Nothing wrong with distractions, and goodness I’m certainly welcoming them with open arms. But scroll down if you’re only here for the poetry stuff.
Distraction #1: Singing
A couple of weeks ago I was at Westminster Abbey with members of the Lewes Singers, for the fifth time, where we sang two evensongs in a spookily empty quire. We rather rattled around in there. But it was so fantastic to be able to sing again in one of our magnificent cathedrals. If you’re interested I’ve written a more detailed blog post about it here.
Distraction #2: London
A few days in London was a real tonic. And it’s still pretty quiet and tourist-free. We visited some more of the fascinating City churches, also the much-revamped Museum of the Home, and just enjoyed exploring London on foot.
We also went to the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy, The Arrival of Spring. It’s two (or three?) rooms of the paintings Hockney did in France during Spring 2020, recording the same trees, plants and landscapes as they transitioned from bare and cold to full greenery and colour. I was quite taken aback – the colours are just indescribably beautiful, and the whole idea of Spring and how it always comes back, no matter what… I don’t know why but I started welling up and before I knew it I was standing in the middle of the room completely in tears. I’ve never had that kind of reaction to any art, so it rather took me aback. I guess the last 18 months have been harder than I thought.
Distraction #3: Gardening
Actually I’ve been taking less care of the garden recently other than deadheading, sitting looking at the wonderful hibiscus that only flowers for one week in the year, and picking tomatoes. These are mostly the variety ‘Romello’, and they’ve been so soft and sweet – highly recommended.
And so to poetry…
I’ve had a few weeks of full-on Planet Poetry stuff, getting our new website up but mostly reading and preparing for interviews with (spoiler alert) Kim Addonizio, Martina Evans, Di Slaney and Sharon Black – you heard it here first! Series Two kicks off at the end of September. Subscribe in iTunes or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
I’ve also actually been writing some new poems – hurrah! – as well as receiving the odd rejection email, including one addressed to ‘Dear Francesca’ – ! Dear oh dear. Sorry about that Francesca – do you have my rejection email by any chance?
Last month Hastings Stanza had its first in-person meetup since – well – you can imagine – and I can report it felt quite momentous. Glorious in fact. And a few days ago I met up with my Telltale pals in a Brighton pub garden and downed many pints of beer, as well as being very loud and lairy. Sadly I don’t have their permission to share a photo here, though I am sorely tempted!
And finally, not poetry exactly but kind of – my bedside reading is currently A Length of Road by Robert Hamberger. It’s an utterly absorbing and very personal account of Rob’s walk in the footsteps of John Clare. It’s a meditation on Clare’s poetry, and also nature writing but mostly a beautiful and honest memoir, and perfect reading for the quiet night time journey down into sleep. It’s published by JM Originals. Definitely recommended.