A busy month since I last posted. Firstly, some nice after-effects from my piece about poetry and motherhood. Carolyn Jess-Cooke has accepted one of my poems for her forthcoming Writing Motherhood blog, and I’ve been asked to curate an event around the topic at Latitude. I’ve also really enjoyed chasing up some of the poets you recommended – I was glad to see Sinead Morrissey’s Parallax win the TS Eliot prize, having downloaded it on Alison Brackenbury’s recommendation and found the poems about her children really intelligent and clear-sighted.
I didn’t make the Eliot readings this year though as I was in Reykjavik, failing to see the Northern Lights but otherwise having a wonderful holiday. It’s a tiny, suburban city, made of corrugated iron houses painted in a rainbow of colours, snow-capped mountains surrounding it. We saw whaling ships and the remains of a viking settlement, ate preserved shark (pissy), and bathed in the milky waters of the blue lagoon in swirls of steam. I sped through the thirteenth century Njal’s Saga whilst I was there, which is brilliantly readable – a tale of honour and blood-vengeance full of hard-boiled wit and characters with the best names ever (Mord Fiddle, Harald Fine-Hair, Grim, Glum. )
I also journeyed back to Bolton this month to read at the Octagon, which was a really lovely event – great to be back there seeing old friends in the audience as well as an interested contingent from the University of Bolton’s Creative Writing Department. An added bonus was meeting Jon Glover, editor of the brilliant Stand and one of poetry’s great enthusiasts, who ended up gifting me a pile of poetry books to read, including some by poets whose names I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know. Owen Lowery for example, published by the Northern House imprint of Carcanet, a former British Judo champion now tetraplegic following an accident, whose poems move deftly between high literature (poems after Celan) and Fabrice Muamba.
Then there was lots of teaching, some Palestinian translation, a show in Bedford, and the four box-files of writing that were couriered to my door from which to select the Arvon mentees. Not to mention Gruff started sitting and crawling! After a school visit followed by a nightclass this Monday I did feel slightly sick with tiredness, but was perked up by seeing a really thoughtful review of Ovid’s Heroines by Abigail Parry in the new Poetry London. And then yesterday I went to a mothers and babies screening of Inside Llewelyn Davis – about the 60s New York folk scene – which was depressing in its depiction of a struggling artist who never quite gets the break, but still just my sort of thing, and felt appropriate on the day the great Pete Seeger died. ‘Little Boxes’ is the first song of his I loved and I often sing it to Gruff – I love the way the sweet little tune is subverted by the vicious lyrics. So here it is – RIP :