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And hooray! Thrilled to discover over the weekend that one of my pieces has been chosen for publication in Your Messages. As some of you may remember (or maybe not…), the blast of doing it was long-lasting. When I was in the Lakes in late November, I felt quite bereft of the whole project, having wanted to do at least one a week to keep my hand in….Alas, to venture to Hawkshead and try to find a computer would have been breaking my pact with the Land of Long-hand. So I didn’t.

However. It’s turned out more than all right in the end. The launch for Your Messages goes like this:

Messages coverDate: Thursday 31 January 2008

Time: tbc

Venue: The Poetry Cafe, Betterton Street, London WC1

I’ll be reading, along with maybe 20 others! Sounds fabulous. I’m very honoured. Thank you to Lynne Rees and Sarah Salway for thinking of it, and for running such a tight ship. A wonderful, enriching and utterly sound idea which created a strong community, and will produce a fine artefact. Not to mention make some good money for a more than fine charity. Hats off to you, ladies!

As soon as we wake, we know it’s the sharpest frost yet this season. Just lying in bed, the air — or imagined air — feels like the holidays.

Of course, we have to struggle up and get E moving — a difficult job after many late nights of first play performances then yet another concert last night (samba band, choir, and wind band – heavens!). To his credit, by after breakfast he’s awake enough to notice the lightening sky, brushes his teeth looking out the new (lowered) windows, over the fields and out to Blean Wood. He stands at one, I stand at the other, and we don’t need to say much. Fine mist rises from the tops of hedges, and every branch and leaf, blade of grass, stands out in white relief. He’s out the door at twenty to eight, no doubt sliding first down, then up the hill to the bus stop.

Losing You launch tonight. Some long-standing friends will be there, some new ones, and doubtless others I’ve never clapped eyes on! Good. This morning I’m feeling thankful for all sorts of things.

Tree in winter frost

(image from a British wildlife site)

Today is a rainy day, and it’s Tuesday. Although yesterday was rainy too — more on that later. Anyway this morning M had her Grade 1 ballet exam. All well. I had the very peculiar experience of peeping through the skinniest little gap between two doors, and seeing her beaming face as she petit jete-ed, hands on hips, then chassee-ed across the room, her arm rising to the diagonal as she went. For most other things she was out of my line of vision, but her shiny slicked back hair and sheer delight will stay with me for quite a while!

DissonancesLast night I had what turned out to be the real pleasure of going to a ‘bulk’ bluechrome reading at the Poetry Cafe. Trains being what they are, I missed the first reader Mike Hogan, but settled down to enjoy Leah Fritz, Ruth O’Callaghan, and finally Nigel McLoughlin. I was particularly taken by Nigel’s work, and bought his new book, Dissonances, which I read cover to cover on the way home. With great enjoyment, I must say.

Oh, and it rained. The whole trip. While I was walking around London. No umbrella and a wool coat. Bleh.

If you’re interested in more bluechrome happenings, a good way to find out about them is by joining the wonderful world of bluechrome on facebook. A great stable of writers there — and entertaining to boot.

Things are roaring along. One bit of good news is that M has moved from the sofa to school today. Second bit of good news is that NIGHT TRAIN 5 is coming down the tracks.

Night Train is an annual anthology of student work produced at the University of Kent, edited by creative writing staff. Having a seen a number of anthologies of student work at a number of conferences, I can hold my hand up and declare that Night Train is amongst the slickest on the circuit. It’s professionally designed — and the work inside is really cracking, of professional standard as well. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what people said about last year’s NIGHT TRAIN 4.

The launch for NIGHT TRAIN 5 is coming up, co-MC-ed by editor Andrew McGuinness and yours truly. Details:

Night Train 5Day: Thursday 6 December

Time: 6.30 pm

Venue: Gulbenkian Theatre, University of Kent Canterbury Campus, Canterbury UK

Tickets: £8/£7 concessions, includes a copy of the book,
glass of wine, and cabaret entertainment. (Mezze food available from the Cafe Bar from 6 pm.)

Okay, I want an honest answer. A book? Wine? Music? AND readings? Not sure it gets any better. See you there.

Great news last thing last night: the London launch for Losing You is set. Hurray! Details:

Losing You front coverVenue: Crockatt & Powell Ltd, 119-120 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AE

Date: 13th December 2007

Time: 7 pm

Come one come all…. I’m pretty sure the holiday season adrenaline (or champagne?) will mean that someone will have to peel me off the ceiling, but hey.

I have to confess I love launches, love parties in general. I especially like my own birthday parties, of which I’ve had precious few, truth be told. The last one was some time ago (ahem!), when I turned 30. We invited everyone we knew and I made Mexican food. What I really, really loved was that everyone turned up with a present — this aspect of ‘birthday party’ hadn’t occured to me for some reason — and that everyone actually did sing the song. We took turns reciting (stumbling through) poetry…and then I think that was when one of our dining room chairs fell to pieces, a guest ending up literally under the table. Whereupon we burned the wrapping paper (and chair) in the fire. Ah, those were the days.

A launch is a bit like that of course, a celebration of something specific. Which explains my fondness for them. Somehow though I don’t think the kind people at Crockatt & Powell would be best pleased if we start breaking chairs, never mind chucking them in fires. So control yourselves. (Well, a bit of singing perhaps.)


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.