November • Of the Stanza and Thanksgiving

Sometimes friends exceed expectations and so it was this year when my friend Kathleen Mickelson not only took great pains to edit Three Pounds of Cells but then took a long flight all the way from Minnesota to Northumberland to read with me at The Stanza on 17th November. And I will never be able to thank her enough for her complete support because if I have little faith in myself, I know Kathleen  never bullshits me! In this she provides a much needed touchstone of reality. If Kath says it’s good — it’s good. If it’s not good she’d tell me! Kath got back home just in time for Thanksgiving and Jim coped with a poorly dachshund and the shopping and work so thanks to Jim too and to my husband for being so supportive.

15073329_10207849178123106_6215204103710419585_nMusician Peter Lagan was wonderful on the night providing some set and some improvised music upon the lute to accompany my reading. Peter knew the poems well having had a proof copy to work from and he took only a book when he could have asked for payment for his work. stanzab

Mandy Maxwell and Harry Gallagher provided the venue Beldon’s Cafe at The Exchange, North Shields, Bob Beagrie, Jane Burns and Cath Campbell kindly read and said some nice things about me and Steve Pottinger, a remarkable and very funny poet whom I’d never met before, was very lovely in his FB comment to me after the event. Two of my Unique Boutique friends Sean and Hannah came and they really enjoyed the evening and meeting my husband who doesn’t go to many dress shops as a rule😉 15027730_10207834904926285_1524306528382672095_nAnd of course there’s Marie Fitzpatrick manager of The Linnet’s Wings, whose idea the whole book was and who couldn’t join us but we managed a skype chat which was lovely and Kath and I have plans to meet up with her next year.

Dublin you have been warned!

November rolled out the sunshine for Kath and we went back in time to 1913 in Beamish and had a pint in The Sun Inn (well I had three third pints) (and a half). You have to sample the past properly🙂 We ate coconut haystacks and sweeties and then visited the dentist. We were so glad to be alive in the 21st C. Alnwick’s famous bookshop and a visit to Grannies (cafe), a stroll at Newbiggin, at Belsay and at Wallington where Kath met my Aspen from the poem ‘My Aspen at Wallington’ in ‘Cells’ 15095052_10207841780658174_8850453653149247064_nI never said it was warm! Just sunny — and with some very impressive leaves. Alas my camera is broken and I had to ‘borrow’ all these photos. I am hoping Santa will do something about that! 15036591_10207841780978182_8699333788644565938_nAnd I won’t even tell you what I cooked up for Kath’s visit — because your mouth would water… and some of you might want to visit me immediately and now is the time when prickly customers like me like to hide behind leaves and such and hibernate until the first snowdrops peek through. But you know there’s lots of good reading for you over Christmas from The Linnet’s Wings and they all make good presents so buy a book or a mag from us this year. They are gorgeous! Go to:

The Linnet’s Wings

canzonet16the perfect Christmas gift.

And as my friend Margaret Kerswell says: “And now I must sleep”

Three Pounds of Cells • Launch

My thanks goes to Mayor Andrew Tebbutt and Barbara Ross for opening and hosting the launch of Three Pounds of Cells on 18th Oct and to The Sour Grapes Wine Bar for an excellent meal for those of us who ate there and snacks for those who attended.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Also to Catherine Ayres

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pippa Little

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Harry Gallagher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

for reading with me and the wonderful Philip Stuckey for making the music real

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was brillant to see so many friends there. 14794180_1976057239287742_900141918_n

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
You all made the evening memorable and happy. Thanks also to the Morpeth Poetry Group for the lovely bouquet you sent 14519668_1975921892634610_3653863241406744670_n and to Noel for supporting all this poeting 14657492_1975921825967950_7583127637329633709_n

Three Pounds of Cells is AVAILABLE TO BUY HERE

and our next outing is at The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle, 28th October 7:30

Mostly Words

Three Pounds of Cells escapes

My book escaped to Cumbria before the official event and launched itself on The Steam Yacht Gondola. This was a happy coincidence and a much needed break. The National Trust wanted poets to read their work to promote their lovely boat ,just when I wanted to promote my book and have a nice trip and the two came together last week at Coniston. It was very fitting that was the first place I read from Three Pounds of Cells — Almost on Brantwood Jetty — which was in response to an exercise writing outdoors at Geraldine Green’s and Pippa Little’s course last October at Brantwood House.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Noel by Coniston Water

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gondola Poets

Gondola Poets — Geraldine second left

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old Man Coniston — that’s what this mountain is called

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Almost on Brantwood Jetty and that’s Ruskin’s house where Geraldine has been poet in residence this year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Skipper Jack gave us a lesson in steering her

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WHOOHOO!

img_8719

Reading my poem to camera

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Captain Jack’s Blog

That was a launch that was! Thanks Jo Houghton of the National Trust for allowing us all this wonderful opportunity. It’s a day to remember always!

And here’s what Geraldine has to say about

Three Pounds of Cells, by Oonah V. Joslin

Dreams aren’t real are they – or do all our experiences contribute to personal reality – even our nightmares?” asks Oonah V. Joslin in the introduction to her collection Three Pounds of Cells.

The very first poem in this ambitious collection sets the scene for the courageous and delicate, yet probing, enquiries this poet displays in her exploration of the world; her world, yet one that is one of connections.

A sense of playfulness embraces the reader as s/he steps into the poem. It opens up possibilities through the use of white space; a sense of a journey beginning in fragments in ‘Parameters of a Perambulator’ and ending in this beauty of a line – which I feels is a reach into darkness with the optimism of light – in this fine poet’s final poem ‘Same Place as the Music’

I want the light and music to be real.”

And in between? When darkness becomes too real and escape is as necessary as bird to sky, as fish to water, as light to music, as in these lines of innocence, longing and beauty:

under innocent skies and yellow sun


where kindness and imagination meet and dance

to silence, as when Earth was young.”

(Voluntary Exile)

This is a collection to turn and return to when one is in need of solace. Erudite, yet playful, poignant, filled with a yearning to understand what breathes between the interstices, this poet’s light shines through with the music. Once you finish reading you too step into the mystery. These poems will haunt me long after I’ve finished reading them.

Geraldine Green

It’s a BOOK • and it’s HERE • and it’s MINE

John Stocks Poetry Editor Bewildering Stories

Having been intimate with Oonah’s poetry for many years, and feeling, from the start,  an instinctive kinship and empathy with her word-craft and vision, I approached this collection with eager anticipation. Oonah writes poetry that trips the reader’s consciousness from the mundane to the magical. She has a shamanistic ability to escape the nutshell of every day experience and describe an infinite, timeless space-whether capturing the, ‘dissonance within a crowd’ in ‘South Wales Echo’ or the rapture of listening to jazz in Minneapolis. In ‘Pipestone’ she floats effortlessly between intricate ‘of the moment’ observation and reveration of ancient resonance, providing an almost overwhelming sense of genius loci for a place I have never visited.

Oonah consistently demonstrates the skills of a master craftsperson. She deploys her command of language with consummate professionalism. Whether describing the weather, ‘a pitter of rain on glass’ or something sublime such as the ‘gold spooned moonlight’ of a summer’s evening, her use of onomatopoeia and assonance slip discreetly into the lyrical flow.

Although a seasoned traveller, with the ‘wisdom to kindle,’ at times her poetry has the freshness of a child experiencing something exceptional for the first time. In ‘Pipestone’-possibly my favourite poem in the collection, she finds herself attuned to a world vision and a humility that could be her own.

‘take only what I teach you from this place’

In ‘Better than half’ she expresses her love for her husband Noel with words that are more beautiful for being precisely measured.

‘And I am safe as long

as you remember me in all the times

and places of our life.’

An absolute pleasure in all respects-I strongly recommend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s a BOOK • Three Pounds of Cells

We each select what matters to us in our lives don’t we —
or do we?

It’s October (my favourite month and who can tell the reason?) and this is my first book. And she’s a beauty thanks to careful editing by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson of Gyroscope Review and painstaking design by Marie Lynam Fitzpatrick of The Linnet’s Wings Press.
Congratulations. It's a BOOK :)
 Delivered on 5th October. Ten years to the very month after leaving teaching and tentatively taking up writing (though I have always written) and after editing and publishing what must now be upwards of 3000 poems by other people, this collection of 45 poems in 5 sections (I tend to be compulsive like that) is about to take its place in, what has to be said is the welter of modern published books.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So why should you buy this one? Why Three pounds of Cells? Okay there are three weeks before the first launch which will be a local one — in Morpeth, Northumberland on 18th October at The Sour Grapes, Newgate Street, so I’ll try to supply three reasons by then.

This first from Pippa Little, (Eric Gregory Award, The Andrew Waterhouse Prize, The Biscuit International Poetry Prize and The Norman MacCaig Centenary Poetry Prize.)

The poet’s delight in her multi-faceted, mysterious world is infectious: this collection shimmers and sparkles with a quick, wide-ranging intelligence.

Come taste my salt again’, she says, and we do, returning to enjoy her love of word play, humour and the sheer richness of language in poems which share CS Lewis’s celebration of the notion of looking along things rather than at them directly. Whether the poems are about falling in love with the New World or ‘thoughts of loved ones gone’, they offer a panorama of ‘things that have spoken uniquely’ to this poet over her lifetime, a record and testimony of ‘three pounds of cells/in a dark bone box’.

The snapshots (mostly) by me on the cover and inside reflect the theme of the poetry — how our brains act as cinematographer, perhaps even the director of our lives. I am looking along that journey and trying to determine what is really real from my first memory to things I have forgotten and all the in-betweens of flawed memories and sudden insights — meetings brief, yet unforgettable in their impact, Wojtek Jacobson, a vagrant called Mary in Cardiff, a myna bird in Swansea, rain in Manhattan, rocks and islands, light and music and the sea, the sea, the sea!

In this book I invite you to explore with me that miracle of moments on which the brain chooses to focus!

Available from Linnet’s Wings Press from 17th Oct 2016.

 Our Autumn Poetry Chapbook There’s Magic in the Pictures is now out. The Linnet’s Wings full colour Autumn Issue will be available mid to late October and once again this year we will be offering you A Christmas Canzonet which makes an absolutely LOVELY prezzie! Poems for everyone.

Whatever Happened • to August? it’s September!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of my Newgate Street poems in the window of the fabulous dress shop Unique Boutique who will be doing a display of clothes poems🙂 readings Tuesday at 2

and it’s all happening! I have been busy! We all have here in Morpeth. I have written 17 poems for The Newgate Street Festival taking place here in Morpeth this week and some other members of the poetry group have at least matched that number.

The traders have been most enthusiastic about our group’s poems and they are being displayed in the windows of businesses this week. Poetry is alive and kicking in Morpeth and we hope that Newgate Street will benefit from a well deserved boost ‘cos it’s a great street and our high streets are vital to the survival of market towns! We went into those shops! We talked to the traders. And this — an excerpt from ‘STRIPES’ is the result of one conversation:
And Susan has a philosophy
and it’s one with which we should all agree
that the high street is the place to be
especially for the elderly
or those who just want company
a friendly chat, a place that’s cheery
an easy place to stroll to daily
call in the shops and have a chat
that human contact that no internet
seller can provide. The world we create
is up to us and creativity isn’t
some luxury we can live without.
So this poet took very little persuading
to buy the big blue butterfly
necklace with plastic rings
as a little treat.
So poetry and commerce meet
in a happy alliance on Newgate Street.

So you see — this is important stuff we’re engaged in and I hope you will support us too!

So where and when can you come to hear our poems?

Monday: Opening — Town Square 10am/ The Cube 10:30/ The Wheatsheaf 2pm/The Sour Grapes 7:30

Tuesday: Cafe des Amis 10:30/ Unique Boutique 2pm/ The Black and Grey 7:30

Wednesday: Packhorse Yard 10:30/ Cafe Vault 2 pm/ The Peppermint Tearooms 7pm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Packhorse Yard is so beautiful!!! Come and see for yourselves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thursday: The Ice Bar 7:30

Sunday 11th: The White Swan 7:30 — and I am hoping for some audience participation🙂

Here’s a funny one to wet your appetite. It’s a true tale!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Give us a Butcher’s (for Martin’s)Give us a butcher’s…

In Martin’s they’re always so helpful I find
they’ll chop up and cut off and roll up and grind,
suggest the best cut or sell bones for the mutt.
But I just hadn’t made up my mind!

Every woman likes a big beefy men
and that day there were three of them.
One slicing ham, one sawing bone through
and one who said pleasantly, What can I get you?

I stood in a quandary a moment or two;
did I want steak to fry? Did I want lamb to stew?
At last — and I looked the man straight in the eye;
Can I have a look at your brisket? says I.

And the one sawing bone nearly went through his own
and the one at the slicer was doubled with laughter
and taking my cue to make things even worse
I said – Oh, not ‘your’ brisket! And then dropped my purse.

With coins and composure all over the floor
it was quite a few weeks ’til I went back for more
and I practised first carefully outside for ages
how I should ask for their excellent sausages.

Oonah V Joslin 2016
I also so wrote for:

Fin and Feather (a shop now gone)

Proudlocks (which still has — a presence on Newgate)

Bakehouse Cafe (Bakehouse Yard – shop right of the cafe used to be a reflexologist’s)

The Oriental Pearl (Takeaway)

Elizabeth Ayres (Podiatrist C4 & Fawcetts Yard)

Appleby’s (sadly now a dead bookshop)

Unique Boutique (my favourite clothes shop!) who are also putting on a display of clothes poems by me!

Lateral Art (new to Packhorse Yard)

The Price is Right (Prices’ Groceries)

Ice Bar (YUM)

Perris Antiques (Packhorse Yard)

Decxorative Delights byNicola (Packhorse Yard)

STRIPES (which does all manner of bling)

Reason to Love (Peppermint Tearooms)

How It Must Have Been – Morpeth 1898

What did the Normans ever do for us? (about William de Merlay – the Norman who founded the town)

In August I appeared at THE STANZA for the first time and it was an amazing night of poetry! and at BAR LOCO. My poem Northumberlandia was published in The Fat Damsel 10 Writing in a Woman’s Voice: To Dust, and Kermit in the Kardomah A New Ulster 47 and in Postcard Poems and Prose, and I even took part in a radio show! MINT🙂

I have been proof reading my forthcoming book THREE POUNDS OF CELLS, designed by Marie Fitzpatrick and edited by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson who will be reading at the 17th November launch at The Stanza. There wioll be a launch in Morpeth too of course — Of which more soon!

In short a good poetry month and I hope I’ll see some friends as we read this week in Morpeth. Please support our lovely town and thanks Barbara Ross for all your hard work in organising this event.

 

 

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Charles I was born in Dunfermline.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The garden is beautiful too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and Alwyn Taylor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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