Upcoming Readings: Llawn / Swansea

26 08 2019

 

LLawn

Llawn Festival: Llandudno

See Llawn website here for details of other events

milieu event

Swansea Fringe

See full festival line and events details here





JackdawQuarterly writers’ group: Summer meeting

30 04 2016

IMG_2244

Feel welcome to read a poem or an extract of prose, or to simply listen along to others on the theme ‘panic’.

 





Shijiazhuang Education Seminar – 2015

15 10 2015

IMG_1575 Having taught English in China in 2004, when the opportunity to return to Shijiazhuang to deliver a speech at a seminar centred on reading and scientific literacy was presented to me, I was eager to accept.  Then, however, came the practicality of preparing for the speech, preparing for the convoluted route via Hing Kong and preparing to deliver to a room of five hundred teachers.  Shijiazhuang had me immediately nostalgic; the population had grown as much as the skyline but the streets were still quick to smile familiar structures at me and to wink temperate skies.

I stuck to the scriptnotes I had contrived for the translators to follow, referred to Keira Knightly more than anyone has done in literacy lecture and generally bluffed my way through thirty minutes of a twenty minute session by parrying applause-less moments with terrible Chinese.

A success, sort of.  I thought. A former pupil of mine at the school sat beside me, balancing on the arm rest of the chair.

‘It was hard to believe your Chinese could get any worse.  It was also very, very long; luckily, I think you were stood on the microphone wire for most of the second half.’

FullSizeRenderIMG_1574





Red Poets #21

5 10 2015

A slightly-mauled copy of Red Poets arrived today. Or, at least it arrived and was then mauled.
Always good to see yourself in heavily-chewed print.





The Girl with a Ponytail (Picasso, 1954)

27 03 2013

(published in Cheval 4)

Image

 

Subtle, for him. Understated. Flattering even.

That first painting was angled with beauty enough

to lure me. Postman blue, pond green. Shy lips

and one eye, wide enough for two.

 

He sketched me furiously in June. Always

demanding my hair tumbled. Winding my fringe

between oily fingertips, breathing wine,

gesturing bottle after glass.

 

Every portrait a picture of a sculpture,

a Greek bust in Gallic July dress.

 

The signature brought the world to Vallauris

and each time I smiled at the cameras,

dimpled when he shared the lens. He painted

in the evening only now. His colours

darkened and he insisted my collar

inched lower to reveal secrets I would not tell.

 

In the last nights he sat me on his knees

I confessed he had become my second father.

He was sullen in August and relinquished

with the final composition, without goodbye.

 

The final painting revealed only my naivete: 

my ponytail a noose for an old man to risk

his reputation, my breasts a rectangle of

rheumatic grey. My webbed ringlets, a duplicitous stare

and my fingers knotted in his frustration.





Reasons I won’t ask him

27 12 2012

He’ll tell me the foundations aren’t level
while scratching at the corner of his eyebrows
until I sulk off.

I’ll hand him tea in soily cup
as he pegs out right angles in string
and asks me to fetch the post mix
from the boot.

‘It’s an easy mistake Son,’ he’ll say
sketching on to the plans where the door
should’ve gone. Then he’ll build
a shed from the panels I ignored
in the alleyway since spring.

He’ll need someone to foot the ladders
he brought and I should pin the felt down
in the corners he can’t stretch to anymore.

Mum might bring the baby out to play
on the balding grass, joke about men at work
and we may all pretend that’s the truth.

After the brushes are cleaned
he’ll pour the tea away,
wash the mugs.





The Longest Day

2 09 2012

Silk of midnight cloud,

the tender reminder of an endless

June evening.

It is a lazy dark tonight, the moon

a pearl earring snagged on the penumbra

of Tryfan. The model village is dozing,

Then, a siren like a baby’s tired cry,

and helicopter flit as jarred insects.

Houses light up. The fire

is young but the windless night

shoulders the crackling.

The coil of flame drips down

the Conwy Valley and orange slick

snarls wider. Mist is choked

in a panic of smoke, the coolness

charged by risk. The tear

in the cloak of the mountain

is a sick loop through to the core

of centuries. It is midnight, the fire

grows like a rumour.





Lullaby

21 08 2012

His head is scooped in the dip
of the matress, he kicks his knees
to explore familiar space.
Milked knuckles cuddle angry gums
then starling eyes search mine out
in the gloom.

I comb his feathers with an open hand and, while he is distracted
by curtains ghosting in the breeze,
I tease his mobile into sound.