Category Archives: News

Don’t talk to me of snow

Don’t talk to me of snow

Just give me her body laid in Longmire’s
and I’ll show you stillness, silence, chill.

I’ll show you every thread cut through
to heart, limb, brain.

I’ll show you in-and-out stopped up
to speech, song, sigh.

I’ll show you stone no touch or kiss
will every warm again.

Don’t talk to me of snow, of landscape whited out
and all ways lost. Give me mother.

This poem is by Gina Wilson, from her new pamphlet IT WAS AND IT WASN’T, published by Mariscat Press in Edinburgh. Gina’s adult poetry started to appear in 1996 and has been widely published in anthologies and a range of magazines. Happenstance Press published her first poetry pamphlet Scissors Paper Stone in 2010. She was first published as a writer for children and young adults – novels (Faber), poetry (Cape) and picture books (Walker Books). Gina has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Kurt Maschler Award and the Smarties Prize. She is a psychotherapist in Oxford.

Gina and I met in 2012 on the Writing School in Sheffield. She wrote a testimonial for my debut collection. I see our work as similar in some ways: her poems are complex, but they seem deceptively simple. Tough and compelling, no verbiage – no sentimentality Kate Clanchy wrote of her first pamphlet. Below is the poem that gives the new pamphlet its title:


Squirrels spend a lot of time
digging up and reburying their store,
checking it’s still there, taking a bite.
My mother used to be the same
with dates and nuts at Christmas.
Never an unopened box of anything
by the Day itself. Funny how people
can’t quite bury a treasure. My brother
dug up our dead rabbit by torchlight
to see if it was safe. It was and it wasn’t.



Snow, snow, snow…

Under all that snow is a silver lining: last night I made it through snow to our small local writing group where we worked with a poem by Phil James The Eskimos’ Hundred Words for Snow.  It includes some wonderful words and definitions, such as priyakli – snow that looks like it’s falling upwards, and dinliltla – little balls of snow that cling to Husky fur.  There may be some genuine Inuit words here, but the whole poem is a take-off.  So we have tlalam – snow sold to American tourists, and Mac Tla – snow burgers.

This afternoon, while fresh snow swirled outside, I looked up the details.  In his 1911 Handbook of American Indian Languages, the anthropologist Franz Boas published on his research undertaken in the 1880s.  Later the story of the 100 words for snow was deemed to be just a myth.

But the Inuit language has at least 50 words for snow and sea ice, and the Yupik about 40.  We have matsaaruti – wet snow that can be used to ice a sleigh’s runners, and pukak – crystalline powder snow that looks like salt.  That would be the snow then just outside my living room window…

My funny Valentine…

This is not a poem

the editor wrote, this is a list.
and I thought, he must be right,
he is an editor. But then I
thought there are list poems…

from afar, in love with his car,
or his wife, depressed about life,
attached to his money,
or his mother,
or some other pre-occupation,
watches trains from a station,
alcoholic, workaholic,
football high on his list,
never been kissed,
recently converted to church,
leaves you there in a lurch,
Elvis look-alike,
any man called Mike.

But I just had some great news: my poem Quantum has been Commended in the 2017 Barnet Open Poetry Competition and will be published in their anthology.



Love and a dry February

Paper Swans Press are going to publish my poem Cromer, August in their Love anthology.  I had a poem selected for Great Britain anthology, so I know Sarah, the Editor, will produce a lovely book.  It’s going to be pocket-sized…

While I was on Lanzarote I didn’t write much, but I read 11 books.  Brought back The Iceberg, in which Marion Coutts writes about the two years leading up to the death of her partner, the art critic Tom Lubbock.  The quote on the cover says “mesmerising, harrowing and radiant” and I understand why the book was awarded the Wellcome Book Prize in 2015.

As I’m giving up alcohol, I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about other drinks and am well stocked up with herbal teas:-

Moroccan Mint – with a twist of cardamon

Three cinnamon – a sweet embrace of organic Indian, Indonesian & Vietnamese cinnamon

Lemon, ginger  & manuka honey – a welcoming cup of spicy-sweet organic bliss

Linden flower –  Carmencita Tila (Sp) bought in Playa Blanca

Pure Fennel – the bright yellow flowers of the fennel plant fan out like water from a sprinkler…

When is a list not a poem?





Flash, I love you!

Here are 34 extremely short stories in an anthology of flash fiction published by Paper Swans Press. My submissions didn’t cut the mustard: they were prose poems in disguise and didn’t have that important story arc.

cover flash fiction

I’ve made a handful of resolutions.  One of these is to write more short stories and get into writing flash fiction. Many years ago I had some success with short stories: published in anthologies and broadcast.  I got a cheque from the BBC for £5, that’s £1 per minute broadcast for Diving at Calypso Bay.  I’m a total novice at flash fiction and will study the form closely.  That’s after I’ve submitted some poems to issue 3 of Strix…

The Haiku Calendar

I’m not that superstitious, but I never open a new calendar before January.  I came back from a wonderful traditional Dutch family New Year’s Eve yesterday.  The small desk calendar sits on my dining table.  I gave several as Christmas presents.  I’m keen to support small publishers: John Barlow has published the haiku calendar since the start of the century, along beautifully produced anthologies and single-author collections of haiku and tanka.

Each month has one haiku with that month’s dates and on the back are three or four more seasonal haiku.  Billie Wilson from the USA has the January slot with a haiku that mentions “winter stars”.

John has an annual competition to select the haiku for the calendar and submitting some is on my Writing To Do list…

Very best wishes to you all and happy blogging…

Finding the Words

I enjoyed my final reading of the year, at York Explore last week.  For almost ten years I used to come to York often, to facilitate on the accredited EMDR trainings, running at either the Bar Convent (a “live” convent with nuns still living there) or Kings Manor.  So, it felt a little strange to travel to York in a different capacity.  Also reading were Nairn Kennedy, an expat Scot who’s lived in Yorkshire for many years, and Laura Potts.  She is twenty-one years old, has twice been named a London Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Young Writer.  This year she received a Shadow Award in the US, and became a BBC New Voice.  Her first BBC radio drama Sweet the Mourning Dew will air shortly.  She is definitely someone to look and listen out for!