A Summer of Poetry

I’ve been busy over the summer, reading, writing and studying poetry and haven’t had time to write blog posts which I suppose is how it should be. But with autumn arriving and a new term about to start I’m taking the chance to reflect on the last couple of months.

The summer poetics kicked off with a five day MA residential at the University of Newcastle – a wonderfully immersion in poetry for the week and it seemed longer than five days in terms of learning. The whole thing was curated by the wonderful Tara Bergin, who assembled a team of poets who were in order of appearance – Peter Sansom, Anna Woodford, David Spittle, Helen Tookey, Sinead Morrissey, Sean O’Brien and Jacob Polley to work with us. I managed to fill an entire notebook with scribbles and jottings and the week included visits to the Hatton Gallery to see the Hans Uhlman exhibition and a private viewing of a poetry film https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4222028/videoplayer/vi962377497?ref_=tt_ov_vi at the Tyneside cinema. From the start we knew that by the end of July we had to write ten poems, one in response to each session, to submitted as an assignment. So my evenings were not spend painting the town red by typing up my notes of the day and writing drafts and reading the poems we’d been given – Rilke’s Ich bin auf der Welt zu allein and Bishop’s At the Seahouses were part of the mix and I really enjoyed the freedom we were granted to mess around with different translations of the Rilke poem.

I came back from Newcastle to hectic period of work and family commitments (a House of Lords reception for my day job and younger son going off to Peru with World Challenge). Soapart from an afternoon at Westbury Art centre for ‘Time to write’ it wasn’t until 23rd July that I was able to re-engage with the poems. I headed off to Corris in Mid Wales to Stiwdio Maelor for a week of peace and quiet. Stiwdio Maelor was established by the resourceful Veronica Calarco who bought and refurbished the house some years ago to provide up to four artists at a time with space to stay and work.

Mostly this is visual artists and during my stay Sharon Field and Janine Pinion were also in residence. Everyone gets on with their work and meets up in the evenings.

It was a blissful and productive week. There is no wifi unless you go to the pub or Idris Stores which removes the temptation to waste time. After the first day I found I’d got into that meditative state of writing, reflecting and re-writing in the peace and quiet of my white-walled room.
As well as the Newcastle poems I’d brought work from an earlier on-line course Transreading the Baltics. Going to Wales is like going home and always results in plenty of writing.

With the arrival of August came two fun poetry activities; I took part in the annual Poetry Postcard Fest, organised from the USA. This was my fourth year of writing postcards and perhaps because I’d spent the end of July immersed in poems it felt easy and natural. I’ll say more about the Fest in a separate blog.
Each day in August Live Canon sent a poetry treasure hunt email into my inbox celebrating the work of a particular poet. At the end of each email was a clue to encourage you to search for the answer in the poet’s work. One of the poets was H.D, whose work I haven’t read for a while so it was a pleasure to be reminded of her poems. I took advantage of a trip to Lancaster University at the end of the month to sit in the university library reading her Collected poems and have gone back to Bid me to Live to read again.

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