What I Read in 2021 February: Margaret Atwood, Maggie Mackay, Carole Bromley, Angela Readman, Andrea levy, Shauna Gross, Vic Bennett, Hannah Hodgson and Jacqui Rowe

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I’ve managed to get through quite a few books this month. I have more time to read when I’m not running the month long workshops. My total books read for the year so far is 14, so I feel like I’m doing OK. March is going to be a tremendously busy month, starting with the official publication day for When I Think of My Body as a Horse, my birthday and the launch of Horse, alongside launching the new course, Analyse This!, running Wednesday Writers, Friday Writing, Women Writers Writing, mentoring, editing and putting the last bits and pieces together for Spelt magazine. We’re going to print mid month. I have also booked two days of actual holiday off this month. You may remember I devised a brilliant system in which any over time I did would be gathered up so that I could take time off. I’m having to re-think it as every week I am accruing two days overtime, and seem to have no time to take it as holiday. I am my own worst enemy and I feel like I might need to address some underlying issues around the reasons I can’t stop still and not work for any real length of time. It sometimes feels a bit pointless, all of this, because I don’t know how to sit back and enjoy the things that are happening. Actually, I have all the tools to be able to do that, I know how to do that, but I seem to be incapable of getting off a treadmill that I’m powering with my own anxiety. What’s the point in any of this if the anxiety means I can’t enjoy it! She screams into the void, manically. Anyway, I have booked two days off after the book launch; days with no work, and I am hoping the weather stays nice so that I can get out in the garden. The March workload is probably going to do for me, but at least spring is near now and I don’t have to cope with the cold and the dark. I can have my mental breakdown in the garden at least.

Right, enough of my interminable waffling. Here’s what i read inFebruary 2021:

Margaret Atwood: Negotiating with the Dead

Absolutely loved this book on writers and the writing process. Would recommend to any writers, teachers or those just interested in the purpose of, and drive to, write. Rich in resources, yet accessible and witty. Brilliant.

Maggie Mackay: A West Coast Psalter

This was a pleasure to return to. Maggie Mackay brings past lives lived into the present so clearly. Would recommend. Buy it from Kelsey Books

Carole Bromley: The Peregrine Falcons of York Minster

This is such a good collection from Carole Bromley, I think perhaps her best. Carole has a real way of observing the ordinary and making it extraordinarily. Her poems are witty, often moving, clear, careful and beautifully crafted. Highly recommend.

Angela Readman: Cooking with Marilyn

Loved this beautifully written collection by Angela Readman. Every poem is a picnic of lush, dark imagery. Love the title poem in particular. Would highly recommend.

Andrea levy: Small Island

Absolutely loved this book. Funny, thought provoking, the characters feel like friends to me now. It’ll be one I read again. Highly recommend.

Shauna Gross: Whip It

YA fiction at its best. Loved it, desperately wanted to crawl into the book and go Roller Derby.

Victoria Bennett: To Start the Year From its Quiet Centre

Enjoyed returning to Victoria’s beautiful, delicate pamphlet. Lovely to see an ex mentee doing well.

Hannah Hodgson: Where I’d Watch Plastic Trees not Grow

Incredible pamphlet by Hannah Hodgson. Full of visceral, defiant, angry, necessary, challenging poems, poems that should be read by everyone. Highly recommend.

Jacqui Rowe: Other Things I Didn’t used to Know

Highly recommend Jacqui Rowe’s book: subtle writing, wry humour, carefully crafted poems that are never sentimental. These are strongly observational poems; documenting a human experience not often explored, the chronic illness that changes everything. Excellent.

And that’s it. If you’d like to join me and the other winners of the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition for our launch on the 7th, the link is here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-poetry-business-competition-winners-launch-tickets-141853261925

Until next time, take care



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