My Book Launch! Thank you to Sue for the cakes, to Felix & Rosie for the readings and to everyone who came.

I indulged myself at the weekend with one and half days at the Bridlington Poetry Festival (http://www.bridlington-poetry-festival.com/). This included a workshop on writing sonnets with James Nash, a talk on Pablo Neruda, an Iranian poet reading in Farsi, and performances from Michael Laskey, James Nash, WN Herbert and Jackie Kay (among others). It was both nourishing and inspiring, and took place in the beautiful surroundings of Sewerby Hall.

I learnt from Graham Fawcett that Pablo Neruda had an affinity to the sea which I could intimately relate to. Neruda wrote to 'whoever is not listening to the sea...' that 'the sea will make its answer/to the shuttered heart'. Despite all his wanderings, Neruda returned to the ocean over and over again, and I wonder whether I could ever live too far from it myself again.

Alireza Abiz gave us a timely reminder of the dangers that some poets/writers encounter for expressing their truth. He gave us an insight into the 'Ministry for Culture and Islamic Guidance', the wonderfully Orwell-esque name of the department of censorship in Iran.

However, I guess the highlight for me would be when I approached Jackie Kay after her superb performance and reminded her of her visit to my installation, 'Words in My Head', in the Sitwell Library at Woodend two years ago. And she still remembered it as 'a magic moment'.


The great female poet and writer, Edith Sitwell, should be commemorated and given her rightful place in the literary canon. To show your support, check this out - http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/edith-elizabeth-and-I
Just the other day I was talking with a couple of writer friends about the need to walk away from our writing and let it 'stew' or 'percolate' or 'compost'. I suggested this in my book 'Pathways through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment' (www.sensepublishers.com or www.Amazon.co.uk). There I called it the 'waiting-muse' and I described it thus:

Phenomenological psychologist Moustakas talks about “indwelling”, the “turning inward to seek a deeper, more extended comprehension of the nature or meaning of a quality or theme of human experience.” In some senses we are waiting, yet it is not an inactive, lethargic waiting. We are attentive, something is going on in us; but it is below the surface, we are not fully aware of it, at times it appears to be not of our own volition. ...
What is happening behind our most accessible thoughts is where the action is. And once primed the waiting-muse will continue to whirr away in the background, making connections, dreaming up new perspectives and different ways into the issue that we are examining. That’s if we allow it to, are attentive without being impatient and are offering nourishment without insisting it produce.

For me the waiting-muse requires physical exercise - a walk or a swim. How often do I think of where to go next with my writing when I am back-crawling a length of the pool?

Apparently Wilfred Owen also experienced the need for a lull for his poetry to bloom. In the biography I am reading at the moment by Dominic Hibberd, Owen is quoted as saying that a poem can not 'grow by jerks' but must develop 'naturally as leaves to a tree'. A process which requires time and feeding but cannot be forced.