Happy New Year everyone! Hope you enjoyed Christmas. I was very pleased with my presents, which included a wolf necklace, lots of gardening things (a grow-your-own wild mushroom kit, an insect ‘hotel’, some big pots), and The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, which is a very beautiful object and ideal for dipping into on these winter evenings. I’m particularly struck by some of the songs in women’s voices, such as the one pining for a sailor:
If I were a blackbird I’d whistle and sing
I’d follow the vessel my true love sailed in
and in the top rigging I’d there build my nest
and pillow my head on his lily-white breast
I also got a bonus present in the form of Ovid’s Heroines being included in The Guardian’s list of Readers’ Books of the Year, which seems a particularly nice list to be on.
Today 2014 is looking crisp and shiny. I’ve walked with the buggy up Telegraph Hill, and have been eating leftovers from our New Year’s feast (potted shrimps, runny cheese and apricots) and filling out my new diary. Just thought I’d update you with a few up-and-coming deadlines and dates. Firstly, for those who resolved to write more poems this year, there’s still time to sign up for my intermediate poetry course at the Poetry School on Wednesday evenings, and my two courses at the City Lit. I can also announce that I’ll be judging the Vers Poets open competition this Spring (deadline April the 30th). And I’m very pleased to be one of the Arvon/Jerwood mentors this year, along with David Eldridge and Jenn Ashworth – if you attended an Arvon course in 2013 you have until January the 13th to apply for a mentorship.
I’m also doing a couple of readings outside London this month, which will make a nice change. I’m particularly happy to be doing a reading at the Bolton Octagon on the 21st of January, as I don’t think I’ve read in my hometown for a decade, and when I was growing up I used to go regularly to see shows there with my mum. And I’ll be performing from Ovid’s Heroines at The Place in Bedford on the 26th, which I’ve heard is a fantastic venue. So lots to look forward to – hope to see some of you soon and that 2014 brings good things.