Exciting Days

I am excited that my collection Three Pounds of Cells edited by Kathleen Mickelson of Gyroscope Review and designed by Marie Fitzpatrick of The Linnet’s Wings, is almost ready to go to press. I am excited that Harry Gallagher and Mandy Maxwell of THE STANZA in North Shields have offered me a launch and that Barbara Ross has agreed to host an event in Morpeth. I am delighted to have Peter Lagan from Redcar working on music on the lute.

Who am I kidding — I’m scared!

I am delighted that A New Ulster has taken one of my poems for August and Gyroscope Review has taken one also.

I am looking forward being in  Be Not Afraid: An Anthology in Appreciation of Seamus Heaney coming out this year and also in Twisted Tales.

My poems were well received at Worlds Within Words on Friday night. Thanks to Mandy Maxwell and Mark Potts for that much needed boost to my confidence. I hope to be at BLER in September.

Thanks Kath and Constance for chatting yesterday all the way from Wyoming and Minneapolis!

L i l i e s

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Now for a wee rant:

Too many red lights.

Is it mid-summer madness? The world seems slightly askew – okay very askew – correction totally off balance!

I saw a couple of older teenagers yesterday walk straight out at a busy crossing before the lights changed and having to jump back onto the pavement.

Pokemon GO is going to get me killed, he laughed.

And I felt like shouting at them to take a bit of notice what’s going on in the real world around them – not just the traffic lights. There are a lot of warning lights about!    Strip mining at Druridge Bay. Fracking in Yorkshire. The NHS. Prejudice. Brexit. Violence. Trump and Clinton. We’re allowing Hedgehogs and red squirrels to die. We’re killing Bees for God’s sake!!! Global warming. Antibiotic- resistance. Ebola etc etc. Nuclear weapons.

And whilst it is entirely clear to me why they may not wish to to take note of the real world, the real world is their future! And it’s the only world we have. And it’s not good enough to complain that ‘older people aren’t ‘explaining things properly. Information has never been more available. This technology is fantastic. It’s incredible. I can find out anything just be putting in a search. I can keep up on scientific trends and research. I can see way out into space and explore time

and they are playing Pokemon GO.

It’s not my future. I am getting older and I don’t have any children. In 25 years time I do not expect to be around – but they will. So what’s wrong with them?

On the other hand Pokemon GO is proving a healthy passtime for those responsible enough to use it well. I am told that the thing buzzes when there’s a creature around so there’s really no need to have your nose buried in it as you walk and it’s a good way of motivating children to walk (suitable accompanied) as my friend Margaret Kerswell does.

I’m away to write.

June • Bit of a Triumph — Ulimately a let down

Imagine my delight when I received an email to say that a poem of mine had been Highly Commended in last year’s Sentinel Competition. Imagine my despair when they told me that somehow they had judged a poem that had already been published in Mandy Pannett’s outstanding anthology Poems for a Liminal Age, and not either of the two I sent? I have told them of course and whatever happens next is up to them but I am going to share with the you the adjudication because it pleased me and because whether the triumph or the disappointment results, this is what I will value above all.

Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015
Adjudication Report
by Afam Akeh

Oonah V Joslin

Toronto Girl
With only eight lines, this is one of many excellent short poems in this competition but ‘Toronto Girl’ caught my special attention because of its subversive form.
In the pacy run-on lines ofits first stanza, things, thoughts, places and moments seem to happen and then quickly move over or away, to be replaced by other seemingly unconnected things, thoughts, places and moments
.
There is constant movement, no breaks or stops (as the poem itself notes), and ultimately the sense of an inadequately lived, frenetic or freaked out life, mostly going through the motions of experience. There is the suggestion of the post modern in this unsettled, uncommitted sampling of a gap-filled life
Slender quick how you think no consonance no consequence no breaks
events through / the day like cup of coffee double shot no lid no lip you
flit among high rise traffic / fumes and sun-
glint twenty four carat bank finger-sampling sushi mall-bites a / fluttering cyber-walk mannequin ear-plugging louder to drown the surround sound / long into the slim-line stream-line uniform casino Niagara night falls.

A slow reading of the enjambed lines yields fruit, connecting for the reader the experiences of an eventful but perfectly ordinary metropolitan day. Ironically, it is in the staccato bursts of the much shorter lines in stanza two that we get amore complete sense of living as an ordered human experience.
A representation of life as a series of passing, possibly unsatisfactory, non-relational activities continues in this final part of the poem, but the clipped lines also successfully convey a fuller sequence of meaningful experience

restful dawn
golden girl awakes
another gadget-day to go

Highly Commended TORONTO GIRL

I am in A New Ulster 44. I am in Bewildering Stories twice in June to do with with Poppies and Roses

Behind Lines

and I have some work in Postcard Poems and Prose Even a Myth Needs Love. and I have a small collection Three Pounds of Cells coming out later this year published by Linnet’s Wings Press. I have chosen the Autumn poems and so summer is doable🙂

And most of all I am looking forward to seeing my sister this month. I won’t complain.

Life has been good to me.😉

May • Historic Dunfermline

“The king sits in Dunfermline town
drinking the blood red wine”
Ballad of Patrick Spens was all I knew about Dunfermline — before this weekend. Of course it’s historic so shame on me! The ancient abbey with its Durham cathedral-like pillars abuts the new abbey which is a working church and very interesting.

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They have the body of Robert the Bruce and a carved wooden artefact depicting a plaster cast of his skull. You can do a small brass rubbing of your own.

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But my favourite thing was this stunning marble of an angel, half in this world, reaching down to accompany this recumbent’s spirit to heaven. It’s the most gorgeous and subtle sculpture!

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The bishop’s palace (alas not open because if lack of funds) and an even older, ruined palace

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Charles I was born in Dunfermline.

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And so was Andrew Carnegie — his statue stands proud in the park with views ovewr the Firth of Forth and its bridges. The house is now a museum to him and to the linen trade. His family wove damask upstairs in this very house.
Maybe appropriately the park is now home to grey squirrels — but our native reds are endangered by this.

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There’s lots to see in the park and some more American connections

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and this house echoes in colour Culross House just along the road from Dunfermline.

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We visited on Friday afternoon and I actually took a couple of photos before I thought to ask whether it was allowed and of course it wasn’t so I desisited but waste not want not, here they are. I suggest you go and see the rest for yourself.

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The garden is beautiful too.

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In fact ‘old’ Culross is quite undisturbed and they have a policy that older houses are still used as modern homes — it is protected. I am glad.

In my defense I never had had a reason to visit Dunfermline. Thanks to our friends Bill

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and Alwyn Taylor

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for the invitation. We’ll undoubtedly make you suffer for that by visiting again — no good deed should go unpunished🙂

 

A double triolet about how Shakespeare lost it: Shakespeare’s Skull

The Green and the Grey
Money Can’t Buy me I am very fond of this trio of poems in A NEW ULSTER 44
So Natural

APRIL • behind the lens • Andrew Lesnie

One year ago today, 15.04.27, cinematographer Andrew Lesnie died. I didn’t know of this until I got the extended cut of Battle of the Five Armies for Christmas, and watched all the behind the scenes stuff. There was a tribute to him at the end. He was 59. So sad.

I have loved the detailed insights into the making of the Tolkien films and I often rewatch them. They really knocked themselves out to make these films that entertain us so and I admire how well they all worked together. Christopher Lee, who we also lost last year, made his own tribute to Andrew Lesnie by saying that he was right up there with the great cinematographers, and that is praise indeed from one who worked wioth so many camera men in a lifetime of film. But the work stands for itself and will, for as long as there is cinema and people to watch it — a testament to the, often invisible, man behind the lens. Lesnie’s cheerful demeanour on set is recorded for all to see, thanks to the generosity of the entire team in allowing themselves to be filmed at work — doing what they do. The upshot of these documentaries is that one gets to feel some connection with the people who made these films — films made by all of them for all of us. Consequently so the loss of such a talent is more keenly felt and more sorely missed and that is no bad thing.

Time moves on. The digital world is changing everything. Peter Jackson has, in a way gone back to being able to hold the camera himself — in a digital world. The future for film making is going to be truly fascinating. I for one would love to see holographic productions — it’s unlikely at my age but they will come. Nonetheless I think I will always love the old fashioned film and the greats, as I love hand copied cartoons, vinyl records, paper books. It’s comforting — like soda bread hot off a griddle! But it’s not just that — as with all things, quality is about craftsmanship and there will always be people who care about doing what they do, well.

I have been inspired by many people to put pen to paper. Earlier this year I wrote a poem inspired by Andrew Lesnie which I am not going to share with you here — you’ll have to buy my collection when it comes out later this year — and I hope you will — because I care about what I do too and I want it survive me. For now:

Thank you Andrew Lesnie for lending us your vision.

I will share this one:

A Voice Beloved

In middle earth and in our ears
a voice is silenced.
The screen he silvered for years
is darkened.
Our screams die and cry.

But the wound, but the wound
of the depth of his tone
echoes a sound
in silent moments when alone
will haunt aloud.

Forever undead he
in our mind’s eye
is yet animate. His name we
say with reverence and awe.
Christoher Lee.

It seems so many famous people have died in the past few months — Bowie, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Prince, that Facebook is in constant mourning. But every death brings personal tragedy — famous or not, from The Hillsborough Disaster to the last refugee to someone homeless.

“The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158

Well it’s been summer and winter and discontent😉 (that’s my wee reference Shakespreare’s 400th anniversary — I really enjoyed the Beeb’s production) and happiness here this week.

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and that is typical April though we haven’t had a typical April in years and I know that sounds very confusing but picnics and sleet are life’s contrasts.

Marie Fitzpatrick is putting the finishing touches to our latest issue of The Linnet’s Wings and I’ll have news of that soon. We are still accepting work for our Christmas Canzonet too. If you have a poem awaiting my attention please be patient. I am in the happy position of having lots of good poems in the pipeline just now🙂

On to May.

April • Showers and promises

I am looking for a couple of volunteers to do a blurb or review for my forthcoming Collection of poems. You’d have to like my poetry of course. Any takers? If you want to know the kind of thing, look at THIS

Into each life a litte rain… ah yes. It’s April here alright! and it’s making with those showers but are we cast down? Of course we bloody are — except when the sun shines in between and then we think — it promises tulips right — and go around grinning — and then it pours down.

April brings memories of loved ones passed, my mother d 2003, my brother Stuart d 1999 and now his wife Mary, who was a beautiful human being, the kindest of women and one of the best cooks I ever knew! Stuart and Mary 1979Mary was one of those people to whom everyone turned for help and she never turned anyone away. She didn’t have an easy life but she made everyone elses lives easier. RIP Mary x

There’s also been a birth in the family and we’re going to a christening totally unrelated to the family, which is a lovely surprise, and balances the equation somewhat.

I’m in The Gyroscope Review with TWO poems this month but if you’ve been paying attention to FB you know that. I am also going to be in PP&P this month on 22nd. Dave Morehouse tells us there is a resurgence of winter in the UPs, necessitating the boiling of the syrup in the snow🙂 — well not IN the snow but — hey we’re lucky it’s raining here! In similar vein,  I will be in The Ice Bar, Morpeth on 14th April with a little number I ran up for St George’s Day. I will be recruiting Margaret Kerswell again and members of the audience — so be warned.

The next Linnet’s Wings is due in May. There’s lots in submissions and I am a bit behind but I have been very busy poeting and it looks like I am going to be staying busy.

 

March — The Ides

No need to beware. This week has been filled with poetry and friends. I had lunch with my friend Pippa Little who gave me a copy of her lovely chapbook. 12246664_1576123199378035_5058088336282863108_n I also got some books from my Linnet’s Wings friend Marie🙂 through the post.

We went to the Sun Inn (great food there btw) for St Patrick’s night poetry with Morpeth Poetry Recital Group including Barbara Ross, Barbara Pringle, Amanda Barrell, Danny Fowler, Mikey Mann, Adrian Mcrobb, Margaret Kerswell, Oonah Joslin, Eileen Beers (and Kara), Gracie Gray — raising money for charity. Music from Philip Stuckey.

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singing his composition The Maid of Eire

You can find that group on FB if you are interested.

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with my lovely friend Margaret Kerswell

It was a grand night of beer and food, tragedy and humour, dancing and singing and general fun. The next poetry night is 14th April at The Ice Bar Morpeth.

Today I had an email from my Polish friend Wojciech Jacobson 

Wojtek 2016

who has once again been honoured for his role in the world of yachting.

It was an occasion! WJ16B

He wrote:

Last weekend and sunday (11-13.3.2016) I was in Gdynia where the XVIII Meeting of Travellers, Yachtsmen and Climbers took place. The meeting was held in a big sports hall. During the meeting prizes called Kolosy (Colossuses) for the year 2015 were handed in several categories.  There was one prize called Super Kolos (Super Colossus) which was awarded to me for my “general achivements” in yachting. I  was obliged to present during the meeting a 40 minutes show.   The show was in form of an interview with slides projected on a big screen.  Among 120 pictures displayed there was one presenting Oonah’s poem “Ludek’s Dawn” in the original form.

Wschód slonca - Bellot

Wschód slonca – Bellot

More than 2 000 people were greeting my presentation with the applause.  Great thanks for your part Oonah! 
With best wishes,
Wojtek

Congratulations my friend — I am so honoured to be a footnote in this man’s life.

Plans for the weekend? An outing Saturday maybe to meet the cousins and a pork knuckle on Sunday — haven’t had one of those in manys a while!

Life’s good you know…

March of Time • Watersheds

Do I qualify as a Northumbrian yet?
Oonah V'yonne aged 23

1978 Feb Left Ulster for Wales

 

 

 

Photo0061992 Left Wales and came to Northumberland

My Photo's 25324 years on and I have lived longer here now than anywhere else including my home town.

24 years ago today I disembarked from a coach at the Gallowgate in Newcastle and set foot in the north east and in Morpeth for the first time. I was just here for a week’s visit though. It wouldn’t be until 14th April that I closed the door on our house in Port Talbot and took up residence. Noel had been here since the beginning of February — the longest time we ever were apart😦

We lived in a house at St Mary’s Hospital — which is now knocked down.

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Life has changed a lot in 24 years. I am a writer and editor now not a teacher (Good). I don’t get paid for it (Bad). I am older and maybe a bit wiser — certainly a bit wider!

Back then I had never worked on a computer. I had never written a horror story (I always wrote poems). I could not have imagined being Poetry Editor at EDP or The Linnet’s Wings or writing a review for another poet

  Becoming a Tree

or meeting friends in America

or friends from India

or putting together a collection of my own.

Change is the one constant. I try not to think what the next 24 years will bring because let’s face it — I am 61. Let’s just say that I love the way things turned out and I wouldn’t change a single day of it (okay maybe one or three — you know). I hope there’s lot more to come and most of it good.

This issue of The Linnet’s Wings is good. And having just finished choosing poems for the next issue — I can vouch for that too. Go and browse and if browsing turns to buying, we at The Linnet would be delighted.

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Valentine’s Weekend • the Art of Love and Hate

I am always pleased to write to Jack Savage’s art but this one I really loved and I think you’ll see why. It was already blessed with title:

The Day Joe In Accounting Said To Hell With It!

What a gift!!! Look for our other collaborations in PostcardPoems&Prose.

Maybe you’d all like to think about EVERGREEN in BwS. Don has some interesting questions posed to and he takes answers and publishes them so have a go if you wish. I wrote this just before Christmas as a first draft but it’s been through a lot of changes and despite hating this artwork I got a decent poem out of it and managed at the same time to ‘modernise’ the symbolism — computers were in their infancy when this was painted. Now I know some of you will like the painting which is displayed alongside the poem in BwS. It’s subjective, right? Anyway it turned out well and I would love to read people’s opinions on it so get analysing.

  1. In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Evergreen”:
    1. Why does a line break occur in the word “momentum”?
    2. What is meant by the refrain “windows disappear”?
    3. “Evergreen” is an ekphrastic poem, but what classic literary theme or themes does it evoke: Memento mori? Tempus fugit? Sic transit gloria mundi? Vita est somnium?

Thanks to Marion Clarke and Donald Webb for their insights to my poem Evergreen. It is always gratifying to see a discussion of the work and in this case — spot on!

I found this painting quite unsettling and maybe even a bit frightening and I didn’t really want to look at it for as long as I had to in the course of the writing session. But when I got home I thought — why waste such effort? So I revisited what I had written and revised and revised. As I did so more unsettling things struck me – the venous return was one, the windows and all they represented, from our own brief window of time to the windows programme I was engaged with now and my poem Fenestration came to mind too. It’s all about windows.

I struggled with the form. It had to be formal as a funeral rite. It had to be constrained as a game, hemmed in like the girls, stultified as the building. It had to feel somewhat uncomfortable – the repetitions uncertain as the future, the ending not quite finished and yet very finite. I struggled inwardly with that word split on moment – um. It is contrived. It’s kind of ‘cutesy’ but the stasis of the game, the uncertainty of the moment, the ‘um’ itself worked and — well yes it’s a bit unsubtle but that was part of what I had to say about the painting. Form and content, always form and content.

It is true I did not like this painting and I can honestly say that I still don’t but I do like what came of it and as I often find, working to someone else’s agenda can open the door to a creative place you wouldn’t have gone to on your own.

I L O V E the look of out latest Linnet’s Wings due out any time now Marie tells me.

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It’s a great issue as you can see by the people in it. Do visit our site and browse and buy an issue past or present and if you are a poet send me some of your work. I have also written a review of James Graham’s book BECOMING A TREE which is due out on Monday so don’t miss that. I had a bit of exclusive access🙂

May your weekend be filled with all the things you LOVE

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Imbolc; Candlemass; Groundhog Day • February!

I like festivals. They make notches in the year which is  what they were always supposed to do — like memory knots. They told farmers when to plant this and how to husband that. And they have the added advantage of helping me decide what’s for dinner🙂 Today it’ll be good pork sausages with savoury rice and sweet&sour vegetable stir fry because it’s

2nd Feb Groundhog/Candlemass/Imbolc

8th Chinese Year of the Monkey begins

9th Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day

14th Valentine’s Day The menu varies a bit for that but it always has dessert in it and we seldom have dessert — oh and something bubbly.

and last but not least the Leap Day when you girls may propose to the significant other of your dreams — or not… Just buy some chocs and have done… See? Hopeless romantic, me.

I have a poem, Another Launch in Riverbabble for the first time in ages. It’s for Tim Peake. Some coming up in Bewildering Stories (I believe one next week) and in PP&P. I have just been accepted in Gyroscope Review too. I am preparing more stuff to send out and I am working on something a little bigger.

In the meantime I am on a mission on behalf of my friend Ayreshire born retired English teacher, James Graham, who is an extraordinary poet and is so generous with his own time in commenting on the work of other Writewords members including myself. I have the highest admiration for him as a poet, a mentor and a man!

James Graham has a book coming out at the end of this month with Matador which is an imprint of Troubadour. It is called Becoming a Tree and I recommend it highly to you. It will be available on the 28th Feb and will retail at £8.99. Visit the website. They have a cute carousel of books there and you will see that one coming up!🙂 I am going to get him to sign a copy for me🙂

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If you have never read James’ work here is one poem (one of my favourites) from this collection, previously published in The Linnet’s Wings last year. The Book of Lascaux

(You can already buy his collection Clairvoyance on amazon.)

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January’s End • New Beginnings and a resolution for you

Alan Rickman  R.I.P (reading poetry)

I play this little game with myself every year from about the middle of December when it’s really dark, that in just a few week’s time it will be February and light ’til 5 o’clock! It’s my way of surviving S.A.D. About the middle of January winning the game seems possible and I feel optimistic. We have had our neeps and tatties and Haggis! and a nip of the amber stuff. The end is in sight. And so is the beginning! We have yellow showing on an early daffodil in the garden and that IS EARLY!

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Helibores at Belsay

Flowering Blackcurrant should not be in leaf until March

I have two pieces up this week — which is good for January and some coming up in Riverbabble and in Bewildering Stories.

Making the Monster is in Curly Minds. It is about Frankinstein’s Monster austensibly and about medical science and media technology and our common humanity and how everything we create has the potential to become the monster that gets away from us. It’s about lack of control and mortality and eternal life. It’s about God. I read it out last year with friend Joan Hewitt playing my Monster which she did beautifully and that gave me the confidence to send it out into the world where it can now accuse me of being the monster😉 and it will.

Liberation by Oonah V Joslin is in PP&P this week and I was so pleased with the response to that. Thanks to everyone who read it and took time to let me know.

Over at The Linnet’s Wings we have a  book by John C Mannon as well as our Christmas Canzonet which could enable you to spread the cost of Christmas yet to come😉. We have assembled a fine selection of work for our next issue due out in February.

In fact my Resolution for you is that we’d like all the people who contribute to TLWs or are friends of ours on FB or other media to buy at least ONE book, an issue or chapbook or the Canzonet from us this year. You will NOT be disappointed!They are so beautiful!

A friend of mine, James Graham whose work is ever popular in The Linnet, is also bringing out a wonderful collection in February called Becoming a Tree and you can find out more about that in The Linnet’s Wings too and I will be posting all over the place bacause it’s such great poetry!

I have been and am busy. My plans I will keep under wraps. You’ll just have to watch this space and other spaces I inhabit but I do have plans.

 

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The Monster HERSELF

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