few pieces of photographic word and visual play.

It sounds like the festival was a great success, with plans for another next year already under way!

Meanwhile, I am hoping to sneak some time over the next few days to read Pascale Petit’s Fauverie and more of Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns, which I’m enjoying through a Poetry School reading course.

I will also be preparing my set for Worcester Speakeasy, where I’m delighted to be headlining next month. This takes place upstairs at The Old Rectifying House in Worcester (WR1 3NN) on Thursday, November 13 from 7.30pm. I’m aiming to mix some poems from Be[yond] in with some of my recent competition poems and a preview of some new work from next year’s collections.