#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2021. 17th-23rd May. Day two. We must urge the government to cure the care system. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

Day Two

0001

Paper Bones

I punch in the code for the second floor,
elevator slowly ascending to a locked ward.
A secret space
for those whose minds have pulled up roots,
memory twisting and evaporating
like petals floating into the clutches
of an unexpected wind.

I see him.
My father,
paper bones rattling beneath his skin,
tiny frame swallowed up
by the beige cushions of a chair.
I watch him,
fingers entwined with those of the woman beside him.

She strokes circles into the back of his hand,
her thumb soothing a patchwork of weary veins,
silently,
as if the room around them never existed.
They stare into each other’s eyes,
speaking a language filled with shapes and pathways
that traverse beneath a sky
only they can touch.

A clatter of plates pulls him from their connection.
He sees me,
watching him,
a spectator on the edges of his new reality.
His eyes blink the room into focus.
He lifts his hand as if it holds the weight of the sun,
reaches for me.
Today, he knows I am his daughter.

-Susan Richardson (From her collection, Things My Mother Left Behind)

Her Columbus
Raanana, June 12, 2017
There,
I’ve finally said it:
My Columbus.
You say you’ve come a long way
Just to see me
And now you have to go back home
To your wife and dog
But I’ve come a long way too:
I’ve come from my Columbus.
I hopped on a bus on Carpenter
Back in 1939 or 40
And came to spend a week or two
With you in your Columbus
At this place that’s not my home.
Sometimes I don’t know whether
I’m coming or going when
He tries to trick me into saying
There’s only one Columbus
But any fool can see that
Mama and Daddy’s alive and well
In my Columbus
And my sisters too,
Why, I was just talking to them this week
And at work they still depend on me
To read the ticker tapes to local rags.
You should have seen me
During Pearl Harbor
In my Columbus.
His Columbus is that nursing home
Where you have to ask permission
And the cemetery where my beloved family’s buried.
Who would want to live in your Columbus?
Not me,
No siree Bob!

Honestly
I try to follow you wither soever thou goest
But when you cross that Stygian river
Into a reality that’s only big enough
For you and your youthful memories,
You must know you’ve left me back
On distant shores.

You’re my mother,
God knows I’ve tried my best to honor you,
Show you the respect that came so naturally
When I was a child
But time’s arrow seems to’ve stopped, turned around
And gone backward so that
You’re the child
And I’m just an old man
Tired, o so tired, of the banalities of life
And the tricks it plays
As though every day were April Fools.

Yes Mom, your Columbus is far better
Than my Columbus
But what good is a reality
If you’re the only one who sees it?
And what good is mine
If there’s no rhyme or reason?

-Mike Stone

Timepiece

The mantel clock on the kitchen shelf
in my father’s house possesses a squat
pendulum encased by glass. It spoons out
seconds in nonchalant swings: factory efficient,
all business and no small talk. A drone of a thing.

Skeins of leaf shadow flicker through the picture
window, its filigree falling across Lazyboy leather.
His face is a fire of shattered autumn sunlight.
Memories swarm as dust motes, visible
but uncatchable, or maybe they float on thin
web parachutes in the stratosphere.

So we speak in mechanical movements:
“I’ll miss you when you go back,” he says.
“I’ll miss you too,” I say
(repeat at regular intervals).
All of this observed, it seems, by the mute

Grandfather clock standing butler-like over us.
Before, its clamorous chimes startled everyone
except my father, until he opened the door to its
belly and inserted a decisive finger, halting noisy
machinations. Unspooked, my children slept easy
that night.

As I wheeled luggage to the front
door on our last day, I noticed he had started
the timepiece’s ancient heart beating again.
Shooting ticks and tocks into the room like
arrows.

The cronikers were reclaiming the house.
Filling up old biscuit tins, the mouths of
figurines, cracks between floorboards,
teacups, U-bends, every cobwebby orifice
with the relentless sound of their unabashed
measurement.

-Fiona Perry

Thresholds

Cool white floorboards lie under hot cheek
And clenched jaw. Mother’s broth chirps downstairs
On the stove. A spilt vase sends the shadow of black-star
Seed heads across the wall. Apple wood scent crawls up
Her back. A breeze is bird-song through the old open sash

She is all feathers, framed in the doorway, where still- life
Thoughts tread old paths. Her face the soft yoke of a
Blue egg on Sunday, says ‘plant me a tree and the birds
Will come’ Her peace is whipped milk in a cool clay mug.
Trivial rituals delivered in love that bind her to us

My father stands in sterile white light, Grapefruit bitters
Curling in sparkling water. Unease is somewhere in the scrape
Of a chair and my mother’s voice describing her birds. As if he
Is caught at the swoop of a hill, the steep dip in the pit of him.
Softly he closes the gate to the silvered path of her words.

-Lauren Thomas

Bios and Links

-Lauren Thomas

is a Welsh poet whose most recent writing is in The Crank Literary Magazine, Briefly Zine, Re-side Magazine, Abridged and Green Ink Poetry. She has poetry forthcoming in Dreich’s Summer Anywhere anthology, Songs of Love and Strength by TheMumPoemPress and was winner of Poems for Trees competition with Folklore publishing. She is an MA student in Poetry Writing with Newcastle University and The Poetry School, London.

 laurenkthomas@co.uk

Twitter @laurenmywrites

Instagram @thoughtsofmanythings

-Fiona Perry

was born and brought up in the north of Ireland but has lived in England, Australia, and New Zealand. Her short fiction won first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2020 and was shortlisted for the Australian Morrison Mentoring Prize in 2014 and 2015. Her flash fiction performance won second prize in the Over the Edge Fiction Slam 2021. Her poem, “Fusion”, was longlisted in the Fish Poetry Prize 2021, and she contributed poetry to the Label Lit project for National Poetry Day (Ireland) 2019. Her poetry and fiction has been published internationally in publications such as Lighthouse, Skylight47, Spontaneity, and Other Terrain. Follow her on Twitter: @Fionaperry17

Her first collection, Alchemy, is available from Turas Press (Dublin).

-Margaret Royall

is a Laurel Prize nominated poet. She has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes and won the Hedgehog Press’ collection competition 2020. She has two poetry collections:

Fording The Stream and Where Flora Sings, a memoir in prose and verse, The Road To Cleethorpes Pier and a new pamphlet, Earth Magicke out April 2021. She has been widely published online and in print, most recently: Hedgehog Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired & forthcoming in Sarasvati and Dreich.

She performs regularly at open mic events and facilitates a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com

Twitter: RoyallMargaret

Instagram : meggiepoet

Facebook Author Page: Facebook.com/margaretbrowningroyall

Annick Yerem

lives and works in Berlin. In her dreams, she can swim like a manatee. Annick tweets @missyerem and has, to her utmost delight, been published by Pendemic, Detritus, @publicpoetry, RiverMouthReview, #PoetRhy, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Rejection Letters, Dreich, 192, The Failure Baler and Rainbow Poems. https://missyerem.wordpress.comhttps://linktr.ee/annickyerem

-Nigel Kent

is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019 and 2020) and reviewer who lives in rural Worcestershire. He is an active member of the Open University Poetry Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine.

He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. In August 2020 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his pamphlet, Psychopathogen, which was nominated for the 2020 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets and made the Poetry Society’s Winter List.

In 2021 he was shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Reviewer of Literature.

To find out more visit his website: www.nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @kent_nj

-Olive M. Ritch

is a poet originally from Orkney. She was the recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2020 and in 2006, she received the Calder Prize for Poetry from the University of Aberdeen. Her work has been extensively published in literary magazines, anthologies and websites including Poetry Review, Agenda, The Guardian, New Writing Scotland, The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe) and the Scottish Poetry Library. Her work has also been broadcast on Radio 4.

Catch Up: Ralph Dartford

northern gravy 2

Since we last spoke there has been  a lot going on.

I completed my Masters Degree at Sheffield Hallam. I got a ‘Distinction’ and won the university ‘Ictus Prize for Outstanding Work in Poetry”. Both came as a thrilling shock.

I completed a second collection of poetry for Valley Press. Its called ‘Hidden Music’ and is due out in October. Its a collection that is in conversation with certain pieces of music and song. Its a very different from ‘Recovery Songs’ in style and content. It had to be (still a lot of rain though). I did not want to appear as a one trick recovery boy pony. I’m pleased with it. I’ve sent you the final draft as a sneak preview.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive funding from the Arts Council to develop a third collection. This is provisionally titled, ‘Kid B’ and I am in the early stages of writing it. The themes are isolation and I think will be shorter poems. Who knows?

I’ve also started a Literary Periodical with two fellow graduates form the MA course. It’s called. ’Northern Gravy’. It’s great to have a role as editor. Our first edition is out in July.

Ralph Dartford (Poetry Editor) Northern Gravy

Northerngravy.com

Here is the link to Ralph’s, interview last year: Wombwell Rainbow Book Interview: Ralph Dartford | The Wombwell Rainbow

Where I’d Watch Plastic Trees Not Grow by Hannah Hodgson (Verve Poetry Press)

Tears in the Fence

In this vital pamphlet, Hannah Hodgson, who lives with a life-limiting illness, addresses disability, hospitalisation, and isolation at a time when the disabled and unwell are frequently treated as voiceless statistics.

With no romance or affectations, this pamphlet painstakingly examines what the ill want from the well. One often reiterated wish is for no self-pity; a demand of able people to not ‘hijack tragedy’ with their tears. In ‘Dear Visitors’, the speaker has ‘become a tiger’ and the ward ‘a zoo’, who asks of those who have ‘paid their entrance fees at the nurse’s station’: ‘Don’t maudle, as the captive here that’s my job.’ The speaker goes on to tell the visitors to be themselves, ‘Reveal a little / of your flesh, trust I won’t rip you apart.’ – to bring the things that the speaker loves into the sterile clinical setting – ‘Talk of the wild, talk of home’…

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#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2021. 17th-23rd May. Day one. We must urge the government to cure the care system. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

Day One

Dementia 1

Lost & Found

You got up by yourself this morning,
put on your own knickers,
said you fancied eggs and bacon.

You went outside – first time in two years,
to breathe the dawn air and
survey the world since you left it.

In a few days, you remembered
your name, the dog’s, who I was,
that the postman wasn’t your Dad.

You exchanged pleasantries
with the woman next door, no longer
suspecting her of plotting your murder.

The hairdresser turned your flat feathers
into a helmet of curls, in the mirror
igniting a glimmer of recognition.

We chucked the grab rails and Complan
drove the zimmer to the tip, turned
your pill box into earring storage.

Weeks went by, you took the car out,
joined the library, had a stab at calligraphy,
tried your first chai latte.

Then on Sunday we came home and there
you were on hands and knees under the table,
looking for something. You didn’t know what.

From Lost & Found published by Hedgehog Poetry Press 2020
Vicpickup.com / @vicpickup

-Vic Pickup

Recognition

Black and white prints
cover creased hands.
Eyes narrow, dazed,
not seeing…

We slung satchels over knitted cardigans,
slammed the door,
grey pleated skirts hitched high above the knee.

We stood to attention at the bell,
split from my look-a-like,
a whistle insisted we march
into separate classrooms.

In the sixties we explored
Brighton Laines,
rummaged antique stores,
picked up gold leafed books,
bought treasure boxes
to hide shared secrets.

We sank into striped deckchairs,
flipped off our tops to reveal
psychedelic swimsuits-
plastic sunglasses concealed our faces.
We lazed by gull-grey waves,
pebbles chattered at our feet.

We sniffed salt from the sea,
cardboard cones on our noses,
read Jackie in the sun.
A transistor radio blurred Cathy’s
Clown, from the Top Ten charts.

I sit by the iron framed bed,
wait for a flicker of recognition.

Chubby Checker
blasts from the box
high on the wall

Lillie looks up,
whispers my name.

‘Freddie – The Twist.
you and me that day
down in Brighton.’

– Patricia M Osborne (previously published in Reach Poetry (2016) )

-Annick Yerem (First published in Dreich)

Audrey’s time

We wheel her into
the waning evening sun
as if the sunlight
would somehow restore her
like some wilting plant.

She does not speak.
Not now.
Words run away
from her,
slipping her grasp
like unruly children,
reluctant to come home
at dusk.

We fill her time,
with family photos
till we have earned
our leave;
filial duty fulfilled
for yet another week.

She looks at
our departure
with shuttered eyes,
mouth ajar,
memories escaping
with every feeble wheeze,
whilst her tissue soft hands
clench and unclench
in her lap,
as if anticipating
some last
decisive assault,

which we think
guiltily
can’t come
too
soon.

-Nigel Kent

(published in ‘Saudade’, Nigel Kent, Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2019)

First published by The Blue Nib

REQUIEM FOR A CELLIST

She rocks rhythmically in her chair,
Her eyes dulled by grief, skeletal fingers
clutching rosary beads. In despair she chants
‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’

The creeping evil nibbles away at her brain
She clenches her fists, howls
like a caged wolf, searching
desperately for her beloved ‘cello.

Then, as if by magic it appears, a Stradivari,
propped up by the Steinway grand,
pleading to be picked up and played again,
its bow sprawled across the piano lid,
resin box still unopened.

A sudden draft from the open window
breathes life back into the stale air.
Haunting sounds unlock iconic images,
transporting her to lovers’ beds, concert halls,
summer gardens and back-street alleys –
a heady rush of half-remembered liaisons,
ecstasy and pain intertwined.

Final chords crescendo then trail away
into the invading gloom of a winter twilight.
One last brave ‘da capo’- then peace descends.

Her weary frame crumples in dismay,
She attempts to rise from her chair, pleads
one last time: ‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’

-Margaret Royall

A Message

One of the best of minds
destroyed by dementia

does not howl on her knees
in the street, does not masturbate

in the magnolia living-room,
is not dragged off the roof-top,

naked; no, she leaves a message
on her daughter’s answer-phone

saying: there’s an echo,
an echo in my head.

-Olive M. Ritch

1. Sat At Tideline With (A Crown Sonnet Sequence)

Sat at tideline with all my belongings.
Longings in belongings. No you can’t. Don’t.
Wave waxing pulls my stuff, drags itl Slipping.
It can’t have it. I won’t give in. I won’t.

Ripple recedes as it pulls away from me.
Then it rises, swoops like bloody murder.
Sucks at my frames, pictures of family.
Don’t remember what I’ve lost. I suffer

from losing nothing. People tell me what
I’ve lost. I’m none the wiser. I need my bag.
They steal my bag. Then help me find it. That’s
why I carry it with me. My keys they rag.

They lift up stuff, say It’s here. Discovered.
My photos, my ornaments, all gathered

2. All Gathered

My photos, my ornaments, all gathered
into me beside a sea that steals, hoards.
I painted three cat pictures. I’m mithered,
I can’t recall their names. Lose the cord.

Hoppy had only three legs. Long haired love.
In life you collect things for a reason,
then forget the reason. Heaven’s above.
I need to write stuff down. Where’s my pen gone?

My pen is in my bag. Someone’s stolen
my bag. “Let me help you look.” Says carer.
In my pile of valuables, well hidden.
What do I need my pen for? Waves closer.

We are steadfast and keen in preserving
against receding waves that keep pulling.

-Paul Brookes

Bios and Links

-Margaret Royall

is a Laurel Prize nominated poet. She has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes and won the Hedgehog Press’ collection competition 2020. She has two poetry collections:

Fording The Stream and Where Flora Sings, a memoir in prose and verse, The Road To Cleethorpes Pier and a new pamphlet, Earth Magicke out April 2021. She has been widely published online and in print, most recently: Hedgehog Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired & forthcoming in Sarasvati and Dreich.

She performs regularly at open mic events and facilitates a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com

Twitter: RoyallMargaret

Instagram : meggiepoet

Facebook Author Page: Facebook.com/margaretbrowningroyall

Annick Yerem

lives and works in Berlin. In her dreams, she can swim like a manatee. Annick tweets @missyerem and has, to her utmost delight, been published by Pendemic, Detritus, @publicpoetry, RiverMouthReview, #PoetRhy, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Rejection Letters, Dreich, 192, The Failure Baler and Rainbow Poems. https://missyerem.wordpress.comhttps://linktr.ee/annickyerem

-Nigel Kent
is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019 and 2020) and reviewer who lives in rural Worcestershire. He is an active member of the Open University Poetry Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine.
He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. In August 2020 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his pamphlet, Psychopathogen, which was nominated for the 2020 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets and made the Poetry Society’s Winter List.
In 2021 he was shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Reviewer of Literature.
To find out more visit his website: http://www.nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @kent_nj

-Olive M. Ritch

is a poet originally from Orkney. She was the recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2020 and in 2006, she received the Calder Prize for Poetry from the University of Aberdeen. Her work has been extensively published in literary magazines, anthologies and websites including Poetry Review, Agenda, The Guardian, New Writing Scotland, The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe) and the Scottish Poetry Library. Her work has also been broadcast on Radio 4.

Unnatural Selection: A Memoir of Adoption and Wildness by Andrea Ross (CavanKerry Press)

Tears in the Fence

Andrea Ross’sPloughshare’sarticle “A Feminist Look at Edward Abbey’s Conservationist Writings” details the way that Abbey sexualizes the landscape in his many writings of the American Southwest, taking a racist and misogynist approach to the wild world. Ross has a complex relationship with the natural world of the west as a former ranger and current English professor.She often works with writers of this area, people like Abbey, Jack Kerouac, and Kenneth Rexroth, so I was excited to see her take on the landscape, how she would use it in this memoir about finding her birth family while trying to find a home within the natural world. What she finds in her relationship to the land is exceptional. Ross, unlike these other writers, is able to see the natural world as a place of rest; in her long journey to find her birth parents and herself, she finds…

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#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. 10th-16th May. Day seven. This years theme is Nature. How has nature helped your, or other folks mental health? Have you made artworks or written unpublished/published work about it? Please DM me, or send a message via my WordPress site. The week: Monday: Find nature wherever you are. Tuesday: Using all your senses connect with nature. Wednesday: Get out into nature. Thursday: Bring nature to you. Friday: Exercise in nature. Saturday: Combine nature with creativity. Sunday: Protect Nature.

Day Seven: Protect Nature

Mental Health Awareness 2021 poster

 

PILGRIMAGE TO A FAVOURITE TREE

I cherish our unspoken
friendship. We do not need words,
we are as one soul

Your sturdy trunk has
multiple offshoots, swathed in
trailing ivy braid

Solid branches reach up
skywards, towards pure light,
sense of place so strong

As I run my hands
across your rough, tough gnarled bark
I hear sweet birdsong

Friend, you have stood here
for many a year, and will
be here when I’m gone

Generations will
Pass you by, yet sadly not
love you as I do.

As April rain falls
Sap rises green in your veins
Majestic you rise.

-Margaret Royall (from her new collection, Earth Magicke)

Godlike

The day I was God
I held your life; my hands,
cupped around your fragile body,

thrummed to that heartbeat,
fast, sacred, to you essential.
I caressed you, broken thing.

My desire was to fix, only
as my hands uncupped,
you sped off, godless.

Originally published The Lyrical Aye

-Maxine Rose Munro

 

This is an excellent resource:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/thriving-with-nature/guide

Bios and Links

-Jane Rosenberg LaForge

writes poetry, fiction, and occasional essays from her home in New York. She has published four chapbooks of poetry and three full-length collections, the most recent being MEDUSA’S DAUGHTER from Animal Heart Press. Her novel, SISTERHOOD OF THE INFAMOUS from New Meridian Arts Press, was inspired by the life of her sister, a one-time punk rocker and prodigy in mathematics. She also is the author of the novel, THE HAWKMAN: A FAIRY TALE OF THE GREAT WAR (Amberjack Publishing 2018) and an experimental memoir,  AN UNSUITABLE PRINCESS (Jaded Ibis Press 2014). More information is at jane-rosenberg-laforge.com 

-Jo Fearon

Is Public Sector Administrator and hobby poet. Second of Ian McMillan’s guest Hear My Voice Sonnets on You Tube. Soon to be published in HMV Barnsley 2020 competition anthology.  Passionate about live music especially rock/blues/punk. Aiming to devote more time to what I love. Rediscovered love of writing the past 2 years.

-Maxine Rose Munro

writes in English and her native Shetlandic Scots. She is widely published in the UK and beyond, both in print and online. She runs First Steps in Poetry, which offers feedback to beginner poets. More here http://www.maxinerosemunro.com

Kathryn Southworth was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, and now lives in Camden Town, London and Prinknash, Gloucestershire.  She is married with three surviving children and three grandchildren.

She has always written poetry but returned to it in earnest only after a long career as an academic in midlands universities. She was a founding fellow of the English Association, Head of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Wolverhampton and held senior management posts there and at Newman University and also worked for the Quality Assurance Agency. She has been a governor of the Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust and is currently a governor of Rose Bruford College of Drama and Theatre Arts.

She has published poetry and reviews in several magazines and anthologies and reads at a number of London poetry venues, including the Poetry Café and Torriano Meeting House. The literary canon informs her writing, as does her Catholic faith, surreptitiously.

-Dr Sara Louise Wheeler

has Waardenburg Syndrome Type 1, a genetic condition which affects her physical appearance as well as her hearing. She writes the column ‘O’r gororau’ (from the borders) for Barddas Welsh poetry magazine and her poetry, belles lettres and artwork has been published by Unique Poetry Journal, Dark Poets Club, Fahmidan Journal, Cloverleaf Zine, and 3am Magazine. Sara is currently writing an autobiographical bildungsroman opera called The Silver Princess, funded by Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. Originally from Wrecsam in North East Wales, she now lives on the Wirral peninsula with her husband Peter and their pet tortoise Kahless

Catch Up : Sam Smith

“Catch Up” is a series of posts in which I discover what the writers I previously interviewed have been up to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Catch-up – 4th May 2021

When Paul Brookes interviewed me in 2018 it must have been just before or just after the Carmarthen Book Fair, where I met David Norrington. I actually bumped into him in the town car park, where he was panicking over not having change for the parking meter and needing to get along to the book fair and get set up. I leant him change enough for the meter, told him to pay me back later as I would also be at the fair. (Over the years, going to book fairs and the like, I’ve learnt that there is more friendly cooperation between  publishers, especially us indies, than competition. We tell one another of printers that might suit, pass on tips re websites, venues, etc.)

Later that day David sought me out at The Journal stall, repaid me, and looked over my display, which had some of my own books as well as Original Plus publications. He didn’t seem so much interested in my recent novels and collections as in those few out of print titles that I had looking for a buyer. He also asked what I was working on and talked of his own press, Wordcatcher Publishing, and what he was hoping to achieve with it. There were two of my out of print titles that he seemed particularly interested in – a Boho copy of Problems and Polemics and the SF series, the unMaking of Heaven.

When I got home I sent David the MS of my latest SF novel, Once Were Window Once Were Doors and of my eco-novel, Trees. A week or so later there began an exchange of emails which culminated in me taking along, as requested, copies of various out of print titles to David’s garden office. David explained how he was endeavouring to build up Wordcatcher’s backlist and that he wanted to put out new editions of some of my titles.

I have met up with many enthusiasts in publishing, not all of them able to deliver on their promises, along with more than a few wanting to make money out of me rather than with/for me. David though was running no vanity press, all would be standard royalty contracts. No advance, but I didn’t expect one. A few weeks later three books arrived, Problems and Polemics, Rooms and Something’s Wrong. All with brand new glossy covers.And it didn’t stop there. I turned up at a Cardiff hotel for a meeting of Wordcatcher authors to find David unpacking two more of my titles, The Secret Report of Friar Otto and The Care Vortex.

I had not anticipated anything like this happening to me. And it carried on all through 2019, when David brought out all five books – Balant, Happiness, You Human, Not Now and (renamed) The Eternals – of the unMaking of Heaven SF series. The covers for them, of his own design, were exceptional.

How quickly we adapt to new circumstances. Because, although gratified by all these new editions, I was impatient to see my eco-novel, Trees, in print. David though wasn’t confident what genre Trees  should be in, and didn’t seem to understand my urgency. So I found myself quietly pushing for it to be published. On 4th March 2020 Trees finally made it into print. Guess what happened next?

Before I could arrange a proper launch for Trees we were in lockdown. And that’s been it more or less since. I’ve entered my mini-collection of Mock Sonnets & Other Lives for a couple of US competitions. Unsuccessfully. I thought of seeking publication through competitions would guarantee some publicity. But one has to win for that.

As the lockdown wore on and Wordcatcher was forced into abeyance I put aside book promotion and concentrated on each of The Journal issues and on my new detective series. I now have almost 3 novellas under the umbrella of Disclosures. Their titles are The Bride Vetter, Donny’s Puzzles and A Woman Wronged. Still unsure how best to publish them – as one book or 3 separate novellas. Now that Wordcatcher is slowly coming back to life I’m waiting to see what happens next there. David always has plans. How will my books figure in them? Once Were Windows Once Were Doors still languishes in his slush pile.

Here is the link to my 2018 interview with Sam Smith: Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Sam Smith | The Wombwell Rainbow

#InternationalNursesDay2021. 12th May. This is my belated celebration of all the work of these dedicated folk who work long hours and who are often poorly paid. If you would like your unpublished/published poetry and short prose about nurses featured please DM me or message my WordPress site. Same applies to artworkers.

nurses day

 

keeping borzoi

Mask

The nurse forgets her mask,
and the boy reminds her to act
according to the masquerade.

Morning, the morbid wind
(the boy calls it so) blows brown
leaves in the yards
and green curtains in the room.

The oxygen level dips a bit.
The nurse brings some flowers
the day next; she has her mask on,
but in this act we all can
perceive her from those eyes.

-Kushal Poddar

New Poetries VIII Eds. Michael Schmidt, John McAuliffe (Carcanet)

Tears in the Fence

Anthologising is, assuredly, a contentious art, not just a little like canon forming, despite numerous protestations. The mere act of including someone and leaving others out, with its corollary to granting book publication, seems nonetheless indispensable. We need to try to get a better flavour of the times, to put worthy contributions within the same pages of a collaborative volume, just to digest and try to sample what has been going on. In contrast to the BloodaxeStaying Aliveseries, which began in 2002, Carcanet’sNew Poetrieshas just reached its eighth volume, having commenced in 1994, with by the standards of the series more contributors, some 24, than usual this time out. A slight bias is doubtless inevitable in that we find here Carcanet authors as well as Manchester associations. Nonetheless the range of poetries is highly diverse.

Aside from the high calibre of the various poets, presentation wise…

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