Archive for November, 2011

Had a very boozy weekend. On friday it was the opening night of Resistance, a film based on my friend Owen Sheers’ novel.  After watching it with cast and crew, there were drinks in a cool but poky members’ club (Michael Palin was having dinner there). It’s well worth seeing – a beautiful film. And who knew wales was so sexually tense?

On saturday I went for a multi-birthday family dinner with my in-laws at an Italian in Bray (scallops with black truffle and saltimbocca) then onto the launch of Tim Turnbull’s beautiful new limited edition book, The Camden Art Redemption Miracle (Donut Press). Tim is the most underrated poet in Britain today, and quite possibly a genius, so a new book by him is always a good reason to get pissed. Also, it has a cat’s arsehole on the back cover.

I was also celebrating because Bloodaxe have just taken on my new translation of Ovid’s Heroides, to be published in 2013. More on this project to follow, but very excited about it…

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Magazine Round-Up

Earlier this year I was invited to Budapest to take part in the ‘Visegrad Poets’ project, bringing together female poets across Europe to translate and read with eachother, along with Anna T Szabo (Hungary), Agnieszka Wolny-Hamkalo ( Poland), Katerina Rudcenkova (Czech) and Katarina Kucbelova (Slovakia). It was possibly the most fun week of work I’ve ever had, with lots of late nights talking politics and men with plenty of astingent Balaton wine, and Anna’s impossibly sweet chestnut pudding (not to mention a tipsy midnight trip to some ancient Turkish baths). Anyway, I’m very pleased that four of my translations from the trip are included in the autumn issue of Poetry London.

I was also pleased to see a very interesting, in-depth essay on my work by Adrian May in the new PN Review, ‘The Hang of Song: The Arctic Monkeys and Clare Pollard’, in which he discusses music and poetry, and compares our difficult fourth album/collection.

Finally, my India poem ‘A Night in Varanasi’ is now up at the very cool e-zine Beat the Dust

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A busy couple of weeks – Sheffield and Swansea with the Somalian tour, Lancaster, Yorkshire and Cornwall.

Cornwall was for my birthday. A friend kindly let us stay in his flat in Mousehole, and it was the last weekend of glorious weather.  On the first day we walked to Lamorna then ate scallops, and on the sunday we went to Zennor. I was burning to go there, partly because I’m a huge Katherine Mansfield fan, and that was where she joined DH Lawrence and Frieda in an attempt at communal living. Also, there’s a poem in my new collection, Changeling, about Zennor’s mermaid myth – a mermaid supposedly heaved herself up into the town to the church, following a man’s voice, and they fell in love.  (you can read it in Southword magazine). I’d been feeling rather guilty about the fact I wrote a poem about a place I’d never visited (what if I’d made some terrible error?)

Anyway, it was wonderful – yellow gorse, wild hills, the most intense blue sea. We saw the mermaid carved into the bench in the church, and then walked across the headland, past the bay where she climbed up, to a wonderful pub called the Gurnard’s Head for sunday lunch…

I love to get out of London and see a bit of nature, and tend to use the phrase: ‘a good haul’ when I see some cool things. In cornwall our haul was: a slowworm, a dead shrew and a hawk killing a sparrow mid-air.

Then last week I was in Yorkshire, teaching an Arvon ‘Starting to Write’ course with Tobias Jones. Arvon courses are taught in Ted Hughes’ old home in Lumb Bank, just down the hill from Plath’s grave in Heptonstall. The house is in a valley, which was bright with red leaves, and filled with mist in the mornings. The first night was Halloween, so we talked about Hughes’ belief that words had a magical, often dangerous, power and then wrote spells.  

The rest of the week rushed past in an exhausting blur of readings, sonnets, one-to-ones, open fires and red wine. And as he’s an expert on Italian corruption – check out his fantastic book The Dark Heart of Italy –  Tobias was very good company in the last days of Berlusconi. 

Then to Lancaster, to see my family who all live there now. I was honoured to help my four-year-old niece Rose with her first sparkler, and went to the RSPB marsh Leighton Moss with my mum. Our haul was: some red stags, teal, shovellers, a lapwing and a cloud of starlings that swirled from one end of the sky to the other.

In other news, my Any Winehouse poem features in the new e-zine of Digital Behemoth. It’s in the style of Frank O’Hara’s ‘The Day Lady Died’ (about Billie Holiday).

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