Happy New Year (posted early as I recognise some of you live in different timezones) to all artworkers and writers who know me, and those whom I would love to know more about. Here is a rough list of some of the challenges coming up this year. Some of the challenges I like to be more spontaneous. Hope this helps you to plan to join some of them. You will be more than welcome to do so. If you are interested in taking part in any of these as an artworker or writer please DM me, or send a message via my WordPress site. Unpublished/published work more than welcome.

morning Light

Photo by Paul Brookes

JANUARY

1-30 January #NationalSlavery and #HumanTrafficking Awareness Month

14 January

Poetry At Work Day – #PoetryAtWorkDay

18 January

Blue Monday – #BlueMonday

20 January

International Day of Acceptance – #DayOfAcceptance

22 January

Celebration of Life Day – #CelebrationOfLifeDay

26 January

National Spouse Day –  #NationalSpouseDay

30 January – 6 February

National Storytelling Week – #nationalstorytellingweek

FEBRUARY

Black History Month

1-7 February: Children’s Mental Health Week

1-7 February: Tinnitus Awareness Week

1-7 February: Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week

4 February: World Cancer Day

4 February: Time to Talk Day

8 February: International Epilepsy Day

22 February: World Encephalitis Day

MARCH

1-31 March Women’s History Month

1-31 March Ekphrastic Writing Challenge Month

1-31 March: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

1-31 March: Brain Tumour Awareness Month

2-7 March: Eating Disorders Awareness Week

3 March: World Hearing Day

8 March: International Women’s Day

11 March: World Kidney Day

16 March: Young Carers Day

21 March: World Down Syndrome Day

APRIL

1-30 April National Poetry Month

1-30 April: Stress Awareness Month

2 April: World Autism Awareness Day

7 April: World Health Day

19-25 April: MS Awareness Week

MAY

17 May: National Children’s Day

18-23 May: Mental Health Awareness Week

20 May: World Bee Day

28 May: Menstrual Hygiene Day

JUNE

1-7 June: Garden Wildlife Week

5 June: World Environment Day

8 June: World Oceans Day

21 June: Global Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Day

21-27 June: Learning Disability Week

JULY

1-31 July: Plastic Free July

28 July: World Nature Conservation Day

AUGUST

8 August: International Cat Day

12 August: International Youth Day

SEPTEMBER

1-30 September: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

5 September: International Day of the Charity

7 September: Youth Mental Health Day

10 September: World Suicide Prevention Day

13 September: World Sepsis Day

OCTOBER

4 October: World Animal Day

9 October: World Hospice & Palliative Care Day

10 October: World Homeless Day

10 October: World Mental Health Day

11-17 October: National Adoption Week

NOVEMBER

1-29 November: Mouth Cancer Action Month 

14 November: World Diabetes Day

DECEMBER

2 December: The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

5 December: International Volunteer Day

2-7 December: National Grief Awareness Week

10 December: International Animal Rights Day

10 December: Human Rights Day

The best books I read in 2020

JAMIE SAMDAHL

Fiction:On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Non-fiction: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Poetry:Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

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Recall Your Dreams

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Sunrise at the end of December©️Merril D. Smith 2020

I am after beauty–
searching for it, an old friend
who vanished, but returned

~in the glorious pink of dawn~

the moon sings farewell
as she sets over the blue river,
and a heron soars white

~in a soft wind-whisper~

I hear life,
in shadowed language, full of ifs,
it murmurs,

~recall ~

your dreams,
the scent of summer rain,
the light after the storm clouds part.

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? And it may get worse before it gets better. But I decided to consult the Oracle, and she’s given a hopeful message. Happy New Year to all of you!
(This started as a Puente, but it just kept going, sort of like this year.)

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Between the Sea and the Stars, There are Bright Lights — Deuxiemepeau Poetry by Damien B. Donnelly

For Rhona Greene, Ankh Spice and Matthew M C Smith Darker days catch brighter lights,Sitting by bay-windows enriched with hopeFalling Into dreams.I close my eyes and we ride bikesWhere the sea sways to the beat of the shore, We are Sandycove and silly,We slip south; the sand now snow, a soft shuffleOver waves now carpets…

Between the Sea and the Stars, There are Bright Lights — Deuxiemepeau Poetry by Damien B. Donnelly

Winter moon cinquains — Jane Dougherty Writes

Ingrid @Experimentsinfc is on a short form poetry binge over on twitter. Join in. It’s fun. Here are a few cinquains I’ve posted. This dayof rain and windcloses at noon, bruised cloudswells, a rain-tossed sea, where kestrelsplummet. Moon nightsoars the bright rimbathed in rainglow, puddledlight roaring through grassy ditches,running. Moon slidesmountain cloud slopes,snow bright with […]

Winter moon cinquains — Jane Dougherty Writes

That Was One Hell of a Ride: the End of the Year Round Up 2020

Wendy Pratt Writing

Photo by Dana Cetojevic from Pexels

Well now, where to begin…

The other night, Chris and I watched a TV programme about 2020, a comedy. Every few minutes we’d exclaim ‘Oh wow, I’d forgotten that happened too’ or ‘was that this year as well?!’ What a year. The year started off with Australia burning; the world watching as scorched koalas limped out of ruined forests. An incessantly angry toddler squatted in the white house, were were storms, flooding, a world wide pandemic, life on Venus? (I missed this one, it must have been buried under covid news: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02785-5) hope for a vaccine, an actual vaccine, eat out, stay in, drinky winky, cheeky pint, oops, covid’s up again, open the schools, shut the schools, the ‘drive up to Barnard castle on one tank of petrol with a toddler who doesn’t need to wee on the way’ challenge, tik tok, dancing…

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MASSIVE THANKYOUS for 2020. Thankyou for supporting my deepening mid-life crisis in which instead of fast cars and bikes I wish to support and promote the work of my fellow writers. This year I launched a new initiative prompted by the deaths of Reuben Woolley of “I Am Not A Silent Poet” and Jamie Dedes of “The Bezine” and in tribute to them: the awareness challenges.

Wombwell Gate

This year on “The Wombwell Rainbow”:

A massive thankyou to all the artworkers and poets and writers who agreed to be interviewed, graciously allowed me to read review pdfs of their books, allowed me to feature their works of art.

60 Interviews https://thewombwellrainbow.com/page/7/?s=%22Wombwell+Rainbow+interviews%22+2020

18 Book Interviews https://thewombwellrainbow.com/?s=%22book+interviews%22+2020

3 Month long Special Ekphrastic Challenges https://thewombwellrainbow.com/page/7/?s=%22special+ekphrastic+challenge%22

7 Natural World Artwork and Writing Challenges https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/11/09/an-ongoing-list-of-my-natural-world-artwork-and-poetry-challenge-links/

4 Mental Health Awareness artwork and writing challenges

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/12/23/alrightpal-mental-health-and-suicide-prevention-artwork-and-writing-challenge-have-you-made-artworks-about-mental-health-have-you-written-published-unpublished-about-mental-health-in-these-days-o/

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/10/10/internationalmentalhealthday-worldmentalhealth-day-poetry-and-artwork-challenge-have-you-written-unpublished-published-work-about-mental-health-yours-or-someone-elses-have-you-made-artworks-about/

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/10/06/worldmentalhealthday-poetry-and-artwork-challenge-have-you-written-unpublished-published-work-about-mental-health-yours-or-someone-elses-have-you-made-artworks-about-it-please-submit-by-dm-or-sen/

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/12/09/nationalgriefawarenessweek-2-8-dec-have-you-artworks-about-grief-have-you-written-about-grief-please-dm-me-or-send-a-message-to-my-wordpress-blog-all-submissions-will-be-posted-i-apologise-for/

I apologise for all the “me” and “my” in the following:

Ian McMillan for not only inviting me to read out three of my Virus Till poems nationally in his The Verb on BBC Radio 3, but also inviting me to compose an advent sonnet which he introduced and read out on youtube as part of his role as “Poet In Lockdown” for Hear My Voice Barnsley and Barnsley Museums.

Damien Donnelly for inviting me to read for his stunning podcast “Eat The Storms”

Matthew MC Smith for helping to edit my poems and publishing me in volume one of his “Deep Time” books, and the Winter edition 2020 and also, being one of the brilliant guest poets at the local Mexborough Read To Write group.

IceFloe Press for publishing a long poem and two shorter poems of mine https://icefloepress.net/2020/10/07/two-poems-by-paul-brookes-with-a-visual-poem-by-robert-frede-kenter/

Renee for inviting me to be a contributing writer at Literati Magazine.

Glynn Young for consistently retweeting my posts, and his special article on me and my work., and publishing my poems on his “Faith, Fiction And Friends”. I am indebted.

Billy Mills for reviewing “Stubborn Sod” and “Port Of Souls” my collaborations with Dutch artist Marcel Herms.

Jessica Drake-Thomas for reviewing “Stubborn Sod” https://this-week-i-read.com/2020/04/03/this-week-i-read-paul-brookes-stubborn-sod/

Carrie Ann Golden for interviewing me on her wonderful website https://awriteradolescentmuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/author-interview-paul-brookes/

Neal Zetter for retweeting my posts

Mark Antony Owen for including me in wave two of his audio and visual project https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/05/01/i-cannot-recommend-more-highly-the-wonderful-site-that-mark-antony-owen-a-cracking-poet-in-his-own-right-has-created-in-iamb-i-am-very-fortunate-to-appear-in-wave-two-of-his-project-in-the/

Colin Bancroft for including me in his essential Poet’s Directory.

Z.D.Dicks, Marc Woodward, Gaynor Kane, Sarah Wimbush for being brilliant guest poets at the local Mexborough Read To Write Group.

Ali Jones for consistently supporting my creative work.

Visual Verse for featuring my poems https://visualverse.org/writers/paul-brookes/

All the best wishes to all of you and a happy creative New Year in which you stay safe and prosper.

Breath In, Blue Fire

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Breath in—blue fire,
the universe’s secrets, the champagne clouds,
the blush born in ferocious fever-dances,
the aching beauty of after
the light-singing stars.

What was so is still
the moon whispers, listen and recall
the ghost rhythms of time–

and if,
the breeze explores,
it urges the sky toward spring
through the black beneath the storm,

where sea-ships, dream-carriers,
sail under a spray of diamonds
toward tomorrow.

Happy day after Christmas! Here’s my message from the Oracle. She made me work for this one.

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