I went to see The Art of Persuasion at the Stephen Joseph Theatre this weekend, a first play from author Roger Osborne. It was masterful. I was going to add, 'for a debut', however, that would have been disingenuous. This was a play any dramatist would have been proud of writing.

To be honest, I wasn't keen on the topic, thinking I saw enough scheming politicians on the nightly news, I didn't need to spend my Saturday evening with them too. But I was gripped from the beginning. The Art of Persuasion explored how and why corruption happens with wit and intelligence, it also set up audience expectations in the first act, only to bowl straight through them in the second and continue to rip 'em down in the third.

This was apparently a 'workshop' performance put on with the minimum rehearsal and scanty resources. You would not have known it. The actors were superb, absorbing us into their sordid little drama whether we wanted to go there or not.

Osborne, already a well-known and accomplished non-fiction writer, has crossed genre with aplomb. Creative plasticity is something that I have addressed in previous blogs and it was raised again on the Culture Show (BBC2) this week. Steve McQueen was asked whether he was now an artist who expressed himself in film or a film maker who sometimes painted. Giving the interviewer a withering look, McQueen responded that he would go wherever his creativity chose to take him. I was considerably heartened by this (for myself and my attempts at melding the visual with the literary) and, further, hope that Osborne continues to take his talents for a turn on the stage.


I have just got back from the 3rd International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry ( which was held at Bournemouth University from the 20th to the 23rd of October. It was a very rich experience with researchers coming from Canada, the US, South Africa, Denmark, as well as from around the UK. I was the novice of the bunch. At the same time I did feel at home and that I had something to offer from my experience as a writer-poet, therapist and researcher.

Poetry Inquiry is a qualitative research method, it is relatively new, it is controversial. The symposium offered case studies as well as some of the on-going debates. I was pleased too that there was room for the magical. A candlelit evening of poetry at the Russell-Cotes museum ( and the conference dinner at the Langtry Manor Hotel (, the house built in 1877 by Edward VII for his mistress Lillie Langtry.

I was also given the gift of discovering how to perform Haiku, which I tried to do on the final day with this offering:

Hungry, I arrived.
Satiated by your words
I leave with silence.


Loved when
I turn to you.
Scared of how you might greet
The precious cargo of me, becomes
Entwined with you. Full knowing.
Now I exist.


I am very pleased to see my latest article in print: 'The chrysalis and the butterfly: a phenomenological study of one person's writing journey' Journal of Applied Arts & Health, Vol 2 No 2, 2011.

I am particularly proud of this piece as I think it accomplishes the mix of academic and creative which I've been striving for. I also believe it does justice to the moving story my interviewee entrusted me with. [I am working hard not to add in a 'nearly' and an 'almost' in these last two sentences].

One of the aspects of the creative cycle (that I've blogged about before) is the idea of fully completing the process by feeling the achievement before moving onto the next project. I am endeavouring to do that, though, of course, for me, the writing never stops.


Last week I saw a recording of Edith Sitwell being interviewed in 1959 by John Freeman for the BBC Face to Face programme. It was extraordinary to watch this woman, who I had read so much about and seen in so many still pictures, animated. I was initially struck by how bad her teeth were.

I became frustrated by Freeman's questioning style, so much was left out and unexplored. 'Poetry has two parents,' Dame Edith said. What did she mean?

A critic once stated that Sitwell was 'as ugly as modern poetry'. I, of course, don't find either unattractive. Edith looked beautiful, almost ecstatic in a religious sense, as she talked about filling a notebook with re-writes of just one poem and then, sometimes, 'putting it aside for a while'. Her poetry was inspired, she said, by a humble love of God and of humanity and she described the artist undergoing perpetual 'resurrections' as they find over and over renewed inspiration for their creative work.

It was wonderful to see how poetry could fill this woman - ill, depressed, at the end of her life - with such vigour. Maybe it will do the same for me when my days begin to run out.