Friday, 13 November 2015

13/11/15 Paris Attacks

Paris 13/11/15

As the people of Paris die, the world watches horrified. Parisians are slaughtered on their streets in both theatre and stadium, Les Halles, and all over the city.

At the same time in Greece volunteers without leaders have travelled from as far away as Spain to help save refugees' lives, desperate people who flee to stay alive, and die in the sea daily. There is no coordination and no leadership. Greece is completely impoverished.

I am tired of our future being destroyed by all this misery.

War is not a brilliant success is it! In fact it's failure on a grand scale.
We can either let the wars and weapons and terror and greed win, as the time to save the world from climate change runs out. And there will be more and more terrorist attacks.

Or we can say NO, NO MORE.

The world can determine to get together, talk and work out a plan to deal with this situation. It is not beyond the wit of men and women to get together and sort this out. We all have children; we all love this planet. That's the only starting point we need.



The world must agree to deal with climate change at the Paris summit.We have a choice : a peaceful future and a saved planet. Or no future at all. Please let's choose a peaceful future.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

15/10/15 Hamlet Live NT performance --at cineworld.

Lindsey Turner's outstanding production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a live performance beamed to cimemas across the UK and the world tonight. The first great feminist Hamlet --director and producer both women. A huge critique and demolition of the evils of patriarchy, its rules, its laws its corruptions, its religious pettinesses, its useless politicians. How it destroys our present and our future with its massive business and war machinery, its noise and explosions. How its kills both our sons and our daughters. Stops our line, kills us all.
At first strange because there's no male charisma, the idea of male genius is out, it seems flat --and of course the Telegraph cannot understand it at all -- but as the critique and power build up you learn its language, see its psychological and nasty truths. Its world of excess and opulence begins to fall apart. We see how Hamlet, a decent man, is infantilised and internalises sexism to the extent that he lashes out at Ophelia in his pain. He acts the madman to plot revenge; she suffers madness as his horrors are heaped on her. But even he and his friends cannot survive, except a bespeckled, heavily tattoed, Horatio, left reluctantly to tell the awful tale.
And it's so true to Shakespeare himself --in a kind of modern dress, but a bit like Mervyn Peake's world, you see the16th C as never before, the real fears of the dark night with its malevolent spirits and ghosts; the religious ideas --incest according to church law; the concept of purgatory as it was then; laws on suicide; the moral demand for revenge. And the metaphysical ideas, how grief and betrayal poison all love, how worthless the world is without decent values ; the morality, the earthiness of the real Shakespeare who littered plays with bawdy puns for the pit.
And at the end, when we are left breathless and weeping, Cumberbatch comes out, reads a Somalian poem about refugees, and asks the world to support the millions of refugees fleeing from the world's wars, and especially Syria. The most innovative experience since The Piano where real loving making was shown. And I think both Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders would love it!
Benedict Cumberbatch urges Hamlet audience to donate for refugees

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

14 October, 2015

Went to see Alan Jenkins read from his new pamphlet, Paper Money Lyrics at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop, Oxford.

Very impressed with these poems. His usual honesty and lyricism matched by a lacerating look back at his past, and a reflective understanding tone that impressed me. I was also taken by his use of rhyme, something which I use and enjoy myself and which builds to a tour de force in his final poem, 'Inshore', which expresses the probably poor opinion our honourable,  hard-working and serious ancestors must have of the easy and lax life of our affluent post-war generation.

Actually I think he's too hard on himself (and all of us). We baby boomers, brought up by people who were both traumatised and survived  WW2, also grew up in a terrifying Cold War, with accompanying deadly proxy wars all over, and lived our way through two major revolutions --the technological revolution into the computer age, and the sexual revolution begun by birth control.

It was not all love and flower power -in fact very little of it was. It was bloody hard and confusing for most. And there were a lot of hurt and broken people, a lot of experimentation that didn't work, as well as those great steps forward that did, and changed humanity.

These poems show how we learned, understood, grew wiser, moved on. And the formal structures and rhyme suit that metaphysical movement in us all.

A good and enjoyable event.

Sunday, 13 September 2015


The way it goes in the UK, is that the Tories bully and threaten our BBC until it nearly rolls over and plays dead. Tells it to stick to heritage dramas.

So what does the BBC do? It does what any wonderful creative thing does in the face of acute oppression. It puts on a series of literary heritage dramas, as 'told' to, and tonight we have had An Inspector Calls, by J B Priestly, the most moving and damning exposure and indictment of the whole careless lot of them ever written!

And this the first day of our new politics with just elected Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Another three cheers for our treasured BBC.  And well done and good luck to Jeremy!

Thursday, 13 August 2015


The Hide --by Angela France​, Nine Arches Press. 2011

I have been meaning to read this book for a long time --its been on a special shelf containing books I must read. I forgot about the shelf and had to hunt the book out this morning. I expected to be attracted to the sensibility of this poet, but never dreamed of what I'd find here.

A Hide is a secret place where you can watch creatures in their habitats,be a part of their lives without disturbing them. It is also the secret places we go to protect ourselves from notice, our own camouflage, our own survival often.

'Cunning' is the word used most often in this wonderful book --the craft knowledge we share with animals, our folk and heritage of practical skills, of courage it escaping from prowlers of autocrats, our hoard of women's secrets, of men's ways of making do and mending. This was and is the strength of our ancestors, my Mother as well as my grandmothers and grandfather. What we brought to the womens' movement, the quiet intelligence that roots us and that we can take into negotiations, into leadership.

This book is full of poems about this --in lists, mainly, and lovely slant rhymes --I sat mesmerised while the English and Welsh life I come from appeared in pictures before me -- the food, the rooms, the clothes, the wisdom, the superstitions, the knowledge, the kindness, the roots we sent across the world and share with every person and creature across the world, the unifying life that is united not just with bark but the quick and pulp of trees --is at one with our natural world. Refuses to leave it nurtures and heals it.

But its also dark --dark with mischief and laughter, with the fear that will keep you alive and on your toes, and sometimes in the scapegoat's life. And magic with spiritual lift--like the poem about the 'Scapula' (shoulder blade) that ends on the wonderful line 'how they quietly hold the potential of wings'.

 I loved this book -it brought back a whole world to me --a world I'd ignored until recently because of pain--my female side -- which includes both my Mother and my grandfather, with all their knowledge and wisdom and skills and talents. This closeness to the world, this intimacy and empathy with each hedgerow plant, each insect, (or in Ann​ie Drysale's case, even insect poo) is what we'll need again to build a sustainable society and an easy-breathing world. I'm going to order Angela's other books today.  

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Jeremy Corbyn is up to speed on climate change --and is also a good history teacher. A natural creator of solidly good narratives --unflashy but gripping. Also a unifier. He so far avoids traps. Honesty, knowing who you are, and knowing your stuff is a great help!

Will pay up as a supporter tomorrow.
I want to vote for him.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

28. 7.15

I am going on record as saying I think the Jeremy Corbyn campaign for Leadership of the Labour Party is the most exciting thing to happen in English politics for a very long time.The man is a proven dedicated and honest polician. He is a social democrat. I hope he wins and his campaign galvanises the Labour Party to become social democratic again and move forward.

The other three candidates are not social democrats --they are party clones with no new ideas. It's like listening to two Stepford Wives and one Stepford husband. Even the smiles are fixed!

I say in poetry, if you have the feelings and passion underneath your work, you can build on that. I call it emotional muscle. Without it no amount of language of music will make a good poem -- it's simply a necessary condition.  It's the same in politics -- honesty and passion are essentials. Corbyn can get the Labour party to help him update his policies to suit today. In a sense those policies are timeless anyway  --it's a matter of new examples of how to be progressive, new instances and technologies, new methods and approaches. Or working out what is a service and needs cooperation but not collusion, and what is business and thrives on a mix of non-hostile competition and working together.
On what needs regulating and who takes responsibility for what. On what is contemporary democracy.

To those who say this campaign is a suicide note for Labour, I say this is life-support for Labour and might lead to recovery. Blair and New Labour wrecked havoc on the soul of the Labour Party --they are shameful because they betrayed our trust and turned us into unwitting accomplices to torture and  mass murder. Ed Miliband's policies were also NOT socially democratic but tory-lite. Austerity is a scientifically proven failure.

For those who say Corbyn is too old at 66, I shout 'ageist, how dare you!' Churchill became Prime Minister for the second time at nearly 77, and was only 66 the first time-- and this is decades ago. We all live much longer now.

For those who warn about the eighties and Militant --I was in the Labour Party then. The Militants (Trotskyites) were a constant irritant but we defeated them. What scuppered us numerically in General Elections were the people who split and abandoned the Party to form the SDP, later the Lib Dems.

The model to think of here is Scotland, which is run very sucessfully by a social democratic Party, the SNP. And we could link up with them, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. This might in time develop into the federal model we all need so badly. And in time for us to get down to serious work to save us all from climate change!

I will not, however, be paying up £3 to Labour to get a vote on this. New Labour broke my heart -- I remember how thrilled I was when Blair got in. How we sat up all night. How embarrassingly despicable he became, crawling around George Bush, so eager to please him. I also tried to get Ed Miliband to come out with policies for years -- any policies -- in letter after Guardian letter.

Now I am cautious. I want to know what Labour and Jeremy Corbyn will do on climate change. I support the Greens on this issue. Caroline Lucas has also been very honourable and personally brave. A lot of good research has already been done. I don't agree with the Greens on copyright issues, but to me sustainability is the most important issue for us all.

However, I wish Jeremy Corbyn's campaign all the best wishes possible. I will watch it with interest. And if he wins, I'll begin to get hopeful. Even now, a tiny bit of hope stirs. 8--)

Thursday, 16 July 2015


I just watched Everyman through National Theatre Live at Cineworld downtown and I have to say it was superb. Carol Ann Duffy has re-imagined it and it is a fierce, clever, funny and frightening, critique of our society; an ultimately compassionate realisation of our human condition and tragedy.
Everyman played by the wonderful actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, celebrates his fortieth birthday among his high-flying friends with snort, music and wild sex. The story takes off from there.

This updating of the play suits all Duffy's strengths as a poet (she's our Laureate to those abroad who may not know), and is the best thing she's done in my opinion except for her classic poems. Her contemporary ordinary-speech-like verse moves along at one hell of a pace. Her clever quick rhymes snap out; her use of our current tag words and cliches to hold up a comedic and pitiless mirror to all our failings, is hilarious and and biting. Her endless flexibility with common terms and lists is really on form and contrasts neatly with the medieval original text. Lastly, Duffy was brought up a northern Catholic --she's intimate with this material and can use it like putty as she needs. I was seriously impressed and moved.

But the casting and staging were also brilliant. From Everyman's motley crew of friends, to 'Goods' in their gold and quiffs ultimately unable to help; from God imagined as a female cleaner (who the audience ignored for fifteen minutes before the play began) to the incredible Irish Death who gets the very last words and all their echoes, a foot was never put wrong with casting.

As for staging, the tsunami was very violent and scary; the use of light and colour tones intriguing; the videos and photos a real atmospheric pull, and the rubbish train and snorting table, on a shocking epic scale. 'Wow' is what I wanted to yell out.

Then there were the dances, body rushes, and movements, music and songs. All these put together kept you breathless and on the hook throughout. I thoroughly recommend this production. If tickets are sold out, watch out for an Encore showing.

I came out and remembered running into Ed Morris recently after a Shakespeare play --I forget which now. We shared as usual a discussion of the play, had a brief catch up and an affectionate goodnight hug. Now suddenly he's two weeks dead, at 62 and while completely healthy.

Everyman speaks to us all --time is running out --we have a planet to save --or as this production makes clear, we have humanity to save on this planet. If not, the planet will shrug us off and have to regain its health without us. Four bereavements in one year tell me loud and clear we all have an appointment with death. But our human condition is also comedic. Go see this to have a great laugh too. Death will really get you in the end, but with an good old joke! 8--)

Monday, 13 July 2015


Autumn Sky Daily, in the USA, has published my poem 'Empty Nest'.
Pleased with this.

The poem was not published before The Wilding Eye came out, but does appear in it. I can't seem to get a live link up here, but you can hear me read this at the book launch, under readings link on website first page.  

Sunday, 5 July 2015

5 July, 2015 A Death and the Greek Results

I have just watched A Song for Jenny on the BBC --a drama about the death of a young woman in the 7/7 London bombings --it's the 10th anniversary on Tuesday. It was painful to watch and humbling to see the actuality of what happened to people whose daughter was killed, and to her siblings and fiance. I remember being so relieved that Mike was safe at work, and that London friends made it through. How they walked all the way home that night, many of them together, and for several miles. And how proud I was of our people that we just carried on without a fuss. But until now I've had no idea what hell the inside of that was like, for the 52 unlucky ones, and the 770 injured.

A friend of ours was killed on Friday night (3rd July) in an accident --he took a cousin up in his microlight and it hit a shed. They were both killed instantly -- he was Ed Morris, 62, a retired doctor, a Quaker. I've been dealing with shock and despair over the randomness and chance, the pointlessness of trying to make order or things better --have felt unable and unwilling to struggle further

Now with this drama and the Greek results I realise, the point is not to try to make all tight and good again -- the point is what you do in spite of the unholy and rotten randomness and hell of it all --how you get up each day and do your best until you stop breathing (as Ed, our friend did); as the family who lost their child on 7/7 did; and as the Greeks decided to do today (they are no longer victims but making their own history again now, however hard it will be  --and have become models again for us other Europeans  --we can say no to austerity, and should!)

Doing your best with the tyranny of time, risk and chance and without easy answers, is the only option --the only way. The only way to beat bad energy at its own game.

RIP:  Ed Morris, a kind, gentle, decent man --a good friend to all those he knew. Ed, you will be missed so much! And deepest sympathy to his great family, also friends!

Good luck to the long-suffering Greeks who have refused to have democracy taken away from them!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

16 June, 2015

Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre made my poem 'Woods' from The Wilding Eye , their poem of the week. I'm very grateful.

The poem should be in quatrains and has wound up in an intriguing kind of tercet. I've asked them to fix that when they notice, though am tempted to leave it almost as it is........8---)

Saturday, 13 June 2015

13 June, 2015.

The New Statesman has made  my new book, The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, its recommend read for issue 12-18 June, 2015, with a great short review. Delighted.

The review can be found on my review page for this new book.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Pleased to have a new poem accepted by The Rotary Dial, a fine on-line Canadian Journal coming out of Toronto, (one of my several old 'home towns'). Only my second poem published in Canada (I had one in Quarry years ago) and second on-line (the first being Huff Post).

Also this Journal prides itself on taking formal work and has stepped outside its comfort zone to publish me --I'm very grateful.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

6 May 2015

Nominations are open for the next Oxford Professor of Poetry.

I think it should be a woman --think its important it is a woman, finally, after all this time.

I have given my support to Alicia Stallings, an American formalist poet living in Greece. I really find her level of technique intriguing and fascinating and would enjoy hearing about it in lectures. She is also an ex-pat like I have been, both here and in Canada, and that interests me. She is also living in Greece which is important for its history, but also because of its present travails. Having a poet come to Oxford from Greece right now seems timely.

However, I understand that Wole Soyinka has also been nominated. A fine international poet too, and I wish them both the best of luck.  I would prefer a woman, but it would be good if the whole business were civilised and good fun this time. I will be happy with any fine poet who comes and gives interesting lectures!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

A great day in Cheltenham yesterday, when I read with the superb poet, Martyn Crucefix, a truly generous and lovely guy,

Lovely to see good friends and catch up with some colleagues and family, too. I actually sold 7 books which is quite a feat these days and ordered Martyn's highly respected translation of Rilke's sonnets.

Later, we attended a further reading where the Festival anthology of poems on climate change, Dear World was launched. My contribution to this fascinating looking collection of poems by readers at this year's Festival, is my new title poem, 'The Wilding Eye'.

The festival goes on another 10 days --highly recommended --especially  Michael McKimm reading with Sean O'Brien next w/e. Michael, also a geologist, is a fabulous new young poet on the block, deeply concerned about the planet (he makes rocks actually weep!), and always worth listening to. Fossil Sunshine is his new pamphlet from Worple.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

16th April, Somerset House, London.

Wonderful launch for The Wilding Eye. A great time was had by all, especially the book!! Thanks to my great publishers, Peter and Amanda Carpenter.

A selection of Pics will go up soon.

First review is in --a great on-line review from John Field's Poor Rude Lines.
It will go up on a new review page very soon.

Happy and nicely tired.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

12 April, 2015

Two new poems published in Australia in Quadrant's April issue. Thank you again, Les.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Saturday 4 April, 2015

Another Guardian Letter :: on the leader's debate UK elections, text beneath:

Quite simply the three women knocked the socks off the men. Strong, detailed, clear, principled. We need a coalition of them all, if possible, with Miliband, because the big party is necessary, but to keep him in check and to propel him along, whenever needed. That would give us all the best chance of a future from this coming election. The other men are pretty grim. Farage exposed himself horribly with the nasty HIV comment. Nick Clegg tried to play his old balancing act – but he’s tired; finished. Cameron has become jaded, with no new ideas for the future.
Olivia Byard
Witney, Oxfordshire

Thursday, 2 April 2015

2 April.

My new book, The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, is officially published today, by The Worple Press.

Now that it is finally out, thanks to everyone who helped with what seemed a huge task, and  especially to my wonderful publisher, editor, and now friend, Peter Carpenter, and his equally efficient, kind, and supportive co-publisher and wife, Amanda.  xx

Good luck, little book. 8--) xx

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

31 March,2015 Comments on reading David Mason's marvelous new book, Davey McGravy.

I read Davey McGravy by David Mason last night in a fever of excitement, with a sense of delight and wonder, enthralled and on the point of tears, because it is also so achingly moving and sad.
Years ago in my first book, I wrote two poems that showed that every childhood has a good and bad side --there is happiness in the worst childhood and sadness in the best. That was early work. This is mature work by a mature poet and one thing the book illustrates is the entwining of mourning and grief into the very root and growth of growing up, how it begins with a great early wound that enables the painful first steps and burgeoning of a nascent boy poet. Or any human being. That last very important because this is a supremely human and humane fairy tale of a book --a book for us all, and an instant classic.
Davey has lost his Mother and as he misses her, mourns and grieves for her, he also learns the wonders of his imagination, the solace and freedom of silence and dream, the kindness and support of the wilderness, family friends, neighbours and teachers and the world of animals. In verse supremely fluid and musical, often in quatrains but also organically at times free and flowing, he takes us with him on an incredible magic but also painful journey (which becomes our own human journey) towards healing. Pilgrim's Progress is an ancient ghost here, Melville perhaps, but also C S Lewis -- though what is found at the end of this book, is not the male Christian symbol of Aslan, but the equally potent wild female mountain lioness. When Davey faces death at her hands but instead gets tenderly carried home by her to safety, several thousand years of fearing woman dies a nasty death, and the boy, the man, has reclaimed and been reclaimed by the equally strong female principle, despised and lost to our world long ago.
As he gently bids us go with him with the repeated word 'Love', a mono-chorus ,a beckon, a holding hand, a warmth, a kindness, he reaffirms the sovereignty of good in the world, and what will help it grow and heal. Boys need the female principle to grow well and heal, and the world does too. There is no easy answer, no great conclusion --but Davey has his brothers, Father, and female friend (with a mobile phone to scare away bullies!), his words, his visions, his music. It's a start.
Lastly, the language is simple, a child could understand it, but it is never too simple, or dull; it is as fresh, interesting and beguiling as his vision, and sometimes accumulates like a live thing growing almost around itself, or tumbles about like a flowing stream. It can leave you breathless, running, or attentive and still.
And all you want to do when you finish this wonderful book, is go back to it, again and again, and again. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Buy it and enjoy. Available on-line in the UK now too.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

18 March, 2015

The launch for my new book, The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, will take place on 16 April, 6 pm, at the Somerset House Rizzoli Bookshop, London. Anyone who finds themselves in central London that evening is welcome to drop in.

Monday, 2 March 2015

2 March 2015

Discovered another superb US poet --Rose Kelleher. Highly recommend.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

22 January, 2015. My mother's birthday.
Another little musing:

Ive just had the plumber out to fix the new shower which turned out to be turned off at a switch I never knew about and couldnt work anyway --cue hilarity at stupid woman! BUT, I cant work the new TV, or DVD Player. I cant work the new radio which fails to have helpful names on it like BBC3. Ditto the dishwasher, washing machine, dryer who have all given up language on their knobs and buttons. The cooker burns things, the new hob doesn't simmer anything. The toaster is a complete puzzle --why does a toaster need so many settings!!!?. Cant find redial on new house phone; I can't work my iphone. Meanwhile, here on my desktop I struggle with windows 8 .1 which everyone agrees is grim but which I was forced to have at the time. The printer is such a mystery I bang on many buttons to make it stop when I make a printing error --getting it going again is a dark art I will never master..... on FB I gave up long ago trying to deal with their games with my settings. The other week I caused £600 of damage to the electric car windows because I took them down in frost and they're fragile!! They're 'fragile' --does anyone remember wind-up windows which lasted, and were not fragile!! I rather thought people were more fragile than machines. It's bad enough drifting around in a poem fug trying to get the right word, without having to also have three degrees in engineering to make a piece of toast and turn on the radio!! That's it, I'm officially old, but so is everyone over forty! Bah humbug!!

Monday, 16 February 2015

My new Book, The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, due out the beginning of April, is up on my publishers' website for pre-order today, using Pay Pal.

Please, just go to The Worple Press page, click on the link and follow instructions. I can't get the live link on here for some reason. Sorry.

Thursday, 12 February 2015


A really exciting major American poet, my friend Maryann Corbett. My initial response to her new book Mid Evil, UEP, USA.

Maryann Corbett​

Maryann's new book Mid Evil is really a cracking good read.To say I enjoyed it is an understatement. I've waited years to come across a fellow female poet this good, in fact any poet this good!
From its opening poem 'Hand' that brings the human past right here and into your soul (It's only later...//I wonder how long the bones of a hand would last'), and all the other great (sic) writerly poems in that first section, through the other thoughtful sections --eg. especially:

II.The Nature of Things -- 'the plainest facts conspiring to be shapers/of glorious illusions' ('Insubstantial Pageant'); 'that crushed bones are its essence' ('Teacup') ---

III. A Chronicle in Fragments -- 'but the fears persist//he'll open his eyes/to a face that sneers/from the rank abscess/of an old knife twist/ ('The Patient Prays for the Grace of a Good Death') --

IV . AD Feminam .'women serve here as dumb shows./ Backgrounds are more alive ('In the Renaissance Rooms of the National Gallery');
(my aside: though Maryann I hope you do know Artemisia Gentileschi, and if you don't, you must!); and the marvellous two poems here, 'Foundation Myth' and 'Resurrection Blues' --

V. Fables ='The Panhandler's Tale;, and 'He was a predator --went after her' ('Abelard and Eloise: The Jaundiced View'); 'That sounds like wish was wings' ('Swanlore'); and the amazing but worrying 'Disturbances of the Peace'-- Move over great story-tellers of the past, there's a new poet on the block!!
to --
VI. Sing, My Tongue. 'so I joked...//and you winced' (Dissonance'); 'that even now our darkened hearts might burn' (the terrific poem, 'On Singing the Exultet'); 'and the panhandler who is, as promised, always with us//...asks in the voice of God,/for my spare change.' (A Mozart Mass....);
'my concentration is toast. Abba. And all/I'm seeing now is party.' (As Little Children'); to the final wonderful last piece:'Tired of my dread/I want it back: the confidence in air....' ('Prophesying to the Breath').

Oh I've gone on a long time, but enough to give you a flavour, I hope -- it is all so good! This poetry is wise, vulnerable and skilled. It is really honest, knowledgeable and musical. It has both delicacy and heft. I love it to bits, and highly recommend you read it.

Congratulations and well done, Maryann!! Very well done. 'The 'girl' done good' xx

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


Les Murray has just taken two more poems for publication. Very pleased.

Also another Guardian letter, 9.2.15, text beneath:

​'It shows how bizarrely out of touch with the people national election politics has become when Ed Miliband makes what should be an uncontroversial comment that all should pay their share of taxes and every rich Tom and Dick and Harry wades in to complain. I lost interest in this election because all the parties spent ages reassuring business and finance that they were safe to govern – and no one was reassuring us, the people, except with standard Tory and Lib Dem bribes. But a politician insisting on a tiny bit of fairness for us! Not enough, perhaps, to stop me voting Green but enough to think that if Miliband carries on speaking to and for the people a little more, progressives may regain enough respect to consider a loose coalition.'
Olivia Byard
Witney, Oxfordshire

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

4 February, 2015

Yesterday, 3 Feb. one of my favourite poets, Rory Waterman, came to Oxford to be my visiting poet this year in my Conted. Class. Then in the evening, he joined Andrew Smardon and me for another of our Readings to Spark Audience Reflection and Discussion. Last night's themed poems were on Parents (first half) and Dislocation (second half).
  It was hosted by the wonderful Dennis Harrison at his Albion Beatnik Bookshop. The readings were greet fun, and the discussions even more so!

Monday, 26 January 2015


Another of my very occasional musings:

Thoughts on my university attendance:

After Maryann's Maryann Corbett sentimental FB post yesterday, I went for a virtual tour of my old University Residence at Queen's University today (through this technology undreamed of when I was there). It has altered so little in appearance really since I went at 17 as the youngest student there, and Dean Bryce followed me with hawk eyes and I was gated before Easter.
I shared a double room and Fanny Hill raced around our innocent floor in timed loan-outs. But I also saw Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood while they were still poets, and went to an early concert with Seiji Ozawa conducting. The serious women still look down from walls --for some reason I remember also one of Ella Fitzgerald -- and we felt we had to live up to them somehow, while the birth control pill arrived and registration was computerized in third year (two things that would revolutionize our world). 
I studied here for four years, and joined the International Students Association, the Peace Movement (SUPA), the NDP, demonstrated against Vietnam and for US Civil Rights, and organized and went on a Community Poverty Project in second year summer where we lived in the local community of ex-cons and their families (Kingston was also the home of the Federal Penitentiary) and other under-privileged people, and tried to help empower them. The CBC did a TV program on us where their camera was more interested in my face than what I said! In other summers I worked for the English Dept. doing research.
Oh the angst (Erich Fromm), the passion (Simone de Bouvoir), the anger (Camus, Sartre), the vows (to fight against all war) --ok, what's new.! But we threw off pill box hats and lived in jeans, sloppy sweaters, mini -skirts; and the best music ever, in folk, blues, rock, soul, protest, classical, just kept coming. We chucked out irons and all other housework, made angels in the snow (winter is the dominant season), and danced. We lost our virginities with speed and pride (and little knowledge), fell in love (mostly with the wrong people), and pigged out on art, poetry, great literature, and politics and philosophy, and had so much hope. 
A science friend told me they'd discovered soap suds could harm your health, so always rinse dishes....which I've done since; we also had nuclear sirens practising and worrying us all the time (always had had); we had hard histories some of us. But we believed in the health of democracy (I went up to listen to Parliament debate in Ottawa --just walked in and sat in the Gallery one afternoon (as two years later I would wander up Downing Street and through Westminster Hall), and on Canada's centenary, danced and sang in a massive crowd around the Houses of Parliament.  
And since we knew the oil sands could never be developed --they were not viable, economically  --life still seemed full of endless possibilities.....
I also watched Kennedy's funeral in this building, though, very very young, silent and shocked. 
I knew I'd be dead before the millenium; would have to be; would be too old and useless after........hmmm.....

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

14 January, 2015

My new book, The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, will be published by Worple Press the first week in April. Very pleased.

Monday, 12 January 2015

12 January 2015.

I've just been told I'll be reading with Martyn Crucefix at Cheltenham Poetry Festival on 24 April. I love Martyn's work. Really looking forward to that! 8--)

Saturday, 10 January 2015

9  -10 January 2105 London Trip

9th. January. 2015

Sitting in a tiny room on the fifth floor ( if you include the basement) of a Kensington Upstairs/Downstairs house, now a hotel, listening to sounds of London in what would have been a maid's bedroom, I guess. Thinking of 19th century British Columbia and the smallpox epidemic that wiped out half the first nation people. So a strange spiky woman decided to draw and paint their art, and works before it died. Her name was Emily Carr. In time she found her way to San Francisco, London, and Paris to study. But returned after, to her woods and solitude. She's here again at Dulwich Gallery and I'm so lucky to have seen her work today. Her defiant and defensive eyes in her self portrait reached out to me. She and her wonderful work are my Companions tonight. 8--)

10th January 2015
Two of my favourite London things:

1.The most touching war memorial, to animals. It's on Park Lane.
2. Chelsea Bridge, the most absolute jewel, lit up at night.

Today I managed to see the William Morris Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, briefly, because Saturday morning is full of crowds.
It was fascinating to see how he was known as a thinker and poet more than an artist and designer in his day...linked up with all sorts of people. And his arts and crafts movement, of small, local groups of makers and creators appealed to the guild element of the Union Movement. Helped move us away from communism into social democracy, the nascence of the Labour Party, and influenced the garden city movements inter-wars, our green belt movement, and even the festival of Britain designs and the designs of new cities after the war.
He is relevant today because of his ethos that we make things, value their beauty, and value nature.
I looked at contemporary pics after that. The Postlethwaite was terrific, and Olivia Coleman is beautiful. The Judi Dench was lovely. I actually flinched away when I saw Blair.

After that I walked up to China town and went to a little restaurant full of Chinese (always a good sign!). They were lovely to me and I had crispy duck with pancakes.

Having taken the Tube Underground in this morning I decided to get a black cab after, back to Marble Arch and the bus to Oxford. He told me all about 'The Knowledge'. It takes three years -- they have to know every street, building, monument, famous place, etc. by heart. They have to know the shortest quickest routes in a 12 mile radius. Their licenses are holographed to stop fake black cab drivers. Those who do best own their own black cabs His costs £10,000 a year just to maintain!

The guy in the mini-cab last night was great to discuss politics with but had failed his 'knowledge'. He said it didn't matter now we have sat-navs. This black cab guy showed me in five minutes how that was rubbish. Wherever a road was blocked he just zipped around it. Last night the man was dependent on his sat-nav and we were stuck in a jam for an hour and a half.
I think that is linked to the William Morris story.

If I can get less stress now, I now feel confident about traveling to Canada on my own again, and travelling distances to read. What a wimp I'd become with all the years of injuries, and illness! I, who once drove across Canada and back, twice by myself; and flew back here to Blighty alone to live, with only a 6 year old child, two suitcases, a small bag of toys and a kid's bike!