AND THIS IS THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED #thursdaythoughts @Pembrokeshire #poetrycommunity

As some of you may know, as well as holding private creative writing workshops, I also tutor creative writing for the local council. Tutoring adults can be  rewarding (discovering wonderful writers), chaotic (my lesson plans are rarely followed – someone will inevitably take things off at a tangent) hilarious (the undiscovered comedian/ the completely unaware comedian) and thought-provoking (especially with memoir writing) Every now and then I like to share some of their work.

Here is a piece written by one of my students after I set them an exercise which ended with the last line, “And this is the room where it happened.”

This is a poem by Alex Abercrombie. 

owls

 

You’re shaken awake from a jittery nap and

The mantelpiece clock shows a quarter to two.

The dog on the mat and the cat on your lap and

The owls in the attic are wakeful too.

There’s a rattle of chains and a loud ringing rap and

A creak of a door and a hullabaloo –

By the light of the moon on the cold foggy dew

A leathery, whiskery, rogue of a chap, and

A girl in a plain cotton smock and a cap and

A red woollen petticoat, float into view.

 

They say the wench brought the man down with one slap and

A knife in the ribs – though whether that’s true

Or a tall tarradiddle, I haven’t a clue.

But there are some things’ll make anyone snap and

Commit bloody murder and all – and I do

Say it’s not very nice of a toff to entrap and

Abandon a poor village lass. Don’t you?

When all that she got was a dose of the clap and

A bun in the oven (which turned into two)

And this is the room where it happened.

 © Alex Abercrombie 2018

 

 You may also like to see a prose piece on the same subject written by another student,  Trish  Power   https://judithbarrowblog.com/2018/01/17/and-this-is-the-room-where-it-happened-thursdaythoughts-pembrokeshire-humour/here

Enigma #poetry #woman #MondayBlogs

As some of you may know, as well as holding creative writing workshops I also tutor creative writing for the local council. Tutoring adults can be  rewarding (discovering wonderful writers), chaotic (my lesson plans are rarely followed – someone will inevitably take things off at a tangent) hilarious (the undiscovered comedian/ the completely unaware comedian) and thought-provoking (especially with memoir writing and poetry) I’ve kept promising to share some of their work. Here is a thoughtful piece of free verse poetry, written by Trish Power 

pixel man and woman

In the beginning:

Woman

Is an

Afterthought;

An off-cut

Of rib.

1917

Woman

Has no

Vote.

A chattel

Trapped in

Relentless

Domesticity.

1957

Woman,

Given by

Her father,

Pledges to

Obey

At the altar.

1967

Woman

Drinks from the

Poisoned chalice

Of permissiveness.

Prude or slapper

To

Jack the lad.

2017

Woman

Cracks

Glass ceilings

Occasionally.

Tables turning,

Upended.

Man

Vulnerable

Now.

As a Woman

I cheer

The Rightings

Of abusive

Wrongs.

The safety net

Growing

Underneath.

But as a Woman,

Anxious

At the

Blurring between

Friendship and

Lust.

A Woman

Welcoming

Kindness

In touches,

Supportive hugs,

Compassion

In a hand on

Shoulder.

A Woman

Who doesn’t

Bridle at

‘My lovely’ or

‘Pet’,

I want to be

Safe,

Not detached.

Feel friendship

Without fear.

Keep predators

At bay.

Keep companionship

Alive.

If Woman is

Enigma

So are

Her problems.

hands

 

 

© Trish Power 2017

 

My Last Saturday Round-Up Of the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Gathering the last of those authors and poets who joined in with the interviews to  help to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

There is still time to  enter the poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

I must say I’ve enjoyed interviewing all the poets and authors and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. There will still be plenty of news about the book fair over the next few weeks. In the meantime, do think about entering the competition and don’t forget to put your name down for any of the workshops; numbers are limited.
Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

My Fifth Saturday Round-Up Of All the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book FairGathering even more of us all together this week to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

Will be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair for some weeks to come.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

The Question asks; “Are You a ProActive and Optimistic Senior” Hmmm… #MondayBlogs

oapschat

Well, I thought about this… a lot! Yes, I think, mostly, I’m optimistic. And sometimes, I’m even proactive. It was the ‘senior ‘ that I needed to think long and hard about. What constitutes a’senior’ You see, for years I’ve always thought some people were quite senior; at least to me. Until I realised I’d caught up with them. I was fifty-nine for quite some time. Then I moved up to sixty-two.  I’ve been sixty-two for a bit as well.

 So I thought I would investigate this group. And, oh, had I underestimated my peers. The members of  www.OAPSchat.co.uk are, as founder of the site Janice Rosser says: “… looking at the website from far and wide.” Ever courteous  she welcomes visitors to  the site  from countries as far away and diverse as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, India, Venezuela, Irish Republic, Spain, France, China, Japan, Greece, Mexico, The Bahamas, Indonesia and Switzerland and cheerfully says, ” a BIG hello from the UK to you all and thank you for visiting. I hope you are enjoying the huge and varied content that is here.”

 I bet they are, as well. This is a place where the over 55s can share  news from all over the UK: local and holiday news (there’s a lovely piece written by Juliet Greenwood:  on visiting:  Portmeirion  in North Wales ), and I was recently chuffed to see a piece of my own from last year again on, Ciovo, Croatia . There are topical issues ( Top 5 UK Airports To Fly From), financial and health advice. On a personal level members can promote their talents, chat and share their interests and hobbies, giving encouragement to others to join in with their hobbies.  I was particularly interested in Chris Lovell’s piece about launching  her small boat, the Blue Nun, from Neyland in Pembrokeshire  as that’s local news for me, as well as learning about a hobby. And then there’s Tracy Burton talking about how it’s Never Too Old To Backpack! ; quite a consoling thought as I struggle along the narrow rugged Pembrokeshire  coastal path sometimes!

Portmeirion1smallCroatia JB

Portmerion                                                                     Ciovo

As you can see I’ve picked out the items that are of particular interest to me  but there are similar and constantly changing  items from all over the UK and abroad that will be of interest to many. The OAPSchat  net is spread far and wide. 

Members also give an insight to their lifestyles, share memoirs and occasions. I loved the story  written by Georgia Hill, In Remembrance – and a Mystery

Most importantly for me, when I first came across OAPSchat were the books I saw to buy there. And there is often a wealth of talent to be found. For instance, in the present issue,  Jane Lovering is being interviewed with her book: Can’t Buy Me Love  Margaret James discusses her new book; Girl in Red Velvet and Sheryl Brown, one of my favourite authors,is talking about her latest book, Learning to Love

Then there is the scope for authors to promote their own work! When I first explored the site; after I’d looked at all the different topics, read articles, noted places I’d liked to visit (one day) I saw Advertise with OAPSchat … yes I do know I’m a bit slow sometimes!! I realised that all the books on the left hand side bar of the site were advertisements/promotions of books placed by the authors. Would Janice take mine? Of course! Rates are so reasonable. More importantly the readers are there; ready and waiting; people who have so many interests must have so many preferences for genres. Some one might like mine. And they did! I had great sales.

So, for me, OAPSchat  has given me so much: new friends, new interests, new ideas, new readers. Do I mind being a ‘senior’?  Well no… as long as I’m also mostly “optimistic”. And sometimes, even “proactive”. I can cope with being sixty-two… for a few more years!

For more information on OAPSchat  check out About Us

janice

Of course I couldn’t finish without giving Janice a little space (well, she is the founder) The floor is yours, Janice.

Thanks Judith.

OAPSchat was born in April 2013 as a Facebook page. It was in November 2013 that I decided I had enough material and confidence to launch the website.

Since that day, I have been writing articles on all kinds of topics, ranging from hobbies, holidays, food and drink, memories, families, finance and much much more. I now have over one hundred and thirty seven wonderful contributors to date and articles on all different subjects are posted on a daily basis. Over 1400 articles can be read now! Members can comment via disqus, FB and Twitter.

Raffles are held monthly, sometimes more often. A newsletter goes out once a month with my plans for the coming weeks. I am an Independent Happy List Winner 2014 for founding the website.

janice cheers

   Janice celebrating at the ceremomies

Loneliness is a big scourge on our society worldwide and the website helps combat this awful isolation by coming together and sharing our thoughts and ideas. OAPSchat is well and truly born now and I hope it will continue to thrive. With your support, I’m confident it will!

OAPSchat FaceBook Link: http://bit.ly/2vnZYGh

omline hit oapschatoapschatposter

 

 

My Series of Author and Poet Interviews. #poetry Narberth Book Fair. #BookFairs. Today with Poet Jackie Biggs  

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Over the last few weeks and through July I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Today I’m pleased to be talking to the poet Jackie Biggs.

 

Jackie Biggs

 

Tell us, please, Jackie, why do you write?

It’s as much part of my life as eating, something you have to do.

What do you love most about the writing process? 

The excitement of working with An idea and creating something new – what is created is not always what we expect.

Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?

I love the idea of creating new poetry through collaboration with others. As poets, we don’t usually set out to write a book. The poems come first, then we collect them together for publication. I would like to work with other poets on projects though and see where we go with it.  My work isn’t all about publication, my poetry is written for performance and spoken word events and I already work with others on that. I am one of four women in the Rockhoppers poetry group, which goes out and performs work. We have some collaborative work already, and I’d like to do more, although it’s difficult getting four busy writers together in one place at one time.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I spent most of my working life in print journalism, so I have always been a writer, and an editor too, but it’s only since ‘retiring’ from that work, just over five years ago, that I have found the time and creative energy to write poetry.  I guess I went into journalism in the first place because it was the only way I could see that I could earn a living from some kind of writing.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I have one collection of poetry out – The Spaces in Between, published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. There are many new poems waiting to be collected into the next book, which I am currently working on. I am not sure yet whether there will be another full collection next, or two or three shorter poetry pamphlets. The favourite, I think, will always be the latest.

spaces in between

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I have thought about doing creative writing other than poetry, but I am not drawn to writing fiction either in novel, short story or even flash fiction form, although I enjoy reading them all. I have a few short stories from years ago hiding in a drawer, but I think they’ll stay there!

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Poetry for now.

What is your favourite part of the book?

There is a sort of arc of a personal journey in my poetry collection, although I haven’t made it obvious. I guess my favourite part is the last few poems, if only because they are leading to the next part of the journey for me.

How long did it take you to write The Spaces in Between?

As far as poetry publishing goes, this debut collection was out quite quickly, just three years after I started writing poetry seriously in 2012. I found I had a great deal to say in poetry after I retired from my journalism career. There is plenty more on the way too…

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I love getting feedback. Of course, at poetry readings that often happens one-to-one at the events. I do get reactions to the poetry on my blog too. A number of my poems have been picked up from there by people and read out at public events. For example the poem I wrote after Jo Cox MP was killed was read at a couple of memorials for her in 2016, and at Great Get Together events in 2017.  I also sometimes get requests from people to use poems from my book in various ways, such as by teachers who want to use them with their classes in school.  I love it when people want to use my work in this way. Poetry is not meant to sit on the page.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

No idea! I don’t think I hide much.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?  

I really have no idea. I think it is for readers to say what is of interest in my writing, and what they see as quirky …

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read a lot. I think it’s important to read if you want to write, especially to read all kinds of poetry if you want to write poetry. I also love contemporary novels, film, theatre and music. I also love to walk, swim, practice yoga, and enjoy our beautiful coast and countryside here in west Wales.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

I fell asleep on the train home from work and after going around the Waterloo loop a few times ended up in a siding at Twickenham. I didn’t think it was amusing, but the train guard did, and I am sure other people will!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I am allergic to mushrooms.

 Links to Jackie:

Blog
Twitter
Facebook

My Series of Author and Poet Interviews. at the Narberth Book Fair.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with the first of our poets, Helen Williams.

 

Helen Williams

May I start, Helen, by asking you why you write?

To write is to believe there is hope that people can communicate and comprehend one another. To write is to pick up and weave one slim thread in the warp and woof of literature.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

For it all to sound as if it came effortlessly and for it to make sense to at least one other person.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Probably Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born. I first read it when my eldest son was 10 months old, when being a female head of household, sole earner, provider and mother was relatively new to me.

Who is your favourite author?

Depends on the day of the week, the time of day, and my mood at the time. Could be Ezra Pound or H.D., Willa Cather or Colm Tóibín, Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson, Allen Ginsberg or Adrienne Rich, Louise Erdrich or Toni Morrison, Diane Glancy or Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy or Baudelaire, Robert Browning or Elizabeth Barrett-Browning — I could go on!

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Two monographs and more articles and contributions to conference proceedings etc. than I can remember. I guess I’d have to say Native American Literature: Towards a Spatialized Reading was my favourite, because it marked a departure from anything else I’d done before. It was exciting to move into this area which is fraught with cultural sensitivities and to explore so many excellent authors who are barely know in this country. But I have a soft spot for two essays on Adrienne Rich that book-ended my academic career. The first one arose directly from my experiences in a feminist consciousness-raising group in the early Eighties: “Adrienne Rich: Consciousness Raising as Poetic Method” in Contemporary Poetry Meets Modern Theory, and the second was a chance to write a retrospective account of my life-long admiration of the US radical feminist poet: “Adrienne Rich: Introducing the Selected.” in Selected Poems: From Modernism to Now. I have very happy memories of the conference at Caen where I delivered the paper the essay was based on, and also gave a reading of my poems about Southport beach.

Now I write predominantly poetry, I’m really enthusiastic about my chapbook, The Princess of Vix; I feel I’ve managed to include lots of my thinking about myth and history and combine it with my deepest feelings about motherhood and mother/daughter relationships.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

Mostly, I’ve published academic writing. In addition to monographs, essay collections, journals and things like the Cambridge Introduction series, I’ve published a lot of lectures and materials online because I wanted to share as much knowledge and understanding as I could. But I’ve always written poetry and published it in little magazines, etc. Now I’m writing, performing and publishing poetry more than any other genre. But I have also edited my mother’s memoir and I am currently writing a novel. I’ve also written a few plays and what might be a Sci-Fi children’s book. So, I’ve explored most of the traditional literary genres.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

princess of vix

The Celtic Princess of Vix, whose burial chamber was discovered at Vix, a small village close to Châtillon-sur-Seine in Burgundy, was crippled due to injuries sustained in child-birth. This sequence dramatizes poetic identification with the female, Iron Age shaman, whose distorted, pained figure marked her out as different. I delve into the strong emotions associated with motherhood, evoking a series of feminine archetypes associated with Greek, Etruscan and Celtic culture. The Vix Princess officiates at an autumn ritual that synthesizes elements of Greek, Etruscan and Celtic culture. Her daughter, the Kore, is at the heart of the ceremony, which thus becomes a rite of passage. The third major figure in this drama is an Etruscan foot soldier, who has migrated to Vix, without having yet had experience of battle. And the fourth major figure is the Hecate or Hag; thus, completing the triple aspect of the Goddess and of women’s lives, from Virgin to mother to old woman, who has seen and experienced it all before and is now a spectator of the continuing, female drama. I would say it is a must read for anyone who wants to think about what it is to be a daughter, a mother, or a grandmother. And it’s not just for women; anyone who is fascinated by Greek and Celtic myth will find a new perspective on some fundamental myths here.

What was the inspiration behind The Princess of Vix?

Complex, varied and deeply personal.

How long did it take you to write The Princess of Vix?

I wrote the first draft of the sequence over an autumn and winter. Each time I completed one poem, the next one would start to emerge. The drama gradually unfolded for me, as it does for the reader.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote and directed my first play when I was eight years old. Does that count?

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I taught in Higher Education for 33 years (39 if you count the first six as a sessional tutor); so, I guess most of my talents have been on very public display most days of my working life. You’d have to ask all the people I taught what talents I have; I know that many of them had incredible talents and I felt humbled and grateful to be their tutor and mentor.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Modernism and post-modernism had a strong influence on me from an early age, so my writing probably displays traces of US and French modernist styles. But it’s usually easier for the objective reader to see these things than the author herself. And besides bits of Romanticism probably creep in when I’m not looking.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read; tend my garden; spend time with my family, cook, walk, knit, read, watch French films without English subtitles, travel in Europe, read some more.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

I got bladder cancer, whose main cause is smoking even though I was a virulent anti-smoker all my life.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I’m left handed.

Helen’s Bio:

Helen May Williams is a poet and author, living in West Wales. She has written extensively on twentieth-century poetry and formerly taught at the University of Warwick, where she was a founder member of the Warwick Writing Programme Advisory Board. She runs the Poetry Society’s Carmarthen-based Stanza group and is an active member of Penfro Poets.  She recently completed a translation of Michel Onfray’s “Before Silence” (“Avant le Silence”), a volume of 21st century haiku.  Her poems have appeared in numerous poetry journals and anthologies. 

Helen’s Links:

‘Bath’ by Alan A Roberts

I’ve shown Alan Robert’s writing before. As one of my students he’s produced some hilarious accounts of the things that happen to him.However this one is different. I asked the students to read a prose poem and to compose their own, using the poem they found for inspiration.

 I imagined a former collier sitting alone to read Amy Lowell’s prose poem, entitled ‘Bath’:

The day is fresh washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.

The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.

Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling.  I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar.  I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me.

The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day.  I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots.  The sky is blue and high.  A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.

 coal

 

He closes the page and his mind drifts back to his life in the colliery and he writes his response:

‘I sit in the twilight and set aside her memory for mine.  A memory of a time spent below, hewing the pitch-black gold grasped so tightly in Mother Earth’s clutches and Her moaning its loss through the slatted steel roof above our heads and in the pitch-pine props on which our very lives depended.  The smell was not of tulips and narcissus but dank mildewed neglect, of lives lost, chewing gobs and fear; that familiar friend to us all. 

‘I see the stilted, shadow figures to-ing and fro-ing along the cutting lines; their fitful movements reminding me of choreographed fantoccini.  From the working guts we rush for our place within the Gorgon’s mouth to be finally spewed from that Hades hellhole into the warm comfort of the steam filled, polished white tile, pit-head bath. 

‘There sunshine squeezed through the misted bath-room window in an attempt to penetrate the discarded black dust.  Its refraction bent in near defeat until a myriad of droplets caught in its falling rays are forced to dance, and dance; our worn-out reflections pirouetted across the greenish-white, peeling ceiling.  I hear the crescendo of hands pummelling alabaster skin with its blue/black medals worn for all to see.  Soiled soap suds scatter across the cracked, crimsoned tiles until their sun-flawed transparent bubbles rock and reel out of sight.          

‘Outside the sunlight is almost too bright to bear, the stench of carbolic stalks the path home.  We had no time to play in the harvest fields but to run home and await another day of turmoil.  That day the sky was blue and high.  A kestrel hovered overhead, and there was a whiff of summer bluebells in the air.’

© ‘Bath’ by Alan A Roberts       –           February 2017

Christmas Spirit by Maggie Himsworth #Humour #Christmas #MondayBlogs

This is a festive poem from Maggie Himsworth, one of my adult students.  You’ve read some of her work before… slightly different  and fascinating. See: Fascinating slants on Shakespeare’s minor characters.  The Maid’s Account:  http://bit.ly/1NOYbSJ.  Of course you’ll know the play … won’t you!And  The Eunoch’s Voice http://bit.ly/2hfEKUl  in Antony and Cleopatra. Mardian, the head eunuch. is given a voice.

But now for something completely different…

owl

 Christmas Spirit

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house

It was totally bedlam,

Thanks to the mouse.

Rat, Mouse, Cheese, Animal, Mammal

He’d nibbled the chocolate

And eaten the cheese

So at midnight that night

I was down on my knees

Praying for Santa

To put it all right,

To give us a Christmas

Not totally shite.

The fairy was frowning,

Well, it can’t be much fun

With Christmas tree needles

Stuck up your bum.

Angel, Angel Doll, Angel With Wings

But hark, who is this

Who creeps in the dark?

A shepherd or two

Out for a lark?

Or a king bearing gifts

Gold, incense or myrrh?

Not bloody likely,

It’s something with fur.

Clipart, Fox, Drawing, Design, Artwork

A fox in the garden

Dragging at bins

Pulling out rubbish

Rattling the tins.

That’s all I need

Where’s my Christmas cheer?

I look to the sky

Where are those reindeer?

Binoculars, Search, See, To Find, Watch

And that’s when I see them

Dusted lightly with snow

Rudolf the leader

His nose all aglow.

Christmas, Reindeer, Rudolph, Snowflakes

They land in my garden

The fox dashes off

I say ‘Hello Santa’

He looks quite a toff.

Christmas, Santa, Santa Claus

`He puts his arm round me

Hmm, things are improving

But then he says

‘Sorry, got to keep moving.

I know it’s been tough

I know it’s been rotten

You’ve had a bad year

And maybe you’ve gotten

Woman, Blonde, Sad, Miserable

A little bit bitter

And very upset

But think of it this way

How bad can it get?

A lot worse than this

I’ve got to say

So for God’s sake cheer up

It’s now Christmas Day.

Christmas, Merry Christmas, Dad

And with that he was off

All in a flurry

Less incense and myrrh

More a slight smell of curry.

Christmas, Comic Characters, Father

I went back inside

To hell with the fox

And that’s when I saw it

A bloody great box.

Gift, Christmas, Xmas, Present, Birthday

Things for the kids

And something for me

I took them all out

To put under the tree.

Christmas, Map, Christmas Tree, Green

©.Maggie Himsworth 2016

The Tenby Book Fair is moving and Being Renamed…The Narberth Book Fair. Ta dah!!

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Welcome to the first post of the Narberth Book Fair.

Just to let you know that we have decided we have outgrown the Church House in Tenby.  Having searched around for a suitable place we have found the perfect venue. So the Tenby Book Fair will no longer be held in Tenby. In fact it will no longer be the Tenby Book Fair but the Narberth Book Fair. We are quite excited  to be having a new challenge and I’m sure we will be bigger and better… just in a different hall. In a different town.

From now on the Book Fair will be held at the Queens Hall there. Check out their website    https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/. As you can see it’s a vibrant and busy venue in a bustling little town full of interesting shops, antique places, cafes and restaurants. And there is a large nearby car park. But, sorry… no beach.

The date will be Saturday, the 23rd September. 10.00am to 4.oopm.

I’ve been to a few craft fairs at the Queens Hall with my books and always there is plenty of footfall.

A little information on Narberth; the former capital of Pembrokeshire boasts one of the best high-streets in the county. It’s a gorgeous little market town in the east of Pembrokeshire. Multi coloured Edwardian and Georgian buildings line the high street which has developed quite a reputation as a shopper’s heaven. many of the cafes, pubs and restaurants are award winners..

Transport:  Narberth has a railway station about a mile outside of town. And there are quite a few taxi firms based around and in Narberth. And, I’m sure, one or two of the authors who would be willing to pop there to meet stranded fellow authors 

Accommodation: Check out this website: http://bit.ly/2grbFXY. But I’m sure there are more dotted around

The History of Narberth:

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The town has grown around the walls of its stone castle, but the name is older than the castle. Narberth is derived from ‘Arberth’, the pre-Norman name for the district (or commote). This Celtic heritage is also represented in the myth and legend of the Mabinogion – ancient Welsh folk tales that were written down in the 14th century, originating from an earlier tradition of oral storytelling. Two branches of the Mabinogi in particular are centred on ‘Arberth’, which was reputedly the court of Pwyll, Prince of Dfydd.

So.. we have already had many of our usual authors wanting to take part in our inaugural book fair in Narberth. But we’re always thrilled to welcome new authors. Those interested in taking part please contact me: judithbarrow77@gmail.com 

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What Did Come Next

For those of you good enough to read and comment on my last post about my mother: http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk/memories-and-what-comes-next/, I’d liked to let you know what did come next.

We found a lovely care home for her.

 

mum

From the moment we opened the doors to Stoneleigh House in Springhead near Oldhan, we knew this would be her next home. The manager and staff were so welcoming:. we watched how they looked after the residents, we were allowed, even encouraged, to wander where we liked (and we’d called unannounced, probably at the worst time – lunchtime!), we saw the room she could sleep in.

Stoneleigh House was one of many that we visited. It’s an old ex-mill owners home. We felt it fitting that  Mum should live here; my mother was a winder in a cotton mill, in Oldham and, after the second world war, lived in Springhead.

When she worked in a mill in Saddleworth, and well before the days of Health and Safety, I would go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember the muffled boom and then the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through the small door, the sound of women singing and shouting above the noise, the colours of the threads and cloth – so bright and intricate. Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales.

mum2

 

 

We went for a visit this week. A  ten hour round trip for three hours – but so worth it.

Mum is walking; something she hasn’t done without help for the last two years, And she chatted to us; rather than the  monosyllabic answers we used to get. Best of all she is enjoying the company of the people around her  (we  ignored the rude comments – at least she’s recovered her sense of humour – and at ninety three she’s allowed  a bit of rudeness).

 

 

 

I’d gathered together as many photographs as i could and made a collage of her life. Right at the left hand side at the bottom is a baby photograph of Mum and her sister Olive. Love the ‘pudding basin’ haircuts! In the middle is Mum as a young woman and next to her my father who died some twenty years ago.

mum stoneleigh2

Auntie Olive lived with us as part of the family for many years, here in Pembrokeshire.  After she was diagnosed with dementia at the age of eighty, and it all became obvious she needed better care than we could give, she went into a lovely care home, nearby; first for respite care, and then permanently.

I sat with Auntie Olive many times; both when she could carry out a conversation, and later, when she couldn’t, we sat together holding hands and watching what was going on around us. The poem below was one I wrote then after a particular incident – you’ll soon see why. ( Obviously it’s mostly a collection of snippets over many visits. And I wrote it from a first person point of view for empathy.)

Waiting for Alf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ask her – ‘what time is Alf coming?’

She answers, ‘soon, Alice, soon.’

 

I try to stand, to check my hair in the mirror – but fail.

My frailness surprises me – but holds no terror.

Across the table Lily’s still picking her nose.  ‘Your face’ll cave in,’ I tell her.

Then see that the new feller has pissed himself. Again!

I shout for the woman. ‘When are you going to see to this one?

And what time will Alf get here?’

 

She ignores me.

 

Olga’s crying: not really a cry – a drone; a painful keening under her breath;

Mourning death; her own?

 

Gets on my nerves!

 

She’s serving tea.

I grab her arm. ‘What time is Alf coming?’

‘Soon, Alice, soon.’

I snort – she’s lying, you know: she thinks I’m daft,

But if I say his name he’s still here and the shaft of pain is easier to bear – just.

 

I must stand up!

 

Ivy’s muttering,

Sylvia sings; brings memories to life.

The new chap, now dry, nods and snores.

 

The noise!

 

‘Time to move.’ I shove back the chair – push on the table,

Wait until I’m stable.

Then, poised, look down: my slippers are tight –  are they on the wrong feet?

I shout for the woman – she says, ‘no, they’re right’,

 

I ask again, ‘when will Alf arrive?’

 

She doesn’t answer, so I pinch her. ‘When will he arrive?’

And she replies, ‘soon, Alice, soon.’

 

Silly cow!

 I should say that as the lady in this particular incident said the last two words of this poem, she winked at me and laughed. ‘Who’s the daft one here, then?’ she said.