…WTF/every moment is precious. Who’d have thought that on the tail end of a global pandemic, a new potentially world devastating event was about to occur. I am sick of living through historical moments and so, so sick of the word ‘unprecedented’. I want precedented times only now, please.
It feels entirely selfish and strange to be thinking about anything other than Ukraine and kyiv, and those incredible people taking up arms against Russia and how utterly 2022 is is to have a Ukrainian president who is famous for being an actor/comedian who played the president in a sit-com. What a time to be alive. I’m watching WW III beginning on TikTok and Twitter because this is the world we live in today, one of mass communication via social media apps. I genuinely think that while those platforms have and will be used to disinform they are also one of the greatest ways of informing people. I’ve just read that the hacking contingency Anonymous hacked Russian state TV and played either (depending on your source) the Ukraine national anthem or Rick Astley into Russian homes. I don’t know if that’s true, I desperately want it to be true.
And so I limp to the end of February literally not knowing what the future holds, but knowing this: the birds are building nests, the rooks are in the rookery that overhangs the road and are carrying twigs about, the snow drops are out, the daffodils are emerging. The corner of my garden which was horribly flooded by a burst pipe and completely dug out during the pandemic, the corner that just so happened to be my source of spring joy with its overflowing snowdrops has, this year, come back with even more snowdrops, as if the obliteration of the soil woke them up and made them work harder to be even more splendid. Spring is coming and I will be grasping it and enjoying it. I’m so ready for winter to be over.
This month I started submitting poems from the new, new collection, which is strange but satisfying and a bit terrifying. A lot of them aren’t there yet, and the collection has been put back due to funding, but that’s a good thing because it means I now have time to put poems aside and return to them, to submit them, to tweak them and to build something I’m really pleased with, rather than rushing it.
I’ve also made progress with the non fiction book, one chapter of which I am tweaking and changing after taking advice on it. More on that when I have more news.
Reading wise I have been a bit slow. I am determined to get through Gabriel García Marquéz’s One Hundred Years of Solitude by the end of the month, it is something of a tome, and (spoiler alert) not one I’ve fallen in love with, but I hate leaving a book unfinished once I start it. Other books I read in February:
- A non-fiction book, The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, which is all about mitochondrial DNA
- Naush Sabah’s poetry collection Litanies, which is beautiful.
- Raymond Antrobus’s poetry collection, All the Names Given, which is a must read, genuinely brilliant collection.
I’ve been to several events and had the good fortune of hearing Polly Atkin and James Dermott read at the launch of issue four of Spelt magazine. Issue four marks a whole year of Spelt. We have made it through a whole year and we continue to build the magazine. It’s satisfying to see that the work we are putting in to building a platform for rural experiences outside the traditional, is beginning to work, that we are seeing more and more submissions from people who are often marginalised in the rural experience. It’s time to start thinking about funding for some of the bigger projects. The magazine pays for itself, the extra money we make on workshops etc goes into paying workshop facilitators and guest readers so that we can offer our launches for free. But we want to do more and to do more we need some capital. I imagine the next step is Arts Council Funding, but if you know me you will know how much I abhor the time it takes and the lottery that ACE funding feels like. Still, we feel we do something special with Spelt and if that’s how we grow, that’s how we grow, so watch this space.
I met new friends this month, went out for pints at the pub with one, coffee in a nice coffee shop with another and I made the effort to get myself out of the house, something I struggle with. It’s really nice to know more creative people and to have friends willing to go to events and perhaps even work on joint projects is lovely.
In February i found that the adjustment of my working life is really, really working out. I am able to fully commit to the work I am doing because there is less of it, and I am getting more time to write. Sometimes I get whole days to write, sometimes two whole days in a row and that is such a blessing. I am settling into this new routine, trying not to think too rigidly about it but becoming adept at recognising when I can realistically take time to write and it feels amazing.
I have a slew of readings coming up which I’ll update on my events page and some workshops I’ll be running and the big thing in March is the Spring Writing Retreat (digital) is all set up and full schedule details can be downloaded here. I’m excited about this and excited to be giving that whole week up for the event which, if it’s like the last one, will be wonderfully nourishing. It would be brilliant to see you there.
until next time