Monday, 26 November 2018

Winter Poetry Cards

Edit: these are now SOLD OUT.  Thank you all for your interest!

There was interest over on instagram in some poetry cards for christmas!  I've put together a small number of them with three different poems and designs, and they're now available to buy.

Each card is printed on recycled paper using environmentally sound practices, and will be sent using plastic free packaging.  They each feature original writing by me, either an extract or a whole poem, and beautiful photography by Victoria Kuzmina and the wonderful Annie Spratt (whose work you might have seen in Creative Countryside magazine). 

Pack of 5 choices

There are several options: each individual design, a pack of all 3, and a pack of 5 comprising whatever combination you'd like.  Just choose from the drop down menu!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Steps out of Stillness

Delighted to announce my next workshop, which will be held at the Radnorshire Arts and Crafts Foundation.  This summer I have been working on an online course that will get you writing, no matter what problems you may have encountered along the way, and this workshop is a condensed, adapted version.  So far it has proven extremely useful to those that have done it!  It consists of exercises and approaches to creativity that you will be able to apply to your own writing for years to come.

What do you do when you can't think of anything to write?  What if you have an idea, but you don't know what to do with it?  What if you have so many ideas all clamoring to be written, and you end up getting nothing finished?

Steps out of Stillness is not a five step plan to a poem or story, but rather a series of exercises that will help you find your own path, and then set you loose to blaze your own trail.  It teaches not how to write, but how to be a writer.

This workshop is designed for those who need help either breaking out of writer’s block, returning to writing after a period of inactivity, or those just starting to think about writing who would benefit from structured exercises and a thoughtful approach to exploring their own practice.  It is also suitable for experienced writers wishing to expand and sustain their creative practice.

The workshop will focus on equipping you with new strategies and techniques for generating work, leaving you more self-sufficient in your inspiration. 
Please bring with you any notebooks that you have been keeping, as we will be using them during the afternoon.

The Old School, Whitton.  1.30 – 4.30, £28 including afternoon tea.

Contact to book.  

Please note this workshop is now sold out.  I will be adding another date in the new year, if you would like to be put on the list for that, or on the waiting list for the November date in case of cancellation, please let me know.

Monday, 27 August 2018

A Story with a Secret

On Sunday the 26th of August, in the roar of the rain, I launched my new pamphlet Full Moon on Fish Street in the gallery at the Radnorshire Arts and Crafts Foundation.  It was a wonderful morning and a packed house!  I was thrilled when fellow poet Emma van Woerkom agreed to come and read along with me, and enjoyed every minute of her wonderful reading.

Full Moon on Fish Street is a chapbook of poems and prose that tell a story.  Put simply, it's a story about an artist and her muse.  But things are never that simple, are they?

The thing I love most about Full Moon on Fish Street is that it's a story with a secret.  I don't think the secret will be obvious on the first reading, but it is there, like a flash of silver hiding between pebbles on a beach.

If you'd like to purchase a copy, head over here to my publications page Full Moon on Fish Street is printed on recycled paper, and each one of the 100 copies printed has been signed and numbered by me.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Full Moon on Fish Street out soon!

Back in spring I began #the100dayproject, a multi-discipline art project where participants pledge to spend 100 days producing work in their chosen medium.  I had just come back from a visit to St Ives at the time, with a notebook full of scribbled facts and sketches and the germs of poems.  I wrote about the inception of the project in a blog entry here

A hundred days is a long time - I definitely did not write every day, but I did make a point of thinking about it for a while each day, whether it was during a drive somewhere, or a quiet moment at home, or while out walking the dog.  And now at the end of the 100 days I am delighted to say that I will be publishing one of the products of my project as a pamphlet!

Full Moon on Fish Street is a chapbook of new work written during the last 100 days.  It will be published by Beautiful Dragons Press at the end of August, with a small launch during the Presteigne Festival at a nearby art gallery (see my events page for details!).

Putting it together has been an interesting process, because I didn't really set out to write it.  In fact, for my 100 day project, I didn't really think about what the end product of 100 days of work might be at all, I simply wrote.  What emerged has resolved itself into two pieces of work: a body of prose and poetry that will become Full Moon on Fish Street, and an as yet unfinished novella of speculative fiction.  But more on the latter another time.

During the project I became interested in the idea of using blackout poetry to explore a heritage of women's writing about the sea.   In particular, that of Virginia Woolf, whose work had drawn me to St Ives and to the Tate Gallery, where the hundreds of works of art on show there demonstrate a richness of inspiration bequeathed on the artistic community by her writing.  Armed with a copy of To The Lighthouse and an ancient, complaining photocopier, I began to explore the idea.  It seemed particularly appropriate after days spent looking across the bay at the very lighthouse which had inspired the titular building in Woolf's novel.  I particularly liked the challenge of writing poems using only a specific, limited set of words which changed each time the page of source text changed.

My approach to blackout poetry is a slippery one.  Each poem in the pamphlet is distilled from a page of To The Lighthouse, mostly.  The words appear in the order that the appear on the page, mostly.  The words are mostly unaltered, except where they aren't.  Blackout poetry isn't so much an act of appropriation as an ever changing poetic form.  Instead of leaving the words pinned to the page, surrounded by redacted text and black ink, I have lifted them completely, divorced them from their maternal phrases, shaped them into something new. 

It was a kind of game: I went looking for stories hidden between the lines of another story; for a hidden text visible only to my eye.   

Full Moon on Fish Street is the story I found.  It is a story told through poems and extracts of prose, set in the St Ives of the past, but not quite our own past.  It is a story about an artist who falls in love with her muse.


Full Moon on Fish Street will be limited to a signed and numbered edition of 100 copies.  It will be available to buy only at my events, from my website, and a few selected local retailers.  If you would like to subscribe to this blog in order to be updated when it becomes available, scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email address in the box marked "follow by email"

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Creative in the Countryside...

Really pleased to announce that I am now Poetry Editor at Creative Countryside Magazine!

Earlier this year I wrote a piece on taking inspiration from a familiar landscape for their Spring issue (still available here).  I loved working on it, and have been a fan of the magazine since its first issue back in Autumn of last year.  It's a beautifully produced magazine.  Although the title of my book is The Other City, I grew up in the countryside and take enormous inspiration from the natural world now that I'm back in it after a few years of living in cities.

The ethos of the magazine is one I can fully get behind:  Wholehearted slow living.  Embracing the seasons.  The sharing of stories and traditions.  A sensitivity to the environment and the ways in which it might inspire us.  It's rare among magazines for being entirely advert free which says a lot.  Its focus is not just poetry but on simple, sincere creative non-fic from around the UK that aims to capture the magic of the turning year.

As poetry editor I aim to source diverse work with an emphasis on up-and-coming poets.  If this is you, I would love you see some work!

For submissions guidelines, please see my contact & submissions page.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018


The train seems to speed along a secret promontory in the landscape, away from which precipitous towns tumble toward their estuarine heartlands.  From its windows fields of flowering gorse are visible between tangled banks of brambles; in gullies crowded with stunted oaks and elder, moss covers everything.  Gulls roost in the empty golf courses.  It is a strange, arrested landscape: the climate’s urge towards lushness is halted by the sea wind which blows over everything, always.

Slowly the rain lessens and is replaced by a skimming of cloud and the thin sun intermittent on water.  A heron circles its own shadow and lands in the shallows of the river’s spread.  The splayed ribs of a sunken boat rise out of the water here, black as charcoal, like some reticulated beast.

At St Erth there are periwinkles tangling around the signposts along the platform.  Wooden railings painted in thick white paint separate the London – Penzance platform from the St Ives branch line.  There are flowers growing in concrete troughs, and in the old ticket office a little tea room sells scones and bacon rolls.  The smell of hot bacon drifts out onto the platform along with a muffled strain of Sinatra.  

Inside the walls are papered with romantic old railway posters of painted landscapes, their blues and yellows almost psychedelic in their brightness.  Penzance and Guernsey glow from their little squares alongside Whitby and the Lakes.  Next to one of the three small tables is one advertising Herefordshire ("Fair land of enchanting beauty!).  I choose a seat there, drinking hot chocolate that comes with two ginger biscuits balanced on the saucer. 

There is about the place a sort of self-conscious nostalgia, evident in the apologetic frowny-face drawn on the sign informing me they can take only cash; in the towers of wedge-shaped cake slices piled under plastic domes.  A young mother sits in one corner feeding her toddler Quavers one by one.  “Are we going to the sand?” he keeps asking her.  “Where is the sand?”  

Outside a wagtail hops about in the softened air.  The kind of drizzle is falling that remains invisible until you are wet.  Each half hour a train for St Ives pulls up to platform 3 with its dead end butted up against the little ticket office, disgorges three or four passengers, then moves off again the way it came.  The beleaguered lelandii along the track have grown enough to offer silhouettes like Scots pines to the sky.

Along the way, the old tin sheds and engine houses have been grubbed up to make way for a park and ride car park, but as yet only two long mounds of earth are in evidence, and a small bonfire of builder’s waste that burns in daylight with a strange pale flame that the wind makes furtive.  Later, from the St Ives train, curtains of light slide across the sands, touching wet rock and the sandpipers that move in that shifting ribbon of no man's land that is not the beach, but not yet the sea either.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Unlovely Sea

Over on Instagram, I've decided to join in with the 100 day project, which sees thousands of creatives commit to producing something on their chosen subject and in their chosen artform every day for 100 days, starting on April the 3rd.  Committing to a single project for three months seems like an excellent way to maintain focus which is sometimes something I find challenging - I'm always thinking of all the other things I might be writing.  But not for the next 100 days!

The project I've chosen to concentrate on is inspired by my trip to St Ives in Cornwall at the beginning of March.  I went down there to see an exhibition at the Tate St Ives on work inspired by Virginian Woolf's writing.  From the Tate site: "Author of classic texts including To the Lighthouse and the pioneering feminist text A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf spent much of her childhood in St Ives.  This exhibition is led by her writing, which will act as a prism through which to explore feminist perspectives on landscape, domesticity and identity in modern and contemporary art - with works by over 80 artists, including Laura Knight, Gwen John, Vanessa Bell, Winifred Nicholson, Sandra Blow, and Dora Carrington."

The exhibition more than lived up to my expectations, but just as inspiring was the time spent staying in St Ives.  I grew up in a landlocked county far from the sea.  All my encounters with it are tinged with the strangeness of the foreign, even on the beach at Llansteffan in south Wales, where the estuarine expanse of the river means a walk along the hard sand to reach the coast itself, or at St Bees in Cumbria, where the roar of the water infiltrating the gaps between the pebbles on the beach is deafening well before the waves reach you.

St Ives is a town surrounded by the sea on three sides and thronged with tourists for most of the year, but in early March it was quiet, alternately slapped with torrential rain that comes in horizontal off the sea, and baked by a bright warm sun that shone long enough to dry the sand piled in the streets closest to the shore.  It was filled with art, good and bad.  It was a riddle of streets and cobbled alleyways.  Behind the new frontages of the restaurants and cafes on the harbour front, the buildings were mostly old fishing cottages with self consciously quaint names that had been added in the last few decades.

There was the sense, always, of shifting curtains of light which hid the town's recollection of a recent past: of the artists' colony; of a living made from the sea; of the cultural tides which met and mingled there. When it came to thinking up a project I'd be happy dedicating 100 days to, it struck me that I couldn't have hit upon a richer vein of inspiration than this mix of salt water and artistic history.

The flotsam and jetsam.  The artists and writers who made St Ives their home, real and imagined.  The mythology of the sea: the selkies and sirens and smugglers, the Jenny Hannivers and forgotten, shell encrusted creatures of the shoreline.  The landscape beaten into shape by the hammer of the wind.  The spells knotted into fishing nets, and the songs sung under the white moon which brought the boats home safely.

I'll be exploring all of these things and more over the next hundred days, through a mix of poetry, prose poems, short stories, creative non-fic and little snippets.  Very excited to see what appears!