David Underdown's wonderful Calder Valley Poetry pamphlet, 'Snig', landed on my doormat on a grey November day and I've been enjoying the poems ever since. Here's one I love - appropriate for me at the moment as I'm in the process of moving house.
I'm back in Italy, and this week our small town smells like heaven; ivy blossoms are opening all along our garden fence, and on walls and trees and hedges all around town. Magical! The bees are delighted too. They've reminded me of this poem, from my collection 'White Roads' (Paekakariki Press 2018)
Before Closing Time
What would it taste like, ivy honey?
Would you dare? On my mind’s tongue
I sample green notes dulled by dust,
how it would tease my throat;
cling with a passion, hint at poison.
There are only so many harvest days.
Today, the bees are frantic;
hundreds reel between the flowers.
They can’t stop, it’s so plentiful -
there’s more music in the garden
than that day the pears were picked
in a hurry; the day before Winter.
Yes, they’re all still open: waxy petals
in the ivy tree, bees’ restless wings.
A pandemic year in London
It's passed like no time at all, and like an infinity. This zoom reading with in-words of Greenwich will reflect on it, grieve for it, flee from it, keep trying to survive it. Joining friends in poetry world on zoom has been at times hard work this year, but always a lifeline. I hope many of my poetry reading and writing friends will be there.
ONE YEAR ON – Thursday March 25 at 7.30 on Zoom
A year of lockdowns, tiers, brief respites, losses and resilience – and yet it’s flown, thanks partly to Zoom and the internet in general. We’ve all become more adept at technology, baking, entertaining ourselves and making do, maybe even at realising what’s not essential and can be let go of…
With so many uncertainties about dates, loosening of restrictions etc, it’s good to have a definite date for something as lovely as this… One Year On is definitely going ahead, featuring Rosie Johnston, Alex Josephy, Colin Pink, Jacqueline Saphra and Rob Walton. They will be offering their takes on these last weird twelve months in verse and prose (Rosie).
There will be plenty of smiles and some sadness, nostalgia for ‘before’, anger and questions. Expect to hear words that, at some point, we have all said or thought – but crafted in ways unique to these fabulous wordsmiths.
This event is free by invitation. If you wish to be sent a Zoom link, please email
I'm looking forward (with a lot of hope and a little imagination) to
my first ever Aldeburgh reading!
Sadly, this is 2020, and so it will be on Zoom. But it is still an honour, and all weekend I'll be thinking of fish and chips, bracing beach walks and poems shouted into the sea breeze!
Catch the reading: Between Places: Britain and Europe
12.00 - 13.00
Saturday 14th November 2020
with fellow Europhiles Sharon Black, Christopher North and Fokkina McDonnell
For me, a Zoom launch is a new and strange experience. Wonderful in some ways - people can attend without leaving their comfortable chairs in studies, kitchens and living spaces all over the world! But also a little detached, without the warm, sparky interactions of a live reading.
For anyone who was unable to 'come' to the launch, here is a recording. I put it here with heart in mouth, in all its imperfection.
There are moments where the connection is not good, and there are a few interruptions,. including (SPOILER ALERT!) someone interjecting 'Oh f@*k!' as they struggle with the Zoom technology! But if you can rise above that, it is otherwise, I think, quite a good recording. And perhaps all that is just wabi-sabi, the imperfection that makes precious things all the more special! Or so I like to think.
Many thanks to starry PIndrop Press editor Sharon Black, and co-reader Liz Bahs, also launching her lovely collection 'Stay Bones'.
Here's a link to the reading:
Very excited to have in my hands the first copies of my new collection, now available from PIndrop Press, Naked Since Faversham!
Putting the final touches to the collection, with the help of PIndrop editor Sharon Black, has been quite wonderful - moments of joy in these frightening, uncertain times. For me, collaborative work is always heartening, and in that, PIndrop excels.
We're planning an online launch reading later this month or next.
Meanwhile, here is a reading recorded at Woking Write Out Loud, including two poems from the collection.
Click here to see and hear the reading.
There's always so much to see, read and hear at Free Verse, which was held last weekend at Conway Hall, with great Poetry Cafe snacks popping up there too. A round of applause for the delicious dal!
This year I couldn't stay for long, but managed to catch eloquent readings by Pindrop Press poets, Liz Bahs, Marie Naughton and Lucy Wadham, and also Green Bottle poets Julian Stannard (witty narratives to warm the heart) and Caroline Davies' engaging feminist re-telling of Noah's Ark.
Great to see news of forthcoming titles from Paekakariki Press too... I'll be impatiently waiting to read these new collections from Ruth Wiggins, Isabel Bermudez, Sian Thomas and other poets I've yet to get to know.
Looking forward to a couple of days at the seaside! I'll be reading with Janet Sutherland, whose collection 'Home Farm' enchanted me last year. Poems, writers, and oh please, an ice cream or two, even though it's the season of February storms.
I'll be reading poems from 'White Roads' at this festa next Saturday, 12th October, in the hilltop church at San'Angelo in Colle.
Dual language event, with help from Lisa Annicchiarico and readings in Italian and extra poems by Matilde Albertin.
The whole weekend looks great - follow the link here to find out more!
Salaiola Festa in September was really lovely - a jewel of a poetry event in a remote corner of southern Tuscany. Even though I arrived late, the highlight for me was walking up into the steep woods outside the village with organiser Kevin Zweck and assorted Italian poets, to sit in a shady rocky ravine that seemed a million miles for the cares of the world. We just waited to see what words might come...and of course, the world was there anyway, in the rocks and the cascading water and even in the ivy strands hanging down into the ravine, waiting to be noticed or not noticed, needing nothing other than our quiet respect . Why is that so difficult, I wondered.
Later there were readings (and a philosophical talk) from some wonderful poets, including Kalyna Temperley and Kevin Zweck. Not to mention the delicious never-ending buffet prepared by the village Circhio. A real treat.
I like what Franz Kafka said: