Archive for March 2022




Finding the words…or not!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about words, their weight, their meaning, their use… As a writer, this isn’t something that’s new to me; it comes with the territory. But more and more, recently, I’ve also pre-occupied with a sense of words’ lack of weight, meaning, use…

It’s become hard to believe that I can find anything to say that hasn’t already been said before, that isn’t just noise in an ever over-noisy social media dominated world when what is really need is actual change.

Perhaps this is partly to do with age. The older I get the more I’ve heard the same words used in different ways, in tired ways, in lying ways. The more poems I’ve read too that already say the things I might want to say far better than I ever could…

I’m also from a generation that lived and existed, and actually managed to do so quite well, without social media, and all the sometimes-hard-to-sift-through words that come with these non-stop newsfeeds.

But, along with that, it’s a reflection of what’s going on in the world around me. Knowing history repeats itself is one thing. I’ve now reached the point where I’ve emotionally lived through world tragedies/wars/conflicts/problems that just keep being repeating in a slightly different forms, however pointless and inconceivable it seems that the world hasn’t learned from the past.

When I was younger, I had energy, hope and belief that things really could be different. And that even with a disability demanding my time and energy, I could still have enough left over to be part of effective changes. I didn’t realise quite how small I was, or how change-resistant/ignorant the world can be.

The past two years especially, with Covid and now the war in the Ukraine, has really brought this home, and increased my sense of futility. At the same time though, doing nothing also feels unacceptable.

So what can I do? The closest I’ve currently come to a conclusion is this poem from my new Verve collection Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic, written in reaction to news and conflict well before the current problems, but nonetheless similar, in essence.

This World Wide Web

When I close my eyes, blood falls
somewhere else, red as that missing girl’s
lost scarf, red as the poppies
dancing in my garden.

When I close my eyes, dust rises
from stampeding tyres in desert sand,
just before a mist of sudden gunfire,
or feet stumbling on a hidden landmine.

I flick from newsfeed to paper,
turn the pages, then let them fall
like closing eyelids,
or giant moths of black and whiteness.

I’m not the Earth’s axis;
my flightless eyes don’t close
as a butterfly-wing ripple, unleashing
a chain of storm chaos…

but this is my webbed world; eyes open
or closed, a million things happen
across our spinning globe –
no ocean wide enough

to stop lives spilling.
Only me in the middle of
my life, pulsing winged hope
to those within my reach.

Putting this into words is one thing, turning them in to sustained actions that will improve things is another. But I have to hope and try.

Add comment March 12, 2022

March celebrations!

March has always been a busy one for me, but busy in a good way, with International Women’s Day on 8 March, then Mothers’ Day (on 27 March in the UK this year). Women’s experience, empowerment and motherhood have been features of lots of my work. But this year, rather than sharing one of my own poems, I want to mark it with joy at a writer-friend’s International Women’s Day publication of her collection, House Work. Even a short blogpost can benefit from the suspense of a cliffhanger though, so find out more about the book and why I’d recommend, you’ll have read on to the end… (For a quick read, it’s the recommendation after my very brief poetry, fiction and photography news.)

POETRY

My poem Living Ink – all tattoos have a story behind them! – published on Fragmented Voices in March 2022.

I was delighted to have a poem shortlisted in the Country Life poetry competition 2021.

An amber star published in Ethel Zine, issue 8 in summer 2021.

FICTION

Two flash longlisted in the Cranked Anvil November 2021 flash fiction contest.

PHOTOGRAPHY

‘ripples deflect reality’ and ‘secret city’ have been accepted for publication in Free Verse Revolution Issue V: Cassandra in March 2022.

My photo ‘the first ladybird’ has been accepted for the cover of Southlight 31

A RECOMMENDATION

I was unbelievably pleased to get an advance copy of Khadija Rouf’s debut poetry collection, House Work (Fair Acre Press), and provide a short endorsement for the back cover. This can be found below, and more about this strong and tender collection, including ordering, here.

“Don’t be misled by the title, to read House Work is to discover surprises on every page, sifted from mundane chores and home’s hidden corners. These poems range across the tender and erotic, painfully beautiful and moving, and charged with womanhood, all carefully choreographed together. From Amazonian hoovering or a fridge singing in Reykjavik to ‘Us, making the sounds of trees, trapping / animal calls beneath our fingernails’, Khadija Rouf offers us exquisite imagery and memorable lines throughout. A stunning collection.”
Sarah James

Endorsement for Khadija Rouf, House Work (Fair Acre Press), 2022)

Add comment March 8, 2022

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